The Basketblog

Celebrating the love of the Game.

NBA Season Preview

I had to wait a day to post this preview. I had to see for sure whether the Spurs are actually better than the Trail Blazers. Turns out, they are.

In fact, nearly all logic tells me that the Spurs are once again the best team in the league and will win the championship. Only I’m not going to pick them. I’m going to pick Phoenix. San Antonio might be the best team with the best coach, but they’re not going to have the fire that Phoenix will this year. Think about it: Steve Nash and Grant Hill both know they’re on the down side of their careers and may not have another chance. They’ve already talked about trading Amare Stoudemire or Shawn Marion; this might be the last year their core group is together. I think Stoudemire will be improved, and the veterans will not let them lose. They will upset the Spurs in the playoffs even though they’ll be the higher seed.

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October 31, 2007 Posted by | Atlanta Hawks, Big Ten, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, LA Lakers, NBA, New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Seattle Supersonics, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’d like to issue a public apology

To the San Antonio Spurs. When I picked the Nuggets to knock you out, I did not realize that you were the best team in the league. I did not realize that you were great at all of the following:

Inside defense
Perimeter defense
Inside scoring
Perimeter scoring
Team defense
Hustle plays

I also did not realize that your point guard would be #3 in the playoffs in points in the paint, that your power forward would be #2, and that your coach could outcoach anyone in the league in his sleep right now. You’re well on your way to beating four of the hottest teams in the league without going to seven games in any of the four series.

Maybe you needed a little luck in getting Amare and Borris suspended for a game, but you were still 3-2 in games that those two played. Carmelo and Allen? Carlos and Deron? Tim and Tony are better than either combo, and their supporting cast is far greater.

It took me three series, but I finally caught on. If the great duos of the Jazz and Nuggets couldn’t touch you, and the great trio of the Suns couldn’t touch you, how is Cleveland’s one-man team going to win a game against you? They won’t.

June 10, 2007 Posted by | Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NBA Playoffs First Round Awards

Because completely pointless things like this are what I do.

MVP: Baron Davis
He was simply unstoppable. Dallas had no one on their roster who could contain his penetration, and he was so on fire from three-point range that Dallas couldn’t let him do that. He had a points/rebounds double-double twice, as a 6’3″ point guard. He increased his three-point shooting percentage from 30% to 46% from the regular season. When he was off the court, Golden State struggled; but when he was on, they controlled the best team in the league. Stephen Jackson might have starred at times, but they would have been swept without Davis.

Honorable mention: Jason Kidd and Carlos Boozer
LVP: Dirk Nowitski
His defensive numbers admittedly went up, but playing against a small, fast-paced team, that is to be expected. His offensive numbers all went way down though, especially his shooting percentages. His three-point percentage was half what it was during the regular season, and his overall shooting percentage was 12 points lower. He did not help matters by saying that the season was basically over if they lost game 4…which they did.

Best player on a losing team: Antawn Jamison
He had to be great to give his team a chance, but even that wasn’t enough to avoid the sweep. He averaged 12 points and 2 rebounds more than his season average during the series, including 38/11 in game 3.

Honorable mention: Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Tracy McGrady, and Josh Howard

Note–Five of the top six scorers in the first round were on losing teams (LeBron was the exception).

Best Coach: Don Nelson
It was unfair to Dallas that they had to face the coach that built them in the first round. Nelson was brilliant in getting those guys to play together and get the wild and crazy style to work. They harried Nowitski into a terrible series and came up with the big plays down the stretch in every game besides game 5. None of that would have happened without Don Nelson.

By the way, my dad is a history teacher at a local high school. The other history teacher at the school is the niece of Don Nelson.

Best team performance: Phoenix over Los Angeles 126-98 (game 2).
Phoenix was great everywhere in this game. They shot over 54% from the field and 42% from three-point range; all five scorers were in double figures, but Leandro Barbosa led them all with 26 points. Everyone on the roster scored at least 2 points. They only committed 8 turnovers and held Kobe Bryant to 15 points.

Honorable mention: Golden State over Dallas 111-86 (game 6), New Jersey over Toronto 102-81 (game 4), and Utah over Houston 81-67 (game 3)

Best individual performance: Jason Kidd (game 3)
There were several I wanted to give it to, but 16/19/16 was too incredible to pass up. As I mentioned, that has only been done twice before in NBA history, which was more rare than the other performances.

Honorable mention: Kobe Bryant (game 3), Steve Nash (game 4), Amare Stoudemire (game 4), and Baron Davis (game 1)

Here’s to more great performances in the second round!

May 6, 2007 Posted by | Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, LA Lakers, NBA, New Jersey Nets, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NBA Playoffs: May 2

San Antonio/Denver Series Recap
Well, Carmelo Anthony played well in a playoffs series but is still out in five games. Each game someone else struggled, whether it was Iverson shooting below 30% or Smith throwing up bad shots or Nene getting into foul trouble. But that’s why the Spurs are great. If someone struggles, there is always someone else there to step up, and their defense keeps them in games even when everyone is struggling. Offense will come and go, but defense is always based on effort; you can always play well on defense.

Fortunately I have the solution that will get Denver into the second round and beyond: Jason Kapono. Denver has the inside presence with Nene and Anthony (on offense) and Camby (on defense). They have the ballhandling and passing with Iverson and Kapono. They were gelling and developing good chemistry at the end of the season. All they were missing was a good shooter, and Kapono is a great shooter. If Denver doesn’t get Jason Kapono in free agency, they aren’t trying hard enough.

Phoenix/LA Series Recap
The Lakers put up a pretty good fight–something you’d expect out of Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson. They certainly put up more of a fight than Orlando or Washington…or Miami. But they never really had a chance in this series; it’s good that they finally just let Phoenix advance.

I said that the Spurs could advance even when someone has a bad game. Well, that’s what the Suns did tonight. Steve Nash was not at his normal level for most of the game, but Phoenix still led throughout. That’s what it takes to contend for a title.

Unlike Denver, I have no solution for the Lakers. Their team just isn’t championship material at this point. There has been talk of Kevin Garnett coming in, but I don’t see that helping much. He’s just a rich man’s Lamar Odom. I guess Kobe and Garnett sounds a lot like Jordan and Pippen, but the Bulls always had other pieces. The Lakers have no one like a Ron Harper or a Dennis Rodman; unless the younger players like Luke Walton and Andrew Bynum/Kwame Brown develop quickly, or they add another role piece, the Lakers will not be a factor next year.

The Suns and Spurs, however, do not need any more pieces to win a championship. The winner of that series will win it all.

May 2, 2007 Posted by | Denver Nuggets, LA Lakers, NBA, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two comments on the Denver/San Antonio Series

Here’s a stat I never want to see again: San Antonio’s bench scoring vs. Denver’s. Statistics are often deceptive, and this is the king of deceptive statistics. Just think about it: Denver wants to get 30 out of Anthony and 30 out of Iverson. They also would like 15 out of Camby and 15 out of Nene. Throw in 10 for Steve Blake and add up the totals: 100. Unless Denver is averaging 130 points per game, they don’t really want the bench scoring 30. As I mentioned earlier, Denver’s starters all played at least 37 minutes in game 1. The entire series, no Nuggets player has played fewer than 35 minutes. Meanwhile, the Spurs have Manu Ginobili and Robbert Horry coming off their bench. Why don’t we start looking at starters’ scoring and wonder why the Nuggets haven’t swept the Spurs because of their huge advantage in that area?

As mentioned here first, JR Smith was playing really poorly, especially at the end of the game. Maybe George Karl read my blog before deciding to bench him. It would have been better if he had coached Smith rather than benching him, but maybe he has tried to coach him with no success before. If Denver doesn’t win now though, I’m blaming Karl. You can’t bench a guy who was one of your key players all year (and whom you brought in just to take pressure off of Anthony in the playoffs) without having an effect on the series. If you’re not going to win without him, you might as well try to play with him.

May 2, 2007 Posted by | Denver Nuggets, NBA, San Antonio Spurs | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Preview of games tonight

Phoenix vs. Los Angeles

I hope that everyone can understand just how over this series is, and the game doesn’t start for another 12 1/2 hours. The only way this series is not done tonight is if Kobe drops 60. Otherwise, curtain call for LA. There really needs no more explaining.

Denver vs. San Antonio

As much as I hate to see it (because I really want to go watch Denver play in a few weeks), I don’t think that is going to happen. The several things that I mentioned that they need to do to win ball games late they have not done. Notice, they’ve lost three straight. They couldn’t get the job done in Denver, I have a hard time seeing them doing it in San Antonio. Obviously, they’ve done it once, and no team with AI and Melo would surprise me with a win. I don’t care who they are playing. I’m just saying that I see it as unlikely.

A correction on previous Yao Ming blog: No one could stop Yao when he learns to dunk. I didn’t give Yao enough credit for his weight. Did anyone else realize he weighs 310!!! Tim Duncan, who I still maintain would have one of if not the best chance to guard him, gives up 6 inches and 50 pounds!! Ya, I would take Yao over almost everyone in the league……if he learns to dunk the ball.

May 2, 2007 Posted by | Denver Nuggets, LA Lakers, NBA, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NBA Playoffs: April 30

Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson were unstoppable all night long–no one on the Spurs’ roster could guard them. So somebody tell me–why were Steve Blake and JR Smith (who hadn’t hit a shot between them) taking the shots at the end of the game? There are some problems across the board if that’s happening. The coach should make sure that doesn’t happen; the stars should make sure they get the ball; the slumping players shouldn’t even think about shooting unless they absolutely have to (which they did not in any case). I like George Karl, but I’m starting to think that he’s a bad fit for this team.

Cleveland/Washington Series Recap
So Washington didn’t really have a chance in this one. I don’t think anyone who wasn’t on the Wizards’ roster really thought they did. I thought they could maybe steal a game or two if Jamison played well, but he had an incredible series (32/10) and they still got swept. I don’t know what more to say because there wasn’t much to learn about either team except that it’s tough to win without your stars.

I don’t have much tonight because I have to finish some homework, but I promise that soon I will give you a comparison of the stars of the 2003 draft class.

April 30, 2007 Posted by | Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, NBA, San Antonio Spurs, Washington Wizards | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Golden State vs. Dallas

So, this has been the best series of the year, thus far. Not because they have had the best games consistently (see San Antonio/Denver series), but because its one of the worst good teams in the NBA taking it straight at the best team in the NBA. No matter how far down these Warriors get, they just keep coming back. They’re like a fly at a barbecue: no matter how many times you swat at it, its still coming back unless you kill it. The only thing that I have against them is they sometimes allow to many offensive rebounds and I think sometimes they tend to get a little out of control. But coming from one who played on a team that loved to run and press and get up and down the floor, that is gonna happen, but that rarely acts as an Achilles’ Heel.

Heres the other aspect of this. How many breakdowns are these Mavericks gonna have? Not just defensively, but offensively! I mean, they are just completely missing defensive assignments and giving up easy lay-ups and sometimes fouls to go with it. They are not taking care of the basketball and not executing the offense we’ve seen all year. This is not the 67 win Dallas Mavericks team.

As this game continues to close. and Dallas continues to just look worse and worse, I realize how GS completely changed one of the things that I said I feared of them. I said they don’t play lock-up defense to close games. They have held Dallas to just 4 points in the final 3 minutes I believe, while scoring 16 points of their own. This is why they will go on to win this game. On the flip side, this is also why they did not go on to win Game 2. I know I had picked Dallas in 7 and do kind of want that to happen (only to watch PHX beat them as I’ve called since November), I’d also like to see GS win this series. Although, hold on, Dirk has hit two miracle threes and has 3.2 seconds to do it again…….STOLEN INBOUND PASS!!! wow!

As we stare at a stunned Mark Cuban, lets recap what we’ve figured out here. First of all, I really wish I’d given Don Nelson more credit and Dirk less credit than I did. I knew that Nellie knew how to coach against the Mavs, but I didn’t know that he could do this to them. I thought that Dallas was to good, to deep, and too experienced to lose this series. But these Warriors to not quit!! They have been down in these games repeatedly and every single time, they make runs to pull themselves back into this game. They are one of the two most fun teams to watch in the league. Possible second only to PHX.

Charles Barkley= greatest addition to the sports broadcasting world ever! All who disagree are ignorant fiends!

April 29, 2007 Posted by | Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, NBA | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Denver/ San Antonio series

This is my third attempted blog, lets see if it works

How great is this series? First, underdog Denver goes into SA and steals one at home. (side note: Bill Walton = dumbest sports broadcaster of all time) Then San Antonio bounces back and leads game two well into the fourth quarter when back comes Denver and comes to within 3 points with only a couple minutes left. They would have cut it to 1 if Camby hadn’t missed that dunk from the baseline. But they ultimately lost Game 2. Now, here they are back in Denver and in a nearly identical situation as Game 2. They are down until about 5 minutes left and then come storming back. Heres my take.

How awful have the officials been late in this game? Granted they have been terrible in general and are favoring neither team, but still, whats the deal? Heres the problem with these Denver runs. They seem to find ways to score frequently late in games, but this poses an issue. You can score all you want, but if your down 10 and trade baskets, your going nowhere. I know its cliche to say defense wins games, so I’m not gonna say it. But defense caps runs, thats what it does. Defense causes runs. You can not rally late in a game unless you get stops! This is what Denver is failing to do. Giving up Offensive Rebounds, three pointers to Robert Horry, and allowing way to much penetration by Parker and Ginoboli. They are pulling these games close enough that if they could just stop one of those three things, they could cap off another game and take control of this series. Unfortunately, they have not done that late in the game. Will they, who knows? As soon as they do, they’ll win more games.

I hope they do so Evan and I can watch Denver play PHX while we are in Denver, that’ll be cool.

April 28, 2007 Posted by | Denver Nuggets, NBA, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NBA Playoffs: April 25

Keep this in mind in the aftermath of the Denver/San Antonio game: Allen Iverson had a bad game. Give Iverson an average game, and Denver leaves San Antonio with a 2-0 advantage. The Spurs’ crowd sounded nervous during the Nuggets’ run and for good reason. They might not have won this game, but they played the Spurs extremely well in San Antonio and seem likely to win at least one game in Denver.

Good news for the NBA: Baron Davis gave them a reason to suspend him for a game and help ensure that one of the star franchises advances to the second round. The NBA is the most corrupt professional sports league besides professional wrestling. For the record, Davis did nothing more than Tim Duncan did in his now infamous ejection and did less than Bruce Bowen does on every single foul called against him. I thought the NBA was going to crack down on whining this year? Nothing has changed, and it literally sickens me.

April 25, 2007 Posted by | Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, NBA, San Antonio Spurs | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment