Sunday, April 26, 2009

Playoff Truth Or Dare

Every game offers more evidence that this year's playoffs are a two team race between Cleveland and LA. The other 13 teams (adios, Detroit) have too many glaring weaknesses to take down either of the Big Two. With that in mind, I'd like to offer up my version of Playoff Truth Or Dare, where I ask the contenders a tough question and challenge them to do something about it. Some of these suggestions pertain to strategy for this year, some are more based on long term solutions.

Truth: After watching Shitbury put up an abysmal -17 plus/minus in a mere 5 minutes of PT yesterday, can you, Celtics brass, finally admit it was a mistake to sign him?
Dare: Bench his ass for the remainder of the postseason and make do with Eddie House as your backup PG.

Truth: Why the fuck are Vinny Del Negro and Del Harris coaching your team? It's like having a caddy that can't tell the difference between a putter and a nine iron.
Dare: Now that you have a star to build around (Derrick Rose), give him a real coach to listen to before he gets all Ricky Davis on your ass.

Truth: Have you noticed that Miami doesn't have a decent center on their roster? No, wise ass, Jamaal Magloire and Joel Anthony do not qualify.
Dare: Instead of jacking up 15-20 3s a game, pound the ball inside to Al Horford. Attack the fucking basket with slashers Smith, Williams and Johnson. Get DWade in foul trouble. Quit being pussies.

Truth: You're resting your playoff hopes on Jermaine O'Neal staying healthy? Really?
Dare: This offseason, find a big man not named Jamaal Magloire or Joel Anthony.

Truth: Are you serious about having Paul Millsap replace the almost-certainly departing Carlos Boozer as your PF next year?
Dare: You're not going to win this series against LA, anyway. Start Millsap now and get him some playoff experience so he'll be ready next postseason.

Truth: Do you honestly believe you can win a ring with a PF (Nene) playing center for you?
Dare: Admit you fucked up and find a way to get Marcus Camby back next year.

Truth: Do you really think you can win a series playing Steve Blake 30 minutes a game?
Dare: Move Roy to point, play Rudy at 2. AND definitely start thinking about ways to acquire Deron Williams or CP3 this offseason (they both have opt out clauses).

Truth: Can you admit now that Crazy McLazy actually WAS the reason for all those first round losses?
Dare: Do anything in your power to ensure that he never wears a Rockets uni again.

San Antonio
Truth: Why are you still giving big minutes to Michael Finley and Matt Bonner?
Dare: Take the air out the ball and play half-court, defensive, Spurs basketball. To use the old adage, 'Dance with what brung ya.' Give that PT to Bowen, Udoka, George Hill and Dirty Kurty. Dallas is soft; get physical and give them a chance to prove it.

Truth: Do you honestly think you have a title shot just because you're beating the Manu-less Spurs?
Dare: Rebuild this entire roster, Cuban. You'll see in about two weeks (or less) that it doesn't work. Trade Dirk. Trade Kidd. Trade Howard. Start over.

In closing, I should also point out that my predictions for this year's playoffs, particularly the Western Conference, have been pretty horrific so far. I had Portland, New Orleans and San Antonio advancing and two of those three teams are teetering on the brink of extinction. Who knows? Maybe there's a miracle comeback on the horizon. The NBA is where amazing happens, right? I think I just puked in my mouth a little.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Early Playoff Trends

The first punches have been thrown. The tone has been set. In each playoff matchup, a pattern has been established.

Predictably, Cleveland has made Detroit its bitch.

Without KG, the Celtics have shown plenty of grit but little defense. In two games against the Baby Bulls, Boston's surrendered an average of 110 points per game. Maybe Tom Thibodeau ain't such a genius, after all. To make matters worse, they lost Leon Powe to a torn ACL. AND Rajon Rondo's dinged up after rolling his ankle. So...that means Doc has to trust Shitbury and Mikki Mouse just to get past the 7th seed. Fugly.

Orlando choked away an 18-point lead and lost Game 1 to the scrambling Sixers. The run started when Dwight Howard left the game after getting scratched in the eye, supporting the theory that the Magic are a one-man team.

Josh Smith and the Hawks attacked the rim all night and blew out the Miami Heat, who've played the entire season without a legit big man to protect the basket. Shocker.

The Lakers toyed with Utah twice, letting them get just close enough to sniff victory before snatching it away with a smirk.

Denver rode a red-hot Chauncey Billups to a win over the Hornets. George Karl instructed career scrub Dahntay Jones to 'get all Bruce Bowen' (holding, scratching, clawing) on Chris Paul, which resulted in lots of shit talking between the two. If I were Chris Paul and Dahntay Fucking Jones was mouthing off to me, my only comeback would be, 'You're Dahntay Fucking Jones. Don't talk to me. Stick to grabbing my balls.'

Pictured: Jones making a play on the balls

In the Seniors Division of the playoffs, Dallas managed a split in San Antonio, ensuring that this series will go waaaaaay too many games for Tim Duncan's balky knee.

Portland inexplicably decided to single-cover Yao Ming in Game 1. The Great Wall made all nine of his shots and Houston rolled. Much was made about the Blazers inexperience but really that loss was Nate McMillan's fault. McMillan awoke from his coma and threw different doubles, fronts and schemes at Yao in Game 2 and Portland clawed back to even the series. Brandon Roy has absolutely destroyed the defensive tandem of Battier/Artest.

On a sidenote, if this injury does indeed end the long and prosperous career of Dikembe Mutombo, I salute the man responsible for the finger wag and legendary 'Who wants to sex Mutombo?' quote.

And for the love of Fuck, someone please tell the NBA to stop running that fucking retread 'Where Amazing Happens' bullshit. That piano loop was tired LAST YEAR. Erik Satie's rolling in his fucking grave right now.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

First Round Predictions

Detroit lost their heart and soul when they dealt Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson earlier this season. Additionally, Rasheed Wallace has never seemed more apathetic. The Cavs should steamroll Detroit in 5 games and officially end the Michael Curry Era in Motor City.

With the news that KG might miss the entire postseason, the first round of the playoffs just got a lot more interesting for Boston. Suddenly, they become a perimeter team that relies on Paul Pierce to do all the heavy lifting on offense AND check John Salmons on D. Since adding Salmons and Brad Miller, the Bulls have settled nicely into their roles. I'm still picking Boston here but it'll be a long, drawn-out series that drains Pierce and Ray Ray for whoever they face next. The champs are wobbly but I don't see 'em getting KO'd by this glass-jaw Chicago team. Celtics in 7.

*UPDATE: Danny Ainge just had a heart attack; the Shitbury Curse continues.

I'm not a big fan of the Orlando Magic. Teams that rely too much on spot up shooting rarely win titles. Factor in the recent injuries to Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis and this bunch seems ripe for an upset. Too bad Philly ain't good enough to capitalize. Watching pencil-neck Samuel Dalembert try to check 'roid beast Dwight Howard will be laughable. Orlando in 6.

Atlanta's home court advantage will be the deciding factor in a high scoring series featuring some eye-popping performances by Dwyane Wade. Al Horford will dominate inside for the Hawks on both ends. Atlanta in 7.

In the West, I don't see Utah's feeble defense offering much resistance to the high-octane Lakers attack. LA in 5. Yawn.

The Hornets will upset the Denver Nuggets in 6 if Tyson Chandler is healthy enough to play. Without him, I'll go with Denver in 7. Even though they added Big Shot Billups, Denver still ain't going very far in the playoffs without a true center. A memo to Kroenke The Donkey: imagine how good your team would be if you didn't give away two-time Defensive Player Of The Year, Marcus Camby.

Manu Ginobili's out but the Spurs will still handle the toothless Mavericks and their pussified brand of non-contact basketball. San Antonio in 6.

Probably the most evenly matched of all the first round series. The Rockets can put Artest or Battier on Brandon Roy, forcing other Blazers to beat them. On the flip side, Portland can throw the Vanilla Gorilla and Greg Olden at Yao. So really, it becomes a battle of supporting casts. Look for a big series from the Blazers bench as Portland advances by a hair in 7.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Between The Legs

Many basketball purists consider the between-the-legs dribble a flashy bit of showmanship that detracts from the overall quality of the game- a classic case of style over substance. Others think the maneuver's an effective way to escape pressure, a change of direction when the defender is playing too tightly to risk a crossover.

Since the NBA doesn't keep track of this stat (I mean, why the fuck would they?), I decided to document it myself in last night's contest between LA and Denver.

Based on my unofficial tally (watching the game on TV, I might have missed a few while the camera wasn't on the ballhandler), here are the results for most between-the-legs dribbles:

The Winner

Chauncey Billups- on 24 different occasions, Mr. Big Shot went between the legs, including one possession where he did it five times in a row. Ironically, most fans would label Billups a 'blue collar player' who 'plays the game the right way.' You might expect Allen Iverson to go BTL 24 times in a game, but Chauncey?

Runner Up

Kobe Bryant- given his penchant for flair, I fully anticipated Bryant winning this thing outright. Imagine my shock when he went BTL a mere 11 times. Granted, the Lakers were in control most of the night so maybe he didn't feel the need to exert much energy.

Bronze Medalist

Jordan Farmar- went BTL an astonishing 8 times in 14 minutes, mostly just to look cool. Fucking show-off.

Anthony Carter (3), Luke Walton (3), Carmelo (1), JR Smith (1) and Shannon Brown (1) all did it, too. Dahntay Jones, who I'm convinced is the worst player in the league not named Kwame Brown, also tried it once, resulting in an immediate turnover and bucket for the Lakers going the other way. Stop dribbling, scrub. Stick to fouling.

Incidentally, Denver won the overall BTL battle, 30-22. And lost the game by double digits, of course.

Random notes:
Andrew Bynum looked strong, if somewhat rusty, in his first game back; Cheryl Miller's fashion sense continues to be as clueless as her commentary. Did you see her tie-dye/braids outfit? Wack. Scott Pollard was probably watching on TV, laughing his ass off; LA showed some nice pressure and trapping with their second unit; Without a true center, Denver ain't winning shit in the playoffs.