Thursday, April 29, 2010

Grace Out, Fugly In

No more Dwyane Wade for this year's playoffs. Bummer. Dude's one of the most electrifying players ever. And he's good for at least one "how the fuck did he do that?" moment per game. His flush on Varejao was easily the most impressive play of this season to date. Nothing else even comes close.

Stephen Jackson's done for the year, too. Hobbled and humbled, Jax went out timidly as his 'Cats lost in four straight. The only time he showed any fire is when his headband was dislodged.

Also officially on vacation is the explosive Derrick Rose, whose Del Negros were no match for Cleveland.

That's three exciting players we won't be seeing again for awhile. Boo. Instead we get an extra helping of Matt Barnes and Floppy Varejao. Yay.

Now, I'm not one to favor style over substance but I'm terrified of a Magic/Spurs or Cavs/Spurs Finals. That's some fugly basketball right there. Like 70-62 final score fugly. Like 20 missed FTs fugly. Like lowest Nielsen ratings in major sports finals history fugly.

Pictured: foul on you, Dwight

Monday, April 26, 2010

Playoff Counter Punches

Some good coaching going on this week in the playoffs.

Alvin Gentry realized pretty quickly that Steve Nash was getting dominated by Andre Miller. So the oft-maligned skipper of the Suns put old-ass forward Grant Hill on Andre. He also told Hill to extend his D to 3/4 length and to deny him the ball. On paper, you look at this move and think "How the hell can that work? Hill's older than dirt and he doesn't have the footspeed to stay with a PG, right?" Wrong, actually. That one move changed the tone of the series. After getting blown out in Game 1, the Suns have won three of four since the adjustment.

Doc Rivers witnessed Dwyane Wade annihilating his Cs in the first half of Game 1. In the 2nd half, he started doubling the superstar and making lesser members of the Heat beat them. It worked. Boston won the first three games of the series using that same strategy before Wade erupted for 46 to stave off elimination.

Scott Skiles made a minor tweak, too. After losing Games 1 and 2, he switched Luc Richard M'bah A Moute from Joe Johnson onto Josh Smith. The Deer won twice at home since that assignment change, although many would argue that the Hawks just suck donkey balls on the road.

Pictured: Snotty Scotty screaming "DEL-FIIIII-NOOOOOOO!!!!"

Monday, April 19, 2010

First Punches Thrown

You've heard it mentioned numerous times before: teams that win Game 1 usually end up winning a seven-game series.

Well, in an exciting and physical round of Game 1s, some very important precedents were established over the weekend.

Cleveland welcomed Shaq back and the big fella looked motivated and surprisingly agile. If O'Neal plays that well on a nightly basis, the Cavs will crush not only Chicago but the rest of the East.

UPDATE: Saddled with foul trouble, O'Neal was less effective in Game 2 but the Cavs won anyway.

Atlanta's frontcourt did whatever they pleased against the Bucks bigs. Brandon Jennings returned the favor by galloping right past the horrifically bad defense of Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford.

Boston decided to start doubling Wade in the second half and the Heat predictably folded. The Cs would have had major momentum going into Game 2...but then KG had one of his rabid spells and got himself suspended.

Steve Nash cannot guard Andre Miller. The Blazers have now won 16 of 20. They're a different team with Camby. Still, the Suns missed so many wide open shots, shots they usually make in their sleep.

Speaking of snoozing, the Bobcats are probably seeing Dwight Howard in their dreams. The dude blocked nine shots against a team that wasn't even going inside most of the game. Ridiculous. Anyone who doesn't vote Howard for DPOY should be shot in the face.

Dirk scored at will over all of San Antonio's power forwards, none of whom were Tim Duncan. Why no Duncan on Dirk, you ask? Because Duncan plays center and doesn't guard power forwards. Because Duncan isn't a power forward, despite what it will undoubtedly say on his tombstone. Yeah, I went there. Again. Tim Duncan. Center. Suck it, Hall Of Fame.

And of course, Ron Artest put his stink all over Kevin Durant. Welcome to playoff basketball, kid. It's gotta be kind of rough having Artest be the guy to bust your playoff cherry. Hopefully KD isn't too traumatized by the mauling Ron Ron put on him.

While we're on the subject of defense, the Jazz played none of it. Carmelo Anthony scored more easily than Tiger Woods at a strip club. Or a roadside diner. Or a hotel party hosted by Michael Jordan. OK, I'll stop.

Back to basketball...gotta maintain focus...focus...focus...shoot the shot the same way...

UPDATE: Jazz play better D, win Game 2 on the road. Yes, the Jazz won a road game.

Back to my original point. History says that whoever throws the first punch usually wins. However, it's hard to forget the Dallas Mavericks blowing that commanding 2-0 lead in The Finals against Wade's Heat a few years back. Sometimes a game is really just a game.

Pictured: best record in the L and a 2-0 lead. And Keith Van Horn.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Where FML Happens

Sixteen fortunate teams begin the second season with renewed purpose tomorrow. But for all the downtrodden who didn't qualify for the playoffs, this is a time of reflection, a time to take inventory and figure out what went wrong. Many will look in the mirror today and think "Man, I really blew it this time. FML."

Gilbert Arenas
While his former Bullets mates Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood prepare for meaningful games, Inmate Zero sits in a halfway house (no word yet on whether it's climate controlled), left to ponder the incredibly stupid decision to engage Javaris Crittendon in a firearm contest.

Allen Iverson
Memphis didn't work. Philly didn't work. Then his marriage didn't work. Now The Answer doesn't work. Bad bad bad year for AI.

Eddie Jordan
One season? The Thief Of Baghdad (Chick's nickname for him) never had a chance. He couldn't play uptempo with tree sloth Elton Brand in the lineup and he couldn't play slow because that team has no shooters. So when they lost (duh!), the team blamed the coach. Again. Consider this: whoever's hired next will be Philly's eighth coach in ten seasons.

The Mike Dunleavys
Senior saw his number one overall pick, Blake Griffin, go down for the year before playing a single game. Then he got fired from not one but two jobs. Junior was injured himself for much of the year but when he did play, he was lousy enough to barely see the court on a dreadful team. When you're white and can't get PT in Indiana, you know you suck.

Andris Biedrins
Brutal team. Injuries. And when he was healthy, he had to listen to Donny Boozeface rip him in the press every day for being such an abysmal free throw shooter (16%!!!). Did anyone have a less enjoyable campaign than Goose? Silver lining: slightly better haircut (see below).

So, thankfully, mercifully, the season is finally over for you unfortunate souls. I'm reminded of the time Nick Van Exel yelled "Cancun" instead of "defense" as the Lakers' season was winding down. Love Nick The Quick. My man.

And for you lucky winners, enjoy the playoffs. Maybe even sip the bubbly and kiss the trophy. Whatever happens, savor this time in the spotlight because next year, it could be you everyone's laughing about. For real.

Pictured: Goose lays eggs on 5 out of 6 of these, usually

Thursday, April 1, 2010

20 Players I'd Rather Have Than Carlos Boozer

I'm no fan of Carlos Boozer. And it's not because I live in Cleveland. Or attended North Carolina. I just happen to think he's one of the most overrated players in the game today. He's a great scorer, yes. He's also a mediocre defender and a me-first guy who's jerked around both organizations he's played for. And he's about to get BIG money from somebody else. With that in mind, here are 20 current stars I'd take over Booz right now.

1 Kobe
2 LeBron
3 Dwight
4 DWade
5 Durant
6 Melo
7 DWilliams
8 CP3
9 Dirk
10 Billups
11 BRoy
12 Pau
13 Amare
14 Bosh
15 DRose
16 Joe Johnson
17 JSmoove
18 Al Horford
19 Tyreke
20 Granger

I admit that these last five are cutting it pretty close. A case could be made that Booz lands squarely at 15 after Bosh. But you'd have to want Boozer on your team to think that way. I don't.

My apologies to vets like Duncan, J Kidd, Nash and the entire Big Three in Boston who are still getting it done (for the most part) but past their prime enough to keep them out of this conversation.

I also considered putting Yao in there but my man's been injured three times in four years. Bad news bears.

Pictured: Booz teaches Yao the inspiring Jazz theme song