LeBronNY[1]

Instead of my usual Worst of the Weekend post, I decided to write about all the end-of-season storylines that are currently annoying me.

1. The coronation of LeBron James: Seven years of neverending LeBron-a-thonning has led us to this: King Crab's complete domination of the NBA.

Just ask the press.

LeBron basically won the MVP award by the All-Star break, and there's even been talk that he may become the league's first-ever unanimous MVP. Furthermore, John Hollinger's statistical wizardly has "proven" that LeBron truly is the latest next Michael Jordan...or possibly even better than Jordan himself. And with the Lakers' recent slump -- see below -- it's pretty much assumed that this will be the year James wins his first title. Meanwhile, crap teams like the Knicks, Clippers, and Nyets are scrounging around for 'Bron's table scraps.

And yet...I'm just not convinced.

Take Cleveland's loss to the Celtics yesterday. LeBron had the ball in his hands and the time necessary to stampede his way to the hoop for a tying score. Instead, and despite being 0-for-7 from downtown on the day and 33 percent for the season, he went sliding into a forced three-pointer that didn't come anywhere close to going into the basket. And while I realize his 42 points -- including 20 in the fourth quarter -- were the main reasons why the Crabs were able to come back from a 22-point deficit, I can't help but question (once again) LeBron's ego and corresponding decision making.

Simply put, that was not a good shot. It just wasn't. Not on paper, not under the circumstances, no way. And yet he didn't hesitate to take it. LeBron never thinks he's going to miss. Not in the same way a well-practiced gunslinger like Larry Bird or even Reggie Miller. Or hell, even Kobe Bryant (especially this season). When those guys attempted game winners, they took their shots. Shots they had made thousands of times, both in practice and in games. For my money, James takes too many shots that aren't his shots, simply because he's become so used to success and adoration that it never enters his mind they probably won't go in.

Cleveland's coach, Mike Brown, doesn't do his franchise player any favors with comments like this: "LeBron is a great player and we're lucky to have him. Guys, in order to be great, have to have a lot of confidence. You have to have confidence to take big shots, and at times take some risks. ... If he felt like he had a clean look at it, fire away."

See and that's the thing. Unlike a lot of other great players, LeBron has never had a strong coach hold him accountable for anything. Bill Russell had Red Auerbach. Larry Bird had Bill Fitch in the early 80s. Magic Johnson had Pat Riley. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant both had Phil Jackson. Tim Duncan had Gregg Popovich.

Who has LeBron had? Who has been there to tell him, "Uhm, probably not the best shot, big guy."? If there's a hole in LeBron's game -- and, personally, I think there is -- it's that the only coach LeBron has ever had has been LeBron. He makes the decisions. He makes the final call. And when he makes a mistake, like he did yesterday against the Celtics, the only hope is that he'll learn from it on his own, because nobody is going to teach him.

2. The Summer of 2010: The words "Summer of 2010" and "free agent" make me want to throw myself into a pit of poisonous Jean-Claude Van Dammes. Moving on.

3. What's wrong with the Celtics: Back before the season even began, the newly signed Rasheed Wallace predicted the Celtics were going to challenge the NBA record for 72 wins set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. This season has been a reminder that his "Guaransheeds" have been way off the mark, well, pretty much since the Pistons won the title back in 2004.

What 'Sheed should have predicted was that he would have the worst season of his career (which hit a new low point yesterday when he started yelling at his own coach during the game), Kevin Garnett would age in dog years, Ray Allen would misplace his jump shot for the first half of the season, injuries would plague the team most of the year, and the Celtics would struggle to reach 50 wins before getting bounced in the second round of the playoffs. Assuming they don't get bounced in the first round, of course.

Now, I just checked Boston's remaining schedule: at New York, at Toronto, versus Washington, at Milwaukee, at Chicago, versus Milwaukee. Considering the recently red-hot Bucks have lost Andrew Bogut for the season, I can see the Celtics sweeping their remaining games and that fact -- combined with yesterday's trick-or-treat win over the Crabs -- will probably fool a lot of people into believing they're on a roll heading into the postseason. Don't be fooled. It's not boredom. They haven't been waiting to "turn it on." There's no "playoff mode" switch for them to flip. These Celtics aren't good enough to win a championship. That's the only thing that's wrong with them.

4. What's wrong with the Lakers: The Lakers have dropped four of their last six games, a stretch that has included ugly blowout losses to the Thunder, Hawks and Spurs. Prior to that, L.A. had won seven games in a row (against mostly creampuff competition like the Timberwolves, Kings, Warriors and Wizards) following a three-game losing streak to the Heat, Bobcats and Magic.

That said, let's face facts: Although the Lakers haven't mathematically earned the top seed in their conference, it's highly unlikely anybody is going to catch them. I haven't looked at the tiebreakers, but L.A. would have to lose their last five games and the rest of the pack would have to win out to even have a chance. That's not going ot happen. The Lakers know this...hence their recent sloppy, careless, let's-just-start-the-postseason-already play.

When they're awake, the Lakers are the best team in the West. They have the best coach, an inside game, an outside game, and the game's top closer, who also doubles as one of best players in the league. Oh, and when motivated, they're one of the highest-rated defensive teams as well. Nobody on the left side of the country is going to beat them, but that hasn't stopped...

5. The search for the team that's going to beat the Lakers: When the "restocked" San Antonio Spurs came stumbling and bumbling out of the gates, the Denver Nuggets became the popular pick for the team that's going to beat the Lakers. And yet their early schedule was dotted with head-scratching losses to the Clippers, Timberwolves, Pistons, Kings (twice) and Sixers. Then they started losing semi-statement games to teams like the Suns (twice), Jazz, Spurs, and Lakers. Most recently, the Nuggets have dropped five of eight, which includes losses to bad teams (Knicks), middle-tier teams (Bucks), champion also-rans (Celtics), Eastern Conference contenders (Magic) and fellow Western Conference hopefuls (Mavericks).

And did I mention that Kenyon Martin threatened to boycott the playoffs because somebody filled his car with popcorn?

Then the Mavericks acquired Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler at the trade deadline and went on a 13-game winning streak. Suddenly they were the team that could beat the Lakers. However, Dallas has been a sub-.500 team ever since that 13-gamer, with losses to strong teams (the Magic and Thunder, most recently) and crap squads (the Knicks and Hornets, for instance). And some of their wins -- versus the Bulls, Clippers, Warriors and slumping Nuggets (see above) -- were what you'd call "unconvincing."

Record-wise, the Suns and Jazz are right there with the Nuggets and Mavs, only the Suns rely heavily on guys like Channing Frye and Jared Dudley, and the Jazz were exposed by their recent 106-92 loss to the slumping Lakers. And even if Utah hadn't been exposed, check out their schedule. Yes, they've been winning a lot of games, but their schedule over the past 15 games has been softer than Pau Gasol. Bulls, Pistons, Wizards, Timberwolves, the slumping Celtics, the Raptors, Pacers (a loss), Wizards (again), Knicks and Warriors...with losses to the Bucks, Thunder and Suns squeezed in.

That leaves only one team...

6. The resurgence of the Spurs: Despite restocking their shelves in the offseason -- Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess and DeJuan Blair -- the Spurs have been a second-tier team all season, mostly due to age, assorted injuries and the stunningly rapid decline of Tim Duncan. They've more or less cleaned up against bad teams while struggling against the better ones. Until recently, that is.

San Antonio has won six of their last eight games, including impressive wins against the Thunder (on the road), Cavaliers (at home), Celtics (road), Magic (home) and Lakers (road). This streak has coincided with the extended absence of Tony Parker (broken bones) and the eruption of Manu Ginobili.

Now, I've been dismissive of the Spurs all season, and during this hot stretch, I've received some comments and e-mails from Spurs fans basically demanding that I eat a little crow for sticking a fork in them prematurely. But before I do that, let's ask ourselves whether it's mere coincidence that the Spurs upswing has happened at the same time other teams are suffering pre-playoff letdowns. Let's also ask ourselves how much Manu's recent explosion might be due to Contract Year Phenomenon and whether he can continue it in the bump-and-grind playoffs.

And finally, let's ask ourselves -- and be honest -- how far San Antonio can really go without an at-or-near-the-top-of-his-game Tim Duncan. I don't care about Tony Parker's Finals MVP or how well Ginobili has been playing lately. TD has been the foundation of every Spurs championship team. Duncan's a gamer, but I just haven't seen it from him this season. If you're a Spurs fan, you're hoping he's just saving his best for the postseason. But realistically, I doubt it.

7. The New Jersey Nyets: Several months ago, I predicted in the comments section of some post that the Nyets would go on a late-season run to avoid becoming the worst team in NBA history. Some of this site's faithful readers -- and even our very own AnacondaHL -- scoffed at me for this prediction, citing New Jersey's remaining schedule.

Sadly, I've lived through way too much NBA in my lifetime, including nine of the top 10 worst teams of all time. In other words, I've been through this drill before. And every time I've seen teams escape worst-ever status by eking out some late-season wins when the rest of the league is dealing with injuries, shutting down for the playoffs or simply losing interest in anything but the upcoming draft lottery.

And just like that, the Nyets have won four of their last seven games. They now have 11 wins on the season and plan on catching the 15-win Timberwolves before it's all said and done.

But I don't care. Once they passed the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets became dead to me. Damn them. And damn all the teams who lost to them.

8. The battle for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot: I care because I'm a Bulls fan. But, really, does anyone outside of Chicago and Toronto care which team gets to be the Crabs' first round hors d'oeuvres?

9. Mike Krzyzewski's potential jump to the NBA: Does anybody really care if Krzyzwshwhateverthehell accepts bags and bags of money to become the latest college coach to stagger through a few 30-win seasons before running right back to the college ranks with his tail between his legs?

Labels:

52 Comments:
Blogger peterme said...
The only advertisement for douche I see around here is, well, you.

Anonymous Hellshocked said...
The worst thing about Lebron's godawful three pointer at the end of the game (and man was it an ugly, off balance, leaning, mishandled brick of a shot) is that if he had simply taken it to the hole he probably would have tied the game, and maybe even gotten a plus 1 for his trouble.

That Mike Brown quote...yikes. He seems to be in full on "if I just keep grinning and acting like his shit smells like roses he HAS to re-sign, right?" mode.

I don't think Ginobili's current outburst has anything to do with a contract year phenomenon. He has never been a guy who mails games in. With Duncan struggling, Parker out and Manu (this is key) actually healthy for 3 full weeks, it's natural he would become the team's focal point. His being able to continue it or not during the bump and grind playoffs, however, is a valid concern. If Duncan and Parker don't pull their weight, teams are gonna take him out of the game entirely. Given his injury history, he is also about a week away from tweaking his ankle or something like that.

Either way, as much as I love seeing the Spurs finally playing like a good team this season, there would have to be a major collapse from LA for them to beat them in a 7 game series.

Blogger stephanie g said...
LeBron will once again test whether you can win a championship when your clutch time strategy is to dribble for 18 seconds and take 20 foot jumpers and you have little to no post game.

Shelden Williams is better than Sheed. He actually runs the floor, doesn't take retard 3s, and tries to rebound.

Do we really want a LA-Cleveland finals? Think of the ignominy of Jackson and JVG trying to slurp both superstars off at the same time. Let's pray for a Phx-Atlanta series instead.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Uh, in combination of numbers 1) and 2), how did you not mention the ESPN New York front page of LeBron in a Knicks 6 jersey, which admittedly isn't even the first time this idea has even been photoshopped, let alone published.

And somewhere inbetween 5) and 7), I personally have to include the Amar''''''e post-season contract decision. Western Conference Player of the Month my ass, we shouldn't have to deal with all this shit just to get you to play at that level.

Blogger chris said...
it's that the only coach LeBron has ever had has been LeBron

No wonder LeBron wants to switch to #6 - he wants to honor Bill Russell and be the first player-coach since, um...Kevin Garnett?...to win a title.

CAPTCHA: "croptumb." I can't think of a witty sentence with this, I just like the bizarre diction that reminds me of Dikembe Mutombo.

Blogger Latin_D said...
Hmm. Well, I guess I'm going to comment on this one.

Now, I doubt the Spurs will win it all this year - they are just one good big man away from competing with the Lakers on a 7-game series. And yet I feel like I need to correct some of the points you made.

"The Spurs upswing has happened at the same time other teams are suffering pre-playoff letdowns." As a quick glance at Third Quarter Collapse (I never remember the new name) will show, the Orlando are actually peaking right now defensively, and there's been no statistical dropoff in their offense. The Cavs, on the other hand, only seem to have one speed: full ahead. (Even when they're winning by 20 in the 4th quarter, and their opponents have pulled their starters.) OKC has been beating a lot of good teams, playing just as well as anyone else. In a single sentence you managed to dismiss every single win in the last month.

"The stunningly rapid decline of Tim Duncan." You probably mean within the season, right? Because early on (first 25, 35 games) Duncan was having what was probably his most efficient season ever. Check this post I wrote about it if you don't believe me. I agree that he's not up to the grind of a full season, not if you expect him to keep his career averages, but the same could be said last season and he still played well in the playoffs. (In fact, he still has better per minute/efficiency stats than in the last 2/3 seasons.) Will he be able to do the same this season? I don't know, honestly. But "it" is a very vague concept, so I'm wary of conclusions based on whether you see "it".

"Let's also ask ourselves how much Manu's recent explosion might be due to Contract Year Phenomenon." This is just an insult to one of the most selfless, team-first, give-it-your-all-every-night players I've ever seen. A better version of this would've been "let's ask ourself how much Manu's recent explosion might be due to the fact that he's finally healthy after a number of freak injuries kept him going in and out for a year and a half." Yours makes me wonder if you've ever seen Manu play. Will he be able to stay healthy, or keep it up if the role players don't pull their weight in the playoffs, or a number of things happen? I don't know. I hope he can. But in any case, I'll never question his heart.

Storyline that's currently annoying me: the professional naysayers of the Spurs' resurgence. It's pretty obvious that the defending champions, who happen to have the best record in the league, are most likely to win it all. That's the easy bet. There's no need to diminish other teams' accomplishments.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Uh, I'd assert that the Coach K crap is mildly entertaining if only for the one-liner potential it provides. For instance:

"“No one’s contacted me,” Krzyzewski said then. “If [the Nets] do, I think ‘nyet’ would be easy for me to say.”"

Blogger Jebron Lames said...
Love you cynicism and honesty in evaluating the league. I know how much you loathe Kobe and you recognition of their potential when they are focused is humbling. I'm just glad this blog isn't run by some douche who wants to put in his two-cents about his team every day. Way to tell it like it is.

Blogger Barry said...
Doc likes to rotate his rotation, but keeping Sheed out of it seems like a good idea (he's shit now) and a bad idea (he's batshit crazy).

And by the power of Greyskull an Atlanta - Suns series would be awesome. And then LeBron chooses to sign with someone like the Nets or dare I dream, Golden State.

Blogger Will said...
Bawful- I knew you would be right about the Nyets winning 10+, unfortunately. However, they do have 0-18 as a consolation prize.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Gotta agree with Latin_D on Ginobili. Have we ever seen a healthy Manu mail it in at the beginning, middle, or end of a contract?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Completely agree about Sheed. If there were any basketball gods, they would not have given sheed a ring. Glad to watch him torpedo yet another team that was actually relying on him to deliver.

Below is quote on him from Blazer days that says it all.

"We were in training camp in 2000, and everyone knew that Rasheed never touched a ball during the summer, never did anything to get ready," Damon Stoudamire said. "But here we were running the first set of lines, and he was beating everyone in sprints. And in typical 'Sheed fashion, he was letting everyone know about it. That typified him: He had so much talent, but who knows how good he could have been if he was just selfish and worked at it? He never worked on his game. I mean, there are guys who would kill to have his skill set. But his was just raw talent. I would have liked to have seen what he could have done if he was dedicated."

Blogger Travis Wainman said...
Phil Jackson holds Kobe accountable? If accountability is calling off screens and shooting fadeaway 2 pointers, I agree.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
good thing kenyon martin doesn't play with gilbert arenas or he would boycott ever playing again. (see dump in andray blatche's shoe)

Blogger Basketbawful said...
The only advertisement for douche I see around here is, well, you.

Ooooooooooh, snap!

That Mike Brown quote...yikes. He seems to be in full on "if I just keep grinning and acting like his shit smells like roses he HAS to re-sign, right?" mode.

Seriously.

I don't think Ginobili's current outburst has anything to do with a contract year phenomenon. He has never been a guy who mails games in. With Duncan struggling, Parker out and Manu (this is key) actually healthy for 3 full weeks, it's natural he would become the team's focal point.

I agree insomuch as I don't think Manu would ever mail in a game, and he's always been a give-it-100-percent-untii-I-collapse type of guy. But that said...he's also human and coming off a couple seasons where his stock was starting to fall. Don't you think the CYP might be providing a little extra inspiration to be awesome?

Do we really want a LA-Cleveland finals? Think of the ignominy of Jackson and JVG trying to slurp both superstars off at the same time. Let's pray for a Phx-Atlanta series instead.

I would kind of love that.

Uh, in combination of numbers 1) and 2), how did you not mention the ESPN New York front page of LeBron in a Knicks 6 jersey, which admittedly isn't even the first time this idea has even been photoshopped, let alone published. And somewhere inbetween 5) and 7), I personally have to include the Amar''''''e post-season contract decision. Western Conference Player of the Month my ass, we shouldn't have to deal with all this shit just to get you to play at that level."

You write those entries, and I will totally insert them into the post, and fast.

Blogger In BC We Trust said...
LeBron is getting awfully close to the kind of player that will play an identical game no matter who his teammates are. For his first 5-or-so seasons the reason they weren't winning was because he had no one around him. You never hear that anymore, because most teams would be happy to have Mo, Delonte, Shaq (maybe) and solid role players in Parker, Gibson, Z surrounding their best player. The Cavaliers are a team that lives and dies by its best player, and sooner or later, unless he starts winning when it counts, it's going to be "LeBron's fault." Though no one on ESPN would ever say that.

Blogger chris said...
Bawful: Let me guess, the Crabs chose Mike Brown PRECISELY because he will never hold the lead crustacean accountable.

Anonymous Wormboy said...
Hmm. I would have had hopes for Denver before their recent slump. I'm more of a George Karl fan than most, and I think that his horrible health problems (the man is probably going to die) might be shaking up their team. They don't have the coaching staff to go without him. Really too bad, because I think they had a shot this year.

As much as it shocks me to say it, let's not rule out Dallas. They're very good this year. At least they may get to the brink, only to be hamstrung once again by Erik Dampier.

And I agree with you're estimate of the Spurs, but let's never rule out Tim Duncan until he has actually failed. I still think the Spurs have a good bid.

But I'm going to say no way on the Cavs this year. If Orlando can play some good hoops, they should come out ahead once again. Sure, Shaq can use his "mountain of flab" technique to occasionally shove Howard out of his comfort zone, but Shaq is way too slow and fat. He's a liability. Frankly, I think the Cavs would have been better sticking with Z and an improved perimeter.

Boston, sadly, is a non-issue. Garnett just doesn't have it, and the supporting cast is thinner yet. No chance for them.

I don't think Orlando0 can take the Lakers, so somebody in the West will have to. Spurs and Dallas have a decent chance, Denver less so, but Lakers still most likely to come out of the West, and that will be your champion. Utah, no way in hell.

Anonymous Sorbo said...
While the free agency stuff about Lebron/Wade/Bosh/A'''''mare is boring, I'm curious as to these contract/free agent scenarios:
-Who will pick up Shaq and how much will they pay him? Same for Nate Robinson?
-Pierce has a player option on his contract after this season. Will he stick around if Allen bolts, Garnett continues to wither, and Rasheed continues his boneheadedness?

Jackson calls out Kobe (He wrote an entire book about it), but he gives Kobe some leeway on taking bad shots, because Kobe's earned it with the number of game winners he's hit. Plus, if you ever heard Kobe interviewed about some of those game winners, he talks about getting to "his" spot on the floor, not just randomly jacking up crap from three-point range. He has a plan before the play starts. I feel like Lebron makes it up on the fly a little too much down the stretch. (I know I sound like I'm sucking Kobe's Black Mamba, but it's true, he's a methodical player/closer.)

Storyline #10 that will be old in two weeks: What Team USA guys will and won't be playing at the Worlds?

Anonymous Wormboy said...
PS Laughed my ass off about coach K. He's one of the all time greats, but who in their right mind thinks he could succeed in the NBA? K's schtick has always been getting guys to play their butts off and buy into his system. That's why his teams are always better than the sum of their talents (this year is a classic example). Good luck trying to do that in the NBA! Coach K would be wrecked by the first NBA prima donna who crossed his path.


And I also reject the notion of Ginobili being in contract year mode. It's wonderful to see the guy healthy. Don't rule out the possibility of the Spurs making a serious run here. If there's anybody in the league who can maximize his impact as an old guy, it's Duncan. Parker will be key, though, as will RJ. Referendum on RJ, right? No longer an excuse for being on a mediocre team. Let's see him shine.

Oh, and I'd LOVE a ring for McDyess. That would be cooler than shit. He deserves it far more than most.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Wormboy: Utah currently with a better forecast to win the conf or the finals than the Lakers (21.6% vs 24.1%, and 9.8% to 11.0%). Includes a slight edge that Eastern Conf champion will win it all. This also makes sense considering the Jazz don't have key injuries, or sucky declining players (cough Caron Butler cough) like the other teams do.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Along the themes of the ESPNNY pic I sent you Bawful, in terms of Yahoo being lightyears better than ESPN for NBA coverage, Woj of Yahoo on twitter just announced details on Kobe's salaries: $25.24 mil, $27.84 mil, and freaking $30.45 mil in 2013-14, for a 3 year total of $83.5 million, including a no trade clause.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Along the themes of the ESPNNY pic I sent you Bawful, in terms of Yahoo being lightyears better than ESPN for NBA coverage, Woj of Yahoo on twitter just announced details on Kobe's salaries: $25.24 mil, $27.84 mil, and freaking $30.45 mil in 2013-14, for a 3 year total of $83.5 million, including a no trade clause.

Wow. That kind of money can fund a lot of anal rampage.

Anonymous Sorbo said...
Sucks about the Bucks, one of two teams (the other is the Thunder) that would have made these playoffs more interesting. They basically lost their entire interior defense/offense thanks to A'''''mare giving Bogut a oh-so-gentle nudge in the back as Bogut dunked it. He probably didn't think the Aussie's elbow would explode, but still, you never push a guy in the back. That's just poor play.

Anonymous Hellshocked said...
I agree insomuch as I don't think Manu would ever mail in a game, and he's always been a give-it-100-percent-untii-I-collapse type of guy. But that said...he's also human and coming off a couple seasons where his stock was starting to fall. Don't you think the CYP might be providing a little extra inspiration to be awesome?

No doubt he is very happily showing the league that reports of his death had been greatly exagerated, but I think that for the first time in a long time he is both healthy and the team is gearing itself around him. With Parker out, he is the primary ball handler which makes him less of a spot up shooter and more of a driver. With Duncan struggling not only to finish but sometimes even to get off a reasonably makeable shot they are going less to the post and relying more on his scoring. He's doing pretty much what he has always done when the other Big 3 members get in foul trouble or miss games with injuries.

I wouldn't call this a CYP because I can see him doing this for as long as his body will allow him to, contract year or no.

And by the way, lest I sound like a gloating fanboy, I didn't think he had this run in him. I love the guy but his explosiveness is mostly gone and he is as injury prone as ever. I guess when you're a player, though, you're a player. Period. Whatever contender signs him in the off season will not regret it.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Knee-Mac, who
swore to the New York Times that he will be an All-Star next season
in the very same article where he emphatically states that he cares about baseball far, far more than he does about basketball. I think both of those things put together sort of encapsulate his career: empty promises from a guy who just plain old doesn't care.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
On a side note, I have a question. I believe Sacramento is having bad karma because of their insistence to identify with a cowbell which, I swear, they stole from Utah who used it to beat them back in the first round of the playoffs in 1999. Can anyone confirm this? Clearly it didn't help Utah win a title. Was Utah really the first NBA team to have cowbells at home?

Cowbell in Utah can be heard here as well as other youtube clips from the series.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ufFBefTSI8&feature=related

It is the earliest I could find of any cowbell in the NBA.

Anonymous kazam92 said...
Wormboy on the bit about McDyess I agree


During the Lebron 48 special (or perhaps the game after that), the man looked like his family was raped and murdered. McDyess was just devastated.



And Tim Duncan WILL turn it on during the playoffs. He's Tim Duncan. He'll be turning it on when he's 40. The man is just incredible. I became a 100% believer after that 3 pointer

Blogger matt said...
Did anyone else read John Hollinger's Insider Per Diem today?
http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insider/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=PERDiem-100405

Here's a taste...
"Has a No. 1 seed ever been an underdog in the first round?

Not yet, but maybe soon. If the Lakers draw San Antonio in the first round, which could happen, one would be hard pressed to come up with a good reason to endorse them after the shellacking the Spurs handed them Sunday. Mind you, San Antonio's dominating effort -- the second time it has thumped the Lakers this season -- came despite playing the second half without either of its point guards. "

Blogger gordon gartrelle said...
I'm also baffled when Lebron takes those kinds of shots, mostly because he can get to the rim at will vs. 3/4ths of the teams in the league.

As frustrating as some of his tendencies are, I still want to see him win a few rings. But I can't see Cleveland winning it this year. Their weaknesses are the kinds of weaknesses that are magnified during the playoffs:

bricking FTs
stagnant offense
turnovers
slipping on defensive effort
blowing big leads

They are certainly better than they were in their previous playoff runs, but they're missing something. They aren't consistent. Their chemistry and is off. Their rotations are bizarre (even when they're healthy). They cheese the hell up in certain pressure situations.

Either Orlando & LA should beat them handily, and a handful of other teams have the potential to upset them.

Blogger Caleb Smith said...
I don't really get the Tim Duncan "rapid decline" stuff. He's not the player he once was, sure... but he's still really freaking good, and as others have mentioned early on in the season he was playing some of his best ball ever from an efficiency standpoint.

He cooled off a bit, but ss of today his per 36 minute stats are pretty much equivalent to his career averages. He's shooting around the same percentage, hes rebounding and assisting the same, etc. The only real decline I see from a statistical standpoint is that he isn't getting to the line quite as much. Nonetheless his PER is actually a few percentage points higher than it was the previous two seasons.

Now whether he can handle the playoff grind? I don't know... but "rapid decline" seems to be a gross exaggeration. That would make sense if he we were talking about Garnett maybe, who is nowhere near the player he once was, but Duncan? Eh.

Blogger chris said...
gordon gatrelle: Isn't this a mirror image of last year, particularly after everyone was ready to hand King Crab a scepter after two rounds?

Blogger gordon gartrelle said...
True, chris, but last year was not really surprising. Cleveland just didn't have the players to beat versatile teams like LA and Orlando.

The Cavs' individual players (especially inside) are better this year, so people assume that the outcome will be different. The team is still too flawed to win it all, IMO...or just flawed in specific ways that typically spell doom in the playoffs (it's why Denver, with its tendency to make dumb plays and take selfish shots, can't be taken seriously as a contender).

Also, take Lebron off the team, and the Cavs are the Raptors (at best): a decent collection of players, but a mediocre team. This whole contrarian backlash to Lebron is maybe 10% about basketball and 90% about the national media and their nauseating LBJ marathon suckoff.

Blogger Dylan Murphy said...
Duncan's decline doesn't mean he's poor. He's just no longer the unquestioned best power forward in the league. That being said, I'll still take him on my team.

Blogger mg said...
I want to nominate the rim at Lucas Oil Stadium for a WotN for priving the world from one of the greatest plays in sports history. That is all.

Anonymous supersonic said...
Despite all the media buzz around it (which is annoying, I agree), LeBron is really far and away the best player in the NBA today. Deal with it.

I also agree with hellshocked, Manu's surge has nothing to do with his contract year, but rather due to good health, being the focal point with Tony out and Tim limping, and just having increased confidence (he thrives off of that, when at the top of his game he has very very little to envy the likes of Kobe in a single PO series).

Blogger winnetou said...
Hollinger's upset story posted by matt made me wonder why H. chose to exclude the 2007 Mavs-Warriors series.
(Mavs had posted one of the best regular season records, Warriors had beaten them in every match though.)

That said, the nba.com playoff picture currently pits LA against Portland in a season which saw the Lakers' first victory in the Rose Garden since 2005, without Mamba.
They still dropped the other game in Portland (without Gasol, during which Kobe took 37 field goal attempts, wth?).

Anonymous Stockton said...
Problem with Cavs is that they are not a team. It's Lebron surronded by 4 guys, who may or may not get the ball to score. Like Kobe, he wants to be "the man", and with the game on the line, he WILL take that shot. But unlike Kobe, he is not that basketsmart and doesn't have a coach that actually draws plays for the team to execute. If it wasn't for the fact that he'll be a FA, I guess most of his "team mates" would already given up on him and said "f##k off".

As for the West, I could see the Jazz beating anyone... except for the Fakers. And it's not because of Kobi, the Jazz's problem is really Lamar Kardashian. The only guy who is tall and fast enough to contain him (and is a long shot) is AK. Nobody else has the skills or the will to stop Kardashian. Not to mention Gasol...

Blogger zyth said...
no mention of it?
http://www.nba.com/games/20100403/TORPHI/gameinfo.html#nbaGIboxscore

please notice the stats of one Brand,Elton.
0 rebounds.
huh.
i was off the sixers recently, but really,Elton?

No mention of Shaq kissing LeBron's ass too?

Blogger Vasco said...
Like Kobe, he(Lebron) wants to be "the man", and with the game on the line, he WILL take that shot.

LeBron wants to win a championship more than he wants to be the man. Well maybe that's because winning a championhsip makes him "the man". Bah, what I mean is, he will pass the ball.

But my money is on Orlando. I mean literally, I bet money on those guys to win the title.

So, Orlando will win it all. Shaq or no Shaq, Dwight will dominate Cleveland. The Suns will beat everyone in the West except the Jazz. So I probably get to see my two favorite players in the Finals, Nash and Howard. That's cool.

Anonymous 45of46 said...
what's really (really really) annoying about LeBron, is the fact that he can plain' old don't give a f^^k, and still be treated like the next messiah. imagine what happens if the Cavs get snuffed in the east again this year. LeBrick throws one of his "Check My $tats" tees on his back and prepares to direct a long line of teams ready to suck his Lil'Crab and pay him big bucks to do it. i mean the guy already told that he will be too busy to play for Team USA this summer. Kobe will be killing himself for the X summer in a row (when he should be getting a surgery for the finger), while Bron will be counting his $tats and polishing another MNP (Most Novitzki Player award). don't get me wrong, Bryant is a f^^kin' princess, but the man will risk his life and limb to compete and win. James? he just wants to get paid. and yeah, i know Kobe just inked a $83M deal, but hell, he deserves it, because everyone knows he will be killing himself to produce results. proven. LeBron's been called "King James" for how long now? 7 years? still, the crown isn't the MVP, and i don't see any of those rings on his fingers. one other thing is the question about his "coachability", and that's still in the air. what happens if he gets a strong coach figure? not Mike "Pardon Me, While I Bend Over" Brown, but a real coach with ideas LeBron never encountered before (like, i don't know, team offence, running plays for other players?). that's just another drama waiting to happen.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Unintentionally dirty quote from Heisohn - Perk gets banged as he was releasing the ball

Anonymous Stockton said...
"LeBron wants to win a championship more than he wants to be the man. Well maybe that's because winning a championhsip makes him "the man". "

Pippen won how many rings? Was he "the man"? Of course not! Lebron wants not only to WIN the ring, but to be the centerpiece to that win!! LeCrab would never, ever, ever, EVER let Kukoc or Steve Kerr take the championship shot. EVER!!

Blogger The Gazelle said...
funniest thing about lebrons godawful shot was that someone espn tool, i think it was sheridan, was PLEASED that he took it yesterday. it was in his chat, he stated that he like the move because "its what kobe would have done." facepalm. kobe has been outrageously lucky with those shots this year and will never do what he's done this year again. besides, little tony allen was the only thing between the crab and the bucket.

Anonymous Wormboy said...
@Anacondahl: no doubt, no doubt. Thanks for the link, always fun to look at such things. But there's more to championships than crunching numbers, and I seriously doubt that Utah has what it takes, character-wise. Even with Duncan's iffy health, I'd much rather bet on him than somebody like Boozer. Ditto for the Lakers--they're proven. Utah's playoff success in recent years has been sketchy, and I'm unwilling to upgrade them now.

I'm a firm believer that for a team to win a championship, you need some key guys who understand what it's all about. I don't see Utah having that. How does one quantify the Spurs' experience? Even RJ and McDyess, without championships, have at least been in the crucible multiple times. So my money is still on the Spurs or the Lakers. In the East Orlando or Cleveland could compete (skeptical about making it to Finals, for character/experience reasons). But I'm not convinced either of those teams have the depth or grit to win it all.

Health is always the wild card, of course. But Timmy has plenty of time to get stronger before facing LA.

Blogger gordon gartrelle said...
Cleveland deserves its share of criticism, but claiming that Lebron doesn't pass? That Brown doesn't run plays for anyone but Lebron? You guys are just being silly.

There are these little things called stats and videos that you can look up to check whether what you're saying is reasonable/supported by evidence. Some people even compile stats for "crunch time"--imagine that!

Just because you want to believe something doesn't make it true.

Blogger Barry said...
You can't really blame LeBron for not having a strong coach. He's been hallowed ever since he was in high school, show me a man that can handle that kind of pressure every damn day, 10 years long, and not have it result in an inflated ego and an unbalanced personality.

And I do agree with supersonic, he's still the very best in the NBA, regardless of how much him dominating the news makes you want him to not be the best. If he plays it right and realizes what he needs to get the rings (a strong coach, people willing to be 2nd banana with enough quality and a willingness to be 2nd banana himself sometimes)....well let's say his ego will get a lot bigger.

Blogger chris said...
Stockton: Hey, obviously Shaq is content with Not Being The Man But Piggybacking His way To A Hopeful Fifth Title. :P

Blogger Will said...
http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Is-Dwight-Howard-better-than-Bill-Russell-Matt-?urn=nba,232414
Apparently Matt Guokas thinks Bill Russell is inferior to Dwight Howard, defensively.

Blogger Ash said...
If Kobe was in that situation, he would have driven the ball right down the throat of Tony Allen, or gotten down on the low block and shot an easy banker.

Why take a shot that has 33% (or less, since he was off balance) of going in, as opposed to something like 70% (since he has such a height and athleticism advantage)?

Just a bad decision all around.

Anonymous Sorbo said...
With all the Jordan comparisons, a great story would be to compare the media coverage/fan adoration/fan hate that Jordan received in his era with what Lebron receives now. I was a tad young during Jordan's rise, but I vaguely remember him being cheered during some Bulls away games(except in Boston/NY/LA, of course) during the championship years. Seems odd, since I only see that type of fan reaction to visiting teams when its the Lakers, Celtics, or (non-NBA) Yankees, Red Sox, Patriots, and the Gretzky-era Kings.

Anonymous Stockton said...
chris

What I meant was the diference between being "the man" and geting the ring.
Lebron wants the title badly, of course, but he wants to be the center of it.
Like Kobe. Kobe not only wanted a ring, but wanted a ring without Shaq.
And sometimes you just need to put your ego in second place to get that win. I'm not sure 'bron can do that now...

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