Shazam
As stephanie g. said: "SHAZAM! The playoffs are finally here!"
Now Kevin Garnett will be taking a one-game vacation...

The Chicago Bulls: This second season's leading candidate for Schrodinger's playoff team status pretty much lived up, er, died up (??) to expectations by face-planting into a 22-point hole against the highly (and very correctly) favored Craboliers. Despite being one of the best rebounding teams in the Association, Chicago was outrebounded 50-38 and gave up 13 offensive boards. They were also outscored 42-26 in the paint.

LeBron (4 blocks), Shaq (12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks), Antawn Jamison (15 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Andy Varejao (8 points, 15 rebounds, 2 steals and a block) controlled the colored rectangle...and the Bulls eventually learned to fear the rim. As Basketbawful reader beep said: "It makes me puke when I see an empty lane and a Chicago player stopping to take a jump shot he misses, and even if he made it, it would be awful play ... my eyes were bleeding. :facepalm:"

Of course, even if the Crabs hadn't been returning every package to sender, that's sort of the Bulls' game plan. Long, contested two-point shots are their bread and butter. No wonder Luol Deng always has a sad face.

By the way, yeah, I know Chicago cut a huge deficit to only seven points late in the fourth. I have to say "whatever" to that, because Cleveland went to sleep. The Crabs did whatever they wanted whenever they wanted to do it. So don't let the Bulls' mini-comeback fool you.

Joakim Noah: Nobody wants to get YouTubed by a 38-year-old man who's glacial movements currently have to be tracked via calendar. And almost falling on your own face during the schooling? Eek.


Said The Big Geritol: "That's the patented move I've been doing for years. That's the 'Diesel Truck with No Brakes.' When I get into that mood people get out of the way because they know I'm in the cab and I don't have any brakes."

Replied Noah: "I kind of knew he was going to do it at first, so I tried to take it away. Then he waited and waited until a good time." Aaaaaaaaand...

Joakim Noah, unintentionally dirty quote machine: "He just knows how to use that 350 pounds."

Brad Miller, unintentionally dirty quote machine: Miller -- who ended up with a bloody face courtesy of Shaq's favorite elbow -- said: "He's still Shaq, but I tell all these guys all the time, you should have seen what he was like a few years ago. Every possession underneath, it was bang, bang."

The Milwaukee Bucks: The sad thing is, Bucks-Hawks could have been a great series before something that should never happen to a human arm happened to Andrew Bogut's arm. Amar''''''e Stoudemire's little push transformed the Bucks from a playoff dark horse to a Schrodinger's playoff team...unless John Salmons (6-for-18) has a little Michael Jordan in him. Exactly.

The Hawks went up by as many as 20 in the first quarter and led 62-40 at the half before forgetting you have to successfully complete 16 full games before winning the NBA championship. Atlanta's collective nappy time combined with some hot shooting by Brandon Jennings (34 points, 15-for-24, 4-for-6 from downtown) allowed the Bucks to rally, but their kinda-sorta comeback is as deceiving as the one the Bulls almost pulled off against the Crabs. Some teams fight their way back into a game, and some teams are let back in.

Said Mike Bibby: "When you get ahead by so much, you kind of get lackadaisical." Nobody knows this better than a former Sacramento King.

As for Jennings, his splits tell me the Bucks probably shouldn't expect him to keep shooting the ball as well as he did in Game 1. But Jennings sounds determined to go down firing: "Not having Andrew Bogut, I have to go back to playing the way I was at the beginning of the season. I have to be more aggressive if we're going to have any chance to win."

The Miami Heat: For 29 minutes, it looked like the Heat were going to win Game 1 of their first round series against The Paper Champions. Miami was shooting 53 percent and leading by 14 points when Boston's defensive demons woke from their season-long slumber. Over the final nine minutes of the game, the Heat shot 19 percent from the field (6-for-31) -- including 1-for-10 from downtown -- and got outscored by 23 points. During Miami's 10-point fourth quarter, Heat players started to look flat out scared when passes sailed their way. "No, no, I'm telling you, he's open!" It was a shooting apocalypse, but it could have been worse. One of their players could have had a meltdown like...

Kevin Garnett: Quick quiz: Is Kevin Garnett a dirty player? Quick answer:


Aaaaaaaaand: Suspsended for Game 2.

Classic superdickery. Especially with the way he flounced away from the scrum after swinging the elbow. Way to go, KG. Now I can understand why Benny the Bull sniped you with a t-shirt gun. A person is what he does repeatedly, and you can only swing so many elbows and have so many run-ins with the Jose Calderons of the world before people realize you're, well, you know.

Anyway, let the excuses begin:

"I saw Paul grab his shoulder, as a stinger or whatever, so I just tried to immediately call [Celtics trainer] Ed [Lacerte] over," Garnett explained after the game. "I tried to give him some room and I just saw [Quentin Richardson] standing over him talking nonsense. I asked [Richardson] to give him some room and, before you knew it, mayhem started. That situation, man, I know these two [Richardson and Pierce] have competed against each other in the past and have history from bumping heads a little bit. I was just trying to give him the common courtesy for an injured player, that's all. Nothing more, nothing less.

"I have no beef with Q, I know him personally. I thought what he did was a bit disrespectful, standing over a guy hurt, you know, and talking nonsense. Before you knew it, it all just broke out. I gotta use my head, but all I saw was Paul hurt and that's all I cared about at that time."

Asked for a response to Richardson's comments , Garnett wouldn't bite.

"No thoughts at all," said Garnett. "Classless -- a classless act on his part. I'm moving on with it. I'm not going to go back and forth commenting through [the media]. End this."

Garnett said he apologized to his teammates after Saturday's game.

"I apologized because, like [coach] Doc [Rivers] said, sometimes even when you're right you're wrong," said Garnett. "A situation like that was totally classless, you know, but you keep it moving. It's nothing to keep going back and forth with."
Here's some additional outside perspective on the whole situation from Joakim Noah:

"I'm going to say it: He's a dirty player," Noah said after he and his Chicago teammates practiced at Quicken Loans Arena in preparation for Monday's Game 2 against the Cavaliers. "He's always swinging elbows, man. I'm hurting right now because of an elbow he threw. It's unbelievable. He's a dirty player. It's one thing to be competitive and compete and all that.

"But don't be a dirty player, man. He's a dirty player."

Noah's opinion was that Garnett intended to strike Richardson.

"He knows what he's doing," Noah said. "It's messed up. It's wrong. It's not right. I shouldn't even be talking about this stuff. It's crazy."
A Miami win in Game 2 feels almost predestined now. I mean, this is just a fitting way for this particular Celtics' season to begin its end.

Paul Pierce: Okay, so, supposedly he had a pinch nerve, and, in all fairness, Quentin Richardson should have stayed the hell away from him. But even as a die-hard Celtics fan, I couldn't help but wonder why Pierce had to go down again. I'm not necessarily calling him a faker, but the dude takes an awful lot of dives. Even Ric Flair -- who was the best faller-downer in pro wrestling history -- facepalms when The Half-Truth goes down.

Evil Ted and I had a small debate over this, and my point was: On September 25, 2000, Pierce once got stabbed 11 times in the face, neck, and back and had a bottle smashed over his head...after which he had to lung surgery. Ya know how many games Paul missed that season? None. Pierce is tougher than that. He needs to stop flopping around when he gets hurt, because he's basically inviting incidents like this to happen.

Big Baby: Please stop.

Chill out Baby

Quentin Richardson, quote machine: "I was trying to get over there to take the ball out of bounds and he started to talk to me so I talked back. I don't have any business talking to him (Pierce), he was on the ground crying. I don’t know what was going on, two actresses over there that's what they are. ... Sometimes (Pierce) falls like he’s about to be out for the season and then he gets right up. That's all I said."

The Utah Jazz: In most cases, the playoffs are when teams start to really focus on defense. After all, that's what wins championships, right? In fact, I'm pretty sure at some point this weekend I heard Hubie Brown (or somebody) say there weren't any bad defensive teams in the playoffs.

The Jazz and Nuggets beg to differ.

Utah scored 113 points on 54 percent shooting while the Nuggets hit 57 percent of their field goals en route to 126 points. Carmelo Anthony scored a career playoff-high 42 points and J.R. Smith went off for 18 points in the fourth quarter, during which Denver outscored Utah 38-27.

Many faces went handless on this night. Even if Carlos Boozer believes otherwise.

Regarding 'Melo's multiple money shots in his team's collective mug, Boozer said: "He just took that game over. He hit shots with hands in his face. It seemed like he barely dribbled the ball, had a one-dribble pull-up or just caught it, faced up and shot it. That's where we miss A.K.'s length."

Speaking of which, I loved this quote from the AP recap: "Anthony was on a mission and C.J. Miles and Wesley Matthews were powerless to stop him." If Jerry Sloan's game plan is to use Miles and Matthews against 'Melo, then I hope he has a nice, big plasma TV and a comfy chair to sit in while watching the second round of the playoffs.

In all honesty, though, we all know Anthony's going to get his, right? The real key was Utah's failure to contain Smith down the stretch. That dude can (and will) shoot the Nuggets into games, and he can (and will) shoot them out of games. Just you wait.

By the way, what's up with the Jazz trainers giving Mehmet Okur a painkilling shot in his injured Achilles' tendon? You know...the one he tore during Game 1? Check it:

Okur had been bothered by Achilles' tendinitis in his left leg since April 7 and missed a game but he fought through it and received a painkilling shot before Game 1.

Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said he didn't believe that injection had anything to do with Okur tearing the tendon.

"We would never have put a player in a compromising position if there was any indication that the shot would have masked anything or done anything like that," O'Connor said. "We would have never done that. We'd never put a game ahead of a player's health. ... That's not in our DNA."

O'Connor said Okur's injection "was certainly his call."

"Is it related? I'm sure in same way, shape or form, everyone's going to put it on the fact that it is, but (team doctors) didn't feel there was any additional risk in doing that," O'Connor said.

Okur flew back to Salt Lake City without addressing reporters or his teammates.
Not good.

The Oklahoma City Thunder: What can I say? They played like a young team in their first-ever postseason game together. All the Lakers really did was out-execute them. Although the Thunder weren't exactly helped out by...

Kevin Durant: I don't know if it was Phil Jackson's mind games or the merry-go-round of defensive looks the Lakers used against him (sometimes Artest, sometimes Kobe, etc.), but KD looked positively Larry Hughes-like in his playoff debut. The Durantula shot 7-for-24 -- including 1-for-8 from beyond the arc -- and committed a game-high 4 turnovers. He was obviously frustrated. Seriously, at times he looked like he was guessing his way through some horrific story problem ("If my jump shot left Oklahoma City by train at 1 p.m. on Saturday and headed toward L.A. at 150 mph, will it ever arrive...") By crunch time, Durant had pretty much decided to force up his shots no matter what, like he couldn't believe how badly he was shooting (or, rather, being forced to shoot by an aggressive defense).

In all fairness to Durant, he wasn't alone. As a team, the Thunder did way too much freelancing against L.A.'s defensive pressure. Guys set their sights on the rim and stopped looking for open teammates. They're sure not going to beat the Lakers that way.

Still, the Thunder did cut the lead to 79-72 with about three and a half minutes left, so maybe all that's necessary is a few tweaks here and there.

Said Durant: "We could've came here and got a 'W.' We just couldn't get over the hump." Hump game!

The Charlotte Bobcats: Despite falling behind by 22 points, the 'Cats made a game out of it...but only because they managed to rough up Dwight Howard. That roughhousing led to frustration, and the next thing you know, Pumaman was in foul trouble. Hack-a-Howard kinda worked.

Said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: "Their big guys are going to hit him every chance they get. And if he gets one foul retaliating, they've done their job. He can't get any of those. He's just going to have to understand no matter how many times they hit him, he can't hit back. We need him on the floor."

Howard still made the difference on defense by swatting an almost-record-setting 9 shots. Which reminds me...

The 1996-97 Los Angeles Lakers: If you check out the AP recap, you'll see a list of the most blocks in a game in the last 20 postseasons. On that list, you'll see names like Howard, Tim Duncan, Alonzo Mourning, Hakeem Olajuwon and...Greg Ostertag?! Oh yes, my friends, 'Tag once had 9 blocked shots in a playoff game. Against the Lakers. For shame, L.A.

Dwight Howard, quote machine: Another reason the Bobcats loss was their inability to contain Jameer Nelson, who scored 24 of his game-high 32 points in the first half. About which Howard said: "I was just happy to have my little crib midget back."

Speaking of Pumaman, an anonymous reader left the following comment this weekend:

McHale, just gathered that you considered Howard to be the MVP over LeChosenOne on Truehoop. I get that he isn't a favorite over here at Bawful, but surely you can't really argue with his combination of team and individual success, right? While I understand (and dislike) the constant media-orgy over LeBron, I thought that his season this year was one of the most impressive I have seen in my 21 years. Am I wrong?
First off, I'm not saying that Howard is the better player. Nor am I denying that 'Bron pulled off one of the great statistical seasons in league history.

But here's my full explanation for my MVP considerations, which were cut in the final draft of the TrueHoop post:

Dwight Howard is as dominant defensively as LeBron is offensively. Moreover, Howard can dominate without dominating the ball. He takes only 10 shots per game, and you'll notice that his Usage Rate is almost 10 percentage points lower than LeBron's. Yet Howard is the league's best defensive player and the foundation of his team's offense. And his team happens to have the second-best record in the league.

Speaking of which, the Magic rate better than the Cavaliers in several advanced metrics, including Pythagorean Wins, SRS, Offensive Rating, Defensive Rating, Effective Field Goal Percentage, Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt, Defensive eFG%, Defensive Rebounding Rate, and Opponent Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt. King James might have one of the great Player Efficiency Ratings of all time, but several significant advanced stats indicate that Howard's team is better. I think these things are worth considering.
In many ways, this is a Wilt-versus-Russell type of debate. 'Bron has the better numbers, and his team seems helpless without him, although I wager some of that is because of poor coaching and the fact that, when he's in the game, the ball is grafted to his hands. I like Dwight's all-around impact, even if I hate his poor free throw shooting and lack of post moves.

Vince Carter: It's the playoffs and you know what that means: It's time for Vag Carter to disappear. His Game 1 line: 4-for-19, 0-for-5 from three-point range, 3 rebounds, an assist and 6 fouls.

The San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs shot 50 percent and got strong games out of Tim While Duncan (27 points, 8 rebounds), Manu Ginobili (26 points) and Tony Parker (18 points, 4 assists)...but the rest of the team scored 23 points on 10-for-26 shooting. What's more, San Antonio gave up 13 offensive rebounds -- 5 to Ericka Dampier, who's quietly fighting for a new contract -- and surrendered 20 points off 17 turnovers.

Said Duncan: "We didn't play focused enough. We just weren't there all night."

Gregg Popovich even resorted to a Hack-a-Dampier strategy that backfired when Ericka went 4-for-6 after three straight intentional fouls.

Said Pop: "We hoped he would miss free throws rather than Dirk killing us the way he was."

Good thinkin'.

The Phoenix Suns: Classic Suns. Favored. At home. Facing an opponent that just lost their best player. Unfortunately for Phoenix fans, the only guy ready to step up to the playoff challenge was Steve Nash (25 points, 10-for-18, 9 assists). Nobody else was ready to step up, even as the Frail Blazers were bonking free throws and missing dunks. Credit Portland. The Blazers slowed things down and put the defensive clamps on -- Phoenix shot 41 percent for the game -- but the Suns missed an awful lot of open shots. Especially in the final minutes.

On that subject, I leave you with AnacondaHL's despair:

I don't wanna talk about it.

Don't even wanna talk about it.

Phoenix 1-7 from 3 in the last 1:21.

Jamie Foxx, to JT: "I love Phoenix, there's just too many vegetarians"
As for the Blazers...holy shit. They are officially the NBA equivalent of a movie serial killer, right up there with Michael Meyers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and whoever else you wanna name. As Basketbawful reader Sun Devil put it: "Is it possible that the Blazers are the greatest Wounded Tiger team of all time? Even if they get bounced quick from the Suns, they've had a helluva season. All their injuries have set off a perpetual motion of wounded tiger proportions!"

Amar''''''e Stoudemire: Somebody needs to remind STAT that he hasn't signed his big free agent contract just yet. I know 18 points and 8 rebounds might now sound that bad, but it was. Trust me, it was. Amar''''''e went 8-for-19 from the field and committed a co-team-high 4 turnovers. But his failings were most evident during crunch time.

With 2:40 left and the Sun trailing 92-89, Stoudemire used one of his patented post moves to turn the ball over via an offensive foul. On the other wend, Jerryd Bayless missed a jumper, but Amar''''''e didn't block out his man, LeMarcus Aldridge, who skied over him for the tip-in. The teams then exchanged three-pointers after which Stoudemire had the ball stolen from him by Marcus Camby. Nine seconds later, Amar''''''e fouled out.

If possible, I would like this stretch posted on YouTube as a tribute to why STAT shouldn't get max player money this summer, even though he probably will.

San Jose Sharks: I was already considering including this moment of Hockyawful in this post, and this comment from an anonymous reader cemented my decision: "This is hockey related, but I figured you guys could use a laugh. The San Jose Sharks just gave Colorado a 1-0 win in OT when a Sharks player scored on his own team." Oy.

Weekend lacktion report: Some would say that the playoffs are no time for lacktion, but chris continues to prove otherwise:

Bulls-Crabs: Janeero Pargo bricked once in 2:33 to earn a +1 suck differential, while in 40 seconds, we had FOUR Mario Brothers: Chicago's James Johnson, and the crustacean trio of Daniel Gibson (who managed a board in that time), JJ Hickson, AND Jawad Williams!

Bucks-Hawks: For Milwaukee, Dan Gadzuric made himself a 6.25 trillion (6:15), while Atlanta sent out the sanitation crew for garbage time - Joe Smith who lost the rock once and took a rejection for a +2 in 5:21 (that also earned a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl), Jeff Teague with a one-foul +1 in 6:13, and THE Mario West with a one-foul +1 in 1:12!

Heat-Celtics: Joel Anthony negated two steals and a block in 11:12 with a brick, rejection and two fouls for a 2:0 Voskuhl! For the C's, tiny Nate Robinson had a diminutive stint on the Virtual Boy - a mere 6 seconds for a Super Mario!

Jazz-Nuggets: Joey Graham heaved up one brick from the Granite Tower for a +1 in 1:45 - the same duration and suck differential that Malik Allen earned (along with a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl) after a foul!

Thunder-Lakers: In one of the most atrocious postseason performances seen in ages, James Harden racked up a sizable suck differential: a FULL +8 of fail after fouling four times, bricking thricely from the Library Tower, and losing the rock once in 16:20!!!!!

For Los Angeles, Josh Powell provided a payday of 1 trillion (1:01).

Spurs-Mavs: Keith Bogans fouled and bricked once each in 16:12 for a +2, while DeShawn Stevenson sauteed a shiitake or two briefly in a 7 second SUPER MARIO!

Frail Blazers-Suns: Dante Cunningham spent 11 seconds in the warmth of Bowser's castle for a Mario, while Jarron Collins - as Phoenix's starting big man in 11:35 - negated two boards with a brick and three fouls for a 3:2 Voskuhl.

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40 Comments:
NBA Disciplinary Fail: The guy grabbing Kevin Garnett in that picture? As pointed out by Chris Sheridan on SC, Jamal Magliore. Who wasn't in the game. Or on the bench. Also on the list of players not suspended for the next game: Jamal Magliore.

Blogger Adam said...
The LA-OKC game was really fun, and not just because my team won. I haven't had the chance to see many Thunder games but they're a fun team to watch. I'm predicting the series will go 4-2. There's just no way the Lakers maintain that level of defensive intensity and there's no way the Thunder (and Durant in particular) stay that cold offensively.

And even if the Lakers *do* keep up that level of defense, it might be in exchange for foul trouble. Five on Kobe, five on Artest, Odom fouls out - all at home. While I won't complain about a 4-1 series, I think 4-2 is more realistic.

Blogger beep said...
Do you know where Miami bench players were when The Dirty One used his elbow? Not on the bench, not in proximity.
Where are the suspensions? Reminds me Nash with bleeding nose and all discusion. ... and tell me more how NBA doesn't favour any team or player.

Blogger chris said...
Once again, thanks for reminding me that neither my call-up-Mayflower-Vans ball team or my experts-at-the-Heimlich-maneuver hockey squad in NorCal are succeeding. :P

But it's true.

Maybe it's why I'm more attuned to lacktivity than most.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Regarding the actions of Miami's bench players, I'm not sure what the rules stipulate when a confrontation occurs right on top of where you're sitting. I'm guessing they weren't suspended because they were "protecting themselves."

Anonymous Axe Head said...
Right about Pierce. Tough, good player, but there is a faint whiff of the drama queen about him.

If Garnett is going to get in trouble, could he please do it in a good cause? Like Parish with Laimbeer, entering the Pantheon of great heroes? I suggest Varejao.

Anonymous Axe Head said...
Great picture of Garnett, BTW. Looks like he's heroically fighting off an invading horde, instead it's funny when you know he's facing down the notorious and dangerous Q-Rich.

Blogger Adam said...
beep: Are you seriously suggesting that the NBA is favoring the Heat more than the beloved Celtics?

Garnett is a dick of epic proportions and has been for years. He physically starts the fight right in front of the Heat bench. What are they supposed to do, just lean back and avoid all the moving bodies?

Blogger Wormboy said...
1) Nash: I love me some Nash, and as usual he had an excellent game. But can we serve him up some fail for an absolutely awful end of game play?

2) Shaq fat: I'm not sure if I've ever seen the Michelin Man fatter. It's like he has no bones in his face.

3) Zombie Sonics: No, I will never cheer for them. NEVER. This is the first time I've ever cheered for the Lakers. I had to take a vodka shot afterwards to get the taste out of my mouth, and it didn't even work. I won't be watching any other games in this series.

BTW, interesting to watch Durant pay his dues. He'll learn. An essential step.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
BTW, both LaMarcus Aldridge and Amar''''''e ended the first half with 0 defensive rebounds.

And when Vince fouled out, my heart sank for the Bobcats. They were pulling off a great comeback, but with Vince forced out that sealed their window of opportunity.

Blogger Will said...
What about the ghost of Andre Miller scoring 31 on the Suns? Whoever Phoenix has as a point guard has got to be the worst defender at that position in NBA history.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Will: Sarcasm duly noted, however it was JRich defending Miller while Nash was chasing around Fernandez.

Anonymous plonden said...
@Will: Miller was guarded by Jason Richardson. Nobody could check him last night. Nash was guarding Rudy Fernandez.

Anonymous Hellshocked said...
Mr. Bawful:

How serious are you when you say Dwight Howard is the best defensive player in the league? Not trying to be an asshole, I'm just surprised. He is definitely a hell of a weak side shot blocker and his team's defense is built around funneling players to spots Dwight can fly to (a role he excells at) but I think his one-on-one defense is severely lacking. A decent post player can bamboozle him, he is helpless in the perimeter and he is so eager to block shots that a well timed extra pass will find him out of position. He is a much stronger defender than in seasons past but I think a lot of that is due to Orlando's system which maximizes his skillset while masking his weaknesses.

AnacondaHL:

LaMarcus Aldridge is a poor man's Amar''''e in how me drives his fanbase crazy. He is a very capable scorer with his back to the basket (as he demonstrated yesterday) but after repeated successful post up attempts he will inexplicably drift to the perimeter and bail out the defense by launching long twos (as he also demonstrated yesterday). His rebounding is atrocious and his post defense is even worse. He is sort of the RuPaul of the RuPaul of big men but he can string together just enough big games to get you hoping he is about to "get it" and become something special.

Blogger Preveen said...
OK, so Shaq is old, fat, crazy and can't sing. Still pulled of one of the best executions of the baseline spin I've seen in a game.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Correction of your coloumn:

It was JVG not Hubie who made the comment about defensive teams, and not that every team in the playoffs is good at defense but inversely that no teams which play good defense miss the playoffs.

Blogger Will said...
plonden and anaconda- you caught me! I didn't watch the game last night (i have to get up early for work), I was just trolling for Nash fans.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Hellshocked -- I get what you're saying about Howard, and your points about Orlando's system are well taken. That said, Howard is the bedrock of the Magic's D. Check out the guys who have the most minutes played for Orlando this season (after Dwight): Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Jason Williams.

I mean, holy christ, those are some not-so-good defensive players. I mean, Barnes is okay at times, but c'mon. Howard cleans up a lot of messes. You want to talk about the system, well, the system wouldn't exist without Howard. It just wouldn't. The Magic would be the Raptors, or the Warriors, or whoever.

All great defenders have weaknesses. But Howard forms the foundation of a top three defense without the benefit of a host of other willing, gritty defenders. Stan Van Gundy utilizes Howard's skills very well. But his importance shouldn't be undersold.

Blogger Sid said...
In celebration of Ostertag's 9 blocks.

As I drove towards the lane,
Whistling a merry tune.
I discovered to my shame,
My celebration was a tad too soon.

A no look behind the back pass that was unseen by all
Including the intended recipient, Greg Ostertag, he who’s obscenely tall
(Height is might, right? Not when you have uncoordinated eyesight.)
His inadvertent slipup, led to a fast break opportunity
My first uncontested layup, I thought with impunity.
I merrily skipped away, my form a treat to the eyes.
Away, far away from the other 9 guys
No way this lay ends with a block, right guys? /* lay here meaning layup/story. Shakespere’s got nothing on me */
Yea, verily, I was on a fastbreak.
They, at the very least, were left quite far away.
But as I learned, to my dismay.
One player had never learned to give up on the play
One player endeavored, yearned, to swat the ball away.

As I soared to the rim, with my arm extended.
The crowd roared, out on a limb, it wasn’t for me their cheers were intended.
.
Chased me down like a cheetah
(How did he catch up. Oh! My shoelace was loose on my feet, yeah)
Jumped like a monkey
(Dude just got lucky)
Soared like a hawk
(Hey! I was in shock!
I swear this is not an act.
He came way too fast for me to react)
And batted the ball off the backboard,
But what made my shoulder sag,
Was the fact that my shot was blocked by Greg Ostertag.
To top it off, he commemorated the block with a Mutombo finger wag.
Thus he finished with 9 blocks in a game,
Putting his name in the Hall of Fame(?)

Blogger Kevin said...
Hellshocked: I agree that Lebron is MVP, but I have to come to the defense (pun intended) of Pumaman. Howard is probably the first player we have in a long time that both handles most of a team's rebounding and goal defending (think Rodman and Longley merged), which opens up the game of the other guys on the floor.

Because Howard handles most of the rebounding by himself, the other four guys get to run freely, and because he swallows up shooting angles when opponents drive the lane, his teammates don' have to waste too much energy killing themselves defensively.

The fact that Orlando built their team around his defensive prowess suggests that he is worthy for MVP. The Magic are barely a 50-win team without him, and probably lose last night's game.

One more point: I agree that Orlando maximizes his abilities and hides his weaknesses, but that's every team in the league. Why do you think Steve Nash never guards the other team's best scorer, or why Cavs play half-court ball (scoring less) when Shaq is in the game.

Anonymous AK Dave said...
Sid:

Best. Comment. Ever.

Blogger BadDave said...
I got into an extended discussion about MVP with bawful last night. I'm more of a Durant guy, if only because while I think Howard is the lynchpin of the Magic D, Durant is the lynchpin of the Thunder O, and that both perform well on their other ends.

My contention is that the Thunder are worse without Durant than the Magic without Howard. Bawful and I disagree - any thoughts folks? He thinks I undersell the other Thunderers.

I will say that the most compelling part of Bawful's argument was that Mr. Puma is exceedingly efficient on offense. He gets much more production with much fewer shots.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
The Magic are barely a 50-win team without him."

The Magic wouldn't win 40 games without Howard. They might struggle to win 30-35. Rememer, Lewis and Carter both came to the Magic from 30-win teams on which they were paired with an All-Star. I'm just sayin'.

And I agree with AK Dave...Sid provided the best comment ever.

Blogger Kevin said...
The Magic wouldn't win 40 games without Howard.

How dare you devalue Martin Gortat like that? I mean if Mark Cuban's secret formula said he was good, who are you to judge the Magic wouldn't win 50 with him at center? Nevermind, I forgot that you have eyeballs.

Anonymous laddder said...
So will Rasheed Wallace start for the super-dick?

Miami could use a 6v4...

LOL @ the picture, really looks like a god of war scene.

Blogger Cortez said...
Why don't you guys leave poor KG alone?

It's hard knowing where to draw the line at being a "tough guy" when you're going on zero actual experience.

You can only go by what you've seen on TV and in the movies.

Random screaming, yelling, and elbowing people in the face while scowling is inevitable when you're faking it.

Anonymous Hellshocked said...
I agree Howard is a good to very good defender, all things taken into account, and that Orlando's system couldn't be run without anyone of his caliber taking up the middle. But is what he is doing so different from what, say, Tim Duncan did for San Antonio for about 8 straight years though? Ben Wallace for Detroit? Even fat, lazy, underachieving Shaq did pretty much the same for those Lakers teams, with the added benefit that he was so damn strong it was nigh impossible to score on him in the low post.

I'm not a Howard hater and I tend to have a bias toward defensive perimeter role players (Sefolosha, Batun) or strong positional low post defenders (Perkins) but I think at least part of the hype over Howard's D is due to the fact there are so few, if any, capable defenders at the 5 today.

No question he should be among the leaders in MVP voting, though I´d rank him third behind Durant.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
How dare you devalue Martin Gortat like that?

You're right. The Polish Hammer...all he needs is more minutes. Man, I wish I had a nickname like "Polish Hammer."

So will Rasheed Wallace start for the super-dick?

I read somewhere that Big Baby is ready to be the "Ticket Stub," which is an adorable play off of KG's "Big Ticket" nickname.

I hope to the God of War Rivers doesn't start 'Sheed.

Ahd your comment reminds me, is this the first comparison to KG and Kratos? Because it fits both on looks and in ruthless, soulless anger.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
BadDave: It's Durant over Dwight. Aside from the 30 ppg, the win shares argument is too strong, with Durant getting 11.1+5.0 on a 50 win team, while Dwight got 6.1+7.1 on a 59 win team. In the +/- world, via 82games, Durant was +17.7 net production vs opponent, +16.0 on/off, and Dwight was +14.8 and +10.8, respectively.

Anonymous Hellshocked said...
BadDave:

Howard´s offense is ahead of Durant't defense, but I'm pretty sure the Thunder would be far worse off without their franchise player than the Magic without theirs. Both would be in the lottery but the Thunder's record would be somewhere between Minnesota's and Golden State's.

What surprises me most about Durant is how much he has progressed since he came into the league. As a rookie, he was one of my least favorite players: a chucker who didn't bother passing the ball or playing defense. A poor man's Glenn Robinson, if you will. Over the past two years though he has become a much better rebounder, defender, facilitator and considering the kinds of shots he takes a very efficient offensive player.

Considering their respective teams, conferences, expectations and seasons I'd seriously consider giving him the MVP, or at least second place. Then again I'm the guy who thought Dwayne Wade should have wont it last year.

Blogger Kevin said...
BadDave: Losing Durant or Howard, that's a tough one. I'm going to say Howard would have a bigger impact if he was lost, only because the Magic are built around his defense (even their transition game is built around it).

Look, no one is saying the Thunder would be any good without Durant, but they'd probably slip behind the Rockets/Grizz, but above the other Western drecks, only because they have a really good, active defense. Plus, Westbrook can get to the hoop. As many shots as Durant takes, I get the feeling the team likes and does share the ball, equating the loss of Durant somewhere close to the Nuggest losing Melo (they can win, but they can't win the big, hump games).

On the other end, if Howard is gone, you've turn the Magic into a terrible version of the Suns (five offensive-minded players on the floor), except weaker at the guard positions.

Blogger DocZeus said...
I'm not taking anything away from Howard but dissenting opinion this year in the case of LeBron James' MVP candidacy is a joke.
He SHOULD be the league's first unanimous MVP candidate.

Putting aside his historically great stastical season and the Cavs best record this season, LeBron should have ended all discussion back in FEBRUARY when Mo Williams and Delonte West were out for a month and LeBron stepped in as the de-facto point guard, led the league in the assists during that period (or damn near close), and the Cavs rattled off ten straight victories.

No player is as remotely valuable as LeBron James. Being a contrarian is just ridiculous in this case.

Blogger BadDave said...
Bawful - how about this for a nickname - Barstool Crusher?

Anonymous Sun Devil said...
I think the Magic are worse off than the Thunder. Prolific scorers are much easier to replace than ya-build-the-franchise-around centers.

Blogger Caleb Smith said...
Is it really surprising that Ostertag once had 9 blocks in a playoff game? Theres plenty to criticize about his game but he was beastly when it came to swatting shots. 3.2 blocks per 36 minutes for his career... that's pretty impressive. He was in the top 10 for blocks per game twice, but thats dictated by minutes... if you look at block percentage - he led the NBA in block percentage twice, was in the top 5 several other seasons, and for his career he's 4th *all-time* in block percentage.

Blogger chris said...
Sid: I officially defer to you. WOW. That was pure money right there.

Blogger Caleb Smith said...
@Sun Devil.

Prolific scorers maybe easier to replace, but incredibly efficient prolific scorers (Durant was near 1.5 points per shot this season) who can score from anywhere and who also rebound and defend? Nah.

Blogger lordhenry said...
Celtic of War......

"Why have you abandoned me, Russell?!"
Shouts the Celtic of War, Kevin Garnett, from the top of the highest cliff in Boston. For years, Kevin had looted, pillaged, and destroyed in the name of the Celtics, but was haunted by visions of a tormented past, a past in which he was the lowly servant of the Timberwolves. Then, one day, The great Bill Russell, came to Garnett to offer salvation.
"Great Warrior, if you offer your soul to me, you will become a Boston Celtic, and leave this meaningless existence behind."

"RUSSELL I AM YOURS!"

And with that, Kevin was transformed from the "Big Ticket" to the "Celtic of War" and all who opposed him fell to him and his armies. But this greatness would not last forever......

As the years passed, and his godlike abilities began to fade, Kevin beseeched Russell to offer him more power to vanquish his enemies.
"RUSSELL YOU SAID I WOULD WIN AT LEAST THREE RINGS, WHAT THE F*CK HAPPENED, MAN!"
"I said you COULD win three not that it was guarunteed, challenge not the Celtics for it will be your downfall, Garnett!"
"IF ALL THE CELTICS WILL OPPOSE ME THAN ALL THE CELTICS WILL DIE!"

And thus began the great war between Garnett and the Celtics.
The contracts of Sprewell and Cassell could not hold him, the Lakers could not beat him, and on this day the man, the Celtic, will have his revenge.

Blogger Sid said...
@ AK Dave,Bawful & chris

Thanks.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
they should have a post of the year and nominate "Celtic ofWar" as one of them

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