WotN - Nov 1
If you suck and you know it, clap your hands.

The first game jitters continued last night...

1. Shaq: The Big Braggadocio made some pretty bold promises during the preseason. Specifically, he said he was going to return to his old dominating ways until Dwyane Wade comes back. "As a tamed tiger now, you always go back to what you know, a la Siegfried and Roy. I’ve been tame the last couple years, but here’s a chance for me to go wild again." Well, the tiger sure seemed pretty tame last night: 9 points (4-of-6), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 turnovers, 5 fouls, scoreless in the first half. Shaq complained after the game that he needs more than six shots to be effective, but the Pistons used double-teams and zones to limit his touches. They also took advantage of the Diesel's lack of mobility and lateral quickness on defense to get him into foul trouble. Since Shaq's offensive repertoire consists of posting up and either dunking or tossing in a little hook, the Heat can't really get him going if he can't power through swarms of defenders on his way to the hoop. And it sure doesn't look like he can do that anymore.

2. Phoenix Suns: Coach Mike D'Antoni likes to refer to the Suns' high-speed, high-scoring offense as "organized chaos." Last night, it was mostly just "chaos." The usual flow and consistency was missing. It was sort of like watching a 15-year-old kid playing as the Suns in NBA Live: Lots of frenetic sprinting around and jacking up questionable shots. Steve Nash had 7 turnovers, some of which were just careless and ugly. Grant Hill -- a career 24 percent three-point shooter -- jacked up seven threes and made only one of them. Leandro Barboso looked skittish in scoring only 9 points on 3-of-7 shooting, 1-of-4 from three-point range. Shawn Marion played well: 14 points (7-of-10) and 11 rebounds. But he was also quick to denigrate Kevin Durant's performance after the game. "Oh, he ain't shy to put that thing up," Marion said. "You shoot 23 times, you can get 27 points, easy." Forget the fact that this was Durant's second pro game, and that it came on the second night of back-to-backs. Not a very classy thing for an eight-year veteran to say, but just another example of how Marion's insecurity gets the better of him. One last note: Grant Hill played an intense 33 minutes last night. He took two hard falls on fast break layups, and both times I winced in fear. Watching Hill play at the Suns' breakneck pace is like watching somebody juggle your grandma's antique China; you're expecting something to break into a million pieces any minute. I just don't think Hill can stay healthy playing like that for 81 more games and the playoffs.

3. Basketbawful: I sort of dismissed the Houston Rockets out of hand in my Bestern Conference Season Preview, but damn...they look pretty good, don't they? They're talented, deep, and they seem to really enjoy playing together. T-Mac looks fantastic, Yao looks solid and, more importantly, healthy. Luis Scola gives them some muscle and attitude, Shane Battier is Shane Battier, and even Mike James looks like a real player again. The Rockets have opened the season with impressive back-to-back road wins, the second of which was a sound beating of a very good (or so it seems) Utah Jazz team. And yes, I realize there are still 80 games left for Mcgrady and Yao to get hurt, and that these guys have yet to break the dreaded first round curse. But for the moment, it looks like I was way off about these guys. The Spurs, Suns, and Mavs better keep an eye over their collective shoulders.

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Blogger bob said...
I take offense to that jab about "15-year-old playing Suns on NBA Live". Then again, I play Live 2005, where it's impossible to run a fast-break with any team.

And last night was a terrible fantasy night for me. Marion was 14 and 11, which sucks ass considering I picked him at number four. Kirilenko...well. Deron Williams shot badly even though he had 13 assists.

Kevin Durant should be pretty good this year leading the Sonics, but I predict a FG% below 45%.

Oh, and there's one thing I find hilarious to mention: it's how Jason Williams has three or four different hairstyles and he changes it twice a year. What's the point?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Collison, anyone? Fundamentally sound, as they say.

And did anyone else notice that Barkley's half-time "All Time Sonics Starting Five" was missing a certain Rain Man? Kemp couldn't even get a mention in the segment. Did Kemp and Barkley have friction I just don't remember?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
bob -- Sorry about that. How about "a 15-year-old who knows nothing about basketball playing as the Suns on NBA Live"? Which reminds me of a kid I used to play against in my dorm. He knew crap about the game, and insisted on taking -- and making -- dozens of three-pointers witn Dennis Rodman (NBA Live '95). I'm still bitter about that.

Oooo. You took Marion at number four? It'll be tough to get steady numbers out of him now that Stoudemire is back at full strength, although if he gets traded he'll start piling on the numbers.

Williams is like a poor man's Scot Pollard with regards to changing hairstyles. Need I say more?

anonymous -- Collison is a hard worker and I love how he hits the boards. The Sonics would really miss his rebounding.

You know, I also noticed Barkley left Kemp off his fave five Sonics. In fact, I had to do a double-take at his list. I couldn't believe it. I understand his career fizzled out and ended on a bad note, but still...he's in the top 5 Sonics players.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Excellent blog. Just came across it today.

The Knicks can't make a free throw.

Sonics and Blazers have a nice future ahead of them.

Shaq should hang it up.

Manu Ginobili is the #1 player in fantasy basketball after 2 nights.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I think a factor working the Rockets' favor this year (aside from the obvious talent upgrade) is that they finally have a coach who won't whip the team like a hyperactive horse jockey. Van Gundy's a solid coach but I remember Yao and McGrady being totally worn out at the end of every game the last couple of years, including those tough playoff games they coughed up (not to mention that constant fatigue is a good way to get injured) because Van Gundy just wouldn't let up on them. Contrast with those reliably winning Spurs, who tend to go easy early on and gradually push harder when it comes time to get in playoff shape...

In the first two games, Yao is reporting that he's not been at all winded at the end of the fourth quarter, and, whoa, he's actually making some clutch plays. Maybe that'll keep up?

Blogger Jay said...
lol looks like hes gonna kick him from behind!
no foul!

Blogger Jeffrey Hardy Quah said...
Rockets just went 3-0, but there were moments of stagnancy in their offence that worry me a little. The much-vaunted up-tempo style that Adelman was supposed to bring occasionally looked like Van Gundy ball (and I'm a big JVG fan). I know it's early yet, but I don't think they're entirely comfortable with the new system. The next games with the Mavs and Spurs will be the real test.