Thursday, April 17, 2008
As the season wound down, 9 teams were competing for 8 playoff spots. The 8 teams have now been decided, and all 8 have at least 50 wins. Compare that with the east and you see what a feat this really is. Only the top 3 teams in the NBA's Eastern Conference won more than 50 games this season. Obviously, you may want to tune into the playoffs this year if you havent over the past few years.
As I predicted, the Lakers finished with the top seed in the West and ended the season on a tear. There are only 2 teams in that conference that can de-rail L.A's run to the Finals this year; San Antonio or Utah. No, the later mentioned was not a mistype. San Antonio, the No. 3 seed, is always a challenge. Defending their title from last season, the spurs have experience and know-how. For them, it doesnt matter what seed they finish with in the regular season, their level of play intensifies each year in the middle of April.
As for Utah, look at the rest of the teams in the playoff picture out west and pick another team better, more well equipped to make a run at the championship than them? I dare you. The hornets? Ha! Although the No. 2 seed, the Hornets lack experience and mental toughness. I expect them to be eliminated by the second round, if not the first. The Rockets? Sure they had a mid-season 22 game win streak, but without Yao, all they have is Mcgrady. And we all know what Mcgrady does in the post-season. The Suns? Okay, I might give you this one......okay maybe not. Even when Nash was winning MVP's the couldnt escape the second round. Nash is getting older everyday, oh, and so is Shaq. Disrupting the Suns chemisry mid-season with the addition of Shaq may have been a good story and exciting to think about, but sorry Pheonix, wave good-bye in the first round to the Spurs. Oh yeah, and the Mavs and Nuggets are in this thing too, does anybody care?
Lakers and Celtics in the finals come June. Sorry to ruin the anticipation, but it's the conspiracy and there is nothing you or I can do about it. So just sit back, relax, and watch the beauty of it all unfold to you.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Somehow Celtics GM Danny Ainge, who's job was on the rocks, pulled off two of the biggest deals in Celtic history this past off-season by aquiring All-Star fowards Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Ray Allen was pretty much obtained for the 5th pick in th '07 draft, which the sonics used on forward Jeff Green. While KG was obtained through trading half their team away, with the most notable name being sent from Boston was Al Jefferson, a promising young prospect, but the other 4 players were nobody of any value. When all was said and done, Boston had added Allen and Garnett without having too give up the one All-Star they already had on their roster, Paul Pierce. The combination of the three has resulted in the Celtics holding the leagues best record for the entire season thus far.
Now to the Lakers. Last summer, Kobe was requesting trades all over the place. He was telling radio shows and t.v. shows that their was no way he could stay and play in L.A. this season. Well, Kobe didn't get his wish and him and the Lakers made friends again. Meanwhile, vetran guard Derrick Fisher slipped his way out of a contract he was in the middle of with Utah and made his way back to L.A. over the summer. Then, a couple months into the season, one of the most horrifying trades in NBA history took place. The Memphis Grizzlies traded away their only All-Star Pau Gasol to the Lakers for, are you ready for this, Kwame Brown? With a couple other players involved who are not even worth mentioning, the Lakers stole Gasol from the Grizzlies for Kwame Brown.
The series of events that have unfolded both in Boston and L.A. has set the stage for a rematch of two teams that have made up some of the NBA's greatest rivalries. Wilt vs. Russell, Bird vs. Magic, KG vs. Kobe? It has got my attention. And it's grabbing others attention all around the nation. A finals matchup between these two would draw more viewers than any finals series in a long, long time. Maybe the most ever. This all sounds great, but, something doesnt seem quite right about the whole thing. It all happened way to easy. No matter if David Stern played a part in renewing this rivarly or not, it has definitely revived the NBA.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
It's hard to pick "the team to beat" in the west. There are nine teams that would be no easy match up for anyone. If forced to choose, I would still say the L.A. Lakers have the most talent. WIth a line-up of Bryant, Bynum, Gasol, Odom and Fisher, it's hard to not name them as the "team to beat".
Come June, it's quite possible we may be watching another Laker vs. Celtic NBA finals matchup, like we did in the 1980's. Tune in for my next post as I dicuss the NBA conspiracy theory in 2008.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The race happening in the NBA's Western Conference this year, is one of the best and most exciting we've seen in years. The top nine teams in the conference are packed like marshmellows in a key-hole, and it's only going to get more interesting.
The New Orleans Hornets, who currently hold the best record in the West(36-15), and the Houston Rockets, who currently hold the ninth spot(32-20), are seperated by only 4.5 games!To compare, the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics, and the ninth teamin the same conference, the Atlanta Hawks, are currently sepearated by 19.5 games. This gives you an idea of just how competitive it is, and it's not getting any easier out West any time soon.
The Dallas Mavericks, who are sitting in the 6th spot in the West,only 2 games behind the leader, executed a trade early last week to bring All-Star point guard, Jason Kidd back to Dallas where he beganhis career. The trade gives the Mavs experience, but not enough to bring them a championship. In L.A, the Lakers made a deal at the end of January which brought forward Pau Gasol to L.A. and gave awaynext to nothing. The trade turned the Lakers into a first-round loser into a title contender. Meanwhile in Phoenix, GM Steve Kerr made a deal of his own with Miami, swapping All-Star forward Shawn Marion for arguably the most dominant center of all-time in Shaquille O'neal. The trade gives Phoenix the size they need, and improvesthere team, but only for this year. With Shaq's health fading fast, the Suns will need to capitalizeon this trade this season or there hopes for a title in the valley of the sun will set.
That said, the team that may have improved the most with a single trade this year was the team that aquirred Kyle Korver. Unless you live in Utah, you may be asking yourself "Who is Kyle Korver?".The Utah Jazz aquirred Korver near the end of December for Gordon Girichek who was a cacer in the Utah organizationfrom the day her arrived. Since Korver's aquistion, the Jazz have won 19 of there last 22 games. In the process, the moved from the ninth spot in the West, to the fourth, and are currently leading their division.Korver is being compared to former Jazz great, Jeff Hornacek, who is one of the NBA's all time deadliest shooter andwho helped lead Utah to there only two finals appereances in franchise history. Korver posses good size for a shooter(6'6''), and provides a deep threat that Utah was so desperatley seeking.
Utah or Los Angeles. It's too close to call, but one of these two teams will emerge from the west this year. If L.A. can stay healthy, the trio of Bryant, Gasol and Odom will be too much to handel. They are loaded with talent, including a bright young center in Andrew Bynum. Although, if Utah can continue to play toghether as well as they have, the Lakers may have their hands fullin a match-up with the Jazz. The duo of WIlliams and Boozer, a modern-day Stockton and Malone, has already proven unstoppable.If Kirelinko can continue to play well, and Korver continues to provide an outside presense, you may be looking at Utah's third trip to the finals in franchise history. If nothing else, it's definitley going to be exciting. Stay tuned.