Monthly Archives: April 2012

Derrick Rose injures Knee in Game One Victory

Towards the end of the Chicago Bulls’ game one victory over the Philadelphia 76ers Derrick Rose was driving the lane and contorting his body to get a shot up. The end result of that play was Rose landing awkwardly, without contact from another player, and injuring his knee. He was taken out of the game and to the locker room. He was taken to a local hospital to receive an MRI.

For the Bulls, the injury relegates their game one success to a Pyrrhic victory. This has been an unfortunate season for Rose, last year’s NBA MVP, as he has struggled with injury.

Blame should not be leveled on anyone in the case of Rose’s latest injury. It was a freak play that happened during the course of the game. It could not have been predicted or prevented. Rose was simply playing the way he always does, with drive and passion.

If anyone is to be blamed in this situation, and it’s not Tom Thibodeau (leaving Rose in late is just how he coaches), it is @NBCMiami for falsely reporting the extent of Rose’s injuries via Twitter before any such information had been released. It caused quite a stir over the social media network and was retweeted numerous times. Since their initial tweet they have recanted and said that they were premature in making such a claim. Do some fact checking, people. Or at the very least use common sense.

If there is an upside for the Bulls it is that Rose has missed ample time this season already and Thibodeau has a contingency plan. Without Rose, the Bulls are 18-9. However, that was the regular season and the playoffs are a different animal all together. If Rose is unable to play in game two, or the rest of the series, C.J. Watson will likely move into the starting point guard role.

*UPDATE*

Rose tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the playoffs.

Video via G and L Sports

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Indiana Pacers vs. Orlando Magic First Round Prediction

It won't be close

(If you have read this blog for any length of time you know that my playoff series predictions can range from lengthy to long-winded. However, this will not be one of those times, this series does not warrant it.)

The Indiana Pacers have entered the postseason, as the third seed in the Eastern Conference, with little fanfare. National media markets rarely cover small market teams unless they are excelling far beyond their means, which, honestly, the Pacers have done. Well, not exactly. They should be as good as they are, they made the right moves and have a head coach who is legitimately worthy of the Coach of the Year award. Everything about this team screams almost contender.

If circumstances hadn’t conspired to spite this whole series it might be one of the best ones in the entirety of the first round. Alas, it won’t be. The Orlando Magic are completely impotent without Dwight Howard, who will miss the playoffs, and the Olympics, after undergoing lower back surgery. Orlando with field a ragtag team of stagnate perimeter players, Stan Van Gundy is want to have his team jack up 3’s galore, with the likes of Glen Davis (who is probable for game one with a sprained right ankle) and Earl Clark holding down the middle. Eww.

Orlando has problem and Howard, though he is a headache and has caused the most drama in the Magic Kingdom since Shaq, has simply been good enough to mask those issues, on the court at least. This is a team going nowhere fast. They have assembled a plethora of sub par talent around their superstar. Otis Smith clearly took a page out of Danny Ferry’s playbook.

Indiana will win this series. It shouldn’t even be a contest.

Doyle Rader predicts: Pacers defeat the Magic 4-0

Travis Huse predicts: Pacers defeat the Magic 4-1

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Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks First Round Prediction

Melo ISO, we will see that a lot

If there wasn’t some drama hog who lived in Orlando, this season’s headlines would have focused squarely on the tumultuous, and miraculous, year that the Knicks have had. They signed Tyson Chandler, they have been good, then bad, then terrible, then Linsanity struck, then Mike D’Antoni stepped down as the head coach before he could be fired, then Mike Woodson took over as head coach, then they signed J.R. Smith, then Jeremy Lin got hurt, then Carmelo Anthony played is ass off (he still is), then Amare Stoudemire came back from injury and that brings us to the present. Phew!

Now, the Knicks enter the playoffs as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and are playing some of their best ball of the season thanks in large part to Anthony’s incredible play over the last couple of weeks. With the injury to Stoudemire, Anthony shifted to power forward and has excelled. His shooting range has drawn larger defenders away from the paint, freeing up passing and cutting lanes. When he has a smaller defender on him he has the ability to post them up or shoot over them. On the defensive end of the floor he is actually trying, and not just sort of trying, trying as hard as he can fronting larger players, swiping at the ball and hounding players of comparable size. This is a Melo we have never seen. This is the Melo that the Knicks traded half of their roster for.

Yes, the Knicks are back in a big way, so much so that Steve Novak celebrating with his discount double check move does not seem ludicrous. This is a team, that despite their myriad of injuries has persevered and one courageous storyline has superseded the previous one has it fell by the wayside. These Knicks just won’t die. Now they will face their next daunting challenge, only this one does not come from within the organization.

The Miami Heat are title favorites. They lost in the Finals last season and still carry that burden and bitter taste with them. Yet, they enter the postseason seeming uninterested. Miami sleepwalked through the second half of the season, resting various parts of their big three. During that span they rarely beat a team with a record over .500. It was as if they were just biding their time, knowing that they were assured of a playoff berth.

Despite their lackadaisical attitude after they All Star break, the Heat enter the playoffs as a second seed and are still one of the most feared teams in all of basketball because of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh. They have some tertiary players as well, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, and Udonis Haslem lead that bunch, but when it comes to the Heat, it is about their big three. It will be curious to see if they do have that switch that they can turn on to return to their demonstrative, Flying Death Machine form. They act as though they are about to flip that switch, but is it that easy?

Miami will challenge the Knicks’ defense at the rim, namely Chandler, with their athleticism and slashing. It will behoove them to get Chandler into foul trouble early because not only is he the anchor of New York’s defense, but he is also a superb rebounder and the Heat are terribly undersized. If Chandler does get onto early foul trouble often it will allow Miami to open up their spacing on the offensive end where they can effectively use Bosh in the high post and elbow to set screens and pick and roll or pop opportunities.

Frankly, Chandler will be in foul trouble, that’s just what he does. However, the Knicks work better with a smaller lineup. It allows them to get their 3-point shooter on the floor creating isolation situations for Anthony and Stoudemire. If a double comes, they can kick the ball out and their teammates can swing it around the perimeter for an open look. There will be several moments during this series where Novak is left open, though he should never be, and he will drain an important three.

As much as they would like to, the Knicks’ starters do not match up well with those of the Heat. Their bench will be the key to keeping the games close. Miami’s ball movement stagnates when their bench is on the floor which is why Erick Spolstra likes to keep one or two of his stars on the floor with his bench unit. The bench is the advantage for the Knicks, however it would be disastrous to rely on them for significant periods of time against the fourth best defense in the NBA.

It may take a game or two, depending on Wade’s injured finger, but the Flying Death Machine should return to form and terrorize the league once more. New York will try and run but the Heat, despite their sixteenth rank pace of 91.2 are some of the best in the open floor.

It was fun, New York.

Doyle Rader predicts: Heat defeat the Knicks 4-1

Travis Huse predicts: Heat defeat the Knicks 4-2

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Chicago Bulls vs. Philadelphia 76ers First Round Preview

Why so serious?

It was an almost monumental collapse that sent the Philadelphia 76ers to the verge of missing the playoffs entirely. Luckily, they aren’t the 2007 New York Mets and they just squeezed into the postseason, aided by the perpetual hump that taunts the Milwaukee Bucks. As with anything in this culture of spin, the Sixers readily admitted that they prefer to face the Chicago Bulls, who are the number one seed in the East. It seems as though they have an aversion to playing the Miami Heat and as such they didn’t even try to win their last regular season game so that they could lock up the eighth seed. If this logic seems flawed, that’s because it is. Yet, when a team realizes who and what it is, as the Sixers may have done as they watched their excellent first half of the season be for not, they must adapt to a mindset that reaches above limited expectations. Therefore: bring on the Bulls!

Obviously, this is not an ideal scenario for the Sixers. They are the eighth seed and have lost all sense of identity as the shortened season slogged into a battle of attrition with body, fatigue, and Doug Collins. Despite having capable players and some depth the defined roles of players have been blurred and they can no longer threaten an opponent from all sides. Especially in late game situations, Philadelphia becomes a haphazard mess as player take arrant, contested jumpers and become uninterested defensively. Though they possess the ability to force turnovers late, and have done so repeatedly, their instinct to close and win games is nonexistent. If they hope to overcome this self-imposed obstacle they better have a damn good plan and execute it flawlessly because at the end of games, Chicago is their antithesis.

Perhaps, with an oft ailing Derrick Rose, the Sixers thought they matched up well with the Bulls. On paper, maybe. Andre Iguodala and Luol Deng matchup well and should cancel one another out. This same line of thinking is extended to the matchups of Elton Brand and Carlos Boozer; and Lou Williams and the shell formerly known as Rip Hamilton, who, despite riding the pine (a dated term as the folding chairs the players sit on resemble the luxury of a fine recliner) for much of the season, has shown occasional bursts of his former, productive self; and Thaddeus Young, with his range, could conceivably draw Taj Gibson out of the paint, where his shot blocking is to be feared. That is where the comparisons, flawed as they are, end.

Jrue Holiday is not the reigning NBA MVP, Rose is. Evan Turner was the second overall draft pick a couple of years ago but he has yet to fully understand his roll on the Sixers and can get completely lost over the course of a game. Then there is Jodie Meeks and Spencer Hawes. All are decent players, unrefined, but decent nonetheless. Yet, they cannot fully match the depth that Chicago brings to the table.

The Bulls, to go along with the players already mentioned, have Joakim Noah, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, John Lucas, C.J. Watson, Omer Asik, Mike James (remember him?), and the main man, Brian Scalabrine. Here the advantage is the Bulls’. Oh, and they have Rose.

One interesting note, however, is that the Sixers, this season, performed better against the Bulls when Rose was on the court. Their net rating goes from -5.2 with him on the bench to 5.8 while he is in the game. This can be attributed to the rise in their 3-point percentage from 18.8 percent to 26.3 percent with Rose on the floor.

It will be interesting to see who Iguodala guards. He will likely split time between Rose and Deng but when not guarding one, the other has the potential to thrive.

Personnel aside, the Bulls implement one of the most disciplined defenses in the league. They hold their opponents to a league low 88.2 points per game on 42.1 percent field goal shooting, a number that is second best in the league. Chicago also allowed a league low in number of 3-point shots they allowed their opponents to take as they are quick to chase players off the arc, forcing them into the teeth of their defense. Perhaps the heart of their defense is their rebounding. They led the league in defensive rebounding, rarely allowing a second chance opportunity. What the Bulls lack in mediocre offense, and it is just that, make no mistake, they more than make up for in superb defense that will be tough for the Sixers to crack.

This series will be dominated by defense. The 76ers have the third best defense in the NBA so Chicago shouldn’t feel all high and mighty entering this match up. Where the Sixers should try and exploit the Bulls is by getting to the free throw line. Philadelphia is much more adept at creating fouls and going to the line than Chicago. This could be a great equalizer as the Sixers are ranked 23 in points per game and 24 in pace.

Essentially, the meeting of the Bulls and Sixers will not be exciting to the casual fan. It will be marred with slow, tedious action, countless turnovers forced by two good defenses, and a veritable lack of scoring. In the end the Bulls will out bore (and it will be boring) the Sixers and advance to the second round. One could hope this series would be similar to the Bulls and Pacers first round meeting last season, but that seems a bit far-fetched. Those Pacers were hungry, these Sixers are lost.

Doyle Rader predicts: Bulls defeat 76ers 4-1

Travis Huse predicts: Bulls defeat 76ers 4-1

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World Peace Suspended

Elbow that shook the world

Nope, that is not a headline about Syria. If it was it would be much more bleak. Speaking of which, go read some international news, it is actually important. Anyway, Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, has been suspended by the NBA for seven games.

The suspension, which should shock no one, was handed down by the league after World Peace, after a left handed dunk in the game between the Lakers and Thunder, became demonstrative in his celebration which concluded with an elbow to the head of James Harden. Harden was forced to leave the game with concussion-like symptoms and did not return. World Peace was ejected.

With the NBA’s ruling that World Peace will be suspended for seven games, the Lakers lose a valuable member of their rotation that has been playing well as Kobe Bryant sat to recover from injury as the playoffs approached. The Lakers have only one regular season game remaining so the next time that World Peace could see playing time would be if the Lakers were to play a game seven against their first round opponent in the playoffs. That is, of course, if the Lakers do not advance to the second round sooner.

Los Angeles currently holds the third seed in the Western Conference and are slated to play (as of the evening of April 24) the Denver Nuggets in the first round as they hold a half game lead over the Dallas Mavericks.

As many were looking for blood, citing World Peace’s past forays into misconduct, Mark Followill points out that this is a rather long suspension for such an act via Twitter:

So Ron-Ron gets 7 games. No prob w/ it. Altho to reiterate, its an unheard of suspension length in NBA for this type incident

and he continues:

7 game suspensions are typically for fighting, run-ins w/ officials or off court transgressions. The hammer definitely came down hard here

It is harsh penalty but the media storm that was created had an effect on the length of the suspension.

World Peace has released a statement concerning his suspension on his website stating:

“I apologize to the Oklahoma City Thunder fans and the OKC organization. I look foward [sic] to getting back on the floor with my teammates and competing for the Lakers fans.”

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Amar’e Stoudemire channels the Based God

In Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, Amare Stoudemire was fired up. His 22 points and 12 rebounds helped the Knicks post a 113 to 112 victory over the Hawks and it looked like Stoudemire was “hungry” for more. It certainly looks like he caught a craving for some Wonton Soup. Yes, that’s right, Amar’e was imitating one of Lil B’s signature gestures as he ran down the court in celebration. Don’t believe me? Check out this .gif I created (actually they were two separate ones, I just merged them) and judge for yourself. Amar’e already thinks he looks like Jesus with his Black Jesus tattoo, which signifies his alter ego, so clearly this is his next logical progression on the path to becoming based. THANK YOU BASED GOD!

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The Kobe Beef’s NBA Awards 2012

And the winners are...

Consensus be damned! (Except there is a general consensus.) This is how we see it. Travis Huse and Doyle Rader dish out their NBA award winners for the lockout shortened season.

Executive of the Year:

TH: RC Buford, San Antonio Spurs

Before the season, Tony Parker stated that the Spurs could no longer compete for a championship. After this, the Spurs were looking to trade Parker away in order to rid themselves of Richard Jefferson‘s contract, with no success. In between then and now the following happened:

1. Traded George Hill to the Pacers for standout rookie Kawhi Leonard.
2. Traded Richard Jefferson for Steven Jackson. If this were any other team, would’ve been a bad move.
3. Signed Boris Diaw and Patty Mills. Since the signing of Diaw, the Spurs have a record of 15-2.

Easy enough in my books.

DR: Larry Bird, Indiana Pacers

Larry Bird has done a remarkable job as GM this season. He traded for George Hill on Draft Day (love Kawhi but they are loaded at small forward), dumped the bloated contract of James Posey, signed David West, the most unheralded acquisition of the year, and traded a second round pick, SECOND ROUND!, for Leandro Barbosa. Oh, and he appointed Frank Vogel as the head coach.

Coach of the Year:

TH: Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers

I really enjoy George Hill and David West, but those two additions don’t exactly force an 8th seed team up to 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. Yet, that’s where this Pacers team sits. Gregg Popovich might deserve this one, as well, for maintaining the record Spurs fans expect, while changing their play significantly. If Phil Jackson couldn’t win the award in back-to-back seasons (he only won one), Tom Thibodeau certainly doesn’t deserve it.

DR: Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers

(So much Pacer love already, deal with it.) Frank Vogel, since taking the reins of the Pacers, has transformed Indiana into a fighting, spitting, punching, card playing roustabout. In a shortened season they have won more games than they did last year when they scraped into the eighth seed. Under Vogel, the Pacers have improved exponentially. Last season they posted an effective win percentage of 45, this year they have posted one around 62 and because of that they are the third seed in the East.

Most Improved Player:

TH: Ryan Anderson, Orlando Magic

To me, taking Jeremy Lin is a cop-out. There are too many external factors in his rise to fame, and the dude averages like 25 turnovers a game. Linsanity is a feel-good story and all, but Anderson proved to be an immensely consistent player, which shows actual improvement instead of just an increase in playing time. I’ll probably lose on this one, but at least I have conviction.

DR: Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks

(I copped out.) Jeremy Lin should be named the Most Improved Player. He came out of nowhere (unless you actually watch basketball), plays for the Knicks, led them on a miraculous win streak, and nailed game winners. That pretty much seals the deal for the kid who slept on couches despite having a Harvard degree. Linsanity was fun and should be rewarded. Other notables, however, are Ersan Ilyasova, Kyle Lowry, and Ryan Anderson.

Sixth Man of the Year:

TH: James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder

Harden is the easy choice here. He’s a premier scorer, in the perfect sixth man capacity. Essentially, Harden does what Manu Ginobili and Jason Terry did the years they won the award. Plus, sixth men are like closers in baseball, they need some style. Harden has that in droves.

DR: James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder

James Harden should, after the taint that Lamar Odom smeared all over this award, rightfully restore this award to its rightful, albeit awkward, place. I could go into detail but he is a shoe-in.

Defensive Player of the Year:

TH: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies

Allen gets this, he’s the new Bruce Bowen. He terrifies everyone.

DR: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies

Tony Allen is the most feared perimeter defender in the league. This award is his, hands down. There aren’t any flashy stats (actually, Synergy Sports may have them but I am poor and cannot afford a membership) to back up his defensive abilities other than his steals numbers. You have to watch him play. Opponents cannot dislodge him, he harries everyone. Also, he is a bulldozer fighting through screens. He sticks to his man and gets a hand up to contest everything. The way Allen is playing is on par with Artest in 2004.

Rookie of the Year:

TH: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

It’s obviously a tossup between Irving and Ricky Rubio, and I’ll take Irving. Rubio came in the league with less expectations, but Irving was shockingly NBA-ready after only playing 8 games in college. He’s already the franchise’s cornerstone, a title that Rubio may never achieve.

DR: Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves

I have to give Rookie of the Year to Ricky Rubio. There was so much hype surrounding him before he came to play in the NBA that he caught a lot of flak. However, he performed above everyone’s expectations. He changed the Timberwolves from a bottom feeder into a potential playoff team. Defensively, despite his proclivity to be Spanish, he set the tone for what was once a porous sieve. Oh, and his passes…amazing.

Most Valuable Player:

TH: LeBron James, Miami Heat

I don’t like the idea of giving Lebron another MVP (giving him two more than Kobe, one more than Tim Duncan), but he’s been spectacular this season (averaging 27-8-6). He’s still the most talented player in the game.  Also, awards don’t include the playoffs, so if he chokes again, he’ll still have this trophy. Cool, I guess.

DR: LeBron James, Miami Heat

LeBron James is the clear choice for MVP. He is shooting 53.1 percent from the floor, which is the best field goal percentage of his career. On top of that he is averaging 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and just under two steals per game. These are Gervin-esque numbers. It is literally unthinkable to give the MVP to anyone else.

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