3 Things We Learned From MLK Day

OK, so we realise that this post should really have gone up yesterday. But, the fact that there were very few games yesterday, coupled with the terrible weather, means that we feel entitled to stretch the rules of relevancy. Also, it was a day that deserves to be remembered for a lot more than basketball. But mostly, we blame the snow.

Here are 3 things we learned from Monday’s action:

 

Pacers vs. Grizzlies

Pacers vs. Grizzlies will not set the world alight

The first game of the day was Pacers vs. Grizzlies. Played in Memphis, it seemed quite fitting. The problem was, the two teams were never going to provide the showpiece game that the occasion required. Both teams rank in the top five defenses, and stink on offense. And don’t let the relatively dramatic finish fool you, this one was dull. With Indiana leading the Central, and gaining pace (sorry) in the East, their game plan is clearly working. Just don’t expect showtime in Indy anytime soon…(or Tennessee – sorry Grizz fans).

york-knicks-v-brooklyn-nets-Nets vs. Knicks rivalry is just heating up

New York lost to their neighbours at the Garden, to tie the series at 2-2 for the season. Not only was the game close, finishing 88-85 in favour of Brooklyn, but it even had post-game drama (See: J.R. Smith and Kris Humphries trash talking on twitter). If it wasn’t for Carmelo going cold in the fourth, it genuinely could have gone either way. The Nets are now 11-2 under P.J. Carlesimo, and only one game back in the Atlantic. Although they’re done squaring off in the regular season, we have a feeling that this rivalry has only just begun…

Pau-Gasol


Pau may be done in L.A. 

Before they took on the Bulls on Monday night, head coach Mike D’Antoni announced that he would be benching Pau Gasol for the foreseeable future. With the Spaniard struggling to fit into D’Antoni’s system, and the trade deadline looming, it may be coming to the end of Pau’s time in Hollywood. Although he’s by no means the only one struggling (we’re looking at you Dwight Howard and Steve Nash), he is potentially the most expendable. And with Gasol as good as stating that he’d consider moving on to pastures new, it might only be a matter of time.

The question is, where would he go?

 

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NBA London

The third ever regular season game played in the UK took place last night. The Knicks beat the Pistons 102-87. The result itself was almost a forgone conclusion, with New York heavily favoured from the outset. But for basketball lovers in the UK, the impact of the game could prove far greater than what was on the scoreboard at the end of the night…

NBA London

What we liked

There were a lot of positives to the game, and none more so than the increased exposure of the sport this side of the Atlantic. At the start of the season, no games were even being televised in the UK. As part of their agreement to show NBA London, Sky announced that they will be showing games on Sundays for the rest of the season. NBA is back. And this time, no subscription is required.

Aside from TV coverage, the game at the O2 was a sell-out. Despite the inflated ticket prices, almost 20,000 fans were in attendance to see Carmello and company amble their way to victory. Whatever their previous basketball experience, the crowd was energetic and it seemed like there was a genuinely good atmosphere. Not only does this mean more attention is being given to the sport, it also means that the league is likely to want to come back.

Also, we’re huge fans of Kevin Cadle in a makeshift studio (and watching basketball at a reasonable hour).

What we didn’t like

Sure, the game could have been more competitive. And sure, it would have been nice to have a more instantly recognisable team than the Pistons (who were, incidentally, meant to be at home – despite New York supporters outnumbering Piston supporters roughly 1295 to 1). The main problem however, unfortunately came with the amateur nature of the coverage.

Firstly, aside from the very talented and under appreciated Kevin Cadle (did we mention we like Kevin Cadle), the commentary team left a lot to be desired. Mike Shaft and Rob Paternostro unfortunately provided the bulk of it. While the latter (who is coach of the Leicester Riders British basketball team) actually performed pretty well, the former was just far too excitable to be taken seriously.

Shaft, who used to provide UK Basketball coverage, and has an extensive background in radio presenting. However, last night it sounded like he’d never watched a game before in his life. Alternating between ‘Wow’ and ‘Oh baby’ for every lay-up, his enthusiasm was only matched by his use of stock phrases (‘nothing but net’ being a particular favourite).

We’re sure he’s a very good commentator, and will grow back in to the role as the weeks go on, so we’re prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. But saying ‘we have a ten (or less) point ball game’ at every available opportunity is not particularly helping his cause. This is basketball Mike. It will be a 10 or less point game quite often. And that’s OK.

Add to this the unreliable virtual scoreboard, which either didn’t have a shot clock or simply disappeared, and roving reporter Julie Collier, who was very nice but had a hard time actually listening to her interviewee’s answers, and it’s clear that Sky don’t really know what to do with their live coverage yet.

With their NFL offering of a consistently high standard, there is definitely hope for the NBA. If they don’t manage to do the same, well hey. It’s just nice to have it back.

N.B. Hopefully they will also stop speaking about a potential European franchise at every opportunity. One step at a time…

Good Week/Bad Week – 18/1/13

It’s been another week of highs and lows around the NBA. We’ve had another LeBron Milestone, and the Suns parting ways with Alvin Gentry. We’ve had All-Star announcements. And, for UK fans, we’ve had NBA London spreading the popularity of the game this side of the pond.

We take a look at this week’s winners and losers…

Good Week

Pelican_lakes_entrance02

New Orleans Hornets

With the Nets continuing to impress under P.J. Carlesimo, this was a close cal. But for sheer resilience, we’ve gone for the resurgent men from the Big Easy.

After an embarrassing start to the season, the soon-to be Pelicans (see what we did there?) have looked like a different team of late. The return of Eric Gordon has definitely helped, and Anthony Davis is finally starting to put some decent time together on the court. The most impressive thing, however, has been the strength of the opposition faced.

In the last 10 days, New Orleans have beaten the Spurs, the Rockets, the T-Wolves, the 76ers and most recently the Celtics, only falling to the New York Knicks. For a team that made the Wizards and Raptors look good, it’s been nothing short of miraculous.

OK, so it’s probably too little too late. They’re still fighting it out at the bottom of the West, and they’re almost certainly going to miss out on the playoffs. But hey, they deserve some recognition. Also, possibly some pity.

We apologise to Pelicans everywhere…

Honourable mentions: Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, LeBron

Bad Week

Rockets

.Houston Rockets

From a bad team currently playing well , we go to a good team doing the complete opposite. Just where has it all gone wrong for the Rockets?

After winning five in a row, Kevin McHale’s have found themselves on the receiving end of a season-high four game losing streak. To make matters worse, they face the impressive Indiana Pacers tonight to start a four game road trip. Although their record at the Toyota Center is quite comfortable (14-7), their record on the road leaves a lot to be desired (7-11). To put it simply, they’re a very different team outside of Texas.

With James Harden and his fetching facial fur having a career year, and with their defense continuing to improve, it’s definitely not time to panic for Houston. They just need get some of that belief back that was so evident in December, and learn to play as a team as effectively as possible.

To Linfinity, and beyond…

Honourable mentions: Charlotte Bobcats (shocker), Minnesota Timberwolves (actually a shocker), Detroit Pistons (2 words: Jet. Lag.), Alvin Gentry.

Melo Melee

Melo

Often seen as one of the great rivalries of the NBA, Celtics Vs. Kicks is always a game that can get a little heated. And, unfortunately for Mike Woodson and the New York Knicks, last night was no different.

The Knickerbockers lost to the Celtics 102-96 last night, but it was the action after the game that made the headlines. The Melo-drama all came down to two players. One was Kevin Garnett… You can probably guess the other one.

Following an altercation in the fourth quarter (which resulted in both men receiving technical’s) and as the game finished, Anthony was seen walking down the away tunnel at Madison Square Guardian, heading for the Celtics locker room. After some screaming and shouting, Carmelo waited for Garnett outside the team bus. Security (and coach Mike Woodson) quickly intervened.

Melo & KG

OK, so the ‘melee’ we mentioned was maybe exaggerating a little. No punches were thrown, no fight was fought. The true damage caused by the incident is further beneath the surface. Chiefly, it’s highlighted a few things about the current state of the New York Knicks that they might not be too pleased about.

Carmelo Anthony is supposed to be the leader of this franchise, and a serious contender for this season’s MVP. Last night, he acted more like a playground bully trying to act tough. He had a tough night, shooting only 6 of 26, but come on. What did he even have to gain from the incident?

After a going 10-0 at home at the start of the season, Anthony and company are now 3-4 in their last 7 at MSG. Teams are no longer scared to come there, instead thinking that they can get a result. And, if they can antagonise Carmelo during the game, all the better.

If he really wants to be considered a serious contender in the race for MVP, he needs to put the petulance to one side, and start leading this team. If he doesn’t, it may just be another disappointing season in New York.

So stay Mellow Melo (no more puns, we promise…)

Good Week/Bad Week – 3/1/13

The turkey’s been thrown away, the diets have started, and it’s officially over. It can be a depressing time of the year for most people. But, if you love the NBA, it’s just beginning to get good. We take a look at the winners and losers of 2013 so far…

Good Week

Lee Warriors

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors have started 2013 like they finished 2012. Going quietly about their business, but getting it done.

Since losing to the Lakers on December 22nd, they’ve won four in a row, with victories coming against the Jazz, the 76ers, the Celtics and the Clippers. They’re now only 2.5 games back in the Pacific, and slowly but surely gathering momentum in the West.

With the Thunder, Clippers, Spurs and Grizzlies all starting strongly, it remains to be seen whether they can keep it up. But with David Lee (the only player in the league averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds) and Stephen Curry (insert equally impressive stat here) going from strength, you wouldn’t write them off.

Rating: Can we finally start to consider Lee and Curry for the All Star game now? Please?!?

Honourable mentions: JaVale McGee, Amar’e Stoudamire, James Harden.


Bad Week

Clippers

LA Clippers/ Blake Griffin

After showering them with praise last week, we can’t help but feel partly responsible for this one.

The Clippers franchise-record winning streak has come to an end, and they’ve lost 2 on the bounce in 2013. The losses to Denver and Golden State were convincing, and the latter meant that even with their impressive winning stretch, competition in the West is fierce.

2013 hasn’t been kind to Blake so far either. The big man had shot 50% or better in every game of their winning streak. He went a disappointing 4-for-11 from the field in Denver, and just 2-for-11 at Golden State. Add to that being on the receiving end of a Festus Ezeli elbow grab, a theatrical back flip, a three which hit the backboard, and the whole Warrior bench mocking him in unison, and it’s been a pretty bad week.

Rating: Maybe leave the Kia at home this week…

Honourable mentions: New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics.