All Star Match-ups – Chris Paul vs. Brook Lopez

So, with the All Star Game little under a week away, it’s time for some predictions. And while we’re not going to be bold enough to come up with a score, all this week we’ll be concentrating on the starters for each conference. First up? Chris Paul vs. Brook Lopez.

WEST – G – CP3 (LA Clippers) 

CP3

Advantages: Speed, agility, passing. Six time All-Star.

Disadvantages: May struggle rebounding, been out for a while,

EAST – G – Brook Lopez (Brooklyn Nets)

Brook Lopez

Advantages: Freakishly tall (7ft), top 4 in NBA in PER, street cred (BROOKLYN).

Disadvantages: He’s not Rondo, he’s not Rondo, he’s not Rondo.

Verdict – Lopez is having a great season for the nets, but we’ll take CP3 all day long in this one.

WEST 1 EAST 0 

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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?

 

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…

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…)

The season so far…

So, with the 67th NBA season roughly one fifth of the way through, and the NBA and ESPN finally agreeing a deal to screen live games in the UK, it seemed the perfect time to start this blog. And for anyone new to basketball, or those who had to live off scraps of NBA tonight and Pardon the Interruption (lets not even get started on League Pass), here are some things you may have missed this season so far…

The biggest trade of the Offseason: Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard,

The Lakers acquired Dwight Howard from Orlando in a trade which included 4 teams and 12 players. So far, Dwight has been pretty average in LA. Also, he’s not very good at free throws (see: Hack-a-Howard).

The first coaching casualty of the season: Mike Brown

Mike Brown
Lakers again. Mike Brown lost his job as the Hollywood Head Coach just five games into the season, becoming the third fastest firing in NBA history.

Immediately following this, the prospect of the third coming of Phil Jackson is widely mentioned. Lakers fans exited. Mike D’Antoni hired. Lakers fans less excited.

Overreaction of the season so far: Charlotte Bobcats

Bobcats

After only winning 7 in last year’s lockout shortened season, they took just 12 games to get there this season. Cue wild celebrations and high-fives all round. Michael Jordan calls it ‘The greatest accomplishment of my entire career’ (Warning: not actual quote).

Unfortunately, Charlotte have not won since…

Story of the season so far: New Orleans name change

Pelicans

New Orleans reportedly consider changing their name from the New Orleans Hornets, to the New Orleans Pelicans. Other potential names considered reported as ‘New Orleans Puppies’, ‘New Orleans Honey Badgers’ and the ‘New Orleans Hashtags’.

In all seriousness, I hope that this change doesn’t end up happening. I know that some teams have had success using their state birds for naming purposes (particularly any incarnation of the Cardinals), but a line has to be drawn somewhere…

Surprise of the season so far: Thunder/Clippers/Warriors

Disappointment of the season so far: Lakers