Good Week/Bad Week – 8/2/13

With All-Star Weekend just around the corner, and the trade deadline looming, there’s been an interesting dynamic around the league this week, although there has’t really been many surprises. But as usual, there have been some big plays, some bad plays, and trade rumors galore. We’re looking at you Kris Humphries.

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

Good Week

Rajon Rondo

Boston Celtics

It’s been a pretty good week for a number of teams around the league. Miami are looking every bit like the champions they are, Denver are starting to heat up, and despite their loss last night, San Antonio are arguably the most consistent team in the NBA. However, for sheer resilience, we’ve given this one to the the Celts.

Rewind a few weeks and The Green were struggling to stay in the playoff picture. They were below .500, and looking listless, lackluster and lethargic (and plenty of other adjectives that don’t begin with L). Then in the space of a week, they lost their star point guard for the rest of the campaign, with Jared Sullinger joining him on the sideline for the same period of time. It looked like the beginning of the end in Boston.

But in traditional Celtics style, the team refused to accept the conventional. They’re now on a 6 game winning streak, including getting the W over the Lakers, the Clippers and the Heat in the process. Not bad for a team that were all but written off when Rondo’s diagnosis came in.

On a personal level, KG is playing great basketball, and a higher shooting percentage than when Rondo was in the team (as well as reaching 25,000 career points). Add to this impressive performances by Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Jeff Green, and Boston are starting to quietly creep up the standings.

Rajon who?

Honourable mentions: Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets, James Harden, Kevin Garnett.

Bad Week

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.Orlando Magic

We’ve been trying to give the post-D12 Magic the benefit of the doubt so far this season, but their time has finally run out. Orlando are on a 12 game losing streak, their longest for 9 years. Let’s face it, they stink.

For a team that started the season with such promise, it’s sad to see just how far they’ve fallen. Ravaged by injuries, most significantly to their star center Glen Davis, and with a group of young players struggling to find their feet, their main hope now is just to get a high lottery pick and get through the season without losing too much dignity. We’re not going to lie, it will be a struggle.

Almost the exact opposite of Boston’s reaction after Rondo’s injury, since Big Baby was ruled out, Orlando have lost their direction and lost their fight. Although Vucevic has been promising with the added minutes, they’re destined to spend the rest of the season in basketball’s basement. The rebuilding process is well and truly underway but, unfortunately, it may take a little longer than planned.

But look on the bright side, Magic Fans. Dwight might end up missing the post-season too. So every cloud…

Honourable mentions: Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings (honourable honourable mention for DeMarcus Cousins), Charlotte Bobcats (duh).   

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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…)

Good Week/Bad Week – 27/12/12

A busy festive period culminated in 5 games on Christmas day, including a Los Angeles double header. We take a look at this week’s winners and losers…

Good Week

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LA Clippers

The Clips are on a franchise-record 14 game winning streak. Aside from the athleticism of starters Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, they also possess the highest scoring bench in the NBA this season.

With their confidence growing by the game, and this level of depth in their squad, they’re currently number one in the West, and the league overall. For a moribund franchise once considered the joke of the NBA, this is uncharted territory.

As LA’s other team still struggles to find their feet, and the Oklahoma City Thunder faltering, things look good for Vinny Del Negro’s men.

Rating: 10/10 for effort and commitment, but minus several thousand for style (See below)

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Honourable mentions: Miami Heat, Houston Rockets, Mike Miller.

Bad Week

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Brooklyn Nets/ Avery Johnson

After a promising start to the season and an 11-4 record, Brooklyn has now lost 10 of their last 13 games, and their head coach.

The Nets suffered their worst home loss of the season on Christmas day, and to make matters worse it was against a division rival. They followed this with a 108-93 loss to the Bucks on Wednesday night, and their coach of the last 2-and-a-half years was handed his marching orders.

So, did Avery Johnson deserve to follow Mike Brown as the second coaching casualty of the season? Only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure: Deron Williams and company will need to up their game if they free spending Nets are to get anywhere this (next) year.

Rating: Don’t panic. It’s only the Bobcats up next…

Honourable mentions: Charlotte Bobcats, Washington Wizards, Russell Westbrook.

Milestones and MVPs

There have been a number of milestones hit over the course of the season so far. And, while we can’t document them all here (partly because it would take too long, but mostly because we’re lazy and don’t remember most of them) here are the big two… from the big two.

LebronLeBron – Love him or loathe him, you can’t argue with the numbers. Not content with his NBA championship ring and Olympic gold medal, being the regular season MVP and finals MVP, King James was voted Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year 2012 last month.

Following his infamous ‘decision’ to leave Cleveland, LeBron has moved from strength to strength in Miami. He’s had a strong start to the season so far, and is already in the running to retain his MVP crown.

Personally, apart from his self appointed nickname, we don’t really mind LeBron. Just don’t tell Skip Bayless…

 

 

Kobe B

Kobe – On December 5th 2012, in a game against the New Orleans Hornets, Kobe Bryant became the youngest player ever to reach 30,000 points. He now joins an elite list of basketball greats including Wilt Chamberlain (31,419 points), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928) and Michael Jordan (32,292) as the only five players in NBA history to break the 30,000-point barrier.

Although he has taken the longest number of games to get there (1,179), at just 34 years old, Kobe is within touching distance of Kareem’s record. Lets just hope he stays healthy.