Good Week/Bad Week – 2/11/15

So the first week of the season is officially in the books… 

Well, almost in the books. OK, so we’re 3 games in. But regardless of the limited number of match-ups so far, we’ve seen enough to get a good idea of how the season might start shaping up. Also, LeBron dressed as Prince. That too.

Here’s a quick roundup of this week’s biggest winners and losers (Mamba fans, look away now):

Good Week

Steph 1

Steph Curry

Since dropping 24 points in the first quarter on opening night against the Pelicans, Stephen Curry hasn’t just been good – he’s been terrifying.

In fact, last year’s MVP is averaging just over 39 points so far this season, and more than 7 assists per contest. The Warriors have won all three of their games so far by double-digits, two of which came against New Orleans. And it’s not just his dominance from downtown that continues to raise mono-eyebrows.

What make Golden State’s star player so good is the fact that he can beat you in so many ways. His NBA-season-high 53 points in the 134-120 road win in NOLA also saw him go 11-for-11 from the line, and included 9 assists and 4 steals.

After sinking a 31-foot three-ball over 6-foot-10 Anthony Davis, Curry simply called it ‘a dumb shot that went in’.

In other words, Steph’s just being Steph. Sorry rest-of-the-NBA…

Honourable mentions: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili (the newly-crowned winningest trio in NBA history)

 

Bad Week

Kobe 1

Kobe Bryant

Look, we know it’s not all on Kobe.

The Lakers are, as expected, a complete mess so far this season. But the man who brought five titles to the Staples Center has been at the heart of everything that’s gone wrong in LA.

Kobe missed 12 of his 15 shots against the Mavericks, taking his FG % to a career-low 31% – topping only James Harden (more on him later) and Monta Ellis amongst 133 qualified players so far this season.

And it’s not just on the court that he seems to be struggling. The self-appointed ‘200th best player in the league’ took a day off from Lakers practice on Monday, because he was ‘too angry with himself’, according to coach Byron Scott.

His words? Simple – ‘I freaking suck’. Which, at the very least, is an honest assessment. But whether you like Kobe or not, it’s a sad sight to see one of the NBA’s greatest end his career like this, especially after working so hard to come back from last year’s season-ending shoulder problem.

Unfortunately though, it’s time to face facts. The days of you carrying this team are over Mamba. Torn rotator cuff, or no torn rotator cuff.

Honourable mentions: Houston Rockets, James Harden, James Harden’s teammates.

 

Brandon Knight Bandwagon

Here at UKNBA, we hate to jump on the bandwagon. However, in our continued effort to provide more relevant, regular and engaging content, we’ve decided it’s time to change our ways. So expect a lot more bandwagon-jumping as the season draws to a close and the play-offs begin. And, as bandwagon’s go, we couldn’t really have picked a better one to start with.

 brandon knight

OK, we know we’re late to this one, but here goes: Brandon Knight (or more accurately DeAndre Jordan) broke the internet. If you haven’t seen the monster dunk in question, see below. Jordan’s dunk, coming courtesy of a Chris Paul lob in the second quarter, was as good as any of his famous namesakes. The Clipper’s eventually won this bout with the Pistons 129-97, but it was Brandon Knight’s name that remains on everyone’s lips.

Sure, Knight could maybe have moved a little more, but when the guy you’re up against has half a foot and over 50 pounds on you, it doesn’t really seem like a fair fight. Luckily, Knight seemed to find the funny side, tweeting:

‘It wasn’t in the scouting reports that the clippers threw lobs lol’ 

Keep that chin up Brandon Knight. Because those jokes aren’t going away any time soon…

Good Week/Bad Week – 25/2/13

Now we’ve had a week to get over the extremely exciting and nail-biting events of the trade deadline (sarcasm on standby), and it’s time to get back down to business. There have been a few telling match-ups, some more Kobe drama, and the unfortunate passing of one of the games true legends. And don’t even get us started on 50th birthdays…

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

Good Week

LeBron_James_Heat

Miami Heat

Here at uknba, we’ve tried to avoid stating the obvious as much as possible. Unfortunately, we cannot put it off any longer: the Miami Heat are good. They’re really, really good.

The Heat are currently on an eleven game win streak, and it shows no sign of ending any time soon. Since the 3rd of February LeBron James and company have beaten the Raptors, the Bobcats, the Rockets, the Clippers, the Lakers, the Trail Blazers, the Thunder, the Hawks, the Bulls, the 76ers and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They’re only 3 wins away from a franchise record, and are playing some of their best basketball of the season.

On a personal level, Dwayne Wade is back to the top of his game after a few shaky starts, and a benched fourth quarter last month . Ray Allen is chipping in, and Chris Bosch is doing what Chris Bosh does (although he needs to learn to close his legs – see the All Star Game if you haven’t already). However, as good as the team have been, the King has been a whole lot better.

In the past week, LeBron averaged 23.5 points, 9.3 assists and 7.8 rebounds. On top of that, he has one triple-double and two double-doubles in the four games he’s played. Last years MVP is unquestionably this years MVP-in-waiting, and, barring a massive effort from any of the other main contenders before the end of the season, this one doesn’t even look close. As for those rumours about LeBron going back to Cleveland? We’ll file that away in the long-shot pile.

So we’ll finally say it: The road to the Finals definitely looks like it’ll run through Miami. Hey, if it ain’t broke…

Honourable mentions: Memphis Grizzlies, Indiana Pacers, Tony Parker.

Bad Week

JJ

.Orlando Magic

Far be it from us to kick a dog while it’s down but, unfortunately, on this occasion we’ve been left no choice. This Magic team isn’t just down; it’s dead.

This time a week or so ago, there seemed to be a little light at the end of a very long tunnel, when they beat the Blazers to end their previous skid. Let’s just say it was short lived. Since then the abysmal Magic have lost another five in a row, and show no sign of heating up any time soon.

Losing JJ Redick (arguably their best player) on deadline day showed exactly what this teams aims are. Especially with the relatively low return they got as a result. 3 relatively average players and a 2nd round pick? It’s like the D12 saga all over again.

To be fair to them, on Saturday night the new additions looked to display a hunger on the court that’s been severely lacking in recent weeks. The bad news? They still lost by more than 20. Hunger is as hunger does, but it’s not gonna keep the fans entertained. After losing the battle of the worst teams in the league just under a week ago, the Magic play the Kings on Thursday to show how far down the NBA pecking order they’ve really slipped.

Look on the bright side Orlando. At least you’ll have a team next year…

Honourable mentions: Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, The Fans (seriously, did you see the trade deadline?).   

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

Print

.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).   

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…

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.