Friday, January 23, 2009

Midseason Recap

It's a little past halfway of this year's NBA season...and I want to point out some surprises so far.

First of all, the East has emerged as a dominant force (it is now stronger than the West). For the last four, five years, the West has consistently produced stellar teams including the Spurs, Suns, Jazz, Lakers, Houston, Dallas, and New Orleans. The Spurs and Suns can't see any bright spots in their future. Suns will never learn how to play defense, and the Spurs are just getting too old. However, as long as Duncan is with San Antonio, they'll make it into the playoffs every year (I mean the guy is just amazing).  The only teams that I see as viable candidates to make the finals are the Lakers and New Orleans. Rockets came into this season with high expectations, but they have underperformed. What do you expect with T-Mac on the team... (but not playing - the poor soul is a cripple).  Denver deserves honorable mention - Billups in quite an underrated PG. Without Anthony, Billups was able to lead the Nuggets to a solid 7-3 in their last 10. 

Anyways, the West has several decent team, but the East has all the true powerhouses. Celtics, Cavs, and Magic. The Magic are extremely surprising...their defense is pretty solid and they have a set of amazing shooters - J.N., Hedo, and Rashard. Then Superman to beast up the boards. Cavs, well LeBron - my midseason MVP handsdown. He singlehandedly leads his team every night, and they are one of the top title contenders. Unlike Kobe and MJ, LeBron does not really have a second solid player to support him -- which aggrandizes his accomplishments (in a good sense of course).

Here you go: 

Top MVP Choices
1. LeBron James
2. Kobe Bryant
3. Dwight Howard
4. Chris Paul
5. KG or Tim Duncan

Most of teams are able to play together and win games - no single player is the absolute superstar save Cavs, Lakers, Hornets, and the Magic.

Top Title Contenders
1. Celtics
2. Lakers
3. Cavs
4. Magic
5. Hornets

What do you guys think?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lakers and More

Well, most of you watched this high-intensity game.

The Magic pulled off a major upset and stopped history from repeating itself by finally beating LA at Staples. Down the stretch (especially in the fourth quarter), I noticed the Lakers not able to keep up with the sharpshooting of Jameer Nelson. Nelson, who hit 3 key 3 pointers over the course of the 4th quarter, ultimately kept his team in the game. On the other hand, Bryant struggled continuously during the 4th going 3-11 and missing 2 crucial jumpers (strange, eh?). They are on a two game losing streak! Next up: The Cavs. Who's going to stop LBJ's overpowering body?

It's not looking so bright for the Lakers right now, but I'm sure they'll get back on track. Just a note: In their last 9 games, the Lakers have allowed 8 of their opponents to score above 100 points. Defense is something they need to work on if they want to get back into shape.

Celtics have won four straight (even though they played mediocre teams) it is just what they need to get back on track. Rondo had a stellar game with 8 points, 9 rebounds, 14 assists, and 2 steals. Out of the Big-3, Allen was on target with 25 points (8-12 shooting)...with 0 assists and 1 rebound. He should plan on being more aggressive in and around the net. During his days in Seattle, he average 5 boards and 5 dishes, more or less. Now it's more like 3 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Anyways, keep shooting Sugar Ray, you'll always be good at that.

Some other surprises...OKC defeated the Pistons! Blasphemy! No not blasphemy. Durant and Green led the Thunder to a horrifying defeat over the Detroit Pistons. Both teams shot terribly, but in the end, OKC had about 12 more FT attempts, 17 more rebounds, and 9 more assists. Teamwork my friends, teamwork.

Philly's win over the Spurs was solid. Don't have much to say about the game though.

Top 10 Plays

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dear Boston...

I am a concerned and devoted fan of the green team. They have fought, struggled, won, but ultimately it has all led to this. Every team has their ups and downs, but this is just bewildering. After a near flawless start of 27-2, the Celtics have been 2-7 in their last 9 games. I have looked everywhere and anywhere for answers to the question: Why? I don't want to blame the team or the organization. Time and time again, the Celtics have proved themselves...remember the playoffs last year where they struggled in every round (especially with the young, naive Hawks). This has probably been the lowest the team has been since the arrival of the Big 3. Here I will try to explain potential reasons why...

Team Chemistry - Well, I was reading the article Wojnarowski wrote, and he really hits the nail when he mentions KG's overbearing nature. Obviously, I have tremendous respect for the Big Ticket. The guy is more focused than a fat kid eating his chocolate cake. Out of the Big 3, this is always how I've viewed them in terms of leadership.

KG - The King - He leads the way for the team, both on and off the court. His emotional nature has trickled down to each of the Celtics' players. Every night he plays his heart and is the only person who has never given up or complained about his team. Remember those days in Minnesota? Yes, they were losers but you never heard a peep out of KG. He has a right to be the leader of this veteran Celtics team. But then it too much for the younger guys like Rondo?

Pierce - Well, Paul Pierce is just Paul Pierce. All my Laker buddies hate him to death. Well, screw you (sorry about that). Pierce has been with the Celtics since day one and has seen this organization in the pits and on the hills of glory. He understands the team, the organization, the coaches better than anyone else. His tendency to go the rim is not a sign of weakness, but a strategy, well, that apparently works. He's KG's number one man. Out of the Big Three - Pierce and KG share the closest relationship.

Ray Allen - Both KG and Pierce have admitted that in hairy situations, Allen is their go to guy. However, Allen's inconsistencies on the court (esp. from the 3PT line) have hurt the team this year. One game he went 0-9 from beyond the arc. Another game he was burning hot. He is sort of the third wheel in this superstar lineup. There's not much to say about Allen other than his presence as a veteran and semi-consistent shooting patterns.

Anyways, Rondo and Perkins are both young and talented but are not all-star or superstar caliber players. Part of the frustration lies within the veteran's inability to rely on the bench and fellow starters. At first, the team's trip to Europe was a great bonding experience. The championship run made the team as tight as a Boy Scout knot. The Laker game (quite a psychological game) has something to do with the team's failing to score and play defense.

Fatigue - Celtics have to be freakishly tired. The tremendous win streak must've was quite a toll on the team. The pressure to keep the fire going has led to a deterioration in the team's playing. December was a pinnacle for the team (until the LA game). Points, assists, steals, and rebounds have all gone down in this last month. Losing has a psychological effect on people. Relentless play from the Celtics in the last year or so have only compounded this cold streak by weakening them physically and mentally. (Click the link)

Effects of Winning and Losing

No more Irish Luck - The Irish luck disappeared. The magic. The love. The fight. All gone in the course of 2 weeks. Lucky green? This team was meant to repeat. I'm not giving up...the Celtics are being lead by bloodthirsty hound(s). KG wants another ring - no doubt. I expect sometime by the end of this month for him and his team to get back on track even though they face a couple tough teams including the Magic, Suns, Detroit. Anyways, they're out of luck and it's time for the team to use some serious willpower and light up the basketball court like the olden days.

Bench - Bench sucks. Sorry, but an overeliance on Eddie House and Tony Allen (injured) is a primary reason the Celtics cannot trust the bench. Rivers has to exercise his options with O' Bryant and Pruitt. Pierce, Garnett, and Allen are all playing more this season. The abundance of pressure and stress is taking a toll on the oldies.

Anyways, enough blabbering.

Dear Celtics,
You better get your head out of the dumps. Start playing like you did in the beginning of the year. Ray Allen shoot 3's like you did with the Bucks and Sonics. Pierce keep getting fouls and playing like a stud. Garnett, relax a little, the team won't thrive under your constant eye. Rondo, you have some serious potential with your passing abilities - play hard. Perkins, learn from Garnett and play with that passion. House, T. Allen, Powe, and the others on the bench, you guys need to step it up for the starters.

Love always,

P.S. I love you.

Listen to Jump Around - House Of Pain written by a true Irish.