Playoffs are here

 

So the Playoffs start on Saturday and it should be exciting, there are so many questions that need to be answered and a bevy of teams who could take home the crown. No one would be shocked to see any of the following teams win it all, Spurs, Heat, Thunder, Bulls, Celtics, Mavericks, and Lakers. Now that’s parity!!

 

Let’s start in the East.

 

Can Lebron make his MVP regular season translate to the Playoff’s? say what you want but he was absolutely brilliant against the Bulls last year even if he checked out in Dallas series, he will need to put it together for all 4 rounds if he wants the illusive ring. It will not be easy he will likely face a quality opponent in every round starting with the surprisingly defensive New York Knicks.

 

Speaking of the Knicks has any one player meant more to a team than Tyson Chandler, He has brought an intensity to the back end that has made the Knicks a top 5 defensive team, the Knicks have had a rollercoaster season, Linsanity, quitting on Dantoni, Amare’s personal/back issues and Melo finally becoming Melo again, They play D have knock down shooters and one of the Greatest offensive players in the league and remember last time there was a strike shorten season what happened they rode an 8 seed to the finals beating the Heat in the 1st round. Can history repeat itself?

 

The Celtics are playing well and Playoffs is their time to shine. Even thou they won their division the Hawks have a better record and will get home advantage and that could be huge Boston is great at home and soso on road. Doc has done a great job doling out the minutes and keeping Garnet Fresh, Rondo will be the key but the real question will be whether or not Ray Allen can play well and if he can get back into the starting lineup during crunch time after being supplanted by Avery Bradley. Ray is ultimate professional and has handled the demotion with grace but the C’s need him if they plan on making another run.

 

The Pacers enter the playoffs as a 3 seed and will take on a howardless Magic team, can Orlando pull it together for Van Gundy and show the NBA they really don’t need Dwight to be competitive, They have shooters and they may pull off the upset but I really dig Indy. They have length and grit play well on the back end and will be a tough out for Miami in the 2nd round provided they both get there. This might be the year Danny Granger becomes a household name.

 

The Bulls are in as the 1 seed and have been solid all season even with their superstar missing more than 35 games, I worry a little about their chemistry but as always Tom T has them playing great D and that always translates into success in the postseason when possession totals are lower and buckets are a premium. Rip was added to this team to give them a veteran presence but I have heard all his RA RA this is how it is done has not gone over well in the locker room but he will have to be a factor if they want to win a title…..oh ya D Rose has to stay healthy and that’s a big IF.

And now for the West

 

The Spurs faltered last year in the 1st round after having a great season, this year I think will be different. Pops has sat his guys a lot hell he benched Parker, Duncan and Manu when they were on an 11 game win streak early in the season. They are deep and well rested and they have that Championship Pedigree, The bench has been great and with the stars rested they could be real dangerous. They will get LA/Memphis winner in 2nd round and if Memphis they will be out for revenge.

 

Speaking of Memphis they are again that team no one wants to play, The difference this year is now they have a healthy Rudy Gay, I remember people saying last year that they were better without him and that’s just crazy, he is extremely efficient and helps this team immensely, they should be favored over the clips based on front court alone, Griffin is a terrific scorer but he is a horrible post defender and ZEBO/Gasol will eat him alive for buckets whenever needed. Chris Paul deserves some MVP votes and has been a terrific playoff performer but Memphis decided advantage in experience and depth and that will be the difference, sorry for every one hoping for an LA/LA matchup that could only happen if both teams make it to the conference finals.

 

It looks like the Defending champs will get the Thunder in the 1st round, Ha! Who says the regular season doesn’t mean that much, Denver still has 2 games to play but they play the Thunder without Hardin and probably resting guys because they are locked into the 2 while Dallas has ATL who is still fighting to lock up home court in 1st round. Dallas really misses Chandler and while I won’t count them out for a run it’s not likely they will get past the Thunder. James Hardin concussion will be a big deal he has till Saturday to get ready but if he can’t go it will be a giant concern for Scotty Brooks. I really like the Thunder to move on no matter what too much Durant/Westbrook.

 

The Lakers will be without the player formerly known as Artest for the 1st 6 games of their series with Denver but the real question is how they will defend the high paced offense of the nuggets, LA will have a front court advantage and they have Kob so they can slow it down but Denver will try and run and if they create turnovers it could be a long series for the Lakers. Ramon Sessions will have to play great and be efficient, you know what your gona get from Kobe, Pau and Bynum but who else will show up, Can Matt Barnes be an effective perimeter defender? I just don’t know this could be your upset special of the 1st round.

 

Every series should be competitive and anything can happen it’s gona be a fantastic and intriguing 10 weeks!!!

 

Ill try and repost after every round or sooner!!!!

I hate to write about the same thing 2 weeks in a row but what the FUCK!!!, what is good enough for the league to accept for a Chris Paul trade. David Stern has to know he is handcuffing the entire New Orleans Organization, who would want to buy this team if they don’t get anyone for Paul, 1st they trade for 3 starters a competent back up PG and a 1st rounder and that’s not good enough then they trade for 3 young guys a starting center and a likely top 3 pick (Minnesota’s 2012 unprotected) and that’s not good enough.

Yes I know the later trade(clippers) is potential worse but if the Hornets are going to be bad why not get 2 top picks and really rebuild, it will be a extremely deep draft because a lot of people stayed in school because of the Labor issues, I mean 2 of the top 3 picks in last years draft stayed(Barnes, Sullinger) and you have a host of others who will be in the Mix. Stern and the League holding Paul ransom is only hurting the Hornets and Dell Demps. Im sure they would like to move on from this situation, Paul IS NOT STAYING NO MATTER WHAT!!!! So what’s the problem?

This isn’t about big market vs small market its about Stern being stubborn and loosing control of his league to the owners. David Stern was hardly ever able to be able pushed around but in the process of the Lockout he was usurped by the owners and now is lost. How can you possibly defend any of these actions how is 7 months of Paul better for the city of N.O then getting pieces back to help rebuilding process.

I can understand if your 1st move post lockout is to try and prevent even more super teams and I can understand if you want to keep Donald Sterling irrelevant but you have to make this stop. Its totally unfair to the league and the players involved for you to be hording Paul. You cant say its not good for Basketball reasons because that’s not true hell either of those trades would have worked for N.O long term and helped them stabilize and attract new ownership and that’s what should matter! Not a vendetta against Paul for being the only star player on the NBPA labor board.

I said it before you can’t control where players go, ultimately it’s their decision. Either its thru free agency or whether the player says you can trade for me but just to be clear I’m not signing an extension with you. That Handcuffs teams into sending players where they want or to a team willing to give up less knowing it would be a rental.

Orlando is in the same position, accept they really think they will be able to keep D12, they wont he is as good as gone and Otis Smith should find the best possible deal right away. Howard came out this week and was honest about wanting to leave, he was hammered in the press then flip-flopped saying “I can stay here if they make changes” Smith has proven over and over again he can not make deals to make his team better he doesn’t have the chips, no one wants Jameer Nelson, or JJ Redick. Hedo Turkolu contract is horrible and they Amnestied Gil, so what pieces do they have? Big Baby Davis? He is not the answer to help Dwight. The Magics scenario is better than N.O because they are an upper echelon team where the Hornets are likely a 7 or 8 seed with Paul one team can keep there player and try and win a title while the other has no shot at a title and needs to start rebuilding now and the Commissioner needs to get out of the way and tell the owners to eat crow, Why wasn’t Dan Gilbert crying when the Hornets traded for Carl Landry and took on salary last year? Because he didn’t care and even if he did you didn’t veto it then and you shouldn’t now.

WTF

The denial of the Chris Paul trade is ludicrous. Im a Rocket fan and i didn’t like the trade but for the league to veto it based it on not being in the best interest for the Hornets is absolutely ridiculous. Let’s break it down.

Chris Paul is leaving N.O no matter what whether its in a trade or via F.A at end of year, everyone knows this. By making this deal you give the fans of N.O a fresh start no one wants to see them play good get a 7 seed and get bounced in the 1st round and have the cupboards bare next year, it makes no sense and if i was a Hornets fan while I’m not really excited with the trade it does make you better long term.

You are basically getting 61 ppg 20 rbs and 12 assists from 4 guys, If you don’t know who Luis Scola is then you can’t appreciate what he brings to the table he is a BIGZ version of Manu plain and simple he will get you 19 and 10 every night and play a solid team game. Kevin Martin is a pure scorer and one of the most efficient players in the league. he is good for 24 and a couple assists per night, while not consuming the ball for the rest of the team, he is a slasher with a great jumper and good court awareness. The other guard dragic is a very solid bench piece, he is 6’3 with tons of speed and good vision and has been tutored by Steve Nash, hell Dragic is good enough to be back up point on a contender he could even start for N.O in the interim.

Lamar Odom is a legit 7 footer with great ball skills, he is a fantastic all around player who can guard 4 positions and gets his buckets economically. He is a Main cog on 2 title teams i mean come on!!! Plus on top of everything the Hornets would have gotten 2 pics as well.

Look i know CP3 is a great guard one of the best in the league but he also has a history of knee problems as well as other minor injuries, he is a risk for any one who signs him, Yes its a risk but one worth taking. He is a phenomenal talent and N.O should get a lot back from him and they would have if David Stern allowed this to happen.

On the flip side of all of this, how would Paul even fit with the lakers, Kobe loves to have the ball in his hands and the Triangle offense works for him, I have know idea what type of O Mike Brown will Implement but i really don’t see Kobe playing off the ball for the majority of the game. Would Paul be there to walk the ball up the court and hand it to Kobe so he can run ISO plays? i guess if Bynum can develop a solid Jumper they can run Pick n Pops, or if they trade Bynum for Howard then you can have oops galore ala LA Clippers, but i dont see the lakers having the pieces to get Howard. Who would they give up? Metta World Peace? Derrik Caracter and Bynum maybe the Magic want Steve Blake or Derick Fisher and Sasha Vulechic, wait is Sasha still a laker?

We haven’t even goten to Pau Gasol, He doesn’t want to be in Houston but he would make them better. Coach Mchale will want to be a solid defensive team and by trading for Gasol the Rockets would create some CAP room to sign another big say Nene or Deandre Jordan. The Rockets would trot out a starting 5 of Lowery, Courtney Lee, Marcus Morris Patrick Paterson(is a beast watch)and Gasol thats a big line up and pretty formidable.   The Rockets would still have a lot of young guys coming off the bench and available for a trade so it works for them.

The bottom line is that this trade might have been the worst for the Lakers then the other teams involved, and small market owners like Dan Gilbert started crying foul and Stern Vetoed it. Gilbert has no room to complain, he had a star who was playing in his home town and Gilbert continuously surrounded him with bad parts. He could have figured a way to land another star but he didnt he tried Mo Williams, Shaq, and Antoine Jamison. Thats on him, The Rockets are not a big market team and they have no problem with this trade and neither should anyone else.

I know the owners want to preach about how the lockout was about creating some parity in the league, but it really wasn’t. It was about making sure that teams weren’t continuously losing $$$, Revenue sharing should help fix that along with the 50/50 BRI split. Players are gona play where they want and they will take less money to play with their friends. We are now in the era of the super team and its up to good GM’s to build well rounded teams to compete with the teams struggling to find people because they have 75% of the cap tied up in 3 guys.

Lebron

So ESPN just listed their top 500 players in the NBA list,  I think that’s a bit much I mean with 30 teams each with 15 roster spots that is 450 players so I don’t really believe they should have been that in depth, but hey at least they are thorough. I love the fact Eddie Curry is listed at #493, I wonder how he feels about that!

 

I have no real problems with the List, the NBA is a stars league and you could probably make an argument for about 7 or 8 guys to be the best player in the league, (Wade, Bryant, Durant, Dirk, Lebron, Rose, Howard). It did get me thinking about “The King” “The Chosen One” Mr. Lebron James. I love watching him play, he can do anything on the court and has the ability to take over games, but he has disappeared in some big spots, Yes he scored 25 straight points against the Pistons to get a lowly Cleveland team to the finals, He played fantastic in last years Eastern Conference only to disappear against the Mavericks. I really don’t understand how a man with his ability can check out in a NBA finals.

 

I really am under the impression that we as fans and the media enable Lebron, People praise his abilities when they need to be focusing on the Failure. Failure inspires the greats to get better and that’s exactly what separates players from being Great vs being gifted. For ever all anyone wanted to talk about with Tracy McGrady was that he couldn’t get his teams out of the 1st round, McGrady could have used this as inspiration to get better but he didn’t and that’s why he was gifted but not great. Don’t get me wrong I Love Tracy and personally don’t think it was Tracy’s fault, he was absolutely phenomenal in the Playoffs but losing will always be placed at the feet of a teams star.

 

Now I don’t really think Lebron can get better, I mean how is that even possible, but he needs to be more assertive, The Heat are now his team as much as they are D-wades and he needs to step up and act like it. Going into last year I thought well its gona take some time to mold the roster for them to compete for a title. Once the playoffs began you could clearly see they were in good shape and could win it all, then in the finals they were out worked and Lebron was disinterested for lack of a better word. How is this even possible? Lebron went to Miami sacrificed money and his legacy to WIN, no other reason just to WIN, did he not want it? Highly doubtful but we don’t know. He can blame god all he wants but it’s on him and no one else, he didn’t want the ball, he didn’t use his immense talent to his advantage. He failed bottom line.

 

You can not be the best player in the NBA if you can’t finish, you can’t be the best player in the NBA if your desire is in question during the finals. Could you ever imagineKobedeferring to anyone else in the Finals? Nope, will never happen Paul Pierce is going to say jump on my back I will carry you,  hell I couldn’t even see Carmello giving the ball up in that spot let alone not looking like he gave a damn. Lebron thrived on hatred last year, he went from a hero to a villain over night and the country rejoiced at his failure. He is gifted and there is no doubting that, but he needs to some how find that alpha male mentality and realize the only one who can stop him is himself or he will never transition from gifted to great.

 

After all it is all about the rings!!!

 

Al Davis

Al Davis, July 4, 1929 – October 8, 2011

 As a life long Raiders fan I have mixed emotions towards Al Davis. When I was a child he was just a guy with a big smile that kept saying “just win baby” or he was preaching about the Raiders “commitment to excellence”. You really don’t think of owners, GM’s and head coaches, You think of your favorite players and them scoring touchdowns and the Team winning games. So my early experience seeing/hearing Al didn’t really mean much to me. I remember him hiring Art Shell and it being a big deal because he was the first African American head coach, this was a typical Davis move based on loyalty, Shell was a Hall of famer and a true Raider and Davis loved him.

 You hear a lot of stories of Davis’s love and loyalty for his players, but there are also stories about him acting like a scorned lover such as the situation regarding Marcus Allen. Allen was maybe the greatest Raider Running back and amid contract disputes Allen held out till the last minute every year. Things came to a head when Davis forced Art shell to bench Allen, calling him a “cancer to the team” and claiming he “had his own agenda and asterisk will be next to his name for all time” all because of Allen who was an NFL MVP disagreeing with what Davis thought was fair

As i got older and I really started to understand the complexities of the game did I really got to see what Davis was about. While I will always love his passion for the game, I will loath his decision making and his stubbornness for believing he was the only one who could guide the Raiders.

 Davis is a legend and his impact was revolutionary to the league. He started the “vertical passing game” he went from Coach to GM to Owner and ran his team the way he saw fit at all times. This is part of the problem I have always had with Al, He fired Mike Shanahan for not doing things his way and ignoring play calls Davis had sent down from the owners box, He traded John Gruden because he felt he was getting to much credit for building a winner. He intervened on everything he could and it took its toll on the entire organization.

 Davis helped the Raiders win 3 superbowls but he has hindered the organization more than he helped in the last 25 years. He drafted based on speed not skill or acumen. He wanted athletes with great attributes; it was like he was playing a video game. This led to a ton of questionable picks led by Todd Maranovich and going thru Jamarcus Russell, the Raiders have picked in the top 10 every year for about 10 years and the only one to have really done much is Darren McFadden, and he took some time to develop into what he is today.

 The bottom line is every one will have an opinion on Al Davis, He will always be a huge part of the NFL legacy and he is well deserved member of the hall of fame. His life and contribution to the League and the Game should be celebrated. As a Raider fan I just wish he had stepped aside about 12 years ago so.

 In the about me section of my blog I had “waiting for Al Davis to Die” listed as one of my hobbies, That was callous and wrong of me to write and I regret it, He loved the same team I do so much and it was his right to do what he saw fit, no matter what I think.

 R.I.P Al Davis