My Apologies

To the few people remaining who have checked this site regularly for updates over the last three months, I am sorry for the lack of new content.  I have been busy as a result of moving to a new city and let’s be honest, the off-season isn’t the most exciting time on the NBA calendar. 

Although this off-season saw Lebron “taking his talents to South Beach”, a move which drastically alters the NBA landscape for at least the next 5 years, we all read and heard enough about this topic without me re-hashing it here.  There were other moves, trades and draft picks as well as some intriguing stories, though nothing which got me excited enough to sit at home writing about them when I could be out and about exploring my new surroundings. 

As the 2010/2011 season has recently kicked off, and my NBA League Pass and internet are set-up, I will be posting regularly from now until the end of June.  As I only have a limited amount of time to watch NBA games, due to my full-time job and personal basketball schedule, I am being selective about the teams I will follow and write about.  Although I am not a fan of any one team or player, there are teams and players I enjoy watching more than others.  This is either due to a team playing fundamental basketball with their focal points being defence, rebounding and sharing the ball, or due to a singular talented player who I feel makes such an enormous impact on the game that I enjoy watching them even when their team is losing by 30.  Below is a list of the teams I am most looking forward to seeing:

First Teams: LA, Boston, Orlando, Miami & San Antonio

To me, these are the only teams in the NBA who are championship contenders.  These teams have superstars, solid role players and positive team chemistry as well as strong coaching and front office staff.  This generally leads to beautiful, unselfish team basketball, which is the only kind I’m willing to pay to see.

Second Teams:  Oklahoma, LA Clippers, Sacramento, Chicago, Milwaukee, Memphis, Portland, Utah & Washington  

If none of the First Teams are playing on a given night, the above teams will be my fall-backs for various reasons.  Some have added rookies or new players I’m excited to see and others are up and coming teams who may be contenders in the next few years.  In both cases, I’m looking forward to seeing how the players and teams develop to find out whether they can make the jump to my First Teams list in the future.

If none of the above teams are playing and say, Minnesota vs New Jersey is the only game on, I’m skipping it altogether and going out to work on my jump shot.

Also, new features to my blog for you to look out for include:

Winning Time – A brief review and summary of the games I watch, focusing mainly on what separated the winning team from the losing team with an emphasis on game-changing plays, stops and runs.  This will hopefully go a ways towards identifying what makes the best teams the best; Kind of like Magic Johnson when he’s commentating, though hopefully more intelligible.

Amateur Hour – This will be a weekly post which focuses on my rec-league teams and how we could improve from taking aspects from successful teams and players in the NBA.  As I’m currently playing in second division (which is far from amazing) I’m sure this will cover a lot of the basics of the game which tend to get overlooked and taken for granted.  As well as offering tips to amateur players who read this blog, this will shed some light on the lesser known NBA players who may be less flashy but more fundamentally sound.

This entire post was conceived and written during my lunch break, so I’m sure I will come up with more ideas as the season progresses.  Please comment or email me if there is anything in particular you would like to see from this blog over the course of the season.

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2010/11 Season Preview – Boston Celtics

Are the Celtics still the team to beat in the East?

Less than two months ago, the most successful franchise in NBA history came up only 5 points short from adding another championship banner to the already crowded Garden rafters. They played that last game without their starting center, Kendrick Perkins, who averaged 5.7 ppg throughout the Playoffs.  Last season they were labelled as a team “over the hill” and “past their peak”, but they proved the doubters wrong by beating the defending Eastern Conference champions, the Orlando Magic; closing out the team with the League’s best record in the Cleveland Cavs; and by pushing the defending champion Lakers to the brink of defeat.  Is this the year the Boston Celtics finally do crest that hill and begin their descent?  Read more to find out.

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2010/11 Season Preview – Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks will not be flying high this season

Atlanta fans have been cautiously optimistic for the last few years as they watched their club put together a solid core of young players who seemed to grow and develop more and more as a unit each year.  This off-season has proven that it was false hope though, as one of the most mediocre franchises in NBA history, with possibly the most dysfunctional ownership groups ever assembled, has shown their fans just how committed they are to remaining mediocre.  Read more to find out why the Hawks will struggle to stay in the air this upcoming season.

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Zen vs Warrior – Which Coaching Style Works Best?

Phil Jackson preaches Zen to his players and exudes it himself.  He is all about calm, focus and embracing the moment.

Doc Rivers preaches aggression to his players and comes across as a warrior readying his troops for battle during timeouts.  He is all about heart, passion and taking it to the opponents.

Two coaching styles which are as close to polar opposites as you could get. 

A child generally grows up to resemble their parents.  A company is normally a reflection of the CEO.  A team’s identity is formed by the style of coach.  Read more to find out why these two coaches styles are perfectly suited to their respective teams and what impact it’s had on the players.

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NBA Finals & The Importance of Rebounding

"The 2010 NBA Champions - Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers" - David Stern

 

The Los Angeles Lakers prevailed in seven games against the Boston Celtics to repeat as NBA Champions.  It was a scrappy, feisty series where a different player stepped up each night and the lead see-sawed back and forth throughout but I found it very predictable.  Before this series began, I had a few hunches about what might occur over the course of the series.  My thoughts were as follows:   

  •  Kobe Bryant will force too many bad shots and not involve his team-mates enough
  • Ray Allen will shoot the lights out some games and have others where he can’t buy a bucket
  • Derek Fisher will hit some clutch buckets
  • Rajon Rondo’s shot and play will be wildly inconsistent
  • Lamar Odom’s game will go up and down like a yo-yo
  • Rasheed Wallace will shoot too many threes and not spend enough time in the post
  • Ron Artest will struggle with his shot but find other ways to contribute offensively while playing solid defence on Pierce
  • Paul Pierce will look unstoppable at times and timid at others
  • Andrew Bynum will play a very limited role due to his knee injury
  • Kendrick Perkins will have no impact on either end of the floor due to his short stature
  • Pau Gasol will play efficient, effective basketball but not receive the rock enough
  • The Boston bench will get riled up, act like lunatics but have a big impact in at least one game
  • The Lakers bench will be pretty much non-existent, particularly on the road
  • The Celtics defence will show glimpses of their 2008 dominance, though will be inconsistent on effort and fade at critical times
  • The Lakers offence will look beautiful and be unstoppable when they are running the triangle, though they will resort to too many isolations which will look ugly and be ineffective
  • Both teams will shoot low percentages due to an increased intensity and focus on the defensive end
  • The team who controls the boards will win the series

I don’t think any of these points are outside the realm of what anyone with semi-decent basketball knowledge was also thinking, and funnily enough, they all seemed to occur at some stage of the series.   

The majority of areas mentioned above were somewhat set in stone.  Rondo was not going to become a consistent shooter overnight.  Kobe was not going to give up the limelight and become a facilitator for the first time in his career.  The Lakers bench was not suddenly going to become a force.  Kendrick Perkins was not going to grow 4 inches.   

The one area which could have gone either way, and probably mattered more than all the others, was rebounding.   

Rebounding is all about hustle, desire and heart; it’s about wanting the ball more than anyone else on the court.  When you pit the two best teams in basketball against each other, these are the key factors which will enable a team to come out on top.  In every game this series, the team which won the rebound battle won the game.  The reason?  The team who controlled the boards had a bigger heart on the night and wanted it more than the other team, and this is the defining difference between two teams at an equal skill level.  Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers, the team who wanted it more than the rest and the 2010 NBA Champions.

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Kobe Bryant – Ball Hog

  • There is a player free somewhere. Does Kobe know this?

    Kobe is 7-for-27 in 4th quarters in games 1 through 4.

  • Game 5 was Bryant’s second-best shooting performance in 11 Finals games against the Celtics, when he scored 38 points, going 13-for-27 from the field and 8-for-9 from the line. He is shooting 42% this series, down from his season average of 46%
  • In Game 5, from the 4:23 mark of the second quarter until 2:16 were left of the third, Kobe scored 23 straight Lakers points. But, Boston’s lead grew from 1 point to 13 during that stretch
  • In regards to Points Per Possession, Kobe Bryant averages 1.02. Through these Finals he is averaging 893
  • Kobe averaged 5 assists per game during the regular season. This went up to 5.8 while sweeping the Jazz in the second round and spiked to 8.3 while dismantling the Suns in the Conference Finals. Against the Celtics, Kobe is averaging 4.4 assists per game
  • In Game 5 Kobe scored 38 points. The other 11 Lakers combined for 48 points
  • Kobe has taken 120 shots during the series. The next player is Pau Gasol with 60 and Andrew Bynum with 33. Both players are shooting over 50% from the field.

Can you really call him the most “clutch” player in the NBA after stinking up these Finals and letting his team fall 3-2 down? Sure he is averaging 30.2 points per game, but his field goal percentage and assists per game are down from his season averages making him a predictable, inefficient player. He is taking more shots per game than his season average which is taking away from the brilliance of Pau Gasol and not allowing his other team-mates to get involved.

Unless Kobe Bryant plays two huge games and leads his team back to win the Championship, all comparisons to Michael Jordan should stop forever.

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Eastern Conference Finals

I have only now found time to recap the Boston Celtics/Orlando Magic series from the Eastern Conference Finals and we are already two games in to the Finals.  My life is as busy as the Magic front office staff must be, as they try to figure out how their season fell apart after putting all of their resources in to winning this season. From Dwight Howard’s limited offensive game to Vince Carter’s tendency to disappear in big games, Orlando was doomed from the start against a Celtics team rolling on all cylinders.  Keep reading to see how Boston nullified the Magic’s game plan.

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