The End of the Bench
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
I think the title is self-explanatory, so here we go . . .
Top European prospect Milicic declares for draft
And the top three is complete . . .
Sixers take 3-1 lead
The fourth quarter was the opposite of game three. The Hornets were missing shots and making turnovers and the Sixers took advantage. Baron Davis came strong again with 34/7, but the trio of PJ Brown, Jamal Magloire and Jerome Moiso turned back into pumpkins going 7-19 from the field with Magloire leading the fall by going 1-7. Mean while the Sixers starting frontcourt scored 35. Iverson scored only 22, but there were 6 players in double figures to make up for it. Other news from this series is that Jamal Mashburn is probably out for the rest of the series (ie. the rest of the season since they're losing this series).
Stojakovic's hot hand powers Kings to rout of Jazz
Utah is done. They got smacked around last night.
Popovich named Coach of the Year
I have no problem with this. Musselman could have own it too, but Pop turned a team of Tim Duncan and average players into the West's top seed. Who knew Stephen Jackson could score 12 a game? I don't even think Stephen's mother believed that before this season.
Blazers, Wallace fined over NBA's media policies
It was money well spent. That was some funny stuff. For those who didn't see, Rasheed Wallace answered every question on the postgame press conference with "Both teams played hard." Sheed, what did you have for dinner? Both teams played hard. Good stuff. That's why I like Sheed.
Cheeks’ version of anthem is the sweetest yet
Just a great story. Cheeks was always known as a class guy as a player and now we can see why. One of the best things I've seen in the NBA all year.
Top-seeded Pistons on edge of elimination AND Voskuhl's shot with 2.3 seconds left lifts Suns
Did anyone think the tops seeds would have this much trouble with the 8s? Hell, the Pistons are probably gonna lose and many were picking them to win the East. The Suns have the Spurs even at 2. Surprising - at least to me.
Sunday, April 27, 2003
Why I'm Right
I seem to be taking some heat for my criticisms of Dick Bavetta and Steve Javie because I didn't provide evidence. Mainly this was because I thought it was a well-known thing that Bavetta and Javie sucked. But since the people want evidence, I present you with the most incriminating pieces for each.
First we have Bavetta. I present to the jury, Lakers-Kings Game 6 from the 2002 Conference Finals. Here is a refresher if you've forgotten how poorly officiated that game was. Now look at the box score of the game and note who the officials were. Note Dick Bavetta's name there. There are other instances of bad Bavetta officiating, but this was by far the worst that I can remember that he's been involved with.
Now on to Javie. This is not a particularly bad call, but is evidence of his attitude when he officiates games. I present to the jury, Javie's run in with Pat Riley.
"Steve Javie, meanwhile, has been fined $1,000 by the league office for his part in an exchange with Riley early in the 2001-02 season. The incident didn't get national attention until December of this season, when Riley was fined $50,000 for saying leaguewide "dislike for me over the years" among referees -- specifically Javie -- was influencing the way Heat games are officiated."
"It all started, I think, last year," Riley said Dec. 13 after a loss to the Knicks. "I think I sort of sensed something changing last year when Steve Javie, in Cleveland -- and to his delight, obviously, absolute delight, as we were getting beat, and going through a real tough time -- came to my face, after we were having a discussion, and said, 'It's giving us absolute delight to watch you and your team die.' "
Javie got fined months after the fact by the league, so obviously the league at least believed some of it. Good referees don't tell participants in games they call that they like watching this team or that team lose. Officials should be impartial, butespecially in this case, Javie isn't. Javie is also know to have a short fuse and tosses people pretty quickly . Not the last line of the linked article: "Javie was back in the news again last week for ejecting Memphis coach Hubie Brown and Adelman in separate games in a span of three days."
Now remember that this isn't all the evidence, just what I view as the most damning evidence. I think it is fairly convincing. Others can feel free to give their own personal recollections of Bavetta and Javie screw-ups. As for me, I rest my case your honor.
Hurting Davis leads way in rout of 76ers
The game was actually pretty close until the fourth quarter. The problem was that in the fourth quarter, no one in black could hit a shot, no one was boxing out for the Sixers and they kept passing to guys in white, but other than that . . . . I have to give Baron Davis some props. The guy went 28/8/4 (pts/ast/reb) on 1.5 legs. A big effort from him when his team needed it. Also, props to PJ Brown, Jamal Magloire and Jerome Moiso for big games too. They just dominated the Sixers in the 4th. A game like that out of Magloire or Brown isn't that surprising,but Moiso looked like didn't even remember how to get his warm-ups off and he still had 10 points and 7 boards in 16 minutes. The Hornets needed a win and they came up big.
Saturday, April 26, 2003
If You Say So Dan . . .
"These are three of the best officials in the NBA."
- Dan Majerle, during the first quarter of Bucks-Nets game 4.
I would tend to disagree since the officiating crew in question has Dick Bavetta and Steve Javie on it. After Majerle said this,they proceeded to call 15 fouls - 15!!! - in the first quarter. That doesn't even count the two techs they called. They are calling pretty much everything. Nothing I like to watch more than free throws followed by more free throws.
Thursday, April 24, 2003
Stoudemire beats Yao out for top rookie honor
Not really too surprising. Yao hasn't been getting all that much pub lately and these things tend to go like that. Yao had the better PER and not by a little bit (about 5). Stoudemire's was only slightly better than fellow rookie Caron Butler. I disagree with the results, but I'm not terribly surprised.
Wells scores career-high 45 points in loss
The problem for the Blazers was similar to that of the Magic.
Portland leading scorers:
Also, what happened to Raef Lafrentz? Does anyone remember when he used to be good? Now he gets only twenty minutes and can't even really do anything with the minutes he gets. There isn't an obvious explanation either. This is n't like Mo Taylor tearing up his achilles and then dropping off. Raef just all of a sudden couldn't play. 56 minutes thus far in the series with the Blazers and Raef has 13 points. This is a guy who used to average that in a game. Now he doesn't even average double figures. That big contract he got isn't looking like a very good investment right now. Raef is turning into what people said Juwan Howard was a few seasons ago - the guy that is just impossible to move because his contract is far bigger than his production.
Balanced effort helps Pistons overcome Magic
Stat of the game:
Magic leading scorers
I think that says it all.
Thomas, 76ers' frontcourt dominate Hornets
While the story of Sixers not named Allen Iverson scoring is big, it is not nearly as big as the Jamal Mashburn injury. Mash chipped a bone in his right finger and dislocated it. I saw it on tv when it happened and he screamed so loud you could hear it over everythingand then sprinted to the lockerroom, stopping to talk to no one. Whenan NBAplayer screams like that and sprints for the locker room, it is never good. This officially makes David Wesley the best available player on the Hornets (I'm not counting Baron Davis and his one leg). This also officially means that the Hornets are pretty much done. They will one win one game tops in this series and probably not even that.
And to No One's Surprise . . .
Carmelo Anthony declared himself eligible to be the third selection in June's draft. In other non-surprising news, LeBronn James will declare himself eligible Friday.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Playoff Weekend (and Monday) Review
Sorry for leaving you guys hanging over the weekend. I had some computer issues. Apparently you shouldn't water your keyboard. Who knew? Anyway, let's see how my prediction are looking so far. On a side note, Bill Simmons agrees with my prediction of a Kings-Sixers final for whatever that is worth.
Good weekend to be a star: If you were a big-time scorer and dropped 30, you looked like a slacker this weekend. Allen Iverson had 55, Dirk Nowitzki with 46, Tracy Mcgrady with 43, Paul Pierce with 40. Kobe and Shaq had only 39 and 32 respectively. The Iverson and McGrady displays were impressive. Just totally dominated the other team. Iverson did his shooting mostly jumpers and hitting .656. Just unstoppable.
Spurs and Suns tied at 1 each - My prediction could still come true, but I think Phoenix still has one win in them. The Spurs haven't looked as strong as I thought they would. The Suns win was kinda lucky. They played well, but those two shots . . . has there ever been an uglier three than Amare Stoudamire's?
Kings up 2-0 on Utah - It seems I over-rated Utah a slight bit. Chris Webber gets hurt last night and the Kings just increased the lead with him out. Stick a fork in Utah, they're done.
Lakers up 1-0 on Minnesota - Minnesota came out totally flat. They made a good run and got close, but then fell apart again. Maybe they can sneak a win, but this one could very well end in a sweep.
Mavs up 1-0 on the Blazers - I didn't get to see this game, but the Blazers apparently blew a thirteen point lead . . . and proceeded to lose by ten. That's not good.
Orlando up 1-0 on Detroit - Detroit has to be a bit scared. One guy (with some help from Drew Gooden) pretty much beat them by himself. My prediction on this one could end up being totally wrong. Orlando could win this one and I wouldn't be that surprised after game one.
Nets up 1-0 on the Bucks - As Bill Simmons put it: Call me crazy, but I'm not a big fan of distractions like "Coach, I have to fly back to Canada before Game 2 to get served with some papers by the police ... and by the way, GP and Sam are coming, too." The Bucks are well on their way to getting swept. The rent-a-point plan isn't working out so well.
Sixers up 1-0 on NO - Iverson owned the Hornets and there was nothing they could do about it. Baron Davis on one leg wasn't helping their cause either. The Sixers will win this one, just a matter of how many games it will take. I know I talked about it already, but Iverson's game Sunday was the most dominating performance I've ever personally watched. He could have startedshooting eyes closed and backwards from half court and it would have gone in. It was just one of those games for him.
Indiana and Boston tied at 1 each - I predicted a sweep and that was wrong of me. After he single-handedly knocked the Sixers out of the playoffs last year, I still managed to forget the Paul Pierce factor. Altough Pierce couldn't have done it in game 1 without Isaiah Thomas' poor coaching. Reggie Miller getting 2 minutes in the 4th quarter? Wha?
So there it is. Most of my predictions are still mathematically possible, but several are probably very unlikely (Utah, that means you). Tonight's matchupsaired on TNT are Minnesota-LA and NJ-Milwaukee.
Saturday, April 19, 2003
It's Playoff Time!!!!
Since the playoffs start tomorrow, I figured I should put up some predictions. Hey, if I won't give you a mock draft the least I can do is post playoff predictions.
San Antonio over Phoenix in 5 (Phoeinx is a good, young team, but who's gonna guard TD?)
Kings over Jazz in 6 (The Jazz have given the Kings a scare the last two years, I see a slightly less scary matchup this time)
Lakers over Minnesota in 5 (you may be leaving in the first round if Troy Hudson is your third "scorer")
Mavericks over Blazers in 6 (If no one could win, I would bet on that. But since I can't, I choose the less dysfunctional team)
San Antonio over the Lakers in 7 (These Lakers just aren't as good as years past. Blame Mitch Kupchak Laker fans)
Kings over Mavs in 5 (No defense equals no pass go, no collect 4 wins for Mavs)
Kings over San Antonio in 7 (I think the Kings depth makes the difference in the end)
Detroit over Orlando in 6 (It would be 5, but Ben Wallace's health still seems a bit questionable)
Nets over Bucks in 4 (The Bucks play about the same amount of defense as the Mavs, but with half the offensive talent. Not good times. Bad times. They may be hot, but the Nets arejust a better team.)
Philadelphia over New Orleans in 5 (I'm biased, but John Hollinger agrees with me)
Indiana over Celtics in 4 (Even with Brad Miller gimpy, the Pacers can stop the Cs 1.75 scorers. Toine doesn't get his other .25 back until he either starts making more threes are starts taking less.)
Philadelphia over Detroit in 7 (They split the regular season - 1 home and 1 road win each. The Sixers are the hotter team. Again I cite Hollinger.)
Nets over Indiana in 6 (With Brad Miller's health in question, I don't like the Pacers odds. I didn't like the much before he got hurt.)
Sixers over Nets in 6 (okay, so I'm a homer. Sue me)
Kings over Sixers in 5 (I may be a homer, but I'm not delusional.)
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
All Over-Rated Team
I totally agree with the following four:
Most Overrated All-Star: Antoine Walker . . . I love Toine, but the threes are killing the Cs.
Most Overrated Free Agent-To-Be: Michael Olowokandi . . . If anyone gives him the max this summer, I'll fly to wherever they are and smack them silly
Most Overrated Announcer: Bill Walton . . . Don't get me started.
Most Overrated MVP Candidate: Ben Wallace . . . When I can have a serious argument about whether I have more offensive game than you do, you aren't an MVP candidate.
No matter how you slice it, Philly's the cream of the East
John Hollinger says the Sixers and Magic are the teams to watch in the East come playoff time.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Jordan's comeback was worthwhile for Wiz
David Aldridge disagrees with me about the Michael Jordan's comeback. He says it wasn't necesarily a success, but that it wasn't a failure. His reason for saying this is "I believe people learn through contact with other people. I think even the least intelligent people can learn, through osmosis if nothing else, from smart, driven people. . . . And I believe that the Wizards' young players had to have learned something the last two years playing with Michael Jordan." That's great Dave, although if your theory were actually true I wouldn't have that D+ in Organic Chemistry chillin on my transcript because I sat next to some smart people in that class. So in conclusion, I don't feel any differently about Michael's comeback now that DA is not with me because 1) I don't really care much for DA and his opinion means little to me and 2) the basis for his opinion is a big load of crap.
Monday, April 14, 2003
Bad chemistry left MJ unable to win in Washington
I meant to do a post about this last weekend but forgot about it when I was doing the Bucks post. It seems that Michael Jordan alienated a lot of his teammates during his last season (at least I think it will be his last). I mean look at this quote from Jerry Stackhouse:
``It's deeper than what you see _ I'll leave it at that,'' guard Jerry Stackhouse said. ``The focus is not so much on the game. It's on the circumstances and situations around the game. You can't play basketball like that. ... When he goes back upstairs, guys will just kind of relax a little bit, and maybe that will be the difference. It will change a lot of things.''
Stack isn't exactly a vocal guy, but he sounds like he is biting his tongue pretty hard there. This begs the question, was the Jordan comeback a success or not? To answer this you also have to answer the related question of what would things have been like had he not come back? We can't really answer the second, but I'm gonna try anyway.
Pros of the Jordan comeback: I would bet that a lot of guys did learn things from MJ and from playing with him. Also he was a significant upgrade over whoever else they would have run out there. Revenue was up - higher attendance, more televised games and more merchandise sales means more money for the team.
However, I think there were many more negatives. I think when MJ came back, there was a need to win now, This had several negative consequences in my opinion. One of which was that in their need to win now, they somewhat mortgaged the future to try and make the playoffs now. Signings like Charles Oakley and Bryon Russell, were a waste of money and cap space. They were just bad signings and everyone seemed to realize this but the Wizards.
Also, the trade of Rip Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse was (in my opinion) a mistake as well. At this point, Stack and Hamilton are pretty much the same player. Hamilton is sporting a PER of 19.38 while Stack's is 18.97. While Stackhouse's is on par for his career (only .02 better than last year), Hamilton's jumped up about 2.5 (from 16.90). Throw in the fact that Stack is 4 years older than Hamilton and Stack will be a free agent after the season while Hamilton is still under contract for much cap friendlier terms and you see why this was a poor trade.
There is also the development of the young guys to take into account. We all know Kwame Brown has struggled and he has not like the yelling and fluctuation of his minutes. Kwame has been labeled somewhat of a whiner for this. However, it seems he isn't the only one who has had a problem in the Jordan era.
``The pros were that you got to play with Michael Jordan, you got to learn from the best, you got to see how things were done,'' center Brendan Haywood said. ``The cons were maybe a little less patience, because the team's trying to make the playoffs right away. You didn't get a chance to play through some of your mistakes. You were getting taken out of the game and yelled at for it.''
This is similar to what Brown talked about. Now I don't pretend to know anything really about player development or coaching (at least not most of the time), but when the young guys feel like if they make a mistake it will be their head . . . well, it doesn't seem like it would be good for morale. It also seems like those guys would start playing to not make mistakes (tentatively) as opposed to just going out and playing normally (more relaxed).
Overall it seems like the Jordan comeback may have actually hurt the Wizards more than it really helped them. The gains seem minimal and when the negatives are taken into account, it looks like the comeback was a failure in terms of its real goal - which was to help the Wizards.
Saturday, April 12, 2003
Kukoc powers Bucks into playoffs with 25 points
What a difference a year (and two big trades) makes. Exactly one year ago today, I posted about the collapse that was the Bucks last ten games. After being 28-18 at the break last year, the Bucks dropped like a rock, including a 2-8 stretch near the end of the season, and missed the playoffs. This year they are still on the fringe as they are currently the 8th seed, but they are definitely in now. I'm not sure the two teams can really be compared since there has been significant turnover since last season (Glenn Robinson and Ray Allen traded for example), but at least they didn't collapse like last year. That was just painful to watch.
Friday, April 11, 2003
Hornets' shift to West based on geography
Nothing like going from a contender for a conference championship to barely making the playoffs. The Hornets current record is good for 5th in the East, but would be good for 8th out west - and even that would be only by a game over the Suns. There is also talk of going to 6 divisions (of 5 teams each). Personally that doesn't make any real difference to me. It could suck for a team who has the second best record in the conference, but the best record is also in their division. That team would get seeded 4th instead of 2nd, but you can get similar things now.
Iverson, O'Neal will be asked to join 2004 team
It's about time.
Monday, April 07, 2003
Syracuse Wins the National Championship
Which is good for me because the Syracuse win means I had two 2nds and a 4th place finish in my three tournament bracket groups on Yahoo!. A very respectable finish for me, who had Syracuse in the final but losing to Kentucky. Congrats to the #3 pick in this year's NBA draft and Jim Boeheim on their victory tonight (even if they did try and give it away late in the game).
Wallace's availability for start of playoffs uncertain
Sucks for the Pistons. I don't think Uncle Cliffy and Mehmet Okur exactly strike fear in the hearts of guys driving the lane. Although, the good news is it is only two weeks he is out and the Pistons will now be playing with five guys on offense. However, there will be significantly less rebounding at both ends.
Rebounding by Ben Walace per game (Off/Tot): 4.0/15.4
Rebounding by Pistons as team (including Wallace): 10.8/40.8
Wallace is 37% of the offensive rebounding and about 38% of the total rebounding. Losing that has to hurt.
A conversation with Commissioner Stern
The David Stern Robot said the following in the Q&A:
"I have a feeling that the Finals are going to wind up being more competitive." (Conspiracy theorists unite!)
"We will keep mentoring our officials, evaluating them, working with them on tapes, ranking them, reviewing them. I urge you to watch the NCAAs, and I think it will confirm that NBA officials are certainly the best in our sport."
The Draft Lottery is not rigged (paraphrased).
"I think he's coming in with more hype than any high school kid, because of the unusual circumstances of how money was made from him, on him, the suspension and non-suspension. But I've got to tell you, we've had some pretty important first picks in the draft. I'm sure he's a great player, but he's still a very young player." (He being Lebron James)
"I think it would be a good idea. It isn't an article of intense faith. I think it's an intelligent business discussion that leads you to conclude that from a societal perspective and from a business perspective, it would be better if the kids came to us older, better rounded, more mature and more marketable. But I recognize that those societal and business imperatives could be viewed as deprivation to a particular individual." (On having an age limit)
Stern said this all to the surprise of no one. In fact, these are the same lines he has been using all year and in some cases for years. That is what makes him the David Stern Robot though.
No More Crumbs
Jerry Krause resigned today as GM of the Bulls. I don't think that anyone is really sad to see him go at this point. Most people see him as the guy who ran Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan and company out of town. Other recent blunders include opening up a ton of cap space only to have no one sign because the team sucked and then the following season trading Brad Miller, Ron Mercer and Straitjacket Artest to Indiana for Jalen Rose (who is easily one of the more over-rated players in the NBA) and pocket lint.
Now don't get me wrong. Krause did do some good (didn't draft Jordan, but put the pieces around him like Pippen, Grant, Cartwright, Rodman, Kukoc), but the NBA is a business of what have you done for me lately and Krause has done little (depends on how you view the Brand trade) and his reputation after the breakup with Jordan/Jackson made it seem unlikely that he was gonna be able to change his luck. Bulls fans should be glad to see him go at this point in my opinion, whatever the reason. The best signing Krause has made in the last couple of years was Donyell Marshall. I think that says it all folks.
For the Few of You That Care . . .
The basketball hall of fame announced its inductees for this year.
Thursday, April 03, 2003
This article is from earlier in the week, but there's no statute of limitations when it comes to throwing down on Charley Rosen. I've been good for the last couple months about the Rosen stuff, but I couldn't resist on this one.
"Most of Robinson's time is now allotted to Malik Rose. This guy is a coach's dream . . ."
Now I like Malik Rose and all, but does anyone really think that he is a coaches dream? Does anyone think coaches sit there and say, "Ya know, this team would be perfect if I could just have Malik Rose"? No!
Rosen follows up his gushing about Rose two paragraphs later with praise for Speedy Claxton. Lemme summarize the paragraph for you: Speedy is great cause he is really fast and is a good shooter when he can set his feet. Funny, I didn't know .429 qualified as surprisingly good. Maybe that is in comparison with his career average that is just a hair above 40%. Rosen also says Claxton is "Good enough to run a team on his own" and that his "only problem has been durability." Well, durability and the fact that no one besides Rosen and Speedy's mother actually think he could run a team on his own for any serious stretch of games. But other than that . . .
But then there is the best line of the whole article.
"Bruce Bowen is shooting the ball better than ever -- to the point where he's a bull's-eye spot-shooter."
Now I understand that the guy is shooting almost 47% this year, but when you have 6 years of sub-.400 shooting (that's roughly 300 games worth) you hsould never have the words "bull's-eye spot-shooter" used to describe you. This is Bruce Bowen people! BRUCE BOWEN!!!! May I also point out that while he is shooting about 47% from the field on the season, he is shooting a Shaq-esque .398 from the free throw line. Hey Bruce, are they still "free" when you only hit 40% of them? Just wondering.
"How much better is Stephen Jackson this year than last? He scores nine points more per game (12.1 versus 3.0), shoots .451 compared to .374, and also shows dramatic improvement in rebounds, assists and steals." What Charley also fails to mention is the 20 minute increase in playing time. Stephen Jackson gets more rebounds, steals, assists and points when he is actually on the court more. Who'd have guessed?
Needless to say, Rosen has yet again displayed his ineptitude. Somehow he gets paid to spew this misinformation and his ill informed opinions. Did you ever notice that the blurb about him at the bottom of his columns highlights how he was a CBA coach? Notice how he wasn't an NBA coach. Maybe that's because he was dreaming of having guys like Malik Rose or because he thought speed = good player?
The Great Divide: How much easier is it to play in the East?
This week's installment of John Hollinger's Statitudes looks at measuring in games the difference between playing in the East and West. He says it is actually only two games fot the average team, and I think he is right. The schedule is the exact same for most of the games. Only 26 of the games actually differ between an Eastern Conference schedule and a Western Conference schedule. This may seem obvious to those who have read the Pro Basketball Prospectus, but it is an interesting read.
Putting the Fun In Dysfunction: Randolph punches Patterson, faces disciplinary action
"Randolph's punch drew "large amounts of blood" while Patterson's arms were held back by teammates who had stepped in to stop a brief Woods-Patterson skirmish, according to an account in The Oregonian on Thursday."
I like Zach Randolph, but how you gonna punch a guy whose arms are being held back by two 7 footers (even if one is Chris Dudley)? That's just wrong. And also, should a guy who got cited for possession and speeding and who failed to mention it to the team for 2 days (yes you Qyntel) be getting into skirmishes in practice? Probably not advisable.
Tuesday, April 01, 2003
If age limit ever arrives, expect chilliest of drafts
"Just for torture, er, fun, imagine if the age limit was suddenly applied to the forthcoming draft in June. Of the consensus top five prospects -- LeBron James, Darko Milicic, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Emeka Okafor -- only Connecticut's Okafor would be draftable."
I already expressed my views on the age limit, but I agree with this too. It's just another pitfall of installing the age limit. It isn't a long term problem (probably would be fine after 2-3 drafts), but it is not something that potential lottery teams want.
Woods cited for Possession and Speeding
Now I didn't post this to pick on the Blazers and their substance abuse problems. I posted it for this line:
"Woods told the officers he didn't have identification and didn't have insurance. As proof of identification, he offered two credit cards bearing his name and a trading card featuring his name and likeness, according to the report."
He showed a trading card as ID!!! How gangsta is that? That's like if Jay-Z got pulled over and instead of showing his license he flashed the CD cover for The Blueprint 2. You know you're a baller when you can get away with that. The real question though, is why does Qyntel carry around his own card? That's not normal. Who carries their own picture around?