The End of the Bench

Basketball blog with takes on basketball and anything related to basketball . . . as well as a haven for jingoists everywhere - in America.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Sixers Hire O'Brien

I think I like this hiring. The style the Celtics played under Jim O'Brien sort of fits this team. Well, at least the defensive part I think could work. I hope they don't start chucking up threes like the Celtics did or it could get ugly. I mean come on, AI's field goal percentage is low enough as it is. O'Brien did a lot with little more than Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce. He'll have to do similar in Philadelphia. Hopefully Samuel Delambert will be more than Tony Battie was.

Hubie Brown Wins Coach of the Year

3 for 3 sort of. I did second guess myself, but the official pick was Hubie.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
LeBronn Named Rookie of the Year

2 for 2 . . . I can read sports writers' minds. I guess that psych degree is really paying off.

Monday, April 19, 2004
Picks From Around the Basketball Blogosphere

Here are the picks from a number of different writers all compiled into one place. Again, I wish I could take back the Memphis pick, but I can't.

Displaying Sound Judgement and Paying Price

Interesting day for Ron Artest. He get's the Defensive Player of the Year Award (Hey, if enough writer's predict it ahead of time, isn't that a sign?), and then got suspended a game. He actually exhibited pretty good judgement. He started to run out onto the court, got 4 steps out, and then turned around. Relative to the old Straitjacket, that's incredibly sound judgement. Nonetheless, the rules state if you leave the bench that the suspension is mandatory. Many are distraught that Richard Jefferson didn't get suspended because he was on the court during a confrontation in the Nets-Knicks game 1. I think they're different situations (if you see the tape), but that both should have been suspended regardless. Either way, the suspensions (or lack thereof) are gonna make little difference in the outcome of those series, because those lower seeds are severely overmatched.

Best Nickname Heard this Week

Bonzi Wells being referred to as "Bonzirelli" on the 11PM PST Sportscenter.

Tomorrow's games . . .

New York @ New Jersey - I don't expect anything to be much different than it was Saturday. The Nets are just a better team.

Dallas @ Sacramento - If a game is played and no one plays defense, does anyone win? Yes, the viewers do. I think Sacramento will win because they at least play bits of defense - even if it is only for stretches of a few minutes at a time. Dallas just can't handle the Kings inside, even with Chris Webber hobbling.

Boston @ Indiana - There's a reason this one's on NBA TV folks. Straitjacket or no straitjacket, the Pacers are gonna roll the Celtics up badly. They'll keep Paul Pierce as a non-factor by doubling and tripling him every time he gets the ball and the Celtics will show that no one else on that team can be a real threat, just as they did Saturday. It will be a little more difficult to take PP out of the game with Ron Artest out, but the Pacers should still win this one by double digits.

Lakers Win 98-84

At least my Lakers pick doesn't look as suspect as it did Saturday night. Did anyone think the Lakers could win with Shaquille O'Neal scoring a mere 7 points? Kobe Bryant dropped 36 and Karl Malone scored 17 to help ease the pain of Shaq's night. It also helped that only 5 Rockets got above 5 points and only 3 even hit double digits. Did I mention the entire Rockets bench scored 15 points as opposed to the 32 the Laker bench put up? Did I mention you can stick a fork in the Rockets ad me using the fork analogy?

San Antonio wins 13th Straight

I'm sorry I picked Memphis.

Sunday, April 18, 2004
And Now My Backtracking

Like I said, the Memphis pick was inexcusable and I apologize. I'm still unsure of the Hornets pick. At least they kept it close. The ones that really scare me is the Lakers. That game was hideous all the way around. At least the other games had at least one team play well. So far only the Memphis and New Orleans picks are looking like they might end up wrong, but it's still early.

My playoff picks . . .

To my credit I made these picks before the playoffs started. I have the time stamped email to the Knickerblogger to prove it. Anyway, my picks are as follows:

Round 1:
Indiana over Boston - I don't think much explanation is needed for this.

Detroit over Milwaukee - See above.

New Jersey over New York - The Knicks simply aren't that good. And besides, no team starting Shandon Anderson and Dekembe Mutumbo should win a series in the playoffs.

New Orleans over Miami - I know these teams have been going in opposite direction for the last two months, but I had to pick one upset and if any one of the home teams was gonna lose, Miami seemed like a good pick. I mean, it's Miami. And yes, I know that logic is flawed beyond belief.

Round 2:
Indy over NO - Again, I don't think any explanation is really needed. Indiana is simply a superior team.

Detroit over New Jersey - The Pistons look like a new team with Sheed and New Jersey doesn't seem as strong. And with there being questions about Kidd's knee, the Nets have me worried.

Round 1

Minnesota over Denver - All this talk about is Minnesota gonna get past the first roudn is absurd. This Denver team is good and all, but Minnesota is gonna kill them. Let's be clear about that.

Los Angeles over Houston - I know they split the season series, but it's playoff time and the switch will be thrown for LA. I've bet against them before and I learned my lesson.

Memphis over San Antonio - In hindsight, I can't defend this pick. I don't know what I was thinking. But I made it and now I'm stuck with it.

Sacramento over Dallas - This one is a pretty good matchup, and I'm mainly going off history and the fact that the Dallas road record isn't very good.

Round 2:
Minnesota over Sacramento - Sacramento has been shaky since the Webber return. My confidence in Sac has done the same.

LA over Memphis - Memphis is good, but not that good.

LA over Detoit - I just don't like the odds that Minnesota can go from not making out of the first round to the finals, even with the makeover. As for Indiana, part of it is I just don't like Ears Miller. Most however, was my faith in Rasheed Wallace and his rejuvenation machine. He looks like he enjoys playing again and he's taken the Pistons to a whole nother dimension. As for LA over DET, who is gonna stop Shaq? Answer, no one on the Pistons.

I Know I'm Late to the Party on This One

But the Bill Simmons playoff article is strong.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Numbers Game

I don't trust any system before I see exactly what they did. That being said, I know I don't trust this system already. The main reason why is the following quote from the article:

"High-scoring players like Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and likely MVP winner Kevin Garnett are among Winval's top 10. But so is San Antonio's Bruce Bowen, an unsung defensive specialist who averages just 6.8 points a game."

The Sagarin-Winston method is discussed by Dean Oliver in his book Basketball on Paper. As he puts it, it doesn't pass the laugh test. Basically this means that if you look at the player ratings and laugh at how absurd they are, then it doesn't pass. When you have Bruce Bowen as a top ten player, you're wrong. I don't care how you mathematically manipulate the numbers. I don't need spreadsheets to tell you that Bruce Bowen is not a top ten player.

* Thanks to Eric McErlain over at OffWing Opinion, where I found the link.

Sura Triple Double Disallowed

I was gonna do a post on this, but I got an email from Dan Lewis (formerly of Dan Lewis' Sports Blog and currently of ArmChairGm) with a link to his post. Since he has said it far better than I could have, I simply am linking to his. While it isn't as bad as the Ricky Davis incident, it still is bad.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004
More Awards Column Fun

Here are David Aldridge's picks:

MVP: Kevin Garnett
DPoY: Ron Artest
6th Man: Raja Bell
CoY: Jerry Sloan
RoY: LeBron James
MIP: James Posey

Normally I dislike Aldridge, but I don't have a big problem with any of these picks except maybe Raja Bell. Also, on the Sloan pick: The more I think about what Sloan has done versus what Hubie Brown has done, the more I start to lean towards Sloan. Now that isn't to diminish what Brown has done, but consider this quote from Lang Whitaker:

"Jonathan Feigan from the Houston Chronicle, one of the best beat writers in the League, says Hubie Brown deserves to be the Coach of the Year because he "took ordinary players, the kind every team has, and made them winners." Call me crazy, but I think most fans, coaches and observers would agree that there's quite a difference between Jason Williams and Carlos Arroyo, between Mike Miller and Gordan Giricek (who was once traded with Drew Gooden for Miller), between James Posey and Michael Ruffin, even between Pau Gasol and Andrei Kirilenko. Not to take anything away from the Jazz players, but individually, they're just not as talented as the Grizzlies players are. Together, they're challenging for a playoff spot. Could it be any clearer? Hubie Brown has done a wonderful job, but so has Jerry West in putting that roster together. The Jazz lost two hall-of-famers and added...nothing. Jerry Sloan is the man."

That is a very good point. The Grizz have won 50, but did anyone think the Jazz could win 30 with the team they had, even before Matt Harpring got hurt? I think I'm officially changing my pick to Jerry Sloan.

Sunday, April 11, 2004
All the Cool People Are Doing It (aka. Fun With Awards Columns)

Since it is getting to be that time in the NBA, I figured I should join in the awards fun. However, we will be doing it with a twist here. For each award, I'll give you the winner chosen by 3 other columnists (Namely Ric Bucher, Marc Stein, and Matt Steinmetz of the Contra Costa Times), which will be followed by my pick and my two cents. So now that we've got the format down, let's do this.

Bucher: Says Tim Duncan should win, but that he will vote for Kevin Garnett.
Stein: Kevin Garnett
Steinmetz: Kevin Garnett
ME - The only right answer here is Kevin Garnett. I don't care what Bucher says about Duncan should win, he's simply a) delusional, b) wrong, or c) both. The numbers say it all. Garnett leads the NBA in PER (by 2.5 or so over Duncan). 24/14/5 for Garnett and 22.5/12.5/3 for Duncan. Game, set, match KG.

Coach of the Year
Bucher: Says Rick Carlisle should win, but that Hubie Brown will win.
Stein: Jerry Sloan
Steinmetz: Hubie Brown
ME - Hubie Brown. The Grizzlies - THE GRIZZLIES! - are gonna make the playoffs in the West and may end up having home court advantage in the first round. THE GRIZZLIES! I don't have a problem with Sloan either, but Brown and Jerry West practically parted the Red Sea. As for Carlisle, I'm questioning Bucher's sanity. Carlisle has done a good job, but he probably wouldn't make my top 5.

Defensive Player of the Year
Bucher: Ron Artest should win and gets his vote.
Stein: Ron Artest
Steinmetz: Cliff Robinson
ME - Ron Artest because I'm a sheep. Baaaaaaah. That doesn't mean I believe the stats Carlisle was throwing out, but we all know Artest just locks guys up. As for Uncle Cliffy, that just wreaks of homerism. Moving on.

6th Man
Bucher: Says Manu Ginobli should win, but has no idea who will win* (see note in my section)
Stein: Antawn Jamison
Steinmetz: Antawn Jamison
ME - (*Ginobli may not even qualify for consideration for this award. He has to come off the bench for the Spurs last for games to barely qualify). I would agree with Jamison as the pick as well. He's 18th in PER (20.79) and no one above him on the list is a 6th man. That says enough for me. On a semi-related note, why does Bucher think that Ginobli (PER 18.79) is so great. Jamison's numbers are better than Ginobli's. Granted Manu is a superior defender, but Manu has also started more games than he came off the bench for at this point. My point is, yet again, that I'm not sure exactly how Bucher is coming up with this stuff.

Most Improved Player
Bucher: Says Jamal Magloire should win and Zach Randolph will win.
Stein: Skeletor (aka. Andrei Kirilenko)
Steinmetz: Zach Randolph
ME - No disrespect to the other guys (especially Skeletor, he's a bad ass), but this award should go to Brian Cardinal, owner of the worst nickname in the league. Lemme break it down one time for ya: Cardinal's games played the last three years = 28. Games played this year = 73. He played 184 minutes his first three years. It only took him 9 games to hit that figure (using the avreage and multiplying). Tramnslated, that all means that the guy was barely in the league at all (rising the rookie contract) and turned himself into a valuable role player. Randolph simply got more minutes. He even said so himself. Skeletor is a similar situation. Cardinal got minutes and did something with them when he was barely in the league. Someone else who got no attention for this award, but should is Skip to my Lou (aka. Rafer Alston).

Rookie of the Year
Bucher: LeBron James for both
Stein: LeBron James
Steinmetz: Dwyane Wade
ME - These awards are subjective most of the time, but not here. Steinmetz is on crack cause the only choice is LeBron. And no the Nuggets success isn't all because of Carmelo Anthony. Hell, the Nuggets training staff deserve a lot of the credit. They managed to get 71 games out of Marcus Camby thus far, which is practically unheard of. LeBron is sharing the court with only three guys who have any talent at all (Carlos Boozer, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Jeff McInnis). LeBron wins hands down.

So there you have it. To recap, my picks were:
CoY - Hubie Brown
DPoY - The Straitjacket
6th Man - Antwan Jamison
MIP - Brian Cardinal
RoY - LeBron

Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Belated Congratulations

Going out to the KnickerBlogger, who by winning the Yahoo Tournament Pick Em, is the new best friend of the bench.

Cleaves sent packing, but not without Silas' praise

You think it's a coincidence that the Cavs officially are eliminated from the playoffs a day after cutting Mateen?

And Speaking of Mounting Losses

Are the Rockets doing their best Bucks impression? They've lost 5 in a row and are now in the 7th spot, only 1.5 games ahead of Utah and 2 games ahead of both Portland and Denver. It's not quite the Bucks collapse - yet - but it could end up being that big if they miss the playoffs.

Last night, there was two issues. One was the bench. The entire bench managed a mere 17 points. Part of that was because only 3 of them topped 10 minutes and the most was 16. The second was the fact that they were down 15 at the half. Not a good way to win games.

They're Playing for Pride Now

We've all heard the phrase about teams that are out of the playoff race. So what does it say about teams that lose 11 in a row when they're playing for pride? Ask the Clippers and Magic, since they've done just that. Can anyone explain to me how the Clippers can be as bad as they are? The core talent seems to be there with Elton Brand, Corey Maggette and Quentin Richardson, but the wins don't. The rest of the team isn't exactly terrible either. Marko Jaric can play a little as can Chris Kaman. This isn't as puzzling as how last year's team underachieved, but it's close.

As for Orlando, they're just a bad team. If you're name isn't Tracy McGrady, Juwan Howard or Drew Gooden, you are a bad player pretty much.