News hit a couple of days ago that Derrick Rose would once again need knee surgery and once again would miss the entire season. It’s a tragic story that can’t help but make basketball fans feel bad for Rose, the Bulls and their fanbase. Even the biggest Rose critic can admit that the NBA is better with him in the league. It’s still questionable how Rose, out for basically two years straight, will be able to perform once he’s completely healed again. Will he ever get back to his MVP level? Will he even get to 80% of that form? It’s a gloomy situation in Chicago but despite missing their franchise player, their season and the rest of league must move on. The show must go on, as they say. But what kind of show will we be watching? The western conference is as good as ever but aside from the Heat and Pacers, is any other franchise in the east worth watching on a regular basis? Every team is going to one of “those nights” where they play well enough to upset a superior opponent, that’s just the way the league is. Aside from those nights is where the problem arises. Can fans rely on quality basketball on a regular basis knowing that the eastern conference has very much turned into a two-team race? It’s almost astounding how much better the Pacers and Heat (1 and 2 in the conference) are than the rest of the conference. If the playoffs were to start right now, I don’t see any team giving Indiana or Miami more than a five game series. A lot of the problem lies with the New York teams. The Knicks are usually towards the top of the conference and the new-look Nets were supposed to contend for the top spot in the conference. Right now the Knicks and Nets are a combined 7-20. Astonishing. Could they turn things around? Well they’re going to have to get 100% healthy before their fans can get excited.
On the other side of the country, things are more competitive. The Spurs are doing their usual thing of playing fundamental basketball while taking care of business. Portland, surprisingly enough, is still staying among the best in the west. The Thunder, Clippers and Rockets are fighting to keep up with the elites and then there’s the dogfight for the rest of the spots in the west. But the biggest news around the conference this week was Kobe signing another contract extension to essentially stay with the Lakers for the remainder or his career. The Lakers didn’t officially announce the exact details of the deal but plenty of sources have suggested that it’s an extra two years for $48.5 million. Those details bring up some inevitable questions. If all Kobe really does care about is more championships, why sign for that much money? Yes, we all know that Kobe means much more to the Lakers than what he earns, but does that leave room for anyone else? Most superstars that are hitting tail-end of their careers tend to take less money, knowing that it’s best possible way that they will continue to be on a championship level team. Can Kobe lead another team to a title? Well, i’m not so sure anymore. I’m skeptical because of his age and because of the severity of the injury that’s he is coming back from. That’s taking into consideration that Kobe is a machine and the hardest working player in the league. It wouldn’t surprise me if he reached the same level he left off at but I also wouldn’t be shocked if Kobe only reaches about 75-80% of what he used to be. And if it’s the latter, how room does Kobe’s contract leave for another big free agent to come join him?
Key games this weekend: (tonight) Lakers at Nets; Heat at Cavs; Nuggets at Wolves; Spurs at Thunder; Warriors at Mavs (Friday) Nets at Rockets; Warriors at Thunder; Wizards at Pacers (Saturday) Bulls at Cavs; Wolves at Mavs; Rockets at Spurs.
A lot of the country’s basketball fans weren’t focused on the NBA last night. In fact, most of the attention was put on the game at the collegiate level. There were some marquee match ups featuring what figures to be three of the next superstars in the NBA. I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch much of Duke, Kansas or Kentucky mostly because i’d rather watch my Mavericks. I don’t have much interest in basketball at the college level unless it involves joining a pool for brackets come March. Chances are that Wiggins, Parker and Randle will all be great players at the NBA level but until I actually see it, let’s pump the breaks and worry about what’s actually going on at the NBA level. Who’s dominating the league so far in this early season? So far this season, the Pacers have looked like the most dominant team in the league on a nightly basis. The defense and coaching is going to be there without a doubt. That’s one of the staples of Indiana’s game. But let’s add Paul George, second in a lot of early MVP races, who is continuing to play at the level everyone expects him to after his performance in last season’s playoffs. Let’s also look at the bench, much improved during the offseason and it shows on a nightly basis. Their offense still looks a bit stale sometimes but it’s not a glaring problem, just their style of basketball. What’s also interesting is that Danny Granger is set to return to his first game sooner than later. How will that affect a Pacers team that’s off to a franchise best 8-0 and the only undefeated team left in the league? I can’t imagine the train stopping anytime soon. Their schedule gets a little more challenging in the next few weeks but I could see them winning out the rest of the month barring an upset. The real challenge for this great Pacers team comes in December when their month starts with a five road games in 8 days against some of the top teams in the western conference, followed by the Heat at home. Until then let’s just enjoy what they’ve currently doing because despite getting almost no attention, the Pacers are the best team this season so far.
Speaking of no attention, the Spurs just seem to do what they do every single year. Play good basketball and win games. Right now they’re 7-1 and atop the western conference and I don’t know anyone who would bet some serious money on San Antonio giving up that position. Who would take their position if they slip for a few games? Well the obvious answer is OKC, especially now that Russell Westbrook is back and continues to look healthier as the games go by. To no one’s surprise, Durant leads the league in scoring (30.2/gm) but it’s going to rest of the supporting cast that I feel will ultimately make a difference. How the rest of the west shakes out is going to be fascinating to watch. From the Suns (how are they still there?) on down to the Lakers, all of those teams will be fighting for 3 through 8. Out east it continues to look like only the Heat will keep up with the Pacers, at least until Rose and the Bulls get themselves together and are 100% healthy. Most impressive players this season? These are aside from the obvious ones like LeBron or Durant. I’d have to go with either Kevin Love and Anthony Davis. Love finally looks healthy again, second in scoring behind Durant and leading the league in rebounding. And with Anthony Davis, well I think we’re all being reminded why he was the consensus #1 overall pick just a couple years ago.
Only one week into the NBA season and fans have much to discuss because there are been lots of surprises. First let’s get past some of the not-so-surprising things about this season: the Celtics and Jazz are going to the battling it out for worst record in the league. AKA the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes. Now there are other bad teams who have started off hot and will eventually crash down to earth but Boston and Utah seem to be adamant on leading the race. I’ve seen some early Wiggins highlights and from the looks of it, he’s everything that you would want in a #1 overall pick. Good luck to both the Celtics, Jazz and other teams in their tanking endeavors. While it’s very early on, something else that doesn’t surprise me is that the Pacers and Heat look like they’re going to meet again in the eastern conference finals. Indiana is the only undefeated team left (4-0) and while Miami has looked shaky for stretches, everyone knows the Heat are looking to make the playoffs and then turn it up a notch. Plus, they have the best player on the planet. Out west the conference looks pretty stacked like it always does, all of the top 8 only have one loss with Houston leading the way at 4 wins. The Clippers, Spurs, Warriors, Mavericks and Thunder belong up there. The Timberwolves have looked well but with them, it’s always a matter of how healthy they can stay. The Kevin Love-Ricky Rubio is so fun to watch but in the back of mind i’m just thinking “please don’t get injuried.” But wait, what in the world are the Suns doing there among the one-loss teams in the west? Well that’s our first surprise of the season.
Before the season began most people put the Suns down there in the “Riggin’ for Wiggins” group but they’ve gotten off to a surprisingly hot start. They’ve been fortunate because of who their opponents have been to start the season but tonight’s game against the Spurs should bring them back down to earth, if only for one night. Phoenix has a cupcake schedule for the rest of the month but December will be much tougher for this young team that has a lot to prove. Speaking of a lot to prove, how about the Sixers? Sure, Philadelphia’s been surprisingly good to start the season but here’s something that’s not a fluke: Michael Carter-Williams. There’s a young man that is going to have a bright future so let’s all just sit back and enjoy what he’s done so far and what he’s going to do. Switching gears to Chicago because there’s lots of debate to whether or not the Bulls’ (specifically Derrick Rose) slow start is just rust for an injury-plagued team or if there’s some real concern. If I were among the Bulls fanbase I wouldn’t start panicking anytime soon. Chicago is going to win a lot of games this season but when your team is as injured as the Bulls were last season, it’s going to take some real time to get back to their elite level. If we’re still having this discussion a month from now, then i’d start to worry. Also causing worry are Moe’s Knicks. Or is Moe more of a Heat fan still? Anyways, the Knicks are dealing with issues on the offensive side of the ball. Melo is going to be the main weapon but he’s not getting much help. Add Tyson Chandler’s injury last night and this might go south pretty quick for the Knicks.
Games to watch this weekend: (Wed) Bulls at Pacers; Warriors at Wolves; Mavs at Thunder (Thu) Clippers at Heat; Lakers at Rockets (Fri) Cavs at Sixers; Nets at Pistons; Mavs at Wolves; Warriors at Spurs; (Sat) Pacers at Nets; Clippers at Rockets; Warriors at Grizzlies.
It feels really good to have the NBA regular season back. A midst the NFL season reaching it’s regular season peak, it was quite refreshing to see some basketball back on the screen. Of course it’s great to have the “Inside the NBA” crew back for another season of the greatest pre/post game show in all of American sports. Even though he didn’t have a good game (thanks to Miami’s defense), it’s really good to have Derrick Rose back in a Bulls uniform. Miami’s swarm defense spoiled his comeback, limiting Rose to just 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting. The Heat went on to rout the Bulls and after the first half, it looked like Miami wasn’t going to take it easy on the Bulls at all. The Big 3 did their part but it was the combination of their bench (Cole, Allen, Battier) that was the clear difference.
Something else that was clear after last night’s games? The Orlando Magic are only one game into the season and they’re already tanking. I understand that this upcoming draft is supposed to be among the all-time greats but c’mon Orlando, at least have a respectable season. The Pacers took advantage of the situation and to no one’s surprise, they went on to win the game in a comfortable fashion. The Magic and Pacers are teams that will end up on opposite sides of the conference. Speaking of teams that are supposed to finish quite opposite, how about the Lakers surprising the Clippers last night? This is a Clippers teams that’s supposed to finish among the top seeds in the west and this gutted Lakers team isn’t supposed to amount to anything this season. At least until Kobe returns and is at 100%. But don’t tell the other Lakers players that. Enter Xavier Henry (career-high 22 pts) and the rest of the Lakers bench. They simply out-hustled the Clippers, extending their lead in the 4th quarter when it mattered most. Props to the Lakers showing some heart and not rolling over just because of some silly pre-season rankings.
Now it’s only one game so let’s not consider a Heat-Lakers Finals a complete lock just yet. The regular season is a marathon, not a sprint but it’s the type of marathon that you watch all along the way. Every team has hopes that this is their year, despite going against overwhelming odds. Well unless you’re the Magic, 76ers or Suns. Then you’re just looking to get a top 5 pick in the draft. There are in fact 14 games tonight so chances are your team is playing. I’ll be doing a weekly post about the NBA every Wednesday unless something crazy happens. Good to have NBA basketball back. And of course, on my part, go Mavs.
LeBron, D.Wade or somebody on the team better hook it up–Although I’m sure their significant will probably take offense.
The always shrewd marketer Claudia Romani was seen working her sexy mojo outside American Airlines Arena earlier this afternoon. The scrumptious Miami-based Italian model showed her support for the Miami Heat in a teenie-tiny Heat mini-dress (is there any other sports team that sells mini-dresses?!) as she went to pick up her tickets for the upcoming NBA season, which begins October 29 when the Heat host the Chicago Bulls (D-Rose BETTER BE PLAYING, DAMN IT!!).
The 2013 NBA Finals will go down as a classic. Game 6 was clearly the apex with it’s endless amount of memorable moments but last night’s game 7 certainly lived up to the quality of the rest of the series. Both teams looked exactly how many expected: having battled through a crazy series only to settle it all with a final 7th game. The Spurs showed lots of heart all the way to the finish but it was simply Miami’s night and the Heat walked away with the championship trophy. Of course there are things you can point out about the Spurs’ approach and game plan (daring LeBron and Wade to shoot) but it was never a question of effort or wanting it less than the Heat. With less than a minute left in the game and the chance to tie, Duncan missed a shot in the lane that he’s made thousands of times. I found it impossible not feel bad for Duncan after he missed that shot. Uncanny and unfortunate for San Antonio but it was the shot that sealed their fate as the second place team. Manu Ginobili is the easy scapegoat for this loss but Danny Green’s normally efficient shot from behind the arc was nowhere to be found. Also, those were some REALLY questionable play calls by Popovich towards the end of the game. But it’s not all doom and gloom for the Spurs. Well, if Kawhi Leonard can make his free throws, then the young man looks to have all the tools of being a future all-star and potentially a superstar. Nothing but respect from myself and NBA fans around the world for the Spurs in their loss.
Unfortunately for Heat haters around the country (there are a lot) it was Miami’s night, repeating as champions of the NBA and are once again kings of the basketball world. LeBron James was phenomenal (37 pts, 12 reb, 4 ast) and was awarded the Finals MVP for a second straight year. But even though James was the best player on the court last night, Dwyane Wade came up big with his shooting from the floor and Shane Battier got hot from behind the arc to add more scoring. Miami taking advantage of the shooting opportunities given to them was the stuff of champions and it was enough to take home the title. Who’s the happiest about winning the title? Well, obviously the teammates winning their first title but even more that guy named Chris Bosh. Zero points last night Bosh? Are you kidding me? Bosh was clearly going to be the target of all targets to blame had Miami not been able to win last night’ game. Hind sight though, as the celebration continues in South Beach and now going forward the word “dynasty” starts to be thrown around. It’s a little early for that because I think that a team needs to win at least three titles in 4-5 years to be considered a true dynasty. Remember that LeBron was VERY close to being 1-3 in the Finals with another summer of questions so let’s calm down for a second and continue to celebrate or hate on this Miami Heat team. We have all summer to discuss and debate the long term implications.
Regardless of whether it’s football, soccer, basketball or American politics, Claudia Romani likes to show her team some support! The always-sultry model was seen showing her Miami Heat spirit as she catwalked around the boardwalk driving dudes crazy (as usual).
I’m not pulling for anybody in particular, but it would nice to see an upset just so that all the LBJ haters in the press can come out of hiding. At the end of the day, we all know David Stern won’t allow the Spurs to win on his watch, so look for Duncan to get benched in the last minutes so that Miami can pull ahead for the win! Any other conspiracy theories out there?
while eating a Bastardly Certified lunch by Bowser0
Where do I even begin to discuss last night’s game? We’ll defer to LeBron James on this one, quoted as saying “It’s by far the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” after his triple-double performance led the Heat to a crazy victory in overtime. As always in these situations, I have to ask: was this more of a Spurs loss or a Heat win? All signs point to the fact that the Spurs had this game, had it on two occasions. First it was during the 3rd quarter, holding a 12 point lead with only 1 minute left in the quarter and a chance to really put a strangle on the game in the 4th. The second time was of course in the final minute following two incredibly clutch plays by Tony Parker who, up to that point, was having a less than stellar game. I thought to myself “Wow…that’s the game, Parker has the MVP” but then all hell broke loose and like the rest of the series, no one could predict what happened. Poor Kawhi Leonard, he had the dunk of the night right over (one shoe) Mike Miller but couldn’t complete the two most important points of the night. Then the game essentially came down to a couple of offensive rebounds by Miami, resulting in massive 3s by both LeBron and Ray Allen. Allen’s 3 to tie the game was the most clutch shot of the year.
From Tim Duncan’s incredible first half (feels like a wasted effort now) to LeBron’s choice to ignore his headband and essentially go beast mode in the 4th quarter. An incredible game all around but a part of me can’t help but feel that it was the Spurs best opportunity to win the series. Can the Spurs win game 7 on the road? History says they can’t, the last time a team to win the NBA title on the road in a game 7 was the Washington Bullets in 1978. But I can’t put anything above this Spurs team. Or above this series because it’s simply been too unpredictable and every game has something new in store for the fans. Neither team can win two in a row. If the Spurs want to win the game, they’re going to have to set the tone early. Oh yeah, Manu Ginobili: stop turning the ball over at the most critical points in the game. Was Ginobili fouled on that final possession in the lane with a couple of seconds left in OT? Probably but I know this league too well to not expect the officials to make a call there. Certainly more of a foul than the Chris Bosh block to the end the game on the desperation 3 by Danny Green. I’m sticking with my prediction (winner of game 6 wins the series) but at the same time, i’ve learned that the sky is the limit for this series.