Put out the fire

Note, I'll save the Piston game for the end because of the special nature of the review.

Comic ready to go, Keenspace not
A quote from the verification email I got earlier:

You will NOT recieve your password untill at least 7 days have passed. DNS takes 24-72 hours to propagate, this is beyond keenspace.com 's control.

Gah! Well, know that it's ready as soon as they are. I've got the first one in completed form and will work on the following ones in the coming days. It will probably be daily, presuming I can keep up such a pace. Like this blog, it'll probably update around midnight. Final note on the matter until it goes up, the comic's name will be "Courtside", thought up by my friend Axl in reference to the old N64 NBA game.

Phoenix up 3-0
Memphis is good, but not enough to handle Phoenix, unfortunately. Jerry West once said that he was going to start moving pieces of their army of good rotation guys for more talented guys, 2 for 1's and such. I know he made a run at Shaq last summer but he's got to start executing some big deals if he wants to succeed. Sometime in the near future, I'm going to put up a giant post (a la the playoff preview) about what all of the lottery teams need to do in the offseason. After the year's done, I'll do similarly for the playoff teams.

As the Adsense page tells me, likely thanks to the link from Forum Blue and Gold, there was a bunch of traffic on Friday. Good to see. For those new, welcome to the site, check through the archives. This place might not be very old, but it seems to be well received.

The Zenmaster's destination
If he comes back, I guarantee it will be to Cleveland. I'm not sure if I mentioned this already, but if I didn't... you read it here. It's pretty much the best situation he could ask for. One of the best players in the league at an age of 20, very good young complementary piece at PF, no GM so he'll have all the player control he wants and a lot of cap room. If he goes elsewhere (other than not coaching)... either something great opened up or he's nuts.

HOUR LATER UPDATE: Completely slipped my mind about Walker getting a game off. Let's just throw out his Atlanta stuff, as it matters not right now. So, just Boston stats are listed. Even though his arrival coincided with the big Boston winning tear (recall, it was 11-1), his Roland Rating is -0.4. Add to that that his PER is 16.3, yet his defensive PER is 19.0... Boston's chances for game four just improved by a bunch. Seriously, the team is a lot better with that chucker firing them up on the bench rather than on the court. Side note, why are people saying Boston is so much more talented than Indiana, but Indy has "heart"? Bill Simmons even said Boston has 10 of the 13 most talented players in this series. This obviously doesn't count Artest and Tinsley, who are sans playing. I think I'll list off the most talented players in this series in my own view. From the top...

Jermaine O'Neal - This one is pretty obvious.
Paul Pierce - Same idea.
Reggie Miller - Normally I'd go with someone else here, but he's been crazy this series.
Raef LaFrentz - This is personal opinion, very few agree with me.
Ricky Davis - Has been brutal this series, but still this high.
Stephen Jackson - Not much to say here.

So that's three in the top six. Hm...

Gary Payton - Much better than he was in the playoffs last year.
Dale Davis - 9.5 defensive PER so far this series.
Jeff Foster - Just look at his stats this series, I have no idea why Carlisle isn't playing him more.

So that's five in the top nine. I'd go further, but you get the idea. If people tell you Boston is way more talented than Indiana, even without Artest and Tinsley... prove them wrong.

The one I was watching intently
I'm going to start with the time thing and add more review afterwards. Here you go...

7:39 - Watching the game preview on NBA TV. I've seen Scott Williams talk for about half an hour in total over the last three days on here and he's screwed up when talking about thirty times. So about one a minute. I realize he's just starting out but this is getting ridiculous. He does three from 7:39-7:40 alone.
7:45 - I find out that the Suns/Grizzlies game tonight will be the first playoff game at the new building in Memphis... not that they're going to wind up with more than two games there this season.
8:05 - My dad and I realize that the game isn't on NBA TV, it's on TSN (it's like the Canadian ESPN for those who don't know). Almost had a scare there.
8:07 - Breen and Walton are calling the game... you know what that means. Nothing of interest, big men throwing it down and five references to how Lebron's supporting cast is crap. The tip happens about thirty seconds after.
8:15 - Dalembert gets a shooter's bounce on a fifteen foot fade away jumper... Walton says he's a "real talent". I'd have to agree.
8:16 - Tayshaun has 10 points on 3-3 shooting with about 7:30 to go. Good job, Korver.
8:18 - Tayshaun goes for his super layup block, but gives AI an "And 1" instead. I think that's the first time I've seen him mess that up.
8:19 - Philly has 12 points in the paint, Detroit has 0. Something seems off about this.
8:20 - At the first timeout, with 4:58 left in Q1, Philly's up 20-19. At this pace, the final score will be 137-130. Good thing scoring paces in single games rarely keep up, huh? Side note, I don't think there are any commercials played during NBA games outside of the kid saying KG led the league in rebounding last year, the Gillette commercial with the woman with the dubbed voice, AI on how he isn't a gangster, Lebron and Thirst battling for the Sprite and the xXx: State of the Union trailer.
8:25 - Next timeout, at 3:38, Detroit's up 26-20... that changed in a hurry.
8:32 - Q1 ends with a score of 32-24. Pistons shot 65% from the field and 75% (6-8) from behind the arc. Pace is 128-96 now
8:38 - Walton refers to the Pistons' big six as a "Tetra-Hydra"
8:41 - Third timeout of the night, at 8:59 remaining in Q2, Pistons are up 37-26. So they're on a 18-6 run... starting to look like definite broom time on Sunday.
8:48 - Lindsey swats AI, but they call it a foul. I love seeing 6'1 guys who can't jump get blocks.
8:50 - Fourth timeout, 5:54 left, 41-34 Pistons. They hit a bit of a snag with chunks of the second unit out there, but it's alright.
8:54 - Rasheed gets a T while on the bench... as usual, when the crowd got on him, he pointed up at the scoreboard.
8:57 - Fifth timeout, Pistons are up 46-42 with 4:09 left... don't know what to say. Haven't seen Philly do anything useful past Q1 in this series so far.
9:05 - Dalembert, McDyess, Chauncey and Ben have a duel on the floor for a fumbled ball, which ends with Dalembert grabbing it and taking a spill
9:09 - Rodney Rogers hits his second triple of the game... which shocks me. I haven't seen him do anything worth mention since last year in NJ.
9:10 - At the half, Detroit's up 54-51. Ah, intermission... listen to track nine on "Ixnay on the hombre".
9:25 - During the half, we watched the Suns/Grizzlies game.
9:27 - The Piston starters sans Chauncey all had 10+ points in the first half, which ESPN called balanced scoring. Despite this, the Piston bench had 2 points. So it was balanced like the Laker return for Shaq was garbage. About thirty seconds later, the second half starts.
9:32 - Ben draws a charge from Iverson just outside the key... outside the opposite key. We had a good laugh about that one. This is followed by Iverson getting a T.
9:36 - Rasheed's been pretty much unstoppable so far this game.
9:37 - Timeout count++, Pistons are up 69-65 with 5:58 left in Q3. I feel like we're going to get a finish similar to game three of Miami/NJ
9:41 - Iguodala hits a jumper. I think that's the first one he's hit all series
9:44 - Philly ties it at 72 with 3:34 to go. Hey, Miami pulled the other one out.
9:49 - Ben fires another ball off of the rim with a vengeance, except there's a foul called on this one. After his throws, I think he's like 6-7 on the night.
9:53 - I think Rodney Rogers travelled back in time five years, I think he just went up to 4-5 from behind the arc.
9:54 - Q3 ends with a score of Philly 77, Detroit 76. See "9:37" for my thoughts.
10:02 - Ben's at a career high in points at 23! Seems to me his 22 was in game five against the Lakers last year.
10:04 - Another timeout, Philly's up 89-86, 7:51 left in regulation.
10:07 - Breen references the quarter toss... yet there's been no big deal about it yet! I'm shocked.
10:10 - Scratch the previous remark, Ben just reached 6-7 from the stripe now
10:11 - Timeout count = Timeout count +1; Philly's up 96-89 with 5:47 to go. This is their biggest lead of the game, but I'm confident in the Pistons.
10:15 - Breen refers to a miniature Larry O'Brien trophy as a "Larry Brown" trophy.
10:18 - Another "T" signal made. 101-95, 3:43. Similar comments to before.
10:21 - Walton says Dalembert should start his own religion. I suggest Pronounciationism.
10:25 - 109-100, 1:33, timeout Detroit. It was going alright until Iverson hit a triple. Can't say I think it's going to happen now. Call it realistic.
10:32 - 111-104, 0:42.3
10:34 - Rip gives it away after the inbound pass. That's pretty much all she wrote.
10:36 - Final score, 115-104. Meh, I did call it. Not quite 100-85, though.

Moral of the story is that letting teams shoot 43-78 (55.1%) from the field in their own building is a pretty good way to lose the game. Granted, a large chunk of those 78 shots were jumpers, so the Pistons weren't completely at fault. Detroit's O was great, aside from the bench, but that's no big hurting when they shoot 37-73 (50.7%). The D wasn't as terrible as Philly's stats lead it to be, but it was still questionable at many points. I'm sure Brown will ride them hard here on Saturday... I highly doubt Philly keeps up such a hot streak on Sunday. More on that later.


Give me the prize

Wow, updates on consecutive days. I didn't know this was possible anymore... yes, the prize is for me.

Simmons gets MIP
Pretty good choice. I didn't have him on my preview because his PER didn't jump much, mainly, his PT did. His contract is up, so he ought to get a nice pay day. Hm, guy wins MIP during his contract year... yeah, something might be up there. Nevertheless, if he continues to play how he did this year, he'll be a nice pickup.

Miami's up 3-0
- NJ's night
Have to hand it to Carter, he did all he could to keep it going. Got Kidd an open triple at the end of regulation, hit that six banker at the end of the first OT and nearly had a triple double, but it wasn't enough. Granted, he did score 36 points on 37 shots and have 7 turnovers, but it was working in the clutch well anyway. The Nets had eight guys play and rack up 32 total fouls. That's an average of four fouls a guy. In addition to this, the Nets had five guys play 42+ minutes. I know these guys have a lot of stamina but if they're getting that many fouls while playing that much time, something might be wrong. Good job, L. Frank.

- Miami's night
Haslem had 19 boards, Shaq had 6. What? Miami shot 22-38 from the charity stripe, might be why it took them two overtimes to beat these jokers. I bet ABC is pissed that it has to show the Heat driving the last spike on Sunday instead of a more competitive series. I guess it's their own damn fault for scheduling such things.

Indy goes up 2-1
- Boston's night
Props to Antoine Walker, he didn't fling any pieces of crap at the hoop tonight... aside from just about every single FGA he had. I have no idea how he made 5 of them. Ricky Davis is 3-18 over the last two games. Justin Reed got more PT than Mark Blount, how does that happen? Kendrick Perkins shot 3-4, had 6 points and 4 boards in 11 minutes... and yet, only played 11 minutes. I don't know what Doc is thinking.

- Indy's night
Jeez, Reggie's still a machine. 10-16, 11-12 from the stripe, 33 points, 7 boards. I heard an interesting stat earlier, Fred Jones lead the Pacers in minutes this year. This guy was supposed to be about the 7th man and he lead the team in minutes. Very sad. On the bright side, I still think they're going to get out of round one.

Dallas pulls the third out
20-0 run. Wow. Can't say I saw this one (see recent note on late games for why), but I really wish I could've. I don't know why people are flipping out over the fact that Houston won both in Dallas. Dallas was 29-12 on the road and at home, so every game is pretty much the same to them. Which is why I fully expect them to rally and win four of the final five and pull the series out. I wasn't expecting a 32-37 clip from the line as a team, though.

Preview of DET/PHI
As I said yesterday, if Philly's going to win one in this series, it's going to be this one. If the Pistons win tonight, Philly will be too dejected to give enough effort to steal one when down 3-0. If Philly wins tonight, the Pistons will roar back and crush them in games four and five. Either way, game four will be a Piston beatdown similar to games one and two. The one that could be different is here. Despite my prediction, it probably won't be, but we'll just have to watch to find out. Side note, I'll be doing my first thievery (as mentioned yesterday) for this game.


I can't live with you

Today's post title refers to the dialup connection, as it's making me want to cut things and is the reason there were no updates the last few days. At first I thought I'd go for another big post to make up for it, but I'll do that and more. For one (maybe two, we'll see how it goes) of the upcoming Piston games, I'm going to rip off Bill Simmons and detail my thoughts every five minutes or so before, during and after the game. That ought to make up for it.

HALF AN HOUR LATER UPDATE: Latest Carnival of the NBA (#9) is up at Forum Blue and Gold (link on the side), where this site shows up much like it did in the last one. Yay self!

Speaking of ESPN.com writers...
Eric Neel is a pretty talented guy, I tend to like his writing. But this is a bigger turd dropping than Bibby's 1-16 shooting the other night link. He can't think this is funny or good, can he? I know opinions are like assholes, but this is ridiculous. I mean, his combo article with Scoop Jackson (can't find the link, sorry) was better than this filth and that was terrifying.

Pistons and Sixers are both one point off
Well, I was close. We're down to 67% for Piston W's according to my prediction... and really, I think it'll be 100% after game 3. I suspect the third will be the one the 76ers have the best chance at winning. More on that later. Side note, Rasheed likes to refer to the team's most debated draft pick as "DMC". Apparently this is from Darko MiliCic (or ciC). I guess that's another title for him. It beats the coach's "Pound for pound" anyway.

I feel bad for AI. He was having such a brutal game shooting and handling the ball then his team got the loss. This is bad enough, but he had the night topped off getting a coin in the bottom of the skull. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'll fill you in. As commented on by Jim Rome yesterday, some idiot fan threw a quarter towards Iverson and hit him in the spot I mentioned. Much of the 76er bench turned around and security went towards the guy who seemingly did it. Following Rome, I was listening to Stoney and Wojo of The Fan and they had a guy (his name was Michael, we'll call him Mike) that was sitting next to the coin chucker call up and explain what really happened. The chucker goes by the name of Dennis Wayne Pauley (spelling on last name is questionable). Similar to DMC, we'll call him DWP. DWP and Mike moved into the lower section towards the end of the game as a lot of the crowd was filing out. With about five minutes left in the quarter, DWP turns to Mike and says, "I'm going to throw this quarter at AI". Mike tells him not to. About five minutes in real time later, DWP throws the quarter and connects. Security comes up and takes Mike away. They question Mike and say that DWP did it. Ten minutes later, they go and bring back DWP and apparently arrest him. More news later. What really makes me glad is that this is semi-big news (Rome did mention it) but it's not all over the internet and television like the brawl was. If it was huge news, we'd have to hear about how Detroit's a cesspool (despite the Palace being in Auburn Hills) all over again and "baa baa baa" would go the sheep. Fortunately, it's not so bad (yet). Let's hope it never gets there again.

Net big men shoot a combined 10-28 (35.7%) in their game two...
... and I continue to be correct. Sans Krstic, the numbers go to 2-15 (13.3%). On a related note, I think we should make up a Mendoza Line for the NBA... call it the Kidd Line or something. I'd pick a different chucker, but he's the one with the most unique name.

A vengeance
Well, I figured that was coming. Not by 28 points, but I figured it was coming nonetheless. I'd say more, but what's to say? Good team played bad in game one, then kicked some ass in game two (which I'm currently watching the rerun of on NBA TV). I expect game three to be more competitive.

Epitome of the playoffs?
It's knock down. It's drag out. It's... Chris Duhon having a line of 5, 7 and 8 and Kirk Hinrich having a line of 34 (on 15 shots), 3 and 2. It's Arenas shooting 14-25 and his team still not getting the win because Hinrich shot 12-15.

Hot blooded, check it and see
I was watching NBA TV's show "Insiders" yesterday and they were talking to Artis Gilmore. Naturally, the main topic was the current Bulls. Eventually, they got to Ben Gordon. Artis said Gordon was like Ex-Piston Vinnie Johnson... in that they were both big scorers off the bench for teams that tended to focus on defense. I agree, it was an apt comparison. However, Artis followed that up by saying that they used to have a nickname for Vinnie... that he was "The Heater". Uh...

VJ reminds me of the one on the right, not the one on the left.

Filler, again
Speaking of the Bulls, there's a reason I love their first round opponents. While I enjoy the great play of their three headed monster, I enjoy their big men even more. Why? Let's take a look at some stats.

- Regular season stats
Brendan Haywood: 9.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.49 PPS, 60.9 FT%
Etan Thomas: 7.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.3 PPS, 52.8 FT%
Kwame Brown: 7.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.23 PPS, 57.4 FT%
Jared Jeffries: 6.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.21 PPS, 58.4 FT%

Those bottom three guys play so differently, yet come up with such similar stats. Washington's got a three headed monster that essentially does the same thing with all three heads. I just thought that was kind of funny.

Comic update
Ran into some unidentified trouble in the creation process (take a guess), but I guarantee it will have begun online before the end of the week, probably before Friday.


Don't try so hard

Note , I'll make up for the missed day with a big post here. I'm good for it, you know I am. Note number two, I've got some ideas for the early comics, I just have to draw them up... which I'll work on tomorrow.

Still hate how annoying it is to surf the net on dialup. They need to get broadband to this area already. Supposedly, everywhere in Canada (probably excluding the non-habited parts of the territories) was going to have broadband access within a year dating back to a year and a half ago or so. Apparently they haven't come through yet.

The close ones
I guess the title of the post is a reference to the Spurs/Nuggets game and the Celtics/Pacers game. Both involved high seeds getting beaten by the defense of low seeds and both were a lot of fun to watch. However, the second game had the commentators referring to James Jones and Ricky Davis as "Jumaine Jones" and "Ricky Pierce"... which I thought was pretty funny. Partially funny because of the similarities between each and partially funny because I love commentator screw-ups. As for the games themselves... as I said, very enjoyable for the eyes and brain. Plenty of D from all four teams (surprised to see it from that green team).

Big game for Reggie. Could've been a big game for Stephen Jackson, he had 16 points on 4-5 shooting in the first quarter... and you can see what he wound up with. Could put a bunch of blame on Pierce for the L, he did miss that free throw and follow it up a little later with the missed triple... but I don't think that's the route to go. I think a chunk of the blame should go on Ricky Davis, myself. He did shoot 1-8, have five turnovers and 6 PFs. It was like every time he touched the ball, something bad happened. More blame goes on other guys who shot badly, like Blount getting 4 points on 8 shots or Payton, who had 4 points on 7 shots.

As for the Nuggets and Spurs... Parker shot 6-17 and had 5 turnovers. Duncan shot 7-22. Those just aren't things you see from those two guys. Like Arenas, once they start shooting better, the team with more talent on the floor will be victorious. Bruce Bowen taking more than one shot in 33 minutes will probably help too.

Mmm, filler
I was watching Pistons Weekly last night and I heard a funny quote. For those unfamiliar, 12:30 AM on Monday mornings, NBC 4 in Detroit has a show on with the title mentioned. It's a half hour show that details three things. The first is a review of what happened over the week for the team. The second is something the team has done in the community or a special feature (examples of this are the look back on the Palace of Auburn Hills when it turns fifteen or a music video for some song that features Piston highlights). The third is a preview of the week coming up. The quote I bring comes from the upcoming week. A few reporters were talking to Ben Wallace at the Pistons' practice facility and the topic of the Heat came up. One of the reporters said to Ben (I paraphrase here), "Does it bother you that a lot of people are picking the Heat or the Spurs to be in the Finals?" to which Ben replied (again, a paraphrase), "Not at all, they're right. One of them will be in the Finals." which I thought was kind of humourous. Hey, read the subtitle.

The not-so-close ones
Nets/Heat has gone pretty much as I've expected it to so far, aside from Ex-Piston Jones hitting the twine so efficiently. Combined shooting of the four Heat big men that played? 16-26, for 61.5%. I expect the next three to be similar.

Gordon+Nocioni/Hughes wasn't at all like I expected. Good night for Andres, but I don't suspect he repeats such a performance. Likewise, I don't expect a repeat of that from Arenas. Once those two go back to normal, Washington will come out ahead... or so I believe.

Suns/Grizzlies I didn't see, similar to how I'm not seeing the Dallas/Houston game right now... darn late night games (it's not that I can't stay up, it's that my ride can't stay up). Steven Hunter, second in the league in blocks per minute, makes his presence felt in the post... doubt he does that again, not again Memphis's front line. I find it funny how the Grizzlies can have a nice night from behind the arc of 9-21... then Phoenix can top it with one of 15-32. That'll happen when you go against a group of gunners like who Phoenix has.

Game two of the series I'm supposed to be focusing on
Like Miami/NJ, I expect a repeat performance in game two. I expect the same thing to keep happening, that is, massive Piston wins. That wild game from Korver/Iverson/whoever could come and interrupt, but otherwise I don't see Philly matching anything. Thus, expect another 100-85 (or so) game... with a 75% chance that it will be in favour of the team I cheer for.


Battle Theme

Game one: Pistons 106, 76ers 85
That went well, huh? Philly's bench was pretty much non-existant, which was strange, since I figured Ex-Piston McKie and Ex-UDM Titan Willie Green would have some good outputs in this series. Tayshaun played 47 minutes and Rip played 44. Rasheed had 16 points in the third quarter. Tayshaun had another great block, but it was called back. McDyess was great and ABC loved him for it, I bet there will be a pile of stories if he continues to be a big producer. Ben tied the great Bob Lanier's record for blocks in a playoff game with 7, almost had a 5 by 5 night (one assist and one steal off)... quality all around. Pretty much everyone on the Pistons played well, but only everyone sans Korver in the Sixers' lineup played well to combat it. Thus, the Pistons were victorious. I messed some parts of the game (travelling and television trouble due to local snow) but caught them again later thanks to NBA TV.

The comment on the last post isn't the first one to question one of the colour schemes I've had. Personally the scheme is up to the readers, thanks to Firefox it's always whatever colour I want it to be on my laptop's screen. So I'll put it to a vote, I guess. Comment or email me what you think the colours should be (something Piston-esque, as proposed, will probably be popular) and perhaps there will be a change in the future.

Houston pounds Dallas
When Dirk shoots 5-21 and T-Mac shoots 14-27, Dallas is bound to lose. I'm sure they'll recuperate and win game two.

At the time of this writing, Boston's up on Indy 76-41
I know Tinsley's not playing, but... wow. I'll update later.

UPDATE at 5:18 AM: Well, it wasn't as bad of a beatdown at the end.

Still in the update, after reading the latest post at the Spurs Blog, I have no idea why I remotely thought about Denver winning that series. Change my pick to SA in six!

Another project of mine is coming
I love reading sports blogs on the internet... eventually, I started one up. Another thing I love reading on the internet is webcomics. Guess what? A similar movement is coming. There seemingly aren't many sports comics on the net (I've only seen one or two myself and I've seen plenty of comics in general) so perhaps this is an untapped section. My drawing skills are questionable, but with the aid of a certain popular image editing program and access to my dad's scanner, I might be able to make this thing fly. The last piece of the puzzle is Keenspace, who like Blogger, provides me with free hosting. I'm on enough to update weekly. I'm confident in myself, I think I could make it good. I've gotten a decent following here and with links from here to the comic, I could have crossover success. The topic will be sports in general, but I'll try to focus it on the NBA. Look for it soon. Once I draw up a few, edit them up and have them ready, I'll start my part of Keenspace up. Should be fun.


Long away

This post will be short, just wanted to hit on a few topics. First, I'm going to throw a couple ads from Google's Adsense up here. The idea is that people click them and I get some miniscule amount of cash per click. I didn't start this blog with a plan to try and make money off of it, partially because I didn't expect to get much of a following. However, after just a month I have a decent following (or so it seems) already so I figure I'll try and profit off of it. I'm not attempting to force people to do this, I'll still provide the same stuff I do now even if my profit from here is $0.00. I'll also put them up as a footer, which means they'll be at the bottom of the page, so they'll be out of the way. The point is they aren't compulsory, but if you want to, give them a click.

Second point is that I'm heading home from University for the summer, so I'll be stuck with dialup for a little while, which might make posting semi-difficult like it did the last time (no, this is just a coincidence to the ads thing). I'll see what I can do to combat it.

Back chat

Note before I start: My name is Corey, not Cory. Despite spelling it on the phone, their site got it wrong. No big deal, just clearing that up.

Yes, that was me on the radio
Had a little scare beforehand, seven minutes before when I was supposed to go on, their phones wouldn't take my call (I got an automated response). I managed to complain to one of the hosts through AIM and the next call I made, I got through. Just like magic! I thought I sounded alright and presuming they do a similar thing for the next round, perhaps I'll get to do it again. I had fun with it, so I'll definitely be up if they want me. You can find an mp3 of the whole broadcast under the "Podcast" button in the "Your Opinion Counts" section. In that clip, I'm on from 25:30 to 31:10. Check out the other parts too, they were generally well done. Note that this site (and the other blogs featured) are linked to on the menu on the right. If you want a link to a crappy real media file that has just my part, here. Side note, I found it funny that I was one of the "top NBA bloggers on the web" according to their site... after a month. Unlikely.

6:20 UPDATE: Delfino (in addition to the obvious Jenkins) is the one left off the playoff roster, not Darvin or Darko. I like this, seeing as how he was so useless on O and D for most of the year (when he wasn't hurt).

Paxson's out, this time officially, so is Malone
Well, we knew the first one was coming... second one too, actually. So this isn't huge news, just confirming our prior knowledge. Not sure why Paxson got the axe, really. His moves were great, the Battie for Gooden plus the picked that turned into Varejao for instance. Perhaps they wanted another patsy.

Stein's still crazy
Let's start with Washington at 16... what? They're playing a team with about equivalent talent that's missing their starting centre and small forward... and they're 16 out of 16 teams? This makes no sense to me. Similarly, Chicago at 8? This is weird for the opposite reasons Washington is 16. I don't agree at all. Next, Pacers at 6! They're 6th in their own conference, the weaker of the two, yet are sixth overall here. Let's have a quote, shall we?

Pacers vs. Pistons has to go seven -- those are the rules.

I called him on it in the chat he had on ESPN's Sportsnation at about 12:30 PM on Thursday. His response was that, "I mean that I feel that way for this year." So they lose their second best player, they won't have home court advantage anymore and it'll take the defending champs more games to dispatch them? Unlikely.

The show that never ends
Good to see this stat... good to see that the Pistons lead the way too. Yeah, I know they have the biggest arena. Perhaps this is a sign to NBA building owners that they need to increase arena sizes. I'm not suggesting NFL sized or anything, but I think various increases would be profitable.

McHale to return, but just as VP
Minnesota was 19-12 (.576) under him, as it said in the article, which is an 82 game pace of 47-35. Not too bad, considering what their record was not under him (25-26, .490, enough for a pace of 40-42). It's too bad McHale doesn't want to coach anymore, which I don't blame him for since he was thrust into it to start, because he might have been able to bring them back to the playoffs next year... you know, when they're free of Spree. Or the year after, when they're free of Cassell (I don't know why people complained about him, he did put up a 19.39 PER). After Cassell's deal comes off, presuming McHale doesn't give out any more big or long term deals, they'll be under the cap. This will be the summer of 2007... yeah, probably too long to go without spending much money for him. If they hold off, their record might suffer but they'll be poised for a comeback. I guess we'll see what happens and which coach comes in.

Final regular season ends for Reggie
You'd think less of a big deal would be made, seeing as how they have a playoff series (probably two, actually) left. Don't cry for Reggie yet, cry when the Pistons swat (a reference to Tayshaun's greatest highlight?) his team again in the playoffs.


The show must go on

Before we start the post, I'd like to mention two things. One, the playoff preview is just underneath this post. Two, something you migh've guessed from the comment on the last post, I'm going to be on the net radio show of "Sports Bloggers Live" tomorrow sometime between 12:00 and 12:30 PM. It probably won't be for very long and I haven't received my email about exactly when I'll be on yet, but I'll be sure to update when I get it. I don't know what their audience numbers are like or anything, but this will probably be the biggest audience by voice has ever reached. Talk about a big moment in life, huh?

MORNING UPDATE: I'm personally going on at 12:23, but apparently it's not live (which I wound up gathering after looking over the site a few times). To quote the email I got...

The show will not be broadcast live, but it will be playing on-demand at www.sportsbloggerslive.com from 1 PM ET this afternoon on through Monday night.

So, check it out. I promise to make it foxy.

End of season one
Similar to last night's floor wiping with Atlanta, this one doesn't matter. They ran off the big win streak, tied last year's record, got Darko more time... even though his numbers were crap. Aside from that, everything went fine. Now, it's time to look ahead (or below) to Philly.

"Yes" on Nets, "No" on Cavs
I guess both managed to pull their games out... too bad for Lebron, Gooden and Zydrunas. See post below for more. On a related note, anyone notice that the Cavs have an 8.7 PER at the SG spot? Yikes. I haven't seen ineptitude like that since the Browns took Tim Couch #1 overall in the 1999 NFL draft... hey, same city too.

What a great poll
Turns out I can link to these things and didn't know it, this will makes thing much easier for the readers that actually care. I voted for God Shammgod, personally, even with two Ex-Pistons on the ballot. He's got the best name in basketball history (that I know of), but he's closely followed by Duany Duany and Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje.

In Tuesday's "Daily Quickie" on ESPN.com, they mentioned an NIT-esque tournament for the teams that don't make it into the NBA playoffs. I think this would be a good idea, it would create extra revenue for the league and provide more exposure for the teams (like the Hornets with their phony ticket sales or Hawks with their lack of a two game winning streak) that need it. If I needed to convince you more than that, I'd say, "More NBA is not a bad thing".

Big, real big
This gave me a laugh when I read it. He'd have the new record for the tallest guy in league history if he made it in (which, at his height, he probably will). Recall, the previous height champs were Manute Bol (though he's listed at 7'6 on the linked site) and Gheorghe Muresan. Of course, Shawn Bradley and Yao are both in the league at 7'6 right now. Like the last two, one is just good for blocks and one is actually quite talented. Unfortunately for the talented one in the 7'7 group, Muresan, his career was cut short by injury trouble. Hopefully the same won't happen to Yao. But getting back to Sun, I hope he does well. Not every day I read about one of the few who is actually a full foot taller than myself. Whether he actually does well is up in the air, but we'll see. Not that he'll wind up there, but imagine the marketing possibilities if Phoenix manages to pick him up!

Everybody say it with me now... look below for the playoff preview post.

Hang on in there; The playoff preview (Round 1)

Note: I tend to count small forwards in the "littles" category.

The Eastern Conference
(1) Miami vs. (8) New Jersey
Miami is #2 in offense and #6 in defense. New Jersey is #28 in offense and #8 in defense.

- Open -
Here's a laugher... apparently just to some of us though. A few days back (I wish I had the pic, sigh) there was a poll on the NBA section of ESPN.com that asked, verbatim, "If Richard Jefferson makes it back for the playoffs, what can the Nets do?" with options of "Nothing", "Beat the Heat", "Beat the Pistons" and "Beat both". I think the votes broke down like 57%, 6%, 15%, 22%. Makes you wonder who's voting on these polls if they think the Nets, whose frail frontcourt I break down below, can take out two of the best front courts in the league.

- Bigs -
Seeing as how the Nets' best big man has a PER of 13.65 (that's Krstic) and Miami has three big men who play regularly with PERs larger than that. Shaq, league leader in field goal percentage at 60.1% at a PER of 27.59, Haslem (fifth in the same category at 53.6%) at 15.59 and Ex-Piston Laettner (he shoots 57.6%, but hasn't played enough to qualify for the league leaders) is at 17.06. Not only will the Nets be beaten to a pulp in PER, they'll be beaten to a pulp in FG% as well.

- Littles -
The Nets match up fairly well in the non-big men categories and Jefferson has said he'll be back for a playoff run. He's better than Eddie Jones (even though Rasual Butler's good D may get a lot of time on RJ) and Kidd's far better than Ex-Piston and league three point runner up Damon Jones (225 made at a clip of 43.2%), but Wade is better than Carter. The edge is to the Nets here, but it's slight. However, if Jefferson isn't 100%, it's down to even.

- Close -
While the Nets are just ahead in the backcourt (barring a weak Jefferson body), Miami's front court will squash their opposition this round, regardless of guard play.

Prediction: Heat in four.

(2) Detroit vs. (7) Philadelphia
Detroit is #15 in offense and #3 in defense, Philadelphia is #24 in offense and #10 in defense.

- Open -
Similar to the 1-8 matchup, I suspect the 76ers will be pounded into the ground. Philly matches up against the Pistons better than the Nets do to the Heat, but I still don't think it'll do much, since the still Pistons have the edge all over the court.

- Bigs -
Dalembert, Jackson and Webber make a decent trio, but they can't hold a candle to Wallace, Wallace and McDyess. Expect a lot of interior scoring from the Pistons.

- Littles -
Korver's going to be a liability whether he guards Tayshaun or Prince and Iguodala's either going to be posted up or run into the ground depending on which one he's on. So it's lose-lose for Philly here. On the flip side, Iverson will go off (lead the league at 30.7 PPG and is actually third all time in career PPG behind Jordan and Wilt now, just 0.07 ahead of Elgin Baylor) as usual, but I can't see anyone on Philly doing a lot of damage unless Korver (three point champ at 226 made on a clip of 40.5%)/Iguodala (great defender) go(es) wild for a game or two.

- Close -
Due to the volatility of the littles on Philly, I'm not suggesting the brooms come out here... but they nearly do.

Prediction: Pistons in five.

(3) Boston vs. (6) Indiana
Boston is #7 in offense and #13 in defense, Indiana is #18 in offense and #11 in defense.

- Open -
Welcome to the best evidence on why the three seed shouldn't get home court advantage in the NBA (or any other sport). Expect a lot of triples, as the teams have combined for 34.5 a game during the regular season.

- Bigs -
Both teams are deep here. Boston has Lafrentz, Walker, Jefferson and Blount. Indy has J-O, Foster, Davis and Harrison. While they match up evenly elsewhere and despite that Lafrentz is shooting like a fiend (55.6% from two, 36.3% from three), J-O definitely pushes the advantage to the Pacers.

- Littles -
Here's where the balance comes back to the Celtics. Pierce, Davis, Allen and Payton beat Tinsley, Miller, Jackson and Jones... by about as much as the Pacer big men beat the Celtic big men. So we're back to even.

- Close -
I suspect these games will be pretty random (as in, we'll probably see 105-100 games followed by 85-80 games) and thus, pretty entertaining.

Prediction: Pacers in seven.

(4) Washington vs. (5) Chicago
Washington is #11 in offense and #17 in defense, Chicago is #26 in offense and #2 in defense.

- Open -
This one will be a strange contrast in styles. Like the 3-6, it could be rather random in what the games' point totals are.

- Bigs -
Bulls are minus Curry, so they have a sizable loss, but they have the depth to overcome it. So the matchup is Chandler, Harrington and Davis versus the young (sans Ruffin) army of Haywood, Thomas, Brown, Jeffries and Ruffin... Washington's better. If Curry was around, it would be even.

- Littles -
With Deng out and Gordon as the sixth man, the Bulls will be starting Duhon, Hinrich and Nocioni... who have an average PER of 12.03 between them. On the flip side, you have the Wizards, starting Arenas, Hughes and Jamison... who have an average PER of 20.39. Even if you were to add Gordon and subtract the lowest PER (Duhon's 10.19), you get an average of 13.75. Chicago may play better D (the best at the two spot, as recently mention on Bulls Blog), but the advantage on offense is far too glaring.

- Close -
If the Bulls were full strength, I'd call it pretty even... but they're sans Deng and Curry. With them out, the Bulls are in trouble, even with the home court advantage.

Prediction: Wizards in six.

The Western Conference
(1) Phoenix vs. (8) Memphis
Phoenix is #1 in offense and #15 in defense, Memphis is #19 in offense and #5 in defense.

- Open -
I said a while back that if Memphis didn't face Phoenix or San Antonio, they had a good shot at an upset. Problem was, they stunk when Gasol got back and wound up falling down to 8th... so they have to play the Suns. Memphis has the depth to run with them, but as can be seen here, Memphis is brutal against teams that are rated "good" in the "points for" category.

- Bigs -
Amare, Marion and Hunter average a PER of 21.41. Gasol, Wright and Swift average a PER of 18.14. Against most teams, Memphis would have a nice advantage. However, not here. As good as Gasol is, Amare provides a similar function with even more efficiency. Thus, the plus is to Phoenix.

- Littles -
JJ, Q and JJ might not have the best PERs (average of 13.49), but unlike most other 2-3 groups, they have a job that they do very well (that's drain triples, where they combine to go 6.7 for 16.2 per game, 41.3%) so they're still quite affective. Plus, Phoenix has that guy named Steve Nash, who has a Pure Point Rating of 41.6 (for those unaware, the "best" is supposed to be a mark of 40). While the Grizz army of J-Will, Miller, Battier, Watson, Wells and Posey are great in a group, I just don't see them competing very well with Phoenix's gunners.

- Close -
I think Memphis might give Phoenix a little trouble, if the jumpers stop falling for a game or so, but I doubt they can take much from the Suns.

Prediction: Suns in five.

(2) San Antonio vs. (7) Denver
San Antonio is #6 in offense and #1 in defense, Denver is #12 in offense and #7 in defense.

- Open -
Duncan's back but might not be in good enough health to be his usual superb self... I'm really torn here. The Spurs have been a great team for years, but Denver's been on fire. Both are near the top on D, both are in the second tier on offense... hard to say.

- Bigs -
Najera might be out... currently questionable. TD, Nazr and Rasho, three talented centres, take on three talented power forwards in Camby, K-Mart and Nene. Denver's got the speed, San Antonio's got the talent. Slight advantage SA, if Duncan's not hurt. If he is, big advantage Denver.

- Littles -
Denver's three main littles, Carmelo, Miller and Boykins, average a PER of 17.12. Denver is nicely balanced team, props go out to Kiki for that one. However, the Spurs three main littles, Bowen, Manu and Parker average a PER of 17.14... and that's only dragged down due to non-steal and non-block defense not counting toward's Bowen's total. Even after that, they have a backup group of Brown, Barry and Udrih that average a PER of 14.66... which Denver counters with Johnson, Buckner and Russell, who average a PER of 13.55 but do play good D individually. Still close, but still an edge for the Spurs. The variable here is that Lenard is back after missing so much of the year. His addition balances out the scale a bit, but the Spurs still have the advantage in this spot.

- Close -
The Spurs have more depth, better perimeter shooting and the two (maybe three) best players on the court. But Denver's... really really hot. Plus they have a guy that's "fugazy" (remember last year's playoffs?) according to Tim Thomas. This one's going to be down to the wire... it all comes down to TD.

Prediction: Spurs in seven (changes to Nuggets in seven if Duncan is less than 90%)

(3) Seattle vs. (6) Sacramento
Seattle is #3 in offense and #25 in defense, Sacramento is #4 in offense and #23 in defense.

- Open -
This is kind of funny... the one team that looked easiest to upset is playing what I believe to be the weakest (or second weakest, if Memphis were to play worse again) playoff team in the West. Seattle's defense is absolutely horrible as they enter the second season (see a recent post for details). Of course, the same could be said about the team that used to be in Rochester. Thus, this ought to be a high scoring affair.

- Bigs -
Vlad-Rad is out for the year. Aside from him, we know that Seattle's main bigs (Evans and Fortson) are there to collect boards (rebound rates of 24.1 and 20.4 where the "best" mark is 20, respectively), so they won't provide much inside scoring (outside of Fortson's disgusting 2.05 PPS on 3.6 shots a game, anyway). Past them, Collison and James can score a bit but are two of the worst defenders on the squad... so their effect is somewhat negative. For the Kings, Brad Miller is obviously the focus for the bigs, with his 21.16 PER and ability to score anywhere from 20 feet and in. Outside of him, they get mediocre. Kenny Thomas, Ex-Piston Corliss and Brian Skinner average a PER of 14.8... which is good enough to combat Seattle's other bigs. Rebounding-wise, Seattle will dominate. Scoring-wise, Sacto will dominate. Overall? Seattle, but not by much.

- Littles -
Bibby's at 19.70 PER, Peja's at 17.71, Mobley's at 15.20 and Evans is at 12.35. Put them together and you get 16.24. Good, but not great. Allen's at 21.44, Lewis is at 19.69 Daniels is at 18.45 and Ridnour is at 14.78. Put them together and you get 18.59. Great! Advantage Seattle.

- Close -
Seattle wins both categories and normally this would be justification for the series. However, as said above, this could get wacky... and thus, any attempt at prognostication could be completely wrong.

Prediction: Sonics in six.

(4) Dallas vs. (5) Houston
Dallas is #5 in offense and #9 in defense, Houston is #16 in offense and #4 in defense.

- Open -
Ah, the battle for the second best squad in Texas. I'm sure the colours will be out in full force here... I just hope the colours used in Dallas don't match those ugly green uni's.

- Bigs -
Juwan Howard's out. At the five spot, Yao and Dikembe (20.39 PER between them) will crush Dampier and Bradley (13.11). At the four spot, Dirk and KVH (21.41) will crush Padgett and the Spoon (10.93). Basically, pick your demolition. Since I believe he's the MVP, my demolition of choice will be the one lead by Nowitzki.

- Littles -
There will be less domination here. Fun point guard matchup of Terry and Harris against Ex-Piston Sura and Ex-Piston James. Dallas wins the shooting guard matchup of Finley (he plays more time there than he does at SF) and Daniels against Wesley and Barry, partially on size, partially on the talent difference. Lastly, great defender Josh Howard (15.78 PER, like Bowen it would be higher if more defense counted) takes on T-Mac (23.45 PER) at the small forward spot. While this is a victory for Houston, it's not going to be a massive one. Thus, after two slight edges for Dallas and a decent sized edge for Houston, this part is even.

- Close -
Since the slight difference between Boston and Indy is due to a lack of Artest and the slight difference between San Antonio and Denver is due to a possibility of TD not being in good health, this matchup may be the closest one that isn't hinged on a star player being out for a random reason. This is probably too tight to call, so I'm going with the demolition I liked better, the home court advantage team.

Prediction: Mavericks in seven.


You take my breath away

Alright, I didn't mention it last night because it slipped my mind (was writing big playoff preview and studying for exam) but I'll give some thoughts on it now. Last night, Darko got his first start, logged his most minutes (30) and scored his most points (16). He even mixed in five boards and shot 7-11 (63.6%) from the field. Let's have a quote from the guy in question.

"Coach told me I was going to play a lot in the last two games so he could rest some of the regulars for the playoffs"

Sounds plausible. Granted, it's not like he was playing against superior competition (look at which bigs got time for Atlanta) but it's still a nice sign. While you're looking at that, notice that guys listed as SG's (Josh Smith, Childress, Diaw, Donta Smith) combined for 136 minutes, almost enough to fill three separate spots for a night (144 was needed for that). Like I said, not a great opponent, but good to see nonetheless.

As a Piston fan, like many other of the type, I hear about Darko all the time. Just last night (this is shortly before I realized the game had slipped my mind) I was having a conversation where a friend suggested that Joe D could've had Bosh or Wade. I suggested that Carmelo would be even better, judging by the big hole at the 2.5 spot on the Pistons' bench. He agreed and again asked why Darko was chosen. Obviously I don't have all the answers, but I rattled off the information I usually give to those questioning the pick of the human victory cigar (they even have that as his nickname on Basketball Reference!):

- Supposedly he's a star in practice, but he's not in game shape yet
- Their big men at the time were Ben, Memo, Elden and Corliss
- He turns 20 in a couple of months

Afterwards, I noticed a couple more stats.

- He's had 383 minutes on the career, enough for 10.64 games at a 36 minute clip
- He's taken 133 shots on the career, 9.45% as many as Lebron has.

So we've barely seen him play, yet he's constantly ragged on by people. Granted, most times when he's out on the court he looks about as useful as a one legged man in an ass kicking contest, but we've only seen 383 minutes worth. So let's wait until he has enough games under his belt for a couple of seasons before we judge the guy (I'd say "kid", but he's older than me).

Playoff preview will be up after this evening's games are complete.

Flick of the wrist

Before the main post starts, just let me say I'm honoured to have Knickerblogger featuring me in the latest Carnival. He even has me linked to in his "NBA Blogs & Writers" section. Thanks! Side note, the blog's also a month old yesterday... two achievements in the same day, I'm psyched.

Hamilton took the night off and it didn't hurt the team a ton, but even if it had it wouldn't have mattered. Holding teams to 68 points is usually a surefire way to be victorious. You can't figure a team that's starting a 35 year old Gugliotta (10.59 PER) is going to go far anyway. I'd analyze more, but it's not like this meant a whole lot. Despite that, this puts the Pistons at 54 wins, eleven of them in a row, so I guess they're going to tie or eclipse last year's regular season after all. Next up, in Charlotte to end the Bobcats' first season.

Nets and Cavs both win
So both teams are now 41-40... it comes down to this, then. Here on Wednesday night, the Nets are in Boston, while Cleveland's in Toronto. You know the idea by now, Cavs need a Nets loss and a win of their own to get in, Nets get in any other way. I wouldn't be shocked if both lost... knowing the Raptors, they might lose on purpose in order to try and screw the Carter and the Nets. I'm not kidding. As much as the fans hate the guy, the players might hate him even more (despite the face they put up for the public).

I recently added some new links to my links section, check them out. They're good reading.

Miles goes off
47 point, 12 board, 5 block effort off the bench... and the Blazers still couldn't pull it out. Then again, they only had 8 guys and Shareef only played 14 minutes. Their entire bench for the game consisted of small forwards too. So I guess they get credit for keeping it remotely close.

NBA, union talk; deal unlikely before season's end
I wasn't worried before, but I am a little worried now. I still suspect there won't be any trouble for next year (they won't let it be like the NHL, I'm sure) but I'm not 100% positive about it. All we can do is hope for the best, I guess.


Leaving home ain't easy

On the front page of ESPN.com right now, there's a big photo of Lebron and a Scoop Jackson article accompanying it that asks if Lebron will bolt from Cleveland after 06-07. There's also a caption on the photo that says If LeBron leaves, it'll rip the heart out of Cleveland fans. Yeah, that would make sense. With all of this worrying, people are forgetting some things. First one is that Cleveland only has $26.1 million in salaries for next year... this is minus Zydrunas and McInnis, the prior of which might be available for cheaper than his current $14.625 clip and the latter of whom they don't seem to like anyway. Also, as good as Zydrunas is, they could probably proxy him with Varejao and Traylor and not lose a crippling amount of scoring (rebounding would probably be similar, though). Then, all of that free space could be used to go after Redd/Allen and decent PG that whoever winds up coaching them actually likes. Think of it... next year, the Cavs could have a lineup of Varejao, Gooden, Lebron, an allstar SG and a quality PG. Provided they can pull Redd/Allen in and find a decent PG on the market (examples would be Tyronn Lue (14.01 PER), Gary Payton (15.40 PER), Brevin Knight (might be a stretch, 18.48 PER)), they'll have a team that would be very welcoming to Lebron and talented enough to get to the playoffs and maybe win a round. So if they can make some nice personnel moves in the offseason, they'll be sitting pretty. If not, could be trouble. But that's just my suggestion.

Shaq out for Miami's last two games
They'll have him back for the playoffs at 100%, this isn't anything special.

This is the reference for the next three comments.

Wayne Embry has a new job with the Raptors -- senior basketball adviser to team president Richard Peddie.
Good, it won't be as much of a jump up to GM for Embry when they slice Peddie and Babcock during the offseason.

Lenard has returned
Which adds more firepower to the Nuggets. Granted he's been out almost all year, but if he can be in game shape, he could be a very useful piece for them.

Surgery for Odom
Have fun trying to trade him in the offseason (not that I'd trade him, personally) when he's fresh off of surgery on his shooting shoulder, Kupchak.

Stein's new power rankings
Not much of a complaint here, but I'm still wondering how the Bulls are #9 and the Wiz are #16 when the Wiz beat the Bulls the other day are just one game back of the team in red.

Jefferson clamoring to come back
We knew about that one already. More comments on this when my playoff preview goes up. Again, this will be after all of the seeds are locked in.

Any Piston news?
No word on Rasheed's hamstring. I'm sure Rip will be fine, but Rasheed is questionable. Remember, he was slightly dinged for the entire playoffs last year thanks to Plantar Fasciitis. Let's hope he heals up quickly, because this year's going to be even harder than last year.


Under pressure

The game
That was a wild one. Rasheed plays 5 minutes, Hamilton exits and re-enters sans mask, Ilgauskus gets 11 O-boards, Ben gets 8 O-boards... crazy. Fortunately, what was important got done (that was getting the W). Side note, subtract what I said regarding McInnis when he's guarding a guy who scored 17 points on 7 shots. Obviously there has to be a comment on what Lebron did: bad shooting, good saving at the free throw line and eventually missing the most important shot of the game... those 28 foot faders are tricky ones. I really don't know if it was Tayshaun that caused it or it was a mistake by Lebron, but whatever it was, it sure looked awkward. But enough about that, the Pistons have won 10 straight and head to Atlanta on Tuesday.

Due to the loss...
The Nets are tied with the Cavs for the eight spot and as I mentioned last night, the Nets have the tie breaker. During the pregame on ABC, Bill Walton said Lebron's been carrying the group of stiffs for too long. This group of stiffs apparently includes a guy with a 20.42 PER who is tied for thirteenth in the league in defensive boards per minute (0.2167, or 7.8 per 36) and a guy with a 19.92 PER who is tenth in the league in offensive rebounds per minute (0.1125, or 4.05 per 36 minutes). Just because one guy overshadows doesn't mean everyone else on the team sucks.

Happy trails, Minny
Not much to comment on here, other than to ask, "People really thought Minnesota was going to get in?"

Continuing in Minnesota... Start me or trade me, disgruntled Szczerbiak tells Wolves
Note before rant... Wally's had 37 starts this year, which is fourth most on the team. Apparently logic doesn't apply here. As for the demand... makes complete sense, right? Plenty of teams are dying to trade for a guy who has a PER of 17.43 and 4/$46 left on his deal. Don't get me wrong, the Szcz is a quality player but I can't imagine too many teams are going to want to take on his deal... okay, maybe Isiah will do it. I heard them saying Kurt Thomas + ? for the Szcz a while back, but it'll be tough in the offseason. Thomas only makes $6.6 next year, so they'll have to throw in anywhere between $1.9 and $4.9 to balance it out if just Wally is coming in the other direction. Unfortunately for those whose home games are at the MSG, the only person they have on the roster for next year making such a thing is Knickerblogger favourite Mike Sweetney, who I sincerely doubt they want to give out. So, it's going to have to get complicated (Minnesota only has 9 guys under contract for next year), but maybe they'll find a way.

Celtics clinch 3 spot
We'll see which lucky team gets the 6 spot in the coming days. Indiana's got it right now, being 14 back of the Heat. Washington's 12 back and Philly's 16 back, so Carlisle's squad has a good chance of meeting up with the guys in green again... and like last year, beating them to a pulp, especially since J-O is back.

Once all of the seeds are locked in, I'll throw up some predictions. I'm going to start writing this now, since I'll have exams to deal with in the coming days.

Don't lose your head

Stoudamire goes crazy
Wow. NBA record for triples in a game. A night after Chris Duhon was 8-9 from behind the arc in Chicago, Damon decided to go 5-21 from downtown in this game. At least he made up for it with the triple double, I guess.

Related trouble in Portland
If only John Nash wasn't an idiot and hadn't spent all that money (giving Miles 6/$47, giving Randolph an extension of 6/$84, giving Ex-Piston Ratliff an extension of 3/$42) the team would be sitting pretty. After the season, Abdur-Rahim's deal comes off, Stoudamire's deal comes off, Van Exel was considering retiring (so his deal would come off), Ratliff's deal would've come off, they could've worked something out with Randolph after the season, there'd be no Miles to create distractions on the team... it could've been wonderful. Instead, one of the worst general managers in the league (if not the single lamest one) crushed a franchise with potential for years. Sure, Stoudamire and Abdur-Rahim have deals coming off (presuming they aren't resigned, which they probably won't be), but Van Exel wants to keep playing now and they're still over the cap for two more years (Przybilla's deal is done then, so they'll need to resign him). So they could be in cap hell for years to come, as well as having multiple players on the team that don't want to stay. Good work, Nash. You're officially useless.

WNBA draft was the other day
And look at how much people cared!

Grizz blow another chance to clinch
It's not like they've played four teams in six nights that all have better records than them all on the road or anything, right? It's not the end of the world, despite popular opinion. It's not like Minnesota is doing a lot better (2-2 in their last four, but wins were home for GS and at Utah, not tough).

Bucks' Ford practices for first time in 14 months
This is good to see. I hope he comes back 100%... the Bucks are going to need him, with or without Redd being locked up to a big deal.

Denver finally loses (to someone other than Phoenix)
Had to happen eventually, I guess. However, it did come with Camby being out against a team that has one of the best centres in the league... so I wouldn't take too much from it. Not saying that Camby makes up for 28 points, but he'd certainly help.

Preview of Cavs at Pistons
Cavs have dropped two straight (home to NY, road to Washington). Cavs are 12-27 on the road as recently mentioned, while the Pistons are 31-9 at home. Pistons have won nine straight. Based on these facts and my Cavs spiel from yesterday, I'd say the Pistons are going to steamroll. It's going to be on national TV, but that won't spot Brown from playing the bench a lot again, which is good.


Action this day

Note before we begin, the linking to Sportsline boxscores instead of ESPN ones is random. Note two, Pistons are up to nine straight W's.

Sonics finally clinch
Let's see, facing the Hornets at home... yeah, might be a slumpbuster. I link to this not just to mention it, but to point out the photo of the guy with the sign. Now that's basketball! I also mention this to point out that all-star candidate JR Smith shot 2-15. Pretty tough to be an all-star when you can't shoot... of course, that didn't stop Antoine Walker or Baron Davis in years past.


Raptors completely fall apart in half two
I watched the latter part of the first quarter, whole second quarter and latter half of the fourth quarter of this... which is funny. I saw the Raptors play great, then okay, then terrible. It was like watching the Pistons, then the Sixers, then the Hawks. Three different teams over the span of 24 minutes. It's scary how inconsistent that team is (even without the Toronto version of Carter). Nets are now just a game back of the Cavs for the 8th spot in the East. Think Lebron will be pissed if they miss the playoffs? Just a bit?

I segue from this into a rant about the Cavaliers. Seems to me that last year the Cavs were bad at the start of the year due to a lack of point guard. They then traded Darius Miles for Jeff McInnis and things were going well. The Cavs reeled off a few wins in a row and looked prime to be a possible sleeper in the playoffs. Then McInnis got hurt and the team fell apart, missing the playoffs. This year, they start off strong, then start falling apart as Paul Silas starts playing Snow as much as/more than McInnis. Eventually, Silas gets canned and Brendan Malone plays Snow even more. Now, his Roland Rating might not be much to write home about (+0.3), but somebody has to notice the trend here. McInnis playing equals Cavs wins. McInnis not playing equals Cavs losses. I doubt they'll learn in time though. Remaining schedules for our 8th spot duellists:

Apr 17 @DET: Big fat L
Apr 19 BOS: Probably a W, hard to say
Apr 20 @TOR: Cavs are 12-27 on the road for a reason, L

New Jersey
Apr 17 PHI: Could go either way, they're only 3-3 in their last 6 at home
Apr 19 WAS: Same as above
Apr 20 @BOS: L, Celts won't drop this

Presuming the Nets win both of the questionable games, they will move into the 8th spot (they beat the Cavs in the season series 3-1). Perhaps the will of Cleveland's big three will pull them through, we'll see.

Carousel from Hoopshype
Here are a few quotes (both from the Orlando Sentinel) about the Magic head coach job from the recent update:

The Magic also are expected to inquire about a possible change of heart from Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who turned down a lucrative offer from the Lakers a year ago.

"Interim Coach Chris Jent will be a candidate, but the names Phil Jackson, Flip Saunders, Paul Silas, Eric Musselman, P.J. Carlesimo and maybe Rick Pitino will churn in the rumor mill.

Jeez, Weisbrod's really swinging for the fences here isn't he? If Coach K wouldn't go to the Lakers, there's no way he comes to Orlando. Phil Jackson's going to want a ready-made winner if he returns and while this team has pieces, it's not championship-esque. Saunders could go anywhere, there have even been rumours that Joe D has been talking to him about the Piston job if Larry Brown departs after the year. Unlike many, I believe that this will be Brown's last team, so I mean depart as in "retire". Silas probably would enjoy a stab with another #1 overall pick, so it could work for him. I really don't know what Musselman wants, it may have to do with what Fratello does in the future. PJ probably won't give up his nice post with the Spurs, but I could be wrong. Pitino in the NBA didn't work last time and he just took a team to the Final Four, so I doubt that's happening. So they're left with mainly Silas or PJ out of that bunch. There's Jent too, but I give about a 0.001% chance of Jent retaining his job with so many big names sans a head coaching position.

Other ESPN writers talk awards
I find it odd that Tayshaun showed up in multiple categories, though I wouldn't put him far back in either. I also find it odd that Hollinger has Garnett as MVP. Yes, he's the league leader in Hollinger's most famous stat (28.85 PER) but I still have to discount him for the Roland Rating that isn't even in the top 50 in the league (+3.9). I liked that Hollinger put Przybilla as MIP, though. Someone else noticed! Another thing I find odd is that D'Antoni got 4/6 votes for COY. Funny, he had 3/5 of that starting lineup last year and lead them to about half as many wins. He gets a fantastic PG and a nice SG and suddenly... he's a good coach! Right. Lastly, at least Stein was the only one to take Hill as MIP.

More, including a Piston preview, later.

More award stuff

Have to comment on this. Unsurprisingly, Stein makes multiple mistakes here. One was naming Hill most improved... again, anyone will improve when their previous year was 0's across the board. None of his picks for most improved make sense. Hill had no 2003-2004 season. Simmons's PER only went up by 3.2 (13.35 to 16.55). Tayshaun's only went up by 2.21 (13.89 to 16.10). I don't get it at all. What was a second mistake?

Cleveland's LeBron James beats out Philadelphia's Iverson for No. 5 by becoming just the fifth player in league history to average 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in one season. The 20-year-old joins Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan on that short list.

Havlicek was the other one, I'll have to remember that. But we've had this discussion before. Wilt is again sans recognition, sadly. While I agree (or at least have his choice in my personal top three) with his winners aside from the MIP, I still can't figure out why he makes these common mistakes. For the record, my personal picks are:

MVP: Nowitzki
Aside from the two guys on the Spurs who benefit each other so much, Nowitzki leads the league in Roland Rating. He leads his team in points (26.3), boards (9.9), three point percentage (40.8%) and is shooting 46.9% from two. These are impressive, yes... but when you consider that the next highest scorer is Finley at 15.7, they start to stand out more. Runner up is Nash, who is almost as important, but not quite enough to knock off Nowitzki (to me).

COY: Karl
He hasn't been there the whole year, but it's a whole new (and better) team with him at the helm. I have to hand it to him, he's done a wonderful job. Runner up is Carlisle for taking that team past .500, though it's true that not corralling Artest's personality could be partially blamed on him.

ROY: Howard
I just like Howard's game more than Okafor's. This would be the tightest award to pick of all, in my view.

6th Man: Gordon
I don't think Davis and Stackhouse add as much to their teams (which score enough already) as Gordon does to the Bulls. McDyess could be an option here too, but the Pistons already have two great PFs in front of him (though Ben plays the five spot with no real centre, of course).

MIP: Wade (just ahead of Stoudemire)
See last post.

DPOY: B. Wallace (just ahead of a number of guys)
I would've taken AK47 for this had he not been so hurt all year. Instead, my pick goes to the anchor of our super Piston D.

In non-award news...

Updated +/- over last 30 days feature
Rip 2, Rasheed 4, Ben 9, Chauncey 30... which is nice, but has no sign of Tayshaun. Very strange, but good to see nonetheless.

Pistons smite Bucks
I wish I had noted about this earlier, as I would've predicted said smiting. It's pretty obvious what was done good and bad (95% good) here, so I won't make much of a comment. Lots of bench play again, which makes sense. I'm glad Brown is doing such things with the bench minutes as we lead into the playoffs. I kind of wish he'd start a lineup of Arroyo, Hunter, Dupree, McDyess and Campbell to rest the regular five even more... maybe not. Next up, home for the Cavs on Sunday on ABC.



An award that doesn't get a lot of talk is the "Most improved player award". Yes, many folks are saying Ex-Piston Grant Hill should win "Comeback player of the year" but as is often the case, many folks don't know what they're talking about (this award doesn't exist in the NBA). Sometimes it's a very good player moving up to an elite player or it could be a stiff moving up to a good player. Last year it was Zach Randolph, which was kind of in between. Year before was Gilbert Arenas, same idea. So there isn't really a set way of how to win it.
Let's take a look at some people that I believe should be candidates.

Dwyane Wade
The research surprised me on this one. I remembered that there was such a big deal about him as the season went on last year and yet, his PER was nice 18.32. However, this year it's 24.04 for a jump of 5.72. His PPS is 1.42, up from 1.24. He's playing in 3.72 more minutes a game, yet is averaging 7.9 more PPG (16.2 to 24.1... he's taken 3.9 more shots per game, but this still stands out) and 2.4 more APG (4.5 to 6.9). I suspect the award will go to him.

Amare Stoudemire
This one's pretty obvious. His FG% has jumped from 47.5 last year to 56 this year, he has a 26.85 PER as compared to 20.74 from last year and increase his PPG by 5.2 (from 20.6 to 25.8). Very deserving, though some will pin it as just a side effect of having Nash on the same squad. If it weren't for Wade, he'd probably get it.

Dan Dickau
Not as obvious. His PER jumped 5.38 (10.45 to 15.83), his PPG is almost up by a multiple of six (2.2 to 12.6, but his minutes jumped from 6.8 to 29.1, a factor of 4.28), his APG is almost up by a factor of five (0.9 to 4.8, same minutes jump obviously) and he's actually managed to stick around and play on a roster for a bit. Deserving, but not quite enough.

Joel Przybilla
Wow. PER jumped from 7.5 to 15.99, field goal percentage jumped from 36 to 61 and improved his blocks per game from 1.0 to 2.1 in just 3.4 more minutes a game (20.4 to 23.8). Probably as deserving than Wade or Amare, but hasn't had much of an impact and is on a crappy team (and a guy on his team won it last year). So it probably won't go to him.

So those are four good ones. As I said, I suspect the overly popular Wade wins it, but we'll see.



Side note before the review, Ben Wallace became the fifth player in NBA history to have 100 blocks and 100 steals in five straight seasons. Kudos to the heart of the team, even though he's going to have to grab 41 boards a game for the next four to hit 1000 rebounds on the year again. I doubt even the Big Dipper could muster 164 boards in a quartet of games.

Box for the game, which was a strange one. Barrett (5'10), Nelson (6'0) and Francis (6'3) were all playing for the Magic at one point, Elden Campbell got almost as many minutes (15) in the game tonight as he had since the start of March (16), Pistons only hit one triple, Tayshaun had no boards in 30 minutes, Pistons had 14 more boards, Magic rookies combined for 68 points, Magic had two guys not playing for "personal reasons" (Garrity and Stevenson) ... strange one. The guys that popped in and watched parts with me thought it was terrible (one said it was the worst game he had ever seen... then again, he also thinks Boozer was only good because of Lebron) but I thought it was fun. It was nice to see the young guys on the Magic against the various bench of the Pistons. Up next for the 04-05 Central champs, home for Milwaukee on Friday night.

Sonics have dropped six straight
In their latest defeat, Lewis and Allen combined for 12-33 (36.3%) from the field and 31 points. When your stars do that, you tend to lose. On the flip side, Nowitzki only needed 16 shots to hit the same total. Ouch. What's up with the team from Seattle? Let's take a look.

4/3; Loss at Golden State, 101-92: Warriors shot 38-76 (50%) from the field.
4/5; Loss at Sacramento, 122-101: Kings shot 47-80 (58.8%) from the field.
4/8; Loss versus Lakers, 117-94: LA shot 42-82 (51.2%) from the field.
4/9; Loss at Denver, 121-105: Nuggets shot 40-70 (57.1%) from the field.
4/11; Loss versus Rockets, 90-78: Houston shot 29-67 (43.3%) from the field.
4/13; Loss versus Mavs, 95-90: Dallas shot 36-70 (51.4%) from the field.

Aside from the Houston game (which is probably more caused by the Rockets), teams are frequently shooting the lights out against the Sonics. Unsurprisingly, bad defense is haunting Seattle, so much now that they've dropped six straight mainly because of it. Yes, Vlad Rad is out, but the fact still stands. We'll see if the team can figure it out. If they can't, I suspect a first round exit for the surprise story. On the bright side, at least McMillan is playing Fortson.

Coming up in the next post, a discussion about an award that gets very little chatter.


A kind of magic

Another one. Pistons have won seven in a row, Magic have lost four straight. Pistons beat the Magic (in Orlando, as opposed to this one) last week. Magic are 12-26 on the road, Pistons are 29-9 at home. Pistons are locked in at the two, Magic are fighting for a playoff spot (and dying). Based on these facts, even the last one, I'm suspecting that the Pistons will hand out a thrashing. Maybe they'll get to or past 54-28 after all. It's not like their remaining schedule (this one, Milwaukee, Cleveland, at Atlanta and at Charlotte) is very difficult. Coming into the playoffs with a 12 game winning streak certainly wouldn't be a drawback, unless one believes that playing crap teams will leave them unprepared for more talented ones (which I don't).

Nocioni docked one for his knock
Fair enough, I guess. It's just too bad they didn't dock his playing time over a number of days instead of killing it for one. On a related note:

Argentinian rookie Andres Nocioni is quickly developing a reputation as a dirty player who lets the heat of the game influence his actions. It would probably be wise for him to curb his act before someone does it for him.
- Tony Mejia, yesterday's power rankings

If only he could be like Bruce Bowen and bring some talent all around the court (except at the stripe), then perhaps there wouldn't be as much of a complaint.

Memphis = feeble?
The feeble manner in which the Grizzlies have made their playoff push make them a leading candidate to be swept right out of the Western Conference playoffs, regardless of who they draw.
- Same guy, same place as last quote

Feeble being winning five of their last seven, with losses coming in Dallas (fourth best record in the league) and home to Denver (has won 20 of 22). Apparently they recently changed the meaning of feeble to "good enough".

We expected rookie Kirk Snyder to get under opponents' skin with his physical play, but he's done more damage with his mouth, becoming one of the game's biggest trash-talkers from the jump.
- Same idea

Similar to Nocioni, once he brings some talent (like improving that 8.81 PER) then we'll talk.

The Suns
I like how I'm reading on message boards (sportsline or ESPN) that Phoenix's defense is terrifying. However, this is untrue. Obviously 15th in the league is nothing to jump for joy about, but when they're first in offense over the Heat by about the same margin that separates the 76ers and the Celtics, it really doesn't make you want to gag either. Not that I don't think defense is more important than offense, just that sometimes a wicked offense is fine if your defense is average rather than terrible (a la the Sonics, who are #3 on O and #25 on D). Note that I believe the opposite works as well, as the Pistons are #17 on offense and #3 on defense.

Poll commentary
Current poll in the NBA section on Sportsline asks, "How will Detroit's season end?". There are only 883 votes at the moment, not enough for a good sample, so I'll be sure to put up a tally when it has more opinions in. Unsurprising, "Loss in East finals" has a big lead at the moment.


Champions (of the Central)

The game!
That makes 6 Central division titles overall and 3 in the last four years for the Pistons. Good times, Piston fans. As happy as I am, I can't help but wonder why the heck Rip Hamilton was 2-17 from the field. As I usually think, "Why didn't he stop after say, the ninth or tenth one, when his shooting percentage was at least >= 20% ?". The motto I usually hear is that "good shooters keep shooting" but one must realize that this is a league of inconsistency and sometimes folks have bad nights. Partially due to Rip's scary performance, the team shot better from behind the arc than they did from inside it. This might have something to do with the fact that Andres Nocioni got 45 minutes and might have something to do with the fact that Skiles took out Ben Gordon for Chris Duhon before Chauncey hit his game winning triple, then put Gordon back in (only to miss a triple himself). Another problem the Pistons had was that the Bulls had 60 boards, including 24 on the offensive glass... 8 of which were by Tyson Chandler. I really hope the Bulls resign him in the offseason. The Pistons had similar trouble on the glass against the Heat, but it wasn't this glaring (16 O-boards for Miami then). Pistons also shot 11-21 (52.4%) from the stripe... yuck. Despite the various trouble, this is the team's seventh straight win, they held their opponents to 84 points in 53 minutes, Ben Wallace did have 5 steals, this is their fourth straight 50 win season and the whole division championship thing. So there's a lot to be happy about. Up next for the crew, home versus Orlando on Wednesday. Might be a cake walk.

The race card!
That didn't take long. What J-O doesn't seem to realize is the whole "competition" aspect against the NCAA. Either that or he does realize it and is trying to create controversy. Or he's just pissed off that he got to come out of high school straight to league and now kids might not be able to. I guess there could be a number of options. By mentioning the race card, I'm guessing it's the second one. Whatever it is... I don't think it will affect any proceedings. It's not like David Stern has much affection for Jermaine after that whole "clobbered a fan" thing.

Did we read that right? San Antonio 136, Golden State 134
Don't see 270 point games very often these days. Not quite 186-184 (370!) or anything, but still impressive. I wonder when the last time a pair of teams broke 270 was. I attempted to do research, but couldn't find much. Oh well. You get the idea, it was really high scoring for today's day and age.


The reason for the lack of consistent recent updates is pretty much that I didn't have a lot to say other than offer previews. Aside from a few formalities (final spots in the East, Memphis's trouncing of Minnesota for the 8th spot in the West) the first season is just about wrapped up. We've heard about the big injuries (Bulls and Sonics dropping left and right, whether Miller and Duncan will be 100% for the playoffs, etc.) and the hot streaks (Denver's won 21 of 23). There just isn't a lot to say about the year until we know for sure what all of the match-ups are. However, there are some things about after the year that could be commented on.

The 20 year age limit
The poll over at the NBA section on ESPN.com has a poll of "Should the NBA impose a 20-year age limit for entering the league" with 64.8% of the 19,257 who have voted so far saying 'Yes' with 35.2% saying 'No'. This question isn't really complete, as it doesn't also question the idea of the NBDL expansion for those folks under 20 that still want to come into the league. Personally, I think the switching of the NBDL rules to the 15 teams (one per every two NBA teams) and adding that "no one over 20 on rosters" rule to go along with the NBA's age limit is great. I don't watch a lot of college basketball, as I mentioned (some reasons I concur with found here) but I watch the current NBDL sometimes... whenever I can find it shown on NBA TV. However, you'd figure that if its teams are affiliated with certain NBA teams, it would get more TV time, which means more watching time. I don't know if it would be a success with other fans, but I'd certainly want to view. However, if they're just going to shut out the < 20 year olds and NOT put the affiliation in between every two NBA teams for every one NBDL team, then I don't think it'd be a good move. One, folks would probably try to take the league to court (remember what Maurice Clarett did to the NFL?). Two, the NBDL's competition with the NCAA will be even worse if those guys under 20 are stuck in college. Thus, if the league puts the "over 20" rule in and puts those under 20 into the reformed NBDL, I think it'd be a good move by the league... that is, if Billy Hunter will allow it. Reportedly, there's a good chance he will, so I'm happy. In non-after the year news...

Pistons defeat Heat
To be expected. No Shaq means that the Heat are much less effective. Aside from watching how frustrated Wade was (strange side note, one of the guys on my floor saw "Dwyane Wade" on the TV and asked if his first name was spelled incorrectly), I can't take much from this game. The Pistons will see them again in a few weeks, we can debate then.

Next up, at Chicago
Bulls are dinged up (Deng, Curry) but are at home and fighting for home court advantage in the first round. Similar to Sunday's game, this one could go either way. Not as similar to Sunday's game, I give the advantage to the Pistons. Deng's too important for the Bulls to be able to take out good teams without him.


The duellists

Not a lot to say about this one. Aside from letting Deshawn Stevenson shoot 4-6 from behind the arc, the Pistons did pretty much everything well. No complaints here. Let's face it, this game was just in the way until the showdown on ABC, right?

In about eight hours, it's Pistons at Heat time... likely a preview of games 1, 2, 5 and probably 7 in this year's Eastern conference finals. Seeing as how it's in Miami and pretty much meaningless other than as fodder for people (like me) to comment on, it could go either way. Since they're at home, I'll give the edge to the Heat... but the edge is very slight. However, Shaq may miss this game (he's already missed two straight). If so, the edge (much larger) goes over to the Pistons. Should be a good one either way.



Here is ESPN.com's preview. The Magic are pretty much screwed at this point (with Ex-Piston Hill being out for likely the year and Nelson being out for a few more weeks) but nevertheless, they are still fighting for a playoff spot. The game means a lot more to them than it does to the Pistons, so I wouldn't be shocked if the Magic pulled it out. Of course, it's on national TV, so if the Pistons were to lose this (nearly meaningless to them) game it's more fuel for the "Even though the Pistons won it all last year, there's no way in hell they can win with a slightly different bench now" argument that seems so prevalent. I still suspect the Pistons will win, as per standard, but I'm not expecting it or anything.


Review, response, reports

Nice game for the Pistons. Jamison was indeed activated, but didn't get any PT. They let Larry Hughes do a little of everything, but overall their O was good and so was their D (although the Wizards had single digit turnovers, just like the Raptors did). Interesting stat of the night was that everyone in the Piston starting lineup hit a triple, even Big Ben. It's rather difficult to look up such a stat, but I bet it's safe to say that this is the first time in a while that's happened. Next up, at Orlando on Friday night on ESPN.

I was listening to the Arnie Spanier show on Sporting News Radio earlier and got rather annoyed. Normally I have no problem with the guy, but in his most recent show he couldn't stop cramming down the listeners' throats that what the Lakers got back for Shaq was garbage. Repeatedly, all he could say was that they got back garbage. Garbage? A 15 and 10 guy who shoots 50% from inside the arc (30.8% behind it) as well as a 15 and 6 guy who shoots 47% from inside the arc are part of the collective garbage. Granted, Brian Grant is garbage, but there's no way that one could logically lump the first two into the same category as him. Arnie later went on to say that Kobe Bryant will score more points than anyone in the NBA in the next fifteen years... yeah.

IL addition #1
Juwan Howard's out for the year. Their new starting four is going to have to be Scott Padgett, who has a PER of 11.97, but a defensive PER at the four spot of 13.7. By comparison, Howard had numbers of 13.25 and 16.8... huh? This will actually be an improvement for the Rockets, which is kind of humourous, seeing as how I started writing this thinking that they'd have a hole at the PF.

IL addition #2
Ex-Piston Grant Hill's out for the year... not that this is a strange development for him. However, this time it's his shin rather than his ankle, so there's a bit of relief for the Magic. Maybe next year.

Sixers blow 25-point lead but hand Cats 6th straight loss
Talk about a playoff team, huh? Iverson had 48 in this game and because of it, ESPN.com decided to put up a list of the leaders for "career 40 point games" in the game's recap. Let's take a look:

Wilt Chamberlain 271
Michael Jordan 173
Elgin Baylor 88
Oscar Robertson 77
K. Abdul-Jabbar 70
Rick Barry 70
George Gervin 68
Jerry West 66
Allen Iverson 58
Bob McAdoo 58

Another record of Wilt's that will never be broken, always fun to see for me.



Baron Davis goes wild
He had a line of 11-20, 40 points and 13 dimes on the night against the Rockets. Congratulations goes out to BD on the big night, it seems when he actually has a good FG%, the team plays well. Funny that, huh? On a related note, the Warriors have won 9 of 10. Seems to me the Warriors came on strong at the end of last year as well, where they won 12 of their last 17. What good did it do them? They fired the coach! The moral of the story is, just because a team plays well when it doesn't matter, doesn't mean they'll continue the trend when it's time for the tough to get going.

Jim Paxson's going to get axed
Seeing as how they already canned the coach, there's new ownership and the team is underachieving, this one is about as obvious as who'd win a three point shootout between Antoine Walker and Fred Hoiberg.

Mavs earn fifth straight 50-win season and clinch playoff spot
Too bad they've only been past round two once in the first four, eh?

8th seed out West
Seems like there's a bit of debate that the T'Wolves can actually take over for the Grizz. Currently, Memphis (41-32) has a 2.5 game lead on KG's squad (39-35). Let's do a little "expected victory" thing with their remaining schedules.

Apr 6 @TOR .6
Apr 8 MIA .4
Apr 10 CHA 1.0 (I know there are no sure things in this league I love, but they're not going to be dropping this one)
Apr 11 @DAL .3
Apr 13 @HOU .4
Apr 15 @DEN .3
Apr 16 @SA .4
Apr 18 SA .6
Apr 20 DAL .6

Total = 4.6 = 5 wins

Ouch. Now, for Minnesota.

Apr 6 UTA 1.0 (See Charlotte at Memphis above)
Apr 8 DEN .5
Apr 9 @ATL .7
Apr 13 GS .5 (Normally this would be higher, but as mentioned above, the Warriors are on a tear)
Apr 15 @UTA .6
Apr 17 SEA .5
Apr 18 @NO .8
Apr 20 SA .6

Total = 5.2 = 5 wins

Thus, by my numbers, Memphis would finish the year at 46-36 while Minnesota would be 44-38. Close, but not close enough.

Suns on the road
Phoenix is currently 30-8 away from home. If they win their last three road games, they'll have the best road record of all time. Isn't that wild? It'll certainly be helpful in their playoff run, as San Antonio was almost 1986 Celtics-esque (they had a 40-1 home record) earlier in the year (35-3 now, but one of those was sans Duncan).

Maybe I was wrong about interpreting Bayless
Rookie J.R. Smith has been the Western Conference's top rookie all season, serving as the brightest of the team's scarce bright spots in an otherwise disastrous year.
- Tony Mejia, this week's Power Rankings

Oh, what an honour. The West has had tons of great rookies this year, like Sebastian Telfair (8.91 PER) and Shaun Livingston (8.37 PER). However, there has been a guy by the name of Andris Biedrins (15.39 PER) who is only playing 12 minutes a game, but is putting up alright numbers (3.8 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 58.9 FG% and 1.43 PPS, which slanted up are 11.4 and 6) which point to him as being the best West rookie so far this year to me. But what do I know? I just base my thoughts on all around play rather than plain scoring ability on a team desperate for people to put it in the bucket.

Suns block Lakers from playoffs
Still think Kobe will get a title again someday... but clearly, it won't be this year. The team has plenty of pieces (their starting five, Jones) but needs to do some moving to balance the roster (Devean George is the third best SF but could be a 7th man on some other team, their backup centre is unathletic, 6'9, 254 Brian Grant, etc.) before they can get anywhere. If Kupchak makes some solid moves during the offseason and does well at the draft, they'll probably be back in the playoffs next year.

Piston preview
The Wizards have dropped two straight (at home to Indy and Boston) but come on the road to take on Detroit. Jamison's been hurt for almost three weeks, but might be activated in time for the game. Brendan Haywood's still hurt, as is Jarvis Hayes. The team is pretty beat up, but they're still fighting with the Bulls for the 4th seed in the East. The Heat secured the #1 spot, but the Pistons would still do well to build momentum and fend off the teams that could possibly knock them out of the second best record spot (such as these Wizards and the Bulls). Rip, Rasheed and Ben can all claim that they're ex-Wizards/Bullets, which is often incentive to play well. So, I suspect the Pistons will be victorious here, since the Wizards are too beat up and the Pistons have won their last nine against the them.