This is What We’ve Been Waiting For…

April 18, 2008

After who knows how long, the NBA playoffs are finally here. This is what we’ve been waiting for ever since the season started. It’s what we’ve anxiously waited for since the new year and since those flurry of trades went down before the trade deadline. The last couple months seemed to drag on, but the NBA playoffs are finally here and they are better than ever. Before I get into my thoughts on the eight first round series and my NBA predictions, here are my regular season awards:

Rookie of the Year – Kevin Durant

The one lone bright spot for the Sonics this year was Kevin Durant. He chucked up a lot of shots, but still averaged over 20 points a game and his field goal percentage got better as the year went along. I would like to see his rebounding numbers go up and I would like to see him be more of a playmaker, but it’s hard not to reward him for being above average on a pathetic team.

Honorable Mention – Al Horfard, Luis Scola

Most Improved Player – Rajon Rondo

Who ever thought this guy would be this good? He’s been that floor general and defensive stopper that every Boston fan had hoped he’d be back in October. He was the perfect complement to the Big Three and his role will be more important during the playoffs because he will be asked to contain every big point guard in the league.

Honorable Mention – Hedo Turkoglu, Rudy Gay

6th Man of the Year – Manu Ginobili

This one is a no brainer and really needs no explanation. Ginobili kind of wins this award by default though. I’m pretty sure if Kobe Bryant came off the bench, he would automatically win this award too. Ginobili is easily one of the top players in the league, but he seems to be comfortable coming off the bench. He’s so valuable to his team off the bench that the Spurs can’t score without him.

No Honorable Mention

Coach of the YearDoc Rivers

What this guy did with the Celtics is unbelievable. I doubted him coming into the year because he had never proved he was a good coach at any time of his career. People give Kevin Garnett a lot of credit for turning around the culture of this team and rightfully so. But I think a lot of credit should also be given to Rivers for instilling a tough, defensive minded mentality into his team. He has gotten a bunch of scrubs to come in and provide the needed depth for the Big Three.

Honorable Mention – Byron Scott, Rick Adelman

Defensive Player of the Year – Kevin Garnett

He was simply the best defensive player on the best defensive team. Not only did he change the attitude and outlook of Basketball in the city, but he was the one that bought into Rivers’ defensive mentality and spread it to his teammates.

Honorable Mention – Chris Paul, Josh Smith

Most Valuable Player – Chris Paul

If you read my earlier post, you know I’m going with CP3 and it didn’t change the last day of the season. I don’t care if Garnett changed the culture of basketball in Boston. I don’t care if Kobe was the best player on the best team in the best conference… Paul has made an otherwise uncompetitive team into one of the best in the league. The same could be said for Lebron, but who’s team was better. Paul has made the Hornets nearly impossible to stop offensive with his ability to get to the rim and create for his teammates and let’s not forget he also gets it done on the defensive end as he led the league in steals. Where would the Hornets be in the West without Paul? This award will be a toss up and you can make an argument for anybody. I pick Paul, but I see the award going to Kobe with KG being a darkhorse and what a darkhorse he is.

Honorable Mention – Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett

Now let’s get to my predictions for the NBA playoffs that start on Saturday:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

over in FOUR – Let’s be serious, this should be done in two with a mercy rule.

over in FIVE – Philly can give Detroit a run, but I don’t see them pulling one out in Detroit. Want some incredibly insight into this series? Check out my good friends Jameson and Eva preview, recap and analyze every game of the series at CuseAdelphia

over in SEVEN – I can’t pick a Canadian team

over in SEVEN – The dumbest team in the history of sports beats the team with one of the dumbest front offices in the league

next round….

over in FIVE – What happened in the regular season doesn’t matter

over in SIX – Where has Rashard Lewis been?

Conference Finals

over in SEVEN – I don’t trust Flip

WESTERN CONFERENCE

over in FIVE – Who knows what Carmelo might be on during games

over in SIX – Dallas is hitting their stride at the right time

over in SIX – For the first time, I actually have confidence in Phoenix against SA

over in SIX – China has no interest in this series

next round….

over in SEVEN – home court plays out because Utah is horrendous on the road

over in SEVEN – Both midseason trades can’t win in this one

Conference Finals

over in SEVEN – Like Phoenix with SA, the Lakers are ready to get by their recent nemesis in the playoffs

NBA FINALS

OVER in SIX

The Lakers are too soft to beat Boston

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My NBA MVP

April 15, 2008

I think they will give it to Kobe Bryant if the Lakers win the conference tonight against Sacramento, but I truly believe that Chris Paul is the league’s MVP. Think about this… when Kobe doesn’t have Gasol or Bynum, the team is sub-.500. I think the Laker success has a lot to do with their depth, the play of Gasol late in the season and Bynum early in the season. The Hornets are really good because of Chris Paul. He can score for himself and he makes everybody else around him that much better. A lot of credit has to go to David West, but would West be this good without CP3? Paul put up better numbers than Nash did when Nash won his two MVP’s. However, if the Hornets don’t win the conference, I think Paul will get a raw deal because people feel that the award should go to the best player on the best team… if that’s the case, then it should go to Garnett, not Kobe and Paul. In the end, I think the MVP race will be a toss up, just like the Western Conference playoffs.


Diesel Re-Fueled

February 7, 2008

If you haven’t heard yet, Shaq got traded to Phoenix. It’s still hard to believe. How can a 7’1″, 400 pound man play in an offensive that thrives on running. Ok he is 7’1″, but he’s not 400 pounds. Shaq is a slim 312 pound man with 11% body fat.

shaq2.jpgThe first reaction by many people, including Phoenix fans, was what the hell is Phoenix thinking. They are giving up an all-star small forward who is perfect for their style of offense in exchange for an aging, broken down automobile. But let’s get this point straight. Phoenix was not winning with Shawn Marion. They have tried to win with this core the last three years and every year they have been bounced for their inability to play half court offense and defense. Shawn Marion was a great player to have on defense, but offensively in a half court set he was relatively ineffective. He’s not a pure shooter and can’t create his own shot on a consistent basis. He got his points off of scrappy play. Now, I’m not saying that Shaq is the answer. But how many rings does Shaq have? And how many do the Suns have? My point exactly. The Suns weren’t a championship team with Shawn Marion, so why not bring in a big body to bang with the rest of the Western conference.

Now here are some other implications I think this trade will have, some positive and some negative:

1) People have already pissed off the Diesel

If Shaq still has anything left in the tank, he will play with a vengeance. He said it in his press conference, “I’m really upset and you really don’t want to get me upset because when I’m upset I’m known to do certain things like win championships.”

2) Shawn Marion will sorely be missed

You can’t replace what Shawn Marion gave to this team night in and night out. He hustled every minute he was on the court filling the stat sheet every single night . He also marked every position on defense from the likes of Tony Parker to Yao Ming. But Marion simply did not want to be in Phoenix. He was sick of playing third string to Nash and Stoudemire. He felt under appreciated and he was. That’s why the Suns took a gamble.

3) Amare Stoudemire moves back to natural position

Amare Stoudemire is not a center. Plain the simple. He’s more of a face up player than he is a low post player. If Shaq can be that dominating inside presence, Amare care really dominate in that 10-17 foot range.

4) Better Interior Play

The one thing the Suns have missed the last few years is interior defense. They haven’t had that big body to bang around in the paint. Well the interior defense could be fixed with Shaq. Shutting down the likes of Duncan, Bynum, Camby and Tyson Chandler won’t fall on Amare Stoudemire. Stoudemire is a much better defender when he is off the ball. He has more freedom to roam around for blocks and he can look to run out on the fastbreak more.

5) A more dynamic offense

For the longest time this Suns team has been criticized because they can’t play half court offense. They rely on outscoring teams, but when it gets down to playoff time or any time they play the Spurs, they have to produce out of the half court sets. I’ve seen this team fail too many times down the stretch because they lack the ability to play consistent half court offense. Well, Shaq will allow you to beat teams in more ways than one. They can dump it down to him and if they double him, then that will open up shots to Phoenix’s great shooters. And let’s not forget that Shaq is a great passer. If they don’t double him, then we’ll see if Shaq can still dominate the low block. And if they choose, they can still run the pick and role with Nash and Stoudemire which is the best in the game.

6) Pressure on Perimeter DefenseWithout Marion, the pressure is going to fall on the perimeter defense to stop dribble penetration. Steve Nash has always been a great offensive player, but now he must play both ways. Shaq will help take pressure off of Nash on the offensive end, but now Nash must exert that energy on defense. If Barbosa and Nash can not stop dribble penetration then Shaq and Amare will get in foul trouble. They can’t afford to have those two on the bench in crucial times. Bottom line is that if the Suns can’t learn to stop dribble penetration, then they will have the same problem this year as they have had in the past.

7) Shaq won’t slow down the break, but he will ignite it

First, you don’t need five players to run the break. You need two or three. Shaq won’t be the guy running down the court, but he will be the big man on defense absorbing all the rebounds and allowing players like Nash, Stoudemire, Barbosa and Bell to run out and start the break. Shaq said that he is excited to ignite this fast break and he will.

8)Hit or miss

This is what I’m telling everybody. I love the potential of this trade. The Suns are as big of a championship contender as they were with Shawn Marion. What’s the worst that can happen to this team? They’ll lose in the first or second round? They’ve already done that with Marion. We won’t find out how good or bad this trade is until the playoffs, but it can either deliver a championship or fail miserably if Shaq misses significant time.

Aneesh


Happy New Year!

January 6, 2008

With a new year comes a new website. http://www.boxscorebanter.com will serve as our home from now on.

2008 is only a week old, but I’ve got some initial thoughts about what might transpire in the coming weeks and months….

The Titans stink. If the Chargers had played a team with a competent quarterback, a starting RB under 350 pounds and some college football level wide receivers they would have gotten destroyed. But Norv made the right adjustments and San Diego now gets to lose to Indianapolis.

Jacksonville gets to go to New England. Fun. The funny thing is that Jacksonville (located in Florida for those geniuses out there) might be a better cold weather team than New England (located in well, New England, in the northeast, a place where it snows a lot more than in Florida for the rest of the geniuses out there). We’ll see what the weather calls for but I don’t see the Patriots losing with two weeks to prepare. Brady is the best quarterback of all time, Moss would be one of the best receivers of all-time if he wasn’t one of the biggest idiots of all time (I wouldn’t be surprised if he was dumb enough to leave NE), and yes, Belichick is the best coach of all-time. I’m not even gonna comment anymore on the Patriots because I’m sick of hearing all the jealous fans sippin’ their hatorade on the Patriots. They are the best of all time, deal with it.

Shaun Suisham blew that game for Washington. It changed the whole momentum of the game and when you’re a team on the road in the toughest environment in the NFL, you can’t afford to miss those kicks in the fourth quarter. Seattle now has to go on the road. Please Matt please don’t say anything stupid if you win the coin toss.

The Giants took care of business. They actually look like they have a real shot against Dallas. But NEVER trust the Giants. NEVER. As soon as you think Eli has his head together, he’ll throw 4 interceptions. And I said this in the second meeting, and I’ll say it again; the G-men do not match up well with the Cowboys. Romo is a scrambling QB, nobody can mark Witten and not even three of their cornerbacks at the same time can keep up with TO on one ankle.

With that said, I don’t see all four teams that had a bye this week moving on to Championship Weekend. All four teams, including the Pats, have question marks. Forget running up the score because down the stretch they played close game after close game. Although, that might help them run the table…

Bowl Games stunk. I think the BCS expanding a couple games was stupid. You had some mediocre teams playing against great teams and that makes for bad television. But after watching some games this year, I think it would be best for College Football to create a four team playoff. They need to create a playoff system even if it is as small as four teams. 8 teams wouldn’t work. First of all, believe it or not they need to allot some time for these kids to study. Therefore, playing playoff games in December can’t happen. I would be pretty upset if these kids were playing football while I study for finals. Second, if they had an eight team playoff they would need three weeks. One game per week. When would those three weeks fit in? Third, what about the other bowl games? You can’t deny these smaller schools bowl games. Venues? Where would you play all of these games when the pro season is also going on? To me, a playoff system with 8 teams isn’t feasible. Six might be a push, but four should definitely be put in. I’m tired of it being in question which team is the best. This year, USC or LSU? I’ve thought LSU from the start of the season, but I want to see it played out on the field…

I watched the UNC Clemson basketball game today at Clemson. UNC will NOT win a championship. People keep telling me that the Suns won’t win a championship because they don’t play any defense. Well, UNC won’t win because they do not play any defense. Also, Clemson is going to be a threat. Right now Lunardi has them projected as a 5 seed and they are really good. They got the bigs inside, the guard play, and the defense. They will be a tough out any day on any court, but especially at Littlejohn Coliseum. Just ask the Tar Heels…

The Celtics are for real. They will win at least 60 games and they might push 70. Their role players are coming around. Tony Allen is getting healthy, Big (Overweight) Baby is gonna get better next to KG, and Rajon Rondo is exactly what they need out of a point guard. He’s not a score first point guard that plays great defense. They will win the Eastern Conference and should be able to push a team in the West to 6 games…

Those are my initial thoughts. Starting on January 14th, the blog will be updated daily so look out for that. From the Banter Crew, hope everyone had a great holidays and a happy new year! The 2008 Banter will be better than ever. As JJ would say, be good everybody

Aneesh