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Tag:Jazz
Posted on: January 21, 2009 11:12 am
 

2009 Free Agent Class - Overlooked and Forgotten?

I know we are all focused on 2010 when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh become free agents and the rumours that are swirling around with that, but what about next years class? looking over the list i see a lot of pieces that many teams would love to have, so, the question is do you think this season's batch of free agents will be pretty much ignored or will there be a flurry of trades and deals to secure some of these guys before 2010 which, in my opinion, is really a three team race right now.

Here is the list

Hawks -Josh Childress, Solomon Jones, Marvin Williams
Mike Bibby, Zaza Pachulia
 

 

 

Celtics - Glen Davis, Leon Powe
Eddie House (P)
 

 

Bobcats - Shannon Brown, Jermareo Davidson, Raymond Felton, Ryan Hollins, Sean May

 

 

Aaron Gray,Drew Gooden
 

 

 

Cavaliers - Lance Allred, Tarence Kinsey
Zydrunas Ilgauskas (ETO), Damon Jones, Joe Smith, Eric Snow, Wally Szczerbiak, Billy Thomas, Anderson Varejao (P)
 


Mavericks - Brandon Bass, Gerald Green, Eddie Jones, Jason Kidd, Keith McLeod, James Singleton
 

 

 

Nuggets -Linas Kleiza
Chris Andersen, Anthony Carter, Steven Hunter (ETO), Allen Iverson, Dahntay Jones
 

 

Pistons - Will Bynum (T), Jason Maxiell, Check Samb
Kwame Brown (P), Richard Hamilton (ETO), Rasheed Wallace
 

 

 

Warriors - C.J. Watson
Al Harrington (P)
 

 

Rockets - Mike Harris, Luther Head
Ron Artest, Ron Francis
 

 

 

Pacers - Danny Granger, Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts
Maceo Baston, Marquis Daniels (T), Travis Diener (P), Jeff Foster, Stephen Graham, Rasho Nesterovic
 

 

Clippers - Ricky Davis (P), Steve Novak, Brian Skinner
Jason Hart
 

 

 

Lakers - Coby Karl
Trevor Ariza, Kobe Bryant (ETO), Chris Mihm, Lamar Odom
 

 

Grizzlies - Juan Carlos Navarro, Hakim Warrick
Antoine Walker (ETO)
 

 

 

Heat - Stephane Lasme, Joel Anthony
Mark Blount (ETO), Shawn Marion
 

 

Bucks - Ramon Sessions, Charlie Villanueva
Malik Allen (P), Tyronn Lue, Desmond Mason
 

 

 

Timberwolves - Rashad McCants
Calvin Booth, Jason Collins
 

 

Nets - Nenad Krstic
Trenton Hassell (ETO), Jarvis Hayes (T), Stromile Swift
 

 

 

Hornets - Melvin Ely, Mike James (P)
 

 

 

Knicks - David Lee, Nate Robinson
Jamal Crawford (ETO), Eddy Curry (ETO), Jerome James (P), Stephon Marbury, Quentin Richardson (ETO), Malik Rose
 

 

Thunder - Johan Petro
Adrian Griffin, Chris Wilcox, Damien Wilkins (ETO), Donyell Marshall
 

 

 

Maqic - Marcin Gortat
Keith Bogans, Brian Cook (P), Adonal Foyle, Anthony Johnson (P), Hedo Turkoglu (ETO)
 

 

76ers - Royal Ivey (P), Andre Miller, Kareem Rush
 

 

 

Suns - D.J. Strawberry
Matt Barnes, Grant Hill

 

 

Trail Blazers - Ike Diogu, Channing Frye, Martell Webster
Raef LaFrentz

 

 

Kings - Bobby Brown (P), Francisco Garcia
Shareef Abdur-Rahim (ETO), Bobby Jackson
 

 

 

Spurs - Ime Udoko, Jacque Vaughn

 

 

Raptors - Carlos Delfino, Joey Graham, Jamario Moon, Will Solomon
Jermaine O'Neal (P), Anthony Parker

 

 

Jazz - Paul Millsap, Kyrylo Fesenko (T)
Carlos Boozer (P), Jarron Collins, Brevin Knight, Kyle Korver (ETO), Mehmet Okur (ETO), Ronnie Price

 

 

Wizards - Etan Thomas (ETO)

Posted on: December 17, 2008 11:00 am
 

Raptors - Mavericks - A Game Preview

Tonight, the Raptors host the surging Dallas Mavericks who have won 7 of their last 10 games with wins over the Grizzlies, the Bobcats, the Suns, the Hawks and the Pacers. They are 3 games above .500% right now and are .5 of a game out of 8th in the tough Western Conference. Having lost to the Nuggets in Dallas on Monday, they come into Toronto to start a short 2 game eastern swing, with the Nets hosting them on Friday, home to the Grizzlies again on Sunday, then they head out on a tough pre-Christmas tour of the West with games against the Trail Blazers, the Jazz and Clippers. They are looking to Toronto to be the start of a push back up the ladder in the West.

The Raptors are coming into the game with the memory of two stinging losses fresh in their minds losing to the Hornets on Sunday and the Nets on Monday. Both of those games the Raptors seemed to play aspects of the game well but could not play well in others and it cost them. Sunday, they were able to use their new defensive schemes to contain Chris Paul and hold him to 12 points and Peja Stojakovic was held to 10 points, but James Posey was left virtually alone all the time and scored 20 on 6/10 3 point shots and David West outplayed Chris Bosh scoring 29 points from the low post area. The Nets game was very much the same thing as they were forced to shoot and shot only 38.1% as a team, but when Ryan Anderson outscores Chris Bosh in the PF position, something is not right. Offensive rebounds allowed have become the team’s demise. The lack of rebounding coupled with a 0 – 14 shooting stretch in the 4th quarter allowed this game to get out of reach.

Tonight, the Raptors will be looking to Jermaine O’Neal and Andrea Bargnani to provide some solid work in the post as the Mavericks have been running a 3 guard offense and Eric Dampier averages only 6 points and 8 rebounds a game. Dirk Nowitzki leads this team with 26 points per game and with Jason Kidd on the floor, the duo looks to make sharp passes and find cutters and hit open shooters off dribble penetration which has been the weakest aspect of the Raptors defense all season. With Devean George and Jose Juan Barea on the floor, this Mavericks team looks to feed Nowitzki who is always happy to shoot.

Chris Bosh needs a break out game and tonight would be a good time to find it. With Jamario Moon or Joey Graham at the 3 spot, Chris should have the room he needs and if we can keep Dirk out of the paint, I like our chances. Jose Calderon and Anthony Parker as well as Roko Ukic should all have good nights as a group, but will need to continue to improve closing out on shooters on the perimeter. I think that this game will go a long way to revealing the character of this team and I hope the guys are up to it.

 

Posted on: December 7, 2008 8:58 pm
 

Raptors - Week 6 in Review - Transition Week.

This past week in the Raptors schedule saw the end of an era, the beginning of a new one, and 4 games this team will need to quickly forget to begin to build some sort of success with the rest of this season. Here is the week in review as I saw it!

After wins against the Bobcats and the Hawks, the Raptors embarked on a road trip which had stops against the Lakers, the Nuggets and the Jazz who are all at or near the top of the western conference and at or near the top of their game. Though they were coming off two wins, the Raptors had begun to develop nasty habits on both offense and defense that teams had begun to exploit. Defensively, the team was struggling to maintain leads and maintain any sort of consistent effort in the area of perimeter defense. Heading into games that feature some of the premier perimeter players in the league right now, the Raptors needed to find someone to step up and take that role to heart or find a way to play better team defense. With Jermaine O’Neal still nursing his sore ankle, prospects heading west were ominous at best. With the inconsistent play, it was clear that Sam Mitchell’s job was hanging by a very thin wire and he was on a very short leash at this point.

Heading into Los Angeles the Raptors started the tough 3 game trek against the Lakers looking to see if they could elevate their game to a new level. The first quarter was exciting and with a shoot out looming, the quarter ended 34 – 29 for the Lakers. After that point, the Lakers pulled away and over powered the short handed Raptors leading 61 – 51 at the half. The Raptors showed a lot of heart outscoring the Lakers 30 – 29 in the third, but the Raptors were never really able to mount any kind of sustained scoring as the Lakers would create a turnover or grab a rebound and run the floor scoring lay up after layup on the slower Raptors. The Lakers score 18 fast break points to the Raptors 7 and with Kobe on the bench for the 4th quarter they pulled ahead for good with their bench out playing the Raptors all over the floor.

Lakers game stats

Kobe Bryant - 23 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists
Pau Gasol - 24 points, 8 rebounds
Andrew Bynum - 18 points, 10 rebounds
Trevor Ariza - 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
Lamar Odom - 3 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals

47/92 - 51.1%
15 offensive boards - 54 total
34 assists
10 steals

Team Rebounds - 10
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 13
Fastbreak Points - 18
Points In The Paint - 58
Second Chance Points – 30

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnovers
Andrea Bargnani - 14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks
Jose Calderon - 12 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assists
Anthony Parker - 19 points, 2 assists
Jamario Moon - 11 points, 3 assists, 3 steals
Jason Kapono - 11 points
Joey Graham - 7 points, 4 rebounds - 3 offensive
Roko Ukic - 7 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal
Kris Humphries - 3 rebounds, 3 steals

34/88 - 38.6% - 11/25 - 44% 3 points
36 rebounds - 11 offensive
23 assists
13 turnovers
11 steals
6 blocks

Team Rebounds - 7
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 17
Fastbreak Points - 7
Points In The Paint - 32
Second Chance Points – 10

As we can see, this game was lost on the glass with the Raptors ending up -18 for the night but a more telling -4 on the offensive glass. We were -11 in assists, and -26 on points in the paint. The Lakers ran the ball at will and scored on open shot after open shot in transition. This game was a good effort, but it was very obvious to most observers that this Raptors team had no clue defensively both in transition and on the perimeter. It was too much to ask our thin front line to compete with the solid and deep Lakers squad who seemed to play as hard as they needed to until they got up a few in the 3rd, then let the very talented bench take over and finish this game.

Next up for the Raptors, the Nuggets were waiting. With Jermaine O’Neal set to return, this game offered a hope that the Raptors would have some strength inside again. Though he provided 12 points, it was no where near enough to slow down the Nuggets and this game was over very early and was the last game in the Sam Mitchell era for the Raptors organization. Here are the game stats.

Nuggets game stats

Carmelo Anthony - 23 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks
Chauncey Billups - 24 points, 14 assists
Nene - 19 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks
Kenyon Martin - 11 points, 4 rebounds
Linas Kleiza - 12 points, 4 rebounds
J.R. Smith - 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
Dahntay Jones - 5 assists, 9 points

49/82 - 59.8% including 13/24 or 54.2% from 3 point range
46 rebounds - 5 offensive
37 assists


Team Rebounds - 11
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 16
Fastbreak Points - 27
Points In The Paint - 50
Second Chance Points – 10

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 24 points, 12 rebounds - 5 offensive, 5 assists
Jose Calderon - 9 points, 7 assists
Jermaine O'Neal - 12 points, 3 rebounds
Roko Ukic - 13 points
Andrea Bargnani - 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals
Joey Graham - 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers
Kris Humphries - 4 points, 8 rebounds - 3 offensive
Jason Kapono - 0 points

34/93 - 36.6% including 5/17 - 29.4% 3 point shots
39 rebounds - 12 offensive
21 Assists
10 turnovers
6 steals
4 blocks

Team Rebounds - 7
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 8
Fastbreak Points - 17
Points In The Paint - 28
Second Chance Points – 9

The Raptors were outplayed all over the floor and the lack of both creativity and any defensive pressure at all cost Sam his job, signaling the beginning of the Jay Triano era. We did see a vast improvement in the play of Roko, but again, this Raptors team was out rebounded by 7, but on a night when the Nuggets shot almost 60%, they had no real need to rebound to control the game. This game was ugly early and most turned it off by half-time, I watched Amadeus!

Friday took us to Utah to take on the Jazz who were as vulnerable as they have been all season long. With Carlos Boozer out and Andrei Kirilenko recouping from an ankle injury, the Raptors had an opportunity to control the game inside. That never happened. Mehmet Okur showed why he is considered one of the best shooting Center in the game today. He scored from inside and from outside, short jumpers, fade away, off the dribble and off the break. Jermaine O’Neal had no ability to stop him as he had no help any where. When Bosh was on him, he had shots from 7 to 10 feet and very little pressure from the weakside. I guess defensive bad habits and bad attitudes take more than 1 or 2 practices to correct. Most of the time teams that have a coaching change seem to take to the floor with a bit more energy and a bit more focus in response to the firing. This was not the case for the Raptors. They looked listless and helpless all night long. Not the type of response Bryan Colangelo was looking for and I am sure Jay expected more from his guys, but I guess we can excuse them for not wanting to compete, but the effort they played with was awful. Here are the game stats.

Jazz game stats

Paul Millsap - 17 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks
Mehmet Okur - 21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks
Deron Williams - 14 points, 5 assists, 2 steals
Ronnie Brewer - 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals
Andrei Kirilenko - 7 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Matt Harpring - 14 points, 7 rebounds including 4 offensive
Kostas Koufos - 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal

49/95 - 51.6%
13 offensive rebounds 52 overall
31 assists
12 steals
8 blocks

Team Rebounds - 6
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 25
Fastbreak Points - 9
Points In The Paint - 66
Second Chance Points – 15

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 18 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 4 turnovers
Jose Calderon - 10 points, 8 assists, 2 steals
Joey Graham - 13 points, 5 rebounds
Jermaine O'Neal - 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks
Andrea Bargnani -7 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks
Roko Ukic - 7 points, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Jason Kapono - 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Jamario Moon - 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Will Solomon - 7 points
Anthony Parker - 8 points, 4 assists, 1 steal

36/82 - 43.9% - 4/17 for 23.5% from 3 pt range
38 rebounds - 3 offensive
23 assists
23 turnovers
8 steals
10 blocks

Team Rebounds - 3
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 15
Fastbreak Points - 16
Points In The Paint - 44
Second Chance Points – 2

Allowing 66 points in the paint is inexcusable at an NBA level. The Raptors were beaten by a very good team, and they looked unable to run simple plays out of an offensive set. The coaching staff has a lot of work to do.

Sunday, the Raptors hosted the young Trail Blazers featuring 2 players that Bryan Colangelo MIGHT have drafted rather than Andrea Bargnani. With both the 2nd overall pick after Andrea, LeMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy drafted 6th in the lineup, one can only wonder what might have been. Here we have yet another game that the Raptors opened up a 16 point lead only to see it disappear as yet another team exploits this teams inability to guard on the perimeter. Steve Blake looked like Steve Kerr out there and the Raptors had no way to hold on to the lead. This game will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many Raptors fans as we seem to be seeing the beginning of a Chris Bosh meltdown underway. During a very tight third quarter that saw the Raptors recover from a 10 point deficit to take a lead, we saw Chris Bosh decide that he was the best option from outside the arc with Jason Kapono open to his left. Jay Triano seemed to bench him after that selfish play and he was on the bench for the first 8 minutes of the 4th while Joey Graham and Jason Kapono and Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon and Jermaine O’Neal were able to build a 5 point lead with 3 minutes left. Chris Bosh came in and although he did manage a block late, he scored only 4 points in the second half, was blocked twice and turned the ball over and took fade away shots over a much smaller defender too many times to consider it coincidence. I have never seen him play for himself so much and on the final inbound pass, he tried to dribble from outside the arc with a wide open Jason Kapono and Jose Calderon in his line of sight, he threw up a horrible shot over LaMarcus, looking for a foul I guess. I have not often seen him play so poorly when the team needed him to compete. I hope that they can work things out as he is too valuable to this team to watch him play this way. I hope this is not an indication of any more unrest within the walls of this locker room. Here are the game stats

Trail Blazers game stats

Brandon Roy - 15 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists
LeMarcus Aldridge - 20 points, 8 rebounds including 6 offensive, 2 blocks
Steve Blake - 19 points including 5/8 3 point baskets, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
Greg Oden - 10 points, 10 rebounds - 5 Offensive, 2 blocks
Rudy Fernandez - 16 points, 8 rebounds - 3 Offensive

36/82 - 43.9% including 12/24 - 50% 3 point shots
48 rebounds including 18 offensive
19 assists
3 steals
5 blocks

Team Rebounds - 6
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 12
Fastbreak Points - 2
Points In The Paint - 24
Second Chance Points – 20

Raptors game stats

Jermaine O'Neal - 24 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 6 blocks
Chris Bosh - 19 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block
Jose Calderon - 15 points, 13 assists
Jason Kapono - 10 points, 2 rebounds
Joey Graham - 10 points, 2 rebounds
Anthony Parker - 8 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals
Andrea Bargnani - 5 points, 4 rebounds

38/77 - 49.4% including 8/17 - 47.1% from 3 point range
31 rebounds - 4 offensive
26 assists
8 turnovers
7 steals
8 blocks

Team Rebounds - 3
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 15
Fastbreak Points - 8
Points In The Paint - 34
Second Chance Points – 10

I think there were a few things that I really liked from this game and a few things that concern me greatly. Once again, the Raptors were -17 on the glass with only 4 offensive boards while giving up 18 offensive boards to a very active Trail Blazers team. Offensive boards reflect the heart of a team and the Raptors played this game with no desire to attack the offensive glass. That one fact alone keeps them in a very small window to grow as a team offensively as they could have sealed this game late with a couple of tough rebounds and a couple of loose ball plays that the Blazers seemed to be the only team wanting the ball most of the game. We gave up 12/24 or 50% from 3 point range to a team that is known as a good shooting team. Steve Blake, like Vince Carter, killed us with a huge 3 point shot on a very similar play that the Nets ran on us, maybe the Raptors are the only team that doesn’t dissect game film to figure opponents tendencies out before the game is played. Jay did a great job with the rotation after the team had lost the lead. They continued to work the ball around and a balanced offense was the result with 5 guys in double digits scoring. Watching the last 3 minutes and the meltdown of Chris Bosh as he was very much in the way the second half, was difficult after watching them battle hard to put themselves in a place to be one rebound away from beating this very good team. We did only have 8 turnovers which was great but our lack of perimeter defense killed us again.

As I started this by saying, it was a very difficult week for the Raptors and we played 4 very good teams and perhaps the western conference champion and we struggled in every aspect of the game. Some interesting facts I found this past week by the numbers.

1) 49.5 – average number of points in the paint given up in the past 4 games. This means that over the past week we have given up a lot of very easy baskets. With the Raptors averaging only 34.5 points in the paint a game, that is a huge disparity and one of many reasons why we struggle so much from game to game.
2) 181/351 - 51.5% - the combined opposition field goal percentage. You can’t let teams light you up every night. Not only are the Raptors getting beat inside, our lack of solid perimeter defense is reflected in the high shooting percentage. For a team like the Raptors that struggles on offense, we can’t continue to let teams score 1 out of every 2 shots they take.
3) 50 rebounds given up per game with 12.75 Offensive boards per game allowed. We can not expect to succeed on any kind of consistent basis giving up those kinds of numbers on the glass. Rebounding reflects the heart of a team defensively, from the numbers shown here, we have a long way to go.


Though it was a tough week, I think that the move to Jay was a step in the right direction and the game Sunday showed that the team does have the talent to compete should they chose to, but I am afraid the tendency towards mediocrity this team has displayed so far this season has become systemic in nature and will be very tough to overcome from the top to the bottom of this roster.

This week we also saw a much improved Joey Graham begin to reveal some character and some heart. I think he is ready to start as what we have had just isn’t good enough and we have some very tough games coming quickly. Roko Ukic has begun to show us the skill he has and as a young guard, has provided some much needed rest for Jose. Anthony Parker and Jason Kapono had some good minutes scoring this week as did Jamario Moon. Here’s hoping that those guys continue their improvement on both sides of the floor. Andrea Bargnani is becoming a force defensively but has paid the price offensively. It is a very difficult thing to balance, but this team needs him to score as well as provide tough defense, but the improved defense will provide him opportunities to score in transition more as the tempo of this team improves offensively and in transition.

If you made it through this, thanks and I hope you enjoyed the read.

Posted on: December 6, 2008 10:50 am
 

Raptors - Jazz - Review of a team in Turmoil

Turn out the lights, the parties over! Jay Triano started his coaching era with the Raptors Friday night with a game against the Jazz. To say it wasn’t a good start is an understatement. The Raptors came into the game after losing to the Lakers and the Nuggets and then losing Sam Mitchell as coach on Wednesday. After a short practice day Friday, the Raptors had to quickly regroup and play the Jazz without Carlos Boozer. Usually when a coach is replaced, the team responds with some passion or emotion or some sort of spark for the new coach for whatever reason, but usually the players will respond and step up their play for at least 1 game. As has become the norm with this group of Raptors, there was no passion to be found anywhere.

On a night when we found out what a big baby Glenn Davis really is after Kevin Garnett called him out for playing lousy defense while his Celtics were UP 25, we watched a team fall deeper into a pit of mediocrity. After an opening play dunk by Andrea Bargnani, the guys looked good moving the ball up the floor looking for the break a few times, but after getting a 10 – 5 lead, the Jazz ended the quarter on a 28 – 13 run. Deron Williams scored 10 in the quarter running past Jose Calderon at will. Mehmet Okur used every trick in his vast array of tools to school both Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh from the inside out ending the game with 21 points in only 29 minutes of playing time. The Jazz early attacked the basket and found absolutely no defense being offered up by our inside guys at all. Anthony Parker and Joey Graham offered a little bit of resistance, but it was no where near enough to stop any of the Jazz players. Paul Millsap ended the night with 17, D-Will ended with 14, Andrei Kirilenko had 7 off the bench, Matt Harpring dropped 14 and added 7 boards, Kosta Koufos had 10 as the Jazz offered their consistently balanced attack to which the Raptors could offer NO defense at all.

To a man, the Raptors looked emotionally drained and showed no emotion as the Jazz just kept taking shots in the key all night long. Whether it was a layup, or 7 footer, the Raptors just stood there helpless. What I saw last night has little to do with coaching. First, the few highlights for the Raptors. Joey Graham continues to show he deserves more time on the floor with a solid game and 13 points and 5 rebounds. He picked up 4 fouls, but at least he was engaged defensively and showed some intensity. If he continues his improvement and can cut down the fouls, he should keep the pressure on to put him on the starting lineup soon. Roko Ukic seems to grow with each passing minute on the floor. He looked more composed and very comfortable on the court and his 7 points point to his improvement as he scored most on layups or breaks. His bringing an up tempo style to this team will be critical as we look to over haul the team from the top to the bottom. Will Solomon added 7 and seems to have begun to control the ball with only 1 turnover. I am not saying he is ready to play heavy minutes yet, but I think he knows what it is he needs to do to play at the NBA level.

As for the starters, well that is another story. Chris Bosh has probably heard the last of his MVP calls this season as he has developed a nasty habit of not playing defense at all. He is considered the leader of this team and if that is the case, he needs to leave it on the court every minute he is on the floor. He is NOT a 3 point shooter. His game is taking the ball to the hole and creating mismatches and causing defenses to over rotate on him and kick the ball out. He has lost confidence in his team mates like Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono who look lost at both ends of the floor and have given up playing on the defensive end all together. Jamario was a shot blocker when he entered the league and with his talent and overall athleticism, he should be a much more able defender, but he has stopped attacking the hoop and has begun to stand around the 3 point line hoping the ball comes to him. The problem is, teams leave him alone because they know he offers no real threat anywhere on the floor in a set offense. He looked much better when the tempo was pushed and as that becomes more a part of our offense, I hope to see him return to form as he can be a real asset to this squad running the floor. Andrea Bargnani continued his solid play on defense and was truly the only real bright spot defensively with 4 blocks and 6 rebounds on a night when we got destroyed on the glass, again. We know he won’t have many 3 – 12 shooting nights so right now, I feel he is our most consistent player at both ends over all. Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon have decided that defense is no longer an aspect of the game they have any desire to contribute to and Jermaine O’Neal has become a sideshow on this team offering little on offense and not much on defense. IF he is hurt to that extent, then keep him off the floor and let the other guys figure out what to do without him. The problem is, he was brought here to provide that solution and he has not been able to perform at a level required to do so the past 3 weeks. The Raptors have struggled greatly since that Nets game and that horrible foul he suffered the injury on. Anthony Parker seems unable to defend anyone at this point and grabbed no rebounds and only 8 points against the Jazz. An over all terrible effort by him at both ends of the floor last night that can’t continue from here going forward.

So, what do we do now? Jay Triano and Bryan Colangelo have a huge amount of work to do with this team. It won’t be easy to fix without a major over haul and perhaps some player movements that won’t be popular. Right now, all of our resources were moved when we gave up Rasho Nasterovic and T.J. Ford to the Pacers for Jermaine. It is becoming clear that the plan has not and will not provide the solutions it was designed to bring. That leaves us very little resources to make any real trades with that don’t include what most would consider our “untouchables”. I will discuss this issue in my week in review to come later.


Posted on: December 4, 2008 9:10 pm
 

Raptors - Jazz - A game Preview

Welcome to the Jay Triano era of the Toronto Raptors. I won’t dwell too much on what was a sad end to the tenure of Sam Mitchell as we all have opinions and I hope we can all just wish the man success as he moves on to new things.

Well, the Raptors travel to Utah Friday night to take on the Jazz who are 8 – 3 at home so far this year having dropped a game to the Heat as Dwyane Wade scored 23 and the Jazz were again without Carlos Boozer who is out and has been for 8 straight games. Also injured are Andrei Kirilenko and Brevan Knight. While Boozer has been out, the Jazz are 4 – 4 and with Deron Williams back in the lineup, this team can still strike fear in the hearts of many teams that have back court issues. So the Jazz will bring Mehmet Okur, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Miles and the emerging Paul Millsap to the floor. Injuries to the front court leaves this team vulnerable inside and I anticipate they are aware of the front court that the Raptors can field

The Raptors under Jay Triano will still be lead by Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon with Andrea Bargnani and Anthony Parker as well as Jermaine O’Neal. Should Jay decide to start Jamario Moon to open the floor and add some much needed tempo to the offense, we could see a different game plan entirely as Jay begins to implement new facets to a struggling offense. Should the Raptors choose to attack the inside, the Jazz are weak up front with injuries to key front line players.

So here is what I see Friday night

Jazz Starting lineup:

C – Mehmet Okur
PF – Paul Millsap
SF – C.J. Miles
SG – Ronnie Brewer
SF – Deron Williams

Raptors Starting Lineup:

C – Jermaine O’Neal
PF – Chris Bosh
SF – Andrea Bargnani
SG – Anthony Parker
PG – Jose Calderon

I think the difference in this game could be bench depth believe it or not. With the Jazz thin at the PF and SF positions, the Raptors should be able to rotate Joey Graham and Kris Humphries in and out and keep the guys fresh and on top of their game. I would love to see Chris Bosh take around 20 free throws as he returns to attack mode on the offensive end with Jermaine there to take care of Mehmet, I can’t see C.J. Miles or Paul Millsap stopping Bosh, O’Neal and Bargnani on a consistent basis. Rotation will be key as they guys need to keep fresh to take advantage of the thin front line. Rebounding will be critical as the Raptors need to establish their positions inside and maintain the advantage of the glass at both ends. Should the Raptors end up + 10 on the glass, they will have a great shot at stealing this road victory. On defense, we will need to be much better on off-ball awareness and work hard to challenge every shot the Jazz take. I would love to see Jay win his second NBA game and his first as the official head coach of the Raptors. I can’t wait for game time.

Posted on: December 1, 2008 1:29 pm
 

Raptors - Week 6 Preview

This week sees the Raptors continue their western trek after a loss to the Lakers in L.A. Sunday night. From there, they head to Denver to take on the rejuvenated Chauncey Billups lead Nuggets. With Carmelo Anthony injured and questionable for the game, the Nuggets come into the game riding a 2 game winning streak with 4 wins in the last 5 games with a loss to the Hornets last week and victories over the Bulls, the Rockets, the Clippers and the Timberwolves. At 12 – 6, they trail only the Lakers in the west and are 5th over all in victories this season in the league with the Trail Blazers. Since trading Allen Iverson to the Pistons for Chauncey Billups, the Nuggets are 8 – 3 having lost only to the Lakers, the Hornets and the Cavaliers in that period.

Without Carmelo Anthony, this Nuggets team will start the following lineup:

C- Nene
PF – Kenyon Martin
SF – Linus Kleiza
SG – Dahntay Jones
PG – Chauncey Billups

While the Raptors will continue with the same lineup until Jermaine O’Neal returns, which we do not know at this time.

C – Andrea Bargnani
PF – Chris Bosh
SF – Jamario Moon
SG – Anthony Parker
PG – Jose Calderon

With some of the defensive strides the Raptors have made this past week, I see this game as very winnable at this point. I like the matchups in the front court and feel we have the rotation to attack at all three positions all night. With Anthony Parker not having a top 10 player to guard all night, I look to him to build on his 19 point game against Kobe Bryant and perhaps be the difference in the game at both ends of the floor as he should be able to help in rotation much easier not having a 30 point threat as a check all night. Up front, I look for Andrea to keep Nene busy all night both inside and out. He is a very good defender both on the block and quite able to guard Andrea outside as well. Another double double from Andrea would go a long way to make Chris Bosh have the room he didn’t have against Andrew Bynum. I am not sure that Kenyon Martin can keep up with Chris and I look for Chris to attack the hoop and make K-Mart stop him. I can see CB4 going to the line 15 times or more.

Chauncey Billups will be the biggest problem for us as Jose Calderon will have a lot of trouble with the bigger guard as he seems to always do. With Chauncey playing at a very high level right now, I see this as our biggest problem to deal with. It will require all of the defensive improvements we have seen the Raptors make to keep this team out of transition and make them work the half court game as much as possible. I look forward to a very good game by both teams but I think that we match up well against this Nuggets lineup and have a solid shot at picking up a victory, but it will require some solid rebounding and transition defense for that to happen.

From here we travel to meet the Utah Jazz who come into the week 11 – 7 over all after going 2 – 2 last week defeating the Kings and the Grizzlies but losing to the Bulls and the Nets as Devin Harris went off for 34 points. They will play games against the Kings and the Heat back to back Tuesday and Wednesday before hosting the Raptors on Friday. With Carlos Boozer missing the last 6 games, the Jazz have struggled to a 3 – 3 record having lost to the Bulls, the Spurs and the Nets over that period. Having Deron Williams back has been a huge lift for them at a time when they needed a boost.

After this game, the Raptors are home to the Trail Blazers who are sitting at 12 – 6 having beaten the Pistons on Sunday night. They bring a 4 game win streak into this week and are tied for second over all in the west as of Monday’s writing. This game will be a huge test for the Raptors as they return home from a road trip against the other 3 top 4 teams in the west! The Trail Blazers have games against the Knicks, the Wizards and the Celtics before the visit Toronto as the fifth game of a five game swing through the eastern conference. With Brandon Roy averaging 21 points and LeMarcus Aldridge averaging 16, this team is young and very much on the rise in the west. Let’s hope by Sunday, they will have been worn out by the Celtics and Jermaine O’Neal has returned healthy.

So this week we play teams with a combined 35 – 19 record. 49 – 20 if you add the Lakers. Let’s just say that if we can keep getting better as the team looks like it has, then this road trip will have helped us achieve that goal. Can we win them all? Of course, most games are not won or lost on the floor, but before the game in the locker room. These games will test the heart of the Raptors and Sam Mitchell. Let’s hope we see the team continue to challenge and grow as a team.

Posted on: May 14, 2008 3:10 pm
 

Kobe Bryant and his Lifetime Achievement MVP

here is a collection of posts discussing Kobe Bryant winning the MVP this season. I will say that he should have had at least one by now, but this was the wrong year to give it to him unless you are making it a compilation of the past 3 seasons with the slugs he had around him calling themselves Lakers. this might seem a bit random, but i am responding to other posts which i will try to separate when i can.

Please enjoy. Comments and hate always welcome and i will read it all.

here are some posts i have made in the past few days..

here is the first post and the original article

http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/
8111712/How-Kobe-fina
lly-earned-his-first-MVP

i agree that Chris Paul probably was the more deserving winner this year over Kobe Bryant... but here is how i see the final weeks in the voters heads... humour me abit :-)

"ok, Kobe finally has a team and looks like he wants to play with Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom and Jordan Farmar.. but this Chris Paul kid with the Hornets.. wow, he has taken a team that struggled for years to the top of the Western conference... young guys like David West, Tyson Chandler, vets like Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson sure have helped make him a worthy candidate... let's see.... o dear, it seems Kobe has NEVER won an MVP, we can't give one to this kid until Kobe gets one... maybe then he and his army of loving adoring homer fans will shut up and stop emailing us about how good he is..."

vote Kobe Bryant for MVP.... not saying he didn't deserve one this year or by now... but i am pretty sure he got more than a few votes that way... next year, it will be LeBron James who will win as he has to get one before anyone else new gets one... maybe the Cavaliers fans will stop whining about how great he is by then.. yes he is good... Bill Russell is was and always will be great. When LBJ can show us 11 rings, he can tell us how great he is.

then the guy responded

Kobe and Paul were clearly the clear-cut MVP candidates this season - both were equally deserving based on their cumulative merits based on this season's performances.  In the end, the balance of the scale finally tipped in Kobe's favor based on one key reality - the Lakers finished the regular season atop the hotly contested Western Conference.

 

so based on this statement, the MVP SHOULD have been Kevin Garnett since he was the Best player on the team with the BEST record, or is it only based on the best record in the west..?? it seems the playoffs have revealed to you western conference fans that the east is not as full of walkover teams as the west as the Nuggetts barely made the Lakers break a sweat yet were touted as a championship caliber team stuck in the tough west.. same for the Warriors.. the 76ers and the Hawks both put up a great first round battle to teams that had better records than both the Lakers and the Hornets in the Pistons and the Celtics.

Now, finally, in this season, it all crystalized for Kobe - he was finally able to become the team leader that the Lakers always needed him to be - the final result speaks for itself.  Trust in his teammates and ultimately being surrounded by the correct pieces to allow that trust to flourish into confidence and a winning team attitude was the difference in the Kobe of this season from season's past.  Paul was all that to the Hornets as well, but the bottom line is that Kobe was the best player on the best team in the toughest conference this season

i for one am tired of people saying the MVP went to the best player on the best team... if that was the only criteria, the voting would not be done after the regular season. As for the teams themselves.. the Hornets improved by 17 wins, while the Lakers only improved by 15 so that arguement favours Chris Paul not Kobe. and finishing 1 game atop of the pack when there are only 3 games separating the top 5 teams does not mean they are the best team in the division... that is what the playoffs are going to determine... what i have heard over and over again is how this is a team award... that is bs or it wouldn't be called the Most Valuable PLAYER award... i fear that the award has digressed from the days when it was given to the player who was consistently shown that his team is not as good without him in the lineup.. the Lakers can't say that this year.. but the Cavaliers can... LeBron James will win a few as will Chris Paul... Kobe deserved one, but i think he should have won 2 years ago when Steve Nash won his second... that year, he carried a bunch of slugs... this year, he can score or not and the team can win.

then he made the "best player on the best team" comment

i think that simply saying the MVP award goes to the most statiscally impressive player does the award a dis-service - also, then Kobe would have won a couple more as his numbers were more impressive than Steve Nash's except in assists per game both the years he won his MVP and he was statistically better than shaq the year he won. Kevin Garnett won his MVP for taking a bunch of slugs to the Championship round... not because he was the best player in the league or the top statistically in every catagory. this year KG's personal stats suffered as he melded into a system that rewards tough defense and unselfish team play, thus they won the most games of any in the league. i could make a case that Chris Paul means way more to this young Hornets team than Kobe Bryant does to a talented though hurting Lakers team. there have been periods when Pau Gasol has looked absolutely unbeatable and periods when Lamar Odom has been a beast.. Andrew Bynum was on his way to a career year and a possible MVP candidate before his knee said stop and he didn't.. LeBron James is one of the most impressive athletes in any sport. there is no question he IS the MVP of his team as he is about 75% of his teams offense and about the same defensively as well.

so why did Dirk Nowitzki win MVP last year? was he the best player on the best team? well his team did have 67 wins so he was the best player on the team so just give him the award? then Kevin should have got it this year.. the award has to be more than that since Nash did not have the best team in the west the years he won...

true, the last game of the season the Lakers and Hornets played, Kobe took the kid to school... but i offer that made little difference. the award was Kobe's to lose this year as a makeup for the 2 or 3 that got away...  is he the best player in the league? won't go there.. too many people love their team too much to debate that. is he the best player on his team? yes. is he the most valuable? yes, but it is very close as the team seems to be very well balanced and we won't know how beast like Bynum could have been... imagine him down low with Pau!!! wow

and one more for now

I'm really tired of hearing people say that Chris Paul took a WNBA team and turned them into a legit contender for the NBA championship. WIth or without CP3 the Hornets are a good team. Besides CP3 they have 2 allstars and a great defensive center. 

 i agree.. this team was a decent team last year.. 39 wins is decent, but the 17 game turn-around clearly is due to the fact that this year CP3 stepped up big time.. as well, the exact same could be said about Deron Williams who i think should not have been so quickly dismissed. head to head these two gave us a few very good games to watch and the Jazz are not out of the series yet because he has carried them on his shoulders... as he did most of the season... as did Kobe Bryant..

Tyson Chandler has always been a great defender and rebounder.  Before Chris Paul, Tyson  Chander avg 7ppg and since Chris Paul he avg 10 ppg in the last 2 seasons.David West is an allstar. He can create his own shot  and hit the mid range jumper. Before Chris Paul arrived the David West only started 9 games and avg 15 min per game over 2 years. The same year CP3 arrived David West became a starter and his minutes increased to 35 min per game. David Wests numbers and production went up as his minutes reflect.Peja S is one of the greatest 3 point shooters in the game. He is a 3 time allstar and in the 2003-04 season he was 4th in the MVP rankings. Enough said

 i won't disagree with any of this either red, but as we know about the NBA, it is a team game and one that the Magic are so quickly showing us, talented front courts NEED at least an average back court to be consistantly successful. the Celtics are proving how young Rajon Rondo is as he struggles in the few games and the Celtics struggle. David West has struggled this post season i suspect due to the lack of room down low for him to create those shots he made all season.. as Peja Stojakovic has struggled, the defense has packed in around him and Tyson creating a very small area for West to work. and being guarded by Tim Duncan will cause a lot of good players fits.

This team was destined to be a great team this year. Last year they had 3 allstars miss a total of 120 gamges. Peja missed  70 games, David West 30 games and Chris Paul 20 games. It is not a surprise the Hornets are in the second round of the playoffs.

 i understand the injury situation all too well.. the fact is, they won only 39 games last year, this year they won 56, only one behind the Lakers. the play of Chris Paul has been brilliant and that is why he was in the hunt. All i was saying is that i think that Kobe received this award this year to make up for the slight some people think he has received.. not that he doesn't deserve it, that is NOT what i am saying... i just think that his career weighed very heavily on his selection and the fact that the best player on the best team as many say should get the award, Kevin Garnett, already has one.

that of course, is just my opinion...

 
Posted on: April 8, 2008 12:37 pm
 

Playoff Preview 2008

As we near the last of the pre-season games, we are all aware that the real season is about to begin in the NBA with the first play-off games getting closer every day.

It has been a fantastic season with huge deals and bad deals and no deals to alter the landscape on both sides of the country. We have seen new contenders on the scene as well as the usual suspects. here is my take on the season so far the anticipation of what might be.

We started the season with the Celtics making the blockbuster of the decade by acquiring Kevin Garnett for Al Jefferson, giving Paul Pierce a huge power game to work with, then acquiring Ray Allen for the back court and later adding Sam Cassells to anchor off the bench, this team has won 60 games or 80% of the games they have played this season... good for 1st overall and looking very tough as they are the #1 rated defense in the league and have been most of the season. Most seem to question not the talent level of this team but the lack of playoff experience. With former NBA MVP Kevin Garnett so close to his ring, i am pretty sure this team will roll to the Eastern Finals where they will be a very tough team to beat in a 7 game series. This team is more than 3 players as we have watched guys like Rajon Rondo step up and play the point with confidence and skill... a good solid guard who is efficient and getting better as he gains more playing time. a very solid bench offers support from James Posey, Glen Davis backing Kendrick Perkins and Scot Pollard there as well, this team is at least 10 players deep... and can roll all ten when needed. As far as i am concerned, this is the team to beat this year as i have not seen much wavering in this team even while Kevin was out earlier this year...

The Pistons offer us the best option in the East to the Celtics train. With a very solid and mature (read OLD) starting 5 with Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, Antonio McDyess, and Richard Hamilton, this team can play a scoring game or a slow half court game and are very good at both. they are 1 -2 against the Celtics with all three games having the teams at 90 points or less and only one game more than a 10 point game... and they were all exciting to watch!! yes, defensive ball games are usually very good to watch. this team is basically the same team that won it all a few years back and without the distraction that Ben Wallace was, team chemistry is excellent and confidence is very high... this team will be tough to beat but i think the Celtics will win the ECF only because they will have the extra home game. the bench offers us Jason Maxiel, Rodney Stuckey, Aaron Afflalo who could probably start on most teams in this league.. they don't lose much to 10 players as well... that will make them a tough match for the Celtics.

the Magic are the wild-card as i see it in the East.  With Dwight Howard in the middle, this team has the explosive inside game vital to playoff ball, and with Jameer Nelson developing into the true point and Rashard Lewis on the front end with Hedo Turkoglu and Maurice Evans shooting, this team can run with the best of them but often find it hard to close teams out.. but are on a 5 game win streak which bodes well for the play-off run if they can sustain this.

Other than the LeBron's in the Cavaliers, i don't see any of the other East teams with a chance this year. Wizards are still recovering from that horrible injury, the 76ers just aren't deep enough to challenge at this point.. the Raptors have been discussed as well, but can't play defense to beat the Hawks or the Bobcats. i can't see any of the bottom 5 teams making a lot of noise in the playoffs unless the LeBron's ALL play like LBJ they just don't have enough to win a second round series.

Out in the Wild Wild West we have some fantastic teams made up of young studs and some old guys blending styles and great coaching to offer us the shootout we all were looking for with 9 teams fighting for 8 spots. i will start with the 8 and 9 spots and work my way up.

As of today, the Warriors and the Nuggets are tied with 46 - 31 records so both have 5 games left. the Nuggets games are against the Clippers, Jazz, Rockets, Warriors and the Bobcats. Losing Sunday to the SuperSonics was a huge blow as you MUST beat teams below you at this point in the western race. Thursday's game AT Golden State will tell us if this team with 3 all-stars will get in... Imagine at the beginning of the year being told that you as a coach have Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby and Carmelo Anthony starting with Kenyon Martin and Anthony Carter, you will win more than 50 games or so and NOT make the playoffs by a game or 2. this team scores, but is not committed to Defense and as we all know, you can't win letting teams back into games because you can NEVER score enough points.

the Warriors were a surprise last year as Baron Davis was just starting to be heard of nightly and Don Nelson knew that Mavericks team as he built it. this season, they will will 50 games again with the Kings, Clippers, Suns, Nuggets and Sonics left to play, they should win at least 3 and could win 4 or all of them as they are the hungry team and the Suns don't need the wins... Monta Ellis, Steven Jackson, Andris Bierdrins score.... LOTS... but until they decide to play defense inside, they will struggle in the half court as they are small up front against teams like the west seems to be full of this season.. strong, large front courts.. Can the Warriors end up #8 and run the West this year? I don't think so as they West is much stronger and more aware of Nellie Ball this season.

in 7th right now are last seasons 67 game winners, the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki, and now with Jason Kidd and Josh Howard, Jason Terry and Eric Dampier, this team has balance it has needed seen as they rolled without Dirk last week and a new attitude that Kidd brings of a calm confidence that they have not had before... With Juwan Howard  and Brandon Bass off the bench this team is at least 8 deep and might be more. this team can make noise in the playoffs and will end up with 51 wins or so with 2 against the Sonics, as well as the Hornets, the Trail Blazers and the Jazz who can't seem to win on the road. though they are in 7th, they are only 6.5 games out of first so to say they are an underdog is not quite accurate. if i was the 2, i would not want to play these guys...

in 6th, we find the Suns - a team given very little respect on this board, which is a shame because they do play exciting basketball, and now with Shaquille O'Neal in the middle, can play very well in the half - court too. since the trade, this team has not fallen apart as predicted, has not stopped scoring as predicted, has won games because Shaq is still one of the BEST rebounders in the game - which is the biggest thing they were lacking, Amare Stoudemire has gone back to the 4 spot and is proving to be pretty much unstoppable most nights as predicted. Steve Nash has not had to take over games, though he can still do it dropping 35 the other game, but with Shaq passing like he used to, Steve's total has dropped as predicted which is fine, since they are still winning. this team has 5 games left against the Bobcats, the Spurs, the Rockets the Warriors and the Trail Blazers... i wonder who they pissed off in the office to have that killer of a schedule the last 2 weeks of the season... with 3 wins, they could still catch the top spot in the division but a Lakers -- Suns first round match looks very likely... that will be fun to watch!!

in 5th we have the Rockets - the team that was to collapse when Yao Ming went down. the heart of this team IS Tracy McGrady and for a large part of the year, it looked like he finally had the team to take him out of the first round... then Yao went down... did they fold? NO they won the next 11 games without him to clinch at least 5th place or so with chance to end up with 55 wins with games against the Nuggets, the Suns, the Sonics, AT the Jazz and the Clippers. they look very Solid with Rafer Alston playing his best ball and Shane Battier becoming the beast we thought he could. Dikembe Mutombo i think turns  65 and will qualify for seniors discount later this year, but looks great in the middle. the bench is the issue with the Rockets as they aren't very deep, maybe 7 players, this is where injuries could cost them a playoff series victory.

the Utah Jazz are in 4th place right now with 51 wins, but will probably win the NorthWest division while being it's sole play-off representitive. though they are great at home going 35 - 4 at home, they are not a road team and thus have a short life expectancy in the playoffs as you MUST win on the road to win... ask the Cavaliers about that last year's surprise run as well as the 8th seeded Warriors last year winning HUGE games on the road. the Jazz starters of Deron Williams Andrei Kirolenko, Carlos Boozer Memhet Okur and Ronnie Brewer play Jerry Sloan balance on offense and solid defense which is why they are seldom blown out. this team will have to overcome a lot of bad losses on the road this year to have success in the first round but should take the Rockets out.

In 3rd right now we have the Lakers who are proving quite resiliant through an array of injuries that had them thin up the middle again. with the acquisition of Pau Gasol, this team with Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom Derick Fisher and Vladomir Radmanovic offers one of the most potent offenses in the league, but leaves them a bit weak on the defensive end of the floor. having a true point guard in Fisher and Jordan Farmer on the bench, this team moves the ball well and has adequate depth on the bench as we have seen them not lose much when Gasol went down... this team will be very hard to beat from the outside, but can be beat inside as they are a bit thin up front right now. But having Kobe is a great plus and this team MIGHT be able to beat the Suns this year... maybe...

in 2nd we find the team that was to be as extinct as the dodo bird this late in the season, the Spurs. everyone said they are too old, too slow, too fragile, too bland, boring, soft... you name it, they were called it. WHO knew the heart of this team was still beating. Tim Duncan again has brought his boring fundamental game to the top of the tight western conference with solid defense and an offense fueled by Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Michael Finley, and Fabricio Uberto - Bruce Bowen IS THE BEST DEFENDER in the game.. ask Kobe so anything he adds on offense is wonderful. this team has one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game in Popp and just keeps winning.

At the top of the heap right now, but only 1.5 games up, are the Hornets. with the Little Engine that Could named Chris Paul - who will probably win his 1st MVP this year - this team offers solid offense with Tyson Chandler and David West as well as Peja Stojakovic with a solid year from Morris Peterson - the Raps were foolish to let him go... - this team has beat teams they were not supposed to this year. the only question this team needs to answer is are they ready to play in the playoffs with what appears to be a very inexperienced team. i think after watching the style they play, this team will compete and make it to the finals.

so, what do i see going on in the playoffs... round by round, here it is

East

1) Celtics vs. 8) Hawks - Celtics play hard and sweep to rest for a week

2) Pistons vs. 7) Raptors - see above but say Pistons where is says Celtics

3) Magic vs. 6) 76ers - 6 games but Dwight is too much inside... Magic win

4) Cavaliers vs 5) Wizards - the Lebrons sweep

2nd round

1) Celtics vs. 4) Cavaliers - 5 games as the LeBrons win 1 at home to show he wants to stay there past 2010

2) Pistons vs 3) Magic - Dwight is not ready for this yet, Pistons in 6

Eastern Conference Final

1) Celtics vs. 2) Pistons - this will be a classic battle that we will talk about for years... Celtics just too strong to the 10th man, win in 7 as they will be home

Western Conference

1st Round

1) Hornets vs 8) Warriors - no magic run this year, this team is too good for Nellie Ball - Hornets in 5

2) Spurs vs 7) Mavericks - this will be great ball to watch with the Spurs winning game 7

3) Lakers vs 6) Suns - do you think the Suns did this on purpose? Suns in 7th game upset with Shaq dropping 34 and grabbing 25 boards

4) Jazz vs 5) Rockets - Jazz win game 7 at home

2nd Round

1) Hornets vs 4) Jazz - i don't think they reseed!! but either way the Hornets beat either the Jazz or the Suns

2) Spurs vs 6) Suns - Spurs will beat either as well...

Western Conference Final

1) Hornets vs 2) Spurs - as much as i love the Hornets, they just can't beat the Spurs in 7 games.

NBA Championship Series

1) Celtics vs 2) Spurs - this will be an instant classic with drama, great ball, tough defense, David Stern's goldenchild team, all the stuff a finals is made of. these two teams are very hard to dispute as the top two teams in the league right now.

i say the Celtics will win game 7 at home, and will win at the line as Kevin will just be too much to handle.

that is my opinion. thanks for reading it.

 

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com