Tag:Kevin Garnett
Posted on: January 13, 2009 12:45 pm

Raptors - Celtics - Back To Back reviewed

I think at this point in the week, I need to pause and do some reflection on the two games we just witnessed with the Celtics. The Celtics came into the game Sunday having lost 4 straight games to the Knicks, the Bobcats, the Rockets and the Cavaliers and were looking to turn around the play of the team to where it was when they were 27 – 2 and winners of 19 straight. The Raptors were coming off a week which saw them beat the Magic, the Wizards and the Grizzlies, but lose to the Bucks. Both teams were looking to show signs of life but are at very different points in their seasons. The Celtics seem to have been deflated by the loss to the Lakers on Christmas but are still a top 3 team in the league but are struggling to maintain consistent energy and focus during the long season. The Raptors were looking to show that the gains made as a team last week despite the injuries to Jermaine O’Neal and Jose Calderon were not just blibs on the radar of this below average season of hope.

Sunday, January 11th, 2009 Celtics @ Raptors

Celtics 94
Raptors 88

Ray Allen was allowed to hit 5 open 3’s in the first after the Raptors had opened up a brief lead and never allowed the Raptors to hold the lead again as this game was not close for the majority of it. The Celtics were without Tony Allen and Kendrick Perkins but got huge defensive games from Kevin Garnett and Brian Scalabrine to shut our interior game down. Glen Davis had 11 rebounds off the bench to add to the pressure the Raptors felt inside all afternoon. The Raptors did battle back from 20 points down to a point where they could have tied the game late, but shooting under 30% for most of the game and finishing at 37% from the floor, they were just unable to hit the shot they needed to complete the recovery.

Monday, January 12th, 2009 Raptors @ Celtics

Celtics 115
Raptors 109

Paul Piece scored 39 points as the Raptors found some defense, but were just not able to stop one of the best wing men in the game. Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen were held 12 and 9 points and were bothered all night as the Raptors Jamario Moon and Roko Ukic played solid defense and gave them a chance to win with Andrea Bargnani leading the team with 23 points including the game tying 3 point shot with about 1 second left. It was a game in which the Raptors had a lead going into the 4th quarter but allowed the Celtics to make a couple of quick 3’s by Scalebrine while committing turnovers and allowing them back into the game. Jason Kapono and Joey Graham played well but could not make a shot late in the game. Will Solomon was replaced by Roko Ukic down the stretch after turning the ball over 3 straight possessions costing the Raptors the game in the Overtime.

Here are a few things that I saw over these past two games that I think will bode well as this team moves on after going 0 – 4 against the Celtics for the season.

Play of the Point Guards

Roko Ukic and Will Solomon combined for 32 points, 14 assists, 6 rebounds and only 6 turnovers over these two games. As I see it, Roko has moved closer to becoming the full time back up with his poise and his ball control making better decisions in the overtime than Will while facing a Celtics team who were pressing him at every spot on the floor. His 16 points last night were a large part of the reason we had a lead going into the 4th and why we should have won that game if someone could make a stop on Paul Pierce.

Play of the 3 position

Jamario Moon had 15 points and 7 rebounds on Sunday, but had only 8 points – most coming very early in the game and 1 rebound Monday. I wish I could say he was playing tough and that Paul Pierce was just too much, but he was often lost in the key or caught out of position helping weakside while Pierce was planted at the 3 point line waiting for the ball. Jason Kapono had 12 points and 2 rebounds Sunday but was held to 7 points and 1 rebound last night. He did have the sense to get the ball to Andrea Bargnani for the tie, but he has become a liability on defense night after night. Joey Graham had 12 points and 8 rebounds Sunday, but was held to 7 points and 3 on Monday as he was unable to provide the same intensity defensively as he has shown and Paul Pierce was feeling it. This has been and will continue to be the Achilles heel of this team. Wing play has been spotty at best and when we play teams like the Celtics or the Hornets or the 76ers who have athletic wing players, our guys just can’t compete.

Play of Chris Bosh

Many will say that he disappeared last night or faded down the stretch or cowered in the face of Kevin Garnett. All have merit, but none speak of the heart he has brought these past two games. 33 points and 22 rebounds playing perhaps the toughest PF in the game are pretty good numbers. KG over these two games had 30 points and 23 rebounds, including a couple of offensive boards that kept the ball out of the hands of the scrappy Raptors. To say Chris was outplayed by KG is not accurate and unfair. Of those 45 rebounds combined, Bosh had 6 offensive boards including the one that lead to the game tying shot last night while KG had 5 over the two games. Sure KG brings an intensity that we all wish CB4 had, but there is only ONE KG and he has played the game at a very high level since his days with the Timberwolves. That is not how Chris Bosh plays nor does anyone else in the league. Bosh battled KG for the past two nights and held himself to a standard that no one else on the floor had to battle. I for one was thoroughly impressed by his performance and his leadership and hope this is a sign of what could be over the rest of the season.

Play of Andrea Bargnani

Since the injury to Jermaine O’Neal, Andrea has been the starting Center on this team and has begun to blossom into a much more able scorer, a tough defender and a gritty player. Soon, the refs will stop calling those stupid touch fouls on him and he will begin to draw more contact calls as he has begun to show what Bryan Colangello must have seen before he drafted him. In the games against the Celtics, he scored 40 points, grabbed 17 rebounds including 3 offensive boards, handed out 6 assists on 4 turnovers. All of these are aspects of his game that have been improving this season and we are seeing an Andrea Bargnani who has confidence in himself and has won his teams respect and his coach’s confidence as well.

With games against the Bulls led by Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon, the Pacers lead by Danny Granger and Marquis Daniels and T.J. Ford with the Suns coming in on Sunday with Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire and a guy named Shaquille O’Neal, let’s hope the Raptors will see a lot of great things they have done over the past 2 games and keep building the momentum.

Posted on: January 5, 2009 5:05 pm

Raptors - Week 11 in Preview

Week 11 begins tonight with a game against the 16 – 19 Bucks, currently in 8th place one place ahead of the Raptors for the last playoff spot in the East. In the past 10 games, they have won six including wins over the Spurs, the Jazz and the Knicks, split games with the Bobcats and have lost to the Rockets, the Pistons and the 76ers. Following this on Wednesday, the Wizards complete a short 2 game road trip with neither Jose Calderon nor Jermaine O’Neal traveling with the team. The Wizards are struggling for consistency as well and are a dismal 7 – 25, yet were able to defeat the Cavaliers who have gone 2 – 2 this past week splitting games with the Heat and defeating the Rockets before losing last night to the Wizards. Friday brings the Grizzlies to town and their 11 – 23 record having lost to the Suns, the Spurs and the Timberwolves before knocking off the Mavericks Sunday. Here is how I see the week shaping up.

Monday, January 05, 2009 Raptors @ Bucks

With Andrew Bogut questionable for the game tonight and Malik Allen out, the Bucks will have a tough time up front with Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh both playing very solid games this past week. Starting Dan Gadzuric and Luc Richard Mbah a Mouteand and Richard Jefferson up front, the Bucks will have trouble with our inside game and should Jamario Moon continue to gather rebounds as he has been, the Bucks will be forced to beat us with Michael Redd and Luke Ridenour. Not entirely out of the question and the Raptors will have to be sure to keep the defensive pressure on as Will Solomon, Roko Ukic and Anthony Parker look to continue the guard play that has been solid this past week. Jason Kapono is set to have a big game and he should find lots of room to shoot, as the Bucks send a smaller line up to the court.

Wizards - 7 - 23 heading into the week following a win over the CavaliersWednesday, January 07, 2009 Raptors @ Wizards

The Wizards start Antawn Jamison and Andray Blatche with no real Center as Caron Butler fills the other forward position. This should give the Raptors the edge inside as Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh will look to put pressure on the interior of the Wizards all night long. With Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson hurt, the Wizards have been starting 4 forwards with Dominic McGuire filling the 4th forward position and Mike James running the point. Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon should be able to control this lineup with speed and help defense as Will and Roko should be able to control this game from start to finish. I can’t see the Wizards winning unless the Raptors fall asleep as the Cavaliers did.

GrizzliesFriday, January 09, 2009 Raptors vs. Grizzlies

The Grizzlies bring Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo and Kyle Lowry to the game with Darrell Arthur as well as Hakim Warrick. The Raptors had best be paying attention as this team could take advantage of any attitude that might develop should they win the first two games this week. I think they will be ready after a short road trip and looking to prepare for the back to back with the Celtics on Sunday and Monday. I am confident that Coach Triano won’t let this team drift away this week.

Celtics - starting the week 29 - 6, 1st in the East and second over allSunday, January 11, 2009 Raptors vs. Celtics
Monday, January 12, 2009 Raptors @ Celtics

I will do both here as they will be hard to separate in the course of the weekend. The Celtics have been inconsistent the past 10 games winning only 6 losing to the Lakers on Christmas day then the Warriors on the 26th. Since then, they have lost to the Trail Blazers and the Knicks but are still comfortable with a 29 – 6 record and still 1st overall in the east, but second over all in the league just behind the Lakers. With Kevin Garnett playing as well as he ever has and the surging play of Rajon Rondo, this Celtics team offers depth and skill to about 10 players with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Leon Powe, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis and Tony Allen leading the way. The Raptors will need to be at the top of their game but will be looking to steal one of these games and I think they might be ready to do it at this point. The Raptors have looked more confident with a lead than at any other point this season so I look for 2 very good games.

Next week brings us the Bulls, the Pacers and the Suns as this team heads to the all-star break looking to get back to or above %.500. That would be a very good recovery from what looked like a dismal season not 2 weeks ago.

Posted on: November 11, 2008 11:14 am

Raptors - Celtics - the one that got away!

Last night we witnessed a total meltdown of a team that is quickly becoming very easy to beat! The Celtics came into the game against the Raptors having played a tough Pistons team in Detroit the night before. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce as well as Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen. The nucleus of the Championship team with Kendrick Perkins and Leon Powe adding minutes up front with Glenn Davis, this team is playing awesome team defense allowing only 84 points per game coming into last night!

The Raptors brought to the game a team in search of itself after a great start and 2 losses against the Pistons and they young Hawks, they had rebounded with a win in Charlotte against the Bobcats. Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon were leading this team offensively with Bosh over 26 points per game and Jose around 18 with 9 assists and in total command of the floor when he is out there. What this team was looking for was someone to step up and score on a consistent basis! Jermaine O'Neal was brought in, Jamario Moon was given the start, Jason Kapono looks comfortable off the bench and Anthony Parker draws the toughest checks night after night!

The Raptors opened the game giving the ball to JO who scored 19 in the first half and ended up with 23 and 11 boards! An excellent game from the other option inside! He battled all night long and won most of them! Jason Kapono as well added 14 while Anthony Parker had 15! Offensively we could ask for nothing more from these 3 men! However, it seems Doc figured out that holding Bosh to 9 and Jose to 7 would probably win them the game! The Celtics collapsed on Bosh and forced Jose to pass all night! The fourth quarter saw us ahead going in to it, but 6 steals and -5 or 6 in rebounds will cost you a game most nights! Last night it cost us a huge divisional win!

At this point in Sam Mitchell's tenure as coach, he has pretty much the same group of men he has had for the past 3 seasons or so with the loss of T.J. Ford and Morris Petterson and the promotion of Jose and Anthony Parker, these guys have played a lot of games for Sam! At some point he must be questioned on why his guys refuse to play perimeter defense! Paul Pierce should NOT be allowed to score 22 points in a quarter! Nor should anyone for that matter! The rest of the league is very aware of how weak we are on the outside with Jason Kapono being slow and Jamario Moon seemingly disinterested! Either the coach can't motivate them or they just can't play at this level!

Some bad things about last night!

The Raptors were 11 - 16 from the line while the Celtics were 24 - 27! The calls were pretty even at 23 - 21 against the Raptors, but the difference is the Raptors have seemingly forgotten how to attack the hole! Being beaten and fouling on the shot killed them last night as the Celtics battled back into the game on the free throw line in the third. We gave up 6 steals in the fourth and were at least -5 in rebounds in the quarter as the Raptors had been ahead on total boards the whole game! We also turned the ball over at least 4 times in the 4th! That is unacceptable in HIGH SCHOOL ball! We were also -5 in turnovers against the toughest defensive team in the league (I hear the Lakers are rated over-all number 1 but i have not looked into that yet)

This level of mediocre defense will quickly turn this team to an after-thought in an ever tightening Eastern Conference where the Celtics, Pistons and Cavaliers have serious competition to about 10 spots this year. The Hawks, the Magic, the Heat, the 76ers and the Pacers all look to move up the Conference and the Raptors are quickly turning into a stepping stone as they can't seem to stop anyone!

Some Good things about last night!

Well, we did grab 39 boards, a bit better than our 35 per game average with a +2 on the offensive end! The team had 25 assists which means ball movement was there and the open man was found a lot! It was great to see JO step up and score and grab 11 boards! Jason and Anthony did well to provide the 29 they did.

I believe this loss will haunt them a long time! I hope they can learn a few things from the game and move ahead into a long season filled with more ups and downs.

Some things they should learn!

Defense Wins Championships! Until we can defend the wing positions and limit the cutting and slashing that we have seen from Tayshaun Prince, Joe Johnson and now The Truth, this team will not make the playoffs! Defense requires the committment we saw for the first 3 quarters last night! Getting on the glass and diving for loose balls and attacking all over the floor is how they built a 14 point lead on the Celtics. Then they stood around watching Paul Pierce light them up!

We can learn that every body has a role to play and if anyone fails, this team will not succeed. The Celtics show everyone that basketball is a team sport! You win as a team and you lose as a team! Last night, the Raptors were beaten as a team in every position on the floor.

We can learn that potential does not translate well to playing at a high level! Andrea Bargnani and Jamario Moon are very talented players with enormous skill sets that COULD contribute to any team in this league! Right now, neither seems willing to pay the price to play at the level expected night after night! Teams have players to fill roles. All teams are not made up of SuperStar players alone! Right now, Chris Bosh is the Stud of this team! When he has a bad game or gets shut down like last night, then the rest of the team needs to find a way to win! That is usually by playing tough defense! That is why the Celtics are the Champs!

The guys can learn that Sam does actually know how to coach defense and do what he is asking them!

They can learn that it is possible for them to play at whatever level they choose on any night!

This picture should be put up in every locker these guys dress at this season!

Do i still love this team? YES I do! They need to regroup quickly or the playoffs will be out of reach!

Posted on: November 10, 2008 11:03 am

Raptors - Celtics game Preview


What can you say about the Celtics that has not been mentioned yet? The Reigning World Champions are 6 - 1 having W's against the Rockets, the Cavaliers and the Pistons who started Allen Iverson last night. Their loss to the Pacers was their banner night and they shot 34%.

Tonight the Raptors visit after a solid road win in Charlotte over the Bobcats on a night when Chris Bosh had 30/15 and Andrea Bargnani had 18/5 with a 3 block night!

Tonight will be the first of 2 divisional games as they play the 76ers on Wednesday back home. The Celtics have a front court that is probably the most consistant in the league night in and night out which is why they are the champs!

 Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett provide a very tough front court to play man to man and both can beat you from mid range so we will have to see Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani as well as Jermaine O'Neal be ready for a tough struggle to contain these guys who are averaging 10 and 9 rebounds a game! KG is struggling on offense this season with only 14 ppg, but his presense alone gives defenses fits as he can attack from any where and always seems to be around the ball! Paul Pierce is averaging 16 and 7, Ray Allen is 15/4, Tony Allen is 11+ and Rajon Rondo is around 10 points and 7 assists per game.

Coming in to tonights game, the Raptors are lead by Chris Bosh with almost 27 points and 11 rebounds per game! What a season he is having! Jose Calderon brings his 16 points and 9.3 rebounds per game to a team with much quicker guards which seems to be a theme so far! Between Jose and Anthony Parker, we need to see the guards step up and play some much better perimeter defense! It has been painful to watch as we give up open look after open look! AP has had tough assignments nightly yet is still giving us 10.5 points and 2.5 rebounds a game!

Tonight, the Key for me will be the play of Jermaine O'Neal! If he can provide a 12 point 10 rebound game, this team will have a shot at knocking off the champs. The front court, whether it be CB4 and JO or CB4 and Andrea Bargnani, who has shown flashes of the talent he can offer with 3 games of 18, 19 and 12 against the Warriors, Bobcats and Pistons, brings a 9.7 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game. If these two can combine for a 20/15 game, we should be able to control the front court. As i see it, our team rebounding has been awful and unless we can become a 44 or 45 rebounds a game team, we are not consistant enough to be always -9 or -10 on the glass, especially giving up Offensive boards! This is an area that Jamario Moon MUST contribute!

Category: NBA
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


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


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.



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