Posts Tagged ‘NBA playoffs

05
May
09

This is the Houston Rockets with your wakeup call

Frustrated, pissed off, pathetic, and let down.  Those were just several emotions in which I was feeling as I shut the game off and called it an early night as the Lakers lost their most coveted home court advantage and game one to the Houston Rockets last night.  It is never easy to see your team go down one zero let alone hand home court away.  All season long we have heard the Lakers talk of how important it is to hold home court throughout the playoffs so there is no repeat of what happened against the Celtics last year.  Last night, well we just gave it away.

When I woke up this morning, I had that same taste in my mouth as I got ready and went to work.  Throughout the day I wasn’t able to get my mind off that terrible performance.  Over and over again I thought of what we did wrong.  Lets go over the negatives first.   Lamar Odom went 1-6 from the free throw line. Sasha Vujacic’s poor shooting percentage continues through the playoffs at .333 percent.  His sole purpose on the floor is to piss the other team off and make threes.  Instead last night, we get the lead and Sasha tries to do too much as always and fouls Artest for an And 1.  Then the following possession he got smoked by Aaron Brooks who scores thus giving the Rockets a five-point swing.  Speaking of Aaron Brooks, can any of our guys guard him?  I know Fish brings leadership but Farmar brings speed and defense.  How about Bynum with the inability to play more than 15 min a game due to foul trouble?  Finally there is Kobe.  Yes he was sick but like Kobe I do not believe in excuses.  Whenever Kobe shoots more than 24 times in a game the Lakers have 11 wins and 12 loses.  When Kobe does not do that the Lakers are around 53 wins and 13 loses.  The problem with last night was that none of Kobe’s teammates were making shots.  They went 2-18 from deep and no one was making open shots.  Not even Pau.

As the work day went on and after all of this had gone through my brain, I have decided that the Lakers as bad as they played were in the game until the end.  Some would call it rust, some would call it a bad night, I call it a wakeup call.  In the last series and for the last half of the season, the Lakeshow has not been challenged, they have not had their backs against the wall, and they have not had any pressure on them.  Guess what? Now they do.  This next home game is a must win.  Every time the Lakers have gone into a situation where a win will set the tone, they have come out on top.  How did they do against Boston this year? How did they do against King James this year?  All four of those games gave the Lakeshow a W in the win column.

The Lakers will not go 11 percent from the three-point line again, Kobe will not have 32 points on 31 shot attempts, and I am hoping Bynum will stay out of foul trouble.  Last night Yao went 10 for 10 from the free throw line, Artest was shooting 85% in the first half, Aaron Brooks had 19 points, and the Rockets played lights out.  Take all of this into consideration and then think how bad the Lakers played and how they were still in the game.  This only shows how deep the Lakers truly are.

Last year in the Lakeshow’s road to the finals they were never tested and never trailed a series.  Boston went to game 7 countless times.  When it came to the finals, Boston knew they could pull through when the going got tough.  What happened when the got down twenty plus points?  They tightened up their D and pulled one of the biggest comebacks in NBA finals history.  Props to Boston.  The first time the Lakers faced adversity was on the big stage.  It was ever so apparent that they were not ready and did not know what to do in order to turn the tides.

What is great about this loss, is the fact that we are facing adversity early and not in the NBA finals.  We are facing adversity against a Houston team who we swept in the regular season and are nowhere as talented as our boys in the Purple and Gold.  Yes the statistics say that eighty percent of the teams that win game one go on to win the series.  I am curious how many of those teams were the higher seed to win game one and go on to win the series?  Did Chicago advance to the second round last week?  Did Philadelphia advance to the second round?  Both of those teams won game one yet the top seed advanced.

To wrap things up, it is not time to panic in Laker land.  The Lakeshow as Kobe said is the best road team in the NBA.  We have not lost in Houston all year, Kobe had a bad night (what does he normally do after a bad night?  Go off), and we did not play for a week.  The rust is off, the Lakers got their wake up call, and now it is time to step up to the challenge.  Like one of my co-workers said today at work.  Don’t let that loss bother you.  If it is destiny for the Lakers to win it all, then it will happen.  There is nothing we can do about it.  Just let it play out.

Well, destiny here we come……

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04
May
09

The NBA playoffs owe their excitement to Beijing…and Kobe Bryant

April through June is definitely my favorite time of the year as a sports fan.  Many would say March purely because of March Madness, and that is very hard to argue.  The difference for me is that we have baseball back, the NFL draft and the NBA playoffs.

Until last year, the NBA playoffs were just a long and boring end to a season filled with much more excitement than the playoffs could provide.  The 2004 playoffs were the last playoffs that I cared about because my team (Minnesota Timberwolves) had the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs and it seemed as if Kevin Garnett could finally get out of the first round.  They did so by beating the Denver Nuggets in 5 games and then proceeded to give me the greatest sporting experience of my life in Game 7 against Sacramento in round 2.  Unfortunately they met an immovable force in the Conference finals and lost to the Lakers 4-2.  For those of you who are staunch Lakers fans, keep two things in mind these playoffs.  First, without Minnesota, you wouldn’t have the Lakers.  So whatever success your team achieves, recognize where the talent started.  Second, even with Shaq and Kobe, the Lakers choked hard against the Pistons.  Look it up, the Pistons just stifled the heck out of Kobe and Shaq.  But that is neither here nor there.  The point of this post is to point out a part of this year’s playoffs that should make them one of the best ever.

Ever since getting together to win the summer Olympics in Beijing this past summer, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Dwayne Wade have grown closer together as friends.  They all challenged each other while playing for the gold and, I think, had direct effects on each other’s seasons this year.  Kobe is an incredible defender and no doubt worked with Lebron and Dwayne on their defense this year.  Then magically, this year, Lebron and Dwayne had their best years defensively.  Kobe was an elder on this Olympic team and took these guys under his wing and may have created two new monsters to take over for him whenever he decides to call it quits.  They became good friends and with any good friendship comes a little competition.

It all started back on a chilly February night in New York City.  No matter how terrible its inhabitants are, Madison Square Garden still seems to be the basketball Mecca.  Whether it is rumors of Lebron coming to the MSG permanently or Nate Robinson being a more successful version of Gary Coleman, it’s the place to play.  Kobe Bryant decided that he would drop a MSG record 61 points and cause the usually hostile Knicks fans to chant “MVP, MVP!”  It was surely a sight to see.  Bryant, after the game, got a text message from his friend Lebron that was something along the lines of “Good work…but you know I’m going to try and do better”

What happened the next night at MSG?  Lebron James showed up at MSG and put up maybe the most impressive numbers of his career.  James dropped 52 points, 9 rebounds and 11 assists.  If you remember back that far, the NBA actually took away one rebound from James and stripped him of a chance to have one of the most memorable triple-doubles in NBA history.  James made good on his promise to upstage Kobe and he certainly did.  He may not have scored 61 but he definitely filled the rest of his stat sheet better than Kobe did.

Examples of how Dwayne Wade upstaged Kobe and Lebron?  Easy…Dwayne just carried his team through the regular season and to being one win away from a second round match up against friend Lebron James.  I wonder at what point Wade will have to address his chronic back and knee problems.  Having to carry an entire franchise can have its negative effects (ask Kevin Garnett and his playoff playing minutes this year).  Now that Wade is out, look for Kobe and Lebron to try and upstage each other each night until they eventually meet in the Finals.

On Monday, James was crowned the NBA MVP.  Rightfully so, he was the best player in the NBA from game 1 to game 82 and continues to dominate in the playoffs.  Many of you who read this may be Lakers/Kobe fans, I am as well, but lets be honest.  Lebron James is a monster and is better at this point in his career than Kobe Bryant was.  I can hear you now, “Well, who has more championships?”  Easy answer, both have the same amount of championships.  Lebron has been in the league for 6 years and has not won a title yet.  Kobe Bryant has been without Shaq since 2004 and hasn’t won a titled without Shaq.  He’s come close but…oh wait, so has Lebron.  So as far as I’m concerned, that argument is completely nullified by what I call the “Shaq-Factor”.  Could Lebron have won titles already if he had the most dominant center since Wilt?  We’ll never know, but I’ll just guess yes.  Until Kobe wins a title without Shaq, this argument ends in a tie.  Until Kobe gets rid of the Shaq-Factor, he and Lebron are in the same boat.

Here are my second round predictions (Celtics/Magic game just ended and I made up my mind about their series before this game 1 ended)

Magic over Celtics 4-1 (KG just matters too much.  Brian Scalabrine can only take you so far and Dwight Howard is an absolute wrecking ball)

Cavs over Hawks 4-0 (maybe 4-1 if that Hawk swoops down and brings about a phobia of birds in Lebron)

Lakers 4-1 over Rockets (Rockets sneak in a win in Houston in game 3 but that’s it.  Kobe just spanks Ron Artest for 5 games)

Denver 4-2 over Dallas (Battle of the delinquents.  Josh Howard and Jason Terry get to go home early…and something tells me that they don’t mind too much)

30
Apr
09

Ron Artest bites his toungue once again

The Houston Rockets, what can I say about them?  The first thing that jumps to mind is the Dream shake and Clyde the Glide ripping it in H town.  Then there was the draft which brought Yao over to the states.  A dude who is seven eight and has a jumper, quite impressive.  Then there is the saga of T-Mac, a superstar brought in from Orlando to only fall in the first round of the playoffs time and time again.  Finally, we are brought to the present.

The Houston Rockets have finally won a playoffs round, the first since 1997.  It has been a tough road, and a straight out battle against Brando Roy and the Portland Trailblazers.  Next, they face my Los Angeles Lakers.  Coming into the opening game of the series the Lakers will have had three more days of rest than the Rockets.  This rest was a much needed break and gives our big man Bynum time to rest that knee, get into a good rhythm and match up with the Chinese giant down below.

Hey Yao, at least it isnt Nate Robinson

Hey Yao, at least it isn't Nate Robinson

Just yesterday reporters were allowed in the Rockets practice and none other than Ron Artest took an interview.  Among the typical questions being asked, Ron found a way to make a stir in the media once again.  No he did not rush into the crowd and throw hay makers similar to the instance in Detroit, but instead threw a different kind of punch.

Ron Artest has come out to say that Brandon Roy is the best player he has gone against all season.  When I first heard this as well as the reporters, they had to do a double take.  “Brandon Roy is the best player you have gone against this series, right?”  Artest replied, “hands down Roy is the best player I have had to defend this season, hands down the hardest player to guard in the NBA.”

Lets look at some of the players Artest has had to guard starting with the most obvious.  Kobe, LeBron, Pierce, Manu, Carmello, Hamilton, Wade, just to name a few.  The names that jump out the most are Kobe and LeBron.  Was Ron Artest really thinking that Kobe and LeBron were not listening?  If the Rockets did make it through game six which they did, does he realize Kobe is listening and taking note?  If the Rockets do get past the Lakers (which they wont) and meet the Cav’s in the finals does he think LeBron is not listening?

Ron Artest has just said to much for him to handle.  There is no player in the NBA that can turn something personal like this and make it rain like Kobe.  We have seen what happens time and time again when Kobe gets pissed in games.  The guy goes wild, crazy, takes over, and makes not only you but your team pay for this.

What happened when this occured? Yeah, Kobe went off

What happened when this occurred? Yeah, Kobe went off

All I have to say is thank you Ron Ron.  Thanks for sparking that camp fire the Lakers have going and turning it into an inferno.  All I can say is Kobe is waiting and ready.  Ron, once again you have turned yourself into public enemy one and once again you have acted without thinking (remember that night in motor city?).  Good luck in this next round, because you and Yao will be lucky to get a game.  On a side note, since the Rockets make it out of the first round and T-Mac is injured does that mean T-Mac made it out of the first round as well?

Kaliphornya Love-

19
Apr
09

Kaliphornya’s favorite fan from Boston….truly

If you have been keeping up with the blog for the past couple of days, you would have seen me go back and forth with a passionate reader and avid Boston sports fan.  JonTookEm recently just sent me the best comment that this site has received.  I am not going to reply and rip it apart because frankly there really is not anything to rip apart.  Well except the very end, but I will let you see for yourself.  Thank you very much JonTookEm…..Feel free to comment whenever you want.

Hahaha.
Great responses. Love the passion there.

What kind of fan am I? I love the Celtics, but I am also a fan of basketball and realize that it probably isn’t in the cards for them this year. There is a big difference between being naive and thinking that my team can win because I want them to and knowing that there are 2 other better teams in the NBA this year. Of course there is still a great chance for them to win, but is it likely? Probably not. Will I win and lose with the Celts during the playoffs? Of course.

In terms of the comment, “You might forget about the fact that not every good team can win everywhere”, that was a typo on my part. I meant to say that, “You might forget about the fact that not every good team can win every YEAR.” Oops. I can see how that would confuse you.

Yes, this team was injury ridden so it must be a curse from Paul Pierce’s “fake” injury. It probably has nothing to do with the fact that KG has logged 1,000+ games or 10,000+ minutes of game time? Nah, probably not. Leon Powe doesn’t have a history of knee injuries, either. No. he doesn’t… Scal having lots of concussions? That’s a freak accident. Tony Allen? Yeah, multiple injuries. Rondo? Lots of twisted ankles.

But look at the entire league: overall piss poor quality because of injuries? Yeah, I think so.

But let’s be real with each other: are you really going to get this serious and this pissed about me calling your curse stupid? Because it is. If you really believe in curses, you need to go back and do redo your undergraduate work in WAKE UP DUDE THERE ARE NO SUCH THINGS AS CURSES. Maybe your school didn’t require those courses, but they are worth checking out.

Wake up. There are no stupid curses. The team had injuries like so many other good teams this year (Spurs, Lakers, Hornets… shall I continue?).

If you’d like to have a pissing contest about which city is title-town, go ahead. You win by numbers. Is that supposed to make me feel bad? Well… this might ruin your day, but it really doesn’t ruin my day. I like my team because I grew up watching the Sox and the Celts with my family, especially with my older brother who was/is someone I always looked up to. Sports have always had meaning to me because of how much fun I had playing sports and being an athlete on a team (middle school, high school, and college). I love being part of a group all rooting for the same thing and hoping for the same outcome. I don’t love sports because my city has won more sports. Please.

I’ll close with all of my picks for the NBA playoffs. This is from what I think will happen, not what I want to happen. What do I want to happen? See the Celtics raise #18 and prevent Phil Jackson from moving ahead of Red in most titles won.

IN THE WEST:

(1) Lakers v. (8) Jazz  :  Lakers in 5 (the only thing tough about this pick was should it be in 4 or 5 games)

(4) Blazers v. (5) Rockets  :  Rockets in 6 (I got to admit: Ron Artest and Yao Ming = Craziest duo in the NBA and crazy enough to shut down the all Blazers except B-Roy)

(3) Spurs v. (6) Mavs  :  Spurs in 7 (I just can’t see the Mavs playing good enough defense and Timmy giving one great series before his body gives)

(2) Nuggets v. (7) Hornets  :  Nuggets in 6 (I feel uneasy about this pick, but which Hornet can guard Melo? Chauncey can put up a fight against CP3)

(1) Lakers v. (5) Houston  :  Lakers in 6 (this is too bad because Houston would have had a chance at the WCF if they had finished as the 4th seed)

(3) Spurs v. (2) Nuggets  :  Spurs in 6 (this has everything to do with me thinking that the Nuggets will self-implode because they won’t know how to play in a semi-final round and Coach Pop exposes this despite the fact that Timmy falls apart; by the way, I hate this pick and I know I am going to be wrong here but it doesn’t matter because the Lakers make it out of the West)

(1) Lakers v. (3) Spurs  :  Lakers in 5 (easy)

IN THE EAST:

(1) Cavs v. (8) Pistons  :  Cavs in 5 (Lebron chews through Rip Hamilton while kicking Rasheed Wallace in the face as his right arm extends back 30 feet behind him during a tomahawk dunk; who on earth will guard him in this series?)

(4) Hawks v. (5) Heat  :  Hawks in 7 (this was a tough one: can D-Wade really carry his team through 7 straight grueling games? Plus the Hawks have taken 3 games to 1 this season)

(3) Orlando v. (6) 76ers  :  Orlando in 6 (Everyone will start spitting the old rhetoric that I’m sick of, “Orlando is a legitimate team with a real chance of taking down Boston and to give the Cavs a series”; they’ll fold to the Celts if they even get there)

(2) Celtics v. (7) Bulls  :  Celtics in 6 (I’d rather see the Celts play the 76ers, but whatever; the Celts will have a tough match-up against their bigs (Miller, Noah, Tyrus Thomas) and their hot shooting (Salmons, Gordon) and the ever-improving play of Derrick Rose. Whatever, I am not saying the games won’t be close, but if you do player-to-player match ups, the Celts come out on top very easily with Rondo, Pierce, and Ray Ray; plus our bench is infinitely better than their bench so suck it)

(1) Cavs v. (4) Hawks  :  Cavs in 6 (Atlanta will make it look tight, but then Lebron will chase down a Joe Johnson fast break and block his shot off the backboard so hard off glass that the ball will actually go through the backboard; who on earth will guard him in this series? Sound familiar?)

(2) Celtics v. (3) Orlando  :  Celtics in 7 (I still believe that without KG, the Celts can still take this series; Perk is the secret in this match up– he’s guarded Dwight Howard so well this year; but most importantly, Stan Van Gundy can’t out-coach Doc and the Celts bench is deeper, which will be important because games will be tight and this series should go to 7)

(1) Cavs v. (2) Celtics  :  Cavs in 6 (It doesn’t matter that KG is out– it really doesn’t; their bigs are better and Lebron is Lebron because he is really, really, really, really, really, really good)

Lakers v. Cavs  :  Cavs in 6

Lebron will remind us of those special players that not only won a regular season MVP (he must, right?) but also a Finals MVP. Lebron will also remind us of loyalty: he stuck with the Cavs, and the Cavs stuck with him. He will cry. Then everyone else on that damn team will cry because Lebron showed/said it was ok. And it will be really, really, really, really, really, really emotional, but also really, really, really, really, really, really awesome to see Lebron dethrone Kobe as the most dominant player in the game and walk away with 2 things Kobe wanted: a title and a Finals MVP (during the ‘99-’02 run, Shaq was a 3-time Finals MVP).

Great reply JonTookEm, I have the playoffs shaping up the same way with the exception of the end result.  The X factor as far fetched as this sounds is Lamar Odom.  It will not be easy but Phil will pass Red.




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