In a quiet night in the NBA, we saw the Miami heat and San Antonio Spurs send a message to the rest of the league. That message was: Watch out because here we come! Last night the Spurs handily beat the Los Angeles Clippers on the road by 26 points! The Clippers, like the Knicks, might have physically been on the court last night but mentally they were still on vacation. Both the Spurs and the Heat are hitting their stride at the right time. There is just under two months left in the season, and it is the perfect time to gain some momentum and carry it into the playoffs. The Spurs have the best record in the NBA (44-12) by four games, and they have won 16 of their last 17 games. So much for getting old huh? The Spurs always seem to quietly plug along and put up consistently good numbers. At this point, I think we can all agree that Gregg Popovich is the best coach of this era. Was this a statement game or did the Clippers just take a night off? Will the Spurs hold up come playoff time (unlike last year)? I believe the Spurs are great, but I think they will meet a different Clippers team come playoff time. And let’s not forget how impressive of a season Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder are having. Durant’s season is spectacular and is being wildly overshadowed by Lebron James’ performances. When you get a chance, take a look at Durant’s numbers so far this season, and then take a look at a guy’s statistics in his prime that you may have heard of (A Mr. Larry Bird). Eerily similar aren’t they? With that being said, the Miami Heat certainly look like a championship caliber team, again. Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and the Heat made the Chicago Bulls look like a Junior Varsity squad last night. The Bulls only scored 32 points in the 2nd half of a very sloppy performance. The heat did what they had to do and cruised to an 86-67 victory. The Heat are playing great basketball right now (winners of their last nine games). I believe if Dwayne Wade can remain healthy that the Heat will represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals this season. Will they win the championship again this year? At this point, I think they will (even though I hope they don’t), however only time will tell. We are heading towards the best time of the year in sports. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!
It’s definitely better than the Pro Bowl, but the NBA’s All-Star Weekend is no slam dunk
Come Thursday night, the NBA will wind down the first half of the season with two thrillers. First, you will have a rematch of the NBA Finals from last season as Miami travels to Oklahoma City(and this could very well be a preview of this year’s finals as well), and then you will have a showdown in the city of angels. The Clippers will try to continue their winning ways against their cross building rivals(get it, I said cross building instead of cross town because they play in the same arena, well at least I thought it was funny), the Lakers. Once the final buzzer sounds on that contest, it’s off to Houston for the 2013 All-Star Weekend festivities. Now I know that the All-Star Game’s TV ratings have been climbing the past couple of years, until last year(“hey, let’s put the All-Star Game on TV at the same time as the Oscars!!” “Good idea!!”, said the two employees who were surely fired as soon as the ratings came out). However, I believe the NBA is not maximizing it’s potential throughout the entire weekend.
The game itself is not what I have a problem with. You can’t make superstars try in a game that is solely meant to be an honor. The game gets good enough ratings as is, and I still tune in because basketball is fun to watch when the score is 184-179. You get to watch the NBA’s elite throw alley oops to each other, and in the off chance that the game is close down the stretch they do actually try. The one problem that I have with the game is actually the voting process. This game is meant to showcase the leagues best players. It is not meant to be a popularity contest. I understand why the NBA allows fans to vote but it ruins the integrity of All-Star appearances. Think about it. When the talking heads debate whether or not someone is a hall of famer don’t they always bring up how many All-Star teams they’ve been on? How are you going to tell me that Joe Schmo from his couch, who doesn’t even know the first thing about basketball(he has heard of Kevin Garnett though), should have any say in who gets in the hall of fame? Most people would probably say, “you’re overreacting, it’s just the All-Star game.” That’s my point. This weekend should matter. It should be an honor for the best players in the league to say, “I’m an All-Star.” I think the NBA should allow a combination of the coaches and hall of fame committees to vote on All-Star appearances. If the committees aren’t willing to get involved with active players then the NBA should decide on a collection of well respected basketball journalists to vote on the All-Star game.
The biggest problem I have with this weekend is what happens on Saturday. These days, the slam dunk contest is essentially a joke. Remember when the slam dunk contest used to mean something? And it was more exciting then the game itself? Yeah, me too. But those days are long gone. One of my most vivid memories of any All-Star game is Vince Carter’s spectacular dunk fest of 2000. Carter threw down one unbelievable dunk after another, putting together a highlight reel for the ages. If you ask me, that is still the single greatest slam dunk performance of all time. No offense Mr. Jordan, but I’m sure you were watching the beginning of Vinsanity too. Anyone remember who assisted Carter in that slam dunk contest?? No peaking at the video, that’s cheating. Yes, it was a young Tracy Mcgrady. The most memorable moments in slam dunk history are definitely Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins in the 80’s battling it out for the title of slam dunk champion. That concept seems laughable now a days, and that’s what has me steaming mad. Michael Jordan was the best player in the NBA every time he competed in the slam dunk contest(hell, he was the best player whenever he did anything). Fans also got to see greats like Clyde Drexler and Scottie Pippen perform once upon a time. That is what the fans want to see today. They want the best players in the league to battle it out like the slam dunk contest still means something. You have to be an avid basketball fan to even know who the competitors are in this years contest. No offense to the guys competing, but are you tuning in to watch Terrence Ross? Nope, didn’t think so. Lebron James and the rest of the superstars of the league are doing the NBA a disservice by not competing. They are only hurting themselves and their brand by not putting together the best show possible at a star studded weekend. I mean, it’s not like any of the guys we want to see would be inconvenienced by competing. They are already going to be in Houston. Instead of tweeting little jokes to cause a stir about possibly maybe hopefully competing in the dunk contest(what a subtle way to get attention buddy), Lebron should come on TV and emphatically say, “I’m going to bring the dunk contest back to life by competing in it and winning it!” If he did that and implored other superstar dunkers like Russell Westbrook to compete, everyone else would follow suit. Listen I’ll still be watching all the events this weekend, including New York Knick James White in the dunk contest, but don’t tell me you wouldn’t rather see Lebron do a 720 dunk or watch him dunk from the 3-point line. Insert haha here…
Here’s the slam dunk roster I would like to see:
Lebron James, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, J.R. Smith, Javele McGee, and Josh Smith
Now tell me you wouldn’t tune in to watch that!
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Who knew Carmelo Anthony’s kryptonite was Grant Hill???
The Knicks weaknesses were highlighted very brightly in their loss to the Clippers on Sunday. We saw how bad the Knicks are in defending quick point guards. We saw how being out-rebounded by a taller front line effects the outcome of the game. And, if they don’t play team defense for 48 straight minutes they can’t beat good teams. Chris Paul has missed some action this season, but today was a prime example as to why he is just as valuable to his team as anyone in the league. Don’t be surprised when his name is in the mix for MVP with Lebron, Durant, and Melo. Carmelo Anthony as usual was fantastic, but when it mattered most he was shut down by the 40 year old Grant Hill. This goes to show you that if the Knicks don’t get production from JR Smith or Amare Stoudemire, they have a very hard time out scoring solid offensive teams. Raymond Felton played a solid game and continues to be a great orchestrator for the offense when Melo isn’t going one-on-one in isolation. One of the Knicks bright spots this season has been their depth and outstanding bench play. Today they were completely outmatched by the Clippers Bench. Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford were too much for the Knicks to handle combining for 40 points(on 18-28 shooting). JR Smith and Amare Stoudemire usually bring instant offense off the bench, but today were nonexistent scoring a combined 15 points(on 5 of 18 shooting). A game like this against a top tier team in the NBA is sure to bring about a lot of questions about the Knicks. Are they as good as their record would indicate? Can they realistically make a run at a title the way their roster is built? These are all valid questions, and I think the answer can be yes to both of those questions but a lot of things would need to fall perfectly into place. The Knicks would need the entire roster to shoot lights out at the same time. The Knicks live and die by the three, and they would need to stay lights out from behind the arc while out scoring the opposition. I’d think this franchise learned from the Mike D’antoni era that you don’t win titles by trying to run up the score. Now in no way shape or form am I comparing Mike Woodson to mike D’antoni. Woodson is a defensive minded coach, but he needs some bigger bodies down low if he wants to succeed NOW. The other question that is being raised is whether the Knicks should look to make a trade for a low post presence? I definitely think they should do that but it all depends on what they would need to give up. If they can add a power forward who’s strengths are defense and rebounding without having to give up one of their top 5 players, they would be primed for a title run. The Knicks will look to get back to their winning ways Wednesday night @ 7:30 P.M. against the Toronto Raptors. This is their final game before the All-Star break.
Let It Snow….As Long as My Cable Doesn’t Go Out I’m Good
Snowed in this weekend?? No problem. Here’s what’s on TV to keep you company:
(MSG)Friday @ 8:00 P.M – Knicks @ Timberwolves
Being a big Knicks fan, I will definitely be watching this game. As I highlighted in my previous post, I believe the Knicks are going to blow out the Timberwolves coming off a bad loss. I’d look for something else to watch by 9:30. This game should help the Knicks get back to their winning ways and carry some momentum into their tough match-up with the Clippers this Sunday.
(ESPN)Friday @ 8:00 P.M. – Clippers @ Heat
Here you have a battle of East vs. West. Two of the premier teams in the NBA meet in a mid-season showdown. Even though the Heat sit atop the East and the Clippers are currently in 3rd in the West, they actually have a better record than the Heat by 2.5 games. This game should come down to the wire, so you might want to switch over from MSG once the Knicks game gets out of hand. I like the Heat in a close game, but they don’t win because Lebron hits a last second shot(as usual). They win because Lebron puts his team in front by about 5 early in the 4th, and they sustain the lead throughout the rest of the game.
(ESPN)Saturday @ 6:00 P.M. – Pittsburgh(23) @ Cincinnati(17)
This is the first of of 3 match-ups between college basketball’s top 25 teams this weekend. A Big East match-up between two solid teams. Pittsburgh is currently tied for 5th in the Big East with a 7-4 record in conference and 19-5 overall. Cincinnati is currently tied for 6th in the Big East with a record of 6-4 in conference and 18-5 overall. Cincinnati won their last meeting(70-61) in Pittsburgh on New Years Eve, so Pittsburgh will be looking for revenge tomorrow night. Shovel Snow or watch college basketball?? Hmmmmmm. Enjoy!
(ESPN)Saturday @ 9:00 P.M. – Louisville(11) @ Notre Dame(25)
Here you have your second of the 3 top 25 match-ups this weekend. Louisville is currently in 2nd place in the Big East with a record of 7-3 in conference and 19-4 overall. Notre Dame is currently tied for 6th in the Big east with a record of 6-4 and 18-5 overall. Big East battles are always tough to predict, but I like Louisville on the road in this one.
(CBS)Sunday @ 1:00 P.M. – Indiana(1) @ Ohio State(10)
Finally, you have the third of 3 top 25 match-ups this weekend. Indiana is currently tied for 1st in the Big Ten with a record of 8-2 in conference and 20-3 overall. Ohio State is currently tied for 2nd in the Big Ten and 17-5 overall. This should be a tough conference battle. You’ll have Indiana looking to bounce back from a buzzer beating loss to Illinois last night. What a tough way to lose! In case you didn’t watch it, Indiana had the ball tied at 72 looking to take the last shot. If they make it they win if not no big deal, they’ll go to overtime. What happens? They turn the ball over with about 4 seconds to go. Illinois drives down for a last second shot that gets blocked out of bounds wit 0.9 seconds on the clock. Then what happens??? Illinois makes a game winning buzzer beating layup to win 74-72. Now that is a heartbreaking loss. Ohio State is also coming off a tough overtime loss to Michigan this past Tuesday. Look for a closely contested ballgame. I do like Indiana in this one in a down to the wire 3 point victory.
Enjoy the snow!! It’s the weekend, and if you have kids take them out in the snow once the storm passes and have fun with them. If you don’t have kids go outside and act like one. Most importantly, everyone stay safe out there!! And for the love of god please stop lining up down the block for gas 2 days before a little snow is coming to town. I get that it’s better to be safe than sorry, but if you happen to get 2 feet of snow this weekend you’re not going anywhere anyway!! Just make sure you have a little bit of food and water in the house. A flashlight or candle wouldn’t be a bad idea either just in case we lose power, since it should be pretty windy. Have a nice weekend everyone!!