Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Is LeBron Better Than Jordan?

The short answer to that question is 'NO'.  Anyone who argues otherwise is someone that you shouldn't even argue with because they have no sense.  This question really has come to the forefront recently with the words from none other than Scottie Pippen, Jordan's sidekick on all 6 of the Chicago Bulls title teams.  To hear it from Scottie, he said the following:

"Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to play the game," Pippen said Friday on "Mike & Mike In The Morning" on ESPN Radio. "But I may go as far as to say LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game because he is so potent offensively that not only can he score at will but he keeps everybody involved.  "You have to be on your P's and Q's on defense. No guy on the basketball court is a threat to score with LeBron James out there. Not only will LeBron dominate from the offensive end as well, but he's also doing it on the defensive end, which really makes him the complete package. He's able to get in those passing lanes, shoot those gaps and create transition opportunities where he is pretty much unstoppable." - ESPNChicago.com

Now, the firestorm went off after that.  People act like Scottie said something bad about one of your kids.  In my opinion, Scottie was speaking his mind and he wasn't trying to usurp Jordan and his abilities.  He wasn't saying that right now, LBJ is better than Jordan, but if you listen to him, he really was saying that all the tools are there.  Personally, if Pippen would have said that LBJ is better than Mike, right now, I'd have called the Bulls myself and asked if they could drug test him immediately and I would have helped hold him down if Jordan wanted to come off the top rope (Ultimate Warrior style, RIP).  But listen again to his comments and take into consideration what he was saying.  

It should have gone something like this:  LeBron has all of the tools to be the best that ever played this game, but it's going to be up to him whether he uses all those tools and has the drive to achieve that standing.  

Maybe everyone could have slept better that way.  For now, leave Scottie alone and get off his n*$*.  He didn't say anything bad about your kid or your momma, so respect the man for his opinion.   


Monday, May 30, 2011

NBA Finals - Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat

This is the series for it all.  A rematch of the two teams from the 2006 Finals where the Heat won their first NBA Championship.  The difference this year is that these two teams are much different than the two teams that were there in 2006.  The Heat have the '3 Amigos' and this Dirk may not be beatable with the team around him.  Let's take a look at each team and I'll let you know who I'm riding with in this series. 

Dallas Mavericks:

Like I said, this Dirk may not be beatable.  Nowitzki has been on fire and he has a team with him.  Jason Kidd is reminding us that he was better than what he is now and he is playing that well right now.  Tyson Chandler has become the 'KG' of this Mavs team with not only his defense but the heart and soul of the team.  Jason Terry has played the role that was important for this team to win.  He could definitely be a starter for this team but is happy with coming off the bench and being their spark.  Throw in Shawn Marion (formerly known as the Matrix), Brendan Haywood (uggh), JJ Barea (their version of the Microwave) and you have a Mavs team that is pretty solid.  But it all comes down to Dirk.  He has the game and he's unorthodox enough to make guys feel bad when he's hitting his shots.  I do wonder how he was able to go to the line 61 times in a 5 game series against the Thunder.  Is this the year for the Mavericks?  Will we have to watch awkwardly as Mark Cuban celebrates a title? 

Miami Heat:

This is what all the hoopla was for, a chance at getting #2 for Wade and the organization and for LBJ to get his first so that he can be on his way to catching Jordan (had to throw this in, watch for a future article).  The Heat beat a very sound Bulls team and each member of the big three, with the exception of D Wade, performed great.  I've said this before, D Wade played the worst series that I've seen him play in a long time and they still won.  He's got to step up in this series for the Heat to win.  Bosh has quietly reminded people that he can play and that 20 and 10 average isn't just all about garbage time.  Mike Bibby and Chalmers are starting to play better, and hopefully Mike Miller can play better now that his daughter is out of the hospital and at home doing well.  You know that if the Heat win, people are just going to be that much more pissed? 


Mavericks - Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion.  Yes, I put Dirk down as an x-factor simply because he's been playing so great, I'm waiting for the let down.  The Heat are a good defensive team and will give him problems while rotating 3 or 4 guys on him (Haslem, Bosh, LBJ, etc.).  He's going to have to play as great as he has this entire playoffs if they have hopes of being the new king in town.  With all of the energy and effort concentrated on Dirk, Terry's going to have to play lights out.  He'll be going against the Heat's bench so he'll have opportunities to light it up.  The Heat really have no one to match up with Chandler.  He's big, mobile, and has a bit of a mean streak in him.  Chandler has to stay active and keep from picking up silly fouls.  Oh, did I mention that he's going to have to protect that paint?  Shawn Marion will be the main person guarding LBJ and he's long enough and quick enough to cause some problems.  As long as they keep LBJ on the perimeter, the Mavs are cooking with grease. 

Heat - Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, the Heat bigs, and Bibby/Chalmers.  Wade has got to step up his game and when he sees Stevenson in front of him he's got to make the Mavs pay.  Chris Bosh is going to start on Dirk and will need to cause him problems with his size.  Bosh is quick enough to guard him on the perimeter so I expect that Dirk will post him up repeatedly.  Bosh has got to play solid defense, but he's got to go at Dirk on offense.  Dirk has never been mistaken as a defensive stalwart, so make him play you.  The Heat bigs are going to get their chance guarding Dirk, so the key is to make it tough for him.  He's going to hit shots, but make them tough shots.  For the Heat point guards, they are going to have to hit shots.  I expect the Mavs to go a lot of zone in this series to test the Heat outside shooting.  When JJ Barea gets in the game, I don't care if you've never had a day working in the post, but someone should post him up, every play.   

Prediction: This should be a good series.  You got a lot of guys chasing their first title (Kidd, Chandler, LBJ, Bosh, Bibby, Marion, etc.) and a lot of them are older so this may be their only opportunity.  It's going to come down to one of them making some big plays and this is cliche, but who wants it more.  I'm scheduling a trip to Miami to experience the madness that's going to happen when they win this series.  Heat 4-2. (That's no worse than Terry getting the NBA Trophy tattooed on his arm.)

Ok, so who you got and why?  Yes, the Mavericks can win this if Dirk stays on fire, but I'm going with the 'favorites'?  You going to meet me in Miami?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Eastern Conference Finals Wrap Up - Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat

The Heat wrapped up this series winning 4-1 against the Bulls.  It was definitely exciting and we learned a lot about both teams.  Let's take a look at what went down. 


1) Derrick Rose needs help scoring the ball.  Rose did pretty much all he could and ended up playing terribly in all of the 4th quarter games in this series.  The Bulls will probably hate that they didn't acquire a 2 guard (Courtney Lee for Omer Asik) during the trade deadline and it will be harder for them to do that in the off season because they probably won't have the money to do it and if they make a trade they are going to have to give up a good piece (think Taj Gibson). 

2) Is this Duke Central?  Deng played well for the majority of this series.  He is really a compliment to a superstar (Rose) and he can play on both ends.  I am a little hesitant to say this but the Bulls have their Scottie Pippen clone.  He's finally living up to his contract.  Carlos Boozer disappointed this entire series.  He put up numbers in some of the games but if this is what $75M gets you these days then we definitely need to re-evaluate the dollar.  Boozer never put up numbers that mattered in this series (starting a run, or more importantly stopping a run) and he definitely showed his lack of desire to play defense.  Maybe it was his toe, maybe he wasn't healthy but he couldn't even get off the floor and I'm not even expecting to see him like Amare, but some athleticism would be nice.  Add in the two flagrant fouls, and this was a bad series for Boozer.  Another year like this and they will be trying to find a way to ship him out of town. 

3) I like Thibs but I think he got out coached by Pat Riley in this one (yes, Pat Riley).  Why wasn't Kurt Thomas more of a piece in this rotation?  Thomas should have gotten more minutes because he's a veteran, he can rebound, he can score, and if necessary can lay some wood on someone.  He doesn't have the height that Asik has, but name someone on the Heat's front line (a big) than can rebound with the 38 year old.

4) What happens next year?  CJ Watson had a chance to make this an opportunity for some money.  I still think the best lineup for the Bulls against this Heat team was CJ (1), Rose (2), Deng (3), Gibson (4), and Noah (5).  This team would have been small but they could run with the Heat and they can also hit shots.  The issue with this lineup is that it doesn't work if CJ isn't hitting some of those shots.


1) Maybe just maybe LBJ can shed that 'can't close' label. He showed up when the Heat needed him and closed out these Bulls.  4 straight losses for a team that hadn't lost more than 3 in a row the entire season, that's something.

2) Chris Bosh, this is the guy that the Heat needed all year long.  Bosh showed everyone (including Boozer) that if you think the Heat are the Big 2 and a pretty good 3rd, you will have some problems on your hands.  Bosh had two 30 point games in this series and basically outplayed both Gibson and Boozer.

3) This may have been the worst that I have seen D Wade play.  He really only played about 20 minutes of good basketball this entire series.  Think about that.  I'm not sure if he was hurt, or disinterested or what.  All I know is that the Mavericks team that they will be playing in the Finals is going to require that he plays up a level or two or they won't be winning many games. 

4) Mike Miller is finally coming alive.  Looks like he and Bibby actually hit some shots in this series, right when they needed to.  Miller is playing with two injured thumbs and is having problems with his shooting and Bibby's time was limited in this series because of the opponent (Rose), but with all of that said, if these guys show up and play, that makes the Heat that much harder to beat. 

Thanks again to both teams for an exciting ECF, and good luck to the Heat in the Finals. 

What was your take on the Eastern Conference Finals. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Western Conference Finals - Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

The Mavericks are coming off of vacation after destroying the Los Angeles Lakers.  The Thunder come in after a knock'em out drag'em series against the Memphis Grizzlies.  This series will be very interesting since the two predominant scorers on these teams are 6"11' and up and are mostly wing players. 

Dallas Mavericks:

Everyone will look at the resurgence of Jason Kidd and the scoring that both Dirk and 'The Jet' bring, but I think the biggest piece to this puzzle is the play of Tyson Chandler.  Chandler has given the Mavericks a much needed presence in the middle.  He's been the KG to this Dallas team.  The Mavericks are built eerily similar to the Chicago Bulls, 1 superstar and several very good role players.  This team has proven that they can win it all as they sent Kobe home for the summer.  When you add in the players on their bench to the mix you get veterans that know their roles and can fill in the gaps.  I've never been a fan of this team but they've been scary good as of late. 
Oklahoma City Thunder:

It took a helluva Game 7 for the Thunder to get here.  I personally thought that they had no chance with the size that Memphis had, but they found a way.  Westbrook had a triple double and looked great running this team while getting all of the scorers involved.  Harden finally decided to show up and be a consistent scorer, which significantly makes this team better.  The important part of that Game 7, Westbrook took 12 shots, not in the first quarter, or the first half, but the entire game. 

Mavericks - Jason Terry, JJ Barea, and Shawn Marion.  Jason Terry is on record that he wants to score more than the entire Thunder bench.  JJ Barea is mismatch anytime he's on the court, and Marion will get the opportunity to stop (or slow down) Durant.  Stevenson will have opportunities to slow down Durant but I think that Marion has the tools to do a better job.

Thunder - Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and Nick Collison.  Westbrook has to run this team.  He has to find the right middle ground of the shots taken to getting his teammates involved.  If he can play like Game 7, and not necessarilly a triple double, the Thunder have a good chance to win.  Ibaka has to figure out a way to guard Dirk and make things hard for him.  He can't let Dirk catch fire or this will be a short series.  Nick Collison will have to be a spark plug off the bench and bang against Dirk when he's on the floor guarding him.  Make Dirk play defense. 

Prediction: Should be a good series, but even with the rust from having a long layoff, the Mavs should be ready to march their way to the NBA Finals.  Mavericks 4-2.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Eastern Conference Finals - Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat

The NBA can say one thing, these playoffs have been some of the best ever.  The Chicago Bulls closed out an Atlanta Hawks team, that has underperformed for years, with several MVP worthy games by Derrick Rose.  The Miami Heat closed out a suddenly very old Boston Celtics team.  This is the series that everyone wanted to see, the '3 Amigos' Heat against the up and coming Bulls.

Chicago Bulls:

Well, the Bulls showed in Game 6 that maybe they aren't just the Derrick Rose show.  This Bulls team is built on Rose's ability to get to the basket and the team being able to play defense.  Carlos Boozer played his best game of the playoffs and it showed that if Rose and Boozer both get going, this team has it all.  I liken Rose to one or two people, a taller version of Allen Iverson or the LeBron of point guards.  Rose can score and has the quickness of AI and the offense in Chicago is built around him scoring.  Or, he just gets his points because he's just bigger, faster, and more powerful than the other point guards.  Fair assessment?  Either way, Rose will be pivotal in this matchup, but he's going to need help and that will fall on the two ex-Dukies (Boozer and Deng). 

Miami Heat:

This is what happens when you get 3 of the better/best players in the league all on one team.  The Heat exercised the demon that was the Boston Celtics with LeBron finally showing us that he can finish a game.  Yes, LBJ and Wade are wing players that need the ball in their hands to be the most effective, but in the end of the day, I don't mind either of them having the ball in their hands.  The Heat have played pretty well in these playoffs and maybe they've finally found their 'game'.  They'll be tested against a very good Bulls defensive squad and they will have to find a way to rebound and run. 


Bulls - Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer/Bench Mob guards.  Rose is going to be Rose, but he has to find a way to get his teammates involved because he can't do it himself.  Carlos Boozer is the biggest X-factor for the Bulls.  If he plays like he did in Game 6 against the Hawks, the Bulls will probably win this series.  Ronnie Brewer was brought in for his defense, and anything that he provides on that side of the ball with limiting Wade will help the Bulls a lot.  I know that the Bulls are going to rotate lots of people on Wade, but playing Bogans more than 5 minutes a game in this one is going to be dangerous.  If Wade looks up and sees Korver on him, he might get 50. 

Heat - Chris Bosh, the Heat bigs, and Bibby/Chalmers.  Bosh has got to play ball for this to go well for the Heat.  Boozer has power over him but I am sure that he can exploit Boozer off the dribble.  The issue is going to be Taj Gibson, because he matches up better against Bosh than Boozer does.  He's quick, can rebound well, and he's been ballin as of late.  The Heat bigs are going to have to keep Noah, Asik, Gibson, and Kurt Thomas off the boards.  The more rebounds the bigs get, the faster they can get out and run and test this Bulls defense.  Bibby and Chalmers have to form a combo that will give Rose fits.  Chalmers has the quicks, but Bibby has the smarts and the shooting.  They both are going to have to maximize their talents to make this easier on the Big 3. 

Prediction: This is for the opportunity to represent the East in the NBA Finals.  I imagine that this will be as exciting as the rest of the playoffs have been.  People are saying that the Bulls don't have a chance, but I think they have as good a chance as anyone.  When it comes down to it, who do you think will get more calls?  LBJ/Wade or Rose?  I go with the Heat tandem.  Heat 4-2.
Side note: Thanks to my father-in-law, we'll get to see Game 2 in Chicago.  I'll see what kind of pictures I can get, but I expect it to be outrageous since the Bulls haven't had excitement like this since the Jordan years.  So, thanks again to my father-in-law.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Western Conference Playoffs Round 2 - Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies

The Thunder come into this series having beat the Nuggets with a great closing game performance by Kevin Durant and the Grizzlies come in with an upset win over the #1 seeded San Antonio Spurs.  The more and more I think of this, the got hosed in their playoff seeding.  They are getting all of the good teams. 

Oklahoma City Thunder:

Durant and Westbrook,...where's the help?  I've been waiting on Harden.  Ibaka showed his usefulness with his defensive performance against the Nuggets.  He was swatting every shot that was thrown up.  This team needs a third scorer so that Westbrook can cut back on some of his forced shots.  It's going to be more important in this series that the Thunder play defense, because I'm sure that they have enough offense to matchup with the Grizzlies and their deep bench. 

Memphis Grizzlies:

Well you upset the #1 seed and now you get, arguably, the second best team in the West (Lakers being the best team in the West).  This Grizzlies team woke up and learned a lot in that series against the Spurs.  They learned from their Game 5 that they really have to put their foot on their competitions necks to finish series.  The Grizzlies bench played well, but this team was led by Randolph and Gasol.  (Just as a note, this trip to the playoffs doesn't in anyway validate the trade that the Grizzlies participated in to get Gasol).  Randolph was unstoppable and I guess that's what that $70M extension does for him.  Gasol didn't have the numbers that Randolph had but he caused Tim Duncan problems in the paint and effectively took him out of the series.  The bench was led by Darrell Arthur who seemed to hit every 17 foot jumper that he took.  If he keeps this up with the play that they got from Vasquez and the rest of the bench, it's going to be tough sledding for the Thunder.   


Thunder - Russell Westbrook and James Harden.  Westbrook has got to run this team on a consistent basis and no do another Game #4 (30 shots, 30 points).  He's gotta find the shooters on the team and hit those jumpers in the lane.  Yes, He's Derrick Rose-light, so he's gotta play that way.  James Harden HAS got to be that 3rd scorer for this team.  Memphis is deep and they are going to need points off the bench. 

Grizzlies - Greivas Vasquez and Sam Young/Tony Allen.  Greivas is the man coming off the bench and backing up Conley.  If you watched him play at Maryland, you know what he can do.  The fact that he's doing it on a consistent basis, great!  Sam Young/Tony Allen, these guys should draw the defensive assignment of stopping, well sowing down Kevin Durant.  If they can do a decent job of this, the Grizzlies advance. 

Prediction: I want to see a Lakers/Thunder Western Conference Final and the NBA has done all it can to put that in doubt.  The Grizzlies are coming off a great series win and I'm still trying to figure out their weakness.  They are long, athletic, and can control the paint.  What else do you need?  Hollins (coach) has been there as a player and won, but is he as a coach that missing piece?  As much as I want the Thunder to win, I'm liking this Grizzlies team more and more.  Grizzlies 4-3.