Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tripleheader Kills Time

What to do on Christmas day after eating 38 LBS of food and opening presents? How about an NBA tripleheader? One game was going to be intriguing no matter what because two of my favorite players were partaking in Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. The other two didn’t interest me much but had absolutely nothing else to do on Christmas than to take in some useless NBA games.

Miami 82 @ Cleveland 96

Shaq is not even close to the Shaq we are used to seeing. He is slow, can’t catch passes that aren’t directly into his hands, can’t jump and gets into foul trouble every game. The paint is no longer his which allows anybody to penetrate and score against the Heat which is killing them right now. D-Wade isn’t the same either. His jumper looks like my ¾ court shot and his explosiveness just isn’t there. Whether it’s his knee, his divorce battles or disinterest, the fire isn’t there. The combination of Shaq and Wade struggling leave the Heat with a bottom of the barrel team right now.

Cleveland on the other hand just go booed out of there own building less than a week ago but played good enough to beat up on terrible Heat squad. Lebron is Lebron but the rest of that team is below average. Larry Hughes is the most overrated and overpaid player the NBA has ever seen. He plays above average defense but that’s the only aspect of his game that is above average. Terrible jump shooter, below average ball handler, doesn’t pass and yet is supposed to be that teams 2nd option. That won’t cut it in this league. Varejao is much needed and it showed yesterday with all his dipsy-do type shots in the lane. He also gives them a spark they need on the defensive end and on the glass so I look for this team to rebound a little bit from here on out. They still aren’t a contender in my mind.

Phoenix 115 @ Lakers 122

This of course was going to be the most exciting game for me to watch because my favorite player in NBA history was taking the court and his name isn’t Kobe Bryant. Steve Nash is one of the most unbelievable basketball players I have ever seen especially given his size. This man does just about everything you would want in your starting PG. He distributes the ball 2nd to nobody, scores when his teammates cannot, draws the occasional charge from a guy twice his size and cheers for all his teammates more than anybody else in the league. He showed up and played well but the rest of his teammates just had an ok day which seems to happen a lot with the Suns. Until their star players (Marion, Amare) show up and play like they can and should, this team is a contender in my mind as well. Those two need to step up one part of their game immensely for this squad to have a chance and that’s on the defensive end of the court. They don’t have a true center so it will be both their jobs to defend the rim.

This Laker team has some good things going for them right now. Of course you have the best player in the league in Kobe but Odom is playing a nice roll along with Andrew Bynum. The young 7 footer is showing signs of dominance and is a force on both ends of the court which this team has been missing since Shaq’s departure. D-Fish is D-Fish and will always be steady. Trevor Ariza is a freak athlete who gives them some explosiveness on the offensive end beside Kobe and will play physical defense on any 2 or 3 guard the West has to offer. If Bynum can continue his strong play inside, Phil, Kobe and Co. has a chance to make some noise come playoff time.

Seattle 79 @ Portland 89

Seattle is very comparable to Minnesota but they have a rookie in Kevin Durant who can flat out play hoops with anybody on this planet. Yeah his shooting % isn’t great but if you watched this game you would’ve seen what kind of shots he’s forced to put up every night. The Sonics don’t have a legitimate playmaker on their team besides him so he’s left trying to score the basketball and be the distributor at the same time which is too big of a task for a rookie. He’s going to be a premiere player in this league sooner than later and will hear his name for the next 15 years barring any major injuries.

The Blazers have won 11 straight basketball games? That after going 1-9 in their previous 10 games? Another reason to why the NBA just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. What happened in their last 11 games that didn’t happen in the previous 10? The only thing I can think of is the players are actually showing up with the intent to win games. Some guys look so disinterested on a nightly basis that maybe Nate McMillan lit a fire under their ass and now have collectively decided to compete and win. I don’t know if he though it would be every night out for 11 straight but he has gotten through to them somehow. Brandon Roy is showing signs of stardom and looks like the Timberwolves traded another stud player for a guy who hasn’t touched the court this year in Randy Foye. He is the catalyst but the Blazers are getting solid play from unexpected players like: Steve Blake, Jarret Jack, Joel Pryzbilla, Martell Webster and Travis Outlaw. LaMarcus Aldridge looks to be coming into his own and establishing a nice low post presence for them when they need it. He almost has the KG-type shot where it comes behind his head but the pill goes into basket which is what counts in this game. It’s the NBA and this whole 11 game winning streak will probably be over soon and possibly turn into 11 straight losses. I don’t see either of these teams being contenders for a title this year but might be two teams we’re talking about in 5 years.

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