Monday, April 25, 2005

Playoff Chatter

Nuggets big and small
gave the Spurs trouble
Use this thread to post comments on the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Just click on the "comment" button below to break down all the upsets, bricks, horrible officiating, and Ben Gordon 30-point performances.

To get things started, here are some thoughts on each of the eight first round matchups:

Phoenix-Memphis. The Suns rolled in game one despite a lackluster game from Amare. That's a good sign. The one thing I took away from this game is that Joe Johnson should be a rich man this summer. A restricted free agent, he could be the perfect running mate for LeBron in Cleveland or a nice building block in a place like Charlotte or Atlanta. Even Denver has some cash to throw around a glaring need for an elite two guard. He's the one guy on the Suns that can create his own shot from anywhere on the floor and he's their best defender. Watch his stock go through the roof over the next few months.

Denver and San Antonio. I'm not a believer in the Spurs this year, but I certainly wasn't a believer in the Nuggets either. One of those stances has changed. In my Playoff preview column I stated that Andre Miller could be the X-Factor if he took Parker into the lane, and he did that to the tune of 24 first-half points. Parker may be improved and lightening quick but let's not forget that he's still French. Bully him and he's sure to surrender. I think the battle-tested Spurs can and will still win this series (if for no other reason than the fact that Duncan will get every call from here on out), but it's going to be a tough task with the likes of Camby, Nene, and K-Mart challenging every shot. When you consider that San Antonio got a shocking 15 points, 15 board, and 4 block performance from Nazr Mohammed and STILL lost ... well, that's not a great sign.

Seattle and Sacramento. What a horrible game to watch. The Sonics got four million offensive rebounds, a career night from Jerome James, and watched Mike Bibby launch one airball after another on his way to a 1-for-16 shooting night. Hard to imagine that happening every night in this series. I still think the Kings will get their act together and beat Seattle.

Rockets and Mavs. No LeBron, no KG, and no Kobe in the playoffs this year. No worries, we've got T-Mac, who is out to stake a renewed claim as one of the league's dominant players. The most impressive thing about this game was the way McGrady shut down Dirk on about 10 different occasions. Tracy playing defense? Yup.

Miami and New Jersey. Yawn. Bring something, Nets. The best thing about this game was the Damon Jones Show in the postgame press conference. Hilarious.

Detroit and Philadelphia. For about 16 minutes, it looked like the Sixers really did have the Pistons' numbers, but then Rasheed remembered that he's sweet and it was all over. If Wallace plays like that for the next two months, Detroit will repeat. Never saw that coming.

Boston and Indiana. The Pacers were the biggest disappointment over the first weekend. What an awful performance. Look for Jermaine and Reggie to play much better and for Raef to shoot a little less than 100% from three-point land in Game Two. I'm not giving up on the Pacers either.

Chicago and Washington. The most entertaining game so far. Ben Gordon continues to amaze, Kirk Hinrich made huge plays, and Tyson Chandler completely changed the game when he was able to stay on the floor for the fourth quarter. When you consider that Larry Hughes played flawlessly for most of the game and the Bulls got some of the worst officiating this side of North Carolina-Villanova, things look good for Scott Skiles and company. Then again, Gilbert Arenas isn't going to shoot 3-for-19 every night and Nocioni is not going to morph into KG every night (25 and 18) either. This is a series to watch.

(Other highlights coming out of that Bulls victory: listening to Nocioni talk in the locker room, Eddie Jordan saying that Nocioni was "more hungrier" on the glass, and Charles Barkley saying that the Chicago win was even more impressive because "Dong" wasn't available.

Be sure to weigh in with your thoughts as the playoffs roll on.


Anonymous said...

Damon Jones - genius! That was the best press conference in recent memory.

Mark in D.C. said...

No way the Bulls win this series. They played as well as they can and the Wizards played some of their worst ball. This is a mismatch. Enjoy it while it lasts, Chicago!

Terrance said...

The only series worth watching is Denver and San Antonio. The winner is going to win the West. If the Nugs had a three point shooter or two, they'd win the whole thing.

Jack Wang said...

Memphis will keep the next game close, and might steal one from the Suns. Other than the first quarter, the Grizz kept it close every quarter after that. Plus Steven Hunter goes back to being a crappy player.

Speaking of going back to being a crappy player, Nazr Mohammed has his good game for the month. 6 points 6 boards next game.

Besides T-Mac being absolutely indefensible, Dallas can't score if Dirk doesn't hit his shots. Michael Finley's game is quickly looking old, catching up to his face, which looks like an old catcher's mitt.

When did Damon Jones turn into Raef LaFrentz?

Pistons are a better team than they were last year. Winning by 21 after being down by 19, they were making it look easy. Philly, on the other hand, probably won't win by solely running the ol' "steal the ball and dunk it" play.

My thoughts on Sacramento: I hate Sacramento. And there's no way that Mike Bibby is black.

P. (Memphis Fan) said...

When is Jerry West going to freaking do something? Every year we have a deep team with a ton of talent but no studs to carry us to a high seed or a playoff series victory. What is he waiting for?

Adam Hoff said...

The Grizzlies do need to make a move. They have depth, flexibility to work within the cap, and plenty of attractive players. They probably can't move Watson, because he's going to sign elsewhere this summer, but everyone else can be included in a trade.

I think they need to get a superstar. While any 3-for-2 or 2-for-1 consolidation of talent will help, this team needs someone to become the face of the franchise and emerge as a go-to player down the stretch of big games. Gasol is a skilled scorer on the block, but he doesn't seem to have the eye of the tiger. My favorite trade is to take advantage of the implosion in Minnesota and make a move for KG. The Wolves might need to blow things up and Garnett has been rumored to be thinking about asking for a trade. I think of the Grizzlies offered Gasol, Jason Williams, Stromile Swift, and Bonzi Wells for Garnett and Sam Cassell, the Wolves might have to consider it. It's a high price to pay for the Griz, but the chance to have KG man the middle is too much to pass up. Cassell is not the right guy to lead this team, but his contract is up in a year and would allow them to bring in a point guard in '06. They would still be left with Mike Miller, Shane Battier, and Lorenzen Wright in the starting lineup, with the likes of James Posey, Brian Cardinal, and Dohntay Jones off the bench. They could use their exception to sign another big man and a backup point guard.

Jeff Dritz said...

Give the Bulls a bit more credit. True, they probably aren't going to get consistently amazing performances from Andres "KG" Nocioni, but they might get 30 per from Ben Gordon.

Moreover, the Bulls play a gritty, hard-nosed defense that will keep them close late into games, at which point the mild-mannered Gordon steps out of a telephone booth as Michael Jordan, only with a better golf handicap (rumor is, after he hit that game-winner against the Knicks last week, he wiped his face on a towel, and the impression won't wash off).

While we can't expect Gilbert Arenas to shoot 3-for-infiniti in every game, the Bulls' D will keep him to a low percentage all series. And don't forget, the Bulls managed to pull out a W despite Tyson Chandler and Othella Harrington being limited to 34 minutes combined because of foul trouble.

Finally, a lot has been made about the Bulls being very young and inexperienced, but this isn't necessarily true. Yes, these young Bulls don't have much experience in the NBA playoffs, but they won't be nervous, as many of them have played in big games before. Ben Gordon, Chris Duhon, and Kirk Hinrich all played in the NCAA national championship game, and Andres Nocioni played in the Gold Medal game of the Olympics.

We saw last night that they're not afraid of the bright lights of the playoffs, and are not intimidated by the highly-regarded backcourt tandem of Arenas and Hughes. These young Bulls are confident, and I expect their D will carry them to a victory in 7. Now, the second round against Miami is another story.

Adam Hoff said...

Indiana and Boston are locked up at 64 with 2:39 in the third quarter. The Pacers appear to have little to no shot at winning this series with Jermaine playing with only one arm. However, if they want to have ANY chance, they need to get Jeff Foster off the court, stat. He can't score or stay with 'Toine and now he can't get a rebound to save his life. For a guy that is out there for his rebounding, this is not a good sign. I feel bad for Indiana.

Adam Hoff said...

Quick thoughts on an exciting Houston-Dallas game that the Rockets lead 60-56 at the half:

I love Josh Howard. He's one of the most underrated players in the league and I can't figure out why Avery doesn't leave him on the court the entire game.

T-Mac has crossed the line from a "great player" to a "winning player." At least that's what Doug Collins has told us about 45 times. In all seriousness though, McGrady is the man. He might be the most dominant swingman in the postseason with LeBron and Kobe sitting at home and Vince Carter ineligible to receive any praise from me, ever.

Yao has 23 points and has only missed one shot (8-9 from the field, 7-7 from the line). I guess we can put the "Mutombo is better" stuff to rest.

Devin Harris is one of many NBA player to show off their crying skills early in the playoffs. What a baby. He has incredibly quick hands though.

I honestly believe that the Mavs would be a legit Finals contender if they hadn't traded for Keith Van Horn. He's horrible. Not only that, but he came over and messed up the rotation, sending matchup nightmare Marquis Daniels to the bench. If Dallas would just put the 75-year old Finley and the SPF 40 Master, Van Horn on ice, they could run an athletic lineup of Terry-Daniels-Howard-Dirk-Dampier with Stackhouse getting all the minutes off the bench. That would be a far more difficult team for the Rockets to stop.

Reed said...

T-Mac as the #5 MVP candidate? Might have been a little LOW. WHo would have thought. Good job for even including him in the discussion.

Branden Higa said...

I think the Nugs would be a perfect fit for you TJ, you like to shoot threes and judging from all the dubble-dubs you dropped this year, you can definately out rebound Voshon Lenard. Then all you have to do is get more blocks than Earl Boykins and you should have all the PT you can handle.

Branden Higa said...

Oh yeah, and in case anyhone missed it. T-Mac had the most ruthless dunk ever over Shaun Bradley. he rode him like a pony.