Friday, June 27, 2008

Rose smells nice for Bulls

So, no major suprises - draft position wise - last night. The top dozen or so picks went pretty much as expected.
PG Derrick Rose went first overall to Chicago and then Miami did end up taking F Michael Beasley second. Heat President, Pat Riley said all the right things about wanting Beasley all along afterwards, but you get the feeling that Miami's off season wheeling and dealing has only just begun.
  • New Jersey and Milwaukee completed a trade which sent F Richard Jefferson to the Bucks in exchange for F Yi Jianlian and F Bobby Simmons. A good deal for both teams.
  • It will be interesting to see if Nets GM Rod Thorn completely cleans house now and deals G/F Vince Carter. Vince will always fill stadiums with fans still hoping to see some highlight-reel dunks, but his biggest problem is that he hasn't developed into the leader that everyone hoped for. Vince plays like he's always got a little bit left in the tank.
  • There were a few trades throughout the night. The biggest came in the wee hours when Minnesota sent G OJ Mayo (3rd pick) to Memphis for F Kevin Love (5th pick) and G/F Mike Miller. There was a few other bits & pieces thrown in but those 3 guys were the main components. If this works out for Mayo like it did when T'Wolves GM Kevin McHale traded Brandon Roy for Randy Foye 2 years ago, then OJ will be very excited by this move ! Randy Foye has spent most of his first two seasons injured while Brandon Roy became an NBA All-Star in his sophmore season. OJ Mayo now joins F Rudy Gay and PG Mike Conley in Memphis which should improve the Grizzlies immediately.
  • The Indiana Pacers acquired another PG last night when they picked up PG Jarret Jack, SG Brandon Rush(13th pick) and F Josh McRoberts from Portland for F Ike Diogu and PG Jerryd Bayless(11th pick). Last years' PG Jamaal Tinsley is done in Indiana but GM Larry Bird hasn't yet found a home for Tinsley but expect something to happen soon.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hold on to your hats !

Here we go folks, the 2008 NBA draft is set to go tonight at 7.30pm Eastern.
There is already one deal done and by all accounts, several more moves will be made before and during the draft.
  • In a developing story, the NJ Nets have agreed in principle to trade Richard Jefferson to Milwaukee for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons. Yi's representatives will be delighted with this move as it will expose Yi to a much larger market, closer to NYC. This trade could now lead to Vince Carter being traded as the Nets look to clean house. Nets GM Rod Thorn was shopping VC at the trade deadline last season but found no takers.
  • New York Knicks GM Donnie Walsh is desperately trying to work something to grab USC G - OJ Mayo. This figures to be quite difficult at the moment as the Knicks currently sit with sixth pick but Mayo will not be on the board by then. The only way Walsh will land him is by trading up to at least third and even then, Mayo might already be gone. Walsh is rumoured to be shopping David Lee as bait and the 6th pick.
  • Minnesota currently has the 3rd pick tonight. If Rose and Beasley do go 1 & 2, then even Kevin McHale can't get this wrong and take Mayo. It's being reported though that McHale is a big fan of UCLA F - Kevin Love.
  • The Toronto Raptors have agreed in principle to send TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic and the 17th pick in tonight's draft to Indiana for Jermaine O'Neal. The deal can't become official until July 1st at the earliest due to TJ Fords contract. So, barring any cold feet, the deal is done. If Jermaine can stay healthy - and that's a big IF - then it's a great deal for Toronto. If he continues to spend a lot of time on the IL, then it's going to be hard for him to have any real impact on the team.
  • TJ going to Indiana means that Larry Bird will be looking to move Jamaal Tinsely pretty soon. There's no doubting that TJ is a quality starting point guard in the league, but he displayed a petulant, selfish attitude in his last few months in Toronto.
  • The Raptors will still pick at #17 tonight, but it will on behalf of Indiana.
  • Don't be surprised to see Bryan Colangelo try to work something else before tonight to keep Toronto involved.
  • Expect the Miami Heat to try to trade the number 2 pick at some stage today. They really don't want to take Kansas PF Michael Beasley as their most important need is for a PG. Pat Riley doesn't seem to have found a team willing to deal with him. His offer to Memphis for Mike Conley was absurd.
  • If the Heat can't swing something today, don't be surprised to see them take OJ Mayo instead of Beasley and then Riley might continue to work a trade in the next few days.

check back later for more updates throughout the day

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Chicago Bulls are on the clock

With only two more days to go until the NBA Draft for 2008, the rumour mill now kicks into overdrive. Sorting the fact from fiction really isn't too hard because most things we hear is just newsreel fillers but it's always fun to hypothesize over what's being said.
  • ESPN's Chad Ford is reporting that Miami is looking to trade away the Number 2 pick in the draft in order to land a top quality point guard and still have a high draft pick further down. I doubt it happens but the Raptors and the Heat could work a deal involving TJ Ford & Nesterovic for Shawn Marion. This would address Miami's point guard situation while giving the Raptors are quality defender who can rebound aswell. Marion isn't a great offensive force in that he can't create his own shot, but he is so athletic that he gets lots of tip-ins, alley-oops and put-backs that it wouldn't be a huge problem. With only one year left on his contract, it looks like it would be a good fit for Toronto. You're welcome Bryan!
  • The TJ Ford & Rasho Nesterovic for Jermaine O'Neal deal seems to have lost momentum, numerous sources are reporting that neither team wants to take a risk on the incoming players' injury ! I doubt that this deal is dead in the water though but as it stands right now, TJ's contract means that he can't be traded before July 1st anyway. We might get a hint if it is still alive tomorrow night because if the Raptors still have their pick(slated to be 17th right now), it might be taken on behalf of the Pacers'. We'll see.
  • Shawn Marion elected not to opt out of the final year of his contract. He and the Miami Heat couldn't agree on an extension. I will say right now that Marion will not be with the Heat for the full season as his expiring contract will be in high-demand for clubs looking to clear cap space. Marion is one of the most versatile players in the league, but he will be sought after more this season as a financial commodity rather than for one of his many on court talents.
  • Miami have reportedly tried to grab Mike Conley and the 5th pick from the Memphis Grizzlies for the 2nd pick. This suggests that Miami expect Derrick Rose to be taken first by the Bulls. The Heat desperately need a quality PG so it's understandable that they want Conley. The Grizz would be mad to trade him though, he had abit of an injury riddled rookie season, but expect big things from Conley this season.
  • Baron Davis isn't opting out of the final year of his contract either. B-Diddy is a big-time player but he, like Marion could find himself with a new team before the end of this season. A report out of Detroit is saying that the Pistons are interested. I'm not sure he quite fits the Pistons style of play but there are ever growing rumblings that Joe Dumars is shopping Chauncey Billups.

more info to follow later in the day

Monday, June 23, 2008

Who will go where ?

With the NBA draft set to go on Thursday night, we're going to hear all sorts of trade scenario's between now and then. Some will be reasonable and probably have been talked about between GM's, but most will just be wild rumours ignited by agents and er, random NBA blog sites. Some notes:
  • An early rumour which sounds legit for many reasons concerns the Raptors primarily sending TJ Ford & Rasho Nesterovic to Indiana for Jermaine O'Neal. A few other minor players would have to be added to make this trade work under the NBA's rules. Jermaine's knee's aren't the most reliable in the world but TJ will always carry something of a risk with his spine/back related injuries. TJ really played his way out of Toronto last season and it's time for Indiana and Jermaine to go their separate ways. If Jermaine remains healthy and returns to the player he was a couple of seasons ago, the Raptors will have a front line of Bosh, O'Neal and Bargnani/Moon which threatens to be a very difficult match up. It would be a huge financial commitment by the Raptors as O'Neal is owed $44m over the next two years. Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo's record tells us that normally he doesn't gamble with such heavy contracts so we'll have to wait and see what happens here......any news will be immediately updated here.
  • The general consensus appears to be that Memphis PG Derrick Rose will be taken first overall by Chicago, with Kansas St PF Michael Beasley going to Miami second. If this proves to be correct, then a reasonable guess would be that the Bulls are planning on trading Kirk Hinrich or making some such move. Cap'n Kirk had a very disappointing season but then again the Bulls were very bad this year.
  • After that it becomes a complete lottery really, not the players themselves as such, but more the scenario's and possibilities, so we won't try to list every possible selection from there because who knows what will happen.
  • The one prospect that is very intriguing is Italian SF Danilo Gallinari. Listed at 6'9, he's reportedly got excellent ball handling skills. Last year another Italian was highly touted - Marco Belinelli but his rookie season in Golden State wasn't great. The Warriors are probably the hardest team for a rookie to play for though with Don Nelson's unique style of coaching.
  • According to Carmelo Anthony's agent, Calvin Andrews, the Denver Nuggets have vowed not to trade 'Melo this season.....I hope this is not like when a GM assures a coach that his job is safe only for him to sacked a day or so later. I wouldn't be totally surprised to see the Nuggets trade him though, Anthony is a capable scorer but a lazy defender and he hasn't been able to lift his game dramatically in the playoffs.
  • Allen Iverson wisely decided not to opt out of the final year of his contract. AI is one of the toughest, hardest players in the league who gives it his all, but it's unlikely anyone will pay him $20m a year again, especially for another 5 years or so.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The challenge for the Celtics now is to become truly great

The Boston Celtics once again sit atop the basketball world. On Tuesday night, they humiliated the LA Lakers 131-92 to win the best-of-seven NBA Finals series four games to two.

The victory gave Boston its seventeenth NBA championship. No team has won more.

Winning the title this season capped a remarkable turnaround. After not making the playoffs at all in 06/07 and winning only 24 regular season games, the Celtics won 66 games this year on route to their first appearance in the NBA Finals since 1987.

The 42-game spike in regular season wins was the most ever by a team from one season to the next in NBA history.

The change in fortune didn’t come as a huge surprise to basketball followers. Last summer, GM Danny Ainge glowed as he announced that the Celtics had acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to play alongside the teams restless All-Star, Paul Pierce.

Ainge still had work to do though. He knew that as good as Garnett, Pierce and Allen were, they wouldn’t be able to win it all by playing 3-on-5 basketball, they’d still need help.

However, it would now be easier for Ainge to entice the much needed role players to compliment Boston’s new ‘Big 3’. He correctly assumed that there would be no shortage of veteran players who could be lured by the opportunity to play for a championship ring immediately.

This offer would likely outweigh the chance of making a few extra dollars these players might get elsewhere.

It didn’t take a basketball genius to figure out that Boston was obviously going to become a much better team, very quickly. Still, not everyone was convinced that the Celtics would return to the Promised Land of the NBA straight away.

So where does this 2008 Boston Celtics team rank? After one championship win, it’s far too soon to immediately elevate this team to the same status as legendary Celtics teams and players of years gone by.

As a proud basketball franchise, the Boston Celtics have a long history of winning and boast some of the most well-known players and teams ever in the NBA.

Most recently was the 1980’s squad which featured the original ‘Big 3’. The trio of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish appeared in five NBA Finals series, winning three of them.

Going back a little further and for a while in the late 1950’s and early 60’s, during Bill Russell’s time, the city of Boston got used to celebrating NBA championships like it was their own summertime event. Russell won an incredible 11 titles in only 13 seasons in as a member of the Celtics.

Those glory days came to a complete halt in the 1990’s and the early part of this decade, but they might be on the way back.

These Celtics now need to create their own history. Winning one championship means that Garnett, Allen and Pierce at least won’t join the long list of great players who never won the NBA’s ultimate prize.

After watching Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls deny players such as Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley (to name a few) even one championship while his airness hogged six, it showed that no matter how good an individual talent a player was, there is absolutely no guarantee of reaching basketball’s Holy Grail.

It might not be fair, but that’s the way it is.

Any young player currently in the NBA would probably happily accept winning one championship for their entire career if it was offered to them right now.

A funny thing happens too in the NBA though. Occasionally, all winning one championship does is have the team compared to other one-championship winning teams. Sometimes, we’re told, it’s bad teams that can only win one championship.

Apparently, it’s only the very best teams that win the title again and again.

With the talent now on the roster, the only way this Celtics team is going to be regarded as true greats is to keep on winning. They need to stamp their authority on the league over the next few years and prove that this season wasn’t just a one-off.

Celtics fans will celebrate long and hard, after all, they got what they wanted – another championship. They don’t care how it happened they were just sick of waiting and sick of hearing how their beloved Celtics were constantly ‘rebuilding’.

Once the celebrations finish for this season, the hard work starts Danny Ainge. After the disastrous 06/07 season, he was able to convince his owners that in order for Boston to return to their winning ways, he would need to spend their money heavily, while assuring them that he was onto a good thing.

He will hope that the same tactic he used last will work again. Players prepared to play for less money in exchange for the chance to win it all. Given the Celtics success this year, it should be an easy sell.

From this year’s victorious team, Eddie House, Sam Cassell, PJ Brown & Scott Pollard don’t have contracts for next season. Scott Pollard being on the same team as Kevin Garnett in the first place is like walking into Blockbuster Video and seeing The Godfather on the same shelf as Dude, where’s my car?, but nevertheless, Pollard has a championship ring to his name now.

In sport, it’s said that the greatest challenge is not to become a champion, but to remain a champion. Anyone can win something once, but to do it all over again proves to any doubters that the initial success was fully deserved and did not come about by chance or any other mitigating factor.

There are many reasons which contribute to make maintaining the level of success such a difficult challenge. Obstacles appear that the team didn’t face during the initial triumph.

The champion team automatically goes from being the hunter to becoming the hunted. Opponents consider the regular season match up to be a measuring stick of sorts - how you fare against last season’s champs, gives you an idea of where your team is heading.

Team chemistry can change. Having secured a championship, sometimes players don’t play with the same level of desperation or commitment. The things that were sacrificed before might not be met with the same effort in the following years.

Things can change dramatically, just look at the Miami Heat. Two short years ago they were the NBA champs, now Dwayne Wade aside there are barely any remnants of that victorious team.

Expectations are elevated and fans are fickle. They want and expect to see winning and exciting basketball each and every season. A championship success might allow for one losing season later on down the track, but anymore than that and it’s open season on everyone and anyone associated with the team. Fire the coach, the players, the GM – anyone, just fire someone.

When it comes to winning championships though, for the Boston Celtics and their fans, it’s never a case of how, it’s only a case of how many?

That is what Ainge hopes for now. He wasn’t looking for a Las Vegas style elope, instead he has planned for a long-term marriage.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Let the silly season begin

As the city of Boston swings into full-on party mode, us non-Celtics fans look forward to next season. Firstly though, a few other notes and titbit's from the the finals:
  • 'Only' 22 people were arrested on the night the Celtics claimed their 17th NBA crown.....the basketball fans have let the city down a little considering there was a near riot when the Red Sox won the World Series.....c'mon Celtics fans, lift your game, let's see if you can crack atleast 100 arrests by the end of the parade today
  • Kevin Garnett kneeling down to smooch Boston's famous leprechaun was a bit much. Firstly, he ripped that off Allen Iverson who did it on his first trip back to Philadelphia as a member of the Denver Nuggets. Iverson's gesture was one of genuine affection to the team and fans that gave him his start in the NBA. So, KG really should have done it in Minnesota to show that he still loved that city and their planting a smacker in Boston is like he's sticking it to his old team.
  • The scariest part of Kobe and the Lakers quitting was that Kobe didn't even appear to be embarrassed by it all. Instead, he looked like he was just a bit bugged by the crowd giving it to him and he just wanted to go home and cry. He should have been hurting so much that he was already plotting his revenge for next season.
  • It's also not the first time Kobe has given up without a fight. Game 7 of the first round against the Phoenix Suns in 2006, the Lakers got pumped by 31. LA led that series 3-1 at one stage too. For all his skills and talents, Kobe isn't a fight-to-the-death guy.
  • The trade rumour mill will now swing into full-on mode. Most of what we hear won't happen, but as always, there will be a few. TJ Ford is an absolute certainty to go from the Raptors but to where is hard to say right now.

More to follow later.....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Celtics bury Lakers

Well...that was just an awful effort from the Lakers last night. Even Peter McNeeley showed more fight before he threw in the towel against Mike Tyson in what was Tyson's first fight after being released from Prison in 1995.
Some pointers from the Boston massacre:

  • Kobe might have a skill set similar to Jordan's, but he has doesn't have Jordan's fighting ability or never-say-die attitude.
  • Kevin Garnett finally showed up for the Celtics last night, then again he didn't really have to penetrate a bullet-proof Lakers' defense.
  • I have no words for Vladamir Radmanovic's performance.
  • The turnovers the Lakers committed in the first half were inexcusable. They were lazy with their handling of the ball and Rajon Rondo in particular had a field day picking the Lakers off.
  • Seeing Ray Allen go 7-9 from 3-point land is basketball eye-candy. Nobody has a smoother stroke than Ray.
  • I didn't see it, but I wouldn't have been surprised to see Kevin McHale embrace Danny Ainge and KG last night. He contributed as much to this Celtics championship as he did when he won three titles as a player in the 1980's. Oddly, McHale's greatest strength as GM appears to be at building other teams !

Monday, June 16, 2008

Celtics can't close out Lakers, series returns to Boston

As with game 3 of this series, the LA Lakers were anything but convincing last night, but they did enough to take the series back to Boston.
Based on the three games played in LA though, it was only a stay of execution from the Lakers as Boston should have no problems wrapping up their first title in 22 years in game 6.
Again last night, the Lakers leapt out of the blocks and built a big lead(19 points), but rather than keep up the pressure, they went away from doing what got them there and Boston quickly got back into the game.
The Lakers defense on Paul Pierce was awful. Credit to Pierce though, he kept attacking the rim, drawing fouls and getting to the line. Vladamir Radmanovic should be banned from ever guarding Pierce again.
Kobe had 15 first-quarter points but then he stopped being aggressive. Whenever Boston has made a run in this series, the Lakers help them out by making silly passes and taking crazy shots. Derek Fisher has never been shy to shoot the ball, but he has even out done himself at times during games 3, 4 and 5.
Some other points from the game and the series:

  • I mentioned this during an earlier post, but how many times is Kevin Garnett going to be allowed to set a moving screen at the top of the key before he gets whistled for an offensive foul ?
  • Paul Pierce is an absolute certainty to win the finals MVP award, unless of course the Lakers do the unlikely and win the series
  • James Posey is one of those players who everyone hates to play against, but every team needs one like him. He throws his body around fearlessly and plays niggly defense
  • Jordan Farmar has been impressive for the way that he has attacked the hoop, if he can do it, then surely Kobe can too
  • Kevin Garnett missed two crucial free-throws late which would have tied the game.
  • Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom should have attacked Garnett as he was in foul trouble for much of this game

Some other sports news that requires mentioning, not related to basketball:

  • Tiger Woods' outrageous birdie putt on the final hole yesterday to force a playoff today was amazing. Exactly why they need 18 more holes to decide this tournament is ridiculous, but that's not the point.
  • Turkey came back from 0-2 down to defeat the Czech Republic 3-2 and make their way through to the sudden death games.
  • The Netherlands is my tip for EURO 2008, the competition which is full of teams that always show promise in these big tournaments but often fall apart just as they're getting close. I just hope that if the Netherlands need a penalty shoot out at any stage to advance further, that Jaap Stam is not mentioned !

more to follow later....

Friday, June 13, 2008

Celtics on the brink

Wow - who saw that happening......the Lakers up by 24 (45-21) in the second period somehow blew their lead and most likely their shot at winning the NBA title this year.
Not much to say other than the Lakers were very poor in the second half and Boston very good. The Celtics moved the ball well, attacked the hoop and everyone contributed. The Lakers got sloppy and probably thought the game was over at half time. Derek Fisher made some particularly bad decisions.
Eddie House and James Posey were very effective off the bench for Boston, especially when they replaced Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins who suffered injuries.
Rondo is still afraid to take the wide-open looks that the Lakers give him. For a professional basketballer, he needs to make the opponents pay, or atleast take the shot and show that he's not scared.
On last nights evidence, the Lakers will struggle to even extend this series to six games. Their chance comes on Sunday night, again at Staples Center.

Some other basketball stuff:
  • Crooked referee Tim Donaghy has apparently claimed that some playoff games were fixed in the past. He didn't exactly specify which games but based on his statement, one of them was the Lakers V Kings Western Conference Series in 2002. Unless he has some irrefutable evidence, then his word is meaningless. That game had some odd officiating trends, yes, but Donaghy needs indisputable evidence that the refs were deliberately acting out of their duties otherwise it's just words from Donaghy.
more to follow later in the day....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Stage is set for game 4

Game four goes tonight in LA. If the Lakers lose and fall behind 3-1, it will be very hard for them to come back and win the championship from there.

A few points:

  • As I stated yesterday, the Lakers weren't convincing in game 3, but they won. The Celtics couldn't land what would more or less have been the knockout blow.
  • I figure that Phil Jackson will probably let Kobe run the offense more in this game. Kobe's been trying to let others get involved but he needs to basically play point guard.
  • Kobe also needs to attack the hoop early and often and not settle for his jump shots. Despite Boston's league leading defense, Kobe can still get to the paint whenever he wants.
  • Rajon Rondo suffered an ankle sprain in game 3. He missed training yesterday but he is going to play tonight. LA switched up and put Kobe on Rondo last game and Kobe gave Rondo as much room as he wanted to shoot. Rajon made a couple but he doesn't have a smooth, confident stroke. Rajon loves getting into the lane and throwing that huge behind-his-back ball fake. Rondo will be a good player in the coming years.
  • The Lakers will be hoping that Lamar Odom turns up tonight. He's been awful in the finals so far. Maybe Mitch Kupchak would like to trade him for Kwame Brown !

Some other basketball stuff:

  1. The Toronto Sun is reporting that the Raptors are going to buy out the final year of Jorge Garbajosa's contract. This will be a sad ending for Jorge. In his only significant season in Toronto he showed what he was capable of. He is hoping to play in Beijing which is good for him, but it appears as though his NBA days are over.
  2. More Raptors news is that Jose Calderon gave his USA based agent the flick. It's being said that Jose did this to stop his agent from stirring up trouble with other teams as Jose has no plans on leaving the Raptors. Bryan Colangelo has made it perfectly clear that Jose is his preferred choice as starting point guard for the Raptors next season. Colangelo would like TJ Ford to accept the role as back up but TJ wants to be a starter, so the Raptors are trying to trade him.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lakers get one back

Due to work/time constraints - The Daily Hurt is taking on a new format for the NBA Finals only

Notes from Game 3:
  1. The Lakers weren't convincing last night, but they did enough to get the win, Phew for them
  2. Hopefully, one day, the NBA will admit that fouls get called differently depending on who is being fouled. They say that they have stats that prove otherwise, but everyone knows, your last name affects the call
  3. Bennett Salvatore is having a bad playoffs. He was a good ref, but it looks like he is past his best
  4. It was good to see KG finally get called for a moving pick. It was late in the fourth when Salvatore finally made the call. Further to my point above, if his name wasn't Garnett, he would have been whistled a lot earlier for the offense.
  5. Sasha Vujacic had a very good season and is having an excellent playoffs. His confidence is sky high right now and he is the only real help Kobe is getting at the moment.
  6. Derek Fisher's confidence seems to be as high as Vujacic's right now, with vastly different results.
  7. Neither team shot particularly well from the free-throw line last night. Ray Allen missed two - in a row ! Kobe missed 7 of his 18 attempts - it's hard to see that happening again.
  8. Ray Allen has atleast regained his long-range shooting touch. There isn't anyone in the league with a prettier shot than Ray.
  9. Lamar Odom needs to get it together. His early foul troubles have been hurting the Lakers.
  10. When Kobe attacks the hoop, good things happen, when he doesn't, the Lakers struggle to offer much offensively.

Some other basketball stuff:

  • Of the recent coaching changes, Terry Porter in Phoenix faces the toughest challenge. Aging team, will still be competitive next season but won't seriously contend with the amount of good young teams set to challenge out West
  • Vinny Del Negro to Chicago was a surprise. At least it's better than Doug Collins. Doug is a fine analyst, but he's done as a coach.
  • Michael Curry to Detroit wasn't a suprise as far as what the reports were as soon as Saunders was chopped, but a surprise in that he's only been an assistant coach for one season. Dumars obviously has a lot of faith in him
  • We hear so much about Gilbert Arenas' everyday life, I fear how much he'll have to say if he actually is ever playing this late into the playoffs. Don't get me wrong, I like 'bert's game, but we don't need to hear every single thing that happens in his life.

......more to follow later !

Friday, June 6, 2008

Celtics strike first

The LA Lakers versus the Boston Celtics is one of basketball's greatest rivalries. The last week has been all about stories and memories of past battles.
Wilt V Bill, Larry V Magic, Showtime V Beantown.
All those great moments and highlights that we've been force fed on the tv are still fun to watch, but we always knew what the end result was. It was time to add some new material.
The 2008 version of the Boston Celtics drew first blood in the NBA Finals last night as they overcome a slow start and a half time deficit to take game 1 of the best-of-seven series versus the LA Lakers, 98-88.
Poor shooting from Lakers star Kobe Bryant combined with an emotional capacity crowd at the TD Banknorth Garden lifted the Celtics to the win.
Paul Pierce must have felt that there hadn't been enough flash backs this week as he did his best to emulate New York Knicks' great, Willis Reed's famous injury comeback of the 1970 NBA Finals.
Near the half way mark of the third period, Celtics center, Kendrick Perkins clattered into Pierce sending the Celtics captain to the floor, clutching his knee. A collective gasp from the crowd followed as Pierce was helped from the court and taken straight in to the locker room.
Later, Pierce would say that he felt a pop and that his season had ended right then and there. However, what was feared to be a season ending injury, instead turned into the quickest recovery in NBA Finals history as Peirce returned less than two minutes later.
His return was not quite as spectacular as Reed's but the Lakers certainly felt the impact nonethless. Pierce hit two 3-pointers within 22 seconds of each other which pushed Boston's lead to four points and it was all the proof the noisy crowd needed to see that he was feeling fine.
Boston's big three of Pierce, Kevin Garnett & Ray Allen erupted into the nightmare for the Lakers that Celtics GM Danny Ainge envisioned when he added Garnett and Allen during last summer, as they combined for 65 points.
Things haven't always gone as smoothly as planned for the Celtics during this years playoffs, but last night all that was forgotten.
The Lakers started the game well and apart from Bryant, shot the ball at a high percentage in the first half and led 51-46 at the long break.
Boston's defense was the league's best this year, but Bryant's early shooting woes were more a result of unfriendly rims than a particularly tight defence. “I had some good looks, they just didn’t go down for me, I just missed some bunnies. I’ll be thinking about those a little bit.” said Bryant after the game.
In the past, Kobe might have felt a need to take more shots to start scoring, but instead now, he prefers to defer to his team mates to try to get them going. Bryant got some support from Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher - each 15 points and Lamar Odom, 14 points, but LA's bench provided only 15 more points and were largely ineffective.
Game two of the series goes Sunday again in Boston where the Lakers look to square things up before heading back to Staples Center.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Lakers & Celtics to battle for NBA Supremecy

On Thursday night, Kobe Bryant stood on centre court at Staples Centre, his arms raised in the air, his fists clenched. Though his stance was a triumphant one, his facial expression told a slightly different story and somewhat betrayed that stance. Yes, he looked content and seemed happy, but his eyes remained focused & steely, suggesting that while he was satisfied with his team’s progress to that point, he hadn’t lost sight of the fact that the job wasn’t complete.
Kobe’s team, the LA Lakers, had just defeated the San Antonio Spurs 100-92, and eliminated them from the playoffs, 4 games to 1. The reward for LA now is a trip to the NBA finals for the first time in four years, while San Antonio once again fails in their bid to repeat as NBA Champions.
In game one of this series, San Antonio led LA by 20 points at one stage before losing. It was a similar story in game five as they were unable to convert a large lead into a win. This time, the Spurs were up by as many as 17 in the first half, before the Lakers mounted their comeback. LA did most of the hard work to erase that deficit in quarters two and three and entered the final period and leading by one, 64-63. The Lakers then looked to their leader, Kobe, to guide them home and he responded by scoring 17 of his team high 39 points in the fourth quarter to shut the door on the Spurs for good.
Bryant received good support from Pau Gasol (12pts, 19rebs) & Lamar Odom (13pts, 8rebs) and bench players Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmer also continued their good series form.
San Antonio was led by Tim Duncan who had a triple double with 19pts, 15rebs & 10 asts and Tony Parker who had 23 points. It looked as though the Spurs grueling seven game conference semi finals series with the New Orleans Hornets might have taken its toll as San Antonio looked worn out at times during this series with the Lakers. After the game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was quick to dispel age being an excuse for the loss or that his team was perhaps on the decline, pointing out that they have always made changes in the off season whether they’ve won or not and this summer figures to be no different.

The Boston Celtics booked their place in the finals by winning game six of their Eastern Conference series against the Detroit Pistons, 89-81, in Detroit and won the series four games to two.
Paul Pierce led Boston with 27 points & 8 rebounds and was ably supported by Kevin Garnett 16pts, 6 rebs and Ray Allen, 17pts & 6rebs.
For Detroit, Chauncy Billups had 29 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists but the Pistons will be disappointed to have lost this game after they blew a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter. For the third straight season, Detroit has been eliminated from the playoffs at the Conference Finals stage.
Boston, who had been struggling on the road in the playoffs prior to this series, won two of the three games played in Detroit. The Celtics did lose on their home court for the first time in the playoffs when they dropped game two of the series, but from there, they regained their focus and won three of the next four games.
Detroit coach Flip Saunders, has probably coached the Pistons for the last time. Once again, he appeared to run out of ideas in the playoffs, as has been the criticism of him in the past. In his three seasons as Detroit’s head coach, he has guided the team to more than 50 wins during each regular season, however he inherited a very good team but has proved to be inept and unable to even once take the talented squad to the NBA finals.
The match up now between LA and Boston promises to be a classic.
The leagues most potent & versatile offensive weapon versus the leagues toughest defense.
The Lakers are a young team whose undisputed leader is of course Kobe Bryant. As MVP of the league this year, Kobe has led the Lakers back to the finals for the first time since the team traded away Shaquille O’Neal.
It’s been quite a transformation for Kobe and the Lakers this season. Sick of not contending for the championship, Kobe demanded to be traded to a team with ambitions which matched his own. He’d grumbled about the lack of talent surrounding him in the past, but this time he was for real.
Lakers management took Kobe seriously this time and it took them a while, but in January, they made a trade which finally added some quality talent to support Bryant. The Lakers grabbed Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies for not much in return. When Gasol joined the Lakers, the team almost immediately became the bookies favorites to win the Western Conference.
Gasol has given the Lakers a big man who is a genuine offensive threat and a reliable defender, taking much of the big-man defensive heat off Lamar Odom. Odom is more a combination forward but often had to guard opposing teams’ centers, and was outplayed. Gasol also arrived just in time to help soften the blow from when the Lakers lost promising big man Andrew Bynum to a nasty knee injury in January of this year.
The Lakers are a team with a good mix of youth and experience and a deep, talented bench. Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar have the confidence of the coaching staff and have each played an important role off the bench in helping to return the Lakers to the NBA finals. Vujacic especially has become a reliable shooter and a surprisingly good defender.

After enduring a horrid 2006-07 season, Celtics GM, Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics brains trust acted swiftly in trying to return the Celtics to become a winning franchise again. The Celtics gambled away a large chunk of their future for a shot at the title immediately.
Ainge did at least back up his large wager with some of the best talent in the NBA. He traded away almost everybody on that current Celtics roster and some future draft picks for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Those two had won many individual accolades between them throughout their careers, but neither had tasted the ultimate team success.
In addition to Paul Pierce, the Celtics now boasted a team with All-Stars and Olympians but no NBA champions. Ainge then knew, by signing Allen & Garnett, it would be easier for him to entice other veteran role players who would be interested in sacrificing bigger dollars elsewhere for a legitimate shot at the NBA crown.
Ainge added James Posey, who had won the title in 2006 with the Miami Heat and journeyman sharp shooter Eddie House. Both players had bounced around the league with several different teams but they were veterans entering the twilights' of the careers and would want to join a team ready to win.
The gamble has paid off so far for Boston. This season, they had the leagues best record at 66-16. Anchored by Kevin Garnett, they also had the leagues stingiest defense. They have shooters and scorers and can be a nightmare to match up against.
The Celtics were brought together by a 'win now - pay later' mentality. Anything less than the championship will likely be considered a failure.
They started off these playoffs slowly and showed vulnerability on the road. They couldn’t beat Atlanta or Cleveland on the road, but by winning two out of three games in Detroit, it appears as though they might have worked out their road blues just in time.
The last time these two teams met in the finals was 1987, and the Lakers won 4-2. In an year when two of our favorite action hero's are making their return to the screen after an almost 20 year absence in Indiana Jones and Rambo, it seems only fitting that the Los Angeles Lakers and arch rival Boston Celtics are to decide this seasons’ NBA champion.
Kobe has been waiting for this opportunity for four long years. He is focused and determined. Boston are undoubtedly worthy opponents, but this is Kobe’s year……LA in 6.