Archive for the ‘Basketball’ Category

LA Lakers become title contenders again.

In a sudden move, Steve Nash has agreed to play with the Los Angeles Lakers. In a sign-and-trade deal with Phoenix, he has been traded for 4 future draft picks in a deal worth $27 million over the next 3 years. Nash has been after a Championship ring for the last 16 years, the Lakers give him a chance for that. They also allow Nash to remain close to his family in Phoenix. I, along with every other Laker fan, am very excited to see these two play on the same team. I just hope that Steve Nash has forgotten this.

There are 2 main reasons why his signing is incredible news for the Los Angeles Lakers:

1) The Lakers now have a great point guard.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Derek Fisher but he was a terrible player for LAL. He couldn’t shoot floaters, make plays for other players or run that quickly. He had a decent 3 point shot and was very clutch. Along with being a decent defender, that was all he really had in his arsenal. Steve Blake is very similar to Fisher – just a worse version. Ramon Sessions looked like he would provide the spark necessary to turn LAL back into a Championship contending side. This view quickly went down the drain after people realised he had a lot of trouble in shooting the ball. He could drive the rim fairly effectively, but his game was ultimately limited by 1 or 2 plays, just like Fisher and Blake. 
Steve Nash may be 38, but he is a future Hall of Fame player. He finished last season with an average of 12.8 points pg and 10.4 assists pg. Nash was responsible for 35-40 of his team’s points alone last year – when he was 37. He has the most assists out of every player in the league over the last 3 years. When you put him into a team with Kobe, Gasol and Bynum, you can see these numbers going up slightly. His killer 3 will help on Bynum double team’s, his floater is lethal and he can drive into the paint and find an open man almost as easily as Rondo. I haven’t even mentioned his pick and rolls….
LA Lakers have been after a decent point guard for years, now that they finally have one, their chances of winning an NBA Championship again have risen considerably.

2) Dwight Howard now has much more incentive to join LA Lakers.

Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard - Orlando Magic v Los Angeles LakersDwight Howard wants to win titles. Dwight Howard wants to sign with a team that gives him the best chance to win. Orlando Magic also are very interested in Andrew Bynum as a replacement now they know Howard wants to trade. Orlando Magic are also interested in Ron Ar, I mean Metta World Peace. Howard could join Nash, Kobe and Gasol in Los Angeles- an awesome city. Orlando Magic would get the 2nd best centre in the league as his replacement along with an ape. Howard would get a great opportunity to win titles. It all seems to fit so perfectly doesn’t it? The problem, Deron Williams and New York City are also calling for Howard. A deal with LA still seems more beneficial to all parties, but maybe that’s just a fan speaking optimistically.

Kobe Bryant called Nash before the trade to persuade him to make the move. Encouraging Nash that he was a great fit for the Lakers and that he was very excited to play with Nash. Just like when Magic Johnson ran LAL, Kobe Bryant seems to be doing it now. One last thing Kobe- get a few more bench players will ya?

Steve Nash has, and always will be, my favourite player. When the news filtered through to me last night that he would be wearing purple and gold….well let’s just say my friends and family stopped watching the July 4th fireworks and started watching me proceed into insanity.

“ARE YOU SERIOUS OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH YES STEVE ARE YOU SER..” The delirium went on for a good 20 minutes.

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NBA Big men move fastest.

With the season over, basketball fans everywhere can now only concentrate on one thing. Trades. Who do we need? Who do we want to get rid off? Who needs resigning? The last week has been filled with news mainly from the movements of 7 footers.

    Anthony Davis was the number 1 pick in the draft and he will begin next season with the New Orleans Hornets. After they lost Chris Paul, Anthony Davis may be the key to putting a smile on New Orleans fans faces. I also met Emeka Okafor’s wife a few months ago. I’m sure he is excited to have Anthony play alongside him. This is pointless information but I thought it was cool. We watched a Lakers game together in the airport. Groovy.

Blake Griffin has made public that he intends to sign a 5 year extension deal with the Clippers. It also looks like Lamar Odom will be joining him in LA again. Odom had a horrid time in Dallas. I’m sure his move is 50% Chloe Kardashian wanting to move out of Dallas though… Interestingly, Chris Paul has declined a 3 year extension offer on his current contract with the Clippers. Could Paul be on the move?

   Kevin Garnett has resigned with the Boston Celtics for a further 3 years in a deal worth $34 million. This is huge news for Rajon Rondo. Not only do the two get to keep playing together, but the chances of the Celtics Big Three staying together are now much more likely. There were heavy rumours that Ray Allen was on his way to Miami Heat as he was in search for one more championship before retirement. We know that Paul Pierce will never leave the Celtics. Maybe they can all try one last time? I know we’d all love to see it (and then see Rondo head to the Lakers…)



Pau Gasol 
is looking like cannon fodder for the Lakers as they try to shuffle their playing cards. Their salary cap is pretty much at a full now, however Gasol could bring in an established player or give them more money to offer to unsigned free agents like Jason Kidd, Deron Williams and Steve Nash. I can’t see it happening as Mitch Kupchak is eager to resign Ramon Sessions who has also stated he looks forward to a long career with the Lakers…..I hope you’re practicing that 3 right now Ramon.

   Finally, Dwight Howard has provided the most entertainment in the trade market over the last few days. He decided to sign a 1 year extension on his current contract before suddenly requesting a trade to the newly placed Brooklyn Nets (New Jersey Nets). He is property of Orlando for the next 12 months but since he now has back problems it may not be worth keeping him to then lose him for no money/players. It would be more sensible to trade Howard now whilst you can still get something worthwhile in return. This could then see Deron Williams stay with the Brooklyn Nets in what would be a newly formed and fearsome team in the Eastern Division. Furthermore, Jason Kidd is best friends with Deron and is hoping to play with him next season, maybe as a number 2 point guard for the Brooklyn Nets? Sounds juicy doesn’t it?

Either way, I’ll just be happy that there will be a new team capable of stopping Lebron and Miami. 

P.s- Steve Nash, Toronto ain’t got soccer like LA! Come live near your best friends David Beckham and Landan Donovan, Kobe will love your constant passing to him.

Westbrook scores 43 but Miami go 3-1 up.

   Russell Westbrook put in a monster performance finishing with 43 points. Just like Rajon Rondo’s perfomance, it was not enough. Heat go up 3-1.

Russell Westbrook - 2012 NBA Finals - Game ThreeRussell Westbrook’s performance was very similar to that of Rajon Rondo’s during the Eastern Conference Finals, however, the result was the same. Miami finish with the win and go 3-1 up in the finals. This was the closest and most fast paced game of the finals so far. If you don’t enjoy watching basketball after that game, you should be watching Golf. There are, yet again, far too many talking points to cover, therefore this post will cover some of the key aspects that I thought decided the game.

 Russell Westbrook
As soon as Westbrook shot his first jumper of the game, I along with most Oklahoma fans screamed “no!” at the television. He has dribbled the ball up the court and shot within a few seconds without passing. This is exactly the type of play that did not fall for him in recent games and what drew plenty of criticism from viewers everywhere. The shot was good. As were his next 3. He in fact had 10 1st quarter points and was the main reason why Oklahoma had their first 1st quarter lead all series. Westbrook ended on 20-32 shooting, an incredible way to answer the critics. Unfortunately, Oklahoma could not defend Lebron James and James Harden had a terrible game.  Make no mistake, without Westbrook putting in the performance he did, Game 4 would have been over by half time. It is just a huge shame that Westbrook did not realise the shot clock was only at 5 seconds during the final play. His intentional foul on Chalmers was due to the fact that he thought there were 24 seconds on the shot clock.

Lebron JamesLeBron James - 2012 NBA Finals - Game Four
James finished with 26 points and 12 assists. He abused the post all night long   making Harden and Sefolosha look foolish more often than not. As a counter, Oklahoma had no option but to double team him. With Battier, Chalmers, Cole and  Jones all on the floor at times for the Heat, their 3’s began raining down, mostly in the  2nd quarter. Miami had 18 points from the arc alone in the 2nd quarter. This quickly  obliterated Oklahoma’s early lead and gave them a lot to think about through halftime.  Mainly, “How the hell to we guard Lebron?” Lebron then was screaming on the  sideline due to an intense cramp in the 4th quarter and missed the last minute of the  game. This was after he hobbled on to drain a 3 and put Miami up by 4. If Skip Bayless  tries to argue that he wasn’t clutch, ignore him. That said, Lebron seemed to be trying  to act like Jordan when he played with the flu.

James Harden

Harden finished with 8 points and 2 assists. He also seemed very scared of Miami. He missed 3 wide open 3’s and went 1-5 from downtown. He also shot a shocking 2-10 from the field, including one wide open from the elbow towards the end of the 4th. He had 3/4 seconds of being wide open and hesitated far too long before finally throwing up the brick. His dreadful performance was epitomised by the wide open layup he missed in the 4th. This would have given the Thunder their first lead in 22 minutes and could have changed the entire game. I was perplexed as to why Harden was man marking James late on. Harden does not have the physical capability to defend a player like James. Harden is yet to play to his potential. If Oklahoma are to steal a win in Game 5, Harden will need to achieve his regular season averages.
James Harden - 2012 NBA Finals - Game Three

The Officials
     After a lifetime of watching nothing but football (soccer for you Americans), I grow tired of complaining about referees. However, the Miami Heat seem to get every 50-50 call go their way, including some blatant bad calls. To name a few from Game 4:

  • The double-dribble missed on Lebron James in 2nd that led to a James layup.
  • Loose-ball foul not called on Derek Fisher off a rebound in the 4th. The ball fell to Chalmers who buried a 3.
  • Many fouls (seemingly) not called on Westbrook or Durant throughout the game.

I honestly hate to use the officials as a way of complaining but even my twitter feed was filling up with people that were bemused with some of the calls. What is your take on it? Am I wrong? Are Miami getting an unfair advantage from the officials?


Mario Chalmers

Chalmers has been due a good game. Wade spoke highly of him during his post game interview (why wouldn’t he?) after he played a huge role in the Game 4 win. He ended with 25 points off an efficient 9-15 night of shooting. He made a tough layup in traffic the possession after Lebron was carried off due to cramp and then sank a couple of clutch free throws a few possessions later, maintaining the lead Miami had. Chalmers was the deciding factor. The unpredictable deciding factor. Game 1 had the support players of OKC step up. Game 2 had shane Battier. Game 3 had Oklahoma’s rare low free throw percentage. Game 4 had Mario Chalmers go off for 25 points.

Did any of you predict any of these things? This series is impossible to call, still. Ibaka could go 11-11 from the field in Game 5, it’s been that kind of series. The unpredictable nature is making it one of the best series I have ever watched. Either team could have won by a sweep already. It’s times like this that you wish it was a best of 13.

Oklahoma City come up short with free throws.

It was a night where defence was the real winner. Both Miami and OKC upped their defence in Game 3 that saw Miami come through victorious. Miami now lead 2-1 in this series involving two of the most well matched teams the league has seen for a while. Make no mistake, every game so far between these two giants has been decided by 1, maybe 2 possessions. So when Oklahoma shot 62% of their free throws, it’s stunning that they only lost by 6 points considering Miami hit almost 90% of their free throws. This, ultimately was where Game 3 was won and lost.

Kendrick Perkins Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat gets set to attempt a technical free throw attempt in the first half against Kendrick Perkins #5 and James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 17, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

    Miami started strong again. The 1st quarter was filled with points in the paint for Miami. they made 10 of 11 shots in the paint and missed 10 of 11 jumpshots. 20 of their 26 first quarter points came from inside. The play by play read, “James layup, James layup, Wade layup, James layup”. I was initially very worried things would crumble for Oklahoma again. However, Oklahoma made many of the shots they missed….check that….they made many of the make-able shots they missed in Game 2. So at the end of the 1st the score was 26-20 Miami.
OKC then sharpened up defensively. Switching between a zone and man-to-man defence, Miami began to struggle getting into the paint more as they started to take more jumpshots. Sefolosha had a wonderful highlight play by stealing the ball of Lebron and sprinting up the other end for an alley-oop. Sefolosha was fantastic again all night defensively. The steal on Wade in the final minute gave OKC a huge chance to win the game.
Derek Fisher also added a lot to the game. He made a three with 5.19 on the clock in the second period. This was the same 3 that he missed in Game 2, the same three that, had he made, Oklahoma would have won Game 2. Not only that but he did something he never accomplished at LA. He played very, very well defensively. Playing full court on Chalmers was genius. It meant that by the time Chalmers had found Lebron or Wade, there were only 10/11 seconds left on the clock. This led to numerous shot clock violations and turnovers for Miami.

   We’ve already covered the free throws as why Oklahoma lost, but there was one other deciding factor.
Kevin Durant’s foul trouble. He lost 8 minutes of playing time in the 3rd quarter after OKC were up 60-53 when he took a seat on the bench. The Heat then went on a 16-7 run and led at the end of the third 69-67.
My opinion? His 4th foul was complete bs. I refuse to believe that it was a foul considering it was near identical to the foul that was not called on Lebron at the end of Game 2, as Durant put up the game tying shot. What is extremely endearing is Durant’s reaction to both the Lebron foul at the end of Game 2 and his foul trouble in Game 3, “I just try to play aggressive on both ends of the floor”, “I just missed the shot”. He makes no comment on the officials decisions, something incredibly rare in sport today.
In contrast, what does Lebron do after he missed a 50 foot buzzer beater in Game 3 at the end of the 2nd? Immediately complains to the ref after no foul is called…

Yes, Miami were the better team again but only thanks to some moo points ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLwYpSCrlHU)
Durant has been in foul trouble before but he wont be every game. Oklahoma will not shoot 62% from the free throw line again. Harden will not finish in single digits again. Both of these teams are so evenly matched that it takes something out of the ordinary to win games. Game 1 was decided by Nick Collison’s offensive rebounding. Game 2 by Battier’s shooting, and Game 3 by rare free throw misses. Both Miami and Oklahoma are so well matched that this Championship will not be won by skill, because that is a given. It will be won by unforced errors and who doesn’t drink their Gatorade.

Some final points for you to mull over and respond to;

  • Did you notice all the empty seats at the beginning of second half? I guess mohitos take a while to make!
  • The technical foul called on Scott Brooks in the 2nd was bs. The ball was deflected out off Haslem but was called Miami ball. Brooks got frustrated and started arguing it should be OKC ball…just as all the OKC players did. The call was immediately reversed and it was an Oklahoma inbound. Yet, the technical foul was given.
    This is the NBA Finals. We all know that every possession counts. So are you really going to call a technical for a coach being passionate on a call that he was right on?! At least Wade missed the free throw.

Who will win the 2012 NBA Finals?

Miami win Game 2, just.

     An article written after the game was titled, “Miami tie the series, barely”. I wrote in my previous two blogs about how Miami would have to be almost perfect in order the beat Oklahoma. They had to play to their fullest potential. This is exactly what happened and it was only just good enough against a less-than good Oklahoma side. Erik Spoelstra said in his pre-game speech “every play matters, the game will come down to 5 plays.” He was right. If Fisher would have made that wide open 3, if Westbrook drained any of the missed jumpers he put up in the 1st, if OKC missed two less free throws…
It’s very easy to look at each individual play, especially when games often finish with a points difference of under 7 or 8 points. However, this is a 48 minute sport, and for 36 of those, Miami were much better. We know that OKC like to stay within striking distance before taking over in the 4th, they were just too late in reaching their “striking distance”.
Miami went up 18-2.
18-2.
They were much more fired up than Oklahoma. Everything that needed to happen for the Heat to win, happened.
Lebron had another fantastic shooting night, finishing on 32 and making 4 clutch points at the end of the game. Wade stepped up 24 points and Bosh finished with 16. 72 points all together, 5 more than their regular season average of 67. This was not where they won the game as Durant, Westbrook and Harden finished collectively with 80. The big three will consistently cancel each other out. Harden stepped up in game 2 just as Wade and Bosh did. No, Miami did not win because of the shooting from their big three, they won because of two more important reasons:

1) Shane Battier’s 17 points. 
Battier has suddenly become the best 3 point shooter in all the land. He is 10-13 from 3 pointers in the Finals so far with no signs of letting up. It makes me worry about the IQ of some basketball players. To consistently leave Battier open from 3, do they even learn? Battier stepped up as the “supporting player” in Game 2 like Collison and Sefolosha did in Game 1 for Oklahoma. His 17 points were the difference. Although you have to think, will he keep shooting about 75% from 3’s for the rest of the finals? Probably not. Which means Chalmers or Haslem have to step up and score more than 3 or 2 points respectively as they did in Game 2.

2) OKC’s fast-break points – 7
They had 24 fast-break points in Game 1 as they found it very easy to abuse the defensive slack of Wade and Chalmers. The 7 fast-break points they had in Game 2 was not only far less than the 24 in Game 1, but they all came in the 4th quarter. They caused 5 turnovers, had 8 more shots and out-rebounded Miami….only in the 4th quarter.

Durant said it perfectly in his post game interview, “we can’t get too down [about the missed shots in the 1st] instead stay positive and understand what can be changed for Game 3.”

That is exactly what they must do. Understand what needs to be changed, because there isn’t much. Miami had to break their backs to get the Game 2 win and they were playing against an OKC side that didn’t show up for the whole of the first 12 minutes.

Let’s not forget the game-tying shot Durant had where he was clearly fouled by Lebron.

That said, Miami did deserve to win Game 2 but it took them far more effort than I thought it would.

My friend told me he thinks OKC will find it difficult to beat Miami at their home arena since they are so efficient at home. However, if Miami can beat OKC in Oklahoma, then OKC can certainly beat Miami in South Beach, especially with their 21-12 record on the road.

Miami flops in Game 1.

Were Miami terrible? Or were Oklahoma brilliant?
       To be honest, Miami were pretty terrible. One shocking statistic- Durant and Westbrook ended on 63 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists. Lebron, Wade and Bosh ended on 59 points, 18 rebounds and 12 assists.
       Miami were the better team for the first half, thanks mainly to the 3 point shooting of Battier and offensive aggression of Chalmers who had 13 and 10 respectively at the half. That said, how often will Miami shoot 60% from 3 point land? Oklahoma were still shooting a better field-goal percentage (<8%) by halftime, they weren’t worried. This is what Oklahoma seem to have done consistently against the best teams all year. Stay within striking distance before erupting and taking over. 
     I spoke in my preview of this series how the game would be won by the supporting cast, not the big 3 of either team. Chalmers and Battier were giving Miami the lead at the half. Then Sefolosha and Collinson took over the supporting roles. Sefolosha had Lebron in his back pocket all of the 4th quarter. There is a reason why Lebron only had 2 points in the first 8.13 minutes of the 4th. Collinson had one massive offensive rebound, tipping it out to Durant who hit a three. Not to mention Collison’s 10 rebounds and 8 timely points. 
     We can’t ignore the impact that Westbrook and Durant had. Wade is terrible at transitional defence, so when Westbrook starts moving through the gears and has the ability to pull up for a two or drive straight into the bucket, OKC usually wind up with a +2 on their scorecard. I remember Lebron in an iso move during the 4th, it took about 15 seconds and he ended up hitting a 3 point play from the free throw line. He seemed pretty pumped after this. Durant than casually brought the ball up on the next play before pulling up almost immediately, and sinking a 3 pointer. 
    Durant and Westbrook had 41 points in the second half alone. The whole Miami Heat team at 40. Lebron still scored 30 points but Wade forced too many low percentage shots and ended on 19. So we can assume Wade and Lebron will finish with 30 each a night? Ok, so what about Harden?
     He can finish with 20+ points if he wants and yet only had a 5 point game. If Wade or Bosh increase their points, OKC still have Harden who can hep out. It seems insane that Westbrook and Durant beat Miami almost single handedly. They just needed a little help on defence from Sefolosha, something he can do better than any NBA player, and a few rebounds from a 7 footer (Collison).
     I strongly believe that OKC can win these Finals in under 6 games. Unless Lebron has another 45 point game and Wade plays like a superstar and drops 35….it would still be a close finish to the game.
    Let me know what you think in the comments, who will win tonight? Will Lebron go carzy again? Will that be the downfall of Miami? Several Miami players are known to have commented on how Miami doesn’t feel like a team and how they wish there was more ball movement instead of just Iso plays of Lebron. 
    Lebron tried to win it by himself in Cleveland, it doesn’t work, just ask Kobe. Until Lebron realises that he has some great outlet options in Bosh, Battier and Chalmers, I doubt they will get near the trophy. Even Cole showed that he has some talent during the regular season and he didn’t even play on Tuesday. The Miami coach basically played 6 players on Tuesday and only two of them shot the ball in the last 24 minutes.