Looking ahead towards the NBA Finals

There are a lot of great teams in the NBA right now and that makes it real hard to predict the outcome of this years playoffs…but I’ll give it a shot anyways. Everybody is hating on the Heat this year just because they ain’t at .500 and haven’t been there since they started the year 3-3 but let’s be realistic, that doesn’t mean anything. The playoffs are all about the segregation of the conferences and this year more than most provides us with one of the most lopsided divisions of power we have witnessed in a long time. Making a prediction for the NBA championship is more than just picking the best team in the NBA or the Suns would be my choice (they aren’t by the way), but it’s about realizing that the Western Conference has so many strong teams that it leaves every team in the conference at a serious disadvantage compared to the East.

You see, the West has the Mavs, Spurs, Suns, Lakers, Rockets and Jazz whom can all be considered among the top ten teams in the league and unfortunately for them, they all reside in the same conference. Anyone of those teams could probably easily win the entire Eastern Conference and make it easily to the NBA Finals this year…had they been in the East to begin with but now face their inevitable demise in the playoffs as only one team can come out to play for a championship. My pick for the Eastern Conference Champs are the reigning NBA champions as I honestly can’t see any East team beating them in a seven game series. The Heat will most likely be one of the top 3 seeds in the East at the end of the season as they finally have Shaq back (although he is over the hill), Wade is playing at such an unbelievable level (I mean did you see him singlehandedly beat the entire Spurs team in the 4th quarter on Sunday) and Riley will be back after the all star break that the fact that they are only 7.5 games back of the Eastern Conference lead with half a season to go must have Shaq salivating.

As for the West? Whatever team has the good fortune to come out of the conference will most likely have had to go through at least 2 grueling and tiring seven game series of which they will emerge so emotionally and physically exhausted that the the notion of having to defend Wade and Shaq for another series would simply crush their spirits. The Mavs, Suns or Spurs will most likely come out of the West but they will probably have to play each other to do it, resulting in 2 seven game series while the Heat probably won’t even have to play one.

It’s real simple, the West’s dominance is just going to cost them. I mean, can you imagine being Bowen, Bell or Howard (each teams best defender) and after having to defend the likes of Nash, Marion, Nowitzki, Howard, Parker or Genobli (depending on who comes through) throughout a combined 14 consecutive games, now you gotta go and defend a probably well rested and still very hungry Wade and Shaq for another seven games? I know Howard and the Mavs can and they didn’t like how it turned out.

NBA Champs: Miami Heat
Finals MVP: Dwyane Wade

And no I am not biased…I’m just smart.

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The Phoenix Suns are the best team in the NBA because…

This may just be the most controversial post I have ever written. Many of you may not like what they hear and I can understand that but I ask you to bear with me as I present my case which I hope you will find to be very convincing, or at the very least relatively interesting. I also ask that you remember that I myself am Canadian as you read this post because it will help to better explain my opinion. I would like to argue that Steve Nash is NOT the greatest player in the league and that he is definitely NOT a two-time (pending the three-peat) MVP of the NBA (although I suppose that he is technically already a two-time MVP).

WHAAAAAAAT???

I know what your thinking…Steve Nash is so amazing, he has taken a decrepit Phoenix Suns team from absolute obscurity to an NBA Championship contender every single year in a Western Conference that is so superior to its rival East that an 8th seeded team in the West that will almost definitely lose in the first round, could easily win the Eastern Conference. I believe we all know the case for why Steve Nash is great and why he has won two MVPs so I won’t provide the other side for this argument. If you don’t know then you can just start reading any article ever written in the last 3 years on Steve Nash, it comes up eventually.

So why is Steve Nash not the greatest? Well thats an easy one. I am going to avoid the stats part of this argument because if anyone dares bring up the stats question into an MVP conversation arguing in favor of Nash, they would be committing conversational suicide. Nash’s stats are great but they are not unbelievable and over the last two years, there have been many players with similar as well as better stats than him who lost the MVP to Nash. The argument in favor of Nash is not about his stats but about what he brings to his team, therefore we can pretty much discount the stats part of this argument. The argument for Nash is the fact that he makes his teammates better in such dramatic fashion that he is deserving of two MVPs. So let’s see if thats true.

There are three all star players on the Suns and they have all been there for the last three years (if you don’t know who they are: Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudamire and Leandr…hehe jk…Steve Nash) which is when Nash’s assist average spiked from 8.8 the year before (his previous career high) to 11.5 (his first season with the Suns and his first MVP).

Lets discuss Marion First. Shawn Marion is one of the most versatile players in the NBA. This season alone he is averaging some extremely impressive statistics: 18.9 pts/game, 10.1 reb/game and 52.7% shooting. Now these stats are definitely not out of the ordinary for Marion who has averaged over 17 points per game every year since his rookie year. Last season as well as this season are his first two seasons he has shot over 50 percent however he is a fantastic career shooter averaging a career shooting percentage of 47.7%. He is also a career 10.1 reb/game rebounder. I give his career stats simply to show that Marion’s performance is in now way out of the ordinary and cannot be contributed to the addition of Steve Nash. Marion is a great offensive player but he is actually a very big defensive playmaker who has a career 1.9 steals/game and 1.3 blocks/game and changes the game every game thanks to his defense. He is one of the best small forwards in the league and definitely one of the most versatile and athletic players in the entire NBA (he even ranked himself 5th in the top 5 current dunkers in the NBA…Stoudamire was #3 lol).

Now Let’s discuss Amare. Stoudamire has been in the league for 5 years however he was injured for all but 3 games last year so its really more like four. Amare has a career average of 19.6 pts/game (excluding last season) and 8.9 reb/game, 0.9 steals/game and 1.4 blocks/game which is very good for such a young player. Definitely all star material wouldn’t you say? Not only that but he is shooting an unbelievable 60% this year and is a career 52.3% shooter! Thats absolutely amazing, even in today’s NBA. Amare Stoudamire is one of the top 10 centers in the league and I am positive many people would give him top 5. I know what your going to say…”Even without Amare, the Suns were still pretty damn good last year weren’t they?”. Very interesting point but lets look very closely at that argument. Two years ago, when Marion, Nash and Amare were all playing (remember thats three all stars) the Suns went 62-20 which is pretty amazing. The next year, without Amare the Suns went 54-28. That is an 8 game difference in record and although it made very little difference since they still won their division, we saw just how telling that absence of the big guy really was during the playoffs when the Lakers took a 3-1 game lead in the playoffs. Of course they self destructed and the Suns were able to come back and win the series but they still didn’t make it to the NBA Finals.

In fact, the Suns have never made it to the NBA Finals but I won’t hold that against Nash as I would not hold the fact that Manning has never been to the Superbowl (until now) against him. Steve Nash is a great player and definitely one of the best point guards in the league but I do not believe that a player on a team with three all stars in their starting five can really be classified as the MOST valuable player to his team. At this rate, with the requirements we have set, Nash will be getting the MVP every year for the next 10 years which is completely ridiculous. He’s great but let’s be honest, that TEAM is pretty great too.

Oh and by the way, if you even dare to say, “Well Jordan had three all stars on his team and he won back to back MVPs so why can’t Nash?” First remember who you would be talking about, the greatest basketball player who ever lived and second his stats were absolutely ridonvculous and cannot even be compared to Nash’s never mind the fact that he won the Championship both times…something Nash has yet to even challenge for. Oh yeah, and Jordan was a tenacious defender who made game changing plays on both ends of the court. Nash couldn’t defend a salt shaker.

Nash is great…he just isn’t two time MVP great.

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Heat vs. Lakers Tonight!

The Miami Heat will play the Los Angeles Lakers tonight in a rematch of the unbelievable Christmas Day game. Just want you all to watch because last time these two guys played (without the old All Star Starter??? Shaq) Wade completely dominated in a great game that the Heat won. Round 2 goes tonight and I expect Kobe to come out firing in retaliation and considering that the Heat cannot win without Wade scoring at least 30…this should be a great game. Check it out tonight at 10:00pm.

Allen Iverson Traded to Denver

Well its official, Allen Iverson has been traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Denver Nuggets today. In return for the two time scoring champion, the Sixers acquire Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two Number 1 picks in the 2007 NBA draft.

Fair Trade?

Well considering that the Sixers were absolutely desperate to unload their 30 year old all star and the Nuggets have lost their franchise player and current NBA scoring leader in Carmelo Anthony to a 15 game suspension for fighting, there really is no way of saying whether or not this trade is fair…but I’ll give it a try.

Iverson will be able to easily step in and become a temporary replacement for Carmelo Anthony while he serves his suspension and when he returns, the answer can hopefully provide the answer the Nuggets are looking for in order to elevate their team to the next level. AI and CA will be a very explosive combination and personally I can’t wait to see Iverson in action with serious scoring threats and all stars on his team. Denver got the guy they wanted (an all star, two time scoring champion and currently second in scoring this year) and they didn’t even have to give up anyone serious. Andre Miller is a 30 year old PG averaging 13 points/game while Joe Smith is a bust of a first overall pick. The most valuable assets the Nuggets gave away in this deal are the two 1st Round picks in this years draft, a draft that has scouts all over the league absolutely salivating, but the Nuggets want to be great now and adding Iverson is an excellent way to accomplish that goal.

I guarantee you the Sixers made this trade because of the prospect of having three first round picks in this years NBA draft (the two they got from the Nuggets and their own). The draft is supposed to be full of talented and skilled players ready to make an immediate impact in this league including guys like Ohio State’s Greg Oden, Texas’ Kevin Durant and Florida’s Joakim Noah. The Sixers should finish close to last in the league if not last and that should give them an excellent shot at getting Greg Oden with the first overall pick. With two more picks in the first round alone, the Sixers would have the chance to surround young talented players like Korver, Dalembert and Iguodala with even more young and talented players giving them a lineup that could compete in this league for a very long time. Teams usually need a couple of years to rebuild but the Sixers will have the ability to rebuild their team in just one (especially if they get Oden). Andre Miller is a good but not great point guard who can definitely step into a larger role for Philadelphia but I really don’t think he is a main piece of the puzzle for the Sixers’ future plans.

The trade gives both teams the pieces they need to better their teams and really, isn’t that what the holiday seas…I mean fair trades are all about?

Happy Holidays!


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Stern too harsh? No way. Too Lenient…?

By now everyone has seen the huge fight that took place at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night (and if you haven’t just check it out here in the NBA section) and hopefully everyone has heard of the strict punishments Darth Stern has handed out this week to all those involved. A total of seven players (out of ten who were actually ejected from the game, if that makes sense) were suspended and each team was actually fined $500,000 in an effort to hopefully avoid further similar “events” and preserve the NBA’s already decaying image.

So Stern got the opportunity to dish out some pain this week and honestly, I don’t think he took full advantage. We all know that Stern has been trying to turn the NBA’s players into little 12 year old boy scouts who can do no wrong and after the massive fight Saturday night, I really thought that Carmelo Anthony would be reported as missing and Nate Robinson would wind up in a crate on a cargo plane on its way to somewhere in Nicaragua. Hey, it could happen. The lucky winner to receive Stern’s largest suspension of 15 games was none other than Carmelo (no surprise there) while Nate Robinson and J.R. Smith got 10 games each. I don’t know about you, but personally I think I would have given Anthony way more games because when the fight looked to be over and everyone was starting to calm down, he comes over and punches a Knick player in the face and starts the fight up all over again. I’m not saying Stern dropped the ball because his punishments were definitely reasonable but considering the response from writers and analysts, like Wilbon and Kornheiser, he could have gotten away with much more.


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Nuggets and Knicks all out brawl at MSG

Tonight (December 16, 2006) marked the second full out team on team brawl in the NBA in the last three years. The first was one I think we all remember between the Pistons and Pacers in Detroit, although that one was much more serious as it involved fans rather than just players. Tonight, the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks got into a huge fight that will most likely warrant practically the entire rosters of both teams being suspended but in all honesty the damage has been done. The NBA is a league desperately trying to change its image and events like these certainly don’t help Stern’s cause. The commish is constantly inventing new rules every year in an attempt to reverse the horrible image that the NBA claims it has and after tonight, you have just got to wonder if its working.

The fight started after a very flagrant foul by Marty Collins on J.R. Smith and resulted in the ejection of a total of ten players. “According to the Knicks, the whole thing happened because the Nuggets still had their starters on the floor with 1:15 left and a 19-point lead. Denver won 123-100.” Maybe one of the worst excuses I have ever heard. I mean sure the Nuggets should have cut them some slack because you never try and embarrass a team especially on their home court but to start a fight like that, someone better have a much better excuse than that. The Knicks are bad and everybody knows it so frustration is bound to spill over onto the court but it seems to me like the NBA may have a much more serious problem than we thought…or maybe Stern has realized and we just haven’t caught up.

Either way, the only one that suffers because of these childish displays of immaturity by overly paid celebrity athletes is the NBA. Simple, right? Not if you ask David Stern.

By the way…Carmelo can throw one hell of a punch!

The Big Fight! Knicks-Nuggets Brawl 16.12.06

Sorry they must have taken it off youtube so heres another one.


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Jay Williams is coming back!

Jay Williams is coming back and you can definitely count me as one of the many basketball fans who are happy about it. Years after the number 2 overall pick in the Yao Ming draft crashed his motorcycle and suffered several injuries that threatened the future of his NBA career, Jay Williams is making his comeback. This is a guy that was drafted by the Bulls back in 2002 and was expected to be their franchise point guard for years before his accident. A Duke alumni, Jay Williams is a born leader with the skills to back up his talk but that is only part of why I’m happy he is coming back. In a league where the commissioner (Darth Stern) has constantly preached image and described the current NBA image as “unacceptable” (I mean just ask anyone on the Pacers…Cough…Stephen Jackson…Cough), Williams brings his selfless, humble and team oriented style and personality back to the league he once called home (even though it was only for about a year). The league has begun to adopt players like Wade and James because they are players who put the team ahead of themselves and thats exactly the type of person Jay is. I mean he crashed his motorcycle after speaking to youths at a basketball camp about personal responsibility.

If anyone deserves a second chance its Jay.


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