Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Picks Recap 12/27, Bobcats' Future, Wild Knicks Game


1) I will institute the policy of using paragraphs in my picks and pick recaps!

2) I will not talk about games that bored me or teams about whom I feel I have adequately vociferated (shout out to Walt Clyde Frazier) my opinions.

I know things have been changing a lot over here lately, what with me bolding my winning picks, using a picture. Well, I'll just have to hope that my vast readership is able to adapt well to change and is equipped with a scroll wheel.

Stat of the night: New York beats Detroit despite the fact that Detroit had 36 more field goal attempts.


My rights:

Washington beats Charlotte: Gerald Wallace had a monster game (40 points, 14 rebounds, 6 steals, 4 blocks) and kept Charlotte in this game. Many people have questioned whether Wallace's big concussion-inducing fall early in the season had permanently affected his all out style of play, making him less aggressively pursue shot blocks (last year he averaged 2.1 bpg, this year only .6). After 9 straight games without a block, and 19 straight with no more than 1 block in a game, Wallace has shown signs that the scar wasn't permanent. He's blocked a shot in each of his last 6 games and had multiple blocks in 3 of those games. When he stays healthy, Wallace is a big time player. If he had put up the same #s he did last year on a good team, he probably would have made the all-star team.

It's too bad that Bobcats ownership isn't committed to winning, because they have a nice young group and are only a piece or two away from being a competitive team. Not only are they below the cap, but their total salary is lower than the league minimum. Their total salary is about 9 million lower than the next lowest team. They could easily have played the role of facilitator in the Iverson trade, and had their choice of role players with middle salaries, without giving up a thing (Maggette, Troy Murphy, I'm sure if they had investigated there would have been even more options).

Word is that they are losing money (they recently laid off employees and dropped ownership of the WNBA's Sting) and they believe the best way to not lose money is to be tightwads. No doubt, particularly in a small market, it's important to spend your $ carefully, and I'm no expert on building a financially robust NBA franchise, but if I turn to the rest of the NBA for evidence, refusing to even give your team an opportunity to be successful is not the key to winning over fans or being a profitable team. There are plenty of other small market teams, but the only team below the salary cap (different from the luxury tax threshold) is the Atlanta Hawks, and that is only because their ownership situation is in disarray. You can't tell me that Charlotte is a unique city in terms of what the best strategy for making money off of an NBA team is. Hell, all you have to do is look back to when the Hornets were in Charlotte. They had big stars in Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, Vlade Divac, Glenn Rice. When they were winning, Charlotte was hopping with crazy Hornets fans. It wasn't until George Shinn traded away LJ, Mourning and all the rest of their popular guys that the fans turned away.

So far Charlotte's strategy has been to draft local products and to draft guys that they think have fan appeal. Coincidentally, Charlotte came into the league at a time when Euro hype was at an all time high, and the "go to college" rule wasn't in effect yet, so many solid college players were overlooked, and Charlotte stole Sean May with the 13th pick. They also lucked out with the underrated Brevin Knight. Knight came to the Bobcats after bouncing around with 4 different teams the previous year. In his last 6 years as a pro he had averaged 53 1/2 games per season. In his previous four seasons, his highest ppg was 7 and his highest assist/game was 5.9. In his first two years in Charlotte he is averaging 11 points and 9 assists. Last year was the first time he'd averaged over 30mpg since his second season. This guy came out of nowhere and was a real gift. Not only that, they stole a gem from Sac in the expansion draft in G. Wallace , and got a solid backup big in Primoz Brezec from Indy.

They already screwed up by drafting Morrison, a guy that was way overhyped and who I don't have a hard time imagining fighting to stay in the league when his rookie contract is up. This was a weak draft so they didn't miss too much, but Roy, Foye or Gay would have been much better selections. And don't tell me Charlotte didn't know this. They chose morrison in another ploy to try to get fans to the games. I even have sneaking suspicion that adding Michael Jordan as an advisor, or whatever he is, was just another ploy to try to generate interest in this team. He doesn't seem to be doing anything.

What am I getting at here? Opportunity is knocking for Charlotte. These guys are in a situation where if they go out and spend 20 million next summer, upgrade their bench and their shooting guard spot, move felton so we can stop pretending Knight isn't the leader of this team, stop playing morrison 35mpg, and they, still well below the luxury tax, are probably a dangerous 4 or 5 seed in the east.

Fans will show up then.

Cleveland beats Atlanta: (see? I'm not gonna talk about this one)

New York beats Detroit in Triple OT: I didn't catch the Phoenix/Nets game so for me this was by far the most exciting game I've watched all year. There were about 5 different instances where I was sure the game was over:
1) New York up 3 with 9 seconds left in regulation (Delfino hits a 3)
2) Detroit up 3 with 25 remaining in the first overtime (Billups fouls Marbury on a 3).
3) Marbury fouls out with 2:06 left in the second OT and the knicks down 3
4) Detroit up 4 with 18 seconds left in the second OT, then by 1 with Billups going to the line for tw FTs (billups missed 1 of 2, Frye makes a buzzer beater to tie).
5) New York up 6 with 13 seconds left in the 3rd OT (this time I was right).

This game could easily have ended up in a 4th overtime if Hamilton hadn't been dead tired. He was 0-4 in the third OT.

What made this game veer a little away from the historic and towards the absurd was the number of EASY opportunities the teams, particularly Detroit, screwed up in this game:

1) The Knicks had a foul to give on Detroit's possession of regulation. They had ample opportunity to give it and make Detroit try to get a 3 with even less time. No one did.
2) Even if he Knicks chose not to foul, why wasn't David Lee up on Delfino? The pistons needed a three. There was no need for him to step away.
3) Billups blatantly fouls Marbury on a 28 foot three point attempt, then goes down the court and instead of getting hte ball to the red hot rip hamilton, decides to take a 28 footer of his own, even though he had been cold all night. Billups clearly wanted to make up for his blunder on the previous play by being a hero. I thought the Pistons were ego-less.
4) Mohammed caught Billups' missed three and missed an easy layup.
5) Detroit missed two dunks in this game and Mohammed missed countless chip ins and layups off of offensive rebounds. There were sequences where the Pistons got 3 straight offensive rebounds and still failed to convert.

Despite the mistakes, this game was still really exciting. It was close the whole way - no team led by more than 5 after the halftime until the Knicks went up 6 in the 3rd OT. The Knicks are one game behind the Raps for first in the Atlantic, but they have to go on a West coast trip, so I don't know that they'll be taking the lead for a bit.

One last thing to note is that the Knicks beat Phoenix last year in triple-OT and went on to win six straight games.

Milwaukee beats Memphis: Bucks are good.

Chicago beats Miami: Wade goes down. Doesn't sound too bad (X-Rays negative). he stayed in at first, then left for precautionary reasons. The Bulls are confirming that their recent hot streak was something of a mirage. They have lost to the T-wolves, Knicks, and now only managed a 6 point win against the heat. They were playing against guys who would ride the pine on any healthy and competitive team. They were also playing the team that they beat by 40 on opening night. Go figure.

Portland beats New Orleans: I'm shedding a tear for the poor hornets.

Sacramento beats Philadelphia: Andre Miller is already frustrated. Why else would he attempt 19 shots. DOn't worry Andre, Larry Brown should be wise enough to advise his team to move you.

My wrongs:

Minnesota loses to Toronto: Couldn't minny have scored 1 more point so they woulda covered? Toronto's tough at home. Mo-Pete gets a DNP? This is killing my fantasy teams too. We have confirmation, what I conceded could be true appears to be the reality over in Toronto: TJ Ford is good.

"But Max, why weren't the more talented Bucks more successful when Ford was with them?"

"Brain, if you weren't such a moron you would understand that the dude had just missed 108 straight games with a bruised spinal cord. Why don't you do your job and think."

"But he showed no signs of being held back by the injury last year and he didn't impress too much his rookie season."

"Hmm your right. Maybe just Brian Colangelo's presence as a GM makes point guards like five times as good as they used to be."

"Now you're thinking, Max."

Blah. Minny sucks. Trade Garnett.

Lakers beat Orlando: There's a reason I rated my confidence in my pick as 1/5. I didn't trust that Kobe wouldn't get his act together. He actually didn't play all that well, but Orlando really sucks. Where has their mojo gone? Hedo played.

Houston whoops New Jersey: I am at that point where I am pretty much ready to count the Nets out. A team that is ready for a turnaround doesn't mail in a game against a team missing it's best player, especially when they are coming off a hard loss. No, they channel that frustration and abuse the Rockets. The Nets played tired, but the Rockets were the ones who should have - T-Mac hadn't played in weeks, and Bonzi is still out of shape. The Rockets, outside of Battier, played a bad game. They turned the ball over 24 times. Yet they still blew out the Nets. I think the Nets would have lost to a CBA team last night (especially if that CBA team featured Matt Barnes).

Clips swat Boston: Wally and Perkins were back. Didn't matter. Al Jefferson falling back to earth? Brand has to shoot 11/15 just to get to 25 points? Clips still are in trouble.

Last night: 7-4
Overall: 42-40 (woo hoo, I've covered an NBA season's worth of games! Hopefully I've also predicted the Knicks' record!)
Pick of the night: 2-1

Picks for 12/27

Washington -5 at Charlotte----- Confidence factor: 4 Sean May was supposed to be out for 1-2 weeks with his ankle sprain. It's been 8 days. He hasn't exactly been a trooper in terms of coming back early from injuries though, so I'd count him out. No word that Knight will be back, and since he didn't play last night, I'll assume he's out. Washington, winners of 5 out of 6 and 8 of 10, is the easy pick here.

Cleveland -5 1/2 at Atlanta----- Confidence factor: 2 Josh Smith is out indefinitely for Atlanta after having hernia surgery. Lue and Claxton both missed last game and although the AP preview claims they should play, I will believe Claxton is playing when I see him on the floor. Cleveland is having trouble on the road, but the only player that Cleveland has to think much about on defense is Joe Johnson. As long as Cleveland doesn't absolutely bomb on this game they should come away with a W. Josh Smith has missed 6 games in his 3 year career (impressive eh?), and the only one Atlanta won was in November '04, the 7th game of Smith's rookie season. The closest of the other 5 was a 7 point loss two games after that win. Even though I hate to pick an underperforming team, I have to go Cleveland.

Minnesota +2 at Toronto----- Confidence factor: 4 Is my disdain for what Minnesota's imprisonment of KG biasing my judgement? They blew a 24 point lead last game, but still won and beat the cover by a point. Okay, I'll give Minnesota some credit. This team is playing defense. Foye looks good. Every time they find him minutes he puts up decent numbers, including a game winner the other night against Chicago. One storyline to watch here is it is Mike James' first game back in Toronto. Is he one of those guys who loves to stick it to old teams? Last year with Toronto he put up 19 and 30 against Houston. Not really noteworthy, although he had his career year in Toronto, not Houston. I think I'll pick Minnesota for perhaps the first time this year? I still believe that it is a travesty that KG is stuck on this team. One more time folks,



Lakers +2 at Orlando----- Confidence factor: 1 Kobe was sick last game. That's why he let Wade torch him on the first ABC game of the year. I see no reason why he won't still be sick one night later. The magic have had serious trouble scoring and the Lakers have a dominating history against Orlando. Of course the lakers have a dominating history in general. Then again, the lakers haven't exactly proven that they can be successful without Odom (3-4 so far). I'll take Orlando.

Houston +6 1/2 at New Jersey----- Confidence factor: 3 T-Mac comes back just in time for a back to back. Hopefully that doesn't trigger his back going back to the back it was two weeks ago. That would be a short comeback. Are things finally truly coming apart for the Nets? This is now their second heartbreaking (backbreaking?) loss of the season to a premiere team. That nets didn't wig out on the officials in that first loss. They did not hesitate to do so after losing to detroit (Kidd even criticized an official by name). There will be fines. As much as I'd like to just write the Nets off, I think they've gone about as low as a team with this kind of talent can go. I think they will start their turnaround tonight. That being said, 6 1/2 points??? I know Houston has no Yao, but T-Mac is playing and they only lost by 5 to Indiana. Bonzi is playing more minutes every game. Both Bonzi and T-Mac have reason to be tired on the second night of a back to back, and the Nets are discovering that Josh Boone can be a contributor. I go with the Nets to cover, despite the fact taht I find the spread rather large.

Detroit -5 1/2 at New York----- Confidence factor: 3 Knicks get Jared Jeffries back tonight and have had 2 days to rest their weary bones. Detroit is on the second night of a back to back. They were at home in Detroit last night. Detroit does match up pretty well with New York and the Knicks have a tough time against disciplined teams, but I think that they will come out and play competitive basketball. They may not win, but I think they'll cover.

Milwaukee +1 at Memphis----- Confidence factor: 3 Well games start soon, so I'm going to have to rush through these last 5 games. Bucks are hot. It's funny, the bucks have two second round picks and an undrafted guy starting at the 1, 2 and 3, and they might be the most prolific scoring backcourt trio in the league. Memphis, even with Gasol doing his thing, lacks the cohesion to stop these guys from going off.

Miami +5 1/2 at Chicago----- **PICK OF THE NIGHT** Confidence factor: 4 Wade has had a day to recovery from his performance on christmas. Chicago is on the second night of a back to back. It don't matter. The bulls annihilated the heat on opening night. They gave miami a real hard time last year in the playoffs. Hinrich has done an excellent job defending wade. The bulls also have Duhon and sepholosha to throw at him. Go Chicago here.

New Orleans +8 at Portland----- Confidence factor: 2 Paul is out 2 games. Portland has been very consistent this year and I think it's about time Roy puts his name out on ESPN with a big game, and jumps ahead of.... hmmm.... well, jumps ahead in the ROY race. New Orleans players must be feeling exasperated.

Philadelphia +8 at Sacramento----- Confidence factor: 3 Does the Artest trade controversy fuel sac's fire? Does it matter? Philly seems intent on losing as much as they can this season, and so they should. They aren't going anywhere and this draft is deep. Rodney Carney is not a good player now. I understand he put up some points in last game, but most of them came after the game was out of hand. Carney doesn't do the little things. Why do you think Craphead Barnes went off? No one was covering him.

Boston +7 1/2 at Los Angeles----- Confidence factor: 3

Clippers suck!

. Whew, that felt nice. Boston is very very young at this point, but they have a a couple of wise youngsters who should steady them enough against these clippers. Delonte West and Ryan Gomes are two guys whose influence on a team goes deeper than what you find in a box score.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

picks recap 12/26

My rights:

Washington beats Memphis: Wiz cover. Arenas has a nice game. Doesn't get to 50 points but is quite efficient. Wiz's entire "big three" played well.

Bucks beat the Spurs: Ginobili and Barry were out which makes this game a little less surprising. I'm not sure that Barry mattered, but Ginobili would have been some help. Redd did his thing. Like I said, he likes to abuse the Spurs and Pistons.

Utah beats Clippers: Clips are looking at acquiring Ron Artest. He'll never be a long term solution, but things can't get any worse than they are now. Maybe Billy Crystal can tell me what is happening at these Clipper games.

Seattle beats New Orleans: Ray Allen shot an extremely rare 4/8 from the free throw line. Fortunately he shot just fine on his other shots, including a big late 3 pointer with the shot clock running down and the Hornets making a late rally. The real story here is Chris Paul, who went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter. He's young and I don't think it was too bad, so I'm guessing he won't be out too long, but this team is sorry. Look for another favorite bench warmer of mine, Jannero Pargo, to get big minutes. Wow man, I don't know if I've ever seen a team as depleted as the Hornets are.

Denver beats Boston: Three guys had double digit rebounds for Denver: Nene, Najera and Evans. These guys are all bruisers - just the kind of enforcers you need to protect, rebound, set screens for AI and Carmelo. This win wasn't that impressive. The Nuggets won't be fantastic until they get their brawlers back, but I think this team could do some damage. Think '99 Knicks - the Knicks had Camby as well, and they had a bruiser in Kurt Thomas at PF. Sprewell and Houston did all the scoring. The Knicks didn't need a big post man because Sprewell and Houston were both dangerous scorers out of the post. They had Larry Johnson too, but he was not the focal point of their offense, and a big part of his value came from his willingness to play tough D and be the 3rd option on offense. The Knicks finished in the 8th seed in the lockout shortened season, and shocked the world by knocking out the #1 seed Miami heat and making a run all the way to the finals. I could see a similar scenario playing out here, with Denver finishing in the 6-8 seed range, and playing Dallas, San Antonio or Phoenix. Phoenix is tough, but I think the Nuggets could knock out the Spurs or Mavs (or both).

Look, that's a two-armed hug! Latrell Sprewell had no problem getting along with Allan Houston. Can Carmelo and AI replicate their success?

My wrongs:

Pistons beat New Jersey: Detroit didn't cover. They were up big early, nets came back, up big again in the 3rd and the Nets came back. The Nets can sense their season slipping away here. They lashed out at the officials after VC didn't get a foul call on his last second attempt. Even Rasheed admitted that in almost any other situation that woulda been a foul. I watched the replay and it was definitely a foul, but I've seen worse fouls go uncalled. Either way, a game isn't lost or won on one play, and the Nets had their fair share of favorable calls. Watch out for Josh Boone - Frank is realizing what I've been saying here. Boone played a career high 30 minutes and finished with 6 points and 12 rebounds. Also noteworthy is that Rasheed Wallace went nuts in the 1st quarter, scoring 16 of his 21 points, all before Boone came in. Why? Because Boone can move!

Minnesota beats Chicago: Chicago came back from a 24 point 3rd quarter deficit to tie this game with 7 seconds left. Randy Foye then came down and made a 6 footer with about 2 seconds left, and Nocioni missed for the Bulls in their final attempt. On a side note, let's get one thing straight: Luol Deng is not a future all-star. Okay, maybe he'll make the all-star team once or twice, but he is not that great of a player. He knows what his strengths are and plays to them, and he plays hard, but he doesn't do anything exceptionally well and he isn't that physically gifted. In fact, for a starting small forward he's a little slow. He's a good defender, but he is about as close to Scottie Pippen as Ben Gordon is to Jordan. The fact that he's a clean cut, and apparently good person -- An under control player who knows his role, doesn't make him any better of a basketball player. KG should have taken it easy on his future team. This loss may hurt their playoff seed.

Phoenix blows out Portland: Portland couldn't keep up. Phoenix jumped ahead early and Portland never got close.

Golden State blows out Philly: God, somebody get Matt Barnes back to the CBA. Not only did he destroy Philly, preventing them from any chance at covering, but he is on two of the teams I am facing in my fantasy basketball league. Seven three pointers and 89% fgs is a real pain in the ass to come back against. Baron Davis also had a nice game, and Rodney Carney scored a career high 25 points on 12/22 shooting. He also had a career high 8 rebounds, something that he had been doing very little of until last night.

My ????s:

Dallas beats Charlotte: Dallas won by 13 and that's what the spread was. Morrison shot 50%. Someone send him some sugar-free cookies so he can celebrate. I think this team could break the record for fewest wins in a season if they didn't have Knight or May.

Indy beats Houston: I should have finalized my pick in more certain terms. The spread ended up being 3 1/2 but I didn't realize that until it was two late, and my pick of Indy by 4 and later my update of maybe taking off a point or two, left this pick to ambiguous. T-Mac returned, started slow (1-7), finished 7/22 with 7 turnovers. Bonzi contributed 11 points and 6 rebounds in a season high 32 minutes. He's the key if this team wants to get through these injuries and still be in the playoff hunt.

Last night: 5-4-2(???)

Overall: 35-36 (we're dropping those two odd games)

Pick of the night: 1-1

It Takes None


Wade beats no one: It wasn't Kobe vs. Wade, it was Wade vs. no one. If I see Ronny Turiaf's picture under "top performers" in the Yahoo box score, that means that LA didn't come to play. I said Wade would have to outperform Kobe to have a shot at winning. I can't find the exact quote but Wade said something like, "That was the best all around game I've had." Reports say that Kobe had a "touch of the flu." Whatever. He didn't get up for the game at all. Phil Jackson suggested to his team at halftime that maybe he should stay in the locker room and watch A Christmas Carol while the team went back out to play. They all should have just stayed in the locker room. They could have recruited some fans to come in and play the second half. That would have been entertaining at least.

Last night's record: 0-1

Overall: 30-32


Memphis +7 1/2 at Washington----- Confidence factor: 3 It seems that lately in every recap of a wiz win or preview of a wiz game, we get an Eddie Jordan quote that goes something like this: "He wants to show he's going to be one of the greatest of all time." Jordan is trying to motivate Arenas to go nuts, put up 50 again. He's so streaky and the streaks are so psychological that Jordan can't help but try. I would love to see Arenas coached by Phil Jackson, just to here what kind of crazy things Jackson would say and to to try to get Arenas to go off. Arenas seems to have a bad game every 6-10 games. He had a bad one just 3 games ago at Denver (10/30 fgs). I see him playing well enough to cover.

Houston at Indiana (No spread available)----- Confidence factor: NA T-Mac should be back tonight. Dike should log big minutes again and if T-Mac doesn't play, expect the scoring load to fall on Luther Head. Historically, McGrady has played pretty well in his 1st game back off injury. I will pick Indiana by 4 which if they ever release a spread, will probably have me picking Houston. UPDATE: It looks like O'Neal is sitting out with the flu. I think Indy still wins this one, maybe knock off a point or two.

New Jersey +7 at Detroit----- Confidence factor: 2 Welcome to the post-Krstic world. Please, Krstic is not that great of a player. If the nets felt that they could make a run before he got hurt, they should still do fine after. They need to play more Moore and Josh Boone needs to have a boon in his minutes. These guys can't replace Krstic, but they bring a different element to the game. I don't think Frank will become desperate enough to open his mind to this reality after just one loss, so House will probably start again. That means VC gets to guard Nazr Mohammed. Detroit's front line isn't as intimidating as it once was, but they should still get the job done against a reeling NJ team.

Chicago +1 at Minnesota----- Confidence factor: 4 I don't have time for this. Trade KG.

Milwaukee +9 at San Antonio----- Confidence factor: 4 Did San Antonio release enough of its rage over losing to Houston when they whooped the Hornets? I think so. The Bucks have always given the Spurs and Pistons trouble. Well, that is to say, Michael Redd has. The Spurs seem to sleep at predictable times. They don't play hard against bad teams unless something else is motivating them (IE a recent bad loss). After having some Christmas jollity, I don't see the Spurs coming out with the intensity it will take to shut down Redd and the Bucks.

Charlotte +13 at Dallas----- Confidence factor: 4 The fantasy dude over at is saying that Knight is going to be out until after new years. In his report, published today, he also conflicts the reports that McGrady will play, so I don't know how up to date this guy is. He doesn't cite any sources, and the preview for this game says that the Bobcats are "hopeful" that Knight will play. I'm sick of getting burned by picking the Bobcats only to see that Knight sat out and 'Cats were blown out, So I go with Dallas.

Clippers +7 1/2 at Utah----- Confidence factor: 5 **PICK OF THE NIGHT** Cassell says he's going to have to sit for a while. Utah had some precarious moments on their recent road trip, losing to NY and Charlotte and scraping out 4th quarter comebacks against Atlanta and Memphis. They will rejoice and relax after being home and enjoying some Christmas pot roast and get back to their dominating ways against the Clips.

Portland +12 1/2 at Phoenix----- Confidence factor: 1 This is a tough pick. It's hard to say how Phoenix will respond to Arenas single handedly ending their win streak. Either way, they've played a lot of mediocre teams close, so even though their last game against Portland was a blowout, I'll take portland to cover.

New Orleans +6 at Seattle----- Confidence factor: 2 Only six points? Does Ray Allen play his second consecutive big game after returning from injury? As much as I'd like to take New Orleans here, just because they're playing a team with only a bit more talent, I think Allen has been aching to get back and has a big game tonight.

Philadelphia +6 at Golden State----- Confidence factor: 2 Ellis is hurt. Hard to get a read on the new Sixers. Wins against Boston without Pierce and Wally, and New York without almost 1/2 their team for a week, don't say much to me. I like that Iguodala is getting more shots here and I think this team will win more than they would have with just a mopey AI. The ball is going to move. Golden State is coming off of a weak performance. J-Rich is sort of back, but is clearly far from 100%. Gotta go with Philly here.

Boston +6 1/2 at Denver----- AI will have to carry Denver on offense here. Big time. Denver will again be without their defensive anchor, Marcus Camby. Denver still has defensive stopper Yakhouba Diawara and a big man to cover al jefferson in Nene. But again they have no one who can shoot the ball except for their little guy. I think a general lack of leadership (certainly none coming from the bench) will leave Boston disorganized on both sides of the floor. Their one strength is that they have little guys who can cover the perimeter, but I don't think anyone will be stopping AI in these first few honeymooning weeks.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

12/23 disasterous picks recap, Christmas game


Kobe Bryant -1 at Dwayne Wade----- Confidence factor: 3 Yes, it's Kobe vs. Wade, not the Lakers vs. the Heat. "It takes 5" you say? Is that you, KG, Gilbert, Paul Pierce, whoever else Adidas is paying? Are you insinuating that I'm a fool for labeling this Kobe vs Wade? Well you are also insinuating that the NBA is a fool, because that's how they are advertising this game. You know why? Because that's why people will watch it. It's the more interesting storyline here when both of these teams are missing their 2nd best players, one of them has yet to beat a .500+ team, and the other is playing well, but is probably playing to the top of it's potential. I know if I bother to watch this game I won't be anxiously watching to see if Jason Kapono can set a new career high. I'll be watching to see how these guys go at each other. And in the end, D-Wade will definitely have to outperform Kobe to get this win. The Lakers have shown that they have some other players outside of Kobe. There's no way that I can pick against the Lakers here. Kobe is more of a killer than Wade and I can't see him not getting up for this game.


Last night was a disaster for me in terms of picks. There were also some bad injuries.

My wrongs:

Minny beats Indy: Minny held Indiana to 21 points in the second half and KG dominated the poor man's version of himself, Jermaine O'Neal. This was an ugly one. Both teams shot under 40% and below 65% from the FT line. I'm glad I didn't watch.

Philly dismantles NY: This is an easy one to evaluate. The knicks were dead tired. Philly played decently well but you could see about 1/2 way into the second quarter that the Knicks were french toast. There was a lot of dribbling off of feet, fumbled passes, rebounds slipping out of hands, etc.

Miami beats Golden State: I went with the wild card and the wild card didn't get wild. Baron goes for only 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Monta Ellis is our first injury, although it looked like Miami was going to win even before Ellis went down. Here's how AP describes Ellis' injury:

[Ellis] remained face down on the court for three minutes, tapping the toes of his sneakers on the court and grimacing in agony. [He] was eventually rolled over onto his back, while being tended to by members of both teams' medical staffs, then was helped off the court as he clutched his side.

Utah beats Memphis (doesn't cover): What can I say, Utah again started slow against a shit team. They came back but fell a point short of covering. Carlos Boozer sure has been turning the ball over a lot. TO's in last 6 games: 5, 3, 3, 7, 4, 5. That's an average of 4.5 TOs. Before these last six games he was averaging only 2 TOs. From watching him play a couple times this season it seems like the points he gets in the halfcourt come off of post fadeaways or turn and shoots, and particularly against new york, the zone defense allowed a second defender to come from the blindside and strip him.

New Jersey loses to Milwaukee: The Nets made a little comeback in the end but fell way short. Bucks played a decent game, but nothing to write to Herb Kohl about. The nets decided to move Carter to PF, matching him up against Brian Skinner, and bring Eddie House into the starting lineup. The move hardly paid dividends early, but house did play a role in their comeback try (did I mention it fell way short?). Josh Boone played about 5 times as many minutes as he has in the past, and was productive (2 points, 2 blocks, a steal and 7 rebounds in 18 minutes). I sincerely hope lawrence frank realizes that unless Boone grows up quickly, the Nets are going to be an easy out if they are fortunate enough to even make the playoffs. If Frank refuses to play him and Moore, the Nets will join Minnesota and the Clippers on my list of teams that are clueless and annoying. Oh yeah, and Vince Carter didn't score until more than halfway through the 3rd quarter!! This guy is supposed to be playing hard. It's a contract year. Oh and word arrived before this game that Krstic is done for the season with a torn ACL.

Clippers beat Houston: Yao is out at least 6 weeks with a fractured knee (sounds painful). He only played 5 minutes and yet the Clips still just pulled this one out.

Chicago wallops Charlotte: Charlotte sucks without brevin Knight. They are still sucky with him, but at least competitive. He doesn't play and the Bulls treat Charlotte like they treated Miami in the first game of the season.

Seattle beats Toronto: Ray-Ray shot 5/6 from three. This game was a 3 point game heading into the 4th quarter, but seattle was just on last night. They shot 51% from the field and 91% from the line. Toronto couldn't keep up.

My rights:

Detroit beats Atlanta: About as much as you could expect with both Claxton and Lue out for Atlanta.

Cleveland beats Orlando (orlando covers): This game turned out exactly as I expected. I suppose the law of averages forces me to be right now and then.

San Antonio destroys New Orleans: I feel bad for the Hornets. Unlike many bad teams, the hornets play to their potential. They don't have young guys who can come out and surprise you with 25 on any given night. They just had no chance for a San Antonio team looking to throttle someone after getting whooped by their nextdoor neighbors.

Last night: 3-8

Overall: 30-31

Pick of the night: 0-1


Saturday, December 23, 2006

picks tonight (12/23)

Okay starting tonight I'm adding two elements to my picks. First I'm going to give a confidence rating of 1 through 5 (5 meaning I'm quite confident in my pick). Second I am going to have a pick of the night. I will track my pick of the night record separately.

Timberwolves +4 1/2 at Indiana----- Confidence factor: 2. The first meeting of the year between these two teams. Indy has been looking good. KG and Ricky Davis sat in Minny's last game in Indiana and the Wolves lost by 12. Indy has had some solid wins in their recent streak of 4 wins in 5 games. I go with Indy here, but more out of disrespect for the Wolves than respect for the Pacers.

Orlando +7 1/2 at Cleveland----- Confidence factor: 3. Orlando is coming off of a home loss to GS, but as I said in my recap of that game, Baron Davis controlled that game. Orlando was helpless. GS also has many more tools than Cleveland does. If Cleveland wins this game it will be in a gritty and tight fought defensive battle.

New York +3 at Philadelphia----- Confidence factor: 4. Can't pick against New York after that convincing victory over Chicago, especially when Philly is playing its first game with Miller and Smith. Historically NY has given up big games to bad players like Willie Green. Andre Miller has also had some good success against the Knicks. I don't consider it out of the question that Philly pulls this one out, but if the Knicks play defense like they have in any of these last 3 games, they should easily dispose of the Sixers.

Atlanta +10 1/2 at Detroit----- Confidence factor: 4. Atlanta has struggled to finish games lately. They are at full strength and they only lost by 5 in their last visit to Detroit. In most of Detroit's losses you will find that big games from the opposition's post man led them to victory. Atlanta has no post presence to speak of. I also feel that Detroit is a team of streaks and they have really picked things up since they last met Atlanta.

Golden State +5 1/2 at Miami----- Confidence factor: 2. Golden State now has it's wild card in Baron Davis. Davis is hot. He's carried them in their recent road winning streak. J-Rich still ain't right, but they've got plenty of other talent. I'll go with the wild card here and say Davis stays hot. The heat have no chance if he does.

San Antonio -9 1/2 at New Orleans----- Confidence factor: 2. San Antonio is coming off of an embarrassing trampling at home against Houston. New Orleans also looked somewhat energized in their home victory against Memphis. I think the embarrassment motivates the spurs to a 10+ point victory.

Utah -4 at Memphis----- Confidence factor: 4. Okur has a bruised chest. Utah has been far from dominant on this road trip (2-2). The question I'm asking myself is, did Utah lose to Charlotte because Charlotte can only win against premiere teams, or was it just a poor performance? I'm not sure, but one thing I can say is that the Knicks have shown that they're performance against Utah wasn't a fluke, so that provides some relief for what could have been labeled an embarrassment for Utah. They also beat an Indiana team which has surrounded that loss with 4 wins. I think Utah wins this. If Okur sits, that's fine - Kirilenko gets to play PF where he is much more comfortable and Millsap steps in.

New Jersey +4 at Milwaukee----- **PICK OF THE NIGHT** Confidence factor: 5. The bucks are an inconsistent team. The Nets are without Krstic, but to me this is a good thing. This opens the door for more PT for Mikki Moore and Josh Boone. The Nets need athletic big men on the court, and Lawrence Frank's refusal to put these guys out there is quite annoying. Krstic is a decent low post guy, but he doesn't rebound and he doesn't block shots. Carter could turn out to be a better post player than Krstic and either way it will force the nets to run more. Look for a blowout.

Clippers +7 1/2 at Houston----- Confidence factor: 3. After the timberwolves the team that I find most annoying is the Clippers. Houston is coming off a big win at San Antonio, but they aren't an explosive streaky team. They just caught the spurs on an off night. The clippers just suck though. They are totally lost. You'd have to add 10 points to that spread for me to pick them.

Charlotte +10 1/2 at Chicago----- Confidence factor: 1. Charlotte doesn't get to be a king killer because the Knicks just dismantled Chicago last night. The Bulls haven't played Charlotte yet this season. Charlotte is a competitive with Knight in the lineup (only 1 15+ point loss). Unfortunately I don't know if Knight will play and he is unlikely to play much if he does. Chicago looked pretty bad against the Knicks. Can they recover in time for tonight's game? I have to take Charlotte here, just because it seems more likely than not that Knight will play.

Toronto +5 at Seattle----- Confidence factor: 3. Ray Allen is supposed to play tonight. He has sat 9 straight games so his minutes and effectiveness may be somewhat limited. He was also shooting pretty poorly before because of the foot injury, so maybe he's pain free and goes nuts. Either way I think TJ Ford will lead this mysteriously successful Toronto team to victory.

last nights games

My Wrongs:

Charlotte beats Utah----- I don't think many people picked this one. As I was thinking over this pick I did consider, for a brief moment, the fact that Charlotte has beaten a lot of good teams. I also considered the fact that Utah really struggles against the zone and Okafor makes the zone appealing for Charlotte. I guess I should have considered those factors more. I don't know though - if they were playing again in Charlotte next week with the same spread I would still pick Utah. Who wouldn't?

Quote from AP recap: Carroll, who hadn't attempted a shot in the first three quarters, launched a 3-pointer from the right wing. Andrei Kirilenko lunged at him and Carroll's follow-through hit him in the mouth, chipping his tooth. The shot fell and Kirilenko was called for the foul.

"It was hanging and he just grabbed it and threw it to the ground," Carroll said. "I said to him, 'Are you OK?' and he said, 'It's just a tooth.' I'm thinking this guy is one tough Russian. I thought he was going to break me the next time I came down court."

Golden State beats Orlando----- J-Rich only played 15 minutes (1/5). The story of this game was Baron Davis (38 points, 9 assists, 4 steals). When you are missing two of your top scorers and a guy with superstar talent is going off like that, you are going to lose. Some guys can just take over a game and that's what Baron did.

New York beats Chicago----- Ben Gordon always has big games against New York and tonight was no exception (27 points). The story of this game however was the Knicks absolute dominance on the boards. The Knicks had 20 offensive rebounds and outrebounded Chicago 57-36. Sick. I don't have to remind you that David Lee is a monster. And he's becoming the leader of this team. He's the one who comes over and unabashedly congratulates teammates when they make plays. He is always having fun and he's teaching the Knicks how to have fun again in the process. Having fun in the pressure of NYC is tough (just look at how NY started off at home), so Lee's effect on this team cannot be overemphasized. And Chicago continued to try to play Andres Nocioni, Deng and Wallace up front. The Knicks had Frye, Curry and Lee in. It's no wonder the Bulls were abused on the boards. It wasn't until late 3rd quarter that Skiles put Mike Sweetney in (remember him?). The Knicks looked like they looked against Utah. Every time someone got beat another guy would step up and help, and the defense recovered off of almost all the passes. Eddy Curry was into it. Jerome James and Kelvin Cato were on the floor at the same time because Lee and Frye were in early foul trouble. They were into it. I think I saw Jerome James contest a 3 pointer for the first time in his life. Also noteworthy is the crap game Hinrich played. He was missing open jumpers. He was passing up open 15 footers. He was committing bad fouls. His #s this year, other than a commendable increase in FG%, are down across the board. I wonder what the problem is. I've always been a fan of his, but it seems like he hasn't improved since his second year.

Indiana beats Atlanta----- Stephen Jackson went off. Joe Johnson's young friends struggled. Claxton still hasn't put together two straight solid games. Maybe next time Atlanta gets it straight? Eh, I maintain long term optimism (as in a couple of months), but they seem to be missing something for the time being.
Toronto beats Portland----- I guess TJ Ford is good. I think that's been my problem in comprehending how Toronto is winning. I still insist that it is in spite of Sam Mitchell and in spite of the fact that that Mo-Pete hardly plays. Brandon Roy almost had a triple double. Maybe Ime Udoka can go to the Nets and join Jason Collins in the starting lineup. His line last night: 20 minutes, 1/8 fgs, 4 pts, 1 rebound, 1 assist. It's funny, if you just looked at the minutes column in the box score for this game, you would be ready to put big money on the fact that this was a bad blowout. Between the two teams there were 3 starters who logged 35+ minutes. And this was an overtime game.

Washington beats Phoenix in OT----- I told you I don't like picking Washington games, but I was pretty confident that they would lose this one. Instead Gilbert Arenas goes nuts again and carries his team into OT then to victory. Yes, he had help, but if he regular old 10/25 fgs, 35 points Gil, the suns are double digit winners. Instead his 54 trump steve nash's career high tying 42 and the Wiz walk away winners. Arenas just likes to be unpredictable. I should try to use logic to pick the rest of the wizards games and then pick the opposite result.

Philadelphia beats Boston----- No wally, no pierce. Wish I'd realized pierce was out. Al Jefferson gets to experience what it's like to be the other team's focus defensively. Gerald Green got big minutes and will continue to until Pierce gets back. We can get something of a better idea if the Celts were wise to hang on to him instead of Iverson. My first impression here is that Green is like JR Smith, athletically gifted, defensively inept and uninterested, and a pretty good shooter.

My Rights:

Lakers beat Nets----- Krstic goes down earlier. VC goes for 33 but on 13/30 shooting. Kobe takes only 13 shots and scores 21 but also has 11 assists. I have no doubt in my mind that Kobe is the best player in the league today. He still has an inferiority complex, but he has learned to hold it back. He understands how to win and he is a bit more sensitive about the fragile psyches of his teammates. And the Nets still suck. Jason Collins plays 30 minutes, doesn't attempt a shot and manages 5 rebounds and a block. When are the nets going to realize that you can't win with a guy like this playing 30 minutes? Kidd is a dangerous passer. He has to work with 1 less target because not only is Collins a below average set shot shooter, but he is practically immobile. He isn't going to run the break, he can't catch the ball inside and then go up. His identical twin Jarron looks so much younger.

Houston beats San Antonio----- Like I said in me preview, the easiest and most effective way to kick Houston's butt is to run and attack. Use athleticism. San Antonio is below average in both athleticism and ability to run. Now guys like Juwan Howard look competent. Bonzi showed up for this one too. Maybe Houston should just let T-Mac have back massages for 8 hours a day until the playoffs. If Bonzi plays well they could still get a 5th seed or so. Then T-Mac would be good and loose.

New Orleans beats Memphis in OT----- Memphis came back late in this came and took the lead. New Orleans took it to OT and by then Gasol had used all the minutes he was allowed. That's the end of the story.

Milwaukee beats Minnesota----- Trade KG. That's all I'm gonna talk about it Minnesota losses until it happens. Trade him. The bucks suck. They didn't even have their second string small forward, Ruben Patterson. KG, look at your roster. Your team is bad and by sitting there and wasting away you aren't helping anyone. All you are doing is allowing Minnesota owners to cash in on your name. That's why they won't trade you - you're a cash cow. It has nothing to do with delusional faith that your team will one day magically click and be good.

Dallas beats Clips----- Dirk played and the mavs won by 32. I maintain that this would still have been a 20 point victory if Dirk had sat. I don't have anything left to say about this team. It's a simple equation. If starting pg ≠ (yes that's the "not equal to" sign) "Sam Cassell", clippers wins = "few far between". Another team that will regret not getting AI.

Sac beats Denver----- Artest sat again. AI had a good opener, but as I predicted the rest of Denver sucked. Also John Salmons had a triple double. Funny, he would be the second best player on the sixers right now if they had signed him instead of Willie Green, Korver and future all-star Kevin Ollie.

Last night's record: 6-6
Overall: 27-23

Friday, December 22, 2006

12/21 picks recap and picks for 12/22


Pistons at Cleveland----- The Pistons pummel the Cavs. This one was close when Lebron was 6/7, not so close when the final buzzer sounded and Lebron was 9/20. To be honest I don't think I can place the blame for this one on Lebron. We all knew that as soon as Lebron made some shots the Pistons would start terrorizing him with double and triple teams. The rest of his team sucks. His supporting cast is remarkable similar to Yao's when T-Mac is out, unathletic, old and uninspired. I know, I already went on an anti-Cavs rant in my preview of this game, but I can't help it. I think were the Cavs in the West, they would have a record similar to Houston's when T-Mac is out (1-4). It is still very very early to start talking about this, but Lebron's story is already starting to look a bit like Minnesota's with KG. I've heard people call Danny Ferry a good GM - how so? What has he done? He signed a deal to be GM in June 05, since then: signed Damon Jones to a 4 year deal worth about $14 million, extended Drew Gooden w/ 3 year $18 million deal, drafted Shannon Brown and Daniel Gibson, signed larry hughes to a 5 year 65 million deal, signed david wesley for 1 year 1.7 million, reupped Zydrunas Ilgauskas 5 years $55 million 4 years and 17 million to Donyell Marshall. So he gave two old players big long term contracts, he paid a one-hit wonder huge money (hughes), signed a guy as a backup guard who is the same player as the guy he signed the year before (damon jones), also a one hit wonder. His draft picks have looked pretty good, particularly gibson, and he got a pretty good deal on the drew gooden contract, but on the whole Ferry's moves look careless and reek of inexperience.

Washington beats Sacramento----- Artest sits, but Kevin Martin, who i thought would sit, goes for 40. I think Artest's absence was no small factor in Martin's outburst. It was also no small factor in the Kings giving up 126 points. Salmons started again and followed up a poor performance by shooting 10/14 and scoring 24. He also added 5 assists and 4 steals. Washington didn't seem particularly motivated on defense. Let me get this straight - the Wizards hired Eddie Jordan out from Byron Scott's coaching staff because he was supposedly the defensive mastermind behind the Nets' defensive dominance during their k-mart/kittles/conference finals years. Defense is all about discipline. Not only does this team have no defensive discipline, but their offensive strategy is also completely without structure. So much for a team taking on its coaches personality.

Yesterday's record: 2-0

Overall: 21-17


Man, 13 games tonight.

Utah -7 1/2 at Charlotte----- Charlotte sucks. When the Bobcats win they win because the other team lost focus. The Jazz are probably the most focused to team in the NBA. The Bobcats are likely without Knight again and definitely without Sean May. That means another start for Derek Anderson, who I thought was for sure retired. Anderson has been reduced to fewer than 25 games each of the last two seasons. His high in the last four seasons is 51 games. He reportedly refused to practice at all all summer because he was so paranoid that he would get hurt. No wonder he's shooting 28%. In case you hadn't figured it out yet, I'm going with the Jazz.

Golden State +4 1/2 at Orlando----- The Magic are coming off of a 3 point win against New Orleans at home. If it wasn't for 6' Chris Paul dunking on Dwight Howard, the highlights for this game would have shown how offensively inept the Magic are with starters Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson injured. Dwight Howard continues to turn the ball over like crazy. He also continues to rebound and block shots, and the Magic continue to be one of the best defensive teams in the league. The Hornets took 13 more free throws then the Magic, outrebounded them on the offensive glass, and equaled them in turnovers. Usually that differential would add up to a victory, but the Hornets, even more devastated by injuries than the Magic, managed to shoot only 37%. The Magic shot 45% and scrounged out a not that impressive victory. In Golden State's last game, Jason Richardson got his first big minutes since coming back from soreness in his surgically repaired knee. In 41 minutes Richardson scored 9 on 4/19 shooting. Richardson was 1/7 on three pointers, and missed all 5 of his mid range jump shots. In fairness he was covering and covered by Paul Pierce, which is a lot of hard work. Okay I'm blabbering on and on. GS is 4-7 in December, 2-9 overall on the road. Orlando is too good defensively for J-Rich to break out. I have to go with Orlando here. If the spread were 6+ I would probably have gone GS.

Lakers +3 at New Jersey----- On 11/26 the nets lost to the lakers by 6 in LA. Both teams were at full strength. Now in NJ the nets are at full strength and the Lakers are missing Odom. The nets are coming off of their second best win of the season, beating Cleveland by 2 at home. The lakers, even without Odom, are a better team than the Cavs. They have quality victories against Houston, San Antonio, Chicago and Utah. And you even get 3 points. Gotta go with the lakers.

Chicago -6 at New York----- New York just scraped out a victory in a game where both teams played horribly. Imagine if the knicks didn't carry six guards on their roster. We would be seeing backcourt lineups like Balkman, Lee and Malik Rose. This team was grumbling about how tired they were after last game, setting themselves up for a let down. Chicago has owned the Knicks (double digit victories in both of their meetings this season). Crawford and Curry are both ex-Bulls though, so you might see some kind of explosion from them. Still definitely going with Chicago here.

Indiana -3 at Atlanta----- Atlanta has been playing well and falling just short. It's about time they pull together a complete game. They are healthy and playing a team that is inconsistent. J O'neal has had some good games recently, but he's always been a streaky player, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him struggle against the (surprisingly good) hawks defense.

Milwaukee +6 at Minnesota----- Milwaukee pulled out a win at home in their last meeting with KG and minnesota. Minny has lost 3 in row including that 4 point lost to the Bucks. The Bucks, however, are only 4-10 on the road. The bucks will win this one then lose tomorrow in NJ.

Memphis +2 at New Orleans----- Wow memphis is favored on the road (2-13 record). That could be the first time this season. Things are looking pretty bleak for the thin Hornets. Peja and West had surgery this week. If you think that the reason the Hornets have been losing is because they are waiting for west and peja to rescue them, then you don't have to worry about that anymore. Go ahead and pick the Hornets. Do it. You know you like Hilton Armstrong. Look for Gasol to get 25 minutes or so. In fact, I'm gonna go with the Hornets too. Not for that reason, but because Memphis is crap, fratello won't let the young guys in, and his old guys suck.

Philadelphia +3 at Boston----- You are probably imagining an all-star backcourt of Kevin Ollie and Andre Miller. Me too. Who is going to score for the sixers? Miller scores in like 1/5 games. Joe Smith sucks. Kyle Korver is a catch and shoot player. C-Webb is a joke. This team will move the ball a lot better without AI and with the offense going through webber, but webber is a gimp. He can't move anymore, can't guard anyone. The only guys on the sixers who try to play defense are Iggy and Ollie. Dalembert makes occasional cameos on defense as well, but he rarely makes them 2x in a row (16 pts 13 rebounds last game).

Houston +8 1/2 at San Antonio----- 8 1/2 is a lot of points. San Antonio doesn't have the quickness or athleticism to take advantage of Houston's biggest shortcoming. And maybe Bonzi will remember his performances against the spurs last spring and put on a little retro, "I'm not as fat as you thought," performance.

Clippers +9 at Dallas----- Big spread with Nowitzki questionable. The Clippers look hopeless. They are losing to everyone (5 in a row). Mike Dunleavy, why doesn't elton brand get the ball more? Nowitzki has had several of these ankle sprains and has generally played through them, but quite frankly, I don't care if he plays. Either way I think Dallas at home dominates.

Sacramento +3 at Denver----- The AI era begins with Sac coming into town. Camby is out. Artest missed the last game. Let's not forget how thin Denver is with no more Joe Smith and no JR smith. I think AI plays a good game, tries to show up the Sixers, but with no Camby, Salmons and Bibby will get in the paint and Kevin Martin will continue to be Kevin Martin. that's too much for even AI to overcome.

Toronto +4 at Portland----- Portland has a lot of decent players, one good player, and a good coach. McMillan's the guy who led basically the same seattle team as you see today to 52 wins. His team is young, but they play hard. Toronto has been hot since bosh went down, winning 4 of 5 including a win in Orlando. I can't stand the way Mitchell manages this team though and am at a loss as to exactly how they managed to win those 4 games. I think I'm gonna write it off as catching the other teams on off nights. Portland is consistently average and will beat this Toronto team handily.

Washington +11 at Phoenix----- You might think, well here are two high scoring teams, two teams with a lot of offensive talent. It should be close. The problem here is that the Wiz's greatest asset is their ability to break down other teams one on one (i know i've talked about this before). Phoenix is going to give you opportunities to score that are easier than any one on one play, but Washington won't execute as a team well enough to take advantage. Phoenix will run over Washington's horrid defense and blow them out. Phoenix is bound to lose eventually, but I can't pick against them this game.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

KG After AI Trade

KG was quoted saying he was, "a little bit" disappointed when asked how he felt about AI going to Denver.

He continued, "That's pretty much how it goes around here. I've learned not to put too much belief and hope in things until they're concrete and done. ... It would have been a very, very nice Christmas present."

Demand the trade already, KG. We won't blame you. The T-Wolves, the Bulls and the rest of the NBA will all be thankful... At least until they play you and the Bulls in the playoffs.


I missed picking last night as I was too busy, but here's a quick recap of Tuesday's picks.

Phoenix beats Toronto----- They covered the 13.5 point spread, but it was kinda close there. Check out the box score from this game (or last night's win at the Clippers) and you will see why John Hollinger is irritated with Toronto. These guys have no rotation and guys get starts and get benched for no apparent reason. Fire Sam Mitchell already. How many in a row is Phoenix going to win?

Bulls beat Lakers----- Bulls just pull this out in a close game. Lakers cover the spread (barely).

Record on Tuesday: 2-0
Overall: 19-17


Detroit +3 at Cleveland----- I think the best word to describe Cleveland is stagnant. Their roster is full of old and washed up players (Newble, Wesley, Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall, Scott Pollard, Eric Snow). Their leader, Lebron, is mild mannered and generally seems uninterested in dominating. No one on the team cares enough to challenge him. That being said, Lebron was spectacular in last years playoffs against the Pistons. This is the first time the two have met since then, so that could motivate Lyndon B. Johnson. Rasheed Wallace is expecting to play, and although Flip Saunders is an idiot, expect him to give Maxiell some burn backing up and playing along side Rasheed. It would be hard for him to ignore his performance in their last game. As Lebron has disappointed me much more often than he has surprised me, I will take the Pistons.

Washington +3 1/2 at Sacramento----- Kevin Martin is questionable - I interpret that as meaning there's about a 20% chance he plays. Washington is coming off what was in my opinion their worst performance of the year in a loss to Denver. In general, however, they have played pretty well of late. Gilbert Arenas gets up for games against other big name guards and small forwards or dominating teams. He has had 7 35+ point performances and only one came against a team with a starless backcourt - Indiana. He went off against Kobe, Pierce, Lebron, the Mavs, Marbury/Francis and T-Mac. So does he get up for the mediocre Kings on the road? In his last 2 games at Sacramento he has had games of 22 points on 8/17 shooting and 29 on 7/22 shooting. These numbers don't really impress me. Still, a 3 1/2 point spread for a below .500 team that is likely missing it's top scorer? I'm not convinced. More info: Washington won both games last year. When they were @ Sac they won without Arenas. They will find motivation from their last game and get their act together enough to win this one.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Knicks Brawl Wrap-Up and AI to Denver


Basically each columnist picks a person who they believe crossed the line. Here are some links to start you out. You will find more links later in the article as I discuss issues related to them.

Adrian Wojnarowski for Yahoo! Sports blames George Karl. He was the first one to make a move that could be considered wrong and "as a result" his team paid the highest price.

Dan Wetzel at Yahoo! Sports points the finger at Isiah. It seems pretty clear that Isiah gave the order to give hard fouls, and Wetzel claims that was where the line was crossed and it was his fault the fight broke out. Wetzel says, "If [Isiah] had an ounce of self-respect, he'd realize there is only one person to blame for this disaster and it isn't George Karl for his substitution pattern ... It's all gone in New York now – the pride, the respect, the dignity. This isn't just a bad team; this is a bad act. A once proud franchise and fan base brought to its knees as its pathetic coach makes excuses and whines for mercy."

Basketball, like any other sport, has an etiquette: rules that aren't in the rule book but are understood by every player and coach. The first bit of etiquette that was broken is written in certain terms, but is not in itself a mortal offense, and that was George Karl leaving his starters in with one minute left. I don't care if the Knicks had cut a 28 point lead to 10 in like 3 minutes. I don't care if there hadn't been a stoppage of play. Karl should have taken a foul or called a timeout and gotten his starters out at least a minute earlier. But as I said, this could be viewed as a poor and reckless decision by Karl, but it is not a mortal offense.

The mortal offense came when, up 19, JR Smith decided to try to dunk on a breakaway with like 22 seconds on the shot-clock, at a point in the game when the Nuggets could have just dribbled the ball until the shot clock expired on every possession and the Knicks would have had no chance. Now I don't think Smith made that decision out of malevolence. I think he just likes to showboat and is not a thoughtful player. But don't tell me that Karl couldn't have made it clear to his players when he took at time out exactly 45 seconds earlier, to kill the clock. Now you're probably thinking, well, he just said Smith is an idiot - even if Karl had told him to kill time he may have gone ahead and disobeyed him. Here's the problem with that argument: Smith isn't the one who stole the ball or started the breakaway. Andre Miller stole, recovered the ball, then made the outlet pass to Smith. You can't tell me that Andre Miller, a 7 year NBA veteran, also had a brainfart and forgot that they were blowing the Knicks out. Karl has been coaching for 20 years. Before that he played in the NBA and ABA for another 5. Basketball etiquette has been burned into his mind.

It may have seemed like a subtle thing, not worthy of Isiah Thomas's reaction, but imagine a similar breach of etiquette in the real world: You are at a bar, holding hands and having a soft and loving conversation with your girlfriend. Another man comes up and interrupts your conversation and, back to you, starts hitting on your girl. This guy hasn't broken any laws... now what are you going to do - sit there and wait for him to leave and take the offense, or stand up for yourself? George Karl's team was breaking a rule that, in the game of basketball, is equally serious. Hell, the Pistons brawl broke out for a similar reason - Artest gave a hard foul on Ben Wallace despite the fact that Indy was up 15 with 46 seconds left. Because the game was already decided, etiquette says that you lay back on defense and let the other team score. Artest broke the rules and Ben Wallace flipped out.

Let's get this straight right now, each player is responsible for his or her own actions. I am only arguing that, up until just after Mardy Collins gave a hard foul, the only person who had done wrong was George Karl. He is the one who put his players in a difficult situation, because once the Knicks gave that hard foul, Smith had every right to be angry. He was just following coach's orders. So although it was a poor choice to get up and get in Collins' face, I think at least 80% of the players in the league would have responded in the same way. The blatantly poor and inexcusable situations came later: the first one came from Nate Robinson, who I believe is incapable of being calm, when he shoved Smith away from Collins. The next one came from Smith when he tried to tackle Robinson, and the final and worst decision came from Anthony, who wasn't anywhere near the initial play, things were just calming down, when he came in and punched Collins in the face. I really don't blame Jeffries for his response. Carmelo was the second person to break rules of etiquette for a fight (yes they exist) - and that is you don't hit someone when they aren't expecting it. It was fortunate for Jeffries the rest of the players that he tripped and was then held back by Mark Aguirre, or this could have gotten a lot uglier.

Now in the aftermath of the suspensions (which I will get to later), a lot of people are yelling that Isiah Thomas should have gotten suspended (Marc Stein, Chris Sheridan (requires ESPN Insider)). This is ridiculous. Even if Isiah Thomas told his players to give a hard foul, there is no chance in hell he told them to go start a fight. So he warned Carmelo not to go in the paint. How does that change anything? If the entire thing had ended after the foul by Collins (the only thing that Isiah Thomas can in any way be implicated for) then no one would be talking about this. Collins maybe gets suspended for a game, but even that I find unlikely.

Kelly Dwyer for Sports Illustrated basically says that we are overreacting. He skirts around the question of why we overreact to fights in the NBA and not in other sports. He also refuses to get into any discussion about who is at fault. I wonder if he just likes fluff or if SI forces him to avoid all controversy.


Okay we've analyzed how it all went down and discussed who is most responsible for the brawl, now let's talk about what the brawl really meant in the broader scheme of things. The first big picture item up: Why is this getting so much press?

Dwyer suggests that, "Together, cats and kittens, let's turn off the cable TV and move on." Well, what is it that is keeping us attached to the tube? Why is this getting mainstream media attention when fights in other sports are ignored? Obviously there's the fact that it is the first brawl in the NBA since the Pistons brawl and that one was a real homerun for the media. But why? Here's my take:

Americans, unless they are from an urban area, learn most of what they "know" about the young black male from the tv and movies. I don't have to tell you that, by and large, young black men are portrayed as violent, unpredictable, alienated from American institutions like school.

For a sport where you are constantly in physical contact, pushing for position, getting knocked to floor, there are remarkably few fights. But because people prefer to see their expectations fulfilled, every time there is a fight, it gets blown up and is all over TV and news, and NBA players are called thugs, etc etc. Why does this have appeal? Because it gives people an excuse to write off the young black male again, just as he is in his underfunded inner-city schools; to call him uncontrollable and disrespectful of what he has been given to him. People have an excuse not to feel bad about the immense racial divide that, if you look at recent history,continues to grow. It is outrageous.

Hockey players have nearly killed other hockey players in fights. There are big brawls in baseball all the time. But when there's one fight in basketball, no one gets hurt, emotions are running high, the players are labelled as overpaid whiners who don't appreciate what they have. "The NBA gets another black eye". Those looking to maintain their hate and ignorance about black men quickly translate the media's label of "whiners" into a words whose hate is even less thinly veiled - they call the players, as you can read in comments on discussion boards over and over, "thugs", "animals", "monkeys".

People who are crying about these players should look at other sports that have faced real scandals (how about steroids), or look at our politicians. Those people are the real betrayers. I'm a privileged, laid-back white boy and I know I've gotten into plenty of fights on the basketball court. You know why? Because I'm playing really hard and the game is intense. Your kids will see much worse fights in their high school sports and in their backyard basketball games. There were some poor decisions, but it was in the spirit of competition, nothing evil or corrupting.


Stern is trying to accomodate the money that funds the NBA. He is trying to broaden the NBA's appeal. As much as I'm irritated by Stern's authoritarian way of handling a lot of the NBA's issues, I can't really blame him for this one. It's not his fault that our society is the way it is. There were two things that he had to do after this fight broke out:

1) Look at the every day sports fans expectation of what the suspensions might be and then double that number. Why? Because Stern has to come off as if he is taking a hard line here. You see people's brains work in a funny way. A person's first reaction to evidence contrary to what they have so far decided is the truth is to try to prove it wrong. If they can't do that then they will try to avoid it. If they can't do that then they will distort that evidence, look for reasons to believe that it isn't what it seems. In the case of the NBA, people have to look at black kids who come from the ghetto. And what is being challenged here? Why it's perhaps the most complex case of denial: it's the notion that the world is fair and that people get what they deserve. In order to justify in their own minds that black people deserve to be poorer than whites and that they don't have any responsibility to have a hand in changing the world, they search for evidence that blacks will toss away any opportunity that is given to them. They can continue to focus their energy on the problems that they confront in their own lives. They are able to maintain faith that everyone lives in a world that is ruled by justice, accountability, a world where good people get what they deserve. So, when Stern hands out ridiculously long suspensions, it is just the hand of justice giving these "thugs" what they deserve. They can watch the NBA without their naive perception of the world being threatened.

2) And of course Stern has to view every replay and at least assign suspensions that, in relation to one another, are fair. Carmelo did commit the biggest wrong and did deserve the largest suspension. Isiah Thomas did order a hard foul, but he didn't start the brawl. Etc, etc, etc.

The Detroit brawl and the NBA's ridiculous rule changes that followed are another example of this. There is nothing wrong or ridiculous within the simple idea of instituting a dress code. It is the reason why the dress code was instituted that is offensive: Stern chose to institute rules that whitewashed over the hip-hop styles that many NBA players identify with. He portrayed that clothing as wrong. His actions said, you can come from the ghetto, but you better not wear any clothes that remind us of that fact. You can be black, but you better recognize that we don't want any reminders of who you are or where you came from.

I could go on an on about this, but I'll stop here.


I guess this is all Philly could get. Two late draft picks, a flawed point guard with an okay contract and a $7 million expiring contract. This isn't going to do much for Philly other than allow them to continue to bomb this season and improve their own draft pick. I would have held out longer. They should have been able to at least pick up Foye or Gerald Green and a better pick in the draft. I guess it could have been worse too though. Next year's draft is supposed to be amazing so these late picks, if the Sixers find someone who knows how to evaluate talent, could net them some contributors.

As far as AI in Denver goes, I don't think that the there will be big issues as far as Iverson and Melo sharing. I'm sure George Karl will have his problems with AI, but I don't think that it will end up being too big of a deal. The thing that bothers me most about this trade for Denver is that Iverson and Carmelo are redundant. They both like to get in the paint and draw fouls. When Carmelo is doing his thing, AI is going to be a non-factor and vice-versa. Yes, AI does create for other players, but all you ahve to do is look at Marbury and Francis in New York to see that a player who is used to and good at creating for himself is not going to be effective when he is on the receiving end. Carmelo is not a catch and shoot player. AI is not a catch and shoot player. These guys are both scorers. That has been the story of both of their careers. I think all Denver needed was another guy who plays defense and can hit a jumpshot. Work through anthony, keep 3 or 4 guys who can defend on the floor. Even with JR smith, who plays no defense, as his second option the nuggets looked decent. Why? Because smith doesn't need to put the ball on the floor. All he wants to do is chuck up threes.

I'm not saying the nuggets won't be better as a result of this trade, or that they shouldn't have done the deal (they hardly gave up anything), but I don't see great chemistry or playoff success in their future.

picks for tonight

tonight you get quickpicks so I can write about the brawl and AI later-

Lakers +6 at Chicago----- I think it's a good bet that LA will at least cover. Chicago hasn't won many games against good teams.

Toronto +13.5 at Phoenix----- The return of Bryan Colangelo. I think Phoenix can cover this one. Toronto is due for a big loss. Jose Calderon is out. Phoenix is on a roll.

Monday, December 18, 2006

recapping last nights games/picks

My rights (they're first so you can read my diatribe about the Knicks straight off):

New York beats Utah----- The Knicks led this game for almost the entire second half. Deron Williams (31% from long distance) made a three with a hand in his face to tie this game with 10 seconds left in regulation. Williams also made a difficult layup about 7 seconds earlier. Then in overtime he made a 3 pointer that was well short but somehow spun up off the front rim, 2 or 3 feet in the air, then dropped through the basket. And on the Jazz's final possession he made a jumpshot with his foot on the three point line, fading away with a man in his face. He almost willed the Jazz to victory. The Jazz played well too - it was just that the Knicks were amazingly active on defense. They had 9 blocks and 10 steals and many key deflections. David Lee, Channing Frye and Renaldo Balkman combined for 45 rebounds, 18 on the offensive end against the best rebounding front line in the NBA. The Knicks outrebounded the Jazz 63-49 and 23-15 on the offensive glass.

The Knicks won this game by playing at a higher level of intensity than a Jazz team that is known for it's grittyness and effort. How did this happen? Well, look at who played - Lee, Frye and Balkman all had career highs in minutes. What do these guys have in common? First, all of their minutes have gone way down since Jared Jeffries got healthy, second, Lee and Balkman are notorious effort guys who put up great numbers considering how few minutes they play. Marbury is playing well again and seemed to pick the perfect spots to get into the paint and score.

And the final ingredient here was that Eddy Curry was in foul trouble and played only 22 minutes. I am not saying that Eddy Curry hurts this team. Against a less active defensive team where Curry has more time to gather himself and less length coming at him in double teams, Curry is a strong offensive presence, but the Jazz are Curry Kryptonite. He managed to play 22 minutes (about 1/2 of them after he picked up is 5th foul) and turned the ball over 4 times. The difference on the defensive end between him and Kelvin Cato, who also looked like he was out there to prove something (4 blocks in 17 mins), was astonishing. Pretty much the only easy shots that Utah had in the last 3 quarters and OT were when Curry, camped out in the lane and probably thinking something like, "Hey guys, hurry up and rebound the ball so you guys can watch me in the post," screened out the other Knicks racing over to cut a driving Utah player off. Isiah Thomas was out of timeouts with about 1 minute left in regulation because he had been calling them just to get Curry out of the game on defense.

Isiah Thomas loses everything at the end of the season, so he really has nothing to lose but pride by sitting Curry (or Francis) in exchange for an effort player if the situation calls for that. And it often will.

Memphis beats Seattle in double OT----- Well they covered...... I'm surprised that the rooks didn't get more time in a double OT game, especially with a player who will be out of the league when his rookie contract is up (dahnte jones) in their starting lineup. Then again Fratello's a tightass and once Gasol is traded this is going to be his undoing. Mike Miller had his best game in what has been his best statistical season in his career. He basically matched Rashard Lewis shot for shot. Gasol still isn't rebounding, but he shot well in his limited minutes.

Miami beats New Orleans (N.O. covers)----- Hornets led most of the way here but Wade saved the game. No news here really - Wade is a very good player stuck on a talentless, old and injury filled team. The Heat managed to just gut out a victory at home against a team that is just 2-8 since Stojakovic went down. Miami has not beaten a team that is currently over .500 this entire season. Wade has had to go for 29+ in 9 of their 11 victories. Antoine Walker, a key contributor to the Heat's playoff run last year, hasn't played 30+ minutes in the Heat's last 10 games - he only played 6 in this one. I don't think it's possible for the Heat to miss the playoffs as long as Wade stays healthy, but they are likely to end up a low seed and unless 34 year old shaq can get back in to tip-top form really quickly, this very thin team will have a tough time advancing.

My wrongs:

New Jersey beats Golden State----- Both teams played pretty poorly. Jason Kidd had a triple double, but he still shot only 4/14. Carter and Jefferson also had poor shooting nights. If Nenad Krstic hadn't had one of his games where he can't miss a jump shot, the Nets may have lost this one. They definitely would have covered. Either way, Golden State looks really bad on the road.

Denver beats Washington----- So I'm looking at the shot chart from this game and I'm seeing a lot of freaking Xs for the wizards on the outside. So many, all on top of one another, that I can't even count the number of misses. Gilbert Arenas had 3 attempts in the paint and made only 1. Caron Butler had 3 attempts in paint and made 2. Jamison is the only player who got off a decent # of paint shots, but he didn't make a single shot outside of the paint (0/9 outside the paint, 4/7 in it). And that right there is the problem with the Wizards on offense. Don't get me wrong, they are a dangerous offensive team, but when those outside shots aren't falling, when Arenas isn't making any of those ridiculous perimeter shots he tosses up (as has been the case on the road most of the season with the exception of their last game at the lakers), Washington can't score. And when you can't score and you can't play defense, how can you possibly win? Out of 290 total minutes (48 minutes times 5 positions), Denver played Yakhouba Diawara, Reggie Evans and Najera 85. That's a little under a 1/3 of their minutes played by guys who average a combined 19 ppg. You don't have to cover these guys. In fact, there were only two guys on the floor who could consistently hit a shot from outside like 18 feet - Kleiza and Boykins. Washington had to defend about 30% less of the floor than most other games. And they still gave up 117 points to a team missing their two top scorers. If I was Eddie Jordan I would have left the arena after Denver put up 65 in the first freakin' half. In my opinion this was a truly embarrassing performance by the Wizards and I hope Eddie Jordan went absolutely berzerk on his team. Really really sad.

Dallas beats Sacramento----- Hey, if I'd been patient enough to read through the entire post game recap of Sac's last game or the preview of this one, I would have known that Kevin Martin was unlikely to play and I would have picked Dallas. Oh well.

Tonight: 3-3
Overall: 17-17

Picks for today

Golden State +6 at New Jersey----- Nets have been playing like ass. They'll probably win, but not by much.

Utah -5 at New York----- Well the Knicks will be without Jared Jeffries, Nate Robinson, Mardy Collins, Jerome James (suspensions). They are also likely to be without Steve Francis and Quentin Richardson (injuries). That leaves Jamal Crawford and Marbury as the only two backcourt players. We will likely see some Renaldo Balkman at the two, and a lot of David Lee and Malik Rose at the 3. Utah is coming off a convincing victory at Indiana (who has already beaten New York twice this season). The Knicks are coming off of 2 straight blowouts. But this could an identity forming moment for the Knicks. I will go with them in this game.

New Orleans +7.5 at Miami----- Peja and West are still out, but Miami is not good, and 7.5 points is a big spread. Go with New Orleans.

Seattle +5 at Memphis----- Gasol should get 20+ minutes for the first time this season. Seattle has no one to stop him. Seattle's wide open defense should also give plenty of easy opportunities to all the inexperienced players on Memphis. This is a good way to get a player going.

Washington -2 at Denver----- No Carmelo=no win. Washington just shat on the Lakers with 60 by Arenas. Denver is missing it's two best scorers, actually the highest scoring tandem in the NBA. Earl Boykins and Andre Miller are the only players left on this team who can create a shot. Boykins is the only one left who has an above average jump shot. This one has blowout written all over it.

Dallas -3 at Sacramento------ Sacramento has been playing better recently. They beat Utah in Salt Lake City and they played pretty close with Phoenix. Isn't it great when you can call the Suns the hottest team in the NBA? Dallas has been streaky. They beat Sac by 19 at home earlier this season, but Sacramento has been good at home (7-5). They played Orlando and Miami close in their most recent home loss, and whooped Atlanta in their last home game before losing to the Suns. I like Sacramento here.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

comments on sunday picks

My wrongs:

Washington beats the Lakers 147-141 in OT----- Well ummm, I guess Arenas is over his road woes, nearly tripling his road average of 21.1 ppg. Conventional wisdom: "You can't come back from 10 down in the 4th quarter if you allow 36 points." Lakers' counter with some solid arithmetic: "36 + 10 = 46". Gilbert Arenas responds to this arithmetic, baffling statisticians by making low percentage shot after low percentage shot... And getting to the free throw line an insane 27 times. The Wiz as a team took 60 free throws, twice as many as LA. It's hard to pick Wiz games because they never play defense, and they rely almost entirely on one on one play to score. That means that if a Arenas or Jamison is off, there's really no offensive set to fall back on and get the rest of the team shots. Whatever... The Wiz won a crazy game and I picked wrong. And no, I don't have to mention Kobe, even though he scored 45.

Houston beats the Clips----- Wow, the Clips must be a pretty good team if All-Star Elton Brand is their 4th option (Maggette, Kaman and Livingston all took more shots). This team is seriously lacking leadership, and by leadership I mean Sam Cassell. If Brand doesn't start demanding the ball then the Clips would be wise to get AI, because we all know that he will. This 3 way trade that sends Mobley to Indiana and lands AI in LA makes sense to me (note: LA and maybe Indy would be sending their picks to Philly). Clips get AI but have to take back problem child Stephen Jackson from Indiana in exchange for their cooperation. Houston, outside of Yao didn't play very well, but it was well enough to beat the confused clips. We also had another Bonzi sighting!

My rights:

Toronto beats Golden State----- Monta Ellis is funny - he has had at least 1 turnover in every game this year, has had exactly 1 turnover in only 2 games, and in 12 of the Warriors' 24 games, he has had 4 or more. In other words, he's a shooting guard playing with a PG who dominates the ball and he's averaging 3.5 turnovers a game in less than 35mpg. I haven't watched any Golden State games so I can't tell you what the deal is here, but that is a ridiculously high number. In other Golden State news, Biedrins has fallen back down to earth. After having double digit rebounding games in 8 of 9, he has gone for 10+ in only 3 of his last 9. His minutes are down and his blocks are way down even in proportion to his reduced minutes. And the game? Well Toronto played a team that didn't look very good and get a career game from Bargnani - 18 points, 10 rebounds, 6 blocks. His previous rebounding high was 6 and his block high was 2. Mo-Pete also had his best game since returning from a ligament strain (23 points, 9 rebounds), and the rest of Toronto's mediocre starting lineup played above themselves. I'm surprised Toronto didn't win by more.

Detroit beats Seattle----- Seattle covered the spread. Sonics managed to shoot 50% against the "stifling" Detroit defense. It appears that Chris Wilcox was the biggest beneficiary of Wallace's absence - I imagine most of his points came off dishes after his man had to leave him to help on penetration. As a matter of fact that's the only way Wilcox scores, so I can say definitively that that was the case. Detroit still pulls this one out because Seattle sucks and Flip Saunders finally realized that Jason Maxiell is a very good player (17 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals). I'm sure he'll forget in time for their next game.

Utah beats Indiana----- Indy's only lead came at 2-0. Utah held Indy to a season low, 36.5% shooting, despite 10/19, 31 point performance by O'Neal (he appears to be healthy!). Stephen Jackson sucked. Tinsley was worse (3/18). Kirilenko dominated defensively with a season high 6 blocked shots. Several Pacers commented on how disciplined and steady the Jazz are, something unusual for such a young team and very reminiscent of the way San Antonio has been described in the last 7 years or so (I believe "methodical" is the buzz word most used to describe the Spurs). Jerry Sloan is well on his way to his first coach of the year award.

Today: 3-2
Overall: 14-14

Sunday Picks

Golden State at Toronto (no spread)----- Golden State is 1-7 on the road. Toronto keeps winning without Bosh for some reason. I find this fact very confusing. I'd really like to pick against Toronto without Bosh, but they do have some other talent, and as Golden State can't win on the road and is generally very inconsistent, I have to pick Raptors. Blah.

Utah +2 1/2 at Indiana----- I'm kind of surprised here that Utah isn't favored. Is there something I'm missing? Ah, now I see: Indiana is 8-2 at home. Utah is 6-4 on the road with losses to Minnesota, New Jersey, the Lakers and Golden State. I can't see them losing two in a row, something that has only happened once so far this season, by losing to a team with a limping all-star and a psycho/team-killer starting at shooting guard. I don't care if they're 8-2 at home. Give me Utah.

Houston at Clippers----- This lethargic Clipper team won't do much to tire out Yao. They aren't athletic or fast enough. They are hankering for a win though. The Clippers are still 9-4 at home. And the Rockets still suck without T-Mac. Unless Bonzi breaks out, I gotta go with the Clips here. I feel like maybe there will be spread here and they just haven't posted it yet, so I'm gonna pick Clips by 4.

Seattle +6 1/2 at Detroit----- Once again since Rasheed is hurt I'm tempted to take Seattle. I took Seattle last time and they burned me. I'm gonna look at this rationally - what does Rasheed do for Detroit? He is an inside presence, rebounder and pretty much the only shot blocker left on their team, he is also their best low post player. How do teams exploit Seattle? They punish their crap front line. How does Seattle score? From the perimeter or through penetration, no post play. Rasheed won't be protecting the basket, so look for Rashard Lewis and Luke Ridnour to get in the paint. Damien Wilkins is also a good slasher. There, I've convinced myself. I think Seattle covers on this one.

Wizards +4 1/2 at Lakers----- Well those point spread people are sure over Lamar Odom's injury. Wizards have two road wins: one at New York and at post-AI Philly. Not too impressive. Kobe and the Lakers have hardly lost a step without Odom and everyone on Washington (not just the well documented Arenas), plays worse on the road. The Wiz's recent wins at NY and Philly give me no reason to believe that Kwame Brown won't use his small hands (some people's explanation for why he hasn't become a great player) to swat his old team 2,671 miles back to Washington DC (at least according to Google Maps). Kwame. KWAME. KWAME!!!

Last night's picks

My wrongs:

Charlotte loses to the Celtics. Well this one's easy to explain - Sean May goes down with an ankle sprain in the second quarter and Brevin Knight sits the game out. There go two of Charlotte's three best and most consistent players. I was right about Tony Allen but wrong about Jefferson. When's Al gonna remember that in reality, he's lazy and not aggressive. Sheesh. I don't know, maybe he's the real deal. I was ready to say that about Eddy Curry though, and look at his performances these last two games.

Cleveland loses to Orlando. Dwight Howard and Grant Hill both have solid games and the Magic get contributions from a depleted bench. With Nelson and Turkoglu out, Ariza and Arroyo, 2 of the magic's 3 normal rotation players off the bench, started. They didn't play much though, as Travis Diener, Keyon Dooling and even Mr. Reigning College Player of the Year (6 points, 2/6 shooting, 2/3 3pointers) contributed. Milicic also almost had his first double double of the season with 12 points and 9 rebounds in a season high 32 minutes. These unexpected bench contributors were too much for Cleveland who, once again, looked like they were standing around waiting for Lebron (10/19 fgs, 29 points) to carry them to victory. Larry Hughes followed up his "I'm Back" game where he scored 25 on 11/16 shooting with a "Just Kidding" game where he went 5/17 for 14 points and a healthy 4 turnovers.

Chicago beats Atlanta in OT (doesn't cover). Marvin Williams looked comfortable in the starting lineup in his 6th game back from injury. In 43 minutes he shot 9/15 including 2/3 from long distance with 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. I plan to keep a close eye on him, as he seems very in control on the court and may just be blooming before our eyes. Chicago played a solid game, but Atlanta is a good team if Williams keeps it up - Joe Johnson, Williams and Josh Smith are all very dynamic players who affect the game in multiple ways. That's a scary lineup. If speedy stays healthy and contributes, this team really could make the playoffs in the east. Let's not get too excited though. They did still lose.

Detroit beats New Jersey. RJ ended up playing. The Nets still lost. The nets are really struggling and my feeling is that the problem isn't that Kidd is older (or VC for that matter), but that Jason Collins and Cliff Robinson are old and really really slow. Now I know robinson hardly plays and has been replaced in the rotation by CBA standout Mikki Moore, and Kidd has done a decent job of making Moore look like he deserves to be in the rotation, but the Nets need to make a move. Kidd is going to slow down, even if doesn't happen this year. My first choice would be to trade VC, but his contract is expiring and so, unless the nets want to go after AI, who doesn't seem like much of an upgrade, I'm not sure what the Nets can do with him. RJ on the other hand has a lot of value, as he is still pretty young and showed the abililty to be a team's first option when Kidd and Carter were hurt. I would move him and try to get some size and a starting caliber SF. Here's a trade that I think would work for the Nets (and for all teams involved).

My Rights:

New York gets blown out by Denver. Ahhh the pick of the night. I watched this game live to the bitter end and boy did I get a treat with 1:14 left in the fourth. Nothing like watching Carmelo Anthony run in and sucker punch a guy then sprint off to hide behind his teammates. May the Pistons brawl references and the NBA players are thugs comments commence. Ahhh hypocrisy. Expect another full fledged blog on this once they announce the length of the suspensions. Anyway, New York looked lost even with Marbury coming out and playing like the Starbury of old. Just like last night they played no defense. Just like a lot of their games, they didn't realize the energy level required to compete in an NBA game until about 1/2 way through the 3rd quarter. Of course by then it was too late.

Miami beats Memphis. Gasol looked much better in his limited minutes. Wade was Wade. The heat beat the pile-o-shit team of the NBA. This may be the last time I get to say that though now that Pau is back. At least until they trade him.

Dallas beats Hornets. Boring game. Dallas plays a decent game and wins by 11. About what you'd expect. The Hornets are not a deep team, so until West or Peja comes back, they are gonna keep on sliding. This run here may end up being the reason why they don't make the playoffs, because with West and Peja they are a dangerous team.

San Antonio sneaks past Philly. Weeeee doggy. Guess who's going on my All-Star ballot. Can I get a K, how about an E, how about a VIN and then... AN OLLIE!!!! (I used to be a cheerleader). Mr. Ollie, looked like the spirit of AI was inside him as he trotted by bored San Antonio defenders for awkward and unathletic looking layup after layup. He actually started off 9/9 but cooled off and missed his last two shots. It's a shame the other AI (Iguodala) exploded in the second half, because I was really looking forward to dedicating a paragraph to how Ollie has been the Sixers leading scorer for two straight games. Whatever, I still managed to dedicate this whole paragraph to him. Philly actually gave San Antonio a bit of a scare here, but in the end they got away with their 30 minutes of vacation time and won the game. And as I predicted, Philly covered the 16.5 point spread.

Minnesota loses to the Bucks. As I said Minny sucks and if AI goes elsewhere they need to trade KG immediately. Villanueva didn't even play in this game, so the bucks sent Brian Skinner out to guard Garnett, and they still pulled this one out.

Phoenix beats Sacramento. Phoenix wins by 7, despite the fact that Kevin Martin had a nice game. Another interesting thing to note here is that Sac moved Kenny Thomas to the bench and started John Salmons, shifting Artest to power forward. I hope this is permanent, as Kenny Thomas is a crappy player, but it may have just been a way of matching up better with Phoenix. Either way Salmons had a nice game, shooting 9/14 for 20 points in 43 minutes. He's a good player who has put up nice numbers any time he's been given the minutes. He is also a very good defensive player. In the end this game was much closer than I anticipated (I expected a blowout), but Phoenix still won and covered.

Todays record: 6-4
Overall: 11-12