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

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