Posted on: October 13, 2010 3:07 pm
2010-2011 NBA Atlantic Division Preview
As the phrase has long been applied to life is recited: for every action there is a reaction. Three teams in this division were greatly affected by free agency this summer, even though they all ended up empty handed when it came to their pursuit of any of the prized free agents this July. Two of the teams, though, plotted for two years with hopes of landing LeBron James, only to be spurned as he left for the Miami Heat. Another one of the teams had one of the prized free agents, and his leaving for the Miami Heat left them in freelance as well. Meanwhile, the three-time defending Atlantic Champions lost in the NBA Finals and had to react promptly. The loss of Kendrick Perkins did not help either in the NBA Finals or at the start of this season, and the Celtics looked to add to their list of established veterans for what feels like one last run at a championship. And then there’s the Philadelphia 76ers. After years of being an afterthought in the league, one of the league’s most prominent cities is taking huge steps towards relevance again. They reached back and hired Doug Collins to return to Philadelphia to help advance this process and it will be interesting to see how those new players mesh.
All in all, the Atlantic Division had a lot of turnover on most of the rosters and could see significantly new change among the production of three of the worst teams from last season in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. With all three of those teams now positioning themselves for victory and with Boston continuing to add players primed for one last run, the change could be even more evident in the coming seasons. But even though there’s a reaction for every action, the Celtics reacted accordingly to last year’s NBA Finals loss to the Lakers, and are still the team to beat in the Atlantic Division.
1) Boston Celtics
Incoming Players: Avery Bradley, Luke Harangody, Semih Urden, Jermaine O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal, Von Wafer, Delonte West
Outgoing Players: Rasheed Wallace, Tony Allen, Brian Scalabrine, Michael Finley, Shelden Williams
Team Report: The Celtics walk into this season as the clear favorites in the division and are among the favorites for an NBA Championship this season as well. The Celtics were up by 13 points in the 3rd quarter of last season’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals before conceding to the Lakers in a heartbreaking defeat. A lot has been made of their age in recent years, but they showed last postseason that they’re one of the few teams capable of flipping a switch on and off. Whether they would want to walk that tightrope again this season remains to be seen, but the players on the team don’t necessarily give any encouragement of a change of the times coming in Beantown.
Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal are the most high profile additions to the team. The two big men fit right into what the Celtics are looking for: smart, seasoned veterans willing to use what’s left of their ability to contribute to the ultimate goal of the team. Both come at an opportune time as well with the injury to Kendrick Perkins. Perkins injured his knee in Game 6 of last year’s NBA Finals and should be out until January. His loss will be greatly felt across the board in Boston, but the Celtics will hope it’s offset by the continued improvement from point guard Rajon Rondo. While it’s hard to argue that at least Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett aren’t more important to a championship for the Celtics, it’s also hard to argue that Rondo isn’t currently the team’s most talented player. Overall, the Celtics still enter this season with a chip on their shoulder and with a lot to prove. They also are the most stable of the rest of the teams in the division, and that’s why they’ll be winning the division title come next April.
2) New York Knicks
Incoming Players: Larry Fields, Andy Rautins, Jerome Jordan, Timofey Mozgov, Kelenna Azubuike, Patrick Ewing, Jr., Raymond Felton, Roger Mason, Jr., Anthony Randolph, Amar’e Stoudemire, Ronny Turiaf, Shawne Williams
Outgoing Players: Earl Barron, David Lee, Chris Duhon, Sergio Rodriguez, J.R. Giddens, Al Harrington, Jonathan Bender, Tracy McGrady, Eddie House
Team Analysis: The Knicks have been bad for years now, it seems. Since 2004, the Knicks have regularly been among the worst teams in the league. A fantastic city and fan base has really been negated by the lack of overall production on the court and the turmoil that occurred off of it. However, after Isaiah Thomas left New York, Donnie Walsh was hired to clean the mess. He hired Mike D’Antoni, rid himself of some of the ridiculous contracts on the team, and built towards the famed 2010 NBA Free Agent class. The Knicks have been telling their fans to accept defeat the last two seasons, a hard sell to New Yorkers, because a great star was on the horizon. After whiffing on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the team signed Amar’e Stoudemire to a big max contract this offseason instead. It still may be a hard sell to New Yorkers that he was worthy of being the light at the end of the tunnel.
But the Knicks made other moves this offseason to reshape the roster. They brought in the extremely promising Anthony Randolph over in a trade with Golden State and hope that he can partner up with Stoudemire to create the ideal frontcourt for head coach Mike D’Antoni. But, for the first time since D’Antoni was hired in 2008, the pressure is now on for him to win in New York. After being patient with a struggling team the last two seasons, the Knicks were told they would be much better in 2010. It’s fair to say they will be much better, but it’s debatable if they’re a lock to make the postseason. D’Antoni has h is work cut out for him, as do the rest of the Knicks franchise.
3) Philadelphia 76ers
Incoming Players: Evan Turner, Tony Battie, Craig Brackins, Spencer Hawes, Andres Nocioni, Darius Songaila
Outgoing Players: Samuel Dalembert, Rodney Carney, Willie Green, Jason Smith, Francisco Elson, Allen Iverson
Team Analysis: The Philadelphia 76ers traded Allen Iverson in 2006 and have been largely irrelevant since. Sure they’ve made the playoffs a couple times since that trade, but they’ve been no real threats among the NBA’s elite and the team really wasn’t in Iverson’s last years with the team either. So it seems a tad ironic now that the 76ers are building towards and selling hope; again at a time when Iverson is leaving. The 76ers brought Iverson back last season in an attempt to sell tickets and regain relevance, but it went for nothing as Iverson couldn’t stay on the court due to injuries and other factors and was a large non factor in the team’s horrendous 27-55 season. After only one season, Eddie Jordan was fired and the 76ers again went back to the drawing board.
The Sixers interviewed a lot of candidates and wound up with Doug Collins as the team’s new head coach coming into this season. Collins isn’t “new” by any means. He’s been a coach for three different franchises before and had mild success with all of them. His name is largely important because of his broadcasting gig with TNT moreso than what anyone remembers him doing as a coach. But Collins is a 76er at heart. He was drafted by Philadelphia and made an NBA Finals with the team in 1977. He wants, just as much as the rest of the city, for the 76ers to be relevant. How quickly that happens will largely land on the shoulders of second overall pick Evan Turner. Turner is a “do-it-all” type talent who led the Big 10 in scoring and rebounding last season. The Sixers will look to him to possibly spearhead a new era in Philadelphia. Andre Iguodala remains the man in Philadelphia, but for how long is anyone’s guess. How he and Turner mesh this season will go a long way towards determining how quickly Philadelphia can turn around in a shallow Eastern Conference. The 76ers are still a team with a lot of uncertainty, but they’ll take that as long as it can generate a lot of excitement.
4) New Jersey Nets
Incoming Players: Derrick Favors, Damion James, Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, Troy Murphy, Travis Outlaw, Johan Petro, Joe Smith
Outgoing Players: Courtney Lee, Yi Jianlian, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Chris Quinn, Josh Boone, Trenton Hassell, Bobby Simmons, Keyon Dooling, Tony Battie, Jarvis Hayes
Team Analysis: The Nets were close to becoming, historically, the worst team in NBA history last season. A late season “surge” by the Nets helped them avoid the NBA’s futility mark and allowed the team to finish 12-70 last season. There wasn’t a lot to be happy about in Jersey last season, but at least there’s hope on the horizon for this upcoming season. The Nets have a new owner now in the hugely interesting and insanely rich Mikhail Prokhorov as their brand new owner, the impending move to Brooklyn (which seems like it’s been in the works forever) is finally going to happen by 2012, and they’ve introduced a new coach to the team in Avery Johnson. Johnson, who won an NBA Championship as a player with the Spurs and went to the NBA Finals as a coach for Dallas, will at least command the attention and respect of the young talent in New Jersey.
Speaking of that new talent, nobody is more promising on the team than the third overall pick in the draft: Georgia Tech PF Derrick Favors. Favors has drawn early comparisons to Dwight Howard in terms of body structure and athletic ability, but is still very raw and will be brought along slowly by the Nets. The team lacked a lot of fortitude last season, and it’s no guarantee that they’ll develop that toughness just from the presence of their new coach. But they will be better. Troy Murphy, Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow all make great additions to the team. Will it be enough to make them a playoff team? Probably not. But after last season’s 12 win season, everything is looking up for New Jersey.
5) Toronto Raptors
Incoming Players: Ed Davis, Solomon Alabi, Leandro Barbosa, Linas Kleiza, Julian Wright
Outgoing Players: Chris Bosh, Hedo Turkoglu, Marco Belinelli, Rasho Nesterovic, Patrick O’Bryant, Antoine Wright
Play Analysis: Although the Knicks and Nets cut salary and lost games on purpose to be players this offseason, the Raptors signed and traded for talent to please one player who was going to be on the market: Chris Bosh. Bosh, however, never was going to stay in Toronto and he now resides in South Beach. The Raptors didn’t respond as harshly as Cleveland did with LeBron, but they’re going to move along with life after Bosh anyways. The talent that the team acquired last season did not gel at all, and with more turnover this season as well, chemistry will still be a huge problem with this Toronto team.
With the selection of Ed Davis in the first round, the Raptors hope to have found Bosh’s replacement immediately. Davis is a North Carolina product who is a very solid offensive talent. However, they can’t expect him to replace Bosh’s production right away. Andrea Bargnani should be primed for a huge break out year for Toronto, but I feel like that’s been said for about three straight seasons. But the talent gap between him and the next best player on the team is huge. The Raptors deserve credit for not going into complete firesale mode without Bosh and trying to still compete even though they lost their best player. But the moves they made this offseason won’t do much to help the team make the postseason. Coaching, chemistry and defense were the biggest problems last year; they’re still problems this season.
Tags: 76ers, Al Harrington, Andre Iguodala, Andrea Bargnani, Andres Nocioni, Andy Rautins, Anthony Morrow, Anthony Randolph, Antoine Wright, Avery Bradley, Bobby Simmons, Brian Scalabrine, Celtics, Chris Bosh, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Chris Duhon, Chris Quinn, Courtney Lee, Craig Brackins, Damion James, Darius Songaila, David Lee, Delonte West, Derrick Favors, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Ed Davis, Eddie House, Evan Turner, Francisco Elson, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, J.R. Gidden, Jason Smith, Jerome Jordan, Joe Smith, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar, Julian Wright, Kelenna Azubuike, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Keyon Dooling, Knicks, Leandro Barbosa, LeBron James, Linas Kleiza, Luke Harangody, Marco Belinelli, Nets, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Raptors, Raymond Feleton, Rodney Carney, Ronny Turiaf, Samuel Dalembert, Shawne Williams, Shelden Williams, Solomon Alabi, Spencer Hawes, Spurs, Timofey Mozgov, Tony Allen, Tony Battie, Tracy McGrady, Travis Outlaw, Troy Murphy, Von Wafer, Willie Green, Yi Jianlian
Posted on: July 9, 2010 7:07 pm
This entry has been removed by the administrator.
This message has been removed by the administrator.
Posted on: June 7, 2010 8:19 pm
What's up folks? I've actually never done a mock draft before, but I did a lot of reading up on prospects for the Hornets appearance in the lottery and I'm goign to give it a shot now. Forgive me if you think this totally sucks. Don't be afraid to criticize, definitely don't be afraid to praise and I hope this generates some conversation heading forward on this dead day in between NBA Finals games. So here goes out.
By the way, I'm only going to mock draft the first round.
1) Washington Wizards - John Wall, PG, Kentucky - Seems to be the no brainer pick here. I'm not really excited about Wall's prospects going forward, but I've been wrong on his type before (Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade) and he could continue to prove me wrong. Overall, though, front offices are in love with him and he becomes the new face of a team that really needs a new start.
2) Philadelphia 76ers - Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State - I'm aware of the comparisons to Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young, but with the consensus being that Wall and Turner are the two can't miss prospects from this draft, I think Philadelphia has to stay at this place and take their chances with him. Also, if they have to move Young or Iguodala then I don't think they'll hesitate. It's not as if those guys did anything for team success this season.
3) New Jersey Nets - Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech - The Nets rebuilding process may be slow and tedious, but he fits in nicely with Brook Lopez, Devin Harris and Courtney Lee. It continues to give New Jersey a nice little core with a lot of promise going forward, which may make them a more appealing destination next offseason.
4) Minnesota Timberwolves - Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse - Sorry, BNW, but this looks like the pick here. Unless the team parts ways with Al Jefferson or Kevin Love going into the draft, the necessity of taking DeMarcus Cousins here just isn't necessary. Even though he's the better prospect, Minnesota would have a complete logjam without any fluidity in their frontcourt. Johnson also allows for Corey Brewer to go to the bench for Minnesota where he can be more of an impact player.
5) Sacramento Kings - DeMarcus Cousins, PF, Kentucky - The Kings wind up with the most promising player in the draft at the 5th spot. Cousins has a lot of upside but there seems to be questions regarding his attitude. Some think those red flags are unfair, but they do exist. Cousins will have to work on staying out of foul trouble and on his conditioning (he didn't play a lot of minutes his one year in college) but he should be great if he doesn't become a problematic player.
Now we have a general idea of how the top 5 is going to play out. The rest of it is all subjective.
6) Golden State Warriors - Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown - I see the Warriors taking Monroe here to fit in nicely with their frontcourt. They already have the athletic big men in Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph, they have their explosive frontcourt with Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis and Monroe can fill in at either PF or C (in a pinch) for the Warriors.
7) Detroit Pistons - Al Farouq-Aminu, SF, Wake Forest - Probably the best player available at this point, Aminu will be able to step into Detroit (a team largely in need of talent) and contribute immediately. He could be the eventual replacement for Tayshaun Prince (who may not even be with the team by the start of the season) and could turn into a nice player at a big position of need.
8) Los Angeles Clippers - Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas - I don't think Henry deserves to go this guy, but the Clippers could use a conventional shooting guard that allows for Eric Gordon to come off of the bench. With Blake Griffin debuting next season and with Chris Kaman under contract, the need for a big guy isn't huge but they could take one here. However, I see them taking Henry at this spot.
9) Utah Jazz - Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas - The Greg Osterag comparisons are entirely unfair (and, I would claim, racially motivated). Aldrich is a great shot blocker and tough defensive presence that the Jazz sorely need at their center position. He's a legit center who may never star in this league, but he can make a big difference right away for the Jazz.
10) Indiana Pacers - Epke Udoh, PF, Baylor - While picks like Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough haven't payed immediate dividends, a pure shooting guard or point guard would be a better fit for the Pacers at this point. However, there really isn't one available. For this reason, I could see the Pacers trading down (I know a lot of mocks have Heyward going here, but Indiana won't reach that high) but if they stay here, they'll Udoh and he can be a big upgrade over Hibbert right away.
11) New Orleans Hornets - Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky - The idea of taking a small forward here is really intriguing, but the Hornets probably draft for need and take a big man here. Since I don't want the team to end up with Ed Davis or Larry Sanders, I'm going to pencil in Patterson here. Patterson has drawn a lot of comparisons to David West in that he wants to be a conventional PF but lacks the size to do it. However, being similar to David West is alright in this poster's eyes and, with West likely to opt out next summer, Patterson could wind up starting by next year for New Orleans.
12) Memphis Grizzlies - Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Lithuania - The Grizzlies probably don't need to add another big man, but I think the recent investigations with Zach Randolph are going to scare the team off of giving him the reported contract extension. For that reason, they may want to start looking for a replacement. Motiejunas is a complete opposite of Zach Randolph, but with Marc Gasol around the basket, the team can afford to take a chance on the sharp shooting, smooth 7 footer Motiejunas.
13) Toronto Raptors - Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall - With Chris Bosh likely leaving, Toronto may start to look forward for its frontcourt. Who knows where they'll be selecting depending on what trades they do or don't make involving Hedo Turkoglu, but there's no doubt the team needs a big man. For that reason, the Raptors take Hassan Whiteside here, who's a big project but worthy of the risk at this selection. Also, he's a legit center which would allow for Andrea Bargnani to play at his more natural power forward position.
14) Houston Rockets - Paul George, SF, Fresno State - I don't think that Yao Ming is healthy and nobody can say certainly that he is. However, the Rockets will go into next season with the idea that he'll be the team's starting center. As a result, the team isn't in need of drafting another power forward. Therefore, I see the team taking one of the fastest rising stars in the draft in George and plugging him in alongside Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin to form an explosive offensive trio.
15) Milwaukee Bucks - Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina - Although the Bucks aren't in desperate need of a big man, Davis can be plugged in to the rebuilding Bucks right away and immediately contribute for the team. Whether as a starter or backing up Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Davis would a nice compliment to Andrew Bogut in the frontcourt and would join an already young and impressive Bucks squad.
16) Minnesota Timberwolves - James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State - Ideally, the Timberwolves would love George to be here at 16th. Because he's not, the team goes for another wing man here with the 16th pick. Anderson has a nice offensive touch and can immediately step in as the team's starting shooting guard next season. He'd bring a long range shot that was missing in Minnesota last season and can even become an eventual solid man defender at the NBA level.
17) Chicago Bulls - Avery Bradley, SG, Texas - Regardless of which route Chicago goes in free agency, Bradley could step in and play the Ben Gordon role in Chicago. Kirk Hinrich may be better coming off the bench and, although similarly undersized, Bradley would be a better compliment in the backcourt with Derrick Rose than Hinrich is. Anderson would be a great fit here as well if I didn't have him going to Minnesota.
18) Miami Heat - Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky - Rumored to be a potential lottery pick, the size starved Heat will take a chance on the promising but largely unproven Orton. Although he only produced in spots last season for Kentucky, there seems to be a lot of potential for Orton. His lack of colleigate production will cause him to drop out of the lottery, but Miami will quickly take him here.
19) Boston Celtics - Gordon Heyward, SF, Butler - Although not your prototypical shooting guard, Heyward would be able to contribute in Boston right away. Really promising and possesing a really good fell for the game, Heyward would fit in with Boston and could eventually be groomed to supplant Ray Allen's shooting guard position, or be the eventual replacement for Paul Pierce. Either way, the Celtics could use a young, talented wing player and Heyward fits the bill.
20) San Antonio Spurs - Damion James, SF, Texas - The Spurs will get a smart, four year senior who can contribute right away in Damion James. Needing an eventual replacement for Richard Jefferson (either this season or next season), James can play the small forward position and, while lacking the ball skills for the two guard spot, could play in that position in a pinch.
21) Oklahoma City Thunder - Larry Sanders, PF, VCU - Joining former VCU teammate Eric Maynor, Sanders could step in right away and contribute for Oklahoma City. Needing a legit PF, Sanders could join Serge Ibaka as a very promising front court going forward for Oklahoma City, which may be forced to let Jeff Green go due to financial limitations after they give the money to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
22) Portland Trail Blazers - Kevin Seraphin, PF, France - Without the necessary roster spots, Portland may seem content with drafting a foreign prospect and stashing him overseas for a couple of years. A talented big man, Seraphin won't take LaMarcus Aldridge's spot anytime soon but he could be a contributing piece for a thin Portland frontcourt.
23) Minnesota Timberwolves - Luke Babbitt, SF, Nevada - Seen as a possible lottery talent, Minnesota will be extremely happy that Babbitt fell to them at 23. Babbitt is different from the earlier picks in that he can play a front court position if necessary (although his skill set is more natural for a SF).
24) Atlanta Hawks - Eric Bledsoe, SG, Kentucky - With Joe Johnson probably leaving and with Mike Bibby no longer blowing anybody away, Atlanta needs to turn its attention to the backcourt with the 24th pick. Bledsoe may be very similar to Jamaal Crawford in that he's an undersized two guard who likes to score a lot, but the team may not have a long term need for Crawford either after this season.
25) Memphis Grizzlies - Willie Warren, SG, Oklahoma - Seen as a possible lottery pick last season before deciding to stay at Oklahoma, Warren will be able to step in and be a nice combo guard off the bench for Memphis. Jamaal Tinsley isn't going to lock down any spots on the bench, so the guard spots should be wide open and Warren's scoring would fit rigiht in with what the rest of the Grizzlies are doing.
26) Oklahoma City Thunder - Devin Ebanks, SF, West Virginia - Joining Sanders, Ebanks looks like a solid second first round pick for Oklahoma City. He may be too similar to Kevin Durant, but he can be a nice back up for Oklahoma City at both the SG and the SF positions. He's a really smart player that's a fine rebounder for his position and also shoots a high percentage from the field. That'd fit right in with what Oklahoma City's doing.
27) New Jersey Nets - Lance Stephenson, SG, Cincinnati - There have long been attitude issues with Stephenson and questions about his character, but Stephenson is an extremely talented player who can shoot from NBA range and has great size for a shooting guard or small forward. It's a risky pick for New Jersey, but his upside has impressed scouts thus far and he may be worth the risk at 27.
28) Memphis Grizzlies - Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State - Another player whose stock dropped after he decided to stay in college instead of entering last year's draft, Brackins is a hard workign big man who could provide some grit and toughness for the Grizzlies. After having taken two prolific scorers with their other first round picks, Brackins is the kind of low post, hard working presence the team could use.
29) Orlando Magic - Elliot Williams, SG, Memphis - Although Orlando would like to take a big man here to move Rashard Lewis to his natural SF position, they take Williams with hopes that he can become the eventual replacement for Vince Carter. Although lacking a great midrange game, Williams is a fantastic open court player and has no problem finishing around the basket. He's also a great on ball defender and can learn even more in the Magic's system.
30) New Jersey Nets - Armon Johnson, PG, Nevada - A tough point guard who could give the Nets another young, promising player, Johnson can step in and give New Jersey depth at the point guard position right away. He's a solid, solid pick this late in the first round as well.
Tags: 76ers, Aaron Brooks, Al Jefferson, Andre Iguodala, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Anthony Randolph, Ben Gordon, Blake Griffin, Brandan Wright, Brook Lopez, Bucks, Bulls, Celtics, Chris Bosh, Chris Kaman, Clippers, Corey Brewer, Courtney Lee, David West, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dwyane Wade, Eric Gordon, Eric Maynor, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, Hornets, Jamaal Tinsley, Jazz, Jeff Green, Joe Johnson, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Kings, Kirk Hinrich, LaMarcus Aldridge, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Magic, Marc Gasol, Mike Bibby, Monta Ellis, Nets, Pacers, Paul Pierce, Pistons, Raptors, Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Roy Hibbert, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Spurs, Stephen Curry, Tayshaun Prince, Thaddeus Young, Thunder, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Tyler Hansbrough, Vince Carter, Warriors, Wizards, Yao Ming, Zach Randolph
Posted on: May 30, 2010 10:23 pm
Now that we've sat through, what seems like, a 13 month sabattical to finally get to the NBA Finals, it's here. After series sweeps and poor basketball, the conference finals finally brought some life that had been missing to the NBA Postseason. And, honestly, I don't think any basketball fan can be upset with this matchup. Even though the Lakers and Celtics are matching up for what seems, to us small market teams fans, like the 6,000th time in the NBA Finals, they are genuinely the two best teams at this point and two of the best franchises in the NBA (as evident by their 6,000 matchups). Both teams have faced adversity, have won with defense, have won with offense, have coaches who have been there and have players who have been there. This matchup was physical and contested back in 2008 and we can expect the same here. But how did both teams arrive to this point?
The Boston Celtics entered the 2010 postseason on a really sour note. As has been documented, the Celtics were 23-5 after Christmas but then went 27-27 over the next 54 games to stumble into the postseason as the 4th seed. Everything ranging from Doc River's interest in coaching the team to injuries to age had been used as reasons for the Celtics ailments. But a confrontation between Kevin Garnett and Quentin Richardson in Game 1 of the Heat vs. Celtics series highlighted what was a terrific comeback in Game 1 for Boston and they rode that momentum to a very convincing five game series victory over the Heat. Next up, the Celtics were matched up against the team that finished with the best record in the NBA and the team that had the two time defending MVP in LeBron James. Using the same tenacious defense and physical style of play that swarmed fellow NBA great Dwyane Wade, the Celtics contained LeBron as best as any team could possibly do and saw Rajon Rondo step up as the team advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for a rematch with the team that knocked them out of the postseason last year: the Orlando Magic. Like Wade and LeBron, Orlando had its own superstar in Dwight Howard that posted a huge threat to Boston's quest for a championship. But showing the stuff that champions are made of, Boston won both Games 1 and 2 in Orlando and held on to eventually eleminate the Magic on the Parquet in Game 6. The Celtics now enter this postseason looking for their second championship in three years with the starting lineup that Doc Rivers will tell you has never lost a postseason series.
Coming off two Western Conference Championships and after winning their 15th NBA Championship in Franchise History (second only to Boston's 17), the Lakers entered this season as the resounding favorites to repeat; at the very least in the Western Conference. They seemed to coast through the season on talent alone but still managed to establish home court advantage in the Western Conference. Being one of the most decorated teams in NBA history, the Lakers faced a polar opposite in the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder, who were the youngest team, collectively, in the NBA. The Thunder gave the Lakers fits with their athleticism, youthful energy and fantastic home court. The Lakers faced a challenge many didn't think would come so early, but fought it off and eleminated the Thunder in six games. Up next was a familiar postseason foe: the Utah Jazz. The Jazz and Lakers always seem to face eachother in the postseason, and this season the big bodies and matchup advantages that the Lakers possesed helped history repeat itself, as the Lakers managed to sweep Utah in four games and rest comfortably before a matchup with the rival Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals. Even in a tough matchup with a motivated, game Phoenix Suns team, the Lakers looked like champions throughout the series; winning convincingly in Games 1 and 2 and playing a great game of basketball to close out Game 6 in Phoenix. The Lakers look to close the gap between them and Boston in terms of the NBA's greatest franchise (17 championships for Boston to 15 for Los Angeles), and Kobe Bryant looks to add a 5th Championship to his storied career and allow for Phil Jackson to collect his 11th.
How do these teams match up and who has the advantage in what area? That will now be addressed.
Western Conference Champion: (1) Los Angeles Lakers (57-25; 12-4) vs. Eastern Conference Champion: (4) Boston Celtics (50-32; 12-5)
Why The Lakers Will Win: First and foremost, the Lakers enter this series with the Home Court after finishing the season with a better record than Boston. Both teams won on the other's court this season and it's well known how the Celtics were able to take that historic Game 4 at Staples back in 2008, but at the end of the day you'd still rather be the team playing its pivotal games at home as opposed to being on the road. They will still have the best player on the court for the entire series as well in Kobe Bryant. Bryant has shown as the postseason has continued that he's still, arguably, the best player in the Game. In a late game situation, there's no better player to give the ball to. Also, the Lakers have brought in Ron Artest for matchups like this, where they can throw him at Paul Pierce or Ray Allen defensively. Also, this Lakers team is better equipped to match up with a physical Boston team than the 2008 version of the Lakers. Now having won a championship as a team and having been battle tested as a team, there won't be any deer in the headlights looks that the Lakers had in 2008. Also, this is the first series Boston will have where they have to stay in the paint and guard every one of the Lakers big men. Teams like Cleveland and Miami didn't have the front court depth to give Boston's defense fits whereas the Lakers have the size to cause Boston problems.
Why The Celtics Will Win: Every bit of experience that the Lakers bring to the table, the Celtics bring as well. It could be argued that the only reason these teams aren't matching up for a third consecutive Finals is because of the injury to Kevin Garnett last season. The Celtics have shown the last two rounds that home court can be taken with just one victory on the road and they've shown the ability to do that. Even though Kobe Bryant is the best closer in the game, the Celtics have a player in Paul Pierce who is very adept in those late game situations as well: as highlighted in his Game 6 performance against Orlando. Furthermore, this Celtics team is still relatively healthy. They have problems with Rasheed Wallace's back, but everyone else has managed to stay hungry, motivated and on the court for the entire postseason whereas the Lakers have issues with Andrew Bynum that could hinder one of their on court advantages. Also, this Celtics team looks motivated and after knocking out three legitimate superstars in Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Dwight Howard, there's nothing that Kobe Bryant can do that would intimidate the Boston Celtics team.
Key Player for the Lakers: Derek Fisher has managed to step it up offensively when the Lakers have needed him to this postseason, and opposing point guards haven't trashed the Lakers as they did last postseason and all of this season. However, Rajon Rondo is the most difficult matchup in the series. Fisher will either have to guard Rondo or Ray Allen (if Phil decides to put Kobe on Rondo), which are both disadvantages for the Lakers. However, Fisher brings championship intangibles that most teams just can't find and, even just last postseason, Fisher showed that when needed he can still nail the crucial three pointer that can change a series. If his defense is going to be a problem this series, which looks likely, his offense will be needed to offset whatever disadvantage his guarding Rondo or Ray Allen may create.
Key Player for the Celtics: Rasheed Wallace's back should be better by June 3rd and hopefully that shows in his play. He looked really bad in Game 6 against Orlando, but if he's able to go for Boston then he makes all the difference in this Finals matchup. Lamar Odom is one of the toughest matchups in the NBA, but Rasheed Wallace is a player that can keep up with him and guard Odom. Criticized for his play all year long, Wallace has emerged into an absolutely terrific bench contributor this postseason for Boston and has been extremely important to Boston's ultimate success. If Bynum, Pau Gasol or Odom have to guard Wallace out on the perimeter, it opens up the door for players like Pierce and Rondo to get to the basket. If Wallace consistently hits that jump shot, it makes even more of a difference. All in all, Wallace brings the offensive and defensive intangibles off the bench that can offset whatever bench production the Lakers may or may not get on a nightly basis.
Prediction: Celtics in six
Key As To Why They Will Win: Honestly, I'm just a believer. I've picked against Boston all postseason long and, for that reason, Crotch and other Celtics fans probably don't want me to pick them here. But they've really emerged as the best team in the postseason so far. They've faced off against the best players in the league and knocked out two terrific, game Cleveland and Orlando teams. And they did so without home court advantage. Even though I think the subraction of James Posey this postseason from the 2008 NBA Finals matchup is something that some fans may forget, I truly believe Wallace is going to be a huge difference maker off the bench to combat Lamar Odom and, when it comes down to it, the Celtics have shown that they can win pivotal games in hostile territory. And they only need to win one in this series.
Conclusion: This series is a toss up and could really go either way. The two most storied franchises in the league meeting up once again creates for financial interest and also interest from a basketball perspective. There aren't two teams playing better ball at the moment and that's why they're here. After seeing Boston guard Dwyane Wade and LeBron James the way they did, you have to imagine there's going to be plans in place as to how to guard Kobe Bryant. Also, they were able to do it in 2008 and that put a lot of onus on his teammates who just weren't ready for that moment. They may be ready now, but I'm not sure that they're capable of overcomign what Boston does. Paul Pierce, in that 2008 matchup, was the first player I've seen in a long time take it at Kobe and dominate him as easily as Kobe can do to other players. That speaks volumes to his importance in this matchup. It should be a fun series and I wouldn't be surprised if I'm wrong, but I'm a believer. Your 2010 NBA Champions will be the Boston Celtics.
Posted on: April 21, 2010 4:59 pm
Watching the playoffs always brings up memories of what you used to watch and enjoy in postseasons past. Only being 22, my earliest NBA Finals memory dates back to what I consider the greatest NBA Finals series I've ever seen, the New York Knicks vs. the Houston Rockets in 1994. But my peak playoff observing years didn't really happen until around 1998 or 1999. so to give the best comprehensive list I can, I'm doing off the top of my head and putting in order the top ten postseason moments of the last decade. Now this can be at any series (first round, semifinals, conference finals and NBA Finals) and I'll date them to allow for more clarity on certain topics. Hopefully fans from all teams will remember in agony, remember in bliss or us fans who cheered for teams without much postseason memories of the decade can remember moments that, even though we had no emotional attachment, just made us say "wow." So here it is, GoHornets21's Top Ten Postseason Moments of the Decade.
Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire, Baron Davis, Ben Wallace, Bulls, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Derek Fisher, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Eddie House, Heat, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, LeBron James, Manu Ginobili, Mavericks, Nets, Pacers, Paul Pierce, Pistons, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Rockets, Shaquille O'Neal, Spurs, Stephen Jackson, Suns, Tayshaun Prince, Tim Duncan, Warriors
Posted on: April 16, 2010 2:05 pm
It's playoff time! At this point, the stakes are high and offseason paychecks and inseason acquisitions are expected to be rewarded with postseason success and jobs will be secured and won with big playoff appearances. There are a ton of great matchups and the NBA really got it right with the sixteen teams that made it. There's not one matchup, maybe outside of Cleveland, that looks like it won't be a fantastic matchup. But here we go, this is GoHornets21's 2010 First Round Playoff Preview.
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (8) Chicago Bulls - A really intriquing matchup here. The Cavs ended this season with the most wins in the league for the second consecutive season. The Bulls looked dead a few weeks ago, only to experience a resurgence and have straked their way into the postseason. The Cavs have coasted for awhile now and LeBron James hasn't even played in a couple of weeks. Likewise, the team will be integrating Shaquille O'Neal back into the lineup after missing two months with a right thumb injury. The Bulls, though, are experiencing their own bit of inner turmoil after a reported confrontation between head coach Vinny Del Negro and VP of Basketball John Paxson dominated the headlines in Chicago. The Bulls are playing great basketball, but they don't have the horses to keep up with Cleveland. The fact that they have a head coach that, in all likelihood, won't be there next season doesn't do much to help the team's psychi. Derrick Rose will make things interesting, this won't be a sweep, but Cleveland has time to get their players back, figure out their rotation and still win this series.
(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (8) Oklahoma City Thunder - A classic matchup of youth vs. experience here. The Thunder are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2005 (when the team was still in Seattle) and are in the playoffs as the youngest team in the NBA. Facing them are the defending NBA Champions; who struggled in the last month of the regular season. The Lakers are banged up across the board and look vulnerable here in the postseason and the Thunder are young, fearless and dynamic across the board. But what is the Lakers biggest strength, size, is the Thunder's biggest weakness. Unfortunately, the Thunder are a bit overmatched in their first playoff series going up against the champs.
(4) Denver Nuggets vs. (5) Utah Jazz - Two really tough teams to figure out go to battle in this series. The Nuggets have really struggled ever since George Karl's unfortunate cancer diagnosis back in February and have gone through moments where they looked like the same, immature, selfish Nuggets of years past. The Jazz have gone through stretches this season where they look great, stretches where they look bad, and stretches where they just look lost. Add Carlos Boozer to the team's indecisiveness, as he's a game time decision for the playoff opener. However, I think the Nuggets longer spell of mediocrity is a sign of things to come with Dantley at the helm, and unfortunately they really miss their general.
(3) Phoenix Suns vs. (6) Portland Trail Blazers - Probably the NBA's hottest team, the Phoenix Suns finally look like a formidable team again for the first time in a few seasons. Now with an added attitude on defense, the Suns look as complete as they ever have since the seven seconds or less days. Still lethal on offense, the Suns will follow Steve Nash's lead in hopes of taking advantage of a Bradon Roy-less Trail Blazers squad. Without Roy, the Blazers will look to other players to step up; as they have all season long battling the injuries the team has. However, they look to be too overmatched against Phoenix at this point in time.
Tags: Al Horford, Amar'e Stoudemire, Andrew Bogut, Andrew Bynum, Bobcats, Brandon Jennings, Brendan Haywood, Bucks, Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Caron Butler, Cavaliers, Celtics, Dan Gadzuric, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, George Hill, Gerald Wallace, Hawks, Heat, James Harden, Jason Terry, Jazz, Jerryd Bayless, Joe Johnson, John Salmons, Jose Juan Barea, Kenyon Martin, Kevin Garnett, Kirk Hinrich, Kurt Thomas, Lakers, Lamar Odom, LaMarcus Aldridge, LeBron James, Louis Amundson, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Magic, Manu Ginobili, Matt Bonner, Mavericks, Mehmet Okur, Michael Beasley, Mo Williams, Nate Robinson, Nuggets, Paul Millsap, Paul Pierce, Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen, Robin Lopez, Shaquille O'Neal, Spurs, Steve Nash, Suns, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Tyson Chandler
Posted on: February 10, 2010 1:46 am
We're approaching the all star weekend in the NBA; the unofficial midseason point for NBA teams. At this point, we all have a pretty good understanding and grip on what certain teams are going to be able to do and what a lot of teams are unable to do. Lots of trades are being rumored to go down even though nothing looks concrete as of yet. But why are teams in this situation? A lot of them are where they are because of the moves they made this offseason. Last year, I wrote a report on how the NBA's biggest offseason additions worked by the all star break. Some, like the Mo Williams acquisition for the Cavaliers, worked. Some, like the Jermaine O'Neal experiment in Toronto, flopped. So we're going to give it a shot again. Here's a look back at the biggest player movements during the offseason and how they've worked thus far in the 2009-2010 NBA Season.
Cleveland Cavaliers trade Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic to the Phoenix Suns to acquire Shaquille O'Neal
San Antonio Spurs trade Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto to the Milwaukee Bucks to acquire Richard Jefferson
Boston Celtics sign Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels
Los Angeles Lakers sign Ron Artest
Orlando Magic trade Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee and Tony Battie to the New Jersey Nets for Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson
Atlanta Hawks trade Acie Law and Speedy Claxton to the Golden State Warriors for Jamal Crawford
Tags: Acie Law, Allen Iverson, Andrew Bynum, Ben Gordon, Ben Wallace, Bobcats, Bucks, Cavaliers, Celtics, Charlie Villanueva, Chauncey Billups, Courtney Lee, Delonte West, Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor, Fabricio Oberto, Glen Davis, Hawks, Hedo Turkoglu, Hornets, Jamal Crawford, Jermaine O'Neal, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Kurt Thomas, Lakers, Magic, Marquis Daniels, Mo Williams, Nets, Paul Pierce, Piston, Rafer Alston, Raptors, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Ron Artest, Ryan Anderson, Sasha Pavlovic, Shaquille O'Neal, Spurs, Suns, Tony Battie, Trail Blazers, Trevor Ariza, Tyson Chandler, Vince Carter, Warriors
Posted on: January 5, 2010 5:00 pm
It all started with us running to wal mart to buy tuna fish and bottled water. It ended with us cursing the Lakers and Cavaliers and those darn puppets. The years 2000 to 2010 were full of exciting basketball, break through players and broken hearts. Scandal erupted when it was discovered that an NBA official was found gambling on games that he was officiating. Fans were dazzled for Michael Jordan's return to the NBA when he donned the Washington Wizards jersey. A city was revived in 2008 when the Boston Celtics landed Kevin Garnett and returned to the NBA's elite. With so much happening, it was pretty difficult to narrow down what awards I was going to give and who or what I would give them to. But all in all, I'm pleased with it so here goes: GoHornets21's NBA End of the Decade Awards.
Team of the Decade - Los Angeles Lakers - Let's face facts, the first champions of this decade were the 2000 Los Angeles Lakers. The last champions of the decade? The 2009 Los Angeles Lakers. A lot happened in Lakerland this decade, from the initial three peat, to Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant's continued spats, to O'Neal being traded to Miami, to Phil Jackson retiring, to the tough losing season, to Phil returning, to the two consecutive first round exits, to Kobe pubicly demanding to be traded, to Pau Gasol winding up in their laps and culminating in last year's title. It was a fantastic voyage for Los Angeles, who won four championships this decade in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2009, and the made the finals two other seasons in 2004 and 2008. They routinely defeated the closest challenger for team of the decade, the San Antonio Spurs, when the team's would square off in the postseason, with Duncan and company only beating the Lakers in the 2003 semifinals. Through it all, Kobe Bryant was celebrated, jeered, villifed and eventually dignified when he won a championship in 2009. Through it all, the Lakers were always either the team you loved to hate, or the team that everybody was hitchin' their bandwagon to. And that's why they win the team of the decade.
Team of the Decade (in a season) - the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics - Entering the 2007 offseason, the Celtics were a team with a very storied past but with a rocky recent few seasons. Coming off a ridiculously bad 2006-2007 season, Paul Pierce openly accepted the possibility of being traded from the only team he's ever played for, and Doc Rivers was viewed across the board as someone who just couldn't coach. Looking at it now, those would stand as blasphemous statements now. But that's was widely accepted percepetion then. Then the team tried to pry Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were looking to trade their superstar to begin their rebuilding process. Garnett initiall refused to go to Boston and the deal looked dead. But when the Celtics pulled off a draft day trade to land Ray Allen in a Boston uniform, Garnett changed his mind, and Boston still had enough pieces to convince Minnesota to trade Garnett and the Big Three became the hysteria of the league. Coming into the season with all kinds of expectations, the Celtics would fill their roster with unwanted veterans like James Posey, P.J. Brown, Sam Cassell and Eddie House and would start young, unproven players such as Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins at point guard and center to stand alongside the Big Three. What happened was some of the best basketball of the decade. The Celtics accepted all expectations and soon exceeded them. They would start off the season hot and never look back. With Garnett winning the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year award, the Celtics would be transformed into a defensive juggernaut, almost impossible to score against and extremely efficient on the offensive end. They would survive a scare from the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the postseason and then survive an equally scary Cleveland Cavaliers team in the semifinals, before convincingly defeating their arch rivals all season long, the Detroit Pistons in the Conference finals and then the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
Rivalry of the Decade - Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings - If you were alive during and thriving in basketball during the early portion of this decade, you were enthralled by the Lakers and Kings rivalry. They had an Southern California vs. Northern California hatred for one another. They were both finesse teams that could really play some exciting basketball. They both had terrific coaches in Phil Jackson and Rick Adelman, and one team always beat the other. The early Sacramento Kings, espcially the 2002 Sacramento Kings, are easily the best teams I've ever seen that didn't win a championship. Led by Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic and Mike Bibby, there would be on court fights, off court ridicule and constant playoff matchups with the Lakers for the Kings that would eventually force Sacramento's hand in dismantling the team. Whether it be the classic seven game 2002 Western Conference Semifinals, the classic slugfest between Doug Christie and Rick Fox or Shaq's classic boast that "Los Angeles is the new capital of California", this rivalry had everything you could ever want. Not only was it two teams that detested eachother, it was two wonderfully talented teams that hated eachother and would routinely put on some of the best basketball of the decade.
Fans of the Deace - the Portland Trail Blazers - The Rose Garden has always been an exciting place to watch an NBA Basketball game. The fans in Portland truly embrace and love their franchise and have for a very long time. When the Trail Blazers suffered early success in the beginning part of this decade, they truly were a fantastic group of fans who supported their team. When things got rough with off court problems, the fans let their frustrations be known, and the Trail Blazers were eventually forced to follow public desire and shed the "Jail Blazers" monicker. Through it all, the Rose Garden was routinely sold out and finally became the place to watch basketball again in 2007, when the new Brandon Roy led Blazers burst onto the scene.
Upset of the Decade - the Detroit Pistons over the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals - Coming into the 2003-2004 season, the Lakers were a team that already had won three championships and had Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal manning down the roster. In the offseason, the team added veterans Karl Malone and Gary Payton, both eager to win a championship and both future hall of famers as well. A lot was made of the Lakers four eventual Hall of Famers on one roster, and the team overcame injuries and Kobe's sexual assault allegations to peak in the postseason and take their rightful spot in the NBA Finals. Over in the Eastern Conference, a solid team with a coach who never could win the big one played solid basketball all season long, acquired Rasheed Wallace at midseason and looked poised to make a nice run in the postseason as well. When they eventually made the NBA Finals, not a snowball's chance in the Devil's residence was given to Detroit to beat the Los Angeles Lakers. What followed was one of the most convincing five game victories in NBA postseason history. After taking game 1 in convincing fashion, the Lakers would need late game heroics by Kobe Bryant to steal game 2 away from the Pistons. But when the series shifted to Detroit for the next three games, the fantastic Detroit fans and the cohesive Pistons unit routinely thumped the Lakers and would win all three games in Detroit to take the NBA Finals in five games.
Playoff Series of the Decade - Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings in the 2002 Western Conference Finals - As documented earlier, the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings hated eachother. Largely, the Kings were viewed as a soft team incapable of beating Los Angeles. But they acquired Mike Bibby in the 2001 offseason and won home court advantage throughout the postseason and looked as poised as ever to finally defeat their arch nemisis. After the Lakers shocked the Kings in game 1 at Arco Arena, all of the ghosts and skeltons came out of Sacramento's closets and things looked bad for the Kings. But then the Kings would take back game 2 and then win game 3 at Staples Center in convincing fashion. With a 2-1 lead, the Kings entered the pivotal game 4 focused and ready to take full advantage of the series. With the lead late, the Lakers through up a myriad of attempts to take the lead but were unable to, when the ball was tipped out to Robert Horry who hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history at the buzzer to give the Lakers the win and to tie the series at 2-2. Even with their spirits hurting, the Kings were resilient in winning game 5. Game 6 will be forever covered in mystery over whether or not the referees intentionally gave the Lakers the victory as was hinted by Tim Donaghy, but the Lakers used those free throws to their advantage and took game 6 at home. This set up the fantastic game 7 in Arco Arena, where the Kings had every opportunity to win the game but uncharacteristically missed free throw after free throw, allowing the game to go into overtime where the Lakers eventually won. The Kings never reached the conference finals again that decade and eventually jettisoned Chris Webber, then Peja Stojakovic, then Mike Bibby before entering the rebuilding stage that they're in now.
Tags: Al Jefferson, Allen Iverson, Andrew Bynum, Ben Wallace, Brandon Roy, Bulls, Cavaliers, Celtics, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Eddie House, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, James Posey, Jason Kidd, Javaris Crittenton, Jazz, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Kwame Brown, Lakers, LaMarcus Aldridge, LeBron James, Marc Gasol, Mavericks, Mike Bibby, Pacers, Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce, Peja Stojakovic, Pistons, Rajon Rondo, Randy Foye, Rasheed Wallace, Ray Allen, Ron Artest, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Shaqille O'Neal, Spurs, Steve Nash, Suns, Theo Ratliff, Tim Duncan, Timberwolves, Tracy McGrady, Trail Blazers, Tyrus Thomas, Warriors, Wizards, Yao Ming