hit counter

NBA Playoffs: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Utah Jazz

April 17, 2009 by AlexV · Leave a Comment 

Tune into ABC this Sunday April 19th at 3:00pm for Game one of the Lakers/Jazz 1st round NBA playoff series.

Tune into ABC this Sunday April, 19th at 3:00pm for game one of the Lakers/Jazz first round NBA playoff series.

The settling of the up and down western conference standings has finally come. The matchups are set, and the playoffs begin this Saturday April 18th. The first bout features the number one seeded Lakers going against the number eight seeded Utah Jazz. Time to discuss.


The Utah Jazz have all season long been noted as a team who can be dangerous come playoff time, and especially for the Lakers since they were able to take their series last season to six games. But that was back earlier this year when the Jazz were in contention for a playoff seed as high as number two. Now the only recognition they are getting is that they can pose problems for the Lakers. Too bad they won’t pose enough problems four times.


The Jazz are led by one of the league’s top point guards in Deron Williams with his 19.4ppg and 10.7apg. They are also spurred by the much improved play of Ronnie Brewer, Paul Millsap, and even C.J. Miles. If you throw in the scrappy play by international stars Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko, as well as the three point baller in Kyle Korver, you most certainly have a solid unit. However, the Jazz’s bad side is not too promising.


Guys like Okur, Kirilenko, Brewer, etc do not have the ability to take over a game and can barely create their own shots. When you throw in the fact that the one other guy on the team who could have done that besides Williams, Carlos Boozer, has struggled to get back into the swing of things since his recent return from injury, then the Jazz are nothing more than a team that may be running on fumes by games four and five of the series.


The Lakers on the other hand, now there’s a squad! No one on the Jazz (and much less the entire NBA) is the equivalent or on par with Kobe Bryant. No one on the Jazz is as consistent and solid as Pau Gasol, and the one guy who was close, Boozer, is still catching up. Another thing L.A. has going for them is that there big man who recently returned from injury, Andrew Bynum, has actually transitioned a lot smoother than Boozer.


But the most telling characteristic about each team is this; the roles of the Utah Jazz players are mostly defined by what Deron Williams can do each night on the court whereas for the Lakers… everybody on the team knows their role.


I believe that the high dependence for success resting on the shoulders of one player in Utah (Williams) against the unit on a mission to absolve last season’s failures in L.A. will undoubtedly prevail in five games. See ya Jazzies.

Are the Cleveland Cavaliers Ready to Come Out of the East?

March 9, 2009 by AlexV · Leave a Comment 

LeBron James' career year has him posting 28.1ppg, 7.4rpg, and 7.0apg. Those are the numbers of a star.

LeBron James' career year has him posting 28.1ppg, 7.4rpg, and 7.0apg. Those are the numbers of a star.

Much has been said this year about the great record and stellar play of the Cleveland Cavaliers as a unit. They currently are 2nd in the league in points given up per game only behind the Boston Celtics. Not only do they defend well, but with a league-best 28-1 home record, if they can hold onto their current number one spot in the east, then they would look to be a good favorite to enter the NBA finals. Guess again.

Although the Cavs literally wipe the floor with their non-playoff contenders when they play them, they tend to struggle against the top-tier teams of the league. They can’t beat Boston, and always seem to get thumped in the fourth quarter by them, and if they intend to win a championship, they’ll need to find a way to beat L.A. who swept them in convincing fashion with one of those losses resulting in their lone home loss.

On top of that, they even lost by more than 10 points to Orlando in Orlando this year. Their only convincing wins against a contender has been against the San Antonio Spurs, who they beat in Texas a few weeks ago after LeBron had his worst game statistically against the Houston Rockets.

In my opinion, if they face Boston or Orlando, they go down. If they somehow get to the finals and they face off against the Lakers, who not only have lots of different scorers, but are playing much better defense this year, they won’t win the title. All three teams have more than one all-star caliber player; the Lakers have Kobe, and Gasol, the Celtics have Garnett, Pierce, Allen, and Marbury, and the Magic boast Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Jameer Nelson. And even though James is a league leader in MVP voting, it takes more than one man to win in a league where All-Stars are almost always a necessity.

5 Contenders

January 18, 2009 by AlexV · Leave a Comment 

kevin garnett holding nba trophy1 5 Contenders

At this point there are five title contenders in the NBA; in the west, the Los Angeles Lakers (31-8) and the San Antonio Spurs 26-13, and in the east, the Cleveland Cavaliers (31-7), Orlando Magic (33-8), and Boston Celtics (33-9).

Right now, I would put the Spurs over the Lakers. I know the records are five games different, but lately I’ve been seeing Kobe take a lot of shots in the fourth quarter in games against Orlando and San Antonio that just haven’t been going down. Pau Gasol is having a great season, but now the Spurs have four guys who can be counted on to hit big shots, and not in any particular order; Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, and now Roger Mason Jr.

Furthermore, the Spurs show no signs of getting older, and they even seem like they are playing “younger” than last year.

In the east, the one team with the overall best consistency has been the Cavaliers. The Celtics seem like their big three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen are getting older (More-so Garnett and Pierce), and their role players have not stepped up much in their recent strings of losses. I would have to say that right now Pierce and Garnett seem to be taking a step back, but I know they can turn that around. However, until that happens, I have to keep them under Orlando and Cleveland, even if they are the defending champs.

The Orlando Magic just seem like they play within themselves every game, and that has been just enough to pull out some big road wins this season. But with their ever-growing regularity of settling on huge three pointers down the stretch to win games may not be so hot come playoff time… “You live by the three, you die by the three.”

Finally, it is the Cleveland Cavaliers who are my top pick in the east. LeBron James seems to be coming into his own, as if what he had been doing already wasn’t enough. He is really hitting his peak now, and is relying on his teammates much longer in games than Kobe Bryant.

What’s even more is that they (Cleveland) aren’t even letting any of the non-contenders come close to beating them at home. If they can hold on to the number one seed come playoff time, and have homecourt advantage in the Finals, I will pick them to win it all.

NBA Quarter-Mark Outlook

November 30, 2008 by AlexV · Leave a Comment 

nba logo in the middle NBA Quarter Mark Outlook

So far in the NBA a few teams are back up to their old tricks, a few have been somewhat disappointing, and a good number of upstarts from last year as well as some surprising newcomers have begun to surface.


The newcomers that need to be involved in this discussion are as follows; in the east it’s Miami, New York, and New Jersey and in the west all of the other teams with playoff aspirations are of no surprise at this point in the season. Miami, led by top scorer in points per game, Dwyane Wade, are currently 9th in the eastern conference standings. Last year, everyone remembers how atrocious they were. New York seems to be hitting its stride under the tutelage of former Phoenix head coach, Mike D’Antoni as they are 8-8 and 8th in the standings. Finally, the previous season’s trade between the Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Nets has finally begun to payoff, as the Devin Harris led Nets are 8-7, 6-4 in their last ten, and 7th in the east.


The Upstarts from last year that are proving their worth are as follows; in the east it’s the Orlando Magic, the Atlanta Hawks, while in the west we have Portland and Denver. The Magic currently sit at 3rd and atop the eastern conference standings at 13-4 going 9-1 in their last ten. Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, and Hedo Turkoglu and company are really hitting their stride. The continued and improved production of guard/forward Keith Bogans and the extra lift provided by off season veteran pick up Anthony Johnson as point guard have been stalwart.


The Hawks slid a bit after starting off 5-0 mainly because of losing Josh Smith for the next few months, but have regained form and are now 10-6 and 5th in the eastern conference.


In the west the Portland Trailblazers, continue to look like a team of the future with stars Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and the potential of first-year NBA players like Rudy Fernandez, and Greg Oden. They are now tied with Phoenix, Denver, and Houston at 11-6 while going 7-3 in their last ten games.


Denver’s success can be attributed to the trade of Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson. The Nuggets are 11-6 and 7-3 in their last ten while holding 3rd place in the west. They have had many impressive victories and performances as they beat Boston in Boston, and took the Lakers to the brink of a loss in L.A.


Now come the disappointments. The Detroit Pistons are hovering somewhere between average and above average. Although they are 10-5 and in 4th place in the east, they are suffering some inexcusable losses, most recently a 10+ point loss to Minnesota, do not yet seem to have their act together with Allen Iverson skipping the thanksgiving day practice (however, I do give huge props to Michael Curry for taking charge by suspending him for one game), and are not nearly as consistent as they were when they had Chauncey Billups in the lineup. 


The other eastern disappointments for the eastern conference are the Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, and Washington Wizards.

The Raptors just 8-7 and are barely holding a spot in the eastern conference as the 7th seeded team. With capable point guard Jose Calderon, and former all-start Jermaine O’Neal, they should be doing better.


The Sixers were a team last year that without Elton Brand finished 6th in the east and took Detroit to six games in the playoffs. Now with virtually the same team and Elton Brand, they are struggling to find their rhythm and are 7-9 and 5-5 in their last ten. As for the “Wiz Kids,” although without injured star Gilbert Arenas they may not have been a playoff contender anyway, they are still abysmal with their 2-12 record which is good for worst in the east. Last season they played without Arenas for the most part, but still managed to finish above .500 and make the playoffs. They have now fired their coach Eddie Jordan and are in a state of disarray.


The disappointments in the west are the New Orleans Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, and L.A. Clippers. The Hornets finished second last year and were one game away from the western conference finals. They are now 9-6 and 7th in the standings in the west. The Mavericks are 8-8 and look like they are ready to get their act together one game, and then go back to mediocrity the next. As for the Clippers, you would think they could be more competitive than their 3-13 record would suggest with the pickup of marquee point guard Baron Davis. Oh well.


As for the Spurs, I’m sure a lot of people would like to put them in as a disappointment, but they have been playing without Manu Ginobli for the entire season (who is set to return soon), and Tony Parker has just returned from his injury earlier in the season. To further their defense, they are now 9-7 and 7-3 in their last ten while being 8th in the west.


Finally we come to the top dogs in the league.


In the east you have the Cleveland Cavaliers with their 14-3 records, 9-1 in the last ten games, and 2nd place spot in the standings. They have put together a bevy of blowouts on their opponents this season, and the addition of a scoring point guard in Mo Williams has been absolutely huge for them.


The second team that has picked up right where they left off from last year is the Lakers. They are 13-1 and making mince meat out of would be superpower teams and have the best record in the NBA.


But the pinnacle of all teams continues to be the Boston Celtics. They’re 16-2 and are still dominating defensively and continue to get great production from their supporting cast members. And although the Lakers get much help from their bench and up and coming players, let’s face it… the Celtics are still the champs.


The last three teams I must mention are the Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, and Utah Jazz. To me, these three teams are in a state of limbo. Houston would look to be an upstart, but they can’t seem to keep their stars, Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, healthy. The Suns seem like the same team as last year, which wasn’t a contender anyway, and the Jazz keep being a team with potential that can’t seem to build on it.


That would about sum up the NBA season at or around its quarter mark. We’ll look to see who shifts from wherever they were in this discussion and who remains where they are in the coming weeks. As for those that I did not include in this article… you really just aren’t worth mentioning (Chicago, Indiana, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Golden State, Minnesota, Sacramento, Memphis and Oklahoma City).