Monday, May 28, 2012

Battle Of The East


Tomorrow at 10:30am Miami will begin their quest for a second straight NBA Finals appearance against the Boston Celtics. It is extremely disappointing that the Chicago Bulls are not fit enough to take on the Heat. That's old news now and I am moving on.

The Miami Heat are coming off a tough series against the Indiana Pacers. The Heat struggled at times with the size of the Pacers and had to rely heavily on their big two. LeBron and Wade came up big time in their four wins. Dwayne Wade was incredible in game six. He literally put them on his back and took them to the Eastern Conference finals. There were a few incidents in that series that pissed me off a little:

  • Lance Stephenson giving the Heat the choking signal during their game three victory at home. Who on earth do you think you are? You are a nobody who woke up the dead. 
  • In Game 5 Udonis Haslem clearly tried to take Tyler 'Crazy T' Hansborough's head off while defending his  jump shot. This was only given a flagrant one at the time and allowed Haslem to stay on the court. It is clearly a disgrace the NBA allowed him to take any further part in that game. The reason I say this is because if it was Metta World Peace he would have been ejected with no questions asked! I agreed with the one match ban, I thought that was enough.
  • Also in Game 5 Dexter 'Who?' Pittman takes out Lance Stephenson with a flying elbow. It was exactly like Andrew Bynum's elbow on J J Barea if not worse. If someone cares to explain how this moron only got three games go right ahead. The NBA should be disgraced that we will see this guy play again in the playoffs. I go back to MWP again, if it was him we wouldn't be seeing him in the playoffs and maybe sometime into next season! David Stern and the rest of his puppets should be ashamed. 
The Boston Celtics had a very tough time taking care of the pesky Philadelphia 76ers. It took them 7 whole games to finish them off. It could have gone either way when Paul Pierce got fouled out with 4 and a half minutes left in game 7. However Rajon Rondo stepped up to the plate making some huge plays down the stretch. I think the NBA are very happy with the series they have been dealt. I don't think a Heat/76ers Eastern Conference final will have been too exciting. 

As I did with the Western Conference finals, I'm going to go through the key match-ups and decide on my winner and in how many games. 

Point Guard: Mario Chalmers v Rajon Rondo
Rondo is the X Factor on this Celtics team. If he doesn't play well, Boston don't win. There are no if's or but's about it. Chalmers will not be able to stop him or slow him down. Rondo should be able to get in the paint whenever he wants and distribute the ball to his shooters. The keyword here is 'shooters'. Will the Boston big guys continue to hit their shots? Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett are on a tear at the moment. If Ray Allen can find the bottom of the net it is going to help Rondo so much more. This is going to pull Joel Anthony out of the paint and create more room for Rajon to do his thing. Chalmers in the meantime is going to have to help LBJ and D-Wade out by hitting the open jump shot. If he can average 10-12 points in this series it will be big time in deciding the outcome. 
VERDICT: Stop the FIGHT! Rondo wins this hands down.

Shooting Guard: Dwayne Wade v Ray Allen 
Wade is one of the best players in the league when it comes to big matches. He showed what he is more than capable of doing when he torched the Pacers in their own gym. Now he will have an aging Ray Allen to run rings around. One thing for sure is that Allen will not stop running after Wade. He will try and make every shot of Wades difficult and make him work for every point. We all know Wade is going to get his points but is Ray going to find some form in this series? Allen has been struggling with his shot all playoffs since he has returned from his injury. However he did see one drop in game seven of the last series. Sometimes that is all that is needed for a shooter. I'm sure a few of my readers can vouch for that. If Allen gets hot it is going to force Wade to run through screens for an extended period which could tire him out. If Allen isn't hitting his shot Wade can cruise on and save energy for the offensive end where he is so deadly.
VERDICT: I'd be taking Wade any day of the week but the Heat must keep an eye on Allen. He may just put out the Heat's fire. 

Small Forward: LeBron James v Paul Pierce
LBJ looks as if someone has waved the red cape in front of his face and said charge. Indiana did not know what had hit them in their final three playoff games. James torched them in every way possible. The guy can do everything bar take a game winning/tying shot ;) He may be called upon in this series. I can tell you one thing the Boston fans will be egging him on all game. The problem is he has heard it all before. The heckling is nothing new to him. James will know however that he must win this series for it all to stop. He will have Paul 'The Truth' Pierce trying to stop him though. Can Pierce slow the raging bull down? I don't think he can over seven games. He may not need seven games though. Pierce must stay out of foul trouble for Boston to be competitive. I don't think they have anyone else that can contain James. Pierce is an almighty clutch player and will definitely be called upon during this series.
VERDICT: Silly question. LBJ wins this one quite easily. I will say however I'd be taking Pierce if I needed the game winner/tie any day of the week.

Power Forward: Shane Battier v Kevin Garnett 
Battier has stepped into Chris Bosh's position and given them a much needed physicality in the paint. He did a superb job on David West in the Indiana series. He will be called on to defend KG in this one. I think he struggles with this matchup. Garnett is so much smarter than West and doesn't take as many stupid shots or shots that just aren't on. Everything KG does is within the structure of the Boston offence. Battier has the advantage of getting a hand up on KG's perimeter shots as he will be able to contain the dribble. This is something Elton Brand and co for the 76ers couldn't do. Battier is going to have to continue to hit his three ball like he did in game 6 of the last series. He came out feeling confident and hit a few threes early. If he is hitting his shots Garnett will be forced out of the painted area which could allow for plenty of offensive rebounds for the Heat. If not, Garnett will be at his best, gobbling up the boards and keeping the likes of Wade and James out of the paint. KG has the nickname of 'The Ticket' for a good reason. Whenever the Celtics are in trouble and need a win they go to the big fella for the bucket inside. He knows when he is needed, this is one of his key traits. If he continues to hit his outside jump shot the Celtics might be headed to another NBA Finals.
VERDICT: I'd be taking KG in this one. I know exactly what I'm going to get from him night in night out. Battier is a mixed bag on offence and could turn out to be a liability on defence if KG gets going.

Centre: Joel Anthony v Brandon Bass 
Anthony does one thing and does it well, blocks and changes opposition shots. He is a liability on offence and isn't used much at all. At times it's 5 on 4. I think Boston may use this to their advantage during the series. On the other hand Brandon Bass has found a new gear in his play during the playoffs. He has found that happy medium with his jumpshot which is helping the rest of the team find theirs. If he can somehow drag Anthony out of the paint by continuing to hit perimeter shots, Miami could be in a bit of strife. Bass needs to stay aggressive even if his jumper is not falling. He must also help out on the defensive glass and limit second chance opportunities for the Heat. 
VERDICT: It's a tough one because you know what Anthony brings to the table every night. Bass on the other hand is a little all over the place. However Bass is the form player so I will take him on in this one.

Coach: Erik Spoelstra v Doc Rivers
Spo needs this desperately! If he doesn't win this year it's curtains. That is a lot of pressure on a young coach. He is going to have to find time for the big two to rest. He will also need to find the motivation for his role players and to get them going from the beginning of the series. On the other hand you have one of the better coaches going around. Rivers knows all the tricks of the trade and will have a brilliant game plan on how to destroy the two-headed monster in Wade and James.
VERDICT: Rivers in a beat-down.

This series is going to be incredibly scrappy. The players are going to have to fight for every possession like it is their last one. Baskets will be hard to come by and this series definitely won't be as fluent as the Western Conference one. It is how the coaches get their team ready for the grind. The team who is patient enough for the full 48 minutes could be the team who comes out with the series win and takes their talents to the NBA Finals. 

This all being said I think Miami goes through but only just. I think Boston gives themselves a really big sight. They match-up really well and it will come down to one or two plays in which will decide the outcome of the series. I think Boston playing a seven game series against Philly could hurt them big time. I can't count them out though. 

I'm looking forward to watching the difference in style to how the Western Conference is being played out. Miami in 6 for me. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


The Western Conference finals have been decided after the Oklahoma City Thunder finished off the Los Angeles Lakers in 5 games. They will meet the red hot San Antonio Spurs who haven't lost a match in over a month. This should be a great series. Two teams who love to run and gun and have weapons who on any given night could steal a game from their opposition. There are some great match-ups on show and I can't wait for it to begin. I think I recall ESPN Australia are going to be showing all Eastern and Western Conference final games live. This is great for basketball fans in our country. Hopefully it leads to one day bringing over NBA TV so we can stop flogging our internet usage meter.

I'm going to go through the match-ups and who I think comes out on top in each. I'd love to hear what you all think.

Point Guard: Tony Parker v Russell Westbrook
I believe Tony is going to win this match-up quite comfortably. I can't wait too see how Rusty goes when he matches up against a guard who can play. In the first two series he has had an old Jason Kidd and then Ramon Sessions (I can't believe I even referred to Sessions in my blog). The big question mark I have is if Westbrook will have learned from previous years when he has struggled. I don't think he will. The reason I say this because he has been given a massive confidence boost playing against the muppets in the first two series. If he had tough opponents in the first two series it may have gotten him ready for the big show. Tony Parker on the other hand is a seasoned veteran when it comes to the Western Conference finals. In addition to that he has had to battle with Chris Paul (even though injured he is miles ahead of Kidd and Sessions) over the 4 games. It will have gotten him ready for this contest much more than Rusty.
VERDICT : Tony Parker goes about his business much better and wins this match-up.

Shooting Guard: Daniel Green v Thabo Sefolosha
How good is Danny Green going this season? He is going to have a much tougher time this series with the much longer Thabo. His speed could trouble Sefolosha which could mean James Harden sees more minutes than usual. If Green can average double digits in this series it will help the team dramatically. Thabo has been struggling with his shot over the last two series and will need to hit his corner three ball to help the big three with the scoring. He is going to need to regain the trust of KD and Rusty, otherwise Spurs will leave him alone and have a bigger focus on the big three.
VERDICT: Green has been a star this season and I can't see this changing. Thabo's inability to keep up with Green may be good for the Thunder as Harden will see much more time. Green takes this one for me.

Small Forward: Kawhi Leonard v Kevin Durant
We all know what KD is capable of. He is one of, if not the most, lethal scorers in the NBA at the moment. He will have his hands full though with Leonard. This kid is going to be a superstar. In his rookie year for the Spurs he has been a shining light. His hustle and determination alone is unseen in most NBA franchises. Even though he is only averaging 24 minutes, it's what he brings in those 24 minutes that is so impressive. I don't think you could play that hard for 48 minutes. He is going to have to stay out of foul trouble while trying to make KD's life tough. I think he can make Durant play defence a hell of a lot more that Metta World Peace did. That could play a part in Durant's ability to last the 48. Could Leonard be the X-Factor that gets the Spurs through?
VERDICT: You can't go past KD in this one. The bloke is just too good. Leonard has to make Durant fight for every point on both ends of the floor.

Power Forward: Boris Diaw v Serge Ibaka
I'm really looking forward to this one. Both of these guys can hit their jump shots when left open which could be a lot in this series. On the offensive side I have to give it to Diaw. I think he can bring Ibaka out of the paint which will let Parker do his thing. If Ibaka comes out to guard Diaw he has the drive to get by Serge. His width could also be troubling. This could force  Kendrick Perkins to guard Diaw. On the other end of the floor however Ibaka shines. His ability to block shots could be worrying for the Spurs. Parker gets alot of his points close to the basket, Diaw is going to have to hit his shots to force Serge outside the painted area.
VERDICT: If I had a gun to my head I'd pick Ibaka as he could potentially stop Parker from getting his easy baskets. However, if Diaw is hitting his shots Ibaka could become a non factor.

Centre: Tim Duncan v Kendrick Perkins
Duncan has found a new lease of life this season. It maybe because he has so many talented youngsters surrounding him, who knows but whatever it is it's working. I can Perkins trying to muscle Duncan around like he has done with Bynum. I think Duncan has too many veteran tricks when it comes to not allowing himself to be fronted. When Duncan gets the ball either in the post or in his favourite spot just off it, I don't see Perks being able to stop his bank shot or his slick post moves. It was easy for him with Bynum as he could just body him up or front him. He will be dead tired after a few minutes and Nick Collison could be called upon alot more. On the other end Duncan won't have to do too much work guarding Perks. If Perkins can find a way to slow down the rejuvenated game of Timmy D it could be the key to the Thunder going through to the NBA finals.
VERDICT: Duncan wins this and gives Scotty Brooks nightmares with who to put on him.

Sixth Man: Manu Ginobili v James Harden
Two of the best players in the league to come off the bench and change the game for their respective teams. They're both left handed which causes trouble for opposition defences but will now go toe to toe. It's never going to let the series have a dull moment. These guys are massive in letting the key players have a breather. They are the rock in the second unit. If they aren't playing well it could see the game slip into the opponents hands. These two rarely let that happen. I personally think Manu is on another level, I think Harden will reach this level in a couple of years. The Spurs have many guys they can throw on Harden to upset his game. It's how he reacts to this will be a big factor in them winning or losing.
VERDICT: I believe Manu's smarts and ability to hit big time shots and make big time plays are what gets him this match-up.

This is an easy one for me. The Spurs have had the deepest bench in the league all season long. They all have playoff experience and have played plenty of minutes throughout the playoffs. I can't say the same about the Thunder. Nick Collison and Derek Fischer are all they really have. I'd much prefer a 10 man deep bench then an 8. Foul trouble could kill the thunder in this series.
VERDICT: Spurs, not even close for me.

COACH: Gregg Popovich v Scott Brooks
The Master vs The Apprentice. Pop has shown he is more than capable of dealing with his star studded roster this season and in the playoffs. He will have no problem in this series. The big question I have with Scotty Brooks is his ability to take control of Rusty. Will he be able to pull him aside when the going gets tough and tell him to get the ball to Durant and Harden? I don't think so.

There are plenty of great match-ups but I think the Spurs take this one in Six. The Spurs play their guys for not as many minutes as the Thunder do and that will be the telling tale as the series gets deeper.

I can't wait for the series to begin. I believe the winner of this takes the Championship out, unless they take each other out and have no players left for the finals!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Two big announcements came about today for the Australian Boomers. Firstly the two pools for the Olympics games were drawn. Secondly the Boomers squad for the 2012 Olympics was published.

I am and sure others have to be stoked with the teams the Boomers have drawn in London. It couldn't be any better. This gives us a great chance to get second in our pool and get that weaker crossover game that we haven't been able to obtain in the past. It is highly unlikely we will take the Spaniards down but we can easily account for the likes of Great Britain and China. We will have an almighty battle with the Brazilians especially if they field the likes of Leandro Barbosa and Tiago Splitter. The big key is which qualifier we get in the group. I think it could potentially be Greece. We get the weakest Qualifier out of the three that make it. That's what it looks like anyway. I can't see the Greeks beating Lithuania and Russia. There is no reason we can't beat this Greek team. It's a much weaker team than in the past and we need to take some revenge out from the last time they beat us at the World Championships in 2006. I don't think Australian basketball fans will ever forget that game. 

FIBA have given us some hope and we need to take care of business over in London. This is Australia's chance to make the semi finals and give us some hope for a medal. It will be broadcast to millions of homes around the world. It potentially will be against the USA on Friday the 10th of August. Bookmark it folks, it could be what kick starts basketball in Australia once again. In no way am I saying we will beat the DreamTeam. I think this is when the Australian population becomes fully aware of how good our sport is and how much talent we have in such a small country.

I posted not so long ago the squad I would have going over to London to compete in the games. I will say once the camps are over and they are ready to announce the team it won't be too far off. The NBL website posted the squad today. There is some serious talent to pick from which is exactly what we need. Most of the squad has had experience or are experiencing basketball in Europe. After watching how the Boomers play defence you can see some serious similarities to the European game. The DreamTeam don't like rough physical play at all. This is why the Spaniards are starting to catch up to them. I believe if Rubio didn't injure himself during the NBA season they could have beaten the USA. There are also some young guys out of college who have cracked the squad which is always good to see. It will be good for their experience and will continue to make them better. It is also great to see nine  players in the squad are currently playing in the NBL, some of them will definitely make the team. This is great for our league as it continues to grow into one of the best in the world.

I wish Andrew Bogut was playing in this team. There is no doubt we would have had a solid performance in the quarter finals and a big chance for a medal. We will have to do without the big fella in London. I'm sure he will be there with the boys cheering them on. He will bring valuable knowledge and experience to the sidelines. 

Here's to hoping there are no slip ups on the way to the games and that the final squad that gets picked does us proud.

Bring on August 10th!