Six Games Of Stinking

 

I’m a big fan of all sorts of games like casino games that can be played at 666casino and sports, and I really like the thrill of playing these games and watching all kinds of sports. Just a few days ago I thought there was going to be some exciting action in the NBA. Saturday had two game 7s to finalize the first round, while the next two days would be filled with the initial offerings of the second round. It was reasonable to consider given those matchups, there would be at least a few exciting games out of those six.

Boy was I mistaken.

The Pacer-Celtics game was 35-32 at the half, which should have triggered some flashbacks of my freshman English teacher instructing me on the definition of foreshadowing. While the game required an offenisve shot in the arm, it appears that only the Pacers were innoculated. They were up by 14 by the start of the fourth, where they outscored the New Englanders by 13 more. The Celtics failed to score more than 20 in any quarter, and the luck of the Irish were with them as they shot 39.7% eFG. The luck of the 1840s Irish, that is.

At least the first game was close at the half. The final deciding game of the first round was a 116-76 snoozer. The Mavs were up by 15 by mid game, and it got so out of control in the second half, that Jeff Van Gundy sat Tracy McGrady in the early 4th. Watching this game you might have forgotten that after the first two games, Houston was heading home up 2-0. Did the players forget their coach was slapped with a house-sized fine for over-zealously campaigning for a few extra whistles to benefit his team? Or maybe that was on their minds, instead of stopping the Mavs from putting the pretty orange ball in the hoop. Visit this weblink and play your favorite games of this season.

As for Sunday, despite the Heat turning over the ball 15 times, their best player fouling out (Shaq), and 48 points from Washington’s backcourt, the Wizards still lost by 19. The tale of the tape was the bench, as the Miami reserves outscored their Washington counterparts 46-5. In the second half of the doubleheader, Ray Allen’s injury in the second quarter meant doom for the Emerald City. The Sonics didn’t regroup until the third quarter, but by that time the Spurs already had a commanding 27 point advantage.

The song goes “whenever Monday comes you can find me cryin’ all of the time,” which accurately described my basketball life by Monday night. After opening a can of whuppass against the Celtics, the Pacers were on the back-end of the humiliation as they failed to outscore Detroit in any quarter. When Ben Wallace drops a blackjack on you, you know you’ve been Punk’d. Finally, the Nash-Nowitzki, high-powered, octane-fueled, nitro-charged Mavs-Suns game was highlighted by Avery Johnson’s one man Three’s Company tribute. In the third quarter, with the game already out of hand, the Lil’ General stepped on the court protesting a non-call against his team during play, and proceeded to fall on his ass in a way that would have made John Ritter proud. Johnson got up and went into an angry Mr Furley berating the ref, which earned him an early trip to the showers. In an ode to the 5th season of Threes Company, Johnson exited stage left ala Suzanne Somers.

Six games, three nights, six stinkers. Tomorrow night doesn’t seem to offer any solace. While I’m not a gambler, I doubt even Pete Rose is desperate enough to take Washington or Seattle for even money. The NBA could easily extend this streak to eight for eight. What Tuesday night viewers need is a little magic from the Wiz, and a healthy dose of a Ray Allen.

KnickerBlogger Has No Heart

The good news about leaving a comment on my blog is that I may write a whole column on it. The bad news is when I disagree with your premise. The other day I wrote this little tidbit after the Knicks lost to the Nets:

I usually scoff at the notion that the Knicks needed more players with heart (I believe talent trumps all), but this team has me nearly converted.

To which a Knick fan named “Ted” commented with:

Ya “talent trumps all” that’s why the Trail-Blazers won so many titles in the 90s and the Lakers beat the Pistons last year. Regardlessly (sic), talent is not what the Knicks lack; defense and heart are what’s missing. Give me a Riley or Van Gundy team that’s going to work there (sic) asses off and hold the opponent to 80 points over this…crap any day.

One definition of talent is “a person or group of people having such ability”. In my definition of talent, playing defense is certainly included. Tim Thomas is big and athletic, but is not an able defender (or rebounder). You can be talented in one area and unskilled in another. Is Ben Wallace talented? In regards to rebounding and interior defense, absolutely. In regards to dribbling or shooting, absolutely not.

Obviously the Knicks’ defense, which is ranked 27th, is something that both Ted & I agree needs improvement. However Ted also states that the team needs more heart. The human heart typically weighs about 300 grams, but I’m unable to find any web pages that list the size of NBA player’s hearts. While they do list the total height and weight of each player, no web page has it broken down into individual body parts. In theory getting more oxygen to the body’s cells could improve the Knicks athletically, but I’m not sure if such a procedure is feasible. I’m not a doctor, but left ventricular hypertrophy seems to be more of an affliction than a blessing.

Seriously though, I’m not big on building a team around intangibles like heart or leadership or veteran presence. Let’s look at the teams that Ted says lost because they were heartless.

Year
Exp Win%
Opp
oExp Win%
1990
70%
DET
70%
1991
76%
LAL
72%
1992
72%
CHI
80%
1999
69%
SAS
78%
2000
72%
LAL
78%

I chose the 5 best Blazer squads of the 90s, and the opposing team that bounced them out of the playoffs. The only one of these Portland teams that lost to an inferior club were the 1991 Blazers, but it’s not improbable that they would lose a 7 game series. The Lakers were a strong team in their own right and had the best player on the court in Magic Johnson (25.1 PER 4th overall). Of the four other Blazer teams that made the list, two faced the #1 defensive team that year (Pistons & Spurs) and the other two played against vastly superior teams (Bulls & Lakers).

If you ignore the evidence that shows the Blazers were the lesser team and attribute their losses to a lack of heart, then that wouldn’t explain why a few players from these teams won titles in other cities. Did Clyde Drexler suddenly gain “heart” when he played alongside Hakeem Olajuwon and won a championship in Houston, or was it that the Rockets were a more talented team? Did Scottie Pippen lose the “heart” he had while playing with Jordan in Chicago, or were the Blazers just not good enough to win in ’99 & ’00? The Detroit Pistons wouldn’t have dominated like they did last year without Rasheed Wallace, but was the big addition his “heart” or his ability?

Take the same logic and apply it to Ted’s other heartless team, last year’s Lakers. The difference between the 2004 Lakers and the threepeaters was not heart, or leadership, or desire, but rather a decline in play. Shaq from 2001-2003 averaged an astounding 30 PER. That’s so good, the average would be in the top 15 seasons of all time. However in 2004 it dropped to a mere 24, which wouldn’t crack the top 100. Add to O’Neal’s deteriorating production the Lakers’ inability to adequately replace an injured Karl Malone coupled with the Pistons’ off the chart defense, and the reason is clear why Los Angeles lost.

If given the choice between blaming these losses on something measurable like performance or something intangible like heart, I’ll take the former every time. There is just no proof that heart leads to winning nor is there any way to measure it, either on a team or an individual level. Hence why I say “talent trumps all.” If your team needs defense, get someone that can clamp down on his opponent, or can control the paint. If you need offense grab some sharp shooters or post scorers. Getting guys that can do both is even better. Build a team that can score and defend, and don’t worry about where their heart is.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Do you remember those kid books where they show a picture and ask you to find all the mistakes? Watching basketball this Sunday, I could do the same; find all the things that were wrong with the Knicks

* Watching the Spurs play defense
No wonder this is the best defensive team of all time. Duncan and Rasho man the middle, while the rest of the team swarms like an angry beehive. Few teams play defense with the intensity and energy of San Antonio. Although it was joyful to see a display of pride in stopping the opposition, my thoughts drifted to question why the Knicks don’t defend as well?

Certainly part of it is not having two 7 footers to intimidate their opponents. However even the smaller Knicks fail to hustle like the Spurs’ Ginobili or Bowen or Parker. Watch a Knick game, and look at the disparity of the energy level between the offensive and defensive end. Marbury is tireless with the ball in his hand, whether dashing to the hoop or operating the pick & roll. Crawford skillfully manipulates the ball until his opponent is off balanced. Tim Thomas can alternate between his jumper, posting it up, or driving to the hoop.

When he’s on the defensive end of the pick, Marbury doesn’t have the same desire to fight through to stay with his man. Crawford would rather watch his opponent’s crossover than actually defend it. While on offense Thomas can play from the outside or inside, on defense he’s unskilled in both areas. Seeing the Spurs play a few hours before the Knicks underscores that a large part of the problem is a lack of intensity by all of the Knicks. While getting a center who can guard the paint is a big Knick need, the team will not be successful in stopping their opponents until the smaller guys shed their apathetic ways.

* Watching Miami win
It was no secret that Miami is among the top teams in the NBA Least. Like post Cold War Europe, the balance of power in the NBA rests in the west. The Heat’s Sunday victory over the West’s best team, San Antonio, cements their status as serious players in the Larry O’Brien trophy race. Knick nemesis Alonzo Mourning was at the game, harking back to a time when the Heat was a fierce enemy of the Knicks. New Yorkers old enough to buy a beer can’t see ‘Zo without recalling the time he used Jeff Van Gundy as a swiffer. If the halftime show was P.J. Brown in a midget tossing contest, we could have had a complete time warp to the late 90s rivalry.

It’s frustrating seeing a former rival prosper when your own team is heading towards a fourth straight losing season. In Miami, Knick fans can see everything that is wrong with their team’s front office. While players accustom to warm weather or fear a megapolis lifestyle might actually prefer Florida over the North East, it’s hard to understand why New York hasn’t been successful in attracting the NBA’s elite. Forget about the cultural advantage the Big Apple has, for a basketball icon Madison Avenue is a lot greener than Gator Alley. In twenty years the Knicks haven’t used this advantage of a second salary to lure one of the NBA’s greats. Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell, and Larry Johnson were fine players, but I’m speaking about guys that can dominate. The motto of the New York Lottery is “you gotta be in it to win it.” With the Knicks mismanagement of their salary cap and talent, it’s obvious they’re not even in it.

* Knicks 102 Bobcats 99
Sadly, even watching the Knicks win can cause me pain as well. A month ago, a close victory would have been met with open arms. With New York 11 games under .500 and talking about rebuilding, it’s hard to get too excited over a victory. As a Jet fan I’m well aware that you play to win the game, but when winning is meaningless the method in which a team wins can be frustrating.

While I’m opposed to ludicrous thoughts like sitting Marbury in an effort to get a few more ping pong balls, I don’t think the Knicks best player should have more minutes (39) than their two best prospects combined (36). It’s understandable that Tim Thomas could take away minutes from Air Riza and his erratic jumper. What’s perplexing is Sweetney only playing 19 minutes, despite outscoring the starter in 14 less minutes. The “Round Mound of Sit Down” hit all 8 of his free throws, and led the Knicks in offensive rebounds (3). In the last month he’s averaged 9.0 points and 5.6 rebounds in only 20 minutes per game. Any more of this and I’ll have to show up to the Garden with a “FREE SWEETNEY” poster in tow.

If the Knicks decided to put in the effort to win games, and they finish just shy of the playoffs I’d take pride in the team not laying down for the second half of the season. But the Knicks are still the worst team in the NBA’s worst division, and not giving ample time for your young players seems counter productive at this point.

Christmas By Myself This Year

So deck those halls, trim those trees
Raise up cups of Christmas cheer,
I just need to catch my breath,
Christmas by myself this year.
–“Christmas Wrapping”
The Waitresses

So far the Christmas matchup between Shaq & Kobe has more stories than a good season of 24. Outside of all the drama, this is a game between two radically changed teams. After a tumultuous offseason, how do these two teams stack up against each other? SantaBlogger (a KnickerBlogger subsidiary) is giving a little stocking stuffer for good little hoopheads with a little hardwood egg nog.

Pace (Lakers 21st – Heat 19th)
California and Florida each has a team that plays an up-tempo game, but unfortunately they aren’t these two teams, so don’t expect a fast paced game. The only hurry on Christmas day will be the kids getting to the presents under the tree. The Heat, a Van Gundy? team, will wait for Shaq to lumber up the court and set himself up in the post before beginning their offense. While Jerry Buss’ dream of the purple & gold fast breakers of the ’80s returning will remain just that, a dream. That the Lakers are currently wedged between notorious plodders Utah and Indy speaks volumes on the speed of their offense.

Lakers Offense (9th, 103 pPTS) vs Heat Defense (6th, 99.1)
eFG (8th 48.6) vs (6th 45.3)
TO (26th, 17.2) vs (27th 14.3)
OREB% (26th, 27.6) vs (3rd, 26.6)
FT/FG (1st, 30.4) vs (6th 28.7)

The Lakers are a good shooting team. That’s surprised me with the combination of Kobe’s eFG% dropping faster than Santa down the chimney, while his usage is just a tad lower than the elfish (selfish?) Iverson. However, Kobe’s ability (and desire) to shoot may be taking the load off of his teammates, leaving them with higher percentage shots. Odom (52.5%), Butler (48.6%), Atkins (55.4%), Mihm (52.9%), and Jones (55.9%) are all sporting the best shooting percentage of their career, and 6 Lakers sport eFGs of over 50%. Good shooting isn’t their only offensive skill, as the Lakers combine it with the ability to get to the line. The credit almost singlehandedly goes to Kobe Bryant who leads the league with 9 free points per game. He accounts for 43% of the Lakers’ free throws, when no other teammate accounts for more than 15%, so the onus is on him to carry the Lakers in this respect.

It’s ironic that the two Laker strengths on offense, are two of the Heat’s strengths on defense. It’ll be interesting to see which side gives. The two major keys of the game will be Los Angeles’ ability to shoot well as a team, and for Kobe to get a little bit of home cooking (ie. extra free throws) on Christmas.

Miami’s Offense (5th, 104.8) vs Lakers Defense (25th, 103.1)
eFG (2nd, 51.5) vs (8th, 45.9)
TO (4th, 14.6) vs (29th, 13.6)
OREB (24th, 27.0) vs (17th, 29.2)
FT/FG (7th, 27.7) vs (25th, 22.7)

How’s this for a Dickens twist: the Los Angeles Lakers may have to use the hack-a-Shaq against Shaquille O’Neal. Miami’s is so efficient because the offense still runs through the Big Diesel (61% eFG), and the Lakers are ill suited to stop him. With Vlade “the Gingerbread Man” Divac still on the DL, Los Angeles will only have one 7 footer to throw out there against Shaq: Mihm. Between Cook, Grant, and gulp Medvedenko, the Lakers have enough hax0rs to make Shaq practice a few more free throws. At 45% he’s regressed heavily from his career best of 62% just three years ago, and makes the strategy more appealing.

Dwayne Wade has become Shaq’s third ward, and has flourished in the role. His PER of 25.7 ranks him among the league’s top 10. He’s 9th in scoring, 5th in free throws, 5th in assists, and 12th in steals. It’ll be interesting if Wade’s offense will suffer chasing around the league’s #2 scorer on the other end of the court. To make matters worse, Kobe is no slouch on the defensive end with 5 All-Defensive Team honors and 82games.com verifies his tenacity (SG 12.0 oPER).

The Lakers best option may be to try the Jeff Vandy Gundy?-Jordan defense. Don’t try to waste energy stopping the unstoppable. Let Shaq get his points, but by doing so get the rest of his team out of their rhythm early on. Concentrate on shutting down the three guards in Ward Wade, Damon Jones, and Eddie “Murphy” Jones in the first three quarters, so that they’re not mentally prepared in the fourth.

Whatever approach L.A. uses, it’s Kobe that will be under the pressure, and I’m not even considering the off the court circus. On offense Kobe is the Lakers main focal point, whereas Shaq has Wade who is producing at a near equal rate. On defense, with his team unlikely to stop Shaq, it’ll be up to Bryant to shut down their other main weapon Dwayne Wade. All Kobe on offense. All Kobe on defense. I guess it’s Christmas by himself this year.

Knicks 93 Houston 92

How did the Knicks win last night? The easy answer was a heave-ho off the glass from what seemed like 40 feet. What Jamal Crawford described after the game as the biggest shot of his career, gave the Knicks their first road win of the 2005 season. New York didn’t look good early on. A 7 point Houston lead at the half grew to 11 points by the start the 4th quarter. However the Knicks came storming back with a 3-point barrage. Actually Penny Hardaway and Jamal Crawford combined for all 7 of New York’s treys. All of Penny’s came in the 4th quarter, and Crawford’s last trey gave the Knicks a 1 point edge as time expired.

The four factors tell an interesting story of the game that was highly entertaining to watch (for a Knicks fan anyway). Again New York failed to keep their opponent at a bay with regards to shooting percentage. The Rockets eFG% of 48.8% meant that the Knicks still haven’t forced a competitor under the league average (47.1%). On the positive side, it was their second best effort since they held the Clippers to 48.6% in their 110-96 victory at the Garden. The Rockets came into the game as the third best team in the league at defensive shooting percentage (43.6%), and Houston kept the Knicks to 44.3%. This meant the Rockets had the shooting percentage advantage in this game, and so far this year, New York has lost every single game when their opponents held this edge.

Two of the factors were very close, although slightly in the Knicks’ favor. Turnovers were kept remarkably low, as both teams combined for only 15, which is usually what the Knicks average on their own. New York also had a small advantage at the free throw line as well. The Knicks hit 16 free throws to the Rockets 12, a 4 point advantage.

What kept the Knicks in the game out was their superior rebounding. They snared 14 offensive boards, while keeping the Rockets to only 8. In fact, Nazr Mohammed pulled in 8 New York misses on his own. Kurt Thomas had a great game scoring 23 points, but he also had 14 total rebounds, 11 on the defensive end.

Beyond the four factors, there’s a lot to report on this game. You would have thought Van Gundy coached the Knicks, as four of their starters played 40 minutes or more. By the second half it was pretty much a 7 man playoff-style rotation. Anyone else think Lenny is feeling pressure to win games? Shockingly Nazr Mohammed was credited with 45 minutes. He’s usually on the bench because he hacks more than a 2600 conference. Nazr not only kept himself to 3 fouls, but he played Yao fantastically on defense. One of Mohammed’s fouls came on a block of Ming, that from the replay looked clean to me.

Tim Thomas only played 12 minutes, and you have to wonder how much longer he’ll be the starting SF. No I really mean it this time. His confidence is non-existent at this point. Even though he looked for his shot early, he couldn’t get his offense going and ended up with 2 points on 5 attempts. Ariza and Hardaway played the rest of the game at SF, and combined for 17 points in 44 minutes. I mentioned earlier that Penny scored primarily from beyond the arc. Ariza was just as effective without the long range shot. He had a traditional three pointer, and had 5 free throw attempts in just 20 minutes. This is one aspect of his game I really love, getting to the foul line. Although he does give it back, and had 3 fouls of his own. When he matures if he can reduce the number of fouls he commits, getting to the line will give his team a serious advantage.

Defense is still an issue, and Marbury seemed to put in a better effort tonight (as did most of the team, especially the Knicks’ big men). Charlie Ward put up a big goose egg for the Rockets, but on the other hand their diminutive PG Tyronn Lue scored 15. Most of the damage was done by the Rockets’ unstoppables McGrady and Yao. This is a defensive effort I could better stomach, as they gave the appearance of actually trying.

Kurt’s big game (23pts, 55% eFG, 14 REB) meant little time for Michael Sweetney. The big man from Georgetown did play some D against Yao Ming, but had little effect in his 10 minutes. The rumors about Sweetney being available as trade bait for other teams scare me, especially when his playing time dwindles like this. Two games ago he played 32 minutes, but he just doesn’t get large amounts of minutes on a regular basis. The situation is out of Sweetney’s control, as the Knicks will play Kurt and Nazr as long as they are effective. How bad is it when I’m dreaming of a Nellie-esque lineup that sends Tim Thomas to the bench, so the Knicks can start all 3 of their big men? This wouldn’t be the first time the Knicks put a PF in at SF, and at least in this incarnation the Knicks can drop back into a legal zone.

In the near future I would imagine Tim Thomas will be sent to the bench, and the Knicks try out figure what combination of Trevor Ariza, Penny Hardaway and the forgotten man Jerome Williams works at SF. I’m sure at first Wilkens might try to use Thomas a 6th man, to help him regain his composure, but right now I can’t predict anything positive for Tim. Isiah said that Sweetney would not be traded, and given the choice to believe an NBA trade rumor or the Knicks GM, I’ll stick with Zeke on this one. Sweetney will get whatever minutes trickle down from Thomas & Nazr. Some nights he’ll give us flashes of what’s to come, others he’ll be the fogotten man like last night.

For the time being the Knicks will live with their jump shooters. When Crawford and Marbury and Penny and Kurt are hitting iron, the Knicks offense will self-destruct like it did against the Spurs. However when those same shots are finding net, the Knicks will find themselves with happier endings like last night’s win against Houston.

2005 NBA Preseason Starts

The NBA preseason started this past weekend, and excuse me if I don’t get excited. I’m a bit curious maybe even intrigued, but certainly nowhere near excited, overjoyed, or thrilled. Preseason for any sport is like playing the demo of a video game. It’s great for a few moments, but the novelty quickly wears off. In preseason, if the Knicks go undefeated or if they don’t win a single preseason game my attention might be piqued. But anywhere in the middle, and I don’t think it matters what their record is.

Preseason games just don’t matter. When the score doesn’t count, coaches do strange things like play all of their players. Sarcasm aside, I can’t get interested in a game where Dikembe Mutombo is out there for 22 minutes against a Shaq-infused Heat while a healthy Yao Ming sits on the bench. That’s not the Jeff Van Gundy I’m used to seeing, the ex-Knick coach who wouldn’t give minutes to Camby or Sprewell when they first arrived.

There are only two reasons why I’d have any interest in the NBA preseason. First is injuries. Obviously, preseason injuries can carry over to the season, but that’s not what I’m concerned with. More important is how players have recovered from last year’s injuries. If it seems it’s been more than a year since I watched a healthy Allan Houston, it’s because it has been that long. As a Knick fan, I’m interested if H20 has that lift off when he shoots his jumper, and whether he can move laterally on defense. If Houston looks like the limited player we saw last year, then it might be time to invest in a Jamal Crawford jersey.

The second reason I’d pay attention to the preseason is to watch the young guys. I’m not saying that preseason success or failure is the ultimate test of a player’s worth. However it can’t hurt if a player has a good preseason (or a great summer league), and it isn’t a great sign if a player struggles that should be having some modicum of success against second tier players. In the plus column, a good preseason for a young player might earn him the coach’s favor & some extra minutes when the games are for real.

Other than a glancing interest, I’m not going expend time on the NBA preseason when I have what is looking like a great Fall for New York sports. The Jets & Giants are a combined 8-1. Meanwhile the Yankees and Red Sox face off in what could be the biggest professional sports rivalry of the new era. The Celtics/Lakers are a decade old. The Bulls/Knicks are happily trading players. The Cowboys, Pigskins, Packers, Raiders, and Niners are all mediocre. The Dodgers and Yankees no longer segregate a city. The odds that the Cubs and White Sox make the playoffs in the same year is minimal.

The Mets were awful (again) this year, but Met fans can rally around the Red Sox in their battle against the “Evil Empire”*. It feels like there has been a sympathetic shoulder extended from Queens to Boston since 1986. Met fans would have been happy beating any AL team to win a World Series: Detroit, California, or Toronto would have been as good as any non New York team. It just happened that their second miracle run coincided with Boston’s then 68 years of psychological torture (now at 85 years). Like accidentally running over your neighbor’s dog, the Mets inherited part of the guilt that is passed along in Boston from generation to generation.

Want to spot the Met fans during playoff time? Go to any NY bar during one of the AL Series games, and keep track of the patrons. Cross anyone off your list that cheers when the Yankees or Red Sox score. Anyone left will have a secret smile when the Sox are doing well. Met fans in New York don’t dare cheer openly against the Yankees in October, for fear of reprisal.

* POST NOTES: If anything should bear the adjective “evil”, it should be Ben Affleck’s 2003 movies: Paycheck, Daredevil, and Gigli. Who in the movie industry signed off on Elektra, the Daredevil spin off? It had to be Matt Murdock, because it couldn’t be anyone who actually saw Daredevil. While I’m on a movie kick, can someone tell George Lucas that when you redo old movies, you’re suppose to take out the bad scenes, not insert them!

Round 1: 2004 NBA Bloggers Bracket

Thanks to the stubborn Hornets, Round 1 is finally over. Here are the updated standings for the KnickerBlogger 2004 Bloggers Bracket:

Blog	IND	NJ	DET	MIA	MIN	LAL	SAS	SAC	PTS
Me 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8
Jon 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 7
Ron 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 7
Matt 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 7
Michael 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 7
Kevin 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 6
Scott 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 6
Tim 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 6

Alone in first place is yours truly. Being spineless has paid off for me so far, because I didn’t think there would be any upsets in the first round. Jon and Michael had Dallas bumping off Sacramento, while Ron showed his home team pride by sticking with the Hornets. Three contestants thought there would be 2 upsets, with the popular upsets being Memphis & Dallas.

Interesting enough, the bottom 5 guys not only have the Lakers (down 0-1) upsetting the Spurs in this round, but they have the boys in yellow & purple taking the trophy back home to L.A. If the Lakers lose, there will be a big divide between those two groups. Nobody has the Pistons (1-0) nor the T-wolves (0-1) getting upset this round. However I will be affected if Minnesota’s playoff hopes end against the Kings, since I have them making the Finals.


This morning while groggily watching ESPN, I heard the Miami coach Stan Van Gundy at a press conference say something to the effect of it being ludicrous that the Heat had any kind of advantage being at home. (I was a bit too tired to remember the quote in it’s entirety). This is just baffling to me, because Stan watched every second of a series where the home team won every game. Not only that, but the Heat have been a 71% team at home this year, better than the NBA average (about 60%-65%). They are riding a 16 game home win streak, and he doesn’t think his team has any advantage at home?

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he’s doing it as a psych job for his players (“don’t get lazy at home!”), and not because he really believes it.