Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Anticlimactic Finish to Anticipation

For months since "The Decision" by Lebron James, many NBA fans have anticipated the opening game of the season. Early into the game, it was evident that the Miami Heat needed a much help with their chemistry as a 5th grade science class. Much of the unfamiliarity could be attributed to the fact that Dwayne Wade missed the entire preseason, or the build up wore on them, or they are still feeling out the roles.

Despite the obvious lack of chemistry, Chris Bosh looked lost and uninspired by the moment. The lack of quality size inside, and lack of depth concerns me in the long run. Regular season accolades are not what the Heat had in mind when the trio of Bosh, James, and Wade were formed. If they are forced to play heavy minutes in the regular season, the chances of injury and fatigue may be a factor.

There are some that may be in overreact mode, and act like season is in jeopardy. I am of the mindset that this game was just that, ONE game. Barring some some catastrophic injury or team blow up, the Heat will not be relying on the win they missed out on tonight to get in the playoffs. I am interested to see if Pat Riley will find a way to address the depth that is so obviously lacking before the end of 2010...

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

How the West Was Lost...

We have all heard the phrase "nothing lasts forever." One thing that I thought would be constant, would be the western conference domination of the NBA regular season. For the last 8 years, the western conference has dominated the eastern conference without a doubt and has been the top-to-bottom best. No doubt it is still early in the 2008-09 NBA season, but some things that have held constant are no longer what they used to be.

The Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs have a combined 6 wins and 12 losses. And both are currently out of the top 8 in the playoff race. I concede that the Spurs are missing Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker, but I am not totally convinced with the rest of the their roster. Recent Spurs teams have consisted of veteran players that were poised to win championships. The current roster is composed of many fringe players that have struggled to make it on an NBA roster. After watching the Mavs, it is honestly just hopeless for them. They can only hope get in the draft lottery, and pick up a point guard that is not 35 years old with 45 year old knees.

The rest of the western conference is looking very weak as well compared to last season. To end last year, the top 9 teams in the west all had a minimum of 50 wins. In the early season, the Sacramento Kings hold the 8th spot with an under .500 % record of 4-6. There has also been as reshuffling of the teams in playoff contention. The Portland Trailblazers, and Sacramento Kings have replaced the Mavericks, and Spurs atop the best in the west. Like I have already said, there is a ton of season left , but the west just does not look like the dominate conference it once was...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I Heart the Utah Jazz

When John Stockton and Karl Malone were with the Utah Jazz, I honestly could not stand to watch them play, similar to how I feel about the San Antonio Spurs right now. It was typical pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop, not too different than the sets they run now. Don't get me wrong, it was beautiful basketball in the most fundamental of ways, but something was always missing for me, or maybe it was just a loathing of Karl Malone that bothered me. Like I already mentioned, the plays have not changed that much since Stockton and Malone failed to win championships in the 1990's, the thing that has changed has been the athleticism.

The duo of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer is one of the best in the entire NBA. Williams embodies what coaches want in a NBA point guard. He passes well, he runs the offense efficiently, and he can score the ball. Even with all he brings on the offensive side of the ball, he is not a slacker on defense. Teamed with Carlos Boozer at power forward, they have the same on-court connection as Stockton/Malone but with more athleticism, more dynamic plays, and they bring a certain swagger to the game. Although undersized for a power forward at 6'8", Boozer makes up for it in girth as he weighs in at a hulking 266 lbs. The future is bright as long as these two are in the mix for the Utah Jazz.

In addittion to the two stars, Utah has some of the best sets of role players to complement what they do. On any team, you want to have clearly defined roles and the Jazz have that and each player accepts their specialized role on the team. Mehmet Okur is a knock down shooter, and teams that with the ability to take leaner players to the post. Andrei Kirilenko is the defensive stopper, and the hustle player for Utah, and he also a reliable scorer. I love the freakish athleticism of Ronnie Brewer, as you don't find many people with the springs for legs that he has. Paul Milsap in the Jazz's designated rebounder, as he always down low mixing it up for every loose ball. Kyle Korver is another dead eye shooter for the Jazz, but his defense and athleticism are underrated. The rest of the Jazz players like Ronnie Price, CJ Miles, Matt Harpring, Morris Almond, and Brevin Knight provide solid veteren play coming off of the bench.

But to be honest, one of the best things about the Utah Jazz is their cornerstone, and solid block to which the rest of the team is built around is coach Jerry Sloan. He is the longest tenured coach in professional sports at 20 years with the Jazz. His gritty, take no excuses attitude has lasted 2 decades in a era of sports where the attitude is what have you done for me lately. He is one of the coaches I respect because very little "family" stuff involving the team leaves the locker room, and he does not hesitate to discipline a player, whether you are the highest paid star, or the last man on the practice squad. He has adapted with the times, and that is a testament to his foresight, and ability to change as the league has changed. Despite never winning a championship, or even a coach of the year award, many coaches and organizations envy what he has done in Utah throughout his coaching career.

As the Utah Jazz continue to grow, and if they add a couple of the correct pieces to the team, it is highly likely that they could compete for a NBA Championship in the next 3 years. Many teams fall into that same category, but I believe Utah is one of the best run organizations in pro sports from the owner down to the ball boys/girls and will find a way to get it done and make those moves. If they don't win a championship I will still enjoy watching them play, because they play the game of basketball in its purest form.