Sunday, June 28, 2009
Let me start by giving you the setting of my day so far. I had to get up to work today at 10-5ish, on the day the US men's soccer team is playing the biggest game of their rough history. So I knew I had to see this game, some how, some way.
So then I called my uncle to tell him to DVR the game for me and make sure that he does not, under any circumstances, tell me anything about the game. Then I told every possible person who would text me with an, "OMFG" or a "WOW dude hope your watching," that I didn't even want to talk to them because the tone in their voice and their expression would indicate to me how the match went or was going. As you can see I was on edge, just a little.
And at around 5:45 PM...this is what transpired...
5:45 PM EST - Fresh off the Ice Cream Truck!! We're coming to you from a DVR'd copy of the Confederation Cup Final, Brazil vs the United States. If you can't get up for this then you should really go buy Fifa World Cup 06' for XBOX 360. Then come and talk to me.
5:50 PM EST - Every single graphic known to man about the United States Soccer History has popped up so far. Thanks ESPN, as if we didn't already know that we've sucked for quite some time.
5:58 PM EST - After the pre-game photos, and 70,000 other events that have to take place before they can actually PLAY the game, we're under way. I'm giddy.
6:05 PM EST - We're already 8 minutes into the game and Brazil's been on our side of the field 99.99% of the time. Kinda one-sided isn't it?
6:07 PM EST - I swear, every single American Soccer Analyst is so irritated that we've sucked at soccer for years. They think that we, as fans, aren't angry as well. While we're at it, let me run down my favorite US soccer players. Donovan = just love how he's developed as a leader. Onyewu = plays so fundamental and smart at all times. And Clint Dempsey = fell in love with him after the 06 World Cup game when he nutmeg'd the Italian defender and scored. He just plays with such a swagger, and he isn't afraid of the big lights.
6:09 PM EST - GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL....DEMPSEY in the back of the net!!! Oh what a ball from Spector. Just as I was hyping up my man-love for Clint Dempsey, he comes through. Ohh it's now official, Brazil. IT'S ON!!
US needed that first goal to believe they can actually win this game. Wow what a goal.
6:11 PM EST - Just cut to Kaka giving the classic Eli Manning face after an interception. Truly classic.
6:12 PM EST - Wow, Brazil comes right back and almost scores. They are so much more talented than us, it's unreal.
6:15 PM EST - US Almost scored again. Oh lord I'm going nuts. Can I just say how much I love the new and improved, younger USA team. So much fun to watch.
6:16 - The three unsung heroes of this Confederation Cup for the US - Donovan, Spector, Onyewu. Hands down.
6:18 PM EST - Over/Under for the amount of times the announcer says, "This is the 1st time the US has been in a FIFA final," is set at 6.5. We're already at 3, at the 20 minute mark. Where's my bookie?
6:20 PM EST - Just reported that the US has sold the most tickets for the next World Cup than any other country. Gee, I hope we qualify. We are in a recession, you know.
6:25 PM EST - Some really great ball movement by Kaka. He really is a wizard with the ball at his feet. It's not fair. I think that the rest of the world is born with ridiculous soccer skills, and we just have to work really really hard to get half of that ability.
6:26 PM EST - BANG! 2-0! DONOVAN back of the net off a great run by both he and Charlie Davies. Oh what a goal. I'm pretty sure I just broke something in this room, there was an assortment of banging sounds that happened. It's STILL ON Brazil!!! WHAT?!
6:28 PM EST - I think it's safe to say the Brazilian coach is freaking out right now. The US just almost scored AGAIN. Wow how great would 3-0 look right now. Since that 8th minute mark the US has completely dominated. Are we sure we didn't change uniforms with the Brazilians for this half?
6:33 PM EST - What a great save from Howard - the best US goaltender of all time - sorry Kasey.
6:39 PM EST - Charlie Davies could be the fastest human alive - move over Usain Bolt. By the way, I absolutely love Bob Bradley's "bend-but-don't-break" style defense. It's very Indianapolis Colts, circa 2007.
6:44 PM EST - How does B-squared (Bob Bradley's new nickname) feel about his son not playing in the biggest US game of all time because he was an idiot and got a late red card. I'd go with, disappointed. Yea disappointed sounds about right.
6:45 PM EST - What a first half - US just looks like a team of destiny. No one has ruined the final for me yet with a text message. Thank God. Time for some eats...Gotta love DVR.
6:53 PM EST - And we're back, and Brazil comes right out and cuts the lead in half. 2-1 US. In the words of our captain obvious announcer, "That Changes Everything!"
6:59 PM EST - US is making me nervous. I just ate a bag of Tostitos in 6 minutes. Just called Guinness, it's a world record.
7:04 - I've never seen a goalie have to make as many big saves as Tim Howard. He's got more saves this game alone then Britney Spears has of her image.
7:06 PM EST - Brazil hits one under the crossbar that was definitely a goal. Oh well. Sucks doesn't it Brazil? 2-1 US. Hey good news is, it looks like horrible officiating extends beyond the NBA playoffs. Ooops.
7:11 PM EST - US just doesn't look like they want to score again. I'm telling you right now, one more goal and we win. We just have to get it first.
7:17 PM EST - Two great attempts from Donovan and Dempsey. Ahhh we need one of those. Veteran leadership is showing itself when it has been absent in the past. Great sign.
7:18 PM EST - Howard with the save of the tournament. Phew - If US wins someone may need to take Howard out for a steak dinner. He's doing his best Mariano Rivera impersonation.
7:21 PM EST - Effing A. Brazil scores another one off the cross bar and in. 2-2. Now I'm in full on, "Freak Out" mode. Come On USA! I'm more nervous now then I was on my first date to the movies in 7th grade. Yea...I just said that.
7:25 PM EST - If this game goes to Overtime...We're going to need a crash cart. Just sayin'.
7:27 PM EST - 80 Minute Mark...don't know what is going on right now. I'm blacking out. I need a cut man in my corner.
7:31 PM EST - Brazil scores on a corner. Jeeeeezus defense come on. Most overlooked stat of this Championship is the amount of corners the US opponents have had compared to theirs. I bet you it's in the ball park of a 5-1 ratio.
7:35 PM EST - COMON US!! Let's just get one!!
7:40 PM EST - Can not believe the US lost that game. 3-2 Brazil wins the cup. It was there for the taking. The casual American fan could have finally rejoiced. It would have been epic. The streets of the country would have been flooded with soccer balls and American flags. ESPN would make soccer one of the first highlights every night. Shoot, even my grandpa could have been excited. It was all there for the taking. But we let it slip.
Hopefully we can build on this. And if you want an actual analysis on the game make sure you check out my boy Phil Shore's blog. http://shorethingsports.blogspot.com
I'll stick to the comedy. Enjoy. R.I.P. Michael Jackson - greatest ever, bar none.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Welcome to the new and improved, most unpopular, exciting, and entertaining blog on the Internet. Gone are the days of Chit-Chat Sports, even though I still love the name. Welcome to my newest self-proclaimed nickname...The Sports Enthusiast. Since The Sports Guy, Bill Simmons is already taken, I'll go with Enthusiast. Anyway, on to some real business. It's been a brutal two week stretch for sports, hence the lack of articles. But since the NBA draft is two days away, I'll give you my Lottery Mock draft for this year. By the way these picks are who I THINK the teams will take. Not who they should take. Alright let's get started.
Disclaimer: I have a man-crush on Ricky Rubio and Stephen Curry. Just wanted to give you guys a heads up.
1. LA Clippers - Blake Griffin F/Oklahoma - Its almost way too obvious. To the point where the Clippers have already said that they are taking Blake Griffin. However, (I'll be in the minority here) I am not sold on Blake Griffin's immediate impact in this league. This is not the Big 12. Every night Griffin is going to play against guys who will be physical with him, and without a legitimate jump shot I do not see the immediate impact.
2. Memphis Grizzlies - Hasheem Thabeet C/UCONN - Wow what a mess Memphis is. It's really a shame because they could have a decent fan base. However if they take Thabeet, they'll have a Mayo, Gay, Thabeet core. Which is not terrible. I guess...
3. Oklahoma City - Ricky Rubio G/Spain - My favorite team for next year, already. I was so torn on this pick because everyone is saying that they are going to take James Harden but they have to be completely insane not to take Ricky Rubio. The other name I have for this team is Stephen Curry. Could you imagine a Rubio/Curry, Westbrook, Durant, Green, Krstic starting lineup? I'm calling shotty on them in NBA 2k10 right now.
4. Sacramento Kings - James Harden G/Az St. - Sacramento needs any sort of help. They were the worst team in the NBA and you can expect that again next year. At least Harden will provide some excitement on that team.
5. Washington Wizards - Jordan Hill F/Arizona - Washington almost has to take Jordan Hill out of necessity. Best big left on the board and the Wizards need some kind of presence inside.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves - Tyreke Evans G/Memphis - Another player who left to early. There seems to be a lot of these guys lately. Evans has the ability to be a decent scorer but I am just not sold on his readiness to help the T-Wolves now.
7. Golden State Warriors - Brandon Jennings G/Italy - God I loved this kid in the McDonald's All-American game two years ago. Then he decided he did not want to take Final Exams and then went to play in Italy. Now we see him back in the draft. If Jennings falls to Don Nelson at 7, I don't even think that David Stern will have to leave the podium. The pick will be in, in about 3 seconds.
8. New York Knicks - Stephen Curry G/Davidson - Favorite player in the draft. He has that IT factor that you can not measure. He's the best shooter of the past 15 years, Hands down. I said he would be a Knick last year and I feel like David Stern will make sure that the Knicks get Steph Curry somehow. Imagine, LeBron/Bosh in 2010 with Curry. I'm giddy.
9. Toronto Raptors - Demar DeRozan G/USC - The Raptors need guard help. Terribly. At this point any guard would work for the Raptors. However considering that they have a decent PG right now. They try their luck at DeRozan from USC.
10. Milwaukee Bucks - Jru Holiday G/UCLA - Milwaukee needs a PG to lead their team. Actually I shouldn't say team, because I don't even know what they are after trading their best player.
11. New Jersey Nets - Terrence Williams G/F Lousiville - Love Williams from Lousville. The Nets have a PG and Big so they need a swing man opposite of Vince Carter. Terrence Williams would learn under Vince Carter because I'm pretty sure Yi Janlian is not panning out.
12. Charlotte Bobcats - Gerald Henderson G/F Duke - Henderson broke out this year as a legitimate wing threat. Just what the Bobcats need. The Bobcats are going to make the playoffs next year. Mark it down.
13. Indiana Pacers - Jonny Flynn G/Syracuse - No-brainer for Indiana. If Flynn falls this far he's the easy pick. Flynn will end up being one of the best 6 guys taken in this draft. Mark that down too while your at it.
14. Phoenix Suns - Ty Lawson G/UNC - Very sketchy pick from a fan standpoint. But think about it. How many years does Nash have left to play? In Phoenix? 1 maybe 2? So you get Ty Lawson in to learn as much as he can about playing PG in the NBA from one of the best 5 PGs of all time.
Enjoy the weekend. I'm sure I'll be back when something crazy happens in the draft Thursday!
Thursday, June 18, 2009
As the Laker's gallantly hop, skip, and jump down Sunset Blvd all the way to Figueroa St to the Staples Center, I thought I'd take the time out to devour this past NBA season. I thought I'd come up with 10 things that we were going to remember about this season, whether they be good or bad. So as Kobe holds both trophy's up for the LA faithful, and Adam Morrison tries to take over the crown from Mark Madsen as the whitest-white guy in the NBA, I'll give you guys the 10 things that we should take from this past season.
1. Kobe Bryant finally wins the title without a man by the name of Shaquille O'Neal. Kobe finally gets the proverbial monkey off of his back, and wins his 4th title. Now 20 years from now when you look back on this championship run, the media is going to say that Kobe had "no one" to help him. But in reality he had more help then any of the Superstars he is being compared to; mainly Michael Jordan.
Michael had Scottie Pippen and role players. Jordan made Scottie better and vice-versa. But the role players that Michael had KNEW their roles and stuck to them. Never faltered, never wavered.
Kobe has the best, I repeat, THE BEST back-to-the-basket post player in the NBA, in Pau Gasol. Along with a freak of a basketball player 6'11" Lamar Odom who can play all 5 positions, a PG that just hits big shots constantly, as well as a budding star-role player (much like James Posey) in Trevor Ariza.
So we'll remember this year as the Kobe run in which he didn't "need" a lot of help.
2. Lebron James wins his 1st MVP but fails to get his team to the Finals, despite a top 15 all-time game winner. We will remember Lebron and the Cavs stumbling against the Orlando Magic, rather than remembering their stellar season in which they had the best record in the NBA. Lebron wins his 1st (of many) MVPs in 2009 but faces a extremely bad match up in the Magic. Lebron did all he could but he hasn't learned to completely trust his teammates yet. He averaged a 45-9-8 until the last game of the Magic series, but even that wasn't enough.
If I'm Lebron, I tell my publicist/manager/Nike Rep. to get me on the phone with Michael Jordan. I ask him to tell me how he learned how to trust his teammates during the 1991 playoffs and how he ultimately won that championship, because the NBA NEEDS Lebron to be great. And you're only truly great if you win.
3. The three closest players to Jordan all fought for the MVP this season. Lebron James wound up winning it with Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade fighting right behind. Everyone was ready to crown Dwyane after the 2006 championship but that soon faded as he ran into injuries. But now he's back and I can't wait to watch him next season.
Kobe won last year, but I think he'll take the backseat on this one for the championship.
4. A trade that made two teams make a complete 180. Of course I'm talking about the Allen Iverson-Chauncey Billups trade. Detroit was a powerhouse in the East, while Denver couldn't get out of the first round. As soon as this trade happened both teams did a 180.
Detroit became an average low-seed Eastern Conference team, while Denver rose to the 2 seed and fought all the way to a game 6 in the Western Conference Finals.
Let's see what Denver does next year to improve.
5. We may be seeing the next great Point Guard in NBA History. Sure we have Chris Paul and Deron Williams who will probably be in this discussion as well, but after Derrick Rose's performance in the playoffs against the reigning champion Boston Celtics we have no reason to put a ceiling on this dude's potential. Rose scored 38 in his first playoff game and did not miss a free throw.
I'm giddy that the league has so many good young point guards. After all they're the key to a team's success.
6. This is the year that the Tim Duncan-Era Spurs begin their decline. You can just see it in "Timmmayyyyy's!!" play. He is run down, and he just hit the 1000 game meter in the NBA which is never a good sign. Tony Parker was injured and Manu Ginobili is a free-agent in 2010 along with Lebron, Wade, Bosh, Dirk, Nash, Britney Spears, and Michael Jackson. (Seriously though, the 2010 FA list is out of this world.)
Say goodbye to the boring, basic, fundamental Spurs as they try to rebuild around TP.
7. Kevin Durant finally proves that he should have been the #1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft. Let me see would you rather have 154 games played at 23 PPG (26 this past season), or 61 games played at 9 PPG and 7 RBG. I'll take the former. Nuff' said.
8. Nike Basketball's hilarious MVPuppet commercials fail because Lebron doesn't make finals. Could have truly been one of the best series of commercials ever if Lebron and Kobe made the finals. Nike would have had endless possibilities for ideas for commercials. But the Cavs fell apart and we shall never know.
9. The Kevin Garnett injury may have turned the entire fortune of the other playoff teams. First of all, if he's in the lane against the Magic, Boston wins in 5 or 6. Then we have a Cle-Boston final. It would have definitely gone 7 games; I'll take Cleveland in a Lebron game winner. But it would have been way more entertaining Eastern Finals.
Once again, what if?
10. And last...and probably least, we'll remember this season for the crazy Twitter sensation that has now taken over the NBA. It's so crazy let me give you the run down of athletes courtesy of www.hoopeduponline.com
Leon Powe - @LeonPowe
Paul Pierce - @PaulPierce34
Stephon Marbury - @StarburyMarbury
Los Angeles Clippers
Baron Davis - @Baron_Davis
Dwight Howard - @dwight_howard
Jerryd Bayless - @JBay4
Chris Bosh - @chrisbosh
Kyle Korver - @KyleKorver
See what I mean?
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Guess who's back....back again...Showtime's back....tell a friend. Ahh Yess my boy and co-founder of CCS, Showtime, is back for a special guest blog. So be nice to him and just make sure if you leave a comment it has to do with either the demise of Tim Tebow, or how Michael Crabtree is the most overrated prospect of the past 20 years. So Enjoy the random acts of Showtimeness that you are about to experience. And if you don't know already, Showtime and I are basically the MVPuppets. We should get our own commercials....like ASAP.
After roughly a 4 month hiatus I feel it is time for me to contribute to the greatest sports blog known to man. A lot has happened in the world of sports since my absence and I feel I need to start putting my two cents in once again.
I want to start off by thanking Al Davis for doing drugs and drafting Derrius Heyward-Bey instead of Michael Crabtree therefore allowing the best team in the NFL (My beloved 49ers) to draft Crabtree instead. I feel like Al Davis thought to himself "Well THC and DHB rhyme so this kid must be good." It doesn't work like that Al. You just don't go picking names out of a hat and make a draft choice. When Mel Kiper doesn't know who your second pick of the draft is, Hell has frozen over or the person making the selection is wasted.
Next I just want to say GO Gators! Yea I know they are just a bunch of hood kids from the street but I love them all.....no rainbow. We will repeat as champs next season (I say we because I feel that I am an honorary member of the team just nobody knows about it in the organization yet).
On to some real business. Lakers, Magic NBA finals. Please. Kobe Bryant is the truth whether you like him or not. Yea I know the guy shot horrible from the field going 9 for 30 or something outrageous but that's not the point. When it comes down to it the guy takes over. He makes shots that nobody else can. Plus he has a better supporting cast. Don't get me wrong I like the Magic team but putting all your faith into the all mighty 3 pointer is like saying the Easter Bunny plays dice with Santa on Fridays (Sorry to break it to you Tommy but they're not real). The Lakers will most likely lose game 5 but win it in 6 back in the friendly house that Nicholson built.....Or is it the Staples center. Either way the Lakers will win this year, LeBron will lose again next year, then hello New York. Times Square better get some billboard space ready because we are all witnesses.
On a final note, the Lebron-Kobe puppet commercials.....priceless. They might be the best commercials since the E-trade baby ones. Kobe can I get ring?
I felt compelled to give you guys an article after the last game because it was a classic....classic disaster. I had so many things running through my mind after the game that I could have written my first book. They consisted of things like: why Stan Van Gundy didn't play Rafer Alston at all in the fourth or OT, why Kobe gets every single leaning-jump shot foul, why SVG didn't foul Derek Fisher, or why Rashard Lewis had 3 points going into Overtime. I'm telling you I could have published my first book just on game 4. But that's neither here nor there.
So let me give you a run down of 7 adjustments Orlando needs to make to at least win one more game and make this series watchable again.
1) First and foremost, get in the gym and shoot free throws for about 7 hours straight before the game tonight. You can't be a finals team and miss 15 free throws. There is no one guarding you. That's why they call them free.
2) If I'm SVG, I'm hiring Kareen, Bill Russel, Shaq, Patrick Ewing, Hakeen Olajuwon, and every other big time center who ever played and bringing them in to drill into Dwight Howard's head that YOU HAVE TO KEEP THE BALL HIGH IN THE POST. For god's sake, it's like watching a 6th grade 5'11" kid who has no talent but hes taller than some teachers. So they ask him to try out and he gets the ball in the post, brings the ball to his knees to gather it, and the 4'11" guards come and steal the ball from him. How are you going to have 7 turnovers and be the best BIG in the NBA. Why am I doing this instead of coaching.
3) Play Rafer Alston. Play Rafer Alston. Play Rafer Alston. Play Rafer Alston. Play Rafer Alston. Play Rafer Alston. Play Rafer Alston. Play Rafer Alston
4) Sit Jameer Nelson. Sit Jameer Nelson. Sit Jameer Nelson. Sit Jameer Nelson. Sit Jameer Nelson. Sit Jameer Nelson. Sit Jameer Nelson. Sit Jameer Nelson.
Seriously Stan, if you can't see that Jameer can't play at an all-star level right now then you really need to be doing something else. Now you've shaken Rafer's confidence again, just as he was gaining it back. We could be witnessing one of the all time coaching debacles in Finals history.
5) I personally have NEVER, I repeat NEVER, been a fan of playing a zone defense. But in this case I think Orlando should try and use one. The Lakers are not running the triangle offense anymore, and don't try and argue with me. They've completely abandoned it in the 2nd half of games. They run either the famous Lebron-victory play where they spread out four guys and watch Kobe do his thing, or they send Gasol on a high screen and roll. So why not use a zone and try and force the Lakers to beat you by the three because Gasol is killing the post. This also gives you massive help, besides Howard, in the lane when Kobe drives.
6) Orlando has to get Rashard going. It's so obvious that even my little brother said, "Tom, Rashard Lewis doesn't have a lot of points this game."
Me: "Thanks Matty. Why don't you tell Stan Van Genius."
The Magic go as Rashard goes. They can deal with Howard not scoring 20, and even Turkoglu not scoring 20. but Rashard HAS to score for them to win. Kudos to Lamar Odom's defense on him last game though.
7) Finally, the Turnovers. Oh My Lord. We could be witnessing the Greatest-Worst team in NBA history. In other words, I've never watched a team that could play so bad, and so well in a matter of seconds. It is really incredible. The magic have the players to be the best team in this league. But then they go out and they play so bad sometimes it's like they switched uniforms with the Memphis Grizzlies.
The turnovers have to go. The Magic are by far the most undisciplined team in Finals history (although the 2007 Cavaliers are very close). SVG has to drill his team to protect the ball. The Magic had 19 turnovers last game and 20+ in the first game. Take 2 or 3 turnovers away, combined with 2 or 3 made free throws and Orlando wins easily.
SVG has to make some kind of adjustments. Someone should send him this blog. Or at least tell him to call his brother him for some help.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Never in the history of my life-long devotion to the greatest franchise in professional sports, have I been this heated after a loss. Not after the 2001 World Series loss to the Diamondbacks. Not after the 2003 World Series loss to the Florida Marlins. Not even after the 2004 3-0 lead against the Red Sox that vanished quicker than Jessica Simpson's singing career. I just do not understand how the Yankees freeze up every time they see the Boston Red Sox.
It has to be all mental. The Yankees clearly have the ability to play championship baseball; they have the talent in every category. They have the power, pitching, fielding, and speed. But the one thing that separates the Red Sox from the Yankees is the Red Sox desire to win.
The Red Sox have a bunch of blue-collar players who you wouldn't even notice if you passed them on the street. Dustin Pedoria and Kevin Youkilis are two of the top 5 hitters in the American League. However, most casual fans couldn't pick them out of a lineup of white dudes if they tried.
Meanwhile the Yankees have all this star-studded talent, but it just seems like they have been missing something for the past 6-7 years. Now it's all in their head as the Red Sox have taken a 7-0 lead in the series between the two.
Sure the Yanks can beat up on the Blue Jays, the Rays, and the Rangers. But when it comes time to get down to business and win the games that are going to affect the rest of the season, they choke. Maybe we have a bunch of choke artists. Maybe they don't have a desire to get better and think they can get by on the talent they have now. Maybe our management has turned out to make bad decisions keeping Phil Hughes when we could have had Johan Santana.
I don't know what it is. All I know right now is that the Yankees are completely embarrassing their fan base. It would be one thing if your team was garbage, but the Yanks are a good team. Just not good enough to beat the Red Sox.
I'm not sure what has to change, whether it be the starting rotation, the lineup, or the bullpen. All I know is that this is just getting ridiculous now.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Here Ye! Here Ye! I come to you today with a newly formed, fool proof system that I have constructed to get the Orlando Magic back into this NBA finals, and....wait for it....potentially win it!
Now I realize I was down on the Magic after game 2. But after thinking about the series for a couple days, I now have devised a way for the Magic to win. Now, a couple disclaimers before we start. Most of these are directed towards you, Stan Van Gundy. First of all, you have to stick to my plan in every aspect. Do not try and stray away and do crazy, out of this world things like playing Jameer Nelson 25 minutes per game when he hasn't even seen any type of competition in 4 months. Second Stan, please do not claim any of these tactics as your own. Just because I don't have legal rights to Chit-Chat Sports, because I can't afford them, doesn't mean you take them and run with them in one of your raspy-voiced press conferences.
Now let's get started Orlando...
Let's look at how you guys (Orlando) got here. You started in a surprisingly tough first series in Philadelphia. Andre Iguodala was going off in the first few games and you guys didn't have an answer. So what did you do? Well, you shut down the rest of the team and made Iguodala try and beat you by himself. And you ultimately won the series 4-2.
Next series you took on the defending champion Boston Celtics. Granted they didn't have Kevin Garnett, they still had one of the most crafty scorers in the entire league in Paul Peirce. So what did you do, Stan? You made the rest of the team beat you (which they almost did). But you managed to hold off Ray Allen and Big Baby Davis.
Then you guys went to Cleveland to play the MVP Lebron James. Just as surprising as that crazy guy who ran onto the French Open finals match towards Roger Federer, you guys handled Cleveland pretty well implying this same strategy that has worked for you throughout the playoffs. Shut down the rest of the team, and let Lebron do his thing. Lebron went on to average a 43-9-8 but they only managed to win 2 games.
So now you guys are in the Finals against arguably (very arguably) the best player on the planet. So naturally one would think that you would try to implement the same style of play; Shut down the role players and let Kobe work for every bucket.
However, for some strange reason that no one can determine, you have completely changed your style of play. Now you guys are trying to play a very confusing help defense on Kobe instead of playing him straight up and making him work for every basket. Kobe is not stupid. He sees this and is playing right into it. He is drawing that extra help defender just far enough where he can dish to the wide open player for the basket. Combine that with the astronomical stupidity of playing Jameer Nelson huge minutes when he has not played in forever, and it's no wonder you guys are down 0-2.
So allow me to save all the hard work you guys have put in this season, and get you back into this series.
1) You need to play Kobe straight up. Do not double team. Do not shade defenders to his side of the court. Let Mikael Pietrus play him straight up, and make him work for every bucket. The Lakers are at their best when Kobe scores in the 22-29 range. This means that everyone on the Lakers is involved in the scoring and it makes them the best team in the league. So play Kobe straight up and make him score 45-50 to win, much like Lebron had to do.
2) For once I finally agree with Skip Bayless right now. He actually beat me to the punch as I couldn't type fast enough. He is on First Take right now, preaching to the choir about how the playing of Jameer Nelson needs to absolutely stop. I couldn't agree more. When you (Stan) decided to play Nelson 25 minutes in the first game. 25 minutes! Not only does this break up the chemistry that you've worked to develop the entire post season, but it also has shaken Rafer Alston's confidence. Rafer's lost his swagger (as the kid's call it these days) after watching his minutes plummet to Jameer playing big minutes.
You need to go back to the old rotation. Play Rafer 35-38 minutes, and back him up with Anthony Johnson, who played extremely well during the entire post season. Try and reestablish that chemistry that was winning you playoff series'.
3) Finally, you have to find a way to put the pressure back on LA. Look, no one thinks you guys are going to win this series. NO ONE. So play like you have nothing to lose, because you don't. If you start winning a few games, then all of the pressure switches to LA. Much like you guys did to the Cavaliers. Turn all the pressure back on to LA, and play like you have nothing to lose. Then we might have an enjoyable series to watch.
Quick preview for tonight: I think Dwight Howard has to come out hot. If he doesn't get going early, he doesn't play well later on in games. I think this is the one game that Orlando wins. I originally said Lakers in 6 but I just don't see how Orlando wins 2 games in this series. Final Score tonight: 110-99 Orlando.
Great sports night tonight: Magic-Lakers Game 3, Penguins-Red Wings game 6, and Red Sox-Yankees.
Friday, June 5, 2009
I had to take a break for a few days after my week for the ages last week. I believe I posted 5 articles last week, but hey hopefully one day I'll be writing every other day and getting paid for it. Everyone can dream right?
Now I'm back to give you a few reasons why I believe Orlando has a very slim to none chance to win the NBA finals. So sit back, put your finger on the down arrow, and we'll go for an analytical ride.
1. First reason why Orlando has a slim-none chance to win--You can not win an NBA championship living and dying by the three point line. Do me a favor...check the last 20 NBA champions. Then tell me which one of those teams relied heavily on the three-ball.
Don't worry I'll wait...
None of them. The problem with the magic is that the three point shot is one of their top 2 weapons on offense, the other being Dwight Howard. Sure they could knock down those threes against 6'1 Mo Williams and 6'1" Delonte West. Sure they could knock down those threes when Cleveland is doubling down on Dwight Howard and allowing themselves to rotate the ball to the open man, whether it be Pietrus, Turkoglu, Alston, or Lewis. But someone should tell Stan Van Gundy that shooting comes and goes in waves. It's just the nature of statistics. The Magic shot 47% from three in the Cleveland series. They shot 36% in the regular season, so naturally they are going to come back to earth. We saw this last night. The Magic guards were getting good looks, but your not always going to cash 47% of them.
2. Second reason why the Magic have a slim-none chance to win--They have no size. Now wait and hear me out because I'm sure your like well, D-Ho=7'0", Lewis/Hedo=6'10", Gortat=6'11". They have no height in comparison to the Lakers. Their are two forms of height. There's the Dwight Howard/Andrew Bynum height, and then there is the Lamar Odom/Hedo/Lewis height. The new style of big man is a guy who can step out and knock down the 15-18 footer, and sometimes even the three. The Magic really only have two post players. And the one subs for the one who plays 40 minutes a game. So in reality they have one post player and four swing men.
So when Phil Jackson trots out a Bynum, Gasol, Odom, Kobe, Fischer lineup...who is guarding the bigs? Howard can not get in foul trouble so he stays on the passive Bynum. Lewis can not guard Gasol in the post; Pau is too crafty for Rashard. Odom could blow by Hedo Turkoglu every single time if he so choose to because Hedo Turkoglu plays defense like Billy Ho in White Men Can't Jump. So unlike the previous series where Orlando had a tremendous match-up advantage, this series the Lakers clearly have an advantage over Orlando.
3. The third and final reason why the Orlando Magic have a slim-none chance to win--A man by the name of Kobe Bryant plays on the Lakers. If last night is any indication of how the series is going to be played, then we might as well just hand the trophy's to the Lakers right now. You think Kobe got pissed last year when his team lost in the finals? (This is the part where your sitting at your computer nodding your heads, Yes)
Kobe cares about being great. I'm reading a book right now called, The Jordan Rules. The book is about the 1990-91 season, and how Michael cared about winning so much to the point that he was considered rude and kind of a scumbag to the rest of his teammates. Michael challenged his teammates every day with verbal attacks and sometimes physical attacks in practice. It seems unorthodox and unethical, but in the long run, who is arguing with six championships?
The point I'm trying to make is, Jordan would do literally anything to win a championship. Well, Kobe has officially reached that level. Kobe's first three championships he was just feeding off the motivation of Shaq and Phil Jackson's competitiveness. Being a young stud, he was still learning what that fire meant. Now Kobe is on his own and has developed his own competitiveness. It's the closest intangible thing we've seen to Jordan's competitiveness since Michael's last championship.
Kobe will not let his team lose this series. It's just amazing to watch because if someone is out of line or confused, who is the first person to get in his face and instruct....not Phil Jackson. It's Kobe. Kobe has put that "Jordan-esque" fear into his teammates. The fear that if they let him down he is going to let them have it. And in my opinion, that fear is what drives the Lakers to be even better.
The Magic could be in for a quick NBA finals. They have too many things going against them right now, and they have, maybe, the greatest Laker of all-time to overcome if they have any intention of actually winning that trophy.
Final Prediction: Lakers in 5. Kobe MVP Finals. Kobe moves ahead of Magic and Mr. Clutch as the best Laker guard of all time.