NBA Playoffs Round 1 Round-Up: Indiana Pacers (3) defeat the Orlando Magic (6) 4-1
Finally, the series nobody really wanted to see is over. No offense to either team, but unless you’re a Pacer fan or a Magic fan, no way you really had any desire to watch this series.
After a somewhat peculiar first game upset where Orlando won 81-77, the Pacers finally came to play, taking the next four games for the gentleman’s sweep. The Pacers decidedly took all but one win with blowouts, and the only close win (101-99 OT) came with a big game from their big offseason acquisition of David West.
Orlando was without their superstar Dwight Howard, who was giving the team problems with his horrible PR decisions anyway. His absence prompted Stan Van Gundy to put Glen Big Baby Davis alongside Ryan Anderson as the starting big men. So basically, David West and Roy Hibbert were able to get whatever they wanted. Coming this summer, we might finally get some questions answered regarding SVG’s coaching job or Dwight Howard’s trade request (in my opinion? Keep Van Gundy, trade Howard). All I can say is that I wouldn’t want to be a Magic fan right now (sorry, y’all).
I actually really like this Pacers team. Paul George’s and Roy Hibbert’s improvements have helped them both offensively and defensively. Danny Granger can do less now on the offensive end with the additions of George Hill, Leandro Barbosa, and David West. Their bench is scrappy and they all work hard. And Frank Vogel has shown that he can be a really good coach. I honestly think that they are only a couple of steps away from being real contenders in future years (another year or two of Paul George’s growth and a consistent starting point guard) and that should be exciting.
The Pacers will face the winner of the Heat vs. Knicks series… which means they will be facing the Heat. Roy Hibbert should be getting whatever he wants, but the Lebron vs. Granger matchup should be a lot of fun to watch.
Can we go ahead and declare that this season has had the most ridiculous, amazing posterizing dunks that we’ve ever seen? Just days after Blake Griffin abuses Pau Gasol twice, here we have Kevin Durant completely murder Pacers center Roy Hibbert. Take that.
This video needs more replays.
2012 NBA Trade Deadline Round-Up
So Dwight Howard opts in for another year in his contract for Orlando, but that doesn’t mean this year’s trade deadline wasn’t full of surprises and head scratchers. Let’s recap:
The Warriors look towards the future. The Lakers get a solid, young point guard and a solid, young F/C, adding depth. The Blazers start rebuilding by taking on expiring contracts. The Clippers get an offensive minded, tall off-guard. The Spurs and Popovich get Stephen Jackson back. The Nets do work to try and keep Deron Williams. The Pacers get a nice offensive minded guard. The Cavaliers have four top 40 2012 draft picks. The Wizards get smarter. The Nuggets get over their buyers remorse of Nene (in the expense of McGee and his expiring deal). The Rockets are trying to get better. The Grizzlies give Sam Young a home after finding no place in their roster.
And there you have it. The trade deadline, everybody. Enjoy the rest of your NBA season!
Paul George Double-Pump Fast Break Dunk vs. the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday
I don’t know if it’s any news, but I’m a pretty big Paul George fan, in spite of his inconsistencies. Also, this was a very nice slam. Could’ve been the best dunk of the week (behind Deron Williams’ slam over Roy Hibbert in the same game), but this was no normal week for dunks.
Also, those ABA Pacers Throwback jerseys are slick. I’d like one of those.
Missed Kick Ball Violation At the End of the Indiana Pacers vs. Golden State Warriors Game Friday Night + Outlook on an Abysmal Warriors Season
I’m a huge Warriors fan, but I’m not here to complain about a missed call that basically cost the team a win, which would have put them at 6-9 instead of 5-10, though I will talk about it for a little bit.
I was sitting in the upper levels of Oracle Arena, so I just thought Monta Ellis messed up his isolation again, leading to an easy George Hill steal. Of course, upon review it definitely looked like Hill kicked his foot as Monta crossed over, and thus should have been called a kickball. Amidst all of the boos and yelling from the crowd, all we could do was stand there as Hill makes his free throw and Stephen Curry rattle out his 3 point shot to end the game.
Of course, the ref next to the Warriors bench could have seen the kick (Nate Robinson who was on the bench behind him clearly saw it), and the ref at midcourt definitely could have seen the kick as well, though the kick was quite subtle. Fast forward to Saturday and the NBA even releases a statement that the referees blew the game by not calling a kickball violation. Via NBA.com/official:
With 5.4 seconds remaining in the Indiana-Golden State game on Jan. 20, Pacers guard George Hill intentionally kicked the ball away from Warriors guard Monta Ellis during his cross over dribble. According to rule no. 10, Section IV.b, kicking the ball or striking it with any part of the leg is a violation when it is an intentional act. The officials missed the kicked ball violation which should have resulted in a deadball situation and Golden State inbounding the ball on the sideline nearest the spot of the violation.
Alright, enough about the kickball.
This is actually the third game this season that Monta Ellis basically botched a last second shot attempt by waiting too long as the clock winded down. These losses to the Lakers, the Jazz, and the Pacers could have all been easily winnable with proper clock management, giving the Warriors an 8-7 record instead of their measly 5-10. Of course, there is an advantage to losing for this season’s Warriors.
As a Warrior fan, there are two different scenarios that the Warriors can end up with, and I’d be happy with either. The first is keeping Mark Jackson’s promise of becoming a playoff team. I would love for my favorite team to become winners again, and this team had high hopes this past offseason. With a 5-10 record, though, it seems highly unlikely. The second scenario is getting a terrible record, getting lucky with the draft lottery, and having a high draft pick. Because of the dreaded Marcus Williams trade in 2008, the Warriors’ 2012 first round draft pick went to the New Jersey Nets, which eventually got dealt to the Utah Jazz in the Deron Williams trade. This draft pick, though, is Top 7 protected, so if the Warriors end up in the top 7 during the NBA draft lottery, they get to keep the pick in this upcoming deep 2012 draft. This scenario is a lot more likely to happen.
I’m not saying that I want the Warriors to keep losing, but the fact that there’s a silver lining that comes with every loss keeps me hopeful. Unless Monta, Steph, or David Lee jumps into superstar status, this team won’t be making the playoffs, so it’s good to look into the future.
In no way am I happy for this kickball, but it could possibly a blessing in disguise if these close losses lead to a high draft pick. With the Warriors’ luck, though, they’ll end up somewhere between 9th and 13th in the West, both missing the playoffs and losing their draft pick. Only because they’re the Warriors and the basketball gods hate this team.
2011-2012 Bold Statements: Eastern Conference Standings
In my opinion the Eastern Conference standings will more or less be the same. The same eight teams will be in the playoffs with shifts in standings that will definitely be effected by the shortened season. As for the other 7 teams… let’s just say that they are still pretty bad.
The Miami Heat are undoubtably the clear favorites to win the Division title this season, and more than likely will have the best record in the league. I find no reason why they won’t plow through the Eastern Conference and eventually end up in the NBA Finals once again. They had a full year to create chemistry and added Shane Battier, an elite perimeter defender who can create space on the court and knock down the open 3.
The Chicago Bulls organization feel like they found the answer to their problems when they picked up Rip Hamilton this offseason, and they’re right. He’s the scoring shooting guard that the Bulls needed last year to take offensive pressure off of Derrick Rose. Furthermore, the Bulls have the same core players from last season and they’re still a relatively young-middle aged team. With Rose signing an extension this week, expect the Bulls to be contending for a title for years to come.
The New York Knicks with the third seed? I believe it. Their addition of Tyson Chandler is their greatest move because he will be able to hide Carmelo’s and Amar’e’s defensive liabilities without needing to do much on offense. Rookie Iman Shumpert, while having an awesome name, also looks like he can become a solid role player behind Douglas, Fields, and Baron when he comes back from injury (no comment on Mike Bibby). Also: JORTS!
The success of the Orlando Magic depends on one thing and one thing only: when will Dwight Howard be traded? If Dwight stays with the Magic all season, they have the 3rd-4th seed on lock. If he gets traded (which I believe he will be), then they will definitely drop in the standings, based upon who Orlando gets back. Either way, the team needs to find some sort of identity, and guys like Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, and Big Baby need to step up and stay consistent all year.
If this was a normal 82 game season, the Boston Celtics would no doubt be the 3rd seed again. With this compressed 66 game season, though, I expect them to only be good enough to make get a lower seed, and then work their hardest during the playoffs. Garnett, Allen, Pierce, and maybe even O’neal won’t be playing 66 games each, which leaves Brandon Bass, Marquis Daniels, Keyon Dooling, and Chris Wilcox cleaning up the mess. Yikes. Bass will have a good year, though, filling in for Garnett in Doc’s system.
I am actually very high on this Indiana Pacers team. They have upgraded their roster and have a deep bench, so they might have a chance to take that 5th seed (depending on how many games the Celtics veterans take off). They replaced guys like Mike Dunleavy, Josh McRoberts, James Posey, and Brandon Rush with George Hill, David West, Louis Amundson, and 2 more inches on Paul George. You read correctly, Paul George grew 2 inches taller this summer. Also, a full year under Frank Vogel sure won’t hurt.
I’m probably as low on the Atlanta Hawks as I am high on the Pacers. I don’t think the Hawks will realize how much Jamal Crawford meant to the offense of this team until it’s too late, and Tracy McGrady sure as hell isn’t the answer. Also, the Hawks are now the NBA’s oldest team with an average age of over 30 years old. They still have enough talent to earn a solid Playoff spot, but I don’t see them going far.
The Philadelphia 76er’s roster hasn’t changed very much from last season, so you can’t say they haven’t gotten any better, but they also haven’t gotten any worse either. This team will basically earn their 8th seed because no other team in the Eastern Conference is good enough to have better records. Sorry to the Nets and the Bucks.
The Unfortunate Ones
The Milwaukee Bucks were the 9th seed last season. They are a very good defensive team that needs a lot of help on the offensive end. Their answer? Stephen Jackson and Mike Dunleavy. 9th seed sounds right.
The New Jersey Nets will have a full year (and hopefully more) with All-Star point guard Deron Williams. In spite of this, their 10th seed is more-so related to the other teams being worse than getting any better, especially with Brook Lopez being out until February with a foot injury.
The Washington Wizards are the youngest team in the league, but with 2nd year John Wall looking more like a leader, they have an okay chance at maturing. They will still be pretty bad, though. The bright side? They will be exciting (though sloppy) to watch. Dunks on dunks on dunks!
I actually have a lot of hope for this Detroit Pistons team this season. Lawrence Frank should be a good coach, coming from Doc Rivers’ system in Boston. I’m expecting Austin Daye to have a breakout season. Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight will be great. Blame their poor record on Joe Dumars for locking Charlie V, Gordon, Stuckey, and Prince long-term.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving who will be great in this league. Problem? No one else will be able to give him much help. To the draft it is!
Just look at the Charlotte Bobcats’ roster and don’t tell me that they won’t be one of the bottom 3 teams in the league next year. Kemba Walker will be great, but I doubt he will get enough touches with Corey Maggette on the court. Plus, Boris Diaw is 30 pounds heavier and will play point-center. Take that how you will.
Jonas Valanciunas will not be with the Toronto Raptors this year. Players like Aaron Gray, Jamaal Magloire, Gary Forbes, and Rasual Butler will not change anything. Dwane Casey has a lot on his plate for this team.
Day 25 of Lost NBA Games
14 games originally scheduled. Am I really gonna go through this? It’s the day after Thanksgiving and everyone’s lethargic from all the food and exhausted from Black Friday shopping. Today would have been a perfect day to just sit in front of the TV and watch a few games. (It would have been a) good thing there’s a lot to pick from.
Orlando Magic vs. Charlotte Bobcats - Firstly, I need to stop typing “Charlotte Hornets.” That’s the 3rd time I’ve caught myself. Secondly, I’d watch this just to watch their two tiny point guards in Jameer Nelson and DJ Augustin go at it.
Houston Rockets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves - I never thought I’d see the day when the Timberwolves have a bigger (and possibly even better) front court than the Rockets. This is arguable, but the Wolves have a good amount of potential now.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics - Two great defenses would be going at it. Boston wins 75-70. Forreal tho, out of the 3 games these two teams played last season, they reached over 90 once in an overtime game. And the last one? The Bucks only scored 56 points. FIFTY-SIX. Jesus christ the Bucks need to find some offense. I guess they’re hoping S-Jax’s streaky shooting helps them.
New York Knicks vs. New Jersey Nets - I think these are just worth watching because this will be the Nets’ last year in New Jersey before moving to Brooklyn. Then it’ll forreal become a New York battle.
Toronto Raptors vs. Miami Heat - The Raptors would have gotten kiiiiiiiilled. No way will the league’s worst defense contain Wade, Lebron, or even Bosh.
Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Hello first round of the 2011 playoffs. That doesn’t really mean anything, but this time the Pacers have George Hill who is the closest person they have that can keep up with Derrick Rose. But then again, no one can keep up with Derrick Rose (unless you’re 6’8”, 250 lbs, with a 7 ft wingspan, but then again you’re a freak of nature).
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder - Ah, a meeting from the WC Semis. That really was a great series going into game 7. I hope that these two squads keep going at it because both teams are pretty similar in my opinion. Great matchups. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to see Rudy Gay go up against Kevin Durant?
Washington Wizards vs. Detroit Pistons - I don’t even think Detroit or DC fans would want to watch this. Or maybe I’m just a hater. At least there’s John Wall?
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. San Antonio Spurs - I’d honestly watch this just for Kyrie Irving going up against Tony Parker. Otherwise… c’mon, it’s the Cavs.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Denver Nuggets - If the Thunder and Grizzlies weren’t meeting, this would definitely be the game of the day. Two great and exciting teams with crazy, tattooed Shooting Guards. Who wouldn’t want to see this? (Yes, I was talking about JR Smith and DeShawn Stevenson).
LA Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns - I just wanna see Blake Griffin get this dunk back from Marcin Gortat (even though that was a Clippers home game). Otherwise, this would’ve been a super fun game. Fast pace + highlights = NBA gold.
Utah Jazz vs. Portland Trailblazers - I’d watch this just to see the Jazz throw all of their big men at LMA. Also, Wes Matthews should have a good game, if last season is any indication.
Sacramento Kings vs. LA Lakers - Tyreke vs. Kobe looks cool (both matchup wise and name wise). Cousins vs. Bynum also looks fun. With that said, Metta World Peace would kill in this game. Just a hunch.
New Orleans Hornets vs. Golden State Warriors - 2nd meeting of the year. Dope matchup. I’m super sad this isn’t happening.
I’m only allowed up to 10 photos? lame.
Day 23 of Lost NBA Games
10 games we could have kept track of while you wait for it to be Thanksgiving.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Charlotte Bobcats - I’m gonna be frank here, but the Bobcats would get killed inside. Non-sequitur, but I first typed Charlotte Hornets, but then caught myself. I miss those days.
Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers - I can’t help but SMH when I look at the Cavs’ roster. They don’t have much outside of Kyrie Irving, Boom Dizzle (barely), Omri Casspi, Antawn Jamison, and Anderson Varejao. And even then, that’s a bit sketchy (besides Kyrie). The Pacers, on the other hand, have Darren Collison, George Hill, Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, Paul George, and Psycho T. Very promising.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder - Why wouldn’t you want to watch a game between these two teams. Classic Kobe vs. Durant. I would write more, but it’s pretty self-explanatory.
Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics - You would have had the worst defense (30th in Defensive Efficiency with 110… wow) against a team with one of the best defenses (2nd with a Defensive Efficiency of 97.8). Um, yeah, that basically explains it all.
Portland Trailblazers vs. Detroit Pistons - Every now and then you see a matchup that doesn’t really matter too much. They meet only twice a year, and honestly none of the matchups look very promising. Raymond Felton vs. Rodney Stuckey maybe? Otherwise, I actually don’t know how to approach this game. Sorry folks.
New Jersey Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks - I would love to see Deron Williams light up for 50 over Brandon Jennings. I’m still sore from the time Jennings scored 55 on the Warriors back in his rookie season. Brooke Lopez vs. Andrew Bogut also looks like a very intriguing matchup.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Houston Rockets - The best and the worst out of the Southwest Division. Granted, the Rockets are still a very solid over-.500 team, so that statement doesn’t even mean much. This should’ve been a really fun game with Kevin Martin and Dirk Nowitzki shooting the lights out.
Golden State Warriors vs. Minnesota Timberwolves - I guess we’ll have to wait until next year to see Dorell Wright drop 9 three-pointers at the Target Center. Can’t believe that was already almost a whole year ago (Nov. 27, 2010).
Orlando Magic vs. San Antonio Spurs - You can’t not love the idea of this game. Two great defensive big men duke it out in San Antonio, and it would have been great. Dwight Howard. Tim Duncan. Damn.
Utah Jazz vs. Sacramento Kings - Wow, I actually think the Kings own this matchup. Granted, the Jazz’s front line is deeper and looks stronger, but the Kings’ backcourt should’ve made up for it.
Day 22 of Lost NBA Games
Seven games scheduled. Mmmmhmmmm.
Detroit Pistons vs. Indiana Pacers - Besides the Nuggets, the Pistons have got to be one of the hardest teams to predict for next year. For one, they have a new coach with Lawrence Frank who does look very promising, but who knows if the Pistons will start off the season 13-0 or 0-16 under him. Also, out of Hamilton, Prince, Gordon, and Villanueva, at least one or two of them won’t be on the team by the time a season rolls around. This team is rebuilding and they need help after last year’s chaos. As for the Pacers? They more or less have it figured out. Vogel is showing that he’s a capable coach and they got a good piece in George Hill. My money would be on the Pacers, but who knows how Frank would be doing 22 days into the season.
Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards - Rajon Rondo vs. John Wall alone would be so much fun to watch.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat - I see nothing but a BLOCK PARTY when you have a game with both Lebron and Josh Smith. This would be a good game to watch if you’re into watching highlight-worthy defensive plays. If not, just watch some more charity game highlights.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Memphis Grizzlies - I really love this matchup. For one, you got both Gasols going at it. You also gotta wonder who’ll light up more, Kobe or Rudy Gay. These games aren’t just fun, but they’re competitive, with these teams splitting the series last season 2-2.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Dallas Mavericks - I don’t really have much to say about this one. I like both teams for various different reasons. I guess the main reason to watch it is because the Mavs won the Championship last season. Otherwise, unless you’re a fan of either team, it just seems like a pretty normal game.
Chicago Bulls vs. Denver Nuggets - This actually looks like a great matchup. The Nuggets would’ve looked to run, because their pace (#2 in the league last year) can be backed up by their offensive efficiency. The Bulls? #1 in Defensive efficiency. This could’ve been a great battle of the best of both worlds.
New Orleans Hornets vs. Phoenix Suns - Two of the greatest point guards in the league right now would have been going head to head. Who doesn’t want to see that? I wanna say that there would have been at least a combined 50 assists between both teams with Nash and Paul dishing the rock to the likes of Gortat, West, and Okafor. Pick n’ rolls all day!
Penny Hardaway Dunks on the Indiana Pacers - Game 4 of1995 Eastern Conference Finals
One advantage of the NBA lockout? NBATV is playing a lot more Hardwood Classic games. Of course, they can’t play any games with current NBA players, so most are from before 1994 (when Grant Hill and Jason Kidd were drafted). Sometimes you’ll get some really nice late-90’s games with the Bulls, Jazz, and Sonics.
Oh, and this.
I was only 6 years old during this game, long before my obsession with basketball, so I’m glad that NBATV is showing these games. I get to actually watch and experience some classic moments of NBA history.
Plus, that first Penny poster was DOOOOOOOOPE!