Before I begin this post, I would like to formally apologize to all of you who have been waiting for a post for the past few weeks. The NBA playoffs are right around the corner, so as NBA teams pick their level of play up, so will I in giving all of you what you want to read.

As the regular season comes to an end, there seems to be no doubt in anybody’s mind that Derek Rose has proven himself to be the league’s MVP. Averaging 25 pts and about 8 assists per game, Rose is the only player in the NBA who is in the top 10 in both categories. He has led the Bulls to victories over playoff contenders such as the Celtics, Heat, and Lakers. There hasn’t been much that Rose hasn’t been able to do this year. What makes him so dangerous now is that he has been able to knock down the three pointer. With his ability to get to the rim and now his 3pt. shot, Rose is a matchup that nobody wants. Just last week Rose exploded from behind the arc hitting 6 three pointers in a blowout win at Atlanta. Based on his performace this season especially in big games, there is nobody more deserving of the MVP award than Derek Rose.

The question is whether or not Rose can lead the Bulls to an NBA championship, something that hasn’t bee done since Michael Jordan did it in 1998. The 2010-2011 Bulls team has the right ingredients to make a run at a title. The deciding factors will be the way they are able to handle the pressure situations. The Bulls have made the playoffs the past two years, but were highly regarded as underdogs. This year they sit atop the Eastern Conference so they will be the ones every other team is gunning for in the playoffs. Derek Rose has been magnificent this season, and in order for the Bulls to have a shot at winning a title, he will have to be nothing less in the playoffs.

The Miami Heat have proven in the past week that they are far from an NBA championship team.  With the regular season entering its final stretch, the Heat have managed to play their worst basketball against playoff contenders.  They are currently in the midst of a 5 game losing streak with losses to the Knicks, Magic,Spurs,Bulls, and Trailblazers.  With the exception of a 30 pt. blowout agianst the Spurs, the Heat have had an opportunity to win the other 4 games.  So why haven’t they been able to pull out any wins?  Well for starers they can’t hold a lead to save their lives.  They watched a 20 plus point lead against the Magic and Knicks disappear right in front of their eyes.  Secondly, how many game winning or game tying shots will Lebron James have to miss before someone else has the ball in their hands.  Lebron James has proven time and time again that he cannot make the clutch shots at the end of games.  It does not look promising for the Heat tonight as they take on a Laker team that has not lost since the All Star Break.

On the other end of the spectrum you will find with no surprise at all the Los Angeles Lakers.  They are the NBA’s hottest team riding a 8 game win streak since the All Star break.  For those who doubted the Lakers ability to “flip the switch” on and off whenever they wanted, it seems as if the Lakers are doing just that.  Their most impressive victory during this win streak was a 30 pt blowout of the San Antonio Spurs just two days after the Spurs cruised to a 30 pt. victory over the Heat.  Kobe Bryant has picked his level of play up and everyone around him is playing at a higher level now.  Tonight’s matchup will prove whether or not the Heat can pick themselves up out of the abyss that they have fallen into.

Fan Q and A

Posted: March 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

Before my next post on the NBA highlights of the week, I wanted to take the time out to interview a fellow NBA fan and get his perspective on the best of the NBA.  Justyn Carter, a junior at Saint Peter’s College, weighed in on the best teams and players around the league in a little question and answer segment.

 

Q: When you think of the best players around the league, who would you give the MVP award to if the season ended today?

A: Derek Rose from the Chicago Bulls.  He’s taken a team that was barely over 500 last season and has led them to the third best record in the East this season.  He has hit big shot after big shot and has led his team to victories over many of the NBA’s best teams such as the Heat and the Lakers.

Q: Who is the best team in the league right now?

A: Boston Celtics.  Their depth is second to none around the NBA.  They have one games with key players such as Shaquille O’Neal and Rajon Rondo out of the lineup.  They are the front-runner to win the NBA championship this year.

Q: With many players having breakout seasons, which player doesn’t get the credit they deserve?

A: Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves.  He has recorded a double-double in 48 straight games, a feat that hasn’t been done in over 20 years.  Also, he plays on one of the NBA’s worst teams.  Being able to produce these numbers on a consistent basis on a losing ball club shows just how good he really is.

Q: If you could pick one player to start an NBA franchise today, who would it be?

A: Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.  His talents are unlimited.  After being the NBA’s youngest scoring leader a year ago, he has the potential to lead any team deep into the playoffs.  At age 22, he is going to be one of the league’s best players for a long time.

 

I would like to personally thank Justyn for his participation and his opinions as a true NBA fan.

      New York Knick fans, you have finally gotten what you have wanted for the last 9 years, a team capapble of making the playoffs.  With the additions of Carmelo Athony and Chauncey Billups, the Knicks now look like a team that will reach the playoffs for the first time since 2001.  But just how far can they go? Fans now think that the Knicks can compete for an NBA championship.  Obviously, these fans have not been paying attention to anything going on around the league all season.  Yes, I know the Knicks have two potent superstars in Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, and a big time playoff shooter in Chauncey Billups.  But the Knicks do not have the depth to compete for a championship this year.  In a seven game series, the Knicks do not have the depth to compete with the Celtics or even the Magic for that matter.  Unless they would somehow get the Hawks in the first round, they would be blessed to get out of the first round.  So I say this to Knick fans: be thankful that you landed Carmelo Anthony.  Be thankful that your team has a legitimate shot to make the playoffs for the first time in 9 years.  But don’t expect an NBA championship or an NBA Championship appearance this year.  It is going to take a lot more than Carmelo Anthony to bring a championship to New York.   

Up Next: NBA weekly preview, players of the week.

All Star Weekend Recap

Posted: February 22, 2011 in League News

     I apologize to all of you who were expecting to see an All Star weekend preview but the internet service at the Best Western in Savannah, Georgia is unreliable.   So instead, you will be getting a recap of All Star weekend with both the highs and the lows. 

     Friday kicked off the festivities with the celebrity game and the rookies vs sophomores game.  If you had any sort of life you would probably have plans on Friday night and therefore would not have seen much let alone any of these two games.   This is just fine however.  The celebrity game has evolved into probably one of the most uneventful and unexciting parts of all star weekend.  It is just a chance for celebs to get facetime on ESPN, especially when Justin Beiber is playing alongside guys old enough to be his dad.  And somehow Beiber’s 8 points and 2 assists were good enough to earn him the MVP award.  He could’ve sang and danced the entire game and still would’ve been voted MVP.  If you were unable to catch the celeb game, trust me you didn’t miss much.  The rookies vs. sophomores game was merely the junior varsity version of the all star game.  There was little defense played, and the game was showcased by a few Blake Griffin dunks and John Wall’s MVP performance of 12pts and 22ast.  Like the celeb game, you didn’t miss much if you missed the game.

     Saturday, in my opinion is always the most exciting part of All Star Weekend.   The night started with Team Atlanta, made up of Hawks center Al Horford, Atlanta Dream guard Coco Miller, and former Hawks player Steve Smith winning the Hair Shooting Stars challenge.  Golden St. Warriors point guard Stephen Curry took home the Taco Bell Skills Challenge title.  While I was unable to watch the first two events, they seem like they served as a good preview for the final two events.  James Jones from the Miami Heat, won the Foot Locker 3pt contest after defeating Kevin Durant, defending champ Paul Pierce, and the NBA’s all time leader in 3pt. field goals Ray Allen.  Saturday night’s main event was the Sprite Slam Dunk contest.  This may have been the most creative dunk contest of all time, as the contestants used all of their innovative abilities to put on a show for the crowd.  The contest was highlighted by Javale McGee dunking on two hoops at once and then dunking 3 balls, Serge Ibaka’s foul line dunk, and Blake Griffin’s car hopping throwdown.  Ibaka’s dunk was far more impressive than Dr J’s or Michael Jordan’s foul line dunks because he was actually behind the line when he took off.  This is an incredible feat for a 7 footer to pull off.  However, considering all aspects of the contest, there was no way Blake Griffin was not going to win.  Don’t get me wrong he had some very impressive dunks, but with the final round being a fan vote, he was taking home the title no matter what.  All in all I was impressed with this years dunk contest, as it was the most entertaining for me since Dwight Howard’s superman performance from 2009. 

  Sunday night brought the NBA All Star game.  As expected, the game was high scoring with little defense played and really little competitiveness until the fourth quarter.  Lebron James led the East recording only the second triple doulbe in All Star game history.  But like the last player to record a triple double, James did not walk away with the MVP.  The night belonged to the West and hometown hero Kobe Bryant.  Bryant’s 37pt. 14reb. performance earned him MVP honors and the West a 148-143 victory.  Maybe this was a message to the rest of the league that the road to an NBA Championship will still have to go through Bryant.  He played as if he was 22 and not 32.  This can be a good sign for the Lakers as they will rely on him heavily if they want to win another title. 

I hope all who watched any of the festivities from NBA All Star weekend were pleased with what they saw.   I hope you enjoyed watching the best players from the league playing together for one night and putting on a show for all of us NBA fans.

Up Next: Melo to the Knicks

As the All-Star game is a week away, its time to look at the best teams in the NBA and also MjPearson’s mid season awards.  As a reminder, these are not the rankings according to nba.com or ESPN, so I do not expect all of you to agree with me.

1. Boston Celtics – As much as I hate to say it, the Celtics are my number one team at the halfway point.  Despite their loss at home to the Lakers and falling to second in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics are still the best team in the NBA.  They are the deepest team by far and they have been able to consistently win games despite injuries to key players.  Age was a major question going into the season, but it looks like 30 is the new 20 for this Celtics team.  They also have an x factor in Rajon Rondo.  Rondo’s ability to penetrate and find the open man at will makes it very difficult to prevent the Celtics from getting good looks.  Congratulations to Ray Allen on becoming the NBA’s all-time leader in 3pt field goals as the Celtics will need his shooting if they want to make another run at the NBA championship. 

2. San Antonio Spurs – People may wonder how are the Spurs not atop the power rankings even though they hold the best record throughout the league.  The reason for this is because the lingering question regarding the Spurs is whether or not they can hold up for the entire season.  Like the Celtics, the Spurs are by no measure a young team.  Veterans like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Antonio McDyess have the liability of wearing down or possibly getting injured down the stretch.  They have remained healthy so far and have experienced frequent success over pretty much every team in the league.  If the Spurs stay healthy, they will absolutely be a contender for a title. 

3. Miami Heat – If there is one team I hate more than the Celtics, it’s the Miami Heat.  After early season struggles and questions regarding team chemistry, it seems as if the Miami Heat have finally found their rhythm as they are playing at a very high level.  They have taken care of the struggling teams in the league and as of late have started winning games against the NBA’s best teams.  Although I have as much respect for Lebron James as I do the WNBA, he is having another MVP calibur year.  Miami’s big 3 are beginning to figure it out and have been playing very well together.  Although the team lacks the depth that teams such as the Celtics have, their 3 stars are equipped with the abilities to carry their team through the playoffs.  The Heat are hated by most teams and fans throughout the NBA, but like them or not they will be around come playoff time.

4. Los Angeles Lakers – Considering my hatred for the Heat and Celtics, most people probably assumed that I would automatically place the Lakers on top of the power rankings.  However, I am realistic when going about this and I admit that the Lakers are not the best team in the NBA right now.  I’m not saying I am not picking them to 3 peat this year because of course I am, but I am saying that they need to play much better down the stretch for that to happen.  As stated in my first post, lack of intensity and defensive struggles have lingered the whole season.  But with a 4 game road win streak including a big win at Boston, the Lakers would like to remind all of you that they still are the 2-time defending champs, and in Phil Jackson’s final season, expect them to be right in the mix for an NBA championship.

5. Oklahoma City Thunder – There were a couple teams that were worthy for the number 5 spot on the list such as the Bulls and Mavericks, but the Oklahoma City Thunder got the nod.  Kevin Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer from last season, is back at it again leading the league in scoring once again.  His partner in crime, Russell Westbrook, is becoming one of the NBA’s best young point guards.  The Thunder will not back down from any team in the NBA, and their fans make it very tough for opposing teams to pull out a win.  A team filled with young, charismatic players, the Thunder as an 8 seed took the Lakers to a game 6 in the first round of last year’s playoffs.  With a little bit of playoff experience behind them and a superstar like Durant, the Thunder are now a team not to be taken lightly when the playoffs roll around. 

Now I do not have the time or energy to write about every single team in the NBA, so only the top 5 teams are honored with a writeup.  However here are the remaining 5 teams to finish out the top 10 in the mid-season power rankings:

6.Chicago Bulls

7. Dallas Mavericks

8. Orlando Magic

9. New Orleans Hornets

10. Denver Nuggets

The rest of the league is a tossup except for the Cleveland Caviliers.  They are the absolute worst team in the NBA hands down.  This is not surprising as Cleveland is one of the most miserable sports cities in the country.

For some of you that may have been a lot to read but it is now time to hand out my mid-season awards.

MVP – Lebron James – I cannot stomach the thought of him winning another MVP, but you cannot argue his stats.

Coach of the Year – Greg Popovich – Has his veteran team out to the best record in the league right now.  I know I was not expecting the Spurs to get off to a start as good as this.

Rookie of the Year – Blake Griffin – Unanimous decision.  If you have not seen Blake Griffin this year, get out of the shell that you are living in and watch some of his highlights and you will absolutely agree with me.

NBA All-First Team

PG – Derek Rose

SG – Kobe Bryant

SF – Kevin Durant (Lebron is unfortunately my mid-season MVP so he will not be receiving multiple honors)

PF – Amare Stoudemire

C- Dwight Howard 

Feel free to comment on what you agree/disagree with.  Even send me your own all NBA team. 

Up Next: All-Star weekend preview.

            As the Allstar break is just about a week away, it is time to look at where the Los Angeles Lakers stand halfway through the season.  I would love to sit here and tell you all that my beloved Lakers are the best team in the NBA at this point, but I can’t do that.  The Lakers have struggled this year and that is evident to everyone.  Losing by double digits to the Spurs, Heat, and Celtics exposed weaknesses in the defending two time champs.  For one, they are not getting any younger.  It seems as if the Lakers have lost a step or two from last season and it has shown especially on the defensive end of the floor. Secondly, they are playing with no intensity.  During their Christmas showdown with the Miami Heat, the Lakers showed that they’d rather have been at home opening presents than playing basketball as the Heat dominated pretty much the entire game.  The Lakers seemed to pick the intensity level up a little bit when the Celtics came to town in late January, but they were never able to cut into the deficit that the Celtics maintained throughout the 4th quarter.

              While they have not fared well against the NBA’s best teams so far this season, the Lakers are in no position to hit the panic button on their season.  Currently at 36-16, they hold the NBA’s 5th best record.  They lead their division by 10.5 games.  Winning the Pacific division will be no problem.  They will secure no less than a 3 seed heading into the playoffs and if the Spurs and Mavericks cannot hold up for the remainder of the year, they can find themselves right back atop the Western Conference.  And let’s also remember that they are the 2-time defending Champions, so until someone proves they can beat them in a 7-game series, they are still a heavy favorite to three-peat.  Lastly, the Lakers employ the best basketball player on the planet in Kobe Bryant.  When it comes playoff time, Kobe will show up to play.  Highly regarded as the best closer in basketball, he hits the big shots time and time again and he will lead his team to a victory.  Whether or not it will be a third consecutive NBA championship and a 6th for Bryant, I cannot say yet.  But I know one thing, they will be ready come playoff time.

Up Next:  mjpearson22’s power rankings and mid season All-NBA team.