Posted on: December 16, 2010 1:59 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2010 2:11 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The first returns for the 2011 All-Star teams are in and really, not a lot of big surprises. Kobe Bryant leads the West, Dwight Howard leads the East and for a 10th consecutive year, Brian Cardinal is nowhere to be found.
Looking over the numbers, obviously the first thing that has to stick out is of course Yao Ming and Andrew Bynum being the top two vote-getters at center in the West. Between the two, they've played a grand total of seven games.
This is what irks so many about letting fans votes, but that's just the way it is. Yao has the most populated country in the world voting for him and Bynum has probably the biggest fanbase voting for him. It's the way it works. I'd love to complain and gripe about it and tell you how Tyson Chandler or Al Jefferson should be getting consideration, but nobody's listening.
(Seriously though, neither Chandler or Jefferson were even on the first returns? Really? Chris Kaman, Andris Biedrins and DeMarcus Cousins are but the two most productive Western centers aren't? And Derek Fisher has 81,000 votes but the league's leading rebounder Kevin Love only has 700 more? I hate people sometimes.)
So if the All-Star Game were today, the starters for each conference would be:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: LeBron James
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Dwight Howard
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Pau Gasol
C: Yao Ming
The closest current races are Carmelo behind Gasol and Derrick Rose behind Rondo. Gasol trails Anthony by about 20,000 votes and Rose is behind Rondo by about 75,000 votes.
One mild and pleasant surprise is that Kevin Durant is the second-leading vote-getter in the West behind Kobe. Durant has 470,881 votes to his name right now, still almost 300,000 behind Kobe though. But Durant is well on his way to his second All-Star team and first one as a starter. He's ahead of talented players like Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony and Tim Duncan. Quite a big year for Durant. From a player known only as underrated and hidden in the league's smallest market to the second top star in the West only behind Kobe is a big step up.
The East though is basically the Miami Heat and friends. LeBron and Dwyane Wade are two of the top three vote-getters with Dwight Howard being second, Rajon Rondo fourth and Kevin Garnett fifth. The "other" guy on the Heat, Chris Bosh, is fifth among forwards right now with 161,801 votes. Interesting players that are ahead of Bosh in the East in total votes? Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Shaquille O'Neal. I guess if you really wanted the spotlight Chris, you should've went to Boston.
Talking rookies, Blake Griffin leads all so far with more than 245,000 votes. John Wall checks in with a little over 120,000 and Cousins has 37,000 in a watered down center class in the West.
Of course, these are just the first returns and things can definitely change. You'll see those kids at games with a stack four feet tall of ballots and then may all have only Derek Fisher's name punched. But more than likely, the two starting units will end up close to what they are now.
Posted on: December 15, 2010 3:03 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 4:27 pm
You may think that New York has little shot against the mighty Celtics Wednesday night. While Boston is the best team in the league, the evidence says they may have their hands full against the Knicks.
Posted by Matt Moore
You know what Boston's point differential was last year? 3.6 points per game. They won on average by a margin of 3.6. The New York Knicks lost by average of 3.8 points last year. As the Celtics are very good and the Knicks were very not, you'd imagine that the Celtics would have blown them out, as they did the year before when their average margin of victory over the Knicks was over 12 points per game.
Except it wasn't. It was 3.75 points per game, including one three-point loss to the Knicks, and a two-point win in overtime. This against a much lesser team than the Amare-Stoudemire and Raymond Felton led squad they're visiting this evening.
So while Boston is very busy talking about how this is not a rivalry and everyone's laughing off talks that the Knicks are in Boston's league as the two prepare to meet Wednesday night, it should be noted that perhaps this might be a game. Why? Because Boston doesn't like run-and-gun, that's why.
The Celtics lost twice to Amar'e's old club in Phoenix by a combined 25 points . They split with Golden State, the fastest team in the league according to pace (number of possessions per game), winning by 14 , and then losing by 10 . Boston also split with Denver (fifth in pace), Houston (sixth in pace), and Memphis (7th in pace). (They drubbed Indiana and Minnesota the second and third fastest teams, because, well, they were terrible.)
Even account for the late season swoon by the Celtics as they coasted to the playoffs, running teams have had success against Boston. The reason that becomes evident if you watched those games is that it's an overload of what Boston tries to hard to stop. Offense. There's no balance on these clubs. They simply get up and down the floor as quickly as humanly possible. Try and slow the game down to out-maneuver them and the Celtics will always be in place. The only way through is over. You have to stampede them with speed and shooting, perplex them with threes in transition and make those old legs work.
According to 82games.com , The Celtics have played slow-pace teams ten times, and fast paced teams eight times. They're 9-1 against slow teams, and 6-2 against fast teams. Yeah, that's still an impressive win percentage, but notice that they do have more trouble (relatively speaking) against fast teams. New York is third in pace this year .
Throw in the fact that Amar'e Stoudemire is a tougher cover for Kevin Garnett than most and you've got possible problems for Boston. Stoudemire may not be a defensive stalwart, but on offense he's not soft. He's the Anti-Bosh. He's aggressive, strong, and forceful, throwing down jams and screaming with the best of them (and Garnett is the best of them). The Knicks will get pounded inside tonight by Boston's bigs, but making Shaquille O'Neal and Glen Davis romp up and down the floor will wear on them (Shaq's a game time decision right now). Ray Allen and Rondo will like the fast pace just fine, but Paul Pierce doesn't prefer it. And in the meantime, Mike D'Antoni can ratchet up the speed without concern tonight. There's no need to try and slow down, play good defense, and play good solid traditional basketball. That's how Boston kills you. No, instead, D'Antoni can let loose the dogs of Madison Square Garden and go Four Seconds or Less. The faster the Knicks go, the better chance they have.
Boston's been nearly unbeatable his season, so they're still the clear favorite in this game. But while conventional wisdom says that a team with as solid of a defense as Boston should dominate a trigger-happy team like the Knicks, the evidence shows otherwise. Sometimes you've got to run if you want to get over the mountain, apparently.
Boston meets New York in Madison Square Garden Wednesday night.
Posted on: December 10, 2010 2:50 pm
Posted by Royce Young
It's never too early to start thinking about the All-Star Game. Well, I take that back. It probably is too early. But I wrote the body of this post before the intro so I'm pressing on anyway.
We're a quarter of the way done with the 2010-11 NBA season. Everybody has at least 20 games under their belt. We've learned a lot. The Heat can be good, the Spurs are great, the Lakers oddly struggle at times, Blake Griffin is exciting and Boston won't let you score... ever.
But on top of that, a few players have started that whole breakout thing. And a lot of the old good ones have stayed really good. The NBA truly has a ridiculous amount of talent right now. Seriously, this is a great time for the league. Except for that lockout stuff but I'm not going to mention that.
So because I think a lot about non-important things like the All-Star Game and Chick-Fil-A sauce, I began to notice how tough it's going to be to narrow down a 12-man roster for both conference. If there were an At The Quarter All-Star Team, it would already be quite a task to select that.
So naturally, here's my At The Quarter All-Star Teams:
PG: Deron Williams (21.8 ppg, 10.1 apg)
I'd say the starting Western point guard spot is the toughest to pick in the whole league. Look at the candidates: Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Stephen Curry. But Williams is the starters right now because he's commandeering an elite Western team, along with having terrific numbers.
SG: Kobe Bryant (26.6 ppg, 4.5 apg)
Kobe is the type of player that will probably be an All-Star Game starter for life since the fans vote make that happen, but it's well-deserved at this point. He's second in the league in scoring and is having a classic Kobe season. Big shots, big plays and big numbers on the biggest stage.
SF: Kevin Durant (27.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
By his standards, he's struggled a bit. His percentages are a bit down, he's missed a few games because of an ankle sprain and then a sore knee and he's seen his teammate Russell Westbrook steal some of his Thunder. But KD still leads the league in scoring and is still the leader on a very good Thunder team.
PF: Dirk Nowitzki (24.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg)
If I were voting, Dirk would be getting my MVP vote. Which would be weird because the season's only 25 percent done and I also don't have a vote. But Dirk is having one of his finest seasons and leading the hottest and second best team in the league (tied with Boston at 17-4). The Mavericks have found a new identity behind defense and ball pressure, but Dirk is the same old awesome Dirk.
C: Blake Griffin (20.0 ppg, 11.7 rpg)
Remember when the West used to be so stacked with big men that figuring out the starting front court was a nightmare? It's not that way anyone. There's been a shift to point guard in the West for those issues. But really, who do you start here? The best "center" is probably Tyson Chandler and maybe Al Jefferson right now. Both have been good, but I'm going to fudge and give it to Griffin. His numbers are worthy at 20-12, but he's everything that an All-Star should be. He has the league buzzing, every night is a potential highlight-fest and he's the most can't-miss guy going. To me, if we're selecting an All-Star team right now, he's got to be on it.
Russell Westbrook, PG: Westbrook leads Western point guards in scoring, plus he's got better "LeBron" numbers than LeBron at 23.7 ppg, 8.6 apg and 5.5 rpg.
Chris Paul, PG: Weird to have CP3 on the bench considering he's in the top two or three for MVP, but again, the West is stacked. His team's little slide lately isn't helping either.
Manu Ginobili, SG: The best team in the league doesn't have an MVP candidate? Who says so? Because Manu is certainly playing like one, at least in my mind.
Monta Ellis, SG: Ellis barely gets the nod over Eric Gordon who is also having a really good year. They score virtually the same amount but Ellis has simply been a bit more efficient.
Luis Scola, PF: The Rockets may be struggling and disappointing, but Scola hasn't. Coming off a big World Championships where he raised expectations for himself, Scola has lived up to it in every way.
Kevin Love, PF: He's leading the league in rebounding, and it's not close (15.5 per game, Joakim Noah is next at 12.3). This season there have been 11 20-20 games. Love has six of them.
Tyson Chandler, C: The last spot is where things get a bit hairy. Chandler has been having a re-birth of a season with the Mavericks, protecting the rim and playing solid offense. And just barely does he get the nod of Al Jefferson for the lone center on the roster simply because playing both ends counts for something.
Tough cuts: Stephen Curry, Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay.
PG: Derrick Rose (25.1 ppg, 8.1 apg)
Rose wondered why he couldn't be an MVP candidate before the season. And there's no doubt he should be, if only he could get his team to win a few more games. But he leads all point guards in scoring (fourth in the league) and is dishing out a career-high assist average. Rose is the total package right now at point and really, one of the top two or three players in the entire conference.
SG: Dwyane Wade (22.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg)
His numbers are down a bit, but there's an obvious reason why. I'll be honest, if there was another really impressive shooting guard in the East, Wade wouldn't be such a lock. But because the East is pretty thin there (Stephen Jackson? Ray Allen? Vince Carter?) Wade is the starter by default.
SF: LeBron James (24.1 ppg, 7.3 apg)
Despite what his numbers say, he's still the most talented and gifted player in the game. And it's not like the stats aren't excellent anyway. He's just set a bar so high for himself there that all of a sudden 24-7-5 doesn't look so great.
PF: Amar'e Stoudemire (25.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg)
Not only are the Knicks winning, but Amar'e has been fairly awesome this season. He's third in the league in scoring and has just broken a franchise record held by Bernand King for most consecutive games with 30 points (six). That's like, pretty good.
C: Dwight Howard (20.9 ppg, 12.1 rpg)
Forget the fact there's not a ton of competition here. Howard has maybe been the most productive NBA player this season. He's scoring at a career-high rate, plus putting up his typical big rebounding and blocked shots numbers. His developing post game is no joke and he's becoming the total package at center.
Rajon Rondo, PG: His 14.1 assists per game are obviously eye-catching, but he's also turning it over 4.0 times a game, second in the league.
Raymond Felton, PG: Yep, seriously. He's playing on a winning club and his numbers are great! No really, they are! Look at them, I promise I'm not lying!
Ray Allen, SG: Nothing spectacular from the league's best shooter, but his stats are solid, his team is good and he's already hit a number of big shots just a quarter of the way in.
Danny Granger, SF: Come real selection time, he might get squeezed for a bigger name, but he's made the team once. He's a great scorer and now that he's on a decent team, he's deserving.
Kevin Garnett, PF: As long as he's still moving his way up and down the court, he's an All-Star. Plus, don't look, but he's actually having a pretty darn good season.
Roy Hibbert, C: A chic pick for Most Improved, the 7'3 Pacer big man has a well-developed game. Post moves, power moves and even a distance jumpshot.
Andrea Bargnani, C: Probably a stretch especially since Al Horford likely deserves it more, but Barge Nanny is sixth in the East in scoring and in his last few games has really looked fantastic, punctuated by a 41-point explosion against the Knicks Wednesday.
Tough cuts: Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Paul Pierce, John Wall, Shaquille O'Neal
Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Danny Granger, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Luis Scola, Manu Ginobili, Monta Ellis, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Raymond Felton, Roy Hibbert, Russell Westbrook, Tyson Chandler
Posted on: December 10, 2010 11:25 am
Edited on: December 10, 2010 11:52 am
Posted by Royce Young
Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.
THE BIG ONE: DWIGHT NEEDS HELPThe Blazers locked down on the Magic, winning a defensive scrum 97-83, with the Magic scoring just 34 second half points. It's probably the best win (and most needed) win for Portland and a loss for Orlando that showcased a few issues.
Two main points that were highlighted really well in this game:
1) The Blazers can defend with the best of them. I think one of the most beautiful things to watch is Portland playing at home with a late lead. It's like watching the Pittsburgh Steelers milk a lead. The Blazers run the ball, take each possession seriously, but aren't afraid to punt. Portland is so ridiculously disciplined and every player understands the importance of never giving ground and never letting their man beat them.
One possession sticks out to me. The Magic had the ball on the left wing, with Jameer Nelson trying to feed Rashard Lewis in the post with the smaller Wesley Matthews guarding. Matthews of course is giving around five inches on Lewis. But not only could Nelson not get a clear entry look at Lewis, Matthews also had Lewis pushed all the way out near the 3-point line. There's just this, "I'm not going to let you score on me" mentality there.
2) The Magic need another scorer badly. Not to take anything away from the Blazers' defensive discipline and keep in mind most of the Magic roster is still battling a bit of the flu, but all of this was really aided by the fact the Magic can turn into a painfully one-dimensional team. The Blazers made a lot of that happen by taking away the drive and kick and forcing Orlando to work 20 seconds on the offensive end.
Portland was content letting Howard do his work in the post, rarely sending a double to help. Howard played really, really well but it's clear he's not the early decade Shaq. Early Decade Shaq would've had 50 in a game like this. His team could've just fed the post every time and relied on him to score. Howard doesn't have that ability. But then again, we're talking about Shaq, one of the three best centers ever.
Howard scored 26 points in the first half and finished with a season-high 39, but finished the game 2-8 from the field. Again, Portland let Howard do his work early and that led to a big Magic lead, but later in the game when things tightened up, Orlando just didn't have a clear option. The Magic went almost seven minutes in the fourth quarter without a field goal.
And the thing is, Orlando was determined to get the ball into Howard and his new and improved post game. But that meant they bypassed their bread and butter pick and roll. Again, Howard's not a consistent post scorer (yet). So there has to be an option for him to kick out to when things get shut down. Orlando can get away with this stuff against mediocre defenses, but against a group like the Blazers, everything gets exposed.
So again, it comes back to the help Howard needs. Vince Carter, Nelson, J.J. Redick -- someone -- had to step up and be able to score 10 fourth quarter points. 2008 Hedo Turkoglu was that guy for Orlando. Instead, the Magic suffered as their possessions were strung out, most of the time ending up with a long, contested jumper or a forced shot in the post. The next high scorer beside Howard was Lewis with 11. I think that says things well.
Is Gilbert Arenas the answer? Maybe. But at one point the TNT crew had Magic general manager Otis Smith standing, watching his unit toil away with yet another empty possession. And Smith had to be thinking about getting Howard some help. Clearly the team is an upper tier squad. They'll win 50 games in their sleep. But to win a title, they need help. It's going to be a risk, but it might be worth it for the potential reward.
GO-GO-GADGET LINESDwight Howard gets the gold star for the night with a season-high 39 points on 13-20 shooting, but more impressive was his 13-18 effort from the free throw line. Oh, and of course he added 15 rebounds and three blocks.
Runner-up: Rajon Rondo had another Rondo night with 19 points and 14 assists.
J.J. Barea gets a mention with 13 assists in just 27 minutes.
DRAWING UP A WIN FOR BOSTONThe Celtics and 76ers traded go-ahead buckets with under a minute left in really one of the most fun games of the season so far. And with the Sixers leading 101-100 with 6.6 seconds left, Boston called its last timeout and Doc Rivers went to drawing up a play.
I think everyone assumed it would be an isolation for Paul Pierce where he gets to the elbow for a game-winner. Instead, Pierce was decoyed in a faux pick and pop, while Rondo dished to Kevin Garnett for a game-winning layup.
After watching the play about 15 times, I still can't decide if that was just Rondo audibling out of the original play or if that was the way Rivers drew it up.
But the key is how Garnett shows a screen as Pierce comes for another on the other side. The Sixers likely anticipate the ball going to Pierce so Jrue Holliday switches to Garnett immediately. Rondo sees the mis-match and lobs the ball beautifully to Garnett for the winner. A lot of it was a nice design, some was poor decisions by Thaddeus Young and Holliday, but most of it was a great play by Rondo.
THIS ONE GOES TO 11The Mavericks took their winning streak to 11 games with a 102-89 take-care-of-business style home win over the Nets. Really, it was about as formulaic a game as you'd expect between an 18-4 team and a 6-17 team.
The Mavs led 30-19 after one and really just kind of played like a bully keeping the smaller kid at arms length. The Nets would edge back in the game and then Dirk Nowitzki would hit a jumper. Or Jason Kidd would hit a 3. Or the Nets would go five minutes without a field goal.
What's so impressive about the Mavs right now is that it almost seems easy. Dirk led them with 21, but it was on 8-10 shooting. After that, it was Shawn Marion with 18 off the bench, Jason Terry and Caron Butler with 15 apiece and then everyone else was in single-digits. But all 10 plays that played scored.
PARTING THOUGHTOn the wrong end of Garnett's game-winner though was a dejected, heartbroken Sixers team that really fought hard in a losing effort. Philly coach Doug Collins after the loss: "It's like a kick in the gut." The Sixers are now 1-11 in games decided by less than 10 points.
Posted on: December 10, 2010 9:34 am
Edited on: December 10, 2010 11:50 am
Shaq says Blake Griffin is "fabulous,' the Heat are working towards progress, and some in New Orleans want to save their Hornets.
Posted by Matt Moore
Posted on: December 9, 2010 8:17 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2010 8:17 pm
Who's the best team in the league? We answer that while Ken Berger discusses Georg Karl, Carmelo Anthony, and the situation in New Orleans in our weekly NBA Drive.
Posted by Matt Moore
So who's the best team in the league? We tried to break it down with Lauren Shehadi. Also, Ken Berger discusses the Hornets situation, George Karl, and the latest on Carmelo Anthony in our NBA video update.
"With a team like this, you have to look at how many leaders they have. They're stacked with guys who know how to win."
Posted on: December 9, 2010 8:45 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:24 pm
Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett tried to make things right with Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, after a controversy regarding a comment he made earlier this season calling Charlie Villanueva a "cancer patient." Posted by Ben Golliver.
Back in early November, Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett found himself in hot water after Detroit Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva accused Garnett of calling him a "cancer patient." Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, a cancer survivor, took issue with the comment, and while Garnett refused to apologize at the time, denying he called Villanueva a "cancer patient," he did try to make things right with Karl on Wednesday, when the Celtics hosted the Nuggets in Boston. Boston.com reports that Garnett sought out Karl after the game to clarify the situation.
"I went up to him as a man and what I said is that I had nothing personal toward him nor any other cancer patient that is out there struggling and dealing with life situations. I wanted to say that to him, man to man."Karl called it a "classy gesture" on Garnett's behalf, and it's safe to say that this episode is now officially closed. I'm not sure that we can go so far as to call this a "happy ending," but at least it's over. By the way, the Celtics beat the Nuggets, 105-89, denying Karl his 1,000th victory as an NBA coach. He will get another shot on Friday night when the Nuggets travel to Toronto to take on the Raptors.
Posted on: December 6, 2010 11:44 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:17 pm
Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett expresses questions about his future in the NBA because of the possibility of a lockout next season. Posted by Ben Golliver. Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett has done everything there is to do in the NBA: win a ring, put up monster numbers, make tons of all star games, cause a teammate to cry on the bench and insult Charlie Villanueva using one of the few words still deemed inappropriate by the American public. CelticsBlog.com transcribed comments made by Garnett, in which he raises the possibility that this could be his last season as a pro if there is a lockout next season.
At some point, especially with the lockout coming up...Who knows if this is my last year, or (if) we don't play next year, what it's going to be. So I'm trying to enjoy the guys now."
Garnett is 34 years old, and remains a productive player. His contract runs through next season.
But the combination of his entry to the league straight out of high school and 10 trips to the playoffs (11 if you count this season), make Garnett an old 34, a player certainly closing in on the twilight of his career. If his minutes were limited, perhaps he could hang on for a few more years but his market value once his current contract expires is bound to take a gigantic drop from the $21.2 millions Boston will pay him next year.
Given his fierce competitive nature, I could see the end of his career playing out in a number of different scenarios. Bouncing around from contender to contender, adding a veteran voice. Re-signing with the Celtics at a lowball price to hang on to the team's glory. Gracefully bowing out of the limelight at a high point. All seem like reasonable options, and all will likely remain in play, lockout or no lockout.
With that said, athletes don't just casually bring up the possibility of retirement, so it's worth keeping an eye on any other comments Garnett makes this season, particularly if he or the Celtics undergo some adversity. Regardless of how or when his career ends, one thing is for sure: Garnett is headed to the Hall of Fame.