Triangle Offense

Time to man up or time to pack up for ”the King” by thesportsminded

LeBron James is no doubt the Most Valuable Player of the regular season. He doesn’t seem like one yesterday when he needed to be the best player in the world in his own stage.

From the best record to the brink of elimination, that’s where the Cleveland Cavaliers are right now. Thanks to their lethargic game five and a disappearing act by their so called king.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not his biggest fan but I do respect his game and his capabilities. I even named him as my defensive player of the year besides being MVP. No doubt he is one of the best players in the world it’s just that there’s an issue of his play come May.

Yes yes, if you look at it two years, you would remember him shooting the lights out by himself as he single handedly demolished the Detroit Pistons in game five of their Eastern Conference Finals showdown in 2007 by pouring in 25 points in the fourth and in overtime to rescue his Cavs. Everyone remembers that.

Fast forward from three years ago, same month in another game five, LeBron played hot potato on his way to shooting 3 of 15, including 1 of 11 outside the shaded area, for 15 points. Not so MVP like.

James never got into any flow. He was passive throughout the game and looked like he didn’t want any piece of the ball at all when the Cs are making their big push. He attempted just four shots in the first half, didn’t make his first basket until late in the third period and essentially was a non-factor in the Cavs’ biggest and most important game of the season so far.

After that classic game three years ago that solidified him as one of the best, questions remain: did he grow up to be a better player and show more of his potential? absolutely. Did he grow up to be a leader and a winner when it matters the most? I don’t think so.

After watching game five yesterday, typical NBA fans wonder: where is the leadership? where is the best performance when your team needs it the most? Where is the MVP when its time to step up? He was nowhere to be found.

After logging the best record in the regular season for the second consecutive year, the LeBrons, who’re subject to change their monicker if their King leaves in July, are now in a win-or-go home situation again after dropping a pivotal game five at home against the aging but raging Celtics.

Oops, don’t get me wrong, I am not a Celtics fan. I hate the Celtics for that matter. It’s just that they peaked at the right time compared to their foes who are seemingly lost when the calendar turns May. Their choke job last year against the Magic is a perfect example about this team’s character. James also had a lukewarm performance last year in their do-or-die game six in that said series.

So what’s the matter with LeBron? He is a good player, no he is one of the best players, but somehow something is missing when push comes to shove. He just didn’t seem to have the winning swagger required to win a championship. He just didn’t want it as much as Jordan wanted it. He just didn’t want it as much as Magic wanted it. He just didn’t want it as much a Bird did. He just didn’ want it as much as Kobe did. He just didn’t want it as much as Wade did.

Here’s what he said after his dismal game yesterday:

”Me? Personally?” he said. ”Nah, I’m not disappointed. I’m never disappointed in my play. I feel like I could do more but I’m not disappointed at all.”

Wow. Seriously? Dude, you’re playing game five of the East Semis at home with the series tied 2-2 and you were virtually a non-factor. Come on, you’re the MVP. So much for your injured elbow and lack of supporting cast.

”I’ve got a handicap sticker on,” he yelled to his teammates. ”You’ve got to give me special privileges.”

This isn’t exactly the time for excuses. He can’t use his injured elbow as an excuse but he did. Kobe and Wade never made their injuries an issue. He can’t use his lack of supporting cast an issue, you just gotta win a ring with all those stars in by your side. Maybe he can use the ”Mo is just a great player in the regular season and a no one come post season,”  tag but that’s not how it should be if he wants to win a ring.

He just needs to suck everything up, man up to everything he says and just show that he wants a ring more than anyone. He just needs to man up. As long as he doesn’t have that ”I’ll win at all cost” mentality, it just wouldn’t work for him. Yes, even if he moves to New York in July.

And oh, he cares about his upcoming free agency as much as he cares about winning a ring. See the point?

He has every God given talent in the sport and a potential to be one of the all-time greats but critics just can’t help to question his will to be a winner. The sad thing is that he acts as if he had already won something.

James is still at the peak of his youthful zest. He has every potential to be ranked among the likes of Jordan, Magic, and Bird. I’m just not sure if he wants it. Unless he wins, you just can’t compare him to those guys. Not yet, or not at all if he won’t man up to the plate.

The series is not over. At least not yet. Anyone who says it’s over after game five is out of his mind. This is a best-of-seven series. The Cavs have all the power in their hands to win two in a row, yes even game six in Boston. They have every bit of tool to go all the way. But until James learn what it takes to be a winner, don’t expect the Cavs to advance. I’m just not sure if James has it in him to go all out for a ring.

Personally, I want Cleveland to win because we, the Laker nation, want them in June this time around. I’m just not sure if they’ll make it past May.


NBA Playoffs 2010 Analysis and Predictions (1st Round) by thesportsminded

Down the drain goes the regular season and off to the post season we go as the most awaited battle royale starts Sunday.

Here’s my ten cents worth of analysis and predictions regarding the playoff match ups:

Wild Wild West:

#1 Los Angeles Lakers (57-25) vs #8 Oklahoma City Thunder (50-32)

This would be an exciting series despite it being billed as a #1 vs #8 match up. This also means the Black Mamba vs Durantula. Don’t get me wrong, Oklahoma will play their hearts out and come out tough against the defending champs. They are talented and a scrappy youthful team that could give the Lakers some problems but I just don’t think they’re ripe enough to take a series. They even whooped LA’s ass in Oklahoma last month. I think the Lakers’ depth and playoff experience would be the difference. Also, Ron Artest should prove his worth in this team and contain Durant. That would be an acid test for him. People can talk about their recent slump but I think Phil and Kobe had enough of that and for them, this is where it matters. The Thunder can take a game or two but there’s no way they can beat the Lakers four times in a series.


#2 Dallas Mavericks (55-27) vs #7 San Antonio Spurs (50-32)

On papers, a number #2 seed should have a walk in the park against a #7 seed but not on this one. There’s no question that the Mavs, with all the moves they did before the trade deadline, put themselves in a position where they can contend better for a spot in June but that’s no easy task especially with a team who’s battle tested and won four titles the past decade. This rematch of last year’s playoffs would be an all-out war from start to finish. Manu Ginobili is playing like his old self the past two months and Tony Parker is coming back from his injury. The Spurs are geared up to get revenge from there first round exit last round however they would have to deal with Jason Kidd’s timeless leadership and Dirk Nowitzki’s unstoppable offense. Great technical series here but I think the difference is Greg Popovich over Rick Carlisle.


#3 Phoenix Suns (54-28) vs #6 Portland Trail Blazers (50-32)

I said before that the Suns won’t get past the first round but I’ll take that back because of this match up. Alvin Gentry said that they want the Blazers in the first round and I agree. I think this is the match up where they would be able to use their strength, which is its patented run and gun style. We all know how depleted the Blazers are since the start of the season plus its main man Brandon Roy is questionable for this series. I think Roy’s health would be the key if this series would be long or short-lived. If the Suns faces either Utah or Denver, they are a shoe in first round exit but lucky for them they beat the Jazz and grabbed the #3 seed.


#4 Denver Nuggets (53-29) vs #5 Utah Jazz (53-29)

This would be a great series. I think these two teams are battle tested and equipped to go to war against each other. They both reached the conference finals once the past four years, Nuggets last year and the Jazz in 2007. Deron Williams vs Chauncey Billups would be amazing. Two of the best court generals in the game will out think each other here. The key would for Utah is the execution of there system and stopping the offensive onslaught of guys like Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith. On the other hand, Denver is dealing with the in-and-out status of George Karl. George Karl’s status would be the key if Denver should go deep in the playoffs again this year. For this one, I think the Jazz would slightly edge them. One thing is for sure, this would be a war.



#1 Cleveland Cavaliers (61-21) vs #8 Chicago Bulls (41-41)

I am glad that the Bulls made the playoffs instead of the Raptors because they would provide more of a challenge for the Cavs. For the second straight year the Cavs gain the best record with excellent team play and excellent usage of LeBron James, the MVP ofcourse. The Cavs are far more talented and complete than the Bulls but I think the exuberant Bulls would somehow make this series exciting and bring the fight to the Cavs. They have the length and athleticism to offer but I just don’t think if the fight they would bring is enough to threten the Cavs the way they did Boston last year.


#2 Orlando Magic (59-23) vs #7 Charlotte Bobcats (44-38)

The Magic have been on a roll to finish the season and I think it would continue leading up to this series. The Bobcats are quite a different team with Larry Brown and Stephen Jackson’s arrival as they made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. I just don’t think the team is deep enough to deal with the Magic’s all-around game. Dwight Howard, despite his woeful shooting, would be a handful for the Bobcats and I don’t think there’s anyone in them who can at least contain this beast in the paint.


#3 Atlanta Hawks (53-29) vs #6 Milwaukee Bucks (46-36)

This would have been a great competitive series if Andrew Bogut will play for the Bucks but since he’s not, don’t expect this one to be thrilling. The Bucks had a magical and a renaissance of a season this year with the emergence of former #1 pick Bogut and rookie sensation Brandon Jennings but they are not the same without its best player. Nevermind the injury prone Michael Redd, Bogut showed this season that it is his team along with Jennings and without him there’s no way they can surpass the Hawks. The Hawks’ wing players would have an easy time penetrating in this series.


#4 Boston Celtics (50-32) vs #5 Miami Heat (47-35)

This is the series that I am looking forward to in the East. I believe that this would be a crazy series. With the way they’re playing this season, the Cs proved that they are no longer the champion team two years ago. They also proved that they can be beaten at home anytime by any team, just ask the Wizards. I think Dwyane Wade would run circles around Boston’s defense because that defense isn’t anywhere near it used to be two years ago. However, the Celtics still have that ring experience and the veteran materials to move forward but the Heat have the best player in this series.


Let’s get the playoffs rollin’! Real season starts Sunday!

Who are in this year’s NBA honor roll? by thesportsminded

With less than three weeks before the real season begins, it’s time to give credit to the players and coaches who made a big mark this season in putting their teams where they stand today. The battle royal starts April 18 but the teams are still jockeying for playoff positions as the regular season winds up. Cleveland will not have the best record right now if not for that freak of nature. Oklahoma City’s stunning leap wouldn’t be possible without proper handling and especially without that versatile player they have out of Texas. Milwaukee won’t be where they are right now if not for a former number one pick living up to his hype. It’s time to put credit where credit is due.

Here are my ten cents worth regarding this season’s NBA awardees:

Coach of the Year: Scott Brooks (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Runner up: Scott Skiles (Milwaukee Bucks)

The significant and vast improvement of the Thunder is very evident this season as they have finally found a way to maximize their young guns and turn it into success. Guiding and teaching a young team isn’t easy but Scott Brooks is doing a fine job in transforming his young talented players into young talented winners. Oklahoma is having a blast this season and their coach should be credited for it. Prior to this season, I know that the Thunder doesn’t lack talents with guys like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green coming in but I didn’t expect them to be this good this early. It’s about jelling and converting those talents into wins and that’s what Brooks did this year. He proved that a mix of youthful talents can work and march to the post season. Oklahoma is 46-28 so far and shows no signs of slowing down heading into the playoffs.

Most Improved Player of the Year: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Runner up: Andrew Bogut (Milwaukee Bucks)

Can anyone name a player who deserves this award more than KD? Yeah, that’s what I thought. I watched this guy tear his opponents apart in leading his Texas Long Horns back in 2007. I knew that he will be way, I mean way way, better than Greg Oden that’s why I’m surprised during that ’07 draft that the Blazers picked a injury prone work in progress over a proven winner. I knew back then that Durant will be a huge force to reckon with but I didn’t expect it to be this fast. Well, no further explanations needed for this one. 29.6 ppg (2nd best), 7.6 rpg, 47.6% fg, 46-28 record for OKC. That explains it.

Sixth Man of the Year: Jamal Crawford (Atlanta Hawks)

Runner Up: Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs)

After his move to Atlanta, Jamal Crawford knows that he is now playing for a legit playoff contender and he also knows that something’s got to give in his game for the team to move forward. Crawford, a scoring machine in his previous teams, embraced and accepted his role as the team’s premier sixth man and it is doing wonders for the Hawks. They got Crawford to deepen their team and expand their chances in the playoffs against perennial contenders like the Celtics, the Cavs, and the Magic. So far so good. Crawford has given the Hawks a big spark of the bench on a daily basis plus he also provides some clutch scoring when needed during the stretch. No doubt he will be the key if the Hawks are to overcome the top contenders come playoff time.

Defensive Player of the Year: LeBron James

Runner up: Dwight Howard

I am not exactly LeBron James’ number one fan but I respect his game and I respect what he can do. He is a monster defensively and he upped that this year to surpass Dwight Howard.

Rookie of the Year: Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)

Runner up: Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings)

If you read my status message in facebook five months ago, I stated that Stephen Curry will be this season’s rookie of the year. I stand by that. Some people will raise their eyebrows on this one and say that Tyreke Evans deserves it more but I beg to disagree. This year’s rookies are led by great class of guards such as Curry, Evans, Brandon Jennings, Johny Flynn, Ty Lawson, Darren Collison, Eric Maynor, James Harden. In those mentioned, Curry and Evans are obviously the top guns. Fanatics are talking all season long about how great  Evans is and I agree with that. It’s just that those fanatics sometimes forget to watch Curry showcase his skills and help his team. Curry is a beauty to watch as he can pass, he can score, he can play the point efficiently, he has composure, he has that textbook  release and he has been consistent as well. This kid is for real and will be one of the top point guards in the league for years to come. It is close but I’ll put my money on this Davidson standout. 16.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 5.6, apg, 1.8 spg

All NBA First Team:

Center: Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic)

Forward: Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)

Forward: LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Guard: Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)

Guard: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)

All NBA Second Team:

Center: Andrew Bogut (Milwaukee Bucks)

Forward: Amare Stoudemire (Phoenix Suns)

Forward: Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets)

Guard: Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)

Guard: Deron Williams (Utah Jazz)

All NBA Third Team

Center: Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers)

Forward: Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors)

Forward: Joe Johnson (Atlanta Hawks)

Guard: Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets)

Guard: Steve Nash (Phoenix Suns)

No Brandon Roy for me this year as well as KG and TD. Nash’s Suns are far more consistent than Roy’s Blazers.

Most Valuable Player: LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Runner up: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)

As we know, being the most valuable player is like being a valedictorian. This will be a comfortable win for LeBron as he showed consistency and versatility throughout the season for the succeeding years. With the Cavs being the top team right now, I think 80% of the credit should go to this freak of nature. He leads the league in scoring and is producing his usual numbers. Everyone knows he can do everything on the hardwood. He showed it this regular season in leading his team but the question is: Can he lead his team to play in June this time around? That we don’t know yet but we know one thing. He will receive his plum for the second consecutive season.


Unofficial Awards:

Most disappointing team: Los Angeles Lakers

Yes yes, I know they are number one in the West the entire season and would most probably stay there but everyone knows they are playing subpar. Inconsistent. No fire. No urgency. No passion. No hunger. A Kobe and Phil led team shouldn’t be like this. It is annoying that when you that a defending champion, who arguably have the strongest line up on papers, play subpar and just be contented. It’s simple—— they need to turn on the switch now if they wish to play in June for the third straight year.

Most disappointing player: Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers)

Iggy isn’t exactly having his best season. The Sixers are projected to at least contend for a playoff spot but they didn’t show any signs of it througout the season. Iguodala’s game dropped and he obviously can’t jell with Elton Brand and can’t work around Eddie Jordan’s princeton offense.

Forget about player of the year: Sasha Vujacic (Los Angeles Lakers)

The only thing he did all season long is capture Maria Sharapova’s heart and argue with his coaching stuff. His jumpshot will not be back. Don’t expect ”the machine” to charge his batteries anytime soon.

Cluch player of the year: Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)

Six game-winner this season. Who else is more clutch?

Performance of the year: Brandon Jennings’ 55 point explosion

He proved that he is a reliable point that can score. But after that magical night, people expected him to be a score-first point guard which he is not. That is an amazing performance that won’t earn him rookie of the year. I believe Curry and Evans are a bit better overall.

Inspiring player of the year: Sundiata Gaines (Utah Jazz)

Nothing more inspiring than hitting a game-winner a few days after joining an NBA squad.

Surprise team of the year: Milwaukee Bucks

No, not Oklahoma. They have the tools it’s just about execution. The Bucks doesn’t exactly have the best roster at the start of the season. Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings just showed their true worths and led this team not only to respectability but to the playoffs with quite a good seed. Plus, John Salmons’ signing would just help this resurrected team further.