REASONS TO WATCH THE GAMES OF THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION TONIGHT:
I'm No Superman (Orlando at Atlanta):
I'm No Superman (Orlando at Atlanta):
Dwight Howard is Dwight Howard. He's a phenomenally talented guy, his dunks make grown men shed a tear, and his looming potential for real post development is like watching the beginning of the Reign of Terror in slow motion. But his game is only the tip of the iceberg, with his unparalleled charisma often taking center stage. It's that facet of his being that has transformed him from "up and comer"/"talented big fella" to superduperstar/leading ASG vote getter. He's developing his name, developing his brand, and hopefully developing his game. But probably positioned exactly opposite of him, sitting on the opposite side of the opposite locker room, is a proven commodity whose star doesn't shine as brightly because he doesn't make an effort to point all eyes on him. I know the whole "woe is Joe Johnson" thing is as overplayed as it is melodramatic, but I still feel obligated to show the guy some love for he is and who he's been since his Phoenix days. There's no doubt he's become more comfortable in his own skin over the last few seasons; one can only hope that the casual viewers become more comfortable with him from the outside.
...We've Gone Too Far (Toronto at Washington):
I totally forgot to write this preview. Oh well.
I Believe in a Thing Called Augustin (Charlotte at Cleveland):
D.J. Augustin. Around mid-season last year, I was sold on the fact that he would not be able to overcome the bigger, stronger, faster, cooler competition of the NBA. Good against college players is one thing, but good against NBAers? That's something else. But just prior to draft time, I had an epiphany. D.J. appeared to me in a dream, draped in white robes, bearing a basket of fresh fruit and Ring Pops. He smiled at me, and reached out his hand as to say, "Dude, come on." So I listened. He's a legit NBA point guard, and though defense may never be his specialty, he's a natural leader, hits big shots, and puts his teammates in positions to do amazing things. Who knows how Felton/Augustin will function for the long haul, but if they can play just a shade under the level they played against the Celtics last night on a semi-consistent basis, that's good enough for me. Well, it's good enough to make me not want to tear my hair out. I don't mean to leave the Cavs out here, but I'm still riding the high from last night's overtimer. And, funny as it is, I've lost a little bit of respect for LeBron for his crab dribble shenanigans. It's a travel. Seriously. I gave him the benefit of the doubt the night of, because anyone can get worked up after a tough loss like that. Even after the game, your judgment may be clouded. Two days later, that excuse doesn't quite work. We've heard your argument, we heard you say it's your "signature move." My advice is to find a new one, because where I come from (America), that's a M.F. travel.
Why Do Work That's Already Done? (Houston at Boston):
No matter what I write here about the Celtics and the Rockets, it would likely pale in comparison to Shoals' piece this morning. The Rockets foster a bastardized version of Ubuntu; I dig, I dig.
OJ is Coheed and Rudy is Cambria (Memphis at New Jersey):
This is What Happens When There Are Lots of Games On (Philadelphia at Milwaukee):
Inevitably, one game kinda sucks. The Sixers are playing better of late. The Bucks are still better than I ever thought they would be. And yet, be it the fact that I'm feeling slightly ill or maybe slightly sane, I don't know that I could make myself watch this game. The others have some measure of intrigue, some draw that would be able to keep my attention for 48 gametime minutes. But the Sixers...against the Bucks? I like Charlie V, I guess, and Redd's alright. Thad the Impaler is a household favorite. But there is just too much going on elsewhere to really give a flying expletive about this one, so move along, sir, move along.
We're Going Streaking! (OKC at Minnesota):
If there was ever a chance for the Thunder to put together that ever-elusive two wins in a row, it would be consecutive games against the Knicks and Wolves. Yes offense. The Thunder have a chance to pull a reverse Bobcats, in a way. Rather than taking on the mighty, mighty Cavs after Daviding the Celtics, the Thunder have the distinct privilege of playing against a Kevin McHale coached team. Midseason schedulers were kind, indeed. But oddly enough, Minny has been on their own tear of late, winning three in a row and four of their last five. Is it actually possible that moving Foye off the ball more and more has become the start of something beautiful? Don't hold your breath, but at the very least it should bump his FG% and put the ball in the hands of a more natural passer. Then again, that "natural passer" is Sebastian Telfair, so be optimistic as your own risk.
It's Gonna Be Awesome, Baby! (Miami at Denver):
And that's all I have to say about that.
Oh Dunleavy, Where Art Thou? (Indiana at Phoenix):
Phoenix will win this one easily regardless, but it's always fun to watch the longing in Nash's eyes when a team without a true back-to-the-basket post presence just tries to run the Suns out of the gym. Still, I have to wonder: is this the game where we finally see MDJr back in action? Have we all forgotten just how great he was in Indy last season?
Heartbeat City, Here We Come (New Orleans at Utah):
NOLA's game against the Lakers was no doubt draining. It took everything the Hornets had, and it took superhuman efforts from their biggest stars. Plus, the fact that Deron Williams has a proven track record against Paul surely complicates things. Even after typing all that, I have no problem saying that the Hornets take this one in SLC. It might just be a hunch, but I vote that NOLA rides the wave of euphoria from last night's contest to really stick it to a decidedly Boozerless Jazz squad. I don't care that Deron traditionally has fared well against CP3, and perhaps matches up better than any point guard in the league. This game is going to come down to peripherals, and I'm counting on the Hornets at the spotlight's edge to step up big in this one. No heartbreak for Orleans, only the steady heartbeat keeping pace.
Kenny Loggins Gives Killer NBA Analysis (Detroit at Portland):
I mean, that makes sense...right?
This Match-up Needs More Phil Collins (LAL at Golden State):
Okay, that one didn't make sense.