Wednesday, January 14, 2009

15 Footer: VOLTRON Edition

The HP cast, together as one. It's a beautiful thing.


With Or Without You (Portland at Philadelphia) (Rob):

Philly is in a pretty awkward position. They've surged with Brand out, which shouldn't indicate that Brand is a bane or a cancer or some kind of black hole, but he may still be clogging the lanes and stopping the ball. The comfort level for this team is obviously a state of playing in which they scrap, claw, and rotate ad infinitum, without any coherent, tangible plan for "go time" aside from "let's get the ball to Iggy." Or is this team just rolling right now? Their style seems different (well, duh), but their level of focus and intensity seems relatively consistent with their efforts on the season. Sometimes a guy is a bad fit. And sometimes he squashes a team's momentum and chemistry despite being an alleged nice guy and a 20-10 all-star caliber big man. The league is completely screwy in that way. But like it or not, he's still a Sixer, and he will be until the cows come home, live long, natural lives, die, and yet live onward through generation upon generation of cow offspring. I think he's a free agent in 2018. So with the team clicking and a chance to start bringing Brand in slowly off the bench rather than throwing him into the thick of things, maybe this type of situation is exactly what Philly needs. Or will need.

Oh yeah, but they'll run into a brick wall against Portland. They're streaking, but you can't streak through brick.

Welcome to the Flustercluck (Chicago at Toronto) (Rob):

Hinrich's back! Deng's back! And that means rotation hell for Coach Vinny after he's already in way over his head! This is awesome! So does this mean less Rose or less Gordon? Less Hughes or less Thabo? If you know, please, by all means, tell me. I mean, I know what I would do. And I know what Vinny should do. But what coaches should do from a pure basketball standpoint and what they actually end up doing aren't exactly similar -- there are just too many extraneous factors to muddle things up.

Who would have thought that these teams would have nearly identical records at this point? It's a crazy world out there kids, and the Raps certainly know that now. Calderon is an excellent passer. He's not all that sexy, and that's fine. But the problem with slow of foot plane Jane players like Jose is that they're not going to be able to get things done if you rely on them to be your second best player. It's still a league of athleticism, and though Calderon is a tremendous athlete in terms of precision and a honed skill, he lacks the lateral speed and explosiveness that you need for a truly dominant point guard. I don't want to say that he's been "exposed," because that's not necessarily fair or true. But the Raps had been relying on him way too much, and when that pivotal part of the Raps' "attack" was suddenly removed, his flaws as a franchise point guard become irrelevant. This team needs bodies, and they're not exactly in a position to cope with what's going down.

Maybe I've Been Here Before, I Know This Room I've Walked This Floor (Detroit at Indiana) (Rob):

Curry, look. Your "small ball" shenanigans have run their course. I'm tired of this. Trading for AI doesn't give you an excuse to nerf your team by catering to egos. You're a big boy, your players are big boys. You need to stroke and cater to those egos sometimes, but this Pistons team has a chance to be legitimately special if they just stick to a more conventional approach. Iverson's been about as efficient as your run-of-the-mill self-entitled rec league jumpshooter. Rip is still coming back from injury. For the sake of all that is good and holy in this basketball universe, START A REAL POWER FORWARD. PLAY A REAL POWER FORWARD FOR REAL POWER FORWARD MINUTES. I love Tayshaun, but he is really, really, really not the answer.

Danny Granger needs a nickname. Badly. Get on that, readers.

The Atlantic Chemistry Solvent (New Jersey at Boston) (Matt):

The Celtics figured out how to get back on track. Beat the living hell out of Atlantic teams that can't match up. Earlier this week it was Toronto. Now it's New Jersey. Though Devin Harris will remind them that no matter how good Rondo is, he's not great, the rest of this team is badly outmatched, save Carter. He should be able to get some things going, but Brook Lopez is not having another career game against Boston's interior defense. But hey, CDR might play! /crickets //crickets, crickets

I Remember The Days Of The Old SchoolYard (When We Sucked Worse Than You) (Washington at New York) (Matt):

The Knicks are respectable even though Stephon Marbury is still on the roster and the Wizards are not even with the big three still on roster. Oh, the wacky world we live in. The Wizards have been close to a win several times, but keep finding new ways to screw it up. Meanwhle the Knicks knocked off the Hornets for their bi-monthly "win they have no business getting" win. I like the Wizards tonight, because even with David Lee showing off for the trade deadline, Al Harrington's gone back to suck, and Caron Butler has to be tired of this silliness. I expect an Epic Vale beatdown this evening.

You Are Also Cold And Start With M. We Shall Destroy You As Well. (Miami at Milwaukee) (Matt):

"Erased" is my current favorite block term. And Wade has been erasing people inside the last two minutes on the weak side. Combine that with Beasley's newfound ability to stand still and hit shots Wade gives him, and Marion playing like, you know, Shawn Marion, and these guys are not to be messed with. But this is the back end of a road trip back-to-back, it was a physical game last night, and the Bucks have an actual reliable frontcourt, top to bottom. Milwaukee hangs close, pulls forward, then hitches its waggons to Redd in the last quarter, Milwaukee skates away. Miami also needs the All-Star break bad. Or a center. Either one.

You (I) Are (Am) Terrible At Defense (Utah at Oklahoma City) (Matt):

The Jazz win, because OKC is terrible. However, its on the road, where the Jazz are 7-11 (a championship contender? Are you kidding me?) Millsap may be back tonight, but Boozer is still out. Lucky for them, the Thunder have Durant, Westbrook, and a whole big pile of nothing. Jazz show why they are definitely going to the second round of the playoffs tonight.

I Seem To Remember You, Ah, Yes, You Were That Thing I Ran Over (NOLA at Dallas) (Matt):

New Orleans will be angry after a lackluster loss to the Knicks. The Mavs are reeling, bleeding from every pore. The Hornets have a better center, an equal power forward who knows how to get in Dirk's head, and a better point guard. Unless Brandon Bass has himself a 25/15 night, there's going to be a lot of panic button pressing in Dallas, unless they have another blown call to blame it on.

3 Is Better Than 2... That's Math! (Lakers at Spurs) (Corn):

If you look at the Spurs results from the past 2 months, you notice once small trend - Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are dominating. And, judging by their second place record in the West, it has worked out alright. Ginobli still isn't at 100% and the newcomers are helping out (Mason, Hill) but you still get the sense that if you cut off one of the 2 Ts, you can handle the Spurs. Coincidentally, LA has enough people to cut both of them off, plus Pop, plus the waterboy and half the cheerleading squad (Odom). The Lakers are moving the ball extremely well and have found a (relative) toughness and intensity that was noticeably lacking last year. They don't get as nasty as San Antonio, but to pull this one out in the heart of Texas tonight, they might just need Kobe to put on his sh#tkickers and, well, kick some sh*t in the face of the Spurs.

Also, Kobe will NOT be looking ahead to his matchup against Lebron in a few days. So don't hang your hats on that Spurs fans. Even though he is, in my opinion, the second best player in the league right now, Kobe will assuredly will himself to a focused performance tonight. */goes to shower because he feels like one of those Kobe lovers

My Suck Is Better Than Your Suck (Sacramento at Golden State) (Corn):

Except the Opposite

Not much to talk about here. Lots of scoring. No defense. The Oracle. K-Mart on Maggette (ewww, sounds like something Eddy Curry would like). All in all, you could most likely watch this game in highlight clips and envision the entire 48 minutes. Also, Monta rumors!

This Team With No Future Is Really Interesting To Watch Play (Atlanta at LA Clippers) (Corn):

Moore and I had a debate the other night about which team in the NBA had the dimmest future. We concluded it was the Clips. Other teams are either/and younger, with more long term cap space, better coaching or give a flying crap. The Clippers have none. Besides Thornton and Gordon (who is fulfilling my prophecy!) the rest of the Clips are burnt out and looking for ways to skip town. Although it wouldn't be surprising to see some of these elder Clip floating around in trade talks... Actually, that would be the only thing about this team that isn't surprising, well, except for the SUCK.

Back to Backs on the West Coast for the Hawks do not sit pretty, but at least they get Phoenix then LAC and not the other way around. Josh Smith is a one man basketball thriller. Expect him to shine bright in Staples tonight.

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