Houston Rockets (56-26) vs. Dallas Mavericks (50-32)
Dating back to the T-Mac & Yao collapse against Dallas, maybe even before then the Mavs and Rockets have had a huge disdain for each other. The owners dislike each other. The players dislike each other. Simply put, everyone within each organization dislikes the other. Basketball aside these two cities often get in disputes on which city is the best in Texas. This matchup gives us our first series that features two rivals……. Man this is going to be fun.
The Rockets haven’t been healthy for most of the season and made a few in season acquisitions to shake up an injury riddled roster. Houston brought in power-forward Josh Smith and ex-Maverick (championship squad) Corey Brewer. MVP candidate James Harden kept the Rockets afloat while Dwight Howard was out of the lineup due to a few nagging injuries. With Harden playing at an MVP level, Brewer and Smith leading the bench and Dwight Howard back from injury the Rockets are going to be a tough out.
The Mavericks, like the Rockets, also made a few moves. The Mavs traded for point guard Rajon Rondo and signed forward Amare’ Stoudamire mid way through the season. Before the trade the Mavs were arguably the best offensive team in basketball. After the trade however, the Mavs took a step back in all aspects of the game. With that being said the Mavericks finished the season on a minor role going 4-1 in their last five games.
PG: J.Terry vs. R.Rondo
SG: J.Harden vs. M.Ellis
SF: T.Ariza vs C.Parsons
PF: D.Montiejunas vs. D.Nowitzki
C: D.Howard vs. T.Chandler
Mark Cuban has already started the war of words. He claimed Houston wasn’t a good team outside of James Harden and they are a very predictable foe….. Back during free agency Rockets GM, Daryl Morey, said that Chandler Parsons wasn’t a max guy and basically dissed him. To rev things up even more the Rockets traded for ex-Mav Jason Terry knowing they had intentions of bringing him back….
During the regular season the Rockets beat the Mavericks 3 out of 4 times. The games were competitive but Harden just seemed to be too much for the Mavs. There shouldn’t be much stock put into that record though knowing the Mavs are a different club in the postseason.
The Rockets are an explosive team that relies on shooting the three and getting to the free throw line. In this specific series they can’t be a run and gun team. They have to defend and dominate the inside. If Dwight can have his way with Chandler and he dominates the glass the Mavs won’t be able to pose much of a threat. (Horrible rebounding squad.) The Mavericks also don’t have a player that can guard Harden one on one. His size alone is another aspect of the game Houston should take advantage of.
The Mavericks are a better offensive and defensive team than the Rockets. The main problem they have is being consistent. In order to beat the Rockets the Mavericks need to force someone other than Harden to score. If they can make shots consistently, rebound and defend Harden the Mavericks will win the series. It’s time for playoff Rondo and playoff Rick Carlisle. If Carlisle’s schemes are being run to near perfection and Rondo is right this series will end quickly.
Prediction Mavericks upset the Rockets 4-2. The Mavericks have more experience and in my eyes just might be the better team in general. Houston lives and dies by the three and they have no clear cut 2nd option to be exact. Harden still has to prove himself to be a playoff guy and Dwight has to prove he’s serious about winning. Too much trying to prove and won’t be enough doing. The Mavericks have it.
During the 90’s New York and Indiana met six different times in the Playoffs. Each series was intense, entertaining and deserved an encore. After 10+ years of not meeting each other in the Playoffs, the Knicks and Pacers now have a chance rekindle the old but great rivalry.
In the series against Atlanta, Indiana struggled on the road; they also struggled to score. Atlanta gave them hell on the defensive side of the ball, by suffocating the bigs inside and making life tough on Paul George. Without Paul George and his play making ability, Indiana struggled to generate any type of offense. In Atlanta, Indiana seemed to play a level down. They wouldn’t score as good; they would defend as well; and they didn’t make smart decisions. It seemed as if they were overwhelmed by Atlanta’s home crowd. Even with those difficulties they eked out of the series in 6 games. But, with those two problems their chances of beating New York may be hampered.
The Knicks,on the other hand have a couple of minor issues. Those issues are Carmelo Anthony and J.R Smith. In Games 4, 5 and 6 against Boston New York’s offense became stagnant when the ball was in their hands. They would force shots that weren’t there and wouldn’t make the right decisions. Other than the minor problems offensively the Knicks don’t have much to worry about.
If scoring on Atlanta was tough the Pacers have alot to worry about; New York’s defense is alot tougher than Atlanta’s and can suffocate players defensively ( just ask Paul Pierce.) On the defensive side of the ball Indiana doesn’t have to worry about points in the paint as much. All they have to worry about is the perimeter. If they’re able to keep close out on the 3’s and keep Melo on his heels the Pacers should be able to win this series.
For the Knicks to win this series they’ll have to establish an inside presence. ( I’m looking at you Amare’.) Perimeter oriented teams won’t beat Indiana unless they score inside as well. On the defensive side of the ball New York is going to in trouble. With an undersized lineup Roy Hibbert and David West should be able to have their way inside, especially when Melo is at the four.
This should be a physical, ugly series. The scores aren’t going to be pretty and no one is going to be lighting it up. After 7 hard fought games Indiana should upset the Knicks, because of their bigmen. But if New York is able to knock down their shots and contain David West and Hibbert the series could very well be different. The likelihood of that happening for four games is very low. Therefore the Pacers should win in 7.
Analysis of the and Bulls-Heat ( http://wp.me/p33YLP-5A)
Analysis of the Warriors-Spurs ( http://wp.me/p33YLP-4a)
For the last couple of years Kobe and his play has put fans and analysts in a bad mind frame. Before this season started there was talk of Kobe Bryant showing his age and slowly becoming a second tier player.
The talk first started two seasons ago after Kobe and his Lakers got swept by the Dallas Mavericks. In that series against Dallas, Kobe wasn’t able to carry his team to victories. In the first two games of that series Kobe got out played by Dirk in crunch time. Kobe was also getting beat by J.J Barea and Jason Terry whenever he guarded them. And last but not least, Kobe couldn’t get the looks he wanted because of the tough defense being played by Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd and Deshawn Stevenson. After the series concluded we found out Kobe was playing on one knee and messed up his ankle. So not only was he showing his age, his body was deteriorating.
During that offseason Kobe went to Germany and had knee surgery on his ailing knee. After the surgery there was talk of Kobe showing some spark and playing younger. After hearing that fans of Kobe ,and others, became excited about the upcoming season. But during the pre-season Kobe tore a ligament in his wrist that happened to be on his shooting hand. Despite the injury Kobe played and turned some heads. During that season Kobe averaged: 28pts 5reb 5ast 30% 3pt 43% FGP 84% FT in 39mpg. Compared to the 25pts 5reb 5ast 32% 3PT 45% FGP 83% FT in 34mpg Yes his scoring went up but his efficiency went down; which meant he wasn’t getting easy looks. So instead of raving about the scoring he was doing people knocked him for being slower and inefficient.
During the Playoffs last season Kobe’s age got to him. In the series against OKC Kobe got out played by Durant, James Harden and Westbrook. During the 4th Quarters Kobe couldn’t close like he used to; Kobe couldn’t defend; Kobe couldn’t get the looks he wanted; Kobe couldn’t make the plays that needed to be made. As a result Kobe and the Lakers went home in five games. After that series there were talks of Kobe running out of gas. Kobe showing his age. Kobe’s body is done. Kobe would be lucky to average 20+ points next season. And other ignorant claims. During the Olympics Kobe looked out of place at times when playing with Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, LeBron, Melo, Igudola and others. He couldn’t run the floor like they were doing. He couldn’t score like they could. He couldn’t defend like them. And after hearing and witnessing those type of things there was only one thing that could be said: Father Time Has Finally Caught Up With Him. People stuck with that until the start of the season.
Once the season started we saw a younger, quicker, stronger, faster, efficient Kobe Bryant. Despite him being hampered by injuries this season ( Hip, Foot, Ankle, Ankle, Hand, Knee, Flu etc,) he averages 27ppg 6reb 6ast 33% 3pt 46% FGP 83% FT in 38mpg. Compared to the past two seasons all of his numbers are up and he’s playing better defensively.
After 16 (17 if you count now,) seasons in the NBA players usually become shells of themselves. Hell after 13+ season players’ productions drop off because of their ages and the wear and tear their bodies have consumed thru the duration of their career. But not Kobe Bean Bryant.
At age 34 with 16 1/2 seasons under his belt, numerous injuries and plenty of excuses to live off on, Kobe continues to defy the odds and fight Father Time. Instead of getting worse he’s getting better. Instead of aging he’s getting younger. Instead of giving up he keeps fighting. In cases of him losing to Father Time he keeps rewriting.
Earlier today during the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics game we all found out that Rajon Rondo tore his ACL. Even though Boston won the game against the Heat one has to wonder if they can actually compete with East’s Elite without Rondo. Right now the Celtics are 8th in the East with a record of 21-23 and have gone 1-6 in their past seven games with Rajon Rondo in the lineup for six of those games. In the midst of those games Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Garnett have shown signs of them slowing down and looking their age. Top that with the fact their best player is out for the rest of the season Boston’s front office have found themselves in a state of uncertainty. Do they keep this group in tact for one last ride or do they hit the detonate button, blow things up and start building for the future? If they decide to keep this group for one last run they’re looking at a first round exit as the 8th seed and nothing more. If they blow things up now they would have a better chance of receiving more value for what they’re giving up. Realistically they could send Paul Pierce to a contending team or team closer to contention than they are and get picks, cash and expiring contracts back in return to help them relieve salary cap to make a push at a big name in free agency or whatever the case may be. Maybe they could send Kevin Garnett to a young team in need of leadership and playoff experience like the Golden State Warriors and receive picks and a young player in return. There are a countless number of scenarios the Celtics could use to help them jumpstart the rebuilding process. In Boston it’s about winning championships and being relevant not about being mediocre. By keeping this core together mediocrity will continue to be in play. The best route to relevancy is to start all over. The Boston Celtics need to start all over.