Thoughts on the NBA Playoffs so far
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So the first weekend of the 2010 playoffs is done and what have we found out?
Wade on his own
The Heat had the Celtics and let it get away after Dwyane Wade was pretty much deserted by his teammates. So much so the Celtics threw everyone at Wade, and Wade pretty much was begging for help. Wade made 11 field goals. The rest of the starters made 14.
“I thought we relied on me too much, at times, to make all the plays, to get into the paint, when they weren’t allowing me to do that at certain times,” Wade said. “Guys got to continue to stay aggressive, and always look for their opportunities.”
The Heat clearly has a chance with Kevin Garnett suspended for Game 2 and Boston looking awfully shaky. That’s going to be an ugly decline, by the way. Though the result made clear the Heat’s and Wade’s needs for help, and the news last week the salary cap will come in higher at around $56 million is a bonus for the Heat.
Michael Beasley started and had six points in 32 minutes and though team president Pat Riley has expressed confidence in Beasley’s future, the talk around the NBA is the Heat will look to give him up for a draft pick or some future compensation. That would give the Heat the ability to sign perhaps two maximum salaried free agents.
“We’re in the driver’s seat,” Wade said after hearing the news. Of course, there are questions of whether a free agent will demand a sign-and-trade, which would hurt Miami as they have nothing to trade, especially since none of the teams with free agents who may leave seem to have interest in Beasley.
Uphill battle for Utah
Too bad. The Jazz is done having lost Mehmet Okur to add to Andrei Kirilenko being out. Carlos Boozer isn’t in great shape, and still 6-8. Carmelo Anthony had 42 and said he sees maybe a year or two window of opportunity left for the Nuggets. Figure him as an opt out after next season.
So it looks like the Nuggets will get the Lakers in the next round and you wonder how much Kobe can recover by then. It should be a heck of a series as long as Kenyon Martin remains healthy. Plus, the team hopes to have an emotional lift with perhaps the return of coach George Karl from cancer treatments then.
Trail Blazers score road victory
Impressive Portland win, obviously, the only one to win on the road. The Suns missed Geico, that being the league name for Robin Lopez. You know, the caveman. Amar’e Stoudemire went back to being the poor defender and indifferent rebounder that will again make team with free agent millions wonder. So you want to invest $126 million in him and not have Steve Nash, who basically took all the big shots at the end to try to come back. Again, how many times do you find yourself saying Andre Miller is better than you thought? They’re probably not that upset having to settle for Miller over Hedo Turkoglu, who was a disaster in Toronto, defying management, rumored to have spent way too much time partying and not being ready to play and even apologizing to the community last week. Though he’s denied it, Orlando GM Otis Smith supposed told Portland executives when they lost Turkoglu they weren’t missing anything.
More first round thoughts…
Is it the end for Kobe? Is he Michael Jordan with the Wizards? Nah, but he’s clearly got physical problems and while quick, is hardly explosive. Andrew Bynum certainly was practicing while he was out as he looked better than when he is in shape. But here’s the issue with Oklahoma City again: What an awful offense, if there is one there. It’s Kevin Durant and while Russell Westbrook can score, he doesn’t do much to find others. Durant looked like he felt the pressure of being the league leading scorer and forced up too much. But he did way too much holding the ball and shooting.
I agree with Joakim Noah that Kevin Garnett is a dirty player. It’s no secret around the NBA, but it’s now painful to watch the Celts, perhaps with the exception of Ray Allen. Paul Pierce runs around faking debilitation, Kendrick Perkins is a phony tough and did you notice Garnett running away after he started stuff? Like he always does. Talks a lot and then fades away.
Too bad for Milwaukee. They could have won that series. Well, we know Mike Bibby can’t guard Brandon Jennings. Or maybe anyone. But without Andrew Bogut the matchups are a killer for the Bucks. Carlos Delfino on Josh Smith? John Salmons has been a season saver and the deal of the deadline along with Marcus Camby. But they could have used Hakim Warrick. Jamal Crawford now holds the NBA record for never having lost a playoff game. Minimum: One game.
So who was the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich referring to when he said, “We had a lot of people who played like Richard Jefferson.” I mean, “like dogs.” He actually didn’t say “Richard Jefferson,” who had four points in 32 minutes. George Hill started for Tony Parker, but was pulled early as he’s been having troubles with an ankle injury. You’d say with their depth of scoring and size, the Mavs have the best shot to knock off the Lakers. Though they need Jason Kidd and it’s tough to see him getting through three rounds of playoffs at this level of play.
NBA news & notes
-- Among the free agents whose clocks have begun are David Lee of the Knicks and Toronto’s Chris Bosh. Bosh is, obviously, the big prize as most expect LeBron James and Wade to remain with their teams. Bosh gave his post season address to Toronto media last week and said, really, he doesn’t know what he wants to do. “I wish I knew, man,” Bosh said. “Because everybody would know, and so everybody would leave me alone. People that are close to me know me, and they know that it's a waste of time to try to sway me. I think even my mother, she only asked me 'What are you doing?' and I said 'I don't know.'”
Bosh did hold open the possibility of staying as those close to him say he does have a big ego and wants to be some team’s No. 1 option. “Yeah, I think so,” Bosh said about resigning in Toronto. “Just to be able to say that yeah, things were tough, but we did it the right way, and they got guys in here, and that's always the perfect storybook ending. It would be a great movie.”
The feeling is Bosh would like to leave for a better team, but wants that sign and trade. Toronto is said to be insisting on a big man in return, though there are only a few places Bosh would go. Golden State has pieces, but he’s likely not interested. Would the Lakers break it up if they lose remains a question and give Toronto a center. Would Taj Gibson, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich do it if the Bulls would take Hedo Turkoglu off their hands? It’s all speculation, though one NBA veteran wonders about New Orleans with Chris Paul. They’ve got David West and can offer impressive rookie Darren Collison, and West said last week, “I don’t think anybody can feel they are an untouchable. I thought what we had this year just wasn’t good enough to stay in the hunt, even with the injuries. I think the only thing to do is to look at improving the roster.’’ That figures to include West, the most valuable piece other than Paul. Yes, the guessing has only just begun.
-- When the Bulls were in Charlotte last week, Larry Brown reiterated he was committed to coaching in Charlotte. "I'm not coaching anywhere but Charlotte,'' Brown said. "I'm not coaching for anyone but for Michael Jordan.'' Funny, no one believed him. And, really, why would you, and not because he’s left so many jobs. Owner Michael Jordan said when he took control of the team he’d let Brown go because his family still lives in Philadelphia. There’s also the question of whether the Bobcats can improve much. Brown is legend for his desire to change rosters and Jordan is pretty committed to staying with this group another season. Plus, the 76ers have way, way underachieved and are in a classic situation for a turnaround. Most around the NBA expect Brown to go as coach and GM and move to the front office after a year or two. For Charlotte? We know Jordan only goes with people he’s close with and has basically said so. How about giving Patrick Ewing, close with Jordan and a client of David Falk, a shot and bringing in some strong assistants the way Larry Bird did it for the Pacers. Falk has been said to be angling for a role with the Bobcats. … So what does Minnesota want for Al Jefferson. GM David Kahn made it pretty clear in postseason comments Jefferson is not a go to star since Kahn said the team needs one. He also said the team learned Jefferson and Kevin Love do not complement one another, and the talk is coach Kurt Rambis prefers Love for his triangle system. It also seems like the team will take a shot with Darko Milicic. "I think we've all learned it doesn't work with them playing heavy minutes together," Kahn told local reporters. "We've learned, even though it doesn't show in wins and losses, how helpful it is to have a 7-footer with Darko's skill set, particularly how he can block shots. That now is locked. We'll have to have something like that." It’s why the Timberwolves earlier this season were said to have sought Joakim Noah for Jefferson. Obviously, that won’t happen, though Kahn has denied such rumors. Minnesota has cap space, but no one expects any major free agent to go there. So they’d likely look to trade for players with their space. Michael Beasley? Luol Deng? David Lee? Monta Ellis? You figure the Timberwolves will be quite active again.
-- Tracy McGrady hinted he could retire. What, he hasn’t? “If it don’t happen this summer, I’m riding into the sunset,” McGrady told New York reporters of getting healthier. McGrady played 24 games with the Knicks since he was acquired at the trade deadline on Feb. 18 and averaged 9.4 points, 3.9 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 26.1 minutes per game and was little factor and declined as the season came to a close. He’s noted not to be much of a worker and already is talking about not returning to Chicago, where he had been doing his rehab with Tim Grover. He’s generally always sought the path of least resistance and it’s difficult to see him returning as he seeks a major role and his body is not longer up for that. … The best part of that Kevin Garnett incident and suspension was Quentin Richardson labeling Garnett, and especially Paul Pierce, “actresses” for the way they dramatize injuries. Pierce has been a classic over the years and again was acting as if he’s been shot when bumped. His Finals act a few years ago when he was literally taken out in a wheelchair remains NBA gold for phony acting. “I told our trainer Jay [Sabol] that [Pierce] is cool and he’s doing what he always do, lay down like it’s a season-ending injury, then he gets up and he’s miraculously fine,” said Richardson. Leave it to the Chicago guy to tell it like it is. … It’s a curious Celtics team for a lot of reasons with a report in the Boston Herald saying coach Doc Rivers is thinking of taking a year off after this season and GM Danny Ainge saying the report was false and calling out the starters and Rasheed Wallace for inconsistent play this season. It seems like it’s going to be a hard way going down. It also seem unlikely Ray Allen will return and he’d be a nice addition for a veteran team close to a title. … The Bucks are trying to work out a long-term extension to retain John Salmons. … It doesn’t look like Larry Brown is sure about Tyrus Thomas, who played eight minutes in Game 1 in the loss to the Magic, tied for fewest with Nazr Mohammed. … Eddy Curry told the Knicks to forget a buyout since he isn’t taking less money to leave, though he hopes to. The sad part is that Eddy is said to need the money with a series of bad financial decisions and huge personal setbacks and tragedies. … Philly’s a tough media town. One columnist said the fired Eddie Jordan found out “he would have as much luck teaching algebra to parakeets as he would getting the Sixers to master his Princeton offense.” … There was a report in the Philadelphia media coach Jordan declined to institute team fines and players were considering doing it themselves with many players, primarily Samuel Dalembert, ignoring team rules. They should just have signed Ben Wallace and Adrian Griffin and they could have started suspending players, as they did with the Bulls.