Simons Says...




Thursday, March 17, 2011

Madness:
It’s that time. Having a cup o’ Joe with a buddy this morning he said to me, “You done with your brackets?!” I’m not. I will but I wait until the last minute. In fact, I’m less scientific and more emotional when it comes to picking the NCAA teams dancing to the championship.

If you are a basketball fan, no month is finer. ALL the teams get after it. High Schools are in championship mode. The college teams are dancing and the NBA is swooping towards the playoffs that begin in the middle of next month.

When it comes to the NBA, I’m watching with a smile as “insiders” shift and shimmy their picks and favorites in both conferences. I wrote last week about the Miami Heat and how so many people were jumping on that team’s gravestone. I wrote during the Heat’s five game losing streak that it was too soon to do that and they’d rebound. They are back. Rebound they have.

There are pack of teams to watch as the playoffs loom on the horizon. Certainly the Heat, defending conference champion Boston, Orlando will have something to say and don’t leave out da’ Bulls. That’s right. Chicago. At 47-18, the Bulls are racing to secure the East’s top record which would give them home court throughout the conference playoffs. Derrick Rose is leading the team in scoring at nearly 25 per game but with Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and a talented cast that runs 10-deep, these Bulls are making big noise.

It just goes to show that there is tremendous pressure to win now and most teams just can’t do it. Boston did when Kevin Garnett joined Ray Allen and Paul Pierce to form the shamrock-3. But it’s taken the Bulls a few years and some nice talent additions to jell it into a contender. And I argue the same goes for Miami. The pressure might have been lessened if the so-called Big-3 would have just signed and not yapped so much. But it is what it is and that Miami cast is coming together. Adding Mike Miller, just acquired Mike Bibby and significant role players will make a difference in April and May. And in the West, the Lakers, Mavs and OKC are serious.

Whatever the case, “Win Now” is not always easy. It rarely happens. What should be expected is, to borrow a little cooking phrase, is to “let it bake”. Allow those teams to jell and find their roll, if you will, and that’s when they are in business.

Love:
There have been aches and pains and there have been too many losses for sure. But this has been an unforgettable season for the Wolves marquee player Kevin Love.

Kevin Love’s 53-game double-double streak is over, ending in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors last weekend. That was the first time since mid November of last year when Love didn’t score double digit points and rebounds in a game.

I’ve said it before and will again. You won’t find a guy on the court playing as hard as #42. Love lays it out on the court night in and night out. In fact, it’s cool to hear his NBA peers talk about him. They see it. They know that Love is the real deal. Love surpassed Moses Malone’s modern era record of 51-games but had a long way to go to catch Wilt Chamberlain. The late NBA hall of famer recorded 221-straight double doubles. 221 games. Wow!

From the streak to his All Star selection to his performances all season long that have made this team better. Love has been invaluable to the franchise and he’s clearly the player they’re building around. He’s made the season worth watching.

SimonsSays MAILBAG:
Jeff in S. Minneapolis (via rod@gameontvmn.com):
“Is Coach Rambis really on the hot seat? Why does the media report and not attribute comments. Hard to believe stuff like this.”
Rod: Jeff, thanks for the note. Jeff’s note is one of a dozen or so emails on this exact topic. I’m not David Kahn so I don’t have specifics but Rambis has a tough job. He’s in charge of turning this team around on the court. That means more than just X’s and O’s on the court. Losing takes a toll on players who are this young and did so much winning at the college level. Coach Rambis is juggling their games, their emotions and a number of other elements.

As for the media, sometimes reporters have to use unnamed sources to protect those sources. I’m not a fan of it but understand it. Locally, you can trust the front line reporters who cover the team. They are solid and skilled at their craft.

It’s been a hard season and no one understands more than the players and coaches on the front lines. Lose as many as the Wolves have and there will be speculation and rumors. Coach Rambis has thick skin and he’ll be fine. His focus remains getting the job done.

THE MORE THE MERRIER:
We’ve been talking about the upcoming WNBA season as the league is celebrating its 15th season.

We’re going to give fans an upclose and personal opportunity to meet and talk hoops with the Lynx at a special Women’s Final Four Championship game viewing party on April 5th! On the night of the Woemn’s title championship, GameON! is hosting a viewing party at our host location Courtside Bar and Grill in Anoka! It’s easy to find, great food and a dozen HD big screens to watch the game with us!

Remember, these are big days for the Lynx because the 2011 WNBA Draft is just around the corner on Monday, April 11. Minnesota holds the top pick in the Draft for the third time in franchise history and they gotta’ pick University of Connecticut forward Maya Moore. More info to come but make your plans now to join us and other basketball fans at the Courtside Bar and Grill on April 5th!! Go ahead and e-mail me if you need more information. We’d love to have you in the house with us!

AND WATCH FOR:
Thanks for the e-mails and the uptick in communication from you out there. I very much enjoy getting those and next week, we’ll share some more of your FAN thoughts in our SimonsSays mailbag. Until then, keep your chin up and see you Sunday on GameON! I’d love to have you out to one of our live GameON! Tapings this next Tuesday at Courtside Bar and Grill in Anoka on Jackson Street. More details and guest listings on our redesigned show website (www.GameOnTvMn.com)