Saturday, November 8, 2008
1st and foremost, it's on the NFL Network, which I'm sure many of us don't get considering it's not a part of many basic cable packages. I'm not going to spend extra money just to watch one more game per week. Then there's the fact that the game is actually on Thursday, which isn't nearly as cool as it seems. I'd much rather wait the 3 extra days so I actually know which of my fantasy players will actually play. I also HATE that shortened week garbage. It makes things unbelievably unpredictable. You can't guess gameplans nor the readiness of players. Take this 1st week for example, Denver @ Cleveland. You had a rookie runningback on the Denver side, who has only had 3 carries all season, taking the starting job on a shortened week against a decent Browns defense. Who the hell could have predicted what was going to happen? It was a crapshoot play no matter how you looked at it. Same scenario on the Browns' side. Romeo Crennel decided to give the starting job to Brady Quinn after his team had been led to a 3-5 record behind former starter Derek Anderson. During a normal week, I would have said Quinn is a solid start to above average start considering he was starting off against a putrid Denver defense. Instead, Brady Quinn was another crapshoot play. Both Torain and Quinn ended up with solid games, but who could have predicted that (NOTE: Torain is reportedly out of the rest of the season due to an ACL tear). Point is, having games on Thursday nights makes things extremely difficult to predict. It puts teams at a disadvantage in terms of practice time and preparation. I just don't see how this is a good idea...
Just a sidenote, in one of my leagues (12 person with PPR and a flex spot), I started both Quinn and Torain. My other QBs were Roethlisberger and Frerotte. I actually thought to myself that Frerotte would be the "safest" play, but Roethlisberger's injury update wasn't given until yesterday that he practiced and would be probable. I took a risk on Quinn (239 passing yards, 2 TDs) and it paid off. The other play on Torain as my flex was tough too. On Thursday, I still had no clue what was going on with Steven Jackson, one of my other options this week for my flex play, and took the risk on the hyped 5th round rookie runningback that none of us have seen before. Both plays obviously paid off, but I was sweating the decision all week and now I'm sweating my players for Sunday too. Fantasy football is awesome until times like now. All you think about is your players and how they must perform in order for you to achieve one of those elusive playoff spots in your respective league. If you lose, you feel it all week until your next matchup, or if you're eliminated because of it, you keep coming up with injuries and excuses until you get tired of them yourself. If you win, you are just hoping for another win next week and the week after that until it's all over whether you win of lose. Realistically, no one in your league is satisfied unless they win it all... and there's only one of those guys in each league every year. This is why we love fantasy football - for the trash talk, the constant complaining and the reason to hate one member every year. It's addicting and probably bad for our health in the long run, but stopping isn't really an option. Good luck during the stretch run and in the fantasy playoffs should you make it that far
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I hope you've heard about the Pistons/Nuggets blockbuster trade at this point. Personally, I love it for both teams from a fantasy perspective. The Nuggets don't have the versatility they had before with Iverson, but JR Smith will be a starter now and we already know how explosive he is in limited minutes off the bench. Now he should be playing 30+ min/game consistently. The addition of McDyess would have hurt Nene's value a bit, but reports are hinting that McDyess will be bought out and signed elsewhere. If that's the case, Nene and Kenyon Martin's value don't change. In fact, their touches should increase with the departure of AI, perhaps increasing productivity. Also, I shouldn't have to remind you, but Carmelo Anthony was leading the league in scoring last time he was playing on an Iverson-less Denver team (remember before that MSG "brawl" and 'Melo got suspended?). I would put Carmelo up with the top scorers in the league now, if not THE top scorer. On the Pistons' side, the guy this could hurt is Rip Hamilton. I could easily see Rip coming off the bench at some point this season to play the "Manu Ginobili" role. He'll still get his minutes and touches, but not starting would bump his value down slightly. Iverson's value might also take a hit. I can't imagine him scoring 25+ppg at this stage in his career and moving from a running team to a half court oriented team. One of my preseason favorites, however, Rodney Stuckey, may be the big winner from all this. We already knew the Pistons love the upside of this kid. Now it seems like they're willing to commit to him being their future starting point guard. Iverson's $20.8 million contract expires after this season and Stuckey will be the man. Detroit will give him as much run as they can this year and in the future.
To sum it up:
Trade winners: Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, Kenyon Martin, Nene, Linas Kleiza, Rodney Stuckey
Trade losers: Allen Iverson, Anthony Carter, Rip Hamilton
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Honestly, Kobe is actually beginning to grow on me. He's a controversial character who can make any situation become a questionable one referring to himself. He could just answer a simple question of his favorite color and people would hound him for it. No other player in the NBA can speak to that flaw and I love that a player like Kobe (undoubtedly the BEST player in the WORLD) can be judged in such a distinct manner. He's a great player, but like he said in the Steven A. Smith interview, "Let me be ME!". And that has a magnanimous truth to it. He can not be MJ because he doesn't have the trust in his teammates nor the charisma to be such an electric figure on and off the court.
The Lakers WILL lose this series and it's not because of Kobe's talent, it's because of Kobe's inability to assess a situation. He can't make the correct play in the 2nd half of a tightly contested game because he only understands that he's the one to make things happen. Michael understood that upon entering the final crucial moments of a game, to trust his teammates to be where they should be and to defer to them in order to win the grand prize. After all of the Lakers' struggles this past season, Kobe still doesn't get that. As much as he wants to win the games, he still believes that the only way to do so is with him taking that last shot, no matter how big the stage. He still wants that spotlight and until he understands that giving his teammate the winning shot means more than anything else, he won't achieve the level of play that those before him have understood.
I hope that Kobe can achieve this one day (perhaps even next season) and with the help of a legendary coach like Phil Jackson, I don't doubt that he will. Once he understands this step, he will become an all-time great. In many eyes he already is, but in my honest opinion, he has one step to go before he becomes the undisputed 2nd best player in NBA history. He must trust his teammates, not just in speech, but in demonstration.
Monday, June 9, 2008
"While it is hard to stray away from the Laker bias that has exponentially accumulated throughout the years…DF with .4 seconds remaining or Horry ending the Sacramento Queen’s playoff runs…I will try to be as objective as possible…
A recipe for the rest of the series in my opinion is:
Game 3: A must win for the Lakers, which will only be done through great defense...they must force Boston’s role players like Powe, Brown and Cassel to struggle...Doc will quickly lose confidence in, at least, Powe as someone that can't get it done on the road.
Game 4: due to the lack of role player performance in game 3 for the C’s, Doc messes with his rotation and Boston doesn’t find a rhythm in the game and gets blown out.
Game 5: kobe and pau dominate in a game that cements their status as elite championship caliber players and the lakers win a hard fought game with clutch play in the 4th quarter
Game 6: boston opens up the game very well but the lakers take control of the game by the mid-3rd and close the game out in the garden
A few important things that must be done throughout this 4 game sweep (unbiased like I said) luke needs to be kept off the floor and radman needs to play bench minutes with ariza starting and odom playing better ball. Another key is “The Machine”-like shooting from the 3pt like by Sasha."
Back to me. As far as I can tell, these are pretty ideal thoughts for a Laker fan. I picked the Lakers in 6 before the series began and although I believe this is still possible, I don't think it's likely anymore. I'll stick with my guns though until it's not possible anymore.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
First let's remember how both teams got to this point. Both teams went through their fair share of difficulties in these playoffs, but if it's been possible, the Lakers have gotten through this deep West playoff field as strongly as any team could have shown. Everyone thought that Denver had a shot at beating LA because the Lakers didn't have Bynum back yet. Well, Bynum's not going to return now and LA's in the finals. Moreover, they completely dominated a talented Nuggets team that looked like they didn't belong in the same league. The next round, people thought Utah might be the best team in the league (for whatever reason) and didn't think the Deron Williams/Carlos Boozer would be too much to handle. It was also said that the combination of Ronnie Brewer/Matt Harpring/Kyle Korver (KYLE KORVER?!?!?) could "contain" Kobe. Then obviously came the defending Champs, and at this point, even I thought the Lakers were susceptible to a disappointing end to their long, surprising season. There was no answer for Tim Duncan, the Lakers didn't have enough experience, but in the end Kobe was the one who was unstoppable. He took 11 free throws in the entire series, but still scored 30+ points/game. I would not have thought that to be possible especially against the stingy Spurs defense featuring Bruce Bowen as a perimeter defender, but Kobe welcomed the challenge. Now they face a similarly built team in the Boston Celtics, who went through their own struggles.
The Celtics were widely picked to beat the Hawks in a sweep, or at the very worst, in a 5 game series. This was not the case. Instead Boston had its deep playoff run in jeopardy as a young Hawks team extended the 66 win Celtics to a 1st round game 7. I personally was shocked, but Boston won game 7 easily at home and moved on. Then came the defending Eastern Conference Champions, the Lebrons. I actually thought this would be the breakthrough series for Boston, but the Cavs somehow extended the series to 7 games as well, which turned out to be a great game, a legendary battle between two of the great closers in the game, Paul Pierce
and Lebron James, a battle, a game... that I missed. That's not the point though. The point is that Boston found another way to prevail and proved that Home Court advantage does mean something. Anyways, then came the Eastern Conference Finals in which the 2 teams that were on a crash course all season, finally met. The Pistons and the Celtics. People at this point were already doubting the C's. They can't win a road game, they have no rotation, they can't score... The pessimism got to a climax once Detroit won game 2 in Boston. Then everyone thought there was no way Boston could come back. I said before the series began that both teams are way too good to win all home games. I thought the series would go 7 games with each team winning 1 road game, which means Boston would advance. Boston did even better however. They showed that perhaps the long series in rounds 1 and 2 might have done something for their collective experience and ended up taking 2 games in Detroit to take the series in 6.
Now that the past is out of the way, the matchups are an interesting factor. KG proves as that Duncan-like presence for Boston, but unless he asserts himself the way Timmy does, the Lakers will be fine. KG has shown again and again that he's got the talent and ability to take over games, he just doesn't have the mindset or selfishness to actually do it. With the rest of the matchups, the only one that sticks out is how the Celtics will try and guard Kobe. Boston was the best defensive team in the league in the regular season and even though it seems like they have the personnel to guard premier swingmen like Kobe with the likes of James Posey, Paul Pierce, Tony Allen, etc... they haven't had to go up against Kobe in a long series before. The Spurs in the previous series have had long series with Kobe before and as seen, still couldn't do anything about him. Overall, I think both teams have great chemistry and have very balanced, talented rosters, but one team has Kobe. The other team should have a closer gap because KG should close that a bit, but the fact is he doesn't. He doesn't let the game come to him like Kobe does at the end of games and as alluded to before, he doesn't take over. In fact, he seems to push it away. On my Championship team, I don't want my main man with that kind of personality. Paul Pierce will take over games, but he's not Kobe Bryant.
Prediction: Lakers in 6
Sunday, May 11, 2008
LA Lakers/Utah Jazz: This team has arguably been together for a few seasons now, but their 2nd option, Pau Gasol, has been with them for less than half a season and all of their supporting cast is young still even if they have emerged. They beat an overmatched team in the 1st round (Denver) in 4 games simply because they were that much better. This round, they got the Western Conference Finalists of last season and a great home team. This one's looking like it could go 7, even though I think the Lakers will win.
New Orleans Hornets/San Antonio Spurs: This one isn't as much about the Spurs losing in New Orleans (Chris Paul is just unstoppable and his teammates play better at home - simple as that) as it is about the Hornets discovering themselves in a tough series. I think the Spurs will extend the Hornets as long as they possibly can, but not having homecourt could eventually hurt them since these Hornets are clearly legitimate and around to stay for a while. Next season, they will be amongst the favorites for the title.
Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers: The Celtics are simply a better team than the Cavaliers. They were also the best road team in the league during the regular season. I will blame this on the coaching. They had a rotation set for 3/4 of the season and went away from it. Now they look sketchy on the road. The team is experienced and has leadership, just not a coach who can decide on what he wants to do in crunch time. They need to figure out their road issues soon though because I do believe Detroit can beat Boston at least once in Boston. The Cavs are just too overmatched in this series to steal one away from home. The best they can do is hold court at home and hope for some ridiculous Lebron game 7 heroics.
Detroit Pistons/Orlando Magic: The worst series. Orlando has been a team full of holes all season and it's quite clear in this series. They just match up terribly against these Pistons. They don't have a PG big enough for Chauncey Billups, a swingman fast enough or athletic enough to chase and stick with Rip Hamilton, nor a swingman good enough to keep Tayshaun Prince at bay. Just awful. I can't wait for the Conference Finals.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Let's see, Detroit has woken up from its ridiculous slumber and taken a 3-2 lead on Philly and I don't doubt they will finally shut the door on the series in game 6 even if it is on the road. Boston has gotten out-energized in 2 games in a row, but it's a young Hawks team who's excited. I still don't think that Atlanta squad can win in Boston, which means the C's will still win the series. I actually think they will close it out on the road in game 6 as well. One thing of note, I'm happy Mike Woodson's job is basically safe after all the crap he's had to go through to get that team playing well. Then there's Cleveland, who I told you would have some close games with Washington, but still win the series in fine fashion - they'll close it out at home in game 5. Orlando's already through in 5 games (terrible call on my part - Toronto needs to address their rebounding/big man woes and get a guy who can take over the game scoring off the dribble).
Out West, New Orleans "shocked" everyone by dominating Dallas for the majority of that series and LA didn't give Denver a shot in that series. Flat out, that one wasn't even close. San Antonio also finished off Phoenix in fine, painful fashion as they are accustomed to doing. I don't think the rumors of D'Antoni getting fired are legit. He deserves to stay at least as long as Nash can still play at his high level. Then there's Utah, who I've been saying all year is OVERRATED. Sure, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer were magnificent in last year's playoffs getting to the conference finals, but were they really? They won a game 7 in Houston last year (who weren't nearly as good as they are this season - although much better with Yao than without) and beat a worn-out Golden State Warriors squad that just matched up terribly. Now we see them struggling to beat a undermanned, undersized Rockets team. I just don't understand how people love that Jazz team and think they're so great. Deron's a great player, but he's even inconsistent at times. Carlos Boozer just isn't good on the defensive end. Mehmet Okur has been their most consistent option in the series and they rely on Andrei Kirilenko to do way to much, which is never a good thing. I think Utah will win this series, but in the next round, they are going to get exposed by a GREAT Lakers team.
So now onto the next round match-ups (as long as the 1st round plays out correctly, which by the way, who would have ever thought the last four series in the 1st round would be DET/PHI, BOS/ATL, UTAH/HOU and CLE/WASH. I barely count the Cleveland series since that one's going to end in 5. Gotta love the NBA)
Cleveland @ Boston: This series is one people are starting to question. People think Doc Rivers is finally imploding after a seemingly masterful season. They think Boston, all of a sudden, doesn't have options at the end of games. The Celtics don't have a set rotation anymore. Why is Cassell playing at the end of games instead of Rondo? Who can guard Lebron? All legit questions unless you forget that Boston was clearly the best team during the NBA season. They won 66 games, most people recall, BUT they also LOST games as well. And it's not like they never lost multiple games in a row. That happened too. I almost feel dumb for having to convince people that Boston should be and will show that they're the favorites in this series. Sure, they'll have problems with Lebron, but who doesn't? And moreover, Boston led the league in defense this season, by a lot too. They have the DPOY in Kevin Garnett and I'm sure they can figure out a way to limit Lebron and basically stop the rest of that Cavaliers team. As long as Pierce is relatively healthy (which is somewhat of a big IF) I would pick these Celtics in 5, but since that's not certain, I'm going to pick them in 7, not because I think Cleveland is that good. I'm confident that the 3 games before game 7 that Boston win will be 10+ points, while Cleveland will sneak out with a few "Lebron games". If I'm Boston, I take a look and see that I can put Tony Allen (for quickness), James Posey (a bit bigger) or Leon Powe (even more size) on Lebron to give him different looks. As for the rest of the Cavs, who cares? They all helped him enough against Washington (who's not a better team than the Wizards, that's a questionable statement at best), but that was because the Wizards are an awful defensive team and have been for years.
Orlando @ Detroit: See, now this actually might be a series... if not for 2 factors. I don't think anyone on the Pistons is containing Dwight Howard. He's too big for anyone on Detroit. He might have just as sick a stat line against Detroit as he did against Toronto. The problem is, Detroit has 2 match-ups against Orlando that are just as lopsided, if not more lopsided. At least with Dwight, he's only hurting you in one way. With Detroit, Chauncey Billups is going to punish whoever is checking him, whether it be Jameer Nelson (too small) or Carlos Arroyo (just not good enough). He had a bad series against Andre Miller (you're telling me NO ONE wanted this guy when Philly was shopping him??), whose got great size, but that's not going to be a problem against Orlando. Then there's Rasheed, who's a match-up nightmare for just about everyone, but especially the Magic. Who is going to guard him?? You're going to put Rashard Lewis on him in the post? Wow, that would be murder. So even though Dwight will get his, the Pistons team is too talented to lose this one. I think Detroit would win in 5, although I'm tempted to say 6 games since we all know they like to give games away sometimes.
Utah @ LA: Like I said before, I don't know why everyone loves Utah so much, but they did show me one thing: they lost a game at home and the way I see it, if Houston can beat Utah for one game in Salt Lake City, the Lakers definitely can. LA's got a great match-up as well. Utah's got absolutely no one to guard Kobe who, last I checked, was still pretty damn good and on a mission. I think Boozer and Gasol can neutralize each other's effectiveness. Neither can play any defense and both are pretty talented offensively. I think Deron Williams can be limited by a combination of Fisher, Farmar and Vujacic (lots of size, athleticism and quickness in that trio). LA in 5.
San Antonio @ New Orleans: I would have felt a lot better about the Hornets' chances in this one if San Antonio lost that game last night. It would have worn the Spurs down some more and let New Orleans scout a little bit more. With that said though, it's going to be tough to pick either side in this one. New Orleans seems to match-up so well against the defending Champs. Chris Paul is just better than Tony Parker, David West played real solid against Dirk last round and Duncan will be a similar match-up. Likewise, Tyson Chandler doesn't have to worry about defending Kurt Thomas or Fabricio Oberto and can patrol the paint. The one issue is Manu. He would be a tough one to contain, but maybe New Orleans goes small again with Pargo and Paul and out-quick the Spurs or bring in Bonzi and hope he can do something. As much as I love the Spurs (they're healthy, which is scary), I think the young Hornets might actually win this series. They've got homecourt, which has been huge for them, and I see this series going 7. Both teams will get one on the opposing home floor and extend this series the entire length. New Orleans in 7.
Update: So, with Toronto out of it, and if all the remaining series go accordingly, I will be 7/8 in my 1st round picks.
Conference Finals Picks: New Orleans @ LA Lakers (change from San Antonio, although obviously the Spurs could still make that spot) and Detroit @ Boston (same as before)
Finals Pick (and wish for it to happen): LA Lakers @ Boston (LA wins in 7)