Saturday, February 16, 2008

All-Star Weekend

Things got off to a good start last night with the celebrity game on ESPN and rookie-sophomore game on TNT. The Sophomores won again (for the 6th straight year) and Daniel Gibson hit 11 treys en route to 33pts and the MVP trophy. Tonight is when most of the festivities occur however. Before I get to that, there's another potential trade on the cusp of being completed.

As we've seen with Dallas/New Jersey though, nothing is finished until the actual players report to their new teams. This deal is definitely worth talking about though, even though it is still pending. The suggested trade is between the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks involving guard Mike Bibby and 4 expiring contracts on the side of Atlanta. It's definitely an interesting deal since the Kings know they've got a proven starting floor general in Beno Udrih, who they've discovered can play at a high level given the minutes (he's also going to be the chief benefactor if this deal goes through, which I hope does because I've picked him up in ALL my leagues already). Atlanta gets the starting point guard who can hit big shots and take a ton of pressure off of Joe Johnson, who needs to focus mainly as a scorer (he's only shooting 40% from the field currently). With Bibby, I would expect Johnson's assist numbers to dip a bit, but his FG% will undoubtedly increase for the rest of the season. The Hawks are showing they are serious about making the playoffs after a long hiatus, while the Kings are looking forward to some huge salary relief this offseason to potentially sign some impact players for next season. The deal makes sense, although I have to wonder if the Kings could have gotten one prospect or player that has some value other than an expiring deal. Ironically enough, the Hawks are on the cusp of the playoffs in the East at 21-28 (tied with 8th seed Philadelphia), while the Kings are 23-28 and 8.5 games out of the 8th spot. That's some good parity between the two conferences.

Now for Saturday night, it should be a decent dunk contest with 3 freak athletic wings (Gerald Green, Jamario Moon and Rudy Gay) countered by the 'freak', Dwight Howard, but honestly I'm not that excited about it. There's no anticipated event quite like the Barkley/Bavetta race of last February. A couple of randoms as well I thought I might as well throw out there. I know that the NBA wants to support the WNBA, but the "Shooting Stars" contest needs to go. It's utterly useless and no one enjoys watching it (save for maybe a few people). They could go with a H-O-R-S-E contest and use WNBA players then (props to THE Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, for the idea) and that would be a legitimately fun event to watch or just use different events and cycle them in and out every few years. They can go with a "shooting stars" event, but then a race or something different the next season. Something unique every season and bring back older events once people have forgotten about them. This way people can be surprised from season to season and more interested in the events that aren't as traditional (like the 3-point shootout and Dunk contest). Hopefully TNT will do something though for tonight to be exciting. I'll be tuning in and out the whole night.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday on TNT & of this shortened week

There were just two games on tonight as TNT got in it's national broadcast before the weekend festivities.

The 1st was in Chicago, where the new look Miami Heat visited. The game was actually somewhat close, but the Bulls pulled out the win. Kirk Hinrich came off the bench again as a spark for the Bulls and produced a team high 24pts, while also getting 7rebs. Miami came up short again as they had production out of their new big two, but not much elsewhere. D-Wade had 30pts, 7rebs and 7assts while Marion put in 23pts, 7rebs and 4stls.

The next was a good one in Phoenix, where the Mavs were visiting. Devean George, as many of you have probably already heard, stalled the J-Kidd-to-the-Mavs talks, as his one year contract has the "early bird" agreement, essentially meaning he can turn down trades if he sees fit. I don't blame for not wanting to go to a bad team on a one year deal, but that definitely slowed down the excitement a bit going into the weekend. Ironically enough, he started tonight at forward, playing 43mins while only scoring 7pts. The Mavs are now looking towards the retired Keith Van Horn as a potential "expiring contract" to send to the Nets in George's place. Keep an eye on this until something works out, but as now it's all just speculation once again. For the actual game, Phoenix won it late by pulling away 109-97 and got their normal performances. Diaw should be owned in most leagues at this point since he'll be the main benefactor while Shaq's out (19pts, 8rebs, 5assts, 3blks tonight). Even when Shaq returns, I wouldn't say Diaw's value drops too much because it's not a given that Shaq won't get hurt again. For Dallas, they simply didn't have enough scoring options without the services of Devin Harris, Jerry Stackhouse AND Josh Howard. Dirk and Terry tried their best (36pts, 12rebs for Dirk and 29pts for Terry), but without another Mav scoring double-digits, they weren't going to beat the Suns.

One last note, Kobe's finger injury is apparently worse than at 1st thought. He's actually got a fracture in that pinky. I'm not gonna try to tell a competitor like Kobe what to do with his all-world body, but honestly if surgery if only going to cost them 6 weeks, he should take it. He would be healthy easily in time for the playoffs and if he keeps pushing off this injury, it may affect his play. As of right now, he plans to push it off until after the Olympics. Just so everyone's on the same page, that's until after SEPTEMBER, which is also right before the NBA season. It's a tough call, but he needs to get it fixed right now. As for this weekend, Kobe's obviously a starter at guard out in the West and a participant in the 3-point shootout. As of right now, Dirk has replaced him in the shootout, but Kobe plans on playing in Sunday's game. I don't know what the man is thinking, but he's a competitor like none other in the league. Hopefully this all works out for Kobe, but I personally don't believe he's going in the right direction.

NBA Top 10 February 13, 2008

No news from last night since just about every team played, but that just means there were a ton of great plays and highlights to be seen. Here they are!

Also something of note, I thought this week was shortened to 3 days for whatever reason, but there ARE games tonight. If I misled you, I apologize.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Jason Kidd to the Mavs

No joke, another blockbuster deal has been completed in the NBA (not really surprising that there are now more Eastern teams unloading big name players while the West is accumulating them). This time it was New Jersey trading All-Star starter Jason Kidd to the Mavs. The other parts of the deal included forward Malik Allen (NJN) in exchange for the Mavs' Devin Harris, Jerry Stackhouse, Desagana Diop, Devean George and Maurice Ager as players as well as the Mavs' 1st rounder for this upcoming draft, a future #1 pick in 2010 and the league max $3 million in cash. There was also a side deal in the works between the 2 teams that sent Antoine Wright for a 2nd round pick.

Now onto the analysis of the deal. Jason Kidd has clearly still been putting up huge numbers as a Net. On the Mavs, he instantly improves them in terms of gameplay. He's been an 1st team all-NBA defender in his career and he's also still one of the best distributing PG's in the game on a team that's still full of offensive talent. The main knock on the Mavs last season (even though they won 67 games) was their team-play. They were one of the worst assisting teams in the league. Even though they scored a ton, it was mostly one-on-one stuff. With Kidd, the Mavs become an elite power again (not that they weren't a top 5-10 team before the trade. Kidd gives the Mavs that "Big Three" that many teams have fallen in love with. With Dirk, Josh Howard and Kidd, the Mavs perhaps have the most balanced trio in the league. Dirk is a dominant inside and outside scorer, Kidd is that great floor general and Howard does all the little things at an All-Star level. This team lost some depth in the trade, but still became a top 2-3 team in making the deal. For New Jersey, they were still in the playoff race, but you have to pull the trigger on a deal like this. They were gonna unload Vince Carter's massive contract, but Vince wasn't the one being a malcontent. That honor goes to Kidd. They got a young point guard in Devin Harris, who still hasn't seen his best years yet and got some depth as well (Stackhouse is reportedly going to be bought out right away, perhaps to rejoin the Mavs) and got an extra pick in this year's deeeep draft pool. I can't really say either team lost in this trade.

As far as fantasy goes, it's a bit different of a story. The trade of Kidd originally would have been believed to have given the reigns to sophomore guard Marcus Williams. Not the case now with a guy like Devin Harris coming in. Harris is going to get all the minutes he can handle at point guard for New Jersey and his owners will reap the benefits. If an owner is dumb enough to try to trade him now, take him (for top 40 value anyways). The other Mavs that got traded over to New Jersey (Ager, Diop, George) I can't see producing anymore than they have all season, which is not enough to get on the deepest fantasy rosters. I will say that Ager's a young talent and New Jersey may choose to evaluate him before the season is over, or they could just ship him to the D-League. For Kidd, his scoring has been sketchy all season at best, but I would expect him to get his FG% up at least a little (from 37%) since there's no need to shoot bad shots with options like Terry, Dirk and Howard in front of him. Antoine Wright will probably be a 8th man bench player for the Mavs so take that anyway you want to.

One last interesting point to note. Now that Kidd's been traded out West, his All-Star spot is an interesting point of interest. In the East, he got more votes than AI did for a starting spot so it'll be interesting to see if he takes AI's starting spot and if he doesn't, someone on that bench (probably David West or Brandon Roy) is going to be very disappointed in getting his spot taken by the new Mavs guard. In the East, I HOPE David Stern gets this pick correct by giving Jose Calderon a spot on the team, but if he gives it to Ray Allen I would understand considering Kevin Garnett's already been scratched from the game. Boston deserves to have 2 representatives considering their accomplishments, but give Jose Calderon some love, PLEASE!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

2nd Day of the Week...

...And the second to last day of this AS, fantasy shortened week. There were only 6 games on tonight as teams are readying themselves for a break during the festivities this weekend in New Orleans. Tomorrow's a big day though, as there are 14 games and 28 out of the 30 teams in action.

- Tonight the action started in Indiana where the League-leading Celtics went in for a visit, winning 104-97 to put their record at 40-9. The Celtics played great D and got by without KG once again, this time with Paul Pierce leading the way with his 28pts and 12rebs. Leon Powe is a guy that needs to be watched now as he had 16pts and 9rebs in this contest. He's starting at center with the absence of Kendrick Perkins and playing well. If the Wolves ever feel they want to play small ball, he's shown that he can be their man, doing many of the little things to help the team win. Rajon Rondo had another solid night, scoring 12pts, grabbing 7rebs and dishing out 7assts. The Pacers had a balanced attack with 6 players 10+pts, but shot only 42.5% as a team and turned the ball over 16 times. Danny Granger led the way with 18pts and 10rebs.

- Atlanta held a lead over Detroit at home for a good portion of tonight, but in the final frame the Pistons took control to eventually win 94-90. Led by Rasheed Wallace (21pts, 5stls), the Pistons took the game from a surprising Hawks team at this point in the season. The Hawks, at 21-27, are the 7th seed in the East, which is more than they've been able to say in a while. Josh Smith almost got them the win with his 30pts and Al Horford chipped in 12pts and 16rebs, but Joe Johnson, their captain, didn't have it tonight (as has been the story many nights shooting only 40% this season) only going for 11pts on 3-13 shooting.

- In Jersey, the Nets continued their half-hearted push for a playoff spot against Minnesota. They won 92-88, but neither team looked too impressive. The Nets won behind Vince Carter's 17pts and 10assts, but shot only 42% from the field as a team. Nenad Krstic seems to be getting back healthy though. In only 15mins tonight, he shot 5-9 for 10pts and 8rebs. He's a decent option if he keeps this up, starts and stays healthy. Minnesota had a lone bright spot tonight in Sebastian Telfair (24pts, 7assts) in the ugly loss.

- Denver went into South Beach tonight and got a tough OT win against Miami in a great finish. Mark Blount (18pts, 13rebs in total) hit a game-tying jumper in regulation to send it into OT, but the better team, Denver, eventually pulled it out, 114-113. The Nuggets got huge games out of a couple of role players tonight while AI and Melo were both cold (14-43 combined). Kenyon Martin went 12-16 from the field for 24pts and 6 boards, while J.R. Smith had 28pts tonight with 8 threes off the bench. For the Heat, Marion and Wade were "who we thought they were" having spectacular nights. Marion had 23pts, 18rebs on 11-26 shooting, while Wade was identical from the field for his 29pts and 10assts. Dorell Wright is also shows flashes as the other forward in the Heat starting lineup (19pts, 8rebs in this one).

- In Memphis, the hometown Grizz pulled out a hot 2nd half to beat the Kings. Hakim Warrick was the story in this one starting tonight and going for 24pts, 13rebs. Needless to say, a huge game, while J.C. Navarro was solid himself as the 6th man off the bench with 19pts himself. For the Kings, Kevin Martin took 23 shots to get his 31pts and no one else shot much better. The team shot 37% as a whole while losing 94-107.

- The last game of the night surprisingly took place in the Midwest, where the Hornets visited the Bulls. The Hornets went back to playing their game and won this one easily down the stretch, 100-86. New Orleans was led by Chris Paul and David West as usual (25pts, 4rebs, 14assts and 27pts, 7rebs, 2blks, respectively), while Peja put in 6treys himself to score 27pts. The Bulls got Kirk Hinrich back from injury, but Chris Duhon remained in the starting lineup. Duhon played 30mins, while Hinrich played 25. I don't think this will be a competition, just a case of Hinrich just returning from an injury and perhaps was not 100%. One thing the Bulls can hope for is health after the AS Break. Currently sitting in the 11th spot in the East at 20-31 and only 2 games out of the 8th seed, a healthy Bulls team could easily make a playoff push.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Start of All-Star Week

Only the Mavs play 3 times this week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday with Thursday-Sunday off for everyone) and they kicked off this exciting week on the NBA calendar in Philadelphia. The game looked putrid on paper as the Sixers won 84-76. The Mavs looked ready for a break as they only shot 35.1% from the field as a team and committed 14 turnovers. For Philly Andre Miller was solid again with 21pts, 8rebs and 7assts and showing teams why they should want him and is the main reason Lou Williams is still coming off the bench. Who knows, maybe the Sixers will keep him for the season considering nothing has been done yet.

San Antonio is looking forward to finishing up their long Rodeo road trip while playing and winning in Toronto tonight. They were led by Manu Ginobili who had 34pts, 15rebs, 6assts while making 6-12 treys. Needless to say, he helped a bit for owners in this shortened week. Jose Calderon was the main man for the Raps logging in 27pts and 6 dimes. He should be an All-Star and while he's not a forward, he should have been the man to replace KG rather than Rasheed (and I'm a HUGE 'Sheed fan). Other big news for the Spurs, they are expecting Tony Parker back from injury after this AS weekend.

In Orlando, it seems that after the Magic's hot start to the season, they have yet to put together another good run of wins. Tonight was no exception, Cleveland went into Florida and even though it was mostly a 2-man show again for the Cavs, Larry Hughes dropped 40pts to help the Cavs win 118-111. Lebron wasn't too shabby either with 29pts, 10assts and 7rebs. Orlando got their big games from their guys, but perimeter D (Hughes and Lebron?) was once again their issue as it has been for much of the season.

The Lakers won again tonight on the road in Charlotte and so far the Gasol trade could not have worked any better for LA. He had 26pts, 6rebs and 6assts tonight, playing 2nd fiddle to Kobe's 31pts. Ray Felton had a nice line with 29pts, 8assts and Nazr Mohammed added 22pts and 11rebs, but it wasn't enough to hold off the Lakers, who were efficient shooting 50% from the field and 29-34 from the line winning 118-111.

That other LA team won by the same margin at a different eastern conference arena. The Clips went into Milwaukee's Bradley Center and beat the Bucks, 96-89. They were led by rookie Al Thornton (25pts) who replaced the injured Tim Thomas in the starting lineup. Sam Cassell also chipped in 21pts and 8assts. For Milwaukee, Mo Williams had a rare great game with Michael Redd in the lineup with 31pts, but not doing much else. While Redd was bad from the field (3-13), he contributed by dishing out 11assts and grabbing 7 boards. Desmond Mason also recently made his return to the rotation taking over the starting forward spot and scoring 14pts in this one. Mason's been known for some scoring, but he doesn't score well from the line or from three so pick him up only if you expect some points contributions.

In Houston, the Rockets continued their playoff push against Portland, who's youth seems to be catching up with them. The Rockets won 95-83, led by Yao's 25pts and Rafer's all-around game (17pts, 7assts, 5rebs). The young Blazers just didn't have it on the road tonight. They got 22pts from LaMarcus Aldridge, but he took 26 shots and only made 10 of them.

In Golden State, there was a high scoring affair as there generally will be with the Warriors involved. Golden State pulled out a tight one in the end against the Wiz, 120-117. Washington was only playing with an 8 man rotation, but were hot early led by Roger Mason, who had 32pts and 6assts. The Wizard frontline both posted 20-10 games. Haywood had 20-10 and Jamison added his own 25-10 game. Golden State made up a 16pt deficit after the half though behind Stephen Jackson's season high 41pts.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

End of the Week

Sorry about the lack of news lately, but it was the weekend and I woke up too late this morning to beat the early start... Here are tonight's games though and hopefully it's not too late to get a jumpstart on next week.

- ABC had their early afternoon start in Boston, where 2 of the NBA's best clashed. Boston was hosting SA, who were still without Tony Parker. Rajon Rondo took advantage going for a rare double-double in categories besides points (12assts, 11rebs). Pierce led Boston to the win with his 35pts, while the Spurs could only manage 90pts against that nasty Celtic D. Duncan and Ginobili tried to keep San Antonio in it with 22pts, 14rebs and 21pts, respectively, but it wasn't enough.

- Shaq-less Miami hosted Kobe, Gasol and the Lakers next. Shawn Marion was in uniform and started for the Heat. The Lakers were too good though as Kobe led them with 33pts for a 104-94 win. Vladimir Radmonovic is back and starting. He only had 7pts in this one, but it's showing that Phil Jackson is trying out a big lineup for when Bynum returns. Marion had his usual numbers with 15pts and 14rebs in his debut and looks poised to keep performing at the level his owners are used to.

- New Jersey hosted Dallas in the early evening and beat a lackadaisical Mavs team, 101-82. Jason Kidd might as well as been having a try-out for the Mavs with his 13pts and 14assts. Nenad Krstic is back in the starting rotation at forward, but Sean Williams out-performed him today. Krstic only had 8pts in 17mins while Williams put up 15pts and 2blks in 25mins. For the Mavs, it looks like Barea will continue to start while Terry comes off the bench.

- Charlotte visited Detroit today and it wasn't even close. The Pistons romped the Cats, 113-87 behind Tayshaun Prince's 21pts. The Cats got 27pts out of Jason Richardson, but not much else. Emaka Okafor missed this game and while it may seem that Nazr started in his place, Coach Sam Vincent has recently given Mohammed the starting spot for the remainder of the season barring any major changes.

- In Minnesota, the Raptors won convincingly, 105-82. Jose Calderon led the Raps with 15pts and 10assts while TJ Ford backed him up with 13assts himself. Minnesota got Al Jefferson's 18-9 as usual. I'm keeping my eye on Randy Foye, however. He still seems to be getting back to game shape, shooting 4-10 with 8pts in 27mins tonight. Once he's healthy, I still can't tell what his ceiling would be. I'm considering dropping him right now, but patience could be a virtue in Foye's case.

- In Cleveland, Lebron and Larry Hughes were the only Cavs in double-digits, while getting pounded by the visiting Nuggets. Iverson and Carmelo went for 25pts, 13assts and 27pts, 8rebs, respectively. Lebron had 30pts and not much help anywhere else. Starting PG Eric Snow had 1pt in 25mins of PT.

- In Phoenix, there was an actual close game tonight. Washington went in injured and pushed the Suns, but just couldn't close on the road. The Suns won 108-107 behind Amare's 31pts and 13rebs and Nash's 10pts and 12 assts. Washington was without Caron Butler and Antonio Daniels, but got big production from their starters with their entire frontcourt going for double-doubles. Haywood, Blatche and Jamison had 21-10, 11-10 and 28-10, respectively and the Wiz backcourt, Roger Mason and Deshawn Stevenson, both had 18pts.