The Moonball Blog

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Some serious series

Not a week ago, crowds in LA and Boston were chanting for a rematch. Now the respective fan bases need a win. The fun has begun.

I will admit that I am nervous for Boston. Despite the 3-2 advantage, the potential suspension of Kendrick Perkins and the concussion of Glen Davis make Game 6 a tough road to hoe. Rondo does not look right, and Sheed came up hobbling with a bad back in the 4th quarter. Tony Allen’s surgically repaired ankle has flare up. When Boston was cranking, folks were healthy. Now? Gut check time for the Big 3.

I hope the NBA rescinds at least one of the two Perkins’ techs. Perk has earned MANY technicals this year, but the two in Game 5 were total bullshit. Frankly, his ejection assured the Celtics loss given the unforeseen knock out of Davis. If somehow the Celtics lose Perk for Game 6, the NBA should start marketing its refs, cause clearly they are the stars.

What I love about the playoffs is that what happens in one game has so little relevance to what happens in the next. Sure, match ups and sets carry over game to game, but with adjustments and the random bounce of the ball, the outcome is determined by the action on the floor. Boston has been sketchy at home all season. Reserves like Michael Finley, Nate Robinson and Sheldon Williams may be called on to deliver. But if Paul, Ray and KG all show big, the Celtics return to the promised land.

As for LA and Phoenix, I can’t imagine the Lakers losing this series. Los Suns bench is phenomenal, and the zone defense certainly confounds the triangle. But even if Phoenix wins Game 5, the Kobe-Gasol combo seems beyond Los Suns control.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

musings during the pregnant pause

This has got to be the longest t.v. time out in League history.

Couple of thoughts while I was passing the time:

Not that it isn’t being said everywhere, but Rondo has taken his game to an extraordinary level. He was an absolute surgeon in Game 2, scoring every big bucket during Orlando’s desperate attempt to reclaim their season. Having watched him play some 250 games these past three years (no lie, I got league pass and dvr), his vocabulary for dominance seems to grow every game.

Did yall catch Dwight Howard’s little Marcel Marceau routine prior to Game 2? As he was slapping five with various team officials in a dramatic pre-game ritual, he stopped in front of two dudes, who on cue fake poured pretend powder on his out-stretched hands, which he then fake threw up in the air ala LeBron ala KG. That’s the kind of creative energy I want my super star exhibiting before the big game.

Is it weird that both Stan Van Gundy and Alvin Gentry have admitted that their team cannot guard its opponent? In other coaching news, thank god we don’t have to listen to Doug ‘I Love You Kobe’ Collins next year. Let’s hope Philly plays well enough that he doesn’t get fired until at least 2012.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Further proof that Phil Jackson gets up in the morning and sucks all day

Immigration is an admittedly complicated issue about which good people can disagree. But Phil Jackson's take in an interview with J.A. Adande shows the gutless, front-running nature of the fakiest zen master this side of Master Splinter.

Says Jackson: "I don't think teams should get involved in the political stuff. And I think this one's still kind of coming out to balance as to how it's going to be favorably looked upon by our public. If I heard it right the American people are really for stronger immigration laws, if I'm not mistaken. Where we stand as basketball teams, we should let that kind of play out and let the political end of that go where it's going to go."

So we should wait to see if something is popular before we decide whether it is moral or even logistically possible or economically wise? Sounds like the key word for the carefully spoken Jackson was in his third sentence: If I heard RIGHT. . .

I think Phil is not just sitting on the sidelines. Another comment to Adande: "Am I crazy, or am I the only one that heard [the legislature] say 'we just took the United States immigration law and adapted it to our state.'"

Knowing that Phil is a master of spin, there is zero chance he is so dumb to take Gov Jan Brewer's words on face value.

F Phil Jackson.


Game 1: Advantage Boston

Boston declared their intentions in earnest on pursing championship 18 with a not-nearly-as-close-as-the-score 92-88 Game 1 win in Orlando. Things looked good for the C's from the get. Returned is the defense that won them the Championship in 2008. Boston's bigs swarmed the paint, while perimeter guys denied and jammed passing lanes. Boston's decision to live with Howard and single coverage put huge pressure on Orlando to get open shots from 3 point land.

On the other end of the court, from the opening moments Pierce was on fire and Ray Allen was in attack mode. Ray went to the rack 4 times in the first quarter, scoring a buckets and earning a four of free throws, including a foul on Dwight Howard. Seemed like both Paul and Ray had fresh memories of many of these same Magic whuppin up on them in 2009. Different year, different result. By the time Rondo started to attack in the second quarter, Orlando's defense was officially in shambles. Boston's bench player of Allen, Davis and Wallace all found ways to score.

Boston's third quarter barrage ended the game. Whether the series is still a contest is a question Orlando has to answer.

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Aw schucks. Looks like the men in Green have caught a little lighting in a jar, don't cha know.

I could not have imagined this from the Celtics a month ago when the Playoffs began. Garnett is playing brilliantly. For that matter, so are Pierce and Allen. World knows how Rondo is rolling. Throw in Perk, Davis, Sheed and Allen, and you get a juggernaut.

Despite Orlando valiant comeback, Boston essentially crushed them. The Magic have given to the Celtics pretty good this year. In the regular season, as much as Boston has defended Orlando's perimeter attack, the Celtics seemingly had no answer for the inside beef of the Magic. Post season, Boston seems almost a whole new team.

In Game 1, a healthy KG, beastmaster Perkins, Glenn Davis and fired up Sheed ruled the paint. More importantly in what shall certainly be a defensive series, on the offensive end Boston has established serious match up advantages at three positions (Paul-Vince, Ray-Barnes, Rajon-Jameer).

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Got a letter from Orlando. . .

. . . the other day.
Open it and read it,
Said they were suckers

One of the things that pissed me off the most last year when Orlando shocked Cleveland to advance to the Finals last season was that I knew it guaranteed a Laker victory. Orlando has several suspect performers in their rotation, and their leader Dwight Howard has huge holes in his game. Left to their own devices in the Eastern Conference, Orlando could go on a Jim Kelly/Buffalo Bills run.

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Vince Carter and Grant Hill in the Conference Finals

Been a long hard road for both of these NBA luminaries. Now, well removed from the spotlight they once commanded, each has a chance as a support player to get their team to the Finals. Both have to play out of their mind. I do not think Vince is up to the challenge. Defense matters, and Vince never got that.

Grant Hill, on the other hand, has channeled all his savvy and skill towards the D. humanshoe hit me with this sweet image the other day: Grant friggin Duke'n to his Dukiest level and messing up Kobe with cheap charges and all that other crap Dukie do.

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Hoping for a fortunate turn of the carousel

Here's hoping for the periodic rotation of NBA announcers to the bench and visa versa leads to some good things for the fans. For starters, someone please hire JVG and Mark Jackson. Listening to those two bozos and Breen-meister is so painful. What a self-referential trio. Collins is another guy I would love to see back haunting sideline huddles. That Kobe-loving, uninformed front runner says almost nothing constantly.

McHale, on the other hand, seems a natural for this work. Kevin has always been a great talker. He has some really funny phrases, and is much less prone to the hyberbole that so permeates NBA commentary. If some of those clowns get the call to coach, maybe McHale will call more games.

Wonder if Mike Brown is any good on the mic?

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Friday, May 14, 2010

I don't believe in magic

I do believe in KG.

Things were a little bit different last time Boston tangled with the Magic. A bedraggled front line of Perk, Glen Davis, Mikki Moore and Brian Scalabrine played better than anyone might have imagined, taking the soon to be exposed Magic to an improbable 7 games. Boston actually had several chances to win the series, including late game free throw misses by Allen and Pierce. But the Magic were the better team, and they advanced.

The Magic are likely better than last year. Jameer Nelson is a huge upgrade on their side. Vince is going off right now. They have won 13 in a row, including two sweeps in the first two round.

Thing is, with KG on the Celts, I am not sure I like Orlando's chances.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Uh-Oh, what you gawn do now?

Man oh man, what a huge game for the Celts last night. LeBron is hurt, and as such, the rest of the Cavs are exposed as the suckers they are. Boston has match up advantages all over the floor. Sweet old KG is looking spry, and Jamison can only relent in his presence. Mo Williams on Ray Allen? Funny as it sounds. Rondo vs. Anthony Parker? Funnier still. Tony Allen is the fastest guy on the floor not named LeBrondo. Though Shaq has scored on Perk, the Celt's big man is holding down the single coverage. Davis has matched Varejo's energy. Sheed has battled Shaq, Z, Andy, Antwan and Hickson sufficiently. Basically, unless LeBron goes nuts, this series is over Thursday.

Now, of course, Bron could well go nuts. But as Khujo says, even Tyson can get laid down.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oh Shmoe-Bee

There's so much to love about the Suns I barely need to spend much effort this year hating on the Lakers. But Kobe is in a category all his own. Luckily, he's set himself up for ridicule with the stupid photo shoot he did recently. Deadspin has a nice selection of Photoshopped mashups, and there are others out there. But the original images are clownerific enough as it is. Come on Pilgrim!

P.S. Celtics/Lakers rematch?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Me, Sheed and the Denver Airport

The extreme Sheed lover that I am, you can imagine how disappointing it has been to see his weak-ass play while sporting the Green. His defense, the core of his ability to dominate, has diminished to the point where he is a severe liability. Especially during the the C's last 50 games, anytime Sheed was on the floor and the shot clock was winding down, opposing guards simply drove at him the paint. The result? Either Sheed gave them the matador and allowed an easy lay up, or he gave it a half-assed reach and gave away free throws. Sometimes both. Infuriating, to say the least.

To me, the true litmus test of whether a player you like still
has it is during the playoffs. If you feel anxious every time they are on the court, the race is run and the player is done. But however far Sheed has fallen off, there still seems to be some special magic for me as a Sheed fan. That magic happens in the Denver Airport.

See, I was on a flight back from somewhere last summer and had an hour plus to kill in the Mile High city. Using Denver's painfully slow wi-fi, I uploaded the story of Sheed signing with the C's. The exhiliration I felt carried me home to Portland on a cloud of happiness. Rasheed a Celtic. I knew he was on the back end of his career, but how much did he need to do to make Boston better? 20 minutes of D and 3's sounded like a very achievable reality.
Then the season began, and Sheed's decline was clear as day. Ughh. It was not even playoffs, and yet I had "Get him off the floor' mantra running by mid January.

At times he seemed dis-enchanted, other times lost..Doc dropped him below Glen Davis in Miami, which gave me relief. But even his 12 minute stints seemed to much. When Rivers mentioned after Game 1 vs the Cavs that he was thinking of elevating Dukie Shelden Williams, both Dave and I agreed it was likely for the best.

But then I returned to the Denver airport. I had a 60 minutes lay-over on my way to Little Rock, enough time to catch most all of the first half, and 13 point scoring outburst Mr. Wallace. While he still had suspect moments on D, his signature fire had returned, at least for a half.
I landed in Arkansas a few hours later and logged on to see the Celtics had won in a romp. Sheed had for a game fulfilled the fantasies that were birthed in Denver some 9 months prior.

I am in Denver as I blog this, now returning home. My next trip through this airport in on June 1. Just in time for the Finals.

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