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NBA Playoff Quick picks

In NBA on April 17, 2010 at 12:25 am

It’s playoff time in the NBA, with the first round match ups getting started this weekend. Here’s how it should go down:

Eastern Playoffs

No.1 Cleveland Cavaliers vs No.8 Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls just pipped Toronto’s Raptors to the last playoff spot in the East with a late season surge. Their reward? A meeting with King James and his Cleveland side, who finished the regular season with an NBA best 61-21 record.

The Bulls have some great talent, with Derrick Rose always dangerous and Luol Deng back from injury. Kirk Hinrich is also a tough player, with Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah hoovering up the majority of the boards for Chicago. They won’t have the scoring to keep up with LeBron and his supporting cast though, and will be doing well to even take a game from the Cavs

This one is all Cleveland. Expect James to dominate with Antawn Jamison, Shaquille O’Neal and the rest tuning up their games in preparation for the bigger challenges to come.

Cavaliers in 4 Read the rest of this entry »

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NBA Breakdown

In NBA on March 9, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Utah Jazz vs Portland Trail Blazers

The Utah Jazz arrived in Portland on the back of six consecutive road
wins, and they aimed to make it four in the back yard of a Blazers
team struggling with form and injuries.

With Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan at the reins in Utah, the team has
grown into the season and looks like a real contender. To add to their
six straight road wins, they have won 16 of their last 18 games as
Sloan coasts to his 21st winning season out of 22.

The Trail Blazers, meanwhile, have become something of a joke this
season, but not through any real fault of their own. Their fans have
had to have patience with this young team as player after player drops
with another injury. Coming into this one, their players had missed a
whopping 254 games between them this season, with centres Greg Oden
and Joel Przybilla huge losses, both literally and figuratively. Even
their coach hasn’t been immune from the jinx, Nate McMillan collapsing
with a ruptured Achilles when he stood in for a training drill
recently.

For this one, their star guard Brandon Roy was nursing a hamstring,
but this was evened out with the Jazz doing without Mehmet Okur and
then losing Andrei Kirilenko early in the clash.

Read the rest of this entry »

NBA Breakdown

In NBA on February 4, 2010 at 5:48 pm

We continue our NBA Breakdown series with a high octane clash between two teams that are right in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, the Phoenix Suns and the Houston Rockets.

Here’s how it went down…

The Phoenix Suns came into this one on a 5 game road losing streak, and with only one win to show for their travels since the end of November. They didn’t seem like a team low on confidence though, as they blasted their way to an early lead.

Veteran Grant Hill was their early go to option, as he burned the Rockets on a number of break aways. They took advantage of any misses to launch Hill up the court, and quickly racked up 8 points on the fast break. That’s the strength of this team, and if they’re given an opportunity to run, then they will score some big points.

The home side were still yawning and rubbing the sleep from their eyes as the Suns stealthily took a 19-6 lead. The Rockets were clanging their jump shots and managed to miss 14 of their first 16 attempts from the field, which set the tone for their wayward efforts all night. They went six minutes without a score in the 1st quarter, as Russell Brand lookalike Luis Scola and the normally clockwork Shane Battier each went 2 for 7. Point guard Aaron Brooks was coming off a 33 point game against Portland, but with him only hitting 1 of 7, the Rocks were in serious trouble.

They were playing right into their opponents hands by trying to outrun them, and the game began to resemble some kind of celebrity shuttle run as Brooks and the ageless Steve Nash bounced their teams up and down the court. Houston aren’t as well built for this as Nash’s puppets though, and while 6 of the the Suns’ 8 baskets were layups, Brooks’ boys just didn’t have the same kind of quicksilver ball movement. A ‘points in the paint’ differential of 16-4 in favour of the Suns should have persuaded them that things had to change, and their second string began to play a bit tighter, closing the gap to 28-21 at the buzzer.

Read the rest of this entry »

NBA Breakdown

In NBA on January 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Last Monday, the NBA celebrated Martin Luther King Day the only way they know how – with a feat of basketball action. MLK Day also marked (roughly) the half way point of the season, and with four of the top teams in action, here’s a breakdown of the night’s games and a run-down of the strengths and weaknesses of this quartet of playoff hopefuls.

Orlando Magic@LA Lakers

This game saw the No.1 team in the NBA, Kobe Bryant’s LA Lakers, taking on the 4th ranked team in the East, the Orlando Magic, in a repeat of last season’s NBA Finals.

The Lakers have been downright scary this year, amassing a record of 32-9 to easily hold the 1st seed in the West. The Magic, by contrast, have struggled compared to last year. Their star player, centre Dwight Howard, is still the best big man in the league, but he needs to add some finesse to his game. He could also do with some help from his teammates. Not even ‘Superman’ can carry this side to the Championship single-handed.

This game provided another pertinent example of the flaws that exist in this Orlando side. They lead the league in 3 point attempts, and the Lakers lead the league in 3 point defence, so this was always going to be tricky match-up for them, especially at the Staples Centre.

Kobe Bryant was quiet on Monday, but got the help he needed from his teammates

LA came out swinging in this one, as veteran Derek Fisher sparked them off to a great start. They worked hard on defence, forcing the Magic to make the extra pass as they built a 21-8 lead. They also made a big statement in these early stages as they beat the visitors at their own game. The Lakers hit 4/4 from long range, as they held their trigger happy opponents to just 1/8. Read the rest of this entry »

NBA Breakdown

In NBA on January 21, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Last Monday, the NBA celebrated Martin Luther King Day the only way they know how – with a feast of basketball action. MLK Day also marked (roughly) the half way point of the season, and with four of the top teams in action, here’s a breakdown of the night’s games and a run-down of the strengths and weaknesses of this quartet of playoff hopefuls.

Dallas Mavericks@Boston Celtics

This game saw the No.2 teams in the East and West battle it out in Boston, and it turned out to be a perfect example of that hoary old cliché, the ‘game of two halves’.

Boston were by far the better team in the first period, and held a deserved 9 point lead at the break. Young point guard Rajon Rondo keyed the offense beautifully. He regularly committed two or more men before slipping the ball off to a teammate with an open look. Centre Kendrick Perkins and Ray Allen were the main beneficiaries, as Perkins racked up 8 points and 8 rebounds, while Allen knocked down numerous open jumpers. The veteran sniper can still take over a game with his outside shooting, and Rondo’s prompting allowed him to slip into rhythm. Brian Scalabrine and Glen Davis also gave them a jolt off the bench which their opponents couldn’t match.

Point guards Rajon Rondo and Jason Kidd both performed well on Monday night

Boston also did a great job taking care of the ball, as they outscored the Mavs 12 to 3 on fastbreak points, which is usually where Dallas flourishes. Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki can do it all, and he picked up 15 points on 5/9 shooting. He was rarely afforded too much space though, as the returning Rasheed Wallace closed on him every time he touched the ball. Nowitzki never got the support he needed either. Read the rest of this entry »