Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2011 NBA Season Postview, Part 2, The Finals

Lots have been written about this already. I'm going to try some semi-original thoughts.

First, let's congratulate your 2011 NBA World Champions, the Dallas Mavericks. I'm including the word "World" in that title because basketball was invented in America, this is our highest league, and whenever the Europeans or Africans or whoever wants to send a team Champions League style, they are welcome to play by our rules on our turf. This is an American sport, and we dictate the rules of play. Don't tell me European basketball is pure or anything like that; NBA players may not always play the game well, and Europeans may be better at a few specific things (okay, a lot of things, but their clogging-the-lane-stuff is so old), but American basketball is the way basketball should be played. We care about things like the World Championship and Olympics out of hubris; we care about the Finals because it matters. Take Dirk: he could have been a pansy, stayed in Europe, dominated all the soft big men, and won more than a few titles. But he, being a basketball guru, decided (before his time) to come and play with the big boys, and now, sportscasters and fans alike are proclaiming his toughness, guts, and spirit.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

2011 NBA Draft Preview, Part 1

I'm posting a little before the draft because of a timing issue. I'll finish Mavs/Heat later. Here are my top 5 for each position:

PG: Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Brandon Knight, Josh Selby, Nolan Smith.
SG: Jimmer Fredette, E'Twuan Moore, Jacob Pullen, Malcolm Lee, Alec Burks.
SF: Marcus Morris, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Singleton, Tobias Harris.
PF: Derrick Williams, Enes Kanter, Markieff Morris, Tristan Thompson, Jan Vesely.
C: Keith Benson, Josh Harrellson, Jonas Valanciunas, Mamadou Diarra, Donatus Motiejunas, Giorgio Shermandini

Edit: I had mistakenly Tristan Thompson down twice; this has been corrected to Klay Thompson. 

NBA Season Postview, Part 1

As you might have noticed, I was absent from the blogging realm during the NBA Finals, which happen to be the most important postseason stretch for me as I am a basketball fan first. What the heck happened? Well, long story short, I met the most incredible person in the world a while ago and we were married on June 3. This blog has all the details. I was in Hawaii for much of the Finals, and while I did see games 1, 2, and 6, I wasn't able to comment on them for reasons you will understand.

So, what happened since I left off? Well, my conference finals predictions were one for two, with Chris Bosh and LeBron James surprising me with their clutch play in the Chicago series. In fact, after his debacle against Boston, Bosh seemed to really settle mentally and emerged as the Heat's most consistent player. Consistency alone does not a champion make, but this was a big stride for someone that can get lost in all the Heatles hoopla. LeBron crafted some great fourth quarters after realizing that scoring before the two minute mark can help. The series also revealed Chicago's drastic lack of depth behind Rose at both point and shooting guards. Mike Fratello noted on a Bill Simmons podcast interview that Chicago needed one more ball handler, and I whole-heartedly agree. C. J. Watson is serviceable against horrible benches, but once Rose had to give it up, no one could really create for himself or his teammates. In this situation, you either have to have a clutch closer that can make things happen against the double team (Rose passed out of them too quickly, even though that is usually the best move), or an ingrained system that can seek flaws in the defense and beat it through execution. Tom Thibodeau joins the long list of lauded defense-first head coaches without much of an offensive system, and if he wants to continue his success, he will need to install a better one.