Six Pack Of NBA Thoughts: What Is Wrong With The Knicks?

1. Of course since Donnie Walsh dug the Knicks out of one of the worst financial holes in NBA history and turned them into a contender again, it made sense to push him out the door so Isiah Thomas, the man who dug the financial hole could have more influence. It is hard to believe that whoever the Knicks name the new GM, still won’t have as much power as Thomas regardless of what his official title is. In this city, James Dolan needs to go as bad as the Wilpons need to go.

2. You can’t think this move bodes well for Mike D’Antoni’s future with the Knicks. It also doesn’t help with the rapidly approaching draft. The Knicks can’t afford to miss with the number 17 pick, as they don’t have a first round pick next year. As of now it is up in the air who is ultimately making the final call, which is never good thing.

3. If you aren’t a D’Antoni fan…remember the Knicks could have had Rick Carlisle as their head coach once upon a time.

4. More quotes and fallout from Walsh “stepping down”

5. You think the NFL Lockout is bad? Wait until both the NFL and NBA are locked out this fall and baseball is over…time to dust off my old Rangers jersey and start liking hockey again.

6. How about that game last night? The entire world was ready to hand over the next five NBA titles to the Miami Heat with about 7 minutes left on the clock in the fourth quarter. Fortunately, Dallas showed Miami is far from invincible and if you punch them in the mouth, there is a good chance they will back down. Perhaps the Heat should have finished the game before prematurely starting their celebration. Dirk Nowitzki gave us all a performance for the ages and now we have a series again.

Thoughts On NBA Finals Game 1/New York Knicks Draft

TOJ at SB Nation New York on why the Knicks should pass on Jimmer Fredette in the NBA Draft

1. Do any of you Knicks fans out there disagree about Fredette? Forgot about the big name, it is time to realize the Knicks can’t outscore everybody on their way to a NBA title. The reason Miami is probably going to win it all this year is because of how they have dedicated themselves to playing elite level, high energy defense these past few months. It is time for the Knicks to surround their two stars with the proper role players, who can rebound and defend…and then of course hope for Dwight Howard or Chris Paul in 2012.

2. Dallas had a great opportunity last night to steal game one and they let it get away. There were too many missed open shots by Dirk’s supporting cast, most notably Jason Terry. Now Dirk will be dealing with a torn tendon in his finger, which is only going to make the uphill climb Dallas has now that much harder. The role players need to do more for the Mavericks, especially when it comes to rebounding and hitting open threes or this will be a short series.

3. Amazing how out of it Dwyane Wade could look in the first half and then completely hit the switch in the fourth quarter. This is LeBron’s show now but Wade was the key player down the stretch last night, with his block of Shawn Marion followed by a back breaking three.

4. I can’t help but think Udonis Haslem is in Dirk’s head…at least just a little bit.

5. How in the hell is Juwan Howard playing fourth quarter minutes in a NBA Finals game?

NBA Finals coverage at SB Nation

Strange Days: How The NBA Finals Will Define The Lives Of Many

Justin weighs in with his thoughts on the NBA Finals before they tipped off last night…

This is it. The finals. It has been a long, strange road. We had the foolish notion to assume a 6’2 point guard could actually work over the greatest power forward on earth without a legitimate 2nd man. Boozer was a joke. We assumed you could live off of pure talent and athleticism without having second or third round playoff experience. Both thoughts have been struck out with a rather convincing display of wisdom and what I can only call “complete” basketball.

The Mavericks showed that a roster of players who have been to the Finals will always outdo the inexperienced Thunder, who had to rely on out of this world displays by 21 and 22 year old players who are still learning how to play team basketball.

I thought that the Heat would have to rely on Lebron and D-Wade. Then I realized Udonis Haslem, who has been gone for what seemed like the entire year, was what really made the Heat machine tick. Remember, he was there for the 2006 championship and knew that the Big 2 would need help. They got it in both the physical and emotional sense.

I tried to go about this objectively, but after considerable thought, trying to think of a Dallas championship seems to be rather far fetched to me. Let’s say Dirk does go for 50. The Heat would probably do better letting him score that many, because playing defense on the rest of the team would be a joke. Jason Terry against Dwayne Wade? That’s almost laughable. Watching Jason Kidd trying to keep up with Lebron would be even funnier. Mario Chalmers may not be an All Star, but he will be a wash with Kidd. 38 years old makes him the oldest point guard in Finals history. This is not the team you want to play against.

The Heat will make plays that throw SportsCenter into a complete frenzy. They have been waiting for this. They will make people who hate them throw televisions out the window. It will be like a Michael Bay movie. They are actually currently installing 43 pyrotechnic towers along the sidelines with tags in Heat players sneakers for fast breaks, and I am told they are preparing backboard flamethrowers for every LeBron dunk. It will make Transformers 3 look like Little House On The Prairie. Some even say the temperature in their building will be increased to 136 degrees before warmups. It will be like watching Ali in Africa. Complete and utter physicality.

The question remains. Do we want the Heat to win? I don’t know. Do I want Dallas to win? I don’t know. Perhaps I would like to see Dirk vindicated…

Do I want to see Lebron vindicated? Not really, but I do think there is a certain point that you reach when your entire life has been devoted to something, reaching a dramatic arc, and violently exploding like the eventual megastar status of the sun…maybe it will be a last second game 7 dunk. One can only hope.

NBA Finals Preview and Prediction

TOJ’s NBA Finals preview at Gunaxin. Can Dirk Nowitzki and company save us from suffering through a Miami title?

Five other observations and predictions for the NBA Finals…

1. A key factor in this series is how much DeShawn Stevenson, the Mavericks starter who usually barely plays 15 minutes a game, can slow down Dwyane Wade or LeBron James if given the chance. Most people are assuming he will cover Wade considering the job he did on him during the regular season (2 points in 30 minutes) but if LeBron starts going off, will they slide Stevenson  over? Don’t forget the old Stevenson/LeBron beef from the 2008 playoffs, when Stevenson was on Washington and LeBron was on Cleveland which was big enough to pull in both Jay-Z and Soulja Boy.

2. How much longer can the unexpected renaissance of Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion last? Dallas is going to need Kidd to continue to spread the floor with his three point shooting and outplay the Mario Chalmers/Mike Bibby combination the way he should. Marion will be part of the committee thrown at slowing down LeBron and needs to continue with his surprising offensive contributions to compliment Dirk.

3. Will Dirk Nowitzki still have what Udonis Haslem did to him in 2006 floating around in his head? Yes, the supporting cast is obviously important but the only way Dallas is beating Miami’s big three is if Dirk remains on the level he has been this entire post-season. He needs to play like an all-time great to pull off this upset, especially with the tear LeBron has been on.

4. Even if the previous comments may not indicate it, I do think Dallas will sneak this series out in seven. They have that “team of destiny” feel and I think they will get revenge for what happened in the 2006 Finals. Dirk will remain at the level he has been this post-season and I think the supporting cast will hit enough big shots. Beyond Dirk, Dallas is a collection of former all-stars (Kidd, Marion, and Peja Stojakovic) with one final shot at a ring and I think they will answer the call in a big spot. Miami is going to get their titles eventually, I just don’t think it will happen in year one.

5. It is too bad this series won’t be on TNT. You can’t beat that studio show.

Dirk Is A Bad Man & Other Thoughts On Western Conference Finals

Perhaps we were expecting too much from the young Oklahoma City Thunder in only their second playoff appearance or perhaps they just ran into the wrong player at the wrong time.

We knew how good Dirk Nowitzki was before these playoffs started. We didn’t know he was about to rip off a playoff run of legendary proportions, that is going to change how he is viewed historically. If Dirk finishes what he started, you can expect plenty of people to start rearranging their all time top 20, 15, and maybe even 10 player list…that is how much of a monster Dirk has been in these playoffs.

It almost feels like destiny that the Mavericks will get another shot at the Miami Heat (sorry, Chicago is done) to right the wrongs from 2006, when the NBA Finals MVP should have been the referees, not Dwayne Wade. Let’s hope this year’s Finals aren’t decided by the whistle…

As for the Thunder, the young pups clearly weren’t ready for the big stage yet, particularly Russell Westbrook who was the x-factor coming into this series and simply didn’t come through. Oklahoma City won a single game this series and in that game Westbrook didn’t see the floor in the fourth quarter. He spent way too much time missing shots and way too little time running the offense, while making sure Kevin Durant and James Harden were getting enough touches.

Last night was a perfect example, 28 shots is too many, especially when they are coupled with only 5 assists and 3 turnovers. Westbrook is an immense talent and hopefully this year’s playoffs will serve as a valuable lesson to him because with a nucleus of himself, Durant, and Harden this team should be right back to contending for a title next year.

Beat The Drum: The Warrior Is Here

“Pressure can burst a pipe or pressure can make a diamond”
– Robert Horry

As drama critics are looking for work, NBA writers are writing odes to Dirk and Derrick. How could you not become poetic after each game 1? With a Western Conference Finals pitting two 22 year old superstars against a bunch of rapidly aging veterans with a 7 foot shooter who all of the sudden realized somebody had to be Playoff Kobe when Kobe isn’t around, who wouldn’t watch with a box of tissues and a bottle of Jameson next to them? I personally prefer a glass of red for every home team basket and a glass of white for every away team basket, but details at this point are trivial.

So why do I keep looking at Miami and Oklahoma City like they’re not ready for the stage? The Heat will not win a championship with two guys that aren’t playing to absolute perfection. Apparently there are three other guys that are supposed to do something on the court as well, but in Miami the other three, save for Bosh occasionally showing up when there is no hope, do not seem to share the same desire to win.

Remember the Lakers? Didn’t have the desire to win. Got comfortable. The Heat are going through the same thing, except they have rested on the fact that almost all NBA writers watched the 2nd round series against the Celtics and pretty much wrote off the Bulls. The Celtics were running on pure fumes, there would have been nothing left against the Bulls, it would have been an all out thrashing. The whole team would have broken down, resulting in Delonte West and Jeff Green becoming starters by game 4.

The Thunder however, seem to be on the verge of becoming a great team, but due to mid season trades, things have become a little strange. Yes, they had enough to finally put away the Grizzlies, but the pressure only gets higher, and every missed basket is like a last second shot attempt. Athleticism will not win championships. Ask Lebron. They have to get smarter, they have to be more efficient, and can’t turn over the ball on these insane, free for all fast breaks that seem like a last ditch effort to simply outrun the opposing team. Speed kills indiscriminately. Westbrook getting stuffed results in one less man on the defensive end when the Mavs start that insane shooting parade.

There will be enough swing between games one and seven to bring back the 70s. Ordinary sports writers will become schizophrenic and watch every game with split personalities. Old vs young. Good vs. Evil. All sides will reign at some point.

They Fell Towards The Night…How The Lakers And Celtics Went Away In Outrage & Silence

Watching the end of the Lakers game made me sit back in disbelief, it was all too easy. There was nothing left to examine. I watched a dynasty crumble. The fouls that outraged the old guard of the franchise were almost on cue, it had been written but what scared me the most is that after two complete beat downs Kobe Bryant didn’t completely lose it in any of the press conferences and give that strange scowl of utter disgust towards everyone in the room.

Phil Jackson checked out early. The brain can’t try and compute after so many mistakes. There was nothing to do except try and remember that the voices behind him would soon be gone for good. Find the golden silence and drift away, occasionally whisper to Brian Shaw…

Where does the loss of the Celtics and the Lakers leave us? Where are we going? Is Miami really something we want? I try and look at Miami like postmodern art, I understand the spectacle but there’s no soul there. There is no mystery. It is a pure efficient athletic monster. It is the NBA combine but will it survive the pressure? At this point there have been 353,948 articles available on the internet about the Heat, with the current rate at 27 per hour.

Are we going somewhere too fast? Is there a reality being faced? A strange hyper-trading, big money moves all over the place league of no teammates that aren’t preconceived and no real hometown heroes? What are the Miami Heat? What exactly is Modern Miami for that matter? Are they evil for being so over the top and plastic? Remember that parade? It is impossible not to factor South Beach in to what they represent: it is a funhouse of sex, fast money and drugs and you, America, want a condo on Ocean Drive.

The Lakers were old Hollywood. The Bulls were hallowed ground after Jordan. The Heat are the rap stars of today, they’re richer than you, they’re more popular than you and you’re jealous. You hate the fact that basketball can be the most over the top and entertaining sport known to man, you hate the strong preying on the weak.

You hate it, yet it is like watching cars roar down the Bonneville Salt Flats. You know at least one will explode, it is just a matter of when and explosions are fun from a distance.

Screaming On The Radio: Let Forth The Rage Of The Playoffs

The NBA playoffs are in full on Wagner-high drama mode. The Spurs got knocked off with a whimper, again the “Tim Duncan is old” monster rears its head. The Pacers gave the Bulls everything a team without a real star can give. The Knicks went down in a tangled pile of tragedy. Dwight Howard is spending his afternoons looking at houses in Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant is thinking of the deal already. Gasol is contemplating going home in relative glory/shame. If Phil doesn’t get Dwight the whole Staples Center will collapse under its own expectations.

Portland is doomed, Gred Oden will have a child and he too will be drafted by the Blazers. Lord knows if the Hornets will exist by August, with the way they’re blowing up levees in this country half the midwest won’t exist by next year.

The East and The West each have a truly once in a lifetime series, the East having the pure hubris of youth and athleticism against basketball IQ and veteran leadership, it’s like watching the future beat down the past in the present, yet there is something sad about it…oh wait…the Celtics swept the Knicks…not sad.

The West has the Lakers falling apart from all corners: passing, defense, scoring. Kobe Bryant looks like he’s the only one that needs to win, not wants to win, needs to win. I may despise the sunshine of Kobe and the Lakers, but I respect the drive he has, which when it is all said and done may have outdone Jordan in terms of pure effort, it is hard to play 1 on 5.

The Thunder look like there is going to be a serious showdown in a game 7. Memphis has two great players. The Thunder have two great players. Things are looking up for fans in Chicago, you will have a chance to prove that a small point guard can beat three cyborgs.

If the Lakers and the Celtics get knocked out before the conference finals, it will say something, something about the way the NBA is shifting towards a two or three all star minimum for any sort of success in the playoffs, it’s happening, think about who is already a part of it: Miami…New York..Oklahoma City…

Basketball may finally put baseball to death amongst the youth, try watching an NBA playoff game and then switch over to baseball, actually don’t you might miss Derrick Rose going off or Lebron making Rondo look like a yoga instructor, god bless those who write about baseball without the aid of drink.