Friday, December 31, 2004

Friday's NBA Picks

December 31, 2004

Home Team in CAPS

Record with individual team in []'s

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (1-2), Week: (11-17), Year: (189-168-12), Lock: (13-12-1)

  • BOSTON [8-16] -5 over Washington [10-13-2] **Gilbert Arenas Out (Flu)**
  • Seattle [14-9] -7 over CHARLOTTE [8-13-3]
  • Sacramento [10-10-2] -4.5 over UTAH [13-13]--LOCK
  • Philadelphia [18-4-1] +4.5 over DENVER [14-11]
  • San Antonio [12-13-1] -7.5 over CLIPPERS [9-14]
  • Milwaukee [18-4-1] +7.5 over HOUSTON [8-13-2]

Riding the road teams today!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Thursday's NBA Picks

December 30, 2004

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (2-7), Week: (10-15), Year: (188-166-12)

  • Indiana [14-7-2] +3.5 over NEW JERSEY [11-12]
  • DETROIT [15-9] +2 over Miami [14-10-2]
  • PORTLAND [11-11-] +7 over San Antonio [12-12-1]

Some rough losses last night; that's the way it goes these days. I'm going to keep on chugging along though...

Random Thoughts

By Anthony Peretore

  • Did you ever notice that Lenny Wilkens and Billy Crystal have the same voice?

  • Why does Chauncey Billups have his own commercial?

  • Why is the floor trying to eat him?

  • And what's funnier, all that, or the fact that he flips the ball to Sebastian Telfair in the end? And is that Gilbert Arenas sitting next to him? Can anyone besides like 7 people on earth name all three of those guys? Is Adidas crazy?

  • Why is Dwayne Wade sponsered by Converse? He's a top 10 player in the league right now. He can't do any better? And what about Chris Webber with Dada? These guys wonder why they get injured.

  • Is anyone else with Tim Duncan on their fantasy team as pissed as I am? For three straight games he hasn't broken 20 points, got just 29 minutes in their win over Phoenix, and is only averaging 2.6 APG. Okay, if the team is that good fine, sometimes he shouldn't be out there for more than 29 minutes. But if the team is THAT good, shouldn't he be getting more assists?

  • If you don't hate Steve Kerr as a writer, hopefully I can persuade you. Here's an exchange between Paul and I:

  • Me: I hate Steve Kerr, he's a terrible writer and knows nothing about the NBA.

  • Paul: I like him

  • Me: Why?

  • Paul: Uhhhhhhh.....

  • Exactly. The guy stinks. Don't believe me, every week he does a "High Five, Low Five" article ranking his best and worst five teams in the NBA. Here's a sample: "27. Charlotte Bobcats (7-17) – Emeka Okafor has been a real force inside for the Bobcats, who are very competitive." So competetive that he has them ranked as the fourth worst team in the league. I'm so sick of ex-NBA players getting sports jobs when more-than-capable guys like me are still available.

  • All of this crap about LeBron James turning 20 is really getting on my nerves. Where was the media when Kevin Willis turned 63?

  • Honestly, wouldn't it be cooler if two guys like Paul and I were NBA announcers? Listening to Doug Collins and Kevin Harlan is more appealing than two funny guys ripping on guys like Jared Reiner and asking out loud why Ira Newble looks so much like Ice-T? NBA TV should consider this, especially for those crap games ESPN airs every now and then.

  • The only reason I'm posting this is because I'm going into a three-day party-a-thon, Happy New Year! (The only phrase a guy is allowed to use an exclamation point after)

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Wednesday's NBA Picks

December 29, 2004

Home Team in CAPS

Record with individual team in []'s

Anthony's Picks:

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (4-3), Week: (8-8), Year: (186-159-12), Locks: (13-11-1)
  • Detroit [15-8] -2.5 over WASHINGTON [10-12-2]
  • CLEVELAND [11-13-1] -5 over Houston [8-12-2]
  • Milwaukee [17-4-1] +9 over ORLANDO [18-4]
  • Indiana [14-6-2] -3.5 over CHARLOTTE [8-12-3]
  • Minnesota [10-12] -4 over NEW YORK [16-8-1]--LOCK
  • Phoenix [14-9-2] -12 over NEW ORLEANS [11-11-1]
  • Boston [8-15] +6.5 over MEMPHIS [12-15]
  • GOLDEN STATE [10-12-2] -5 over Toronto [13-12-1]
  • Utah [13-12] +5 over CLIPPERS [9-13]

What the F?

By Anthony Peretore

Western Conference Wednesday
Week of 12/29-01/04

What the F? is a run down of every team in the NBA, facts surrounding them, player(s) to look out for on the fantasy front, and a forecast of their games this week. The intent of this blog is to provide readers with up-to-date information on their favorite teams, help with their fantasy team, and predictions for every NBA game this week. Comments are much appreciated.

1st: San Antonio Spurs (23-6)
FACTS: Everyone’s preseason favorite to win it all has not disappointed, especially of late. The Spurs are the league’s top defensive team in holding their opponents to just 85.2 PPG. They also lead the lead in opponent’s FG% (41.2%) and their point differential (10.8) is second to only Phoenix. Five of their six losses have come on the road and only Seattle (20-6) has managed to knock them off at home. Tony Parker has shaken off his early season funk of late (19.0 PPG, 6.6 APG, 1.2 SPG in his last 5) in leading the Spurs to the league’s third best record overall.

FANTASY: The problem in getting a talented 8, 9 or 10th man off the Spurs roster is that Coach Gregg Popovich grants double-digit minutes to ten players right now. There are two guys to keep an eye on that may serve as valuable fantasy players down the road. G Brent Barry (18.6 min, 5.9 PPG, 2.2 APG, 0.5 SPG) and G/F Devin Brown (17.8 min, 7.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.4 SPG) put up solid numbers when they get their run, but for some reason their time is in constant fluctuation. Brown had 17 and 6 in 33 minutes the other night versus Boston, but the previous game went scoreless in just 13 minutes of action. While Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker remain the only dependable fantasy options on this team, Brown and Barry may produce in the long haul.

FORECAST: Thursday: @Portland (Win), Friday: @Clippers (Win), Sunday: @Sacramento (Win), Tuesday: vs. Lakers (Win)

2nd: Dallas Mavericks (19-10)
Want to know how important Dirk Nowitzki is to the success of this team? In the nine games in which Dirk has shot below 39%, Dallas is 3-6 and lost another when he sat out with a sprained ankle. Thus his poor play/injuries have led to 70% of the team’s failure.
A big factor in Dallas’ success thus far has been, believe it or not, their defense. Last year the Mavs ranked 28th in opponents’ PPG at 100.8. This year, they have climbed to 11th in the league, allowing just 94.8 per contest. The downfall to this however, has been their dip in offensive production. Last season Dallas led the NBA in PPG at 105.2, but are averaging just 99.6 (9th) this year. Perhaps a more defensively focussed team will carry them further in the playoffs however.

FANTASY: This is another team that warrants double-digit minutes to 10 players, making it hard to find valuable production from anyone besides their studs. However, look for the Mavericks to make a trade down the road for another point guard. They need a pass-first type player (Jason Kidd?) to get all of their weapons involved. A key piece to any deal they should make will be G/F Marquis Daniels, a guy who if given 35+ minutes a night could be a top 30 fantasy player. In his 5 games this season with 35+ minutes, Daniels has averaged 12.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 1.2 BPG.

FORECAST: Sunday: vs. Milwaukee (Win)

3rd: Houston Rockets (13-15)
: Monday the team traded veteran G/F Jimmy Jackson and F Bostjian Nachbar to the Hornets for G David Wesley, yet another move in hopes of fortifying a rather weak backcourt. Last week Hosuton acquired SG John Barry for unimpressive PG Tyronn Lue. These deals also allow the team to move star Tracy McGrady to his natural SF position. It is believed that Wesley (13.9 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.4 SPG) will team with G Bobby Sura in the starting backcourt with McGrady moving to the ‘3’ to play alongside Juwan Howard and Yao in the frontcourt.

FANTASY: This recent acquisition should stir up the Rockets quite a bit, especially along the fantasy front. With less of the scoring pressure on T-Mac, expect his numbers to rise across the board. Sura, who has been garbage (yes I’m bitter) since coming off the injured list should also improve a bit with Wesley there to shoulder the point guard load. Sura is a more natural ‘2’ and Wesley played the point in Boston. The team should get better all around with this trade and even Yao and Howard’s numbers may improve.

FORECAST: Wednesday: @Cleveland (Loss), Friday: vs. Milwaukee (Win), Sunday: vs. Utah (Win)

4th: Memphis Grizzlies (13-17)
The Grizzlies aren’t as bad as their record might indicate. Since Coach Mike Fratello took over for the "ill" Hubie Brown (by the way he was awful on Saturday) Memphis is 8-6, including 5-2 at home. The Grizz have played very well on the defensive end of the floor, holding their opponents to just 92.2 PPG (5th best). Their problem has been getting the same consistency from their 10-man rotation they got last season. Four regulars (Shane Battier, Bonzi Wells, James Posey, and Lorezen Wright) have all seen their PPG averages drop. The combined drop-off between these players has been 9.9 points, with the most significant decrease from Posey. He has just not been the same player we saw at the end of last year (14.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.4 APG, 2.3 SPG last April). The team needs him to be a reliable second option behind Pau Gasol.

FANTASY: Keep an eye on Center Stromile Swift. Only averaging 21.5 minutes per game all year, he has at times looked like the up-and-coming star the Grizz are counting on him to be. When receiving 25+ minutes this season, Swift has averaged 15.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG and a gaudy 2.9 BPG. With Wright crapping the bed on an almost nightly basis, why isn’t Stro getting more run? When he starts getting it, make sure you cash in.

FORECAST: Wednesday: vs. Boston (Win), Saturday: @Minnesota (Loss), Monday: vs. Utah (Win)

5th: New Orleans Hornets (2-25)
What can I wrote about this team that readers would be interested in? Basically just how awful they are so we can all have a good laugh, so here goes. The Hornets rank dead last in PPG (85.2), FG% (39.6, which is 2.2% lower than anyone else), 3-pt FG% (27.7), defensive rebounds per game (26.9), points per shot (1.04), and free throws made and attempted per game (16.1/20.1). New Orleans also ranks second to last in BPG (3.2) and FG made per game (32.5). This team is gross. They just traded David Wesley, Baron Davis may be out the door, and Lee Nailon has been their go-to-guy lately. Why did New Orleans get a franchise again?

FANTASY: The question is which one of these guys is going to step up on a nightly basis on such an awful team. It seems as if a handful of guys have put together some solid games but Lee Nailon (36.7 min, 19.3 PPG and 4.8 RPG in his last 6—3 starts), and Dan Dickau (35.0 min, 12.2 PPG, 5,2 APG, 1.2 SPG in his last 5—3 starts) seem to be the most consistent. Also keep a watch on rookie J.R. Smith who started Monday for the first time this season. He had a sub-par game (10, 4, 2, 2, 1) but played a hefty 38 minutes. Highly touted out of high school, he could be a nice pick up.

FORECAST: Wednesday: vs. Phoenix (Loss), Monday: @Boston (Loss)

1ST: Seattle Supersonics (20-6)
No, I have not forgotten that I picked this team to finish dead last in the West. But I’ll be the first to tell you I’m rooting hard for them. They have been playing very smart basketball on both ends of the floor. Offensively Seattle ranks 2nd in 3-pt FG% (38.4), 4th in the NBA in free throws made per game (22.0), 5th in FT% (79.1), 5th in fewest turnovers per game (13.2), and 6th in PPG (100.4). On the defensive end, they are 8th in the league in opponents’ PPG (93.9), 3rd in point differential (+6.5), and 5th in opponents’ 3-pt FG% (32.8). They have done a great job on the boards as well, limiting their competition to a league low 36.4 RPG. Of their five losses, two have come against Boston (of all teams) who have managed to hold Seattle to just 34.1% combined shooting in both games. With no more games against the Celts, Seattle should coast to the Northwest title.

FANTASY: If you need some rebounds from a 9th or 10th man, pick up Reggie Evans. He’s averaging 8.5 RPG in just 24.2 minutes, equaling out to 16.9 rebounds per 48 minutes. Why Coach Nate McMillan chooses not to give him more run is beyond our knowledge. But given 30+ minutes a night, Evans can be a rebounding machine. He does little else to help you out, but if you need boards, Evans should be available in most leagues.

FORECAST: Thursday: @Atlanta (Win), Friday: @Charlotte (Win), Monday: @Miami (Loss)

2nd: Minnesota Timberwolves (16-10)
Inconsistency doesn’t even begin to describe this team. The T’Wolves started the month of December 4-0 on the road, but since then have lost their last four away from home. Most recently they dropped road contests at Cleveland in San Antonio by a combined 24 points. Over the course of the season they have road wins at Dallas, Sacramento, and Phoenix, but currently stand at just 8-7 for the year. While their struggles continue away from the Target Center, Minny has been great at home (8-3), evident in their last two contests, blowing out the Wizards and Clippers by a combined 62 points. Their main strength all season has been their rebounding. Minnesota ranks second in the league with a +3.7 differential on the glass, led by the NBA leader in boards, Kevin Garnett (14.7 RPG).

FANTASY: Is that Wally Szczerbiak putting up rather decent fantasy numbers of late (20.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 3.2 APG in his last 5)? With Latrell Sprewell either nursing injuries or being suspended for the ridiculous comments coming from his mouth, the Zerb has really stepped up. If only Sam Cassell would wake up this T’Wolves team could return to elite status.

FORECAST: Wednesday: @New York (Win), Saturday: vs. Memphis (Win), Tuesday: vs. Phoenix (Win)

3rd: Portland Trailblazers (13-13)
It is being reported that the Blazers are somewhat regretting their decision to re-sign PF Zach Randolph to a six-year extension. He is not adjusting well to Coach Mo Cheeks system, something ‘odd-man-out’ Shariff Abdur-Rahim has been more than willing to do. Does it really matter anyway? With goons like Randolph, Darius Miles, Damon Stoudamire and Sebastian Telfair there is no reason to expect any sort of cohesion in future years. This team is in big trouble despite the fact that they have one of the more talented rosters in the league. Go figure.

FANTASY: Go get F Darius Miles now. A few weeks ago I actually said to Paul that it was too bad this guy never panned out. Then he quickly reminded me that Miles entered the league on his 12th birthday and is still only 23! It’s so easy to forget how young some of these guys are. Anyway, since taking over for SAR in the starting lineup, Miles has been a force in averaging 37.0 min, 18.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.3 SPG, and 2.0 BPG in 6 games. There is no reason to think he’s going to lose his starting spot, thus we can all finally expect big things from Miles.

FORECAST: Thursday: vs. San Antonio (Loss), Saturday: vs. Golden State (Win), Sunday: @Phoenix (Loss)

4th: Denver Nuggets (13-15)
The Nuggets finally came to their senses yesterday and fired Coach Jeff Bzedghglik. But, their interim coach is Michael Cooper is the former LA Sparks (WNBA) Head Coach. Does management really expect a smooth transition from mentoring Lisa Leslie to Kenyon Martin? It will be interesting to see if Cooper sticks around or if Denver will quickly search for a veteran coach. The main factors in leading to the Nuggets’ disappointing record thus far have undoubtedly been injuries and defense. In their first game of the year they lost their starting ‘2’ Voshon Lenard for the season, Carmelo Anthony has missed 6 games and Center Marcus Camby another 4. Also, the Nuggets are allowing their opponents to shooting 46.3% from the floor which currently ranks 27th in the league. The team is hoping Cooper can rally the troops and lead the Nuggets to a high seed in the playoffs, something we all expected from this team in the preseason.

FANTASY: The question remains: who (if anyone) is going to step up to fill’s Lenard’s void? Many people outside the team feel it’s outrageous that Rodney White hasn’t gotten a fair shot for his potential (9th pick overall in ’01) alone should get him 25-30 minutes a night. In his last three games, it seems as if he could be coming along. He has averaged 13.7 PPG in 26.0 min on 43.9% shooting. Greg Bucker and Bryon Russell are still going to get their minutes, but who knows what Cooper’s preference will be. Worth keeping an eye on if you’re in need of a solid G/F.

FORECAST: Friday: vs. Philadelphia (Loss), Sunday: @Lakers (Loss), Monday: vs. Clippers (Win)

5th: Utah Jazz (11-17)
Since F Andrei Kirilenko went down with a knee injury, the Jazz are a dreadful 3-11. This is the same team that started the year 6-1 and had everyone talking about them being a sleeper for the NBA title! So, how important of a defensive presence is Ak-47? In their 13 games playing with Kirilenko, the Jazz were able to hold their opponents to just 42.5% shooting from the field. In the 15 games since (and including) his injury, foes are stroking it at a red-hot 48%. To put things in perspective, the worst ranked team in opponents’ FG% for the year is Atlanta at 47.1 %. Utah’s 42.5% through 13 games would currently rank 4th overall. Bottomline is, they need Kirilenko back in the worst way before their playoffs hopes are completely wiped away.

FANTASY: With Carlos Arroyo in the doghouse after getting into an on-court confrontation with Coach Jerry Sloan, it appears that Keith McLeod will take over starting point guard duties. In his first game from returning with a groin injury, McLeod played 32 minutes totaling 11 points, 4 boards and 6 assists. While Arroyo was injured earlier in the year, McLeod started the teams’ first 6 games averaging 24.8 min, 9.0 PPG, 5.7 APG and 0.5 SPG. He could put up similar numbers to Mo Williams in Milwaukee if Sloan continues to give him 30+ a night.

FORECAST: Wednesday: @Clippers (Loss), Friday: vs. Sacramento (Loss), Sunday: @Houston (Loss), Monday: @Memphis (Loss)

1st: Phoenix Suns (24-4)
The San Antonio Spurs finally put the notion to rest that an offensive powerhouse can be the elite team in the NBA this season. The Spurs smoked the Suns last night 115-94 with Tim Duncan having to play only 1:16 of the fourth quarter. The Suns worst loss before last night’s 21-point debacle was by 5 in overtime to the Cavaliers. Don’t expect this loss to mean Phoenix isn’t as good as advertised. The Suns still lead the league in the majority of offensive categories: PPG (108.8—7.0 more than any other team!), 3-pt FG% (38.7), 3-pt FG made per game (8.2) FG made per game (40.4), and fewest turnovers per game (13.0). The team also ranks second in point differential (+10.3) and FG% (47.9). While their defense still has much room to improve, there really has been no need. Not many teams have been able to keep up with the high-flying Suns led by PG Steve Nash, league leader in assists at 10.9.

FANTASY: Stay away from any Phoenix player that isn’t a starter. The starters on this team are all averaging 30+ minutes per night, which means very little run off the bench.

FORECAST: Wednesday: @New Orleans (Win), Sunday: vs. Portland (Win), Tuesday: @Minnesota (Loss)

2nd: Sacramento Kings (17-9)
The Kings have lost consecutive games for the first time since November 6. They entered their most current home stand with a 9-1 record, yet dropped three out of five, most recently to the hapless Warriors. The Kings got some more bad news when it was announced that backup point guard Bobby Jackson is expected to miss the next three months with a torn ligament in his wrist. Last season the Kings were 35-15 (.777) with Jackson and just 20-12 (.625) without him. So far, the team is winless (0-2) in his absence this season. This could mean trouble for Coach Rick Adelman and co.

FANTASY: Right now the Kings only seem to be going 7 or 8 deep and those 2-3 players (Greg Ostertag, Maurice Evans, and Darius Songalia) don’t seem worthy of anyone’s time. These guys are either unspectacular, not receiving more than 25 minutes per night, or both. Stay away.

FORECAST: Friday: @Utah (Win), Sunday: vs. San Antonio (Loss), Tuesday: @ New York (Win)

3rd: Los Angeles Lakers (15-12)
On paper, the Lakers look as if they should be better than their .555 winning percentage shows. Their main problem has been their carelessness with the basketball. They have a league low –3.1 turnover differential but only commit 14.4 per game (15th). Thus, their problem has been forcing their opponents into mistakes. LA ranks dead last in forced turnovers per game (11.3) and steals per game at 5.9. The thing is however, Kobe Bryant and Caron Butler force a combined 2.6 per game by themselves, leaving the other Lakers mostly to blame. With the lack of a transition game in the high-flying Western Conference, it’s no wonder the Lakers haven’t gotten any higher than the 7 seed thus far.

FANTASY: Despite having a rather unimpressive start to the season, F Lamar Odom has turned it on of late. In his last six, the URI-product has averaged 39.3 min, 16.7 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 1.2 BPG, all above his season averages. When he finds a comfortable groove along side Bryant, look for his numbers to mirror last year’s in Miami.

FORECAST: Sunday: vs. Denver (Win), Tuesday: @San Antonio (Loss)

4th: Los Angeles Clippers (12-14)
The Clippers have been hovering around the .500 mark all season, but recently dipped below in dealing with injuries to starters Marko Jaric and Corey Maggette. Interestingly, the team is 3-0 when Maggette, their leading scorer sits out. Their real problem however, has been their lack of a talented point guard. There have been recent rumors discussing Jaric, Kerry Kittles, and Chris Wilcox being shipped to New Orleans for Baron Davis. How this makes sense with phenom Shaun Livingston on the roster is beyond me, but Davis will undoubtedly make the Clips a serious playoff contender. Labeled the worst franchise in sports history, who wouldn’t want to see these guys succeed?

FANTASY: If for some reason Bobby Simmons is still available or a manager has him on the trading block, it would make sense to grab him. Simmons is having a career year (37.4 min, 15.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.5 SPG) and finally getting the minutes he deserves. He is LA’s shutdown defender right now, making him a prime candidate for steals. He is also getting over 12 shots per game and has not lost any minutes when Kittles has played.

FORECAST: Wednesday: vs. Utah (Win), Friday: vs. San Antonio (Loss), Sunday: vs. Philadelphia (Loss), Monday: @Denver (Loss)

5th: Golden State Warriors (10-18)
One night last week I decided to watch the Warriors-Grizzlies game before going to bed. What I saw was one of the worst basketball teams (Golden State) I’ve seen all year and to top it off they were allowing Ansu Sesay playing time. The Warriors were down double-digits when I turned off the television and when I woke up I was in utter shock to see that they had won by 10. But, that’s been the way this team has been all year. They have lost three games to the Clippers, one to New Orleans (who only has 2 wins), but then have road wins over Dallas and Sacramento, two of the toughest home teams in the league. Their problem has been their abysmal field goal shooting (41.8%) in which they rank 29th, but being the young team that they are, this was most definitely expected. Coach Mike Montgomery will look to get his youthful team on the right track with six of their next seven against teams under .500.

FANTASY: If President of Basketball Operations Chris Mullin had any clue, he’d trade Mike Dunleavy Jr. away for a pack of gum. He stinks; want evidence: his points, rebounds and assists are all down from a year ago, numbers that are far from impressive to start with. It seems as if Montgomery realizes this and thus has awarded more minutes of late to second-year Euro Mickael Pietrus. In his last four, Pietrus is averaging 26.8 minutes, 7 more than he’s averaged all year. He had possibly his break out game on Monday scoring 24 points and grabbing 5 boards in 32 points in a win over Denver. Dunleavy only received 18 minutes in that game, a clear sign who the coach is favoring of late.

FORECAST: Wednesday: vs. Toronto (Win), Saturday: @Portland (Loss), Monday: vs. Philadelphia (Loss)

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Wince Carter

Vince Carter, aka 'Half-Man, Half-a-Season', will likely suit up for the Nets tonight in Chicago, but will he be able to last a full game?

Tuesday's NBA Picks

December 28, 2004

Home team in CAPS

Record with each individual team in []'s

Anthony's Picks:

Locks: (14-9)

  • Phoenix +5 over San Antonio

Note: Since picking every game didn't work out so well, I will only be selecting one game per night from now on. I'm sure you degenerate gamblers will enjoy this much more anyway. Good luck.

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (4-5), Week: (4-5), Year: (182-156-12), Locks: (13-10-1)

  • Cleveland [10-13-1] -7 over ATLANTA [12-11]
  • MILWAUKEE [16-4-1] +2.5 over Houston [7-12-2]
  • Boston [8-15] +7.5 over DALLAS [16-8-1]
  • SAN ANTONIO [11-12-1] -5 over Phoenix [13-9-2]
  • CHICAGO [10-13] -2.5 over New Jersey [11-11]--LOCK
  • Philadelphia [17-4-1] +8 over SEATTLE [13-9]
  • Toronto [13-11-1] +8 over LAKERS [6-11-2]

What the F?

By Anthony Peretore

News Around the Eastern Conference
Week of 12/27-01/02
What the F? is a run down of every team in the NBA, facts surrounding them, player(s) to look out for on the fantasy front, and a forecast of their games this week. The intent of this blog is to provide readers with up-to-date information on their favorite teams, help with their fantasy team, and predictions for every NBA game this week. Comments are much appreciated.


1st: New York Knicks (15-13)
FACTS: The Knickerbockers currently lead this dismal pack, but just lost their leading scorer in Jamal Crawford for 3-6 weeks with turf toe. (Shouldn’t we refer to this as wood toe in the NBA?) Now Mr. 18-1-1-0-0 (Allan Houston) will reassume his starting role and create a nice controversy for Coach Lenny Wilkens when Crawford is ready to return.

FANTASY: Much of their early season success (if you can call it that) has to be credited to the play of Center Nazr Mohammed (12.4 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.3 BPG). Before you jump all over him however, be cautious of his durability. Last year, the 6-10 former Kentucky Wildcat saw 20+ minutes just 7 times for the Hawks and Knicks. This season, he’s seen 30+ minutes of PT 17 times, including five games of 40+. This could land the big fella on the injured list very soon.

FORECAST: Monday: @Orlando (Win), Wednesday: vs. Minnesota (Loss), Saturday: vs. New Jersey (Win).

2nd: Philadelphia 76ers (12-14)
FACTS: The Sixers are 6-2 when Center Samuel Dalembert starts. For some reason however, Coach Jim O’Brien still isn’t sold on the 6-11 Haitian. There has even been speculation that the only reason Dalembert is starting is to showcase him for other teams. The Hawks, Nets, Mavericks and Suns, to name a few, all remain interested in Sammie. Yet another big mistake Obie continues to make is giving Allen Iverson 41+ minutes every night. Sure he put up back-to-back 50+ games last week, but why not cut his minutes down to 37 or so? Can this team really chance losing AI down the stretch again? It really is quite silly in this wide-open Atlantic Division, especially with more than capable players desperate for PT (Willie Green, John Salmons).

FANTASY: Besides Iverson, the only guy really worth your time is Dalembert, but only if he continues to start. He has averaged 28.5 min, 7.4 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 2.75 BPG in his last 8 games (all starts) and if his confidence (all up to O’Brien) and minutes continue to rise, so will his totals in all three categories. Trade for him now while his numbers aren’t that spectacular (as they were at the end of last season).

FORECAST: Monday: @Portland (Win), Tuesday: @Seattle (Loss), Friday: @Denver (win if Carmelo’s still out), Sunday: @Clippers (Win)

3rd: Boston Celtics (12-14)
FACTS: After their 107-90 loss on Sunday night, the Celtics have now lost 14 straight in San Antonio. Their last win against the Spurs came in 1990 when David Robinson was a rookie. So why can’t the C’s put it together? Their leading scorer Paul Pierce is averaging just 16 FG attempts per game, his lowest average since the ‘99-00 season. Also, his rebounding totals are free-falling on a team that ranks 24th in total boards per game. ‘The Truth’ averaged a solid 6.2 rebounds per contest in November, a total that has slipped down to 4.3 for the current month. PP has to regain his all-around game in order for the Celtics to take control of this up-for-grabs Atlantic.

FANTASY: There are several viable weapons on the Celtics as far as fantasy goes (Pierce, Gary Payton, Ricky Davis, Raef LaFrentz, Mark Blount) but the one guy to keep an eye on is rookie Tony Allen. With Jiri Welsch or Davis inevitably on the trading block, look for Allen’s minutes to steadily increase once one of these guys gets moved. Coach Doc Rivers has been extremely impressed with the 6-4 Allen’s defensive intensity, evident in his boost in minutes (12.1 in Nov. to 15.9 in Dec.). Only grab him now if your looking for someone to nab you a few steals during the week or if you can afford to gamble on a guy that may eventually be getting 25+ minutes per night come February. If not, just keep your eye on Welsch or Davis being moved.

FORECAST: Tuesday: @ Dallas (Loss), Wednesday: @Memphis (Loss), Friday: vs. Washington (Win), Sunday: @Detroit (Loss)

4th: New Jersey Nets (9-17)
FACTS: Newly acquired G/F Vince Carter played in his first game as a Net last night at Detroit. For some odd reason, Coach Lawrence Frank tried to kill him, playing him for 42 minutes after missing his last few games with an Achilles injury. Carter left the game in overtime with severe cramping in his left hamstring, an injury not expected to be serious. In addition to giving New Jersey a lift on the court, Carter provided a morality boost during his news conference announcing the trade last week. The UNC-grad told Nets owner Bruce Ratner and president Rod Thorn: "I thank both of you guys for bringing me here. I won’t let you down. I promise." The Nets hope Carter’s efforts can help in keeping PG Jason Kidd with the team. It has been reported that Kidd is still not convinced New Jersey can be a legitimate contender even with the addition of Carter. It will be a real kick in the groin if Kidd still demands a trade after ownership gave up two first-round picks for Vince.

FANTASY: If he is still available in your league, pick up Center Nenad Krstic. Decent centers are hard to come by in fantasy basketball and if his recent numbers are any indication of what this guy can do on a nightly basis, he’s worth the risk. In his three most recent games since the trade (all starts), Krstic has averaged 35.7 min, 11.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG, and 2.0 BPG. At 7-0, 240 lbs. he should continue to receive solid playing time in a thin New Jersey frontcourt and make himself worthy of a fantasy gamble. In our league, Matt Brodeur gobbled Krstic up in the pregame before his first start, hoping, if anything, to gain a friend for his best center, Primoz Brezec.

FORECAST: Monday: @Detroit (Loss-OT), Tuesday: @Chicago (Win), Thursday: vs. Indiana (Win), Saturday: @New York (Loss)

5th: Toronto Raptors (10-19)
FACTS: The Raptors are clearly looking towards the future after unloading Vince Carter for role players and future conditional draft picks. With the team continuing to shop F Donyell Marshall and G/F Jalen Rose, the obvious goal is to build around PF Chris Bosh (only 20 years old) and PG Rafer Alston (28). Another possible piece of the future may be G/F Morris Peterson. Since awarded a starting spot on December 10, Mo Pete has averaged a solid 30.5 min, 12.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.0 SPG, but has yet to show any signs of consistency. His one mainstay is his 3-point shooting, 38.5% for the season, 46.9% in his last eight. Once they scrape rookie Center Rafael Araujo off the bench, the Dinosaurs may have a nice core to build around.

FANTASY: In the coming months, expect Chris Bosh to continue his emergence towards being an elite PF in the East. Thus far (34.1 min, 13.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG) he has not been overly impressive, but with his minutes increasing and more trades to come, Bosh should became Toronto’s go-to-guy. Could be 18, 10, 1.5 by the end of the year.

FORECAST: Tuesday: @Lakers (Loss), Wednesday: @Golden State (Loss)


1ST: Cleveland Cavaliers (16-11)
FACTS: LeBron James dished out a career-high 14 assists Sunday night in a 100-91 victory over the visiting Hornets. He missed out on a triple-double by just one rebound, the second time this season he’s had this happen. Cleveland’s early season success has to be attributed mostly to LeBron’s development into an all-around superstar, especially with his passing. James has totaled 7 dimes or more in 10 out of 13 games this month. If he continues his maturing process at such a rapid pace, there is no telling what the Cavs can do this season.

FANTASY: One guy who continues to fly under the radar screen is G Jeff McInnis. He’s averaging a career-high, 15.7 PPG, ranking third on the team and is second to only James in APG (5.5). McInnis is fairly durable as well, missing just 21 games in his last three seasons. If your looking to make any deals with managers owning McInnis, try to get him thrown into the trade. There are very few G’s (those available at both PG and SG) left in fantasy basketball, making them a very valuable asset.

FORECAST: Tuesday: @Atlanta (Win), Wednesday: vs. Houston (Win)

2nd: Detroit Pistons (14-12)
FACTS: On Christmas Day, all the attention in the Pacers-Pistons rematch was centered around the ugly incident that occurred last month in Detroit. However, relatively unnoticed was Antonio McDyess accidentally falling on a fan and going out of his way to relocate her and apologize. As reported in The New York Times on Sunday McDyess was quoted as saying: "I had to go over there and apologize. I hit her pretty hard. I was afraid she was going to fall down and be really hurt. I just told her, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, is there anything I can do to make you feel better?' It was part of the game, but I didn't want to have anything near what it was like last time." It’s nice to see some gentlemen still playing in this league. Maybe Jermaine O’Neal can learn a thing or two from McDyess.

FANTASY: Keeping with our boy McDyess, all signs point to this guy finally being 100% healthy and ready to be the steady contributor the Pistons need off the bench. He has been solid all year (9.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 0.8 BPG) but Detroit needs more. Saturday was his first really good all-around performance (13, 8, 0, 1, 1) since starting for the suspended Ben Wallace at the end of November. Look for McDyess to receive at least 25+ minutes a night as long as he is healthy. Only use him as a 9th or 10th man.

FORECAST: Monday: vs. New Jersey (Win), Wednesday: @Washington (Loss), Thursday: vs. Miami (Win), Sunday: vs. Boston (Win)

3rd: Indiana Pacers (13-13)
FACTS: The big question surrounding the team is whether or not Jermaine O’Neal’s early reinstatement will hold up. The ruling of a federal judge this Thursday will be the determining factor to Indiana’s immediate future. Coach Rick Carlisle knows he has O’Neal for at least the next two games, but may lose his starting PF for 10 more games if the judge rules in favor of the league. This one decision will keep the team as well as the division in limbo for the next week.

FANTASY: If you held on to O’Neal or traded for him (as Paul did) then you obviously lucked out (at least for the meantime) with his suspension being reduced by 10 games. While it may take him a few games to get back to an All-Star caliber of play, O’Neal should eventually shine as the go-to-guy in Indiana’s offense. He will also provide a boost on the defensive end of the floor, evident in his 5 blocks on Saturday. Even if the 10 games are upheld, trading for O’Neal may not be a bad idea.

FORECAST: Monday: vs. New Orleans (Win), Wednesday: @Charlotte (Loss), Thursday: @New Jersey (Loss)

4th: Chicago Bulls (9-16)
FACTS: I know, it seems like a dream the Bulls winning 5 games in a row. But, no worries, they quickly let their streak go to waste Sunday night in a loss on the road against the dismal Bucks. The bright spot during their winning streak had to be their defense. They held their opponents to a staggering 81.0 PPG, including a downright shocking 89-82-victory IN Detroit. Now, let’s not start printing Central Division Champion t-shirts just yet for the Bulls are still extremely young and have a few big decisions to make (Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler). It does appear however, that Chicago may have what it takes to make a run at the 8th seed in the East. Their main competition: Boston (12-14), Philly (12-14), and New Jersey (9-17). Chicago hosts the Nets tonight.

FANTASY: Pretty much every Bull is an "on-the-fence" type of player, meaning some nights he’s great, other nights invisible (excluding Hinrich). One guy that has me guessing is PG Chris Duhon. Coach Scott Skiles has had the Duke-product starting since late-November, but has only granted him 30+ minutes on four separate occasions. In his last 10 games, Duhon has averaged 5.9 APG, but with very fluctuating totals (9 once, 8 twice, 3 twice). Since I’m in need of a quality backup point for assists, I keep looking at Duhon, but until he’s getting 30+ a night, I’d stay away.

FORECAST: Tuesday: vs. New Jersey (Win), Saturday: vs. Orlando (Loss)

5th: Milwaukee Bucks (7-16)
FACTS: The injury to SF Keith Van Horn has really hurt Milwaukee. Sure, Desmond Mason has done a nice job in his absence (17.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG in 10 games) but it’s left the Bucks with relatively no punch off their bench. This is a team that went 41-41 a year ago nabbing the 6th seed in the East. It seems as if the injury to T.J Ford is going to hurt a lot more than Coach Terry Porter and co. expected.

FANTASY: Keep an eye on Center Zaza Pachulia. Yeah, I know, no one in their right mind would pick this guy up and he may even be one of the many running jokes in your league. But, seriously take a look at this guy. When’s the last time the Bucks had a decent center? Kareem? Jack Sikma? Pachulia has to out duel only Dan Gadzuric, who we aren’t even really sure how to pronounce his last name correctly. In 35 minutes the other night Zaza had 11, 9 and 2 blocks. Not too shabby, especially on a Bucks team with only two centers.

FORECAST: Tuesday: vs. Houston (Win), Wednesday: @Orlando (Loss), Friday: @Houston (Loss), Sunday: @Dallas (Loss)


1st: Miami Heat (23-7)
FACTS: Miami has won 12 straight games and seem like the early favorite to represent the East in the NBA Finals. In my opinion, Shaq has not even looked overly dominating this season, yet the team just keeps on winning. The most noticeable factor has been their solid team chemistry, evidenced on Christmas Day in LA. G Dwayne "Flash" Wade (23.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.7 SPG, 1.1 BPG), told Shaq on Saturday after he fouled out that he had his back, and delivered, scoring 4 points in OT for a 104-102 victory over the Lakers. While Karl Malone may help, taking a chance on disrupting this chemistry is far too risky. Also, Eddie Jones is starting to get hot (19.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG in his last 5), undoubtedly making the team reconsider its trade talks with Toronto for Jalen Rose.

FANTASY: Now that PG Damon Jones is starting, he should serve as a valuable backup point. His numbers (15.1 PPG, 4.7 APG) are up since Coach Stan Van Gundy inserted him in the first five and the Heat just happen to be 12-0 since he did so. Playing alongside "Flash," Jones’ assist numbers should remain on the low side, but his scoring should remain strong. He’s currently 8th in the league in 3-pt%.

FORECAST: Monday: vs. Atlanta (Win), Thursday: @Detroit (Loss), Saturday: vs. Charlotte (Win)

2nd: Washington Wizards (15-11)

FACTS: The Wizards were looking good on the Western road trip going 2-1 in their first three against the Lakers (W), Suns (L) and Warriors (W). However, the wheels came off in their final two contests losing to the Kings and then most recently getting smoked by Minnesota (109-74) on Sunday. Their main problem has been the dependence on their outside shooting. Washington currently ranks 6th in the league in 3-pt FGA per game, but just 23rd in 3-pt FG%. This has truly been their Achilles’ heal along with their lack of perimeter defense.

FANTASY: It seems as if the most valuable asset on this team fantasy wise has been and will continue to be PG Gilbert Arenas (22.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.7 SPG). He gets as many shots as he wants and has the luxury of playing off his man in order to jump at as many steal attempts as possible. While this will benefit your fantasy team, it’s eventual going to catch up to the Wizards. Injury risks are worrisome, but he seems in perfect health thus far.

FORECAST: Monday: vs. Charlotte (Win), Wednesday: vs. Detroit (Win), Friday: @Boston (Loss), Sunday: vs. Atlanta (Win)

3rd: Orlando Magic (15-11)
FACTS: The Magic were coming off perhaps their biggest win of the year, a 93-87 victory over San Antonio before their debacle last night against the Knicks. The good news is that Center Kelvin Cato should be activated sometime this week, providing much-needed frontcourt help for Tony Battie and rookie Dwight Howard. At 7-8 against teams with winning records this season, the Magic should be thrilled that four of their next five come against teams under .500.

FANTASY: Tough to single out just one guy on this Orlando team. So far, Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley, Howard and Cato have all been valuable fantasy players. If your really desperate, G/F Hedo Turkoglu (13.2 PPG) could be a decent 10th man, but doesn’t do much else besides score. Besides these five, I’d stay away from any other member of the Magic.

FORECAST: Monday: vs. New York (Loss), Wednesday: vs. Milwaukee (Win), Saturday: @Chicago (Win)

4th: Charlotte Bobcats (7-17)
FACTS: Remember, most people thought the Bobcats would struggle to win 10 games all year, including myself. GM/Coach Bernie Bickerstaff has done a nice job piecing together the personnel that he has and the results have given him 7 wins in just 24 games. His point guard tandem of Brevin Knight and Jason Hart is giving him a combined 17.1 PPG, 15.0 APG, and 3.6 SPG, leading a continually improving Bobcat offense. With the addition of Kareem Rush and the return of Gerald Wallace from a neck injury, don’t be surprised to see the Bobcats with 15 wins by the All-Star Break.

FANTASY: Grab G/F Wallace while you can folks. This guy is filling up the boxscore every night while continually warranting 30+ minutes per night. Since his return from a head injury, Wallace has averaged 33.0 min, 10.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.0 SPG, and 1.7 BPG. He is finally getting to showcase the talent he never got a chance to in Sacramento.

FORECAST: Monday: @Washington (Loss), Wednesday: vs. Indiana (Win), Friday: vs. Seattle (Loss), Saturday: @Miami (Loss)

5th: Atlanta Hawks (5-21)
FACTS: Want to know why the Hawks stink? They are dead last in the league in point differential (-10.6), opponents’ FG% (47.0), free throw percentage (64.9), and second to last in 3-pt FG% (28.9) and turnovers per game (16.4). The main culprit: F Antoine Walker who is 7th in the NBA in field goal attempts, jacking up 18.9 per game and making them at only 41.7%. To add to that, Walker is 8th in the league in turnovers per game at 3.7 with his partner in slime SF Al Harrington not far behind at 3.0 (18th). The major problem on this Atlanta team is that they have no decent point guard on the roster. Kenny Anderson is the next athlete in line for a Cialis commercial, Tony Delk is a shoot-first, second and third guard and newly acquired Tyronn Lue has never averaged more than 4.2 APG. Lucky for him, Coach Mike Woodson (who?) will be out of his misery in a few weeks.

FANTASY: If your extremely desperate, and I mean there has to be no one out there better than Theron Smith, Mark Pope, or Pape Saw, then snatch up PG Tyronn Lue. The Hawks are desperate for production at this position and soon enough, Lue should be getting 30+ minutes a night. Don’t count on any more than 5 assists, but hey, it’s better than Mark Pope.
FORECAST: Monday: @Miami (Loss), Tuesday: vs. Cleveland (Loss), Thursday: vs. Seattle (Loss), Sunday: @Washington (Wi….nahhh, Loss)

Note: Next week I will have this out on Monday, which will be far more beneficial to those fantasy and gambling enthusiasts.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Monday's NBA Picks

December 27, 2004

Home team in CAPS

Record with individual team in []'s

Anthony's Picks:

Anthony's taking a couple nights off to clear his head. Expect him to bounce back strong.

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (7-0-1), Week: (19-16-2), Year: (178-151-12), Locks: (13-9-1)

  • ORLANDO [18-3] -6.5 over New York [16-7-1]
  • INDIANA [13-6-2] -8.5 over New Orleans [10-11-1]
  • Charlotte [8-11-3] +9 over WASHINGTON [10-11-2]
  • Atlanta [12-10] +13.5 over MIAMI [14-9-2]
  • New Jersey [11-10] +6.5 over DETROIT [15-7]
  • MEMPHIS [11-15] -6.5 over Clippers [8-13]
  • Seattle [12-9] -4 over UTAH [12-12]
  • Philadelphia [16-4-1] +5 over PORTLAND [10-11]
  • GOLDEN STATE [10-11-2] -4 over Denver [14-10]--LOCK

Making the leap?

Jason Richardson was Sunday night's star with 26 second-half points in a 98-94 win at Sacramento.

NBA Prime Time

December 27, 2004
By Paul Benedict

8 games. 16 screens. Absolutely nothing to do. To put it mildly, it was a great night to be at the office. And to commemerate my first night of holding down the fort solo, I decided to keep myself busy by watching each game simultaneously as closely as I could and writing down any thoughts or observations I had. The Lineup:

  • Boston at San Antonio, 7:00
  • New Orleans at Cleveland, 7:00
  • Chicago at Milwaukee, 7:00
  • Toronto at Phoenix, 8:00
  • Washington at Minnesota, 8:00
  • Clippers at Houston, 8:30
  • Golden State at Sacramento, 9:00
  • Dallas at Denver, 9:00

    Boston 11 at San Antonio 16 1st 5:50
    Tony Parker absolutely owns Gary Payton. He just blew by him off a Duncan screen and spun towards the hoop for an easy lay-up. People look at this guy's numbers and claim he's not one of the best point guards in the league. But are you kidding me? Besides Baron Davis and Steve Francis, is there another point guard who penetrates to the basker better than Tony Parker?

    New Orleans 10 at Cleveland 20 1st 3:57
    Matt Freije is back in the starting lineup for the Hornets, replacing Chris Andersen. And the Hornets are down 20-10. So please tell me, what did Byron Scott smoke before the game?

    New Orleans 22 at Cleveland 25 1st :43.3
    Baron Davis enters the game and nails two bombs from well beyond the arc. Hornets now down 25-22. Is it possible that Baron Davis is more important to his team, at this present time mind you, than anyone else in the league? I think you could make a sound argument behind this.

    Chicago 23 at Milwaukee 28 1st 2:13
    Eddy Curry is outmuscled for a defensive rebound by Zaza Gabor--err Zaza Pachulia. Curry's got a solid post game and great touch around the hoop, but he might just be the softest defensive big man in the league. How many of the best teams in the league have soft centers? Rasho has Duncan by his side, so he doesn't count. Besides him I really can't think of anyo--wait...Ohnoitskandi--my mistake.

    New Orleans 22 at Cleveland 25 :32.8
    LeBron just had two of the sickest passes I've seen all year--and they were both dropped by his teammates. Is it possible that LeBron might end up being too good for this league?

    Boston 18 at San Antonio 25 End of 1st
    End of 1st quarter. Spurs 25, Celtics 18. Spurs had beaten the Celtics 14 straight times heading into tonight's game. There's no team that takes care of business better than the Spurs.

    Chicago 26 at Milwaukee 38 2nd 11:30
    Marcus Fizer throws one down for the Bucks. You're telling me that a team that starts Dan GadzurEEK and Joe Smith can't find more PT for Fizer?

    Boston 21 at San Antonio 29 2nd 8:48
    Ricky Davis comes off a screen and drains a jumper while being fouled. Wait forget that--Tony Parker just scored 5 more points while I wrote that first sentence. I honestly think he should be the 2nd All-Star from the Spurs at this point. And think about it, with Kobe, and TMac the starting guards, which other guards should make it from the West? Nash obviously, but is there any other point guard specifically that deserves it more than he does? Baron Davis is obviously better, but at this point, he can't possibly deserve an All-Star spot. Andre Miller? No. Sam Cassell. Nah. Mike Bibby? Maybe. I'd give the nod to Parker right now.

    Boston 23 at San Antonio 34 2nd 7:49
    Ok, back to Ricky Davis. He burns Devin Brown and throws down a reverse dunk in traffic and followed it up by nailing another pull-up jumper. If this guy didn't have his head up his ass 50% of the time he could be that reliable complement to Pierce that the Celts have been missing since 'Toine shimmied his way outta Bean Town.

    Boston 26 at San Antonio 38 2nd 6:22
    They announced that Malik Rose went to the locker room to treat a "hang-nail". The play-by-play guy is ripping Rose; "Has anyone ever left the game to treat a hang-nail before?" Meanwhile Sean Elliot is defending his former teammate and close friend; "I had toe-nail problems all the time when I was in the league. You should have seen my feet, I could have climbed trees with those babies!" You're telling me that guys making millions of dollars don't have time to cut their freaking nails to the point that it takes them out of the game? We'll re-evaluate this situation once Malik Rose returns to the game--although his return is questionable.

    Chicago 50 at Milwaukee 55 2nd 2:21
    Antonio Davis blows by Joe Smith for a power dunk. Okay, either that was a replay from 1997 or I haven't changed my contacts in weeks.

    Chicago 52 at Milwaukee 59 2nd :27.1
    Michael Redd has 26 points for the Bucks so far. Cool.

    New Orleans 42 at Cleveland 53 Halftime
    Matt Freije is 3-12 from the floor, having taken 5 more shots than anyone else on the team. It appears Freije is so bad that Paul Silas told his team to not even guard the guy, and look, it's working!

    Toronto 4 at Phoenix 13 1st 7:50
    Sam Mitchell brings in Donyell Marshall with his team down 9. It's already too late. Why not just start Marshall? Does Loren Woods actually bring anything to the table? Apparently not, he weighs like 140 lbs. (Ba dum CHING!)

    New Orleans 42 at Cleveland 53 Halftime
    Highlights of LeBron James during halftime. Do you think there's any night when at least half of the Cavalier halftime highlights aren't of LeBron James? Not that it bothers me.

    Toronto 8 at Phoenix 21 1st 5:21
    I just looked up at the game and saw Amare Stoudemire running back to defense hi-fiving teammates. I'm assuming he had a monster dunk. Let's see--Nope. Wow, a reverse lay-up prayer that just happened to fall in. He's good.

    Chicago 57 at Milwaukee 67 3rd 7:54
    My co-worker informs me that Milwaukee is the location of the NBA's Witness Protection Plan. That's where they send players so nobody knows they exist anymore.

    Boston 57 at San Antonio 56 3rd 7:17
    Gary Payton just deeked two Spur defenders in the post for an easy lay-in. Boston now up 1. Remember what I said, the Spurs are the best at taking care of business. I say the Spurs take the lead for good with 9:41 left in the 4th.

    Toronto 14 at Phoenix 32 2nd 11:58
    Amare and Nash: 25 Pts in the 1st. Toronto: 14. Yeah, I don't think I'll be eating any laptops tonight.

    Boston 57 at San Antonio 67 3rd 3:25
    Spurs just ripped off 11 in a row. Guess I was wrong about when they'd take over for good. Meanwhile, a defensive back for the Oklahoma St. football team was is interviewed and proceeds to say "ya know" at least, and I'm not joking, 21 times in a span of a minute. Good stuff.

    Washington 23 at Minnesota 32 2nd 6:15
    Kevin Garnett runs the break and delivers a ridiculous behind-the-back flip pass to Eddie Griffin (who proceeds to blow a lay-up). There's maybe 5 other guys in the league that can do that: Nash, Kobe, LeBron, Alston, and Kidd. Did I mention KG is 7 feet?

    Boston 66 at San Antonio 81 3rd 0:00
    Devin Brown just grabbed a loose ball and hit a 35-footer at the buzzer.

    Washington 26 at Minnesota 38 2nd 3:27
    Sam Cassell his his patenent pull-jumper from just inside the 3-point line. He's got 10 points and 3 assists so far and not surprisingly, the Wolves are up double digits. When Cassell tries, the Wolves are very tough to beat.

    Toronto 39 at Phoenix 56 2nd :53.1
    Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire are going right at each other. Bosh got Amare off his feet on a sweet little up-and-under and threw one down. Amare then backed Bosh down, drop-stepped, and tried to finger roll it in, but missed badly. Regardless, these two are doing a great job of maintaing the trend of awesome power forwards in the NBA.

    Clippers 17 at Houston 29 1st 1:36
    There's Jon Barry, the newly acquired guard for the Rockets making his first appearance. I like Barry, but I hope Houston isn't expecting him to turn their season around.

    New Orleans 87 at Cleveland 83 4th 5:11
    The Hornets are shooting below 40%. The Cavs are shooting a touch shy of 50%. Baron Davis has played only 14 minutes. Matt Freije has played more minutes and taken more shots than anyone on the Hornets. LeBron James is a rebound shy of a triple-double. Yet somehow, the Hornets are beating the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Go figure.

    Boston 84 at San Antonio 95 4th 4:24
    Bruce Bowen just sank a 3-pointer from the corner. Is there any other shot he attempts? Seriously, I can't remember the last time I saw Bruce Bowen even go in for a lay-up.

    New Orleans 89 at Cleveland 95 4th 1:29
    Jeff McInnis just scored 6 straight for the Cavs, all on assists from LeBron James. See what I'm saying? You can't mention something good about this team without LeBron James' name being attached. By the way, LeBron is still 1 rebound away from his first triple-double. How many times has he come SO close to getting a triple-double but came up short?

    Boston 90 at San Antonio 107 Final
    Tony Parker had a season-high 27 points.

    New Orleans 91 at Cleveland 98 4th :58
    Eric Snow hits a game-clinching 3-pointer on a pass from...LeBron James. Wait wait--Eric Snow sunk a 3-pointer?

    Chicago 92 at Milwaukee 99 Final
    After the Bulls blew a scoring opportunity late in the game which essentially ended their 5-game win streak, someone clearly yelled from the stands, "BULLS SUCK". Normally I'd agree here, but for the first time in years, I think the Bulls actually don't suck. Sure they lost to (gasp) Milwaukee, but they're not bad.

    New Orleans 91 at Cleveland 100 Final
    Nope, Lebron didn't get the trip-doub. Still...22-9-14-4-1 ain't too shabby.

    Dallas 24 at Denver 24 1st :29.2
    Earl Boykins takes out Marcus Camby. And with that, Jeff Bdzelik creates a whole new chapter in the meaning of a "small lineup".

    Golden State 26 at Sacramento 32 2nd 7:29
    The announcers just said that Adonal Foyle is 2 blocks away from becoming the Warriors' all time blocks leader. Quickly--name one quality Warriors center. I can't either. On the bright side, Adonal Foyle will now be remembered for something other than signing the most ridiculous contract in NBA history.

    Toronto 80 at Phoenix 82 4th 8:02
    Shawn Marion launches a wide-open brick from the top of the key. Who taught this guy how to shoot, Anthony Mason? His form is terrible, yet he somehow manages to shoot pretty well from beyond the arc. He's the Jim Furyk of the NBA.

    Golden State 34 at Sacramento 36 2nd 4:15
    Mike Dunleavy tore down a board and went right back up for an easy 2. That right there is all the evidence you need to know that the Kings are too soft upfront to compete with the Spurs, Wolves, and Heat.

    Toronto 80 at Phoenix 89 4th 6:11
    I blink my eye and this game goes from being tied to Amare Stoudemire absolutely posterizing Matt Bonnnnnner to put the Suns up 9. Side question: is there any player out there besides maybe Earl Boykins to be less pleased about dunking over than Matt Bonner? Feel free to send in suggestions.

    Dallas 35 at Denver 39 2nd 5:40
    They just came back from commercial and all I saw was Nuggets commentator Scott Hastings lean over and kiss whoever the hell their play-by-play dude is. Somebody better tell them this isn't the NBGay.

    Dallas 37 at Denver 47 2nd 1:45
    Kenyon Martin rebounded a Boykins miss and shoved it down the hoop's throat. And then he pulled his patenent KMart scowl while heading back on defense. Is this guy ever happy? It's like just dunked it..pump your fist or hi-five a teammate for the love of God.

    Washington 74 at Minnesota 109 Final
    Nice effort, Wiz.

    Toronto 94 at Phoenix 106 Final
    Suns have now won 11 in a row. Remember my theory about teams getting to the 8 to 11 win streak mark and then losing one of these games before they hit 12? Yeah, well mark my words. Suns next game: at San Antonio. (By the way, my picks are looking good so far : 5-0-1.)

    Golden State 36 at Sacramento 48 3rd 11:27
    Jason Richardson had a wide-open layup and proceeded to fumble the ball away. Those would have been his first points of the game. Ouch. Against the Kings and their lame defense. Double ouch.

    Clippers 59 at Houston 73 4th 11:41
    Dikembe Mutumbo just jammed one home. Geez, Deke even looks awkward when he dunks it. Did you ever notice that? He can't just slam one down cleanly, the ball usually shifts around before going through. At least he never fails to provide a laugh.

    Clippers 66 at Houston 80 4th 9:57
    Chris Wilcox just layed out Jon Barry on a screen. Welcome to the West, John. Side question: who do you think sets the hardest screen in the league? Shaq obviously is up there, but I could see Kevin Willis delivering a punishing screen. That guy is like 100% muscle and he knows when he's out there that setting a pick is his job.

    Dallas 47 at Denver 56 3rd 9:34
    Andre Miller hits DerMarr Johnson for a picture-perfect alley-oop from his own side of the court. How is this guy averaging just 5 assists a game? The Nuggets need to run more and put the ball in Dre's hands--everyone in their rotation excels on the break, I don't understand why they play halfcourt basketball 90% of the time.

    Dallas 48 at Denver 60 3rd 8:25
    DerMarr Johnson throws down a thunderous dunk through traffic. Highlight of the night so far.

    Golden State 65 at Sacramento 60 3rd 2:43
    Warriors on a huge run in the 3rd--of course they pull this every game. They'll lose by double-digits.

    Dallas 56 at Denver 62 3rd 4:39
    The courtside reporter just announced that Kenyon Martin has left the game and won't return due to back spasms. I'm interested to see how Denver holds up now without their two best players. This might sound like a stretch, but Earl Boykins is going to have to take over the 4th for them to hang on.

    Dallas 75 at Denver 72 End of 3rd
    Dirk just hit a fallaway 18-footer while he was fouled to cap off a furious finish to the quarter for the Mavs. So much for the Nuggets holding onto that lead. Against the Mavs though, a team that is going to get its points no matter what, you have to think the Nuggets will need to score at least 27 this quarter to have any chance. Let's see what happens.

    Clippers 79 at Houston 96 Final
    The Clips continue to fall back to earth with yet another debilitating loss. It was fun while it lasted, but they're just not deep enough or talented enough to battle through the injury problems they've had. It's too bad, I like this team.

    Dallas 78 at Denver 74 4th 9:56
    Here comes Shawn Bradley entering the game. Smart move by Nellie--may as well get to Nene's head and try to take out another key frontcourt player for the Nuggets.

    Dallas 80 at Denver 79 4th 8:45
    Yup, there we go. Nene dunks on Bradley, who sneakily shoves him as he comes down. Nene then blatantly elbows Bradley and draws a technical. See, you got to give a little to get a little.

    Dallas 89 at Denver 86 4th 4:55
    Boykins hits a huge 3 and the Nuggets appear to have some life left in them.

    Golden State 91 at Sacramento 83 4th 1:36
    Look at the Warriors hanging on, making me look foolish. And Jason Richardson with all 21 of his points in the second half. That's how you know if a player is for real--if he can bounce back after a miserable first half to carry his team to victory on the road, that's a pretty big sign right there.

    Golden State 93 at Sacramento 88 4th :31.8
    The Warriors let, and I mean let/allowed/permitted/begged the Kings to come back in this game after being up 10 just a minute ago, and then, Jason Richardson comes off a screen and buries a 22-footer with Peja smothering him (which actually isn't saying much). People don't talk about him much, but he's establishing himself as one of the better 2 guards in the league (and I'm not just saying that because he's on my fantasy team).

    Dallas 100 at Denver 88 4th 1:12
    Dallas outscores Denver 57-36 in the 2nd half, yet Scott Hastings claims "they're not that good. I'd take Denver over them." Yeah, yeah, Melo and KMart were out, but still pal, look at the score. Wait to make comments like that when you're winning.

    Dallas 103 at Denver 88 4th :37.6
    Dirk banks a 37-footer as the shot-clock expires. He must have overheard Hastings.

    Dallas 103 at Denver 88 4th 27.2
    The scorekeeper must have been a friend of Hastings because the score suddenly changed to 88-6 in favor of Dallas after Dirk sunk that prayer.

    Dallas 103 at Denver 88 Final
    Game. Set. Match.

    Golden State 98 at Sacramento 94 Final
    Wow. There's nothing worse than considering yourself an elite team in the West and then losing to your archrival (Lakers) and to Golden State at home in back-to-back games. But hey, I don't mind--undefeated night for me, baby! I'm outtttttttttttttttt--

Sunday, December 26, 2004


Eric Williams and the new-look Raptors look to put an end to the Suns' 10-game winning streak tonight. And if that happens I'll eat my laptop.

Sunday's NBA Picks

December 26, 2004

Home Team in CAPS

Record with individual team in []'s

Anthony's Picks:

Yesterday: (1-1), Week: (10-18-1), Year: (161-158-10), Locks: (14-8)
  • Charlotte [8-12] +9 over NEW YORK [15-8] (P)
  • Boston [6-16] +11 over SAN ANTONIO [11-11-1] (L)
  • CLEVELAND [10-12-1] -12 over New Orleans [10-10-1] (L)
  • Chicago [8-14] +3.5 over MILWAUKEE [13-5-1] (L)
  • PHOENIX [10-11-2] -12.5 over Toronto [10-13-1] (L)
  • Washington [9-10-1] +8.5 over MINNESOTA [9-12] (L)
  • SACRAMENTO [7-11-2] -12 over Golden State [11-9-2] (L)
  • Dallas [14-8-1] -4 over DENVER [9-12] (W)

Paul's Picks:

Yesterday: (0-2), Week: (12-16-1), Year: (171-151-11), Locks: (13-9-1)

  • Charlotte [8-11-2] +9 over NEW YORK [16-7] (P)
  • SAN ANTONIO [10-12-1] -11 over Boston [7-15] (W)
  • New Orleans [9-11-1] +12 over CLEVELAND [9-13-1] (W)
  • MILWAUKEE [15-4-1] -3.5 over Chicago [9-13] (W)
  • Toronto [12-11-1] +12.5 over PHOENIX [12-9-2] (W)
  • MINNESOTA [9-12] -8.5 over Washington [9-11-2] (W)
  • Golden State [9-11-2] +12 over SACRAMENTO [9-10-2] (W)
  • Dallas [15-8-1] -4 over DENVER [13-10] (W)

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Saturday's NBA Picks

December 25, 2004

Home Team in CAPS

Record with individual team in [ ]'s

Anthony's Picks

Thursday Night:(1-2), Week:(9-18), Year:(160-157-10), Locks:(14-8)
  • Detroit [12-9] -3 over INDIANA [11-8-1]
  • Miami [11-11-1] -2 over LAKERS [8-9-1]
Paul's Picks

Thursday Night:(2-1), Week:(12-15), Year:(171-149-11), Locks:(13-9-1)

  • INDIANA [13-5-2] +3 over Detroit [15-6]
  • Miami [14-9-10] -2 over LAKERS [6-11-1]

I'm back, baby! I haven't written in this space for a little while, so it's nice to be able to share my thoughts on this fantastic day for basketball, oh wait is it Christmas too? First game--I'm a little surprised that line favors Detroit by 3, I have a hunch Anthony is going with the shad route, but I'm not. That crowd will be pumped for the Pacers and the team will be riding on high emotions with their star JO back. I think it'll be a very close game, but in the end Indy will knock off Detroit. I'm a little surprised by that second line as well--the Lakers are great at home and anytime Kobe's supporting cast shoots well from outside, they will usually win. BUT, you have to figure that Shaq's crew will be gunning hard to win this one for them and that supporting cast is better defensively than Kobe's and I think that could be the difference. I expect this to be another close game with Miami putting away the Lakers in the 4th. Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy the NBA at its best!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Thursday's NBA Picks

December 23, 2004

Home Team in CAPS

Record with individual team in [ ]'s

Anthony's Picks

Last Night:(6-6), Week:(8-16), Year:(159-155-10), Locks:(14-8)

  • SAN ANTONIO [10-11-1] -6.5 over Minnesota [8-12]
  • PHOENIX [10-10-2] -11 over Memphis [11-13]
  • SACRAMENTO [7-10-2] -4.5 over Miami [11-10-1]

Paul's Picks

Last Night:(6-6), Week:(10-14), Year:(169-148-11), Locks:(13-9-1)
  • SAN ANTONIO [9-12-1] -6.5 over Minnesota [8-12]
  • Memphis [10-15] +11 over PHOENIX [11-9-2]
  • SACRAMENTO [9-9-2] -4.5 over Miami [14-8-1]

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


While we were kidding around about Earl Boykins last night, this very well may be Shaq's real life daughter

Wednesday's NBA Picks

December 22, 2004

Home Team in CAPS

Individual record with team in [ ]'s

Anthony's Picks

Last Night:(2-4), Week:(2-10), Year:(153-149-10), Locks:(13-8)
  • BOSTON [5-16] -3 over New York [14-8] (W)
  • INDIANA [11-7-1] pk over Philly [10-7-1] (L)
  • San Antonio [10-10-1] -4.5 over ORLANDO [15-4] (L)
  • Utah [13-10] +3 over TORONTO [10-12-1] (L)
  • ATLANTA [12-9] +10.5 over Dallas [13-8-1]--LOCK (W)
  • Chicago [7-14] +9 over DETROIT [11-9] (W)
  • Cleveland [10-11-1] -4 over NEW JERSEY [10-10] (L)
  • Portland [9-11] +2.5 over MILWAUKEE [12-5-1] (W)
  • HOUSTON [9-9-2] -10 over Charlotte [8-11] (L)
  • GOLDEN STATE [10-9-2] +3 over Memphis [10-13] (W)
  • SEATTLE [11-8] -9 over Denver [8-12] (W)
  • LAKERS [8-8-1] -13 over New Orleans [10-9-1] (L)

I'd rather give it to Amanda Duke than continue making picks at this rate. I mean, when's the last time the Clippers covered, when they had Danny Manning? And the Suns the other night? They could only beat the Nuggets sans (Paul's word and one of the worst in the English language) 'Melo and Camby by 2? The Bulls have won 4 in a row, the Celtics can beat the Cavs in Cleveland but not Miami sans (I'm on a roll) Shaq, New Orleans is just f***ing with people every night, Memphis looks unbeatable...and was it just me or were the Knicks trailing by 82 at one point last night? How does that happen? How does Josh Howard have something like 26 and 17 in 28 minutes? The NBA is rediculous, that's why tonight I have a doozy of a lock. Why Atlanta, am I crazy? Well yes, but the real reason is that Dallas beat the Hawks the other night by 125 and then the Mavs trounced the Knicks by 94. Seems like a no-brainer to pick Dallas, and thats why I'm going with the ATL. Golden State is a strong play too. Right now you should go with the exact opposite of the obvious, like phx and den the other night. It should work and if it doesn't, I won't be the least bit surprised. Basically I just wasted 10 minutes of my life, sorry.

Paul's Picks

Last Night:(3-3), Week:(4-8), Year:(163-142-11), Locks:(13-9-1)

  • BOSTON [6-15] -3 over New York [15-7] (W)
  • Philly [15-4-1] pk over INDIANA [12-5-2] (W)
  • San Antonio [9-11-1] -4.5 over ORLANDO [18-2] (L)
  • TORONTO [11-11-1] +3 over Utah [11-12] (W)
  • Dallas [15-7-1] -10.5 over ATLANTA [12-9] (L)
  • Chicago [8-13] +9 over DETROIT [14-6] (W)
  • Cleveland [9-12-1] -4 over NEW JERSEY [11-9] (L)
  • Portland [9-11] +2.5 over MILWAUKEE [14-4-1] (W)
  • HOUSTON [7-11-2] -10 over Charlotte [8-10-2] (L)
  • Memphis [10-14] -3 over GOLDEN STATE [9-10-2] (L)
  • SEATTLE [11-9] -9 over Denver [12-10] (W)
  • LAKERS [8-13] -13 over New Orleans [9-10-1] (L)

Hi, my name's Paul and I've done nothing to help Ant out with these picks in the last week and a half or so yet I'm still faring better than he is. I have a cool new job which doesn't even allow me 3 minutes to sign online to make my picks. I actually just make Ant call me with all the spreads and be my little slave. In addition to me ruining his entire life, my brother also bashes him after he worked for 3 days on an article. My brother's a jerk and a loser and didn't get laid til he was...well, he's never gotten laid. Poor guy, maybe that's why he has so much time to write 5000 word posts in our fantasy league. Anyway, since this isn't even really me writing this, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanza. I'll try and get a new 5 on Five up before Artest comes back.

Fast Breaking It Down 12/22/04

I apologize for the lack of articles I've been able to put up recently, it's just that it's a really busy time of year and all, and to further constrain things, I started a new job last week in which I work from sunset to sunrise and have to commute 2 hours each way; I had my car broken into last weekend, vandalized, and left without a stereo and functionable locks; I'm in the process of moving two states away; AND I bent my wookie. So with all that, I'm a little tight on time and am going to have to go on hiatus from my 5 on Five article for at least this week. But I'm not completely shafting my loyal readers (all 4 of them), so I'm bringing back a column I ran way, way back in the day (like a month ago) in which I just delve into the random NBA thoughts I have running through my head. Time to fast break it down, baby!

Fast Breaking It Down

-So Jermaine O'Neal's suspension has been reduced to 15 games; he is now elgible to return Saturday against the Pistons. Think he'll be just a little pumped up about that game?! (By the way, how many fantasy teams received an early Xmas present upon hearing this news? I know I did.)

-I caught the Knicks game last night, and I pray that any Knicks fans out there did not because they played perhaps the most atrocious game I've ever seen. There was Crawford heaving up contested fadeaway 30-footers, Josh Howard totally out-hustling Tim Thomas in every aspect of the game, Nazr Mohammed allowing Shawn Bradley to frustrate him so much that he almost completely lost it, Kurt Thomas making no-look passes to referees, Stephon Marbury showing no desire to lead his team back into the game, and of course a dejected Isiah Thomas slumping over on the sidelines with his hand gripping his cell phone as he waited anxiously for a trade offer to come in. It was nice to see guys like Jerome Williams, Mike Sweetney, and Trevor Ariza come in during garbage time and play there butts off, and that's basically what you get out of these guys every time they come on the court. So why does Lenny Wilkens' rotation feature a leader that's notoriously been labeled as a me-first guy (Marbury), one shooting guard that has the shot selection of someone playing HORSE (Crawford) and the other who looks about as brittle as a gingerbread man (Houston), a 3 that has been an underachiever every year he's been in the league (Tim Thomas), one power forward who turns his intensity on and off quicker than a light switch (Kurt Thomas) and another that takes more shots on the bench than on the floor (Baker) , and a center that has developed Dampieritis by showing up one game and disappearing the next (Mohammed). Bottom line--Isiah doesn't necessarily need to revamp this roster (which he will likely do), but this team is going to keep meddling around mediocrity until a significant change is made. That change? Fire the coach--Lenny Wilkens needs to go; he is just not the right coach for this bunch of misfits. Isiah needs to hire a coach that 1-is going to instill some fire into this ballclub because they are a very talented bunch and 2-will not be hesitant in benching the veterans for the younger guys. I'm not sure who is out there that can be expected to handle this task (Eric Musselman, Doug Collins?), but I firmly believe Isiah needs to address this issue.

-There's been reports that Eduardo Najera is upset with his lack of playing time this season. Apparently he longs for the days of last season when he was playing a healthy 12 minutes per game. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big Najera fan, but c'mon...what writer in their right mind bats an eyelash when Eduardo freaking Najera is bitching about PT? Oh right, someone who writes on the Golden State Warriors.

-Another guy publicly whining about his minutes--DeShawn Stevenson. I love guys like this--Stevenson re-signs with Orlando in the off-season to presumably be a bench player behind Cuttino Mobley and Grant Hill. Mobley goes down in the first week of the season so Stevenson is shifted into the starting lineup. And boy does he ever take that opportunity and run with it: 7.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0 3PA in 10 games as the starting SG. So of course when Mobley returns Stevenson is forced to snuggle imbetween Mario Kasun and Michael Bradley on the Orlando bench. Now he wants to be traded. Seriously, what was he thinking? Was he just assuming Grant Hill was going down at some point? I guess that's actually pretty conceivable, regardless, Deshawn Stevenson needs to put a sock in it.

-Everyone probably know that Shaq has the #1 selling jersey in the NBA; I'd actually probably sport it, but anyways, here's a list of 10 jerseys I would definitely rock:

  • Ron Artest, 21, Indiana Pacers (home yellow)
  • Amare Stoudemire, 32, Phoenix Suns (alternate orange)
  • LeBron James, 23, Cleveland Cavaliers (road wine)
  • Manu Ginobili, 20, San Antonio Spurs (home white)
  • Emeka Okafor, 50, Charlotte Bobcats (home white)
  • Bobby Simmons, 21, Los Angeles Clippers (road red)
  • Grant Hill, 33, Orlando Magic (road blue)
  • Nene, 31, Denver Nuggets (road baby blue)
  • Carlos Boozer, 5, Utah Jazz (road blue)
  • Andre Iguodala, 4, Philadelphia 76ers (blue throwback front reads: Phila)

-And here's ten you might catch me vomiting on:

  • Kobe Bryant, 8, Los Angeles Lakers (road purple)
  • Kenyon Martin, 6, Denver Nuggets (home white)
  • Richard Jefferson, 24, New Jersey Nets (road blue)
  • Chris Webber, 4, Sacramento Kings (road purple)
  • Eddy Curry, 2, Chicago Bulls (alternate black)
  • Christian Laettner, 44, Miami Heat (road black)
  • Robert Swift, 31, Seattle SuperSonics (road green)
  • Keith Van Horn, 44, Milwaukee Bucks (road purple)
  • Latrell Sprewell, 8, Minnesota Timberwolves (road blue)
  • Shawn Bradley, 44, Dallas Mavericks (road blue)

-Baron Davis is scheduled to come back at some point this week, and though his impact probably won't be enough to steer the Hornets anywhere near respectability, you can expect some monstruous numbers. The Baron was averaging about 25 PPG, 8 APG and 2SPG before going down, and now without any semblance of a supporting cast, he will likely have the ball in his hands around 99% of the time. You would think his assist numbers might go down, but consider that quality shooters David Wesley, Dan Dickau, and Lee Nailon surround him and chances are his assists probably stay around 7 or 8. Bottom line: Davis is anxious to come back and attempt to salvage his season--evidence of his durability and explosive talent will undoubtedly strike the interest of potential trade suitors. Remember all that take about Jason Kidd being moved? Don't be surprised if the rumors shift towards the Baron within a month or so.

-I've never really looked closely enough to be able to tell, but do the 76ers have a necklace around Kyle Korver's neck that shocks him anytime he crosses the 3-point line?

-Just look at New Jersey's roster outside of Kidd, Carter, and Jefferson--fantasy team names just waiting to happen: 'Brian Scalabrine's Homeboys', 'Nenad's Go-Nads', 'The Kaniel Dickens All-Stars', 'The Rodney Buford Bunch', 'Diagnosed with Zoran Planinic'

-The contestants in the 2005 NBA Slam Dunk Contest should be...

  • LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
  • Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Vince Carter, New Jersey Nets
  • Fred Jones, Indiana Pacers

-The contestants in the 2005 NBA Slam Dunk Contest will be...

  • Fred Jones, Indiana Pacers
  • Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
  • Carlos Delfino, Detroit Pistons
  • Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Trevor Ariza, New York Knicks

-Obviously I have no inside information to base this on, but I do know that the proven guys tend to stay away from the contest while the NBA pushes its younger guys to participate as a means to attract publicity to themselves. I've heard Jones already say he plans on defending his crown and also that Delfino takes great pride in his dunking skills, so I'm writing those two in. Josh Smith can jump out of the freaking building, so I really hope he enters, and Iguodala and Ariza can both get up there too, so it wouldn't surprise me at all to see these guys in the contest. But man, imagine if they raised the stakes of the dunk contest; say the winner got $100,000, wouldn't that entice some of the best dunkers to do it? Who wouldn't want to watch LeBron, Wade, Kobe, Jones, and Vince duke it out?

-How 'bout them Bulls? They've now won 4 in a row (read that again) and are 8-6 since that dreadful 0-9 start (yeah read that again, too). Chicago can attribute the success largely in part to the Baby Bulls, Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler, who have both been outstanding as of late. So allow me to pose this question: should John Paxson still be looking to part with these two, especially now while their stock is high, or should he roll the dice and see how the Bulls hold up before the inevitable collapse that exposes the true value of Eddy Curry? I'm sticking with what I've said all along: get Curry out of Chicago, keep Chandler around. Curry has had spurts like this every year he's been in the league and has continually proved time and time again that this high-level of play cannot be sustained over time. Chandler on the other hand plays with the energy and intensity every single night that a young team like the Bulls needs to build itself around. Jim Paxson has to keep this guy and get rid of Curry for someone like a Michael Redd.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Shaquille O'Neal runs into one of his 12 children...oh wait no, that's Earl Boykins...

Tuesday's NBA Picks

December 21, 2004

Home Team in CAPS

Record with individual team in [ ]'s

Anthony's Picks

Last Night:(0-6), Week:(0-6), Year:(151-145-10)
  • Minnesota [8-11] -1 over CLEVELAND [10-10-1] (L)
  • New Jersey [9-10] +3 over CHARLOTTE [7-11] (W)
  • Boston [5-15] +5 over MIAMI [11-9-1] (L)
  • NEW YORK [14-7] +2.5 over Dallas [13-7-1] (L)
  • SACRAMENTO [7-10-2] -7.5 over Washington [8-10-1] (W)
  • CLIPPERS [10-10] -11 over New Orleans [10-8-1] (L)

I'm not even sure what's going on in the NBA right now. 0-6 last night? A chimp can do better than that. Well, I'm going to keep picking as long as my record remains above .500. Good luck

Paul's Picks

Last Night:(1-5), Week:(1-5), Year:(160-139-11)
  • CLEVELAND [8-12-1] +1 over Minnesota [7-12] (W)
  • CHARLOTTE [8-9-2] -3 over New Jersey [11-8] (L)
  • Boston [6-14] +5 over MIAMI [14-7-1] (L)
  • Dallas [14-7-1] -2.5 over NEW YORK [14-7] (W)
  • SACRAMENTO [9-9-2] -7.5 over Washington [8-11-2] (W)
  • CLIPPERS [8-12] -11 over New Orleans [9-9-1] (L)

Kobe Bryant: What a Difference a Year Makes

But Is It All a Scheme?

By Anthony Peretore

Flashback to June 2003: NBA fans received a bit of a shock when the San Antonio Spurs knocked off the three-time defending Champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals. The Spurs went on to win their second title in five seasons and subsequently sent the Lakers organization into an uncontrollable tailspin. For three straight years the Lakers had thrived under Coach Phil Jackson and their unstoppable tandem of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. But just as the team appeared to be shaping into the immortal force they had been recognized as in the ‘80s, the Spurs put an end to their run at a fourth straight championship. To make matters worse, that summer, several tumultuous distractions began to develop that would ultimately lead to the destruction of their entire team. A year and a half later, the consequences have left ownership, players, and fans all wondering if their Los Angeles Lakers will ever recover.

The centerpiece to all of this turbulence has unquestionably been Kobe Bryant. A short time ago he was regarded as a prospering young superstar, a player loved, or at least respected, by the majority of the sports world. Unfortunately, one regrettable decision has prompted a dreadful domino effect in Kobe’s life, causing almost everyone he knows to turn against him. However, looking back at the past 18 months of Bryant’s life, it seems rather ludicrous for the media and public to continue to afflict him with such harsh criticism. This ever-increasing pressure and critique of the Laker star has even gone so far as for me (and maybe you at the end of this piece) to question if this is all actually a devious attempt by the league to gain further popularity. Before clicking over to another website, at least hear me out.

Still the Best? Kobe dropped 36 pts, 10 rebs and 14 asts last Friday

Drafted out of high school, we had plenty of reason to assume that 19 year-old Kobe Bryant was a good kid. He came not only from a respectable background (a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia) but also under the guidance of his father Joe, an ex-NBA player. He seemed like the perfect candidate to take the torch from Michael Jordan and become the next player who never ceased to amaze us. He had that same swagger; the same look where you knew that on his best night no one could stop him, not even M.J. In Kobe, NBA fans had a lot to look forward to and better still, he was playing in Los Angeles where it would be impossible for him to shy away from the limelight. But, three championships later and right around the time he was beginning to show his true promise, the unthinkable happened. On June 30, 2003, Kobe Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old hotel employee, an event that shocked the entire sports world. In the few short days following the accusations, Kobe would lose not only the majority of his endorsements, but more importantly, the trust of his wife and his admirable reputation amongst the fans and media. Often times these situations have a way of healing themselves and eventually even turning full circle. Unfortunately for Kobe, things have just gotten worse. The unbearable pressure has reached such a high level that we must question how Kobe has managed to deal with all of it and further, whether the majority of it is actually even real. Take a look at the people and circumstances weighing down upon Bryant over the past year and a half (excluding the sexual assault charges). Several aspects just don’t make sense.

Phil Jackson

As we all know, upon losing to the Detroit Pistons in last year’s Finals, Coach Phil Jackson resigned (or was fired according to Shaq) from the Lakers. Shortly after, he came out with his book, "The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul," detailing the various ups and downs of his final season in LA and most intriguingly, his relationship with Kobe Bryant. Jackson had a wonderful relationship with Jordan and Pippen in Chicago and everything always seemed to be fine in LA until that is, the team starting losing. Over the course of Jackson’s five-year tenure as Laker coach, the media provided us with a pretty good sense that things weren’t always running perfectly smoothly, but good enough to remain consistent among the league’s elite. However, harsh statements in his book (particularly aimed at Bryant) from the usually mundane Jackson were highly unexpected. He was quoted as telling Laker General Manager Mitch Kupchak in reference to Bryant: "I won't coach this team next year if he is still here. He won't listen to anyone. I've had it with this kid." So, Phil Jackson could win nine NBA Championships with two different teams yet he could not prevent losing control of a 24-year-old kid? If things became that bad during the season, why not suspend him? And in the end, wouldn’t Kupchak rather keep Jackson and O’Neal rather than a cancer like Kobe? Bryant responded to Jackson’s opinions with: "He's just trying to sell books. I'll just leave it at that." It is conceivable that this was an attempt by Jackson to sell more copies for as we all know, nothing sells better than drama. On top of this, it is also hard to believe that one player was able to become such a cancer, especially while facing sexual assault charges. Did Kobe have time to make more enemies? Did he really want to intensify his distractions? The basketball court was his safe ground, the only place where he was too good to be criticized. Even if it was entirely true how difficult it was to work with Bryant, Jackson should have just taken Shaq with him to another team and went on winning championships. Doesn’t that make more sense?

Shaquille O’Neal

A year after that regrettable night in Eagle, Colorado, Kobe Bryant found himself lost. Not only was he a free agent deciding between multiple offers, but his partner in crime on the basketball court had now transformed into his enemy. The first mistake Bryant made in harming an already tainted relationship with Shaquille O’Neal came during the interrogation process. Bryant spoke of O’Neal paying off women with ‘hush money’ in order to keep their private encounters from leaking out to the public. Maybe Bryant thought his statements would never be released, but nevertheless, how was this helping him in any way? What was he thinking? Why damage the spotless reputation of a teammate and superstar without any self-benefit? Would Jordan do that to Pippen? Malone to Stockton? Unsurprisingly, this was the first foot out the door for O’Neal. It is reasonable to assume that his assertion that Kobe forced him out of LA stemmed directly from this incident. It is in my opinion that instead of focussing directly upon Bryant’s statements in court, Shaq simply decided that he was going to do his best to damage Bryant’s reputation forever. So far, so good.
Note: their match-up on Christmas Day in LA just got a bit more interesting yesterday. Shaq was quoted as saying: "If you've got a Corvette that runs into a brick wall, you know what's gonna happen. He's a Corvette. I'm a brick wall. So you know what's gonna happen." Now Shaq’s always saying crazy things that make very little sense, but this is just stupid. If you do plan on being physical with Bryant, why let the media know beforehand? I’ll tell you why; it puts more people in front of their televisions this Saturday. Keep this theory in mind.

Reputation Amongst Fans

As fans, we are quick to criticize athletes as soon as they make a flaw in judgement. We saw it with players such as Ron Artest, Ricky Williams, Terrell Owens, Latrell Sprewell and now more than ever, with Kobe Bryant. Sure, Bryant made the regrettable decision of committing adultery and we frown upon him for ‘he should know better.’ The thing is, we don’t know anything about Kobe’s life. Can you imagine how many beautiful women throw themselves at him every single day? Do you think you would have the will power if you were one of the most popular basketball players in the NBA? The thing is, it’s so easy for the public to criticize because they don’t have to thoroughly examine the situation. They don’t have to think about if they were in Kobe’s shoes or what kind of pressure he faces on a daily basis. We constantly resort back to the fact that these guys make far too much money to make such terrible mistakes, which is true. But what we forget is that though they are millionaires, they remain human at the same time. I’m not condoning Kobe’s actions in any way, just saying that the public loves to hate without covering all the bases. He never gave us any reason to doubt his intentions before this incident, and while it is appropriate to question them now, absolutely despising the man is a bit much. Everyone deserves a second chance, but there’s something that won’t let us forgive Bryant just yet. Which leads me to…

Reputation Amongst Media

For 18 months, the media has been Bryant’s most steady and irritating critic. This season they got their ultimate wish in pairing their villain in an ongoing saga with the apparent good guy (Shaq). Proof: both Kobe interviews last week were followed abruptly with discussions with O’Neal to gain his up-to-the-minute perspectives on his former Laker teammate. The media has and will continue to push Bryant and O’Neal in opposite corners in order to spice up the drama of their Christmas Day match-up. The media loves to hate the villain and loves to love the good guy and they want nothing more than for the public to feel the same way. On a day-to-day basis, columnists continue to bash Bryant, a perfect example coming last Friday in an article by Jason Whitlock, check it out:

Now you can see first hand how ignorant the media has been at times in dealing with Kobe Bryant. Whitlock’s attempts at humor (at the expense of Bryant’s credibility) not only fail to get his point across but also allow us to see how average (at-best) a sports writer he truly is. Right off the bat, I could tell this was going to be a ridiculous article. First of all, it’s titled "Dear Kobe" and is a letter condemning Bryant on all his faults of the past year. Here’s how it begins:

"Hey, buddy. How ya doing? My name is Jason Whitlock. I'm a 37-year-old sports fan and sports writer. We've never formally met; and, to be quite honest, I've never really liked you. I'm a Shaq guy. The Big Diesel just always seemed more real than you. I didn't like the way you treated Shaq. Yes, he could be a bit lazy, and he should've reported to camp in better shape. But Shaq is a good guy; and had you shown him the proper respect, he would've given you the respect you wanted."

So basically Whitlock’s whole premise behind this article (Page 3 I might add) is due to his dislike for Bryant. He even goes on to say that Vanessa Bryant actually lured Karl Malone into hitting on her in a ploy to get back at her husband. Is this guy serious? He’s right though, we should really trust the opinions of a 300 lbs. writer from Missouri about what it’s like to deal with popularity and women falling all over you. Yet another example of the media pushing hard to keep Kobe Bryant looking as bad as possible.

Now, I bet you’re dying to know where I’m going with all this, so here goes. Before I get to my opinions, let me forewarn you that they may leave you in utter shock and maybe even prompt you to post a comment (down below). Are you ready? I actually don’t think it’s too far-fetched to think this whole saga is a ploy by the NBA to gain popularity. Think about it, MJ retired for the 8th time, the Lakers won their 3 Championships, everyone got bored, and it was time for Commissioner David Stern and the NBA to spice things up. With Kobe’s reputation already shot, why not turn him into the league’s villain and work from there? Here’s how the rest of the ‘plan’ has taken form:

1) Phil Jackson, the best coach of the last two decades, claims to be fed up with the team (particularly Bryant) and resigns right after the Lakers provide him with his first NBA Finals loss. He then comes out with his book, makes his money, makes Kobe look even worse, and further builds the hostility between Bryant and O’Neal.

2) Then, Shaq, the most valuable and perhaps the most popular player in the league, is traded to the Eastern Conference where he vows to regain MVP form and lead his new Miami Heat team to the Finals.

3) Later, both Jackson and O’Neal claim that Kupchak sided with Kobe, who wanted his former coach and teammate out of the picture. Bryant becomes even more of a bad guy, if that is even possible.

4) The season begins with Kobe and Shaq on opposite coasts, in opposite leagues and in opposite frames of mind. The media hounds Bryant throughout the preseason and into the regular season and make it clear he is the NBA villain.

5) To throw more fuel on the fire, the media stages the whole Kobe and his "best friend" from a year ago, Karl Malone, saga. The strife between the two leads to Malone ultimately ruling out a return to LA.

6) To makes matter EVEN WORSE, a week later Kobe claims that Malone hit on his wife and some even go as far to say that Vanessa made it all happen to get back at her husband for cheating.

7) This leads us up to coming weeks, when first, we get to see Shaq-Kobe I on Christmas Day of all days and then, by mid-January (at the latest), the "Mailman" will come back into the picture, eventually deciding on the black and red of the Miami Heat.

Not so far fetched after all, huh? Want even more proof? Open your Sports Illustrated this week and you’ll see a spread advertising the Christmas Day game between the Lakers and Heat. While the fans love to hate Kobe, they also cannot resist watching him on December 25 for our love for the drama will always overwhelm our opinions. Face it, in this day in age, we need our drama, even in the NBA. Sure Kobe screwed up, but honestly, many superstars have. Think about it, Magic Johnson didn’t get hounded for cheating on his wife simply because in the process, he contracted HIV. Instead, we felt bad for him with his life potentially at risk. We ignored the adultery aspect of the whole affair because one of the greatest and most popular players was sick, sick enough to be forced to leave the game. So was it right to condone Magic’s actions because of his illness? We forgave him because he got HIV, but wasn’t that his fault for cheating in the first place? If we can condone the actions of Magic, why can’t we forgive Kobe? The reason is that the media simply won’t allow us to. They have always had the power to influence our feelings and far too often their opinions become so ingrained into our minds that we start to believe them as our own. When the NBA is pushing so hard for Kobe to be the bad guy, he really has no chance to ever gain back his credibility. Will there ever come a day when we can forgive or Bryant? Or better yet, will the media (or the league) ever allow us to do so? Stay tuned.