Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Tuesday's NBA Picks

May 31, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night: (0-1)

  • Miami +5.5 over DETROIT

Call me crazy but I can't see the Pistons handling Miami by more than 5. I think it's going to be a close, hard-fought game with Detroit narrowly edging out the Heat. Shaq seemed to regain some of his dominance in Game 3, annoucing after the game that his quad was now at 75%. If that thing is just getting healthier, look out. Tonight should be a great great, perhaps one of the best of the '05 season. PISTONS 104, HEAT 101. GLTA

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (0-1)

  • DETROIT -4.5 over Miami

I'm thrilled I caught this line at 4.5, otherwise I'm not sure what I'd do. Detroit has to win tonight, right? They've responded every single game they've had to with their backs against the wall over the past two seasons, so it's hard to go against them even with the Larry Brown distraction and Miami's offense really in sync right now. About the Larry Brown saga, which seems to have been a distraction for the team all season-- remember that the last time word leaked out that Brown was almost certainly done coaching the team after the Playoffs, the Pistons rattled off 9 straight. Perhaps most significant about that streak was the word around the Pistons locker room that Ben Wallace had the team rallying together against Larry Brown. Remember, Brown is only in his second season as their coach-- it's not like the players are giving their all for him. The success of the Pistons has way more to do with the chemistry of that starting five than it does the coaching of Larry Brown, even when you consider how good of a coach Brown is. But as long as the crew pulls together and LB is writing up the plays, you can be rest assured Detroit will not let anything prevent them from having the look of a champion. Back to tonight's game-- it's going to be close. I'm anxious to see what Detroit does on defense. They need to find a way to keep Shaq in check without all of their bigs getting into foul trouble, and they really have to keep Dwyane Wade from running the floor and from being in isolation with Tayshaun on him. I think Brown needs to let Rip and Billups stray off the Jones' a little more to provide help on double teams and then do their best to cut off passing lanes and rush back to the shooters if they have to. If it means his starting guards wear down some, then he has to trust Arroyo and Hunter to give them much-needed energy off the bench. These guys have done nothing to cast any doubt upon LB, so I'd expect them to be used plenty tonight. Also look for Detroit to bang the ball down low a little more on offense. I'm clueless as to why they haven't tried to get the Wallaces' more involved in the post and maybe get Shaq into a little foul trouble. Rasheed and McDyess are both more than Haslem is able to handle and they need to punctuate on that mismatch. I'm going to make a Doug Collins-esque prediction for tonight-- if the Wallaces and McDyess combine for 45+ points, there's no way Detroit loses. If they score below 35, the Pistons aren't going to win. I'm guessing they score 46 and Detroit barely covers. PISTONS 96, HEAT 90

NOTE: Last week Marv Albert, Craig Sager and even Stan Van Gundy announced that Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals featured the first appearance of Shaq and Zo on the court at the same time. Being the trusty "source" that we are, Paul and I discovered that this was indeed false. On March 26th at Charlotte, both players were on the court for just over 2 minutes of the 4th quarter. Thanks to Gary's request we were able to get to the bottom of this and once again prove the NBA wrong. Don't believe me? Check the link:

Heat-Bobcats Game Log

Monday, May 30, 2005

Coming This Week...

While you can't absolutely take these promises to the grave, this is what Paul and I plan to present you with during the course of the coming week.

  • Commentary for NBA Wives Part 2
  • NBA Mock Draft #1
  • Finals Preview?

Hope you all keep reading the site and if you have any suggestions for a future piece please make your voice heard, thanks.

Crash of the Phoenix


Get used to wearing street clothes, Amare. After tonight, you won't be donning a Suns uniform for a few months.

Memorial Day Picks

May 30, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:
Last Night: Yankee game, sorry
  • SAN ANTONIO -6 over Phoenix

Not sure why Paul thinks this line is high, he must be high. Maybe he doesn't realize PHX is in a 3-0 hole and have zero chance of climbing out. The spread was 4.5 the other night with PHX still having a slim chance at making this a series. Now that they are on the brink of elimination, 6 seems right on target. San Antone should cruise tonight and have plenty of rest for the Finals. Man, I hate them...

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (0-1)

  • SAN ANTONIO -6 over Phoenix

This line is a little high for my liking, yet I'm firmly confident that the Spurs will bust out the brooms tonight at the SBC Center in front of their hometown fans. It's very tough for a team down 3-0 to muster up enough will and determination to win a game against a team they by now know is superior to them. There's no doubt that the Suns' confidence is shattered and the Spurs will be coming into tonight knowing they just have to play their game in order to win. Popovich isn't the kind of coach who lets an opportunity where you will have over a week of rest slip through his hands. His Spurs will come out for the kill and jump all over Phoenix from the start...and never look back. SAN ANTONIO 119, PHOENIX 104

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Sunday's Picks

May 29, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night: (0-1)

Up before tip time...

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (1-0)
  • DETROIT -4.5 over Miami

Stan Van made a big mistake when he took some shots at the Detroit fans. The Palace, already one of the rowdiest arenas, will be totally rocking tonight. Look for the Pistons to feed off this from the start and jump all over Miami in the 1st. Larry Brown will make the right adjustments on defense and slow down Dwyane Wade tonight, leaving Miami's fate in the hands of its jump-shooters and the Diesel. Detroit should feel more comfortable on offense back at home and surely won't repeat it's ugly shooting performance from Wednesday night. Expect Detroit to lead throughout the game with Miami sticking withing striking distance before rallying hard in the 4th. In the end, the Pistons will hold off the Heat thanks to a much-needed lift from Rip Hamilton. DETROIT 93, MIAMI 87

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Yo Joe, Got to Get Tough!


Joe Johnson returns to the court in what is absolutely a must-win game for the Suns tonight. If Johnson can assume his midseason-form for Phoenix, things may be looking a little brighter in the Desert. If not, the Suns' hopes for winning a title this season may be SPURned a bit earlier than expected. And if you got any more cliches for me to use, send 'em in...

Saturday's Picks

May 28, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks
  • Phoenix +4.5 over SAN ANTONIO

Phoenix, aided by the return of Joe Johnson and the relief of pressure from playing at home, will steal a game in San Antonio tonight.

Paul's Picks

  • SAN ANTONIO -4.5 over Phoenix

I'm a little surprised everyone, including Anthony, is jumping on the Phoenix bandwagon tonight. The fact that heads are taking Phoenix at an almost 2 to 1 rate has me feeling pretty good about this pick, especially considering Vegas has A LOT of money riding on this game. Joe Johnson is back and that's no doubt crucial for Phoenix, but how effective is he going to be? He hasn't played in 2 weeks and hasn't seen a defense like San Antonio's in over a month. And an injury like an orbital fracture can't be easy on the mental psyche heading into a huge game. Phoenix will be hungry tonight, I don't doubt that. But it's hard to trust an inexperienced team on the road in a desperate situation. Popovich knows this game is huge for the Spurs-- with a win, they can all but start booking hotels for the Finals next week. With a loss, the series suddenly becomes a little interesting. Expect the Spurs to come out and set the tone from the start with their defense. Popovich will be very aggressive in trying to take the Suns out of a rhythm from the get-go. I think Phoenix will give it a good run in the second half, but the Spurs will cover with relative ease thanks to big games from Tony Parker and Brent Barry out of the backcourt. SPURS 107, SUNS 99

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Who Will Be #1?

Hmm..Which player will look better in purple?




Andrew Bogut?



...or Marvin Williams?

Who will Paul and I have the Bucks taking #1 overall in the 2005 NBA Draft? Stay tuned as later tonight we will post our running IM conversation that will unveil all 30 picks of the intitial NBA Source Mock Draft. While we have no clue which player will end up where, one thing's for sure, we'll have the Knicks fucking up big time. See you after 8 PM EST.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Dreaming of Jeanie


Jeanie Buss holds up a lucky rock given to her by boyfriend Phil Jackson for yesterday's NBA Draft Lottery. Buss commented during the lottery that it wasn't exactly the 'rock' she was looking for. I'll tell ya what Jeanie, I've got a nice, big coc-- err, rock to let you hold. Even at 43, Buss still belongs in the same stratosphere as the likes of Vanessa Bryant and Eva Longoria, which is saying an awful lot. Don't believe me? Check out her Penthouse and Playmate pictorials from years back. (Sorry fellas, you have to find the link yourselves).

Wednesday's NBA Picks

May 25, 2006

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night: (1-0-- Cheater)
  • MIAMI -4.5 over Detroit

I think Miami wins tonight, so I'm going with them. MIAMI 147, DETROIT 58

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (1-0-- Honest)

  • Detroit +4.5 over MIAMI

Tough call tonight. Logically speaking, Wade is going to bounce back tonight to have an average game and that should be enough for the Heat to even the series, whether Shaq plays like Shaq or not. Remember, Detroit lost Game 2 to LA last year...barely, and a part of me can see this series playing out in roughly the same way. Miami was reminded last night with Phoenix's loss that they HAVE to win tonight so you have to expect them to kick it into another gear. Detroit has looked a little too laid back in the Playoffs this year when they're in a situation like this. They dropped Game 3 to Philly and should have lost Game 4, and fell to Indiana in Games 2 and 3-- none of those games were 'must-wins'. Whatever happens, it should be a helluva game and very, very close. I'm going with Miami in a closely-contested contest with the thinking that they'll get off to a hot start and barely hold off the Pistons. HEAT 95, PISTONS 92

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Tuesday's Picks

May 24, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:
  • San Antonio +4 over PHOENIX
  • Atlanta to win draft lottery

Since Paul's a dddddddumbass and didn't help me get these up (Blogger fucked up again), this might look rather shady seeing that the game ended oh, 9 hours ago. I said the Spurs would sweep so if you think about that and the fact S.A. was +4 last night I think you know who I would have taken. No way I'm letting Paul get all the glory with this pick.


Paul's Picks:

  • Utah to win draft lotter
  • San Antonio +4 over PHOENIX

-Utah has to win the draft lottery, don't they? After the depressing season they had and with Jerry Sloan still deciding to come back for another year, it would be well-deserved for the franchise.

-As much as I'm rooting for the Spurs in this series, I'd like to see the Suns win tonight. If they lose, the series is over and nobody wants that. More than anything I just want to be able to enjoy these two fine teams duking it out in a long, hard-fought series. However, the realist inside of me has the Spurs essentially finishing off Phoenix tonight. It's just not a good matchup for the Suns and anyone who didn't figure that out after Game 1 wasn't really watching the game. The two biggest factors in what made the Suns so good this season-- their energy and their ability to outscore opponents are working against them. Without Joe Johnson, there's simply no way they can wear down a team like San Antonio that seems to have rediscovered its bench yet again. And though people love to assume the Spurs are the same defense-oriented team of old, you can't make that mistake after watching them tool the Suns at their own game on Sunday by dropping 40+ on them in the 4th. Phoenix also has their two biggest weaknesses working against them-- their defense and their ability to play a halfcourt game, both San Antonio's biggest strengths. Again, 40+ at home with the game to be decided in the final quarter? It wasn't even like the Spurs caught fire-- it was just that easy for them to score. And when the Spurs did actually slow the game down, Phoenix struggled to get open looks. With Bowen completely taking away Marion and Q looking lost all Playoffs, the Suns won't be able to win even if Nash and Amare continue to play their best basketball. The sun has set in the Desert folks. See ya next year! SPURS 109, SUNS 102

Monday, May 23, 2005

FIRED IN PHILLY!!


Sixers' Coach Jim O'Brien was fired today and taking over will be former Portland Trailblazers Coach...


Mo Cheeks

Be sure to check out both the Western and Eastern Conference playoff Previews below...

Eastern Conference Finals Pre/Review

The X-Factor: The Health of Shaquille O'Neal


By Anthony Peretore

In keeping the same format as Paulio String Cheese, I’d like to share with you the results of the Eastern Conference Finals, “Back to the Future Part 2-style”.

Game 1: PISTONS 97, HEAT 92
Is there such a thing as too much time off in the playoffs? Well Miami Head Coach Stan Van Gundy’s answer may have changed a bit from Sunday to Monday. The Heat, rather than perform like the team with eight days off since their Semi-Finals sweep of the Washington Wizards, came out like they just got off the bus from another “Up-All-Night-ZhiZhi Wang Sake Party”. Miami played a sluggish first quarter, allowing the defending champs (only three days off between series) to establish an early 11-2 lead. Detroit took control of the paint when Shaquille O’Neal, noticeably hampered by his thigh contusion, picked up his second personal foul with just 6:45 to go in the first. Without the “Big Aristotle” clogging up the middle, the Pistons managed 12 points in the paint (8 from Rasheed Wallace, 19 for the game) to close out the final 5 minutes. Fortunate to be down only 9 heading into the second, Van Gundy turned the reigns over to Dwyane Wade (28.6 PPG, 8.4 APG in postseason) who shined in Games 3 and 4 of the Semifinals sans Shaq. The result: a steady combination of Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince managed to frustrate Wade into a 7-23 shooting night, preventing “Flash” from ever getting into any kind of rhythm. When Wade managed to drive past his initial defender, Ben Wallace (7 blocks) provided excellent help D. If Wade drew the double, the long arms of Prince (3 steals) and the quickness of Hamilton were able to rotate over and contest the 3s of Damon and Eddie Jones (combined 2-13). O’Neal, limited to just 14 points and 6 rebounds in 23 minutes, was never really a factor. After the game he had this to say, “Well you know, I just couldn’t get my thigh loose and when I can’t get my thigh loose I feel all shackled, and Shaq don’t like to be shackled.”

Game 2: HEAT 105, PISTONS 90.
What a difference a game makes. Shaquille O’Neal, who proved to be a non-factor in Game 1, came out like the Shaq of old with 29 points and 13 rebounds, while managing to keep both Ben and Rasheed Wallace on the bench with foul trouble for most of the second half. Without their starting big men, the Pistons were forced to call on Antonio McDyess to provide a presence in the paint. One problem: Miami PF Udonis Haslem didn’t get the memo. Haslem held Dice to just 9 points (3-11), while managing a game-high and career playoff-high 17 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. The other unsung hero proved to be Keyon Dooling, who giving up 4 inches to Rip Hamilton, still managed to force the Detroit 2-guard into just 1-13 (7 points) shooting in the second half. The Pistons as a team shot just 30-78 (38%), allowing the Heat to rack up 28 fast-break points including 18 from Damon Jones (5-9 from 3) and another 10 for Dooling. Dwyane Wade, who seemed totally lost in Game 1, responded with 26 points (9-12) and a game-high 14 assists. He had this to say after the win, “I knew we had to get Shaq going if we were gonna even this thing up. He told me if I got him the ball 15 times in the paint he’d buy me some Duchess after the game and if y’all don’t know, Flash don’t screw around when Duchess is involved.” As the series shifts to Mo-Town Stan Van Gundy better make sure to find the Duchess closest to the Palace.

Check out how this play changed the tides of Game 3


Game 3: PISTONS 109, HEAT 108, OT
This was a battle of epic proportions, a game so intense that by the end of it Marv Albert was so hoarse Cheryl Miller was forced to pick up the play-by-play. After 8 technicals, 3 ejections and 65 personal fouls, the Pistons scratched and clawed their way to a 109-108 victory. The drama began with 3:14 left in the third quarter when Rasheed Wallace, attempting to block a Shaquille O’Neal layup, accidentally caught the Heat center on the side of his right eye. O’Neal responded by shoving the 6-11, 230 lbs. Wallace into the first row of the Palace seats. Shaq was immediately ejected and forced to the locker room with his team down 8. However, the pushing and shoving didn’t end there. Moments later Dwyane Wade rebounded a Ben Wallace miss from the wing and took it coast-to-coast for a tomahawk jam. Sheed, still noticeably tempered, shoved Wade to the floor at the conclusion of the play. Wallace quickly received his second tech and was shown the gate with just over a minute to play in the third. Not happy with the call, Larry Brown got in the face of referee Jess Kersey calling him a “fuckin’ chicken-necked goat” and his wife a “two-timing rat faced mother of a whore.” You can guess the result of this confrontation. When tempers settled, Miami found themselves down 6 and without O’Neal heading into the fourth quarter. Before the start of the final frame, TNT aired a clip of Shaq walking off the court and sending a stare towards Wade, seemingly signaling that it was his time to shine. “Flash” responded by draining a deep three over Rip Hamilton, then on the subsequent possession stole the ball from Carlos Arroyo and hit a wide-open Alonzo Mourning for the dunk. With 11:05 to go and up just 1, the Pistons quickly called a timeout. From this point on, neither team took greater than a three-point lead the rest of the way. With just :07 remaining and the Heat down by 3, it was Wade time once again. “Flash” took the inbounds pass, drove to the right side, crossed-over on Chauncey Billups, faked the pass out to Eddie Jones in the corner and then rose over Ben Wallace for a one-handed jam AND the foul! Calmly sinking the free throw, Wade and his mates were headed to the extra frame tied at 99. Note: Since 1984, defending champs are 12-4 in Conference Finals and after tonight’s game we can see why. Experience paid off in the 5 minutes following regulation, as Billups, the 2004 Finals MVP rose to the occasion. The Pistons’ point guard held Wade to just 2 points (1-6), while draining two crucial three-pointers, the latter with just 3.4 seconds remaining. A Shandon Anderson runner as time expired fell just short and the defending champs now lead this best-of-seven series 2 games to 1.

Game 4: PISTONS 101, HEAT 91
With Shaquille O’Neal serving his one-game suspension for throwing Rasheed Wallace into the stands, the Heat just couldn’t get anything going inside. Ben and Rasheed Wallace finished the night with a combined 30 points and 24 rebounds, controlling the boards from the opening tip to the final horn. Tayshaun Prince managed to frustrate Dwyane Wade into a Game 1-esque 6-25 shooting performance, leaving the Heat with no real go-to guy. Detroit was led by Chauncey Billups’ (leaving off from Game 3) 29 points and Rip Hamilton’s 11 assists. The Heat seemed flustered and completely exhausted without O’Neal and now face perhaps an overwhelming 3-1 deficit. Alonzo Mourning had this to say after Game 4: “Dammit, I’m so sick of those Wallace mothafuckers! Every time I got the ball down low, there’s that nappy headed Ben or Sheed with that little white spot on his head. You know how distracting that white spot is? They should make him throw some Just For Men on that shit. They should treat that like the batters’ eye in baseball. I can’t play with that white dot following me around all game. Son of a bitch!” The Heat just hope to translate their frustration into solid play in Game 5.

Will Shaq have his game-face on for Game 5?


Game 5: HEAT 116, PISTONS 88
It’s safe to say Shaquille O’Neal is back to 100%, either that or he’s on a mission. The Miami center scored a game-high 39 points on 18-24 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds and 5 blocks. With the team clearly distraught after dropping both games in Detroit, Stan Van Gundy revealed what he thought was the key to his team’s success tonight. “I thought taking the guys to All-You-Can-Eat Ribs night really gave them their boost of confidence. I mean Shaq ate 11 racks of ribs in just under an hour. If that doesn’t fire you up I’m not sure you’re alive.” In addition to the Diesel’s dominance, Dwyane Wade seemed to be two steps faster than any Piston defender. The second-year stud from Marquette dropped 31 points to go along with 9 assists and 4 steals. On the offensive end Miami consistently found the open player, whether it was Damon Jones (15 points, 4-6 from 3), Udonis Haslem (12 points), or Eddie Jones (15 points, 5-5 from 3). Their ball movement was reminiscent to what we saw in the series with Washington, and the team will have to perform at the same caliber Saturday in their do-or-die Game 6 at Detroit. The Pistons were led by 22 points from Rasheed Wallace but were hampered all game long by their playoff-high 25 turnovers. As both teams boarded their respective planes, Ronald Dupree was heard shouting: “The only Heat I’ll have to worry about is yo ladies in heat over Ronnie DOOP!” Well said Ronald.

Wade and the Heat need one more win to even things up


Game 6: PISTONS 93, HEAT 91
Defense, defense, defense. Larry Brown preaches it, his players execute it and now the Detroit Pistons are headed back to the NBA Finals to defend their crown. Led by Rip Hamilton’s 27 points and Ben Wallace’s stifling defense, the Pistons were able to slow down Game 6 and play to their advantageous half-court pace. The game didn’t start out the way it finished, with the Heat building an 8-0 lead after two 3’s from Damon Jones and a thunderous dunk from Shaquille O’Neal. But after a quick Detroit timeout, Wallace came out and kept O’Neal from scoring for the rest of the first quarter and the first four minutes of the second. Brown even brought in the ancient Elden Campbell to take some hacks at Shaq and send him to the free throw line. The strategy paid off with O’Neal (19 points) hitting just 4-12 from the charity stripe while becomingly noticeably agitated. On the offensive end, Hamilton and Billups (22 points) kept stretching the lead with their spectacular mid-range shooting (combined 21-29) and their unselfishness (15 assists). Down by 11 heading to the fourth, Miami made one more run led by the amazing play of Dwyane Wade. “Flash”, who scored 18 points in the final frame (35 in all), had a chance to win the game, but his three pointer from the right corner rattled out into the outstretched arms of Rasheed Wallace. After the game an angry Wade had this to say, “I’ve never been more disappointed in myself or in a team. We had this shit. Detroit aint no better than us. We killed ourselves with stupid mistakes and now we got the whole summer to think about it. If you aint planning on taking me number 1 in your fantasy draft, y’all better have your heads examined.” After this grueling series, the Pistons now face the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Monday night at the SBC Center.

The Pistons will look to defend their title against the Spurs


*If you don't trust me and feel like you need to actually watch the games to know how this series goes down, here's the schedule...

Eastern Conference Finals:
Game 1: Mon., May 23-Detroit at Miami, 8:00 PM ET on TNT
Game 2: Wed., May 25-Detroit at Miami, 8:00 PM ETon TNT
Game 3: Sun, May 29-Miami at Detroit, 8:00 PM ET on TNT
Game 4: Tue, May 31-Miami at Detroit, 8:00 PM ET on TNT
Game 5*:Thu, June 2-Detroit at Miami, 8:00 PM ET on TNT
Game 6*: Sat, June 4-Miami at Detroit, 8:00 PM ET on TNT
Game 7*: Mon, June 6-Detroit at Miami, 8:00 PM ET on TNT

* If Necessary

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Western Conference Finals Preview-- Err, Review

By Paul Benedict

Why bother playing the games? I'll tell you how this classic Western Conference Finals matchup will really play out...




Steve Nash continued to quiet naysayers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals as his solid and sound play was more than enough to propel the Suns over the Spurs 110-90.


Game 1: SUNS 110, SPURS 90
Mike D'Antoni and the Phoenix Suns knew things weren't going to come quite as easy on offense against the Spurs as they have thus far in the Playoffs, but that didn't mean they weren't still going to attack their Western Conference Final opponent full throttle. Quentin Richardson scored 11 points during a 17-3 run midway through the 2nd Quarter to give Phoenix a 48-30 lead, and the Suns never looked back in pouncing the Spurs 110-90 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Tim Duncan did not appear to be bothered by the right ankle he re-injured in Game 6 of the Conference Semifinals, but Greg Popovich still limited his star power forward to 26 minutes in the loss. 'The Big Fundamental' finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds, both team highs for the Spurs. Steve Nash once again lived up to his status as MVP by scoring 15 of his 19 points in the first half and dishing off a game-high 13 assists while committing just one turnover. Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 25, with Richardson adding 22 and Shawn Marion 20 and 12 rebounds. Mike D'Antoni said after the game, "It was a team effort tonight just like it's been all season long. Sure my bench didn't see the light of day, but would you play Jake Voskuhl and Walter McCarty if they were on your team?!" Phoenix held San Antonio to just 41% from the floor and never allowed them to get closer than 8 in the second half. "This game really felt a lot like Game 1 against Denver, except that we went completely cold in the 2nd and not the 4th Quarter. I won't give the Suns any credit on defense-- they're easier to score on than Eva Longoria." Tim Duncan said. "But we can't afford to go cold against a team like Phoenix who can put points on the board as quickly as they can."

Game 2: SPURS 98, SUNS 88
There's a reason why Greg Popovich has a reputation for being the best disciplinarian outside of Bobby Knight and for knowing when exactly to light a fire under his team's ass. A day after claiming his team had their best practice of the season with reports speculating that Popovich threatened his team with whips, chains, and shingles if they didn't win Game 2, the Spurs went out and played perhaps their best game of the season in tying the Western Conference Finals at 1 apiece with a 98-88 win over the Suns. "We set the tone from the start that we weren't going to let them get so many open looks, and we were going to get back on defense. I'm glad my guys played like they did tonight-- otherwise it was their ass," Popovich said during the post-game press conference. He wasn't lying (they played outstanding defense and every player on the Spurs seemed more relieved than joyous after the game). San Antonio held Phoenix to just 17 points in the 1st Quarter on 6 of 20 shooting and allowed just 10 fastbreak points after giving up twice as many as Game 1. "You have to give them a lot of credit," Steve Nash told reporters after the game, "we ran them up-and-down in Game 1 and they came back and used a smaller lineup throughout much of tonight's game and we just couldn't get into our full court game as easily. It's a shame Popovich has to threaten them to get 'em to play like this, but it apparently worked." Beno Udrih and Devin Brown both played over 20 minutes for the first time this post-season, and combined for 24 points and 7 assists to give San Antonio a much-needed lift off the bench. The Suns sorely missed versatile guard Joe Johnson as they received just 4 points on 1 of 14 shooting combined from Jim Jackson and Leandro Barbosa. Johnson is expected to return for Game 3 when the series shifts to San Antonio.



Tony Parker is lucky the Spurs came out with a win tonight-- otherwise this warm embrace at the end of the game would have been a painful chokehold from Greg Popovich.


Game 3: SPURS 108, SUNS 103
Maybe it was the water, maybe it was being back at the SBC Center, or maybe it was girlfriend Eva Longoria being in attendance-- whatever it was, Tony Parker should as hell liked it. Parker scored a career-high 41 points, including an unprecedented 24 in the 3rd Quarter as the Spurs fended off a furious 4th Quarter rally from the Suns to win 108-103 and take a 2-1 lead in the Best-of-7 series. The 6'0" Frenchman hit 9 of 10 shots in the 3rd, including a couple of mind-boggling tear-drop floaters and a desperation buzzer-beater to close the quarter from 34-feet out to give the Spurs a commanding 85-70 lead heading into the 4th. "Tony was just fucking incredible. How that little shit hit some of those fucking shots, hell, I just don't know," said Quentin Richardson. Thanks to an improbable 10-0 run to start the 4th with the game on the line and the crowd all over them, the Suns almost clawed back. Joe Johnson, playing in his first game since totally fucking up his eye and face, nailed a huge 3-pointer with 9:47 left to cut the lead down to 5. He again buried a clutch 3 to get the Suns to as close as 4 with 4:33 to go, but the Spurs simply would not relent. "Jesus! A few days ago Joe Johnson looked like he had down syndrome. How he played like he did tonight, I really can't figure it out," said Greg Popovich after the game. Robert Horry's 3-pointer with 1:32 left put the Spurs up 9 and essentially put an end to any comeback the Suns had planned on making. Horry finished with 15 points.




Whatever Eva Longoria did for him before the game, Tony Parker sure as hell would like some more. The Spurs point guard went off for 41 points, 23 of them in an Isiah Thomas-esque 3rd Quarter, as the Spurs squashed the Suns 108-103 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.


Game 4: SPURS 114, SUNS 112
It's highly likely that if the Suns season ends without them reaching the NBA Finals, they're going to look back at Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals and wonder what went wrong. Phoenix led by 19 at halftime, by 14 heading into the 4th, and by 8 with just minutes to go, but just could not hold off the San Antonio Spurs in losing 114-112 and falling behind 3-1 in the Best-of-7 series. "It was un-fucking-believeable man! It felt like any time we needed to make a shot, we missed," proclaimed Amare Stoudemire, "and every time they needed a score, they got it. And Tony Parker-- man! The next time Frenchie comes down the lane, I'm going to do with him like the TP he is and shit all over him!" Parker once again burned the Suns when it counted the most, scoring 12 of his team-high 26 in the 4th. The Suns had numerous chances down the stretch to extend their lead, but by making only 5 of 10 free throws in the final 5 minutes, and just 2 of their last 11 from the floor, they kept giving the Spurs opportunities to pull closer. Manu Ginobili sunk back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to 2 with 1:47 to go and later made two crucial free throws with 3 seconds left to essentially end the game. "Yeah, I was umm...how you say? Feel' it? Umm...once Tony umm...started to petetrate...he kick, and they so scared that I drive and dunk in the faces, so I shoot and 6 points for us!"

Game 5: SUNS 154, SPURS 152 (4OT)
In what may go down as the greatest Playoff game in the history of the NBA, the Suns and Spurs fought to the death in an epic battle on this first day of June, but not before Steve Nash's buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the 4th overtime gave the Phoenix Suns a 154-152 win over the San Antonio Spurs. Nash scored 8 of his 36 points in the final overtime and also set a Playoff record with 26 assists, but it was his pull-up trifecta from 2 feet behind the line as time expired that saved Phoenix from riding off into the sunset this postseason. Steve Nash said after a game that lasted 4 hours and 8 minutes, "By that point in the game, you're so physically and emotionally drained that you're just pushing yourself from the heart, doing it for the fans and the team. I mean I felt like I cannonballed a 5th of Maker's Mark and a Bob Marley spliff by that 4th overtime. But hey, we're still alive and we have got to head back to Texas tomorrow morn--err, in a few hours." Manu Ginobili led all scorers with a career-high 49 points, but fouled out in the second overtime. A playoff-record 9 players fouled out in all-- Ginobili, Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan, and Nazr Mohammed for the Spurs, and Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire, Jim Jackson, Quentin Richardson, and Steven Hunter for the Suns. "By the end of the game, I was actually subbing in Paul Shirley! I almost called up Bryan (Colangelo) and told him to fly in Yuta Tubase," explained Mike D'Antoni. The remarkable game was neck-and-neck throughout, with no team ever holding a lead more than 7 at any point. When Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire both fouled out within a 53 second span in the 1st overtime, it seemed like the Suns were done for. But D'Antoni replaced his All-Stars with journeymen Bo Outlaw and Steven Hunter, both who had fresh legs and were able to give the Suns a jolt defensively. Hunter set a Playoff-record when he recorded his 4th block in the 2nd overtime, and finished with a Suns franchise-record 8 in all.



Who could have guessed that Bo Outlaw would be integral in keeping the Suns from goin' fishin'?


Game 6: SPURS 106, SUNS 100
When you need your star to step up in a big game, there's no player more clutch than Tim Duncan. 'Groundhog Day' as Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith love to call him, had his most brilliant Playoff performance since Game 6 of the 2003 NBA Finals, scoring 35 points, ripping down 19 rebounds, blocking 7 shots, and sinking 13 of 14 free throws, including 6 straight in the last 2:14 as the Spurs advanced to the NBA Finals with a 106-100 win over the Suns. What was perhaps most impressive about Duncan's game was his defense on the Suns' star Amare Stoudemire, who finished with just 8 points on 2-14 shooting. Stoudemire, who struggled the entire series going up against the 2-time MVP (14.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 38.9 FG%), did a little venting after the game. "I sucked...I absolutely blew. My teammates needed me, and I fucked up. I played like Erick Damnqueer...I fucked up." Steve Nash, once again showing everyone why he was the MVP this regular season, nearly won the game for the Suns. With his team down 56-44 at the half and nobody stepping up on the offensive end, Nash took it upon himself to carry the scoring load by pouring in 21 in the second half, though in the end, it was not enough for the Suns. Greg Popovich could only praise Nash after the game. "Steve Nash, what a God damn player he is. We did anything and everything to slow that little hippie down. I put Manu on him in Game 2, Bruce on him in Games 4 and 5, and came back with Tony tonight, but he killed us every night out. I'm just glad we came out with a win." The Spurs advance to the NBA Finals for the 3rd time in 7 seasons where they will meet the Detroit Pistons.




Tim Duncan once again lived up to his billing as NBA Source's 'Most Clutch Player' by putting together a legendary performance in the Spurs' series-clinching win over the Suns, 106-100.


*If you don't trust me and feel like you need to actually watch the games to know how this series goes down, here's the schedule...

Western Conference Finals:
Game 1 - Sun., May 22 - San Antonio at Phoenix, 3:30 PM ET on ABC
Game 2 - Tue., May 24 - San Antonio at Phoenix, 9:00 PM ET on ESPN
Game 3 - Sat., May 28 - Phoenix at San Antonio, 9:00 PM ET on ESPN
Game 4 - Mon., May 30 - Phoenix at San Antonio, 8:30 PM ET on ABC
Game 5 * Wed., June 1 - San Antonio at Phoenix, 9:00 PM ET on ESPN
Game 6 * Fri., June 3 - Phoenix at San Antonio, 9:00 PM ET on ESPN
Game 7 * Sun., June 5 - San Antonio at Phoenix, 8:30 PM ET on ABC

Saturday, May 21, 2005

SUNS ADVANCE


Steve Nash...he's pretty fuckin' good.

Friday, May 20, 2005

5 Questions that Need to Be Answered NOW


Though he could not quite lead his Pacers to victory, Reggie Miller provided a memorable performance for fans as he scored 27 points in the very last game of his storybook career.


A lot went down in the NBA yesterday, so allow me to address your questions.

What the HELL is going on with the CBA discussions? Is there going to be a lockout?!
- I hate even bringing this shit up because A) Talking about it only makes me a hypocrite for ridiculing ESPN's relentless coverage; B) It's really not worth delving into...yet. Right now the two sides are playing hardball with one another. The league thought it had total control of the situation all along, and perhaps for awhile they did, but the Players Union has waffled on their position with a few key issues including the age limit and the maximum contract length players can be offered. I think Billy Hunter made a major mistake in trying to use the race card yesterday. There is simply no way race has anything to do with any of the negotiations going on and so Hunter looked like he was making a move out of desperation. I'm convinced that the Players Union, in light of what happened with Ron Artest and Jeff Van Gundy, does not want to give the perception that they're getting pushed around anymore and so they want to hold strong on a few issues. But seriously, the changes being pushed by the owners aren't even that overwhelming and the players would only end up giving fans and critics reason to cast the blame on them if a deal doesn't go through. I suspect that the negotiations go on until the 25th hour, but the Union will ease up and a lockout will be avoided.


Billy Hunter needs to spend less time worrying about his pathetic excuse for a perm, and more on the bullshit that flies out of his mouth.


Any last thoughts on Reggie's final farewell?
- Last night's game was one of the most touching sports moments on television in my lifetime. A bold statement maybe, but I'm dead serious. However, it could have been even better. Why ABC didn't run a continuous shot of Reggie Miller during the last timeout is beyond me. They could have easily gone split screen and we would have been able to witness the true emotions of a man enduring the final moments of an illustrious career. Instead we got a glimpse of Reggie after he wiped his tears away. Did anyone else notice that? His eyes were red and watery, but we never once got to see him shed a tear. Reggie has has fought so hard in holding back his emotions since announcing his retirement, yet the moment he simply could not contain himself any longer-- we have to miss that?! And though Al and Hubie got it right, Michele Tafoya mistakenly asked Reggie Miller how he felt when Rick Carlisle called the final timeout just to allow the crowd to give him a standing ovation as he walked off the court for the last time. It was Larry Brown, you ditz! How could you screw that up?! That was what made that moment so extraordinary! The opposing coach called a timeout on their arch rival's home floor just so the fans could give Reggie a walk-off to remember?! That's such a classy move. And if you're not all about Reggie, and if you did not care the least bit that he walked off into the sunset this season, consider this-- a lot of people will remember the 2004-05 season as Reggie Miller's farewell year. Who will remember the farewell season of Karl Malone? Patrick Ewing? Charles Barkley? Michael Jordan? I think what is most significant about Reggie's retirement, is that the door finally closed on the greatest era of stars ever to rule the NBA, and Reggie truly made it a memorable closing.


Exactly 7 months after the NBA's darkest day, we can thank Larry Brown for sealing the envelope shut on a saga that has overshadowed the NBA's best rivalry.


No franchise's future is more uncertain than Seattle's. What are they going to do?
- Supposedly Seattle management has been planning to base the team's future on how the Sonics fared this post-season. If that's the case, I really believe they have to do everything in their will to bring the core back. That means Rick Sund, Nate McMillan, and Ray Allen. I don't believe Ray Allen can carry a Championship team on his back by himself, but I don't necessarily think Seattle or anyone should expect him to if he re-signs. Allen can be your go-to-guy and can certainly be counted on to lead the team when it counts the most-- I think that qualifies him as a max-contract player. If Seattle shows him the money, he'll be back. At the same time, you have to consider the other argument one could make in not bringing Allen back and instead deciding to rebuild. You build franchises to win championships and while Seattle is up there, it's difficult to see them topping any of the elite teams next season if they come back with roughly the same roster. But when you're as close as Seattle was this year, and especially considering you could make excuses as to why you didn't beat the Spurs (no Vlad, Lewis), you just can't alienate the fans that backed you up all season long. That place was nuts last night and there's no doubting that Seattle will be hyped for the Sonics next year if they bring back most of the key parts from this year's squad. And with a few changes, I really do believe Seattle can take that next step up into being a legitimate title contender. Rashard Lewis and Luke Ridnour have to continue to get better if Seattle is going to make any progress next season. I think their experiences this year will not only make them into better players, but also help them to be mentally tougher and that's just as important when you're talking about what it takes to push yourselves ahead in the NBA Playoffs. I say let Radmanovic walk-- someone will overpay for him, and instead throw big bucks on a guy that better suits the team. DON'T overpay Jerome James. I really think Tyson Chandler would be a great fit on this team. A fresh start would do wonders for the kid's confidence, McMillan would further the schooling Skiles has given him the past two years, and Chandler would be given an opportunity to be more than a garbage man on offense. He's got ability, he's a tough kid, and he's still young-- I think he could legitimately be a 15, 11, and 2 guy for the Sonics and be the difference in them taking a step forward next year. Evans, Wilkens, Fortson, and Daniels all have to be re-signed to ensure the team still has some quality depth. And if they can bring in a Jon Barry or a Bonzi Wells to give the team some added scoring punch, they should once again be a tough out come Playoff time next season.


Both the Sonics fans and Ray himself want #34 to be back in Seattle next season, but it might not matter if the organization feels differently.


The series that everyone knew was going to happen has finally become a reality. So how about that Pistons/Heat matchup?
- Anthony's going into detail on the series this weekend, but I'll get my two cents in while I can. Best Conference Finals matchup since Sacramento/LA in 2001. I guess that's not really saying too much, but nevertheless, it's going to be a helluva series. Miami needs a healthy Shaq to win. Detroit is just too tough defensively to allow Dwyane Wade to single-handedly beat them and though Miami's supporting cast has been outstanding thus far in the Playoffs, you can't expect them to torch the Pistons like they did New Jersey and Washington. Neither Rasheed nor Big Ben can handle Shaq on their own, so Brown will double-team the big fella a lot. But since the Pistons are so quick on defense and rarely allow open looks from the perimeter, Eddie Jones and Dwyane Wade are going to have to go to the basket a lot to free up looks. I'd expect Miami to push the ball a lot from the get-go, regardless of whether Shaq can keep up or not. Stan Van knows Detroit is coming off of a physical series and he'll want to take advantage of the rest his team has gotten. If he can get 25-30 quality minutes out of Shaq while playing at a frenetic pace, I think the Heat have a very good chance at jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the series. If Detroit steals one of the first two games, I really believe they'll be sitting pretty. I just can't see an inexperienced Playoff team like Miami going into the Palace and stealing one from the defending champs. Normally home court doesn't matter so much in a series involving two excellent teams that match up so well, but I think this series will play out like a chess match given the circumstances. Stan Van has his eyes set on Games 1 and 2 while Larry knows he has the edge if he can snare a win on the road. Expect the Pistons to close the Heat out in 6.

Don't the Spurs look a bit shaky heading into the Conference Finals?
- Yes, surprisingly. They looked brilliant against Denver, but they seem to have run into a couple of road blocks since. Let's give Seattle credit first, they played one heck of a series when nobody gave them a chance. And that was before we knew Radmanovic and Rashard would be out. So wait a minute..San Antonio struggled that much against a team missing 2 of its 3 best players?! Yikes. For some reason or another, San Antonio's seemingly endless bench is suddenly looking quite thin. Nesterovic, Brown, and Big Dog can't even get off the pine anymore, Barry has been a major disappointment, and Udrih is only good for 10 minutes, leaving only Horry for consistent quality minutes off the bench. This is not good news. Whether the Spurs end up playing Dallas or Phoenix, Popovich is going to need quality minutes from his bench in a series that promises to be played at a rapid pace. We saw Pop go small against Phoenix during the regular season, so players like Barry, Udrih, and Big Dog could prove to be pivotal against the Suns, and that might not bode well for the Spurs. I still give them the edge however, because as we saw last night, they can really step up the defense when they need to, and they have much more close-game and Playoff experience than either Dallas or Phoenix.

Friday's Playoff Picks

May 20, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night: (1-1)

C'mon Ant!

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (2-0)
  • DALLAS -3.5 over Phoenix

-Dallas ain't goin fishin' just yet! Avery will get tougher on Steve Nash tonight and if Dampier can stay out of foul trouble and prevent Stoudemire from dropping 40, Dallas should be okay. That said, Dallas still needs to score 115 in order to win, a number that will require some sharp shooting and a big game or two from players not named Dirk. Look for Michael Finley to step it up big for Dallas tonight and be the difference in a close game. MAVERICKS 116, SUNS 111

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Thursday's Playoff Picks

May 19, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night: (1-0)
  • Detroit -5 over INDIANA
  • San Antonio -5.5 over SEATTLE

Close 'em out baby!!!!!!!!!!!!


Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (0-1), Playoffs: Blah

  • Detroit -5 over INDIANA
  • SEATTLE +5.5 over San Antonio

-Pacer People, I feel for you-- but hey, at least Reggie made it out of the first round. It'd be nice if he got a win in his last game at Conseco, but we all know it's not happening. Detroit knows they have to end this series tonight and not sweat out a Game 7 with Miami waiting for them. I'd love to give Indiana the benefit of the doubt by claiming that they'll play their hearts out for Regg tonight, but it's not going to matter. Detroit wins with ease-- PISTONS 90, PACERS 73

-Not only am I picking Seattle to cover tonight, I think they're going to win. They've played 3 straight solid games and I think they got one more in them tonight. No Rashard could equal trouble, but San Antonio has looked very sketchy at Key Arena, a tough place to play. Jerome James and Luke Ridnour have played much better at home all season long and into the Playoffs and I think they can put it together tonight and be the difference in a tough, exciting win. SUPERSONICS 104, SPURS 101

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Wednesday's NBA Picks

May 18, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night: (1-1)

  • Dallas +6.5 over PHOENIX

I knew San Antone was gonna cover last night but once again my other personality takes over and forces me to made a bad pick. Tonight I have managed to fight off that bastard and provide you with the correct pick. Dallas has somewhat mastered the Suns' lethal pick n roll and did a nice job of containing Amare on Sunday Night. I see this game going back and forth until the wee hours of the morning with someone winning and someone losing. I'm not sure who, but I do know for sure Dallas will not get beat by more than 6.


Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (2-1)

  • PHOENIX -6.5 over Dallas

After witnessing the home teams take care of business last night, it's difficult to go against the Suns tonight. Though still without Joe Johnson, Phoenix should have an easier time controlling the tempo at home and I can't imagine Dallas contains Amare like they did in Game 4. Mike D'Antoni should do his best to get Jim Jackson involved early, that way Dallas can't continually roam a 5th defender to help out weakside on Amare. For Dallas, it's going to have to once again be collective effort on the offensive end. They've been at their best in the Playoffs when everyone chips in. On the other end, the Mavs will ride Dampier hard. In the two losses, Damp has been atrocious; in the two wins, he's practically been a savior. It's tough to pin any sort of hope on the big guy, but Dallas doesn't have much of a choice. SUNS 117, MAVERICKS 109

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Gotta Juice it Up!


In order to pull off what would be a monstrous upset tonight, the Pacers are going to need everyone to step it up, including Anthony Johnson.

Tuesday's Playoff Picks

May 17, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Record: SHUT UP

  • DETROIT -8.5 over Indiana
  • Seattle +10.5 over SAN ANTONIO

Expect the unexpected...Ddddddddjjjjjjaaaaaammmmm

DET 98, IND 87

SAS 101, SEA 99

Paul's Picks:

Record: GO TO HELL

  • Indiana +8.5 over DETROIT
  • SAN ANTONIO -10.5 over Seattle
  • Seattle/SAN ANTONIO over 186

-Indy's going to battle hard today. The pressure is on Detroit to hold homecourt, but I don't think they're going to play with that same sense of urgency as they did Sunday. I expect the Pistons to win, but not before trailing for a significant portion of the game. Rick Carlisle has done a great job throughout the Playoffs of making the approriate adjustments after ugly losses and I'm confident he'll do the same tonight. My gut tells me this will be the best game of the series. PISTONS 86, PACERS 84

-I was as shocked as everyone else that the Spurs got their asses handed to them in Game 4. Perhaps they came in feeling a little too comfortable knowing that Rashard Lewis and Vladimir Radmanovic were out-- that won't happen again tonight. It's one thing to pull of a big upset in the Playoffs at home, but very rarely do we see shockers on the road, against the best home teams in the league, coming off an embarrassing loss, with a Coach as fiery as Popovich. You get the point. SPURS 107, SONICS 92

Monday, May 16, 2005

NBA's 10 Biggest Cancers

By Anthony Peretore


Definition of NBA Cancer: When you need to be escorted off the court


10. Antoine Walker, Boston Celtics
The counter-argument to this selection is that as soon as GM Danny Ainge brought ‘Toine back to Beantown, the Celtics won 11 of their first 12 games and would have realistically missed the playoffs without him. While that is a valid argument, there’s no question of how badly he killed the C’s down the stretch of their recent playoff series against Indiana. Check the numbers: 18 TO, 41.4 FG%, 63.6-FT%, and just 14 assists in 6 games (nevermind his bone-headed suspension for Game 4). But the main problem is that Walker cannot be a role player, he just does not have that capability. He needs to hoist his 15-20 shots a night, when in reality he’d be much better playing the post, drawing doubles and dishing to open teammates. Walker’s actually really good playing that role yet continues to try and be a player he’s not. ‘Toine is now an unrestricted free agent and whether or not Ainge decides to keep him will undoubtedly be the headline surrounding the Celtics this offseason.

9. Darius Miles, Portland Trailblazers
With this Blazers team seemingly becoming more cancerous as a whole each season, it seems necessary to deem one player the main virus and that has to be Miles. This year, DM almost single-handedly caused the firing of NBA “good-guy” Maurice Cheeks, stemming from their confrontation in late-January. Miles reportedly blew up at Cheeks during film study, referring to his coach by what was called a “racial epithet.” Wait, aren’t both of these guys African-American? If were to call someone a “cracker” would that not be laughable? Anyway, Miles was suspended for his outburst and one could argue that this incident caused the entire team to self-implode. Don’t believe me? The Blazers were a semi-respectable 17-25 (.405) before the quarrel, and a dreadful 10-30 (.250) the rest of the way (amidst the Cheeks’ firing). Yet Portland management has already made it clear they intend to keep Miles and let unrestricted free agent Shareef Abdur-Rahim move on. The lottery seems like a mainstay for Portland for years to come.

8. Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz
I almost considered leaving Boozer off this list, but I can’t help but think that if he stuck around Cleveland he and LeBron James would have made the playoffs this season. That duo was fantastic to end 03-04 and it seemed as if they had the makings of being a legit 1-2 combo for years to come. But this past summer Boozer elected to take the bigger contract in Utah and leave his Cavalier teammates behind. The result: Mr. Chest Hair missed 31 games with a foot injury, a misfortune that allowed the Jazz to finish at 26-56, after starting out 6-1. While we can’t say for sure that Boozer single-handedly kept the Cavs out of the playoffs or that the injury was his fault, he nevertheless effected two up-and-coming teams a great deal in 04-05.


Yeah, we're pretty fed up too Chris


7. Chris Webber, Philadelphia 76ers
Webber is another guy that somehow killed the chances of two teams season. While CW excelled in Sacramento for years, his perennial plague of injuries certainly became detrimental to the team. If you question that in anyway, think back the last 5 years or so and name the one Kings’ player that made up the face of those elite Western Conference teams. It absolutely has to be Webber and for GM Geoff Petrie to trade away his star player during the heart of a playoff run shows the team’s lack of patience. On the other hand, Philly fans embraced the C-Webb deal and fully expected their team to propel deep into the postseason because of it. So how did Webber respond? By missing 6 games during a crucial stretch in April and by scoring just 16.4 PPG on just 39.1% shooting. In addition, Webber has actually put the Sixers in a deeper hole financially than they were with Kenny Thomas, Brian Skinner and Corliss Williamson. Webber is due roughly $62.2 million over the next three seasons, whereas the aforementioned three just $46.3 million. If Webber can stay healthy and co-exist with Allen Iverson next year I’ll gladly take it all back, but the chances of that happening are about as likely as the Eagles bringing home a Super Bowl.

6. Elgin Baylor, GM Los Angeles Clippers
I know Isiah Thomas should probably be up here before Elgin but just hear me out. First of all, at least Thomas is trying to construct a winning franchise in New York. Sure he’s becoming more like George Steinbrenner than Jerry West, but at least the interest of the team has come first. In LA, it’s been an entirely different story. First of all, Baylor has been an absolute nightmare on draft night; it’s like he crammed for the biggest exam of his college career for months then went out the night before and drank with Rick Fox and those porn stars at Big U. Check the list: Chris Kaman (03), Chris Wilcox (02), Melvin Ely (02), Tyson Chandler (01), and Darius Miles (00) when he could have had: Kirk Hinrich (03), Amare Stoudemire (02), Pau Gasol, Jason Richardson, Richard Jefferson, or Zach Randolph (01) and well, we’ll give him a break in 2000. Think about it, Hinrich, Simmons, Maggette, Gasol and Amare? Who’s beating them? Finally, his lack of effort in free agency as well as at trade deadlines has been abysmal. He could have landed Baron Davis this year for cheap, but instead decided to sleep in that day and watch film of his Laker days. Thanks Elgin for absolutely destroying a team that the majority of us would love to root for.

5. Rafer Alston, Toronto Raptors
This guy started more fights this season than Steven Seagal in Hard to Kill. How many feuds with your coach does it take to get you traded? Earth to Rafer, you were “Skip to My Lou” before this, making $3,000 a year playing with guys named “Hot Sauce” and “Spyda.” Now you’re balling with Chris Bosh, Jalen Rose and co. and you can’t shut your mouth? Walking out on your team, refusing to play, and threatening to retire screams team player, seriously. The Raptors have done a solid job of building a nucleus for the future, but GM Rob Babcock must decide this summer if Alston is going to be included in that core. If he and Sam Mitchell keep feuding, one of them has to go, and soon.


CaCHING!!!!

4. Allan Houston and Penny Hardaway, New York Knicks
I’m going to keep this simple. These two guys cashed in a collective $32.2 million this season while playing in just 57 games and averaging 19.2 PPG, COMBINED! The worst part about it is that both players aren’t getting any better health or performance wise, yet still going to cost the Knicks another $34.9 million next season. Penny finally comes off the books after next year, but his buddy Allan will still be getting a check for an astronomical $20.7 million in 06-07. Sure, the real cancer is probably Isiah but after he helps land Phil Jackson this summer I won’t be able to criticize him, well, at least until his next idiotic move.

3. Steve Francis, Orlando Magic
I’ve never seen a grown man publicly pout after a teammate had been traded. After Francis’ best friend and backcourt mate Cuttino Mobley was shipped to Sacramento, the All-Star point guard just wasn’t the same. Check the quotes: "I can't put it into words. Playing with a guy, living with a guy, just knowing that every day when I wake up that's something I can count on, that I'm going to be in practice or in a game with Cuttino. Him not being here is going to be tough for me. I don't know what I'm going to wake up for." Um, was there something going on here that we weren’t aware of. I mean I’ve said goodbye to boatloads of friends through the years (high school, college) and I’m still waking up every day just fine. These are grown men and supposed professionals, yet they can’t handle being apart from one another? Francis’ numbers did not fall off significantly after the deal, but his attitude certainly did. The Magic were a legitimate 5 seed heading into the All-Star Break yet finished 6.0 games out of a playoff spot?!?! Part of the blame certainly has to go on the coach, Johnny Davis, which it did (he was canned for Chris Jent). But the second pointing of the proverbial finger must be aimed at the superstar and in this case, it’s the Franchise. With guys like Grant Hill, Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and Kelvin Cato around (not to mention rookie phenom Jameer Nelson), missing the playoffs is inexcusable. Could GM John Gabriel trade superstars in back-to-back offseasons?

2. Latrell Sprewell, Minnesota Timberwolves
“I told you I needed to feed my family. They offered me 3 years at $21 million. That’s not going to cut it. And I’m not going to sit here and continue to give my children food while this front office takes money out of my pocket. If [owner Glen] Taylor wants to see my family fed, he better cough up some money. Otherwise, you’re going to see these kids in one of those Sally Struthers commercials soon.” Okay let’s say Sprewell had 20 kids. And say he fed them each filet mignon for breakfast, lobster for lunch and caviar for dinner. Say each of those meals cost $50 a plate, times three and that’s $150 per day, per kid. Throw in some snacks, 5-10 gallons of juice and some animal crackers and we’ll round it off to $200 per day, per kid. That would come out to $4,000 per day to feed all of these children and roughly $1.46 million for the entire year. But Sprewell was offered $7 million a year and unless he has Wilt Chamberlain syndrome, there’s no way in hell that he has 20 kids. Couple this with the fact that Spree’s PPG went down 4.0, APG 1.3, RPG 0.6, and that the Wolves missed the playoffs entirely (after being a 1 seed last season) and you can see how helpful he was in Minnesota this year. If anyone signs this guy this summer they’re insane.


This is the last time we saw Artest on a basketball court

1. Ron Artest, Indiana Pacers
Now that Indiana evened up their semi-final series with Detroit on Wednesday, it’d be easy for me to say, “now imagine if they had Artest?” I could focus primarily on that aspect of the argument, but that’s something you all can do pretty easily yourselves. Instead I’d first like to concentrate on the other facets in which Artest effected by his actions. Keep in mind that the Pacers won 43 despite all of the turmoil stemming from the “Malice at the Palace”, and somehow nabbed the six seed in the East. For argument’s sake, let’s try and pinpoint the number of wins they should have had had this melee never occurred.
  • In the 15 games Jermaine O’Neal missed, Indiana lost 10. Put him in that lineup and we’ll give them back five. New Total: 48 wins.
  • When O’Neal returned, most of Indiana’s opponents’ focus certainly turned to him and it eventually started to wear on his 6-11 frame. Because he didn’t have trustworthy teammates for long stretches of games, come March he was so worn down that he injured his shoulder and was forced to miss another 22 games. Remarkably Indy won 15 of those, but how many would they have taken had he been healthy? Say another 4? New Total: 52 wins.
  • So what about Stephen Jackson, the team’s third leading scorer (18.7 PPG), who missed a crippling 30 games in December and January? Indy dropped 17 of those 30, and we can probably assume they could have squeaked out another 5 or so with him in uniform, right? New Total: 57 wins.
  • Finally, let’s remember that the #1 seed Miami won only 59 games. Now put Artest on the court for those 75 games he missed and tell me they wouldn’t have won at least 60 and been arguably the team to beat right now? If that doesn’t spell cancer, I don’t know what does.

Check out all of Anthony's work from this year by clicking on "Anthony's Articles" on the sidebar under the scoreboard...

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Sunday's Playoff Picks

May 15. 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Friday: (0-2), Playoffs (17-33-3)

  • Detroit -5 over INDIANA
  • San Antonio -6.5 over SEATTLE
  • Phoenix +2.5 over DALLAS

Pretty late but Paul can vougue (is this a word?) that these are legit. See you tomorrow with better picks on time. PEACE



Paul's Picks:

Friday: (0-2), Playoffs: (21-31-3)

  • Detroit -5 over INDIANA
  • Detroit/INDIANA under 171.5
  • Phoenix +2.5 over DALLAS
  • San Antonio -6.5 over SEATTLE

Sorry about not posting picks last night, although it obviously doesn't matter. We stink and well, what else can we say for ourselves? At least we're trying, doesn't that count for something?

Very difficult not to take the Pistons with their backs against the wall, even if the line is rather high. One thing I am sure about-- those teams won't hit the over on 171.5. Not with both teams feeling that it's essentially a must-win. Should be a brutal, physical game. PISTONS 81, PACERS 74

Phoenix/Dallas...I really have no idea what to expect. I certainly don't think all the favorites will cover today, and this is the game where I think the underdog takes the cake. Once again the key for Dallas is Dampier-- if he can stay on the floor for 30+ minutes and Dallas shoots well, then they will take this game. But it's hard to pin your hopes on Dampier when Amare Stoudemire is involved. Expect a tight one in Dallas, but for the Suns to slug it out. SUNS 119, MAVERICKS 116

No way San Antonio isn't winning tonight, I'd take the money line big if I were a betting man. As if the Spurs didn't have reason enough to come out and pound the Sonics tonight, Jerome James opens his big fat mouth and gives the Spurs more reason to get amped up. Thursday night's loss was a total fluke for San Antonio, just wait and see. SPURS 110, Sonics 95

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Garbage Man Delivers Some Trash


Jerome James after the Sonics' fluke win last night: "I don't give the Spurs NO respect!". Yeah, great move you bum-- way to give the Spurs another reason to destroy you the next two games. I mean didn't people learn anything from Antoine Walker?!

Friday's Picks

May 13, 2005

Home TEAM in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night: (0-2), Playoffs: (17-31-3)
  • CELTICS -8 over Athletes in Action
  • Detroit -4 over INDIANA
  • DALLAS -2.5 over Phoenix

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (0-2), Playoffs: (21-29-3)
  • Detroit -4 over INDIANA
  • DALLAS -2.5 over Phoenix

Yes, our records are both terrible. No, we don't bet on sports nor do we advise anyone else to-- this is why.

-Detroit disappeared in the second half of Game 2-- I'd be shocked if that were to happen at any point during tonight's game. The Pistons will come out fired up and knowing that a loss could put them into a tight situation. With that in mind, you have to take the superior team tonight. Detroit 98, Indiana 92.

-Phoenix was not the same team with Joe Johnson out for the second half of Wednesday's game. Jim Jackson is a solid fill-in, but it totally limits their bench. I think Dallas capitalizes on this tonight. Dallas 111, Phoenix 107

Thursday, May 12, 2005

TKOed


Either Joe Johnson just fought 10 rounds, or he fell smack on the hardwood face-first after dunking the ball. Whichever the case, the Suns' 2-guard was knocked out of Game 2, will be held out of Game 3 due to a concussion, and is considered doubtful for Game 4 on Sunday. Suddenly the sure-fire Suns are facing a weekend forecast that looks a bit cloudy.

Thursday's NBA Picks

May 12, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night: (0-2), Playoffs: (17-29-3)

  • WASHINGTON +5 over Miami
  • San Antonio -4.5 over SEATTLE
I hate to agree 100% with Paul but I like both of these games. Oh yeah and screw last night, that was total BS. If you're actually betting on the NBA you're on crack. I like Washington to stay close with Miami tonight. I don't know if they'll win but it will be close enough for them to cover. As for the game out west, this series is an absolute joke. Seattle has absolutely no chance with Radmon as they showed at the end of the year. Allen is at 80% and without those two at 100%, I smell a Spurs romp once again. GLTA



Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (21-27-3)

  • WASHINGTON +5 over Miami
  • San Antonio -4.5 over SEATTLE

-Two shocking games last night-- Indiana played out of their minds and Detroit played a horrible second half as the Pacers evened up the series, and Dallas got help from the guys they needed to in order to hand Phoenix a loss. I firmly believe the Suns missed Joe Johnson a great deal in the second half last night and may be in a bit of trouble without him for Game 3 and possibly Game 4.

-I like the Wiz tonight, I think they're going to be pumped in DC and get just enough from the Big 3 in taking down the Heat. They played very well in Game 2 and gave the Heat a bit of a scare, but tonight I think they pull off their only W of the series. Jordan will find a way to limit Wade and force an unhealthy Shaq to beat them tonight. If the Wiz can get solid games out of Arenas, Hughes, and Jamison, I think they'll have enough firepower to outrun Miami. WIZARDS 105, HEAT 101

-Seattle has to come out and give a better effort tonight. Right? I'm not sure I see it happening. I don't know what they can do differently to overcome what San Antonio is throwing at them. Allen is getting no help from the frontcourt and the team has one less proven-scorer to hit open shots with Radmanovic done for the series. Unless the Sonics catch fire in either of the next two games, I think we can bust out the brooms. SPURS 99, SONICS 90.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Gone Fishin'!

I know everyone loves Kenny Smith's 'Gone Fishin'' mock-photos as much as I do, so I thought I'd throw them up on our site for everyone to enjoy. They're actually posted on NBA.com, but for some reason the webmasters decided to make it as difficult to find them as Waldo. I'm currently trying to dig up the Grizzlies and Nets ones from this year because they're not posted on the site. Anyways, here's the link if you want to check out more: http://www.nba.com/playoffs2005/fishin_gallery05.html




Yao looks like he's struggling to hold onto his fish, much like his struggles in holding onto position in the post.




Kenny the "Blimp" takes a delighted Celtics trio for a fishing trip after their abomination against the Pacers on Saturday night. He should have taken Anthony, too.




The boys do the fishing, Oprah does the clamming. Love the Ferris Bueller reference...




You gotta love 'Melo and Boykins' shirts. Supposedly the guy in the back works for TNT.




The best is the patch on TO's jacket, "All About Me".




Govenah Ahnald invited Kermie, Miller, and the Jet after the Kings' embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Sonics.

Wednesday's NBA Picks

May 11, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night: (0-0), Playoffs: (17-27-3)
  • DETROIT -8.5 over Indiana
  • PHOENIX -6.5 over Dallas

-I'm busy working on my next article which should be done by tomorrow, so excuse the tardiness on my picks.

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (2-0), Playoffs: (21-25-3)

  • DETROIT -8.5 over Indiana
  • PHOENIX -6.5 over Dallas

-Indiana just looked completely overmatched in Game 1 and I'm not sure what adjustments they can make coming into tonight to be able to give the Pistons a game on their home floor (another brawl maybe?). If JO, Fred Jones, and Tinsley were all healthy, they could do a better job of speeding the pace up, but even then Detroit would still find a way. Detroit's only real weakness is their depth, but at this point, Indiana's bench isn't exactly anything special to write about either. Yup, they're screwed. I do think they keep it closer tonight, but not enough to pose a threat. PISTONS 93, PACERS 83

-Dallas has to slow the game down tonight and find a way to limit Amare, which essentially means getting him into foul trouble. I don't blame Dirk at all for calling out Dampier-- he knows how important he is to this series. If Dampier can stay on the floor and establish himself on the offensive glass and draw a few fouls from Amare, Dallas can absolutely win this game. But we're talking about Erick freaking Dampier! If the game comes down to Dampier vs. Amare, I think we all know who's going to win. The Mavericks' only other hope is if they shoot lights out, and I mean 60% because it doesn't look like they can limit the Suns to less than 115 points. SUNS 119, MAVERICKS 107

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Fast-Breaking It Down


Steve Nash hoisted the MVP Trophy Monday night in Phoenix, but the most valuable player in the league he is not.

-I'm still a bit perturbed that Steve Nash was named MVP over Shaquille O'Neal. Nash had a fantastic season in leading the Suns to a tremendous turnaround in becoming the league's best team during the regular season. There's no denying that his addition to the team last summer was a major factor in the team's turnaround, but look at that lineup-- Amare Stoudemire, an absolute physical menace that no team in the league could figure out how to guard; Shawn Marion, the best third option on any team in the league and the perfect guy for the Suns' style of play; Joe Johnson, the quiet assassin good for 15 points every night, or 30 if you really need it. And Quentin Richardson, an athletic tweener capable of knocking down 3s and finishing fastbreaks with the best of 'em. Are you telling me the Suns aren't a 55-win team if you substitute say, Jason Williams in at the point? People talk about the 2-4 record without Nash, but Leandro Barbosa was their backup! Phoenix's success this season is very similar to Detroit's in that both clubs have dynamite starting 5's that work incredibly well together as a unit. Nash might have been the engine that spurred the team along, but he could have been replaced by another engine and the car would have still sped along. Miami on the other hand would have been mediocre without Shaq and I can't see anyone arguing against that. Imagine replacing Shaq with the second best center in the world, the one and only Erick Dampier. The Heat would be lucky to win 40. Most Valuable = of the greatest importance. Look it up. Or just ask the Lakers.

-There's a reason why Anthony and I didn't come out with Conference Semifinal previews-- the matchups absolutely suck, with the exception of one, maybe two. Washington has virtually no chance to beat Miami and will be lucky to steal a game off them. You can't throw Brendan Haywood, Etan Thomas, Michael Ruffin, and Peter John Ramos up against Shaq and Zo and expect to compete. That's like pitting "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" against "The Godfather" in an Oscars race. Seattle, injuries aside, doesn't have a morsel of a chance against the Spurs. Spurs have too much size upfront, defend the perimeter way too well, and had gotten in to Ray Allen's head before the series even started (nicely done, Bruce). I thought Indiana had an outside shot of taking two games from Detroit, but not after watching last night's game. The Pacers play so similar to the way the Pistons do, yet they're just not nearly as good. Something would have to go terribly wrong for Detroit if Indiana was to take more than a single game from them. So that leaves one series, and I'm beginning to have my doubts with the Mavericks' chances against the Suns as well. How the hell is Avery Johnson planning to slow down Amare Stoudemire?! You look at that Dallas roster up and down and there is not a single player capable of even remotely stopping Amare. Erick Dampier looked like a little boy lost in the jungle. Charles Barkley made a good point last night-- how can you call yourself the 2nd best center in the world and give up 40 points without scoring a single point?! It took some lineup shuffling for Avery to get the Mavs past the Suns, but I'm just not sure if any lineup shuffling will do the trick against Phoenix-- a team that was driven by its on-court chemistry all season long. Whichever lineup he puts out there won't be as good as Phoenix's, especially not in a full-court game. I think he needs to do his best to slow the game down some and somehow get Amare into foul trouble. Maybe then Dampier can defend Steven Hunter, though I'm not even sure about that.


-This information actually came out close to a month ago, but I know I didn't see it publicized anywhere. Anyways, I thought some of you might be interested in knowing which players' jerseys sold the best this year:

1. Shaquille O'Neal
2. Tracy McGrady
3. LeBron James
4. Stephon Marbury
5. Kobe Bryant
6. Allen Iverson
7. Carmelo Anthony
8. Vince Carter
9. Dwyane Wade
10. Steve Francis
16. Amare Stoudemire
17. Emeka Okafor
20. Allan Houston
21. Kyle Korver
22. Steve Nash



Nothing better exemplifies the power of the New York market than the fact that Allan Houston's jersey sells better than that of the league MVP, Steve Nash.

-I've been looking at the free agent list which we'll begin to hear more and more about as the Playoffs go forth and I've come to the conclusion that there are 10 top-flight players that will actually hit the market (Shaq, Grant Hill don't count because they likely won't hit free agency):

-Eddy Curry, Restricted
-Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Unrestricted
-Bobby Simmons, Unrestricted
-Michael Redd, Player Option
-Samuel Dalembert, Restricted
-Joe Johnson, Restricted
-Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Unrestricted
-Cuttino Mobley, Player Option
-Ray Allen, Unrestricted
-Larry Hughes, Unrestricted

-That's not a bad list. Though there's only one bonafied superstar, each one of those guys is capable of having major impacts on whichever team they end up with this summer. Now what's going to make this summer's free agency frenzy interesting is the surplus of quality players on the next tier below the top dogs. A slew of these guys could end up being real bargains for teams looking to improve, but not having the cap space to sign a big name:

-Antoine Walker, Unrestricted
-Gary Payton, Unrestricted
-Brevin Knight, Unrestricted
-Gerald Wallace, Restricted
-Tyson Chandler, Restricted
-Marko Jaric, Restricted
-Stromile Swift, Unrestricted
-Earl Watson, Unrestricted
-Bonzi Wells, Team Option
-Udonis Haslem, Restricted
-Damon Jones, Player Option
-Eddie Griffin, Restricted
-Latrell Sprewell, Unrestricted
-Dan Dickau, Unrestricted
-Kyle Korver, Restricted
-Damon Stoudamire, Unrestricted
-Bobby Jackson, Unrestricted
-Devin Brown, Restricted
-Vladimir Radmanovic, Restricted
-Antonio Daniels, Player Option
-Donyell Marshall, Unrestricted
-Kwame Brown, Restricted

-That's 22 more names right there that could play significant roles in the free agent market this summer. Now I know you've looked at a bunch of those names and probably wondered why the hell any team would consider signing them. You have to remember that Isiah Thomas is a GM in this league and while some players might not seem so enticing in the grand scheme of things (Gary Payton, Latrell Sprewell), they could end up being nice pickups for a year or two. If you want the best bang for your buck regardless of how much cap room you have, here are some of the players I would definitely target this summer:

-Bobby Simmons, Unrestricted - Though his Most Improved Award likely drives his price up, I would think Simmons could be had for somewhere around $8-10 Million per. Not a bad investment in a character guy who gets it done on both ends of the floor, and who is only 24. I would hope the Cavaliers come calling.

-Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Unrestricted - I know the rap sheet: solid numbers, no Playoff appearances. Regardless, he's still a talented 4 with a good attitude and is only 28 years old. He's certainly proven he's not worthy of being a #1 or #2 option on a quality team, but I think if put in the right situation, he could be a brilliant find for a team needing some scoring punch out of the frontcourt. Could be a nice addition for the Wolves if they can free up some salary. Garnett would cover up SAR's defensive liabilities and give Minnesota a frontcourt tandem extremely difficult to defend.

-Gerald Wallace, Restricted - I think Charlotte will end up re-signing him, but we won't know for sure what they're going to do until after the draft. If they take a point guard, as expected, then Brevin Knight will likely sign somewhere else and Bickerstaff will use that money to hold on to Wallace. At just 22 years old, Gerald came into his own in the second half of the season as a defensive stalwart who's capable of giving you a little bit of offense from the 3 (15.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.2 SPG, 1.5 BPG in March). There's no denying his awesome atheticism and with some work on his perimeter shooting and more discipline on the court, Wallace would be an excellent signing for somewhere in the $5-6 million/per range.

-Earl Watson, Unrestricted - If you don't know already, I'm a huge fan of this guy. A tireless worker with a great attitude, Watson should be re-signed by Jerry West at the expense of Jason Williams, but it's difficult to see that happening. Watson, a young Eric Snow with a better shot and a little more flair, would make a great fit in Cleveland or with the Lakers, teams sorely looking for energy and defense.



Earl Watson could be a key signing for which ever team signs him this summer.

-Devin Brown, Restricted - I expected him all along to make a huge splash with the Spurs in the Playoffs this year, much like Stephen Jackson a couple years ago, but due to injuries, that hasn't been the case. If I'm a GM in the NBA, what reason would I have not to offer Devin Brown, an underrated, defensive-minded athlete who comes from an excellent system in San Antonio, $4 or $5 million/per, an offer that the Spurs might not be willing to match.

-Donyell Marshall, Unrestricted - Another player that I've long been a fan of and will be highly sought after this summer. Marshall's game is more aptly suited in an open-court game and with more and more teams employing such up-tempo basketball, I would expect him to receive some nice offers come June. And though he's almost 32, Donyell's sharpshooting from the outside will help extend his career a couple years and make him into a player worth investing in for 4 or so years. He's probably worth more than the mid-level exception, but if the Sonics let Radmanovic walk, why not try and entice Marshall into coming to Seattle for a role that's perfectly suited for him.

-Jannero Pargo, Restricted - After his display in the Playoffs last week, Pargo likely earned himself some suitors this summer looking for sharpshooters off the bench. And since Chicago doesn't necessarily need two undersized shooting guards, I highly doubt they match a substantial offer. Pargo has always been able to light it up since his days with the Lakers, he's just had trouble finding a consistent bench role. Teams like the Nuggets and Clippers, desperate for some perimeter shooting, would be wise to pry Pargo from Chicago.

-Jay Williams, Unrestricted - He's currently on the comeback trail and aiming to land on a training camp roster this Fall. Though reports have suggested that a return so early may be a bit of a stretch, I would bank on Williams making significant strides towards a return to the league by next season. So why not pick him up now and give him a shot? He's not going to be asking for much money, so there's little risk involved. If he can make a recovery a la DerMarr Johnson and return to even 75% of what he once showed he can be, then you've got a solid back-up point guard capable of providing some scoring punch off the bench.

-While we're talking bargains via free agency, allow me to briefly shed light on some Draft steals that are bound to happen come June:

-Hakim Warrick, Syracuse - Experts have him falling to the 20-25 range which is outrageously absurd. Warrick has improved his game significantly each year since arriving at Syracuse and is an outstanding athlete that would immediately be one of the top ten finishers in the NBA upon entering the league. I'd much rather grab him at 15 than say, Channing Frye whose game I said months ago most closely resembled Jason Collins.

-Francisco Garcia, Louisville - An outstanding shooter with great size for his position. More importantly, he's dealt with adversity his entire life and will relish the opportunity to play in the NBA and succeed, unlike some high schoolers rumored to be going ahead of him despite not having an ounce of life experience. Most NBA players and coaches will tell you-- mental preparation is as important in making the adjustment to the league as physical preparation is. So why allow a mature, tough kid like Garcia to slip so far? So you can draft a complete idiot like Charlie Villanueva?!



Nate Robinson combines a little bit of Earl Boykins with a touch of Bobby Jackson to make himself one of the Draft's most exciting prospects, yet for some reason he's slated to slip to the 2nd Round.

-Nate Robinson, Washington - Maybe too much of a risk to draft any sooner than late in the first round, but by no means should he be slotted to get drafted midway through the second round. He's probably the best athlete in the draft, is as quick as lightning, and is a great kid. When has a player with these credentials not succeeded in the NBA? His game actually reminds myself and many others of Earl Boykins, except that he's about 4 inches taller and can leap out of the building. Yeah, that really makes me want to pass on him for John Gilchrist, a notorious jerk who couldn't even take a talented Maryland team into the Tourney this year.

-Chuck Hayes, Kentucky - Every time I watched Hayes play I came away impressed. He's just one of those players that finds ways to make himself effective no matter what situation he's been cast into. He surprised a lot of people by making his way on to the Under-20 USA National Team last summer and shocked even more people when he came away from the Portsmouth Invitational as the camp's best player. As an undersized bruiser (6'6"), it's understandable why Hayes wouldn't merit a first round selection, but for him not to be drafted at all, which is a distinct possibility, I mean you're joking, right? Certain guys just have a knack for creating a niche for themselves no matter who they're playing with or what role they play into. Hayes is one those guys and would be an outstanding 2nd round pick for a team looking for a quality player off the bench.