Tag Archives: nba basketball

The new Knicks are Mike D’Antoni’s ultimate nightmare

Twelve games into this hectic, compressed 66-game NBA season and alarm bells are ringing in New York.

Mike D’Antoni, once the NBA’s anointed modern-day Guru of Go thanks to the Steve Nash-powered ‘Seven Seconds or Less’ product he oversaw in Phoenix, is left to reflect on what must be some of the most turgid, stagnant displays of offence for which he has ever been responsible.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Knicks fans haven’t seen 30+ three-pointers jacked up before. That’s been a staple of the Knicks offence since D’Antoni took charge.

The difference now is that the ball has stopped moving.

The Knicks rank 25th in the league in assists per game with a meagre 18.33.

D’Antoni, whose stubborn streak and resistance to change are well known, must be dying inside as he witnesses game after game of his players standing around witnessing Carmelo Anthony’s brand of hero-ball (admittedly the main reason the Knicks have eked out the majority of their six wins to date) and Toney Douglas jacking three ball after ill-advised three ball.

The fact that the Knicks have struggled isn’t surprising. D’Antoni’s offence requires a point guard – and the Knicks don’t have one. Douglas, the at-times impressive Iman Shumpert and the corpse of Mike Bibby have platooned at the point to date. Melo has run the offence at times.

None of them are able consistently move the ball and feed Amare Stoudemire and, less frequently, Tyson Chandler in the style to which they are accustomed. STAT has failed to make an impact in many games, his shooting percentage is in the gutter and he looks utterly bereft of belief and confidence.

The addition of Chandler and his imposing presence at the rim has contributed to the Knicks giving up 12 fewer points per game than last season. Unfortunately, loading the frontcourt (and amnestying floor general Chauncey Billups to do so) means the Knicks now score 12 fewer points per game too.

So the net gain is nothing. And watching the offence is now frequently as much fun as repeatedly hitting yourself in the face with a brick.

You’ve got to love the Knicks front office. Historical personnel decisions caused salary cap hell that meant D’Antoni, in terms of talent, worked with scraps for his first two seasons in charge. Now the roster has been overhauled, he’s left with better players completely unsuitable for the offence he wants to run.

A lot of the time the offence looks eerily similar to the unwatchable one-on-one ball perpetrated by new Knicks defensive coach Mike Woodson when he was head coach in Atlanta. This style will let you beat the league’s bad teams and tired squads at the end of back-to-back-to-backs. It will fail miserably against the +500 teams, especially on the road.

The departure of Billups to make room for Chandler has also left a gargantuan void in terms of leadership. With no veteran vocal presence on the floor, it seems the Knicks are ultra-aware of when they are beaten. They threw the towel in halfway through the second quarter in Oklahoma last night. They arguably gave up even earlier in Memphis last Thursday on national TV.

All of the above places enormous pressure on Baron Davis when he is finally healthy to play. If the inspired Golden State-era B Diddy shows up, he’ll be the antidote to many of the Knicks’ ills. But, given Baron’s history of up-and-down effort, it’s far from a guarantee.

Unless and in-shape and inspired Davis shows up the end of the month, this short season is going to feel like a very long one.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under amare stoudemire, carmelo anthony, nba, New York Knicks

Forget the sweep, the Knicks have more pressing matters to resolve

Given that he carried the Knicks for the majority of the NBA season, it’s almost apt that an injury to his back severely restricted Amare Stoudemire for the final three games of New York’s first round playoff loss to the Boston Celtics.

Would the outcome have been any different with the Knicks’ leader and best player at 100%? The brutal (if you’re a New York fan) or obvious (if you are anyone else) is a resounding “no”.

People may point to games 1 and 2 in Boston as proof the Knicks could hang with their higher-seeded opponents. But remember how badly the Celtics played in those opening games. And then remember how well the Knicks played only – thanks in the main to their mediocre late-game execution – to lose anyway.

Like an FA Cup game between a Premier League team and a side from the lower divisions of English football, New York had to play above themselves while the Celtics fell below their usual standards for the series to be close. Games 1 and 2 proved that can happen occasionally. Games 3 and 4 proved that sort of thing never lasts for the length of a series.

The manner in which Boston raised their game once they arrived in Madison Square Garden was impressive. Rajan Rondo controlled the game. Kevin Garnett took care of the intangibles. And Paul Pierce and Ray Allen shot like true assassins. All this while the Knicks took to the court with no point guard and an ailing superstar.

Which is why I can live with getting swept. More than anything this season, I wanted the Knicks to eradicate their statistical list of shame. Ten years since a winning season? Sorted. Seven years since their last playoff appearance? Never again. A decade since they last won a playoff game? That one is going to have to wait for a season. Still, two out of three ain’t bad.

Besides, the Knicks have too much to worry about in the coming weeks to sit around moping about being swept on their own floor.

First order of business is the future of Chauncey Billups. By the terms of his contract, the veteran guard’s future must be decided in the next few days. Either the Knicks pick up his $14m option or pay him just shy of $4m to take his talents elsewhere.

In Billups’ favour, he brings veteran leadership, a winning mentality and a playing relationship with Carmelo Anthony. On the flip, he is two steps slower than the player that took Detroit to a championship, took more time than anyone expected to get used to Mike D’Antoni’s methods and, most worryingly of all, is at that age when injuries take that much longer to recover from.

Could Billups’ $14m price tag be better spent on $4 to pay the point guard off and using the remaining cash to acquire a more durable point guard and a genuinely useful starting center? Maybe. Would a younger point guard be respected by Melo and Amare as much? I doubt it.

But the addition of a tough Raymond Felton-like pick and roll point guard and Marc Gasol is not financially viable – especially given Gasol’s stellar playoff play at the time his contract is due to expire.

For what the Knicks will likely be able to afford, the defensive big man they so badly require is more likely to be someone like DJ Mbenga or Jeff Foster. Serviceable but not spectacular.

All of which brings things to the second – and most important – order of business. Whatever happens with Billups and potential additions to the roster, what remains essential is that Donnie Walsh remains as the man who makes these decisions.

Only the Knicks, or more accurately owner James Dolan, with an all-world executive at the helm fulfilling his remit of returning the franchise to non-lottery, winning seasons would fail to have locked up the man who made it possible.

If Walsh is forced to walk away in the off-season, all the (relative) stability at Madison Square Garden flies out of the window. The future becomes unclear. The chaos of the recent past (which I’ve visited far too many times and doesn’t need repeating) looms again.

But what if Walsh stays? Will he be able to acquire the aforementioned point guard and center to shore up the Knicks’ porous (and that is being generous) defence? If he does, would D’Antoni be able to fit them into his offence? Would the offence-preaching coach even play these players? Would he, in what would be an unprecedented move given his career history, even try adapt his coaching principles?

As always with the Knicks, there are more questions than answers. At least in the cases of Billups and Walsh, we won’t have to wait too long to find out what’s happening.

The 2010/11 season may have ended with a sweep but that doesn’t make it a failure. The Knicks improved by 13 wins, acquired two all-stars and went some way to erasing the doom-laden Clipper-esque statistics that have dogged them for the past decade.

More importantly, they have the potential to get much, much better. Only the front office will decide if this potential is to be realised. And Donnie Walsh must be the man making those crucial decisions.

Leave a comment

Filed under amare stoudemire, Basketball, carmelo anthony, donnie walsh, nba, New York Knicks

Knicks struggles worsen as James Dolan interference intensifies

There’s a famous old quote from Irish poet Brendan Behan that goes: “I never saw a situation a policeman couldn’t make worse”.

When it comes to the New York Knicks, to paraphrase the famous Irish wordsmith, I’ve never seen a situation that team owner James Dolan couldn’t make worse.

In the midst of his team’s toughest stretch of the season, at a time when the Knicks have lost 11 of their last 15 games, at the pivotal point of what looked like being a long-awaited season of revival, this is the moment Dolan decides to involve himself in team affairs, undermine his president and coach and help destabilise the cohesion of his players.

Yes, there are other mitigating facts in the Knicks’ recent run of poor results. Injuries to Wilson Chandler and the team’s emotional heartbeat Rony Turiaf haven’t helped. Floor general Raymond Felton playing through the pain of a bum ankle has affected team cohesion.

And the seemingly never-ending Car-melodrama played out on a daily basis by the media has, if you believe the players, also had an effect.

But Dolan’s ability to insert himself into situations as a looming, dangerous, silent spectre should be even more troubling to Knicks fans.

Walsh

First of all there’s Donnie Walsh’s extension or, more accurately, the speculation that the man who patiently restructured and rebuilt the team roster with characteristic professionalism and competence, may no longer be wanted come the end of the season.

The Knicks have until April 30 to exercise a team option on the final year of Walsh’s contract. So far, nothing has happened to secure his services. After the job Walsh has done restoring the Knicks’ credibility on and off the court, he should be getting offered an extension. Scratch that, he should be told the job is his for as long as he’s physically able to do it.

Instead, with the silent shadow of Dolan cast over the future of the franchise’s off-court cornerstone, Walsh finds his position under threat as stories abound that his future is squarely dependent on his ability to bring Carmelo Anthony to Madison Square Garden before the trade deadline on February 24.

No matter that that blowing up the roster to get Melo now would destroy the structure of the team. No matter that you could sign Melo as a free agent in the summer and give up nothing. No matter that, arguably, a top class center and a strong back-up point guard would serve the Knicks better than a scorer who plays no defence and whose need for the ball doesn’t fit with Mike D’Antoni’s offence.

For the record, it’s clear the Knicks should sign Melo if they can. The point is that Walsh should not be fearing for his job if he doesn’t sign the Nuggets’ superstar in the next 10 days. Under any other owner, Walsh’s work to date would have earned him more than enough trust, not to mention a contract extension.

When you are so dense that David Stern feels he needs to step in to tell you to extend Donnie Walsh, it’s probably a good idea to do it.

Isiah

Of course, one of the reasons Donnie Walsh’s job security isn’t what it should be is Dolan’s inconceivable belief that, along with Red Auerbach and James Naismith, Isiah Thomas remains one of the greatest minds in the history of basketball.

Forget the desperate, team-crippling trades he made. Forget the endless wars with high-profile players. Forget the sexual harassment case and the years of embarrassment on and off the court. According to a report by Yahoo’s Mark Miller, the man who made the Knicks a laughing stock is still on Dolan’s radar to make a return to the team he all but destroyed.

While this particular story has been refuted in other circles, its existence once again shows how the rumours that surround Dolan’s decision-making only ever seem to bring disorder to the team.

Speaking of which, given the very obvious effect the Carmelo Anthony trade rumours had on the players of the New Jersey Nets, why did Dolan choose to muddy the Melo waters even further by inserting himself into the situation and putting his players in the eye of the media storm.

By-passing his front office personnel, Dolan chose to enter the Melo negotiations directly. According to Knicks writer Frank Isola, Dolan attempted to conduct his own negotiations for Anthony with Stan Kroenke who, because of his ownership of the St Louis Rams in the NFL, isn’t even the owenr of the Nuggets any more.

While it would be foolish to assume Kroenke has no influence over what the Nuggets do – he turned over control to his son, after all – what did Dolan possibly think he would achieve by getting involved? The only effect of his chat with Kroenke has been to leave his players fearing for their jobs.

Since the hapless Nets dropped out of the Melo sweepstakes, they’ve won seven of 13 games. The Knicks have gone 4-8 in the same period. Both Walsh and D’Antoni felt the need to address the “We want Melo” chants that chorused through MSG as the Knicks fell to the Clippers.

Worse, the proof that the trade speculation had provided some players with an excuse to lose was borne out when point guard Felton admitted the Melo rumours has affected some of the players.

Midas in reverse

At a time when the team is really struggling and the prospect of a first winning season since 2001 now seriously hangs in the balance, why would a team owner, a man who, like King Midas in reverse, turns everything he touches into shit, pick this critical moment to involve himself in proceedings?

The answer might be that, every so often, James Dolan feels the need to demonstrate his authority and doesn’t comprehend the ramifications of his actions. The answer could be he can’t bear to see credit for the Knicks revival going to men whose salaries he pays. The answer could be he is simply a clueless, deluded filthy rich businessman whose decisions repeatedly go unchallenged.

Whichever answer is true, one thing is certain. Nothing good happens when James Dolan gets involved in Knicks’ front office and on-court business.

The man is dangerous and the sooner he steps back into the shadows, the happier this Knicks fan will be.

1 Comment

Filed under Basketball, nba, New York Knicks

Return of Ronny Turiaf resuscitates Knicks

Everywhere he’s played, the reports on Ronny Turiaf have always been the same: great energy guy; defensive leader; huge locker room presence; team mate par excellence.

Hampered by a knee injury and a bench role offering him limited minutes, Turiaf had been powerless to prevent the Knicks sliding to five successive losses. Rusty on his return from injury on the road against Denver, his main contribution was getting posterised by Nene and Shelden Williams in another New York loss.

The following night, inserted into starting line-up for the first time, Turiaf shook off the rust as he provided what the Knicks had been missing: the defensive anchor necessary to launch Mike D’Antoni’s high speed offence.

The result? A road win over Sacramento and, most importantly, thanks in part to Turiaf’s rebounding, blocks and the shots his interior defence altered, the first signs of consitently fluent offence from these new look Knicks.

While Turiaf will never drop 20 points to win a game, his presence on the offensive end could prove to be just as useful as his defensive contributions. Back on his old stomping ground against Golden State, Turiaf handed out eight assists in a 125-119 Knicks win.

Regularly taking the ball from Raymond Felton at the top of the key, Turiaf initiated much of the Knicks’ offence against the Warriors – just as David Lee did last season. Singlehandedly, Turiaf’s passing ability solved one of the Knicks’ biggest problems: using Amare Stoudemire correctly.

No longer receiving the ball far away from the hoop and expected to make the offence happen from a standing start, STAT’s back to doing what he does best, getting the ball on the move and filling the hoop with powerful interior play and mid-range jumpers.

Slotting Turiaf in as starting center has conincided with the improved overall efficiency of the Knicks’ offence. Over the last three games, Felton, Stoudemire and Danilo Gallinari have found their offensive games.

Against the Warriors, Stoudemire went 10 for 12 from the field and 6 for 7 from the line. Not having to initiate the offence means he takes better shots, makes better decisions and turns the ball over (a little bit) less.

With Felton and Stat tearing into the opposition over the opening three quarters of games, Gallo has emerged as a fourth quarter closer, taking less shots overall but looking like a killer in the final stages of games, effortlessly hitting crucial threes at vital moments.

Against the Kings, Gallo only took eight shots but notched 27 points because he went to the line 17 times. While everyone was marvelling at Blake Griffin’s spectacular one-man show against the Knicks, Gallo took 11 shots and finished with 31 points (13 from 13 from the line) and Amare added 39 as the Knicks secured a comfortable road win, their third in four nights.

What can you read into this successful Knicks road trip? It’s a fair point that the teams they defeated are not the strongest teams in the Western Conference. That said, the Warriors were unbeaten at the Oracle Arena until New York showed up.

And while they undoubtedly wobbled in the games in Sacramento and Oakland, the Knicks disposed Clippers were disposed of relatively ruthlessly, something that suggested they are improving at closing games out.

Against both the Warriors and the Clippers, the Knicks faced a player playing out of his skin (Ellis and Griffin), found a performance to match them (Felton against Golden State and Stoudemire in Los Angeles) and still came away with the win.

After defeat in Denver plunged the Knicks to a desperate 3-8 record, finishing this road trip at 6-8 is a state few fans thought possible. With two winnable games against Charlotte coming up, D’Antoni’s men could be back to .500 in a week’s time. Things suddenly look a lot brighter.

With the New York speedball offence now grounded on a defensive rock called Ronny, it looks like the Knicks have found the formula to run weaker teams into submission. The question, as it always been with Mike D’Antoni’s teams, is how this turbo-boosted system will stand up against the NBA’s better squads.

Leave a comment

Filed under Basketball, nba, New York Knicks

First thoughts on the new look New York Knicks

A new roster, a legitimate franchise player, a core of exciting young players and finally freedom from salary cap hell. On paper, there’s a hell of a lot to look forward to about the New York Knicks in the 2010/11 NBA season.

So, after a basketball-free summer, New York’s presence on the NBA Europe Live tour provided an ideal opportunity for a first look at the new look Knickerbockers as they took their first tentative steps in pre-season match-ups against Olimpia Milano and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

First things first, these two games were the first time the Knicks’ revamped roster had played together in front of a crowd. There was more sloppy play than cohesive play. There were a lot of turnovers. There’s no point dwelling on these things – they are to be expected. Besides, there was a lot more on show in these Knicks outings that provide clues as to what we can expect once the regular season starts.

There’s no better place to start than with Amare, the 100 million dollar man. Stoudemire was in dominant form in the Knicks 125-112 victory over Milano, pouring in 32 points in 28 minutes and getting to the line 13 times. He repeatedly got to the rim and finished after being fouled.

It was a different story against Minnesota. Against tougher opponents, Amare didn’t assert himself on the game. That said, he only played 20 minutes as Mike D’Antoni gave playing time to every member of his squad.

In both games, Stoudemire made some showy defensive plays, swiftly getting into passing lanes to make steals. He also made some telling passes from the high post to players cutting for easy hoops.

The only passive area of Amare’s game was his rebounding, something he was regularly criticised for during his career in Phoenix. How he only managed to pull down two rebounds in 20 minutes against the Timberwolves is a mystery – with his athleticism and strength he should be pulling down at least 10 boards a game.

While Amare’s presence on the roster will more than make up for the scoring lost in the departure of David Lee, the evidence from the Minnesota game suggests D’Antoni has no way of replacing D-Lee’s rebounding.

You’d think that the combined size and length of Stoudemire, Anthony Randolph, Rony Turiaf and Timofey Mozgov would be enough to fill that void. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong. The Knicks were outrebounded 66-37 by the Timberwolves and, at one point in the fourth quarter, were being outscored 24-2 in second chance points.

Simply put, the likes of Knicks reject Darko Milicic and the ever-improving Kevin Love abused Amare and co on the glass. On this evidence, these four guys can’t, or won’t, replicate D-Lee’s hustle, determination and instinct for the ball – his desire to do the dirty work.

However, one thing the Knicks new core of big men can definitely do is block shots. Last season, you’d have had to wait approximately five quarters of basketball to see the Knicks block five shots. Now with Turiaf, Mozgov and Randolph on board and Danilo Gallinari chipping in, you’re likely to see five blocks in any given quarter. There’ll be no shortage of block parties at Madison Square Garden this year.

On the other side of the ball, these big guys all show good passing ability, albeit somewhat inconsistently at this stage of proceedings. One of the best Knicks plays against Minnesota came when Randolph found a cutting Bill Walker on the baseline with a sweet bounce pass. Before they fell in love with the jumper in the third quarter of the Paris loss, the Knicks had 16 assists on 22 made field goals.

The final point to make about the Knicks new core of big men relates to Mozgov. This is slightly harsh criticism based on two meaningless games but the seven-foot Russian picks up fouls so easily that it appears he will struggle to stay on the floor in regular season play. Mozgov seems unable to avoid setting moving screens but can’t get his feet to move at more important times. In Paris, he fouled out in 15 minutes.

The performances of the Knicks’ other major free agent signing Raymond Felton in Europe were curiously understated. The former Bobcat looks solid, calm and tough defensively and, even if his stats against the T’Wolves certainly didn’t reflect it, he’s so, so, so much better than Chris Duhon.

I always felt Duhon struggled to think for himself on the court. At times it seemed like if he was told to distribute he would do that exclusively and not shoot. If he was told to score, he’d do that and his passing game would disappear. He couldn’t think for himself.

Felton appears to have an instinct for what to do and when to do it. I felt he played quietly within himself in this week’s games, bedding himself in with a new system and new teammates. However, when the Knicks struggled for a basket, he sensed this and barrelled into the lane to score at the rim. He’ll need to do this much more come the regular season.

Felton had a poor game against Minnesota and the effect of his sub-par performance on the team’s overall play was shown when Toney Douglas checked in. The team’s overall energy raised about 10 notches as the young guard drained a three then forced a turnover on the very next play.

Assuming Felton beds in, Douglas may end up as the “instant offence” bench guy this year. Having said that, rumours persist that Coach D’Antoni likes the defensive intensity of a Felton/Douglas backcourt partnership. We shall see.

Another facet of Donnie Walsh’s off-season moves was to load the roster with shooting. The idea was to back up Gallo’s three-point prowess with bench guys like Roger Mason, Andy Rautins and Landry Fields.

That’s fine in theory, but the downside of this is creating an environment where everyone falls in love with the outside shot. It happened over and over again last season. Against Minnesota, it happened again. The Knicks shot 9 for 31 from beyond the arc and on occasions in the third and fourth quarters, didn’t look like they knew where the next bucket was coming from.

Taking 30 threes in a pre-season game is nothing short of lazy, especially when you have a core of players able, if not willing, to take the ball to the rack. Although Amare and Randolph got to the line relatively frequently against Milano, they were unable to repeat this against Minnesota.

No-one needs to see Randolph jacking up long twos, let alone the air ball threes he launched when he first got on the court in Milan. Or, as @Coach_D_AntNOTi noted on Twitter, “Randolph’s shot selection reminds me of Lamar Odom’s chick selection. #terrible”.

The other Knicks offender in this area is Gallinari. Time after time we hear about how he’s concentrating on faking the three and driving to the hoop. Two hours later you look at the box score and he’s taken 80% of his shots from three-point land. Take it to the hoop, Gallo!

Neither of this week’s pre-season games provides clear answers to how the Knicks will go this season. As I’ve said, it’s far too early to judge this team. But we do know the 2010/11 Knicks are a younger, more athletic team with superior depth to any MSG roster in recent times.

D’Antoni is no longer handicapped by expiring contracts masquerading as basketball players. He has the players to implement his methods. Because of this, he also has no excuses. I like this Knicks roster and I think might end up loving it when they get used to playing with each other. The new season promises much. And it’s only 19 short days away.

2 Comments

Filed under Basketball, nba, New York Knicks

NBA season on the sofa: opening night live blog

The long wait is finally over, the 2009/10 NBA season is upon us. And if you thought the time difference and having a day job would stop the Sports Bloke from delivering his thoughts on baskteball’s opening night from his London lair, you’d be badly mistaken.

With Lebron, Shaq, KG, Jesus, Paul Pierce, Dirk, Gilbert, Brandon Roy, Boom Dizzle and Kobe and Co all on show, the NBA’s opening night promises much. The only big name absentee will be the Clippers No 1 draft pick Blake Griffin, whose fractured kneecap is likely to keep him off the court for six weeks.

With the clock ticking towards tip-off, it’s time to boot up League Pass and settle in for some high quality hoops. God, I’ve missed the NBA!

11:32pm
League Pass is showing a test card as opposed to player warm-ups. Hmmmmmm

11:36pm
Multi-coloured screen of death is no substitute for hoops. It’s 6-2 Celtics, but I can’t see it.

11:45pm
So, 130 US dollars isn’t enough to persuade the NBA to provide a service that works. Found a less legal stream that works. It’s 19-5 to the Cavs and I have no idea what these Chinese commentators are saying.

11:49pm
League Pass finally trundles into action. We have live and legal hoops but I’ve missed most of the first quarter. 26-17 Cavs. Rasheed Wallace seems to be auditioning for a part in a Kid N Play video with his new haircut.

11:51pm
Enormous block on Rondo by Lebron. That’s his third rejection of the game (as many as the Knicks managed in the whole of last season).

11:58pm
Aside from a smooth Marquis Daniels drive to the hoop, it’s been raining bricks in the final two minutes of the first quarter. Cavs lead 28-21 at the break.

12:01am
Is it me or does Milos in the South West Airlines advert look a lot like Michael Phelps?

12:02am
Woo-hoo! My favourite American advert. I haven’t seen it since the NBA finals. Stay thirsty, my friends!

12:07am
Cavs can’t buy a bucket. And yes, Lebron is on the bench. Haven’t we seen somewhere before? No field goals for five minutes.

12:15am
Sheed drains a rainbow three. 32-32.

12:31am
Humility from Shaq re: not taking LBJ’s spotlight. We’ll see how long that lasts this year. Just ask Penny, Kobe, D-Wade or Nash.

12:38am
Instant replay disallows Lebron’s last basket for a shot clock violation. Are you watching, Bud Selig?

12:41am
Half time. Celts up 51-45. 7 of 9 from three.

12:43am
Away we go in Dallas. No sound – thanks again League Pass. I’m really feeling the value for money right now. Gilbert opens the scoring with two free throws.

12:49am
Looks like Sir Charles has fallen off the diet wagon again. I know how that goes. Still no sound on Wiz vs Mavs. It’s like watching an Oakland Athletics home game.

1:04am
Shaq leathers KG with a hard foul. Lovely reverse from Rondo. 59-47 Celtics.

1:07am
Still trying to recover from Slam’s tweet comparing Kevin McHale to Herman Munster. It’s what we were all thinking.

1:13am
Sloppy play from the Celtics. Cavs get three straight stops. A big Anthony Parker three forces a Doc Rivers time out. Ten point game.

1:14am
Stay thirsty, my friends. Again.

1:19am
Ray Allen takes three and half steps before getting fouled at the rim. The new crackdown on travelling has officially lasted two and a half quarters.

1:29am
Lebron’s heating up now. Gets his fourth block, drains a three then earns an and1 taking it to the hoop. 72-65 Celtics after three quarters.

1:34am
Roadhouse Blues by The Doors. Good work, TNT.

1:42am
Cavs go to their Twin Towers line-up: Shaq and Big Z. 80-71 Celtics.

1:44am
Wizards 10 points up on the Mavs after scoring on 8 straight possessions.

1:52am
Garnett runs the floor, rises up and, erm, blows the dunk. No Boston field goals for almost four minutes. Cavs within five.

1:59am
Just as it seems neither team will ever score again, LBJ ends the collective brick-fest with a glorious three pointer to cu the lead to four. Celtics cold as the worst possible time.

2:03am
With 3:42 left in the game, Shaq gets to the line for the first time. Is this some sort of record?

2:08am
Pierce drains a jumper with 1:08 left – Celts lead by six. Seconds earlier, Rondo performed heroics on the offensive boards but failed to convert.

2:10am
Great replay of Celts GM Danny Ainge calling for the hack-a-Shaq in the final minutes. He is greyer than Desert Orchid.

2:14am
Dagger from Paul Pierce. He did nothing all second half then made two crucial shots in the final minute. Ain’t that The Truth.

2:18am
After a free throw fest in the final seconds, Celtics close out for a 95-89 win. Lebron had 38 but it wasn’t enough. Celts record their first win in Cleveland since 2004. Hold tight for the Lakers ring presentation.

2:25am
Class move from the Lakers. Bringing back legends of the past for the ring ceremony. West, Worthy, Nixon, AC Green and Magic. Big Jack seems to approve.

2.30am
Special congratulations to Marko the Lakers massage therapist. That’s worth a ring is it, mate?

2:32am
Someone should take Adam Morrison’s ring away. It’s not deserved.

2:36am
It’s very rare to see Kobe this happy. He looks in his element, almost bursting with pride.

2:41am
It must kill Charles Barkley to watch Adam Morrison pick up a championship ring.

2:44am
Will the Clippers gatecrash the Lakers’ party or just make up the numbers? I’m leaning towards the latter owing to Mike Dunleavy’s unparalleled ability to demotivate players in any given situation.

2:51am
Blake Griffin in street clothes for six weeks. Will the curse of the Clippers ever cease?

02:56am
Kobe completes an and1 and a sweet fadeaway to hear MVP chants two minutes into the season. I’m guessing that is some sort of record.

2:59am
Ron Artest is sporting a Lakers ‘L’ and other intricate designs on his head. Aside from being called for a soft offensive foul and putting up a rather desperate finger roll, it’s been a quiet start for Ron Ron.

3:06am
Wizards complete a convincing 102-91 win over the Mavericks while Portland are cruising against Houston, leading 46-32 in the second quarter. Andre Miller has stopped sulking long enough to record five assists.

3:08am
Who dresses Craig Sager? Stevie Wonder?

3:22am
Nine turnovers for the Clippers in the first quarter. Great way to start the season. Lakers lead 32-22 after one without really breaking sweat.

3:40am
I’m starting to struggle now – been awake for 22 hours, Anyway, with the Laker starters taking a breather, the Clippers cut the lead to three with an 11-1 run. Kobe’s back on the court unsurprisingly.

3:44am
Another Clippers turnover. Dunleavy squints his disapproval.

3:59am
A last second Bynum bucket makes it 59-49 Lakers at half time.

4:49am
One point game after three quarters. 76-75 Lakers.

5:15am
An 18-6 runs puts away the Clippers. Solid efforts from Kobe and Odom, Final score Lakers 99, Clippers 92. Time for bed. Goodnight all.

1 Comment

Filed under Basketball, nba, Season on the sofa

An NBA season on the sofa: preview

What do you do when you live 3,500 miles away from the action in your favourite sport? You purchase the NBA’s International League Pass Broadband and steel yourself for six months of not getting enough sleep and wandering around at work looking and feeling like a zombie. I know this to be true because I did it for the whole of last season. This time around, though, I’m going to write about it.

Firstly, cards on the table. I’m a New York Knicks fan with additional rooting interest in the Golden State Warriors. While it may seem these choices are the basketball equivalent of crossing a busy road blindfolded or sticking your face your face in a fan, they represent a fundamental truth in sport. I’m from England and we like football (soccer). Over here, you’re born into supporting your team. There’s no room, at least among proper sports fans, for glory hunting. The Knicks and the Warriors are the teams I’ve been (un)lucky enough to see live multiple times on my trips to the States so they are the teams I support. I know they suck. You don’t need to tell me.

The Sports Bloke’s season on the sofa will focus primarily on the Knicks (and my own steadily increasing levels of sleep deprivation) as I stay up past 3am to watch them struggle through all 82 games. There’ll also be stuff relating to the ongoing circus of insanity that is unique to the NBA. How much damage can Ron Artest do in one season in Los Angeles? How few assists will Memphis manage thanks to their growing plethora of toxic ballhogs? Will anyone match the sheer oddness of Drew Gooden’s facial hair? If Dirk Nowitzki cuts off his brand new Samson-esque locks, will he lose all of his strength?

Don’t be taking any of my musings too seriously. There’s more than enough proper writers and stat heads closer to the action without me having to weigh in from half a world away. This is not about serious analysis, it’s about the rollercoaster ride of supporting a sub-standard team from across the Atlantic and hoping against hope that, after almost a decade in the doldrums, they give people something to cheer about.

See you tomorrow for opening night!

1 Comment

Filed under Basketball, nba, Season on the sofa