Sabado, Hulyo 6, 2013

Winners and Losers of the Dwight Saga

The drama that Dwight Howard brought in this offseason transpires into his dramatic unison with the Houston Rockets. I don't know if it has something to do with Yao Ming's skype account or James Harden's pizza rolls, but the Rockets somehow convinced Dwight that playing in Houston is a whole lot better than 4 other suiting cities.

Now as the Dwight-light Saga reached it's end, let me try to sum it up with my own list of winners and losers of the biggest signing this offseason.


Houston Rockets

In general, any team who needs a legitimate center and landed the best center in the league today is a winner. With James Harden suddenly finding a partner in superman, the Rockets move on from the Tracy McGrady era, which is a million years ago, to this duo looking to bring the Rockets back to title contention. Let's fast forward to the season and see if things transpire to what we all expect it to be.

Dwight Howard

Thank God Chris Paul decides to end his free agency early, or we might just be going crazy over two undecided stars. Well, indecision stopped this morning when Dwight Howard chose the Houston Rockets. 

Howard is now $88 million richer through 4 years with his new contract with the Rockets. Aside from that, he is given the chance to star for another team which is still raising stars. That is where he wanted to be in the first place. He is an egoistic big man who wants to win a championship without giving away his "star" role. Now he's got that chance and better grab and make the most out of it if he doesn't want to feel the sting LeBron James felt in 2011. After all, he said he doesn't want to do things like LeBron. Hohoho Dwight, well said, no really, we believe you, we truly believe you. Duh.

Anyway, I just hope Dwight gets back the love he lost much like LeBron James did. But it's gonna get rocky from here. One knows that winning a championship while posting solid numbers is the only way he could do it. 

Or if he refuses to do things like LeBron, let's just wait for December 15 and his trade demand. 

Golden State Warriors

Golden State had been solid suitors for Dwight through the last 48 hours since he announced his decision. They even offered the Lakers Andrew Bogut, budding stars Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes for Howard in a sign and trade. Thank goodness that deal didn't even reach a paper

Instead, being wise and all, Warriors GM Bob Myers shed cap through trading the contracts of Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, and Kareem Rush to the Utah Jazz. It's really shocking that Richard Jefferson is still in the NBA. The resulting acquisition makes Golden State winners. His name is Andre Iguodala. Iguodala.

Josh Smith

I wanted to include Josh Smith because after Dwight Howard was employed by his team, Smith now turns to be the biggest option in the market. Let him feel his importance guys, I suggest make him his own saga. 

With guys like Tyreke Evans completing deals somewhere, Smith could only be the remaining "star" in this draft without a team, and it just goes exciting for him from there. 

If rumors are true about Houston's interest on Atlanta's free agent forward, and if a deal gets done, NASA should be letting those spacecrafts fly letting the alien worlds know that their about to land 3rd seed in the Western Conference.  


Los Angeles Lakers

C'mon LA fans, that's enough. The franchise is the epitome of pride in the league. We get it. We know how many titles the Lakers have already won. We know how many stars the roster have. We know that the Lakers will always be superior to the Clippers. We know Kobe Bryant and his ability to lift his team. Alright, the Lakers is one of the best, if not the best, team in the history of the NBA. That is long proven. 

But c'mon, we've got a situation here. The Lakers just lost the best big man in the league. It's true that he's got issues with attitude or with how he fits with Mike D'Antoni's system -- if there's any --, but he still is Dwight Howard. Kobe himself told that he's one of a kind and you just can't simply pluck him from trees.

Robert Sacre is a living proof that the Lakers are in the negative side of the equation. If the season is to start tomorrow, he'll be their starting center. With the fact that Earl Clarke leaves for Cleveland, and Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, and maybe even Kobe himself, dance in the twilights of their careers, the Lakers failing to re-sign Howard is a total loss for the team.  

But with enough time and a whole bunch of free agents still available, the Lakers could use Dwight's abandoned cap to sign significant players. Josh Smith maybe, Mitch Kupchack? Or why not bring back Andrew Bynum? I'm kidding, please. And if management is wise enough, they could also bring in a new head coach to lead the Lakers. Uhh does anyone from the front office know someone named Earvin "Magic" Johnson? They might want to try something never tried before. 

The Lakers revolves around winning and they surely will. But this season around, I don't think they'll bully the Clippers in paying their rent on time. One positive about this offseason is that Metta World Peace is still a Laker! That's just for fun of course.

Dallas Mavericks

I am a long time fan of the Dallas Mavericks. They were the champions that never were, the legendary team that everyone tends to underestimate, they are forces in the West, and are one time world champions! 

But sadly, I need to speak like it's 2013. The Mavs suck.

Donnie Nelson tried to create cap as huge as possible for them to land either Chris Paul or Dwight Howard and other pieces necessary to bring Dirk Nowitzki his second ring. Plans were good looking, and they even tried to woo the Boston Celtics into trading Rajon Rondo to them for a bunch of Mavs players. I know everyone's aware that in real life, unplanned events are always the best. The Mavs refused to believe it, and the results were awful at least for now.

The Mavs hurt themselves by shredding too much contracts just to acquire a toptier guy. It's as if they never learned from what Deron Williams did to them last summer. They let go of OJ Mayo and Darren Collison, missed on a potential blockbuster to acquire Rajon Rondo, missed Chris Paul, and missed Dwight Howard. Their cap is huge though so they used $29 million of that to sign Jose Calderon. Seriously? I'm still heartbroken.

But Mark Cuban stays positive and told that it was time for them to move to "Plan B". I hope this time it works, and I hope Jose Calderon would bring in Jason Kidd's lucky charm. The Mavs have a weird obsession on old point guards. 

Al Jefferson

I really wanted to include Big Al on this because of his impatience. In an official interview with Yahoo! Sports, Jefferson expressed desire to play for the Mavericks if they were unable to load Dwight Howard. A few minutes later, he signed with the Charlotte Bobcats.

True that he can star with the Bobcats, but the missed chance of him playing alongside Dirk Nowitzki and helping the Mavs improve their interior brings him in the dark side of this list. If only he waited for a little more time like what Andre Iguodala did with the Sacramento Kings, he could have won something in the offseason, and the Mavs' "Plan B" would have worked.  

Last thought, please Dwight Howard, ditch the headband. Please.


Miyerkules, Hulyo 3, 2013

Chris Paul's Decision to Stay in Hollywood is 'Beautiful'

I like what Chris Paul did this offseason. 

He put much pressure on the Clippers management to get him a new coach. He played well with the circumstances and blurted out what he wanted. The Clips did so what he wanted them to do and placed Doc Rivers on the empty coach's couch. As a result, Paul resigned with the LA Clippers and is now $107 million richer and was guaranteed 5 years of being on the employment line. Duh. As if he'll not make any noise come 2018. 

But what is beautiful about Chris Paul resigning with his team is that he didn't put much drama on his free agency. He played fair. It's a good and healthy talked "Give me what I want and I'll give you what you want" situation. 

This is far different from what a certain center did to Orlando a year ago who still didn't fixed a long term deal to the city who loved him, despite the management complying to all of his tantrums. And yet, the world looks at LeBron James as the epitome of arrogance. Mad world.

But whatever is happening around him and around the league, Chris Paul will surely receive tremendous amount of love from Los Angeles as he should.

The 2013 All-Star Game MVP will be in charge of leading the emerging LA team to a deeper push in the post season. Let's not talk about the regular season anymore because I'm sure as hell that the Clippers are going to sit at the Western Conference's 3rd to 4th place come April 2014.

With fellow All-Star Blake Griffin, acquired shooters JJ Redick and Jared Dudley, and strong back up from the other guys, Chris Paul's time bomb may have been more than ready to explode. I am just hoping that DeAndre Jordan would be dealt with a high benefit player, or would not be dealt at all. Add defensive flavor through Doc Rivers and the Clips are contenders. Actually, even if Mikki Moore coaches them, they'll still be contenders. 


Linggo, Hunyo 30, 2013

Reports: Knicks, Raptors Agree to Bargnani Trade

Sources say the New York Knicks have agreed to a deal with the Toronto Raptors that is yet to be approved by the league.

The Raptors would send forward Andrea Barganani to the Big Apple for big man Marcus Camby, sharp shooter Steve Novak and a 2016 first round pick, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

Bargnani, who was drafted first overall in 2006, was a primary example of a high risk, high benefit player. Known to have the size of a center with touch from the perimeter, Bargnani stuck to the high risk part. Toronto hasn't struggled that much with him but weren't that successful also. The Italian power forward averaged 12.7 points, and 3.7 rebounds in almost 30 minutes of action the past season, and hasn't improved much from the post. He's got a very hot girlfriend though.

New York letting go of Camby and Novak wouldn't post too much concerns for the Knicks. One is waiting to be mummified caused by injuries, and the other one seems to be unfamiliar with the term "2 points" and is just too one-dimensional.

This trade, though still un-inked by the NBA superiors, are just one of the continuing blockbusters that are yet to unfold. With free agency shopping beginning tomorrow (July 1), we wouldn't expect a 2013 Trade Deadline drama this week. It's all gonna be wrecked, chaotic, and huge for the league and it's future.


Sabado, Hunyo 29, 2013

NBA Trade Rumors: Dallas Mavericks aim at Rajon Rondo

This is something serious, as a Dallas fan.

Right after completing a blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets, the Boston Celtics, reportedly, are back playing on the trading block, this time with the Dallas Mavericks.

Reports say that the Mavs are aiming directly at Boston's core, in pursuit of acquiring Celtics star point guard Rajon Rondo.

NBA sources with knowledge of the situation cleared that Dallas' mission to sign the All-Star  has something to do primarily with their aim at landing Dwight Howard. 

With the most prized center hitting free agency tomorrow (July 1), the inclusion of Rondo in the Mavs' roster strengthen their chances at hitting that aim. 

Dallas did its best to go down as low as possible in the recent draft in order to preserve a huge salary cap which now stands at 44.3 million solely on players' contracts.That includes qualifying offers to Rodrigue Beaubois, Darren Collison, and the 9.3 million that Shawn Marion gets if he decides to pick up his player option. Rookies Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo wouldn't affect the numbers that much.

This means that the Mavs have the monetary weapons to sign Rondo and Howard together, and could even take and pay a few more contracts from the Celtics if the deal would be completed.

So far, the trading board is still empty and no package has been announced yet.


That is all I can say if this vision of Mark Cuban solidifies. A triple punch of Rondo, Dirk Nowitzki, and Howard could be deadly and would make an immediate impact on the league. Rondo is the second best pass-first point guard in the NBA right now and would be top sans Chris Paul. That makes screen rolls and pops with Nowitzki severely deadly for the other teams, with Dwight Howard manning the paint.

Given that Mark Cuban pushes the other buttons correctly, Dallas should make a huge return in the postseason and may dominate a few series before battling it out in the finale. The Mavs aren't settling for less and they want another championship with Nowitzki at their core. At 34 years old, Nowitzki could settle for one more ring as Dallas' standout... or two if he decides to play beyond 35.

Whatever is in store for the Mavs, or whatever comes out of their pursuit to land not one, but two franchise players, the NBA offseason will be one hell of a ride --and headache-- for the GM's. They sure are earning whatever they have in their pockets right now.  



Biyernes, Hunyo 28, 2013

Winners and Losers of Draft Day

The NBA Finals that has transpired was one for the ages. Miami won. Until now I couldn't speak my mind on how to describe that series. So let's leave it hanging in there. 

2013 NBA Draft. For months leading to this event, one thing has been predictable, draft night is going to be unpredictable. That happens when no one in the class deserves to be picked first. Don't get me wrong on that, no one specifically deserves to be drafted first. Let's just say 35 of them could go number one. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic even tried to trade their first and second picks respectively. That is how talented this draft class is -- well uhm yeah.


1. Anthony Bennett

In any given draft night, the first overall pick will always be a winner. There is no way he's gonna lose something or complain of anything. He's drafted first, be able to sign a million-dollar contract, stigmatized as a franchise player, I mean, what more can he ask for?

But one person can surely establish Anthony Bennett, the highest Canadian draftee of all time, as a winner, Kyrie Irving. Bennett will be able to play with the talented, young superstar. Two first overall picks in a matter of three years is like playing on dynasty mode in video games. That doesn't come easy. So Bennett is truly blessed to be able to brofist Irving, an established talent that he should help in order to bring the Cavaliers back into the playoffs.   

So to those who are calling Kwame Brown a loser, enlighten your minds and think of the night he was drafted. He, too, became a winner for a night.

2. Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns have the most awesome throwback jerseys in the league. That scheme of orange and dominant black is just so pleasingly great. Well, only their record isn't, and a little bit of their roster. The Suns, believe it or not, was left to pick up Alex Len from Maryland. Alex Len from Maryland, the most NBA ready among those bunch of buds. Whatever the 2nd to the 4th team were thinking-- special shoutout to the Charlotte Bobcats-- when they didn't take him don't really matter. The Suns were left wide open for a long, long shot, something that even Jeff Hornacek enjoyed doing. 

With the Suns continuously rebuilding, Len could provide their needed fuel in their interior. The big man has long arms and is a versatile defensive player. He may not be an impact player this coming season, but give him two years and he surely can stand blow by blow in the paint.

3. New Orleans Pelicans

Just when Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel seemed to form a scary, long, and injured interior, the Pelicans decided it wasn't a pretty sight and traded their sixth overall pick. That was supposed to be crazy for New Orleans if they picked up a nobody. But the Pelicans sure did a great home run swing at this one, and landed a somebody. His name is Jrue Holiday. Whatever the Sixers smoked that made them agree to that deal was kept anonymous for the entire night. That was extremely crazy.

Anyway, what's done is done and nobody could pull Holiday back to Philadelphia anymore. The All-Star guard will be wearing that dope Pelican scheme for next season while trying to help his new team reach the playoffs post Chris Paul era. Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel. Crazy.

4. Orlando Magic and Victor Oladipo

I'd like to commend the Orlando Magic for staying on their feet at this one. With the Cavs surprising everyone with their first selection, the Magic wasn't that starstrucked with other projected first picks. Rather, they stuck with their scouting reports and game plan and selected Indiana's Victor Oladipo. A versatile shooting guard, Oladipo can score and distribute the ball. He's got crazy handles and is a defensive minded player. 

The Orlando Magic could have plucked a diamond on this one. With enough minutes, Oladipo could transform the magic into a scoring team. With rebuilding issues surrounding Orlando, Oladipo could be a vital piece of their future. Any team on the state of rebuilding needs a cornerstone. Victor Oladipo could be the foundation for this Magic team.

5. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs accomplished their mission of going low as much as possible. They traded their 13th pick to Boston's 16th then traded again to Atlanta's 18th. For mediocre NBA fans, that is something unacceptable in the draft. But selecting players is not the Mavs' priority here.

Sometimes less is more. Dallas stuck to that. They selected less and low but they were able to increase their cap in preparation for the free agency market opening on July 1. Mark Cuban doesn't need Kelly Olynyx or Shabazz Muhammad to go alongside Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavs want Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Andre Igoudala, or other bigtime names they could pluck this offseason. That means that Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo need to prpare for their wild trading block ride.

6. Commissioner David Stern

In his last draft event, David Stern was rained with boos from hating crowd. That doesn't stop him from delivering the draft lightly. He would often gesture to the crowd that their booing isn't enough. Right before announcing the Wizards' draft pick, Stern went "I can't hear you" to the  booing audience. Nice kick, commish.

7. Lucas Nogueira, his hair, and his hat

Tensions fade when the Brazilian center got selected. Catch videos and you'll know why. It has something to do with his hair and his hat. The rookie became an instant sensation.


1. Nerlens Noel

For months leading into the draft, Kentucky's Nerlens Noel was projected as the top overall pick. That is until the Cavaliers announced that they are selecting a Canadian big boy who seemed to have trouble controlling his Krispy Kreme addiction. The look of shock and altered ego flashed on Noel's face but he remained hopeful to go on stage soon. The Magic, Wizards, Bobcats, and Suns have made their picks. No Nerlens Noel.

That is right. The New Orleans Pelicans selected Noel 6th overall. He doesn't even seem to know that it was the Hornets a year ago. For a while, the Pelicans seemed to conceive a twin tower combo with Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel. That might work pretty well. Talk about Kentucky Wildcats, shot blockers, long people, and troubled knees. Noel could easily be Davis' twin off the bench. But the Pelicans swung for a home run. Unfortunately for Noel, that swing included trading him.

2. Philadelphia 76ers

Nerlens Noel was traded to the Sixers for All Star guard Jrue Holiday. Whether the Sixers are drugged or weren't in their proper state of mind when the deal was signed remains a mystery. A thing is for sure, the deal was done.

With the remaining tank of talent contained on Holiday's body traded, the Sixers are left with little to rebuild on. The rookie won't be able to play until December and Andrew Bynum might leave this offseason. Was he even present in the regular season anyway? With Holiday exiting the domains of being a Sixer, Philadelphia will have to do good in order to live up to the expectations.

That is why they drafted Michael Carter-Williams 11th overall. Sure he can fill Holiday's All-Star shoes. See the sarcasm in there? Philadelphia has been insane. At least at draft night.

3. Detroit Pistons

The Pistons needed a point guard. Brandon Knight is more comfortable at 2 and Rodney Stuckey is more comfortable at playing as a scoring point. Will Bynum hasn't been an offensive haymaker. So basically, they needed a real point guard. They selected Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Yeah he is a point guard playing for Kentucky. But that doesn't make them winners. You see, if someone like Trey Burke is still available and your team needed a point guard and then you go on and drafted another guy? You certainly did hit the wrong button.

Draft Night's Buzzmaker.

The heading is not appropriate because the night's biggest surprise is not on the draft itself. The Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets have agreed to a trade. This is pretty massive. The Celtics send Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry to the Nets for Gerald Wallace, Chris HumphriesTornike Shengeila, Reggie Evans, Keith Bogans and a bunch of college kids in the future. Let us take time to let that sink in our brain cells.

The Celtics are approching its rebuilding phase. Though painful for Celtics faithfuls, the rebuilding includes parting ways with all time Boston Celtics Paul Pierce. The C's saved money on that considering that Pierce, who passed his prime already, will be worth 15 million next season and that the franchise would have to pay him 5 million if they buy it for him to be a free agent. The trade was ideal monetary wise.

Boston's decision to trade these marquee players is a part of their future plans. With Rajon Rondo now the face of the Celtics, Danny Ainge and company would love to surround him with appropriate talent in order to be contenders again. That doesn't come easy. The Celtics selected to do it one step at a time.

Brooklyn, on the other hand, needs to win it all right now. The talents they acquired are for real, but at the same time, are racing against the sand-clock. Pierce and Garnett wouldn't be able to play with their monstrous selves in a year or two. The trade the Nets made is appropriate for winning a championship as early as next season. It's now or never. Players wise, the Nets are contenders. The regular season will test if Jason Kidd would be the first successful franchise player turned coach in so many years.  


Martes, Mayo 14, 2013

PBA Finals: 5 Keys for the Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel

After fighting back from a twice to beat disadvantage in the quarterfinals and storming their way through a breath taking semifinal series, the Barangay is back in the finals.

Much to the delight of the millions and millions of their fans, the people's champion team proved their possession of the "never say die" heart acquired from history. After starting the Commissioner's Cup with a 0-4 slate, losing Mark Caguioa to MCL injury, and ending the eliminations on a low note, the most popular team in the nation survived hell and is back for a chance to grab another championship.

Standing on their way is the rejuvenated Alaska Aces, who are back to being bullies after topping the eliminations and dispatching the Air21 Express and San Mig Coffee Mixers in a matter of 5 games.

Coming into the finals as the underdogs, the 7th seed Barangay Ginebra San Miguel looks to live by their tradition of disposing giants en rout to a title.

How would they do it? Here are 5 keys:

1. Add sides to the triangle

Adding sides means reshaping the triangle. To make it simple, disrupt the polygon. In order to kill a giant tree, one must destroy the roots. Coach Luigi Trillo reinjected the Triangle in Alaska's system as soon as he was named head coach. The results were pretty clear. In order to beat this team, Ginebra must focus on destroying the Triangle offense by putting annoying perimeter defenders between the passing lanes to disrupt the Aces' spacing. Three of Ginebra's starters are capable of providing the needed mantle in the lane. 

LA Tenorio leads the league in steals among locals with 2.143 swipes per ballgame. When Tenorio is in the perimeter, you know no dribbler is safe. Mac Baracael is lean and tough and has quick hands against a dribble. Chris Ellis is not a starter for nothing. The reigning PBA slam dunk king makes a living on hussle. He's long and tough and can guard smaller players because of his speed. Ellis doesn't provide huge numbers but it's his work ethic that makes him a true factor in this series. Aside from these three, Coach Alfrancis Chua could use Rico Maierhoffer off the bench for triangle bending and rebounding purposes. If the Barangay succeed on this in the best of 5 final series, the field goal percentage of the Aces will surely drop, one thing that weakens the Gatas Republik.    

2. Put a body- a Hatfield body- on Calvin Abueva

The Aces don't win games with effective Triangle alone. Sometimes, in fact, a lot of times, they play out of the system and just utilize rugged basketball. And when a team has someone named Calvin Abueva, this shouldn't be a problem. The second overall pick of the last draft tops nothing stats-wise but his 11.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per game are so much in effect whenever he delivers goods for his team. No those aren't just numbers. These come with factors that can't be read on paper. His energy and toughness is the Aces' main difference maker. No one could forget how he lifted Alaska back from being down 15 in their Game 3 semifinal showdown with the crowd darling SanMig Coffee Mixers. As long as Abueva beasts himself on the hardwood, Ginebra's path to a championship won't be so clear. 

Putting a body on Calvin and being honestly physical with him might solve this. If you look at Ginebra's line-up, Rudy Hatfield might be the best choice of covering the beast. He isn't the same explosive H-Bomb we saw alongside Eric Menk years ago but he makes a living by being physical and grabbing tremendous amounts of boards. Abueva is younger and a lot more tougher right now but Hatfield's experience could be the difference. Abueva has the tendency to pick up fouls when going up against physical defenders. Taming the beast can not be easily done, but minimizing his minutes might as well do the job.

Alfrancis Chua could always tap Willie Wilson if in case the H-Bomb got diffused.

3. Pull Dozier out off the shaded lane.

Robert Dozier is the last import standing from the original list of reinforcements who suited up for the Commissioner's Cup. He's unchanged for a reason. The former Memphis Tigers stalwart leads the PBA in rebounding and blocked shots with 16.2 boards and 2.7 rejections per contest. With those numbers alone, we could say that this mammoth lives in the paint. And if he dominates the inside in this series, Ginebra's chances may slim down to a hairline. 

Coach Chua could pull Dozier out of the shaded area through a couple of ways. First off is putting Vernon Macklin in front of Dozier. He just have to make sure that he stays on his feet because the opposition is a lot quicker and can hit a jumper. Macklin is huge and would cover a tremendous amount of space whenever Dozier has the ball. Macklin would have to play physical defense on Dozier to make him hit bricks. Ginebra then would have to focus on rebounding as a team.

Ginebra has players that could and must penetrate the lane. I'm talking about LA Tenorio and Chris Ellis. The draw in play could serve as a decoy to free up the perimeter and avoid Dozier's blocks in the paint, and the draw out could give points for their offense. Chua could utilize this given that Ginebra has decent shooters on their roster. 

4. Continue riding the time machine

Mark Caguioa's fall to injury was a huge slap on Ginebra's play. Not only that the flow of scoring was clogged, the sources are unidentified. 

This was until the start of the playoffs. Ginebra sent Rain or Shine home with stellar performance from Kerby Raymundo who got a sip from the fountain of youth. The past semifinals then saw the resurgence of the Fast, Jayjay Helterbrand. 

Raymundo and Helterbrand are two of the team's seniors and are two of the most effective cards on their deck. For the first time since Caguioa rested off his legs, scoring options has been distributed fairly. The addition of the Fireball Josh Urbiztondo also extended Ginebra's range on perimeter play.

But the necessary piece would be Helterbrand. His ability to score the basketball from anywhere on the court would be a sting on Alaska's defense. He would be a huge card to come off the bench and provide scoring while starters are out. Helterbrand might already passed his prime but the former MVP could still pull the trigger and score 18 points on a nightly basis, given that his team continue to do each of their jobs well.

5. Get the crowd involved

This needs no explanation at all. Playing the Ginebra way always means making the crowd their sixth men on the floor. If Ginebra wants to win this final series, they must play the Ginebra way. Full of energy and inspiration.

I support the Alaska Aces on this Finals >:)

Sabado, Marso 16, 2013

Who, If Anyone, Can Stop the Miami Heat Winning Streak?

Before anything else, I would like to re freshen everyone's memory about the last game the Miami Heat lost. It was February 1st at Indiana, 102-89. 

Many of us aren't even sure that happened. 

More than a month after, that bitter memory was piled under stacks of wins. 21 wins to be exact. After the defending NBA champions experienced that embarrassing defeat before a sold out Bankers Life Fieldhouse, LeBron James' troop seemed to forget how it was to lose a game.

The winning streak started at Toronto and had traveled today at Milwaukee. That's a lot of miles. Long, long miles. Long, long winning streak. And to note, the Miami Heat are one win away from tying the 07-08 Houston Rockets for the second place of the longest running winning streak in the history of the NBA.

And if we look at the immediate horizon, with Toronto waiting to give a shot at ending this winning craze, the Heat might as well extend it to 22. And if they survive Boston on March 18th, life would get lighter with games against Cleveland, Charlotte, Detroit, and Orlando.

But aside from these piles of wins that these monsters are getting, what catches my attention is that the Heat are becoming more scary with each win that they pluck. This team is creepy individually and would only get horrifying once they work together and put their efforts in playing their individual roles. Now that Mario Chalmers has been stepping it up a bit, Coach Spoelstra's army is turning Nazi-nasty in picking up those wins.

They say good things come to an end. But with 18 games left to play in the Heat's schedule before playoffs, one must wonder if this good winning streak would even come to an end, well, in terms of regular season games. 

The answer lies on which team is proud enough to humble these surging bullies. Here are the candidates:

Boston Celtics

When Paul Pierce said that he wasn't impressed with the Heat's current success, team captain Dwyane Wade retaliates. That moment, the clash, as we know it, just got real. That's what makes Boston a contender in ending the streak. The bean town mafia are men of their words. They are a playoff team who, despite losing star Rajon Rondo to ACL tear, still made ways to remain a threat in the off balanced Eastern Conference standings. Miami faces Boston two more times before storming the playoffs. And with their season series tied at 1-1 with victories at each's house, things are gonna get interesting. It is true that Miami have a better paper line up but there is something about the greens that just makes the Heat stand back a bit. Their first clash from this moment would be Monday, March 18th. As I said earlier, if Miami survives that encounter, their winning streak could extend for a few more games.

Chicago Bulls

This would be an easy choice if the Heat are boasting their 10-11 line up which rotates in the middle with Joel Anthony. But this Heat team wasn't the old Miami team that went short in the Finals. This team, as we all know it, are the defending NBA Champions and that is where their hearts are at this moment. Chicago, meanwhile, carry ups and downs under their belts in terms of season progression. Without their franchise star Derrick Rose, the Bulls were a little bit inconsistent but doesn't fail to be in the top 8. That is what makes this team dangerous for the Heat streak. Their ability to adjust and focus on their defense would be a big part, if in case they want to put an end to one of the craziest things this Miami team has done. Joakim Noah stepping it up with Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer in the Middle would be their key when they face Miami on March 27. Expect a little more energy from Nate Robinson. They wouldn't be able to stop LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on this one, but when they have the rest of the guys under their Tom Thibodeau inspired defense, everything could be a possibility, including slapping Miami with a loss.

New York Knicks

If there is a team who posts immediate danger, it would be the Knicks. They blew the Heat out in their first two meetings which makes them solid contenders for this one. Carmelo Anthony might be dealing with knee issues when this two squads collide, but that wouldn't be a problem if New York gets solid numbers and defense from Tyson Chandler. He keeps this team breathing. Chandler, I can say, is this team's ace player at the moment. He serves as their oxygen tank for life, while JR Smith serves as their battery. This dynamic duo would be responsible for defensive and offensive flows when they meet Miami on April 2. There is a very long stretch before they lock it up at AAA. That seems to be enough to allow Carmelo and Amare Stoudemire to deal with their health issues. Once the Knickerbockers are healthy, Miami could be on immediate stress.  If the Heat care much about keeping the streak breathing, they might as well prepare to diffuse the bombs from the Knicks early in the first quarter.

San Antonio Spurs

If one meets the Spurs in a stretch of games, expect them to be serious threats. They have the second best record in the league right now and they would be much happy to dethrone who else but the Heat for the top place. That matters for home court advantage going into the playoffs, specifically, the Finals. ESPN and hasn't been talking about the Spurs that much. That is how they wanted to be treated. One says that they are old and too slow to deal with this energetic Heat team, but those are all conspiracies in the league. If so, they should have been sitting there with Dallas at 9th or 10th. But they emerged strong and still. The trinity of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili hasn't been that effective lately but there are lots of combinations that coach Greg Popovich can use. He is the master of that. If he puts DeJuan Blair infront of LeBron, that could be it.

But the Heat, as we know them, won't go out without a fight. This winning streak proves a lot in terms of how good they are as a team. If Toronto doesn't retaliate this Monday and allow the Heat to dominate, the energy and momentum could be unstoppable  when they reach the last 10 games of their season. And you know what, the 1971-1972 LA Lakers are waiting on the line. Should the Heat continue winning until their last game, they would dethrone the 33 game winning streak of that Lakers team, the best in history. And why not? They have the star power to do that.

But I believe very well that this Heat team wouldn't even be wary about who will beat them first, they just focus on one game at a time and let their games speak for them. In the end, a championship wouldn't be decided on which winning streak lasts the longest. The Denver Nuggets wouldn't win the chip just because they have 11 no loss record. That's not how the league goes. Surprises arise. But if Miami wins the championship this year, that wouldn't surprise me at all.


Biyernes, Marso 8, 2013

Where the Lakers-Jazz Chase Stands Right Now

Let's just say that Houston has been a little clingy with the 7th spot in the West right now, which is pretty good for James Harden and the rest of the boys. With that, speaking short term, the huge target set by this unbelievable rage of the Lakers is solely embedded on Utah Jazz's back.

Utah seemed poise to beat Chicago earlier when they take the lead 88-86 with less than a minute in a tightly contested ball game. But the Jazz can't hold long when Chicago's offensive rebounding sparked a Belinelli three-pointer. Bulls win 89-88.

With that loss, Utah is at 32-30 (.516). 

Right after that Chicago slugfest, the LA Lakers lock horns with the Toronto Raptors in a game that could be dubbed as "The Battle of the Ninth Placers". The difference between the two is that LA is at .500 and Toronto is way way down that percentage.

The Lakers, with Kobe Bryant being his usual self, climbed up to edge the visitors in a dramatic comeback, winning it in overtime. 

That Utah loss and this LA win would not make any implications in the standings just yet, let's say, for tonight. But its aftermath would be felt as soon as Utah and the Lakers march into their next games.

With the win, the Lakers tie Utah's W's at 32 each but is a game behind with 31 losses. Still, a win is a win, and in the case of the Lakers, it's a big one. In short, the win vs Toronto does not automatically propel LA into 8th place but this is a needed win. THAT was a must win. Why? Because of their next opponent.

LA faces Chicago days from now. That wouldn't be easy given that the Bulls are still the dark horses of the East despite playing the season without Derrick Rose. And the win against Toronto would decrease the pressure graved on the Lakers going into that game.

Speaking of pressure, Utah has lots of it. Not only that they lost earlier and their predators in LA are smelling their tails, but with their next game as well.

Utah faces New York in a slug fest that could allow the Lakers to penetrate the playoffs scene. I mean, this Knicks team, despite losing Carmelo Anthony to knee issues and dropping the game against OKC yesterday, is a bully. They are a powerhouse to say the least. And if you're the Utah Jazz, you can never be calmed until you beat them or until Chicago beat LA.

Take a look on how the picture goes from here.

-If LA wins against Chicago and Utah lose to New York, the Lakers are in the playoff picture.
-If Utah wins against New York and LA lose to Chicago, the Jazz keep their grip of the 8th and the Lakers would be bugged by the Portland Trailblazers, who are trying to catch up with LA.
-If both Utah and LA win or drop their respective games, implications shift automatically to their next games against Detroit and Orlando respectively.

Finally, I can say that the next games for these two teams, who are battling it out to be a part of April's big dance, would be a perfect test on who deserves a spot. With too much at stake against stronger opposition, a win would solidify their worth as a playoff team. That actually makes sense.

Linggo, Marso 3, 2013

Fatal Four Way: Warriors vs Jazz vs Rockets vs Lakers

With the Los Angeles Lakers showing signs of life, the battle at the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association intensifies, especially at the middle.

Struggling to climb up the ranks with their first 40 games, the inspired play of the Lakers, who lost well-loved owner Jerry Buss last February to cancer, helped them reach the .500 mark after having played 60 matches. The gold and purple squad are now standing at 9th place in the West, and continues to climb up the ranks with the way they are playing right now.

After sending the Atlanta Hawks back to their nests with a 99-98 victory last March 3, the Lakers are posting serious threat to the Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz, and Houston Rockets, who are boxing each other out at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff seeding. With the Lakers finally joining the fray, these three teams may lose grip of their present position at the moment in a matter of two or three games.

With the Lakers seemingly clicking on all cylinders now, the three teams above them may have acquired the curse that LA had at the beginning of the season. But strong as they are, these teams will surely box for their places. How would they exorcise the curse? Let's find out.

Golden State Warriors (33-27) (.550)

Currently at 6th place in the chaotic West standings, the Warriors are currently buried in questions after losing 4 games straight prior to hosting the Toronto Raptors this March 4. Stephen Curry had one of the most memorable Madison Square Garden performances when he dropped 54 on 11 of 13 shooting from trey in a loss to the Knicks. Curry, being on the brightest spot in their rotation as of now, would be the Warriors' antidote to the four game losing streak. With All-Star David Lee not in his usual self after being suspended for a game after his altercation with Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert, Curry would need to spice things up for his team if they want to tighten their grasp of the fifth place. In addition to that, a superb bench contribution would be a positive, led by second unit floor leader Jarrett Jack. With offensive bursts from Curry and Jack, and with Lee coming out big to be David Lee again, the Warriors may grab sixth seed come playoff time. That seem to be their maximum especially now that the Denver Nuggets are way ahead of them with a .63 winning percentage.

Utah Jazz (32-27) (.542)

If there is a team on the short term who need to value a W more than life itself, it would be the Utah Jazz. I mean,  they are at seventh place because the Houston Rockets have one loss more than them yet the Jazz have one win less than Houston. If ever the Lakers tie whoever for 8th or 7th, the Utah Jazz would be an easy target either to tie or to break. The Jazz have one of the weirdest and unusual rotations in the league, and even a more unusual record. For a team who has no clear franchise player, a mediocre basketball fan may level them with the Bobcats in their present roster. But the Jazz are winning underdogs who don' look like underdogs. There are no significant numbers under their belts but their willingness to survive placed them on wherever they are right now. They have no franchise player at all but it's clear that with the averages of 17.7 points, and 9.8 rebounds per game, Al Jefferson is their best player. And with his broad shoulders, the Jazz are on a lift. Continuous intensity with their spirit and defense may catapault them through the playoffs. But falling off the standings wouldn't be a surprise for this team. 

Houston Rockets (33-28) (.541) 

The Rockets are leading the NBA in points per game which determines them as the top offensive team in the league. And why not? They have one of the most offensive minded player in James Harden and a point guard who pulls surprises out of the blue in Jeremy Lin. The 136-103 explosion vs Dallas could be a statement that they wouldn't fall out that easy. With winning percentage involved, the Rockets may play around the 6th-8th seed in a matter of three games, depending on how Utah deals with Milwaukee and the Warriors' dance with the Raptors. One thing is for sure for Houston, playoffs odd is at 3:1 at the moment. Being seeded 8th right now, their first priority is not stopping the Lakers from breaking through the playoff picture. Rather, they must focus on how they join LA in climbing up the ranks before April. That wouldn't be impossible now that they have Thomas Robinson, the young gun acquired from Sacramento who was the 5th overall pick in last year's draft. The Rockets' primary ammo is their youth and their ability to stretch the floor on offense. They are second in the league in 3-point shooting percentage and leads the league in ball protection with just 15 turnovers per ball game. Offense. That is their primary weapon as of now. Despite being 8th, the Rockets aren't handling the pressure after 60 games played because of the way they are playing, and the way Harden is leading the team. The troops they are chasing hold the most pressure now that Houston and LA  are playing their best of this season.

With the sudden surge of the Lakers, stability of the Jazz, the offensive prowess of the Rockets, and of course misfortunes of the Warriors, the lower half of the playoff bracket for the Western Conference is at serious war right now. But as fans, we all know that a chaotic standing means interest and fun. And for LA fans, a playoffs featuring two LA teams would be heavenly, especially for Laker fans who thought their team has been busted out of contention. Now the Lakers would have to define their identity, for the real challenges are yet to start soon. Actually soon as their next game, Tuesday, against OKC.

Sabado, Pebrero 2, 2013

NBA All-Star Weekend 2013: Four High Flyers Who Should Be in the Dunk Contest

Now first things first. All hoop junkies out there must accept that LeBron James won't be competing in the event any more. Not this year, not next year, not any more. That case has been long closed and even Mr. MVP told that he won't be competing any more. Now we must accept that and move on.

While the dunk contest has been into trouble for the past few seasons due to lack in star power and, say, changes in the format of the event, it does not fail to catch our attention. Each and every year, we see something new, something that watermarks the contest with a specific dunk. Personally, 2011 was a good year, and if not distorted by the changes in the system, 2012 should have been good as well. When Javale Mcgee pulled off the double dunk (2011) and Gordon Hayward threw the perfect double pass to Jeremy Evans (2012), we saw some things that marked the dunk contest still the most anticipated event in the All-Star Saturday Night, no matter how lousy it has been.

Moving into 2013, a year that has the opportunity to catch a less energetic dunk contest from last year, there is a ray of hope that we just might see something new based on how talented and energetic the league has been. No, don't expect Russell Westbrook to be on this because he's just some very special player who won't join these kinds of stuff. Remember, we aren't living in the 80's, 90's, or early 2000's anymore. This is the new decade, a decade where it is illegal to qualify if you are the star of a team (well I may take Dwight Howard as an exemption), or, in LeBron's case, if people want to see you join.

As I said, there's a ray of hope for the 2013 Slam Dunk contest to be a head turner, and thinking of the talents that we might just see competing for the crown, the version for this year will surely top the one from last year. Now who should carry out these expectations? Here are four of them.

1. Gerald Green (Indiana Pacers)

Gerald Green has proudly wore the Boston Celtics number 5 when he won the event in 2007. The following year, he donned in a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey and lost to Dwight Howard. Green has been a mess in his first few seasons in the NBA which led him to an early exit. The following years, he found himself playing on different teams across the globe. Somehow, that seemed to be effective. Last year, Gerald Green made his NBA return with the New Jersey Nets and made an immediate impact for the team. They did not perform well on the standings but Green was pretty impressive. Last offseason, he signed with the Indiana Pacers who are one of the front runners in the East right now, and a lucky team enough to see what Green can do. He is now their energy guy off the bench contributing solid numbers. With his leaping ability and athleticism, Green would be a suite worth betting at this coming February 16 at Houston. I mean, not everyone has the ability to do this.  

2. Terrence Ross (Toronto Raptors)

Terrence Ross tickled the imagination of the Raptors fans after being drafted 8th overall. This rookie pulled off some of the more impressive in game dunks that we have seen so far this season, and must be pulling off more in the future. Thinking that the former UConn Huskies stalwart takes his talent to Houston for the dunk contest with fellow Raptor DeMar DeRozan as his coach in his corner, the unimaginable might as well solidify right infront of our very eyes. On draft night, when asked what Raptors fans should expect from him, the kid simply said "HIGHLIGHTS", and he has been fulfilling that expectation.

3. JR Smith (New York Knicks)

JR Smith being JR Smith could be both destructive and entertaining. A regular entry in the dunk contest, Smith could be one of the most underrated dunkers ever in the history of the competition. Not to everyone's knowledge, Smith has been responsible for the conception of the "behind the back" dunk which he did in 2005. He introduced innovations using bounces and his swag really makes him look better when performing his tricks. This year, Smith has been wowing Madison Square Garden with his JR Smith qualities. He is fearless, energetic, and most of all, he's a showman, qualities that proves how he's made for the dunk contest. JR Smith being JR Smith here.

4. James White (New York Knicks)

Some people might ask, "Who the hell is James White?". That's right. James White is a less popular NBA player playing for the New York Knicks this season. But if you ever had the chance to be a fan of college basketball way back in 2006, you will agree with me that the NBA is one unlucky league simply because James White wasn't so successful enough in his former stints. If, in case, he was, the dunk contest would never be the same again. Never. He was nicknamed "Flight 75", and "Flight White" when he was in college and that would be enough to explain why he must be in the dunk contest this year. Michael Jordan gave new meaning to the free throw line dunk a few years after Julius Irving shut the building down with his own. For years, MJ has been the epitome of the free throw jump. That is because James White never happened. It is a bold statement, I know. But the leaping ability and creativity of White is so serious he would leave your jaws dropping, and by the time he steps back full court and takes flight, you would know immediately that sh*t just got real. Highlights of his flying ability here.

There you have it. Four space shuttles waiting to be launched in Houston. Remember, these are just my personal picks for the contest and I'm telling you again, move on, LeBron is not joining. Not anymore.