Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mavericks to the Main Stage, Please

I am sure in a month I will try to convince you that this portion of the season didn’t matter, but I have had this week circled for quite some time as the Dallas Mavericks judgment week. I am very fired up for the Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday swing through the AAC of the Lakers, Celtics, and Spurs.

I do fear the possible reality that the Mavericks aren’t that great – say they lose 2out of 3, and are left in shambles a week from today. But, for now, I have prepared a brave face, and I am ready for battle. Let’s hope we will all be congratulating the Mavs on that Jason Kidd trade after this week.

Then, in a few weeks, we will say that none of this mattered, and now the real season starts.

Mission Impossible – Stop Kobe

Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers visit tonight for the first of three home games against championship-caliber competition. The Mavericks have built a five-game winning streak, but it lacks teeth, having come against weak Eastern Conference teams.

"We haven't been the best road team this year," Jerry Stackhouse said. "But we've protected our home court."

By Sunday night – after Boston and San Antonio have followed the Lakers into American Airlines Center – the Mavericks will have either proved they are relevant in the West or shown they will spend the final weeks of the season fighting to stay in the playoff picture.

The line is that fine.

"This is going to be a very difficult week for us," center Erick Dampier said. "Not only for us, but for them coming in here. We've just got to go out and do the job."
The Mavericks are 1-1 against the Lakers this season, having beating them, 112-105, at AAC in January and losing an overtime thriller, 108-104, on March 2 in Los Angeles.

Jason Kidd had been with the Mavericks for only six games when Dallas lost to the Lakers. The Mavs feel considerably better about their chemistry now.

The Mavericks are in seventh place in the Western Conference, 2 ½ games behind first-place Houston. Three wins this week and Dallas could be as high as third.

Spurs Lose again …something seems very odd about them this season…

The Celtics first overcame a 22-point deficit in the third quarter, then dug out of a nine-point hole in the fourth, then survived a big shot attempt at the buzzer from a player known for sinking them — all to eke out a 93-91 victory over the Spurs.

Consider it another St. Patrick's Day miracle for the Celtics at the AT&T Center.

The loss ran the Spurs' losing streak to four games, their longest since the Lakers took four straight from them in the 2004 Western Conference semifinals. It is the Spurs' first four-game losing streak in the regular season since the 2000-01 campaign.

Even after giving away leads as if part of some St. Patrick's Day promotion, the Spurs (44-23) had a chance to win at the buzzer.

After Tony Parker made a layup to bring the Spurs within two with 4.9 seconds left, Bruce Bowen stole the ensuing inbounds pass. He hastily shipped the ball to Robert Horry, whose clutch-shooting exploits are legendary.

Horry's off-balance 3-point attempt bounded away, and the Spurs' skid continued.
"That would have been a great win," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "But it turned out to be a tough loss."

The Spurs still had a timeout at the time of Bowen's steal, and could have used it to set up a play for two points.

Popovich said he would have preferred that somebody call one. Bowen said he didn't know the Spurs had one. Horry agreed with his head coach.

"I should have called one," he said.

In ending a 17-year drought in San Antonio last season, the Celtics were more lucky than good. This time, arriving with the best record in the NBA, they were both.
Paul Pierce, in what is becoming a St. Patrick's Day tradition, scored 22 points to singe the Spurs. Kevin Garnett, facing the Spurs for the first time in Celtics green, added 21.

Boston (53-13) played without the third part of its All-Star triumvirate — Ray Allen sat out his second consecutive game with a bruised heel.

Great Stuff Here: This Blog looks at the underwhelming results of all of the NBA trades

How have teams that made a deal soon before or on the trading deadline been performing since that date? After all, one would think that a few teams would show instantaneous improvement after acquiring such good players for so little. It's only been about 10-12 games since the deadline, but that should be enough to show improvement, right?

Let's compare team records before and after the Trading Deadline of February 22nd. To adjust records for when the acquired players had actually arrived, I'll be using games from February 24th until today. I labeled the results as being mixed if the winning percentage before 2/24 was within 5% of the winning percentage after 2/24.

Lakers acquire Pau Gasol:

Memphis Grizzlies:
Record before February 24th: 14-41
Record on/after February 24th: 1-9
Improvement? NO

LA Lakers:
Record before February 24th: 38-17
Record on/after February 24th: 7-4
Improvement? MIXED (69% Win vs. 64% Win)

Heat acquire Shawn Marion, Suns acquire Shaquille O'Neal:

Miami Heat:
Record before February 24th: 9-45
Record on/after February 24th: 2-9
Improvement? MIXED (17% Win vs. 18% Win)

Phoenix Suns:
Record before February 24th: 38-17
Record on/after February 24th: 6-5
Improvement? NO

Nets acquire Devin Harris, Mavericks acquire Jason Kidd:

New Jersey Nets:
Record before February 24th: 25-31
Record on/after February 24th: 3-7
Improvement? NO (45% Win vs. 30% Win)

Dallas Mavericks:
Record before February 24th: 36-19
Record on/after February 24th: 8-4
Improvement? MIXED (65% Win vs. 67% Win)

Cavs acquire Ben Wallace from Bulls, Wally Szerbiak from Sonics, Bulls acquire Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden from Cavs:

Cleveland Cavaliers:
Record before February 24th: 31-24
Record on/after February 24th: 7-5
Improvement? MIXED (67% Win vs. 65% Win)

Chicago Bulls:
Record before February 24th: 22-32
Record on/after February 24th: 4-7
Improvement? MIXED (41% Win vs. 36% Win)

Seattle Supersonics:
Record before February 24th: 15-39
Record on/after February 24th: 1-12
Improvement? NO

Spurs acquire Kurt Thomas from Sonics:

San Antonio Spurs:
Record before February 24th: 37-17
Record on/after February 24th: 7-5
Improvement? NO

Seattle Supersonics:
Record before February 24th: 15-39
Record on/after February 24th: 1-12
Improvement? NO

The results? 5 teams showed mixed improvement since 2/24, and 5 teams showed a definite slump in record since 2/24. The best improvement in record was the 2% increase in winning percentage from the Dallas Mavericks. The results indicate that teams should be careful of expecting instant improvement from deadline deals, as it is clearly not happening. Even the Lakers, Spurs, and Mavericks, who were definitely perceived as having won their deals in the short-term, have not shown clear improvement. And in the ultra-competitive West, where seeding is everything, making any deal at all near the deadline may be a huge mistake. Those teams fighting for play-off seeding will now have to play excellent basketball over the remaining 15 games or so just to break even on the deal. Sure, trades may be worthwhile for play-off matchups; but trades hurt your seeding for those match-ups.

As I prepare in my own special way for the NCAA Tournament (which includes the courage NOT to fill out a bracket), I need to get my NBA Draft scout eyes on by Checking to see what Chad Ford thinks

Last year, the best debate in sports centered on the NBA draft. Who do you take No. 1 -- Greg Oden or Kevin Durant? After more than a month of deliberation, the Blazers settled the debate by taking Oden with the top pick.

This year, there is far less to argue about.

Kansas State's Michael Beasley is having a freshman season that is even more impressive than Durant's freshman campaign. He's the country's leading rebounder and third-leading scorer.

Beasley is a coach's dream on the court. A 6-foot-10 power forward, he is a prolific scorer both inside and outside. He also has great athleticism, sick range on his jump shot, the power to bang in the paint, the speed to run the break, the nastiness to mix it up down low and the cockiness to think that he can deliver a victory for his team every night.

The other contenders for the No. 1 spot in the draft don't come close to Beasley's résumé. There are no 7-foot centers who play like Bill Russell. There are no other dominant college players rewriting the record books. There are no mysterious international players who can claim No. 1 status.

Beasley's closest competition is Memphis' Derrick Rose. Rose is an elite point guard prospect who has size, athleticism and leadership abilities, and he plays on one of the best teams in college basketball. But Rose's lacks a consistent jump shot, and that combined with the NBA's aversion to selecting players under 6-foot-6 as the top pick in the draft make him a hard sell over Beasley.

For better or for worse, this is the Michael Beasley draft.

However, it is still not a lock that he will be the No. 1 pick in June. Why? For the same reason we had Beasley ranked No. 2 in July. There are so many questions about his character swirling around that it will take some serious vetting before a team chooses him No. 1.

To his credit, Beasley has been on his best behavior at Kansas State. People say he has matured. He has avoided trouble. His coach, Frank Martin, sings his praises. He has been a committed teammate and player. And by almost all accounts, Beasley is a good kid who just hasn't always kept his nose clean.

But it is clear that NBA scouts and especially NBA executives are still wringing their hands a little. I can't go a day without a scout or executive telling a story that begins with, "Did you hear about the time Beasley … "

In other words, rightly or wrongly, they're worried. Derrick Coleman's name gets thrown out there from time to time. He too was an incredibly talented phenom. But he never seemed to care enough to be great.

And then here is the Top 20 from Ford for the NBA Draft:

1 Michael Beasley PF
6-10 235 19 Kansas State

2 Derrick Rose PG
6-3 205 19 Memphis

3 DeAndre Jordan C
7-0 255 20 Texas A&M

4 Brook Lopez C
7-0 260 19 Stanford

5 Jerryd Bayless PG
6-3 190 19 Arizona

6 O.J. Mayo SG
6-4 195 20 USC

7 Eric Gordon SG
6-4 215 19 Indiana

8 Anthony Randolph PF
6-11 220 18 LSU

9 Blake Griffin PF
6-10 245 19 Oklahoma

10 Danilo Gallinari SF
6-9 212 19 Italy

11 D.J. Augustin PG
6-0 180 20 Texas

12 Russell Westbrook PG
6-3 189 19 UCLA

13 Marreese Speights C
6-10 245 19 Florida

14 Chase Budinger SG
6-7 205 20 Arizona

15 Ty Lawson PG
5-11 195 20 North Carolina

16 Donte Greene SF
6-10 225 20 Syracuse

17 Darrell Arthur PF
6-10 225 20 Kansas

18 Kevin Love C
6-10 275 19 UCLA

19 Roy Hibbert C
7-2 275 21 Georgetown

20 J. J. Hickson PF
6-9 240 19 NC State

Top Hockey Fights of the Year

Would you trust Lenny Dykstra with your money?

Prince Lakers

Jerry Plays Ball – courtesy P1 Brad


Jake said...

I'll only give Dykstra money if he invests it in Red Man.

Let's welcome the sorryness of Kobe into town. Lock up your daughters.

Go Mavs.

Mithrandiryod said...

That Auto fetch machine is freaking genius.

Fake Sturm said...

Congrats Bob. You are so brave for not filling out a bracket. And prepare to follow intently for NBA draft purposes while the rest of the world enjoys the greatest 3 weeks in sports.

chipsyqueso said...

I would be extremely surprised if the Mavericks didn't go at least 2-1 during this 3 game stretch.. the Lakers don't have Gasol tonight, they catch the Celts after games in SA and Hou which will wear them out. The SA game scares me because the Spurs will bring everything to the table considering the slide they've been on.. Go Mamrick

Brandon said...

Mavericks to the main stage....Not quite Boston #1 vs. Rockets #2.