Interested in having your mind blown? Listen up. Derek Fisher was on the court for the final 17:15 in Tuesday night’s Game 2. Let me repeat: Derek Fisher was on the court for the final 17:15 in Tuesday night’s Game 2! This is the Western Conference Finals we’re talking about. For Fisher to play 17:15 straight minutes in my BSSC league would be an absolute travesty. How is this possible? Why on Earth would the Thunder ride Derek Fisher down the stretch in a crucial game that they technically weren’t out of, over someone like Thabo Sefolosha, a longer defender who can shoot threes just the same. It’s my guess that Scott Brooks’ logic here was trying to catch up with San Antonio’s dominant offense, but even with the league’s best scorer, best scoring point guard (who’s healthy), and third best scoring shooting guard (who’s healthy) on your roster, that’s an utterly inane strategy. That’s how great these Spurs have been. You don’t put out a fire by flicking matches in its direction. Read more…
Boris Diaw vs. Oklahoma City. The Spurs won 120-111. Diaw’s statistics: 27 minutes, 9 points on 4-5 shooting, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block.
Aren’t these Spurs so much fun to watch? The balance of their offense is beautiful in a perfect way. While every other team is playing on Earth, Duncan & Co. appear to hover above the clouds, seeing things before they happen and making sense of a broken, unpredictable game with an order and discipline that could very well be unprecedented.
The smoothness of San Antonio’s offense is one unanswerable question, similar to “Which came first: the Chicken or the egg?”. Is it so successful because of the skilled players who run it, or is the system in place what allows these players to thrive? Read more…
It used to be when people asked me how it is I could be so in love with the game of basketball I didn’t know what to say. Roughly one million answers to the question exist, and for the good sake of both the questioner’s sanity and my own, I’d respond with some bland, cliché answer just to move the conversation along in as orderly a manner as possible. However lately, I’ve decided to answer it with a more personal response, one that hopefully delivers an actual message. Basketball not only stimulates me through several separate outlets (writing, reading, playing, and watching), but it allows me an emotional vent. Nothing in my life—outside, you know, interacting with friends and family—can effortlessly draw laughter, anger, or sadness from deep inside my body. Basically, the game is intertwined with emotion in a more versatile way than anything else I know. And on Saturday night, even I was surprised at how powerful it can be. Read more…
Last night the Celtics offense made three-day old vomit look delicious. They put 26 of 78 shots in the basket, for an embarrassing 33 percent. On 14 attempts from behind the three-point line, three went in. Already thin without the liberating Avery Bradley healthy enough to play, Boston headed into this game in desperate need of getting something from their bench. Instead, Mickael Pietrus, Greg Stiemsma, and Keyon Dooling combined to go 2-10 (Ryan Hollins played 10 minutes and didn’t attempt a single shot. He did, however, badly miss two foul shots).
But hey, these are the Boston Celtics. They’re a team in love with the mid-range jumper, so we had to know a game like this was coming sooner or later. After scoring 27 points in Game 5, Brandon Bass went 2-12. Yay! Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, the starting backcourt, went 8-25.
But wait, it gets much worse. Read more…
Show of Hands is a feature involving you (the loyal reader) and your valuable opinion. From time to time, questions will be raised in an effort to explore the many various topics our beloved NBA has to offer. Don’t be shy; have a look and place a vote.
Despite seeing several serious bruises on both its front line and backcourt in recent months, the United States Basketball Team will once again be heavy favorites heading into London this summer. (Basketball betting at the Olympics remains a relatively easy task.) One of the major strengths making this so is their wing play. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony could at times find themselves all on one unit, on one perimeter, relentlessly gutting an opposing team until the ever merciless Coach K takes pity and subs in Tyson Chandler.
With these playoffs serving as a quintessential coming out party for James Harden, leaving him off the team will be difficult. Not only has he shown an ability to enter the lane whenever he wants, but he has the rare ability to make others around him better; their professional life easier. At only 22-years-old, Harden was invited to tryout with the big boys this summer, while most others his age were designated to the Select Team. He’s a superstar in the making, soon to sign a max contract.
Making the next “Dream Team” isn’t about paying dues or “deserving” inclusion. It’s taking 12 players who aren’t just the best players in the world, but selfless men willing to sacrifice personal glory for the benefit of their country’s success. With a power house line up like this, it’ll raise the chances of the United States winning bets in online casinos, thus bagging another sure
gold medal. James Harden should be on the team, and it poses this hypothetical question that probably won’t be asked anytime soon: Who would you rather take: Harden or Wade? And while we’re here: right now, who’s the better player?
It’s a question that might seem crazy on the surface, but choosing the youngster might not be so impractical.
The NBA playoffs are designed to tax both the mind and the body. Much like an inexperienced swimmer venturing into dark, murky water, young players who’re knee deep in the second round for the very first time tend to meet unexpected challenges that are impossible to prepare for. Increased on-court intensity combined with an unhinged atmosphere surpassing that which they saw in the first round makes the slope to a championship even steeper, and guys all across the league are now tasting it for the first time. Right now for Indiana, it tastes like ice cream. Read more…
The first round has come and gone, and thanks to a few serious injuries we’re left with an even more unpredictable mess than expected. Derrick Rose, Iman Shumpert, and Baron Davis splintered themselves in the most agonizing ways possible. Josh Smith, Al Horford, Ray Allen, Amar’e Stoudemire, Joakim Noah, and Caron Butler each missed at least one game, but all returned to action, forced to endure more pain than discomfort. Paul Pierce and Blake Griffin are playing through knee injuries. Chris Paul has a right hip flexor, and yesterday, in Game 1 of the second round, Chris Bosh strained an abdominal muscle, placing his availability in question.
Injuries are just a small part of the game, though. And here at Shaky Ankles, we’re moving away from the depressing, and onto six interesting things we learned over these past two weeks.
In the past 10 days, the Denver Nuggets morphed into one of my favorite teams in the NBA. Their role as a grossly undersized underdog certainly helped make me feel the way I do, but what really captured my attention was the way this team managed to ignore that underdog mentality while facing elimination; turning the pace of Game’s 5 and 6 in their favor and making a supremely talented Lakers squad look as though they’d rather not be playing basketball. It was admirable.
Denver may not have a superstar, but what they lack in dependability, they make up for in unpredictable excitement. When you watch the Nuggets play in the fourth quarter, you have no clue where the offense is coming from. It’s both a gift and a curse, able to turn the life of a defense into a nightmare or a simple duty, depending on whether or not anybody catches fire. I was rooting for this team to win last night, but knew it was unlikely. The Nuggets weren’t the better team in this series, and the better team always wins. They were, however, more deserving. If they manage to continue on their promising path of development, someday soon they’ll be the favorite, and the Game 7′s will fall in their favor.
Pau Gasol vs. Denver. Los Angeles lost 113-96. Gasol’s statistics: 29 minutes, 3 points (1-10 shooting from the field), 3 rebounds, 2 personal fouls, 16.9% usage percentage, plus/minus of -29 (game-low).
Ever since the Lakers were unceremoniously swept from the playoffs by Dallas last season, Pau Gasol has been Los Angeles’ great scapegoat. Unlike Lamar Odom, when Gasol was traded this past December he came back, venturing forth in what retrospectively should go down as one of the most awkward seasons a player has ever had to endure. For the most part, Gasol made it work, deferring to Andrew Bynum in the post and Kobe Bryant everywhere else, allowing his elite mid-range jump shot to turn him into a glorified Brandon Bass, and attempting twice as many three-pointers in this shortened season than in the previous four combined. The public complaints were few and far between, and the result was a Lakers squad, devoid of anything close to a capable bench, winning its division and somehow becoming the league’s premier overachiever. Nobody, including the sportsbook review could’ve foreseen the success.
Now the playoffs are here; games are powerful enough to brush all those that were played over the past five months under a very large rug. This is the time to increase what you did in the regular season; a time when the brains of fans, agents, coaches, scouts, general managers and owners are trained to focus and remember. Barring a never-before-seen iconic performance, nobody who’s normal can recall what a given player did on a random night in February, but spring-time heroics are hard to forget.
Last night the Lakers played their second straight close out game against a Denver Nuggets team that’s equipped with an energetic personnel capable of giving Lakers head coach Mike Brown a migraine every 20 minutes. Calling last night’s game for TNT, one of the first bits of analysis Steve Kerr gave us was this: “It’s very important for the Laker bigs to establish the toughness that they lacked in Game 5.” They didn’t. Instead of helping them survive with their alpha dog Kobe Bryant laboring with a stomach issue, Pau Gasol helped tighten the noose around his team’s neck while Andrew Bynum kicked out the stool.
For this piece, I’d like to shine a bright light on the the worser of these two giants: Mr. Gasol. His “performance” was lackadaisical and confusing. At no time throughout the game did he assert himself in consecutive trips down the floor, and 12 of his 29 minutes came without Bynum by his side—that’s one quarter of the game where Gasol could’ve asserted himself with some sort of presence. Instead he had a lesser impact than Timofey Mozgov. Read more…
Placing my biased dislike for the Heat in a peripheral bubble for one brief moment, I’ll admit that assessing this team’s chances of winning a title are as difficult now as they’ve been in the past 22 months. No organization endures constant poking and prodding—millions of ineffective and useless daily autopsies—like Pat Riley’s assembled crew of “Avengers”. But as has been regurgitated since last year’s memorable Finals collapse, no matter how long they ride a hot hand or suffer through a cold winter’s losing streak, two things are for certain:
1) As long as this team deploys LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in their prime, they’ll always lack mystique and resistance—two crucial elements for the creation of an engaging narrative. The Heat are too public and too good, to the point where it’s possible the only way they’ll lose four out of seven games is if they beat themselves (as was proven evident in Sunday’s loss to the Knicks, in which Dwyane Wade went 4-11 from the free-throw line and still came within an inch or two of hitting a game winning three), or somebody tears his ACL. Their best is better than everybody else’s best.
2) They will never be judged on regular season performance. It’s boring to the players, an ignored appetizer to the fans, and utterly meaningless when we look back 10 years from now and talk about what they had or had not accomplished. Read more…