Monday, 27 December 2010

Crucial games ahead

The Bulls' next 6 games will go a long way in determining how our season will unfold.

The opponents they face in those games: Milwaukee, New Jersey, Cleveland, Toronto, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Every single one has a record of below .500. Combined, they are 51-96. If the Bulls complete this set with a minimum record of 4-2 then they can call it a success. 4-2 is the minimum and I would expect a 6-0 run. Let's be honest, not one of these teams has the manpower to really contend with us for wins.

Tuesday 28th December; Milwaukee: The Bucks. Andrew Bogut at 100% is no bad player and in fact, is one to be feared. However a long lay-off means that he's hardly up to speed and a little out of sync and game-readiness. Ex-Bull John Salmons is also on the roster alongside Bogut. Give them space and they will score buckets. The Bulls will want to hit them hard and fast, knock the life out of them early before their confidence grows and before they feel like they can produce the upset.

Friday 31st December; New Jersey: The Nets are still the league's whipping boys. A better team than in recent years largely thanks to having Brook Lopez at Center. Very much like Noah/A'mare, a center who can score as well as rebound. So far this year, he's at 19.ppg which for a Center, is pretty good. With Noah, the Bulls would have assumed this is as near a gimme-win as it gets. Without him, Thibodeau has to decide whether Thomas, Asik or Gibson is up to the job of handling Lopez. Brook is a 7-footer, but I reckon that Omer and Kurt have the skill-set to handle him. If they contain the main scorer on the Nets, the next best is Farmar at 9.8ppg.

Saturday 1st January; Cleveland: Last time in Cleveland, we made this game a little tougher than it should have been. The Cavs are back where they were pre-Lebron - a losing machine. The team has no real star outside Mo Williams (yeah, not a star I know). They are a team of role players. Imagine taking Dwyane Wade from Miami last season and leaving that team to play on. They wouldn't cope without that leader, that inspiring person to rally around. Williams is good, Anderson Varejao is a capable defender and rebounder but again the Bulls should really outclass them and pick up another win.

Tuesday 4th January; Toronto: We played the Raptors earlier this month up in the big white country of moose and......syrup, and we came away with a win (110-93) that probably looked as comfortable on paper as it did on the court. The team played well and Toronto never really threatened after they were broken in the 3rd quarter. Despite a little run in the 4th quarter - The Rap's pulled it back from 91-64 to 99-86 - that ended with 3 consecutive Chicago 3-pointers in the last 2 minutes.

Wednesday 5th January; @ New Jersey: Another game against the Nets that should hopefully make a 4th win from this 6-game sequence.

Friday 7th January; @ Philadelphia: The 76ers were handed their backsides on a plate when they visited the United Center in mid-December. The Bulls had a 51-point lead midway through the 3rd quarter that eventually turned into a massive 45 point win, our biggest winning margin for a number of years. The Sixers are evidently not that hot as we proved previously, and a win against them would definitely help build the confidence ahead of a massive couple of games.

If we get through this 6-0 or even 5-1, we would be in as good a shape as possible (minus Noah, long term of course). The two games after this are both at home. The first against the East's best team - the Celtics. To compound the problems, Chicago play the night before in Philadelphia, meaning a late-night journey home for a huge clash.

If if's and but's were candy and nuts, wouldn't Christmas be Merry?

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

No Crisis/2-guard Conundrum.

Don't hit the panic button just yet...

Joakim Noah is gone until at least the beginning of March. A long stretch that means he misses 30+ games. The meat of the season. Taj Gibson went out of the Clippers game with a concussion, and could now be out for Tuesday's game with the 76ers.

As it so happens, we lost to the Clippers. We should have won, Derrick Rose missed a Free-Throw with 0.8 seconds left. But if that's the situation, we deserved to lose. Many woke up Sunday morning in a bit of a funk, demanding the team sign another Big, that we are in a meltdown, a crisis, our season is over.

A painful sight for Bulls fans
It's not.

We won't beat teams like the Lakers or the Celtics without Joe, but even with him we struggled. We might struggle against teams we would have previously beaten, too. Joe was a huge inside presence, big on the boards at both ends and a key emotional leader too. His loss means that the Christmas Day game @ New York has probably become a more difficult proposition.

However, we don't need another Center. We have Taj, Omer Asik and Kurt Thomas. That's 3. Thomas only got in because of Noah's departure. Another Center would only be there to earn himself a DNP (Did Not Play) as a cheerleader on the bench. Besides, the chances of getting a starting-level or even 2nd unit center at short notice for a cut-down price are next to none. Taj can rebound. Taj can score (on his day) and Thomas, once he gets some minutes in him again, is a veteran player and he gave his all in defending Blake Griffin on Saturday. Ultimately he fouled out in 16 minutes, but he showed he still has it by taking a big charge off of Griffin and doing a much better job than any other Bulls player did all game.

Courtney Sims -
Possible replacementfor Joe?
Asik should probably be the starting Center. He lacks offensive scoring, yes, but his defensive play makes up for this. He is easily our best Help-Defender and is brilliant at screening for pick and rolls. I would love to see him given more minutes as he looks like he lacks confidence offensively and given minutes, this will be a problem that solves itself.

Relegate Gibson to the bench? Yes. He gives us a huge hit from the bench in rebounding and scoring when we need it most. He has good energy that can be crucial in cementing a run or stopping an opponent's run. Thomas is just rusty. Veterans never lose that instinct and he is as good a big man as we could pick up on a deal right now.

Another option now that Gibson is doutbful: Go get Courtney Sims. Consistently high rebounding numbers and scoring numbers with the Iowa Energy D-League team. A different option to Taj, Kurt and Omer at Center as he is a much more athletic player than the big, heavy style of the other 3. Definitely worth a shot if the worst comes to the worst and Thomas isn't up to the minutes or Taj goes out longer.


The 2 Guard Conundrum.

If the Bulls have serious designs on getting to the Eastern Conference Finals, Keith Bogans cannot be their starting Shooting Guard. He simply can't. He is good defensively, but so bad offensively that teams feel they can leave him wide open and use the extra man to double on Rose, Boozer or Joakim. When your starting 2 Guard is disrespected like this, you surely should get the message that he isn't good enough? Obviously not, as time after time Coach Thibs has started Bogans. And every time he does, it's like the Bulls are playing in a 4 on 5 situation offensively.

I admire his heart and defensive talents, stealing and disrupting plays. But really, we need a shooting guard who can shoot. Kyle Korver is not as skilled defensively, but he can shoot the 3-ball so well then it really doesn't matter. He is capable of stepping up defensively if Thibs coaches him to. Korver can also make Noah/Asik's screens look even more effective, as he can catch-and-shoot off these so sweetly. He is a player I would strongly consider starting at SG for a little while.

Ronnie Brewer. Anther option. Another better option than Bogans. His shot may look awkward, but it drops more often than not and he can defend too. I see him as a better version of Bogans already. I don't understand: Brewer plays starter's minutes from the bench, and Bogans playes bench-amount minutes as a starter. Why not put them in their place according to the number of minutes you actually give them?
Kyle Weaver: Hot property.

Option 3: EVERYONE! To the D-League!
Kyle Weaver: He's playing with the Bulls'/Suns' D-league Affiliate, The Iowa Energy, and has been touted to be signing deals with a couple of teams, Chicago and Washington are just two of them. Weaver has been consistent at that level and I don't really see why he's still down there. A welcome addition to the team and a deal could be reached with Iowa that could see James Johnson sent there as a replacement. JJ needs to either go there or be traded, DNP's are no use in the NBA and his space would then be taken by Weaver. John Lucas III might as well be sent there too. And bring up either Courtney Sims (see above) or Othyus Jeffers, another Iowa player setting the D-League alight. 21 points in the same game as Weaver/Sims' 50. The 3 combined for 71 points of the Energy's 104.

The Weaver-Sims partnership has been fundamental in Iowa's successes this season, a couple games back they combined to produce 50 points + 15 rebounds. The stats back up the theory here.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Bulls' Extended Christmas

There could be good times ahead for
a resurgent looking Chicago Bulls
Christmas lasts from now until mid-January for the Bulls. After a rough start featuring losses to Boston and Orlando, the Bulls have recovered with a win over Oklahoma and a huge win over the 2-time defending champion Lakers.

Then came a potential letdown. A match against the pretty poor Minnesota Timberwolves. Less than 24 hours after the Lakers performance, there was potential for an upset thanks to fatigue. The Bulls were having none of that and put in a performance typical of a top team, they dismissed the T-Wolves with relative ease, never falling behind and being able to play their bench exclusively in the 4th quarter. a 113-86 win was perfectly deserved.

Their next 12 games see just 1 of them against a team that has a winning record (the surprisingly good NY Knicks). Up next they take on the Toronto Raptors (9-15) to face a Raptors team that looks lost since Chris Bosh decided to cash his cheque and head off to Miami. A brief return back to Chi-Town for the Clippers (5-19) on the 18th and then on Tuesday it's the visit of Philadelphia (7-15). The Bulls next three games make up a little bit of a road-trip over the Christmas weekend: they visit the Capital to face off the Wizards (6-16) for the second time this season. A Christmas morning match-up with the only +.500 team at MSG in New York (15-9). The mini road-trip finishes in Detroit (7-18) against a Pistons team that just doesn't do anything anymore.

In the final week of 2010, the Bulls stay at home to play the Milwaukee Bucks - my tip for a loss here - who have been boosted by the return of Aussie Andrew Bogut. They also have their first match of 2 with New Jersey (6-17) in the space of 7 days.

We start 2011 with a nice little game against Cleveland (7-16), who we gave too much respect last week and almost lost to. It's home to Toronto again, then off to New Jersey and another game with Philadelphia round of the period of 'easiness.'

In 20 games from the beginning of December to the first half of January, the Bulls have a real chance of building a massive streak. Already on a 6-win streak (8 wins in 9 games), their next 12 games could see them win at least 10. New York and Milwaukee are two the only two games they could in my opinion. By the time Christmas Day comes around, Chi-Town could have it's first 10-win streak in a LONG time. If they mastermind a victory over the Knicks, who knows how many the number could reach.

One game at a time.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Miami Heat on fire, but not in a good way.

The Miami Heat are officially in crisis.

It's been bubbling for a while, with losses in 4 of their last 6 games, they now stand with a 10-8 record, only good enough for 5th place in the East. While the record is not particularly bad, and it still is early in the season, things are happening now that may have a damaging effect on the rest of the season.

During one of those 4 losses, coach Erik Spoelstra called for a time-out, and while he was walking towards his players, he and LeBron appeared to walk into each other accidentally. However, sharp-eyed analysts quickly pointed out that LeBron James appeared to intentionally walk into his coach in a show of anger and aggression. Allegedly, the players and their coach are not on good terms right now, with several players claiming that Spoelstra is not letting them 'be themselves.'

I'm going to back up Coach Spoelstra on this one, as much as I think he's got his tactics wrong. Spoelstra has got probably the hardest job in the NBA managing a team with two of the sport's best players. Dwyane Wade, long-time hero and adopted son of Miami, and LeBron James; newcomer, MVP, league's future and probably the largest ego in the game. Instantly Spoelstra had problems brewing. The Heat would need to put in hours upon hours of hard work and practice to be able to gel into an efficient and dangerous offensive unit. The problem is, LeBron James isn't exactly the type of guy who enjoys constant work and training. He goofs around and makes jokes throughout practices. Spoelstra allegedly lost patience with 'King' James and gave him a very humiliating dressing down in front of his team mates. Spoelstra is in a very difficult place right now. If he decides to give his players what they want and they still do not function as a team, he will be criticised for not laying down his authority. However, if he decides to maintain his tough stance, he risks losing the support of the men that matter, his players. I think Spoelstra needs to maintain his stance, but he also needs to sit his players down together, and they all need to talk. Spoelstra shouldn't lecture them about their failures, together they need to talk about how they are going to get this experiment to work.

The other problem in Miami are their fans. Not often a sentence that appears in sports. Miami's fans the league's worst for supporting their team right to the end of a game. They have hardly been turning up in numbers either at the start of the game, many only showing up well into the 1st Quarter. The fact that the Heat have had to start running prize schemes for fans who turn up for the Tip-Off.  Incredible.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Bosh gets it in gear

For 3 weeks Chris Bosh has been sitting in idle, no power in the engine and the hand-brake well and truly on.

Against the Phoenix Suns though, he finally managed to get the engine in gear. And he did it in style. He drove Miami Heat to victory with a stunning 35 point total in just 30 minutes of play.

Bosh is that 3rd part of the 'Miami Three.' And so far he's been a little bit like a third wheel, not being able to get involved with the pairing of Wade and LeBron James. Everyone expected his points per game to take a dip after changing from the #1 shooting option in Toronto, to the #3 in Miami, but we didn't expect him to be quite so bad at everything else. By all means his rebounding should stay the same, his assists could have potentially gone up too. But they didn't. They dropped too as if he didn't want to play.

Bosh finally found a rhythm against the Suns
Bosh's season had been so underwhelming so far that there were rumours flying around that the Heat would have to make an emergency-signing to get an strong, athletic center. There were rumours that if the Heat could have traded then Bosh would have been gone at the end of the season. Bosh told us again and again that he would change, and he was getting very close to the point where people were not listening.

Then he finally got it all together with a game-high 35 points, dominating the game against the Suns which Miami won by 27 points. Not only did he score a lot of points in a fairly short amount of time, but he scored a couple of game-changing baskets to put an end to a 21-8 Phoenix run. His last seven points also started an 18-3 run that killed off the late challenge by the Suns.

The next step for Bosh is to prove that this wasn't a one-off performance tonight against the Charlotte Bobcats. He probably won't hit 35 points again in such a fashion, but he will need to play very well and score the same sort of points, big, game changers and at least 20-ish points to be able to say he's finding his form.

Miami need him, 7-4 for the season so far. After 10-11 games (barring injuries) teams can begin to work out their starting 5 and their 6th man. Bosh needs to put in a little series of big games to establish himself well and truly the third part of the Miami Three.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Lakers show they can be beaten

The Lakers started the season with an 8-0 run, something unseen since the 1997-1998 season. Since then they have lost 118-112 to the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets showed that with the right mixture of plays the Lakers are not invincible.

Denver appeared to settle for more jumpshots than usual. By settling for shooting mid/long range shots, they limited the effectiveness of Pau Gasol's ability to defend the paint. This tactic left the Lakers with a big problem as Pau isn't the best at getting out and contesting shots.

Kobe's 25pts weren't enough to turn the game
Then the Lakers played the Phoenix Suns in a rematch of last years Western Conference Finals, at the Staples Centre where the Lakers were still unbeaten. The Suns came along and beat them comfortably. This surely must of the Lakers' Head Coach a little worried, losing 2 games in a row, one at home and with rest in between both?

The Suns came in and copied the Nuggets' gameplan from the get go. They stroked in a team-record TWENTY TWO 3-point field goals.Just one LESS than Los Angeles even attempted to make. 66 points out of their 121, just under half. And what's more they only missed a handful of 3pt attempts. Again, the Lakers were shown that size isn't all that matters. It isn't a full-blown crisis just yet, but if they lose to the Milwaukee Bucks alarm bells should start going off.

And no, this doesn't mean they won't win their 3rd straight Championship. The Lakers still have the edge over everyone (except maybe Boston) when it comes to 7-game series'. They are just better, they have good depth in every position, Kobe doesn't show any signs of ageing and Pau Gasol is quickly becoming a huge part of the Lakers team and one of the top players in the league.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Game of the Week

This week's game of the week had to be Boston Celtic's 110-105 Overtime win against my Chicago Bulls.

The game started slowly, Point Guards Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo throwing everything at each other throughout the first quarter. The Bulls edged that 23-19, Ray Allen being the stand out player of the quarter getting 9 points. He's now just a few points away from becoming the best 3-pt shooter in NBA history. After the break, the Boston offence had a party. They went on a huge run taking them from 19-23 down, to 33-23 up, before closing out the half 49-38.

The 3rd quarter was a messy one with neither team playing really well until the Bull's bench pulled them back within 6pts by the end of the 3rd quarter. Going into the 4th, the momentum was with Chicago and we were treated to one of the best single quarter games for a long time. Both teams hitting HUGE shots at key moments, from difficult positions. 3 3pt-ers for the Bulls kept them in the hunt, 2 from Luol Deng with under 2min 30sec to play. By now both teams were getting tired and looking to kill each other off.

Then, one of the big moments of the game. A missed pass from Rondo to Ray Allen resulted in a chase down to the corner near the Celtic's basket. Keith Bogans dived for it with Allen, grabbed the ball 3 yards from the baseline and managed to call a time-out while sliding along the floor, seconds before going out-of-bounds. This moment with 23.3seconds left, the score 96-96 left the Bulls with all the time in the world to make the final basket. Rose took all the time he could, fumbled and Noah couldn't get the shot off in time.

On to a 5 minute Overtime then. 3 big buckets in the opening minute gave Boston the 100-98 lead, before a solid Kyle Korver knocked down a long 3 pointer. Ray Allen only went straight up the other end and blasted a 3 of his own to bring the lead back home. With the score at 105-103 for the Celtics, Rose lost the ball on a bad pass to Gibson, who then fumbled himself resulting in Rondo tearing away, passing inside to Davis who then won a foul off Korver. Big Baby Davis split the throws but increased the lead.

A second Rose turnover in 30 seconds led to a Ray Allen slam dunk that killed off the game for the Bulls. Deng brought some hope with a nice tip-shot with 38 seconds left to reduce the lead to 3, but on the Bulls' final play, Noah overran his dribble, Garnett stole from behind in a great show of timing and accuracy. Deng took the foul, sent Davis to the line who made both and the game was up.

Boston won their 4th straight and go 5-1, 2nd in the East behind the 6-0 Atlanta Hawks. Chicago lose their 2nd straight and fell to 2-3, 4th in the East. Both teams top their respective Divisions, but the Bulls are in a 3 way tie in the Central Division with the Pacers and a surprisingly strong, post-Lebron Cavaliers.

Friday, 5 November 2010

NBA 10-11 Week 1

Wow. What a start, if this is how the season continues, we could be in for a memorable Playoff/Finals story.

Miami opened at the Boston Celtics with a loss. That's right, the so called 'Superteam' of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh failed to defeat one of their biggest rivals on opening night.

Crisis, i think not. It's only one game and only game 1 of 82 at that. The Heat then proved to everyone just how deadly they can be when they defeated a hotly-tipped Orlando Magic 96-70 in the Florida Derby. Wade and Lebron have already combined to create highlight plays this season and they will go on to win at least 55 games, maybe even 60. They won't touch the Chicago Bulls' 72-win haul though, and they WON'T win the NBA Title next Summer. Yes, I went there. Miami have 3 of the best players of the current generation. But they have nothing else. And I mean nothing. The players they brought in to fill out the roster are all very average and not exactly good enough to beat a team like the Lakers, the Celtics or even the Bulls. Yes, the Heat can win Games, but as the saying goes: "Good Players win games, but Great Teams win titles." Miami will be soundly beaten by LA or Boston over a series of 7 simply because their bench players are better. Enough on this story for now, this will run and run all year.

Chicago started their season with an almost totally new team. Rose, Noah, Deng and Gibson returned as starters from last year, but they managed to nab Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Keith Bogans, Omer Asik and CJ Watson in the off-season. Rose and Noah are definitely game winning players, and with Boozer, another game winner and probably the biggest prize after the 'Miami Three', the Bulls can look to win around the 50 game mark.

The Bulls opened with a loss to a very good Oklahoma City and followed that with a huge come-from-behind victory over the Detroit Pistons, and then a domination of Portland Trailblazers, handing them their first defeat of the season. Coach Thibodeau needs to keep an eye on defensive concentration, as in all 3 games they let the opponents get to the Free Throw line far too many times.

Then the mini-crisis began. The Knicks rolled up in Chi-Town and made 16 three-pointers go in, out of just 24 attempts, leading to a 120-112 defeat for the home team and sending both teams to 2-2 (.500), both will look to move back to a winning record next time out.

Bulls @ Celtics is definitely my pick of the coming 4 days' games, until then, try to keep up with it all if you can.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The Countdown has begun

The Countdown to NBA 2010-2011 Season has begun, with the Chicago Bulls and many other teams' training camps beginning Saturday 25th.

The Big boys of this season looks like being the Miami Heat, already with All-Star Dwyane Wade, they added Lebron James and Chris Bosh into their powerhouse line-up. They look like the team to beat in the East after the Celtics failed to properly upgrade their 09-10 roster.

The Lakers remain the team to beat in the West and look good money to repeat again this season unless the Heat can do something about it. The other teams in the East that could trouble the Heat appear to be the Celtics and a new-look Bulls side.

The Bulls sacked coach Del Negro after their 4-1 loss to the Cavs in April. In his place they bring in former Boston defensive coach Tom Thibodeau, Turkish centre Omar Asik, All-Star Carlos Boozer and big Ronnie Brewer. Add that to their already strong core of Rose, Noah and Deng, with Gibson and Thomas on the bench, they have a strong and fairly deep looking roster that should prove a tough challenge to any team.

The Wizards picked up No1 pick John Wall in the draft, and he will be waiting for his first ever NBA minutes this season, the 6' 4" PG will hope to make as big an impact as other Rookies like Derrick Rose did a couple seasons back.

The Lakers are the same old Lakers, Same old Kobe, same old Gasol... and their old big man Shaq ruined his chances of getting his old Lakers jersey lifted to the rafters of the Staples by going and joining the anti-Lakers in Boston.

So many questions, will James work in Miami? Will the Lakers repeat again? What happens to the Cavs now? And will the Nets EVER be good?

No matter what happens, we are set for a season to remember.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

'Real' NBA games coming to London.

At last, NBA Chief David Stern came good on his promise to bring regular season NBA matches to the UK.

They may not be the biggest two teams in the League, but the New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors are not the worst, they could both fight for a playoff spot come late March. And the two teams are scheduled to play each other over the weekend of March 4-5th.

So not only are we getting a game, we are getting two. The games will be counted as one 'home' and one 'away' match for both teams. Another big positive for these games is that they come at a crucial point in the season, the beginning of March signals the beginning of the 'final push' towards either a playoff campaign or a Summer of nothing.

The NBA have been trying to expand their base in Europe and the UK for a number of years. Last season the Chicago Bulls won against Utah Jazz at the O2 Arena and in years before that, major teams have played here and around Europe, hosting camps for younger players too.

The NBA will never achieve as wide exposure in Europe as they enjoy back home. This is all down to the total dominance of football in Europe, easily the most popular sport. Closely following it in terms of TV air-time is motor racing, including F1.

However things can only get better if Mr Stern keeps true to his promise of regular season games in London and around Europe.

So far, so good, David.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

NBA headed for 2011-12 Lockout

That's right folks, that dreaded time as come again. The latest Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires at the end of next season, which means a re-negotiation of that deal.

Why is this a problem?

The players: The Great Free Agency of 2010 was like Christmas come early for the players. After Wade, Bosh and Lebron joined the Heat, that left the teams overpaying for the frankly mid-level players left. Obviously great news for the players.
The teams: The GM's and Owners do not want to pay the players that much money, but if they don't, then they won't be able to get players on their team.

That is the problem.

And neither side is backing down from the totally opposite stand points. Cue Courtroom debates and Lawyers for all.

This happened in the 1997-1998 Season, after Michael Jordan's retirement, the owners started a lockout that lasted 131 days. It ended with a new agreement signed, much like the one before it. And we had a 50-game season.

So folks, enjoy 2010-2011, it may be the last NBA Basketball we witness for some time.

As always, comments are very welcome with any questions you have on anything in the NBA, i'll try to get back to you quick

Monday, 12 July 2010

Beat the Heat

Bulls signing Carlos Boozer said Saturday night that teams "cannot afford to fear Miami." A true point.

By fearing the Heat, their opponents would take a step back, giving Wade and James that crucial extra half second and extra yard to create something from nothing and destroy inside the paint. By fearing the Heat, they will win. Easily.

Strategy for beating them? In-your-face Basketball.

I know that they haven't fully finished their roster yet, so things could change. But so far they have no defensive figure to look to. They have no Gasol, no Noah or Shaq to speak of. If things don't change, getting baskets on the Heat should be not as tough as first thought. Imagine, James, Wade and Bosh trying to defend say, Pau Gasol? Never going to happen. The Heat have no height right now, no "Big" that can break up a play like Noah or Shaq, just by being there.

The other method, is being very direct in defence. Wade and James will rip you a new one if you give them just a little hole to aim at. By getting up in their face early on in the shot clock, you will give away some easy points, but you will also cut Wade/James' ability to cut and slash inside. I'm not just talking intense D, but also double teaming on the two playmakers. Getting the hand in the face to put him off. Take out the potential of Lebron and co to score buckets of buckets, and then hit them hard on the counter where they have no defensive players.

Can anyone actually do this? The Bulls could, Lakers could. Boston? We'll see how their ageing line-up holds on over the season.

But one thing is for sure, the Heat, can be beat.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Be Like Mike? The Lebron James fallout pt 1

So Thursday (Friday morning in the UK) saw Lebron "Chosen One" James get up and move down to South Beach and the Miami Heat to play with his Team USA buddies Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Shocked, Surprised, Confused.

Some of the words thrown around by some reporters. Not about his move to the Heat, but the way that he did it. Really, Lebron's "The Decision 2010," broadcast live, in a Prime-time TV slot on ESPN, an internationally watched Sports channel, was one of the biggest legacy-suicide moments I have seen since Tiger Woods' marriage implosion. That bad. To go on National TV, and basically stick one finger to the Cleveland fans that begged him to stay, that he promised and failed to give and NBA Championship to, was shocking. It was like Brad Pitt leaving Jennifer Aniston for Angelina, except doing it on Entertainment LIVE.

The Lebron that is marketed by himself is the big, spectacular image not to different to the stars of football (soccer) in Europe. However, not even the David Beckhams or Ronaldos of this world would take 1 hour of Prime time TV to tell us they were going to play somewhere else. This was totally out of the usual Lebron image we get fed to us by ESPN UK. And then there was the manner of it. Lebron tried to tell us that winning a Championship in Cleveland would feel the same to him as in Chicago, Miami, LA. Not possible, the man is born and bred Akron, trying to justify his decision like that only serves to make him look even more heartless than before. Nothing can beat winning a Championship of any kind in front of your home crowd. See: Tiger Woods, Andy Roddick and countless European stars of various sports.

So, where's Michael Jordan come into this?

For years now, the debate has raged: Lebron, Michael or Kobe - who's the greatest ever? By signing to the Heat, Wade's team, Lebron has given up any chance of winning 'his own' title, instead, he will be a tool to help WADE 'win' the titles for Miami. So now James can't be mentioned in the same sentence as Jordan and Bryant, two leaders that dragged their teams to titles on their own skill and courage. By becoming a partner to Wade, Lebron joins the Scottie Pippen debate for the greatest ever playing-partner.

And to further remove James from the 'greatest ever' equation, Would Kobe or Michael have ever gone on national TV to announce a decision like that, in the manner he did. Jordan and Bryant are very much the egotists, but even this was a step beyond them.