Tuesday, 29 March 2011

What happens when LeBron fan-boys write articles...

So, Yahoo has this idea that letting the fans of sports write articles for their Associated Content section. Good idea, get the fans to produce some content that can cover anything about every sport.

The downside?

Fan boys.

Take this article, written on the 2011 NBA MVP Race. Well written it seems, but actually read into this article and you'll find lies and misinformation left right and centre.

"Rose supporters further will make the claim all you have to do to know Rose should be the MVP is watch the games, as if those who don't agree with their view just aren't watching those games. They say that if you watch the games, it's clear Rose has had a much bigger impact on the Bulls winning than LeBron has on the Heat winning. Frankly, I can't see it from watching those games (and I have watched), so apparently I'm blind."
Let's start with this little gem of a paragraph. Clearly this man truly is blind. He claims that Derrick Rose has less impact on the Chicago Bulls' winning games than James does on the Heat. Wrong. When Rose goes out of the game, yes, the Bulls do play at a good level. This is down to the Bulls' bench that is one of, if not the best, scoring benches in the league. However, if Rose were to be unavailable for a game through injury, things would be different. The Bulls have no 3rd Point Guard and C.J Watson, the backup, is a solid 2nd unit substitute. But he would not be able to lead this Bulls team as the starting guard. Rose is Chicago's go to guy in late-game situations (scored last 8 vs Bucks on Sat. night) and when the other players are cold, Rose takes up the scoring responsibilities. Derrick has nobody else to defer to when he can't score. Boozer is good but limited from range, Deng is good but an often streaky shooter.

Compare all of that to the writer's preferred MVP choice, LeBron James of the Miami Heat.

Compare that to when LeBron is out of the game. Miami have a certain Dwyane Wade you may have heard of over the last few years. Wade is equal to LeBron scoring-wise this year, although James is better all-round, Dwyane is still one of the league's top 10, maybe even top 5 players this season and of the last 3 years. When James goes off the floor or is injured, the Heat can simply defer scoring responsibilities to Wade who is on 25.7 points-per-game (James 26.5ppg). 1 point per game less than LeBron. So when James is unavailable or not playing well, Miami has another player who is basically just as adept at scoring the ball. Look at the options surrounding Derrick Rose on the Bulls' roster. Carlos Boozer is on 17.7ppg and Luol Deng is on 17.6ppg. Neither a bad average, but a good 6 or 7 points below Rose at 25.0ppg. Even Miami's Chris Bosh is averaging almost 19 points per game (18.7). So James will have less impact when he is off the floor.

This is a worthless comparison anyway, as Rose has only missed one game all season (a loss in Denver).

Can I go on? Yes. Here he is talking about James' stat line vs Rose's.
"LeBron's stats dwarf Rose's in so many categories it's not even funny, and simply because LeBron is ranked #13 in assists rather than in the Top 10 is hardly reason to vote Rose over LeBron."
While stats make up a big part of who is in and who is out of the MVP Race, they are far from the be-all and end-all of the award. LeBron is a more prolific scorer, but by just 2 points per game. So small it is irrelevant.
Although I used PER as a main focus of my previous article, there are a number of other statistical analytics that give a clear picture why LeBron is more deserving of the award, and there's one statistic Bulls fans just can't get around; his FG percentage.
Rose or LeBron? Tough choices in
this year's MVP Race
So, he moves on to Rose's fairly average Field Goal percentage. Fair enough, it is nowhere compared to James', but remember, Wade draws two defenders to him as he is so good. Bosh demands the same double team. That leaves James wide open on some plays. Plus, LeBron does not have to do the majority of Miami scoring every night, unlike Rose. This is one reason for his lower shots-made%. Rose must take shots he doesn't like when his team-mates are struggling. While LeBron has Wade to make shots he doesn't like or isn't good at. They compliment each other. Heat fans argue that Wade is taking points away from James, but James is still scoring the same as last season. True. But again, this is because Wade draws two defenders as does Bosh. James gets more open shots and therefore easy points than he did last year in Cleveland.

So yes, James is a better all-round player. But until he has single handedly carried a team to the top of the Eastern Conference and into Championship contention, he is not the MVP. Chicago may be top through their defensive excellence. But can you think of how many games they would have lost if it were not for D-Roses ownership of the late game? I can tell you right now, if it weren't for Rose, Chicago would be on a 3-game losing streak today instead of one, and would be scrapping around the 5th-6th-7th places in the East.

Sorry LeBron fans, but this one is not going your way.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Bulls pulling clear in East #1 battle

With an unconvincing 95-87 win over the lowly Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night the Chicago Bulls opened up a 2-game lead over the Boston Celtics for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoff race.

Boston lost 83-81 to the Bobcats at home in Boston. A shocking result that showed the true frailties of a team still struggling defensively since 7-footer Kendrick Perkins departed in early March. To go with this struggle of stopping teams, they have lost their scoring touch to boot. Shooting just 42% since the trade of Perkins the Celtics have fell from a 2 game lead to a 2 game deficit in less than a month.

Chicago have had a busy 7 days with 2 sets of back-to-back games this past week. These two sets couldn't have been any more different in highlighting both strengths and weaknesses of this young Bulls' team. In two laughers over the Hawks and Kings showed the Bulls can score points easily when playing poorer defensive teams. However, these past two nights have seen Chicago needing bailed out by Derrick Rose with late-game plays befitting of his MVP-candidacy. Last night in Milwaukee, Rose scored 8pts in a 12-0 Bulls run along with providing assists on the other 8 of the Bulls final 16pts.

Time and again Rose has silenced his critics with various displays of his wide range of talents. Many said before the season that he had no jump-shot and could only score easy lay-ins. In reply he broke his scoring record against the league's top team and then equaled it again for good measure. Critics then told how he could only shoot from close range and not from 3-point range. So Rose went out and became one of the top 10 players in the NBA in 3-point shots made this year. He has quietened the people who said he couldn't pass by smashing his career high with 17 assists last night and has proved himself an adept defender with crucial blocks, steals and tipped passes. He should be a shoe-in for MVP if the media can avoid falling in love with LeBron James again.

On Saturday night, Chicago opened up the game by going down 8-15 as the Bucks continually scored from deep inside the painted area. Joakim Noah was found wanting against the tougher Andrew Bogut while fighting for rebounds at either end. Noah hasn't been the same since returning from surgery earlier this month. Another player not fulfilling earlier form is Carlos Boozer, playing poorly of late with just his 8th double-double game in his last 22 (last night) and another night of 0 free-throws for Boozer. Poor defending saw the Bulls fall as many as 15 points down before Keith Bogans (yes, you read it right) fired in back-to-back 3's to cut the lead to 9 and Rose poured in a nice lay-up to start an 8-0 run that effectively saved the Bulls from a blowout, energizing the split crowd and sparking the team into fight mode. The Bucks continued to do well in the third quarter, but they could not score in the 4th as their reliance on jump-shots cost them down the crunch time of the game. The Bucks struggle from 3-point range, so the Bulls defense tightened inside and allowed them to miss plenty of threes and long twos.

Chicago showed their fighting spirit with a 4th quarter rally on Friday night against Memphis and did the same again in Milwaukee as they stopped Bucks' top scorer John Salmons from scoring a single point in the 4th, including 2 brilliant defensive plays by a quiet Luol Deng that set up Rose to pull the team through. With 1:53 left, the Bulls had pulled level at 83-83 before a simply mesmerizing play by Rose. He crossed over his defender before driving the ball behind his back and then passing down low to Boozer for the dunk. The Bulls led the game for the first time on this basket. They went on to score 12 more unanswered off Rose with a soaring, twisting lay-in that got a foul too, which he made as Derrick scored all 12 free throws he was given. To end the game, he scored a Kobe Bryant-esque fadeaway leaning jumpshot from the foul line that swished in and sent the large swathes of Bulls fans in the Bradley Center into celebration. He wasn't done, dishing a nice lead pass to Ronnie Brewer for once final lay-in to put the nail in the coffin.

Chicago have 10 games remaining as they sit 53-19, the Lakers are 52-20 and would have game 7 of a Finals in Chicago (I'm dreaming I know). 6 of their next ten games are against teams with less more losses than wins as they face Philadelphia, Minnesota and Detroit in the next 5 days. They also have trips to Orlando and a home visit from Boston left in their final gallop to the finishing post.

Rose boasted that the team could finish go undefeated the rest of the way.

Who doubts him?

Monday, 14 March 2011

Bulls move within a half of Boston

With their win Saturday night, Chicago moved to percentage points behind the Celtics for a share of the East's #1 seed.

Boston won a record-setting match over the Bucks on Sunday evening to maintain their half-game lead over Chicago in an increasingly tight Eastern Conference. Boston are now 47-17 with Chicago 47-18.

Saturday night's win should has been assured at half-time with the Bulls up 68-41, a franchise record 13 first-half 3's seeing them streak out to a 27-point lead after 2. The Jazz were scoreless for nearly 4 minutes of the game until they got onto the board at 12-2. Chicago continued to knock in triples for fun and ended with a team-best 8 for the quarter, ending it 37-17 up. Rose alone hit 5 of 6 with Deng and Korver hitting the mark from downtown.

Into the second and Chicago kept up the pressure with the second unit joining in the party from behind the arc, Watson was 2 of 2 in the quarter, with Korver, Deng and Rose adding 1 more each. Noah came in and grabbed a number of offensive boards, Kurt Thomas showed he still has the jump shot that makes him a danger out to 15 feet.

The Bulls came into the locker room with 68 on the board, another record for the team.

An extra-long halftime was taken as Chi-town honoured the 20th anniversary of the 1990-91 title winning season, the team's first. Scottie Pippen and now team-owner Michael Jordan made a brief address to the capacity crowd, in which Jordan delivered a message of optimism.
"You guys are in for a lot of other championships," he said of the onlooking current squad. "Don't be surprised if you have six more coming."

High praise indeed, from a man who rarely hands out compliments. Joakim was particularly respectful of 'Those' Bulls and the legacy they created in the 90's. "When you have a player like Michael giving us love like that it feels great." Noah kept sight of the present by offering that despite this praise, they still have their faults. These faults were laid bare, Chicago got stuck in a familiar rut as they couldn't get a shot to fall or a stop on defense.

Whether the long break drained the momentum from Chicago, they came out firing blanks, the Jazz finally functioning in defence, holding the Bulls to just 27% shooting in the quarter. Al Jefferson came to life to lead the Jazz to 54% shooting as they cut and held the lead to under 20.

Although Kyle Korver stopped the rot with a key 3-pointer, the Jazz scented blood and closed to 102-90 midway through the final period, but a nice run buy a mix of bench and starters closed out the game. So much damage was done by half time that Rose was without a score in the 4th. He finished with 26pts, 7 assists. Deng also had 26 with 4 rebounds as Chicago out-rebounded the opposition yet again for their 6th W in a row and 9th win in 10.

Tuesday sees the visit of the Wizards, the first of many games against sub .500 teams. Chicago must be feel confident that the top see is within reach as Boston have 7 of their next 9 on the road, including a trip to New Orleans. Boston's road record is not the best, so dropping a game or two is a possibility.

Currently, the Celtics have a 2-1 series lead of Chicago with one to play, at the United Center in April. Splitting the series would mean the tiebreaker is decided over the pair's record vs the other Eastern teams.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

London 2011: New Jersey Nets Players

Here it is, Part 3 of my bumper London 2011 Games preview. The Toronto Raptors will battle with the New Jersey Nets over two nights at London's O2 Arena.

Here is a quick lo-down on the players you might want to watch battling away in the Nets uniforms.

Deron Williams: Deron is the Nets' marquee signing of this year's in-season trade window. Signed from the Utah Jazz in return for two current Jazz players, two future Jazz players and over $3million cash. The Point Guard is now in his 6th season and was named an NBA All-Star for the 2nd year running in 2011. Williams was regarded by many experts as the league's best Point Guard in the 2009-10 season. The 6th year player has a nasty box of tricks to go with explosive speed all ready and waiting for this weekend.

Brook Lopez: 7ft Center Lopez is the glue-guy for this team. Without him, they don't play well, he just adds a certain... x-factor to the Nets' offense. See what I mean? This guy scores for fun against every player given the difficult job of stopping him. Lopez is regarded as one of the league's top defenders, largely thanks to his great energy in both attack and defense.

Jordan Farmar: Farmar is another of the young point guards making up this 'golden generation' of point guards currently terrorizing the NBA. Plenty of success has already fallen the way of the Californian, he was a part of the Lakers team that has won the last two NBA Championships.