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Tag:Cavaliers
Posted on: October 31, 2009 9:10 am
 

Ben Wallace - Still a Top Post Defender

Yes, you heard me right and now that he's back with the Pistons he's proving it. He wasn't be used correctly on the Bulls and Cavaliers who tried too much to play him out of position (PF) and never let him roam like he could. He's old now, so I won't argue he's better than Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett but he's still in that upper group of post defenders. He can still go one-on-one with any post player and slow them/shut them down. He can still get up (though not as well as he use to) and block shots or get rebounds. He is also still quick enough and has quick enough hands and feet to press players after the throw in and still can step out on players and get some steals. If you need any proof, go watch the last two games for the Pistons and you will see plenty of proof.

He's not just putting up individual stats or slowing down just one player, but he's effecting the entire defense again and getting back to being that anchor on defense. The first game against the Grizzlies, the Pistons held them to 74 points on 36.1% FG shooting and Big Ben had 9 rebounds and a block. The game last night against the Thunder, the Pistons held them to 91 points on 43.4% FG shooting and Big Ben had 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 3 steals. Yes, they did lose last night but there was no more that Big Ben could have done to help them win (they only played him 30 min. for one, and even though they played good defense it was their offense that couldn't get it done).

I know you still have a bad taste in your mouth from what he looked like on the Cavs and Bulls, but you can't expect a player like Ben to be able to play out of position and not in his own style. The excuse sure works for Steve Nash and a few other players, so why does it get ignored for Big Ben? And for anyone who has tried to say it was the Pistons defense that made Big Ben, please explain how their defense is making him look good now? Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villaneuva, and Richard Hamilton are making him look good on defense? Please, Tayshaun Prince is the only other one who can play great defense on the team right now.

I know you will say "it's only the Grizzlies and Thunder," even though I heard a lot of people talking about the Thunder being a "surprise team" this year and their offense is really good but their defense is the weak part. However, Tuesday, November 3rd 2009 (mark it down) the Pistons will get to play Dwight Howard and the Magic. Once you see Big Ben take on Howard and still play great, I'll be waiting to hear what excuses you can come up with then.

Ben Wallace is still one of the best post defenders in the league.


Posted on: July 21, 2009 5:09 pm
 

What has the world come to?

Can you remember when athletes were just athletes? Before all the movie star, celebrity athletes when all they cared about was traing hard and doing their best at their sport. Now I'm not talking about way back when athletes weren't paid millions of dollars and they had to have other jobs to survive. I'm about since athletes started making the big bucks. Can you remember back when there wasn't any star athlete in any sport that was looking improve their image or make even more ridiculous money by staring in a movie or doing some other form of entertainment?

I bring this up of course because it seems to be worse now than ever. Athletes are no longer looking to star in movies or get big time endorsement deals anymore, but no that's not enough for them. Now they want their own "reality TV” shows that are all about them. It's one thing to have an athlete play a role in a movie, which forces them to miss some training time, but it's another thing when that athlete plays a huge part or is the star of a movie. But it's plain our ridiculous for any athlete to have their own TV show. Why I ask? What's the need for it? What good can it do? It can't be about the money because they have plenty already.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I'm talking about Terrell Owens and Shaquille O'Neal. Of course if anyone would do it, it would be T.O. so that comes as no surprise to me. It's still ridiculous because he's wasting his time participating in the "Superstars" challenges (where he could very well injury himself and really screw himself and his team over) instead of practicing and preparing for his up coming debut with his team, the Buffalo Bills. If that's not enough, he also has to have a "reality" TV show, "The TO Show" to have people watch him and his entourage in their "real lives." Like we haven't seen enough of the "The TO Show" when he was with the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys. Shouldn't TO be worried about actually contributing to a team and be a team player for once; he has yet to win the ultimate prize in the NFL: The Super Bowl. Shouldn't that be his main concern, and not reality TV shows?

Then there is Shaq. Now it's really not that surprising that Shaq is doing his own TV show as well because he can never be out done by anyone (he won't let TO get all the lime light). His makes a little more sense (but that's not saying much) than "The TO Show," because he's actually competing in athletic events and will be training before each show. However, he is not like Shaq is some young guy here. He is 37 years old and his body is not near what it use to be. He could very well get injured in one of these events, especially since he has a very competitive nature and will be going up against the best players at their respective sports (who are also very competitive and could get very carried away, especially if it looks like Shaq could beat them). You'd think with all the time he wastes on movies (Kazaam) and TV shows that he could have very well used that time to improve his game? I bet if he had practiced free throws instead he'd be able to make more the 50% of his FTs. He says this is a new way to help him train in the off-season, but why wouldn't you train practice with your Cavaliers teammates and train for basketball instead of training for different sports?

I really don't want to see this become a trend, but know today's culture which is driven and ruled by the media and "reality TV shows." I wouldn't be surprised to see more athletes follow suit; especially someone like LeBron James. "The King" doesn't want to be out done by anyone either, and will have to come up with some reality TV show in order to remain "on top" in the public eye. I've got a good suggestion for a show he should do: "I Dunked on LeBron James." Xavier's Jordan Crawford could be the guy who introduces each new player that will get a shot at dunking on LBJ. I'm sure Nike would walk right into MTV's station and ask for their tapes of the show so we'd never be able to see it.

It's a sad sad thing to watch great athletes do things like this. If this is a sign of things to come and is the future of entertainment, maybe Mike Judge got things right when he made the film "Idiocracy."

Posted on: May 31, 2009 9:54 pm
 

Will history continue to repeat itself?

History tends to repeat itself a lot; not only in sports but in all of life. However, here we're only interested in the sports history. One such thing that has been consistent in NBA history is defense winning championships. Almost every time, one of the best defensive teams will win the championship. Now of course there are a few exceptions here and there, but you have to look at the overall picture. This, however, is not about defense in NBA history, but instead great big men winning championships. The majority of NBA championships have been won by teams who are lead by a great big man (almost always one who has very good defense, if not great defense). You can go all the way back to Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain to see that great big men have always been able to win championships with their great post play on both offense and defense (mainly defense though).

I only bring this up of course because of this year's NBA Finals matchup: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Orlando Magic . Now Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol are both very good big men, but neither one could come close to being consider one of the best big men in the game (on both ends of the court). Of course I am talking about Dwight Howard , who most would agree is the best big man in the NBA right now. Howard has proved very worthy of that title thus far leading his Magic to the 3rd seed in the East, being a Top 5 defense in the NBA, winning the DPOY (well deserved), and getting his team past the favorites, the Cleveland Cavaliers led by LeBron James . Without a shadow of a doubt he has been the main reason for what has got the Magic into this year's NBA Finals. Of course there are always very important role players for every great team, so Rashard Lewis , Hedo Turkoglu , Rafer Alston , Courtney Lee , Mickael Pietrus , etc. have all contributed to the team's success as well.

The last 10 years in the NBA has been dominated by big men - as far as championships go. Shaquille O'Neal has four NBA titles (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006), Tim Duncan has four titles (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007), Ben Wallace has a championship ((2004), and Kevin Garnett has a championships (2008). You can argue the Pistons were led by Chauncey Billups (but he couldn't get them one after Big Ben left) and Paul Pierce led the Celtics (although he couldn't get the Celtics one without KG), but regardless the last ten years of NBA champions have been dominated by big men (Shaq & Duncan combine for 8). Will Dwight Howard be next on the list of great big men to lead his team to a championship? Or will Kobe Bryant and the Lakers break the cycle?

There are some things to point toward a break in the dominance of big men. Howard is still very young and has never been in a situation like this before. Can he step up and rise above the pressure to prove he has what it takes at this young age to win his team a title? Kobe Bryant has contributed to three championships himself (although Shaq was with him too), and is the best player in the game. He has always been a great closer and clutch player that has gotten his teams deep into the playoffs almost every year. Phil Jackson is one of the all-time great coaches who knows them game just as good as anyone. Also, even when Shaq was young and first with the Magic, he led them to the only other Finals appearance for the Magic. He was swept 4-0 by the Rockets . However, they also had one of the best big men in the game with Hakeem Olajuwon (so Hakeem was just a better big man at that point in their careers).

There have been two all-time great players who have risen above dominate big men and led their team to championships: Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. Yes, both did have very good defensive big men who contributed to their teams' success, but it goes without saying that MJ and Bird were the ones who led the teams to the championships. Now Kobe has been an all time great player, but he is not in the class yet of MJ and Bird. However, if he can led his team this year and win a championships without any dominate big man (like Shaq), then I believe he could be entered into that group of the NBA's greatest wingmen (although it doesn't mean he is just as good or better). He might need to win another one to really solidify that, but I would be satisfied with just this year (but that's just me).

So this is definitely something to think about when watching this year's NBA Finals. Will we see history repeat itself again? Or will we see one of those exceptions when a great player rises above it? Will Dwight Howard be able to handle the pressure and be good enough to lead his team to the championship, or is he still too young and not enough developed offensive game? Can Kobe finally win a championship without Shaq and thus solidify his name on the list of the NBA's greatest wingmen? For me, I've always been a fan of defense and will always root for defense to come out on top. I'm a big Howard fan, but I also remain in a pact between Pistons and Lakers so I cannot officially root against the Lakers. I will be happy with who ever wins the championship this year to be honest, so I will just sit back and enjoy the NBA Finals while the rest of you argue over who is better and who will win. I just figured I'd give you all something more to add to your discussions.


Posted on: April 12, 2009 10:18 pm
 

Big B's Top 5 DPOY Candidates

Here are my Top 5 Defensive Player of the Year candidates. I don't really think anyone else could be in consideration for the award other than these five guys, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong:

1. Dwight Howard : 13.9 rpg (1st) 2.9 bpg (1st) Team Defense: 2nd

Howard has been a complete monster on defense this year for the Magic . He has owned the paint on defense and made it very difficult for any team to score there. He has made this team rise to the top of the NBA defensive rankings currently sitting at 2nd in total defense for the year. Considering they don't have much other good defense and Van Gundy isn't some defensive genius strategizer like Popovich, you know Howard has really been a huge impact on their defense. Anytime you have a big man that can own the paint and make the other team shoot jumpers, you have yourself a great defensive player. Howard is leading the league in rebounds with 13.9 rpg and also leading the league in blocks with 2.9 bpg. Hard to argue with his stats or the way he impacts his team; can't find any weakness to his case as the 2008-2009 DPOY.

2. Dwyane Wade : 2.2 spg (2nd)  1.35 bpg (1st for all guards) 5.0 rpg (8th amoung guards) Team Defense: 13th

Dwyane Wade has been unbelievably great this year on defense and it shouldn't go unnoticed. He has not only been effect on guarding ball handlers, but has also contributed in shot blocking and rebouding. Considering the Heat don't have any dominating big men defenders in the paint, Wade knew he had to step for this Heat on defense this year. However, no one would have expect him to be this great on defense. He knows how to stay in front his man and keep his hands up making the ball handling have a difficult time getting a shot off or passing it away. However the key for Wade's defense has been his help defense and his timing abilities. He has great awareness and is always watching the ball like a hawk ready to swoop down on it's prey. He read's the passes and can pick off the passes getting plenty of steals. He also has shown the ablility to get a good timing on when opponents will put up the shot being able to time his jump and block the ball. There's no question he has stepped up big time for the Heat on defense, but the problem is that hasn't made them a dominating defense or even one of the Top 10 defense. Wade is 2nd in the league steals with 2.2 spg, he is 1st amound all guards in blocked shots with 1.35 bpg, and is 8th amoung all guards in rebounds per game with 5.0 rpg. The Heat can't rely on Wade to anchor the defense like a big men could (like Howard) because a guard can only do so much for your defense.

3. LeBron James : 1.71 spg (7th) Team Defense: 3rd

LeBron doens't have a lot of impressive defensive statistics other than his team's overall defense. The Cavaliers have been one of the best defenses in the NBA, and it's no doubt LeBron is a big part of that. However, like Wade, he can't do it alone and can't be the anchor do a defense because he is a wingman. The only difference between Wade and LeBron is that LeBron's teammates and system make their overall team defense better. You switch Wade and LeBron and I don't the Cavaliers get worse or the Heat get better. But the biggest thing I've noticed about LeBron's defense this year is his man defense on the perimeter. He has done a very good job of staying in front of his man and keeping them out of the paint, but even if they do get in the paint the Cavs have good post defenders who make it very hard to score. LeBron has stepped up his D and done a good job on defending some of the league's best wingmen scorers (Carmelo Anthony , Paul Pierce , etc.). LeBron is one of the best defenders this year and has really stepped up, but like Wade, he isn't an anchor for his defense so you can't really make an argument for him being #1.

4. Tim Duncan : 10.5 rpg (4th) 1.71 bpg (13th) Team Defense: 4th

Timmy is still one of the best defenders in the game, and that is without question. However, his age is working against him and he is no longer the domianting post defender he once was. He is still great, but not great enough to make the Spurs defense at the top of the league anymore. But he is still anchoring his defense which is still one of the best in league, which still makes the Spurs one of the best teams in the league. He doesn't have the huge numbers of Howard, but has respectable numbers as well as making his defense and all the players on defense around him great. He is 4th in the league in rebounds with 10.5 and 13th in the league on blocked shots with 1.7 bpg. No doubt Timmy is still one of the best (one of the all time great defenders), but I don't think even he has outmatched Howard this year.

5. Chris Paul : 2.83 spg (1st)  5.5 rpg (4th amoung all guards) Team Defense: 11th

Paul, like Howard and Duncan, is the Hornets anchor on defense. The only difference is, it's much more difficult for a PG to do it than a big man. You'd have to be one of the best PG defenders in history to anchor your defense enough to make them one of the best (Gary Payton, Walt Frazier). Paul is great, and the best PG defender in the league, but he isn't at the level where he can make his defense one of the best. He still needs guys like Tyson Chandler in the paint and James Posey on the perimeter. Paul is 1st in the league in steals with 2.83 spg, and 4th amoung all guards in rebounds with 5.5 rpg. He has been great, no doubt, but you can't really argue him at #1 or even in the Top 3 for that matter.

 

Well there you guys have it. That's how I see this year's best defenders of the year. I believe Howard should get this award easily because he has had a combination of the best numbers and easily the most impact on his team's overall defense. Wade and LeBron are interchangeable at runner-up, and Timmy and Paul arenot just not quite good enough be this year's winner. Feel free to comment, critize, or make your own judgments if you wish.

 

Posted on: February 3, 2009 7:39 am
Edited on: February 3, 2009 7:42 am
 

Don't Stop Believing..............

..................... in the Pistons (Pistons fans). This is mainly addressed to Pistons fans because in all honestly, I could careless what the rest of the league thinks. In fact, the Pistons have shown in the past they do better when they are the underdog and don't have a lot of people supporting them. So I doubt I will change any minds of other fans that have completely given up on the Pistons (and I don't intend to), but I just want to make sure my fellow Detroit fans keep the faith and don't lose hope.

The first thing to remember is we haven't even made it to the All Star break yet. The Pistons always play better in the 2nd half of the year, and in their most successful seasons (i.e. the 2004 championship season) they catch fire shortly after the All Star break and carry that into the playoffs. The Pistons can still get things together and star clicking after they have time to figure things out during the break. It's not like the Pistons are a below .500 team struggling for a playoff spot. They will make the playoffs, but the only thing that is questionable is what seed they will get. It doesn't matter if the Cavaliers do win the division because back 2004, the Pacers finished ahead of the Pistons to win the division, yet Detroit still went on to win the championship.

The next thing to consider is look closely and compare this year to the 2004 championship season. They go out and make a trade for a superstar player, they start out slow and everyone doubts them (and continues to do so all the way until they win the championship), a little while after the All Star break they catch fire and finish the season strong, and they carry their success all the way through the playoffs and win the championship against a team no one thought could be beat. Ever since then things have changed; everyone started supporting the Pistons and putting them amongst the contenders every year. The only problem was they couldn't seem to get past the ECFs (other than the following year in 2005). This was because they had gotten overconfident and didn't have that same "hunger" factor as they did in 2004.

This year, they made the trade for Allen Iverson , and while they might be doing better right now with Chauncey Billups , they would still fall short with him again in the playoffs. Billups is still one of the best PGs in the game (IMO 2nd behind Chris Paul ) and he contributed just as much (or more) as everyone else to our success and in helping us win the championship (he deserved that Finals MVP). But he, along with the rest of the team, and had gotten arrogant, cocky, and overly confident and felt that they had enough talent and skill that they could take games off and relax and only play when they needed to. He had lost his hunger to win another championship, and that in turn rubbed off on the entire team. I'm not saying it was his fault entirely, because Rasheed Wallace and the rest of the team had a lot to do with as well (also losing Larry Brown didn't help any either).

AI is one of the league's oldest veterans and an all time great player. His years are numbered now and he doesn't have much time left. He has had so much individual success and accomplishments throughout his career, but has yet to win the ultimate prize: a title. You can say he isn't a team player and is a cancer, but he wants to win just as bad as anyone. He hasn't been on any great teams (Carmelo Anthony is not a complimenting player for him) and every team he has joined has gotten better with him. He wants to win a championship, and has that "hunger" factor in him. He has shown that he is willing to sacrifice his high stats in order for the team to play better. I'm sure if Curry had the guts to bench him and make him their 6th man (but still get big minutes like the Spurs would do with Manu Ginobili ) he would have accepted his role if it would help the team have more success. He is still one of the league's best scorers, he can pass very well, and has been making an effort on defense (though his size will always work against him).

Curry is only in his first year as head coach (not just with the Pistons, but first head coach job in his career; he's a rookie), and he still has lots to learn. However, I can tell just by listening to his comments and post game reports that he is trying his best to make the team have more success. Now we can't expect him to be the next Red Auerbach in his first year of head coaching, so it's not like he's going to make all the right moves right off the bat. I have faith that during the break, he'll be able to sit back and evaluate things and make better decisions on what to do. He will realize that he needs to get the team to focus more on defense and playing the whole through. He needs to find the right rotation that works, and use it for the rest of the season. He needs to start running more plays for Stuckey and let him get to the hoop like we know he can do so well. He even needs to consider benching AI instead of Richard Hamilton (because Rip works better with the starters and AI would be huge off the bench).

The one thing that needs to be done, that I'm not so sure is possible, is to get Rasheed to stop jacking up so many 3 point shots. No Pistons coach has been able to do this since Larry Brown, and it has been a major problem for Detroit. He is a great post player, and without him the Pistons don't have any inside presence on offense. Sure AI, Stuckey, and Prince can get to the rim but they don't have any post player who can score inside without Sheed. That's why teams can just sit back and pack the paint preventing the drives and turning us into a jump shooting team (which we are not). When he's hot he's unstoppable, but when he's cold he's terrible. Curry needs to man up and realize he runs this team, and not the players. He needs to stand up to Sheed and tell him to get back down in the paint where he belongs. I have no problem with him shooting about 5 shots per game from outside (maybe a little more if he's shooting well that game) because it helps stretch the defense, but shooting 10+ and leading the league in 3pt attempts is not something we want from Sheed. I don't know if Curry will have the courage to step up to him and do this, but this is the ONLY thing that I'm not confident Curry will be able to do after the All Star break.

We also can't forget that even if we don't win it all this year we have an even better future ahead of us. Rodney Stuckey is only in his 2nd year and is already starting to become a very good point guard capable of running the point for us. He is only going to get better, and the best is yet to come from him. He has shown a lot of improvement on defense this year (a concern last year), and now I'm completely sold on him being our next floor general who can lead us to a championship. Jason Maxiell , Arron Afflalo , Amir Johnson , and Tayshaun Prince all have lots of years left in them and will become keys to our success. Also, if Sheed retires and/or leaves the Pistons at the end of this year, and  AI is not able to get us a championship and decides to either call it quits or go to a new in 2010, we will have tons of money to use in that star studded FA class in the summer of 2010.

So don't lose hope Pistons fans because there is light at the end of this dark tunnel we are in right now. It may be hard to see right now, but keep the faith. Don't worry about what all the haters say, because we don't need the support of the rest of the league. All that matters is what we know about our team, and that we keep our faith in them. We still have a shot at the championship this year (whether anyone realizes it or not), and we definitely have a very good future ahead of us with Stuckey and the 2010 FA class. Remember the 2004 championship season. So say it with me my Pistons brothers:

DEEEEEEEEEEEEEETTRROOOOOOOOOOIITT BAAAAAAAAAASSSSKKEEETTBAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted on: December 1, 2008 2:09 pm
 

A Familiar Feeling

For some reason this season feels very familiar to this Pistons fan; it's almost like deja vu. It's kind of like the Pistons traded for aging superstar early in the season before. It feels so familiar like the Pistons struggled at first before and then caught fire around the all star break. Wait, now I remember, that was back in 2004 when the Pistons traded for Rasheed Wallace. Didn't the Pistons win the title that year too? Wasn't that the last time when no one (outside of Detroit) believed in the Pistons and gave them no chance against the Lakers? Yes, now it all seems so clear to me.

Please everyone, don't start having faith in the Pistons. It's that type of thinking that has kept them out of the NBA Finals since 2005 against the Spurs. They are a blue collar team that strives off of the hate from everyone else. They can't perform well when everyone believes in the Pistons. They need everyone to doubt them and hate on them so the they can prove everyone wrong. The Pistons know they can win it all, but when they hear everyone else saying and believe in them, they get cocky and overconfident. They no longer have anything prove and work for because they are already seen as great.

The Pistons have been stuck in the ECFs for the last few years because they become too cocky, arrogant, and overconfident (most of which started with Chauncey Billups; not a shot at him but it's the truth). Since the Pistons won the title back in 2004 and went back into the NBA Finals in 2005 everyone believed in the Pistons and expected them to be one of the front runners for the title every year. However, they continued to disappoint us by losing in the Eastern Conference Finals year after year.

Up until now, the Pistons were seen as one of best teams in the East (Top 2) and one of the league (Top 5), but after the Allen Iverson trade people have lost their faith in the Pistons. After the Pistons haven't had too much success since and the Nuggets have with Billups, people are doubting the trade. After both beatings by the Celtics, people no longer believe the Pistons will be able to beat them in the playoffs if they were too meet. Most people will even say the Cavaliers are a better team (despite the Pistons beating them this year), and you might hear a few crazies saying the Magic are better too.

Now I for one love this. Don't get me wrong, I don't like it that the Pistons are losing, but I do enjoy everyone doubting them and not seeing them as such a great team anymore. This is the exact type of things the Pistons need to win the title this year. They need the media and the fans (not Pistons fans, but other NBA fans) to doubt them. That will give them something to work for, something to try to prove. That's the type of team the Pistons are; if they're not hungry enough for a title they won't win it, but if they are then watch out. Allen Iverson really helps with that too. He is an all time great player who is running out of time in his career. He has yet to win a ring, and is really hungry for one. It's just like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen last year with the Celtics. Both are HoF players who wanted to win a ring before their career is over. It will be the same thing AI this year because he wants to add a championship ring to his list of great accomplishments over his career.

Mark my words: Around the all star break (February) the Pistons will start to click. AI will be fully worked into their offense and things will start to run smoothly. Their defense will be great (as usual) and they will continue to play their great style of teamwork. They will get hot all the way through the end of the season and go into the playoffs ready. They will take care of their first two opponents (in the first two rounds), and go into the ECFs. They will most likely face the Celtics who will give them a run for their money. But in the end, the Pistons will be hungry for another title and defeat the Celtics going on to the NBA Finals. And if they make the NBA Finals, I guarantee they win it all and bring a 4th title to Motown!

Now I'm not gonna lie, the money situation helps too. Even if the Pistons some how don't win the title, they will still have lots of option in 2010. Once AI's contract runs out, that leaves them tons of money to sign one (or two) of the numerous superstars who will be free agents in the summer of 2010. They also still have Rodney Stuckey, and anyone who has watched him play knows this guy is a future star. The Pistons will be able to start him within the next few years.

So in summary, haters can continue to hate because it can only be good for the Pistons. They will get things together and once again bring a title to Detroit. I can see the parade already.
Posted on: October 24, 2008 7:40 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2008 9:03 am
 

NBA 2008-2009 Season: 1st Half Games to Watch

Here are 10 games to watch for in the first half of the season:


Tuesday, October 28th: Cleveland Cavaliers at. Boston Celtics

Boston and Cleveland's opening game of the season. Both teams should be looking to the start the season off on a good note. We should get our first good look at how Mo Williams will be able to contribute to the Cavs against the top teams.



Sunday, November 9th: Boston Celtics at Detroit Pistons

First rematch of last year's two ECF teams. The rivalry has been reborn, anyone that saw any of last year's games has noticed this. All the games are so intense and all the players are playing physical. The games should always come down to the final minutes, and making it a great game to watch.



Sunday, November 9th: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers

Our first look at the Rockets with new addition Ron Artest. It will be against the defending WCF champion Lakers. We should always get a good look at Bynum as well. Should be a great game to watch and get some early analysis on these teams and some of their players.



Wednesday, November 12th: Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans Hornets

 Should be exciting to see if the Chris Paul and the Hornets will try to show everyone that they are going to be a top team again this year. Kobe vs. Paul, last year's top two MVP vote getters (with Kobe actually winning MVP).



Friday, November 14th: Detroit Pistons at Los Angeles Lakers

These games have become a lot more fun to watch after the Pistons beat them in the 04 Finals. Both teams are top teams in their conference, and will be looking to get a big win here. Detroit has one of the best records against the West in recent years.



Friday, November 14th: Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs

As my good friend Chrisper would say: "TEXAS FIGHT!" Always a great battle between two Texas teams. Should be even better with the improvements the Rockets made in the off season.



Wednesday, November 19th : Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons

This has become a great rivalry over recent years. Especially when the LeBron James.......I mean the Cavs beat them in the 07 ECFs (only to get swept by the Spurs in the Finals though). Even people who are not fans of either team has to enjoy these games because they always are a great divisional battle.



Friday, November 28th: Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics

The new and improved 76ers look to show they are going to be a threat in the East this year. Newly acquired PF Elton Brand vs. 2008 DPOY winner Kevin Garnett should be great to watch. I can't wait to see how Philly plays against the defending champs. Should be a great game here.



Thursday, December 25th : Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers

Rematch of the 08 Finals. The Lakers will look to try and get some revenge here, and the Celtics will look to show them who's boss again. You better believe if the Lakers win big, they will remind us how they didn't have Andrew Bynum last year and they would have won the championship if they had him.



Wednesday, January 14th
: Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs


Rematch between last year's WCF teams. Lakers vs. Spurs is always a great game to watch. The Spurs better hope Manu Ginobili is healthy enough for this game, or they could have a tough time keeping up with the Spurs. Then again, you can never count out Tim Duncan in big games. I think he has shown that time after time. Remember the 3-point buzzer beater in the playoffs last year?
Posted on: October 10, 2008 8:39 pm
 

2008-2009 Southeast Division Preview

I feel that the Southeast Division will be one of the most competitive divisions, if not the most competitive, out of all the divisions this year. They may not be the best division, but all the teams will be fighting each other this year and there will be no team that just dominates the division. I think all teams will be within a few games of each, and they will be battling each other all season long. Most of the teams have improved this off season, and look to do some damage in the playoffs this year.

The Orlando Magic, led by Dwight Howard, look to get into the playoffs again this year and make it even deeper into them this time. The Miami Heat have their star player, Dwyane Wade, back healthy again along with new teammate Shawn Marion and 2nd overall pick Michael Beasley. They look to get back into the playoffs after finishing with the worst record last season. The Wizards are again with out Gilbert "Agent Zero" Arenas until December, but their star players, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, look to keep them in the playoff race. Last year's surprise team, Atlanta Hawks, look to prove that taking the defending champion Celtics to 7 games wasn't a fluke. The Charlotte Bobcats, led by new coach Larry Brown, look to finally have a good season in their 5th year as an expansion team.

It should be a good race in the division this year, and here is how I see things turning out:

1. (4) Orlando Magic (50-32)

As long as Dwight Howard continues to anchor this team, they will be a higher seed in the playoffs. Howard is just a monster in the paint on both offense and defense. He is probably the most athletic big man (only rivaled by Amare Stoudemire and Kevin Garnett), and knows how to use it to his advantage. He will definitely be in the running for MVP this year, and should continue to improve his game and solidify himself as the league's best center.

They also have talented forwards Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis to contribute as well as young point guard Jameer Nelson, who I believe will make a big improvement in his game this year and become a reliable and solid PG. Now these guys have to step up on defense for the Magic. They can all be great on offense, but their defense wasn't too great last year. Howard is a great defensive player, but he is only one player and can't stop everyone.

Adding guard/forward Mickael Pietrus this off season to be their possible new starting shooting guard was good for them. He can contribute on offense with his athleticism and quickness to finish in the lane, and is solid defense (good rebounder) as well.

The Magic make it into the playoffs as the 4th seed (behind Philly in record even though they win their division) by getting 50 wins again this season. Their run in the playoffs all depends on who they draw in the first round. If they matchup like I think they will (with the Heat) they could see them selves out early in a first round upset. However if they draw an easier opponent, and make it to the 2nd round again they could go deeper. They will most likely have to play the Pistons or Celtics, but if they can build momentum in the first round, they could pull of an upset themselves in the 2nd round and make it to the ECFs or even farther (NBA Finals).

2. (6) Miami Heat (46-36)

Dwyane Wade is back and healthy again. Yes, I do believe he will stay healthy all season long finally, and get the Heat back to the playoff instead of being at the bottom the whole conference. Wade will have a fantastic year, and must if they Heat want to make the playoffs. I believe he will have a great year, in fact the best year of his career which should win him the MVP this year.

Rookie forward Michael Beasley should be able to produce very well for the Heat as well. His athleticism should come in handy for Heat by using him at both forward spots and being able to have play down in low post or up in the high post as well. I think we will contribute to his team better than any rookie other than Greg Oden this year.

Now let's not forget about Shawn Marion. This guy has not gotten enough credit, which is why he left the Suns. He deserved just as much or even more credit than Steve Nash for making that team so good. He is one of the most athletic players in the league, if not they most athletic. He can cut through the lane in the half court or fast break looking for the alley oop dunk. He can slash the lane and finish at the basket as well. Not to mention, he is a great offensive rebounder getting lots of 2nd chance points for his team. Then comes the biggest part of his game: his defense. He can guard the shooting guard, small forward or even power forward and do a good job at it. He is so versatile of a defender; he can impact a defense so much (was the only thing that kept the Suns from giving up 120 points every game). He be huge for the Heat on defense, and in the fast break on offense.

They have 3 guys that will compete for time at the beginning of the year for point guard. They have Marcus Banks, Chris Quinn, and rookie Mario Chalmers. They also recently signed Shaun Livingston Now Livingston won't get a lot of time off the bat, but once he begins to get back into the flow of things, as long as he can stay healthy (that's the key), he can be great for the Heat. They also have good role players off the bench in Udonis Haslem (good rebound and defender), James Jones, and Dorell Wright.

Their biggest weakness is their center spot. Right now their best center is Mark Blount with Jamaal Magloire backing him up. Now Blount showed last year, after Shaq was traded, that he can contribute a little. He won't be able to compete with top centers like Dwight Howard though, and that's what will keep the Heat from winning their division.

Now they could win their first round matchup depending on who they draw. Wade has shown he is a great player in the clutch, and steps up his game during the playoffs. He could lead the Heat to a first round upset victory, but making it to conference finals don't look to good for them this year. They need to get a better center, and then they will be back to being a contending team in the East.

3. (7) Washington Wizards (44-38)

The Wizards always find their way into the playoffs. They have their star point guard, Gilbert Arenas, out until December again, but that proved not to be a problem for them last year. In fact, they even played a little better for awhile will Agent Zero was out. Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison stepped big time and both had great season. I see them doing that again this, and they must if the Wizards want to make the playoffs. Both guys can contribute on offense. Jamison can help on defense with his rebounding, and Butler has turned into a great defender which is huge for the Wizards.

They guy that has to step up again for them is Antonio Daniels. He is the starting point guard with Arenas hurt. Last year he stepped up very well in Arenas's absence. He showed that he can run the team at the point and keep their team running smoothly. He needs to do this again to keep the Wizards in the playoff hunt.

The other starters, DeShawn Stevenson and Etan Thomas, have to do their jobs and Stevenson needs to learn to keep his temper and attitude under control (the opposite of how he acted in the playoffs against the Cavaliers). Stevenson needs to give them the scoring and outside shooting, and Thomas needs fill in for the injured Brendan Haywood by rebound and play some defense. They have their role players off the bench as well in Andray Blatche, Juan Dixon, and Darius Songaila.

I don't expect the Wizards to go anywhere in the playoffs this year. They will most likely draw a higher seed and face one of the tougher teams like the Celtics, Pistons, 76ers, or Magic. Agent Zero will be back then, and any team he is on doesn't have a very good chance with his selfish play. Even without him though, they just can't beat those top teams.

4. Atlanta Hawks (40-42)

The Hawks were a great surprise last year by making the playoffs at the 8th seed and taking the defending champion Celtics to 7 games. After trading for point guard Mike Bibby, the team seemed finally set for success. Even rookie Al Horford stepped up big for them last year.

Their key players this season will again be Joe Johnson and Josh Smith. Johnson is one of the league's best shooting guards and one of the best scorers. He is one of the team's veteran leaders and has done a very good job in that role. He needs to do just as good or better this season for the Hawks if they want any chance at making the playoffs again.

There best player however this year will be Josh Smith. He is an extremely athletic player and has talent on both offense and defense. However, his attitude has been the only thing holding him back from becoming a start player in the league. He drives too wildly in the lane and doesn't have a good shot (basically is only good for dunks and alley oops). However his great rebounding can get him some 2nd second chance points sometimes. His defensive however, I think we will be huge this year. He not only will be a terrific shot blocker and get steals with his quick hands, but he will learn to stay in front of his man and be a good on ball defender as well. He will be able to guard the opponents’ best scorer, and be a great on help defense. I believe he will be finally become a great defensive player this year and possibly win the Defensive Player of the Year award.

The real key to their success however will be Al Horford and Mike Bibby, or there point guard and center. Bibby can bring that veteran leadership and lead the team. He should be even better this year now that he has been with them longer and gotten some chemistry with his teammates. Horford needs to have an even better season than his rookie season. He can't have a sophomore slump, and needs to keep improving so he can anchor the Hawks' down low on offense and defense.

Unfortunately for the Hawks, I don't think they can make the playoffs. Even though they will technically have more wins than last year (I believe), they will miss the playoffs due to the other teams in the East improving a lot more than they have. However, they could surprise me and barely make it again at the 8th seed, but I just don't think it will happen.

5. Charlotte Bobcats (38-44)

The Bobcats should improve a lot this year with new coach Larry Brown. This team has had lots of talent, but couldn't figure out how to play as a team. Now, one of the NBA's best coaches will be able to get them to do that. Seeing as how this team has some young talented defenders, and that's Brown's specialty, it should work out well for them.

Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace, and Emeka Okafor are all great defenders and that's music to Brown's ears. If he can get all those good defenders to play good team defense, he can have success with the Bobcats. However, they key will be getting them to play together.

They also have their veteran leader in Jason Richardson. Richardson has proved to be a great scorer them, and their biggest contributor on offense. Wallace has also turned into a good offensively player as well, but he tends to be too reckless and gets himself injured. He needs to keep himself healthy if he wants to help the Bobcats be a competitive team in the division and conference.

Their biggest weaknesses are at center and point guard. Felton is a good defensive point guard, but hasn't done a good job of leading the team at the point and distributing the ball. He also needs to improve his shooting percentages as well (41.3% field goal shooting and 28.0% 3pt field goal shooting last year). Nazr Mohammed is a solid center, but shouldn't be a starter. He can be a good role player off the bench, but wouldn't be good enough to start on most other teams. This is the biggest problem for the Bobcats; their biggest weaknesses are two important positions for team's to have success. That will be what holds them back this year.

Brown will improve them this year, but not enough to make the playoffs yet. They still need a better point guard and center, and I don't think Brown will be able to get them to play as team as much as they need to right off the bat. Now as long as he stays there and works with them, they could be a playoff team in a year or two.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com