NBA Playoff Comments

NBA PLAYOFF COMMENTS

LAKERS-JAZZ
Maybe you caught that TNT moment on Tuesday night when the Lakers' boss-man - the aforementioned Mr. Jackson - scolded his club for the "same old, same old" meaning they were becoming too lax on defense in the second half:

Well, the fact of the matter is the Jazz did score 103 points and did chuck up a whopping 96 field-goal attempts but it was the Lakers that always did hold Utah at "arm's length" in this one while LA was busy shooting 40-of-79 from the floor (50.6 percent). Heck, if the Lakers could have stopped all those silly turnovers - all 20 of 'em including 7 by Kobe Bryant (30 points) and 6 by C/F Pau Gasol (22 points and 15 rebounds) than maybe the Staples Center crowd could have chilled out a bit more instead of having to sweat a bit in the game's final three minutes.

What really stood out here was not only Bryant's big makes when it counted most - a rim-rattling three-point in the game's final few minutes really was an important shot in this game - but the Lakers bench that was publicly castigated by Jackson following that oft-sloppy 104-99 non-cover win in Game 1 of this series. In Tuesday's tilt, Lamar Odom (11 points and 15 boards) was a mere monster and a pair of key triples by guard Jordan Farmar and a poster-like dunk by G Shannon Brown all contributed to the Lakers taking a stranglehold on this set.

Memo to Utah star guard Deron Williams: Maybe if you're really hurting than you shouldn't be taking 16 FGs (and making only 4 of 'em) as he looked lost for much of this affair.
 

HAWKS-MAGIC & CELTICS-CAVALIERS
You half expected the Atlanta Hawks to wave a white towel in surrender on Tuesday night:

Mike Woodson's crew was supposed to have momentum while heading into this best-of-seven series against an Orlando gang that hadn't played a game since Monday, April 26, but instead the Hawks were defrocked as they suffered the worst playoff loss in club history since the team moved to Atlanta - and it was ugly as soon as the second quarter began.

The Magic - up just 25-23 after the first frame - completely went bonkers while shooting a collective 44-of-84 from the floor (that's 52.4 percent) all told and it wasn't only center Dwight Howard getting in on the fun and games. Howard - who these days is rivaling Peyton Manning for appearing in the most TV commercials by a pro athlete - banged out 21 points, 12 rebounds and don't forget the 5 blocked shots as Vince Carter chipped in 20 points and first-round hero Jameer Nelson chucked in 19 points to go along with his game-high 5 assists.

When TNT went to show the highlights of this game at halftime of Jazz-Lakers, studio analyst Charles Barkley cringed and asked if instead they could show part of a "Law and Order" episode - hey, the Hawks would rather have watched that than replay this monster Game 1 failure.
 
The Cleveland Cavaliers head coach and their star player didn't exactly exit Monday's Game 2 home loss with the same mind-set - and now you can wonder aloud if that itself will create a problem in the locker room while heading into Friday's Game 3 clash in Boston.

You might have caught that video of a rather agitated Mike Brown getting all worked up because his club didn't exactly put forth an "A game" effort in that 104-86 loss that included - among other things - the Cavs missing 12 of their 38 free-throw attempts and allowing the Celtics to shoot a healthy 51.3 percent from the floor (that's 40-of-78). Brown claimed his club didn't "fight back until late" - the Celtics once held a 25-point fourth-quarter lead - and said flat-out that the Cavaliers must bring a better "sense of urgency" into the rest of this best-of-seven series.

James - the newly-minted repeat winner of the NBA's Most Valuable Player award - basically pooh-poohed the loss and said he knew going into this set it was gonna be "a long series" and no doubt James was a major culprit in this lopsided loss with a sub-par 24-point, 4-assist game that lacked any sort of verve ... yes, a bit strange considering that the night started with NBA Commissioner handing the MVP trophy to "The King" who handled it all in a real low-key manner.

Now, Brown and James - and the rest of the heavily-favored Cavaliers (remember that Cleveland entered this series a better-than-4-to-1 favorite) - must kick it into overdrive and get at least a split in these next two games in Beantown but the reality of the situation is that the Celts feel pretty good about things with point guard Rajon Rondo (19 assists in Game 2) confident that he can do as he pleases here even if Cleveland throws a "bigger body" his way.

P.S., remember how the Cavs' reserves really shined in that 101-93 win/cover in Game 1 with 26 points? Well, Boston's bench - namely veteran F Rasheed Wallace (17 points in 18 minutes) - made a major statement in Game 2 with a grand total of 27 points and 9 rebounds and you know the Hubie Brown mantra all these years: Bench players almost always play their best ball at home.

Maybe Brown and Co. do have reason to worry!

Game 3 is Friday night and so that's a long time for the Cavs to simmer.

SUNSHINE STATE SLAM

  We're red-hot in the NBA right now, having won six of the last eight and wer're primed to slam another home in the Sunshine State, as Atlanta takes on Orlando in Game 2. Our basketball experts are all over the edges here, having spent the better part of the last 36 hours watching tape of Game 1. We know how Joe Johnson and Jameer Nelson match up, not just with their stats, but against each other, based on how each team runs its offensive sets and defensive rotation. We know how Al Horford and Dwight Howard match up. And we can define those matchups down to a precise point value, enabling us to correlate it to the point spread. Our record backs us up and we're ready to get the money again tonight from Orlando!

 

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NBA PLAYOFF POINTSPREAD CHART
(Thru Games of Tuesday, May 4)

TEAM

WON

LOST

PUSH

PCT.

Orlando

4

1

0

.800

Boston

5

2

0

.714

Phoenix

5

2

0

.714

Utah

5

3

0

.625

Chicago

3

2

0

.600

Atlanta

4

4

0

.500

LA Lakers

4

4

0

.500

Oklahoma City

3

3

0

.500

San Antonio

3

3

1

.500

Cleveland

3

4

0

.429

Milwaukee

3

4

0

.429

Dallas

2

3

1

.400

Denver

2

4

0

.333

Portland

2

4

0

.333

Charlotte

1

3

0

.250

Miami

1

4

0

.200

 

BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES:
HATS OFF TO COLORADO'S JIMENEZ WHO'S THE BEST IN THE BIZ RIGHT NOW

Okay, so the headline here says it all:

It's not Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay or San Francisco Giants' "freak" Tim Lincecum who can lay claim to being baseball's bets starting pitcher so far in this still-early 2010 campaign but rather that no-hit author hurling for the Colorado Rockies.

Righthander Ubaldo Jimenez - who wowed the baseball world with his no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves back on April 17th - exited his start this past Monday night with a 6-0 record with an ungodly 0.87 ERA. Jimenez owns nearly half of the Rockies' 13 wins this year and the 26-year-old Dominican Republican native sports a splendid ratio of 44 K's in 41.1 innings.

P.S., did you hear that Jimenez reached 101 mph with some of his blazing fastballs in Monday's 5-2 win in San Diego that included 13 strikeouts - so why not pencil 'em in already for the starting nod in this summer's All-Star Game in Anaheim?

Note that the highest Jimenez's ERA has gone following a start this year is 2.25 and the lowest was the 0.79 ERA he sported prior to the win in San Diego the other night. If you didn't know, the Rockies have scored 32 runs in his six starts - a decent 5.3 runs-per-game average - but he's only been given major support once (a 12-1 home win against Arizona two starts ago) and so this six-foot-4, 200-pounder has been forced to walk a real tightrope in many of his other starts this season.

Next up is a Saturday start at the Los Angels Dodgers - a locale where all quality hurlers pitch better on average ... but how low can this ERA go? Stay tuned.
 

NOTE: Get more NBA Playoff coverage in the next edition of Jim Sez.
21
Nov

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