Tuesday, June 19, 2007

PLAYS . . . OF . . . THE WEEK

Hello sports fans . . . a few thoughts from the last ten days or so

1. To update the AL and NL MVP Races thus far: A-Rod has taken over the AL MVP from Vlad Guerrero - that might be a tight one to watch.

Chase Utley is still the hands-down leader in the NL. Really, no one is close.

2. I wrote a whole diary about game 3 of the Spurs - Cavs playoff game and didn't post it because I thought it blew. So, here it is:

Well, being that the first half of these finals have blown: I decided to just do a running diary of the second half. Pardon the Central time.

9:32PM We have a Marc Jackson breakdown of Tony Parker abusing the Cavs yet again. Will say that Parker has really impressed me. The thing I don’t get it is how little credit Parker is getting for this. They keep complaining about Larry Hughes or Gibson or Brown. Parker has been dynamite.

9:33 Cavs ball: Oh the Big Z hits a 20 footer to tie it.. Does anoyne else call him the Big Z?

9:34 - Parker just effortlessly drills a 12 footer. When is Brown going to double Parker off those picks?

9:36: Wow, doesn’t Live Free or Die Hard look like shit? And the Macintosh kid is in it? Is there any way this works? AND ITS PG-13?! No way. No way am I seeing this.

9:38 - LeBron turns the ball over again. Wow, is he overmatched in this series. It really looks like he decides whether he’s going to pass or shoot with 22 seconds left in the clock. 44 – 40 Cleveland.

9:40 – WOW!! What a sequence. Fabricio Oberto just makes the world’s slowest spin move to badly beat Illgauskas to the hoop for a reverse layup. But then, miraculously, the Big Z recovers to block the shot. NBA Fever!!! Catch it!

9:41 - Haha. A great new gimmick from Van Gundy – complaining about nice offensive plays by the Cavs. Gooden just pump fakes and drives in for a lay-up and Van Gundy complains about him not taking the open jumper! He did the same thing for Varejao when he made a play earlier.

9:48 – Game’s tied with 4:12 remaining. I can’t get a good beat on this half.

9:51 - Ginobili and LeBron have been absent from this game. One of them is having a big 4th quarter.

9:53 - Wow. Varejao just somehow takes a charge from behind Ginobili. Did that just happen? Varejao actually falls down from behind Manu on a move to the rim.

9:54 LeBron bricks another 3. He is clueless in this series – is he even going to make a defensive play for points in this series. One time in the first half, LeBron took Bowen down to the low post and spun for a layup. He hasn’t posted up AGAIN UNTIL THIS PLAY. And he waited for the double team and kicked it out for three, which missed.

9:55 - Oh wait.. Lebron scored from the low post? Really? NO SHIT LEBRON!! YOU’RE 6’9” 250 GODDAMN POUNDS WITH GUARD SKILLS. WHY AREN’T YOU ALWAYS IN THE POST?!?!?! I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, until LeBron feels comfortable in the post he won’t consistently be on the Kobe, Wade, Duncan level of offensive greatness.

10:00 - Haha. The Cavs take so many damn three pointers – it’s unbelievable. They are like crappy Duke. The thing that’s funny is its not like anyone has to kill themselves to get these open looks. The Spurs are willing to give up these looks cause they are all 38% shooters from there. Standard play from this half: Donyell Marshall stands unguarded at the three point line. LeBron spins into 3 Spurs and makes a jump pass to Marshall who is no more open than he was at the start of the possession. Marshall bricks. Meanwhile, the Spurs are making everything, because they know how to get the players to the right spots. Bowen only takes 3’s from the corner; Ginobili only from the wings; Parker from the top of the key (and rarely) and Finley from the corner or low wing. Just a huge gap here. You can tell the Spurs have played together for 5 years.

10:02 - Wow David Blaine. Wow. Just. Wow.

10:06 - LeBron with another turnover. Followed by a possession where Lebron passes up a wide open 20 footer to give Donyell Marshall a covered three-pointer. Obviously. Marshall clanks it. Brent Barry comes back and drills a wide open three 58 – 50 Spurs. This game is over.

10:08 - Another promo for Live Free or Die Hard.

10:09 – Shaq and fat kids!

10:10 – All right. 10:42 left in the game. The Cavs need to get the ball to the Big Z sometime soon.
10:12 – Nope. Instead LeBron takes a 3. Brick. And . . .then Gibson bricks a 3 after a Duncan turnover. I have never seen a team refuse to even try to get to the rim or the free throw line before. They haven’t had the ball below the free throw line in about 9 game minutes. Unbelievable.

10:11 Duncan drills a silky bank shot. He’s just the best. Sure he’s played with great teams and coaches his whole career, but he’s still never had anyone getting him easy baskets in his career. Neither Parker nor Ginobili have been assist guys.

10:12 LeBron hoop and harm!! 60-53. A drive to the hoop, actually!! We need to alert someone.

10:15 Yikes. . these Cleveland girls are pretty rough looking courtside. That’s really rare, I don’t care what city you’re in.

10:16 - Parker makes it 64- 57.

10:17 - 67 -57 Spurs.

10:20 - Dangit, looking forward to this new Kevin James – Adam Sandler movie. That’s upsetting.

10:23 - 67 – 63 after a hoop and harm from LeBron. He really needs to keep attacking. Instead, next possession he passes to Pavlovic, gets it back, passes it to Gooden. Jump Ball. What the hell is he thinking?

10:25 - Parker and James trade missed layups. 67 - 63 Spurs. The Spurs are now playing 8 feet off James. James bricks the three. They’re not even double-teaming him at this point.

10:31 - James with a big save to keep possession. He’s gotta turn this into points. LeBron comes back and draws the foul on Ginobili. Speaking of Ginobili – where has he been this game. 0 – 7 and he hasn’t even gotten to the rim. Who does he think he is, LeBron?

10:33 – The most intense possession of the game so far 67 – 65 Spurs. Great ball movement and great defense until Duncan draws a foul on Gooden.
Wow. Quick shot of the Jumbotron. The Cleveland Jumbotron had the Michigan logo on it to get the crowd riled up to boo Duncan. Cleveland is just the worst. Ohio State and LeBron fans. . .catch it. . .

10:35 – Wow. . Parker and Pavlovic exchange 3’s. 72 – 70 Spurs.

10:36 Cavs ball with 20 seconds left. .. HAHAHA. . .Varejao tried to put a move on DUNCAN with 16 seconds left!!!!!! Misses the finger roll!!!

10.4 seconds left Ginobili misses the first free throw. 3 point game with 10 seconds left.

10:37 - 10.4 left down 3. Wow. They actually make the right play. LeBron gets to the rim and scores it. An actual great play from Mike Brown. Ginobili is back on the line. The Spurs smartly actually leave Bowen and Duncan their to try to get an offensive rebound. I hate when teams take their players off the block. What the hell sense does that make?

10:39 - Van Gundy and Marc Jackson are discussing the foul vs no foul strategy with 5.5 seconds left. People feel very strongly about fouling. Me, I’d never foul here. I’d always try to play tough good defense. I’ve seen the attempted foul backfire way too many times. . . . so easy to get a continuation in the NBA too. . .

10:43 - !!!!Holy SHIT!!! BOWEN TRIES TO FOUL AND LEBRON PULLS UP!!!! AND THEY DON’T CALL IT!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!!! Van Gundy and Jackson both go on how the Spurs HAVE to foul here. The Spurs DO foul. LeBron recognizes it and pulls up from about 32 feet and doesn’t get the call. That’s nuts – really unbelievable – that whole sequence.

All right. That's over. A few thoughts on the series:

1) I had the Spurs all year as being the best team in the NBA. Granted, Spurs and Suns are pretty damn close; but the Spurs only play their best players 25 - 35 minutes a game in the regular season - they stay so fresh. That, and they only add role players. On any basketball team it takes a long time to mesh - usually at least a year if there are two stars joining up all of the sudden. The Spurs never need to add a star because they locked up the Big 3. Another corollary - really watch out for the Nuggets next year. Seriously.

2) All the conventional wisdom on who to surround LeBron with has been way off. Even Simmons and Hollinger, who I love, all said to surround LeBron with shooters. Well, that's what they did and it's been idiotic. They've added way too many one-dimensional pieces all because people still want LeBron to be this massive point guard. The point guard experiment failed, everyone. LeBron has to play closer to the rim and attack from the wing and he desperately needs a penetrating guard to play on his team. For this team to have a shot at the title - Gibson and Hughes have to get better and LeBron has to become a dominant post player. That's it.

3) Flopping should receive a technical foul. I can't be more serious about this. Even though, it is ten times worse in college basketball with that whole "feet set" bullshit.

4) The West is going to be absurd next year. It will be the biggest discrepancy in my lifetime with Durant and Oden being added. It really is a bummer, just because spurs, mavs, warriors, suns, nuggets, lakers, trailblazers, jazz, hornets, and sonics will ALL be great to watch next year. And in the East there will be a grand total of zero watchable regular season teams. Not one outside of Lebron, Wade or soon-to-be Kobe putting on a memorable performance.

3. More baseball: My fantasy team has been destroyed thanks to getting rid of Troy Glaus and Prince Fielder in favor of Todd Helton and Scott Rolen. Nice decision. No, really good decison.
The AL Central is ridiculous this season. The White Sox really aren't this bad, and they'll be good again next year - but they are worse than the Twins, Tigers, or Indians.
I just couldn't be more pleased with my decision to have Grady Sizemore play left field for me in my baseball dream team; although Beltran has really been eating the shit sandwich lately.

4. NBA Draft Big Board
1) Kevin Durant PF Texas
2) Greg Oden C OSU
3) Al Horford PF Florida
4) Jeff Green SF Georgetown
5) Corey Brewer SG Florida
6) Al Thornton PF BC
7) Mike Conley PG OSU
8) Joakim Noah C Florida
9) Nick Young SG USC
10) Yi China Center

There it is. Brandan Wright and Spencer Hawes are nowhere near this page. Hawes got 6.5 rebounds a damn game in college. If anyone takes Hawes over Noah they're going to regret it for the rest of their GM days. Hawes has low athleticism

This really is a wild draft. There is no one in this 10 who I see as not being able to start in two years with the exception of Yi whose risk might outweigh the reward, because he is actually an athletic center.

Be back soon. . .


At 7:33 PM, Blogger D. Bickel said...

as far the mvp goes: im giving mine to vlad in the al. he's essentially the only proven threat in the angels order and he carries them (yeah, figgins is good, but he can't carry the team, gary matthews is ok, garret anderson used to be good)

in the nl: utley's awesome, but i guess i'm just not sold on giving it to a guy on a team not winning their division in the NL. so i guess i'm giving early consideration to prince fielder. and russell martin (joke).

i think that flopping shouldn't be a tech, but it should be like soccer, where it's a foul if you dive.

also, i wouldnt pick that chinese guy in the top 10. i'd pick brandan wright in there though. he's a big body, lanky, pretty smooth, though he needs to add like 25 pounds or develop some outside game. i'd also put conley over thornton just cuz i like pgs. and oden over durant at 1. i also think that i might even put brewer at the 3. i mean, he won't go 3 overall because the hawks have marvin williams, josh childress, josh smith and joe johnson. granted johnson's a 2 and marvin/smith are 4's, but i feel like brewer is a wing player in the mold of childress (altho, brewer's a lot better in my opinion). i just think you know exactly what you're getting with brewer. a 6'6/6'7 guy who has a great outside shot, is a lockdown defender, and has a great midrange game. never really saw him attack the basket much in college (at least in the halfcourt offense) but i still feel like he's raja bell on defense and a michael finley circa 1999 on offense. maybe he's just michael finley circa 1999 cuz if i remember finley was a sweet defender back in the day.

At 9:59 AM, Blogger Chubbs and Anthony said...

I agree with everything you say about the draft except for a couple of points:

1) Brandan Wright reminds me of Marvin Williams, and I was burned by him before.

2)Brewer really could have been third for me. Finley is a great comparison. Although, he's not as good of a shooter as you mention.

3) Hawes is terrible. Take that Bulls.

At 12:18 PM, Blogger D. Bickel said...

i enjoy how your third point of "i agree with all your points except" had nothing to do with anything i mentioned. that was nice.

the diff. btwn williams and wright (in my mind) is that wright looked comfortable on the block in college, whereas williams always floated around. i still feel like wright's in my top 10, potentially top 7.

At 1:38 PM, Blogger Chip said...

I really like Wright. I watched a few UNC games this year (5 or 6) and Wright impressed me. He was dominant at times, and he definitely showed flashes. I don't think Marvin ever even showed flashes. He always looked like a project. I'm not saying Brandan's coming in and winning rookie of the year because that's definitely not happening, but I think he'll be a really solid player.

Also, I know I'm biased, but A-Rod I think has to get the MVP award at this point, he has CARRIED the Yankees back to over .500 and into the playoff hunt again. His HRs and RBIs this year have been at very important moments, and we definitely haven't seen the same kind of defensive fuck-ups like last year.

At 5:12 PM, Blogger Chubbs and Anthony said...

I had A-Rod as my current MVP. But, if you're arguing who is more important to his team, the Angels have no other big bat offensively, while the Yankees have what .. .4?

At 5:31 PM, Blogger D. Bickel said...

granted, arod is having a phenomenal season. 315 avg, 27 homers, 70+ rbis.... vlad's hitting .330 has 12 hr and 63 rbis. he also has more walks than strikeouts. if you put arod on the angels, are they in first place right now? possibly. if you stuck vlad behind jeter and abreu and in front of posada and matsui.... i think you'd see a tremendous amount of production. and like i said, i have a hard time giving the award to a guy who's team is 9 games out of 1st place, when his team is as talented offensively as any other team out there (if not more so)

At 1:29 AM, Blogger Chubbs and Anthony said...

I got, actually into a pretty fierce A-Rod for MVP argument with Chubbs circa 2004 when he was with the Rangers and the Rangers finished 13 games out of first. Chubbs HATED the idea of a non-first or second place team having the MVP and was arguing for Posada. So that seems a trifle inconsistent. Season ended today, A-Rod is the MVP. Because the Yankees can't pitch or hit. But, it'd be nice if my fellow blogger established some consistency - clutch play on top teams or overall dominance. Clearly Guerrero is one and Rodriguez is the other.

At 5:55 AM, Blogger Chip said...

It is consistent. The Yankees are in 2nd place, and currently in the Wild Card hunt if only for the fact that A-Rod has been crushing the ball.

Also, my contention was that a player on a last place team should NEVER get an MVP because logically, if you remove him from that team, they still finish in that position (last).

At 1:01 PM, Blogger D. Bickel said...

i feel like if you're going to have a caveat where the order of team's finish is involved (and i like that), it's almost stupid to not have a hardline stance that the team should make the playoffs. Especially when you consider that Yankee fans really don't care if they win 85 games or 95 games, if they don't make the playoffs, the season was a waste (granted, 95 wins is good for the playoffs almost all the time, but for arguments sake, say it isn't). For the most part, does anybody really care who finished just outside of the wildcard in 2003? no. that's why i have a hard time giving the mvp to utley and arod right now. it's also an incredibly long season and a lot could happen between now and october, but if the season ended today, my MVP votes would be to Vlad & either Fielder, Reyes or Peavy. I'm not at all sold on any of them, but Peavy's been the best pitcher in baseball this year (Haren has been AWESOME too, but peavy strikes out more and i'm a guy who likes strikeous and a K to BB ratio of almost 4:1, which seems pretty high for a strikeout pitcher), reyes is the glue holding the mets together and fielder has been the best hitter on the biggest surprise team in the majors.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Chubbs and Anthony said...

1) I think standings have absolutely zero bearing on the MVP vote. Maybe if two guys are the same it should be used; but for me I've had great seasons watching the Cardinals when they've missed the playoffs, and players are just as valuable no matter what happens to the team. If all of the sudden their pitchers get hot or they have a stretch playing bad teams and they move into first, that doesn't affect how valuable Chase Utley has been to his team.

2) Peavy has not been better than Haren this year. Look no further than Chris Young to show what a league and a ballpark can do. Danny Haren's ERA+ (a stat that takes into account League and ball park averages) is currently the fifth highest OF ALL TIME (Behind 2000 Pedro and better than 1913 Walter Johnson and 1995 Greg Maddux!!) That's fine that you are a strikeout guy but 1)Adjust for Peavy being able to face a pitcher twice a game at least. 2) Strikeout rate is most important in terms of predicting the future more so than describing what already occured. I will say Peavy is more likely to keep up his pace than Haren his. But, right now, Danny Haren is having one of the greatest pitching seasons in the history of baseball.


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