Thoughts on the NBA All-Star Game

February 16, 2009 in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA

Shaq and Kobe try and forget the old times

Shaq and Kobe try and forget the old times

The 58th NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix on Sunday turned out to be an okay affair.  The Western All-Stars creamed the Eastern All-Stars, 146-119, and Kobe Bryant (game-high 27 points) and Shaquille O’Neal (17 points)  made up after years of public bickering by winning co-MVP (I feel all warm and fuzzy now).

The usual stuff

The game itself was what the fans expected.  Highlight dunks, flashy passes, plenty of silly stuff and minimal defense for most of the night.  The Western Conference thoroughly dominated the East with size and speed, though no one seemed to be taking things too seriously.  Shaq provided the entertainment with his dancing and stunts, including one of the highlights – a give ‘n go jam after going through Dwight Howard’s legs.

East played bad

Lebron led the East with 20 points (but on only 8-19 shooting), and provided plenty of eye-popping lay ups.  He may have been trying a little too hard.  There were actually quite a few poor performances on the East team though: Joe Johnson going scoreless in 22 minutes, Allen Iverson scoring 2 points in 16 minutes as a starter; and Devin Harris going -31 on the plus/minus charts in only 17 minutes!

Granger’s first Al-Star appearance!

Danny Granger (perhaps still bummed by the knee) played the least number of minutes (11) on the East squad but was tied for leading FG% with Kevin Garnett (both shot 100%, though Granger only took one shot whereas KG took 5 – but that’s beside the point…)!!  His first All-Star Weekend could have been better – injured knee, first around elimination at the 3P contest, playing the least minutes in a losing effort in the All-Star Game.  Don’t worry Danny, you’ll get more chances in the coming years (hopefully).

Gripes

My main gripe has to be Shaq winning co-MVP in playing only 11 minutes and scoring 17 points with 5 boards.  I know he was the star of the show and the hometown hero, but come on.  It must have left a sour taste in Amare Stoudemire’s mouth – he had more points and rebounds (19 and 6) than Shaq, plus he’s supposed to be the biggest star in Phoenix (I recall Shaq saying it was Amare’s team when he arrived in Phoenix), and yet Shaq’s the one getting all the attention and MVP trophy whereas he’s at the centre of all the trade rumours.  What about Chris Paul?  If anyone should have gotten co-MVP it was the sensational Chris Paul who powered the West’s engine all night.  14 points, 14 assists, 7 rebounds – including an alley-oop dunk where he was the receiver!  There were a lot of quiet achievers on the West squad – Brandon Roy, Pau Gasol and Tony Parker in particular.  As a team they shot over 61%, whereas the East only shot 47% against no defense!

Also cringeworthy was the fake love Shaq and Kobe showed for each other.  At least Kobe was a little more honest with himself when he said: “We are not going to go back to the room and watch ‘Steel Magnolias’ or something like that, you know what I’m saying, crying, all that stuff.  We had a good time. That’s all.”

I’ll leave it at that because I might start vomiting.

Finally…well, I got another 3 predictions wrong – the East didn’t beat the West, the final score wasn’t close, and Dwayne Wade didn’t win MVP.  I think out of all the events, I only got one thing right: Kevin Durant to win the Rookie Challenge MVP – but anyone could have seen that one.  Oh well, better luck next year.

NBA All-Star Weekend Predictions for All Events

February 13, 2009 in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA

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The NBA All-Star Weekend 2009 in Phoenix is almost upon us.  I’ve already discussed who I think (or thought at the time) should have been named All-Stars.  Here are my final predictions for each of the main events (not including the celebrity game and D-League stuff).

H-O-R-S-E Contest

Contestants: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City), Joe Johnson (Atlanta), OJ Mayo (Memphis)

Rules: Everyone should know the rules of HORSE.  Players have to make the same shot as the player ahead of them or they get a letter.  When they spell all the letters of HORSE, they’re out.  Last man standing wins.

Prediction: A little unpredictable, being the first one and all.  I’m going to have to go with OJ Mayo to take it out with an array of dazzling shots and trick lay-ups (no dunks allowed).

Haier Shooting Stars Contest

Contestants:

Thunder Dan is back

Thunder Dan is back!

San Antonio: Tim Duncan, David Robinson and Becky Hammon
Detroit: Arron Afflalo, Bill Laimbeer and Katie Smith
Los Angeles: Derek Fisher, Michael Cooper and Lisa Leslie
Phoenix: Leandro Barbosa, Dan Majerle and Tangela Smith

Rules: The teams have to make a variety of shots from all over the court, including: (1) 10-foot bank shot from the right; (2) 15-foot jumper from the left; (3) NBA 3-pointer from the top; (4), 18-foot shot from the right; (5) NBA 3-pointer from the left; (6) Half-court shot

Prediction: These things usually just come down to who can make the lucky half-court shot first, so it’s almost impossible to predict.  If Tony Parker was playing I’d say San Antonio, but since he’s not, I’d have to go with the home team, Phoenix – can’t go wrong with Thunder Dan Majerle!

T-Mobile Rookie Challenge (Rookies/Sophmores Game)

Contestants:

Rookies: Michael Beasley (Miami), Rudy Fernandez (Portland), Marc Gasol (Memphis), Eric Gordon (LA Clippers), Brook Lopez (New Jersey), OJ Mayo (Memphis), Greg Oden (Portland), Derrick Rose (Chicago), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City)

Sophmores: Aaron Brooks (Houston), Wilson Chandler (New York), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City), Jeff Green (Oklahoma City), Al Horford (Atlanta), Luis Scola (Houston), Al Thornton (LA Clippers), Rodney Stuckey (Pistons), Thaddeus Young (Philadelphia)

durant

Durant looks to dominate the Rookies

Rules: Two 20-minute halves, fouls kept but no player can foul out.  2-minute overtime periods if necessary.

Prediction: The Sophmores have won 6 years in a row, but if you take a look at the ridiculous Rookie roster, it’s hard to go against them.  Can you imagine Rose and Westbrook slashing all over the court, OJ Mayo swishing jumpers from everywhere, Eric Gordon raining threes, Fernandez alley-ooping and Gasol, Lopez, Oden and Beasley anchoring the paint without being able to foul out?  It’s going to be a sick game.  Kevin Durant and Rodney Stuckey will dominate for the Sophmores, but I’ll have to go with the Rookies in an upset in a high scoring affair (win by roughly 5-10 points).  Kevin Durant to be named MVP in a losing effort!

Playstation Skills Challenge

Contestants: Devin Harris (New Jersey), Tony Parker (San Antonio), Derrick Rose (Chicago), Mo Williams (Cleveland).  NB: Williams replaced the injured Jameer Nelson.

Rules: Players are timed on an obstacle course that tests their dribbling, passing and shooting.  The two players with the fastest times in the first round battle again in the final.

Prediction: I would love to see Derrick Rose win but maybe another year – Tony Parker Longoria to take it out in the final against Devin Harris.

Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout

Contestants: Mike Bibby (Atlanta), Daequan Cook (Miami), Danny Granger (Indiana), Jason Kapono (Toronto), Rashard Lewis (Orlando), Roger Mason (San Antonio)

Rules: Players have 60 seconds to shoot 5 racks of 5 balls from 5 spots around the 3-point line.  Each ball is worth 1 point with the exception of the money ball in each rack, which is worth 2.  The top 3 scores from the first round battle it out again in the final.

Prediction: I want Danny Granger to win something for Indiana (but in his first practice he only got 15) but would be happy if he makes it past the first round.  The favourite still has to be 2-time defending champion Jason Kapono, so conventional wisdom tells me to go with him.  But I expect Roger Mason and Daequan Cook to give him a run for his money and wouldn’t be surprised if Kapono chokes and someone else takes it from under him.

Sprite Slam Dunk Contest

rudy-fer

Rudy Fernandez was selected by the fans

Contestants: Rudy Fernandez (Portland), Dwight Howard (Orlando), Nate Robinson (New York), JR Smith (Denver).  NB: Smith replaces the injured Rudy Gay.

Rules: Each contestant performs 2 dunks in the first round and the 2 with the highest scores battle it out in the final.  In the event of a tie there will be a dunk off!  Each contestant has 2 minutes to complete a dunk, and the first made dunk will be the one that counts.  The first round is judged by judges but the final round combines the scores of judges and voting on NBA.com and text messaging.

Prediction: I originally went with the injured Rudy Gay, so now I have changed my vote to Rudy Fernandez.  I just can’t see Dwight Howard repeating as it’s tough to outdo what he did last year.  This really isn’t a big man’s contest.  I expect the creative highlights to come from Fernandez and Smith with Nate Robinson missing a few.  Regardless of the outcome, I just hope it can be as entertaining as last year.

All-Star Game

Contestants:

East: Allen Iverson (Detroit), Dwayne Wade (Miami), Lebron James (Cleveland), Kevin Garnett (Boston), Dwight Howard (Orlando), Joe Johnson (Atlanta), Ray Allen (Boston), Danny Granger (Indiana), Paul Pierce (Boston), Mo Williams (Cleveland), Devin Harris (Orlando), Rashard Lewis (Orlando).  Coach: Mike Brown (Cleveland).  NB: Allen replaced the injured Jameer Nelson and Williams replaced the injured Chris Bosh.

West: Kobe Bryant (LA Lakers), Chris Paul (New Orleans), Tim Duncan (San Antonio), Amare Stoudemire (Phoenix), Yao Ming (Houston), Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas), Shaquille O’Neal (Phoenix), Brandon Roy (Portland), Chauncey Billups (Denver), Pau Gasol (LA Lakers), David West (New Orleans), Tony Parker (San Antonio).  Coach: Phil Jackson (LA Lakers).

Rules: No need to explain.

wade

Can Wade win MVP?

Prediction: The more I think about it, the more I think the West should win.  I mean, just take a look at the line-ups.  I know the coaches don’t do much but Mike Brown is not the guy you would want at the helm if the game got tight.  The last 3 years the winners have alternated conferences: 2006 East, 2007 West, 2008 East.  Aren’t the West due this year?

However, I must stick with my original prediction.  The Eastern Conference Team to down the Western Conference Team in a tight, see-sawing contest with a final margin of less than 7 points.  Danny Granger for MVP!  Just kidding.  Dwayne Wade to win MVP by dominating down the stretch to prove that he is well and truly back.  I’m also expecting Dwight Howard to have a monster game.

NBA All-Star Reserves Announced!

January 30, 2009 in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA

allstar2

The reserves for the 2009 NBA All-Star Game (as picked by league coaches) have finally been announced.

Eastern Conference:

F Paul Pierce, BOS
C Chris Bosh, TOR
G Joe Johnson, ATL
F Danny Granger, IND
G Devin Harris, NJ
F Rashard Lewis, ORL
G Jameer Nelson, ORL

Western Conferience:

F Dirk Nowitzki, DAL
F Pau Gasol, LAL
G Chauncey Billups, DEN
G Tony Parker, SA
G Brandon Roy, POR
C Shaquille O’Neal, PHO
F David West, NO

Just to recap, the starters of each conference are:

East: Dwayne Wade, Allen Iverson, Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard

West: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming

Comparing my picks

Well, I’m glad Danny Granger made it, but let’s see how the other selections stacked up against my personal picks

The one selection that shocked a lot of people was David West

The one selection that shocked a lot of people was David West

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In the East, I had omitted Allen Iverson completely (due to his drop off in numbers and Detroit’s performance with him on the team) – but he was selected by the fans.  The other difference was that I didn’t have Jameer Nelson on the squad.  I mean, Orlando’s doing well and all, but to give the Magic 3 All-Stars was a bit too much.  Even though I didn’t select him, I thought Mo Williams (17ppg, 4.1apg) of Cleveland had just as much merit as Nelson (17ppg, 5.4apg), and probably would have picked him ahead of Nelson because Lebron’s the sole representative of the Cavs whereas Orlando already had 2 players on the squad. 

The picks I had that didn’t make it were Vince Carter and Michael Redd, but that was before Redd got injured for the rest of the season.  In hindsight I would have picked Mo Williams or Ray Allen instead (but definitely not Rajon Rondo).

Out West, David West was the only difference compared to my picks.  This was a bit of an odd one because while you can’t say he’s not deserving, there are plenty of other players that at least on paper look like they deserve it more.  Like the guy I picked instead of him, Al Jefferson.  If Danny Granger can make it for Indiana, Al Jefferson should make it for Minnesota.  Although I didn’t pick him, another guy that probably deserved it was Kevin Durant – he really is a scoring machine.  If the Thunder can just get a little bit better then he should be a lock for next season.

My All-Star Game Prediction

I had picked the East to beat the West in a tight one with Dwayne Wade named MVP.  Since the actual teams selected aren’t all that different, I’ll have to stick to my original prediction.  The Eastern Conference to beat the Western Conference by less than 7 points with Dwayne Wade taking out MVP honours (though I would not be surprised to see Dwight Howard win it).  If the West won, the MVP will have to be Chris Paul.  Lock it in.

2009 NBA All-Star Starters announced: my take

January 23, 2009 in NBA

The starters for the 2009 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix have been announced.  The starters are as follows (2 guards, 2 forwards and a center for each conference):

Eastern Conference
allen_iversondwyane_wadelebron_jameskevin_garnettdwight_howard

G – Allen Iverson – 17.8ppg, 5.3apg, 1.65spg

G – Dwayne Wade – 28.8ppg, 4.9rpg, 7.3apg, 2.27spg, 1.54bpg

F – Lebron James – 27.8ppg, 7.2rpg, 6.8apg, 2.03spg, 1.25bpg

F – Kevin Garnett – 16.1ppg, 9.1rpg, 2.6apg, 1.23spg, 1.25bpg

C – Dwight Howard – 19.9ppg, 14.0rpg, 3.2bpg

Western Conference

chris_paulkobe_bryanttim_duncanamare_stoudemireyao_ming

G – Chris Paul – 21.1ppg, 5.5rpg, 11.0apg, 2.72spg

G – Kobe Bryant – 26.4ppg, 5.6rpg, 5.2apg, 1.29spg

F – Tim Duncan – 20.4ppg, 10.2rpg, 3.5apg, 1.83bpg

F – Amare Stoudemire – 21.3ppg, 8.0rpg, 2.2apg, 1.08spg, 1.08bpg

C – Yao Ming – 19.9ppg, 9.6rpg, 1.69bpg

Comparing my picks

The line-ups were pretty similar to my picks.  However, my methodology was based more on merit (ie who I thought deserved it most), so there were a few differences.

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My NBA 2009 All-Star Picks!

January 22, 2009 in Indiana Pacers, NBA

allstarI’m not going to bother about starters and reserves.  It’s not a popularity contest.  These are just the 12 people from each conference that I think deserve to be playing in Phoenix in the 58th NBA All-Star Game.  (NB: only people on the ballot are considered and there will be at least 2 guards, 2 forwards and 1 center on each team)

Let me know what you think.  Who are your picks?

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