Deadline Day Deals

Several deals went down today, and although none were of the blockbuster variety they all count. The first deal is…

Los Angeles Clippers v Phoenix Suns

1. Sebastian Telfair to Toronto for Hamed Haddadi.

This trade isn’t really significant at all, the goal of this trade was primarily to clear more room for Kendall Marshall in Phoenix. He hasn’t got time in Phoenix and now that Telfair is gone he gets more room to backup Dragic. Apparently Telfair is good friends with Gay, Anderson and Lucas III in Toronto so it’s not like Telfair is dreading going to Toronto.

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2. Ronnie Brewer to OKC for future second round pick. Then They Pick Up Kenyon Martin for 10 Day-Contract.

I’m a Knicks fan at heart and this trade really doesn’t bother me. They had a 15-man roster and now they cleared a spot for Kenyon Martin who they just offered a 10 day contract. He has played with J.R, Kidd, and Melo previously in his career and will fit in great in the Knicks rotation now that Camby and Sheed are out. Also, he wasn’t getting time now that Shumpert is back, it also gives more future room for a guy like Copeland who shows flashes of potential. For OKC, Ronnie Brewer fits right in to their culture. He’s a defensive stopper on the perimeter and will probably get some time off the bench as a backup 3 in OKC. He wasn’t getting time in New York so I think this trade is best for him.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Washington Wizards

3. Jordan Crawford to Boston for Leonardo Barbosa and Jason Collins

I like this trade for both teams, for Boston they beef up their backcourt, which at the moment only consists of Lee, Terry and Bradley. They get some youth to their team in a guy who can score in many different ways, and provides them with another asset for the future. The Wizards trade Crawford who probably wasn’t in their future plans as an organization. It gives more room to Beal who they think will become a star in a few years, they also take on two expiring contracts. They have a total of 6 expiring contracts this year, which puts them in great position to pick up a free agent in the future summers. Maybe someone like Josh Smith who will be a free agent this summer.

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4. Dexter Pittman to Memphis for 2nd round pick.

This trade is very similar to the Knicks – OKC trade. The Heat clear a roster spot for a free agent, who they were hoping would be Kenyon Martin but now that he’s agreed to a 10 day contract the trade was simply getting rid of a useless contract.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder

5. Eric Maynor to Portland for Trade Exception

First, a quick definition of a trade exception for those who don’t know, courtesy of the NBA.

“If a team trades away a player with a higher salary than the player they acquire in return (call this initial deal “Trade #1”), they receive what is called a Traded Player Exception, also known colloquially as a “Trade Exception”. Teams with a trade exception have up to a year in which they can acquire more salary in other trades (Trade #2, #3, etc.) than they send away, as long as the gulf in salaries for Trade #2, #3, etc. are less than or equal to the difference in salary for Trade #1.”

I think Portland is the biggest winner of the trade deadline deals. Eric Maynor is highly underrated, and will fit in great behind Lillard in Portland. Portland also beefs up their bench a little, which has been extremely weak this season. They really didn’t have a consistent backup point guard and now they do. The Thunder want to win-now and Reggie Jackson has been playing well of late, so unfortunately they felt like it couldn’t hurt to relieve themselves of Maynor and his contract.

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6. Reddick, Ish Smith, Gustavo Ayon to Milwaukee for Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb and Beno Udrih.

I really like this trade for the Bucks. J.J. Reddick is one of the best shooters in the league and is averaging a career high in points with 15 this season. He can be a great scoring punch off the bench for Milwaukee, who not only has trouble scoring but needs shooters. They also get Ish Smith, who is an underrated back up point guard that shouldn’t be looked over in this trade. Gustavo Ayon is just another big body. The Magic did ok getting value back for him. They are obviously in the midst of their rebuilding project and an expiring contract in Udrih and two young bloods in Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb are nice assets to a team starting over.

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7. Anthony Morrow for Dahntay Jones

I like this trade for the Mavericks more so than the Hawks. I think the Hawks didn’t necessarily need Morrow because of all the other shooters on the team like Korver, Jenkins and Lou Williams. However, I think he was probably an upgrade over Jones, whose identity is a defensive stopper but he hasn’t played too well this season. I think the Mavericks lucked out with Morrow, he’s a guy who can light it up quickly and is one of the best 3 point spot shooters in the league. The Mavericks need any spark they can get so Morrow – although small, is a good pickup. Additionally, the Mavericks clearly want to go for Dwight this summer and surrounding him with a roster of shooters will help them bring him in.

Dallas Mavericks v Orlando Magic

8. Josh McRoberts for Hakim Warrick

I like this trade for the Suns a lot more than the Magic. Both guys are somewhat equal in terms of production on the court, and both teams – the Suns and Magic are looking for young talent to start building around. The Magic had McRoberts on his last year of his contract for 3 million. They could’ve let him walk this offseason and cleared some more space. Instead they trade for Warrick, a guy of equal talent but who is getting paid about 8 million over the next two seasons. Just not a wonderful idea by the Magic.

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9. Warriors send Jeremy Tyler to Atlanta and Charles Jenkins to Philly.

These trades were simply to get the Warriors under the luxury tax line and they did so successfully by cutting about a combined 1.5 million from their payroll and getting under the luxury tax line by about 300,000 dollars. That’s efficient general managing right there.

Exciting Moments Ahead

Only 22 more days till the most anticipated NBA tip-off in recent memory. The excitement is indescribable, already rumours are beginning, teams are practicing and fans are biting their nails, anxiously awaiting Christmas day. Exciting moments are on their way. In the spirit of Christmas I bring to you the 12 most exciting things to look forward to this season.

12. NBA Tip-Off

Although, the NBA tip-off is only one day of a 66 game season. It will begin the domino effect of exciting games. The match-ups all consist of star players and exciting teams. Boston’s Big Three takes their talents to New York to match up against the Knicks Big Three.  A finals rematch in Dallas. Former MVP’s match up as the Bulls take on the Lakers. Superman is flying to Oklahoma as the Magic take on the Thunder. And Bad Blake will begin the hundreds of mind-blowing dunks as the Clippers take on the Golden State Warriors. Merry Christmas indeed.

11. Celtics Too Old?

After the Celtics lost to Miami’s Big Three in the conference semi-finals last year, a lot of people said they didn’t have the young talent to compete with the upcoming teams in the league. Such as, Miami, Oklahoma, Chicago and so on. The Big Three in Boston have a title and know how to win and what it takes to win. Something that is taken for granted through the eyes of fans. Garnett still has his toughness, and maybe he isn’t as quick as he used to be but he still has a killer shot and knows when to step up. Ray Allen, hasn’t aged at all. His three is still lights out, as well as his mid range jumper. And people can say nothing about Paul Pierce, after all his exciting plays this season. This play in particular….

There is no need to even watch past 0:24. I’m just saying, the Celtics still got it and although they may be looked upon as the old timers in a new generation they have some tricks up their sleeves. The Celtics may play with a chip on their shoulder and that means terror for other teams in the league.

10. KD Not Kidding Anymore

After barely beating the Grizzlies last year and losing to the Mavericks in the conference finals, KD knew he could never go through anything like that again. He was done losing, after getting his heart broken by the Lakers in the 1st round in ’10 and losing to Dallas in ’11 he knew he had to change. This summer he has wasted no time improving his game. Here is proof…..

I cannot wait to see Kevin Durant develop more as a player and as a scorer and bring Oklahoma City their much deserved ring.

9. Grizzlies Back on Their Grizzly

When the Grizzlies defeated the number 1 seeded Spurs in the west I was shocked. Heck, the whole world was shocked. The Spurs had been having a picture perfect season. 60 wins and the 1st seed in the West. They thought they had a legitimate chance at a title. Then the young, scrappy, Grizzlies came along and silenced San-Antonio and the NBA world. Then when they forced a game 7 against KD and the Thunder we began to really take them seriously. Unfortunately, they couldn’t push past the Thunder. However, they exited the playoffs with nothing to be ashamed of. They gave two of the best teams in the West a run for their money. They may have failed in the playoffs but succeeded in imprinting their game in everyone’s mind. Now that Mike Conley, Z-Bo, and Rudy Gay are back, the Grizzlies will enter this season as legitimate competition. I can’t wait to see more of their electrifying game.

8. Rookie Class

This year’s rookie class is nothing special. There are no Lebron’s, no Kobe’s, nobody that is an obvious star. However, that’s what makes it interesting. Anyone of the  rookies can jump out and surprise us, almost like Blake Griffin did with his first  NBA dunk. The favourites for Rookie of The Year are Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams. However, Enes Kanter, Kemba Walker, Jimmer Fredette and Ricky Rubio may want a piece of the spotlight. Maybe this rookie class isn’t filled with future stars but they are filled with exciting players.

7. Knicks Gelling

The new look Knicks played 42 games together last season, Melo and Amar’e brought  a glimmer of hope to the one city that needed it most. Now they hope to develop upon that and expand that glimmer of hope into a championship.  Due to Amar’e’s back injury during the 1st round of the playoff’s last year the Knicks didn’t have a chance. I believe if Amar’e had been fully healthy they would’ve played Miami in the 2nd round. The big question heading into this season, is how will Amar’e, Melo and Billups work together. Last season there was definitely some miscommunication on the court, but when these guys learn how to work together. Miami better watch their back.

6. D-Rose 2 Time MVP?

After D-Rose’s breakout season last year and the Bulls surprising success, I’m intrigued by what they will bring to the table this year. Lockdown defense is for sure. But can Derrick Rose match the stellar performance he gave last year.  He clearly has tricks up his sleeve, and if you haven’t seen his highlights from last season then prepare to be astounded….  

 The question is what will he surprise us with this season? A 50 point game? More killer crossovers? Unbelievable hops? D-Rose is unpredictable, but what we do know is that he will be eager to show everyone that last season’s success was no fluke. And that the Bulls and himself are here to stay among the elite.

 5. Lakers Redeem Themselves  

The Los Angeles Lakers suffered an embarrassing defeat in the Conference semi-finals to Dirk and the Mavs. Phil Jackson will try to forget his last series as a coach. He will try to forget Andrew Bynum throwing an elbow of frustration to J.J Barea. He will definitely try to forget being swept by Dallas. Now with a new coach, and a hungry Kobe, the Lakers can start on a clean slate. Everyone knows Kobe is angry and wants back on that throne. NBA fans everywhere, brace yourself for a Kobe overdrive.

4. Miami Back With a Vengeance  

Miami suffered at the hands of greatness last season when losing to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks in the finals. Everyone, including themselves called the season a failure. This summer Lebron, and D-Wade didn’t waste time sulking or lowering their heads. They’re focused on greatness and focused on championships so they’ve been hard at work preparing for this season….

 Now that Lebron, D-Wade, and Bosh have additional criticism and motivation from last season it will be interesting to see how they come back this season. I’m predicting full on domination.

  3. Blake Show is Back  

If you ask any fan what team was most exciting to watch last season I bet you more than half would say the Los Angeles Clippers. This young and talented squad showed true potential last year when the Blake Show came along. They even made the Lakers a little nervous about being the top team in Los Angeles. But, Blake Griffin and the rest of his crew are back with more experience and more flavour this year. I’m eager to see them in action and to see Blake throwing down monster jam’s this season.

 2. Dallas 2-Peat

 After winning a title last year, Dirk and the Mavericks must be careful about their throne. The Lakers will be back and ready to redeem themselves, Miami will have more firepower than ever, and every other team in the league wants a seat on top. Dallas are prime targets this season and the fact that Tyson Chandler hasn’t signed an extension should worry them more. They’re veteran roster must be ready for the new guys in town who will do anything to defeat them. I wonder if J-Kidd, Dirk and Jason Terry will have what it takes this year. It will be more than exciting to see them in the finals once again.

 1. CP3 and Superman

 The best center in the league and arguably the best point guard in the league are free agents next summer. CP3’s agent has released statements that he wants a bite out of the Big Apple and there is speculation the Dwight wants out. We know the Magic and Hornets will try to improve their rosters around their stars before it’s too late. We also know they will trade them to get the most out of them if their stars don’t agree to an extension. This will be the most exciting part of the season due to the impact that these players will make on any team. Imagine CP3, Melo and Amar’e in New York. They’d instantly be best in the East. Or if Dwight went to Los Angeles, the Lakers would instantly be best in the West. After the Melo-Drama and the free agent frenzy of 2010-2011 we have all grown to love stars teaming up. It will be exciting to follow the drama that surrounds these players all season.

Here We Go Again

The NBA is on it’s way, which means the trade rumours have already arrived. The curtain has dropped. The spotlight is on. The show has began. And with the show comes the drama.

Dallas Ditching Chandler?

On the first day that free agent contracts could be discussed, Tyson Chandler took away one thing from the day. He was getting traded. “I really think I’m going to be on a new team come training camp,” Chandler told ESPN.com on Wednesday. He believes Dallas won’t offer him the long term extension that he deserves. And he does deserve it. For three years in a row the Dallas Mavericks were 1st round dropouts. Disappointments to their city and to the NBA. But when Tyson Chandler came to town he changed the whole team. He brought height, he brought hustle and most of all motivated the team to play defense. It’s no coincidence that last year the Dallas Mavericks were 7th in points allowed per 100 posessions in 2010-2011 and were 12th, 15th and 17th the three years before that. He provided them with an inside presence in the finals and deserves a contract. His biggest worry is that Dallas may sign Nene over him. Nene and him are the two most coveted free agents this year.

Nene Fever:

The big man on the free agent campus this year is Nene. Teams from all over the league have shown interest in him. Dallas, Golden State, New Jersey, Denver, Houston, Indiana, Los Angeles (Clippers) and Portland were all teams who made contact with Nene’s agent on Wednesday. A perfect fit for Nene would be teams lacking an inside presence. Teams like Golden State, Denver and Houston. The Nets have shown interest in Nene due to Deron Williams’ statements that he would be far less inclined to re-sign a long-term deal with the Nets if they don’t immediately improve their roster.

Ron Artest…. I mean Metta World Peace:

It has been reported that the Los Angeles Lakers may waive Ron Artest….. I mean Metta World Peace’s over-priced contract. Although, the small forward is one of the best defenders in the league and filling the void later with other players is very difficult considering the type of defender he is. On the offensive side, he is in decline. Last season he averaged 8.5 points and it’s clear that his age may be taking a toll on his body and his speed. He doesn’t have the strength he once had (and I might regret this) but he’s become a  liability on offense. Letting go of his 3 year 21.5 million dollar contract would be a relief, causing the Lakers to save up to 27 million dollars in taxes and salary through 2013-2014.

Hollywood Wants Superman:

A minute doesn’t go by when we don’t wonder how many championships Shaq and Kobe could’ve won together had their problems not gotten in the way. Finally, years later Superman may be coming back to Hollywood. Not the one who has the superman logo on his bed. The one who wore the cape during his slam dunk performance. Jim Buss has said that he would trade Andrew Bynum “for the right deal.” The right deal or the deal that involves Dwight Howard? But Andrew Bynum may not be what the Magic are looking for in a replacement for Dwight and rumour has it that Andrew Bogut would be a better fit for them. I disagree but a three team deal has been circling, sending Dwight to the Lakers, Bogut to the Magic and Bynum to the Bucks. The Clippers also seem willing to do whatever it takes for Dwight. The Clippers have tons of young depth with players like Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan and Al-Farouq Aminu and can provide more assets in a trade with the Magic. Although, Dwight and Kobe together may look like a championship on paper. In reality they wouldn’t gel. Dwight loves the ball down in the post, he takes it in all day. And why wouldn’t you when you’re the most dominant player in the NBA. Then there is Kobe, who loves the ball on the perimeter and taking it to the hole. They are both types of players who demand the spotlight and I can’t see it working out.

Blazers and Brandon Roy:

A source had said that the TrailBlazers had waived Roy but team president Larry Miller firmly stated that, ”We have not, and regardless of what’s been said by John Canzano and others out there, (made a) decision on amnesty as of yet,” On January 17th of last season Brandon Roy underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees. He returned to the lineup on February 25th and scored 18 points off the bench. The rest of the season was a quiet one for Roy, he came off the bench for the whole season and averaged 12.5 points as supposed to his career average of 19 points a game. His future looked grim, until the playoffs came around and  Portland needed someone to step up. Brandon Roy came off the bench in Game 3 against the Mavericks and scored 16 points in 23 minutes. Larry Miller added, ”With everything that Brandon has done for this organization, there’s no way we would make a decision like that without having conversation with him, without evaluating where he is.” I wouldn’t give up on Roy yet, his knees may let him down at times but he showed that in big situations he can shine. He knows how to win and he is a valuable piece on any team.

Celtics Discussing Rondo Trades:

Just to be clear, the Celtics don’t want to get rid of Rondo. He is the future of their organisation and will be their saviour once Pierce, Allen and Garnett are gone. However, the Celtics are exploring options in exchange for Rondo. Danny Ainge said, “I don’t make any comments on trade rumors. I’m just not commenting on any of it. Everybody knows how valuable Rondo is to our team. I’ll talk to Rondo, but I don’t want to talk about it publicly.” I sense insecurity in the Celtics front office. They realise that their Big Three aren’t big news anymore, they are getting older and soon they won’t be able to compete with the up and coming talent in the league. Additionally, they realise Rondo isn’t the best Point Guard out there and it makes sense for them to get better. Rumours have circulated that a Rondo for Paul deal may be developing, although they are very vague rumours.

Grizz and Gasol:

After last years semi-breakout season for Marc Gasol teams are showing more interest in him now that he’s a free agent. He provided Memphis with defense, hustle and a quick inside presence that Tim Duncan and the 1st place Spurs couldn’t handle. The Grizzlies organization have shown interest in keeping him. “Obviously, we want to sit down and try to make a deal with Marc,” Heisley said. “I’m committed to keeping him.” Gasol has made it clear that he would like to return to Memphis this season. However, they may not have enough money to satisfy Gasol after agreeing to contract extensions with Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and Mike Conley. All we know now is that the Grizzlies want Gasol and Gasol wants the Grizzlies. Personally, I would love to see last year’s team come back stronger this year and make it back to the playoffs. Every time they stepped onto the floor, the game was bound to be exciting. They were the most energetic team in the NBA and it was a joy to watch them burst through the playoffs and surprise everybody.

Changes Needed: Spurs

Spurs. They looked like the favorite for the NBA title during the regular season, they played lockdown defense, they played efficient offense and the veteran Spurs were looking at another good year at work. That was until they got embarrassed by the 8th seeded Grizzlies. As their team gets older and slower they need to start getting some young players around their team to start up another dynasty once their big 3 leaves. Improvements this summer are essential, so this is what they need.

The main reason they lost to the Grizzlies was because the Memphis big men killed them in the post with their speed, their quickness, their moves, and they’re aggressiveness. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol pounded them inside and succeeded because Tim Duncan is no longer the defensive anchor he once was. Let’s face it, as much as we like to think of Tim Duncan as an all-star and as a great power forward. He no longer is. He helps his team with leadership, screens, rebounds and effort but he can’t help them that much offensively or defensively. Tiago Splitter showed some potential but not enough to take the Spurs past the 1st round next year. Dejuan Blair has showed tons of potential and promise in his two years in the league but he is only a big 6’9. They need a 7 foot youngster to protect the paint and play in the low post. Then they need a consistent back up scorer, someone like James Harden. Richard Jefferson is old and more inconsistent than the British weather. He’ll score 15 points one game and 2 points the next. Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker aren’t going to be able to hold the scoring load for the whole team. They need a consistent 6th man.

Youth overall is a must for this team. They’re three best players are all in their 30’s. They need some youth in their starting lineup as well as they’re bench. I look forward to seeing them reconstruct their team with more youth and fresh talent. It will be sad to see the classic Spurs broken up but the team has had a good run I just think with all the talented up and coming teams, like the Thunder and Bulls, the Spurs won’t get very far come playoff time.

Changes Are Needed: Knicks

I realize every NBA fan right now is caught up in the heat and excitement of the conference finals. I have been thinking more and more about the teams that havebeen eliminated from the playoffs so far this year. The Celtics, Knicks, Lakers, Grizzlies, 76ers, Spurs, Pacers, Magic, Nuggets, Trail Blazers, Hornets, and Hawks. Some of these teams were completely blown out of the postseason, but some of these teams, to peoples surprise were very close till the end of the series. I just feel like some of these teams were robbed of their spot in the postseason by injuries, or last second shots. I’m interested to see how these teams come out next season, and how there team has changed or hasn’t. I have a few suggestions for each team. I’ll begin with the Knicks, as they were the first team eliminated from the postseason.

The Knicks-Celtics series was highly anticipated, and the two games in Boston were won by a total of three points. The two in New York were blowouts from beginning till end. If the Knicks had executed in the last minute of the 4th quarters in those two games the series might have been different. Of course they have injuries to blame, Billups was injured in the end of game 1 and didn’t play the rest of the series. Amar’e Stoudemire injured his back by trying a stupid dunk in the pre-game shootarounds. He was shaken up for the rest of the series, and didn’t play the second half of game 2. I anticipate a big season for this team next year, they will have gelled for more than 30 or so games and their chemistry should be at 100%. What has to change for them in the postseason?

Defense. Defense, Defense, Defense. That’s what wins championships, their defense in the first two games was amazing. Then you have to look back at the 70 or so games where their defense was too atrocious to watch for 48 minutes. The defense can be blamed on everyone on the team. It all starts with Amar’e and Melo committing on defense. Melo played some great defense towards the end of the season but Amar’e didn’t put in enough effort. They’re the leaders of this team and of New York they need to show the rest of the team that defense is the most important part of basketball. That’s what they’re missing from their game. That’s what sets them apart from the elite group in the NBA. They have enough offensive fire power, more than a lot of the elite teams in the NBA. It’s the defense that will hold them back. They also need Mike D’antoni to stop being so stubborn and coach defense instead of his stupid 7 second offense. He has to be fired to begin next season if he can’t stress defense enough. Besides defense there is roster changes that need to be made. They need a shooting guard, Landry Fields was having an amazing rookie season until Melo came over. His confidence dropped like a bomb. If they can’t improve his confidence, or reboot his energy then they have to get a new shooting guard. They have to get a new one anyway, he would be a solid 6th man on any other team. They also need a defensive minded big man to man the middle with STAT. They’re inside men aren’t intimidating like the Magic or Thunder. They need a tough defensive minded 7 footer. Who will think only about the paint and protecting the rim. Point Guards aren’t afraid of getting into the New York paint because there is nobody who will challenge them, Amar’e is too scared of fouling out and Ronny Turiaf is good but he is foul prone. They need a player like Anderson Varejao, or Samuel Dalembert.

These are just suggestions for the Knicks to transform into an elite team next year. I expect a big season from the NY big 3, and the rest of the team. We’ll see.

Mavericks-Thunder Series Preview.

Many thought they were too young, too inexperienced. Many thought they weren’t ready, weren’t prepared. All the haters were silenced tonight when the Thunder inked their status in the elite group in the NBA when beating the 8th seeded Grizzlies in the conference semifinals, and advancing to the conference finals. The only problem is that now they have to face one of the mayors of the elite group. The Dallas Mavericks.  Many thought Dallas wouldn’t be able to hold off the defending champs, but they did. In championship like fashion. Both of these teams have silenced the nay-sayers and are sitting promptly in the conference finals, awaiting their tough competition.

Just like the Heat-Bulls series, this should series should be a serious offensive struggle. The Mavericks held the TrailBlazers to 88 points in 6 games, and the Lakers to 92 points in 4 games. The Thunder held the Nuggets to 97 points in 5 games, and the Grizzlies to 114 points, but game 4 went into triple overtime.

For the Thunder to win this series, there are a lot of things that come into play. Not all of them are basketball related. They are going up against one of the oldest teams in the NBA, that means they’re going to get tired quicker, and aren’t going to be as fast but that also means they are very strong mentally, and have a high basketball IQ. Playoff games can get heated, and players can get mad, but the Mavericks don’t usually lose their grip on the game. If the Thunder’s young and inexperienced players can’t handle the very heated playoff games against a contained Maverick team, then they won’t be able to play a whole 7 game series and advance to the finals.

Now onto the basketball related factors. Russell Westbrook, a superstar, and a quick, athletic point guard will be matching up against a 38 year old veteran in Jason Kidd. You probably know what I am going to say. Westbrook is going to run all over Kidd that he’ll have to come out every 5 minutes to catch his breath. Russell can jump higher so J-Kidd will have trouble getting a hand in his face when shooting, he is slower so Russell will beat him off the dribble much easier, causing the big men to come out and guard him and leaving a corner 3-pointer open. He has to take advantage of this mismatch, if he does then this will be a much easier series for him and the Thunder. Another factor for winning is that they have to keep Dirk Nowitzki under control. That, of course is easier said than done. Pau Gasol couldn’t guard him so what makes anyone think Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, or Kendrick Perkins will be able to. He is taller and much too quick for Collison and Perkins. Ibaka will have to guard him. He played very good defense on Zach Randolph in the post, but now he will have to be running more around curls for Nowitzki, or trying to prevent his nearly unstoppable jump shot. They don’t want to double on Nowitzki because then Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic will be left open, and we know what happens when they’re left wide open. Ibaka has to be up for the challenge, if he can’t contain Nowitzki then this series is pretty much over before it began. Another thing they have to do to win is take advantage of the mismatch at the small forward position. Unlike Memphis, and Denver, the Mavericks have no gritty, tough, good perimeter defenders to handle the Durantula. Shawn Marion will most likely guard him, but Durant is quicker, more athletic, and just too talented for Marion to cover. This means Durant has to be very aggressive on offense, trying to drive to the hoop as much as possible, and taking quick dribbles and pull up jumpers. If he and Westbrook can take care of their mismatches then they’ll be in great shape.

For the Mavericks, it’s a different story. They’re going to need J.J Barea to be on his top game in this series. Jason Kidd most likely won’t be able to guard Westbrook, so that means Barea will see much more playing time in this series. He has to be able to play confidently, he has to guard Westbrook toughly and drive by him when he has the chance to. Then we have to look at the big men. Tyson Chandler will be key in this series. He will be guarded by Perkins, and Collison. He is taller then both of them, and quicker then both of them. He has to take advantage of his speed, and size down low for the Mavs to be able to win. He has to box out effectively, and jump on the glass whenever he can. Dallas should try to run some pick and rolls for Chandler, because with Kidd’s passing ability, and the center’s not being able to catch up with Chandler when he rolls, Chandler should have some easy dunks this series. Handling Durant will be the toughest mission for the Mavericks in this series. Shawn Marion, or Peja Stojakovic will have to guard him. Neither are talented enough defensively to handle the best scorer in the league. They may have to double Durant, the Thunder won’t have that many options to pass out of the double team to, there is always Westbrook but Sefolosha isn’t a dangerous shooter, nor is Harden consistently, that is.

This series will come down to guarding the star players. If the Thunder can contain Nowitzki, they’ll be in better shape. If the Mavs can contain Durant then they’ll be in better shape. We’ll see when the series starts. If I had to make a prediction right now. I’d give this series to the Mavericks in 6 games.

Grizz Without Gay.

When the playoffs began, nobody, I repeat nobody would’ve thought that the Memphis Grizzlies would be entering a tough game 7 against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference semi-finals. It seemed like mission impossible, it seemed like wishing on a star, but the fans in Memphis definitely got their wish.

All of this happened without Rudy Gay. Their young budding superstar. He and Zach Randolph were supposed to lead this team to greatness, together. They were going to be the one-two punch that would lead Memphis deep in the playoffs. Then Gay suffered a left shoulder injury against the 76ers on the 15th of February. That was the end they thought, the Memphis hopes died down, and they didn’t expect to go very far. Then they signed Shane Battier, got Tony Allen to step up on defense, got Gasol to play more aggressively in the post. When they adjusted to playing without Gay, they were back in business.

Throughout the postseason, they have been known for they’re play on the boards, their tough defense, they’re hustle for loose balls, they’re tough low post presence, and they’re hunger for winning. All of this without Gay. When Gay got injured they focused their offense more on Zach Randolph and focused their game more on defense then offense. How would they have played this postseason without Gay? There are many different vantage points we could look at it from. One, if they had Rudy Gay then they would have their offense focus on the offensive drives of Rudy Gay and the low post skill of Randolph. Which would help to spread the floor, and give the offense more options. It would also make it harder for teams to double team Z-Bo because then you have Rudy Gay wide open for a shot. If you look at it like that then they could kill teams with their offense as well as their defense. Or we could look at it like this. Rudy Gay wouldn’t put in enough effort on defense that the Grizzlies are known for. He is a strong perimeter defender, but don’t expect him to dive into the stands after a loose ball, or dive on the floor for a steal. He’s just not that type of player, but hey, not a lot of budding superstars are. With all of his playing time, then Tony Allen and Shane Battier wouldn’t play as much, therefore all those hustle plays that have helped them get this far wouldn’t have happened.

I hate hypotheticals but you have to wonder how Rudy would have effected their play in the playoffs. There is an upside and a downside. For now, good luck Grizzlies, and get better Gay.