NBA Playoffs 2009 Western Conference Finals: Lakers Win, Taunting Kobe Unwise

May 24, 2009


by Jack Maidment

Do not annoy, provoke, taunt or shout at Kobe Bryant when he is playing on the road.

Apparently people do not learn.

Bryant has been in the League long enough for the entire world to know that any sort of abuse away from home only makes him play even better.

Let us ask the Denver Nuggets.

Returning to the Mile High City the Nuggets held the advantage in the Western Conference Finals after stealing home court in LA. 1-1 and the safety of the building in which they have not been beaten all post season.

Unfortunately for Denver, the Lakers All-Star, future Hall of Famer, kinda likes ruining parties and he marked game 3 with his 3rd plus 40 point outburst of this post season and with it brought tears to a Denver team who were firmly on the charge to the Big Dance.

No Encouragement Needed

No Encouragement Needed

Bryant said after the game that he had nothing in his legs in the 4th when he stepped to the line for free throws, but that the booing and taunts from the Denver faithful reminded him of what was at stake. Re-focusing a tired mind if you will.

So, here is an idea.

Just shut up.

Why antagonise the closer in The Game when you already know that he will play to a higher level just to spite you.

Shhhhhhh. No, really. Put down the foam fingers and the little bat ball things and just let silence reign. Take away some of his ammunition.

It’s like you are Jack and you just climbed the Beanstalk only to find the Giant asleep.

“Hey! Wake up! You’re supposed to be eating me right now. Come on!”

Just. Be. Quiet.

Regardless of the fact that Kobe came up big, he must have been mighty grateful that some of his team mates turned up last night, unlike the Cleveland Cavaliers the other night who left their Star stranded and alone. 1 V 5? Only LeBron.

Just a quick aside. Conference Finals. How about teams learn to run an inbounds play? Especially in the last minute of the game.

Admittedly LeBron’s rainbow miracle is a little hard to criticise defensively because it was simply an amazing shot from an amazing player. But, you think that the Magic will leave a guy close to the inbounder if their happens to be a second on the clock again?

Unlikely. Two men, both on LeBron.

In the same vein, the Nuggets need to realise that there is this guy who plays for the LA Lakers called Trevor Ariza whose middle name happens to be ‘hustle’.

Twice in 3 games he has stole the ball on an inbounds play in the 4th effectively ending Denver’s hopes.

Read the scouting reporting and quit being lazy when the game is on the line.

Or just do what Chauncey Billups does. Inbound the ball of off Kobe’s back and lay it in yourself. Cheeky.

Perhaps that is the real reason that Kobe went big in Game 3. Either way, just don’t annoy the man.

He is a Giant.


NBA Playoffs Conference Semi Finals: Dallas Must Fear Denver’s Fire Power

May 2, 2009


Denver. Dallas.

Not many people would have predicted that Semi Final match up at the start of the season. 

Dallas was steadily fading away, unable to blend the mercurial talent of Jason Kidd into their system. Unable to gag their owner. Unable to find their bench. 

Denver was doing their best impression of the Incredible Hulk. At any time they were as likely to go crazy and score 200 points as they were to crumble and fall to League worst teams. 

Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony were happily pouring in the points safe in the knowledge that as a franchise they were treading water. They did not have the discipline or commitment to team defense to propel them to Post Season success. 

However, it is amazing what a few trades and a little bit of time can do. 

Turns out that all the Mavericks needed was a season to gel and start firing. Kidd started looking like the player that he was when he led New Jersey deep into the Playoffs and the Dallas bench began to up its production largely due to Jason Terry’s move to Sixth Man. 

Denver did what all teams in the hunt for a Championship do and traded away their best defensive player for a bag of skittles and bottle of Coke. Wait. What? 

Marcus Camby departed for the Wonderland of the Los Angeles Clippers while the Nuggets welcomed back their Brazilian Beast Nene who had missed the previous season through illness. 

One trade was not enough, so Denver pulled the itchy trigger again, shipping the League’s once best and still prolific scorer Allen Iverson to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Chauncey Mr Big Shot Billups. 

Billups has brought veteran leadership and a defensive mentality to a team that desperately needed a father figure. Thanks to Billups, the Nuggets learnt the power of defense. 

Suddenly the starting line up looked like it could be something special, perfectly complimented by a freakishly athletic bench led by JR Smith and Chris Anderson.

And so, here we are, Denver meet Dallas for the chance to play in the Conference Finals. 

Who is more worried by the series? Dallas. Unquestionably. They know full well how dangerous the Nuggets are having not taken a game from them all season, losing all four games. 

The run and gun fun may have been tamed, but the fire power remains. No playoff calibre team can hang with Denver when they turn on the coring tap, aside from the Lakers. 

For the Mavericks, it depends on what Chauncey Billups turns up to play. In the first round he shot 65.5% from three point land. If he does that again Dallas may as well stay in Texas and get the BBQ on. Just about un-guardable. 

However, Dallas does have a chance. They just have to take their chance and avoid a slow start against a hungry Denver that will be punished.

If the Mavericks can shoot the lights out in the series and JJ Barea can stay effective and Josh Howard’s ankle holds and Dirk comes up big then Mark Cuban’s boys will be in the mix. Not much to do then. 

The smart money would certainly be on the Denver Nuggets who are too smart and too athletic to not capitalise on the opposition’s weaknesses. Billups will look to post up Barea and the consequences do not bare thinking about. 

For the simple fact that Denver has more difference makers than Dallas, the Nuggets will win this series. 

The Bird Man’s blocks, Nene and K-Mart’s presence inside, Chauncey’s defense and 3 ball, Melo’s scoring and JR Smith’s wild card ability to embarrass opponents should easily out match the Mavericks.

See you in the Conference Finals Denver.

NBA Playoffs Loom: LeBron Loses Back-To-Back, West Wide Open, Anything Could Happen.

April 6, 2009
Big Dance Finalists?

Big Dance Finalists?

Some things change and some things do not. It is an old adage and yet the message retains it’s potent truth, especially in the fast paced world of the 21st century. No where is change assured than in the NBA. Check it out:


Last week the Cavaliers were being billed as favourites for the Championships, seemingly unbeatable, irresistibly maintaining their momentum which has been building toward victory at the Big Dance. What a difference a few days can make.


LeBron and his Cavaliers flew into Washington assuming nothing but a convincing, and in all likelihood, an easy W. But the Wizards did their best to reinforce a lopsided rivalry by dropping Cleveland, simultaneously planting seeds of doubt into the minds of every NBA fan, coach, player, critic, as to the Cavaliers apparent invincibility.


But slip-ups happen, right? Yes, indeed they do, but the Cavaliers’ response, crushed by Orlando, was not what LeBron and his team needed. Back to back losses this close to the post season is far from ideal preparation.


Luckily for the Cavs, just about everyone has been flawed the past few weeks. The Lakers loss to the Bobcats highlighted that any team, especially those already buried, can inflict fairly disastrous losses even to the League’s best. What looked like a certain Lakers-Cavaliers Finals is now looking far less concrete, and even if LeBron-Kobe does take place, who will have home court advantage is also still to be decided, ensuring a competitive and driven finish to the regular season.


The Eastern semis look fairly predictable, with 3 of the 4 spots (Cavs, Celts, Magic) likely alrwady decided, barring some first round heroics from one of the East’s lower seeded teams. There is nothing so cast-iron out West, with anyone from 7 teams capable of occupying the other 3 places in the Conference semis.

The Lakers will be there. But who will join? Given their pedigree, the Spurs should progress. And Denver just won’t go away despite many people questioning how they have come to be the 2nd seed out West. And I like a young a exciting Portland team.


Truthfully however, anything could happen. Change is a certainty, as illustrated by the sad demise of the Suns.


The Big Dance awaits.