The Baller Shots Way-Too-Brief Nightly Preview

I’m currently writing this while sick as a dog, surrounded by glasses of OJ and snot-filled tissues, so forgive me for any errors. I just had to put something down on this blog, because tonight… tonight is BALL NIGHT!

Finally, the association’s hot-n-fresh season has been brought to our table, and we’re almost positive that the waitress is flirting with us. That is to say, nothing could go wrong with this season. There’s too many entertaining teams, and too many juicy storylines, and tonight is a prime example of both.

Between the quest for a third straight championship and the return of Derrick Rose, the Heat and the Bulls have been pegged as two of the top contenders for the NBA championship, yet neither fan base is sitting comfortably. The national media has overlooked just how frequently Bulls players get hurt. Rose, Deng, Noah, and Boozer have all spent MONTHS out of the lineup at least once in the past three years. The Bulls training and medical staff is one of the most maligned in the NBA, and the way Coach Thibodeau distributes minutes leads me to believe we will see 10+ starts for Dunleavy, Mohammed, Gibson, and/or Kirk Hinrich (presuming he stays healthy himself). The lack of an “off switch” on this Bulls team makes them one of the most admirable and respected teams in the league, but it don’t mean shit if you can’t put your best team on the court for the most important games: the playoffs. I love Jimmy Butler, but the poor kid has already played way too many 48-minute games. Depth is an issue here, folks.

One of the teams the Bulls will likely encounter in the playoffs will be the Heat, whose on-off switch problem doesn’t lie with the team, rather the individual players. Wade and Bosh’s consistency issues were apparent through all last season, including the playoffs. There are rumors, however, that Wade has bulked up quite a bit, and Bosh is finally adapting to his role as a center. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if we saw Bosh be able to play the PF spot more frequently, now that he’s flanked by Birdman and Oden. Throw in the fact that EVERY PLAYER except Andersen and Cole are playing on either an expiring contract or a player option, it’s not hard to see this Miami team actually somehow playing better than last year. KEEP GETTIN’ DEM CHECKS, RASHARD!

The other matchup tonight is for my fellow morbidly curious NBA fans. We’re the kinds of fans that enjoy seeing a late-season Bobcats-Raptors game, just to see who gets put out on the floor. We enjoy seeing a first round matchup between the Heat and whatever poor souls are in the 8-seed. The Lakers looks like they’ll be able to provide such disgusting basketball all season long, Kobe or not. With holdovers like Steve Blake and Jordan Hill mixed with signings like Nick Young and Chris Kaman, this team would be on a path for middle-of-the-road mediocrity. But I got a good feeling about Pau Gasol, you guys (famous last words). If it weren’t for the existence of Mike D’Antoni, I’d say these guys could threaten to grab an 8 or 7-seed. Except Mike D’Antoni does exist, and he is a horrible, system-stuck coach. Why is he coaching this team? I’ve never seen a coach want to coach less than Mike D’Antoni. Ya Pringles-lookin motherfucker.

Anyways, the Clippers are officially the kings of LA now, with a bonafide great coach in Doc Rivers, and pretty good talent. I say pretty good, because if you look at the peak talent level overall, they are pretty good. Full-on good, really. They have really impressive depth at their guard and forward spots, though if they’re going to look to Hollins and Mullens as their backup centers, they could get themselves in trouble defending the paint.

Of course, the real issue will be whether or not Rivers can get Paul and Griffin/Jordan on the same page. Griffin has gotten tagged as a bit of a sensitive (read: whiny) player by the media, and the word is Paul is getting a bit title-obsessed. Rivers’ timetable for success may be shorter than it seems, but considering his presence will upgrade a team that won 56 games last year, he won’t need much time at all.

Alright, I’m going to try to do these on a daily basis, but if I end up, uh, not doing that, well… there ya go. I am trying to make more frequent, original contributions to this blog, so if there’s anything you’d like to hear my words on, just let me know!

When the Great Ones F**k Up
14 turnovers. 37% from the floor. Errant threes, missed layups, wild passes, butterfingers, and general poor decision-making haunted the Spurs last night. Still, they kept it so close, even taking the lead at certain points. The situation was the same in Game Six, two nights prior, when they had a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. That’s where the frustration comes in. For players, for coaches, and for fans.
I had no rooting interest in this series, but my hope was to see perfect basketball. Two teams playing at their finest, two heavyweights smart enough to wait for an opening to jab, and a chance to counter off a block. I expected a level of sloppiness from certain Heat players, of course. Wario Chalmers was on the warpath, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were alternating games in which the other would actually show up (Bosh took Game 7 off after Wade took off Game 6), and aside from a breathtaking clutch-as-f**k three from Ray Allen, the cadre of outside shooters at the Heat’s disposal had ben relatively quiet.
For many seasons now, though, nobody has bothered to expect that from the Spurs. They’re the machine, after all. So smooth and intelligent. The blueprint for how a basketball team should play, by focusing on the very word team. They’re not unbeatable, true, but they don’t beat themselves. At least, we hadn’t seen them beat themselves, until last night.
First of all, a ton of credit does go to the Heat’s defense. They played like they had been coached to: smothering, quick, and frightening. But there’s not a chance in hell they expected Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker to fumble the ball as frequently as they did. I had never seen Parker literally lose the ball without anybody touching him before. He just lost control while dribbling upcourt. What of the horrible passes of Manu Ginobili? Just passing right to Heat defenders, or even out of bounds. Nobody could control the ball once they got their hands on it, and it cost them dearly. Like the apex predator of the Heat himself, LeBron James, once Miami saw an opening, even for a split second, they took it, and they killed.
The amount of times I scremed MANU WHAT ARE YOU DOING? is beyond count. Even the last play the Spurs ran, the second-to-last chance they had, Manu got the ball, ran towards the basket at full speed, and… nothing. He got clogged up behind the basket. Where was he going? What was the plan? He tossed it away without even looking, a disgusting, inexplicable turnover. Manu also took the last shot for the Spurs, a hideous contested three. The past two games have been so horrible for Manu, the rumors that he’ll retire are running rampant.
Tony Parker’s “hero ball” was embarrassing to watch going up against LeBron James. The amount of blown drives and missed shots were baffling with Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard being on fire, and so many long-ball shooters waiting on the perimeter, wide open. What’s the point of having a great mind and a great distributor when they lose control like he did?
Danny Green was mentally destroyed last night, continuing a bad trend that started in Game 6. After five games of earning his spot and proving so valuable that he was in consideration for Finals MVP, Green went 2-19 the past two games. Despite his good defense, Dwyane Wade kept taking shots right in his face… and making them. That could not have helped his mental state, but for him, Tiago Splitter, the amazing Kawhi Leonard, and Gary Neal, they have games ahead of them. They can get rid of these haunting memories in the future.
For Tim Duncan, that might not be the case.
Duncan was amazing all series, averaging a 19 and 12, and shooting 49%. If you take out the ugly blowout loss to Miami, he averaged 20 ppg on 52% shooting. Statistically, that’s pretty amazing for someone his age, but more importantly, he passed the eye test with flying colors. Every time he got the ball in the paint, it seemed like he put up another silky turn-around one-hander off the glass and right through the hoop. Duncan was a bonafide force in this series, and towards the end of Game 7, when the Spurs were down by just a few points, Duncan started playing angry, swatting away low-fives offered to him by teammates, and sinking line-drive free throws with impatience. In the end, though, with the Spurs down two, 49 seconds to play, he had the ball four feet from the rim. He smoothly lays it up, despite the defense.
Miss. Rebounds it. Puts it up again, this time virtually at the rim.
Miss. Bosh rebounds it. Timeout Miami. Duncan can’t believe it. Twitter can’t believe it. Even the Miami fans can’t believe it.
On the ensuing play, LeBron makes an open jumper from 19 feet after Parker moves to defend Battier, forcing a too-distant Kawhi Leonard to quickly move into position, only to be able to stretch his arm and hope this somehow phases the greatest player of this generation, a man who has sought from day one to silence those who criticize his “clutchness”. Kawhi could’ve been in LeBron’s shorts, punched him right in the balls, speared him like Goldberg onto Raven, and LeBron still would’ve made that shot.
The Spurs f**ked up. LeBron did not.

When the Great Ones F**k Up

14 turnovers. 37% from the floor. Errant threes, missed layups, wild passes, butterfingers, and general poor decision-making haunted the Spurs last night. Still, they kept it so close, even taking the lead at certain points. The situation was the same in Game Six, two nights prior, when they had a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. That’s where the frustration comes in. For players, for coaches, and for fans.

I had no rooting interest in this series, but my hope was to see perfect basketball. Two teams playing at their finest, two heavyweights smart enough to wait for an opening to jab, and a chance to counter off a block. I expected a level of sloppiness from certain Heat players, of course. Wario Chalmers was on the warpath, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were alternating games in which the other would actually show up (Bosh took Game 7 off after Wade took off Game 6), and aside from a breathtaking clutch-as-f**k three from Ray Allen, the cadre of outside shooters at the Heat’s disposal had ben relatively quiet.

For many seasons now, though, nobody has bothered to expect that from the Spurs. They’re the machine, after all. So smooth and intelligent. The blueprint for how a basketball team should play, by focusing on the very word team. They’re┬ánot unbeatable, true, but they don’t beat themselves. At least, we hadn’t seen them beat themselves, until last night.

First of all, a ton of credit does go to the Heat’s defense. They played like they had been coached to: smothering, quick, and frightening. But there’s not a chance in hell they expected Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker to fumble the ball as frequently as they did. I had never seen Parker literally lose the ball without anybody touching him before. He just lost control while dribbling upcourt. What of the horrible passes of Manu Ginobili? Just passing right to Heat defenders, or even out of bounds. Nobody could control the ball once they got their hands on it, and it cost them dearly. Like the apex predator of the Heat himself, LeBron James, once Miami saw an opening, even for a split second, they took it, and they killed.

The amount of times I scremed MANU WHAT ARE YOU DOING? is beyond count. Even the last play the Spurs ran, the second-to-last chance they had, Manu got the ball, ran towards the basket at full speed, and… nothing. He got clogged up behind the basket. Where was he going? What was the plan? He tossed it away without even looking, a disgusting, inexplicable turnover. Manu also took the last shot for the Spurs, a hideous contested three. The past two games have been so horrible for Manu, the rumors that he’ll retire are running rampant.

Tony Parker’s “hero ball” was embarrassing to watch going up against LeBron James. The amount of blown drives and missed shots were baffling with Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard being on fire, and so many long-ball shooters waiting on the perimeter, wide open. What’s the point of having a great mind and a great distributor when they lose control like he did?

Danny Green was mentally destroyed last night, continuing a bad trend that started in Game 6. After five games of earning his spot and proving so valuable that he was in consideration for Finals MVP, Green went 2-19 the past two games. Despite his good defense, Dwyane Wade kept taking shots right in his face… and making them. That could not have helped his mental state, but for him, Tiago Splitter, the amazing Kawhi Leonard, and Gary Neal, they have games ahead of them. They can get rid of these haunting memories in the future.

For Tim Duncan, that might not be the case.

Duncan was amazing all series, averaging a 19 and 12, and shooting 49%. If you take out the ugly blowout loss to Miami, he averaged 20 ppg on 52% shooting. Statistically, that’s pretty amazing for someone his age, but more importantly, he passed the eye test with flying colors. Every time he got the ball in the paint, it seemed like he put up another silky turn-around one-hander off the glass and right through the hoop. Duncan was a bonafide force in this series, and towards the end of Game 7, when the Spurs were down by just a few points, Duncan started playing angry, swatting away low-fives offered to him by teammates, and sinking line-drive free throws with impatience. In the end, though, with the Spurs down two, 49 seconds to play, he had the ball four feet from the rim. He smoothly lays it up, despite the defense.

Miss. Rebounds it. Puts it up again, this time virtually at the rim.

Miss. Bosh rebounds it. Timeout Miami. Duncan can’t believe it. Twitter can’t believe it. Even the Miami fans can’t believe it.

On the ensuing play, LeBron makes an open jumper from 19 feet after Parker moves to defend Battier, forcing a too-distant Kawhi Leonard to quickly move into position, only to be able to stretch his arm and hope this somehow phases the greatest player of this generation, a man who has sought from day one to silence those who criticize his “clutchness”. Kawhi could’ve been in LeBron’s shorts, punched him right in the balls, speared him like Goldberg onto Raven, and LeBron still would’ve made that shot.

The Spurs f**ked up. LeBron did not.