With last years MVP sidelined for the majority of the first quarter of the NBA season, it is safe to say that we will have a new winner of the Maurice Podoloff Trophy for the 2014-15 year. While I am sure that Kevin Durant will return to his natural form and be a dominant player once again, he just won’t have enough time this season to bolster the stats that an MVP needs. This news opens the door for some old familiar faces to regain their seat on top of the throne or even maybe some new blood making their mark in NBA history.
Some people say that the MVP award is a meaningless popularity contest, but the truth of the matter is that anyone who has won the MVP award has made it into the Basketball Hall of Fame (this obviously only includes the HOF eligible players). Here are our Top 5 candidates to claim their place among the best of the best for this season based on how they have performed through the first 20+ games.
1. Stephen Curry (23.5 PPG, 7.6 APG, 5.2 RPG, 1.9 SPG)
The above stat line alone is enough to prove Curry’s skills. Steph is currently in the top 10 in the NBA in points (5th), assists (6th) and steals (8th). How about the fact that he is the best player on the team with the best record in the NBA. If you are like me and are addicted to the NBA League Pass, then you probably watch as much Warriors games as possible due to their exciting nature of game play. I haven’t enjoyed watching a team in the NBA play as much as these Warriors since the high-flying Chris Webber led Sacramento Kings 15 years ago. The “Splash Brothers” (Steph and Klay) are taking the NBA by storm and it doesn’t seem like anyone can slow them down. If the Warriors can finish as strong as they have started then there is no doubt in my mind that Curry will be this years MVP.
2. James Harden (26.3 PPG, 6.7 APG, 6.4 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 1.1 BPG)
I will start by saying that I have never really been a big fan of Harden’s game style. Having said that, what he has done in the first 20+ games of this season has been nothing short of incredible. With the softest big man in the game, Dwight Howard, being sidelined for most of the beginning of the season due to “knee soreness,” Harden has stepped up and helped lead the Rockets to an 18-5 start (third best in the NBA). While outside of Kobe Bryant, I feel Harden is the biggest chucker the game has to offer, he has still provided a huge lift for his team. He doesn’t play much defense but he does fill the passing lane as well as anyone else in the game. His assist and rebound numbers are admirable for a selfish shooting guard like himself. He shoots a ridiculous amount of free throws a game which helps raise his PPG but if he ever wants to win the trophy that his former teammate did last year, he better tighten up his turnovers (4.2/game) and his shooting percentage (41%).
3. LeBron James (25.6 PPG, 7.8 APG, 5.5 RPG, 1.4 SPG)
The craziest thing about The King’s stat line through the first quarter of the season is that he is actually below his career averages in pretty much every major category outside of assists. Even with this “slow” start, LeBron is still dominating in a way that only he can. His Cavaliers have seemed like they figured out their early season struggles and now they are starting to look like a younger, faster, more talented version of last years Miami Heat. James has worked diligently on perfecting his game management, and while his turnover numbers are nothing to brag about his assists (7.8/game) are his highest in five years. With any dips in Harden’s or Curry’s games, LeBron will be reeling in his 5th MYP award assuming that my 4th MVP pick doesn’t continue his historic start.
4. Anthony Davis (24.6 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 2.7 BPG, 1.8 SPG)
We all knew that one day Uni-brow Davis would be one of the best players in the game. What we didn’t know is that it would happen so quickly. If the Hornets had a slightly better record than 12-12 I might have put Davis higher on this list. Whether Davis gets his first MVP award or not this year, I can guarantee one thing and that is that Davis will hands-down be the Defensive Player of the Year. The offensive arsenal that Davis has along with his ability to make his opponents look foolish on the defensive end makes him one of the best franchise players in the game. I would go on to argue that Davis is the best #1 pick of the draft since Lebron. If New Orleans can stay healthy as a team and Davis can continue his torrid run, there is a distinct possibility that AD can hoist the MVP trophy come years end.
5. Marc Gasol (19.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.7 BPG, 1.0 SPG)
While my top 4 picks seem to make Gasol’s numbers look mediocre, the fact of the matter is that Gasol probably means more to his respective teams success than the rest of my top 5 do. Let’s try to forget about the fact that Gasol just lead his team to a very impressive victory over the 1st place Warriors to end their 16 game winning streak. Gasol is a hard-nosed athlete that does all the little things to go along with all the massive things he brings to his team. A perfect nickname for Gasol would be Mr. Fundamental but since Tim Duncan already owns that moniker, I will coin Gasol’s new nickname. I shall dub him Mr. Essential! He scores, he rebounds, he shuts down some of the best big men in the game and he does all this while rarely ever being recognized. It’s a long shot for him but who’s to say that Marc can’t claim the best of the best prize this year.
It is still extremely early in the season and these top 5 can change in an instance. I want to know if you agree or disagree with any of my picks. Let’s see what my list looks like in 20 games.
If you are still reading this article after that absurdly bold prediction in the title, I appreciate it. One can take a look at that heading and completely bash the article without even reading it but I can assure you that I have some facts, and opinions, to back it up. The beginning of the Knicks season has been absolutely atrocious to say the least and they hadn’t given their fans any signs of hope until recently. From James Dolan representing himself as the Jerry Jones of the NBA and the Knicks showing 0% of the team chemistry that won them 54 games and the Atlantic title last season, New York has been the laughing-stock of the league. So with their star player with basically one foot out the door, why do I feel that these horrid Knicks will turn it around? I’m glad you asked.
1. Texas Trip Turnaround
In the Knicks most recent 3-game road trip to Texas, every analyst predicted that New York would be manhandled from San Antonio to Houston and finally in Dallas. If you watched those 3 games you would know that was clearly not the case. Somehow, the injury plagued Knicks pulled off huge victories in San Antonio, which has been the hardest arena to play in during the 17 year Duncan Era, and Dallas, which is always a tough spot to succeed. They did lose to Houston but only because of the bonehead play from Mr. Weed himself, JR Smith. Regardless of the win-loss record from the 3 day trip, the Knicks were playing with a swagger that they had seemed to have lost since the end of the Celtics playoff series last year.
2. Iman Is Back!
Outside of Carmelo Anthony, every Knicks fan knew that for us to have a big season Iman Shumpert would have to live up to his potential. Obviously, in New York Knicks fashion, trade rumors surfaced involving Iman within 2 days into the season. That would rattle any athlete, let alone a 3rd year player who is entering his first full season after ACL surgery. Now I am not placing all of Shumpert’s early season woes on rumors but it definitely didn’t help. All of the energy we all saw last year seemed to have dissipated and the Knicks looked like they were stuck with a shell of the former Knicks Tape creator. If you don’t know what the Knicks Tape is, here is a video that was made prior to the 2012 season:
This was the type of swagger that helped fuel the Knicks all last season. In this most recent Texas trip, Knicks fans were delighted to see the artist formerly known as Iman playing like we knew he could. I expect the second half of this season to be huge for Iman to showcase his talents.
3. Getting Healthy is Key
Like most of the NBA, the Knicks have been hit hard with the injury bug. Every single player, except for Andrea Bargnani ironically, has been sidelined with at least one injury whether significant or not. As of this moment, only Felton and Prigioni are still hurt but rumor has it that Raymond will be making a reappearance soon. I honestly believe that if Melo, Tyson, Shumpert and (laugh all you want) Stoudemire can stay healthy, then the Knicks pose a tough matchup for anyone in the league. I wouldn’t mind if JR Suck goes down with a tattoo injury of some sort because he is the one player who just doesn’t seem to be able to get his shit together.
4. Bench Energy
Over the past 2 seasons, the Knicks have had one of the deadliest benches in the game. Their depth was so good that no one injury could really throw them off of their game. Somehow, all of their depth vanished in a season where it looked like on paper they had gotten deeper. Well, JR proved he really is just a punk with athleticism (yet Woodson still gives him way too many minutes), Prigioni wasn’t showing the comfort level he had last year and STAT and Kenyon were really showing their ages as the season began. Even the acquisition of Metta Worldpeace didn’t pan out the way New York had hoped, but recently Knicks rookies Tim Hardaway Jr and Toure Murry have provided that spark that has been missing all year-long. They add tenacity and Defense to a team that needs it oh so badly. Kenyon has began to show glimpses of the guy who went to back to back NBA Championships with New Jersey and STAT is finally giving us some of those skills he paid Hakeem Olajuwon $200,000 to teach him. As long as the bench can provide energy, the Knicks will win games.
Let’s call a spade a spade. The Atlantic division is a joke and no one should feel proud winning it but someone will and I believe it will be the Knicks. With Lopez out for the season Brooklyn doesn’t stand a chance and there is no way that Toronto will keep up this type of play, especially when they trade away Lowry. That leaves Boston and Philadelphia…enough said. I am not saying the Knicks will win the Atlantic because they are a great team, I am saying they will win it because the rest of their division is pathetic!
This season, the Knicks have 99 problems and Brooklyn isn’t one of them. While I’m not discrediting anything that Brooklyn accomplished last year or during this off-season, but in my mind it is no question that the Knicks are the creme of the crop in the Atlantic Division. The rivalry between these two teams grew to record levels in Brooklyn’s inaugural season last year and with the way this off-season has gone, we can expect the same intensity this season. We are still nearly 3 months away from the opening tip yet these two squads are already talking shit and ready to claw each others faces off. Here’s why I feel the Nets will be watching the Knicks throne once again.
Lets start with each teams off-season moves and how they will affect this years outcome. Without question, the biggest move this summer came from the Brooklyn Nets when they acquired Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry from the Celtics for basically nothing but picks…sorry Kris Kardashian Humphries. The signing of Andrei Kirilenko will end up paying huge dividends as he will bring a defensive intensity that Joe Johnson never brings. Add these 4 new veterans with the core group built from a year ago of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez and you can say that the Nets had the best off-season in the league…that is unless you believe Dwight will actually do something this year. This team will definitely outperform itself from a year ago mainly because of the experience they added.
What’s amazing to me is that with the great moves Brooklyn has made, the Knicks have been overshadowed all Summer. What people aren’t talking about is the vast improvements the Knicks have made without losing much at all. New York has brought in 3 veterans that are all upgrades from a season ago. The Knicks picked up the one man that can defend any 2/3/4 in the NBA and who can also show some signs of offensive intelligence at the same time. Metta World Peace might be everything that is wrong with the NBA but he can sure play with the best of ’em. The Knicks also acquired Andrea Bargnani and Beno Udrih who will both provide extremely solid production off the bench alongside JR and Kenyon. The Knicks still have the best scorer in the game and if Tyson and Amare can come back healthy and Shumpert is the player everyone assumes he is then New York will be a tough team to tango with all year long.
Last year, Brooklyn and New York split the season series and each game was just as exciting as the next. One of the craziest things that happened between these teams this Summer was the retirement of the Knicks Jason Kidd and his hiring as the new Head Coach of the Nets. That move alone is enough to ignite the fire between these teams but add that in with Paul Pierce declaring his immense hatred of the Knicks and there are bound to be sparks flying all year. Pierce had this to say on the Michael Kay Show;
“I think the hate for the Knicks has grown a little. Everybody knows how much I disliked the Knicks when I was with the Celtics, but I think it’s grown to another level. I think it’s time for the Nets to start running this city.” Pierce also had a lot to say about the rivalry at a Sprint Charity event; “The only thing that separates the two teams is a bridge. And both of them are in the same division and both of them are considered contenders. You can’t help but say this is probably gonna be the best rivalry in sports next year.”
I definitely agree that this will be the most exciting rivalry in sports this year. I am looking more forward to the Nets coming to town than I am the Heat or Pacers. I only say that because of the inner city battle; I think the Heat and Pacers both pose a much bigger threat than the Nets do this year. The main reason that I feel the Knicks will win the Atlantic Division, I’m estimating by 2 to 3 games, is because of chemistry and depth. The only everyday player that the Knicks are changing this season will be Kidd and we all know how he played down the stretch last year. This Knicks team is familiar with each other and have proven they belong the elite Eastern teams. The Nets will be right there with them this year but since there is truly no chemistry on the roster and the fact that their newly acquired players are all in the waning stages of their careers tells me that they are not ready to dethrone the Knicks from atop the Atlantic Division.
Let the biased Knicks hatred begin!
My favorite time of year is among us as the NBA Playoffs kick off tomorrow afternoon. This has been quite a crazy season for the NBA with new teams, (Rockets, Nuggets, Warriors, Nets) emerging as contenders and some of our perennial postseason mainstays, (Mavericks, 76ers, Jazz) find themselves watching from home with the rest of us. Regardless of who takes the hardwood, (insert joke here), we are sure to get some great competition and I am sure there will be an upset or two that will have critics and gamblers both up in arms. Here is a breakdown of how the Sports Debaters feel the first round will go down.
I won’t waste too much time on this one. The Heat have the best team in the NBA and the best player in world to go with it. Lebron James has a huge point to make and that is to let his critics, which there shouldn’t be many of anymore, know that last year was not a fluke. If you want to be better than Jordan you are going to have to get 5 more of those nice shinny things for your fingers that they give you with that beautiful gold trophy. The Bucks don’t stand a shot in hell and if Milwaukee’s sub-.500 record is any indication of how this series will go then the Heat will have plenty of time to prepare for their second round matchup. We are predicting the easy sweep for Miami in this one.
Series: Heat 4-0
What has already been a storied rivalry is about to get more intense then ever. Between the horrific Boston Bombings on top of the altercation between Melo and Garnett in the beginning of the year, this series has a shit load of emotional baggage entering the first round. Boston and New York have historic rivalries in pretty much every sport and competition, so when these two cities meet in a postseason it is nothing short of bananas. This Knicks won the regular season series against Boston 3-1 and they look to carry their current hot streak into the playoffs. With Rondo out with his torn ACL and Melo playing better then he ever has, I expect the Knicks to be able to win their first playoff series in over a decade.
Series: Knicks 4-1
The Indiana Pacers started this season on fire. They seemed to be able to shut down any offense with their stingy defense and it really seemed as if they could solidify themselves as the second best team in the East. Fast forward to today and the Pacers ended the season very sloppy and they have a lot of negative momentum entering the postseason. Having said that, the only team in the Eastern Conference Playoffs that has looked worse than the Pacers in the final month would have to be their first round opponent, the Atlanta Hawks. They will definitely deny it, but the Hawks tanked the end of the season just so they wouldn’t have to face the Heat in the second round. Don’t you worry Hawks fans because you will not have a second round to stress about.
Series: Pacers 4-2
The Brooklyn Nets entered this season with extremely high expectations due to their owner guaranteeing a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in their first year in Brooklyn. They did have a fairly impressive regular season and have the honor of hosting the nitty gritty Rose-less Bulls in the first round. This will be a tough battle for both sides and the entire series will come down to 3 points; 1) Will Deron Williams keep up this amazing stretch that he is currently on? 2) Will Brook Lopez be able to prove that he is the best offensive center in the East? and 3) Will Nate Robinson be able to shoot 60%+ from the floor while running a fluid offense? Luckily for the Nets, I think the answers to those 3 questions are Yes, Yes and No! Expect this series to be close but I feel that the Nets will have the honor of losing to the Heat in round numero dos.
Series: Nets 4-3
All season long there have been endless debates on whether the Harden deal was good or bad for the Thunder. One thing is for sure, it was definitely good for Houston. The Rockets boasted one of the most efficient offenses in the NBA and it was 100% due to the fact that James Harden separated himself as one of the leagues elite players. Sure Lin, Parsons and Asik all played important roles, but Harden put the Rockets on his back and helped them just sneak into that eighth spot in the West. Harden is going to try and prove the Thunder organization wrong as he will try and upset them in the first round, but the dominant scoring duo of Durant and Westbrook will prove far to lethal for the Rockets to handle. I do feel that Houston will be able to squeak one victory out of this series tho.
Series: Thunder 4-1
If Sunday’s matchup between these two teams is any indication of how this series will go, we are in store for an instant classic. Without Kobe, the Lakers seem to be playing with a new sense of physicality and a whole new game plan. The inside-out game that the Lakers have gone to these past 2 games is really proving to be effective. Both Dwight and Pau have each lead their own respective teams in the playoffs and they seemed poised to give the Spurs a run for their money this year. Some people are calling me crazy with this prediction but i feel that this series will be going into 7 games and while I do feel that the Spurs will pull it out with their home court advantage, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go the other way.
Series: Spurs 4-3
The Denver Nuggets have been the silent killers this year as they have quietly inched their way into the tough fought for third seed in the West. Denver’s best trait throughout this season was their home court dominance (38-3). Even with Danilo Gallinari going down for the season with a torn ACL, the Nuggets still have a ridiculously solid rotation top to bottom. The matchup I will be watching in this series is the battle between Curry and Lawson. These two young dynamic point guards is going to be the deciding factor in the series. While Curry has one of the smoothest strokes in the game, Lawson has developed into one of the best all-around PG’s there is. The Warriors have had a great season and their head coach, Mark Jackson, may very well take home Coach of the Year honors, but the Nuggets are too deep and too good at home.
Series: Nuggets 4-2
In this repeat matchup from last years first round between the 4 and 5 seeds in the West, we are sure to get our money’s worth. The Memphis Grizzlies are trying to seek revenge for their game 7 loss at home last year to the Clippers. Now that the Grizzlies got rid of their top scorer and go to guy at the end of games, who are they going to turn to at the end of a close game? I’ll tell you who; no one! I think that the Grizzlies over performed all season long and now that the playoffs are here, I feel that the Clippers will show why this is their best team in franchise history. I expect Griffin and Jordan to dominate Marc Gasol and Randolph all series long. Chris Paul is going to have a field day with Mike Conley Jr as well. Don’t expect to see this series go to 7.
Series: Clippers 4-2
The first half of the NBA season has been quite a wild ride. There have been the typically predictable outcomes, like Miami leading the Eastern Conference and the West being led by the Thunder and Spurs, but who would have predicted this far into the season that the powerhouse Lakers would be the laughing stock of the league. We have seen more injuries this year than I have ever witnessed in all my time following basketball and with the trade deadline quickly approaching every team is making their final panic moves to prepare for their end-of-the-season runs for the playoffs. Here is a quick recap of where players and teams stand so far and what I feel is going to happen next.
MVP Race: The obvious front runners for the MVP crown through the first half of the NBA season are perennial favorites Lebron James and Kevin Durant. Lebron is having just an unreal year with the 4th highest PPG (26.5) in the league and he is also filling the rest of the stat sheet with 8.3 RPG and 7.1 APG. His most incredible stat in my opinion is the fact that he is shooting an astonishing 55% from the field when his career average is only 48%. Durant is leading the league in scoring (29.6 PPG) and has led the Thunder the the NBA’s second best record (34-11). The two players that are trailing these two superstars, but not by far in my opinion, are Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Carmelo is having a career year leading the Knicks to the second best record in the East and only 1.5 games behind the Heat. Paul has help build relevance around a franchise that has been completely irrelevant throughout their existence. Any of these four players could win the MVP without too much argument but I think it will all come down to which players team finishes the season the strongest.
Conference Titles: The Eastern Conference is hands down the weaker of the two conferences. That being said, I still feel that the NBA Champions will come out of the East…maybe some biased there or maybe just sensibly sticking with the returning champs. As of right now the Miami Heat hold a 1.5 game lead over my New York Knicks for Eastern Conference supremacy. Even though the Knicks haven’t been this good in a while, most analysts (like myself) picked the Knicks to finish 2nd or 3rd this season with their successful off season. What most people didn’t predict is that the Boston Celtics would be clinging onto the 8th seed in the East, and with the loss of Rondo for the year they will most likely fall out of that position as well. The surprises in the East are the Chicago Bulls, who hold onto the 3rd spot sans Derrick Rose, and the Brooklyn Nets, who since the firing of Avery Johnson have gone 13-5 for the once choked out PJ Carlesimo (If you don’t get that joke look it up), have really been showing that they are a top tier team in the East.
The Western Conference is a whole other beast. There is no rhyme or reason to anything that is happening out West right now. The Spurs are once again defying the laws of age by holding the NBA’s best record (37-11) while the Lakers have shocked the world with a sub-.500 record this late in the season. The Thunder have been holding strong and the Clippers are proving that all of their recent draft picks as well as their Free Agent spending is truly paying off. The Grizzlies have established themselves as the scrappy team that needs no superstar to be successful. I feel the biggest surprises in the West are the the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, the Portland Trailblazers and especially the Golden State Warriors. All four of these teams are surprisingly over .500 and they all have a solid chance of making it in one of the bottom 4 seeds in the West. I do beleive that the Lakers will turn this slow start around and finish with the 6th or 7th spot in the West but I think the Conference for the most part is wide open for the taking.
The 2nd Half of the Season: Before the season started I predicted that the Lakers would be facing off with the Heat in the NBA Finals. With the D’Antoni cursed Lakers playing like absolute garbage I am now changing my prediction to the Heat versus the Clippers. Most people are going with the Thunder but I think that the depth that the Clippers have as well as their veteran leadership is just the perfect recipe for success. So technically my prediction for an LA vs. Miami Finals is still a possibility I don’t even think that the Heat are a 100% lock to make the Finals. The Knicks have had stretches of inconsistency lately but they have proven that with a fully healthy roster that they can beat anyone in the league. If the Knicks meet the Heat, whom they have beaten twice already this season in blowouts, in a seven game series, I do beleive that they will have a chance to dethrone King James and company. I also wouldn’t sleep on the Bulls because once Rose comes back healthy they will be considered a top 5 NBA team once again.
As for the end of the year awards, I feel that Vinny Del Negro deserves Coach of the Year for how he has the Clippers playing. I assume Lebron will win his 4th MVP but I would love to see Carmelo finally get one. Rookie of the Year will go to Damian Lillard and there are no questions about that. As for 6th man of the year, it’s a close battle between Jamal Crawford and JR Smith, but I think Crawford has the slight edge.
I have loved every minute of the first half of this NBA season and I can’t wait to see what’s to come.
As a huge New York Jets, Mets and Knicks fan, Monday was a very trying day for me. Even though everything that could go wrong went wrong , I have taken more of an optimistic view over my three teams. Yesterday, the New York Jets proved the world correct by finally ending what I consider to be the most pathetic and embarrassing season for a franchise that has been a joke for most of its existence. The New York Mets became the first team since 1998 to trade away the past year’s Cy Young Award winner by dealing fan favorite RA Dickey to the Blue Jays (1998-Blue Jays traded Roger Clemens to the Yankees). The New York Knicks had a visit from the most popular player in the league a year ago, Jeremy Lin, and got shellacked by him for the second time this season. If you are a fan of any of these teams, or all three like myself, then Monday looked like and extremely rough day. I am going to explain why I feel there is a silver lining for each of these tumultuous events.
Let’s start with J-E-T-S (Just End The Season); Thank God they did! I have never in my life rooted for one of my teams to lose…except for last night. The Jets have been an absolute CIRCUS since the end of last season. The acquisition of Tim Tebow was a mistake from the get-go and not once did the Jets and their coaching staff try to rectify that situation. The pathetic Offensive Coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, was fired only to be replaced by an even worse one, Tony Sparano. Mark Sanchez’s ability as a QB receded worse that Lebron James’ hair line. The Jets had arguably the worst receiving core in NFL history and couldn’t develop a running attack against any formidable opponents. So why was I rooting against the Jets yesterday, even with their playoff chances still intact if they had won? Because it would have all been the same shit again next year if the Jets showed even the slightest bit of success. With this mortifying loss on Monday Night Football last night no Jets fans will ever have to watch Mark Sanchez at the QB position ever again! Ii has been announced that Greg McElroy will start Sunday against the Chargers. The Jets GM, Mike Tannenbaum, is either going to be replaced or he is going to be put on such a hot seat that he will have no choice but to fix this never-ending pile of issues. The Jets need to be completely revamped and there is no way that would have happened without them losing last night so there is the silver lining.
My New York Knicks have not given their fans much to complain about this season. They have the best record in the Eastern Conference and have looked like a title contender the whole year. They have really only hit one speed bump this season and their name is the Houston Rockets. The last time the Knicks had to worry about the Rockets was in 1994 when they met in the NBA Finals and went to an exhilarating game 7 which the Knicks inevitably ended up losing. Ever since Jeremy Lin left the Knicks for a more than generous contract with the Rockets, there has been a target on his back. Unfortunately for the Knickerbockers, that target was too small to see because for the second time this season, Jeremy Lin and the Rockets manhandled them. I never had any ill will towards Lin once he left, especially because I knew what the Knicks overall plan was and he just wasn’t the right fit for Woodson’s game plan. So what’s the upside to the Knicks losing twice to a supposedly inferior team? First, the Rockets most likely won’t make the playoffs this year so the Knicks won’t be playing them again until next year. Secondly, there was no way the Knicks were going to go 77-5 so we were bound to lose eventually. Finally, the real silver lining behind this most recent loss at the Garden to the slightly above average Houston Rockets is that we now know exactly what we need Iman Shumpert and Amare Stoudemire for. Shumpert wasn’t really an issue but everyone was questioning where Amare would fit in and the truth of the matter is that STAT is an extremely talented player and in situations where Melo or even Tyson or Kidd or Felton are out with injury, STAT can be a viable option that can help earn that W.
The New York Mets are very good at being very bad. Outside of a handful of years that Mike Piazza was destroying anything in his way, the Mets have been completely irrelevant for nearly a quarter century. Last year the Mets let one of their franchise’s greatest players ever, Jose Reyes, leave to their divisional foe, the Miami Marlins, due to their money issues. Worst part about that was that Reyes was coming off of his best ever year and the National League Batting Title. Yesterday, the Mets completed a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays which ended with the reigning CY Young Winner and Mets fan favorite RA Dickey leaving after one of the greatest pitching seasons in NY Mets history. So how can losing your best pitcher and biggest ticket attraction have any positives behind it? Well, I’ll start by saying that with or without Dickey, the Mets were not going anywhere any time soon. Having said that, the Mets have no money and they need to figure out new ways to rebuild a franchise that does not have much going for it right now. I feel that they did the right thing by signing David Wright for pretty much the rest of his career. Now they have to figure out who will hit around him and what direction they want their franchise to go. Between Wheeler and Harvey the Mets have some talented pitching coming up soon. In the trade for Dickey, the Mets acquired arguably one of the best young talents in the Minors, catcher Travis d’Arnaud. On top of that they saved a butt load of money and have positioned themselves to be a formidable opponent within a few years. I see some bright things in the Mets future and I think it starts with Travis d’Arnaud.
So even if you are still having a hard time recovering from yesterday’s exhausting and trying events, just know that each of them have a silver lining and everything should be okay soon enough.
WHAT A GAME!!! Game 2 of this newly minted rivalry between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks was even more exciting than the first game between the two teams which ended in overtime. Even after that first game there were doubters saying how this matchup couldn’t be considered a rivalry because of how new it was, but after last night’s thriller all of those naysayers must jump ship. The intensity in the Barclays Center was so high that it had a playoff atmosphere feel to it. Both teams had fans representing them cheering with “Defense” and “MVP” chants all night long. The arena was filled with the expected superstar celebrities like Jay-Z, Spike Lee and many more New Yorkers that were split between the Knicks and Nets. The game was exhilarating from beginning to end and the Knicks came out on top with a 100-97 win to even the series between these two teams at 1-1.
While the excitement over this game was similar to the first game between these two teams, there were a lot of differences entering this contest. In the first matchup between theses foes, the Knicks were without Jason Kidd and the Nets were full strength, while in the second matchup the Nets were missing their stud Brooks Lopez and Knicks were healthy…that is without Shumpert and Stoudemire. After the Knicks loss in game 1, I mentioned that the absence of Jason Kidd was the main contributor to the their demise. Boy was I right! Kidd showed flashes of the All-Star who lead the then New Jersey Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals a decade ago. The Knicks were in a deep hole early in the game and trailed by as many as 17 points but with the veteran leadership that Kidd has displayed all season long, there never seemed to be a sense of panic on the side of the Orange and Blue.
While Kidd kept the pace of the game exactly where the Knicks needed it to be, the real superstar of this fantastic game was the man they call Melo. Carmelo Anthony had his best game of the season and proved why the New York faithful has been justly chanting “MVP MVP” on a nightly basis. Melo had a stat line of 45-5-3 while shooting a lights out 15-24 from the field. It looked at times as if Carmelo had placed a magnet in the rim and the ball and every time he tossed it up it was just drawn to the hoop. It was arguably his best game since the Knicks acquired him two years back. The Nets came out of the gates flying and were up 21-5 at the beginning of the game, but Carmelo Anthony knew this was his game to win and he put his team on his shoulders and played outstanding and inspired ball.
Brooklyn’s hot start was a huge surprise to me, especially with how well the Knicks have been playing and how poorly the Nets have been. Since the first matchup between these teams, the Knicks had gone 6-1 while the Nets have been 2-5 and they were in the midst of a 4 game losing streak. Everything seemed to be in the Knicks favor heading into the game but the Nets had a secret weapon that only my man NYBobby seemed to know about. Andray Blatche, the back up to the injured Lopez, seemed to put anything he tossed up into the bucket. I called Bobby before the game and said that the Knicks were going to manhandle the Nets because Lopez was out but he responded by saying that Blatche was going to have a huge game. I hate to admit when he is right but I have to give credit where credit is due. Blatche finished with 23 points on 9 of 13 shooting and he had the best +/- on the Nets with a +9.
As for the Point Guards in this matchup, there really was a lot of disappoints on both sides…more so for the Knicks. For the second straight time against the Nets, Raymond Felton seemed to be lost on the floor for much of the game as he committed 7 of the Knicks 10 turnovers. Felton’s shooting was abysmal where he finished with 3 of 12 from the floor to end up with an ugly stat line of 8-1-7 with 7 turnovers. On the other end, Deron Williams, who is easily considered a top 3 PG in the league, had an off night himself. While he ended up with 18 points and 10 assists, he really never found a rhythm all night and he even missed a potentially game tying open three pointer.
During last night’s contest I was on the edge of my seat the whole time as the game was filled with nonstop action. With the series between these teams split 1 a piece, the next game has a lot of importance. Luckily for fans of both clubs, we don’t have to wait to long for that matchup because the two teams face off again, this time in the Garden, a week from today. I am thrilled to say that New York not only has two potentially dangerous playoff teams, but they have a newly found rivalry that I expect to be around for years.
As a sports writer, I understand how hard it is to stay unbiased and to make sure all of my arguments and opinions are backed up with facts and reasoning. I am sad to say that the man they call the “Round Mound of Rebound,” Sir Charles Barkley, has broken the rules of unbiased commentary and has completely lost his marbles this NBA season.
As a die-hard Knicks fan, I have spent more than a decade taking verbal abuse from Chuck saying how “terriboo” my Knicks are and that they have the most “ridiclous” front office in the game. It’s all good though because I can take the abuse, especially when it is warranted. There is something that should come with criticizing someone, and that is admitting when you are wrong, and Chuck just keeps putting his “ridiclously” large feet in his mouth.
As most of you know, my New York Knicks manhandled the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat on their home court just last week. They did this without Carmelo Anthony and it was the second game of a back-to-back, the game before ending with a JR Smith buzzer beater in Charlotte. This was a nationally televised game on TNT and wouldn’t you know it, Chuck and his minions were all there to discount the Knicks and their chances without Melo. It was hard for me to disagree with them, based on all of the facts against them but the lengths that Sir Charles took his predictions too warranted an apology or at the very least an admittance of his mistake. Shaq, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson all applauded the Knicks at halftime for their effort and ability to keep the game tied while Chuck kept yapping his droopy-ass-drunk mouth saying how they were going to blow it because they really aren’t that good. The Knicks ended up winning the game by 20 and yet there was not even an inkling on thought from Chuck to give the Knicks the slightest credit for their achievement. Chuck is just a Knicks hater and his critiquing of them can no longer be justified.
Most recently, Chuck targeted a player who not only has been dominating the NBA for nearly a decade, but has two Championships under his belt; that’s two more than that gambling addict Chuckin’ moron. That player was Dwayne Wade, and while Wade might not be the player he once was, he just won a goddamn Championship last season. On top of that, his Miami Heat have the second best record in the Eastern Conference…behind my Knicks of course. On Inside The NBA, Chuck went on to say how he feels that Wade is no longer the same player.
“He’s starting to lose his athletic ability,” Barkley said. “He’s not the same guy. I got a look at him in person. He doesn’t explode anymore and he’s shooting a lot of fade-away jumpers. The toughest thing for Dwayne Wade is understanding that he’s starting to lose his talent and now he has to learn how to play below the basket. The toughest thing when you’re a great player or very athletic, when you can’t jump over a building anymore, you have to learn how to play.”
While I absolutely despise the Miami Heat, I would never call out a player that probably has a one-on-one advantage over every player in the league outside of his own teammate Lebron. Speaking of which, Lebron came out after hearing these comments and literally had Wade’s back.
“It means Charles Barkley needs to shut up,” James said. “I mean, the man [Wade] is shooting 80 percent from the floor the last couple of games. That’s like, crazy, right? That’s why he is who he is. Unbelievable.”
Wade might not be as good as he was a few years back, but to say that he has to completely revamp his style of play is ludicrous. This is just another prime example of Chuck running his mouth without stats or facts to back up his opinions. When Chuck decides that he doesn’t like someone or some team then they will be ridiculed regardless of their performance. When you make Shaq look like a sensible coherent human being then you know you need to take a long hard look in the mirror and maybe pass judgement on yourself before you give your boneheaded opinions that are no longer credible. Let’s no forget that Barkley is the same asshole who “inadvertently” spat on a young girl in 1991. Here is a video from 1991 showing how big of a Deutsche Bag Barkley was as a player and person, and yes that is Pat Riley commentating. (fast forward to 1:50 to skip to the interview)
In short, I think that Charles needs to get a new attitude or be removed as an analyst because he is no longer a credible source. Hey Barkley…Go Chuck Yourself!!!