Posts Tagged With: nba playoffs

Friday Fives: 5 Questions Heading into Game 2

 

stevens

I think we can say we are officially back. For now.  Time for one of our favorite past-times: Friday Fives.  Here’s how this worked. I, Maneikis, posed 5 questions to our panel (Me, Will Weir aka “The Fedora’d One” and Taylor “I now prefer TJ” Simpson), and what you will read is our email exchange regarding each of these key questions heading into the critical Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Fun drinking game alert: every time we refer to Lebron by a name other than Lebron or anytime you feel we are being complete homers, you drink.  Prepare to get dnruk.

  1. How do we stop Tristan Thompson?

Will: Tristan has been bashing us over the head with a mallet like a kid playing Whack-A-Mole in an arcade for about 2 or 3 years now.  Feels like every game he gets about 20 rebounds vs. us and we are just powerless.  Having said that, they need to try something.  Rebounding has been a sore spot for C’s all year, not a secret.  Amir Johnson? Child Please. Tyler Zeller? I’ll pass.  Traditional big men are out.  Unfortunately, we can’t have Al guard both him and Kevin Love, so I think the answer has to fall to primarily Marcus Smart and maybe even a dash of Jae Crowder.  At this point, the best hope is that these 2 can be bulldogs and, at best, slow him down.  Marcus seems like he’ll get 1st billing, Jae doesn’t have the speed to stay with LBJ (Step up on up Jaylen!), but maybe he has the strength to battle with Tristan like he did with Morris last round.

Maneikis: Will, I totally agree per our conversation last night.  Marcus can bang with the big guys as long as it’s purely physical play.  The moment you add skill to the mix, Marcus tends to struggle, but he relishes the wrestling matches.  I’d also like to see us try to exploit him on the defensive end by going small and giving Marcus an opportunity to run PnR with Horford.  That might force the Cavs into some unnatural defensive rotations (have Thompson and Love ever had to defend a PnR together?), and we might even get some of their bigs in foul trouble.  I don’t see us stopping Thompson from getting rebounds, but I do expect us to make him work for those rebounds and to make him uncomfortable on the defensive end of the floor.

TJ:  Tristan is a player who has the specific skill set that exploits the biggest weakness on the Celtics’ roster – offensive rebounding.  It would be like if in The Illiad the Trojans hired a mercenary to a $60 million dollar contract whose lone skill was throwing arrows at soldiers’ heels.  In the first round against the Bulls the Celtics made Robin Lopez look like Wilt Chamberlain, so an honest goal would just not to end up like any of Wilt’s famed 20,000 women – you know, completely fucked.  However as many basketball coaches have repeated to me throughout the years, there is no secret to boxing out; it just takes placement, intention and a whole lot of effort. Dedicate a spot on the floor to one of the Lunks (Kelly, Zeller, Amir) who sole purpose is to stay between the basket and Tristan Thompson.  Barring a sudden fix for what has been a glaring flaw all year, sign his step-sister Kendall to a 10-day. She fixed institutionalized racism with a mere soft drink, so I’m sure she can grab a few rebounds.

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The Playoffs Minus Westbrook

Patrick Beverly just ruined the playoffs

The news of Russell Westbrook’s injury is devastating to a playoffs already marred by the absence of stars like Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, and Rajon Rondo.  It can be fun at times to watch a team overcome the loss of a star player and sometimes teams thrive minus that player (see the Simmons Ewing Theory), but this is a lose-lose for the Thunder and the NBA.   Say what you want about his decision making, but Westbrook is one of the most exciting players in the game today.  He plays with reckless abandon, plays harder than everyone else on the court, and is good for at least one “wow, would that be considered flying?” moment a game.  Without Westbrook, some of the Thunder’s warts may be exposed (over-reliance on isolation basketball, lack of shooting, lack of a true PG on the roster, no James Harden), and their only hope of returning to the Finals is if Kevin Durant transcends greatness and flirts with immortality.  Maybe Durant can save the Western Conference Playoffs by donning his Superman cape, or maybe this opens the door for Chris Paul to reach his first Conference Finals, but in the end, this injury all but guarantees Dwyane Wade’s 3rd championship (what, why didn’t I say Lebron’s second championship? I’m confused).  Continue reading

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The First Annual Maneikis Awards: Part 1(NBA 2012-2013)

mom n dad

my beautiful mom and dad

Here are my own personal superlatives for the 2012-2013 season.  There is no rhyme or reason to the ordering of the awards. I started writing and then stopped writing.  At the end of that process here is what I created.  The plan is to update these awards with a sequel in the upcoming days.  Enjoy.

Biggest Surprise: Los Angeles Lakers make the playoffs

Granted the Lakers should have made the playoffs, but everyone wrote them off after their epically bad first half of the year.  Every pundit said there would be no way we would see them in the postseason, yet here they are looking at a favorable opening round match up with the struggling San Antonio Spurs.  Although they lack scoring now that Kobe is gone and lost forever, the way Gasol and Howard played last night was nothing short of dominant.   Dwight is playing defense at his DPOY-level and Gasol has accepted the challenge of having the offense go through him.  Now that they have avoided OKC, the Lakers have legitimate shot at upsetting a Spurs team that is banged up and apparently relying on T-Mac to be good again.

Worst Coaching Move (possibly ever): Mike D’Antoni’s Kobe48 Decision

Kobe Bryant won’t be in the playoffs and may never be the same again; and Mike D’Antoni has to assume most of the culpability.  How on earth do you decide that it is okay for a man in his 17th season to play the entire game on consecutive nights?  You are the head coach so even if Kobe asked to play the full 48, you have to say something like, “Um. No. I’m going to sit you for five minutes a half around the quarters and play through Gasol during those stretches. We’ll be okay Kobe.”  But no, D’Antoni once again proved incompetent and has robbed the world of witnessing Kobe Bryant playing like Kobe Bryant.  No one has ever returned to form after this injury and Mike D’Antoni should be fired regardless of how the Lakers fare this postseason.

Biggest Disappointment: Injuries

Kobe Bryant. Rajon Rondo. Derrick Rose. Kevin Love. Andrew Bynum. Danilo Gallinari. Those are big names and we didn’t get to see, or won’ t get to see, these players this season/postseason.  I am still holding onto the smaller sliver of hope the Rose plays at some point, but that’s a pipe dream.  Love was the best big man on Team USA and I thought he would help the T-Wolves contend for the playoffs. I already touched on Kobe’s injury.  The worst part about Rondo/Rose is that Lebron James has a clear path to the Finals once again (he is good enough already, somebody needs to make him earn his trip back).   Bynum’s injury single-handedly destroyed Philadelphia’s present and future.  Gallinari’s injury hurts the Nuggets’ chances of upsetting the Thunder in the WCF. Maybe one day we will get a season in which no star is injured, but until then, we must accept that this is an unfortunate part of the game.

The “Some Things Never Change” Award: Demarcus Cousins’ Terrible Attitude:

Will this guy ever grow up? You look at his numbers and you say, “wow. He is special.”  Then you look at him as a person and say, “wow. He is a train-wreck.” He led the league in technical fouls, was suspended from his team on multiple occasions, and just looks plain uninterested playing professional basketball at times.  He is the craziest guy in a league full of crazy guys. He is Rasheed Wallace’s illegitimate son.  He needs a Cuss D’Amato to his Mike Tyson or else he’s going to end up like prison Mike.  Having said all that, I would love the Celtics to trade for him because maybe Kevin Garnett is that guy who can save Cousins’ career.

The “Remember Me?” Award: Brook Lopez

Lopez lost last season to injury and people seemed to write him off as a top 5 center in this league.  When healthy, he is perhaps the best post player in the league, and this year Lopez was just that.  Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler, Anderson Varejao, and Andrew Bynum all were injured this year, so Lopez was able to dominate more consistently with the dearth of healthy bigs.  The Nets may be overpaying more a majority of their roster, but Lopez has proved worthy of the max money he was given prior to this year as he posted a career high PER of 24.81.  He still needs to improve his rebounding and defensive effort on a nightly basis, but he looks like he will be one of the league’s best for years to come.

Most Exciting Team: Denver Nuggets

George Karl deserves COY consideration. Andre Iguodala deserves DPOY consideration. Ty Lawson is a future star. Javale McGee didn’t do anything too stupid.  Kenneth Faried might actually believe he is a manimal.  And Andre Miller still looks like Richard Pryor. This team is just fun to watch. They run teams into the ground with their seemingly unsustainable pace, have freak athletes like McGee, Iguodala, and Faried, and are nearly unbeatable at home.  If Gallinari hadn’t torn his ACL I was going to pick them to make the NBA Finals.  Now I see them losing in the WCF.  Be prepared for the craziest opening round series as the Nuggets take on my runner-up for this award – the Golden State Warriors.

Best Game: Miami at Chicago

 Bill Simmons called this game the best regular season game in the history of the league! Although I’m not ready to go that far, especially since I haven’t done the amount of extensive research necessary to make such a claim, I will say it is the most memorable game I have seen in my life.  The Celtics/Heat game the previous week was up there, but this Chicago game was on another level.  Chicago was playing for pride and to end the streak, and Miami was playing for a shot at history. They were playing for a shot at immortality.  There were hard fouls, big plays, Lebron and Boozer colliding with the force just this side of Clowney’s epic hit against Michigan (okay not really, I just wanted to watch that clip again), and the Heat never gave up even when it was obvious they were going to lose.   The Bulls deserved this win since their fans lost Derrick Rose for the season, and although Miami will beat them in the playoffs, the Bulls will forever be known as the team that ended the Heat’s streak.

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