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Category Archives: NBA

Heat and Pacers Play for Eastern Conference Crown

The Miami Heat host the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night at 8:30 EST to kick off the Eastern Conference Finals, with a good bit of trash talk going back and forth between the two sides prior to the start of the series.

Most of the conversation has centered around comments by Pacers head coach Frank Vogel and Heat star LeBron James. After beating the Knicks to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, Vogel called the Heat, “the next team that’s in our way and that’s how we’re approaching it.”

James took umbrage to those comments, perhaps bending them a little bit (or having a reporter bend them in a question) in order to create some bulletin board material.

James said, “We’re not just another team. I don’t understand what he’s saying, but we’re not just another team. It’s not true.”

James continued, saying, “He said we’re just another team in their way. We’re not just another team. We’re a great team. We’re very confident.”

James suggested that the Pacers better be prepared for more than just another team, but Vogel was quick to point out on Monday that he never referred to the reigning champs as such.

“Sorry sports world, the words ‘just another team’ never came out of my mouth,” Vogel said. “Great respect for [LeBron James] and the champs. Looking forward to [a] great series.”

These two teams met last season, with the Pacers pushing the Heat to six games before Miami prevailed en eventual route to the NBA Finals and a championship.

During the regular season, the Pacers took two out of three from the Heat. They did so largely by slowing down the pace of the games and hitting the boards hard, taking more than 33 percent of the offensive boards and nearly 58 percent overall.

The catch is that the Heat don’t want to run up and down the floor and won’t push the tempo too much in that fashion, but they would like to see more possessions then they had in the regular season.  Find out which tempo and team will prevail and get your tickets today for the Eastern Conference Finals!

Bulls Return to United Center With Hope Against the Nets

The Chicago Bulls managed to upset the Brooklyn Nets in game two of their NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinals by a score of 90-82, which tied the series up at 1-1 and ensured that it will go at least five games.

That means the Bulls will get back to Brooklyn one way or another. It also puts them right into the series with two games coming up at the United Center in Chicago on Thursday, April 25 and Saturday, April 27. Thursday’s game is slated for 7:30 p.m. and Saturday’s for 1 p.m.

The biggest differences for the Bulls between Game 1 and Game 2 were shown at the defensive end of the floor and in rebounding. In the series-opening loss, the Bulls allowed the Nets to hit nearly 56 percent of their shots from the floor, 43 percent of their threes and 82 percent of their 17 free throws.

In Game 2, the Bulls played a more physical brand of basketball and though they sent the Nets to the line six more times and saw them hit at an 87 percent clip at the charity stripe, the Nets were just 35 percent from the floor and 19 percent from three-point range.

In addition, the Bulls went from a minus-four on the boards to a plus-five. Offensively, the Bulls didn’t see too much of a difference in their shooting numbers or point output, scoring 89 and 90 points respectively. The big change was slowing down the Nets offense and rendering Gerald Wallace ineffective. Wallace had 14 points and six rebounds in Game 1, but only scored 2 points and grabbed three rebounds in Game 2.

The Bulls hope the home crowd at the United Center can propel them forward with a scrappy, defensive brand of basketball while the Nets hope to find their shooting stroke again in the Madhouse on Madison.

Playoff basketball at the United Center is always a blast, so don’t miss out. Get your tickets today and see it in person as the Bulls and Nets continue their playoff series.

Was Excessive Play the Reason for Kobe’s Injury?

It seems that whenever a star player is hurt, the coach is the first one to take the blame — even often more than a player who caused the injury. And while there was no enemy interference when Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon on Friday, Coach Mike D’Antoni is taking even more than his fair share of the blame. Critics are calling the coach out, saying that too many minutes were the cause of Kobe’s injury, and that D’Antoni is personally responsible. D’Antoni in turn, has responded in a way that both accepts his part in it, but that also shows no regret.

Kobe had played a lot, even for someone in the prime of their NBA career. But the 34-year-old has played 17 seasons, and he’s only missed two this year. He averages 38.6 minutes a game, which is second in the league; and that increased to 45.6 minutes these last couple of weeks as the Lakers have made their push towards the playoffs. It was definitely a time his team needed him and according to D’Antoni, Kobe knew that, and it was one of the determining factors in why he played.

“In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have played him that many minutes,” D”Antoni said. “But without Steve Nash, Bryant said ‘I’ve got to do that or we’re not going to make the playoffs.’ And for him, that was the most important thing. It’s tough.”

D’Antoni says that had the team been better in the start of the season, Kobe wouldn’t have been relied on as much, and he takes responsibility in that sense.

“There’s a little bit of, ‘Yeah, you’re right, and we were playing a little bit with fire,'” he says. “But I thought managing tendinitis, or where Bryant couldn’t finish a game…nobody knows if there’s a correlation, so I’m not defensive about it. We’d probably do it again the same way. It’s just too bad we put ourselves in this hole. That’s the biggest thing.”

The injury has certainly ended Kobe’s season and kept him out of the playoffs, as the injury requires at least six months to heal.

What do you think? Is D’Antoni to blame for Kobe’s injury? Or is it just a case of really bad luck?

Who’s going to the NBA Playoffs?

Some teams have already emerged as clear frontrunners to win it all during the NBA Finals, while others are still struggling just to find their playoff spot. So, who’s going to the NBA playoffs so far?

In the East

It’s pretty clear that the Miami Heat will be in the playoffs; and that they’ll go in with the number one spot that they’re currently enjoying, unless they do something to completely mess things up. Behind them are Brooklyn and Indiana battling it for that second spot, and Brooklyn sits in the fourth spot with leads over both Chicago and Atlanta. On the other hand, both Chicago and Atlanta have clinched playoff spots — whether they’ll be going in as fifth or sixth seeds still has yet to be determined.

What might be most surprising in the East is that Boston is desperately still trying to obtain a playoff berth; and it will be the first year in five seasons that the Celtics haven’t won the Atlantic Division. Behind them is Milwaukee, also struggling to clinch their playoff berth.

In the West

The Spurs are clearly the frontrunners in the West. With seven more wins they’ll enter the playoffs with the top seed; with only three, they’ll still clinch second seed. The only team that could take the number one spot from the Spurs it will be Oklahoma, who is currently in the second spot.

The middle of the pack is where it gets tricky in the Western conference. Denver, Memphis, and L.A. are all fighting over the third, fourth, and fifth seeds. Both Denver and Memphis can place no worse than the fifth seed, but all these teams will be moving on to the playoffs.

The Golden State Warriors are still looking for a playoff berth, as are Houston and Utah. All of these teams currently sit in the sixth, seventh, and eighth seeds respectively and, if the playoffs started today, they’d all be moving on as well.

The NBA playoffs begin on April 20, just over two weeks away. Anything could happen within that time, and it will be interesting to watch what does.

Dwight Howard Returns to Lakers’ Lineup

It hasn’t been easy for the Lakers this year. After one of the most exciting off-seasons, signing Steve Nash and trading for Dwight Howard, the two have struggled with injuries ever since joining the team. Nash was injured on the first night and forced to sit out until last month; while Howard’s looked hurt ever since he put on the Lakers’ jersey. On Sunday night though, he was back. Earlier than expected, and in fine form, too.

It was the performance everyone had been waiting for. It was the Dwight Howard that had not yet been seen in L.A. Before his return, the Lakers had been on a six-game losing streak, and had just about everyone asking what was going wrong. But when D-12 stepped onto the court this weekend, he was ready. And he made it happen.

Continuing a streak he had been on before his injury forced him to sit out, Howard finished the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers with 22 points and 14 rebounds on 9 of 11 shots. That gives him an average of 17 points, 16.6 rebounds, and 3 blocks over his past five games.

Seeing him come back into the lineup on Sunday night proved one thing to the Lakers – they need Dwight Howard, and they need him to play at the elite level he was displaying before he ever made his way to the West coast. Now that his injuries seem to be fully behind him, it seems that the Lakers may have finally gotten what they signed up for.

Nuggets Usurp Kings in Own Throne Room 122-97

The fans who were watching held their breath on Sunday night for the entire game between their Denver Nuggets and the Sacramento Kings. By the fourth quarter, the Nuggets were already up 97-67, and were clearly outplaying the home team. But this hasn’t been an easy season for Denver. As soon as they’re up, there’s another team to knock them down it seems. And the wins they have enjoyed have been sloppy, clumsy, and poorly executed. Was there reason to think this one would be any different?

There was. The Nuggets were on point all night and dominated the Kings‘ court. It started in the first quarter when they broke a tie by scoring 16 consecutive points, and they never stopped.

Andre Iquodala scored 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists; while reserve Jordan Hamilton put in 15 points, and Kosta Koufos had 12 of his own. Ty Lawson also had 11 points and 7 assists in the win. But it may not have been the players on the court, or even the score, that was the main story. It’s the fact that the Nuggets have had an incredibly long streak of away games to start their season; a total of 18 of their first 25.

“It’s the worst stretch of travel I’ve been associated with,” said Nuggets coach George Karl. “All we do is travel, play a game, and get in at three in the morning. Then we do it all over again.”

But if the Nuggets can continue playing like this, they may not want to complain too loudly about the road stretch. It seems to be working for them.

Magic Sneak Past Suns 98-90

It was the last one of a five-game road trip, and the Orlando Magic sat at 2-2 during the trip. This win was important as they prepared to make their way back home to face Atlanta, and Orlando knew it. Going in, you could tell that each member of the Magic wanted to win. But maybe even more importantly, throughout the entire game, you could tell something else. This is truly a team that is one unified unit. And if they can continue to play that way, they may just overcome the troubles they faced early in the season.

Each Orlando player put in a great effort on Sunday when they faced the Phoenix Suns, and all that effort paid off. Rookie Andrew Nicholson was one of the biggest heroes of the night, scoring a career-high of 19 points in the fourth quarter alone; two of which came when he suck a 14-footer after just coming off the bench. That put the Magic close to their winning number, putting them up in the game 97-88. Nicholson also took 9 rebounds during the game and made 9 out of 11 of his shots.

But it wasn’t as though the Magic took the entire game to find their stride.  J.J. Redick scored 14 points the first time he stepped out onto the court; and he scored three during the second half.

The Suns put in a good showing, especially considering that they were dealing with a fair share of injuries. P.J Tucker was out for his second game in a row due to an injured right knee, forcing the Suns to go with their fourth starting lineup of the season.

But while the Suns may have lost by only eight points, this one’s going to hurt more than that. Sunday’s game marks the team’s seventh straight loss, their longest losing streak since 2004.

Lakers Now 4-out-of-5 Against Rockets!

Mike D’Antoni may have only officially been the head coach of the L.A. Lakers for a few days but already, his influence can be seen and felt on the Lakers court. That much has been evident throughout his current stint as head coach, even if it has been only a short run so far. But it may not have been any clearer than it was on Sunday night, as the Lakers routed past the Rockets, and defeated them 119-108.

Kobe Bryant had an outstanding night with 22 points altogether, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. During the game, Bryant also reached for his 18th career triple-double, which gave the Lakers a huge edge in the win; as well as three of the 10 steals the Lakers made during the game.

D’Antoni isn’t even on the court yet, or on the players’ bench. Instead, he waits and watches in the Lakers’ locker room, due to recent knee surgery, in which he had one replaced. Bernie Bickerstaff, the interim coach, is instead taking the place on the bench, but that doesn’t mean that D’Antoni’s drive and spirit can’t be felt. The plays being made on the court now are vastly different than what they looked like even in October; and it’s D’Antoni’s playbook that the Lakers have to thank for it.

Jeremy Lin was also on the court, although playing on the side of the Rockets, and he went into the Lakers locker room afterwards to visit his former coach briefly. His words afterwards sum up why the Lakers are doing so well under his coaching style.

“He’s the ultimate players’ coach. I think he just gets it. He knows how to get the most out of his players. [The Lakers] will be just fine. What you saw tonight, they’ll probably be able to do pretty consistently, in terms of moving the ball and spacing,” Lin said.

The Lakers will look to extend their winning streak as they face the Brooklyn Nets tonight.

Mike D’Antoni is the Lakers’ New Head Coach

After former Lakers‘ coach, Mike Brown, was fired on Friday talk immediately began surrounding who would take the position over. It came down to another former Lakers’ coach, Phil Jackson, or former Knicks coach, Mike D’Antoni. For many, Jackson was the obvious choice with multiple championships under his belt; and one who many consider the greatest coach ever in the NBA. But Mike D’Antoni brought something to the table that even Jackson couldn’t — a reputation as being the offense king. And in the end, that’s what the Lakers were looking for.

Truthfully, either coach could be considered as one of the best offensive coaches of all time. But Jackson’s Triangle strategy wasn’t as good a fit for the Lakers as D’Antino’s up-tempo system. Mitch Kupchak, Lakers’ general manager, said that while the Triangle system is effective, he thinks that it may take some of the newer players too long to adapt to it. D’Antino also had one thing that Jackson didn’t — he’s worked with Steve Nash before, in Phoenix, and the two were very successful together. Now, fans are hoping that they’ll bring some of that to the Staples Center, too.

Of course, whenever Dwight Howard’s on a team, you must consider how he’ll work with any new coach he’s asked to. D’Antoni seemed on board there too, says that he’s going to be using Howard a lot in gameplay, and that was also a huge consideration for the Lakers. Kobe Bryant on the other hand, called D’Antoni a “genius” after the hiring was made official; and looks forward to his offensive style of play.

Trail Blazers Beat Rockets in OT

Well, if there’s going to be any Linsanity in Houston this year, it’s going to have to wait until at least the next game, as Jeremy Lin and Company lost to the Portland Trail Blazers in overtime on Saturday night.

For the first half of the game in which the Trail Blazers overpowered the Rockets 95 — 85, it looked as though the Rockets were going to have another win to add to their great season so far. But the Trail Blazers dominated the third quarter, and carried that strength with them right through to the final buzzer in OT.

LeMarcus Aldridge was the hero of the game with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. Damian Lillard also did his part, putting up 20 points on the board (8 of which he scored in OT,) and getting nine assists while at it. Nicolas Batum helped with 17 points, nine boards, four assists, and six steals.

James Harden was in front of the Houston crowd for the first time wearing a Rockets jersey, and he gave them what they wanted, tallying up 24 points for his team. It was unfortunate that his 3-pointer from the wing was blocked in the last minutes of the game, as that would have given fans what they were really after, another win. Unfortunately, his shot was blocked by the Trail Blazers. Shortly after, Lillard took a chance to get his team back into the game with a layup, and he was rewarded. After his ball sailed through the net, Portland was only lagging by 2.

That was when J.J. Hickson stepped up for the Trail Blazers with a layup that brought the game to 78 — 78 before Jeremy Lin sailed through with a layup of his own, putting the Rockets up three points. Those would be added to the 13 points and seven assists in total that Lin contributed to the game.

The game is the first victory for Portland out of the last four meetings between these two teams.

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