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Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Monday, January 23, 2006

NBA Midseason Report: Like You Care.

(who could have anticipated the power of Pau Gasol's beard?)
Is Kobe the best player ever? 81 points? In one game? That's quite an accomplishment, but what does it say about the rest of the Lakers that he took 48 shots without a teammate clotheslining him or stealing the ball a la Dwight from The American Office? C'mon, Smush or Bill Walton's kid -- have some pride for pete's sake. Anyway, if Kobe keeps on playing like this he may reclaim the title of the Next Jordan from Lebron, who by the way just became the youngest player ever to score 5000 points. Is Lebron-Kobe the Bird-Magic of the 00's? Can the Lakers get a suitable second banana for Kobe? How does Phil Jackson feel about this?

I'm sorry. This post was supposed to be about answers, not questions. The season is half-over, and that means we know some stuff. Not all the stuff, mind you, but some.

The Things I was Right About (with relevant quotes):

This year, the sleeping giant will awaken again, this time with improved focus. They don’t like the fact that everyone is writing them off, and they want their respect back. The core of the team that won two years ago is still intact, so there’s no reason to suggest a focused Pistons team won’t be as good as it was two years ago...This team may not lose more than 10 games all year.
I said this at the beginning of the season, and lo and behold, the Pistons are 33-5 right now. They're clearly the best team in the league. You people should listen to me more.
Whatever happened to the “all-for-one, one-for-all” attitude his Miami Heat teams always displayed when he was coach? Was signing all those shoot-first ball-hogs just a secret plot to get his coach fired? If so, why didn’t he just fire him?
This question is as relevant now as it was then, since Pat Riley indeed forced Stan Van Gundy out after a slow start. Man, I'm good.

The Eastern Conference, more or less. Comparing the order I picked with the real order so far, I had 7 of the 8 current playoff teams right, with only the Iverson-Webber connection in Philadelphia taking the place of the accursed Bulls, who may never be good again. The bad teams I picked are suitably bad, the ok teams I picked are ok (except for the Knicks -- but don't write them off just yet, holmes), and the good teams lined up pretty much like I thought with the exception of Indiana. Who could have predicted Ron Artest would go insane, though? Er...let's move on.
They have a “Run-JVR” situation going on with Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and Richie Jefferson. After that, it’s a CBA team with marginally better uniforms.
This is talking about the Nets, whom I saw in person last week. Let me say this: If even one of those three guys is injured (as Jefferson was last week), the Nets are done. They're horrible. The Mavericks weren't trying and could have beat them by 50. Having said that, I'm marginally surpirsed they got on that hot streak and sit at 22-16. Don't worry -- they'll fall.
Let’s see, what were the Bucks’ three needs going into this year…get a real small forward, one that can shoot outside (Bobby Simmons, free agent)…get a NBA-quality point guard and get Mo Williams back on the bench where he belongs (TJ Ford came back from injury)…get a center with some post moves (#1 pick Andrew Bogut and now Jamaaaaaal Magloire, they filled this need twice).
The Bucks are vastly improved over last season, even though they have been yo-yo-ing as of late. One of the reasons they are #6 in the East as opposed to #5 like I picked is the fact that their coach sucks. I mentioned post moves in that quote; little did I know their coach doesn't believe in posting up. My bad. His bad.

Things I Was Wrong About (with relevant quotes):
In the same way I was good in the East, I was bad in the West. I only picked 5 of the current playoff teams, with Seattle, Sacramento, and especially Houston looking like they have no chance to do anything this year. Oopsie. In my defense, who knew that Houston's 5 best players would get injured at the same time? They'll be back, you'll see. Probably not this year, though.

The Clippers, Lakers, and Timberwolves are all in the playoffs, and I picked them 13th, 11th, and 10th respectively. Those long-suffering LA fans will finally have something to cheer about (or look aloof about, as is their way). Dyan Cannon looks like a clam.
That doesn’t help the people of Oklahoma City, however, who will see their only experience ever with NBA basketball end in a 20-win season and mocking derision from the rest of the league.
Yeah, they have 20 wins already. Sorry about that. You should probably ignore most of what I say. Good for OKC, though, and good for New Orleans, even though that city won't get to host the games now that the team isn't horrible. It's just one more kick to the crotch of the entire gulf region. On another note, how the heck is this team .500? Do other teams feel sorry for them? The mind boggles.
They’re probably going to start a guy named Smush at point guard. What, God Shammgod wasn’t available? This team won’t even make the playoffs if Kobe does rediscover superstardom and passing.
Ok, so Kobe's rediscovered superstardom, at least for a half-season. And consequently, those scuzzbags are in the playoffs. I shouldn't let my hatred of Kobe cloud my judgement like that. I like the quote, though -- that's why I included it here.

I also failed to take into account the beard of Pau Gasol (in Memphis) and the effectiveness of Boris Diaw(in Phoenix), but so did everybody else.

Looking Forward:

What's clear is that San Antonio is not the far-and-away best team in the NBA, like all those other punks thought they would be. Detroit is better right now, Dallas is tied with them and has looked fantastic as of late, and nobody wants to think about either Amare's return to a 26-14 Phoenix squad or a Shaq-Wade-Riley playoff combo. San Antonio is merely one of 5 contendahs right now. It should be a fun rest of the year for these guys, as long as we ignore all the lottery teams tanking to get more ping-pong balls in the hopper. That happens every year.

And what of my home team, the 21-18 Milwaukee Bucks? Well, they should beat up on some lepers here over the next couple of weeks to get to at least 25-20, and then hopefully they can get healthy and figure out that posting up Bogut and Simmons is not "of the devil" as coach Terry Stotts believes. If they can figure out some sort of identity, they can be fairly successfull. If not, they will slip to .500. It's all up to them.

Now bring on March Madness. I'm tired of these overpaid whiners anyway, dig?


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