NBA Playoffs: Garnett Gives A “Throwback” Performance

Kevin Garnett

For a second I thought I was watching Kevin Garnett, the MVP back when he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Last night, Garnett put on of the best playoff performances and did something no Boston Celtic has ever done in their rich history.

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Chicago Bulls 95, Atlanta Hawks 83: Game 5 Reaction, Analysis, Stankonia


83% of game 5 winners in a NBA Playoff series, when the series was tied 2-2 heading in, have gone on to win the series. Great news for the Chicago Bulls, bad news for the Atlanta Hawks.

-Was there a Taj.O web redemption in game 5? Maybe?

Taj Gibson had 11 points – all in the fourth quarter. Derrick Rose also scored 11 in the fourth to close it out, as the Bulls dominated the Hawks 26-15 in the final stanza. But Gibson had a whopping 2 rebounds (that’s 2 more than a dead guy) to go with his 0 (that’s the same amount as a dead guy) in game four.

-So when you start your “Rise of Taj” jokes/headlines remember this 1.) that reference is cliche and unfunny, you sound like a douche. 2.) He’s not ready to supplant Carlos Boozer yet. He’s just a good bench contributor.

By Paul M. Banks

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Chicago Bulls Looking for Game 2 Vengeance on Atlanta Hawks

luvabulls dancers

Yay. Derrick Rose won the MVP. Let’s celebrate. Yay.

Okay, time to get back to things that are actually, you know, important. Saying the Bulls laid an egg in Game one is an insult to laying eggs.

The Bulls absolutely dominated the Hawks in the regular season winning two out of three games with a margin of victory of 25.5 points. In the game they lost, the Bulls blew a double-digit lead.

The Bulls are better than the Hawks. But No one would believe that if they watched the game Monday night. So what do the Bulls need to do to rebound from their horrid performance in the series-opening game? Let’s discuss.

By: Brian McCabe

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UNC Quartet helped NBA Draft Stock by returning to School


By Paul M. Banks

In 2006, Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and Corey Brewer all decided to return to Florida in hopes of winning back-to-back national titles, a feat that came to fruition.

Last summer, North Carolina faced a similar situation.  The Tar Heels saw sophomores Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington, and junior Danny Green declare for the NBA Draft, but later pull their names out in hopes of bringing a championship to Chapel Hill.  Also returning to UNC was National Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough.  With all that experience returning, the Heels did what they set out to do, breezing through the NCAA Tournament and defeating Michigan State in the championship game.  Now the four Tar Heels will try to follow in the footsteps of the Gators, when Horford, Brewer, and Noah were three of the top nine picks in the 2007 NBA Draft.

“We all accomplished something very special and now we’re here this year trying to take that next step,” Wayne Ellington said at the NBA Draft Combine before discussing how playing another year in college and winning a title helped their stock. “We definitely didn’t hurt ourselves at all, we all got better individually and as a team and we did it on the biggest stage, and that definitely helps your resume.”

Tyler Hans….must I actually type out his name?
Off the four Heels that will be drafted, Hansbrough is obviously the most heralded (and over exposed).  But despite all the accolades (and the ridiculous amount of coverage) this polarizing player received during his collegiate career, scouts question how his game will translate into the NBA.  We all became nauseuous from incessantly hearing about his hustle, heart, determination, blah, blah, blah and how his fearless attitude on the court earned him the nickname “Psycho T.”  But those attributes will only take you so far in the pro game as raw talent tends to take over.  Duke N Carolina Basketball

“I’m not going to work out for a lot of teams, probably about 8, I’ve played for four years, these guys have seen me play, and I don’t think they’re going to judge me by one workout,” Hansbrough said at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. Everyone’s favorite player to hate will certainly be a first round pick, likely going as high as 16th overall to the Bulls and dropping as low as the mid-20’s, but his outlook at the next level is more of a role player, an energy guy who can come off the bench, grab rebounds, and do everybody’s favorite cliché, “the little things that don’t show up in the box score.” Hansbrough gave a mind-numbing cliché when asked about where he might end up. “I’ll work out with these eight teams that I think I fit in best with and we’ll go from there,” Hansbrough said.

Ty Lawson

Lawson is a tough prospect to figure out.  Because the point guard class is so deep this year, it is hard to tell where teams will rank him compared to others.  I would not be surprised if Lawson went as high at number ten to the Bucks, but also wouldn’t be shocked if he fell into the early 20’s. “I’d love to play there,” Lawson said about Milwaukee, “I talked to the coaches yesterday, and their ones play up and down, that’s my type of game. They have a lot of weapons, Michael Redd, Richard Jefferson, Andrew Bogut, so there are a lot of options and I wouldn’t mind going there,” the student of the game said.

Whoever drafts Lawson will get a proven floor leader and someone who understands how to run an offense.  He is lightning quick with the basketball and a great distributor.  The biggest concern regarding Lawson last year was his inconsistent outside shooting, but he increased his three-point percentage from 36% to 47% during his junior campaign, proving he can knock down big shots when needed. Lawson himself is pretty confident in his J. When I asked him what are the best things he brings to the NBA table Lawson responded, “probably my speed, leadership, I think I can shoot with the best of them, me and Steph Curry are probably the best shooters out of the group, and I can take care out of the ball, so I think that separates me from the rest of the group.”

Wayne Ellington

Ellington is a pure shooter who had one of the prettiest strokes in college basketball.  He has a great mid-range game, knows to move without the ball, but is too often streaky from downtown.  His athleticism isn’t ideal for most NBA two-guards and hasn’t shown a tenacity to attack the basket.  More than likely, Ellington will be a solid role player at the next level because of his ability to shoot the rock, but it is doubtful that he will ever become a go-to player.  He could realistically go as high as #12 to Charlotte, but more than likely falls into the late-teen’s/early-twenties. Ellington was asked where he might fit in within the big picture, “Right now all you can do is work, I’ve been working hard and getting ready and preparing myself,” he responded.

Danny Green

Partially due to the ridiculous amount of unnecessary hype surrounding Hansbrough, perhaps no player in college basketball did more for his team and received less attention for it than Green.  He isn’t going to blow you away with any particular part of his game, but does a little bit of everything truly earning the title “glue guy.”  Green validated this concept when I asked him what his most saleable skill is. “I don’t like to categorize myself in one area or be put in one category, I’m a basketball player. Whatever a team needs me to do, I’ll do. Whether it’s box out, grab rebounds, play defense, get steals, block shots, spot up shooting, whatever it is, I’m going to try and do,” Green said.

Offensively, he is a solid shooter, decent ball-handler, and can post up small defenders on the block.  His defense is what will likely allow him to stick on an NBA team because he can guard on both the perimeter and the post.  If he lands in the right situation, he could be an invaluable bench player and a steal of a second round pick. I asked Green who people compare his game to. “My younger brother likes to compare me to Brandon Roy and hopefully, I can do some of the things that he can do because we’re the same height, same build,” Green responded.

Alley-OOP & the SCOOP on what’s going on Around the NBA Hoop:

 2009 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Special Edition

By: Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson

 The 2009 NBA season has been exciting, and it’s been a joy to see NBA players and teams emerge. The Western Conference, as far as seeding, was a dog fight until the last regular season game. And the Eastern Conference has been dominated by the Cavaliers. The emergence of this young Portland Trailblazers team has been encouraging, the improvement of the Denver Nuggets has taken your breath away, and the Lakers dominance has been unsurprising.

The first round of the NBA Playoffs is upon us and many are wondering- are any surprises going to take place? Well maybe a couple.

Without further ado, here’s the Scoop:

Eastern Conference

1 Cleveland Cavaliers (66-16) vs. 8 Detroit Pistons (39-43):

 On paper you’re intimidated by these two team names right? You’re thinking of the LeBron James heroics in the 2007 Eastern Conference finals when he scored 48 points and 29 of Cleveland’s last 30 in a double OT victory over the Pistons. Remember that game when Rasheed Wallace threw a temper tantrum? Yeah, that’s the same Rasheed Wallace but a different Pistons team who Frank Lucas’ed (“American Gangster” for the movie-challenged) their way into the playoffs. The team has dealt with a lot of internal confusion season with trades, and lineup malfunctions. But this team played so-so toward the end of the season.  The roster make up is a little different too. Chauncey Billups is no longer a Piston. Rodney Stuckey has stepped into Billups’ role and done quite well averaging 13.4 points per game and 4.9 assists per game.
 Oh yeah, but what about the Cavs? The 66-16 Cavs, own the NBA’s best record in the league and are expected to be crowned NBA Champions at the end of the year. LeBron James, the favorite to win the NBA Most Valuable Player Award has been unstoppable this year and is averaging 28.4 points per game, 7.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists. But it’s not been just James doing all of the work, unlike in years past. He’s got a demolition crew to work with. Fellow NBA all star teammate Mo Williams has been putting in work averaging 17.8 points per game, along with center Zydrunas Ilgauskas who is averaging 12.9 points per game. Delonte West and Anderson Varejao are also plentifully contributing to the Cavs success.

Although the Pistons are aging, don’t expect this series to be an easy one for the Cavs. The Pistons have always delivered when looked down upon. Don’t you remember the 2004 NBA Finals when they beat a Lakers team with Kobe, Karl Malone, Shaq and Gary Payton? However I still see this series as Cleveland’s.

Prediction: Cavs win in 6

2 Boston Celtics (62-20) vs. 7 Chicago Bulls (41-41):

 Is Kevin Garnett playing? That’s what everyone in Beantown wants to know. But the misconception is that Garnett’s status in the series predicates the Celtics success. Let’s not forget that there are 2 All Stars in the starting lineup in Ray Allen and 2008 NBA Finals NBA Finals MVP Paul Pierce who are more than capable of taking over games themselves. And Boston is 18-7 this year without KG. What is most impressing is the developing maturity of former LSU standout Glen Davis in Kevin Garnett’s absence. Davis has stepped up where it has mattered most (in the interior) since Kevin Garnett’s injury on February 19 against the Utah Jazz.

Cal-Berkley product Leon Powe will also be a key contributor in this series. Let’s not forget that the Celtics also signed Mikki Moore and Brooklyn, NY legend Stephon Marbury for a reason. This team will be okay in the first round.

 The Chicago Bulls, however are no sleepers. The Bulls, considered underachievers last year nabbed Derrick Rose, a Chicago native in the 2008 NBA Draft from Memphis. Rose has had a phenomenal NBA season averaging, 16.8 points per game and 6.3 assist per game, and garnering serious consideration as this year’s NBA Rookie of the Year. The Bulls season gained some serious upside when they organization made two trades at the trading deadline  and acquired John Salmons, Brad Miller and Tim Thomas.
 Yet exciting to watch, this team will not have enough power to defeat a well oiled machine in the Celtics.

3 Orlando Magic (59-23) vs. 6 Philadelphia 76ers (41-41):

 This is the iffy game. Philadelphia’s talent is not reflected in this 41-41 record. The team should be holding rosary beads and saying 100 Hail Mary’s somewhere in a church on the Mainline of Philadelphia thankful that they are in the playoffs. This team struggled at the end of the season as they were trying to find their way with new players. Subsequently, Mo Cheeks was fired and Tony DiLeo took the helm as interim coach of the Sixers. Point guard Andre Miller did a heck of a job with this team. The former University of Utah star averaged 16.3 points per game with an impressive 6.3 assist per game. Lou Williams also strung together some stellar games this season for them.

The 59-23 Magic had a stellar season. They’re led by All-Star Center Dwight Howard who leads the NBA in double doubles, averaging a whopping 20.6 and 13.8 rebounds per game. They also have Hedo Turkoglu who has had a great season and all-star Rashard Lewis who’s benefited greatly in Stan Van Gundy’s offense. Let’s not forget point guard Rafer Alston who was acquired before the NBA trading deadline and saved the Magic from having a not-so great season after St. Joe’s product Jameer Nelson was sidelined with a dislocated right shoulder.

Philadelphia is still the favorite, because Orlando has some deficiencies. The primary concern is the severity of Hedo Turkoglu’s injury that he sustained against the New Jersey Nets a week ago. Secondly, how well with Rashard Lewis play after coming back from his bone bruise injury.

These two teams do match up very well. They both play run and gun and up tempo offense. The point guard matchup between Rafer Alston and Andre Miller will be very exciting to watch. Let’s not forget the swingman battle between Andre Iguodala and rookie Courtney Lee. The difference maker in this game will be how well Dwight Howard plays and collectively how Sixers centers Samuel Dalembert and Theo Ratliff handle Howard.
 In the end I still believe that the Sixers have the upper hand because they are simply a tougher and rugged team.

Prediction: Sixers in 7

4 Atlanta Hawks (47-35) vs. 5 Miami Heat (43-39):

 This game is also Must see NBA TV. Nobody believed in the Atlanta Hawks last year, and they took it to the Boston Celtics in the first round. Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Al Horford and company have gotten better and shown people that they can play team ball under head coach Mike Woodson.

Dwyane Wade is playing basketball like it is going out of style. The 2006 NBA Finals MVP has been putting on a clinic nightly. His stat line: 30.2 points per game, 5 rebounds per game and 7.5, makes you wonder (like Stevie) is it the shoes?

First year Heat Coach, Erik Spoelstra, has done a phenomenal job in guiding this young team to success. He’s young, inexperienced, but hungry for success. I still look for the Hawks to have the better hand.

Prediction:  Hawks in 7