I realize that title makes it look like I’m about to start a diatribe about how people should respect and embrace the greatness of the NBA product. Well, I’m not, but they should. We’re coming down to the last games of the NBA season, and as 2010-11 comes to a close, I’ve got some likes and lumps to dish out.
Like: Denver Nuggets 10 man rotation. Man what a blast they are to watch! The George Karl tested and true offensive philosophy of pushing the ball up court and looking for early offense, and then exploiting any mismatch that occurs when teams cross-match in transition… perfect for this crew. Lawson and Felton love to push the rock. Everybody else at every position likes to run. Good size up front with Nene, Birdman, and Mosgoz playing the C and Martin, Harrington, and Chandler giving minutes at 4. Afflalo has been a lockdown defender on the wing, and Smith and Gallo are capable scorers and playmakers. Defensively they are very active and help each other all over. Great squad who really deserved today’s win over the Lakers.
Lump: The Lakers. Everything about them. I hate how Odom, Gasol, and Bynum are so good, they can play Kobe 33 minutes a game. I hate how Derrick Fisher has been committing about 12 fouls a game and flopping all over the court for 15 seasons, and the officials refuse to adjust to his cheating ways. I hate how Phil Jackson sits on the bench with that self-satisfied smirk on his face while doing the same amount of coaching in the game as Jack Nicholson. Mostly I hate how incredibly good they’ve become in the second half of this season while my Celtics are falling apart and losing games to the Pacers and Hawks.
Like: The job Doug Collins has done with the 76ers this year. There’s a team that started slow while Doug integrated winning philosophies that differed completely from last year’s system but has really come around as the season progressed. Doug’s got everybody in the right roles now. Iggie is the do-it-all stopper instead of the go to scorer. Brand is fighting for boards and hitting his short jumpers. Williams and Young are scoring off the bench, and Holiday is attacking. They’ll make life difficult for their first round opponent.
Lump: The fact that the Suns and Rockets are both probably going to miss the playoffs despite having better seasons than the bottom two playoff teams in the East. I’m not necessarily advocating changing the system away from the Conference-based East v. West, but when I have more time to put some thought into it, I might.
Like: The return to prominence of the Chicago Bulls. True, they flirted with relevance in 2007, but injuries derailed that team led by Hinrich, Deng, and Gordon. The last time they were poised to contend, Phil Jackson was sitting on THEIR bench with a self-satisfied smile. Now they’ve got an MVP candidate in Rose, the leading contender for Coach of the Year, the best defense in the NBA, and the best record in the NBA. I don’t think it’s enough to beat the Lakers should they advance that far, but they have as good a shot as anybody.
Lump: The Kendrick Perkins trade. I understand. I do. Without Daniels the Cs had nobody to back up Pierce and Allen against the likes of LeBron, Carmelo, and Deng. Apparently meeting Perkins’s agent’s demands when his contract ended wasn’t going to be possible, and of course the team didn’t really play appreciably better with Perk than they had with Shaq. I get all of that. The problem is that Perkins worried opponents. Post players anticipated a tough game. Drivers anticipated pain. Psychologically, the Celtics have lost an important edge, and they have almost no time to get it back.