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  • Published: Jan 21st, 2010
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The NBA: First half season review

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Game of the week–LA 87 @ Cleveland 93

The Cavs trailed for 3 quarters but the 4th quarter is LeBron time. LeBron scored 37 with 12 in the last period to make the difference. Bryant had 31It was an outstanding game. Varejao adds so much energy and rebounding and that was critical in this game. He hit 2 free throws with 20 seconds to go after forcing a fowl going after a miss on a free throw by LeBron. This is the kind of game that the Cavs would have lost a couple of years ago. They have now swept the Lakers in their 2 games.

Top NBA teams are struggling with injuries.

The top teams from last year are all struggling with injuries.

Cleveland (33-11) leads the Eastern Conference but will not have G Mo Williams for up to a month. They traded for Shaq but Coach Brown has not figured out yet how to make a square peg fit into a round hole. He is not playing enough minutes to have the impact the Cavs expected. The Cavs need to find a way to stay in front of Boston and Orlando to keep the home floor advantage in the East. There are problems on both ends of the court. On O the team is depending too much on LeBron and the others are going to have to make up for the loss of the scoring of Williams. They will particularly miss Mo’s 3 pointers. The D has allowed twice as many 100 point games as they did last year at this point in the season.

Boston (27-13) has been playing without Garnett for too long. They hope to have him back this week. That is going to help them get back in the run for the top spot in the East. Boston has lost games they should have been able to win like recent losses to Detroit, Chicago and Dallas.

Atlanta (27-14) has crept up on the big three by winning most of the games they should be able to and pulling off a few upsets. But after a really nice win over Phoenix, they lost at home to Oklahoma City. Just like last year, their problem has been consistency of intensity.

Orlando (27-15) has had a tough January so far. They are only 3-6 since the first of the year. That included a couple of tough road trips and a costly loss at home to Toronto. Despite a win over Atlanta in that run, they fell behind the Hawks due to the losses on the road. Road trips tend to even out over the season. Orlando has more talent that the Hawks and should overtake them.

Charlotte (21-19) has been one of the hottest teams in January. They have gone 9-1 including wins at Cleveland and Miami. They have moved up to 5th place in the East. Their only loss was a bad game at New York. If the Bobcats can stay hot, they have a chance to move higher in the final rankings. Don’t bet on that though. Starting on the 25th they have a 6 game west coast road trip that will bring them back to reality.

Miami (21-20) went 3-3 in a January west coast trip and is 5-5 in January. They took a bad loss on Wednesday to the Bobcats 104-65. The team has been very inconsistent. They are also playing Wade 37 minutes a game which may be too much. They need his scoring as well as his assists.

Western Conference

Los Angles (32-10) has the best record in the league but the team has been up and down in intensity. Bryant has been playing hurt because the team isn’t close to the same without him. He looks healthy now and playing again at a high level. However, his accuracy on 3 point shots has suffered due to a finger injury. The Lakers have a 2 games in the loss column advantage over the Cavs going into the game last night between the two conference leaders. They are 7-3 in January but lost to the Clippers 102-91. Including last night, they are on a 7 game road trip to the east cost. That will be key to their ability to stay on top.

Dallas (28-14) is 5-3 so far in 2010. They had a nice win at Boston and are in a 5 game east road trip. They have to find a way to beat the Lakers. They have already lost to LA twice this month. Despite the team trying to build to beat LA, they don’t match up well. They have missed Howard. He has only played 21 game so far. He is critical to the team’s success.

Denver (27-14) is hot. They are 7-3 in 2010 including a nice win at home against the Cavs 99-97. The key is that the Nuggets are winning the close games which is something they had trouble doing last year. They have 10 players averaging 10 or more minutes a game. That helps. Billips is averaging 18.8 points per game. That helps too. He has been the best addition this team has had in a long time.

San Antonio (25-16) has gone 6-5 in 2010. They are currently 4th in the West but because they have so much talent and experience in the playoffs, they are always a threat to get to the finals. When you have a player the quality of Ginobili coming off the bench, you are really good. Despite the age of the roster the team has been pretty healthy this year. That could be trouble for the rest of the league in the playoffs.

Portland (26-17) has suffered the loss of C Oden. He was the first pick in the 07 draft but seems very brittle. His entire career is threatened by his injuries. Even so they have been one of the pleasant surprises in the league this year. They have gone 5-4 in January. Roy and Aldridge have picked up the slack. Roy is scoring 23 a game with 5 assists and Aldridge is pulling down over 8 rebounds a game. They are too inexperienced to know they shouldn’t be doing this well. That makes them dangerous.

Phoenix (25-18) has been a surprise. They failed to make the playoffs last year but are 1 win up in the standings for the 6th spot. There was a lot of trade talk involving Stoudemire last off season but he is back and playing well putting up 21 points a game. The key is that he has been able to play nearly 35 minutes a game. Nash, Richardson, Frye and Grant have all been contributing and have been healthy so far.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday morning at 11. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA,NBA Playoffs,Cavilers,Celtics,Hawks,Magic,Bobcats,Heat,Lakers,Maverics,Nuggets,Spurs,Suns,Trail Blazers,LeBron James,Bryant
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Niblets for September 2009

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Best comment of the month: The Browns lack of offense rests primarily on a defective O line.

On NFLDraftDog.com

So Will,let me get this straight once again Cleveland sports fans have coaches/gm’s, scouts, that can’t scout and review talent? WHAT is it going to take to get more then one sports team to play well in this city? The 90’s we finally had a good baseball team. The Browns had one playoff game with a not so great team. Now the Cavs are the talk of the NBA,( For being good not for having the league stop them from making trades because they were making a mockery of the league..good ole Ted Stepien),anyway back to the Browns and the Indians two “PRO “teams that can’t seem to be a good judge of talent to save themselves or the sanity of Cleveland sports teams.

Thankfully the Cavs start playing soon…C’Mon LBJ AND SHAQ!

P.S. Keep guns away from the rest of the team…for more info look up Delonte West. Thankfully we have Mo and other guards.

One of the things I have never been able to figure out is why a new regime insists on cutting every player they did not pick. The Browns who are desperate for TE help just cut the Browns 2nd pick in the 08 draft Martin Rucker (4th round pick 111). He was a great prospect that never got a chance. I would bet that if he had played for Mangenous at NY, he would be a starter. I will have more on this issue below.

Updates on previous columns:

What does the Williams’ case mean for the NFL’s drug policy?

Not only the NFL is concerned about the ruling by the federal court. Both the NBA and MLB are studying the impact on their drug programs. In addition look for Congress to become involved again should another case invalidate the drug policy of baseball.

Another issue is the concept of a league and the union agreeing to the ability to suspend players for other issues. DeMaurice Smith, Ex. Dir. of the NFLPA, said again last week that he wants to include the issue of discipline in the negotiations for the Collective Bargaining Agreement. He has said he wants an independent arbiter to decide those issues.

What to look for this weekend (yesterday)

Florida has several players including QB Tebow that have been sick this week. Don’t expect that to have much to do with the game. They still should win easily.

The Jets have some explaining to do.

Mangini was fined a reported $25K for not reporting the Favre injury. The team was also fined.

Niblets fresh from the cob:

The 49ers still have not signed their #1 choice WR Crabtree (Texas Tech).

They have started to take money off the table equal to 2 of the game checks that would have been earned. The reality is that Crabtree is hurting himself more than the team. If he goes back into the draft, he will be at best a 2nd round pick because teams will not want to risk using a 1st round pick on a head case. He has branded himself that due to his stupidity.

The Browns are exposed as the fraud they are.

Mangini stuck with St. Clair at RT and no one by yours truly seemed to have a problem with it until last week. Now everybody has seen “the statue” watch DEs and OBs go around him like a traffic circle on their way to the QB. I feel sorry for both Quinn and the D because they are not getting any help from the O.

Mangini could have had a couple of NFL starters as UFAs but chose to go with his guys. I hope that Quinn has his health insurance paid up. He’s going to need it.

I called SEIU to ask them to unionize the Big 10 football officials.

I was hoping that they would go on strike so we could get some guys that know the rules and aren’t 100 years old and 50 lbs overweight. The Big 10 officials are the worst in college football. I told a semi-pro official once that if he moved the ball again before he took the 1st down measurement, … you will have to wait for the rest of the Almost Pro to see what happened.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL Football,NFL Draft,Florida,Tebow,Williams,court case,NFLPA,Collective bargaining agreement,DeMaurice Smith,Mangini,Browns,Jets,Favre,SEIU,Big 10,Crabtree,49ers,UFA
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