• Author:
  • Published: Jun 13th, 2009
  • Category: NBA Basketball
  • Comments: Comments Off on The Magic can pick up their parting gifts on their way out of the playoffs.

The Magic can pick up their parting gifts on their way out of the playoffs.

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We have a home version of our game for each of the departing Magic players.

The Lakers have the NBA championship in their hip pocket. The Magic was a victim of poor shooting and the lack of home court advantage. It is almost impossible for any team to win 3 straight games at home against a championship quality opponent. The Magic proved that they could not stand the heat.

More important, Dwight Howard proved that he could not stand the heat. This is not the same team that played Cleveland so well. The Magic looked very tight. When Howard missed the free throws at the end of regulation, it was also the end of the Magic’s dream of a title.

The Lakers were in foul trouble, on the road, and tired. Even so, they found a way to steal game 4 from the Magic. Even if the Magic manage to win game 5, they are done. They will not be able to win one game against the Lakers in LA let alone 2. The Magic only won game 3 by shooting a record percentage.

The Lakers have a history of taking a game off. They may well lose game 5. They will not lose 3 in a row. If the Magic couldn’t win 3 in a row in Orlando, how can they expect to win 3 with 2 of those games in LA?

Games 5 and 6 will tell us a lot about how finals ready the Magic are. If they win game 5 and give the Lakers a real tough game 6, they may have the grit to win a title in the future. If not, they could well be remembered along with the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings as teams that could get to multiple championship series but not ever win a championship.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA Finals,NBA Playoffs,Magic,Lakers,LA,Orlando,NFL Playoffs,Vikings,Bills

The Cavs are a 1972 Comet with a Ferrari engine.

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Our Comet is old and looks slow. But the horsepower provided by the engine will eventually tear the car apart.

The Cavs won last night. Lebron James, the Ferrari engine, had a direct hand in the last 32 points by his team. He either scored or had an assist on each of those shots. The problem for the Cavs is no matter how this series turns out the team needs to be reworked this off season if they want to have any chance to keep Lebron in town after June 2010.

The Cavs are fine as they stand for the regular season. They feed nicely on the Knicks, Wizards, Pacers and such. They can win at home against the Bulls and Celtics. The problem is that in the playoffs, they have one REALLY bad match-up—The Magic. And unless the Cavs can win a title this year or next, Lebron is most likely going to go to a team that can. Could you even imagine how good the Magic would be with Lebron? Would you rather spend the winter in Orlando or Cleveland?

If Lebron went to the Magic, that team would win 6 or 7 straight titles.

Due to the Bird exception in the salary cap, the Cavs are going to be able to offer Lebron more money than any other team. But money is not what motivates Lebron. He is a winner. He doesn’t want to be saddled with a team that wins in the regular season but falls short in the playoffs.

What the Cavs have:

In the NBA, it is not a question of what a team should do to improve. It is a question of what a team CAN do to improve. With guaranteed contracts, NBA players are a lot like the Scud Missile under Saadam—You can’t fire it and you can’t make it work. But the Cavs should have a lot of wiggle room in the 09 off season.

Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak, and Lorenzen Wright are unrestricted FA at the end of the season. That should free up over 29 mil in salary cap. In addition, Zydrunas Ilgauskas has an early termination option (ETO) in his contract. The team could lose him as well freeing up another 10.8 mil.

After next season, Sasha Pavlovic and Ben Wallace are free agents in addition to James with his player option. Together the three will provide 33 million in free money.

Anderson Varejao has a player option. If he doesn’t like what the Cavs are doing, he is likely to go. He has played fairly well this season. He is not starting quality but would be an excellent off the bench energy player for a contender.

What the Cavs need:

The series against Orlando makes one thing clear—to win championships they are going to have to beat the Magic in the playoffs over the next few years. They can not do that now.

The most critical needs for the Cavs are a reliable 3 point scorer and a quick big man with the feet to defend Howard and rebound. The Cavs had a chance to bring Ohio State alum SG Michael Redd to Cleveland a couple of years ago but did not. He is a consistent 3 point gunslinger.

The plan of all plans for the Cavs (that will never happen but should):

Kobe Bryant has an ETO in his contract this season. He want the max contract but he wants to win more. Bring Bryant in to pair with Lebron. You have 33 mil next year to give to Lebron. If Bryant comes in, Ilgauskas will stay. That would provide the Cavs with the scoring they need and one more outstanding defensive force. You can find another D player with a little scoring ability for the mid range exception.

Would Bryant come to Cleveland? Good question. To win a couple of titles, he might. There is no question that Bryant wanted to prove that he could win a title without Shaq. But given a chance with a short contract, he might be willing to come.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA,Playoffs,Cavilers,Magic,salary cap,Howard,Lebron,James,Redd,Bryant,Kobe Bryant,Knicks,Wizards,Pacers,Bulls,Celtics

The Cavs are in SERIOUS trouble.

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Saturday’s Niblets will return next week. Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend and thank a Veteran for his or her service to our freedom.

In 50+ years of watching basketball, I have never seen anything close to what I saw last night from Superman Lebron James. Forget the fact that there was only one second left. Forget the fact that the Cavs were 2 points behind. Forget the fact that they had given back a 23 point lead. This was The biggest shot in Cavs history because their survival in the series depended on the shot going in. The Cavs chances of keeping Lebron in town after 2010 depends a lot on winning a championship or two.

I consider myself qualified to make such a statement. I have been a Cavs fan since they came into the league. Along with a few thousand other fans, I suffered through the Walt Westley Bingo Smith era. I was there when in the old downtown arena the Cavs beat the Lakers for the first time. When the team needed to raise money and sold stock, I bought some.

I also suffered through the playoff losses to Michael Jordan. But this team was different. It had a killer instinct that previous Cavs teams lacked. Or at least it seemed like they did.

The fact that the Cavs lost 2 games at home in the playoffs against the Magic after having leads of 15 and 23 points is inexcusable. The Cavs lost that game last night. It was Lebron that won it rather than the Cavs as a team.

There are a number of things that point to a Magic win in the series. First, the Cavs can not seem to handle the pick and roll. Time and time again the Magic ran the P&R and got totally open shots because the Cavs defenders were too slow to provide defense on the ball. The Cavs were doubling Dwight Howard down low. The Magic adjusted and began to make the extra pass to a wide open 3 point shooter with great success. The Cavs never adjusted to the change and got burned. I am not convinced that Howard is enough of an offensive threat to warrant doubling the entire game. The Cavs have to get more pressure on the outside shooter to win the series.

At one time in his injury history, I was convinced that the word Ilgauskas was Greek for “man with bad feet.” I realize now that it refers to a 7 foot Greek statue. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is no match defensively for any of the Magic big men. Away from the basket Z is a defensive liability on anything that can move faster than a lamp post. Lebron is the only Cav with length that has the feet to guard any of the front line members of the Magic. Obviously, he can’t guard 3 guys at the same time.

The Cavs shot selection was abysmal. Mo Williams is in a slump shooting 13 for 40. No one other than Lebron is stepping up to fill in. When the Magic were making their comeback late in the 2nd quarter, time after time, the Cavs were taking long 2 point or 3 point shots. Ilgauskas was outside taking 15 to 18 foot 2 point shots with no one under the basket to provide an offensive rebound. That is just dumb. The Cavs are not a 3 point team. They don’t have a wealth of players that can hit those shots regularly. They are much more of a half court offense.

The successful Cav half court offense depended on ball movement. That requires movement of the players without the ball. In the critical period of the game with the Magic cutting the lead, the majority of the Cavs were standing around on the offensive end of the floor. They have to get back to Cavs offense—half court moving the ball around the floor and 4 guys without the ball working to get open. The Cavs seem to forget what got them the leads they have been able to build against Orlando.

Rebounding, particularly offensive rebounding has also been nonexistent in those periods when the Magic are making their charge. When the Cavs are cold from the outside, they have to get those second rebound shots to slow the charge. They go blocks of minutes without an O rebound.

While the Magic bench is providing excellent support, the Cavs bench has vanished. Joe Smith and Aleksandar Pavlovic have to step up on both ends of the floor. They haven’t so far in this series. Ben Wallace needs to provide more D than he has so far. Daniel Gibson and Wally Szczerbiak have been ignored totally.

The Cavs that are usually careful with the ball at the O end of the floor were giving the ball away like the Federal Government hands out money. That would be trouble for any team. It is ten times worse for a team that lacks the team foot speed to get back on defense after a turnover.

Worst of all, the Cavs seem to have lost their killer instinct. During the regular season, the Cavs would either get the lead of a dozen points then blow it up to 20 or more or at least finish off the game with the key shots and defensive stops to win. They are doing neither in the two games against the Magic. That has to change if the Cavs are going to get to the finals.

To win this series, the Cavs are going to have to figure out how to stop the P&R. Early in the game the Cavs were doubling the ball and getting stops. The Magic adjusted and began making the extra pass to an open 3 point shooter. The Cavs did not adjust and lost the lead. If they can’t figure out how to stop the P&R with the players that they have, they will get rolled right out of the playoffs.

Some of the pressure will transfer to the Magic for the two games in Orlando. To win the series, they really need to win both games. While the Magic may be able to win another game in Cleveland, they can’t count on that.

There is pressure in any playoff series. The situation has just escalated the pressure a bit on both teams.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: Cavilers,NBA,NBA Playoffs,Magic,James,1 second,Jordan,Lakers,Howard,Ilgauskas,Williams,Smith,Szczerbiak

A funny thing happened on LA's way to the finals!

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I said before the series that if Denver was able to steal the first game because LA was hung over from the series against Houston, LA might be in trouble. LA managed to win game 1 by a margin that made the Senatorial election in Minnesota look like a landslide. Then came game 2 last night.

The Nugget win in Game 2 was impressive for several reasons. The biggest factor is that the Lakers have no way to counter either Chauncey Billups or Carmelo Anthony. LA PG Derek Fisher is not strong enough to get physical with Billups and not athletic enough to match his quickness. Fisher needs help but isn’t getting any because the other guys in gold have their own problems. Kobe Bryant is getting warn out trying to carry the entire team on his back.

A second indication that the Lakers are in trouble is the difference in the physicality of the bigs. Pau Gasol is a finesse player. It is also clear that Andrew Bynum is no where near 100%. Bynum doesn’t seem to have the explosiveness he showed before his latest injury. When Denver’s Nenê decides to play hard, Gasol and Bynum are little more than speed bumps on the way to the basket.

Lamar Odom is one of the most over rated players in the league. He is struggling against the Nuggets.

The one thing that the Lakers can depend on is their depth vs. that of the Nuggets. The Nugget starters may run out of gas because of the Laker depth. In game 1, the Denver bench did little to contribute. But in game 2 Linas Kleiza had a coming out party scoring 16 points on 5-8 shooting in 21 minutes. The Lakers have to hope that was a one time explosion.

The Nuggets’ Kenyon Martin is unchallenged on both ends of the floor. It seems no one in LA wants to get in his way. Maybe a Laker should have a chat with Martin’s Mom. Look how well that worked out for Dallas.

The Lakers are in trouble. They are going to have to get a split at Denver or they will be in danger of not making the finals. They either have to start to play much more physically or hope that Nenê and a couple of other Nuggets take some games off. I don’t expect that to happen.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA,NBA Playoffs,Nene,Lakers,Nuggets,Billups,Bynum,Odom,Kleiza,Fisher,Bryant,Gasol,Martin,Maverics,Mom

Lebron's teamates had the most expensive seat in the house.

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Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals was a debacle for the Cavs. The loss was potentially devastating for the Cavs chances of getting their star the only thing he doesn’t have and wants—an NBA title. The problem was not rust after the long layoff. The Cavs started fine and built a double digit lead. The problem wasn’t an off night for Lebron—he scored 49. I can’t believe that the Cavs took the Magic lightly because they had just finished off the NBA champion Celtics.

The problem was that the other 4 starters for the Cavs had the most expensive seat in the house—standing on the floor watching Lebron take on the Magic alone.

I am a self admitted Cavs fan. That aside, I couldn’t believe that with less than 15 seconds left, the Cavs kicked the ball out for a 3 when they were only 1 point behind! With all star big man Dwight Howard on the bench with 6 fouls, take the ball to the hole!

The thing that worries Cav fans the most was watching the Cavs in the 4th quarter turn into Lebron and the 4 statues. He can do a lot but can’t beat the Magic all by himself.

This was the kind of game that the Cavs won regularly even when the Magic got close and took the lead in the last 2 minutes. They would come back and hit the last couple of shots then get a stop at a critical juncture to preserve the win. But Lebron’s mates were just standing there.

This was potentially a very expensive loss. The Cavs have to win a championship this year or next and preferably both in order to keep Lebron from leaving as a free agent. The key to this series will be games 2 and 3. If the Cavs come back and win the second game in Cleveland and then go to Orlando and win game 3 everything will be fine. But if the Cavs can’t take back home court advantage in the 2 games at Orlando, they could be in trouble.

Orlando has as good a team as the Cavs and maybe better. The Magic has no answer for Lebron. But Cleveland seems to have no answer for Howard. Rashard Lewis has been outstanding in the playoffs. Hedo Turkoglu has also been strong for the Magic.

For the Cavs Delonte West has stepped up during the playoffs but both Mo Williams and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are several points under their scoring per game in the regular season.

There is nothing in the NBA more exciting than watching Lebron James live in person. Cav fans will just have to hope the other 4 players on the floor don’t stop playing to enjoy the James show. If they do, the Cavs will be watching the finals from their living rooms.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA,NBA Playoffs,Cavilers,Magic,eastern conference finals,Howard,James,West,Turkoglu,Lewis,Ilgauskas,Williams,Celtics
  • Author:
  • Published: May 19th, 2009
  • Category: NBA Basketball
  • Comments: Comments Off on Sacramento hoping for Ping Pong ball with Blake Griffin's name on it!

Sacramento hoping for Ping Pong ball with Blake Griffin's name on it!

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The NBA Draft Lottery is being held tonight before the Laker Nugget game. The NBA has gone to the lottery because they can’t trust the teams to try to win rather than dumping the season to get the first draft choice. That says a lot about the teams.

At one time, the ping pong ball machine was run live on TV. But now the actual ping pong ball selection is held behind the scenes. That says a lot about the league.

Was it an accident that C Patrick Ewing went to the NY Knicks? How about the coincidence of Lebron James going to the Cavs? The chances of either one of these events happening is less than one of my novels being picked up by Tom Hanks to be made into a feature film. The likelyhood of these two events happening together is less than you winning a 500 million dollar lottery.

The league would like you to think that everything about the draft order is on the up and up. If it was, they would bring the machine out from behind the curtain and let us see the balls selection. The NBA has no intention of doing that.

So the league that brought us the referee owned by gamblers and the non-suspension suspension and visa versa for all stars over the last couple of years think we trust them to be honest about the ping pong ball deal? I don’t think that for a minute. Neither does anyone that reads this column regularly. You are smarter than that. But the majority of NBA fans don’t seem to have a problem with it. So as you watch the action or lack there of at tonight’s extravaganza, think fondly of me. And don’t let anything surprise you when the cards come out of order.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA,NBA Draft,NBA Playoffs,Lottery,Griffin,Oklahoma,Sacramento,Knicks,Cavilers,Ewing,Lebron,James,draft lottery,Lakers,Nuggets

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