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NBA Picks and Rolls: The Cassell Beams to Boston and Other Tales of NBA Adventure

February 28, 2008

Sam Cassell On The Move Again

- Just a day after saying a buyout from the Clips was unlikely, Sam Cassell is packing his well-traveled bags once again. Marc Spears at the Globe has the goods on Sam Cassell’s imminent buyout and move to Boston. It will be the eighth stop of Sam’s NBA career. Cassell will back up ETB favorite Rajon Rondo and provide a scoring punch off the bench. He should also eat into some of Rondo’s minutes as the season wears on, but most importantly he provides a veteran presence at the point and a backup option in case Rondo get injured or into foul trouble in the playoffs. When Rondo missed some time earlier this year we saw just how thin the Celts are at the point, as the offense completely stagnated and they weren’t able to generate any penetration from up top.

Sam Cassell Photo Credit: Icon SMI

The two have nearly opposite skill sets, with Sam I Am a purely offensive player and spot-up shooter with some of the biggest balls in the league. This move isn’t as major as you might think, but I fully expect Cassell to knock down some big, clutch shots in the playoffs. Over the last dozen plus years he’s been one of the best clutch shooters in the league and he’s money from the line (86.1% FTs for his career). In late-game situations the Celtics just got even more scary. When the game comes down to the wire, how do you cover these guys? They have multiple options capable of knocking down big shots and you simply can’t double-team KG, Ray Allen or Paul Pierce anymore. It’s not a done deal yet though, as the Globe’s David Lefort points out, “Cassell has to clear waivers by midnight Eastern on Friday to be eligible to play for another team in the postseason.”

- When I suggested that two-time MVP Steve Nash might be overrated, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. A torrid 48 hours of angry and ecstatic comments ensued in what has to go down as the most fevered and divisive debate in ETB comments history. Over 200 people weighed in with some very well-reasoned arguments on both sides of the issue, along with the usual gaggle of morons. The crux of my argument was that he’s a very poor player on defense, and that’s at least half of the game of basketball. Elite players can’t just be great half the time. I also mentioned that Chris Paul was a better player right now because his game is so well-rounded.

Fast-forward to Wednesday night, when Nash’s Suns visited Paul in The Big Easy. Paul dominated Nash on both ends of the floor, breaking his ankles early and often, dropping dimes on his head and completely shutting Nash down on defense. Real MVP candidate Chris Paul finished with 25 points, 15 assists, 6 boards, 3 steals and just 1 TO while holding Nash to 8 points on 1-of-6 shooting with 13 assists, 0 rebounds and 4 TOs. New Orleans cruised to an easy 120-103 win. That is all.

- In other PG news, Bibby did Sacramento last night. After he was shipped to the ATL I fully expected Mike Bibby to become the playmaker at the point the Hawks have been lacking for years, but it didn’t happen right away. Bibby finally blew up as the distributor we thought he could be though, with 24 points and 12 assists with just 1 TO, albeit against a soft Sac Town defense. Bibby got everybody involved as he, J-Smoove, Josh Childress, Al Horford and Joe Johnson all finished in double figures and Atlanta shot .48.2% FGs as a team. Bibby is now averaging 6.5 assists as a Hawk, and if he can start to gel with these young cats in Atlanta, look for the Hawks to make some noise from here on out and earn themselves a chance to be embarrassed in the first round by Detroit or Boston.

- A heads up to all you bloggers out there, our boys over at Hardwood Paroxysm are planning a very special tribute to one of their least favorite players: Kobe Bean Bryant. I’m planning on hosting a hilarious Friars’ Club Roast. Audience participation is encouraged.

The Lakers have the best bench in the NBA, injury news around the league, the debut of Devin Harris and a tribute to one *very special* young man after the jump…

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No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Feb. 28, 2008 at 9:18pm in NBA, NBA Fantasy News

Forgotten, But Not Gone: Ian Ziering and Downtown Julie Brown Love the NBA

February 28, 2008

Good stuff, kids… and by good stuff I’m of course not referring to those hardcore mid-90s ensembles Richard Lewis and Wesley Snipes have been unfortunate enough to be immortalized in.

1 CommentPosted by Brian Spencer on Feb. 28, 2008 at 9:17pm in NBA

ETB’s NBA Poetry Corner, Featuring Minnesota Timberwolf Rashad McCants

February 28, 2008

Who Wants to Sex Rashad McCants?Minnesota Timberwolves young gun Rashad McCants has a spiffy new website, where he shares all sorts of things from his love of tattoos to details on his soon-to-be released clothing line, YBG (Young, Black and Gifted). There’s a lot of fun stuff on the site, including gratuitous shots of Mr. McCants half naked and either flashing his ink or giving us bedroom eyes on every page.

Rashad McCants Photo Credit: Icon SMI

However, it’s the Writings From Rashad section that really caught my eye. Turns out the young man is a poet of no small talent. We at ETB always feel an obligation to share the more artistic side of NBA athletes, so here’s a taste of what you’ll find on his site – and hopefully this won’t be Mr. McCants last appearance in the ETB Poety Corner. Anyone under the age of 18 should stop reading at this point, it gets a little… graphic.

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7 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Feb. 28, 2008 at 4:27pm in NBA

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Good): The Portland Trail Blazers’ Return to Relevancy is Real, But No Playoffs This Year

February 27, 2008

Good times in Portland

Portland Trail Blazers Photo Credit: Icon SMI

As the season winds down, ETB is going to take a look at the state of a number of non-contenders. We’ll talk about what’s going right, what’s not, discuss their key personnel, look at team needs and size up their future.

Today: The Portland Trailblazers

The Blazers are ahead of their time. Nobody expected them to do what they’re doing. Nobody.

Not with a roster loaded with talented-but-unproven youngsters. Not after three straight losing seasons. Not with their prized rookie big man, Greg Oden, spending his first season rehabbing from microfracture surgery. And certainly not playing in a Western Conference that’s perhaps as stacked with mega-talent, top to bottom, as it’s ever been. (Just to nail that home, over in the top-heavy East only five teams have more wins than losses as we head into the final stretch run.)

But here they are, heads still above water and still, technically, in the playoffs hunt with a 29-28 record and 25 games to go. Oden’s unfortunate setback be damned, the Portland crew has brought the stagnating Rose Garden back to life, posting one of the league’s better home records at 21-8 and making their home court one of the few arenas that’s always packed with screaming, passionate fans on any random weekday night.

It’s indeed been a remarkable reconciliation betweens fans and team in Portland. The days of the “Jail Blazers” seem like a distant memory; is it any coincidence that success and team chemistry both arrived the season after Zach Randolph was sent packing? That ragamuffin batch of knuckleheads has now been exterminated (Darius Miles has to retire soon) and replaced with the kind of guys you can root for. Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw, LaMarcus Aldridge, James Jones, Oden, and of course their All-Star leader, Brandon Roy, are the new faces of this franchise… and the nucleus that is going to make a lot of noise and turn a lot of heads in the years to come.

Kevin Pritchard deserves all the credit in the world. It’s hard to imagine where they would be without either of the draft-day trades from last season, where they netted team leaders and cornerstones LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy in exchange for mercurial Tyrus Thomas and apparently injury-prone Randy Foye. It also took some balls and vision to just dump a 20 and 10 guy like Zach Randolph for next to nothing.

In other words, a franchise that hasn’t advanced past the first round of the playoffs since the 2000/01 season — or even qualified for the postseason in 5 years — has finally turned a corner. This season, however, the Trail Blazers will have to settle for being one of the best feel-good stories of the year… because the playoffs are not in the cards this time. No way, no how.

More on the Blazers’ renaissance and why they won’t make the playoffs after the jump…

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7 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Feb. 27, 2008 at 1:13pm in ETB Articles, NBA

The Starcraft World Championship… I Think

February 26, 2008

Wow. I had no idea Starcraft is such a massive phenomena in Korea. And I have no clue what the announcers are saying, but they’re flipping out. The sheer intensity is palpable; the fierce competitors sweating bullets (The loser has his mouse hand removed. Probably). Check the crowd at the 29 second mark, they’re going wild! It’s packed in there, and they even have signs and balloons!

1 CommentPosted by Andrew Thell on Feb. 26, 2008 at 11:47pm in Miscellaneous

Michael Jordan Likes Hot Dogs, Wearing White Socks with Black Shoes

February 26, 2008

The tracking shot of the white socks in black shoes hurts my eyes…

1 CommentPosted by Andrew Thell on Feb. 26, 2008 at 1:33pm in NBA

Is Two-Time MVP Steve Nash Overrated?

February 25, 2008

Steve Nash Lays Down

Stephen John Nash, OC, OBC Photo Credit: Icon SMI

It was an ugly performance from the new-look Phoenix Suns on Sunday, a nationally televised 30-point loss and embarrassment that has generated plenty of chatter. The home crowd was booing loudly for much of the second half, something I haven’t seen in US Airways Center for a long while. Mike D’Antoni’s squad was roundly outplayed by Detroit in all facets of the game, but most noticeable was their complete inability to stop the Pistons from scoring at will right from the tip as all five Detroit starters coasted to double-digit points. The acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal sent shockwaves through the basketball community, with most people questioning how adding an overweight, plodding, lazy, past-his-prime center would affect the Suns dynamic offense. Those concerns were all well founded, and in fact floor general Steve Nash has only tallied 8, 5 and 6 assists in the three games since Shaq came over. I still think that’s going to continue to be a problem, but it’s never been their offense I worry about too much. It’s their atrocious defense, which starts at the top.

Opposing teams are averaging 104.2 points per game against the Suns, fifth most in the NBA — only defensive stalwarts Golden State, Indiana, Memphis and Denver allow more points. This season’s numbers are actually an improvement over last season and the year before, when the Suns allowed 110.2 and 108.4 points per, the most in the league both seasons. So why is Steve Nash never called out for being one of the worst defensive point guards in the NBA?

There’s the obvious caveat here: Steve Nash is a great player. He’s unquestionably the catalyst which has transformed Phoenix’s offense into the best and most exciting in the NBA over the last four seasons. In terms of smooth passing skills, court vision, ball-handling and pure shooting Nash is the best player in the league. I’m not taking any of that away from him. The fact remains, however: on the defensive end of the end of the floor Steve Nash is one of the worst liabilities in the league. Nash simply cannot contain penetration; he is routinely beat off the dribble and he struggles to get back on open shooters.

Sunday’s game was a prime example, with Chauncey Billups able to get anywhere on the floor he wanted to at any time. Mr. Big Shot put up a nice line of 14 points, 11 assists and only 2 TOs… in 20:19 minutes! And it’s not like Billups is one of the quicker points in the NBA, he’s a cagey vet with below-average speed and athleticism. The young guns in the West regularly make Nash look even worse. So why does nobody talk about it?

More Steve Nash bashing that’s sure to angry up the blood after the jump…

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296 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Feb. 25, 2008 at 11:06pm in NBA, NBA Fantasy News

NBA Front-Row Seat: Houston Rockets, Tyrus Thomas, Antonio McDyess, and More

February 25, 2008

Jose Reyes

Yao Ming Photo Credit: Icon SMI

- Tracy McGrady’s postseason resume aside — he’s yet to win a series over the first 10 years of his NBA career — I’m not sure any Western team relishes the idea of facing the Houston Rockets come playoff time. After sputtering out of the gate and resembling a team destined to take a step back, they’ve suddenly gone from pretender to contender in winning 12 games straight, the league’s longest current winning streak. This run includes a 100-80 thumping on the New Orleans Hornets’ home court last Friday, as well as two convincing wins over LeBron’s Cavaliers.

At 36-20, they’re still only seeded 7th in the No-Mercy Western Conference, but of course are only three games back of the top seed. Looking ahead, they could very well extend their impressive run to at least 16, with home contests against the Wizards, Grizzlies, Nuggets, and Pacers before heading to Dallas to face the Mavs on the second of a back-to-back set next Thursday.

Coach Rick Adelman is getting contributions from just about everyone in the rotation, and GM Daryl Morey was wise not to worry about making a major splash or completely retooling his roster at last week’s trade deadline, and instead to simply supplant what he already had. The acquisition of backup PG Bobby Jackson was a great one (he scored 14 in his debut last night), and though he won’t get much playing time this season, Gerald Green was had for next to nothing from the T’Wolves (Kirk Synder and a second-round pick). Houston will now get an extended workout with the free-agent-to-be, and if they like what they see, perhaps they’ll have a leg up on signing him this summer. Shedding the contract of Mike “Malcontent” James was key as well, and time had clearly expired on the Bonzi Wells Experiment.

Houston’s stars have been playing like stars: Yao is averaging 10.2 rebounds/per thus far, the second time in his career he’s hit double-digits in that category, but you assume that Yao will dominate on the blocks and that McGrady will score 20 – 40 points. You don’t necessarily expect two rookie power forwards, however, to consistently play and contribute at a high level, but that’s just what Luis Scola and Carl Landry are doing. In February, the 6-9 Scola is averaging 11.2 points, 6.4 boards, and 59% FG/per in about 25 minutes a night. And after racking up 33 “DNPs” to kick off his NBA career, Landry — the first pick of the second round in the 2007 draft — has played in every game since January 11. He went nuts against the Pacers on February 1, going for 22 points and 7 boards in just 20 minutes. Both are heady players that know they’re out there to rebound, defend, and shoot a high percentage, and both are coming through on all counts.

**UPDATE** I didn’t jinx them. I swear.

News and views of the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, Antonio McDyess, and more after the break…

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3 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Feb. 25, 2008 at 3:30pm in NBA, NBA Fantasy News

“To Be in Love,” By Isiah Thomas

February 24, 2008

Long before the free verse poetry of Flea, there was the tender eloquence of Isiah Thomas…

Tags: Isiah Thomas, NBA Poetry

1 CommentPosted by Andrew Thell on Feb. 24, 2008 at 10:25pm in NBA

Houdini Had Nothing on Magic Johnson; Magic Had Nothing on Ann Meyers

February 22, 2008

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Feb. 22, 2008 at 1:56pm in NBA

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