Feels like Forever Ago

House Money (Tried to Told Ya’ll)

Didn’t I tell you the Rockets were busters? Didn’t I tell you that James Harden’s game is all smoke and mirrors? Didn’t I tell you that Tony Parker’s injury would be a blessing in disguise? I love to troll as much as the next man, but I don’t just be saying shit to hear myself talk. Ya’ll gon learn to start listening to me. As my dude Bomani Jones is fond of saying, “Listen to me now. Believe me later on.”

We got a game 7 in Boston on Monday between the Wizards and the Celtics. I would be shocked if the Celtics lose this game at home. Role players tend to not show up in elimination games on the road. John Wall and Bradley Beal are going to need help if they are going to advance to the next round. I’ll definitely be tuning in because a) its Monday and I don’t have anything better to do, and b) its game 7.  You really find out what these players are made of during the pressure packed situations. I love elimination games. Whoever wins this series will be lucky to get two wins against the Cavaliers.

 

The Warriors vs. Spurs Western Conference Finals may as well be the NBA Finals. Barring major injury to key contributors, whoever comes out of this round should be the clear-cut favorites against the Lebrons. People think this is dissing Lebron, but the beauty of basketball is that your weaknesses will get exposed. Everything comes out in the wash when you cut corners in hoop.

Cleveland has yet to play an offensively competent team in the playoffs and that trend will continue until they face the Warriors or Spurs. Cleveland statistically had one of the worst regular season defensive statistics of all the playoff teams. Luckily for the Cavs, playing in the east and having Lebron can cover up a lot of ugly blemishes. Lebron is like the most effective IG filter for any NBA team.

He has proved from time to time that he can drag the worst four scrubs ever assembled and still take them to the NBA Finals. Mad respect given, but to win in pro basketball the other players–four to nine–have to play well. You can’t convince me that the Warriors and Spurs aren’t stocked with superior role players in comparison to the Cavaliers. Go look it up if you don’t believe me, and after you do, I want you to make a list of all the players on Cleveland’s roster not named Lebron or Tristan who can defend their position well.

Bringing it back to this series for a second, the only chance that the Spurs has is through in-game adjustments and timely substitutions. Jonathan Simmons has proven he belongs on the court, and Gregg Popovich will have no choice but to give Dejounte Murray some run against the tall guards of Golden State.

Throw out what happened in the regular season, as these are two different teams from what you saw before April began. The biggest problem the Spurs face is the incredible amount of length and quickness they have to throw at San Antonio. Matt Barnes, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston all can come off the bench and disrupt an offense with their defensive versatility.

Spurs can take advantage of their mismatch in the paint with Pau Gasol and Lamarcus Aldridge if they can somehow get the ball across the court, and keep their entry passes from getting intercepted or tipped away (thus creating transition opportunities for the Warriors and igniting their offense). Spurs fans know that David West isn’t the defender he once was, but look for Javale McGee to continue to impact the game with his presence in the paint, rebounding, and athleticism.

The play of Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Kyle Anderson, Jonathan Simmons and Dejounte Murray–San Antonio’s ballhandlers not named Kawhi– will determine if these games are close nail biter endings or blowout losses. If the Spurs can slow the tempo down, attack the paint, and get Kevin Durant and Draymond Green in foul trouble, this could be a troublesome affair for the Warriors.

On defense, the Spurs will have to run the Warriors off the three-point line and control the boards. The Warriors feast off of open threes and transition points, so it will be important for San Antonio to not hoist jump shots early in the shot clock, and not turn the ball over.

Lebron couldn’t beat the Warriors by himself in 2015, so don’t expect a hobbled Kawhi Leonard to carry the San Antonio to finals alone. Aldridge and Gasol are going to have to chip in on the boards and points in the paint . I’m not sure what we can realistically expect David Lee and Dewayne Dedmon to contribute. Dedmon (with his stone hands) has played himself into Pop’s doghouse and Lee had serious issues on defense last round. If Dedmon can’t catch passes, then he will need to play smart defense and rebound to stay on the court. Lee could be a good piece on the offensive end, but better believe that the Warriors will go at him when he gets back on D. Golden State loves finding the mismatches and attacking it. #mouseinthehouse

This may sound obvious, but the Spurs will have to play their best team ball of the season to even have a chance at winning this series. By Game 4, both coaching staffs will have a clear idea on which lineups and matchups work most effectively, and the real chess game will begin. Popovich has to use all his chess pieces effectively in order to advance to the NBA Finals, so keep an eye on the role players in this series.

The margin of error is very small, and though San Antonio has proven they are talented and fearless, the biggest hurdle they will face is a mental one.The discipline and focus that it takes to beat these Warriors four times in seven games is what will determine who wins. The Spurs must stick to their game plan, value every possession, and take smart shots. The Warriors will penalize them on the other end every time they turn the ball over, take a bad shot, or forget how to set screens and make the extra pass.

At this point, San Antonio is playing with house money. Having won 60 plus wins and advanced to the Western Conference Finals only a year removed from Tim Duncan’s retirement, this season is already a success for them. They are also huge underdogs. They will be facing tremendously less pressure than veteran players like Zaza Pachulia, Matt Barnes, Javale McGee, Kevin Durant, and David West (who knows how many seasons he has left in him). Pressure does funny things to people, don’t discount that element this round.

As much as I want to say Spurs in six games, there are just too many unknowns. I still can’t pick them to——— nah you know what? Fuck it. Spurs in six. I’m putting 100 dollars on San Antonio and in a week and a half, I’m collecting 900 dollars. If you like watching exceptional basketball execution, then I suggest that you watch every minute of this series. Get your bets in before 2:00 pm today because Los Spurs are going to shock the world!

Buen Provecho

 

BM

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

ROUND 2: FIGHT!

Some thoughts on the first round before we advance to the conference semi-finals:

  1. Even though the Jazz have a game 7 in L.A. this afternoon, I think this series ended Friday night when Utah couldn’t take game 6 at home. I partly blame Quinn Snyder for that loss. I don’t know what the man has against Boris Diaw, but he has not played him very much this round. Diaw has performed fairly well despite his diminished role. Friday night he logged 14 minutes scoring 5 points, grabbing 2 boards, 1 assist, and plus 13 +/- ratio. His passes were crisp, his screens were solid, and he was constantly moving without the ball–always in the right place at the right time. Quinn Snyder insisted on playing the inexperienced Brazilian guard Roger Neto, who took a series of bad shots during crunch time that contributed to the 11 point deficit that the Jazz faced down the stretch (his +/- ratio was a negative 10). Shelvin Mack never saw the court, and neither did Dante Exum. The Jazz lost by 5 last night. I’m putting it on wax now: when they look back to see why they lost the series, you can point to Quinn Snyder’s weird substitute patterns. Oh well, I’m looking forward to a Clippers-Warriors 2nd round because there will be a lot of shit talking as the Clippers get beat in five. It could been you Utah fans, losing in maybe six.
  2. There is still a little room to jump on the Mike Conley bandwagon, but we don’t know how long there will be seats available. He had a hell of a series, and after all the think pieces that have been and will be written, we can finally say that Mike Conley is no longer underrated.
  3. Tony Parker is still washed, but he may have enough juice to get the Spurs to the Western Conference Finals. That game 6 performance in Memphis was vintage Tony. Much respect to the OG Frenchman.

 

Thoughts on the Second Round

  • Don’t get caught up in the hype of the Lebron vs. Drake subplot in the Cavaliers-Raptors series. That one is going to be a snoozer. Toronto will be lucky to win one game next round. I am actually rooting for a Cleveland sweep simply because it means less screen time for Wheelchair Jimmy— at least until the Warriors make the Finals, and of course he’ll be all up in the mix like he was there from day one. #nonewfriends
  • We might actually see some fisticuffs with the Celtics-Wizards series. John Wall has already shown the world what he is capable of this playoffs. The problem is that no one could sit through and entire game of an Atlanta Hawks game without thinking “people still play basketball this way?” This series will be much better for basketball purists as the highlight matchup of John Wall/Bradley Beal vs Isaiah Thomas/Avery Bradley will be scintillating at times. The biggest question for the clash of backcourts is “who is Isaiah Thomas going to guard?” #mouseinthehouse Thomas may get 20-30 points, but he may also give up 50 too. Celtics have a slight advantage with their overall depth, and I think this will make the difference as they beat the Wiz in 6 games, although I’d almost talked myself into Wizards in 7.
  • There is a hint of 1995 in the air with this Rockets-Spurs series. Just like in ’95, both teams have legitimate MVP candidates, but unfortunately, no one will know who won the award until late June. Spurs can breath of sigh of relief after surviving the Grizzlebies, but the Rockets provide a different kind of challenge. The Rockets’ style of play creates a ton of possessions, so expect a lot of substitutions and a lot of fouls. The Rockets aren’t known for their defensive prowess, but they do have a couple of good defenders on the team (Trevor Ariza and Pat Beverley), and they have some good rebounding forwards in Nene and Clint Capela. I think this is the perfect kind of series for Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, and David Lee to shine. You know Kawhi is going to get his, but the role players on the Spurs will have an easier time scoring on this Rockets unit than last series. Also, I’m not sure James Harden’s ankle is completely healthy. I’m taking San Antonio in six out of respect, although my gut says it will only take five games.

Enjoy the semi-finals.

 

BM

 profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

Moving The Needle

Essentially nothing has changed though, it is still going to be a Cavaliers-Golden State Finals (barring major injuries of course). I would have liked to have seen more player movement among the bottom teams to set up future moves during the draft, but whatever. We may look back on this trading deadline as the day that some GM’s cost themselves jobs. {Yawn} Wake me up when the playoffs start. Continue reading

Knapp Time: Alex’s Picks To Click For the Week of Nov.14th-20th

This A Good Ass Game will be run by carefully chosen special guests while Bobby Mickey is on vacation in Bermuda. This Week’s Clicks to Pick are brought to you by Alex Knapp. You can also check out Alex Knapp’s Weekly Hot Take Roundup here. #fullsasstakeover

 

 

MONDAY

Thunder @ Pistons 7:30pm EST

Record wise this is the best game of the night, and somehow the Pistons got off to a decent start despite missing their all-star PG, Reggie Jackson. I could see Westbrook going for 45 but the Pistons still wining this game. Should be fun to watch.
Mavs @ Knicks 7:30pm EST
Old man Dirk vs Young man Zinger. Worth a click.
Magic @ Pacers 7:00pm EST
Here are two young and fun east coast teams battling for a playoff spot. Each team needs to win this to prove to they belong in the playoffs.
Indiana is better but I think Orlando gets the win.

TUESDAY

Bulls @ Blazers 10:00 pm EST (NBA TV)
The jury is still out on the new-look Bulls. After a hot start they’ve stalled with 3 straight losses (can’t score sometimes).
When they shoot above 40% from 3pt land they win. When they shoot below 36% from 3pt land they lose. There is very little in-between.
Dame vs Rondo, C.J. vs Wade/Butler, Myers Leonard vs Doug McBuckets?!?!?!
Toronto @ Cleveland 7:30pm EST (NBA TV)
Oh you that lame kind of NBA fan who only watches “the best” teams play? That is sooooooo cool LAME.

WEDNESDAY

Golden State vs Toronto 7:00 pm & Memphis vs Los Angeles Clippers 9:30 pm
Both the ESPN matchups will likely be more blah then exciting. I can’t stand watching Toronto or Memphis. I hope KD and Curry go for 80 combined and Blake Griffin ends somebody career with an earth shattering dunk.
Rockets @ Thunder 8:00 pm EST
Harden vs Russ. Gonna be high scoring!!!
Bucks @ Hawks 7:30pm EST
If the ESPN games don’t hold your attention, then watch the Greek Freak play a squad with an actual good team defense. They will be a good test of his skill level. NBA nerds will get off watching how many different defensive looks coach Bud throws at him.

 THURSDAY 

Blazers @ Rockets 8:00pm EST
Both the TNT games kind of suck here too (Philadelphia vs. Minnesota; Los Angeles Clippers vs. Sacramento). You can call me a homer but I’d rather  watch Dame and Harden go buck wild on each other (neither of them can play a lick of defense).

FRIDAY (GOOD ASS GAME OF THE WEEK)

Warriors @ Celtics 8:00 pm EST (ESPN)
Celtics always want to beat this team, and coach Brad Stevens usually has a good enough–
creative game plan to make it fun and exciting. My money is on an overtime win by the Celtics.

SATURDAY (Go Do Something Fun)

Warriors @ Bucks 8:30pm EST
Maybe…
Hornets @ Pelicans 7:00pm EST
Watch “The Brow” drop 50 on Kemba and company.
They have no big man to guard him. Cody Zeller, Roy Hibbert, Marvin Williams? Get the fuck outta here with that weak shit.

SUNDAY 

I will be at the Blazers @ Nets game, so I hope it’s a blowout.
Other than that, this looks like a football day (Cowboys-Steelers; Patriots-Seahawks).
f16fe4_33a1706de82a46a9b053723415da08dc      Alex Knapp is a Portlander who has lived in Brooklyn, New York for the past 7 years. He is a filmmaker and actor currently working in HR to pay the bills. Alex is an avid NBA basketball fan who likely has an opinion on every team and every player, seriously – try him. You can check out his podcast with Anthony Levy, PDXPATS on iTunes.