Skeptical Optimism

Though there were a lot of positives to take from last night’s blowout win over the Warriors, Spurs fans are well advised to temper their expectations and curb their enthusiasm. Before the season began, I predicted the Spurs would win around 53 games, and despite last night’s performance, I am sticking to that prediction.

Don’t get me wrong, San Antonio looked fantastic (at times) last night in Oakland, but there were a few concerns raised throughout the game. For half the game they looked sloppy on offense giving up 13 turnovers (luckily the Warriors didn’t capitalize on them). The Spurs were in the minus column anytime Pau Gasol (-13) or Tony Parker (-12) were on the court. Gasol looked lost defensively, and I’ve written Ad Nauseam about Parker’s decreased mobility, as he approaches his mid-thirties.

San Antonio’s lack of rim protection may not hurt them against most of the league, but against strong physical teams like Cleveland and Oklahoma City, they may encounter some challenges (one could argue that a team like the Clippers could provide some headaches with their frontcourt as well).

There was plenty to be happy about, but to paraphrase what Reggie Miller said during last night’s telecast, “It is just one game.” The score is not indicative of how good either team is.

Though Warriors fans should be concerned, there is no reason for them to panic. Other than Durant’s offensive performance, people should consider this game an aberration. If Golden State gets outrebounded by 20 boards on a consistent basis, it will be a long season, but I don’t realistically see that happening. As a team they shot 46 percent, but only fared 21 % from the 3 pt. line (You won’t see them shoot that poorly from 3 too often), while the Spurs shot 50 % from the arc and 48 % from the field

Other notes:

  • Kawhi Leonard has shown himself to be worthy of being in this year’s  MVP discussion with 35 pts (a career high) on 10-21 shooting, and 5 steals–including one cookie theft from Steph Curry that ended spectacularly.
  • I’m still not sure how the Spurs are going to keep David Lee on the court, but he played decently last night. In 11 minutes of play, he managed to get a +13 rating with 6 points and 6 rebounds.
  • Although they will miss Danny Green’s defense, these next two weeks present an opportunity for wing players like Kyle Anderson and Jonathan Simmons to get more minutes. Anderson was one of the few players to nab a minus rating with a -3, but Simmons played brilliant minutes (+33), with 20 pts on 8-14 shooting, one filthy block on Steph Curry, 3 steals, and 4 rebounds.

Once again, Spurs fans have a lot to look forward to this season. They look younger, faster, and more athletic than last year’s team, but younger teams see both bigger spikes and dips in play. No rational basketball fan really thinks this is how San Antonio plays for the rest of the season, and Golden State has no choice but to get better. With 7 new players on the Warriors roster, moments of confusion and miscommunication are expected as players work on their chemistry.

The Warriors looked like they were still in preseason mode. I would be very surprised if they don’t pick up some players off later in the season (either through waivers, or trade) to supplement their Big 4. Their lack of depth showed, as their bench got outscored 56-16. That doesn’t happen to championship teams.

No matter if you are a Spurs or a Warriors fan, the thing to keep in mind is that it is one game–the first game, and that it is a long season. Making a prediction either way for either team would be akin to marrying someone immediately after your first date. It’s the NBA, and a lot of things will change between now and April.

 

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 FullsassStudios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

A Week of Good Ass Games

The more hoop I watch, the clearer it becomes to me how wack the other major sports are. This week really drove that point home. The National Football League’s on the field product is too goddamned boring to justify all the off-the-field bullshit that is going on. It’s like W-W-fucking E with all the drama outside of the white lines. It has gotten so bad that corny ass sports columnists have become major football stories.

Now with the new rules, they may as well put skirts on the quarterbacks and call it powder puff football. Look at this. This is now an illegal hit. I have no interest at all in watching flag football when I could be playing it. No thank you. “You can keep that. Don’t holla at me no more I’ll holla at you.” I liked it better when the NFL didn’t pretend it wasn’t a gladiator sport.

I love playing and coaching baseball, but let’s face it, that shit can be so boring to watch. Baseball is wack for the fact that in the American League a dude can rake in millions of dollars just to bat four times, not play the field, and sit in the dugout and spit sunflower seeds on the ground.

I know that in the NBA the Eastern Conference is the JV to the Western Conference varsity games, but that just means I can direct my focus on only 8 or 9 or 10 teams (and sometimes Chicago). This has been a week of good ass games, starting with
the Milwaukee-Phoenix nail biter, and ending with the Spurs-Mavs.
Tonight’s San Antonio-Dallas game was worth watching even without the Spurs’ top four players playing. I got to finally get a good look at Kyle Anderson, the Spurs first round draft pick (he looked good at times, made some rookie mistakes but I like that he is getting some minutes this early into the season). I also got to watch the Mavericks usher in the Rajon Rondo earlier.

I’m happy for Rondo for a couple of reasons: #1. He is out of the dreaded Eastern Conference. #2. He is finally free of the negativity that is associated with Boston sports. it is no picnic for anyone who plays there, but black athletes dating back to Bill Russell can attest to the difficulties of playing in the city of Boston. Texas is a warmer state (socially and climatically) with lower taxes and he’ll be appreciated in Dallas–playing for one of the best owners in sports.

Rondo is like one of your friends who has been seeing someone that everyone knew was getting a little “strange” on the side. The Celtics have been sneaking around behind Rondo’s back, calling other folks on the phone, sending secret texts and denying that they were looking around for something better.

How is a dude suppose to relax with all that going on? People have been saying for years that Rondo is an island, but maybe he was put on an island by the Celtics a long time ago. Ever since they traded Perkins to the Celtics, there has been an obvious disconnect between the words of Celtics’ front office and their action.

I’m happy for Rondo. He has a talented core of guys to run with, and a genius head coach to put him in a position to succeed. Fuck Boston.

Rondo looked a little in shock but still played well enough to help the Mavs win. He had a couple of nice dimes and a decent game overall with 6 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds (6 of them in the first half). Monta Ellis went full throttle during the end game of the 4th quarter and got 38 points. Even without Duncan, Ginoboli, Parker, and Kawhi Leonard, it managed still a “Good Ass Game.”

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Bobby Mickey, does this mean you’re a Mavericks fan now?” Hell no. But it doesn’t mean I can’t dig watching them. Rondo has always been in my opinion underrated, and I think he will finally be in an environment where he can thrive. Anywhere there is a pass first point guard who can rebound and play defense like Rondo, you best believe I’ll be tuning in.

For the rest of their season they have become the “Must Watch Mavs.” If they can fortify their subs on the front line, they will be as good as any of the other top flight teams in that conference (you could talk me into Memphis, San Antonio, Golden State, Clippers, or OKC depending on what day it is).

Good Ass Games of the Week

Sunday

Somehow I missed that the Grizzlies were playing in Cleveland tomorrow. Well if you are reading this right now while your date is passed out, or in the bathroom taking off their makeup, then don’t let brunch last TOO long. Drop them off in time to at least watch the second half of the game.I’m sure it’ll be worth it. The GrizzleBees should mangle them.

Monday

Portland-Houston In all the Rondo to Dallas excitement, people have slept on Houston’s trade for Corey Brewer. Brewer can defend the perimeter, and is a very good role player who has 3 NCAA rings and an NBA title. Say what you will about Houston, but you can’t call them busters this year. Portland is rolling right now, with everyone playing really well together. “Dark Nowitzki” (big ups Sam) and “Late Game Dame” willed the Blazers to a big win Friday night against the undermanned Spurs (a combined 75 points out of the 129 they scored that night). They are ready to go deep in the playoffs. They remind me of the 2011 OKC squad that made it to the Western Conference for their first time as a franchise. They have that look about them.

Speaking of the undermanned Spurs, they are pretty banged up right now. This could be a very short playoff run for them without Kawhi Leonard. He is the difference between getting to the Finals and getting knocked out in a fiercely contested first round. They have played and lost 3 “Good Ass Games” (2 of them unbelievably good triple overtime affairs) this week.

It doesn’t get any easier for them against the Clippers on Monday, who are looking scary good. J.J. Redick has finally figured out what will keep him in the league and he is doing that well. I knew that he wouldn’t be able to tear up the NBA like he did the ACC, but its good to see he has found himself a good situation. That pick n roll with Chris Paul is so much nastier with guys who can spot up, and they make defenses pay for over committing to the rolling big men.

“Tap the vein” Monday continues with Golden State-Sacramento. The first half of the Golden State-OKC game was the best half of basketball I’d seen all season–up until KD hurt his ankle (Durant had scored 30 points in 18 minutes, missing only 2 shots). The second half atmosphere was deflated a little when it became clear that Durant wouldn’t be back out, but by the fourth quarter it had already wrapped up “Good Ass Game of the Week.” Danny Green hit some big shots this week to make it a little closer than it should have been. I could watch and re-watch the first half of that game over and over again. MMMPPPHH!

Tuesday

Portland vs. OKC
Dallas vs. Phoenix
Golden State vs. Los Angeles Lakers

And they do run run run, they do run run. Look out! The Thunder have played themselves back int the playoff hunt and its no longer a matter if, but of where they will be seeded. Sacramento’s season is over. Unless Phoenix (who have been losing too many close games–you gotta beat those Eastern Conference teams–those are gimmes) and New Orleans make trades, they can call it a wrap. It will probably be the same playoff teams as last year as one super famous former Michigan alum correctly predicted.

Wednesday
Christmas Eve. Get ya money!

Thursday

Spurs-Thunder
Clippers-Warriors

This two games are the only Christmas presents I need. The only thing that would make these match ups better would a healthy Andrew Bogut for the evening showcase–my pick to click for “Good ass Game of the Week”

Friday

Houston-Memphis
There may be some pushing and shoving in what will no doubt be a physical game. Besides that, Friday may be a good time to capitalize on that holiday cheer and see who came into town for the holidays. Regardless whether you are giving, or receiving, make sure you wrap up any gifts that may come down the pipeline that weekend.

Saturday
Trust me. Tonight is the night to get out and do something. You don’t want to be home watching the Pelicans-Bulls on a Saturday night do you? If you must watch it, at least go out to a bar, have a few drinks and talk to to people.

Sunday
Houston-San Antonio
Oklahoma City-Dallas
Phoenix vs. the LOL Lakers

I can’t think of a better way to begin the week can you? Happy holidays and winter solstice. We are only a couple of weeks away from 2015. It’s time to chill, reflect, and project for the next year. As crazy as the world is, there is a lot to look forward to. If we have our health and our family,our hoops and our friends, then we have a lot. Everything else is gravy.

Peace,

BM
#Thisagoodassgame
@Clickpicka79

If You Can’t Take The Heat…….

It’s 3:30 AM and I can’t sleep. I’m still buzzing from that game tonight. I hadn’t seen a game like that since watching those old Celtics-Lakers videos from the 80’s. There were 7 Hall of Famers playing in tonight’s game, and one future Hall of Fame coach. The stakes are high, and the level of play in that first half was unreal.

I watched the first half at this bar down the street from my buddy’s house and they showed it with the sound off. I didn’t realize the arena was a sauna until late in the third half, after I went to a bar that actually let us listen to it (which almost explains why the 3rd quarter was so sloppy–23 turnovers for the Spurs–wtf?).

The superstars produced. Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili played huge, scoring 56 points between them (Ginoboli at one point was outscoring the entire Heat bench by himself). Tiago Splitter had a great game on the glass and finishing at the rim when he had good looks.

Jesus Shuttlesworth killed it–especially with that dunk on Danny Green (did anyone else see that elbow Allen threw at Marco Belinelli?). Lebron played very efficiently until his menstrual leg cramps put him out of commission during clutch time. Dwayne Wade looked damn good out there, doing some ballet type shit out there on the court.

Some people will blame the cramps on the Heat losing game 1 (the same people who forget that Tony Parker played the whole Finals last year injured with a hamstring injury that kept him from being at his best), but this will come down to role players.

Boris Diaw had 10 rebounds and 6 assists, Manu Ginobili had 16 points and 11 assists, and Danny Green went ham for a crucial stretch (two 3 pointers and a breakaway dunk for the lead) after missing his first five shots.

Mario Chalmers sat on the bench most of the game because he couldn’t stay out of foul trouble, and besides Ray Allen, no one on the Heat bench scored more than 2 points. The Spurs finished the game with a 31-9 run.

Now its only game 1, and there is no reason to get TOO excited. Chalmers will play better sometime during this series when the Heat need him the most, and the Spurs can’t count on Lebron’s “moon cycle” to continue through Sunday and beyond. There are a lot of encouraging things for Spurs fans to take from this.

Kawhi Leonard had a mostly quiet night and will certainly play better by the next game. I’m sure that the Spurs will cut down their number of (unforced) turnovers as well. D-Wade isn’t going to consistently shoot as well from the outside as he did tonight either. Many of the shots he took outside of the paint were shots you can live with if you are the Spurs.

There were parts of Game 1 that were scintillating and there were parts that were head scratching, but overall that was a good ass game. I expect an even better, less sloppy game come Sunday. There was a lot of good ball movement and great passes. That a sect is just going to get better. I know it is only game 1, but had the Heat stolen tonight’s game, the series would have taken on a completely different tone. Dust out the old VCR, and hit record button. This series is going to be one people will talk about for decades.