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. 

Observations From a Dimly Lit Living Room

Are you entertained? Well neither am I honestly. The Eastern Conference playoff has been as trash as I thought it would be. The Cavs look like they are going to sweep their way to the Finals and everyone is going fight to suck the media teat of Lebron James when they haven’t even had to break a sweat yet. I can’t wait til they get exposed in the NBA Finals. For all the Lebron dominance talk, he’d be lucky to get a top four seed if they had to go through the teams out west. #fraudulent

Let us pour one out for veteran Tony Parker as his career might have come to an end this week on a not so freak accident. You know it’s a bad injury if someone gets hurt on a non-contact injury. It happened to Kobe. I remember when Vinny Testaverde ruptured his Achilles back in ’99 for the Jets, and you knew from the look on Parker’s face that his season was over.

Salutes to Tony though for showing that just because you are washed, doesn’t mean you can’t still be effective when your team really needs it. Seeing him rupture his quad though put a scare in me, because I definitely don’t want to go out like that. I’d rather walk away knowing I had a little left in the tank than to be carried off the pickup courts. Besides, I don’t have insurance. I can’t afford to miss work because I got hurt playing a basketball game. Tony Parker’s injury only further reinforces the fact that I need to retire from full court ball soon because I’m almost 40, and there is no doubt in my mind that I’m washed.

But before we write off the Spurs, the Tony Parker injury may actually be a blessing in disguise. Tony was on the verge of getting his fruit cocktail taken from him the deeper the Spurs went into the playoffs. It was no secret that he was becoming a defensive liability, and his presence on the court was creating some mismatches in the Rockets favor (so what do you think was going to happen if/when they faced the Warriors?).

Although I wouldn’t wish injury to anyone (outside of Lebron, Grayson Allen, Gerald Henderson or Dahntay Jones), this is good for the Spurs because Gregg Popovich can’t lean on Parker for heavy minutes down the stretch. Pops has to go to the more inexperienced, but more athletic guards on the bench. Jonathan Simmons, Dejounte Murray, Kyle Anderson, and Manu Ginobili match up way better with the long Warriors guards than Patty Mills or Parker. They may actually have a chance now to win a couple of games in the Western Conference Finals.

As for the Rockets, just when I was ready to think better of James Harden, he goes and does James Harden things. He just can’t help himself. He is unequivocally a crybaby ass #Buster who would rather play to the refs than play legit basketball. He’s like the guy you play in pickup ball who calls fouls about a half second after they realize they are going to miss a layup. Dude is all smoke and mirrors. I respect nothing about his basketball game. And to all you trolls and haters who flooded my phone with text messages because you’d written the Spurs off after that abysmal game one, go eat a d**k in the design in the Rockets logo.

Rockets are still garbage, and watching this series only reminded me of why I stopped watching Rockets games in the first place. They are fucking annoying! I don’t know how Patrick Beverley made it this far in life being the asshole he is. I bet his parents wanted to choke him as a teenager. Look at this childhood picture.pb_2

That is the face of a sneaky-as-fuck kid. I bet his parents had at least three conversations with him about how stealing from your family is wrong. Beverley and Harden alone are enough to want to throw a shoe at the television, but then Sam Dekker’s image comes onto the screen and I immediately want to mush his entitled face into a brick wall. I’m going to enjoy watching them get sent fishing.

Congratulations to the Toronto Rappers Raptors for having another wonderfully mediocre season. By 5:00 pm eastern time they will be swept and planning their summer vacations to Greece, Libya, and Croatia. Their “superstars” Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry are actually just really good players who need a real superstar to lead their team to a Finals appearance. I still think Demar is the second best shooting guard in the league, but remember when people were trying to say Kyle Lowry was a top 3 point guard in the east? NOT  SO FAST MY FRIEND!!!

Utah-Golden State has shaken out exactly as I expected. Utah has competed, but there is only so much you can do against the Warriors. They are stacked. You’d have to go all the way back to the 80’s Lakers and Celtics teams to see a time when four superstars played on the same team. This Warriors team isn’t even humming yet and teams can’t keep up with them. Just you wait. That first quarter in the final game of the Blazers series was just a little taste of what they are capable of doing. In the meantime, its been fun making “Quin Snyder looks like someone who jerks off with Icy Hot” jokes (shout out to Aaron McGruder). Their off-season will be starting around Tuesday morning at 12:01 CST. daria-screen-1-499x380

As for the Boston-Washington series, its been ugly, but it’s also been heated. Some writers have even gone as far to say that this series has a 90’s feel to it. When two sneaky dirty teams face off in the playoffs, some fuck shit is bound to pop off. And wherever there is fuckshit happening, you best believe the fuck boys are in the vicinity. I actually gained a little respect for Kelly Oubre, even though his reaction was a typical emo light-skinned guy reaction. Had he been smarter about it, he would just given Kelly Olynyck a nice elbow to the grill gut when no one was looking (if you’re gonna get suspended you may as well get your money’s worth).

Olynck has become Frank Brickowski 2.0, hiding behind his Opie Cunningham. friendly Canadian neighbor facade, but is one of the dirtiest players in the NBA. Its hard rooting FOR the Cleveland Cavaliers, but there is a small part of me that will enjoy them exposing the Boston Celtics’ flaws next round (sorry Mikey)–mostly because I’m mad that Danny Ainge didn’t try to make a run at the Eastern Conference title this year (Jimmy Butler or Paul George would have been the needle mover they needed to knock off Lebron). You can talk all you want about not mortgaging the future by trying to win a title this year, but the truth is you never know what is going to happen down the road. Who would have thought we’d see Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka playing in the playoffs but on four different teams?

Celtics-Cavs and Spurs-Warriors is probably the best scenario we could have imagined for the Conference Finals. Enjoy this week of hoop!

BM

 

[Update at 1:17 pm] Whoops! Almost forgot to shout out the dudes over at TRUEHOOP who’ve undergone some massive changes over at the four lettered network. I’m very happy that Big Wos and Amin are still on the air keeping it street. #Respect

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. 

Don Carter’s Search for the Great White Stiff: Why Growing up in Dallas Forced Me to Become a Spurs Fan.

I’m not your typical sports fan. My fandom runs pretty counter-intuitive to someone who was raised in Dallas. People are usually surprised that I grew up rooting for the Miami Hurricanes in football (so much in fact that I wanted to attend the school and be the football mascot). My love for the New York Mets can be traced back to childhood legends, Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry (and later in life a deep love for the city of Queens), even though I openly root for my grandmother’s favorite team, the Texas Rangers.

Basketball didn’t officially become my favorite sport until about 2008. My dad took me to a playoff game in 1986 between the Lakers and the Mavericks. I enjoyed the game, but I was also 7 and didn’t really care who won. Every time the Mavs scored, I would do the Junkyard dog dance to catch the attention of the pretty white lady with big hair sitting next to us. That was the only Mavericks game that I remember from the 80’s.

By the 90’s I watched more baseball than anything and kept up with the other sports just enough to gamble on them. I remember one particular game that I bet on in high school involved the Rockets and Spurs. Otis Thorpe was out with an injury, and the Spurs had just gotten Dennis Rodman. I put twenty bucks on the Spurs and told the guy, Rodman is getting 20 boards tonight. Spurs of course won, and I was able to afford a pack of donuts and a pack of cinnamon rolls to go with every meal for lunch that week.

Many people have trouble comprehending how I became a Spurs fan. Of all the teams I root for, this one causes folks to scratch their heads. It is a question that I get all the time: How does someone who was born and raised in Dallas become a Spurs fan? Like most loves, this wasn’t something that happened overnight, it developed and blossomed over time. I came out of the closet with my fandom about ten years ago, and I’ve rarely looked back–except today. So how does someone born and raised in Dallas become a Spurs fan? Let’s explore this shall we?

1) I spent part of the 80’s living in Houston. 

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From 1988-1991 I lived in Houston, Texas on some Prince of Bel-Air shit. Let’s just say that my parents were really worried about my grades and overall behavior and sent me to live with my aunt and uncle in the suburbs of Spring, Texas (hometown of eventual World Series Champion Josh Beckett).

My three years living in a disciplined environment there straightened me out, but it was hell. I had to go to private school for a little bit, and I had zero privacy when I was used to having my space. My allergies were always bothering me and no matter the season, I was always sweating. But the worst part of this situation was that I had to endure the Houston Rockets fandom, and watch Rockets games on television almost every other night. Seeing Otis Thorpe’s ugly mug on the television almost gave me an aversion to pro basketball completely.

While the Rockets were quietly building a competitive team that was only six years and a Michael Jordan retirement away from being NBA champions, the Dallas Mavericks were setting themselves up for a decade long drought with bad trades, and questionable draft picks (If you ever want to get an old Mavs’ fan started just ask them what players they missed out on picking back in the 80’s drafts). When I returned to Dallas in 1991, the Mavericks were unwatchable and nationally televised games were only on once a week. Any around-the-league news I got was attributed to NBA Inside Stuff with Ahmad Rashad. Besides, basketball was barely on my radar at the time; I was way more interested in baseball then.

2) The 1990’s was a really bad decade for the Dallas Mavericks.

I can’t even exaggerate how poorly the Mavericks organization was run during the 1990’s. Being a Mavs fan was the basketball equivalent of rooting for the New Orleans Saints. Their ineptitude was so great that a running joke in the early 90’s was who would win more games, the Dallas Cowboys or the Dallas Mavericks (The Cowboys went 13-3 in 1992 and 12-4 the following season. The Mavericks were 11-71 in 1992, and 13-69 the next season. This should give you an idea of how ludicrously bad the Mavs were back then.

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Only twice did the 90’s mavericks win more than 30 games, the 1994 season (36-46) and the 1999 season (40-42). They won less than 20 games three seasons that decade, and only won 40 games or more once, and that was 1999; arguably the most entertaining team they had that decade.

Any momentum that was built during the 3 J’s era (Jimmy Jackson, Jason Kidd, and Jamal Mashburn) washed ruined by ill-advised attempts at implementing the triangle offense, bad coaches (Richia Adubato, Dick Motta, Quinn Buckner, and later Jim Cleamons), locker room egos, and possibly Toni Braxton.

3) Dallas front office chased white players like Captain Ahab chased Moby Dick.

Q:What do Raef LaFrentz, Shawn Bradley, Cherokee Parks, and Eric Montross have in common?

A: Millions$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

I can understand why people want to look onto the court and see a face that looks like theirs.It is for the same reasons that blacks cheer on Tiger Woods (who says he isn’t black) or why black people really want the show Atlanta to be good (even to the point of delusion). Everyone wants to feel represented, but at the same time you can’t force these things. Choosing Parks, LaFrentz, Bradley, or Montross as the next Great White Hope is as much of a reach as Donald Glover or Rembert Browne being the spokespersons for Black America. Sometimes you just gotta wait until the real deal comes along.

Once Larry Bird retired, NBA GM’s clamored among themselves to find the next LB, every white player got hyped incredibly only to get paid handsomely for meager to above average performances. Eric Montross and Cherokee Parks were out of the league before I’d even had a chance to blink. LaFrentz is still a subject of salary cap folkore, in much the same way people talk about Bobby Bonilla’s epic contract with the New York Mets (one that still continues to pay him to this day).

Shawn Bradley was dunked on so many times that it soon became a rite of passage for an NBA player to yam on him. “Bruh you aint’ dunked on Bradley yet? Whhhhhhhhaaaaa!!!! Bruh you gotta dunk on Bradley if you wanna be part of this team dawg. What? You don’t believe me? HEY! HEEEEEYYYYYYYY! Who all on this plane has dunked on Shawn Bradley?” The whole team raises their hands and even a couple of the coaches and trainers. “See I told you. Next week when we play the Mavericks you better go right at him or we gon’ tease you for the rest of the season rookie. Nah man. Don’t laugh. I’m not even joking.”

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4) Dallas couldn’t handle the truth.

College basketball phenom Paul Pierce left the University of Kansas early to enter the 1998 NBA draft. With the 6th pick in the draft the Dallas mavericks drafted Robert “Tractor” Traylor ahead of Paul Pierce, then traded that pick to Milwaukee Bucks for the rights to 7’1German 17 yr old named Dirk Nowitzki–another tall white player. I thought Paul Pierce was exactly the type of player they needed and was initially put off with this selection.

At the time it seemed like the same old Mavericks chasing that great white whale, but things turned out for the  best for everyone involved. Dirk was an immediate fan favorite and had an *ahem* interesting relationship with new owner Mark Cuban.Though he suffered some growing pains (I might have secretly derived some pleasure out of Stephen Jackson manhandling during that 2007 playoffs–his MVP year), his career was validated after finally getting his own title in 2011.

There is no telling if Paul Pierce would have gotten a ring out west like he eventually did in Boston. His career path might have taken a drastic turn had he started in Dallas (who is to say that instead of getting stabbed at the club he doesn’t get shot in Dallas?. It seems like a moot point now. Both players will be in the Hall of Fame, but I can honestly say, that this was a swing moment in my fandom, when my NBA loyalties were still in the balance.

5) Dallas fans are pretty insufferable

 

Except for a handful of people who I’m personally friends with, Mavs fans are pretty fucking annoying. When I went to college in Denton, I preferred to go to the bar and watch playoff games. At the time I was more into players than I was teams, and unless Kobe Bryant was involved, I didn’t give a shit who won NBA games. This started changing around the year 2004.

Although it was cool that Dallas fans finally had something to cheer about, they didn’t know how to handle their team’s success (or failures) with grace. If I even cheered a good play by the other team, I was met with looks of scorn and derision. The ’05 playoff series between Phoenix and Dallas made me hate Mavericks fans. Girls in Dallas Mavs t-shirts would yell at me stuff like “How the fuck can you root for them? Didn’t you grow up in Dallas?” because I screamed in joy at a Pick and Roll/ Nash to Stoudemire dunk. By the time Jason Terry punched Michael Finley in the junk, I was going to Mavericks watch parties and openly rooting against the home team.

By 2006 I was spending a lot of time in Austin with Spurs fans, and they struck me as a rare breed of fans. They of course expected to win, but the friends that I had who were Spurs fans, were super cool about it. They enjoyed the competition, and had no problem giving other teams props. I would secretly find myself rooting for the Spurs not necessarily because I liked the Spurs (even though Tim Duncan was one of my favorite college basketball players of all time.) I wanted to see my friends happy (especially my friend Louis who was the biggest Manu Ginobili I’d ever met).

The more I learned about hoops the more I enjoyed and appreciated the Spurs success and method of conduct. I would never feel right wearing a bunch of Spurs gear, and I’m still sheepish about calling myself a Spurs fan. I’m a fan in much the same way that someone converts to Judaism. My fandom can only be traced back to a certain point in time. I never saw George Gervin play, I initially didn’t like Gregg Popovich taking over the head coaching roles, and  I did not believe that the Spurs would ever win a title with Avery Johnson as the starting point guard.

Just as my love for basketball has grown to religious proportions, so has my love for the San Antonio Spurs has grown. To this day I’ve never seen a more beautiful, egalitarian way of playing basketball than I did during the 2014 playoff run; which is something  that even a non-Spurs fan could appreciate.

As for the Dallas Mavericks, well I appreciate them too (I guess). Mark Cuban isn’t as annoying as I once thought he was, and I’ve even grown fond of old man Nowitzki at this point in his career. So to show there is no hard feelings Mavericks fans, I’m going to list my top five favorite Dallas players of all time.

5) Sam Perkins: the last holdover from when the 80’s teams that were good. Big Smooth still gets a lot of love in the Big D.

4) Jason Terry: despite dickpunching Mike Finley, I fucks with Jason Terry. His confidence and big shot making, was a big factor in the 2011 team toppling the Lebron led Miami team in the NBA Finals that year. Fun Fact: Jason Terry won a championship in high school, college and in the NBA. That is pretty rare company.

3) Jason Kidd: had two stints with the Mavs, and his second one ended in a more idyllic fashion. One of the best point guards to ever play the game.

2) Antawn Jamison: I really enjoyed watching him play for Dallas. He put up points and he was a great locker room guy. I was actually surprised he didn’t finish his career in Dallas.

1)Jerry Stackhouse: dude was something fierce coming out of college. He was athletic and a volume scorer when he first got to the league. By the time he got to Dallas he hung his hat on his toughness and defense, but could still get baskets when needed. I thought Stackhouse alone was enough to predict a Dallas victory over Miami in the 2006 NBA Finals. David Stern and Tim Donaghey didn’t agree with me though. Stack is one of my favorite players to ever lace them up.

 

 

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

Loosely Connected Observations From The First Week of the Season

A few thoughts from the first week of NBA ball:

  • Looks like palming and traveling has gone the way of defensive 3 seconds.Maybe this is a way to amp up scoring–kind of like how NFL started making rules that only benefit offensive players.
  • Lakers-Rockets on opening night was fun. It reminded me of watching a Drew league game, or an All Star Game where everyone but James Harden had missed the bus, and they had  to suit up all the players who were in town just for the weekend festivities. I actually like this post Kobe era for the Lakers. Its pretty refreshing to see watch a Lakers game and not feel hate.
  • Watched the Kings-Spurs game from the other night. Ben Mclemore may have found his calling in the league as a scorer off the bench. It’s easy to forget that he is just a baby, but he has a lot of time to still hit his peak as a basketball player. I hope he finds a good team someday. Until then, Ben has to learn how to protect his cookies.
  • Speaking of the Spurs. I wasn’t very hype on them coming into the season, but they look really good. They have a nice balance of veteran leadership (a combined 14 championship rings on this roster) and some good young cats. I like what little I’ve seen of Latvian forward, Davis Bertrans, who has impressed me with his 3 point range. I’ve often talked shit about David Lee’s one on one defense, but he is actually a decent help defender. Also, I think he has a chip on his shoulder. After sitting the past 2 seasons, dude looks hungry. Kudos on the pickup Mr. Buford. Last but not least….Kawhi “frigging” Leonard!!!!!!! I cannot believe this is the same kid who found himself in a moment too big during the 2013 NBA Finals. He is ridiculously good right now.
  • Lakers-Pacers definitely was the Good Ass Game of the Week last week with their overtime affair (Those Pacers cheerleaders tho!!!! MPPPPHHHHHH), but one of my favorite moments last week was watching Damien Lillard and old Joe Jhnson go basket for basket in the 4th quarter of the Blazers vs. Jazz. Maybe we will get lucky and they face off in the first round of the playoffs. Although I gotta say, I’m not sold on Quinn Snyder as an NBA coach. He just seems too uptight. Maybe the Salt Lake City cuisine has him constipated.
  • Speaking of Lillard, Dame says he wants to win the MVP. I have mixed feelings on him publicly making this statement. On one hand, him winning MVP would obviously correlate with the Blazers having a great regular season. On the other hand, it sounds like Lillard worrying about something he cannot control. MVP is a subjective award. Saying at the beginning of the season that you want to win MVP is like a musician publicly saying that he wants the album he is working on to win a Grammy. Perhaps it is better to just do the best you can and let the product speak for itself.

 

We have some good ass games this week. If you have a way to watch them without accessing League Pass then you are already ahead of the game. I can’t believe that a mulit-billion dollar industry can’t find a way to hire people to fix their digital media site. It is befuddling and infuriating.

Demand for NBA is at an all time high. With so much interest in this year’s season, Adam Silver couldn’t have picked a worse time to drop the ball on that front. I hope they work this out soon, otherwise it will be a perpetually sour season for this hoops fan. I may abandon sportswatching altogether and just focus on being a normal human being. Or maybe I’ll just become a full fledged soccer guy. Chew on that reality for a minute.

 

Peace,

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

2016-2017 Season Preview: Top 26 Storylines Part One

[This preview also appears as a post on fullsass.com. What does Fullsass mean? Well check it out for yourself.] 

All Illustrations by Louis Eastman

We are only a few days away from the beginning of training camp, time to dust off the cobwebs and fire it back up. Although the biggest story of the off-season was the Kevin Durant free agency, there are plenty of other story lines to follow this year. I’ve listed (from A-Z ) the ones that I find the most compelling for the 2016-2017 season.

Amin Elhassan fullsizerender-4

ESPN’s most merciless twitter troll is a must follow this season.

Amin is great not only for his tendency to roast any unlucky soul stupid enough to tweet some dumb shit, but also for his great insight into how things operate behind the NBA scenes. Having worked in both the Knicks and Suns front office before his stop at ESPN, Elhassan is a wealth of insider knowledge.

What I love most about him is that he does not hold back in any of his funny–but often wickedly straight forward analysis. His creation of the #Pitino game is one the more underappreciated social media phenomenons you’ll experience during playoff elimination games. #Pitino game is just as a part of the playoff pageantry as TNT’s Gone Fishing segments, but more interactive and way more clever. 

Buddy Hield

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Back in 2015 he simply slid into place. Buddy Buddy Buddy All up in my face.

Is Buddy Hield the Real Deal Holyfield? Inquiring minds want to know. It is a little too early to anoint him as the sidekick to Anthony Davis, but if Hield shoots as well as his reputation suggests, then this could be a good working relationship for the two. Hield wasn’t exactly a defensive stopper in college, but that hasn’t kept James Harden from receiving tons of (mostly deserved) accolades. He could be a nice small ball option for Pelican’s coach, Alvin Gentry, who is looking at a very thin back court-especially with Jrue Holiday absent from the team for personal reasons. 

Celtics Are Legit Contenders

Had the C’s managed to get Horford and Durant this off-season, you could have  penciled them in for the NBA Finals (and I doubt anyone one would have argued with you). As it stands, they only have two reliable scorers, Isiah Thomas and Horford (who has never averaged a 20 and 10 at any point in his career). Isiah Thomas is great at getting his own shot, but he isn’t much of a distributor.

Avery Bradley is an all NBA defender, but anything he gives you on offense is considered icing on the cake (Bruce Bowen 2.0?), and their outside shooting is too reliant upon Kelly Olynk shooting a high percentage. I think they are still two really good players away, or one superstar and a role player (probably a backup pg) away from being in the conversation to knock off the Lebrons for the Eastern Conference crown.

Draymond Green

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Steph Curry may be the league MVP, but I think the team MVP for the Golden State Warriors is Draymond Green. Klay Thompson, Curry, and Green are all irreplaceable, but the intangibles that Dray provide for that team are immeasurable. The league’s decision to suspend him changed the course of that series, as the Warriors were dead in the water after game 5. Regardless, had Dray kept his head, the hometown of Jive Ass Don King would still be without a title today. 

Had we laid money on “Finals player most likely to send pictures of their ding-dong to all their Snapchat followers”, most people would have place their bets on J.R. Smith. I think the public opinion of Draymond Green will be cemented for the rest of his career, according to how he performs both on and off the court this season. The Warriors need his fire, but he has to learn to harness it if they are going to get back to the Finals.

Everybody Eats This Season 

The NBA has never been a better league to play in. Owners are making money hand over fist. The league just signed a lucrative television deal that allows even scrubs *ahem* players like Matthew Dellavedova to cash in a meal ticket. Allen Crabbe made 70 million to stay in Portland.

The Grizzlies’ Mike Conley leveraged his way into a 153 million dollar contract and for a couple of months, was the highest paid player in league history. This year’s 90 million dollar salary cap is only going to get larger (reportedly $118 million next season), so dudes are about to get paid. Now that everybody is eating, let’s start taking bets on who will eat themselves out of the league.

Finals Rematch (Again)

We can just stop this right now huh? No need to even play the season out. Forget preseason. Let’s put it on simulation mode like NBA Live 95? Barring any major injuries, I don’t see how anyone out west beats Golden State, or anyone out east beating Lebron.

I’m looking forward to the rubber match between these two teams. Kevin Durant is going to be the deadliest 4th option you’ve ever seen in the NBA Finals. The running thread all season will be “If Lebron beats the GSW super team will he be the greatest?” or “Will this championship validate KD’s career even though he joined a super team?” I personally don’t blame Durant or the Warriors for signing him. I bet it sucks losing to Lebron, but I bet it sucks even more losing to him after getting spotted a 3-1 series lead. This is the best reoccurring story line since Lakers vs.Celtics last decade. Stay tuned.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Playing The Point 

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I’m not saying the Bucks will be in the Eastern Conference Finals. I’m not saying that I think they will get back in the playoffs. I’m not even saying they will be fun to watch, but there will be at least 20 nights this season where Giannis does something to make Sportscenter top 10 highlights. 

Harrison Barnes: The 94 Million Dollar Man

I personally think Barnes will do well in Dallas. The city has a way of being a decent stop for exorbitantly rich black athletes (if they perform decently ). Of course, you have to wonder what is considered reasonable expectations for a contract like the one Barnes signed. For what it is worth Mavs fans, he will be a better investment than Roy Tarpley, Cherokee Parks, Erick Dampier and Shawn Bradley all put together. He can’t be any worse………right?

Iggy’s back  

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No I am not talking about the Nick Young’s ex fiancee’s booty (although it makes for an interesting google search #therabbithole). If Andre Iguodala is unhealthy, forget about the Warriors getting a chip for Kevin Durant. Iggy is one of their best defenders, and he was the guy who guarded both Durant and Lebron down the stretch of last year’s playoffs. By the time games 6 and 7 of the Finals came around, he was gassed (who is to say that a healthy Iggy doesn’t try and dunk the ball on that infamous Lebron chase down block?). 

Now that Durant is a teammate, there is no one in the west (outside of Kawhi Leonard) to push him defensively. Theoretically, he should be fresh for his Finals dance with Lebron. Then again, 30-year-old backs are more fickle than 23-year-old girlfriends. You never know how things will flare up from night to night. 

 

The 3 J’s (reboot)

My dude Joakim Noah is back in his hometown playing for the Knicks. No matter how he does on the floor, homie is going to be slaying it off the court. It is good to see Jeff Hornacek get another head coaching shot. He got a raw deal in Phoenix. Robert Sarver pulled the old bait and switch with Hornacek. The Suns front office didn’t bring back key players, but kept expecting the same results . It was unfair to everyone involved; Hornacek, the players, the fans, and League Pass subscribers who were unexpectedly treated to a near playoff run in 2014.

As for Phil, no one could figure out why the hell he hired Derek Fisher; but he corrected that mistake by firing D-Fish midway through the season. This is his third and most pivotal season as Knicks GM, because if they suck again this year, it will be tough to lure free agents to sign with the club next season. 

Are they going to make the playoffs? Maybe, if 40 wins is enough to get in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Courtney Lee was a good pickup, and Derrick Rose may be able to add some punch if he can find the basketball court, and stay out of the criminal court. Rose thinks they have a super team in New York, but kind of like the word consent,there may be some confusion as to what the definition of a super team is.

40 wins for this roster would be the equivalent of making the Finals. I’d play with them on NBA2K, because you don’t really need subs on a video game, but in real life, their bench is thin. Pencil them in for 30 wins.

Klay “ I’m Not Sacrificing Shit” Thompson

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I’ll fight anyone who says he isn’t the best 2 guard in the league. He may not be able to attack the rim like Demar Derozan (apparently the 46th best player in the NBA), but the man is the best defensive 2 guard; and his shot is wet. He is Ron Harper with a knock down J. Klay Thompson only benefits from the arrival of Kevin Durant.

TO BE CONTINUED:

 

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

Fool’s Gold and Other Crazy Theories

Before we start the Western Conference Finals preview, I want to congratulate the 2015-2016 Spurs on a great regular season. Having broken the franchise record for wins, and securing the second best record in the league this season, a 2nd round knockout would appear to most people as a disappointing season. No doubt there is a sour taste for most Spurs fans, but to put things in perspective, this wasn’t a choke-job for San Antonio. They are just finally “too old.”

This didn’t just magically happen a couple of weeks ago, they’ve been that way. It just finally got exposed. Anyway who watched the Spurs play the Cavs, Warriors, or Thunder this season, could see the nicks in their armor if they looked hard enough. During the regular season, the Spurs had beaten a Curry–less Warriors team once in 4 games, the Thunder once in two games, and the Cavs once out of 2 contests.

The Spurs are old, their once mighty backcourt appeared slow and undersized against the top dogs, and they still managed to eke out 67 wins. That is a mixture of superior coaching, a watered down league this year, and highly intelligent ballplayers. What San Antonio lacked in size and speed, they made up for in technique and basketball I.Q. But let’s face it folks, basketball smarts can only get you so far in the vertical game.

The Thunder were stronger, and faster than the Spurs who got outhustled and outmuscled. Those two things are forgivable. What I did not expect was for the Thunder to outthink the Spurs.50-50 balls fell out-of-bounds, instead of Spurs players grabbing them–they would leave the refs to make a call on possession almost every time this happened. I was also surprised at all the hero ball I saw from players trying to make double and triple moves down in the post instead of working the ball around for a better shot. Role players like Boris Diaw, David West, and Patty Mills were largely ineffective. Danny Green has played well enough on defense, but San Antonio needed him to shoot better.

One big silver (and black?) lining to take from Game 6 was the incredible second half effort by the Spurs (led by Andre Miller and Tim Duncan) that got them to within 11 points. They’d fallen behind by 27 points and though a comeback was feasible, San Antonio could have easily laid down like a more busterish team would have done.

I consider those 67 wins to be Fool’s Gold. The league this year just wasn’t that good outside of the top 4 teams, and it was only a matter of time until the Spurs played a team younger, faster, and more superstar driven. This may sound crazy, but maybe they OVERachieved this season.

One of the main subplots to this year was “will this be the last run for Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili?” I may sound crazy for a second time in two paragraphs, but I think these guys still have something to offer. If there were a way for Popovich to work the roster to where Timmy, Manu, and Tony came off the bench, I would like to see it.

Neither of them are superstars any longer, but they are still good, serviceable players in small doses. Couple that with their veteran leadership, and you have something to keep them around for. Unlike guys like Iverson and Kobe, I think the Spurs big 3 realize their limitations. As elder statesman of the NBA, it would still be cool to see them around, and know they are on the bench, and in the locker rooms, pulling pranks and giving advice.

The Spurs will have to do something different going forward however, Boris Diaw isn’t getting any younger, Danny Green is who he is as a player, and it seems crazy to expect him to get much better. Rumors are swirling about Mike Conley Jr, and Pau Gasol moving down to San Antonio. Those would be good acquisitions, but free agency is always crazy, and you never know which of the younger guys on the Spurs roster will make a leap in the Summer Leagues. But forget all that noise, we still got basketball to watch THIS year.

I won’t even bother going into the Eastern Conference Finals, because you know, Cleveland.

Golden State vs. Oklahoma City will easily be the Good Ass Games of the Week, beginning tonight in about 15 minutes (so pardon any typos or grammar errors–I’m tryna get this shit done in time to watch tipoff).

How the Thunder can win

 

It will be easy to get caught up in the hype of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (yes yes we know–two of the five best players in the league) but its the role players who stepped up big time for the Thunder last round versus the Spurs. Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, Andre Roberson, and (yes) Dion Waiters all chipped in to make the Thunder play the best they have played all season.

They will need that to continue in order to compete for the Western Conference championship. You already can count on the 60-70 points combined by Durant and Westbrook. The biggest question is where will the other points come from. Adams got some easy buckets against the Spurs off of stray rebounds and alley-oops. KD and Russ will need to find a way for him to get 2-3 easy buckets a game.

During the home game that they lost back in February (the OT loss), the Thunder outrebounded the Warriors by 30 boards and still lost. That is unheard of. They will have to continue pounding the glass with their big frontline of Ibaka, Adams, and Kanter if they want to limit the Warriors possessions.

Lastly, the Thunder will have to take care of the ball. Turnovers are costly against any team, they are deadly against the Warriors, who have no problem converting a steal, or a poor shot, into a dunk or 3 point bucket. The Warriors are already efficient in their half court sets, not taking care of the rock is basically handing them points.

 

Why the Thunder won’t win

 

Besides sporting the best shooting backcourt of all time in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson,  the Warriors happen to have an undersized power forward out of Michigan State, who also doubles as a top 10 player in the league. Though Thunder may have an advantage with their bigs (with an ailing Bogut and clumsy Anderson Verajao) they will have no answer for Draymond Green. I cannot wait to see the Ibaka vs. Green matchup in the low post and on the 3 point line. Dray is going to eat, if Donovan rolls out the Kanter, Adams front line with Waiters, Durant, and Westbrook on the wings. Also, don’t sleep on 3 point threat Marreese Speights, who has no problem hoisting one up.

Russell Westbrook is going to have to play defense this series in a pick your poison scenario of guarding Curry or Thompson. The Thunder don’t have a deep bench when it comes to their guards. If Kyle Singler sees a minute of this series, I’ll be shocked, and Cameron Payne may get his lunch money taken from him if he sees more than 20 minutes a game.

If that weren’t enough, the Warriors sport a large mismatch anytime Harrison Barnes is on the floor, and Steve Kerr (coaching advantage:Dubs) can bring Andre Iguodala or Shaun Livingston off the bench anytime he needs to spell someone. Brandon Rush, and Leandro Barbosa will see significant minutes against whatever scrub the Thunder roll out, both are luxuries that Gregg Popovich did not have against Oklahoma City.

I think at least 4 of the games will be decided by 6 points or less, but I have the Warriors winning in 5 games. I think the Thunder found a favorable matchup last round, and their luck will run out against the defending champs. What we saw against the Spurs was an aberration and not a trend. This is not meant to disrespect to the Thunder, or their fanbase (though I am hearing a lot of Thunder in 7 predictions). I think OKC provides the best possible matchup for what I expect to be a thrilling Western Conference Finals.

Buen Provecho,

BM

Thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

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