cnotes Posts:24911 Followers:33
On 12/25/2011 09:30 AM in NBA

Cnotes Xmas Day Presents in the NBA !

NBA Finals Rematch Highlights Christmas Day

The Miami Heat’s season under the microscope begins Sunday at the Dallas Mavericks. Tip-off from American Airlines Center will be at 2:30 p.m. (ET) on ABC.

Miami is a 4-point favorite with the total still pending. This is one of five games on Christmas as the delayed season finally gets underway. The other big storylines are Chris Paul’s Clippers debut and the injury situations to the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Boston’s Paul Pierce and Golden State’s Stephen Curry.

LeBron James infamously proclaimed that Miami would win seven rings after he and Chris Bosh joined forces with Dwyane Wade. James came up extremely small in the NBA Finals last year and will have to watch Dallas raise its championship banner, surely a painful experience.

Team president Pat Riley was aggressive in the offseason as always. He gave coach Erik Spoelstra an extension, ending any talk about his future. Backup swingman Shane Battier and center Eddy Curry are new additions, although each is questionable for Sunday due to injuries. Mike Miller (hernia) is also out so the starters could be logging big minutes.

The Heat are still the solid favorite (+180) to win the NBA title, but the pressure will remain with them every game until they job gets done.

The Mavericks have taken a different approach after winning their first championship. Center Tyson Chandler, forward Caron Butler and guard J.J. Barea were all allowed to leave via free agency as owner Mark Cuban wants cap flexibility to sign a big free agent next year.

Lamar Odom was stolen from the Lakers and will come off the bench with Jason Terry. The starting guard tandem of 38-year-old Jason Kidd and either Vince Carter or unproven Dominique Jones has some major questions. Delonte West is the backup point with Barea gone.

This NBA betting matchup has been dominated by the road team, 13-3-2 against the spread in the last 18 games. The road team won three of the six games outright in last year’s Finals despite being underdogs.

Boston Celtics at NY Knicks (-3 ½) – TNT 12:00 p.m. (ET)

Pierce is listed as questionable with a heel injury and could be held to limited minutes even if he does play. The team already took a hit at forward with Jeff Green (heart) out for the season. He was expected to get major minutes as a sixth man. There’s big pressure on point guard Rajon Rondo to infuse youth on his aging teammates and Boston could take a big step back this season.

New York last won the Atlantic Division in 1994 with Boston taking the last four. The teams are tied in the division future odds (+110) with Philadelphia next (+700). Chandler appears to be the perfect addition to this defensively-challenged squad. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire will provide lots of scoring, with Toney Douglas and newly acquired Baron Davis making up for the loss of point guard Chauncey Billups.

Chicago Bulls at L.A. Lakers (Pick) – ABC 5:00 p.m. (ET)

Chicago has gotten some good news the past 10 days with the addition of former Detroit Piston Richard Hamilton and superstar Derrick Rose signing a contract extension. Hamilton looked good in his preseason debut and provides much needed scoring at shooting guard, where Keith Bogans (4.4 PPG) started year.

The Lakers opened as 3-point ‘chalk’ before Bryant’s wrist injury. Chicago is now even a small favorite at some places. Bryant has been upgraded to probable even though doctors were speculating a 3-4 week absence. The question is whether his shooting will be affected as he relies much more on jumpers now. The Lakers are already without suspended center Andrew Bynum for five games.

Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder (-7½) – ESPN 8:00 p.m. (ET)

Orlando has a giant cloud hanging over its head with Dwight Howard’s impending free agency and current trade request. The Magic re-signed shooting guard Jason Richardson and traded for Boston’s Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis, but they are nowhere near the title contender that Howard longs to play for. Things could unravel quickly with a poor start, starting on Sunday.

Oklahoma is going in the direct opposite of Orlando. Its superstar Kevin Durant loves playing there in a small market and other guys want to play with him like newly slimmed down center Kendrick Perkins. The Thunder are now the Western Conference co-favorite with the Lakers (+200) and that makes sense as their young nucleus can handle the more tiring condensed season.

L.A. Clippers at Golden State Warriors (+5) – ESPN 10:30 p.m. (ET)

The Clippers are suddenly the darling of the NBA and tied with the Lakers (-110) in the Pacific Division odds. Paul along with high-flying Blake Griffin is a mouth-watering duo. The rest of the team is pretty good too with Butler and Billups signed as free agents and re-signing center DeAndre Jordan. One caveat is that Billups is undersized to play two-guard and would match up horribly with someone like Bryant in a playoff series.

Golden State has a new coach in Mark Jackson and he’s preaching defense to a group that allowed 105.7 PPG last year, ranked 27th. Offense is not a problem after scoring 103.4 PPG (ranked seventh). However, Curry has been downgraded to doubtful with an ankle injury. That mean more looks for last year’s leading scorer Monta Ellis (24.1 PPG), but he could be distracted after a sexual harassment suit.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24911 Followers:33
12/25/2011 09:33 AM

NBA Future Odds Crystalize With Season Starting

The NBA’s regular season is less than a week away from its Christmas start and most rosters have taken shape after a flurry of moves.

The biggest domino to fall was Chris Paul traded from New Orleans to the Los Angeles Clippers last week. He’ll team with Blake Griffin to form one of the league’s best duos, but the supporting cast isn’t bad either, especially after adding Chauncey Billups who got amnestied by the New York Knicks.

Oddsmakers have moved the Clips (+600) to fourth place in the Western Conference odds. The Lakers (+200) are tied at the top with Oklahoma City and are reeling a bit after losing out on Paul and Orlando proclaiming that Dwight Howard will not be traded anywhere soon.

Kobe Bryant is reportedly unhappy with Lakers’ management after the salary dump of Lamar Odom to Dallas, but has shot down a Stephen A. Smith report that he could ask for a trade. Bryant could be extra ornery this year with his wife just filing for divorce (with no prenup) and the recent low-level signings of Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy will not appease him.

Oklahoma City has continued to climb up the oddsboard despite limited offseason moves. Center Kendrick Perkins has lost 30 pounds and the general youth of the Thunder will allow them to stay fresh in the 66-game condensed season.

Defending champion Dallas (+300) has undergone a major roster upheaval with a big goal keeping cap space for next season to lure a major free agent. There are depth issues at center after losing Tyson Chandler and point guard after J.J. Barea’s departure. Aging shooting guard Vince Carter was a recent addition and could help in a limited role.

There’s a big drop-off in the conference odds after the first four teams with San Antonio (+1100), Memphis (+1400), Denver and Portland (both +2500) following.

‘How the East Was Won’

This Eastern Conference hasn’t had any major moves this offseason, unlike the prior year when LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to join Dwyane Wade in Miami. The trio may have had an embarrassing NBA Finals loss to Dallas, blamed mostly on James, but they’re still the big -110 conference favorite.

The Heat’s recent moves have included signing swingman Shane Battier and former overweight washout Eddy Curry. They also re-signed their restricted free agent point guard Mario Chalmers. The biggest move may have been extending coach Erik Spoelstra’s contract, showing the three big stars that team president Pat Riley and ownership have his back.

Chicago (+250) is a clear second-favorite in the East and just made a solid signing with Richard Hamilton. The former Piston should step right in at off-guard and provide much-needed scoring. However, he has a lot of wear-and-tear on his 33-year-old body and can he guard the likes of Wade in a playoff series?

Boston (+500) just suffered a big blow with forward Jeff Green needing heart surgery and out for the year. He was expected to play 30 minutes as a sixth-man and their over-the-hill nucleus doesn’t have a good replacement. The Celtics look to be way overvalued at these odds.

The Knicks (+800) appear to have good odds value and should take the Atlantic Division over Boston. The Chandler addition shored up the center spot and Baron Davis was just signed to help replace Billups.

The Eastern odds also drop-off after the first four teams with Orlando (+1400), Atlanta, Indiana and New Jersey (all +2500) next. Larry Bird has built an interesting team in Indiana and recently signed power forward David West will provide low-post scoring. The Nets’ odds would quickly change if Howard is dealt there.

Remaining free agents are slim pickings

The remaining free agents leave a lot to be desired and will have minimal effect on future odds.

Samuel Dalembert is a good rebounder and shot-blocker from the center position. He would be a ‘good get’ for Dallas, but Houston is the current frontrunner. Andrei Kirilenko is an athletic forward who will likely end up with New Jersey or Sacramento, neither of which are contenders at this point.

Gilbert Arenas is another victim of the amnesty provision and the former Magic player could help as a scorer off the bench with the Heat, Lakers or Knicks. Kenyon Martin could soon be released from his team in China and someone will take him as likely a backup power forward.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24911 Followers:33
12/25/2011 09:35 AM

Books get ready for NBA

December 19, 2011

NBA Prop at Lucky's

Lucky’s sports books posted a proposition on most wins by the Lakers and Clippers almost immediately after the Chris Paul deal was official. The price has the Lakers minus-250 with the Clippers getting plus-200. My first reaction when I saw the prop was, “Where’s the spread?” I thought there had to be some kind of mistake like it should say Lakers -4 ½ wins(-250), or something like that. But when you start to look at the talent on the Clippers roster with Blake Griffin and Chauncey Billips, a case can be made for the Clippers to contend well. My best guess would have the Lakers as a No. 3 seed in the playoffs with the Clippers maybe earning the seventh spot.

NBA Schedule

My friend, professor Ed Meyer, sent me some notes on the shortened NBA schedule that has all kinds of oddities in it that look to give certain teams an advantage over others.

For instance, the Knicks get 14 opponents playing their fourth game in five days. The Raptors get only two. The Cavaliers only have THREE games all season in which they are rested vs. an un-rested opponent. The Wizards get 17.

Miami only has two opponents who are playing the second of back-to-back road games -- and they are un-rested themselves in both of them.


To view Ed Meyer's NBA schedule breakdown, click here

NBA Championship

The Las Vegas Hilton readjusted all their NBA futures with the signing of Chris Paul and dropped the Clippers from 50/1 all the way down to 15/1.The Heat are still the favorites at 9/5 (Bet $50 to win $90), followed by the Thunder (5/1), Bulls (6/1), Lakers (6/1), Mavericks (7/1) and Celtics (12/1). Everyone else is listed at 20/1 or higher.

Have a great Christmas and enjoy the day with your family and now, of course the NBA. Here’s a few stocking stuffers:

Knicks 110-98 over the Celtics
Heat 98-90 over the Mavericks
Lakers 95-92 over the Bulls

College Basketball a Grind

Most sports books have reported consistent wins in college basketball, but the victory has been small and a daily grind. College hoop action picks up considerably with the public after the New Year.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24911 Followers:33
12/25/2011 09:39 AM

Christmas Day Action

December 23, 2011

The start of the NBA season is finally here after the lengthy lockout delayed the debut for over seven weeks. There is no shortage of storylines to get this fast-paced, 66-game campaign going with five intriguing matchups on Christmas Day. We'll begin in the Big Apple with a meeting of two old rivals and a score to settle from this past April's first round of the playoffs.

Celtics at Knicks (-4 ½, 194) - 12:00 PM EST (TNT)

Boston bounced New York in the opening round of last season's playoffs with a four-game sweep, including two blowout wins at Madison Square Garden. The re-tooled Knicks look to return the favor, while the aging Celtics will likely be without forward Paul Pierce, who is doubtful with a heel injury.

New York made one of the big free-agent splashes last summer with the signing of Amare Stoudemire, but the focus turned to the Knicks in February when Carmelo Anthony was dealt to New York from Denver. However, the Knicks didn't do their backers a service by going 12-15 SU/ATS in the final 27 regular season games with Anthony in the lineup, including a 6-10 ATS mark as a favorite. New York was busy in this short offseason by waiving veteran point guard Chauncey Billups, while solidifying the middle with the signing of former Mavericks' center Tyson Chandler and picking up point guard Baron Davis off waivers (Davis is out with a back injury).

The Celtics cashed seven of 11 times last season as a road underdog, including outright victories over the Thunder, Heat, Lakers, and Spurs. Boston may have some depth issues past Pierce being likely out, as swingman Jeff Green is set to miss the entire season as he will have surgery on his heart. Doc Rivers' club has won eight straight games in the series, while going 3-1 ATS at New York in this span.

Heat (-4 ½, 189 ½) at Mavericks - 2:30 PM EST (ABC)

The rematch everyone is waiting for takes place at American Airlines Center as Dallas opens up its title defense against Miami. The Mavs won their first ever championship in six games over LeBron James and the Heat in June, while capturing the final three games of the series. Meanwhile, the Heat burned up the headlines all of last season with the "Big Three" of James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, as Miami is expected to return to the NBA Finals this June.

The Heat lost three of four road meetings in Dallas last season, including a 106-95 defeat in November to fall to 9-8 through 17 games. Miami rebounded to win 12 consecutive games, but its winning streak went up in flames with a 98-96 home loss to Dallas in late December. The first four games of the Finals were all relatively low-scoring with both teams failing to reach 100 points. Dallas eclipsed the 100-point mark in each of the last two victories, while cashing the 'over' in Games 5 and 6.

Erik Spoelstra's club owned a 21-13 ATS ledger as a road favorite last season, but lost in the opener at Boston as one-point 'chalk,' 88-80. Dallas put together a 1-4 ATS record as a home underdog last season, but three of those losses came with Dirk Nowitzki out of the lineup. However, the Mavs stepped up in the playoffs as a 'dog with an 8-2-1 ATS mark, although none of those games came in the Lone Star State.

Bulls (-4, 186 ½) at Lakers - 5:00 PM EST (ABC)

The mighty has fallen fast as the Lakers aren't even the talk of their own town heading into the opener against Chicago. The Purple and Gold lost head coach Phil Jackson to retirement, while the anticipated Chris Paul deal fell through before training camp. Making matters even worse, veteran swingman Lamar Odom was traded to rival Dallas and superstar Kobe Bryant tore ligaments in his right wrist. Bryant said he will play against the Bulls, who look to prove their for real after last year's deep run in the playoffs.

Chicago finished last season as the top seed in the Eastern Conference at 62-20, while owning the best record in the entire league. The Bulls failed to make the NBA Finals after getting knocked out by the Heat in five games of the Eastern Conference Finals, but Chicago's team stayed in tact around the nucleus of Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah. Chicago put together a solid 26-15 record away from the United Center, while going 18-14 ATS as road 'chalk.'

The Lakers will have issues in the frontcourt with center Andrew Bynum suspended for the first four games of the season following a flagrant foul committed in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals at Dallas. Los Angeles was not listed as a home underdog last season, as the Lakers went 32-14 SU and 16-30 ATS record at Staples Center, but 13 of those ATS losses came as double-digit favorites.

What else to watch for:

-- The Thunder is expected to do big things again this season after making the Western Conference Finals last June as Oklahoma City hosts Orlando. Dwight Howard begins this shortened season in a Magic uniform after the trade rumors of him going potentially to the Lakers or Nets. The Magic finished with 50 wins or more for the fourth straight season, but couldn't get out of the first round after falling to the Hawks in six games. Oklahoma City and Orlando split a pair of meetings last season as the Thunder is listed as an eight-point home favorite.

-- The new-look Clippers wrap up the night with a trip to the Bay Area to take on the Warriors at Oracle Arena. Los Angeles claimed the biggest prize of the short offseason with the acquisition of point guard Chris Paul from New Orleans. The Clips opened up as 2 ½-point underdogs when these lines were released earlier this month, but with the Paul trade and L.A. going 2-0 in the preseason, that line has swung to the Clips laying five points. The Warriors will feature their dynamic duo of young scorers in the backcourt, as Monta Ellis (shoulder) and Stephen Curry (ankle) are listed as probable after getting hurt in the preseason.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24911 Followers:33
12/25/2011 09:43 AM

NBA 2011-12 PREVIEW AND SEASON WINS PROJECTIONS!

Well, it's about time!

The long-delayed 2011-12 NBA campaign finally gets underway on Christmas Day. Better late than never, we suppose, as it looked for much of the autumn like we might not have an NBA season at all.

Instead, we're presented with a unique challenge as we preview the campaign with our annual best recommendations for season "wins" pricing. We suspect that dynamics such as continuity and depth will be extremely valuable assets in the NBA this term, especially in the early going of the campaign.

Due to the extended lockout, there was no traditional offseason as such beyond the NBA Draft at the end of June. No summer leagues, no free-agent movement beginning July 1, no trades or other personnel moves throughout the relaxed summer months, and no traditional early October beginning of training camps like usual.

Rather, the resolution of the lockout at the end of November and a rush to commence the regular season by Christmas resulted in condensed training camps and player transaction periods, each crammed into brief December windows. Each team also played only two preseason games. Indeed, the NBA teams hit this season not too much different than college squads, with little live-fire action before the games begin to count.

We expect that teams with new coaching regimes might also be behind the eight-ball at the outset, having less time to integrate their new systems. Indeed, sides with new coaches have had almost no time to acclimate themselves to their new surroundings.

The revised 66-game schedule presents its own challenges, with more games jammed into fewer days, creating more back-to-back situations, at least one back-to-back-to-back scenario for each team, and many more three games-in-four nights scenarios. Expect the injury factor to be enhanced due to the decreased preseason conditioning, increased game load, and less recuperative time. The uneven scheduling necessitated by the condensed season creates other anomalies compared to the usual NBA slates in past years.

We return, however, to depth and continuity as the two qualities we would focus upon most in the early stages of the campaign.

Whatever, it's time to project forward and provide, as usual, our best recommendations for season "win" totals as listed by various sports books.

Let the games begin!


WESTERN CONFERENCE


NORTHWEST DIVISION: Top recommendations...Not since Kevin Garnett was in town have the Minnesota Timberwolves (24 1/2) generated much buzz. But we can't wait for the long-awaited debut of hotshot Spanish G Ricky Rubio, who along with ex-Maverick J.J. Barea gives the T-wolves a fresh new look in the backcourt. Arizona rookie F Derrick Williams is another new face who could prove a plus, and we expect Rick Adelman to be a major upgrade from Kurt Rambis on the bench. Even if Kevin Love and Michael Beasley continue to take off possessions on the stop end, the upgraded backcourt provides enough firepower in the Minnesota mix to cause some trouble in the Northwest. "Over" at Target Center...To the surprise of some, the Denver Nuggets (38 1/2) didn't miss Carmelo Anthony and his related distractions one bit after his trade-deadline move to the Knicks last February. And keeping Nene in the fold to patrol the paint was extra important after Kenyon Martin's departure (and subsequent contract mess in China, preventing him from joining another NBA team until the Chinese season ends in February). With Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith (both FAs) also likely stuck in China until at least February, we expect an adjustment period in Denver with new faces on the wings (Rudy Fernandez and Texas rookie Jordan Hamilton) that could reduce the win total. "Under" for us at Pepsi Center...The days of the Utah Jazz (25 1/2) as serious playoff contenders are over for the time being, and the Jerry Sloan Era ended last February. Plus, longtime familiar face Andrei Kirilenko appears to be staying to play in native Russia rather than return to Salt Lake City. There are still a few nice pieces to the Jazz puzzle (we're big fans of PF Paul Millsap), but not enough of them for HC Ty Corbin to mold a contender. At least not yet, with much youth laced throughout the roster (especially the frontcourt). "Under" at EnergySolutions Arena.

Others...Much like the Heat and the Bulls, the Oklahoma City Thunder (48 1/2) has much the same look as it did last year when reaching the Western Conference Finals. And third-year G James Harden appears ready to burst upon the scene and join Kevin Durant in the star category. Russell Westbrook's occasional wildness at the point, however, concerns us enough to back off this rather-aggressive win total for Scott Brooks' team. It's a no-call for us at Ford Center...The Portland Trailblazers (41 1/2) could be ready for their long-awaited breakthrough, and the recent addition of Jamal Crawford from Atlanta mitigates the absence of explosive Brandon Roy, whose sore knees finally forced him into retirement. If we were convinced that C Marcus Camby could hold up over a full season, we might be looking "over" with the Blazers...but we're not. Instead, it's a pass for us at the Rose Garden.

SOUTHWEST DIVISION: Top recommendations...Expect the Dallas Mavericks (44 1/2) to put forth a spirited defense of their title next spring. But remember that it was an aging roster in Big D that went the whole way last term, and adding Vince Carter and Lamar Odom hasn't made the Mavs any younger. We could see Dallas pacing itself accordingly in the condensed schedule as it looks to peak in the spring, and Tyson Chandler's no-nonsense presence on the blocks might be missed. The Mavs should still be in the title mix, but we're still looking "under" at American Airlines Center...Losing anchors Chris Paul and David West figures to push the New Orleans Hornets (2 41/2) much further from contending status. But they picked up some nice spare parts (Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman) from the Clippers in the Paul trade. Which, along with the remaining core of Carl Landry, Emeka Okafor, and Jarrett Jack, should at least allow the team to compete for HC Monty Williams, who impressed with his ability to scheme (especially defensively) a year ago. "Over" in the Big Easy...Like the Celtics, it could be argued that the 66-game slate will be a positive for the familiar-looking and veteran lineup of the San Antonio Spurs (41 1/2). On the other hand, the condensed nature of the slate might prove more difficult for Tim Duncan and his nagging hurts, and the Spurs have been notorious for pacing themselves in the regular season the past few years. With an aging lineup, we don't see a departure in that approach from "Coach Pop." We're looking "under" at AT&T Center...The experience of last year's playoff run should do wonders for the Memphis Grizzlies (38 1/2), who played hard a year ago for HC Lionel Hollins (a neat trick, considering how the likes of Zach Randolph have often slacked on the job in the past). Having Rudy Gay available after he was sidelined past mid-February last year should also be a plus. "Over" at FedEx Forum.

Others...It's a transition year for the Houston Rockets (34 1/2), who spared us an "under" recommendation with their late signing of vet C Samuel Dalembert; we were a bit concerned if the Rockets were going to rely upon 2nd-year Jordan Hill in the post. This was also a team ready to move out linchpins Luis Scola and Kevin Martin in the aborted Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers trade that would have landed Pau Gasol in Houston, so there's no telling what GM Daryl Morey and new HC Kevin McHale have in mind for the roster, which could be under reconstruction into February. It's a no call for us at Toyota Center.

PACIFIC DIVISION: Top recommendations...It's not business as usual for the Los Angeles Lakers (40 1/2), whose trade for Chris Paul was nixed by the league. The Lake Show still moved Lamar Odom (to Dallas, reducing the Kardashian presence by one at Staples Center) but for the moment retains Pau Gasol, who was on the move to Houston if the Paul deal wasn't aborted. Got that? Moreover, Andrew Bynum opens the season on suspension after his antics in the playoffs vs. Dallas, and Kobe is already hurting, with a potentially bothersome wrist ligament injury hardly insignificant for a scoring machine and threatening his availability at the outset. With the star power on the wane, depth questionable, and Phil Jackson gone, the Lakers could slip precipitously under new HC Mike Brown. Look "under" for the Lake Show...Believe it; the star attraction now at Staples Center looks to be the Los Angeles Clippers (38 1/2) instead. Adding Chris Paul to a core that consisted of frontline powerhouses Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan gives the Clips a 1-2-3 combo close to any in the league (Heat and Celtics included). Add in the leadership of just-signed G Chauncey Billups, along with holdovers Mo Williams and Randy Foye, and the Clips might have one of the best backcourts in the league, too. If Vinny Del Negro can put the pieces together, and Griffin stays healthy, this could be a title contender. Really! "Over" for the Clips...It's been a while since the Golden State Warriors (27 1/2) have been relevant; they haven't been to the playoffs since 2007. But the backcourt has lots of firepower with Stephen Curry (this week's preseason ankle injury not considered serious) and Monta Ellis, now augmented by Washington State rookie Klay Thompson, and the frontcourt should be serviceable if Andris Beidrins stays healthy. Ellis' off-court problems could be a distraction, and the jury is out on new HC Mark Jackson, but there's enough to indicate an "over" for us in Oakland at Oracle Arena....The Phoenix Suns (31 1/2) are on the descent, not adequately replacing the departed Amar'e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, or Jason Richardson, and counting upon the aging Steve Nash and Grant Hill to revisit their younger days in order to keep the team afloat. Not encouraging. The hope is that athletic ex-Laker Shannon Brown can blossom now that he is no longer Kobe Bryant's valet, and expect some highlight reel dunks on the end of Nash's passes. But good luck to HC Alvin Gentry trying to coax something more out of the likes of Josh Childress, Robin Lopez, and Hakim Warrick, all off disappointing seasons. "Under" at US Airways Center.

Others...We're at least glad to see the Sacramento Kings (17 1/2) still anchored at Power Balance Pavilion (nee Arco Arena) and working on getting a suitable local arena built rather than migrate to the overcrowded Southern California marketplace in Anaheim. But it's been a bizarre few weeks in Sacto, with recently-acquired Chuck Hayes failing a physical and the aforementioned Samuel Dalembert changing course and signing with Houston instead, leaving the Kings with a gaping defensive hole in the paint. As it stands, the only additions worth noting are journeyman F Travis Outlaw and BYU rookie G Jimmer Fredette. Something is telling us to steer clear of the Kings, so we will; no play at Power Balance Pavilion.


EASTERN CONFERENCE


ATLANTIC DIVISION: Top recommendations...After a slow start last season, the Philadelphia 76ers (36 1/2 wins) went 38-28 over their last 66 games; maintaining a similar pace gets them over the projected 36 1/2 this season. Keeping PF Elton Brand healthy remains important, but many observers also believe Jrue Holiday is about to break through as an elite PG, while slashing Andre Iguodala remains one of the most lethal wings in the conference. Much the same look roster-wise as a year ago, when the team eventually responded very positively to HC Doug Collins. It's "over" for us at Wells Fargo Center... Some observers believe the lockout that wiped away the first seven weeks of the season was a gift to the aging Boston Celtics (38 1/2), who would figure to benefit from the extra time off and shortened campaign. Moreover, the veteran core of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo remains together for one more run at the crown. But the Celtics are crossing their fingers that fragile vet frontliner Jermaine O'Neal can remain in one piece, and with fewer off days in the revised schedule, age and lack of depth up front after Big Baby Davis' trade to Orlando are legitimate concerns. And don't forget that the Celts dominated the November-December slate recently, going 94-14 in games played before Christmas the last four seasons. It's an "under" for us in Beantown...The New York Knicks (39 1/2) think they might have solved their defensive issues with the addition of C Tyson Chandler from the champion Mavericks. We agree that Chandler will indeed help on the stop end but don't think he'll provide much of a low-post scoring threat. And we're not sold on the PG play, either, with Toney Douglas and defense-poor Mike Bibby the current options for Mike D'Antoni. Don't be surprised if Carmelo Anthony is asking for more help before long. "Under" at MSG.

Others...The New Jersey Nets (21 1/2) have avoided some potential distractions now that Kim Kardashian won't be attending games (unless to heckle her ex, Kris Humphries, recently re-signed). But maybe not, if owner Mikhail Prokhorov is really serious about running for president of native Russia. Hey, if George W. Bush and Silvio Berlusconi can go from running sports teams into running governments, why can't billionaire Prokhorov? We expect the Dwight Howard acquisition talks go deep into the winter, and that Howard eventually wears a New Jersey uniform. We're just not sure if it will be soon enough to make the Nets relevant before they move to Brooklyn. No call at the Pru Center...Even with a reduced wins total, the Toronto Raptors (16 1/2) can make a case as the league's worst team. Which is why we have little interest getting involved either way with this bunch. No call at Air Canada Centre.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION: Top recommendations...We'll find out next spring if the chemistry is finally right for the Miami Heat (49 1/2) to win the title. But there was stability on the roster through the lockout, which should be a plus in the shortened 66-game regular-season slate, and we doubt the Heat are going to backslide in their second year with LeBron and C-Bosh alongside D-Wade. With a hungry look about it, the Heat appear a few steps ahead of everyone else (for the moment, at least) East. "Over" at American Airlines Arena...They're not asking much of the Washington Wizards (19 1/2), who, to the delight of old-time regional fans who fondly recall the days of "Da Bullet," have returned to a traditional red, white, and blue uniform design similar to the Wes Unseld Era. The Wizards flashed plenty of upside last year when they could get John Wall, Andray Blatche, and JaVale McGee on the court at the same time, and HC Flip Saunders has another interesting piece to add to the mix in explosive 2nd-year G Jordan Crawford. If Saunders can coax something out of Rashard Lewis, the Wizards should clear that modest win total as the fans make a quick detour to Ben's Chili Bowl for a few chili smokes on the way to Verizon Center, a few blocks away. "Over" in D.C.

Others...The Atlanta Hawks (35 1/2) have been making steady progress the past few seasons and responded positively to first-year HC Larry Drew a year ago, although we're not sure how much impact the defection of explosive Jamal Crawford (who recently signed with Portland) will have upon the team. The lineup still has plenty of experience, but early injury woes at PG with Jeff Teague and Kirk Hinrich both hurting have Drew already scrambling for reinforcements (journeyman Jannero Pargo a recent emergency roster addition). No call at Philips Arena...With Dwight Howard's trade demands likely to linger well past New Year's, it's hard to project forward on the Orlando Magic (36 1/2). Our gut feel is that it all becomes a distraction for Stan Van Gundy's team, so we're going to pass at the Amway Center...Next year, expect Michael Jordan's Charlotte Bobcats (15 1/2) to be a player in the free-agent market. This season, the team is too young to be a factor and will take its lumps, but we're reluctant to look "under" with a win hurdle so low. We'd rather pass at Time Warner Cable Arena.

CENTRAL DIVISION: Top recommendations...Rip Hamilton's departure means the last remaining links to title team of 2003-04 for the Detroit Pistons (20 1/2) are Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace, with the latter only a bit contributor these days after spending a few years away from Auburn Hills. But sources believe the Pistons will respond better to underrated new HC Lawrence Frank than they did headstrong John Kuester, who spent too much time feuding with players (Hamilton being one of them). If Kentucky rookie G Brandon Knight makes immediate contributions, the Pistons will not be pushovers. Look "over" at The Palace...Will they or won't they? We're talking about the Chicago Bulls (46 1/2), who have been rumored to be involved in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. But we're not sure the Bulls need Howard; they're already formidable. Derrick Rose is happy after a big contract extension, newly-signed Rip Hamilton could be a big bonus by adding needed outside shooting to the mix, and, like the Heat, there is much stability on the roster. "Over" at United Center...Some believe the Milwaukee Bucks (30 1/2) might be ready for a breakthrough. We're not so sure, with Andrew Bogut oft-injured the past couple of years, and with the addition of noted antagonist Stephen Jackson threatening to disrupt team chemistry as he tries to co-exist with shoot-first G Brandon Jennings. At least the Bucks' mascot Bango is cool. It's an "under" for us at Bradley Center.

Others...The Indiana Pacers (36 1/2) are being projected by some as a team to watch, especially with the addition of frontliner David West from New Orleans. But the Pacers' 37 wins last year in an 82-game slate projects to just 29.7 wins in this year's reduced schedule; is West worth that much of an upgrade? Maybe, but we're not sure, so we'll just pass instead at Conseco Fieldhouse... We'll give this to the Cleveland Cavaliers (16 1/2); they played their tails off for Byron Scott in an extremely difficult 2010-11 campaign that often resembled the Cavs' expansion team with Walt Wesley, Bingo Smith, McCoy McLemore, and Luther Rackley forty years earlier at the old, drafty Cleveland Arena. The good news is that top draft pick Kyrie Irving from Duke can only enhance the explosiveness quotient, which needed a boost. Safe to say the Cavs will be a little better than last year, but we're not sure we want to get too excited. It's a pass for us at "The Q" in another dark post-LeBron season by Lake Erie.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24911 Followers:33
12/25/2011 09:47 AM

House up for sale: Heat waive guard

Miami, FL (Sports Network) - The Miami Heat waived guard Eddie House on Saturday.

House was the final cut for the Heat prior to Sunday's regular season opener against the Mavericks.

The 6-foot-1 sharpshooter signed a two-year deal with Miami prior to the 2010-11 campaign, and went on to average 6.5 points while hitting 39 percent from three-point range.

House, 33, has played for nine NBA teams after being selected by the Heat in the second round of the 2000 draft.

He won an NBA title with the Celtics in 2008.

The decision to waive House means rookies Terrel Harris and Mickell Gladness, as well as the oft-injured Eddy Curry, have made the Heat roster.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24911 Followers:33
12/25/2011 09:49 AM

2011-12 Predictions: Durant, Thunder ready to take a big step

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Politics is all about ideology these days and it seems like the average politician doesn't understand there is more than one way to look at a given situation.

That my way or the highway approach that dots both sides of the aisle in Washington flies in the face of common sense. After all, more often than not, there is more than one way to solve a problem.

In the NBA there are two schools of thought when looking over a condensed 66- game, lockout fueled schedule that is very heavy on back-to-back games and occasionally even features some back-to-back-to-backs.

In my mind, any time you play five times a week, it's going to favor the young legs and not a thirtysomething that's been through the wars time and time again.

Others assume lopping 16 games off the sked and the 560-to-600 minutes of wear and tear that goes along with it will help the older players like Kevin Garnett or Tim Duncan, theoretically making them fresher for a possible postseason run.

Whatever you believe, one thing is certain -- coaching is going to be more important than ever this season.

How is Doc Rivers going to handle Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in Beantown? How many minutes will Popovich feel comfortable giving Duncan if he sees a back-to-back looming?

Already Doug Collins in Philly, who has a rather young team, has indicated that anyone who isn't "right" will sit when the team practices.

Getting to the finish line this season isn't just about the playoffs -- it's all about postseason health. A .600 winning percentage might be an admirable goal but so is sacrificing a few wins and perhaps a spot or two in the seeding if that means your veterans haven't had to start their own MASH unit.


The development of Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City likely means the Thunder will make a serious push for their first title in OKC.
Right now a mini-offseason is slowly fading to the rear-view mirror and the light of real basketball is finally shining at the end of the tunnel, with the locomotive bearing down.

The Association kicks off for real on Christmas Day with a five-game slate headlined by a rematch of the NBA Finals with the Heat and LeBron James visiting Dirk Nowitzki and the defending world champion Dallas Mavericks.

The power players haven't shifted all that much with Miami again playing the role of favorites and Dallas expected back as a serious contender. Last year's two top teams in the regular season, Chicago and San Antonio remain part of the championship conversation while the continued development of Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City likely means the Thunder will make a serious push for their first title in OKC.

If you are looking for improvement, start in New York where the Knicks and their impressive front line of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler will attempt to join the heavyweights in the East.

As for the personal hardware. I see big things on the horizon for Cavs rookie Kyrie Irving and you can look for Durant to be the thorn in a certain Rose during the race for the NBA's Most Valuable Player award.

In deference to Denny Green, I'm not ready to "crown" anyone just yet but gazing into one's crystal ball before things start is almost a necessary evil.

So, here goes nothing.

A look at the 2011-12 NBA season...

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. Chicago (Central Division champion)
2. Miami (Southeast)
3. Boston (Atlantic)
4. New York
5. Orlando
6. Indiana
7. Atlanta
8. Philadelphia

EAST CHAMPION: Chicago

If Rip Hamilton has anything left in the tank Chicago filled its biggest need while Miami has largely stayed stagnant around the Big Three. Of course, for as much criticism James received for disappearing late in the NBA Finals last season, let's remember that he was brilliant in the postseason up until that point.

It was the Bulls and Rose that were a disappointment out of the box, letting a flawed Indiana team hang around in most games and struggling with Jeff Teague and Atlanta before finally getting blitzed by the Heat. So, while everyone talks about James needing to step up when it counts, the same is true for Rose and Chicago.

That said, with Hamilton on board, and three defensive stoppers in the frontcourt, Joakim Noah, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson, the Bulls are by far the most balanced team in the East.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1. Oklahoma City (Northwest)
2. Dallas (Southwest)
3. San Antonio
4. LA Clippers (Pacific)
5. Memphis
6. LA Lakers
7. Portland
8. Denver

WEST CHAMPION: Oklahoma City

Expect most of the conventional powers in the Western Conference to take a step back this season with the Lakers looking especially vulnerable. The Lakers have a new coach and no Lamar Odom. Meanwhile, personal problems, injuries and Father Time seem to be stalking Kobe Bryant. That has many wondering, including yours truly, if the Lakers are even the best team in Hollywood right now.

Meanwhile, the reigning world champion Mavericks seems to have stepped 'Back to the Future by bringing in Odom and high-scoring swingman Vince Carter. Remember this is a club that often won 50-plus games and came up short in the postseason until they acquired a few tough-minded defensive players like Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson. On paper the Mavs traded the defense that got them over the hump for more firepower, a scenario that's likely to result in an all too familiar denouement in the Metroplex -- an excellent regular season team that doesn't have the mettle to navigate the treacherous postseason waters.

In South Texas many prognosticators envision an aging club on the decline when talking about the 2011-12 version of the Spurs. That might be a little harsh since San Antonio is coming off a Western Conference-best 61-21 season. But, the window is certainly closing on the Spurs' chances to win another crown in the Tim Duncan-era. To do so the club must find ways to integrate some new pieces alongside their established All-Star veterans.

That leaves Durant and the Thunder, who sport the best finishing five in the business thanks to the ascending James Harden. If Russell Westbrook can temper the turnovers and Kendrick Perkins stays in shape throughout the season, OKC is ready to get over the hump.

NBA FINALS CHAMPION: Oklahoma City

You look to finishers in the finals. Sure, James is a better all-around basketball player than Nowitzki but the German star proved to be the best closer west of Mariano Rivera back in June and the Mavs are champs. Same will hold true this year when the Bulls meet the Thunder. You can certainly make a solid argument that the reigning MVP Rose is a better player but who do you want to give the dagger to in the final minutes of a close contest, a Rose or a Durant-ula?

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER - Durant, Oklahoma City

Rose took the award from James last season and Bryant is slipping a bit making things more interesting. "The King" is always the favorite but voters like variety, giving Durant a leg up this year. Don't sleep on Blake Griffin either now that Chris Paul will be feeding him on a daily basis.

Honorable Mention: James, Miami; Rose, Chicago; Griffin, LA Clippers; Dwight Howard, Orlando.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Kyrie Irving, Cleveland

This award is usually all about opportunity and no freshman should get more minutes than Irving, who will be handed the keys to the Cavs franchise.

Honorable Mention: Ricky Rubio, Minnesota; Derrick Williams, Minnesota

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Luc Mbah a Moute, Milwaukee

Make no mistake, Howard is going to win it again since the voters seem enamored by blocked shots and intimidating interior defense, something that certainly describes Superman. However, I prefer a lock-down perimeter defender for this award and no one is better than Mbah a Moute, a versatile guy that can check a shooting guard as well as a power forward.

Honorable Mention: Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia; Tony Allen, Memphis; Chandler, New York.

SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR - Jason Terry, Dallas

It's the usual suspects here, although some have new addresses. San Antonio's Manu Ginobili, Odom, Portland's Jamal Crawford and Terry are all possible winners but I suspect Ginobili and Odom could spend too much time in their respective starting lineups. Rick Carlisle loves Terry's offense off the bench and will keep him there.

Honorable Mention: Ginobili, San Antonio; Odom, Dallas; Crawford, Portland; Harden, Oklahoma City; Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER - Harden, Oklahoma City

Harden really came on in the 2011 playoffs as both a facilitator and scorer. His presence on the floor next to Durant and Westbrook makes OKC as tough an out that there is in basketball these days. A trio of emerging point guards should also be in the mix. Washington's dynamic John Wall, Philly's steady Jrue Holiday and undersized Nuggets' blur Ty Lawson.

Honorable Mention: Wall, Washington; Holiday, Philadelphia; Eric Gordon, New Orleans; Lawson, Denver.

COACH OF THE YEAR - Vinny Del Negro, LA Clippers.

The former point guard is rarely mentioned when people talk about the NBA's best coaches but the Clippers have been the league's laughing stock for so long that this expected turnaround will be big news across the country on a daily basis.

Honorable Mention: Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City; Frank Vogel, Indiana.

ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR - Mike Budenholzer, San Antonio

You might as well make this the Budenholzer achievement award until this guy gets a head coaching gig. The Spurs assistant has been ready to be an NBA head coach for at least three years now and is the master of "last two-minutes" edit. Budenholzer got his start as a video editor and is astute at pointing out the oppositions's deficiencies.

Honorable Mention: Michael Curry, Philadelphia, Mike Longabardi, Boston.

EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR: Neal Olshey, LA Clippers

Some might argue that David Stern is the one responsible for steering Paul to the Clippers but the team's VP of Basketball operations is sure to get the credit when the Clips take the Pacific Division crown.

Honorable Mention: Donn Nelson, Dallas

MOST UNDERRATED ACQUISITION: Brandon Bass, Boston

With Shaquille O'Neal gone and the aging Jermaine O'Neal as the only true center left on the roster, Rivers will need to mix and match minutes in the pivot, often going with the undersized and underrated ex-Magic forward.

Honorable Mention: Chandler, New York; Butler, LA Clippers.

MOST IMPROVED TEAM: LA Clippers

With Paul, Butler and Chauncey Billups joining Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in L.A., it would be a major surprise if the Clippers didn't challenge for a top- four seed out West.

Honorable Mention: Indiana, Milwaukee

BEST INTERNATIONAL PLAYER: Nowitzki, Dallas

Nowitzki was unquestionably the best player in the postseason last year and swiped the mantle of best closer as well. His rainbow fadeaway is unstoppable at times and made Charles Barkley gush "Nobody can guard that guy." His coach, Rick Carlisle, even called him one of the 10 greatest players ever. With his terrific shooting range and basketball smarts, the bread and butter of Nowitzki's game has always been the ability to use his 7-foot, 245-pound frame to overmatch defenders. Never a top-tier on-ball defender. Nowitzki has also developed into a solid help defender and is much tougher these days.

Honorable Mention: Pau Gasol, LA Lakers; Ginobili, San Antonio.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24911 Followers:33
12/25/2011 09:53 AM

2011-12 New York Knicks Preview

(Sports Network) - After seven long years, the New York Knicks returned to the postseason last year thanks of course to the offseason signing of Amare Stoudemire and the in-season deal that brought them Carmelo Anthony.

However, everyone in New York knew those two would not be enough and it showed in the playoffs, as the Knicks were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs following a 42-40 campaign, their first winning season since 2000-01.

The thought was that even with those moves the Knicks were still a year away since everyone assumed they would make a strong push for point guard Chris Paul next summer.

The Knicks, though, never thought that was a feasible plan and instead shifted gears, going after the best free agent available this year in center Tyson Chandler and landing the big man with a four-year, $58 million deal.

"I think for us, the sky's the limit," Anthony said. "I think the organization did a great job of just building a very unique front court. We're ready to take on the challenges that are to come. Line 'em up. We're ready to play."

Chandler instantly gives the Knicks a defensive presence in the middle and will only make Stoudemire better with him being able to move back to his normal power forward position.

The Knicks now have their "Big Three" are ready for a serious run at an Eastern Conference crown.

2010-11 Results: 42-40, second in Atlantic. Lost in East quarterfinals to Boston.

ADDITIONS: C Tyson Chandler, G Mike Bibby, G Baron Davis , G Iman Shumpert, PF/C Josh Harrelson.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE:

PG- Toney Douglas SG- Landry Fields SF- Carmelo Anthony PF- Amare Stoudemire C- Tyson Chandler

KEY RESERVES: G Iman Shumpert, C/F Jared Jeffries, C Jerome Jordan, F Bill Walker, G Mike Bibby, G Baron Davis.


FRONTCOURT: With the addition of Chandler there might not be a better front court in the NBA than he, Stoudemire and Anthony.

The Knicks needed not only a center, but one who would be disruptive in the middle and give them that defensive presence they so sorely needed.

"Right now, if it was all done with paper, I would say we were the best," Chandler said of the Knicks' front line. "But the game's not played on paper. We got a lot of work to do."

The 29-year-old Chandler was just that last season and played an integral role in the Dallas Mavericks NBA championship last season, averaging 10.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

"I just think the future of the team, being able to play alongside Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and the young talent we have, I feel like it puts us contention over the next four or five years," Chandler said.

The Anthony saga seemed to drag on last season, but finally came to an end in mid-February when he was dealt to New York from Denver as part of a three- team, 13-player deal. Anthony, who averaged 26.3 points in 27 games for the Knicks, also appears to be in the best shape of his life following an offseason that saw him undergo both elbow and knee surgery, two procedures he has been putting off for years.

Mike D'Antoni has also said that a lot of the offense will run through Anthony, who will play more of the role of point forward this season. There's also been some question whether or not Anthony and Stoudemire can co-exist together, as the team was a mere 14-18, including the playoffs, following the deal.

"There's nothing major that we have to change," Anthony said. "It's just a matter of getting used to playing with one another. But we're good man. I don't understand where that came from, that we can't play together. But Amare will be good, I'll be good."

Nobody will benefit from the addition of Chandler more than Stoudemire, who more often than not last season was forced to play out of position without a true center in the lineup. The wear and tear on his body showed in the playoffs, as a back injury made him a non-factor in the series against the Celtics.

Stoudemire, though, will be back at his usual power forward position this season and will look to improve on an otherwise impressive first season in New York that saw him score 25.3 points to go along with 8.2 boards-per-game.


BACKCOURT: To create the cap room to sign Chandler, the Knicks used the amnesty provision in the new collective bargaining agreement to shed Chauncey Billups' contract meaning they have a huge void at the point.

Toney Douglas will likely start the season as the Knicks' starter, but once newly-signed Baron Davis is healthy enough to play he'll likely slot in there. Douglas, meanwhile, is probably more suited to be combo-guard off the bench.

"At the end of the day, it'll show on the court," Douglas said. "That's how I am. My play will speak for itself."

Like Billups, Davis was amnestied by Cleveland, but has some back problems that some say could keep him out of action for two months. Davis played in 43 games for the Los Angeles Clippers last season before being dealt to the Cavs at the trade deadline. In 58 total contests last year, Davis averaged 13.1 points, 6.7 assists and 2.7 rebounds.

Landry Fields was an All-NBA Rookie Teamer a year ago and will assume the starting shooting guard role this year. Fields, though, seemed to struggle after Anthony was acquired. Most feel, however, that one had nothing to do with the other and that the second round pick just simply ran out of steam late in the season.


BENCH: New York's bench should be improved after it was left paper thin following the Anthony deal last season. Rookie Iman Shumpert has already drawn rave reviews, while centers Jared Jeffries and Jerome Jordan, as well as veterans Bill Walker and Mike Bibby all figure to crack D'Antoni's rotation.

Shumpert, the 17th overall pick in last June's draft, is a defensive specialist that can play almost anywhere on the court. Some have speculated that it will be he and not Davis who eventually handles the point for this team.

Before the Chandler acquisition Jeffries had been slated to be the team's center. Say what you will about him, but he did give the Knicks somewhat of a defensive presence down the stretch last season.

Jordan is a wild card after playing overseas the past few years. The Knicks, though, are reportedly high on him.

Bibby, meanwhile, has seen better days, but he gives the Knicks a veteran to help Douglas along the way. Where he fits on this team once Davis gets healthy, though, remains to be seen.


COACHING: D'Antoni is what he is, a great offensive mind that has perfected the SSOL (seven-seconds-or-less) offensive strategy. To win in this league you must play defense, though. Either he has realized that or was instructed by higher-ups at MSG to improve upon the team's defense because they hired Mike Woodson for just that reason. With expectations running so high, this being the final year of his contract and Phil Jackson always lurking in the wings, this could be a make-or-break season with regards to D'Antoni's future in New York.

"As a player, you play well and things work out, the same as a coach," D'Antoni said. "You play well and things will work out. I'm just happy to be able to coach these guys. I really think we have some terrific things ahead of us.


OUTLOOK: There is no question, the Knicks are back. A lot of people like them to win the Atlantic Division this season given the truncated schedule and the toll it may take on an aging Boston Celtics team. But, then again the Knicks have similar concerns with Stoudemire and to a lesser extent Davis. Either way this is a playoff team. How far they go, though, may very well be determined by just how much they buy into Woodson's defensive schemes. Chandler wasn't brought here for his looks, he was here to play defense and part of that entails not only Stoudemire and Anthony to do the same, even if it means a little less on the offensive end for both. If they all commit, there is no telling just how far this team can go.

"It might be a bumpy ride, it might be a smooth ride," Anthony said. "It depends on what road we take."

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24911 Followers:33
12/25/2011 09:55 AM

2011-12 Boston Celtics Preview

(Sports Network) - It's all about windows in Beantown these days.

Four years removed from the franchise's last NBA title, the clock is ticking on this version of the Celtics. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are all on the downsides of brilliant careers and the front office has seemingly soured on its one ascending star, Rajon Rondo.

Concerned with reported "maturity" issues, the C's shopped Rondo before training camp in the hopes of luring Chris Paul to town, a move that was stillborn when the All-Star, who eventually landed in LA with the Clippers, made it clear he had no intentions of signing a long-term extension with the Celtics.

Boston's concerns with Rondo were elevated after an incident between Games 2 and 3 against Miami in the playoffs last spring. According to multiple sources, Rondo's errors were being discussed in a team meeting when he lost it, criticizing teammates before throwing a bottle that shattered a video screen.

Those kinds of temperament concerns have hounded Rondo since his days at Kentucky and have convinced the Celtics he can not lead, not exactly a comforting thought to have about your point guard, even one as talented as Rondo.

Problems aside, the Celtics certainly have enough talent to dominate a slowly improving Atlantic Division but a condensed 66-game schedule is not going to do the legs of aging players any favors.

Doc Rivers' ability to navigate the regular season and keep his veterans fresh for one last run will be the key in helping Boston keep its "window" ajar for one more season.


2010-11 Results: 56-26, first in Atlantic; lost to Miami in East semifinals.

ADDITIONS: PF/C Brandon Bass, G Keyon Dooling, PF Chris Wilcox, PF JaJuan Johnson, G E'Twaun Moore


PROJECTED STARTING FIVE:

PG- Rajon Rondo SG- Ray Allen SF- Paul Pierce PF- Kevin Garnett C- Jermaine O'Neal

KEY RESERVES: F Jeff Green, F Brandon Bass, G Marquis Daniels, G Keyon Dooling, G Avery Bradley


FRONTCOURT: Garnett, the NBA's resident bully, is one of the best power forwards of all-time and remains an incredibly unselfish teammate. That said, he's clearly on the downside of a spectacular career and Rivers will have to spell the "The Big Ticket" early and perhaps often to keep his balky knees healthy for a playoff run. Garnett is still an efficient player and has enough left in his bag of tricks to make things difficult for any opponent.

Pierce remains the Celtics' closer and is one of the NBA's best pure finishers. The 2008 NBA Finals MVP possesses a high basketball IQ, incredible savvy on the floor and the type of body control you simply can't teach. Pierce is also a very underrated defender.

With Shaquille O'Neal retired, Jermaine O'Neal is the only legitimate center left on the roster. A former All-Star, O'Neal has little left but Rivers will need 20 minutes or so from the big man and will have to mix and match minutes in the pivot, often going undersized with underrated ex-Magic forward Brandon Bass.


BACKCOURT: The "Boston Three Party" really became a fabulous foursome a few years ago when Rondo developed. For better or worse it's Rondo that is now the straw that stirs the drink in "The Town" these days. One of the game's quickest quarterbacks, Rondo is a triple-double threat despite lacking a top- tier, consistent jumper. He's also extremely tough and his ability to get on the boards really shows up against most guards. The book on Rondo remains simple, sag off him and make him take that suspect jumper. It also remains to be seen how he handles the fact that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was shopping him so publicly.

Allen is still one of the finest pure shooters in the game and can come off the screen better than anyone since Reggie Miller. Ray-Ray has a lightning- quick trigger and is not afraid to take the big shot. In fact, Allen's marksmanship can take over any game when he heats up. Although aging, the UConn product is also an underrated defender.


BENCH: Rivers thought he would have a healthy mix of youth and experience on his bench but that was blown up when forward Jeff Green was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm a week before the season was scheduled to start.

Green never fit in after being acquired from Oklahoma City at the trade deadline last season for the well-liked Kendrick Perkins but big things were expected this time around. He is a big-time talent that could have helped both offensively and with his perimeter defense.

Now the former first round pick is set for surgery on Jan. 9 and will miss the entire season. The aneurysm -- which occurs when a section of the aorta weakens and expands, putting it at risk of rupturing -- was first detected during a physical earlier in December. Doctors recommended surgery after Green underwent additional tests and the club has said the procedure "should completely repair" the condition.

"While we are saddened that Jeff will not be able to play this season, the most important thing is his health, and we were fortunate to have access to an amazing team of specialists to evaluate Jeff's case," said Ainge. "The entire Celtics family supports Jeff during this difficult time in his career."

Veterans Sasha Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels could get some of Green's minutes but are pale comparisons. Pavlovic can shoot the ball and gives energy on defense but offers little else while Daniels can produce in limited minutes but is too banged-up to be counted on consistently.

Keyon Dooling, an 11-year vet, can handle both guard positions but has been penciled in as Rondo's backup at the point. A wild card in the mix is second- year guard Avery Bradley. Ainge is really high on Bradley, the 19th overall pick in the 2010 draft, and thinks the youngster can offer much needed youth and athleticism.

"We just gotta give him a chance," said Ainge. "He needs game action. You gotta give him a chance to play. But, at the same time, just with his athleticism alone, and his energy defensively, he'll help us. He'll make mistakes, but he'll bring something to the table as well that we don't have."

Rookie JaJuan Johnson will also be eased into things. The 6-foot-10 Johnson was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year after averaging 20.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game at Purdue in 2010-11.


COACHING: You can't help being impressed by Rivers when you are around him. The former point guard has done a wonderful job melding the egos of three superstars and managing personalities for the most part, perhaps the most important job of any NBA coach. Losing, a lead assistant for the second straight year (Tom Thibodeau and Lawrence Frank) is the kind of thing that will eventually start hurting, however. Meanwhile, Ainge threw a roadblock in front of Rivers with his handling of the Rondo situation.


OUTLOOK: The Celtics are still the class of the Atlantic but have clearly fallen a step behind both Miami and Chicago in the East. Health, stamina and chemistry will be the pressing issues for this experienced club in its quest for another title.

"I still think Boston is a team that could really benefit from having a short season because of the veteran status of their roster," NBA TV analyst Greg Anthony said. "The big advantage Boston is going to have is their core group of guys have gone through a lockout before. And I think Doc Rivers can do a really good job of resting his guys over the course of the regular season to prepare for the postseason."

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24911 Followers:33
12/25/2011 09:58 AM

2011-12 Miami Heat Preview

(Sports Network) - "The King" took his talents to South Beach in 2010-11, but the Larry O'Brien Trophy felt North Texas would be a better place to take up residency.

With one statement on an ill-conceived ESPN hour-long vehicle called "The Decision," LeBron James went from being one of the most loved sports figures in this country to one of the most reviled. In fact, comedian and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel Tweeted the night the Dallas Mavericks disposed of James' Heat to win the franchise's first NBA title: "70 years after WW2, LeBron James has America rooting for the German. Congratulations."

Ouch!

Turns out James didn't like all the negative attention but let's face it the superstar had plenty of opportunities to hush his critics, the last coming during Game 6 of the NBA Finals when he disappeared in the fourth quarter as Dirk and the Mavericks closed out the Heat, 4-2.

For whatever reason James morphed into a shrinking violet in the final frame of Game 4 in Dallas and never recovered. The rabbit ears went up and his game went down.

The "NBA insiders" who made getting close to James during the "Summer of LeBron" a cottage industry say he is well aware of all the "negativity" surrounding him these days and doesn't like it.

"I think LeBron is going to get booed more than ever before," NBA TV analyst Chris Webber said. "He doesn't have to accept the villain role, but that's who he is. Hopefully, he knows it's not personal, it's basketball."

Whether its' personal or just basketball James better get used to the microscope and the pressure. His Heat have been tabbed by most as the favorites to repeat as Eastern Conference champs and capture the King's first NBA title.

But James will finally have to play his best when it counts the most. In fact, winning is the only way for LBJ to fix his fractured reputation.

2010-11 Results: 58-24, first in Southeast; Lost in NBA Finals to Dallas.

ADDITIONS: F Shane Battier, C Eddy Curry, G Norris Cole

PG- Mario Chalmers SG- Dwyane Wade SF- LeBron James PF- Chris Bosh C- Joel Anthony

KEY RESERVES: F Shane Battier, F Udonis Haslem, C Eddy Curry, G Mike Miller, G Eddie House, F James Jones


FRONTCOURT: James had reestablished himself as the best player during last year's postseason until his finals meltdown. An unbelievable athlete with a freakish combination of strength, speed and size, James is virtually unstoppable especially when the jumper is falling. His willingness to check players like Derrick Rose and Lou Williams down the stretch of games showed maturity and is something that never happened in Cleveland. LeBron has always had the lateral movement and length to guard any perimeter player in the NBA. A championship is the only thing separating James from entering the conversation for the mythical "best of all time" title.

Bosh remains one of the best offensive power forwards in the game and a plus- rebounder but he could show a little more toughness on the defensive end. That said, the former Toronto All-Star is by far the best third-option in basketball. He can, however, wilt against nasty players that crave contact, something that can be magnified since he will be forced to move over and play some minutes in the pivot.

The starting center figures to be the under-sized Joel Anthony, a raw, athletic player that is very long. He's a natural shot-blocker that relies on his length and energy to create problems on defense and the glass.

"It's not easy to do what we're trying to do," Bosh said of potentially playing undersized in the middle, "but you're going to be asked to do things that aren't necessarily easy.

"I believe we have enough of what it takes right now. We just have to make sure we take care of our bodies and accept the challenge every night. We may be a little bit smaller, but we're more athletic, so we try to use the motto that speed kills and just work it to our advantage."


BACKCOURT: Dwyane Wade, the NBA Finals MVP in 2006 and a former scoring champion, remains an athletic marvel and one of the league's best finishers around the rim. He can also handle the playmaking role, something his transition and penetration skills are tailor-made for. He also remains the team's best pure closer in tight games.

Mario Chalmers, offers speed, quickness and pesky defense at point guard but is an inconsistent player and streaky shooter that will turn it over and take bad shots on occasion.

"We've always viewed him as a talented, productive, young point guard. He's really grown," coach Erik Spoelstra said.


BENCH: An already deep bench was bolstered by the addition of defensive stalwart Shane Battier, rookie Norris Cole and center Eddy Curry. The Heat also have veteran big men Udonis Haslem and Juwan Howard and a trio of shooters in Mike Miller, Eddie House and James Jones.

The veteran Battier is still a top-tier wing defender that craves doing the dirty work, something that will certainly be welcomed in South Beach. Offensively, expect Battier to station himself on the weakside to take advantage of all the double teams the Heat's Big Three gets.

Haslem, a good rebounder with a solid mid-range jumper, missed most of last season after tearing a tendon in his left foot in November. He was back late in the playoffs and brought a certain toughness and energy to the Heat as well as his rock-solid, mid-range jumper. The underrated big man is also a steady defender and capable rebounder.

The sharp-shooting Miller, who struggled with injuries to both his thumbs last season, was a candidate for amnesty but Miami felt they could still benefit from his weak-side presence. Jones and Eddie House can also stretch the floor for Spoelstra at times while Howard can provide situational minutes up front.

Counting on Curry is probably not a wise idea, however. The oft-injured, usually out of shape big man is a walking, talking tease.


COACHING: Spoelstra, a Pat Riley disciple, first joined the Heat in 1995 as the team's video coordinator and moved up from there. He helped the team bounce back from an ugly 15-67 mark in 2007-08 and, like Riley, preaches defense and conditioning.


OUTLOOK: This could be a make-or-break season for "Miami Thrice." Much like the 2010-11 campaign anything less than a championship will be considered a failure for the trio of James, Wade and Bosh.

That said, remember that the Heat were up 2-1 over Dallas in the finals and leading by nine points in Game 4 before James was stricken with his puzzling crisis of confidence. As long as he, Wade and Bosh are on the floor, this team is going to be a serious title contender year in and year out.

"If we don't win a championship, yes, it's a bust year. Last year was a bust year," Wade said.

Getting by with Anthony and Bosh in the middle and figuring out why James shrinks in big-time situations could be the final pieces of the championship puzzle.

"We have another shot at it this year. And that's what we're committed to, is giving ourselves another shot there, at the end," Spoelstra added. "Mentally our guys are ready, they've had enough time to think about it."

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: