Tag: wagering on NBA
For a while now, there has been an insistence from the press and from some of the top players involved in the argument to decide once and for all who is the best player ever in the game of basketball. It seems to me that time and proximity might give us today a sense of improvement, if you will, that evolves with time. It is hard for me to say whether the basketball that is played today is better than that which was played in the 80’s, or the 70’s. On the one hand, the game is now faster, more physical, if you will, however, it seems that it is also plagued with the acrobatic and the cinematic approach that the whole idea of the highlight reel has explored over the last two and a half decades. The usual suspects for the title now days are Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James: as arbitrary as that might be, these are the three players will discuss today.
The big issue here is that when you make a claim such as the best player ever, you without a doubt have to ask who is making the call. What qualifies this individual to make that assessment, and ultimately, that answer is what´s going to validate or at least give some sort of respect to whoever is uttering that call. Forget about the press, this is about people in the inside, in the know. And perhaps that’s where a character such as Phil Jackson kicks in. Regardless of whether you like him or not, Jackson is sort of a legend on his own. He has earned 11 NBA titles as the head coach of two extremely successful franchises. Jackson rose into prominence with the Chicago Bullls in the 1990’s and followed it up with a phenomenal run with the LA Lakers in the following decade.
Now, in a recent interview, a reporter asked Jackson who would star in his dream team, and to the surprise of many, Jackson, who has coached both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, started his team with a player who is not on the list. “In my estimation, the guy that has to be there would be Bill Russell. He has won 11 championships as a player,” Jackson said in an interview with a very famous North American magazine. “That’s really the idea of what excellence is, when you win championships.” And that argument befits him quite well, as Jackson has also won 11 titles. Russell dominated the league and was a key part of the Boston Celtics rise into fame in the 1950-60’s. Russell was a five-time Most Valuable Player and 12-time All-Star during his iconic 13-year career.
As for the other three guys mentioned here, I sort of like what the very experienced NBA Trainer, Tim Grover, had to say about this. “Michael Jordan was six-for-six in Finals, never lost a Finals, never needed a Game 7 to do that,” Grover said. “Just by saying that alone, that puts him in a category I don’t think anybody else is in, except maybe a Bill Russell. Other than that, I don’t know if you can really put [Jordan] in the same category [with anybody]. I think what [James] should do, instead of worrying about where Mike was at, he should be trying to get to the accolades, get to the Finals, as many times as Kobe had…” I would agree to that.
The Pacers are a low-key, defense-based team that lacks the shine and luster of other bigger and more economically savvy teams in the league. They do not have huge stars, nor players with fantastic endorsement. Sure enough, they do have a very loyal fan base, but other than that, the Pacers are not one of those teams we usually associate with the magic that goes on the NBA. Sure they don’t have players in the All-Star caliber, but heck, with their team-oriented play, their ability to rely heavily on a fortress like defense, the Pacers are proving that despite no one really showing Indiana some love in the regular season, the Pacers are now on the Eastern Conference Finals. Ahead of them, they are going to have to play the defending champions, Miami Heat at South Beach on Wednesday on game 1 of the NBA conference semis.
It didn’t matter much that the Knicks had Carmelo Anthony on the starting five. Sure, Melo is one of the most prolific scorers in the regular season, and he even went far enough to say that if the Knicks needed 50-60 points from him to win the game, he would have to go out there and do it. Now, Anthony would go on to finish the night with an impressive 39 points and 7 assists, despite having to work around a tight defense system. It was not enough and despite a huge effort from New York in the third quarter, the Pacers held their ground and took a 106-99 win at home over the Knicks to earn the Pacers their first trip to the Conference finals since 2004. Oh yeah, with a solid defense, this team is looking as strong as the franchise has looked in the last decade, and hopefully they will have what it takes to give LeBron James and the Heat a good run for their money.
Shooting guard Lance Stephenson guided the Pacers efforts with 25 points and 10 rebounds. “I just didn’t want to go back to New York and play Game 7,” Stephenson said in the postgame press conference. “Just get it done with now and I’d do whatever it takes to do that today. It showed tonight.” Indiana also got some production from their shooting forward Paul George who had 23 points and 21 points and 12 rebounds from their center Roy Hibbert to take the series against the New York Knicks by 4-2. The Pacers got only 8 points from the bench, in what was a very intense and long game for the starters. Now, this is a little something that head coach Frank Voegel is going to have to take into account when going against the Heat.
As of press time, the Heat has an -8 point advantage on the spread for game one of the series against the Pacers at South Beach. The game will kick off at 8pm Eastern Time. No money line has been set yet and until Monday early morning are we going to be able to report on the series price for the Eastern Conference Finals. Sure it’s going to take at least double of what they put on the court to beat the Knicks to step over the Heat. But hey, these guys are young, motivated and have nothing to lose. That’s one heck of a combination. Let´s see what they can bring to the equation down the stretch.
In a best of seven game series all it takes is for one of the contenders to win 4 games. The Pacers were playing at the Madison Square Garden, going on against a team that was against the ropes. Let´s consider that down 3-1 for the series the Knicks were 0-12 in playoffs games in that same scenario. This time around, however, the Knicks played their home court advantage card right, and behind the offensive prowess of their star Carmelo Anthony, and his 28 points and 6 rebounds, they managed to take a 85-75 win at home. It was not a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination, truth be said, the injured and somewhat shorthanded Pacers had to deal with a couple of absentees and some foul trouble. But they managed to cope well, despite not closing the series in game 5. The Knicks are not playing better, that´s clear. But they are playing harder, and under these circumstances, that might be just what they need to keep on winning.
Now, next game will be played on Saturday at Indiana, and the Knicks are going to have to do all they can to win this one on the road. If they do managed to return from a 3-1 deficit, win on Saturday and return the series to the Madison Squre Garden on Monday for game seven, and beat the Pacers once again, they would become only the 9th team in NBA history to come back from such a deficit. Nnow, in order to get that result, the Knicks will have to rely heavily on a brilliant performance from their bench. Last night the Knicks got plenty of production from their reserves J.R. Smith and Chris Copeland whom each had 13 points.
The Knicks showed some grit, plenty of courage to make up for some not too good basketball skills. It didn’t matter much, right now they will go ahead and take a win however they may. “I was totally impressed because we met the challenge,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said to the press in the postgame conference. “I think as a coach you come into games like this and you want to see who’s going to step up and make plays, and I thought we did that tonight. We were the better team in terms of doing that.”
The Pacers got plenty of production from their starts. Paul George would go on to finish the night with 23 points, six rebounds and six assists. They had to cope with the absence of without point guard George Hill because of a concussion. Playing without their main play creator would cost the Pacers greatly. Without Hill, the playmaking was left to D.J. Agustin, who, to be fair, finished the night with 12 points but had no assists. The team as a whole had to share the ball a little too much and they ended up making 19 very costly turnovers. David West had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who are trying to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2004.
The Indiana Pacers stayed true to their game and won at home to take a 2-1 lead in the best of seven Eastern Conference semifinals. With a phenomenal performances from Roy Hibbert and Paul George, the Pacers took control of the game early on and never gave the Knicks a chance to even fight for it. Hibbert would go on to finish the night with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while George, although a little slow offensively, was a complete nightmare for the Knicks with his spectacular defense. George struggled to create offensive opportunities but still finished the game with 14 points. He was a bit shy of a triple-double as he would sing off the night with eight rebounds and eight assists. But it would be his defensive heroics that would ultimately give the Pacers and strategic advantage to secure a 82-71 win at home.
With this win, Indiana now has emerged from an embarrassing 26-point loss to New York in the Madison Square Garden last week and proved that the Knicks are going to have to bring forth something more than the return of the banged-up Amare Stoudemire to the court. In his return from injury, Stoudemire looked very rusty and was unable to give the Knicks an edge. He would finish the night making just 3-of-8 eight shots to finish the match with seven points and two rebounds. The Knicks star Carmelo Anthony never really had much space to do his magic. Still, he did what he could and scored 21 points. Not bad, but certainly not in par with his playoffs scoring average of 29.3 points per game.
The biggest issue here is that Melo went cold in the fourth quarter, when his team needed him most and finished with only two points and no baskets in the final 12 minutes. As if that was not enough he was held to 6 of 16 shooting from the floor. And yet, we have to acknowledge that this was in part because of the Pacers ferocious defense. J.R. Smith once again also had very little production. He went 4 of 12 and scored nine points. Still, as a whole, he is only 11 of 42 from the field and his shooting woes continue. The Knicks attempted only 3 three-pointers all night long and were held to their worst scoring game in this postseason.
It was clear from the start that the Pacers defense proved to be too much for the Knicks last night “Offensively, we just didn’t have anything,” said New York’s head coach Mike Woodson in the postgame press conference. “I thought defensively, we hung in there and did what we had had to do, but we just didn’t have any offensive pop and we have to figure that out.” For starters they have to find a way to get more open shots and how to fight a little better against the best rebounding team in the league. Indiana limited the Knicks to 35.2 percent shooting from the floor and forced 15 turnovers. And they had a 53-40 rebounding that ultimately gave the Pacers a 20-10 advantage in second chance points.