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Three Players to Watch (Boston Celtics)

The “Three Players to Watch” series is brought to you by the OuttaTownClowns, covering each of the league’s 30 teams providing you with insight on three guys that should demand your attention next season. As you can always expect at the OTC, not every player noted are a team’s top player, instead it may just be a player’s particular situation that’s worth following if you’re a die-hard NBA fan. 

1. Avery Bradley 

Last season proved to be a growing year for Bradley as he became a much more impactful piece to the Celtics puzzle. Provided with more playing time and trust from Head Coach Doc Rivers the Celtics combo guard turned some major weaknesses into some potential strengths this coming season. Having always been a great on-ball defender, Bradley improved his shooting stroke. In specific he showed a more consistent ability to hit the corner three ball and forced defenses to respect his off the dribble midrange game. It’s also worth noting that these are two improvements that “regular season” Rondo has yet to display. While there’s no debate Rondo is far and beyond the better ball handler, Avery is giving his Celtics coaching staff flexibility when it comes to using newly signed veteran Jason Terry. It’s likely Bradley will be given the head nod as the starting shooting guard, allowing Terry to continue to do what he does best as the sixth man. NBA fans should keep a close eye on Avery’s progress next year. He’s the league’s best on-ball defender when pressuring full court and to see him also add an offensive game is a joy to watch if you’re a fan of following player development.

2. Jared Sullinger

Sullinger couldn’t be in a better situation…

Dropping as low as Sullinger did in the draft was huge blessing in disguise for one of the best players college basketball had to offer last season. Getting in with the tradition of Celtics basketball is a perfect fit for the young power forward and being mentored by one of best power forward’s in league history won’t hurt him either. If he can avoid the injuries, Sullinger has a chance to provide a big impact in year one and will be counted upon to contribute on the offensive side of the floor. The Celtics are hoping that he can exceed the level of play of both Brandon Bass and former Celtic Leon Powe combined. Considering what the young big man did at the college level and in Orlando Summer League it looks as it that won’t be too hard to live up too as he begins his journey in the NBA.

3. Kris Joseph

Joseph will get his chance to be a contributor off the Celtics bench

Don’t sleep on this experienced college player who’s proven to be a winner at the college level. Yes, he didn’t have the most impressive college numbers, no he didn’t have the most impressive summer league, but as the current roster stands he will be counted upon to help fill some minutes while the aging Paul Pierce rests. Having a great support system around him in Pierce, Rondo, and Garnett can pay huge dividends in Joseph’s first year success. He definitely will get his chance to prove he not only belongs in the league, but also prove he can provide a positive impact on the team from day one.

 

The Thunder Roll On With Ibaka Extension

The summer months are coming to end. As a direct result the NBA world’s free agency buzz is slowly dying, which leads to many teams having advanced discussions with agents regarding contract extensions. On bigger level our world as a whole is currently facing with the ongoing monsoon season. The Oklahoma City Thunder agreeing upon a reported 4-year, $40+ million dollar extension with Serge Ibaka is the perfect compliment to both.

There’s certainly plenty of room for Harden to fit alongside Westbrook & Durant, but the luxury tax issues may say otherwise…

The Thunder have struck again, successfully locking up Ibaka alongside Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant for the team’s bright road ahead. While it’s safe to say the Thunder organization is in good shape for the next 3 to 4 years, one big issue remains in question: Will they have enough cap flexibility to also re-sign emerging guard James Harden as well?

For now the debate remains to whether or not it can be done, but in the meantime the Thunder have taken another giant step in the right direction. Deciding to extend Ibaka before Harden was a brilliant move and here are 3 reasons why:

1. Reggie Jackson:

One of the bigger, if not the biggest, mystery prospect was Jackson when the athletic, 3-year guard from Boston College entered his name in the 2011 NBA Draft. After suffering a knee injury in pre-draft process Jackson pulled out of his remaining scheduled workouts that left many team evaluators questioning his draft stock value. Having a ton of draft success momentum behind them (having previously drafted Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, and Harden) the Thunder tested their luck again hoping that Jackson would be the steal of the draft when they selected him 24th overall.

Receiving little playing time as a rookie this past season, Jackson only saw the floor in 45 games averaging 11.1 minutes per outing. In this small window of opportunity Jackson failed to impress scoring 3.1 ppg on just 32.1% shooting from the field. However, Jackson raised a ton of eyebrows with his play in the Orlando Summer League this past month. While his shooting percentage hasn’t improved drastically (41.2% FG) Jackson did display many improvements and his athleticism helped find himself on the nightly summer league highlight reels.

If Jackson can continue to show steady improvements and maturity in his game, he can certainly help the Thunder determine the value/priority of giving Harden a big payday. Having already locked up Westbrook long-term it’s not out of the question to consider a backcourt tandem of Jackson/Westbrook that helps the team avoid a luxury tax nightmare.

2. Perry Jones III:

A similar theme arises when examining the Thunder’s latest first round draft selection in Jones III. The Baylor product’s future as an NBA player included many question marks, which undoubtedly made him this year’s biggest mystery in the NBA Draft. Considered to be a potential top five talent, the Thunder considered Jones III a no-brainer when it came time for their 28th overall pick.

Although Jones’s summer league performances weren’t quite the results the Thunder were surely hoping for; the team definitely feels optimistic about his potential. If OKC is able to groom 6’11, 20 year-old power forward they may be willing to trade Kendrick Perkins which would enable them to start either Jones III or veteran Nick Collision at the power forward position and move Ibaka to the center spot. This particular trade scenario would significantly increase the team’s ability to resign Harden. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, but the idea of a starting line-up that possibly could consist of: Westbrook/Harden/Durant/Jones III/Ibaka is pretty scary. Talk about a high octane, up-tempo, run and gun game!

3.  Hollis Thompson:

It’s more than fair to call this one a long shot, but it’ll be interesting to follow the development of Thompson. While the junior Georgetown product went undrafted this past June, Thompson does deserve some consideration as a possible piece to the Thunder’s future. After all, we’re talking about a 6’8, 21 year-old swingman who shot 46.4% from the field, including 43% from downtown as the go-to player on his team in the very tough Big East conference. If there’s one undrafted swingmen that might have a chance to find similar success to that of Portland’s Wesley Matthews, it’s Thompson.

In closing, it’s important to keep in mind that in no way are these points big enough reasons to shrug off trying to resign James Harden. Rather these points just strengthen the fact that losing a key piece like Harden may not be the end of the world for the Thunder’s title chances for years to come. Making the Ibaka extension the first priority was the right call as the Thunder organization continues to roll and the team can hope the lightening can strike big with their young prospects mentioned above.

Ross Geiger’s Q & A with Rap Star Phreshy Duzit

Phreshy Duzit

The OuttaTownClowns are pleased to present Ross Geiger’s exclusive interview with Phreshy Duzit. Signed to Atlantic Records, this bright, young rapper out of Brooklyn is currently in the process of preparing to drop his debut album. Phreshy already owns and operates his own record label entitled “Self Made Celebrity” and dropped his highly anticipated mixtape, “No Assembly Required”, this past year. As his popularity continues to sky rocket, Phreshy has been featured in songs by mainstream artists such as Colby O’Donis, Trey Songz, and was recently in the studio with J. Cole.

Along with being one of the hottest young artists in the rap game, Phreshy Duzit is also an avid NBA fan. Ross caught up with Phreshy to talk NBA hoops as well as what the his future has in store. Check it out:

RG: What’s your favorite NBA team?

Phreshy: I was always a Sixers fan but as of lately I’ve been a fan of the Celtics.

RG: Being from New York (and maybe even a Knicks fan) what are your thoughts on Amare Stoudemire and the Knicks as whole this upcoming season? Will it be another disappointing season or is this Knicks team a borderline playoff team?

Phreshy: I think they’re slowly making the right moves to be a powerful team.  I think they’ll make the playoffs, it should be a good look for the city.

RG: Who’s your favorite player in the league and why?

Phreshy: Iverson has and will always be my favorite player, now that he’s taking time off I like Kevin Durant.

Brooklyn's Hottest Young Rapper

RG: What are your thoughts on the hype surrounding rookie sensation John Wall form his on the court skills to his own “John Wall” dance?

Phreshy: That dude’s incredible. Enough said. I just seen a little kid “John Wallin” on YouTube, so it must be the next best thing.

RG: In your opinion, who are the top 3 players in the league today?

Phreshy: Lebron, Kobe & D. Wade…. Not in any particular order though… Haha

RG: What’s your take on the whole LeBron James decision to join up with NBA stars in Miami?

Phreshy: I’m not mad at the decision, I’m just mad at everybody hoppin’ on the Miami bandwagon.

RG: Who are you predicting to win the NBA Championship?

Phreshy: Miami

RG: Being “Phresh” yourself, what team has the freshest jerseys?

Phreshy: Celtics. Classic

RG: Do you wear jerseys?

Phreshy: No longer wearing jerseys… That was when I was in Middle School.

RG: Ever considered writing a song with hopes to get it in an NBA video game?

Phreshy: Yea, definately.  You’ll hear some in next years video games.

RG: When does the debut album drop?

Phreshy: Single dropping this month. EP dropping in December and the Album will be set to release probably about 6 months after.

RG: Any basketball references in the album? If so, can you hook us up with one basketball-related punch line?

Phreshy: Get that EP, you’ll hear a couple!

RG: Well thanks for your time Phresh!

Phreshy: Appreciate it fam.

For more on Phreshy Duzit follow him on Twitter: @SMC_PHRESHY and be sure to check out his website: www.SelfMadeCelebrity.com

Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 Don’t Overlook the Small Names Team

The Buzzer Beatin' Follow Through by Lester Hudson

Lester Hudson, NBA Free Agent

After having a very impressive Las Vegas Summer League showing as a member of the Washington Wizards, Lester Hudson is on the verge of making another NBA roster this season. Averaging 11.2 points,  2.8 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per contest, Hudson made sure John Wall wasn’t the only impressive Wizards point guard. In fact, Hudson played a key role during the last stretches of close games. Wizards’ Summer League Head Coach Sam Cassell turned to both Wall and Hudson as the primary ball handlers with the game on the line. In the Wizards last summer league game, Hudson took over as the Wizards elected to sit out Wall. Hudson dropped 19 points to go along with 9 assists, and delivered the dagger from  connecting on a game winning, step-back buzzer beater. That’s not a bad way to finish off a successful summer league appearance and it definitely left a lasting impression on the entire league.

SG: Dominique Jones, Dallas Mavericks

Jones has a lot to offer at the NBA level

This year’s 25th overall pick by the Mavericks showed plenty of good signs during his inaugural summer league performances. Dominique Jones went onto to average 16.6 points per game with 3.4 assists and 3.8 boards. Not only did Jones lead his team in scoring throughout their five matchups, but Jones absorbed much of the hype that was supposed to surround Mavs second-year man, Rodrigue Beaubois. By the end of summer league, the word around the press row was looking forward to watching Jones, not particularly just Beaubois as expected. Jones must improve upon his consistency from the floor, but can indeed help next year’s Mavericks team if called upon.

Rolle was on a roll producing during his time on the floor in Orlando Summer League

SF: Magnum Rolle, Indiana Pacers

While I decided to transform him into a small forward for the sake of showing love for the hungry Pacers rookie. Magnum Rolle made the best of each and every opportunity he got to show the Pacers what he has to offer and it paid off. Rolle is a guy, you’ll be hearing about for years to come. He won’t blow you away with his skill but he’ll instead do it with his hustle and energy. At 6’10 with a very long wingspan, Rolle is very versatile and can guard multiple positions. In Orlando Summer League, Rolle averaged 13.4 points, 7 boards, and 2 blocks a game. Having not played basketball until his freshman year of high school, I’d say Rolle still has a lot of room to grow as a player, especially if he continues to work as hard as he has thus far in the league.

Brackins should become CP3's new best friend on the perimeter

PF: Craig Brackins, New Orleans Hornets

Ok, so maybe Brackins isn’t really a “small name” having been a highly touted recruit coming out of Brewster Academy, but entering the league I’d say many still aren’t buying in. While I doubt Brackins ever becomes a borderline star in the NBA, I do think he’ll be a very solid, respected NBA pro in the near future. It all starts with his size and his ability to stretch the defense with his touch. Brackins is a tremendous shooter with range often times compared to LaMarcus Aldridge, but I’d argue there’s a bit of a “in his prime version of Brian Cook”. He definitely showed me a lot in his summer league games averaging 10 points and 4 rebounds. Not to mention he shot 47% from the three-point line connecting on 10-21 total attempts. While he won’t provide much in other categories his shooting consistency will find him minutes. With Chris Paul leading the charge in New Orleans, Brackins will be a perfect complimentary piece. He doesn’t clog up the lane, prefers to float around the perimeter, and can step into a shot from anywhere on the offensive end. Watch out NBA fantasy basketball, this could be your new favorite three-point specialist since you’ll be able to place him in your power forward slot.

Lawal could end up being "The Steal" of the 2010 NBA Draft Class

C: Gani Lawal, Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns getting some love? You better believe it, they got an absolute steal in this year’s draft, grabbing Gani Lawal with the 46th overall pick. Although they didn’t even have a first round pick this year, the Phoenix Suns came out of the 2010 draft as one of draft night’s winners. Much like how Eric Bledsoe played in the shadow of John Wall at Kentucky, Lawal did the same at Georgia Tech as the focus and media attention was on Derrick Favors. If one were to ask me how good Lawal could end up being? I’d surprise many with this: at the end of the day, Gani Lawal may very well be just as good, if not a better pro than Derrick Favors. Bold statement? Yes, very much so, but entirely out of the question? Absolutely not. In Las Vegas Summer League, I was not at all surprised at Lawal’s attention grabbing stat lines throughout the Suns’ five games. Lawal completed summer league averaging 15.4 points, 7.4 boards, with 1 block a game. It’s nearly impossible to predict how the Phoenix Suns handle Lawal’s rookie year and whether or not he ever gets a real chance to shine. But one thing’s for certain if Lawal continues to develop his game on the practice floor and can show the Suns coaching staff he can rebound, he’ll play. Both Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick are terrible rebounders, plus it’s also clear at this point that hustle-man and fan favorite Lou Amundson isn’t returning. Knock, Knock…Who’s there? Gani Lawal.

Last But Not Least, I Bring You The Most Exciting NBA Summer League Finish I Was In Attendance For, Which Includes 2 of the 5 Players That Made This List: Lester Hudson & Craig Brackins. Take a Look:

This is the last and final part of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Thank you for following the series and we hope you enjoyed it! Be sure to follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.

Wall & Jennings Connect on a Nasty Alley-Oop

By: Ross Geiger

Wall will be flying high in D.C. this season

The best two point guards from the past two drafts collided this week in Los Angeles, California for the Boost Mobile Elite 24 event. They’re both former participants of the Elite 24 event, where 24 of the top high school prospects regardless of class take the hardwood.

Before the event’s actual game a handful of the NBA’s brightest talent took the stage against this year’s 2010 Elite 24 players among those young NBA players that joined John Wall and Brandon Jennings included DeMar DeRozen and 2010 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans.

One of the games best highlights was a 2-on-1 fastbreak which left Jahii Carson left helpless trying to guard both Jennings and Wall running the break. Jennings delivered quite the pass and Wall finished up nicely with a 1 handed monster jam. Check it out:

Top 10 Poster-ers

By: Zach Silvernial (OTC Contributor)

The OuttaTownClowns would like to welcome Zach Silvernail to the blog, we’re happy to announce he’s the newest edition to our growing blog. Zach will primarily focus on contributing to our NCAA Basketball and NBA content on the page. Along with his well-written work, Zach has a great knowledge and high level understanding of the game at both the collegiate and pro levels of play. But don’t take us from us, follow his work on our blog and you’ll see for yourself. Without further ado, I bring you Zach’s debut post on the OTC…Enjoy!

There is nothing more exciting, and often times amusing, than watching a guy get dunked on. With so many incredible athletes now in the NBA, it’s something that seems to happen almost every game. Nothing gets a crowd going, a bench going, and most importantly a player going like taking off full speed, going body to body, and putting his you-know-what in an opponent’s face. If you’re not too familiar with the term “getting postered”, ask Shawn Bradley to describe it to you. I’m almost positive that’s what his role was throughout his stint in the NBA. Or ask guys like Stromile SwiftJames White, or Gerald Green…who only got to the NBA because of their high flying ability. But, before you escape to YouTube, allow me to present the list:

The Kobe Bryant Mini-Fro Days....

10. Kobe Bryant
I know, I know. He’s getting older now, and does a lot less high flying than he did during his mini-fro days, but he is still one of the more explosive and acrobatic players in the league. Don’t think so? Dare you to tell him otherwise.

9. Derrick Rose
Talk about a FREAK athlete. Rose is one of the most, if not the most explosive two-foot jumpers in the NBA. He might not belong in the top 10 based on his quantity of posters, but certainly for his quality and capability. Goran, what were you thinking?

One of the best dunks in All-Star Weekend's history

8. Andre Iguodala
Following in the footsteps of former Wildcat high-flyer Richard Jefferson, “Iggy” comes in at number 8. With deceptively long arms, incredible athleticism, and an underrated array of dunks (as illustrated in his dunk contest appearances)…Andre had to make the list.

7. Russell Westbrook
This guy might be my favorite one on the list. He became known for his ability as a youngster at UCLA, and has continued to humble opponents in the NBA. One of the top five quickest and fastest players in the league, he is beyond dangerous in the open floor.

6. Rudy Gay
Now the ranking becomes a little bit more difficult. It’s hard to put Rudy as low as number 6, but he has about 84 million reasons to make himself feel better. Almost impossible to stop above the rim because of his length, and probably best known for his always fully extended, and picture perfect windmill.

"Mr. Tolliver, will you sign my poster?"

5. Amar’e Stoudemire
Amare is certainly one of the most ferocious and powerful dunkers on the list. He may not always have the most “spectacular” posters, but he seems to have about a million every year. His number of dunks might go down without “Stevie” to thread the needle this year, but he’ll still manage to embarrass a few opponents and their families. Somewhere Anthony Tolliver is tweeting: “SMH”.

4. Dwayne Wade
Alright, now it’s almost impossible. Having to put maybe my favorite player at 4 was not easy, but the top 3 are too good. “DW3” is as relentless as anyone when it comes to taking the ball to the rack, and epitomizes the clique: “attacking the rim with reckless abandon”. Just ask Anderson Varejao.

3. Josh Smith
“J-Smoov” needs no introduction. Only fitting that he would play for the Hawks. Probably the only guy capable of filling out all Top 10 plays on SportsCenter in one night. He’ll pin you at one end and then catch a lob on the other. Always fun to watch.

2. Dwight Howard
Superman comes in at number 2 strictly because it happens so often. Had the list been called Most Likely To Dunk on You…Dwight would probably be number 1. Not only one of the most incredible athletes currently in the NBA, but of all time.

Back When D-Wade Was "A Witness", No Wonder He Wanted To Unite

1. LeBron James
Are you surprised? Possesses every possible attribute of a good poster-er. Size, speed, strength, quickness, jumping ability. You name it, he’s got it. Well, except for a ring.

Well, that concludes my list. But, before I go, just want to give a shout-out to the All Underrated Poster Squad: Will Bynum, Ronnie Price, Von Wafer, Shannon Brown, Dahntay Jones, Chase Budinger, Rodney Carney, Trevor Ariza.

Follow Zach on Twitter: @love4thegame3


Charles Barkley is NOT the NBA’s Worst Golfer…PROOF!

Charles Barkley is NOT the NBA’s Worst Golfer…PROOF!

Tyreke Evans surely claims NBA's Worst Golfer of Summer 2010

Yesterday, former Sacramento Kings guard Bobby Jackson held annual Bobby Jackson Golf Tournament at Verdera Country Club Golf Course in Sacramento. Of those in attendance included Kings star and the NBA’s 2010 Rookie of the Year, Tyreke Evans. While we may have drawn some negative attention to Tyreke Evans for his behavior on the roadways, we’re also glad and prefer to give the bright, young star some positive attention.

Evans took part in Jackson’s golf tournament in an effort to assist children in California who have lost a parent due to cancer or have a parent that has cancer. Not only is it great to see Evans showing his support for a Kings fan favorite and for such a great cause, but it great to see Evans give it his best shot on the tee box. In fact, it looks as though we’ve found the NBA’s worst golfer. It must’ve been a long day on the course for Evans as you will see by this video evidence. Take a look:

Who knows if any NBA players can do worse than this swing attempt, but there’s definitely of other players that couldn’t do much better. So to Tyreke Evans’s defense, it’s encouraging to see him show up knowing very well he had no idea what he was doing out on the golf course. Our advice: Stick to the hardwood Tyreke!

2010 NBA Finals Game 1 Preview

Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers- 9 ET ABC

Being a man who possesses an ultimate passion for the NBA game, it’s always quite ironic that the NBA Finals begins a day or two before or after my birthday on June 4th. This year it falls just one day short of being the perfect present, but for good reason. While this NBA Finals should be an interesting one, it’s all but what I would’ve hoped for.

While I could be crazy, I truthfully believe the day my team makes the NBA Finals, the NBA will just so happen to start the series on my special day which will surely be a sign to what’s to come.

But nonetheless, this year’s NBA Finals is battle amongst two teams with a great history, the Celtics vs. the Lakers.

Can Kobe earn that first ring wearing #24?

The Lakers led behind arguably the best player in the game, Kobe Bryant. A championship season would bring Kobe his fourth ring and the all-so-important first ring without Shaquille O’Neal.

The Celtics led behind long-time team catalyst, Paul Pierce. Let “The Truth” be told, if Pierce can capture his second ring, he must go down as one of the greatest Celtics of all-time. Many might even argue that Pierce has already earned that honor, but a second ring definitely solidifies it.

Throughout this year’s playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers have been nearly unstoppable at home. For them to really give themselves a shot at winning the series, they really need to protect their home court in the opening two games of the series. The Celtics have done a great job stealing road games, swinging home court advantage their way, and then never looking back. I believe it’s the Celtics year to win it all if they’re able to take one of two in Los Angeles, sending a split series back to Boston.

Paul Pierce will continue to be the Paul Pierce we’ve come to know. Kevin Garnett will need to do a heck of a job on Pau Gasol. Ray Allen will help lead the charge in delivering the daggers from outside the perimeter, and Rajon Rondo will have his official, “OMG, Coming Out Party”.

Go Ahead: Roll Out the Red Carpet, It's Time for Rondo's Coming Out Party, Finals MVP Here He Comes

I predict that Rondo will be the difference maker in the series, he’ll tally a couple triple-doubles, and be the deciding factor that helps his Boston Celtics team take the Lakers down in 6 games. If the Celtics win the NBA Championship, then Rajon Rondo will win the Finals MVP Award.

If I’m dead wrong and the Lakers come out on top, I see the Finals MVP going to the Kobe Bryant’s running mate, Pau Gasol. But let’s get one thing straight, the Celtics realize this is their final stand as a group on the brink of claiming yet another NBA title together. Next year, regardless to their NBA Finals success, this team will be broken up. Of all the Celtics that know what’s currently at stake is Kevin Garnett. Having already neared and arguably passed his prime, Garnett’s hungry for one more ring that he’ll earn with his significant contributions. One last time for “The Big Ticket” to seriously be a big ticket on the biggest stage, if he needs any motivation, my advice to him would to be look at Rasheed Wallace. Sheed was in a similar position a few years back with the Pistons. With a much more experienced Celtics bench, I think they’ll get the job done, even if it’s on the road in Game 1.

Celtics- 101 Lakers- 95

Lakers-Celtics Rivalry Top 10 Plays

LA Lakers at Phoenix Suns (Game 6) Predictions

LA Lakers at Phoenix Suns- 8:30 ET TNT

Gentry & the Suns are praying for a Game 6 victory

Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson said it best, “One good shot, leads to another.” After disaster struck the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night, the Suns are down but far from out. Trailing three games to two, the Suns are back at home facing win or go home circumstance. If the Suns they earn a trip back to Los Angeles, if the Lakers win, they’ll be headed to their second consecutive NBA Finals appearance.

There’s no question the Suns are fully capable of not only winning tonight’s game but having a chance to win a decisive Game 7 battle inside the Staples Center, they know that. For Steve Nash and Grant Hill this very well could be their last chance to have a really good shot at making it to the NBA Finals. After all, they’re only two big wins away from doing so.

Heading into Game 6, there are no surprises, both the Suns and the Lakers know what to expect from one another and understand what they’ll need to do to come out on top. So my one and only key to a Game 6 victory for both teams is: Execution.

Whichever team can best executive for the entire 48 minutes wins Game 6. In Game 5, the Suns feel just short of a victory after failing to execute on defensive as Jason Richardson allowed Ron Artest to cross his face and failed to box him out. The Suns along with Jason Richardson learned this valuable lesson, and expect them to bounce back in Game 6.

45+ Points= Lakers win, anything less, expect a loss

Only way I see the Lakers winning Game 6, is if Kobe Bryant goes off on a rampage, meaning 45+ points. As much as I love watching Kobe distribute early on into games, he must find his rhythm early. Gone need to be the games of getting teammates involved early as Kobe may only have 6-8 points after one quarter of play, the Black Mamba needs to fire up early. If he can put the Suns on the heels to start the game, the Suns along with their home crowd will be desperately concerned as the game nears its final minutes.

For the Suns, execution starts and ends with Steve Nash. He was brilliant in Game 5 and with him so close to a chance at the NBA Finals, expect nothing less than another great game today. But Nash must, must, must, score more points than he tallies assists. While that may seem very odd, the Suns need Nash to score the basketball just as much as they need him spoon feeding his teammates.

Behind Nash and another home court “coming out party” for the Suns bench, expect the Suns to come up big with a win in Game 6.

Suns- 121 Lakers- 117 OT

Hopefully Gentry can keep the puking to a minimum tonight

He missed once, don’t allow Kobe Bryant the opportunity to try again tonight!

5/25/10 LA Lakers at Phoenix Suns (Game 4) Predictions

Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns- 9 ET TNT

Can the Suns get it done in Game 4, behind the "hard-nosed" leader Steve Nash?

Like I said in my Game 4 predictions, I think the Suns are in a very similar position to what the Milwaukee Bucks were in against the Atlanta Hawks in Round 1. Outsized and down 0-2 heading home the Bucks took care of business back in Milwaukee. After winning Game 3 on Sunday night the Suns have the opportunity to do the same tonight, tying up the series as it heads back to the City of Angels.

Can it happen? Of course…Do I think it will happen? Absolutely not….Here’s why:

Amare Stoudemire: I hate to break it to ya Suns fans, but that was the last 40+ point performance Stoudemire will ever have in a Suns uniform. It’s a sad reality and I truly do feel bad trying to frame his impressive Game 3 performance as a bad thing. But there’s no way the Lakers allow that to happen once again tonight.

Grant Hill: Go ahead, make the argument that although Amare might not go off for 40 points again and that Grant Hill will make up for some of that loss in scoring. My response to that would be there’s no way in hell Robin Lopez drops 20 points in Game 4. But regarding Lopez, he’ll have another solid night out on the floor, I’ll go with a near double-double type performance of 12 points to go along with 9 rebounds.

Odom must help lead the charge into Game 4

Lamar Odom: Early foul trouble for Lamar Odom really limited the Lakers chances in Game 3, especially when considering Andrew Bynum only played 7 minutes. Odom will bounce back from his very vague 10 point, 6 rebound performance tonight in Game 4. Outside of Kobe Bryant singe handedly taking over the ball game, Odom holds the keys to big Lakers victory.

But There’s Hope for Phoenix!

Suns Bench: If the Suns were to have lost this game, their bench production would’ve been torn apart by the media and deservingly so. It was terrible in Game 3 combing for a mere 15 points and 11 rebounds on 3 of 21 shooting. Yikes! When a bench performs that bad as a bench as a whole, there’s no way to go but up!

3-Point Shooting: The Suns only went connected on 5 of their 20 three point field goal attempts in Game 3. That as we all know is very unlike the Suns and you can fully expect to see the team shoot a higher three point shooting percentage in Game 4.

Planet Orange: The Suns are at home, so that in itself is very important. Behind their home crowd, the Suns must get off to a hot start, keep the energy level at the max. Kobe Bryant began feeling it early in Game 3 and was the key to containing the energy level in Game 3. It seems as though every time finish made a strong push for momentum, Kobe Bryant responded with a tough shot of his own or found an open teammate for a wide-open shot attempt.

When the final buzzer sounds, I’m taking the Lakers over the Suns which will allow the Lakers to wrap up the series in Los Angeles in Game 5.

Lakers- 116 Suns- 112

Things Could Potentially Heat Up Again in Game 4