Western Conference Finals

2010-11 NBA Preview: Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks (55-27 last season)

Dallas needs the Mavericks to play well since their beloved Cowboys have been garbage.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Jason Kidd

Shooting Guard: Caron Butler

Small Forward: Shawn Marion

Power Forward: Dirk Nowitzki

Center: Brendan Haywood

Key Reserves:

Guard: Roddy Beaubois

Guard: Jason Terry

Center: Tyson Chandler

The Dallas Mavericks are going to be strong again and the addition of Tyson Chandler to back up Brendan Haywood should help on the defensive end.  Chandler has lost a step in his game, but he still has the skills to be a great reserve big man.  The shooting guard and small forward spot will also be interesting to watch.  Caron Butler and Shawn Marion cannot carry their positions alone.  They will need Jason Terry, Roddy Beaubois and rookie Dominique Jones to figure into the mix and log solid minutes.  Beaubois could even be the eventual replacement to Jason Kidd.  Roddy has an explosive first step, three-point range and has the ability to finish at the hoop.  This team still hinges on Dirk Nowitzki’s success and will prove to be a top team in the West.

Houston Rockets (42-40 last season)

Yao is healthy and ready to take Houston far in the playoffs.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Aaron Brooks

Shooting Guard: Kevin Martin

Small Forward: Shane Battier

Power Forward: Luis Scola

Center: Yao Ming

Key Reserves:

Guard: Courtney Lee

Forward: Chase Budinger

Center: Brad Miller

Yao Ming is back!  This is great news for Rockets’ fans.  Yao has also been playing like his old self in preseason.  With a healthy Yao all season, I have big expectations for this team.  Their leader on defense is back and a huge low post presence will be reinstated in Houston.  Granted, the number of minutes he will play will be low, but he is the key to the Rockets reemergence.  Trevor Ariza is gone and Chase Budinger will be the one to benefit the most from this loss.  Budinger has everything you would want in a small forward.  He can jump, shoot, defend and pass.  Look for a great second season for the man from Arizona.  Kevin Martin will also be poised for another 20+ point season.  I think the Rockets have the best chance to knock off the Lakers if they can make it to the Western Conference Finals.

San Antonio Spurs (50-32 last season)

Take your pick on who gets injured first.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Tony Parker

Shooting Guard: Manu Ginobili

Small Forward: Richard Jefferson

Power Forward: Tim Duncan

Center: Antonio McDyess

Key Reserves:

Guard: George Hill

Forward: DeJuan Blair

Forward-Center: Tiago Splitter

For the first time in years, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are entering the season fit and healthy.  I believe this big three still has some game in them left to be played, but time is running out.  Two-time Spanish League MVP, Tiago Splitter, was brought in to back up Duncan and should provide great defense and rebounding.  If Splitter can provide, Duncan can hopefully be fresh for the playoffs, and this is what head coach Greg Popovich wants.  Richard Jefferson also needs to bury a disappointing last season and be ready to produce for the Spurs on both ends of the floor.  I think this will be a good team, but the greatness of the Spurs has run out.

Memphis Grizzlies (40-42 last season)

Gay will be looking to propel the Grizzlies to greatness.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Mike Conley

Shooting Guard: O.J. Mayo

Small Forward: Rudy Gay

Power Forward: Zach Randolph

Center: Marc Gasol

Key Reserves:

Guard: Tony Allen

Guard: Xavier Henry

Center: Hasheem Thabeet

Rudy Gay is slowly turning into a big time superstar.  By playing with Team USA this summer, Gay will be taking that next step to becoming great and the rest of the Grizzlies must follow suit.  With Gay, O.J. Mayo and Zach Randolph, Memphis has no trouble putting the ball into the hoop, but defense is their major issue.  Centers Marc Gasol and Hasheem Thabeet need to be the catalysts for defensive presence.  Mike Conley also needs to excel his game.  Now entering his fourth season, Conley needs to improve from being just a mediocre point guard for the Grizzlies to be playoff contenders.  This team is very young and has the potential to have a 2009-10 Oklahoma City type season.

New Orleans Hornets (37-45 last season)

CP3's eyes are on the prize, but does he have the team to do it?

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Chris Paul

Shooting Guard: Marco Belinelli

Small Forward: Trevor Ariza

Power Forward: David West

Center: Emeka Okafor

Key Reserves:

Guard: Jerryd Bayless

Guard: Marcus Thornton

Forward: Peja Stojakovic

I feel the Southwest Division is very competitive and even though the Hornets will be an improvement from last season, they will still finish last.  Chris Paul is back to being healthy and he has two new exciting swingmen: Trevor Ariza and Jerryd Bayless.  With Paul at the helm, the Hornets are definitely going to push the tempo to take advantage in the open floor.  Ariza thrives off of this style of play, and Bayless could prove to be a great back up for Paul.  Bayless will also get time at the shooting guard position to play with Paul.  Emeka Okafor and David West need to improve the defense which had an open-door policy to the rim last season.  All-in-all, I just don’t see it happening for the Hornets this year.

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Planet Orange Shining Bright With New Acquisitions

By: James Sargent

Last season was quite a success for the Phoenix Suns as they reached the Western Conference Finals when every NBA source  had them making the playoffs as a 6-8 seed and not going further than the first round.  Now, I am here to tell you that the Phoenix Suns can exceed last season and possibly knock off the Lakers.  The loss of Amare Stoudemire, in my opinion, will be quite a hurdle to overcome, but the players that were added will make the Suns a better team.

Amare is gone, like Lebron, but at least he said thank you.

Amare Stoudemire is a great player and I loved watching him mature in his tenure with the Suns, but he had a couple of flaws he brought to the team.

One, he has injury issues that have to always be in the back of your mind.  I understand he came back successfully from micro-fracture knee surgery and major eye surgery, but at any time he could go down due to the effects from these injuries or new ones that could arise.  Major injuries can have lingering effects and pop up at any time when you least except it.  Heck, at any point, Steve Nash’s career could be over with one unlucky back injury.  Injury-ridden players are always something you have to watch out for.

Two, his rebounding is very questionable.  You never know when he is going to show up and grab 12 boards or five boards in a game.  His lack of enthusiasm and hustle are also big reasons to when he decides to play his hardest.   Last season in the playoffs, he averaged 6.6 rebounds.  C’mon, man!  You are a 6’10” power forward and one of the most athletic players in the NBA!  There is no reason you shouldn’t be pulling down nine or less rebounds a game.

Three, and this is similar to the one above, his defense is very poor.  Again, he is athletic enough to be a defensive presence, but he doesn’t always give it his all in every game.  Every once in a while he will have a good defensive game and record a couple blocks, but most of the time he is terrible.  Maybe New York will bring out the best of Amare.

Now we get to move on to the additions that the Suns made.  Several days after LeBron James shocked the basketball world with his decision to join the Miami Heat alongside Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, the Suns made a quiet but interesting move by signing the lanky yet versatile forward Hakim Warrick.  Then, a few days after that, the Suns landed Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu in separate deals.

I believe the last afro the Suns had was young Shawn Marion's.

The only price the Suns pay for these acquisitions is the loss of guard, Leandro Barbosa, who was sent to Toronto for Turkoglu.  I am happy Barbosa is gone.  He was starting to lose his off-the-bench heroics and he took way too many shots.  He had some great seasons for Phoenix, but after the injury he suffered last year, he just did not come back the same.

Josh Childress is a great pickup for the team.  He provides stability in the small forward spot, which is currently occupied by the aging Grant Hill.  Childress, who spent his last two seasons playing overseas for the Olympiacos in Greece, will also help tremendously on defense.  He can lessen the burdens of Jason Richardson in guarding the tough opposing guards in the league such as the likes of Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen and Dwayne Wade.  Childress ultimately will bring to the team what Shawn Marion brought in his days here, just not as frequent.  Childress is a poor man’s Shawn Marion and I am going to stick by that comment until I am proven wrong.

Hedo Turkoglu, on the other hand, is set to face enormous amounts of pressure as he takes over the slot vacated by Amare.  The Turkish sensation, who had a dismal season with the Toronto Raptors, will give the Suns more firepower and provide clutch plays for the team.  He will also lessen the load of Steve Nash because he is a very good ball handler and great court vision.  His only downside is his suspect defense.  He will have to guard the more powerful and stronger power forwards and this could pose problems.

With this being said, I believe the Suns will be a much more talented team.  The starting lineup will include Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Hedo Turkoglu and Robin Lopez.  The bench, or “Second Unit”, will feature Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick and Channing Frye.  The Suns could even go as deep as playing Earl Clark or rookie Gani Lawal if they make great improvements.  Anyways, I am very excited for this team next season, and the loss of Amare could turn out just fine.

The verdict: The Suns will exceed expectations once again and make it to the Western Conference Finals for the second straight year.  Can the new look Suns test the Lakers in a seven game series?  Next year we will find out.

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

5/23/10 LA Lakers at Phoenix Suns (Game 3) Predictions

Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns- 8:30 ET TNT

It's now or never for the Phoenix Suns

Whenever a series is 2-0, the series all of a sudden become a five game series, not a seven game series. But with just one win, that all can suddenly put the Suns back into a seven game series mode. My outlook on Game 3 is one that should look very promising in the eyes of Suns fans, but I warn you to read with caution. Some fans may disagree with this comparison.

The Suns-Lakers series reminds me a lot of the Bucks-Hawks series in Round 1. In Game 1, both the Suns and the Bucks got blown out on the road and the series looked like the Hawks/Lakers were going to have an easy task moving forward. In Game 2, both the Suns and the Bucks lost again, but had their opportunities to take the lead down the stretch and had much improved overall play. So both road teams down 0-2 to the series back to their respected homes for Games 3 and 4. The majority of NBA analysts envisioned the Bucks winning one home game, much like some of the analysts are predicting now for this Suns-Lakers series.

Going in Game 3 in Phoenix I see the Suns doing exactly what the Bucks did on their home court and here’s why. The Lakers have been able to get exceptional offensive contributions from the likes of Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Ron Artest, and I’ll  even (maybe unfairly) throw Lamar Odom in there. With the Lakers on the road inside the U.S. Airways Center, I just don’t see each of these four being able to contribute as much as they have thus far into the series. Being at home is one thing, but on the road the situation and task at hand is completely different.

The Suns can't allow the "Bynumite" to explode

Look for Phil Jackson to use Andrew Bynum more effectively in Game 3, allowing Bynum to slow down the Lakers offense. Against the Suns, it’s okay to play a little up-tempo style when you’re at home but once you enter Planet Orange in Phoenix your best bet is to slow down the tempo and control Phoenix’s opportunities to push the ball. This may not be the same D’Antoni fastbreak team, but those run and gun possessions really fuel the Suns momentum at home behind their fans.

For the Suns, it’s up to both Jason Richardson and Amare Stoudemire to deliver. Amare’s taken much criticism for his performances so far, so I’d expect him to come out aggressive from jump. So aggressive that if he can avoid foul trouble early on, I wouldn’t rule him out for dropping 17+ first half points. Off the bench, the Suns can’t expect Jared Dudley to have another nearly perfect shooting performance and everyone will surely be watching the play of Channing Frye. After a pep talk from his wife on the way home from L.A. and all the publicity Frye’s been receiving on his current slump, tonight he must step up to the challenge. This is the toughest adversity he’s faced since being a top rookie with the New York Knicks. And after declining his upcoming player option, it’s about time he starts proving  exactly why he deserves more money than what the player option  had him receiving salary-wise. Same type deal relates to the Amare Stoudemire. It’s not even about whether Amare wants to remain a Phoenix Sun, it’s about showing the rest of the league’s general managers that you cannot only help their team get to the playoffs but can excel in big time games. For the Phoenix Suns, it’s their time in shine in the Valley of the Sun. It’s a now or never Game 3 at home tonight. Suns come through in big victory, restore Suns fans hope.

Suns- 121 Lakers- 112

Planet Orange Should Be Rocking Inside U.S. Airways Tonight

5/19/10 Phoenix Suns at LA Lakers (Game 2) Predictions

Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers- 9 ET TNT

Frye must contribute a few treys with or without giving Hill a piggyback

While I believe Game 1 was a true indicator of who will take the series, the Suns won’t go down without giving themselves a worthwhile fight back at home for games 3 and 4. Rest assured, the Suns won’t lose in such an embarrassing fashion again this series and with that being said Game 2 looks promising.

“Live or Die by the Three”- For year’s it’s been the Phoenix Suns’ motto, in Game 1 they died by it and we’re already dead before the fourth quarter started. Outside of Jason Richardson, the Suns were atrocious from downtown as Nash, Frye, Dudley, Dragic, and Barbosa shot an ugly 2-16 from long range. That folks is something that won’t happen in Game 2, expect at three of the five players I just mentioned to at the very least hit two threes tonight (my guess would be Nash/Frye/Dudley).

In the series, continue to watch how Phil Jackson decides to use Andrew Bynum, it seems to that Coach Jackson allows the Lakers the freedom to run up and down with the Suns at home. But then on the road inside the U.S. Airways Center expect Bynum to be more of a factor as the Lakers choose to play a slower paced game.

Nearly Exact Replicas

It’s almost scary to me how similar stat lines Gasol and Stoudemire have when facing each other. While the two may have their athletic differences, when it comes down to overall skill level and talents at the power forward position, they’re nearly identical. Both are very good from the foul line, very good around 15 feet, and both have a great array of post moves on the block.

As for Kobe Bryant, Suns fans will be relieved of any 40 point surges. Grant Hill and Jared Dudley have a game under their belt and from here on out, they’ll only to continue to adapt their defensive strategies towards him. Don’t get me wrong though, while there’s no stopping Kobe completely, don’t expect the Black Mamba to go off for anymore than 32 points at most.

If the Suns decide to test out their zone defense on the Lakers in Game 2, you’re guaranteed to see more of Andrew Bynum. I’m not so certain, testing the zone out is the right idea to be quite frank because I think it only attacks the Suns weaknesses down low. The more opportunities you give the Lakers to open up their high-low game with Gasol and Bynum the more foul trouble you may see from Amare Stoudemire. And without Stoudemire on the offensive end, you can kiss goodbye any good looks from the three-point arc with no real threats inside.

Game 2 shall be a good one from start to finish with the Phoenix Suns coming out on top shipping the series back to Phoenix tied 1-1.

Suns- 114 Lakers- 107

I must say being back here in Phoenix while this Suns/Lakers series is going on has been great to follow all the stories and all the hype. I’ve been told by a few Suns fans that this is the Suns fans “pump up” YouTube video before they tune into the game, ALL I CAN SAY IS ENJOY!

5/17/10 Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers (Game 1)

Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers- 9 ET TNT

Why can't the Suns get any love?

On top of all the “you’re wrong” comments sent my way via Suns fans, I’ve recently been hit with a surge of Suns fans wondering why I and the majority of the sports media world don’t give the Suns any love. While I can stand here and think of a variety of different why that is, I think it’s much more significant to inform all Suns fans not to worry: Embrace it! The Phoenix Suns are at their best when there’s no expectations! The moment they’re expected to do something is when they fail….

Past Examples:

2004-2005 Suns Starters: Nash/Johnson/Richardson/Marion/Stoudemire= best Suns team since the 2000's

When were expected to dominate the NBA Playoffs as they did the 2004-2005 regular season= fail

When Shawn Marion is expected to be happy and remain a Suns player for his entire career= fail

When Shaquille O’Neal was expected to be the missing link to a championship caliber team= fail

Present Examples:

When Steve Nash is expected to play a little defense= fail

When Jared Dudley and the Suns bench are expected to provide a huge boost= fail

When the Suns have a early 15 to 20 point lead and expect to maintain it= fail

Suns may still regret not doing this

Future Examples in Question:

When Jared Dudley & Grant Hill are expected to slow down Kobe: _______ ?

When Amare Stoudemire is expected to resign in Phoenix this offseason: _______?

When Goran Dragic is expected to be the Suns everyday starting point guard: _______?

Goran Dragic might possibly be the best example that comes to mind when talking about the Suns and expectations. While there’s no doubt that Goran Dragic’s Game 3 performance in San Antonio was outstanding to say the very least, it was THAT outstanding because you didn’t expect it. The moment Suns fans come to expect Goran Dragic to do something (like me) you’ll find yourselves disappointed in the final product. Same applies to the Suns organization. Don’t have any expectations heading into the Western Conference Finals Suns fans, I’m looking out in the best interest of you all. Continue to enjoy the ride without worrying about what Bill Plaschke, Phil Jackson, and hell even what Ross Geiger says. The moment the sports world outside of Phoenix begins to believe in this Suns team is when it collapses.

The Lakers' Big Three

Now with all that being said, I got good news for the Phoenix Suns, I like the majority of the sports world have the Lakers in Game 1. It’s going to be interesting to watch the Suns try to stop the Lakers strong inside presence of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. The most important key of all is not allowing Amare Stoudemire to fall into early foul trouble. If at any point in this series, Amare sees foul trouble early into ball games, the Suns stand no chance unless they’re just hitting everything from the perimeter. Balanced scoring: inside and out, is something both teams need to solidify their success. The Suns must not count heavily on knocking down the perimeter threes against the Lakers, rather must attack the basket and try to draw some fouls down low on Bynum. If the Suns can get Bynum into some foul trouble, the game is pretty much an even battle.

How the Lakers decide upon approaching who defends Steve Nash is also something to watch for. We all know Derek Fisher will clearly start from tipoff, but I see Phil Jackson calling upon Shannon Brown to play that Jerryd Bayless/George Hill-type role against Nash. Jordan Farmar is another guy to watch out for. Any matchup that puts Steve Nash on his heels on defense is something I see Phil Jackson trying his best to exploit. Especially now after Steve Nash retaliated back by saying that Gregg Popovich is the best head coach in the NBA, I see Coach Jackson taking to Nash every and often.

A Lakers win will result in keeping Bynum out of foul trouble, solid play from Gasol at least matches the stat line of Stoudemire, and the no show productivity from the Phoenix Suns bench. Lakers take Game 1 at home.

Lakers- 107 Suns- 99

I Don’t See Channing Frye or Jared Dudley Being Able to Deliver Clutch Knockdowns Like This One, That Goes Down in My Book as the My Favorite Suns Shot of All-Time over Rex Chapman’s Prayer:

5/10/10 NBA Playoff Predictions

Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks- 8 ET TNT

It's time to unleash Mario West & let him try his best to stomp on the Magic

It’s only Monday but T.G.I.F. thank goodness it’s finished! At least as far as this series is concerned, it’s been a complete joke, and there’s no sense wasting anymore of my time or your time doing a write-up on a series that was over even before it started. This has to go down as one of the worst second round series of all time, I mean seriously, each final score looks as if it’s a preseason game matchup. Speaking of preseason, the Hawks should prepare for this one as if it is next season and play their youth. The Atlanta Hawks “so-called” rowdy fans have already thrown in the towel, why shouldn’t the team follow suit? Magic win again.

Magic- 113 Hawks- 93

First Dwight Howard stole the nickname “Superman” from Shaq & Now Take This From King James?!?! haha

Los Angeles Lakers at Utah Jazz- 10:30 ET TNT

Nearly a Game 3 Hero

I wished you all could’ve heard the roar of exasperation that traveled throughout the dorm room on the campus of Marquette University as the final buzzer sounded at the end of Game 3 on Saturday. Our very own, Wesley Matthews fell just short of being a Game 3 hero with a last second tip in at the buzzer, but the ball just didn’t bounce his way.

Facing a 3-0 deficit the Jazz are toast, but I think they’re a team with too much pride and heart to get swept and finished off on their home floor. Deron Williams will be given his time to shine much like Dwayne Wade did in Round 1, down 3-0 against the Boston Celtics. The Jazz will ultimately help the Phoenix Suns get another few days rest and give them a chance to sit down to study the Lakers live. The Jazz are much more similar to the Suns than they’d probably like to admit. While their effort on the defensive end is much different, their size and style with their postmen is very similar. Jazz take Game 4 and avoid the sweep.

Jazz- 108 Lakers- 101

Jazz Rookie Wesley Matthews & Kosta Koufos have a Dance-Off

5/9/10 NBA Playoff Predictions

Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics- 3:30 ET ABC

For the Celtics, Game 3 was embarrassing to say the least and it ended up being the historic franchise’s worst playoff loss ever. Game 4 isn’t just a matter of winning or losing it’s more about stepping up to the challenge that comes with playing against LeBron James.

Stop Simply Glancing at the Scoreboard & Make Some Adjustments!

Head Coach Doc Rivers and his handful of well-seasoned NBA greats never once even made an effort to make an adjustment in Game 3 on LeBron. They didn’t show any pride, allowing their team in their city to get absolutely embarrassed in their first home game in Round 2. There are no excuses for not even trying to make adjustments! None! Zip zero!

Now granted LeBron hit his fair share of “nothing-else-you-can-do” shots on Celtics defenders but at some point in the game, you to pick your poison, and force those around LeBron to beat you. Everyone knows there’s a lot of pressure on the Cavaliers to win a championship this year with LeBron heading into a free agency campaign. Despite where you stand on whether LeBron will leave Cleveland or not, the pressure is clearly there. The Cavs organization has done it’s best to surround LeBron will the very best unit that can help him become an NBA champion, make those guys (Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, and heck even Shaquille O’Neal) prove that!

Make Him Beat You

All season long the Celtics have been a team that either show up and play or just aren’t all quite there, a sad but true statement about a group of notable, experienced players. Game 4, I expect the Cavaliers to prevail yet again. If the Celtics are to stand a chance they’ll have to get a big boost scoring wise from Rajon Rondo. But I see LeBron and the Cavs heading home just one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals.

Cavaliers- 107 Celtics- 93

Someone Please Inform LeBron That Tomorrow is in fact Mother’s Day & He Shouldn’t Tell His Mother to “Sit Her Ass Down”….

Coincidentally this happen in a playoff series against the Celtics!

Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs- 8 ET TNT

That Goal Was To Make My Predictions Look Foolish- Mission Accomplished

I’ll be first to admit it, I’ve been horribly wrong with my expectations for the Suns in this year’s NBA playoffs. Maybe it was just my lack of interest in the team, even better, it might just be the fact that in the past two years the only games televised here in Milwaukee are on TNT, or maybe I got it all twisted. Maybe it’s not my expectations for the Suns that are terribly off, instead it’s my expectations for the San Antonio Spurs. After all, I did kind of forget that they’re the 7th seed.

But 7th seed or 1st seed bottom line is both of these teams are very similar. Both have their big names stars ending their prime in Nash and Duncan. Both have their scoring machine shooting guards in Richardson and Ginobili. And probably most importantly both have plenty of concerns to deal with at the end of their seasons.

But hey, I’m not here to bash either team in fact I’ve been very impressed with the Suns demeanor and if they keep this momentum up, I might even give them a slight chance of beating the Los Angeles Lakers in a 7 game series.

Cherish This Suns Fans

There’s really not much to comment on heading into Game 4. The series is clearly over and the Suns would be foolish not to give it their all to finish their business tomorrow night. But if I were still a Suns fan, I’d actually wish upon a Suns loss. If you’re a diehard Suns fan it’d be priceless to be at Game 5 and being able to talk trash and boot the Spurs out of the playoffs in Phoenix, something the Suns fans can’t say they’ve done in years. I can already see the crowd of Suns fans outside the Suns player parking garage anxiously awaiting the departure of the Spurs team bus headed to Sky Harbor that night.

One final note before I call it quits on this post, how can I not at least give some recognition to Goran Dragic. While I’m far from impressed of his potential, I’d be ignorant to say what he did in Game 3 wasn’t very impressive. Congrats Goran, you’ve only continued to help Suns fans maintain some hope that you are the future point guard. Your shot has drastically improved, there’s no doubt about it, but as far as being a leader goes, you got a long ways to go. Keep making steady improvements and maybe I’ll decide to budge a little, but having the tendency to pick up your dribble for no purpose and turning over the ball in the backcourt when faced with backcourt on the ball pressure doesn’t help your case. Oh and by the way, my name is spelled Ross, not Rosse so next time someone decides to try to play a joke on me and ask you to personally make an autograph out to me, drop the “e” my friend. (True Story).  But nonetheless good job in Game 3, you stepped up in a big position and got the job done, something I’m not used to seeing you do in games I’ve been able to watch. So with all this I apologize to any offended Suns fans, maybe it’s just the games I’m able to see that misguide my judgments, as do many of you when it comes to your opinion on my Milwaukee Bucks. But hey, at the end of the day, congrats to the Phoenix Suns, you’ve done it, you’ve finally beat the Spurs and did s in an impressive and very commanding fashion. You’re headed to the Western Conference Finals.

Suns- 111 Spurs- 103

While I could remember this….

I’ll Choose to Remember This….