Saturday, March 22, 2008

Postgame Thoughts: Memphis vs. Sacramento - 3.22.08

Darko Milicic made a move from the elbow, ducked around Mikki Moore and finished with a sweet finger roll basket. That play almost single handedly described how well the Grizz were performing against Sacramento on Saturday night.

Juan Carlos Navarro followed up a strong game in NYC, where the fans were cheering for him more than the Knicks, with 6 three points baskets in 9 attempts in a 22 point effort. Many of the shots came late in the game when Sacramento was trying to steal the game.

Mike Conley looked as sharp as he has in weeks. His 10 pt, 6 assist game in under 28 minutes were huge in getting the Grizzlies off to a hot start and to keep Sacramento from getting too close late in the game. He moved the ball well, hit open shots when they presented themselves and was constantly breaking down the Kings defense with penetration in the lane.

Memphis won back to back games for the 2nd time this season and looked incredibly sharp in doing so. They have now won 3 out of 4 games as well. Normally that would be cause for some joy in Memphis but when the three wins came against teams competing with Memphis for ping pong balls in the upcoming lottery one has to question whether the desire to win isn't superseded by the logic of improving their chances of getting a top pick in the draft. So while plays like Milicic's finger roll combined with a 19 pt and 10 rebound game, or Navarro's 6 three point bombs or Conley's 10 pt, 6 assist game should make people pleased they also seemed to be working against the team's long term best interests.

However it only seems that way.

Memphis is not guaranteed anything by winning or losing this game. The team gained much needed confidence in both themselves and the system that they are playing under by winning this game. The argument that the team should be trying to lose as many games as possible is wrong. It may turn out that losing more games could have given the team a better draft pick, but it could just as easily turn out that winning these games allows the team to have a better draft pick. It may turn out that the player who gets drafted one spot ahead of the Grizzlies pick is a true difference maker in the NBA. It may be just as true that the player taken after the Grizzlies pick turns out to be the real star of the draft.

At this point we just don't know. What we do know is that the experience of playing a tough game and coming out on top is needed for the young Grizzlies. Lessons learned from this win may translate into more important wins in the future when games are more important. Bad teams stay bad from failing to learn the lessons from the positive outcome of games like these. Teams go from bad to good by learning how to win games like these. A team that starts 3 players under 23 years old and has two more under 22 that play significant minutes needs to learn how to win games as much as they need to worry about the outcome of ping pong balls in a machine.

And by the way, Minnesota beat the Knicks tonight so the win didn't drop the Grizzlies in the standings and has no effect on the lottery at all.

BallHype: hype it up!

Memphis vs Sacramento - 3.22.08

Memphis got another monkey off it's back Friday night in NYC when Mike Miller, Rudy Gay and Juan Carlos Navarro combined for 75 points and the Grizzlies rolled to a 120-106 victory. Memphis now faces their 4th consecutive lottery bound team having won 2of the previous three games. The only drawback to the win was that it dropped the Grizzlies back into a tie with Minnesota for the 3rd worst record in the league and puts Memphis only 2 games ahead of the Knicks for 5th place.

Sacramento comes to town with revenge on their minds and a .500 record within thier reach. Memphis's defeat of the Kings on February 12th preceeded the Kings trading Mike Bibby to Atlanta and started what is likely to become a house cleaning of their own this summer. Reggie Theus, the Kings rookie head coach, has done an incredible job holding the team together despite numerous injuries and roster moves. To put things in perspective the Kings would be a playoff team in the East instead of 10 games out of the playoffs like they are right now. Sacramento is playing back to back road games after losing in San Antonio last night which may give them dead legs in this game.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Anthony Johnson
Anthony Johnson had solidified the starting PG role in Atlanta until just before the trade deadline. Suddenly he is Sacramento haveing to adjust to a new team and new coaching philosophy. The trade hasn't helped his game yet. His numbers are down across the board and they weren't that impressive to begin with. Beano Udrih's injury has forced AJ back into a starting role and he is playing better from that position. Mike Conley has struggled as well of late which is to be expected from a rookie PG. Teams have adjusted to his game and he has to adjust to those adjustments, probably for the first time in his career. One thing is clear, Mike is understanding he needs to take more outside shots and he has been hitting them of late as well.
Advantage: Memphis

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Kevin Martin

Mike Miller has been playing like a man on fire lately. Apparently Miller is over the mourning period of his good friend Pau Gasol being traded (and Miller not being as well). Against the Knicks Miller scored 24 pts in the 1st half on his way to a season high 34 points. Kevin Martin has been struggling with his outside shot and like most great scorers he has started taking the ball to the hoop to compensate. His 17 FT attempts against the Spurs. What is scary is that those 17 attempts were only his 5th highest attempts in a game this season for Martin. Earlier this month Martin had 24 attempts against Minnesota.
Advantage: Sacramento

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Ron Artest

A classic confrontation of defense vs offense. Ron Artest is one of the best defensive small forwards in the league, and he doesn't have to kick people in the fact either. After a disappointing December, Artest has steadily been improving his offensive play as well averaging over 23 ppg in March. Rudy Gay has struggled with two things lately. First, he has been thrust into the lead scorers role without much in the way of support. Second, he has been trying to overcome a tender hamstring which has limited his explosiveness. With Miller return and the hammy healing Rudy is again showing flashes of the star potential people have suggested he has.
Advantage: Sacramento

Power Forwards: Hakim Warrick vs Mikki Moore

Mikki Moore is old, untalented but hard working. Hakim is young, talented and hard working. Unfortunately Hakim is also a lot smaller than Mikki Moore and if Moore decides to use his strength and size down low Warrick will struggle to stop him from doing whatever he wants. Hak's advantage is speed and range, being able to hit shots from up to 20 ft with consistency. Moore isn't an accomplished offensive player and struggles when put in that role.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Brad Miller
Darko once again saw his minutes severely restricted in NYC with the Knicks going small and Darko's left writst still hurting. Darko's up and down minutes have made it somewhat difficult for him to be consistent as have the injuries but Darko has been consistently above average against the better centers in the league. Brad Miller is certainly considered that. Miller's numbers are only slightly off his all star years in Chicago and Sacramento. Miller stretches defensse with his outside shot and sets terrifying picks on small guards. Darko will need to play smart, let people know of picks being set and most importantly, put a body on Miller to keep him off the boards. A tall order for anyone.
Advantage: Sacramento

Benches: Memphis vs Sacramento

Sacramento is going to want to rely on their bench a lot in this game. However, with Beano Udrih questionable, that may not be possible. John Salmons was playing well earlier in the season but his play has dropped off considerably. Quincy Douby, Francisco Garcia and Stephen Hawes are young but have a lot of potential. Memphis' bench is backcourt heavy with Navarro, Lowry and Crittenton providing the fire power and Collins giving his best defensively.
Advantage: Sacramento

Relevant Blogs:
Sactown Royalty - The end-all, be-all of Kings' commentary and analysis.

BallHype: hype it up!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Interview with the Enemy: Posting and Toasting

We continue to make our way through the rest of the lottery bound teams, this time familiarizing ourselves with the New York Knickerbockers. The fantastic Knicks blog Posting and Toasting was all too willing to answer our questions and ask some of their own.

1) With the rumors swirling that owner James Dolan is looking to replace Isiah Thomas as the GM of the team (took him long enough!), out of the legitimately available names who do you feel would make the best GM to remake this team?

From the sounds of things, Donnie Walsh is the leading candidate and appears to be a worthy one. He's a New York guy with a respected name in the league. He's got an eye for talent and a successful hand in the trade market. I'm not picky, though. At this point, I'd take Chef Boyardee over Isiah.

2) If David Stern were to do another favor to the Knicks (like the Allan Houston Rule was supposed to) and gave them the opportunity to drop any contracts they wanted to, which players are you keeping on this team? Well, other than the basketball demi-god that is David Lee, of course.

I can't help but love Crawford and Nate, so they can stick around. Other than them (and Lee), I'm not particularly attached to anyone except for the young guys: Balkman, Chandler, Morris, and even Collins.

3) For all Isiah's faults, the man can draft with the best of them. David Lee, Renaldo Balkman and Wilson Chandler have all proven that they can be solid contributors in the NBA. With a lottery pick guaranteed in the upcoming draft, what players are you looking at with hopes and dreams swirling through your mind?

The consensus at P&T is that the Knicks are looking for a solid lead guard. Derrick Rose might be a pipe dream, but all the experts tell me that he's the ideal guy. Other than that, I really like Jerryd Bayless (without knowing much about him). D.J. Augustin and Russell Westbrook are two other guys of interest who aren't currently projected that high, but might get a bump with impressive play in the tournament. Eric Gordon is cool too, but might not fit the need well enough.

4) Eddy Curry is out for the season, Stephon Marbury is still in the doghouse and reports are that even Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford are tuning out their coach. Coming from an expert in recognizing them - what a mess! Is there any way this team can move forward as long as Isiah is with the organization in any capacity?

Any capacity? Sure. Isiah could remain with the Knicks in the capacity of, say, waterboy without doing too much harm. Even then, he'd probably swap out the Gatorade for some purple Powerade or something.

5) Does Spike Lee still show up for every game or did he hire a stunt double? Just asking...

Spike's not at every single game, but his attendance hasn't faltered too much this season. Call the man what you want, but he's not a fair-weather fan by any means.

BallHype: hype it up!

Memphis at New York - 3.21.08

Memphis let another big lead slip away on the road in Minnesota. That is good news however as once again the Grizzlies are playing the ping pong game instead of preparing for the playoffs. Memphis is experimenting with different lineups, dealing with injuries and basically hoping to somehow avoid being in this position next year by finding the right spot to be in the lottery. The Grizzlies are young

New York hasn't won a playoff game since the Grizzlies were in Vancouver and haven't been in the playoffs since the 2003-04 season. During that time Isiah Thomas has been the team's coach, GM and leading sexual predator yet he was surprised to hear a rumor that James Doolan is thinking about replacing him. Only in New York could someone do as bad a job as Isiah and still have a job. People may accuse the Grizzlies of tanking but looking at the starting lineup in NYC, this won't be one of those times.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Nate Robinson
Nate Robinson has been one of Isiah's best draft picks since taking over the Knicks. That in itself says a lot more about Isiah's tenure than Nate Robinson who has overcome height difficulties to actually become a decent PG in his 3rd NBA season. In just 26 mpg Nate is averaging 12.7 ppg and 3.0 apg. Conley, more of a passer than a scorer, is averaging 8.6 ppg and 4.2 apg in 25.8 mpg as a rookie. Neither player is exactly turning the league on its ear this season but both are young and should improve. Conley has the greater upside but that won't matter tonight.
Advantage: New York

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Jamal Crawford
Mike Miller continues to put up solid numbers both scoring and rebounding despite the lack of support around him. That's a lot to put on his back and it is doubtful that his back will hold up much longer under the strain. Jamal Crawford is a converted scoring PG who has finally come to realize he is more of a SG and is playing much better. Crawford's not sure what the difference between is between a good shot and a bad but he isn't afraid to shoot himself out of a slump, no matter how long that takes.
Advantage: Memphis

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Wilson Chandler
Wilson Chandler is a rookie from DePaul and has replaced Quentin Richardson in the starting lineup. That could be from a legitimate injury or from the fact that Q is shooting 35% from the floor and doesn't play defense. Not that Chandler is a great improvement. Rudy has been struggling being the main man on the team as should be expected from a 21 yr old 2nd yr player. Something tells me Rudy is going to enjoy the bright lights of NYC.
Advantage: Memphis

Power Forwards: Hakim Warrick vs David Lee
Hakim has been a nice surprise since the trade of Gasol but has been struggling to remain in the starting lineup despite his strong play. David Lee has been struggling to get into the starting lineup but will probably stay now that he is there. Lee is an old school player. He has decent range but he is a bruising enforcer more than a finesse player. A superior rebounder Lee's main drawback is a lack of quickness that Hakim may be able to exploit at times but don't think that means Lee is slow because he will often beat his man down to court for powerful dunks.
Advantage: New York

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Zack Randolph
Assuming Darko is healthy enough to play with his left hand/wrist problems, Randolph should have difficulty keeping Darko off the glass and away from the rim. However Randolph brings different problems for Darko. Randolph can play further from the basket than most centers, has the ability to use his wide frame to create space inside and seems to love playing the Grizzlies.
Advantage: New York

Benches: Memphis vs New York
New York has Eddie Curry, Stephon Marbury and Quentin Richardson shelved. That is a lot of talent to not have available. Throw in Jarrett Jeffries, Malik Rose and Jerome James who have not performed as advertised since being acquired and NY is struggling off the bench. Renaldo Balkman, last season's surprise rookie, has not improved his game this season and is looking more and more like a bust with long hair. Memphis' bench has strong play in the back court with Navarro, Crittenton and Lowry but little from the front court. This may mean Navarro is again starting with Warrick coming off the bench, especially with New York not having a lot of size up front.
Advantage: Memphis

Update: Zack Randolph will apparently not be playing tonight against the Grizzlies as Isiah Thomas admits the Knicks are "playing for the future" and looking to see what value Randolph Morris and Winston Chandler have for the future. This is perhaps the earliest season ever where the multiple teams have given up on the year.

Relevant Blogs/Websites:
Father Knickerbocker
Posting and Toasting
Frank Isola- NY Daily News

BallHype: hype it up!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Postgame Thoughts: Memphis at Minnesota - 3.19.08

This game was like a heavywieght title bout between two fighters both represented by Don King.

Memphis and Minnesota fought the good fight and both teams exerted a lot of effort in the game. Unfortunately for Minnesota they just came up a bit short in the end. No Memphis didn't win the game. Memphis won the all important position battle for the ping pong balls in the Western Conference.

Memphis started out looking like a team that didn't care about the battle for the top position in the lottery. The Grizzlies opened the game on fire with Mike Miller scoring 10 points, Rudy Gay adding 6 and Juan Carlos Navarro chipping in with 5 pts as the Grizzlies built a 28-23 lead after one quarter. The second quarter was even worse for Grizz fans as the 2nd unit continued to show no concern for standings and the long term benefit of the franchise as their selfish play created a seemingly insurmountable hole with the Grizzlies leading 52-38. Minnesota was on top of their game in that quarter as the TWolves managed to score a mere 15 points and ended the half with 38 points against one of the worst defensive teams in the league.

It must have been a stirring half time speach by Marc Iavaroni that woke up the team. The Grizzlies came out of halftime and their lackluster play and poor shot selection created a nice 17-5 run by Minnesota to tie the game at 57. This has been the type of play Grizz fans have come to expect from a team competing for the top spot in the lottery for the 2nd consecutive year. Darco Milicic, taking one for the team, re-injured his left hand allowing the Grizzlies interior defense to completely disappear. After Milicic held Al Jefferson to only 7 pts in the first half the combination of Jason Collins, Hakim Warrick and yes even Kwame Brown helped insure the TWolves would have no trouble getting the ball to Jefferson and that Big Al would be completely unable to miss the shot by allowing repeated uncontested dunks.

Minnesota appeared to wake up to this threat once the score was tied. Suddenly Memphis was getting the uncontested shots while Minnesota went cold and Memphis ended the quarter on a miserable 11-5 run to fall into a 6 pt hole (i.e. lead) with one quarter to play. Memphis did manage to score only 16 points in the third quarter despite the weak play at the end. The Grizzlies came out fighting in the fourth giving up open shots and when Minnesota wouldn't take them, picking up illegal defense calls to force the TWolves to the line. The game progressed with both teams really expending a lot of energy to insure the loss.

Speaking of the line, that is where Memphis really showed their strength. The Twolves shot an embarrassing 82.9% from the line while Memphis was deadly hitting 63.6% to overcome the huge deficit they put themselves in from the floor shooting 41.5% compared to Minnesota's shot 39.3%. Both teams were doing their best from the 3 pt line with Memphis winning the battle 22.7% to 27.3% for the TWolves.

So Memphis worked hard, very hard in fact, and got the result that was best for the team. They didn't want to lose the game, they didn't try to lose the game (unlike Miami which put up 54 pts against Toronto last night...for the game) but the loss is better for the team's chances of getting a difference maker in the draft.

Probably the most encouraging thing from last night's game is the realization that two of the TWolves top three scorers were players drafted by current Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace while he was in Boston. The most depressing thing was not getting any shots of Marco Jaric's girlfriend in the crowd.

BallHype: hype it up!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Interview with the Enemy: T'Wolves Blog

In the interest of lottery-bound teams sharing information, we traded questions with T'Wolves Blog about their team, their future and a certain Brazilian supermodel. A big thanks goes out to College Wolf and DeROK for their great answers. You can view the questions they asked us and our answers here.

1) In the off-season, Al Jefferson signed a 5-year, $65 million extension, which was actually less than what he was eligible to receive had he asked for a max contract. It was refreshing to hear a player say that he wasn't worthy of a max deal. What are your impressions of the young stud in his first season in Minnesota?

College Wolf - I can’t speak for all fans, but I’ve quickly become enamored with him. I’ve followed the Celtics for the past few years as my “other” team, so I already knew a good deal about “Old Skool” (as we affectionately like to call him.) Still, I did not foresee him coming in and immediately producing like he has been all season long. Before the season, if you would have told me that he’d average 20+ points, 10+ boards, and have the second most double-doubles; I would have said “no way.” Not only has his offense been superb, but we’ve seen him grow before our very eyes as a leader out on the court. He’s been much more vocal and passionate as the season has gone on, which is very exciting to see and is exactly what this young team needs in a leader. However, it is not all praise… because until he can improve his overall defense, he’ll never be considered a truly great player in this league.

2) How has the fanbase adjusted in the post-Kevin Garnett era?

DeROK - I would say for the first half of the season, most Timberwolves fans were still suffering from a KG hangover. The team's record was horrendous, hovering around the 5-30 mark, and none of the young players we received in the deal seemed to be living up to our expectations of them. There was honestly a point where I felt the Wolves had gotten completely taken in the trade and that Al Jefferson was nothing more than the next Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Then, things suddenly changed. It was right before the Wolves were scheduled to play Boston. As if someone had flipped on a switch, Al Jefferson began to completely dominate games and was consistently putting up the type of point totals we'd see Garnett score every two seasons. The team was able to build off of that momentum heading into the Celtics game and put on one of the best performances of the season. Had it not been for back-to-back meltdowns on inbounds plays, the last-place Wolves would have toppled the league-leading C's. After the game, Garnett had a celebratory tirade that didn't sit too well with most Minnesota fans. I think the team's gutsy performance coupled with Garnett's post-game reactions were what finally cut the last ties most of us had to the KG era. Garnett's still my favorite player and can't wait to see him in the playoffs again, but Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Corey Brewer, Randy Foye - those are "my guys" now. I'm happy with where this team's going and actually think we got the better end of the trade in the long-term. It really was the best thing for both the franchise and Garnett to part ways. I think almost every Wolves fan realizes this and, as a whole, we're at peace with the situation.

3) Rumors are that if Minnesota is looking to draft one of the top level PG's in the upcoming draft. Should they look to draft their PG of the future or is there someone you think they should trade for or sign as a free agent instead?

CW - This is a big bag of cookies that I’m not entirely sure we can fully dissect at *this point* of the season. There are still some “things” contingent on other “things” happening. I believe the draft is before the free agent signing period, so the front office needs to decide if they will be pursuing Telfair or not this off-season. That in turn affects whether they want to spend our lottery pick on a PG. Do they draft a second tier PG if Derrick Rose isn’t available? I’d say no. Do they draft Rose if he is available? I don’t see how they couldn’t… regardless of what they plan on doing with Telfair and Foye.

It wasn’t long ago that Foye was considered our “point guard of the future.” Who knows, maybe he will still end up becoming so. No one really knows right now. Much further evaluation is needed both upon the guys on our squad and the options available in the draft and free agency.

As for free agent point guards, I don’t really see any guys available (within reason) that I’m too interested in… especially considering our lack of available salary space. I’d prefer we don’t waste the MLE this season either. There’s nothing worse than spending the MLE just to spend it. I enjoy checking out fake potential trades and whatnot every now and then, but it’s largely a waste of time to pontificate about trades because our Front Office is just so unpredictable.*

* That was my nice term for “incompetent.”

4) Is Marko Jaric still dating Adriana Lima? If not, do you think you can get us her number?

CW - Fortunately for him (and unfortunately for the rest of us), yes, they are still dating. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but even if I had her number I’m thinking I probably wouldn’t share it with too many people. Here are some recent photos on The Big Lead of the seemingly happy couple. Extra Credit to Marko for looking like a stud in a flannel shirt.

5) Who is more maddening to root for: Antoine Walker or Ricky Davis?

CW - I think it’s hands down, Ricky Davis. I think the main reason is that he teases and tantalizes fans with his athleticism and the occasional “outbreak” game, only to revert back to his jumpshot clanging self the very next day. Seriously, RD has got to be towards the top of the list of players that could go out on any given night and either drop 40 points… or go 1 of 15 from the field. You know what you are getting out on the court with “The Toine.” Namely, a 31 year old player that looks like he’s 41, and plays like he’s 61. He can’t really shoot, defend, or do much of anything… hence there are little to no expectations. Anything he contributes is gravy. Ricky, on the other hand, is capable of averaging nearly 20 points a game, which has always baffled me. Another thing that made Ricky Davis more maddening to watch was the fact that he was basically our second option for a team trying to compete in the Western Conference. The most maddening thing about The Toine the past month has been his whining about not getting bought out…but I can live with that. I can’t wait to start referring to him as “Antoine Walker’s Expiring Contract” next season.

Again, a big thanks to the guys at T'Wolves Blog for commiserating our similar fates this season. Make sure you check out their quality blog for loads of great content.

BallHype: hype it up!

Memphis at Minnesota - 3.19.08

Memphis is on the road again. Not that the road has been that friendly this season to the Grizz. This game will put a true face on who is tanking games and who is trying to win them. Memphis is currently half a game behind Seattle and tied with Minnesota for the 2nd worst record in the NBA. And people think it is tight at the top of the Western Conference!

Minnesota is actually winning games of late. 4-6 in their last 10 games, the TPups are seemingly starting to grow up but more likely are just getting healthy. The last two years have seen Randy Foye and Rashad McCants battle numerous injuries. Now healthy they are taking advantage of the attention that Al Jefferson draws down low to punish teams from the perimeter.

Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Randy Foye
This is an interesting match up. Randy Foye is more of a scoring guard than a true point guard like Conley but he is very good scoring the ball against weaker defenders and when he is hot he is close to unstoppable. His 41.6 FG% should tell you that he isn't hot nearly as often as he believes himself to be. Foye tied his career high of 28 points on March 8th however so he is playing well right now. Conley is a set up man who looks to others first. That isn't bad on a team that looks for their own shots first as well. Mike is not as good shooting the ball especially from long range.
Advantage: Minnesota

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Marco Jaric

Mike Miller is still in Memphis but it is anyone's guess if he is happy about this or not. He's having the 2nd best year of his career but without Pau Gasol around the shots have been more difficult of late. His scoring and shooting percentages are both at low marks for the season right now. Jaric is a transplanted PG who can punish teams if they leave him alone but isn't looking to shoot first. His size should help him against Miller but his defense isn't good enough if Mike is feeling like playing hard.
Advantage: Memphis

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Kirk Snyder

Kirk Snyder was a back up shooting guard in Houston and is now the starting small forward in Minnesota. He should feel good about getting into the lineup but seeing his old team run off 22 straight wins can't feel good. Snyder is undersized to play Rudy and will struggle to get his shot off as well. Rudy is struggling right now but should look at this game as a chance to shine a little.
Advantage: Memphis

Power Forwards: Hakim Warrick vs Ryan Gomes

Both of these PF's are undersized at their position but only Hakim plays like he realizes this. Gomes (a 2nd rd pick of Chris Wallace's) has been working hard to justify his starting role but teams are learning how to play against him. Gomes has struggled to get his shot off inside and doesn't appear to have the range to hit from the outside. This makes it difficult for him to score and his rebounding is sub-par. Hakim has flourished in his starting role and is averaging nearly 17 ppg and over 8 rpg as a starter. The problem with Hakim is the team's defense suffers when he is in the game. He will have to focus on his job.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Al Jefferson

Al Jefferson was a relative unknown a little over a year ago. He is unknown no longer. The second Wallace draft pick traded from the Celtics to the TWolves for Kevin Garnett to start, Jefferson is making Kevin McHale look a lot smarter than some people gave him credit for when he traded KG. Jefferson is averaging over 21 ppg and 11 rpg while being the only threat on the TWolves roster. Jefferson does a lot of damage on the offensive glass as well (2nd in the NBA in offensive rebounds). Darko has been up and down according to the opponent. Darko has done far better against the higher rated big men. It will take a big effort on Darko's part to contain Jefferson. The good news is that Darko seems to also have big games when playing against fellow Serbs and Jaric is from Serbia.
Advantage: Minnesota

Benches: Memphis vs Minnesota

Two teams building for the future through the draft and with young players. Memphis has 5 players 22 or younger who contribute on the team. Minnesota has Corey Brewer and Sebastian Telfair as the only players that young on their team. So why does Minnesota seem to be the younger team? Maybe because the Twolves have 7 players with less than 4 years experience in the league. Of course Memphis has 8 players that fit that bill. The TWolves bench is led by Rashad McCants and his 14.3 ppg. He is deadly from the perimeter. Craig Smith has improved on his rookie campaign but is looking closer to the top of his potential. Corey Brewer is struggling as most rookies do but plays excellent defense and has put up some big games (18 rebounds in a game for example). Whatever happened to Antoine Walker however? Memphis' bench is led by rookie Juan Carlos Navarro and 2nd yr (barely) Kyle Lowry. The front court is a mess off the bench with Collins, Brown and Cardinal looking to help out as much as possible but rarely doing much in that regard. Still two guards are better than one.
Advantage: Memphis

Relevant Blogs/Website Links
T'Wolves Blog
Timberwolves Today
Wolves Watch

BallHype: hype it up!

Verbal Abuse?

You are being issued a warning that the comments, gestures, and/or behaviors that you have directed at players, coaches, game officials and/or other spectators constitute excessive verbal abuse and are in violation of the NBA Fan Code of Conduct. This is the first and only warning you will receive. If, after receiving this warning, you verbally abuse any player, coach, game official or spectator, you will be immediately ejected from FedEx Forum without refund.

At first I thought this was a joke.

Unfortunately, it wasn't. An official handed this to a well-known caller on Memphis sports radio, and noted referee critic, 'Louisville' Richard at the Charlotte Game on Monday night.

Now it was St. Patrick's Day and I am sure Richard had his 'Irish' up sitting courtside for the game but I have had the joy and amusement of sitting next to him many times over the years and he never uses profanity or derogatory names or gestures. He does give refs a hard time but it is always meant to be funny not abusive. I would describe him as humorously insulting at best.

What is happening here? Are fans not supposed to abuse the opponents, refs, etc in an attempt to influence actions on the court? Isn't that the basic reason some teams have a home court advantage over other teams? Isn't the team begging people to come out to games so we can have the home court advantage other teams enjoy?

And what is the NBA Fan Code of Conduct anyway?

I looked in the NBA Rulebook and there is no mention of such a code. I did a google search and did find this however from
Guests will enjoy the basketball experience free from disruptive behavior, including foul or abusive language or obscene gestures.

So I guess the key deterimant is what do you feel is abusive. Is making fun of Damon Jones' smurf mohawk haircut abusive? Is calling Drew Gooden 'Osama' because of his beard abusive? Is saying a referee's mother is ashamed of the call he just made abusive? Could you imagine a card like this being handed out at Cameron Arena (Duke)? Those crazies are nuts about their team and often times use off-colored chants to get under refs and opposing players skins.

People complain that the atmosphere at NBA games isn't the same as in college games. I guess we have one explanation now. They throw you out if you get to rambunctious.

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Power Rankings 3-17 & 18


Only one 30th ranking this week.
Nice words for Hakim by John Galinsky at Fox.
Two comments about MM and
One comment about the other Memphis BB team.

Power Rankings for 17 & 18 March '08
Mouse Over GRIZZLIES LOGO to see COMMENTS (works best with MS IE)
Click on Grizzlies logo to go to team web page for each media's web site.
other weeksAll3-103-32-252-112-41-281-21
Actual NBA SI SteinCoversSagarin CBS FOXHollinger
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Actual NBA SI SteinCoversSagarin CBS FOXHollinger