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NBA Playoff Update

Derrick Rose’s solo act is breathtaking, but how far will it take the Bulls? The Spurs need help, Carmelo tarnishes an amazing performance, & the 76ers get a poor return on investment… err investments.

Bulls need more than Rose.
Derrick Rose has been nothing short of amazing in the first two games against the Indiana Pacers. Despite Chicago’s struggles, Rose has carried his team to a 2-0 series lead. His performances have validated his MVP season and unfortunately, my belief the Bulls will fall short of the NBA Finals.

As great as Rose is, one player isn’t enough to win in the playoffs in May and June. The Pacers lack an inside presence to deter Rose from attacking the Rim. They also lack a perimeter defender quick enough to stay in front of him. If the Magic survive the Hawks, Dwight Howard will be greeting Rose at the rim, forcing the All-Star guard to knock down perimeter shots. Keeping Rose out of the paint increases Chicago’s need for additional scorers. In case you haven’t noticed, no one has stepped up to help carry the offensive load. Carlos Boozer has perfected the playoff disappearance act (everyone in Salt Lake City just nodded in agreement), and Luol Deng is a complementary player that can’t carry a team offensively. In other words, Chicago’s entire offense rests upon Rose’s shoulders.

The pressure from opposing defenses and the burden to score will only increase as the playoffs continue. The Pacers don’t have the horses or the defensive continuity to handle Rose. The Magic, Heat and Celtics, however, do. At that time, it will be up to Rose’s supporting cast to help carry the Bulls to the next round. Based on what we’ve seen in the regular season and in the playoffs, they don’t appear up to the challenge.

The Spurs need David Robinson but should settle for Tiago Splitter
Obviously, I’m not an NBA coach. On the “NBA Titles” scoreboard, Gregg Popovich has four. I have zero – with zero appearances and zero NBA wins. So yeah, I’m not qualified. However, I watch a lot of basketball. I like to think I know a thing or two about the game. With that said, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the San Antonio Spurs were abused by Zack Randolph and Marc Gasol on Sunday in game one of their Western Conference playoff series.

Antonio McDyess wasn’t/isn’t physical enough to handle the brute force of Randolph. DeJuan Blair has the toughness, but lacks the height and experience to slow such a savvy low post player. Putting Matt Bonner on Randolph equates to a band-aid on a knife wound. Tim Duncan is undoubtedly the best option to contain Randolph. However, defending him would probably put Duncan in foul trouble, therefore limiting his availability and effectiveness on the offensive end.

So what’s the solution? A combination of Blair and Tiago Splitter, of course. Blair has the body type to pound with Randolph. Splitter has the length. A steady diet of the two throughout Wednesday’s game should limit the damage inflicted by Randolph. I know Pop trusts Splitter as much as I believe Andy Reid when he says “we gotta do a better job there,” but still, the Spurs need Splitter’s defense. Even if he’s inserted to defend Gasol so Duncan can move to Randolph from time to time. At this point, anything to slow Memphis inside the paint would help.

Let’s be honest, though, neither Blair nor Splitter will prevent Randolph from posting another 20 and 10. But the inexperienced tandem is young enough to combat Randolph with relentless energy. At the very least, they would (or at least should) make Randolph work for his points and rebounds. In game one, Randolph took whatever he wanted whenever he wanted it. Making him work is half the battle. Splitter and Blair, in my opinion, give the Spurs their best chance at winning the war.

Also, it’d been nice if George Hill made an appearance in game two.

(By the way, my brother is a ginormous Spurs fan and he vehemently disagrees that Splitter will make a difference. He argues Splitter doesn’t know what he’s doing and therefore, Pop doesn’t trust him. Personally, I think my brother just doesn’t like Brazilians.)

Carmelo doesn’t seem to get it.
In case you missed the end of another thrilling Knicks-Celtics game, the Celtics inbounded the ball to Delonte West streaking into the backcourt with just under four seconds remaining and Boston up one. To everyone’s surprise, the Knick defender responsible for West (ahh ehhm, Carmelo Anthony) didn’t chase West into the backcourt to deny him the ball. Once the ball was inbounded, Anthony lazily pursued West despite desperately needing to foul as quickly as possible. Here’s Carmelo’s response to the inbound situation following the game:

“I couldn’t get out there (laughs), I couldn’t get out there. I don’t want to fall flat now… A lot of us thought that the ball was coming in the frontcourt; he threw it in the backcourt. That took a lot of time off the clock. But you know, you gotta take your hat off to Doc for drawing up a hell of a play like that.”

Really, ‘Melo?  A “hell of a play?” It was an inbounds play intended to go to, shockingly, the open player. When you give your guy 20 feet of space, it’s most likely he’ll be the open player. Doc’s play was nothing spectacular. Carmelo’s defense, on the other hand, was embarrassing. Based on his postgame attitude, I think it’s safe to assume ‘Melo was content with the outcome because he played so well. George Karl is smiling somewhere.

RIP 2010-2011 76ers
Remember when I wrote about the 76ers investing over half of their cap in two undeserving players? Well, two games into Philadelphia’s first round series with the Miami Heat, Elton Brand is 9/19 for 20 points. Andre Iquodala is 4/15 with 9 points. In other words, the 76ers are getting zilch from two players they’re stuck with for the foreseeable future AND paying superstar dollars for at the same time. Congratulations Ed Stefanski. You make me miss Billy King.

2 Comments

  1. brother

    For the record, I have no ill feelings towards Brazilians. They are wonderful people who can play basketball extremely well. Splitter is simply not ready. New Spurs always need at least one year before Pop even thinks about trusting them. I’m not saying Splitter should stay on the bench, because I think using him as a foul sponge could work.

    But the bigger issue is two-fold: the Spurs need to do a much better job at finishing at the rim and Manu needs to get back, soon. The three wasn’t falling, but it won’t at the same rate as the regular season. Tony missed too many layups regardless of being fouled or whatever else. He was torching them early, but let his misses shy him away down the stretch. Manu will fix the Randolph problem to a degree. He slashes, drives, draws foul, and with attack Randolph offensively. I foresee foul trouble for either Gasol, Randolph, or both in Game 2. Manu will have THAT much of a difference.

  2. Ryan (Author)

    Noted.
    Parker, Hill, and McDyess shot a combined 7/28. I highly doubt that will repeat. On the other hand, the Spurs won’t shoot 47 free throws either, so Manu will need to be the difference.

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