Thursday, February 24, 2011

Out With the Cold, In With the New

After the first few months of NBA basketball, I’ve learned two things. 1. The Eastern Conference is slowly becoming stronger than the Western Conference, and 2. There’s no such thing as loyalty in basketball these days. Today I’m going to talk about #1, so save your e-mails attacking me for dissing LeBron James and Carlos Boozer.

Here are a couple of things I’ve noticed as we enter the final third of the NBA season.

In the Spring, the Garden Flourishes

Amare Stoudemire himself proclaimed that the “old Garden” is back. With the addition of Carmelo Anthony, New York is a step closer to reliving its glory days in the 90’s, except now the people of the Madison Square Garden are hoping Stoudemire can do what Patrick Ewing couldn’t-win a championship. The Knicks are surely going to miss Danillo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. I’d include Raymond Felton, but Chauncey Billups is a decent replacement despite his decrepit body. The Knicks are going to struggle with surrounding their stars with effective role players, just like the Heat did previously this season. Aside from Anthony, Stoudemire, and Billups, New York’s roster is like bringing in Justin Beiber for the Celebrity All-Star game. There’s no talent, but we all know it’s necessary. Somehow the Knicks managed to retain Landry Fields, who seems to have a bright future ahead of him. I think the Knicks will earn a decent seed in the playoffs, but I don’t see a championship in New York’s near future. If they can somehow get Chris Paul in blue and orange next summer, the Knicks will have a legit shot at success down the road.

The Heat Take No Spring Break

Whether you supported them at the beginning of the season or not, you knew-everybody knew- that the Heat were going to be a top-tier team in the East. There’s just too much talent to deny that Miami would be successful. It was only a matter of time before all of the players gelled together. Winners of 11 out of the last 12, the Heat are (cheesy alert!) “heating” up again. ESPN has reported that Miami is shopping Mike Miller, which makes me refer to the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Seriously Miami. Mike Miller is no LeBron, Wade, or Bosh. He is what we analysts define as a “role player.” Mike Miller shoots the basketball. Just because James Jones got lucky and won the 3 point contest doesn’t mean he is a consistent outside shooter. If you get rid of Miller, Jones is your only semi-reliable deep threat. It’s not like Miller’s play has been detrimental to the team. I understand that he’s getting old, but he’s got great size for a shooting guard at 6’8, he averages 12 rebounds per 48 minutes, and in the month of February he’s shooting 50% from beyond the arc. He’s only a role player. What more can you ask of him? Regardless, the Heat are a strong team and come April they’ll likely be rolling on all cylinders. Miami is the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.

Closing statements:

I’ve never seen a player so glorified just because he can dunk. Blake Griffin, I will have respect for you when you hit a jump shot.

To Chris Paul – Just because you are counting down the days until your free agency doesn’t mean you have to play below your career averages. You are in your prime. Act like it. Everyone knows you can do a lot better than 16 points and 9 assists.

Gilbert Arenas is a joke.

Don’t count the Lakers out yet. Yes, they lost to the league’s worst team, but they don’t care. Wait until the playoffs start, then you will see the real Los Angeles team that you so dearly love or hate.

Watch out for Dallas, no one talks about them but they are quietly sitting at second place in the Western Conference standings with an impressive 41-16 record.

The 26-30 Pacers on pace to make the playoffs. What is wrong with this world?

I hope everyone is looking forward to the end of the season as much as I am. If not, at least enjoy the beautiful spring weather.