Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday Night Preview

     Here we are, another Thursday night. Another night of NBA action with four teams squaring off tonight for what looks to be some fantastic games. Dwight Howard and crew, who are coming off a 3 game winning streak, are set to face the Heatles on their own stage. Then the now superstar-less Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz battle. Who will prevail tonight? Well, let's break things down and I'll give you my pick.

Orlando Magic (39-22) at Miami Heat (43-17)

     They don't have to travel far to face their state sharing enemies, but with such a big game on the line it may be a good thing for the Magic to not have a severe case of jet lag. With the regular season's end quickly creeping up this match-up could very well be a strong preview of what's to come playoff time.

     The Heat just acquired veteran guard Mike Bibby, as I discussed in my last article, who could be a strong factor in tonight's game. Although he is new to the system, if he can hit a shooting rhythm and space the floor with the Big Three I expect some dangerous offense to come out of Miami. Something that could severely hurt this new look Orlando team.

LeBron sets out to have another monster game vs. the Magic,
but can he do it?
(Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
     With their mid-season acquistions of Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Gilbert Arenas this Magic team is no longer a "play hard defense, shoot a million threes team". No, they've changed direction to a Mike D'Antoni philosophy of scoring as many possible points to win the game. Granted, the upgrade to their system seems to have finally started working as the Magic have won 5 of their last 6.

     The thing to take note of though is the fact that both teams are notoriously poor against teams with a .500% record or better, especially the Heat who are a 13-14 against such teams. Now, I don't really understand how the Heat expect to go far into the playoffs when they are terrible against you know... teams that are in the playoff race, but hey I could be wrong. Maybe BronBron will set off for another 51-point night against the Magic? Although, the way Superman has been playing as of late I don't see that happening.

     What I do see happening is this:
  • Dwight Howard will continue to play on Ultimate Beast Mode.
  • The Magic will go guns blazin' to try and outscore the Heat.
  • Mike Bibby will perform solidly, but not near the level the Heat would like of him.
  • Dwayne Wade will suck against a good team.
  • Chris Bosh will complain and look like a fish.
     Home-court is always a factor when it comes to these kind of games, but the way the Orlando Magic have been playing as of late it's hard to not acknowledge that. I don't see this Heat team losing to the Magic by much, but I do predict them to be the winner in the end. Dwight Howard is polishing his offensive game on a day-to-day basis and the remainder of his team are slowly beginning to pick up the slack.

The Magic are on a roll and Dwight Howard is at his finest, but can they capitalize
and defeat the Heat?
     Bibby may be a dark horse, but I think not. He's not into the system yet and even with the Heatles around him I don't think he will mesh well quickly. Not to mention his shooting has been horrendous his last couple of games. Although, when you have LeBron James on your team it's hard to make an argument that you won't win, but you can't deny the facts of how Superman's Crew is playing. All in all though I have the Magic winning over the Heat, but not by much.

Winner: Orlando Magic

     Like I said, Ultimate Beast Mode.

Denver Nuggets (36-26) at Utah Jazz (32-29)

     Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams. Two of the biggest names in basketball, two of the best players at not only their respective positions but in the entire league. They were the faces of their respective franchises and recently were both traded off to different teams due to their lack of interest in staying with the team that drafted them.

The Denver Nuggets are red-hot right now and
guard J.R. Smith is a factor in that.
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
     Was it the right decision to let go of these players? To an idiot, no. To someone who could see that they would just leave when free agency hit and that they gained something in trading them, yes. Although, how prominent will these respective teams be without their superstars? Not to mention, how exciting would a game without them be? In my opinion, they will still be great teams and it will still be a great game. Let me elaborate.

     Both the Nuggets and the Jazz not only acquired a handful of solid players after trading off their respective superstars, but they both lacked immense amounts of depth before they left. This is why I believe both teams will still be very viable teams as the season progresses and for seasons to come. The Nuggets though clearly seem to be the better, for the time being at least.

     It's not a bold statement to say either as they've been consistently proving they can still compete in this league without the likes of superstars. They smashed the Grizzlies (the 8th seed in the West) without either Chauncey Billups, Carmelo, or any of their trade acquistions. They beat the best team in the East, the Boston Celtics, by 14 points. They lost to the Portland Trailblazers by 1 point, but then came back with two strong victories. They beat the strong Atlanta Hawks by 10 and obliterated the Charlotte Bobcats by 30. Carme-who?

     The crazy thing about the Nuggets roster though is their lack of eye-popping names. They just have consistently solid players who with much chemistry are forming together to be a tough group to fight, not to mention they are slowly winning me over this season. The Jazz on the other hand are severely injury plagued, but take away the injuries I believe they have a roster to still compete at a high level in the WC.
Recent acquisition Devin Harris looks to lead
 the Jazz but is he big enough for dos' britches?

     A starting line-up consisting of Devin Harris, Raja Bell, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap, and Al Jefferson. Not to mention a bench with names such as youngsters Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Mehmet Okur, and C.J Miles. As I stated in my article discussing the Deron Williams trade, there are many scenarios here with this group they have.

     They could blossom the talent they have under a new head coach, and become a dangerous Western Conference team or they could fizzle into worthlessness. It's up to them at this point. Devin Harris has the potential to be a solid point guard, by no means Deron Williams, but solid. Their rookies have talent as well, but it's how the Jazz develop that. If anything they are trade fodder for the future. They have the names to be better than this Nuggets team, but with injuries and other persistent problems it's up-in-the-air if anything will become of them, and that is why I believe this Nuggets team will be the victor tonight.

     The Nuggets are hitting a late season run without their superstar and veteran leader Chauncey. Their chemistry is stronger than ever and they are not only beating strong teams, but blowing some teams out substainially. The Jazz could be a surprise in tonight's game because as I said they have the talent to be strong, but the way they are being used it horribly. Sorry Jazz players, but if you don't use the talent you have you can expect a lot Birdman antics while you lose. So if you don't to be annoyed by a sub-par, Travis Barker NBA version, then don't lose. I still have you losing though, so bird on Birdman, bird on.

     Winner: Denver Nuggets

     Thank you very much for reading: The Technical Foul! Be sure to subscribe to our new RSS feed at the top of the page, or to follow the blog itself. If you have any comments about your predictions of tonight's game, or you want to rub it in my face when I'm wrong then check out the comment box below! Thank you very much!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

More change around the league.

     The Trade Deadline has came and went, but even after the all the crazy trades that passed by the league keeps stirring up more and more player related events. Buyouts, free agency signings, extensions, and injuries. You name it and it's going on. I would like to take a look at the more memorable moments that have been occurring. Here is my break-down of some of the bigger events:

  • Miami Heat part ways with Carlos Arroyo to clear a roster spot for recently bought out point man, Mike Bibby.
  • Thunder sign recently aquired Kendrick Perkins to an extension.
  • Spurs floor general Tony Parker is out 2-4 weeks with a left calf strain.

Carlos Arroya out, Mike Bibby in.

     Now that the buyout "season" has begun it didn't take long for brand-new Washington Wizards guard Mike Bibby to get the boot and head off to a title contender. Although nothing is 100% official, it's safe to say that within the next day the deal will be done. This is big news for the Heat. Big news in a small package. 

Mike Bibby looks to help the Heat take the East with his veteran experience.
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
     Bibby is what the Heat desperately need. Although they may have the Heatles, what they don't have is a great point inside their ranks. Mario Chalmers is young and has the raw talent to improve, but apart from that they run dry and this is where Bibby will come in as he brings quite a few beneficial things to Miami. 

     Often regarded as a sharpshooter by many, Bibby will be another three point threat that compliments the play-styles of MVP candidates James and Wade. Personally, I haven't seen too many point guards shoot as well as he can but does it really matter? When you have a team consisting of three superstars, two of which act as secondary point guards, being the point guard only goes so far. If Bibby plays into the system the way he should by taking the ball up occasionally and making his outside shots, keep your eyes peeled East. Being only a game behind the Celtics to take lead of the Eastern Conference (which I don't think will take long after their stupid trades).

     Bibby's acquisition will help fine tune this team to an even scarier level, and now in his 13th season Bibby will also add in the power of experience alongside his shooting. An older point with more playoff appearances than any other member of his respective team? You've got yourself the token "playoff tested veteran.". The Heat just keep getting scarier as the days progress, but how far can they really go? Will Bibby be a hero or a flop? Only time will tell.

Perkins gets signed, wait didn't he just get there?

Perkins defensive presence will be a definite factor
 for the Thunder.

(Photo by Jim Rogash/ Getty Images)
     As I discussed in my last article, I wasn't to understanding as to why the Celtics got rid of "The Scowl", Kendrick Perkins. A dominant defensive inside presence, Perkins was the key to helping the Celtics when in comes playoff time. Yet, in an odd turn of events he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder and things got even weirder from there. Today, Kendrick Perkins was offered a four-year, $34.8 million dollar contract extension by his newly acquired team, and the thing is: he hasn't even played a single game for them yet.

     Don't take the Thunder's GM's for fools though, because in my eyes they are doing everything right. After disposing of a otherwise useless undersized power forward in Jeff Green and a foreign "nightmare" in Nenad Krstic, they landed an underpaid big man with a fantastic work ethic. I get tickled pink just thinking about this deal. With a superstar under their wing (Kevin Durant) and another one in the making (Russell Westbrook), the Thunder are beginning to build a legitimate team around the dynamic duo. 

    Before you go around spouting "how stupid to sign a guy who hasn't even played for you yet!" just take a second and think. The guy has time during his injury to learn the system, not to mention the years on out. He's at a ripe age of 26, and he's as big as they come. They don't need a superstar in him, they have two. The Thunder's GM creatively and intelligently added a desperately needed inside force to this Thunder team. I say bravo to you GM Sam Presti, bravo indeed. 

You, Sam Presti, are awarded a 5/5 on the Sam Cassell's "I love this" scale.

Sam "loves" this.
Frenchie down, I repeat Frenchie down.

     The NBA's top team has finally gotten it's first significant injury. In a season with amazing success and unusual health (especially for the old men on this team) the San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker is out 2-4 week with a left calf injury.

     How will this effect the now 49-10 Spurs? With the new and improved, non-boring, quick style of offense the Spurs are running this season how badly will losing their speedy point hurt them? In my eyes it will to an extent, but it won't kill them. With the greatest Power Forward of all-time on your team, the genuine bat killer Manu Ginobili, and plain ol' Richard Jefferson I believe the Spurs will be aye-okay. A stunning blow yes, but nothing that's going to sink them in a straight loss category until Parker returns.

Expect the duo of Manu and Duncan to lead the Spurs to contiual victories
even without Parker.

     With the solid George Hill filling in for the Frenchman expect nothing to change of the Spurs as they continue their quick style of offense. Gregg Popovich is an amazing coach and he's dealt with injuries before. Spurs, keep on keepin' on. I like watching you silently tear up the league. 
     Thank you all for reading: The Technical Foul! Keep checking back for new articles daily!

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