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Your No. 1 blog source for rantings on The Sonics, The NBA, Voodoo, Chicken Bones, and Penis Invertings

debating the debatable

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Pity me... & call 1-800-C O L L E C T

I've been MIA for a while and feel like I must apologize to the 1 or 2 folk that get lost in this wide WWW and find themselves on this site.

I've been meaning to jump into an argument that I've been having with Matt at Spursblog for quite some time regarding the enigma that doth be Manu Ginobili; In particular, where does he rank in comparison to The Crybaby, Jesus, or that's Mr. Shuttlesworth if you're nasty, (actually the best nickname i've found so far for Allen is Sugar Ray, which originated for me at least from the sonics vs. the world blog guy.)

Unfortunately, I've been extremely busy doing non-scratching my balls and typing about it stuff that I haven't been able to maintain a steady dose of retardedness on this blog. Hopefully when I get settled down in Cali, that'll change. Hopefully.

The other reason I haven't been able to set forth a firm opinion on the whole thing is the hugantic nature of the task itself. I've been dying to respond intelligently, but the thing is... I can't.

Hi: My name is Booth52, and up to about a year ago, I was a complete idiot(Hello booth), as opposed to being just a partial one now. I had no knowledge whatsoever of eFG's and TPS's (Lumbeeeerg!!!!! Just-a-moooo-ment!), +/-'s and PERs. 82 games was nary a blimp on my radar, and APBR sounded like something I'd definitely want to avoid. But now that I have 82games.com, APBR.com, & Basketball-reference.com, and the vast amount of wealth of knowledgable NBA fans with keyboards all over the place, my life has changed, for the better, and so can yours!!(insert wink here, accompanied with pearly white smile, front tooth sparkling)

Matt's been deluging me and basketball blogging surfers everywhere with pretty damning evidence that Manu is providing to show that he is indeed a MF'ing A player (Manu, not Matt), and quite possibly the better of Mr. Shuttlesworth (....gasp!! air! i need air!) The gawdy PPS, +/-, PPG, the defense, the hair, the Divac-esque Oscar performances... the COMPLETE package peeps. My flippant replies to him have I believe both infuriated and discredited any semblance of intelligence I may have tricked him into believing I had.

But while the playoff PPS numbers that Ginobili has thrown out this year are in all likelihood valid, the Fact that Danny Schayes (WTF is Danny Schayes anyways?! Is he white? Can I score his jersey? Cop his CD?) is the all time leader and that Baron Davis and BJ Armstrong join the prestigious PPS list leaves me to not blindly believe the info until I can fully study and understand what the data implies. Same thing with the +/- stats. Manu is currently leading the playoff pack in this regard... but so are Alfred and E. Jones over their superhero counterparts D. Wade and Shaq. Just like there is an Antoine Walker & Reggie Evans for every PPG & RBG leaderboard, there are the Brendan Haywoods' of Roland Ratings, and on and on...

Well whoop-tee-f**king-doo... but what does it all mean Basil?

Here's the gist: I'm not fully comfortable yet with my understanding of these numbers to go fully agreeing or disagreeing with any claims based on them. If a player led the league in PPG, eFG%, PPS, +/- you'd feel comfortable with an assertion saying he's the best player in the league. But what of the numerous situations where you compare two players of similar stats, one better in one quality over another, and reverse? It's enough to drive a man crazy! NASH fo' MVP yo! No wayyy! U R sooo dumb! No, you are!! Jibba-Jabba-Jabba!!

I plan on being somewhat capable enough to throw out an informed opinion eventually. I've got a full intention of grading out the 2005 NBA Free Agent list with some form of intelligence to boldly predict the Sonics should trade for Tim Duncan should he become available, and eventually throwing out my own top 50 players or something of the sort. This whole writing down your opinions and standing by your word leaves you with the inevitable choice of a)spending large amounts of time getting your facts straight or b)eating crow (mmmmm.....). Hopefully my sloth-like nature prevents me from grabbing a fork on a regular basis. But for now, let me just end by saying: Ray Allen Roooooooolz!!!! Yeahhhh!!

The Nate McMillan Dilemma

Monday, May 23, 2005

Who do you choose?

Last year, Jim O’Brien was one of the most coveted coaches available in the 04 offseason. He ended up signing for 4yrs and 16M dollars with the Philadelphia 76ers. Today he was fired.

Two years ago, Jeff Bzdelik was being touted as a coaching mastermind, someone who optimized the abilities of a marginal to awful Nuggets squad. Half a season later, in Dec 04, he was fired and blamed by some for the lack of great play from his team. After firing Bzdelik and trying out Cooper, the Nuggets made the move to hire former Sonics coach George Karl, who seemingly propelled the team to an inspirational 2nd half run which landed them the 7th seed in the Western Conference, and the title of “team nobody wants to play in the 1st round.” Mike D’antoni was named 2005 NBA coach of the year. He’s been lauded for being the architect of the resurgent Sun’s fun & gun offense, largely by “coaching” the move of not calling too many set plays and letting Nash freestyle with his new toys in Stoudemire, Richardson, Johnson, and Marion. In 2004 Hubie Brown was named coach of the year for turning around the Memphis Grizzlies and teaching them how to play team basketball. Jerry Sloan was a close 2nd for similarly getting his no talent Jazz team to outperform expectations and flirt with a playoff seeding. One year later, pretty much the exact same Grizzlies team struggled out the gate and Hubie resigned due to health reasons. In Utah, the Jazz upgraded players but still had one of their worst seasons….

In 2004-05 Nate McMillan "led" a Sonics team, which for the most part remained the same personnel wise from the year before, to a 15 game turnaround and a NW division title.

Before going further I think it'd be appropriate to lay out a few job requirements & qualities that should be the basis of evaluating a coach:

Mandatory Coach skills that are readily observed & evaluated:

Game management:
Proper player time distribution- knowing to play Ray Allen 38 minutes and Mattin Cleaves 0. Proper planning such that you almost always have at least one of your 2 stars, main scoring options on the court at all times.
Proper usage of timeouts: example- when you’re team is getting a 15-3 run shoved down their throats by the opposing team and the players have that deer in headlights face going on.

The X’s and O’s:
Play calling during game- (especially if team IQ is marginal, i.e. you don’t have a john Stockton type running the point able to understand to throw the ball down to your money player, recognize mismatches etc.) Having a play ready for a down by 1 with 2 seconds remaining situation. Game planning for opposing teams, specific matches/mismatches. Adjustment to in game flows/injuries/trends etc.
Overall team style & emphasis- determining offensive sets that team should use based on coach’s knowledge & preference & personnel. Should I run the triangle offense to get my superstar open looks? Is this team properly built to run a full tempo game? Should we slow it down? Give the bigs the green light to go aggressively for the offensive rebound and accept a decrease in transition defense? 6-7 man rotation or 8-10 man rotation? Does personnel allow me favorable small 5 man lineups? Yadda yadda yadda.

The intangibles:
qualities that are more ambiguous, not easily quantified/observed.

In game- Can he light a fire in his team during halftime or during a timeout called while the other team is making a run? Or settle them down if need be?
Season wise, can the coach pull the team together in the midst of a losing streak? Keep them focused during a winning streak? Avoid the letdown game against the Charlotte Hornets?

I think the first set of coaching “skills” should be considered mandatory. Furthermore, being their profession, the more basic abilities should be as comparatively simple as tying one’s shoelaces or being able to pee upright. The intangible set... that is something that I leave to the Walton's & John Thompson's of the world to analyze.

Here’s another caveat. I’m not sure if everyone is aware of this but most teams actually employ more than one coach! The Sonics are blessed to have Dwayne Casey & Bob Weiss as assistant coaches to Mcmillan. Both are highly regarded in the league, and I believe one of the two actually came close to landing the head coaching job several years ago over Nate. Popovich has Carlesimo in San Antonio, Don Nelson had Avery while he was leading the Mavs. What of these assistant coaches? How much do they contribute?

Phil Jackson is widely regarded to be a great coach. If I were to guess, I believe knowledgeable NBA minds would say he’s a great game management coach, with a high basketball IQ, & a great motivator. Obvious qualities he does possess, mmm-hmmm, intangibles see not you he holds as well, mmm-hmmm.

But he was also paid 6M a year while with the Lakers and rumors persist that it will require even more to sign him this offseason. You know what? If you’re a team like the Lakers 02-04, with the personnel set up for a title run, with the cash flow available to throw 6M a year to a coach and still be able to employ a couple of superstars and some moderately priced role players, I’d say employing Jackson would be a good decision.

So, I guess the question I’m getting at is this. Is the head coach truly deserving of all the praise lavished on a good coaching job and similarly do they deserve blame for a poor team performance in turn? If the guys at APBR ever could (and, really if anyone can, it’s gonna be the guys at that think tank.) I’d love to see someone come up with something similar to a win share analysis that shows the extent a coach can have on the impact of a game and season.

I don’t know. I do not fully discount the possibility that a coach can have as much of an impact as a player. What I tend to believe at the moment, without hard data to prove one way or the other, is that a coaches ability to affect a team’s success is overestimated by many. I believe there is more evidence, and it stands to logical reason, that the players themselves have a more decided outcome on the games.

In regards to the Seattle situation, let’s be realistic: the Sonics are strapped for cash. Apparently the guys up top bought a house with an interest rate 10 points higher than every other homeowner, then witnessed a few years later the market actually dictate banks/cities were actually obligated to pay for half of their house. A combination of bad luck, poor foresight has left the Sonics’ in the unenviable position of being in a decent market, yet still struggling to break even, even in combination with staying under the salary cap. Sad.

So, if Mcmillan gets an offer of 4 years 20M contract, give or take, I vote to let him walk. Promote Dwayne Casey or Bob Weiss to the head coach position at a more palatable 1-1.5M per year, & have the Sonic genius duo of Dean Oliver and Rich Cho pluck out an adequate assistant coach from the discount bin and do the same thing all over again when should the market dictate Casey/Wise deserve a large contract of their own.

The Sonics have a multitude of holes to fill this offseason and a minimal budget from which to do so. A player will have an infinitely further reaching impact on the game and season outcome than the guy who gets paid to prop up a designer suit, cross his arms, look constipated at appropriate times, have the ultimate self control to never pick his nose during game time, and master the pat a player on the butt as he comes in from a timeout move. Let’s understand this and spread the wealth accordingly.

Just to infuriate (myself even) I’d like to close with the old cliché:

Great players make great plays. The game is won on the court by the players.

Recent NBA Coach contracts:
Avery Johnson: 4 year 10M contract (this year)
Jeff Van Gundy 4 year 18 million dollar contract. (2003- in 2005 he got extension of unknown amount)
Jim O’brien: 4 year 16M contract (last year)
Larry Brown: 5 years 25M (2 or 3 years ago)
Phil Jackson- 5 year 30M deal with Lakers, new contract supposedly will trump this contract.
Popovich- 3yr 20M extension (back in 03, but for duties as Spurs coach and GM)

Random observation:
On the 3pm pac time SC, Rachel Nichols was doing a spot from the Miami arena pre game 1 Heat vs. Pistons: Behind her was some stupid heat dance team comprised of 20 or so senior citizens practicing a Macarena dance bit that will be unleashed to a game 1 crowd that will undoubtedly giggle at the cuteness/absurdity of it all and politely clap thereafter.

Here’s the kicker, the Heat are in Miami. Miami. A city I’m told that is teeming with beautiful women, silicone & saline implants so abundant, they'll have to brush them away from their faces. Is there really a need to go after the old folks doing a dance/action primarily done by young folk, therefore it’s funny yuk-yuk-yuk shtick? The Mariners pull this gag EVERY f**king game here at Safeco with their grounds keeping crew doing their thang, but it’s somewhat understandable cause a) it’s a baseball game with a different demographic b) it’s a baseball game and for some inexplicable reason I’m sure is associated with the words “Tradition, pastime, America’s, favorite,” MLB doesn’t do cheerleaders, or “dancers” as I believe they prefer to be called, & c) it’s Seattle and we simply don’t have the beauty pool that Miami does.

Oh yeah, and Rachel Nichols... I like her. Alot. I particularly enjoy her lisp, specifically how she closes with “from (insert location here), this is Rachel Nichols, E S Peyyeeennn.” I believe I may be the only person in the world who gets such a kick out of such a small detail. Yeah.

An introduction long overdue

Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Some of you may know this already, but prior to this site, I was writing in another site: www.supersonicsoul.com. First off, it’s a great site. Nice look, good content, if you’re a Sonics fan and aren't already doing so, I suggest taking frequent trips there sometime.

My first post originated quite simply out of 1) boredom, & 2) a keen interest in the NBA, particularly the Sonics, being that I’ve lived in the emerald city for the past 8 years. To reiterate, I should not be considered to be a diehard fan. Plain & simple truth; I have no storied past of following this team since childhood, for which I both admire and feel sorry for those diehards who have lived and died with this team, through the good and the bad.

Well, in the midst of a 2-3 month long sabbatical from work, I was finally able to come along The Soul in my internet meandering. I admired their devotion to their team, and in pure innocence wrote my first bit on the Supes and emailed it to them. Paul, who I believe created the site, was awesome about the whole thing, and did me the huge honor of posting my email on his site. Before the ink was even dry on that 1st post, I had already emailed Paul my 2nd one and, realizing it was the only course of action that would free him of my pestering, he actually gave me the keys to the Porsche, and direct access to post on Supersonicsoul.

First off, I really need to say thank you to Paul & Supersonicsoul for the generosity and opportunity they gave me. It should have been noted much earlier, in huge bold print the minute I started this mockery of a site. I had an absolute blast posting on The Soul and have nothing but best wishes for Paul and the site. I hope it continues to flourish.

So why the hell am I here on this blog now? Quite simply, creative differences. I needed an outlet to talk about stuff that was heavy on my mind that was non-sonics related, like why Betty Rubble is hotter than Wilma Flinstone, the time I dropped a deuce that looked like Elvis, or reason #2,068 The Creek didn’t actually lose it’s entertainment value at the end of it’s shelf life. And you think I’m kidding. Just wait, the 10,000 word articles are just waiting to be unleashed. I believe it will start with why The Cutting Edge was a great movie.

The other reason I left was because of a difference of opinion on how to handle good ol’ disagreements that occurred on the site. There was a tendency to take disagreements & arguments wayyyy too seriously on the site at times and, on rare occasions, to take/make it personal. I just didn’t get it. IMHO, a blog is a frikkin’ blog, and taking anything about it too seriously was just ridiculous.

So, just like Andy Dufresne, I realized it was just my time to go. I still have my clothes with which I crawled through five-hundred yards of shit smelling foulness...

And so was born booth52.blogspot.com. Anyways, thanks to all who come to my site for some strange reason. I have no idea how long I’ll be doing this, how intently I shall post, nor what future direction the blog will take. But I hope my retarted musings can at times entertain, and always be taken as the asinine, fool-hardy opinons of a madman.


"Increase the size of your log!"

Actual quote/line from my statcounter.com site. I believe it is referring to some database thingy... I think.
Coincidentally the page it was on was titled:
"Came from booth 52"

We now return you to our regularly scheduled broadcast for mature & responsible adults.

Going down the rabbit hole

2005 NBA Playoffs
Western Conference 2nd round
San Antonio Spurs vs. Seattle Supersonics
Series tied 2-2
Game 5: Tonight 6:30PM pac time at The SBC center

It's been 6 months and 1 fortnight since the 2004-05 season inagauration debacle at L.A.. More than 1/2 a year since the preseason hoopla all but buried this team and laid us to rest...

In my series prediction, I laid out a gargantuan list of things that needed to go right for the Sonics to do the impossible. I assure you, nowhere in that list did I account for 1) losing Vlad for the series, 2) Allen limping off in game 1, 3) Rashard shying away from the playoff spotlight, & d) Lewis stubbing his damn toe. It is preposterous to me what this team is doing in light of those losses. What we are witnessing right now, in my opinion, is more improbable than our season's accomplishments. The Spurs are the best team in the NBA. Yeah that's right, better than the Champs, better than The Boy Wonder and his band of misfits. Nothing will deter my opinion of this.

Yet here we are, 200 days later, watching our Sonics go into a pivotal game 5 in the Second round of the playoffs against The Mighty Spurs. Still standing: chest out, chin up. And tied 2-2. Un-f**king-real. I've blatantly pirated Simmons' material, joking about cutting the mighty Russian, Drago being the Spurs. The Supes have been hit below the belt with a wicked haymaker, and are sporting a swollen left eye that can barely be seen out of... And yet the Russian is STILL bleeding, in complete disbelief that his opponent yet remains standing.

I'm completely incapable of making further predictions on this series. That rabbit hole beckons; there is no way of knowing what lays beyond in the darkness. F**k it, I am officially jumping in.

The pilot has officially turned ON the "Believe" sign.

Sonics in 7. Onward.

Breaking down myths (or trying to at least)

Question that popped up while thinking what Luke, A.D, & Wilkins are gonna bring to the table in tomorrow's Seattle vs. San Antonio game 5 played on the road at the SBC center:

Old NBA Adage 3,059: (aka The Kenny Smith backup pre game line when I just arrived 1 minute before going on air.)
In the playoffs the homecourt advantage shows up in the performance of the role players. Role players play better at home than they do on the road. (Implications galore in this statement)

Is this adage true?

Split stat FG% 2004-2005 Season
Seattle GTG’s:
Home: 43.7 (49.3 3p%)
Road: 41.9 (40.0 3p%)
Home: 43.1 (36.9 3p%)
Road: 49.2 (43.7 3p%)
Seattle role players:
Home: 46.3 (36.1 3p%)
Road: 41.1(22.8 3p%)
Home: 39.3 (43.5 3p%)
Road: 41.8 (31.4 3p%)
Home: 53.9
Road: 47.6
Radmanovic (IR but thrown in for the hell of it):
Home: 42.3 (35.9 3p%)
Road: 35.8 (38.3 3p%)

Allen, A.D., & Rid, shot the trey considerably better at home. A.D. overall shot worse on the road. Lewis strangely shot better overall on the road.

To test out Kenny’s assertion let’s take a look at the 04-05 postseason and I’ll categorize Ridnour, & Daniels as role players and Allen as a go to guy. Please note this is a sample of a grand total of just 9 playoff games:

Home: 20-52 38.5% (3pt: 3-9 33%)
Road: 14-34 41% (3pt: 1-5 20%)
Home: 20-46 43.5% (3pt: 1-7 14%)
Road: 13-26 50% (3pt: 3-6 50%)
Home: 46-101 45% (3pt: 14-34 41%)
Road: 37-70 52% (3pt: 12-31 39%)

To properly analyze the adage we’ve got to first understand what it implies. Does it mean:
1) Role players shoot considerably worse on the road than compared to at home always? Or just in playoff games? Or in playoff games they shoot considerably worse on the road than compared to typical season road stats? Is it an implication of a large fluctuation between the two stats?
2) Does the yang to this ying exist, as I believe Kenny implies, that Go-to-guys’ fg% do not deviate as greatly as role players?
3) And of course how the hell do you define a role player exactly? The unknowns to this adage are endless.

I’ll assume it implies GTG’s road fg%’s vary slightly if at all compared role players, who should see a significant dip in season vs. playoff road shooting %.
Allen: Road % shot up from 41 to 52
(Home% roughly the same from 43 to 45%)
Rid: Road % from 42 to 41, roughly the same
(Home% roughly the same at 39%)
AD: Road % jumped from 43 to 50% in playoffs
(Home% down from 46 to 43%)

Allen & AD's road shooting % have gone up in the playoffs, while Rid's has remained steady. No conclusion at all from this mess. If anything, my hunch would be this adage holds no truth whatsoever, but being as I can’t/don’t care to spend any more time to try and prove it, I’m not gonna be throwing my own nonsense around.

(To properly analyze this adage, I would have ideally liked to get players with a large amount of games played in the playoffs for a larger sample size. I was thinking along the lines of a Steve Kerr vs. Michael Jordan postseason/reg season efg%’s comparison. Alas, there’s no site with these numbers readily available. And of course, you’d need like 25 or so Kerr-type players vs. 25 Jordan players to really begin to feel comfortable with any results… You’ve won this time Kenny… but one day I will have my numbers ready! Beware, I shall return! Oh yeah, and I can take you in a game of horse too! I'll counter your over the backboard money junkball shot with my own patented 1 bounce shot from the top of the arc.)

And it's now a two to TWO series!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Ay caramba! Se' la vie.... Sombitch! Wha' happened?

Seattle 101, San Antonio 89
Series tied 2-2
Next Game: Tuesday at San Antonio 6:30 PM Pac time

Player(s) of the game:
The Sonics backcourt. Ray Allen led the charge with 32 points on a breathtaking array of moves, including a drive and dunk on Horry's mug that willed every single behind off the seats in the Key. Antonio Daniels added in 19 points and 7 dimes on 8-13 shooting. Have I mentioned that I have a man crush on Daniels yet? Seriously, alot of people feel he screws up the flow of the game when he has the ball in his hands. To that I say phooey. I'm giddy right now. Sorry. I think Matt summed it up best when he said after a reckless A.D. drive to the lane which netted him a trip to the free throw line: "A.D. would run into a brick wall to get some free throws."

Oh yeah... there was someone else... who was it? Luuuuuuuuuke!! Please come out for your curtain call. 20points and 6 assists with 3 steals, he was downright frisky tonight. Two of my gripes with Ridnour are 1)his defensive inefficiencies against quick slashing point guards like Parker and 2)his unwillingness to take shots the defense gives him. Tonight 1) because of Lewis' departure we saw alot of a 3 guard lineup of Rid, A.D., & Allen, & Rid thankfully slid over to defend Barry on many occasions instead of trying to defend Parker. 2) After making a few shots, Rid's confidence was through the Key Arena roof and in the 3rd quarter he threw the ball up without remorse, running one handed floaters off the glass, over Spurs' wingspans, 16-20 footers off of curls... Great game Rid, let's see that confidence in your game/shot spill over to game 5.

-Lewis left out of the lineup with a bruised toe and the Mac-10 goes smallball with a starting lineup of Rid, A.D., Allen, Evans, & J.J.. And the Supes took the game in convincing fashion. ALot of people are gonna take this along with 'Shards poor play in the series to mean we're better off without him playing. Not the case: I still believe Lewis needs to be a factor in the series/playoffs if the Sonics' are to have a chance at taking the series. And let's all calm down from this high while we're at it: All the team has done is hold serve. There is still the task of taking 2 out of 3 over the remainder of the series, with 2 played on their court... And they are still The Spurs folks, let's not diminish the remainder of the task left ahead of the team.
-Sorry, gotta hand out one more game ball. Damien Wilkins... every time I get to see him play extended minutes, I come away impressed. Defense, heady play, willingness to take the shot given to him. My favorite line of the night... 5 steals & 1 block from the nephew of the Human Highlight. He also had 15 points, 3 of which came on an outlet pass 3 which he confidently stepped into, something which his bench counterpart Ginobili seems unable to do for some unknown reason. I can't wait to see what this guy can do in a season with a steady diet of 20-30 minutes a game. He's gonna make you proud one day, I promise you... And Harry, Jimmy, Trent, wherever you are out there, fuck you too! Hoooo-hah!!

Question of the night:
Can the Sonics repeat the night's energy and hustle for a game 5 away from the Key?

Sonics-Spurs Game 3 observations & Game 4 thoughts

Game 4:
Sonics vs. Spurs Round 2 matchup
4:00PM Pac time at The Key
Spurs lead series 2-1

Game 3 observations:
-Bowen repeatedly funneled ray to his left, with Duncan or another big shadowing intently. Result 0-xxx shooting in 4th.

-Lewis yet again was a no show. There were in fact several wide open 3’s which he pulled a Manu on & glossed over for a tentative pump fake drive in… and stop to throw an outlet pass to a reset D. Sad. I can’t talk more negatively of Lewis anymore.

-The gene pool for the nosebleed attendees is markedly kiddie pool shallow. Some highlights:
Parker/Manu/Duncan at the foul line:
“Viva la U.S.A.!" (actually one of the better ones)
“You guys are charity stripers! Spurs are charity striping! You guys are getting all your points from the foul line!" (huh? I’m confused, is this meant to be an insult of some sorts? An indirect comment for the officials? Even their neighboring cheering sections were confused at this.)
“You suck!" (In reference to Bowen. Honestly, is there anything wrong with keeping it simple and using this should your imaginative lines suck ass? K.I.S.S.)

-As much as I criticize Ridnour and applaud Daniels over him, over the 8 playoff games, they have performed almost equally with regards to +/- stats. I personally would still prefer Daniels to take as many minutes at the point as possible without messing with his abilities. Ridnour has been an able floor general, no doubt, but A.D.’s offensive play making/creating abilities are something Ridnour simply cannot imitate, and with the dissapearance of the No. 2 option in this series it’s been big. Oh yeah, and did I fail to mention the whole defensive liability thing?

-I cannot imagine a situation in which Jerome James gets another 6 open lanes for a dunk in this game. With the logs he threw on the flames with THAT statement and the Spurs being the defensive juggernaut they are, I fully expect them to adjust and take the James pick and roll for a dunk play out of the equation.

-On a similar note, matt has been dead on with his noting that Nazr Mohamed is a bigger defensive liability than is seen by the casual observer, looking at the stat sheets. If Pop doesn't give more minutes to the Solid Slovenian, add this to his deficiency stat, along with being a Scrooge with the timeouts during runs by opposing teams.

-In the Key, myself and Matt were totally oblivious of the free throw disparity till Matt’s insider reporter notified him so. We both agreed it wasn’t obvious in watching the game live that the Sonics were getting a brunt of the calls going their way, unlike in the early quarters of game 2.

Game 4 thoughts:
-I am terrified of what the possible mindsets of the two teams will be like entering this game. I have no doubts the loss, the James’ comment, Popovich giving his players a new arsehole, will have the Spurs ready to prove something out of the gate.

-On the Sonics’ side, I am deathly afraid of a possible letdown in the first from a feeling of holding serve, and feeling a little too complacent after proving themselves able to hang with the mighty Titans. If we’re down by no less than 6 points at the end of the 1st, I will consider that a victory. Seriously.

-As horribly as Lewis has been playing, not having him in for Game 4 would be a huge blow to the Sonics’ chances. If he is out of commission I pray his minutes get divvied up by Daniels/Collison/Fortson and… the human highlight’s cousin. I’d love to see more minutes of Wilkins hounding Manu on D. It’s a good thing. I think.

Danny Fortson Fun Facts:
2005 Season: 0.25 Fouls per min, Theoretically fouls out in 23.5 min
Round 1: 0.40 Fouls per min, Theoretically fouls out in 14.8 min
Round 2: 0.63 Fouls per min, Theoretically fouls out in 9.6 min!

That is crahahazeee! Roving reporter crazy tetherball head man out... Back to you E.J.

Too bad the band left members behind

Thursday, May 12, 2005

What could have been...

Seattle Supersonics vs. San Antonio Spurs
Game 3:
7:30PM Pac time, Thursday May 12, 2005 @ The Key

The location has changed. The problem remains the same.

I’ve been far too depressed and too busy doing my stupid stand-up routine to properly throw a proper evaluation on the series and its evolution, or more appropriately its deterioration in terms of the Sonics’ hopes.

San Antonio is up 2-0. You could argue that all they’ve done up to this point is hold serve and should we do the same over the next two we’d be right back in this thing. You could. I don’t have the heart to argue you out of that stance. Much like you, I’ve still got my dunce/fan cap on and will be tormented by it till the bitter end. This is gonna be slightly incoherent babble, but here goes…

Dissapointment #1
The single most disappointing aspect of the series so far has been the mysterious disappearing act of Rashard Lewis. 2005 NBA All Star. The other part of the Sonics’ 1-2 punch. The Past, Present AND The Future.

2005 Season stats:
20.5 points, 5.4 boards, 46%FG 40%3PFG
2005 Postseason:
17.6 points, 4.7 boards, 42%FG, 23%3PFG
Round 2: games vs Spurs:
20.5 points, 5.4 boards, 44.5%FG 0-7 3PFG

Not that much there really, but factors aside from post-injury play:
-Sacramento’s game plan was to take Lewis out of the equation with repeated passive to aggressive double teams from a combination of different looks on the double team. Lewis showed a VERY poor ability to recognize the double team and proper decision, be it the outlet pass to the correct open man, or possibly going baseline if given the opportunity from a weak, poorly executed double team.
-It’s not a coincidence that ‘Shard’s 0-7 from the arc against the Spurs. As has been heavily documented they have the best 3 pt defense in the league, by a wide margin, and there has barely been a 3 point shot taken by the Sonics not contested by the opposition.

Here’s the kicker for me in all of this. The Spurs, as anticipated, decided to throw Bowen on Allen and have decided to guard Lewis, on many an occasion 1-on-1, with generous helpings of double teams mixed in. Furthermore, his defender has come from a platoon consisting of the following: 6’-7” Brent Barry (a terrible defender), 6’-6” Manu Ginobili, Robert Horry, and on some occasions Nazr, Bowen, Parker!, & even Udrih! I am dead serious!

Plain and simple, for the Sonics to win Rashard Lewis has to rise up to the fans’ lofty expectations that he is a legitimate player of All Star offensive ability, more than capable of taking advantage of every instance he is given that 1-on-1 mismatch. I noted in my preview of the series that if the Spurs were still using this strategy on Lewis come games 3 or 4 it means 1) Lewis has failed in his responsibility & 2) We’re f**ked. Check. Check.

There is NO excuse for Lewis not demanding the ball as he looks down and sees Barry or Manu on him. Even IF the double team comes and it forces the ball out of his hands, it still, with proper passing/intelligence, leaves the team with an advantage with the Spurs D out of sorts scrambling to reset and putting a man on players/the ball. I’m seriously beside myself watching Lewis shy away from the responsibility/opportunity.

Spurs fan’s are gonna come in here and see a deranged Sonics’ fan with a foolish belief that Lewis has a better game than he really possesses. They may partially be right. Lewis was not wholly consistent through the season in his post up game. Much like the team, he simply didn’t bring it every game and was actually invisible at times. But for those who watched 82 games, they can attest to the fact that Lewis’ play progressed as the season went, that is until his injury and his post-season malaise.

Dissapointment #2
The Sonics played 82 regular season games; 63 were played with Radmanovic & 19 without*.

With Radman:
Points scored- 100.5
Points allowed- 97.1
Point diff- 3.4
3PM- 8.5
3PA- 22.6

Without Radman:
Points scored- 93.9
Points allowed- 95.2
Point diff- (-)1.3
3PM- 6.8
3PA- 20.8

*I actually ran this stuff in a previous post with about 8 or so games left in the season to kind of show Radmanovic’s effect on the team aside from his personal stats: i.e. he spreads the floor, causes defensive problems for opposing teams. Like that last post’s stats, these numbers of course have other mitigating circumstances, noise, as the statheads like to call it. Lewis was out a certain number of games as was Allen. The disappearance of solid play from The Fort. Strength of opponents is not taken into account etc… And again, it’s no shock to anyone who has seriously, or even casually, followed the team: The 1st half Sonics were playing at a superior level to the 2nd half team (in particular the 1st third of the season vs. the last third.) What this stuff does indicate, but not prove, is that Radmanovic has more influence on the Sonics' performance than most people realize, or would care to admit.

Here is my summary of that old post verbatim regarding a particularly tough Sonics' late season losing streak, including grammatical mistakes:

So again you might ask, what the hell’s your point? Simply put, the current state of guarded pessimism taken on by Superfriends everywhere is a bit misdirected at this current time towards the nosedive the team is in. I don’t consider the slide any indication at all of the team’s ability to win (in the playoffs). I don’t care if the team as is loses by 3 or 30 to the Lakers, cause they ain’t gonna do s*** in the playoffs as is. Rashard is expected to return after a few more games, and Vlad’s tour of duty in IR is scheduled to end either today (if you believe the 4 week timeline) or by the start of the playoffs. What is of importance is the team’s ability to re-incorporate two of their most important players back into the fold, and to again develop that chemistry that made the offensive execution a thing of beauty during the first half of the season. If they’re not able to do this, consider the Season record your only present (this) year, cause the Sonics ain’t going nowhere in the playoffs without a little of that magic they conjured up in the beginning of the season.

Now, BEFORE I get the expected crap, I am NOT throwing this out as an excuse for the Sonics poor play or for their 2-0 series deficit to the Spurs. This is NOT an exclamation saying that with Radman we’d be just as good as the Spurs, or you’re so lucky you didn’t catch at full strength type nonsense. I’ve believed and said this at the halfway point of the season, at the end of the season, and at the start of the playoffs: The Spurs are the best team in the NBA. Should they do what they need to do, it should result in a trophy in their hands when all is said and done.

What I am trying to say is simply… this effort we’re seeing is NOT representative of the full capability of the 2004-2005 Sonics. I had wished and hoped that THAT team would have shown up. It would have been fun to watch. Lewis continuing his evolution and making San Antonio pay for the Barry/Manu insult... Ray winning his inferno deathmatch duel with Bruce... Our combo standing toe-to-toe with the mighty Duncan-Manu heavyweight… Radmanovic hitting outlet rainbow threes... Hanging in, hanging in, resilience shining in their eyes... It truly would have been fun. But I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

Game 2 Recap: We lost

Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Sorry to the readers there's no full game recap yet. For now, hopefully you can tide yourself over by heading over to nbaspurs.blogspot and read the running thread myself, Matt & Co. did at his site (I was hoping a change in venues would equally shake up the outcome: Negative)

Anyways here it is. I (or another Soul member) will update this stuff later today.


That was fun...

Sunday, May 08, 2005

A picture speaks a thousand words...

San Antonio 103, Seattle 81
Spurs lead series 1-0
Next Game: Tuesday at San Antonio at 6:30PM

Player(s) of the game:
To single out one player would be a shame. The Sonics made the entire Spurs team look like a bunch of superstars. But for consistency's sake let's do this. Tony Parker had 29 points on 11-18 shooting and had 9 points on 4-4 shooting in the 1st 8 minutes of the game. I have promised not to mention certain topics for the remainder of the playoffs so, readers, please read between
these: ---- "____ _______" -----.

- Welcome back to Earth, Jerome and all us demented Sonics fans.
- If anyone attempts to justify the injuries as being the primary cause of this Sonics' loss, they will have all commenting privileges taken away.

Reasons to remain optimistic:
- Crickets chirping...

- X-rays? Negative. Hallelujah.
- Due to NBA playoff guidelines, there was no technical way that the Spurs could count that can of whoop-ass for anything more than a 1-0 series lead.
- Collison, for the few brief moments he was in there, looked like he carried some the late season, 1st round, energy minutes over into this game.
- Lewis, for a very scant few minutes in the 4th, reattached his frank and beans to his groin, and got a few promising slop points in at the end.
- (Heading to kitchen, scrounging through cabinets, looking for any more straws to grasp. Negative.)

Question(s) of the night:
- Can Ray be as effective playing ball on a sprained knee as he is playing the gee-tar and singing?
- Lewis: You've lost... that no-one-can-stop me feeeeling, woa-oah, that unstopabble feeling. Can you get it back in time to make it a series?
- Will the Sonics read and react?

Spurs-Sonics Game 1 thread

Gametime: 5:00pm Pac Time on TNT

In case any of you are gonna be sitting at home watching this, feel free to do your yelling and screaming, and venting out your anger here.

Game on!

Added on May15, 2005-
Here is a link to the Game 1 thread:
For some strange reason Spursfans really enjoyed the torment I endured:

And the band played on…

Friday, May 06, 2005
2005 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Round 2:
#2 San Antonio Spurs vs. #3 Seattle Supersonics
Game 1: Sunday, May 8, 5:00PM Pacific time

Bench & Starting matchups/comparison:
I don’t really feel comfortable doing one since these teams, the Sonics especially, actually have bench guys playing more minutes, and in at crucial minutes at the end of the game (at least I hope so.) For the Spurs I fully expect to see Horry taking over at the 4 spot & Duncan shifting to the 5 spot. For the Sonics I hope the finishing combination will include effective contributions of James, Radmanovic, & Collison. Lastly you can go to ESPN, Yahoo, CNNSI etc. and get a much more involved analysis than I’d give. Try Chad Ford; I think he’s got Vitaly Potapenko being the X-factor or something.

Here are the lineups that concern me:
Spurs finishing 5:
Horry with occasions with Rasho instead

Sonics finishing 5:
James with generous portions of Collison in an undersized rotation
Even distribution of Collison & Radmanovic

Ideal distribution of Sonics time (5 spots at 48 min = 240 minutes)
Ray Allen: 42 minutes (39min season average)
Rashard Lewis: 40 m (38)
Antonio Daniels: 35 m (27)
Jerome James: 25 m (17)
Nick Collison: 25 m (17)
Vlad Radmanovic: 25 m (30)
Reggie Evans: 15 m (24)
Danny Fortson: 14 m (17)
Luke Ridnour: 14 m (31)
Damien Wilkins: 5 m (-)

Plays I’ll be looking out for:

When Sonics have the ball:
1) Set play: Lewis and Allen on the wings, Evans slightly to one side of the key, James/Collison/Fortson setting the pick for Rid or A.D. at the top of the key. At onset of pick and roll, Lewis and/or Allen go to motion, using Evans pick to rub defenders off and find an open spot outside, usually on opposite wing they started at. Pick man rolls, PG drives and decides whether to 1) drive to the hole and shoot 2) drive & kick out to an open Lewis or Allen, 3) hit the rolling pick man or Evans.
2) Set play: Lewis and Daniels isolated on one side. Remaining players on other half with a typical configuration of Radman setup for a straightaway 3 and Allen for an elbow 3, with Evans or Fortson in position to chase an offensive board. Lewis and Daniels run a pick & post in which Lewis takes the PG to the block and sets up Calabro for a “there’s a mouse in the house!” call with a high percentage post up opportunity, or 2) defenders sloppily switch off pick and A.D. gets an open lane to the hole for an easy shot or 2 free throws, or a rotating defense which leads to an outlet pass to a waiting Radman or Allen.
3) The cat & mouse play (or the Reggie Miler special): PG with the ball at the top: 4’s and 5’s (and maybe Rashard as well) setting picks, SG running through both picks to rub his defender off of him for a catch and shoot. The effectiveness in which the Sonics will be able to get the ball to Allen off this play for a clear shot without Bowen still stuck on him like glue will speak volumes as to who’s winning the Sonics O vs. the Spurs D match up.

When the Spurs have the ball:
1) Parker and a big (Rasho or Horry primarily) executing a high pick and roll at the top of the key. The best defense against the pick and roll I’ve seen recently was from last year’s Pistons. Billups wouldn’t even have to call the switch and the big (Sheed) would AGGRESSIVELY use his mobility to close the gap on the speedy PG, and use his wingspan to prevent a quick pass out. PG would be forced to stop his dribble and/or reset the offense, allowing the defense to reset itself as well. It kinda helps when every guy on the team is a + on the ball defender. Now that I’ve mentioned Billups & Wallace… imagine Parker & Duncan/Rasho/Mohammed running this against Ridnour & James. That is a nightmare sequence. James does not possess the lateral mobility or the basketball IQ to stop Parker from driving off the switch, Ridnour does not possess the toughness to fight through the screens (just watch how many times he gives up on a screen due a lack of toughness, there are just so many hidden f**kups on Ridnour’s part that are attributed to other players it pisses me off), and or the PG will see the breakdown and pass to the cutting big man or the big man posting on Rid, which will cause defensive rotation, big man getting it a high percentage shot from a wide open teammate.
2) Duncan on the block, particularly on the left (or right?) side either facing his defender up and taking the 16-18 bank shot his defender gives him, or posting/getting by with a quick first step and driving into the key (almost never goes baseline) for a high percentage 4-8ft shot.
3) Spurs on transition: Because of the Sonics’ tendency to allow the 4’s and 5’s to go after an offensive rebound opportunity, it is paramount that Rid/Allen/Rashard and their bench counterparts stop transition penetration from Parker/Manu/Udrih and force them to setup their half court O, (and allow us to set up the D)

For the Sonics to win ALL of the following must occur:

1) Ray Allen & Rashard Lewis must come close to matching the offensive output of Tim Duncan & Manu Ginobili.

2) All indications are that the Spurs will go with a game plan of Bowen on Allen. This will mean that:
a) The Spurs game plan will be to minimize Allen’s efficiency with Bowen, minimize the output of the other 3 players with 1 on 1 D, and force Lewis to prove his ability to reliably score against the likes of Ginobili or Horry. To reiterate: Lewis must decisively win any 1-on-1 matchup against Ginobili or Horry.
b) The game plan will be to passively or aggressively double team Rashard when he gets the ball and, unlike in the Kings series, prove that he’s capable of evading the double team by going baseline to the rim, splitting the double team, or making the correct outlet pass to rotate the ball to an open man/shot.
If the Spurs are still on one of these game plans come game 3 and 4, it will mean that Rashard failed to adjust to the defense and is not capable of providing a reliable enough offensive production/output to complement Allen. Translation: We’re f**ked. An ideal Sonics situation would be Rashard being crazy effective forcing Pop to place Bowen on him and Manu on Allen, and the Sonics duo capitalizing.

3) Tony Parker must be limited to 3 monster games min, meaning of course, in 4 of the games the Lewis/Allen duo will only have to contend/match the output of the Timmeh/Manu duo for the Spurs. This will require either one of the following or a combination:
a) Parker will pull his inconsistency act, not have a great shooting night, lack confidence in his shot to be effective on several nights. Maybe we can send Eva some lingerie and some Oysters the night prior to the game to weaken the Frenchman’s legs come game time…
b) A.D. or possibly Damien Wilkins will be effective in limiting the drives Parker takes resulting in open 6-8 floaters, lay-ins, passes to open players. Ridnour will be chained to the bench during this time and only allowed on the court when Brent Barry or Beno Udrih assumes the PG spot for the Spurs. And maybe one restroom break at halftime.
c) The Sonics will be marginal to above average in their defense of the high pick and roll.

4) Jerome James will NOT have to go Bizarro on us and chip in with 15pts & 10 boards a night. What is needed of him is to be defensively active, with fast enough footwork/reaction to stay out of foul trouble and be in proper position to alter Parker floaters & the maniacal-Manu lefty lay ins. Numbers wise the team will need a minimum average of 25 FRISKY, ENERGETIC, & SMART minutes, 8 or so rebounds, and several blocked/ altered shots a game.

5) The defensive rotation off of a Tim Duncan double team must minimize the number of wide-open Spurs 3-point shots. If the combined shooting stats from Parker/Bowens/ Udrih/Manu resulting from poor rotation results is 5 or so made treys at a 45% clip or greater, score this a failing grade. Also, proper rotation execution must be made by our 4's & 5's when our 2 & 3's go flying towards Manu/Parker/Barry beyond the arc, and they subsequently drive in. There's going to be a bunch of Supes running around like monkeys reacting to San Antonio ball movement/penetration/player movement, and its gotta play itself out like controlled chaos for the good guys.

6) Collectively, the production that the Sonics get from the 96 minutes at the 4 and 5 spots must give us a decided advantage over the Spurs counterpart sans Duncan. This means you Nick Collison, Reggie Evans, Danny Fortson, & Jerome James. You guys must at least double the output of Rasho Nesterovic, Robert Horry, & Nazr Mohammed.

7) The Radmanovic/Daniels/Ridnour trio will average roughly 22 pts/game. I’d specifically like to see this group counteract any production from Parker during the 4 Sonic victories.

For the Spurs to win:
Any scenario not containing ALL the factors stated above will provide the Spurs with a series victory.

O.K. Before you skewer me with statements like “Where’s No. 8: The kitchen sink?” please take a look each one of those addendums individually. None of them is a mountain moving request and they certainly fall within the realm of this team’s capability.

But for all of them to occur in the series? Indeed, the odds are staggering against the Sonics, and an application would need to be written for the hand of God to make a series appearance. Yes, the Spurs are that much better.

The odds are that grim for a Sonics victory. Almost as grim as… the odds of the Sonics entering the playoffs as the No. 3 seed… As slim as the preseason chances for the 2005 NW Division Championship banner to end up hanging under the Key Arena roof... As unlikely as the chances of a naïve high school kid, agonizingly watched by a nation having his lottery dreams crushed in the 1998 NBA draft, blossoming into that rarest of species: an All Star plucked from the 2nd round junkheap... As improbable as the Jerome James’ 1st round outburst coinciding with Lewis taking time to regain that unstoppable feeling & A.D. getting his legs back…

This to me is everything the playoffs are about. Dreaming the impossible dream. Seeing the mountain defiantly standing in the way of glory, and defiantly walking forward in turn. I’ll be watching this team doing the same from the nosebleeds of The Key in games 3 & 4. I’ll be in full denial mode of the task ahead of the Supes, screaming myself hoarse. I hope to see you there too. Game on.

Sonics in 7. Onward.

What will the outcome be of the Spurs-Sonics series?

Free polls from Pollhost.com


Thursday, May 05, 2005
blah blibbity blah blah

Where have the NBA Giants gone?

An experiment gone awry... & The Next Coming?

Now that we have this brief respite from meaningful Sonics games, at least until the Spurs handle their business, here’s some filler material, until the folks here at The Soul tackle the task that is the 2nd round analysis:

Some of you young’uns may not believe this, but there was a time not too long ago when the NBA actually had centers with skill.

I went back to the early 1990’s, particularly years 91- 93 and came up with this list.

The Elite:
Patrick Ewing- HOF
Hakeem Olajuwon- HOF
David Robinson- HOF
Shaquille O’neal- HOF
Pretty Darn Good:
Alonzo Mourning
Dikembe Mutombo
Brad Daugherty
Not so much, but still offensively talented/serviceable*:
Kevin Duckworth
Vlade Divac
Moses Malone (still had a few miles left in years 90-92)
Rik Smits
Derrick Coleman
Robert Parish (HOFer but not in the late 90’s, still serviceable from 90-92)
Rony Seikaly
Sam Perkins
*(Please go to basketball-reference.com to refresh your memories on some of these guys before you start ROFLMAO, and understand I’m merely saying they did have some skill.)

There were 27 teams in the League: Of those, 4 had HOF’ers, 7 had All Stars, and 15 had decent centers with marginal offensive capabilities/game affecting ability.

Here’s my point: during that age, there were a bunch of teams who had centers with capable offensive game or game influencing capabilities. You couldn’t deny the face staring straight at you from the 7’ body tossing 8ft jumpers over your team: they were beings that had to be deliberated on and accounted for. If you went into a playoff series facing one of those 4 teams with the HOF’ers or one of the 7 teams with the All-Stars without someone/something to combat them, they would make you pay, probably with your playoff life. I believe the reaction to this was two-fold:

1) Where/how can I get me one of those?
2) Where/how can I get me someone to stop one of those (particular the select studs at the top.)
For those teams on the outside looking in on this phenomenon there was one particular reaction: we can build one of these guys for our team.

And so the novel idea was formed: Size was the premium and talent & skill the by-product of work/experience that could be nurtured into the player given time. Like a Chia-pet, a team could simply purchase a starter kit from K-mart, add water, sit their ass on a lawn chair, and watch their investment grow into a gifted center of equal offensive/game changing ability. (One example: Purchase (1) gangly 7’-0” rookie, sit on bench, watch games from bench, hire once great center to teach aggressiveness, teach skill, work out X amt of hours to change body to desired product, add 20-30lbs, wait 2-4 years – become All Star.)

GM’s whom fans and owners entrusted with their teams fate thus began the their ill-fated experiments. What came out of their laboratories was a Frankenstein monster for the NBA: a mutated being bearing only a passing resemblance to the giants they were meant to imitate. They walked around with awkward gaits, had barely acceptable control of their appendages, were zombie-like in their reactions/ hand eye coordination and they mercilessly terrorized their cities for years on end with their terrifying long-term multi-million dollar contracts.

All of you people entering this Supersonic team site know very well of these creatures I speak of. Jim McIlvaine… Calvin Booth… Chris Dudley… Michael Olowakandi… Rasho… Adonal Foyle…Brian Grant… Non-Bizarro Jerome... Potapenko… The monsters were unleashed on the League and nothing was ever the same again.

But, just like Mary Shelley’s story, the fan realized (or should have, at least) that the true monster was not the misshapen being now forced to wander the world in shame in their tricked out Cadillac Escalades, but rather the mad, God-playing, GM’s that created them… (Translation: F**k you Wally Walker.)

Fast-Forward to the present time:

Check out the list of centers in the league today:

The Elite:
Shaq- HOF
Pretty Darn Good/O.K.:
Yao Ming (some may throw him in with Shaq)
Not so much, but still offensively talented/servicable:
Z. Ilgauskas (maybe he should be with Yao)
Brad Miller
PF’s 6’-10” or less in height/playing stature, playing the 5 spot with offensive game or impact power:
Amare Stoudemire
Ben Wallace
Emeka Okafor
Rasheed Wallace
Marcus Camby
Frankenstein’s still roaming around in the league:
Mark Blount
Shawn Bradley
Brian Grant
And on and on….
(The omission in this list is the cause of this post; please bear with me.)

Take a look at that list:
There is just one guy who can truly dominate the game from the 5 spot. There are only 2 others who you could justify as having a decent enough offensive game. The rest of them? Either A) they’re 6’something” PF’s disguised as “centers” in the 5-spot who you could/should better defend with 6’something” players of your own, or 2) 7’ stiffs without sufficient offensive skill to need to truly concern yourself over/ require some crazy acquisition on your teams part to counteract.

I don’t know exactly what happened, but much like the woolly mammoth, the great centers of the NBA have disappeared, with only a few still in existence. Maybe it’s a cyclical thing and in its next manifestation the League will once again be the land of talented giants. Regardless, I think it would be wise to 1) learn from the past mistakes of our ancestor GM’s and B) not feel the need to risk unleashing further abominations in a league which no longer requires a solution to great centers.

And now here comes 2005 playoff Jerome James, lumbering around right in front of our very eyes. How appropriate is it that we have a genuine Sasquatch sighting here in Key Arena, in the Pacific Northwest. We’re awestruck at the sight. Could it be? Is this real or am I dreaming? WTF is going on here!?!

I’ve called him Bizarro Jerome on occasion because of the infrequency of his appearances on our planet. But now, these 5 straight playoff game sightings… Is he a creature genetically brought back from the DNA of the extinct NBA Center of the past? I’m stumped. But you know what? If I’m a GM and this offseason I’m faced with the decision, I take a look at recent history and I make certain I don’t become the Frankenstein of my team.

Jerome James: Free Agent? You can take him, I’ll pass.

Voting results:
Who will Jerome James most closely resemble in the 2005-2006 season?
Jerome James season 2004-2005 - 27
Jerome James 2005 playoffs round 1 - 9
Zydrunas Ilgauskas - 4
Yao Ming - 1
Jim McIlvaine - 8
Total votes - 49

Game 5: Pickin' Time

Tuesday, May 03, 2005
To me predicting game 5 is equivalent to predicting the Sonics playoff chances in its entirety. True contenders take out the pretender Kings in 5. As Barkley says, championship teams stomp on their necks when they have 'em down. Should the Sonics end it in 5, optimism will blow the roof off the joint here at the Soul, and maybe it’s justifiable. That trophy would feel oh so tantalizingly close to our grasp…

I’m sorry to burst this post game 4- bubble of euphoria, truly I am, but I just can’t see it: This team is not there yet. There are the Spurs, Heat, & Pistons at the top, and the Sonics are at a rung somewhere below them (yeah, I know, I doubt I could come up with a wimpier statement!)

Reasons I’m still pessimistic after game 4:
-To beat the dead horse yet again, I believe A.D. is by far a better player/option at point guard over Rid. The fact that Ridnour has been outperforming him leads to one of two conclusions: Ridnour has been playing basketball at a higher level than he did in the regular season or Daniels has been playing at a worse level than his regular season performance. Of those two, and based on watching their playoff performances, I’m going with the latter. Daniels 2nd half performance in game 4 was promising however.
-Lewis has not played to a level that is required of him for this team to truly take it to the next level. C'mon Lew! Don't fight that feeling anymore! Remember? The one where noone could stop you? Please say you remember. (Oh yeah, maybe that whole injury thing is a factor too.)
-The X-factor, Radmanovic, has been playing below average to downright awful. He’s clearly not in full form yet (did you see the errant pass directly thrown at Peja for a 2 points at the end of the Game 4 1st half? I couldn’t even imagine a retarted kid learning how to play basketball doing that.)
-Danny... Daniel Fortson (you come into this house right now mister!! You’re in big trouble!) over the past 3 games: 17 points… in 31 minutes of play… due to FOURTEEN personal fouls. The game-changer refuses to drop his hack-act. Sure, you can blame the officiating, but let’s be honest, it’s THE glaring flaw in his game and he refuses to adjust.
-And Jerome… seriously, I could write a whole book on my feelings about this guy. To summarize, I don’t trust the mirage. Wish I could, but I just can’t do it.

Game 5: Bibby reads and reacts, Jerome settles down, Kings make a valiant last stand, & Sonics provide us with inconsistency yet again. And I get the strangest feeling we're gonna see a mini-fracass with an imploding Fortson in this game as well.
Final Score: Sacramento 104- Seattle 103

Playing for a penny (or two)

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Half-man/Half the Offense

Seattle 115, Sacramento 102
Sonics lead series 3-1
Next Game: Tuesday at Sacramento 7:30PM Pac time

Player of the game:
Ray Allen was simply sensational: 45pts, 4 boards, 6 assists, & 4 steals. Regardless of the play, defender on him, or defensive scheme, Allen scored at will. In a segue/interview shot before the game by TNT that was almost an omen of his performance Ray Allen said something to the following extent when describing the deceptive quickness/ease of his shot: It’s like a man trying to catch a fly with his hands; he thinks that he’s got the fly (with his quick hand movement) but the fly escapes. To the fly, the hand is in slow motion. Everything feels like it’s in slow motion when I’m shooting. Again, I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

-Repetitive, I know, but Allen & James great play in the series has the Sonics on the verge of advancing to the next round. Would the Kings stars play any better had they been in contract years, as Allen and James are? Sounds reasonable to me. And, another thing, how great would it be if corporate America handed out guaranteed multiyear contracts to cubicle gophers? Can you imagine the discrepancy in performance from workers with and without contracts?
-After his heroic game 3, Bibby came back with a suspiciously quiet game 4: 13pts on 4-17. Read and react: the mantra of the playoffs.
-The broken record: Jerome James coming through again with 17pts, 8 boards & 4 blocks. To my eyes his play in games 1 & 4 were slightly more energetic & valuable to the team (being a more offensive, rebounding, and defensive presence) than his play in games 2 & 3. Really though, WTF is that to nitpick over? My apologies Bizarro Jerome. You can be my wing man anytime. (Bulls**t Ray, you can be mine...)
-I am the first to scream the belief that A.D. is the superior option at PG over Rid, but Luke has clearly been the better option in the series. Take a look at these numbers for further info.
-Radmanovic had a terrible defensive performance. Kings’ players were totally taking advantage of him at times. Also, there was one play where Rashard was defending Peja 1-on-1, and could’ve taken a slow moving elbow/clearout to the face for an offensive foul, but didn’t. He saw it coming and moved his face out of the way to avoid injury. I doubt I would’ve taken it, I’m sure many star players wouldn’t have as well, but the Artests, Bowens, & Wallaces of the league sure would have.
-horn-tootin’: I predicted Allen & Lewis would combine for 60pts and Seattle would win 113-108. Final numbers: The duo got 64pts and the score was Seattle 115- Sac 102.

Question of the night:
Let’s try this one more time: What now are our adjusted expectations for the series, heading back to Seattle up 3-1?

Only one prescription for Game 4!

The folks at ARCO arena have the prescription to Rashard’s fever… More Cowbell!!!

Before reading any further please read this link.

Alright. It’s funny what a 1st lost game on a road trip may do to expectations. From dreams of a possible Kings sweep & of unleashing the monster that be Jerome James to the rest of the unsuspecting playoff teams to now contemplating a potential 1st round exit…

To start with, I always felt the following:
-Sonics at full strength vs. Kings full strength would result in Seattle advancing in 7 (or 6)
-Sonics weakened (i.e. Lewis & A.D. injured to partially effective) vs. Kings weakened (i.e. 2 of Peja, Miller, B-Jax trio injured to partially effective) would result in Seattle advancing in 7 (or 6)
-Sonics with a gimpy Lewis & A.D. vs. Kings full strength would result in Kings in 7 (or 6)
-Sonics full strength w/Bizarro Jerome: 2nd round, taking the Spurs to 6 games (or 7) and with EVERYONE playing at their absolute peak, possibly winning the ‘ship.

That said, the Rashard injury/absence to me is the single most dominating series/playoffs subplot for the Sonics. From the Seattle Times :

Lewis declined to answer questions after the game, but he was asked if he was OK physically and nodded.

It is in the volume speaking absence of words that Rashard showed after that demoralizing game 3 loss that I took the most solace in.

That folks, sounds like someone who feels like he has a gargantuan chip on his shoulder... Someone who has a hunger for nothing short of redemption in game 4… Peja & Co. beware...

Rashard Lewis has a fever, and the only prescription is MORE COWBELL!! And since they’re still in the bell-clanging friendly confines of ARCO arena, in the immortal words of generic baseball broadcasters everywhere: Let’s play two!

Kings yet again perform admirably with the backing of the homecourt crowd, but…
Sonics bounce back with overall inspired play & Lewis comes back in a major way & combines with Ray Allen to score 60+ points min. Result?
Seattle 113 - Sacramento 108

It's pickin' time yet again folks... You make the call, what's the game 4 outcome? The prize: free soup for you!

Oh yeah, and there’s this fun little tidbit:

"And Evans -- you talk about Vlade [Divac] being a flopper? This guy is taking it to a whole new level. He goes down when the air conditioning comes on.
"They're doing their jobs, but I think there's times when they go overboard, and I think the officials should be aware of that."

-Adelman on the atrocious officiating and ridiculous flopping job done by the opposing team in the Sacramento-Seattle series. I’m Crash Davis, letting you, the loyal reader/batter, know that a fastball is coming up straight down the middle… Please, take this present, and hit it out of the park. And please don't go disrespecting my pitcher by lollygagging before running the bases...