Over on the Daily Dime you can check out some well-deserved praised for Sam I Am aka Mr. Sam Cassell. He played a great fourth quarter. What people are no longer talking about (The Inside guys pointed it out at halftime, and everyone would have been saying it had he not redeemed himself) is how Sam killed them in the 2nd quarter. It was 26-15 LAC at the end of the first quarter…Sam comes in, he’s clanking open jumpers and throwing the ball to Smush Parker like he was Fred Brown. The Inside guys at halftime were almost acting like it was Sam’s funeral, it was sad. Kenny Smith made an excellent point when he said “he didn’t look like the Sam of old…he looked like Old Sam”. And it was true. I made the point to my boy that Sam was absolutely killing them. The Lakers were disrespecting him; who ever leaves Sam Cassell wide open? But he turned it around and he led the Clippers from down 17 to a very large win. He gives them a completely different dynamic when he is semi-healthy. He has one of the top-5 swaggers in the league, and though he wasn’t all the way himself..
(You could see when he would score and the camera would zoom in on him backpedaling, he wasn’t chewing gum or talking trash he was just there. I told my friend it looked like he was dying)
…he still had it when it counted. One of the main reason why the Clippers are fighting for an 8 seed instead of home-court in the first round is because of their inconsistencies. They have entirely too many ‘ifs’ about them. I mean think about it, you know they are a great team, but they need things to happen. If Sam Cassell is healthy…if Corey Maggette is aggressive, taking quality shots in the flow of the offense and getting to the line..if Tim Thomas is knocking down shots…if Chris Kaman is giving them easy buckets and rebounds (he lost all of his power when he cut his hair). They can be dangerous or they can be awful. There is no in between and the main keys for them will be
- The health of Sam Cassell
- How aggressive Corey Maggette is
- Outside shooting
They do those things and they can cause problems and be entertaining. I would love to see last night’s version of the Clippers in the playoffs. Sam Cassell in a tight game is captivating and Elton Brand is simply a joy to watch. I worry about Cassell’s body and if it can hold up, because remember the last time his body failed him
(I’ll refresh your memories; 03-04 (aka KG’s Last Stand) in the WCF against the Lakers when he just couldn’t move and Derrick Martin had to take over. You remember what happened to them after that)
..disaster struck. The Clippers are absolutely going to need Cassell in the 4th quarter, because like Kenny Smith said last night he gets guys in the right places. He is a floor general. But if the Warriors make it..I definitely cannot complain. Don Nelson back in the playoffs against the Mavericks? Oh boy, if I had a kid I would ask it; can you say trackmeet? I fully believe they could give Dallas a hell of a lot of problems. They have too much offensive firepower with BD, Harrington, Stephen ‘I look nothing like I did when I came in the league’ Jackson, Monta Ellis. They do rely on three a little too much so if Dallas were to slow the game down (which would have to be their strategy) it might be a rough ride. After last night, I almost wish they could both make it. It would be a win-win for us the fans.
(By no means do I want the Hornets anywhere near the playoffs. I’m sorry, maybe next year, but don’t you ruin this for me. Dallas will kill you in no uncertain terms and I will look like an idiot for saying Dallas is a tad bit overrated. David Stern, you make sure they don’t make it damnit.)
They still could if the Lakers do not get their act together. If I’m the Lakers (and their fans) I have got to be in complete and utter “Ok…what the bleep is going on here’ mode. To explain, I would liken it to your girl (or boy) friend going on vacation for like 2-3 weeks. After so many voicemails, and missed calls and text messages with no reply (for the Lakers losses) you can’t make any excuses or see any positives. You start thinking ‘what the bleep is going on here’. I doubt there is a Laker fan alive that could give me a legitimate positive after last night’s performance. They blew a 17 point lead….at home…to the Clippers. There was a day that the Lakers dominated the Clippers all the time…now they are losing on the Laker floor? With the lights out? Come on. Since when does this happen? They rely entirely too much on Kobe and they do not have an inside threat. To win a title, you have to have someone who can post up and give you an easy bucket. They don’t really post Odom up (could be the shoulder), Bynum and Turiaf are not true solutions (with the game on the line do you really want the ball in their hands) and no one else has really stepped up to the plate. They had it going early on but injuries have hurt them over the year, and it is a testament to Kobe’s will and Phil’s ability that they are still even in this position. All of their key components coming in (Kwame, Luke, Odom, Radmonovic) have all been hurt at some point. With all of that being said, tonight’s game at Phoenix is a must win. They can beat Seattle (don’t think Rashard and company won’t be trying to play spoiler), but they do not want to have gone 1-1 going to Sacramento. Don’t think the Maloofs and Kings fans would not want to spoil the Lakers seasons. I personally think it will be a moot point and the Lakers will make it, but nothing is guaranteed and anything can happen in the L
People…you do realize we are more headed to one of these teams being in the Eastern Conference Finals; Chicago, Toronto, Washington or New Jersey. I personally am far from excited about the prospects of a Chicago/Toronto series. I pray they prove me wrong.
Three early frontrunners for ‘Worst / Least Interesting 1st Round Series’
- Utah vs. Houston; Utah is going to want to play slow, brutal, physical, old-school, defensive basketball. Jeff Van Gundy will remember he coached the Knicks and not back down. It could be ugly people. Houston should win the series and I hope they prove me wrong by having an exciting series, but on paper it doesn’t look very pretty.
- New Jersey vs. Chicago; Last night was a brutal example of what happens when only one of the Big 3 is on (RJ and JKidd were way off and it resulted in a blowout loss). Chicago has a defensive-minded coach (6th in the L, holding opponents to 94.1 ppg) and will obviously shape their gameplan to taking one (if now two) out of the equation. If they can do it…it’s gonna be ugly.
- Toronto vs. Washington; I won’t write it off like it is going to be a complete sweep or anything, but I will say this. Toronto won 3/4 times and is on a tear. Washington is not and has no Gilbert or Caron. I’m sorry but Darius Songaila and Antonio Daniels just don’t get my motors revved. As a diehard I’ll be watching, but damn if I won’t be very happy about it.
Now for some links;
- So how often do you see an NBA team cheering for an NHL team. Only in the A-T-L baby. By the way… I see the Rangers and Pittsburgh are in, bringing my interest from the negatives to 1.
- This article has the nerve to devote itself to Antoine Walker and his ‘comfort zone’ He is terrible…it is so tough to watch him as a D-Wade (and by proxy) Heat fan. If he would post up we wouldn’t have so many problems…it’s his desire to jack up horrible threes that makes me vomit in my mouth from time to time.
- This has to be the worst headline for a playoff team, 9 days before the playoffs start.
- Apparently Dallas is staying focused. Sounds to me like they may be running out of stuff to write about. Unfortunately there is no mention of the fact that they want nothing to do with Golden State. At all. Anywhere.
- I love teams notebook articles where they talk about stupid stuff (if you’re a good team). Especially Houston‘s where they debate on who is stronger and Yao talks about coaches faces. Good stuff.
- Here is a good article on Ime Udoka. I sincerely hope that the Blazers keep him next year. He is a warrior, a great defender, a glue guy who is unselfish but can knock down the shot when asked and he should come cheap.
- They‘ve won 24 of 27, they are healthy, hungry and a little pissed off. Ladies and gentlemen, the San Antonio Spurs.
I think if Steve Nash won the MVP for a third straight year I would develop a strong hate for him. And would that not make him one of the top 5, 10 players to ever play the game?? Seriously?
And if the NBA can do a bracket for the Dance Team…why don’t they do one for the hottest WNBA player?
And I’m out.