Saturday, February 26, 2011

NBA Friday Night Diary

Welcome to my first ever NBA Friday Night Diary! I doubt anyone reading this is as excited to read this as I am to write it or watch the games tonight. To me, these games matter. I realize the importance of these late February games that most of the players probably aren’t taking too seriously. After one of the busiest mid-season trade frenzies in recent years, I feel that it’s necessary to take a look at what we can expect from the teams that made moves and the teams that held on to what they have. Not only is this a terrific time to evaluate the current state of the NBA, but I have had the NBA League Pass for 3 seasons now. I have had the capability to watch any game I wanted. For three years I have had arguably the single greatest development in sports television at my fingertips, yet I have never once written about what it is like to be able to watch up to 15 games in one night. So here goes nothing. Tonight I will be working on the eight early games of the evening.

The Slate
Utah at Indiana- 7 p.m.
Detroit at Philadelphia- 7 p.m.
Phoenix at Toronto- 7 p.m.
Sacramento at Charlotte- 7 p.m.
New York at Cleveland- 7:30 p.m.
Washington at Miami- 7:30 p.m.
New Orleans at Minnesota- 8 p.m.
Oklahoma City at Orlando- 8 p.m.

We’ll lead off tonight with Utah at Indiana. That’s correct, I’m in Florida watching a game on a Utah television station. I’m probably one of the only non-Pacers/Jazz fans interested in this game. Indiana is quietly one of the hottest teams in the league (9-3 in their last 12 games) and Utah just traded their franchise player, and I feel like got the much better end of the deal. Utah traded Deron Williams to New Jersey for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, New Jersey’s first-round pick this year, which is not lottery protected, Golden States first-round pick for 2012 which is top-seven protected. No one can convince me that Utah didn’t get the best of this deal, at least until New Jersey signs another big name player to play with Williams, and that will likely be in 2012. If Prokhorov can’t bring in another big name, then all New Jersey got was a year and a half rental of Deron Williams.

7:21 pm.- I’m not sure how a team that features Josh McRoberts in the starting could go 9-3 in a 12 game stretch in the NBA, but the Pacers have managed to do it. Right now Indiana sits at 26-30, good enough for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, and by my estimations they will only need to hold off Milwaukee to stay in this position. Charlotte, who are currently a game and a half behind Indiana, gave up their best player, Gerald Wallace in a trade that makes Portland a lot better down the stretch than they already were. But hey, Charlotte got “The Vanilla Gorilla” Joel Pryzbilla out of the deal. Anytime you could get a clumsy center for an elite wing defender, you have to do it right? Utah leads 12-9 early, commercial break.

7:26 p.m.- Speaking of Charlotte, they are currently losing 23-18 to the Anaheim (or Sacramento) Kings. Right now on the floor for Charlotte is Stephen Jackson, DJ Augustin, Gerald Henderson, Boris Diaw and Eduardo Najera. Add Pryzbilla to the mix and this is a wildly mediocre team. Quick flip to the Phoenix at Toronto game and we have Phoenix leading 24-12 with 4 minutes left in the first quarter. Vince Carter still gets serenaded with boo’s every time he touches the ball. Translation: there is no hope for LeBron in Cleveland.

7:30 p.m.- Time for Miami Heat Basketball on Sun Sports with Eric Reid and Tony Fiorentino! New faces on the Wizards include Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans and Jordan Crawford. I think I would bet my unborn son that the Heat win big tonight.

7:35 p.m.- Scores at the end of the first quarter:
Utah 24, Indiana 13
Sacramento 30, Charlotte 28
Philadelphia 29, Detroit 22
Phoenix 35, Toronto 14

7:40 p.m.- Local hero Gordan Hayward got his first basket of the game, which resulted in a “Gordan Hayward” chant by the crowd. Yeah, Indiana is in the playoffs as of right now, but when the hometown kid gets a bucket that obviously trumps everything else. Speaking of hometown kids, doesn’t it just feel like Utah is bound to take Jimmer Fredette with New Jersey’s first round pick this year? He is easily the most popular player in the state of Utah since Karl Malone.

7:55 p.m.- Besides the Wizards-Heat game which I am currently watching, we also have New York playing at Cleveland. Could there be two more polar opposite teams right now than the Knicks and Cavaliers? The Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony who has desperately wanted to play there all season. He fits in perfectly with Mike D’Antoni’s coaching style, and they are suddenly being considered as a legitimate contender in the East. And not only did they acquire Carmelo, they also got a former Finals MVP in Chauncey Billups who played exceptionally well in his first game as a Knick. The Cavaliers traded for Baron Davis who before the season almost binge ate himself out of the league. He has feuded with Cavs coach Byron Scott in the past, and Cleveland is by far the worst team in the NBA. But what does that matter? Cleveland leads 16-10 early. Also, Santino Charles Giuliano Jr. might be in trouble. Washington is on top of Miami 16-9 halfway through the first quarter.

8:00 p.m.- According to Jazz announcers Craig Bolerjack and Matt Harpring, Josh McRoberts is playing with an edge tonight because Indiana attempted to trade him in a package deal for OJ Mayo. I could be wrong, but I just don’t see McRoberts as one of those guys who play with an edge.

8:10 p.m.- Score update time:
Washington 25, Miami 20- End of first quarter
New York 30, Cleveland 28- End of first quarter
Utah 43, Indiana 38- Halftime
Philadelphia 59, Detroit 49- Halftime
Phoenix 60, Toronto 42- Halftime
Charlotte 52, Sacramento 44
We now have eight games on television…eight. New Orleans, who made a sneaky good deal for Carl Landry is playing in Minnesota who sent Corey Brewer to New York and received 360 lb. Eddy Curry and 160 lb. Anthony Randolph (those weights are approximate). On ESPN we have Orlando hosting Oklahoma City who may have made the second best deal at the deadline. Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson aren’t playing tonight, but the Thunder addressed their two biggest needs: A.) An interior defender with a mean streak, B.) A player who can come off the bench and spell Durant as the scorer on floor. The Thunder just made a serious splash in the Western Conference. I am unsure how this trade affects Boston. From a chemistry standpoint, it cripples them. This was a team that loved playing with each other. From a toughness standpoint, they lost their enforcer. However, Boston was in desperate need of a wing defender who could give Boston quality minutes off the bench. So we need to wait and see what this does for the Celtics. I personally hope they crumble without his presence.

A Loyal Heat Fan

8:22 p.m.- Dwyane Wade has scored 18 points in the first four minutes of the second quarter. These types of spurts that we see so often from Wade and LeBron give me hope that even though the Heat lack so much, they could still end up flipping the switch come playoff time.

8:45 p.m.- Carmelo Anthony has 19 points as New York and Cleveland are tied at 53 going into halftime. Miami leads Washington 63-61 at halftime. Nick Young with his Lenny Kravitz hair cut has 24 points. He is working his way into a select group of players that shoots wayyyyyyyyy too much and will shoot from anywhere on the floor. In case you were wondering, that group includes Michael Redd, Gilbert Arenas, Quincy Douby, Eddie House, and Brian Cook. BYU star Jimmer Fredette is the college inductee to this group. In his defense his range reaches to roughly 35 feet. I must say, I am beyond excited to see BYU visit San Diego State tomorrow afternoon.

8:58 p.m.- Utah and Indiana, and Sacramento and Charlotte are all tight games in the fourth quarter, but I want to check out the 7th place Philadelphia 76ers. Right now they are putting a beat down on Detroit, which isn’t really saying much I guess, considering Detroit hasn’t scored yet in the 4th quarter. From what I’ve seen in approximately five minutes of watching is they are extremely athletic (the lineup right now is Jrue Holliday, Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, and Marreese Speights) and they have thus far played very unselfishly. They lead 98-78 halfway through the 4th quarter.

9:10 p.m.- For two hours I’ve been thinking of a way I could bring a certain point up in a funny or clever way but I can’t think of one. So I guess I’ll just throw it out there. I think Andrei Kirilenko styled his hair based on a female toddlers haircut. It might be the worst in the NBA right now. Meanwhile, Charlotte leads Sacramento 103-91. Just imagine how much better they are going to be once they insert Pryzbilla into their rotation.

9:25 p.m.- All of the 7 p.m. games have come to a close. Detroit fell to Philadelphia 110-94. Utah defeated Indiana 95-84. Charlotte defeated Sacramento 110-98. And Phoenix wins in Toronto 110-92 behind 17 points from Vince Carter. Cleveland leads New York 83-75 at the end of the third quarter. Baron Davis is not playing in this game. Sources are saying he is at the Pizza Hut buffet.

9:35 p.m.- Time to check out New Orleans at Minnesota, where Kevin Love is looking to extend his double-double streak to 45 games now, which is absolutely amazing if you really think about it. I guess on a team as bad as Minnesota somebody needs to get all of the rebounds. His 31-31 game this year remains the most impressive stat line of the season. Right now he has 11-9 with Minnesota trailing 66-54 with four minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

9:45 p.m.- Miami leads Washington 104-92 halfway through the 4th quarter behind a strong game from Dwyane Wade. Mike Bibby has played all of the fourth quarter so far. I’m sure he is really excited to be the back-up point guard on a bottom of the pack Washington Wizards team.

10:00 p.m.- Washington is wisely using the Hack-a-Shaq method on Erick Dampier. I have been to eight NBA games in my life, and I can say with confidence that Erick Dampier is the worst offensive player I have ever seen as far as warm-ups goes. He couldn’t make a jump shot outside of 12 feet. Destroying my point, Dampier made 3 of 4 free throws during this stretch.

10:05 p.m.- Funniest moment of the night just happened in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers upset the Knicks 115-109 . After Daniel Gibson knocked down a huge three pointer for Cleveland, the Cavs announcers are raving about how Baron Davis has to be excited about joining this team… Cut to Baron Davis sobbing while stuffing his face with food.

10:20 p.m.- We’ll finish up with the Thunder and Magic, with Orlando leading 90-79. I really wish Perkins were healthy and playing right now so we could see how this new look Thunder team would look. Plus the Howard/Perkins matchup is always fun to watch. Perkins does as good of a job as anyone in the league at bothering Howard, so this trade tells me Boston isn’t worried about Orlando this year. By the way, I’m not big on the whole Dwight Howard-Hakeem Olajuwon comparison, mainly because Olajuwon was the second best player of the 90’s, but Howard deserves a lot of credit for what has he done this year. The Arenas trade has been a disaster and for the most part Orlando has been underwhelming. Howard has had his best season by far though. I love that he called out his teammates after the loss against Sacramento. As much as it terrifies me, I’m waiting for smile-all-the-time Dwight Howard to be replaced by let’s-get-this-f’ing-win Dwight Howard. He has 34 points and 13 rebounds tonight.

10:25 p.m.- Suddenly Oklahoma City can’t make a shot and Orlando has knocked down back to back threes. I guess we’ll end the diary here since a 3 and a half hour diary plus nearly 3 hours of homework has beaten the hell out of me. So what has this diary taught me about the NBA and the trades that were made? Well nothing really. I needed a column for this weekend and I love the NBA so if you mix the two you get a 2,000 plus word account of meaningless February basketball. Hope you enjoyed!