Fast Break

Kurt —  June 20, 2005

For Father’s Day I got to sit and watch an entire NBA playoff game relatively uninterrupted (and thanks to TiVo, nothing is missed). And what a game to catch. Duncan doing his Shaq imitation from the free throw line, Horry looking young and a close game with drama. Now that is why I love this game.

While watching I scribbled some notes on the Lakers and other things, so here they are:

• If you’re Rasheed Wallace, wouldn’t one of your most painful memories be the 2000 Western Conference Finals, when your Trailblazers lost to the Lakers, including blowing a 15-point lead in game seven? Wouldn’t you remember what a key part of those games Robert Horry was in beating you? Wouldn’t that be seared into your brain even five years later? Then why do you leave him to double Manu in the corner and let him have an open three with the game on the line?

• The underrated coaching move of game 5 was the Spurs putting Bowen on Billups in the fourth quarter. Billups had been eating Parker alive and he was the obvious go to guy — then when Bowen went on him the Pistons struggled.

• Draft rumors are flying faster than a Jamaican sprinter. Eric Pincus at Hoopsworld again does the best wrap up in his new article. Among the things worth noting, he says that the Devean George, Slava Medvedenko and the 37th pick to the Indiana Pacers for Jonathan Bender and the 17th pick deal is done. He said the Lakers are talking several deals, including a couple with the Hornets that could net Jamaal Magloire and PJ Brown for Caron Butler and some last year contracts. He said that the Lakers are high on high schooler Gerald Green. He said a lot more, it’s a must read.

• There are almost as many NBA Draft Web sites as blogs, and with just as many opinions. Here is who a number of them say the Lakers will take (assuming they stay at 10):

Draft Express: Channing Frye
Hoopshype: Fran Vazquez
NBADraft.net: Charlie Villanueva
Basketball draft central: Jarrett Jack
Inside Hoops: Martynas Andriuskevicius
Yahoo: Charlie Villanueva
ESPN: Raymod Felton

• I hope to have a point guards draft preview for the Laker up tomorrow, Wednesday at the latest.

• Dan Rosenbaum — who was involved in the negotiations during the last round of CBA bargaining — has posted an in depth piece about the current NBA negotiations. He makes suggestions on keeping youth not ready out of the league and ways to reduce contract length that are innovative. Very interesting, but clear out some time on the schedule because it’s not a short read.

• Bill Simmons at ESPN.com has been ripping on using Rob Thomas’ highly annoying “This Is How A Heart Breaks” bumper music for the NBA Finals. He’s right. But what’s bugging me more is Coors Light taking a song that was good to start with — Love Train by the O’Jays — and poisoning it for me by turning it into a commercial with a train full of bad beer. That is the song that is stuck in my head — which wouldn’t be so bad but now I associate it with swill beer and that’s what ticks me off. It was like when Sinatra’s “Just the way you look, tonight” became a Michelob commercial — why does Sinatra want to take a good song and associate it with that crap? (I always thought the “It’s not beer — it’s Michelob” slogan was ironically accurate.)

• Look at how deep the Western Conference is right now and you see why it will be hard just for Phil and the Lakers to make the playoffs next year. Just off the top of my head: San Antonio, Phoenix, Dallas, Denver and Houston will be the top five, and I might put Seattle there depending on what happens with their many free agents. Only two teams could potentially fall out and they are both pretty good — Sacramento and Memphis. Ready to swoop in are Minnesota, Golden State with Baron Davis, the Clippers and the Lakers. There are just few easy games in the West and who can stay healthy will be a big factor.

• New Minnesota coach Dwayne Casey was one of the guys stats guru Dean Oliver worked well with in Seattle, according to a message board post from Oliver himself. Minnesota is a team with a lot of potential to very good again very soon.

Kurt

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