Thanks. Just want to say a quick thank you to Rob and Gatinho for holding down the fort here while I spent four days unplugged/with the family/overeating/mourning Notre Dame. Great job, as always, guys.
50 ways to beat the East. Looking for a good reason to bet the Lakers tonight? How about this: In the games so far between Eastern and Western conference teams, the West leads 51-18.
Another reason to like the Lakers tonight. The Bucks are banged up. Former Clipper and all around solid player Bobby Simmons has not stepped on the court yet. Then there was recently-acquired Charlie Villanueva, who through the first eight games of the season had been showing a consistency he lacked last season with a PER of 22.43, based largely on his good 55.7% True Shooting Percentage (like points per shot attempt) and that he was pulling down 16.1% of the available rebounds when he was on the floor. Then he tore a ligament in his elbow and is out for at least another month. The Bucks are not deep enough to absorb those losses, hence they are 2-8 in their last 10.
One more reason to like the Lakers. The Bucks have been horrible defensively, with a defensive ranking of 113.0 (points per 100 opponent possessions), next to last in the NBA. (The Lakers are 18th in the league at 107.4.) Good news for Smush (and Jordan Farmar, who found his three-point stroke against the Nets) is that point guards have been tearing up the Bucks. Bye-bye T.J. Ford, bye-bye defense, I guess. Opposing points are shooting 55.4% (eFG%), and over the course of a 48 minutes game are scoring 26 points and dishing out 11 assists.
The good news for the rest of the Lakers is the Bucks are not really defending any position well.
The Redd Rocker. The lone bright spot for the Bucks has been Michael Redd, who continues to prove he is one of the best pure shooters in the game. He carries about 26% of the teamâ€™s offense when he is on the floor â€” basically the same amount as Kobe does for the Lakers â€” and has a True Shooting Percentage of 59.7%, better than Kobeâ€™s 59% (both are very good numbers, especially considering the offensive load).
And let me say on a personal note â€” Redd, your national team needs you.
Bringing up an old topic. Iâ€™m not sold that there are NBA referee conspiracies, for the same reason I donâ€™t believe in government ones (no aliens at Area 51, no government plan to knock down the World Trade Center Towers) â€” to believe it ascribes a level of competence to the organization that I donâ€™t think it has. I donâ€™t think the US government is capable of killing JFK, covering up the evidence and keeping it quiet. They canâ€™t do that with the little things for six months, but they can keep a presidential assasination quiet for decades?
The bigger problem for the NBA is that whether the refs are taking orders or not, a lot more people than John. R. think they are â€” check out this interesting post from Henry at True Hoop. Apparently some players and coaches think there is something to it. And, I think itâ€™s safe to say that the NBA under Stern is more competant than the federal government ever has been, soâ€¦.
Things to look for. The Lakers should dominate the Bucks on the boards; they are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. The Bucks grab just 23.4% of their missed shots (next to last in the league, the Lakers are 12th at 28.5%), and they are also next to last in the league in giving up offensive rebounds (opposing teams grab 31.5% of their misses).
The guy who, if he gets hot, could be trouble for the Lakers is guard Maurice Williams. He takes the second most shots on the team but is shooting just 44.5% on the season. So long as he keeps up his season numbers the Lakers have little to worry about, but if he has a hot night the Bucks have a good backcourt.
This is the â€œeasyâ€ game before tough ones against the Clippers and Utah the rest of the week. This is the place good teams get a win. The Lakers need to keep winning these home games before the schedule toughens up.