Preview & Chat: The OKC Thunder

Kurt —  February 24, 2009

Records: Lakers 46-10 (1st in the West) Thunder 13-43 (14th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 114.2 (1st in league) Thunder 103.7 (27th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.5 (7th in league) Thunder 110.3 (24th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Thunder Russell Westbrook, Kyle Weaver, Kevin Durant, Nick Collison, Jeff Green

Lakers Coming In: Lots of concern around Lakers nation about the minutes Pau Gasol is racking up — in the Lakers last 10 games he is averaging 42 minutes, in the overtime game the other night he played 49. Is that too many for a guy coming off the Summer Olympics that the Lakers need to be ready to go come playoff time?

It’s a Catch 22: Do you want home court advantage? Because, play more Powell (who has been solid but is not Gasol) or DJ Mbenga and the Lakers lose games like that last one. Or, you play hard now and maybe get some rest later in the season (and remember, the first round of the playoffs has a lot of days off in there). Phil Jackson told the OC Register’s Kevin Ding he is thinking of taking door number two. He is not going to start cutting back Gasol.

“No, not yet,” he said after Sunday’s victory against Minnesota. “Maybe in April at some point we may watch it. We’ve shut down players before and gave them a week off here and there — players that we thought needed the rest at times during the end of the regular season. But at this particular point, we’re still pushing on.”

Gasol is not 35, he’s young and as long as he is holding up, I think you need to ride the train. What would be nice is a couple of blowouts so he and Kobe and Fish can get some minutes cut back.

And for those thinking we need to get someone or should not have let Mihm go: There is nobody who replaces Pau or gives you better minutes than Powell out there. Did you see Mihm play? I like Mikki Moore as a solid backup guy (he will fit in well and help some in Boston) but he is no better than Powell. And he was the best guy out there. The Lakers roster is the Lakers roster, and frankly it is good enough to get everything we as fans and the team wants this year.

The Thunder Coming In: Two guys have seen the Thunder in person recently, our own Darius and Brett from Fanhouse. Both of them sent me some thoughts on OKC, which I will paraphrase here:

First, Kevin Durant is the real deal. Brett said he seems to score quiet points in the sense that he does not just take over a game the way Kobe or LeBron will, but he scores seemingly every time he touches the ball. Darius said he is already one of the elite scorers in the game: “his length and long stride enable him to get to basket easily against players that play him too closely. He is also rebounding much better and filling the lane on the break quite well. He’s getting to the foul line and shooting the 3 ball well too.” Darius suggests if you work to deny him the ball you can do it, he doesn’t fight for it enough.

Former Bruin Russell Westbrook amazes everyone with his athleticism, but he may really be a two forced to run the point right now. Darius thought he looked better as the two with Watson on the floor, but even at the point Westbrook will make amazing plays and can finish at the rim on the break or in the half court. But, he’s a rookie and makes a lot of rookie mistakes and turnovers as well.

Darius on Jeff Green: “Jeff Green is a bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic Luke Walton. He was crafty in the post and showed a nice jumper too. He was physical on the boards and was just a right place, right time type of player.

And one final note from Brett: But Scott Brooks seems like a tortured soul who can’t figure out how to get the most or best out of his young team, so they lose a lot, and lose big. OKC is a likable team with a future, but especially against teams like the Lakers, the future is most certainly anything but now.

Keys To The Game: The Lakers have a big advantage in the paint, but in the last meeting did not really exploit that. Do it tonight and they should win big.

Another big advantage for the Lakers, from Darius looking at OKC: SG is their weakness and it’s a big one. They need to address this in the draft or get a steadier PG and move Westbrook there…. Maybe Thabo will help them eventually, but he didn’t look ready against the W’s. I really think this is a team that could use a Bowen/Raja Bell type that could guard the other teams wings while also shooting the ball from the corner.

Um, I think the Lakers have a pretty good two guard. He could have a big night.

The Lakers have to not give up the fast break points and easy buckets to this team. The Thunder struggle in the half court but can hang if you let them get Durant and Westbrook and Watson out and running. This team has athletes, you can’t get into that game with them and blow them out.

Where you can watch: 5 pm start out West on KCAL 9 and online at your favorite locations.

Kurt

Posts

216 responses to Preview & Chat: The OKC Thunder

  1. the other Stephen February 24, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    plus, josh powell’s jumpshot is a beauty! mikki moore’s is more like a structurally unsound work of architecture.

  2. I’m actually glad this game did not win the NBA TV fan-night brodcast. Not only have the Lakers struggled on NBA TV on tuesdays in the past this year, I cannot stand Gary Payton, and would rather watch a poor quality internet link than hear a single word out of his mouth…

  3. Always fun to watch Durant.

    I’m interested to see the Thunder w/ Sefalosha. Obviously he’s not going to make a massive franchise-changing difference, but I think he will be a pretty solid player for the Thunder.

    Hopefully we come out with a little more fire compared to Sunday in Minnesota. If we take advantage of all the mismatches (and there are plenty) we should be able to get Pau some rest before he has to gear up and guard Shaq on Thursday.

  4. I was annoyed by the level of play in MN as anyone but I think there is a give and take. Like Kurt said for tonight, you’d love to see a blowout where our stars don’t have to play the 4th so as to keep their energy in reserve.

    But the flipside of that, if I’m a player who actually has to get up for the games is that to get the blowup going I may have to expend more energy earlier in the contest. Faced with travel through the less sparkling cities of the nba and 3 games facing high powered offenses later, it is probably pretty easy to just save your energy early in the game instead. Maybe that keeps the game close and leads to you needing to expend more energy in the 4th quarter, but its often easier to find energy reserves when you HAVE to than when you just know you should.

    So I’m not expecting a blowout from the first quarter. But this is one advantage of our young bench- sometimes they come in and provide that burst that allows the starters to coast. Unfortunately they haven’t lately, and it’s been bad timing, when we’re worried about the minutes people are accruing.

  5. I got a little shock to my system because my brain initially interpreted the line “Gasol is not 35″ as “Gasol is only 35″. Whew. Mini-nightmare.

  6. Mikki Moore is/was terrible. I was hoping for a Rasho Nesterovic or Drew Gooden buyout but that is not likely.

    I thought Thabo Sefolosha was starting?

  7. I would like to marry Kevin Durant’s jumpshot. That is all.

  8. A question for the sharp minds here – Why is it that Boston seems to often have a large margin of victory while the Lakers seem to squeak by some weak opponents?

    Obviously, the Lakers have proven that they are best team (in the regular season), but this just seems a little strange to me.

    Are the Lakers just conserinv energy – or is there something inherent in the make up of the teams of the styles that causes this disparity?

  9. #8, I think it has a lot to do with defense, or lack thereof. Cleveland and Boston usually set the tone from the beginning and sometimes there’s a blowout by halftime. Lakers let opponents hang around, grow in confidence, and end up winning by a lot less.

  10. Uch, ESPN says Knicks and Marbury near buyout – I do not want him on the C’s this June.

  11. Stephon Marbury, Finals MVP??

    Aside from KG, I’ve heard it said (here, by Kurt?) that Boston always brings it as an extension of their coach’s personality. Doc coaches for every game while PJ coaches for the playoffs, and over time it shows in his players’ attitudes. I’m sure the original theoretician on this can do a better job of providing the case than I can though…

  12. I’d be happy if Marbury were on the Celtics in June as it would likely mean they were not in the finals and made the mistake of resigning him…

    I can’t think of a stranger decision than adding a washed up, cancerous, media whore to a team whose strength comes from its chemistry, professionalism, and dedication to the unselfish details of the game.

  13. To the question about margin of victory:

    The Lakers earlier in the season played many games where they sat Kobe, Pau, and Bynum in the fourth. Margin of victory in that case suffers when you’re going into the fourth up 25 and only win by 10.

  14. 12. Reed – Not to mention, the guy hasn’t played in -what – two years??

  15. Finding some nexus between tonight’s matchup and the Marbury news:

    If you were a Celtics fan and could rewind the clock, with the option of picking Durant in the 2008 draft, would you rather:

    (1) Trade away everything for KG, Allen, a title, and another year or two of solid contending, or

    (2) Enjoy a 7-10 year window with Durant, Jefferson, Pierce, Rondo, Delonte, etc.?

    I know it’s a false dichotomy as the Celtics pushed towards option one primarily because they did NOT get Durant, but it underscores the strangeness of the team. They are a collection of punted stars and castaway veterans. Garnett, Allen, Posey, Cassell, Brown, Moore, Marbury — none of these players have any roots in Boston. They came quickly and many of them left quickly. If it was your team, would some part of you rather see a homegrown team chart its own course, especially if Durant was part of it? Is there a player less lovable than Marbury?

  16. 8- I’m not sure this addresses your comment exactly, but I just checked Yahoo Sports and they have the Lakers average margin of victory at +8.3 pts/game while the Celtics are +9.7 pts/game. Another way of looking at it would be the Lakers outscore opponents by 8.2% on average while the Celtics outscore their foes by 11% on average. Sounds like both teams are pretty hot! Glad we own the tie breaker …

  17. Reed – As easy as it is to dump on Stephon Marbury, I must say that Jerome James is less lovable.

  18. Seriously, Reed … Marbury joining the Celtics is almost too much; it’s like they’ve become the villains in a not-particularly-original sports comedy.

  19. any addition for the celtics is scary. If they get Marbury that’s another wild card they can bring off the bench and give them a spark. As is the celtics are already good enough to beat the lakers. I hope mikki Moore is a disaster for them.

  20. If Marbury joins the Celtics, it’d bring back memories of our team when we added Karl Malone and Gary Payton.

    Regarding close games and blowouts… I think it depends on what kinda team you have. For Boston, it is imperative that they rest their big 3 as much as possible and guard them from any injury as well; for us, it’s probably more preferred that we gain experience playing in close games, playing playoff minutes, etc.

    Surely Kobe and Fisher need no such experience, and Odom won’t perform constantly regardless, but Pau needs more experience (I kinda want him on the floor demanding and making plays when Kobe is not to prepare us for contingencies) and our bench certainly needs to play in tight games where they feel more pressure than just burn minutes.

  21. seems the knicks and marbury reached an agreement for a buyout. hes probably going to the celtics as well as mikki moore.

  22. 8

    The Lakers tend to lose their defensive discipline against teams they know they can beat on pure talent. So while they never get blown out themselves, they also end up in a number of close games against clearly inferior teams.

  23. Wow… Celtics fans are now talking about showering in champagne and beer again after news of Marbury’s buyout spread. Talk about counting your chickens before your eggs first…

  24. any links for the game?

  25. Lets have a pool. I got Lakers by 9 tonight, 111, 102.

  26. link anyone?

  27. Any links NOT justintv? For some reason justintv lags for me.

  28. 8,

    The Celtics bring an overwhelming defensive intensity every night; Garnett — and by extension, Rivers — doesn’t allow them to coast for a minute until garbage time. It’s great until your team runs out of gas. The Celtics 2-7 slide after we beat them after Christmas was as much running out of gas in the tank as it was psychological. You can only put the pedal on the gas too much.

    On the other hand, the Lakers rarely bring their A-game against teams they are clearly better than and can win on pure talent. This especially reflects on the defensive end, where our effort ranges from lackluster to outright embarrassing at times. That said, look at the Boston or Cleveland games, and our defensive intensity for much of the game is through the roof. This strategy allows us to conserve energy for the playoffs, and is a consequence of Phil’s coaching and considering the season as an 82 game plus playoffs affair rather than a night-to-night experience.

    You can debate the merits of both, but it explains why our margin of victory is a tad bit smaller than Boston and Cleveland. We don’t blow out people that often.

  29. Lakers 115 Thunder 109

  30. http://nba.tom.com/video/ for a chinese feed, you might have to install a program to watch (i did for firefox but it’s working fine so whatever). The announcers are quiet enough you can hear the crowd/players which is nice

  31. Wow…Lots going on.

    I should say that I agree 100% with Brett from Fanhouse. Durant does score “quietly” and doesn’t put his imprint on the game in any sort of spectacular way. He just buries shot after shot and before you know it, he’s got 30. Against the Warriors, you just saw him casually make the catch, turn and face, and then bury the 20 foot jumper. So clean and effortless…which is amazing in its own right, but not like Kobe or Wade or Lebron. I will say that he is quite the determined player though. He does attack on offense, but it’s just strange how he does so in a way that just isn’t in your face. He’s a fantastic talent.

    As for Reed’s question about Boston, there are a lot of layers there. For one, I’m not sure if Rondo or Perkins ever develop into the players they are now without KG on board and them winning the title. He’s been (seemingly) so instrumental in instilling a mentality in their team that I have difficulty seeing the leap in development for those two players happening in this same manner w/o KG on board (I also think winning the ring has given these guys the confidence that makes them true believers in their ability to affect the game). I also wonder if Pierce shows this same level of commitment on defense without KG. I also wonder how a team with Rondo, West, Pierce, Durant, and Jefferson share the ball (especially on the perimeter) and who anchors their interior defense. Lots of questions for me if those trades never happen and their able to land KD in the draft.

    As for a potential add of Marbury (along with the real add of Moore), I think this is the Celtics trying to duplicate last year’s additions of Cassell and Brown. However this years guys aren’t nearly the quality people (nor veteran presence) that Sam and PJ were. Marbury is obviously much more explosive a talent, but he’s also a much more explosive personality. And while he continues to *say* the right things, doing them has never been his m.o. As for Moore, he’s no where near the defender that PJ was and his game is much more limited on the glass and as a spot up shooter. Sure, he’s got the height, but he doesn’t have the strength to keep players from establishing the deep post nor does he have the innate ability to deter shots at the rim. Basically, while this helps the Celtics (especially their depth) it doesn’t bring the quality that I think they’ll need to win the title. If they do win, it will be on the shoulders of their Big 3 (and Rondo) and not their role players. And that’s where the difference lies…last season Posey, Brown, and House came up huge for them in ways that I don’t think these new guys will. And while their Big 3 is capable, I just wonder if they’ll be enough.

  32. Starbury’s buyout is official. He just has to clear waivers now. I think that solidifies their roster now. They are banking on Moore and Marbury to hold down what Powe, Davis, Scalabrine and Eddie House couldn’t.

    Let’s say Marbury is in shape and ready to go, I’m still trying to recall any stretch when he played the kind of ball he’d have to play to be a succesful backup on this team. Even if he tries to be a model, I don’t know if his instincts understand what will be asked of him.

  33. Nice highlights from Luke in that 1st Q

  34. glad to see Luke playing with some verve.

    ahem, did the Machine call bank on that one?

  35. I think the Celtics would be making a mistake in picking up Marbury. He doesn’t have the mindset or the skill set to be a backup in my opinion, and I don’t see too many opportunities for him and Rondo to play together a lot. IF he can accept playing 20 minutes a night and watching from the bench at the end of games, it could work, but I just don’t see that happening. However, given their over-reliance on Rondo’s playmaking, I can see why they are considering the move.

    Moore is neither here nor there to me. He does have height and length but routinely gets bullied in the post. PJ Brown he most definitely is not.

  36. bench looking great so far

  37. Josh Powell’s midrange J is money in the bank.

  38. Pau could go for another triple double…

  39. Is anyone else not getting the game on NBA league pass?

  40. I can’t believe Weaver…he couldn’t buy a bucket the other night against the Warriors.

  41. When did Kyle Weaver learn to shoot 3s?

  42. I know I’m in the minority on this, but I think that the Celtics made the right call with Marbury.

    First, there are only 24 games in the season for the C’s and, even if Marbury returns to his cancerous self, the impact any of his shenanigans can have on the team is minimized. Second, Marbury has a tremendous upside (he has the talent and potential for scoring 20+ points on any given night) and, once back to basketball shape, could be a very lethal backup to Allen and may even challenge Rondo for minutes. Third, a guy with the ego of Marbury has to be itching to prove the Knicks wrong. The best way he can do this is by making the C’s better – even if it means putting his ego in check for bit. Marbury is no dummy. And finally, Marbury will be playing for a strong contender and playing alongside 3 potential hall of famers (well, maybe just KG ;-) ). While players like him like to complain about their minutes, they often do so when playing for teams that are struggling at the bottom or are in danger of not making the playoffs. Here, Marbury will be on a winning team, playing very strong b-ball. Thus, I don’t think it is a stretch to predict that he will keep quiet and try to contribute.

    Of course this assumes that the Celtics will keep pace with their winning record. I can see a situation where if the Celtics get into a losing streak (say 6-8 games), Marbury may get frustrated and return to his old tricks of requesting more playing time – particularly if Rondo is struggling. However, by what I have seen in the last two Celtic games, I don’t think this is going to be the case.

    Nevertheless, I still think that this Laker team has the depth to compete against a deeper Celtic PG roster. Frankly, the only issue I see in a potential Lakers-Celtics rematch is the addition of Mikki Moore. While not a tremendous offensive/defensive threat, he is a big body that may prove useful for the C’s in the event that Drew is not available for what I hope is a Finals rematch, particularly as part of an overall strategy to tire Paul Gasol down – which is a growing concern due to his increased minutes.

    Anyway, just my five cents.

  43. I agree with you completely Manny

  44. When was the last time you saw someone get called for 5 seconds?

  45. Pittsburgh just lost to Providence. the Big east is sick!

  46. Why do commentators always talk about ‘making a play on the ball’ when it comes to flagrant fouls? Isn’t it about whether the contact is ‘unnecessary and/or excessive’?

  47. C’s got nothing to lose, so I can’t see how it can be a wrong choice to sign him, unless there were better options out there. I mean, if Cassel could still play, this would’ve been debatable…

    As for our game, Durant’s line may cause Kobe to focus on his line as opposed to the team’s…

  48. any other links on the web?

  49. Re: point differential

    LA was up with a decent lead, then hit a dry stpell. OKC cuts it to 10 on a Durant 3. After the Timeout, Phil responds with… the bench? Kobe sits and a lineup of Farmar, Sasha, Trevor, Powell and Pau. Instead of actively trying to stop the OKC run, he seems to be encouraging it.

    Why? Is he trying to force the bench to get their act together? Give the team close game experience against a lesser opponent? Or just realizes that his substitution pattern is more important now than a win against a non playoff opponent? I don’t know, but its clear PJ isn’t too worried.

    Would the Cavs or Celtics have the intestinal fortitude to do that?

  50. You know something is wrong when we have “Beat L.A.” chants from the OKC crowd…

  51. Our bench is in a funk. Starters work hard to get a big lead, bench lets it dwindle.

  52. Yeah, forgot we had this Ariza kid.

  53. anyone know what phil is thinking taking kobe out with 3 mins left in the 3rd when they are making a run

  54. Once again, the bench is really struggling to generate good shots.

  55. How many tempo changing plays have we had like this from Ariza this season? Fun, fun.

  56. Sasha’s $15M contract is looking like a big mistake…

  57. As much as we are eyeing the best record, we have a bit more emphasis on the ultimate prize.

    Phil wants players (and Kobe) to know that there will be times when they have to hold their ground without Kobe on the court to hog the opponent’s attention.

    This will all pay off, since it has the added bonus of having Kobe rest.

  58. Phil knows that a third quarter run against the reserves won’t win or lose the game. Give the reserves a chance to work through it (how do they look like they’ve never played in this offense before??) and if they can’t Kobe is still fresh for crunch time.

  59. From Kobes look on the bench you knew he was going to go on a tear….

    Sasha seems to want to do too much. I think he is trying to maximize his playing time so he over thinks. If he goes back to playing off the ball and spotting up for threes he will do much better

  60. kobe looking good today. just one of those nights… could go for 40 easy

  61. Stop! Kobe time!

    I don’t have a problem with the reserves playing through their mistakes, but it’s worrying that they continue to struggle in the halfcourt. Sasha in particular seems like a liability a lot of the time and can’t hit a shot to get into heaven.

  62. kobe grabbing his ankle… here we go :(

  63. Sorry I am quiet tonight, I’ve got serious computer issues.

    Teams at home do not just roll over, and the bench really misses Lamar (or Bynum could do the trick) to give them an option in the half court.

  64. I agree with Lakergirl. Since the run in with Ariza Sasha has tried to be more all around. He’ll drive and try to create when before he’d just shoot. When he does shoot, he thins for a second if he should do something else- and that kills his rhythm. I appreciate his desire to be an all around player (and his assists are up this season) but we could really use the assassin without a conscience. Let farmar or Pau or Odom create.

  65. Don’t worry…Kobe has ankle insurance.

  66. i am not watching this game and someone just mentioned kobe grabbing his ankle…
    update please?

  67. The OKC announcers say Kobe has missed half his FTs, the box score says he’s 9-11. Somebody’s wrong.

    Controversial statement: Durant is a better scorer than Lebron

  68. Pau looks tired – good thing Kobe’s on.

  69. Kobe is 10-13

    maybe he has missed half of his free throws this half?

  70. And Fisher closes the deal. That should be that.

  71. 65- he fell awkwardly on his right leg, took his tiome getting up and stretching it. Nothing serious for kobe.

  72. I feel like if Phil is willing to force the subs in like he did in the third quarter, why not force feed Mbenga some minutes and give Odom more of Pau’s? LO should have fresh legs from his time on the bench and didn’t play this summer. That’s my only complaint for PJ on the substituting patterns…

    And as I say that Powell comes in for Pau.

  73. I cannot for the life of me understand why The knicks would not just wait until March 2nd to take care of this?

    Why did they allow him to have the oppurtunity to play for another team?

  74. Yea, Tacos!

    Wait, that wasn’t Staples….

  75. Behzad, to save money. Wait until he can’t play for another team and what is Marbury’s motivation to take less money. Also remember, for the Knicks, every dollar they save in a buyout they get another dollar saved on the luxury tax. $2 million becomes $4 million in savings.

  76. Yea… I see that. I just actually feel like he will help a team. Especially if that team was Miami.

    For boston…they get offense off the bench. The knicks may get boston in the first round…is the 4 million worth it?

  77. “stop…kobe time” — that’s really a nice line there. reminds me of a rap song of some mc hammer or sorts.

    i really don’t know if chemistry and personality issues with marbury can outweigh his pluses when and if he decides to be focused on winning again. he forgot it sometime down the road.

    again, bench struggling. it pains me to see sasha hoist so many 3s that either hit the front rim or go in and out after a rattle. he has to get his rhythm back. does not seem like he lost confidence on that shot. lamar had a quiet night but logged in a lot of minutes. am thinking we could have pushed the lead higher if he went active today. feels good to see him drain the triple.

    thank heavens kobe is alright. GO LAKERS!

  78. Further on marbury: let’s not forget that one of our great advantages against the hated ones this season was implementing the SSZ/trap against house when rondo was out. In fact, it seemed like House got in trouble every time we’d bring pressure. While Marbury in green truly solidifies the celtics as a force of pure evil in the universe, I think he’s going to help them substantially.

    All they need is to add Raja Bell to perfect their role as the bball equivalent of the Legion of Doom.

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s no longer about winning a championship this year: it’s about saving the free world.

  79. 77. Best post of the day, IMO. You deserve a large cookie good sir.

    http://thehealthblogger.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/cookie.jpg

  80. Marbury hasn’t played in 13 months. He’s 32. I’m waiting to see what he’s got on the court first. Even when you stay in shape, that doesn’t mean nba game shape.

    This would definitely sweeten a NY-BOS first round, but otherwise I don’t see it having the impact that it sounds like it could have.

    PJ Brown an Posey made careers out of the roles they played on the Celtics last year. This feels more like Jr Rider on the Lakers.

  81. I think Marbury will be fool’s gold for the Celtics, and his rustiness might even cost them home court advantage vs the Cavs and Lakers. I wonder how much speed and explosiveness he’s lost. I don’t see him and Mikki Moore as being the difference for the C’s in a tough playoff series. I think our guys will be playing Lebron, his crab dribble, and the rest of the Cavs in the Finals.

  82. behzad – it is entirely possible that Marbury just doesn’t agree to a buyout of any form if he can’t play for another team anyway. He can cost the Knicks up to 41.6 million if he wants to (I think) and that would be devastating.

    So for the Knicks, it’s not really 4 million but 40 million when compared to the worst case scenario, and considering where they were last season, MAKING the playoffs will exceed their goal ;)

    As much as I like every win we get, it seems that every game, Ariza and Odom are playing themselves into other salivating teams.

  83. Thanks for the various responses to the margin of victory question. It’s probably a combination of most of the factors mentioned. But as I watched tonight’s game the thing that stood out was focus – whether on the defensive end or in runing the offense. It does indeed seem that we often just coast on talent, knowing we are better than other teams. Joel, I liked your observation about the Lakers not getting blown out. I’m trying to recall – have they been blown out at all this year? It does seem we are more about getting the win, than playing flat out, except when we have to (Cleveland, Boston).

    On the topic of Marbury – No doubt he is an upgrade for thier bench, but Boston has Rondo, Allen, KG and the Wheelchair Man. The dude with the star on his dome may give them some points off the bench – but it is not like they are upgrading a starter. I think it is a pretty big risk for not a ton of upside – whose minutes is he going to take? What’s it going to do to Rondo’s mojo?

    Key to the championship is going to be which team has all their starters and key rotation guys healthy. If Ab is back and has some time to work into shape I don’t think anyone can stop us. If he’s not – it will be a free for all and we could still come out on top.

  84. Lil Pau,

    It’s actually the opposite. House stretches the defense and kills our SSZ. Rondo plays into it.

  85. Some career stats for Marbury:

    43.4% FG (though it was down the last few years in NY)
    32.6% 3 pt (though that was up in the last 2 years in NY)
    78.5% FT (though it was down the last few years in NY)

    Every one of those percentages improved as he took more of the shots measured. How many minutess he going to be getting? Are these numbers really better than Eddie House, who is used to his role?

  86. I’m kinda bummed Pau did not get a triple double, he was over half way there before the half ended.

  87. Why is the OKC crowd chanting ‘Beat L.A.’. I respect our rivalry with the Celtics and don’t appreciate their chanting. Besides, it’s just as annoying when they do it!

    I may be in the minority here, but I’m slightly afraid of the Marbury to Boston deal. They’ve just added an all-star (we’ll see) to their bench. As much as he’s been cancerous on other teams, I think Allen, KG, and Wheelchair Man may be able to keep him in check. He has the ability to torch a lot of the leagues 2nd units.

  88. Kurt,

    Interesting analysis of the Big 3-Boston trade. Giving up their youth for title contention now. It’s a tough argument. I don’t believe Pierce would have stuck around had they not improved the roster with KG and Allen. Also, Rondo may not have developed the confidence had this team come around. If they get a few championships out of this, then I’m sure Boston fans will think it’s worth it. I just hope it doesn’t happen!

  89. Just great. First the Cavs might get in the way of our revenge against Boston in the Finals, and now Steph (maybe)?

    I can’t wait until Steph stands the C’s up and signs somewhere else. They’re all loving him and celebrating like it’s a done deal. Like Steph guarantees #18. Wow.

  90. It’s funny, we’re playing the OKC Thunder, but all anyone can talk about is Stephon Marbury. I’d say let the guy actually put on a uniform and play before we start judging if he’ll be effective. Right now there’s just too much to speculate to make any accurate assessments. Now some notes:

    1.) Did anyone see Kevin Durant’s line tonight? 32 points to the tune of 11-20 from the field, 2-4 from 3, 8-9 from the line, 10 boards, 6 assists, 3 steals. Those are Lebron James type numbers. Maybe it’s because he plays for an especially crappy Thunder team, but KD is just playing ridiculously lately.

    2.) Did anyone see what play we were running when the bench was most successful? PNR with Farmar and Powell. We had a couple of easy baskets in the 2nd quarter because we ran Farmar-Powell PNR, built up that 18 point lead, then casually gave it back when we went away from it. It’s obvious that Trevor and Sasha just cannot create within the Triangle, so I think we should be leaning hard on Farmar, given his talent and the brutal efficiency of the PNR with him and Powell.

    3.) We ran the Gasol PNR only once in crunch time, and we got a layup from Kobe out of it. It didn’t really matter because Kobe was making everything, but I just don’t understand why we don’t run this play every time down. It’s literally unstoppable; I’ve yet to see us not get off a good shot when we run it.

    4.) I am very upset with Josh Powell’s one rebound. He is in there to be the energy and clean up the boards. One rebound in 14 minutes is not acceptable.

    5.) I agree, if Phil is willing to let leads slip away to give the subs some learning time, I don’t see why he keeps Mbenga on the bench. It’s obvious that we’re leaning too hard on Gasol and Odom, and just some spot minutes from Mbenga, like 5-10 minutes, will give them both at least a little respite.

    6.) Fish, as always, was the unsung hero, with a couple huge shots in the 4th which really broke the Thunder’s back. Given all the attention Pau has recently received (multiple West player of the week, all-star selection, media coverage for best 2nd option), I think Fish now officially takes over as our most under-appreciated player.

  91. Unless Marbury has an outright revival on the court, he’s not a huge game changer. His All-Star (and third team All-NBA!) days are far behind him, and at this stage of his career, he’s a backup. Even at his best, he was an absolutely horrid defender, and while other players have made a turnaround at that end coming to Boston — *cough* Allen *cough* — I don’t see him not being flammable at that end.

    He’s still a good driver and gets to the line, but his ankle problems and age have taken away a lot of the athleticism he once had. It will be interesting to see what he produces on the court. All this said, the Celtics’ primary problem was their frontcourt depth, and honestly, adding Moore doesn’t help in that department. He’s not stopping Bynum, Gasol, or Odom in the post.

  92. As for the OKC announcers claiming Kobe had missed half his free throws, they said this when he was 4-7. He then hit his next 6. What Marbury and Moore give the Green Meanies is quality depth. It doesn’t mean it will translate into on the court production, but Moore is a scrappy player who plays very decent D. We all know about Starbury the nutcase, but it’s in his best interest to “play nice” and try to help this team win. I pray to the Purple and Gold powers of the universe that he doesn’t end up riding this thing to a ring. Reminds me of watching Antoine Walker and his stupid dance win a ring with the Heat. But I digress…Good win. The main problem that I see is that our bench isn’t effective running the set offensive plays. They are great when they get out and run, but there was no real movement. Luckily we have Kobe and we know what that means. As Joel has so awesomely coined, “Stop. Kobe time!”

  93. This says what I feel about Marbury better than I could say it.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AlIdBeODeVMGlQI9wKOjRjW8vLYF?slug=aw-marburyceltics022409&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

    When deciding whether someone will massively change years of consistent, fundamental behavior because of some new motivation or just stay the same, the good money is always on the latter.

  94. Did anyone else notice how obnoxious the canned noise was at the Ford Center?

    The PA was absolutely BLARING silly sound effects, classic rock riffs and/or hip hop samples on literally every offensive possession for the Thunders, even when the game got close in the 3rd and 4th quarters (you know, when actual, spontaneous crowd noise should have been more than sufficient).

    I know we’re talking about Oklahoma City, but it still seemed a bit bush league.

  95. There’s a reason this might actually work, and it’s the one difference between this stop and every other place he’s been in his career: Marbury needs Boston a lot more than Boston needs Marbury. If Marbury starts wallowing in negativity or playing keepaway from his teammates, the Celtics can just cut him. There are no cap implications, no long-term dollars at stake. Just a short, sweet sayonara.

    The costs of such a move would be virtually nonexistent for Boston — the team would be right back where it is now. But they’d be massive for Marbury. He’s playing for his next NBA contract right now; basically, he’s playing to continue his career. If the Celtics can’t stomach him, it’s doubtful other teams will want to take the same risk this summer; alternatively, if he’s reasonably happy and productive, he likely will lure a few offers and continue his career for at least another year or two. As such, his motivation should be fairly large to be professional, compete and avoid upsetting anybody.

    We don’t know how this would turn out, of course. Perhaps he is too entitled, too unpleasant and/or too erratic to change his ways now. But in this case, Boston appears to have little to lose and quite a bit to gain.

    No, it isn’t worth all this drama just for a backup point guard. But for a quality reserve who can fix the team’s most glaring bench weakness, and one who has every incentive in the world to shut his mouth and act like a normal person for once? In that case, it just might be worth it.

    ~Hollinger

  96. I think Hollinger is right that the risk is low that Marbury actually singlehandedly destroys the team, but the notion that he will now start understanding that his interest is to act in the interest of others is a crock. The man could have realized that 50 different times over the course of his career. And he has yet to show that he has ever realized that any of his past acts may have been destructive. He has never listened to anybody but himself. I’m not even sure he would accept the premise that he has something to prove, let alone that he can fall into lockstep.

    The prattling of the Celtics also annoys me. To hear Mark Stein tell it they act like they are some sort of magical reform factory who view this as a humanitarian mission. In which case, why don’t they sign Kim Jong-Il and REALLY make a difference. Individually I respect each of those guys, but the way they act like they invented the championship last year bugs me.

  97. 95-

    While the Celtics risk very little on paper in bringing in Marbury, it’s worth noting that locker room chemistry is a more fragile thing than one would suspect. Consider the aggressive manner with which the Celtics have been seen to handle each other during this season – I’m thinking most specifically of the Christmas day game at the Lakers, with Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo going at it on the court during a timeout. This is a high pressure situation, and a guy like Stephon Marbury in pressure situations can cause already existing locker room tensions to fracture.

    On the point of “Well, he’ll just be cut” – It’s an excellent theory, but not always easy to execute. You bring drama upon yourself, you make every question about Stephon, and in cutting him, you only further ensure that the rest of the season will be dominated by Starbury (until if/when you actually hoist a trophy- that’s when questions magically disappear). Every loss will be followed by “Do you think that Starbury would have helped you win?” For a team whose psychology already seems somewhat fragile to many observers, this could be an overwhelming problem.

    The deal definitely has upside, I’ll grant; it’s still very important to not minimize the possible consequences, and granted that we’re talking about a team who’s already one of the favorites, it may not be worth the risks.

  98. let’s hope no one else gets bought out before the deadline . Rasho n joe smith would improve any team especially the cavs n spurs

  99. 93. That article goes into much greater detail on Marbury’s “Terrell Owens” effect on whatever team he’s playing for. Rondo is just beginning to get over his fear of taking outside shots, and it’s probably out of necessity because of KG’s absence. How is his fragile psyche going to handle Starbury? Cassell’s presence after his buyout and signing last season really affected Rondo’s play, and Cassell is ten times the motivator and mentor than Starbury is. How are all the other C’s going to feel about having to constantly answer questions about Starbury? I wonder how quickly the front office will cut the cord if things start to spiral out of control.

  100. Oh, trust me, the deal has TREMENDEOUS upside for us Laker fans as well.

    The giddyness I get expecting the C’s make it to the finals with Marbury and have them implode after each loss and ultimately when we hoist our trophy!

    There is sure to be a priceless moment involved when Starbury goes super nova and mars their franchise ;)

  101. On completely unrelated news.

    Supermodel Adriana Lima marries Grizzlies’ Marko Jaric.

    That must be his career high in scoring.

  102. The Marbury deal just made us getting the championship this year that much sweeter.

  103. You can critisize Marbury and say hes just a selfish player, but the guy has talent, if he does manage to mesh well with the team, then the league is in trouble. We have to hope he is what we think he is.

  104. 103

    You’re right, he does have talent, but when has he ever ‘meshed well’ with any team? To me that’s like saying ‘if Shaq becomes a good FT shooter he’ll be the GOAT’. But we’ll see if the leopard can change his spots.

  105. Blah Blah Blah, Marbury is not good.

    I can’t stand the Celtics being relevant again because it makes people think there is an actual argument between who is the better franchise – Lakers or Celtics.

  106. People,

    As much as hate the Celtics, if things turn out well with the Marbury deal, I for one will be very nervous.

  107. Marbury is a good pick up for the C’s. They get another ballhandler and a guy who can create his own shot. Marbury hasn’t been good in playoffs though sans the game winner against the Spurs some million moons ago. Its a good low risk move for them.

  108. the other Stephen February 25, 2009 at 8:18 am

    101. “Supermodel Adriana Lima marries Grizzlies’ Marko Jaric. That must be his career high in scoring.” Zing! That is a very worthy comment, my man.

  109. I think the Marbury pickup is rather scary for the rest of the league, read: Cavs and Lakers. Marbury has a lot to prove right now so he’ll be on his best behavior. Whatever attitude problem he has will probably not surface til next year. And he can’t be a prima donna being the johnny come lately with 3 better players on the team. KG will keep him on a tight leash. The worst that can happen is Doc benches him and he sits and sulks while the rest ignores him and plays on. I see little downside here for the Celts.

    Get well soon(er), Andrew!

  110. ERoc (107),

    There is nothing low risk to signing Steph other than salary.

    If they get to the point where it’s not working and they release him, they’ve already lost.

  111. I don’t really see any upside for Boston on this deal. Marbury hasn’t played an NBA game in over a year, a playoff game in 5 years and hasn’t even won once in the postseason in 6 years and all of a sudden some Laker fans are nervous? Doesn’t make sense in my humble opinion and I highly doubt he’s going to like playing backup to Rondo, especially if they start to get some losses regardless if the C’s are a contender.

    How many times do they lose before he implodes and becomes a distraction and disrupts the chemisty for that team. If there’s any upside to this I believe it’s for any team that is going to face Boston in the postseason.

  112. One other thing worth noting about Marbury when debating whether or not he realizes how badly he needs this experiment with the Celtics to succeed and therefore whether or not he’ll be able to get his act together: over the past 18 months, Marbury has not merely behaved like a selfish, me-first basketball player … he’s seemed downright mentally unhinged.

    Remember his bizarre, addled interview two pre-seasons ago on Mike’d Up where it was speculated that he may have been under the influence? I know you do! That was just the tipping point of the increasingly erratic and self-destructive behavior which lead to his suspension from the Knicks.

    At this juncture, we can’t be sure if he has any self-awareness at all. Which could, you know, be a problem and stuff if the Celtics are counting on Steph using logic as a reason to reform.

  113. Luubi,

    He had nothing to prove before? He was playing in NY for the team he always wanted to play for and ruined that, and now he’s going to be on his “best behavior” in Boston? Doubt it. Just wait until he has either a few bad games or a few good games. Bad games and the rabid Boston fans will be on him, good games, and his ego will start to take over. He know the Celtics need him. That’s a loaded gun

    Also, it’s not set in stone he even signs with Boston. He could stand them up.

    I don’t agree with the thought that KG and the rest can keep Steph on a short leash, or keep him in check, or any of that Ubuntu BS. Was Rodman kept in check in LA? Peple are going to do what they want. If KG has to keep him on a leash then the battle is lost already. You think Steph is going to let KG keep him on a leash? Like he’s a little boy, luck to be n his team? No. Steph still believes he’s one of the best, just caught in a bad situation.

  114. wondahbap – If the Celtics release Marbury because the situation is not working out, isn’t that the definition of a low risk move? Marbury may cost them a million or two, but that’s chump change compared to what they are paying the Big 3 and Perkins and Scalabrine. There are many veteran players in that locker room and Doc Rivers doesn’t tolerate BS. Plus, this is probably Marbury’s last opportunity in this league. I doubt he’ll screw up the opportunity to rub it in the faces of the Knicks or any other doubter. Low risk/high reward move given the scenario.

  115. The Celtics aren’t a good team with or without Marbury. Their franchise is doomed as it always has been.

  116. Are we still talking about the Celtics? Didn’t we prove this season that they’re one and done?

  117. I love this move for the Celtics! They’re screwed!

  118. I had a dream last night that the Celtics signed Marbury and their franchise fell into another 22 years of no success. Oh wait, that’s just about to happen.

  119. Question on Marbury, Its been almost 2 years since he played a game of basketball, what kind of shape can he be in? He hasn’t even been able to practice in how long? He doesn’t strike me as the type of player that works hard on his game on his own time.

    The C’s signing him is a low risk. They have enough veteran leadership that they can overcome any distraction he might bring to the team. The worst case scenario is that he is cut or doesn’t make the playoff roster. But I can’t see him making a positive impact. What is doc or KG going to do when he misses practice (you know he will) or he gets mad at being benched and reuses to play?

    Besides the guy is crazy. I can’t find a video for the interview where he was talking about averaging 10 assists and 12 dimes a game, feeling up his sister and seeing the light, and where he answered his cell phone and said that it was his ho, his better half, his wife.

  120. Kurt, I was thinking yesterday to ask you and your blog community why the Lakers seem to win games by so few points and why Boston and Cleveland always seem to be blowing their opponents out.

    Then this morning I read this prick of a reporter/blogger John Hollinger make the case where he ranks the Lakers 3rd in the league based on this same question I had for you, the margin of victory.

    Kurt, I know Hollinger is a big Celtic fan but should I as a Laker fan be concerned? I’ll tell you what also concerns me is the possibility that the Celtics now sign Stephon and the recent signing of Miki Moore. Why are the Lakers just standing pat?

    I know we are winning and everything but I have to tell you I am concerned, I know I am a ½ empty type of person when it comes to my Lakers but these questions still concern me.

  121. 118,

    This Marbury deal is a wash. He’s going to turn the Celtics into a terrible franchise again. Once we win the championship this year, expect another dynasty coming up. LAKERS 09!!!

  122. 118. I always thought Hollinger was more of a Jazz fan more than anything. But anyway, Hollinger just says this things because of his insane preoccupation with numbers/statistics.
    Basically, don’t let any of this get to you, as it really isn’t homerism in his respect. Just roll with the media, and stick to your own beliefs about your own team, and you’ll be all the happier with it.

  123. Hollinger’s system reflects, like all other Hollinger stats, Hollinger’s thinking. He does have statistical ‘proof’ to weigh things the way he does, but in the end, stats are just stats no matter how you weigh them.

    His (automated) power ranking assumes the following: good teams are those that have the better record in the regular season, and those that have a better record in the regular season are teams that are consistent, and those that are consistent will tend NOT to play down to the opponents thus getting a high margin of victory.

    That is a reasonable assumption except that there is just not enough raw data for stats to have any meaning over a season. Early in the season, the system attempts to project the record after 82 games with a sample of just 20 games or so. Right now his sample size is around 50 games or so, and statistically that’s still not a solid enough base. Considering that injuries, trades, gelling and other things can happen each game, such statistical projections can become meaningless exercises.

    Also, if somebody values the playoffs more than the regular season, what matters more than consistency is the result of head-to-head matchups as there are systems and players that tend to be weaker/stronger against certain systems and players. Chris Paul, for example is a stellar player that wreaks havoc against nearly all teams except for Deron’s Jazz.

    So that’s what it is. Hollinger’s formula is not wrong to rank Lakers 3rd as it is entirely possible that stats are true reflections of a team, and that really has nothing to do with Hollinger’s personal bias against the Lakers – just his bias against certain stats over others.

  124. People don’t seem to realise that Hollinger’s rankings are calculated automatically based on a preset formula. He doesn’t go in every night and edit them himself, so it makes no sense to accuse him of bias and/or ask why he ranked Team X over Team Y.

  125. Azzemoto, If the Lakers don’t win the title this year -or even if they do- are you going to brag to your kids about their rankings in Hollinger’s formula on February 25?

    Why would anybody take the time to make a controversy out of this? Those rankings have used an identical formula since he unveiled them years ago when the Celtics, Lakers and Cavs all still sucked. How does what they say hurt your feelings?

    The point differential generally was spoken of throughout the comments in this post.

  126. @118 – You asked why the Lakers are just standing pat, but what would you like them to do or better question what do they really need to do? They already took the season series between Boston & Cleveland, two teams that most likely we would end up seeing in the Finals. Any big move the Lakers would make would have to get rid one of our core players to make work, but who was out there to get for equal value for one of our core players?

    Plus we’re #1 in the league, as they say, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. As for our win margin, we play up/down to our competition and as people know Phil likes his bench to play through adversity which is why we lose a lot of our big leads but in the end there are no style points in the NBA, Hollinger/Steins power rankings mean nothing, it’s all about the W’s, not how many blow outs we get.

  127. @ azzemoto – I understand what you’re saying and sorta agree. The Lakers could use another big to play alongside Powell. I have been hoping they would sign CJ Giles, but that won’t happen. The Lakers do have DJ Mbenga but Phil won’t play him for obvious reasons. So the Lakers are fine as is. Their frontcourt depth will improve once Bynum returns. Unless, the Kings buyout Drew Gooden, the Lakers will stand pat and that is certainly fine.

    I wouldn’t put too much weight on Hollinger’s rankings but I would read what he has to say in the comments for each ranked team.

  128. While Hollinger does use point differential as his guiding light, he does not note that the Lakers have the best road record in the league. He also does not have an equation or formula that quanitifies WHEN a win occurs. The reason we Laker fans have been so excited is that we are on a 10-1 tear (no pun intended) since Bynum was injured. Also, we won both games against Boston when they had more rest than we did and we did something that no other NBA team has done so far – win in convincing fashion in Cleveland (when Kobe wasn’t even on top of his game). Hollinger, Simmons, Stein and the rest are simply avoiding having to toot their horns about our team because they know that they will be doing so come June.

  129. Hollinger’s bias is not “against” the lakers, it’s against win/loss. The point differential complaint is more a question of degree. You and I are told it is a better predictor of future success in NBA games, but we have no idea how strong the correlation is.

    Here, this will help you get your mind off power rankings for a bit: Tim Duncan drinking some bad juice.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5trBOsRIJFc&feature=related

    It made me laugh. Smile a bit, we have the best record in the league despite the 2nd unit playing atrociously sometimes.

  130. I posted about this earlier in the thread, but for some reason my comment was caught in a “awaiting moderation” net and never released:

    One thing I think is being underplayed regarding Marbury … not only has he proven himself to be a poor teammate , but over the past year-and-a-half he’s also shown signs of being mentally unwell. That could be a problem for the Celtics.

  131. Azzemoto,

    Why would the Lakers need to do anything? 46-10, and coming up big in every statement game this year not good enough?

    We need to counter the possible signing of Steph? NO.

    Hollinger is a fan of his own system. When his formula (self fulfilling prophecy if you ask me) is used to determine the seedings or Championship, let me know. I’ll start to give a d*mn.

  132. the other Stephen February 25, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    i’m not sure there are any sports writers out there who incur more of my contempt with their writing than adrian wojnarowski does. could anyone draw up more simple-minded, polemical character sketches, and reduce news to sensationalist caricature with any more transparency and tactlessness than this man? yes, i know starbury is always worth another biting news article, but you tell me whether or not you think this is the saddest, most devoid of substance, and basketball-irrelevant article you could ever have the displeasure of reading?

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=Ao05jZCG9QRA3HsMC2ucWOW8vLYF?slug=aw-marburyceltics022409&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

    man, all i wanted was to read about some basketball.

  133. We’re never going to be up there in point differential because Phil (rightfully)doesn’t care about it. Whereas most coaches would send in their starters immediately if the bench was giving back a big lead, Phil is content to let the bench try to work their way through it.

    So in that respect it’s kind of a silly stat to hang your hat on like Hollinger does.

  134. I agree w/ E-Rock, The Lakers need to add another big to play along side Powell. Bringing in another “piece” does not have to cost them a core player, the Celtics did it w/ Miki Moore, players of this caliber for reasons we are not privy to, Phil does not believe in DJ.

  135. If Marbury brings his true skills off the bench, we have no answer. That’s scary I’m sorry.

  136. Azzemoto,

    Mikki Moore. No better than Mbenga. Boston is desperate for depth, so they went fishing in the bottom of the barrel. You think we need to do that?

    What coach believes in their 12-13th guys? Why should Phil “believe” in a roster filler.

  137. ovethebackboardooh February 25, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    As a Celtic fan I’m not concerned with Marbury’s mind games or shape. I’m much more worried about the ball stopping in his hands. Cassell was a disappointment in my mind because when he got the ball he would post up and shoot the same fade away or three. The Celtics are at their worst when the ball stops moving from side to side. We are most dangerous when Rondo drives kicks it to a corner for a shot or a quick pass to a wing player for a drive or shot. Like Cassell, I think Marbury will get the ball in his hands and dribble away the shot clock looking for his own shot. We only have one decent iso player and that is Pierce.

    Having said that….
    119. In no way do the lakers have a better starting 5 than the Celtics. They are arguably a better team and have nice depth but their first 5 isn’t as strong as the Cs. Sorry

  138. Mikki Moore has never averaged a double-double in his career, he’s no better a shooter than Glen Davis, he’s not known as a great passer, let alone a ball handler. He’s there for his energy and that alone.

    I’d like to say DJ is a little better because he can block shots but not much better than Mikki Moore. By the C’s adding Moore and possibly Marbury, all this says is their desperate to have help to their bench because their concerned about repeating this year and they know their major weakness is their bench.

    Our bench may not be playing that great as of late, but you have to consider the fact that LO is no longer coming off the bench. Hopefully Bynum returns with a few games left and he should come off the bench and that should anchor our 2nd unit and they’ll be as productive as they used to be. As PJ said after our win against OKC, our 2nd unit isn’t mature and can’t play minutes the same way our starters do, with LO/Bynum playing with the 2nd unit that should make things return to normal…but in no way do we need to add any other players when we already have great chemistry as is.

  139. Brian, thanks for giving me the answer I was looking for. What you say makes 100% sense to me.

  140. Shaky, loved the video. Hilarious.

  141. Looks like Kurt is otherwise occupied — sorry the comments got backlogged for a while.

    And let’s try to avoid the nonsensical “Celtics suck” comments.

  142. Ovethebackboardooh — we welcome such reasonable insights from the other side.

  143. I think the Celtics do have a better starting 5. With Bynum or Odom, If you more are less consider the starting “big 3″ for each team a wash, Luke and Perk are probably close to a wash, but Rondo is a bit better than fisher in overall production right now (doesn’t mean I wouldn’t rather have fisher in line for a game winner, but that’s not really about who’s starting).

    But the Lakers bench, especially with Odom, have a clear advantage at each spot.

    Why this matters, though, I’m not sure. PJ isn’t even really trying to have his best 5 start, so like the Hollinger ratings, who cares? (The Hollinger Ratings, by the way, have been accurately predictive before, but not on the scale that it differentiates between the #1 and 3 teams in the long run. It will tell you when an underperforming team is due to surge or vice versa though)

  144. Sorry I was out most of the day and comments got backlogged. My computer was down the last 48 hours and I was without Web access until I got it back just a little bit ago. That’s also why no post today.

  145. On the two topics of the day:

    As a Hollinger fan in general, who cares what his rankings say? If this were college football worries about the poll would be valid, but the NBA is a meritocracy. Win enough and you make the playoffs, keep winning in the playoffs and you get a tittle. Bill James may think otherwise, but I like that the best team wins the O’Brien trophy.

    As for Moore and Starbury, I think they both give the Celtics a little something, they are better than the players they have coming off the bench now. But, this is a poor effort to get what PJ Brown and Sam Cassel gave them last year. Moore is no Brown on defense, and Sam I Am was a good veteran presence from a title team in the locker room. Until this example, nobody had ever used the words “Marbury” and “solid veteran leader” in the same sentence.

  146. I find it humorous that people actually care what the ‘talking heads’ think. They write for attribution or attention, not because they have any keen insight on the truth.

    The last I heard the team that won the last game was the champion, not the one the pundits thought would get there.

  147. And they have nothing to replace James Posey.

  148. #121: Since when is having a “better” starting 5 a guarantee for a championship? Bro, you’re worse than Vic The Brick.

  149. why do I get the strange feeling that the Lakers are better WITHOUT Bynum?

  150. bynum update: at least he’s onto the bike…

    http://my.lakers.com/blogs/2009/02
    /25/andrew-bynum-brief-update/

  151. 124) Joel,
    “People don’t seem to realise that Hollinger’s rankings are calculated automatically based on a preset formula. ”
    Any system that doesn’t have the Lakers ranked first in every possible category and all the Lakers players ranked first in all the possible individual categories is clearly biased against the Lakers. It’s the only possible explanation.

  152. Along the lines of the 25 random things.

    Here’s an interview with Pau…

    Who knew Monica Cruz was just as cute as her sister.

    http://www.nba.com/lakers/news/twenty_question_with_pau_gasol_090222.html?rss=true

  153. 152

    So it seems. I think Hollinger has been accused of bias for and against every team in the league because of those rankings.

  154. OT- Dodgers have improved their offer to Manny
    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3935080

    Looks like our long regional nightmare will be over soon.

  155. 149. Your memory is short. The Lakers are not better.

  156. 153. NIce link on the interview with Pau. I particularly liked the bit about his reaction when Marc got T’d up in a game bet. the Lakers and Memphis. Hilarious instance.

  157. I don’t think the Lakers are better without Bynum either, but they are much more cohesive, fluid, natural, purposeful (searching for the right combination of adjectives…). Without Drew, I think the team feels more comfortable in a few ways. There’s a sense of familiarity born of last year’s title run. The roles are more clearly defined, leading to increased individual (even if not team) consistency – Kobe gets 30, Pau 20 and 10, Lamar 15 and 12, and so forth, with little variation. With Drew, sometimes he’d be option #1 down low and sometime Gasol, Odom’s role wildly fluctuated based on need, Kobe didn’t need to score as much, etc. The offense also moves more fluidly without Bynum as all 5 players can typically pass and shoot from outside, whereas Drew leads to a lot of possessions where he slowly operates on the block (and very effectively). The pace is also more consistently up tempo without Drew. So, again, things are more uniform without Drew – consistent pace, defined roles, free flowing offense, etc. There’s real appeal in that and it works, this year and last. But Drew gives the team real upside. When he’s firing, he transforms our defense from okay/good to great and presents an overwhelming physical presence that few teams can deal with on offense.

  158. Very well put Reed…My thoughts exactly

  159. Reed, do you think that was the case the last few games before the injury, when Bynum was really clicking?

    I am okay with Bynum off the bench to start when he returns, but I think in crunch time they need him for defense out there. That is the end of the court where he makes a difference.

  160. Yeah, my description of the team with “super”-Bynum is as applicable, if not more so. But don’t confuse my saying the team is more “fluid” or “cohesive” as saying they are “better.” It’s a matter of style and flow, not bottom line results. With Drew, roles are less defined. Sometimes he and Pau close games, sometimes Pau and Odom, towards the end even Drew and Odom. Gasol’s production became much less consistent in the wake of super-Bynum. Odom’s remained all over the place. The offense became more one dimension — dump the ball down low to Drew or Gasol and watch them go to work — less cutting, reversal, quick ball movement. But, that’s not to say less effective. Having Drew and Pau combine for 30-35 shot attempts is extremely productive given their shooting %’s. And, on defense, there’s no question that Drew takes us to another level (or three). He just changes so many shots, at times forcing teams to almost exclusively fire away from outside. I think we are better with Bynum, and best when he’s a focal point and in the closing lineup, but the team still appears more comfortable and fluid without him.

  161. Its no secret that odom’s game improves with Bynum.

    That trickles down into the bench getting more time and more touches, and more of a platform to get into their grove. They also have that chemistry from the playoffs last year.

    Also, Kobe has one less scoring option to defer to and therefore can beging earlier in his attack mode.

    Obviously we are much better on defense with Bynum in the lineup

  162. with bynum out***

  163. With Bynum in the middle I did not cringe as much when someone was driving to the basket. He was always altering the shots attempted.

  164. I agree with Kurt and Reed: we’re not a better team with Bynum out. As mentioned by others, we’re much better on defense. We’re also a better rebounding team (though I don’t have the stats to support this nor do I know for a fact that the stats *do* support this). All I know is what my eyes tell me and that is the fact that while Odom is active on the glass and Gasol is very good at using his length to snatch rebounds, Bynum is a much bigger body that is also athletic enough to grab the rebounds that we’ve been allowing the other team to grab on our defensive glass. Bynum may not body up players any better than LO or Pau, but he does use his height, hops, and length get to clean the glass. I mean he was doing this superbly when he went down with his injury.

    I would also add to what Reed is saying about fluidness on offense. Bynum is not nearly the level passer that Gasol is from the hub of the Triangle and that makes the ball stall more and leads to uninspired cuts from our other players as they rarely get rewarded from that movement when it’s Bynum that’s doing the posting. In addition to this, LO is replaced by Pau in the starting group and Pau is not as mobile nor the cutter that LO is so we don’t get the same type of off ball motion out of Pau that we get from LO (this is also true when it’s Pau posting and Bynum is the one that would be moving off the ball). So, with Bynum in the game, we end up with more post iso’s. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because as Reed pointed out, our bigs are very efficient scorers on the block.

    One last point I would make is that both LO and Bynum are mostly isolation players when they have the ball in their hands, they just do it in different ways. LO loves to attack off the dribble and Phil likes to put him in positions where he can drive against PF’s that don’t have the skill to stay in front of him (for example those top of the key iso’s where we go to a 1-4 set and Odom can drive hard to his left hand with shooters all around him). Bynum on the other hand has really come into his own as a player that can score against very good defenders in the post. My point really is this: Do you want a player that can create off the dribble or another player that can score on the block with consistency? The funny thing is, (I want) and we really need both. When you look at our team, Kobe and Farmar are the only players that can create for themselves or others off the dribble besides LO. And Kobe and Gasol are the only players that can score in the post with consistency besides Bynum. This is why we need Bynum back and why we also need Odom on this team. They bring dimensions to our team that aren’t prevalent outside of one or two other players. In the end, I’d love for Odom to keep his aggression level high when Bynum returns while also hoping that Bynum is ready to score on the block the way that he was when he got injured. It’s this diversity, with a full roster, that makes us such a complete offensive team.

  165. Re the point differential: as mentioned, Phil doesn’t care. Plus Kobe doesn’t seem all too upset with blowing the big lead. In fact, he probably secretly enjoys the extra playing time and chance for more Kobe heroics. This is not a knock on Kobe. The man lives for basketball.

    Re Bynum: having Andrew in the lineup does scramble things up a bit, but he’s such a talent that I think it’s a real stretch to say we’re a better team without him. I mean, the Lakers without Kobe can play quite well and look cohesive for a few minutes, quarters, and even games, but over the long haul? no way. Same with Bynum, to a lesser extent. If nothing else, we need him for the defense and rebounding. I think we lost a couple of close ones by inexplicably not having him on the floor in the last 2 mins.

  166. All this talk about how our starting lineup’s offense is more fluid without Drew while our defense misses his presence makes me believe that if we see this, surely the coaching staff does, too. They must also see how much the second unit misses a strong low post presence, and how this leads to few open threes in our set offense.

    If Drew comes back with the second unit, he should be able to destroy any single coverage by the opposition’s second unit center, which will lead to double teams, which should then lead to wide-open threes for Jordan, Trevor, and Sasha. We’ve all been lamenting how the starting unit keeps giving our second unit 8, 10, and 15 point leads, and the second unit keeps blowing them. Imagine a second unit with Drew and LO/Pau as the bigs, and the Machine, the Cobra, and the Bat-Eared Fox at the wings and point. I can’t wait.

  167. 167. “*few open threes” should be “fewer open threes.”

  168. Not sure how anyone can claim we’re a better team without Bynum when Bynum was obviously productive.

    We’re better with Bynum, period.

    Of course, are we better with him or with Odom in the starting five? That’s a different question all together, and the best answer I can come up with is that we’re better in certain situations if we have Bynum out there and worse of against some other situations.

    Cop-out, but in the end, be it in the starting lineup or in the bench, it’s always nice to have a young, productive 7 ft center.

  169. it would please me to no end if the Clips beat the C’s.

  170. I think we are a better team with Bynum. hands down. Especially defensively.

    I just feel that we seem to have a more fluid on offense when hes out because of the bench stepping up due to more playing time/responsibility and the unraveling of Odom.

  171. the celtics are shooting a higher percentage…FT % 3pt%
    they have more rebounds
    more steals
    more assists and more points off of turnovers.

    yet….

    its a tie game against the clippers?

  172. CLIPPERS WIN!

  173. Clips FTW!!!!!

  174. The Clippers just pleased Harold to no end ;-)

  175. Sweet, the Lakers are three games up in the loss column against the Celts!!!!

  176. meohmy. just tuned in to see clippers beat the celts. hope they do a 4Q replay.

  177. Wait, wait, wait. The Clippers beat the Celtics and Hosea wins Top Chef? This has been some day.

  178. LA beat Boston!!…. and it’s not the Lakers!! How sweet is that?

  179. woww what a game. the clippers bullied their way to a win!! with baron davis fouled out! granted, the celtics are banged up, but man thats just terrible.

  180. Marbury effect kicking in already!

  181. Lawler decided to go all in with the celebration — probably thought “this is it, nothing tops this all year, might as well break out the title voice.” Great stuff.

  182. Anyone know why Al Thornton didn’t play? is he hurt?

    even more impressive they won without him!

  183. Wow, Great W, go Clippers…

    Enjoy the moment for what it is… “Life is fast and things happen quickly.” – Derek Fisher

  184. Lol… once again it’s the refs’ fault the Celts lost according to them.

    Heck.. why am I even mentioning this here anyway…? Not like there’s any other reason right? Haha

  185. I immediately checked the Kings schedule to see if there was still a chance of all 4 Cali teams beating the Cs this year. Nope. But I did learn that they are retiring Vlade’s number next month.

  186. So, it appears the Celtics will be counting on Mikki Moore (?) and Starbury to help make up three games on the lakeshow with 23 games to go?

    Oh …. OK

  187. Looking at the box, the only thing the C’s did worse was turnovers. They shot better, rebounded better, assisted on more baskets, stole more, and even went to the FT line more and made more.

    I am haahahahahahahappy.

  188. 187 – my bad, the ‘cons need to make up four with 23 to go. ‘cuz we have the tie breaker.

  189. 186. That’s a hopeless cause. The Kings have won exactly as many games against the Eastern Conference this season as my great great great grandfather, who died about 120 years ago.

  190. Yep. I was caught up in a moment of Clipphoria.

  191. celtics lost tonight against the clippers. the clippers are looking pretty good now that theyve got their guys healthy (even though kaman and thorton are out) because of injuries clippers have had i believe 17 different starting line-ups.

    it was a good game. clippers have gone 0-3 against teams in LA (;

  192. 183 –

    thortons out with an injury, something to do with the leg/foot? dont really remember.

  193. weren’t fred jones and mardy collins so good in that game.

    wow fred jones played some really nice defense on pierce wish we could have picked him up! i believe he had 2 10 day contracts with the clips until he was signed for the rest of the season.
    his salary is only 50,000 if i do remember correctly.
    dang that would have been a nice pickup.. but i suppose the lakers would have never really needed to venture out to pick up guys since we have so much depth already

  194. What amazes me is that down the stretch, Pierce was outplayed on some plays by Mardy freaking Collins. I mean, last year, he had the worst TS% and TO% in the entire league. What on earth is going on here?

  195. 194.

    clippers have had some good pickups and have had their guys doing well… i dont know how theyve done it but with so many guys out with injury a lot of them have gotten lots of PT. maybe thats why?

  196. F Al Thornton, the Clippers’ leading scorer with a 17.1 ppg average, missed his third game with a sore right foot. …

    that is what makes this win for the clippers that much more surprising. they have finally got most of their guys healthy as well which is a key factor. they havent had the majority of their guys healthy in a longggg while. EVERYONE on the clippers besides acker and chieck samb have started (at one point or another) THAT is how injury plagued they had been.

  197. Anonymous,

    It’s not a matter of PT. Far from it. Let me put it another way. Last year, Mardy Collins was perhaps the most inefficient offensive player in the game. Yet on some plays in the fourth quarter, he beat Paul Pierce, whose defense is good enough to slow down LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Now, Collins is definitely better than last year’s lows, but he’s still posting a single-digit PER, which is either an 11th or 12th man or a defensive ace who does little else (i.e. Bruce Bowen).

    Granted, having Randolph was definitely an advantage, as for all his shortcomings on the defensive end, he’s a superb offensive player — outside of his inability to pass — but this same Celtics team crushed the Nuggets and the Suns.

  198. Fred Jones deserves some credit, but towards the end of the game Pierce got his thumb whacked and the trainer had to help him out. It didn’t look serious but it could be a sprain. It looks like the Celtics’ depth will be tested for a few weeks.

    And Hosea winning just proves that this season of TC was “a watered down version” of a premier season. Stefan was overconfident and wanted the title handed to him. Carla was way in over her head, and never got the confidence that led to her demise in earlier episodes. Noah was solid and did a serviceable job. The ending was very anti-climatic. Til next year.

  199. I’m going to have a big smile on my face all day tomorrow. The Celtics lost to the…..Clippers! Bwahahahaha!!!!

    191. The most under the radar stat this season is the Kings’ 0-23 record vs the East.

  200. the other Stephen February 26, 2009 at 5:22 am

    i woke up this morning to the clippers-celtics news. the world smells like a bouquet of happy roses.

  201. What are Devin Harris’ stats if you put a double team on him. 10 points, 0 assists, that’s what I say. The other players on that team don’t have the firepower to do anything. Of course, the better teams know to single team with a good defender, let him score his 20 at most, and beat the Nets by 15 in the process. Espn is trying to hype another player.

  202. hey fellas, found something:

    http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=562

    it´s a follow up from pelton to the new york times article by michael lewis.
    pretty interesting!

  203. Paul, Harris gets a little ESPN hype because he is in the NYC Metro area, but he also is a legit top quality PG. He is a borderline All Star guy, and he is very quick and can finish at the rim. Could you focus on him on the Nets and shut him down? Yes, because they have limited other options, but on another team he could be better. Say Dallas, for example. Well, he’s not Jason Kidd at the end of his career….

  204. 202

    Devin Harris is not being shut down by too many teams in today’s NBA. The rules favour players who can get to the rim, and Harris is among the best in the league at that. Besides, do you really think teams aren’t trying everything in the book to stop him now? Or are they focusing on Bobby Simmons and Yi Jianlian instead?

  205. Kurt,

    Hosea? Really?

    Did you hear him tell Stephan, “It was close….,” ???

    Close? Stephan was kicking his butt all season, and Hosea wins? My wife called it too. I was rooting for Karla.

  206. Today we are all Clippers fans!

  207. watching the clippers run into a pile at the end of the game hugging and jumping was a touching moment. because for one night, the spotlight was on THIS LA team. They did this everyone in the city proud.

    Rough start for the marbury era, but i have no doubt the celtics will bounce back. They did just crush a decent nuggets team by 40 points a couple nights ago..

  208. Pierce has a dislocated right thumb. Boston Globe. It looks like game 7 at Staples is ours to lose.

  209. I wonder if Bynum’s return would come on Sunday April 14th at home against…Memphis??

  210. 210 – We definitely need to sit him out for that one. I’m actually in favor of preemptively sitting him out for all future games against memphis.

  211. I’m CERTAIN that the Lakers are better without Bynum. They’re winning % is better without him and that includes the majority of that tough road trip with games in boston, cleveland and another game in utah.

    Bynum will be a great player eventually and a great fit for this team. But for now, this team seems to feel better about how to play the game when Pau is at the C and LO at the PF.

  212. I’m with Wiseolgoat on this one. Next time Bynum is in Memphis I hope it’s for a barbecue and nothing to do with a basketball court.

    When I think about the team with or without Drew, I start on defense. With him we may have to worry a little more about shooting bigs, but without him, the entire team has to sag to prevent penetration (or occasionally leave the paint entirely uncovered like the late game possession against Minnesota), and either give up points in the paint or wide open 3s.

    The Second thing I think of is the bench. Look how lost they are on offense lately, despite everyone but Powell having a lot of experience in the system. Odom suits that unit great as a mobile big who can direct the offense when needed. Bynum could also do a lot of good for the bench as a large target to throw into, and if he could develop a good outlet pass he could help the break, but regardless the point is either option strengthens the bench. Which also keeps Pau and Odom fresh.

    Those 2 or 2.5 reasons on their own are enough to dispell the notion that they’re betetr without Bynum. If they need the freer flowing offense of Odom with the Starters, he’s usually the first substitution anyways, so it’s not like we lose this untit.

  213. Sorry for the double post but on the Clipper win last night- if anybody read Bill Simmons’s piece in ESPN the magazine this week, he spent an interview with Baron Davis convincing him to try harder the second half of the season… D’OH!

  214. I think one reason it’s difficult to assess the team with and without Bynum is that you also have to consider the emergence of Odom the Beast. It’s true that LO is playing better while Bynum isn’t playing, but a big part of that is because Bynum went down and Odom decided to step up.

    To put it another way, if you could only have one for the playoffs, would you rather have the Beastly Odom or Bynum? Even assuming Bynum gets back to mid-season form quickly (which isn’t a given), it’s a close call.

    The real problem is that you can’t really chose Odom the Beast in the long term. He doesn’t seem built mentally to produce at this level for that long. (We also don’t know what physical toll it’s taking on him; not every trains like Kobe.)

    The best part about it is that the Lakers don’t have to choose, at least this year. Jackson will work Bynum back in, and we’ll have to trust him to make those decisions correctly, which is usually a safe bet.

    For what it’s worth, I suspect we’ll might see Bynum start, but not finish. I suspect we might be seeing our crunch-time line-up emerge right now, as: Bryant-Gasol-Odom-Fisher-Walton.