I appeared on the Brothers Kamenetzky podcast today, which you can listen to over at their LA Times blog or at Now Live. We talk Dallas with Andy, who was at the game and called in from the Denver airport to tell us Marc Cuban did not stare daggers at him (and that Henry Abbot may or may not have tried to hide behind Andrew near the Dallas locker room). We also discuss what we can reasonably expect from Bynum come playoff time. This is well worth a listen, just for the joy of hearing Brian try to juggle eight kinds of technology at once.
And now a few more thoughtsâ€¦.
â€¢ Speaking of Bynum, I think part of what Phil was doing was playing down expectations for Bynum. Now if he does come back a few games before the playoffs he is ahead of schedule, not a month behind it. Plus, itâ€™s a reminder that when he comes back he will not be the player he was when he went down.
As for the topic we discussed on the podcast, I think itâ€™s impossible to say how much we need Bynum for the first round because we donâ€™t know the matchup. Whoever we play he does not need to be a savior, just 15 minutes or so off the bench of solid defense and rebounding would be a huge boost. Andrew K reminded us how well Bynum and Farmar meshed to start the season and to rekindle that in the playoffs would be huge. Plus, the first round of the playoffs takes weeks, giving him more time to get into shape for more minutes as things go along.
â€¢ As for last night, Iâ€™ll stick with my theory that the Gasol-less Lakers are last yearâ€™s team â€” they played two-and-a-half quarters of good basketball and then stopped doing what had got them the win. Kobe was passing early and picking his spots in the offense, which was allowing other guys to get good shots. The Lakers played the best half of defense they have in a long time (I forgot to save it, but the Mavs offensive efficiency rating after the first half was right around 90). Then Kobe started taking more offense on and the Lakers got out of synch on that end. The misses and less tenacity on the boards allowed Dallas to get out and run a little, and the result was some good looks and easy buckets. Then, suddenly, we had a ball game.
Yup, that pretty much reminds me of the inconsistent team from last year.
â€¢ If you want to relive last night’s contest, nomuscles put up a fun and funny recap in the comments.
â€¢ I think Dallasâ€™ heavy isolation offense really plays to the Lakers defense better than making them help on things like the pick-and-roll. Plus, Ronny had his best defensive game in a while, protecting the rim better than we have seen any Laker do since Drew went down. To have any chance against the motion and screens of the Utah offense, the Lakers will have to play 48 minutes like that Thursday.
â€¢ A number of commenters (and myself) said we needed someone other than Kobe to step up and take on some offense â€” Hello Vladimir! One of his best games as a Laker, both shooting well from three and putting the ball on the floor. His putting the ball on the floor early opened up some of those three chances later. He also is a better defender than his reputation. His mind seems to be elsewhere some nights, but it was in Dallas last night.
â€¢ If you are a fan of the advanced basketball stats here and want to use them (and other stuff like RPI) when filling out your NCAA pool, check out the amazing Kenpom site.
â€¢ The Final Four in my work pool, as it stands now: Kansas, UCLA, Louisville and Memphis. Personally, Iâ€™m not sold on Memphis going that far and may change that, but they are a good offensive team and their style throws some people off. But can Pitt beat them? Also, I have Clemson and Butler going farther than most. But I could probably be talked out of any of that (save Kansas, who I really like).
Actually, we can all use the help so throw your NCAA tourney thoughts in the comments.
I do not like Memphis getting past the Elite Eight at most. I feel Stanford has the inside precense to neutralize Joey Dorsey , 2nd chance points, and rebounding advanatage. If not Stanford, there’s Texas as the #2 seed in the South that would be playing the Tigers in Houston. Texas did beat UCLA, and with the amount of close games won by Memphis, I can not see them getting to the Final Four. Who knows, perhaps, they may even fal in the Sweet 16, if Drew Nietzel plays great for a couple of games, or if Pitt continues its hot play, I might not even have them making the Elite Eight.
I love Kansas and UCLA and think Memphis has a shot (though I’m taking Pitt there, and eventually Texas to the Final four), but Louisville scares me. I think a phenomenal (and likely) game will be Tenn vs. Louisville in the Sweet 16, ie Pitino vs. Pearl, and whoever comes out of that alive will be elated and exhausted. Then to face a great UNC team after they kill Notre Dame (or whoever)….
I’d love to see someone other than UNC come out of the East bracket, but I’m having a hard time picking it. Then again, it’s the tourney. Who knows?
I don’t think memphis makes it as far as the final 4. I think Pitt will beat them. But the other ones are good choices. But I think Tenn beats louisville.
kwame a. says
Final Four: Tennessee, UCLA, Texas and USC
Upset Special 1: Arizona over Duke in the 2nd rd
Upset Special 2: Gonzaga over Georgtown in the 2nd rd
Im still not sold on Gonzaga. They seem a bit overrated and Stephen Curry of Davidson is a tough cover.
This is I’m having a tough time with the Final Four. The only one I have decided for certain is UCLA. The Midwest is wide open imo, as I am still not sold on Kansas, and I am nots ure exactly who will come out out the South, although I do not feel that Memphis will make the Final Four. As for the East, I really want to pick Louisville, but I do not think they can beat both North Carolina and Tennesee, and I like Chris Lofton, but I still can not decide if Ty Lawson can negate him, and if T Smith can negate Tylor Hansborough.
Renato Afonso says
I got UCLA, Kansas, UNC and Stanford in the final four. UCLA over Kansas in the final.
Kansas over USC in the midwest final.
The Pac-10 is too strong…
I don’t see Texas making it past Stanford – the Longhorns are easily out-muscled and they have no match for either of those Lopez boys. Memphis loses to Michigan St.
UCLA/Kansas/UNC/Stanford in Final Four
81 Witness says
I got Kansas, UCLA, UNC, and Texas in the F4. With UNC getting the crown.
No cindy’s make it past the Sweet 16. Though I was tempted to put Purdue in the eight against UCLA. I also have Gonzo upsetting Georgetown. Not sure G-Town is complete this year.
On Stanford, I’d like to bring up the cliche, guard play wins in March. Maquette can score, and that may be a possible upset game for Stanford. I cant see how they can contain D J Agustin and A J Abrams of Texas.
This LIttle Pinky says
Just read the nomuskles recap of last night’s game. It was pretty amusing, and it seems like he’s been drinking a lot of Kobe haterade.
carter blanchard says
Haha I’m absolutely loving the Stanford love guys, but I’m afraid a FF is just not going to happen. As good as the twins are, the Cardinal have too many flaws. Augustin and/or Rose will scorch Mitch on the defensive end. They also have no comeback game. If they’re not up with 5 minutes to go, I really don’t see them getting back in a game (unless Goods and/or Hill can rediscover themselves at the right time).
My FF: Louisville, UCLA, Texas, Kansas, with UCLA winning it all.
kwame a. says
6-You’re right, I’ve switched my Midwest pick to Kansas over SC. ha, glad you have this thread going Kurt.
I am going to anger Carter B with this one, but I actually have Stanford out in the second round to Marquette. I love the size up front and the defense, but their back-court is inconsistent and I think they have a bad game at some point and lose. Plus, I need me some upset picks.
By the way, I have Kansas beating UCLA in the final, but after seeing that Plashke picked Kansas I’m seriously rethinking that.
Didn’t the Lakers have a game last night?
Daniel Sagal says
I did a breakdown of the game last night throughout the 2nd and 3rd quarter. I would appreciate any and all input, especially from Kurt. Thank you so much and leave some input.
I have UCLA winning it all. I like the addition of K. Love. UNC vs. UCLA, Love vs HansbroughI honestly think that Memphis can do it. They have lost only once(yes they play in a weak conference) and that was to Tenessee who was ranked #2 at the time. I am pulling for them. I really like Calipari. Kurt I agree with you on Marquette beating Stanford. They have a great defender and they can play some good ball. I am not sold on Kansas and I can see the Badgers doing some harm. My Final Four that I want to see happen would be all the #1’s but we all know the likeliness of that. Don’t forget your 5-12 upset. Mine is W. Kentucky over Drake and Nova over Clemson.
J.D. Hastings says
I agree completely with your points about Bynum, Kurt. About our execution at the end of last night, I think we lack ball-handlers outside of Kobe. Lamar is obviously a good ball handler (and he was our supposed center), but his tendency to draw offensive fouls and his passivity make him less effective. The other guys on the floor- Sasha, Fisher and Vlade- are all better at shooting the three than hitting layups. Vlade is probably the best of those (and showed it by drawing a foul off a drive in the 4th, as opposed to Fisher’s missed layup). Nor are their midrange games great (despite Sasha’s clutch shot late). So when they do drive they’re tentative and not serious threats to finish.
Fortunately that lineup was an aberation, but it shows what we already know- when teams drape Kobe we need somebody else to execute. With Pau or Bynum, we pass in to the block or high post and look for options. Why don’t we have Odom there?
Damn nomuskles, that was laugh out loud funny…
I had a lot of fun with the Tivo 8 seconds back button last night, because Cuban is in plain sight where he sits, and with the lakers on offense on his end, I had to watch the play and then go back and watch Cuban throw a fit. You would think he would sit somewhere where he wouldn’t be seen (or heard) on every play… Or maybe that’s the point.
Is it possible for an NBA owner to jump the shark?
I just saw that Fisher article and some of the comments from Kurt and Craig W. and this is not new for the Jazz and Fisher. I spent the last 20 minutes looking for it, and could not find it, but there was an post on TrueHoop last year that linked to an article from a Utah paper that had some pretty bad comments about Fisher. These fans were calling him a liar and saying that he used the illness of his daughter to get out of Utah because he did not like the state, and just more really sad and kind of hateful remarks. I really could not believe what I was reading in the comments section of that paper. I’m sure some of that had to do with Fish joining the Lakers (some commenters even said “he’s rich, he could fly to LA to see his family, or fly her to the doctor in LA”) but I think a lot of it has to do with the perception that the mindset exists that black NBA players don’t want to play in Utah and they want to get out of there. Anyways, that article from today just brought back some of that stuff for me, and I thought I’d point out that there is a sect of Jazz fans that will always think Fish was a liar.
El Seano says
I’d like to cast my vote (yes I’m making up the fact that I have a vote) for nomuscles to write a recap like that for as many games as he can, that was one of the most entertaining NBA based things I’ve read in a long long time, hilarious and I hope to read another soon.
The article you are looking for is on AOL NBA Fanhouse
Speaking of classless fans….
Listening To Matt Money Smith last night after the game, he went off at the 90% or so of the houston fans who didn’t stay until the final buzzer of the blowout to congratulate their team on such an amzing streak. I personally think he’s right on the money; if your team, who has the SECOND longest streak in NBA histroy, you damn well WAIT till the game is over, traffic can wait, so you can give your team the major, major props it deserves.
Loved the recap, nomuskles. Please do again.
alex v says
I like UCLA/Howland a lot, but they’re a tough pick to go all the way because they keep getting hurt. How can you like a team that keeps getting injuries . . . to its . . . key . . . never mind.
My Final Four is a conventional Memphis, UNC, KS, Duke; Memphis over UNC in the final.
Rob S. says
If it comes down to UNC and Tennessee, take Tennessee. Carolina and Tennessee both like to run, so the question is who runs better.
Big men (read, Hansborough) are less effective in an up and down game so he won’t be as big a factor as some people think. Lawson has also had trouble with teams that press this year (Clemson). Tennessee presses and goes 10 players deep, so fatigue won’t be an issue for them.
Also, Tennessee is simply better at an up and down game then Carolina is. Carolina isn’t the type of team that can slow it down enough to beat Tennessee.
Glad you guys liked it. I’ll try to do it for a few more games here and there. Honestly though, I’m really just miming the MightyMJD’s smorgadsborg from the NFL season. We’ll try again sometime. I actually watch the game a lot less observantly this way, oddly enough, than if I was just watching the game without the running diary. I enjoyed writing it though, so hopefully we can recapture the lightning in the bottle of the first attempt. Peace easy. Let’s go lakers!
81 Witness says
How quickly the Utah regime forgets! It’s been less than a year and they’ve already forgotten Fisher’s playoff heroics, which saved them against GS in two consecutive games after landing not hours, but minutes earlier in Salt Lake City.
Can you imagine the emotions he sacrificed for Utah on those nights? Don’t you think he wanted to stay overnight with his wife and daughter, and see the procedure through? How does one play basketball and not have these emotions running through the back of your mind? Unimaginable.
I have to stop writing. It’s late, my blood is boiling, and I am holding myself back from saying some nasty things about the fans of the Utah Jazz.
Steve P. says
Kurt, What are your thoughts on Philly? They’ve won eight of nine and seem to play really well for Mo Cheeks. Any chance they make noise in the playoffs?
bynum due back before playoffs
And, as predicted…
Lakers Bringing Fear To The NBA says
I have UCLA, Texas, Tennessee, Kansas on my final 4. But guys, dont sleep on Davidson.
Great player in Stephen Curry (Dell Curry’s son) I think averages about 25ppg.
Have them goin far than most people.
carter blanchard says
Anyone going to the games tomorrow? I’ll be there for the morning session, representing Stanford proudly. I might try to buy a scalped ticket for UCLA’s game.
Ahhh! Fudge yeah! Two weeks!
Here’s an upset for ya: Miss. St. over Memphis round 2. Free throw shooting will catch up to the tigers. Miss. St. has a great shot blocker and a great guard. bad bad matchup for memphis
1st round upsets i really like are Davidson over Gonzo, Gonzaga has to fly across the country to play a really good team close to home, its a tough task. They have experience and they have played some tough games this year.
Also i think Oklahoma loses to St. Joes. I don’t think the sooners are any good and St. Joes is pretty hot, they just had a let down after beating Xavier twice, and Temple got the best of them, their coach will have them ready for this one. Also St. Joes and Louisville could be an interesting one. I might change that pick. I don’t have many upsets in the later rounds, only Arizona facing UCLA in the Elite8, and USC v. Georgetown in S.16.
My Final 4 are UCLA, Texas, Georgetown, N. Carolina
with the Bruins and Tar Heels the only ones I really like, I might put Kansas for GTown, but I don’t see Memphis or Stanford holding it together for 4 tough games, Texas will be close to home in the later rounds so I have to go with them.
In the MidWest i can see Kansas, GTown, USC all making it depending on what happens early
I would like to know what you all think of Butler vs. S. Alabama, I don’t know much about them Butler lost to Drake S. Alabama is playing in Alabama, both are mid-majors and both beat quality teams, I really want to go with team USA
Another one to look at is Vandy vs. Siena, Siena isn’t so bad on the road and Vanderbilt is really bad, Siena has 3 quality scorers and good guard play, looks like an upset.
However of all these upsets i don’t have any of them going past the 2nd round i’m taking a few chances, although I really want to go Davidson over Georgetown, but i don’t think I will
The Dude Abides says
Woo hoo!!! Andrew returning Apr 6th against the BallSACs?! Awesome! Totally awesome! Alright Hamilton!
kwame a. says
31-I know you asked Kurt, but I really like Philly. They like to run and have plenty of athletes to press on defense. Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams and Sam Dalembert are all having good years and Andre Miller is having a career season, along with the other AI, I can see them winning a first round series.
Kurt, Phil basically admitted to doing exactly what you said he did. Good work, sir.
31. I haven’t seen a Philly game for long enough that it would be tough for me to give any good input. Check out what Kwame a. said in 37. But I do think they have a good group of athletes and it really depends on who thay face first round — right now they get Detroit and that would be a tough match up. But move up a spot and get Orlando, and maybe….
J.D. Hastings says
Some casual precictions. First, we lost tonight. The odds of us becoming a defense first team and learning to stop the likes of Deron Williams overnight just aren’t that high, especially against a great home team like Utah. I’d put the score at 111-103.
In fact, I’m going to predict Utah wins their next 7 or 8 games. In fact, if they don’t win out March they should be disappointed since they only have one road game in that stretch, and it’s in Minnesota. Every other team they face is sub-par. Meanwhile the Lakers could lose to Golden State once or twice during the b2b next week, depending on if we get Pau back. If we lose both (while winning the games we ought to) and Utah wins out March, we’ll be tied in the loss column.
Utah finishes the season, though, with a brutal 6 game spate of games against the West’s best, with 3 of those 6 on the road, where Utah sucks. So if we take care of business and have a respectable showing against the West’s playoff teams, we should finish in front of Utah, which will be huge in case we meet them in the Playoffs.
Other than Utah, the Lakers have the easiest schedule left in the west, but New Orleans and Phoenix are both threats. If the Lakers can get through without Pau (if they can take both from GSW, that’d be huge) and are focused enough to prevent further let downs against Portland and Sacramento, they should come out with a high seed, maybe the top seed. I just hope we can maintain our focus and execute.
Good point on the Dallas isolation style offense. There easier to defend when they play that way. Jason Kidd can’t break down the defense in a halfocurt set like Devin Harris used to do against the Lakers. They rely a lot on isolation and less ball movement.
YOU WERE RIGHT ON WITH BYNUM AND PHILS COMMENTS … DONT YOU LOVE HOW PJ PLAYS THESE MIND GAMES
HOW ABOUT THIS
Ryan O says
43. Wow, seriously? I would love for them to bring Bynum and Pau back in the same game, preferably at Staples. The crowd would absolutely lose their minds. Probably won’t happen of course, but it would be a thrill nonetheless.
43, 44. No, unfortunately. The caption in the photo in misleading when it says “Bynum could be back by Sunday”. The Sunday that the LA times report has in mind is April 6th, not this Sunday. Phil Jackson said “three Sundays from the one that just passed”.
I might be way off, but here’s my prediction on how the West will play out:
1. San Antonio: 56-26
(will finish 12-3 with losses coming to Dallas, Utah, and Utah again)
2. Lakers: 56-26
(will finish 10-5 with losses coming to Utah, Warriors, Sacramento, Portland, and San Antonio)
3. New Orleans: 55-27
(will finish 9-6 with losses coming to Boston, Cavs, Boston, Orlando, Lakers, Dallas)
4. Utah: 55-27
(will finish 10-3 with losses coming to SA, NO, Dallas)
5. Phoenix: 56-26
(will finish 10-4 with losses coming to Detroit, Boston, Denver, SA)
6. Dallas: 52-30
(will finish 8-6 with losses to Boston, Spurs, Warriors, Lakers, Suns, NO)
7. Houston: 54-28
(will finish 8-6 with losses coming to Suns, Spurs, Kings, Portland, Suns, Utah)
8. Golden State: 50-32
(will finish 8-7 with losses coming to Houston, Lakers, Denver, Spurs, Dallas, NO, Suns)
If this holds true, I can see Lakers beating Houston (1st round) and New Orleans/Dallas in the 2nd round, and face San Antonio in the WCF. By that time, we should be in mid-May. I think we can get into the 3rd round without a big contribution from Bynum if we face the teams indicated above (Houston and NO/Dal).
If Bynum (and Ariza hopefully) can get back during the first round (April 18th weekend), that should give him about a 1 month of playing time and about 11-15 games under his belt. Hopefully, that should be enough for him to be pretty effective versus San Antonio. He should also be getting better game by gameâ€¦â€¦..so I donâ€™t know if we can be beat by that time. If we get to the WCF convincingly, I donâ€™t see how we can lose to the Spurs or Boston in the Finals.
By the way, I think only a healthy Lakers squad can beat the Celtics. I donâ€™t think any other team in the league can beat the Celtics except a HEALTHY us (b/c of our versatility and size). So basically, we are the only hope the league has in preventing the Celtics winning a championship this year. Of course, we all know that we are the team to beat next year (barring injury!), but thatâ€™sâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦..well, next year.
Daniel Sagal says
Lets win it this year and next year and the year after that and make Boston fans feel like sh*t for not being able to accomplish anything with the “BIG 3”
I’m excited for the playoffs, but I’d first like to see all the guys return healthy.
chris h says
hey Kurt, I know ya got a day job and all….but, did you forget there is a game today?
(sung to the tune of “I want my MTV”)
I want my FBnG…
wassup? (said in a friendly..nudge, nudge..kind of way)
I think I’ve become addicted to your game day page.
1) I don’t think the Lakers will have easy games against GSW this weekend at all even though our rotation is pretty much set to run right now.
2) The Spurs could take the Celtics but SA has been very suspect lately.
I apologize in advance Kurt and my intention is not to use this forum for ticket purposes, but I can’t go to the game tomorrow b/c of a last minute work thang so if anyone is interested I have 2 tix available located in section 115, row 7, seats 15-16. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone is interested (first rights to Kurt if he want to go). I’m willing to get rid of them for face value (the FB&G discount) Thx!
Jazz preview post finally up.
To ADB – This is how I see it, so I will save this page to see whose standings are closer.
Even missing 3 seven footers and out best perimeter defender behind Kobe, I think that the Lakers will some how pull off the number one seed and Kobe will earn MVP honors.
Below is the order I think that the West will finish, but of course I know how tight it is and your guess is as good as mine.
1. Lakers – 7 out of their final 15 games are against playoff teams and only 5 out of 15 are on the road, only 2 of those 5 are against playoff teams. (Of course this looks a little better than the reality, since we play Sacramento and Portland each twice, and we know that they are better than the bottom 4 Eastern Conference playoff teams, so I admit my ranking system is off.)
2. New Orleans – plays 10 road games out of their final 15, with 6 road games against playoff teams and 9 total games against playoff teams. (If they earn the number one seed, many voters may put him above Kobe for MVP, but I will still disagree)
3. Phoenix – has 11 out of 14 games versus playoff caliber teams, and 8 out of 14 are on the road, with 7 of those 8 road games against playoff teams.
4. Utah (Who I am very scared to watch tomorrow) play 8 of 13 against playoff teams, but only 4 are road games, 3 of them against playoff teams and their last 6 games are all against playoff teams.
5. San Antonio (losers of 6 out of 7…YES!…they will never repeat!) are facing 8 playoff caliber teams and play 6 out of their last 15 on the road, 4 of those 6 road games are against playoff teams.
6. Golden State plays 10 playoff teams in their last 15 games, with 7 road games, 6 against playoff teams. (Hopefully we have Gasol back for at least one of our Sunday Monday games against them!)
7. Dallas has 9 playoff teams in their final 14 games, with 7 road games, 4 against playoff teams. (They still have yet to beat a plus .500 team with Kiddâ€¦Can you believe this team might miss the playoffs?!)
8. Denver plays 9 out of their final 14 against playoff teams, with 8 road games, 5 against playoff teams. (I think they have to be on this list considering that they have a realistic chance of being the first 50 win team to miss the playoffs, as it appears one of these 9 will most certainly obtain that infamy)
9. Houston who has just started another streak (2 losses) has 9 of their final 14 on the road and 6 games against playoff teams, with 5 of those games on the road. I think the sports broadcasters were right when they said they couldnâ€™t make the playoffs without Yao, and even though they won another 10 in a row (mostly against sub standard teams or teams missing their 1st or 2nd option) I still believe that they will miss the playoffs, greatly diminishing what they accomplished during their streak.
Thatâ€™s my two cents. GO LAKERS AGAINST JAZZ!!!!
The Lakers are going to have a tough decision when Bynum comes back; they need him back to full strength as quickly as possible so he can be effective in the playoffs, and the best way to get him back there is to play him as much as possible. However, expecting Bynum to be effective for more than 12-15 minutes for the first 3-5 games that he’s back is just unreasonable because he’ll just be getting back in shape; and even then, NBA-game shape is such a high level that someone who’s been out for as long as Bynum will have been out will be no more than a shadow of his former self, so playing Bynum a lot to get him back in shape may hurt them in the standings, since I’m not sure a shadow of Bynum is better than the alternative of going with Gasol at the 5 and Odom at the 4.