LeBron James and Stephon Marbury Were at a Bar One Night…
Yadda Yadda Yadda, fancy cars and nice sneakers.
There are other things going on the NBA—like a season, for instance. We are all witnessing what happens to an organization that overlooks that fact. Thus far, it is the Knicks as they are now 1 in 5 since acquiring Al Harrington, including two blowout losses to Cleveland—ironically enough. They transformed from the surprise team at the beginning of the year with D’Antoni’s fast paced offense to a sub-.500 team that no one in the NBA worries about. It is ridiculous to think that any player would like to play on a team that makes these kinds of personnel decisions. An intelligent player, LeBron James for instance, must notice trends.
Almost as if it were only a mere side-note, it will be interesting to see how the Marbury situation plays out in New York. With career averages of 20 points and 8 assists per game, Stephon has demonstrated to the NBA that he can play well. He is only 31, and if he plays somewhere this season, you can be sure that he will be well rested.
In other league news, we saw the Lakers’ one weakness: chance. The Pacers defeated them this week 118-117 (Tuesday, December 2) on a last second tip-in by Troy Murphy, giving the Lakers their second loss of the season. They are not likely to lose many more games on last second tip-ins, though. That game was a fluke. Kobe is a great closer and the Lakers are too tall up front for anyone to begin to think that the Pacers found a significant weakness. However, with Boston at 18-2 and the Lakers at 15-2, the detrimental value of every loss is magnified. It is as if the race for home court advantage in the Finals is under full swing.
Tonight’s (Friday, December 5) games have both teams in action. The Lakers are on the road against the Washington Wizards and the Celtics will defend their title against the streaking Trail Blazers (they have won 6 straight games). Expect the Lakers to win comfortably and the Celtics game to be a thriller. In the battle for home court advantage in the Finals, it is as if the Lakers were given a boost tonight. The cliché holds true though: everyone has a schedule so no one feels pity for the Celtics.
The Celtics v. Trail Blazers game tonight will be filled with compelling matchups. Oden and Garnett are likely to play against each other for a good portion of the game, and Brandon Roy and Ray Allen will face off frequently, and LaMarcus Aldridge will give whoever guards him fits. Rajon Rondo has been on a tear of late, expect him to get to the basket and find Boston’s shooters out on the perimeter.
In case you’re having difficulty seeing the importance of the Celtics v. Trail Blazers game, think of this little factoid: Marbury’s cousin, journeyman Sebastian Telfair, has played for both Boston and Portland. I love New York, really, I do.
Last week, I made a comment on how Tayshaun Prince would likely be the "odd man out" if LeBron goes to the Pistons in 2010. That opinion was based on the consideration of various factors, the most important of which is that I doubt Joe Dumars would continue to pay Tayshaun Prince the amount of money a player of his caliber deserves with a guy like LeBron on the roster. The individual last week who mentioned that Prince and James play the same position understands the situation fully.
Games to look for:
Portland v. Boston (Friday, December 5 at 8pm)—This game will give fans a good idea of where the Blazers are as a team. They currently hold the second best record in the West, but are they really elite? Let’s see how they do against the champs.
Atlanta v. San Antonio (Wednesday, December 10 at 8:30pm)—This game will feature a unique matchup between two teams that want to play opposite styles of basketball. Speed and Youth v. Strength and Experience. With Bibby holding the reigns, I think the Hawks have what it takes.
Los Angeles Lakers v. Phoenix (Wednesday, December 10 at 10:30pm)—Face it, the "Shaq v. Kobe" thing will never get old. Neither will the "Kobe v. Raja Bell" thing. And you want to see Shaq and Bynum go after it every night, Clash of the Titans style. Expect the Lakers to pull this one out in the end. And Marbury once played on the Suns.