Wednesday , Apr , 11 , 2007 Oly Sandor

NBA Wrap-up for April 10

Breaking down the day’s top NBA stories. Find out if home court advantage puts Dallas over the top, weigh in on whether Jerry West and Isiah Thomas could co-exist in the NYC, and discuss the fate of the playoff bound Washington Wizards.

Top 3 Stories

1) Dallas locks up home court advantage for the playoffs
2) Could the troubles in Memphis drive The ‘Logo’ to New York
3) Wizards lose but still qualify for playoffs

1) Dallas locks up home court advantage for the playoffs


What Happened:
In the ultra-tight Western Conference, the Dallas Mavericks managed to seal up home court advantage with a win over the L.A. Clippers on Monday night.

With home court secured, the Mavericks will rest Dirk Nowitzki and Jerry Stackhouse for the rest of the regular season. Most importantly, four of every seven playoff games will be held in Dallas.

Reaction of Dallas Coach Avery Johnson
on what’s next:
“We didn’t come into the season trying to be No. 1 (seeded), we came into the season trying to finish the year with a win. If we continue to pay attention to details, and don’t skip a step, and don’t make too much of ourselves, we have a chance of kicking it into another gear. There’s still another level for us to go.” (ESPN)

Reaction of Dallas Coach Avery Johnson on resting Nowitzki:
“I told them if I see them on the plane, I’ll fine them.” (ESPN)

Reaction of Dallas owner Mark Cuban
on his team’s record:
“That and a dollar, leaves you with a dollar.” (CBS Sports)

Reaction of Dallas guard Jason Terry on his team’s end goal for the season:
“Our emphasis is on improving—each game, each practice, getting better and positioning ourselves to get back to the Finals. I haven’t gotten over (last year) yet. Finish-that’s our motto this year.” (CBS Sports)

My Take:
 “I believe this story has been under-reported and slept on by the media. The Western Conference is so tight that every possible advantage and edge is important. Securing home court allows the Mavericks to do two things.

First, they can give Dirk Nowitzki some much needed rest. His ankles have been extremely wobbly and tender. This is huge. For example, Phoenix would love to give Nash time off, but they don’t have that luxury. A well-rested Dirk gives Dallas an edge on every club.

Second, they play four of every seven playoff games at home. This is also huge. I think home court advantage could give Dallas the edge in getting past Phoenix and San Antonio.”

2) ‘Could the Logo’ leave the uncertainty of Memphis for ‘The Big Apple?’


What Happened:
The Memphis Grizzlies have an uncertain future. The owner wants to sell. Tony Barone is an interim coach. And Paul Gasol, the franchise star, wants out.

However, front office exec, Jerry West, has remained out of the limelight. This is surprising. The Hall of Fame guard and legendary executive has no contract for next season, so there should be more speculation about his future.

Recently, a rumor started that West would leave Memphis and join New York’s front office this summer. Isiah Thomas, the Knicks’ front office exec, has a contract for next season as coach only.
Nobody knows the future. One thing is clear: the Grizzly franchise is in a state of flux.

Reaction of Memphis forward Pau Gasol on his future with the Grizzlies:
“I’m going to talk to the organization about whatever they have in mind,” Gasol said. "I would like to see a commitment to winning and to work for something and to have a purpose in this league. Otherwise it’s really easy to sink in and lose a lot of games and have a bad year like we just had. I just want to have a feeling that my team and my franchise are fully committed to win and are going to invest for that to happen.” (CNNSI.com)

Reaction of Memphis Coach Tony Barone on Gasol’s comments:
 “That whole issue of insecurity in Pau’s mind shouldn’t be as much of an issue as he makes it out to be,” answered Barone. "He’s here, he’s being very well-compensated [with $63 million coming his way over the next four years] and he’s a professional. What is he concerned about? Who is going to be the coach, and who is going to run the franchise? Those are legitimate concerns.” (CNNSI.com)

 My Take:
“Ian Thomsen, a writer for CNNSI.com, believes there’s enough evidence to suggest West would consider leaving the troubles of Memphis for the bright lights of New York.

I like Thomsen’s work. He’s a pro.However, I disagree. I can’t see West, at 65, jumping into the fire pit that is New York-especially with Isiah Thomas now in the mix for the long term. West and Thomas would soon be stabbing each other in the back. This would be very similar to the Thomas and Larry Brown situation. And we all remember how that ended."

"I believe West will stay with the Grizzlies as an advisor. He doesn’t need the hassle of New York. Look for Glen Grunwald, a Thomas ally, to assume a greater role in New York’s front office."

3) Wizards lose but still secure a playoff birth

What happened: The Wizards have been in a tailspin without their two all stars: Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas. Yesterday, Washington lost 96-92 in a close game against New Jersey.

Washington have now lost five straight, but still qualified for the post season because Philadelphia defeated Indiana. So for the Wizards a loss is actually a victory.

Reaction of Antawn Jamison on qualifying for the playoffs:
 “It’s bittersweet.” (ESPN)

Washington Coach Eddie Jordan
on his team’s up-and-down season:
 "I always say that in December and January, when we were going pretty darn good, that I always felt like I’m walking on the edge of a cliff and about to fall off. I’ve been feeling that way a whole lot lately." (ESPN)

Washington guard Antonio Daniels
on the loss to New Jersey, which is also a metaphor for the Wizards’ entire season:
"We put ourselves in a position to win in the last minute of the game. And the wheels just fell off." (ESPN)

My Take:

“I am pleased to see Washington qualify for the post-season after such a string of bad luck. However, this team is a sacrificial lamb. After watching the Wizards’ last few games, I really don’t see how they can survive in the playoffs.Daniels can’t compensate for Arenas’ scoring. And nobody on their roster can compensate for Butler’s toughness. It’s a shame. I think Washington, with Arenas, is the most entertaining team in the Eastern Conference. They would have been great fun to watch in the post season.”

Come back tomorrow morning for another edition of the NBA Wrap-up, featuring Oly Sandor’s cutting-edge analysis. Got a comment or question? Use the comment box or email Oly at olysandor@hoopsvibe.com