NBA Wrap-up For April 14
Breaking down the days top NBA stories. Read about A.I. and Melo leading the Nuggets to a playoff spot, Bowen or Duncan for defensive player of the year, and the Magic’s ‘magic’ number is just 2.
Top 3 Stories
1) Defense and chemistry behind Denver’s surge
2) CNNSI drops their Defensive player of the year
3)) Up-and-down Magic close in on playoff birth
1), , and help the Nuggets win 8 of 9 games
What Happened: Team chemistry is no longer an issue in Denver. In fact, right now, chemistry is pretty golden.
After all, this team recently won eight straight games and clinched the 6th seed in the Western Conference playoffs. So what’s behind their success?
Reaction of Denver Coach George Karl on his team qualifying for the playoffs:
“I think it’s a pretty good accomplishment for the hand that we’ve been deal. We’re excited because we’re playing well. It’s a situation where we know we’re dangerous; we have a lot of weapons. If we continue to keep our composure and have some mental toughness in the fourth quarter and continue to get better defensively, I think we have a chance." (Denver Post)
Reaction of Denver guard Allen Iverson on beating the Hornets to clinch the 6th seed:
"A great comeback, the type of game that’s going to help us get prepared for the playoffs. We just showed a lot of heart and a lot of execution at the end of the game." (ESPN)
Reaction of CNN reporter Ian Thomsen on Denver’s recent success:
“Iverson provided Carmelo Anthony with a fellow star, and at last the Nuggets have united on a seven-game win streak to surge toward the playoffs.” (CNNSI.com)
I think there are two reasons for Denver’s recent success. First, they’re playing some defense. This is huge. The Nuggets have a great anchor in center Marcus Camby; he’s capable of blocking and changing shots. Lately, they’ve had success running their defense through him.
Second, Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony have finally clicked. At times, these two looked awkward playing together. I now see chemistry between them. I also see Iverson acting more as a facilitator.
I think Denver is capable of scaring in a first round match-up.
2) CNNSI likes Bowen as defensive player of the year
What Happened: Defensive player of the year has been overshadowed by the MVP debate. Two teammates from the San Antonio Spurs, and , are the leading contenders for the award.
The CNNSI team has Bowen winning 2-1 over Duncan.
Reaction of CNN reporter Jack McCallum on picking Tim Duncan:
“Duncan is perenially underappreciated as a defender, a guy who stands his ground and is able to block shots and avoid contact. The Spurs are the top defensive team in the league, so I have no problem with recognizing two of them in my top three.” (CNNSI.com)
Reaction of CNN reporter Ian Thomsen on picking Bruce Bowen:
“Bowen is the clear-cut winner: His Spurs lead the league in point differential (9.1) and rank first defensively in scoring (89.7) and third in field goal percentage (44.1). Wallace is still the best post defender, and Battier is a versatile stopper for the stingy Rockets.” (CNNSI.com)
Reaction of CNN reporter Marty Burns on picking Bruce Bowen:
“Bowen’s ability to defend the opposition’s top perimeter threat every night is critical to the Spurs’ outstanding defense. Though not an athletic game-changer like Marion, he is a true stopper who hangs his hat on the defensive end.” (CNNSI.com)
Defensive player, like the MVP race, is another tough call. I also think this award comes down to a pair of Spurs: Tim Duncan and Bruce Bowen. Duncan and Bowen have helped San Antonio once again establish themselves as the league’s best defensive team.
I have to go with Bowen over Duncan. Bowen is best perimeter defender in the league, capable of shutting down any superstar guard or perimeter player. He changes the complexion of every game with his quick feet and competitive play.
3) The Magic are close to clinching playoff birth
What Happened: The have had a roller coaster ride of a season. But after beating the on Saturday by a score of 104-87, Orlando are close to clinching a playoff birth and ending the up-and-down ride.
After today’s win, their number to clinch a post season birth is two. Any combination of a Magic win and Pacers loss secures a playoff spot.
Reaction of Orlando Coach Brian Hill on the importance of making the playoffs:
“That’s a key for us, just to get in there and really experience what the playoffs are all about." (ESPN)
Reaction of Orlando guard Jameer Nelson on qualifying for the post-season:
“We will make the playoffs. We’ve played in big stages before in our lives. Everybody on this team has been in some sort of playoff-atmosphere type game. We have veterans on the team that can tell us about it. We just have to go out there and play hard." (ESPN)
Reaction of Orlando guard Kenyon Dooling on the chance of clinching a playoff spot at home:
“It would be something to do it at home. It might not be the seed we wanted. Nevertheless, we’d be in the show if all goes well." (Orlando Sentinel)
The Magic are the NBA’s most inconsistent team. They’ve been up-and-down all year. But I expect this from such a young club, riding such a young star in .
Still, inexperienced teams need to get exposed to the playoffs. Even if they lose in the first round, the Magic are better off for the experience. I think its vital Orlando clinches a playoff spot and get a taste of what the NBA’s second season is all about.
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 [email protected]