Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mile High

I really like this Denver team and I’m reiterating my thoughts that they will take down the Lakers.

They are playing great team basketball. They’re making the extra pass and getting easy buckets. Their frontline is intimidating and can finish (although Martin needs to crush some of those layins and remove all doubt that the ball is going through the hoop). They can score in crazy bunches. I just like what I’m seeing.

I also love the way that Chauncey Billups plays. Tom Friend had a cool, lengthy feature the other day kind of explaining why Billups is who he is. I enjoyed it immensely.

There really is no reason not to like the guy, especially since he is so clearly in command of this team and can dress down even the seemingly undressdownable Kenyon Martin. For instance, at the end of the first half Billups waved away Nene as he attempted to set a screen and pointed at Martin. Martin came over, but didn’t do so with much urgency, so Billups took it to the hole, got fouled, and made the shot, he walked toward Martin pointed, and said, “I wanted YOU in the pick and roll, dog.” Martin did not argue, but instead repeated “My bad” several times. Martin was wrong. Billups was right. Martin knew it. It’s almost like he’s a dad out there. He has this way about him where he almost nonverbally says, “It’s not that I’m mad, I’m just disappointed.” Anyway, he’s such a smart offensive player and it’s really clear why his teammates love playing with him.

However, I do not like the way that he played defense on Jason Kidd. Look, we all know Kidd is past his prime, certainly defensively, but he’s still crafty and quick with the ball in his hands, as evidenced by the several occasions where he actually And1 Mixtaped Billups on defense and drove straight to the hole, except he never finished, but that’s a different matter. Another thing is that he, and several Dallas players (Howard, Terry, sometimes Dirk) were left WIDE open on threes. Denver plays very good defense in the post and on drives to the basket, but for some reason they do a really poor job closing out on three-point shooters, which is strange. It’s one of the easier things to do because while it takes effort, the effort required is minimal. They can’t continually do that against a good shooting team and expect to survive (although they just did that, didn’t they? So what am I talking about?)

I’m a converted Melo believer. I’ve wanted to like the guy for a few years now and he’s convinced me that he’s worthy. He’s such an explosive offensive force and is actually showing quite a bit of defensive prowess, as evidenced by his strong post defense against Dirk. Granted, Dirk is not a post player, but Melo did not give any ground and did not bite on Dirk’s many, many headfakes. Since he’s such a solidly built guy with quickness and speed, so it makes sense that he should be a good defender. Actually, the only thing holding him back is effort. He’ll get there though. But his real value, obviously, is his offense. He’s such a strong player going to the hole, his straight-up-and down jumper looks great and when he’s on, it’s like his shot finds the bottom of the net quicker than most. It’s kind of like when people talk about how a ball sounds different when it comes off Josh Hamilton’s bat. Melo’s swishes are just prettier than most.
A few other random thoughts:
  • I hated PJ Carlesimmo as the coach for the Sonics, but I must admit, he’s a good color analyst. The guy knows what he’s talking about and he doesn’t come across as a jerk that I’d perceived to be. He doesn’t belabor points, he doesn’t seem to have any grudges, he doesn’t over-talk, and he’s been around the league for so long he knows all of the players really well. What can I say? I like the guy.
  • Another guy that I like is Brandon Bass. He’s a tough, effort guy with some skills, a decently reliable jumper, and doesn’t seem to be a quitter. He showed a ton of heart down the stretch when the game looked like it was out of hand. Anyway, I’ll say this, even though he’s only 6’7 or 6’8 I’d much rather have him at $2-3M per year (he’s an unrestricted free agent and made under $830K this year) than Erick Dampier at $11M per year through the 2011 season, but that’s just me. But I hammered this point home earlier.
    I don’t like the Pepsi Center. It looks fine on TV and I’m sure it’s a nice place to watch a game, but man, it seats over 19K, but the acoustics make it sound like there are far less people in there. It’s like the noise just evaporates. I felt the same way about Dallas’s American Airlines Center (which seats over 20K). Maybe they need to lower the ceilings or something, but it just sounds dead in those arenas.
  • Just how disgusting is that Dominos Pasta Bread Bowl? I thought that we had turned into a very carb-conscious society, so how did this make it through testing? What’s next, a baked potato bread bowl stuffed with fettuccini alfredo and topped with croutons with a side of chips? I’m curious to see how these things sell. My guess? Very well.
  • I am thoroughly enjoying the "Old School" T-Mobile commercial with Barkley, Magic, and Dr. J. I especially enjoy the poster and video game case depicting a caricature of Barkley playing hoop in red Chuck Taylors and a hospital gown with an IV in his arm. Nice subtle move by the T-Mobile folks. The three of them look legitimately sad about wearing the motion capture outfits. Also, they don’t overact, but instead play it straight up, and it’s legitimately funny. Nice job, fellas.
  • I seriously doubt that I’ll be “Meeting the Browns.”

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