Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An NBA Valentine's Update

It’s the loveliest time of the year.  A new, flying gentleman is making everybody fall in love.  Old mates with transcendent chemistry continue to astound through injury and through health.  A new budding relationship- an experiment of sorts- is starting to sprout into maturity in sunny South Beach.  I’m not talking about Cupid, Bill and Hillary, or whichever pair of celebrities just hooked up in Miami less than one minute ago.  I’m talking about Blake Griffin, the Spurs and Celtics, and the Miami Heat big three of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. 
Griffin is truly having a historic rookie season.  He has given the “other team” in L.A. an exciting and marketable player, something the Clippers never, ever, ever get.  The question isn’t whether Blake deserves the Rookie of the Year award; it’s how far did David Stern go to woo Blake to be his 2011 valentine.  Griffin’s explosiveness off the floor when pulling off one of his exciting, made-for-YouTube dunks is only rivaled by the youngest, healthiest versions of Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Kemp, yet his play is most reminiscent of a young Charles Barkley.  His penchant for grabbing offensive rebounds off his second-jump has been Round-Mound-of-Rebound-like, his ability to handle the ball in the open floor and pass well as a power forward compares to Sir Charles, and his strength is Barkley-esque.  Unlike Barkley, Griffin has yet to use his well-earned money to play the role of Charley and the Krispy Kreme factory.   He is one of the fittest players in the league and has a strong work ethic.  Barring injury, Blake has a great chance at reaching the maximum of his considerable potential.
What about the league’s elderly power forwards- Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan?  Garnett continues to be an intense leader, howling at opposing players smaller than him and burning with as much passion for a February regular season game against the Sacramento Kings as most couples on Valentine’s Day do before- err, you know what.  Despite constant injuries to key players, Garnett’s Celtics continues to dominate, leading the top-heavy Eastern Conference with a record of 39-14.  Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo are possibly the best, most battle-tested core in the league.  Add the league’s elder statesmen, Shaquille O’Neal- aka The Big Valentine- to the mix, and this old group is still a favorite to win the NBA title. 
 Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich are another battle-tested championship core.  San Antonio is a league-best 46-9 this season thanks to great health and a change of scheme offensively.  Timmy and Pop (Sounds like the co-captains of a ‘50’s stickball team on your parents’ block, right?) have given the keys to the offense over to Ginobili and Parker, who have opened the offense up.  With a perimeter-oriented attack modeled perfectly for the modern era, San Antonio is having arguably the best regular season success in its history.  Though the defense needs work, the Spurs are back on the radar as legitimate contenders in the Western Conference. 
And how’s the South Beach experiment working out so far?  Though they’ve been streaky, the Miami Heat is currently second in the Eastern Conference at 39-15.  They’ve been strong offensively, but what is impressive about them is how menacing they’ve been on defense.  They are currently third in defensive rating (measures points allowed per 100 possessions) as James and Wade have proven to be effective co-anchors within a sound defensive scheme.  James, Wade, and Bosh- “The Superfriends”- have been productive together, but they will need players like Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem to help them in the playoffs if they want to consummate their South Beach-honeymoon season by winning a championship.

Meanwhile, King James’s old beau, the Cleveland Cavaliers, is on the rebound in the worst way.  Wait, scratch that.  They aren’t on any rebound.  Ever.  Cleveland just ended their NBA-record 26-game losing-streak.  They are 9-46.  Their best defender and rebounder, Anderson Varejao, is out for the season with injury.  You don’t know half their roster anymore.  Cavs owner Dan Gilbert definitely felt like the most scorned lover in the history of the world on Valentine’s Day as he remembered the good times his team had with Lebron.  Or maybe he reveled in his millions and took a trip to a warm tropical location.  No, I definitely got it right the first time.

Kobe Bryant’s Lakers have been dominant, yet disinterested with the regular season; you can find them sleep-walking until May.  Orlando’s Dwight Howard has added moves to his post arsenal; hopefully he is comfortable using them in the playoffs.  Derrick Rose has improved by leaps, bounds, jumps, and hydraulic-induced hops and is leading the Chicago Bulls to the top of the Eastern Conference.  Dirk Nowitzki is having another MVP-like season for Dallas.  The Phoenix Suns have struggled a bit, but 37-year-old Steve Nash could not be more vulpine (Dictionary.com word of the day, baby!), cerebrally toying with younger, more athletic players.  And Stoudemire is playing like a superstar for the Knicks despite not having Nash around to create for him, proving he is a dominant offensive player on his own.            

The NBA all-star game and the trade deadline are right around the corner.  Be prepared when Griffin rocks the slam-dunk contest.  Maybe he reads this article and gets inspired to don a cape and be Cupid to fellow big man Dwight Howard’s Superman.  (Wow, even I hope he doesn’t do that.)  Be prepared to be bombarded by talks and rumors of Carmelo Anthony heading to the Knicks. 

There were six decent games on last night.  Unfortunately, the Cavs weren’t playing, so you weren’t able to watch a comedy with your significant other. 

At least there was Blake Griffin on YouTube.  *Heart* 

No comments:

Post a Comment