(SB Nation Arizona) Tuesday's 2012 NBA Playoff schedule brought four games with four opportunities for 3-1 series to end. Fortunately for fans (in some cities), only one of those teams was able to get the job done and move on to the next round.
In the other three games on Tuesday, the Denver Nuggets took advantage of a low-energy start by the Los Angeles Lakers to force a Game 6. This is not a big surprise from an arrogant Lakers team that has a history of overlooking opponents. Meanwhile, the Thunder are waiting for the Lakers to get their act together so they can meet in the next round.
The Chicago Bulls dominated the Philadelphia 76ers with defense in a 77-69 win to make that a 3-2 series. And a fully-manned Atlanta Hawks team executed better down the stretch to beat the Boston Celtics, 87-86, and force a Game 6 in that series. As is often the case in the East, neither game was pretty.
Here's the NBA Playoff schedule for Wednesday night:
New York Knicks at Miami Heat at 7:00 p.m. ET / 4:00 p.m. PT on TNT
The Knicks have lost three point guards to injury and are down to Mike Bibby as their only option. That won't end well. The Heat should be able to cruise through this game, but it's Miami so you never really know if they will bring the killer instinct or just chill out and wait for the wins to roll in with the tide.
The Grizzlies were our pick to win this series but find themselves down 3-1 to the Clippers. Give L.A. credit for solid defense and for having the best player on the court in crunch time. Chris Paul has been unstoppable, despite the variety of good wing defenders the Grizzlies can throw at him.
Man, Michael Redd. What an amazing story right? Let's be clear from the start, to give a fair evaluation we should first acknowledge what the expectations were. Jump it and I swear you'll get a gackle out of what was said when the Suns signed Redd late December. Jump it fools!
You know the expectations were low when as recently as last month you have stories like this floating around - I laughed because if he weren't playing for the Suns I would probably be in the same position.
And let's just refresh our brains and reminisce on how the majority of us felt. Oh you can't remember? Let me help
Not trying to call anyone out - just pointing out the general mood, look I'll include my comment as well,
Now let's get a little technical.
Since 2008 (that would be 3 whole NBA seasons removed from the current season), Michael Redd had only played in a total of 61 games for the Milwaukee Bucks due to his knee issues. 3 Seasons, 61 games. 33 in 08-09, 18 in 09-10, and only 10 in 10-11.
This Season Redd played in 51 games.
Now granted - did he play as many minutes as he's been accustomed to over his career? Not even close, but was his production on the same par? It slowly trended upward as the season progressed and all signs would point to a return to near his career averages performance-wise given his health continues to strengthen.
If you don't believe me check his career PER 36 Minute Stats
His scoring production this year was almost near his 20pt mo - and that's a huge positive. Sure his shooting percentages all around were down on the year but you all witnessed what I witnessed. Michael Redd made a difference on this team when he was in. But I won't get carried away - it was a gradual positive. Despite scoring 12 points in his debut with the Suns on 01/12/12, he got off to a slow start showing obvious signs that he wasn't quite in shape to compete at the NBA level and that his confidence was not quite all there yet.
Then Boom. He was feeling healthy and the gradual improvement began. You could tell often when Redd came into the game that his confidence was back and he was feeling comfortable. He would take control of the second unit and turn the momentum in favor of the Suns with his crafty left-handed drives and twitchy post-ups in the paint, his quick release on the perimeter was also an asset as he contributed heartily off the bench. Let's take a look at an example.
His season high of 25 points came against the Rockets on 03/18/12 - and he looked very healthy.
Now if there has to be a negative in an evaluation for a guy of whom not much was expected - it would be his defense. Something we already knew wasn't his forte and could only be negatively amplified due to his lack of mobility in recovery. And guess what, Redd had the worst defensive rating on the team with 111. But that shouldn't surprise anyone.
I thought as the season wore on and Redd recovered some of his wind that his defensive effort improved as well, I can only venture on to propose that with an offseason of healthy training under his belt and the tutelage of Grant Hill and Elston Turner his defense could improve next year. But do we need him to be Grant Hill? Or do we need him more to be the missing scoring threat off the bench that we've been curmudgeoning around for and summoning through mystical commentations in rosterbation threads for the last few years? (I might have invented a few words in that sentence) Maybe the more immediate and applicable question to our current situation is, do we want him back next year at all?
Michael Redd has said he wants to be back.
If there ever was anything to doubt about Redd's situation going forward - I think it would be his continued health more than his improvement defensively, but I know better to doubt Aaron Nelson and the Suns training staff. Redd is only 32 years old and if he stays in Phoenix i can see many productive years in his future as a scoring threat off the bench. But enough about the future - let's get back to evaluating his immediate past.
THE FINAL GRADE
So we've established that nothing was really expected from Redd this year with Phoenix right? Or maybe that we expected he might recover a bit from our medical staff and contribute some bench scoring? Well based on that criteria he passed with flying colors and exceeded everyone's expectations by playing in 51 games (of a shortened season remember) and nearly averaging double-digit scoring. His improvement trajectory is on the rise and because of all that I give Mike Redd a solid -
It's not an A because he still stunk often defensively and had a slow (expected) start.
Am I being fair? Too harsh? Too kind? What are your thoughts?
(SB Nation Arizona, Ronald Clark)At 38 years old, Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash will eventually have to move on from playing the game of basketball, and it looks like he's already lining up future gigs to keep him busy once that time comes.
Nash was named general manager of Canada Basketball's senior men's team on Tuesday, according to Sportsnet. Already the biggest basketball star to come out of Canada, Nash will now take his knowledge of the game to the front office to try to put together the best team possible.
It won't be an easy thing to do. The last time the Canadians made an Olympic appearance was in 2000 in Sydney where they finished seventh and Nash played for them.
Nash' first task will be finding a coach after Leo Rautins resigned in September. Jay Triano, the coach of the 2000 team, was brought up as a possibility but his interest in the job is unknown.
(SB Nation Arizona, Seth Pollack) The San Antonio Spurs are clearly the class of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. They breezed through the Utah Jazz and swept their first round series in one of the two games on the schedule Monday night. The Spurs are showing a potent combination of veteran execution with an infusion of young athletes. We can't wait to see them face the Thunder (if OKC can get by the Lakers).
In the other game on Monday's schedule, the Los Angeles Clippers took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Memphis Grizzlies. Overall, Memphis is the better team but they don't play well enough as a unit to overcome the star power of Chris Paul. The series heads back to Tennessee for Game 5 on Wednesday.
Here's a look at the four games on Tuesday's 2012 NBA Playoff schedule. All four games feature a team with a 3-1 lead trying to close out their series:
The sooner this one is over, the better. We have to give the Magic credit for winning a game and forcing overtime in another. They've played hard but just can't compete with the Pacers. Indiana, for their part, should have been more dominant in the series which doesn't bode well for them moving forward.
Joe Johnson has been a virtual non-factor in this series which is not want you need from a guy making max-player money. The Hawks have some interesting decisions to making in the offseason, which will likely start very soon.
The 76ers are really showing something here and if they can close out the banged up Bulls on the road, they will have a lot of momentum heading into the next round. They are clearly the surprise of the playoffs so far.