Wherein you suffer through some random thoughts from a guy who used to think he had something useful to say about this team.
Hi, friends. Remember me? I'm the aging white guy in a cheap t-shirt from the bad side of 51st Avenue. I used to run this joint but things are better here now that I've moved on to Chocolate City where the walls are fast and the heart is slim.
Paste his prime, rolling hard from the 602, balling like you used to
Remember me. I'm Phoenix Stan!
I guess I'm feeling a bit nostalgic after seeing the Boyz in Purple for my one and only time this year. They didn't disappoint, although I think we all would have loved to see that 25-point lead hold on long enough to push a normally weak-willed Wizards squad over the edge into slumber. That would have allowed me to glimpse the Archie Goodwin Show™.
No worries. We'll all be seeing plenty of the AGS™ in the coming years as he picks up innumerable ASG MVPs and such.
Meanwhile, a kid they called "Tragic" (against my frequent protestations) has grown into a man. A MAN. A confident man and proud pappa who put together all those pieces of talent, skill, and athleticism with a nice blend of humility tempered by an inner steel that's always been part of his feisty play. Still super quick with a smile but more measured with the ball, he's every bit the player I imagined...and so much more.
Watching Goran's career develop and mature is just another reminder that young players are not finished products. If the right ingredients are there, be patient.
Eric is an interesting fellow. Supremely confident but still sparse and cautious with his words. His defensive instincts are impressive to watch. When people talk about having a "nose for the ball" the best example to give is Bledsoe's leather-sniffing proboscis. He's a work in progress running a team and seemed a bit shaky with his fitness -- understandably so on both counts -- but according to his former Kentucky running mate is finally getting to emerge from the shadows of Wall and Paul.
Folks, I know you know this, but the long Phoenix tradition of talented guards seems destined to continue for many more years with the Slobama Slash Brothers. I'm excited. You can build great things around these two with Archie Goodwin as a highly capable third wheel destined to be the league's first sixth man MVP winner.
It was fun to see a healthy and happy Channing Frye doing Channing Frye things on and off the court. Witty and kind and dropping S-bombs loud enough to be heard in the upper deck in between three bombs loud enough to silence all the decks of a partisan road crowd.
P.J. Tucker proved me wrong. The improvement in his offensive game and his value as the vocal personification of this team's never-say-die attitude makes him an offseason priority. Pay the man already.
Even the comedic duo of Ish Smith and Dionte Christmas seem to play an important role in the mysterious thing called "team chemistry". They aren't the volatile and explosive ingredients in the soup but they are the vital binding agents that help keep all the parts together. If you are looking for a team with talent that lacks the vital mix, look no further than the Washington Wizards.
Just don't look too long. Your eyes won't be happy.
I'm sorry I don't have anything more profound to add to the daily cacophony that is Bright Side of the Sun. I didn't bring any rosterbation fodder or even a sliver of vitriolic rant. Thank you for sharing this season with me and for keeping this old house humming. You guys rock.
Recapping the action in the Suns race for the playoffs.
Did any of you really think this was going to be easy?
Over a month ago Dave posted an article which included a poll asking if the Suns season would already be considered a success after 55 games if they missed the playoffs. My comment at the time was basically that I would consider the season a success if the Suns controlled what they could control and still missed the playoffs because other teams were just playing too awesome.
With 10 games to go that's still where I'm at as the Suns are taking care of business while the Grizzlies and Mavericks are keeping the pressure hot and heavy. Our guys are going to have to win their way into the playoffs - there will be no backing in.
Wednesday March 26th Key Western Conference Results:
Phoenix Suns 99 Washington Wizards 93 (Recap) - There was a time in the middle of the 3rd quarter of last night's game (you know - the time where Phoenix was up 75-50) where I remember thinking - man the Suns are going to cruise to victory. Then in standard Cardiac Suns fashion they allowed the Wizards to finish the game on a 43-24 run. Fortunately the laws of mathematics suggest that if you are up 25 and the other team outscores you by 19 the rest of the game you still win by 6. Towards the end of the game there were a few John Wall drives which were so heavily uncontested at the basket that I was fairly certain there had been a foul on the perimeter and everyone just stopped playing. The last of those dropped the Suns lead to 3 with just 90 seconds remaining until Jared Dudley & A Conditional 2nd Round Pick hit a three pointer from the "W" in Wizards to seal the victory - capping a 3-0 road trip for our purple clad heroes (and Shavlik Randolph).
Memphis Grizzlies 91 Utah Jazz 87 (Recap) - At the 6:35 mark of the 3rd quarter last night the Jazz held a 16 point lead over Memphis. At the 4:00 minute mark of the 4th quarter they still held a 7 point advantage. For 44 minutes of game action in Salt Lake last night it looked like the Suns were going to see one of their playoff rivals suffer a pretty bad loss. Then Utah remembered they were the worst team in the Western Conference and Memphis remembered they were 29-11 since January 1st. Those two things combined saw the Grizz close the game on a 14-3 run and get the game they needed. Zach Randolph posted a 22 point, 13 rebound effort to lead Memphis to a victory that made me flip on The Americans to salvage what remained of the night.
Current Western Conference Standings:
|2. Oklahoma City
|3. LA Clippers
|4. Houston||48||22||.686||6.5||7-3||WON 4|
|6. Golden State
Thursday March 27th Western Conference Games of Significance:
Trail Blazers @ Hawks - Hey Atlanta, remember when we beat you on Monday? No hard feelings 'bout that, right? If y'all wouldn't mind beating the Blazers I'd consider it a personal favor. Anyway. The Hawks actually do need this game with the Knicks just two games behind them for the lamest playoff spot in sports so I guess that's something they....want? LaMarcus Aldridge claims he's playing for Portland tonight after a 7 game absence.
Clippers @ Mavericks - Dallas can't beat another Top 3 team in the West for the 2nd time in 3 days, right? I mean they probably can but it would be pretty disappointing to me. Frankly I think the best thing that happened was the Clippers losing to the Pelicans last night and Chris Paul having the worst shooting night of his career (0/12) - they probably won't be that bad again.
Let's do this! Playoff Tournament time as the NBA meets the NCAA and the fans of the game get something different, entertaining, and to be frank flat out better than what is about to happen in a few weeks...
With the way this current NBA season has been playing out the notion that the NCAA having the right post season tournament is gaining some traction. Now, keep in mind the concept of a bunch of suits picking seeds that generally make little to no sense is not what makes the tournament concept better than the current NBA playoff format.
It is the concept of seeding and putting the best teams in a position to "cut down the nets."
As the NCAA Tournament enters the Sweet 16 why not run a special edition of a Power Rankings with a twist. The twist being a Selection Show style seeding 1-16 with a look at the teams that should be in the playoffs based on their play versus the record and geography of the league.
Here are the Power Rankings as of 03/27/2014:
1. San Antonio Spurs (55-16) - The Spurs are leading the league in point differential and are the only team in the league in the Top 7 in both points per game and points against. They are as balanced as it gets and... They are the Spurs. Need I say more? The Sours are like old reliable, like Michigan State Spartans, they are coached well, play well as a team, always seem to be in the mix, but have not won it all in what seems like forever.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (52-19) - The best player in the NBA might be LeBron James, but the MVP of this season has been Kevin Durant. He has taken his game to the next level and has the Thunder humming towards another run at the NBA Finals. The Thunder are Kentucky Wildcats, always filled with elite talent, adding new exciting athletes every summer, and are always too young to win, but expected to win.
3. Miami Heat (48-22) - In the end a team has to beat the Heat in a seven game series and go through the best player in the world to do so. Right now they are struggling as a team, but have a few weeks to iron out the kinks before their season begins. The real season. There is no comparison for what the Heat do. They are the UCLA Bruins of the 1970's if anything.
4. Indiana Pacers (52-20) - One could argue that the Pacers have been the best team in the league for most of the season and they are the best defensive team overall. They will go as far as their defense will take them as the offense can sputter scoring under 95 points 25 times this year, but holding opponents under 95 points 44 times. Great defense, quality athletes at every position, just like the Arizona Wildcats. P.S. George Hill + Free-Throws = Duh
5. Houston Rockets (48-22) - Defense and stars generally win Championships. The Rockets are not a defensive dynamo, but they have one of the best offensive stars in the NBA in James Harden who, on any night, can go out there and win a game himself. Mix in a healthy cast of Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons, and co. this is a dangerous team. Every year there is a one-man-show like the Oklahoma State Cowboys or the 2011 Connecticut Huskies, which one will the Rockets be?
6. Los Angeles Clippers (50-22) - This team is unique in the fact that they won without their best player (Chris Paul), have two stars, and look like a championship contender most nights, but can also look pedestrian on others. Scoring is not an issue as they get up-and-down the court with elite athleticism, but they just seem to be missing something. I give you the Duke Blue Devils.
7. Golden State Warriors (44-27) - There may not be a more fun to team to watch in the league overall, but if ask Warriors fans they are equally as frustrating for those rooting for them. They have a star perimeter and a quality front-court, but with all that youth they are inconsistent. The Warriors are fun, exciting, but not necessarily dependable... Like the UCLA Bruins of today with all the perimeter talent, but missing that toughness factor.
8. Memphis Grizzlies (43-28) - Grit and Grind is the motto and the Grizzlies live up to that nearly every night as one of the toughest teams in the league. Since Marc Gasol came back from injury they are something like 152 and -12 finding a way to erase previous losses when he was on the mend. They play well as a unit and do very little for flash and style, all substance like the Wisconsin Badgers.
9. Portland Trail Blazers (45-27) - After starting out like a house on fire the Blazers have fizzled out to being in the mix for the 6-9 seeds after looking like competition for the best team in the west. They have the talent and the style to win games. They are driven by offense and balance, led by their budding stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard. Not unlike the Syracuse Orange, who are fueled by defense and balance, but fizzled out after a fast start.
10. Phoenix Suns (43-29) - How are they even here? No "stars," projected to tank, and are green from the leadership to the coaching to the players. Still, they have played well as a team becoming the surprise team of the season still getting hot at the right time. Look at the Tennessee Vols who played their way into the tournament and are surprising everyone so far.
11. Chicago Bulls (40-31) - After losing your star you can fold up the tent and go home, individually or collectively, or you can lean on a new star. I present to you Joakim Noah: Leading the Bulls in points, rebounds, blocks, assists. minutes played, and field goal percentage. Noah is also tied for second in the NBA in triple-doubles overall. Much like the Louisville Cardinals who lost a few players to the NBA and are seeing a new star rise in Russ Smith.
12. Dallas Mavericks (43-29) - Just throw together a bunch of talented basketball players on a team with a good coach and they will be at the very least moderately successful. The 2014 Mavericks. Same can be said for the mid-west's version of Transfer U, Iowa State.
13. Brooklyn Nets (37-33) - Imitation is said to be the most sincere form of flattery. The Nets are trying to replicate the magic of the 2008 Celtics, and the current Heat teams by securing a large payroll, star names, and banking on that leading to a championship. It has been up-and-down, with right now being very much up. Look at the Baylor Bears who tried to recruit with Kentucky and even nabbed a few big time prospects, but until now it was not paying off. Now it is.
14. Toronto Raptors (40-31) - Whenever someone calls something "vanilla" it is taken as an insult because most of the time it is. Here it is not. The Raptors are vanilla. They play well overall, good defense, good offense, and are balanced across the court. They also lack any real punch to put them over the hump beyond being very vanilla. That seems to be the sentiment on the No. 1 Seeded Virginia Cavaliers this year. Very Vanilla.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves (35-35) - On any given night Kevin Love can be a Top 5 player and the T-Wolves can drop 120 on an opponent. On any given night the T-Wolves can surrender 120 points and Kevin Love can look like a individual out there trying to get his stats... Either on the field or the court that smells like the Oregon Ducks to me.
16. Washington Wizards (36-35) - On paper it makes sense for the Wizards to be good. Dynamic point guard, cast of good role players, and a few big men worth their own salt in the paint. Then as the season moves along they prove to be a one-man (two-man at best) show that is not good when the rest of the cast does not show up. I give you the Arizona State Sun Devils.
*17. Play-In: Charlotte Bobcats (35-37) - Somebody has to make it in either at or below .500 on the season, right? Let's just go with that.
*18. Play-In: New Orleans Pelicans (31-40) - This season the Pelicans are in a weird spot without the talent to make a serious run in the playoffs and not owning their own pick to fall in the lottery for a high pick. They have a star in the making in Anthony Davis and could be a very dangerous team in the West... in the future. Like the Clemson Tigers this year, they are arriving, but have not yet arrived.
Last Four In: Washington Wizards, Minnesota Timberwolves, Charlotte Bobcats, and New Orleans Pelicans
Now that the seeding is complete and the teams are in, out, last four out, next four out, next next four out, and our "Bracketologists" have used up half the caffeine in the western hemisphere to put together this listing it is time for the regions to be released. Who are the one seeds? That is a stupid question. They are the top four teams in the rankings. In order. Like, for example, there is no way the fifth best team in the league would be a four seed, which is the equivalent to being the 13th, 14th, 15th, or 16th best team in the league.
None of that here. Just good honest seeding based on standings and the rankings here. Simple and sweet.
1. San Antonio Spurs
2. Memphis Grizzlies
3. Portland Trail Blazers
4. Play-In Game (Charlotte Bobcats @ Minnesota Timberwolves)
1. Oklahoma City Thunder
2. Golden State Warriors
3. Phoenix Suns
4. Brooklyn Nets
1. Indiana Pacers
2. Houston Rockets
3. Dallas Mavericks
4. Play-In Game (New Orleans Pelicans @ Washington Wizards)
1. Miami Heat
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Chicago Bulls
4. Toronto Raptors
Fill out your bracket for the illusion of a prize... Warren Buffet might put $5 on it...