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10 Things I Loved About the 2011 NBA Playoffs June 14, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA, Sport.
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12 comments

Ahh…it’s finally all over. The Dallas Mavericks just defeated the Miami Heat in 6 games to capture the 2011 NBA Championship in what has been the most enjoyable NBA Playoffs in recent memory. Dirk Nowitzki was named Finals MVP, elevating the big silky German to all-time great status and denying Miami’s much-maligned ‘Big Three’ of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh a chance at a title in their first year together. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Here are the 10 things that I thought made these Playoffs one of the best ever.

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New Miami Heat Roster Shaping Up July 19, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, NBA.
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We all know the Miami Heat now has the formidable trio of Dwyane Wade, Lebron James and Chris Bosh, but without much else, few experts predicted them to be genuine title contenders.  Now, as expected, the rest of the roster has just about filled up with plenty of solid players taking a pay cut for the chance at a championship.

Let’s take a look at how the brand new Heat roster stacks up.

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Defending Lebron’s decision and pondering how good the Heat will be July 11, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, NBA.
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I still don’t condone what Lebron James did when he announced he will be taking his talent to South Beach, but now that the dust has settled a little, I am beginning to get a different perspective.

Yes, I am going to defend Lebron’s decision.  Not the way he declared it to the world, but ultimately, leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers is a good decision.

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Thoughts on Lebron going to the Miami Heat July 9, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, Indiana Pacers.
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3 comments

[This Lebron thing is too big to ignore.  Below is an amended article taken from my basketball blog, Pacers Pulse]

Lebron James is going to the Indiana Pacers…

…and then I woke up!

The new Big Three

It’s a done deal.  Lebron James is joining the Miami Heat in the hope that he can win multiple championships with Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh (plus whoever else the team can get for low dollars).

Even though Miami was speculated to be the popular choice, I just couldn’t quite believe it when I followed the event live.  I understand some people saying that Lebron has sold out.  He has betrayed his home team in Cleveland, who have done everything they could to help him win over the last few years.  He has given up the challenge of winning by himself in the place that drafted him.  He has forgone the opportunity to play under the bright lights of New York City.  He didn’t want to follow the footsteps of Michael Jordan and play in Chicago.

Instead, Lebron went with the easiest way out — joining fellow All-Stars D-Wade and Chris Bosh to form the new Big Three.

I must say while I am intrigued by the prospect of such a terrific trio playing on the same court for an entire season (and possibly for many years), I have lost a little bit of respect for Lebron.  I wanted him to be loyal and stay true to his fans in Cleveland, who are absolutely heart broken.  I wonder if they will boo him (along with the fans in New York and Chicago?) when he returns to play next season.  I’d be surprised if they didn’t.

However, I don’t fault Lebron for his decision.  Not totally.  At the end of the day, all he cares about is winning.  He is taking less than max money to play for a championship.  When it’s all said and done, people are going to look at the number of championship rings he has on his fingers and make an assessment as to where he belongs in the GOAT discussion.  If he only has one or two (or none), that’s not going to be enough to get him there.  In Miami, he has the chance to win five or six, or perhaps even more?

On the other hand, if I were the Lakers, the Magic or the Celtics, I wouldn’t exactly be quivering in my boots just yet.  Yes, this new Big Three is pretty impressive, but we’ll have to wait and see what other pieces they can scrap together.  With these three guys taking up the majority of the cap space, who else are they going to get?  Basketball is, after all, a team sport.

That said, I don’t see it being a huge problem for the Heat.  For starters, Boston proved a Big Three could be enough.  In any case, I bet there will be plenty of solid veterans and role players willing to play for the Heat at minimum money.

Provided there are no serious injuries, the Miami Heat are going to be lethal next season.  This is not a case of simply having a few good players playing on the same team.  Lebron James is the reigning MVP and the best player in the NBA.  If you want to say he’s not, then one of the two guys that could challenge him would be Dwyane Wade (the other being Kobe Bryant).  So that’s two of the top three players in the entire league playing for the same team.  We haven’t had that since Shaq and Kobe played together in the early 00’s.

On top of that, there’s Chris Bosh.  Some would say Bosh is not a superstar, but he’s definitely one of the top five power forwards in the NBA at the moment, formerly the best player on a team skirting the playoff fringe.  He has his weaknesses but don’t pretend for a minute you wouldn’t love to have him on your team.

This is way bigger than the Boston Big Three.  Paul Pierce was probably a top 10 player in the league.  Ray Allen was probably a top five shooting guard.  Kevin Garnett is and was the NBA’s biggest douche, but in terms of basketball ability he was on his way down (though probably still a top five power forward).  The Miami Big Three has two of the three best players of any position in the league plus a top five PF.  Think about that.

But all it takes is a couple of injuries to derail the team.  High risk, high reward.  Potentially.

I asked a couple of basketball fan friends what they thought of the move.  One said, “Total sell out by LBJ!”  The other said, “I feel somewhat betrayed by LBJ.  [Miami] have to be special for LBJ to be forgiven by Cleveland.  Like MJ 72-10 special!”

That pretty much reflects the general sentiment of everyone not in Miami at the moment.  They can see how much Lebron wants to win, but did he have to gut his old team on national television?

Some say Lebron is like any other person faced with an opportunity to give himself and his family a better life.  If you had a better job on the table, wouldn’t you jump ship either?  In this day and age, job loyalty is a rarity.  How many people stay with the same company for their entire career these days?

I beg to differ.  This was no ordinary decision.  They cared.  People cried over it.  This impacted the lives of thousands and the economy of an entire state.  Lebron had a duty to these people.  Why not treat everyone with a little more respect and dignity?

Speaking of dignity, how about Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert’s response?  Talk about having no class…

NBA All-Star Reserves Announced! January 30, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA.
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2 comments

allstar2

The reserves for the 2009 NBA All-Star Game (as picked by league coaches) have finally been announced.

Eastern Conference:

F Paul Pierce, BOS
C Chris Bosh, TOR
G Joe Johnson, ATL
F Danny Granger, IND
G Devin Harris, NJ
F Rashard Lewis, ORL
G Jameer Nelson, ORL

Western Conferience:

F Dirk Nowitzki, DAL
F Pau Gasol, LAL
G Chauncey Billups, DEN
G Tony Parker, SA
G Brandon Roy, POR
C Shaquille O’Neal, PHO
F David West, NO

Just to recap, the starters of each conference are:

East: Dwayne Wade, Allen Iverson, Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard

West: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming

Comparing my picks

Well, I’m glad Danny Granger made it, but let’s see how the other selections stacked up against my personal picks

The one selection that shocked a lot of people was David West

The one selection that shocked a lot of people was David West

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In the East, I had omitted Allen Iverson completely (due to his drop off in numbers and Detroit’s performance with him on the team) – but he was selected by the fans.  The other difference was that I didn’t have Jameer Nelson on the squad.  I mean, Orlando’s doing well and all, but to give the Magic 3 All-Stars was a bit too much.  Even though I didn’t select him, I thought Mo Williams (17ppg, 4.1apg) of Cleveland had just as much merit as Nelson (17ppg, 5.4apg), and probably would have picked him ahead of Nelson because Lebron’s the sole representative of the Cavs whereas Orlando already had 2 players on the squad. 

The picks I had that didn’t make it were Vince Carter and Michael Redd, but that was before Redd got injured for the rest of the season.  In hindsight I would have picked Mo Williams or Ray Allen instead (but definitely not Rajon Rondo).

Out West, David West was the only difference compared to my picks.  This was a bit of an odd one because while you can’t say he’s not deserving, there are plenty of other players that at least on paper look like they deserve it more.  Like the guy I picked instead of him, Al Jefferson.  If Danny Granger can make it for Indiana, Al Jefferson should make it for Minnesota.  Although I didn’t pick him, another guy that probably deserved it was Kevin Durant – he really is a scoring machine.  If the Thunder can just get a little bit better then he should be a lock for next season.

My All-Star Game Prediction

I had picked the East to beat the West in a tight one with Dwayne Wade named MVP.  Since the actual teams selected aren’t all that different, I’ll have to stick to my original prediction.  The Eastern Conference to beat the Western Conference by less than 7 points with Dwayne Wade taking out MVP honours (though I would not be surprised to see Dwight Howard win it).  If the West won, the MVP will have to be Chris Paul.  Lock it in.

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