I have to say, I've always been a little embarrassed by the cheerleaders in the NBA. I mean, it's okay to look at them on the computer, but at a game in person, it's a little awkward. I look, and feel bad.
Last season I started the NBA thread, Kirk, and it wasn't so popular. So it may just be the two Kirks in this.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Lakers beating down the Suns in Phoenix last night. I don't know how the drama with Kobe is going to end, but I'm still not that down on the team. I felt last season injuries really hammered the team, or else this could have been a team closing in on 50 wins. As for the Suns, I thought they were a juggernaut last season, but I really wonder how long their window remains. They have the impending Marion free agency issue, Nash will eventually start declining, and the Suns organization have been pretty bad at developing a young squad to supplement to the shallow but excellent 6 or 7 man main rotation.
I think the Suns made a major mistake by trading away Kurt Thomas, and I think they're overplaying Grant Hill. They'll still be an excellent team but I don't see them as nearly as much of a serious contender.
Most surprising story so far is probably the Bulls' slow start.
Now that the Boston Celtics have put together a great team, I can now see their games on network TV, again. I have been a Celtics fan for almost 50 years, and I am very excited about the team's chances of being a title contender again, with addition of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
So, seeing as this thread hasn't been touched for 2 months, I guess everyone is conceding the title to the amazing Boston Celtics. Or else, nobody gives a shit.
Now granted, the NBA is hardly as enthralling as the steroid issue in baseball, or the New England Patriots, or the crazy year in college football, but come on, people! There are some great stories/questions emerging this year.
1. Can/Will the Spurs repeat, thereby establishing themselves as a team for the ages? Or will the referees start calling games the way they should be called?
2. Are the Celtics 22-3 good? Or will their first prolonged West Coast road trip expose them for the frauds they truly are?
3. How do the Portland Trailblazers win 11 in a row? Without anyone you've ever heard of.
4. Will the Lakers trade Andrew Bynum to the Nets for Jason...uh, next question.
5. What happened to the Bulls? Scott Skiles?
Come on, people, this used to be an interesting, vibrant topic on the HTF. What happened???
After watching the Pistons beat the Celtics in a close, entertaining game last week, I'd say that Boston is a very good team and contender in the East, but they are by no means a lock to win the conference. Chauncey Billups abused their point guard Rajon Rondo in the 2nd half, and Paul Pierce seemed to be lost at times trying to fit in with Allen and Garnett.
Detroit will give Boston all it can handle come playoff time, since they match up very well against the Celtics. The Pistons starting five is as good as ever, and the bench really does appear to be improved this year. Jason Maxiell made major improvements in his offensive game this offseason, Jarvis Hayes looks like a decent role player addition, rookie Arron Afflalo (UCLA) has been a pleasant surprise, and they just got top draft pick Rodney Stuckey back from a preseason broken hand. Stuckey looked very good in the preseason, and the Pistons are counting on him to play significant minutes at both guard positions.
This thread IMHO is a reflection of how the NBA is viewed now which isn't to say much.
I still watch from time to time. I was a little shocked to see Portland win 11 in a row and without Greg Oden. They could be rather good when he comes back.
WHat games I have seen have all seemed to be Celtic games(luck of the draw). I'm not sure Rondo is a good enough point guard to lead them to a championship. I suspect they'll need to go get one at trade time. They have a limited window here to win given the ages and contracts of their primary players. Usually when teams do this, they don't work out too well like the Malone Laker experiment.
That Detroit-Boston game was a great one! They both look like mortal locks to get to the conference finals. The West is more open, with the Spurs, Mavs, and Suns leading the way. Do not discount the Lakers' chances, though. Bynum is a beast, and the young guys are all contributing. Kobe even resembles a leader these days, though a part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I don't start following the NBA or NHL closely until after football season ends, and even then I don't follow them as closely as the NFL or MLB. Plus I think the Tim Donaghy scandal may have driven more people away.
The only thing that could hold the Pistons back is Flip Saunders, who will always find a way to choke in the playoffs.
The 76ers are not as bad as I thought they would be, but they still won't make the playoffs in a weaker East.
My favorite sport to watch is basketball and I used to watch a lot of NBA games. I am a huge Boston Celtics fan and started losing interest when Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, Dennis Johnson group retired in the early 90s. I then rooted for the Bulls when Michael Jordan and company were winning championships.
Now that the Celtics have put together a great team, I have started cheering for them again, but I still don't watch as much NBA as I used to. I haven't even watched a complete game yet. I don't think the NBA will be able to recapture their "glory days" when Magic, Bird, and Jordan were playing.
I think the NBA made a long-term mistake in pushing individual talent so much over teams. You tune into a game now and there's no sense of the league's history or the classic rivalries between teams - it's just LEBRON VS. KOBE!!! They're trying to reproduce the Bird vs. Magic effect but that was like lightning in a bottle and I don't think it'll ever come back.
It has been an interesting season, though, and I do wish the Celtics get hit with a losing streak soon because I'm already sick of their fans getting the champagne ready. Now I remember why I didn't feel sorry for them after they fell into the toilet all those years...but maybe if they won it would be a good thing for basketball. Give the league a clear villain to knock out next season
While I'm not a big fan of Saunders, either, I do not think the Pistons lose anything in this matchup with Boston, either. Doc Rivers will never make the Celtics fans forget about Red Auerbach or Tommy Heinson.
Scoring has gone up compared to the late 90s and early 2000s, thanks in part to the Suns' success.
I don't know if the Celtics are 22-3 good, but I see them as plenty good enough to win the title. Things have to fall in place, sure, but there's still most of the season to work it out. Players such as Rondo and Perkins might not start on many teams, but as long as they don't flat out suck, that could be good enough. People forget that Derek Fisher was only a decent player (and probably subpar playmaker) when the Lakers had their run; the less said about the likes of Samalki Walker and Medvidenko the better.
Portland's got a group of young, core guys that make them pretty exciting. They're in the 8th spot in the West right now, but I still fully expect them to miss the playoffs. That would mean they'll have another lottery pick, and next season they'll be loaded in new talent, assuming Greg Oden recovers.
The Lakers are starting out the season remarkly similar to last year. In that season, things fell apart. I look forward with cautious optimism.
The Celtics aren't 22-3 good. They're 26-3 good. Man, these guys play defense like it's the seventh game of the Finals. Every night. Road trip or no. Very impressive, indeed.
The Western Conference is clearly better overall, but right now, my money's on whoever emerges from the Eastern Conference finals to win it all. Detroit and Boston are playing at an extremely high level right now.
Congrats to Celtics fans. I hate saying this about the Celtics, seeing as its kind of programmed in my DNA as a lifelong SoCal resident and Laker fan. In my youth, I cried in '84, felt like the Messiah had arrived in '85, and always wished them and their fans serious bodily harm. And lord knows how I've loathed New England sports fans in general ever since the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2002, the Red Sox in 2004, etc. They make the arrogance of Yankee fans look like Mother Teresa working the slums of Calcutta.
Having said that, you gotta love KG, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, and the long-suffering Doc Rivers. I wish them well. They are amazing, and if the Lakers don't win it all, I hope the Celtics do.
Jason Kidd has asked to be traded. The big deal brewing yesterday could have sent him to Dallas, Devin Harris to Portland, Travis outlaw, Jarrett Jack and Channing Frye to New Jersey.
In the big picture, 10 teams are going for the 8 spots in the West, and pretty much every team could make the playoffs in the East, except for the ol' Miami Heat. We had a big debate last year whether they could make the playoffs, but this year they have completely fallen off the cliff as one of the worst teams in the league.
I don't necessarily think Kidd is bad, but I do question whether a team that gets him will be significantly improved. Maybe it's because every time I watch him play these days, he seems to be shooting badly and turning the ball over a lot. And he's old, too.
I'm surprised the Celtics are not making a move for one of the available point guards -- Kidd or Stoudamire. That is their weakest position. If they got Stoudamire, I think they'd be a lock to win the East.
Just read that the Grizzlies pretty much gave Pau Gasol to the Lakers in exchange for Kwame Brown and a couple of draft picks. A lot of the talk about the Lakers' season so far struck me as really overblown - good team, sure, but nowhere even close to serious contention - but this deal ought to make them pretty scary.