Posts Tagged ‘Paul Pierce’

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After the blockbuster trade that sent future hall of famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets, the general reaction was very mixed. Some felt that this deal was a steal for the Nets, making them instant championship contenders. Others felt that this was an absolute disaster for the Nets, due to the fact that they gave up three first round picks. However, feelings toward the Celtics were pretty much unanimous. It was clear that the Celtics were going to enter rebuilding mode and analysts felt they were off to a good start with this move. While it is incredibly early in the year, the doubters of the trade have had their assumptions proven correct. Lets break down the Brooklyn Nets early troubles and look ahead to the future.

Old and Slow

A common criticism of the new Nets was that they would be old and slow. This has proven to be quite true. The Nets are being forced to play half court offense and have been awful on the fast break. Younger teams have had their way with the Nets. Take a game where they played the Orlando Magic. The leading candidate in the Andrew Wiggins lottery obliterated the Nets 107-86. In this game, Victor Oladipo, Aaron Afflalo, and Nikola Vucevic all torched their counter parts on both ends of the floor. Oladipo in particular used his speed and athleticism to beat Joe Johnson, Shaun Livingston, and Paul Pierce on multiple occasions. While Oladipo shows promise, he’s still a rookie. What’s going to happen when the Nets play more seasoned veterans like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and cross-town rival Carmelo Anthony? All of these stars feast on fast break opportunities and it seems like they will have a full plate against the Nets.

A Kidd Coaching

Bringing in a head coach fresh off of playing his last year in the NBA as a player is a massive gamble with a high ceiling. Crossing sports, take a look at Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals. He had been the team’s catcher for many years and when he wanted to become a coach St. Louis brought him. In three years as a manager, Matheny has led the Cards to Two World Series Appearances. Jason Kidd has not shown the same promise. Kidd has looked lost late in games, struggled with defensive assignment, and has been abysmal when it comes to time management. Kidd has had an interesting approach when it comes to managing player’s minutes. The Nets have 8 players averaging 20 minutes a night. This is an experiment that could prove a huge payoff come late in the season, or crash and burn massively.

Not Enough Versatility

If you look at Brooklyn’s starting five, they have five players who fit their positions. The problem is, at this point, they are all shells of their former selves. Garnett is completely broken down and may not make it through his contract. Pierce and Johnson are shooters who can play a little bit of on ball defense. Lopez is a scorer but isn’t strong enough to play on defense. Then there is Deron Williams. While he showed flashes of being the All Star PG that the Nets acquired, there has been something off this year. It may be the injured foot or it may just be the possibility that he’s past his prime. The issues get worse when the 2nd unit is just a lesser version of the starting five. Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson, Jason Terry, and Mason Plumlee are just carbon copies of their starting counterparts. The one thing the Nets need more than anything is a bruising center like Brenden Haywood to make up for the weakness of Brook Lopez.

It needs to be noted that Brooklyn has only played six games this season. Growing pains are expected for a unit as new as this, but that is no excuse. This team looks slow, weak, and old. They wont be able to keep up with teams like the Pacers Heat, and Bulls with this current play.

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Here we go folks, the NBA season is less than a week away from Tip-Off, and that makes us VERY happy. There are so many questions to answer, but let’s just stick to the ones that are on the forefront of my mind right now.

The Questions:

1) Will Kobe Bryant come back from his torn Achilles tendon as the Mamba/Vino, or will he be just a shell of his former self? Will Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo?

2) Will the Miami Heat fail or succeed in their bid to secure a three peat, and make it to the NBA finals four years in a row? If they don’t, where do they fall, and whom do they fall too?

3) Which team, if any, in the NBA can unseat the Heat? Is that even possible after the past three years (2 championships, 3 straight trips to the finals, arguably the best 1-2 [and 3] combo in the league, the best player in the league, and a 27 game winning streak)?

4) Will the Clippers finally distinguish themselves where it matters most, in the playoffs?

5) Are both of NY’s team’s contenders, or pretenders? Which one of them has a more legitimate chance of competing for a title?

6) How serious are the Rockets?

The Answers:

1) Kobe is Kobe. There are few who can match his competitive drive, and after a whole summer’s worth of hearing people debate about how he’ll come back, he’ll do whatever it takes to come back as his old self. Derrick Rose is back, 21.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 7.9 assists through the preseason should alleviate any and all worries Bulls fans might still have. Same goes for Kevin Love who is putting up his monster double doubles, on a daily basis. Though Rondo isn’t due back for some time, there is no reason to think he still won’t be a top point guard, the only difference; he won’t have Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to pass to.

2) At first guess, the answer is, yes The Heat will succeed and LeBron will win a third title. However, personally I don’t think they will. The eastern conference has become much more competitive, with the Pacers, the Bulls, the Nets and the Knicks adding pieces to already solid rosters. Of those 4 the Pacers are the team most likely to supplant the Heat. Consider last season’s E.C.F finals where they took them all the way to game 7, and were a potentially bad substitution away from winning. They retained their core, Danny Granger is back, and Lance Stephenson has something to prove, after an encouraging season. Next they added Luis Scola, Chris Copeland and CJ Watson to shore up their bench offense. While they might not match up with the Heat in terms of pure Star power (though Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Paul George aren’t a bad star lineup), they DO match up (and win) in depth and bench production.

3) Expanding upon question #2, the Indian Pacers are the team MOST likely to unseat the Heat. The other serious contenders on this short list include the Chicago Bulls, the Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs. I can’t put the Thunder in here because this is the first season they’re playing without an established 3rd man, if someone can step up and fill that role, they’ll be back in contention.

4) I put the Clippers on question 3 for a bunch of reasons. An elite, no nonsense coach that knows what it takes to win a title is the first step toward legitimacy. The next reason is their depth. They have what it takes, from the role players (Louis Admundson, Willie Green) to the stars ( Paul, Griffin) they are a legitimate 10 deep team, with players who can (and will) take over close games. Look for the Clippers to aim for a 60 win season, a top 3 seed in the Western Conference and a berth in the W.C.F.

5) Pretenders, the Knicks more so than the Nets. The Knicks have not really upgraded over the summer, adding a shooter who can’t shoot, and a great defender who is a couple years past his prime. They’ll win and they’ll be fun to watch, but inevitably they will flame out in the 2nd round (and even the first depending on whom they match up with). The Nets are a bit different, they’ve clearly upgraded, adding Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko, to their core of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. However, they are untested as a group, their coach is brand new and they will have to compete with the Miami Heat, the Bulls (who have regained their MVP) and of course their house mates in the city, the Knicks.

6) The rockets are a wildcard in the west, talented enough to go toe to toe with any team, in any conference, but unproven. They have no Chemistry yet, and until they develop it, they won’t be able to jump over the list of Western Conference contenders that include the Clippers, the Spurs and the Thunder.