Monday, April 7, 2008

It's All Happening; NBA, NCAA, NBL

When it rains it pours. The NBA regular season is about to end but there is a mad scramble in the Western Conference for playoff positions, the NCAA final is tomorrow and the NBL off season is beginning to heat up.

Lets start with the NBA and the Western Conference. It is by far the stronger conference of the two and the race for playoff positions show that. Teams either have 5 or 6 regular season games left, so lets imagine if the playoffs started today, there would be some mouthwatering 1st round match ups. Ladder here.

The #1 seed, New Orleans Hornets would get the unpredictable 8th seeded Denver Nuggets (who are only half a game ahead of Golden St). Although the Hornets have put together a remarkable year, I'm feeling the Nuggets would like this match up.

The Hornets are young and inexperienced in the playoff arena, while the Nuggets have been there, done that to some degree.

MVP candidate Chris Paul would have his hands full with Allan Iverson and it will be interesting to see how Paul goes over the course of a seven game series. Remember, scouting becomes tougher and you are not catching teams on the back end of back to backs. A series is a whole new ball game.

The Hornets other All Star David West would have his hands full with the Nuggets front line. Kenyon Martin and Eduardo Najera will make West work for everything he gets. An X factor could be how well Nene comes back from injury.

This will be a high scoring series, but I feel Iverson and Carmelo Anthony are too much to handle in this type of scenario.

Great season Hornets. But if you match up with the elusive Nuggets, they have to much firepower for your squad.

A juicy first round match up of the defending champs, San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks is on the cards. Who would have thought this would happen in the 1st round at the start of the season. (Spurs are in a battle with the Lakers for the 2nd seed, but it seems the Mavs will remain the 7th seed.)

We would find out in the first round if the Jason Kidd trade was worth it. The Mavs have a potent trio in Kidd, Dirk Nowitski and Josh Howard, but their X factor could be Erick Dampier. Since the arrival of Kidd he has become much more active around the basket and making it harder to double Dirk.

As for the Spurs, it is the same old same old. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in the open court, otherwise spread it out, get it to Tim Duncan down low and spread out and spot up.

Although I find the Spurs boring to watch, I'm not prepared to go against their successful philosophy.

A dream NBA match up is brewing here. The Los Angles Lakers vs the Phoenix Suns. Kobe vs Shaq. We all want to see it happen. (This series would be great, but the race is so tight in the west, we will not know until later in the week if this becomes reality, but lets dream for now.)

The factor that could dictate this series is Kobe's approach to playing against Shaq for something that is meaningful. If he comes with the right attitude he might just average a triple double, while he makes Lamar Odem and Pau Gasol look like 10 year All Stars. Don't get me wrong, both those guys are good, but they are better with Kobe by their side.

On the otherside of the fence, we have Shaq. Gone are the days where Shaq can dominate both sides of the ball for the whole game. But this series may just bring his best Bill Russell impersonation. Blocking shots and defensive rebounding is where he will help the Suns most in this series.

This will/would be a cracking series and I haven't even mentioned Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and Andrew Bynum who is due back from injury.

Too close to call for me. These are two teams I love watching play.

Utah and Houston round out the 1st round match ups.

Although Houston went on a 22 game tear earlier in the season, they still do not have me believing without Yao Ming. Sure Tracey MacGrady can win games by himself, but who else can they rely on to help win a series?

The Jazz on the otherhand have Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer who carry the load on most nights but their supporting cast has a little starch. Their two Europeans in Mehmett Okur and Andrei Kirilenko can be game winners on their night, while the mid season acquisition of Kyle Korver has given them some lethal perimeter shooting.

I can see the Jazz sweeping this series.

Tomorrow you can put the feet up and watch the NCAA championship game between the Memphis Tigers and Kansas Jayhawks.

This game wreeks of NBA talent and should be a ripper game.

Talking of NBA talent you have to start with the Tigers backcourt of Derrick Rose and CDR (Chris Robert-Douglas). These two 1st rounders have driven the Tigers this far, can they continue?

I'm not sure, but it seems as though Rose is trying to do his best Carmelo Anthony impersonation. Staying one year in school, but taking them to a National Championship. We have less than 24 hours to see if this is true.

Along with these two talents, Joey Dorsey showed scouts that it is just not the little guys getting it done. His job on UCLA centre Kevin Love will do his NBA stock no harm. He will need a repeat effort on the glass (15rebs vs UCLA) against the Jayhawks.

As for Kansas, Brandon Rush continues to show why he could become a lethal NBA player. He has all the tools to be a great wing player at the next level. I look for him to match up on Rose at some stage. He has become a lockdown defender and often takes the oppositions best perimeter player.

Mario Chambers will keep Rose honest at the point position. Chambers himself can break out for 30 so he can become a gamebreaker.

Their front court of Darnell Jackson, Darrell Arthur and Sasha Kaun have the speed and athleticism to match the Tigers.

It will be interesting to see how Kansas starts this game as it was an very emotion game for them against North Carolina and all this week the media has been asking questions about their coach. Bill Self has been the center of rumours about the vacant Oklahoma St job.

If the Jayhawks can match the Tigers enthusiasm early, I believe they have the deeper team to win their first title since 1988.

In NBL news, the Gold Coast are looking at their options. The interesting story for me out of all of this is the potential of former Olympians Shane Heal and Sam MacKinnon becoming teammates. Just cast your mind back to two season ago. Both were involved in a little slap and tickle at midcourt during a Dragons/Bullets game. This would make for some interesting practices, plus off the court both have their hands in different food outlets. Could this lead to food fights courtside but see Pero Cameron break into a sprint for the first time in his life trying to play by the five second rule. (If food is on the floor for less than 5secs, you can still eat it!)

Although the Kings are trying to keep Mark Worthington from going to the Dragons, look for another team to have their eye on him. My money is on the Dragons though. Also look for a high profile player (not named Worthington) and coach (not named Goorjian) to move west.

Following the South Aussie couple "coming out" on 60 Minutes last night, I'm looking for Scott Ninnis to call a press conference this week to discuss his recruiting strategy.

I can see it going something like this. "I'm here today to let everyone know that I'm trying my best to get the best local talent back in the family colours that you know as the 6ers. I have placed many calls to my brother, Brad Newley, who is currently playing in Greece. I hope he returns them some time soon. As for my son Joe Ingles, he is contracted to the Dragons. Goorijan is a very good recruiter, but I hope family wins out in this battle."

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