March 10, 2003

Pacers have blown a huge lead in the east.: And we haven't talked NBA in a while. Playoffs aren't too far off. The Lakers seem to have squirmed their way in. Who're the favs in the East and West? Can anybody in the East beast the West in Seven? What's your take?

posted by Ufez Jones to basketball at 02:27 AM - 8 comments

And yeah, the link is a bit of a wink and a nudge for jacknose, but there's a lot to discuss.... There are at least five teams that could take the west: Portland, Dallas, Sacramento, Lakers, and San Antonio. Plus, the T-wolves and the Suns could be spoilers. Are the playoffs going to be great or what. But on the same note: What's going on in the East? It's not just the Pacers; the Nets have been very weak lately, Philly is very streaky, the Pistons don't have the offense to carry anything for very long, and the Celts are a joke. Can anyone represent, or will the championship be over with the Western Conference Finals?

posted by Ufez Jones at 02:37 AM on March 10, 2003

PACERS: Ufez, you're killing me. I've been trying my best to ignore Pacers' slump, and what do I see first thing Monday morning on SpoFi? ...reality. No doubt, the Pacers have had a tough stretch. I'll admit that they've coasted a bit on an easy schedule. The fact is, they have trouble with better teams, especially away from home, and, for the most part, their present losing streak has been the result of playing better teams away from home. But several of the players have also had some off-court issues (relatives that died and/or are severely ill). It kills me because the Pacers are just a few games from dropping down to sixth place. SIXTH PLACE! During the off-season, the Pacers talked about moving past their struggle to break .500 and barely making the playoffs. I thought this would be the year. And now, after having won 38 games, their sinking and sucking. EAST: I think the Sixers and Nets are the biggest threats at the moment but don't count my Pacers out yet. They need to find their rhythm before the playoffs. If they do, watch out. They have solid, deep team. They're just young and are playing young, but that's no longer an adequate excuse. I'd also like to see the Wizards nab the 8th spot. That's a good reason for the Pacers not to win the Eastern Conference. MJ (w/ Stackhouse, etc.) in his final playoffs could still be dangerous. I remember Bird and Magic during their final years. They were still dangerous during the playoffs. WEST: Lakers are no doubt the team to beat. Shaq is finally back in shape. Kobe is playing like a Jedi master (Kobe Wan). Mavericks have a few more heartbreaks to go; it may be the Kings' year. If it is, the battle should be bloody.

posted by jacknose at 08:02 AM on March 10, 2003

The only hope for the east is that the west gets bloody and brutal and somebody comes out of the east unscarred. Also, the team that comes out of the west can't be the Lakers, because nobody from the east can even pretend to match up with the Lakers whereas maybe they can with Dallas or Sacramento. I don't know much about the Pacers, so I don't know how integral to their success Ron Artest is. But do you fellas have any opinion on whether or not his tantrums and distractions might be having an impact?

posted by vito90 at 08:38 AM on March 10, 2003

Re: Artest. Yes and no (which is a good answer for everything). Much of what you hear about Artest is hype. He loses control, but he is not wild and dangerous. He rarely throws punches. Of course, I could also be delusional. I suppose his tantrums have had an impact, especially when he has to sit out during games.

posted by jacknose at 09:59 AM on March 10, 2003

It is unbelievable how ground a team like the Sixers have made on the top three seeds. If they could have won yesterday, the Pacers would be in trouble. Big game between them real soon. I like Artest. His blowups are really dumb. I do think they have an affect on the team. Look at Portland this season. Rasheed Wallace has gotten his temper under control somewhat and look what they have done so far. Once the Artest blowups started to be a regular thing, the Pacers started to nose dive.

posted by carbs at 10:47 AM on March 10, 2003

He rarely throws punches. Well, that's good! He does seem to be having an impact, but I don't think it's the mitigating factor in the slump. Just a bit of a side-order, or maybe even a result of. The Lakers may still be the team to beat in the West, but they're not near as imposing as they've been for the last few years. And Kobe's selfishness could lead to more bickering and a collapse. If the playoffs started today, they'd be up against the Spurs with San Ant having home-court advantage. The Spurs match up well with the Lakers, so even a first-round good-bye isn't completely unreasonable. The Spurs and the Kings are probably the only two teams with a decent chance of beating the Lakers. If they stay healthy though, I don't know if anyone can beat Sacramento four out of seven. They're just strong all-around.

posted by Ufez Jones at 01:05 PM on March 10, 2003

Don't you love my low standards? Basically, if you don't throw punches, I consider you "good people." Head-butting is fine. I did overlook the Spurs; they are an easy team to forget, especially if you follow the Eastern Conference, but once you remember them, you realize that they have a pretty formidable package. Duncan makes the difference. Still, I think the Lakers have one more good playoff run in them. No one can match Shaq and Kobe. No one. Remember the Bulls primarily won with MJ and Pippen. The Lakers' supporting players are probably equal to the Bulls'. Regarding the Kings, I've not seen any signs from Webber that he has what it takes when the game is on the line. He's great during the year and even during the playoffs. But when the pressure is on, he has a tendency to shrink. Remember last year; if it wasn't for Bibby, the last game wouldn't have been close. Bibby was the only player on the Kings willing to play.

posted by jacknose at 01:24 PM on March 10, 2003

I don't think the Lakers have a supporting cast equal to the Bulls; Kukoc isn't a star but he's not chopped liver either, and Dennis Rodman was an undeniable talent. Mad, bad, dangerous to know -- but a talent. Then again, I'd rather have Kobe on my team than Pippen.

posted by Bryant at 04:53 PM on March 10, 2003

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