Saboteur!

June 19, 2012

Thunder coach Scott Brooks has been so woefully incompetent in these playoffs that it almost appears as if he is taking a dive.  His insistence on playing Kendrick Perkins big minutes and having Derick Fisher matched up against Dwyane Wade is almost as dumb as sniping in Carrington.

The Heat are an amazing basketball team and might have beaten the Thunder the last two games given competent coaching from Brooks, but unfortunately we will never know.  A good basketball coach should be able to use strategy and motivation to make his team better.  A decent coach should just let his players do their own thing and hope talent wins out.  Then we have Brooks who has taken off his pants and taken a steaming dump on the Thunder’s championship hopes.  To prove my point I am going to break down a few of Brooks’ decisions on the incompetence scale.  The incompetence scale ranges from 1-10 with 1 being the boom goes the dynamite guy and 10 being the Zimmerman Note. (Boom.  WWI joke.  I knew I would get some value from that history major.)

This list could be a mile long but for the sake of time, and to keep me from getting too angry, I’m going to keep it at three.

1. Refusing to go small with Serge Ibaka at center. (Incompetency rating: 5.5)

The Miami Heat are an incredibly versatile team, mainly thanks to Lebron, and force opposing teams into awkward match-ups.  By playing James at power forward the Heat have taken one of the Thunder big men out of the game.  This shouldn’t be a problem for the Thunder as they have Kevin Durant who can play power forward and then one of the most athletic big men in the game, Serge Ibaka, to anchor the defense.  Ibaka is one of the best defensive players in the game and led the league in blocks.  And when Brooks decides to put him in the game he does things like this.

Unfortunately Ibaka is barely playing this series.  Nick Collison is getting almost as many minutes.  And Ibaka has played single digit minutes at center in crunch time lineups.  C’mon Scotty.  Play your best guys together at the end.

2.  Having Fisher try and guard D-Wade. (Incompetency rating: 7)

Derek Fisher is old as hell.  The man is 38.  He was so bad earlier in the year that the Lakers cut him to pick up Ramon Sessions.  And Session sucks.  So what in the world would possess Scott Brooks to try and have the short, old, slow Fisher guard Dwyane Wade?  This is just an incomprehensible decision.  The only reason it doesn’t rank higher on the incompetence scale is that foul trouble for Kevin Durant has forced Brooks into some weird match-ups.

3.  Playing Kendrick Perkins over 30 minutes per game (Incompetence rating: 9.7)

This is the crown jewel of Brooks’ inane decisions.  It makes absolutely no sense to have Perkins in the game against the Heat.  Perkins has a few elite skills.  He is one of the only players in the league who can credibly defend and rebound against Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum.  He was acquired by the Thunder precisely so he could help them handle Bynum, and the rest of the tall Lakers front line.  Unfortunately for him, the Heat do not have anyone resembling a dominant center for Perkins to battle down low.  Their center rotation consists of Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem.  Bosh is a quick perimeter oriented power forward an Haslem is a complete non-factor on offense.

Since the Thunder don’t need Perkins to play interior defense it is completely and utterly insane for him to play over 60% of the game.  His offensive game is so miserable that it bogs down the entire Thunder team.  Perkins is beyond a net-zero on offense.  He is a net-negative.  If Perkins keeps up his stunning incompetence for the rest of the series then he will have “accomplished” a feat unmatched in the history of the NBA; finishing a post-season with more turnovers than made field goals.

I don’t want to be too hard on Perkins.  He sucks, but he has been put in an impossible position in this series.  Perkins has never been very fast and after knee surgery 18 months ago he moves roughly at the pace of erosion.  And yet Brooks had him guard Shane Battier in game 1.  Battier may have lost a step with age but he was always going to dust Perkins.  And this is exactly what happened to the tune of a playoff high 17 points.  Brooks needs to get Perkins the hell out of the game and back where he belongs.  In a glass case with a sign that says, “Break in case of Dwight Howard.”

The sad thing about all of this is that Brooks doesn’t need to be the second coming of Red Auerbach for the Thunder to win this series.  His opposing number, Erik Spoelstra, is also a joke of a coach.  Jeff Van Gundy broke down the coaching match up after game two by saying that Spoelstra was playing chess while Brooks was playing checkers.  This is giving both of the coaches too much credit.  Spoelstra is playing Connect Four. (He can do simple things like never take Lebron out, and look into the stands to see if Pat Riley approves of his line-ups.)  Brooks however is playing with his dick over in the corner.  If he doesn’t figure his shit out immediately then the Heat are going to win this series in five games.

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You can’t teach height.  This has been a basketball cliche for as long as I can remember.  It also happens to be one of my favorite sayings.  At a lanky, un-athletic looking 6-4 I am often picked towards the end of pick-up basketball drafts.  I then usually proceed to drop one goofy looking hook shot after another over helpless shorter, quicker defenders proving that height is the ultimate weapon in basketball.  (If someone my height is guarding me then I am totally screwed.)  This playoffs Kevin Garnett is showing that even in the NBA being the biggest player on the court has its advantages.  He is averaging nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds per game against Miami.  This is even more absurd given that Garnett is in his 17th season in the league.  (Think about that for a minute.  He has been playing NBA basketball at a high level for longer than most people stay at the same job.  I was in freaking kindergarten when Garnett was drafted.  Now I am 22 and have graduated college and he still is dropping double doubles against elite competition.)  The fact that Garnett can still make plays like this one at age 36 is just crazy.

Garnett has been able to dominate this playoffs because he is an enormously skilled basketball player, and because in most cases he is 4 or 5 inches taller than the player guarding him.  The tallest heat player is Chris Bosh at 6-11 but he has been injured and has played only 14 minutes in the series.  (All in game 5 last night.)  The next tallest players are Joel Anthony at 6-9 and Udonis Haslem at 6-8.  Haslem and Anthony are very good defenders but they have just no chance against Garnett who is listed at 6-11 but in reality is well over 7 feet tall.  The Celtics staff jokingly refers to Garnett as 6-13.  As a result KG has just had his way with the heat defense.  He has scored the majority of his points on layups that resulted from simple lob passes over the defense and he has also dominated the glass.

I do not mean to diminish the accomplishments of Kevin Garnett.  As former number 2 draft pick and confirmed bum Hasheem Thabeet can tell you height does not guarantee success in the NBA.  But it is a pretty damn big advantage.  And unless Bosh comes back healthy for game six (and grows a sack) then Garnett is going to put the team on his back and drag them into the finals.

 

And as a bonus Garnett gives the best post-game interviews of all time.  I can’t believe I am actually linking to Doris Burke, but this one is too good to miss.

I like so much about this video but I think the clear winner is Garnett’s deathstare when he mentioned his critics and doubters.

 

BOO BOO go to Bed

 

 

I love the NBA but was unable to watch or write about the early rounds due to this huge hassle called graduation.  I have however watched every minute of the Conference Finals to date but other than bogus officiating and the fact that Rondo looks exactly like the aliens from Signs there hasn’t been much to talk about yet.  So I figured the best thing to do would be to talk about the teams that have already lost this year, and what they can do to improve for next year.  I am not going to deal with the boring teams so that eliminates the 76ers, Pacers, Nuggets, Hawks, and Jazz.  Sorry ’bout it.  That leaves us with 6 teams who could win a title next year and the Magic.  Lets get the ugliness out of the way and start with Dwight and friends in Orlando.

(Brief tangent: Graduation is terrible.  Seriously.  It is supposed to be a week long party but in reality it is an extended and painful goodbye to all your friends and the best lifestyle possible.  My views on graduation can best be summed up by the great entrepreneur/education enthusiast William Madison.)

The Magic

The Magic are irrevocably, totally screwed.  They are completely reliant on one player who has no interest in being there.  Anyone who thinks that Dwight is staying is deluding themselves.  Either that or they are actually just stupid.  Regardless it isn’t happening.  Dwight Howard signed the one year extension because the only teams with cap space this summer sucked. (I am looking at you New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets)  Next year when teams like the Mav’s have cap room Dwight will be out of there in one hell of a hurry.

Some Magic fans were heartened by the performance of the team after Howard got hurt.  They saw it as a positive sign for a post-Dwight future.  These people are dumb.  I am talking Antoine Dodson dumb.  I don’t care how hard Glen Davis tries or how good J.J. Reddick’s court vision is.  The Magic cannot contend without Howard or an equivalent player.  In fact the Magic would be better off if the team absolutely sucked without Howard so they could get a high draft pick.  It worked for Cleveland.  They had one tragic season and then ended up with Kyrie Irving.  Instead the Magic are headed for years of extended mediocrity before eventually bottoming out.  I bet Stan Van Gundy is secretly psyched to be out of there so he can resume his double life as a porn star.

The Lakers

The Lakers are in almost as bad a shape as the Magic.  They have no chance at winning a title as currently constructed.  Fortunately for them they have three good players instead of one.  This should allow the Lakers to trade either Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum in order to balance out their roster.  Currently the Lakers suffer from an egregious lack of depth.  Steve Blake played crunch time for them.  Think about that.  He can’t guard anyone, much less Westbrook in the post.  He was abused so badly that Reggie Miller announcing the game was begging Westbrook to lay off of him.  If the Lakers could unload Gasol for a real point guard and hopefully a small forward as well then the Lakers would be back in it with a chance next year.

The Grizzlies and the Bulls

I am lumping these teams together because they both need to get healthy.  Chicago (Carlos Boozer’s corpse starting at power forward) and Memphis (The outside chance that defensive specialist and confirmed crazy-person Tony Allen snaps and kills everyone) have question marks but both were considered championship contenders before their respective injuries.  Get well soon Derrick Rose and Zach Randolph.

The Knicks

The Knicks need to sign Steve Nash, and they need to do it yesterday.  Their team is poorly constructed and worthless on defense, but that has been the case for every Suns team since like 2004 and Nash always has them at least in contention for the playoffs.  Since the second best player on the Suns this past year was Marcin Gortat (it took me almost 15 minutes trying to find a second best player on the suns) and they almost made the playoffs I think it is safe to say that the Knicks would be scary as hell with Nash, Amare, ‘Melo and Tyson Chandler on the floor together.

The Clippers

The Clippers have two important moves to make this off-season.  One is easy.  They need to immediately fire Vinny Del Negro.  He is an absolute bum that should never have gotten one, much less two NBA head coaching jobs.  The second is much harder.  They are going to have to find the Space Jam alien that stole Deandre Jordan’s basketball ability and force him to give it back.  This may seem farfetched since the aliens all left earth at the end of the Space Jam but if you have a better explanation for why a physical specimen like Jordan sucks so hard at all aspects of basketball then I’d like to hear it.  (While they are there the Clippers should charge the Nuggets a consulting fee for returning Javale Mcgee’s talent to him as well.)

The Mavericks

The Mavericks took an interesting route to a first-round exit this year.  After last season they looked to have a promising title defense ready.  the entire core of their team was under contract and appeared to be happy in Dallas.  Then in an attempt to free up cap space owner Mark Cuban traded Tyson Chandler to the Knicks for a second round draft pick.  Chandler may have been limited offensively but he is by any measure the second best defensive big man in the league.  And he was traded for essentially nothing.  By dumping Chandler’s contract Cuban punted the 2011-2012 season like it was Baxter and he was an angry biker on a bridge.  If Cuban’s gamble works out and the Mavericks are able to sign Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, or both then the gamble will have paid off and the Mav’s will be set for close to a decade.  If not then Dirk’s title window has probably closed and Dallas fans will find themselves trapped in a glass case of emotion next year.