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Game Recap: USA vs. Australia, Olympic Quarterfinals

What, me struggle?

     After watching the Russians, Spanish, and Argentinians advance to the semifinals, the US men’s team went out and took care of business against Australia, a repeat of the chippy quarterfinals in 2008. On paper, it was a 119-86 drubbing where the US dominated with 22 threes, 13 steals, and 18 forced turnovers. In reality, however, it was the third straight game where the Red, White, and Blues played only sporadically with the requisite focus and let their opponent hang in the game well into the second half. Thanks to LeBron’s steady triple double and the Black Mamba’s 2nd half explosion, the game never felt as close as the scoreboard indicated. 

     The first half was an ugly slugfest, with 19 fouls against 13 total field goals at one point in the second quarter. At half time, LeBron’s precursor to a triple double (7 points, 10 boards, and 6 assists) and big halves from KD/D-Williams were the only reasons the US had a lead. Although they were defending with energy and holding Australia to a low FG percentage, the Aussies shot well from 3 and had a huge first half from the criminally underrated Patrick Mills. Although down 14 at half, they closed to 6 in the first 2 minutes of the 3rd quarter and hung around until the US surge.

     As a Lakers fan, these Olympics are interesting to watch. I wonder if Pau Gasol is relearning how to be assertive on offense, but, more importantly, I’m watching Kobe react to lower minutes and not being the primary ballhandler. For the Lakers to be successful, he’ll have to accept a diminished role with Steve Nash, which means settling for the fact that he may need to save his days of heavy usage and ball domination for the times when he’s going off or that’s what the defense is giving them. To his credit, that’s exactly what Kobe has been doing for Coach K, while serving as a leader and Elder Statesman. Throughout the Olympics and prelim games, his defensive energy, ability to draw fouls, and passing have been great. He hasn’t forced it on offense, but the Black Mamba has not been scoring efficiently either and isn’t getting his usual number of shots.

     A few minutes into the 3rd, he had 3 turnovers and was 0-4, missing some makeable shots. That said, he drew a few nice fouls and had passes that weren’t converted on before finally throwing a huge alley-oop to Chandler. After that, Kobe got hot and that was the game. He drilled a three, stole the ball, and drained another three, extending the lead to 12. In the fourth, he drained four more, with three coming in rapid succession to singlehandedly put the game away. All the sudden, USA’s energy level was reinvigorated and a few steals led to easy transition buckets. The lead was 30, human victory cigar Anthony Davis was in the game, and garbage time commenced for Team America. Similar to Argentina, a spurt broke the spirits and backs of their opponent to restore order to the game.

     It’s great that the Team LeBron (11/14/12 and first Olympic triple double ever) can rely on his excellence, but this team has its blind spots. Love has started to play well and I have been consistently impressed with Paul, Deron Williams, and Carmelo during these games. With the NBA’s greatest scorers in one place, you never count them out, but they have enough lapses in defensive intensity that I’m a bit worried. Regardless of who they have on the floor, there’s no question that this team’s defense fuels its offense, with steals and transition buckets serving as the core of these epic runs. With Tyson Chandler trying to set an Olympic record in foul rate, they lack a shot … Read more...

Five Stages of Grief: LeBron James Manned Up and Got a Ring

“The best thing that happened to me was us losing in the Finals [in 2011], and me playing the way I played. It was the best thing to ever happen to me in my career because basically I got back to the basics. It humbled me. I knew I was going to have to change as a basketball player, and I was going to have to change as a person to get what I wanted.” – LeBron James

          It pains me, but I’ll just come out and say it: LeBron James has an NBA title and is the best basketball player in the world. The last few years I’ve been able to put him into the Steve Nash category of flawed MVP winners, knowing that I’ll take the Finals MVP’s Kobe has earned over all the regular season accolades in the world. But instead of folding like a house of cards, LeBron leveraged his failings and the media criticisms to respond, improve, and become an NBA champion. In the last two weeks, my feelings towards him have come full circle and I’ve slowly worked my way through the grief cycle:
Step 1, Denial: At first, I didn’t believe that he’d ever get the title. I thought that Boston would pull through or the deeper OKC squad would give the Heat more than it could handle. Whoops.
Step 2, Anger: As the Heat started to build a commanding series lead, I was angry with Scott Brooks for his inadequate schemes and adjustments. Dude never listened to me, for all the screaming I did at my television.
Step 3, Bargaining:  LeBron continued his march toward a title and I got desperate. I started pleading with forces larger than myself, carrying around rabbit’s feet, four leaf clovers, and even trying a rain dance.
Step 4, Sadness: The Heat showed resilience instead of a collapse and sadness swept over me as the Thunder slowly melted down. Seeing LeBron’s face before Game 5, I knew the transformation was complete and a title was a foregone conclusion.
Step 5, Acceptance: A few days later, I’ve finally come to accept this brave new world but can’t help but wonder, how’d we get here?

The King: Far From Anointed
           Despite being crowned before he’d left high school as the next great, LeBron’s success was anything but guaranteed. As a huge Magic Johnson fan, I loved the way he played point forward and saw the game like no one else in the league today. I’m not sure that I’ve ever admitted it (much less publicly), but I actually bought a LeBron shirt when he entered the league and used to love watching him play before his brief stint as an evil entity. I appreciated his skill, phenomenal court vision, and willingness to pass more than resident Lakers’ blackhole Kobe Bryant. The problem with LeBron was that his incredible talents were as much of a curse as a blessing and led his career to become the NBA equivalent of a giant pressure cooker. The media and the fans expected nothing less than pure dominance from Day 1.
           Reflecting on the way we’ve treated this wunderkind for the last decade, I’ve come to the conclusion that in sports you are judged by two primary criteria: if you reach your potential and how much you win. Until now, I think he was more like Michael Jordan in the 1980’s. People would go out of their way to describe him with a huge asterisk until he won the big one, saying, “He was a great scorer, but…” That changed when Jordan stepped up, smacked the Bad Boy Pistons in the mouth, and beat Magic Johnson in the NBA Finals. Jordan certainly had lofty expectations thrust upon him, but nothing compared to LeBron James, which is also largely a function of the modern media environment. Looking at LeBron James, he arguably has the best body and talent of anyone in NBA history. H… Read more...

NBA Finals Game 5 Running Diary: The Miami Heat and LeBron James Are NBA Champions

(At perhaps a seminal moment in NBA history, we here at MAMBINO HQ knew it’d be important to document a minute by minute running diary during Game 5 of the NBA Finals. LeBron had lived up to his various monikers so far this series, but could he close it out in the biggest game of his career? Or would OKC send this back home? Read on for some in-game thoughts)

Pregame Introductions: We’ve talked for years about how LeBron is some sort of indestructible robot cyborg created to play basketball and assassinate all comers – he actually looks like it tonight. He’s stone-faced, walking slowly and with purpose. He’s even got a slight tick in his neck, as if part of his cold, mechanical programming is somehow malfunctioning. Despite the connotation of his pistons misfiring, that’s not a good sign for the Thunder.

Pregame Shotaround: I see Wade throwing up J’s, but Bron is sitting on the bench, fists to his head, mouthing some sort of mantra, which is probably something like “I’m going to murder everyone tonight”. I’m a little worried that he might be putting a little bit too much pressure on himself. I feel like he’s excelled these playoffs because he’s had the mindset of “this is what I do, I dominate”, and then gone out there and done just that. Obviously the gravity of the situation has affected his play, but he seems almost silently angry rather than stoic. Curious.

11:23: Chalmers steals, followed by a LeBron dunk that screamed “We are not losing tonight”. Uh-oh.

10:48: Sefolosha fouls LeBron mid-jump. LeBron shakes it off with that robotic tick. He’s like a black T-800 with fewer weaknesses and bad facial hair.

10:27: Westbrook jumper clangs hard off the iron. At least we know he isn’t wilting to any criticism.

9:32: Westbrook has taken 3 of the team’s 4 shots and hasn’t even looked for his teammates. It’s either stupidity or extreme confidence.

8:42: After getting doubled in the lane, Westbrook forces the ball to Ibaka for an easy bucket.  A really difficult pass right past Battier’s outstretched fingertips. Say what you want about his gaffe at the end of Game 4, he’s playing phenomenal, CONFIDENT basketball right now.

8:14: KD with his first bucket of the game, 18 feet from the basket. He’s looked a little passive early.

7:43: Interestingly, the Heat are leaving all the OKC shooters wide open to try and stop Westbrook. Luckily for Russ and the servers at Twitter, he’s making these baskets.

7:09: Pretty oop from Chalmers to Wade, who finger-rolls it in. A lot hasn’t been mentioned about Wade, but he’s really been locked in for the past 3 quarters. Say what you will about his off the court attitude, but despite stupid sound bytes comprising 65% of his speech, he gives 100% full effort every night on the hardwood.

6:02: James Harden’s first hoop barely touches the rim. Not a great sign for the Thunder  who desperately need his production tonight. Not just the points, but a spark off the bench. OKC hasn’t displayed that fire they showed in the first quarter of Game 4 since, well, that first quarter of Game 4.

5:14: Ibaka gives Wade a wing 15 footer, and he puts it in his face. No preening, no trash-talking and most shockingly of all, no complaining to the refs. Wade, like James, is all business tonight. Uh-oh.

4:34: Perkins nice put-in around the hoop. With this team, it’s amazing that Perkins ever gets touches. I mean, sometimes plays are designeRead more...

Preparing for a World Where LeBron James Has An NBA Title

Just…imagine it.

LeBron, feet shuffling nervously as he wears an ill-fitting hat that awkwardly rests upon his massive dome, looks deliriously up towards a loving Miami crowd, who for the first time in six years, have all stood uniformly at attention 30 minutes after the final buzzer has rung. They do so at the sight of a dozen men, as well as the coaching staff, trainers, wives, children and various hangers-on, impatiently waiting for the sight of a giant gold ball, like a group of kids behind the banister on Christmas morning. James is flanked dead center by his compatriot and friend Dwyane Wade, still spouting “Yes, we did. Yes. We. Diddddddddd!” phrases ad nauseum, and on the other side a humbled Erik Spoelstra, whose face erupts in a genuine joy that puzzlingly has seemed to elude a man whose reached the zeniths of the coaching ranks in just his mid-thirties.

James, who, at the final buzzer fell to the floor in celebration, ironic for a man who just had the weight of the world lifted off of him, stands tall with his chin up. Twice before he heard within 100 yards that these ceremonies were taking place, but never had he actually seen one up close. As he giddily looks side to side, with friends, family and co-workers constantly shouting out his name and the coordinating congratulatory sentiments, the Commissioner gives his usual speech about how this is a team that came together, defied the odds and ultimately, proved to be a worthy champion. All of the sudden, a smile rarely seen on the embattled Chosen One’s face flashes from free throw line to free throw line. His owner Mickey Arison says a few words to Stern, but at this point, LeBron can’t hear a damn thing. But it’s not his surroundings. The roar of the crowd can’t come close to contending with the din created by a million different thoughts racing in his head like the locomotive train he emulates every night on the court. In a moment that plays to him like a slow motion highlight, Arison turns to James, and hands him the Larry O’Brien trophy. Astonishingly, the tears don’t flow; the rush of sheer jubilation won’t allow for such reflection. Instead we watch as the three-time MVP, one of the greatest athletes on the planet and one of the best players in NBA history, has finally fulfilled the destiny that so many doubted he’d ever achieve. LeBron James has just won the NBA title.

Now, I’m not predicting anything here, contrary to that long, drawn out scenario I just painted. The goal of this post is to prepare everything for a world where LeBron James wins a NBA title.

The Miami Heat currently hold a 3-1 series lead on the Oklahoma City Thunder, a deficit that has only been overcome eight times in NBA history. None of those teams, however, were in the NBA Finals (though three were in the Conference Finals). While it’s still possible that the Thunder pull a massive upset, especially with two of the next three possible games at Oklahoma City, that outcome is highly improbable. Not only statistically speaking, but also watching how the Western Conference champs fumbled away Game 4 over and over again.

What I’m shooting for here is not to jinx the Heat, or prematurely proclaim them champions, but rather, to prepare all of our loyal Mambinites who no doubt loathe LeBron and his ilk, for the scenario that could damn well come true tonight. I repeat, this is just a precautionary measure. Think of this as rehab – we’re not only going to tackle the problem here, but we’re going to help you prepare to r… Read more...

The 2012 NBA Finals: One of the Most Historically Significant…Ever

Let’s ignore the usual rhetoric for now. We’re going to take the LeBron fourth quarter statistics and put them off to the side. We’re going to, for the moment, disregard his erratic and immature behavior that even we here at MAMBINO can’t shy away from critiquing. We’re going to stop talking about the questionable nature in which the Miami Heat came together two years ago. This isn’t going to be about how Dwyane Wade has slowly morphed into one of the most despicable on and off-court character in the league. Hell, this isn’t going to be a sychophantic pedestal-job on Kevin Durant, Russ Westbrook and James Harden that we’ve professed to loving so much more than Bron and his ilk.

The prevailing storyline might be if the Miami Heat can finally win their title that they pissed off the entire world while questing to do so. The secondary yarn here is if LeBron James, by all accounts and MVP trophies the best player on the planet, can carry an unorthodox and limited team to a title. And a footnote to all of this is if Kevin Durant, James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Russ Westbrook – all under the age of 24 – can upstage their celebrity opponents and upend them for their first championship.

That’s not what’s important here. Is it a big part of the story? Yes, it is. Very. Extremely. LeBron, Wade and Bosh are all in their ninth seasons, with only Wade capturing the ever-elusive chip in 2006, though with Shaquille and Alonzo at his side. Durant, Russ and Harden surpassing them would be a fantastic story that the NBA-watching public could absolutely engorge themselves with – the thought of the noble, beloved, blue-collar Thunder from the humble breadbasket of America defeating the glamorous villains hailing from the neon-satured, sun-soaked South Beach would be a screenplay come to life.

For the NBA-head though, this isn’t just a tale of the young, hard-working Thunder vanquishing the evil thespians from Miami. This is a match-up of the two best teams in the NBA. Lasting up to seven games, this year’s Finals pits six of the NBA’s best 20 players against each other, highlighted by the consensus top dog in James and the runner-up in Durant. As anyone who watched Tuesday’s Game 1 will attest, this isn’t just about a set with star-power – this is going to be a tough, grinding series that no matter who the victor is, we’ll all agree that the trophy was well-deserved.

The Oklahoma City Thunder versus the Miami Heat isn’t just going to be a great Finals. This is one of the most historically significant Finals ever. And heres’ why.
I’ve spoken at length about the “generationalism” there is in the NBA. Determined sometimes by draft class, age or style of play, groups of players are often banded together with an unmistakable bond that fans always seem to identify them by.

There was Jordan’s generation, and before that, Magic and Bird’s. After Jordan, it was Shaquille, Timmy and Kobe ruled the roost. The specific players mentioned up top is always up for debate, but in the end, no one’s really questioning whether or not these guys were the leaders of their peers.

What’s incredible about the NBA is that unlike baseball, football or hockey, there seems to be rules that adhere to the game decade after decade. One of these rules, or concepts I should say, is that for the past 30 years of NBA basketball, there is a definite breaking point, a specific event, that delineates generation… Read more...

MAMBINO’s NBA Finals Preview: Keys to a Miami Victory

In many ways, the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder are mirror images of the same team. Guided by three athletic superstars and one of the youngest coaches in the league, both teams had to survive the old powers in their respective conferences to make it here. The Thunder played the Mavericks, the Spurs, and the Lakers, who collectively represent every single NBA finals representative from the West since 1999. The Heat took out Boston for the second straight year and prevented the C’s from getting to the Finals for the 3rd time in 5 years.  In terms of NBA narrative, however, these teams could not be more different.  The Heat will undoubtedly be the villains in this series and most casual fans will side with the Boy Scouts from OKC.

OKC is the homegrown model, the team created by smart lottery draft picks, cap flexibility, and opportune trades. With their culture and management structure, they are set up to be the Spurs of the next decade if they can find a way to lock up their young core. And with Harden still on his rookie deal, OKC has the added advantage of the kinds of role players that Miami wished it had. My heart says that OKC will win, but my brain is telling me that I’m merely hoping instead. Miami certainly has more experience, as both Wade and LeBron have 2 appearances in the Finals each under their belts. You might say that the Thunder are merely precocious and that the Heat are still the current generation of stars. Either way, this is the time for the Miami Heat to establish a dynasty if they’re ever going to.

Looking at the numbers, you can see that we’re looking at two teams that can both score and defend at a high level. Everyone expects this to be a competitive series. If Miami is going to take home the title, they’re going to need their A-Game. Here are my keys to the series for the Heatles:
Ready for some
Boy Scouts, Bron?
  • Stars Need to Shine: This is truly a generational battle of NBA superstars and the Heat have a lot less margin for error than against Boston. LeBron has been unreal in these playoffs, but Kevin Durant has been outstanding too. In the Finals, LeBron needs to be invincible. LeBron still has dimensions that KD is just starting to develop; however, it’s time for him to show that he’s the best player in the league, not just in the regular season. The Heat cannot afford the erratic performances Wade has been providing, particularly with Sefolosha playing so well right now. The 8th ranked Heat struggled mightily on offense at times against Boston and OKC has a lot of athletic defenders to throw at them. Their stars need to be nothing less than transcendent.
  • Tough, Team Defense: The Heat allowed Boston (the NBA’s 27thmost efficient offense this year) to score punches in droves. Now they face OKC’s 2nd ranked offense and you can’t afford it against a team that can score like that AND get easy points in transition off of your mistakes. Miami’s team thrives on defense and its time to rediscover that identity. In the Western Conference, teams tried to exploit OKC in the frontcourt and play their stars physically. The Heat don’t have the same advantage, but they have incredibly athletic defenders in Wade and LeBron that can disrupt the OKC stars. Spoelstra is a defensive maestro and it’s time for him to earn the title with his schemes, particularly at disrupting the OKC pick and rolls and making their stars into jump shooters. It can be done, but the Heat need a game plan when Harden, Westbrook, and Durant are all on the court.
  • Steal One on the Road: The NBA Finals has an interesting 2-3-2 format, so the Heat will g

Celtics/Heat Mid-Series Check-In from Two Haters

Similar to yesterday’s mid-series check-in on Spurs/Thunder with our man Thunderstolt, today two pathetic Lakers apologists bring you our updated thoughts on the Eastern Conference Finals match-up between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat. 
The CDP and I have been fascinated in a series that like the Western Conference Finals, has taken a turn for the unexpected. In a two-game swing, Rajon Rondo and the C’s have stormed back into the scrum where they were once not only left for dead, but reanimated as a Zombie and then put back down by Mila Jovovich. 
As a hardcore pathetic Lakers apologist, I’m going through a bevy of emotions on a night to night basis rooting for either the Celtics or Heat. I find that I’m consistently pulling for the team that’s losing to win, hoping that every contest ends in a heart-breaking last second shot and ultimately in Game 7, just hours before the tip, all members of both teams get a debilitating, but eventually curable case of syphilis and they just have to cancel the Eastern Conference Finals. 
My sociopath tendencies aside, let’s press on. Last night, the Thunder were able hand the Spurs their third consecutive loss after their 20 game winning streak, heading back to Oklahoma City with a 3-2 lead in their back pocket. Will the Heat be able to do the same?  

KOBEsh: Most of us on MAMBINO were calling for Miami in five games, or perhaps even the disgraceful sweep. If you had to distill the key to the Celtics’ evening of this series, what would it be? Or could you even do that? 
The CDP: Interesting question. I think we’re all a little surprised that Boston was able to strike back and really hit Miami in the mouth. There’s no doubt that this C’s squad is a veteran squad brimming with pride, but their team has less depth than ever and serious injury problems. Although there is no doubt that Miami is missing Chris Bosh, Ray Allen needs surgery and only came alive in Game 4. I’ll be very interested to see how Miami reacts – will they fold like a house of cards or show the resolve of a champion? 
Boston has made an impressive series of adjustments and their stars have risen their game to accompany the stakes. Here’s what I’ve seen Boston do right to even up the series:
  • Starting Strong: Instead of digging themselves a hole and trying to claw their way out, which would play into Miami’s strengths, Boston has been impressively focused to begin games. Dwayne Wade was totally shut down in the first half of Games 3 and 4, while Boston went back into the locker room with the luxury of a double-digit lead. With Miami relying on Wade and LeBron so much, it takes a lot of effort for them to come back from these kinds of deficits.
  • Find a Way to Score: Miami is still a defensive team at heart and uses their athletic defenders to force turnovers and fuel its transition game.  On the back of a resurgent KG, a stunningly dominant Rondo, and some big games from Paul Pierce, Boston has been able to score points against this Miami defense, putting well over 100/game after only managing to score 79 in Game 1. 
  • Role Players:  There’s no doubt that Miami overpaid Mike Miller/Joel Anthony and Shane Battier has been a bit of disappointment, but Boston played Keyon Dooling/Michael Pietrus/Marquis Daniel nearly 60 minutes in both Games 3 and 4. And won. Think about that! Boston always seems to get these kinds of performances from their role players when it matters. I’ll never forget Leon Powe and PJ Brown burning my Lakers in the NBA Finals a

Generationally Defective: Why We Hate LeBron and Melo, but Admire Rose and Durant

LeBron James is a coward. The self-anointed Chosen One has led a NBA career with varying highs and lows, astounding us along the way with a dazzling combination of size, speed, grace and strength. Never before had we ever seen an athlete that drew comparisons to a Transformer; a burning locomotive train that could change into a blackbird jet at any given moment. LeBron’s promise to his consumers has been that indeed, he would be the one to bring basketball to heights never before seen – we are all witnesses, afterall. However, in a folly of hubris fit only for a King, James has yet to deliver on his various pledges; while he has amazed, he has yet to conquer. The progenitor of the South Beach Theory, a situation where in trying to add value to your own personal “brand”, you actually diminish it,  LeBron has somehow become the most despised player in the league. We should be thankful that he spends his time bestowing his gifts and otherworldly play upon us, and yet, we’ve come to resent the cowardice from a man who has shown a reluctance to walk the self-instituted path we’ve lined the streets of, waiting for ascendance. LeBron James was drafted in 2003.
Dwight Howard is a indecisive lout. Thought to be the next in the lineage of the great NBA centers of all-time, Dwight has ostensibly strayed from his labeled ancestry that Kareem, Ewing, Hakeem, the Admiral and Shaquille occupied. Though each of those men were laden with early to mid-career blunders, Howard’s value in his eighth season seems lower than ever. At this point, Howard is best known for three things : 1) his all-world defense, 2) his noteworthy physical features, which range from his goliath-like shoulders to smile nearly broader than his countenance, and 3) an unbelievable hesitancy to be decisive. For nearly a year, the daily rumor mill has been rife with buzz of where Howard will continue his career. In a media storm that would embarrass a drunk Jose Conseco, Dwight managed to throw his coach, general manager, team and unwittingly, himself, under the bus. Though committed to the Orlando Magic for the 2012-2013 season, Howard continues to leave his team in managerial purgatory, not knowing whether he’ll sign an extension to stay or leave for nothing. Oddly enough, Howard’s unwillingness to make a decision regarding his contract future is mirrored by the lack of progress in his basketball repertoire. He is largely the same offensive and defensive player he was 4 years ago. Regardless of how you feel about LeBron as a person or a salesman, you have to admire that at least he’s attempted to improve his game. Orlando’s center has not. Dwight Howard was drafted in 2004.

Carmelo Anthony is a selfish ball-stopper. I suppose there’s a decent reason for that; he is one of the deadliest scorers in the league. Gifted with a powerful 6’8″ frame and a quickness that betrays that build, Anthony can score from any space on the floor. Facing up, in the post, out on the perimeter, back to the basket, on the fast break, cutting to the rack, mid-range, free throw line, multiple-defenders – the situation matters not. Carmelo Anthony can put the ball in the hoop. However, the Knicks All-Star forward has an all-around game that he rarely shows on the court. In flashes, Melo unveils his alter-ego; the black Larry Bird. His ability to rebound, defend and pass are often overlooked – because he infrequently displays them. With his strength, size and speed, there’s not rebound Melo can’t Read more...

MAMBINO’s Eastern Conference Finals Preview

The Miami Heat versus the Boston Celtics. As soon as Derrick Rose got hurt five weeks ago, this is the matchup we all saw coming. And it is going to get messy.

Even in missing starting power forward Chris Bosh and no one on the Miami roster peaking right now save for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, essentially every person whose opinion you care about is picking the Heat to win this series. I suppose this more than anything is a testament to the greatness of South Beach’s best two players, who are playing at an otherwordly level right now.

Barring an unforseen injury to the Heat’s two remaining All-Stars, this series will be a romp. In our series preview, we’ll let you know why, but also, what the hell Boston would have to do to squeak out the massive upset. The King, our resident Celtics fan, will try to decode a method to the madness that would be a Boston series win. Here we go:

MIAMI in 5 games

Is this more a question of “how Miami will win this series” or “why Boston is at a serious disadvantage”? I think it’s a bit of both, to be honest.
Without Chris Bosh, the supporting cast on this Miami roster is not only worse than last year’s runnner-ups, but one of the worst in the entire playoffs. Wing players Shane Battier and Mike Miller are shooting 27% and 37% respectively from the field. Udonis Haslem has slipped to just 5 points and 5 rebounds in 18 minutes, down from 6 and 7 in the regular season. Joel Anthony, playing 23 minutes a game has watched his usually strong post defense slip a bit, while only putting in 4 points and 4 boards. Mario Chalmers is the only saving grace of the role players, playing confidently and throwing down a 11/4/3 line. Going forward, I find it hard to believe that these guys will give the Heat much more than this. I’d expect performances equal or slightly better than what they’ve been doing the first two rounds.

I bring all this up to illustrate how unbelievable Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are. Bron’s 29/9/6 nightly stat line, as well as Wade’s 24/4/3, are elevating an weak Miami team from D-League throwaways to potential Finalists. They are the crux to both the Heat defensive scheme and offensive attack, changing the game with their incredible energy and skill on both sides of the floor. Night in and night out, these two guys have to play like the two best players in the league to win ball games. Luckily for Miami, they’ve been just that in victories. Bad games, like Game 3 in Indiana, mean losses. It’s a very, very simple formula.

I cannot possibly overstate the importance towards LeBron and Wade having great games, every game for the Heat to win. Their supporting players are giving them next to nothing and I see no reason for that to change. For as much as everyone gets on both these guys for being such weak characters, they’ve risen to the challenge that the Heat’s roster has presented them with. Every coach knows that they have to stop these guys to win the game. It’s just that no one can do it. Amazing.
Thus, a game Boston Celtics team could actually have a decently easy time of beating up on a limited Heat squad that leans so much on trascendant performances from just two guys. However, Avery Bradley (their best perimeter defender) is out for the rest of the postseason with a shoulder injury and stars Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are playing with only one leg a piece. The C’s have suffered so many personnel losses over the season that even a win over an extremely limited Sixers team took seven games. This isn’t real… Read more...

NBA’s Flopping Superstars: Double Standard or No Standard At All?

The MAMBINO crew (and the general NBA writing populace) has been afire with rage at the egregious and seemingly unending flopping going on in these playoffs. LeBron, Wade, Chris Paul, James Harden and the like have been throwing their bodies around the court as if they got hit by a Rhinoceros rather than a hard screen or an errant forearm from a shooter. Commissioner David Stern has taken notice and there are whispers that a “flopping” committee will be instituted to stop our favorite NBA-ers from being thespians rather than the hard-nosed ballers of yesteryear. 

But the controversy got us thinking, do the NBA superstars get away with flopping because the refs let them operate under a completely different set of rules? Or perhaps everyone does this, but maybe we’re just a little too sensitive to our best and brightest flailing about the court? The CDP and I discuss.

The CDP: There’s no doubt that the NBA disciplinary committee has had a pretty tough time keeping order in the L this year, with a rash of hard fouls on a mid-air Blake Griffin and lots of tough fouls to officiate. As a Lakers fan, my season was bookended with big Lakers suspensions by stupid fouls from our frontcourt: Bynum’s assassination attempt on JJ Barea and Metta World Peace’s elbow to the skull of James Harden. At the moment, though, the controversy is all about the Heat. On one hand, you have to admire a team like the Heat’s ability to get to the line with their explosive athleticism and deft maneuvering into the paint. Sometimes it’s hard to do anything else with LeBron and Wade but foul them. Through obscenely bad flops, constant yammering at the refs, and some Academy Award-caliber acting, it seems like this advantage has been contorted into something else entirely. There’s a growing sentiment that the Heat are playing by a whole other set of rules. In one short sequence against the Knicks, LeBron flopped against JR Smith before treating us to one of the worst flops I’ve ever seen. It swung the momentum of the game and was initially called a Flagrant 2 foul before being downgraded to a Flagrant 1. Poor Tyson Chandler is rightfully incredulous, as is the announcing team, prompting Van Gundy to wonder what kind of league the NBA is becoming where this is a flagrant foul.

What do you think? KOBEsh, do you feel like Kobe gets treated the same way?

KOBEsh: I figured that shit out at an early age. I’ve seen Michael Jordan not take one fucking charge and he’s healthy his whole career. I don’t take charges” – Kobe Bean Bryant

Interesting question. The bottom line here is yes, Kobe’s been able to play by a different set of rules from the other mortal guards that occupy our beloved L. In my mind, there’s no doubt that Kobe gets extra calls that other players won’t get. But there are two conflicting ideas here though – does Kobe get extra calls because he attempts to get them, or does he get extra calls because the referees are keeping an even more judicious eye on Kobe and his defender because, well, he’s Kobe?
It’s both. Kobe knows that the stripes pay more attention to him, so in turn, he’ll accentuate contact when goign up for a shot, or scream loudly in the lane when trying to get to the rack. The Mamba, no different than any other player in the league, wants to get calls and uses it to his advantage that he is a superstar you can’t ignore.
The difference betwen Kobe and LeBron, Wade and the ilk here, is that Bry