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NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference First Round Predictions

It’s Christmas kids. Except instead of Jesus being born, we’re celebrating a bunch of overpaid athletes play a game we’d all happily do for a fraction of the money. It’s pretty much the same thing, right?
 
Let’s get right to it–MAMBINO official predictions and commentary from the whole team:
 
1) Miami Heat vs. 8) Milwaukee Bucks
 
Why is this a clean sweep for the Heat?

 
El Mariachi: LeBron James.  … Read more...

Live Report from London…YOUR New York Knicks!

(A live report from MAMBINO correspondent Sip Rogers, an expatriate New York Knicks fan who lives and works in London. He attended the Knicks-Pistons game on Thursday night at the O2 arena on the Eastside of town. Here’s his firsthand recap)
Just got back from the NBA’s first regular season game in London and to sum it up, it was amazing. 
First a little actual basketball talk. The Knicks played well in a 102-87 win, outclassing the Pistons most of the game, including a 15 point lead at halftime. As they game wore on, they were able to stifle any runs the Pistons had in them, mostly from Will Bynum (and man, can that guy can drive). 

Iman Shumpert finally is back for the Knicks, giant flat top in tow. He started the game, which was surprising for his return. He ended up scoring 8 points in 15 minutes.  Amar’e had 17 in 20 minutes, but the quietest 17 I’ve seen in awhile. There wasn’t too much to the actual game itself; it was a blowout against the Pistons, whose best player is Greg Monroe and the most explosive guard is Will Bynum.  
As for the event in London, the NBA, Knicks and Pistons did a great great job.  As hard as it is to believe, it actually felt like a real NBA game.  They fixed the courtside seats problem from the Olympics, as in, now there were floor seats (whereas during the summer, spectators were so far away from the court that the camera angle made it appear as if no one was watching live). The O2 arena was sold out and rocking. The crowd remained into the game the whole time and was, to my delight,  very pro-Knicks.  There were a decent chunk of expats (but less than I expected) and plenty of Euros in attendance. However, what surprised me most was a really good amount of Brits were wearing Knicks gear, cheering the Knicks and talking basketball.  Stunning, really. This is a city as big as New York, so I’m not surprised that there are NBA fans hiding but…I don’t know where they have been as long as I’ve lived here. After all, there are a ton of English Premiere League fans in the Mecca, but I’m not sure where they hide out. People aren’t talking about Robin Van Persie on the corner of 51st and Lexington, right? 
Certainly a great sign for the NBA that so many Brits were actual fans.  The NFL classically has the issue with their game in London, no matter who is playing. They have a hard time hocking 80,000 seats even with 80,000 expats living in Europe. The NBA seems to have dodged that already.
A couple of nice touches: the Knicks brought along their organ player from MSG, which made the O2 sound even more like a game at the Garden.  The Pistons brought along their announcer, because after all, it was a Detroit home game. Was nice to hear the sounds of “Deeeeetttrrooooooiiiitttt Baaaaassssskeeeetttbaaaallll” echoing through the arena.  Spike Lee made the trip across the pond, sitting courtside next to Baron Davis.  Plenty of Premier League soccer players in the crowd; Ashley Cole, Thierry Henry, Joe Cole and our favorite American Clint Dempsey…who of course sat next to the Knicks bench with a dime piece.

The whole event was really well done and a way more authentic experience than I originally thought it would be.  Kudos to the NBA. 

BTW, no sign of Dolan, I scoured the crowd for him. I guess JD and the Straight Shot doesn’t travel across international waters.Read more...

State of the Garden: Dolan’s Boys

I am a carbon copy of my father. It has nothing to do with the fact that my peoples all look alike (okay, maybe just a little bit). But it’s other things: we have the same mannerisms, we showcase the same stubbornness, and we make the same mistakes because we run through the same thought processes and use the same logic.

Similarly, YOUR New York Knickerbockers are a carbon copy of their illegitimate father, James Dolan. We know the story of Dolan already. The stupidity of the Isiah Thomas era, the botched handling of Linsanity, and the foolishness of JD and the Straight Shot all tell us that in spite of his obvious intelligence, the King of New York is too brash, too vindictive, and too ridiculous. We’re lucky that general manager Glen Grunwald has undoubtedly been the best executive in pro sports for the past two years (and yes, I’m including Presti in OKC, Buford in Santone, Baalke in Frisco, Friedman in Tampa, and any other executive who decided to take a job in the National Hockey League).

The Knicks are Dolan’s boys. Their attitudes and their play on the court, from superstar Carmelo Anthony to head coach Mike Woodson, give Dolan every reason to call the Bockers his team. Let’s take a look why:

The Technical Fouls

Anthony leads the league in technical fouls with 8. J.R. Smith and Rasheed Wallace each have 4. Including Woodson, the Knicks have gotten T’d up 24 times in 27 games.

NBA referees are horrendous. But they were horrendous during the days of Naismith’s peach baskets. They’ll continue to be horrendous in the future because a) the NBA doesn’t conduct a rigorous hand-eye coordination test to become employed, and b) referees are human. Even the most calm player will show a little emotion when there is a missed call or no-call, but the Knicks compound forgivable human error with unforgiveable human error. Exhibit A, Anthony against the Rockets last month (fast-forward to 1:20 if you’re so inclined):

Anthony’s blatant disregard to continue playing basketball does the obvious: the Rockets had a clear path to two points. But this and other reactions to referee mistakes has given the Knicks a terrible reputation. Many basketball heads point to the Knicks’ inability to get to the free throw line as a huge reason why the winning ways of the Bockers is unsustainable. But I counter by saying that Melo and Smith are just not getting the calls near the basket. Breen hammered on that point during yesterday’s game against Minnesota, that Carmelo is just getting beat up down low without the benefit of hearing a whistle.

The players’ reaction to non-calls, missed calls, and the technical fouls themselves portray Dolan-ing at its finest. When asked about the whistle-happy referees that ejected Tyson Chandler, Woodson, and himself against Chicago on Saturday, Anthony said:

“Sh*t happens.”

How lovely. Don’t blame it on the fact that we can’t control our emotions like rational adults. Blame it on someone else, it’s the Jimmy D way.

The Overconfidence

Dolan and Isiah, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. I’m all for standing by your boys til the bitter end, but the continued employment and affection for someone who torpedoed the franchise for years was comical. People are bad at their jobs all the time, and sure, Isiah should have been fired for that. But when Anucha Browne-Sanders filed an eight-figure sexual harassment lawsuit against Madison Square Garden based on Isiah’s transgressions (I love that word… Read more...

#Linsanity: 10 Months Later

I blabbered on and on about the intricacies about the NBA’s League Pass, the league’s now ubiquitous service in which hoop heads across the planet can watch any league sanctioned game, anytime, anywhere. I consistently refer to League Pass as a sort of “social deal breaker”; after all, why would I go out on a week day when I could see what all the fuss about Dion Waiters is about in another scintillating installment of Cavaliers/Milwaukee, the rivalry the entire country is simply abuzz about?

I mostly offer up my annual $180 dollars for the pleasure and sometimes excruciating pain of watching my Los Angeles Lakers. That in itself isn’t so much of a stretch–after all, who wouldn’t want to see their favorite team play against the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs of the world? But the Lakers have nearly 30 of their games broadcast on basic cable broadcasts throughout the country, via the largess of ESPN, NBATV and TNT. More than a third of the Lakers season, and the most important season-swinging games at that, will be thrown up on cable systems across the country for the added price of nothing. So in essence, I end up paying an extra $180 to watch a 30 point Golden State Warriors skewering and an inevitable mid-February Indiana Pacers game that would suck the enthusiasm out of even the most ardent fan.

This is what you call an addiction; a sickness. I love the NBA, and the Lakers in particular, enough to sacrifice my time, money and ultimately standings in my local social strata, to watch Kobe, Dwight, Pau and Nash eviscerate the hapless Wizards on a blustery January Sunday. It’s pathetic.

My aunty sat across the table, listening to my description of the NBA’s amazing service that has simultaneously sated my fandom and increased tenfold my eventual descent into true nerdom. As I reeled off the program’s many capabilities, perhaps condescendingly so, my aunt interrupted me in a sweet, comforting tone that can only come from the mouth of, well, your aunt. She told me that she in fact was a subscriber to NBA League Pass.

I looked at her quizzically. My aunt and uncle were lifelong Angelenos with a partial Lakers season ticket package. As much as a couple of middle-aged, empty nest parents of three could possibly muster, they were Lakers fans to the fullest. But living well within the reaches of Time Warner Cable Sportsnet and their nightly Lakers broadcasts, there was clearly no reason for them to drop cash onto League Pass. Well, unless my aunt had suddenly developed a deep and quite frankly disturbing addiction to Fantasy Basketball.
Before I asked why, my uncle cut in and said “…she wants to watch Jeremy Lin play.”
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It’s been over ten months since Jeremy Lin–he of #LINSANITY, lest we forget–broke into the major leagues. He was part camp, part hype, part narrative, but ultimately, all too real. Lin’s astronomical ascent from the doldrums of the 15th man to the cover of Sports Illustrated–twice in a row!–came without nearly any precedent. Left and right, people drew parallels to other sudden explosions in performance, from Brady Anderson to Micheal Ray Richardson to Flip Murray, and also to other breakthrough minority athletes, from Jackie Robinson to Roberto Clemente to Yao Ming. However, none of them quite fit the billing. Lin was Lin, his r
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Knicks/Lakers: A Season of Unsettling Dichotomy

A historic NBA franchise in the middle of a prime American media market. A set of mismatched players thrown together with little regard for how well they may or may not play with one another. Yearly turnover of personnel becoming more and more turbulent. Overpriced veterans and supposed superstars who cannot become a greater sum than their individual parts. Management beleaguered by a wide, knowledgeable and perhaps sometimes overly passionate fan base. Those same fervent followers pressing the panic button at a moment’s notice, whether it be warranted or not. A team consistently grounding to new lows and disappointing fans in new, creative and sadistic ways. Expectations failed, season settling into jeopardy, everyone worried.

A historic NBA franchise in the middle of a prime American media market. A set of underrated players who were specifically put together to best build on the strengths of their franchise player. A roster that has built continuity after years of tumult. Cagey veterans help an emerging superstar finally reach his potential, with a set of improperly valued players becoming a greater sum than its individual parts. Management, no matter how shrewd its trades and wily it’s moves, will always be beleaguered by a wide, knowledgeable and perhaps sometimes overly passionate fan base. Those same fervent followers cautiously buying in on an extraordinary start to the season. A team coming together, morphing into the class of the league. Expectations already surpassed, season becoming quickly extraordinary, everyone jubilant.


Of course, we’re talking about the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers.

But how is it that two descriptions that would fit both teams like a fine Pat Riley suit now has flipped the script? The usually melodramatic Knickerbockers have become the respectable, heady team of veterans who win with defense, passing and patience. The usually steady Lakers have become a team in crisis, with it’s highly paid imports failing to bring W’s to the game log. It seems that the two franchises have suddenly switched places, and both fan bases don’t really know how to handle the rapid transformation. Knicks fans are looking at their 16-5 squad with much trepidation. They are dubious to accept Carmelo as the MVP candidate he looks to be and the squad’s reliance on a group of basketball geriatrics that are creating wins and melding an otherwise unwieldy team of boneheads. Lakers fans are conversely confused at how terrible a 9-13 team full of seeming superstars and solid contributors could be so incredibly awful. Overall, there’s a real lack of acceptance that perhaps yes, the Lakers could be this terrible and yes, the Knicks could be this good.

(Read on at Silver Screen and Roll!)Read more...

THE GREAT PODBINO Episode #3

We’re back with THE GREAT PODBINO, Episode #3!

Join El Miz, BockerKnocker and myself, along with the pro cutting of Producer Mags, as we navigate along the waters of the early season NBA. In Ep. 3, we’ll give our Fact or Fiction as to the best records in the league–Memphis, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Miami–as well as some unexpected win-loss dockets.

And of course, some substantial Knicks and Lakers chatter.

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Pau Gasol for Amar’e Stoudemire? Pure Fiction


From: Andrew Hova
To: KOBEsh
Date: 8:21 pm, November 27th, 2012
Subject: Amar’e for Gasol? Oh please make it sooo

This was an e-mail I received last night as I got off of a plane. In a panic, my fingers couldn’t light up Twitter fast enough. I was stricken with my worst fear come to light–not so much that the Lakers were close to trading Gasol, but rather that New York Knick Amar’e Stoudemire would be the quarry. 

I searched and searched, but all I saw was speculation. There weren’t any solid reports, just rumors floating around that a swap of the two disaffected power forwards could be a possible deal going forward. Both men aren’t entirely happy in their current environments and roles on their current squads, and more importantly, have largely underperformed the last year and a half. Switching the two wouldn’t be an entirely far-fetched idea, based on various factors of their ages, contracts and personnel redundancies on the Lakers and Knicks, respectively.

That being said, there isn’t a scenario where this trade would be anything but an outright disaster for the Lakers.

At this point, such a pact is purely rumor-mill material. But just to nip this one right quick, there’s no way that LA should or would pursue this deal as a one-for-one switcheroo. 


1). Contract length and cost

First and foremost, this is a money issue. Pau is owed just a bit over $38 million for this season and the next. Amar’e on the other hand, is scheduled to receive over $64 million in salary over three seasons…without insurance due to his balky knees. Yes, both players might be in a simple need of a scenery change, but doing so for the sake of an extra year and nearly $26 million dollars just isn’t worth it. More importantly, this would nearly cap out the Lakers in the summer of 2014, when Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Steve Blake come off the books to the tune of $60 million dollars. Amar’e’s prospective salary would shutter the possibility of bringing in another free agent swingman to pair with Dwight Howard (if he’s resigned this summer), Steve Nash (under contract for 2014-2015) and perhaps Kobe Bryant on a short-term deal. 
In terms of sheer money, this deal is so ludicrous that Chris Bridges couldn’t even sanction it. 

2). Pau Gasol is better than Amar’e Stoudemire

This is a much bigger and longer argument, but even in a down year, there’s little doubt in my mind that Pau Gasol is a far more effective player of the two:
Stoudemire 2011-2012: 17.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.0 bpg, .483 FG%, 17.7 PER
Gasol 2011-2013: 16.6 PPG, 10.2 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.3 bpg, .488 FG%, 19.5 PER

Aside from points per game (in which Pau took 1.6 less shots per game), it’s clear that Gasol is the superior guy at this point. He’s more efficient and athletic than Amar’e, and in regards to his offensive skill set, is vastly more versatile. Stoudemire is rapidly becoming more and more an outside jump shooter, as his explosiveness has wilted like Ramon Sessions in a big spot. 

Amar’e is largely a one-trick pony at this point–he can score, but without the variance in which Gasol can and also sans the more impressive rebounding and assist numbers. It goes that without saying that Stoudemire is one of the league’s worst defensive players, whereas Pau is at least adequate. 

3). Durability

But what that last bullet left out was that Pau aggregated all those statistics in 80 games, where the Knicks forward only played in 47 games in that

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YOUR…6-0 New York Knicks. Are They For Real?

(With the Knicks up by five in San Antonio with mere minutes remaining on the clock, I texted MAMBINO’s two resident Knicks masochists fanatics, asking if they could handle what was happening to their beloved ‘Bockers. I got a number of responses, but mostly in the vein of “AAAHHHHHHHH”. Very verbose. 

The New York Knicks have the best record in the league, standing at a very respectable 6-0 record, with quality wins against Miami, Dallas and at San Antonio. Gotham is, to the surprise of no one, reacting with hyperbolic headlines and unbridled excitement at the extraordinary start that Carmelo, Kidd and company have raced out to. As a mere Knicks sympathizer, I had many questions for two rabid fans, who, by their own admittance, have their emotions on the team vacillate on a minute-by-minute basis. This is the e-mail string that followed.)
KOBEsh: El Miz–BockerKnocker, brace yourselves. YOUR…New York Knickerbockers are, I daresay, a juggernaut. At 6-0, this is the best start for the franchise since their Ewing-led heyday in the 90s. Let’s start with the most basic question: what’s the number one reason they’re doing this?
El Miz: Mike Woodson.  Coach Woody has gotten a group that features Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith to buy into things like holding the opposing team under 25 points per quarter, under 40 points in the second half, and caring about what the other team shot from the field percentage-wise. Carmelo has bought in, and it is pivotal to have the alpha dog buy in–last year, Carmelo wasn’t buying anything that Mike D’Antoni was selling…and that was it for the Gentleman Thief.  
The absence of Amare Stoudemire has helped as well — it has allowed Melo to get into a groove at the 4, a position where he excelled last year and won Player of the Month in April, a month where he averaged 30 points and 7 rebounds per game on 50% shooting from the field (including 46% from downtown).  It is clear now that Melo is better suited in this post-Seven Seconds or Less NBA to be a stretch 4, and without Stoudemire, there is no controversy in getting the best player in his most optimal position.  But this team is not undefeated without the emphasis on defense, and that has started with Woodson.
KOBEsh: I completely agree. I’ve been absolutely taken aback not by NYK’s ability to defend; they’ve always had the requisite athleticism and strength to lock down any team in the league. I’ve been astonished by their willingness and more importantly enthusiasm to do so. It’s been a breath of fresh air considering how apathetic they’ve been under D’Antoni. Lakers fans have gotta feel great right now.

You mentioned Stoudemire in your last response–but I’m not going to delve into the negative. It’s too hard to predict how he’ll affect the team on his return, and I don’t want to sully the positive vibes that you only get to experience once…a decade.

Besides the defense, what’s been the most surprising part of this unreal start? 

El Miz: The most surprising thing has definitely been the ball movement.  With “ball stoppers” like Carmelo, J.R., and Tyson Chandler, it has been remarkable to see the ball moving so well.  The arrival of the ageless Jason Kidd is the primary reason, as he has been drilling into Anthony’s head that moving the ball is harder to defend than one guy just taking it to the hoop.  Again, it is one of those things where once Read more...

MAMBINO’s NBA Preview Series: Most Improved, Disappointing and Regressed Teams

The MAMBINO crew came together and threw down their predictions for not just the formal NBA awards, but also for the most improved, disappointing and regressed teams for the 2012-2013 season. Our choices for MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Eastern and Western Conference winners and of course, NBA Champion will come next week.  For now, check out some work from El Mariachi and KOBEsh on the most improved, disappointing and regressed teams:

Who will be the most improved team this season?
El Mariachi: The Brooklyn Nets

The end of the 2010-2011 season was an exciting albeit disappointing one for Nets fans. The surprise trade for All-Star point guard Deron Williams was a huge move that many thought would be the major piece in bringing three-time Defensive Player of the Year and six-time All-Star center Dwight Howard to Brooklyn. But when they lost Williams’ first three games and then proceeded to lose him to injury for most of the end of the season, most Nets fans would call it a wash or quite frankly a disappointing end. But next year it could only get better. Right? No. It got worse. No matter how you look at it, the 2011-2012 season for the Nets was rougher than the year before. With the preseason stress fracture to Brook Lopez’s foot – which caused him to miss all but five games – the Nets found themselves with a 22-44 record and that they would blow everyone out in one category; total games missed due to injury totaling in 248. And with trade rumors hovering over the franchise and talks of Deron leaving after this year, it looked like the Nets were going to have to rent out their new home at the Barclays Center to the New York Wizards.

The Nets couldn’t have hit any lower than they were for the last two years which is why the 2012-2013 season is the year they have no choice but to improve and actually make it into the playoffs. 

Once Dwight was off the table, this season was quite honestly looking mighty bleak for the Nets. But the acquisition of six-time All-Star Joe Johnson and the re-signing of Williams breathed life back into the franchise and brought a sense of relief to Jay-Z that he wouldn’t have to do a show every weekend until he’s dead. The pairing of Johnson and Williams threatens to be one of the best backcourts in the league. Now that Brook Lopez is back in the fold, this is the first time in a long time that we will be seeing a healthy starting five for Brooklyn, instead of the 25 different starting lineups we saw last year.

If the Nets won (which happened…sometimes), it was because Williams put the team on his back. Now with the Brook and Johnson as his weapons, we can expect to see him spreading the ball around and being the facilitator we know he can be which should get him more looks than last yea
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