Thursday, March 31

Playoffs R Us!

Brad Miler is a pussy.


We would often be sorry if our wishes were gratified.
-- Aesop (620-560 BC)


Anyone else ever have a birthday where you didn’t exactly get what you were hoping for? I remember one year where instead of a caseload of Topps baseball cards I got a matching sweat suit. Maroon, I think.

Well, that’s kind of how I’m looking at the playoffs this year; equal parts anxiety and zeal. Mix in the fact that the Sonics will likely draw the Kings in the first round, a team that has weathered all sorts of injuries and turmoil this year, and my anxiety dial ratchets up to 11.

Let’s look at these Kings, then, in the first part of what I hope to be a series of articles on who the Sonics can expect to face in the playoffs this spring.

----

These are not the Kings of five years ago, a team so deep that they inspired fans to wear “Da Bench Mob” t-shirts in honor of their substitutes. With Bobby Jackson sidelined with a sprained left wrist, Brad Miller out with a broken leg until the 2nd round of the playoffs, Chris Webber in Philly, and Vlade in L.A., Mike Bibby has been forced to pick up the slack.

And while he’s been a rock for the team since Webber was dealt, Bibby’s minutes are approaching a Latrell Sprewell-in-Golden State level. After never playing more than 36 mpg in any season in Sac, Bibby’s at 39 this season, and above 40 over the past two months. After an incredible February that saw him average 26 ppg on 49% shooting, Bibby has crashed back to earth, averaging 19 points on 39% shooting in March (including 30% from beyond the arc).

While Bibby is helped by Cuttino Mobley’s offense, he sorely needs someone to come of the bench and provide him with some rest. Recently, that player has been Eddie House, a decent long-ball threat but not the spark that Jackson has been throughout his career.

Here’s some numbers. In their past four games, the Kings have gotten the following point totals from their bench: 17, 20, 11, 16. Compare that to the Sonics over the same four-game span: 36, 27, 42, 18.

Now, that’s an admittedly small sample size, and the Lakers never got a bunch of scoring from their bench in the midst of three consecutive titles, but even when he’s healthy, Brad Miller ain’t Shaq, and Mike Bibby isn’t Kobe Bryant (ed. note: insert joke here).

To me, the Sonics’ depth speaks to their ability to withstand foul trouble and injuries. If Ray Allen misses a game, Flip Murray steps up. When Rashard goes down, Wilkins comes in and takes charge. For crying out loud, does anyone even remember what Radmanovic even looks like?

Even better for the Sonics, the Kings are a team with high expectations, and after a dismal showing in the playoffs last season and pulling a 6 in the playoffs this go-around, some in Sac are getting a little antsy.

Add in the fact the Sonics are 3-0 against the Kings this year, and you can’t blame the Sonics for wishing that Sac falls into their lap.

On Monday: A look at the Kings, player by player.
On Tuesday: How the Kings and Sonics match up.

Tuesday, March 29

Nate Dogg: Love Him Now


You can't deny it. He's a (gosh darn) rider.
Hold up, heyyyyyyyy
for my (contemporaries) who be thinkin we soft
We don't, playyyyyyy
We gon' rock it til the wheels fall off
Hold up, heyyyyyyyy
for my (peer group) who be actin too bold
Take a, seeaaaaaat
Hope you ready for the next episode

Item 1: ESPN NBA columnist Mark Stein endorses Nate McMillan's candidacy for Coach of the Year.

Item 2: Speaking of the next episode, THE SONICS JUST CLINCHED A PLAYOFF SPOT.

Uh, contract extension?

~chunkstyle23

Monday, March 28

Oh That Danny! Part Three

Danny Fortson is suspended... again!

Not only did the Sonics miss a chance to clinch a playoff spot in last night's home loss to the Wiz, they also missed Danny "What For?" Fortson due to (wait for it) his third suspension!

According to the Seattle Times, thing's have gotten so bad that Fortson may not play another game for the Sonics.

Oh that Danny, will he never win?

Friday, March 25

New York, New York!

Luke Ridnour (aka Frodo)
Frodo a go-go!

Larry Fleisher, of the excellent Knicks blog "Father Knickerbocker", has done us the honor of writing a preview of tonight's game:
About the Knicks:

The Knicks (29-37) have won eight of 12 since the deals for Maurice Taylor and Malik Rose added useful bodies and depth. But only three of those games were on the road, where theKnicks only wins in 16 away games in 2005 were against Atlanta and Utah.

Unlike the last long trip, the Knicks are healthy. Only Penny Hardaway is hurt and Kurt Thomas, their best defensive player is likely to return from his sore left elbow.

New York is battling with the Sixers, Nets and Magic for the final playoff spot in the East. The Knicks currently sit 3 1/2 games behind the Sixers, who host the Raptors tonight.

Earlier in the year, defense was a problem for the Knicks. But they have allowed less than 100 points in eight straight games and in 11 of their last 15.

The Knicks are coming off a pair of impressive home wins vs. division leaders.

On Monday, they didn't have to face Tim Duncan and used a 25-1 run in the second half to beat the Spurs, 88-75. Stephon Marbury scored 31 points, including the last 13 of the third quarter.

Two nights later, the Knicks didn't back down from the Celtics cockiness and rolled to an 107-82 victory.

Jamal Crawford led six Knicks with 21 points. Two of those points were a pass to himself off the glass resulting in a dunk.

Probable Starters and comments about them:

F - Tim Thomas, 11.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG - Play has picked up in the last two months as has willingness to attck the basket.

F - Mike Sweetney, 8.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG - Biggest body on the low block but prone to foul trouble.

C - Kurt Thomas, 11.8 PPG, 10.3 RPG - Knicks most consistent performer with 24 double-doubles and skills to hit mid-range jumpers on pick-and-roll plays.

G - Jamal Crawford, 17.2 PPG, 4.2 APG - A Seattle native, who is a streaky shooter. But recent effective play at the point has made him an even bigger weapon. Should also be hyped to be playing in front of family and friends.

G - Stephon Marbury, 21.2 PPG, 8.1 APG - Can take over a game at any given moment when he attacks the hole.

Last Meeting and Series History:

The Knicks last met the Sonics on March 13 at the Garden. They took a five-point lead into the fourth quarter but were handed a 90-80 loss ending a seven-game home winning streak.

Knicks have lost their last two visits to Seattle and five of their last games here.
I wrote a preview of the Sonics for his site - check it out here.

Damien Wilkins: This is your LIFE!

Damien Wilkins of the Seattle Sonics

Damien Wilkins scored 21 points to lead the Sonics over the Portland Trailblazers Thursday night, 96-91.

Let me say that again.

Damien "1.2 points per game" Wilkins scored 21 FREAKING POINTS to lead the Sonics over the Portland Trailblazers Thursday night, 96-91.

"The Omen" (as Damien Wilkins shall now be referred to as), filling in for an ailing Rashard Lewis (noooo!!!), sealed the deal with a steal and a dunk to end the game.

Damn.

Thursday, March 24

Ringy-Dingy!

official t-shirt of the unofficial Seattle Sonics blog

We have a ringer! And now you too can have the official t-shirt of the unofficial Seattle Sonics blog. Go. Buy. Now.

Three. It's the magic number.

According to today's Seattle P-I, three is a magic number:
The Sonics are only days from clinching their first playoff berth in three years. Any number of Seattle victories and Minnesota losses that adds up to three will make the Sonics the third team in the West to clinch a playoff spot.
O.K., so we were off by four... big whoop!

Wednesday, March 23

Rashard for Mayor

Fanfreakintastic win last night for the Supes, with Rashard Lewis well on his way to making sure all of us remember that Ray Allen isn’t the only superstar on this team. Rid did his job in hitting open shots, Shard passed out of the double-teams he’s going to start seeing all the more, and, well, nobody else really stepped up so I’ll quit while I’m ahead.

And, more importantly, Rashard laid two more classic quotes on us after the game. To wit:

"It just feels like no one man can stop me.”

And, in reference to the previous game between the Bucks and Sonics:

“They kind of laid us on their laps and just spanked us.”

Great stuff there. Anyway, here’s a stat I’ll bet you hadn’t heard. The Potato has played 10+ minutes in five games for the Sonics this season. Seattle’s record in those five games?

5-0.

Tuesday, March 22

Black and White

Paul Silas, former Sonic, Celtic, and now, coach.

This may be of interest only to me, but with Paul Silas getting the ax the other day, it's worth bringing up:
-From the New York Times:
"Over the last decade, black NBA coaches have lasted an average of just 1.6 seasons, compared with 2.4 seasons for white coaches. That means the typical white coach lasts almost 50 percent longer and has most of an extra season to prove himself. Silas was in his second season with the team. "Our white counterparts are given more the benefit of the doubt," Silas said in an interview in January. "Things have changed dramatically in our society, but it still has a long way to go."
I'd like to think there is some logical reason why this is the case, and it's possible that Jerry Sloan alone could swing the numbers in favor of whites (in fact, I'd like to see what the averages are with Sloan out of the picture). Still, it's worth mentioning.

Sonic Notes

Here's some random Sonic stuff:

According to 82games.com, the 3 most valuable Sonics this season have been Allen, Lewis, and ... Antonio Daniels. Which should be no surprise to anyone who's read anything I've written in the last four months. I'm telling you, AD is the real deal. ... Another site has entered the Sonic websphere, www.unll.net ... Allen is still a game-time decision for tonight against the Bucks, but Nate seems to be leaning towards sitting him. ... According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, the Cavs could be interested in Ray Allen this offseason.

Monday, March 21

Class of '89 RULES!

Percy Allen notes in today's Seattle Times that three members of the 88-89 Sonics are now NBA head coaches. And no, Mike Champion is not one of them.

Clutch

Fantastic win last night over the Lakers. No Allen, no Radman, no JJ, no Fortson, and the Sonics still pull it out. All together now: Thank you, Front Office, for not dealing away Flip at the deadline.

That said, without Radman for 4-6 weeks, I'm a little less confident in the Sonics' run to the playoffs. Add in a dose of uncertainty over Ray's ankle, and I'm borderline worried.

Question of the day: How's Ray's ankle? Anybody know the scoop? From reading the game reports, it sounds like it's still day-to-day.

Sunday, March 20

Magic Number Update

After the Sonics win against the Lakers Sunday night, the Supes' Magic Number to clinch the Northwest Division is now 8.

How tough will it be to get those 8 Sonics wins/Nuggets losses? Here are a few factors to consider:


SEA DEN
Current W-L
45-20 35-30
Remaining Games
17 17
Home/Away
8/9 9/8
vs. .500+ teams
8 10
->home/away
3/5 5/5


Remaining vs. Western Conference Top 8



SEA






DEN







San Antonio

1






1







Phoenix

0






2







Seattle

--






1







Dallas

2






0







Sacramento

1






1







Houston

2






1







Memphis

1






2







Denver

1






--








The Sonics visit Denver on April 9. One would hope that, with a 10-game lead, the Sonics would have the division sewn up by then, but with all the injuries that are plaguing the Sonics and the Nuggets surging lately, that game could be what people like to call, "significant."

Friday, March 18

Shut Up, Ray

Ray Allen of the Seattle Sonics

"Much of your pain is self-chosen."

~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923

There are 19 games remaining in the season. 19 games until the playoffs and all the wonder that would bring, capping a glorious season of rebirth for the Sonics and their fans. With expectations sagging lower than, as Dan Rather would put it, your Uncle Horace's ass after a night of carousin', this team has confounded all doubters and risen to the top of the Western Conference.

Yet all that joy is being ripped down by the discontent of seemingly one man - Ray Allen.

For two games now, Detroit and Chicago, Allen has groused about the inability of the offense to get him the ball, ignoring the fact he has shot below 40% from the field for the month.

Allen has been a man of contradictions. Asked why he was not getting many shots, Allen said, “I’m not getting any looks. You got to talk to the coach.”

That was on Wednesday. On Thursday, he had changed his tune, admonishing Rashard Lewis for his comments regarding certain unnamed teammates that seem to be more interested in themselves than the team. Quoth Mr. Allen: "We can't splinter when we lose a game."

Really, Ray? Is that why you've been bitching so much lately? Or is complaining about whiny teammates different than whining about your coach? The same coach who has guided this team to an amazing record, who will be hired before his plane touches down should he decide to leave Seattle?

Dammit, this is exactly why Ray Allen is a loser. From never making the Final Four at UConn, to never doing crap in the playoffs with Milwaukee, to the same thing in Seattle, the guy is only interested in his own achievements. In his own words, “There are two people on this team that are supposed to shoot the ball, that’s me and Rashard.” When faced with a difficult situation, presented with a team that has been losing more frequently than it had been used to over the previous five months, Allen didn't step up and take the pressure upon himself. No, he complained about not getting enough minutes. (He also compared his situation to that of Michael Jordan's in Chicago, and the rest of his teammates to Will Perdue. Nice, Ray).

Well, Ray, despite your belief that the entire world is out to get you, it isn’t so. McMillan hasn’t reduced your third quarter minutes because of some irrational reason, he’s reduced them for the good of the team – because you were in foul trouble and, well, because the team was playing just fine without you.

All of which makes me wonder – are Ray’s complaints about minutes because of the team’s lack of success, or because each point he doesn’t get means a few less dollars in the free agent market? Being that he was bitching after a fantastic win over the Bulls the other night, I’m leaning toward the latter.

That being the case, let me be the first to say:

Shut up, Ray, and when June comes, keep on walking.

Wednesday, March 16

Oh that Danny, Part Two



Remember how Danny Fortson fouled out in just six minutes the other night? Well, that's not all he did - he also managed to injure himself, forcing him to miss Wednesday night's loss to the Pistons. Truly a remarkable individual.

I love Danny, but if you missed as much work as Da Fort has in the past month (for various bizarre reasons) would you still have a job?

Detroit, part two

The Sonics are playing the world champion Detroit Pistons as we speak, er, write. The Sonics beat them last week, so here's hoping they can do it again!

Oh that Danny!



Something amazing happened during last night's 99-93 victory over the Chicago Bulls, and it wasn't Reggie Evans grabbing 19 rebounds in 27 minutes. Nope. It was our man, Danny Fortson, wrangling a near NBA record six fouls in just six minutes!

Here are the quickest exits in NBA history, courtesy of the Seattle PI:
12/29/97 Bubba Wells, Dallas, 3 minutes
3/12/56 Dick Farley, Syracuse, 5 minutes
12/22/00 Mark Bryant, Dallas, 5 minutes
3/15/05 Danny Fortson, Seattle, 6 minutes*
*Several other players have collected six fouls in six minutes
We here at Supersonicsoul would like to salute Da Fort on this magnificent achievement. Huzzah!

Monday, March 14

Quote of the Day: Rashard Lewis

From The Seattle Times:

"This is real basketball to me, I think, the way the game should be played," Rashard Lewis said. "I don't think you should make a call every time somebody makes a move to the basket and you barely even touch them. I don't think that's man basketball. I think that's WNBA basketball."

Lewis was commenting on the perceived decrease in hand-check fouls called by referees in the Sonics' three recent losses. I think we can make it a given that any swipe at the WNBA automatically qualifies as a Quote of the Day from hereon.

Friday, March 11

Game Night: Chi-lite

Andres Nocioni of the Chicago Bulls
Who?!

The 3-game skid. Not unlike movie sequels, the third of three is always the worst (or did you think Back to the Future 3, Revenge of the Jedi, and Aliens3 were the climax of those respective series?).

Well, the Sonics are on the brink of losing three in a row, and the Chicago Bulls have enough firepower and we-don’t-know-why-we’re-winning-but-who-cares uncertainty to put a scare into even the most loyal of Seattle hoop fans.

The Bulls are a weird team to figure out. They don’t have a go-to guy, unless you count Ben Gordon, but if he’s their man, why’s he averaging less than 25 minutes a game since the All-Star break? Eddy Curry has emerged recently has an above-average center when it comes to scoring points, but he’s led the team in rebounding all of two times since the first of January. Yet, the Bulls are 31-18 since starting the season 0-9, and that means they’re definitely in the “Be Careful” category for the Sonics.

If you’re going to the game tonight, or if, like me, you’re stuck at home, here’s a quick look at some of the key players on the Bulls:

Andres Nocioni – Never heard of him? Neither had I. A 6’7” small forward, Nocioni has started the past four games since Luol Deng went down with an injury. He’s played well in that time, averaging 12/8 and logging some solid minutes. He began the year taking alot more 3’s, but since then he’s gone more to shorter jump shots and taken the ball into the lane, with improved results.

Eddy Curry – Chicago’s resident Center-of-the-Future, Curry has come on as the season has progressed, showing signs of brilliance and, more often, ineptitude. He’s equally capable of scoring 25 with 8 boards against the Blazers as he did on Wednesday, or 9 points with no rebounds, like his effort against the Spurs a week ago. Can he hurt the Sonics? Definitely.

Kirk Hinrich –Hinrich’s not a bad shooter, witness his near 40% mark from 3-point land in January, but he’s not a great decision-maker on what shots are best. Face it, a guard shouldn’t shoot below 40% from the field for the year, unless every shot is beyond the arc. Nonetheless, he gets his points and is the best player on this team now that Deng’s out. At 6’3” and 190 he’s not going to overpower anybody, but he’s absolutely capable of schooling young Luke. With AD questionable for tonight’s game, the Sonics could have trouble stopping him.

Othella Harrington – The Big Fella has always been a puzzle to his followers. I loved the guy when he played in Vancouver for his ability to get his points and boards on a consistent basis – and moreso for his skewering of the locals (when asked why he didn’t like Vancouver, Harrington replied, “Cuz it’s always raining, man.”). A strong presence down low, Harrington could have some fun matches with Fortson tonight. The Bulls play better when he’s on the court, much the same way the Sonics did earlier in the year when Fortson was able to provide offense and some punch off the bench.

All that said, this is a crucial game – in my mind – for the Sonics. 7 of their next 11 are on the road, with most of those 11 against playoff teams. A loss tonight could push the team into a tailspin – the last thing they need as the playoffs near. Fortunately, if the Sonics have shown one ability above all others this year, it’s resiliency. Whether via injuries or a doubting public, Nate’s crew has shown repeatedly that they are a legitimate contender. I’m guessing they’ll show us again tonight.

Spread: Sonics by 7 ½
Prediction: Sonics 102 – Bulls 90
Record Against the Spread: 15-12

Tuesday, March 8

Game Night: Rock Steady



Is anyone else's all-time favorite Sonic memory the incredible run they made back in the spring of 1987, knocking off the Mavs and the Rockets before falling to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals? I vividly recall racing home after baseball practice to watch Seattle take on Sampson, Olajuwon & Co. For crying out loud, a double OT deciding game, Bernie Bickerstaff getting named coach of the year, Dale Ellis is most improved ... man, the good times were gonna roll for us weren't they?

Well, it didn't quite happen as expected. Ellis, X, and Chambers couldn't maintain the glory they achieved that year, and it took almost ten years before Seattle rose to that sort of level again.

With my rambling done, let's look at tonight's game. In their only meeting this season, Seattle knocked off Houston 87-85 thanks in part to 10 more FTAs, a 50-37 rebounding edge, and in spite of hitting only 4 of 25 3 pointers. Yao took the Sonics to school, scoring 30 points before fouling out - a big reason why Seattle outscored Houston 26-19 in the 4th quarter.

Some writers will lead you to believe the loss to the Sonics was the switch that turned off the Rockets' red glare. After all, before their loss to Seattle, Houston had won 8 straight. Following that game, they went on a slide the featuring 3 straight losses.

I think the real culprit is Bobby Sura's back, though. After putting up Oscar Roberston-like numbers (or at least Fat Lever-like) for a couple of months, Sura's back has caused him to miss the last 6 games, during which time Houston's gone 2-4. A coincidence? I think not.

Since it looks like Sura won't play tonight, I think the smart money is on the Sonics. Hey, if they can knock off the Pistons at home, they shouldn't have any trouble with the Rockets.

Spread: Sonics by 4
Prediction: Seattle 96 - Rockets 87
Record against the spread: 15-11

Reggie the Rebounder

Seriously, can we get working on a nickname for Reggie Evans? According to this article from espn's John Hollinger, the guy's having an historical rebounding season, among the rarified air of Dennis Rodman. It's a good article, written by a guy who's knowledge of basketball stats is Rainman-esque.

I think I heard Calabro call him "The Collector," but while that's a wonderful name, it conjures up - at least to me - an image of the fat comic book store guy on The Simpsons. How about "The Recoverer?"

Monday, March 7

SLAM Cover Boy: Ray Allen


Cribbed from Slamonline.com

This month's SLAM magazine features none other than Seattle's own Ray Allen on the cover (West Coast, anyway). For someone who sports zero tattoos, Ray gets a decent write-up from a mag that panders a bit much to the white kids who like the gangsta rap 'cuz it frightens their parents. (I love to read the letters to the editor, where suburban kids hilariously try out their flimsy grasp of Ebonics.) (Despite all that, I've been a fan since Issue #1 with Larry Johnson and only missed a coupla issues during the strike year, but I digress.)

Bonus Seattle Content!
On page 39 there's a shot of Kevin Calabro droppin' knowledge as a part of their rave about NBA League Pass. Excerpt:
League Pass is all about tuning in to Sonics games to hear Kevin Calabro, probably the best play-by-play announcer in the League not on national TV. His smooth, laid-back delivery and constant command of the action is one of League Pass' greatest pleasures.
Slam hasn't given Seattle this much love since Shawn Kemp rocked the high top fade. This almost makes up for the ugly-ass Gary Payton cover they ran a few years back, where he looks like a velociraptor.

For some reason, I got mailed the East Coast version with Dwyane "Dwayne" Wade. Last I checked, Renton was on the Left side of the map. But I ain't complainin'. If you're not a subscriber, the issue should be on store shelves soon, so keep an eye out.

Power Ranking Rankings

While wondering whether God uses a "Power Ranking" to determine who gets into Heaven, and where Mohammed would fit on that list, I thought I'd check and see where all these "Power Rankings" have the Sonics.

1. Marc Stein, espn: Sonics ranked #3, Suns #1
2. Marty Burns si: Sonics #3, Suns #1
3. Tony Mejia, cbs: Sonics #6, Spurs #1
4. Mike Greenfield, teamrankings.com: Sonics #4, Spurs #1
5. HoopsHype: Sonics #5, Spurs #1
6. InsideHoops: Sonics #3, Spurs #1
7. basketball.com: Sonics #5, Heat #1
8. JDeuce, sportscolumns.com: Sonics #2, Suns #1
9. Percy Allen, Seattle Times: Sonics #3, Spurs #1
10. Hank's Power Picks: Sonics #4, Spurs #1
11. nba.com: Sonics #4, Spurs #1

What does all this mean? Nothing, other than I have too much time on my hands today.

Friday, March 4

Game Night: Detroit Rock City



This isn't the same Pistons team that Larry Brown was bemoaning earlier in the year. Well, being that Larry would bemoan St. Peter for his inability to defend the screen and roll adequately (hey, Larry, you try moving laterally in leather sandals), maybe that's not a good opening statement.

In any event, the Pistons are hotter than a '79 Buick with a leaky radiator. On Jan. 26, Detroit stood at 23-18, hardly a record befitting a defending champion. As of today, they're 36-20, which even for a math-plagued guy like me means they've gone 13-2 in that time, including a recent 8-game win streak the Suns snapped the other night.

How have they done it? Simple - rebounding, defense, and an improved Tayshaun Prince. Even in their loss to the Suns, Detroit outrebounded Nash & Co. 56-37, and only a 34-point 4Q enabled the Suns to grab a close (100-97) win.

No, the Sonics are going to be in trouble tonight. The Pistons hold opponents to a eFG% of only 45.9%, compared to Seattle's nearly 50% (yeah, that's right, eFG, eFG = Effective FG% = (FGM+3PM/2)/FGA)). They don't commit alot of fouls (either offensively or defensively) and they defend the hell out of the interior. You want to know the difference between a team with good interior defense (Detroit) and one that, well, isn't so good (Seattle)? Here it is: On close-range shots Seattle's opponents make 59% of their shots. Detroit's foes? 49%.

Luckily, the Sonics are back home and Detroit is playing its fifth road game in a week. The line says Sonics by a point and a half. I say take the Pistons and the points and run to your nearest bookie.

WORTH NOTING: The Suns were able to knock down their 3's against the Pistons, connecting on 11 of 20. That's a good sign for the Sonics ... Tayshaun Prince has emerged as a scoring threat for Detroit, keying their run. He averaged 20 ppg in February, and followed up a 48% 3-point pct. in Jan. with a 46% mark in Feb. ... Sonic stat of the month for February: AD posted 14 assists for every turnover he committed. For perspective, Luke had the next best mark with a 4:1 ratio.

Prediction: Pistons 95 - Sonics 88
Record Against the Spread: 15-10

Thursday, March 3

Ray for MVP?



Am I the only one puzzled that Ray Allen isn't getting any serious consideration for MVP? Marc Stein's latest piece mentions Duncan and - ugh - Steve Nash, but Allen is relegated to a second tier.

My question is, why? I can see if Nash's team was head and shoulders above the Sonics, but I fail to see why a 3.5 game lead (Phoenix over Seattle) means one team is light years ahead of the other. Throw in the fact that Ray's got one all-star teammate to Nash's two, and it seems to me Ray is worth some mentioning.

Of course, you can add in that Duncan is playing with only one all-star, but Tony Parker is easily better than the third-best Sonic (Radman? AD? Luke?), so Allen's got the edge there, too.

No, I'm starting to think that the Ray-for-MVP bandwagon ought to have some more people on it, and if we can't say it, then who can?

Magic Number Update

With the Sonics win in Cleveland last night and the "T-Woes©" losing at home to G-State, the Magic Number for Seattle to win the division is now a combination of Sonics wins and Nuggets losses.

That number? Fourteen, baby!

*T-Woes used with the express written consent of Alan. © 2005 Patents pending all rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 2

Game Night: Cadaverliers

Okay, the game's already started, so it's a bit late to be issuing predictions. Obviously, the Sonics can't be expected to take 2-of-2 in a back-to-back east coast swing ... can they?

No, they can't. Smart money is on Cleveland to cover the 3 points, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Sonics will cover - and win.

Final score? Sonics 99 - Cavs 93.

Sonics leaving Seattle?!

Master of Coffee Howard Shultz
Ho-Shu: "The Key blows!"

According to the Seattle Weekly, Howard Shultz is threatening to sell the team if Key Arena isn't expanded... again:
Are the Sonics leaving Seattle? The team says it won't play that game to get an expanded venue, as the Seahawks and Mariners have. But without another expansion of city-owned KeyArena, owner and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says he might be forced to sell the team. Then the new owner can move it. It's extortion by another name, and the strategy is to snare $205 million in additional taxpayer money to expand KeyArena and add new profit-making concessions and VIP seating.

Read the rest at the Seattle Weekly (scroll down)
And I don't blame 'em one bit! No sir, I can barely stomach watching a game at that decrepit, almost a decade-old arena. Can you tell I'm being sarcastic? Oh good.

(Thanks to Susan for the story!)

Tuesday, March 1

Rank amateurs

According to ESPN.com, the Sonics are the 33rd-best franchise in sports. Their best ranking came in "Bang for the Buck" (i.e., wins per dollar), while the worst ranking came in affordability (i.e., how much it costs to go to a game). Among NBA teams, the Sonics finished 11th.

It's more interesting if you break it down by city. The Sonics easily outdistance the Seahawks and - surprise! - Mariners. The M's were undone by their bloated payroll and last year's craptacular season. In fact, the M's finished 90th in "Bang for the Buck", while notching a #4 spot in the stadium category. Oddly, Paul Allen's Seahawks ranked first in ownership among the 3 teams, with the Sonics 2nd and M's 3rd. I don't think Bob Whitsitt had a vote, though.

Game Night: Pick Up the Pace



Two teams coming off crappy games meet tonight in Indy. The Pacers flopped against the Knicks, while the Sonics got crammed in Milwaukee recently, ending both club's respective winning streaks.

Lucky for the Sonics, Jermaine O'Neal, Jamaal Tinsley, and Jeff Foster are all questionably healthy, while Seattle is relatively injury-free. Here's a look at the matchups:

PF: O'Neal v Evans - The edge goes to INDIANA, naturally, but with Seattle this position isn't truly Evans' alone. With the depth of the Sonics, look for O'Neal to be winded by the 4th.

SF: Lewis v Jackson - Stephen Jackson has come on since his run-in in Detroit earlier this year, and is scoring almost as well as Lewis recently. Still, Shard's the all-star, and the edge goes to SEATTLE.

C: Pollard v James - Neither one of these guys is worth his weight in paper, let alone gold. Obviously, a PUSH.

SG: Allen v Miller - The Ancient Pacer is still capable of lighting it up (witness his 36-point outing 2 weeks ago), but come on, this is ALLEN's world, and Reggie's only living in it.

PG: Ridnour v Johnson - Now in his 8th season, Anthony Johnson is getting more minutes this season than any year since his rookie campaign. I'm sure his family is delighted, but Ridnour is clearly the better shooter, and is equal to AJ in nearly every other category. Edge to SEATTLE.

Bench: Normally, this would be a push, but with Indiana devastated by Artest's insanity, and the plethora of injuries they're enduring, SEATTLE and its' triumverate of Daniels, Radman, and Fortson/Collison/Potato clearly is more powerful off the bench.

Prediction: Sonics 98 - Pacers 90
Spread: Sonics by 1
Record Against the Spread this Year: 14-10