Thursday, May 25

NBA Playoffs: It's Balltastic!



In case you missed it, our pal Henry Abbott over at True Hoop talks about the latest nut-grabbing incident in the NBA. It's also features perhaps the greatest headline in the history of the world . . .

"Josh Howard Gets an Avery in the Johnson"

Youch!

Wednesday, May 24

Drafty

From now until draft day, the only thing worth talking about in Sonicland will be who Seattle will take with the 10th pick - or if they'll trade the pick for something else. With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to keep track of what the experts think the Sonics will do. Today will be the first edition of What Should the Sonics Do?

si.com - JJ Redick, Duke, SG
espn.com - Marcus Williams, UConn, PG
nbadraft.net - Cedric Simmons, NC State, PF/C
foxsports.com - Shelden Williams, Duke, PF/C
about.com - Shelden Williams
hoopshype.com - Ronnie Brewer, Arkansas, SG
insidehoops.com - Patrick O'Bryant, Bradley, C
msnbc.com - Shelden Williams
collegehoops.net - Marcus Williams
hoopsvibe.com - Ronnie Brewer

Those are just 10 of 14,367 sites compiling mock drafts at this moment. Just imagine if all of the energy spent researching draft choices for the NBA by people who don't even get paid by an NBA team were spent researching, oh, I don't know, cancer? And imagine if 3 losers from Seattle spent as much time working on their careers as much as, oh, I don't know, a blog?

I love this game!

Tuesday, May 23

Lottery

Thankfully, not making the playoffs does give teams something to get excited about in the offseason - The Lottery.

It seems as if every day draft prognosticators have different guys wearing Sonic jerseys - assuming Seattle lands the #10 pick as expected. Among the people I've seen attributed to Seattle are Mardy Collins, Ronnie Brewer, and 100 other players.

A couple of tips:

1. Everybody is "long"
2. Everybody has "exceptional quickness"
3. Everybody "needs to work on defensive positioning"
4. Everybody "reminds scouts of (insert player of same race and height here)"

With that in mind, I'm not adverse at all to Seattle dealing the pick + Danny Fortson to pickup something useful: a veteran center, perhaps?

The lottery will be starting at 4:30 pm tonight, West Coast time.

UPDATE: The lottery has ended. Bad News: The Sonics got the 10th pick. Good News: Portland dropped to fourth!

Wednesday, May 17

Ehlo: No Longer Mint

Ehlo out, Lenny in. Let the celebration begin.
Fox is expected to replace former Sonic Craig Ehlo as its Sonics color analyst with Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens, who served as a studio host this past season and will work alongside play-by-play announcer Kevin Calabro for the first time.
- - -
Ehlo’s two-year contract expired and Fox decided not to renew it, instead opening negotiations with Wilkens, who coached Ehlo in Cleveland and Atlanta.

“I have no hard feelings,” Ehlo said from his Spokane home. “I had a great two years. I got to work with Kevin Calabro, who is the best in the business, and every day I learned something from him.”

Fox executives declined to comment. But a source at Fox said the network would like to use Ehlo in another capacity, perhaps announcing college basketball games.

Meanwhile, Wilkens, whose contract negotiations are ongoing, will join a long line of sidekicks to Calabro, who since 1997 has worked with Danny Schayes, Billy McKinney, Rick Carlisle, James Donaldson and Marques Johnson, among others.

from the News Tribune
(Thanks to Ryan for the tip!)

Oh yeah, and here's the official Craig Ehlo highlight reel:

Tuesday, May 16

I Miss the Playoffs

Ever have trouble remembering your locker combination after Spring Break? 32-28-13 ... or, wait, was it 28-23-31... or wait, damn, I can’t remember.

That’s sort of how I’m feeling about the Sonics these days. I know there’s a bunch of stuff that will have to be sorted out this summer, not the least of which is where the team will be playing a few years from now, but all those issues are beginning to fade from my short-term memory.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at tonight’s wonderful matchup between the Clippers and Suns. It’s Game 5, baby, and the winner of the series will be in the Final Four (or, as Bill Rancik wisely put it last night on The Apprentice after the fifth-to-last contestant was voted off, “There’s only four left!” Now, that’s the kind of sage mathematical advice we’re looking for!).

The Suns are five point favorites at home, but nobody really knows how this game will turn. The teams have traded wins through four games, each accommodating the other in a very Canadian way. Everybody knows that Game 5s are crucial affairs, though, especially for the team without home-court advantage. Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about this series thus far:

1. Steve Nash is the 4th-leading scorer for the Suns through 4 games.
2. Boris Diaw is averaging more assists per game than anyone on the Clippers.
3. LA is out-rebounding Phoenix by nearly 15 a game.
4. While Raja Bell’s been lights-out from beyond the arc, he’s the only Suns player hitting his 3’s. Marion, Nash, Barbosa, and Thomas are all below 30%.
5. The Suns really only have 6 guys contributing on offense, while the Clippers have 8; this has to become a factor as the series wears on.
6. Does anyone know what Eddie House did to tick off Mike D’Antoni? After being a regular contributor during the season, he’s a ghost in the playoffs – especially against LA.
7. Corey Maggette’s scoring figures through five games: 23, 20, 2, 7, 18. Maybe he’s been hanging around Radman too much.

Add it all up and I’m liking the Clippers tonight – but only if Kaman is ready to go and capable of playing regular minutes. Sooner or later the Suns are going to hit their shots, and at home the emphasis has to be on the former. Still, their lack of depth is alarming, especially when Nash isn’t hitting his shots. The Clippers are doing a wonderful job on defending the 2-time MVP and forcing his teammates to hit jumpers. Rather than doubling on Nash when he drives the paint, they’re staying with their man, preventing Nash from dishing to open teammates. It’s working, and I think it’ll work again tonight.
My prediction: Clippers 102-Suns 95. And, remember, after Game 5, the next game is Game 6!

Wednesday, May 3

Self-Promotion Dept. (Vol 1)

In the non-NBA department, some of you may be wondering why I haven't been posting much. Well, after a three-year hiatus, I've returned to the sordid world of stand-up comedy. I had a little warm-up at Comedy Underground's open mic on Sunday, and starting tonight I'll be appearing every Wednesday night as part of Seattle's hottest new comedy show, Comedy Night at the Mirabeau Room on Queen Ann.

I'll probably won't be on stage that much tonight, but the line-up includes some of the Seattle's top young comics, so it's worth checking out. Did I mention Digital Underground's Humpty Hump was in last week's show? Who knows who will show up this week? Maybe Alton Lister!

(For more info go to myspace.com/paulmerrill.)

Dynamite

Five things gleaned from watching two fun games last night (Heat-Bulls, Lakers-Suns):

1. Steve Kerr (on TNT) mentioned during the 4th quarter of the Heat-Bulls game that this has been the most competitive first round he can remember. No arguments here.

2. GP got the majority of the minutes in the 4th quarter last night - even though I saw Hinrich burn him at least twice, badly. Still, it's nice to see Gary running the point for a team that's winning in the playoffs.

3. You know how when you play a pickup game and a guy launches an obviously bad shot the entire gym echoes with "Off!"? I'm convinced that when Shawn Marion was a kid, every time he shot people said the same thing. Do his jumpers ever look like they're going down?

4. Raja Bell = Bruce Bowen = Bill Laimbeer = Danny Ainge = Players only fans of that team can root for. That's got to be one of the ugliest plays in awhile, especially when you see the look on Bell's face as Kobe was going by him. Bell looked like he was eagerly anticipating choking him. He has to be suspended, in my opinion, for at least a game.

5. I don't think I've ever looked forward to non-Sonic Game 6 as much as I'm looking forward to Suns-Lakers on Thursday. In fact, I hope the NBA doesn't suspend Bell, just so the Suns can't trot out any more excuses why they didn't win and we can see both of these teams at more or less even strength. If this was series was a pot of water, it was already bubbling before Bell clotheslined Kobe; now, the steam is filling the kitchen.

Monday, May 1

Playoff Report

DENVER - APRIL 29: Andre Miller #24 of the Denver Nuggets dishes the ball back out of the key under defensive pressure from Elton Brand #42, Cuttino Mobley #5 and Vladimir Radmanovic #7 of the Los Angeles Clippers as Reggie Evans #30 of the Nuggets follows the play in game four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2006 NBA Playoffs on April 29, 2006 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. The Clippers defeated the Nuggets 100-86, taking a 3-1 lead in the series.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Vladi looks for a rebound, while Reggie looks for some nuts to grab.

Maybe I'm the only one who cares about this sort of thing, but I was curious to see how the players Seattle traded during the season are doing in the playoffs. Here's a quick look:

1. Vladimir Radmanovic - 8.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 7-15 from 3-point range
Radman hasn't had a breakout series, only going for double figures once, and that was in the weekend's blowout win over the Nuggets. He's averaging 20 minutes a night, which is a respectable number, but I'm sure he'd love to be playing more.

2. Reggie Evans - 4.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg
Evans hasn't seen many minutes, either, even with Kenyon Martin on the DNP list. As the backup PF, Evans' rebounds have gone from 16 in the first two games to 6 in the last two.

3. Flip Murray - 8.3 ppg
Flip continues to struggle from long range (2 of 10), but his 19 points Sunday against the Wizards was the best game of any of the former Sonics. Flip's minutes have been strange, 30+ twice and fewer than 15 twice.

(Editor's note: It looks like Reggie is getting very busy in the playoffs! - Paul)