Sunday, January 22, 2012

Games of the Week: January 23-29, 2012.

Well, the Niners lost.  Sonofabitch.  Well, at least I don't have to watch football anymore.  Thanks for getting me through the lockout.

Anyways, we should get to the games of the week for January 23-29, 2012.  Always next year, Alex.

Monday: Sacramento Kings at Portland Trailblazers (7:00 PM PST)

Really?  The Kings?

Sure, why not?  Head coach Keith Smart, who replaced Paul Westphal after a 2-5 start and bizarre spat with DeMarcus Cousins, has gone 5-6 since taking over the job.  I thought Keith Smart did a nice job in Golden State last season, so I'm not surprised that the Kings are showing early signs of improvement under Smart's tutelage. They've gotten wins in Indiana and San Antonio, impressively, both on the road.  In the Blazers, the Kings have a team they hope they can model their development after.  The two teams have similarly built rosters, with good, young power forwards in Cousins and LaMarcus Aldridge, and tall, young, high scoring backcourts with Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton for Sacto, and Wes Matthews and Ray Felton for Portland. Furthermore, I'm actually excited to see The Jimmer, who has averaged a respectable eight points per game in about 22 minutes per game. If Sacramento shows up to play, I think this will be a good, competitive game.

Tuesday: Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers (4:00 PM PST)

The Dwight Howard Trade Rumor Sideshow takes its act to Indianapolis for a matchup between two presumed playoff teams.  The matchup on the court is a good one, with two programs that have built success upon their defense, but also feature quality shooters from the outside.  But guaranteed, all discussion will be about Dwight Howard's eventual destination.  Interestingly, a number of reports have indicated that Dwight Howard and embattled GM Otis Smith have not been on speaking terms since Dwight made his trade request in mid December.  Despite this veritable Cold War between player and manager, Smith has repeatedly stated that the organization's preference, and goal, is to resign Dwight for the long term.  This will end well.

Wednesday: LA Clippers at LA Lakers (7:30 PM PST)

What will be evident in this second Battle of Los Angeles is the divergent paths of these two clubs' guard corps.  The Clippers may be without their star point guard, who has missed four straight games with a busted hammy.  Recently, though, that hasn't mattered, with Chauncey Billups, Mo Williams and Randy Foye providing scoring, passing and nice perimeter defense.  The Lakers, meanwhile, seem to have major issues to address concerning their currently rostered guards.  While Kobe has been his typically prolific self, he's not getting much help from either Steve Blake or Derek Fisher.  Fisher looks about ready to be put out to pasture, and his numbers reflect it, with career lows in points, minutes, as well as turnovers per 36 minutes played.  I expect the Clippers, with or without CP3, to run circles around Blake and Fisher.  Kobe's going to need some help in the backcourt pretty soon.

Thursday: Memphis Grizzlies at LA Clippers (7:30 PM PST)

Yeah, I'm underwhelmed, too.  The only other option was Magic at Boston, and watching Boston these days is like watching the first 15 minutes of Up.  It just makes me sad.

Friday: New York Knicks at Miami Heat (5:00 PM PST)

If Mike D'Antoni still has a job by Friday, I would have to imagine that this game will play an important role in determining whether he still has that job by the end of the season.  The Knicks, whom many had favored to win the Atlantic division before the season started, have wildly underachieved.  At 6-10, they're currently third in the Atlantic, and are losers of six straight.  Amar'e and Melo have had little on court cohesion, little of which is offset by the team's pathetically shallow bench.  D'Antoni and the team are putting their fortunes in soon-to-return point guard Baron Davis, who is being counted on to learn and run D'Antoni's high-octane offense in fairly short order.  Counting on Baron Davis to be at least some modicum of Steve Nash, at this point in his career, is sort of like counting on your Ford Taurus to do well at the Indy 500.  If the Knicks lose big to the Heat on national television, I wouldn't be surprised if D'Antoni was out of a job by Monday.

Saturday: Sacramento Kings at Utah Jazz (6:00 PM PST)

Picture this: you've just come home from work, and you didn't stop to get something to eat from your favorite burger or falafel place.  You know you're not going to cook, so you open your fridge, and pray that there's something that fulfils the basic requirements for dinner: (1) plentiful, and (2) edible.  Upon investigation, your options aren't great.  The pasta from last week looks a bit ragged.  You don't wanna eat that damn Trader Joe's soup again.  And you still can't eat baking soda for dinner, try as you might.  So, you close the fridge, and turn to cereal.  It's your best option.

Yep.  That's Kings at Jazz. That night,  it's your best option.  I'll probably go out that night.

Sunday: Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat (12:30 PM PST)

Now we're talking. This sunday, on ABC, number one and number two in the Eastern conference square off in a rematch of last year's Eastern conference finals.  As the season goes on, it's becoming increasingly clear that the East is a two horse race, and these are your two horses, ladies and gents.  Both teams are a bit banged up at the moment, with the Bulls' Derrick Rose (turf toe) and the Heat's Dwayne Wade (ankle) both missing a few games over the last week.  Last season, Chicago was unable to find enough scoring to counter the triple attack of LeBron, Wade and Bosh.  Provided that Rose and newcomer Rip Hamilton play, we will finally see if Chicago has made at least some of the adjustments needed to beat the Heat come playoff time.  I'm very excited for this game.

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