What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Saturday, March 30, 2013

SDH Presents Friday's Euroleague Basketball Top 16 Highlights: Week 13 (3/29/2013)

The Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 playoffs trudges on with eight teams continuing to fight tooth and nail in order to reach Championship glory.  Here are highlights of the best moments of the four games that were played yesterday on an action packed Friday Night.

Caja Laboral claims season-saving win on the road in Moscow, Russia against BC Khimki.

Alba Berlin blasts Lithuanian Zalgiris Kuanas in the German team's final home game.

Austrailian teammates Nate Jawai and Joe Ingles led FC Barcelona to its 11th straight win at the expense of Montepaschi Siena.


And finally, Greek Olympiacos Piraeus rallied late in the game to come back and beat Fenerbahce Ulker.

As always, you can join in "Feel(ing) the Devotion" by watching live streaming video of all the top 16 teams on http://www.euroleague.tv and do not forget to check on Slap Dog Hoops for all the scores, recaps and highlights

SDH Presents NBA Nightly Highlights (3/29/2013)

Just four games in the NCAA took up most of the attention while in the NBA, a jam packed night of 11 games went all but unnoticed.  Take a whip around the league and check out the highlights from all 11 games this Friday night with the NBA Nightly Highlights right here on SDH!

Also, check out the ten best plays of the night from an action packed Friday in the NBA with our latest Top 10 Plays of the Night!

As always, you can view full game by game recaps, highlights and post game interviews on www.nba.com/video and be sure to stay tuned in the coming days as SDH recaps, reviews, reminisces, and ranks all 30 teams for both January and February in SDH's Worst to First Countdown

Friday, March 29, 2013

SDH Presents Thursday's Top Performers of Euroleague Basketball's Top 16 Week 13 (3/28/2013)

The Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 playoffs trudges on with eight teams continue to fight tooth and nail in order to reach Championship glory.  Here are the top performers from Thursday night's action starting with the Game of the Week where CSKA's Milos Teodosic earned Player of the Game honors.

And despite losing the game, Real Madrid would still walk away with the Play of the Game thanks to Marcus Slaughter with the alley-oop slam.

Maccabi Electra also came out big winners Thursday night as two of the team's players earned recognition for their stellar play.  First Moran Roth brought home the Assist of the Night for Thursday with this splendid pass to his teammate.

Then his teammate Devin Smith put in some work on the defensive end earning him Thursay's Block of the Night honors.

Karem Gonlum of Anadolu Efes took away Thursday's Dunk of the Night for the one handed lob courtesy of his teammate Jordan Farmar.

Unicaja's Marcus Williams earned Thursday's Nightly Notable fot his inspired play scoring 22 points, grabbing 7 boards and dished our 7 assists as he led his team to the win. 

And finally, the Play of the Night comes courtesy of Panathinaikos' Dimitris Diamantidis for the drive to the lane and the one handed lob to his teammate.

As always, you can join in " Feel(ing) the Devotion" by watching live streaming video of all the top 16 teams on http://www.euroleague.tv and do not forget to check on Slap Dog Hoops for all the scores, recaps and highlights.

SDH Presents Euroleague Basketball's Thursday Recap Top 16 Week 13 (3/28/2013)

The Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 playoffs trudges on with eight teams continue to fight tooth and nail in order to reach Championship glory.  Here are highlights of the best moments of the four games that were played yesterday on an action packed Thursday Night.

The action started when Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv rewrote the record book in its rout of Besiktas JK Istanbul.

Panathinaikos locked up a playoffs spot with a win at Bamberg against the home team Brose Baskets.

Unicaja's playoff hopes still remained alive after its road win over Anadolu Efes.

And last, but certainly not the least, CSKA blasted Real Madrid in front of their home court fans in Moscow for the Russian team's 10th win.

As always, you can join in " Feel(ing) the Devotion" by watching live streaming video of all the top 16 teams on http://www.euroleague.tv and do not forget to check on Slap Dog Hoops for all the scores, recaps and highlights.

SDH Presents NBA Nightly Highlights (3/28/2013)

The NCAA Tournament may have upstaged its professional rival, but it did not snuff it out completely.  Catch highlights from all three NBA games on Thursday in one place--right here on SDH.


Also, check out the five best play from a 3 game Thursday night.

And finally, as an added bonus, see the best moments from the Miami Heat's historic 27-game win streak,

go behind the scenes and inside the huddle to catch all the NBA action,

and last but certainly not the least, take a look at the best slow motion highlights from the Career of Kobe Bryant. Highlights include his Slam Dunk Competition victory, Game winner vs the Suns, alley oops slams, and celebrations from his championship seasons.

As always, you can view full game by game recaps, highlights and post game interviews on www.nba.com/video and be sure to stay tuned in the coming days as SDH recaps, reviews, reminisces, and ranks all 30 teams for both January and February in SDH's Worst to First Countdown

Thursday, March 28, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for January and February: 20. Toronto Raptors

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of February 28th) :  23-35 (fourth place, Atlantic Division)  

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of February 28th)
  • Points Scored: 97.1 (16th)
  • Points Allowed: 98.6 (17th)
  • Team FG%: .441 (19th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .457 (18th)
  • Team FT%: .781 (7th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .349 (20th)
  • Rebounds per game: 39.9 (28th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 42.5 (19th)
  • Turnovers per game: 13.1 (3rd)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.6 (19th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of February 28th)
  • Scoring (ppg): Rudy Gay (20.4)
  • Rebounds per game: Amir Johnson (7.2)
  • Minutes per game: Rudy Gay (39.1)
  • Assists per game: Kyle Lowry (6.0)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Amir Johnson (.555)
  • Free Throw Percentage: Rudy Gay (.850)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Kyle Lowry (.400)
  • Steals per game: Rudy Gay (2.5)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Amir Johnson (1.3)
Worst Player of the Month: Alan Anderson

Can somebody tell my WHY Raptor fans and the Toronto media is so enamored with this guy?  Here is a guy in Alan Anderson who most likely would have never get picked up on any NBA team who is a poor shooter and rather inefficient play averaging around 11 per game, but shoots under .390.  Sure, he gives plenty of effort and energy every time he comes on the bench and steps on the floor, but he is FAR from spectacular and he is no where from being indispensable.  At thirty years old, Anderson has essentially reached his ceiling and by the way he forces up shots while he is on the floor, it is more than apparent that he is simply playing for a contract and knowing how gullible most NBA GMs are, he'll probably get an over inflated deal.  Hopefully Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo is not one of them because offering this guy an extension would be a big mistake because he is simply not as good as the Toronto media portrays him to be.  
First Player of the Month: Bryan Colangelo

Congratulations and kudos need to be given Raptors GM and head honcho Bryan Colangelo for not only pulling off possibly the biggest trade in the the NBA season, but also pulling off probably the best ever trade in Raptors history.  All he did was give up the expiring contract of the teams backup point guard at the time along with a somewhat average player and in return received a bona fide franchise player in Rudy Gay.  Sure, he has yet to be selected to an All Star team, but here is a guy who gives you a consistent 20 points and 7 boards per night, a player known to come through in the clutch and has a strong playoff pedigree as well. Gay not only brings scoring, rebounds and solid defensive play, but also gives the Raptors that winning mentality on the court that the team so desperately needed.  Paired alongside Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay gives the Raptors a three hit combo that can possibly be the envy of the league and all Colangelo had to do was give up very little in return--two players who were possibly on their way out to begin with.

It is such a sad shame that the Toronto Raptors started so poorly winning just four games in the first month, because they probably would have been in the running for the final playoff spot.  Instead they are forced to wonder "what if" as they trudge through the season trying in vain to catch up with the current eighth seed holder, the Milwaukee Bucks.  Since that abysmal first month where the Raptors went 4-13, Toronto has been playing rather respectable near .500 ball three months into the season as the went 19-22 since the end of November.  Now the door has been essentially shut despite Toronto's most valiant effort for as of the end of February, the Raptors were five games behind of the Bucks for the last playoff berth in the East and short of a miracle and/or natural disaster, Toronto has no chance to ever catching up.  Regardless of the season's outcome, however, at least Toronto fans have some semblance of optimism after four rather forgettable season as for the first time in a long time, their home team looks as if they are headed in the right direction.

It started in February when the Raptors shocked the basketball world and acquired a headline grabbing player who would not only lead the Raptors to greener pastures, but also make the team  more attractive to prospective free agents.  Getting Rudy Gay from the Memphis Grizzlies has certainly changed the game for Toronto as he gives the Raptors that box office draw that they have not had since Vince Carter graced the court of the Air Canada Centre.  Gay also gives Toronto that superstar caliber player who consistently brings his A game day after day against the very best in the league along with the innate ability to attract opposing defenses opening the floor for the other players on the team.  In acquiring Gay, Bryan Colangelo essentially sent a message to Raptors fans, the city of Toronto and the NBA that the rebuilding is over and that it is time for the Toronto Raptors to make a finally make a move towards respectability.

There will be no more waiting patiently for younger players to finally get it while Toronto endures one losing season after another--Gay's arrival has made a statement that was long overdue.  For more than five years, the Raptors have wandered aimlessly in the darkness while the rest of the league simply just took advantage and simply steamrolled over them.  At the same time, Canada's NBA team suffered the slings and arrows of insults and ridicule as the Raptors were considered by many as complete joke and not even worth paying attention to.  Now that has all changed as the NBA spotlight has finally started to shine North of the 45 degree parallel after countless years of neglect.  The Raptors can no longer be lumped in with all the other second rate dipstick teams and Toronto can be finally showcased as the world class city that it is and be given the respect that it has been yearned for so long since joining the NBA in 1995.

Sure, the arrival of Rudy Gay comes at a hefty price--60$ million over the next three years to be exact; however, as the saying goes, in order to play in the big leagues, the Raptors have to "pay to play."   For years, the Raptors have tried to compete on the cheap not going for the top tier players, and instead settled for second rate players, players who were on the downward swing in the career  or table scraps that were left from the rest of the league.  Most of that reasoning came from the sad reality that Toronto lacked that "IT" factor to attract and keep the quality talent necessary to build a respectable team.  Being situated outside of the continental United States, the Raptors were often ignored and shunned by the mainstream sports media garnering little or no attention whatsoever.  In essence, the acquisition of Rudy Gay has given the Raptors and the city of Toronto a 60$ million gigantic billboard that says "here we are and it is time for you to finally stand up and take notice!!"

The season may be all but over for Toronto as the Raptors will once again be heading to the NBA Draft Lottery, but things are finally starting to look up for this rather neglected NBA franchise.  Bryan Colangelo has finally lived up to his billing as being the man capable of not only returning Toronto into a playoff team and a major player in the Eastern Conference, but also to bring the team out of the shadows and into the spotlight once again.  Not since the Vince Carter era of the late 1990s have there been so much attention being paid on the Toronto Raptors.  Rudy Gay can be seen by Toronto fans as a start of a rebirth of not only Raptors basketball, but also a reawakening of NBA basketball in Canada.  There is a fresh new infusion of energy coursing through the veins of Raptor Nation as the arrival of Gay is just the first of many bold new happenings that will be occurring to Canada's NBA team over the coming years--so get ready, for it is going to be one wild and exciting ride.                 

SDH Presents NBA Nightly Highlights (3/27/2013)

Last night was the last time for the week where the NBA could bask in the spotlight without having to share it with the NCAA yet again and they certainly made it worthwhile for hoops fans all over.  Catch up on all the NBA action on a jammed packed fourteen game night right here on SDH!!!

Last night saw the Miami Heat end its history making winning streak at 27 games.  Let's reminisce by going behind the scenes with the Miami Heat during their monumental 27-game win streak.

And finally, let's cap this all off with the ten best plays of the night which includes Miami's Chris Bosh getting posterized to add insult to the injury of having his team's precious win streak finally end and a game winning shot courtesy of the Boston Celtic's Jeff Green.  

As always, you can view full game by game recaps, highlights and post game interviews on www.nba.com/video and be sure to stay tuned in the coming days as SDH recaps, reviews, reminisces, and ranks all 30 teams for both January and February in SDH's Worst to First Countdown

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for January and and February: 21. Philadelphia 76ers

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of February 28th) :  22-34 (fifth place, Atlantic Division)  

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of February 28th)
  • Points Scored: 91.8 (30th)
  • Points Allowed: 95.8 (7th)
  • Team FG%: .439 (23rd)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .449 (16th)
  • Team FT%: .720 (25th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .350 (19th)
  • Rebounds per game: 41.4 (20th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 44.1 (26th)
  • Turnovers per game: 12.8 (2nd)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.2 (20th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of February 28th)
  • Scoring (ppg): Jrue Holiday (19.1)
  • Rebounds per game:  Thaddeus Young (7.8)
  • Minutes per game: Jrue Holiday (38.4)
  • Assists per game: Jrue Holiday (8.6)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Thaddeus Young (.513)
  • Free Throw Percentage: Nick Young (.810)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Nick Young (.360)
  • Steals per game: Thaddeus Young (1.6)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Spencer Hawes (1.3)
Worst Player of the Month: Who to pick?

That's right: who on this poor pathetic excuse of a team can be picked as the worst of the month since there is no one who really stands out?  Even then, can the players on the roster really be blamed for this disastrous season?  They have played their hearts out, but have been simply out-manned, outmatched, and simply outclassed.  Management has to take a huge portion of the blame as they are the ones who have assembled the team in the first place.  Their roster choices left little to be desired resulting in the train wreck that Sixers fans have been forced to witness.  
First Player of the Month: Jrue Holiday

Through this rather challenging season, there has been only one constant--one sole bring light on what has been a rather dismal season--and his name is Jrue Holiday.  Holiday has been the Sixers' anchor as he has been doing his best to keep his sinking ship afloat until the regular season comes to a close. Despite the poor performance and low standing of his team, Holiday still managed to get recognized for all his efforts by being selected to the Eastern Conference All Star team.  With him becoming a free agent come July, the team not only has to worry about losing Holiday to the market and also add pieces enticing enough to keep Holiday from straying from the City of Brotherly Love.  Most certainly in this point in his career, Holiday does not want to be part of yet another rebuilding project so it will be interesting what moves the Sixers' front office will make once the season ends.  

After such a disastrous season, the question on everyone's minds who have followed and cheered for the Philadelphia 76ers for the past couple of years is where do they go from here?  After a strong start in November, the 76ers slipped and slid downwards in December to finally crash and burn at the end of February.  Right now the coach staff and front office have been sifting through the wreckage trying to find something salvageable through all the wreckage.  From all accounts, there is little of what remains from a team that had been considered as one of the most pleasant surprises in the NBA and a fan favorite for  underdog team of the year.  So much was expected from this team that it reached a point of becoming completely unrealistic thus resulting in all involved to do about face to reevaluate the direction of this team and to set a new course for the direction of this franchise for as we have all just seen, there are currently headed nowhere fast.

The first and most important question for those in the Sixers organization is simply what to do with Andrew Bynum, whose contract will expire once the season ends resulting him in becoming an unrestricted free agent?  This certainly had to be the most frustrating and vexing dilemma Philly has possibly faced in the entire history of the franchise--they posses a player who last season played like a bonafide All Star, but was sidelined for the following season due to a deteriorating chronic condition that looks as if it will never get better anytime soon.   From what has been reported by numerous sources, it looks like as if this 25 year old basketball prodigy who had so much potential will have his once blossoming career cut tragically short.  With what has been mentioned, the Sixers may have to make the rather difficult decision to cut Bynum loose--the same player who they had given up so much to bring to Philly in the first place.  Granted, they benefited greatly by being able to rid themselves of the onerous and bloated contract of an overrated and grossly overpaid Andre Iguodala, but Philly still made a terrible gamble in bringing in Andrew Bynum because they had so much riding on him to play this season.

For starters, upon glancing at the roster, one can certainly see that it was mainly constructed to build upon the notion that Bynum would be the centerpiece of this new Philly team.  The Sixers' front office spent much of the teams resources signing players that complement the hobbled big man by primarily adding perimeter centric players and did absolutely nothing to bolster the team's rather slim and weak front court.  They also added players who were poorly efficient on the offensive end, did not demonstrate the best common sense and been reputedly poor on the defensive end which is considered a primary staple to the 76ers success of the past couple of years.  Both Nick Young and Dorell Wright have been complete busts upon arriving to the city of brotherly love as Young's offensive output has been erratic at best and Wright, who prides himself on his perimeter shooting, has simply been a complete no-show.  Add along washed up has-beens such as Jason Richardson and Kwame Brown along with a bunch of useless spare parts and one can see why the 76ers are in such dire straights.

The team's future now essentially rests on the shoulders of three players who, save for one of them, would not have otherwise been tabbed by any team as key building blocks for a playoff contender, let alone a championship.  The first of these players is Thaddeus Young, a rather undersized power forward who lacks the speed, quickness, shooting range or ball handling capabilities to play him in the more suitable small forward spot where he belongs.  The Sixers made a big investment signing him on for four seasons to the tune of 36$ million dollars thus making him a long term investment who offers rather limited returns.  The second is none other than Evan Turner who the Sixers selected second overall in the NBA Draft two years ago and has yet to prove himself to be worthy of such an honor and responsibility. His rookie year was simply a disaster while his second was rather nondescript to say the least and although Turner has been currently having his best season thus far posting career highs in scoring (13.2), rebounds (6.3), and assists (4.3) per game, his overall game still remains rather shaky for anyone to think that he is destined for greater things.

The only player who looks anywhere near ready to carry the burden to lead the team into the next few years is one whose numbers reflect more on his increased playing time and shot attempts more than his actual ability to lead a team.  Not to diminish him or his contributions to the team in any manner--Jrue Holiday has been an amazing player and has thus far proven that he is a truly among one of the elite point guards in the league; however, is he and will he ever be good enough to anywhere worthy of being franchise player material?  From what can be assessed from his performance and correlating that with the overall performance of his team, the answer is sadly no.  There is no doubt that he has the gift in term of his ability to score in bunches,  protect the ball on offense and get his teammates quality looks at the basket; however, everybody who follows the team and league along with the Sixers front office and coaching staff would have to agree                      
that Holiday is simply not the answer.  If anything, he was to be the perfectly complementary pieces to their immense off season prize of acquiring Andrew Bynum; unfortunately, however, that plan has seemed to have fallen at the waist side.

Fortunately there is still a glimmer of hope for this 76er team as it will be blessed with plenty of cap space once Bynum's contract comes off the books which the team's management can use in getting a more dependable and reliable commodity in the form of unrestricted free agents such as Utah's Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap, and Atlanta's Josh Smith.  They also have short term and affordable contracts in their possession in which they can use to possibly strike a trade or two and get more solid players to surround their burgeoning star in Jrue Holiday.  All they have to do is simply endure the trails of the next couple of months until the regular season comes to a merciful close and then they can go on and start to rebuild off this failed experiment that this season can be categorized as.  As long as they do not do anything stupid such as offer a contract extension to a gimpy big man with arthritic knees and use their well earned cap space wisely, the Sixers will be fine.   And as everyone looks forward to the draft and the following season, it will just be a great weight off everyone's shoulders once this disastrous season finally comes  to a close.       

SDH Presents Top 16 Euroleague Basketball Previews: Week Thirteen

It is week eleven of the Top 16 Euroleague playoffs as the 16 best teams battle each other in order to make it to the next stage.  Here are the previews on what to expect this upcoming Thursday and Friday starting with Group E,

. . . Group F,

. . . and finally the Game of the Week featuring CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid.

As always, you can join in " Feel(ing) the Devotion" by watching live streaming video of all the top 16 teams on http://www.euroleague.tv and do not forget to check on Slap Dog Hoops for all the scores, recaps and highlights.

SDH Presents NBA Nightly Highlights (3/26/2013)

Check out the highlights from all 3 games this Tuesday night in the NBA, including the wild finish between the Clippers and Mavericks in Dallas right here on SDH!

These three plays ended the fourth quarter between the Clippers and Mavericks from Dallas as Chris Paul hits a go-ahead runner, O.J. Mayo ties the game with a baseline drive and Blake Griffin almost ends the game with one of the best game-winning baskets that never counted!

And finally, watch the five best plays from a memorable three game Tuesday night in the NBA.

As always, you can view full game by game recaps, highlights and post game interviews on www.nba.com/video and be sure to stay tuned in the coming days as SDH recaps, reviews, reminisces, and ranks all 30 teams for both January and February in SDH's Worst to First Countdown

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for January and and February: 22. Detroit Pistons

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of February 28th) :  23-37 (fourth place, Central Division)  

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of February 28th)

  • Points Scored: 94.9 (21st)
  • Points Allowed: 97.5 (14th)
  • Team FG%: .446 (15th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .448 (15th)
  • Team FT%: .695 (28th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .363 (11th)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.2 (8th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 42.4 (18th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.1 (21st)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 13.5 (25th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of February 28th)

  • Scoring (ppg): Greg Monroe (15.6)
  • Rebounds per game:  Greg Monroe (9.6)
  • Minutes per game: Greg Monroe (32.8)
  • Assists per game: Jose Calderon (7.2)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Andre Drummond (.592)
  • Free Throw Percentage: Rodney Stuckey (.790)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Brandon Knight (.378)
  • Steals per game: Greg Monroe (1.4)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Andre Drummond (1.7)
Worst Player of the Month: Jonas Jerebko

Can it be time to show this once promising prospect the door?  After having an impressive rookie season, many hoops fans in Motor City saw this young Swedish national as a diamond in the rough and a future piece of the Pistons' return to respectability; however, for the past couple of years, he has lost much  of his luster and his value has greatly diminished as well.  Hampered by injuries, both his minutes and his production have dropped sharply--his scoring went from 9.8ppg in his rookie season to just 6.0 per game and he has been shooting an abysmal .400 from the field compared to the near .500 he shot in his rookie year.  Jerebko did not start 2013 off very well as he played just three games, averaging just 3.0 points in only 10 minutes per game; however, his numbers improved greatly in February as his scoring doubled from the previous month while his shooting spiked up to .529 while he scorched the perimeter shooting .462 from beyond the arc.  Perhaps his improved production may be enough of a reason to keep or it can be the perfect selling point for Dumars if he wants to orchestrate another trade to upgrade the roster yet again. 
First Player of the Month:  Jose Calderon

Since being exiled from his home of seven years in a trade that sent former Memphis Grizzly leading scorer Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors, Jose Calderon has been a literal godsend to a team whose offense lacked consistency and ball movement.  He has finally given the Pistons what they have sorely needed and have tried and failed to obtain--a true point guard who's focused on protecting the ball and setting up his teammates.  The Pistons' offense has run so much smoothly since the Spaniard's arrival to motor city as the team's offensive execution has improved leaps and bounds from before.  Upon arriving to Detroit in the month of February, he has been absolutely stellar contributing on both sides of the court averaging 12.3 points, 7.2 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals per game while shooting .500 from the field and an amazing .511 from the three point line.  At 31 years of age, Calderon has probably reached his peak as a player and will never get any better than he already is; however, through his impressive performance thus far in Detroit, Jose will certainly garner much attention for his service and most definitely earn a sizable amount once he becomes an unrestricted free agents at season's end.

Although they may still rest at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and relatively remain ignored by the most part, the Detroit Pistons have swiftly and silently returned to becoming a force in the NBA.  Their once stifling defensive play that had all but disappeared since team GM Joe Dumars rashly and incomprehensibly threw a grenade on the veteran team that brought Detroit so much glory has finally returned as the Pistons currently rank among the top half of the league in points and field goals allowed.  Detroit has also been a strong presence on the boards ranking eighth in the league in that category, while on the offensive end have been surprisingly lighting it up from the perimeter as they currently sit eleventh in the league in three point field goal percentage.  Despite their rather lackluster record, the Pistons have proven to be quite the relentless adversary only losing by just three points per game thus far while statistically matching their opponent toe to toe in rebounds, field goals and turnovers. In one season the Pistons went from being unbearable to watch to actually being rather pleasantly appealing to eyes of late and it looks as if there will be a new Motor City Renaissance and every NBA team, especially in their own Central  Division would be wise to take notice.

In January, the Pistons started the new year with a BANG by winning three of their first four games beating the Sacramento Kings (1/1/2013) and the Atlanta Hawks (1/4/2013) in two hard fought games at home while simply decimating their division rival Milwaukee Bucks on the road (1/11/2013).  After that short 3-1 run, they suffered two straight loses falling at home in a three point heart breaker against the Utah Jazz (1/12/2013) followed by an embarrassing blowout loss at home courtesy of the New York Knicks (1/17/2013); however, the Pistons won three of their next five handing blowout losses to the Boston Celtics (1/20/2013) and the Orlando Magic at home (1/22/2013) while narrowly escaping the Magic yet again for the second time--this time on the road. Detroit would, could and should have possibly won four of five if they managed to hold on to beat the Chicago Bulls (1/23/2013); however, despite being  to 85 points and .437 shooting, Chicago still manage to sneak past the Pistons by just three points.  That game would have certainly been a major confidence boost and would have also been also a great morale boost as they finished January on a sour note losing their last two games rather badly by an average margin of 23 points at the hands of division rival Milwaukee Bucks (1/29/2013) and the Central Division leading Indiana Pacers (1/20/2013).

February would both start finish rather bittersweet as they began the month by torching the Cleveland Cavaliers (2/1/2013), but would later lose their next three--two of which by a total of four points against the Los Angeles Lakers (2/3/2013) and the Brooklyn Nets (2/6/2013).  The Pistons did bounce back strong however, by taking four of their next six games--first by upsetting the league's best San Antonio Spurs by ten points (2/8/2013), then by avenging their previous humiliating loss to the Milwaukee Bucks (2/9/2013).  And despite losing badly at home to the New Orleans Hornets  (2/11/2013) and the Memphis Grizzlies (2/19/2013) Detroit still grabbed two key wins taking down fellow Eastern Conference cellar dwelling teams in the Washington Wizards (2/13/2013) and the Charlotte Bobcats (2/20/2013).  Unfortunately their 4-2 run would end as soon as it started as they would suffer soul crippling blowout losses not just once (2/22/2013), but twice (2/23/2013) at the hand of the first place Indiana Pacers followed by an eleven point drubbing by the Atlanta Hawks (2/25/2013).  The Pistons would however manage to salvage the month finishing the month by earning a hard fought victory against the Washington Wizards just scraping by just one point (12/27/2013).

In those two months, one recurring theme remained rather dominant in the production and success of the Detroit Pistons and that was their unrelenting effort on the defensiive end.  Despite going 10-15 in January and February, the Pistons held their opponents to under 100 points in fourteen of those games winning half of them--four of them by 15 or more points.  Of the ones that they did lose, four of those games were rather tightly competitive as they lost them by a total of nine points--that is just a little over two points per game lost.  On the flip side the Pistons were not as lucky when they allowed their opponents to score over the century mark as they went 3-8 in those games.  Surprisingly the Pistons were 3-1 in games decided by ten points or less; however, as for the rest of those games, they would lose and lose badly by an average margin of 16 points in those seven other games.

Through observing the numbers, it becomes rather apparent that the Pistons are at their best when they focus on playing stifling defense as opposed to trying to outscore their opponents.  Once they started loosening the reins and played lackadaisical defense, they would simply get run over by their competition as Detroit neither has the offensive power to match them or the Pistons simply would not be able to crawl out of the holes that they had dug themselves in.  Nonetheless, despite their rather inconsistent and sputtering offensive, their defense has been the driving force of keeping them a competitive team for a majority of the regular season.  Although they are still nowhere near to returning to their champion contending status from five years ago, if Detroit continue to grow and develop their chemistry and consistency on the defensive end, they can certainly become a playoff team in a year or two.  With another top ten pick coming their way along with oodles of salary cap space once the season ends, Detroit might find themselves becoming a playoff ready team possibly sooner rather than later, and that will put a lot of stress and anxiety for their Eastern Conference rivals.  

SDH Presents the NBA's Best of the Week (3/25/2013)

It is time once again to showcase the best dimes, dunks, swipes, swats, plays and playmakers in the NBA for last week.  Enjoy this quick stroll through memory lane as you take a look at all the plays that made the week special.  Let's start on a generous note with the ten best dishes, lobs, alley-oops and dimes from around the NBA last week from the best passers in the league.

Next, let's get a little "defensive" with this next video compilation of the week's best.  Check out the 10 best swipes and picks last week from around the NBA last week as we count them down in this week's top 10 steals!

After watching players getting their pockets picked, let's also add an additional helping of rejection with the week's ten best blocks in the NBA.

And finally, let us end with an exclamation point (!) with 10 best slams, jams, facials, throw downs and dunks from this past week around the NBA.

As always, you can view full game by game recaps, highlights and post game interviews on www.nba.com/video and be sure to stay tuned in the coming days as SDH recaps, reviews, reminisces, and ranks all 30 teams for both January and February in SDH's Worst to First Countdown

SDH Presents NBA Nightly Highlights (3/25/2013)

Ah finally!!!!  There is no more March Madness--well, at least until the weekend comes, anyways.  Now the pros who actually get paid to play get the spotlight.  Take a whip around the league and check out all the highlights from every game this Monday night - including the Miami Heat's attempt to stretch their winning streak to 27 games!

Also, check out some of the highlights from John Wall's amazing performance Monday night against the Memphis Grizzlies as he went for a career-high 47 points to lead the Washington Wizards to the BIG victory at home!

And finally, here are the ten best plays from around the league as we count them down with the latest version of the Top 10 Plays of the Night!

As always, you can view full game by game recaps, highlights and post game interviews on www.nba.com/video and be sure to stay tuned in the coming days as SDH recaps, reviews, reminisces, and ranks all 30 teams for both January and February in SDH's Worst to First Countdown 

Monday, March 25, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for January and and February: 23. Minnesota Timberwolves

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of February 28th) :  20-35 (fifth place, Northwest Division)  

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of February 28th)

  • Points Scored: 95.2 (20th)
  • Points Allowed: 97.7 (16th)
  • Team FG%: .435 (25th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .463 (23rd)
  • Team FT%: .735 (23rd)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .300 (30th)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.2 (9th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.2 (8th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.2 (24th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 15.2 (8th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of February 28th)

  • Scoring (ppg): Nikola Pekovic (15.9)
  • Rebounds per game:  Nikola Pekovic (8.8)
  • Minutes per game: Andrei Kirilenko (33.6)
  • Assists per game: Ricky Rubio (7.0)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Andrei Kirilenko (.511)
  • Free Throw Percentage: Ricky Rubio (.780)
  • Three Point FG Percentage:  JJ Barea (.343)
  • Steals per game: Ricky Rubio (2.1)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Greg Stiemsma (1.2)
Worst Player of the Month: Lady Luck

Thus far Lady Luck has not been kind to the Minnesota T-Wolves; in fact, one can go as far to say that she has been downright cruel.  From the opening tip off, she has thrown a wrench into the gears of what could have been a rather special team and has given the Wolves nothing but grief and heartache.  She snagged the team's top scorer and rebounder, Kevin Love, as early as the preseason and wreaked havoc upon the team the moment the players stepped on the court as injuries simply decimated a once deep and talented roster.  Within the first month of the season, she had already taken way three of the team's key players losing them for the entire season and still was not satisfied, so she went on and finished the job taking away the team's veteran leader and defensive stalwart, Andrei Kirilenko, as the season winds down to a close.  One has to wonder what the Wolves did to upset Lady Luck so much for here to cause so much pain and grief to themselves and their fans; however, give Minnesota credit that despite their predicament, the Wolves still manage to fight on.
First Player of the Month: Nikola Pekovic

Throughout all the chaos and turmoil surrounding his team, Nikola Pekovic has remained the sole bright spot for a team that has been wandering in the darkness. Thus far, he has been the sole starter on that Wolves team that has yet to sidelined for an extended period of time and has been the team's leader on both ends of the floor.  Throughout the months of January and February, Pekovic has posted career highs in scoring averaging close to 16 points per game along with grabbing almost ten rebounds per game as well.  Thus far, he has only missed seven games in total despite having the pressure to carry the entire team on his shoulders.  How unfortunate would it be to lose him too as that would be the final death blow for this much maligned and struggling Minnesota Timberwolves team.

To say that it has been a rough season for the Minnesota Timberwolves would be an understatement--the team came in with so much promise and had potential of making heads turn around the league.   Unfortunately they have been dealt one bad hand after the other as the team has been almost completely decimated due to injuries and they went from up and coming team to down and out in a matter of months.  One has to ask what the Wolves had done which was so terrible for Karma to exact its wrath upon them--they had already suffered to sting of defeat for so long that many believed that Minnesota was finally due.  They had made exceptional roster moves in the offseason acquiring a bevy of high quality players to support the burgeoning dynamic duo of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.  Along with being coached by one of the league's best in Rick Adelman, this season was supposed to be Minnesota's coming out party where the Wolves would finally return to the post season after a seven year long absence; unfortunately, fate would have other plans, however.

Upon setting foot back on the basketball court, the cruel hand of fate dealt the Wolves a devastating blow knocking the team's top scorer, Kevin Love, onto the injured list as early as the preseason.  Added along with the sad fact that the team would be without their star point guard Ricky Rubio for quite sometime as he was nursing an injury of his own from the previous season.  Then it was discovered that one of the team's prized free agent pickups, former NBA All Star Brandon Roy, who many hoped would have a comeback season , would no longer be able to play and would be forced right back into retirement.  The Wolves would then lose Chase Budinger, a player who they sacrificed a first round pick to the Houston Rockets for and was expected to be a key player coming off the bench, after just playing nine games.  From day one, the Wolves had been dealt a rather unlucky hand and the suffering would continue as Minnesota played undermanned and were virtually overpowered by the rest of the league.

Although through most of the season, the Wolves have suffered one bitter defeat after the other only winning a mere 20 games, they have continued to fight tooth and nail regardless, however.  Despite losing much of their offensive firepower, the Wolves were still held up thanks to the veteran leadership of Andrei Kirilenko, who had returned to the NBA after a one season hiatus playing in the Euroleague.  Unfortunately, as it was the case throughout the season, Andrei would also fall victim to the Timberwolves' curse first by missing most of February and later being lost for the rest of the season.  The front office spent much of the season scrambling trying to fill in the immense and noticable gaps in the team's roster and replace to what would add up to a third of the team.   They picked up journeymen Chris Johnson, Mickael Gelabale, and Malcom Lee, and despite unexpectedly impressive performances from younger players such as second year forward Derrick Williams and newcomer Alexey Shved, it was still not enough for the Wolves as the team simply went into freefall.

2013 has certainly not been kind to Minnesota as they went from being a team that was one game over .500 at the end of December to starting the new year losing twelve of fifteen games.  The Wolves started January well enough splitting their first four games beating rather solid teams such as the Denver Nuggets (1/3/2013) and the Atlanta Hawks (1/8/2013); however, that all ended as Minnesota would drop their next five straight by rather impressive margins losing by an average of 16 points in that five game stretch.  They temporarily stopped the bleeding with a hard earned win against the Houston Rockets (1/19/2013), but the glow of that victory would be short lived as the Wolves would finish the month of January losing their next five games.  February would show little mercy for this ailing Minnesota team as they would continually lose yet again dropping ten of thirteen games while grabbing just three wins against equally struggling teams--the New Orleans Hornets (2/2/2013), Cleveland Cavaliers (2/11/2013), and the Philadelphia 76ers (2/20/2013).  Thankfully with the passing of February, comes the welcomed arrival of this dismal season finally being over with the Wolves finally having a chance to lick their wounds and come back stronger the following year.

It is just a sad shame that such bad luck would fall upon a team that has suffered so much hardship to begin with.  For once it looked as if the Minnesota Timberwolves finally had gotten it together after languishing the past five season trying to rebuild post-Kevin Garnett, but once again Wolves fans have had to suffer the indignity of going through another depressing season.  Now the question on everyone's minds will be what is next for the Minnesota Timberwolves?  Do they gamble on next season with their flaming train wreck of a roster hoping that Lady Luck will finally show some love and compassion or do they start right back up back from scratch once again?  Either choice brings great risk and will probably end up badly as the words good luck and prosperity have yet to correlate with the Minnesota Timberwolves as of late.