2015 NBA Conference Championship Picks

D. Gulley for the Shop Report with my picks for the 2015 NBA Conference championships. Let’s get right to it.

Western Conference Finals

(1) Golden State Warriors (67-15) vs (2) Houston Rockets (56-26)

Let’s quickly get the obvious out of the way.  The Warriors bring 2015 league MVP Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and a high tempo offense.  The Rockets counter with MVP runner-up James Harden, Dwight Howard and an ever-resilient Rockets team with inside-outside versatility.

Now let’s get to the unknown…

The Warriors have been surprisingly the best team in the league from wire to wire in the regular season with a first year coach Steve Kerr.  Offense gets the glory but defense wins championships, and the Warriors are a thickly veiled defensive juggernaut.  Teams shoot worst overall against the Warriors than anyone else, and teams shoot fifth-worst from 3 point land, thank Andre Iguoldala and Harrison Barnes for this.  Both the Warriors and Rockets collect rebounds as effectively as one another, which gets lost under the lights of the shooting prowess let by Curry and Thompson.  The Warriors are sixth in the league in steals, which turn into extra possessions, and extra points. Most surprising is the Warriors are second in the league in blocks while Dwight Howard and Josh Smith and company are a respectable tenth in the league.  Consider this, the Warriors went through the Pelicans featuring Anthony Davis, and the “Grind House” Grizzles, teams with an inside presence if nothing else, and beat them soundly to advance to this point.  Clearly, the Warriors can win the inside game, now they must face a team with both an inside and outside presence featuring Harden and Howard.  A lot of attention gets made to James Harden’s disinterest in playing defense, but he averages nearly 2 steals per game and 1.5 in the playoffs.  Needless to say, Harden is the straw that stirs the drink for the Rockets’ offense, and Dwight Howard is the ice that keeps it cool.  The dual threat of an interior and exterior presence that will test the dexterity of the Warriors defensively.  The Rockets, however, survived a pressure cooker of facing elimination and winning, coming from a 3-1 deficit against the Clippers.  This is a tremendous effort, enough that lacking home court advantage is not a problem for the Rockets.

All in all, the Warriors have what it will take to advance to the NBA Finals because the depth of their offensive contributions and stealthily stellar defense.

PICK: GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

Eastern Conference Finals

(1) Atlanta Hawks (60-22) vs (2) Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29)

The Atlanta Hawks arrive with the Eastern Conference’s best record but not the conference’s best talent (arguably).  I’m certain they beg to differ.  Unfortunately, team sports are most identified by singular star power, and the Hawks are the case in point.  But 60 times this season, their opposition recognized just who they were.  On the season, the Hawks lack a single 20-point scorer, with power forward Paul Millsap averaging 16.7 points followed by center Al Horford with 15.9 points.  Small forward DeMarre Carroll at 17.1 points actually has the Hawks’ highest scoring average in the playoffs.  Night in and night out, Hawks veteran shooting guard Kyle Korver proves to be a problem for teams that don’t account for him.  Only the Golden State Warriors have more assists on the year than the Hawks, that means everyone is a part of their success; the whole is greater than the sum total of its parts.  It is in this fashion that he Hawks have been referred to has the Spurs-East.  And it will take every bit of the collective effort to beat the Cavs.  What’s special about both the Hawks and the Cavs is that they do not send teams to the charity stripe a lot, as they are second and first respectively in free throw attempts allowed.  Key for the Hawks is that they force turnovers and are fifth in points allowed, this is where they’re most Spurs-like.

Now about they’re opposition…

The Cleveland Cavs are as bi-polar a team as you can get.  Due to trades and injuries, they are not at all the same team that started the season and held a losing record at one point in January.  Featuring LBJ, arguably the best overall player in the league and Kyrie Irving emerging as a dual first or second option on offense, they are easily the toughest matchup the Hawks will face in the playoff run (save a potential matchup with the Warriors).  What stymies most of the Cavs competition, is that they refuse (or fail) to allow Lebron James to be a factor while containing the others, making him as deadly a threat as ever.  This is compounded by Timofey Mozgov at center and J.R. Smith at guard who are capable third and fourth scoring options at all times.  Last, and most certainly not least, Iman Shumpert embraces on the ball defense which he has been lauded for since he arrived in the league only 3 seasons ago.

Key to this series is understanding the moment, and the emotions therein.  This is an advantage that the Cavaliers have because of Lebron James – like him or not.  Tangibly, the ability to rely on a clutch scorer, or volume scorer is yet another advantage that the Cavaliers hold, though the Hawks have been successful at times in their regular season matchup.  The Cavs bring more to the table than the Hawks and I would therefore be pleasantly surprised to see the Hawks emerge in this series.  Alas, this is about what I expect, not what I would be surprised to see, therefore look for the Cavs to win.

PICK: CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

We’ll surely be back with the NBA Finals preview, stay tuned.

NBA 2K 15: Teams 2 Watch (West)

While the Eastern Conference is vastly improved, make no mistake, the West is, and will always be– TOP DAWG!!!  And the NBA’s biggest money maker. Last time I checked, most of your foreign born players play out West; talk about going global!! Bottom line, watching East games can be a little ho-hum at times; better grab you a front row seat if there’s a West game on display. My West teams’ are as follows:

SPURS:  The term ”EVISCERATED” was used to describe what the Spurs did to not only the “2DayBA’s” (today’s NBA) best team, but certainly the NBA’s “Best on the Planet”, in one said LeBron James; the term eviscerated should not be synonomous with the 2DayBA’s best player, if in fact he is what most people think he is. It is because of this I believe the “Medieval” Spurs will once again hoist the gold ball. Coupled with the fact that Duncan says he’s out to get the one thing he has not accomplished throughout his entire run – A REPEAT.

MAVERICKS: This is the one team that gives me cause for trepidation when it comes to the Spurs. All the talk was centered around the additions of Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler (rightfully so), but it’s the not so mentioned Jameer Nelson  that may turn out to be just what the doctor ordered for these Mavs. The only possible weak spot I see is the bench; Devin Harris is too much the lose cannon. If Carlisle decides to move Harris to the 2-spot (shooting guard) and let Felton run the second unit, this is the only squad truly capable of dethroning the Spurs.

WARRIORS: As great a talent as he is (like Kyrie Irving),  Steph Curry is a turnover waitin to happen. And that can’t happen if the Warriors are to make some real noise come playoff time. New coach Steve Kerr undid what was former coach Mark Jackson’s undoing (I believe), and put Harrison Barnes back in the starting lineup. These cats can flat-out score with ANYBODY IN THE LEAGUE, BAR NONE!  Can they play D is the question.

BLAZERS: Have all the tools to win it all, but do they have the toughness? What will Thomas Robinson bring? Blazers will be in the thick of it because of the household names, but title contention this year may be askin a bit much.

CLIPPERS: Doc Rivers is a throwback coach if there ever was one, but not even he can fix DeAndre Jordan’s free-throw woes. Jordan was first in just about every defensive statistical category last season, and yet, is a major liability in the fourth quarter of games; How can one of the games best not be on the floor when it matters most??  I can’t put my finger on it right now, but something is missing from the Clippers. And it may turn out to be the thing that keeps them from gettin to the Finals – again.

ROCKETS: McHale is praying that the addition of Trevor Ariza can somehow make up for the loss of – star in the making – Chandler Parsons. Youth, and lack of defense could be the ultimate cause of their undoing; despite being fun to watch.

PELICANS: Monty Williams may now have the pieces necessary to make a significant run in the battle tested West. Unfortunately, injuries are still a major concern. Anderson, Davis, Gordon, and Holiday missed a combined 141 games last season!!  Can’t expect to contend if the core is broken. Still, I think there is enough here that the Pelicans will be a tough out, and no longer  NBA “Welcome” mats.

NUGGETS: These boys are gon’  get straight up medicinal on cats this season. Jusuf Nurkic and the return of Gallinari to go along with Mozgov, Lawson, Gary Harris (Mich St.), Chandler, McGee, Robinson, Faried,… Get the idea? Brian Shaw will have time to take a nap during games because these dudes will be that in control. Come playoff time, inexperience will tell the story.

Honorable Mention: Timberwolves – Rubio found a jumper, and newcomers Bennett, Lavine, Robinson the 3rd, Wiggins, and Gorgui Deng will have a big time impact.

Can’t wait to hear what ya’ll think!!  www.theshopreport.com

No “Me Too” in Mizzou

Seahawks wideout Doug Baldwin on winning another Super Bowl:” To the outside world, we have arrived, but to us we’re a long way away from that mountain top called, ” arrival.”

Now to the casual fan, like a DC-10 (tan), that went right over their heads. But to the purist, it speaks directly to what winning a championship – on any level- is all about, and that he (Baldwin) is a by-product of a championship culture. A culture on talked about in Cleveland since forever. At least 1999 anyway.

If the owners of Cleveland’s three major sports’ franchises (Browns, Indians, Cavs) -especially the Browns- spent the same amount of effort into putting a championship product on the field field as they do in selling ” season tickets”, this town would have experienced a “major” championship long before now, instead of being champions in nothing more than hype (LeBron/Manziel) and headlines!!

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told his players at the beginning of their Super Bowl season that every week was championship week, stating week 1 of the pre-season. Which would indicate that there is a mindset that must first be established and shared by everyone in the organization in order to become a champion. Adding names to a roster can make you a “Paper Champion”, but not an actual champion.

Here in Cleveland, all you have to do is win a Heisman or be mentioned – ad nauseam- on Sports Center, and you get not only keys to the city, but a 3 year extension to boot!

I don’t know about you, but this season i’m takin’ my cue from the folks in Mizzou- THE SMALL MARKET CITY THAT DOESN’T HAVE A CASE OF THE ME TOO!!

A woman coach is hired; It’s About TIME!

…This should be the response to anyone who finds it noteworthy that a woman has been hired as a coach (assistant be damned) for an NBA franchise.  Becky Hammon, the new assistant coach for the 2014 NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs, should be congratulated for being selected to the premier coaching staff of sports, not simply because she’s the first female on a sideline not named Violet Palmer or Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.  The fact that this is groundbreaking in 2014 should be appalling – not lauded; women have long proven themselves to possess the acumen to be successful leaders of women and men alike for quite some time (reference Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Oprah Winfrey, Chancellor Angela Merkel or a well-mannered child raised by a single mother in your neighborhood).

Coaching has absolutely nothing to do with ability, and everything to do with mentoring, analyzing and creating opportunities for players on the court.  It is accessing the game and developing methods to succeed at that game.  Becky Hammon stated this herself, “But when it comes to things of the mind, things like coaching, game-planning, coming up with offensive and defensive schemes, there’s no reason why a woman couldn’t be in the mix and shouldn’t be in the mix.”  Mental aptitude in a sports game is not – nor has ever been – gender specific.  Moreover, the NBA has plenty of male coaches who exemplify the adage that “those who can’t do, teach”.  Rick Carlisle, Doc Rivers and former NBA coach Larry Brown – with successful tenures and 4 NBA titles as coach between them – were measurably better drawing up plays from the sidelines than wearing a jersey.  Meanwhile, the struggles of Isaiah Thomas and Michael Jordan as mentor/coach/GM/Owner are in stark contrast to their careers on the court.

The Spurs, with their mix of young and seasoned talent, are the definition of precision basketball.  In 2013-2014, the Spurs boasted – rather did not boast about – just four entries in the top ten for any major statistical category (blocks, blocks per Game, three-point percentage and steals).  As a team, the Spurs shot and assist percentages, combined with their lack of offensive rebounds as well as low number of team fouls solidify that they clearly are the masters of execution and smart play.  Precision like this befits a team that does not have a player with the physical presence of an LBJ, KD or D12, akin to WNBA players who overall lack the physical presence of their male counterparts, even of their own contemporaries.  This is why the women’s game is more fundamentally sound.  This is why Becky Hammon is already prepared to excel; she transitioned from a head smart player to a coach on a team with a similar approach to the game.  Her gender will not be the reason why she fails or succeeds; it’s her ability to understand basketball.  The Spurs have a history of acquiring talent who understand basketball, and this is why sustained success remains in the forecast for the Spurs by adding Becky.

NBA Playoffs: West

Playoff time is here, and the West is the best when it comes to matchups fans really want to see. Seeds are in parenthesis.

(1) Oklahoma City vs.(8) Houston: Thunder have a dynamic 1-2 punch in Durant and Westbrook. Problem is, Westbrook’s style of play can be asymmetrical to the offensive flow. Instead of working with K.D., Westbrook seems to work against him. The Rockets would win this series if they played any kind of D! Because they don’t, OKC wins 4-2.

(2) San Antonio vs.(7) L.A. Lakers: This one is hard to call believe it or not. Both Teams are playoff savy and experienced. It doesn’t matter that the Lakers roster has not been together for a long time, or that the Spurs are dealing with a rash of recent injuries as of late. This is a pick em’ series all day long.

(3) Denver vs.(6) Golden State: Denver was a league best 38-3 at home! Not having Galinari put a severe dent in their attempt to go all the way, but that won’t be a problem against the Warriors. Golden State has improved significantly on both ends of the floor under coach Mark Jackson and have one of the league’s most dangerous player’s in Curry. It’ll take more than that to win this series. Denver wins 4-2 in a series that will be played better than the end result.

(4) L.A. Clippers vs.(5) Memphis: Although the Griz’ have been playing well in the absence of Rudy Gay, I still think at some point it will come back to haunt them. Slow it down is the recipe for the Grizzlies. The Clippers outside shooting has been up and down this season, and the interior is inferior to the Griz’ despite Blake Griffin. Memphis wins 4-3; they better not make a fool out of me.

Well, that’s a wrap for this year’s predictions… Let the Madness begin!!

NBA 2K13 In Season Review: Milwaukee Bucks

At 37 wins and 43 losses, the Milwaukee Bucks having the 8th seed in this year’s playoffs is more formality than deservingly. NBA rules say that there must be 8 teams’ in both conferences to make the season ending tournament. Because the Sixers, Cavs, Pistons, Raptors, Wizards, Magic, and Bobcats are all so bad, the Bucks get a free pass. How does a team with a losing record make the playoffs at all? Even from a statistical standpoint I can’t figure out how to make a case for the Bucks that would give them any chance against the Heat in a first round matchup. This team is 20th in points allowed (100.4/per) and 12th in points for (98.8/per); what chance do the Bucks have realistically against any team if they can’t score enough, and can’t stop the other team from scoring too many? Not to mention a league rank 10th in the turnover dept. The Heat should be allowed a first round by instead of having to play the Bucks; the Bucks are not worthy of being called a basketball team let alone a playoff team.

The Bucks do have 5 players’ who average double digits in points per; Monta Ellis (19.2), Brandon Jennings (17.6), Ersan Ilyasova (13.2), J.J. Redick (12.0), and Mike Dunleavy (10.4) can all put the ball in the basket, but it all seems to be perimeter oriented. At times Jennings and Ellis will put the ball on the floor and get to the basket, but of the five aforementioned, Jennings, Ilyasova, and Dunleavy shoot better than 36% from the three. Can’t win in the playoffs being to jumpshot heavy; especially when those shots are long three’s. Long jumpshots lead to long misses and fastbreak oppportunities for the opposition. The Heat will feast on any and all runouts going the other way.

Despite the no chance at all proclamation I put forth when the Bucks play the Heat, there is one area for this Buck team that is worthy of mention and is a mandatory criterion for playoff basketball- offensive rebounding. It makes no sense to me how this team is ranked number 2 in both offensive (1033) and defensive (2475) rebounds with 43 losses on the season. Whether you agree with me or not, there is a direct correlation between the two. Teams’ who rebound the ball well -especially offensive- usually have a winning record.

Stern should insitute an NBA rule that disallows a team to make the playoffs if said team has a below .500 overall record. If only for this season, Stern should allow the loser of the 8th spot in the Western conference to take the place of the winner of the 8th spot in the East. I guarantee the Lakers’ or Jazz would make for a better series against the Heat than Milwaukee. Instead of playing to their strength that is rebounding and punishing the Heat on the inside, the Bucks will settle for jumpshots on the outside. Playing harder and not smarter is a recipe for disaster; a disaster that is the Milwaukee Bucks.

NBA 2K13 In Season Review: Atlanta Hawks

If you ask me, the only reason the Atlanta Hawks are a playoff team is because they play in the Eastern conference. Or, as some might say, they’re a playoff team by default. It’s not as if they don’t have a pretty decent roster makeup from an ability standpoint with guys like Al Horford, Josh Smith, Devin Harris, and Kyle Korver. I just have a hard time trying to figure out at what point is the mentality going to coincide with the ability. Without the two coming together, falling short is usually the end result.

The Hawks are 15th in points scored (97.6/per), and 13th in points allowed (97.2/per) for the 2013 campaign. Who will they beat with those enigma-type numbers? Not many -if any- come playoff time.

Horford is the only player I can truly say is deserving of being on a contender. His production goes well beyond a box score -when not injured- and his intensity is there night in and night out. Consistent is the first word that comes to mind when I watch big Al play.

Smith, Korver, and Harris give me cause for concern going into the playoffs. Smith is one of those “talented” players’ who never really materialized into the player he should have because of his pouting. Loves to play out on the perimeter to shoot the three, but doesn’t seem to realize he would be better served -as would the Hawks- to start out on the interior and then go on the outside. Helping Al on the inside will help Atlanta’s chances for winning.

Korver is a spot-up shooter who would help the Hawks more if he could put the ball on the floor. Not being able to be shoot of the dribble makes him no different than Rashad Lewis – a career journeyman. What does it say about you as a player when the Bulls (who are in need of perimeter scoring) decide to let you go. Korver is most effective when being fed; one dimensional is definitely guardable. What happens when a team runs him off the three-point line?

Of the Hawk point guards, Harris is taller than Teague, but not smarter. Teague is more of a facilitator than Harris, but lacks the size to deal with big guards. Both however are defensive deficient. Harris plays too fast and out of control more times than I care to count. A better understanding of tempo would allow everyone else -especially Korver- to play within themselves and play better overall. The Hawks have to understand that Al cannot do it by himself on the inside if they are to have at least a fighting chance to advance.

NBA 2K13 In Season Review: Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls 101-97 victory over the Miami Heat to break the 27-game win streak was no accident, nor was it just a bad night at the office. Players’ have bad games no doubt; however, the Bulls (without Noah) outscored the Heat 22-8 in second chance points. Am I to believe the entire Heat team had a bad night at the same time? No, the Bulls just flat out played an agressive style defense against the Heat that most teams’ are afraid to play, and came away with a victory. Thibodeau learned from an earlier matchup against the Heat where the Bulls lost 86-67, that it doesn’t make sense to double LeBron, Wade, or Bosh and let them pass to wide open shooters who have spotted up in the corners. TT also realized that “sagging off” the 3-Olympians’ allowing them to basically walk right into open shots was an advantage for the Heat and a disadvantage for his Bulls. His strategy in this most recent game was to contest- and it worked.

Was Thibodeau’s strategy a blue print to beat the Heat? No; the Bulls’ didn’t reinvent the wheel, they just decided not to be intimidated. Where’s the rocket science in that? If anything, teams’ now know that they don’t have to be intimidated by the Heat because the folks at ESPN say so.

The key to victory for Chicago was not just on the defensive side of the ball; it also took balanced scoring and timely shots to complete the abrupt dismantaling of the streak. Going into game against Miami, Chicago was dead last in the league in scoring at 92.9 per/gm. With Rose out, that kind of offensive production- or lack thereof- will not only hurt in terms of winning a playoff series, but it will also over stress a defense that currently ranks 3rd in the league allowing 92.4 per/gm.

The one player who is a surprise to Bulls’ fans’ and myself is Jimmy Butler. If Butler can continue to bring to the lineup from a point standpoint what he did against Miami (17), the Bulls’ may have very well found themselves a much needed scoring option heading into this year’s playoffs and making their bench stronger in the process.

Off the bench: With Nate Robinson, Taj Gibson, and Nazr Mohammed, the Bulls’ second unit should be able to at least match the level of play provided by the starting unit. Maintaining or increasing the team’s lead can be crucial to playoff success. In some cases being able to outscore the opposition’s bench can make the difference in winning or losing a series.

The Bulls’ have a puncher’s chance aginst the Heat should the two meet in the Eastern conf. Finals’ if the offensive production on display in ending the streak can somehow be duplicated come playoff time.

NBA 2K13 In Season Review: New York Knicks

After the first third of the 2013 NBA campaign was complete, the New York Knicks were blazing a trail that not only put the entire NBA on notice, there was serious talk about maybe this being Melo’s shot at winning his first ever MVP trophy. My oh my how quickly thing’s change. If nothing else, watching this season is a constant reminder that an NBA season is not a sprint, but indeed a marathon. I know the Knicks are second in the East behind Miami with a 42-26 overall record, but as the season winds down and the playoff contenders continue to jockey for position, the brand of basketball on display at the Garden from the beginning of this season to now is like night and day.

Melo being the leader on this team was giving effort on the defensive end of the floor never before seen his entire career up til now, and in turn, his teammates were following his lead until -it seems- Amare came back. Once Amare got back in the lineup it was back to the free for all on offense and to hell with it all on defense. Everything just vanished; no more ball movement, no more unselfishness, and no more listening to Mike Woodson.

The Knicks went from being a viable threat for winning it all, to a sure enough first round fall. As much as I like Melo’s tenacity and flat out scorer’s mentality, taking 65 shots to get 42 points is absurd!!! I don’t care who you are. Whatever offensive efficency the Knicks were utilizing at the beginning of this season is now gone and as a result (in my opinion), so to is Tyson Chandler and Amare. Playing out of sync has lead to unecessary injuries and Amare and Chandler get in each other’s way; when both are on the floor at the same time, Chandler is no more than a garbage man asked to pick up everbody else’s trash. The Knicks are most effective when Chandler is involved with the offense as a pick-n-roll player if nothing else. Right now the Knicks are 11th in total offense at 98.8 per/gm. If the season ended today, the Knicks would face off against the Celtics; do you think the Knicks win a series against Doc & co. playing free for all ball? I don’t either. The Knicks may be a number 2 seed, but they sure ain’t playin’ like one.

In order for the Knicks to avoid an early exit from this year’s playoffs, Amare must come off the bench, J.R. Smith needs to have a “governor” put on his v-8 type jump shot, and Melo needs to get back to his early season understanding of being a “table setter” first, and a scorer when the time calls for him to do so. It’s not how many shots you take that make the difference between winning and losing, it’s when you take em’. Another first round exit on his resume and Melo will be another forgotten scoring statistic.

NBA 2K13 In Season Review: Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets are flat out garbage. Ok maybe not garbage, but their play more often than not flat out stinks. I know the Nets’ are sittin’ pretty right about now in the number 4 spot in the East, but that’s primarily because the Eastern conference as whole is nothing to really get excited about. Surprisingly, they have a better road record (16-15) than the Indiana Pacers who sit at number 2 in the East, but are average against the division at 6-6. That tells me the Nets’ have somewhat feasted on the “bottom feeders” of the league.

It’s the style of play from some of their household name players that bother me most. Too often do they play as individuals and not as a team. This is a recipe for a first round exit I guarantee; with their roster it makes no sense to me.

Joe Johnson disturbs me the most. In part because he played under legendary Arkansas Razorback coach Nolan Ricardson (my favorite college team) who’s “40-minutes of hell” philosophy- I thought- should have given Joe the foundation for being a complete player; which clearly he is not. Secondly, a player with his pedigree and ability who can play both small forward and shooting guard should not be on his fourth different team (Celtics,Suns,Hawks) in 11+ years. Did I mention he is a 6x All-Star? How do you not stick? I expect more from him than 16.6 per. Oh no, here comes king of the iso!!

Brook Lopez is a true center and the team’s leading scorer at 18.8 per, but is slow and cloddy to say the least. At times, it takes him a few days to get a shot up at the rim. He needs to be stronger if not quicker around the basket. Guys like Bosh,Tyson Chandler, and Noah will eat him alive on the inside.

Deron Williams is a diva. Being the so called quaterback on the team, his play is to inconsistent for the Nets’ to have any real shot this year-or any year- at a title. If his jumpshot is not fallin’ he gets lost in the sauce. In my opinion he’s one of the most overrated players at any position in the NBA.

Gerald Wallace is one of my all time favorite players because of his hustle and tenacity. It’s unfortunate that he’s on the downside of his career. He’s going to have to do more than 8.4 if the Nets’ have any chance of getting out of the first round. What’s worse, he’s the only player who’ll give a sincere effort on the defensive end of the floor.

Andray Blatche is an interesting piece the Nets’ have. Although he’s not really lighting it up on the scoreboard (10.1/per), he does bring an energy on both ends of the floor that are mandatory for playoff basketball. Will he maintain that energy if he starts to see his counterparts playing disinterested? We’ll have to wait and see.

Kris “Kardashian” Humphries scored more with Kim than he has this season, averaging a paltry 5.5 per. What, if anything does he do well? You tell me and we’ll both know.

Reggie Evans is leading the team in rebounding (621) on the season, but to me is better at using his 6 fouls a game. He is so putrid on the offensive side of the floor, the Nets’ can’t even use him like the Clippers’ use DeAndre Jordan.

Because they have virtually no bench production to speak of, I don’t see the Nets’ winning more than 2 games in the upcoming playoffs no matter who they face in the first round. I also won’t be shocked if someone else “Sprewells” Carlesimo before the season ends.