Podcast: 2012 NBA Free Agency Preview

Mark and McNeill broke down what might happen this weekend when free agency starts. Some of the topics we covered included Kevin Garnett’s new deal to stay a Celtic, where Deron Williams might land, why Memphis could be a great team for Ray Allen, some creative ways for Steve Nash to land with Toronto or Miami and what teams are poised to be big players this summer.

Also, at the end of the podcast, McNeill had an exclusive interview with DeMar DeRozan where they talked about DeRozan’s plans for this summer.

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Podcast: And Then There Were Eight

Mark and McNeill jumped on the mic to break down the NBA Conference Semifinals. Some of the topics include the impact Chris Bosh’s abdominal injury will have in the Miami Heat, Kevin Garnett jumping into his Delorian, the Lakers not playing with any passion and the epic roll the Spurs find themselves on.

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Garnett’s Remarkable Resurgence

LL Cool J once said, “Don’t call it a come-back. I’ve been here for years, rocking my peers and putting sucka’s in fear.”

Well, the same could be said for Kevin Garnett, who has enjoyed a resurgence in the playoffs. 

This postseason, Garnett’s player efficiency rating has improved to 23.82, compared to last season’s 17.3.  In the first round series against the Atlanta Hawks, Garnett averaged 18.7 points, and 10.50 rebounds. These numbers are reminiscent of his days on the Minnesota Timberwolves, when he was affectionately known as The Big Ticket.

So far, Garnett has produced on par with his 2008 playoff campaign with Boston, which was above his career averages.

Since Doc Rivers shifted Garnett to center, he has played like he is 25, as opposed to the 35-year-old veteran with bad knees. As a center, he is posting up more in the post, rather than shooting jump shots on the perimeter.

Since the All-Star break, Garnett has failed to reach double digits in points scored in only two games. To put this into a broader view, in the first week of the season, Garnett had two games in which he failed to reach double digits in points.

Also worth noting, Garnett recorded thirteen double digit rebounding outings after the break and he pulled down eight or nine boards in nine other games.

The defense that Garnett provided on the opposing team’s center proved to be just as much of a nightmare as it was for the opposing team’s center trying to cover Garnett and his mid-range jumper.

One downside to Garnett playing center on a consistent basis is injuries; in particular his history of knee injuries. He has the length but not the girth to defend the likes of Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum, day in and day out. The continuous banging in the paint would take a toll on him and that would make him less effective in every aspect of his game. Furthermore, it would wear him down a lot faster. For example, former Celtic center, Kendrick Perkins suffered numerous shoulder injuries due to the constant battles in the paint. His shoulder was a problem by the end of the year, almost every season, due to the pounding of being backed into the post or from backing into the post. Garnett, with his small frame, would be back on the injury report sooner than expected.

The consensus around the NBA from writers and fans is that it is a two-horse race, between the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Andrew Bynum, for the best center in the NBA. Statistically, Howard has a strong case. But anyone who knows anything about basketball knows that the stats sheet does not tell the whole story of Dwight Howard. In his eighth season in the NBA, Howard has yet to develop a true offensive post game and simply does not hit free throws; making him nearly impossible to go to late in games. He has, to this point, unsuccessfully run two campaigns: one for being traded out of Orlando, and another to have head coach, Stan Van Gundy fired.

Garnett’s defense is undeniable, but the health concerns he faced this season, the drama off the court, and his inability to close out games makes him a more viable option at the center position. Garnett just capped off his sixth consecutive season shooting over 80% from the line, has a well-established offensive game on the block or from the elbow, and has a certain fire that Howard does not seem to possess.

Most importantly, Garnett’s team feeds off of his fire while it looked like Howard’s team was feeding off of his childish antics at times. The advantage goes to Kevin Garnett today. It was like a switch was turned on and the Kevin Garnett of old came back for one last run as the big men went down one by one for the Boston Celtics. Only this time, Garnett is doing it in a different role but with the same mindset.

It’s time for the certifiably insane, chest-pounding, lockdown-defending, 6’11” big man to get the love he deserves; this time, as the best center in the NBA.

Garnett Helps Celtics Eliminate Hawks

After Game 2 of Boston’s opening round series against Atlanta, Kevin Garnett said the Celtics were “all grit and balls.”

28 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks and three steals later, Kevin Garnett carried the Celtics to an 83-80 series clinching victory over the Hawks in Game 6. The Big Ticket’s impact on this series isn’t hard to grasp. Simply put, he was vintage KG. With Garnett on the floor the Celtics were +73. When he was sitting on the pine -42.

One question remains though: With so many game changing injuries having already occurred in the NBA, can a veteran Celtics team stay together for one last title run? The Celtics weaknesses were pretty glaring in this series. They can’t rebound, they lack elite athleticism, they struggle to score for stretches and they’re old.

Despite all of the above, when the Green Team plays at their peak they can be the best team in basketball. After the All Star break the C’s went 26 -12 down the stretch—proving they still had gas in the tank.

In the next round they will play the upstart Philadelphia 76ers and rekindle an old school playoff rivalry. In two different affairs in “The City of Brotherly Love,” the C’s were not feeling any love.

In their first face-off, former No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner had the best game of his young NBA career. Pouring in 26 points and grabbing nine boards. Along with Turner’s effort the Green Team failed to hit the glass and got out rebounded by 19.

In the second game the Celtics started out strong, before a scary injury derailed their momentum. Late in the first half swingman Mickel Pietrus fell awkwardly before being carted off on a stretcher. His injury seemed serious at the time after he was spitting up blood on the court and the Celtics could not rebound from what was a gruesome sight.

However, in their last match-up of the season the Celtics got the 76ers number. With Avery Bradley scoring 18 points and Rondo dishing out 15 assists the Celtics cruised to a double-digit home victory.

The series will not be an easy one for either side. However, if the Celtics can stay healthy, they should win this series in seven.

Podcast: 2012 NBA Playoffs Preview

After nearly a year, the Hoops Addict Podcast is back on a regular basis. I’ve linked up with Mark Cheel with the intention of bringing back the Podcast on a weekly basis and we started with a preview of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.

Mark and I break down why Atlanta can give Boston a scare, we debate if Utah’s frontcourt can muscle San Antonio out of the playoffs, we lament that the Clippers lack of a strong coach will result in Blake Griffin and Chris Paul not lasting as long as they should in the playoffs as well as the rest of the first round match-ups.

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