NBA First Round 2006

The Playoffs are here and the first round is now over, but before we move on to the second round matchups, lets talk about what happened.

The East

Most of the excitement in the East was with The Chicago Bulls battling The Heat. Shaq seemed to slow down in this series and this caused some doubt as to whether the big man is still all that dominating. The short answer is no. But he is still big and his performance in the last game of the series was back up to his usual Shaqness. More interesting than all the technicals and suspensions The Heat suffered during the series, is how amazingly well Antoine Walker played! He was a solid offensive threat and he gave The Heat the energy they needed. Wade was still the main star next to Shaq, but Wade still has a lot to prove. The Bulls on the other hand showed they have a good team, although they are still missing someone in the center position. Chandler was disappointing and Chicago needs to think about getting someone bigger and better at that position. The Noch was incredible, and single handedly kept the Bulls in the game.

I guess I have to mention Lebron, but other than saying that the Cavs have gotten better and Lebron is amazing, there really is not anything new to say about the Cavs winning over the Wizards.

Detroit still looked bored even after the Bucks managed to beat them once. It really has been said before, but I’ll say it again, the game is too easy for Detroit.

The West

Even without Yao and McGrady, the West was more entertaining in their first round. You had the old Spurs battling a hungry Sacramento team, a Laker team poised to beat the number two Suns, and even the Clippers going at Denver. Dallas and Memphis was disappointing, because Dallas won too easily over Memphis. You could almost say the same thing of the Clippers and Denver, if it were not for that controversial foul from Reggie Evans that was just too strange not to talk about.

In the end though, The Lakers took center stage and their battles with Nash and his Suns were amazing. Nash even got upset for a couple of games! Bell called Kobe a pompous player! Kobe actually believed he could make it to the second round without Shaq! Yes, all of it was incredible and when it all came crashing down in game seven, you knew the Suns had run away with it. The media would all blame Kobe, but after all he is the star, and when you are the star they blame you or love you depending on the game’s outcome.

Time For A New Coach

As I watched NBA Sunday on ABC, it became apparant that the Sixers need a new coach. Maurice Cheeks is not the right coach for Iverson and company. The Sixers are not without talent, even without A.I., they still have young talent and big men in the front court. They should be better than this! The problem comes down to defense and no matter how many times you say it, the Sixers still won’t defend. On the other side you have the Pacers who can pretty much match up against any team and still walk out with a few wins due to their defense. If Iverson is to be successful with the Sixers, then they need to hire a coach who teaches defense and who makes it a priority in every game, clearly Maurice Cheeks is just to laid back too toughen up this team.

In the Windy City, the Bulls seem to never get a break. They have a very young team, with Ben Gordon becoming their main star player. I like their energy, their heart, and their defense is usually what gets them by, but their offensive game needs work. They need another big man who can move and defend, a Ben Wallace, someone who can take a hit in the post. But even if they got the big man they need, something tells me that coach Scott Skyles is not the great coach that Chicago thinks he is. In key games, Skyles needs to rotate better, he seems to just let his players play through in critical minutes, and give up the game when perhaps doing something a little more unpredictable might give them the edge they need. If the Bulls get their big man, and they still perform at the same level next season, it’s time to start thinking of replacing the coach. Unlike the Sixers who can be a lot better, the Bulls are not too bad, they just need to execute a little better and change their matchups and they easily win a few more close games.

Props have to go to the Pacers who have the best coach in the league. Sure the Spurs might argue that point, but they have hardly had to deal with half of the drama that Indiana has gone through in the past couple of years. On the rise too are The Nets, who have the youngest coach in the entire league I think, but who is doing a great job. They beat Detroit last night at the Palace, so obviously their coach did something right.

Team USA Turns Down Iverson

I did not realize that Iverson not receiving an invite to Team USA was such a big story; after all most of the analysts covering NBA games really just joke around more than anything else. Now that I have read some of the media stories though, I come down on the side of Iverson on this one. How can Team USA not give an invite to the most dominating small player in the league and then hold an open invite for Shaq? That is just plain insulting! I agree that if Team USA is going to go with a Pass First guard like Billups, then yes, that’s fine don’t invite Iverson, I can see that, but to announce that they would still make an exception for Shaq is not right.

I love Iverson. He has something that many atheletes don’t have, which is heart. He is what he is and he has never claimed to be anything more. Philadelphia may want to trade him, but they will regret it if they make such a move. Without Iverson, the Sixers would be like the Bulls, a young team who has no swagger. Like it or not the NBA game needs swagger, Detroit may play like a team, but they got personality and that is the second reason why I watch them. Iverson is the heart of the Sixers and without him, there would be no reason to watch a Sixers game.

If Iverson could go somewhere, I think New York would work for him possibly. He’s played for Brown before and the Knicks need a player they can respect. Stephan is not that player, but Iverson is. If they traded him to the west, I would like him to play for the Rockets. The Rockets have the best center in the game now and T-Mac does not have the personality to push the Rockets where they need to go. Iverson is tough as nails, and he will toughen up the Rockets instantly. But I just don’t see Iverson in Texas, and lets face it Denver is not the place for a bad boy like Iverson. Just look at the great treatment that K-mart is getting in Denver.

If the Sixers do keep Iverson, they should hire Dennis Rodman to come in there and teach them how to rebound and defend the paint, because when it comes to defense the Sixers need a lot of work.

Last but not least, Iverson deserves more than what he’s gotten this year. He’s matured and he’s one of the greatest players of all time. Unlike the Jordan posers of today’s league, Iverson is exactly what he is, an original. There will never be another Iverson.