Saturday, May 14, 2011

TrueHoopTV Submission: NBA Playoff MVP

ESPN's TrueHoop blog has asked for viewer submission's about who is the NBA Playoff MVP thus far. Here is my video.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Who Should Start for Lakers Tonight?

The NBA League Office added insult to injury for the Lakers yesterday. Already down 0-2 to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round in the NBA Playoffs, Lakers starting SF Ron Artest has been suspended for Game 3 tonight in the Big D.

Artest was tossed late it Game 2 after he received his second technical foul when he grabbed Mavs' guard JJ Barea across the face. Earlier in the game, Artest received a phantom technical when he fouled Tyson Chandler. After the NBA reviewed Artest's foul on Barea, they deemed it a flagrant 2 which carries a minimum one game suspension. Without Artest, Lamar Odom has said that he will start at SF, but should he?

There are three options here, all with positives and negatives: Lamar Odom, Shannon Brown, and Matt Barnes.

Lamar Odom:

Positives - one of the most versatile players on the Lakers. He can rebound, lead the break, and either score or assist. Although nobody has been able to stop Dirk, Odom has done the best out of the guys who have tried. Odom also creates a mismatch for Dallas on defense, Chandler will guard Bynum, so that leaves either Marion or Nowitzki to guard Odom if he starts. If Nowitzki checks the Sixth Man of the Year, he could get into early foul trouble because of Odom's quickness and ability to drive. If Odom is guarded by Marion, he can use his height and length to a huge advantage on the block.

Negatives - If Odom does start, he will guard Nowitzki, which moves Pau Gasol over to Marion. Marion's superior athleticism may create an even bigger problem on defense for the Lakers. Lamar is the main cog off the Lakers bench, with that crew already under performing, taking away the best bench player could doom any chance of the Lakers bench regaining mid-season form. Having basically three seven-footers on the floor at once, it could clog the lane and disrupt the spacing on offense. We haven't seen much of the Bynum-Gasol-Odom combo this season, and there may be a good reason why.

Shannon Brown -

Positives - Brown brings great athleticism to the floor, and can provide the starters with huge energy that they can feed off of. Brown can either take Kidd, allowing Fish to move over and check Stevenson, who is a one-dimensional offensive player. Starting Brown creates a mismatch on the defensive end for the Mavericks. If Rick Carlisle puts Kidd on Brown, Brown can use his athleticism against Kidd. If he puts Stevenson on Brown, that moves Marion over to Kobe, which means Kobe will have a field day in the mid-post.

Negatives - Brown hasn't been playing with a lot of confidence as of late. He has taken a lot of questionable shots, and has missed defensive assignments on a regular basis. If Brown starts, Kobe will be on Marion, and the Matrix size will pose problems for Kobe on defense. Brown's game in the Playoffs has been nothing short of scary, so starting him could get the Lakers off to a very bad start.

Matt Barnes:

Positives - Barnes brings the toughness, intensity and scrappiness that the Lakers lose with Artest out. Barnes can guard three positions, him being able to take Kidd, Stevenson or Marion gives the Lakers coaching staff more flexibility on defense. He is able to run three positions in the triangle as well, allowing the Lakers to keep the spacing they need to be effective on offense. Barnes might be the second best defensive player on the Lakers, his understanding of rotations, and help defense could cure the "trust issues" that Andrew Bynum revealed after the Game 2 loss. His play off the bench in the Playoffs has not been spectacular, so the bench would not lose a key component.

Negatives - Barnes offensive game is non-existent, coming off that mid-season knee injury, he could hamper the Lakers flow on the offensive end. His lack of run with the starters this season could create chemistry issues on the court, not knowing who likes the ball and where, could throw a wrench into the starting lineup. Barnes knee injury has really slowed him down, I don't think he is ready to be inserted into the starting five for such an important game.

With this being a must win game for the Lakers, I think you have to start Lamar Odom and stick him on Nowtizki. I would play Lamar at least 40 minutes and take advantage of the mismatches he poses on offense against the Mavs'. If Carlisle decides to put Marion on Odom, stick him in the post and allow him to create. If Nowitzki is guarding Odom, spread the floor and let Odom take him off the dribble, to try and get Dirk into foul trouble. I think Lamar is dying to have this opportunity, and his energy will spark a Lakers victory in Game 3.