Thursday, February 23, 2012

Knicks - Heat & All-Star Weekend Preview

You could say that the NBA's All-Star weekend actually starts with tonight's TNT games: Knicks @ Heat and Lakers @ Thunder. Those games will be more interesting than the All-Star game itself because they could end up being conference semifinal (or even conference final) matchups. Let's break that game, and the rest of the weekend festivities, down:

Part 1: Knicks vs. Heat

It's easy to break this game down into smaller matchups, and that's exactly what I'm going to do.

New York: Jeremy Lin, JR Smith, Baron Davis, Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert, Bill Walker
Miami: Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Mike Miller, James Jones
Edge: New York
Dwyane Wade is the best shooting guard in the game. But the Heat have no depth at the guard positions. All of the Knicks listed could go off for 20 points and 10 assists and nobody would be that surprised - Dave touched on this yesterday. Maybe don't count Bill Walker in that group. But hey, you never know.

New York: Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Jared Jeffries, Steve Novak
Miami: LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, Dexter Pittman
Edge: New York
Again, the Heat are stacked at the top of the order and then it tails off horribly. LeBron obviously is better than Melo. Stoudemire and Bosh are essentially a push. Chandler is better than anyone the Heat can put at center. Steve Novak can spread the floor for Lin, Anthony, and everyone else to get to the rim.

Based on the most basic of breakdowns, I'm taking the Knicks +9.5 in a heartbeat (odds from Bovada).

Part 2: All-Star Saturday

Sprite Slam Dunk Contest
All I'm going to say about this is it's Derrick Williams, Chase Budinger, Paul George, and Jeremy Evans. I'm taking Williams and George to the final, and Williams over George. The man is an athletic freak.

Celebrity Game
I don't really know how the teams break down beyond Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant each get a team, but I'm excited to see Doug Gottlieb try to play basketball with the big boys. And of course by "big boys", I mean a WNBA player, Vinny from The Jersey Shore, one of the Grey's Anatomy guys, and Ne-Yo. I don't want to watch this. That's what I've learned from researching this.

Foot Locker Three-Point Contest
James Jones, Kevin Love, Ryan Anderson, Anthony Morrow, Mario Chalmers, Kevin Durant. Call me crazy, but I really think Kevin Love is going to win this. I'm sure you've never watched Minnesota play (they are never on TV) but KLove has a habit of making threes that he seems to have no business making. He's not just a low-post threat.

Haier Shooting Stars Contest
The dumbest one, in my opinion, because it involves women and old guys and a half-court shot. It really just comes down to luck. That being said, I'm taking Team New York (Landry Fields/Cappy Pondexter/Allan Houston).

Taco Bell Skills Contest
Quick note: on the NBA's home page, this is referred to as "Taco Bell skills" - which happens to be what all the students who drop out of Albany High School have. This competition might just be my favorite because it requires that the point guard have a balanced set of skills - sorry, Rondo. I'm taking Deron Williams, who I forgot to mention in my tweet today about American point guards who are better than Jeremy Lin. He's going to do it just to spite me.

BBVA Rising Stars Challenge
I see no reason that Team Shaq won't thrash Team Chuck. Who is going to guard Greg Monroe? The Lin/Rubio/Walker/Cole/Knight five-headed point guard monster may not be the smartest idea in the long run, but this game isn't long-term and it's a pretty guard-heavy game in general. If I had to pick a favorite for MVP, I'd take Lin because I think the fans vote for the award.

Part 3: The All-Star Game
Before I tell you anything else, know that Kobe Bryant is going to make sure that he wins the MVP. That goes along with the West winning the game. I just wish that the All-Star votes would be based more on entertainment value. We need more dunkers and alley-oopers! Chris Paul to Blake Griffin is nice, but we get that all the time. I'm creating my own awards for this game:

  • Best Dunk: The current favorite is obviously Griffin, but don't sleep on Dwight Howard and Andre Iguodala. The East could steal this one. 
  • Most 3-Pointers: A lot of candidates here. Anthony, Wade, Deng, Pierce, Williams for the East and Durant, Bryant, Paul, Love, Nash, Dirk, Parker for the West. I'm taking Deron Williams because it seems like he always leads my fantasy team in three points. Actually, that's probably because he plays with a bunch of scrubs. Changed my mind, I'm taking Pierce. 
  • Most Blocks: Howard, Hibbert, Bynum, Gasol are all probably the front-runners. But I'm taking Luol Deng. He could get some favorable matchups against the point guard-heavy West and end up with a lot of blocks against Nash, Parker, Westbrook, and Paul. 
  • Most Points: Kobe vs. the field. I think I'm still siding with Kobe. 
  • Least Effort: LeBron is obviously going to give just enough for him to feel that people like him for his performance. Rondo could very well be pissed that the votes selected Rose and Williams and not him and just mail the game in. But he's a psycho, so you never know. I think Dirk is my favorite to win this. He knows he shouldn't be in the game and he wants to preserve himself for the rest of the season and the playoffs. 

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