Opening Night Review
A few quickhitting tidbits from Tuesday's Night TNT coverage:
- I've always loved Smush's center-part, one of my fav hairstyles in the NBA--Glad to see it's back this year--Ho Grant must be smiling
-Is it me or does Nash look bulkier in the upper body? He must have hit the back-bacon & poutin over the summer to pack on some extra size to his guns and of course washed it down with some Molson Ex or maybe he's a Labatt's kind of guy.
- Healthy Amare or not, the Suns have to prove they can play some semblance of interior defense. This has killed them last two years in the playoffs. Kenny Smith made the point that Amare is/was a very good defender. What??? Sorry, Jet but Amare was never a good defender, he will occasionally blocks some shots, but for the most part he stands around with his arms down by his side, not helping his teammates, & having no clue where to be--he even admitted a year ago his defense needed alot of work. I think the most important thing that Amare can bring the Suns this year is not his offense, but give the Suns someone who can consistently protect the painted area & the rim on defense.
-The Suns interior defense was terrible in the '05 playoffs. The Suns reg. season numbers were middle of the pack in 04-05, and they could not come close to translating that into the playoffs that year. I know they did not have Kurt Thomas in the playoffs last year but he gives up too much height, so I am not sold on having him back insures your defense will be solid in the playoffs
-To me, the Suns still have to prove that they can defend when it matters, especially provide a modicum of interior defense. This is why I think this smallball revolution is overrated--because you usually end up getting beaten on the boards & getting owned in the paint--it eventually catches up with you the deeper you go in the playoffs. Now if you can find a way to keep the rebound margin close (which I think the Suns can do with having a SF who can get 10 rebs per game), & defend adequately in the paint, you could possibly win with Smallball. But the Suns must prove they can defend in the middle before we hand them the West Conf. crown, even if Amare is 100% healthy by April.
-the Lakers/Suns game looked like a repeat of their playoff series where the Suns come flying out of the gate, then they bog down during the middle quarters, and the Lakers just methodically pound the post with a variety of guys.
- Bynum was mighty impressive. Not a great athlete but showcased much improved footwork & some nice passing instincts--it seems Kareem has rubbed off
- Lakers are very deep & versatile--they have better shooting around Kobe & Odom this year with Radman & Evans to go along with Cook--They have multiple guys who are adept in the post (which is vital in the Triangle)--Odom, Walton, and now its seems Bynum all have nice footwork & passing ability. Also, Turiaf is a underrated post option, that still needs to play more.
- I don't think you take too much away from the Heat/Bulls drubbing besides that the Bulls' defense certainly will be amazing this year & something I pointed to in my season preview--they have great depth & versatiltiy like the Lakers. Impressed with how well the Bulls moved the ball throughout the game. The whole team was very active at both ends. Skiles had the team playing with fire, not surprising from one of the best coaches in the league
- Hinrich is the 3rd best PG in the East after Billups & Kidd (Sorry, I don't count Arenas as a point). But he will probably soon overtake Kidd. He's got good size, he can shoot, & he has shown signs of Nash-like probing ability, but Kirk actually plays defense. And the Bulls signed him to a extension today which was imperiative--you don't let a young PG of his caliber walk
- Basically, the only Miami guy who came to play was Wade, everyone else was going thru the motions. Shaq looked like he did not even have preseason-game intensity. And he needs to lose weight again. Riley might have his toughest motivational job of his career this year.
- I would have to say the Bulls & the Lakers are the two deepest teams in the NBA--when Thabo Sefolosha & Ronny Turiaf are your respective 12th man, you're in pretty good shape