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Stein Archive: Chats | Columns
SportsNation Marc Stein: Hello, all. I chat with you today from Phoenix on the morning of Game 1 of Suns-Clips before moving on to Spurs-Mavs later this week. Let's dive in . . .
James (Dallas): Every time Dirk is guarded by a tough defender and doesn't go for 30, people say the defender is in his head. Bowen is a good defender and played a great game against Dirk. But it seems that people forget that Dirk has also gone for 30 twice against Bowen this season. If we're going to exaggerate and say Bowen is in Dirk's head because only went for 20 and 14, then maybe we should start calling Dirk the best player in basketball and give him the MVP. How many guys can go for that in a game against the world champs with guys draped all over him and still have that considered a bad game? It's not like Dallas was blown out, they should have won the game.
SportsNation Marc Stein: I guess I'm not "people" because I wouldn't say that. Dirk, frankly, is the last Mav that I worry about. Over the course of seven games, I know he'll find ways to score. He has always maintained that his problems with Bowen are as much the two big guys behind Bowen as Bowen himself. Bowen guards Dirk better than anyone, but he also has better help than anyone.
SportsNation Marc Stein: However . . . one of my main doubts about these Mavs in this San Antonio series has always been the reality that this group, for all the improvements they've made in various areas, don't consistently have someone else creating easy opportunities for Dirk. No other Mav consistently occupies the Spurs' defense to loosen things up. Is Devin Harris healthy and confident enough to do that like he did a couple times in the regular season? We'll see.
dave(ny): how many games do you think the suns -clippers series will go?
SportsNation Marc Stein: On paper, after what we witnessed in the last round, Phoenix has no hope of stopping the Clips inside. So . . . Suns in six. I am ignoring the Clips' obvious ability to abuse Phoenix at the rim because I think the Suns have momentum and a good deal of their confidence back. Also because the Clips were put under zero pressure by a Nuggets team that didn't even show up for the first round. It's almost like the Clips got a bye into Round 2. We don't know how they'll respond yet to some playoff adversity.
Mark H (Lafayette, LA): Do you think Cleveland wins a game in this series?
SportsNation Marc Stein: Yes, but it doesn't even matter. LeBron has already answered all of his skeptics with the way Cleveland finished the regular season and what he did in the first round. Jordan comparisons aren't normally my thing but it's instructive to remember that MJ needed four trips to the playoffs to win his first series. What LeBron did to the Wiz, at least to me, makes up for the fact that Cleveland didn't get to the playoffs in his first two seasons.
Eddie (Hoboken, NJ): What the heck was up with Kobe? Was he reverting back to the "successful gameplan" of getting the team more involved or was he just trying to show the world that he doesn't need to shoot every shot? I was baffled.
SportsNation Marc Stein: I think Kobe thinks that he was sonmehow going to get even more blame for L.A.'s Game 7 rout if he scored another 23 points (or more) in the second half and the Suns still won in a laugher.
SportsNation Marc Stein: What I don't understand is how he came to the conclusion that going silent in the second half was going to result in less scrutiny. That's where I'm baffled.
SportsNation Marc Stein: There is also a story going around that Kobe loudly encouraged his teammates not to shake hands with Suns players after Game 7. If that's true, well, let's just say Game 7 wasn't The Ocho's finest hour.
Adam,NY: marc, Will are you hearing Kurt Thomas will be back for any part of this series or the playoffs?
SportsNation Marc Stein: I asked D'Antoni yesterday if the odds were good that we'd see Kurt at some point during the Clipper series. He said that it's highly unlikely.
Rick(Memphis): I think the Grizz need to blow up the team. Which direction would you take if you were the GM, and what direction have heard they will be going in?
SportsNation Marc Stein: There are two directions Memphis can go. No. 1 is the conservative direction where they go after Milwaukee's Jamaal Magloire, as we touched on in a Dime last week. Magloire is a virtual lock to be moved by the Bucks and the Grizz are high on the list of interested parties. The aggressive course would be going after Iverson, although that makes more business sense to me than basketball sense. Iverson could certainly sell tickets in Memphis, which continues to be a problem for the Grizz, but is AI really the scorer Jerry West was talking about when he spoke of getting Pau some dangerous help?
Reggie(DC): You think Kiki goes to Portland?
SportsNation Marc Stein: I really don't. It's so unstable there. If it's really cheaper for Paul Allen to walk away from the franchise than wait for a buyer, that suggests he's not going to be spending any significant money on the ballclub in the short term. So unless there's an ownership transfer, why would anyone want to go to Portland?
Jim (At Your Local Coffee House): About the Clippers, Marc, what did you think the odds were for them to make it past the 1st round?
SportsNation Marc Stein: Pretty good. But in my worst prediction for some time, I went for Denver in an upset. Even the great ones miss occasionally. And, yes, Sam I Am did have a chuckle at my expense when I saw him before Game 5 of that Denver series. I hope, for the sake of Clipper Nation, that they can hang onto Sam this summer. It doesn't matter if he's hobbling around. He IS the Clips' confidence.
Robbi, WI: What has been up with tim thomas, is he back or is this just short term?
SportsNation Marc Stein: Phoenix was a great fit for him, pure and simple. He has the total freedom to hoist from anywhere on the floor, which he's probably never had before. The best part, of course, is that he's so willing to take big shots and so apt to the make them. T-Squared isn't getting as much credit as he should for his willingness to step in crunch time.
Lowell (Cousin, Pa): Do you really think the rift between Payton and Wade is over?
SportsNation Marc Stein: Yes. Because it's not a rift. You put Gary on your team and you get moments like that. And I like GP on this team. For all the Heat tweaking I've criticized, adding GP for minimum wage is one of the moves I liked. My only problem with the initial Wade-GP tiff is that Riley didn't really step in to break it up, but maybe he knew what he was doing, It was the first real fight we've seen from the Heat all year. You saw how they responded in the next two games. Two of their best games all season.
Kyle(Hickory, NC): Where does this year's Detroit rank on your greatest all-time teams?
SportsNation Marc Stein: Can we see if they win it all first?
Phil (Cleveland): What did you think about LeBron tapping Arenas on the shoulder in between free throws? Great showmanship? Or over the line?
SportsNation Marc Stein: Great gamesmanship. I can't say it's over the line because that stuff happens a fair bit. If Jordan had done something similar, all the pundits would be waxing poetic about the great psych job from His Airness. Most of all, I just thought the whole LeBron-Arenas exchange underscored how much confidence LBJ had by the time Game 6 rolled around. Everyone was questioning what this kid would do on the big stage in his first trip to the playoffs. By the end of the series he's telling one of the best scorers in the modern game how he's going to go down to the other end and win the game. Pretty large.
Bruce (Montpelier, VT): I still can't come to grips with the concept of 2 Nash MVPs compared to 1 for Shaq. Should we pencil in number 3 for Nash given that he will have Amare back?
SportsNation Marc Stein: I hear that one a lot. Nash shouldn't have been MVP because someone like Shaq hasn't won more than one. Or that Nash can't go back-to-back because he isn't as legendary as the other eight back-to-backers. As a voter, I'm not comparing Nash's season to a Magic season or Jordan season from the past. I'm assessing where he falls based on the competition of the current season.
SportsNation Marc Stein: As for your first question, no, I wouldn't worry about Nash winning three in a row.
Saleem (Philly): Why are people still questioning Nash's legitimacy as the MVP? They lost Amare and picked up 7 new guys and they didn't miss a beat. I even hear some people saying he won again because he's small and white. It's ridiculous!
SportsNation Marc Stein: People are questioning it because this is the NBA, where the MVP award dominates discussion like no other league. But the factors you state are big reasons why Nash got my vote and many others. At 3-1 down, lots of folks were writing in to say that Nash was unworthy. Wrong. The series against the Lakers actually showed just how vulnerable the Suns were after losing Amare and Kurt. Lots of folks, remember, came into this season saying Nash's production would crater without Stoudemire. Instead Phoenix won 54 games with a totally new team comprised of guards and small forwards. Nash really was even better this season that last.
SportsNation Marc Stein: Time to go. We'll do this again next week. Thanks for all the questions. Here's hoping this round is (somehow) as good as the first round.