The General’s 5 Key NBA Games: Stop The Skid

The NBA has storylines galore as we head into the All-Star Break.  Older teams are getting older.  Younger teams are getting better.  Contenders are nursing old wounds, and there’s one team that is seeing the end of an era.

I’m picking 5 “key games” that will weave a few interesting tales going into the All-Star Game.  We all know that the All-Star Game is fun, but watching teams stumble into the break is even more fun.

Don’t be surprised if we have games coming up that look “boring”.  Trust me when I say to you, “I don’t pick boring games”.  This is going to be appointment television for NBA fans.

New Jersey @ Cleveland:  Tuesday

New Jersey is BY FAR the worst team in the league.  Cleveland is playing the best of anyone right now.  Is there a way for this game to mean something?  Yes–no, not by putting Jay-Z on the floor as an “owner-player”.

The Nyets are 4-46 and in desperate need of wins to avoid setting the all-time record for losing at a measly 7 wins.  It would be easy to write this game off and call it another Cleveland win, but I’m skeptical.

Being that the Cavs are, for me, the Bills/Braves of the NBA there has got to a skid coming.  In fact, this could be the confluence of two skids.  Cleveland on the way down and New Jersey on the way up.

I’m not calling for a New Jersey win, but I am calling for a good game form the Nets.  “Moral victories” are real, and if the Nets get one they could save themselves BEFORE the All-Star Break.  I really don’t want to see the “losing record” set.  Why?

There’s something about greatness that I want to see.  I don’t relish losing from anybody.  I hate the Celtics, but I don’t want them to be pathetic.  It’s not any fun when someone is pathetic.  Right now, the Nets are pathetic.

If they can give LeBron his and stop everyone else this could be a close game.  Plus, with the Cavs looking ahead to Thursday this could be New Jersey’s chance to catch the LeBrons off-guard.

Atlanta @ Memphis:  Tuesday

The Hawks are 32-17.  The Griz are 26-24.  The Hawks have improved every year for the past 5 years and now they’re duking it out with Orlando for 3rd in the East.

This dogfight can continue all season if Atlanta stays strong and plays their game.  Jamal Crawford has yet to start in 49 games, and my theory is holding.  When he doesn’t start, the Hawks are hard to beat.

Memphis is surging at 10th in the West.  I know it sounds stupid to say a team that’s 10th in their conference is surging, but this is the GRIZZLIES!  They stink, but not anymore.

Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, and O.J. Mayo make a pretty tough “out”.  If they keep playing this way we’ll have a playoff contender on our hands.  The Hawks have their hands full , and they need to play tons of defense.  Then they have to turn around and play…

Miami @ Atlanta:  Wednesday

…the Heat.  Miami comes into Atlanta in 8th place in the East.  That ALONE is a miracle considering how badly the Heat are playing right now.

Whether the Hawks win or lose against Memphis, this game against the Heat is FAR more significant.  The Hawks have to travel and play back-to-back games right before the All-Star Break.  The Heat are fired up for all the wrong reasons, and the Hawks need to show Miami who’s boss.

The last thing the Hawks need is to give the Heat any kind of momentum.  D-Wade isn’t even talking to his teammates and he clearly wants out of Miami.  Atlanta’s got to put their foot on Miami’s throat and contribute STRONGLY to a plea for Erik Spoelstra’s firing.

Who would want Spoelstra fired?  Dwyane Wade.  He’s not “the man” he thought he was and it’s killing him.  He’s probably on the verge of begging Pat Riley to coach him again.  However, the discontent is so strong that I don’t even know if he’s really trying.

I know, I know.  How can a guy who is scoring 27 points a night NOT be trying?  If you watch him he looks like he’s not there.  He’s statistically AT his career average, but he isn’t there.

The Heat suck right now because D-Wade is a crybaby.  He’s waiting for the 2010 “free-for-all” so he can get paid and feel “appreciated”.  Meanwhile, he’ll be leaving Miami without the “core” that the ENTIRE roster is built around…him.

It’s a shame really.  A focused Hawks team should have no problem with this disjointed Heat squad.

Boston @ New Orleans:  Wednesday

This is a simple equation.  You have a basketball team in a football city buoyed by the Saint’s Super Bowl win.  You also have a VERY old Celtics team.

Doc Rivers has been very upset with the level of play of his team, and he should be.  However, he can’t be surprised.  The “Three Amigos” are now the “No Cartilage Brigade”.  Every day that Doc denies that Pierce, KG, and Ray Allen are getting too old; it’s only going to get worse.

The Hornets aren’t really anything to write home about, but they find themselves in a unique position.  They can feed off the “Super Bowl Frenzy” and get a good win against a good team at the same time.

The Celtics need to start changing things up before Pierce and KG can’t move anymore.  The Celtics are tied for 3rd in the East with the Hawks and the Hawks own the tiebreaker.  The keys need to be FULLY turned over the Rajon Rondo before it’s too late.

The rest you can get during the All-Star Break isn’t enough.  This team needs to make a change–fast.  If Ray Allen’s expiring contract isn’t KILLING the Celtics “on the inside” then it should be.  Move him now before it’s too late.

The “Three Amigos” are done.  This era is over.  The Celtics need to give Rajon the keys and ENCOURAGE him to joyride.  Learn how to play this way now, or don’t learn at all.

I’ll bet that the Hornets play the Celts tight just because Boston is stubborn.  It’s Boston’s loss really…

Orlando @ Cleveland:  Thursday

We close before the Break with Orlando and Cleveland.  Orlando is getting some really good play out of Vince Carter, but Vince isn’t enough to beat Cleveland all over again.  Cleveland on the other hand needs to keep their momentum going.

Backing into the All-Star Break may not sound like a big deal, but for a “bad sport” like Lebron it’s bad news.

Imagine how bent out of shape he’s going to be all weekend if his team loses to D12.  Orlando needs some validation and some “elbow room” with the Hawks.  Cleveland needs to keep winning.

This game will be close all day long, but in the end it will come down to defense late.  IF D12 plays “D” the way he’s capable of then the Magic can pull out a win.

Bottom line:  If the Cavs lose they will start (or continue) a skid that will last into the 2nd half of the season.  I don’t buy LeBron as this “great leader”.

I feel like the guys in Cleveland call him “father and teacher” the ways the Soviets had to address Stalin.  Notice the operative verb:  have.  If the Cavs go too far with their “LeBron worship” it’ll kill their team.

I’m interested to see who wins and how everyone reacts.  Dwight Howard will be fine either way, but just look at LeBron if he loses.  Now take a look at his head growing if he wins.

The stretchmarks on LeBron’s headband are the story of the NBA season…

…does anybody realize we haven’t witnessed anything yet?

Dr. Steroids

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