Cuse Country

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Playoff Push (Pro Update 4-12)

Posted by Josh on April 12, 2007

With the NBA regular season just about done, several Orangemen are doing their best to get their teams securely into the playoffs.

Carmelo’s Nuggets have been on a tear lately, winning seven games in a row, five of them in the 8-day span since we last checked in with them, and the most recent win clinched them a berth in the playoffs. More impressively, four of the five wins came against potential Western Conference playoff teams. After toppling the Kings last Wednesday (CA: 31 pts 8 rebs), they have beaten the #1 seed Mavericks (CA: 23 & 10), the Clippers of Jason Hart (CA: 23 & 6) who are a half-game out of the 8 spot, the Lakers (CA: 33 & 5) who are now in the 7 spot, having been passed by Denver, and just last night they topped the 4-seed Utah Jazz with Anthony dropping 32 points and 6 rebounds. Folks better watch out for Denver in the playoffs. They are healthy, unsuspended, and finally clicking with their new lineup. Their first-round opponent will probably be the Spurs, but could be Phoenix. A month ago everyone would rather play the Spurs, but they are just as hot as Denver right now while the Suns are appearing slightly mortal….

Speaking of Jason Hart’s Clippers, they are battling for their playoff lives. As of this morning they are a half-game out of the playoffs, tied in the loss column with the #8-seed Golden State Warriors. Since the last report they have lost three in a row, to Denver, Dallas, and the Hornets. The first two games are not bad losses but to lose to NO/OKC, in overtime, is not what you hope for while making a playoff push. Jason has played solidly in these games. He had 10 pts, 7 assists, 6 rebounds in the Denver game, 14 & 8 with 5 steals vs. Dallas, but only 9 & 3 vs. the Hornets. He’s playing virtually all the minutes at point guard now, averaging nearly 40 a game over the past two weeks with Sam Cassell officially out for the rest of the regular season. The Clips have five games left: two tough road games (Lakers & Suns) but three winnable home games. This could go down to the last day of the season.

Over in the East, Etan Thomas has been relishing his return to the starting lineup. Last Wednesday he had 19 points and 10 rebounds vs. the Bobcats, followed by 10 points and 14 boards vs. Cleveland, playing 35 minutes in each game. His PT and his numbers dipped a bit in a home & home vs. New Jersey, who often plays a smaller lineup (bad matchup for E). Also, the Wiz have a desperate need for offense with their two all-stars out for the year, so Coach Jordan has been trying a similar small lineup at times. E had 3 & 6 in the first NJ game, 11 & 3 in the second. Last night against Shaq-free Miami he played only 17 minutes, scoring 4 points and grabbing 6 rebounds. The Wizards lost all these games, but they were able to clinch a playoff spot nonetheless by virtue of Indiana losing a few games. Their prospects are not exactly bright though. But lest we forget, Etan is More Than An Athlete. Thanks to TNIAAM, check out his column for Slam Online about the Don Imus fiasco. It’s amazing — unlike most of the talking head blowhards who are opining about Imus, Etan actually did some research about the man. Read it. You will appreciate it.

The Grizzlies have been out of playoff contention since, it seems, November. With Boston showing flickers of ability, and winning a couple games, Memphis is now assured of finishing in last place in the entire NBA. Hakim Warrick has continued to start for the Grizz as they build for the future. (Check that picture — didn’t I tell you he’d been crashing the boards recently?) After last week’s monster games, he cooled off a little bit, but still had 11 & 4 vs. Golden State, 14 & 8 vs. Orlando, and 12 & 4 vs. the Kings. Memphis has three games left and then they can focus on the draft lottery.

D-League

Gerry seems to have gotten over his ankle problems. He played 34 minutes in last night’s Bakersfield Jam game, notching 6 points and 7 assists. He has one more game coming, this Saturday vs. Colorado, and then the regular season is over (the Jam will miss the playoffs by a mile). Damone Brown had 22 points and 14 rebounds last Friday in 42 minutes, which may have tired him out since he only managed 6 and 6 on Saturday. The Skyforce conclude their regular season with a pair of games at Fort Worth Friday and Saturday, but they will make the playoffs. In fact, they are a game ahead of Fort Worth — this weekend’s games will determine which is the 2-seed and which is the 3-seed, and since the D-League playoffs are a 6-team affair with the #1s in each division getting a bye, they will be playing Fort Worth again next weekend in the first round of the playoffs. So these two games are basically to determine home-court for that series. All Sioux Falls needs to finish 2nd is to split the games since they hold the tiebreaker.

Europe

The playoffs have begun in Poland! Otis Hill’s Anwil squad is seeded fourth out of 8 teams. They dropped the first game of the three-game series, in double overtime. Otis was a beast with 35 points and 9 rebounds but they’ll have to take the next two or go home early.

Preston Shumpert had 20 points to help Benetton to an regular-season Italian League win on Saturday. Ethan Cole had 12 points and 12 rebounds in his most recent action. Elvir Ovcina had 10 & 9 in a loss Saturday.

New Zealand

Josh Pace’s team had a “bye week” this week, they next play this Saturday.

USBLDarryl Watkins may play his first USBL game tomorrow night. We’ll keep you Updated.

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One Response to “Playoff Push (Pro Update 4-12)”

  1. syracusan said

    I’m not entirely sure that I agree with the severity of the Imus punishment, but I will say that Etan is a damn good writer and makes his case extremely well. Think we could get him to do a guest spot on the CC sometime? 😉

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