Tag Archives: Smoove

Marvin Williams Goes Biblical on the Knicks

Some highlights are just beautiful. This is one of those.

Of course, the true beauty is in Marvin Williams receiving the ball just as his man poorly gambles for a steal and catching two rotating Knicks defenders all primed for a poster. As far as vicious, leaning, one-handed tomahawks over two guys go, this clip rates as worth your time on that alone.

But the wonderful, little Joe Johnson dribbling clinic before the pass to Marvin and — way, way more importantly — the reaction of Josh Smith on the sidelines is what takes this from “dope dunk I’ll forget in three days” to “one of the more memorable scenes of this year’s NBA season.”

Toss in a little Marvin Gaye and it gets even better.

Unless you’re Ronny Turiaf or Amar’e, I mean.

Josh Smith and Defensive Recognition

There has been somewhat of a dust-up about the post-season awards voting process this year among media members. Long-story short, a few people were flabbergasted that LeBron didn’t win the MVP unanimously and couldn’t believe that up to seven writers/analysts/mascots (I’m actually not 100% who receives official ballots, honestly) voted for someone else. Two voters even had the stones to put LeBron third on their ballots.

“AN OUTRAGE,” screamed various fictional people I’m caricaturizing, who protested outside the NBA offices in New York burning effigies of Karl Malone, David Robinson and Stephen Nash. (They being past MVP winners who some think didn’t deserve their awards, you see.) About those who misguidedly voted for someone other than the King, critics have claimed incompetence (old writers don’t follow the league well enough to know any better), bias (at least one — and I believe two — of the people who voted for Dwight as MVP were from the Orlando area) and immaturity (one writer decided LeBron didn’t deserve the MVP for sitting out a few games late in the year). There is also obviously a level of bitterness from smaller writers who think themselves more qualified to vote than the bigger, older dogs who, in their eyes, spend more time filling out their TGIFridays comment cards than their awards ballots.

The whole thing has essentially been one huge, insider circle-jerk that the average basketball fan couldn’t care less about. (Matt Moore breaks it down further — and well — here if you do care.) I mean, LeBron, while not named MVP unanimously (something that I don’t believe has ever happened), did win by about 600 votes. That’s a lot. And no egregious mistakes were made in regards to the other awards either.

In the midst of all this shouting, however, there is an issue. And Bethlehem Shoals, as he is wont to do, wrote a banger today on the whole post-season award hullaballo that brings up some related issues of actual interest.

(Full disclosure: My man-crush on Josh Smith certainly makes me less than objective here. I pretty much thought the guy sucked until like 8 months ago and now he’s one of my favorite five players to watch in the league, so we’re still in that “don’t you dare say anything bad about my dude” phase of our relationship. No homosexual, naturally. Do the kids still say that? I sure hope not. It’s really offensive to gay people, I reckon. Again, no homo. Wait? Dammit…)

Shoals talks about how it’s pretty dumb that Smoove, this year’s runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year, did not even make the 1st-Team All-Defensive … team. (No redundancy.) Worse still, is the fact that he has been, as Shoals put it, “twice screwed by process,” as he was also oddly absent from this year’s All-Star team despite being the best player on an overachieving team that sent two others to Dallas (Joe Johnson and Al Horford).

Defensive Player of the Year … is the big enchilada. It was always fated to go to Dwight Howard — just as LeBron James had the MVP coming his way, except somehow it was okay if Smith or Gerald Wallace got some first-place votes. And yet Smith coming on in second spoke volumes. Whoever voted on the thing, it said to the public “dude is now among the premier defenders in the league.” For a public only so interested in these things, it was a nice hook. The boy has become a man. The Hawks are in the building.

And then, yesterday’s [All-Defensive Team] announcements, and with it, all that crumbling. Simply put, no amount of “who votes on what and why” can explain away Smith on the second team.

For the All-Star team, speculation, squeeze-outs, and self-interest are part of the game. But it’s okay, since justice will never be served. In these two cases of defensive awards, we have two ballots seeking to determine who defends better than others. The average fan could care less what ballot actually goes where, and why irregularities may be proof of corruption. The All-Star Game is inherently messed-up, a combination of irrational fan voting and coaches trying to pick up the pieces as best they can. Perfection is out of the question.

All-Stars, though, don’t need attention. All-Star Weekend is an event. The defensive awards? They need to be making a push for relevance.The way not to do that? Send conflicting signals whose only recourse is the the kind of explanatory inside basketball (who is the voter, why do they err) that casual fans have zero interest in.

It would be like if the MVP didn’t make the first-time All-NBA. Both would be cheapened.

Good stuff.

I’ve been saying all year that it was going to be awesome when Josh Smith makes 3rd-Team All-NBA without having even been an All-Star this year. Deron Williams pulled off that very feat in 2007-08, and I — being the pretentious, indie-snob-type of dude that I am — always enjoy when that happens. It earns the guy his “respect first, then money … basic shit” merit badge and basically turns them into an NBA version of In Bruges or Sean Price.

Heads know.

Most don’t.

Obviously, maintaining that below-the-surface superiority status is probably less appealing to guys like Deron and Josh. For them, these awards and All-Star appearances are career development. They can literally lead to millions of dollars. Smoove and DWill aint starving, so I’m not going to go on a hunger strike to ensure they receive their due props, but it goes to show that, yes, the voting process may actually have some flaws and there indeed may be real-world ramifications for real people, so the league should at least broach the topic of improving the process.

Because, at this point, I’m pretty sure Josh Smith won’t be making 3rd-Team All-NBA. And that’s a shame.

I would love to hear you try — and fail — to list 15 other guys who played better this season.

Kyler Korver

Kyle Korver also clearly got screwed over by All-Defensive Team voters. Make loud noises.

Hawks vs. Magic: There Is Always Hope

banksy girl heart hope

I love the Hawks. Love, love, love, love, love, love, love ‘em. I want to write sonnets to them on a breezy day as I sit in the grass with a bottle of Shiraz. I want to take them to the state fair and win them giant stuffed tigers. I want to meet their dads. I want to surprise them with breakfast in bed on their birthday with their favorite meal of eggs over medium, grapefruit and blueberry pancakes.

But they can’t win this series. They just can’t. It’s a terrible match-up for them.

When trying to evaluate how a Playoff series will transpire, I’m not really into the whole “so-and-so beat so-and-so in the regular season” thing. And neither should you be. There are way too many variables — injuries, road trips, back-to-backs, the general malaise of the 82-game schedule — to take any of that very seriously. A seven-game Playoff series is a whole different animal. There are no surprises after Game 1, and anything a team does will be figured out and adjusted to by the other team. (Unless, ya know, Vinny Del Negro or Isiah Thomas is coaching.)

Still, the degree to which the Magic stole the Hawks’ lunch money this year can’t be ignored.

November 26, 2009 – Orlando 93, Atlanta 76
January 9, 2010 – Orlando 113, Atlanta 81
January 30, 2010 – Orlando 104, Atlanta 86

To their credit, the Hawks did manage to take the last regular season match-up in late March, winning an odd, dramatic, 86-84 affair in the ATL when Josh Smith’s walk-off tip dunk overshadowed a huge shot by Vince Carter on the other end just seconds earlier. For Atlanta, that was a really big, confidence-inspiring win against a division rival. For Orlando, it was first time they had lost to this so-called “rival” in their previous seven outings.

It isn’t so much the scores that make this year’s games meaningful as it is simply how much the Magic dominated every facet of these games. The under-sized Hawks just have no answer for Dwight Howard (as much as I love Zaza Pachulia) and, even when he’s not scoring, his mere presence allows his teammates to score that much easier. Sure, this is true against all teams, but it’s all that much more pronounced against this particular team. And defensively, Superman disrupts everything the smaller, less athletic front line of the Hawks do well.

It’s strange for Josh Smith to find himself out-classed in the springs, quickness and strength departments, but Howard has him trumped in just about everything. Put it this way, Smoove was hands-down the second-best defender in the league this year, in part due to him just being a man among boys nearly every time he took the court. There wasn’t anyone within miles of him. Now take that distance, triple it and that’s how much further ahead Dwight is than him in everything he does at an elite level (including, perhaps, three-point shooting).

Al Horford will also likely struggle. Atlanta doesn’t run much offense through their center, instead letting Horford score by out-quicking his opponent to the bucket on cuts, quick drives and putbacks. Understandably, he has found it difficult to do any of those things against Dwight. Though the differences are not enormous, he has shot fewer times, scored less and rebounded less against the Magic this year than he did against the rest of the league. And with a ramped-up Howard who is — rhetorically — ready to stop committing so many silly fouls and keep himself in the game now that the nuisance of playing the Bobcats is behind him, don’t expect a lot of easy looks for Horford.

Much more importantly, the entire Magic team just plays good defense (third best in the league). They’re very hard to score against. And while the Hawks are the second-best offensive team in the league and, thus, will be able to score in bunches, they will not be able to execute as well as normal in this series. Especially not late. “Iso Joe” isn’t going to cut it down in Disney World, guys. How many big shots do we really expect Joe and Jamal to hit going rover? What else are they going to do? Go to Marvin Williams in the post? Pick and roll with Joe and Josh? I just don’t see enough end-of-game offense on this team. I mean, they often struggled to score on key possessions against the Bogut-less Bucks. Are they really going to come up with something that works against the Dwight-full Magic?

On the other hand, on the other end, the Magic (the fourth best offensive team in the league) will be able to score.

Early and often.

Jameer Nelson, in particular, has been playing inspired ball so far this postseason, eating Raymond Felton’s soul over and over again in the previous series. With two 32-point games under his belt and shooting percentages of 48.4% from the floor and 42.9% from three, don’t expect Mike Bibby to slow his roll much. Jamal Crawford neither. And it’s not like Mike Woodson can slide Joe Johnson over to check Jameer without leaving Vince Carter free to erupt.

Meanwhile, Rashard Lewis, even if he doesn’t play great individually, will be drawing Josh Smith out of the paint, negating at least some of the time he can spend intimidating on the interior. Throw in the fact that the Hawks like to switch everything, and there will be a lot of mismatches where Josh is nowhere near the paint. And if he’s out of the way, look for guys like Jameer, Vince, Mikael Pietrus (expected to play tonight), Matt Barnes and even JJ Redick to get to the hoop.

Speaking of that huge list of capable perimeter players (plus let’s not forget Ryan Anderson, Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass on the interior), Orlando’s depth should be the final death blow. While I love their recently crowned — and deservedly so — Sixth Man of the Year, the Hawks don’t have much on the bench besides him and Zaza (sorry, Jeff Teague and Mo Evans). Good luck to Atlanta if ever Horford or Smoove get in foul trouble.

Add all this up, and it’s just really hard to see the Magic doing anything in this match-up other than brushing the dirt off their shoulder and then sitting around, waiting to see how much Boston can wear down the Cavs before the inevitable Eastern Conference Finals we’ve all (except for Mo Williams) been waiting for commences.

Thanks for this season, ATL, but, unfortunately, this is where we have to part ways.

I’ll always remember you.

Magic in 6.