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John Picacio
Posted on Saturday, January 10, 2004 - 12:54 pm:   

I haven't been paying heavy attention to the Association thus far....but I'm rather surprised to see the Kings atop the pile....all this with no Webber! Pretty impressive....

The Spurs have climbed out of their doldrums and are playing nasty defense and winning ugly as usual....they've gone from last place to first place....thanks to winning 16 of their last 17....they just signed Charlie Ward so that should help give another 3-point threat and some rest for starting point guard Tony Parker...

I hear a lot of doubt about the Lakers right now with the Malone and Shaq ailments, but let's be serious -- they're just lurking in the weeds...come playoff time, they'll be ready...they're only two games off the NBA Best pace right now, even with all the distractions...I think it IS significant that the Mailman is showing his first signs of prolonged injury for the first time in his career....it had to happen sometime....but the Lakers are just biding their time....same old, same old....but they're not invincible....

The Wolves and the Nuggets are holding steady....the Wolves are coming out of the first round this year, almost for sure....they look much more well-rounded than in past years....can't say the same for the Nuggets...I think they'll eventually fade....they'll make the playoffs, but not be a huge factor....Carmelo is amazing, but that team doesn't seem to do too well on the road....the Midwest is still an amazing division....it's January and the last place team is only one game below .500!! That's pretty stiff....

In the East, I keep hoping for good things for the Bucks as I hope that rookie (and ex-Longhorn) T.J. Ford can spark that team to a nice run...they've won five in a row of late....tonight Indiana comes to San Antonio for a tough, tough matchup....that's gonna be a helluva game....in the pre-season, I thought it would be New Jersey taking the East for sure, but if Indiana stays healthy, they're gonna be awfully nasty...

Down here in S.A., Jason Kidd played us like an old record this off-season when he used the Spurs to build leverage in his re-signing with the Nets....(which is certainly his prerogative in the free agent waters) and played us along just so he could up the ante with N.J......I hated to see Alonzo Mourning retire the way he did, but privately, I had to wonder if J.Kidd wasn't regretting that long-term contract and boo-fooing the Spurs the way he did after that unfortunate event....

Right now, I think Indiana and New Orleans are going to be the teams to beat in the East. And in the West, who knows.....that's gonna be a dogfight for the ages!!! :-)

I still think it's San Antonio and the Lakers in the West Finals....and it'll be a matter of who can miss fewer free throws.....Shaq or Tim Duncan...two dominant players....two horrific free throw shooters...
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John Picacio
Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2004 - 09:09 am:   

The Pacers are nasty. Indiana and San Antonio played a helluva game last night and SA barely pulled out the victory in overtime, 89-88.....

I'm so impressed with Indiana. They're far better on defense than I thought. Just found out last night that they've got Mike Brown (former Spurs assistant) as their lead assistant coach and that's why their defense now looks so much like the Spurs. The Pacers have such a great mixture of youth and experience and I really can't see how anyone in the East is going to beat them after seeing this game.

I think only injuries can hold them back. Of course, all of that may be just a formality because the West is so dominant.

But I wouldn't look past Indiana, if they make it to the NBA Finals.....right now, they're 14-7 on the road and 9-5 vs. the West. That's a mean, mean team....
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Deborah
Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2004 - 09:33 am:   

Hey, John, I caught a couple of Cavs games during the holidays -- you seen any? Most nights they still can't finish, but between the Boston trade and LeBron, they aren't embarrassing any more. LeBron can actually shoot -- go figure.

:-)
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John Picacio
Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2004 - 09:59 am:   

I haven't seen a tremendous amount of Cavs action, but I've seen enough to think that they're still a year away from being a serious noise-maker. With the East as weak as it is, I think they still could slip in as an 8th seed, if they can mature a little. But that's asking a lot right now....

That team just can't buy a win on the road though. I think they've won two road games all season.....yikes....

I like Silas as a coach though and I think he'll shape that program in the right direction....it just won't be this year to expect results....

LeBron is the real deal....but I'm tired of the media trumpeting him as the next Jordan...enough!!! Right now, he's just a future All-Star in the making....no more, no less....this whole David Stern system of star-making (before due diligence is done) just gets OLD....

But he's a franchise player, no doubt, and as they put the right players around him, they'll be a beast in the East in a few years...maybe even a couple....
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Deborah
Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2004 - 10:40 am:   

Yeah, exactly...it's going to take time and patience, something not in great supply in the sports world, alas.

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