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rmacomic
03-21-2007, 03:34 AM
Potential champs and also-rans
Here's the link:http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/6587116
The first, long lap is nearly run. While several teams will be happy just to remain ambulatory in four weeks, others are resolved to step up the pace and chase down the gold.

Let's take a first look at which of the playoff-bound teams have legitimate shots at winning the last game of the season.

CHAMPIONSHIP, OR BUST
The Dallas Mavericks will consider the season a total failure if they come up empty in June. They certainly have more offensive weapons than any other serious contender, and their improved defense is good enough to propel them to the title.

The Mavs' most vulnerable area, however, is one that haunted them last season against the Heat: their inability to take command of close ball games. The usual suspects are Jason Terry, Devin Harris, Josh Howard, and especially Dirk Nowitzki. Without Nowitzki overcoming his tendency to miss shots in the clutch, the Mavs will once again stumble in the home stretch.

The Detroit Pistons have the will, but not the power. Without Rip Hamilton's perpetual baseline scamperings, curls, back-cuts, and pops to stretch defenses into disadvantageous alignments, the Pistons rely too much on isos.

Moreover, history shows that once the going gets rough, Chris Webber produces more flubs than game-winning heroics. Even worse, Detroit still has too much trouble defending high screen/roles. If the Pistons break down before the finish line, then the next prominent vehicle on the scene should be a truck backing up to the players' exit at the Palace.

The fortunes of the Miami Heat depend entirely on the health of Dwyane Wade's left shoulder. If he's hale, hearty, and able to compete with his usual skill, grace, and intensity, the Heat have a chance to repeat. Otherwise, neither Shaq's revitalization, nor Eddie Jones miraculous resurrection are sufficient to keep the fires burning in Miami come the Ides of June. With so many key players growing long in the tooth, this is the Heat's last chance at glory.

The Phoenix Suns will depend on the presence of Amare Stoudemire to make the difference. After all, they only fell one win short of qualifying for the finals. And Steve Nash is arguably better than ever. Don't discount the rapid blossoming of The Blur, Leandro Barbosa.


Amare Stoudemire can still score, but needs a little more help. (Nick Laham / Getty Images)

For sure, all of the Suns' championship hopes seem imminently reasonable. Yet the length of their postseason journey will depend upon two very iffy factors: their ability to play effective half-court offense, and to tighten up their porous defense. The odds of Phoenix providing affirmative answers to both of these questionable aspects are long, but achievable.

The San Antonio Spurs have the versatility, the savvy, and the overall talent to return to the winner's circle. To get there, they need to bridge the dry stretches that have plagued their offense. That means more consistent point production from the likes of Bruce Bowen, Brent Barry and Michael Finley. Having Robert Horry remember the difference between a big shot and a brick would also help. If Manu Ginobili can maintain his brilliant-play as the air gets rarer and the competition more ferocious, then the Spurs will be the last team standing.

The Houston Rockets are the darkest horse in this category. In T-Mac and Yao, the Rockets are fueled by a matched set of potent scorers. For Houston to blast off into the stratosphere, however, Rafer Alston will have to make his perimeter shots and make impeccable decisions; Juwan Howard will have to prove that he's more than a career-long mediocrity; and Luther Head will have to hit his shots and complete his passes. Yao's lumbering defense is a problem area, but Houston can still generate sufficient stops to scare the daylights out of any of their more celebrated Western Conference rivals.


OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
The Cleveland Cavaliers are on the verge of being almost there. They have the requisite superstar in LeBron James, and a capable but erratic sidekick in Larry Hughes. But Drew Gooden is too ordinary, Ziggy Ilgauskas too soft, and Anderson Varejao too offensively challenged and mistake-prone. The X-factor for the Cavs is Sasha Pavlovic. If he can come up big (make that huge) in his first experience of meaningful playoff minutes, then LBJ could conceivably demonstrate that his reach exceeds his grasp.

The Utah Jazz need Andrei Kirilenko to remember what kind of lock-down defender he used to be. And they need Derek Fisher to be younger, quicker, and taller. Otherwise, there's too much pressure on Utah's medium-three Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams, and Memet Okur to carry the tune. Look for the Jazz to break into cacophony before the grand finale.


IF LIGHTNING SHOULD STRIKE ...
The Washington Wizards can cop the championship only if Gilbert Arenas averages over 50 points per game.

The Chicago Bulls will reign supreme if Ben Wallace forgets that he's closer to age 33 than he is to 32; and if Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, and Ben Gordon can consistently find the hoop from afar.

The Denver Nuggets' microscopic chances depend on awesome performances by Melo and A.I., coupled with somebody (anybody) stepping up and defending.

The Los Angeles Lakers can give Phil Jackson his 10th ring only if Kobe averages 60 ppg.


LEFT IN THE STARTING BLOCKS
Chris Bosh's shoulders are too narrow for him to carry the Toronto Raptos deep into the playoffs.

The Indiana Pacers are too ordinary to even think of surviving past the first round.

The only magic that will take place in Orlando will be an early vanishing act.

The New York Knicks won't get the benefit of every close call in the playoffs as they did at home in the regular season.

The New Jersey Nets are too soft in the middle. Also, Vince Carter's nickname really doesn't add up. It should be: one-third man, one-third amazing, and one-third choke artist.

The Los Angeles Clippers lack chemistry, perimeter shooting, and playoff-caliber defense. Should Sam Cassell suddenly discover the Fountain of Youth, however, then the Clips might extend their opening series to six games.

The Golden State Warriors high-powered offense and sputtering defense make them first-round victims.

Should the Charlotte Bobcats qualify for the playoffs, their season is an unqualified success. Doing anything more is out of the question.

The Sacramento Kings are playing for the dubious privilege of being swept by Dallas.

The Minnesota Timberwolves making the playoffs will only prolong the inevitability (and the wisdom) of exchanging the Big Ticket for a batch of players who have more heart than hype.

Rosen is quick to give his opinion about the teams he likes. but never really tells us who is his favorite. I could be a sportswriter if this is all it takes.

Also this is the first post like this I've ever done... so be kind:)

EricaLubarsky
03-21-2007, 04:00 AM
This is the in my opinion.

their inability to take command of close ball games.
no team has won more close games this year than Dallas. He needs to look at the numbers.

Without Nowitzki overcoming his tendency to miss shots in the clutch, the Mavs will once again stumble in the home stretch.
again its just from the media and Rosen doesn't look at the numbers or the play.

Thespiralgoeson
03-21-2007, 04:28 AM
If there was an Idiot Contest between Charly Rosen and Ric Bucher, it'd be pretty close. However, if there was an Asshole Contest between Charly Rosen and every other asshole in the world, Rosen would win hands down. I really hate this guy. He's not only an idiot, he's just plain mean. Jesus christ, Charly, is there nothing to be said for Dirk even getting to the Finals over Nash's team? Apparently not. Because to f*cking morons like this guy, no matter what happens, Dirk Nowitzki is the choker. I hope when the Mavericks do win this year, and this jerkoff jumps on the bandwagon, Cuban, or someone else from the organization tells him to promptly f*ck himself.

capitalcity
03-21-2007, 04:44 AM
I pretty much only trust two dudes with beards... Santa and his son Jesus Christ.

Flacolaco
03-21-2007, 08:02 AM
The Dallas Mavericks will consider the season a total failure if they come up empty in June. They certainly have more offensive weapons than any other serious contender....

Um.....thanks....but is he high?

V2M
03-21-2007, 08:37 AM
If there was an Idiot Contest between Charly Rosen and Ric Bucher, it'd be pretty close.

You can easily add Skip Bayless & Screamin A Smith to that list...

Dr.Zoidberg
03-21-2007, 08:39 AM
Rosen always was a twaddler and Mavs hater. He still brings the old prejudices against the Mavs and especially Dirk. This won´t change anyway, as this senile idiot never looks at the games or even the courant stats. F**k him.

alexamenos
03-21-2007, 10:09 AM
The Phoenix Suns will depend on the presence of Amare Stoudemire to make the difference. After all, they only fell one win short of qualifying for the finals

?

TripleDipping
03-21-2007, 10:54 AM
Rosen is a Kings fan.

LRB
03-21-2007, 11:34 AM
The fortunes of the Miami Heat depend entirely on the health of Dwyane Wade's left shoulder.




Perhaps Idiot boy might go into how the Heat were a sub .500 team when Dshoulder was healthy. True without DWhistles exceptional love from the refs they have no chance to repeat, but the Heat still have tons of other problems to address.



The Phoenix Suns ... After all, they only fell one win short of qualifying for the finals.



Apparently you don't even need to be able to use a calculator to be a national sports writer. Moron should take remedial math lessons and learn that only winning 2 games out of 6 is not 1 win short of taking a 7 games serie. Rosen pull you ugly head out of your ass and smell the crap on it. It takes 4 games to win a 7 game series and the Suns were 2 short not one.

Tokey41
03-21-2007, 01:20 PM
I'm still really surprised he calls Jet a choke artist of all the Mavericks... he's been then most clutch. Not to mention we usually win the close games as Hollinger would gladly point out for Rosen... and then call it luck. I don't think he watches any games besides the "big" ones.

On another note... Dime bumped us to number two on their rankings because the Suns beat us depsite losing their next two games. Apparently some games are worth more than others, I was under the impression each game either counts as one W or one L. Therefore shouldnt a double OT W be FAR less impressive than losing to Denver and Detroit in blowouts? They also say Nash is hard to argue against for MVP... what?

Flacolaco
03-21-2007, 01:52 PM
Rosen pull your ugly head out of your ass and smell the crap on it.

ha. that is some funny stuff.

endrity
03-21-2007, 03:05 PM
Man f.... the media, I am getting so pissed of lately. Rosen, Bucher, Barry, Legler, LZ Granderson or whatever his name is, f them all. I don't care anymore, I don't wanna know anything these guys say, they know nothing of the game, they come up with myths and then support each other. I hope Dirk wins the MVP but if he doesn't and then win the finals redemption will be even sweeter.