Princeton Times

Sports

November 17, 2012

Jeff's Sports Corner: continuing to preview the NBA season

PRINCETON — I haven’t yet rated the NBA Pacific Division, but to see Mike Brown getting fired after five games with the Los Angeles Lakers in a panic move makes me think that throwing in a combination of a 38-year-old point guard and a center coming off a back surgery with an entrenched scorer may not have been the best idea. I’ll say more when I get to the Lakers comment in a couple of weeks.

Finishing up with the Southeast Division, the defending World Champion Miami Heat has looked like a team determined to repeat. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and new addition Ray Allen have all clicked to date.

The Atlanta Hawks lost their best offensive player in Joe Johnson. They are back-court heavy with little depth up front beside Josh Smith and Al Horford. Basically, they get second out of default.

The Washington Wizards will not have John Wall for the early part of the schedule. They improved their talent with Emeka Okafor, Nene, Trevor Ariza and rookie Bradley Beal, so they could surprise.

The Orlando Magic traded Dwight Howard and Jason Richardson for a package of lesser talents. They have Charlotte to thank for their fourth-place ranking finish.

Michael Jordan has turned out like his playing nemesis, Isaiah Thomas, when it comes to running a team. The Charlotte Bobcats had the worst winning percentage in NBA history last year. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a good draft pick in my opinion, but the rest of the team are supporting cast members and role players.

I see the Heat, Celtics, Pacers, Bulls, Nets, 76ers, Hawks, and Knicks making the playoffs and the Heat and Celtics making the Eastern Conference finals, which I see the Heat winning 4 games to 2.

As for the Northwest Division of the Western Conference, I see the Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers finishing in that order.

I thought the James Harden for Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb trade was a mistake for the Thunder, giving the way Harden has played for the Thunder. Still, I can’t rank a team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook that low.

The Nuggets added Andre Iguodala, a perfect fit in coach George Karl’s offense. He’ll mix with Ty Lawson, Andre Miller, Danilo Gallinari and Javale McGee.

Minnesota will be missing Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio early. Brandon Roy comes out of retirement to at least play a sixth-man role and the team is much better than it was a year ago.

There’s really not that much a difference between the Jazz and Trail Blazers for fourth and fifth place. I’m thinking the Jazz, with Mo Williams and Paul Millsap, and better young talent have the slight edge. The Trail Blazers have LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and rookie Damian Lillard.

It seems that the relationship between Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers is about over. The team is reportedly not going to offer him more than a three-year contract, despite him being their best all-around player since he was acquired. I can’t rip the management too much, but I feel that they could use better judgment in this case.

As for the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons are 8-0 as of this writing, thanks to a defense that has allowed the third-fewest points in  the league, behind only two other NFC division leaders San Francisco and Chicago. Matt Ryan is in the MVP race and he has three good targets in Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White.

Jerry Jones is the only person on Earth who has yet to realize that he’s not a good general manager. As long as he holds that title, the Dallas Cowboys will never be a real factor in the NFL.

We’re seeing the last days of Andy Reid as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. The team is getting overpowered on offense as injuries have claimed four out of five projected starting offensive linemen and the defense is on its second defensive coordinator.

The Houston Texans have a 7-1 record thanks in part to the other three teams in the division scoring less points  than they allowed, even with the improvements shown by the young Indianapolis Colts. The Texans have a solid quarterback in Matt Schaub, weapons in Arian Foster and Andre Johnson  and a great defense led by J.J. Watt.

I was dubious about how much Peyton Manning had left. It turns out that he does have something left and he’s turning Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas into budding stars.

I like the way the Chicago Bears’ success has turned a lot of media types into sputtering fools, because they are upset that the disliked by them Jake Cutler is having a good year. The defense has returned seven interceptions for touchdowns and allowed only 120 points to date.

I can be reached c/o Jeff’s Sports Corner, P.O. Box 1199, Princeton, WV, 24740. I can also be reached at delimartman@yahoo.com or jharvey1@frontiernet.net or on Facebook.

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