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Fervor

Basketball Season

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Alright boys n' girls, ballers and cheer-folk alike. With the preseasons more than halfway over and the regular season on the horizon it's time for sports desk with Brandon. This offseason saw a huge re-tooling of rosters, a draft class that was relatively lacklustre as far as immediate talent is concerned but the potential to be big names persists. Then again no draft class has really been able to live up to the one that brought us Carmello Anthony, D-Wade, and Lebron.

We'll start this thread with a brief assessment of each conference's strength after the draft, trades, and free agency signings, then a list of play-off picks (I was 50% last year and if you subtract injuries, I would've been much better) with a brief comment about most.

I)

Eastern Conference: Still in my beliefs the 'sick man' of the NBA. Three of the NBA's top teams lay in this conference but when you stack up the overall caliber the three excellent teams of the eastern conference won't drag up the average enough to mess with the beast that is the West. Miami, Chicago, and Cleveland are all wonderful teams but not good enough to drag up the mediocre that is (an improved) Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Indiana Pacers, and Atlanta Hawks division. I do like the East's chances in the play-offs, but I'm not gonna toss my money on the East, as the shift of some players around in this conference only concentrated talent at the top.

II)

Western Conference: The most re-tooled conference in the NBA and the Southwest Division is most likely going to see all of its teams landed in the play-offs. The West has once again come out on top in the most talent per team than the East. I'm staring down the barrell of a loaded gun and if you're going to watch some great games watch any non Portland Western Conference game and you'll be entertained. The Lakers made limited moves this offseason but they're still good, the Clippers are just as amazing, the Warriors will put up a fight but let you down again this year, but all in all the West looks AMAZING this year. A tight post-season contention will be had and if injuries are barred I am going to go out on a limb and call the west to make the NBA Title theirs this year.

Play-off Picks:

1.) Miami - Last season proved their roster was good and willing to run. Shaq loves to repeat his titles so I'm expecting Miami to be vicious this year. Limited roster transactions did alot to help this squad build chemistry and they can definately fire on all cylinders.

2.) Chicago - Bullies of the East now. After adding the defensive monstrosity that is Ben Wallace this off-season Chicago now has that power player they've always needed on the low block, a man that will push most other, larger, centers out of the way, swat shots, pick pockets, and grab boards. Nocionni is coming into his own, Gordon is a ringer from outside and can get to the hoop, Hinrich is in the same boat, and PJ Brown is gonna add alot of mentality to the young team. Great move on the Chandler trade, but dumb move to ship J.R. Smith out, I believe in the kid.

3.) Cleveland - I haven't really seen much out of the Cavs in the off-season so I'm not 100% sure about these guys, but given the strength they displayed last year and the fact that they now have that swagger and play-off experience in them, is going to them a world of good in the east this year.

4.) New Jersey - If Marcus Williams pays off, you've got an improved bench, one of the best trios in the NBA, and a fearsome force last year. Williams is going to knock down a few open jumpers given his stroke gets working, he's a decent size at the point, and he's got a wonderful mentor in Kidd. Jefferson is improving his game to add a shot to that high-flying game, and VC, enough said.

5.) Detroit - I'm dropping the bad boys of Detroit down to 5th this season. Losing Big Ben is gonna hurt and Nazr Mohammed to replace him? You've gotta be kidding me. Kudos for bringing in another center but a guy who averages something like 5 points per game last season and 3 or 4 boards, you're not gonna have alot of offensive production out of him and there is a laundry list of better centers in the NBA that will abuse the man on the block. Sheed, Billups, and Hamilton won't be able to pull it out, a great trio but when they go cold or face up against a defense that can now concentrate on stopping drives (Due to Mohammed's poor offensive output, yes Ben didn't put up offensive numbers but he was always a threat to just knock you down as he threw the ball through that hoop) Detroit will stalemate unless they put alot of work into their offensive game this year.

6.) New York - I'm going to give in and say given pressure from management Isaiah Thomas is going to force a melding of the roster. Yes, all wonderful individual talents but under this new coaching style I can see Marbury handling the offense much better. Last year Brown was a defensive minded conservative offense guy, every single player on that knicks roster wants to take the ball to the rim or just bomb it from the outside. Look for the reigns in Marbury's hands and an increased concentration on a game that goes through Eddie Curry to help spur his maturation on. The Knicks will clock in about 6 or so if they can get it all firing, and I believe if Thomas doesn't win there will be another sort of firing, so I'm expecting results.

7.) Boston - Improving themselves a great deal, dealing out inconsistent 'star' caliber players for some consistency and youth, messing around with the draft day deals, and bringing in some support for Paul Pierce is going to give Boston a huge bump and get em' over that play-off hurdle at the end of the year. Telfair is going to man the point with some experience if West is relieved of his position, Gerald Green is a flyer who will continue to improve his game, Pierce is a beast, Ratliff is gonna swat some shots and save you some points, and whoever they option out at Power Forward is going to develop a back to the basket game and provide some muscle underneath, but I have faith in the Celtics.

8.) Washington - This is my wild card. I'm unsure whether it will be Washington or Milwaukee. Milwaukee added Villanueva for some defense and production on that power forward spot, but they lost Magloire. Washington lost Jeffries, but they still have the option on Arenas, Haywood is showing intensity, Butler is coming into his own, I'm going to say Washington's athleticism and speed is going to help them just flat out-hustle the Eastern Conference if anything else.

Onto a a conference of unlimited possibilities due to plenty of key decisions and acquisitions.

Western Conference Picks:

1.) Dallas - They only strengthened their bench this year and they're going to push again deep into the play-offs. My personal bias says Dallas won't come out on top in the Texas Triangle rivalry but I wouldn't be surprised to see Dallas in the finals again this year. Howard is coming into his own, Harris proved to be a valuable asset, Dirk is always a star, Jason Terry lights it up, Diop is getting his grasp on center and they expanded bench depth even MORE this year.

2.) Phoenix - With Amare back the Suns are going to be able to run you ragged, shoot the lights out; and now; send your shot back to the halfcourt AND humiliate you by dunking you senseless. Phoenix is going to be able to make a hearty run if they can bulk up their defense, we saw Raja Bell carrying it, Raja and Amare aren't gonna be enough, maybe bring Nash some D and Phoenix emboldens their shot at title.

3/4.) San Antonio - The aging powerhouse of the West gets a possible 3/4 tie with the next to be mentioned team. San Antonio shipped out Nazr Mohammed but returns their core group, Ginobli and Parker play with explosive energy and if they can get ample production out of their draft picks, you'll see another strong run this year. However I think San Antonio's age is gonna show and Popovich's style of game is slowly getting phased out by where David Stern is taking the rules of the NBA. I expect San Antonio to hit at best 3rd or 4th, a worst 6th maybe.

3/4.) Houston - After being crippled by injury last season the team that stirs hopes up to let you down in the play-offs is re-tooled, faster, younger, and a definate threat. The scout read-out on Houston right now is if you can take McGrady out of the game, either through running him ragged on defense or foul trouble, you have a chance to beat Houston, and still then, it's an uphill battle. Yao proved at the end of last season he can be the elite center of the NBA, a healthy McGrady will berate you all over the court, Shane Battier is going to get in your head as a defender and he can be a scorer if called upon. Wells proved in the play-offs last year he can be quite the pest on both ends of the floor. Hayes has shown strides in improvement, Head proved last year he's a solid guard, Snyder will bomb from the three point line, Alston has improved his three, Spanoulis has experience of the FIBA Championships, Howard is still somewhat solid but Hayes is ready for that slot. Houston has a bench that goes 5-6 deep, putting them in contention to reach deep into the play-offs.

5.) Memphis - After the acquisition of Swift back (which he was angry about the trade back) and Rudy Gay (wonderful potential) Memphis also shifted some players around to look like a good team. Gasol's injury at FIBA is gonna sideline him for the first two months I believe of the season, however, if Memphis can hold out at around .500 this season, and Gasol will return, I believe Memphis can make a push for 5th in the west. I'll consider Memphis one of my wild-cards given Gasol's injury, but I have faith in the Grizz, not to win their first play-off game, but to make it. Memphis will be possibly interchangable with:

(Option 5) Minnesota - The acquisition of Mike James was EXACTLY what Garnett was looking for and with Randy Foye drafted he'll be a boost. Minnesota was a disappointment last year but Garnett is a walking highlight reel, James proved last year he's one of the league's elite scorers and point guards, and Ricky Davis is an explosive offensive choice.

6.) New Orleans/Oklahoma City - Almost made it last year just with Chris Paul putting the team on his back. I think given their acquisitions this off-season they'll pull right through and surge up to 6th or so. Bringing in Peja Stojakovic, Tyson Chandler, and Bobby Jackson, New Orleans seriously worries me. Improved offense, some wonderful defensive boosts, quickness and youth, blended with a touch of vet for stability, New Orleans is going to have a wonderful year.

7.) Denver - Adding J.R. Smith really makes me believe Denver got the stability they needed in order to run into the play-offs, but I don't think Denver addressed as much as they should have in the off-season. Kenyon Martin, Marcus Camby, Carmello Anthony, and J.R. Smith isn't really a list of a 4 threat like most teams are gunning for in the West. Martin needs to prove consistency and calm, Camby is just a wonderful post-man, Anthony is amazing in general, Smith is gonna be a remarkable shooting guard, and Boykins/Miller just aren't viable point guard options. 7th at best for Denver.

8.) L.A.C - I'm not gonna give into the Lakers. They made it in under the radar last year and I don't think with the limited acquisitions they pulled this offseason they can do it. I do however believe in the Clippers. They shook some things around but their most valuable asset was their youth and now that play-off experience is in there, the Clippers are going to do a great job again this year. Maggette is progressing, Livingston is a 6'6" point guard in a shooting guard/small forward's body, Brand is a beast, Kaman is fine tuning his offense and becoming a monster.

There you have it, my play-off shots with wild card options in the NBA. We only have 82 regular season games to see how accurate I was this year. How's everyone else feeling about these picks and their upcoming season?

Go Houston!

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Cleveland fan here, or should I say, a hopeful...

Spidey B)

[/b]

i'm also a cleveland fan...always have been and always will be.. no matter how bad they do

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Amen, cept for the part I don't live in Cleveland, or Ohio for that part. I'm a Tennessee native at the moment, but it seems all my fave teams are in different states, cept for the Vols.

Spidey B)

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Descremination against Florida!!!! LOL. Hey, Orlando Magic is lookin good this year. With JJ on the roster and the other players getting better, we are bound to do better. Darko Milichic is starting to beef up, which means soon he will be a domanent center like the Magic need. Howard is steppign up again and so is Nelson. Battie will be a decent back up and J.J. should put their shooting % up. So dont leave the Magic out just yet, guys. I will give Clevland props tho. They got a good team.

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Orlando is still 2-3 years in the making of being in play-off contention again.

Grant Hill is old and slowing Orlando down, especially with his contract. Howard is still young but his experience in the Fiba classic is going to do them a great service. Battie adds age and knowledge, that's about it. Reddick is a pure shooter, you have to set him up for a shot, and he won't handle the point, so unless you have someone other than JJ to shoot and Howard to draw a double, you're not going anywhere because defenders will double down on Dwight and single cover JJ. Nelson has proven to be an apt point guard but he's the southern Eric Snow, solid at his job of dribbling and passing, but not excelling in either of those or anything else. Milicic is still a joke, his pick third in the draft was a slap in the face and Detroit is still kicking themselves over that pick.

Orlando is at best just outside the lottery this year. The big problem is youth needing leadership and experience along with production and talent.

I'm thinking Charlotte moves out of the lottery this year and begins to ruffle some feathers in the East, 1-2 years for those boys and they'll be play-off bound in 7th or 8th.

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Descremination against Florida!!!! LOL. Hey, Orlando Magic is lookin good this year. With JJ on the roster and the other players getting better, we are bound to do better. Darko Milichic is starting to beef up, which means soon he will be a domanent center like the Magic need. Howard is steppign up again and so is Nelson. Battie will be a decent back up and J.J. should put their shooting % up. So dont leave the Magic out just yet, guys. I will give Clevland props tho. They got a good team.

[/b]

i personally dont like jj...with a sister who is like in love with jj and duke university all i've heard about for the past few years...jj this duke that...so yeah. orlando is ok

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Well, I have too, but JJ is a good shooter and will add a little talent to the Magic. When I see a good pure three shooter like me, I have to give props. And yes, fervor, they are in that making, but they will do a lot better than they did with T-mac. I mean, all he did was take up salery space, cuz he didnt have anyone to play with and would go for less money. You need money to get decent players. T-mac had all their money, so they couldnt afford anyone else decent. But yes, they will not be overly awesome thing year, but they will at least be 50-50. Like you said, in about 3-4 years, they will be great.

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Looks like Houston is prepared to pull a 50 + win season this year, the new talent is all clicking together and showing their prowess, even if it is pre-season it was enough to get Zo ejected from anger. On top of all that, I'm more concerned with how Houston played the new talent together and the starters gelled with the team, and it was seamless (aside from some early turn-overs but nothing too bad).

So And1 my team wraps up pre-season play with yours, discuss afterwards? Hopefully it'll be on ESPN like this Miami/Houston one, probably not but one can hope, right?

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You do hafta think though, preseason never spells regular season. What happens in the preseason, stays in the preseason. After all, the Raiders were 5-0 in the preseason of football, and now they are 1-6, 1-5, whatever, they just stink.

There is always a chance McGrady's back will act up again too. So, as I said, you never know until the regular season has begun.

Spidey B)

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That's also to ignore that McGrady's summer has been dedicated to getting that back in shape, he dropped 15 pounds and beefed up to give his back support, as well, the main reason Houston's season last year was in the gutter was injury, but they've devoted an entire year to increasing speed, injury recovery time, conditioning, and overall health. On top of that the offseason acquisitions allow Houston to sustain the loss of either of their primary options.

Plus, everyone knew the raiders were a joke, they played their starters in the pre-season against everyone else's reserves. What Houston has been doing is using the pre-season as a way of tempering their starters back into the half an hour a night thing AND to see how the talent melds. I'm not even talking about numbers just chemistry, and Houston is really firing on that. Plus, with Houston's added bench depth they're gonna be hard to get past, every western powerhouse has an impressive bench and Houston's now on that path along with the 4 star line-up (McGrady, Yao, Battier, Wells (6th man, I know but it depends on whether or not Houston plays their small line-up)). Their acquisitions really do speak highly for the Rocket's season, which is why I'm putting them in the mix for the West's elite teams this year, and I'm giving them a 25% shot at winning the title this year out of the west. Phoenix gets a 35%, Dallas at 30%, San An at 15%, Minnesota 5%, Clippers at 10%.

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I didnt know Housten and Orlando are playing. When? I would love to discuss afterwards. I will always talk about basketball when I can.

I will give Houstin their props. They are a good team. They have managed to make T-mac a decent team player and Yao more than just a big body. Bonzie is a decent PG and Battier is a good PF. I will give them a good chance at the title, but I havent been watching preseason cuz m busy with my own basketball and working on my game. My dad, the coach of our team, thinks Im the third best on the team. Which is good being that the two better than me are, not to sound raceil (SP?) but, black and both can slam dunk and aer older than me. Anywho, Rockets will proly beat the Magic. They have lost a lot of their players to injuries in preseason and are still working on their bench. I wish they would just get rid of Hill already. He is a great guy and WAS a great player, but he has to face it. He is just too old. Too many injuries. He is taking up alot of the Magic's cap space. But, he only has one more year with them anyways. So let him have his glory. He did make the all-star team last year, but I think that was out of pity. Magic will be better next year with the cap space open.

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Congratulations to Orlando for winning the preseason finale. I'm impressed by the 23-5 run to close out the game and Howard, as usualy, impressive. However I will say this, Orlando was playing its starters (to my knowledge) and McGrady was able to drop 18 in 21, that might translate to problems for Orlando trying to guard some of the game's elite. As well someone nudge Yao to a slight ankle sprain, you're not on notice Orlando :P.

All in all, I'm thinking Orlando is still going to be a lottery pick, but after this year they'll move out of the lottery, IF the FA faerie comes and sprinkles some love on the market this next post-season, MAYBE Orlando will be a near-last seat play-off contender, if not, one more year of a mid to high first round pick then I'm going to declare Orlando viable. The biggest thing for those kids is just to keep plugging away, the franchise is restructuring and I believe in em', I used to be a big Orlando fan at the time of Penny/Shaq. I've always pulled for Houston though. I also wanna thank Orlando, for making the pre-season relatively balanced for Houston, last year they went 6-0 Pre-season then had all those injuries, maybe getting beat a couple of times will reverse that ;).

So congratulations to Orlando, fight hard this season and make me eat my words, move out of the lottery and go mid pick, the east definately weakened out so I could see a bit of a move so long as Nelson works the shooting stroke (he's been working on it and really needs a reliable one), Hill defies age and plays like he used to (or at least a glimmer of), Reddick is able to create a shot of his own, Howard just plays. The main thing holding Orlando back this year (As said other than cap space) is the lack of three offensive threats and more than one lock-down defender. Every NBA Elite team has three viable scoring options, 4 to 5 for the cream of the crop, a team no one can consistently double down on, ball movement will always open up a shooter/drive.

Right now where Orlando is you can double down on Howard and the only threat to knock down an open shot is Reddick, and you can just single cover him so Howard's passing options are what, Battie, Nelson, and Hill? Hill has shown age, Battie isn't gonna shoot, he'll make ya pee yourself when he dunks, but other than that, nah, and Nelson, he's gotta work on it, but he's still young, I've got hope.

Second, the lack of a presence of at least two lock-down defender types. We see Detroit had so much success years ago in having 5 on the court at any given time, Miami has it in Wade, Shaq, and Zo, Houston has Ming, McGrady, and Battier, San Antonio has... well, San Antonio. So a bit more defense along with offensive threats will remedy the Orlando problem. Just like I said, some patience and you'll be fine. Houston had to go through some it in the last days of Olajuwan's playing. I also think it's hilarious that Toronto took a trade of both draft picks for Olajuwan, gets the lottery won AND Houston just brings in Yao, so lucky.

So once more, congratulations to Orlando, 23-5 scoring run to end a quarter, reserves or not, a bench is important and Houston shot cold, Orlando capitolized.

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First of all, I dont even know who Orlando's starters are because they have so many players that deserve the spot. For center, Dirko is beefing up enough to become a great shot blocker, tho he already a great one (about three a game), but Battie is working hard to get himself in there. For PF, Dwight Howard, well, no need to comment on him. He will have a spot on the starting line for years to come if he keeps working like this. SF, If Grant Hill can come back stronger this year, then he will make it, but for now, Turkiglue is there. Pat is a pure bench man, so he will stay there for the a while. Bo Outlaw is just too old and skinny. I seen him in person and his legs are as big as my pinky. LOL. But Trevor Ariza, for a two-year rookie, is showing some good growth and may be taking over soon. SG, J.J. is thought t be fo sho starting, but Keyon Dooling may have something to say about that. Plus, they say that Travis Diener is stepping up. He went into double digits for the first time two games ago. PG, Nelson still over-plays anyone, but Arroyo showed that he is definitly good enough to start. I just wish that Keith Bogins would do something to help them. But the starters will proly be, PG: Jameer Nelson, SG: J.J. Reddick, SF: Hedo Turkoglu, PF: Dwight Howard, C: Dirko Milicic. But they still have a great bench.

But yes, props big to the Magic. I think that you will be eating your words because they are showing great growth. I think they may make it to the playoffs, but proly loose in the first round. But when they free up the Hill cap space and get a decent pick, they will be great. I am so ashamed that they picked that spanish dude and then he said he wasnt playing. Too bad, I heard he was a really good player too. Maybe one year he will decide to come over to the states and play some real ball.

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As big as your pinky? I think Outlaw is a sickly looking man, but I never envisioned him to be uber small (Not saying literally your pinky size but he's a rail? Ouch heh.

As far as your probably starters, I'm gonna agree, I think it'll be Turkgolu, Howard, Reddick, Nelson, and Milicic, however your appraisal of Darko might be a bit premature, he's still got a long way till he's a viable NBA center.

I think Milicic was an overrated pick by Detroit in that he has a long developmental process, the Euro league is typical of that sort of thing, usually a player from outside the states takes a while to change to the US game. I don't doubt his improvement, but he needs leaps and bounds. He IS making strides, but he'll need a bit more.

However Orlando's problem is overall offensive and defensive output, consider the locks in that line-up. Howard is a defensive lock, that's about it, offensively, Howard is the backbone, Turkgolu can hit the three consistently, but he's too lanky/slow to create his own shot, so it's again the double down single cover the only other one that can hurt ya, hopefully Reddick can alleviate that for the Magic this year. I'm sticking by my pick of early to mid first round draft (Non-Lottery) this year for Orlando, not to knock on em', but the picks I threw up there for top 8 in the east are just too much for Orlando at the current moment, even Charlotte has seen prospects come to fruition in Okafor being a best, Wallace being integral to that offense, and Felton proving he's a great court captain, instant production out of Morrison and I think Charlotte might even be able to cause a bit of a scare in the East this year.

To be honest, I almost completely forgot about Ariza and Dooling, they're going to be a HUGE spark off the bench, good development of that pair is gonna be integral to Orlando's success down the road, thanks for bringing them back up man.

Alright, I've gotta get crackin' on this school work and stuff, so peace out kids, more later.

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Yea, I saw him live and he is WAY too skinny. I dont know how Shaq doesnt break him in half. I have to give him props for being able to play with the big dawgs at his age and weight/size. He is 6'8 and only 220 pounds. I mean he is not too light, but he is REALLY skinny, promise.

The coachs say that he is improving drastically. Plus, he showed more than everybody thought last year. I think you are rating him a little too low. I mean, hes no Shaq, but give him his due. I mean in preseason, he was, I think, 8-10 point average. That is not bad.

Tecinically, you look at the preseason teams they beat, most of them were big dawgs. Given, it was preseason, but they werent just playing their starters. But I would have to agree with you. They will proly just miss the playoffs this year, but next year, look for them to go big.

At the time, Ariza is injuried, but its not serious. Everyone else have been having a few health problems, but I think it will work out. They have a good enough bench if they loose any of their starters early off. And yes, Dooling scored over 20 points two games ago and just shy of double digits in the last, which is good considering he didnt play much.

Ok, Ill talk to you later man. This has been fun. I dont get to talk b-ball with many ppl. I will be paying a lot more attention this year.

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Chicago and Los Angeles played spectacular statement games last night.

Chicago proved to the East, there's a new team on the block, and they're not going to backdown in any way shape or form. Chicago did a wonderful job of assaulting Miami.

The Lakers proved "we don't need Kobe and Phil to win" by taking out the top pick to win the west the Lakers established themselves as a tough contender that's going to have to be dealt with. Although I didn't pick the Lakers to even make the west, I'll give em' credit. They'll make a good push, however I still think as the year goes off the Lakers will wane off, Odom will decline in his aggressive play as Kobe returns as Odom usually feels eclipsed by Kobe's presence on the court.

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I dont know about the Lakers, but the bulls play the Magic. Im surprised the y beat the Heat. So what do you think the outcome will be Fervor?

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I was not surprised at all by the beating the Bulls handed the Heat, I saw a glimpse of the score between Orlando and Chicago and I just have this to say... WOW, Orlando was doing a WONDERFUL job. I don't know how that ultimately turned out but I am incredibly impressed to say the least. Maybe I should re-consider Orlando for 7th or 8th in the east this year. You're getting ALOT of respect And1 ;).

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Yea, they won by like almost 20. Over 100 points too. They did awesome. Grant Hill actually had 21 pionts and Howards 24, I think. Hill did exceptionally good for his age. JJ's hurt so he had to start, but now he may be the starter even when JJ gets back. They did awesome. They had their eyes open with passes, Howards receiving three allies. They had great defence, causing easily over 15 turnovers. I exspecially have to give props to Keyon Dooling's D. He did great. They did very good shooting wise, having a 61% shooting average. They did better than even I exspected and they played their second string most of the game. Howard could have easily scored 40, having 22 at the half. They had a 30 point lead at once. *bow* Thnx, Fervor. I have better taste than you thought, huh? I know my basketball now.

Edit: I messed up a little on the points. Howard had 27, Nelson 21, Hill 19, and Hedo 12. They play again tonigh against the 76ers. i think they'll win easy.

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Team Check:

Houston 2-2, lost to Utah and New Orleans (Only two undefeated teams), defeated the Western Conference Champs (Mavs) and the Grizzlies. So far so good, Yao is dominant and Tracy is getting back into it, Battier is looking great. Alston is knocking down open shots and the bench is reliable. Houston all the way baby.

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And Yao Ming is officially a beast...

This year's stats:

2.3 Blocks per game

59.6% from the field

86.7% from the charity stripe

9.3 Rebounds per game

34 minutes per game

26.2 Points per game

Including two 30+ point games this year already, the man has strapped Houston to his back since McGrady's slow start. Houston's up to 4-2 and tonight on ESPN (8 Eastern) we get to witness perhaps the turning of the tide, Ming takes the mantle as the NBA's elite center, Shaq declines due to wear and tear and age. We'll see tonight in the battle of the Big men, Houston v. Miami.

Anyone else got something they're uber proud of their boys this year?

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