The Boots are my form of reporting current information from the sports world. Boot Ups and Boot Downs are assigned to various events, people or stories as I first used in my e-mail based Sports Report. For possible topics in any future articles, as always, e-mail us at Tips@WaitingForNextYear.com.
Boot Up: Joakim Noah’s Future – If there was one thing that I learned in the series victory against Chicago, it is that Joakim Noah is the real deal. The agitating former Florida Gator averaged 14.8 points and 13.0 rebounds during those five games, and was clearly the leader of that mediocre team on both sides of the ball.
Derrick Rose did average an impressive 26.8 points per game, but required 25 field goal attempts per contest to put up those numbers. The 25-year-old Noah was efficient and relatively consistent against the Cavs throughout the series. Rose surely has a higher overall ceiling as a prospect, but Noah definitely had a breakout season in 2009-2010. Combining Luol Deng, Rose and Noah with another fringe All-Star could make for an awfully good team in another year or two.
Boot Down: Atlanta’s Playoff Past – Thinking out loud on Twitter before game 5 of Hawks/Bucks series, I wrote that Atlanta reminds me a lot of the Washington Wizards. Just a few years back, the Wizards were perennially one of the more exciting teams in the NBA Playoffs. Led by Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Gilbert Arenas and Brandon Haywood, it certainly was a talented ball club. The only problem was that the team never managed to make the next jump and actually make a splash in the Eastern Conference title scene.
Well the new Wizards may very well be the Hawks. Yes, this is getting ahead of myself since Atlanta now tied up the series at 3-3 with the deciding game seven at home, but take a look at this stat here: Since 1970-1971, the Hawks have never made it to the Eastern Conference Finals despite 23 playoff appearances. That means 23 straight playoff runs with no more than one series victory. This is easily good for the longest active streak in the NBA as those lowly Wizards are actually second with 12 straight such playoff misfortunes.
Boot Up: LeBron’s Historical PERformances – It is becoming a tiresome act to legitimately represent all that is impressive and historical about LeBron James. It was announced yesterday in breaking news by WFNY that he will become the 10th player in NBA history to win two MVP awards. He led the Cavs to the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs for the second year in a row and also continues to break statistical records. He recently became the new NBA active leader in career PER with a 26.86, passing teammate Shaquille O’Neal’s mark of 26.59.
Additionally, his playoff numbers over the past few seasons have simply been spectacular. Since 1990-1991, only seven times has a player ever finished with a 28+ PER while appearing in at least 15 playoff games. Those seven instances were done by Tim Duncan (once, most recent in 02-03), Michael Jordan (three) and Shaq (three). Last year, LeBron finished with a 37.4 PER, what would have been the modern record, expect he only played in 14 post-season games. He is at 34.6 in the PER category during these playoffs and hopefully, will finally have a chance to enter into this historic company.
Boot Down: Boston Talking Trash – I try to be as level-headed and realistic as possible about these Cleveland Cavaliers. Last year, I was the only one at WFNY to even predict that the Magic series would go seven games, let alone result in an playoff exit. This season, I am on record of saying that Boston remains a viable title contender and will be a challenge for any playoff team in either conference when it matters most. But these recent comments from a Celtics blogger definitely caught me by surprise.
The No Look Pass is an awesome and incredibly friendly LA blog that put together some neat previews of each round by each of the teams in the playoffs. Scott participated the other day in their Cavs second round preview, and John Karalis from Red’s Army then got the call for the Celtics. He picked Boston to win in seven and then finished with these poignant remarks. Just reporting the facts y’all:
I feel bad for the people of Cleveland. Most people I’ve met from Cleveland are very nice. You deserve a championship of some kind. What’s about to happen to you guys (again) is a damn shame.
Boot Up: Scoping the West – The Lakers advanced to the second round of Western playoffs last night, but I’d rather talk about the other teams in that conference instead. From day one this season, the West has been all about Los Angeles, and while I still think that they will end up going to the Finals, it’s nice to maintain some hope. When talking about the other three teams still remaining, #3 Phoenix, #4 Utah and #7 San Antonio, there are tons of story lines with one clear underdog emerging.
As much credit as they deserve for a rebound year, I don’t think I can take the Suns seriously yet. In fact, the team is 13-28 since the start of the 2003-2004 season against the San Antonio Spurs, about as overwhelming of historical evidence as you will ever find in a playoff series. The Spurs are starting to roll at the perfect time and are the most balanced/consistent team in the conference. I also really do like Utah. They are a very talented team around Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, and finished the season on a 34-12 tear. The Jazz will play scrappy against Los Angeles, but I just don’t see an upset happening.
Boot Down: Mavericks Collapse Again – While the Hawks and the Wizards set the bar for playoff futility in the East, the Dallas Mavs are up to their old tricks again. Dirk Nowitzki’s squad fell victim for an epic first-round upset for the second time in four years. A mid-season trade for Caron Butler and Brandon Haywood was not enough to propel the team any further this year, and that will be cause for celebration for John Hollinger fans around the world. The ESPN NBA stats expert had the Mavs low in his rankings all season despite their many wins, and their early exit vindicated his constant predictions.
It is now amazing to look back at the Nowitzki era in Dallas. The runaway MVP winner in 2006-2007 when his Dallas team lost to Golden State in the first round, Dirk turns 32 this offseason. He has a chance to be a free agent as well as he enters his 12th season in the league. Despite 10 straight years of playoff appearances and 50+ wins, Dallas never won a title in his playing career thus far. Who knows what could happen to this roster within the next four months, and it’s almost sad to see it potentially end this way.
(Joakim Noah photo is via Gregory Shamus/Getty Images and LeBron James/Rajon Rondo picture is via Joshua Gunter/The Plain Dealer)