Author Archives: Jared Dubin

Hi! How Was Your Summer? Portland Trail Blazers

2012-13 W-L: 33-49

New Faces: Terrel Harris, Robin Lopez, Thomas Robinson, Earl Watson, Mo Williams, Dorell Wright

New Places: Luke Babbitt (unsigned), J.J. Hickson (Denver), Jared Jeffries (waived), Eric Maynor (Washington), Sasha Pavlovic (waived), Nolan Smith (unsigned), Elliot Williams (unsigned)

Drafted: C.J. McCollum (10), Allen Crabbe (31)

The Blazers hung around the fringes of the playoff race for far longer than anybody expected last season. LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum and Damian Lillard powered a starting lineup that was actually pretty decent for most of the year, but the bench unit was an outright disaster.

So Neil Olshey went to work this offseason acquiring pieces to supplement his starting lineup. He gave up two European stash prospects and two second round picks to acquire Thomas Robinson, who this time last year was a top-5 pick about to enter his rookie season. Sacramento gave up on him, and Houston just gave him up. Now he’s got a chance to really get some minutes.

Portland then inserted itself into the Tyreke Evans-Greivis Vasquez trade, and got a serviceable center who can actually play some defense for its troubles. The cost was just second round pick Jeff Withey, a future 2nd round pick, and cash. Lopez is a guy who finally allows LaMarcus Aldridge to shift to his preferred position of power forward pretty much full time (even if LMA and the Blazers have been more successful when Aldridge plays the 5), and also one who can both run and defend the pick and roll in equal measures. He’s solid, and that’s basically all you need next to an All-Star at the other big man slot.

The rest of the offseason was about adding firepower. C.J. McCollum was probably the best scorer in the draft. Allen Crabbe was considered one of the top shooters in the draft. Mo Williams and Dorell Wright are three point bombers. These guys will all get their chances to light it up from outside. LMA, Batum and Lillard are still the bell-tollers in Rip City, but now they’ve got some teammates who can actually make defenses pay for doubling off them.

McCollum and Williams figure to split their time between backing up Lillard at the point and also playing next to him some, and may share the backcourt without Lillard at certain times as well. Crabbe will swing between the 2 and 3 spot, Wright will do the same at the 3 and 4, and Robinson can soak up some front court minutes at either spot, if Portland decides it wants to go small when Aldridge is in foul trouble (for example). There’s a lot more versatility here than there was last season.

These moves, while impressive within the limited financial outlay with which Portland made them, do not push the Blazers over the top into the realm of contenders. But they should probably make the playoffs, which is a fine first step.

Hi! How Was Your Summer? Philadelphia 76ers

2012-13 W-L: 34-48

New Faces: Sam Hinkie (General Manager, Houston Rockets), Brett Brown (Head Coach, San Antonio Spurs), Furkan Aldemir, James Anderson, Royce White, Tim Olbrecht

New Places: Andrew Bynum (Cleveland), Jrue Holiday (New Orleans), Justin Holiday (waived), Charles Jenkins (Europe), Dorell Wright (Portland), Nick Young (LA Lakers)

Drafted: Nerlens Noel (6), Michael Carter-Williams (11), Arselan Kazemi (54)

The NBA: It’s taaaaaaaaaaanktastic!

The 76ers were quiet in the weeks leading up to this year’s NBA Draft, then promptly blew up their team on draft night by shipping Jrue Holiday (along with the rights to Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson) to New Orleans for Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first round, which seems likely to land somewhere between 8 and 15. Holiday – who made his first All-Star team last year before dropping off dramatically in the second half of the season – was considered an integral part of Philadelphia’s future right up until the moment he wasn’t. Sam Hinkie plays like that, apparently.

Hiring Hinkie as the general manager was Philadelphia’s big move of the summer. Hinkie studied at the foot of Daryl Morey for the last eight years, and his way of doing things represents a drastic shift from the previous regime of Doug Collins, Rod Thorn and Tony DiLeo. Though Morey took the “tread water as a mid-tier team while stockpiling assets” route to rebuild the Rockets, Hinkie is going a different direction. The Sixers are tanking, and they’re tanking hard. Hinkie’s first big move was the Holiday trade, which undoubtedly weakened the roster for this year. He followed that up by letting every player of substance walk in free agency, and replaced them with the uninspiring group of Royce White, James Anderson, Tim Olbrecht (?) and Furkan Aldemir.

Noel was a developmental big man prospect to begin with – even if he was the presumed No. 1 overall pick before the Cavs shocked everyone including Anthony Bennett by taking Anthony Bennett – and it’s also likely he’ll miss at least part of the season recovering from his knee injury. Carter-Williams is a developmental point guard prospect who can’t shoot, which makes him an awful fit next to Evan Turner, who was a “contribute right away” pick a few years ago, but also can’t shoot. Kazemi is an intriguing prospect, but probably can’t be counted on to provide too much help right away.

Luckily, Hinkie recently tabbed former Gregg Popovich assistant Brett Brown to be his head coach (even though this hire was rumored back in June, it didn’t become official until recently). Brown, as Brett Koremenos (who’s getting a lot of linkage up in here) wrote at Grantland, is considered an excellent developmental coach. He’ll be tasked with improving upon the skill sets of some raw but talented youngsters and molding them into a cohesive unit. Between Noel, MCW and the two first round picks Philly has in the 2014 draft, Brown will have a whole lot of young, cost-effective players to work with over the next few seasons. How much of Popvich’s system he brings with him remains to be seen, but if he can simply do for Philly’s youngsters what he’s been doing for San Antonio’s the last handful of years, the Sixers will be in a good place; or at least a better place than they are right now.

Hi! How Was Your Summer? Los Angeles Clippers

2012-13 W-L: 56-26

New Faces: Doc Rivers (Head Coach, Boston Celtics), Darren Collison, Jared Dudley, Byron Mullens, J.J. Redick

New Places: Vinny Del Negro (Head Coach, contract not renewed), Chauncey Billups (Detroit), Eric Bledsoe (Phoenix), Caron Butler (Phoenix), Grant Hill (retired) Ronny Turiaf (Minnesota)

Draft: Reggie Bullock (25)

Quite an eventful offseason for Los Angeles’s little brother team, huh? In addition to turning over one-third of their roster, the Clips made sure to re-sign one Christopher Emannuel Paul. Keeping CP3 in Lob City was obviously the biggest move the Clippers made, as the subsequent maneuvers Gary Sacks (or whoever is running that team these days) pulled off likely never happen if that first domino doesn’t fall. Paul was placated enough by making the move to bring Rivers over from Boston that he re-upped with a maximum five-year, $107.3 million deal that will keep him in red, white and blue through at least the rest of his prime.

The Rivers saga, in and of itself, was enough to fill the back pages of most newspapers from now until the end of time. The deal was on, and the Clippers were getting KG, too. And then it was off, after David Stern made it known that no contingent deals would be allowed on his watch. A few days later, the deal it was on again, this time as two separate transactions. And then it was off, after Stern said that wouldn’t fly either. Eventually, Boston and LA settled on an exchange of Rivers for two future a 2015 first round draft pick. The whole thing was terribly annoying, particularly the transparent leaks coming from Los Angeles (Boston is one of the tightest-lipped teams in the league, as it proved when it hired Brad Stevens to be Rivers’ successor and no one in the media had even mentioned him as a candidate).

With Rivers in tow and CP3 signed up for the long term, the Clippers set to finally unloading backup point guard/should have probably been starting shooting guard/all-around dynamo/”mini-LeBron” Eric Bledsoe. Rivers (or Sacks, or whoever) sent Bledsoe to Phoenix along with Caron Butler, where former Celtics Assistant General Manager Ryan McDonough can make Bledsoe one of the pillars of his rebuilding effort, and make Butler disappear once his bloated contract runs out. In exchange, the Clippers got sharpshooting wing Jared Dudley (career 40.5 3PT%), who will provide more spacing around Paul-Griffin and Paul-DeAndre Jordan pick and rolls than any player the Clips have had in that spot over the last two seasons. Oh, and in the same deal, the Clips also snagged (stop me if you’ve heard this before) sharpshooting wing J.J. Redick (career 39.0 3PT%), who can serve as a secondary ball-handler and pick and roll threat when Paul finds him on the wing.

Dudley and Redick aren’t defensive savants, but they’re not slouches either. They can hold their own against most NBA shooting guards and small forwards. Redick is never out of position (at least according to Stan Van Gundy, his old coach in Orlando), and Dudley has the size to body up bigger forwards when called upon. For the toughest assignments, the LeBrons, Durants, Melos and Hardens, LA still has Matt Barnes waiting in the wings. Reggie Bullock was snagged with the 25th pick in the draft to be, essentially, a combination of Redick, Dudley and Barnes. He’s a 3-and-D wing prototype if there ever was one. He’ll want for minutes early on, but by the end of the season, he could be a valued contributor.

Collison was brought in to fulfill has manifest destiny as Chris Paul’s backup. He started his career in New Orleans backing up Paul, and after an underwhelming tenure with the Pacers and a disastrous season with the Mavericks, he’s right back where he started (sort of), backing up the league’s best point guard. He came cheap ($1.9 million), and his deal is short (one year, with a player option for a second), but he’s more than capable of handling the short minutes he’ll be counted on to provide.

The only place the Clippers misstepped this offseason was with the backup big man signings. Griffin and Jordan are a lot of things, but they’re not top flight defenders. Signing Hollins and Mullens to be the backups just exacerbates the problem. That’s the worst defensive duo this side of Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani. The Clippers, as [insert character] on [insert Aaron Sorkin show] said, did a big thing badly.

But we shouldn’t allow that to overshadow the big-time steps forward LA took this summer. Weird as it is to say, the Clippers are a real contender.

Hey, You Never Know

Right from the start, the 2013 NBA Draft kicked ass.

After months upon months of talk about how the draft was weak (and possibly the weakest since 2000), the NBA treated its fans to what was without a doubt the most entertaining draft of my life. It started – for the second time in three years – in Cleveland, where Chris Grant is apparently the most effective smoke signal-sender of all time, because the only person who thought the Cavaliers would draft Anthony Bennett, was Anthony Bennett.

Presumptive number one overall pick Nerlens Noel dropped all the way to the 6th selection, and for a scant few minutes something called The Thin Towers existed. But rather than patrolling the paint with Anthony Davis, Noel will be pioneering a new era in Philadelphia. Incoming Sixers GM Sam Hinkie showed just how much Daryl Morey taught him, blowing up a mediocre team by sending Jrue Holiday and his 2nd rounder to the Pelicans for the draft’s best big man and a (top-3 protected) 2014 1st round pick.

Hinkie’s been on the job a little more than a month and he’s taken a team that looked like it was going to sit in NBA purgatory for a few years, given it a direction, a new coach (former San Antonio assistant Brett Brown; the story was broken in the middle of the 2nd round) and snagged two picks in what is consistently being hyped as a loaded draft along the way. The Sixers then snagged Michael Carter-Williams with their 11th pick, ensuring they will have the worst shooting backcourt in the history of ever if they don’t trade or bench Evan Turner.

In between all that action, Orlando scooped up Victor Oladipo and Washington completed its perimeter trio by taking Otto Porter to complement John Wall and Brad Beal. Both were expected moves. But then Michael Jordan shook up the draft board by making Cody Zeller the newest Bobcat, which led to Alex Len landing in Phoenix, where the best training staff in the league can make sure his ankle heals correctly.

The new Sacramento regime somehow lucked into Ben McLemore, considered by some to be the most talented player in the draft. Detroit surprised by taking Kentavious Caldwell-Pope rather than Trey Burke, who was drafted 9th by Minnesota only to be quickly shipped off to Utah for the 14th and 21st picks. While we were all gasping for breath, the Blazers picked up another high-scoring combo guard from a small conference, bringing CJ McCollum into the fold.

Oklahoma City put in failed bids to move up to a few different slots, but they eventually stayed put and took Pitt’s Steven Adams, who had the New Zealand flag sewn inside his coat. The Mavericks had been trying to move out of or down from the 13th pick for weeks, and the Celtics helped them out by flipping the 16th pick and two 2nd rounders for the right to draft Kelly Olynyk. And Danny Ainge was just getting started. More on that later.

The 14th pick saw the Jazz select Shabazz Muhammad for the Wolves, but Shabazz didn’t show up to the draft until six picks later. The Bucks were connected to a host of different point guards in the days leading up to the draft, but they went and took Giannis Antetokounmpo instead, and apparently will not be stashing him in Greece for a year. I’ve never seen him play, but I’m pretty sure I heard Fran Fraschilla describe him as having a Kevin Durant body. I couldn’t tell if that was supposed to be a good or bad thing.

Dallas held Boston’s 16th pick, but they made their second deal in about 20 minutes by sending the rights to Lucas Nogueira to Atlanta for the 18th pick (Shane Larkin), as well as the 44th (Mike Muscala, who may or may not be headed elsewhere, I honestly don’t remember). Nogueira hopped out of the crowd to provide us with maybe the greatest draft day picture in the history of draft day pictures.

Nogueira

Nogueira’s suit button comes up to David Stern’s chin! The tie bar is lined up with Stern’s glasses! Look at that hair! Look at that Celtics logo behind him! It’s a masterpiece.

Atlanta then scooped up a point guard to either replace or back up Jeff Teague, the Cavs picked up a shooter in Sergey Karasev and Chicago took Tony Snell, but somehow Shabazz Muhammad wound up on stage shaking the Commissioner’s hand in a Utah Jazz hat even though he’ll play for Minnesota. Shabazz seemed happy to be playing with Ricky Rubio, in case you’re curious.

Minnesota used Utah’s second pick to take Gorgui Dieng, and then the Nets took Mason Plumlee, which led to Jason Kidd denying there was anything to report about a possible Nets-Celtics trade about 45 minutes before the trade happened, but again, we’ll get to that later. That wasn’t even the most awkward part of the Kidd interview at the time, though. Kidd was asked about the Knicks team he played on last year’s season-ending defeat at the hands of the Pacers, and in answering referred to the Knicks as “we,” which I am reading way too much into because I’m too close to the situation. The fans in Brooklyn cheered the selection of Plumlee, but booed David Stern.

After Indiana took Solomon Hill (who was compared by Jay Bilas to Draymond Green, who shot 32.7% in the regular season last year before playing some pretty good playoff minutes), the Knicks took Tim Hardaway’s son, who somehow became the first Knicks draft pick in recent memory to not get loudly and universally booed. It was the upset of the century. Hardaway, of course, was on my annual “guys I don’t like” list, which I actually prefer because I’m funnier when I’m angry than when I’m happy.

The Clippers gave Doc Rivers another shooter to work with in Reggie Bullock, and then five of the last six picks in the 1st round got traded. Minnesota sold 26 to Golden State, who then sent it over to Oklahoma City for 29 (Archie Goodwin, who was later sent to Phoenix in exchange for somebody named Nemanja Nedovic, the 30th pick, and presumably some cash, maybe a player? I honestly don’t know.) and cash. OKC took Andre Roberson. The Nuggets picked Rudy Gobert 27th, but they were drafting for Utah, from whom they got the 44th pick and cash.

The Spurs were the only team in the bottom six to keep their pick, and they took a typical foreign Spurs guy who will inevitably be an All-Star in four years. Gregg Popovich lost three assistant coaches this offseason, but he brought in Jim Boylen from Frank Vogel’s Indiana staff.

As David Stern walked to the podium for the 30th pick, the crowd, after hours upon hours, and indeed years upon years of booing Stern at previous NBA Drafts, finally showered him in cheers. Stern had been basking in the boos all night, often egging the crowd on, cracking self-deprecating jokes (“I’ll have to explain to our international audience that the boo is an American sign of respect”) and generally acting David Stern-like. He was clearly moved by the adoration, but still responded with a classic Stern quip, telling the crowd to, “Stop it. You’re running all the fun.”

And that wasn’t even the best part of Stern’s final pick as Commissioner, because after being handed the reins to announce the 2nd round picks, Deputy Commission and future Comissioner Adam Silver brought out HAKEEM FREAKIN OLAJUWON, the first player Stern ever announced as an NBA draft pick, to shake Stern’s hand and commemorate the occasion. As if that weren’t enough, this was the EXACT MOMENT that Woj decided to break the rumored Celtics-Nets trade.

Brooklyn agreed to send Kris Humphries’ expiring contract, Gerald Wallace’s albatross contract, Keith Bogans’ new contract, Reggie Evans, Tornike Shengalia and 1st round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018 to Boston for Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and an agreeing-to-waive-his-no-trade-clause Kevin Garnett. Brooklyn’s pay roll will be close to $100 million next season, over $80 million of it tied up in the starting lineup. They might pay just as much in luxury tax bills. Boston’s now on a rebuilding kick, having shed a bunch of salary, picked up three picks and moved up for Olynyk. They now own nine 1st round picks between 2014 and 2018.

There were six more trades involving a total of 10 players and four future picks made during the 2nd round, but that was all sideshow to the news that RASHEED GODDAMN WALLACE MIGHT JOIN MAURICE CHEEKS’ STAFF AS AN ASSISTANT COACH IN DETROIT. Sheed, potentially a double-technical away from being head coach for a night. This is literally the only thing that can be better than Sam Cassell as an assistant coach.

All told, there were 13 trades made during the draft, with 29 players, seven future 2nd round picks and four future 1sts – three going from the Nets to the Celtics, in a deal that technically won’t happen until July 10 – changing hands. There was intrigue, there was misdirection, there was booing, cheering, torch-passing, asset-gathering, coach-hiring, alternately angry or elated tweeting and that instantly legendary Nogueira picture. It was a blast. An unexpected, no holds barred, success. It was, unequivocally, the best draft experience in years.

RTOE: Game. Of. The. Year.

You watched Game 6. So did we. You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers.

1. Should the Spurs have fouled up by three in the final seconds of regulation?

Jack Winter: To play straight-up looks stupid now, of course, but hindsight is 20-20. Extending a game is dangerous, but giving up a three-point attempt is, too. Catch-22. But if Bosh didn’t get the offensive rebound and kick to Allen, this would all be moot.

Curtis Harris: Strategically perhaps, but as a viewer I applauded the decision to not foul.

Scott Leedy: Yes, no, I dunno. I think in general it’s not a bad strategy, but Ray Allen had to make a pretty ridiculous 3 point shot. Let’s just give Ray credit for that and not worry about it too much. What they should’ve done is play more Tracy McGrady.

Derek James: Again, it’s kind of hindsight to say they should have and if it weren’t for Ray Allen making an unbelievable shot we wouldn’t even be questioning it.

Brian Schroeder: Probably, but I think they (Pop) were trying to not to overthink everything and just play their set. That shot’s not going to go in more than once or twice in a hundred.

Eric Maroun:  If they were going to do it, it should have come with about 7 seconds left in the game when Bosh grabbed the offensive rebound. Fouling earlier in the shot clock would have left way, way too much time on the clock and the last thing the Spurs wanted to do was turn this into a free throw battle down the stretch. That’s something that is much easier said than done though because it’s such a split second decision. I have more of an issue with not having Duncan on the floor and them giving up critical offensive rebounds while Duncan sat on the bench than I do with not fouling there.

Amin Vafa: No. 19 seconds left, even up 3, is too much time for a team like Miami. They could easily nail both FTs and get a stop on the other end. I had no issue with that.

2. Should Dywane Wade have been on the court down the stretch for Miami? Should Manu Ginobili have been on the court for San Antonio? Just how difficult a situation do you think it is for a coach when your stars might not be included in your best lineups?

Jack: Wade ruined Miami’s fourth quarter comeback once he took Mike Miller’s place on the floor; the Heat lost any semblance of spacing offensively, and on more than one occasion were forced to scramble on the other end because he was late getting back. And that was all in the last few minutes of regulation! Don’t even get me started on his play in overtime, most specifically Miami’s final possession. Jesus.

Manu’s struggles are more severe than Wade, but his presence late tells a far different story. He can be counted on to make the smartest basketball play most every possession, and he did so by driving through traffic and looking for contact in the game’s final seconds. He even got some, too, but the officials swallowed their whistles! Would Danny Green have been better in his stead late in the fourth quarter or overtime? Sure, but only because of Manu’s physical errors; not his influence.

Curtis: Both of them shoulda been on the bench more, but Wade did turn up his defense at the game’s end. Manu was an unrelenting hot mess all night. I don’t know how difficult it is to sit these guys, since I’m not a coach, but you’d hope any minutes limitations are understood by these players as a move to improve the team.

Scott: I think it’s pretty impossible. It’s really easy to say on Twitter, but to actually sit Wade in the closing minutes of an elimination game is pretty ridiculously difficult. Spolestra is a great coach, and he’s generally not afraid to make big lineup changes, look at what he did to Udonis tonight. I just think sitting Wade is maybe asking a little too much.

As for Ginobili, he absolutely should’ve sat. Put in T-Mac.

Derek: As far as Wade goes, the numbers back it up that LeBron has been better without him. It’s not just LeBron that he’s affecting; his own numbers tonight were not outstanding, especially his efficiency. However, he does serve as a decoy because he’s still Dwyane Wade and there’s that off-chance he’s going to do something special if you give him the chances, so the Spurs have to be aware of that threat if he’s on the floor.

Ginobili seems like a no brainer, especially tonight with eight turnovers to go with just nine points and four fouls. What’s worse is that he was a -21 tonight, so he certainly didn’t help. Like Wade he has been shown to come alive every now and then, just ask the Warriors.

I saw someone make the point on Twitter (I forget who, sorry) that it’s easier for a coach to go down in a close game with their best players on the floor than on the bench even if they’re struggling, even if they’re killing the team. The greater point was that it’s an obvious way to skirt some postgame criticism by having them out there despite them not being your team’s best player.

Brian: No and no. I imagine it’s incredibly difficult, especially given both coaches’ relatively short leashes with underperforming players. They both opted to ride it out, I suppose.

Eric: Should he have been out there? No. But was there any chance Spoelstra was going to actually take him out? No. Same thing with Ginobili and Popovich. It’s difficult as it is to simply not go down firing with the guys that got you there, but this was much more than that for both Wade and Ginobili. They both have meant so much to their teams over the course of their careers that, no matter how poorly they were playing, there was no chance they were not going to be on the floor, for better or worse.

Amin: I can’t even think about the psychology that goes into benching/playing a core star in moments like that, but I couldn’t help but notice that Miami lost all momentum when Wade came back in. Ginobili missed a FT and got smothered on two drives to the basket. It’s not like he was settling for contested mid-range jumpers. But they were both clearly out of gas, and having more defined shooters and rebounders for both teams would have probably been preferable. But those two guys are great at getting to the line. I DON’T KNOW, OK? IT WAS ALL A BLUR!

3. Which had more to do with Tim Duncan’s quiet second half: fatigue or Chris Bosh?

Jack: Both? Timmy regressed to the mean and Bosh played with great intensity. Spoelstra pointed to the latter’s fourth quarter rest as reason for his increased activity, too.

Curtis: I’m pretending that Duncan’s bad offense in the 2nd half never occurred. Next question, please.

Scott: Tracy Mcgr… Wait no. I’ll go with Bosh. Bosh’s game tonight was really underrated, like always.

Derek: Probably some of both. Fatigue combined with seemingly feeding off of the energy of a headband-less LeBron seemed to be the causes.

Brian:  Fatigue, but Bosh was responsible for a lot of that fatigue, if that makes any sense. I also think the Heat in general just shifted their D enough to make it nearly impossible for him to catch. Bosh was certainly the leader of that D where Duncan is concerned, but it was a concerted effort.

Eric: The Law of Averages coupled with Bosh. It would have been utter insanity and awesomeness to see Duncan drop a 50 point game to clinch the Finals, and he was on pace to do so after the first half, but deep down we all knew he’d cool down at some point. Sure enough, he was nonexistent scoring wise after the third quarter. Bosh had a great defensive game though which contributed heavily to it.

Amin: Let’s split the difference and say Bosh fatigued Duncan. Duncan played over 40 minutes last night, which isn’t really something he does. So fatigue definitely played into it. But Bosh’s defense was great last night. Great job on the boards, getting hands up in faces. TWO HUGE BLOCKS. My God, why did that game have to end again? Oh right, someone had to win.

4. In 10 words or less, describe your reaction to Miami fans leaving the game early.

Jack: They should have stood their ground, amirite?

Curtis: Mmm mmm mmm, a damn shame

Scott: Who cares. I hate the “better fans” stuff.

Derek: I kinda hope the radios in their cars stopped working.

Brian: Unsurprising, but not a condemnation of that fanbase in particular.

Eric: Insulting to every fan base that’d kill for this team.

Amin: They deserve our attention less than they deserve their team.

5. There were about a millon crazy plays in this game; which was the craziest?

Jack: Just because it’s the easy answer doesn’t mean it’s not the right one – LeBron’s missed three-pointer, Bosh’s rebound and Allen’s game-tying three-pointer with five seconds remaining. There’s a last game on Thursday; every play matters to the final outcome, but there wasn’t a sequence more substantial than this one.

Curtis: I enjoyed Ray Allen plowing into the stands and fans taking pics with their cameras instead of giving Ray Ray room to recover.

Scott: Tie between Bosh’s block on Parker and LeBron’s block on Duncan, both were completely insane plays by great players.

Derek: The Ray Allen three, easy. I was out watching the game with some friends and the place erupted. Everything from the scramble for the offensive rebound to the shot itself made it a crazy one.

Brian: Kawhi had a tip in that seemed to violate physics. Like, where he jumped from. I don’t know, maybe I’m remember the entire game as a series of quantum events, never again to be seen on this plane of existence.

Eric: Is it an understatement to say Ray Allen’s 3 saved the Miami Heat’s season, prevented them from losing 2 of the last 3 Finals and setting them up for an off-season where the possibility of breaking up the Miami Triad is explored, potentially single handedly changed the landscape of the NBA for the years to come with that shot, and vaulted this game into one of the greatest NBA games ever played? Because that’s what it felt like.

Amin: It absolutely has to be that Ray Allen 3 for me. Just absolute perfection.

6. Just how good is Headbandless LeBron?

Jack: About as good as Headbanded LeBron when he’s ultra-aggressive and surrounded by three-point shooters.

Curtis: Sleepy Hollow good

Scott: Almost as good as Tracy Mcgrady, or a head banded Rondo riding a triceratops.

Derek: We’re. Not. Worthy. Please, return to your planet and spare our people. We mean you no harm.

Brian: Roughly the same as Headbanded LeBron.

Eric: I made the comment last night that losing his headband was like The Undertaker having Paul Bearer’s urn taken away from him. I thought for sure the headband was the source of his power. Turns out that he kept rolling along even after the headband was gone much like The Undertaker’s winning streak at WrestleMania continued after Paul Bearer retired from the WWE.

Amin: Is “very very very” an answer to this? Because that’s what I’m going with.

7. Boris Diaw. Explain.

Jack: Impossible. Best I can do is to say he’s not biting on LeBron’s subtle fakes and hesitations, and moves far better laterally in a five-foot box than any of us anticipated. He’s thick as hell, too, which is immensely helpful when defending a player that’s so reliant on strength and physicality.

Curtis: Barrel-chested goodness

Scott: Boris Diaw is like a knuckleball, the end.

Derek: LeBron is now 1-14 with Diaw on him? Perhaps it’s because he’s a strong player with a low center of gravity that is just quick enough to guard him outside. Whatever it is it’s just weird. Seeing him put the ball down on the ground and show off both of his post moves was pretty great, too.

Brian: Pancakes are a hell of a drug.

Eric: In the words of the Insane Clown Posse, magnets. No really, his gravitational force field has been something else this series.

Amin: He was getting criticized for “not contributing” by Jalen Rose after the game last night, but I think he was just looking at the stat sheet. Diaw is a fantastic first line of defense against LeBron. He clogs his penetration into the paint, slows him down, and blocks his view from multiple angles with his size and wingspan. Diaw’s defense gives the rest of the team plenty of time to react to where LeBron’s going to go (or where he’s going to pass). I’m loving this Diaw, and I wish he was out there more in crunch time.

8. Miami’s defense shut down Tony Parker for most of the game. Can they do it again in Game 7?

Jack: If LeBron guards Parker from the opening tip, there’s no reason why not; his defense on Parker in the fourth quarter and overtime was absolutely superhuman. He won’t, though, and Parker will feast when James gets a break.

Curtis: With Parker’s hammy injury, it’s definitely possible. Especially late game when they stick Headbandless LeBron on him.

Scott: Not for all 48 minutes, but I expect them to mostly keep him under wraps. When they play defense like they did in that fourth quarter it’s really tough for Parker to find space and get up a quality look.

Derek: Sure, if they play like this. It also doesn’t help Parker that he’s playing on a bad hamstring.

Brian: …No?

Eric: Trying to predict anything in this series is like nailing JELL-O to a tree. It’s just about impossible, completely fruitless, and potentially messy. Parker could come out and score 35 points Thursday and I wouldn’t be surprised. Or he could score 5 points and I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s playing Game 7 on a bad hamstring coming off a game where he shot 6-23 from the field so who knows? If I absolutely had to bet on it, I think he scores 20-22 points Thursday on something like 8-17 shooting. Certainly not chump change, but not a transcendent performance either.

Amin: NOTHING IN THIS SERIES IS PREDICTABLE.

Rocky Mountain Bye

The Denver Nuggets won a franchise record 57 games this season. They were one of the most exciting, fun to watch teams in the league, and until they were ravaged by injuries, they looked like a real contender in the Western Conference. But then Danilo Gallinari tore his knee, Kenneth Faried hurt his ankle and the team lost to the Golden State Warriors in the first round. In the wake of that loss, Masai Ujiri went to Toronto, George Karl was fired, Pete D’Alessandro left for Sacramento and Andre Iguodala is ready to opt out of the last year of his contract. What gives? Jordan White and I traded emails and discussed. 

Jared Dubin: What the fuck is happening in Denver? I have never seen anything like this, in any sport. Who cleans house, or allows the cleaning of their house, after the best season in franchise history? None of this makes a lick of sense.

Jordan White: I’m just as befuddled as you.. Ujiri’s departure at least made a modicum of sense; the offer he got from Toronto was just short of Godfather level, and the cost-conscious (more on that in a bit) Nuggets were never going to match it. Besides, they had a bright, young, up-and-comer in D’Alesandro to fill Ujiri’s shoes, and for a much better price. Or so we thought.

I always thought the Nuggets to be amongst the ranks of teams that value process over results. And, perhaps under Ujiri, they did subscribe to that school of thought. Now, however, with Ujiri, Karl, and most recently D’Alessandro gone, it’s almost as if the Nuggets are glad to be rid of their most forward-thinkers

Their team may not have been perfect, but they had the perfect coach for that team. No team ever wants to use injury as an excuse for falling short of expectations, but Gallo’s injury was HUGE. If he plays, and if Faried is at full strength, maybe they don’t get knocked out of the first round. Yes, Karl did not have his finest coaching performance, and he freely admitted that. But to fire him after the job he did with this smorgasbord of imperfectly fit talent, in his first year with this team? It’s insane. Further adding to the insanity is the reports of Hollins and Shaw as front-runners for the coaching vacancy. Can you imagine JaVale McGee, long one of your favorite players, attempting to play under Hollins, or trying to run the triangle under Shaw?

Back to money: it can’t really be the sole, driving force behind these moves, or lack thereof, can it? I understand the need to stay under the cap and preserve the flexibility it allows. Bu there’s no way you scrap a plan you’ve had in place for several seasons just because it was slightly less successful than you’d hoped.

Jared: We need to talk about the money, because to use it as an excuse is patently ridiculous to me. We realize that the Godfather offer Toronto made to Ujiri was for $15 million over five years, right? That’s $3 million per year. THAT’S THE MINI MID-LEVEL EXCEPTION. The Nuggets just let their GM walk for the same amount of money they pay Kosta Koufos. I’m as big a Koufos fan as anyone out there, but isn’t Ujiri’s contribution to the team a little more important than Koufos’ contribution?

Ujiri was the one who picked all the players on the team. I believe Ty Lawson was the only holdover from the roster that was in place when Ujiri took the job. He built the entire team in his image, and the Nuggets let him go for the cost of Travis Outlaw (he also makes $3 million per year).

Like you said, letting Masai walk only made sense if they had a plan in place to replace him, and it doesn’t really seem like they did. Unless their plan was to let everyone walk, blow the whole thing up and start over. Which wouldn’t make much sense. But D’Alessandro leaving too, Denver is way behind the eight ball in terms of picking up the pieces. The entire front office structure, from coach to GM to assistant GM, is gone. Will the next guy have the same ideas of how to build a team, or is he going to tear it down? We have no idea.

The Karl thing makes more sense to me than the Ujiri thing does. He wanted an extension, wanted security, and the Nuggets weren’t prepared to give it to him because of his spotty playoff track record and presumably (totally justified) concerns about his health. With the GM already gone, and with ownership not wanting to commit to Karl long-term, I can see the rationale for just letting him go and not having his lame duck status hang over the team all year.

The Ujiri thing, though. No.

Jordan: Right, that’s where any rationale that’s not “we wanted to go in a different direction,” (which, if they said that, would actually be more reasonable although still illogical) completely falls apart. Why let the architect of a very successful team go just as the plan was transitioning from idea to reality?

Here’s what’s also puzzling to me. The Nuggets were in a TERRIFIC position. They weren’t/aren’t in the purgatory of decent, forever doomed to toil as the eight seed. They weren’t a perennial bottom feeder, a la the Bobcats. The Nuggets are a legitimately very good team, perhaps a role player or two away from being a serious contender rather than dark horse contender. So where, exactly, is the need for change? Ride the horse that got you there, or whatever that saying is.

Who do you see taking this job? This isn’t a doomed project, but it’s also, as the Nuggets have just demonstrated, not the most secure of positions. Do you think that scares potential candidates away? Just as Ujiri created the team in his image, does the new GM, to assert himself, unnecessarily rebuild the team in his image.

Jared: Well, Josh Kroenke has a decision to make. He has to decide whether he wants to continue on the path the Nuggets have been traveling on, or if he wants to completely change course. If he decides to stay on the path, then assistant GMs like Mike Zarren from Boston or Bobby Marks from the Nets are on the table. I admittedly don’t know as much about the potential GM market than I do about the coach or player markets (which is a function of how visible the roles of those positions are), but I know those guys are very highly thought of, especially in the analytical community.

If Kroenke decides he wants to completely change course, I don’t think either of those guys would necessarily be a good fit, and you’re looking at candidates who I really can’t think of off the top of my head.

All that said, you’re right; this job isn’t looking especially attractive right now. While the roster in place is excellent, ownership has very recently shown a reluctance to spend the money to keep key pieces around, as well as a propensity to throw its weight around in terms of wanting coaches to kowtow to playing highly paid players (i.e. JaVale McGee, who George Karl didn’t trust enough to play big minutes). There’s also the Andre Iguodala situation, which is very much up in the air.

The new GM will presumably be trusted to make the head coaching hire, but if that’s not the case and the coach is brought in first, the job likely becomes even less attractive. It’s such a weird situation to walk into. Great roster. Iffy ownership group that seems like they’re tightening the purse strings. No one knows what direction the team is moving. Very, very odd.

RTOE: The Finals

The NBA Finals start tonight. We’ve got LeBron James, Chris Andersen and the Miami Heat against Tony Parker, Tracy McGrady and the San Antonio Spurs. It’s a match-up of teams that seemingly couldn’t be more dissimilar on the surface, but actually have a ton of similarities in terms of style of play, roster depth, and flexibility. The Spurs walked through most of their playoff run, while the Heat were taken to the brink by the Pacers in the ECF. This looks to be an incredibly even match-up. We’ve got all the important questions – seriously, every single important question; none of the important questions have been left out – covered here.

1. Which struggling superstar is more likely to break out: D-Wade or Manu Ginobili?

Ananth Pandian:

Noam Schiller: Going with Ginobili on a technicality. We’ve been talking so much about Wade being good and bad and good (and mostly bad) that if he does play well, it won’t really be much of a breakout at all. Manu’s better days are more gravy than potatoes, though.

Andrew Lynch: GINOBILIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII. The beauty in both of their games is a willingness that borders on desire to go rogue against such rigorously efficient systems. I give Manu the edge for two reasons: he’s healthier than Wade, and I think another Heat player is more likely than Wade to break out in this series.

Amin Vafa: Wade. I’m pretty sure his blood is a pure mixture of adrenaline and the maximum legal dosage of cortisone.

2. Say LeBron is declared ineligible for the award – which Heat player is most likely to win Finals MVP?

Ananth: Fashion Icon D-Wade

Noam: Probably Chris Bosh. Not that Duncan and Splitter are necessarily worse defensively than Hibbert and West, but they’re definitely less physical. The shackles, they’ll be a-lifted.

Andrew: OH HEY THERE, SEGUE, DIDN’T SEE YOU. I’m going with DinoBot, Mr. Chris Bosh. He was a relative non-factor last series, and a lot of that was his own damned fault. But an equal part was by design. He won’t be a decoy against the Spurs; in fact, I expect him to be 1b to LeBron. Bosh has a recent history of aggressive play against Duncan, and I think the Heat coaching staff will look to attack Splitter with Bosh as well in order to quickly figure out what kind of threat Tiago represents.

Amin: Wade because narrative.

3. Which player will make the most 3-pointers in the series?

Ananth: Matt Bonner – Feed The Red Mamba

Noam: Ray Allen, best 3 point shooter of all time, is in his 3rd Finals, with the third team he played for in his career that still exists in the league. Fine, that last point was kind of strained. Still, Ray Allen.

Andrew: I’m going high volatility and riding with Danny Green. This is the series where IcyHot turns on the fire. (Note: I have 5% confidence in this answer. But when I’m right, I’ll swear I knew it all along.)

Amin: Norris Cole. Because somehow he’s been getting better every round, and it’s sort of confusing but also awesome.

4. You’re Erik Spoelstra: who guards Tim Duncan?

Ananth: Udonis Haslem will provide the muscle on Duncan.

Noam: Bosh. Pick and roll mobility, y’all.

Andrew: I’ll say the general answer is Bosh, but the Heat will likely go to a variety of looks, depending on how they decide to attack the San Antonio pick and roll. If they trap, look for Bosh to be the one guarding the big. Miami might get away with Haslem on Duncan for stretches, though, if they choose to be less aggressive on the ball handler, allowing Bosh to work more as a rim defender and tightening up the rotations on the Spurs’ hammer actions. That would concede a multitude of open midrange looks for Duncan, but the Heat could decide to take that risk over Parker penetration or corner 3s.

Amin: LeBron.

5. You’re Gregg Popovich: who guards Chris Bosh?

Ananth: Chris Bosh’s favorite player growing up, Tim Duncan. Bosh will be in so of awe of TD that he won’t be able to be perform, adding yet another lyric to #LikeABosh

Noam: Splitter. Pick and roll mobility, y’all.

Andrew: I’m torn here. On the one hand, I think Duncan is a better man defender than help defender, and I think Bosh is going to be aggressive toward the rim, so Duncan might be the best choice. On the other, Splitter offers better coverage in the pick and roll. Much like on the other end, it will depend on San Antonio’s choices in the pick and roll. I wouldn’t be surprised if the most common possessions for Miami involved Splitter defending Bosh out high, with Duncan chipping on him down low as the Spurs rotate to Miami’s shooters.
these teams really are mirror images of each other.

Amin: Splitter.

6. So… who ya got?

Ananth: Spurs in 6

Noam: Heat in 6.

Andrew: Heat in 6. I saw an interesting wager on twitter the other day (my apologies for not remember the tweeter and giving appropriate credit): Heat in 4, 5, or 6; or all other outcomes.

I’d take the former. But I wouldn’t like it.

Amin: Heat in 7.

My Finals Memory: Call it a Comeback

In the summer of 2008, I was living in New York City whilst working two different internships between my junior and senior year of college. A friend from school and I shared one of those college dorm rooms they rent out to non-city dwellers for the summer, and our cable connection stopped working on the third day after we moved in. This meant I was boxed into watching the last few weeks of the NBA playoffs at various friends’ dorms/apartments and bars around the city.

My college roommate – who hails from Boston – was in town for the summer, so when the Celtics and Lakers eventually met in the Finals, we agreed to meet up at one of the many “Boston bars” sprinkled throughout the city to watch at least one of the games together. The game we eventually settled on was Game 4, which we would watch at the Riviera Sports Bar & Cafe.

As the Celtics fell behind by five, 10, and eventually 24 points, the place turned into a mausoleum. It was one of those stereotypical “it’s so quiet in here, you could hear a pin drop!” situations. Thinking the game was over, we were getting ready to leave the bar after the third quarter, but a 10-1 Celtics run capped by P.J. Brown (!) throwing down a dunk convinced us to stay. Anyway, Riviera was getting rather lively again. Both the beer and the Irish whiskey were flowing, and the crowd was bubbling with excitement.

A few Eddie House (!!) and Leon Powe (!!!) jumpers later, the Celtics had somehow come all the way back to tie the game, and the bar went into a frenzy. When the Celtics eventually took the lead with about four minutes left in the game, you couldn’t hear anything. You could have been standing next to the amplifier at a KISS concert and it wouldn’t have been louder than this bar.

As the Celtics stretched their lead in the final minutes of the game, the bartenders started playing some typical Boston music, the crowd started chanting “Beat L-A!” and I had to hightail my ass out of there. No way was I watching a bunch of Celtics fans watch Paul Pierce celebrate.

RTOE: Indiana vs. Miami for The Whole Kit and Kaboodle

Miami. Indiana. LeBron. George. Wade. Hibbert. Bosh. Pendergraph. West. Game 7. We didn’t think we’d be here, but we are. I’ve got questions; Amin, Ananth, Jack, Ian, Dylan and Derek have got answers.

1. Erik Spoelstra said in his morning media availability that “Everything is on the table.” What the hell does that mean?

Amin: Based on my background in international affairs, “everything is on the table” typically means that the Heat will first try to negotiate with the Pacers to resolve the conflict. However, if that recourse does not work, they’ll eventually resort to diplomatic sanctions. Then that’ll escalate to economic sanctions. Eventually, we may see an all-out war. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get to that, because no good will come from it.

Ananth: The Heat are going to give it their all just like this kid.

Jack: Spoelstra surely just meant to signify the all-encompassing nature of tonight’s game; that the loser goes home and the winner advances, and only the latter gets the opportunity to play for every team’s ultimate goal. But fans and analysts can take his idiom a step further, as Miami – and its once rock-solid future – is already nearing the edge of an unstable surface. Should they lose tonight, the Heat risk falling off altogether.

Ian: I have no idea. It strikes me as a rather empty threat of creativity given that the Heat have, for the most part, just been plowing ahead for the last three games with a game plan that consists of “ride LeBron’s talent.” The more pressing question is – why hasn’t it been on the table yet?

Dylan: Yes.

Derek: Perhaps someone lost their car keys and he was simply stating where he saw them last. Or maybe it’s coach’s speak for YOLO! Sorry, I’ll never say “YOLO” again in a post. Anyway, I honestly can’t say for certain what that means, but if I had to guess he means adjusting as the game goes and tweaking the pre-game plan as the game goes on. But don’t teams do that anyways? Okay, I have no clue what Spo is talking about.

2. RANK THINGS: Where does Frank Vogel rank in the league’s coaching continuum?

Amin: Continuum? Does that mean the worst coach loops back around to the best coach? As obvious as this may seem, I think Vogel’s definitely in the Top 4 coaches in the league. I think Popovich is better. Maybe Karl. Probably tied with Spo. I think he’s better than Thibs because Thibs has a problem managing minutes (though he gets results). So yeah, I’ll go Top 4.

Ananth: Top 10 for sure. The Pacers have legitimatized themselves as one of the top teams in the East and let’s not forget that Vogel can spin a basketball on a toothbrush.

Jack: Just outside the hallowed ground of the Popovich/Thibodeau twosome, alongside revered champions like Carlisle and Rivers, legends like Karl and upstarts like Spoelstra. Popular (and flawed) narrative suggests Vogel can’t reach coaching’s current Rushmore without a title on his resume, but that his name bears that discussion at all is a testament to the awesome job he’s done since taking over as Indiana’s headman in 2010.

Ian: In the present tense, somewhere between Doc Rivers and Rick Adelman.

Dylan: Top 7, or thereabouts. It’s difficult to judge his rotation skills because his bench is a steaming pile of terrible, and allowing Vogel to lap up the credit for Paul George/Roy Hibbert’s emergence seems crooked – or, at the very least, unjust to a nameless assistant(s). But Indiana is winning in spite of its turnovers and bench and general disdain for offense, and that counts for something in Vogel’s favor, probably.

Derek: Probably top-5. In addition to Pop, Spo and Karl, I’d throw Rick Adelman in the top (He got Derrick Williams to play something that resembled defense this year, ya know.) and then I’d probably throw Vogel in there, too. Ever since Vogel took over he was able to endear himself to his players and then implemented a defensive scheme that vaulted the Pacers among the league’s best teams.

3. Predict LeBron’s final stat line.

Amin: LeBron’s definitely getting a triple double tonight. No question. I’ll say 38 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, 12/14 from FT, 2-6 from 3pt, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 4 TOs, 2 PFs. 46 minutes. Did I miss anything?

Ananth: Triple double – 25+ pts, 10+ rebounds, 10 assists.

Jack: 33 points (12-21 FGs), 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks, 3 steals, 3 turnovers.

Ian: 26 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 technical, 36 angry stare-downs of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, 4 blocks, 1 lonely walk back to the locker room to ponder his future.

Dylan: 32 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 TOs, 12/20 FGs, 1 smile.

Derek: 32/12/10 with the 10 assists meaning that I’m predicting that one of Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh have a bounce back game and they get a bench player to chip in.

4. Compare this game and/or series to a 90s band.

Amin: This series is like Better than Ezra because both of these teams are better than Ezra.

Ananth: Soul Asylum mainly because of their song ‘Runaway Train’ which will be LeBron tonight. A runaway freight train that will just be taking it to the Pacers.

Jack: Toad the Wet Sprocket. This series needed one more hit to reach the level some of its games and sequences deserve, but die-hards will appreciate its brilliance nonetheless.

Ian: A Tribe Called Quest. Rich with complexity. Niche aesthetics. Personality to spare. Tremendous highs and regrettable lows. An undefinable hint of larger themes and narratives. Somehow lacking the mass appeal commensurate with the collected array of talent.

Dylan: How about a song? Slow Cheetah, Red Hot Chili Peppers. Miami’s the Cheetah, Indiana’s the Slow, but the game will be Red and Hot and Chili and Peppers will be involved.

Derek: The Pacers are Alice in Chains post-“Facelift” and pre-“Dirt”. “Facelift” was the album that really put the band on everyone’s radar, but “Dirt” was the one that established them as a band worthy of the same renown as some of the eras other greatest bands. So, if last year was the year the Pacers truly put themselves on everyone’s radar with Danny Granger serving as their “Man in the Box”, then Roy Hibbert, Paul George, David West and George Hill are their “Rooster”/”Would?”/”Angry Chair”/”Down in a Hole”. So this means that if they win tonight the Pacers get their “Dirt” moment, but if they don’t I suppose this is at least a “Sap” or “Jar of Flies” worthy season.

5 So… who ya got?

Amin: Miami… in a squeaker. LeBron and Wade are going to live at the FT line tonight. It’s going to be agonizing to watch them do it, but the foul calls will be correct (except for ~2).

Ananth: Heat in a close one. Honestly think that Birdman coming back is one of the differences. The other being LeBron.

Jack: Miami, in a game closer than the final score indicates.

Ian: An emphatic Tyler Hansbrough leaping fist pump. D.J. Augustin jubilantly leaping into the arms of Sam Young. Frank Vogel and Brian Shaw swinging each other around at center court, arm-in-arm. Roy Hibbert giving Paul George a piggy-back ride up the tunnel. Probabilities be damned, I’ll take fun. I’ll take the Pacers.

Dylan: Miami Heat. You only pick against Miami for the chance to yell “I told you so” a few times thereafter.

Derek: I want to say Heat, but I’m not terribly confident in that pick. The Pacers have already taken one in Miami and played them tough all year, but it’s hard to see the Heat not coming out strong at home, regardless.

Jared Coaches the Knicks, Lives the Dream

It’s a dream come true! I get to coach the New York Knicks… in a fake playoff series between the Knicks and Nets on NBA 2K13 simulated by a dude who runs the YES-branded Nets official web site, but whatever. I’m living the dream, y’all!

In case you missed it, The Brooklyn Game‘s head honcho Devin Kharpertian and I will, over the course of the next several days, engage in a virtual battle of coaching wills, with a possible arm wrestling match at the end.

Here’s the pitch, courtesy of Devin himself.

The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets never really had a shot at playing each other in the playoffs this year once the seeding was set — neither team had much of a shot at getting past the Miami Heat, and both fell one round short of facing them.

But in the spirit of New York rivalries, we wanted a Nets-Knicks series, so: screw it, we’re going to make it happen.

Welcome to the Cross Bridge Battle, an imaginary seven-game series between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, played exclusively on NBA 2K13 — but with a twist.

The series will play out on NBA 2K13 with the most up-to-date rosters, and both teams are coached, meaning that the team’s rotation and tendencies will be set prior to each game.

Coaching the Knicks is Jared Dubin (Ed. Note: this is me), co-editor-in-chief of Hardwood Paroxysm (Ed. Note: this is the site you are currently reading), founder of TrueHoop Network blog HoopChalk, dedicated and loyal Knicks fan, and one of the smartest basketball minds I know (Ed. Note: Devin must not know many people).

He also co-wrote a book that I own, and you should too (Ed. Note: If you buy this, I get approximately 13 cents).

For the Nets? It’ll be yours truly (Ed. Note: Devin is referring to himself. Yours truly is an expression, not a person’s name).

My request: as we enter into this fantasy world, we’ll offer video highlights, game wrap-ups, images from the game, and box scores. Please join our make-believe world. Comment on the articles and videos. Take the polls. Post fan art commemorating the Fantasy Cross Bridge Series (hashtag #Nets on Instagram). And advise the coaches (that’s me and Jared on what we should do in the next game.

We’ve already engaged in a back-and-forth previewing our virtual series, and as Devin said, he will be updating TBG with highlights, box scores and game recaps as the week goes on. As the posts roll out, I’ll add additional links here to make things easy on you. Follow along, talk trash, suggest coaching moves (don’t worry Knicks fans, I am giving Pablo and Cope a lot more minutes than Woody did), do whatever your precious little heart desires. I swear, it will be fun. At least for me.

UPDATES

I lost Game 1. I will win Game 2.

Devin and I held Twitter press conferences after the game, because of course we did.

VICTORY. Series tied at 1.