Thursday, May 08, 2008

sports review - nba

National Basketball Association, or commonly known as NBA, is also running to end of their 2007-08 season. Teams are now in the Playoff, which is played after conclusion of the regular league games.

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The face behind the Iron Man: Movie, attending a playoff game in Los Angeles.

16 of the 30 teams made it to the playoff. First round has been concluded just days ago. Teams progressing to the next round includes:-

Eastern Conference:
#1 Boston Celtics
#2 Detroit Pistons
#3 Orlando Magic
#4 Cleveland Cavaliers

Western Conference:
#1 LA Lakers
#2 New Orleans Hornets
#3 San Antonio Spurs
#4 Utah Jazz

There isn't any major upset yet so far in the playoff run, although eighth-seed Atlanta Hawks almost pulled a miracle, upsetting the Boston Celtics, like what Golden State Warriors achieved in last season.

NBA has also announced few of the individual awards to the players/coach this season, they are:-

Sixth Man of the Year, aka Best Reserve: Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs)
Most Improved Player of the Year: Hedo Turkoglu (Orlando Magic)
Defensive Player of the Year: Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics)
Rookie of the Year: Kevin Durant (Seattle Supersonics)
Coach of the Year: Byron Scott (New Orleans Hornets)
MVP: Kobe Bryant (LA Lakers)

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I only disagree with the Defensive Player of the Year award. Kevin Garnett is no doubt great player, but I thought someone else deserves that recognition better than KG. For example, Marcus Camby, or even Dwight Howard was a better choice. No further elaboration on this.

I thought Byron Scott deserved the award thoroughly. He hasn't made major adjustment to the team, yet he still managed to turn the club around with the same core. I thought that's a job well done. Chris Paul has evolved to a top-class point guard. He, alongside with Deron Williams, could be the next generation of top point guards in NBA for years to come.

At this point, I thought the awards were rightfully awarded. However, I thought there are few players whose hardwork are worth a mention. There are two players in my mind now - Andrew Bynum (LA Lakers) and Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks).

Al Horford's a rookie drafted from Florida, he plays center for Atlanta Hawks. You can find out more about his background in his Wikipedia entry.

The Rookie of the Year may have gone to Kevin Durant, but I thought Al Horford has done tremendous job in helping Atlanta making their first playoff appearance in 9 years. He has averaged almost a double-double in his rookie season with 10.1 points, and 9.7 rebounds per game. That's quite an achievement for a rookie starting at center. In contrast, Kevin Durant was made to be the star for Supersonics. He was the go-to guy in the team, and not to mention, his team failed to make it to the playoff. Sonics finished the season among the bottom pile.

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Andrew Bynum could only watch from bench as he recovers from the injury he sustained in Jan '08

LA Lakers finished the season on top of the Western Conference, which is a tough conference to play in this year. The top eight teams in the Western Conference each managed to corralled more than 50 wins in 82 games. The Lakers didn't start the season well, they started slowly, having only won 12 of first 20 games. They looked anything but a serious title contender.

Not to mention, the Lakers locker room were marred by speculation bout Kobe Bryant's possible departure in the pre-season. Eventually, they managed to shrugged off that and kept the whole team going.

Andrew Bynum was also a key factor where the Lakers has finished this season. The young center blossomed into one of the best young centers in the league after a meager performance early in the season. Although marred by injury, which pre-maturely ended his season in January, Bynum still managed to post 13.1 ppg, and 10.2rpg. He also adds 2.1bpg and registering a 63.6% field goal percentage. He was a force to be reckoned in the paint.

Since his injury, the Lakers had to make adjustment to accommodate to the competition need by acquiring Spanish big-man Pau Gasol from Memphis Grizzlies. As till this point, everything seems to be going the right direction for the Lakers.

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Kobe, finally a MVP, after 12 years.

As for Kobe Bryant, he was made the league's MVP for this season. We all knew how good a player he was, and how much scoring damage he can do. But he finally showed the total package this season, all the mentioned plus the leadership. His talent was never questionable. It was his attitude and leadership that draws doubts from the fans and pundits.

His infamous clash with then-teammate Shaquille O'neal was highlighted by the media. Since Shaq's trade away from the team, Kobe struggled to show his quality as a leader. But he proved that all wrong this season especially. He has shown his willingness to do everything to put the team in the right direction.

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Kobe Bryant with his old #8 jersey.

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.. with his new #24

He even proved his decision to change his jersey number from #8 to #24, a right one too.

Latest update on NBA Playoff 2008:

Eastern Conference
#1 Boston Celtics lead 1 - 0 against #4 Cleveland Cavaliers
#2 Detroit Pistons lead 2 - 0 against #3 Orlando Magic

Western Conference
#1 LA Lakers lead 1 - 0 against Utah Jazz
#2 New Orleans Hornets lead 2 - 0 against San Antonio Spurs

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