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Monday Bullets

  • Bill James, statistical Wizard best known for his work in baseball, writing in the Boston Globe: "In the NBA, the element of predetermination is simply too high. Simply stated, the best team wins too often. If the best team always wins, then the sequence of events leading to victory is meaningless. Who fights for the rebound, who sacrifices his body to keep the ball from rolling out of bounds doesn't matter. The greater team is going to come out on top anyway. A fan can look at the standings in December, pick the teams that will make the playoffs, and might get them all. This has a horrific effect on the game. Everybody knows who's going to win. Why do the players seem to stand around on offense? Why is showboating tolerated? Because it doesn't matter. Why don't teams play as teams? Because they can win without doing so (although teams like these may crumble when they run up against the Pistons or Spurs). So how should the NBA correct this? Lengthen the shot clock. Shorten the games. Move in the 3-point line. Shorten the playoffs. If you reduce the number of possessions in a game by giving teams more time to hold the ball, you make it more likely that the underdog can win - for the same reason that Bubba Watson is a lot more likely to beat Tiger Woods at golf over three days than he is over four. It's simple math. The longer the contest lasts, the more certain the better team is to win. If the NBA went back to shorter playoff series - for example from best-of-seven games to best-of-three - an upset in that series would become a much more realistic possibility. A three-game series would make the homecourt advantage much more important, which, in turn, would make the regular season games much more important. The importance of each game is inversely related to the frequency with which the best team wins." (via Thank You Isiah)

  • Remember when Kevin McHale just killed people down in the post? He had a love affair with the baseline. Often he'd seal his defender away from the baseline, then catch a pass on that side of his body and spin to the baseline for a layup. But people hate to get beat that way, so just as often, or perhaps even more often, he'd start that way, put the ball up high as if to shoot, sending defenders into block mode. Then he'd simply step past them on the other side away from the baseline, into the lane for an open chip shot. UPDATE: Most of us call that an up-and-under, but NBA coaches call that move "the McHale."

  • What will the Bobcats do without Sean May?

  • The Clippers find themselves in the unfortunate position of relying heavily on Tim Thomas, who has a track record of disappointing in these situaitons.

  • Al Sharpton on Isiah Thomas's case about skin color and any role it might play in what you are allowed to say to a woman. Newsday's Ken Berger is not amused: "... Once again Sharpton is pretending to stick up for a group of people who supposedly have been wronged, when in reality he is just using someone - this time, Isiah Thomas - to give him an excuse to hear himself have a tantrum so he can raise more money for his political agenda. Thankfully, unlike the Duke lacrosse case, no one is in danger of going to jail this time over his irresponsible ambulance chasing."

  • Take heart, Greg Oden. The Viking god Odin had to make a big sacrifice early in his career, too. From Octavia.net: "Even Odin must pay his due. At Mimir's well, which lay deep under the roots of Yggdrasil, the World Tree, the god had earlier chosen to undergo an important forfeit. Odin paid with one eye for a single drink of the enchanted water. His mouthful granted him wisdom and fore-sight. It is due to this sacrifice that Odin's face is depicted with a straight line indicating an empty eye, or alternately, in a wide-brimmed hat pulled down low over the missing orb."

  • A petition to oust James Dolan.

  • Find yourself an NBA-sized court and see if you can pass Portland's fitness test, as described by Jason Quick of the Oregonian: "Before training camp ends, McMillan requires each player to pass four series of baseline-to-baseline sprints. Guards must run the length of the court and back seven times in 60 seconds, small forwards in 61 seconds, power forwards in 62 seconds and centers in 64 seconds. Players can 'bank' time from each run to be used as a cushion for any of the remaining three runs."

  • Baron Davis in his own words, from his Yardbarker blog: "Monta is doing great! He will be back in action when he is ready. I was worried as hell, damn near in tears, wen he couldn't move. He is moving around good tho. Thanx for the prayers for my little bro. Training camp is looking good. We are going to be running and gunnning Nelli style. Pat o b is looking really good and so are our rookies b nelli and BWright, even #19 kosto watever his name is I call him 19 lol."

  • Sam Mitchell will let the Toronto Star's Dave Feschuk know about this one: "Yesterday he was marvelling at the capabilities of the ancient Romans. 'How did they catch the animals?' he said, speaking of the predators that once terrorized the Colosseum. 'I mean, wild animals with no tranquillizers? How did you catch a lion?' They called it a trap, sir. Two thousand years later, basketball coaches in Toronto have yet to devise one that works."

  • Amir Johnson: still growing?

  • I have been all excited to see slimmed down Eddy Curry going to work. Now he's talking like he is really worried about that shoulder, which could keep him out for a while.

  • The Timberwolves just barely beat Efes Pilsen in Turkey. Sebastian Telfair hit two key three-pointers. Unbelievable. If he can finally shoot, his career could get good yet. Here's a detailed account of the game.

  • The Suns have been hopping up and down stadium steps.

  • I am so ready to become a LaMarcus Aldridge fan.

  • The Nets spent yesterday at West Point, learning how cadets team-build.

  • Mark Cuban is telling you now that his jive is weak, so he'll need your votes to survive. From Blog Maverick: "Jive is easily the most physical of the dances. Just about every step is a jump from the balls of my feet. Not a problem for my right leg. A huge problem for my left. (The hip replacement left the muscles in my leg far weaker than my right.) And not only was all the 'action' supposed to be high energy and up, but the basic step is supposed to be knees up with a quick kick that is supposed to end with your foot basically kicking yourself in the butt around bringing my feet together while in the air. Yeah, like thats going to happen."

  • Why do economists love writing about sports so much?

  • The annual "Bonzi Wells has a new attitude" article.