Chat with John Hollinger
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, NBA columnist John Hollinger will stop by to share his thoughts on all of the NBA news.
Send your questions now and join Hollinger Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
John Hollinger (1:08 PM)
Greetings from Portland, where my walk back from breakfast took me right past Jason Terry boarding the bus to Dallas's shootaround. Big day today with lots of NBA execs in town for two Hoop Summit practices and then Mavs-Blazers for a nightcap. Just give me a second to get the coffee brewing and then we're rolling ...
Aaron Larsen (Seattle, WA)
Just wondering where you think the Utah Jazz would be placed in the playoffs and how far do you think they could go?
John Hollinger (1:14 PM)
I think the Jazz will win their final three games, and I think Denver will probably win two. So the question then becomes whether Dallas will split its last four games and make Utah the No. 3, or whether they'll take three or more and make Utah the No. 4. Jazz won't fall to 5 unless they lose at home to Phoenix in final game. With Suns playing a back to back I have trouble seeing that happening.
John Hollinger (1:14 PM)
by the way, your question is a great lead-in to today's Per Diem, which should be up soon - we look at all the assorted playoff permutations and what the most likely outcomes are.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are an embarassment of an organization and have no class or integrity and the NBA is a joke of a league! How can the Cavs sit LeBron against the Bulls when he played 35 minutes against the Raptors? Why not sit him tonight against the Pacers? For this bush league crap the Cavs should be fined and be without the services of LeBron for the atleast the first 2 games of the playoffs! But it won't happen cause the NBA is an embarassment! The Cavaliers have cheated the integrity of the game and should be punished!
John Hollinger (1:16 PM)
Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel. Cleveland did what was in its best interests; it just happens to not be in Toronto's best interests. Toronto can make this all a mute point by beating the Bulls on Sunday. Oh, and get used to seeing Chicago play against a team's scrubs. That Charlotte game on the last day of the season is likely to provide an encore.
six (albany ny)
What's your take on Mike D'Antoni? I think he is horrible and needs to be fired along with Walsh
John Hollinger (1:17 PM)
It's amazing how much stupider he became when his players weren't as good. He'll be a lot smarter next year if he gets LeBron.
Lakers Nation (Everywhere, USA)
Talk us down off the ledge, John. The talk around here is that the Lakers won't make it out of the first round.
John Hollinger (1:19 PM)
Well, I think you have to pretty happy with the prospect of facing OKC rather than San Antonio or Portland. That's still losable, but it's a better match-up. L.A. is a microcosm of the entire West, however: Enough talent to win the conference, enough injury questions to lose the first round in 5. I suspect health is going to be a bigger determinant of success than talent, especially in the first round.
John - Playoff odds still see the Raptors as favorites over the Bulls. What odds would you put on it considering the Bosh injury?
John Hollinger (1:20 PM)
Bulls aren't exactly blazing a path to glory right now either, and Sunday's game is in T-dot, so I'd still say Toronto has a better than 50-50 shot.
Darren (Ann Arbor)
Would you be shocked if the Lakers have a strong showing in the Western Conference Playoffs and make it back to the Finals as the favorites?
John Hollinger (1:20 PM)
No on the first part, yes on the second. They could definitely make it to the Finals, but I have trouble seeing them being favored against either Cleveland or Orlando -- those are the league's two best teams this year.
John, it's "moot," not "mute."
John Hollinger (1:21 PM)
Not when there's still more coffee in the cup than in my mouth.
On a scale of 1 to puking-up-last-nights-dinner, how bad were the Laker guards yesterday?
John Hollinger (1:22 PM)
Somebody get out a mop. That last possession by Fisher was baffling. But actually I thought Farmar had some bright moments, and has played pretty decently for most of the past month or two. At some point Phil has to think about a change there. Everyone loves Fisher the man, but Fisher the player is killing them right now.
Rico (Puerto Rico)
Is Deron Williams finally better than Paul is your books/ spreadsheets?
John Hollinger (1:23 PM)
Better? No -- Paul was crushing in PER prior to his injuries. Healthier? Yes, and his durability edge may only get larger as the two of them get older.
Sadistic minds folks (everywhere)
After watching his barrage of heat-check 3s yesterday, what would it take to get JR Smith traded to Golden State to start in the backcourt with Ellis?? And how did Maggette not make your "all-nba gunners" list?
John Hollinger (1:25 PM)
Here's the thing with Maggette--he's had a TS% at or above 60 nearly every year. So we're upset with him shooting so much because ... why again? As for a J.R.-Ellis backcourt, that would be awesome. Might be the first guard tandem in history that expends more energy stealing the ball from each other than from the opponent.
Joe Johnson (Atlanta)
Give me one reason why I should stay with the Hawks this summer.
John Hollinger (1:26 PM)
Check the average winter weather for Chicago and New York and compare it to Atlanta's. Now check where each of those three teams are in the standings. I think Miami is a real threat to get Johnson, but it seems they're targeting bigs (Amare/Boozer/Bosh) first. So if Joe wants to leave, he needs a big, thick winter coat and low expectations.
Telfair looked serviceable last night. Any chance he excels playing with LBJ?
John Hollinger (1:27 PM)
Pretty sure that was an optical illusion. He's a bad pairing with LBJ anyway since he can't space the floor. I'll be shocked if he sees any meaningful minutes in the postseason.
Ryan (San Diego)
I'm surprised by your take on sitting Lebron against the Bulls but not the Raps. The Cavs had to know the implications. Any chance the thinking was that that the Cavs would rather play the Bulls in the first round than the Raptors?
John Hollinger (1:28 PM)
Thought about that but they already lost at home once to Chicago this year and they know Bosh is hurt -- if anything I'd have thought they'd go the opposite way. More likely they just wanted to make sure they had home court clinched before they rested LBJ.
John, surely you saw the cavs bulls game last night..let's take away the whole Lebron not playing. They were blatantly trying to lose, let's not sugar coat this. Verajao for the game winner? Really?
John Hollinger (1:29 PM)
I guess you think they were trying to lose Game 3 of the 2006 Finals too. This isn't the first time Varejao has ended up in an odd spot in an end-game situation for Cleveland.
John, I need numbers: What are the chances Tiago plays for the Spurs next season?
John Hollinger (1:29 PM)
I'll say 85%. I think it's pretty darn likely he comes over now that Spurs aren't bound by rookie scale.
As a Suns fan, is it time to let go of the idea that Barbosa will bloom into anything but a streaky SG backup? Even Dragic looks like he has a higher ceiling. And I have much more confidence in the Dragons right now.
John Hollinger (1:31 PM)
At this point, yes. In fact I'd go the other way and worry about his ability to maintain his speed as he gets into his late 20s and early 30s. Dragic is one of the league's most improved players, shocked at how much better he's become since last year's struggles, particularly with his shooting stroke.
Zeeshan (Houston, TX)
Why haven't the Lakers signed a free agent guard or made a deal for one at the deadline? Fisher and their other guards are putrid.
John Hollinger (1:32 PM)
Basically, Dr. Buss thought they could win the West without a change, so why take on the extra tax $$. I think that's proving to be a miscalculation on L.A.'s part that has left the door wide open for the other hopefuls out West.
I read that you mentioned that Utah is a team that some teams would rather avoid than play the Lakers. Do you really believe teams would rather play the Lakers over Utah? Utah is pretty untested and is full of soft players. As a Spurs fan, I would LOVE my team to play the Jazz rather than the Lakers.
John Hollinger (1:34 PM)
Really? Because the Jazz beat you all four times you met. Utah is much more beatable without Kirilenko and Okur, so their health questions are going to be a prominent factor (as are L.A.'s). But I don't think they're getting nearly enough respect, especially for a lower seed like San Antonio that would need to win at least once in Salt Lake -- you saw with that Durant call the other night how much their crowd intimidates refs.
Phil (Los Angeles)
I loved you "All NBA Gunners" piece the other day. I found a nice easy way to see how much of a ball dominator a player is, is to look at the difference in their PER and their usage rate. For instance, Bobby Brown is off the charts horrible. Does this sound right?
John Hollinger (1:35 PM)
Thanks, and thanks for the idea. It's a good first-look, back-of-the-envelope way to do it, but remember PER takes in a lot more than shooting, so you'll see some variation that has nothing to do with a player's gunning.
I would just like to make a comment about the bucks, because if bogut wasnt hurt we would be talking about them right now
John Hollinger (1:36 PM)
Very bummed for the Bucks fans. They were KILLING Phoenix before he went down in that game, and I was watching it thinking I might only get one round of Hawks playoffs games this year. And great to see the fans come back after Bradley Center was a mausoleum for the past few years ... just a shame all the way around.
Was the no-call on Fish last night really that different from the no-call on Durant?
John Hollinger (1:37 PM)
Exactly the same, except that Durant got fouled.
John, thoughts on the McNabb trade for our Redskins?
John Hollinger (1:39 PM)
I thought a second was a reasonable price to pay. McNabb is old and will probably miss a couple games, but he can still play. And hey, if this was 2006, our backfield lineup of McNabb, Willie Parker and Larry Johnson would be awesome!!
Darren (Ann Arbor)
What are your thoughts on Phil Jackson not calling timeout and drawing up a final play?
John Hollinger (1:40 PM)
In 20-20 hindsight, clearly a mistake. I know he wanted to catch Nuggets off guard, but having a plan kind of helps too.
Hi John. That was all ball on the block by Melo. If the Nuggets get either the #2 or #3 seed and get a 80% K-mart back, can they make it to the finals? Thanks John.
John Hollinger (1:43 PM)
I thought all-ball too, if that wasn't clear. For Nuggies, K-Mart is the key, as well as match-ups ... I don't think Denver would be real excited to play Phoenix or San Antonio, for instance. Most likely first round opponent right now is Portland, however, and they match up pretty well vs. Blazers.
Utah does have a good team, but basketball is not played in logarithms and equations. It is played in rectangular boxes in high definition.
John Hollinger (1:43 PM)
well played ...
Andrew (Maple Grove Mn)
Does Doc Rivers need to crack down on his team? They seem to do what they want and Rivers just lets them do it. Maybe they need more disipline to become a serious team again .
John Hollinger (1:45 PM)
I half-wonder if the Celtics should give Sheed the Vernon Maxwell treatment and say "You know what? Why don't you just hit the golf course for the next two months? We'll still pay you and everything." I think Sports Guy nailed it on the head; he's doing the same frustrating things I saw him do for the Blazers when I lived here in Portland, only now he's old and not as talented.
how did nick young not make the all gunners list? ive never seen him pass....
John Hollinger (1:46 PM)
A strong candidate, yes. In fact, if I could have that column back again I would have just listed "The Wizards" as one of the entries. One of the most selfish teams I've ever seen.
Do the Thunder or Blazers actually have a shot at winning a series against any of the other teams in the West? They are both solid teams but I have trouble seeing it happen.
John Hollinger (1:50 PM)
What if I told you that Blazers are 14-3 in last 17 games and have won all three meetings against Dallas, one of their possible first-round opponents? Or that OKC is 24-9 since late Jan. and would have a 4-0 sweep over possible first-round opponent Utah if the refs hadn't blown that call the other night? I like both teams chances of advancing quite a bit depending on the pairings.
Do you think SVG is doing the right thing by playing his starters and bench to the end. Who's your pick in the obvious ECF... Cavs or Magic...
John Hollinger (1:51 PM)
Yes, because they can get home court for a potential Finals matchup against L.A. That's the race everyone is overlooking right now; they're tied in win column and L.A. has tie-break.
Chances Kobe sat last night the help the Nuggets' seeding and avoid seeing them until the Western Conference Finals?
John Hollinger (1:52 PM)
Everyone postulating this but I'm having a hard time buying it; wouldn't you rather stick Denver with the No. 5 and see if Phoenix can take them out right away?
Thomas (KC, MO)
John, is "dictating the tempo" crucial to a team's success? From your statistical perspective, do slow-paced teams perform poorer in an up-tempo game, and vice versa?
John Hollinger (1:53 PM)
Here's what I've found -- teams at the tempo extremes rarely win championships. The best of the best usually have the ability to play slow and fast and end up in the middle of the pack in pace. Can only think of one or two exceptions -- Brown's Pistons and the last Spurs team both played very slow, for instance.
James (The Bat Cave)
John, I have been using your Playoff Predictor a lot lately and I was wondering were you get the odds from, they seem way off. As San Antonio has almost a 50% chance to beat anyone and OKC and PDX don't have barely any chance, what's up with that?
John Hollinger (1:55 PM)
We need to clarify that it's not "my" Playoff Predictor -- it was developed by Accuscore and uses their secret sauce to predict the outcomes. One of the ways you can fill the bracket is by using my Playoff Odds, but from that point it's all Accuscore. Their methodology seems to differ from mine in how it treats late-game performance in particular.
What's your favorite NBA team John??
John Hollinger (1:56 PM)
I was a big Washington Capitols fan in the early days of the league, but since they folded in 1951 I haven't adopted a new team.
Pete (San Antonio)
I love Ginobili but the $$$ on his contract are absurd. He'll be playing 1/2 seasons for 3 more years. At what point will the Spurs stop hanging on to yesterday and start anew?
John Hollinger (1:59 PM)
I don't think it's that bad a deal. Spurs weren't going to be under cap next year, so if Ginobili walked they were basically an empty shell. This will cost them some tax $$, especially if they want Splitter too, but they're still going to be well under cap for new CBA in 2011 and Manu and Hill are only players under contract in 2012. Even if Manu falls apart physically, the contract won't be a killer cap-wise.
What are your thoughts on the Blazers in the first round? I did read today's Per Diem, but am wondering on which match-ups you see as favorable and likely, and how far PDX can go?
John Hollinger (2:01 PM)
Well, the Blazers lost 3-1 to Denver and 4-0 to Utah, and they beat Dallas all three times they played them. So I don't think it's hard to divine their preference. Blazers also wouldn't mind Phoenix if the Suns sneak into top three -- Portland beat them twice and on paper the match-ups look good for them.
Hey John, has LBJ surpassed his PER from last year? If so, is there any chance.....is it possible for him to achieve a better PER this post season than last year's post season?
John Hollinger (2:03 PM)
LeBron is down to 31.31, so he's going to fall about half a point short of last season's mark. Right now he's tied for fourth on my all-time list, behind two Michael Jordan seasons and LeBron's own campaign of a year ago.
Aaron (Richmond, VA)
Varejao for the winner in game 3 of the 2006 Finals, huh? That wasn't that long ago...Miami vs Dallas is who played that year.
John Hollinger (2:04 PM)
Righto, I'm off my game today. 2007, obviously.
I thought the NBA changed the rule that the top 3 seeds are automatically the division winners. How can the Suns get the 3rd seed?
John Hollinger (2:06 PM)
Division winners are guaranteed a top four seed, and they win all tie-breakers against non-division winners. But Phoenix can win out and end up with 55 wins, guaranteeing they'd beat out Utah and Denver (since they'd beat both of them en route to winning out) and placing them no lower than third in the bracket.
You gonna stick around Portland for that HUGE game on Monday vs OKC?
John Hollinger (2:06 PM)
You betcha. But I can't stick around here any longer -- time to go to the Hoop Summit and check out the next generation of prospects with my buddy Mr. Ford. Thanks again for all the great questions, we'll do a big playoff chat next Thursday when we know all the seedings.