Chat with John Hollinger
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, NBA columnist John Hollinger will stop by to share his thoughts on all of the NBA news.
Send your questions now and join Hollinger Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
John Holllinger (2:14 PM)
OK, let's get rolling. Lot's to talk about with playoff races heating up and Heat cooling off. Let's go...
Can Portland get some love in how well they played against the Heat? It seems that the media has the story to be "How the Heat lost" versus "How the Blazers won".
John Holllinger (2:16 PM)
Agreed. Two underrated story lines from that game are 1) Heat played really well on offense and still lost because of how well Portland played, and 2) Portland now has a crunch-time lineup with two All-Stars, Andre Miller, LaMarcus Aldridge, and either Matthews or Camby. Together in the 4th of that game, they looked downright scary.
How worried should the Spurs be about a lack of size?
John Holllinger (2:17 PM)
Worried enough to root for Dallas to beat L.A. in the second round, I'll put it that way. What happened on Sunday wasn't necessarily indicative of what will take place in the playoffs, but San Anto has always worried that when it came down to it they were sending 1 big against L.A.'s 2. I think that's why you're seeing change to McDyess as the starting 4.
Christopher (Rexburg, ID)
I'm wondering why your power rankings don't adjust winning margin by the pace of the game?
John Holllinger (2:19 PM)
Basically, it's a ton of programming/processing work for a very marginal benefit. Virtually every NBA game is within 10% of each other in pace, and nobody ever has a margin better/worse than about 10 per game, so at the absolute extremes it would affect teams by a point, and in most cases the impact would be on the order of hundredths of points.
What do you think the Thunder's playoff ceiling looks like this season, and next?
John Holllinger (2:20 PM)
This season I have trouble seeing them beat San Antonio in the second round, but they have a great shot of getting out of the first as a No. 4 seed with homecourt advantage. If I'm OKC I'm really pulling for Denver, not Portland, to get the No. 5.
You seem to go off PER for MVP vote - how important is winning when you're deciding who you think the MVP is? If the guy with the highest PER came from an 8th seed, would he be your MVP?
Why is Dwight not leading the MVP conversation right now with all of his defensive numbers. His ppg is over 20pts now, so offensively he isn't doing as bad as previous yrs. He is playing like no big in the league and his points are dependent on guards sacrificing theirs.
John Holllinger (2:22 PM)
The answer to both these is the same -- it's my beginning point but not necessarily my end point. I did endorse Garnett for MVP in Minnesota when his team won 45 games and finished 9th in the West, but nobody listened to me and Nash won. I looped in the Howard comment because I don't get why he's on people's "honorable mention" list rather than 1st or 2nd on the ballot.
Can we just give the MVP to the Bulls' interior defense as a whole?
John Holllinger (2:23 PM)
That may be the most reasonable MVP suggestion I've heard this year. Chicago's ability to defend the paint with all those bigs and Thibodeau's system has been one of the defining facets of this season. Also, this lets me give another Omer Asik shoutout. I love watching the guy play D.
Talk about the importance of Melo's shot last night?
John Holllinger (2:27 PM)
This isn't well-known nationally, but Melo's clutch stats blow away just about everybody's -- Kobe, Dirk, LeBron, whoever, they all take a back seat to Anthony. It's the strongest line on his resume. As far as the immediate impact, it helps the Knicks get a leg up on Philly for 6 and keeps alive their hope of catching Atlanta for 5th (Hawks finishing schedule is brutal)... and probably cheered up Suns and Hornets fans too, by giving Memphis a home loss.
Skip Bayless said Kobe has passed D. Rose for MVP considerations, do you agree with skip?
John Holllinger (2:28 PM)
"Passed"? He was never behind in my book. But I have a feeling I'm reading from a different tome than most on this subject.
Originally I was very excited for the second round of the play-offs in both conferences thinking that the first will probably play out as expected. However, the recent play of Portland, Memphis and even the nuggets has me thinking we could see an upset out west. What do you think John?
John Holllinger (2:34 PM)
Sorry folks, computer crashed on me big time...
John Holllinger (2:35 PM)
As for the question, I too had been resigned to a non-competitive first round but now am much more excited by possibility of Portland, Memphis and New York making things interesting. Of course, we often seem to get good playoff series in places we aren't looking, so maybe this is a contrarian indicator.
Michael Harper (Norfolk,VA)
How much would Miami play for Kemba Walkers clutchness?
John Holllinger (2:36 PM)
Hopefully less than the Hawks paid for Acie Law's college clutchness. Different ballgame up here.
Statistically speaking, how unusual is it to have so many teams so closely clustered at the top of the power rankings so late in the season?
John Holllinger (2:38 PM)
I can't say with specificity since the Power Rankings are relatively young, but certainly we haven't seen it this clustered since we launched them a few years ago. Usually one or two teams have separated themselves from the pack by now, and perhaps we're starting to see the Lakers do that, but right now it is jam packed between the top seven teams. (And I do mean seven -- Orlando and Dallas are still right there).
Do you think the Bulls have the best defensive 2nd unit front court in the league? Asik is 6th in rebs per 48. He's 13th in blks per 48 while taj is 9th.
John Holllinger (2:39 PM)
Without a doubt. Acutally, the question is more where they rank historically -- I think that combo can right up there with Salley-Rodman in terms of a defensive frontcourt pair off the bench.
DPOY - Deng? Tony Allen? Can't be Dwight again can it?
John Holllinger (2:40 PM)
It's Dwight. Tony Allen would have a strong case if Hollins hadn't forgot he was on the team for half the season.
Who's your All-NBA backcourt if you have to pick a 1 and a 2?
John Holllinger (2:43 PM)
Rose would be my choice at the 1; I'd say he outrates CP on durability and somewhat surpasses Westbrook on defense. But if CP comes back and plays at his early-season level I'm switching back. The Kobe vs. Wade debate at the 2 is the interesting part of that equation, because both have played at what is clearly a first-team level. But I think Wade has been a little better, and he's also played more minutes and had more of a defensive impact.
Who would be Memphis perfect first round matchup. I think they can match up with LA frontcourt and Tony Allen/Battier can tag team Kobe.
John Holllinger (2:44 PM)
Here's the crazy thing -- they match up against all four teams really well. Memphis is 9-6 against the West's top four teams, with a home game left against San Antonio, and Rudy Gay missed several of those games. Griz's combo of size and perimeter defenders is going to make them a very tough out.
Do you agree with Rick Carlisle's assumption that the Mavericks are soft?
John Holllinger (2:44 PM)
No, but they played like it last night. Kidd was spectacularly awful, and he had a lot of company.
Thomas (KC, MO)
I'm wondering why you and other writers make such a big deal of home-field advantage in the playoffs. If home-field is worth less than 3 points per game, what is so valuable about one extra home game in a 7 game series?
John Holllinger (2:46 PM)
A) because it's worth a bit more than that in playoff games, b) even more so in seventh games, and c) the margin between two playoff opponents can be so razor-thin that homecourt really does decide it.
Mike (ocala Fl)
Knicks are down 1. Who takes the shot Carmelo or Big Shot Billups
John Holllinger (2:47 PM)
I don't know if you saw some of the heaves Mr. Big Shot took in Denver and the latter part of his Detroit career in those situations, but suffice it to say Melo is a pretty easy choice in last-second scenarios -- Chauncey tries too hard to get foul calls, and he's not getting them in those spots.
A PG doesn't have to be All-NBA 1st team. Last 2 years it was Kobe and Wade. Do you think Rose should be over either of them? I sure don't.
John Holllinger (2:48 PM)
No, but he was specifying that I pick one. You're right that Kobe-Wade is a pretty obvious choice at guard otherwise, with LeBron, Dirk and Howard rounding out the team.
Rory T (Chicago)
You need to talk more about Kobe in these. I always ctrl+F to see what you have to say about Kobe and he only ever comes up 4-5 times.
John Holllinger (2:48 PM)
Thanks. I'll be sure to bring up the Miami crying thing too; I don't think that story gets enough play right now.
Neville (Orange County)
If your the Knicks, do you want to see Miami or Orlando in the first round?
John Holllinger (2:50 PM)
I think Orlando is a spectacularly bad match-up for the Knicks, enough that you might even welcome the Heat as a first-round opponent. Chauncey would be key in that series, as he might destroy Miami's PGs.
Easiest matchup for Bulls from the 2 spot. Obviously whoever the 8 seed is the easiest, but what about if they only get to #2?
John Holllinger (2:52 PM)
Really not sure yet. On paper I would think Philly's style would be pretty easy for their D to shut down, but the Bulls haven't done that well against the Sixers. New York owned them earlier in the year, but the lineup change they're more of an iso team and might be easier for Thibs' D to handle. As for Atlanta, we'll see how the next two match-ups this month go; the one thing to be said for drawing Hawks is that they really aren't playing well.
Should the Pacers fear the deer? Will the Bucks catch Indy (projected to finish one back and one head to head)?
John Holllinger (2:54 PM)
The Bucks' Playoff Odds have nearly tripled in the past two days because of how awful the Pacers and Bobcats have been. Amazingly, it appears that if Milwaukee wins that last head-to-head they might sneak in, because the Pacers are going off the rails right now.
Can the Blazers contend with a healthy Oden or do they still need another piece?
John Holllinger (2:56 PM)
Still think they need another shooter. But a healthy Oden makes them a monstrous force defensively. Picking up his qualifying offer for next year seems a lot more reasonable if they finish with a win total in the high 40s and have three All-Star caliber players (L.A., Wallace, Roy) and Miller to put around him and guys like Batum, Matthews, Camby and Rudy as "help."
Should miami play the standings to meet atl? Or can they as easily handle NY? last year's decision to meet boston was not smart.
John Holllinger (2:57 PM)
Generally, you go for the highest seed you can and don't sweat first-round matchups, because if you're going to do anything of substance that round shouldn't be a problem anyway.
What can you say if this year's 'DREAM SEASON' was won by.... San Antonio Spurs?
John Holllinger (2:58 PM)
We're contractually obligated to ignore the Spurs until June. Sorry, next question....
Should Hawks management take dynamite to this roster over the summer?
John Holllinger (2:59 PM)
No, but they have to figure out how to get better role players without nuking the core. They've really painted themselves into a corner cap wise. Also, they need to get Larry Drew to play the best players. This Hilton Armstrong-Jason Collins-Josh Powell business has me tearing out my few remaining hairs. Play Zaza and Marvin. Please.
Steve (Mobile, AL)
Is part of the ZOMG DERRICK ROSE IS TEH MVP talk due to the fractured nature at the top of the league with 7 strong contenders, and Chicago simply being the new and shiny one?
John Holllinger (3:00 PM)
Of course. It's also why we spend zero time discussing the Spurs.
Since Deron left Utah, it seems the offense is "Al Jefferson". Should they trade Millsap for a more defense minded big?
John Holllinger (3:01 PM)
Not sure you've noticed but Derrick Favors is the defensive big they coveted. Expect him to start next year and Millsap to return to sixth man role.
John Holllinger (3:02 PM)
By the way, was pointed out to me that Chicago's one win over Philly was by 45 ... so, I guess they do want to play the Sixers after all.
You mention all the key Blazer players in your answer to the Oden question. I don't know their cap situation...are they actually able to keep all of them for next year (including Oden)? If so...YIKES!
John Holllinger (3:03 PM)
Yes, in fact they're all under contract. Blazers' only FAs are Oden and Patty Mills, although Miller has an option year the Blazers could decline if they get skittish about money.
Umm......Lose to the Clippers at home?
John Holllinger (3:05 PM)
No, not good, but understand two things -- teams that shoot well and space the floor are always going to have a chance against the way Boston plays D (it's why they always either lose to Toronto or rally to win by 5), and second, that they're missing several of the players they'll be counting on in June. Same things hurt the Cs in the Golden State game I was at last Friday, where they barely hung on to win.
John Holllinger (3:06 PM)
Folks that's all the time, but thanks again for the great questions. Also, I'll be at the "Hollinger bowl" between Atlanta and Portland on Saturday, you can check my Tweets from it at @johnhollinger