Friday, April 20, 2007

It's Play Off Time!!!

Get ready folks!!! As the title of this article speaks for itself, it is the 2007 NBA Play-Off. Arguably the most exciting time for all basketball lovers as pulse will begin to beat faster and spirit will fly high.

Ok that’s enough; anyway I’m getting excited as well because we will have four Tall Albicelestes representative from three different teams, all of which have great chance becoming champions. Which is why I’ve decided to write this article to analyze on each player and how was their performance in the regular season.

So hopefully all you Albicelestes supporters will be with me in the coming months as we could have our first champion of 2007 here before our football teams will go to compete in the Copa America and the various FIFA age category World Cups.

Manu GINOBILI & Fabricio OBERTO of San Antonio SPURS.

For any team that plays against the SPURS, the first things they need to stop Tim DUNCAN. But that alone is not enough as there is Tony PARKER that needs to be controlled as well. Even if anyone achieves that, then there is always a bigger headache in Manu GINOBILI. For instance when Spurs played against the Atlanta HAWKS back in February, while other fail to deliver he rose to the occasion to score a season high 40 points (including 24 straight points, a franchise record). Those are the kind of quality that he possesses, regardless whether he is a starter or coming from the bench.

While MANU may not have the celebrity appeal like his All-Star captain or the credibility to be “Mr.LONGORIA” but in the end on his best, you can’t find a better threat than him. He is arguably Gregg POPOVICH secret weapon when needed the most. In 2003 he was an unknown quantity that burst into the scene like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode and two year later against the Detroit PISTONS, there was no answer against him.

After a disappointing 2006 which has been filled with injuries, MANU must be very much motivated to end this year by collecting his third championship ring.

As for OBERTO, playing alongside MANU should inspire him to realize on what is at stake. Despite the fact he is given limited time play, as he is often a bench player, OBERTO is surely to deliver when called upon. He has shown tremendous improvements this season, as he managed to post 4.4 per game (1.7 last year), 4.7 rebound (2.1) & 0.9 assists (0.5). Some of the highlight includes, notching a career high 22 points against the Phoenix SUNS in November.

Oh yes, I’ve almost forgot, rumours has it that MANU is in the running for the Sixth Man Award. Whether he is the first, second or sixth, for me MANU is the MAN!!!

First Stop Denver NUGGETS – I do see Spurs coming good in this one but perhaps with a bit obstacle against the likes of ANTHONY and IVERSON. We could have a showdown between Argentina (GINOBILI, OBERTO) and Brazil (NENE). Seba, since you’re based in Rio, you might want to take note of this.

Andres NOCIONI of Chicago BULLS

The Bulls are back!!! The current team is regarded the best since the JORDAN/PIPPEN Championship winning era, as coach Scott SKILES has built around a young and talented team that consist of Kirk HINRICH, Luol DENG, Ben GORDON, Chris DUHON, Tyrus THOMAS and a certain Andres “CHAPU” Nocioni. Also included in the team is former NBA winner and four-time Defensive Player Of The Year Ben WALLACE. There is plenty of anticipation from the current BULLS team after having seeing disappointing result at the first hurdle of the play-offs for the past two seasons, so will it be a third time unlucky?

Now back to Chapu, it has been very much a roller coaster ride for him this season. Upon returning from his involvement with the National Team, he had slow start but then of the sudden, bang!!! Point after points including a career high performance against the New Orleans/Oklahoma HORNETS, where he managed 31 points back in December.

It was during this time, he was beginning to show to the type of player he really was and the BULLS were giving everyone the impression of a serious championship contender. However injury prevented this progress sometime February which resulted of him being out of action for the entire month of March. It was personal scare for me as there were report he might even miss the play-offs, should he does not recover in time.

Nevertheless due to the strong nature of his will power, he has made a comeback just in time and should be fit enough for the play-offs. Though I’m a bit concern on whether coach SKILES is going give him more time play, as the BULLS were playing well during in absence, but lets remember one thing that the figures don’t lie.

This season, despite having sat out for almost two months, he manages to post an average 14 ppg (13 last season) & 5.7 rpg (6.1). Furthermore his contract is coming to end this season, and Chapu is really desperate to extend his stay. What a better ways there is to convince the BULLS franchise to give him his extension than a great performance in the play-offs.

First Stop, Miami HEAT – A repeat of last season first round encounter on which the Heats won the series 4-2 and the rest, as you know is history. Regular season meetings is favouring the Bulls with 3-1 win but it will not be easy when you’re up against WADE and O’NEIL in the play offs. SKILES young boys need to raise their stake.

Carlos DELFINO of Detroit PISTONS

Personally I’m not really a fan of the PISTONS. Even when they were surprise champions in 2004, I was never really attracted to them as mush as other team. But I’m not going to deny what great cohesive teamwork they have. The current team doesn’t look that different with almost the same line up such as Chauncey BILLUPS, Richard HAMILTON, Rasheed WALLACE etc.

As for Carlos DELFINO, he had dismal debut back in 2004, due to the fact the coach then Larry BROWN had overlooked on his offensive qualities. Plus to the fact he was even injured for several months during that season, and his form dipped forcing coach BROWN to leave him out of the play-offs rosters.

However under the guidance Flip SAUNDERS who was appointed as coach in 2005, is where DELFINO thrives the most. Though despite coming off the bench, he had posted several double-digit performance and was well renowned for his defensive performance to the change of pace offensive scheme, that SAUNDERS had instill on the team.

No doubt as for this season he continues to start from the bench but coach SAUNDERS should not neglect him as he has often produced when it really matters.

For instance, he shot the nail-hitting buzzer from 3-point range in that epic match against the New York KNICKS (a match that when into 3 over times) back in December. Apart from that he has had posted several double digit performance in recent important matches such as Eastern Conference contender Toronto RAPTORS, Miami HEAT, and also Championship contenders such as the Phoenix SUNS.

As I’ve mentioned earlier that he missed the 2005 finals, DELFINO will want to make up for those times by providing plenty of support to ensure that the PISTONS will make it this time and perhaps who knows, go on to win the championship as well. If that happens, it’s MOTOR CITY ROCKS!!! All the way

First Stop, Orlando MAGIC – The PISTONS swept the MAGIC 4-0 during the regular season, so I do believe they would not have that much of resistance in this tie. DELFINO defensive play could be put up to test when he faces the likes of Grant HILL, Dwight HOWARD & Hedo Turkoglu.

Not to forget…

I wouldn’t want to forget El Guerero himself. Coming to the NBA with a monster reputation in Europe and for Argentina, from bench warmer he went on to become Charlotte BOBCATS most celebrated player towards the last few months of the regular season. The BOBCATS must be banging their heads for not being able to utilize his potential from the beginning itself. Though no news regarding his extended stay in Charlotte, but I believe Walter HERRMANN has done more than enough to ensure his reputation is heard across the NBA.
And last but not least……IT’S SHOW TIME!!!


Seba said...

Great playoffs preview, John!

I'm really looking forward for them to start.

Personally, I like the Chicago Bulls and now even more so, as my favourite Argentine player, Chapu NOCIONI, plays for them.

It's going to be a tough test against WADE (if he is fully fit) and SHAQ, but I'm confident they'll overcome the defending champs.

I think this season marks a record for Argentines in the playoffs. We've got MANU, OBERTO, CHAPU and DELFINO!

And too bad the Bobcats didn't trust HERRMANN earlier in the season...

John said...

Thanks Seba for the compliment, really appreciate it. There’s more to come.

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