Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Hangover 3: A Sobering Reality

I recently saw the newest iteration of the Hangover franchise, The Hangover: Part III. The fact the movie's title took less than a few seconds to think of (because movie people can count, too) is all you need to know about the groundbreaking originality of this film; there is none.

I gave this movie too much credit based off its decently funny trailer, ignoring the 20% rating from critics and moviegoers on Rotten Tomatoes, along with the sage advice from a few sensibly thinking friends. I guess I just had to witness this pile of mediocrity for myself.

Big mistake.

Anyone remember when Michael Jordan came back with the Washington Wizards after his second retirement, tarnishing the end of an incredible career? It was all based off optimism, and the fact that Michael Jordan was a grown-ass man who could do whatever the hell he pleased. (Six championships earns that sort of judgement.) For all the great decisions he made on the court, that one decision to come back and play for Washington will go down as the one people question the most, even more so than Space Jam

If Phillips and company stopped after the first Hangover, it would go down as one of the greatest movies of all time; an undisputed cult classic. But for the second time in three years, they tarnished the legacy of the original. And there's only one reason: money.

Jordan wasn't in it for the money- he was a made man, many times over. He was in it for the sake of competition. Admirable- but in retrospect, mistaken.

If I'm making a third installment of a franchise, it's for one of two reasons (or both): completing the natural story arch or making an even better  film than the first two. Like the second Hangover, Phillips just wanted a reason to get back together with his buddies and make a few bucks. That's well and good and all- but if that's the intent, go gamble in Vegas for a weekend and spare the viewing public.

Part III falls victim to being a solid trailer movie; all of its best moments occur in it, with little left over to fill an hour and forty minutes. Even a cameo by one of today's best female comedians can't save this underachieving film.

What made Hangover a success was how refreshing it was and how (like a great sports team) everyone played their role to perfection: Bradley Cooper was the handsome, charismatic star with an edge, Ed Helms was the straight man to Zach Galifinakis' awkward-yet-entertaining humor, and Justin Bartha was- there. Ken Jeong burst on to the scene as a charismatic prick. It all was the perfect storm for a movie, really.

While three out of those five were still excellent in their roles, the other two are what really dragged down this movie.

Galifinakis turned into the Chandler Parsons of  actors. He came from nowhere and has an odd style, but it just works. He was odd, yet honest and endearing. Yet here we are in 2013 and by the end of the movie, he's just odd and annoying due to his overexposure.

Despite Jeong's limited time in the first installment, he provided bang-for-your-buck humor, taking over scenes with his style of funny. In Part III, his story dominates the entire length and Phillips force feeds us a "pull at your heart strings" story line between Allan and Chao, while trying to make us laugh out loud- and failing miserably at both.

There's a moment when Chao jumps off a Vegas building and para glides while singing, R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly". It's poignant, seeing as Jordan used it in 1996's Space Jam. It's also fitting in relation to the context of the franchise.

Like Jordan in D.C., the Hangover is past its prime. Instead of soaring to greater heights, Hangover: Part III crashed and burned- and we can only hope there isn't a phoenix called Part IV.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Contact me on Twitter @SeanNeutron

Monday, May 27, 2013

10 Things I Would Tell The Cast of Mad Men If They Had the Internet in the 1960's (based off last night's episode)

1. Megan Draper-Start acting like a damn adult. This isn't grade school. No one has cooties. Ok, some girls do. Watch out.

2. Peggy- you should have dumped your boyfriend episodes ago. He's a loser, a bum or any other word synonymous with failing at life. I was seriously waiting for you to push the knife deeper in the ambulance.

3. Abe- you are a douche. That is all.

4. Roger just wants a boy to be a father/grandfather to. Why does it have to be so hard? Maybe he can adopt one from Brangelina- they have like, a bunch. Then again, they aren't alive yet- it's the 60's.

5. Roger's daughter- see what I said to Abe. Wait- you are too lazy to scroll up one inch? Ok, fine. You are a douche, too.

6. Betty- you look like you have been doing p90x. Or p45x since it was a long time ago. Glad to see you're back to being sexy again.

7. Don- it's time to make up your damn mind. This vulnerable, wimpy Don is very, very lame. Stop picking unnecessary fights at work and at home and chasing women who see through your crap. Go home, wimpy Don. You're drunk.

8. Pete- I would have never guessed you'd be on the other end of the "Most Annoying Characters in Season 6" spectrum. Congratulations- now go start not sucking at your job/life.

9. Bobby Draper- Stop being such an attention whore. I want to punch you square in your face.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

As The Basketball Turns: So We Meet Again

Last season, the Miami Heat led by LeBron James made quick work of the Indiana Pacers, dispatching them in six games. The biggest question one can ask is "What will be different this year?" To that I would say the Pacers will make it tougher this time around for Miami because of a few things.

The Heat won first in their 2012 first round series, then Indiana seized control by winning two in a row, holding the Heat to 75 points in those wins. All they did was delay the Heat to getting to the Finals and beating the Thunder. LeBron and company reeled off three wins in a row in dominant fashion. Wade even had a 40 point game. This time around, Paul George and the Pacers have one thing on their mind: payback.

Looking for Vengeance

So what about the Pacers will make it tougher, Sean? Three things, nameless reader:

1. The development of Paul George into a two-way star
2. The second best big man tandem in the league, David West and Roy Hibbert
3. Lance Stephenson's growth from a bench player into a solid role player who can be proficient offensively

The first thing I know about Indiana is that they know how to beat Miami. They won those two games last year, and started off the regular season 2-0 against the Heat, winning by double-digits each time. The 36 rebounds from George, Hibbert and West certainly helped there.

The next time they played, it was West who led Indiana to a win with 30 points. They are selfless players, and any one of the players that make up their "Big Three" can take over a game.That was February 1st and the game before the team's historic win streak began.

The Heat bounced back and won by 14 the third time around. This was their 18th consecutive win during their 27-game win streak. They were running on all cylinders this time and no one could seem to stop them.

Paul George's evolving into a legitimate star has been the biggest saving grace for this year's Pacers. He isn't just a "dunker" anymore. He can defend you or beat you off the dribble. He can drain three's in your face or out-hustle you on the boards. He can take over when the team needs it- and against the Heat, the Pacers will need every ounce of energy George has.

The team's biggest advantage will be West and Hibbert down low. This year the two helped Indiana become the best rebounding team in the league. They'll make it tough for LeBron to have his way in the lane, and will redirect a lot of shots whether directly or indirectly. Hibbert has shown this season he might be one of the best big man in the league after Gasol and Randolph. (Sorry, Dwight- too much extracurricular).  This duo can score and defend, and if they don't get in foul trouble, they'll have a big effect on the outcome of this series.

The last crucial piece to this Pacers squad is the progression of one Lance Stephenson. Last year at this time, he was just some bench player making news for holding his throat in a gesture to imply the Heat had choked during a loss to Indiana. This year he is their starting shooting guard in the same back court as George Hill. Together, they make  up a savvy duo that will give Wade and Chalmers plenty to think about come Wednesday night.

Looking Ahead

The only weakness for the Heat isn't even something that is on the court. It's in their heads. After LeBron's recent comments about Pacers' coach Frank Vogel's remarks about the Heat, one can only take away that the Heat have been caught looking ahead to the Finals and winning another title. It's great to have a that goal and work towards it, but this Pacers squad isn't lying down for anyone- not even the King.

The series against the Bulls proved that if you get in Miami's face defensively and simply out-hustle them on the boards, you'll have a shot to win the game, or win it outright. Make them work for every basket and try and wear them down. The Bulls did as much of this as they could, but were just over matched and undermanned.

The Heat decimated the Bulls for the middle three games, and eeked out a series-clinching win in Game 5. If they had trouble with Noah and Boozer down low, then West and Hibbert will be a nightmare. Bosh and Haslem will have their hands full and I look for them to not be offensively factored in to this series. They'll be drained on defense and leave up the offensive magic to James, Wade and their fleet of shooters.

Miami will have to keep their fastbreak fine-tuned and "on the go" at all times to attack the half court nature of the Pacers. Like the Clippers, if Miami gets bogged down on one side of the court, it only helps Indiana. James will looking to do MVP-like things and George will try and shut him down. Good luck, Paul. Wade has seen a resurgence lately as well, and Stephenson will try to prove his defensive mettle against the veteran guard.

So who wins?

Miami will take the series, 4-3. Some would say they seem "extra-motivated", but who am I to try and figure out which team is more inspired? Miami will be tested by this Pacers team, more so than in last year's playoffs.

While Miami is the trendy pick, I honestly would not be surprised if Indiana won. But you have to choose a winner, and LeBron James and his team look to continue their reign of dominance over the basketball world.

It's good to to be the King.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Contact me on Twitter @SeanNeutron

As The Basketball Turns: The Not-So-Wild West

Here we are. The field is smaller, and the stage is bigger. It's conference finals time, and I finished round two a solid three for four in my prognosticating: Part 1  Part 2

I went out on a limb with the uber-fun Warriors, and for a good few days, even they looked like a solid pick. Then, of course- reality hit and the Spurs remembered they were the Spurs. The once “wild” West had been tamed (at least partially) and order was semi-restored.

While both conference finals match-ups are set, I aim to focus my attention to the Western Conference. The defensive-minded Memphis Grizzlies take on the perennial-contending San Antonio Spurs in what looks to be a tough, half-court based series. Can Lionel Hollins keep his bunch believing they belong in the Finals, or will Greg Popovich pull out all the stops and take advantage of the perfect storm of the old guard (Ginobli, Parker, Duncan) blended with the new blood (Leonard, Green, Joseph)? As Yoda would say, "Waste time, let us not."

The Yes-We-Cans

Before the playoffs started, not a lot of people gave the Memphis Grizzlies a chance to get to this point. First, they had to beat a talented Clippers team (which ousted them in seven games in last year's opening round) and then get past the heavy favorite OKC Thunder.

But then something happened. To paraphrase The Real World- basketball stopped getting polite, and started getting real.

“Being polite” would be the expected or the assumed. Out West, the Thunder would have a clear path to the Finals along with the Miami Heat in the East.

“Getting real” began when Russell Westbrook collided with Houston’s Patrick Beverley who attempted to steal the ball. It put the young point guard out for the rest of the playoffs, made Beverley public enemy number one in OKC and put the ball in motion to alleviate some pressure for Memphis.

The phase only continued when “Lob City” a.k.a. the Los Angeles Clippers were grounded by the gritty defense of the Grizzlies. Vinny Del Negro was at a disadvantage for two reasons: he can’t coach effectively, and even if he could- his team wasn’t designed to play half court against such an aggressive Memphis team that is the top-rated defense in terms of points allowed.  Chris Paul grew frustrated, Blake Griffin showed how one dimensional his game is (when he is slowed down, it’s painfully obvious), and the team from Tennessee led by the Randolph/Gasol duo dominated for four wins in a row.

The Thunder escaped a valiant effort from the upstart Rockets, and people gave them a fifty/fifty chance against an underrated Grizzlies team. OKC started off with a gutsy two-point win at home, coming from behind in the final minute. This was a telling sign, as a fully-loaded Thunder with Durant and Westbrook would have likely handled Memphis at home. Once Randolph and company took that stinging loss, they regrouped and only got tighter on defense. They won the next four games by six, six, six and four. If there’s one thing that Hollins’ team can do- it’s win close games. Durant was forced to do too much without his buddy and their lack of bench support was exposed for the world to see.

Losing two, and then winning four in the first round. Losing one, then winning four in a row again in the semi-finals. It’s like Memphis enjoys being punched in the mouth, only to retaliate with complete domination.  While none of their players have been averaging more than 19 points in the postseason, the triumvirate of Conley, Gasol and Randolph has truly been lethal. They simply have not had to put up points, only allowing 92.4 points per game.

The duo of Gasol and Randolph have averaged 37 points and 17 rebounds per game. While Tim Duncan has always been great on defense and on the boards, not even he will be able to keep up with the relentless pace these two go at for four quarters. Even if Duncan can shut down one, who will match up with the other? Diaw? Splitter? Bonnar? The Grizzlies will have an advantage either way here, and will look to capitalize on the glass to secure wins.

The glaring weakness I have noticed with the Grizzlies is the team’s shooting. They do not have a player like a Stephen Curry, a Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Durant that can come down and drain automatic jumpers. Heck- they don’t even have a Kevin Martin-caliber shooter. With a team not built around a superstar or two, a role-playing shooter would have a huge impact and stretch the Spurs defense to not just focus on mid-range jumpers and shots in the paint. If Memphis wants to play well and give themselves a shot to get to the Finals, someone (Allen, Conley, Prince, Pondexter) will have to be consistent here.

The We’ve Been Here Before’s

Greg Popovich should stop wearing button up shirts and ties and sports coats to games. He simply needs to wear a t-shirt that says “Genuis @ Work.” Seamlessly transitioning from the David Robinson era to the Tim Duncan era, then adding pieces here like Parker, Ginobli and more recently Leonard and Green…it’s almost not fair.

After dispatching of a depleted Lakers squad that also lacked motivation, the Spurs were matched- up against the young Warriors. Golden State had no business beating Denver, let alone giving the Spurs a massive uppercut in Games 1 and 2 in San Antonio.

They were up sixteen points with four minutes to go in Game 1, before the Spurs came back and put the Warriors down. The next game, the Warriors grabbed momentum with a 10-point win. Heading back to Oracle Arena splitting the series on the road was nothing short of a gift, with the chance to step on the Spurs’ throat. The Warriors handled the third game like the first and gave back control to Duncan’s bunch, but tied it 2-2 later on. It was at this point that the Popovich and his acolytes decided enough was enough and took complete control, winning 4-2.

The Spurs struggled more than a few times trying to stop both Thompson and Curry’s hot shooting. If it wasn’t them, it was Jarrett Jack’s fearlessly slashing into the lane and coming up clutch for Golden State. They made the proper adjustments, and Danny Green along with Kawhi Leonard hit big three after big three to sink Golden State. Their athleticism mixed with consistency helped the Spurs’ Big Three squash this young team that dared to challenge them.

The biggest difference is the fact that the Spurs will not average 102.8 points per game. They’ll be lucky to break 95-100 against Memphis, even with their massive shooting advantage. Matt Bonnar might even get more minutes, as to stretch the Grizzlies’ defense and allow even more shots for Duncan and Parker. Parker’s speed will be matched well by Conley’s on both sides of the ball, essentially canceling those two out. Ginobli will be shut down by Tony Allen. There’s almost nothing more to be said than that, as Ginobli has been prone to more than a few bad shooting nights this year.

Duncan might have a few stellar efforts against Randolph and Gasol based off his savvy know-how and veteran instinct. He’ll make whoever is guarding him work extra hard, but something tells me his age might catch up to him at some point. Green will be the team’s biggest breakout star even more than he already has been, but the bigger the stage- the more the unknowns. Can he and Leonard continue their dagger-like perimeter-shooting? That will be paramount to their success against the Grizzlies.

And the Winner Goes to…..

The Memphis Grizzlies win in six games, 4-2.

They’ll take a punch or two in the mouth, but for now they will be overlooked by most as inferior to the crafty Spurs. The young, defenseless Warriors exposed the Spurs’ faults for the world to see, and the Grizzlies will be far more capable to shut the aging Spurs down on more than one occasion.

What it simply boils down to is that the Grizzlies will return the West to its wild, unpredictable ways instead of the Spurs' domesticated, fundamental nature. And in nature, a Grizzly sounds way more terrifying, right?

Of course it does.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Contact me on Twitter @SeanNeutron

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Breakdown of Former Michigan State Recruit Jay Harris' Rap Video

It was recently reported by multiple outlets that one-time Michigan State recruit Jay Harris recorded a scandalous rap video.


In a deceiving 3 minutes and 26 seconds (it fades to black a full minute ahead at 2:30) he figuratively rips his scholarship to shreds. The former Exton (Pa.) Downington East High receiver discusses such thought-provoking material like marijuana and females doing socially unacceptable things.

Most kids would realize the err of their ways and have feelings related to shame and regret. 

Not Mr. Jay Harris, or as he is known in the rap game- Mr. Jay DatBull (his rap alter ago) seemed proud and unabashed, crediting a new found courage in which he would finally let his parents know his future plans. I'm sure they are thrilled.

“I’ve always had this in the back of my head, but never had the courage to tell my parents that this is what I want to do,” Harris told the Inquirer.

At the time news broke, he had around 50,000 views. His video currently has over 700,000 views likely due to the controversial nature of it. 

It would be one thing if his "flow" were "ridiculous" and "crazy sick"- as the kids say. Unfortunately, while I am no rap connoisseur, I am left with the feeling he is miles away from anything deemed worthy of those two terms. 

But what would a scandalous video be without an analysis of it?

 a. The video begins with who else? Jay Datbull. He seems to be partaking in an illegal activity. This screams "ground-breaking" all over it. 

b. Nice location by the way- some very random shed that has been furnished. How thoughtful. Although the interior decorator should be fired because the wallpaper is questionable.

c. Anybody else remember when having a button up shirt with the top button buttoned without a tie on made you a dork? .....Then I remember fashion trends work in cycles.

"DatBull 4 Life" is the anthem and he wastes no time in informing you that he is in fact Jay DatBull for the rest of his existence on Earth. He smartly chose to perform behind that rail-like barrier. protecting him from any possible irresponsible drivers. Mr. Harris does think sometimes. 

 He only exchanges dap with one of his friends in this shot. Aren't any of his other friends jealous?

"You know" is said over and over again. Apparently we know some sort of information. Well, nothing like assuming, Jay. The constant "look back at my friends for assurance that I am dope" is a little distracting.

Whose artistic vision chose an outdoor picnic area for this wonderful occasion? Were there any families harmed by hearing these poetic words?

I have come to the conclusion thirty-eight seconds in that this young man has a questionable moral compass.If you are married, stay clear of Mr. DatBull. He will apparently take your wife and any other female you hold dearly to you.

Add "generic SUV" to list of locations. More suspected illegal smoking? Shocker. 

"Maybe the viewer doesn't realize I am smoking. Let me blow smoke into the camera. Yeah, that's a great idea," thought Jay.

I am also assuming that "rolling trees" does not describe how Jay DatBull transports newly-chopped down trees into the woodchipper.

Forget the D? Sounds like the 2012 Houston Rockets season.

Tip #738 for aspiring rappers: Throw as many gang signs in a shot as possible, even if you have no idea what they mean.

With all of these young men out at the park, I hope it was not a school day. Will any of them be there for when his rap career fails to pan out? I bet not. 

"Words like a poet/ on my Van Gogh (expletive)."

I admire the attempt at a Post-Impressionism reference, but the whole "I'm smoking dope" theme is very distracting. 

A real artist would have cut off his ear at this point, Jay. 

 "Only God can judge me."

This is typically a phrase said by people in the midst of doing very frowned-upon things, such as smoking marijuana and defiantly declaring their passion for womanizing.

He references himself and Michael Jordan by mimicking a very bad jumper. Better form, Jay- plant your feet and follow through. Also, Jordan smoked cigars- not marijuana.

A very weak and disjointed effort at a secret handshake that only his one friend gets while the rest are content to watch the debacle unfold.

We are again reminded by the fact that Jay will have the last name DatBull for the rest of his time on Earth, unless he goes to the DMV and changes it. It would be fitting if he moves to Italy and enjoys running all the time.

Everyone except two gentleman on the right get to sit on the picnic table. It's a very exclusive picnic table- full of young men who enjoy marijuana, bad raps, horrible dance moves and most likely skipping school.

"DatBull" is displayed in the bottom left corner of a black screen before it goes completely black. Yes, the last full minute of this video is empty space.

"How DARE you rob me of a full minute of this video," said no one.

Final Thought:

I want my money back. Wait- I didn't spend any on this atrocity? Well, I want my time back. In four years, Jay Harris will wish he could have his scholarship back, too. 

But at least he'll still have the last name DatBull.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Contact me on Twitter  @SeanNeutron

Monday, May 6, 2013

As The Basketball Turns: 2013 NBA Playoffs Second Round Preview, Part 2

Welcome back to your source for everything basketball here on BSN, "As the Basketball Turns". On Sunday, the Thunder eeked out an unconvincing win over the Grizzlies, and the Knicks played just as I expected: poorly. Today I will preview the matchups between the Bulls/Heat and Warriors/Spurs.

If you missed Part 1, click here.

(5) Chicago Bulls vs. (1) Miami Heat


In news no one considered shocking, LeBron James won the 2013 NBA MVP. It was his fourth MVP in five years. He joined Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabar and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to win four MVPs. He and Russell are the only two to win it four times, and he and Chamberlain are the only ones to win it consecutive times on separate occasions.

The scary part? James doesn't know his own ceiling. He's only 28. Jordan won his first MVP at 25, and didn't get his second until 28. Jordan's last MVP came at 35 in 1998. A fully healthy James would likely shatter MJ's 5 and breaking Jabar's 6 would be a very realistic goal. James, along with Shaquille O'Neal, missed being unanimously voted MVP by one vote.

The best players shrug off a loss and learn from it, like LeBron did after their 27 game win streak was snapped versus the Bulls back on March 27th. It was the first time during the streak that a team had gotten in his grill and roughed him up a little. It was hard foul after hard foul. Kirk Heinrich tackled him. Taj Gibson near decapitated him. This Bulls team against LeBron played very similar to the "Bad Boy" Pistons with Isaiah Thomas and Bill Lambeer of the late 80's/early 90's.

While James and his crew got even on April 14th in a 105-93 win over the Bulls, that game didn't have the hype their previous match-up had or the level of anticipation now that the stage is the NBA playoffs. A 4-4-4-4 run for this Heat team is not out of the question, either.

Coach Erik Spoelstra has geared an offense around the abilities of all of his players, and the traditional line-up with a defined position for each player is thrown out the window.They rank 5th in the league in scoring and 7th in assists. They are 2nd in the league in offensive rating at 112.5 points per 100 possessions. This is due to their incredibly dangerous fast break, tough defense and accurate shooting.   James and Wade are the maestros, orchestrating fast breaks, alley-oops and keeping the team in complete harmony. They make passes others can't and stretch the court.

Another reason why the Heat have the advantage over teams? It has nothing to do with the game of basketball. It has to do with one word: maturity.

This team is fully aware that this game is not just a game, but also a business. On the court they blend together the perfect mix of a high octane offense and an efficient one. Everyone knows where they have to be and holds each other accountable. There are no dramatic personalities or bad apples. One-time "bad boy" Chris Andersen has had a resurgence of sorts with the Heat and James' lobs for alley-oops as well as inspired defensive play on the other end. The Heat only allow 95 points per game, good for 5th in the league.

The Heat play the best small-ball in the league when James and Wade direct the offense and look for their shooters on the outside. Why is it they can score so much and have so many assists? Because for all the glory James, Wade and Bosh get, they really don't care who scores- and it shows.They have no qualms when there are precious seconds left and have to kick the ball to a shooter. Here's why:

Three-point shooting
Shane Battier: 43%
Mike Miller: 42%
Ray Allen: 42%
Mario Chalmers: 41%
Norris Cole: 36%
Rashard Lewis: 38%

James himself is 40%, a massive improvement from years ago when he'd crank up three's and barely crack 30%. Just don't expect Wade to be consistent. He's only shooting 26% on the year, which is about par for WOW's career three-point course.

When they aren't busy kicking it out, James and Wade enjoy attacking the lane with dunks, layups or getting to the line. The team shoots around 75% at the line, which makes fouling them at all, especially in late game situations almost impossible. Who do you foul?

The one weak spot for the Heat is their rebounding. At 38.6, it's 30th in the league. A small quip, but a minor window for the Bulls to take advantage of.

This team would be a lot to handle for the most efficient and healthy NBA squad. The fact that the Bulls aren't healthy only makes it a matter of time before the Heat are through to the Eastern Conference Finals.


Derek Rose news these days either flips between "will he or won't he?" I advise the young Bull to just stay on the sidelines. Learn from Gilbert Arenas and RG3- rushing yourself back only does harm to your career. Even if his Bulls had the talent of the Pacers, Spurs or Thunder- I'd still tell him to save his knee.

The Bulls are also going to miss Luol Deng and Kirk Heinrich in Game 1. While they are expected to be ready for Game 2, the Heat would have to either A, all get food poisoning  or B, get locked in their locker room to lose this opening game.

The Bulls are the opposite of the Heat in terms of scoring. They only averaged 93.2 points per game (29th) during the regular season. Their 142 points in a triple overtime win versus the Nets in round 1 was a definite exception. Nate Robinson like Carmelo and JR Smith is very streaky. You cannot depend on him game in and game out to score 30 or more points.

The saving grace for them is they have an advantage on the boards at 43 a game (8th) and defensively they are ranked 3rd at 92.9 points allowed per game. Their home crowd can be absolutely raucous, and if somehow (against my wishes) Rose returned with the rest of his gang, the Bulls would have a chance to steal one at home. Yes, I realize I just said steal one at home. That's how good the Heat are.

Their defense might keep them in games, but at the pace the Heat play at, Miami won't get bogged down in a half-court style game for long. Expect them to wear the Bulls down on their way to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Final Verdict: Miami wins, 4-1.

(6) Golden State Warriors vs. (2) San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio

The biggest question facing this Spurs team in 2013 is a lot like someone asking why your grandfather is out at 1 a.m. on a Friday night at the club:  Aren't you too old to be here this late?

Every season NBA fans and pundits such as myself wonder how Greg Popovich and his team do it. They play stellar regular seasons and have deep runs into the playoffs, when logic tells us they have no reason to be this good. The only way they could be so dominant in the first round is if they played a team whose star player was out and whose second best player lacked any and all motivation- right?

Wrong. The Spurs are this good. This is no fluke. They, like the Heat, know their roles. The Spurs are like the Steelers of the NBA: no frills. Even in off years (which are very rare), they are not rebuilding, just reloading. They beat the Lakers by an average of 18.4 points per game. Yes, LA was missing pieces- but something tells me the way their season was going, they'd have a hard time winning even at full health with Kobe.

Duncan was a sleeping monster. Last year I thought he was on the fringe of retirement, but this season he was incredible: 17.8 ppg, 9.9 rpg and 2.7 bpg. He is a gamechanger on both sides of the ball as long as he's not in foul trouble. In Parker's absence due to an ankle injury Duncan carried the team when many thought they would struggle. Before he got hurt, Tony Parker was playing like one of the best point guards in the league. He ended the season averaging 20.3 points and 7.6 assists and continues to be one of the craftiest and hardest of guards to defend in the league.

They finished the year 54-28, 35-6 at home. Good luck, Stephen Curry and company at trying to steal one in San Antonio.

I'd like to say they were perfect and don't turn over the ball- but they do. The Spurs turn it over 14 times a game, and logic tells me they cannot do that against a young Warriors team bent on scoring as many points as possible.

Golden State

On the other side, we have a very young Warriors team. Richard Jefferson is their oldest player at 31. Their average age is 25. As young and fast-paced as they are, the Spurs still beat them in scoring per game, 103-101.2.

This season and these playoffs have been a coming out party for one Stephen Curry. It started in MSG against the Knicks when he dropped 52, and only continued against Denver. He put up 25.2 points a game against the Nuggest in six games while shooting a ridiculous 45% from the three-point line. Don't bother fouling him either- he's perfect this post season at 20-20.In Game 4, he scored 22 points alone in the third quarter on a bum ankle and propelled them to victory.

This underdog Warriors team beat a Nuggets team favored to reach the Western Conference Finals. The Nuggets made too many mistakes and while I give credit to Golden State, the blame lies solely on how badly the Nuggets gave games away- even when the Warriors were trying just as hard to give them back.

I view Golden State as Knicks West. They both rely on hot shooting to keep themselves in games, and when their shots aren't hitting, they become a shell of their former selves. They lose inspiration on defense as well. The difference? The Warriors are deeper.

Harrison Barnes struggled at times in the regular season, but against Denver he was nothing short of sensational, avergaing 16 points and 6 rebounds a game while shooting 85% from the line and 37% from deep. Klay Thompson in his second year has been great statistically, but has yet to take over any games for them when Curry is off. If they want a chance to win this series, Thompson will need to play a bigger role for them. Jarret Jack also is a very capable scorer. Rookie Draymond Green and veteran forward Carl Landry don't get as much love, but play vital roles off the bench and can anchor the team with their hustle and size.

While the Spurs boast a solid overall team, they still lack rebounding and are 21st in the league. The Warriors led by Andrew Bogut are 3rd in the league at 45 a game. Bogut's most recent 14 point, 21 rebound effort was huge in their win as the team had ten 4th quarter turnovers, almost giving the game away at home. Bogut has struggled with a myriad of injuries in his time in the NBA, but so far from what I have seen this season, he is chomping at the bit for postseason success.

A sidenote: Oracle Arena is a devastating home crowd. This year's playoff atmosphere is almost identical to the frenzy of fans back in 2007 when the Warriors handled the heavily favored Dallas Mavericks. There's just something about Oakland.

Based on previous seasons, the Spurs are a smart team that break down against younger, talented teams (see: 2012 Spurs vs. Thunder) and this Golden State team plays above their 6th seed ranking. I'm going out on a limb  here.

Final Verdict: Golden State wins, 4-3.

The games begin at 7 pm tonight with Miami hosting Chicago. The Warriors visit San Antonio at 9:30 pm. Enjoy the rest of the second round and keep  coming back to BSN for your NBA fix.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Contact me on Twitter @SeanNeutron

As the Basketball Turns: 2013 NBA Playoffs Second Round Preview, Part 1

Well, so much for my "Win or Go Home Weekend" article. We headed into Friday with four game sixes and the opportunity for more weekend drama than a Hamptons getaway with the Lohans, Amanda Bynes and the Kardashians all rolled into one. We left with one game seven on Saturday between the Bulls and Nets and more of a "ho hum" feel. Life goes on, on to the second round we go Sunday.

(5) Memphis Grizzlies vs. (1) Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City

For OKC fans, there's BRWGH and ARWGH. No, they aren't sounds they make when using mouthwash. It's "Before Russell Westbrook Got Hurt" and "After Russell Westbrook Got Hurt." Let's have a look, shall we?

Two games with Westbrook (averages):

112.5 ppg, 24 apg, 48% FG, 36% 3PFG, 40.5 rpg, 12.5 turnovers

Four games without Westbrook (averages):

102.5 ppg, 18.3 apg, 44% FG, 36.9 3PFG, 42.3 rpg, 12.3 turnovers

What do those numbers tell us exactly? Without Westbrook, the third highest scoring offense in the regular season will need to get more people involved and shoot at a better clip if they want to even have a chance against a fierce Grizzlies team.

Before the Houston series and season-ending injury to Russell Westbrook, the Thunder were clear favorites to come out the other side of the Western Conference playoffs and face the Miami Heat in the Finals. Now after six games against a young, hungry Houston team took them farther than anyone expected, Kevin Durant and his posse are up against the Memphis Grizzlies. A number of question marks follow the Thunder, but there is only one that decides the series: How much does Durant have in him? And no, I don't mean Gatorade.

In three games against Houston, Durant had games of 36, 38 and 41 points. Those were all without Russell Westbrook. They went 1-2 as well. In the other three games they won, Durant scored 24, 29 and 27.

Ok, Sean- what's your point?

My point is that Durant doesn't need to score all the time for the Thunder to advance. The reason they won so handily on Friday was because their offense was a bit less predictable. They weathered Houston's early storm and their 14 three-pointers. After being absolutely dreadful on defense over the course of the series, they locked down the win in the fourth as Houston shot 6-18. It also helped Kevin Martin had 25 points and not 3, shooting 7-13 and not 1-10. Six players scored in double digits. As long as they stop the "Let's watch Kevin do Durantula things" offense and work the rock around, the Thunder can keep the series close.


The Grizzlies are predicated on defense, and it shows. They were first in points allowed per game during the season with 89.3. In the first round they slowed down "Lob City" to only 94.6 points per game over six games. After dropping the first two in LA, the Grizz won four straight. In those four games they held the Clippers to only 90.8 points per game and won by an average of 14 points- it wasn't even close. Lionel Hollins and crew made the right adjustments, and once they got in their groove, the train from Memphis steamrolled the Clippers.

Team A, Players 1 and 2: Round 1
13.8 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game

Team B, Players 1 and 2: Round 1
40 points per game, 15.4 rebounds per game.

The first is Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka. The second is Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. This series will be decided on the inside, and the Grizzlies have the complete advantage over the Thunder in that department.

Point guard Mike Conley has finally grown into the player we all wished he would after being drafted in 2007. He averaged 18.9 points and 9 assists per game against the Clippers and will give Reggie Jackson fits. Don't expect it to get better when he steps off the floor, either. Back-up Jerryd Bayless (the fourth point guard drafted in 2008 after Rose, Westbrook and..DJ Augustin?!) will run circles around Derek Fisher.

Team A: 29% 3PFG
Team B: 27% 3PFG

The first team is OKC from the first round, and the second is Memphis from the first round. One would think Oklahoma City would have a decided advantage in this area, but Martin and Sefalosha have been very inconsistent. When it all falls on Durant to drain three's, he can become far less accurate. The only shooter than can rely on game in and game out after Durant is Fisher.

Memphis on the other hand doesn't even have anything close to a consistent and deadly shooter. Conley is their best option, as Tony Allen and Teyshaun Prince are used mainly for their length on defense.

Memphis' defense is the answer to any high-powered offense, even one with Russell Westbrook. Now that he's out, it only makes the road tougher for OKC. Durant cannot do it all, and I do not expect them to be able to be consistent enough on offense to offset the Grizzlie's smothering defense.

Final Verdict: Memphis wins 4-2.

(3) Indiana Pacers vs. (2) New York Knicks

New York

For all the talk about the talk about the Knicks being an offensive force, all I can think after their Boston series is how they are an offensive force...in the bad sense. While no one saw the series as a track meet with explosive scoring, the fact that the Knicks couldn't score more than 90 points in six games against a 7 seed is pretty telling.

What else was telling? Wearing all black heading into a game 5 blowout loss to Boston, then when faced with questions about their pre-game attire, the team chose to avoid answering them. Also, almost blowing a 26 point lead in game 6 did not do them any favors, either.

Their focal points are Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. While talented scorers, they are both incredibly streaky. Yes, Carmelo is one of the best scorers in the league (and he finally improved his defense this season) creating shots from pretty much anywhere, but he lacks efficiency. Anthony was nothing short of lousy against the Celtics, shooting 37% and a measly 18% from deep. Smith shot 39% and a respectable 40% from beyond the arc.

The biggest difference between Anthony and players like LeBron and Durant is that he does not elevate his team's play. He can get hot and take over games, but seems allergic to assists, averaging 2.1 on the season and 1.8 against Boston. Thank God they have Jason Kidd, whose almost 60.

A saving grace for this Knicks team? They have the league's seventh best defense in large part to Anthony's improvement, Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby, Iman Shumpert and Jason Kidd.

Regardless of their solid defense, though, streaky shooting and a lack of involving others (30th in assists on the season) will not beat a smart and savvy Pacers team.


The Pacers are led by the NBA's Most Improved Player, Paul George. He has been nothing short of phenomenal this season and into the postseason. He started it off with a bang, getting a triple double (23, 12, 11) in Game 1 versus the Hawks. His play remained consistent up until their Game 6 win on Friday. He struggled from the field, going 2-10 and 0-5 from deep, ending up with only 4 points. Every star is due for a bad game, so it's possible he got it out of the way- which is bad news for the Knicks.

The silver lining to his poor game is that they still won, 81-73. Even when he was shooting poorly, George still managed to be involved with 7 rebounds and 7 assists. David West, Roy Hibbert and George Hill combined for 59 points to bail their star out. Lance Stephenson showed up, too with 8 points and 11 rebounds.

Indiana's other two strong points are their rebounding and defense. They are first in the league with 46 rebounds per game, thanks to Roy Hibbert and David West. They are second in the league in points allowed with 90.7 per game. If the Knicks shoot poorly against the Pacers, the boys from Indiana will make them pay dearly- and it could get ugly.

While Indiana only scores 94.7 points a game, they have the ability to make the Knicks play their style of basketball, and not the other way around. Anthony and Smith have been known to check out mentally when their shots aren't falling, and they lack  a bench or scoring support to help offset that.

Final Verdict: Indiana wins 4-2.

The second round starts off Sunday on ABC with the Thunder hosting the Grizzlies at 1 pm, followed by the Pacers visiting New York at 3:30. Enjoy the games and check back on Monday afternoon for Part 2 of my second round preview of the 2013 NBA Playoffs.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Contact me on Twitter @SeanNeutron.