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Thread: Postseason Sleeper Candidates

  1. #1

    Default Postseason Sleeper Candidates

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story...ayoff-runs-nba

    We head into this postseason with five legitimate title contenders -- the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference, and Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers in the West. If any other team reaches the Finals, or even the conference finals, it will be a surprise. So what teams have the best chance of surprising one or more of the elite?

    To get our answer, we turned to two NBA scouts -- guys with years of experience scouting teams around the league. While I would have picked Boston and New York as my prime spoiler candidates, our Eastern scout instead went with Indiana and New York. Out West, our scout agreed with my choices of Memphis and the Clippers as the most likely clubs to knock off a contender.

    Here are the scouts' opinions:

    Eastern Conference


    New York Knicks
    East scout: "They've got a really talented roster. Their record is a head scratcher because I think they have as much talent as Chicago, if not more. Carmelo Anthony has been playing great recently, they've got a 3-point specialist in Steve Novak, and J.R. Smith can either win you a game or lose you a game every time out. If Baron Davis or Mike Bibby can get healthy or play halfway to their old abilities, this is a dangerous team.


    "And the biggest difference in this team the last few weeks is that Mike Woodson is holding them accountable on defense. Tyson Chandler has been huge on defense all season long. I love that guy. He defends, he dives for loose balls, he hustles, he takes charges, he rebounds and he covers up a lot of mistakes.

    "The dynamic between Anthony and Amare Stoudemire is one of the Knicks' biggest problems. I don't think they can play together. Anthony and Stoudemire are very similar in that they've both got sticky fingers. The ball goes to them and they're used to being the focal point; they're used to getting isos. So they spend the next 7-8 seconds sizing up their defender or waiting to see how the defense is playing them.

    "That's not conducive to the other's game. It's a your-turn, my-turn thing, so it's hard to get into the flow. When you've got two guys like that who are healthy and very gifted offensively, you may be able to pull it off -- kind of like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. But when one's not healthy or what he used to be, like Stoudemire is now, it doesn't work.

    "And the problem isn't just on offense. Stoudemire has been at times the worst defender on the whole team, so you lose something when he's out there. And now he's not rebounding as much as he used to.

    "But the Knicks' saving grace could be all their talent and offensive firepower. Whether they play Chicago or Miami, they're going to be the underdog, but I would say they match up better with Chicago. If the Bulls don't win the game in the 80-point range, they could have trouble because it'll be tough for them to score in the 90s. And the Knicks can go on spurts and catch fire offensively.

    "I'm always the guy who says defense and rebounding wins, but with the injury to Rose, to go in and expect John Lucas and C.J. Watson and even Rip Hamilton to get it done consistently...I just don't see it. It's a lot harder for role players to do it consistently in the playoffs. So I could see the Knicks, because of their ability to go on a run on offense and the fact that they're now playing strong defense under Woodson, giving Chicago some real problems."



    Indiana Pacers
    East scout: "I really like Indiana. The addition of David West was huge for them. He hasn't been a star who's put up flashy, gaudy numbers, but he's been consistent and professional for them. Roy Hibbert has improved tremendously. He's now a post presence, a guy you can throw the ball to and he'll score if you don't double team him.

    "The Pacers are tough, they're gritty and they're long. They're not a sexy pick, but I think they can be a tough out. I give them a shot at upsetting Miami or Chicago because as great as those teams are, they're both flawed.

    "Chicago, in particular, has a problem because of the injury to Derrick Rose. The Bulls are one of the best defensive teams I've seen in many years, plus they rebound, but they just can't score. They go through stretches where they'll put up nine points for a whole quarter.

    "I'd still pick the Bulls to win the series, but they definitely wouldn't be on cruise control if they faced the Pacers. Frank Vogel's got a great staff, their starting five is good, they're deep, they can run, they can score in the halfcourt and they can defend.

    "The one thing they don't have is that one guy you can go to late in games, that star -- unless they change the way they've been doing things and staring going to West late. I think West can be that guy, that guy they feed in the fourth quarter and at the end of games. He's a pick-and-pop guy, he's got post moves, he can stretch you out on the floor and he's got a midrange game. If they milk him, then yes, they could pull an upset. But if they don't go to him and try to go to Danny Granger or Hibbert or Tyler Hansbrough or whoever, I don't like their chances as much.

    "Bottom line, I don't think they're as talented as the top two teams, but I wouldn't be completely shocked and surprised if they made some noise and even upset one of them."


    Western Conference


    Los Angeles Clippers
    West scout: "The two teams I like outside of the top three look like they're going to meet in the first round in the 4-5 matchup -- the Clippers and the Grizzlies. That's a seven-game series, and I think I like the Clippers a little bit more because of Chris Paul. He's the best player on the court in that series and he can carry a team. He's the best point guard in the league and just a terrific player.

    "Then, the Clippers' frontline is so big that they can match up with Memphis. DeAndre Jordan can really guard the basket, so in the halfcourt, the rest of the team should be able to defend because they've got a shot blocker behind them.

    "The Clippers' biggest issue is that they can't shoot free throws and that will hurt them late in games because teams will foul them. Their whole frontline can't shoot free throws -- Blake Griffin, Jordan, Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin. That's a really big disadvantage for them because in the playoffs, it becomes a halfcourt, grind-it-out game."



    Memphis Grizzlies
    West scout: "I like the Grizzlies' toughness. They are really a tough team, they play hard and they play very good defense. I like the way they approach the game. Lionel Hollins is a very good coach. His team plays like he played as a player -- with a lot of intensity.

    "Bringing Zach Randolph off the bench has given them a different look, because it's always a good thing when a guy can come off the bench and get points for you like that. But if they're going to get to the second round, I don't think that's how they should play; I think they should start Randolph in the playoffs.

    "There are two reasons why. For one, I don't know how you're going to use him as a utility player for a spark in a seven-game series; the guy has been a starter his whole career. And second, it's always an advantage when you can score in the low post, and that's what Randolph can do as well as anyone in the league. A lot of teams in this league can't really score inside. There's a lot of spacing the floor, drive-and-kick, spread-out-and-shoot-it stuff. But when you've got a guy who can score and get to the free-throw line and who may be the best player in the league on the block, that's a big advantage. And Marc Gasol can play up high and score from the high post so he doesn't get in Randolph's way.

    "All of this said, I can't see them upsetting San Antonio this year. I think San Antonio's going to be tough to beat."

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  3. #2
    STRAIGHT UP pizza guy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Postseason Sleeper Candidates

    Sounds pretty fair.

    I think Danny has a chance to re-make his name around the NBA this post-season. We've seen Danny be an ice-in-the-veins killer late in games this season, and I'm sure he'll have the opportunity to do it on a grander stage over the next few weeks.

    He won't be the new LeBron or Kobe, but I think he can put a stop to a lot of this "they don't have a go-to guy" crap we've been hearing. Sure, the presence of DWest, Roy, PG24, and GH3 make it a little easier for Danny - but isn't the idea to have the best TEAM anyways?

    Uh oh gang... I think I've gone full Kool Aid drinker just now.

    PACERS ALL THE WAY!!
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    The evolution continues neosmndrew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Postseason Sleeper Candidates

    This sounds like a guy who hasn't watched a Pacer game all year and just reads box scores.


    Carmel HS Class of 2011

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    The Doctor's In The House TheDon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Postseason Sleeper Candidates

    Man, knowing that tomorrow we're not playing with Granger and it's more of a whatever game for both teams really despite the fact that either side doesn't like the other. I just am ready for the playoffs to get here, and that can't happen soon enough.

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    Default Re: Postseason Sleeper Candidates

    I really fancy the Grizz to beat the Clippers.

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    thx4tehmRys Danny! daschysta's Avatar
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    Default Re: Postseason Sleeper Candidates

    Granger has actually been a pretty darn good closer for years, he was one of the top clutch/ fourth quarter guys his All-Star/Breakout year too, and has been great at it this year as well. He can get off the mid-ranged jumper consistently over defenses, is dangerous coming off of screens and has a post game as well.

    I think alot of these national media types will be pleasantly suprised by our first option this post-season.

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    Default Re: Postseason Sleeper Candidates

    Quote Originally Posted by IrishPacer View Post
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    I really fancy the Grizz to beat the Clippers.
    Yep.

    You have to stop/slow down CP3, and you're good.

    Blake won't go out and win games for this team, fouls too much etc. Not to mention he's a late game liability with his 40%ish FT shooting.

    The Grizz, much like the Pacers, are truly a "team". Z-Bo can beat you, Mayo can beat you, Gay can beat you, Gasol can beat you. Then they have a solid distributor in Conley, defender in Tony etc...

    I'm with you. Grizz in 6 for me.

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    Born ready? TheDavisBrothers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Postseason Sleeper Candidates

    Quote Originally Posted by IrishPacer View Post
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    I really fancy the Grizz to beat the Clippers.
    Yea, at the beginning of the year they where the trendy pick after last year's playoff run, then Randolph got injuried and they where kinda forgotten about, but now that Randolph is back they are back to being a very dangerous team. If Randolph was healthy all year, I think they could have been fighting the 3rd best record in the NBA with Miami and OKC...

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    Pacers Fan For Life J7F's Avatar
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    Default Re: Postseason Sleeper Candidates

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek2k3 View Post
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    I'm with you. Grizz in 6 for me.
    Same here...

    I did my own early bracket when I was bored over the weekend...

    I've also got them upsetting San An for the second year in a row in 7 games...

    And then I've got them losing in 6 to OKC...
    Nothing in life worth having comes easy.

  16. #10
    thx4tehmRys Danny! daschysta's Avatar
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    Default Re: Postseason Sleeper Candidates

    Yeah I see alot of the Grizz in the Pacers.

    Granger>Gay
    West=ZBo (This year, Zbo isn't 100 percent yet or not performing like it and West has really upped his game in april)
    Hibbert=Gasol
    George> Allen
    Hill=< Conley
    Barbosa Collison>Arenas
    Hansbrough= Jones>Pondexter
    Lou> Haddadi

    That method of comparison is imperfect of course, and i'd say the Grizz are a slightly better defensive team, while we're a slightly more dangerous offensive team.

    But both teams have guys that can realistically give you 20+ any given night (Granger/Hibbert/West/Hill/George and Gasol/Zbo/Gay/Mayo) And others that can easily go 15-20 on any given night (Collison/Hansbrough/Barbosa and Conley/ speights)

    Pacers are a bit longer, but the Grizzlies are a bit quicker/ more pesky on defense. Both teams have a real shot at knocking out a "contending" team that is supposedly soo much better than they are.

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    Member naptownmenace's Avatar
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    Default Re: Postseason Sleeper Candidates

    I don't think he gave Granger enough credit but I will admit that he's right about West. West has proven to be pretty clutch, especially during the last 20 games or so.

    At the very least West should be the 2nd choice if the defense tries to double Danny late in close games.

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  19. #12
    I'm on a MAC! graphic-er's Avatar
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    Default Re: Postseason Sleeper Candidates

    I think Granger's new found post game has totally transformed him offensively. You can tell there are stretches where Danny just can't get by his man or get that separation. What does he do? Post em up, use that strength to get in the paint and pull up for the easy J. Really a different player this year.
    You can't get champagne from a garden hose.

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    George Hill Apologist mattie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Postseason Sleeper Candidates

    I think a lot of analysts miss what those truly great superstars bring to their team. It's not closing out. What they really do, as Bill Simmons just nailed in his last column, is they score points when your offense just sputters and dies.

    That's what Kobe brings to the Lakers for instance. On the other hand, Kobe has for years caused the Lakers to underperform in late game situations, but fortunately for them, normally the Lakers were usually already up late in the game because of Kobe's play earlier in the game.

    We got a guy that can truly hit clutch shots. Granger can and will all day long. He's proven it. And proven in a completely legit way, not in an entirely made up fantasy like Kobe supposed "clutch" play. (ha!)

    This is why I want us to get Deron Williams so bad. As that great facilitator he'd make the rest of the team much better, but he'd bring that one aspect, and thats when the Pacers are falling on their faces at a particular time, Deron can take over and create offense for himself, keeping the Pacers in the game. We desperately need that one aspect to make us a true contender. How we'll get it I don't know, but we shall see.

  21. #14
    NaptownSeth is all feel Naptown_Seth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Postseason Sleeper Candidates

    West has been brilliant in the ALMOST clutch situations, scoring well from 5 minutes to 90 seconds left, but after that we've had several games where they tried to go through him for the winner (like the Houston game in regulation,) and he's missed. It almost seems to be exhaustion by that point after carrying the load for good portion of the minutes just prior to that point.

    West did have that Toronto clutch shot with 9 seconds left though. edit - the more I look the more I realize he was probably the most clutch guy out there...if they can get him the ball.



    OTOH when they try to work with Paul he's just way too careless for clutch moments. Roy is too easy to force out of a play with aggressive doubles, and again you are typically having Paul feed him and you're back to TO issues again.

    Danny seems to have been slightly better than the rest of the group for clutch late scores and that's who I'd still trust. Of course George Hill has come up with some big plays, including the "steal" and layup vs the Warriors.




    As for the insight, well gee, you name 5 teams which leaves 11, then you pick the highest seeds not already named and you ignore the team with the injured star (Orlando) and who's left out? Boston, Atlanta and massively slumping Philly and slightly slumping Dallas and the teams scrambling to make the playoffs in the West.

    I just don't get how a 40 win team this year is a freaking sleeper. Memphis and Indy aren't sleepers, they are strong teams that for some (market) reason people want to continue to ignore...until someone flips it up and uses that ignored status to return them to contender status (which a 40 win team is) and label them sleeper.

    Sheesh.
    Last edited by Naptown_Seth; 04-24-2012 at 04:30 PM.

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