Category Archives: Jason

Breakers vs. Crocs: The Difference

I currently have a year’s worth of material to cover before my upcoming exams, but much like the Breakers’ offensive output this season, I would like to establish some semblance of consistency in terms of my recaps. So here I am taking a page out of thetwomangame.com’s “The Difference”. After each Mavericks game, the inimitable Rob Mahoney summarizes the game by the amount of points the game was decided by. Conveniently for me, let me just drop two pieces of wisdom before I shoot off to do ma thang again:

–       Same shit, different week. Again the Breakers looked like they were teetering on the brink of blowing a game that they appeared to be comfortably in control of, and again Cedric Jackson shook off a subpar shooting performance to save the game. His final line: 1-7 from the floor, 3-6 from the line, 7 assists 4 turnovers and just 5 points. However, that one field goal would be the difference in the game, as he drove right into the teeth of the defense and nailed the go ahead bucket with 3 seconds to go. Soon after, Vukona would steal the inbounds and take it the other way for a dunk which sent the crowd into euphoric pandemonium (although the bucket would not officially count as it came after the buzzer sounded). The Breakers’ overall offensive efficiency is still lacking, and at the end of the day the point guard needs to take some responsibility for that. Plus his opposite number got the better end of their duel as Gary Ervin scored 21points on an efficient 16 shots, with 8 of them coming at the end of a frenetic 4th quarter to get the Townsville side back into it. And yet, Cedric Jackson proved once again that he’s a bottom-line guy, as he got the all-important W.

–       I’ve been on the record as being let’s say, a little underwhelmed by what Breakers power forward Mika Vukona brings to the table. I thought the Breakers would be better off exploiting their unique size advantage, and play both Pledger and Wilkinson together more often last year (especially when you consider the fact that thanks to Wilkinson’s shooting ability you wouldn’t necessarily suffer from the usual spacing issues that you might normally face when playing two centers together). Add in my unabashed love for all that Dillonsanity brings to the table, and I was not one of Vukona’s biggest fans. On Friday night however, Vukona was an absolute SAVAGE. 15 points, 15 rebounds (four on the offensive end), 3 assists 3 steals and zero turnovers later, I’m back out on the curb trying to flag down the Vukona bandwagon so I can sneak back on. In a game decided in the paint and requiring both teams to dig in deep defensively and win the energy battle, Vukona set the tone with his aggressive play (all but 4 of his shot attempts were in the paint). Being more statistically inclined, I tend to reject subjective platitudes such as “desire” and “want-to” (usually a lazy euphemism in the NBA to describe the contributions of white players with limited skill and athleticism), but there is something to be said for a team’s attitude, mental toughness, and collective identity. And while such qualities can’t necessarily be quantified, they are very real and very important qualities for any prospective championship contender to possess. For the second week in a row, the Breakers showed me a little something in shaking off a frustrating day at the offensive end, refusing to panic when the game started to slip away, and taking care of business to win the game, style points be damned.

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Breakers vs. 36ers: Adversity

Swag

Downtown Auckland, 6:41 remaining in the game and the Breakers have but a precarious 4 point lead. Following their disappointing performance at the North Shore Events Centre against old foils the Perth Wildcats, the Breakers came out of this one with a spirited effort. They were pressuring the ball on defense, and on offense they were running hard to the rim and making the extra pass.

But despite Cedric Jackson’s apparent dominance in getting to the hoop at will; despite the half dozen Gasol-like dimes from Dillon Boucher; despite lively and energetic performances from bigs Will Hudson and Alex Pledger; despite dominating the game in every aspect but the scoreboard, the home side just couldn’t shake this Adelaide team. Continue reading

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Breakers vs. Wildcats: Complacency

WANTED: Sense Of Urgency. Last seen 24 April 2012

I suppose it’s entirely appropriate that I post my recap of the Breakers’ curtain raiser 5 days late, considering the Breakers’ similarly sluggish and complacent performance coming out of the gate in defense of their second consecutive NBL title.

Sure, the Breakers faced a quality opponent in their finals rematch with the Perth Wildcats, but the performance that they put forth in front of the rabid sold-out crowd of 4500 was nothing short of MEH-TACULAR. So in honour of this week’s performance (or lack thereof), I present to you my top 5 favourite things to do while procrastinating, paired with 5 related/semi-related/not even slightly related take-home points from the game.

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Kristen Stewart gets SLUTSHAMED: in defense of K-Stew

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve always had a bit of a thing for Kristen Stewart (or as I affectionately call her, K-Stew/K-TRILLA/Bella Swizzle), since the moment I became ironically-but-not-really-ironic-at-all immersed in the Twilight movie franchise. Sure she may not have the greatest artistic range, and the “FUCK OFF” vibe she often projects can be a put-off for some. But where others see a sullen, miserable B-I-T-C-H, I see gothic-chic and effortless swag. Indeed, my favourite Kristen Stewart moment ever was her quote to Vanity Fair regarding criticism for “not smiling enough” on the red carpet:

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Youth is wasted on the young – the inexperience of the Oklahoma City Thunder

Following the Oklahoma City Thunder’s consecutive losses in Games 2 and 3 of the NBA Finals, there has predictably been talk in the media about the Thunder’s youth and inexperience. Perhaps just as predictably, there was the backlash from twitter and the blogosphere about the mainstream media’s tired use of old clichés which supposedly have no bearing on reality. That is, the practice of substituting ‘narratives’ in place of objective analysis. One such opinion came from the great Eric Freeman from Ball Don’t Lie, who linked to his piece in The Classical from a week ago on twitter.

Usually I too am bored by the lazy use of narratives to explain NBA phenomena, as well as the selective cherry-picking of information and facts to fit these narratives. In this particular situation however, traditional wisdom has some merit. To win in the NBA, you do need experience, and history backs this up. The average age of Finals teams over the last 20 years is 28.1. When adjusted for playing time, it’s actually a little higher at 28.6. The average age of Finals MVPs since 1981 is 29.5 years old. Put simply, the NBA playoffs are an old man’s game. Meanwhile, this precocious young Thunder team have an average age of 25.8, and their weighted average age is 25.4 (Miami on the other hand have an average age of 28.6, with a weighted average age of 28.5). They are the youngest Finals participant of the last 20 years, and if they go on to win, they would be the youngest Championship team by almost a full year.

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SRS BIZNESS: 2012 NBA Finals Preview

Miami coach Eric Spoelstra has taken a lot of heat (no pun intended) lately for a supposed inability to make adjustments and run real plays in the half court. As with most things in basketball media these days however, this perception is not entirely accurate. Here we’ll break down a few smart plays the Heat coach ran in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals to get going, and see how much of LeBron’s success was due to coaching and how much of it was all LeBron.

Play 1:

This was one of the first post up possessions for LeBron, and it came out of a set play. Bosh has the ball at the elbow, and Battier and Chalmers set staggered screens for LeBron so he can come free to the ball. Here LeBron executes a dribble handoff to Wade and follows the ball to set a screen. On the roll, LeBron seals Ray Allen on the mid post on the switch and backs the much smaller Allen down. He spins baseline and gets an easy jumper to get his half court game going.

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President Obama and the Tragedy of LeBron’s Brilliant Game 6

POTUS and LBJ: more in common than you may think

Barack Obama was elected as President of the United States on the back of a marketing campaign emphasising the idea of “Hope” and “Change”. He was the fresh face who was not yet entrenched in the slimy ways of Washington and its pseudo-corrupt web of lobbyists and big corporate influence. He was the “Great Liberal Hope” who would break the political deadlock, rescue the broken economy, and usher in a more modern, progressive era of American history.

Obama fell short of our expectations, as we were treated to a rather discouraging stasis in US politics. For all his pre-election rhetoric on ending the influence of lobbyists, he appointed several former lobbyists to important positions in his administration. Despite the big deal made of him representing a break from the past two administrations, he appointed Larry Summers as an economic advisor. For all his tough talk on shutting down Gitmo, holding the Wall Street Banks to account, and all the other liberal reforms that were promised, what we were treated to were not Big Victories but Small Compromises. But at the same time, nothing Obama did in his four years in office can really be considered to be the equivalent of turning to the “dark side” either.

Unlike say, LeBron James.

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The San Antonio Spurs: A Basketball Utopia

A basketball utopia

The San Antonio Spurs operate differently to every other NBA team in the league. While many teams talk about having a winning culture, or sacrificing individual goals and accolades for the good of the team, no team lives this mantra as much as the Spurs.

Sure, most championships are won only if the team as a whole can subjugate their individual egos and agendas and make sacrifices for the good of the team. However, this is usually done by veteran players who had already achieved every other individual goal in the years prior. They’d made the All Star teams, All-NBA teams, piled up gaudy statistics, and had probably made close to (or in some cases, upwards of) $100 million in career earnings. By the time they get together, it really wasn’t that big of a stretch to ask those guys to put aside their egos for the good of the team.

The Spurs take this to a whole ‘nother level though, and I don’t think people realise just how much guys like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili gave up from a reputation and career legacy standpoint in order to win.

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Last year, this year and next year: The state of the Dallas Mavericks

“That was our dress rehearsal” – Jason Kidd

Come on now, 6 picks and no one’s taken the defending champs?

“Never underestimate the heart of a champion” – Rudy Tomjanovich

— Me, a month ago

It has now been just over a week since the 2011 NBA Champions were swept unceremoniously out of the first round.

All year, I had been in denial, thinking that when the playoffs came around the veteran Mavericks would ‘flip the switch’ and start playing championship-calibre ball again. How laughable that seems in retrospect, as the Thunder absolutely overwhelmed this squad of old-timers with their athleticism, skill, and most tellingly, their hunger.

I could sit here and talk about chemistry, mental toughness, fight, and all of those intangible qualities that the Mavs lacked this year. They sucked on the road (13-20), they sucked in close games (4-26 when trailing after three quarters and 10-13 in games decided by five points or less), they got off to sluggish starts, and once they fell into a hole they lacked the fight to come back and win (6-22 after trailing in first quarter, including playoffs).

Last year the team was unflappable; they’d gone through so much collective disappointment that nothing phased them. In round one they shrugged off the disastrous Game 4 in Portland where they surrendered a 24 point lead (the biggest collapse in playoff history, at the time). In round two they walked into the defending champs’ house in Game 1 and came back from a 16 point halftime deficit. In round 3 they pulled off a 15 point comeback in just 5 minutes against the same Thunder. And as if one fourth quarter comeback on the road wasn’t enough, they did it again on the biggest stage, coming back from 15 down with 7 minutes left in Game 2 of the NBA finals. Dirk reflected the personality of this team in that series, as injuries, illness, none of it mattered. Every series, they were counted out but their mental toughness kept them in it.

Where did that mental strength come from, and where was it this year? The Mavericks’ 2011 summer transactions tell a large part of the story. Tyson Chandler was the guy everyone credited with being the as being their emotional and spiritual leader last year. This year he was replaced by a guy who came in out of shape and unmotivated last year because they brought in competition at his position.

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The GC, Chris Paul, and the Importance of Finishing Your Kai

HOLY MAYAN GANGBANGS DID I JUST REALLY WATCH THAT?!

Like any respectable pseudo-hipster, I love to ironically consume “low brow” entertainment, for both its intended and unintended entertainment value. These include (but are not limited to) cheesy action movies (“IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU WIN BY AN INCH OR A MILE. WINNING’S WINNING!!!!”), chick flicks, teen soaps (I’m still mad at how severely The OC jumped the shark in seasons 4 and 5), and of course, trashy reality shows. Naturally, when it was announced that there would be a NEW ZEALAND version of Jersey Shore, based on young Maori living on the Gold Coast I was ecstatic.

The backlash was as ferocious as it was predictable. I will get to those criticism later but first, we at Double Technicals would be doing The Internets a disservice if your resident Minister for Ironic Low-browism didn’t weigh in with a breakdown of the first episode of what will likely go down as the most dominant force in NZ television history:

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