Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dwayne Wade and more

21-5-7-31-31-3 ... the number of games missed by Dwayne Wade in each of his six NBA seasons. The verdict? When Wade is healthy, he's one of the game's best and capable of leading his team to a championship (2006). Problem is, he's injured again -- this time after he turned in his most productive season, one in which he also set career-highs in games (79) and minutes played (3,048). And after the Hawks evened the first-round series against Wade's Heat on Monday night, does Wade have enough to get Miami two wins in the final three games of the series (two on the road)? Not likely. And more important, will Wade's career ultimately be defined by the games he missed more than the ones he played.

Given that Chris Paul is under contract with the Hornets for at least three more years (player option for 2013), it's probably time for New Orleans to replace Byron Scott with a coach to take the Hornets to the next level. Scott is about to finish his fifth season with the team (if the Nuggets close out the series in Game 5) and it's win totals of 18-38-39-56-49, includes last year's trip to the playoffs that ended in a trip to the Western semifinals. However, despite this season's step backward that was primarily the result of injuries to Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic, it seems the Hornets are in need of a new voice from the bench. And when evaluating coaching candidates, they better find one that connects with Paul.

Anyone else think Jerry Sloan's tirade and subsequent ejection in the closing minutes of Utah's series-ending loss to the Lakers on Tuesday had more to do with his disgust for his team's lack of effort for five games than his disagreement with a handful of calls down the stretch?

The Lakers are heavy favorites to get out of the West, but I'm not sure they're favorites anymore to defeat the Cavs. LA has five weeks and two more series to get sharper, but their lapses, especially at the defensive end, after racing out to big leads are a concern. The Lakers can be so dynamic on offense, but Cleveland right now is at the top of its game: No. 1 in FG defense, No. 1 in 3-point FG defense. The Cavs were efficient offensively throughout the regular season, but their title hopes hinge on getting enough offense to outscore the Lakers.

Hard to believe, but the Rockets have become much more likable. Yes, even with Ron Artest. Without Tracy McGrady, Houston has a new identity: lunch pails and hard hats. Artest, Yao Ming, Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes, etc.

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