The Detroit Pistons Need A Coach & Lawrence Frank Is The Right Choice

~ The word at the rumor mill is that the Detroit Pistons are very close to naming Lawrence Frank as their next head coach. If this is indeed the case, the Pistons can then close the revolving door that has become their head coaching position. Frank would bring the one thing that has been missing from Detroit since their playoff-team days and that is stability.

Frank is coming off a successful one year stop in Boston as Doc Rivers lead assistant coach. I’ve followed Frank’s progression since his time in New Jersey as Byron Scott’s assistant and eventual successor as head coach when Scott was fired. Frank isn’t a high profile name, that isn’t what has secured him the respect of his coaching peers. What Frank brings to the table is a work ethic that would fit right in with the blue collar mentality of the city of Detroit. He is a defense-first coach who pays very close attention to detail.

 When the Pistons won the 2004 NBA Championship, they were a scrappy team that played as a unit. They worked hard for everything they accomplished on the court. The Pistons were about defense, work ethic, and team chemistry. Joe Dumars has struggled since then as general manager to maintain the formula that helped Detroit be a dominate team in the Eastern Conference.

 The Pistons went from Larry Brown to Flip Sanders and then from Michael Curry to John Kuester in hopes of keeping their team in the winning direction. However the idenity of the team was lost and now that the team is in a rebuilding phase, it strongly needs a coach who can provide stability on the court and in the locker room. Frank can be that guy.

 The New Jersey Nets didn’t win big with Frank as their head coach. His consistent work ethic was well respected by his players and the fans. Frank didn’t inherit the Jason Kidd who led the Nets to back to back Finals appearances under Scott. Kidd was banged up and had one foot out the door by the time Frank took over the job.

 Frank pulled the most he could out of a Nets team that much like the Pistons after their championship season in 04′, struggled to maintain a consistent roster.

 Yes, the Nets did go 0-16 in Frank’s final stretch with the Nets. The Nets by then though were not really any good and were barely watchable on television. Frank was the fall guy for that record and it should actually be viewed as a favor by the team for letting him get away from that mess.

How many coaches would go from being fired from a team that opened a season with 16 straight losses to eventually a lead assistant coach spot on a big time team like the Celtics?  It only goes to show the respect that Frank has gained throughout the league. He deserves another coaching spot to prove himself.

 The Pistons are in need of a coach that help them take the next step back to respectability. They tried the new face route with Curry and then tried to give a chance to Kuester that almost imploded their team. Lawrence Frank is not going to lose the locker room.

 Detroit also will have a revamped roster heading into their next season. They have 5 free agents and it’s safe to assume that 4 of them most likely will be elsewhere. Dumars will have to decide what to do with the 5th free agent, Tayshawn Prince. Rip Hamilton is still a prime canidate to be moved. Hamilton and Prince are the last remaining pieces from that 04′ championship team along with Ben Wallace who is on the backend of his career.

 It’s a great deal of decisions that need to be made and the Pistons have to start with the head coach. They must avoid a repeat of what happened with Kuester. Hiring Lawrence Frank would be a step in the right direction.

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Sunset In Miami: Dallas Wins The NBA Title

 ~ Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd can finally say they have one. Shawn Marion and Peja Stojakovic can finally say it. Jason Terry can finally say it. They can all  now look at each other and say that they now have a NBA championship.The Dallas Mavericks defeat the Miami Heat to become 2010-2011 NBA Champions. Miami now heads home for what will be a very long summer vacation, especially for LeBron James.

 

The Miami Heat went into the 4th quarter of Game 6 down by 9 points to the Dallas Mav’s. If it would have been Dallas down by 9, I really wouldn’t pay much attention to it. I know the chances are pretty good they are going to put themselves right back into a position to win the game. However, it was Miami that needed a 4th quarter comeback. The way this series went, for that to happen wouldn’t have been a smart wager.

 

 

The Role Players Step Up And Then The Superstars Step In

 

Dirk Nowitzi was not spectacular, far from it. He was 1 for 12 shooting the ball in the first half. It was what happened during that stretch which ultimately led to final score of this game. While Dirk was struggling to score, the role players for Dallas were picking him up. JJ Barea found his groove once he was put into the starting lineup and Miami couldn’t keep him out the paint. It was the outstanding shooting performance of Jason Terry though that kept Dallas afloat. Terry saved his biggest performance of the series for the elimination game. 19 big points in the first half, 27 points for the game. It was Terry’s shooting that allowed Dallas to continue running their normal offense. It paid off as Nowitzki came up with big shots in the 4th quarter to help put the game away and secure a championship.

 

Everything Dallas was in this series, Miami wasn’t. The Mav’s hustled harder, they fought harder, and they flat out outplayed the Heat in every important aspect of the game. That’s hard to imagine when two elite players are on one team. It’s harder to imagine when that team has the best 3rd option in the league. It’s exactly what happened though.

 

 

Winners Must Endure Adversity

 

 

This series was basically over after the back to back 4th quarter performances of LeBron James in games 4 and 5. The Miami Heat lost this series because James did not respond to the adversity that was thrown at him. As talented as this team is, they only get this far because of the play of Wade, Bosh, and James. The moment was there for James to grab when the efforts of Wade wasn’t enough.

 

James had moment after moment to establish himself as an elite player that belonged on the biggest stage. He was nowhere near the dominant player the fans have come to expect of him. James was indecisive, passive, and too quick to defer to the next player instead of letting his natural talent take over. It cost him a championship this season. It may also cost him further damage to the global icon status he is trying to build for himself.

 

LeBron James is in his 9th year in the league. That’s hard to imagine because he’s still so young. To be a winner, facing adversity and overcoming it is a must.He took Cleveland to the Finals in 2007 and they were swept by the Spurs. He couldn’t get them back to the Finals, finishing his time there on a losing note that’s best remembered for his final home game in Cleveland against Boston. In that game it looked as if James already had one foot out of the door and ultimately led him to Miami to team with Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh. 12 months worth of mostly public backlash later, James came up short again when it mattered most and when adversity is confronting him.

 

 

What happens to Miami from here on will be a point of conversation for weeks to come. Wade and James are the foundation of the team and as long as that’s the case, Miami will be title contenders. They had chemistry problems this season and that played a big part in their inconsistent play throughout the regular season. Wade and James must find a way to take the next step together as leaders of this team. Bosh has to find a way to get involved in the offense more. The supporting cast must be improved over the summer.

 

Whereas Miami took a step backwards in their pursuit of “multiple championships”, Dallas took full advantage of their time in the spotlight. This team wasn’t built for multiple championships. This was their moment. Kidd, Marion, Terry, and Stojakovic endured years of falling short in the playoffs as stars on their past teams. They embraced their role as supporting cast members while Dirk Nowitzki was the headliner. If there was any doubt left about Nowitzki being a big time superstar, it was erased in the playoffs this year. He led Dallas on comeback after comeback and dazzled everyone with his shooting. His mental toughness showed when he got hurt, sick, and eventually hit a shooting slump at the worst possible time. Dirk not only took on adversity, he embraced the challenge with the heart and determination of a champion.

 

This is a team that went the second half of the season without it’s Caron Butler. Butler was a big loss on offense and defense for the Mav’s. They overcame that to make the playoffs, run through Portland, sweep the defending champion Lakers, and hold off Oklahoma City to reach the Finals.

 

The Dallas Mavericks took their talents to South Beach and now head back to Texas with the trophy. When the moment comes, you have to be prepared for it. You never know when you’ll have that moment again. Dallas confronted the moment and ran with it, Miami was confronted by the moment and ran away from it.

The Heat Is On … LeBron James Is Running Out of Time

 ~ June 9th, 2011 may go down as the most important night in the professional career of LeBron James. If it turns out not to be the most important night, for James it better come very close. One thing is for certain and that’s after his latest no show in the NBA Finals, James is once again at a crossroads.

The Miami Heat and James find themselves in a 2-2 series tie with the Dallas Mavericks after a tough Game 4 loss. Dallas did what they have been doing throughout the playoffs, hang around just enough until the 4th Quarter and then come from behind to steal the win.

The gameplan for the Mav’s has been simple and time tested. The role players step up and the superstar steps in. That superstar being Dirk Nowitzki. That’s pretty much how it goes in the NBA. Now if only someone can tell LeBron James he is a superstar and not a role player, he’d be at least 1 game from a championship instead of 2 games from either a championship or the longest summer of his life.

James has created a lot of this on himself. He went to Miami to win championships and there is nothing wrong with that. It was how he went to Miami that made him public enemy number 1. His performance throughout his career to this point has followed that route. It’s never what James does that puts him in the crossfires of critics, it’s how he does it. His Game 4 performance only fueled the fire of his critics: Read more of this post

Dallas 4 Wins Away From The Elusive Goal, OKC Not Ready For Prime Time

 

~ This series had the potential to go seven games, it only went five. The Oklahoma City Thunder had the potential to make the NBA Finals, they came up three wins short. Congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks for returning to the NBA Finals for the 1st time since 2006. The Mav’s knocked off the Thunder 4 games to 1 to win the series and move on. They now await the winner of the Miami-Chicago series over in the Eastern Conference finals.

For the Thunder, lessons will hopefully be learned from this series. They are a very young team that had their youth exposed in this series thanks to a series of late game mental mistakes in Games 4 and 5.

 OKC blew a 15 point lead with 5 minutes to play in Game 4 and it cost them in overtime. In game 5 they blew a 6 point lead with a little over 4 minutes left to play. They are now headed home for the summer.

What the Thunder are going to have to determine for next season is who exactly is the point guard. This team was repeatedly outplayed in their half-court offensive sets and looked lost at times on what play to run next. This played a big part in their 4th quarter collapses in Games 4 and 5.

 As good and talented as Russell Westbrook is, with the exception of his triple-double performance that helped knock out the Grizzlies, Westbrook was an enigma for this series against the Mav’s. Is he going to be a point guard? Is he a combo-guard?  He’s also still growing up and the Thunder should hope that he will only grow from this series.

 OKC has a solid 1-2 punch with Westbrook and Kevin Durant. The Kendrick Perkins trade didn’t exactly work out the way it was intended. They did though see James Harden take a step forward this season. Many said this team arrived to the big stage a year too early. If that’s the case, and it looked like it was, next season the pressure will definitely be on for this Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team.

 The Mav’s move on and right now it is hard to pick against them winning the championship right now. Dirk Nowitzki is playing at his highest level right now and badly wants and needs a NBA title to put a stamp on his legacy. His Game 4 performance against OKC was historic and his go ahead three pointer with a little over a  minute to go in Game 5 helped put the Thunder away.

 It’s all coming together for a team that looks like a who’s who of flashbacks from post season’s past failures.Long time Phoenix Sun Shawn Marion has never been to the Finals. All his Suns teams did was make the playoffs while he was there.

 Peja Stojakovic is headed to the Finals. Peja was such a huge part of the success for those Sacramento Kings playoff teams.

 Jason Terry was with Nowitzki on that 2006 Finals team that loss to the Miami Heat.

 Jason Kidd gets a chance to add to his legacy as one of the greatest point guards in history. Kidd has emerged as a clutch shooter as well and provided Dallas with something the Thunder did not have on the floor, leadership.

 These are all players who are looking to make up for years worth of playoff shortcomings. They know that this maybe the last chance they’ll get. Thats what makes it all the more special that they are all playing so well right now at the right time. 4 wins away from a championship they have chased for so long as individuals. They have a chance to secure it as a team.

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