Chat with John Hollinger
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, NBA columnist John Hollinger will stop by to share his thoughts on all of the NBA news.
Send your questions now and join Hollinger Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET!
John Hollinger (3:05 PM)
Greetings from Oklahoma City, where my circadian rhythms are finally largely back to normal after that 3 OT classic the other night. And now I'm strapping in for an exciting OKC-Atlanta-Memphis back-to-back-to-back this week.
Steve (Carlsbad, CA)
Are you sure that Gay would make Memphis better? It seems their bigs are stepping up, you can't guarantee that would happen if he was their gunning away.
John Hollinger (3:06 PM)
Look at what they did when a) they were playing Tony Allen, and b) Gay was still healthy. Memphis was crushing people. The reason the "with Gay" numbers aren't strong is because in the beginning of the year Memphis had Xavier Henry starting, Tony Allen getting DNPs and Acie Law as the backup PG, facts that have nothing whatsoever to do with Rudy Gay.
Would you consider Nick Collison to be the greatest player of all time or just the greatest player currently in the NBA?
John Hollinger (3:07 PM)
I think we'll have to let history decide that one. But I'm pretty sure I'm now considered his greatest publicist.
Assuming the Celtics don't pull a miracle and win the series, do you have any predictions on what Doc will decide to do and what will happen with their roster?
John Hollinger (3:09 PM)
I strongly suspect Doc will walk away. As for the rest of the Boston roster, there are some big decisions here because they've preserved a lot of flexibility to go in a different direction if they so choose. My guess, though, is they bring in another big to replace Shaq and try to make another run at it.
John Hollinger (3:10 PM)
Incidentally, current Vegas odds have Shaq as a 3-to-1 favorite to have more time left in his career than my power cord for this laptop. But don't count out the cord, it's gutted out the last couple games on sheer will.
Gregory (Mid South)
Will the Grizzlies verse the Thunder be a staple in the Western Conference playoffs for the foreseeable future?
John Hollinger (3:11 PM)
I really believe so. Obviously OKC isn't going anywhere since all their best players are 21 and 22, but I think Memphis can hang around as an elite team for the next 3-4 years too if they keep Gasol. Getting Gay back will really help them offensively, which is where they struggle right now.
Darsh (Surrey, BC)
Are the Miami Heat favourites to win the championship
John Hollinger (3:12 PM)
Absolutely have to be at this point. No slight to the Bulls, but Miami has played substantially better to this point in the playoffs, and playing Boston before Chicago gives them a blueprint for how to attack a Thibodeau defense.
Anyone who puts "Mid South" as their location is clearly trying to hide the fact that they're from Arkansas.
John Hollinger (3:12 PM)
I'm terribly disappointed you didn't write "North Dallas" on your response.
SammyThunderer (Los Angeles)
Am I crazy to think that the Clips are the team in best position to join the OKC/Grizz in the Western elite for next several years?
John Hollinger (3:13 PM)
Were it not for the fact that they're the Clippers I might agree with you. Great two-man nucleus with Griffin-Gordon obviously, but still not a lot to surround it (I'm far from sold on Jordan), and they have Vinny and Sterling to help drag them down.
Gar Forman (Chicago)
Did I really share Executive of the Year with Riley because of sour grapes, or maybe because our team actually improved the most this year (per stats like win-loss record)?
John Hollinger (3:15 PM)
I think you have to remember that A) Wade was already with the team, B) The Miller and Anthony contracts were terrible, and C) Forman also hired a new coach, in addition to signing players, and couldn't have hit that one any further out of the park. A tie vote actually seems pretty reasonable to me.
Matt (Whittier, Ca)
How is Kobe dodging all criticism after getting swept 4-0? Imagine if Lebron was swept out of the playoffs the way the Lakers were.
John Hollinger (3:16 PM)
Same applies to reaction to Spurs losing vs. reaction to if it had been Mavs. Rings insulate you from criticism, even if you achieve the exact same result.
John, What in the name of "Jeff Teague" is going on? ...as you pointed out before the Bulls/Hawks series, this guy couldn't buy a "floater". As a Bulls fan this is extremely frusterating
John Hollinger (3:19 PM)
The only sign that Teague could do this was the Portland game, when the Hawks started him out of the blue and he outscored Andre Miller 24-0. Two games later he was back on the bench; in retrospect, obviously, Drew was way too impatient with him, but Teague didn't exactly shine in his few opportunities. As hard as this seems to swallow, it may just be a case of his development into a capable player happening to be extremely well-timed.
Is the Rose Brewer Deng Gibson Asik combo run out at the end of game 5 the best defensive 5 that any team in the league could run out?
John Hollinger (3:21 PM)
I think you'd have a hard time trumping it; Boston with its four starters and Big Baby might come close though, and there's another one you probably wouldn't think of -- Milwaukee with Dooling, Salmons, Delfino, Mbah a Moute, and Bogut.
Broussard was saying the Thunder should trade Westbrook today...what is going on? He is having an uneven playoffs, but aren't people getting a little too worked up about a guy as young as he is? And why isn't Brooks catching more heat for the Thunder's clunky possessions?
John Hollinger (3:23 PM)
The Westbrook stuff stems from two factors. 1) People aren't watching off the ball and seeing what a hard time Durant has getting open, and 2) People are seeing where Russ is at rather than where he was and where he's going. If you think he makes bad decisions now, you should have seen him two years ago. He's actually made a ton of progress, and he's 22 and still getting better.
John Hollinger (3:24 PM)
As for Brooks, the Thunder all told me that in Game 3 there was stuff that was supposed to be happening on the weak side and just wasn't. And I'll add that when only two players can score, the offense is going to seem predictable. It's why Harden is so important for them.
does the time off hurt or help the mavs in the next round?
John Hollinger (3:25 PM)
I think the correct answer is "both." A team that old certainly craves the rest, but as scorching hot as they were they'd probably like to keep playing too. But the biggest change, regardless, is going to be that the batting practice 3-pointers they got against L.A. won't be as easily created next round.
Jose (San Antonio, Texas)
With as well as Memphis is playing against OKC, should we feel better about our Spurs?
John Hollinger (3:26 PM)
A little better. It's still disappointing to win 60-plus and go down in the first round, but between the injury to Manu and the opponent it's getting easier to see how it might have happened.
"when only two players can score, the offense is going to seem predictable"How about when only one player can score?
John Hollinger (3:27 PM)
And it is. And a lot of the criticism of Westbrook is because ends up having to do much of what Rose does, except in Rose's case nobody is saying "he should get it to Durant!" so nobody criticizes him if he shoots 11-for-30.
Sparks (Madison, WI)
John, why don't the Thunder try running either Harden or Maynor at the 1 down the stretch and allow Westrbrook to move off the ball and play him at the 2.
John Hollinger (3:29 PM)
They do run Harden out there at times, but also remember that Westbrook isn't exactly deadly as a spot-up shooter, so playing him off the ball is an imperfect solution. I do expect to see more Maynor-Westbrook lineups if the Thunder advance, to match up against Dallas's small, fast backcourt combos.
What are the Bulls gonna do with Korver next round when they're forced to put him on LeBron or Wade down the stretch?
John Hollinger (3:30 PM)
When second units are playing it won't matter, but in the fourth quarter I suspect the answer is to have him guard Bibby and put Rose on Wade. Either that or they'll go offense-defense with he and Brewer.
David (St. Louis)
How can you say that Miami is the favorite to win it all, when you said in the OKC-Memphis 5-on-5: "While home-court advantage is less advantageous in the conference finals than in any other round, it still gives better than a two-thirds chance of advancing." Shouldn't that make Chicago the favorite to advance?
John Hollinger (3:31 PM)
Other things being equal, it would. I don't think other things are equal in this series. Boozer is hurting, Rose may or may not be at 100%, and the Heat are playing better than anyone in basketball.
conner peterson (bay)
how much will we remember rondo playing with a tweaked elbow after the celtics lose?
John Hollinger (3:32 PM)
Not as much as we should. That's some brave, brave stuff by him.
Don (Don Land)
Is Atlanta actually not an atrocious team, or are the bulls just suffering from something called "oh boy, now everyone tries as hard as we do", or some combination?
John Hollinger (3:35 PM)
Some combination. The Hawks are better now than they were at any time in the regular season because they're getting solid point guard play, everybody is healthy, and Drew figured out the rotation. And Chicago is definitely seeing its effort matched more regularly. But you also left out injuries -- Booz's turf toe is a really painful, difficult thing to play with, and Rose obviously had his ankle woes.
Your "Miami over Celtics in 5" pre-series prediction is looking mighty good at this point. You had a lot of doubters on that one. Are you preparing to gloat? If you end up nailing it, you really deserve to on that one
John Hollinger (3:36 PM)
Not sure I should be gloating after a 5-3 first round. As Mavs fans have been giddily pointing out, I'm off to an 0-2 start on Dallas-related series. Be nice if I get this one right since not a lot of people were on board with it at the start, but this isn't shaping up as one of my better postseasons for prognostication.
I'll gladly remind Chris you picked LA in 5 as well...
John Hollinger (3:37 PM)
See what I mean?
doc rivers (miami)
should i hide some cash in the locker room for motivation, or at this point is a game 7 out of the question??
John Hollinger (3:38 PM)
Just make sure Tom Thibodeau knows where it's stashed and tell him you'll drive down from Orlando to collect.
Jeff S (Chicago)
When the Celtics won the title a few years ago, didn't Atlanta take them to seven games early in the playoffs? Same thing here... I don't think this hurts Chicago, but makes them stronger and more ready to battle the Heat. Comments?
John Hollinger (3:39 PM)
I think there are more similarities, actually with Boston's second-round series against Cleveland that year. The Celtics barely survived even though on paper they should have dominated; the Atlanta series that year was more a fluke (Boston won all four home games by huge margins but lost three close games in Atlanta). But it does show that individual series don't necessarily carry over.
Mark Cuban (Dallas)
(psst....look at me....I'm not talking....psst...check out my Mavs)
Kevin Gill (Richmond, VA)
Is Westbrook the most criticized 22 year-old with one year of playoff experience to average 26 pts, 7 assists, 6 rebs, and 1.5 steals ever?
John Hollinger (3:41 PM)
I think the only comparable would be Vince Carter in Toronto, and that was because of the Game 7 graduation thing. I think with Westbrook it's because people have this sense of what a point guard is supposed to do and he doesn't fit it. Rose doesn't either, but he doesn't play with another great scorer so he's exempted.
Any more insight as to what was missing on the weak side of Thunder offense?
John Hollinger (3:42 PM)
Besides "somebody who can make a shot?" (For much of the 4th in Game 3 it was Thabo and Perk). No, actually. Probably should have prodded more.
Travis C. (Lake Highlands)
At this point, which Finals match-up is preferred by ABC/ESPN? Mavs-Bulls?
John Hollinger (3:43 PM)
I believe the preferred match-up is Miami against Not Memphis. The doomsday match-up is Atlanta-Memphis.
Jordan (Los Angeles, CA)
The "Gasol heist" of '08 is no longer valid, correct?
John Hollinger (3:44 PM)
Of course it's valid -- they won two championships. It's just less lopsided from the Memphis side than originally suspected.
Jason (Nashville, TN)
As great as he looked in Games 1 and 4, don't the Hawks have to trade Josh Smith to get any better than they are now?
John Hollinger (3:46 PM)
That doesn't necessarily follow to me. What are you getting in return? To me the real opportunity is potentially trading Crawford or Williams for more frontcourt help, because next year you can play Teague-Hinrich together, move Johnson to 3, and use Hinrich as the wing stopper.
John, do you honestly believe that if Rose had Durant he would put up 32 shots? I don't
John Hollinger (3:47 PM)
If he played for OKC, yes, I believe he'd shoot about as much.
Odds the Grizz pull out a win tonight?
John Hollinger (3:48 PM)
Not looking good, and I'll tell you why: fatigue. The Thunder guys are all 22, they looked like they could have plyaed another seven quarters at the end of Game 4. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, not so much. They played 57 and 56 minutes respectively, so this one is a tough turnaround for them. I suspect Hollins is going to ride Arthur/Haddadi/Battier a lot more in this one.
Mark Cuban (Dallas)
ZERO MAVS QUESTIONS FROM YOU.
John Hollinger (3:49 PM)
Did you want me to review their game tonight? Not much to talk about Dallas-wise until we know their next opponent.
Kirk H. (Atlanta)
It sucks not playing and it sucks watching Jeff Teague potentially take miuntes away from me for next season. Too bad I couldn't have stayed in Chicago. I could've helped the Bulls this year.
John Hollinger (3:50 PM)
He's taking minutes from Williams if you follow the math .. Hinrich is awesome as a wing defender but less potent at the point, plus he's better playing off the ball anyway. Moving him to 2 and Johnson to 3 is how the Hawks should play, and Teague's emergence will allow it.
Whats your take on the Dwight Howard situation? Otis Smith has to know that Howard isnt going to be signing there and that Odom, Bynum for Howard and Arenas deal is the best hes ever going to get.
John Hollinger (3:53 PM)
The thing to remember is Howard doesn't have much leverage to get to L.A., so the Lakers need to make him a good offer to get him. A deal like the one above does seem pretty tempting, but only if Howard has a legitimate avenue toward departure. Obviously, the new CBA is going to be a huge factor in what eventually happens with Howard, and I see no reason for Orlando to do anything until they know what the new landscape entails.
Why wasn't Greg Monroe selected to the all NBA Rookie First Team?
John Hollinger (3:56 PM)
Because, I suspect, a lot of coaches "outsource" their votes for this stuff to PR directors and the like. Anyone who thinks Landry Fields or Gary Neal had a better rookie year than Monroe wasn't paying attention, but because Fields was in New York and got a lot of attention and Monroe was in Detroit and got none, it swung a bunch of voters who really should know better. Same goes for Ed Davis by the way -- it's ridiculous that he's not even on second team when he's better than two of the guys on the first team.
Grizz didn't have much rest before game 1 of the series neither, they won anyway...
John Hollinger (3:57 PM)
To me that one wasn't as big a deal. The problem is the excessive minutes that their two bigs played on Monday night/Tuesday morning. Really interested to see how that plays out tonight, especially since Memphis's big advantage in the series thus far has been their energy.
Isnt Crawford a FA this offseason so that means no trade?
John Hollinger (3:59 PM)
Should have been more clear about that -- Crawford would either be a sign-and-trade, a draft day extend-and-trade, or letting him walk and using the midlevel on somebody else. Obviously the guy they'd prefer to move is Marvin, but they already tried that in February and didn't get very far.
Why aren't more people talking about Omer Asik's impact on the game last night? For my money, we were going to get our baskets regardless through Taj/Drose/Deng but nobody made a bigger impact on stopping Atlanta's offense than the Turkish Hammer.
John Hollinger (4:01 PM)
If you want to talk about Asik you've come to the right place. For my money he's the most underrated defensive player in basketball, probably because he looks so incredibly unintimidating. But he's tough, quick, bouncy and has great instincts for help defense. As a rookie, it's impressive how quickly he's picked up everything.
Blazers fan (Portland)
If Sacramento holds on to win against LA in game #82, then Portland plays the Lakers. Knowing what we know now (LA losing 2 vs. New Orleans and 0 vs. Dallas), who wins that series?
John Hollinger (4:03 PM)
One of many interesting subplots to the postseason -- the what-might-have been playoff pairings. Remember when Memphis fans were upset that they didn't try to move up and get Dallas in the first round? How ironic would it be if they get them in the conference finals instead? I've also found myself wondering how Orlando would be faring against Chicago right now, or whether the Nuggets could have romped through the Lakers and Spurs as a 5 seed if L.A. had fell.
How could you leave Tony Allen off the no-stat All Stars? By the way, would be great to see a couple of no-stat All Stars selected as actual All Stars each season!
John Hollinger (4:04 PM)
Tony Allen had good stats this year. And I was going more for the plus-minus kings in today's story.
John Hollinger (4:05 PM)
Folks that's all the time I have but we'll do this again next week, whenever the schedule affords me an opening. My prediction for this series? Games 5 and 6 are 17-point romps by the home team, and Game 7 goes down the wire on Sunday. Also, Chicago and Miami wrap things up in the next 48 hours. Thanks again for all the great questions.