Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

April 8, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (12:06 PM)

Good morning from Portland, where I'm rather shocked to look out the window and see blue sky staring back at me. Blazers-Lakers tonight, Hoop Summit tomorrow. Should be a good weekend.

Phil (Nashville)

John, Did the Celtics miss Perkins inside last night? When Garnett wasn't on the floor they seemed to have no answer for Boozer and Rose at the rim.

John Hollinger
  (12:08 PM)

The whole Perkins thing is getting a little ridiculous. Not sure if anyone remembers this, but Perkins hardly played this year before the trade. So it's a bit rich to blame the Celtics' recent problems on his absence. Boston has two issues right now -- 1) they can't score, and 2) the bench is killing them. Getting healthy may fix the latter. Not sure what they can do about the former.

David (OKC)

If you are the Nuggets, who would rather play the Mavs in the first round, do you hold out players tonight in OKC, hoping they capture the 3 seed, or do you play all out hoping to build some confidence for a potential first round match-up?

John Hollinger
  (12:09 PM)

I felt from the get-go that the Nuggets should tank this one if they lost the first one, especially now that Portland and New Orleans have virtually no shot at both catching them and pushing them to 7th, which is the only way that the tanking ruse could end badly.

JD (NY)

Does Kris Humphries project out as a starter in the league that won't kill you? Or is this just a case of your typical contract year phenomenon?

John Hollinger
  (12:10 PM)

Yes to both. But power forward is the league's deepest position so if I'm New Jersey there's no need to go crazy with dollars.

Mario (Austin)

Why was Jeff Green playing the 4 so much last night when it was so obvious he couldn't defend Boozer?

John Hollinger
  (12:11 PM)

Still have the game on DVR; only half-watched with a friend last night. But Green played a ton of 4 in the Atlanta game and had similar problems. The answer, of course, is that the Celtics don't have many healthy bigs right now so they need to use Green in the frontcourt, even though they originally intended to use him almost exclusively as a wing.

Stevie (PDX)

Yes but stat guys like you seem to forget that theres this whole other thing in bbal called chemistry! and guess what chief, it MATTERS. Doesn;t look the the C's have it since the trade big guy.

John Hollinger
  (12:12 PM)

Again, Perkins wasn't playing. So whatever difference in chemistry exists between today and the beginning of the year, when he wasn't playing any more minutes for the Celtics than he is now, can't be explained by the trade.

Chris (USA)

Why doesn't Love get any, ahem, Love for MVP? He's 4th in PER!

John Hollinger
  (12:13 PM)

Because of his team, obviously, but also because he's a lousy defensive player, so his PER does overstate his value.

Brandon (Provo)

Will Derrick Favors be a star or just a solid defensive role player in the future?

John Hollinger
  (12:14 PM)

I think the latter, though he had some nice offensive flashes in the first half last night. To me the real benefit of Favors in Utah is the prospect of his being All-Defense and allowing Jefferson to make the All-Star team for his offense.

Marian (Berlin)

Has D. Howard really a chance to become the MVP?

John Hollinger
  (12:15 PM)

None. Rose is going to win MVP, as much as people like me might think it's the wrong choice. The real impact of the debate we've had this year, if any, is going to come several years down the road as more empirical ways of looking at award votes sink in.

Adnan (Chicago)

Should Howard's suspensions have any impact on his MVP chances? Seems like he should know better than to be suspended when his team needs him.

John Hollinger
  (12:16 PM)

His team needs him for what, exactly? To earn home-court advantage in a Finals meeting against the Nuggets? They're already locked in to the fourth seed.

Kacper (Olsztyn, Poland)

What do you think about Gortat's chances to get 6th MOY Award? :)

John Hollinger
  (12:17 PM)

Gortat may get a few votes but it's Lamar Odom's award. I would put Thaddeus Young comfortably in second. Then we can start talking about the Gortats, Terrys and Crawfords of the world.

Elias (IL)

Your numbers show that the Bulls can reach the Finals, but if you had to choose, would you take them or Miami/Boston?

John Hollinger
  (12:17 PM)

I haven't totally decided yet. Which I think says to me that the conference finals will be a 50-50 proposition.

Pop (Wine Cellar)

Should I keep my foot on the gas to stay ahead of Chicago or should I let up now that we have No. 1 in the West locked up?

John Hollinger
  (12:18 PM)

Talking to some Spurs people this week, best idea is to keep it up just because the guys need to play and get back in the groove they had early this season.

Robert (Los Angeles)

Who will win the TrueHoop playoff statgeek showdown??????

John Hollinger
  (12:18 PM)

Let's just hope the conference finals aren't my Waterloo again this year. I've been killing in every other round.

Chris Cook (Austin, TX)

Any chance your Hawks get out of the first round versus the Magic?

John Hollinger
  (12:19 PM)

The ankle sprain Jason Collins suffered in the San Antonio game could have a big impact on that answer. If he's healthy I don't think the Hawks will win, but they can make it ugly for Orlando and extend the series to 6 or 7 games. If Collins can't play they'll lose in five.

Jon (Madison)

You have a friend. I find that shocking

John Hollinger
  (12:20 PM)

I think it's a sympathy project.

Bob (Denver)

How do you still not think Rose deserves MVP when Jorda, LeBron James, Phil Jackson all say he deserves it. It's like saying there is no snow at the north pole, when people who have actually all been there and experienced it says there is.

John Hollinger
  (12:22 PM)

Because they're saying it based on the way we've always done it ... that the heartwarming story on the surprise team gets the trophy unless somebody goes Shaq-in-2000 on the league. But this is a silly way to determine "most valuable."

Chris (Texas)

Who do you have above D-Rose in the MVP race? Im curious who the other 5 are.

John Hollinger
  (12:22 PM)

Have him tied for fifth with Kobe. The four I put ahead of him are Howard, LeBron, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade.

colonel appleseed (queens, ny)

Looks like Boston could throw out a lineup with Jeff green at the 3 and Pierce at the 2 and Chicago couldn't really hurt them with it. We're confused if this is Ray Allen's annual slump or an actual decline due to age.

John Hollinger
  (12:24 PM)

I think Boston wants to try some things like that (although Ray will get a ton of burn regardless), but again, they need two healthy centers so they can use Baby as a backup 4 and Green as a wing.

Nick (Dayton)

Why do you like the Hawks? Their PER is no good.

John Hollinger
  (12:25 PM)

Atlanta isn't a good team. They've given up more points than they've scored. But Orlando could not be a more perfect match up for them. They won three of the four meetings in the regular season because the one thing Jason Collins was put on this earth to do is frustrate behemoth centers. He does the same things to Howard he used to do to Shaq.

Jason J (NYC)

How do you respond to the contention that a player like Dwight, whose inability to shoot free throws limits his effectiveness as scoring option late in close games and throws his whole team offense out of whack, has too big a whole in his skill set to be MVP? I'm not sure I buy that argument, but I'd like your take.

John Hollinger
  (12:26 PM)

Two reasons. First, I don't understand why everyone assumes their team is the one with the ball in these situations. When the other team has it, you'd take Dwight over every other player in the league except possibly Tony Allen.

John Hollinger
  (12:28 PM)

Second, I don't think people understand that getting to the line -- almost regardless of how bad a foul shooter somebody is -- is a hugely positive play. Howard shoots 59; that's an expected return of 1.18 points even if he never gets an and-one and none of his misses are ever rebounded. Nobody in the league gets 1.18 points per possessions on anything, with the exception of a couple recent Suns teams on 3-pointers.

John Hollinger
  (12:29 PM)

People focus on the fact that he shoots worse than most other players, and that's true. But he doesn't shoot 0; he shoots 59. This is the same argument I'd get into all the time when Shaq was in his prime. Bad foul shooting doesn't equal a bad outcome unless you're in Andris Biedrins territory.

Gian (Manila)

Is Tiago Splitter a legit NBA big man?

John Hollinger
  (12:29 PM)

Yes, he is. Right now the issue in San Antonio is one of player combinations. They like Blair-Bonner better than Splitter-Blair or Splitter-Bonner.

Blake (Chicago)

I think the issue with Dwight's foul shooting at the end of games has less to do with points per possession, and more to do with the way it changes his game -- he's scared to get fouled and is therefore less aggressive, resulting in him just passing to a team mate and not getting fouled at all.

John Hollinger
  (12:31 PM)

I agree that Howard is less offensively aggressive at the end of games. The funny thing is he's shot really well in clutch situations this year, both on FGs and FTs; he just hasn't shot that often. By the way, Howard leads the NBA in Rebound Rate in late/close, according to 82games.com

Derrick Rose (Cleveland)

Since I'm "only" your fifth most-valuable player, then you must have my coach as run away for COY. Otherwise, where does the credit for eighth seed to first seed go?

John Hollinger
  (12:33 PM)

You forgot about your GM for Exec of the Year. Seven new rotation players (Booz, Brewer, Korver, Asik, Watson, Bogans, Thomas) and a new coach, and all of them made an impact.

BalutPDX (Portland)

Other than the Mavs do you think the Portland would have a better shot against the Thunder or the Spurs?

John Hollinger
  (12:34 PM)

Portland would have a better shot against OKC, although Ibaka historically has defended Aldridge very, very well. I don't care how frail you might think San Anto looks; history says No. 8 seeds don't win.

Benjamin (Concord)

Durant should win MVP for how he has taken a step back to make room for Westbrook's growth while still leading the nba in scoring, he also improved his D and rebounding?

John Hollinger
  (12:35 PM)

"Taking a step back" .. haha. More like his point guard won't give up the rock. I'm real interested to see how the Westbrook-Durant dynamic plays out, let's put it that way.

Curious (Jersey)

Do you keep trick of PER in pickup games? Do you have a better than average rebound rate?

John Hollinger
  (12:36 PM)

I have a better than average shot attempt rate. My rebound rate is terrible.

Rob (Y)

"history says No. 8 seeds don't win." Oof, from a stat-guy like you? Are you implying that if the Spurs were #2 with their exact same team and playing the exact same team, they'd somehow be more likely to lose? I know you aren't, but that's how it comes off.

John Hollinger
  (12:38 PM)

The Cliff notes version of what I'm trying to say is that no matter how vulnerable you think the Spurs might look, they're a 60-win team and likely much, much better than any team that won in the mid-40s. (And Power Rankings support that idea as well).

Peter (Portland)

Going to any nice restaurants while in Portland? Have any favorites?

John Hollinger
  (12:39 PM)

I lived here for six years and am back all the time so yes, I have a few. Beau Thai in NW, Bridgeport brewery, Mother's, Bijou ... I could go on.

Matt (California)

If you think Wade and Bron can work together then why are you "interested to see how the Westbrook-Durant dynamic plays out"? On a Side note Rose is MVP, basketball isn't baseball when it comes to stats.

John Hollinger
  (12:40 PM)

Wade and LeBron don't need the other to get them the ball. Westbrook keeps calling his number and his stats don't support that decision -- he's a dramatically less efficient shooter than KD but is using more possessions.

Christopher (Germany)

Shiq ripped Jason Collins apart in the 2002 Finals. Then he became old and then Collins had a shot of stopping him.

John Hollinger
  (12:41 PM)

Collins was also a rookie in 2002. He's figured out a few tricks since then.

Aaron (Chicago)

If you played out the Eastern Conference playoffs 100 times, how many times do you think Boston, Miami, Chicago, and Orlando would get to the finals?

John Hollinger
  (12:42 PM)

I'll say something like 20-35-40-5

Adsm (Tulsa, OK)

If Dallas and OKC have the same record, based on NBA tiebreaker rules, who gets higher seed? I have heard conflicting reports on this since Dallas won the season series but OKC won their division.

John Hollinger
  (12:43 PM)

OKC gets it as division winner.

Eric (L.A., CA)

Jim, glad to see the love you gave Thad Young. Shouldn't re-signing him be the top priority for the Sixers this offseason?That, and getting a big? Thanks!

John Hollinger
  (12:45 PM)

Re-signing Young is definitely job 1. Then I think they have some decisions to make about what to do with Iggy, whether to qualify Hawes, etc. Obviously they should try to move Brand too but they'll probably fail in that pursuit.

Brian (Memphis 10)

How do you like our chances against San Antonio we are deeper than them in almost every position and we are playing ligts out right now. Go Grizz!!!

John Hollinger
  (12:46 PM)

Basically, if Memphis is good enough to beat San Antonio they won't end up playing them. Griz still play Portland and New Orleans and with wins in both they're likely (though not certain) to land the No. 6 seed.

Truman (South Beach)

What's your prediction for Sunday's showdown between Boston and Miami (3pm ET on ABC)

John Hollinger
  (12:46 PM)

I think the Heat finally beat them. Each of the first three games were close.

Carol (Chicago)

Why is there a random draw for home court if SA and Chi have the same record?Couldn't they think of something better?

John Hollinger
  (12:47 PM)

I am as amazed by this as you are. It's the most important game of the year and we can't at least use point differential or record vs. playoff teams or ... well.. something???????

Nick (Wisconsin)

So wait John what exactly did CP3 do to move ahead of Derrick Rose in your MVP rankings? On Ryen Russil's NBA today last week you had him 6th behind: Dwight, LBJ, Kobe, Dirk and Wade/Durant. Some how CP3 has surpassed him?!?

John Hollinger
  (12:48 PM)

Because Rusillo had me ad libbing ... once I was combing over the info on the top candidates last night (for our ESPN.com awards piece) I realized I was shafting CP.

Matt (Miami)

Thoughts on Orlando vs Chicago second round? I think Orlando might have matchup advantages there.

John Hollinger
  (12:48 PM)

They do, and I think that could allow them to extend the series, but I would be surprised if they actually won it.

Mike (Upland, CA)

Small sample size, but is David West on Ewing Theory watch?

John Hollinger
  (12:49 PM)

Not sure it applies to sidekicks. We need to bring Sports Guy in for a ruling on that once he gets back from this year's Ewing Convention in Denver.

Dennis (Orlando)

CP3 ahead of Rose? You should go on Thorpe's chat and say that so he can bann you.

John Hollinger
  (12:50 PM)

Polar opposite as a player. Low-usage, high efficiency .. but it works. Hornets are nearly as high as Bulls in Offensive Efficiency and he doesn't have as much help.

Zach (Chicago)

People downplay Rose's MVP candidacy b/c they say the Bulls offense is only average. But isn't their offense ppg avg directly affected by their slowed-down defensive pace?

John Hollinger
  (12:51 PM)

No, even adjusting for pace their offense is average. Bulls are tied for 12th in Offensive Efficiency with Golden State.

Junaid (Toronto)

In your Playoff odds you have NO and PDX both finishing with 49-33 but you have PDX ranked 6th and NO 7th...How is this when NO has won the season series 3-1?

John Hollinger
  (12:52 PM)

The Playoff Odds are set up to rank teams by probability of playoffs, and then by fractional wins (even though it rounds to an integer). It doesn't run the tie-breakers. You are correct that New Orleans has the tie-break with Portland, as well as with Memphis and Denver, and also wins any three-way tie between those teams.

Adam (Tulsa, OK)

Why did Karl say he would rather play Dallas than OKC? Do you agree with his assertion?

John Hollinger
  (12:52 PM)

Yes but I never would have said it out loud.

Thunder Stunner (OK Sizzle)

Westbrook is better than Rose. If they swapped teams, who would have more success?

John Hollinger
  (12:54 PM)

He's not, but the difference between the two is negligible. The key is that Rose is the best offensive player on his team, so you want him dominating the ball. Westbrook isn't and does it anyway, so it's a thornier issue. On a different team he could do the same exact thing and I'd have no problem with it at all.

Charles (Memphis)

How much different would the Grizzlies playoff ceiling be if Gay was healthy?

John Hollinger
  (12:55 PM)

I would be *Terrified* of playing Memphis if Gay were healthy. As it is they're a scary match-up and I think they have a great shot of beating Dallas or OKC if they move up to 6. But if they had Gay I think even the Lakers would have been nervous playing them.

Pete (Denver)

If you are OKC would you rather have the 4 seed? Since you would avoid the Lakers until the western conference finals?

John Hollinger
  (12:56 PM)

I think the bigger thing for OKC these days is just winning a round, and to me they have a much better shot of doing that if they avoid the Nuggets.

Greg (Knoxville, TN)

Will the Nuggets perform a bit better when they can sick AAA on Westbrook, or with Westbrook too atheltic?

John Hollinger
  (12:57 PM)

I think Felton can do well enough there, besides Afflalo isn't the quickest guy on the planet and you're going to need him to check KD anyway.

JimmyZ (PHX, AZ)

Does Kobe fear the bear? Grizz can throw Battiers and Tony Allen at him all game

John Hollinger
  (12:59 PM)

The only way the Lakers would lose to the Griz is if Kobe decided to go mano a mano against Tony Allen.

Royce (LA)

John, I'm making my first trip to Portland next month. Can you toss out some more brewery recommendations before you leave us?

John Hollinger
  (1:00 PM)

Deschutes. I'm not sure they've ever made a bad beer. Rogue has a brewhouse in town too.

Sean (Boston)

John, do you ever disagree with what your Power Rankings or Playoff Odds are telling you?

John Hollinger
  (1:01 PM)

Yes, because a lot of times they can't process recent information -- injuries or trades -- quickly enough, and sometimes in playoffs because there's a match-up issue (ie Collins vs. Howard) that the aggregate-level data can't capture.

Garry (Guam)

Of the 4 lower seeds in the West, which team do you think is the scariest? I think its Portland and if they match up with the Mavs, we can see an upset.

John Hollinger
  (1:01 PM)

I don't think Portland is that scary actually. I'd much rather face them than the Nuggets or Grizzlies. But the only easy out will be the Hornets.

SteveFitz (Chicago, IL)

As good as the Bulls have played Miami this year and Boston the last 2 games, would not making the Finals be a disappointment if you were a Bulls fan?

John Hollinger
  (1:02 PM)

Only mildly. It won't take away the regular season or the big-picture euphoria that you have a contender for the next several years. Understand that with three strong contenders in the East, the odds of any single one making the Finals is probably south of 50%.

Jon (SF)

In hindsight is the biggest trade deadline winner surprisingly Portland? Wallace looks like a steal at this point

John Hollinger
  (1:03 PM)

Seen the Nuggets lately?

marcus (chicago)

RE Portland, Aldridge says he's gassed, yet he keeps playing much minutes. What's the point of helping playoff seeding if your most important player is too tired to produce once you get there?

John Hollinger
  (1:04 PM)

I actually think it's worth riding the horses as long as the No. 6 seed is possible, because the probability of advancing from that spot is dramatically higher. With all the off days in the playoffs LaMarcus should be able to rally.

BalutPDX (Portland)

Will you come back to Portland in June for the parade?

John Hollinger
  (1:06 PM)

Rose Festival isn't til July. I believe that's the only parade on the schedule this year.

Greg (Sac, CA)

Do the Knicks and Philly have a preference between BOS and MIA in the first round?

John Hollinger
  (1:07 PM)

I suspect Philly would rather play Boston and the Knicks would rather play Miami. I don't think either will get their wish.

Bulls Fans Everywhere (Chicago)

It's nice Portland has a festival named after the MVP!

John Hollinger
  (1:08 PM)

well played. We have an arena named after him too, as well as a world famous garden.

George Mandis (Portland, OR)

So you're a NW/Downtown guy. Why not come over to SE? I'll buy you coffee at Stumptown!

John Hollinger
  (1:09 PM)

You can get Stumptown lots of places now. No need to schlep across the bridge for it.

Luke (Portland)

Is Derrick Rose the next great NBA player?

John Hollinger
  (1:10 PM)

Uh, he's already a great NBA player. But if you're asking could he be the league's #1 alpha dog, the LeBron-Jordan-Shaq-Duncan type ... yes, he could be ... I don't think he's there yet, but I also still sees a lot of untapped ability with him.

Russell (DC)

25.66 efficiency rating for this chat. You answered many questions with data and wit, and your at over a question per minute. I'm giving you my vote for MIC (most improved chatter).

John Hollinger
  (1:11 PM)

Many thanks. Right now I'm also approaching hungriest chatter, so I need to get some chow before I head to the Lakers' shootaround. Thanks again for all the great questions and we'll do this again either Thursday or Friday next week to preview the playoffs.