From the Booth

Mike and Ian break down the Nets’ sizable loss at the hands of the Magic.

Fratello’s Fantasy Picks: Earl Boykins and Keyon Dooling

Last year rookie sensation Brandon Jennings helped spark the Bucks to their most successful regular-season campaign since 2000-01.

Everyone expected Milwaukee to continue to rise up the ranks and emerge as one of the better teams in East this year. But the vast improvement of conference rivals New York and Chicago coupled with the recent loss of their starting point guard to a broken foot are making post-season contention a serious challenge.

In Jennings’ absence, veteran guards Keyon Dooling and Earl Boykins are stepping up to help Milwaukee stay in the playoff picture until Jennings returns to health.

Both players have been in the league for over a decade and have played for a number of teams, contributing successfully when called upon.

Combo guard Dooling started the past three games and averaged over 11 points and 5 assists last week, while Boykins contributed 22 points and 19 points off the bench to the Bucks’ big road wins over the Lakers and the Kings.

A team-oriented type of guy, Dooling has the ability to make 3-point shots, and he has been a hardnosed defender throughout his career.

Although he is the shortest player in the NBA, Boykins is extremely strong and keeps himself in great condition. He has always been a scorer, and when Boykins gets on a roll he’s dangerous.

The Bucks play three games this week beginning with tonight’s home game against the Hawks. Both Keyon Dooling and Earl Boykins are available in most leagues and will be playing starter minutes so take your pick.

Czar Asks You

Which tie should I wear for Thursday’s Spurs at Mavericks broadcast on TNT?   Cast your vote in this week’s poll.


Around the League: The Five Games of Christmas

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. I was fortunate to have a few days off to spend some time with my family and take in all the Christmas-day action around the league.

The Knicks and Bulls tipped off Saturday’s five-game lineup. There are those who still have their doubts about New York, but they are for real and appear to be getting better and better. The Knicks beat the Bulls at MSG in a highly energized matchup, and they did it with defense for a change. The Knicks got stops when they needed them, rebounds when they needed them, and were able to put up enough points to get the win.

On the heels of a huge trade that raised concerns among skeptics, the Magic beat the Celtics in what may wind up being one of their most important victories this season. A win against the team that is arguably the best in the East should reestablish Orlando as a championship contender and restore self-confidence to the squad, which will be so important during the second half of the season. This win could signal a huge turnaround so don’t be surprised if the Magic wind up going on to an 8-10 game winning streak after ending Boston’s.

The Heat have been trying to prove that they are good enough to contend with top teams, and Saturday’s marquis matchup against the champion Lakers presented a huge opportunity for them to do just that. Though LA has not been playing their best basketball, a contest with LeBron and the Heat seemed sure to get their attention
and snap them out of their funk. However Miami’s defense was stifling, and the Heat secured an impressive road win at the star-studded Staples Center. They shut down the Lakers’ attack and showcased their greatest assets: speed and quickness which produce steals on one end that they are able to convert into easy, fast-break baskets at the other end.

The Nuggets and Thunder continue to jockey for playoff positioning in the fearsome Western Conference. Chris Andersen and Kenyon Martin have returned to Denver’s lineup. But despite getting back two of their big men, they still wound up playing shorthanded as Carmelo Anthony is spending time with his family following the tragic loss of his sister. Denver put up a good fight, but Kevin Durant led the Thunder to their first Christmas Day win with 44 points.

Monta Ellis and his Golden State Warriors put on a show for the home crowd and those watching from home. This young, athletic, guard-oriented squad has ability to explode on a given night and pulled past the Blazers to cap off the NBA action. Portland on other hand and been consistently inconsistent. The belief is that they will wind up putting together a trade in the near future in order to shake up their roster. Both teams hope they will be in contention down the stretch to the grab 7th or 8th spot in
the playoff race, but it will be difficult.

Czar Asks You

This week the New Jersey Nets, who plan to relocate to Brooklyn, New York once their new arena is completed in 2012, played two other teams that relocated in the last decade: the New Orleans Hornets and the Memphis Grizzlies.

George Shinn originally brought the Charlotte Hornets to North Carolina during the 1988–89 NBA season and eventually transplanted the team to New Orleans in 2002-03. The Vancouver Grizzlies, along with the Toronto Raptors, were established in 1995 as part of the NBA’s expansion into Canada, but moved stateside to Memphis in 2001.

During Tuesday’s Ask the Announcers segment, Ian pondered whether a team that leaves a city should leave its nickname behind too? This triggered a heated debate among our YES crew. Nets radio color analyst Tim Capstraw suggested that the Hornets should become the Jazz (the Utah Jazz were originally located in the Crescent City); the Jazz should become Grizzlies (because they have bears in Utah); and the Grizzlies should become the Memphis Blues.

What do you think? Should an NBA team change its name when it changes cities?