Sneaker Watch: NBA Finals Game 1

Sneaker Watch: NBA Finals Game 1

words_Nick Engvall

The Lakers showed why they are defending World Champions last night behind 30 points from Kobe Bryant and the new colorway of his signature Nike Zoom Kobe V. Despite the Boston Celtics being a more physical team, it took all of 26 seconds for Ron Artest of the Lakers to give Paul Pierce of the Celtics a reminder of who’s house they were playing in. Artest, the scrappiest player on the Lakers by far, got tied up with Pierce while going for a rebound both players got technical fouls, but more importantly it set the tone for the game, and the Lakers seemed to cruise to a victory. With the game easily out of reach, Kobe Bryant dropped in a three pointer with just a few seconds left to finalize the game 1 win.

Check out the footwear from Thursday’s game below.

Lamar Odom in the Nike Hyperdunk PE.

Ron Artest lays it in wearing Peak sneakers.

Jordan Farmar in the adidas TS Commander shoots over Kevin Garnett in the adidas TS Supernatural Commander.

Rajon Rando lays it in wearing the Nike Hyperfuse.

Rasheed Wallace in an all green Nike Air Force 1 PE.

Rajon Rando in the Nike Hyperfuse and Rasheed Wallace in the Nike Air Force 1 PE.

Kobe giving his best MJ impression in the Nike Zoom Kobe V BS.

Another look at Kobe Bryant’s Nike Zoom Kobe V BS.

From left to right, Ray Allen in the Jordan Icons, Tony Allen in the adidas TS Supernatural Creator PE, Kobe in the Nike Zoom Kobe V BS.

Sneaker Watch: NBA Finals Game 1

NBA: A Game For the Memory Bank

words_Nick Engvall

Just when Suns fans thought they had pulled off the unthinkable, Ron Artest does.

When Kobe Bryant misses a game winning shot you have a chance. That chance was just a split second for the Suns, who saw it slip away as Ron Artest banked in a buzzer beater to put the Lakers within one victory of reaching their second consecutive NBA Finals.

The Phoenix Suns were trailing the Lakers by 18 points at one point last night. Then, after some mind boggling passes from Steve Nash, a missed dunk from Pau Gasol, and two offensive rebounds, the bank opened up for Jason Richardson. Richardson banked in a three point attempt from a few feet behind the stripe to tie the game with just seconds to go.

Under normal circumstances (i.e. playing against any team without Kobe Bryant), then the Suns could feel a bit confident in themselves with a comeback like that. However, Kobe Bryant was there, and ready to work his magic.

Fortunately for the Suns, he couldn’t find it. Unfortunately, Ron Artest was doing what he does best, hustling harder than the next guy. Artest’s offensive rebound and put back bucket was the dead end to Phoenix’s comeback trail.

As the Suns hopes for a 3-2 lead in the series, and a chance at clinching a Finals birth at home in Phoenix in game six vanished into thin air, the Lakers celebrated. Artest had saved the day for the Lakers, who now have the opportunity to close out the series in game six.

For the Los Angeles Lakers, this continues their home winning streak in the NBA Playoffs. Adding another notch gives them their eleventh straight, which if history is any indicator, gives them a good shot at winning the title.

For those that caught the game, at very least it could be called the best game of the Playoffs this year and undoubtedly a reminder that you won’t want to miss game six on Saturday night.

images via yahoo

Sneaker Watch: NBA Finals Game 1

NBA: Orlando Magic Make It A Series

words_Brandon Richard

After their game 4 victory in Boston, several Orlando Magic players insisted that they didn’t want to just win a game for pride – they thought they had a shot at making history. If their performance in game 5 is any indication, they might be capable of doing just that. In a game that has been described as momentum changing, the Magic defeated the Celtics 113-92 to keep their NBA championship hopes alive.

The tone was set by Magic center Dwight Howard, who as we noted yesterday, needed to continue his high level of play for Orlando to stay alive. Howard poured in 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked 5 shots. Guard Jameer Nelson added 24 points of his own, while forward Rashard Lewis, who’s been dealing with flu-like symptoms, contributed 14 points. The biggest factor for the Magic was their first successful night shooting the deep ball in the series, making 13-25 from three point territory.

For the Celtics, the night was a rough one. Particular for their seemingly deep frontcourt. Center Kendrick Perkins was ejected after receiving two technical fouls late in the first half. Forward Glen Davis left the game with a concussion after being on the receiving end of a Dwight Howard elbow late in the third quarter. Rasheed Wallace fouled out with about 5 minutes left to play in the game, and according to head coach Doc Rivers, tweaked his back in the process. In addition to the trouble with their big men, Boston only shot 43% from the field, and the “big three” combination of Pierce, Allen, and Garnett only netted 37 combined points.

Heading into game 6, the status of several Boston players is unclear. It appeared that Perkins may have been suspended for the pivotal game due to reaching the NBA’s technical foul limit, but one of his techs from last night’s game was rescinded earlier today. Glen Davis’ status is still up in the air, though it is believed that he will take the court. Wallace’s back injury isn’t believed to be serious, but his status for game 6 is also unknown. Boston will certainly need as many healthy big bodies as they can suit up to stop a rejuvenated Dwight Howard.

In the history of major American professional sports leagues, there have only been four 3-0 series comebacks. Twice, those comebacks involved a team from Boston. The Red Sox triumph over the rival Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, and of course, the Philadelphia Flyers stunning the Boston Bruins in the NHL playoffs this year. However, no team has ever accomplished the feat in the NBA. That hasn’t stopped the Magic from believing that they can be the team that changes that. “At this point we believe we can win the series,” said Jameer Nelson. “We have to stay humble and keep focused and remember how we won these last two games. I believe they have pressure on them right now, but they have veteran players with Hall of Famers and a great coach.” We’ll see if the Magic can continue their bid to re-write history when they take on the Celtics in Boston on Friday.

images via Yahoo

Sneaker Watch: NBA Finals Game 1

NBA: Dwight and Amar’e Respond

words_Brandon Richard

Dwight Howard and Amar’e Stoudemire may be the two best young big men in the NBA. Between the two are 9 NBA All-Star Games, 8 All-NBA Teams, two NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards, and a Rookie of the Year trophy. One glaring absence from that list is the mention of a NBA championship. While the two youngsters are certainly talented, they have not held the NBA’s ultimate prize. Dwight’s Magic appeared in the NBA Finals last season, but fell short in their bid to overcome Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Stoudemire has been a part of great Phoenix teams that just couldn’t reach that next level, never making it out of the Western Conference Finals. However, with the talent level of these two players, one would have to figure that their best years were in front of them – or were they?

Both Dwight and Amar’e were heading in the right direction coming into the conference finals. Dwight averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds through the first two rounds of the playoffs, both series being swept by his Orlando Magic. Amar’e, looking like the “STAT” of old, helped his Suns cruise through the first two rounds, including a sweep of the long time rival San Antonio Spurs. However, things took a turn for the worst for both players in the Conference Finals. Dwight and the Magic fell behind 3-0 to the Boston Celtics, largely in part to underwhelming performances from Howard. In two of the three games, Dwight was held to 3-10 shooting from the field. He also reeled in just 15 combined rebounds in games 2 and 3. Also having rebounding woes out west was Amar’e Stoudemire. He averaged just 4.5 boards in the first two games of the series, and his failure to play defensive effectively allowed the Lakers to dominate the paint.  His offense also looked stagnant, and fans in Phoenix were left wondering what happened to the Stoudemire of the first two series. Would these two players respond or were they mentally checked out of the playoffs already?

Amar’e answered his critics in Sunday night’s game 3.  After averaging  just 20 points and 4 rebounds in the first two games, Stoudemire erupted for 42 points and 11 rebounds. “I wanted to attack their bigs a little bit and get them into foul trouble,” said Stoudemire. That plan worked to perfection, as he routinely attacked the basket, drawing fouls in the process. The result was 18 free throw attempts Amar’e, with 14 of them finding the bottom of the net. He also had his hand in Phoenix’s zone defensive strategy, which puzzled the Lakers offense for majority of the game.

Last night, Howard had a coming out party of his own. After the NBA’s leading rebounder failed to secure double-digit boards in the previous two games, he cradled 16 on the night, 5 of them being on the offensive side of the ball. Howard also poured in a playoff-high 32 points and added 4 blocked shots to help the Magic avoid a series sweep. After the game, it was revealed that Howard received a phone call from NBA Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon prior to the game. “Me and him had a great talk,” Howard said. “He just inspired me to keep playing.” Critics have urged Dwight to reach out to Olajuwon for help with his post game for years. Could this be the start of a new working relationship?

Needless to say, one game doesn’t get it done. The Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic still find themselves down in their respective series. Phoenix has the opportunity to even things up tonight. Orlando is in must-win mode the rest of the way. For their teams to have continued success, Amar’e and Dwight will need to have more games like their most recent outings.

images via Yahoo

Sneaker Watch: NBA Finals Game 1

NBA: Magic Look For Home Split

words_Brandon Richard

With the Boston Celtics’ series win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Orlando Magic took possession of home court advantage throughout the NBA Playoffs. Orlando was able to maintain that advantage for approximately 48 minutes, as they dropped game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Celtics at home. Tonight, they look to rebound and draw even in their quest to return to the NBA Finals.

The Orlando Magic hadn’t lost a game in more than six weeks. Their practices had become filled with laughter and trick shots. Monday’s practice was different. The Magic were all business. “I can’t speak for everyone, but we may have been feeling ourselves too much,” forward Matt Barnes said. Barnes also added that he thought the loss was a wake-up call for his team, who has swept their previous two opponents.

One of the key elements to Boston’s win on Saturday was their ability to contain Magic center Dwight Howard. Howard,  who has a history of struggling against Boston’s interior defense, encountered an old foe in Celtics center Rasheed Wallace. Wallace is playing his first season with Boston, and was part of the Detroit Pistons teams that knocked Howard’s Magic out of the NBA playoffs in 2007 and 2008. The two found themselves tangled up on several plays, mostly in favor of Wallace. “You can’t allow it to happen again,” said Howard when asked about his game 1 struggles. The Magic will need a big performance out of their Superman if they plan on coming out of game 2 victorious.

Orlando has not lost consecutive home games all season long, a trend they’ll look to continue when they take the floor at Amway Arena tonight. The Celtics, on the other hand, believe they’ve found their winning ways again and have the chance to deliver a knock-out punch. However, Coach Doc Rivers cautioned his team to not be overly excited about Saturday’s victory. He believes his team has handled winning poorly in the past, and wants them to maintain their focus against a game Orlando squad.

You can see the Celtics battle the Magic tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

images via Yahoo