About Author

About

Colm is a journalist and hoops junkie. He played in high school for the Archbishop O’Leary (Edmonton, Alberta) Spartans. Since then, he has graced the rosters of noted men’s league teams such as the Avenue Pizza Fogduckers and the Belfast Tropics. He has contributed to a number of publications and websites ranging from The Irish News to The Basketball Jones and currently lives in Belfast, where he works as a sub-editor for the Irish Mirror and contributes to the Daily Mirror’s basketball blog.

The almost halfway through the NBA season review

The NBA’s 66-game sprint is almost, kinda, getting there, to the halfway point of its season. Given that this is unlike any season we’ve seen in a while, let’s take a look at what we’ve learned so far.

Remember the lockout? No? That’s OK, no one else does: The common consensus after the NBA and its players reached a deal on the new collective bargaining agreement was that basketball fans, annoyed after watching millionaires fight billionaires, would stay away for awhile. Ha! In fact, the NBA should consider a lockout every season. Maybe not. But instead of being turned off, hoops fans just got hungrier.

According to ESPN’s Henry Abbott:

  • ABC has had just three games, so it’s hard to say anything conclusive, but the audience is up five percent compared to a year ago.
  • ESPN viewership is up 23 percent.
  • TNT viewership is up 50 percent.
  • NBA TV viewership is up an insane 66 percent.
  • NBA on regional cable sports networks are up 12 percent.
  • Local over-the-airwaves broadcasts are up 36 percent.

Kyrie Irving is probably mad at Ricky Rubio: Look, over the last couple of months I’ve lost enough sleep and watched more Minnesota Timberwolves basketball than I ever thought I would. La Pistola has been a revelation. He’s fun to watch and you’d buy a ticket just to watch him throw bounce passes. That said, Rickymania has overshadowed a pretty great rookie season by Kyrie Irving. He’s scoring 18.1 points a game. His player efficiency rating (an advanced metric that basically compares the good things a player does on a court to the bad stuff) stands at 22.13 (fifth among NBA point guards) and his usage rate (the percentage of team plays used by player while he was on the floor) is 27.4, fourth among NBA point guards.

More importantly, he has brought a flicker of life to a moribund Cavaliers team just a year after “The Decision”. And at 9-13 the Cavs are half a game out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Not bad.
Lebron’s still the best player in the league, whether you like it or not: Yeah, we know all the fourth quarter jokes. And yeah, how could a guy in his twenties leave Cleveland for Miami? What gall. But any way you look at it, he’s having a hell of a season. He’s averaging almost 30 points a game, and adding 8.5 rebounds and 7 assists to boot. His advances stats look even better. He leads the league in PER (32.99) and second in usage rate (31.99). I get that until he wins “the big one” people are going to hate. But I can’t help but think there missing out.
And as great as things have been, it’s only going to get better: How’s the rest of the season going to pan out? You can never answer these things definitively, but here’s a couple of predictions.
  • Assuming Dwight Howard doesn’t get traded to the Lakers, the Western Conference is Oklahoma City’s to lose. The Clippers? Yeah, they could give them a run, but bear in mind their schedule gets cray cray in the next couple of months, including 20 games in March. Let’s see how they get  through that stretch. 
  • About Dwight. I don’t think Otis Smith will trade him at the deadline, but if he does, I have a hunch it will be to the Nets. Just a hunch.
  • The Eastern Conference is going to come down to the Bulls and Heat again. And I see things turning out the same way.
  • At the start of the year, I picked the Heat to beat OKC in the finals. I think I’ll stick with it.

I know it’s not your fault Ricky…

Lord knows being a basketball fan in Ireland can be tough at times. Games start in the middle of the night and co-workers and friends look at you with a mixture of bemusement and bewilderment (“Oh yeah, basketball, Michael Jordan…”) whenever you bring the subject up.

But the worst thing is the disconnect from the basketball world. No one at the water cooler is talking about the latest drama surrounding the or Kobe taking 96 shots the night before. Unless you’ve got a trip to Canada or the States planned, you’re pretty much at the mercy of the internet and that Nike outlet in Antrim if you want to do any shopping for kicks or whatnot.

So that brings me to Ricky Rubio. Like most NBA fans, I’ve been taken in by his game, passing skills and marvelous hair. With this in mind, I’d thought I’d head to NBA.com and buy me a Wolves 9 Rubio jersey T-shirt, cause I’m fresh like that. The shirt cost $24.99 and I figured shipping would be around the $10-15 range, especially when I got an ad telling that shipping more most items started at $12. All in all, a fair deal. So imagine my surprise when this popped up…

 

I did not proceed to checkout

 

Yep. $63 for one T-shirt. Isn’t this mental? What’s an international handling fee? Have you had any similar experiences? And if you’re heading Stateside anytime soon…

Hoops on TV this week

NBA (all on ESPN unless otherwise noted)

In honour of the launch of The Courtside Collective Martin Luther King Jnr Day, the NBA is staging 11 games on Monday. More importantly, two of them tip-off before midnight Irish time. Even more importantly, one of them is a rare Clipper game that doesn’t start at 3.30am.

Monday 

6pm: Chicago Bulls v Memphis Grizzlies
8:30pm: New Jersey Nets v Los Angeles Clippers
1am:  Oklahoma City Thunder v Boston Celtics
3.30am: Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers

Tuesday 

6am: NBA Action

Wednesday 

9.30pm: NBA Tonight (ESPN America)

Thursday

4:45pm: NBA Action
5:15pm (As Live): Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Clippers

NCAA (all games on ESPN America)
Note: All these games seem to be repeated ad nauseum, so chances are there’s probably one on as you read this.

Monday (technically Tuesday, but for our intents and purposes games played in the wee hours will be classified under the previous night)

12am: Syracuse v Cincinnati
2am Texas A&M v Kansas

Tuesday

3.30pm (As Live): North Carolina A&T v Coppin State
8pm: College Basketball Live
12am: Michigan v Purdue
2am: Kentucky v Georgia

Wednesday

12am: Villanova at Louisville
2am: Duke at Maryland

Thursday

12am: North Carolina State v North Carolina

Friday

12am: Iona at Fairfield
2am: Boston University at Stony Brook