Rosen’s Report

Rosen’s Report: Nuggets At Clippers

Is Denver a legitimate championship contender or merely a flashy second-tier team?  After losing at home to the Clippers and then on the road in Memphis, the Nuggets need a win in L.A. to prove that their season will not yield still another pile of fool’s gold.

Meanwhile, the Clippers are in full sail.  After a slow start, and with Chris Paul finally healthy, they seek to establish themselves as the righteous successors to Dallas.

HOW THE NUGGETS CAN WIN: While there’s no doubt that Danilo Gallinari is a budding star, he must be more consistent.  If his treys are falling, defenders have to honor every ball fake, which will enable Gallinari to plow his way into the paint.  Also, when Gallinari is shooting bull’s-eyes from beyond the arc, the Clippers’ defense will be sufficiently stretched to allow more open spaces and lanes for his teammates to attack the rim.

  • Ty Lawson is back in action and adds quickness and speed to Denver’s already potent offense.  Since CP3 is an habitual head-turner and not an effective man-to-man defender, he resorts to looking for steals.  Accordingly, Lawson must protect the ball and take advantage of Paul’s somewhat risky maneuvers.  Also, Lawson must force Paul to either drive or pull left.  And since Paul’s shooting has dramatically improved season after season, Lawson does not dare to offer any defensive help.
  • Nene has to set sturdier screens than is his wont, hit his mid-range jumpers and overpower DeAndre Jordan in the low post. (more…)

Rosen’s Report: Bulls at Heat

With the ancient Celtics having recently exposed the Magic’s lack of heart — not once but twice! — the Bulls and the Heat are currently the only viable contenders to rule the Eastern Conference.  Sunday’s game in Miami provides a wonderful opportunity for Chicago to chill the Heat’s championship pretensions.

Meanwhile, the home standing Heat have the opportunity to prevent the Bulls from even dreaming that they can compete on equal terms with the holdover conference champs.  Again, in this compacted and bizarre season, every game has an enhanced and disproportional importance.

HOW THE BULLS CAN WIN: Derrick Rose has become the most potent point guard in the NBA.  Although his unselfishness and considerable ball-time result in his being one of the league’s leading assist-makers, Rose is really the Bulls’ go-to scorer.   That’s because his shooting stroke has greatly improved, he’s nearly as strong as a power-forward, and his quickness and speed are otherworldly.  Indeed, where other players are celebrated for the quickness of their first-step, Rose accelerates as he approaches the rim — making his second- and third-steps incredibly unique.  Also, players necessarily lose a half-beat when they resort to some kind of crossover dribble, but Rose’s changes-of-direction likewise amp up his quickness.  And with Dwayne Wade not at 100 percent, none of Miami’s backcourtsmen can contain Rose.


Rosen’s Report: Celtics at Magic

In the aftermath of their annihilation of the Magic on Monday in Boston, the Celtics have a chance to further deflate Orlando’s confidence with a repeat performance.  Another victory might also put to rest the widespread belief that it’s time for Danny Ainge to back up the truck and initiate a long and painful rebuilding process.

On the other side of the equation, it’s commonplace for a team to relax when several of their opponent’s key players are down and out — which was the case on Monday with Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Mickael Pietrus, and even Keyon Dooling and Chris Wilcox unavailable. The Magic couldn’t avoid thinking beforehand that the game would be a cakewalk. Instead, several of Boston’s subs took advantage of their increased daylight by playing with unexpected passion and discipline. As a result, the home-standing Magic have their pride on the line tonight in an early season must-win situation.

HOW THE CELTICS CAN WIN:  Neither Hedo Turkoglu nor Ryan Anderson can come close to containing Paul Pierce.  Because of Boston’s nifty ball movement, Orlando’s defensive rotators were too far away to provide meaningful help when PP was placed in wing isolations.  More of this same tactic is advisable.


Rosen’s Report: Lakers at Heat


Kobe Bryant is aching to show that he, and not LeBron James, is the game’s most dominant player in tonight’s game in Miami (8 ET, TNT). And that he can lead the Lakers to another championship without being somewhat overshadowed by Phil Jackson and the triangle offense.

Meanwhile, LeBron wants to prove that he is indeed capable of excelling in clutch situations in big-time games.  If this does come to pass (and shoot, and defend), then Miami can stake its  claim as overwhelming favorites to win the last game of the season. And with Dwyane Wade unavailable, LBJ will enjoy twice as much ball-time as will Kobe.

HOW THE LAKERS CAN WIN: Matt Barnes provides scrappy, ball-sniping defense against LeBron.  As a change of pace, Metta World Peace can defend LBJ with a belligerent physicality.  Throw in some judicious double-teams, and James just might be a mite discombobulated.

* Pau Gasol’s long-armed defense will trouble Chris Bosh.  When Bosh receives the ball on the right side of  the court, his jumper is significantly more accurate and, from there, he also looks to drive right along the baseline.  This is when and where he should be two-timed.  No such measures need to taken when he sets up on the left side of the court.  Also, Gasol can outreach Bosh’s defense in the low-post.

* Since Joel Anthony is no threat to score, Andrew Bynum can ignore him on the defensive end and devote himself to protecting the rim.  On the downhill end of the court, Bynum is simply too big and strong for even Anthony’s energetic defense to be effective.


Rosen’s Report: Thunder at Celtics


Along with most NBA watchers, the Oklahoma City Thunder are convinced that their sprightly legs and extraordinary team-wide talent will enable them to trump the difficulties of the shortened season and eventually run their way to the championship.  As if the Thunder need any further motivation, beating the Celtics in Boston would provide immediate evidence that elderly tortoises are no match for young hares.

Conversely, the Celtics understand that this is the last go-round for their rapidly aging core of KG, PP and Ray-Ray.  Here is a golden-age opportunity to demonstrate that they’re not quite ready for the glue factory.


Rosen’s Report: Knicks at Grizzlies

The Knicks’ win last night in New York was their first over a team with a winning record. Of course, the unfolding of their schedule is a random thing over which they have no control.  But the point here is that, in order to live up to Mike D’Antoni’s boasting that New York is a championship-caliber squad, the Knicks have to dominate all of the league’s weak sisters.  That’s why an impressive showing in Memphis is critical.

Meanwhile, Memphis is struggling to be merely respectable while Zach Randolph is down and out.  In the interim, the Grizzlies have demonstrated that they play much better at home than on the road —- as evidenced by their playing OKC on nearly even terms on Tuesday.  A win over New York would put Memphis only two games below the even-Steven line and do wonders for team morale.