Thursday, May 30, 2013

Grizzlies free agent targets

I got into this a bit in my recap of the Spurs series. I wanted to go more in depth with what we should do this offseason. Here's a list of free agents for the next two years: http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/8589693/nba-free-agents-2013-2014

Austin Daye and Jon Leuer are restricted free agents. They didn't play much. So I wouldn't think they would get a lot of interest from teams. But given a reasonable matching price, I wouldn't mind bringing them back. They are tall and can shoot decently. There can be value in that. Our unrestricted free agents are Tony Allen, Jerryd Bayless and Keyon Dooling. Bayless has a player option and only has 2 years at $3 million left on his deal. So regardless of his production he isn't killing the team's cap situation. He can come or go, just like his streaky shooting. I don't see a reason to play Dooling ahead of Tony Wroten, who we've invested more in. I love Tony Allen and even with his age I'd be up for giving him a significant amount of money for no more than 3 years.

So our free agent situation shouldn't be too complicated. I'm not sure how much Tony is going to want or for how long. But unless it's ridiculous I don't think it will be a problem getting a deal done. Even if we don't sign Tony I think we could play Quincy Pondexter at SG. That would give us a starting 5 of Conley, Pondexter, Prince, ZBo, and Gasol. I think that's pretty solid, though maybe not quite as good as this season. So there's not a ton of moves we absolutely have to make. We either need to try and upgrade the starting positions of SG and/or SF or just try and add some depth. I could get into some trade scenarios, such as this one that would be awesome. But there's no way of knowing whether the front office wants to do anything like that. So I'll just focus on who I think we could be able to sign to help the team.

Most of these guys I'm going to suggest are SFs because I think Tony Allen will be back. But even if he isn't I think we could just sign these guys, move Pondexter to SG, and have Prince come off the bench. Here goes, in alphabetical order by the team they were on last year. Kyle Korver is an unrestricted free agent. He's 32 and is a career 41% 3 point shooter. He can probably play either SG or SF and while he may not be a great defender, he will add a lot to our offense and probably won't be too expensive (made $5 million last year). Marco Belinelli is a career 38% 3 point shooter who is only 27. I'm not sure he can play SF. But if we don't resign Tony Allen he could fill in at SG.

Andre Iguodala is a very good SF, even though doesn't shoot the 3 well. But he is probably going to want a lot of money and I'm not sure he would want to play here. Brandon Rush has a player option. If he doesn't take it he's 27 and shoots 41% from 3. Assuming he is healthy after being hurt all last year I think he would be a nice pickup. Matt Barnes is a good all around player who is 33 and will probably be fairly cheap. Mike Dunleavy is an older SF who would probably also be fairly cheap. He's a career 37% 3 point shooter, but has shot around 40% over the past 3 years. Another Duke alum that I like is JJ Redick. He's strictly a SG and would probably be fairly expensive. But he's a career 39% 3 point shooter and is 28 years old. Andrei Kirilenko is 32 and doesn't shoot the 3 well. But he does basically everything else very well. He made almost $10 million last year. I'm not sure if he'll be asking for a similar amount. If so I doubt we can afford him. But if he asks a reasonable price I would consider it.

Overall I think Kyle Korver would be my number 1 target. He's the best 3 point shooter, which I think is our biggest weakness. I don't think he'll want a ton of money and I don't think many teams will offer him a lot of money. For some reason he has been undervalued for much of his career. So maybe we could get him for good value. The question then would simply be convincing Lionel Hollins to play him enough minutes. My next option would be Mike Dunleavy. He's older than Korver and isn't as good a shooter. But I think we can get him at a good price and he is a good enough shooter to help the offense. If we can add one (or even both) I think we could be a better team next season than we were last year.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Grizzlies swept by Spurs

What a crappy way to end a really good season. That was close to a dominant performance by the Spurs. All of the games were close aside from game 1. But the Spurs are clearly the better team, both in regards to having the better players and the better coach. This series wasn't complicated. The Grizz like to throw the ball down to ZBo and Gasol in the post and play really good defense. The Spurs like to let Tony Parker run the pick and roll where he gets an open shot for himself or finds an open 3 point shooter. And they play an underrated defense.

Those are their strengths. The weakness of the Grizz was 3 point shooting, both making them and defending them. The Spurs don't really have any offensively (maybe Duncan not being a low post player anymore). And defensively they were probably not great at defending the post, which everyone thought the Grizz could exploit. Given all of that most people thought this would be a close series, going 6 or 7 games. So what happened?

The first thing that happened is Tony Parker. He was fantastic, shooting over 50% and getting a lot of assists. The rest of the Spurs offense was pretty good. But as good as they were, the Grizz defense was pretty good. They gave up 105, 93, 104, and 93, with two of those games going into overtime. So it wasn't that the Spurs were scoring an inordinately high number of points. They averaged 103 during the regular season and we held them to 99 in this series. The bigger problem was us scoring 88 points per game in this series, 5 points lower than our regular season overage of 93.

While most of the attention for our offensive struggles has been placed on ZBo, he wasn't the only one to struggle. Gasol and Conley were pretty bad too. ZBo was terrible, shooting below 40% and 50% from the line. Gasol only shot 40% and Conley shot 38%. They were all much worse offensively than they were in the regular season. But the blame isn't all on them. Greg Popovich knows Tony Allen and Tayshaun Price aren't good shooters. So decided to focus on making it more difficult for ZBo and Gasol while largely ignoring Allen and Prince. This strategy seems so obvious that I have to wonder why the Clippers and Thunder didn't do the same thing. But I guess that's why the Clippers fired their coach and Scott Brooks will get fired probably sooner rather than later despite having an elite team.

While that was all happening, Lionel Hollins was standing on the sideline doing something, I'm not sure what. If he made adjustments they were wildly ineffective. The offensive strategy throughout the series seemed to be the same it was all year; let Conley dribble around aimlessly until something happens, throw it down to ZBo and let him create something, or give it to Gasol in the high post and let everyone run around until something happened. There were very few drawn up plays that got us easy baskets, which the Spurs seemed to get on a regular basis. One thing I'll give Lionel for is recognizing that we are a better team with Quincy Pondexter on the floor. His good 3 point shooting opens things up for the rest of the team. This was a big reason ZBo played better in 2nd halfs and the team was able to keep things close late in games. Other than this adjustment, I think Lionel got badly outcoached.

I don't want to sound all gloom and doom. We had a very good season and I'm very proud of the team, the organization and the fans. I'm just giving my objective take on the situation. And while we are a good team, the Spurs clearly demonstrated why they are the class of the league. We have to make some across the board improvements to get to where they are. And I don't think we are that far off. The improvements don't need to be vast, just some tweaks here and there.

Conley, Gasol and Randolph are the core of this team. They are locked up for the near future. I worry about Randolph as he ages. But he should be ok for the next year or two. But if Randolph all of the sudden falls off, we have Ed Davis (who is a free agent, restricted I think and hope). Despite the playing time Lionel gave him, Davis is a good player who we should definitely resign. Tony Allen is an unrestricted free agent who is entering his 30s. I love Tony, aka The Grindfather. He has offensive limitations. But he's so good defensively that overall he is a good player. I'd like to resign him for a reasonable price for 3 years at the most, preferably two.

Tayshaun Prince is a free agent who I think we should let walk. Quincy Pondexter is good enough to start and is on a cheap contract. Most importantly he gives the offense what it badly needs, 3 point shooting. Depending on what we do with Tony Allen, I think our main focus in filling the SG and SF positions should be 3 point shooting. We have to close that hole in our game and I'm confident there are relatively cheap options on the market (Mike Dunleavy jumps to mind).

Lionel Hollins seems to have his limitations as a coach. But overall I think he's done a solid job with this team. At worst they play hard for him. If we put the right players around him I think he can be fine as an in game coach. Maybe not Popovich, but good enough. I hope with a more analytically minded front office we can find the right players for Hollins. It shouldn't be too hard with the core we have and the cap situation. So I'm pretty optimistic about the future of the team.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Greatest gif ever?

I was going to name this the gif of the day. But this is too epic for such a title. This is one of the (possibly the) best gifs I've ever seen.



That comes from a pajiba biz break post where Henry Cavill says he would like to see a Batman and Superman team up movie. Uh, seconded. That would be incredible. I'm not sure how that movie wouldn't completely destroy the box office. It would be so huge that the Friday it opens it might be declared a national holiday so that everyone could get off work to go see it. Make this happen Warner Bros.

Speaking of Batman, I had an idea I posted on pajiba regarding the Batman franchise. They are obviously going to keep making Batman movies. If for some reason they pull another Schumaker and screw things up, I have an idea for them that they could do in about 20 years. By that time Christian Bale will be about 60. You could go full "The Dark Knight Returns" within the continuity of the The Dark Knight Rises story. John Blake had been Batman and had either retired or been killed. Things go bad in Gotham, possibly because they released the Joker. And Bruce Wayne (played by Christian Bale) comes back to Gotham to become Batman again. I wouldn't put Superman in it like it is in the comic because this would be a sequel to Rises and he wouldn't fit. But I think it would be pretty awesome to pick up on The Dark Knight Trilogy after so long.

Presidential legacy

Obama gave a wide-ranging speech about the "war on terror" today. I'll send you to the always awesome Charles Pierce for some reaction to the speech. I don't expect this speech to have much, if any, effect on policy. Congress won't all the sudden be convinced to close Gitmo. What this speech seemed like to me was a way for Obama to try and frame his legacy.

As he acknowledged, the topics he discussed can be very difficult issues. The answers aren't clear cut in many cases, though less clear cut than Obama wants to admit. For instance, he suggests that he has to send drones to kill people because someone sitting around thinking about killing people is the same as (or similar enough to) someone actively killing people. I think that's kind of ridiculous, or at least ridiculous to conclude that you need to kill that person instead of arresting them.

Anyway, I'm not sure why he chose today to make this speech. But unless he has learned nothing the past 4 years, he wasn't doing it just to try to change policy. I think this was meant to justify his policies to history and form a narrative about his legacy, one that shows he was operating under some sort of conscience or moral integrity. I don't think he mentioned the issue of executive power and its relationship to congress in the speech. But that's an implicit thing present in most of the policies he discussed.

I doubt he cares very much about executive overreach, especially given the Republicans that have been part of congress since he's been in office. Obama seems to fit alongside just about every executive throughout history that have not given back power that has been given to them. He's even sought to gain more power, despite coming off as the candidate that didn't want it, often criticizing the Bush administration's overreach. What I want to know is, at what point does executive power become so overbearing that a president genuinely wants to give back power? When do we get another person like George Washington that is so concerned about the stability of the gov't that they make it a point to try not to abuse power?

I'm not knowledgable enough about every president to know about each's record on the subject of executive power. But my bare-bones knowledge of our history suggests that Washington and James Madison were about the one ones who made legitimate efforts to not overreach. Madison even had a good excuse with the War of 1812. The British literally invaded and burned down the White House. But being the writer and huge driving force behind the Constitution, Madison understood that it's dangerous to invest too much power in the executive and balked at doing so. Things have obviously changed a lot since the days of Washington and Madison. But it seems to me that someone with enough courage and long-term vision would find it useful to give some power back to congress and try to make sure the executive branch doesn't abuse power. I just hope things don't get too out of control before this sentiment becomes popular.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Grizzlies lose close game 2

That was a weird game. The first half played out almost exactly how game 1 did, with the Grizzlies playing poorly on both ends of the floor and with ZBo looking like he didn't put in his contacts. But ZBo got things going in the 2nd half and the Spurs finally stopped making shots in the 4th quarter. That allowed us to grind back into the game and tie it up. But our offensive problems showed up again in OT and we couldn't pull out what would have been a pretty crazy comeback.

The fact that we took this game to OT doesn't have me very optimistic about the series. We were still significantly outplayed for most of the game. And we still haven't really figured out the Spurs' offense. I thought they still got too many open 3s. They just regressed to the mean and only hit a solid 36% instead of over 50%. We still can't figure out the pick and roll. I don't think we will completely stop Tony Parker. He's just too good. But I would like to see us go under every screen and try really hard to keep him from the lane. He's only a career 31% 3 point shooter. Let's try to back off of him and let him shoot open 3s.

I don't know what the hell is wrong with ZBo. The Spurs seem to be playing him better than the Clippers or Thunder. But he's just off from everywhere on the court. Hopefully he got things right in the 2nd half because we can't win without him shooting around 50%. I was glad to see Lionel playing Quincy Pondexter more. He was only 1-4 from 3. But he was 3-6 overall and forced the Spurs defenders to run him off the 3 point line, which got us open shots. I'm still baffled as to why Darrell Arthur is playing over Ed Davis. Arthur was 2-6 last night with no rebounds and four fouls. Davis didn't play at all. Jerryd Bayless is a really streaky shooter. He was good in the first two series of the playoffs. But he was 7-18 last night and took some bad shots at the end of the game.

Offensively I think Mike Conley needs to continue to be aggressive (I know that's THE cliche in the NBA. But I think it applies to him). Marc (who also hasn't been himself this series) and ZBo obviously need to figure things out, which I think they will. If not it probably won't matter much what the rest of the team does. I talked a bit about what we should do defensively. Part of containing Parker might be switching to some sort of zone, possibly a box and one with either Conley or Tony Allen playing Parker man to man. Yes, that might leave the 3 point line open. But I think it might leave it less open than it is under our current defense. Something has to be changed. We can't just grit and grind our way to 4 of the next 6 games. The Spurs are too good. Let's hope we sort things out in the Grindhouse.

Gif of the day

Apparently the creator of the "gif" says it's pronounced "jif". That's bullshit. I'm going with the hard g and I don't care what the consensus is. Today's gif comes from Dustin Rowles at warmingglow.com (he also runs pajiba.com). He celebrated the awesomeness that was the show Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23. Here's one of my favorites from his list:



The unaired episodes from the second season are on abc.com. I plan on spending the weekend watching them and lamenting the loss of a great show. And then maybe I'll get weird and play some Mario Kart.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Grizzlies blown out in game 1, adjust for game 2

Game 1 against the Spurs was almost as ugly as it gets. ZBo had one of his weird off nights that he has from time to time. Surely that won't happen again. And even though we played horrible defense, the Spurs aren't likely to shoot quite as well as they did. So I'm not terribly concerned about this series yet. But there are some problems we have to deal with. And they weren't things we didn't know about coming into the series. Here's what I said after we beat the Thunder:

The only weakness I see in this team is 3 point shooting on both ends. Defensively we leave 3 point shooters open too much. Late last night we left Derek Fisher (I'm not sure why he was in the game. But thanks Scott Brooks) wide open several times. That happened throughout the series. And that could be a big problem facing either the Spurs or Warriors, both of whom shoot the 3 very well. Offensively we don't have many good 3 point shooters. Conley is pretty good. But Allen and Prince aren't, which kind of hurts since it would probably make it a bit easier on ZBo and Gasol if they could pass to shooting threats out of the post.

That's exactly what happened in game 1. Tony Parker used the pick and roll to get into the lane and pass to wide open 3 point shooters when our defenders moved to help on Parker. The adjustment should be to back off Tony Parker when they run the pick and roll, going under the screener. If that doesn't work and Parker gets by, let Gasol patrol the lane. Parker is so good at mid range jumpers that I don't want to just give him those shots all night. If going under the pick and roll doesn't work I'd consider switching to some sort of zone to try and give him a different look. Our wing defenders don't need to help as much when Parker gets in the lane. Only one player needs to help while the others need to stay on their man and run them off the 3 point line.

The Spurs focused most of their defense on making things very difficult for ZBo and Gasol to post up on the low block, forcing the ball into Prince and Allen's hands to make a play. If I'm the Spurs I keep double teaming ZBo and Marc and forcing Prince and Allen to make shots. I might even force Mike Conley to make a few open shots. But I wouldn't leave him open too much because he can be a very good shooter.

The Grizz might want to consider playing Quincy Pondexter more if the Spurs are going to double our bigs. And I've long advocated that Ed Davis needs to be playing instead of Darrell Arthur. Arthur got burned multiple times on the pick and role, leaving a very good 3 point shooter in Matt Boner wide open. Arthur also lets the Spurs put double the other Grizz big in the game because he doesn't shoot a high % and has no post game. These shouldn't be too difficult to deal with. I'm pretty confident we can at least handle them a bit better than we did in game 1 and make game 2 much closer.

Gif of the day

I came across this on my Tumblr feed and had to share it.



I'm not sure Bruce Wayne is an introvert by nature. It could be because of his childhood trauma that he seems to be an introvert. But however he got there, it's one of the many reasons I love the character and can identify with him. Speaking of Batman, the Bitter Script Reader tweeted this story of the real story of how Batman was created. Bill Finger was a friend of collaborator with Bob Kane. He came up with a lot of the ideas for Batman but Kane and the comic industry screwed him out of credit. I feel bad for Finger for not getting his due as what looks like the major force in creating one of the greatest characters ever. But at least he is now going to get his due from one of his biggest fans.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What Obama should say

I'll admit to having a thing for Sorkin-like political speeches. Sorkin is the liberal id. He has his politicians speak the way we want to hear them speak, not in the political BS-talk they all use. Even the Congressman I worked for and admire in part because he speaks his mind more often than most politicians speaks politically sometimes. Grad school pounded some of this out of me. I understand that politicians are very concerned with reelection and are thus very risk averse. Many of them think it's just not worth it to possibly say something that could get them in trouble. A lot of them still get into trouble when they are trying to be careful.

But there are times when not only do I think the blunt truth, spoken in "real" talk, would not only satisfy the liberal id, but would actually be beneficial to the politician's agenda (be it policy or reelection). We kind of saw this with Obama after Senate Republicans filibustered gun legislation requiring background checks. He seemed a bit more angry and blunt with his comments. I'm sure that was genuine. But I also bet his communication staff didn't have a problem with that tone because they thought they were on the right side of the issue in regard to public opinion.

The Obama administration probably won't make that calculation often. Obama will very likely continue to speak as he always has, very carefully and very politically. But given the pretty shitty week he's had lately, which has probably put him in not the best mood, Ezra Klein spoke to some ex-aides and came up with what Obama might say if he just said the hell with it and said what he really thought:

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. At this point, though, can the American people actually trust their government? There’s a sense that these issues might just be the tip of the iceberg.

OBAMA: [Long pause.] Are you kidding me?

No, the American people can’t trust their government. They can’t trust their media either, I might add. But that’s not because of a couple of I.R.S. agents out in Cincinnati. We can fix the Cincinnati office. Let me be clear: We’re already fixing the Cincinnati office. This problem was solved a year ago. The guy who solved it just got fired anyway because you all wanted to see some blood on the walls and I’m just political enough to give it to you.

Look, the reason the American people can’t trust their government is here in Washington. Right now sequestration is cutting unemployment checks by 10 or 11 percent. Do you hear anyone talking about that? Or doing anything about it? No. You hear Republicans aides telling Politico, anonymously, that the speaker is quote “obsessed” with Benghazi. You know, I don’t think most of the Republicans screaming about Benghazi could find Libya on a map. I don’t think 10 of them knew our ambassador’s name. And, let me be clear, Speaker Boehner certainly wasn’t obsessed with giving us the money we asked for to keep the embassy’s safe.

But now he’s obsessed with Benghazi. And not even Benghazi. The Benghazi talking points. Are you kidding me? He’s not obsessed with global warming or unemployment or rebuilding our infrastructure. And now that there’s conflict, all of you are obsessed with Benghazi talking points too, and meanwhile, we’re cutting the National Institutes of Health and we’re cutting too deep into the military and we’re making life harder for the unemployed and we’re doing nothing to keep this planet in good shape for our kids.

Look, this is why the American people can’t trust their government. Because this town is obsessed with conflict and political advantage and not with real problems. We worry about the wrong things so much that we don’t even have time to talk to the American people or each other about the right things. And that’s not the I.R.S.’s fault.

What would it hurt to say that? Republicans are going to hate anything he says no matter what. At least if he said that liberals might rally around him and give him some support while trying to handle those issues. I won't quote any more of it since what I quoted above is long. But read the rest. It's good. And I don't see how it would hurt Obama. So many people are cynical about politics. Maybe if Obama or someone else spoke openly and honestly more often people would trust them more. That's how it works the rest of the time in the real world isn't it? I'm not sure why it wouldn't work more often in politics

New Girl season finale

As with a lot of tv I was late to New Girl. I guess I just assume everything on network tv is crap unless I'm repeatedly told otherwise. Pajiba.com finally beat the drum for New Girl long and hard enough for me to give it a try. I'm glad I did, which means I now regret that I've come to it so late. I've only seen about the last half of this season. So I don't know much of the backstory between Nick and Jess and CeCe and Schmidt. But I liked Nick, Jess and Schmidt enough right from the start to care about their relationships. I hope I'm missing something with CeCe because I'm not really feeling her.

I mention those two relationships because they were the big focus on this half of the season, and especially the season finale. CeCe, for some reason I'm still not sure of, decided to have an arranged married. We thought her and Schmidt had moved on from each other. But magically, during Schmidt and Winston's sabotage of the wedding, CeCe realized that she wanted to be with Schmidt. And we found out that CeCe's fiance wanted to be with Taylor fucking Swift (stay the fuck away from my things Swift). This was all ridiculous. But it didn't bother me because the whole idea of CeCe going through with an arranged marriage was more ridiculous to begin with. So because it was funny I didn't mind. Though I did mind how CeCe put Schmidt on the spot in front of his current girlfriend (who was also his former girlfriend when he was fat).

The other part of the finale was Jess and Nick's new relationship. Nick has always been the screwup, slacker guy. That's part of what made him endearing to me and probably Jess. But they were both worried that because of those qualities, Nick wouldn't be good long-term boyfriend material. Part of why I've come to really like this show is I just love Nick. There's something so genuinely likable about him. When he told Jess that they should break it off because he wasn't responsible enough to be in the relationship I loved him even more. He could easily ignore his doubts just so he can keep having what has to be some pretty hot sex with Jess (just the way they kiss is really hot). But he didn't. And Jess thinks there's something between them. So she is willing to give it a shot. I mean, how could she not want to after Nick made what I had thought was one of the worst songs ever tolerable, maybe even good:

Grizzlies beat Thunder in 5

When we beat the Clippers and were set to face the Thunder without Russell Westbrook I thought we had a good chance to win. But I didn't think we would beat a good team in 5 games. Westbrook is a good player. But they are still a very good team, in large part because Kevin Durant is a great player, just behind LeBron James. And even though the Griz won in 5 games, all 5 were close games at the end. We were definitely the better team. But they weren't far off.

The Griz won the same way they always do, with grit and grind. That means throwing it down in the post to Gasol and Randolph, or Gasol in the high post. Or it means running screens for Mike Conley and letting him create something. Defensively it means letting Tony Allen do what he does best and having Gasol guard the paint in case someone gets by Allen, Conley or Prince. And once the shot goes up we have pretty good rebounders at each position, a very good one in Randolph.

The only weakness I see in this team is 3 point shooting on both ends. Defensively we leave 3 point shooters open too much. Late last night we left Derek Fisher (I'm not sure why he was in the game. But thanks Scott Brooks) wide open several times. That happened throughout the series. And that could be a big problem facing either the Spurs or Warriors, both of whom shoot the 3 very well. Offensively we don't have many good 3 point shooters. Conley is pretty good. But Allen and Prince aren't, which kind of hurts since it would probably make it a bit easier on ZBo and Gasol if they could pass to shooting threats out of the post. That was always the hope with Rudy Gay, that he would be that shooting threat to take pressure of them. But he just didn't shoot efficiently enough to do that.

Quincy Pondexter is a good 3 point shooter. But Lionel Hollins likes Tayshaun Prince's defense too much to give Pondexter more minutes. I can understand that when we are playing Kevin Durant. But I think Pondexter could help more against our next opponent. Whoever that team is I'm almost certain they will give us a longer series than the Thunder did. Both are better offensively right now than the Thunder. The Spurs probably aren't much worse than the Thunder defensively. And I would bet that Andrew Bogut will give both ZBo and Gasol more problems than Perkins and Ibaka did. Both teams also have better offensive players. They both have a lot of shooting depth. And stars like Tony Parker and Steph Curry can go off almost as well as Durant.

So it will be tough to get to the Finals. We are going to have to play very well to win each game. And even if we do play well might not be enough sometimes, like game 1 against the Thunder. But at worst the Griz will give the Spurs or Warriors a tough series. This is the furthest the franchise has ever gone in the playoffs. And everyone here in Memphis is excited to see if we can keep making history. We'll be here anxiously awaiting the Spurs or Warriors, waiting to follow the lead of The Grindfather.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Grizzlies really need game 2 against Thunder

Game 1 hurt. No lead in the NBA is safe. But when you have a lead in the 4th quarter after playing better than the other team the whole game you should expect to win. The obvious criticism from game 1 was Tony Allen playing less than two minutes in the 4th quarter. I don't think this was as completely unreasonable as most seem to. Lionel's logic seemed to be that Quincy was having a good game offensively and Tayshaun is a better defensive matchup on Kevin Durant. So putting Tony in would deprive us from a good 3 point shooter or put Tony in the very tough position of guarding Durant.

I don't think that logic is totally misguided. But while Tony Allen isn't the 3 point shooter Quincy Pondexter is or is as tall and long as Tayshaun Prince is, he is a better overall player than both. At worst he should be splitting time with one or both of those players. I don't see why Tony or Quincy couldn't guard Durant for a while. Anyway, the point is that Tony Allen should be playing more in the 4th quarter than he did in game 1.

Lionel needs to make adjustments quickly because I think it will be harder to win this series if we go down 0-2 than it was against the Clippers. Chris Paul is great. But Durant is just a bit greater, particularly on the offensive end. He is close to being (if not there) in the company of Michael Jordan as a scorer. He shot 50% from the field and 40% from 3 this season, while taking a ton of shots. We won't be able to keep him from going off for four straight games. Or if we somehow can do that, there's a chance the rest of the Thunder team plays well enough to win (Ibaka won't shoot less than 20% again). What happens if Durant and a few other players are on at the same time? They could easily steal a game in Memphis, leaving us in a lot of trouble.

Russell Westbrook is a good player. But he isn't a great player. Ignore his point totals. He's only about an average shooter (career 52% true shooting %, average for PGs is 52.7%). But he does most other things well and is certainly better than the Thunder's other PGs, especially Derrick Fisher (I don't know what the fuck got into him in game 1). So Westbrook being hurt isn't quite the blow that most think it is. This Thunder team is still really good. And we obviously have to win a game in OKC to win the series. We had a great opportunity to do that in game 1. It will be easier to win this series if we get that win in game 2 and try to take care of business at home. So let's not go against the Grindfather again and get a win tonight.

Today's economy and a generation's struggles

I went to a wedding this weekend for a longtime childhood friend of mine. A lot of people I went to K-12 with were there and it was nice catching up with them. And aside from the religious nature of the ceremony (along with the gendered nature of it and the digs at gay marriage), it was nice to see people get married and be happy. One common theme in my talks with old friends (who are all the same age as me) was how hard it is in today's economy. We all graduated at about the same time and we've all had a hard time finding good work. Because of that, many of us still have student loan debt and still live with our parents in order to compensate for that and low wages.

The big reason I haven't been blogging basically at all lately is that I've been doing another unpaid internship (though I at least got a gas stipend this time). That's been occupying most of my mental energy when it comes to politics. I just don't feel like blogging when I've been thinking about politics all day. Just recently I was offered a paying job at the firm I've been interning for. It's a very small start-up consulting firm with a good reputation. But because it's small and it's a down time in the election cycle there isn't much revenue coming in. So my boss can't pay me very much. But I took it because I simply haven't found anything else. And I've applied to a wide range of places, from Target to Best Buy to Starbucks. Even though this job doesn't pay much I think I'm probably lucky to get it since it's something I will enjoy doing as opposed to other jobs that might pay a bit more but I wouldn't enjoy doing at all.

I write this post to in part explain why I haven't been blogging much and why that might continue. But I also wrote this to let other people in similar situations know that you aren't alone. I've talked to a lot of you who have gotten degrees, worked hard, paid dues and still can't find a good job. I know how frustrating it is to send out dozens and even hundreds of resumes and cover letters out and not get a single positive response. I know it's frustrating to have student loan payments come in month after month and not being able to pay them on your own. And as someone who pays attention to politics, I know it's beyond frustrating to see our leaders basically ignore us and only serve the interests of people who aren't struggling in this economy.

I'm not sure I have any great advice. But I'm at least willing to listen if anyone wants to share their story and seek some advice. And I'm interested in hearing from people who may have some advice for people who are struggling. So feel free to share in the comments section. Meanwhile I'll try to find more time to post more and share my experience in today's tough economy.