Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Preview of the Nets-Knicks Game

Two trust fund kids failing out of Columbia, both ask the dean for one more chance. She says if either of them pass Thursday’s philosophy exam (35 multiple choice, two essays), she’ll let them stay. For now. Otherwise, they’re gone. Neither has showed up much for class this semester (or ever, really), but they do possess the mental capacity to pass one exam. But one of the dudes is in the middle of an ugly nine-day bender, and isn’t showing signs of shaking it off any time soon. The other just had a really weird break-up thing that he told everybody about on Facebook, but he claims it’s not really a break-up, just a change. But he also says that there wasn’t really anything to change since the relationship was never what people thought it was in the first place. Anyway, it’s messing up his school work that was already suffering.

And for some reason the exam is being broadcast on TNT. It's going to be awesome.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Coming Home

Alright team, huddle up. We're not happy about what we've done either. We said we were going to the store to pick up paper towels, and we haven't been back for five months. But we're on our way. Depending on traffic, we're like 20 minutes from home. The season is close, and we're getting closer. If he can return, so can we.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What the Playoffs Mean: Tactics

As a serious tactics nerd, a guy who loves just getting waist deep in statistics, strategy and—most importantly—tactics, the NBA Playoffs are a delight to take in on a nightly basis.

The possibility that two teams could face each other—and only each other—for seven games in a row, offers the unique opportunity for coaches to plan and build a tactical scheme, night-in, night-out. It is the truest test of tactical acumen. It highlights why basketball is the sport most influenced and affected by tactics.

Smart tactics, and a team is hoisting the trophy at the end of the season, spraying champagne over one another, smoking cigars.

Poor tactics and it's Vinny Del Negro, sitting at his laptop updating the ol’ resume.
“Former NBA Player, Coach and Avid Fan. Looking to sink my teeth into the most ambitious of basketball-related projects.”
Wherein some consider the NFL the most tactical of all games (a team can literally do a fake field goal every play if it wants, i.e. tactics), the NFL playoffs are all one-offs. The coach has one shot to get his tactics right and then either wins or loses. The winner develops entirely new tactics for an entirely new opponent. It is tactical, sure, but not as tactical in the sense that the tactics in the NBA remain critical over the course of a potential two weeks.

It is tactics in the NBA, living and breathing tactics, tactics forever shifting and growing, tactics.

Baseball is not really a tactical game in that the only tactical decisions that are made is whether or not to hit-and-run, bunt or bring in a left-handed relief pitcher. Are these tactics? Sure, but baseball is a sport of one-on-one battles and then a group of defensive players doing their best not to make a mistake.

“Oh boy, he really should have caught that ball. Well, that’s baseball, Susan.”

No tactics there.

Does deciding whether to creep a third baseman forward to protect a potential bunt count as tactics? Unequivocally, no. Not when compared to figuring out how the hell to stop the 6’8” 260-pound perfect specimen that is LeBron James over the course of seven games.

Hockey, the sport furthest from the sphere of anything that even closely resembles tactics, is a sport wherein the players do their best to dump the puck in the opponent’s zone. That’s about it. No tactics there. Even if there were tactics (and just to be clear, we've established that there are not tactics), it is impossible to see the puck on TV so how would anyone even be able to tell? Bring back the mid-90s Fox broadcast where the puck was lit up. Those are some tactics by Fox right there.

Soccer is tactically driven, yes, but again the playoff competitions are almost always one-offs or two-offs, so it follows a similar pattern to the NFL: set the tactics before the match, maybe make a substitute or two (mostly bringing on a defender if a team is winning or an attacker if the team is losing) and then move on to the next match. Yes, there is a difference between playing a 4-4-2 and a 4-2-3-1, but it is not different like apples and oranges are different.

There are absolutely zero tactics in lacrosse, wherein the only foreseeable tactic is to win ground balls and then work the ball around the outside of the attacking zone until the best player either goes one-on-one or shoots from distance. No tactics in that. Maybe some tactics in the “fo-go” ("face-off, get off"), the player that specializes in face-offs and then promptly leaves the field. There is a spattering of tactics there, but that’s more of a position than anything else. Good try on the tactics there, lacrosse.
No tactics in beach volleyball: Bump, set, spike!

Are there any other team sports?

The individual sports? “Fa-get-about-it!” No tactics in boxing: punch the other person until they collapse in a heap of brain damage. No tactics in tennis: hit the ball where the opponent cannot get it! No tactics in golf: Give that little white dimpled ball a real whack! No tactics in wrestling: “Take him down, Eddie!” No tactics in track: run faster than the person next to you who is also running fast. No tactics in swimming: Swim faster than the person next to you who is also swimming fast.

Nope, the tactics—the truest of tactics—come in the NBA playoffs. Take, for instance, this fascinating Eastern Conference series taking place. Roy Hibbert has been giving the Heat fits all series, so what does Miami do? Tactics! Double Hibbert when he’s high in the paint and force the big to make a decision. That’s tactics. Love those tactics.

The rub here is that over the next 48 hours, the coaches and players will watch the tape of the game probably four or five times, discuss at length what worked and what did not, and come up with an entirely new set of tactics.

Should the Pacers protect the three-point line? Tactics. Should they deny LeBron the ball? Tactics. Should they play through Hibbert? Tactics.

The tactics are everywhere in the playoffs.

Foul a three-point shooter with a three-point lead at the end of a game: Freaking tactics right there. Pick-and-rolls, double-down, transition defense, spread the floor, isolation, ball movement: Jesus, Mary and Joseph! My head is spinning with all these NBA Playoff basketball tactics.

So, as the Playoffs continue into June, know that the tactics are everywhere. Know that the players have a clear tactical goal in mind, acutely and meticulously discussed and planned by their coaching staff for hours and hours and hours and hours.

Like Daniel Day Lewis, in the NBA Playoffs, there will be tactics.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Question of the Day

What do you think Evan Turner has planned for Memorial Day weekend?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

2013 Draft Lottery Running Diary (with Pictures!)

Oh NBA draft lottery, we’ve come so far since David Stern brazenly grabbed the envelope with the folded corner and handed Patrick Ewing to the Knicks. The whole process has grown so much that the selection process happens off-screen now, so we can be TOTALLY sure a team doesn’t get a #1 pick because Dan Gilbert was owed one or Tom Benson just took the Hornets off the league’s hands. Things like that would NEVER happen at the draft lottery!

We here at No Regard find lots of value in the more trivial NBA happenings, and since televised corporate meetings where you kinda feel like something’s off are kinda my thing, I DVR’d the draft lottery just to watch Arrested Development on Netflix and catch the #1 pick later or maybe just look on Twitter write a running diary. There are white guys AND more white guys! I hope you like pictures of someone else's TV

 Here we go:

 :00 – looks like I missed the opening sequence, if there was one. Here’s Chad Ford sitting at a table next to some other guy talking about Nerlens Noel. A graphic of the draft rules comes on the screen and the rosters of the league’s crappiest teams scroll across the bottom.

 The camera turns to Heather Cox standing in a room full of fresh NBA gear. “Nice!” you probably just thought to yourself. “That stuff must be worth a fortune!” Well, you’re wrong. Just look at this crap.

 I’d pay like 8 bucks for the contents of that room.

 :01 - Cox tells us she’s in the Good Morning America studios where the lottery itself actually happened. Apparently somewhere there is a locked room full of team executives and exactly four media members plus “members of the accounting firm Ernst & Young” (because they DEFINITELY didn’t rig it this year). They don’t have phones or internet in there, just David Stern telling them exactly what will happen to their families if they go anywhere near Twitter in the next half-hour. Then Cox shows us the ball picking device and some charts with numbers.

In case you care, the Magic have the best chance of winning because the Dwight Howard trade turned out so well for them.

 :03 Ford starts telling us about a bunch of guys we didn’t bother watching in college this year and says maybe Ben McLemore can be the #1 pick (I'm disregarding this, it's Nerlens' night). Heather Cox re-appears and talks to Anthony Bennett from UNLV, who has his arm in a sling. Along with Nerlens Noel’s torn ACL, this may be the gimpiest draft in a while.

:05 – I still haven’t figured out who the co-host talking to Chad Ford is. Ford is talking about guys who might get picked 5-10.  They won’t be heard from until the vastly underrated Rising Stars Challenge where they’ll take turns picking on Brandon Knight.

:08 – We’re suddenly transported to the Simmons/Jalen Rose/Magic Johnson/Mike Wilbon Patronizing Everyone pregame show. Simmons runs through his Karma Power Rankings. [5. Philly 4. Orlando 3. Wizards 2. Kings (no) 1. Pistons.] That was even more pointless than this blog post. Simmons predicts a Kings lottery win, which is the consensus suspicion among NBA conspiracy theorists.

:11 – The guy who runs NBA security just escorted some accountant to the podium with the draft results. They are the only two people in the room who already know the results.

This is so white. We’re almost halfway through and have already gotten two commercial breaks, a cut-away to the Spurs-Griz pregame show, a room full of worthless gear and several people taking their jobs way too seriously. We haven’t met any team representatives yet and don’t know about any of the picks.

:14 - Time for a vignette of possible lottery picks! Ten years ago I watched this very show to find out where LeBron, Darko, Wade, Melo and Bosh might go. Today, I barely know who the guys in this video are.

:15 – Meet the team reps!
Jazz: old white guy
Mavericks: middle-aged white guy
Raptors: middle-aged white guy
Sixers: middle-aged white guy
Blazers: Damian Lillard!
Timberwolves: Kevin Love! He brought a Ricky Rubio bobblehead, doesn’t say a word, is so far beyond this crap.
Wizards: Bradley Beal!
Pistons: Andre Drummond!
Kings: Keith Smart (DeMarcus hasn’t fired him yet!)
Pelicans: Monty Williams lies to us about how excited he was to have Austin Rivers on his team. Also everyone is officially calling them the Pelicans now. I want them to win this so we can have Nerlens in Nawlins.
Suns: old white guy
Cavs: Dan Gilbert’s kid in a bow tie and holy crap his voice has dropped. Also he’s FURIOUS to be at the lottery again.
Bobcats: a man named Fred Whitfield who is shockingly NOT white. If I told you to speak to a Charlotte businessman named Fred Whitfield and released you into this room, you’d take at least 7 guesses before picking this guy.
Magic: old white guy

That’s four players, two coaches, seven non-Kevin Love white guys of varying ages and one Fred Whitfield.

Side note: Dan Gilbert is currently 2/3 of the way to actually becoming Willy Wonka. 

:18 – It’s Adam Silver time! I guess Stern has some reporter’s blood all over his suit and didn’t bring a change of clothes. Picks 9-14 go in the order they were slotted to go, with the Raptors losing their pick to the Thunder, which is somehow related to the James Harden trade.  

:20 – The Pistons get the 8th pick, which means the Wizards get to squander a top 3 pick this year! They show Bradley Beal, who has not yet processed this information.

:21 – The Bobcats get the 4th pick despite having the 2nd best odds to win the lottery. Whitfield looks pissed.

That leaves the Wiz, Cavs and Magic. The camera cuts to Nerlens Noel, who must be begging for the Wizards to win this right now, the Magic are no fun and Cleveland is in Cleveland.

:24 Chad Ford promises there will be actual basketball on after this. Bradley Beal, Dan Gilbert’s kid and this guy are waiting to see the #1 pick.

He looks fun.

The Wiz get the #3 pick. Beal does not care at all.

:25 – Magic get the #2 pick and Dan Gilbert’s kid finally acts like a kid with a solid fist-pump. Cox interviews Dan Gilbert, who promptly makes a joke about keeping his kid confined to his room for six weeks for not winning the draft lottery last year (he's probably not joking). There is a palpable sense that the Magic guy wants to punch both Gilberts in the face and that all the players were ready to go to 1OAK with JR Smith an hour ago.

:27 – The guy who isn’t Chad Ford interviews Nerlens, who mumbles through the whole thing. He’s not looking forward to Cleveland.

:28 – Turns out Chad Ford was Jay Bilas the whole time. I still haven’t figured out the co-host’s name. Every single team rep has already bounced.

:29 – Since nobody is left in the room, they give us this fantastic picture of what the creepiest rich people in Cleveland look like. Note the guys sitting on either side of Dan Gilbert. 
There's a 100% chance they have a basement full of Oompa Loompa's.
That’s enough of this. Don't worry, Nerlens. That really dumb sound you hear is everyone in Cleveland assuming this will get LeBron to come back. Also, Kyrie looks really fun to play with, so there's that.

Monday, May 6, 2013

NBA Middle Names: Jason Collins

We at No Regard spend a lot of time in our NBA knitting circles trying to figure out the human side of these players. Whether it's musing about their commutes to work, how much "Call of Duty" they play, or what their favorite snack food is, we like to remind ourselves that NBA players are nothing more than young men with enviable jobs. What better way to humanize our heroes than look up their middle names?

Jason Paul Collins

Saturday, April 20, 2013

What The Playoffs Mean: The Gorgeous Opportunity To Lose

The playoffs are the sacred text, broad and malleable enough to explain any point of view. They are the way players reach immortality, the way GMs keep their jobs for another year. They are the reason Courtney Lee, Trevor Ariza, JJ Barea and Derek Fisher are kind of close to household names. They are why they play the games and why we watch. But they also mean a lot more than this, which is why we are here. From now until the end of the finals, we'll be here, toiling away, trying to unpack exactly what makes these games so great, exactly What The Playoffs Mean.

This post was written by Benny Nadeau, an editorial intern at The Brooklyn Game, student at Emerson College and a Nets fan who uses "we" when talking about the team. He loves Toko Shengelia more than anyone, and we love him for that. Follow him @bennyflyz.

As a New Jersey Nets fan for so long, there is something incredibly painless about losing now. The Nets haven’t made the playoffs since the 2006-2007 season, and it has made me as hardened as my father who grew up with the chokiest of Red Sox teams. I cried when we traded Jason Kidd to the Dallas Mavericks in 2008 so he could get a legitimate shot of winning a championship (he did) and learned to be unfairly skeptical about any NBA player with the last name of Williams (after drafting Marcus, Sean, Terrence). After enduring the miserable-record-setting 0-18 start to the 2009-2010 season en route to a horrifying 12-70 campaign, it was tough to see through the tears clouding my vision—but, to be fair, it was equally as hard to see through the paper bags as well.

Through all of this, there was hope: John Wall. The freakishly athletic would-be superstar out of Kentucky was the clear-cut top prize in the 2010 draft. And at a 25 percent chance at landing the number one pick and the savior to our floundering franchise, I decided to have an NBA Draft Lottery party. I invited all of my friends—the same ones who had given me reminders at every possible moment of the Nets’ futility—over to watch my team enter a new era of basketball.

I watched through my hands when the New Jersey Nets received the 3rd pick in the lottery. John Wall would go to Washington and the curse continued.

Its taken some time, but in an odd way, things have worked out.

Friday, April 19, 2013

What The Playoffs Mean: Who Knows

The playoffs are the sacred text, broad and malleable enough to explain any point of view. They are the way players reach immortality, the way GMs keep their jobs for another year. They are the reason Courtney Lee, Trevor Ariza, JJ Barea and Derek Fisher are kind of close to household names. They are why they play the games and why we watch. But they also mean a lot more than this, which is why we are here. From now until the end of the finals, we'll be here, toiling away, trying to unpack exactly what makes these games so great, exactly What The Playoffs Mean.

I was supposed to be writing about how great the week leading up to the playoffs is. How when your team makes it, that period is full of limitless possibilities. How the best part of the playoffs doesn't take place during the playoffs at all, but in the days leading up to it. That's when infinity is on your side for once. That's when your team wins the title. Because once the games actually start, that's when reality blinds you—that's when your team can't guard a stupid pick and roll or beat a zone defense or hit open shots on the road even though they are goddamn professionals. But before that first weekend? You're wary of making plans in June because you may have to watch your team in the finals.

But that's not what I'm writing about because there are terrible maniacs in this world. Monday carried on and words like "Boston" and "West" came to mean awful events instead of American cities.

So what do the playoffs mean right now? The same thing they mean every night, Pinky: Nothing. This week was another reminder—in a far too long line of constant horrific reminders—that the only thing that really matters is that people die, more often than not, unjustly. So it's embarrassing how soon on Monday my mind shifted to Brook Lopez. He's making his playoff debut this weekend on the team I root for—the team that's making its return to the playoffs after a six-year hiatus. This stuff is important to me and I don't think there's anything I can do about that.

But also, what else should I be thinking about after tragedy? My family and friends? Why, to remind myself that they are the people I'll miss or devastate, depending on the timing if our respective farewells? Should I be thinking about the people behind the bombing? I dunno. I'm not one of the people tasked with finding the culprits, so not sure that will do any good. Even now that we're able to put a terrible face to the senselessness, why should I keep thinking about them? I guess eventually I'll be interested in trying to understand this mess. But also, I'll never really be able to understand it or any of the other tragedies constantly happening around the world. And I like my job well enough, but it's tough to comfort myself with spreadsheets and client memos.

So I think about the playoffs. I get how small it is, but everything is small—except for the big things. So I don't know, hold on to the small things or something. Look, I'm a little preoccupied while writing this—the second season is starting, after all.