Hoop Logic with God Forbid’s Doc Coyle: The Professional
pro·fes·sion·al (prəˈfeSHənl) noun
a. A person engaged or qualified in a profession.
b. A specialist, authority
c. Doc Coyle, guitarist of God Forbid and NBA analyst
Hey friends welcome back to Hoop Logic, where NBA fans come to discuss the shit out of Earth’s greatest sport/Shakespearean drama: Professional basketball. Not boys basketball, not student basketball, not chuckerball played by college kids in front of screaming adults who will meet them again in a few years at an insurance seminar. Men’s basketball. Real basketball. Amateurs not welcome.
But hey you need not be a fancy NBA lover to party here! Cuz Doc Coyle, guitarist of God Forbid and all-around hunk, is a professional at this. That means you will be entertained, amused, challenged, and even titillated no matter your level of interest in big-time ball. Coyle is an expert, an ace, an authority, a maestro, brah! Read his science on the looming NBA post-season below.
Doc, in your professional opinion, have the Denver Nuggets gone from “troublesome for top teams” to “major obstacle for championship hopefuls” thanks to Wilson Chandler’s recent awesomeness?
Doc Coyle, God Forbid: The 2012-13 Denver Nuggets team is one of the most peculiar and unique collection of players I’ve ever seen. They are one of the most — if not the most — athletic NBA teams ever. It’s unreal that they can run quick-as-lightning breaks even off of made baskets, and because their rotation goes nine or ten deep, they wear down teams with a barrage of energy that never stops. (The only rotation guys that are not incredibly athletic are Kosta Koufos and Andre Miller.) They don’t shoot it well from outside, but they hardly attempt shots from outside — they lead the NBA in points in the paint. These Nuggets take it to the hole to get efficient shots while sharing the ball very well (24 assists per game). And they are unstoppable at home with a 30-3 record, which is the league’s best as well.
To me, the biggest difference from last year’s squad is the impact of Andre Iguodala. He is by far the team’s best defender and all-around player. Also, he is a legit veteran with an All Star appearance and an Olympic gold medal. He is looked up to as a leader, and that has a stabilizing effect for any young team. And head coach George Karl deserves a great deal of credit in that he finally has a cooperative, capable team to run his system; as talented as the best Carmelo Anthony squads were, it had to be hell for a coach to get all of those egos to work together. Melo’s Nuggets teams were a tad thuggish — especially the year that Allen Iverson was there. The Nuggets GM, Masai Ujiri, is also looking like a savant for having won every trade in the last couple years: the Melo deal for Chandler, Danillo Galinari, and a first-round pick in next year’s draft; the Nenê/JaVale McGee swap, and the most recent Iggie/Dwight Howard/Andrew Bynum trade. They have a very solid organization.
But how will the Nuggets fare in the playoffs? Well, precedent is bad for a team of this composition. See, a playoff game usually comes down to a few key possessions in its waning minutes, so teams that have a definitive go-to guy have a clear advantage. Teams led by Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwan, Tim Duncan, Shaq, and Kobe Bryant account for 18 titles since 1991. That’s difficult to ignore. The only championship team with a truly balanced attack and no clear star was the 2004 Detroit Pistons led by Rip Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, and Rasheed Wallace. Though for some reason, this Nuggets team may come from a totally new mould. A team like Memphis could slow down Denver’s lightning pace and take them out of their stride. Conversely, OKC and San Antonio better watch out because Denver can keep up with both teams on offense and have the athletes to wear down anyone. This will be a fascinating playoff, especially once we find out the seeding.
In your professional opinion, is the Miami Heat 26-game winning streak — the NBA’s second-longest ever — the result of great play or weak competition?
DOC: Mostly it is a result of strong play. We are watching what might be one of the greatest teams in NBA history right now. First off, LeBron James, the best NBA player in the world, has never played better. He is in such a zone of focus and control that it is mesmerizing to witness. During the streak, I’ve seen him singlehandedly erase double-digit fourth-quarter deficits and hit game-winning shots against Orlando, Boston, and Cleveland seemingly at will. Dwyane Wade plays like the all-NBA performer that we’re used to seeing, and the team is actually healthy. It really took a few years for them to learn exactly how to play together and to embrace “small ball” with Chris Bosh at the center position. Their defense can be completely suffocating when they want it to be. The Heat are just a step above everyone else in the league right, but I am sure they are praying that they aren’t peaking too early and that no serious injuries creep up .
The streak has come in a soft part of the Heat’s schedule. It also helps that at this time of the year, many teams have given up their hopes for the post-season, so some of them check out for the year. These are the dog days of the NBA schedule. It’s important to keep in mind that as the reigning champs, the Heat have a target on their back. Most teams get up to play the Heat and bring their best effort. But they really do want to break the record 33-game win streak, which is one of sports history’s longest-standing records.
In your professional opinion, what is the date of the next Miami Heat loss?
I think this record is too difficult to beat. Teams get hot, teams get cold. For them to win another eight in a row seems unfathomable. Logic would tell you that Chicago (March 27) and San Antonio (March 31) have the best chance to beat the Heat, but they’ve already been beaten by the lowly Wizards early this year and nearly lost to cruddy teams like Cleveland and Orlando during this streak. Any team can sneak up on the Heat — especially if they get cocky. It has to be completely exhausting to keep up this level of play every game. I really hope they beat the record though. It would be incredible to witness something like that in the modern era.
DOC: When Melo was out but Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire were still healthy, the Knicks could hold on just fine in the interim. But with all three of these guys out, the Knicks don’t have a chance. I was stunned that they even beat the Jazz in Utah with Chris Copeland and Kenyon Martin in the starting line up. The tough truth is that any NBA team would be pretty bad without their big three stars. Imagine the Heat without LeBron, Wade, and Bosh, or OKC without Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka. The Knicks were not built to withstand this type of misfortune. Their frontline backups are old as dirt, and now that Sheed is done for year, Kurt Thomas hobbled, and Marcus Camby in and out, the Knicks are fully relying on Martin and hoping for Stat’s return for the playoffs. These are daunting prospects to say the least.
To answer your question, are the Knicks better without Melo? Hell no. They need him in order to be competitive, but he needs to play at the same level he did at the beginning of the year: His shooting has cooled every month, and the ball sticks as he takes more low-percentage one-on-one shots. That hurts overall ball movement. And lingering injuries have really effected his defense and hustle too. Overall, the Knicks have been exposed as an Isolation team that hoists lots of threes, and the Knicks haven’t adjusted to the scouting. They’ve scored more than 100 points twice in their last 12 games. With Miami’s recent dominance, and New York’s difficulties dealing with defensive teams like Chicago and Indiana, the playoffs could be very rough unless they are healthy and playing at the top of their game. It’s a shame because the potential is huge, but I foresee some serious retooling in the off-season, especially if they get bounced from the playoffs early.
DOC: Let’s keep it real. Barring injury or a miraculous comeback for Derrick Rose, Miami is gonna steamroll the Eastern Conference. They are just in a different stratosphere than everyone else. So that Spurs-Pacers matchup ain’t gonna happen! Hypothetically, Indiana would be a slightly brutal Finals team because their offense is just anemic. You could probably say that for most of the Eastern Conference, but I suppose it would be healthier for the league if a big-market East team reached the finals, like NY, Boston, Brooklyn, or Chicago. But as long as LeBron is in the Finals, I guarantee new ratings records — regardless of opponent.
Also keeping it real, let’s be the better men and stop this 2002 Spurs propaganda. In 2013, the Spurs are highly entertaining. They are no longer a slow, defense-oriented team. They are one of the best offensive teams in the game, and are the best passing team. Market wise, I think San Antonio still rates bigger than Oklahoma City, so it’s an even match in that regard since OKC carries a little more star power. I would love to see the Spurs advance. It would be great if their post-season performance can finally match their impeccable regular season play of the last three years. Out West, I will be rooting for Denver, the Clips, and even the Lakers to upset a high seed. I want as many rounds of Kobe beast mode as possible. Can you smell the playoffs? I can!!!
–Doc Coyle, God Forbid
In the coming weeks of NBA action, what remains is high-impact ball and playoff atmospheres, mega-ballers and stubborn stoppers. Check in with Doc incessantly on the internet @DocCoyle and buy up all his band’s rad merch here!