The Speakeasy Sports boys are back to talk some NBA right before All-Star weekend. Marlowe Alter, Chris Manning and Zak Kolesar are going more in depth on the issues regarding trade rumors, All-Star festivities, LeBron’s insane streak, concussion tests and much more. Make sure to drop in with the NBA Podcast crew before the All-Star festivities start Friday and get caught up with the recent state of the Association.
We are introducing two new elements to the podcast post in which we each answer three questions not mentioned in the podcast called “3-on-3” along with a video. On this edition we discuss what makes the NBA All-Star Game the best in pro sports, Paul Pierce’s impressive run and the musical performer you’re most excited to see this weekend. In the video, the three discuss All-Star weekend in its entirety.
1. Can Paul Pierce power the seventh-place Boston Celtics into the playoffs this season?
Marlowe Alter: What the Celtics have done since Rajon Rondo went down (8-1 including wins over the Heat, Clippers, Lakers, Nuggets and Bulls) has been spectacular. Their ball movement has been much better and while Pierce has played well, veteran role players like Jason Terry and Jeff Green have finally found some consistency, allowing Boston to morph into the team many thought we’d see earlier in the season. With the Eastern Conference being mediocre once again, the Celtics just need to play roughly .500 ball the rest of the way and they might even move up in the standings. The only team that I could see even remotely challenging Boston would be a healthy Philadelphia team (sigh). If Andrew Bynum ever gets on the floor and if Thaddeus Young comes back from his hamstring injury in early March, a team of Bynum, Young, all-star point guard Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner could make a run at the playoffs.
Chris Manning: My gut tells me no. With Andrew Bynum likely (maybe?) coming back to the Sixers, Philadelphia is going to be too much to handle. Jrue Holiday and company are in 10th place right now, but I really think their best basketball is still ahead. Plus, the Celtics not only lost Rajon Rondo for the season, but also Jared Sullinger. Both are key pieces that will be hard to replace, especially in Rondo’s case. Sans a big trade that nets them a Josh Smith-level player, this team will cool off and be left out in the cold come June.
Zak Kolesar: In the absence of Rajon Rondo, the Celitcs have gone 8-1 and Pierce has averaged 7.4 assists, 9.9 rebounds and 36.9 minutes, and he recorded a triple-double last Sunday. However, I believe the C’s will run out of gas due to the additional injury of Jared Sullinger and the fact that veterans Pierce and Kevin Garnett have played in all 51 games thus far. They will burn out soon enough, and I don’t think the Milwaukee Bucks will fall so behind that they allow Boston to slip in.
2. Do you believe that the NBA All-Star Game is the best in all of professional sports?
MA: To me, baseball’s all-star game is the best because it is the most competitive. With home field advantage in the World Series on the line, everyone plays to win. That classic 15-inning game at Yankee Stadium in 2008 will forever jump to my mind and that level of competition hasn’t been seen in the NBA, NFL or NHL. And while many people may not agree with Commissioner Bud Selig’s tactics, it has turned baseball’s all-star game from possibly the worst in professional sports, to the most exciting and most competitive.
CM: Without question. It is always entertaining, high scoring and features the best players in the game. Unlike the Pro Bowl, the players come to compete and legitimately play hard. And unlike the MLB All-Star game, it is only the best players – not a player from each team. And unlike the MLS All Star game, people actually watch. No matter how you look it, the NBA All- Star game is the best around, and it is not even close.
ZK: Most certainly, due to the fact that overpaid MLB stars have made the All-Star Game’s allure of home-field advantage in the playoffs and that NFL stars don’t put forth full effort or don’t even show up to the Pro Bowl. With all the other festivities on All-Star weekend aside, the game in itself – which is played with very little defensive effort – subsumes the NBA’s current culture of mega teams. The zenith of mega teams takes place every year at the ASG, so fans get the most entertainment value out of their hypothetical dollar.
3. Which artist is the most intriguing performer during All-Star weekend?
MA: I love me some Alicia Keys! I don’t care that she just sang the National Anthem at the Super Bowl and performed at the Grammy’s. While I do love John Legend, who will be singing the Anthem with Ne-Yo, I keep on fallin’ for Alicia. Here’s to Mrs. Swizz Beatz performing a record from either of her first two albums.
CM: I’m admittedly a sucker for some Alicia Keys (kind of like how Sam Amico is a sucker for Ke$ha), but hands down this weekend is all out Fall Out Boy. “From Under the Cork Tree” is one of my favorite albums, and I still listen to “Infinity on High” from time to time. Their new single is good, and 2 Chainz himself is in the new video. Mr. Epps had the best 2012 of anyone, and if there is even a chance of him showing up with a flamethrower, I can get behind it. Make it happen, David Stern. The people want 2 Chainz.
ZK: Definitely Fall Out Boy, and not just because 2 Chainz is featured in their comeback song “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up).” They haven’t released any material since 2009, and they have a project with Jay Z when they worked with Def Jam Island. They’re an exciting band to watch perform with a wonderful singer, Patrick Stump, who can deliver a great live performance.