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For over 25 years, Bob Matthews has held the title of Rochester's most popular sports writer/commentator. For over 20 years, Bob has hosted WHAM's nightly sports talk program...consistently ranked at the top of his time slot!
From 1978 to 2012, Bob Matthews was a sports columnist for the Times-Union and Democrat and Chronicle and a regular "As the Sports World Turns" contributor to the Gannett News Service. He is the only person to be selected Press-Radio Club Sportswriter of the Year (five times) and Sportscaster of the Year, and was a pioneer inductee into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame.
A Rochester native, Bob graduated from Brighton High School where he played varsity baseball, basketball and served as student council V-P. Bob is also a veteran, serving his country in Vietnam.
Always opinionated and outspoken, Bob's proudest accomplishment is advocating for Frontier Field. His all-time favorite athlete...former Red Wing Luke Easter. One of his sports regrets……not being around for the glory year of the Rochester Royals.
CHECKING OUT THE NBA FOR THE STRETCH RUN
HEAT AND LEBRON JAMES STILL THE CLASS OF THE LEAGUE
CELTICS HIGH MARKS FOR GRIT
NUGGETS AND PACERS ARE PRETENDERS
The NBA All-Star Game break starts Friday.
Here are some of my thoughts as the NBA prepares to enter the home stretch. I’m sure you won’t agree with at least a few of my observations and opinions:
Best team – Miami Heat…San Antonio (40-12) and Oklahoma City (39-12) have better records, but when the Heat (34-14) are completely healthy and focused, I don’t think any team can beat them in a best-of-seven series.
These are the NBA’s Big Three. I can’t see any other team winning this season’s championship.
Home Sweet Home – The teams with the three best records are a combined 67-8 at home (Spurs 22-2, Thunder 23-3 and Heat 22-3). Obviously, earning home-court advantage would mean a lot when and if these teams meet in the playoffs…Eight teams are a combined 168-35 (.832) at home.
The Two Sleepers – Chicago and Los Angeles Clippers…The Bulls have played surprisingly well (30-20) minus their best player (Derrick Rose). He’s due back soon after reconstructive knee surgery and they’ll be a handful for any opponent at money time…The Clippers have enough stars and depth to surprise but probably lack the big-game experience to go all the way.
The New York Knicks – They’re a much-improve team and fun to watch, but I believe they rely too much on league-leading scorer Carmelo Anthony (29.0 points per game). When he’s on his game – and he often is – the Knicks can beat any opponent. But I can’t see him doing it often enough to beat the Heat in a best-of-seven series.
The pretenders – Denver and Indiana. I don’t like the title hopes of teams so much better at home than on the road: Nuggets 22-3 home; 11-16 road)…Pacers (20-4 home; 11-16 road).
Most Underrated Team – San Antonio. The Spurs often are overlooked and underrated because they don’t play in a major market, but they still have the best fundamentals in the NBA. They have unselfish stars and excellent depth.
Most Underrated Player – Tony Parker (San Antonio). He has never made All-NBA First Team. This could be the year. He has taken over from Tim Duncan as the team’s main man and has much more left than Manu Ginobili.
Best Coach – Gregg Popovich (San Antonio). The Spurs used to win titles while stressing defense. Credit Popovich for making a seamless transition to an offensive team. He’s the NBA master at keeping his players fresh. Parker is the only player averaging more than 30 minutes per game (32.9). No one else averages 30 minutes. Duncan and Ginobilli often are rested with relatively minor injuries. Yet the Spurs entered Monday with the league’s best record.
The Proudest Team – Still the Boston Celtics. Sure, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are out, but they’re savvy warriors and the main reasons the team is 7-0 since losing star guard Rajon Rondo to a season-ending knee injury. They aren’t a title threat but they could beat any team other than Miami in the Eastern Conference playoffs…Celtics vs. Knicks would be an interesting first-round matchup.
The Best Player and Most Valuable Player – LeBron James (Miami). He turns 28 in two months and has never played better. He’s 49x65 from the floor in his last five games. He leads the NBA in points+rebounds+assists per game (42.0: 27.0 points+8.1 rebounds+6.9 assists). … I disagree with people who think Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant deserve to be rated higher than LeBron because they won more championships. How he carried the otherwise average Cleveland Cavaliers deep into the playoffs was at least impressive to me…Apologies to Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City). He’s my favorite player in the NBA and plays for my favorite team. But MVP voters who might prefer Durant over James this season would be reaching.
Most Overrated Team – Brooklyn Nets. The baseball Dodgers made a habit of disappointing fans and the Nets (29-22; picked by many – including me – to post a better record than the Knicks this season) are doing the same. Four of the big men (Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, Andray Blatche and Mirza Teletovic) are too slow and point guard Deron Williams has gone from near-elite to above average.
Worth Noting – The Western Conference entered Monday with a 165-127 (+38) advantage head-to-head against the Eastern Conference. Only 5 of the 10 East teams have winning records vs. the West…Home teams are 429-247 (.635)…Most field-goal attempts per game: Carmelo Anthony 22.1; Kobe Bryant 20.9; Russell Westbrook 18.7; Kyrie Irving 18.5; Kevin Durant 18.0.