Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sir Charles in Playoff Form
By: Jim Williams
The Examiner Newspapers

April 20, 2006
Washington, DC

The NBA Playoffs are here and TNT Studio analyst Charles Barkley is always at his best. When you add Doug Collins and Reggie Miller things begin to get out of hand.

Barkley on how successful the Phoenix Suns will be in the Playoffs: “The Suns are built for the regular season and every (Playoff) series is going to be tough for them. When you live by your offensive three-point shooting then any bad night you can lose a game. I think the Suns are always going to struggle because they don’t rebound the ball, and they don’t play good defense. They have a really small team. Steve Nash has been fantastic as usual, and I think Shawn Marion is the most underrated player in the NBA behind Elton Brand. But in my 20 years involved with the NBA, I’ve realized that the game always comes down to rebounding and defense. I think the Suns are too small to win it all.”

Collins on the Phoenix Suns’ strengths: “The Suns have a tremendous weapon and that’s their ability to shoot the ball. When you play them you have to understand that you’re never out of the game, and they are never out of the game because of their ability to score quickly. The Suns are in the best bracket, they are in a great spot in the two-seed to get back to the Western Conference Finals (because they will) not have to see San Antonio or Dallas until then.”

Miller on the strengths of the Washington Wizards: “You never know what a scorer might do come Playoff time, and one thing that Washington has is they have two legitimate scorers in Antwan Jamison and Gilbert Arenas. And now that Caron Butler is back in the starting line-up they are starting to round in to shape.”

Barkley on the LA Clippers and the Denver Nuggets: “The two most intriguing teams in the Western Conference are the Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets…This is the most wide-open I’ve ever seen the NBA Playoffs. If the Clippers make it to the Western Conference Finals I wouldn’t be shocked, and if Denver makes it to the Western Conference Finals I wouldn’t be shocked. The Clippers have two things- they have Elton Brand and they’ve got the cocky attitude and swagger of Sam Cassell. They are the underdogs and with their confidence they are going to be dangerous.”

Miller on the unpredictability of the Playoffs: “I think the Playoffs are a lot like the NCAA tournament, you never know what you’re going to get. You have two strong powerhouses in each conference, but everyone is an ankle twist away from falling in the first or second round.”

Miller on the performance of his former Indiana Pacers team: “I’m not huge on what Indiana’s doing (at the end of the season), even though everyone says they are rounding into Playoff shape. They haven’t played anyone (recently) and in April no one plays, especially the teams with bad records because they’re just trying to figure out where they’re going on vacation when the season’s over.”

Barkley on LA Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James: “I think Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA, but his team has a ways to go and they could lose in the first round. Same thing with LeBron (James) who’s a terrific player, but (the Cavs) could lose in the first round. Both of these teams are legit contenders, but they both are going to have a tough first round series. Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA today and LeBron James is in the top five, but if either of them lost the first round, I wouldn’t be shocked.”

Miller on a potential match-up between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards: “If the Cavaliers get Washington in the first round, there are a lot of subplots in that series with Larry Hughes going back to play his old team and LeBron James’ first time in the Playoffs… You never want to go against a scorer who anytime he comes down the court can jack shots and is going to have the ball 85 percent like Gilbert Arenas is going to have. I know LeBron (James) is going to be fantastic (in the Playoffs), but I think Gilbert Arenas and the experience (the Wizards) gained last year when they got swept by Miami, that’s going to pay dividends.”

Barkley on the difference between playing in the regular season versus the Playoffs: “The difference in the Playoffs is that you’re playing against a good team everyday, you’re not playing one good team, then two bad, then two good ones. The one thing that I learned in my 16 years is that you might take a glimpse of tape before games, but (in the Playoffs) you sit down and go over tapes every single day from game to game… that’s when you find out who can really play and who can really coach. If you kick a team’s butt in Game 1, they are going to make you change your game in Game 2. I always believe the best team wins a seven-game series whether they are up or down (at the beginning of the series).”

Barkley on the chances of Milwaukee Buck forward (and 2005 #1 draft pick) Andrew Bogut winning this year’s Rookie of the Year award: “(Andrew Bogut has) had a really solid year, but the reason he has no shot at the Rookie of the Year award is because Chris Paul is the best rookie by far. That kid is just fantastic. What (Paul) did in New Orleans/Oklahoma City was fantastic. But I think Milwaukee made a great selection, (Bogut) is going to be solid for the next few years and he’s going to keep getting better, especially when Milwaukee puts better people around him. But Chris Paul has been the best rookie, he understands the game…Chris Paul is a true point guard like Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. He makes people around him better, he’s not just getting his numbers.”

Barkley on whether or not the Miami Heat have a chance at advancing to the NBA Finals: “NO! (Miami) can’t beat Detroit. They’re not athletic enough and they have trouble guarding athletic people, guards especially…If you take away (Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade), who is their best player? They can’t answer that question. What type of team is Miami? We know Detroit and San Antonio are fantastic defensively and really good offensively, but they are defensive teams…Even though the Suns are flawed, they know they are a offensive team. A team has to have an identity and Miami does not have an identity.”

Miller on L.A. Clippers forward Elton Brand: “I think (Elton Brand) came into training camp shedding about 25 pounds and working on his perimeter shot. I think from day one, he was committed to the franchise. He understood that with them bringing in Sam Cassell and Cuttino Mobley, they had a legitimate shot to be a powerhouse and that is reflected in his play.”

Barkley, when asked what he would do if he were Jim Dolan running the New York Knicks: “I’d kill myself. I’ve been associated with the NBA for 20 years and I’ve never seen a situation that bad before…I don’t know what the hell they are going to do...They haven’t made a trade in the last two or three years that has made any sense.”

Barkley on center Eddy Curry and the New York Knicks: “Do I think Eddy Curry has potential? Of course I do, but right now, no one can tell me that the jury is not still out on Eddy Curry. Dwight Howard is going to be an All-Star for the next 10 years, Chris Bosh is going to be an All-Star for the next 10 years, Pau Gasol is going to be an All-Star for the next 10 years. You can’t say that about Eddy Curry or anybody on the New York Knicks.”

Miller on forward Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves: “If I’m Kevin McHale, I’d do Kevin Garnett a favor and trade him. He’s done everything for your franchise and he’s never come out publicly and said that he wants to be traded, but (Garnett) needs to be on a winner and I don’t see him winning anytime soon.”

Barkley on his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers: “I voted (the Sixers) my most disappointing team of the year. I picked them to win their division (at the start of the season), but they’ve played terrible pretty much all season…I wanted them to do well, but they should be a lot better. I’m really disappointed in Samuel Dalembert, I thought it was time for him to be a star, but he has not played well. I’m not sure what Philadelphia is going to do. Allen Iverson needs to be taken off the point (guard position). He dominates the ball too much. They’ve got to get the ball to that kid (Andre) Iguodala. He has so much talent. Iverson has to accept the fact that they can’t run the offense through him the entire time.”

Barkley on Philadelphia 76ers forward Chris Webber: “I think (the media) give Chris Webber a bad rap. Is he the same player he used to be? Of course not, but let me tell you something about Chris Webber that people never realize: he has won everywhere he has been. Obviously, you think about (the University of) Michigan, then he got Golden State in the Playoffs; he got the Washington Wizards in the Playoffs; and when he went to Sacramento he made them a legit contender for four or five years. He gets the brunt of the abuse, but he understands the game.”

TNT, ABC, ESPN and ESPN 2 will be airing 40 consecutive days of basketball with ESPN and SIRIUS handling all the radio broadcasts through the NBA Finals.

Will it be Detroit, San Antonio, Dallas, or New Jersey? Maybe someone else, it is really possible. But one thing we do know and that is it will not be the Knicks, right Chuck?

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