Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Ultimate 1-on-1 Basketball Tournament: Round 1

I know it has been a while since I initially seeded the NBA's top players for this tournament, but this is just filler material for when I have no other good ideas for posts anyway...but on to the games!

#1 - Kobe Bryant vs. #16 Joe Johnson - The only advantage to Johnson in this matchup is that he starts with the ball. He scores a couple of points to take an early 4-0 lead on Bryant, but once Kobe gets the ball he goes on a tear. Johnson struggles to stay in front of Bryant defensively and Kobe gets to the hoop for a couple of impressive dunks. When Johnson gives him a little space, he buries a few jumpers in his face to go ahead 7-4 before missing another shot. Johnson never sees the lead again and Bryant moves on after an 11-6 win.

#2 - LeBron James vs. #15 Paul Pierce - One of Pierce's biggest assets is his strength, which is negated by James and his 6'8'', 260-pound frame. Pierce also cannot match the quickness of James and struggles to get anything going offensively, scoring just 3 points against The King. LeBron moves on.

#3 - Dwayne Wade vs. #14 Deron Williams - In the third game of the first round, Williams poses the most serious threat to the higher seed so far. He may lack the quickness of Wade or the ability to create space for his own shot, but Williams uses his strength to drive to the hoop and outmuscle Wade for a few early baskets to go up 3-0. Wade comes out cold and gives Williams the ball right back, while Williams extends his lead to 7-0.

Being the clutch performer he is, Wade recognizes his dire situation and turns it on, running off eight straight points to go up 8-7. Williams scores just twice the next time he has the ball to retake the lead, but Wade's quickness get him around Williams to the basket to tie it at nine. A missed three gives Williams hope, but Wade races around him for the putback dunk and hits a pull-up jumper at the elbow to seal the win, 11-9.

#4 - Kevin Durant vs. #13 Steve Nash - Both players present difficult matchups for each other, as Durant cannot stay in front of Nash or block his shot due to Nash's quickness and creativity around the hoop. Nash takes an early 5-0 lead but once Durant gets the ball, the six-inch height difference gives him uncontested shots at the hoop and unlimited post-up opportunities. Durant is so pure with his jumper that he runs off eight straight points, giving the ball back to Nash up 8-5. Nash pulls it back to 8-7, but misses a three-pointer that represents his final shot of the game. Durant seals up an 11-7 win a few minutes later.

#5 - Carmelo Anthony vs. #12 Amar'e Stoudemire - A definite mismatch in favor of Carmelo, as Stoudemire finds it difficult to drive around Anthony or post him up due to Melo's strength. Without his pick-and-roll partner Nash, Stoudemire musters just two points on mid-range jumpers (an improving area of his game) before bowing out in the biggest blowout so far.

#6 - Chris Paul vs. #11 Brandon Roy - This is where 1-on-1 differs from 5-on-5. Most anybody would take Paul over Roy if they were building a team, but Roy is the more impressive individual scorer and shows that against Paul. Roy runs off the game's first four points before getting his pocket picked by the quick hands of Paul, who find his way to the hoop for a few baskets. But Roy is just too prolific on offense, even against an excellent defender like Paul. No player reels off more than two consecutive points the rest of the way, but it's Roy who comes out on top in the end, 11-8, for the tournament's first upset.

#7 - Dirk Nowitzki vs. #10 Danny Granger - An awesome matchup between two of the league's top scorers, both over 6'9''. Granger takes advantage of receiving the ball first by toying with Dirk's lackluster defense, taking him to the basket multiple times before pulling back for jumpers. Before you know it, Granger is up 7-0. But Nowitzki storms back, using his height to drain three straight long-distance jumpers over Granger to cut the lead to 7-6.

Granger gets the ball back and scores twice before missing, giving Nowitzki an opportunity to win outright. Two three-pointers later, it's game point in favor of Nowitzki. But he takes it inside the three-point line and gets it stolen by Granger, who ties the game at 10 and takes this game into the tournament's first overtime. The players trade baskets until the game is 14-14, but Granger is the one who picks up consecutive baskets first as Dirk fatigues and goes cold from the three-point line. Upset number two in favor of Granger, 16-14.

#8 - Chris Bosh vs. #9 Dwight Howard - If people thought Nowitzki-Granger was a good matchup, they didn't see Bosh-Howard on the docket. Howard gets to the hoop for a few dunks and hits two baby hooks in the post to take a 4-0 lead. On the next possession, Bosh shows off his complete offensive arsenal, creating space with his quickness advantage for a few jumpers and getting to the hoop and reversing underneath the hoop to protect himself from the shotblocking of Howard. Howard finally denies Bosh at the rim after going down 6-4.

Howard gets back to 6-6, but his extremely limited offensive game is exposed as the matchup rolls on. They say great defense beats great offense, but bad offense beats itself and Bosh is long enough to affect Howard's game in the post. Bosh eventually takes this one, 11-8.

Round two coming soon...

1 comment:

  1. I would say Chris Paul Vs Brandon Roy deserves to be at Number 4!