Joakim Noah has become just the second European ever to win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year title. The Chicago Bulls and France big man is also the second European in as many years to be given the honour, after Spain’s Marc Gasol won for his stellar season with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2012/13. Congratulations to Noah, whose Bulls could do with some of that Defensive POY swagger to help them get back into their series with the Wizards.
A couple of weeks ago we introduced you to a Kickstarter to help fund a documentary on streetball legend Lloyd ‘Swee’ Pea’ Daniels. Here’s the trailer:
Just yesterday we tweeted you, the BiE faithful, to help get this movie over the finish line. At the time it still needed another $12,400 to reach it’s total. As of this afternoon, on the final full day of fundraising, The Legend of Swee’ Pea has surpassed its $50,000 target.
I think it’s safe to say the European basketball community did its part to get the movie made so great job everybody. Daniels, who had several stints playing in Europe, has a fascinating story, and we’re looking forward to seeing it hit the big screen.
It’s been a long and busy week in Basketball for Europe’s top teams and players and tonight we could see even more drama. Let’s get you set for another wild week of playoff action in Euroleague and the NBA.
As fearlessly predicted by BiE Barcelona got the brooms out against Galatasaray. While the Istanbul club was always expected to fall in this series, they put up a brave fight to make Barca earn the sweep on Monday before falling 78-75. This makes it five final fours in six years for Barcelona, with the one they missed out on notably having taken place in their backyard.
A reverse sweep is the only way Olympiacos will prevent there being a Clasico at the semi-final stage. Trailing 2-0 to Real Madrid, the back-to-back reigning champions need something big at the SEF later today. This column has predicted Real getting the job done in four games but for the Reds to force a Game 4, they must prove the bookies wrong as Olympiacos are -1.5 underdogs on their own floor.
Before getting to the basketball issues with the next game, a quick point. Don’t do proposals at games.
Nope, not buying it CSKA. You can’t fool me. Sure, I know you’ve got a better team than Panathinaikos but I’m not going to let an impressive Game 2 win over the Greens make me think you can finish this off in Athens. It just wouldn’t seem right for CSKA to take care of this in a comfortable fashion. Yes, the Greens have all sorts of issues but tonight’s Game 3 screams of CSKA gonna CSKA. I’m locking this one down for a Game 4 at the very minimum.
In a shock to pretty much no-one, EA7 Milano and Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv have the makings of the best series in the playoffs. After a dramatic overtime win for Maccabi in Game 1, Milano came back to win 91-77 in Game 2. Home court still favours the Israelis but it would be a brave observer who calls this series ending before Game 5. Admittedly BiE did just that, now we’re frantically reconsidering.
Before jumping across the pond, the ABA Liga has announced its team of the year. DeMarcus Nelson (Crvena Zvezda), Bogdan Bogdanoivc (Partizan), Dario Saric (Cibona), Joffrey Lauvergne (Partizan), and Boban Marjanovic (Crvena Zvezda) received team of the year honours. This week also sees the culmination of the ABA Liga with the Final Four in Belgrade. Crvena Zvezda takes on Cibona in the first semi-final on Thursday while Cedevita play Partizan in the second semi on Friday. The winners will meet in Sunday’s final.
And now to jump across the pond…
March Madness ended on Monday. On Tuesday Dario Saric, having just signed a new agent, delivered a triple-double with perfect timing to get the attention of NBA scouts. His 20 points, 13 board, and 10 assists in Cibona’s 96-70 Croatian Cup semi-final win over KK Zagreb. Super Dario certainly knows when to pick his moment.
A couple of weeks back we told you about a great Kickstarter looking for support in developing a documentary on Lloyd “Swee’ Pea” Daniels, a player who spent a couple of seasons in Europe having risen from playground legend to the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs. Right now it’s not looking like this film will get made as the producers are a long way short of their fund-raising goal.
BiE has literally zero bias here, no-one in the site stands to make a dime from the movie. We just really want it to get made because it looks awesome. From the footage we’ve seen outside of the extended trailer above (which for rights reasons we can’t share), it looks like a tale any basketball junkie wants to see told.
So, purely because we think you’ll enjoy this movie, we’re urging you to go to the Kickstarter page here and pledge your support.
Those familiar with this site’s Twitter handle may be aware that our editor, Emmet Ryan, spent a few years working in the gambling business. He looks at how the bookies see the odds for the NCAA Championship and what it says about their confidence in the four combatants.
Lets take a look at the odds (NCAA Basketball championship odds taken from a prominent bookmaker) and see what the bookies are seeing.
There are two quick takes here. Firstly, despite it being an utterly awful year for the SEC per the stats, the oddsmakers love Florida and Kentucky and it makes sense. The Gators have experience, talent, and have the edge in every area of note over all three of their opponents. Being odds-on with two games to go, even if it’s only narrowly, is no easy feat and Billy Donovan’s team must be seeing a lot of action. Make no mistake, this is a defensive stance from the bookies. They expect Florida to beat UConn and to then get a heap of action for the championship game on Monday. This is an effort to force that run until after Saturday.
The other key observation is importance of profile in terms of action. Wisconsin have done more over the course of this season to merit support, despite an ugly start to Big Ten play, but they haven’t laid a market down. Kentucky has the profile of being Kentucky, John Calipari as coach, and a lottery pick in Julius Randle. Throw in a hot run through March Madness and suddenly a team that lost three times to Florida is second favourite.
The value play here is, in fact, the team favoured to win it all. At -120, Florida aren’t priced out of the market and unless you seriously think they will lose to the Huskies, a bettor can back them now and then lay their bet with a bit of wriggle room on Monday.
Also, admittedly, possibly the only Eurodance tribute to Goran Dragic ever. It’s so good we briefly considered forgiving Lipko, then we remembered that we hate Lipko.
You’ve just punched your ticket to March Madness in your senior season. Everything is great but for one thing, you’re having season-ending surgery before the Big Dance. Aerris Smith of the Wofford Terriers is just the best. Listen to the end and blub, blub all you want. Blubbing is manly.