ONE: Haven’t done an Aussie Roundup in a little while – guess I’m still recovering from the tragic news of Bogut’s injury. But there is some cause for rejoice for Aussie NBA fans. In case you weren’t following the blow-out that was Game 2 of Phoenix vs Portland, our own Patty Mills got a 7-minute run in which he drained 2-4 shots (including a three) for six points. Patty hasn’t recorded any minutes since that game, and you’d think his court time will probably be limited to blow-outs. But nonetheless, it’s just terrific to have an Aussie get some playoff minutes after what happened to Bogut. Here’s a very cool vid of Patty’s game put together by the guys at HoopCity (more on them later):

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Speaking of the Bogey Man, he’s been in and around the news despite sitting on the sidelines. Here’s a smattering:

- Bogut frustrated, but still believes the Bucks can beat Atlanta (Channel 3000)
- Bogut wins Slam Online’s Fantasy Award for the Block category (Slam Online)
- A good article on what lies ahead for Bogut and Milwaukee (Basketball Betting)
- Bogut ranks #9th in Dime Magazine’s ‘Top 10 Most Skilled 7-footers’ (Dime Magazine)
- Bill Simmons can prove Bogut’s fluke injury was unfair (ESPN)
- Bogut ranks 5th in the NBA’s Most Improved Award (NBA.com)

That last one is worth touching on. Bogut received 7 first place votes in the award, 17 second place votes, and 7 third place votes, to finish with 93 in total. He was marginally behind Durant, George Hill and Marc Gasol who all finished on 101, a long way behind Brooks with 403. It’s a phenomenal effort for an established player in this league. Well done Drew!

TWO: I watched the Thunder-Lakers game today. It was an absolutely electric performance by OKC, and it reminded me a lot of the Warriors-Mavs series a few years back that ended up in a huge upset. The Thunder were so much better than the Lakers today it was laughable. What impressed me most were the hustle plays, the offensive rebounding, the relentless fast breaks, and the composure to withstand the Lakers mini-runs. After the game Durant and Westbrook spoke like men on a mission – not the excited youngsters that you’d otherwise expect to be getting ahead of themselves.

The Lakers are in a real dogfight here. I still expect them to win the series, but there is a nervousness I’m seeing from Lakers fans that I haven’t seen for some time. I think most of it stems from Kobe not being Kobe over these last few games. If you look back at the first-round series over the last two years (Denver in ‘08 and Houston in ‘09), you will see a very efficient, very effective Kobe Bryant setting the tone for his teammates early in their playoff run. This series, from the four game so far, we have only seen one true Kobe-esque game. There are lots of theories as to why this is the case. There’s the ‘Kobe is physically worn down’ theory. There’s the ‘Kobe is in a shooting slump’ theory. There’s the ‘Kobe is still trying to feed his ego and win the Durant vs Kobe matchup’ theory. One of the most interesting pieces I’ve read about all this is this take from Silver Screen and Roll. The title for me sums it up perfectly: Live by the Kobe, die by the Kobe. That is what the Lakers are demonstrating right now. That without transcendent playoff performances from their leader, they cannot get it done. It’s strange. All this time we thought the Lakers were the most supremely talented team in the league, and that Kobe Bryant was “lucky” for being surrounded with this elite cast. Well, right now, they are looking more dependent on him than ever.

THREE: One of the most fascinating stories from the playoffs so far, for me, has been the resurgence of the Boston Celtics. Our good pal Loscy has written a great piece summing up their run so far, about the Celtics overcoming their biggest opponent. That is, themselves.

FOUR: Readers who have followed this site for a couple of years may remember the Australian-made HoopCity Magazine that I’ve plugged from time to time. Hoopcity launched as an Australian basketball magazine in 2008 by MSF Basketball – a group dedicated to helping & promoting basketball in Australia. While its launch “test-run” issue was a great success selling up to 1000 copies across Australia, the timing was not the best due to the lack of corporate support for the sport at the time.  But it’s a new era for Australian basketball right now. The NBA and NBL are now both back on FTA TV, something that the MSF guys pushed for years to the networks (getting features in magazines and newspapers & starting the online petition with about 5000 signatures, including Bogut’s).  The MSF team knew it was time to re-open the Hoopcity gates and start building once again.

Hoopcity.com.au is a new Aussie basketball website being developed to cover all levels of the sport in Australia. Focusing on feature articles, Australia’s top players and videos rather than daily news and results, Hoopcity claims the title of being Australia’s only hoop-focused “online magazine.” I encourage everyone to head over and check out the website, and throw your full support behind what HoopCity are trying to do.

And while we’re in the mood for shout-outs, everyone should go check out the new-look Two Sides of the Hoop. Paul and Ryan, the guys behind this site, have been regular contributors to our Doubting Thomas Awards all season long. Make sure you go check out their site and also their recent piece on Lebron James. Well worth the read.

FIVE: Manu Gi-nose-bleed. That is all.

SIX: Didn’t see the Blazers pulling out a win in Game 4? Join the club. After watching the Suns dismantle them in Game 3 I thought this series was dead. But then again I also thought the chances of Brandon Roy appearing in the first round were also dead. The moral of the story is, don’t bet against Brandon Roy, or the Blazers. Blazers Edge has you covered on Game 4, and has another reason to rejoice for Blazers fans.


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