Category Archives: NBA

A Rather Quick 2015 NBA Playoffs Preview: First Round

254px-NBA_Logo.svg_The 2015 NBA Playoffs are FINALLY here.  And while my New York Knicks are not in it (again), there are a lot of storylines to pay attention to in the opening round.

The storylines in the Western Conference could carry interest alone.

Will the defending champion San Antonio Spurs get back to the NBA Finals as a road underdog?  Will the Los Angeles Clippers continue to underachieve in the playoffs?  Will MVP candidates Stephen Curry and James Harden lead their teams on long playoff runs?  Speaking of Curry, will the Golden State Warriors validate its historic regular season with an appearance in the Finals?

The storylines in the East are a bit more interesting than last year’s playoff showing.

Will LeBron James help take Cleveland to the promised land and deliver a title?  Will the Atlanta Hawks validate their stellar regular season with a deep playoff run of their own?  Will Derrick Rose remain healthy throughout these playoffs?  Will the sorry-ass bottom half of the playoff field go the hell away quickly?

Inquiring minds want to know.

As this preview is concerned, this will include very quick, straight-to-the-point analysis on each series.  Since I have a day job and am doing this shit for free, this won’t be but so in-depth.

So without further ado, here is how I have things shaping out in the NBA Playoff’s first round (in a rather quick fashion)…

Eastern Conference

1. Atlanta Hawks vs. 8. Brooklyn Nets

Analysis:  The Hawks had its best regular season, playing as a team with no superstar but rather as a collection of stars.  Led by coach/former Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta has become “San Antonio East”.  Brooklyn is the typical underachiever, having players that should speak to a better record.  Look for the Nets to flop their asses out of the playoffs – quickly.

Prediction:  Hawks in 5

2. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 7. Boston Celtics

Analysis:  James, Kyrie Irving, and to a lesser extent Kevin Love are on a mission.  The Cavs have gelled together at the right time and should demolish the Celtics on their way to a second round date with the Bulls.  The Celtics will use this playoff appearance as a teachable experience.

Prediction: Cavaliers in a sweep

3. Chicago Bulls vs. 6. Milwaukee Bucks

Analysis:  The Bulls have the luxury of playing at least four home playoff games.  Milwaukee is only a short drive from Chicago, and the Bucks’ fan support has been lacking to say the least.  The only thing that would prevent a Bulls’ sweep is something happening to Derrick Rose.

Prediction: Bulls in a sweep

4. Toronto Raptors vs. 5. Washington Bullets

Analysis:  In what should be the most competitive series in the East, both squads are young and talented.  The Raptors are exciting and well-coached, while the Bullets have veteran leadership (Paul Pierce, Nene, Marcin Gortat) mixed with good young talent (John Wall and Bradly Beal).  Now if Pierce’s critique of the team prevents the Bullets from moving forward, it just speaks to the team’s lack of heart.  That said, I don’t think Pierce will allow Washington to fizzle in the first round.

Prediction: Bullets in 6

Western Conference

1. Golden State Warriors vs. 8. New Orleans Pelicans

Analysis:  I am happy to have an opportunity to watch Anthony Davis in his first playoff series.  Too bad it will be a quick series.  Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Co. will make sure of that.

Prediction: Warriors in 5

2. Houston Rockets vs. 7. Dallas Mavericks

Analysis:  While he does not historically play well in the postseason, James Harden will flex his muscles and get his boys past the veteran Mavs.  While I think Mavs’ coach Rick Carlisle is one of the best in the business, too much internal friction (ahem, Rajon Rondo) will be an impediment to Dallas advancing to the second round.

Prediction: Rockets in 6

3. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 6. San Antonio Spurs

Analysis:  This will be the most competitive first round series in the playoffs, period.  It will be competitive to the point that the winner of this series will represent the West in the NBA Finals (sorry Golden State).  The Spurs and Clippers are coached by the two best in the sport in Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers, respectively.  While I almost NEVER like to pick against the Spurs, I’m going with the Clippers.  Not only will homecourt make a difference, I think that Chris Paul and Rivers are motivated off of their second round series loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder last season.  So early congrats are in order for the Clippers on making the NBA Finals (something tells me I will regret picking against Pop and the Spurs).

Prediction: Clippers in 7

4. Portland Trail Blazers vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies*

*Grizzlies will have home-court advantage

Analysis:  As much as I like Memphis and their style of play, I must pose the following question: will ANYONE outside of both Oregon and Tennessee give a damn about this series?  I’m not saying both teams aren’t nice.  In addition to my earlier comment on Memphis, Portland has a bevy of talented cats.  I think this is a bad matchup for the Blazers, who are not ready for the Grizzlies’ physicality.

Prediction:  Grizzlies in 6

Evaluating Pre-Season NBA Picks at the All-Star Break

254px-NBA_Logo.svg_Given that we are at the All-Star break, I will take this time to evaluate my preseason NBA picks.  I usually do this to remind myself how terrible of a prognosticator I tend to be from time to time, but follow me nonetheless…

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

Predicted

  1. Toronto Raptors
  2. New York Knicks
  3. Brooklyn Nets
  4. Boston Celtics
  5. Philadelphia 76ers

Actual

  1. Raptors
  2. Nets
  3. Celtics
  4. Sixers
  5. Knicks

Analysis:  Not a shocker that the Raptors are running away with this moribund division.  What’s shocking to me is how bad my Knicks are.  The good news is we are having lots of salaries coming off of the books this season.  I sure hope Phil Jackson knows what the hell he is doing.

Central Division

Predicted

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
  2. Chicago Bulls
  3. Indiana Pacers
  4. Milwaukee Bucks
  5. Detroit Pistons

Actual

  1. Bulls
  2. Cavs
  3. Bucks
  4. Pistons
  5. Pacers

Analysis:  This has shaped out to a competitive division at the top.  Only three games separate the Bulls, Cavs and Bucks.  Speaking of the Bucks, Milwaukee has exceeded everyone’s expectations.  Looks like Jason Kidd knows what the hell he is doing after all.  As for the other two squads at the top, it should be fun who will earn his squad the division title: LeBron James or Derrick Rose.

Southeast Division

Predicted

  1. Charlotte Hornets
  2. Miami Heat
  3. Washington Wizards
  4. Atlanta Hawks
  5. Orlando Magic

Actual

  1. Hawks
  2. Wizards
  3. Hornets
  4. Heat
  5. Magic

Analysis:  Nice to see the Hornets fulfilling my bold prediction  in the preseason.  Gee, talk about a no-brainer.  While I have struck out on Charlotte, I have really been wrong on the Hawks.  The fact they have the best record in the East should be a surprise given the fact that they are healthy and have a head coach who learned under the great Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.  The Wizards are healthier and is poised to make a run at a fourth seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.  As for the Heat, think they miss LeBron right now?

Western Conference

Southwest Division

Predicted

  1. San Antonio Spurs
  2. Houston Rockets
  3. Dallas Mavericks
  4. Memphis Grizzlies
  5. New Orleans Pelicans

Actual

  1. Grizzlies
  2. Rockets
  3. Mavericks
  4. Spurs
  5. Pelicans

Analysis:  Damn, who’d seen the Grizzlies coming?  Hell even their fans didn’t see this coming.  Those boys have been playing together for a long time, and their chemistry shows on the court.  And while the Rockets and Mavs are doing as well as I thought, the Spurs seem to be just middling along while waiting for the playoffs to begin.

Northwest Division

Predicted

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder
  2. Portland Trailblazers
  3. Denver Nuggets
  4. Utah Jazz
  5. Minnesota Timberwolves

Actual

  1. Blazers
  2. Thunder
  3. Nuggets
  4. Jazz
  5. Wolves

Analysis:  While the Thunder have struggled through some injuries, specifically to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Blazers have taken advantage in a big way.  Given how bad the rest of the division is, it seems that Portland should moonwalk its way to the division title.

Pacific Division

Predicted

  1. Los Angeles Clippers
  2. Golden State Warriors
  3. Phoenix Suns
  4. Los Angeles Lakers
  5. Sacramento Kings

Actual

  1. Warriors
  2. Clippers
  3. Suns
  4. Kings
  5. Lakers

Analysis:  I knew the Clippers and the Warriors would be good.  I didn’t think the Warriors would be THAT good.  Credit to first year coach Steve Kerr for getting the best out of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the crew.  Though the Clips are underachievers at the moment, they are going to be dangerous come playoff time.  And who knew that the Lakers will suck THIS bad.  Maybe Kobe should not have signed such a huge extension (not that I would have turn down that money either)?

The Knicks Are a Hot-Ass Mess

ny-knicks-logoThings are quite interesting in New York.

Players are arguing.  Carmelo Anthony wants to fight Tim Hardaway, Jr.  Hardaway wants to fight Anthony.  Everyone wants to fight Anthony.  No one (seemingly) respects head coach Derek Fisher.

The players want to abandon the triangle offense that new team president Phil Jackson and Fisher have have spent significant time attempting to install.  Never mind the fact that Jackson won a total of 11 titles as coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers running the triangle — an offensive system which is based on post play, passing (got that ‘Melo?), and off-ball movement.

Welcome to the 2014-2015 New York Knicks.

My Knicks have evolved into such a fucking joke.  I mean, ‘Melo and the gang is trying to go away from an offensive system that has become famous because it was the system that helped players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant win six and five championships, respectively.

Why do players on a team that had missed the playoffs last season want to dismiss a proven offensive philosophy?  It’s the same reason why such friction has led to a 4-19 record, the worst start in Knicks history.

Again, because the Knicks are a fucking joke.

Looks like the only way to fix this mess is to do two things.  Either someone needs to goad Jackson into coaching this wretched team, or get rid of everyone – including ‘Melo.

In re-signing with the Knicks (and filming that “look-at-me” documentary where he basically admitted he should have signed with the Chicago Bulls) ‘Melo proved what many had opined for a long time: he is not a winner – not even close.  And as long as my Knicks make his ass the centerpiece of the team, the long it will take for them to return to the promised land.

That said, as the saying goes “in every cloud there is a silver lining” – or is it the other way around?  Anyway, most of those terrible-ass contracts will be come off the books.  No Amare Stoudamire, and hopefully no JR Smith.  Even though Smith has an option to exercise at the end of the season (he knows he won’t get his high salary anywhere else, so he may exercise it), the Knicks’ brass should eat the contract and get rid of him.

Bring in superstars who are proven winners next season such as Marc Gasol and maybe Kevin Durant, and we may be onto something.  ‘Melo needs to play with such stars to show him what it means to be a winner.  And I really think that would be the likely scenario.

Until then, me and other Knicks fans will have to suffer through the misery that is the 2014-2015 season.  Damn.

It’s Time to Question Derrick Rose’s Focus

chicago-bulls-logo2Let me start this rant by saying I like Derrick Rose – a lot.

Rose could sometimes be the most candid athlete in professional sports.  In a sports world where most athletes tend to dish out played-out cliche after played-out cliche (think “at the end of the day…”, “give credit to…”, and my all-time favorite “both teams played hard my man…”), Rose’s candor is usually well-welcomed by media and fans alike.

Except on this particular occasion.

When asked about his long-term future after practice yesterday, Rose said the following:

“I’m good, man.  I felt like I’ve been managing myself pretty good.  I know a lot of people get mad when they see me sit out or whatever, but I think a lot of people don’t understand that … when I sit out it’s not because of this year.

“I’m thinking about long term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball.  Having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to, I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past.  [I’m] just learning and being smart.”

That’s not good man, not at all.

Color me disappointed in what Rose said.  This to me will open him up to question just where his heart is.  Is he all about the team and playing basketball, or is he just content in collecting a paycheck?

And before y’all go off on me for chastising a man who cares about his health, let me enlighten y’all on a few things.

First of all, this ain’t football, boxing or MMA.  All three of those sports are high-collision sports where your life could end on one play or one hit.  Of course dudes in those sports are concerned for their long-term health and well-being, and rightfully so.

However, this is the game of basketball.  It’s not a high-collision sport.  Dudes do not have to worry about their lives ending on one play or from one hit.  And more importantly, NBA contracts are guaranteed.

Let me repeat that again.  The NBA has GUARANTEED contracts.

Rose signed a five-year contract extension with the Bulls for $94.8 million.  He is also making several million dollars in endorsements (mostly from Adidas).  This dude’s ass is already set for life!  Why in the hell is he worrying about saving himself after basketball?

Let me tell y’all something: this shit is not going to play in Chicago.

People already have questioned why Rose decided to sit out the entire 2012-2013 season.  Now people will assume that Rose did not have his heart in coming back to play for the Bulls during the team’s playoff run.  Does he really want it?

The only way Rose makes this go away is to play as hard and help the Bulls win big.  Otherwise, he will be known as that dude who took the money and ran.

Between Rose’ quotes and the Bears’ poor performance this season (especially the Sunday night debacle vs. the Packers), I really feel sorry for Chicago sports fans.

 

 

2014-2015 NBA Season Preview: Who Will Win it All?

254px-NBA_Logo.svg_The 2014-2015 NBA regular season is going to start in less than four hours.  I.  Cannot.  Wait.

While the previous NBA rants were detailed conference previews, this rant is just a summation for who I think will make the playoffs and win it all.  With LeBron James going back to Cleveland and Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose looking to stay healthy to lead their teams, the East may be as wide-open as it has ever been.

As for the West, it will be fascinating to see if the San Antonio Spurs could hold off the Los Angeles Clippers.

So, without further ado…

Eastern Conference

Playoff Standings:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
  2. Chicago Bulls
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Charlotte Hornets
  5. Miami Heat
  6. Indiana Pacers
  7. Washington Wizards
  8. New York Knicks

Division Winners

Atlantic:  Raptors

Central:  Cavaliers

Southeast:  Hornets

Eastern Conference winner:  Cleveland Cavaliers

Western Conference

Playoff Standings:

  1. Los Angeles Clippers
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder
  4. Golden State Warriors
  5. Houston Rockets
  6. Dallas Mavericks
  7. Portland Trailblazers
  8. Memphis Grizzlies

Division Winners

Southwest:  Spurs

Northwest:  Thunder

Pacific:  Clippers

Western Conference winner:  Los Angeles Clippers

2014-2015 NBA Champion:  Los Angeles Clippers

 

2014-2015 NBA Season Preview: Western Conference

254px-NBA_Logo.svg_This is Part II of my 2014-2015 NBA Preview.

I previewed the Eastern Conference yesterday.  Today I will preview the better, more competitive Western Conference.  Will the San Antonio continue its dominance in the West?  Will the Clippers and Thunder get over the hump?  Only time will tell.

In the meantime, shall we go?

Southwest Division

  1. San Antonio Spurs
  2. Houston Rockets
  3. Dallas Mavericks
  4. Memphis Grizzlies
  5. New Orleans Pelicans

Analysis:  The Spurs are a model of consistency.  They are the defending champs – in historical curb-stomping fashion I might – and I do not see those guys slowing down.  I mean sure Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker are older stars, but as long as Gregg Popovich is still coaching those guys these Spurs will not go the way of the dodo.  The Rockets and Grizzlies are next in line to assume the division throne, but still have to get over that proverbial hump.  Though both are immensely talented and well-coached, Houston can’t defend worth a damn, and the Grizz can’t even score on their own wives.  The Mavs are coached by one of the best in the business in Rick Carlisle.  Dirk Nowitzki is still a star in this league.  And I think Tyson Chandler will be playing with a chip on his shoulder, mainly to dispel reports that he didn’t quit on the Knicks last season.  However, the team old and is playing in the toughest division in the NBA.  If Dallas played in the Atlantic Division, it could easily win it.  New Orleans may be a last-place team in this division, but that doesn’t mean they suck.  The Pelicans are much-improved from last season and may knock on the door of a playoff spot thanks to Anthony Davis leading the way from the paint.

Northwest Division

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder
  2. Portland Trailblazers
  3. Denver Nuggets
  4. Utah Jazz
  5. Minnesota Timberwolves

Analysis:  I think the Thunder should run away with this division, even though they will be without the services of Kevin Durant due to injury for the first portion of the season.  PG Russell Westbrook is more than capable of carrying the mantle for OKC.  As a matter of fact, the rest of the division is frankly not good enough to challenge OKC – even when it is less than 100%.  Portland is still green – good, but green.  Denver, while scrappy and tough, is not nearly as talented as OKC.  Meanwhile, Utah and Minnesota flat out suck.  While both teams have good young players, I will pray for the head coaches for both teams (especially the Wolves’ Flip Saunders).

Pacific Division

  1. Los Angeles Clippers
  2. Golden State Warriors
  3. Phoenix Suns
  4. Los Angeles Lakers
  5. Sacramento Kings

Analysis:  This should be an entertaining division to watch, particularly between the Clippers and Warriors.  Both teams hate each other, and their playoff series last season was beyond epic.  I think the Clippers have a shot to unseat the Spurs if Blake Griffin develops a jump shot.  I also believe the Warriors need to be a bit tougher down in the post to become more of a threat in the West.  Like Portland, the Suns are good – but green.  The sad part was that even though the Suns won 48 games, it did not make the playoffs.  Phoenix would have been at least a third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs last season.  The Lakers are a shell of their former selves, and that does not sit well with Kobe Bryant.  As for the Kings, nothing much to say here.  They are still young, still employ DeMarcus Cousins, and still suck.

2014-2015 NBA Season Preview: Eastern Conference

254px-NBA_Logo.svg_The 2014-2015 NBA season is almost here!

Lots of storylines are abound this season.  Will LeBron James’ return to Cleveland be a successful homecoming?  Will Derrick Rose stay healthy this season?  Ditto for Dwyane Wade?  Will the Oklahoma City Thunder remain in the thick of things while Kevin Durant rehabs his injured foot?  Will Kobe Bryant be the Black Mamba of old (no pun intended)?

All in all, this should be one memorable season in the National Basketball Association (and it’s good to have the Hornets back in Charlotte).

Today I will preview the Eastern Conference, tomorrow the much more competitive Western Conference.  So without further ado…

Atlantic Division

  1. Toronto Raptors
  2. New York Knicks
  3. Brooklyn Nets
  4. Boston Celtics
  5. Philadelphia 76ers

Analysis:  Toronto is by far the class of this division.  Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, and Amir Johnson and Co. are back after leading their Raptors to a 48-win season.  After having a taste of the postseason in last year’s playoffs, I expect the Raptors to be improved – and hungrier.  My Knicks will be much-improved under the tuteledge of first-time coach Derek Fisher, a protege of Head of Basketball Ops Phil Jackson.  The Triangle Offense worked for Michael Jordan and later Kobe Bryant.  I expect it to do wonders for Carmelo Anthony.  The rest of the division are trending down a bit.  Brooklyn is a mess, from the top down.  Shaky front office + overrated, overpriced roster = bad news.  Boston and Philly are still young, and both these once-proud franchises will be getting their ass kicked again.

Central Division

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
  2. Chicago Bulls
  3. Indiana Pacers
  4. Milwaukee Bucks
  5. Detroit Pistons

Analysis:  This should be one fun division race to watch. A lot of people think that the Cavs and Bulls will rule this division, but I think that the Pacers will have a say on how this division will be settled – with or without Paul George.  Indiana is a well-coached team that was unfortunately doomed by poor chemistry.  I think Lance Stephenson got a bad rap, as he and David West by far were the heart and soul of the team.  The Pacers need better point guard play, and George Hill is not a damn point guard.  As for the Cavs and Bulls, we are looking at the two best teams in the East.  The new “Big Three” in James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving makes the Cavs the team to beat in the Central and the East.  However, if Rose could stay healthy the majority of the season, Chicago will have a lot to say about that.  As for the Bucks and Pistons, why bother showing up?  Both sucked last year, and both will stink up the joint again this season.

Southeast Division

  1. Charlotte Hornets
  2. Miami Heat
  3. Washington Wizards
  4. Atlanta Hawks
  5. Orlando Magic

Analysis: In what may be a surprising – and frankly, head-scratching – pick, I think the Hornets are going to win the Southeast division. Hear me out on this. I liked the acquisition of Stephenson – A LOT. As I mentioned earlier, I thought he was one of two players who showed the most heart for the Pacers last season. His feistiness on both ends of the floor will be infectious on an up-and-coming team in Charlotte. The Hornets already have studs in Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker, and have a good coach in Steve Clifford. And one more thing about the Hornets, it feels good for me to see the nickname back in Charlotte. The vibe and energy has picked up around the Queen City, something I have not seen since growing up in the state. One could make the case for the Heat and Wizards for winning this division. If both teams are relatively healthy, they could win over 50 games. However, Wizards sharpshooter Bradley Beal will not play the first few games of the season. And I do not trust Wade’s health. The Hawks are a playoff contender with a healthy Al Horford. They already have studs in Jeff Teague (go Demon Deacons!) and Paul Milsap. As the case with Miami and Washington, it’s just a matter of Atlanta staying healthy. As for Orlando, not only does that team sucks – it SWALLOWS.  Nothing more needs to be said…

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