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A Quick (and Late) 2015 NBA Playoff Preview: the Conference Finals

254px-NBA_Logo.svg_Before I get started with this rather tardy 2015 NBA conference finals preview, let me first give the Los Angeles Clippers a quick shout-out for making me look rather stupid for picking them to win the Western Conference before the season and during these playoffs.  Now that my acknowledgement of those Cottonelle-soft choke artists is out of the way, let’s continue with this brief preview.

These conference finals represent “chalk”: the top two seeds from both conferences.  Will this “chalk” continue into the NBA Finals?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Now, without further ado…

Eastern Conference

#1 Atlanta Hawks vs. #2 Cleveland Cavaliers

Analysis:  Even though the Hawks swept the Cavs during the regular season, both teams are a bit different since then.  Atlanta played .500 ball after the All-Star break, and has not looked all that impressive in the playoffs.  Cleveland is banged up to be sure, but as long as it has LeBron James, it is all good.  Kyrie Irving at 80% is better than his counterpart Jeff Teague at 100%.  The Cavs also have a deeper bench.

Truth be told, LeBron is on a mission to get his hometown team back to the NBA Finals.  The inexperienced Hawks may be in over their heads here…

Prediction: Cavs in 6

Western Conference

#1 Golden State Warriors vs. #2 Houston Rockets

Analysis:  It wasn’t the matchup I  (and the rest of America) was looking for, but it’s still a compelling one.  It features the two top vote-getters for NBA MVP in Stephen Curry and James “Please Trim that Damn Beard” Harden.  I still think the Warriors are much deeper and tougher than the Rockets.  By the way, I know the Rockets played well tonight, but the fact that they still lost to the rusty Warriors is a bad omen for the rest of the series…

Prediction: Warriors in 5

30-Second Shot Clock a Good First Step in Men’s College B-Ball

ncaaIn the midst of the hoopla that are the NBA Playoffs and #DeflateGate, the NCAA took what I thought was a good, bold first step in improving men’s college basketball: reducing the shot clock from 35 seconds to 30.

A lot of fans and media members bemoaned the flow of an average game.  The last two minutes of a game could take up to 20 minutes.  The offense generally leaves a lot to be desired – especially if you are watching a Virginia Cavaliers or Big Ten (14) game.

I will say that while reducing the shot clock would not fix all what ails men’s college basketball, it will go a long way in fixing the flow of the game.  More offensive possessions will typically lead to more points – again, unless you are watching Cavalier and Big Ten (14) basketball.

Plus, who wouldn’t like a more up-tempo, up and down game?  That’s the way basketball was meant to be played.

Since I mentioned that a 30-second shot clock is a good first step in making men’s college ball more easy on the eyes, here are some of my other suggested fixes:

Eliminate the number of timeouts each team has in a game.  In a men’s college basketball game that is broadcasted (television, radio, or the internet), each team has one 60-second timeout and four 30-second timeouts – in addition to the media timeouts (at the first dead ball under 16, 12, 8 and 4 minutes remaining in each half).

I don’t know about you, but that’s too many damn timeouts.  Since there are the media timeouts (which is to help broadcast partners pay for the rights for those games), half the number of 30-second timeouts.

After all, the viewing public should not have to suffer through coaches calling timeouts because their teams suck.  That’s what PRACTICE is for.  Otherwise, a coach should suck it up and take his ass-whupping like a man.

Push back the three-point line.  The move would force players to become more well-rounded and encourage more movement on offense.  If the 3-point line gets moved in a bit further, there would be power forwards and centers looking to jack up threes.  Let the shooters shoot and leave the big uglies down low.

Speaking of shooters, a deeper 3-point line would allow those young men to improve their mid-range games and learn to create their own shots.  How would that be so bad for the college game?

By the way, the three-point line does not have to be as far back as the NBA game, just a bit further from what it is now.

Happy Mothers Day!

We at “The Klown Times” would like to wish the mothers and grandmothers a very Happy Mothers Day!

We all need to be grateful for our mothers for raising us and help shape us to the people we have become.  After all, they had to carry us around for nine months, so we have to be nice to them…

Tom Brady Will Be Punished for Reasons Other Than Deflategate

new-england-patriots-logoLet’s be honest about something.

If this past NFL season were not filled with so much off the field garbage (Ray Rice incident, other players beating the hell out of their women), this whole “Deflategate” nonsense would have been swept under the rug.  I mean, what QB doesn’t want his balls at certain weights and textures (snicker)?

As far as I am concerned, QBs toying with the amount of air in footballs are as common as offensive lineman holding on every play.  It’s part of the game, no big deal.

However, when you are Tom Brady and the QB of one of the most polarizing organizations in all of sports, you are treated differently.  Of course with that comes the good and the bad.

The “good” should be obvious.

Brady gets the benefit of the doubt when it comes to overall treatment from the NFL.  You could pass gas in his direction and draw a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.  Hell the NFL made a rule in how defenders should hit the QB thanks to an early season-ending injury he suffered vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

We have never really seen the “bad” in all this, until now.

Brady has been getting all sorts of attention over his role in Deflategate since Super Bowl week.  He didn’t help himself in being evasive in answering any Deflategate questions.  And now there is talk over how this will affect his legacy as a future potential first-ballot Hall of Famer.

And this is all without any smoking guns from the Wells Report.  It’s almost as if folks were like “now we’ve got this sonofabtich on SOMETHING!  Let’s get him!”

Let me disclose something for y’all: I hate the New England Patriots.

To me, they are the Dallas Cowboys of this generation.  Their organization thrives off of living in the grey area, fudging with the rules JUST ENOUGH to give them at edge that keeps them near the top.

So this Pittsburgh Steelers fan would LOVE it if Brady’s ass is suspended at least for our opening Thursday night game.

The impending punishment Brady (and perhaps other Patriots personnel) will receive is almost like a cumulative dubious lifetime achievement award in cheating.  The illegal taping of opponents the Patriots performed seasons ago is much more egregious than deflating footballs.

Simply put, the Patriots have given us the perception that they are nothing but bonafide cheaters who have gotten away with it and have the Super Bowl titles to show for it.

Again, I think Deflategate is much ado about nothing.  But the combination of the Patriots past history of getting over and Brady not cooperating and being forthcoming with the investigators will be Brady’s undoing.

And this Patriots hater will enjoy every minute of it.

A Rather Quick 2015 NBA Playoffs Preview: Second Round

254px-NBA_Logo.svg_What an amazing first round!  By the that I mean the Clippers and Spurs series going the distance.

Homecourt advantage was nearly nonexistent in what was easily the best series in the first round.  The road team won FOUR times.  Outside of Games 1 and 3, the games came down to the last few possessions.

While it was weird to see the defending champion Spurs eliminated in the FIRST ROUND, I am excited to see what the second round holds for us fans.

Eastern Conference

1. Atlanta Hawks vs. 5. Washington Bullets

Analysis:  In Game 6 of the Nets series, the Hawks FINALLY played the complete dominant game that we have come to see from them for most of the season.  They will not get much rest going into this afternoon’s game vs. the Bullets, so fatigue may work against them.  Meanwhile, Washington looked pretty damn good in sweeping the Raptors.  The question now is will Paul Pierce punk the Hawks?  Given that the Hawks are a far better team than the Raptors, I think it’s unlikely.

Prediction: Hawks in 6

2. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 3. Chicago Bulls

Analysis:  This should be the best series in the second round.  Two division rivals who are arguably the best teams in the East.  Oh, and they hate each other.  LeBron James sniping with Joakim Noah.  The Bulls looking to exert their physicality on the Cavs.  Much-see TV indeed.  Having said all of that, it will be tough for the Cavs to win this series without Kevin Love.  His outside shooting created space for James and Kyrie Irving to operate.  Love’s rebounding will be sorely missed as well.  And with the Bulls (namely Derrick Rose) staying healthy, and with the obvious coaching advantage Chicago has, LeBron will have a tough time getting his crew past those cats.

Prediction:  Bulls in 6

Western Conference

1. Golden State Warriors vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies

Analysis:  This fits the classic “styles makes fights” narrative.  A high-flying, up-tempo team in Golden State facing an old-school, grinding Grizzlies.  While I do think this series will be competitive, I think the Warriors will have too much firepower (led by MVP candidate Stephen Curry and fellow sharpshooter Klay Thompson) for Memphis.

Prediction:  Warriors in 6

2. Houston Rockets vs. 3. Los Angeles Clippers

Analysis:  On the heels of the most exciting series in the first round, the Clippers may be prime for an ultimate let-down in Game 1.  The Rockets have plenty of scoring punch led by MVP candidate James Harden, but they do not have the toughness that the Clippers have.  Besides, one can’t pick a squad that employs Dwight Coward.

Prediction: Clippers in 6

Floyd-Manny Fight Will Not Bring Boxing Back

Pacquiao-vs-Mayweather

Before I go off on this rant, let me disclose the following.

I grew up on boxing.

My dad introduced my brother and I to the sweet science shortly after I learned how to ride a bike.  I still remember the day my Dad bought us a Marvelous Marvin Hagler boxing set, complete with a mini punching bag and two pairs of gloves.

I remember watching major fights on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.  I also remember watching the likes of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard on on certain weekends on CBS.

Having shared my love of boxing, I must say I am disappointed in the state of the sport.  I am more saddened that boxing has taken a turn for the worse after tonight’s Floyd Mayweather, Jr./Manny Pacquiao “fight”.

I mean talk about a pillow fight.

Both fighters were not but so aggressive.  I found myself tuning in and out mentally during the fight.

Hell most of the people at the fight party I attend were mad that they even bothered WATCHING the fight.  Folks were mad that their time was wasted watching a glorified pillow fight.

We all know that Mayweather is such a great defensive fighter, even to the point of being hard to watch at times.  But Manny of all people should have been aggressive.  He knew he would have a hard time being Mayweather on points.

Manny is usually a very aggressive fighter, but for some reason he was tentative.  That tentativeness not only cost Manny the undisputed welterweight title, it cost the sport of boxing more fans.

Let’s be honest about something here, this “fight” did not do wonders in rejuvenating interest into this fading sport.  Instead, it has turned more of those casual fans to MMA.

Keep Baltimore in Your Prayers

As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan I do not have a lot of love for the Baltimore Ravens, but I do have love for my fellow man. PLEASE pray for peace in Baltimore.

God bless…

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