If you are still reading this article after that absurdly bold prediction in the title, I appreciate it. One can take a look at that heading and completely bash the article without even reading it but I can assure you that I have some facts, and opinions, to back it up. The beginning of the Knicks season has been absolutely atrocious to say the least and they hadn’t given their fans any signs of hope until recently. From James Dolan representing himself as the Jerry Jones of the NBA and the Knicks showing 0% of the team chemistry that won them 54 games and the Atlantic title last season, New York has been the laughing-stock of the league. So with their star player with basically one foot out the door, why do I feel that these horrid Knicks will turn it around? I’m glad you asked.
1. Texas Trip Turnaround
In the Knicks most recent 3-game road trip to Texas, every analyst predicted that New York would be manhandled from San Antonio to Houston and finally in Dallas. If you watched those 3 games you would know that was clearly not the case. Somehow, the injury plagued Knicks pulled off huge victories in San Antonio, which has been the hardest arena to play in during the 17 year Duncan Era, and Dallas, which is always a tough spot to succeed. They did lose to Houston but only because of the bonehead play from Mr. Weed himself, JR Smith. Regardless of the win-loss record from the 3 day trip, the Knicks were playing with a swagger that they had seemed to have lost since the end of the Celtics playoff series last year.
2. Iman Is Back!
Outside of Carmelo Anthony, every Knicks fan knew that for us to have a big season Iman Shumpert would have to live up to his potential. Obviously, in New York Knicks fashion, trade rumors surfaced involving Iman within 2 days into the season. That would rattle any athlete, let alone a 3rd year player who is entering his first full season after ACL surgery. Now I am not placing all of Shumpert’s early season woes on rumors but it definitely didn’t help. All of the energy we all saw last year seemed to have dissipated and the Knicks looked like they were stuck with a shell of the former Knicks Tape creator. If you don’t know what the Knicks Tape is, here is a video that was made prior to the 2012 season:
This was the type of swagger that helped fuel the Knicks all last season. In this most recent Texas trip, Knicks fans were delighted to see the artist formerly known as Iman playing like we knew he could. I expect the second half of this season to be huge for Iman to showcase his talents.
3. Getting Healthy is Key
Like most of the NBA, the Knicks have been hit hard with the injury bug. Every single player, except for Andrea Bargnani ironically, has been sidelined with at least one injury whether significant or not. As of this moment, only Felton and Prigioni are still hurt but rumor has it that Raymond will be making a reappearance soon. I honestly believe that if Melo, Tyson, Shumpert and (laugh all you want) Stoudemire can stay healthy, then the Knicks pose a tough matchup for anyone in the league. I wouldn’t mind if JR Suck goes down with a tattoo injury of some sort because he is the one player who just doesn’t seem to be able to get his shit together.
4. Bench Energy
Over the past 2 seasons, the Knicks have had one of the deadliest benches in the game. Their depth was so good that no one injury could really throw them off of their game. Somehow, all of their depth vanished in a season where it looked like on paper they had gotten deeper. Well, JR proved he really is just a punk with athleticism (yet Woodson still gives him way too many minutes), Prigioni wasn’t showing the comfort level he had last year and STAT and Kenyon were really showing their ages as the season began. Even the acquisition of Metta Worldpeace didn’t pan out the way New York had hoped, but recently Knicks rookies Tim Hardaway Jr and Toure Murry have provided that spark that has been missing all year-long. They add tenacity and Defense to a team that needs it oh so badly. Kenyon has began to show glimpses of the guy who went to back to back NBA Championships with New Jersey and STAT is finally giving us some of those skills he paid Hakeem Olajuwon $200,000 to teach him. As long as the bench can provide energy, the Knicks will win games.
Let’s call a spade a spade. The Atlantic division is a joke and no one should feel proud winning it but someone will and I believe it will be the Knicks. With Lopez out for the season Brooklyn doesn’t stand a chance and there is no way that Toronto will keep up this type of play, especially when they trade away Lowry. That leaves Boston and Philadelphia…enough said. I am not saying the Knicks will win the Atlantic because they are a great team, I am saying they will win it because the rest of their division is pathetic!
This season, the Knicks have 99 problems and Brooklyn isn’t one of them. While I’m not discrediting anything that Brooklyn accomplished last year or during this off-season, but in my mind it is no question that the Knicks are the creme of the crop in the Atlantic Division. The rivalry between these two teams grew to record levels in Brooklyn’s inaugural season last year and with the way this off-season has gone, we can expect the same intensity this season. We are still nearly 3 months away from the opening tip yet these two squads are already talking shit and ready to claw each others faces off. Here’s why I feel the Nets will be watching the Knicks throne once again.
Lets start with each teams off-season moves and how they will affect this years outcome. Without question, the biggest move this summer came from the Brooklyn Nets when they acquired Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry from the Celtics for basically nothing but picks…sorry Kris Kardashian Humphries. The signing of Andrei Kirilenko will end up paying huge dividends as he will bring a defensive intensity that Joe Johnson never brings. Add these 4 new veterans with the core group built from a year ago of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez and you can say that the Nets had the best off-season in the league…that is unless you believe Dwight will actually do something this year. This team will definitely outperform itself from a year ago mainly because of the experience they added.
What’s amazing to me is that with the great moves Brooklyn has made, the Knicks have been overshadowed all Summer. What people aren’t talking about is the vast improvements the Knicks have made without losing much at all. New York has brought in 3 veterans that are all upgrades from a season ago. The Knicks picked up the one man that can defend any 2/3/4 in the NBA and who can also show some signs of offensive intelligence at the same time. Metta World Peace might be everything that is wrong with the NBA but he can sure play with the best of ’em. The Knicks also acquired Andrea Bargnani and Beno Udrih who will both provide extremely solid production off the bench alongside JR and Kenyon. The Knicks still have the best scorer in the game and if Tyson and Amare can come back healthy and Shumpert is the player everyone assumes he is then New York will be a tough team to tango with all year long.
Last year, Brooklyn and New York split the season series and each game was just as exciting as the next. One of the craziest things that happened between these teams this Summer was the retirement of the Knicks Jason Kidd and his hiring as the new Head Coach of the Nets. That move alone is enough to ignite the fire between these teams but add that in with Paul Pierce declaring his immense hatred of the Knicks and there are bound to be sparks flying all year. Pierce had this to say on the Michael Kay Show;
“I think the hate for the Knicks has grown a little. Everybody knows how much I disliked the Knicks when I was with the Celtics, but I think it’s grown to another level. I think it’s time for the Nets to start running this city.” Pierce also had a lot to say about the rivalry at a Sprint Charity event; “The only thing that separates the two teams is a bridge. And both of them are in the same division and both of them are considered contenders. You can’t help but say this is probably gonna be the best rivalry in sports next year.”
I definitely agree that this will be the most exciting rivalry in sports this year. I am looking more forward to the Nets coming to town than I am the Heat or Pacers. I only say that because of the inner city battle; I think the Heat and Pacers both pose a much bigger threat than the Nets do this year. The main reason that I feel the Knicks will win the Atlantic Division, I’m estimating by 2 to 3 games, is because of chemistry and depth. The only everyday player that the Knicks are changing this season will be Kidd and we all know how he played down the stretch last year. This Knicks team is familiar with each other and have proven they belong the elite Eastern teams. The Nets will be right there with them this year but since there is truly no chemistry on the roster and the fact that their newly acquired players are all in the waning stages of their careers tells me that they are not ready to dethrone the Knicks from atop the Atlantic Division.
Let the biased Knicks hatred begin!
Over a year ago, I wrote an article about how great the University of Florida athletes and their Alumni performed at the Olympics (https://sports-debaters.com/2012/07/31/the-university-of-florida-should-be-a-sovereign-nation/). While I am not going to retract anything I said, I will say that the Gators reputation has been tarnished pretty bad of late. Since the end of the amazing Summer Olympics, the UF Alumni have demonstrated many different negative attributes stemming from completely moronic Olympians to murder and ending it all with a delicious cup of racism. While it is tough to argue that UF doesn’t have the greatest Athletics program out of any University in the world, I can guarantee that there won’t be much bragging coming from the Orange and Blue after how this past year has unfolded.
Let’s start with the absolute dumbest Olympian that has ever graced this fine Country we live in. Ryan Lochte made quite a splash (pun intended) entering the 2012 Summer Olympics. He now holds 11 medals and is definitely a favorite to pick up some more in the future, but no one ever said that you need to be educated or sane to win an Olympic Gold. Lochte became an overnight sensation and the world waited on a nightly basis for him to say dumb thing after dumb thing. He became the laughing stock of sports and Pop culture. He even inspired Saturday Night Live to write a segment where Seth McFarlane impersonated the fast swimmer in what was one of the funniest Weekend Update segments in a long time*…outside of Drunk Uncle of course. Ryan’s rise to fame led to him getting his own Reality TV show on E! called “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” It’s hard to emphasize how dumb this guy actually is so please watch this video to find out for yourself:
After the rise to Super Star-dumb by Ryan Lochte, it seemed as if Florida was in the clear from any more embarrassments. Not so fast Gators because it gets a helluva lot worse. You might not have heard about it, and if you haven’t you are probably on the wrong website, but there is this guy named Aaron Hernandez who definitely murdered someone. I say it like that because he hasn’t been convicted yet but he for sure as hell will be. The former Gator/Patriot Tight End and BFF of Tim “The Tool man” Tebow, was charged with murder in the death of former semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. Hernandez has also been charged with five other gun-related offenses.
According to the website “The Week,” Hernandez was seen, both by witnesses and on several surveillance cameras, with the victim on the night of the murder. Cell phone geodata also showed Hernandez traveling with Lloyd and arriving at the industrial park where Lloyd’s body was found. The prosecutor further alleged witnesses in the area of that industrial park heard gunshots, and that forensic evidence indicated Hernandez and his accomplices shot Lloyd multiple times, and then, as Lloyd lay on the ground, stood over him and delivered the fatal shots. Though Hernandez destroyed surveillance equipment in his home, the prosecutor said investigators still obtained footage showing Hernandez walking through his home carrying a gun sometime after Lloyd is believed to have been shot.
So maybe Ryan Lochte is only the second dumbest University of Florida Alumni, or even the third. You see, a moronic Olympian and a murderer can destroy any school’s reputation but if you add in an angry racist tirade you find yourself as the most frowned upon Athletic Program in the country. Enter Riley Cooper. The young and talented Philadelphia Eagles Wide Receiver decided that it was a good idea to spit out some threatening racial slurs during an obviously too intense Kenny Chesney concert. I know that whenever I listen to Kenny Chesney all I want to do is start some hate crimes. This caught-on-camera act led to an off-season suspension and team-sanctioned racial sensitivity training. Riley did return to practice today and will start the regular season as a top-2 option for Michael Vick to throw to, but I can assure you that he will also be the #1 option for every member of every team to hit first. You’re welcome Adrian Peterson, because Riley Cooper just made the target on your back only the second biggest in the NFL.
So while the University of Florida has provided this world with some of the finest athletes ever, we can also thank them for the 3 dumbest!
*Some more Lockte laughs: http://youtu.be/85YfrQn-mFs
Growing up, most kids are told to shoot for the stars and that any goal they put their mind too they can accomplish. But what adults don’t tell you is that there is such a thing as an unrealistic goal. The best player in the NFL, Adrian Peterson, has just set the most unrealistic goal I have ever heard. AP is coming off the greatest comeback season in Pro Sports history and he might be letting it get into his head just a little…OK a lot. Yesterday, Peterson made a statement that has the NFL world buzzing as he proclaimed he will not only break Emmitt Smith’s all-time rushing record, but he set a date for him to do so. Adrian said that he will break Smith’s record on week 16 of the 2017 season. Not only is this goal unrealistic, it is absolutely absurd.
Let’s start with his opening statements; Adrian finished just 9 rushing yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season record mark of 2,106. Peterson first went on to say that he will not only break that mark this year but he will finish with 2,500 yards. Are you f-en kidding me? For all of you non-math whizzes out there, that means Adrian would not only have to play in all 16 games in this upcoming season but he would have to average 156.25 yards a game. To put that in perspective for all of you, AP led the NFL in yards/per game last season with 131.1. The next closest RB to him on that list was my boy Alfred Morris who only averaged 100.8/per game. I can guarantee to everyone out there that AP has absolutely NO CHANCE of hitting the 2,500 mark in one season. It would be nice, but it’s not going to happen.
We shouldn’t forget that Peterson had just come back from a torn ACL and MCL before last season and what he accomplished after that was nothing short of a miracle. I am a huge fan of watching AP play and I will definitely love to see him hit these marks he has set but there is no shot in hell of that happening. For Adrian to break Emmitt’s record by the 16th week of the 2017 season he will have to average an unobtainable 121 yards/per game for 79 straight games. After making this ludicrous proclamation, Peterson went on to tell the Star-Tribune:
“Whoo. That’s pushing it, huh? But hey, pushing it is the only way to do it. You know it,”
It sounds like he is motivated and pumped to get to this mark, but I see it more as Peterson having major delusions of grandeur. There is no question that he is the best Running Back the game has to offer and there isn’t even a close second, but for him to think he can actually accomplish the goals he has set forth is nothing short of crazy stupidity. AP is 28 years old and has already gone through a surgery that most people wouldn’t even be able to recover from. AP has played 6 full seasons and he isn’t even halfway to the Dancing with the Star’s season 3 Champions mark. (Yeah that’s right, Emmitt Smith won season 3 of Dancing with the Stars) Adrian Peterson must be out of his damn mind if he actually believes what he said to be true.
Dear Adrian Peterson,
While I would love for all of your statements to come true, I now fear for your health because you just put a giant target on your back for every defensive player in the NFL to aim for. I understand that you have the second worst QB in the NFL, behind Mark Suckchez of course, and you will probably be getting the most carries in the NFL this year, but that only means that these gigantic defensive players are going to have more opportunities to make you eat your words. I wish you luck, but I think you might have just stalled what could have been one of the best Running Back careers ever.
Do you remember back during Spring Training in March when everyone was thinking that the AL East was wide open for anyone to grab? Well it turns out not much has changed in the last 5 months. Not only is the AL East the only division with 4 teams above a .500 winning percentage, but the 5th team that is under .500 is arguably one of the most dangerous offenses in the game. As a Mets fan, I am nearing the point in my baseball season where I can stop caring about the Mets demise and I can start paying attention to the contenders whom I’ll be watching come September and October. There is no doubt that the AL East is the most exciting division in baseball and I am going to break down how I feel the final 60 games will unfold and who will reign supreme in the East.
1st Place – Baltimore Orioles
Right now, Baltimore is 3.5 games out of first place trailing both Tampa and Boston. The reason I predict they will finish in first is because they are just too damn powerful in every position to not. I’ve had the pleasure of watching a lot of Orioles games this year because of my addiction to watching Chris Davis At-Bats. (Side note: I haven’t enjoyed watching two powerhouses like Davis and Cabrera go back and forth with bombs so much since the glorious 98′ season with Sosa and McGuire.) The Orioles rank first in baseball in Slugging Percentage, 3rd in Runs and 4th in Batting Average. Rarely do you see so much power mixed with batting average for a whole team. Buck Showalter has the luxury of changing his lineup on a nightly basis based on pitching matchups without ever sacrificing power or average. The one weakness that the Orioles have faced all year long is their uneven pitching rotation. While there have been some glimpses of success, for the most part the Baltimore rotation has sucked. So while I believe that the O’s will power through with their offense for the rest of the regular season, I also think that their dismal pitching will lead to their playoff demise.
2nd Place – Tamp Bay Devil Rays
If you jump back exactly two months from today you would have seen the Devil Rays sitting in 4th place in the AL East. If you look at the standings today, you will find Tampa in sole possession of first place by a half game over the Red Sox. Tampa has been lights out since May 27th by posting a 35-17 record since then. They have had all of their success with a steady balance of offense, pitching and defense. Between Evan Longoria doing what Evan Longoria does and Matt Moore proving in his second season that he is a legitimate Ace in this league, the Devil Rays are set for many more seasons to come. They have also found a nice diamond in the rough who actually used to hover around the Mendoza line while with the Dodgers; James Loney is hitting a remarkable .317 with 10 HR’s and 50 RBI’s after only hitting .249, 6 and 41 all last year between LA and Boston. It also helps that he has stayed healthy all year and has played in 101 of Tampa’s 103 games thus far. (Side note: The Devil Rays just lit up CC Sabathia, who I think is a top 5 pitcher in the AL, for 7 runs making it the third time they scored at least 5 on him this season.) The reason that I feel the Devil Rays will finish as one of the AL’s two Wild Card teams and not with the pennant is because while they are good in a lot of categories they aren’t the best in any of them and to win a division you need the best.
3rd Place – Boston Red Sox
If you tried to tell me before this season started that you believed the Red Sox would be leading the Majors in Runs and On-Base Percentage I would have laughed in your face. Well surprise surprise, that is exactly where they rank with just two months left in the season. Big Papi David Ortiz is having a career year when most people thought he should have been washed up at this point. It should only be a few months before we find out it is all from PED use, but let’s enjoy it while we can. In his 16th season, the ageless wonder has a ridiculous stat line that would easily be up for MVP talks if it weren’t for the seasons that Davis and Cabrera are having. The career .287 hitter is batting .323 with 19 HR’s and 65 RBI’s. With Ortiz proving age doesn’t matter, the emergence of Jose Iglesias and Dustin Pedroia putting up consistently great numbers, the Red Sox offense has been great all year. Their pitching, however, has the same issues that Baltimore’s does. Lester, Lackey and Buchholz have all had streaks this year of great successes but for the most part, their inconsistencies are the exact reason they will lose to the Devil Rays in the one-game Wild Card playoffs. Yeah, that’s right, I think both Wild Card teams this year are coming out of this beast of a division.
4th Place – New York Yankees
While it pains me to say this, the Yankees are the most impressive team, (based on what they have), in this division. Plagued with more injuries than I have ever seen a team suffer through, the Yankees have had to put laughable lineups on the field on almost a daily basis. No Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, and Granderson has led to lineups filled with the Overbay’s and Hafner’s of the world that would barely make it in the minors. Even with all of this adversity, the Yankees, whom I hate very much, have played way above average ball. In fact, they have been in playoff contention since day one of the season until recently. Even Yankees fans can admit that they did not expect to be above .500 at this point in the season but their roster and skill set are coming back to reality as they are now 7 games out of first. CC has been struggling worse than he ever has in his career and outside of Cano, there is not one bright spot on the entire roster. Thank God for Mariano Rivera who is absolutely killing it in his final year. If there was ever going to be a season where the Mets were going to out play the Yankees it was this one and yet it still didn’t happen. The Yankees have a lot of rebuilding to do over the next few years but they should not put their heads down because this season was way more of a success then it should have been.
5th Place – Toronto Blue Jays
Before this season started I was talking about how the Blue Jays had a great chance to take this division with the offseason moves they made. Turns out I was terribly wrong. My boy, RA Dickey, is proving that there is a huge difference between pitching in the AL East and the NL East. Last years NL Cy Young winner is getting lit up this year with a nearly 5 ERA and a pitiful 8-11 record. It doesn’t help that he pitches in the best hitting division in baseball and in a stadium that seems to give up 10 Home Runs every game played there. The Blue Jays struggles can not all be blamed on Dickey because their entire pitching staff BLOWS! In fact, the best ERA on their starting rotation comes from Mark Buehrle and his awful 4.50 mark. Pathetic! It was a very tough start to the season for Toronto with Jose Reyes being injured and not one person on their team hitting above .300. With the Blue Jays it has been Home Run or Strikeout all season long and it has led them to a pretty disappointing season. The brightest spot on their team this year has been the power surge that Edwin Encarnacion has been on. While his batting average is below .270 he has hit 28 Home Runs already and knocked in 80 RBI’s before August. Unfortunately for Toronto, there is not much to cheer about this year and with the amount of money they spent in the offseason you can expect to see this team dismantled during the Winter.
You might disagree with my predictions for how this season will unfold but there is no denying that the American League East is the premier division in all of Baseball.
Never in my life did I feel like the Aaron Hernandez fiasco would be overshadowed this soon after its occurrence, but the stupidity of Ryan Braun has done just that. As one of my fellow Tribesmen, I would have loved to look past Braun’s lies and deception, but I just can’t. Ryan Braun did not only lie about his PED use, (who in Baseball hasn’t), but he insulted the intelligence of Major League Baseball and all of the baseball fans in the world.
Yesterday, Braun admitted to his use of PEDs after MLB’s Biogenesis Documents proved he was guilty, and here is what he had to say:
“As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country. Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed — all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”
Now, this seems like a pretty sincere apology and I would probably take him seriously if he hadn’t already proven that he is the most untrustworthy asshole in Baseball. Sure, we have had other moronic liars when it comes to PED use like Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and most of all Roger Clemens, but the bar was just raised by the 2011 NL MVP*. (Yea that’s right, I am giving it an asterisks now)
If you don’t know where my anger towards Braun is coming from then you probably don’t remember the investigations that have happened over the past couple of years. Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone during his MVP season in 2011. He avoided suspension for his positive results because of “an error in the collection process” of his urine sample. Sounds like someone had a good lawyer (enter Jewish joke here). Instead of just taking the win of his appeal gracefully, Braun decided to further stick his own foot in his mouth. He verbally attacked the testing process, labeled himself a victim, and proclaimed his innocence. Here is a list of his lies he told in his February 24th, 2012 news conference:
“I tried to handle the whole situation with honor, with integrity, with class, with dignity and with professionalism because that’s who I am and how I lived my life.
“I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body at any point.
“I have always stood up for what is right. Today is about everybody who has ever been wrongly accused and everybody who has ever had to stand up for what is actually right.
“I will continue to take the high road because that’s who I am and that’s the way that I’ve lived my life. We won because the truth was on my side. The truth is always relevant and, at the end of the day, the truth prevailed.
“I am a victim of a process that completely broke down and failed in a way that it applied to me in this case.
“The system in the way that it was applied to me in this case was fatally flawed.”
I bet you don’t accept his apology now, do you? After admitting his wrong doings yesterday, Braun received a season ending suspension for the PED use as well as his lies from the past year. What type of message is this sending to the younger generations. This man got caught doing something illegal then got acquitted of said actions because of a loophole in a flawed system and then verbally attacked the system that was in all actuality correct. Now he only gets suspended for 65 games? That’s ludicrous.
I put the lies of Braun right along the same level of those from Lance Armstrong. At least Lance made millions upon millions for cancer research whist lying and cheating. What the hell has Braun done? This act of deceit needs to be handled a lot better and with a much grander penalty.
There is nothing we can do now except sit back and enjoy watching the next 11 people get suspended for their part in the Biogenesis Documents. Bye, Bye A-Rod!
The first round of the playoffs brought a plethora of excitement to NBA fans across the country. From upsets to injuries we saw it all in the past two weeks and now we are entering the Conference Semis with some unpredictable faces. The power in the West seems to have shifted now that Westbrook is sidelined until next year and while the Heat still remain everybody’s favorite, there are a few teams that are looking to rock the boat. With 5 out of 8 correct first round picks, I am now going to try and go a perfect 4 for 4 for the Semis.
As I predicted, the Heat ran over the lowly Bucks for an easy sweep. While the Bulls won’t provide the same simplicity that Milwaukee did, Miami should have no problem making it to the next round but I don’t feel that this series will end in a sweep. I am predicting that the Bulls will squeeze out a meaningless game 4, a la the Knicks last season, but inevitably the Heat will prevail in 5. Lebron is too good and Rose is too injured.
Prediction: Heat 4-1
I am very proud that my Knicks are finally in the second round again but they are running into arguably the best defense in the Playoffs. Indiana and the Knicks provided the NBA with some of the best playoff series through the 90’s. Who could forget Miller’s heroics or LJ’s 4-point play. It’s safe to say that these two teams hate each other. Melo has a lot to prove if the Knicks are truly competing for a Title. Paul George and Indiana pose a lot of threats to the Knicks and I feel this series will be extremely tight throughout. That being said, the Knicks should be meeting the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Prediction: Knicks 4-2
I might have predicted this match up to be the Clippers vs Thunder but I feel that the Grizz will make it a much more enticing series. It was heartbreaking to see Westbrook get injured the way he did, but let’s not forget who the Thunder belongs too; he’s known as the Durantula! Durant can score and Memphis can defend. The Clippers found out first hand how tough the Grizzlies can be when they are on top of their game. A lot of analysts are writing the Thunder off with Russel being out but I don’t necessarily see it that way. The Thunder are more of a playoff-seasoned team and while this match up will probably be a lot harder without Westbrook, they will still come out on top.
Prediction: Thunder 4-3
I have to apologize to the Spurs for even questioning their ability to trounce the Lakers. San Antonio handled their business with class and ease and now they have the luxury of facing the young and hyped Golden State Warriors. In what has to be the biggest upset of the first round, Mark Jackson led his talented cast of neophytes over the starless Denver Nuggets only to have the Spurs waiting for them in round 2. Outside of my Knicks, there is no team I enjoy watching more than the Warriors, but with Duncan and Parker on the top of their games the Warriors don’t stand a shot of the Conference Finals.
Prediction: Spurs 4-1
My favorite time of year is among us as the NBA Playoffs kick off tomorrow afternoon. This has been quite a crazy season for the NBA with new teams, (Rockets, Nuggets, Warriors, Nets) emerging as contenders and some of our perennial postseason mainstays, (Mavericks, 76ers, Jazz) find themselves watching from home with the rest of us. Regardless of who takes the hardwood, (insert joke here), we are sure to get some great competition and I am sure there will be an upset or two that will have critics and gamblers both up in arms. Here is a breakdown of how the Sports Debaters feel the first round will go down.
I won’t waste too much time on this one. The Heat have the best team in the NBA and the best player in world to go with it. Lebron James has a huge point to make and that is to let his critics, which there shouldn’t be many of anymore, know that last year was not a fluke. If you want to be better than Jordan you are going to have to get 5 more of those nice shinny things for your fingers that they give you with that beautiful gold trophy. The Bucks don’t stand a shot in hell and if Milwaukee’s sub-.500 record is any indication of how this series will go then the Heat will have plenty of time to prepare for their second round matchup. We are predicting the easy sweep for Miami in this one.
Series: Heat 4-0
What has already been a storied rivalry is about to get more intense then ever. Between the horrific Boston Bombings on top of the altercation between Melo and Garnett in the beginning of the year, this series has a shit load of emotional baggage entering the first round. Boston and New York have historic rivalries in pretty much every sport and competition, so when these two cities meet in a postseason it is nothing short of bananas. This Knicks won the regular season series against Boston 3-1 and they look to carry their current hot streak into the playoffs. With Rondo out with his torn ACL and Melo playing better then he ever has, I expect the Knicks to be able to win their first playoff series in over a decade.
Series: Knicks 4-1
The Indiana Pacers started this season on fire. They seemed to be able to shut down any offense with their stingy defense and it really seemed as if they could solidify themselves as the second best team in the East. Fast forward to today and the Pacers ended the season very sloppy and they have a lot of negative momentum entering the postseason. Having said that, the only team in the Eastern Conference Playoffs that has looked worse than the Pacers in the final month would have to be their first round opponent, the Atlanta Hawks. They will definitely deny it, but the Hawks tanked the end of the season just so they wouldn’t have to face the Heat in the second round. Don’t you worry Hawks fans because you will not have a second round to stress about.
Series: Pacers 4-2
The Brooklyn Nets entered this season with extremely high expectations due to their owner guaranteeing a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in their first year in Brooklyn. They did have a fairly impressive regular season and have the honor of hosting the nitty gritty Rose-less Bulls in the first round. This will be a tough battle for both sides and the entire series will come down to 3 points; 1) Will Deron Williams keep up this amazing stretch that he is currently on? 2) Will Brook Lopez be able to prove that he is the best offensive center in the East? and 3) Will Nate Robinson be able to shoot 60%+ from the floor while running a fluid offense? Luckily for the Nets, I think the answers to those 3 questions are Yes, Yes and No! Expect this series to be close but I feel that the Nets will have the honor of losing to the Heat in round numero dos.
Series: Nets 4-3
All season long there have been endless debates on whether the Harden deal was good or bad for the Thunder. One thing is for sure, it was definitely good for Houston. The Rockets boasted one of the most efficient offenses in the NBA and it was 100% due to the fact that James Harden separated himself as one of the leagues elite players. Sure Lin, Parsons and Asik all played important roles, but Harden put the Rockets on his back and helped them just sneak into that eighth spot in the West. Harden is going to try and prove the Thunder organization wrong as he will try and upset them in the first round, but the dominant scoring duo of Durant and Westbrook will prove far to lethal for the Rockets to handle. I do feel that Houston will be able to squeak one victory out of this series tho.
Series: Thunder 4-1
If Sunday’s matchup between these two teams is any indication of how this series will go, we are in store for an instant classic. Without Kobe, the Lakers seem to be playing with a new sense of physicality and a whole new game plan. The inside-out game that the Lakers have gone to these past 2 games is really proving to be effective. Both Dwight and Pau have each lead their own respective teams in the playoffs and they seemed poised to give the Spurs a run for their money this year. Some people are calling me crazy with this prediction but i feel that this series will be going into 7 games and while I do feel that the Spurs will pull it out with their home court advantage, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go the other way.
Series: Spurs 4-3
The Denver Nuggets have been the silent killers this year as they have quietly inched their way into the tough fought for third seed in the West. Denver’s best trait throughout this season was their home court dominance (38-3). Even with Danilo Gallinari going down for the season with a torn ACL, the Nuggets still have a ridiculously solid rotation top to bottom. The matchup I will be watching in this series is the battle between Curry and Lawson. These two young dynamic point guards is going to be the deciding factor in the series. While Curry has one of the smoothest strokes in the game, Lawson has developed into one of the best all-around PG’s there is. The Warriors have had a great season and their head coach, Mark Jackson, may very well take home Coach of the Year honors, but the Nuggets are too deep and too good at home.
Series: Nuggets 4-2
In this repeat matchup from last years first round between the 4 and 5 seeds in the West, we are sure to get our money’s worth. The Memphis Grizzlies are trying to seek revenge for their game 7 loss at home last year to the Clippers. Now that the Grizzlies got rid of their top scorer and go to guy at the end of games, who are they going to turn to at the end of a close game? I’ll tell you who; no one! I think that the Grizzlies over performed all season long and now that the playoffs are here, I feel that the Clippers will show why this is their best team in franchise history. I expect Griffin and Jordan to dominate Marc Gasol and Randolph all series long. Chris Paul is going to have a field day with Mike Conley Jr as well. Don’t expect to see this series go to 7.