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NBA Finals

5 Reasons the Knicks Will Win the Atlantic Division

knicks

Hey Spike – it’s not a field goal.

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.

jr

THAT’S the court. The bench is the other direction.

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.

swag

I Man! You nobody!

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.

felton

Okay, I get the whole “stay healthy” thing, but these vitamin pills a f$#%ing ridiculous!

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.

toure tim

Sitting is believing!

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.

taped5.  It’s the G-d Damn Atlantic Division

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!


NBA Playoffs Preview

nbaMy 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.

Heat over Bucks

Heat over Bucks

Knicks over Celtics

Knicks over Celtics

Pacers over Hawks

Pacers over Hawks

Nets over Bulls

Nets over Bulls

Thunder over Rockets

Thunder over Rockets

Spurs over Lakers

Spurs over Lakers

Nuggets over Warriors

Nuggets over Warriors

Clippers over Grizzlies

Clippers over Grizzlies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lebron

Heat vs. Bucks

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

meloKnicks vs. Celtics

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

georgePacers vs. Hawks

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

deronNets vs. Bulls

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

durantThunder vs. Rockets

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

duncanSpurs vs. Lakers

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

lawsonNuggets vs. Warriors

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

griffinClippers vs. Grizzlies

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.

Series:  Clippers 4-2


Midway Through the NBA Season

seasonThe first half of the NBA season has been quite a wild ride.  There have been the typically predictable outcomes, like Miami leading the Eastern Conference and the West being led by the Thunder and Spurs, but who would have predicted this far into the season that the powerhouse Lakers would be the laughing stock of the league.  We have seen more injuries this year than I have ever witnessed in all my time following basketball and with the trade deadline quickly approaching every team is making their final panic moves to prepare for their end-of-the-season runs for the playoffs.  Here is a quick recap of where players and teams stand so far and what I feel is going to happen next.

melo paulMVP Race:  The obvious front runners for the MVP crown through the first half of the NBA season are perennial favorites Lebron James and Kevin Durant.  Lebron is having just an unreal year with the 4th highest PPG (26.5) in the league and he is also filling the rest of the stat sheet with 8.3 RPG and 7.1 APG.  His most incredible stat in my opinion is the fact that he is shooting an astonishing 55% from the field when his career average is only 48%.  Durant is leading the league in scoring (29.6 PPG) and has led the Thunder the the NBA’s second best record (34-11).     The two players that are trailing these two superstars, but not by far in my opinion, are Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul.  Carmelo is having a career year leading the Knicks to the second best record in the East and only 1.5 games behind the Heat.  Paul has help build relevance around a franchise that has been completely irrelevant throughout their existence.  Any of these four players could win the MVP without too much argument but I think it will all come down to which players team finishes the season the strongest.

knicks heatConference Titles:  The Eastern Conference is hands down the weaker of the two conferences.  That being said, I still feel that the NBA Champions will come out of the East…maybe some biased there or maybe just sensibly sticking with the returning champs.  As of right now the Miami Heat hold a 1.5 game lead over my New York Knicks for Eastern Conference supremacy.  Even though the Knicks haven’t been this good in a while, most analysts (like myself) picked the Knicks to finish 2nd or 3rd this season with their successful off season.  What most people didn’t predict is that the Boston Celtics would be clinging onto the 8th seed in the East, and with the loss of Rondo for the year they will most likely fall out of that position as well.  The surprises in the East are the Chicago Bulls, who hold onto the 3rd spot sans Derrick Rose, and the Brooklyn Nets, who since the firing of Avery Johnson have gone 13-5 for the once choked out PJ Carlesimo (If you don’t get that joke look it up), have really been showing that they are a top tier team in the East.

westThe Western Conference is a whole other beast.  There is no rhyme or reason to anything that is happening out West right now.  The Spurs are once again defying the laws of age by holding the NBA’s best record (37-11) while the Lakers have shocked the world with a sub-.500 record this late in the season.  The Thunder have been holding strong and the Clippers are proving that all of their recent draft picks as well as their Free Agent spending is truly paying off.  The Grizzlies have established themselves as the scrappy team that needs no superstar to be successful.  I feel the biggest surprises in the West are the the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, the Portland Trailblazers and especially the Golden State Warriors.  All four of these teams are surprisingly over .500 and they all have a solid chance of making it in one of the bottom 4 seeds in the West.  I do beleive that the Lakers will turn this slow start around and finish with the 6th or 7th spot in the West but I think the Conference for the most part is wide open for the taking.

del negroThe 2nd Half of the Season:  Before the season started I predicted that the Lakers would be facing off with the Heat in the NBA Finals.  With the D’Antoni cursed Lakers playing like absolute garbage I am now changing my prediction to the Heat versus the Clippers.  Most people are going with the Thunder but I think that the depth that the Clippers have as well as their veteran leadership is just the perfect recipe for success.  So technically my prediction for an LA vs. Miami Finals is still a possibility   I don’t even think that the Heat are a 100% lock to make the Finals.  The Knicks have had stretches of inconsistency lately but they have proven that with a fully healthy roster that they can beat anyone in the league.  If the Knicks meet the Heat, whom they have beaten twice already this season in blowouts, in a seven game series, I do beleive that they will have a chance to dethrone King James and company.  I also wouldn’t sleep on the Bulls because once Rose comes back healthy they will be considered a top 5 NBA team once again.

rookieAs for the end of the year awards, I feel that Vinny Del Negro deserves Coach of the Year for how he has the Clippers playing.  I assume Lebron will win his 4th MVP but I would love to see Carmelo finally get one.  Rookie of the Year will go to Damian Lillard and there are no questions about that.  As for 6th man of the year, it’s a close battle between Jamal Crawford and JR Smith, but I think Crawford has the slight edge.

I have loved every minute of the first half of this NBA season and I can’t wait to see what’s to come.


NBA Western Conference Preview and Predictions

Yesterday I told you all about the Eastern Conference and how I feel their divisions will pan out.  Now I am going to talk about the Western Conference and all of its glory.  I am so stoked that the season starts tonight with three NBA games for opening night; Wizards vs Cavs (Are you serious, opening night?), Boston vs Miami (More like it!), Mavericks vs Lakers (I wish Dirk was healthy).  With a crazy offseason, like the Eastern Conference, the Western Conference made a lot of moves and looks very different than a year ago.  The obvious choice for the best team in the West is the newly formed Los Angeles Lakers, but after I have analyzed and gone over all of the teams, it do not think this Conference is so cut and dry…although I am picking the Lakers to have the best record in the West lol.

Pacific Division

1st – Los Angeles Lakers (58-24)

As if having Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol wasn’t enough to make this a quality team, they went out and added one of the best point guards of all time, Steve Nash, and arguably the best big man in the game, Dwight Howard.  Like the Yankees in Baseball, if this Lakers team does not at least make the NBA Finals, the season will be considered a bust.  Lakers owner Jerry Buss had the best offseason out of any owner and he is clearly looking to get that elusive sixth ring on Kobe’s finger.  Dwight has a lot to prove after royally screwing over the entire Orlando Magic franchise and there has already been talks of the Lakers becoming Dwight’s team when Kobe decides to hang up his shoes.  While a Lakers/Heat Finals is not set in stone, I think it could go down as the best Finals ever.

2nd – Los Angeles Clippers (53-29)

It was great to see the Clippers take themselves out of the bottom of the division and not only make the playoffs last year, but show everyone they have a team that will continue to build for years to come.  This season the Clippers have the return of a healthy Chauncey Billups, and with the acquisitions of veterans Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill and Lamar Odom, LA is in great shape to make some noise during the playoffs this year.  They have the unfortunate pleasure of having their neighbors in the same division because if they didn’t, I feel they could have won the division easily.  Blake Griffin has a lot to prove this year and I think he will.  I think this year we could see the first ever LA vs LA Western Conference Finals, which could be almost as exciting as the Subway Series.

3rd – Phoenix Suns (41-41)

What will the Phoenix Suns do without Steve Nash?  They will remain an average team with some nice young talent to build around.  New starting Point Guard, Goran Dragic, is not a terrible player and he has some very nice supporting cast around him.  Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat, and Michael Beasley make up one of the better scoring front courts in the West and the acquisition of Wesley Johnson from the Timberwolves will give Dragic a nice option on the wing.  Sebastian Telfair and UNC Rookie Kendall Marshall will both share time backing up Dragic and I truly think that if Marshall can develop a respectable jump shot, then he can be a formidable PG in the NBA as he has some of the best court vision his former college coach, Roy Williams, has ever seen.

4th – Golden State Warriors (33-49)

After Mark Jackson’s rookie coaching campaign came to an end, his organization did everything they could to make life a little easier for him during his sophomore year.  They got rid of hothead-ball hog Monte Ellis and brought in veterans Richard Jefferson and former #1 pick of the draft, Andrew Bogut.  They also drafted Harrison Barnes out of UNC who has the potential to be a very productive part of this teams future.  The main thing that the Warriors need to stay a competitive team this season is the their starting PG, Stephen Curry, to stay healthy all year long.  Curry is not your prototypical NBA PG, so I think he will be sharing a lot of time playing with his back up, Jarrett Jack.  The Warriors won’t win too much this year, but things look positive for the future.

5th – Sacramento Kings (27-55)

This team sucks!  There is no easier way for me to say it.  They have one of most talented Small Forwards in the West in Tyreke Evans, but outside of him they literally do not have one respectable starter on their roster.  You would think that with Isiah Thomas playing the Point Guard that the Kings would be great.  The only problem with that is their Isiah Thomas is the second year man out of Washington and not the Detroit Piston’s former Hall of Famer.  Thomas Robinson out of Kansas has a lot of upside, but he has years before he will be a formidable asset for the Kings.  This team has a lot of fixing up to do and I think it will start during the regular season with big trades coming from Sacramento involving DeMarcus Cousins and even possibly Tyreke Evans.

Southwest

1st – Memphis Grizzles (50-32)

The Memphis Grizzlies did a fantastic job of keeping the core of their team together after a very successful regular season where they finished with the third best record in the Western Conference.  They lost OJ Mayo, but with what Tony Allen was able to prove last season, they should be more than comfortable with him at the shooting guard position.  Rudy Gay looks healthy and ready to roll come the beginning of the season and I think that if he and fellow forward Zack Randolph remain healthy, then the Grizzlies will be able to compete with anyone in the league.  Memphis’ starting Center, Marc Gasol, had a great season last year and after a hard fought Olympics, he looks ready to prove that he is the best Center in the West…behind Dwight of course.

2nd – San Antonio Spurs (48-34)

The San Antonio Spurs took everyone by surprise last season as they finished the season tied with the Chicago Bulls for the best record in the NBA.  Most impressively, the Spurs went an astonishing 31-11 against teams with a record above .500.  Like the Grizzlies, the Spurs were able to keep majority of their team together which means to me that this will be coach Popovich’s final push to win another Championship with the great Tim Duncan.  One issue that this team might run into throughout the season is the same problem that the Knicks might face…injuries.  This team is really old and they are already starting the season with Manu Ginobili on the bench with a hamstring problem.  If the Spurs struggle early, look for their French rookie, Nando de Colo, to come in and get some minutes.

3rd – Dallas Mavericks (44-38)

If the Mavericks weren’t a perennially winning franchise over the past decade, then I would have ranked them with a much worse record.  Their best player, Dirk Nowitzki, is out for at least the first 5 weeks of the season and they lost their former sixth man of the year, Jason Terry, to the Boston Celtics.  Their starting Point Guard, Jason Kidd, went to the Knicks and their starting Center, Chris Kaman, has been plagued with injuries during the offseason.  The biggest positive for Dallas is that they put together a new and talented back court consisting of former Hornets and Pacers PG, Darren Collison, and former Grizzlies SG, OJ Mayo.  The Mavericks also brought in veteran Power Forward, Elton Brand, who will fill in while Dirk is out.

4th – Houston Rockets (34-48)

With Jeremy Lin as the new starting Point Guard of the Houston Rockets, they should have no trouble winning it all, right?  But seriously…Lin is proving early on in the preseason that he might not be the star we all thought he could be.  On top of Lin’s struggles, Houston’s front office has made some very dramatic noise less than a week before the regular season.  They acquired the reigning sixth man of the year, James Harden, from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for the injury prone Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb.  There were some other players involved in the trade, but no one of any real significance.  If Lin can fix his early season struggles and Harden can find a way to fit in right away, the Rockets can have a team to recon within upcoming years…just not now.

5th – New Orleans Hornets (30-52)

Within three years I feel that this team can easily be on the top of this division because their offseason was a great start to the rebuilding phase for the franchise   The #1 pick of the draft has so much upside that I honestly think he can be a triple-double threat on a nightly basis with his ability to pull in boards and block anything that comes his way.  I will call it now; Anthony Davis will average the most Blocks per game this season.  On top of getting Davis, The Hornets also drafted Doc Rivers son Austin Rivers, who can be a solid NBA player if he adds some meat to himself.  He is a sharp shooter that demands a defender around the arc which should open up the paint area for Davis to dominate.  The addition of Ryan Anderson from Orlando should be some nice help for the young rookies.

Northwest

1st – Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27)

The defending Western Conference Champions are entering this season with a motivation to prove that last year was not a fluke.  Kevin Durant is determined to win his first NBA MVP after already racking up 3 scoring championships.  Just a week ago, the Thunder’s future had a huge alteration with the trade of James Harden to the Houston Rockets.  While Jeremy Lamb has the potential to be very good and Kevin Martin is great but rarely healthy, the loss of Harden will be a tough one to get over.  Having said that, Durant and his PIC, Russel Westbrook, are the second best duo in the NBA, Wade and James being the best.  I am going out on a limb here by predicting that Serge Ibaka will be on the all-NBA first team defense this season.

2nd – Denver Nuggets (50-32)

The Denver Nuggets can be one of the surprise teams of the 2012-13 NBA season.  Last year, the Nuggets rookie, Kenneth Faried, had a very impressive rookie season and is poised to follow it up by making himself a household name this year.  With high flying Center, JaVale McGee, having a full offseason and preseason with the Nuggets he should be able to fit into George Carl’s system like a glove.  Denver also acquired Andre Iguodala from the 76ers, which should add some much needed defense to a team that focuses mainly on offense.  With Ty Lawson and Andre Miller splitting time at the point and Danilo Gallinari looking to finally get through a season without an injury, I think the Nuggets can compete with the best in the West.  Wilson Chandler is back from China, so that should help some as well.

3rd – Minnesota Timberwolves (41-41)

If the Timberwolves are ever going to have a playoff team again, this is it.  Kevin Love is one of the best players in the NBA and will average 20+ PPG and 15+ RPG.  Minnesota went out and brought in Brandon Roy from the Blazers and with Roy’s veteran leadership I think they have enough pieces to make it in as the eighth seed in the West.  They also acquired Andrei Kirilenko and if he and sophomore Ricky Rubio can both stay healthy, then the Wolves have formidable players in 4 out of the 5 starting positions.  Their Center, Nikola Pekovic, was a huge surprise for the Wolves last year as he averaged 14 PPG and 8 RPG.  If he can keep those same numbers up this year and Russian Rookie, Alexey Shved, can develop a consistent shooting game, then the Wolves will stop being laughed at.

4th –  Utah Jazz (33-49)

The days of John Stockton and Karl Malone are far gone and the Utah Jazz are on the steady decline towards NBA obscurity.  Their head coach, Tyrone Corbin, has a lot of fixing to do in his first full season leading the Jazz.  Paul Millsap is coming off of back-to-back amazing seasons and with the Jazz picking up Small Forward, Marvin Williams, from the Atlanta Hawks, Millsap will be able to find some more openings down low.  The Jazz picked up Mo Williams from the Los Angeles Clippers and he should be able to cause some problems for defenses but he is definitely not a traditional PG.  The Jazzes biggest weakness is their SG position, where Gordon Heyward takes the starting spot and shouldn’t be anywhere near an NBA court.

5th – Portland Trailblazers (29-53)

While I think that Anthony Davis of the Hornets will take home the NBA’s ROY trophy, I feel that the Trailblazers Damian Lillard, will give him a run for his money.  Not many people know about Lillard, as he went to Weber State, but he will be the starting PG for Portland this year and through the preseason he has shown signs of brilliance.  Pair Lillard with Lamarcus Aldridge and you have a couple of key pieces to a team with a good future.  Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews are very talented shooters and can help Portland run up the score board.  Their biggest problems come on the defensive end where they will not stop anyone.  The Trailblazers did acquire Jared Jeffries so maybe they will at least draw an offensive foul or two a game.

 

That is how I feel the NBA’s Western Conference will pan out and I would love it if you told us how you think the season will go and whether or not you agree with us.

 


Who Will Win it All This Year?

Every season the NBA General Managers and front office’s get surveyed and vote on the regular season awards, trophies and titles that will be given out throughout the year.  This is an anonymous survey and no teams can vote for themselves or their players.  The most intriguing vote is obviously who will take home the grand prize of NBA Champion.  This season, there was an overwhelming dominance in votes for the Miami Heat to repeat as champions.  70% of executives voted for the Heat to win it all while the Lakers received 23% and the Thunder closed it out with 7%.  I know that Miami and the Thunder made it to the Finals last year and the Lakers had the biggest offseason of any team in the league, but does that make the 3 of them the only viable candidates to win the whole thing?  With teams like the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs filled with quality veteran rosters and new young and developing teams like the Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets and even the Brooklyn Nets, I feel that there is a lot more competition out there than the NBA executives seem to think.  I don’t feel this season is so cut and dry and I would like to see who everyone out there feels will win it all this year.

 

 


It’s About Damn Time, It’s About Damn Time!

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The long road to a championship, rode long by a champion.

NBA Rookie of the Year, 8-time NBA All-Star selection, 2008 Scoring Title, 3-time NBA MVP, and 6-time NBA All First Team selection would seem to be enough accolades to be considered one of the best ever.  Well, for Lebron James it wasn’t until last night when he led his Miami Heat to the NBA Title and picked up his first ever Championship ring and Finals MVP award.  The dark cloud that has been following over Lebron’s head since he decided to take his talents to South Beach has finally gone away and now the best player in the world can get the credit he deserves.  I can’t say I was rooting for James to win it, but as a basketball fan and they way he won it was absolutely remarkable.

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Over sounds of Thunder, the Heat lightning struck and burned

From the opening tip in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, James seemed determined to finish the series in Miami and not have to travel back to the most hostile environment in the NBA, OKC.  Fittingly, Miami’s first two points were from an emphatic slam by James and from that point on you just felt that his talents had finally surfaced in South Beach the way he promised his fans back in 2010.  Throughout the playoffs I was cheering against Miami for no other reason than I am a huge supporter of the underdog.  I mean I am a Mets, Knicks and Jets fan.  In this game, as the minutes slowly diminished and Miami was rapping up their rout of the Thunder, 121-106, I found myself smiling and slightly impressed with what Miami had accomplished.

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Double Check? No, I was just checking to make sure I didn’t wet myself from laughing!

There’s something to be said about winning a championship, but there is a lot more to be said about a team that wins a championship when most of the world is rooting against them.  As much as I would like to not give any credit to anyone except Lebron, I can’t.  This Championship run was a legitimate team effort.  From consistently strong games from Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, to surprising shooting performances from Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers, there was really no chance for OKC.  The second that the Thunder developed a game plan, Miami seemed to have their counterattack ready to go.

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It was Miller time even before the celebrations began!

In the clinching game 5, Miami’s surprising star was non-other than “Sir Limps A Lot,” Mike Miller.  Like a robotic zombie, Miller limped up and down the court and just drained 3-pointer after 3-pointer.  Miller entered the game 0-3 from downtown, but after game 5 finished he was an astonishing 7-11 for the series.  For all you math whizzes out there, that means he went a lights out 7-8 from beyond the arc in an NBA Title clinching game…that is amazing!  I hate to say it but even Miami’s undeserving coach seemed to of run a few plays that actually looked like he knew what he was doing.  I find it remarkable that a team that has basically been together for 2 years waited till their final game of the NBA Finals to show the world their best stuff.

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Yeah – something even bigger than MY head and that shines as much as me.

Sure Miami won their second Championship ever as a franchise and it was a total team effort, but what the fans of basketball will always remember this series as is Lebron’s first title.  Now, will it be the first of many like Lebron promised us two years ago?  In my opinion I think it is.  If last night’s game, and all of the playoffs for that matter, is any indication of how Lebron’s game is improving then the rest of the world should step aside.  Michael Jordan didn’t win his first Championship until he was 28 and the now 27 year-old James has a platform to measure the rest of his career against.  Congratulations to the Miami Heat for winning the NBA Championship and a special congratulations to Lebron James for not only proving the haters wrong, but proving that he is the best player in the world.


Super Mario and the Heat Are One Game Away

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Big 3 look good, but Mario is the real chalmer.

It wasn’t Lebron James, it wasn’t Dwayne Wade and it wasn’t Chris Bosh, so who pushed the Miami Heat to a 104-98 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in game 4 of the NBA Finals?  His name is Mario Chalmers and he was absolutely marvelous.  When the Heat were down and needed a place to turn, Mario took a note out of Russel Westbrook’s book and focused more on scoring rather than passing.  Now that is not typically the mentality you want from your starting point guard but there are many times when it is effective.  Chalmers scored 25 points which was only 1 point behind James for their team high.  There were times late in the game where Chalmers looked as dominant as he once did when he played for the Kansas Jayhawks.

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West broke without Westbrook

OKC came out to a blazing start and seemed to have complete control over the game.  Unfortunately for the Thunder, they really only had one player show up and that was Russel Westbrook.  Westbrook had a performance that I can only describe as one of the most impressive offensive outbursts I have ever seen in an NBA Finals game.  Russel had a stat line of 43 points, including 17 in the fourth, and 7 rebounds and 5 assists.  Westbrook’s PIC (Partner in Crime), Kevin Durant, seemed a little flat during the game and although he finished with 28 points he never seemed to make the big shot that shifted momentum back into the Thunder’s favor.  Sixth man of the year, James Harden, was pathetic all game and if he doesn’t turn it around then the Thunder have absolutely no chance to beat Miami Thursday.

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It took a while but I found the definition of Referee that seems to fit: “a person who is willing to testify to the character or capabilities of someone”. So not necessarily someone who judges play, but a character reference for Lebron.

Now I don’t like making excuses, especially in the Finals, but something is getting out of hand.  The refereeing in this series as well as every one of Lebron James’ series, has been inconsistent and unfair.  Westbrook had 43 points, he took 18 shots from within the painted area and seemed to get hacked nearly every time.  He accumulated 3 foul shots.  Lebron and Wade had 51 points combined, they took a total of 17 shots from within the painted area and got to the line 17 times.  That stat seems a little off because there is no way the calls can be that lopsided.  OKC went to the foul line the second most amount of times out of every team in the NBA during the regular season but only made it there 16 times in game 4.  That is a fucking joke because the refs seem to cradle Lebron James’ testicles in their hands as he hacks players without whistles on a regular basis.  Even my PIC, NYBobby, called me during the game to say he noticed what I and the basketball world have been saying all year.

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Despite obvious help from refs, James still manages to be the best B-baller on his own.

ESPN analyst Steven A. Smith has been criticizing the refereeing all playoffs long and said this morning that one of the reasons that Durant is getting the shit end of every call this series is because he is too skinny.  That really pisses me off because with that logic I should be in the NBA because my fat ass would be getting every call in my favor.  Now I will stop bitching about the refs and give some credit where credit is due.  Lebron James is the best player in the world.  He can dominate whenever he wants and in game 4 he even proved that he can score without being able to use his legs.  Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game that James was cramping because he was dehydrated.  Well Erik, maybe you should grab the man a cup of water once in a while because he is about to win you your first of many undeserved championships.  The series seems to be slipping away from OKC and now Thursday’s game will determine if these two teams are going to travel back to Oklahoma.  If OKC can win Thursday then its anyone’s series from there on.


Phil Calls Knicks “Clumsy”

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Maybe NY can have one of these copied on 42nd Street

When watching the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder battle in the NBA FInals, one thing becomes abundantly clear to the New York basketball fan.  The New York Knicks are light years away from being title contenders!  Though many Knicks fans celebrated their playoff berth this season, followed by their first playoff victory in a decade, I think watching the rest of the postseason really places things in perspective.  The Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder all put up a much better fight against the Miami Heat then the Knicks did, and after Miami wins its first Championship, I don’t see them losing any momentum in the next few years.   Many Knicks fans were banking that legendary Head Coach Phil Jackson might enter the fold and help lead the Knickerbockers to the promised land, but apparently Coach Jackson feels the same way about the Knicks as would any other fan realist.

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Amare the merrier? Anthony can mellow? Doubtful, and so are Knicks hopes.

In an interview with HBO’s Andrea Kremer, Jackson stated that even had he been offered the head coaching position for the Knicks, he would have declined.  When asked if he was interested in the gig, Jackson replied “there’s just too much work that has to be done with that team…It’s a little bit of a clumsy team.”  He further explained his point by saying  “they don’t fit together well. Stoudemire doesn’t fit well with Carmelo. Stoudemire’s a really good player. But he’s gotta play in a certain system and a way.  Carmelo has to be a better passer. And the ball can’t stop every time it hits his hands. They need to have someone come in that can kinda blend that group together.”  If the Zen Master is correct, and I tend to think he usually is, then the Knicks are in a lot of trouble with the current roster.  Carmelo Anthony has been a premier scorer during his 9 NBA seasons, and we saw what happened when he was asked to pass the ball…bye bye Mike D’Antoni!  With the max money the Knicks have tied up in both “Superstars”, it will be hard to trade the one that they would most like to separate from, Amare.  News also came out that Iman Shumpert won’t be ready to go until December at the earliest with his knee injury, and it’s also a possibility that an injury of that magnitude can have long-lasting ill effects on a young player who depends on his defensive lateral quickness.  Jeremy Lin is a free agent, and there are some skeptics who don’t know if the Knicks will, or should invest a lot of money into Linsanity.

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When I’m not playing a 70’s porn model, I like to give out good basketball advice.

Phil Jackson’s criticism comes as a surprise because he is known to be a Knicks supporter.  Phil was drafted by the Knicks back in 1967, and established himself as a fan favorite in his role off the bench.  He spent 11 years with the Knicks and was a key member of the 1973 Championship team, and also on the roster nursing an injury for the 1970 title.  The Knicks haven’t won a Championship since Phil Jackson’s name was on the team’s roster, and it was believed that Jackson always possessed the desire to come back to NY to lead the Knicks to another title before his final retirement.  Now Jackson was never offered the job in the first place, as the Knicks showed loyalty to Mike Woodson, but now we know that if he had been offered to him, Jackson wouldn’t touch this team with a 10 foot pole.  The fact that Jackson has spent a career blending the Superstar abilities of Michael Jordan with Scottie Pippen and Kobe Bryant with Shaquille O’Neal, and he doesn’t think this current combination of Knicks talent will work should tell Knicks fans all they need to know about the immediate future.  So for now, sit back and enjoy watching real NBA Superstars win a Championship from afar because according to Coach Jackson, New York will not have an up close view of true winning basketball for a long time to come.