Super Team Update: Melo to OKC, Wade to Cavs

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Published on : October 2, 2017

 

 

The biggest story in basketball right now is that Dwyane Wade has opted out of his contract with the Chicago Bulls and will be joining his former teammate and best friend, LeBron James, on the new look Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs are stocking up talent with the hopes that they have enough firepower to beat the Golden State Warriors.

 

This isn’t anything new. Seems like every owner/GM these days is trying to build a “super team” to stop the Warriors. Speaking of, Carmelo Anthony has been traded from the New York Knicks to the Oklahoma City Thunder. These are both huge moves that dramatically reshape the world of the NBA. Let’s dive into the mantle of this earth shaking news and see what it means for everyone else. Without any ranking, these are our super teams as they currently stand:

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

Warriors: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.

 

Cavaliers: LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Love,  Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose.

 

Thunder: Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams.

 

Rockets: James Harden, Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza, Nene, and 7’2″ Chinese star Zhou Qi.   

 

Celtics: Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris.

 

Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford.

 

That’s a lot of firepower on a small number of teams. Despite OKC’s big addition, it still looks like the Cavs added the most since last year. Right now, it’s on the rest of the league to stop a fourth installment of Warriors vs Cavs in the NBA Finals. Because they still look like the two best teams on paper. But who knows what the next season holds? I think many folks would love to see some new faces in the championship. Rockets vs Celtics anyone?

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

The world of the NBA is seriously changing. Being good isn’t good enough anymore. The money is too big for all of that. The stars are aligning, literally. Basketball stars are picking sides and gutting the middle class of the league. The new normal is you either have 2 or 3 superstars or you are looking to draft one. The only thing that’s clear in 2017 NBA ball is that one star can’t win a trophy alone. Best to team up.

 

Also, playing total dick-devil’s advocate, Golden State still was the edge because their roster has played together. All these other squads have just been pieced together. Those crews are going to need to time to gel. Just like the LeBron Heat didn’t win their first year. We shall see.

 

Deals.

 

 


Sweeps and Creeps: Part 5

Written by :
Published on : June 9, 2017

 

 

Good golly Miss Molly. I really thought this segment was dead but the Warriors stay perfect despite the Cavaliers’ best efforts. Golden State is currently an insane 15-0 in the NBA Playoffs and is one win away from completing the ultimate sweep. Needless to say, this is all uncharted territory in terms of the record book. This undefeated quest is bonkers and if this team manages to complete the sweep then they will go down as one of the best NBA teams ever assembled.

 

This final installment of Sweeps and Creeps 2017 is all about game 3 of the NBA Finals. By all measure, the best of the series by a wide margin. Mostly because it was close and competitive the entire time. Something that was sorely missing from the blowouts of games 1 and 2. We all knew LeBron James and the Cavs were going to come out firing on their home floor. Much like what happened in the 2016 Finals. And they did. It was back-and-forth action from tipoff. After a wild first quarter, Warriors were up 39-32.

 

durant-celebrate-game 3

 

Cleveland was playing so much better than their previous efforts. They had pace and aggression, they were attacking the rim and it was working. It was 67-61 Golden State at half, thanks in large part to the brilliant shooting of Klay Thompson who had 30 points on 11 of 18 attempts, including 6-11 from three point land. But the story for the Cavs started in the second half with Kyrie Irving. The dude took the game over. Driving, shooting, passing. It was beautiful. Kyrie finished with 38 points on 16 of 29 from the field but 0 for 7 on threes.

 

LeBron once again showed us his lion-sized heart on the way to 39 points on 15 of 27 shooting, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. JR Smith kicked in 16 points, going 5 of 10 from behind the arc. Kevin Love had a rough outing. He notched only 9 points on 1 of 7 from the field. Kyle Korver added 8 points but missed a huge shot late in the game. Cleveland got almost nothing from anyone else on the roster. Overall, it wasn’t enough. Not when Steph had 26 points on 8 of 19 shooting and 5 of 9 from three, plus 13 rebounds and 6 assists. But the real star was Kevin Durant. KD lead the Warriors with 31 points on an efficient 10 of 18 from the field, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Including this monster from the last minute of the game. This sequence turned the whole contest.

 

 

Durant is a beast. The Warriors clawed their way back after a huge 3rd quarter effort from the Cavaliers. Suddenly, things were getting very interesting as time ticked away. The last 2 minutes were all Golden State. The Dubs ended the game on an 11-0 run and most of that is courtesy of Kevin Durant. Final score 118-113. The stunned faces of the home town crowd said it all. The Cavs got hero performances from James and Irving and still lost. This begs the question: does Cleveland have enough firepower to win a game?

 

I’ve changed my prediction with each new Sweeps and Creeps article (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4) so no reason to stop now. After all this, I’m the creep that’s calling the sweep. That’s right. The Warriors will stay golden, win game 4 and the championship. Believe that.

 

Sad LeBron.

 

 


Sweeps and Creeps: Part 4

Written by :
Published on : June 7, 2017

 

 

Welcome back to Sweeps and Creeps, I thought this segment was done for the year but then the Warriors won game 2 of the 2017 NBA Finals by a commanding score of 132-113. And the thought crossed my mind, “could we really see another sweep?” Well, just asking that question was enough for a little exploration. Many are quick to mention that Golden State was up 2-0 last year and ended up losing. That’s true but they are a different team now. They have Kevin Durant and are a PERFECT 14-0 in the playoffs so far. So it’s not crazy to discuss whether or not that success is going to continue.

 

Game 1: Warriors win 113-91

Here we go. The matchup we’ve all been waiting for. Cleveland’s stars played well. LeBron James went 9-20 for 28 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists. Kyrie added 10-22 shooting for 24 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Kevin Love added 15 points and 21 rebounds but the Cavs got little help elsewhere. On the other side, Kevin Durant made the most of his Warriors Finals debut with the and dropped 38 points of 14-26 shooting with 9 boards and 8 dimes. Steph followed suit with 28 points on 11-22 shooting (including 6-11 from 3-point land) with 6 rebounds and 10 assists.

 

Curry lay up game 1 2017

 

Cleveland gave up too many dunks and easy buckets to keep up with the high octane Warriors. Gunnar explained all that and what the Cavs needed to change but they didn’t totally listen. I’m worried that the Cavaliers are simply out-gunned. Even if they get 30 each from their big 3 (James, Irving, Love) they could still come up short to a Golden State crew that has at least 7 ballers that can drop 20 (Curry, Durant, Thompson, Green, Livingston, Clark, Iguodala) on any given outing.

 

Game 2: Warriors win 132-113

Cleveland came out aggressive. LeBron was driving and scoring, Kevin Love was knocking down shots all over and the Cavs looked ready to play. Unfortunately for them, so did the Warriors. Steve Kerr was back to coaching and Steph Curry went 10 for 10 from the free throw line on the way to a 40 point first quarter for the team. Each time the Cavaliers closed the gap, Durant or Curry would make a big play and rebuild the cushion. This went on and on.

 

Cleveland never recaptured the lead and it broke wide open in the last half of the 4th quarter. James went to the bench and Cavs coach, Lue,  got a look at the reserves. Some lineup changes may be in order. Overall, the Warriors scored tons of points but they didn’t protect the ball very well. Imagine what they could do if they limited the turnovers? On the Cleveland side, they looked gassed. Like they couldn’t keep up with Golden State’s pace. Something better change or we are headed for broom town.

 

Green Durant hi five 2017 finals

 

Game 3

If the Cavs don’t win this contest on their home court then this series is over. Yes, they came back from down 3-1 last year but down 3-0, to this squad? No way, that’s too tall of a mountain to climb, even for LeBron. That being said, expect the James gang to be hype in the Believeland. Even if there is a sweep, game 3 should be the closest contest we see. We shall see Wednesday, June 7th.

 

The old prediction was Warriors in 7. But after seeing the blowouts of games 1 and 2, the guess must be recalibrated. Warriors in 5. The Cavaliers are the perfect creeps to stop the championship super sweep but they haven’t shown enough for me to think they can storm back. Even though I hope they do, just so we can see a great show. Read the old Sweeps and Creeps here. Part 1, part 2 and part 3.

 

“Warriors, come out to play”.

 

 


3 adjustments the Cavs need to make after game one

Written by :
Published on : June 2, 2017

 

 

The NBA Finals have finally arrived, but apparently seven days of rest wasn’t quite enough time to prepare for the Cleveland Cavaliers. As bad as game one went for the Cavs, many of their problems are fixable. After a first half that was littered with sloppy possessions and defensive breakdowns, the Cavs were very fortunate to only be down by eight. If head coach, Tyronn Lue, made some seemingly obvious halftime adjustments, I thought Cleveland would have a chance to steal a game on the road. Instead, the Warriors outscored the Cavs 33-20 in the third quarter and ran away with the game.

 

Now, the pressure is on Lue to get his team on the same page and make the necessary adjustments, two things he failed to do in game one. LeBron James also deserves some blame, as he tied a season high with eight turnovers, despite otherwise finishing with great stats. Since Lue took over as head coach, there’s been speculation over whether he is really coaching the team, or he’s just a figurehead who falls in line with LeBron’s commands. Regardless who’s calling the shots, here’s three things the Cavaliers need to do differently in order to avoid complete and utter disaster.

 

James Curry Finals 2017

 

Smarter possessions, simplify offense, limit turnovers

One mistake the Cavs were making, LeBron in particular, was overthinking things on offense. Their offense was at it’s best when LeBron and Kyrie Irving attacked the basket, as it normally is. Despite that, they were determined to get the ball to Kevin Love whenever he was guarded by Kevin Durant, but Durant was up to the task and Love shot 4-13 from the field. Much of Love’s bad shooting was due to him getting the ball in difficult positions. LeBron had at least two turnovers on plays where he forced very difficult lob passes to Love when he wasn’t open.

 

LeBron had another near turnover attempting to lob a pass to Irving from half court. Somehow Irving came up with the ball, but the long pass gave the defense time to swarm him and the possession did not result in points. LeBron did this because Irving was being guarded by Steph Curry and the Cavs liked the matchup, but Cleveland will have many opportunities for Irving to attack Curry without lobbing him the ball in the post. They can simply give Irving the ball on the perimeter, where he’s comfortable, and let him attack Curry one-on-one, as he did in the final three games of the 2016 Finals. Forcing lob passes to a guy who’s 6’3” in high heels, or a guy with a four inch vertical, doesn’t seem necessary when you have two players who attack the basket and create offense as well as LeBron and Kyrie.

 

James dunk 2017 finals

 

Another LeBron turnover came late in the 2nd quarter, on a play where he made a great drive to the basket, could have had a layup, but instead threw the ball right to Klay Thompson, leading to fast break points for Golden State. At halftime, one would think Tyronn Lue and the Cavs would adjust their game plan to stop forcing the ball to Love and various role players because they like the matchups, and start attacking the basket with LeBron and Irving regardless who is guarding them. Conversely, on the first possession of the 2nd half, the Cavs went to JR Smith in the post. Again, he was being guarded by Curry and they liked the matchup. Not surprisingly, Smith made a few sloppy dribbles and lost the ball.

 

The head-scratching possessions continued for Cleveland. On one play, Irving forced the ball to a well-guarded Tristan Thompson who was immediately tied up for a jump ball. In a fourth quarter possession, Deron Williams took the ball down the court, tried to beat his defender off the dribble and forced up a contested fadeaway. Tyronn Lue needs to tell Williams this is the 2017 LeBron James/Kyrie Irving Cleveland Cavaliers, not the 2010 Deron Williams Utah Jazz. I don’t care who’s guarding them, JR Smith, Tristan Thompson and Deron Williams creating their own shot is NEVER a higher percentage play than LeBron James or Kyrie Irving creating their own shot. Instead of focusing so much on the Warriors perceived weaknesses, and good matchups for bad offensive players, the Cavs should play to their own strengths. James and Irving need to attack the basket as often as humanly possible. Then they can kick it out to open shooters when the defense starts overcompensating for them. That’s when guys like JR Smith and Deron Williams can get some easy baskets.

 

Less switching and rotating, more guarding the guy with the ball

This one may seem obvious, but the Cavaliers didn’t seem pick up on it all game. Amid their constant frantic mess of switching and rotating, Cleveland either didn’t have a strong defensive game plan, or they didn’t understand it well enough to execute it. It looked like no one on the Cavs knew who to guard all game, and as a result they basically didn’t guard anyone. I’m not a basketball coach, but if I was going to pick the most important person to guard, I’d start with the guy who has the ball. The Cavs were so caught up in their rotating ways, the nearest defender opted to rotate off the guy with the ball on several fast breaks, leaving the Warriors with easy dunks and layups. Most notably was a second quarter play where Kyrie Irving was dropping back to pick up Kevin Durant on a fast break, then he inexplicably ran away from Durant to double-team a three point shooter, as Durant took a free pass to the hoop. Even Durant smiled in disbelief after the easiest dunk of his NBA career.

 

Durant dunk 2017 finals

 

I realize Cleveland wants to avoid playing traditional man, since they don’t like a lot of the one-on-one defensive matchups, and it would be hard to keep up with Golden State’s ball movement, but Tyronn Lue needs to find a way to simplify Cleveland’s defensive approach and make sure everyone understands who to guard. Minimize the the switching and rotating, because while the Cavs were switching and rotating, the Warriors were shooting and scoring. And if all else fails, for god sakes, just guard the guy with the damn ball!

 

Less JR, more Jefferson

Last year, Tyronn Lue earned his respect by adjusting his lineup based on which role players were working best in any given game or series. This year, Lue has kept JR Smith in the starting lineup as long as he’s been healthy. Smith started in 35 out of the 41 games he was available during the regular season, despite shooting a career low 34.6% from the field, and scoring 8.6 points per game, his lowest in eleven seasons. While his field goal percentage has risen in the playoffs, he’s scoring a measly 6.4 points per game in 26.4 minutes. That’s not very good for a guy who’s main asset is scoring. Smith apparently played 28 minutes in game one, although you probably didn’t realize that unless you checked the box score, since he essentially did nothing to help the Cavs.

 

Meanwhile, Richard Jefferson was Cleveland’s third best player in the limited minutes that he was on the court in game one. Jefferson was one of the unsung heroes of the 2016 Finals, playing 24 minutes per game and providing great defense and savvy veteran experience. At 36 years old, I understand why the Cavs haven’t used him a lot this season, but this might be the time to start. He can guard Kevin Durant better than any Cavalier aside from LeBron, he makes good decisions with the ball (like passing to LeBron and Kyrie), and he knows when to be aggressive. Cleveland can’t start Jefferson because he plays the same position as LeBron, but they need to play him a lot more than his current postseason average of 11 minutes per game, and start getting him in the game before garbage time.

 

The Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson (11) drives against the Cleveland Cavaliers' Richard Jefferson (24) in the second quarter of Game 1 of The Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, June 1, 2017. (Nhat V. MeyerBay Area News Group)

 

In the 2016 Finals, Cleveland proved they’re never out of a series when they were down three games to one against Golden State and came back to win the championship. This year, the Warriors added Kevin Durant, and the margin for error is even smaller for the Cavs. The Warriors have one of the best teams ever assembled, and they deserve a lot of credit for how well they played in game one. But you can’t beat a team as great as Warriors if you’re busy beating yourselves. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the Cavs were doing wrong in game one, their mistakes were glaringly obvious. Hopefully Tyronn Lue realizes this and makes the adjustments the Cavaliers desperately need. That way the Cavs can at least make the series interesting enough to force Jeff Van Gundy to talk about what’s happening on the court instead of his awkward schoolboy crush on Rihanna. Otherwise, Lue could be packing his bags to join David Blatt as assistant in Turkey while LeBron is picking a new head coach in the offseason.

 

 


SBS Guide to: Pokemon Go

Written by :
Published on : July 14, 2016

 

 

The Pokemon Go phenomenon is sweeping the globe. It’s not too late to get on the cool train for earth’s next big thing. Go to the app store on your phone and download Pokemon Go. Don’t worry it’s free. While it installs, read this guide to hit the ground running and not act like a total noob. Even if you don’t ever want to play, listen up so you can seem in touch around your coworkers and family. Now, who’s ready to catch ’em all?

 

Getting Started

Sign your privacy rights away and agree to the terms of service, then create your avatar. The game will start and you will find one of the three starting pokemon in your area. Feel free to grab it and move on. If you want to start with franchise favorite, Pikachu, then run away from the first few encounters and you will run into that yellow heartbreaker.

 

You can’t compete at the gyms until you are level 5, so spend that early time collecting as many different pokemon as possible. It will help you level-up quick. Maybe use your incense to attract pokemon to your location. You start with 2 incense in your inventory. Make sure to hit local pokespot. Spin the disk to get free items.

 

Catching Pokemon

charmander

 

When you meet a wild pokemon, the first thing you need to do is breathe. Then take out a pokeball and give it the perfect throw. You need to use some arc. Like a NBA jump shooter. Think Ray Allen or Klay Thompson. I prefer my pointer finger over a thumb. You need that delicate touch. Higher CP (Combat Power) pokemon are harder to snare so your approach becomes important. Hold your finger on the pokeball and targeting rings will appear on your prey. When the ring closes in, toss the ball. This is the key to landing rare gems. Treats will also help but you already knew that.

 

Expert Tips

Be carful how you allocate your upgrade resources. You could dump all your stardust into one pokemon only to find catch one of the same variety with a higher CP. Lesson here is just don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Speaking of eggs, only when the app is open will steps be counted toward your total needed for hatching. No way to speed up incubation other than getting out and walking.

 

Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t hunt and drive. Don’t walk into traffic. And generally, just pay attention. Armed thugs in Missouri used a pokestop to rob unsuspecting players who showed up. The app uses your live GPS location which is awesome and kind of scary.

 

pokemon go map

 

Closing Thoughts

I love the augmented reality, or AR. The animation overlaid on the camera view is revolutionary. It’s the best part of Pokemon Go. In a few short days, the world got used to AR, all while increasing Nintendo’s stock $9 billion dollars. The future of gaming is here and we are never going back. I don’t think many understand but we just broke through a big barrier. Congrats world.

 

Also, I love how this little program is making folks get up and get active. Not since Tinder has there been an app that has truly touched people. That’s a small victory but I’ll take it.

 

I wanna be the very best.

 

 


One More Shot

Written by :
Published on : June 13, 2016

 

 

After Game 4 of the NBA Finals the Cavs must now fight back for The Land on Monday night. More specifically, LeBron James and company must fight for their hometown and everything that it stands for to secure a win and a Game 6. He must lead his team to victory by making sure everyone brings their A-game. And that A-game requires stamina, great defense, making buckets, and a team chemistry that has been lackluster compared to the Warriors, who also have a strong bench.

 

My father, Greg Brinda, aka @SirFranksnBacon, reminded me early on and even after the Warriors were down three games against the Oklahoma City Thunder, that we can’t underestimate the talent of Golden State. He was right. After all, they did win 73 games during the regular season. It seems like this NBA regular and playoff season has been record breaking for both the Cavs and Warriors, but at the end of the day records won’t matter. What will matter is a NBA Championship. But is it still possible for the Cavs to win three games in a row, to win a championship for Cleveland after this kind of disappointment? We thought we had all of the pieces in place. Now, I’m not so sure. Now, it’s one game at a time.  

 

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                                                The look of LeBron’s disappointment after the Game 4 loss.

 

The only thing we can do as fans is to keep hope alive. In fact, I went to my first ever NBA Finals game this past Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena for Game 4. Along with nearly 20,500 other fans who brought their A-game, we cheered and roared as loud as we could. But let’s face it. As fans, we have the easy job. This is what the Brinda squad believes will have to happen in order for the Cavs to bring home a championship (in no particular order):

 

  1. LeBron will have to play the kind of basketball we know and love him for. You know the aggressive, breathtaking kind of B-Ball that redefines the sport itself.
  2. Kyrie will have to share the ball. No more ball-hogging. No more trying to school Curry. After all, there’s no “Kyrie” in “team.”
  3. J.R. Smith will actually have to hit three point shots in all four quarters, and a lot of them. Period.
  4. LeBron and Tristan Thompson will have to make their free throws. Come on guys. You’ve been doing this since you were kids. It’s the first thing you learn. Plus, it’s a part of both of your very large salaries. That goes for everyone else.
  5. DEFENSE. Stomp. Stomp. DEFENSE. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. When the guy on the other team goes for a shot, block it or at least try to stop the shot. Basketball 101. Also, we weren’t afraid to try and steal the ball before the Finals… so let’s do that now. There’s nothing more satisfying than to see Steph Curry having his favorite toy taken from him (and I’m not talking about his mouthpiece).
  6. Let’s hope that Golden State has a bad shooting night.
  7. Let’s hope that the Cavs have a GREAT shooting night.
  8. Tyronn, can you coach-up a little and be aggressive? Like break your clipboard when you get angry and yell at your team to do their job? Or tell LeBron to shut up and listen? Any emotion really would be good.
  9. Hope that the NBA suspends Draymond Green for hitting players in the nuts. Oh wait, they already did!!! But when he comes back, let’s show him a taste of his own medicine and get Dahntay Jones in for a few minutes.
  10. Let’s hope that the toilets overflow in the Golden State locker room right before game time. It’s an old arena. Nobody likes being chased by their own poop. Or haunted for that matter. And nobody likes getting their new sneakers dirty. (Cough. Cough. Steph Curry.)
  11. If Master Chef Curry thinks he can bring the heat in his new shoes, then the Cavs should bring back the affordable Starbury to cook up a win at a much lower cost. Sure the stakes are high, but why the price of the shoe? Let’s show future generations that championships can be won without breaking the bank. #Doitforthekids.
  12. Kevin, just keep getting up and shooting the ball. For the love of Love, try to stay in the game without getting hurt!
  13. Someone get Delly a Dilly Bar! Just keep the energy and ferocity up. You don’t need to be a hero. You don’t need to make threes. Just do what you do best. Get in their face like the hyper, sugar filled man-kid you are!
  14. Massive food poisoning at the Golden State team meeting (totally coincidental of course).
  15. Play Channing Frye more and pat your fearless defender, Richard Jefferson, on the back for doing his job.
  16. Think of your fans. The fans who stand for four quarters and bring their A-game. The community that comes together to support their hometown team even if they now live in other states or countries! Sure, Golden State wants to win a championship at home for their fans. And if this goes to a game seven, most Clevelanders will be watching from afar, but we’ll take it. We want that win even more and we’ll keep the cheers coming from across the land, across the sea, until you hear us loud and clear – We love you Cavs! (Even if you do piss us off sometimes) We know you can do it!

 

kevin-love-kyrie-irving-jr-smith-tristan-thompson-db726cf1465c917d
                                                                 The guys need to get back to having fun.

 

Lastly, go out there and have fun. I’m sure LeBron and his teammates understand the magnitude of Game 5. But they can’t let it get to them. Instead, I hope they are enjoying every moment of being in the Finals – just as LeBron reminded them before the start of game one. This opportunity is special and in many ways a privilege. And as Jim Thome once told me, “You have to cherish every moment of it.” So I hope they are sitting at the Buena Vista Cafe this morning, taking in the breeze of the bay, listening to the seals bark at the tourists, and sipping on a nice Irish Coffee (sans alcohol of course). I hope they are reading the funnies in the newspaper or playing a game of chess with the local elders. Maybe Kyrie found a local court last night somewhere in Oakland and introduced Uncle Drew to a few young bloods. Hopefully, he took JR Smith with him to shake off his typical Finals jitters. Perhaps Kevin Love met up with his childhood buddy, Klay Thompson, and had a good catch.

 

It is just a game. But it can mean so much more to future, past, and present generations that look to their sports teams for inspiration, distraction, and yes, love (in some weird way). The Cavs just need to go out there, have fun, and do what they sometimes do best – WIN. After all, the pressure’s finally off! The drought has officially been broken since this past Saturday when the Lake Erie Monsters took home the Calder Cup! (I hope you know that AHL Hockey Championships don’t really count.) #Cavsinseven.

 

 


Why They Can Win: NBA Finals

Written by :
Published on : June 2, 2016

 

 

The Golden State Warriors just crawled from a dark hole with incredible and triumphant feats of basketball fury. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been been patiently waiting, loaded and fully healthy. These NBA finals are far from a repeat of last year, as the tired Warriors will face up against a transformed Cleveland team that paces and spaces, with less reliance on last year’s bully-ball. There are also new questions, like how the Dubs will play after a truly legendary performance against an Oklahoma City Thunder team that took them to the limit? Here’s why each team can win.

 

Golden State Warriors:

Klay and Steph

 

Legendary Shooting

The fact that Klay Thompson and Steph Curry play on the same team is historically unfair, as these two will surely stack up as two of the five greatest shooters of all time. So it can’t be ignored that at any point, no matter what you do, either one of these guys might decide to casually open the Ark of the Covenant, like in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals, when Klay dropped ELEVEN THREES. If the Thunder couldn’t handle it, the Cavs certainly don’t have the defensive tools.

 

Adaptability

Steve Kerr and the players acquitted themselves equally well in the Conference finals, as the team demonstrated that they can handle changing on the fly to adapt to the matchups. When it became clear that Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala needed to swap places for the sake of Iguodala’s defense of Durant, the team was able to do that. Cool heads prevailed, egos were checked, and they showed that they can take a champion’s knockout blow and come back swinging.

 

Draymond vs. Any Cavalier Not Named LeBron

Save for LeBron, I don’t think there’s a single player on the Cavs that has either the mental or testicular fortitude, both literally speaking, to withstand the veritable onslaught that is Draymond Green. How many times did we see Draymond intensely staring down someone nine feet taller than him in the last series, fearless and victorious? Steven Adams is as tough as they come, and held up admirably. Kevin Love? Super-talented marshmallow. Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, Tristan Thompson? Perhaps only the latter has the physique to match up with Draymond’s octo-hands, but doesn’t have the offensive skill. He’ll be in their heads, grills, and business.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers: 

Lebronkyrielove

 

Fresh Bodies

Although a marshmallow, Kevin Love gets buckets, passes the ball sharply, and rebounds. Pair that with Kyrie Irving’s health, and that’s a major duo of talent to buoy LeBron. He’s the star, but now he can take up different spots on the floor, especially in the post with Kevin Love providing space in the corner. With that capability, the floor’s balance changes, and Matthew Dellavedova’s hideous game stays on the bench for longer.

 

Fresh Voices

It has to matter that the Cavaliers no longer hate their coach. For all of David Blatt’s competence, it’s well-established that he was disliked by the players, and that he was openly ignored in time-outs. We all saw it live. I think LeBron “changing the plays” is an idiotic narrative since this is something entrusted to almost every team’s best player, no less the best player on earth. But still, players seemed to cross the line from dislike to disrespect, and that’s not a formula for success. It’s unclear to me whether it was LeBron’s willpower that helped to right the ship against the Raptors in the Eastern Finals, or whether Tyronn Lue simply reminded the players that they were much better than the opponent. Either way, they got there with relatively little pain involved. They got through the entirety of these playoffs by playing coherent, then crisp, and then deadly offense. Something is clearly working.

 

Fresh Stories

If LeBron is one thing, he’s aware. No, wait — it’s great at basketball. Regardless, he’s extremely aware of the narrative in this playoffs and how this might affect the story of his career. LeBron is a multifaceted ingenious billionaire who is arguably the greatest athlete of all time —  he knows what people are saying about Steph, about the Warriors and greatness. He knows what it would mean for him to tear down that hegemony like the totem poles being pulled down by unruly campers at Kamp Krusty. Mix that awareness with the indefatigable brilliance of his game, that he’s at once the living-breathing best passer in the world and the most unstoppable penetrator in the game, and the results could be deadly for the Dubs.

 

 

Who will triumph, and who will fall apart?  Will LeBron’s greatness overcome two-time MVP Steph Curry and the all-time force that is a 73-win juggernaut? The NBA Finals begin June 2nd, so stay with ScoreBoredSports for all takes, both hot and too hot to handle.

 

 


3 Reasons the Thunder will beat the Warriors, and vice versa

Written by :
Published on : May 16, 2016

 

 

The Western Conference Finals begin Monday night, but it’s not the matchup everyone was expecting after the Oklahoma City Thunder upset the San Antonio Spurs in the conference semi-finals. The top-seeded Golden State Warriors have been taking care of business with or without two-time MVP Stephen Curry, ousting the Blazers in just five games. While the Warriors are the overwhelming favorites, no one gave the Thunder a shot against the Spurs, so I wouldn’t rule them out against Golden State either. This a series featuring two extremely talented teams with completely different playing styles. There’s a lot of different ways this one could play, so I’ll make a case for both sides. Let’s start with the underdogs…

 

3 reasons the Thunder will upset the Warriors as they did San Antonio:

 

 

1. Durant and Westbrook are locked in

KD Russ

 

After getting blown out by the Spurs in game one, much due to uncharacteristically bad performances by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder’s lethal duo bounced back with authority. In games two-through-six, Durant averaged 31 points, while Westbrook put up his usual ridiculous numbers, averaging 27.4 points, 10.8 assists, and 7.4 rebounds. Of course, we all know these two rack up incredible stats, but it was the way they took over the series and continued finding ways to generate offense against the best defensive team in the NBA that made this so impressive.

 

Durant and Westbrook are playing with better rhythm and harmony than ever before. Rarely have these two stayed healthy deep into playoff runs, and when they have, they’ve made it to the conference Finals or beyond. Right now, they are healthy and clicking better than ever. Westbrook is dialing back on the circus shots and over-dribbling, and Durant is proving he can handle the pressure on the biggest stage. While Golden State has quite possibly the best player in the NBA, Oklahoma City is the only team in the league that can truly claim to have two of the best five.

 

2. Size matters

Adams Ibaka

 

After Durant and Westbrook, the Thunder’s next three leading scorers in the playoffs are all traditional big men (power forwards and centers): Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, and Enes Kanter. Very rare for the current NBA era, where teams are going with smaller, more athletic lineups stacked with three point shooters that can run, spread the floor and hit open shots. While there is certainly a reason to be concerned about OKC’s ability to handle Golden State’s speed and shooting, they should be able to cause equally difficult matchup problems with the post-scoring, shot-blocking and rebounding abilities of their three big men.

 

No matter how tempting it may be for OKC to go small to try to run with the Warriors, they can not beat Golden State at their own game. The Thunder have to play into their own strengths, and that means giving plenty of minutes to Ibaka, Adams and Kanter, often playing two at the same time. They will have to deal with giving up some fast break points in exchange for getting some offensive rebounds and easy post-up baskets, but Oklahoma City has to stay dedicated to beating Golden State with size and physicality.

 

3. Curry’s injuries could still be a problem

Curry hurt

 

While two weeks of rest is plenty for a grade 1 MCL sprain, the fact that the Warriors took such a cautious approach with their superstar, combined with the fact that he missed two games in the first round due to a sprained ankle in the same right leg, suggest that Steph Curry might not be entirely in the clear. Typically when the team favored to win it all sits their best player for two weeks in the playoffs, it’s a somewhat serious injury. Obviously he’s still capable of playing as well as anyone in the league, as proven in games four and five against Portland, but there’s still fear that at any moment he might tweak, twist, or turn something in that pesky right leg again and need to hit the bench for extended time or even miss more games. This wasn’t a major issue against mediocre competition like the Blazers and Rockets, but if Curry isn’t on top of his game against Oklahoma City, the Thunder will be moving on the Finals.

 

C’mon man! We’re talking about the defending NBA Champions, who are fresh off the best regular season in league history. The Warriors are a damn-near unstoppable force, led by back-to-back MVP Steph Curry. You’re just gonna throw out three half-assed reasons on why the Thunder will beat them and say that’s a wrap?!

 

Calm down angry Warriors fan who doesn’t understand the concept of my fair and balanced article. First of all, I’m using my whole ass. And now, without further ado…

 

3 reasons the Warriors will beat the Thunder and get back to the NBA Finals:

 

 

1. Recent history

Golden State

 

The Warriors had the best record in the NBA last season and went on to win the championship. They had the best record in NBA history this year and they coasted through the first two rounds the playoffs, despite missing their best player for much of the run. That player is also just won his second straight MVP award. These things tend to mean something. In this case, it means they deserve to be considered the best team in the NBA, and they should be favored in any series.

 

Sure, Oklahoma City just knocked off a tougher opponent than Golden State has faced in the playoffs this year, which makes the Thunder a little hotter in the “what have you done for me lately” department. But there’s a reason OKC had to face the Spurs in the second round; they were the three seed and the Warriors were the one seed. Golden State won 18 more games than the the Thunder this season. That’s a lot more wins. Even if Oklahoma City somehow bought all of the Lakers wins in the 2015-2016 season, they would still have one less than the Warriors. The Warriors have the much more impressive track record over the last two years, and one impressive series win does not make the Thunder the favorites.

 

2. They have creators

Warriors high five

 

The Thunder’s biggest strength are listed in points 1 & 2 in the section above: They have Durant and Westbrook, and they have three really good big men. But their weakness is just as glaring: lack of players who can handle the ball, create space and get open shots and generate offense for others. It’s nice to have bigs that can get you double-doubles, but those guys generally need help from guards and wings to get them the ball in position to score. In the playoffs, Golden State has six players in the small positions (point guard, shooting guard and small forward) that average over 6 point per game, and that’s not including Draymond Green who plays power forward, but can stretch the floor and do just about everything on a basketball court.

 

Oklahoma City only has three players at the small positions averaging over 6 points per game: Durant (27.4), Westbrook (25.5), and Dion Waiters (9.4). Looking at the assist numbers is even more alarming for Thunder fans, as they only have two players averaging over 2 assists per game in the postseason: Westbrook (10.8) and Durant (3.6). Dion Waiters is their third assist leader with a measly 2 dimes per game. Golden State, meanwhile, has five players averaging over 2 assists per game. The Warriors as a team are dishing out a league-leading 27.1 assist per game to the Thunder’s 20.2 (9th among the 16 teams in the playoffs). The Warriors also have the edge in three point shooting (12.2 per game vs. OKC’s 8.5).

 

What this means (for those of you who haven’t figured it out) is Golden State can move the ball and shoot regardless who’s on the court, giving them the freedom to give Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson some much needed rest. Oklahoma City on the other hand, will struggle to score and be very turnover prone any time Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook are on the bench. If either of these guys have an off night, or get into early foul trouble, it will be nearly impossible for the Thunder to find a way to win.

 

3. He’s back baby!

curry steph

 

You may have read my article a few weeks ago explaining why Steph Curry’s injury was more serious than the team lead on. While that could still be true, he showed no reason for concern in games four and five against Portland. Curry logged 37 minutes in each contest, the most he’s played since April 5. In game four, he came off the bench, looking rusty for much of the game, until he got hot in the fourth quarter, then got hotter in overtime with an NBA-record 17 points, finishing with 40 in the game. He looked like his usual self again in game five as well, scoring 29 with 11 assists and helping put the Blazers out of their misery. Yes, he just sat out for two weeks with sprained right MCL. Yes, he missed two games before that with a sprained ankle in the same leg. And yes, it’s possible that he’s in a fragile state right now and has some nagging injuries, but he certainly gave us the confidence that he is back to MVP form. He also gave himself another four days of rest by finishing off Portland in just five games.

 

Three of the best players in the world will be on display. Both teams will cause matchup problems for the other: Oklahoma City with their size, and Golden State with their ball movement and ability to spread the floor and shoot. In the end, I think the Golden State will have the edge. They just have more guys at the wing and guard positions that can create offense. The Thunder will demand a little too much out of Durant and Westbrook, and the Warriors will be more consistent and efficient on the offensive end. This could all change depending on the status of Steph Curry’s right leg, but until then, I’m picking the Warriors in seven games in what should be the best series in of 2016 playoffs so far.

 

Enjoy.

 

 


Will the Golden State Warriors beat the ’96 Bulls record for wins?

Written by :
Published on : February 21, 2016

 

 

The 1996 Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan, finished the season at an NBA all time best with 72 wins and only 10 loses. That record seemed unbreakable. Until this year. The defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors currently sit at 49-5. With 28 games to play, they need to go at least 23-5 to tie the ’96 Bulls. Sounds tough but I think the Warriors might be able to pull it off. Their active winning percentage is .907 and they only need .821 the rest of the way out. So even a little slip in production won’t ruin their run. Let’s breakdown the info and see if Golden State really has a chance to make history.

 

Why they will

epa04803797 Golden State Warriors players Stephen Curry (C-R) and Klay Thompson (C-L) along with other members of the team pose with the NBA Finals trophy after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Six of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 16 June 2015. The Golden State Warriors are the 2015 NBA Finals Champions.  EPA/LARRY W. SMITH CORBIS OUT

 

Because the Warriors feel like there is still something to prove. The team isn’t yet viewed like one of the all time greats and this squad seems committed to playing hard until everyone respects them. One ring isn’t enough for this crew. They want to be the next dynasty. Emphasis on Nasty. They have Klay Thompson, the current 3-point contest winner, Draymond Green, the NBA leader in triple-doubles, Andre Iguodala, last year’s NBA Finals MVP. Oh yeah, and Riley Curry’s Dad, Steph. The reigning MVP of the league is looking to repeat as both Most Valuable Player and champion.

 

Why they won’t

92-bulls

 

Because winning that many games is really hard. The Chicago team that hit that mark was one of the best ever assembled. The Warriors could easily fall a few short of the 72 wins just based on fatigue, injury, or bad luck. The important thing to look at here is the remaining schedule. They play the San Antonio Spurs three more times. Those will all be tough outings. Also, the next six games feature some strong opposition: Hawks twice, Heat, and Thunder twice. And if the Warriors want the record then they can only lose another four games. There could be five or six defeats against those legit contenders.

 

My guess

 

The Warriors break the record with 74 wins and Riley dances forever. No joke, I’m rooting for Golden State. Not just because I hate the Bulls and want to see their records smashed, but because the Warriors have been a fun story and better team. They play excellent ball and are good for the NBA. They have a complete roster and can beat you in a number of ways. Honestly, if they can escape the next six games with only a loss or two then they should coast into the playoffs as the real-deal number one and holding the new record for most wins in an NBA season.

 

I can’t wait to see what happens. Either way, it’s going to be great to watch. I wonder if Jordan and the other 1996 Bulls are nervous. They should be.

 

Warriors, come out and play!

 

 


Everybody Loves Draymond Green for MVP

Written by :
Published on : January 11, 2016

 

Luke Harangody and Jared Dudley. The aforementioned players were compared to Golden State PF Draymond Green before the 2012 NBA Draft. In interest of full disclosure, I too was very short sighted in my projection of Green. I was called a “hater” because I proclaimed that my fellow Saginawian would be a 2nd round pick but I did not rejoice when he was taken 35th overall.

 

Clearly the only person that knew Green’s true potential is Green himself. Going from seldom used bench player during the Mark Jackson regime to potential All Star starter this season under Steve Kerr’s staff, Green has become a force in the NBA. Before the season there were questions as to how important Green was to the team’s success and many pundits claimed Green was a product of the system that Kerr built around last year’s MVP Stephen Curry.

 

 “Luke Harangody!?! Are you kidding me!?!”

 

To date Green has EIGHT triple doubles on the season. The most LeBron James has recorded in a season is seven. Furthermore, at his current rate, Green could eclipse Michael Jordan’s single season mark of 15. That’s remarkable considering that he guards every position defensively, and still has the energy to initiate the offense. In the NBA, it seems to be an unspoken criteria that the MVP must be on a top 5 team and must be an elite scorer. While that may be the norm that is not exactly the precedent. Here are some things to consider before handing Curry another MVP trophy or gifting James a 5th.

 

Assist Master

 

Curry, Tony Parker, Jeff Teague, Mike Conley, James and Derrick Rose. Green averages more assist per game than all the aforementioned players. Three of those players are former MVPs. Four of those players are pure point guards. Green’s 7.5 assist per game average is 6th in the NBA. Within the top 10 assist per game leaders he is the ONLY player that’s not listed as a SG or PG. Moreover, his assist to turnover ratio is better than John Wall, James Harden, and Damian Lillard, to name a few.

 

The New Mound of Rebound

 

No one should ever mistake Green for Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. Their games are totally different and last I checked the two really don’t care a great deal about each other. However, Green’s rebounding prowess is far better than we could have ever anticipated. Once again in comparison, Green has a better rebound per game average than Greg Monroe, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Blake Griffin. Keeping those names in perspective, Green is listed at 6’7″ which some may consider generous. The players ahead of him in rebounding are at least 6’10”. The positive consequence of Green’s defensive rebounding (7.9 per game) is that it initiates the offense as he is able to generate transition baskets for Curry and Klay Thompson.

 

Elite Scorer

green 2

 

Green’s scoring is predicated on his rebounding and improved jump shooting. The area that he has improved the most is his three point shooting. Once a sub 25% shooter from the three point line, he is now shooting 41%. That’s a remarkable clip considering that he is a Power Forward. He has improved his scoring average every year and is at 15 points per game this season. In the team’s losses this season he actually averaged more points per game than in his wins. It’s not an indictment on his ability to score as it a validation of the importance of him to facilitate. There has only been one MVP in the past 30 years to win the honor and average less than 20 points per game, Steve Nash, when he won consecutive trophies. Green could very well buck that trend or even continue to increase his point per game average during the course of the season.

 

Availability

 

Green is so reliable that in the past two seasons he has missed THREE games. Harrison Barnes, Curry, Thompson, and Andrew Bogut have combined to miss 49 games since the beginning of last season. His physical conditioning and pain threshold should be considered in the MVP discussion. Current front runner James has missed three already this season and in all likelihood will miss more as the Cleveland Cavaliers continue their dominance of the Eastern Conference.

 

Advanced Metrics and Defense

green 5

 

Over the past three seasons, the one area that critics could not dispute is Green’s defense. Last year, there was controversy over San Antonio Spurs SF Kawhi Leonard winning the Defensive Player of the Year award. Green tallied more first place votes than Leonard but was second place overall in a flawed voting system. Nonetheless, Green could very well win the award this season, unanimously. Currently, Green is in the top 5 in Defensive Box Plus/Minus, Defensive Rating, and Defensive Win Shares. Green also is top 10 in the league in Value over Replacement player. The last area of recognition is key, as he is the only player in Value over Replacement Player that is not considered a ‘franchise’ player.

 

I truly wish I was on the bandwagon from his high school days until now. I wish I could be among the many now that are saying “I told you so.” I was not, but I am now a believer. Draymond Green should at the least garner some MVP votes this season. He is a franchise player on a team that currently has an MVP on the roster. He is doing unimaginable feats on the court despite not truly having a position. The pundits have stated that Green is a product of Curry. With all due respect to the naysayers, Green is a product of Saginaw, Michigan. Curry, the Warriors, or the NBA can’t put a claim on that.

 

 


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