Boozeball: An Alcoholic Reimagining of the NBA

Written by :
Published on : July 10, 2017

 

Welcome back to the world of Boozeball. Last time, we took a long drink of the NFL and enjoyed what all 32 teams had to offer. This time around, we are mixing up a new twist on the world of basketball. So please enjoy this alcoholic rebrand I call Boozeball: NBA Edition.

 

The Milwaukee’s Bests

One of the cheapest beers around. Maybe not a bad as Natural Light (AKA Natty Light) but close. Milwaukee hasn’t been good in forever. Just like all these dollar store beers the city keeps pumping out.

 

The Indiana Chasers

Slow down there Indy. You can’t just take shots all night, you’ll die. How about some chasers to soften the blow of all that liquor. Most go for something sugary to help wash the taste out. I prefer a very cold beer as my chaser.

 

The Detroit Stone IPA’s

stone_ipa

 

The IPA, not always loved but respected amongst those who know. This is not everyone’s flavor but it’s it has the history and isn’t going anywhere.

 

The Cleveland Case-of-Beers

LeBron finally broke the Cleveland curse and brought home a championship. You can be sure, that the beer sales during that NBA Finals run in the city of Cleveland broke some records. They were pouring it out, big time. Better buy another case.

 

The Chicago Bull Shots

Never had a Bull Shot? It’s like a Bloody Mary but made with a beef bouillon cube. It adds a hearty element that is usually missing from most cocktails. This drink has some real kick.

 

The Miami Hot Damns

hot damn

 

Hot Damn is the original shitty cinnamon flavored booze. Way before Fireball was cool, kids were drinking their parent’s Hot Damn. or After Shock depending on where you grew up.

 

The Orlando Maker’s Marks

Nothing is more more magical than American bourbon. And nothing is more pure Kentucky than Orlando. Also there’s something about the heat and burn of whiskey that feels at home in Florida.

 

The Alizé Hawks

For those squares who don’t know, Alizé is a French cognac that is blended with fruit juice and other flavors. It’s also half of Tupac’s ‘Thug’s Passion’ cocktail which is mixed with Cristal (champagne).

 

The Washington Wallbangers

Harvey-Wallbanger

 

Move over Harvey, there is a new sheriff in D.C. and he’s ready to party. Don’t think this one fits? Who is Washington’s best player? John Wall. Wallbangers. Boom.

 

The Charlotte Hornitos

Medium leveled spirit. Medium level organization. Salute. And please get some limes. You are going to need it.

 

The Boston Coolers

This drink has origins in Detroit because it features the soda Vernors, a ginger ale-type drink with intense bubbles. Add vanilla ice cream and your favorite spirit. Pick vodka for a clean taste. Or go bourbon for a nice twist.

 

The New York Kamikazes

kamikaze

 

Simple, strong and deadly. This drink can be a shot or served in a cocktail glass. Combine vodka, triple sec and lime juice. Shake over ice, strain and pour. This concoction seems perfect for the dumpster fire that is the Knicks organization.

 

The Brooklyn Neats

The coolest bartenders in the world serve it to you straight up. You want ice? Be a Knicks fan.

 

The Philadelphia 99 Bananas

The 76ers have gone bananas. This spirit is 99 proof but tastes like candy. You’ll go ape for that tropical flavor. This is very high school parking lot drink to me.

 

The Toronto Razzle Dazzles

razzle dazzle

 

Start with your favorite raspberry vodka, add Chambord then top with equal parts club soda and Sprite. Add fresh berries, lime and mint to really class up the presentation.

 

The Oklahoma Thunderbird Wines

Bum wine for a bum town. I mean, I’ve never been to Oklahoma city but I was stuck in Tulsa once and I couldn’t find a place that sold coffee that wasn’t the gas station and I got pulled over.

 

The Denver Goldschlagers

There’s gold in these mountains! This dorm fav pairs perfect with the Denver franchise. This drink has actual gold flakes floating in its nectar. And the city of Denver is full of flakes.

 

The Minnesota Tequila Sunrises

Tequila-Sunrise

 

Have you ever seen the sun rise over one of Minnesota’s ten thousand lakes? It’s breathtaking. Just like the new mascot. Simply mix tequila, orange juice and grenadine for a refreshing but potent elixir.

 

The Bottle of Port Trailblazers

That’s right, we’re talking fortified wine. Port normally tastes a little sweeter but it packs a punch. The good stuff can be around 20% alcohol so be careful on blazing down a bottle.

 

The Utah Fizz

Gin – check, sugar – check, lime juice – check, egg white, yes, eggs – check. Mix all that goodness together and you have a crisp and frothy cocktail that is sure to make the playoffs.

 

The Houston Ciroc-kets

ciroc

 

Time for lift off. Order another bottle and let’s dance till they kick us out. Normally, high end vodka people think Belvedere or Grey Goose but when in Houston there is only one choice.

 

The Memphis Gin and Juices

Rollin down the street, smokin indo, sippin on gin and juice, laid back. Sounds like Memphis to me.

 

The Dallas Malbecs

Aged like a fine wine. Like a glass of Dirk Nowitzki, and it pairs just perfectly with your prime rib. Owner, Mark Cuban, loves a good vintage and so should you. Keep it classy, Texas.

 

The New Orleans Hurricanes

hurricane drink

 

Throw some rum, some fruit juice, a little grenadine and some Mardi Gras beads all together and you have a one of the classic Bourbon Street beverages. Careful though, a few of these and you may take your top off.

 

The San Antonio Sazeracs

A serious drink for serious drinkers. Just like the spirit of the basketball team. These are the experts who find themselves deep in the playoffs every year. They may not be for everyone but you have to tip your cap to them.

 

The Golden State Rum Barrels

Straight from the recipe book of Don the Beachcomber himself. This potent potion is sure to make a splash. Careful tho, this joint is strong. Just a few of these cocktails and you’ll be ready for some championship level trouble.

 

The Phoenix Sex on the Beaches

sex-on-the-beach

 

Sex on the beach is one of those drinks everyone knows but no one orders. It’s a terrible gimmick. Just like Phoenix. Both are hot and sandy. It also fits perfect in the world of NBA since Utah has no Jazz and Phoenix has no beaches.

 

The LA Pan American Clippers

The Pan American Clipper is a good old drink that dates back to as early as 1939. Start with a quality Calvados or other apple brandy. Add fresh lime juice, pomegranate grenadine, and several dashes absinthe. Shake ingredients over ice, strain and serve in a stemmed glass, garnish with lime. Lob City will love it.

 

The Sacramento Kingfishers

Kingfisher is a great beer from India. It’s a super clean lager that goes great with food. Sacramento could use a strong pairing to help them on the court. This is some outsourcing we can all get behind.

 

The Los Angeles Shakers

cocktail shaker

 

Shake-and-bake baby. The Lakers are so essential they are like the cocktail shaker of the league. Not every ingredient going in is quality but Los Angeles tries it’s hardest to make it all go down smooth. It’s showtime.

 

Boozeball is done. Some of these jokes are better than others. I’ll drink to the bad ones and toast the good ones. It’s tough out here. Stay safe everyone.

 

Dunks and drunks.

 

 


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”.

 

 


Sweeps and Creeps: Part 3

Written by :
Published on : May 27, 2017

 

 

Welcome back to Sweeps and Creeps, a quick update on all things NBA playoffs. Catch up on the previous entries HERE and HERE. Now, to the court!

 

The Warriors stay golden and undefeated after doing their sweep thing all over the San Antonio Spurs. They are now 12-0 in the playoffs this year. That’s a new record. Also, Golden State is entering the NBA Finals with the highest winning margin in playoff history. To say they have breezed their way back to their third straight Finals appearance diminishes the great team effort we’ve seen but yeah, the Warriors are cruising. They did benefit from playing some teams missing key members due to injury but they can’t control that. All they can do is beat the pants off whatever starting five they’ve seen. This squad is straight Monstars. They are moving the ball well and both Durant and Steph are healthy. Oh god, could we see another sweep?

 

Enough sweeps, here come the creeps. The Cleveland Cavaliers somehow lost to Boston in game 3. None gave the Celtics much of chance in the contest considering the they lost by 44 in game 2. Game 3 was in Cleveland plus Boston’s best player, Isaiah Thomas, was out with an injury. Seemed like a forgone conclusion. But some crazy stuff happened. LeBron James only had 11 points on 4-13 shooting in 45 minutes of action. Then Avery Bradley hit the game winner. A shot that just barley fell in.

 


Game 4 in Cleveland. James and the gang got it back in gear with some big big help from Kyrie Irving. The Cavs guard dropped 42 points on 15-22 shooting including 4-7 from three point land. Kyrie was the real x-factor when LeBron headed to the bench with 4 fouls. Without this performance, this series is mostly likely tied. For reference, Irving had 21 points in the 3rd quarter while no one on the Celtics scored more than 19 points in the game. That makes the 42 points (career playoff high) look gigantic. LeBron had a very respectable 34 points. Cleveland now back in the driver’s seat heading into the potential closeout game 5 in Boston.

 

Game 5 was never close. Cleveland was on top from the tip and never looked back. Final score 135-102. Cavaliers scored 43 in the first quarter and had 75 at the half. James would not be denied. He also passed some guy named Michael Jordan for the most points scored in playoff history and is headed to his 7th straight Finals appearance. No words can follow that.

 

LeBron post up boston

 

Well, we all got what we wanted. Cavs vs Warriors part 3. The ultimate rematch. I can’t wait. The NBA Finals start June 1st on ABC. Until then.

 

Creepshow.

 

 


Sweeps and Creeps: Part 2

Written by :
Published on : May 18, 2017

 

There are only 4 teams left in the NBA playoffs. But from the looks of it, two clear favorites. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. When we last visited the Sweeps and Creeps, both teams were 8-0 in the postseason after each completing sweeps through the first two rounds. If that sounds wild it’s because that had never happened before. Now, we are in the Conference Finals so let’s check in on these creeps who just keep on winning.

 

San Antonio Spurs vs Golden State Warriors

The Warriors are currently up 2-0 in the best of 7 series. Making Golden State 10-0 so far this playoffs. Game 1 had the Spurs up early only to see the lead melt away as the Warriors stormed back. And to make matters worse, Kawhi Leonard was injured. Game 2. Spurs without Leonard got straight worked. Final score 136-100. Steph Curry and company were fire in their home building and they look very tough to beat. The series now shifts to San Antonio where a huge game 3 looms. If the Spurs lose this one, it’s likely sweep city. No word yet if Kawhi will be available for the contest. Look for the Spurs (with or without Kawhi) to show up in game 3 and make it close. Unfortunately, I still see the Warriors winning.

 

On a related note, Alex made a terrible bet with me saying this series would go to game 7. That will not happen. What should I spend Alex’s money on? Sexy underwear, some Italian subs or maybe a nice bottle of Malbec?

 

Curry Green Hi five

 

Boston Celtics vs Cleveland Cavaliers

First a tip of the cap to Boston backup center Kelly Olynyk who had 26 points on 10 of 14 shooting coming off the bench in the game 7 win over the Wizards. This effort helped push Boston to the next round. If you’ve forgotten, the Celtics are the 1 seed and will host the first two games. As expected, Cavs win game 1 on the road after another heroic performance by LeBron James. We get it, you’re real good. Maybe let someone else get to the Finals for once. The Cavaliers are now 9-0 in the postseason. Being undefeated in the playoffs is just ridiculous. Game 2 is Friday and Boston better bring it before this thing moves to Believeland or you know what will happen. Sweep, sweep, sweep.

 

I’d like to take this space to offer Alex or anyone else a bet. I’ll take the Cavs in almost any action you want to dream up. Get at me. Just think, if you won, you could spend that money on a cheap blender, some vintage pogs or maybe a few deep dish pizzas.

 

cropped_2017-05-18T020734Z_1264544899_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NBA-PLAYOFFS-CLEVELAND-CAVALIERS-AT-BOSTON-CELTICS

 

Sweepstakes

The Boston Celtics now have the #1 pick in upcoming NBA Draft. Which is odd because they are one of the few teams still playing. That let’s you know this probably isn’t a normal occurrence. The Draft should be the focus of the franchises who missed out on the dance not the ones still grooving. The pick was acquired from the Brooklyn Nets when they traded for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. What a nice parting gift Pierce bestows on the Celtics the year he retires.

 


New Finals prediction: Cavs and Warriors stay undefeated until they meet in the Finals. They trade wins until game 7. Warriors win.

 

I’m a creep.

 

 


Sweeps and Creeps: the NBA playoffs

Written by :
Published on : May 10, 2017

 

 

We are knee-deep into the NBA playoffs and some strange trends have emerged. Most notably, all the sweeps. Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors are 8-0 in the postseason so far. That’s never happened before. Meaning, both teams have swept through the first two rounds. It almost seems inevitable that they will meet in the NBA Finals for a third straight time. But before we get there, let’s meet the rest of the creeps still fighting it out for a chance to make history with a championship run.

 

San Antonio Spurs vs Houston Rockets

Everyone may be focused on the star power of LeBron or the Warriors roster but this Western conference matchup features some MVP candidates in James Harden of the Rockets and Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs who have been giving their all in this back-and-forth battle. Currently, San Antonio has a 3-2 edge and look to close out the series with a win on Thursday. The only problem, Leonard suffered an injury that held him out of the end of game 5. The level of severity of the injury isn’t clear yet but this is horrible timing. The winner of this showdown gets a date with the Golden State Warriors. Good luck.

 

Harden Leonard

 

Boston Celtics vs Washington Wizards

Out east, the series is tied 2-2 after some serious heroics by Wizards’ star, John Wall. This will probably come down to game 7 which will be in Boston. If that’s the case, then look for Isaiah Thomas to go off and lead the Celtics to a dramatic win. But don’t get too excited Boston because a rested Cavs team is your next hurdle. And we all know that LeBron James goes to the Finals, every year. No joke, Cleveland will streamroll whatever squad makes it to the Eastern Conference Championship. More sweeps!

 

NBA Finals

Cavs vs. Warriors part 3. Like some insane boxing pay-per-view. This one should settle the argument of who is better but these teams will likely meet in at least another NBA Finals. It’s so clear that these two franchises are heads and shoulders above the rest of the field. Together, they have some of the best players on the planet and both really know how to win. All this time off is nice for aching muscles but it can ruin momentum. The team that best manages this extra waiting period may have a real leg up on the competition.

 

It’s hard to pick against LeBron James and his sheer will to win. But this Warriors team is maybe too deep to lose. Golden State nearly beat Cleveland for a second straight year only to see James change the course of history. The Warriors then added Kevin Durant in free agency to join the already mega-talented Splash Brothers. All this is setting the stage for a big event. I’ll even go so far to say that the rating for the Finals will the the highest of all time.

 

lebron curry handshake

 

Some have complained about all the one-sided contests, calling them boring. Others say they are excited to see the game being played at such a high level. I think we can all agree that we want a NBA Finals that will go to game 7. And Cavs vs Warriors will be the best possible scenario. Leave your comments below, you creeps.

 

Sweeps week.

 

 


MVP or not, no one is more valuable than LeBron

Written by :
Published on : April 15, 2017

 

 

I normally don’t get too worked up about MVP awards in any sport. They are fun to argue about, and I’m sure they look nice in a man cave, but true great athletes strive for championships, not personal awards. And in the NBA, we’re reminded who the best player is in the playoffs and the Finals, and it’s pretty much always LeBron James. This year the NBA MVP conversation has been particularly interesting. No player has averaged a triple-double at the end of a season since Oscar Robertson in 1962. Russell Westbrook just did it while leading the league in scoring. James Harden’s stats were equally impressive (29.1 points, 11.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds). So they’re the top two scorers in the league, one averaged a triple-double, the other led the league in assists. One of these guys is going to win MVP. But should they?

 

First, let’s define the “V” in MVP. I often hear people claim that the award should go to the player who is most valuable to their specific team. In this case, it would be Westbrook, since he doesn’t have the talent around him that the other candidates do and his team would be out of the playoffs without him. I interpret the word “valuable” as the player who has the most value in the league in general, and that player is LeBron James. I think we all agree that the Thunder and Rockets would both be better teams if they swapped Westbrook or Harden for LeBron, and either team would make that trade in a heartbeat, because LeBron is simply more valuable than any other player in the NBA.

 

russell-westbrook-james-harden-960-e1482467995353

 

I know what you’re thinking, even though LeBron is the best player in the league, Westbrook and Harden had more impressive regular seasons. Just look at the stats! Not so fast.

 

In an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dennis called out Mac for only working out his glamour muscles. Much like Mac, Westbrook and Harden have been padding their glamour stats all year. Let’s just compare LeBron and Westbrook. It’s hard to get past the fact that Westbrook is ahead of LeBron in all of the three major categories (Westbrook: 31.6 points, 10.4 assists, 10.7 rebounds vs. LeBron: 26.4 points, 8.7 assists, 8.6 rebounds). But let’s take a closer look and find out who’s been working out their core. Westbrook is shooting 42.5% from the field vs. LeBron’s 54.8%. A pretty massive difference. Harden comes in at 44%, just under the league average of 45.7%. And while so much attention has been paid to Westbrook’s record-breaking year, LeBron quietly became the first player in NBA history to average over 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists, while shooting over 54% from the field. I know, that’s an obscure list of numbers to combine in order to create a milestone, but a triple-double is no more relevant to success in the NBA.

 

With all the positive milestones Westbrook and Harden have reached this year, there’s one record they would rather not hear about. James Harden’s 464 turnovers were the most in a single season in league history. In case you were wondering who was number two on that list, it was Russell Westbrook, also this year, with 438. That came out to 5.7 per game for Harden, and 5.4 for Westbrook, compared to 4.1 for LeBron. Typically the guys who lead league in turnovers are the guys who are asked to do the most on offense, so it makes sense that two players with such historic offensive numbers would break this record. On the other hand, if other players were asked to keep shooting and creating offense on every play, even if it meant shooting below the league average and giving the ball to the other team more frequently than anyone ever has, maybe we would see more players average triple-doubles.

 

tumblr_mmcpcc9vxY1qa5y2jo1_500

 

No, I’m not trying to discredit the incredible seasons Russell Westbrook and James Harden have had. Nor am I trying to claim LeBron James should win the MVP. If I had a vote, it probably would go to Russell Westbrook because he tried so damn hard to win it. My point is, if LeBron James really dedicated a season to averaging a triple-double regardless how many shots he missed, or how many turnovers he committed along the way, he would’ve done it three times by now. Russell Westbrook will likely win the MVP, but LeBron James is the most valuable player, and has been for over a decade.

 

Oh, and I almost forgot about the all-important “rest” debate. LeBron only played in 74 games out of 82 this year, while Harden and Westbrook both played 81. If he was more devoted to the game, and not so soft, he wouldn’t take so many games off, right? Let’s not forget, LeBron James has played 199 career playoff games, compared to 82 for Westbrook, and 77 for Harden. If resting in an occasional regular season game against the Hornets is what it takes to stay fresh for six-straight NBA Finals runs, I think we can all live with that. As for Westbrook and Harden, they’ll get plenty of rest after the second round, when they can kick back with a cold one and watch LeBron make yet another run at an NBA title. Sure, in the regular season it was all about Westbrook and Harden, but in the playoffs, it’s always all about LeBron.

 

 


Reflecting on History Made

Written by :
Published on : July 4, 2016

 

 

It’s been over a week and a half since the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship (our first in franchise history) and I’m STILL taking it all in. I actually had to re-watch the game and rally on the one week anniversary. I couldn’t help it!  It was awesome and also didn’t include the stomach craps… or the OCD / superstitious rituals of walking away when things started to look Andrew Dice Clay. But watching it the second time around also didn’t take away from the emotion, excitement, or pride I felt as I relived every moment including the Block (by James) and the Shot (courtesy of Irving). And then to hear the team speak at the rally, some shirtless, some not, reflecting on what it meant to them made everything come together. 

 

“Man, I’ve been watching The Block more than anything because there’s no shot without The Block,” explains Irving during the rally. “You see a guy chasing down a shot like that and then I get a chance on the biggest stage, Game 7, man, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” We wouldn’t either, Kyrie.

 

But back to that glorious June night…It’s hard to describe the feeling that overcame Cleveland, the fans, the team, me, as time ran out in the fourth quarter, LeBron pointed to the hoop after Golden State’s final attempt gone bad, and just like that the fifty-two year losing streak was over. I think my heart skipped a beat.  I just put my hands over my mouth and said, “Oh my God. We won.” My father, many of his wonderful ESPN Radio colleagues, and I watched the game from the station. When it was over, I looked over at my dad who was just staring at the television. He was suppose to be getting ready to do his post-game show with Michael Reghi, former Cavs play by play announcer, and another diehard who lives and breathes Cleveland sports. But he just stood there, speechless, in awe, paralyzed by the freedom of having that gigantic weight lifted from his jaded spirit. So we floated there for a moment – just to make sure it was real.

It’s not that I couldn’t believe it. It was just that we had all witnessed this scenario play out over the years time and time again, always coming close and always letting our achilles’ heel or just bad luck get the best of us. Look, I’m relatively young. At thirty, I’ve only been alive to experience and really understand the heartbreak since 1995, when the Cleveland Indians went to the World Series and lost. I had spoken to Mike Hargrove, Sandy Alomar, and Bobby D. of the Indians earlier that year. They all told me what it was like to hold that bottle of cold champagne, ready to pop it open, only to watch it get rolled away to the other locker room with tears in their years. But not this time. This time was actually our time – just as I had wished, hoped, prayed, and yes BELIEVED. And it came true. The champagne was ours to drink. But of course after a good cry. We’re good at that. We’ve had years to practice, but these were tears of joy.  

 

I think I finally broke when I saw Tyronn Lue just sitting there on the bench, holding his head in his hands, sobbing, letting the sweat towel absorb the last five months of stress that actually paid off. And then LeBron, collapsed on the floor,  living out the prophecy that he proclaimed as a teenager. He knew it could be done, but he had no idea how hard it was going to be. Literally, no other NBA team has come back after being down three games in the finals. “Against all odds,” he said. “I don’t know why the man above gives me the hardest road, but … the man above don’t put you in situations that you can’t handle. I just kept that same positive attitude. Instead of saying why me, I said this is what He wants me to do. And, uh, Cleveland — this is for you!”

 

 

LeBron, you’re the best. And I think we can all learn a little something from that. We can also learn a little something from Uncle Drew – performing under pressure and making every play, every shot, including that last amazing three-pointer count. For the record, I love you Kyrie. I’ll name my first born after you. 

 

And then there’s JR Smith who gave one of the most heartfelt, gracious speeches I’ve ever heard – thanking his own parents for raising him the way they did, wearing his emotions on his sleeve as he wept to a filled room of reporters. The media gave him a standing ovation. The City of Cleveland then gave the entire team a five hour standing ovation at the celebration parade and rally. No, there were no fires. The city did not explode as many fans predicted. But it did erupt with joy and the entire greater metro region, including fans abroad, united in one very small concentrated area to give thanks to the team that personified our native hard-working culture and internal fight to come out on top just this once.

 

It made me so happy to witness my father’s unwavering devotion finally pay off as he smiled, giddy like a kid, at the players passing by on their floats, some shirtless, some not. Fans, young and old, rejoicing together! It was an experience like no other. All smiles. And an unforgettable month of June that included a week-long celebration and greeting the team at the I-X Center as they deplaned to watch LeBron hoist that trophy over his shoulders. The fans couldn’t be more grateful to The Cavs for finally bringing home a championship for us all to enjoy.

 

I always knew they could do it, but of course there were trials and tribulations. I guess I had my positivity and faith restored after Game 5. But then after winning Game 6, there was this unfamiliar sense of calm and gratitude that resonated throughout the entire Land that made many of us believe we had this. You could see it in the newscaster’s and weather woman’s eyes as they gave their reports. Sunny skies. You could smell a win in the air. Yes, my tummy was a rumblin’ the entire day leading up to and during Game 7, but the Cavs persevered and powered through the rhetoric of the opposing team’s fans and the fight of the Warriors. And let me remind those of you who must be reminded – Draymond Green and company had two more chances to win just one more game TOGETHER, and they couldn’t. But good effort. They are a great team. But as Clevelanders know all too well, someone has to finish second.  

 

 CLUTCH

 

I feel like I’m living in a fairy tale. Seriously. And this is our happily ever after. As I mentioned earlier, there is no Great and Powerful Oz behind the curtain controlling the game, and I don’t think the Illuminati was in on this new sports world order, but I do think this is our destiny. And our destiny includes winning a championship in true Cleveland fashion, making history, and yes, breaking a few records in the process! Maybe He (God) does play a role. Maybe He’s a basketball fan. But I’d like to think that we, the fans, and the City of Cleveland manifested this giant orb of positive energy (you know, like that pink bubble that Glinda The Good Witch uses) around an exceptionally talented group of guys who gave it their all and who really deserved and wanted it. And finally we finished in first.

 

With the pressure off who knows, maybe it will happen again next year. But we may not have to wait that long! The Cleveland Indians are on a thirteen game winning streak and are in first place in the American League.  Why not a World Series win too? My dad told me later that night (of Game 7) after recovering from shock, that he’s greedy now. He wants more! The man got a crock- pot, an NBA Championship, and crab cakes for Father’s Day, so why not get greedy? He’s waited long enough. Maybe Charlie Brown will finally kick that game winning field goal for the Browns (That was a joke). No but seriously, we have an AHL Calder Cup (I apologize for not giving The Monsters the credit they deserved before), an NBA Championship, a UFC heavyweight title, and we’re winning baseball games. So far, 2016 has been a fantastic year for Cleveland sports. Let’s keep going. After all, the curse is finally broken! #Allin2016 #Clevelandisthecity #ultimatewarrior #MVP! 

 

 


LeBron is King, and I finally have to admit it

Written by :
Published on : June 22, 2016

 

 

If you haven’t yet seen that Game 7 from Sunday, then you should go find it and watch it right now. Despite there being a total of only 4 points scored in the last four-plus minutes, it was one of the greatest basketball games I’ve ever seen. The outcome was not the one that would have pleased me the most but the game itself couldn’t have been better. It was a back and forth battle that was highlighted by a LeBron James triple double. He finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks.

 

Although the game was close for its entirety, it was a tale of two halves. Draymond Green was the star of the first half, going 5-for-5 from the 3-point line and 8-for-10 from the field overall. He was killing it. The Saginaw, Michigan product was dominating the game. I remember wondering aloud with my fellow Michiganders here in LA, if the Cavs would be able to adjust and slow Draymond down in the second half. The Cavs did adjust, and they did slow down Draymond Green. He finished 1 assist shy of a triple-double, but did not impact the game in the same way during the second half.

 

View post on imgur.com

   

No, it wasn’t Draymond who made the biggest second half impact, it was everyone’s (myself included) favorite player to hate, LeBron James, who stole the show to end Game 7. It could have been Steph Curry but he was too busy throwing the championship trophy away with ridiculously ill-timed behind the back passes or missing shots. The Warriors were stifled by the defensive efforts of the Cavs, and LeBron James especially, and that’s why they lost Game 7 after leading the series 3-1. You can point to suspension of Draymond Green, but that was only for Game 5. No excuses for Games 6 and 7. In fact, I would say Andrew Bogut’s injury was a bigger factor than the Green suspension.

 

After losing the center in Game 5, the Warriors were not able to fill the void he left and were out-rebounded by the Cavs in both of the final two games by a total of 93 to 74. Despite the rebounding disparity, the Warriors had every chance to win this thing and they didn’t. It seems to me like Steph Curry wasn’t really himself out there and we will probably hear soon that he was much more hampered by injuries than he let on, but you can’t use that against LeBron James. It’s because of him that the city of Cleveland has its first championship in any sport since 1964. They should make a statue of him and it should be of this late game block on Andre Iguodala.    

 

 

That block says everything you need to know about LeBron James’ effort in these NBA Finals, and really the playoffs as a whole. It might have been Kyrie Irving’s late 3-pointer that sealed it up and LeBron never could have done it without his team, especially Uncle Drew, but it was the willpower, determination and other-worldly talent of King James that brought Cleveland a championship. He is the greatest player in the world, and after leading that outrageous series comeback against the team that set the NBA single season win record by going 73-9, LeBron now resides in an upper-echelon of basketball lore previously occupied solely by Michael Jordan. And he’s only 31 years old.

 

He might not quite yet be Michael Jordan, but he’s getting there. And that’s just something I have to get used to, even if I don’t like it. Like Michael Jordan, LeBron James last step to greatness came by overcoming my beloved Detroit Pistons, who were the main early career roadblock to both of those all-time great NBA players. Because of that fact, I’ve never been a very big fan of either. I recognize the tremendous talent but that doesn’t mean I have to cheer for them always winning. But I’m now certain that they are the two best basketball players ever. Unlike Jordan, LeBron James seemingly runs the franchise too. He is the only person I’ve ever seen get their head coach fired while the team sat in 1st place in the conference, then pretty much pick out a successor, then go on to win it all.

 

I still don’t really like LeBron all that much, and I’m almost sure that he was totally full of shit for his manufactured emotional reaction to winning that Game 7 but I’m grateful for what he did in the playoffs this year. It was a sight to behold and I’m not sure I’ll ever get to see a comeback like that again. So here’s to you LeBron James. Thanks for the memories.

 

 

 


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.

 

 


Three Key Players in the NBA Finals

Written by :
Published on : June 2, 2016

 

 

If you read my Conference Finals previews, you know that my predictions were pretty damn accurate (not to toot my own horn, whatever the hell that means). I predicted the Warriors in seven, when many NBA experts thought they would beat the Thunder in five or six games. I predicted the Cavaliers would beat the Raptors in five games in the Eastern Conference Finals. It actually took six games for Cleveland to beat Toronto, but the Raptors’ two wins at home were largely due to the Cavs getting Bismack’d, which I also predicted (sort of). My NBA credibility is pretty solid right now. I could just sit back and rest on my laurels, but instead, I’m putting that credibility on the line!

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the Golden State Warriors. This is the NBA Finals series that the people wanted to see. We were somewhat robbed of it last year, when the Cavs came in shorthanded with no Kevin Love, then lost Kyrie Irving in game one. But this year, both teams are fully healthy and coming in hot. The stakes are huge, as LeBron James and the Cavs have a chance to break Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought. Steph Curry and the Warriors have a chance to cement their place in NBA history with an unbelievable two year run that pays off with back-to-back Larry O’Brien Trophies.

 

In the NBA world, fans and the media like to advertise the finals as superstar vs. superstar (in this case LeBron vs. Curry). But as we’ve seen recently, these guys rise to the occasion in pretty much every game. We know LeBron will dominate in a variety of ways. We know Steph Curry will score a ton of points, as he’s proven that his knee injury is no longer a concern. We know Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson will be great, as they both consistently have been throughout the playoffs. These are knowns. I’m looking at the unknowns. There are three guys who have been very unpredictable lately who need to step it up for their team to win the championship.

 

Kevin Love

Cavaliers at Wizards 11/21/14

 

Kevin Love hasn’t exactly been a model of consistency in his first two seasons with Cleveland. We’ve seen moments of greatness; scoring in the post, stepping out to the baseline and hitting threes, grabbing rebounds, and making amazing outlet passes to LeBron for easy dunks. But at times he lacks confidence and aggression; passing up open shots, failing to get into post scoring position, and shying away from physical battles with intimidating bigs. In the first two rounds of the playoffs, Love did what the Cavs needed him to do, averaging 18.9 points and 12.5 rebounds.

 

In the conference finals, those numbers dropped to 15.2 points and 5.7 rebounds. Love took the bulk of the blame for the Cavs losses in Toronto, shooting 5-23 from the field, for a combined 13 points and 11 rebounds in those two games. Clearly Love was one of the biggest victims of the vicious Bismacking that occurred in the Air Canada Centre. Love has often been the scapegoat when the Cavs struggle, but this could be his chance to get that monkey off his back once and for all. Cleveland can live with mediocre defense from Love, but he can’t be afraid to take open shots and assert himself into the game. If the Cavs are going to win a title, Love needs to be aggressive and be willing to fight Draymond Green for rebounds. Speaking of Draymond Green…

 

Draymond Green

draymond-green-nba-playoffs-los-angeles-clippers-golden-state-warriors-850x560

 

While Green has typically been a great all-around player that Golden State can rely on, he’s coming off a very rough series against Oklahoma City. Green was brilliant in the second round against Portland, boasting 22.2 points, 11.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game. But his numbers plummeted to 11.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game against the Thunder.

 

Like Love, Green was at his worst in the first two road games of the conference finals, shooting an atrocious 2-16 from the field. He also failed to be his disruptive self, as he seemed to let the Thunder bigs get in his head, particularly Steven Adams. Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love aren’t nearly as physically intimidating as Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka, but we did see that Green’s confidence can be broken and he can be taken out of games. The margin for error is very small for both teams in this series, and the Warriors won’t be able to win many games if Draymond isn’t playing up to his potential. Golden State is going to need more just bodyslams and kicks to the groin from Green in order to win another championship.

 

J.R. Smith

JRSmith

 

J.R. Smith has never found a shot he didn’t like. In fact, I’m guessing right now, J.R. is somewhere in America taking a contested three with a hand in his face. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, only like the shots that go in. Smith is the epitome of a streaky shooter. When he’s hot, he’s on fire. We’re talking NBA Jam-style on fire. But when he’s cold, he can’t buy a bucket.

 

When these teams met in the finals last year, Smith was coming in hot, averaging 18.0 points and shooting 47.1% from beyond the arc in the conference finals against the Hawks. He then went ice cold (and not the good kind) against the Warriors, averaging 11.5 points and shooting 31.2% from the field. With no Irving or Love, the Cavs were asking way too much out of J.R. Smith. This time around, there won’t be nearly as much pressure on him. Smith’s job is simple, make the good shots, and cut down on the bad ones. When Smith gets in an offensive rhythm, he gives the Cavs one more guy that can handle the ball and create his own shot, taking some pressure off LeBron, Irving and Love. He has a chance to make up for last year’s awful finals performance, and a few big games from J.R. Smith could turn this series heavily in the Cavs favor.

 

When I watched the Finals last year, I felt like the Cavs could’ve beaten the Warriors if they had a full deck. Even as I watched the Cavs meander through this season, at times looking mediocre and firing their head coach midseason, all while the Warriors were putting together the best regular season in NBA history, I still thought Cleveland would eventually figure it out and win a championship. With all due respect to everything Golden State has accomplished over the last two years, I think the Cavaliers are built to beat any team in the NBA in a seven game series, but they are going to need Kevin Love and J.R. Smith to step up in order for that to happen.

 

Cavs in 6.

 

 


A Letter to the Cavs from a Grateful Fan

Written by :
Published on : May 28, 2016

 

 

Dear Cleveland Cavaliers,

 

Thank you for accepting the challenge, for fighting through matchup after matchup, for weathering the injuries, for your patience in times of mental and physical turmoil, for balling like some ballers, and for winning the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

Needless to say,  it’s been a long road. Yes, at this time last year we were advancing to the finals, but without Kyrie who went down in overtime, never to return in the 2014-15 NBA post season. Not to mention Kevin Love who endured a debilitating shoulder injury against Boston in round one. But the limited bench showed up and put on a performance that inspired the hungry Cleveland crowd, and even won two games in the finals. By the way, those finals wins were a first in Cavs history. Pushing, scraping, and Dellying our way to a game six, our luck and our energy finally ran out when Golden State took home the trophy.

 

It was a slow start to the 2015-16 season. Kyrie was still recovering. The wins were there, but not as fruitful as your typical cornucopia. It took a while before Stella Got Her Groove Back. But everything comes in cycles. As we lost Anderson Varejao to a torn achilles right before Christmas last year, we were gifted with a healthy yet rusty Kyrie as the holidays approached. With the New Year came new beginnings – and I’m talking big changes, as head Coach David Blatt was let go and Tyronn Lue went from highest paid associate to top diggity dog (but not the highest paid head coach of course). Could he live up to the challenge we asked? Or would LeBron be doing most of the coaching?

 

Some say Tyronn has stood his ground. And it’s undeniable that LeBron has had a significant impact on how the team has arrived to where they are today. I’m sure it was a little of this, a little of that. A lot of healthy eating, a lot of hard work, and a little partying in between – hence LeBron’s Prince Halloween costume. RIP Prince.

 

LeBronAsPrince

 

But after witnessing the heartwarming energy of the fans last year and hearing those echoes of hope continue to ring throughout The Land and across the country this year, I am sure that our faith has not faded. Our trust in our team is strong. We believe we can win because we’ve seen it, and we’ve seen it done well. We’ve also witnessed how a fan base can truly uplift or deflate their hometown heroes or sworn enemies depending on who’s turf we’re meeting on. And when we say ALL IN, it’s not because basketball is all we have, it’s because we’re giving one hundred percent just like our guys.

 

It’s an energy, connection, and love that breaks borders, boundaries, and bloodlines. But what we have in common is where we’re from and who we are playing for. We have pride in our team and our team embodies the spirit of our city. A city that we love and a city that deserves a championship. After all, we are all fans. Even LeBron is a fan. And he knows the power of the fandom, united. He even acknowledged the power of the Toronto fan base – which included Drake giving high fives at the end of the game. Not sure Lowry cared about Drake…But don’t feel sorry for Toronto. They played well. They still have hockey, sort of.

 

Drake raptors

 

It was great to see Mr. Cavalier, aka Austin Carr, stand with the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers to hoist that Eastern Conference Championship trophy above their heads. He’s been there since the beginning. He’s almost seen many a championship. But something tells me that this year is history in the making and I’m so happy he’s a part of it.

 

Whether it’s OKC or Golden State, I believe we are ready to take on either team. My dad, aka @SirFranksnBacon, aka the Dean of Cleveland Sports, Greg Brinda, recently quoted sworn Starfleet enemy, Khan, on his post game show, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” But if we play OKC we’ll have home court advantage, which means our fans will have a say in these first two games. Don’t worry. We won’t underestimate either opponent. We’ll have to make adjustments accordingly, but there’s a sense of calm and confidence that eases my fears. I’m not used to that feeling, and I’m not even sure of what to think about that right now, but I’ll take it.

 

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 20:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the final minutes of their 97 to 89 win over the Atlanta Hawks during Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 20, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

Just like the original Goonie, Mikey, preaches to his team from the depths of the Oregon coast, Don’t you realize? The next time you see sky, it’ll be over another town. The next time you take a test, it’ll be in some other school. Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what’s right for them. Because it’s their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it’s our time. It’s our time down here. That’s all over the second we ride up Troy’s bucket.”

 

And we’re not riding up Troy’s bucket until we have a championship.

 

 


Why they can win: NBA Conference Finals Edition

Written by :
Published on : May 25, 2016

 

 

Here we are, smack dab in the middle of a couple of exciting and jaw-dropping NBA Conference Finals series. There have been blowouts, big shots, big fouls and enough big surprises to make this round of the NBA Playoffs exponentially more exciting than any of the preceding ones. We are left with four very talented teams, any of which could win their respective series and advance to the NBA Finals. Let’s take a look at each series and talk about why any of these teams could potentially be headed to the Finals.

 

Western Conference Finals:

The Western Conference Finals features the record-setting Golden State Warriors against the Oklahoma City Thunder. This series is not going according to plan for one of the teams, and the Thunder are currently up 3-1, but it is far from over. Let’s check out the teams.

 

Golden State Warriors

steph

 

The Warriors are sitting in a deep 3-1 hole right now and seem to be in some serious trouble, but that doesn’t mean that they are done just yet. This is still a team that won 73 games in the regular season and one that has the reigning two-time MVP. They just need to find their groove again. After that game 3 loss we were pretty sure that the Warriors couldn’t possibly play worse than that. Then they did in game 4. In order to come back from what seems like an insurmountable deficit, they need to calm down and take it one game at a time. Scratch that, one shot at a time. Game 5 is at home and if they can get a much needed boost from that Oakland crowd and take that one, then they might just have a shot at it. They’ve proven that they can rattle off a ridiculous amount of consecutive wins already this year. If they can do it again, they can win.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

russell-westbrook

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder have beaten the defending champions by 20+ points in two straight games. That’s something that hasn’t happened since 1984. Russell Westbrook has been on fire in this series and has really taken it to the Warriors, posting a triple-double in game 4. In order for the Thunder to close out this series and head to the NBA Finals they just need to keep doing what they’ve been doing. They need to continue to stifle the defending champs with their defense, hold them to uncharacteristically low shooting percentages, create turnovers and out-rebound the Warriors. If they do that, then they’ll be headed to play the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

Eastern Conference Finals

At first, the Eastern Conference Championship seemed like it was going to be another cakewalk for the the Cleveland Cavaliers. They won the first two games against the Toronto Raptors and looked to be on their way to sweeping a third consecutive series. Luckily for basketball fans, things have changed quite drastically and the series now sits tied at two games a piece. Essentially it’s a whole new best-of-three series. Let’s see why either of these two teams could take it.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

Bron

 

Up until the last two games, the Cavaliers have looked dominant throughout the NBA Playoffs, and they had yet to lose a single game. They definitely aren’t sitting in the same kind of hole as the defending champs, but they have finally gotten a little taste of what adversity is like. That being said, they are still the favorites to win the series and they still have LeBron James, as well as a healthy supporting cast and Kyrie Irving has shown up in a big way this year. It’s because King James finally has some help that the chances of a championship in the city of Cleveland are starting to seem much more feasible than any of LeBron’s other attempts to win it all in his home town. If they can get back to owning the paint and can improve their 3-point shooting marginally then they should win the next two games and advance to the NBA Finals.

 

Toronto Raptors

bismack-biyombo

 

In these last two matchups, the Toronto Raptors have Bismack’d the Cleveland Cavaliers. Center, Bismack Biyombo has kept LeBron James & Co from scoring at the rim in the same way that they were accustomed to in these playoffs. After spending the first two games of the series worrying about defending the three and paying little mind to points in the paint in losing efforts, the Raptors have owned that area of the floor over the last two games. And it has led to wins. The Raptors have adjusted to the speed of the Cavs, after looking visibly shaken by it in the first games of the series. With Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozen scoring big points Cleveland hasn’t been able to push the tempo. If they can continue to keep up the pace and stay in a rhythm on both sides of the floor then there is a chance that they can shock the world and head to their first ever NBA Finals. They’ve proven they can beat the Cavaliers, now they just need to do it two more times.

 

 


3 Improbable ways the Raptors can beat the Cavs

Written by :
Published on : May 17, 2016

 

You may have read my Western Conference Finals preview, highlighting three reasons the Thunder will beat the Warriors, and three reasons the Warriors will beat the Thunder. I’m obviously a man of clear, concise opinions. Well this one is going to be a little different. With my apologies to Drake, I just don’t think the Raptors have a realistic shot to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers. I know, Toronto fans feel like they get no respect. They’re playing up in Canada with no nationally televised games and no one is taking them seriously, even with second best record in the Eastern Conference.

 

But the fact is, you’re going up against a team that has LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Your answer to that is DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and Jonas Valanciunas, who’s out for game one and doubtful for game two. Don’t get me wrong, those are good players, but Cleveland has great players. You’re running into a Cavs team that’s playing their best ball since bringing LeBron back to Cleveland and assembling their big three. The Cavs swept their way through the first two rounds with ease, while out-Warriors-ing the Warriors by shooting a ridiculous 46.2% from beyond the arc while knocking down 16.8 three-pointers per game.

 

There’s always one big question for any team preparing for a series against LeBron James: Who’s going to guard him? Toronto’s big offseason free agent acquisition, DeMarre Carroll, will likely take the bulk of this task, as he did as a member of the Hawks last season when they were swept by the Cavs. LeBron averaged 30.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 9.3 assists in that series (not too shabby). Carroll is an underrated player, and he’s capable of playing the lockdown defender role at times, but that tends to change when the man you’re trying to lock down is LeBron James.

 

I’m not trying to bring you down, Raptors fans. I just see two teams that are on completely different levels right now. Is it possible that the Raptors could knock off the Cavaliers and advance to the NBA Finals? Sure. But a lot of crazy stuff would have to happen to lead to that result. So here it is…

 

 

3 Improbable ways the Raptors can beat the Cavs:

 

1. LeBron retires

LeBron press conference
                                         We just hope he wears that hat to the retirement press conference.

 

LeBron James never really runs into serious injuries, so it might be more likely that he retires before, or during, the Eastern Conference Finals. Maybe he pulls a Michael Jordan and wants to try another sport while he still has some good years left in his body. There’s always been talk that he could play in the NFL. OTAs start in about a week for most teams, so if he wants to take a shot at a football career, now is the time. Or maybe he decides he wants to leave Cleveland again and go back to Miami, but he wants to get it over with before Cavs fans get their championship and become that much more attached. If, by some unforeseen circumstance, LeBron James doesn’t end up playing in the series, the Raptors would have a pretty good shot. Unfortunately, they will likely be facing a Cavaliers team that will feature LeBron James playing a lot of minutes in every game and doing a lot of incredible LeBron James things. This means Cleveland will likely be coasting back into the NBA Finals. Unless…

 

 

2. The Cavs get Bismack’d!

Get Bismack'd!
                                                                                  Get Bismack’d!

 

Ok, I’ll admit, I just wanted to work Bismack’d into an article… But the Raptors backup center, Bismack Biyombo, will actually be a key factor in this series. Not only does he feature one of the best names in the NBA, but he proved he can be a force down low against Miami. When starting center, Jonas Valanciunas, went down in game three with a sprained ankle, Biyombo stepped in admirably. Starting the final four games of the series, Biyombo averaged 11.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game.

 

Biyombo has shown he’s up for the challenge before. In the 22 games he started in the regular season, he averaged 12.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. He also led the league in Bismacks, but apparently that’s still not an official NBA statistic. He’s an athletic, high energy big man who can rebound on both sides of the court, swat shots, and find ways to get points down low. Sure, it may be overly optimistic to think Bismack Biyombo could be the secret weapon that gives Toronto an edge against Cleveland. But with Valanciunas expected to miss the first game, and likely more, the Raptors will need to rely heavily on their Congolese big man. I’m just hoping he plays well enough to keep his name relevant so I can keep saying Bismack Biyombo. Try it: Bismack Biyombo… Watch out Cleveland, or you might just get Bismack’d!

 

 

3. The Raptors make the Cavs a one-man show

Can they make him do it alone?
                                                              Can they make him do it alone?

 

I’ll admit it, the odds of LeBron James retiring in the middle of the conference finals are very slim. The odds of Bismack Biyombo putting the Raptors on his shoulders and leading them to a major upset over Cleveland might be even slimmer, regardless of how cool his name is. Unless the Raptors are counting on a series of shocking misfortunes to strike the Cavaliers, much like the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team faced, causing Mr. Burns to lose all of his MLB ringers leading up to their big game against Shelbyvillle, Toronto will have to find a way to limit the effectiveness of as many Cavs as possible.

 

They’re not going to stop LeBron, but they can do their best to tempt him into shooting instead of letting him drive to the hole, draw fouls, get dunks and lay-ups, and make amazing passes to open shooters. If they clog up driving and passing lanes and limit LeBron’s ability to rack up assists, he’ll still do some damage in other ways, but it will at least help take guys like J.R. Smith and Channing Frye out of the game. It will also force Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to create offense on their own instead of relying on LeBron’s playmaking abilities.

 

Kyle Lowry can potentially outplay Irving and win the point guard battle, and Love can be mentally taken out of games when he gets frustrated. Bottom line, the Raptors need to do a much better job limiting the production of Cleveland’s ensemble cast (we’ll call them the LeBronnettes) than the Hawks did, and they are certainly capable of doing that. But even if Toronto does turn Cleveland into a one-man show, that one man is still LeBron freaking James! Remember, when Springfield lost all their ringers, they still had one left: Darryl Strawberry. That one man was still able to lead them to victory (I know, Mr. Burns pinch-hit Homer for Strawberry and Homer got beaned with the bases loaded to score the winning run, but that totally ruins my analogy).

 

Cavs in 5.

 

 


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