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.

 

 


The NBA Free Agency Mambo

Written by :
Published on : July 5, 2017

 

Welcome to the arms race that is NBA free agency mambo. Since the Chris Paul trade, many other big names have signed new deals. Time to review all the big action so far. This is not every transaction but all the important ones.

 

Paul George to Thunder via trade

George was one of the most sought after talents this offseason. Him joining Oklahoma was a bit of a shock but he adds a much needed second weapon to Russell Westbrook. If this keeps the Thunder will be in the hunt in the West.

 

Blake Griffin re-signs with Clippers

Many thought Blake was gone after Chris Paul left but instead he stays in town and signs a max deal for 5 years/$173 million. This is officially Blake’s team.

 

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers

 

Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson to Timberwolves

3 year/$57 million for Teague and 2 year/$28 million for Gibson. This Wolves team should be pretty fun to watch since they already added Jimmy Butler to the young roster.

 

Warriors keep everybody

Many thought some of the role players would leave the championship team to go get paid but this was not the case. David West, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala all re-signed. Plus Kevin Durant inks a 2 year/$53 million extension and Steph Curry gets a max deal of 5 year/$200 million. These moves keeps almost the whole crew together for another run. Scary.

 

Jrue Holiday gets paid by the Pelicans

5 year/$126 million. The deal could be worth up to $150 million if certain incentives are met. That’s big cash.

 

jrue-holiday

 

Chinese star Zhou Qi joins Rockets

He is 7’2″ and Chinese. Where else would he play? The Rockets love tall Chinese dudes. That’s their type. Let’s see if Qi is the next Yao Ming.

 

JJ Reddick to 76ers

1 year/$23 million. No, that isn’t a typo. Straight up, top 10 NFL quarterback level money. The NBA deals are off the charts these days.

 

Raptors keep Kyle Lowry

3 year/$100 million for the rising star. This ends rumors of him going to a new squad. Makes sense from Toronto’s point of view. They must keep Lowry and build around him.

 

lowry

 

Paul Millsap to Nuggets

3 year/$90 million to bring Millsap from Atlanta to Denver. $30 mil a year to bounce a ball? God damn I should have never quit playing basketball after 8th grade.

 

Kings add George Hill and Zach Randolph

Sacramento is in a tough spot in the West but these signings will make an impact day 1. Another two names off the free agency big board.

 

Nets offer Otto Porter Jr max deal

Brooklyn has a 4 year/$106 million contract on the table. It’s now up to the Washington Wizards to match or pass. Expect a resolution in the next few days.

 

Otto-Porter-Jr

 

Danilo Gallinari to Clippers after 3-way trade

Danilo will get 3 year/$65 million in Los Angeles. Atlanta gets Jamal Crawford, Diamond Stone plus a 2018 first round pick. Denver gets Atlanta’s ’19 second round pick. Complicated but interesting.

 

Gordon Hayward to Celtics

The last big name that many were waiting on. Hayward looked like he wanted to stay in Utah but the call to join a solid Boston squad was too great. He also doesn’t have to deal the Warriors in the playoffs anymore. The future is bright in Boston right now.

 

That’s all the action so far. There is sure to be some big moves on the horizon. Especially when you hear humors like the Cavs or Rockets are trying to trade for Carmelo Anthony. That’s just nuts. But who knows? Anything can happen in this new super cash era of the NBA.

 

Signing bonus.

 

 


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.

 

 


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: 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.

 

 


Halloween Costume Ideas

Written by :
Published on : October 30, 2016

 

 

Halloween is right around the corner and I bet most of you lazy bones still don’t have a costume yet. No worries, let SBS scare up some ideas for you. All Hallows’ Eve is a wonderful holiday where you get to shock and delight your friends and neighbors with a spooky getup while stuffing your face with candy. What’s not to love? Here are a few sports related Halloween costume concepts that are easy to pull off and are sure to be a hit where ever you go.

 

Zom Brady

zom brady

 

All you need for this one is a New England Patriots jersey or shirt. Preferably something with number 12 on it. Doesn’t need to be official merch, head to the thrift store and find something that fits. You can borrow from a friend but there is a chance it may get stained so be careful. Next, get some corpse makeup and do your best to look undead. Maybe splatter fake blood across the jersey. This can also be modified as a couple’s costume. The Gisele or Gizombie costume is the same: Pat’s gear, corpse paint, hair down. When it doubt, add names to the back of the shirts. Also, group costume idea, get a third person to rock the Belichick hoodie.

 

Steph Curry

stepth MOUTHGUARDS

 

You don’t need insane handles and an unstoppable three to dress up as Steph Curry. It’s actually quite easy to imitate the Golden State Warriors star. All you need is a clear mouthguard which is available at any sporting goods store. Then, wait for someone to ask you what your costume is then put the mouthguard in then starting chewing on one end and see how quick your buds guess the answer.

 

Gordie Howl-at-the-moon

First step is simple. Some Red Wings attire (jersey or t-shirt). Unlike clam chowder, we prefer the red over the white. But if it’s available, by all means. Next, you need either a wolf mask (full rubber or plastic face with elastic band) or some decent fur and makeup. A hockey stick is a nice accessory but lugging it around can be a pain. Remember, you are going as a play-on-words. And no ones plays harder than Gordie Howe. So really sell it. Practice your howl and do it like Gordie would have.

 

Steve Bartman

bartman

 

The Cubs finally made it to a World Series, so we can all finally laugh about the Bartman incident. To pull this one off you need some eyeglasses, a solid blue Cubs hat, a black crew neck sweatshirt, a green turtle neck (for underneath the sweatshirt) and walkman with shitty 90’s style headphones. Any Chicago fan or serious sports nut will dig this look. But be carful, dress this way and Mike Bridenstine may take a swing at you.

 

All jokes aside, what could be scarier than being the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns? They are on their 6th QB in 7 games. Injury has taken them all out. Enough tricks already, these guys could use some treats. If you have a great costume idea then please leave it in the comments for everyone to enjoy. Send us all your sports Halloween costume photos and we will post them to our instagram.

 

Boo!

 

 


How does joining the Warriors affect Durant’s legacy?

Written by :
Published on : July 8, 2016

 

Like many of you, I was expecting to wake up on the 4th of July and see that Kevin Durant had re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Instead, after I rolled out of bed and grabbed my phone and opened my ESPN app (because the SBS app hasn’t launched yet), I rubbed my eyes and did a double take and saw that Durant actually did sign a two year deal to play for the Golden State Warriors. This came as somewhat of a shock. When the rumors came out during the regular season that the Warriors were the biggest threat to steal Durant from Oklahoma City, it seemed like a pipe dream. But that pipe dream became a pipe reality, and the Warriors pulling off such an unlikely deal left me with several questions…

 

If it weren’t for two of the most incredible comebacks in NBA playoff history, do the Warriors land Durant?

 
When the Thunder took a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors, it looked like Oklahoma City had the series sealed up. But the Warriors fought back, winning the next three games to get back to the NBA Finals. All three of those wins were by single-digits. All three came down to the final minutes, with the Thunder having several opportunities to close out the series, in particular in Game 6 when they blew an 8-point fourth quarter lead on their home court. In that fourth quarter, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined for seven threes, while Durant and Russell Westbrook gave up six turnovers.

 
In the Finals, the Warriors got a taste of their own medicine, as the Cavaliers orchestrated an even more shocking comeback after also trailing three game to one, then winning the next three led by unbelievable performances from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to give the city of Cleveland it’s first championship in 52 years.

 

 

Much like the Thunder in Western Conference Finals, the Warriors certainly showed they could beat the Cavs, they were just outplayed by a very slim margin over the course of seven games. It’s hard to think that Durant and the Warriors would make such major decisions based on losing by such a slim margin. But it’s even harder to imagine that Kevin Durant would have joined the Warriors if he and the Thunder had just defeated them, or that the Warriors would risk messing with a team that has such great chemistry to spend a ton of money on Durant if they had just won their second straight NBA title. If it weren’t for Splash Brothers shooting the lights out in the 4th quarter of Game 6 in the West Finals, OKC’s turnover-filled collapse in the same game, LeBron’s amazing block and Kyrie’s amazing three in Game 7, along with several other incredible events that led to slim margins of victory, Durant would still be wearing a Thunder uniform next season.

 

Was Durant move more about hurting Thunder than helping Warriors?

 
After relying on an amazing comeback to beat the Thunder, then losing to Cleveland in the Finals, Golden State had a reality check: despite breaking the record for most regular season wins, there was one team in each conference that would pose a serious threat to them for many years to come. The Warriors wanted to do everything they could restore the notion that they are lightyears ahead of any other team in the league. The best way to do that was not only to get the best player available in free agency, but take the best player away from their toughest competition in the Western Conference. Sure, this trade made the Golden State much better, but more importantly, it made Oklahoma City much worse.

 

Does this help or hurt Durant’s legacy?

 
As a player, Durant has every right to sign with whatever team he wants. As a fan, you have every right to lose respect for him as a player. I personally want to see the top players in the league battle against each other rather than join forces and create nearly unbeatable teams. Kevin Durant is one of the three best players in the league and he is good enough to lead his own team to a championship, rather than joining a team that won a championship without him just one year ago and already has the best roster in the NBA, including the two-time MVP.

 

 
Sure, NBA greatness is measured mostly by rings, but many people will see Durant’s potential rings as somewhat tainted by riding the coattails of Curry and the already dominant Golden State squad. Just one championship for Oklahoma City could earn him even more respect than three or four in Golden State, where he will always be viewed as Sideshow Bob instead of Krusty the Clown. Because the Batman and Robin metaphor is just played out… Although Durant never tried to murder anyone, so lets go with Cameron Frye and Ferris Bueller…

 

How is Durant’s decision different than LeBron’s?

 
Naturally there’s comparisons to LeBron leaving Cleveland for Miami. While Durant learned from LeBron’s mistake and made his decision quietly, the real difference here is the supporting cast. In LeBron’s first seven seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs best effort in finding his Cameron Frye was bringing in Mo Williams and a washed up Antwan Jamison. That’s not quite Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter.

 
Oklahoma City improved last year’s roster with a great trade on draft day, sending Ibaka to the Orlando Magic in return for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and Domantas Sabonis, who the Magic took with their first round pick. The deal gave OKC a much needed third scorer and ball-handler in Oladipo and the depth to make up for parting with Ibaka. It was widely expected that the Thunder would trade one of their three very talented big men, but no one saw them getting this big of a haul in return. If Durant had decided to return to Oklahoma City, he would have the supporting cast in place to contend for a championship. The same cannot be said for LeBron when he first left Cleveland.

 

What are the Warriors risking?

 
I don’t think they have much to worry about in terms of on-court chemistry. Although they all like to shoot, Curry, Durant, Thompson and Draymond Green are all very unselfish players who don’t seem to be concerned with their numbers taking a minor hit in exchange for winning. The real concern is when the egos start to kick in off the court. The NBA announced today that the projected salary cap for the 2017-18 season is currently $102 million instead of $107 million, which was the previous projection.

 

warriors-trio

 
The Warriors were counting on using every dollar of that initial $107 million (perhaps even more) when they signed Durant, knowing that Steph Curry will hit the free agent market next summer. Curry will obviously demand a massive contract and Durant will likely decline his player option to maximize his earnings as well. There’s no way the Warriors will let Curry get away, and he probably isn’t interested in leaving a team and city that has been so good to him. This means the Warriors could face the dilemma of either accepting Durant as a 1-2 year rental, or essentially gutting their entire bench and completely letting go of their “strength in numbers” identity to retain their big four. Whether or not they can keep this together long term, the Warriors are riding on the logic that it will be worth it while it lasts.

 

Can anyone compete with the Warriors?

 
Probably not. Certainly not in the West, where the Warriors just beheaded the Thunder (I’d throw in a Game of Thrones reference here, but I’m the one guy in America who doesn’t watch the show), the Spurs are getting even older and slower, and the Clippers have done nothing to improve a roster that has already failed to compete with the top teams in the conference. A third straight Finals matchup between the Cavs and Warriors almost seems like a guarantee at this point.

 
It took unbelievable performances by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to lead Cleveland to their miraculous comeback this year. It could take that and even more next year, which is a lot to ask, even for players of James and Irving’s caliber. For the Cavs to have a serious chance at repeating, they might have to bank on an injury to Curry or Durant, who both have had some injury problems in their careers. Even then, the Warriors still have a good shot at reclaiming their status as NBA Champions. Since we basically already know who will play in the Finals in 2017, it’s pretty hard to get excited about NBA basketball until next June. But that’s only 11 months away…

 

 


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.

 

 

 


I Believe in the Cavs

Written by :
Published on : June 19, 2016

 

 

 

A beautiful, hope-filled mural has greeted Cleveland fans at each home game this NBA Finals. It will greet fans one more time as they fill up seats in Quicken Loans Arena and just outside at Gateway Plaza during the Game 7 watch party. But before I go any further, let me repeat two of the greatest words in the world to LeBron James and to Cleveland fans near and far: GAME SEVEN.

 

brinda - believe

 

It’s what we hoped for last year, and what we finally got this year – another chance for a title and our best chance to break the championship drought thus far. The journey has once again proven to be unpredictable, frustrating at times, and awe-inspiring at others. The Cleveland fans, organization, and players have all shared in this emotional rollercoaster that we can only hope will end with that windblown look of amazement and happiness that you feel when it finally comes to a stop… even when you don’t want it to. But it will tomorrow night when the winds of fate blow through the bay once more.  

 

This season has got me thinking a lot about fate, facts, conspiracy, and superstition. Many Clevelanders have blamed the drought on a curse. Many Golden State fans will blame their losses on conspiracy (Steph Curry’s wife included). But when it comes down to it, the forces at play here aren’t hiding behind the curtain. There is no Great and Powerful Oz with unexplainable magic who can grant our wishes. But what is at play is special and resembles magic in a lot of ways. The magic is in the numbers, in the performances, in the incredible athleticism of LeBron James, and yes, his team. He has proven he can do it all. And his teammates (well most of them) have proven that they can follow his lead.

 

GTY 540879300 S SPO BKO BKN USA OH

 

That call and response could be seen in Game 6 as J.R. Smith lobbed the basketball up as if to no one – just to have LeBron come soaring in for one of the most exciting alley-oops I’ve ever witnessed. Or as Kyrie Irving hit shot after shot to match LeBron’s insane efforts in Game 5. That same call and response triggered another appropriate reaction with the fans who fed off that energy and transferred it right back to the team with deafening screams of wonder and joy.

 

When LeBron James announced his return a couple of summers ago, the city responded with another mural, a massive mural downtown that confirmed hope had returned, not only for our sports teams, but for our city on the brink of a downtown resurgence. Sure, he is not the answer to all of our problems. He is not the only piece to this puzzle as the city continues to rebuild and redefine itself. But he is a symbol of hope, of inspiration, and the possibilities that are to come for our community, our people, and our sports teams. And come time Game 7, we are all witness to what could be the end of Cleveland’s second place past and a new era of success led by one of our own.

 

lebron wall

 

I pray the team slept well last night, just as LeBron and company did this past Thursday, fresh off a win. No, I don’t think there will be any more sleepovers this season (as I had mentioned and hoped for in my previous articles). And I no longer believe in my own conspiracy that Anderson Varejao is secretly trying to help the Cavs (unless it’s to demonstrate how to pull off a successful flop). But I do believe in what I see, in what fans see, in what my father sees, who is the biggest sports fan I know – which is hope, which is talent, and what is at many times unbelievably awesome to witness. I believe in the Cavs. I believe in LeBron. And I do believe that history can be made for Cleveland tonight, in epic fashion after trailing by three, with one more win. Believe it. We’re all in.

 

all in cleveland

 

And for all the Cleveland loving fathers out there, including my own, Greg Brinda, AKA @sirfranksnbacon, AKA The Dean of Cleveland Sports Talk, here’s to the best Father’s Day present you could ask for…that long awaited championship. You deserve it.

 

 


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.

 

 


The Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t dead yet

Written by :
Published on : June 9, 2016

 

 

What a minute, shut up for a second… Can you hear that? I think it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers heartbeat…

 

Just when people were digging holes and getting ready to throw in the lifeless bodies of LeBron James & Co, Believeland came back to life and reminded the world that this is still a team that only lost two games throughout the entire Eastern Conference playoffs. After losing by 33 points in Game 2 on the road, the Cavs came back home and made a statement by beating the Golden State Warriors by 30 points.

 

 This photo is metaphor for Steph Curry’s Finals experience. He just can’t get there.

 

The Cavs continued to minimize Steph Curry’s impact on the game via their defensive efforts, as they have for the entire series thus far, but unlike the first two games, the rest of the team wasn’t able to fill the void. Curry finished with 19 points overall after having just 2 points in the first half. For the MVP that isn’t enough to get it done. Not only was the shot not falling, but Steph looked completely off last night, as he has for the entirety of these NBA Finals. On this night, Cleveland was a much better team and feeding off of the electric atmosphere of The Q, they sent a message to the world that they should not be counted out.

 

With an aged Richard Jefferson stepping in to start for the injured Kevin Love, Cleveland was all over Golden State from the get-go. There was never a tie or a lead change after the first points were scored by the Cleveland Cavaliers. There was a drastic change in the defensive energy without Love, which means there will be a tough decision for head coach Tyronn Lue when Love clears the NBA’s concussion protocol. Obviously, he is going to start once he is healthy but you can’t deny that his absence coincided with a change for the better in most aspects of the Cavs’ game.

 

 Kyrie was on his game.

 

In the past, falling into such a deficit and losing in such a fashion to start the NBA Finals would cause LeBron James to try to take over the game and win it himself. But it seems that this year he has learned his lesson. He may have led the team in points in Game 3 but it was the awakening of Kyrie Irving that made all the difference. Uncle Drew (30 points) was 7-9 from the floor in the first quarter and was an integral part of the Cavs’ 19-4 run to open the game. With the help of JR Smith (20 points) and Tristan Thompson (14 points), Kyrie and everyone not named King James made sure that this time things would be different.

 

Before we go saying that the momentum has totally shifted, we should realize that the Golden State Warriors have lost all five of their Game 3 matchups since the start of 2015 NBA Finals. They are probably just cursed. They do say that bad things come in 3’s. I guess they meant Game 3’s, because this one was really bad and if they don’t rebound and the Cavaliers win Game 4, all bets are off.

 

For today, the Cleveland Cavaliers have life. They were the better team in every way and they deserved this win. If they can do it again, we might just have a series on our hands. If not, they are dead. Maybe this time for good.

 

 


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 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.

 

 


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