Tag Archives: Golden State Warriors

NBA Finals Preview

The stage is set for the NBA Finals that is ahead of us come Thursday between the best player in LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers against the best team Golden State Warriors led by MVP Stephen Curry and first year head coach Steve Kerr. History will be made as both franchises set to make history. Golden State can end it’s 40 year streak without an NBA title, while the Cavaliers franchise will be in the hunt for its first title ever.

Many did not expect the Cleveland Cavaliers to reach the NBA Finals with a new first year NBA head coach in David Blatt and the new put together roster that helped form the big 3 of James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. Without Love and a hobbled Irving, the supporting cast of Matthew Dellavedova, Tristan Thompson and the elevated play of JR Smith has the Cavs in the position they are in now.

It is vital to Cleveland that LeBron James continues to control the game at his pace in order to win his 3rd title in 5 years. While he hasn’t been efficient this postseason, the dominance of the ball that is on display is what we have never seen whether its shooting or making the right pass to his teammates.

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five

For Golden State Warriors, the hiring of Steve Kerr after letting go Mark Jackson left many optimistic of what direction they were heading in. Picking up where Jackson left off, Kerr made the Warriors the title contenders they are now. While we are aware of the Splash Brothers that consists of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the coming out party belongs to Draymond Green as the swing man has became the heart and soul of their team. Green has became a Bay Area favorite for the fans to embrace and love.

In order for Golden State to keep having success throughout the playoffs, the depth of their roster will be the X-factor in this series. With the head injury of Klay Thompson and the possibility of himself and Curry having bad shooting performances, the likes of Harrison Barnes, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala is key.

With contrasting playing styles, it will be interesting to see what coaching adjustments will be made for both David Blatt and Steve Kerr. We are in for an eventful NBA Finals that could be one to remember.

Western Conference Power Rankings

 

How Many Golden State Warriors Deserve a Spot on the West NBA All-Star Team?

Tony Gutierrez- Associated Press

   We enter the final stretch of the NBA regular season as teams begin to jock for playoff positioning. With the trade deadline behind us, teams have bolster their rosters for a championship run while others decided to stand pact and put their trust into what has gotten them thus far. Here’s a look at the top five teams of power rankings beginning with the Western Conference.

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1. Golden State Warriors

     As the Western Conference has become the king of the hill, the Golden State Warriors are at the top looking down at those coming got their position. The depth of Golden State’s bench will continue to play a role with the foot issues of Stephen Curry going forward into the postseason.

 

Layne Murdoch- Getty Images

2.  Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder are a force to be reckoned with behind the leadership and play of All-Star MVP Russell Westbrook while Kevin Durant continues to battle foot injuries. In his last 10 games, he has averaged a staggering 29.5 points, 8 rebounds, 10.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game, putting him in the MVP conversation amongst the elite. OKC has also improve the team by acquiring players Enes Kanter and DJ Augustin that has made them a contender to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.

 

Spruce Derden

3. Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies have picked up where they left off before the All-Star break going 6-2 in the month of February thus far. Defeating Portland Trailblazers and Los Angeles Clippers on back to back nights on the road should put the Western Conference on notice that they are forming into midseason form. The addition of Jeff Green adds to the bigs of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph and point guard Mike Conley, who may be the most underrated player in the league, makes the Grizzlies a tough out come playoffs.

 

The Case for DeAndre Jordan as the NBA's Most Underappreciated Player

Nathaniel S. Butler- Getty Images

4. Los Angeles Clippers

Despite the elbow injury to Blake Griffin, the Los Angeles Clippers have not lost a step going 4-2 without him behind the point guard play of Chris Paul and the unsung hero of DeAndre Jordan. Since Griffin being sidelined, Jordan has continued to be a defensive presence and a focal point on offense averaging 16.6 points, 17.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. However, the Clippers have a void to fill  that will make them a championship caliber team.

 

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5. Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets continue to be amongst the elite teams in the West without the assistance of Dwight Howard, giving MVP candidate James Harden more responsibility to consume for them to succeed. While Harden is more than capable of leaving a team into the postseason, the one man band will not go far into the playoffs without the veteran leadership & role players contributing at a high level.

Top Tier NBA Point Guards

 

B/R NBA 200: Top Point Guards in 2013-14

USA Today Sports

 

While we watch the NBA continues to evolve its game play and style across the league, the most depended position over recent years has been the point guard position. Being required to carry a heavy work load, the success of a franchise rest on the floor general on the court. With the talent depth around the league of the position, we look at the cream of the crop that is the top 10 point guards.

 

Andrew D. Bernstein

Andrew D. Bernstein

 

10. Kyle Lowry

The emergence of veteran point guard Kyle Lowry has been a major factor for the recipe to the Toronto Raptors success and there ongoing improvement. Averaging career highs in points, rebounds, and assists, many believed that Lowry was an all-star snub the previous season. Leading by example, he would help lead the Raptors to an Atlantic Division champions. With the dynamic backcourt duo of himself and DeMar Derozan, the sky is the limit this season of more to come.

 

Sam Forencich/Getty Images

Sam Forencich/Getty Images

 

9. Derrick Rose

The absence off the court of Derrick Rose has many optimistic of the return to the 2014-15 NBA season. Having damage to both knees creates minor doubt of what can be a slim window for Rose to have the longevity to play later in his career. Using FIBA World Championships to get his legs under him, the former MVP has looked up to part over the course of the NBA preseason. Adding Pau Gasol to the Chicago Bulls supporting cast will elevate there chances to a NBA Finals birth with the play of Derrick Rose we are accustom to seeing.

 

Ned Dishman-Getty Images

Ned Dishman-Getty Images

 

8. John Wall

The anticipation of John Wall to raise his game to the next level has began. Coming off an injury riddle season in 2012-13, he has made his way into the elite point guard after last season coming off an all-star season playing all 82 games as he led the Washington Wizards to the postseason. Making it to the 2nd round of the Eastern Conference, his playoff performance was sub par to what he is capable of doing. Wall will be asked to do more with the injury to the emerging shooting guard Bradley Beal with a wrist injury out for six weeks.

 

Matt York

Matt York

 

7. Goran Dragic

The Phoenix Suns left many appalled after going 48-34 under first season head coach Jeff Hornacek as they were led by 28 year old point guard Goran Dragic. The Slovenian star in the making became one of three NBA players since 1993 to average 20 ppg shooting 50% from the field and 40% from the 3 point field including the names of Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Dirk Nowitzki. The breakout season would lead to being awarded the NBA Most Improved Player of 2013-14. The tough part for Dragic will be to duplicate the results of last season. However, with the addition of Isaiah Thomas and the return of Eric Bledsoe will increase the chances of the Suns for a playoff birth in the Western Conference.

 

Danny Moloshok

Danny Moloshok

 

6. Chris Paul

      While many view Chris Paul as the best point guard in the league, the reign stops here. Leading the league in his third straight season in assists and steals per game, Paul continues to get a postseason pass for early exits in the playoffs. The jury is out on him following his debacle in game 5 against the Oklahoma City Thunder where he made costly decisions that would lead to a Thunder victory. It is difficult to consider Paul the best where he is potentially not the best player on his team anymore.

 

David Liam Kyle-Getty Images

David Liam Kyle-Getty Images

 

5. Kyrie Irving

The emergence of Kyrie Irving has caught the attention of the NBA this upcoming season. Coming off what was a below average season for Irving’s standards, he managed to excite the basketball world winning the NBA All-Star MVP and was able to show off his top tier skills during the the FIBA World Championships which would lead to the 2014 FIBA World MVP. Returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers with a new and improved team featuring superstars LeBron James and Kevin Love, higher expectations are help upon Uncle Drew to become a complete player to championship aspirations.

 

Danny Moloshok

Danny Moloshok

 

4. Russell Westbrook

     All eyes will be on Russell Westbrook during the first half of the season without running mate and current reigning MVP Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City. If anybody was to embrace this situation, it is him. Known for his questionable shot selection that can take you out of a game, Westbrook can surely keep you in a game with his athleticism that is second to none against many at his position while providing the intangibles to want to win. Still an ongoing learning process at point guard, he will have to cut down on costly turnovers that have an impact on the game.

 

Danny Moloshok

Danny Moloshok

 

3. Damian Lillard

The Portland Trail Blazers are slowly evolving into a team to be dangerous in the Western Conference with the former Weber State point guard Damian Lillard. The third year veteran has been nothing less than spectacular in his first two seasons following clutch performances throughout the season including his remarkable performance in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs that eliminated the Houston Rockets in game 6. Being cut from the USA National basketball team has added fuel to the fire for Lillard and his off-season training. Dame’s got next and he is coming for the number one spot.

 

USA Today Sports

USA Today Sports

 

2. Stephen Curry

      The baby face assassin has arrived on the scene as a premier point guard after the breakout season, making his first all-star appearance in 2014. Expanding the talents beyond his shooting ability, Steph Curry has elevated his game to the next level with career highs in points and assists per game that would lead the Golden State Warriors to its best franchise record at 51-31. Expect a career year and what can be a MVP type season for Curry in 2014-15.

 

Mike Ehrmann-Getty Images

Mike Ehrmann-Getty Images

 

1. Tony Parker

     Today in the NBA, Tony Parker may be the most under appreciated point guard on this list and across the league. Not flashy nor the most exciting point guard, yet he gets the most consistent and raises the level of his game in the postseason. Bigger picture, he is what young points guards want to be, a champion. While many chase to be where Parker is and that is on top.

 

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/ USA Today Sports

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/ USA Today Sports

 

     The pinnacle of the Los Angeles Clippers success has never been higher this season before this year. Led by Blake Griffin & Chris Paul on the court and the coaching ability of Doc Rivers, the x-factor for the Clippers has been the substantial growth and improvement of center DeAndre Jordan who has become the anchor on the defensive side of the ball.

 

After signing a four year $43 million dollar contract in 2011 with the Golden State Warriors as a restricted free agent, the Clippers front office decided to match the offer sheet that would keep him in Los Angeles.

 

     While providing many highlights for the fans of lob city, many were beginning to become disgruntled for the lack of productivity being put on display. The team would continue to improve with the talents of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and the previous head coach Vinny Del Negro, who was considered the Achilles heel of the Clippers. Many felt Del Negro was infringing on the Clippers ability to compete at the next level for a NBA title.

 

Steve Mitchell/ USA Today Sports

Steve Mitchell/ USA Today Sports

 

     Acquiring head coach Doc Rivers, Jordan’s game has taken flight as he is now having his best season in his six year career. Under the tutelage of Rivers and his coaching staff, DeAndre Jordan has become a dominant force on the floor. Posting career high numbers with 10.4 points per game, league leading 13.6 rebounds per game, and 2.5 blocks per game, Jordan has put the NBA on notice becoming a contending candidate for Most Improve Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards. Rivers has also instilled the confidence in him to play him in the 4th quarter, something that Jordan was not accustomed to doing in the previous seasons under Del Negro.

 

After the recent controversy of the disturbing comments of Clippers owner Donald Sterling, Jordan would go on to become the spark to ignite his team after a lost in Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors with a 25 points, 18 rebounds, and four blocks that led to a victory, giving them a 3-2 series lead.

 

As the Los Angeles Clippers continue their quest for their first NBA title, they will go as far as Jordan can take them as the leader of the defense and creating second chance opportunities and finishing above the rim better than most.

 

Western Conference Playoffs Preview

 

Chris Humphreys-USA Today Sports

Chris Humphreys-USA Today Sports

   As the NBA playoffs approaches us, the Western Conference presents a NCAA Tournament feel this year with various teams looking to represent the conference in the NBA Finals. Teams begin to shape into form, peak at the right moment, and get ready to turn their aspirations into tangible success. On the flip side, others begin to fall apart rather due to lack of execution, immature mistakes on mundane routines, or injuries towards the finish line of the 82 game season. The marathon is over, but the race has barely started.

Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

 

 

     The Western Conference has become the ‘survival of the fittest’ conference with teams battling for playoff positions throughout the season. The San Antonio Spurs have been playing its best basketball this season. When they are healthy, they are led by explosive forward in Kawhi Leonard who is slowly evolving into one of the league’s best two-way players.  While San Antonio pursues another championship title, health and consistency will be needed to avoid last years debacle to the Miami Heat.

While been the hottest team since the All-Star break, the consensus picks have been the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers.

    Emerging as favorites to represent its conference in the NBA Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder are led by the Most Valuable Player front runner in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They look to continue their mission to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to capture its first franchise NBA Championship that would silence their critics and end discussions of the two superstars not being able to coincide with one another. The key to accomplishing their goals will be the supporting cast featuring Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson along with the veteran savvy of Derek Fisher and recently acquired Caron Butler while getting stops at the defensive end.

 

 

Getty Images

Getty Images

   The Clippers have made strides to improve their roster in order to reach the NBA Finals led by head coach Doc Rivers. The teaching and coaching methods of Rivers has expanded players games such as DeAndre Jordan as he has became a candidate for Most Improved Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards. Also, Blake Griffin who has arguably been the Clippers best player due to the shoulder injury suffered in January by Chris Paul.

However, as many basketball fans know, the postseason comes down to matchups that could ultimately play into the hands of a lower seed teams.

Derick Hingle- USA Today Sports

Derick Hingle- USA Today Sports

 

 

For teams such as the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies, a deep run can be made in the postseason. Following the previous success found in last season’s playoffs will not be a surprise given the experience both teams possess. We await the debut of the Portland Trail Blazers who will face the Houston Rockets where we get the tandems of Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge against the talents of James Harden and Dwight Howard. The key factors in this series will be the supporting cast of Portland that features Robin Lopez, Nicholas Batum, and Wesley Matthews against Houston’s role players that consists of Patrick Beverley, Chandler Parsons, and Terrence Jones will have to produce.

 

     As the cream of the crop rises into place in, the standings has set the playoff tree into an upset bracket for higher seed teams. The last man standing in the battle royale of the Western Conference may be the team hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of it all in June.

Deserved All-Star Reserves

 

While NBA fans have their vote to be accounted for, All-Star selections continue to become to lose its significance while turning into a popularity contest. It has benefitted many players such as Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Indiana Pacers forward Paul George among first time starters in the All-Star game. Yet, it becomes a difficult process when there are players going unnoticed due to the marquee players in the league. Here are those player who deserve an invite to New Orleans to be an All-Star.

Western Conference

LaMarcus Aldridge- Portland Trail Blazers

     Make no mistake that forward LaMarcus Aldridge is having a  MVP season thus far.  Portland’s early season success has been led by Aldridge who is averaging a career high in points and rebounds as they have matched their win total from the previous season. Aldridge has certainly been the catapult for that success as he looks like he is in the prime of his career.

 

Chris Paul- Los Angeles Clippers

Before the shoulder injury to Chris Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers were clicking on all cylinders. While average double digit numbers in points and assists, Paul has arguably been the best point guard in the association as he is responsible for his teams 42 points per game. Due to the injury, his goal is to return in time for the game.

 

David Lee- Golden State Warriors

David Lee has played himself into the All-Star conversation and deserves a second consecutive selection to New Orleans. While Curry has stepped into the leadership role, Lee’s productivity has not regressed from last season as he becomes a reliable second option for Curry and the Warriors to go to.

 

Damian Lillard- Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers are one of few NBA teams who deserve multiple All-Star bids for the exceptional play of Damian Lillard. Picking up where he has left off last season, Lillard has continued to play with poise and leadership from the second year player. Hitting back to back game-winning shots on the road, he has shown us why four years of college basketball can groom a player before making the leap into the NBA.

 

 

DeMarcus Cousins- Sacramento Kings

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins deserves an All-Star spot for what he has done on the court for Sacramento. With dramatic growth in his maturity, Cousins may be the best offensive center in the game today with career high averages in points, rebounds, and steals. The Kings are not having large amounts of success in wins, but they continue to improve this season starting with the man in the middle with an opportunity to join the USA Men’s Basketball roster.

 

 

James Harden- Houston Rockets

James Harden is the best shooting guard on the offensive side of the ball in the Western Conference. Leading his team in scoring at 23.7 ppg, Harden is still growing as his game evolves to a higher level. However, the Houston Rockets will need him to lead the way in order to take off and make a championship run.

 

Dwight Howard- Houston Rockets

After a nightmare season in Los Angeles as a Laker, Howard hasn’t had the ideal season that would silence his critics. Only averaging 18 points per game from 17 the previous season, he has not lived up to expectations as the next great Rockets big man. However, Howard’s ability on the defensive end makes him an All-Star in the Western Conference. There aren’t many prolific centers in today’s NBA which is a positive for him to flourish as an All-Star.

 

Eastern Conference

Demar Derozan- Toronto Raptors

     Since the Rudy Gay trade, the Toronto Raptors have found success led by the play of the dynamic swingman Demar Derozan. Evolving into a premier shooting guard in this league, he is having an all-star caliber season averaging career high numbers in points, rebounds, and assists as the Raptors sit atop of the Atlantic Division while maintaining a steady mindset geared towards the postseason.

 

Joakim Noah- Chicago Bulls

Joakim Noah is the heart and soul of the Chicago Bulls as they thrive through the adversity of injuries and trades for another season. His intangibles have became a healthy virus to his teammates that is preached by head coach Tom Thibodeau. Noah is the least flashy player on this list, but he plays with 110% effort every night and plays for more than the name on his back. Noah might not be the most talented in New Orleans if he gets the nod, but he certainly will be the most passionate, energized, and the hardest worker.

 

 

John Wall- Washington Wizards

If the season would end today, the Washington Wizards would clinch a playoff berth led by the terrific play of John Wall. After signing a $80 million dollar extension, Wall has been spectacular displaying his talents to the world. While averaging a career high 20 ppg, Wall is confident he will lead the Wizards into the postseason. We should see some dazzling highlights in the All-Star game if he is named as a reserve.

 

Chris Bosh- Miami Heat

Due to the problematic knees of Dwyane Wade, various NBA fans have a found new respect and appreciation for what Chris Bosh does for the Miami Heat. Some nights, he is being asked to defend the opponents best low post player while carrying a heavy set of the offensive load. Numbers do not tell the story of how much Bosh means to this Miami team as he will be counted on. The playoffs should definitely be indicative of Bosh’s worth and/or future in Miami.

 

 

Lance Stephenson- Indiana Pacers

Indiana’s early success during the regular season has been somewhat predicated on the play of Lance Stephenson. As he leads the league with three triple doubles, Stephenson is having fun where there are nights when he is the Pacers best player with playmaking abilities that catches the crowds attention.

 

Roy Hibbert- Indiana Pacers

Roy Hibbert is the NBA’s best defensive post player in the association. Being the backbone and last line of his team’s defense, he is a natural NBA center with old school post moves in the paint that we don’t see today. He may not necessarily be box office or must see TV, but Indiana deserves multiple All-Stars.

 

 

Kyle Lowry- Toronto Raptors

In a contract year, while being the topic of discussion in trade rumors, the play of Kyle Lowry has warranted himself an all-star bid to New Orleans this season. Becoming a jack of all trades in Toronto, Lowry is averaging a career high in points and assists as he pairs well with Derozan to lead the Raptors on a mission of being division champions and ultimately earning himself a lucrative contract in the near future.

Best of the West: Pacific Division

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     With the first quarter of the season over, it has been an interesting start to the year. The Western Conference has been the cream of the crop for being a competitive conference over the past few years as teams improve every year. However, the Pacific Division is one to keep an eye on this season. Player transactions and acquisitions along with head coaches landing jobs with new teams has changed the landscape of what this division had in store for us this season.

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Los Angeles Lakers

All eyes will be on Kobe Bryant during the 2013-14 campaign as the aging veteran overcomes the hurdle of the dreaded Achilles injury. While many write the Lakers off, as many believe they are looking forward to the off season where we will see a re-innovated roster. Despite this LA franchise being voted to finish in 12th place by ESPN, you can not count Los Angeles out just yet. With expectations deflating from last season, expect the Lakers to make a run for a playoff spot with various contributions on the offensive end due to the success of the Mike D’Antoni system. Lakers must continue to develop team chemistry and stay healthy in order to overcome the odds and early season adversity.

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Golden State Warriors

It has been a roller coaster start of a season for Golden State Warriors, located in the bay area, as they are off to a slow start. While winning 4 of their last 11 games, Golden State is relying on its reinforcements to bounce back from injuries such as Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, and Jermaine O’Neal. The starting five with the feature of the “Splash Bros.”, in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, will have to carry the load of the team. The supporting cast on the bench will be asked to do more as well.

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Sacramento Kings

Under new ownership, there is a new pulse in Sacramento as they look to improve. The debut of head coach Michael Malone will be one to keep an eye on as he will continue to develop the team with scoring threats DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas leading the way. Cousins is having his best season, averaging a career high in points, 22.6 points per game. However, in the association thus far his lack of maturity has been the main concern. The Kings have assembled pieces around Cousins including 7th overall pick Ben McLemore and newly acquired star player Rudy Gay and former 2nd overall pick Derrick Williams. Sacramento has plenty of athleticism on the offensive side of the court that teams have to match every night. The key for them will be to improve on the defensive side of the ball and find an identity going forward.

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Los Angeles Clippers

     It was a busy off season for the Los Angeles Clippers as they were able to keep Chris Paul in Lob City and acquire former Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. With the additions of JJ Redick, Jared Dudley, and Darren Collison, many claim the Clippers not only as division champions, but also predicting them to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. Yet, the script has not went according to plan. The Clippers defensive woes continue to show primarily in the frontcourt between Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. With injuries to Redick and Matt Barnes, Los Angeles will look to the new signing of free agent Stephen Jackson to pay dividends as he is expected to bring perimeter shooting and toughness that is well needed if the Clippers want to succeed.

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Phoenix Suns

It is safe to say that nobody could foresee the early success of the Phoenix Suns coming this season. Led by first year head coach Jeff Hornacek, the rambunctious Suns are becoming a fun team to watch featuring a dynamic backcourt duo of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. Also, they have terrific twins in Marcus & Markieff Morris. Will Phoenix overcome the odds and make the postseason? No. However, they can play the role of bracket busters as the season starts to end.

What is easily forgotten over the course of the year is that the 82 game is not a race, better yet a marathon. Teams begin to peak in the latter half of the year when players and coaches begin to work cohesively, rather than individually. Nothing is predictable in the NBA as you have to put injuries and transactions into consideration. The shootout for the Pacific Division in the wild wild west has just began.