Tag Archives: NBA

Miami Heat: The Road to 3-Peat

 

Miami Heat

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The two-time defending champions Miami Heat are on a mission, pursuing their third straight championship in the last four years. With the series sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, the Heat seem to flip the switch into playoff mode that leads to Miami elevating their performance in the postseason. On the road to making history, who are the teams that can dethrone King James and the Heat?

 

 

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Brooklyn Nets

 

During the regular season, the Brooklyn Nets became the first team to sweep the season series of the Miami Heat during the big 3 era in LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade. Adding fuel to the fire, the former Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will be sure to bring their A game, continuing the rival formed in Boston. With three of the four encounters being decided by 1 point, the Nets present the Heat with match-up problems with the ability to go small or big along with showing James various defenders with length and athleticism. Given the offensive weapons of Brooklyn, they pose what can be a difficult task for Miami to defend. The key factor for Nets to shock the world and upset the defending champions will depend of how well Deron Williams. The all-star point guard has been under scrutiny for the lack of performance during the first round. When playing at his best ability, Williams is a top premier point guard in the league.

 

 

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Washington Wizards

 

You can make the argument that the hottest team in the Eastern Conference playoffs has been the Washington Wizards. With the 1-0 series against top seed Indiana Pacers, Washington poses as a threat to the Heat with their speed and size in the starting lineup that may cause friction to Miami’s defense that could force them to make changes to their rotation beginning with the backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal and the front court of Nene and Marcin Gortat. What is the future could be what is now in the nation’s capital.

 

 

3 San Antonio Spurs Weaknesses to Exploit in the NBA Playoffs

USA Today Sports

 

 

San Antonio Spurs

 

If surviving the gauntlet of the Western Conference playoffs bracket, nothing would make the San Antonio Spurs more delighted than defeating the team who shattered their championship aspirations last season. Possessing the secret weapon that is the Coach of the Year in Greg Popovich, he is able to present LeBron James different defensive match-ups and schemes with Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw who have made it difficult for James on the offense while. On offense for San Antonio, they can adjust to Miami’s rotation while spreading the floor to create driving lanes and open three point shot.

 

Knowing that nothing lasts forever, the Miami Heat’s reign as the dominant team must come to an end. However, will they be able to accomplish the 3-peat, solidifying their mark on NBA History as a dynasty?

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Top 5 First Round NBA Playoff Moments

     Were you not entertained? Thus far, we have played a total of 50 games in the opening round of the 2013-14 NBA Playoffs, including five Game 7’s involving both no. 1 vs no 8 seeds in both respective conferences. Before we advance to the next round of postseason basketball, we take a look at the top five moments of the NBA first round.

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Getty Images

5. LaMarcus Aldridge’s career performances

     Coming into the postseason, the consensus pick to win the 4-5 seed match-up would be the Houston Rockets. Yet, LaMarcus Aldridge would dominate games 1 and 2 on the road. In his home state of Texas in front of his family, Aldridge would put on a large sized performance with 46 points, 18 rebounds and 2 blocks in game 1 with an encore showing of 43 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks that led to the Portland Trail Blazers 2-0 series lead. Eliminating the Houston Rockets in six games, Portland will have its hands full with the San Antoni Spurs in the second round.

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4. Vince Carter Game Winning Shot

     The Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs rivalry has been in favor of the Spurs over the last decade.Entering game 3 with the series tied 1-1, Dallas would have the momentum going forward in game 3. As the game would come down to the final possession, the Mavs would turn to an unlikely source for the game winner in Vince Carter. Showing us why he is still ‘half man, half amazing”.

 

 

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3. Game 7 Weekend

 

Never in NBA history have we experienced a first round of five ‘win or go home’ match-ups being a game 7. With a NCAA tournament feeling to it, the weekend would bring excitement and uncertainty to each game with majority of games coming down to the last minute. What took place in the first round is something we are not accustomed to watching the level of competition balance out for an entire series.

 

 

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2. Adam Silver gives Donald Sterling lifetime ban

 

The controversy of the recent remarks of suspended Clippers owner Donald Sterling was not only a black eye of the NBA image, but also became a detriment to the spectacular play of the first round of the playoffs. New NBA commissioner Adam Silver was approached with a serious topic at hand, expressing his power in the conclusion of his decision. The choice of Silver was the first step into the right direction of eliminating racism in the association.

 

 

 

Greg Wahl-Stephens/AP

Greg Wahl-Stephens/AP

 

 

1. Damian Lillard Game Winning Clincher

Every game would go to into the last minutes before determining a winner between Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets. Fighting for their playoff lives, Chandler Parsons would get an offensive rebound to go ahead lead, putting Houston in position to tie the series 3-3 before returning to Houston for a pivotal game 7. However, Lillard had other plans. With ice water in his veins, Lillard continues to show his clutch ability for his teammates while leadership in his sophomore season is on display, now solidifying himself as one of the top tier point guards in the NBA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Ode to Los Angeles Lakers

 

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 

Finally there is an end to what has been a nightmare saga for the Los Angeles Lakers. To the dismay of many fans, this season has abruptly come to an end after the worst finish in franchise history. Whether the it was the normal attrition rate due to injuries, subpar coaching, or lackluster talent on the court, this season resulted in mediocre productivity as the Lakers front office management is left searching for the solution to rebound next season.

 

Finishing 27-55, 14th in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers will own at least a top 9 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft where they would have options to select from, including freshmen phenoms Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins. Player personnel obligations will be a main priority to attend to. With Kobe Bryant and Robert Sacre guaranteed to return to the roster next season, the contract of Steve Nash should be in consideration of termination. The 40 year old point guard has $9.7 million dollars on the current contract for the 2014-15 season; however, he has only played 65 games total in the last two seasons for Los Angeles.

With Pau Gasol becoming a free agent and Nick Young likely to opt out of his current contract for a lucrative deal, the summer of free agency will be intriguing to follow as the Lakers will look to improve their roster while looking forward to the following offseason in 2016.

 

The coaching decision to obtain or fire head coach Mike D’Antoni will be a tedious process for Los Angeles as well. The hiring made of D’Antoni over former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson made many fans furious of the decision made by Jim Buss. It has not paid dividends for Los Angeles with the coaching record being 62-87, which is below average to the Lakers championship standard that we are accustomed to seeing. Many of the Lakers players have been critical of D’Antoni including Kobe Bryant. Some of them have admitted that they might not return if he is still the head coach. While the roster has became a revolving door of various lineups due to injuries, a key component to the Lakers woes could be the frenetic offensive pace D’Antoni has taught throughout his career. Giving up 120+ points to opponents in 16 games, his pace has led to career nights for various players.

 

The front office of Lakers management have many questions to answer going into the offseason swirling around the historic franchise. With uncertainty of who might end up running the organization in Jim and Jeanie Buss, the debacle of this season will not be acceptable next season to the fans and to themselves. It is time for the soap opera in tinsel town to come to an end and write a new chapter in order to regain the title. The Los Angeles Clippers have risen during these dark times for the Lakers.

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.

The time has come in March where the pressure of the words ‘win or go home’ rises to immense pressure. While this postseason’s bracket proposes upsets in multiple regions, the time has come for the premier players to elevate their talents as the cream of the crop. Before you decide to fill out your billion dollar bracket, let’s review the tournament before tip-off.

South Region

As the south region features the talents of Andrew Wiggins and Kyle Anderson, many believe it is the Florida Gators title to lose. Riding a 30 game winning streak, head coach Billy Donovan will have his senior led team prepared for his opponents best shot. However, many will be anticipating to see how Kansas Jayhawks freshman Andrew Wiggins performs on the biggest stage of his basketball career thus far. Jayhawks nation as well as  Bill Self hopes Wiggins can carry the load as the health status of Joel Embiid becomes unknown.

While we seek for upset alerts in the tournament, be aware of the No. 5 seed vs No. 12 seed matchup between the Virginia Commonwealth Rams and the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks who are currently on a 28 game winning streak. Also, an intriguing game to see is the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Dayton Flyers. The inconsistent scoring of the Buckeyes may cause them to have a first round exit.

Midwest Region

The Wichita State Shockers reserve the right to be angry after the release of the Midwest region bracket. As a consolation prize for going undefeated through the regular season and conference tournament, the Shockers have drawn the likes of the Michigan Wolverines, Duke Blue Devils and defending champions Louisville Cardinals with the potential of drawing a second round matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats.

The spotlight of individual talent will be on display throughout the region headlined by Duke’s freshman phenom Jabari Parker who recently became the latest recipient of the Wayman Tisdale award that is given to the nation’s top freshman. The region also consists of talented players such as Russ Smith, Nik Stauskas, Julius Randle, Jahii Carson, Marcus Foster, and T.J. Warren.

West Region

With the No.1 seed being awarded to the battered Arizona Wildcats, they also may be the first 1 seed to be eliminated with the possibility of playing Marcus Smart and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The bottom of the West region bracket contains talented teams that can advance far featuring the Wisconsin Badgers, Baylor Bears, and Creighton Bluejays led by senior and National Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott. All eyes will shift on him as he is playing in a his final tournament.

 

Without a clear favorite, the opportunity to represent the west region in the NCAA Final Four becomes more interesting to watch. A dark horse team to watch is the underachieving No. 10 seed Oregon Ducks and No. 6 seed Baylor Bears led by the frontcourt of Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin.

East Region

Winning its regular season conference and tournament, the Virginia Cavaliers have earned its right as a 1 seed in the tournament. The ACC Champions would like to continues its success going into the tournament behind the coaching of Tony Bennett and the leadership of Joe Harris. However, the heavy favorites have became Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans as they would showcase their full strength becoming the Big Ten Conference Tournament Champions.

The Iowa State Cyclones have a great chance of becoming the last man standing of its region led by the talents of DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim. We can not ignore the other teams representing the East Region with the likes of the No.2 seed Villanova Wildcats, No. 6 seed North Carolina Tar Heels, and a potential Cinderella team in No. 11 seed Providence Friars led by point guard Bryce Cotton.

The month of March brings us enjoyment because our favorite players shine on the brightest stage of their careers and our favorite teams aspirations of becoming national champions. This also may be our last time watching some of our favorite gamer changers and future NBA players perform at the amateur level. Welcome to the tip off as the madness of March begins.

61 vs. 81

 

On Monday, we all witnessed the latest chapter of achievements in LeBron James illustrious career as he eclipsed the 60 point plateau. The career high total of 61 points also became the franchise single game scoring record in Miami Heat history. While scoring 25 points to match the total points the Charlotte Bobcats scored in the third quarter, James would finish the game shooting a staggering 22-33 from the field. The question many have been left with is: Where does this game rank in comparison to Kobe Bryant’s 81 point game?

 

 

The 81 point game versus the Toronto Raptors by Kobe Bryant may be the best single game performance we have ever seen. With a more than lackluster roster that featured Smush Parker and Kwame Brown, Bryant was forced to carry a heavy load throughout the season. This game was no different for The Black Mamba. Shooting over 50% from the field, his shot selection was high demanding, yet never in question as Phil Jackson and Kobe’s teammates were desperate for a win. The Raptors put forth a valiant effort as they threw multiple schemes at him, but to no avail.

 

 

The historic night of LeBron James comes during the final stretch of the 2013-14 regular season where he looks to win his 5th Most Valuable Player Award. Overshadowing the performance of Al Jefferson who finished with 38 points and 19 rebounds, King James played with a killer instinct that we have never seen. It was almost as if he was trying to make us remember why he is the best basketball player in the world as supposed to playing second fiddle to Kevin Durant. Shooting 66% from the field was incredible in itself, aggressively attacking Charlotte’s defense at will. In spite of that, James would go on a shooting clinic that we have never seen in his career as he shot 8-10 from the 3 point line, making his first eight attempts.

 

 

However, how significant is this performance?

 

It is hard to give such enormous credit to James for his performance of 61 points with New York Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony scoring 62 points against the same defensively challenged Bobcats team. The puzzling performance from James is remarkable, however does not compare to the all time great scoring performances the NBA has seen.

 

There are many games left to play in his career, we can not make the final decision until it is all set and done. However, this particular performance in comparison to the 81 point game of Kobe Bryant does not measure to another.