NBA Finals: Heat vs. Thunder

As heartbroken as I am to write this after C’s loss it must be done. But I will say, the Celtics fought hard and I truly hope last night wasn’t the last time us C’s fans see the original “Big 3” play together. I guess that is neither here nor there so let’s move on to what may be one of the best finals match ups in years. Finally, we have the two best players in the world going head to head in a battle to be the World Champions. You may say, “Well every year the best players match up”, wrong! If you look at the past few years in the NBA Finals, usually one of the best players makes it, sometimes neither of them. Last year it was LeBron and Dirk. Dirk was not one of the top two players in the league last year, he dominated the playoffs, but was certainly not top 2. The year before we had Kobe against the Celtics. No one on the Celtics was a top 2 player. And even the year before that, it was the same matchup. This year we get to see THE 2 best players in the world go neck and neck for the final prize.

Kevin Durant vs. LeBron james, arguably one of the best head to head match ups we have seen in a long time. Both teams come out of their respective leagues as the champs, and have been the favorites since the beginning of the season. The Thunder rolled through the West with relative ease. Sweeping the defending champion Mavericks in 4 games, beating Kobe and co. in 5 games, and won the Western Conference in 6 games, coming back from 2 down to take the series. The Heat have had a little tougher road getting through the East. In the first round the beat the utterly pitiful NY Knicks in 5 games (how that wasn’t a sweep is beyond me), they beat Larry Bird’s Pacers in 6 games, and finally beat the C’s in 7. The Thunder haven’t really been scared throughout these playoffs, whereas the Heat had a little scare put into them by the Celtics, having to go into the Garden in Game 6.

OKC has the ability to become a dynasty for years to come. They have all the pieces to help them dominate the NBA for quite a few years. When your best players, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, are only 23 years old, the future looks extremely bright. Arguably the MVP of the playoffs, Kevin Durant, has been spectacular. Durantula has averaged 28 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists throughout the playoffs, but don’t think he has been doing it by himself. The Thunder’s biggest threat is their depth. They have a loaded bench highlighted by 6th man of the Year, James Harden. It also helps when you have one of the best PG’s in the league as well in Westbrook. At 22 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds a game, Westbrook is always a threat to do anything on the court. He has scary athleticism when he drives to the bucket and can dunk on anyone. The most important players on the Thunder are neither of those two though, they are Serge Ibaka and James Harden. Harden, who comes off the bench, would start on any other team in the NBA, but because of the lineup the Thunder he has to be the 6th man. He comes in and is an immediate spark. Harden is a matchup problem for most role/bench players that he is usually matched up against. One thing about Harden is that he always goes left. It doesn’t matter if everyone is in his way going left, he is shooting a left handed layup. It’s almost like Rondo never using his left, it’s that constant not using the other hand. Harden helps Durant and Westbrook by spreading out the floor. He has a solid 3-point shot, shooting 45% in the postseason. Ibaka is a whole ‘nother story. Ibaka is going to cause some problems for the Heat because as we all know the Heat can’t shoot the outside shot very well. They rely heavily on attacking the rim and finishing above the rim. Ibaka will make that a tough task, he averages 4 blocks a game and countless changed shots. He will be able to disrupt D-Wade’s drives as well as LeBron’s. Which is something that the Thunder will need to do consistently to help them gain an advantage.

Is it finally time for LBJ to get a ring? Will he finally get that monkey off of his back? I don’t know but I sure know he is going to come in prepared and won’t let what happened last year happen again. LeBron has come into these playoffs with a vengeance. It is crazy to me that people think that he hasn’t been playing well, what are you on meth? LeBron has been averaging 30 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists per game! Those are absurd numbers, yet people are doubting him. In Game 6 against the Celtics, possibly his biggest/most important playoff game he has ever played in, he was Superman like. He had 45, 15, and 5 and shot 73%. Incredible. I am ready to see a LeBron I haven’t seen yet. One that has a little chip on his shoulder, one that truly wants the ring. He won’t do it alone though. With the likes of Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, LBJ will have help. In Game 7 against the C’s, Bosh was spectacular. Single handily broke the Celtics spirits with his shooting. And Dwayne Wade has been no bum, although he has gotten off to slow starts, Wade has been a force to be reckon with. Countless drives and acrobatic finishes have been in his highlight reel throughout the playoffs. I believe the two biggest keys for the Heat will be two players that are not in the Big 3. Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers. Two outside shooters, who if they are knocking down shots, can kill teams and help lift the Heat. Battier is also one of the best on-ball defenders in the Association, I don’t know if Spoelstra will place him on KD, but Battier will be able to defend James Harden. The Heat matchup well everywhere except for in the paint, hopefully they will be able to make up for that with their on-ball defense.

This series has dramatics written all over it. I envision big shot after big shot, and big play after big play. There are too many stars in this series for it not to happen. The key to the entire series will be the defense of both teams. We all know that both teams can score and score at will. It will be the first team that can buckle down and get stops that will win this series. I love the Thunder in this one and I’d love to see a dynasty in the making. I’m taking the Thunder and LBJ will have to hear it from fans for another year.

  • Thunder in 6
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Who would you take: Kevin Durant or LeBron James?

These 2012 playoffs have been begging NBA fans everywhere to debate this topic, who would you take: KD35 or King James? Both players are currently at the top of the basketball world. But you need to look at what these two players have been able to do this year, it is mind blowing. Every night you know you are going to get some sort of show. Whether it is KD’s scoring ability or the athletic freakiness of LBJ. They both bring different things to the table and both of them have different abilities that they can unleash on anyone at anytime. But, what makes one of them better than the other? Wins? Points? How clutch they may be? (which may take LeBron right out of it) or any other statistical category? I believe it comes down to who you would want on draft day if you were able to start a fantasy franchise.

Picture this: You have just purchased a team that will be located in Boise, Idaho, pretty much the middle of nowhere, where they might not even have basketball courts, but that’s besides the point. You now have control of an NBA franchise in Boise and you have been allowed to take any player you want from any team to become your franchise cornerstone. As you look throughout the entire league you know it boils down to two players, LeBron James or Kevin Durant. As the owner of the Cosmo Kramers (a little Seinfeld reference) you have the ability to take anyone. As LBJ and KD await to see who is picked in the infamous “Green Room”, you sit in your nice comfy chair and take a look at the reasons why you should take either one of these two.

Kevin Durant has been excellent this year. At age 23, he has been able to raise his game to an extremely high level and has not yet reached his potential ceiling. With as young as Durant is, he has all the intangibles that make him a leader. His calm and cool personality make him come off as less competitive, which couldn’t be any farther from the truth. This man is a cold-blooded killer, who can score 10 points on you at any second (Ask the Spurs after he scored 18 straight points in Game 4). What truly makes Durant special are not his numbers on the court but just how much he cares about winning. When your best player cares the most, plays the hardest, works the hardest, pulls for everyone else and doesn’t care about his own numbers, you’re always going to be in good shape. Durant has become the youngest scoring title winner, the next youngest was guess who, Kevin Durant. He has the ability to lead your team in so many ways. He can score, defend, rebound and be unselfish with the ball. I’m not the only one who is saying these things either, the NBA Coach of the Year, Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, volunteered the following about Durant: “He’s arguably the greatest player in the world.” He’s pure on a Larry Bird level, just ridiculous. Durant is. LeBron’s not. Durant has averaged 28 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists a game this year, shooting the peach at a 50% clip.

LeBron James gives you something that not many players can, and that’s an all-around game. LeBron has the abilities to score, rebound, pass and defend the opposing teams best player. He gives coaches the ability to place him anywhere on the floor and give him any assignment. LeBron has done just about everything you can do in an NBA career and he is only 27 years of age. He has won 3 MVP’s, Rookie of the Year, and has been an All-NBA and All-Star selection every year since 2005. Those accolades are not what makes him great though, it is the way he plays the game. Like Jordan, LeBron has the ability to affect the game on both sides of the ball. Defensively, he can guard any position, we have been able to see this in the series he is currently in with the Celtics. He has guarded Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and even Kevin Garnett, and he was successful guarding all three. He rebounds the ball extremely well, using his athleticism and size to go up and grab boards at their highest point. LeBron is a physical marvel when you look at him. He is a human freight train when he drives to the bucket, no one is going to step in front of the Hulk. LeBron has averaged 27.1 points per a game, just a smidgen under Durant’s 28, with 7.9 boards and 6 assists.

Factually speaking, Durant is a better shooter than LeBron, and statistically speaking he’s a better scorer. He’s a similar rebounder. He doesn’t defend or create at LeBron’s level, but Durant is gaining ground in both spots. Given all that, LeBron’s better, right? It’s close, but he’s better. LeBron’s not just the MVP, though he is, but he’s also the guy you’d take if you were asked, “Who would you build a team around, LeBron or Durant?” I just don’t know if it is that easy of an answer. Durant is more clutch than LeBron. Durant’s a closer, a finisher. While the world was waiting for LeBron to inherit from Kobe Bryant the title of Game’s Best Closer, Durant snuck up and took it. The title’s gone. It doesn’t belong to Kobe anymore, and it might never belong to LeBron. Not while Durant’s around, closing out games and getting better at it. Durant also takes the cake when we move to the mind’s of both players. Mentally Durant is more tough and has the ability to stay composed under pressure. James looks like a 6 year old girl who doesn’t know where her doll is at the end of games. And that makes up a huge difference. That can make you a winner or a loser. We have all watched both of these players play and we know what each of them is.

So you give me the pick of the entire league and you want me to start a team from scratch, I know who I’m taking. As I walk my white envelope up to NBA Commissioner David Stern, I know I have made the right choice. Give me Kevin Durant with my first pick. I’d like to have LeBron, sure. I’d like to have the most talented all-around player in the game.

But I’d rather win.

So with the 1st pick in the new NBA Expansion Draft, the Cosmo Kramers select… Kevin Durant, Small Forward from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference Finals

This has been what every Celtics fan has waited for, a chance to beat the Heat. Neither of these teams are going to need a pep talk or any of that, every single player knows how important this series is. For the Celtics, it may be their last real shot at a title. And as for the Heat, it is time for LeBron to prove that he can win a championship and finally live up to what the Heat’s “Big 3” said. God only knows that LeBron needs this more than anyone. D-Wade has won a title and he was able to do it by himself. Don’t give me the, “He had Shaq” ordeal. We all know Shaq was on his way out during his Heat days, so let’s not get out of hand. This series will be a true test on how the Celtics can do without their best on ball defender, Avery Bradley. Bradley would have more than likely guarded Dwayne Wade, who has been on fire after what had been the worst game of his career. Ever since his 5 point, 2-13 shooting performance in Game 2, Wade has been a man amongst boys. He finished the last 3 games of the Pacers series averaging 33 points, 7 boards and 4 assists. Now I can only hope that Head Coach Doc Rivers does not assign Ray Allen to guard Wade, and let me tell you why. Allen has been absolutely brutal on defense ever since his multiple injuries. He looks like he should be using a walker out on the floor, and that won’t be acceptable guarding one of the elite scorers in the Association. The Heat come into this series without lead big-man, Chris Bosh, whichI didn’t believe would a big loss, but ended up being a real large one for the Heat. The Pacers were able to control the boards and the paint without Bosh being there, they just didn’t have the talent to keep up with the Heat.

Injuries have been big for both teams but don’t tell any of the players playing in this series. “I don’t believe none of that. No feet hurting, no (one being) tired, nothing. This is the Boston Celtics. They’re all 100 percent to me. When they play the Miami Heat, it’s a different ball game. And vice versa. No storylines. No excuses”, said Wade after being asked about the many injury issues. Both teams vow to focus on what they have working for them entering the series. But regardless of which team wins and advances to the NBA Finals, it will be one that had to survive significant adversity to get there. This short rest for the Celtics has almost been a blessing in the skies for them. When looking at it, it may seem as a bad thing, but if you look at it from a Celtics players perspective, it could be good. As we all know the Celtics are not a young team, heck they are ancient, let’s not beat around the bush, so rest could be the worst thing for them. As an old team rest may make the players stiff, and force players such as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, to have to re-motivate their body and warm all the way back up. “I kind of like it for us,” Celtics captain Paul Pierce said. “It keeps us in rhythm. It keeps us playing. We’re an older team so we get kind of stiff when we sit around for too long. We like the fact that we’re going to go right into it.” Pierce knows how much energy this series is going to take, the question is, will the Celtics have enough in the tank to play a long series? And I just don’t know the answer to that. Ray Allen looks like he needs a wheelchair on the floor, and Pierce and KG have been logging some serious minutes in these playoffs. Pierce is averaging about 38 minutes a game, 2 more than his career average. KG is averaging just above 37 minutes a game, just a minute above his career average.

Many NBA fans are counting the Celtics out, to which I say, balderdash. The Celtics may not look like a good matchup for the Heat, but in reality the Heat are a better matchup for the Celtics than the Pacers are. The Heat have the dynamic duo, but other than that, it looks like the Celtics have a few advantages. The 2 biggest advantages are PG Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett. Who is going to guard KG? Udonis Haslem? Joel Anthony? I mean no offense to those guys, but the way KG has been playing, he is going to embarrass them. Haslem and Anthony just don’t have the intangibles to guard KG. Defensively, KG is going to be able to park it down low and help out anyone and everyone on dribble drives, we all know offensively, Joel Anthony is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. Another thing that helps the C’s in this series is that this is the kind of series that Rondo actually shows up to. He is one of those players, like one of my favorites, Antoine Walker, who show up “when the lights are on”. This series also should have enough “juice” for Rondo to be at his triple-double best, which is something the Celtics truly need. Paul Pierce may be a little taken out of his game with LeBron guarding him, if Rondo and KG can carry their load of the offense, Pierce will be able to get to his spots and hit is step-back jumper. I’m absolutely not counting the Celtics out that’s for damn sure, I just want them to keep it competitive, and give themselves a chance.

Miami comes in as the odds-on-favorites to take not only this series but the entire thing. The Heat have two of the best players to ever play basketball, the question is, will LeBron finally get his ring and silence the haters? The toughest thing for the C’s in this series, and the Heat’s biggest advantage, is how the Celtics defend James and Wade. So who is going to guard Dwayne Wade and LeBron? The short answer is anyone and everyone. You have to think Doc Rivers finally is going to utilize both Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic in this series. He has to, unfortunately, if for no other reason than to give Wade and James a different look. Don’t forget Mickael Pietrus, either. While he continues to struggle offensively, which he picked it up a bit in Game 7, he can defend. Throwing these guys in to defend LeBron and Wade is like throwing me out there, that may be a little drastic, but in all seriousness, the Celtics may be in some real trouble in this area. Don’t be surprised to see the Celtics go to a zone defense. It has worked before against Miami. Miami has other players who may be able to step up such as, Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller (who looks like he is going to keel over tomorrow), and Shane Battier. If these guys are able to help out the Big 2, the Heat have a great chance to win the series.

No one, and I mean no one, is giving the Celtics a chance in Game 1 on Monday night. Why? Because it’s in Miami and the Celtics played on Saturday and had to travel on Sunday? That’s just ridiculous. Yes, the Celtics probably should have won the Philly series in5 games, but hey, who wants to make things easy I guess, right? Back in 1984, the Lakers were extended to six games in the Western Conference finals before finally eliminating Phoenix on a Friday night. They flew to Boston on Saturday to open the NBA Finals on Sunday afternoon — and beat the rested Celtics 115-109. Few expected the 2010 Celtics to beat the Magic in the conference finals, but with only two days’ rest, they flew to Orlando and beat the well-rested Magic in Game 1. It’s not outside the realm of possibility. And who knows what may happen. Maybe Lady Luck will be on the Celtics side within this week. LeBron could get food poisoning from the local restaurant and Wade could get hit by a car, I mean you never know. There is the great unknown in any series. Someone unexpected could make a difference in a big game. Someone (Insert Celtic Player Here) could find the Fountain of Youth (hey, they’re playing in Florida, which is where Ponce de Leon thought it was located). One minor adjustment could have major consequences.

I am just going to sit back and watch this series like I do every other one. This series is close to call but I’m a Boston guy, how could I go against the hometown team. We are the City of Champions, so what the hell, I’ll take the Celtics.

  • Celtics in 7
Dates/Locations/Times of Games
Game 1
Mon 5/28
8:30 PM ET on ESPN
Game 2
Wed 5/30
8:30 PM ET on ESPN
Game 3
Fri 6/1
8:30 PM ET on ESPN
Game 4
Sun 6/3
8:30 PM ET on ESPN
Game 5
Tue 6/5
8:30 PM ET on ESPN
Game 6
Thu 6/7
8:30 PM ET on ESPN
Game 7
Sat 6/9
8:30 PM ET on ESPN

NBA Playoffs Round 2: Eastern Conference

Time for round 2 of the NBA Playoffs. Round 1 did not disappoint. 4 exciting series, a couple surprises, and two favorites have prevailed. The Chicago Bulls struggled due to injuries to star PG Derrick Rose and big man Joakim Noah and the 76ers took advantage of those injuries aketo t the series in 6 games. The Miami Heat steamrolled through the New York Knicks in 5 games. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade led the Heat to their victories over the valiant effort of Carmelo Anthony. The Boston Celtics fought off a tough Atlanta Hawks team in 6 games. KG, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo all stepped up big throughout the series to help push the Celts forward. Lastly, the Indiana Pacers took down the Orlando Magic in 5 games. Danny Granger was big throughout the series as Dwight Howard began to dwindle, truly showing he wants to get out of Orlando.

I am excited for these Round 2 playoff games. Competitive, physical, and exciting are the only ways to describe these next 7 game series, as the Celtics take on the 76ers, and the Heat take on the Pacers.

Miami Heat (2) vs. Indiana Pacers (3)

This Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers series looks to be as exciting a series as we will see. One great thing we will see from both of these teams is the physicality they both bring to the floor. Both teams have certain strengths and certain weaknesses. The Pacers have the great ability to go to the line which will help them, due to the fact that the Heat are small. The Heat often do not play a true center and their big men are all generally undersized. Bosh, Haslem and Anthony all have the ability to guard other positions and are easier to guard for opposing teams big men. The Pacers may struggle with the Heats superb transition offense. It will be hard to stop the likes of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade when they both get a full head of steam. Athletically, I don’t think the Pacers are going to be able to match up with the Heat and that could be their biggest downfall. But, hopefully the Pacers bigs, Roy Hibbert and Lou Amundson, can control the paint which may keep the Heat from getting out in transition.

As great as this series looks, I just don’t see the Pacers taking this one. The Heat are too strong and athletic for them.

  • Heat in 6

Boston Celtics (4) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (8)

The Celtics had a rough and tough series against the Hawks and the 76ers had it much easier than that. The 76ers caught some big breaks as Bulls star Derrick Rose and their big man Joakim Noah both went down with injuries, and they took full advantage. This series looks to be a rough, grind it out, type of series. These teams are defensive minded teams and we may be begging for a 15 second shot clock by the time this is over. The Celtics and Sixers can be good offensively, but most of the time, they defer to defense and the offense invariably suffers. Paul Pierce will be fighting through an MCL sprain in his right knee, and the Celtics are just fighting against Father Time. The 76ers are a younger, maybe even more athletic team, that could give the C’s some problems. KG will yet again be the X-Factor for the Celtics. As he goes, the Celtics go. The Celtics will have home-court advantage. They will be favored, as befits a No. 4 seed playing a No. 8 seed. But the Celtics have no reason to think this series will be any easier than what they just endured against the Hawks. It is going to be a certifiable meat grinder.  We can start by putting the regular-season results in the circular file. They just don’t matter. There were only three meetings — and all of them were decided by 13 or more points. Philly won one game by 32 and the Celtics’ lone win was by 24. Expect these games to be much, much closer.

  • Celtics in 6

20-Year-Old Age Limit in the NBA: Should it be done?

When Kentucky won John Calipari’s first national championship earlier this year, it spawned a fierce debate in basketball circles about the NBA’s age requirement. Some believe the league should raise it from 19 to 20 years old; others believe it should remain the same; a third faction wants to restore the old rule, which allowed prospects to jump from high school straight to the NBA. And some people are even thinking about adopting the MLB ruling, which allows high schoolers to enter the draft right away OR commit to three years of college before becoming draft-eligible again. Any of these ways could work but I would not hate to see the age limit raised to 20 years old.

There are valid reasons for any of the above courses, but I believe the NBA would best be served by raising its age requirement to 20 years old. Fans, critics, and even NBA players have argued over fairness, education, morals and ethics, but none of those seem to be the biggest issue. I feel the biggest issue is this: Would the NBA benefit more from the raised age limit, or would it suffer? There are many reasons I believe it could help benefit the NBA, and I plan on discussing them here.

One major reason has to be the maturity of players. As we have seen with many players who jumped straight from high school, or came out right after their freshman year, they were not ready mentally. They may have had all of the physical tools and make up, but they were not ready for the everyday grind of the NBA. That level of immaturity naturally leads to growing pains; it’s why so many young players struggle for a season or two as they adjust to the workload, schedule, travel, stress, and media scrutiny, and especially, with seemingly basic off-the-court stuff like managing money, paying bills, and dealing with pressures from their extended family and friends. The league would obviously benefit by its rookies arriving with a little more seasoning, both on and off the court, armed with a little more life experience to prepare them for the oncoming challenge. A more mature workforce means a stronger league. Even one extra year of college would help. Players who have come out after two or three years of school have had visibly less problems when they entered the league. They became used to the everyday grind of college, athletically and academically, and it helped them transition onward.

Another big reason for me has to be player development. Players who are age 19 or less have struggled as players because they have been able to succeed on natural ability. They have never had to truly work on their skills or their game because everything came so easily to them at such a young age. The problem with these players is that every single player in the NBA is like that. The ones who work hard and try to improve their skills are the ones who become superstars in the league. Think about the 1980s, when the best college players usually played at least two or three years before entering the draft. Stars like Michael Jordan (three years in college), Larry Bird (four years), and Magic Johnson (two years) used their college time to hone their leadership skills, improve their games, and deal with real pressure (all three played for national championships). Bird and Magic won eight of the league’s next nine championships after they entered the league in 1979; Jordan won seven scoring titles and three NBA titles in his first nine seasons. All three thrived immediately as rookies.

Larry Bird, 1979-80: 38.0 MPG, 21.3 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 4.5 apg, 47% FG, 20.5 PER, 11.2 win shares, 61 Celtic wins (lost in Eastern Finals).

Magic Johnson, 1979-80: 18 ppg, 36.3 MPG, 7.7 rpg, 7.3 apg, 2.4 spg, 53% FG, 20.6 PER, 10.5 win shares, 60 Laker wins (Finals MVP).

Michael Jordan, 1984-85: 38.3 MPG, 28 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.9 apg, 2.4 spg, 52% FG, 25.8 PER, 14 win shares, 38 Chicago wins (lost in Round 1).

Compare those numbers to the rookie stats/records of four of today’s best players (all of whom arrived straight from high school):

Kevin Garnett, 1995-96: 28.7 MPG, 10.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 49% FG, 15.8 PER, 4.4 win shares, 26 wins (Minnesota missed playoffs).

Kobe Bryant, 1996-97: 15.5 MPG, 7.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, 42% FG, 14.4 PER, 1.8 win shares, 56 wins (Lakers lost in second round, with Kobe famously firing two air balls in the last minute of the final loss).

Dwight Howard, 2004-05: 32.6 MPG, 12 ppg, 10 rpg, 52% FG, 17.2 PER, 7.3 win shares, 36 wins (Orlando missed playoffs).

LeBron James, 2003-04: 39.5 MPG, 20.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 5.9 apg, 42% FG, 18.3 PER, 5.1 win shares, 35 wins (Cleveland missed playoffs).

As great as those players are now, they realized they needed to work on their game and develop as players to become successful. All of them have and that is why they are successful today.

Another reason I believe they should move up the age is because of the mentoring a player could and can receive while they attend college. Whether it is a professor or coach, a player can learn so much about not just basketball but life. A mentor would even help connect the development of a player, they could help the player become a great person on and off the court. Think about the impact Dean Smith had on Jordan. The joke back in the day was that the only person on earth who could hold MJ under 20 points was Dean Smith. (And it was true: MJ averaged 17.7 points per game in three seasons at Carolina.) But what was Smith really doing while making Jordan pay his dues and share the ball? Teaching him how to be a good teammate, how to work, and most important, how to deal with success and adversity. Do you think this helped MJ? Of course it did. He learned how to play with his teammates and it made him realize he didn’t have to do it himself. He could trust his teammates, learn from them, and it ultimately made Jordan the player he was.

So why hasn’t the age limit been raised when David Stern is already on record saying he’d like to add a year? The problem within the NBA is that both Stern and the NBA Players Association must agree on the same terms. The players association does not want to see the age raised because that makes it seem as if they are taking the rights away from athletes to make their own decision. But Stern has a great point trying to move the age up. It’s a shame, because both sides would have been helped by that age limit bumping to 20. The league would be stronger for every reason discussed above. The union would benefit because veterans would hold their jobs for an extra season and be able to get another year under their belt before a younger player took his job. And fans would win because the game would be better — we’d see a mass of elite young talent arriving into the league more prepared, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. We will see what the NBA does but I’d like to see what they do.

Postseason MVP Rankings

In the first week of the playoffs we have seen stars do what stars do. Kevin Durant’s heroic shots, Kobe catching fire, LeBron dominating, even Boston’s big two standing tall when they needed to most. Each and every playoff series has been exciting, with close games, great physicality, and great competitiveness. And the stars have proven that they are the best players on their respective teams.

The “Big Ticket”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5) Kevin Garnett

PPG: 18.3

RPG: 12.3

APG: 3.0

BPG: 2.0

KG has been essential in the Celtics taking a 2-1 lead over the Hawks in the first round. He has been a man amongst boys, rebounding just about everything, and scoring in a variety of ways. The 35 year old has be playing like a young gun and has been helping the Celtics fight through these playoffs.

Bynum and Kobe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4) Kobe Bryant/ Andrew Bynum

Bryant:

PPG: 30.3

RPG: 5.0

APG: 4.0

Bynum:

PPG: 18.3

RPG: 11.3

Both of these studs have been helping each other carry the large load that is the Lakers. Kobe has been himself throughout the playoffs scoring at will and shooting 44% throughout this series against Denver. Bynum has been playing his best basketball in this first week. He has been a beast in the paint, using his combo of size and skill to take advantage of the smaller Nuggets forwards. They’re up 2-1 in the series, although they were beaten pretty good last night, they have been playing very well.

The “Chosen One”

3) Lebron James

PPG: 27.7

RPG: 6.3

APG: 5.7

LeBron has been LeBron in this series against the Knicks. And the Knicks may be the only reason I have him at #3. He has had one hell of a series and has been proving his haters wrong by playing extremely well in the 4th quarter. LeBron has heard all the jokes and it hasn’t seemed to bother his play at all this season. Despite the breathless criticism that he vanishes in fourth quarters, his player efficiency rating (PER) in the fourth quarter (33.1) is much higher than his overall PER this season (30.8). LeBron has been playing well, I just want to see him do it against an actual team.

The “Truth”

2) Paul Pierce

PPG: 23.0

RPG: 7.7

APG: 4.0

I think the most remarkable thing about Pierce these playoffs is the amount of minutes he has been logging. He has been averaging 44.3 minutes per game and 45 minutes per game in both of their wins over the Hawks. At age 34, Pierce is showing that he can still be an elite scorer in the NBA. He has made big shot after big shot in the Celtics series against the Hawks. In game 2, he led the Rondo-less Celtics back from a 14 point deficit in the 2nd half to get the win. Pierce has been the main reason the Celtics are up 2-1 in this opening series.

“Durantula”

1) Kevin Durant

PPG: 27.3

RPG: 6.3

APG: 3.7

Durant has been stellar in the Thunder’s opening series against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. Although he has not been shooting as well as normal, he has stepped up in big situations. He hit the game winning shot in game 1 with 1.5 seconds remaining, and hit big shots in crunch time in game 2. Game 3 was a blowout and Durant was the main reason. He shot 11-15 from the floor, scoring 31 points in a 93-75  win. It just shows when Durant is playing well, the Thunder might be the toughest team to beat in the NBA.

I Love the NBA Playoffs

Best time of the year!

The NBA Playoffs may be my favorite time of the year. It is like a holiday for any basketball fan. When you think of it any big basketball fan has two favorite times of the year, March Madness and now, and right now is a great time to watch television. What is so great about the playoffs? You might ask. Well I have a great answer for you, the players actually care and they actually try now. They want to win, the ultimate goal of any NBA player is to win an NBA title and get a ring. During the season every good team  just coasts through the season knowing that they will make the playoffs. Once they get there, it is like a flip is switched. For good reason,  because fans base success off of how many championship rings you have. Michael Jordan, the greatest player of all time, has all the individual accolades you could think of. But what do more people know about him, he won 6 titles. LeBron James is another great example of just how important championships are to the fans of basketball. LeBron James may be the best basketball player on the planet right now, but people despise him and call him a “quitter”, “choke artist” and just a straight up loser because he hasn’t been able to win the big one.

Which brings me back to my original point of why the NBA Playoffs are the best part of the year. You have players giving their all to try and win the title. They are willing to do anything to win and it truly shows with the way that each player plays. From here until that last game 7 is over, I will be parked on my couch at night, watching as many games as I possibly can.

What Derrick Rose’s ACL means to the Bulls and Gosh, the Knicks are bad…

This torn ACL could mean problems for the Bulls

Throughout the entire game between the Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia Sixers, Derrick Rose was dominant. Scoring 23 points, dishing out 9 assists and snatching 9 rebounds. On his way to a triple-double and a game one win. Then tragedy struck. The arena fell silent as Rose wailed and wallowed, lying on the floor in obvious pain. It was with 1:22 left in the game, when Rose was attacking the hoop and his knee locked up on him and he collapsed to the ground .The Bulls were on their way to a relatively easy victory and many now question whether it was even worth Rose being in the game. They continued on to a 103-91 win. But everyone’s question was still looming, can the Bulls survive without their superstar Derrick Rose? Head Coach Tom Thibodeau was very stoic with his answers after the game. “It’s a part of the game,” he said. “There’s going to be injuries. A guy can get hurt in practice, he can get hurt in the first five minutes of a game, he can get hurt at the end of a game. He can get hurt at any time and you’ve got to deal with it. That’s part of this game. He’s had a lot of injuries this year. It’s been unfortunate. But we do have more than enough to win with it. So whatever the circumstances are, we’ll deal with it.” Through all of this adversity, I still believe the Bulls will be able to survive. Rip Hamilton came off of a great performance last night, and Luol Deng continues to play well. I have faith that the Bulls can survive for two reasons: Tom Thibodeau and the way they play defense. They were 18-9 during the regular season without him, including victories over playoff teams Miami, Boston, Orlando, Atlanta, New York and Philadelphia, those were obviously not best-of-seven series. And the Bulls were not looking to survive a round but to take the next step, presumably beating the Heat and playing for the NBA title. But considering the way the Bulls play defense and work well as a team, I still believe they can survive through the playoffs.

The Knicks need to change something up to compete with the Heat

Last Night, the New York Knicks put together one of the worst performances in playoff history. They scored a total of 67 points, and LeBron James outproduced all of the Knicks starters. They tied a franchise record for turnovers in a playoff game and the 33-point loss to the Heat is their 4th-largest margin of defeat in playoff franchise history. Overall, is wasn’t the greatest performance by the Knicks. They couldn’t stop LeBron James, who shot 10-14 from the field and totaled (32,4,3,4). J.R. Smith was the best player for the Knicks yesterday, he had (17,4,2,2). Another tough break for the Knicks came when Iman Shumpert tore his ACL and was lost for the year. “They played really well,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said, “and we played awful.” That quote pretty much summed up the night for the Knicks, who play tomorrow, Monday, April 30th. Hopefully they will be able to turn it around.

 

Why Lebron James should be NBA MVP

Is LeBron James the MVP?

Love him or hate him LeBron James is the best player in the National Basketball Association. The statistics don’t lie, and better yet neither does the tape. In his second season with the Miami Heat, James has been the most effective in his nine year career. James is shooting an astounding 53% from the floor, which is mighty impressive for a wingman. How good? Kobe Bryant a two time MVP winner has never shot over 46%. Although LeBron does most of his work inside the perimeter, LBJ is also shooting a career best from behind the arch at 36%. What’s more impressive than James’ offensive statistics is his versatility and abilities to defend the opponent’s best player regardless of what position he plays. There is no stat to prove how important James is to the Heat on the defensive side of the ball. LeBron gives other players fits with his freakish athleticism, length and quickness. In his last game against Kevin Durant on April 4th he forced KD to a season high 9 turnovers, and earned his club the victory 98-93. James has been doing more than Durant, with less. I understand the Heat did bring in “The Big Three” but they have been battling injuries and when healthy, is the Heat roster minus LeBron better than the Thunder roster without Durant? The answer is no. Durant has prolific offensive weapons with Westbrook and Harden. Not to mention Durant plays with one of the best defensive players in the league Serge Ibaka. The Thunder can win games with Durant remaining quiet throughout the entire game because of Russell Westbrook’s ability to score the pumpkin and get everyone in the offense involved. On some nights Westbrook is the MVP of the Thunder not Durant. Durant takes 19 shots a game only 3 more shots a game than his teammate Westbrook.  LeBron has been winning games for the Heat even while the rest of the big three have been out of the lineup. James in fact thrives when Wade or Bosh are absent. Wade has missed 14 games this season, the Heat are 13-1 this season with Wade out of the lineup. Westbrook on the other hand, hasn’t missed a game. Although Durant might be a better scorer than LeBron but LeBron does more. We have begun taking LeBron’s stats for granted because he puts up ridiculous numbers nightly. Averaging 27.1 point per game, 7.9 rebounds per, and 6.2 assists. Put LeBron James on any team in the league and I guarantee you that team would make it to the playoffs. Put LeBron on the Charlotte Bobcats they would make the playoffs, he is that good. This year will be LeBron’s third time taking in the award, however King James won’t care much about this award unless if he gets the job done in the postseason.

Conner Patch @connerpatch68