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.

Celtics vs. Heat

Now as we all know I am a big Celtics fan and chose the Celtics in 7 in my last Eastern Conference Final article. I look at this game and what the Celtics were able to do in Boston, and I truly believe the C’s can win not only tonight but this series. I could care less if Bosh is back, I could care less if it’s in Miami, I could care less about what Rondo said (which is supposed to fire up the Heat). All I know is the Celts are going to come ready to play and take this Game 5.

NBA Draft: 1st Round Mock Draft

Round 1 Picks:

  1. New Orleans Hornets
  2. Charlotte Bobcats
  3. Washington Wizards
  4. Cleveland Cavs
  5. Sacramento Kings
  6. Portland Trail Blazers (via Brooklyn Nets)
  7. Golden State Warriors
  8. Toronto Raptors
  9. Detroit Pistons
  10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves)
  11. Portland Trail Blazers
  12. Milwaukee Bucks
  13. Phoenix Suns
  14. Houston Rockets
  15. Philadelphia 76ers
  16. Houston Rockets (via NY Knickerbockers)
  17. Dallas Mavericks
  18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz)
  19. Orlando Magic
  20. Denver Nuggets
  21. Boston Celtics
  22. Boston Celtics (via L.A. Clippers)
  23. Atlanta Hawks
  24. Cleveland Cavs (via L.A. Lakers)
  25. Memphis Grizzlies
  26. Indiana Pacers
  27. Miami Heat
  28. OKC Thunder
  29. Chicago Bulls
  30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs)
Round 1 Mock:
1) New Orleans Hornets:
Anthony Davis
School: Kentucky

Position: PF/C

Year: Freshman

Vitals: 6’10”, 220 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 14.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 0.9 assists

2) Charlotte Bobcats
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
School: Kentucky

Position: SF

Year: Freshman

Vitals: 6’7″, 232 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 11.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists

3) Washington Wizards

Thomas Robinson

School: Kansas

Position: PF

Year: Junior

Vitals: 6’10”, 237 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 17.9 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists

4) Cleveland Cavs

Bradley Beal

School: Florida

Position: SG

Year: Freshman

Vitals: 6’3″, 207 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 14.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists

5) Sacramento Kings

Andre Drummond

School: Connecticut

Position: PF/C

Year: Freshman

Vitals: 6’10”, 270 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 10.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 0.5 assists

6) Portland Trail Blazers

Perry Jones III

School: Baylor

Position: PF

Year: Sophomore

Vitals: 6’11”, 235 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 14.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists

7) Golden State Warriors

Harrison Barnes

School: North Carolina

Position: SF

Year: Sophomore

Vitals: 6’8″, 215 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 17.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists

8) Toronto Raptors

Jeremy Lamb

School: Connecticut

Position: SG/SF

Year: Sophomore

Vitals: 6’5″, 180 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists

9) Detroit Pistons

Jared Sullinger

School: Ohio State

Position: PF

Year: Sophomore

Vitals: 6’9″, 265 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 17.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists

10) New Orleans Hornets

Terrence Jones

School: Kentucky

Position: SF/PF

Year: Sophomore

Vitals: 6’9″, 252 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 12.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists

11) Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard

School: Weber State

Position: PG/SG

Year: Junior

Vitals: 6’3″, 195 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 24.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists

12) Milwaukee Bucks

John Henson

School: North Carolina

Position: PF/C

Year: Junior

Vitals: 6’11”, 220 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 13.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists

13) Phoenix Suns

Kendall Marshall

School: North Carolina

Position: PG

Year: Sophomore

Vitals: 6’4″, 195 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 7.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 9.7 assists

14) Houston Rockets

Meyers Leonard

School: Illinois

Position: C

Year: Sophomore

Vitals: 7’1″, 245 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists

15) Philadelphia 76ers

Tyler Zeller

School: North Carolina

Position: PF/C

Year: Senior

Vitals: 7’0″, 250 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 16.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists

16) Houston Rockets

Quincy Miller

School: Baylor

Position: SF

Year: Freshman

Vitals: 6’9″, 200 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 10.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists

17) Dallas Mavericks

Dion Waiters

School: Syracuse

Position: PG/SG

Year: Sophomore

Vitals: 6’4″, 215 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 12.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists

18) Minnesota Timberwolves

Terrence Ross

School: Washington

Position: SG/SF

Year: Sophomore

Vitals: 6’6″, 195 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 15.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists

19) Orlando Magic

Marquis Teague

School: Kentucky

Position: PG

Year: Freshman

Vitals: 6’2″, 189 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 9.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists

20) Denver Nuggets

Austin Rivers

School: Duke

Position: PG/SG

Year: Freshman

Vitals: 6’4″, 200 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 15.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists

21) Boston Celtics

Arnett Moultrie

School: Mississippi State

Position: PF/C

Year: Junior

Vitals: 6’11”, 230 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 15.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists

22) Boston Celtics

Moe Harkless

School: St. John’s

Position: SG/SF

Year: Freshman

Vitals: 6’8″, 208 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 15.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists

23) Atlanta Hawks

Tony Wroten

School: Washington

Position: PG/SG

Year: Freshman

Vitals: 6’5″, 205 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists

24) Cleveland Cavs

Evan Fournier

Team: Poitiers

Position: Shooting guard/small forward

Age: 19

Vitals: 6’7″, 206 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 13.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists (in Pro A France)

25) Memphis Grizzlies

Tyshawn Taylor

School: Kansas

Position: PG

Year: Senior

Vitals: 6’3″, 185 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 17.3 points, 1.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists

26) Indiana Pacers

Royce White

School: Iowa State

Position: No Idea (but really SF/PF)

Year: Sophomore

Vitals: 6’8″, 270 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 13.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists

27) Miami Heat

Fab Melo

School: Syracuse

Position: C

Year: Sophomore

Vitals: 7’0″, 255 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.7 assists

28) OKC Thunder

Jeffery Taylor

School: Vanderbilt

Position: SF

Year: Senior

Vitals: 6’7″, 225 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 16.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists

29) Chicago Bulls

Doron Lamb

School: Kentucky

Position: SG

Year: Sophomore

Vitals: 6’4″, 210 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 13.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists

30) Golden State Warriors

Draymond Green

School: Michigan State

Position: SF/PF

Year: Senior

Vitals: 6’7″, 230 pounds

2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 16.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists

Mark My Words: June

In order to be a great fantasy owner you must be able to predict and project how well players will do down the road. Owners have to see production before it is performed by players otherwise you might miss out on that player, it might be too late and another owner in your league snatched him before you. Just like last month I have decided to somewhat predict the future. I have put together a handful of things that I believe will happen in the month of June, a lot of statements in which you may be shaking your head now but when we look back on July 1st I will say “I told you so”.

1)      Mark My Words, Los Angeles Angels Outfielder Mike Trout scores more fantasy points than Texas Rangers Outfielder Josh Hamilton in the month of June: Josh Hamilton is having one heck of a season. Hamilton leads almost every statistical category by a large margin. Hamilton also leads the league in fantasy points. This season has been owned by Josh Hamilton, June will be owned by 20 year old youngster Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Trout is known as one of the most talented prospects in the league and he has shown off his abilities early on in the big leagues. Trout was the 25th overall pick in the 2009 draft, and ranked the #2 best prospect according to Baseball America. Trout joined the Angels big league club five weeks into the season and has been raking since. He is currently hitting .302 and has 5 homeruns in his short stint with the club. In June 20 year old Mike Trout out performs Josh Hamilton.

2)      Mark My Words, Aroldis Chapman still has a 0.00 ERA: Aroldis Chapman is having a dominant season. A season in which he has yet to allow a single run. He also took complete control of the Cincinnati Reds closer role. Earlier this month I wrote about Chapman’s dominance https://boxseatssports.wordpress.com/fantasy-sports-insider/fantasy-baseball/an-eventful-week-dominant-season-aroldis-chapman/. I’m predicting the left hander continues this magical season and doesn’t allow a run in June either.

3)      Mark My Words, this one is a carry-over from last month to get the sour taste out of my mouth. Former Yankee A.J. Burnett has a lower ERA than Yankee ace C.C. Sabathia in the month of June: I had this same prediction last month and I fell one outing short of this coming true. In A.J. Burnett’s last five starts he has allowed two runs or fewer. During this five game stretch Burnett has a 1.57 ERA and a 3-0 record. I would’ve hit on this prediction last month if it weren’t for Burnett’s first outing against the St. Louis Cardinals where he allowed 12 runs over 2.2 innings. Burnett has had a lot of success as of late and so has his former Yankee teammate C.C. Sabathia. Sabathia has had no problem going deep into games, going at least seven innings in seven of ten outings, and going at least 6 innings in all of them. The Yankee ace had a 2.75 ERA in the month of May but just a 3-2 record to show for it. This month I get my revenge on this prediction when A.J. Burnett out pitches C.C. Sabathia.

4)      Mark My Words, youngster Bryce Harper has more extra base hits than league leader (in that category) Joey Votto: Joey Votto currently leads the league in extra base hits with 30 total. Votto has 8 homeruns and 22 doubles. This season Votto has done more than just get extra base hits for the Cincinnati Reds he has also been getting on base at a great clip. The talented first baseman boasts a .463 on base percentage ranking second in the Major Leagues behind New York Mets 3B David Wright. In June, Bryce Harper will get more extra base hits than Votto however. Harper was called up on April 28thby the Washington Nationals, the 20 year old right fielder has already found himself in the #2 slot in the Nats lineup card. Harper had 13 extra base hits in the month of May (5 doubles, 4 triples, and 4 homeruns).

Bryce Harper is just starting to feel comfortable

A statistic that is extremely impressive for a rookie. I first fell in love with Harper a bit later than everybody else. Of course I knew he was an incredible talent and I knew someday he would be a star in this league but I didn’t care too much about him until I saw him playing against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. Harper hit a soft blopper to left field and he exploded out of the box thinking double and with his hustle he got there. No other player in the league was stretching that single into a double, most guys would have just jogged down the first baseline. Since then I love the guy, he is always hustling.

5)      Mark My Words, Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale has a lower ERA than Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in the month of June: I am a proud fantasy owner of Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale. Chris Sale is one hell of a pitcher and has unbelievable potential. Sale is currently 6-2 and has a 2.34 ERA in his first season moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation. In early May Sale was dealing with elbow soreness and there was discussions of him possibly moving back to the bullpen but an MRI revealed Sale is healthy. Sale has been dominant in his last two outings combining for 14.1 innings 1 run and only allowing 5 hits while also striking out 21. Tampa Bay Rays slugger Ben Zobrist compared Sale to a young Randy Johnson in one of his tweets after facing the Sox left hander. There was no rhyme or reason to why I have put Sale up against King Felix Hernandez in this prediction other than to prove Sale is becoming an elite pitcher in this league and can out play other elite starting pitchers like Felix Hernandez who is proven.

6)      Mark My Words, Edwin Jackson records more wins in the month of June than teammate Stephen Strasburg: Stephen Strasburg came out of the gates hot for the Washington Nationals, yet has fizzled in his last few starts allowing 4 runs in two out of his last three appearances. He has also failed to make it into the 6th inning in all three of those outings. Strasburg still posts a 2.64 ERA but recent struggles mean other pitchers in the Nationals rotation need to step up. Edwin Jackson is their man. Jackson is having a solid season himself however struggling to get run support from his club, giving him a poor record. Jackson has a 3.17 ERA but a lousy 1-3 record to show for it. Jackson has pitched well in his last 5 starts not allowing more than 3 runs in any of them however his club has lost all 5 games. I’m predicting Jackson continues his own individual success in the month of June and his teammates chime in with some run support.

7)      Mark My Words, Matt Moore has a lower ERA than James Shields in the month of June: Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Moore has been somewhat of a disappointment in the early stages of 2012. Moore is 1-5 with a 4.76 ERA. Moore was a clear rookie of the year candidate coming into 2012 after his postseason appearance against the Texas Rangers where he was successful. Moore has struggled early on, he has struggled getting late into ball games and teams are jumping all over his fast ball. In his last seven starts Moore has gone 6+ innings in only two of them. In his last outing he showed promise, he showed everyone a flash of what we expected all season long. In Moore’s last start he toed the rubber against the Chicago White Sox where he pitched 7 innings allowing only two runs and striking out 10. Moore’s teammate James Shields has been up and down this season. Shields will log innings for you but he does get tattooed sometimes. He currently has a 3.95 ERA but does have a 6-3 record for the Rays. I’m not entirely concerned about Shields giving up a lot of runs as of late however I think things are starting to click for the young lefty Matt Moore and I think we will see what we have all been waiting to see out of Matt Moore.

8)      Mark My Words, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher James McDonald continues his dominant 2012 season and has an ERA under 2.70 in June: James McDonald of the Pittsburgh Pirates is putting together quite the 2012 campaign. The 27 year old right hander has been dominant all season long. He has yet to allow more than three runs in a single outing all season long. He also has no problem striking guys out, on May 17th he proved that against the Washington Nationals when he struck out 11. Prior to that outing he struck out 8, 7, 10 and 8 in the four games before. McDonald has a 2.20 ERA for the Pirates far lower than expectations. In 2011 McDonald had an ERA of 4.21 however recent mechanical changes has proven success for the Pirate. McDonald continues this success in June when he pitches below a 2.70 ERA.

9)      Mark My Words, Fernando Rodney leads the league in saves at the end of June: How do the Tampa Bay Rays pump out these dominant closers? In his first season with the Rays Fernando Rodney has been rock solid locking down 16 saves. The Rays have a new closer every single season last year it was Kyle Farnsworth the year before that Rafael Soriano, Percival before that. Rodney is getting a lot of chances right now because the Rays are winning games, by the end of June Rodney will catch saves leader Jim Johnson of the Baltimore Orioles.

10)   Mark My Words, the San Antonio Spurs will win the NBA finals and they won’t need a 7th game to do so:Last month I predicted the Miami Heat would still be playing in the playoffs, this month I’m going a little tougher than that by saying the San Antonio Spurs win the NBA title in June and they do it in six games against the Miami Heat. Tony Parker will be your MVP. 

Conner “Country Breakfast” Patch @

 connerpatch68

Mark My Words: I Told You So

Pujols’ Season Is Looking Up, Just Like Predicted

At the beginning of May I made ten bold predictions, so on May 31st I could tell you “I told you so”. Below are my bold predictions I made in May, let’s see how I did!  

1)   Mark my words, Albert Pujols will hit 6+ homeruns in the month of May:

CORRECT: Pujols entered the month of May with 0 homeruns throughout April, in May Albert got hot and launched 8 long balls making me 1 for 1 on the year with my predictions. Pujols is improving and getting himself back into form however he still isn’t quite there yet. He batted .263 in May, much better than his April total .217.

2)   Mark my words, Jose Bautista will get his average above .240 before the end of May:

WRONG: Much like Pujols, Bautista struggled in April. I predicted Joey Bats was going to turn it around in a big way in May. In order for Bautista to up his average to .240 from a lousy .181 he had to hit .300 in May. The Blue Jays slugger failed to do so. At one point Bautista had his average up to .234 on May 26th, but a recent slump has dropped him down to .223.

3)   Mark my words, former Yankee A.J. Burnett has a lower ERA than Yankee ace C.C. Sabathia in the month of May:

WRONG: This one didn’t look pretty after A.J. Burnett’s first start against the St. Louis Cardinals where he allowed 12 runs in only 2.2 innings. On the other hand Sabathia threw a gem against Kansas City going 8 innings and allowing 2 runs. Sabathia finished the month with a splendid 2.75 ERA, while Burnett finished with a 4.38. It looks bad, but if you really crunch the numbers here, take away Burnett’s terrible outing against St. Louis and he boasts a 1.57 ERA. I just missed on this one and it ticks off enough to repeat this prediction again in June.

4)   Mark my words, Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda records more wins than Japanese Phenom Yu Darvish, in the month of May:

WRONG: In this debate neither pitcher really pitched well, Kuroda just got less run support. Yu Darvish finished the month with a 3-2 record and a 4.50 ERA for the Rangers. Hiroki Kuroda finished the month with a 2-3 record and a 4.25 ERA. Kuroda’s most impressive appearance was his last one on May 27th against the Oakland Athletics where he pitched 8 innings of scoreless ball. Once again I just missed on this one but this one doesn’t sting as much as Burnett vs. Sabathia.

5)   Mark my words, I had to put this one in… My boy Edwin Encarnacion remains the highest scoring 3B and is ranked #1 in total points for 3b come June 1st:

CORRECT: Edwin Encarnacion has been my man all season long and he continues to dominant in 2012. Encarnacion has already matched his 2011 total of 17 homers early into his 2012 campaign. At the beginning of the month Encarnacion led all 3B fantasy players in points ahead of Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, I predicted he was going to continue to stay at the top and he has. In my format Encarnacion has 199 total points ahead of the next highest player David Wright who currently has 180. I Knew I could depend on Edwin to pull through for me.

6)   Mark my words, Jose Reyes gets more hits in the month of May than league leader Derek Jeter:

WRONG: Wow this one hurts… This prediction might not have raised your eyes too much and you may not be surprised because Reyes is expected to out play the older Jeter. However, Jeter was leading the Majors in hits heading into May and Reyes was riding a big time slump. In the month of May Jeter had 34 hits, three less than he had in April. Reyes had 33 hits in May (one less than Jeter) and 15 more than he had the previous month. Tough hit, no pun intended but this one hurts falling just one hit shy.

7)   Mark my words, Alfredo Aceves records the most saves in the AL, in the month of May:

WRONG: Going into the month I felt as if this was going to be my toughest prediction to hit on, simply because it’s Aceves vs. the rest of the AL. I still felt confident however, Aceves fell short. Aceves had a solid month finishing with 8 saves and a 2.89 ERA and his Red Sox are now over .500 for the first time all season. The league leader in saves in the AL was a closer in his own division, Jim Johnson of the Baltimore Orioles. Johnson recorded 9 saves for the O’s.

8)   Mark my words, In the month of May, Matt Kemp has a higher total of stolen bases than homeruns hit: 

WRONG: My luck here has been pretty awful, but is it worse than Matt Kemp’s month of May? Kemp landed on the DL in early May with a hamstring strain and rushed back to the club too quickly putting himself back on the DL. Kemp recorded 0 homeruns in May and 0 stolen bases. Although this one should probably be a draw, I’m saying I’m wrong here.

9)   Mark my words, Gio Gonzalez finishes the month of May undefeated:

Correct: Gio Gonzalez is a stud. In his first season with the Washington Nationals Gio has a 2.04 ERA and a 7-1 record. He was also dominant in May, winning all five of his starts and finishing with a 2.25 ERA. The Nationals have a great rotation and a great one-two punch with Strasburg and Gonzalez.

10) Mark my words, the Miami Heat are still in the NBA Playoffs:

Correct: The Indiana Pacers put a little bit of a scare into this prediction running them into a game 6 series. I promise in June I’ll make my next prediction (non-fantasy related) a little bit tougher. Maybe something like… San Antonio wins the NBA finals and doesn’t need game 7 to do so. Yes, I like the sound of that.

I finished the month of May 4-10 on my predictions, looking to do much better in June to up the average a little bit. This month most certainly hurts just missing out on Burnett/Sabathia, Reyes/Jeter and Aceves. I’m excited to dive into next month’s list of predictions I promise you there are some good ones.

May 4/10 40%

Total 4/10 40%

Conner “Country Breakfast” Patch @connerpatch68

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

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