Final Four

 

Western Conference Finals: Warriors in six

Eastern Conference Finals: Boston in seven

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

Round 2 Thoughts

Just a few thoughts on this week’s past games as the Final Four shapes up to what looks like some exciting basketball.

 

BM

 

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

Second Round Clicks to Pick

 

As of today, there are still four teams battling to advance to the second round of the eastern conference playoffs. Over in the west, I’ve got Golden State beating New Orleans in six games, and Houston beating Utah in seven games next round.

[Update]

Cavs in five over the Rappers, and Philadelphia in six over Boston.

 

BM

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

Post Season Clicks to Pick

Eastern Conference Playoffs

 

Toronto vs. Washington (Toronto in Seven)

Boston vs Milwaukee  (Boston in Six)

Philadelphia vs Miami  (Philadelphia in Seven)

Cleveland vs Indiana  (Cleveland in Six)

 

Western Conference Playoffs

 

Houston vs. Minnesota  (Houston in Seven)

Golden State vs San Antonio (Golden State in Six)

Portland vs New Orleans    (Portland in Seven) *Series Click to Pick*

Oklahoma City vs Utah (Oklahoma City in Seven)

 

 

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

That’s That

Wow. Warriors in five games. If only somebody had warned us that the series would be over so qui— oh I did predict? Well I’ll be damned (feigns humility for brief second before continuing), maybe it was just a lucky guess. Or maybe it was just as simple as adding Kevin Durant and subtracting Harrison Barnes.

People forget that the Warriors came within a minute of repeating as champions last year with Harrison Barnes as their starting small forward no Andrew Bogut to clog the middle of the paint. Although the Warriors couldn’t quite replace Bogut this year, they made a significant upgrade at the 3 position. Golden State didn’t even need KD to perform as scintillating as he was against the Cavs, they just needed him to play better than Harrison Barnes (who may actually have turned out to be the biggest loser in this whole saga–you know if making 94 million dollars is considered losing).

Except for ill timed rashes of mental lapses, the Cavaliers actually played decent defense this series. While the occasional mental lapse may not hurt Lebron and co. against teams like Toronto, Indiana, or Boston, it only takes a couple of poor possessions for a 4 point deficit to become a double digit lead against the Warriors. The margin of error against them is extremely thin.

Lebron is the best basketball player I have ever seen, but he is a terrible general manager. Remember his first tour of duty with the Cavs when he said that forward J.J. Hickson was not an expendable piece around the trading deadline? Then shortly after that he had to have an over the hill Antawn Jamison on his squad. Right before he left Miami, he lobbied for the Heat to draft Shabazz Napier at the point guard position. This time around he leveraged his power to make Cleveland sign Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson to huge contracts.

Now Tristan Thompson (who only pulled down 8 rebounds last night) would probably have commanded that kind of money eventually, being one of the few legitimate 7-footers left in the league, but Kevin Love did not play like a max contract player in this series. In fact, we may have seen the last of Kevin Love in a Cavaliers uniform. In a must win game, the guy takes only eight shots–missing three free throws and scoring only 6 points in the process. His plus/minus ratio was a -23 when he was on the court, and only three of his ten rebounds were on the offensive glass.

J.R. Smith surprised me this series. He had two stinkers in games 1 and 2 in Oakland, but managed to rebound and play well the last 3 games. Last night he put in 25 points on 9 for 11 shooting.  Still, the Cavaliers are going to need more wing players who defend to even have a chance in next year’s Finals (against either Golden State or San Antonio).

Cleveland’s biggest personnel problems stem from having too many one way specialist on the court. Though Kyle Korver, Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, and Kevin Love can add a little life to the offense, none of those guys can defend.

Isn’t it too bad that Andrew Wiggins begged for Cleveland to trade him because he didn’t think Lebron could help him be a better player? Wait. That’s not what happened? Oh well, its not like he was a wing who could score a little bit right? Oh he does have some offensive skills? Well, even if he can score, its not like he can defend. What’s that you say? He’s an elite defender at his position? Fuck outta here! I’m not tryna hear that. Lebron wouldn’t push for the team to trade a guy like that now would he? WOULD HE? Yea I didn’t think so either.

All you have to do is compare the Cavaliers’ bench production to the Warriors’ and you will see where this series was lost. 7 points from their bench last night and we didn’t see much of Channing Frye, or Derrick Williams. Backup point guard, Deron Williams, is beyond washed. I bet he gives his retirement papers to the league by Friday.

Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala played consistently well–better than anyone on Cleveland’s bench (Iguodala had a +60 rating for the entire Finals). Javale McGee had moderate success the first 2 games, and he and the rest of the second unit contributed just enough to make Cleveland feel it. Tyronn Lue had no one he could bring off the bench and have any kind of impact defensively. Lebron averaged 42 minutes a game this final round; logging 46 minutes total last night.

Kevin Durant put on such a beautiful display of dominance that Draymond Green’s own inconsistent performance was overshadowed; coming nowhere close to how he played in game 7 of last year’s instant classic.

 

It is understandable that many people found this season to be unsatisfactory. No one was able to match the beautiful basketball on display up in Oakland, and the only team that could come close to competing had its hopes dashed by an overzealous Georgian. Despite what you might hear, the Spurs were in fact, the second best team in the NBA. I don’t expect much to change for next year. Washington is two moves away from me taking them seriously, so they loom in the background as a potential troublemaker.

I’m extremely curious to see if a) the Celtics finally use their chess pieces to put a championship team together next season and b) who the Cavs bring back next year.

Outside of Lebron, I think everybody can be had at a price. As outstanding as Kyrie Irving is, I don’t think he is the right guy for the kind of offense that can beat Golden State. Before you start tweeting me, take a second and think about how much more deadly Kevin Love would be if Mike Conley or John Wall were running that offense. Kyrie doesn’t get his teammates involved easily, and typically passes when its his only option.

I’m sure second best doesn’t sit too well with James, so something will have to be done to at least give the appearance that maybe they can beat Golden State four times in a series.

We still don’t know if this is the beginning of a dominant era for the Warriors or just a vacuum, but we’ll soon find out this off-season. Shaun Livingston and Stephen Curry will be free agents and we’ll likely see a few new faces on the roster next season. The beauty of the off-season is that up until next season’s tip, all 30 teams have a legitimate chance at being champions. Maybe things won’t be as predictable as they were this season, but I highly doubt it.

 

BM

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @goodassgame. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

 

 

 

 

 

Delayed Gratification

Before we get into this year’s highly anticipated NBA Finals. I’d like to give a shout out to the Boston Celtics and San Antonio for having successful seasons. Although I think the Celtics didn’t work hard enough to get Demarcus Cousins or Jimmy Butler on the team this year, I’m not so sure that would have been worth two more wins in this year’s conference finals. I am curious if they are going to run it back with the addition of another young lottery pick are trade their number one pick for some vet pieces to help Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say they overachieved this year with their current roster. Whatever Danny Ainge decides to do this off-season, it will be tough to mess this off-season up for the Celtics. They have a lot of good options.

The Spurs will have a challenging off-season themselves, as there are a few questions that must be answered for them to sustain their run of excellence for the next few seasons. Though it seems like Dejounte Murray is poised to be the point guard of the future, I think it would behoove the Spurs to sign a veteran to serve as a bridge for Murray era. There are a number of free agent point guards the Spurs could sign on the cheap who could help mentor the young prodigy as he grows into his role as a floor leader. I personally am rooting for a George Hill/Gregg Popovich reunion next season.

Jonathan Simmons may have played his last game in a Spurs uniform, as his payday is right down the road waiting for him once the free agency period starts. He is a restricted free agent, but if a team offers him a ton of money to go play for them, San Antonio might let him walk. This would be unfortunate because I’ve been one of Juice Man’s biggest fans and I’d love to see him back on the team. For what’s out there at the wing position, he could turn out to be a good investment.

I would be surprised if Patty Mills plays for the team next year. He is an unrestricted free agent and some marginal team is probably going to be foolish enough to drop some major dough on a player who isn’t good enough to be a starting point guard for a contending team. Kawhi’s injury in Game 1 last round turned the conference finals into a pre season tryouts. Spurs players were just playing for their jobs after it was clear they were not going to advance.

Looking down the road, the Spurs are going to need some young front court players as Lamarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol are clearly on the wrong side of their careers and can’t be depended on to carry a team if Leonard was unavailable for some reason. Kyle Anderson hasn’t improved all that much since he first got into the league three years ago, and it may be time to start looking for Danny Green’s eventual replacement. Green does some things well (like stopping 3-on-1 fast breaks)  and some things not so well (like dribbling). He is like that boyfriend some women have that does just enough to get dumped. She doesn’t break up with him, but she thinks about it seriously at least once every 3 months. 4 years later, both parties are wondering where this thing is going.

Outside of Kawhi and Murray, there are a lot of questions to be answered this off-season. A lot of critics think this is beginning of the end of the Spurs dynasty, but I think this is just a transition period. Either way, this off season will be the critical point we look back on five years from now when accessing the prime of Kawhi Leonard’s career.

 

FINALS PREDICTIONS

You must excuse me if I seem bored with the Cavs-Warriors threematch, but at this point it seems pretty anti-climatic. Besides the first 30 minutes of game 1 of Spurs-Warriors, there has been little doubt who would be in the NBA Finals. Neither team was tested on their way to the final round, and there was a part of me that was disappointed that Cleveland dropped a game against Boston. It would have been cool to see both teams head into the Finals 12-0. Alas, this is the best the 2017 season could give to us fans.

3 Keys to the series:

Draymond Green/ Andre Iguodala vs. Lebron

Lebron is going to get his no matter what, but Green and Iggy are going to have to figure out a way to slow him down, make him work for points, and not get into foul trouble. Refs tend to swallow their whistles when Lebron creates contact by dipping his shoulders into people’s chest and using his off-hand to push into guys. If there is a foul called, it’s usually on the defensive player somehow. Rasheed Wallace put it best when he said, “These guys (Kobe, Shaq, Lebron) are supposed to be the best right? So why do they need more help if they are so good?” That is exactly why I @bucks with Sheed even if he is fibbing about making up the phrase “Ball Don’t Lie”.

Role Players

We haven’t seen this kind of star power on both Finals teams since the 2013 and 2014 Spurs-Heat matchups, and before that, the Celtics-Lakers rivalry in the 80’s. However, anyone who knows anything about NBA basketball knows that its the how role players play that will determine who wins these playoff games.

It isn’t crazy to expect big numbers from Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Steph Curry, but you never know what you are going to get from Kevin Love and Klay Thompson on the offensive end (although both can easily put up 40 points in the blink of the eye). The difference between the two players is that Love is an average defender at best, while Thompson is the best defensive 2 guard in the league. To think that both players are afterthoughts shows you how good both teams are.

Look for the Kardashian curse to rear its ugly head this series as Tristan Thompson should have a big series against this thin front court of Golden State–but he won’t. I can’t ever quantify these suspicions with anything but intuition, but wasn’t I right about James Harden swoon last year because he was dating Khloe? I’m just saying.

Golden State has the better bench of the two teams with guys like Javale McGee, Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala all making important contributions with the second unit. Ian Clark and Patrick McCaw can be counted on to steal some minutes at the guard spots. Don’t forget that Mike Brown (?) can always count on David West or Matt Barnes to provide some toughness whenever that is needed.

The Cavaliers have a lot of washed dudes coming off the bench, like old ass Kyle Korver, Deron Williams, Richard Jefferson, and Derrick Williams.

Defense

For all the talk about their offense, Warriors had one of the best defenses in the NBA this year. The Cavaliers? Not so much. There was even a time period where their defensive rating was 30th in the league. They haven’t exactly faced any offensive juggernauts this post season, so people have been tricked into thinking that they “flipped that switch.”

The Warriors are phenomenal at finding the “mouse in the house” and exposing it again and again. Outside of Tristan Thompson, Lebron James, and sometimes Iman Shumpert, is there anyone on that Cleveland roster that will scare the Warriors? J.R. Smith can bring it on  occasion, but he can just as easily space out at anytime. The rest of the team is compiled of average defenders. The Spurs were a top 5 team in defense and you saw what happened to them, and before you say “but Kawhi Leonard was hurt” please realize that it would have taken EVERYTHING to go right for the Spurs to even have a chance at winning last round.

People tend to think this has the makings of a classic, but I don’t see it. Star power aside for Cleveland, they are ill-equipped to deal with one of the best offenses in NBA history. Warriors in five, and the only reason I’m not predicting a sweep is out of respect to Lebron. I may sound as crazy as I did when I said the Spurs would beat Golden State last round, but you saw what happened that first 30 minutes before Kawhi got hurt (like what I did right there?). There could have been a number of reasons why San Antonio was dominating before that take down by Zaza, but before that infamous play, I wasn’t looking so crazy now was I? If both teams remain healthy the entire series, the Warriors will clinch it five games and it may not even be that close. And oh yeah, Draymond Green is going to win the Finals MVP, just like I predicted in the season preview.

Have a good week.

 

BM

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

 

House Money (Tried to Told Ya’ll)

Didn’t I tell you the Rockets were busters? Didn’t I tell you that James Harden’s game is all smoke and mirrors? Didn’t I tell you that Tony Parker’s injury would be a blessing in disguise? I love to troll as much as the next man, but I don’t just be saying shit to hear myself talk. Ya’ll gon learn to start listening to me. As my dude Bomani Jones is fond of saying, “Listen to me now. Believe me later on.”

We got a game 7 in Boston on Monday between the Wizards and the Celtics. I would be shocked if the Celtics lose this game at home. Role players tend to not show up in elimination games on the road. John Wall and Bradley Beal are going to need help if they are going to advance to the next round. I’ll definitely be tuning in because a) its Monday and I don’t have anything better to do, and b) its game 7.  You really find out what these players are made of during the pressure packed situations. I love elimination games. Whoever wins this series will be lucky to get two wins against the Cavaliers.

 

The Warriors vs. Spurs Western Conference Finals may as well be the NBA Finals. Barring major injury to key contributors, whoever comes out of this round should be the clear-cut favorites against the Lebrons. People think this is dissing Lebron, but the beauty of basketball is that your weaknesses will get exposed. Everything comes out in the wash when you cut corners in hoop.

Cleveland has yet to play an offensively competent team in the playoffs and that trend will continue until they face the Warriors or Spurs. Cleveland statistically had one of the worst regular season defensive statistics of all the playoff teams. Luckily for the Cavs, playing in the east and having Lebron can cover up a lot of ugly blemishes. Lebron is like the most effective IG filter for any NBA team.

He has proved from time to time that he can drag the worst four scrubs ever assembled and still take them to the NBA Finals. Mad respect given, but to win in pro basketball the other players–four to nine–have to play well. You can’t convince me that the Warriors and Spurs aren’t stocked with superior role players in comparison to the Cavaliers. Go look it up if you don’t believe me, and after you do, I want you to make a list of all the players on Cleveland’s roster not named Lebron or Tristan who can defend their position well.

Bringing it back to this series for a second, the only chance that the Spurs has is through in-game adjustments and timely substitutions. Jonathan Simmons has proven he belongs on the court, and Gregg Popovich will have no choice but to give Dejounte Murray some run against the tall guards of Golden State.

Throw out what happened in the regular season, as these are two different teams from what you saw before April began. The biggest problem the Spurs face is the incredible amount of length and quickness they have to throw at San Antonio. Matt Barnes, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston all can come off the bench and disrupt an offense with their defensive versatility.

Spurs can take advantage of their mismatch in the paint with Pau Gasol and Lamarcus Aldridge if they can somehow get the ball across the court, and keep their entry passes from getting intercepted or tipped away (thus creating transition opportunities for the Warriors and igniting their offense). Spurs fans know that David West isn’t the defender he once was, but look for Javale McGee to continue to impact the game with his presence in the paint, rebounding, and athleticism.

The play of Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Kyle Anderson, Jonathan Simmons and Dejounte Murray–San Antonio’s ballhandlers not named Kawhi– will determine if these games are close nail biter endings or blowout losses. If the Spurs can slow the tempo down, attack the paint, and get Kevin Durant and Draymond Green in foul trouble, this could be a troublesome affair for the Warriors.

On defense, the Spurs will have to run the Warriors off the three-point line and control the boards. The Warriors feast off of open threes and transition points, so it will be important for San Antonio to not hoist jump shots early in the shot clock, and not turn the ball over.

Lebron couldn’t beat the Warriors by himself in 2015, so don’t expect a hobbled Kawhi Leonard to carry the San Antonio to finals alone. Aldridge and Gasol are going to have to chip in on the boards and points in the paint . I’m not sure what we can realistically expect David Lee and Dewayne Dedmon to contribute. Dedmon (with his stone hands) has played himself into Pop’s doghouse and Lee had serious issues on defense last round. If Dedmon can’t catch passes, then he will need to play smart defense and rebound to stay on the court. Lee could be a good piece on the offensive end, but better believe that the Warriors will go at him when he gets back on D. Golden State loves finding the mismatches and attacking it. #mouseinthehouse

This may sound obvious, but the Spurs will have to play their best team ball of the season to even have a chance at winning this series. By Game 4, both coaching staffs will have a clear idea on which lineups and matchups work most effectively, and the real chess game will begin. Popovich has to use all his chess pieces effectively in order to advance to the NBA Finals, so keep an eye on the role players in this series.

The margin of error is very small, and though San Antonio has proven they are talented and fearless, the biggest hurdle they will face is a mental one.The discipline and focus that it takes to beat these Warriors four times in seven games is what will determine who wins. The Spurs must stick to their game plan, value every possession, and take smart shots. The Warriors will penalize them on the other end every time they turn the ball over, take a bad shot, or forget how to set screens and make the extra pass.

At this point, San Antonio is playing with house money. Having won 60 plus wins and advanced to the Western Conference Finals only a year removed from Tim Duncan’s retirement, this season is already a success for them. They are also huge underdogs. They will be facing tremendously less pressure than veteran players like Zaza Pachulia, Matt Barnes, Javale McGee, Kevin Durant, and David West (who knows how many seasons he has left in him). Pressure does funny things to people, don’t discount that element this round.

As much as I want to say Spurs in six games, there are just too many unknowns. I still can’t pick them to——— nah you know what? Fuck it. Spurs in six. I’m putting 100 dollars on San Antonio and in a week and a half, I’m collecting 900 dollars. If you like watching exceptional basketball execution, then I suggest that you watch every minute of this series. Get your bets in before 2:00 pm today because Los Spurs are going to shock the world!

Buen Provecho

 

BM

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com.