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. 

 

 

 

 

 

Straight Hate (Sketches of Busterdom)

If you listened to the most recent episode of the Full Sass podcast, then you were treated to some unfettered access into my brain. Although I keeps it pretty #fullsass on a semi-regular basis, I said some stuff on Monday’s pod that were not meant for public consumption–things normally afforded for bars and living room conversations. But since the genie has been let out of the bottle, I may as well come out of the closet as a full-blown Lebron James hater.

Don’t get me wrong, the dude is one of the most incredible players to enter the league. I’m not one of those people who will dismiss his on the court accomplishments. Anyone who knows basketball has to admit that he is probably a top 5 player of all time, and his career isn’t even close to being over.

It doesn’t mean I have to like the man though. I don’t enjoy watching him play. I think his face is ugly. I think his shot is ugly (Frankly I’d much rather watch him make incredible passes than power through the lane, create contact, and then shoot free throws). I get it. Look at the man. He is a physical specimen, and powerful. HE SHOULD BE GOOD AT BASKETBALL!

I look at adults who say that Lebron is their favorite player the same way I look at non New Yorkers who tell me the Yankees are their favorite baseball team (which also happens to be the Lebron’s favorite team, but more on that later). I’ll be like “Yeah. Of course he is,” and then I usually end up tuning out anything they have to say about basketball.

Before you write me off as some hipster contrarian who only likes obscure players to flaunt my NBA fandom, let me say this: my dislike for Lebron has less to do with aesthetics and more to do with what he represents. To me, Lebron is like the Alex Rodriguez of the NBA. Both are prodigious, talented, hard-working individuals who hit the genetic lottery, but were also often chided (sometimes unfairly) for the robotic way they navigate through media relations.

Watch either player sit through a press conference, and you’ll notice that both men tend (ed) to give the same sort of innocuous/politically correct answers. Yet, despite meticulous attention to their brands, approval ratings and public persona, both managed to clumsily stumble at various points in their careers.

Fans in cities like Seattle and Texas felt alienated by Rodriguez’s large contracts which made it impossible to surround him with talent. This was right before he went to the most hated franchise in baseball. His legacy was cemented in stone once the BALCO story broke, and he was implicated along with other steroid users. If people don’t bring this up, they my allude to the time he tried to slap a baseball out of a player’s mitt as he ran down the base line.

Lebron’s fall from media darling status wasn’t nearly as drastic as A-Rod’s. He simply made a poor “decision” (lest we not forget that it netted the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland a nice sum of money–almost like a break up gift) that people don’t want to let go of. But unlike most of the Lebron haters, my disdain for Lebron has very little to do with “The Decision” but with the various shades of busterdom he has displayed throughout his career.

Exhibit A: Busters of A Feather

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Consider Lebron’s best friends in the league are Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade. Carmelo over the course of the summer has proven himself to be an alright dude, but there is legitimate evidence that CP3 and D-Wade are sociopaths.

People got bent out of shape last Finals when Lebron’s balls got flicked (people called it a punch, but trust me if you were in a prison fight, there is no way you’d use Draymond Green’s method of attack to stave off your opponent), but Chris Paul’s dirty reputation goes all the way back to his days at Wake Forest when he punched Julius Hodge in the family jewels.

Wade himself broke Kobe Bryant’s nose during an All Star game, and he still to this day has no remorse for purposely dislocating Rajon Rondo’s arm during the 2013 playoffs. Wade and Paul will do anything to win and don’t care if it is cheating, but only care if they get caught. This alone makes him suspect in my eyes.

Exhibit B: Dude is a Phony, and Low Key Corny

Anyone remember those old clips where Lebron would say some corny ass shit in the locker room huddle right before they hit the floor? There was something about his tone that always seemed disingenuous to me. Lebron has always had a way of saying exactly the right thing, but things always seemed off. Its like there is a telepromptor living inside his head 24-7.

Did anyone actually believed it when he basically told the media that any locker room he plays in is basically G rated conversation about business and family? He must be a faster player than we thought to the point where he can overhear and redirect any and all conversations that deviates into the NSFW realm? Give me a fucking break. He is teammates with J.R. “You tryna get the pipe?” Smith. There are at least 15 different conversations going on in a men’s locker room. I find it incredibly hard to believe that noone of these hyper-aggressive men have never once talked about women in way that was less than flattering. FOH with that BS Lebron.

I actually can only recall two occasions where I thought, damn maybe this man is human. One was the first championship he got in Miami, where he was dancing and getting hype on the bench as they had quelled the threat of RUN OKC (forever and ever amen), and the other was this past game 7 where he went full Michael Jordan mode, and bawled  like a baby after the buzzer sounded. That was actually kind of cool.

Exhibit C: Dude is a Frontrunner

When Lebron first got to the league, he was invited to an Indians game by ownership, and homie had the gall to wear a New York Yankees cap. When questioned about it, his reply was, “Yankees are my favorite team and the Cowboys are my favorite football team..” No harm there. The Cowboys are America’s team so I understand how that can happen, and sure, those late 90’s Yankees teams were incredible, so I get that too.

Fast forward to this year’s baseball playoffs, and Lebron is all about the Cleveland Indians. OH WORDDDD????? If you think about it though, it makes sense. He leaves the Cavs for a better situation in Miami, and wins two titles there with his “Super Friends” crew. Then when they get demolished in the 2014 Finals and it looks like they may be too old to win another title, he bounces to Cleveland and forms another super team to help him get back to the Finals.

Exhibit D: What Does Lebron Really Stand For?

You hear all kinds of PR about the good that Lebron does the community of Cleveland–especially for kids– but anytime he has had a chance to leverage his massive influence he has said nothing. I’ll give the man credit for being an incredible businessman and bringing so many jobs and businesses to the “land”.

Yet,we heard nothing from him when 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by police for having a toy gun (think about it. This could have easily happened to a 12 year old Lebron, forver altering the history of the state of Ohio). We heard him say nothing about the other unfortunate killings of black civilians by police in his home state (an open carry state mind you), but sure enough,  he publicly endorses the Clinton family, who during Bill Clintons’ years in office, helped create an environment in this country where blacks are criminalized (with the 3 strikes law and increase of private prisons).

This guy can’t even speak out about the Indians using and making money from merchandise using racist mascot Chief Wahoo (and if you think that this denigration matters not then you haven’t been keeping up with the events occurring in North Dakota). Lebron could use his platform to speak out against many injustices but Lebron only cares about what affects his bottom line and the legacy of his “kingdom.”

Those are just four small snapshots of instances where I feel Lebron has shown  his busterish (at best) tendencies. I’ve already mentioned in past posts about how weak he was for crying about Draymond calling “him out of his name” and lobbying to get Warriors players suspended, so there is no need to revisit those incidents.

We could also talk about his most recent comments where he says that players team up so they can have a chance to beat him, or we could talk about his post 2011 Finals (following a loss to Dallas) comments in reference to his haters. I’m not going to come out and say the man is a full-blown buster, but he is definitely on the buster spectrum. I’ll gladly take rebuttals for anyone wanting to cape for the man, but I’d advise you to save it.

Because unless you are on his payroll, or he is on yours, he doesn’t give a shit what you (or I for that matter) think, and you know what, he probably shouldn’t. But this should not come as a surprise to all of you Lebron sycophants. These narcissistic tendencies have always been there;we all just ignored them.

BM

Good Ass Games of the Week are below:

Monday

No Good Ass Games Scheduled

Tuesday

Houston at Cleveland

Los Angeles Lakers at Indiana

Sacramento at Miami

Utah at San Antonio

Golden State at Portland

Wednesday

Dallas at Utah

Portland at Phoenix

Thursday

Boston at Cleveland 

Oklahoma City at Golden State (Good Ass Game of the Week)

Friday

Portland at Dallas

Golden State at Los Angeles Lakers

Saturday

Minnesota at Oklahoma City

Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio 

Sunday

Sacramento at Toronto

Portland at Memphis

Phoenix at Los Angeles

Buster(s) of the Week: NBA LEAGUE PASS. Having to part ways with NBA League pass was one of the most painful breakups I have experienced since I was in college. Whoever is in charge of digital content over at NBA media has never heard the axiom, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Last year’s version was way more user-friendly. This year’s version doesn’t include the Hardwood Classics option, and I’ve talked to at least a handful of people who also feel my pain concerning bandwidth and streaming accessibility. NBA LEAGUE PASS is a rip off. Unless you have a MAC, don’t get it. Save yourself the money, because it is not worth the frustration.

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 FullsassStudios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

2016-2017 Season Preview: Top 26 Storylines Part One

[This preview also appears as a post on fullsass.com. What does Fullsass mean? Well check it out for yourself.] 

All Illustrations by Louis Eastman

We are only a few days away from the beginning of training camp, time to dust off the cobwebs and fire it back up. Although the biggest story of the off-season was the Kevin Durant free agency, there are plenty of other story lines to follow this year. I’ve listed (from A-Z ) the ones that I find the most compelling for the 2016-2017 season.

Amin Elhassan fullsizerender-4

ESPN’s most merciless twitter troll is a must follow this season.

Amin is great not only for his tendency to roast any unlucky soul stupid enough to tweet some dumb shit, but also for his great insight into how things operate behind the NBA scenes. Having worked in both the Knicks and Suns front office before his stop at ESPN, Elhassan is a wealth of insider knowledge.

What I love most about him is that he does not hold back in any of his funny–but often wickedly straight forward analysis. His creation of the #Pitino game is one the more underappreciated social media phenomenons you’ll experience during playoff elimination games. #Pitino game is just as a part of the playoff pageantry as TNT’s Gone Fishing segments, but more interactive and way more clever. 

Buddy Hield

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Back in 2015 he simply slid into place. Buddy Buddy Buddy All up in my face.

Is Buddy Hield the Real Deal Holyfield? Inquiring minds want to know. It is a little too early to anoint him as the sidekick to Anthony Davis, but if Hield shoots as well as his reputation suggests, then this could be a good working relationship for the two. Hield wasn’t exactly a defensive stopper in college, but that hasn’t kept James Harden from receiving tons of (mostly deserved) accolades. He could be a nice small ball option for Pelican’s coach, Alvin Gentry, who is looking at a very thin back court-especially with Jrue Holiday absent from the team for personal reasons. 

Celtics Are Legit Contenders

Had the C’s managed to get Horford and Durant this off-season, you could have  penciled them in for the NBA Finals (and I doubt anyone one would have argued with you). As it stands, they only have two reliable scorers, Isiah Thomas and Horford (who has never averaged a 20 and 10 at any point in his career). Isiah Thomas is great at getting his own shot, but he isn’t much of a distributor.

Avery Bradley is an all NBA defender, but anything he gives you on offense is considered icing on the cake (Bruce Bowen 2.0?), and their outside shooting is too reliant upon Kelly Olynk shooting a high percentage. I think they are still two really good players away, or one superstar and a role player (probably a backup pg) away from being in the conversation to knock off the Lebrons for the Eastern Conference crown.

Draymond Green

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Steph Curry may be the league MVP, but I think the team MVP for the Golden State Warriors is Draymond Green. Klay Thompson, Curry, and Green are all irreplaceable, but the intangibles that Dray provide for that team are immeasurable. The league’s decision to suspend him changed the course of that series, as the Warriors were dead in the water after game 5. Regardless, had Dray kept his head, the hometown of Jive Ass Don King would still be without a title today. 

Had we laid money on “Finals player most likely to send pictures of their ding-dong to all their Snapchat followers”, most people would have place their bets on J.R. Smith. I think the public opinion of Draymond Green will be cemented for the rest of his career, according to how he performs both on and off the court this season. The Warriors need his fire, but he has to learn to harness it if they are going to get back to the Finals.

Everybody Eats This Season 

The NBA has never been a better league to play in. Owners are making money hand over fist. The league just signed a lucrative television deal that allows even scrubs *ahem* players like Matthew Dellavedova to cash in a meal ticket. Allen Crabbe made 70 million to stay in Portland.

The Grizzlies’ Mike Conley leveraged his way into a 153 million dollar contract and for a couple of months, was the highest paid player in league history. This year’s 90 million dollar salary cap is only going to get larger (reportedly $118 million next season), so dudes are about to get paid. Now that everybody is eating, let’s start taking bets on who will eat themselves out of the league.

Finals Rematch (Again)

We can just stop this right now huh? No need to even play the season out. Forget preseason. Let’s put it on simulation mode like NBA Live 95? Barring any major injuries, I don’t see how anyone out west beats Golden State, or anyone out east beating Lebron.

I’m looking forward to the rubber match between these two teams. Kevin Durant is going to be the deadliest 4th option you’ve ever seen in the NBA Finals. The running thread all season will be “If Lebron beats the GSW super team will he be the greatest?” or “Will this championship validate KD’s career even though he joined a super team?” I personally don’t blame Durant or the Warriors for signing him. I bet it sucks losing to Lebron, but I bet it sucks even more losing to him after getting spotted a 3-1 series lead. This is the best reoccurring story line since Lakers vs.Celtics last decade. Stay tuned.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Playing The Point 

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I’m not saying the Bucks will be in the Eastern Conference Finals. I’m not saying that I think they will get back in the playoffs. I’m not even saying they will be fun to watch, but there will be at least 20 nights this season where Giannis does something to make Sportscenter top 10 highlights. 

Harrison Barnes: The 94 Million Dollar Man

I personally think Barnes will do well in Dallas. The city has a way of being a decent stop for exorbitantly rich black athletes (if they perform decently ). Of course, you have to wonder what is considered reasonable expectations for a contract like the one Barnes signed. For what it is worth Mavs fans, he will be a better investment than Roy Tarpley, Cherokee Parks, Erick Dampier and Shawn Bradley all put together. He can’t be any worse………right?

Iggy’s back  

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No I am not talking about the Nick Young’s ex fiancee’s booty (although it makes for an interesting google search #therabbithole). If Andre Iguodala is unhealthy, forget about the Warriors getting a chip for Kevin Durant. Iggy is one of their best defenders, and he was the guy who guarded both Durant and Lebron down the stretch of last year’s playoffs. By the time games 6 and 7 of the Finals came around, he was gassed (who is to say that a healthy Iggy doesn’t try and dunk the ball on that infamous Lebron chase down block?). 

Now that Durant is a teammate, there is no one in the west (outside of Kawhi Leonard) to push him defensively. Theoretically, he should be fresh for his Finals dance with Lebron. Then again, 30-year-old backs are more fickle than 23-year-old girlfriends. You never know how things will flare up from night to night. 

 

The 3 J’s (reboot)

My dude Joakim Noah is back in his hometown playing for the Knicks. No matter how he does on the floor, homie is going to be slaying it off the court. It is good to see Jeff Hornacek get another head coaching shot. He got a raw deal in Phoenix. Robert Sarver pulled the old bait and switch with Hornacek. The Suns front office didn’t bring back key players, but kept expecting the same results . It was unfair to everyone involved; Hornacek, the players, the fans, and League Pass subscribers who were unexpectedly treated to a near playoff run in 2014.

As for Phil, no one could figure out why the hell he hired Derek Fisher; but he corrected that mistake by firing D-Fish midway through the season. This is his third and most pivotal season as Knicks GM, because if they suck again this year, it will be tough to lure free agents to sign with the club next season. 

Are they going to make the playoffs? Maybe, if 40 wins is enough to get in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Courtney Lee was a good pickup, and Derrick Rose may be able to add some punch if he can find the basketball court, and stay out of the criminal court. Rose thinks they have a super team in New York, but kind of like the word consent,there may be some confusion as to what the definition of a super team is.

40 wins for this roster would be the equivalent of making the Finals. I’d play with them on NBA2K, because you don’t really need subs on a video game, but in real life, their bench is thin. Pencil them in for 30 wins.

Klay “ I’m Not Sacrificing Shit” Thompson

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I’ll fight anyone who says he isn’t the best 2 guard in the league. He may not be able to attack the rim like Demar Derozan (apparently the 46th best player in the NBA), but the man is the best defensive 2 guard; and his shot is wet. He is Ron Harper with a knock down J. Klay Thompson only benefits from the arrival of Kevin Durant.

TO BE CONTINUED:

 

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

Believeland Pt. 3 : The Cleveland Curse Has Lifted

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We finally got the #Goodassgame we all deserved. With so much history on the line, game 7 of this year’s NBA Finals felt like an NCAA title game on steroids. Conventional NBA wisdom states that the home team usually wins because role players don’t travel. Well this was not the case last night. Everyone who played chipped in for Cleveland.

Kevin Love got 7 rebounds in the first quarter alone, pulling in 14 total for the game. J.R. Smith, who’d been playing solid defense all series, played 38 minutes and threw in 12 points on offense. Kyrie Irving started out slow, but picked it up in the second half, scoring whenever the Cavs needed an answer on the court.

Tyron Lue shortened his bench to an 8 man rotation, with Mo Williams logging a team low 4:45. Lebron an ironman with an iron will logged a team high 46 minutes and 49 seconds. The man looked absolutely gassed during one TV timeout and yet still, he managed to pull off one of the sickest chase down blocks in playoff history.

Say what you will about Lebron James (and I have–he’ll never live down lobbying for suspensions of both Steph Curry and Draymond Green #fuckboishit), but you can’t ever say he never shows up for big games. After logging another triple double (don’t get too hung up on the 9/24 shooting) to put the Kyrie in a position to hit the game winning three pointer, with less than a minute left, Lebron won what should have been his second of back-to-back  Finals MVP’s.

All that being said, the Warriors should not have let the game get this close. They threw away possessions, they couldn’t squeeze the 50-50 balls, they had turnover after turnover during fast breaks where they had numbers, and gave the Cavs too many extra possessions. Golden State had been playing with fire all post season, and it finally caught up to them. I just had this feeling the whole game that if the Warriors were not leading by at least 5 baskets during crunch time, that the Cavs were going to find a way to win.

While Tyronn Lue  wasn’t exactly Coach of the Year material, he did enough to give Cleveland a chance to win this thing. You could tell around game 3 that he finally figured out how to use his chess pieces. Shortening his bench was a very smart move, Matthew Dellavadova was a liability every time he was on the court. Channing Frye gave up more backdoor than–never mind that’s just too easy of a joke to make.

Keeping Tristan Thompson on the floor kept the Warriors from going small, and when Andre Bogut got hurt (an underrated passer in addition to his defense and rebounding), it spelled trouble for the Warriors. Festus Ezeli is a much better player when he can just catch lobs, and any time Anderson Verajao touched the ball for more than a second, a disaster occurred.

The lack of contribution of the role players in the last two series really surprised me this post season. All season long, this was Golden State’s biggest advantage over teams, and for whatever reason, they showed up to the party without even bringing a case of beer. Harrison Barnes stunk up the joint, and probably played his last game in a Golden State uniform (Kevin Durant to the Warriors may not be as far-fetched as it originally sounded–he was exactly what they needed against Cleveland. There would have been no answer for that puzzle piece).

The role players who seemed to make the most impact didn’t get much run. Leandro Barbosa (+5), Shaun Livingston (+8), and Mo Speights (+3) only played a combined 20 minutes; with Livingston getting 16 of them. I ride for Steve Kerr. He possesses one of the most intelligent basketball minds in the game today, but he made some head scratching decisions down the stretch–mainly playing Ezeli, Verajo and Barnes too much, when it was clear they weren’t going to get it done.

For my money, the turning point in that game was when Festus Ezeli got caught on a switch, and bit on the Lebron James pump fake (way out on the perimeter) that netted James three free throw attempts. Lebron hit all three, the Warriors failed to score the next time down, and then Cleveland scored with a Kyrie Irving bucket to tie it on the next possession. That was the last time in the game that Golden State had command, as things got tight for both teams for a 4 minute scoreless stretch. The Warriors quit passing, and quit moving without the ball, and became a jump shooting team that couldn’t get shots to fall. Which again, maybe the bench guys should have played more, because you know, starters get tired in these type of games.

This was akin to the Seahawks-Patriots Super Bowl 2 years ago, where Seattle should have blown New England out, but the minor details allowed Tom Brady and company to hang in there long enough to figure out a way to win.

It is hard to feel sorry for Golden State. I can see why they were becoming so hated outside of Dub Nation. The bandwagon fandom surrounding their hype machine was getting tiresome (half of them Lakers fans wanting to latch onto a winner). They were depending on Andrew Bogut to remain healthy for 2 years in a row, with a front court that even the ’93 Suns would think was suspect. Their owner went on the New York Times bragging about how their organization was “light years ahead of everyone else”, and even hinted about a menage a trois with last year’s Finals Trophy (and to think people put their lips on that thing). Their star guard kept tempting the basketball gods with his circus plays and trick shots, haughtily laughing every time he ripped out the hearts of teams and fan bases alike. To be up 3-1, and to lose in this matter, is the most excruciatingly extreme serving of humble pie that can ever be served to a team. The Warriors got what they deserved, and if there is anybody I do feel for, it is the true blue fans who were coming to the games even when they sucked–the ones who seemed crazy for believing that they could beat the #1 seeded Mavericks in 2007.

I’ll be the first to say that the Draymond Green suspension was horseshit. How Dellavadova’s nutshot constituted a common foul and Draymond’s incidental contact merited a flagrant foul is beyond me. We can say that is why they lost, but there is a reason teams employ the “next man up” philosophy (NFL careers were birthed from this philosophy at the “U”). Golden State just wasn’t as good as we (or they) thought they were.

You have to give credit where credit is due. Cleveland stepped up their game when they needed to,and the Warriors played as if they were still facing the Blazers (no disrespect). Years from now, we will remember that Lebron James took a shoot first, one assist having ass point guard, an embarrassingly bad, and one-dimensional power forward, J.R. “You trying to get the pipe” Smith (someone who Chauncey Billups once famously asked George Karl to “get him the fuck out of the game”) –the textbook definition of an NBA knucklehead, Richard Jefferson’s honeycomb eating looking ass, and a bunch of other nobodies, and won a championship for one of the most cursed sports cities in the history of cursed sports cities.

If Lebron retired tomorrow, this would be enough to get him in the Hall of Fame. Last year, Lebron was John Henry, this year he is Paul Bunyan. Even a hater like me has to respect that. This man has not missed an NBA Finals since 2010, and guess what people? Barring a seismic shift in the east, he’ll probably be back next year. I would not be surprised if it is against Golden State again either. But that is for an NBA Preview to be written later.

Despite all the hullabaloo about Cleveland and Lebron and curses, let us not forget who the real winner was last night: Oscar Robertson. To borrow a phrase from Jason Whitlock, he was probably “watching last night’s game, cackling while rolling up a blunt.” Cleveland’s perimeter defense smothered the Splash Brothers by getting up in them and picking them up at half court–exactly the type of defense Robertson said was needed to contain those beige muthafuckas. Respect to the “Big O” and his hating ass.

Since we are at it, the biggest L goes to Under Armour, whose poster boys, Cam Newton and Steph Curry could not get it done this year when it counted the most. To quote Mars Blackmon, “is it the shoes?”

All jokes aside, this has been year 3 of this blog, and thanks to all of you who take the time to read this bullshit. This was easily the least work, and most fun of all the seasons of writing this. I may actually be getting the hang of this. Also big ups to my podcast partner, Craig Stein for starting the FullSass Podcast with me. It has been both a fun and invigorating project, and I look forward to stepping up the sass level to something fuller next season. One last shout out goes out to the PDXPats crew for all the inspiration and competition. I look forward to being on the show again, and I promise we won’t write anymore diss records if you don’t give us a reason to.

It’s been real folks. Now go out there and get some sunshine and fresh air, and live like normal folk. #Ballislife, but there is also life outside of ball.

 

Peace,

BM

#fullsass #thisagoodassgame

@clickpicka79

thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

 

Believeland Pt. 2

Yikes. This series has sucked. There has not been a close game yet; the best we’ve seen is a game 4 first half that ended in a 61-61 score. It has been a very intense series however, and thus highly illuminating. What have we learned?

  1. Cleveland fans deserve every horrible sports trauma that has come their way. These past two weeks every insufferable, pathetic schmuck I’ve come across from Cleveland made me wish that the city and all of its sports teams just fall into Lake Erie. One Cleveland ex pat had the gall to ask me if Chief Wahoo offended me because I was Native American. I responded “No it offends me because I’m a human being.” He didn’t get it. I hope that city never wins ANY kind of championship. I don’t care if its team ping-pong, curling, or MLS soccer. lbj-crying-again
  2. Lebron is a whiny bitch. How can a man so powerful and so great be such a fucking whiner? This guy steps over another player (one of the most disrespectful things to do to another person–just ask Lebron’s coach) and gets riled up when that player calls him a bitch. I’m not saying the (flick?) in the balls was justified, but compared to the ball slaps and “Mitch Cup Checks” that everyone else has endured, how can anyone with a straight face say that deserved a flagrant foul upgrade? If there was a pivotal point in the series, this was clearly the series turning event. Oh by the way, Lebron lobbied the league to suspend Draymond Green for 2 games for that little “flick of tha wrist.” Lebron is an incredible player, but I’ve lost all respect for him as a competitor. This, and the way he has been manhandling Steph Curry has shown me that the man has no sportsmanship. I won’t even go into how he should be called for an offensive foul every time he throws an elbow on the people guarding him. Seriously, fuck that guy.
  3. Golden State is not the best team of all time. This series should have been over in five games. The role players have disappeared time and time again the last 2 rounds. No one has consistently stepped up when the moment called for it. I expected Harrison Barnes to deliver in the clutch in game 5 when Green was suspended. Festus Ezeli has been terrible, and Speights has been non-existent. With Andrew Bogut out for the series, the Warriors desperately need the bigs to get BIG. If they don’t show up Sunday night, it’s going to be a shitty Father’s Day for the Dubs. They might get drove, because Tristan Thompson is not going to let up, and neither will “LeBitch” James. I think this has been the impetus for the Warriors not executing their offense. Their shots made from assists have gone drastically down, and Klay and Steph have been relegated to shooting contested three pointers. I think the trust factor is the reason they have been just chucking it up and running back on D, after Cleveland gets a rebound. That record-breaking Chicago team would’ve handled them in 6 games.
  4. The refs have been terrible all playoffs, but they have really outdone themselves in the Finals. This is the best the NBA could come up with? No one knows what a foul is from one play to another. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just keep the best crew on for the whole series? How about that for some much-needed consistency? I swear to God I will fucking throw my glass of ginger ale if this game 7 is decided by some shitty officiating.
  5. Lastly, if anyone is wondering what happened to the Warriors home court advantage, then I will direct them to Darren Rovell’s twitter account. These tickets are beyond Super Bowl prices, and the rich casual fans are ruining the atmosphere of what was once the hardest building for opposing teams to get a W. Sadly this is just a preview of what home games will be like when they move across to San Francisco. So techie bros, when you are asking how the NBA’s best regular season team of all time dropped 2 home games in the Finals (Frankly any team that does this deserves an L), just look in the mirror. All the real, and hard-core Dubs fans are not in the building. They are the ones who know how to affect the outcome of a game. The people in the stands were on pins and needles in game 5, and I’m convinced that nervous energy seeped onto the court.

Normally I would say game 7 favors the home team, but I am not as confident in the Warriors as I was 3 games ago. The only thing keeping me from picking Cleveland in game 7 is the fact that they rep Cleveland. What could be more Clevelandish than them going down 3-1, busting their asses to get a game 7, and then shitting the bed in the most heartbreaking way?

jose-mesa

Quick story: During this year’s past football season, I was at a bar with some buddies watching the Browns-Ravens game on Monday night. It was an absolute travesty to watch, but I happened to be there for a hoops game, and decided to watch the 4th quarter. The game was terrible, and both teams were tied 27-27 (trust me, it wasn’t nearly as exciting as the score would indicate), but Cleveland lined up for a sure-fire game winning field goal as time expired.

Right before the snap, my buddy says “You know what would be funny? If the Ravens blocked this kick and returned it for a touchdown.” I then said, ” Man that would be the most Cleveland-est way for them to lose the game.”

Guess what happened. Yep. Cleveland found a new way to blow a sure win. In the tradition of Earnest Byner, and Jose Mesa, someone on the Cavaliers is going to find a new way to break this fanbases heart, and I will be elated. My money is on Kevin Love or J.R. Smith. And if I’m wrong, and the Cavs win this series, then Lebron James is the greatest player we’ve ever “witnessed” play, AND I will buy a Lebron jersey to play pickup in–along with a headband accessory– for the rest of the year, until the next basketball season starts. But no matter what, I will forever in my heart feel that he pulled some bitch shit this series, and he will one day get his comeuppance. Schadenfreude can be so sweet if you open your heart to it. He won’t be the best player forever. Even Jordan got his ankles broken.

Enjoy the last game of the season.

 

BM

@clickpicka79

#thisagoodassgame #fullsass

thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

 

 

REMATCH

Before I break down the NBA Finals rematch between the Cavs and the Warriors, I gotta give it up to the Oklahoma City Thunder. As busterish as they have become, they balled out this post-season.

Steven Adams may have been the biggest surprise. He went from role player to key player this year, and he may soon be the third most important player on this team. Like most people, it was easy to get blinded by the fast start of the Spurs and Warriors. Oklahoma City was a threat to both of those teams, but it was difficult to take the Thunder seriously because of the way they lost games to inferior teams in the regular season.

Even if Andre Roberson spends the summer taking 400 3 pointers a day, I don’t see him being more than a Thabo Sefalosha 2.0. They could use a consistent 3rd scorer, and they can bring Kanter and Waiters off the bench next year and be back in the Western Conference Finals next year (assuming Mike Conley doesn’t go to San Antonio).  But for real, I got a little bit more respect for the Thunder after this post-season.

 

Good Ass Games of the Week:

Cleveland vs. Golden State  Best of 7

Games 1,2,5,and 7 in Oakland

Games 3,4, and 6 in Cleveland

 

People are saying that these are the same teams from last year, except that Cleveland is healthy. This is true to some degree, but both teams are actually better than last year. Cleveland not only has a healthy Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, but they also have Channing Frye to bring off the bench as a 3 point threat. Now that Cleveland has these three weapons on offense, I’m going to ask this question: Who are they going to guard?

People assume that Game 1 of last year’s Finals would have automatically gone to Cleveland had Irving not been injured, but he was getting roasted on the other end of the court by Steph Curry. Kevin Love should send a Derek Jeter style gift basket to James Harden for taking attention away from his own poor defense. One could argue that they were better defensively up front last year when Love hurt his shoulder.

In order not to get swept in this series, Cleveland needs to do 3 basic things:

  1. Win the 3 point battle. Easier said than done right? Besides chasing the Dubs off the 3 point line and forcing them to take 2’s, Cleveland will need Channing Frye and J.R. Smith to stretch the Warrior D by continuing to hit from outside the arc. This would of course, open up the floor for Kyrie and Lebron to attack the rim and put the Warriors bigs in foul trouble.
  2. Force the Warriors to turn the ball over. The Cavs love to get out running in transition and get easy baskets (dunks). This is exactly how the Thunder pushed the Dubs to the brink of elimination. The Warriors can’t be casual with the ball like they were last round. Hopefully that was their wake up call.
  3. Get Big. Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love need to get double-digit boards every night if they hope to have a chance. Thompson’s effectiveness as a rim protector may be compromised if “Mo Buckets” Speights can get loose with his jump shot. I’m curious what counter will Tyronn Lue uses if this problem arises. Timofey Mosgov may or may not get some run this series.

carl-aqua-teen-al-davis

I’m interested how the cupcake opponents and long layoff will affect the Cavaliers. It is hard to simulate the kind of intensity that the Warriors had to muster to come out of the last round. I would not be surprised if the first half is won easily by the Warriors. I don’t see Game 1 being an overtime thriller like last year (I’m also the same guy who said Warriors in 5 last round). Also would anyone be surprised if Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving got injured and missed a game or two this series?

I think the Warriors will in this in 5 games, and I’m only saying 5 out of respect for Lebron James. They’ll win at least one at home in Cleveland.

 

BM

@clickpicka79

#thisagoodassgame #fullsass

thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

 

Fool’s Gold and Other Crazy Theories

Before we start the Western Conference Finals preview, I want to congratulate the 2015-2016 Spurs on a great regular season. Having broken the franchise record for wins, and securing the second best record in the league this season, a 2nd round knockout would appear to most people as a disappointing season. No doubt there is a sour taste for most Spurs fans, but to put things in perspective, this wasn’t a choke-job for San Antonio. They are just finally “too old.”

This didn’t just magically happen a couple of weeks ago, they’ve been that way. It just finally got exposed. Anyway who watched the Spurs play the Cavs, Warriors, or Thunder this season, could see the nicks in their armor if they looked hard enough. During the regular season, the Spurs had beaten a Curry–less Warriors team once in 4 games, the Thunder once in two games, and the Cavs once out of 2 contests.

The Spurs are old, their once mighty backcourt appeared slow and undersized against the top dogs, and they still managed to eke out 67 wins. That is a mixture of superior coaching, a watered down league this year, and highly intelligent ballplayers. What San Antonio lacked in size and speed, they made up for in technique and basketball I.Q. But let’s face it folks, basketball smarts can only get you so far in the vertical game.

The Thunder were stronger, and faster than the Spurs who got outhustled and outmuscled. Those two things are forgivable. What I did not expect was for the Thunder to outthink the Spurs.50-50 balls fell out-of-bounds, instead of Spurs players grabbing them–they would leave the refs to make a call on possession almost every time this happened. I was also surprised at all the hero ball I saw from players trying to make double and triple moves down in the post instead of working the ball around for a better shot. Role players like Boris Diaw, David West, and Patty Mills were largely ineffective. Danny Green has played well enough on defense, but San Antonio needed him to shoot better.

One big silver (and black?) lining to take from Game 6 was the incredible second half effort by the Spurs (led by Andre Miller and Tim Duncan) that got them to within 11 points. They’d fallen behind by 27 points and though a comeback was feasible, San Antonio could have easily laid down like a more busterish team would have done.

I consider those 67 wins to be Fool’s Gold. The league this year just wasn’t that good outside of the top 4 teams, and it was only a matter of time until the Spurs played a team younger, faster, and more superstar driven. This may sound crazy, but maybe they OVERachieved this season.

One of the main subplots to this year was “will this be the last run for Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili?” I may sound crazy for a second time in two paragraphs, but I think these guys still have something to offer. If there were a way for Popovich to work the roster to where Timmy, Manu, and Tony came off the bench, I would like to see it.

Neither of them are superstars any longer, but they are still good, serviceable players in small doses. Couple that with their veteran leadership, and you have something to keep them around for. Unlike guys like Iverson and Kobe, I think the Spurs big 3 realize their limitations. As elder statesman of the NBA, it would still be cool to see them around, and know they are on the bench, and in the locker rooms, pulling pranks and giving advice.

The Spurs will have to do something different going forward however, Boris Diaw isn’t getting any younger, Danny Green is who he is as a player, and it seems crazy to expect him to get much better. Rumors are swirling about Mike Conley Jr, and Pau Gasol moving down to San Antonio. Those would be good acquisitions, but free agency is always crazy, and you never know which of the younger guys on the Spurs roster will make a leap in the Summer Leagues. But forget all that noise, we still got basketball to watch THIS year.

I won’t even bother going into the Eastern Conference Finals, because you know, Cleveland.

Golden State vs. Oklahoma City will easily be the Good Ass Games of the Week, beginning tonight in about 15 minutes (so pardon any typos or grammar errors–I’m tryna get this shit done in time to watch tipoff).

How the Thunder can win

 

It will be easy to get caught up in the hype of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (yes yes we know–two of the five best players in the league) but its the role players who stepped up big time for the Thunder last round versus the Spurs. Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, Andre Roberson, and (yes) Dion Waiters all chipped in to make the Thunder play the best they have played all season.

They will need that to continue in order to compete for the Western Conference championship. You already can count on the 60-70 points combined by Durant and Westbrook. The biggest question is where will the other points come from. Adams got some easy buckets against the Spurs off of stray rebounds and alley-oops. KD and Russ will need to find a way for him to get 2-3 easy buckets a game.

During the home game that they lost back in February (the OT loss), the Thunder outrebounded the Warriors by 30 boards and still lost. That is unheard of. They will have to continue pounding the glass with their big frontline of Ibaka, Adams, and Kanter if they want to limit the Warriors possessions.

Lastly, the Thunder will have to take care of the ball. Turnovers are costly against any team, they are deadly against the Warriors, who have no problem converting a steal, or a poor shot, into a dunk or 3 point bucket. The Warriors are already efficient in their half court sets, not taking care of the rock is basically handing them points.

 

Why the Thunder won’t win

 

Besides sporting the best shooting backcourt of all time in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson,  the Warriors happen to have an undersized power forward out of Michigan State, who also doubles as a top 10 player in the league. Though Thunder may have an advantage with their bigs (with an ailing Bogut and clumsy Anderson Verajao) they will have no answer for Draymond Green. I cannot wait to see the Ibaka vs. Green matchup in the low post and on the 3 point line. Dray is going to eat, if Donovan rolls out the Kanter, Adams front line with Waiters, Durant, and Westbrook on the wings. Also, don’t sleep on 3 point threat Marreese Speights, who has no problem hoisting one up.

Russell Westbrook is going to have to play defense this series in a pick your poison scenario of guarding Curry or Thompson. The Thunder don’t have a deep bench when it comes to their guards. If Kyle Singler sees a minute of this series, I’ll be shocked, and Cameron Payne may get his lunch money taken from him if he sees more than 20 minutes a game.

If that weren’t enough, the Warriors sport a large mismatch anytime Harrison Barnes is on the floor, and Steve Kerr (coaching advantage:Dubs) can bring Andre Iguodala or Shaun Livingston off the bench anytime he needs to spell someone. Brandon Rush, and Leandro Barbosa will see significant minutes against whatever scrub the Thunder roll out, both are luxuries that Gregg Popovich did not have against Oklahoma City.

I think at least 4 of the games will be decided by 6 points or less, but I have the Warriors winning in 5 games. I think the Thunder found a favorable matchup last round, and their luck will run out against the defending champs. What we saw against the Spurs was an aberration and not a trend. This is not meant to disrespect to the Thunder, or their fanbase (though I am hearing a lot of Thunder in 7 predictions). I think OKC provides the best possible matchup for what I expect to be a thrilling Western Conference Finals.

Buen Provecho,

BM

Thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

#fullsass #thisagoodassgame