Easin’ into the Grind

I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to watch NBA this season. The number of games I want to catch up on are piling up. The bandwidth at my local Starbucks is weak, and I’m afraid that if I get internet at my house that I’ll become a hermit. By December, I’ll be a bit more adjusted, and will have caught my breath by winter break. I plan to devote at least 5-6 hours a day during this period to watching basketball. Only 4 more weeks until this is a reality. The marquee “Good Ass Game of the Week” matchups have been as good as advertised, but the biggest surprise to me is how much better ball is in the Eastern Conference. The quality of play is improved, and instead of 89-76 games, teams are actually scoring into the 100’s.

All that being said, I still fux with the Western Conference teams more heavily than the East–no doubt. Right now my favorite squads to watch are the Warriors (unreal the kind of ball they are playing. I don’t think an offense has generated this kind of round-the-league since the Showtime era Lakers), the Bulls (can actually stretch the floor with shooters), the Teen Wolves (could conceivably have two of the best 2 way players in the league someday with Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins–I’ve watched more games by them this year than I have in the entire KG “Big Ticket” era), Kings (those throwback powder blue jerseys are sick), and of course the Spurs.

This week Kawhi supplanted Kevin Durant as my favorite player in the NBA. Curry stays on at #2, while KD slips to three. Steph and KD are both electrifying to watch, but Leonard is slowly building up his case for being the best 2 way player in the game (after Lebron of course). But Lebron won’t be around forever, and we’re only 3-4 seasons away from Lebron’s body betraying him, making him merely great rather than otherworldly. Who’ll supplant Lebron? Well it could be any of these guys in no particular order:

Andrew Wiggins

Victor Oladipo

Jimmy Butler

Kawhi Leonard

Anthony Davis

Paul George

Anthony Towns

The NBA product is in good hands for the next 8-10 years. Let’s get to these games:

Monday

Portland-San Antonio 

This will be close for about 3 and a half quarters if we are lucky. Seriously though, if you like to watch good defenders, and you haven’t been watching Kawhi, do yourself a favor and peep. First hit is free, after that…….

OKC-Memphis

Always a good battle with these two teams. No Durant adds more pressure on the supporting cast to step it up, because you know Hustle Westbrook is going to fill the stat sheet.

“Tap That Vein” Tuesday

Minnesota-Miami 

Young guns. This will be a fun watch. I’m especially looking forward to the Towns-Whiteside face-off.

Toronto-Golden State

Warriors  gonna rock the “Throwbacks” that night. MMMMMPPPPPPPHHHHHHHH!!!!

[If College hoops gives you that buzz, then get on those Duke-Kentucky, Kansas-Michigan State games]

Wednesday

Sacramento-Atlanta

Even when the Kings get blown out, it lends for entertainment.

Dallas-Boston

This strikes me as the type of game one would live-tweet while watching.

Chicago-Phoenix

Suns just aren’t a hoops sexy team this year. It’ll still be a fun game though. Its good toe See Doug McDermott out on the court this year. Homie can ball.

Thursday

Sacramento-Miami

Cousins vs. Whiteside??? Insert “banging in the post” joke here. GO!!!

Milwaukee-Cleveland pt. Duex

The Bucks match up well with the Cavs. Imagine the length of Golden State without the outside shooting threats. That’s the Bucks.

Golden State vs. Lol Clippers “Good Ass Game of the Week”

Good night to make some chili on the crock pot, and stare at the computer (or tv) screen. Warriors have Bogut back for this one. I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I’d put money on Blake Griffin getting a tech this game.

Friday

Detroit-Minnesota 

Some young talent in this one. Andre Drummond vs. Karl Anthony Towns. Remember when they said big men in the post were a dying breed?

Spurs-New Orleans

To quote the great Jordan Paladino, “New Orleans is trash.” The only way I’ll be watching the Pelicans again this year is if they play a marquee  game. I know its early in the season, but not only do they not look like they’ve gotten better, but it seems like they regressed. Its pretty disappointing.

Clippers-Portland

Lillard against Chris Paul sounds slightly amusing. Its hard to watch the Trailblazers even with their sick back court. When Lillard and McCollum are off the floor, it feels like I’m watching a pickup game at the Lewis and Clark Recreation Center–especially with Plumlee, Leonard, and Connaughton on the team.

Chicago-Golden State “Good Ass Game of the Week PART 2”

Last February’s affair was one of the “Good Ass Games of the Year” in my book. I have three words for you: HIGH LEVEL BASKETBALL. Plus two of my favorite college players from back in the day are now coaching against each other. That is correct, I am old enough to have seen the “The Mayor” play in college. #DON”THATECUZYOULATE

Saturday

Sacramento-Orlando

This week definitely has some bite to it. Good ass games every single night. Orlando is pesky. Scott Skiles knows how to get the young bucks fired up to play. Its the veterans who get tired of his overbearing style though. This is the perfect situation for him. In 4 years, maybe not. He is like the Buck Showalter of NBA coaches.

Memphis-San Antonio

Memphis looks a step behind this year. I’d be shocked if this were a double overtime affair like last season. Then again, so was this shot.

Sunday

Definitely the kind of setting that would precipitate a live-tweet session.

Big Ups of the Week to the person who designed this year’s Mavs’ jerseys. Those are the best looking ones I’ve seen in al the years they been rocking them shits.

I wish I could say the same for the Thunder jerseys. HELL NAW!!!

They would get the Buster of the Week Award in a regular week, but last week’s events (the bombings in Lebanon, and the shootings in Paris), have me thinking more sobering thoughts. In order for a tragedy of last week’s magnitude to occur, it takes multiple parties have to be complicit.

I’m not naive enough to think that international conflict can be avoided. Its unavoidable. But the fact that people can’t go to a movie, or see their favorite band without fear of being shot in a public place is discomforting. We have to figure out a way to be better people towards each other. There’s no way around it.

One minute you are ordering a dish in French for the first time, and in the next breath, there can be bullets whizzing by your head.Life really is that fragile.

#shoothoopsnotpeople

Peace.

BM

#thisagoodassgame # fullsass

@clickpicka79

Fullsass.com

bobbymickey@gmail.com

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Guest Post By Jordan Paladino: Fuck Kevin Durant

[Editor’s Note: Although I don’t agree with ANY of the assertions posted below, I did find the piece to be funny and well written. It’s also the perfect counterpoint to today’s earlier post on RUN-OKC.] 

Kevin Durant is a six-time All Star, five time All-NBA First Teamer, Rookie of the Year in 2008, and NBA MVP in 2014. He also has the honor of being my least favorite player in the NBA.

Our star crossed hate stems from a place of honest and sincere love. Growing up in Portland, OR (Go Blazers, I guess), I remember being one of two kids in my high school that has hoping our home team Trail Blazers would draft Kevin Durant over Greg Oden (shoutout to David Skolnik, being on Team Durant with me).

As it became more and more clear that the Blazers would be drafting Greg Oden, the more I, a noted contrarian, doubled down on the Durant love. I would tell my classmates that Durant would be twice the player Oden was within two years of the draft.

Greg Oden famously missed more games than he played in Portland, and the rest was history on his end. When Kevin Durant was a lowly Seattle SuperSonic (R.I.P.) he was likable. He could light up the Clippers for 40 one night and torch the 15-67 Miami Heat on a back to back. The SuperSonics sucked in 2008, but Durant was fun to watch, even if no one was paying attention.

In the offseason of 2008, something changed. I remember it pretty clearly too. People were getting over their love of Kobe, LeBron was too popular, and Bill Simmons declared Durant to be his favorite player in the league. Durant started to become the hip and in vogue player to declare your favorite when pressed by inquiring and basketball loving minds.

I let my love of Durant dwindle as the populace started taking notice. By the time 2010-2011 rolled around and Durant was named to his first All-Star game, won his first scoring title, and would be the FIBA World Championship MVP if not for the NBA player who casual fans never appreciated as much as they should (for no real reason other than people suck), decided he was tired of his home team and decided to link up with the greatest Toronto Raptor of all time, and a former Finals MVP. I of course am speaking of LeBron James.

Yes, my hatred of Durant stems from my love of LeBron. Look, I admit it. I love LeBron, and now that a lot of NBA fans hate LeBron for doing something that we all would do (look for championships when we already had more money than we’d ever need), I loved LeBron even more. The select group of “smart” NBA fans (aka the ones who didn’t care that LeBron left Cleveland) took umbrage with Derrick “No Knees” Rose winning the 2011 MVP over the clearly superior James.

King James did not make it easy on himself that year though. “The Decision” was poorly planned, his desire to be the bad guy in front of booing fans, and his ever-growing headband all made him look like the kind of guy who didn’t really understand what he was doing to his public image, which he clearly cared very deeply about.

Once the 2011 playoffs kicked off, LeBron went to a level of play as an individual and as a teammate that I’d not seen since Michael Jordan. King James averaged (rounding up) 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists per game in a 4-1 trouncing of the Chicago Bulls (perennial underachievers since the departure of Jordan).

Rose scored less, shot worse, and turned the ball over more than LeBron, for those keeping score at home. Miami was ready for the Mavericks in the Finals, and should have won in no more than 6 games.

But LeBron lost his first trip to the Finals with the Heat in one of the most bizarre and un-starlike performances I’ve seen in my years of watching basketball. Dwyane Wade was Miami’s best player, by a mile, and LeBron played almost as poorly as Derrick Rose (yeah, I don’t like Derrick Rose at all) in the Conference Finals the round before. I was sad. LeBron’s stock had never been lower, and Durant’s had never been higher. Something had to come to a head.

The 2011-2012 NBA season wasn’t of great note, other than the fact that LeBron won the MVP, Durant lead Oklahoma City past the, at the time, best team I’d ever seen San Antonio Spurs, and Derrick Rose blew out his knee in the first playoff game he played in that postseason. Finally, I had what I wanted. I had my guy playing against my least favorite guy.

LeBron wiped the floor with Durant (who cried when they lost) and Russell Westbrook was the best player on OKC. I couldn’t have been happier. The 2012-2013 season came and went, with LeBron winning another MVP and another NBA Championship, and Durant being boring and uncool.

I loved LeBron as much as any NBA player I ever have and hated Durant as much as any professional athlete I have ever hated (except for athletes who beat women or commit murders). Durant started to buy in to his “I’m the second best, and i’m tired of it, bruh!” narrative.

The more that Durant lived life in the spotlight the more I started to hate him. He had the lamest coach in the NBA (Scott Brooks), the coolest teammate in the NBA (Russell Westbrook), and still had acne. Durant was caught using homophobic slurs, cheering on battle rappers, and beefing with the Based God (Lil B).

Surely this was enough to get people to start hating Durant, right? Wrong! He could do no wrong! It wasn’t his fault he played for a bad coach, it wasn’t his fault that Russ shot too much, it wasn’t his fault their GM traded away James Harden. Why were excuses being made for Durant that weren’t being made for LeBron?

Why was LeBron clowned for losing his hair when Durant is balding himself? People like Durant because he doesn’t have tattoos (he does). They like him because he’s a nice young man (if using gay slurs and calling out the media makes you a nice young man… so be it).

People cried when Durant thanked his mother “You the real MVP” at his MVP press conference, and I’ll admit I thought it was very heartfelt, but then I remembered Kevin Durant has never won a Finals ring and beefed with Lil B.

Now when people ask me my favorite players in the NBA I answer before the question is out of their mouth. LeBron. Second favorite? Russ. Who do I think will be the MVP of the 2015-2016 season? Harden. Coincidence? No.

“Fuck Kevin Durant” – Lil B

Jordan Paladino is a Portland comedian, rapper, and writer for the show “Who’s the Ross?” He is a staunch defender of all things Lebron James, Drake and Kanye West. He is also a KD hater. I try not to hold these things against him.

Stretch Run

We’re down to the endgame of the regular season. The teams in the bottom half of each conference are jockeying for position. If the playoffs were to start today, the first round would look like this:

Boston vs. Atlanta

Cleveland vs. Miami

Toronto vs. Milwaukee

Chicago vs. Washington

Portland vs. Los Angeles

Houston vs. San Antonio

Golden State vs. Oklahoma City

Memphis vs. Dallas

Charlotte, Indiana, and Brooklyn are fighting it out with Boston, Milwaukee, and Miami for those last three spots. A well timed winning/losing streak will certainly affect which team will get knocked out in the first round, and which team will be opening envelopes at this year’s Lottery telecast.

The Western Conference teams are scrapping for spots as well. Dallas seems to be trending downward, while Phoenix and New Orleans can’t seem to get out of their own way. I personally haven’t enjoyed watching the Mavericks as much during the second half of the season. Something is wrong, and I’m not astute enough to figure it out.

If they don’t get it together though they won’t have to worry about facing Memphis in the first round, it will be Oklahoma City or New Orleans in their place. Speaking of Memphis, I think the key to anyone’s sustained playoff run is to avoid the Grizzlies in the first round. They are the kind of team where even if they don’t beat you, they will beat you up enough to where the next round is that much tougher on teams’ bodies. I like the Spurs chances of a deep run if they can maintain a 6 seed or higher.

From what I have heard, last week’s Good Ass Game of the Week was the ATLiens vs. the Thunder. This is exactly why I MUST get NBA League Pass next year.

Monday: Night off for “National Puppy Day”

Tuesday: Golden State-Portland Lamenting the fact that I can no longer send “Wesley!!!!” texts to my Portland homies.

San Antonio-Dallas [note: already played. Dallas won 101-94]

As opposed to the Mavs who are trending downward, the Spurs seem to be gelling at the perfect time. It is no accident that their success has been tied to Kawhi being healthy. I hear they have all kinds of nicknames for him down in San Antonio. “Kingslayer” is one of them. The “Claw” is another one. I was thinking Dr. Kawhi would be ill (because you know with hands that big he should be a doctor—or a masseuse). If you wanted to get on that Inspector Gadget tip, he could be “Dr. Claw.”

Wednesday

Houston-New Orleans M-V-P M-V-P M-V-P!!!!

Oklahoma City-San Antonio The playoffs won’t feel the same without my favorite NBA player in it. It’ll be interesting to see what the Thunder do without Durant.I hope this isn’t a sneak peek of what is to come for the franchise.

Cavaliers-Grizzlies Probably the Good Ass Game of the Week.

Thursday

NCAA sweet sixteen. I know I bag on the NCAA games this year, but if you were to watch, this is the round to do so—especially Thursday night.

Wichita State-Notre Dame

Wisconsin-UNC

Arizona-Xavier

Kentucky-West Virginia

Friday

Dallas-San Antonio

Run it back.

Memphis-Golden State Can there be a Better Good Ass Game of the Week?

Portland-Phoenix

Saturday NCAA’s Elite Eight?

Sunday

Oklahoma City vs. Phoenix
Memphis vs. San Antonio

Starting to feel like the playoffs.

Big Ups Of the Week to the Wichita State Shockers for proving me right about them. I been saying for a minute that they had the best backcourt in the country. I also remember saying that they would have beaten KU last year (when both teams had even bigger star power), and that if Fred Van Fleet were running point for them last year they’d have won it all (they’d be final four if they had both Van Fleet and Ron Baker). Most Jayhawk fans were shocked about the outcome, but this guy was not.

Buster of the Week Award goes to my little brother for picking the Iowa State Cyclones to win it all in one of his brackets. Even though it would be sweet to see the Shockers turn the tables on the Kentucky Wildcats, I don’t see anyone ending this historic run for “Cadillac” Calipari.

See you next week.

BM
@clickpicka79
#thisagoodassgame

Run That Shit Back!

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We back! The NBA pre-season is upon us, which means we are only 2 and a half weeks away from the ball being thrown up for realsssssssss.

I can sum up this upcoming season by grouping the teams into four categories of watchability:

a) “Don’t Waste my Time”

b) “I’ll watch depending on they are playing”

c) “Oooh they playing tonight? Let me see what I got going on.”

d) “Cancel all my plans. I’m staying in tonight.”

Basically teams fall into these categories by whether they got better, got worse, or stayed the same. Some teams were so wack last year they couldn’t help but improve. Others thought (rightly or wrongly) that no changes needed to be made. Let’s get to it, this thing is already going to be long enough.

As much as I love hoop, I will not spend too much time in front of the tube watching the following teams:

Celtics, Lakers, Pacers, Nets, Utah and the Atlanta Hawks.

As a certain social philosopher likes to say, “NOT GONNA BE ABLE TO DO IT!” Not interested, not even a little bit.

How many uncontested layups will the Los Angeles Lakers give up this year? I’m willing to bet anyone that the Lakers will finish in the bottom five in defensive field goal percentage.
Kobe Bryant, Carlos Boozer, Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin, Swaggy P………if Jordan hill is your best option on defense…should I even continue?

Let’s just hope Jack Nicholson has low expectations this year, because I’d hate to see the old man blow a gasket after seeing his beloved Lake show give up bucket after 4th quarter bucket. Good luck Byron Scott. Lakers need to be in rebuild mode. Talk about being in denial. The Lakers will be right back in the lottery. Mark my words.
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With the loss of Lance Stephenson, I had Indiana being in the lottery even BEFORE Paul George got himself fucked up during the FIBA scrimmages.

I like what Danny Ainge is doing out in Boston, but it will be a couple more years before I can be excited about sitting down to a Celtics game. We’re just not there yet.

Even if the Nets were good, it would be hard for me to support anything Russian owned while that shit is going on in the Ukraine.

UTAH???psssttttttt just change your team mascot already. Saying there is Jazz in Utah is like saying there are good looking women in Maine. I’m sure at one time or another both have existed in each state, but neither are home grown products. If I knew anything about Utah other than Mormons, reformed Mormons, the X-games, and weed, I could come up with something clever–but I can’t. Let’s just move on.

I HAVE A DREAM…….that someday Al Horford will play for a legitimate NBA contender. Go to Chicago Al!!! Team back up with Joakim Noah, I swear I won’t root against you two this time.

DEPENDS ON WHO THEY PLAY

Memphis, Houston, Pelicans, Pistons, Bulls (without D. Rose), Orlando, Denver, Milwaukee, Philly, Knicks, Miami

After a couple of years of squeaking into the playoffs, I think this is the year Memphis finally misses the cut. Phoenix is better, and the Grizzlies are older. I think the injury bug will hit a couple of key veterans. The Grindhouse will not be rocking next April if my suspicions are correct.

I don’t find James Harden or Dwight Howard the least bit of entertaining to watch. I can’t stand Patrick Beverly, and if I wanted to watch someone shoot 30 free throws I’d go to the YMCA and volunteer.

Other than Kid Rock, Jalen Rose, and Eminem, no one outside of the state of Michigan is interested in watching Detroit basketball.

The “Brow” is almost intriguing enough to tune in, but the rest of his team is garbage. Next!

Orlando almost has enough pieces to warrant more than a peek in at their games. One more year of the lottery should get them in position to contend for a playoff spot next year.

Denver has the “Manimal”, and a nasty backcourt of Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson. But really that is about it. But props to Brian Shaw for smashing on Madonna (a remarkable feat that doesn’t get enough attention) in her prime.

Will Jason Kidd be the first NBA player-coach to suit up since Dave Cowens? I think they the pieces to grab that 8th playoff spot. The Eastern conference is wack as hell, and both New York teams will be in the toilet (more on the Knicks in a second) this year. Someone has to grab that last spot–it may as well be them. Peep the roster if you don’t believe me.
Gonna see a lot of this this year
I’m not even remotely interested in Philadelphia until they get completely healthy.

All the players on the Knicks I wanna see play are deep on the bench. I just don’t see how that roster can make the playoffs–even in the East. I’m not entirely sold on D-Fish as a head coach–at least right now. I believe he will have a pretty big learning curve. I think they will miss the playoffs, but just barely. Also Amar’e Stoudemire makes the most money on the team this year, and may actually play the least amount of minutes.

Do you remember when Chris Bosh was the best player on his team in Toronto? Well if you don’t, then this Heat team will remind you of what that was like. Chris Bosh is going to put up some numbers this year, and the Heat will not be as bad as you think. Don’t be surprised if they play Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals.

OOOOOHHHH THEY PLAYING?

Clippers, Bulls (with a healthy D. Rose), Raptors, Cleveland, Mavericks, Wizards, Hornets

These teams I wouldn’t exactly drop everything I’m doing, but I could be talked into meeting someone at the bar to watch any combination of these teams playing each other.

The Clippers were one of those teams that didn’t do much to get better or worse, but besides Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul, there aren’t any other guys who can create their own shot. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will be better this year, but barring a mid-season trade (and injuries to OKC and San Antonio), I don’t see how they make it out of the west. I do think they will have the best regular season record and will get home court in the playoffs, but that guarantees little against the Spurs and Thunder.

Bulls are deep this year. I’m salivating on watching Noah and Gasol run that Hi-Lo in the post. The Bulls have Mike Dunleavy, Taj Gibson, Aaron Brooks, Doug McDermott and Kirk Hinrich as good role players. I would pencil them as Eastern Conference champs were it not for a few lingering questions.

1) Is the Curse of Michael Jordan real?

Ever since the Jerry’s ran off Phil, Scottie and MJ, the Bulls have had nothing but bad luck. Eddie Curry…..trading Lamarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas, the Jay Williams motorcycle accident, Derrick Rose getting hurt during garbage time of a playoff game—-oh wait that isn’t bad luck— those are the result of bad decisions aren’t they?

2) Will Tom Thibadeau finally learn from the Spurs model and figure out a way to spell his starters so the team can be fresh for the playoffs? Thibs just has a way of grinding his players down. I feel like this is an under reported item concerning his coaching style.

3) The big question of course is will Derrick Rose make it to the All-Star break? He is the difference between them getting knocked out in the first round, and them losing to the Spurs in the finals.

Raptors made no significant changes, which was a good decision. They re-signed Kyle Lowry, which is almost like getting a big name free agent. They could should easily win Atlantic division this year.

People are hype about Cleveland, (and the should be), but why aren’t people also acknowledging that besides their “Big 3”, Cleveland still has a number of questions. Just how much better is Lebron’s supporting cast in Cleveland than the one he left in South Beach? Was James Jones ever that good?
He old and Cleveland is COLD.

I could write that sentence again in regards to Mike Miller and Shawn Marion. All three of these guys are in their mid thirties and have had the luxury of playing in warmer climates for most of their careers. Sure the game is played indoors, but that has to have some affect on your psyche–especially in a shit hole town like Cleveland. It aint ‘Zona or Texas or Florida.

How many games will Kyrie Irving play this year? He hasn’t played a full season of basketball since he was in high school. I’m not saying he’s bad, I’m just suggesting he might be a little frail. I’m not judging (I’m someone who gets hurt playing everything). But we can’t pretend like Irving is a guy you can pencil in to be healthy at the end of the year. Perhaps this wouldn’t be that big of an issue had Cleveland not wasted that pick on Anthony Bennett.

They opted instead for Victor Oladipo, but who is to say they wouldn’t have had to trade him for Kevin Love (imagine what an addition that would have been for Minnesota)? regardless Lebron not only has his consistently monster numbers, but will earn the MVP because everyone else’s stats will inflate because of his presence on the court (especially the Wins column).

Dallas as a team that would drop in the west, but I took a look at the roster and realized that Raymond Felton was indeed NOT the starting point guard for the Mavericks (the Jeopardy answer would be “Who is Jameer Nelson?”). I like their squad, and as I have said before, Rick Carlisle is the 2nd best coach in the NBA. Nothing could surprise me concerning the Mavericks–including another Finals run.

I like the Wizards running the same team back with the addition of Paul Pierce. He will be a great presence for them in the locker room. They are a dangerous team that has a top five backcourt. They could easily be in the Eastern Conference Finals as well.

Lance Stephenson was a great pickup for the Hornets (feels so right doesn’t it? I miss calling them that). Charlotte will be more entertaining to watch this year, but they will still get bounced in the first or second round.

“Alright stop what you doing cuz I’m about to ruin……”

You know what it is….every day I will circle the games these teams are playing and will make damn sure I get to watch them–even if its on replay.

Golden State made a controversial move in ousting Mark Jackson, but they couldn’t have made a less controversial hire in Steve Kerr. I think he will fit in fine with the front office, and will be a breath of fresh air for the franchise, believe it or not. Their season depends on how many games they can squeeze out of their front court players, David Lee and Andrew Bogut.

I’m also curious as to how well Harrison Barnes is integrated into the playing rotation. They need him to play as well as he did during the 2012 playoff run, if the Warriors are to take that next step. Continuity is a huge factor every year, and no major moves were made this off-season. The core remains intact with a couple of key additions in their back court. The Splash Brothers will actually get some rest if Leandro Barbosa, Shaun Livingston, and Brandon Rush can contribute off the bench.

Super Bowl champion Head Coach Jimmy Johnson used to say, “If you are not getting better, then you are getting worse.” This adage pretty much sums up what the Thunder did this off-season. They wasted this summer’s draft picks, lost their best perimeter defender in Thabo Sefalosha, and only managed to sign Anthony Morrow. That being said, the still have two of the best five players in the NBA. That alone will be good enough to get them to the Western Conference Finals. Steven Adams will be starting at center no later than the All Star Break.

Portland didn’t do much to improve either. Then again, any off-season moves to be made on that roster would’ve had negligible results (Is the difference between a 7 seed and a 5 seed in the west worth messing up team chemistry?) Portland’s bench is better based on another year’s experience for Thomas Robinson and C.J. McCollum.

Phoenix will for sure be in the playoffs. They re-signed Eric Bledsoe, bringing back the nastiest back court duo west of San Antonio and east of Nevada. They managed to draft Tyler Ennis, T.J Warren, and acquired Isiah Thomas. The Morris twins re-upped and so did P.J. Tucker’s drunk driving ass. They won’t be sneaking up on no one this year. They ready. Fools are gonna get banged on when they play the Suns.

The T-Cubs will be the newest fun team to watch this year. It is too bad Rick Adelman won’t be around to coach this team. I think this is the second coming of the Baby Bulls, and early 2000’s Sacramento Kings. Rubio finally has some guys to run with him. Look at who the Timberwolves have: Zach Levine, Shabazz Muhammad, Glenn Robinson III, Corey Brewer, Mo Williams, and my boy A. WIGGINSSSS!!!

Last year, the Wolves were 3rd ppg, 6th in rpg, 5th assist, 26th in points allowed. If they can even get into the top 20 in team defense, I think they can contend for a playoff spot until the final week of the regular season. I’m excited to see this team play. Andrew Wiggins wins Rookie of the Year award (even if he has to share it with Jabari Parker–I think getting shunned by the Cavs/Lebron will be the best thing to ever happen for his career–this is the chip on the shoulder he needed).

You know who didn’t have to do a damn thing this year? The NBA (World?) champion Spurs re-signed their role players and drafted triple-double machine, 6’9 PG Kyle Anderson from UCLA. I see this being a quiet title defense for the Spurs. Everyone is going bananas over the revamped Cavaliers, when the Spurs dismantled a team that currently looked better than what Cleveland is running out onto the court. I see the Spurs just chilling in the cut until their “Rodeo trip” and then landing a #3 seed in the playoffs. Health is the biggest factor for them. Their bench players will play just as big a role (probably a bigger role) as last year’s title run.

Anyway, enough with all the formalities. Time to put my name on the line.

MVP Lebron (of course)

Co-Rookies of the Year
Andrew Wiggins/Jabari Parker

Eastern Conference
1. Cleveland
2. Wizards
3. Raptors
4. Chicago
5. Miami
6. Charlotte
7. Milwaukee
8. Atlanta

Western Conference

1. Clippers
2. OKC
3. Spurs
4. Mavericks
5. Warriors
6. Phoenix
7. Portland
8. Houston

Western Conference Finals

Spurs over Oklahoma City (again)

Eastern Conference Finals

Cleveland over Washington

NBA Finals

Spurs over Cleveland to defend their title and shut down any remaining naysayers. Cleveland isn’t ready yet. This year will be a toss up in the East, but by 2015, it will be Cleveland and then everyone else. As evidenced by all the hype surrounding his return to Ohio, this is still Lebron’s league.

#winorgohome

WOW!

From the way these guys have been celebrating , you wouldn’t think it was only the first round. This weekend brought us some great action and its hard to believe that we are only in the second round.

Game 7 in Los Angeles was as good as advertised and the two teams played with the intensity of an NBA Finals. Even though I had picked the Clippers to win, deep in my heart I wanted to see a Warriors-Thunder Second round. I think a healthy Andrew Bogut would have swung the series, but am I alone in thinking that Doc Rivers out coached Mark Jackson? For the record I think Mark Jackson is getting a raw deal. He has led the Dubs to two straight 45 plus win seasons and this year he had a patchwork team to put together with a bunch of role players and Steph Curry (No I don’t think Klay Thompson is there yet). If Warriors ownership fired Mark Jackson after winning 50 games this year (in the toughest bracket in NBA playoff history) over some personality conflicts, it would be a HUGE mistake. Can you think of a viable replacement? Neither can I. This would be them doing the old “two steps forward, three steps back routine” that they’ve been on since Mullins, Hardaway, and Webber left the team. Joseph Lacob would be shooting himself in the foot if he didn’t bring back Coach Jackson.

It seems crazy to be talking this much about the Warriors when they were the team that was eliminated, but what else is there to say about the Clippers? Is there any more reason to regurgitate what a tough emotional roller coaster they had last week? Their front line was the major difference and I can’t wait to see them go against the Thunder in what will be an entertaining series.

Blake gets to play in his hometown, as does Russell Westbrook (how about that triple double Saturday night? WOW), so look for big series from both of those cats. I’m interested to see the Matt Barnes vs. “Mr. Unreliable” match up (How stupid is the Oklahoman for that headline? This is exactly why people think Okies don’t deserve a basketball team–they should be thankful that a player of his caliber WANTS to live in a shit hole like Oklahoma City). Speaking of Memphis, I knew this was going to be a tough series. Zack Randolph didn’t help his team any by getting suspended, and neither did the injury to Mike Conley (who is having a better career than I ever gave him credit for being capable of–I was wrong Mike Conley is not a bust). Much props to the Grit N Grind crew though, they made games 2 through 5 unbelievable games.

Whether or not OKC does win will depend on a few factors:

1. Can Serge Ibaka be effective? They will need him to stay out of foul trouble and make Blake Griffin work on defense.

2. Will OKC’s team defense be effective against the Clippers offensive firepower?

3. Will the Clipper’s bench outplay the Thunder’s bench?

4. How efficient will OKC be on offense, and will their turnovers and bad shots result in LOB CITY GIF explosions all over the internet?

It’s hard to bet against KD and Westbrook at this point, but I think this series will be extremely close. I’m going with OKC in 7

 

Spurs-Portland will be a fun series to watch as well. I’m hoping that we will get to see more Thomas Robinson in this series, since he played so well against Houston in what little playing time Terry Stotts gave him. Every night I got about 3 texts from my boy Sam that involved the words “T-Rob”,  “going ham”, and “he hongry.” The shot by Damien Lillard did not surprise me one bit. When I saw they had .9 on the game clock, I just had a suspicion that “Big Game Dame” was going to find a way to get  a good look. He was so wide open on the play and as soon as he shouted I yelled out to no one in particular “ball game!”

I’m interested in the point guard match up with Tony Parker and “Illard” guarding each other, but small forwards Nic Batum-Kawhi Leonard facing off is just as intriguing to me as the PG or PF (Tim Duncan vs. Lamarcus Aldridge) match ups.

Portland had a great run this year, and nothing is more magical than having that town abuzz with joy. As someone who saw the Portland-Lakers debacle back in 2000, I can be nothing but happy for Rip City. All sentiment aside, this is where they meet the fate of last year’s feel good story, the Golden State Warriors. San Antonio has a better bench and the best coach in the game. The Spurs will take what a team does best and make them do something different to beat them. San Antonio in SIX.

I’m still quasi-boycotting the Eastern Conference. After seeing so many good games out west, it really pisses me off that the Heat just get to coast their way into the NBA Finals. They would have been a five seed in the Western Conference and it would have been a dogfight. At least if they’d win out west, people would be able to tip their hats to them in good conscience. I just don’t see how the competition committee can’t at least address this. How is fair for a team that plays in a weaker conference get an easier path to the championship?  Brooklyn will at least make the Heat earn their victories, which is all you can ask for at this point. I know Brooklyn is undefeated against Miami this year, but that was regular season. Lebron ain’t even answering phone calls right now, so you know he’s focused. I’ll take the Heat in SIX, but I’m still only watching the fourth quarter of these games. The same goes for Indiana-Washington. I’m taking Indiana in SIX. This is a better match up for the Pacers, but its still going to be ugly. Let’s just hope no one has their teeth knocked out.

I’m looking forward to the start of the second round tonight and if my calculations are correct, I have at least two hours to sit on my front porch, drink some cervezas, eat some chips and salsa, and lounge. Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!