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

 

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Everything We Could Have Asked For

This Western Conference Finals has given us drama, great soundbites, and (what do you know?) great action on the basketball court. This series has been the saving grace for this year’s playoffs. The Spurs-Thunder and Blazers-Warriors rounds had their moments, but this year’s Western Conference Finals has lived up to the hype that was percolating even as far back as last year (before Kevin Durant hurt his foot up in Oakland on the last possession in the first half of a regular season matchup).

I’ve spent most of the season bashing the Thunder for their histrionics, style of play, and lack of depth (for good reason), but they have been nothing short of impressive this postseason.

To many Thunder fans, the team fell into what felt like a mid-season swoon. This organization  faced some real life adversity;with deaths close to team members, front office heads and assistant coaches. Billy Donovan lost his best bench coach, Mo Cheeks (the Russ whisperer) to a hip surgery, during this difficult period (a lot of people are quick to praise Billy Donovan for making all the right moves. I agree that he has gotten better with his rotations and substitutions, but I also don’t think it is pure coincidence that Cheeks’ return had nothing to do with their success).

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Oklahoma City’s role players have really stepped up their games. Enes Kanter and Anthony Morrow have been put into situations where they can succeed (a product of good coaching). Dion Waiters has cut down on his bone headed plays. Kyle Singler is sitting on the bench where his ass belongs. The biggest leap, however; is Steven Adams’ sudden ascension as the third member of OKC’s “Big 3”.

Adams’ impact on the game has been the most  visible factor of this playoff run. Adams has influenced the rebound margins, defensive efficiency, and he is making a contribution on the offensive end; catching lobs, getting garbage buckets on offensive boards, and making nasty baseball passes for layups. When you think about all the front office moves made after the 2012 Finals run, (Perry Jones III, Jeremy Lamb, Mitch McGary, Kevin Martin) it may not be a stretch to think that the Adams draft pick (acquired in the James Harden trade) may have saved GM Sam Presti’s  job.

For the majority of this series, OKC has outplayed Golden State. Golden State’s role players have struggled this round–especially from the Oracle. The good news is that there is a game 7. Warriors blew game 1 with careless turnovers, and bad body language. People were shocked, but they deserved to lose that one. I didn’t care for their casual approach going into game 1, the way they played was disrespectful to the game, and the basketball gods made them pay for it.

The team returned to form in game 2, but they ran into a buzzsaw in games 3 and 4 (man those fans were loud).

The “Dray-gate” controversy and Warriors going back home with a 3-1 series deficit was exactly the type of drama this playoffs needed. Despite it being a “good ass game”, I knew there was no way they would lose in Oakland. draymond-green-030216-getty-ftrjpg_11yxu7bourk4613knzedu46jtp

Game 6 was going to be the true litmus test for both teams, with the Warriors facing an elimination game, on the road, in one of the most hostile environments in the NBA (Sorry Oakland, but the true Warriors fans have been consistently priced out ever since your team started winning again). Needless to say, game 6 delivered.

Klay Thompson put on one of the most memorable playoff performances I’ve seen that didn’t involve a certain young man from Akron, Ohio (no not Steph). The Warriors needed every one of the 41 points he put up, but the fact that he also played great defense, makes it even more impressive. He has been the playoff MVP for the Warriors this year.

The adage about road players not traveling well held true to form, as Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, and Draymond  Green did the heavy lifting. Andre Iguodala played timely defense, and had a clutch basketball to tie it up at 101-101. The reason I feel so confident about the Warriors wrapping it up tonight is that “No Buckets” Speights will turn into “Mo Buckets” Speights, Sean Livingston will contribute more offensively than he did on Saturday. I also think Harrison Barnes is going to show up. With the postseason Barnes is having, he may have cost his agent a family vacation in Rome this summer. I really thought he was going to make himself some money in April. I really wanted to see him take that leap this year (I’m sure I’m not the only one).

I think the game will be close until about the 4th quarter, and then the Warriors will go on a run to ice the game. I think the role players will be too much in this game. I knew the Thunder were in trouble during game 6 when they went to the half winning only by 5 points.

They’d dominated the entire half, and gotten the majority of the favorable calls, and still did not win. I would be incredibly shocked if the Warriors dropped this one tonight. Oklahoma City had their chance and they just couldn’t make it happen.

You can call it a meltdown, or you can say that Golden State was clutch. I’ll believe either narrative. No matter what happens tonight, I dare anyone to dispute that this series saved the NBA postseason this year.

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

 

 

A Quick One (while he’s away) pt. 3

Last night was such a treat. Sunday and Monday night provided us with two of the better games of the playoffs. For all the talk about how the Eastern Conference was better than the Western Conference, I don’t think I’m out of line to use the trash, disguised as playoff basketball, as a counter to those claims.

Eastern Conference basketball has been awful to watch, and this has been no aberration. It has been this way for years. Just rip the damn thing up and start over. Send Memphis to the east, realign the conferences, and have the playoff seeding 1-16. If it weren’t for the Spurs-Thunder and Blazers-Warriors series, this year’s playoffs would be a bigger flop than the most recent Fantastic Four movie.

A few quick thoughts before tonight’s game 5:

  • Game 4 was just as intense as I was hoping it would be. I’ve been to a couple of elimination games, both in the Oracle, and at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and Sunday’s game between Oklahoma City and San Antonio might have been the most intense basketball game I’ve attended in person. The folks in OKC finally understand how to be a fan base. For years they needed the P.A. announcer’s assistance to know when to get loud, when to cheer, and when to chant. I wasn’t even on the court and I was affected at how loud it was in the arena. The only time it got quiet was when Kawhi dunked on Steven Adams, and I may have been the only screaming at that point–that shit had me juiced. I will say this though, YMCA strikes me as a song you would play in the arena, when the game is secured, in the regular seasonnot in the 3rd quarter of a hotly contested playoff game.
  • The refs from Sunday should never be allowed to work a playoff game together again. They were horrible. If players can get their pay docked for conduct detrimental to the league, then the same should apply to referees. Danny Crawford (go figure) and his crew could not figure out how they wanted to call the game. They would let one thing go–like Kanter throwing elbows as he bullied his way into the paint, and then call a touch foul against the defender guarding him. It seemed like every other foul was a make up call, and it marred what otherwise was a beautiful game to watch in person. At least we can say it wasn’t one-sided; they were at least consistently bad for both teams. We’d have been better off if the refs were sent home, and the players called their own fouls.
  • Minus a couple of lulls, Game 4 was the best game I’ve seen  Thunder play. They were great on defense–especially down the stretch of that game. The Spurs were making tough shots, while the Thunder were consistently finding ways to get easy buckets. They had 23 assists compared to San Antonio’s 12. Both teams had 12 turnovers, and the Spurs were only outrebounded by 6 boards, but it felt like OKC was killing them on the glass. Stephen Adams has been the biggest X factor among the Thunder role players, notching a double-double in each of their wins, while only getting single digit field goal attempts in their losses. Every time the Thunder went to the Westbrook and Adams, good things happened.
  • Gregg Popovich will have some tinkering to do to counter the Thunder’s game 4 adjustments. The Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, Dion Waiters, Russ Westbrook, Kevin Durant line provided the most challenges for the Spurs, and makes me wonder why it took Billy Donovan so long to try this out. While I wouldn’t call for him to make this his starting lineup, there seems to be merit for using this crunch time lineup for what is now a 3 game series. There are scoring options at every position, and OKC’s height gives each Spurs defender something to worry about. For as skilled as the Spurs are, their front line is a little too small vs.teams like Cleveland and OKC;who pound them into submission on the glass, and their backcourt is too small when facing teams like Golden State and Oklahoma City (who also happen to be bigger than them in the paint as well). It just goes to show well how the Spurs execute on both ends of the floor. Even with the size mismatches (and disparity in quickness), it still takes playing a perfect game to beat them.
  • As much shit as I’ve talked about Durant trying to play the villain, and the depths of busterdom befallen the Thunder, you have to be a real hater not to dig what happened Sunday night. KD put up 41 on the NBA’s best defense while his moms (the real MVP) danced in her courtside seats. When he got hot in that 4th quarter (scoring 17 points and having some timely assists to boot) it was eerily similar to the game 4 of the 2012 series where no one could guard him, scoring 18 points in the 4th quarter. With the ascent of Russell Westbrook and his scoring histrionics, it can be easy to forget the former Longhorn is still capable of outbursts like these.
  • Game 5 will be just as much of a dogfight as the past 4 games, if not more. Neither team wants to be one game away from elimination. The Spurs bench and role players output has been matched, (if not surpassed) by the Thunder supporting cast. Oklahoma City is outrebounding San Antonio, and they are getting way more easy buckets than the Spurs. I’m not sure if the Spurs can recover from losing two games at home in a series. Tonight’s tickets will read game 5, but it may as well read game 7. History has shown that most teams that win game 5 of the best of 7 series (when tied 2-2) end up winning the series.

 

I may have already said this before, but I think the Curry injury has been one of the best subplots of the playoffs. His injury had many ramifications for not only the Warriors, but for everyone who, up until the injury, were playing for second place. Cleveland has been feasting on bad teams during the first two rounds, and they’ll probably sweep the winner of the Toronto-Miami series (especially if the Heat don’t have Whiteside). I can only hope that Miami will at least make the Cavs work for those 4 W’s.

Last night’s heroics by Curry ( 40 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists–17 points in OT) only proved why he is the unanimous MVP. But did anyone else see the game Draymond Green had? Not only did he fill the stat sheet, (21 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and 7 blocks) but he also set the tone for the Warriors second half comeback.

The consecutive defensive sequences where he blocked first Plumlee, and then McCollum energized the team, and that was the point when I knew we were in for a #goodassgame. Make no mistake about it, last night’s game was the game of the year. With Curry’s status in limbo, Livingston getting ejected, and Portland having a chance to tie the series at home, those things only served to make things more lit.

Lastly, how beautiful was that inbounds play that Kerr and co. designed—the one to get the game tied at 3? Curry threw the pass before Harrison Barnes (maybe their  3rd best option to shoot a 3 pointer) had come off of screening Klay Thompson’s man. The Warriors’ floor spacing on that play was almost as gorgeous as the pass.

Though this series is pretty much over, I do not expect the Blazers to fold up like lawn furniture. They’ll take an L, but the Warriors are going to have to work for it. There is nothing to hang your head about Blazers fans. Everyone (including me and other contributors for this site) picked this year’s team to SUUUUUUUUCCCCKKKKK, and they didn’t. That is a win in itself.

Last night’s game proves why it is always more important to make the playoffs (with the possibility of getting bounced) than to tank and hope for lottery ping pong balls. You can’t put a price on experience. The guys in that Trailblazer locker room will never forget the growth they experienced this year–from making the playoffs, to bouncing the Clippers, to giving the Warriors all they can handle in the semi-finals, and this can only help them in aligning next season’s goals.

If you are a free agent frontcourt player looking to play a prominent role for a contender, you have to at least take a meeting with Portland right? The draft is always a crapshoot. You never know what the ping pong balls will reveal, and not all top 3 picks are can’t miss franchise players (Portlanders certainly knows this is true). The Blazers run this year proves that if you put in the work and try your best, you never know what can happen. Sure the Blazer improbable run was helped by collective slides by Houston, New Orleans, and Utah, and then again by the Clippers suffering major injuries to key players, but their hard work, focus, and belief in each other put them in a position to succeed. Blazers fans should be greeting them at the airport when they get back from Oakland after Wednesday’s game.

Enjoy tonight’s game.

 

Peace,

BM

thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

#thisagoodassgame #fullsass

 

“A Quick One While He’s Away!”

Yo Peep!

This one is a going to be a real quickie–the Spurs play the Clippers at 9:30. I just finished watching the Cleveland-New Orleans game in which Cavs finally reached .500 for their Win-Loss record. Bron-Bron vs. Lil Brow Wow was all that it was cracked up to be. Lebron put in some work with 32 points, 12 Rebs, and 10 Assists on 9/17 shooting. He had way more help than Anthony Davis–a force of nature (27 points, 14 points, 4 assists,4 steals, and 3 blocks)– with Kyrie Irving (who went HAM down the stretch of 18 points on 18 shots, finishing with 32 points on 21 shots, and 9 assists) and Kevin Love’s very efficient 22 points (7-13 shooting, 6-9 from three pointers).

Besides Ryan Anderson, the Pelicans don’t have anyone. Austin Rivers plays like a Buster! Tryeke Evans is a poor man’s Lance Stephenson. Jrue Holiday is decent, but he probably shouldn’t be starting. Eric Gordon is in the graveyard of players Bill Simmons thought was going to be raw. They suck. It’s depressing to watch them down the stretch of games. FREE ANTHONY DAVIS! Run BROW RUN! Go to New York and play for Phil, or go to Washington and play with KD, but don’t stay in New Orleans longer than this contract. Just ask Kevin Love what happens when you sign an extension with a bad team without doing your homework.

That being said, I’m going to have to watch more of the Pelicans in order to get my Anthony Davis fix. This dude is like Tim Duncan but with handles, and Kobe’s explosiveness.

Speaking of teams I’m going to watch more than I originally expected, I kind of like the Kings. I feel like they are a superstar away from being legitimate playoff contenders. They have a good core of veterans in the locker room with Carl Landry, Ramon Sessions, and Reggie Evans. Enough has been said of the effect this summer had on “Boogie Down Productions.” He has been killing it. I wonder what would have to be done to make a Rondo for Rudy Gay trade work.

Last night’s game between the Suns and Warriors played out as exactly as I figured it would. The game was a sluggish one–the refs threw the game out of rhythm with a high number of whistles early on. The Warriors shot well enough to start, but were spent by the end of the game. You could tell that the back-to-back games had taken away their legs. They were also without Splash Brother Klay who was nursing a sprained wrist. Phoenix ran away with it around the 9 minute mark of the 4th quarter.

Good Ass Games of the week:

Spurs-Clippers in about 15 minutes….hopefully they won’t wear those ugly ass jerseys that were worn on Saturday. Them shits were “muy muy feo!”

Tuesday
Hornets vs. Trailblazers Two nasty backcourts going head-to-head.
Spurs vs. Golden State You know Popovich will be sitting some starters–but at least Kyle Anderson will get some minutes.

Wednesday
Houston vs. Minnesota Wiggins and Zach Lavine make a pact to try to get on the cover of “Slam” Magazine by dunking on Dwight Howard.

Lakers-Pelicans Would have been great to see Randle v.s Davis matchup.
Denver vs. Portland The matchup for nastiest backcourts continues with Wesley Matthews-Damien Lillard vs. Arron AfflaloI-Ty Lawson. If I were a person visiting Colorado for an indefinite amount of time, I know I would be at this game.

Thursday

Chicago-Toronto Worth checking out for sure. There is a very strong possibility these two teams meet in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Friday
“Hey! Hey! It’s the Weekend babayyyyyy!!!” I’ve crossed the threshold now where if a girl ain’t down with hoop, then she ain’t down with me. It’s almost winter time and I’m already prepared to hunker down with some crock pot chili (or pot roast) and geek out on roundball for the next 6 months. There just isn’t enough time in the world for a high maintenance girlfriend and basketball. She be like “Ugh Sports. What’s so great about basketball Bobby?”
and I’ll say ” Look baby if you really want me to pay more attention, learn how to jump 12 feet in the air off one leg and dunk a basketball. Then I’d never take my eyes off you again girl. Can you do that for me? Didn’t think so. Next!”

Charlotte-Phoenix Damn. It gets no easier for Stephenson and Walker this week. Quite the gauntlet for the Charlotte backcourt.

Spurs-Lakers I’m not much into watching ass whuppings, but for some reason it gives me great pleasure to watch the “Lake-Show” go up in flames. It’s like going to a Siegfried and Roy show knowing that someone is going to get eaten. I haven’t been disappointed yet with the Lakers this season.

Minnesota-New Orleans In my best Drake voice, “Anthony Davis!!! A-Wiggins!!!!”

Saturday
Charlotte-Golden State Damn. No breaks for Charlotte this road trip. At all.
Phoenix vs. Clippers Who does Beige–I mean Blake Griffin punch this night? I’ll give you 2-1 odds on the Morris brothers and 3-1 on p.J. Tucker. This plot alone makes them game a must watch.

Sunday
Golden State-Lakers Kobe gets hurt trying to keep up with young bucks. I’m guessing its just a hamstring pull. He’ll be day to day for the next 5-7 games.

It’s exactly 9:48 pm and the Spurs-Clippers game is already underway. It’s deep into the first quarter–but you know what? It figures. I’ve never been good at quickies.

A Chance to Catch my Breath [Originally Posted on sportsblog.com 2/3/14]

A wild week of basketball orgasms left me spent and I slumped into bed almost immediately after the Seahawks destroyed the Broncos last night. On Saturday I fell asleep in the middle of what people called the game of the year. I woke up just in time to see Syracuse outlast Duke in OT, but I was too tired to even be sour about missing the game. I saw the highlights, I was into it as much as my serotonin would allow; but I have Feb.22nd circled on my virtual calendar for the rematch in Cameron Indoor (also for KU-Texas but we will get to that later). As it is, I’m in recovery mode from a wild week and an even more enlightening weekend.

First off, how about a second to process what we witnessed from Kevin Durant last month? When I said last post I went on record as saying KDTV was must see until the streak was over, I never considered that he would shoot himself out into breaking it. His performance on Friday was a work of art. He shot 10-12 with 26 points in 30 minutes of action. Serge Ibaka shot 12 for 12, and by the end of the third quarter, it was obvious that OKC was going to pull their starters early into the last quarter of the game.

What has been so amazing about “Iceberg Slim’s” (credit Jalen Rose for the best nickname anyone can think of for KD) streak isn’t just the points he’s been scoring, but how easy the points have been coming. Anyone who ever watched Kobe or Allen Iverson play in their primes, can attest to the sheer volume of shots that both players put up to get high numbers. Kevin Durant is much more efficient and has not forced many of his shots. Many of them seem to come in the flow of the game. He almost always makes the right basketball play, passing the ball when necessary and getting his teammates involved. For the month of January he scored 550 points and had 90 assists. The last person to do that was Michael Jordan, and that was in 1987.

I actually missed the majority of the Kansas-Iowa State game on Wednesday to see KD go head to head with Lebron. KU is undoubtedly the reason I live in Lawrence right now, but I couldn’t forgive myself if I missed my favorite basketball player on the planet go up against the BEST player on the planet. I was not disappointed to say the least. The hype and atmosphere of the match-up felt bigger than a playoff game, and this sequence in the third quarter confirmed that feeling.

Even when the thunder were up big, it still felt like Miami had that final run in them. I must admit that I was wrong about this OKC team. Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones III, and even Derek Fisher are playing better than I imagined at this point in the season. I knew KD would step up, but I didn’t think he would get much support. How much of this is KD being a great leader and making his teammates better? Does the absence of Westbrook, and Durant’s ability to take his game to an unbelievably high level mean that he is this year’s NBA MVP? I would like to think yes. Look at the record. Look at the conference OKC is playing in and then think about how many other players could do what he is doing. I thought Presti was a fool to let Harden go for so little, but a year removed from the trade and the Thunder look as dangerous as ever.

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It’s been fun watching some of these lottery bound teams and trying to figure out what player in the draft would be a great piece of the puzzle for such teams. Teams like New Orleans, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Orlando, Dallas and Sacramento could be one player away from being playoff contenders next season. Seeing what happens to these teams will be almost as interesting as seeing who will dethrone the champs this year.

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I really wanted to see Demarcus Cousins and Lance Stephenson on this year’s All-Star Teams. It would have been that much more entertaining weekend. If missing the teams make them improve even more, then look out NBA. I thought “Boogie” and “Born ready” were deserving this year though.

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This week I experienced a bit of lull in my Jayhawk fandom. I had to watch the Iowa State game on replay, and the Texas drubbing left me (and probably the rest of Kansas and Missouri) stunned.

The Iowa State rematch was about what I thought it would be. The game anchored out at around 11-12 points. I had given someone 17 points thinking the blowout would be in effect because of the home crowd, but ISU actually showed up. I like DeAndre Kane. He plays like a grown man (how about that block–not a foul on Embiid early in the game?) and I hope he gets to play in the League next year. He has this “take no guff” attitude that I love. I think his aggressiveness and swag will get him far in life–even if its outside of basketball.

Iowa State may become the regional rivalry that has been missing since Mizzou took the money and ran to the SEC. KU fans respect the Hoibergs, much more than the ‘cats in Manhatten, and they actually make the Jayhawks sweat. A third game against the Cyclones in the Big 12 tourney could turn out to be really competitive.

As for the Horns……..well they done up and snuck up on everybody. I hadn’t had a chance to watch them this year, but I figured with Rick Barnes and the lack of NBA talent on the squad, they would be an after thought. It is never a good sign when a team out-muscles your team, out-hustles your team, while your team whines to refs and looks around for foul calls.

I don’t know if the team got a taste of that Austin nightlife or what, but they admittedly were not ready for Texas had to bring to the game. Cameron Ridley and Isiah Taylor were awesome. Texas was not intimidated in the least bit by the Jayhawks. They took it to them. The problem with having such a young team is that some games that team will look unbeatable, then the next game can look like a bunch of DIII players.

Consistency is something a team aims for but usually doesn’t achieve until they reach a certain level of maturity. Senior laden teams usually prepare better, because they know talent can only take a team so far (ask the 2010 Kentucky team if this is true). This butt whupping is exactly what KU needed. They looked soft on defense and on the boards, but take nothing away from Texas. This is a team that can actually push the Jayhawks for the Big 12 title. They a legit point guard in Isiah Taylor and they have a bruising front court. I was planning on going to a Shocker game on the 22nd, but Saturday proved that I need to stay in town and get tickets for when the Longhorns come to Lawrence.

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Quick Big Up’s to:

Golden State’s second half D vs. Portland/L.A. Clippers a few nights ago. I know Portland hasn’t been playing all that well and the Clippers came off a back-back, but Golden State put on a show in both games. They scored a lot of points, but a lot of points came off turnovers as well. They are twice as much fun to watch when they play defense, because of the increased number of fast break points created. Seeing Iggy and Steph run that break is a thing of beauty.

How about LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant III against the Kentucky front line? 29 points and 9 rebounds. He gave Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein the business. He single handedly put LSU on my must-watch list.

We’re expecting snow tomorrow night. Tuesday will be a good night to curl up and stream some hoops and not drink whiskey. Some cola beverages will just have to suffice.

Fighting the Doldrums [originally posted 2/10/14 on sportsblog.com]

Winter has hit us pretty hard here in Lawrence. The snow we had shut things down for a few days. By Friday I was sitting at my desk watching the Pebble Beach Pro-Am just to have some sort of escape from out beautifully dreary weather. I think I’m going to start watching the golf channel whenever I need to take a nap. I find it oddly soothing. Something else I learned from watching golf this weekend, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are pretty decent golfers. For all the talk about how ‘humble’ both players exhibit on the football field, their real life swag as rich white men couldn’t be more noticeable in their relaxed golfing attire of pullover sleeves and brown corduroys pants. forget what the scoreboard has read in past Super Bowls, both men are winners at life.

Anyway, I managed to watch a little basketball this weekend, but not nearly as much as I wanted. Living with 30 plus people during a snowstorm doesn’t lend to great bandwidth. It’s also embarrassing to admit that I fell asleep midway through the KU-WVU game on Saturday. Either I’m getting old and need more sleep, or I’m just bored with the way conference play has turned out. Either way I snored my way through the 2nd half. Impressive eh? I looked at the box scores and things seemed rather ho hum. Maybe the “little brothers” (who by the way put it on the same UT horns who thumped the Jayhawks last week)will provide some drama in the little apple tonight. Here are some random notes from the last week of Snowpocalypse:

From what little I did see of the game, Juwan Staten and Erron Harris make up a pretty good backcourt. I heard a couple of analysts say possibly best backcourt in the conference. I looked in the box score and saw they accounted for 39 of the 69 Mountaineer’s points. They definitely have my attention. The next time they face a good team, I’ll probably tune in and check out their game.

Melvin Ejim- WTF! 48 points 18 rebounds on 20-24 shots. Unreal. I know its just TCU, but the horny toads are still a D-1 school. He only missed four shots as well. Pretty dang efficient if you ask me. I don’t know what this means as far as his future in the NBA, but it certainly makes a person pay closer attention to what is going up in Ames.

I got to watch a little NBA action this week. Golden State vs. Chicago wasn’t as good of a game as I was hoping, but I did enjoy it. Besides reminding me about how good of a passer Joakim Noah is (his passes to Taj Gibson out of the High-Low sets not a surprise if you remember his playing days with Horford), this week gave us this tweet.
When his playing days are over, and he can keep it one hundred without fear of repercussions from the league, Noah is going to make a great interview. I’m officially a fan.

Illard!!!

Pacers vs. Trailblazers was everything you could ask for in a game. It was back and forth, a couple of game changing shots in the last minute, and overtime. There was an ILLard outburst, with a 38, 3, and 11 line for the box scores (in OT it felt like he was the only one with anything leftin the tank for Portland) and a humongous game by George Hill (37 pts, 9 boards, 8 assists, 2 steals and 1 blk). The back and forth nature of the game kept me squealing and you could tell that Jon Barry was getting into the excitement as well. David West was hitting clutch buckets, and Wes Matthews put on a show down the stretch too. This was one of the better games of the year. I’m glad I got to watch it in real time.

KD for MVP (revisited)

I’m hoping that KD’s performance yesterday can finally put to rest any doubt that Durant deserves MVP over Lebron. Guarding Carmelo most of the game, Durant managed to score 41, grab 10 rebounds, dish out 9 assists, and keep Melo scoreless for the 4th quarter. I have heard people argue that Durant is only a scorer, and that may have been true going into last year. But people c’mon. KD has done nothing short of step up when his team needed him the most. In fact, everyone on the team has stepped up in Westbrook’s absence (especially Serge Ibaka) and a lot of that is KD making everyone else around him better. You can even see it during the huddles and timeouts; KD directing traffic, and giving feedback when needed. No one knows how the second half of the season will play out, but if MVP were voted on today, I think he would have to be the winner.

Big game tonight against K-State. Although he’s been flashing bits and pieces of brilliance, seems like Joel Embiid has been slightly off his game (from what little I have seen the past few ballgames). He’s still rumored to be the number one pick; which got me to thinking about the ideal spots for Embiid to land next year, should he decide to leave Lawrence. He can’t drive a car yet so maybe that would affect the scenario a bit, but I’m going to give it a few days and chomp on this a bit, and get back to you. Hopefully he’ll get in a groove tonight and have a monster game. All Star weekend approaching and all this snow outside makes me wish I made plans to be in New Orleans this Saturday and Sunday. What perfect timing to be in the N.O.–warmer weather, a great line-up of festivities, Mardi Gras approaching, and of course, its New Orleans. I’m a little jelly of those who get to make it down there. As exciting as it would be to go to New York for next year’s All Star Weekend, it will still be February in New York. Not quite the same. One thing is for sure, I won’t be leaving the house unnecessarily for the next 6 weeks–perhaps this will result in more blog entries and less shenanigans. We will see.

Stay warm out there.