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 @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

 

 

 

 

 

Game. Set. Rematch???

First off, I’m going to say anyone who has anything negative to say about Lebron James after this series is a straight HATER. The dude is a true gladiator and gave his city everything he had. He should have been the MVP of the Finals. He outscored, outrebounded, and had more assists than anyone in every single game this series (the first player to EVER do that by the way). Seeing him walk off the floor after the end result evoked images like this one:

or this:

Watching Lebron put the whole state of Ohio on his back was fascinating. Cleveland would hang for 3 quarters and just run out of gas. It was still a good ass series despite all the injuries and no one on the Cavs team has anything to hang their heads about. They gave everything they had. I respect that.

But I’d be the Buster of the Week if I didn’t acknowledge the best team without any “superstars” on their roster.

People doubted whether Steph Curry’s ankles could hold him up for an entire NBA season. People doubted whether Draymond Green would be able to last in the league. No need to go into Shaun Livingston’s story about his horrific knee injury. Anyone who can’t be happy for that guy is straight up sippin on dat HATERADE.

There are so many people to be happy for with this win: Warriors fans are the best fans in basketball. The city of Oakland deserves some good things to finally happen to it. Steve Kerr is an easy person to root for, and anyone who likes watching pretty basketball certainly got their jollies from watching them all year. Kansas and North Carolina fans can revel in Harrison Barnes, James Michael McAdoo, and Brandon Rush getting chips. It was a good ass year for basketball. I cannot wait to run it back again next year.

Congratulations Warriors fans, you no longer have to gush about the “We Believe 2007” team anymore. The championship now resides in Oakland.

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

The Lie that was “Mr. Unreliable”

Mike Sherman, The Oklahoman sports editor has apologized for his headline that suggested that Kevin Durant was “Mr. Unreliable” but I’m sure he has to squirm a least a little after the past week of KDTV.  If there weren’t enough reason for Iceberg Slim to be my favorite NBA player of all time, he gave this gem of an acceptance speech earlier this week (I hadn’t cried like that since the beach scene on “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”). Last night he and Russell Westbrook were both one assist away from becoming the first teammates to post triple-doubles in the same playoff game (Westbrook 31,10, and 9–Durant 32,12, and 9).

Durant’s off the court influence alone has meant so much to that community down there. He epitomizes the term franchise player (There’s no need to go into his on the court accomplishments–for someone who has had such a short career, he has compiled a pretty long list of them). When Lebron was going on cable TV and telling his hometown that he decided to go to Miami, Durant simply tweeted that he was signing an extension with Oklahoma City. Durant has been nothing short of a consummate professional on and off the court, and arguably the best ambassador for Oklahoma since Gene Autry. For the Oklahoman to print that headline is irresponsible and short sighted, and ridiculously untrue.

KD was still putting up numbers in the Grizzlies series, but Memphis was making him work for it. The article didn’t go into Scott Brooks coaching (the guy always seems one game behind in making adjustments), or that he and Russ were getting very little help from the role players. A headline like that speaks of how spoiled the OKies have become, and just how high the bar KD has set for himself and the team. People forget that KD is only 25 years old and that he isn’t superhuman (he just plays like it sometimes). FOr all the Kevin Durant has done for that state, that city, and that franchise, people like Mike Sherman and Berry Tramel should be kissing his MVP ass.

What is easy to forget (and Durant alludes to this in the SI article)
is that Durant has had to work so hard to get to this point. When he came out of high school and college, Greg Oden was always who scouts glowed about. Now that he is in the NBA, everyone is second to Lebron. But not this year, the skinny 18 year old player out of UT-Austin walked up to the podium dressed like a business man (cuz he’s a BUSINESS, MANNNN) and ripped the MVP trophy away from the clutches of Lebron James (who we can credit for forcing KD to raise his game to such an elite level).

The kid with the silky sweet jumper, who seems to glide rather than jump, who is the second best player in the world, has all the reason in the world to behave like Kobe, or Stephon Marbury, or Latrell Sprewell. But he doesn’t. He accepts criticism (even when unwarranted). He donates millions of dollars to surrounding cities that have been hit by tornadoes. I have never seen a player with so much talent have so much humility, and it was impossible not to feel happy for him when he accepted his award on Tuesday. His relationship with his fans, his teammates, and his mother, speak to the quality of his character. He proves that just because a person hits the genetic lottery and becomes rich and successful, doesn’t mean that person has to become a gigantic asshole. It is inspiring and refreshing to see someone so grounded and in touch with what makes us human. After seeing him hit milestone after milestone, it is only a matter of time before he hoists the Larry O’Brien trophy, and when he does, it’ll be waterworks all over again.