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

 

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

 

Good Ass Games of the Week 5/8/16

Some quick thoughts before we get into this week’s slate of games:

  • Tomorrow’s Spurs-Thunder could have huge ramifications down the road for San Antonio. If they win, they go home with a 3-1 series lead and a chance to go for the juggular. I’m not liking the body language for KD or Russ during their pressers, and it seems as if everyone is pressing as the intensity ramps up. As the oldest team in the NBA, the Spurs need as much time off as possible, and with a team like Oklahoma City, you don’t want to ease up when they are on the ropes. I expected this to be a dogfight, but the Spurs could lose more than a game if they don’t take care of business. The Thunder will not give up, so it is important for San Antonio to keep their foot on the gas. I think the Spurs chances of winning the title decrease the longer this series lasts. All that being said, this is easily the best series of the four, with games 2 and 3 being nailbiters. I don’t expect tomorrow’s game to be any different.
  • San Antonio did catch a break (or did they?) with a Warriors loss tonight in Rip City.Lillard went illard and put up 40 points while “dropping” 10 dimes. I’m almost certain that Golden State will win the next two games convincingly, but the way the Warriors flexed the other night without Steph Curry…….. well let’s just say I was almost sure they could beat ANY team with or without him. Now I’m not so sure.
  • I been sleeping on  Jonas Valanciunas as a viable front court threat against the Miami Heat. The man has been cleaning up on the glass, and now with Whiteside’s health in doubt, the Rappers Raptors have a chance to ruin Amin Elhassin’s dream vacation on “Heat Island”.  Big ups to Dwyane Wade for reminding people (including me) why he’s a Hall of Famer (he still dirty as hell, but that didn’t stop John Stockton from getting inducted).
  • Tomorrow is most definitely a #pitinogame. By 5:00 in the evening tomorrow, there will only be 7 teams left in the playoffs. This is exactly why I wanted the Celtics to advance, because Cleveland has barely broken a sweat these first 3 games. People are pushing each other down to jump on the #Cavs’Dad’s bandwagon, but they are forgetting that a) Kyrie Irving is a shaving accident away from being on the IR, and b) the Cavs haven’t played anyone yet. They got the easiest draw out of anyone in the playoffs, and there were two teams that had much better records than they did. What sense does that make? I’m still in wait and see mode on them.

 

 

Good Ass Games of the Week:

 

Sunday

Cleveland vs. Atlanta   ABC  2:30 pm CT

San Antonio vs. Oklahoma City

 

Monday

Toronto vs. Miami  TNT 7:00 pm CT

Golden State vs. Portland TNT 9:30 CT

 

Tuesday

Oklahoma City vs. San Antonio TNT TBD

 

Wednesday

Miami vs. Toronto TNT 7:00 pm CT

Portland vs. Golden State 9:30 pm CT

 

 

Thursday to Saturday games are TBD–games are scheduled as necessary.

 

BM

Thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

#thisagoodassgame #fullsass

 

 

Good Ass Games of the Week

Sunday

Charlotte vs. Miami (in progress) ABC

Portland vs. Golden State (2:30 PM CT) ABC

Indiana vs. Toronto (7:30 PM CT) TNT

 

Monday

Atlanta vs. Cleveland (6:00 PM CT ) TNT

Oklahoma City vs. San Antonio (8:30 PM CT) TNT

 

Tuesday

Portland vs. Golden State (9:30 PM CT ) TNT

 

 

Wednesday

Atlanta vs. Cleveland (7:00 PM CT) TNT

 

Thursday

 

No games scheduled

 

Friday

Cleveland vs. Atlanta (6:00 PM CT) ESPN

San Antonio vs. Oklahoma City (8:30 PM CT) ESPN

 

Saturday

 

Golden State vs. Portland  (7:30 PM CT) ESPN

 

Round and Round, Round and Round

Saying Our Goodbyes

Let’s take a second to thank the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, and Los Angeles Clippers for participating in the 2015-2016 playoffs. Except for the Houston Rockets, everyone played hard. No one was surprised that these teams got bounced. Hey sometimes you’re the champs and sometimes you’re the chum.

Los Angeles Clippers v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Six

I gotta say tho, I have more respect for the Clippers (especially Austin Rivers) for not conceding game 6 on the road in Portland. It was enough of a performance to make me consider downgrading them from complete busters to simply busterish.

I have talked a lot of junk about Austin Rivers, but I think he passed some sort of threshold last night in that loss to the Blazers. I wonder if this will be the impetus for him crawling out of that bottom tier of players, and actually being a viable part of a winning team.

Looking Ahead

 

Even though both are Eastern Conference games, tomorrow’s Pacers-Raptors and Heat-Hornets contests are can’t miss. I’m not foolish enough to think a Raptors elimination will mean I won’t have to see Drake sitting court side at basketball games, rolling lint off his jeans. Homie will be anywhere there is a camera and some NBA. I’m still rooting for the Pacers to knock off Toronto. Indiana has some interesting layers on their squad, and a Heat-Pacers 2nd round would be intense.

Speaking of playoff intensity, last night’s 4th quarter of the Heat-Hornets game was one of the few legit highlights in this first round. Kemba and Dwyane Wade put their “teams on they back” and went to work. Wade had 10 4th quarter points, while Walker couldn’t be stopped (except for a last possession foul by Wade that didn’t get called), getting 11 of his 34 points in crunch time.

I for one am not looking forward to this Hawks-Cavs series starting this week. If I watch any of that series, it will be during the 4th quarter of each game. Bleh. With all the contact, whistles and play stoppage, that series will be as much fun as watching college wrestling. No thank you. I’ll watch as much as necessary to stay informed. I don’t know if the Hawks will even win one game this round.

The Warriors open up the second round against the “stop listening to they” Blazers. The steel and determination in Damien Lillard’s face  makes me a believer in Portland…….but not this year. If the Blazers management can actually make s series of sustainable decisions, I think they can bring a title to Rip City.

They really aren’t that far away. We’ll have plenty of time to dissect their off-season after the Dubs knock them out. Portland fans are playing with house money, and they’ll be happy if their Blazers Boyz get 2 wins (not all that unrealistic). I’m just excited to see Dame go to his hometown and put in some work in front of his people. This will be a fun series.

The real deal Holyfield will be the Thunder-Spurs series starting tonight at 7:30 (CST). I’ve lost a lot of sleep over this potential matchup. This reminds me too much of the 2012 standoff, where KD unleashed the beast four times in a row. The only thing keeping me from a full-blown panic attack is that the Thunder don’t have a James Harden to bring off the bench.

 

For the Spurs to win

 

Their vaunted defense will need to live up to its reputation. Kawhi Leonard is light years better than he was in 2012, when he first had to handle KD. Leonard’s offensive game  is almost enough to make the matchup at small forward a wash.

The bigger problem will be guarding Russell Westbrook. Danny Green and (ahem) Tony Parker can’t do it alone. It will take some team defending and help coming into the lane and forcing Westbrook to make last second decisions. There is no stopping Russ at this point–he’s Kobe 2.0 (except a less reluctant passer), and even though Tony Allen was credited with making Kobe work in the ’08 NBA Finals, that Celtics defense was on a string. The Spurs will have to be in constant communication, in order to keep the Thunder role players from getting involved offensively.

One way to do this will be to take care of the ball when they are on the other end of the court. The more the Spurs can keep OKC from getting easy baskets from fast breaks, the better.

Lastly, the Spurs bench will have to prove itself superior to Oklahoma City’s role players. Besides Dion Waiters and Enes Kanter, the Thunder will have trouble getting their own shots. Ibaka may have a 7/9 game with 16 points, 5 blocks, and 12 rebounds, one game, and then completely disappear behind the 3 point line the next. The Spurs have the better support group, and they can make OKC pay dearly every time Durant and Westbrook aren’t on the floor.

I think the Spurs can survive a game or two if KD and Russ both go nuclear (60-70 combined points),as long as no one else goes crazy. But a night where Kanter gets 18, Ibaka is getting 15, and Waiters is getting 14, means they are probably taking an L.

For the Thunder to win

 

They will need to resurrect the RUN OKC days. The Spurs are undoubtedly the oldest team in the playoffs. After every long rebound I would have the wings pushing up the court to see if any fast break opportunities can shake out. The Spurs are phenomenal at getting back on D, but you figure that somewhere down the line it may add to their wear and tear to the Spurs’ old legs. The biggest problem with this strategy though is that OKC’s bench is pretty thin. An uptempo game means more minutes for Cameron Payne and Kyle Singler. I don’t think that is a good thing, but they’ll need as many easy points as they can get.

The Thunder bigs will need to dominate the boards in order for them to have a chance in this series. There won’t be a ton of easy buckets on either end, which make Steven Adams, Ene Kanter, Serge Ibaka, and Nick Collison’s roles extremely important. One way to keep the Spurs from scoring is to outrebound them–especially on the offensive end.

Someone is going to have to help KD and Russ get buckets. The easiest way to spot someone who doesn’t get basketball is to hear them speak as if winning hinges on their superstar player(s). The locals (and the media) here in Oklahoma think that just because they have 2 of the best players in the world on their team that a win is pretty much guaranteed.

They actually think the Thunder were “struggling” this season. It is laughable. What they don’t understand, is that the reason the Warriors and Spurs have been thumping teams at a historic rate, is because they have two of the best benches in NBA history. Having Westbrook and Durant keeps a team in any game, but having dependable role players in a tightly contested, playoff game, is invaluable.

Someone (Waiters, Kanter, Ibaka) has to chip in at a consistent rate for the Thunder to even have a chance at upending the Spurs. Those Heat teams had great role players (Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Ray Allen, Udonis Hasleem), that ’08 Celts team had James Posey, Leon Powe, Tony Allen, and Sam Cassell.

The Thunder no longer haven’t had a big 3 since Harden moved to Houston, and their role players have been okay at best. I think we’ll have to see something extraordinary for them to beat the Spurs, but if they can somehow stretch it to 7 games, then the odds might be in their favor. I think the Thunder will give San Antonio all they can handle, but Spurs will win in six games.

 

BM

thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

#fullsass #thisagoodassgame

 

 

 

First Round Thoughts

A few thoughts this first week of the playoffs:

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder have gone from a borderline busterish collection of individuals into full on busters. Their antics seem hackneyed and trite, in their attempts to be (fake) tough guys. I’m not saying the Mavericks are choir boys, but all the extra stuff with Westbrook is #divariffic. By the time their series is over against the Spurs next round, I’ll be a full-blown Thunder hater. I can just tell.
  • Speaking of the end first rounds, I’m looking forward to jumping on Amin Elhassan’s twitter feed, immediately following tonight’s game (assuming Dallas loses), and playing the Pitino Game. The basic gist of the game is that team that gets beaten succumbed to the victors because they were lacking in some way. The name is based on this infamous press conference by former Boston Celtics coach and alleged dirtbag , Rick Pitino. The onject of the game is for people to tweet the most random, obscure name that ever played for that particular franchise. I’ve got a decen list of names from the early 80’s that I can’t wait to throw out. This is the perfect night for my podcast partner, Craig Stein to jump on the twittersphere.
  • Let’s give a round of applause for the Memphis Grizzlebies, Detroit Pistons, and the soon to be eliminated Mavericks, for showing up and making their opponents work. Neither series were exactly “byes”, even though two of them were sweeps, and the Mavericks might extend this series for one more game. There is a huge difference between being out matched and being out worked. Fans of Memphis, Dallas, and Detroit have nothing to hang their heads about.
  • Too bad I cannot say the same for the Rockets’ fans. I’m not even sure if James Harden even likes basketball. While teams like the Warriors and Spurs reaffirm my love for basketball and all that is holy about the game of roundball, the Rockets suck the everliving joy out of the ball. And why is that major superstars get routinely injured in games against Houston? This should be investigated when ESPN does a 30 for 30 on RUN OKC (they can bring Billy Simmons on to pontificate the what ifs and rehash old columns).
  • I’m still rooting for Boston to come out of this first round and give the Cavs some run, but the constant cut aways to New England Patriots personnel and management makes me have second thoughts.

 

Good Ass Games of the Week:

 

Monday

If the Heat don’t get this win tonight against the Charlotte “Me So Hornets”, they will be in for a dogfight. They better handle up. (NBATV 7:00 ET)

OKC-Dal (TNT 8:00 ET)Two words: Pitino Game

If the Clippers know what is good for them, they will be looking to put the hammer down on Portland tonight and Wednesday. With Steph Curry out for a minimum of 2 weeks(Grade 1 sprained MCL), it would behoove the Clippers (and the rest of the league for that matter) to start the next round as soon as possible.(TNT 9:30ET)

TUESDAY

Indiana vs. Toronto (TNT 6:00 ET)

Another best of 3 series. This no normal 2 vs. 7 seed series. This may have been the worst matchup for the Raptors to have in the 1st round.

Boston-Atlanta (TNT 8:30 ET) Suddenly it is a best of three series. Celts bringing the heat even without Avery Bradley. Who would have thought this would be the best series of the first round (Celtics fans that’s who)?

 

Wednesday

Hornets vs Miami (TNT 8:00 ET)

Portland vs. Los Angeles (NBATV 10:00 ET)

Golden State vs. Houston (TNT 10:30 ET)

 

Thursday

 

Atlanta vs. Boston (TNT TBD) 

Game 6 eh? You know the Garden will be rocking that night.

 

Friday

Indiana vs. Toronto

HMMMMMM Game 6 in Naptown then Purple Rain on the big screen afterwards? Sounds like the perfect Friday night to me–date or no date.

 

Enjoy the games this week. As Steph Curry’s freak injury illustrates, things can get weird in a hurry. Warriors fans were oh so confident 24 hours ago, but I’m sure they realize just how fragile things are between the lines. It is easy to get caught up in the hype of blowouts and crazy highlight plays, but even something as minute as a Rockets employee missing a wet spot on the floor can derail a championship season. There are hundreds of clichés we could throw out at this point, but eff that, life is too short.

 

Peace,

BM

thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

@clickpicka79

#fullsass #thisagoodassgame

 

 

 


Moving Right Along

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Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors on their record-breaking evening. There is a reason only 2 teams in my lifetime have achieved 73 wins. Even the best of teams lose occasional back to back games, or they suffer letdowns to inferior teams. The Warriors only had a couple of losses that had nothing to do with scheduling or injury.

I would also like to take the time to celebrate the end of the Kobe Bryant’s playing career, a man who was the last link to the Lakers’ dynasty. I thought about watching his very last game, then decided I could be doing better things. Hitting the refresher on twitter each time brought me updates as he hit 30, then 40, then 50, then finally 60 points. The man chucked up 50 shots, but what surprised me is that he only had 45 points with about 5 minutes left. The man put on a show for his home crowd and I have to respect that.

I can’t say I agree with people’s G.O.A.T. assertion, or the revisionist history that does not include his sexual assault trial, or that he was such a terrible teammate that no one wanted to play with him; and that is the reason why he only has 5 rings instead of 11 (like say Bill Russell). Most Lakers fans are insufferable, but Kobe fans are twice as hard to talk sensibly with. I for one, am extremely happy that this farcical farewell tour is over with, and that I never have to see Kobe Bryant play on live television ever again.

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Unfortunately, I feel there is a good chance that this also the last season we’ll ever get to see Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Vince Carter, and Paul Pierce play meaningful games as well. I’m just happy they didn’t announce their intentions before the season was over also. It would have been an overload of goodbyes. I have to give Kobe credit though for him scoring 60 and leading the Lakers to an end of the season win. It does make for a good story, and I’m halfway sorry that I did not watch it as it unfolded. But then I think about it, and it makes me feel like the Jazz are some busters–proving to me they didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs anyway, if they can lose like they did last night.

 

PLAYOFFS!!!!!!!

First Round Matchups

 

West

Houston vs. Golden State
Man the Rockets were terrible this year and they managed to suck the joy out of basketball. Warriors in four
Dallas vs. Oklahoma City
I can see Dallas stealing one, maybe even two games out of this series. Give me OKC in 6
Memphis vs. San Antonio
You have to give credit to Dave Joerger and the Grizzlebees for hanging in their after losing Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, but they are just chum in the water. Spurs in 4
Portland vs. Clippers 
This will be the most entertaining matchup of the first round and will certainly have 2-3 “Good Ass Games” before Portland knocks them out in 7.

East

Miami vs. Charlotte
Best games in the east this round.
Detroit vs. Cleveland
I’m happy for Detroit basketball, but it should not take the Cavs more than 5 games to beat Detroit.
Indiana vs. Toronto
This series is going to ride the fine line of being competitive and downright ugly basketball. This sounds crazy but I’m going to take the naptown boys in 7.
Boston vs Atlanta
Will Boston become Al Horford’s next stop? The Celtics will have a two-week recruiting period to give him their pitch. Boston in 7.
Enjoy the first round because it’ll be over before you know it.
Peace,
BM

The Finish Line

Here we are at the finish line. If the season ended today, the first round would look like this:

Eastern Conference

Cleveland vs Indiana

Toronto vs. Detroit

Atlanta vs. Charlotte

Boston vs. Miami

Western Conference

Golden State vs. Utah (please Hoops Gods, for the love of everything sacred about basketball, don’t let the Rockets get in)

San Antonio vs. Dallas

Oklahoma City vs. Memphis

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland

Wednesday is the last day of the regular season. By Thursday the playoff matchups will be set, and by then it will be fairly easy to predict what the Finals matchup will look like. At this point, Golden State vs. Cleveland seems to be a forgone conclusion, but anything can happen in 2 months of playoff ball.

Spurs fans should pray that someone beats up, or knocks off the Warriors before a potential playoff meeting, because that is a really bad matchup for them. The length and athleticism on Golden State is just too much for San Antonio. Watching them play reminds me of the Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis fight. Lewis was too fast, too strong, for the past his prime Tyson.

The Warriors have a far superior backcourt, and the slim advantages that the Spurs have in depth and coaching aren’t enough to overcome that mismatch (Not to mention that Harrison Barnes is a huge x factor to plan against, Barnes is about to get PAID).

Despite the postseason outcome becoming fairly apparent way early in the season, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what this year brought. The Timberwolves were a nice little story despite the Flip Saunders tragedy. Karl Anthony Towns is going to be a force to reckon with, and Andrew Wiggins can be the Kobe to his Shaquille (but without the fight for Alpha dog status). The Spurs had a very fun and memorable season and despite what happens going forward, it will be remembered as a success.

There was a lot of goofy shit that happened off the court that isn’t worth getting into, but it did affect the on the court product for the Lakers, Clippers, Sixers, the Cavaliers, and the Kings. People who expected the Pelicans and Bucks to improve upon last year’s success were disappointed.  Hopefully next year will be just as exciting on the court, but with less off the court b.s. My wish list? Alright, twist my arm.

  1. Shabazz  Muhammad to the Mavericks. I think he and  Rick Carlisle would be good for each other.
  2. Tom Thibodeau to Sacramento. All I want in this life is to see Ben Mclemore and “Boogie Down” Cousins to play for a real coach.That Kings team was too talented to not make the playoffs this year. #dysfunctionjunction
  3. Kevin Durant to Golden State and Harrison Barnes to Portland. Aren’t you just a little curious? Despite what people think, I’m not sure KD is obsessed with getting his touches. I bet he’d be satisfied with an 11 for 15 line and a legitimate chance at a chip. For some reason I think Barnes with Damien Lillard and C.J. McCollum would be a great trio to build around. All you would need to do was add a rim protector and suddenly they are a contender.
  4. Thomas Robinson to the Spurs. T-Rob has not gotten a fair shake in this league yet. I think Gregg Popovich could use a guy like that. Imagine Dejuan Blair, but with knees.
  5. Shelvin Mack and Gordon Heyward to Boston. I know it is unrealistic, but I can’t be the only one fantasizing about them reuniting with Brad Stevens. The “Salt Lake City Punks” would be crazy to give up Heyward. It is in Utah’s contract to always have a white superstar for their franchise, and Heyward is that face. gordon-hayward-nba-utah-jazz-golden-state-warriors5

If at least one of these things occurs, I will consider the 2017 season a success.

I’m not sure how many of you have subscribed to Shea Serrano‘s Basketball and (Other Things) Newsletter, but I would recommend you peep game. Last week’s “Assault on Precinct 1” issue was easily one of the funniest things I have come across this year. It was so good that it inspired me to do an ESPN REMIX using the exact same premise. You can’t be the “World Wide Leader” without having snitches, police, double agents, and confessions. So according to the format provided by Serrano, just who on ESPN is police?

Are Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith police?  Typically in comic books, graphic novels, Edgar Allen Poe short stories, movies and television shows, the police are depicted as inept, bumbling and comical—“so dumb that they have to be told to come out of the rain” as an English professor once told me. Bayless and Smith, if they are cops, would be likened to the Smitty and Hoppy characters from Sanford and Son. Bayless and Smith are mostly on some harmless buffonery in ESPN’s attempt to get ratings. I guess it works. People watch them and let themselves worked up. Do they mislead people to get ratings? Do they take quotes out of context and run with them? Oh you betcha. Do they say things they really don’t believe just to stir up controversy? Absolutely. They are definitely the “Po-Po.”

Is Bill Simmons the police? You ever see those cop shows, where there is a detective who always thinks he is the smartest guy in the room? You know– the cop who does things according to his rules, they call them “rogue cops.” That is Simmons. Simmons thought he was Dirty Harry, but went out more like Officer McNulty from the Wire.  Simmons got wind of the corruption in City Hall and threatened to expose it. Tired of the office politics at his particular station, Simmons goes rogue once too many times, and gets shown his walking papers. The police chief, John Skipper said “Gimme your badge Simmons. You’re done here. Consider yourself retired, you can cash in your pension at the district offices.” Then Simmons was like ” Fuck this department. You know where you would be without me? You’d still be showing Roy Firestone interviews on ESPN2, on the 4pm time slot, if it weren’t for my brilliant police work.” Then on his way out, he slams the office door so hard that the glass shatters everywhere. Skipper’s personal assistant immediately tries using his stack of paperwork for a dustpan as Simmons walked past him, but Skipper tells him to just leave it. Simmons then waits outside the station for his Uber before the scene cuts to a commercial. So yes. Bill Simmons was once police. Now he is not. He’s more like a private detective now.

Is Dan Lebatard the police? Yes, but in the way that David Simon was police. Simply putting reporting crime in hopes of weaving together a tale that will someday get him a tv deal.

Is Zach Lowe the police? No. Even in a fictional world, Zach Lowe is a reporter who just wants to do good work and go home to his family. He is thorough, and methodical and enjoys his job. He is a man above the corruption and politics. He usually asks the right questions that hint at plot twists, and reveals. In a police movie, he would be the reporter who got himself kidnapped because he got a little too close to the truth.

Is Jason Whitlock police? HA! Have you seen Jason Whitlock? He wouldn’t be able to pass the physical exam. If he were police, he’d be an extra on a Police Academy remake. That being said, Jason Whitlock has a reputation of being a hater, and a suspected snitch.

Is Adam Schefter police? Man. What do you think? Is there anybody on that staff with more eyes and ears on the streets than Adam Schefter? Schefter is the kind of cop whose motto is you are only as good of police as your informants.” Hell yeah he police.

Other notable ESPN police:

Amin Elhassan- Yes. A dirty one. Officer Friendly from Master P’s “I’m Bout it” movie. He is every black cop you’ve ever seen (on tv or in real life) who is an asshole for no reason at all. That being said, a great twitter follow. The man is such a fantastic shit to everyone (to be fair he’s bombarded with tons of idiotic tweets) that it is impossible to take your eyes off his timeline, but it may be better just to avoid this guy altogether if you to. 

David Jacoby –Maybe he is, or maybe he isn’t. But anybody who claims to love hip hop and says they don’t know about Nelly’s “Tip Drill” video, is in my mind suspect. “Pleasssssse. Check him for a wire or an ear piece.”

Notable Non-Police:

Jalen Rose– Just that dude from the neighborhood who knows everything that is going down before it even happens. Homie is like Huggy Bear from the Starsky and Hutch series. He may work with police, but he ain’t police. Also check out his autobiography, “Got to Give the People What They Want.” It is a pretty entertaining read. I’ll be doing a book review on it later this week on the site.

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Bomani Jones– HELLLLLLLLLLL NO!

jones

 

Big ups to Shea Serrano, one of my favorite writers right now, who I hope isn’t offended that I borrowed his format and ran with it. As a hip hop fan (whose book I will be purchasing this week sometime), I hope he thinks of this as someone freestyling over a beat he made hot, as opposed to straight biting his style (Call me crazy, but I think we may be able to get him on the Full Sass Podcast someday).

Good Ass Games of the Week are posted below, and remember folks, “Be careful out there.”

 

Peace,

BM

#fullsass #thisagoodassgame

thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

 

Good Ass Games of The Week:

 

Monday

Dallas-Utah 

Somebody has to play the Spurs, and somebody has to play the Warriors.  This game is basically flipping a coin to determine their team’s playoff fate.

Charlotte-Boston

Both teams are just jockeying for seedings, but no matter the result, it looks like those first round matchups out east are pretty much set.

 

“Tap That Vein” Tuesday

Memphis- Los Angeles Clippers 

This may be a preview. We may see these teams face off in the playoffs. This is like getting a first round bye for whoever gets to play Memphis. They got decimated with injuries this year and still made the playoffs. #respect

Oklahoma City- San Antonio

I doubt either team will play their starters, but it is always fun to watch the Spurs bench whup on the other teams’ reserve players.

 

Wednesday

Spurs-Dallas

Dallas will try to win this game and still may get blown out.

Memphis-Golden State (Good Ass Game of The Week)

This could be win number 73 or this could be win number 72. We’ll see how San Antonio plays things tonight against the Dubs.

 

END OF SEASON. NEXT WEEK: FULLSASS PLAYOFF PREVIEW