Posts Tagged ‘LeBron James’

What’s a team to do? Do the underdogs have a chance in the Conference Finals?

May 18, 2016

Early in the NBA Playoffs, when there are 16 teams and 8 different series going on, there are so many games that we’re forced to be a little bit patient with our game to game reactions.

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What’s a team to do?

Now that we’ve pared down the number of teams, there’s so much more time to look at things that we make grand statements and overreact on a daily basis.  Everyone is jumping onto the Thunder bandwagon and completely writing off the Raptors after the respective Game One’s, and there is some validity to the reactions that people have, but it’s important to remember how we reacted during the last round. After the Spurs’ blowout win over the Thunder, every story was about how screwed the Thunder were and whether this was the end of Kevin Durant’s time in OKC. Fast forward a week and a half, and the narrative has shifted to where people are practically inking his signature on Thunder letterhead for him. Similarly, the Raptors were written off multiple times in the series against both Miami and Indiana. When DeRozan and Lowry were doing their best old-Kobe Bryant impressions, they were a franchise that needed to blow things up. Now, they’re the resilient team that finally broke through into the Conference Finals. Like I said, there’s a chance that the Thunder have unlocked their potential, and a very strong chance that the Raptors are toast against Cleveland, but let’s look at how things could potentially play out moving forward. (more…)

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What’s on the line? Another look at legacy.

May 5, 2016

Every year, in every walk of life, people start careers and retire, work hard or quit and succeed or fail. From the beginning of an endeavor until the very end, everything we do contributes toward our reputation.

If you’re an actor, every role you take gets added to your IMDB page. For better or worse, if your name’s on it, it’s there forever. Robert De Niro is one of the greatest actors of all time, with roles in Godfather Part II, The Deer Hunter, Goodfellas and the Untouchables (among many others), but even De Niro has a few things on his resume he’d probably sooner forget. He’s great, but I don’t know if Dirty Grandpa and Meet the Fockers are going to be ones he remembers fondly on his death-bed. The good news for De Niro is that we tend to forgive actors for the terrible projects they’re a part of. When we look back at careers, we don’t care about the awful movies or shows, we just look at the things we love.

Fockers? What Fockers?

Like actors, athletes are judged based on what they produce throughout their careers. Unlike actors, we don’t forgive and forget  athletic failures quite as quickly and easily. We look at individual legacies in every sport, but with the exception of starting quarterbacks in the NFL, nobody is judged nearly as harshly as an NBA player. Karl Malone and Charles Barkley combined for 60,685 points and played significant roles on playoff teams throughout their careers, but they’re the first two players mentioned when lists of players without championships are put together.  Despite all the highlights and dominance, all we remember is Karl Malone clanking free throws against the Bulls and Charles Barkley’s forlorn expression as Jordan celebrated another title. With the end of Kobe Bryant’s career and the dwindling lights of Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan, legacy has been at the forefront of this whole season, and the playoffs are no exception. Every players’ reputation is going to be altered forever, but there are a few guys or teams who have more at stake than the rest.

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Round 1- The East.

April 15, 2016

The NBA season is a marathon, a slog, a death march or a victory lap.

It can be any or all of those things depending on what part of the season you’re in or what team you follow. As a fan of the Chicago Bulls, this season never lived up to any expectations. Despite a few solid streaks, the team never felt like a contender and everything from the All-Star Break on was like watching a beloved family pet at the end of their life; it hurt to see them in pain and while I still loved them, I just wanted to put them out of their misery. If you’re a Warriors’ fan, this entire year was one big victory celebration. I’ve lived that life before with the 1990’s Bulls, and can say that there’s no better sports experience than watching your team celebrate a title while simultaneously kicking the crap out of everyone they played. Whether your team is great, awful or something in between, the season is too long. That’s a discussion for another day, but what really matters is that all the pain and drudgery of the long regular season is behind us and it’s time for the good stuff to start.

Round One match-ups have a tendency to be less than exciting,

the bottom half of the playoff bracket is obviously less strong than the top, and you end up with some horrendous mismatches and very quick series. Occasionally you’ll get an upset in the first round, but normally things play out according to plan. In order to make these first few series more watchable, it helps to do a quick look at how each set of teams matches up: the key factors, the most important players and maybe a fun fact or two for when it’s a 30 point blowout. I’ll also highlight what my favorite match-up in each series is. So, without further Adu, let’s dive in:

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Go hard, or go home.

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Deep breath- Round 2 is here.

May 8, 2015

The first round of the NBA playoffs is all about endurance. Not just for the players, coaches and training staff who endured as many as 7 games in 2 weeks, but also for NBA fans themselves. The process of separating the basketball wheat from the chaff is painful at times and grinding at best. I’ve been a Bulls fan my whole life, and it took everything I had to watch games against the Milwaukee Bucks. By the time they finished off the young Bucks in game 6 with a 54(!!!!) point win, I had seen enough terrible passes, missed lay-ups and bricked jumpers to last a lifetime. You don’t watch sloppy basketball, you survive it.

The less than stellar quality of some of the first round matchups really brought to light how beautiful and sad the Spurs/Clippers matchup was. The biggest mistake I made in my NBA preview was discounting the Clippers’ chances. Thanks to the agreement the team has with Fox Sports San Diego, I’ve watched more Clippers games than any other team all season. I thought I had a read on them; they seemed like the type of team I wouldn’t trust in the playoffs- marvelously talented but as soft as the fancy toilet paper that doesn’t leave scraps on the bear’s butt in the commercial. After the most intense series I have ever watched, one which featured Blake Griffin eating Aaron Baynes’ soul, Tim Duncan turning back the clock to 1997 and a pro wrestling style display of mutual admiration, the Clips have earned my belated respect. After Chris Paul capped off a Willis Reed style gut check with a ridiculous one-legged floater that somehow dropped in, all I could think about was how wrong I was in misjudging them.

For the first time since the playoffs started, Thursday night had no games, which finally gave me a chance to take a deep breath and think about the other things I liked seeing in the 1st round and all the things I was looking forward to in the 2nd.
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I love this game

April 17, 2015

It’s playoff time!

It’s amazing how memories can stick in our brains. My first memory in life is a hazy one of burying our dog Bo in the backyard in California. I don’t remember much about it, but I can remember being sad and hearing crickets. I’ve confirmed that this event did occur, so I’m not completely crazy, but the existence of the alleged crickets has yet to be verified.  While the memory of Bo is far from clear, my first sports memories are in HD quality. The first one is being devastated because the White Sox had lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 ALCS. My dad told me then and again in 2003, “Don’t love this team, they’ll break your heart.” The other memory that stands out is more of a series of events. From 1991-1993 I was lucky enough to experience the Chicago Bulls winning 3 straight championships, and since we didn’t have a TV at this time, this meant that I was lucky enough to watch the games with my dad at Flakey Jake’s; a local bar and restaurant in Tacoma. The first 2 title runs are a little fuzzy, but I’ll always remember the 3rd. Going up against a juggernaut of a Phoenix team that had Barkley, Majerle, Ceballos and KJ, this was the one series in the title runs where I felt the Bulls didn’t have the clear edge in talent. What they did have was the best player on the planet. Jordan absolutely took over the series, averaging 41 points per game in over 45 minutes per game, including 55 points in a triple overtime thriller. The champs asserted their will over the length of the series, which culminated in token 3 point shooting white guy, John Paxson nailing the clinching jumper in the closing seconds of Game 6. . Between the video games in the lobby, spending time with my Dad and watching my favorite team cement their dynasty, this is one of my favorite sports memories of all time. The potential for these iconic moments and great memories is a big part of what makes the NBA playoffs so special to me. A lot of people don’t care much for NBA basketball, citing a lack of effort, thuggishness by players or even boredom with  the game itself. I won’t worry about that too much, because as much as I wish everyone would enjoy basketball as much as I do, if you don’t like something, no argument from me is going to change your mind.
While there are 16 teams in the playoffs, it’s widely assumed that there are 3 legitimate contenders to go along with 3 more teams that could make  run if things break the right way.
My official pick is Warriors over Cavs in 6, and while I’m excited for the playoff debuts of ‘The Brow’, ‘Greek Freak’ and Coach Brad Stevens, I’ll focus more on the contenders and what to expect from them.
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Quick NBA Thoughts

October 28, 2009

Day 2 of the NBA Season, and I wanted to mention some quick thoughts.

 

First, we saw last night the Cavaliers inability once again to defend athletic forwards who can stretch the floor. I predicted this would happen just yesterday. (more…)

Six Things about this Upcoming NBA Season

October 27, 2009

I am from Indiana. I live, think, and breathe basketball. I have spent the better part of five years in a severe basketball depression, following the Malice in the Palace resulting in the half-gutting of my beloved Pacers and the career killing of my last basketball hero, Reggie Miller. As it were, I had all but written off the National Basketball Association. It was clear that Larry Bird was going with the all-character squad, which culminated with the legitimate possibility for the first all-white starting line-up since 1950. The Pacers’ year-by-year win total since Detroit’s fans ruined my life and we went squeaky clean: 44 (year it happened), 41, 35, 35, 36. Absolutely mediocre. And since we weren’t completely terrible, we have had picks in the 10-17 range consistently and haven’t been able to pick up a real player to help out Danny Granger, perfectly illustrated by this year’s wonderful selection of Tyler Hansbrough (more on that later).

Why am I telling you this? Because I love basketball. And we are coming upon the single best part of the year: basketball season. So what should we expect? I can think of 6 things:

1. Shaq in Cleveland will not work out well.

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