Way too early bold Eastern Conference predictions

Pascal.jpg
Pascal Siakam going for a jump ball at Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals” by Chensiyuan is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Half the teams in the NBA have yet to play their fourth game of the season, but there are already budding tendencies we see continuing throughout the season. Using these tendencies, we’re making way too early bold predictions for the Eastern Conference!

Is it too early to be making these predictions? Probably. With such a small sample size, it’s hard to know how accurate our findings truly are. We won’t know for sure until much later in the season. However, we believe there are three predictions about the Eastern Conference we have right. Here we’ll break them down one by one, showing you why we believe we’ll see these results by the end of the NBA season.

 

1. Trae Young will be an MVP finalist

Trae Young has played just three games so far this season, but it’s already clear he’s taken his game to the next level. In his rookie year, Young averaged 19.1 points, 8.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds, with a field goal percentage of 41.8% and a three-point percentage of 32.4%.

In the first three games of his second season, Young is averaging 34.0 points, 9.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds, with a field goal percentage of 51.5% and a three-point percentage of 52.0%. His points per game have risen by 14.9, assists by 0.9, and rebounds by 2.3. Perhaps what’s more impressive, is the fact that his field goal percentage has risen by 9.7% and his three-point percentage by 19.6%.

Through three games this season, there’s been a clear difference in the way Young is playing. I know three games isn’t much to go off of, but let’s take a closer look into his numbers. During his rookie season, Young scored 30 or more points nine times in 81 games. In three games this season, Young has already done it twice. I foresee his number of 30 point games this season making a big increase, jumping from eight to somewhere between 20 and 30 times.

It’s obvious Young’s shooting has been better, as evidenced by his 9.7% increase on field goals and 19.6% increase on three-pointers. With the way he’s shooting and scoring right now, he honestly looks like MVP Steph Curry. I know that’s a big claim, but through his first three games, Young is averaging more points, assists and rebounds than Curry did in his unanimous MVP season (15-16), all while shooting 1.1% better from the field and 6.6% better from three-point range.

Young currently has his team sitting at 2-1, with their one loss coming to the 3-0 76ers by two points. There are still many games to be played, but if Young can keep up this play, he’ll surely have his team in the top half of the Eastern Conference by the end of the season. If he can do that, he’ll have my vote for MVP.

 

2. The Toronto Raptors will still make the Eastern Conference Finals

The moment Kawhi Leonard left Toronto to join the Clippers, was the moment every fan in the NBA counted out the Raptors this season. Yes, the Raptors are a much better team with Leonard. However, I don’t think it’s fair to completely count them out as Eastern Conference contenders.

We have to remember, Kawhi wasn’t the only player on this team. This roster still holds names like Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. As much as we liked to think he was, Leonard wasn’t a one man show. This Raptors roster was, and still is deep. Through their first four games, the Raptors have five players averaging 12.3 points or more. Those five players are Siakam, Lowry, VanVleet, Ibaka and OG Anunoby. This is evidence this Raptors roster is still built to win, even without Kawhi.

You could easily argue that teams without a star don’t go far, but I’d counter that by saying this team does have a star. Last season we saw Siakam have a breakout year, but he was always in the passenger seat because of Kawhi. Now he’s taking over as the driver.

Through the Raptors’ first four games, Siakam is averaging 27.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He’s also shooting 48.1% from the field and 42.9% from three-point range. Guess what Kawhi averaged for the Raptors last season. 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists on 49.6% shooting from the field and 37.1% shooting from three-point range. Overall, Siakam’s numbers are better. I’m not saying Siakam is Kawhi, but I am saying he has taken over the star role for this Raptors team.

With a star player, another all-star (Kyle Lowry) and a roster full of great role players, there aren’t many teams in the Eastern Conference I’d take over the Raptors in a four game series right now. They may not have Kawhi, but they’ll still be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

 

3. The Kyrie Irving led Nets will miss the playoffs

The Kyrie Irving era has officially begun in Brooklyn, but it hasn’t gone as planned to this point. Irving has been putting up massive numbers, averaging 37.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.7 steals on 45.6% shooting from the field and 41.2% shooting from three-point range. Irving’s numbers are awesome, but that unfortunately hasn’t translated to wins for the Nets, as they currently hold a 1-2 record.

To be quite honest, this Nets team led by Irving reminds me a lot of the Cavaliers teams Irving led before LeBron decided to come back to Cleveland. I know Irving was a lot younger back then, but he was the star player for the Cavaliers. He was their best player, and he put up good stats, but he could never lead them to a winning season.

Since then, Irving has won an NBA title and made the playoffs a bunch of times, including a couple times with a Celtics team he led. Irving is better than he was when he was a young star leading the Cavaliers, but his tendencies are still the same. Irving can make a lot of great plays and score a lot of points, but none of that really matters if you don’t win. He’s never been the type of player to take a team far when he’s the only star. That’s what he is on this Nets team right now.

Brooklyn has an exciting future, as Kevin Durant will be returning from injury next season. Nets fans should be excited, but they may have to put that excitement on hold for one more season. I’m not so sure Irving can get it done with this team. If the Nets do make the playoffs, I don’t see them being anything above the No. 7 seed. Maybe Irving can squeeze them in, but right now I’m not confident in that.

 

NBA Free Agency: Top 10 small forwards

After spending the last few days looking at the other positions, it’s time to take a look at the most important position in the NBA. The small forward position includes big names like Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.

img_5366
“”1 kawhi leonard 2019 nba finals” by Chensiyuan is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

As we quickly approach the free agent period, everyone has their eyes set on these two guys. Let’s be honest, they might all be disappointed, but let’s see where they might actually go.

 

Top 10 small forwards

1. Kevin Durant

Current Team: Golden State Warriors

New Team: Los Angeles Clippers

Yes, you are seeing this right! Kevin Durant will leave the Warriors and join their division rival, Los Angeles Clippers. By doing so, he’ll team up with DeMarcus Cousins again. Durant is expected to be a part of one of the New York teams, but he’s also expected to meet with the Clippers. He could also opt into his deal with the Warriors. The injury will play a huge part in where he plays, and I think the Clippers would still be a playoff team if they sign him and still have to wait the year.

 

2. Kawhi Leonard

Current Team: Toronto Raptors

New Team: Toronto Raptors

Despite having meetings with both the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, the Raptors get the last laugh. Leonard hears them out, and stays with Toronto for the biggest contract in NBA history. Look at what he was able to do in just one year. With not many changes happening with the team, they could be right back there again. Pascal Siakam won most improved player and he’ll continue to improve with Leonard playing along side him.

 

3. Bojan Bogdanovic

Current Team: Indiana Pacers

New Team: Philadelphia 76ers

This is a match made in heaven for both sides, as the Sixers clearly need shooters with both Reddick and Butler leaving. Bogdanovic has been known for his lights out threes, which played a major part in the success of the Indiana Pacers when Victor Oladipo went down. With Bogdanovic and the addition of P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon, the Sixers can have the offense they had last season. The problem will still be the injury prone Joel Embiid and the no jump shot Ben Simmons.

 

4. Khris Middleton

Current Team: Milwaukee Bucks

New Team: Milwaukee Bucks

Although Middleton opted out of his contract, I think he’ll stay with the Bucks. They were as close to the NBA Finals as they’ve been for a long time. If they can keep him, they have a better chance of getting there next season and in the future. They could also look to add more shooters to the bench to help take pressure off MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

 

5. Harrison Barnes

Current Team: Sacramento Kings

New Team: Indiana Pacers

Barnes is one of those forwards who’s underrated. He really grew into a nice star during his time with the Dallas Mavericks. The only reason why they moved him was to create space for the Porzingis trade. Having Luka Doncic playing well as a rookie was also a plus. I think Barnes could be a star in Indiana with all the other new pieces they have. Of course, the money will have to be figured out if they’re really going to have all the players they want.

 

6. Wilson Chandler

Current Team: Philadelphia 76ers

New Team: Sacramento Kings

Chandler has been a player who’s moved around so much over his career, and he’ll continue to do so. I hope he can find a big deal and be settled with one team again. With the Kings, it could be it. They’re on the rise and hoping to make the playoffs this year, if not the next. With the young team they’ve assembled, a playoff appearance could be in the near future, and it will be a good thing to see from this franchise.

 

7. Rudy Gay

Current Team: San Antonio Spurs

New Team: San Antonio Spurs

Gay has found a way to remain relevant in the NBA, and the Spurs seem to fit him well. He may visit other teams to see what they can offer, but he fits the Spurs well and I can see him adding a few more years with them.

 

8. Trevor Ariza

Current Team: Washington Wizards

New Team: Denver Nuggets

Since he came into the league, Ariza has always been known as one of the better three and D guys. He made several big plays as a member of the Lakers in their 2008-09 season. He’s helped several other teams, such as the Wizards and Houston Rockets, make the playoffs and be better defensively. I think him being added to the Nuggets will be a good spot for him. He can come in and set the tone for what the Nuggets want to do on defense. We already know they can score, but the addition to Ariza could help slow down their opponents.

 

9. Jabari Parker

Current Team: Washington Wizards

New Team: Washington Wizards

Parker hasn’t really been able to fit into the NBA like he’s wanted to. He had too many injuries in Milwaukee, which led to them letting him go. He got traded again from Chicago to the Washington Wizards. I think the Wizards are a better fit for him, because he’s not having to be be a star there. He was also able to learn behind Trevor Ariza, so if Parker can stay healthy, he could be a better player for the Wizards this year.

 

10. Kelly Oubre

Current Team: Phoenix Suns

New Team: Phoenix Suns

Speaking of the Wizards and Ariza, they traded Kelly Oubre to Phoenix for him. It made sense for the Wizards, because Oubre was costing them too much. That’s why they also shopped Otto Porter Jr. It was good for both Oubre and the Suns, who’ll likely stay together one more year on the player option and see where that takes them. I like this for both sides.

 

I hope you enjoyed the list of players who’ll hit free agency on July 1st. Don’t forget to share and comment what you think about each player and where they’ll be playing next season.

Check out our other position predictions:

Point Guards

Centers

Power Forwards

Shooting Guards

Did the Warriors have the most disappointing arena farewell of all-time?

Being down 3-2 in the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors had a golden opportunity to extend the series to a Game 7. Game 6 was played at Oracle Arena, but it wasn’t just any Game 6. This Game 6 was the last game the Warriors would ever play here. Warriors players and fans alike were hoping that would spark their team to a Game 6 victory and another championship. Instead, their farewell to Oracle may have turned out to be the most disappointing farewell of all-time.

Warriors

It was win or go home for the Golden State Warriors in Game 6. After all, they would never play another game at Oracle. They had the home crowd. They had the momentum after coming off a Game 5 victory in Toronto. On top of that, they had motivation to win this one for KD, who ruptured his achilles in the previous game.

Everything was on their side. Everything was set up for the Warriors to give their fans one last show at Oracle before moving to a new arena. However, instead of giving Warriors fans something to cheer about one more time, what could have gone wrong, did go wrong.

 

Crowning new NBA Champs

The result of Game 6 was a Raptors win, which meant they were now the NBA Champs. The last game to ever be played at Oracle Arena resulted in the Toronto Raptors raising the trophy. What kind of farewell memory is that? It’s a memory many Warriors fans will want to forget, but I doubt it’ll be easy. How do you forget the last game to ever be played in this historic stadium? The memory of the Toronto Raptors winning a title in this building will last forever.

 

Losing Klay Thompson

If it wasn’t already bad enough to see another team win the NBA title in their building, Warriors fans had to see one of their stars, Klay Thompson, leave the game with what we now know is a torn ACL. What does this mean for their future?

Well, Klay Thompson is set to become a free agent, and it’s possible the Warriors could have seen the last of him as a Warrior. In what could have been his last game as a Warrior, Warriors fans had to see Thompson leave the game early with a serious injury.

What kind of last memory of Klay Thompson as a Warrior would that be?

 

Losing KD in Game 5

Technically, losing KD had nothing to do with the final game played at Oracle Arena. However, Warriors fans likely will never see Durant play another game for the Warriors.

Despite questions about how valuable KD was to the Warriors, Durant made his presence felt when he scored 11 points in 12 minutes during Game 5, which ultimately boosted the Warriors to extending the series. Shortly after dominating the first quarter, Kevin Durant went down with a devastating injury, an injury that could potentially never allow fans to see Durant in a Warriors jersey again.

It’s pretty likely Warriors fans were expecting Durant to be gone after this season anyway, but I doubt they thought they’d see Durant go out like that. They didn’t even get to see Durant play the final game at Oracle Arena. Just another disappointment.

 

Most disappointing farewell of all-time? 

It’s not every day we see an NBA team move from one arena to another. For that reason, I have to admit I haven’t seen a whole lot of them. Regardless of that, I don’t think there’s ever been a more disappointing final game in an arena than Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

KD didn’t play, and may never be a Warrior again. Klay Thompson got hurt, and may never be a Warrior again. If either of them are, they’re likely not playing next season. one didn’t get to play the final game at Oracle, and the other didn’t get to finish it. On top of that, the Toronto Raptors won a championship in the arena on its final night. How could you be more disappointed?

Unfortunately, the farewell to Oracle Arena could be a painful, long lasting memory in the hearts and minds of Warriors fans everywhere.

 

Buy or Sell: Toronto Raptors, NL MVP and Kevin Durant

This week we are back to the traditional “Buy or Sell,” where we focus on more than one sport at a time. Over the past several weeks, we’ve taken three topics from a sport and given you our thoughts.

Whether it’s been NFL, NHL, MLB or NBA, we’ve given you the best thoughts we can. This week is no different. This week we’ll be focusing on an NBA team in pursuit of an NBA title, two likely candidates for MVP honors in MLB, and one of the biggest NBA free agents.

Cody Bellinger” by Ian D’Andrea is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
  • After his unreal four bounce buzzer beating game-winner in game seven against the Philadelphia 76ers on Mother’s day, Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors are looking to make it to the NBA Finals, but can they win an NBA title this year?
  • How about the National League MVP race? Of course it’s still way to early, but can Christain Yelich or Cody Bellinger win NL MVP?
  • What will the next chapter in Kevin Durant’s career be?

Let’s find out what Dan, Joel and I think about these topics!

Rahim: Kawhi and the Raptors win the NBA title this year

Joel: I’m going to sell Kawhi and the Raptors winning the title this year. Kawhi is a great player, but I’m not sure his team has enough to overcome what the Bucks and Warriors bring. Yes, I’m already plugging the Warriors into the Finals. Kawhi was able to overcome poor play by his teammates against the 76ers, but I don’t see it happening against either the Bucks or Warriors. The Bucks were the best team in the league this season, and the Warriors are the Warriors. You can’t have bad play from key players against these two teams.

If the Raptors get by the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals, I seriously doubt Kawhi can carry the Raptors over the Warriors if he’s not getting the help he needs. The Warriors are dominating right now, and they don’t even have Kevin Durant playing. In the Finals with Kevin Durant, I can’t buy the Raptors winning the title.

Dan: I’m going to sell Kawhi and the Raptors winning the title this year. The Bucks are better than the Raptors, and the Warriors are certainly better than the Raptors. They didn’t play that great in the series against a tough Philadelphia team. Unfortunately for Kawhi, it’s just not his year this year.

Dan: Either Christian Yelich or Cody Bellinger will win NL MVP

Rahim: As A Dodgers fan, I would love to see Bellinger win the National League MVP, but Christian Yelich is making a real case to repeat. There are also many other players in the mix right now, so I’ll have to sell this! It’s also still early in the season, as most teams have only played a quarter of the season. Some players could get hotter later down the road and over take both these guys.

Guys like Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, and Bryce Harper. I know none of these guys are playing at the level that we are use to seeing them play, but they could likely start to heat up. And both the Brewers and Dodgers have so much talent on their teams that the production of Bellinger and Yelich may fall as well. And it’s also tough to repeat as MVP in back-to-back seasons, so it will a tough task to do so. I mean the last player to win back-to-back MVPs was Miguel Cabera in 2012 and 2013. Although I sell this idea right now, I do see that this could happen.

Joel: I agree with Rahim that it’s still early in the season, so giving a firm buy or sell is hard here. For sake of the question, I’ll buy this. If I had to choose one, I’d go with Cody Bellinger. His stats are slightly better than those of Yelich at the moment, but Yelich is still having a great season.

Cody Bellinger ranks first in the NL in runs, hits, RBIs and batting average. He also ranks second in home runs right now. Yelich ranks first in home runs, fourth in runs, 13th in hits, third in RBIs and sixth in batting average. Yelich has played three less games than Bellinger to this point, but overall, Bellinger has the better numbers.

Again, it’s still too early to say for sure on this, but based on their numbers right now, I’ll buy it.

Joel: Kevin Durant will leave if the Warriors win another title, but if they don’t, he’ll stay.

Dan: I sell Kevin Durant staying with the Warriors. Pretty much everyone has said Kevin Durant is leaving, and I believe it. Could you blame him?

If the Knicks offer him a max contract, they could potentially team him up with Kyrie Irving and R.J. Barrett, or whoever else they might draft with the No. 3 pick. Or maybe it’ll be Anthony Davis, depending on if New York wants to trade their third pick and if the New Orleans Pelicans are willing to do that trade. It just makes so much sense, and would turn the Knicks into an instant title contender.

Rahim: I agree with Dan in the sense that Kevin Durant will not return. In the question, Joel has asked that he’ll leave if the Warriors win, but stay if they lose. I buy him leaving in both cases. Not sure it’ll be the Knicks anymore, but it will be somewhere that makes him the highest paid player in the league.

What I am more interested in is who else will join him? Like Dan said, there is a potential that Kyrie Irving can join him. But there are several other names that could be in the picture. Names like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, and even LeBron James. I say these names because this could be the biggest summer of all for the NBA and it’s free agency period.

I mean putting your feelings aside about how you feel about now the draft lottery went on Tuesday night, this is going to be one heck of a summer despite whether Zion Williamson goes to the Pelicans at one in the draft or Kevin Durant decides to join an already super team in place again like he did when he first joined the Golden State Warriors.

************************************************************************

And there you have it! Now, what do you think?

  • Can Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors win the NBA title this year?
  • Will Christian Yelich or Cody Bellinger win the National League MVP?
  • Will Kevin Durant stay or leave Golden State depending on if they win the title or not?
Let us know your thoughts in the comment!

Buy or Sell: 2001 Patriots, OKC Thunder, Fultz’ fresh start

It’s been a long time since we’ve done an edition of Buy or Sell, but it’s back now, and we hope to keep it going.

James Harden” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In this returning version of Buy or Sell, Mickayeen Farner, Joel Deering and I discuss three big topics. These topics include the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots from 2001, the 2012 Oklahoma City Thunder team that could’ve been, and a former No. 1 overall pick looking for a fresh start to prove he’s worthy of being number one.

So let’s see what we all have to say this week.

Mickayeen: The 2001 Patriots would still have won the Super Bowl if Bledsoe was the starter over Brady in that game. (Some forget, Brady was injured in the AFC championship and it was Bledsoe who took them to the Super Bowl).

RahimAli: I buy the 2001 New England Patriots would have won the Super Bowl if Drew Bledsoe was the QB. I mean yeah, it’s a great story for Tom Brady to have won his first Super Bowl after taking over the starting job when Bledsoe went down with an injury. However, it was Bledsoe, not Brady who helped get them into the Super Bowl.

Let me also remind you all that it was the Patriots’ defense and kicker who helped Brady win that Super Bowl. You can relive the moments of that Super Bowl here. Also, take a look at the stats by Brady in the Super Bowl and Bledsoe in the AFC Championship.

For Brady in the AFC Championship win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, he went 12-15 for 115 yards and zero touchdowns. Bledsoe was 10-21 for 102 yards and one touchdown. That one touchdown was the only offense scored by the Patriots, as they got two special teams touchdowns and a field goal by Adam Vinatieri.

Brady went into the Super Bowl and went 16-27 for 145 yards and one touchdown. That was also the only offensive score for the Patriots in that 20-17 win.

So could Bledsoe have gotten the Patriots the win? Yes, he could have. Time management is the biggest thing in the fourth quarter of an NFL game going down to the wire. He was able to manage the clock in the second half of the championship the week prior, ultimately scoring a touchdown and setting up the kick.

Would the game plan have gone a different? Probably, but both Patriots QBs at the time could’ve won that game.

Joel: I buy the Patriots winning the Super Bowl in 2001 if Bledsoe was the QB over Brady. It’s not like Brady was the greatest QB in that game. His passer rating was 86.2. He completed just 59.3% of his passes for 145 and one TD. It’s not like he was spectacular. He’s was average at best.

I agree with RahimAli that it was the defense of the Patriots who won that game for them. The kicker helped too. Tom Brady did help the Patriots get into position to score points, but with how the defense played in that game, I think Bledsoe could have done just as good of a job.

 

RahimAli: If they stayed together, Westbrook and Harden would have helped Durant bring a title to Oklahoma City?

Mickayeen: I sell the idea that Westbrook, Harden and Durant would have, if they stayed together, brought a championship to OKC. Both Harden and Westbrook have become ball-dominant guards with below-average defensive skills. It’s because of that I don’t think they would have been able to win it all with those two on the same team.

That doesn’t sound like a good recipe for playoff success. One could argue that Harden would have been great off the bench, but I just don’t see how Harden would have been worth an extra three wins against the Heat in 2012 or how he could have improved them enough to get past the Spurs in subsequent years.

Joel: I’ll buy that Durant, Westbrook and Harden would have brought a title to OKC had they stayed together.

First off, they made it to the NBA Finals in 2012. Yes, they lost, but Durant was just 23, Westbrook was only 23 and Harden was just 22.

With Harden gone, it took OKC until 2016 to almost make it back to the Finals. That’s the year they were up 3-1 on the Warriors and ended up losing. I believe if they still had Harden that year, they would have made the Finals and closed out the series instead of blowing it.

Mickayeen makes a good point that Harden and Westbrook are ball dominant guards, but I think that could have worked. Many thought Harden and Chris Paul wouldn’t work because they’re both ball dominant guards, but that has worked out nicely for them.

Westbrook likes the ball, but he has learned to take a back seat to Paul George. I think with more time with Durant and Harden, Westbrook would have figured out how to play a lot better with them, resulting in at the very least another Finals appearance, if not a championship.

 

Joel: Markelle Fultz having a fresh start in Orlando will result in him living up to being the No. 1 overall pick in his draft class.

RahimAli: I buy the fresh start for Markelle Fultz, but I’m selling on him living up to the hype of being the No. 1 overall pick. I don’t even think he’s the best pick in his class, and he wasn’t the right pick for a team that’s all about “the process.”

I’m not saying Fultz is a bust at No. 1, because we honestly haven’t seen a full season out of him yet. But guys like Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum and Kyle Kuzma will probably have a better chance at living up to the hype.

This move is good for Fultz though, because he gets to go to an Orlando Magic team who hasn’t found their identity at the point guard position. They thought it might have been Elfrid Payton, but we saw how that worked out last season. The Magic are in the hunt for a playoff spot, and they have good pieces around Fultz to help him grow and excel his game.

With the Sixers, they used his struggle to motivate Ben Simmons to be the point guard, and there just wasn’t enough minutes for Fultz to get the experience he needs to try to live up to the expectations of being a No. 1 pick.

Mickayeen: I semi-sell the idea that Fultz having a fresh start will result in him living up to the hype of a first overall pick. I say semi because I do think a fresh start will be good for him. He might even make an all-star game or two, but I don’t think he’ll ever live up to the number one overall pick.

When I think number one overall, I think of guys like Hakeem Olajuwon, Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Shaq, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, etc… you get the idea. It’s a high bar to try and reach, but it comes with the number one overall pick.

************************************************************************************And there you have it! Now, what do you think?

  • Could Bledsoe have won the Super Bowl for the Patriots in 2001?
  • Would Durant, Harden and Westbrook have won titles for Oklahoma City if they stayed together?
  • Will Fultz’ move to Orlando help him prove he deserved to be the No. 1 overall pick?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Takeaways From Game 3 of the 2018 NBA Finals

LeBron James
LeBron James” by Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0

LeBron James Might Have to Leave Cleveland if He Wants to Win Another Championship

Cleveland is now down 3-0 in the NBA Finals, and are on the verge of getting swept. Even if the Cavs do win Game 4 or possibly Game 5, they’re not going to be the NBA Champions this year. I wouldn’t put it past LeBron to overcome being down 3-0 based on what we’ve seen him do before, but I would put it past pretty much every other Cavaliers player. With how the Warriors and some of these other teams are built or are being built, LeBron James isn’t going to win another championship if he stays in Cleveland. The only way he can stay and win is by recruiting other stars to come play there with him, but I doubt that will happen. There have been rumors that LeBron James could go to the Warriors this offseason, and honestly, he might have to if he wants to win more championships. He’s the best player in the world, and he’s already brought one championship to Cleveland, but there’s only so much he can do with the players he has surrounding him right now. If LeBron does go to a team like the Warriors, it could really ruin the NBA, but he may just have to do it if he wants a lighter load and more championships.

Rodney Hood Should Have Been Playing This Whole Time

So why hasn’t Rodney Hood been playing again? He finally got his chance in Game 3 and he made the most of it. Hood played 26 minutes in Game 3 and scored 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Hood showed his ability to create his own shot, which is something the Cavaliers could have used earlier in this series. There’s a reason why LeBron usually has to create all the shots. It’s because they can’t do it themselves. Playing Hood obviously didn’t turn into a win for the Cavaliers, but it did show them he can be a valuable player for this team. He should continue getting opportunities for as long as the series goes on, especially with the way some Cavs are shooting right now.

These Refs Are Just Bad

If you’ve read my past two articles for Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals, you know how I feel about these refs. They’ve made terrible calls, mostly against the Cavaliers. I was hoping something would change after they’ve taken so much heat from the sports world, but no. Things continued to be called in favor of the Golden State Warriors. What I’m mostly referring to this time is the free throws. Going into half time, the Cavaliers hadn’t shot a single free throw, while the Warriors had shot 13 free throws. That’s just wrong. I was watching that game the entire time, and I refuse to believe the Cavaliers weren’t fouled while shooting at least one time during the first half of this game. Cleveland did end up shooting 17 free throws in the second half, which evened out the free throw attempts for both teams, but still, 0 free throws in a half of basketball? Come on refs.

Kevin Durant Wants His Doubters to Shut Up About How He Wins Championships

Ever since Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors, he’s had more and more doubters. A lot of people have said he can’t win a championship by himself. One of those people is me, I’ll admit it. It is kinda true because he could never win one with the Thunder and then joined three other all-stars to win his first, but last night Durant showed his ability to be a true champion. Steph Curry scored 11 points on 3-of-16 shooting last night, while Klay Thompson scored 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting. While Steph and Klay were having terrible nights, Durant scored 43 points and hit multiple daggers to put Cleveland away. Yes, he does get a lot of help most nights, but last night the champion inside Kevin Durant came out. Anyone who doubts Kevin Durant as an NBA Champion should doubt him a little less right now.

Steph Curry Probably Ruined His Shot at Winning Finals MVP

After the first two games of this series, there was a lot of talk about who would be the Finals MVP. It looked like Steph Curry was the front runner for the award after he had 29 and 33 points in the first two games. Last night was different. Steph scored 11 points, while his teammate Kevin Durant went off for 43 points. In my opinion, this 11 point performance ruined Curry’s chance at winning Finals MVP. Kevin Durant took over big time last night and put himself in the drivers seat to win the award. He’s now scored 26, 26, and 43 in three games. Sorry Steph, but it looks like you still won’t be a Finals MVP.

 

Takeaways From Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals

LeBron James
LeBron James” by Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Game 1 of the NBA Finals is in the books and the Warriors have a 1-0 lead on the Cavaliers. It was a good game for pretty much the entire game, but the Warriors ran away with it at the end. As I did last year during the NBA Finals, I’m sharing my takeaways from each game. What did I learn from Game 1? Let’s take a look.

J.R. Smith is an Idiot

If I’m LeBron James, Ty Lue, any Cavaliers player, a Cavaliers fan, or anyone rooting for the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, I’d be infuriated with J.R. Smith right now. I’m actually rooting for the Cavs so I am infuriated with J.R. Smith right now. After a missed free throw by George Hill, J.R. Smith gets the offensive rebound. What seemed to be a good play quickly went wrong when J.R. Smith forgot how to play basketball, which ultimately cost the Cavaliers a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals. Smith should have done one of two things. One option was to shoot the ball and potentially make the shot to give the Cavaliers the win. The second option, which actually should have been his first option, was to pass the ball to LeBron James and let him take the game winning shot. The way LeBron has been hitting clutch and game winning shots this postseason, I believe he would have won the game for the Cavs. The entire NBA world is ripping on Smith right now because he’s one of the main reasons why the Cavs lost this game.

The Refs Screwed the Cavs

Another major reason why the Cavs lost Game 1 is because the refs screwed them over big time. There were probably some wrong calls throughout the game, but the refs really got some calls wrong in the fourth quarter which hurt the Cavs. First, Kevin Durant drives to the rim and LeBron makes a clean strip, but the refs call it a foul. Could have been points for the Cavs, but instead turned into Warriors points. Next, LeBron is backing down Curry, and then Looney clearly hits him on the arm, which leads to a turnover. No call. Could have been Cavs points, but the refs screwed them. Another time, LeBron draws a charge on Durant, but then it gets reversed by the refs after review. LeBron wasn’t in the restricted area, and he was in legal guarding position. Could have turned into Cavs points, but instead it was more points for the Warriors. I’m not excusing the idiotic play by J.R. Smith or the Cavaliers play in OT, but it probably shouldn’t have been a tied game when George Hill was shooting that second free throw. The Cavaliers should have already had a safe lead, but the refs decided to make some horrible calls against them. Hopefully I don’t get fined for saying that.

Kevin Durant Being Considered the Best Player in the NBA is Even More Laughable Than Last Year

Remember last year in the NBA Finals when Kevin Durant had a big game and all of a sudden people started to think he’d overtaken LeBron as the best player in the NBA?? HAHAHAHA. All I could do was laugh. Kevin Durant wasn’t then and he’s not now. If you put Kevin Durant in LeBron’s place, the Cavaliers would probably have lost to the Pacers in the first round. They for sure wouldn’t be in the NBA Finals. Kevin Durant can’t do what LeBron James does. There’s a reason he had to join a team who had already been in the NBA Finals two years in a row with three other All-Stars to win a championship. Give that to any star player and they could do that. Kevin Durant could never do what LeBron does.

This Series Might Actually Be Competitive

Despite losing Game 1, the Cavaliers have given hope to anyone hoping for a competitive NBA Finals. This game went back and forth up until OT. The Cavaliers were up and then the Warriors came back. The Warriors were up and then the Cavaliers came back. This game could easily be 1-0 in the Cavaliers favor right now. The Warriors were supposed to run away with this championship. They might still win the series 4-0 or 4-1, but at least the Cavaliers showed they’re not going to go down easily. Hopefully the mistake at the end of the fourth quarter and the horrible play in OT doesn’t carry over to Game 2.

 

Why Don’t the Warriors Trust Their Game?

33139311636_8302c11612_o.jpg
Stephen Curry” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Why don’t the Warriors trust their game? I just can’t seem to figure this one out, so maybe you guys can help me. Before you answer, let me break this down so you understand exactly what I mean.

About a week ago I wrote an article about how Kevin Durant needs to start playing the Warriors game if they were to get back to the NBA Finals. I focused heavily on Kevin Durant because he had 1 assist through the first two games of the Western Conference Finals. I did note that the Warriors team assists were a bit lower than they usually were, with Kevin Durant’s lack of assists being the main reason why. I also noted that Draymond Green and Steph Curry were the only two players who were consistently sharing the ball.

Since I wrote that article about Kevin Durant, his assists over the next three games were 6, 3, and 0. In Game 3, which the Warriors won, Durant actually passed the ball. Then in games 4 and 5, which they lost, it was back to iso ball for him.

Durant and Curry

Over the last three games, Durant hasn’t been the only one who isn’t playing the Warriors game. Steph Curry went from having 8 and 7 assists in games 1 and 2, to having 1 and 2 assists in games 3 and 4. When Durant finally started playing the Warriors game in Game 3 by having 6 assists, Steph Curry was the one who wasn’t playing their game. In Game 4, neither of them played the Warriors game with Durant being the high assist man out of the two by having 3 assists. Then in last night’s game, Curry had 6 assists while Durant had 0. I guess what we can take from this, is that Steph Curry and Kevin Durant aren’t on the same page.

The Bench

Now let’s move to the bench. During the regular season, the Warriors had six bench players who averaged 1.4 assists or more. If you throw Andre Iguodala in there, it’d be seven, but he’s been a starter in this series which is why I didn’t count him. Not just in this series, but throughout the playoffs, the Warriors have had only three players averaging 1.1 assists or more. The bench also doesn’t seem to be on the same page with the rest of the team. In last night’s game, four Warriors bench players had at least 1 assist, but in Game 4, not a single bench player had an assist. Games 1 and 2 were decent for the bench, having multiple players with assists in both games, but Game 3 saw just one Warriors bench player have an assist.

Draymond Green

Despite all the inconsistent ball movement by the Warriors, there’s been one player who’s been consistent in this series and throughout the playoffs. That player is Draymond Green. Green’s assist numbers for each game have been 9, 6, 6, 8, and 4. That averages out to be 6.6 assists per game. If you look further into Draymond Green’s assists, he’s the only starter on the team who’s averaged more assists in the playoffs than he did in the regular season, and one of three total Warriors players to average more. Draymond Green seems to be the only Warrior who trusts their system, so I give him props for sticking to their game while just about everyone is trying to do something else.

Where’s All the Trust?

For those of you who watched the game last night, you might remember a moment where it showed Steve Kerr talking to Kevin Durant. Kerr told Durant a story about Michael Jordan in which he said this:

“When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game. He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren’t getting anything going. Phil Jackson said ‘Who’s open?’ He said, ‘John Paxson.’”

“I want to trust your teammates early,” Kerr said. “What you’re doing is you’re getting to the rim and then you’re trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?”

Well as I noted before, Kevin Durant finished the game with 0 assists. It didn’t seem to me like Durant trusted his teammates. Often times we try to blame a coach, but you can’t blame Steve Kerr for what’s going on with the Warriors right now. It’s obvious he’s trying to get his players to play how they usually play. He told Durant what he needed to do, but Durant didn’t do it. I haven’t seen him say anything like that to Steph Curry or other players, but I’m sure he has.

For whatever reason, the Golden State Warriors aren’t playing their game and aren’t trusting each other. The Houston Rockets have actually played some horrible basketball in this series, but are leading 3-2 because the Warriors aren’t doing what they do best. If the Warriors don’t figure this out soon (by soon I mean Game 6), then the Houston Rockets will be in the NBA Finals.