Buy or Sell: DeAndre Hopkins, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luis Severino

It’s another week of “Buy or Sell,” and this week we’ve got topics from each of the three major sports in the USA. Sorry, Hockey isn’t getting much love this summer after the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup. We’ll bring that back when the season starts.

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DeAndre Hopkins” by Victor Araiza is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

For now, we’ll focus on topics from the NFL, NBA and MLB, as Joel and Dan join me in this week’s edition. Each question deals with a player’s success helping his team on their way to a possible championship.

Joel: After receiving a 99 overall rating on Madden 20, WR DeAndre Hopkins won’t lead the NFL in any receiving category next season?

Dan: I’m selling this. This is an easy sell because of just two stats that may not even be considered. One stat is his catching percentage (70.6), which was a career high. With a healthy Deshaun Watson, we could see Hopkins continue to put up great numbers, just like greats before him. Rahim will get into the comparisons below.

Rahim: I don’t believe in the Madden ratings or the Madden Curse, so I’m going to sell this. I’m also selling this because Hopkins is one of the top receivers in the league and there is no way he doesn’t lead the league in at least one receiving category.

Let’s think of it this way, he is the No. 1 target on his team and has the best hands in the league. When was the last time you’ve seen him drop a ball that was catchable? When we look at top receivers, we think of guys like Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., Davante Adams and Hopkins.

You could add guys like Amari Cooper and Juju Smith-Schuster as well, but they all have an offense that has more than one weapon available to them. I see Jones having the most catches 20+ yards. Hopkins could be there with him.

Brown will likely get most of the teams targets, like we expect Hopkins to do. There’s no saying what Beckham will do with that talented offense the the Browns have put together.

We expect Adams, Cooper and Juju to get most of the receptions on their teams as well. However, with a great running game and other role players, they will lose some receptions.

Hopkins is the only pass catcher Watson can really trust, unless Keke Coutee and Will Fuller can get things going again. I also think the running will help open up the field more for Hopkins, as the Houston Texans plan to use D’Onta Foreman more this season.

So I sell that Hopkins won’t lead the league in any category this season. I see his stat line to being about 130 catches for 1700 yards and 15 touchdowns, with a catching percentage of 73.

Rahim: It’s championship or bust for Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks next season?

Joel: I’m going to sell it being championship or bust for Giannis and the Bucks.

I feel like when you say it’s championship or bust, the bust part means they’ll blow up the team and start all over if they don’t win. I feel like the core of this Bucks team will stay together for a while. Giannis has just recently said he plans on sticking around instead of changing teams like several other stars.

He’s only going to keep getting better, and I believe he will win a championship in the next few years. Anytime a star player like Giannis doesn’t win a championship, it’s a disappointment, but I feel like saying it’s a bust would be going too far.

Dan: I sell that it’s championship or bust for Giannis and the Bucks. Giannis has stated that he is there for the long haul, and Khris Middleton just signed a very nice contract to return. These are two guys who aren’t old, and they’ll be together for a while.

The Eastern Conference is still the much weaker conference, and the only thing that stopped the Bucks from reaching last year’s finals was Kawhi Leonard. He’s now in the Western Conference.

Giannis can certainly lead this team to a championship. His road isn’t going to be easy with teams like the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers to worry about. Then there’s the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and several more in the Western Conference. Regardless, I believe Giannis has time to win a championship, even if it’s not this year.

Dan: When Luis Severino returns from IL, the Yankees have a better shot at making the World Series if they keep him in the bullpen for 2019?

Joel: I buy the Yankees having a better shot at making the World Series by leaving Severino in the bullpen when he comes back. At 60-33, the Yankees have the best record in the American League right now. If they’ve done this well without Severino, I don’t see why they need to change anything. You don’t fix something if it’s not broken.

Obviously, the Yankees are not broken. If the Yankees can continue their play at this current level, they’ve got a great chance at making it to the World Series. Luis Severino can help make their bullpen even deeper than it is right now, but I don’t think there’s any reason to stick him in the starting rotation.

Rahim: I am buying this too! I think Joel said it best when he said, “You don’t fix something if it’s not broken.” The New York Yankees have battled through a lot of different injury scenarios, which included guys like OF Aaron Judge and several of their starting rotation pitchers, like C.C. Sabathia and Luis Severino.

I honestly counted the Yankees out with the 15+ injured players they had on the injured list, but they managed to pull things together and keep it going with the slim division lead in the American League East. Having Severino coming from the bullpen will also continue to have a guy later in games to set up for Betances and Chapman, so I’m all for it!

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There you have it! Now, what do you think?

  • Will Hopkins lead the NFL in any receiving category next season?
  • Are Giannis and the Bucks in Championship or Bust mode?
  • Does having Luis Severino in the bullpen help the Yankees’ chances at making the World Series?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment!

NBA Free Agency: Top 10 power forwards

After spending the last two days talking about the point guards and centers, we will now turn our attention to the forwards. If you haven’t had a chance yet, you can check out the centers here. Now we’ll move on to their counterpart in the lineup, the power forwards.

Markieff Morris, Paul Millsap
Markieff Morris, Paul Millsap” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

This position might be even more important than the centers because of the way the NBA is transitioning. These players have the ability to stretch the floor, which is what most teams look for. So let’s see where these guys might be going and how they’ll fit.

Top 10 power forwards

1. Paul Millsap

Current Team: Denver Nuggets

New Team: Denver Nuggets

Millsap is one of the veterans on this list who we could find with several different teams. Of course, the Nuggets will have the first option, but they’ll need to work on something that works for both sides. Millsap and Nikola Jokic have been able to do great things together as members of the Denver Nuggets, and I don’t think they want this to end, nor should they. The Nuggets are one of the best teams in the Western conference with these two together, and I hope they can work out a deal.

2. Derrick Favors

Current Team: Utah Jazz

New Team: Utah Jazz

Regardless of all the teams who want Favors on their roster, I think the Jazz will bring him back. With the trade the Jazz made for Mike Conley, they’re looking to be one of the better teams in the Western Conference. It will help them actually be able to use other players in the right role. Favors’ role with Rudy Gobert has helped give the Jazz success, and I don’t see them letting that go yet.

3. Tobias Harris

Current Team: Philadelphia 76ers

New Team: Brooklyn Nets

Let’s face it, the Sixers went all out last year trying to make it to the Finals with the trade they made to get Harris. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out as planned thanks to Kawhi Leonard’s amazing game-winner in game seven. Now the Sixers are in for a lot of changes. They’ll be looking to refill their team around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid once again. I think Harris will be moving elsewhere. A place like Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving could be nice for Harris. He would be able to play his true forward position, which would benefit him.

4. Nikola Mirotic

Current Team: Milwaukee Bucks

New Team: Boston Celtics

Mirotic has been on three different teams in the last three seasons and is looking for a nice place to call home. Milwaukee could still be an option, but with the limited cap space available, he’ll likely be the odd man out. The Celtics could benefit from this, as they’ll be looking to retool their roster without Irving and Al Horford. Let’s not forget that Marcus Morris is likely to leave as well. Mirotic could have a bigger role with the Celtics as a possible starter alongside Jayson Tatum.

5. Marcus Morris

Current Team: Boston Celtics

New Team: New York Knicks

Yeah, Morris leaves Boston too, just like Horford and Irving. However, he leaves because he wanted more money than the Celtics are ready to give. The Knicks have plenty of money and need to find players who want to play there. I think Morris playing with DeAndre Jordan could be a great defensive force for the Knicks. Don’t forget to add Kevin Knox and R. J. Barrett into the mix. The real question is, will they still get a top free agent like Kevin Durant?

6. Julius Randle

Current Team: New Orleans Pelicans

New Team: Indiana Pacers

As soon as the Lakers traded for Anthony Davis, Randle opted out of his deal. I’m not sure if he feels some type of way about his former teammates of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart, but I think he made the right move. Regardless, the Pelicans drafted Zion Williamson, which meant more depth issues. I can see Randle fitting well with the Indiana Pacers. Can you imagine having Ricky Rubio with Myles Turner, Domantas Sabnois and Randle? Let’s not forget about Victor Oladipo and the hope of him returning to the team soon. Randle needs a coach who will help him continue to grow his game, and the players around him will be good too.

7. Kristaps Porzingis

Current Team: Dallas Mavericks (via Knicks)

New Team: Dallas Mavericks

I don’t think I need to explain anything. Despite not playing a game with the Mavericks last season, Porzingis will return. The trade would’ve never taken place if he was just going to get up and leave. We know from reports earlier this week that he and the Mavericks are working on a five-year deal, so expect him to stay.

8. Thaddeus Young

Current Team: Indiana Pacers

New Team: Philadelphia 76ers

Now it’s time for us to have a little fun. With Randle going to Indiana, Thaddeus Young will likely be on the way out. I could see him making a return to where it all began for him. That place is Philadelphia, and Young could be a better fit for what the Sixers are trying to do now. Can you imagine having him with Embiid and Simmons? I know Young isn’t the same caliber player as Harris, but he is a player who can fill the void at the position for them.

9. Kenneth Faried

Current Team: Houston Rockets

New Team: New Orleans Pelicans

With the Rockets pursuing other needs, we could see Faried playing somewhere else. Although, you have to give him a lot of credit for how he stepped up for the Rockets during the absence of Clint Capela. Faried showed he could be a nice role player and a good leader. That’s why I think the Pelicans are a good fit for him. Regardless of whether or not they keep Jahlil Okafor at the center, Faried could be a nice leader to this young team and help Jrue Holiday.

10. Al-Farouq Aminu

Current Team: Portland Trail Blazers

New Team: Milwaukee Bucks

The Blazers have a lot of questions to answer at the forward position, but I think they struck gold in the draft with Nassir Little. They also still have Maurice Harkless on the team, so they might be comfortable letting Aminu leave. With Aminu leaving, he’ll be free to go wherever he wants. I think Milwaukee could be a good fit. Aminu will play the same role Mirotic played last season. The role of backing up Giannis Antetokounmpo, but still being a productive piece off the bench. The Bucks have their eyes set on winning an NBA championship, but they fell short of reaching the finals. With the Bucks adding more players like Aminu, it could put them over the top in the Eastern Conference again.

How will all these players help each of their new teams? Can one or more of them make an impact and get their team over the hump? Or do they need to add some shooting? Don’t worry that’s the next set we’ll be getting too, so stay tuned!

What you missed this weekend: 5/17-5/19

Although most leagues around the world are coming to a close, What you missed this weekend won’t. This weekend, things continue to become more exciting in the NBA and NHL playoffs, the Braves and Cardinals find success in the MLB, an anticipated boxing match ended rather quickly, and as England get their World Cup preparations underway. Also, we have to say good-bye to a few names from the world of sports, which we’ll cover. 

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Stanford vs. Washington State by Daniel Hartwig is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Bob Schloredt passes away at 79

College Football Hall of Famer Bob Schloredt has passed away on Thursday. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989 after leading the University of Washington to consecutive Rose Bowl titles in 1959 and 1960. He received MVP Honors in both Bowl games. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Schloredt and football fans from Fourth Quarter Sports.

 

NBA Playoffs

Warriors’ Curry drops 37 in game 2 comeback to take a 2-0:

Stephen Curry was just too much to handle for Portland Trail Blazers. In game 2 of the conference finals, the 2016 NBA MVP put 37 points passed Trail Blazers in Warriors’ 111-114 victory over them to establish a 2-0 lead for Golden State. Although the scoreline reads a tight encounter between the two, Trail Blazers could’ve squared the series as they had a 15 point lead at half-time. As this game was on the road for Golden State, Kevin Durant didn’t join the team, but that didn’t seem to make much of a difference for as of Sunday night, Warriors currently have a 3-0 lead.

Kwahi Leonard “The Klaw” led his team to a win in double overtime:

Just as Toronto was starting to lose hope, Kwahi Leonard lead his team to victory as Toronto beat Milwaukee 112-118. In the NBA’s first double-overtime game since 2007, The Klaw’s 36 points helped Toronto come back in the series 2-1. Leonard ended up scoring 11 shots and 12 free throws and played for a new personal record 52 minutes.

Tyreke Evans dismissed from NBA:

Pacers’ guard Tyreke Evans has to pack his bags after violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy. This is the third time he’s been suspended, first for anything related to drugs, with the first suspension being in 2010.

 

NHL Playoffs

Boston sweep Carolina:

A few weeks back, in a special NHL edition of Buy or Sell, with Joel Deering, RahimAli Merchant and I, I backed the Boston Bruins to lift the Stanley Cup. On Thursday, Boston knocked Carolina out, beating them and winning the series 4-0, to advance to the Stanley Cup. In game 4, both teams were tied at 0-0 for the first 25 minutes until the Bruins scored back-to-back goals in the powerplay. Boston’s goaltender, Tuukka Rask , also came to the occasion, stopping a whopping 109 of the 114 shots he faced in the four games.

 

NFL

Le’Veon Bell to leave Jets?:

After New Jersey Jets manager Todd Bowles was fired at the end of the 2018-19 season, it seems that interim manager Adam Gase doesn’t think Le’Veon Bell fits in his plans. Gase stated that the Jets spend too much money on Bell, which points towards the possibility of Bell being traded away. Although he could find himself at Seattle or San Francisco, it seems difficult to do so at this stage, and Bell may just have to wait through this upcoming season.

Chris Long retires from Philadelphia:

After winning the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year last season, the defensive end Chris Long has announced the end of this eleven-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles. Retiring at the age of 34, Long won two consecutive Super Bowls, 2016 with the New England Patriots and 2017 with the Eagles. His father, Howie Long, also played in the NFL and combined with Chris Long, both have a total of 154 sacks. This last season, Chris Long held 6.5 sacks to his name, his most since 2013.

 

MLB

Cardinals beat Rangers for the first time since 2011:

Since the World Series eight years ago, the Arizona Cardinals have failed to beat the Texas Rangers until Friday. It was a big win as well, with the Cardinals winning 8-2. The fifth innings seemed to be the breakthrough which saw six runs being scored by Arizona. The Cardinals also pitched well as Dakota Hudson pitched six innings, striking out five batsmen and allowing only two runs.

Ryan Pressly goes 39 games without giving up a run:

In 2011, Craig Kimbrel went 38 games without giving away a single run. In 2019, Ryan Pressly has gone 39 games and counting. He broke the record Friday night in the Houston Astros’ 3-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox. Since August 10, 2018, Pressley has struck out 47 batsmen and allowed only 17 hits and three walks. It was a special night for Pressly as teammate Gerrit Cole remarked: “We were all aware of what he was going for, and wow, what a special moment for him.”

Braves beat Brewers in dramatic series:

On Friday, 20 runs were scored as the Atlanta Braves beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-12. On Saturday, the Braves won, but just barely as Freddie Freeman’s homer in the tenth innings was the difference, handing Atlanta a 4-3 win and the series. This made Atlanta the first NL East team to beat Milwaukee in a series this season. However, the drama wasn’t over just yet. The Brewers found solace in another overtime game as this time, the Brewers won 3-2, thanks to Ben Gamel.

 

Boxing

Wilder quiets Breazeale in the first round:

The rivalry between heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder and challenger Dominic Breazeale had reached such a high point that Wilder threatened to kill Brezeale in the ring. Such didn’t happen, but Breazeale’s will was killed within seconds. Wilder’s right-hand punch to Breazeale’s jaw was the difference as Breazeale was knocked out in the first round. Wilder has now tied Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson, and Lennox Lewis for nine consecutive titles.

 

Soccer:

Manchester City hero announces retirement:

Another athlete hung up the boots this weekend, this time, in England. Manchester City and Belgium captain and defender Vincent Kompany announced he’s played his last game for City after City won their fourth Premier League title, the last two being back-to-back. Despite facing an injury-filled career, Kompany’s long-range goal against Leicester City in the 70th minute ensured City were favorites going into the final week and prevented Liverpool from winning the title. Kompany’s leaving City after winning the domestic treble this season after winning the PL, Domestic Cup and the FA Cup, and will start managing for Anderlecht in Belgium.

 

Cricket:

England stumbles to victory at Trent Bridge:

Pakistan’s poor bowling continued to cost them as England chased down Pakistan’s 340-7 with three wickets and balls to spare. In the first innings, after Imam Ul-Haq was retired hurt, Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hafeez both made half-centuries while Babar Azam found a century. England opener Jason Roy replied with a century as well before Mohammad Hasnain took his wicket. Spin made the difference as Imad Wasim and Shoaib Malik found wickets, but Ben Stokes’ 71(64)* and Tom Curran’s 31(30) lead England to victory.

Chris Woakes bowls well in Leeds:

England wrapped up the series with a 4-0 win over Pakistan as England won the final ODI at Headingley in Leeds by 54 runs. England achieved a score of 340-7; half-centuries from Joe Root and captain Eoin Morgan and Shaheen Shah Afridi and Imad Wasim shared seven wickets. In the second innings, Pakistan was exposed to a poor start by losing three wickets in the first six runs. Babar Azam and wicketkeeper/captain Sarfaraz Ahmed steading the ship with a partnership worth 146 runs. However, Pakistan collapsed after Sarfaraz was stumped out on 97(80). Afridi and Hasnain had a comical partnership of 47 runs at the end of the innings, but the game was already lost for Pakistan by then.

Amir, Asif, Wahab in for World Cup:

Right after the England series, Pakistan announced their final World Cup squad. After an excellent performance in the England series with two half-centuries, Asif Ali was included over opener Abid Ali. From the need of serious pace in England, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz have been recalled, replacing Faheem Ashraf and Junaid Khan.

Asif Ali mourns daughter’s passing:

After a long battle with cancer, Ali’s daughter has passed away at the age of 19 months after receiving treatment in the U.S. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, teammates and friends of Asif Ali from us here at Fourth Quarter Sports.

USA Women find light in T20I series against Canada:

As the men’s team finds success in ODI cricket, the women are roaring through the T20 format. The US beat Canada 3-0 in a T20 series, the first by ten wickets after restricting Canada to 66-6, the second by 37 runs after bowling Canada out for 76 and the final one by 35 runs after the Canadians could only score 81-6. In the first T20I, medium-pacer Lisa Ramjit broke records after bowling 2-5 in her four overs.

Kawhi vs Giannis is the modern day Jordan vs Shaq

The two historic playoff runs of Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo has led NBA fans to compare them to two of the greatest this game has ever seen, and now we get to see them go to war to the best of seven games!

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Giannis Antetokoummpo” by Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0Article by Jett Hatton

Although the two may be of different builds and personalities, Kawhi and Giannis are the modern-day reincarnations of Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal.

 

KAWHI LEONARD

This postseason, Kawhi is dominating his opposition on both ends of the court in a Jordaneske fashion. He’s currently averaging 31.8 points-per-game in the playoffs, while being the second most efficient player behind big man Nikola Jokic. Showcasing his elite mid-range and tough shot making ability in the moments where it counts most – clutch time. In what has been a historic playoff run, The Klaw most recently created history by sending Joel Embiid and Philadelphia 76ers home with nothing but a swarm of tissues.

With four seconds left on the clock in game seven of the series, Kawhi hit one of the toughest game-winning shots in NBA history. It was the first buzzer beater in a game seven EVER! Not to mention, he got the shot off over seven-foot DPOY candidate Joel Embiid to ice the game and add his 41st point. The only other players in NBA history you could imagine making that kind of a shot, would be none other than the likes of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.

 

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO

Shaquille O’Neal himself handed the title of ‘superman’ over to Giannis. Like Shaq, Giannis has been the most dominating force in the NBA. He’s led the Milwaukee Bucks to the Eastern Conference Finals with only one post-season loss. He’s averaging Shaq-like numbers of 27.4 points and 11.3 rebounds, while adding 1.2 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. What is crazy is, he has only played 38+ minutes once in his nine playoff games. However, the one thing Shaq didn’t have was a 3-point shot, with the Greek Freak hitting 32% of his shots behind the arc in the playoffs.

Although Giannis hasn’t been showing his talents off in the clutch like Kawhi, he isn’t allowing for the team to be in that position, with the closest game being a win by seven points against the Celtics. Apart from that game and the one loss, the Bucks have won by 12 points or more each game – winning by 20 or more on five occasion, including a 35-point blowout.

 

WHO LEADS THEIR TEAM TO THE FINALS?

You can make great cases for both sides to triumph to the finals, and obviously a series is decided by more than one lone player, but this is more about Giannis vs Kawhi rather than the Raptors vs the Bucks.

Which of the two will replace LeBron James as the representative for the Eastern Conference? It’s a tough question, and I’m guessing we will be gifted with another long series. MJ won six and Shaq won four, and I’ve got Kawhi coming on top here. There is no one in the league who can guard Giannis, but I’m a firm believer The Klaw can make another trip to the NBA finals, and continue to write history.

Being a finals MVP, he already has the championship blood, and he has just been the better player during these playoffs. I’m not knocking the talent of Giannis and the Bucks, only having only lost one game and putting up historic numbers as a team, but they played a Pistons squad without Blake Griffin for two games, and then faced a dysfunctional Celtics team who had more problems than one could imagine.

On the other hand, the path handed to Kawhi and the Raptors wasn’t of the same ease. He disposed of a hungry Magic team in the first round, a team which had a bunch of talent. Then they were stacked against the Philadelphia 76ers, who had an insane starting five. And yes, it took him seven games to knock them off, but in the end, The Klaw ended them in style.

This series will have plenty of close games, but Kawhi is the rare type of player who you can give the ball to and trust to take the team to the promise land.

Which remaining NBA team is best equipped to dethrone the Warriors?

If you’re a fan of the NBA and not a Golden State Warriors fan, there’s a good chance you’re rooting against the defending NBA champions this postseason. It’s about time we see the Warriors’ dynasty come to an end, but is there a team who can dethrone the Warriors?

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Joel Embiid” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

On my way to work a few days ago, I asked my co-worker who he thought, if anyone can, has the best chance at dethroning the Golden State Warriors as NBA champions. He answered by saying the Philadelphia 76ers. I politely disagreed, but realized I didn’t have a sure answer to my own question.

Who do I think has the best chance to dethrone the defending champs? We’ll get there in a minute, but first let me tell you why I don’t think it’s the 76ers. Yes, the 76ers have a starting lineup that’s perhaps the second best in the NBA, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the best chance at beating the Warriors.

For any team to beat the Warriors, there are two main things that team needs to do. What are those two things?

  1. Shoot well

  2. Play great defense

For the 76ers, I believe their talent matches up to what the Warriors have, but their shooting doesn’t. Ben Simmons can’t shoot, Joel Embiid can shoot, but he’s not consistent, and both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris are solid shooters, but neither measure up to what the Warriors can do. I’m confident in JJ Redick as a shooter, but he’s not going to have the ball as much as Simmons, Embiid, Butler and Harris.

As far as their defense goes, the 76ers rank seventh among the 16 playoff teams in points allowed per game. Not bad, but it’s also not great either. In order to beat the Warriors, I think a team needs to have a great defense while also having a great shooting team. I believe the 76ers could win a game or two against the Warriors, but I don’t think they shoot well enough or play good enough defense.

Is there a team like that remaining in the NBA playoffs? Yes.

Who is it? The Milwaukee Bucks.

Milwaukee Bucks - Dethrone Warriors
“Giannis Antetokounmpo” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

How did I come to the conclusion that the Milwaukee Bucks have the best chance to dethrone the Warriors? Numbers, of course! Let’s take a look at how the Bucks fit the qualifications of shooting well and playing great defense.

 

Shoot well

Of all the teams in the playoffs this postseason, the Milwaukee Bucks rank second in points per game, behind the Golden State Warriors. Their 117.6 points per game is the closest average to the Warriors’ 120.8 points per game.

We can’t just look at points per game. We’ll also look at field goal and three point percentage. The Bucks have a FG percentage of .476, which is second only to the Warriors’ .491 FG percentage.

Then there’s three point percentage. The Boston Celtics actually have the best percentage in the playoffs, but the Warriors are second and the Bucks are third. The Bucks have a three point percentage that’s almost identical to that of the Warriors. The Warriors have a three point percentage of .384, while the Bucks shoot a percentage of .380. The Bucks may not seem like a team who can compete with some of the best shooters in NBA history from the three point line, but their numbers say otherwise.

 

Great defense

The Warriors play great defense, but their points per game allowed actually rank 13th among all playoff teams. Regardless of if their defense is doing well or not, the Warriors have the best offense, which means if a team is going to take them down, they must play great defense.

The Milwaukee Bucks have the fourth best points allowed per game average in the playoffs, and are third among active playoff teams. They also rank 3rd among active teams in FG% allowed. To top that off, the Bucks rank first in blocks per game in the playoffs.

 

Summary

According to the numbers, the Milwaukee Bucks may not have the best overall defense among playoff teams, but they’ve got a defense more than capable of locking down their opponents. They’re towards the top when it comes to defense. Combined that with the second best offense, second only to the Warriors, the Bucks have everything they need to dethrone the Warriors if they were to meet in the NBA Finals.

Which remaining NBA team is best equipped to dethrone the Warriors? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Fourth Quarter Sports’ NBA playoff predictions: Second round

Okay, so that was one of the more boring first rounds of NBA playoff history. Looking back at the early round predictions, things went pretty well for us, except what Damian Lillard did to Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“K26A0442” by nikk_la is licensed under CC-BY 2.0

I never thought the Blazers had a real chance to beat the Thunder if it went to all seven games, but they didn’t even need that. I knew Lillard was underrated, and I love how he’s always been an underdog his whole career, but he made Westbrook look like a rookie out there.

But aside from Lillard’s incredible series winning three-pt shot over Paul George in game five, several other things happened too.

Things like the Los Angeles Clippers’ Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley giving it all they have against the defending champion, Golden State Warriors. That even resulted in ejections by both Beverly and Warriors’ Kevin Durant. And of course, DeMarcus Cousins got injured again. Lou Williams was also proving why he is the best player ever to come off the bench.

The Houston Rockets took care of the Utah Jazz with ease, as James Harden and Chris Paul proved to be too much for Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz.

Speaking of handling, the Spurs and Nuggets battled their way into a game seven, and it could’ve gone either way. But the Nuggets found a way to wrap up the series behind Nikola Jokic’s triple-double.

The Eastern Conference playoffs weren’t worth watching at all. Both the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics swept their opponents in four games, and you would’ve thought that the Indiana Pacers would’ve given the Celtics a bit of a challenge.

The Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers lost shocking game ones, only to win four straight games and finish the series in five games.

But now that we have the next round of matchups set after a long seven-game series between the Spurs and Nuggets, we will take a look at the second round predictions.

Before we get started, I would like us all to take a moment of silence for one of the greatest Celtics in history, John Havlicek, as he passed away on Thursday at the age of 79.

Playoff matchups:

Western Conference: Eastern Conference:
  1. Warriors vs. 4. Rockets 1. Bucks vs. 4. Celtics
  2. Nuggets vs. 3. Blazers 2. Raptors vs. 3. 76ers

That’s what the playoffs look like, but let’s see what our predictions are!

Rahim’s picks:

West:

4. Rockets over 1. Warriors in seven

3. Blazers over 2. Nuggets in six

East:

1. Bucks over 4. Celtics in seven

2. Raptors over 3. Sixers in six

Aman’s picks:

West:

4. Rockets over 1. Warriors in six

2. Nuggets over 3. Blazers in five

East:

1. Bucks over 4. Celtics in seven

2. Raptors over 3. Sixers in seven

Joel’s picks:

West:

1. Warriors over 4. Rockets in seven

2. Nuggets over 3. Blazers in six

East:

1. Bucks over 4. Celtics in six

2. Raptors over 3. Sixers in seven

Dan’s picks:

West:

1. Warriors over 4. Rockets in six

3. Blazers over 2. Nuggets in seven

East:

1. Bucks over 4. Celtics in six

3. Sixers over 2. Raptors in seven

Aman seemed to be the only one who picked the Blazers and Spurs to win their first-round series, and he got the number of games right for them too. But this round should be different. The question is, can the Rockets beat the Warriors in the second round? Aman and I both think that’s the case here. I honestly believe that with a healthy Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, Clint Capela, and James Harden, the Rockets could do it. The addition of Kenneth Faried off the bench is also a plus because it will force the Warriors to make adjustments when Faried and Capela are on the floor together. Will the loss of DeMarcus Cousins affect the Warriors in their pursuit of the three-peat?

Nonetheless, I think the winner of this series will make it to the NBA finals, and that will be more clear in a few more weeks. Aman doesn’t seem to have faith in the Blazers in this round, as we saw Lillard play lights out. Look to see him do more of what he has been doing because that guy is hungry and unless he gets a snicker, he’ll never be satisfied.

Everyone seems to think the Bucks will eliminate Kyrie Irving and the Celtics in either six or seven games, making them the front runner for the NBA finals. But Dan thinks the Sixers will knock off Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors, while the rest of us believe the Raptors will face the Bucks.

Behind all the great picks in the NFL draft, there was still the first round of the NBA playoffs being wrapped up. Though you might have tuned out of the last few games, we should now look at the next round. We continue to give you our predictions for the next round, through to the NBA Finals.

Buy or Sell: Zion Williamson, Atlanta United, Bucks

Guess who’s back! Yes, that’s right! Fourth Quarter Sports is returning after a month of being caught up in the madness of College Basketball, watching to see how far Zion Williamson could take the Duke Blue Devils in the tournament.

Unfortunately, Zion and Duke will not be the National Champions this year, but we’ll get into that a bit later on in this week’s buy or sell. There will also be a recap of the bracket and who won our bracket challenge as we head into the Final Four this weekend. This week it’s not just about the NCAA tournament though, in fact, we have some Major League Soccer issues, and of course, the National Basketball Association!

Buy or Sell

Joel: Zion Williamson won’t go number one overall in the 2019 NBA Draft.

RahimAli: The thought of Zion Williamson not going No. 1 overall would be like saying LeBron James is going to retire after his terrible Lakers season. IT AIN’T HAPPENING. I sell Zion won’t be No. 1 overall, because he will be.

We haven’t spent our entire winter watching the best college basketball star to watch him fall in the draft. I mean, besides their losses to Gonzaga (early in the season) and Michigan State (Elite Eight loss), the Duke Blue Devils looked unstoppable all season with Zion in the lineup.

They did have a difficult time in the tournament against Tacko Fall and Central Florida, as they barely won (77-76). That was a tough test for Duke, because it was like having Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady versus LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram.

In this scenario, 7’6” Tacko Fall is Yao, and UCF’s Aubrey Dawkins is T-Mac. Zion is LeBron, while R.J. Barrett is Kuzma and Cam Reddish is Ingram. I know that’s not what this question was asking, but Zion and Dawkins led their teams with 32 points each, and you could say Zion’s missed free throw down one was a set up for Barrett to get the tip in. That came after Zion fouled out Tacko Fall.

The only way I see Zion not going No. 1 overall is if it’s a team like the Dallas Mavericks, who probably would trade their way out of the top five if they even get a pick (more on that next week), get that spot. Zion is the best physically-talented athlete in all of college basketball, and any team would be a fool to pass on him.

Aman: If not Zion, then who else? He’s a strong player who on average plays half the game (though in the last few games, he’s been hitting the 40 mark). What’s even more impressive is the 22.6 points per game, paired with an average of 8.9 rebounds per game. After coming off a season like this, any team would be foolish not to pick up Zion early. Therefore, I sell that Zion won’t be the first pick.

 

Aman: After being knocked out of the CONCACAF Champions League and failing to win in their opening four MLS matches, Atlanta United will stick with their new manager Frank de Boer until the end of the season.

Joel: I sell Atlanta United sticking with manager Frank de Boer through the end of the season. Any team who’s coming off winning a title has lofty expectations. How this team has started is unacceptable after their previous season. It would be unacceptable for any team coming off a title win in any sport to start this poorly. This trend can’t continue if this team is going to get back on track. Something has to change, and it needs to change sooner than later. That something is Frank de Boer. If they’re not winning with him around, they need to bring someone in who can help this team win.

Rahim: I sell that Atlanta United FC will stay with Frank de Boer as manager. They entered the league three years ago and have since been one of the best, if not the best team in the MLS. As reigning Champs, the expectations are higher than ever.

Of course, the change in managers/coaches do effect a teams chemistry, but the club didn’t change much else in terms of the starting 11. It’s more of an issue with the formation than the guys on the field. A great manager learns to make adjustments if a team is struggling, and that’s one thing that former Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino did well last year on their way to winning the MLS Cup. Atlanta United originally played a 4-3-3 formation until Martino decided to check it to 3-5-2 and even 4-4-2 depending on the matchup.

If De Boer wants to keep his job, he’ll have to figure out a way to make a change to the formation, like maybe going back to a 4-3-3 instead of the 3-4-3. You can see that players are gassed when they’re out there, and that has led to a loss and two ties on the young MLS season. They have also been knocked out of CONCACAF Champions League after taking a 3-1 aggregate loss to Monterrey in the quarterfinals.

 

Rahim: If Giannis can’t stay healthy during the playoffs, the Bucks could have an earlier exit? 

Joel: This one is easy for me. I buy the Bucks having an early exit in the playoffs is Giannis isn’t healthy. While it is true the Bucks have played well at times when Giannis has been out, the playoffs are a different animal than regular season games. Without a true star player, most teams won’t make a deep playoff run.

Giannis is having an MVP type season, and it’s not easy to replace his production. How do you replace 27.4 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks? You can’t. This team may be able to make it out of the first round without Giannis, but there’s no way they’re making it past the 76ers, Celtics or Raptors if Giannis isn’t in. They need the potential MVP to play if they want to not only make a deep playoff run, but win a championship.

Aman: The Celtics are almost always title contenders, and the Raptors are having a brilliant season. This makes the Bucks’ competition tough. The main reason the Bucks have made it this far is because of Giannis. Where can they go without him? Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like anyone else is good enough to fill Giannis’ shoes, but kudos to the Bucks for making the playoffs. I buy an early exit for the Bucks if Giannis can’t stay healthy.

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

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

  • Will Zion Williamson be the No. 1 overall pick, or will he fall in the draft?
  • How long will Atlanta United keep Frank De Boer as manager if they continue to struggle?
  • If Giannis can’t be healthy in the playoffs, will the Bucks have an early exit?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

What you may have missed this weekend: 3/1 – 3/3

It was another weekend of interesting sports events. I hope you didn’t miss any of it, but in case you did, you know this is the place where you can get all caught up.

This weekend there was a lot of different things going on from all aspects of the sports world. For College Basketball and NBA, it’s about wrapping up the season as they prepare themselves for the playoffs or tournament. But we have headlines in other sports including Soccer and Cricket. Let’s find out what we missed.

“Giannis Antetokounmpo” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NBA

Bulls beat Hawks in 4OT:

If I told you that two of the leagues worst teams battled in an epic game for the ages, would you believe me? I wouldn’t either, but it happened, and it was one of the best games in history. It was the 3rd highest scoring game in NBA history (168-161). It was also only the 15th four overtime game in NBA history. These two teams tied an NBA record with 43 three-pointers made.

That wasn’t all though, it was the first of two games between the two teams over the weekend. In this game, we saw Chicago Bulls players like Lauri Markkanen (31 pts), Zach Lavine (47 pts), and Otto Porter (31 pts) come up big. For Atlanta, it was rookie point guard Trae Young who shined to became the 1st rookie with 45 points and 10 Assists since the G.O.A.T., Michael Jordan.

Game two on Sunday came down to the wire as well, but no overtime, as the Hawks held on to beat the Bulls after Kris Dunn missed the game-tying three. Markkanen and Lavine combined for 31 points, and Porter didn’t even play. Trae Young got ejected with 9:20 left in the third quarter after he received a double technical earlier in the game. Young finished with just 18 points.

Milwaukee Bucks first team to clinch playoffs:

The Bucks have been the league’s best team all season long, and they have one of the best players in the game to lead them. Bucks forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is one of the top candidates for Most Valuable Player this season. He and the Bucks became the first team to clinch a playoff spot with their win over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

These Bucks are playing the best basketball of their careers, as guard Khris Middleton became a first-time All-Star. Guard Eric Bledsoe has finally come into his own with this Bucks team. He has been a huge part of their success this season. Bledsoe also earned himself a much-deserved contract extension with the Bucks. The deal was four years for $70 million.

Celtics, Thunder break their 4-game skid:

The Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder are arguably two of the best teams in the league, but they both went on runs that were not favorable. They both lost four straight games until this weekend.

The Thunder lost to teams who are all in the playoff picture, like the Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs. Since Westbrook’s triple-double streak ended, the Thunder have been struggling to win games. The good thing is that he and Paul George have continued to play well together, so they will still be one of the best in the West.

The Celtics lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors and Portland Trail Blazers. The Celtics were having a tough time winning any game. Let’s be honest, we probably thought they were going to be the top team in the East, seeing how they went all the way to the Conference Finals without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. However, that hasn’t been the case this season.

Soccer:

Tottenham, Arsenal fail to cross the finish line:

Though it was hard to decide which of the two teams played better, one thing is certain: Arsenal let it slip.

Arsenal played the first half to their taste, scoring the opening goal through Aaron Ramsey, coming from a counter-attack after a Tottenham corner. In the second half, a foul in the box saw Harry Kane scoring in his ninth fixture against Arsenal, the penalty being the equalizer.

Towards the end of the match, Arsenal had a golden opportunity to take the game home, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw his penalty saved by Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. In the last moments of the game, Arsenal substitute Lucas Torriera was shown a red card. The match ended 1-1, Arsenal in fourth, four points behind Tottenham in third.

Atlanta United’s mistakes cost them versus DC United:

Despite Atlanta United beating Herediano 4-0 before coming into the MLS opener against DC United, DC United was too good for Atlanta to handle. From early on, it seemed DC had most of the control of the ball and Atlanta struggled to find the opponent’s box. Then, finally, in the last minute of the first half, DC found a breakthrough through Paul Arriolia. Atlanta were unable to improve in the second half, as Luciano Acosta brought over his form from last season and scored from outside the box.

Cricket:

Liam Dawson heroics help Peshawar Zalmi cross the line against Islamabad United:

Oh, Peshawar Zalmi badly needed revenge against Islamabad United. They lost to United in last year’s Pakistan Super League (PSL) final and once again earlier this season by 12 runs, kudos to a Mohammad Sami hat-trick. But this time around, Peshawar didn’t give up hope, not even till the last ball. In the first innings, it seemed Cameron Delport had won the match for Islamabad with his 71(55). But in the second innings, Liam Dawson and captain Darren Sammy responded well, putting up an 89-run partnership, until Sammy was dismissed for 40. Off of the last ball, Peshawar needed a boundary to win, and Dawson drove Sami straight down the ground towards long-on for just that.

Ahmed Shehzad, Rilee Rossouw helps Quetta Gladiators climb above Multan Sultans:

Though it took them 19 overs, the Quetta Gladiators managed to successfully register another win against the Multan Sultans. Multan was only able to put up 121, 46 of those runs being Johson Charles. Darren Bravo and Sohail Tanvir each took three wickets with Mohammad Nawaz grabbing two and Mohammad Hasnain having one to his name. Quetta’s batting got off to a good start, with the Shane Watson-Ahsan Ali partnership lasting 49 runs, until birthday-boy Shahid Afridi removed Watson for 33. Ahmed Shehzad scored a sturdy 28(35)* and Rilee Rossouw’s 35(33) was sufficient enough as Quetta won by six wickets.

Lahore PSL matches relocated to Karachi:

This year, eight PSL matches were to be held in Pakistan, three in Lahore, five in Karachi. However, due to flight scheduling issues, all the matches will be held in the southern city of Karachi. The first game in Karachi begins on March 7, with the hosts Karachi Kings taking on Peshawar Zalmi. The playoffs and final will also be held in Karachi.

College Basketball:

Losses by top 25 teams:

4 Kentucky to 7 Tennessee (71-52)

6 Michigan State to Indiana (63-62)

8 Houston to Central Florida (69-64)

22 Iowa to Rutgers (86-72)

12 Nevada to Utah State (81-76)

10 Marquette to Creighton (66-60)

17 Maryland to 9 Michigan (69-62)