NBA Playoff Discussion; The Bulls Are Doing It, Bucks Could Create an Upset, MVP Battle Taking Place

The NBA Playoffs are well underway, and we are truly being treated to some great series’. LeBron James is back to being his playoff dominant self, but the Pacers are still fighting hard, led by Paul George. The Jazz are trying to figure out a new strategy against the Clippers now that Rudy Gobert is down indefinitely. Even the Blazers are fighting against the heavy firepower squad in Golden State, fuelled by their incredible back-court, who are an incredible scoring night in Game 1. But there’s a few playoff series which carry more weight than the rest. The 8th seed Bulls have something to prove with their experienced backcourt, and the Celtics are out to show they deserve that 1st seed place. The young Bucks squad are trying to show that they are not to be messed with, while Kyle Lowry returns to fuel DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors. And the MVP battle continues as Russell Westbrook and James Harden duel it out, trying to prove they both deserve that MVP award by progressing to the second round.

The Chicago Bulls are putting in work in the post-season, despite their 8th seed place in the regular season, and are showing the 1st seed Celtics that placement doesn’t mean a thing when you’ve got players like Jimmy Butler on your squad. And what’s funny is, a lot of people predicted this upset when the match-ups were set, because the Bulls have the ability to beat most teams in the league, although their regular season record shows otherwise. If I had to bet on an upset at the beginning of the playoffs, I would have put my money on Chicago taking down Boston, and for many reasons. Al Horford is pretty much diminished by Robin Lopez, Isaiah Thomas is slowed down relatively by Jimmy Butler, while he puts up anywhere between 20-40 points at the other end. Rajon Rondo is showing up for the first time this season, being just 1 rebound off a triple double, and tying the Bulls record for most assists inn a playoff game. For the first time, we’ve seen the Bulls’ “Big Three” show some chemistry and work together, which is why they’ve got a 2-0 lead heading back to Chicago. I’ve got to give a ton of credit to Isaiah Thomas for playing those first two games, despite the tragic loss of his sister Chyna in a car accident just a few days previous. It’s probably one of the hardest things a player will ever have to do – playing through grief, so respect to IT for showing up. And there’s a lot of people of Twitter saying it’s due to Thomas’ grief that the Celtics are unable to win, but I don’t think that’s the case. I mean, it’s awful what happened to Chyna, and if Isaiah was to play poorly, it would be understandable. But IT is still playing fantastic, I mean, he put up 33 in Game 1, only a day after Chyna’s death, so the blame cannot fall in Isaiah’s hands by any means. If you want to play the blame game, throw it at Al Horford and the rest of the Boston squad. Horford’s on a $110 million contract, yet he’s practically invisible while on the court, and is having little to no impact in the paint with the presence of Bulls mascot bully, Robin Lopez. So, despite the tragedy and grief he’s obviously playing with, IT is still showing up with a desire to win, but the rest of the Celtics are playing like a real 8th seed team, and not the kings of the East, and that’s why they’re heading to the Chicago 2-0 down, with a big mountain to climb. The way I see it, the Bulls could quite easily sweep the struggling Celtics, if they’re stars and supporting cast continue to play as they have been. A repeat of last night’s performance from Rajon Rondo, combined with another 20+ point game for Flash, and a typical night from Jimmy Buckets, could mean a swift exit from the playoffs for Boston, crushing Isaiah Thomas’ season-long effort.

I’m just going to say it now; Giannis Antetokounmpo is a freak in the playoffs. I mean, obviously he’s a freak all season long, hence the nickname – “The Greek Freak” – but he’s even more incredible when games truly matter. The Bucks, led by this freak of nature, are tied with the Toronto Raptors after last night’s narrow loss, thanks to huge games from Serge Ibaka, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. But they are tied, and heading to Milwaukee for Game 3, and Giannis is showing no signs of slowing down. He genuinely does everything on the court, hence why he led the Bucks in every major statistic during the regular season. But despite his incredible performance, the Bucks fell just short of a 2-0 lead heading home, as Ibaka and Lowry led the Raptors to this narrow victory, with Kyle hitting a clutch game winning two to seal the deal, and Serge hitting some important threes and defending the paint against an eager Bucks’ squad. Ibaka even swatted one of the Greek Freak’s attempts to get to the basket, which just seemed to drive him more, to be quite honest. The Bucks have surprised many watchers, including myself, who believed the Raptors would steamroll to a 4-1/ 4-2 victory over the inexperienced squad. But I’ve changed my mind, following their performance in Game 1 and 2, and am starting to think the Bucks could advance to the second round, or at the very least, force a Game 7. It’s probably the closest match up, second maybe to the Clippers – Jazz without Rudy Gobert, and is proving to be one of the most exciting to watch. I mean, they’ve held the Raptors to one loss and a very, very narrow win, a set of circumstances which I would never have forseen, even with my love for the game of Giannis. Maybe they can force an upset here, if Middleton and Thon Maker step up for some big performances. But, in saying that, the Raptors could easily throw the Bucks to the curb, if these big games from Lowry, DeRozan, and last night’s Serge Ibaka continue for the rest of the series, especially DeRozan has one of his many 40 point games. Ibaka defended the paint extremely well last night, even forcing Antetokounmpo to hesitate, and even avoid the paint, while he stood there, ready to swat anything that came nearby. It’s quite a pity that Jabari Parker is struggling with that knee injury, as adding an extra slasher to the mix would make this playoff series even more exciting than it already is. One thing’s for sure, though; if this series carries on the way it has for the initial two games, we’re in for the one of the closest first round matchups in recent history, fuelled by huge performances from the respective stars of each squad.

Russell Westbrook, James Harden, or Patrick Beverley. Who is the most important player in that series? Obviously, Pat Bev shouldn’t be in that conversation, by any means, but my God, he locked down Russ so bad. Going into that Game 1, I was expecting a 50 – 15 – 15 game from Brodie, and anything less hadn’t even crossed my mind. Then I remembered that rivalry that started between Pat and Russ that instigated two years ago when Westbrook and Beverley clashed knees, forcing Russ to sit for the rest of the series. I also remembered that Pat is one of the toughest defenders in the league. But I had never imagined that he’d agitate Westbrook so much, holding him to less than 25, and preventing a triple double (it’s odd how I expect a triple double from Russ, I realise), which has gotten my hopes up for a better performance from the other MVP candidate, that lad, James Harden. A poor first-half shooting performance was made unapparent by continuous drives to the basket and superb passing, as well as cooking up Enes Kanter that one time, leading to an outstanding 37 point outburst. And as important as The Beard will be throughout this playoff series, Pat Beverley will be equally as important in locking down Russell Westbrook, preventing those amazing 40/50 point triple doubles we’ve almost become accustomed to seeing from the Brodie. He antagonised Westbrook to an extreme extent in Game 1, and will prove to be a vital tool in stopping the league’s most explosive player. It’s hard not to see that Beverley’s tough, almost illegally aggressive, defense is getting to Westbrook, as that screen which completely levelled Pat, from Steven Adams was clearly a shot in retaliation for Beverly locking down and getting into the head of Russ on several occasions. His defense aside, Pat had a breakout game in terms of shooting, putting up a great 22 points on 4 buckets from downtown, proving that he can be a force on both ends when he’s feeling it. Coming from a Houston fan, this probably sounds biased, but after that thirty point blowout in Game 1, I’m starting to believe Di’Antoni’s Rockets can blowout the Thunder, but their performance in Game 2 tonight will be important in finalising my thoughts on the match up.

NBA Discussion; The Kings are World Beaters – 6th Feb 2017

The Kings were defending home-court against the Golden State Warriors in Sacramento two nights ago, and surprisingly beat them out in an OT nail biter. DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with a near-triple-double, missing out by one assist in a 32 point performance to beat out the Warriors, led by Stephen Curry’s 35 points and 9 assists. An almost non-existent Kevin Durant, with a mediocre 10 points on 20% shooting, allowed Boogie to bully the offensive-minded Golden State roster in the paint, following the formula created by the Grizzlies to beat the NBA’s super team. Although he put up 35 in the loss, Steph could be the blame for humiliating defeat against the 11th seed Kings, missing an open lay-up in regulation time to win the game, sending the game to overtime, where both Curry and Durant disappeared with no more than 5 points between them, and another missed lay-up by Curry to seal the game. Kings took the game by 3, against all odds.

This isn’t the first time the Kings have taken down a top tier team, though. In fact, Sacramento have created a habit out of beating high seeded teams in the league, the Cavaliers and Rockets included. They’ve also beaten the Toronto Raptors, who are rising up the ranks to becoming a top tier squad, and have now added a victory over the Warriors to their accolades, despite playing less than .400 basketball for the season.25% of the Kings’ victories this season have been over top seeded teams, such as the Warriors and Cavs. Not bad for a team who don’t even have a playoff seed, and are not close to getting there.

Let’s have a look at the stars on the Kings roster:

  • DeMarcus Cousins

That’s it. Boogie is the only player who would make a fans fantasy team, and is carrying the team on his incredibly large shoulders. Rudy Gay could have been an All-Star had he not been in decline since coming into the league. Boogie’s averaging 28 PPG, as well as nearly 11 assists, and what he lacks in a polite mannerism, he makes up for in his game, and sheer ability to bully every player who is unfortunate enough to match up against the big fella. All the Kings have to do is give the ball to Boogie and let him go to work inside, and if the paint is clogged, he can step out and show off his long-range ability. There’s no way to lockdown Cousins, unless you’re a seven-foot form of LeBron James. It’s such a pity that his talents are wasted on a team that can’t even make the playoffs, despite having the ability to beat the strongest teams in the league. Boogie and his attitude certainly deserve better.

If the Kings were to trade for a secondary scorer, perhaps Carmelo Anthony, considering he’s looking to leave the struggling Knicks squad, Sacramento could be a threat in the playoffs. But would a trade for Melo, in exchange for possibly Gay and Ty Lawson, to replace Melo and back up Derrick Rose respectively at that point guard position, be worth it? Or are the Knicks losing out on a trade like this? Lawson is averaging just under 9 points and 5 assists per game, despite coming off the bench for Collison, and a starting Rudy Gay is averaging 19 PPG and 6RPG. Melo is averaging 23 PPG and 6 RPG, but is likely to leave the Knicks squad anyway, whether the trade works in favour of New York or not. So, I believe, this trade could prove to be beneficial for both squads, with New York picking up a young scorer in Gay and an experienced veteran in Ty Lawson, while the Kings get an experienced scorer in Carmelo, who would feel familiar in playing with a scoring big man, as he already is with Kristaps Porzingis. Just some speculation, but a possible trade which could prove to be successful for both rosters, who have nothing to lose anyone, as both are faced with the 11th seed in their respective conferences.

Let me know what you think about the Kings performances against strong teams below, as well as my trade speculation for Melo to Sacramento. Follow my blog for more NBA posts, and check out My thoughts on the 2016-17 Dunk Contest and Three Point Contest. Follow my Twitter to keep up with my daily shite posts and for updates on my blog. Enjoy your day!

NBA Discussion; 2016-2017 Title Contenders – 2nd Feb 2017

We’re more than halfway through the 2016-2017 NBA season, and teams are starting to show their endurance, in the Warriors case, or lack of endurance, in the Cavs case, and we’re being shown who is willing to contend for the NBA title come June. There’s been many surprises this year in terms of teams who could potentially make it far in the Playoffs; teams like the Celtics and the Jazz instantly come to mind. But which teams could bring the chip home, and what’s it going to take for the smaller teams to go places at the end of the season?

Golden State Warriors

I was unwilling to believe the Warriors were almost guaranteed to win the title this year, or at least make it to the Finals. But I think it’s about time I put my pride aside and admit that they are perhaps the greatest team of all time, certainly in terms of talent and superstar ability, and it’s very likely that they’ll sweep the entire playoffs, not just one series. The NBA’s super team are 42-7 this year, which is slightly worse than their record-breaking season last year, but that’s understandable considering teams are building their rosters around beating Golden State this season. The Warriors are creating a habit out of beating other teams solely on offense in order to combat their lack of defence in the paint after the trade away of Andrew Bogut. Looking at Warriors star PG Steph Curry’s recent stretch of games; he’s been putting up big numbers, with the most recent being a 39 point performance last night against the Hornets. What’s scarier though, is that he’s putting up these huge games in 3 quarters of play, allowing the Warriors’ bench players to play in the 4th as they blow out every team in the league. There’s no doubt in any fan’s mind, even fans of other teams such as myself, that the Warriors are title contenders, and as long as they can continue to outscore teams in dominant offensive play, they could bring the title back to Cali come June.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The reigning champions of the NBA were guaranteed to make the finals again this year, and were highly bet on to keep the title in Cleveland as the playoffs came to a close. But the Cavs have gotten off to a rough start in 2017, losing 8-15 in January.  Continued complaints from LeBron on how the Cavs “need a fucking playmaker” have caused some distress from fans of ‘The Land,’ and the frequent losses in poor performances have definitely lowered the morale of the roster, which certainly isn’t helping their record. The current title holders are 33-15 in the regular season, which arguably isn’t a bad record; but for a team hoping to hold onto the title in a battle with the superstar squad in Golden State, they’re going to have to improve this month if they hope to put up a fight against the Warriors come June. It’s very likely that the Cavs will make it to the Finals again this year, but they need to start making smarter decisions in game-clinching moments if they wish to keep the chip in The Land. The reigning champs, led by NBA superstar LeBron James, definitely have the talent at their disposal to keep hold of the title, but can they overcome the pressure of possibly going back-to-back? And can they find a way to take down the Golden State Warriors.

San Antonio Spurs

Kawhi Leonard, sorry, the Spurs, have surprised a lot of NBA fans this year by putting up a solid performance in the regular season, despite the retirement of franchise player Tim Duncan. Led by the best defender in the league in Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio have put up a 37-11 performance this season, giving them the 2nd seed in the West, and 2nd best position in the NBA’s power ranking. It’s been a long time since the Spurs have had a bad season, and this season is no exception, with star player Kawhi putting up huge numbers recently; scoring over 35 in 5 of their last 10 games. While they don’t have the presence in the paint, at least in terms of size, the Spurs make up for it with sheer athleticism and superb ball movement which allows them to put up big numbers in their games, while also playing some of the best defence in the league. Like all other teams though, they could struggle to win against the Warriors come June, but they are certainly contenders for the title, and are almost guaranteed to make it the conference finals.

Houston Rockets

It’s been a long time coming for a Rockets fan like myself, but we can finally say that Houston are a threat to win the title, and if not, they are definitely in the conversation. Led by leading MVP candidate James Harden, Houston are boasting an impressive 36-16 record, giving them the 3rd seed spot in a tough Western conference. While it was a questionable decision in putting Harden at the point guard role, there’s no doubt that it was the right call by the Rockets, as he’s putting up huge numbers in not only points (28.5), but assists also (11.5). They’re 1-1 against Golden State, which is an impressive stat in itself, but are holding strong in the West, despite only having one star. While they’re not the first team that would come to mind when thinking about title contenders, even if you are a Rockets fan, there’s no doubt in my mind that Houston could bring the title home, as long as The Beard continues to have an MVP season like he has so far. Houston could paint the title red yet.

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors have possession of one of the deadliest duos in recent history in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, and are holding onto a strong record in the East with a 30-20 stretch of strong performances. Toronto have a strong presence in the paint with prolific shot blocker and elite defender Jonas Valanciunas, as well as athletic finishers in DeMar DeRozan and Norman Powell. They have the ability to wear teams down with their strong defence and ability to go on crazy runs in tight games. Kyle Lowry has become a deadeye shooter in recent years, despite his underrated stature in the NBA, and has a strong connection with offensive superstar DeRozan, who can drive inside and kick out to Lowry if faced with too much defensive pressure. Not many people would say the Raptors have the ability to bring the title home, but I warn NBA teams to stay aware of Toronto, because they can put up big performances if you sleep on them. Watch out for these guys, they could be champions yet, even making it to the conference finals would be a big achievement for this roster. But they have the talent to win the title, let’s just hope the Raptors don’t choke, because they are an exciting team to watch, no doubt.

The Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder are arguably in the conversation for title contenders, but I would believe that it’s highly unlikely due to their lack of depth on the bench, and lack of scorers other than their respective stars in Isaiah Thomas and triple-double monster Russel Westbrook. They could create some surprises come June, but the odds are certainly not in the favours of these team carriers. A possible sleeper team could be the Washington Wizards, led by John Wall and Bradley Beal, who are putting up a great stretch of games of recent. Watch out for Washington, they could surprise people this season.

Well there’s my thoughts on the 2016-2017 season title contenders. Let me know who you think could bring the chip home below, and follow my blog for more NBA posts. Check out my Twitter to keep up to date with blog posts and my general shite talking. Enjoy your day!