October 29, 2013
The 2013-14 NBA season begins tonight when the Pacers host the Magic, the Bulls visit the Heat and the Lakers and Clippers battle for bragging rights in LA. Will Miami win a third straight title? Can Derrick Rose return to being Derrick Rose? How many teams will be tanking for a better spot in next summer’s draft? I’m going with NO, YES, and 7. What else might happen?
LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will get the most attention…but not for their play on the court. We won’t get to celebrate Christmas without first hearing a constant barrage of trade rumors and free agency speculation surrounding them both.
Dwight Howard will feel left out and mention to reporters that he’s not sure he should have picked Houston. He goes on to say that James Harden’s beard is a distraction for the team and tells Jeremy Lin to feed him the ball more often.
Jason Collins will eventually be picked up. A Tebow style circus will follow that team for the rest of the year.
On more than one occasion, Michael Jordan will say that he’s still good enough to start for the Bobcats. After checking the standings in the Southeast division, nobody will argue with him.
With their eye on the first pick in the draft, the Philadelphia 76ers coaching staff asks everyone on the roster to do the same saying that they will be unguardable by 2015 if they make the change now.
Kobe Bryant makes his season debut on Christmas when the Lakers host LeBron James and the Miami Heat. He will help the Lakers win games, but won’t be the superstar we are used to seeing until the regular season is nearly over.
David Stern will once again fine Mark Cuban. But this time it will be for flopping after Cuban drops to the ground (on the sidelines) in disbelief of a foul call that costs his Mavericks a win.
The NBA will announce drastic changes to the All-Star Weekend. This will be the final season of the slam dunk contest.
The media will tell us that Kevin Durant and Dwayne Wade have an intense rivalry over Durant’s comments that James Harden is better than Dwayne Wade. It will never play out on the court. The same can’t be said for Miami and Brooklyn. Those games will be heated and lead to the suspensions of multiple players.
Divison winners: Atlantic-Brooklyn Nets, Central-Chicago Bulls, Southeast-Miami Heat, Pacific-Golden State Warriors, Southwest-Houston Rockets, Northwest-Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant wins his first MVP award.
Oklahoma City wins the NBA title.
May 20, 2013
NBA’s Conference Finals underway: With the NBA Playoffs nearing an end, the conference finals are now set. The Spurs and Grizzlies advanced to the NBA’s Western Conference finals last week. San Antonio has the upper hand with a 105-83 win in Game 1 on Sunday behind 20 points from Tony Parker. But despite the slow start, don’t sleep on Memphis just yet. The Grizzlies have lost the first game in their two previous series and still managed to advance each time. And with the NBA’s best defense this season, Memphis can definitely give the Spurs a run. Meanwhile, in the east, the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers reached the finals with series wins over the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, respectively. The two teams will play their Game 1 on Wednesday.
Phil Jackson says MJ > Kobe: Phil Jackson’s got a new book due out soon and in it, he says what most people already believe – that Michael Jordan was a better player than Kobe Bryant. Among the reasons given by Phil included MJ’s superior defense and leadership skills. That won’t come as a surprise to many who share the same sentiments, but what is a bit interesting is that Jackson has been willing to make the statements right now. Even though he’s out of coaching, a return to the game and even to the Lakers isn’t all that far-fetched. That’s not to say that Kobe wouldn’t be willing to suit up for Phil again – after all, Jackson’s previous book “The Last Season” was even more critical of Bryant. But it’s easy to see how the guard could be a bit offended by the comments … particularly those downplaying his leadership abilities.
Maurice Clarett trying to play rugby: It’s been a long while since former Ohio State Buckeyes star Maurice Clarett has been in the news. But the former running back caused a minor stir last week when it was reported he was attempting to play rugby. Clarett’s not only making a run at the sport, but wants to compete at a high level. He’ll be playing for the Columbus affiliate of Tiger Rugby – the developmental program for the team representing Team USA in the 2016 Olympics. He clearly has had a rocky past and never even reached the NFL, but he’s also still young enough that finding a new career may not be all that far-fetched.
ACC targeting Madison Square Garden or Barclays for conference tournament: ACC Commissioner John Swofford hinted at last week’s conference meetings that the ACC basketball tournament could be played at Madison Square Garden or the Barclays in the future. It’s far from a done deal, but the ACC at least has shown some interest. With Syracuse and Pitt headed to the conference this season along with Louisville next season, the ACC will clearly be the nation’s premier basketball league. And what better place for the conference tournament than basketball’s biggest stage of MSG?
Dick Trickle commits suicide: Former racing great Dick Trickle died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound last week. His brother says he was in immense physical pain and was having a tough time dealing with it. Just an incredibly sad story made even worse in that he leaves a wife and three children behind. Trickle was known for winning short track races and finished in the top ten in 78 NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races. He was named as the NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year at the age of 48 back in 1989.
Skydiving for … bathrooms? In one of the weirder news stories from last week, Eastern Michigan head football coach Ron English is willing to help improve his football team’s facilities by skydiving. The coach has agreed to the stunt if the school can raise at least $60,000 in an upcoming golf outing. The money will go towards fixing up, of all things, the bathrooms in the locker room. If the school raises at least $30,000, several assistant coaches have agreed to make the plunge. That’s an honorable move and will surely give the program some much-needed publicity. But with a 2-10 record last season, I’m thinking fans will care a lot more about on-field success.
February 26, 2013
With about 25 games to go in the NBA regular season, we’ve got a pretty clear picture of the teams that will make the playoffs and the ones that will be in the lottery. What we don’t know is who will face who once the playoffs get started. And that will go a long way toward determining what happens in the NBA playoffs. Here are a few races I’ll be keeping my eye on as we inch towards the final game of the regular season.
The Heat will be the top seed in the East. We know that. But the second and third seeds could go to Indiana, New York, Brooklyn, Chicago or Atlanta. These teams ought to be desperate to finish second or third. That will get them home-court advantage in the first round, but that doesn’t really matter too much. The important thing for these teams is to get on the other side of the bracket and avoid a second round meeting with the Heat. You don’t want to face the defending champs any sooner than you have to.
Speaking of avoiding the Heat…Boston and Milwaukee shouldn’t be too worried about anyone below them stealing a playoff spot. But they will be battling to get the seventh seed and avoid the Heat in the first round.
In the West, the final playoff spot is getting all the attention. Can the Lakers squeak into the playoffs? That’s what all the talk is about, but I’m not counting out Dallas or Portland yet. All three teams are tied with 30 losses at the moment and are going to have to get red-hot to catch Houston or Utah. On second thought, after looking at the Blazers schedule, I’m counting them out. Their final 16 games are against teams in the playoff race. If they find a way to get in, nobody will be able to say they didn’t earn it.
Of course, whoever does get that final spot is going to be facing the team with the best record in the NBA, San Antonio. It would be quite the series if the Lakers do end up as the eighth seed.
One more race that is a little bit interesting will be to see which team finishes with the worst record and gets the most ping pong balls in the lottery. It looks like this will come down to Charlotte and Orlando.
October 30, 2012
With the NBA regular season set to begin tomorrow, the landscape of the league has changed very little. The Lakers, who are always a threat to win the title, actually got better with the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. The defending world-champion Miami Heat followed suit with the additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.
With that, I give you my predictions for the 2012-13 season, starting with the divisions.
In the Atlantic Division:
In the Pacific Division:
In the Central Division:
In the Southwest Division:
In the Southeast Division:
In the Northwest Division:
Now for the Conference Standings:
Eastern Final: Heat over Celtics.
Western Final: Lakers over Spurs.
The Finals: Lakers over Heat- Nash and Howard will help Lakers overpower Lebron & Co.
July 30, 2012
The 2012-13 NBA schedule was released last week and, as always, there are plenty of interesting matchups on the slate. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from the first half of the season. Next week, we’ll take a look at important matchups after the All-Star break.
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat (October 30th) – This game is part of a season-opening triple-header and is the game to watch that night. Not only will the Heat officially begin the defense of their NBA championship by raising their championship banner at home, but Ray Allen will face his former team for the first time since leaving the Celtics.
New York Knicks vs. Brooklyn Nets (November 1st) – In many years, a Nets-Knicks matchup wouldn’t get much notice outside of the New York/New Jersey market. But with the Nets playing in their new home in Brooklyn, this is a big one. Plenty of stars also dot the starting lineups including Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Jason Kidd, Deron Williams, and Joe Johnson to name a few.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (December 7th) – The Lakers will have played several games with their new point guard, Steve Nash, by this point. But the December 7th matchup against the Thunder will be a great benchmark for the franchise. Los Angeles had great difficulty in trying to slow down Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the playoffs last season and all eyes will be on Nash’s defense against him. It’s only one game, but if Westbrook again appears unstoppable, it could mean the Lakers still need to make a move at the trade deadline.
Houston Rockets vs. New York Knicks (December 17th) – The Rockets will head to New York and along with them will be former Knicks’ sensation, Jeremy Lin. Lin signed an offer sheet with Houston in the offseason and New York chose not to match it. Some Knicks fans will be bitter towards him, but the young star was simply given too much money to turn down. Most fans will likely have more of a beef with the franchise’s management team for not matching the offer – particularly if Lin has a great season and proves he’s worth the money. It will be interesting to see what type of reaction he gets from fans in his first game back in New York.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Miami Heat (December 25th) – The NBA takes its feature spot on Christmas Day once again and the biggest game will be a rematch of the NBA finals as the Thunder head to Miami to visit the world champions. This is about as big as it will get in the regular season as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will look to knock off LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and the defending champs at home.
Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Hornets (January 21st) – It’s not likely that these two teams will be battling it out for playoff spots this year, but there’s still a good reason to watch this one since it features the top two big men selected in this year’s NBA Draft. Top overall pick Anthony Davis and the Hornets will battle No. 5 selection Thomas Robinson and the Kings. There was little question that Davis would be drafted first, but Robinson had arguably the better season last year in college as he bested Davis in scoring, rebounding, and assists. This will be the first glimpse of the two facing off against each other.