April 22, 2014

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NBA Playoff Observations

By: Joe Williams

The NBA Playoffs have just begun, yet already so much is evident. We have compiled our findings on the young postseason below.

Nobody thinks the Mavericks can beat the Spurs. After Game 1’s collapse, the Mavericks probably don’t even think they can beat the Spurs. Dallas has lost 10 straight games against the Spurs. Now they’ve got to win four of the next six? It’s not going to happen. They had a shot to make this a series and blew it by getting outscored 17-4 in the final seven minutes to lose 90-85. You can’t do that against the Spurs. Just ask the 2013 Warriors.

Tayshaun Prince

Are the Grizzlies getting hot at just the right time?

The Thunder have an extremely difficult road to the title. What is their reward for winning 59 games and the second-best record in the NBA? How about a first-round matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies who finished the season going 32-13. And if Oklahoma City gets to round two they could be looking at Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and then the Spurs and then the Heat. They will definitely have to earn it to win the title.

Stephen Curry has got to get back on track when the series shifts to the Warriors’ home floor. He struggled at the end of Game 1 and didn’t get going in Game 2 until the Warriors were down by 30 points. We’ll know after Game 3 if the Warriors are going to make this a series. How will a 40-point loss in Game 2 affect them?

The Rockets are in must-win mode for Game two. They cannot leave Houston down 0-2 and expect to win the series. They will get the calls they need to even the series at 1-1. After losing in overtime and the NBA admitting that the referees blew a critical call that probably led to the Rockets loss, you can bet that a meaningful whistle will go Houston’s way in Game 2.

Speaking of must-win mode, the Pacers are a Tuesday night loss away from disaster. Indiana is a mess right now and dropping the first two games at home to the No. 8 seed, 38-win, Atlanta Hawks could cause riots in Indiana. Part of me wonders if the Pacers would even show up for Game 3 in Atlanta or just forfeit the series and settle their differences in a WWE-style battle royal.

Can the Heat get any more luck? Year after year, someone that stands in their path to a title goes down with an injury. The Bobcats really didn’t have a shot in the series anyway without an injury to LeBron, but now Al Jefferson is in a walking boot. He can really hurt the Heat and make the games competitive, but not anymore. Can you say sweep?

The Raptors and Bulls both lost Game 1 at home. Game 2 is tonight. They both desperately need to win tonight, along with Indiana. It’s must-win Tuesday night. I’m hoping they all get it done so we will have a couple more six or seven game series.

February 14, 2013

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NBA All-Star Saturday Lineup Changes

By: Joe Williams

The NBA does a nice job of hyping up all the festivities for All-Star Weekend. It also does a nice job of failing to live up to the hype and the biggest reason is we don’t get to see the guys we want to see. Here’s what I wish we had coming up next this weekend:

Let’s start by saying that I would not make any changes to the Rising Stars Challenge, Shooting Stars Competition or the Skills Challenge. Those are fine as they are. But the Three-Point Shootout and Slam Dunk Contest could do better.

It would be great to see Blake Griffin add to some of his memorable Dunk Contest moments.

The Three-Point Shootout field for Saturday night is: Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Steve Novak, Ryan Anderson, Matt Bonner and Stephen Curry. I would increase the field from six to eight and keep Curry, Novak and Irving. Sorry Bonner, Anderson and George but I think we can do better. There are 30 players shooting over 40 percent from three while Anderson and George aren’t. And I don’t even know who Bonner is.

I’ll take Kyle Korver – who leads the league in three-point percentage, Ray Allen – the guy who has made more threes than anybody in history and Jimmer Fredette – a personal favorite. That leaves two more spots.

One of them goes to an NBA legend and one of the greatest shooters of all time who hasn’t been away from the game for too long….Reggie Miller. We all know he can still shoot the rock.

You know who else can shoot the rock? Lots of people. I’ve hit 10 or 12 straight before. Why not get the fans involved? There should be a three-point shooting contest for people in the Houston area with the winner getting a spot to shoot with the big boys on All-Star Saturday night.

My ultimate Three-Point Shootout field: Kyrie Irving, Steve Novak, Stephen Curry, Kyle Korver, Ray Allen, Jimmer Fredette, Reggie Miller and a hometown hero.

Now for the Slam Dunk Contest Field. This year it will be Gerald Green, Terrence Ross, James White, Eric Bledsoe, Jeremy Evans and Kenneth Faried.

Without cheating, can you name what team these guys play for? Didn’t think so.

I only got two. Where is the star power?

Again, I say let’s take this from six guys to eight. I’ll keep Eric Bledsoe and Kenneth Faried in the field because I can actually remember seeing them on the floor in an NBA game. And the defending champ should always be invited back to keep Jeremy Evans and that leaves five more spots.

The first one goes to LeBron. Everyone wants to see what he would do and he knows it. It’s been a will he or won’t he story for years and now it looks like he’s never going to do it. But it would be great for the fans if he would show up to face off with my second pick…Blake Griffin. He’s already dunked over a car. I want to see him try to top that. And he’s got the best dunk of the season so far according to NBA.com’s dunkladder. Give me Kevin Durant while you’re at it. He’s neck-and-neck with LeBron for best player in the game. They met in the NBA Finals last season and that could easily happen again. Paul George is my next pick. A lot of people think he should have won last year. He deserves another shot…especially if Evans is in the field. The final spot goes to a guy who is a major wild card. Google JaVale McGee, watch a few videos and tell me you don’t want him in the dunk contest.

My ultimate Slam Dunk Contest field: Eric Bledsoe, Kenneth Faried, Jeremy Evans, LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Paul George and JaVale McGee.

December 12, 2012

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Why the Golden State Warriors are True Contenders

By: Matt Bowen

The Golden State Warriors have long been an afterthought as true NBA contenders, but that time is officially over. The Warriors are the real deal this season for reasons never associated with the franchise before.

Will the Golden State Warriors make the NBA playoffs this season?

For years the team was coached by one of the game’s greats, Don Nelson. While his coaching style was wide open, run-and-gun, full throttle and a blast to watch, defense was nearly absent in Oakland for seemingly decades. If the team couldn’t score 120-plus points on any given night, the odds of winning were minimal.

Now, a new day is upon the Warriors and their future is mighty bright. The team is now coached by long-time NBA veteran Mark Jackson, who is in his second season as the team’s coach and is the right man for the job. Like a former catcher becoming a manager in Major League Baseball, the ex-point guard is a recipe for success in the NBA.

Jackson knew that installing defensive fundamentals would be priority No. 1 and the team isn’t defensively superior quite yet, but they are well on their way. The Warriors are winning with young talent and are sure to continue to improve. The squad is now a team from the top spot on the roster to the bottom.

Their 14-7 record currently has them in the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference. What is most impressive is that the team has won four straight road games in which they’ve scored 100-plus points in each contest. Winning teams in any professional sport not only take care of business on their home court, but they win consistently on the road. Collecting W’s away from home now will serve the Warriors well come late in the season when they are jockeying for home-court advantage for the playoffs.

Wait, the Warriors will be in the playoffs?

Believe it.

Led by all-world playmaker Stephen Curry, the Warriors are an up-and-coming juggernaut. No one man in the NBA can do it by himself and Curry has help in double-double guru David Lee and scorers Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes.

So what makes this team different from all of the promising Warriors lineups in the past that were loaded with top-tier talent?

The franchise now has a coach that predicates his teachings on defense and his team is taking a liking to being victorious more times than not. They are beginning to gel and look good in doing so. With Curry running the show, opposing teams are left to guess what is up his sleeve.

Sure, they will have to overcome injuries as the injury bug has already bitten them this season, but better that happen to them now than late March, early April.

The Warriors take to the road once again against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat on 12-12-2012. Maybe that will help them get the attention they deserve.