Odds & Ins

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2017-2018 – NBA MVP – Odds to Win courtesy of Bovada Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada

 

Bovada Casino in Las Vegas released their “Super Early” odds on the players favored to win the NBA MVP Award. To no surprise,  the reigning League MVP – Russell Westbrook – and Finals MVP – Kevin Durant – top the list. Behind them in the top 5 are Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, and James Harden. The list from Bovada includes two surprise names and one glaring omission. The two surprises are Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers. Both players are young and talented but have yet to show much on the NBA level. Embiid was finally able to see some time on the court last season after missing two seasons due to injuries. While playing in 31 games, Embiid flashed potential that has Philly fans excited about the process. Ben Simmons was the #1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft out of LSU but never played a minute last season because of a broken right foot. At 66/1 for Embiid and 50/1 for Simmons an ambitious person could take a chance on one or both of them and be in for a nice pay day. The missing name that had a few fans going nuts was “Rudy Gobert” of the Utah Jazz. Gobert is the anchor in the middle for Utah. With Gordon Hayward’s departure during free agency this is now Rudy’s Team. He’ll need to step up his production on offense but his 1st Team All-Defensive selection and 2nd Team All-NBA selection show the type of player he is. According to basketball-reference.com Gobert was top 10 in eight of the NBA’s traditional statistical categories and top 10 in fifteen of the NBA’s advanced statistical categories. Any fan that follows the NBA closely knows that if Utah has success next season Rudy will be a legit MVP candidate.

It’s too early to be considering an MVP in the NBA but I’ll have a bit of fun.

Most likely to be the media favorite: Kevin Durant (Did you see the 2017 NBA Finals?)

Most likely to be the darling pick: Giannis Antetokounmpo “The Greek Freak” (The NBA media is always looking for the next young guy to ride. Right now it is Giannis)

Most likely to be slept on: Steph Curry (KD came to town and everyone forgot about Steph! With another ring under his belt, look for “The 2-time League MVP, Unanimous and first of his kind, Father of the disrespectful 3 point shot, from North Carolina” to unload and help those that are sleeping wake up.

Most likely to lose some votes: Russell Westbrook (The addition of Paul George will help Russell and OKC in a major way. Unfortunately for Russ that may cost him some MVP votes)

Most likely to gain some votes: James Harden (Yes I know Chris Paul joined the Rockets. That’s the main reason I feel Harden will gain some votes. Harden’s movement without the ball while allow him to be more efficient (scary huh?). Also don’t be surprised if you see Harden step up a bit on the defensive end.

The Odds I wouldn’t pass on: Gordon Hayward (The 70/1 odds on him is amazing and down right impossible to pass on. New team – in a bigger market – in the weaker Conference is just one of many reasons to consider wagering on Gordon. Some fans are skeptical but I expect big things from Boston’s new Small Forward.)

Lastly I leave you with a question. Would you wager $1,000 on one player or put different amounts on 3 or 4 players? I’m still contemplating on what I’d do.

 

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Odds & Ins

It’s Over…

The NBA Finals are over and the Golden State Warriors are the Champions (of the world Craig). Congrats to them on winning their 2nd title in 3 years. Not too many people were surprised by the results of this season. That doesn’t mean we didn’t get a bunch of dumb thoughts from fans and media members. In the future I encourage you to enjoy these games and save the “hot takes” for something else.

Kevin Durant went to Golden State to get over a few humps. Those humps included the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City’s front office, and LeBron James. I’ll take the three in reverse order. LeBron James has been the best player in the NBA for 8-10 years now and it is no surprise that after winning his first championship KD admitted that LeBron was the guy he was “chasing” and the only guy he felt could look him in the eyes in basketball terms. Durant’s performance during the 2017 NBA Finals more than showed his desire to win. Oklahoma City’s front office is probably kicking themselves repeatedly and they should. They spent their time with Durant making questionable moves over and over and over. Jeff Van Gundy spent most of this Finals talking about Durant’s abilities and rightfully so. But I couldn’t help thinking “this is what happens when you’re not passing to Andre Roberson!” You don’t need me to tell you how great Golden State is cause you already know. Durant was surrounded by guys that made his game easier. On the offensive end, the spacing afforded to him must’ve been a dream come true. Not having to watch KD go isolation, bring the ball up the court in a point forward role, or just stand waiting was nice to see. Golden State maximized his offensive talents by being themselves. Durant maximized his talents on the defensive end by being a team player. Also how hard can it be to transition a skilled 7-footer – who currently is #1 or #2 on current best player lists – into one of the greatest teams most of us have seen?

LeBron James, LeBron James, LeBron James is now 3-5 in NBA Finals and some people find that as something to laugh at. Long ago I marveled at the fact Magic Johnson made it to NINE NBA finals (5 wins in those appearances) and feel that LeBron will get to 10 before he’s done. LeBron has exceeded every level of expectation that was placed upon him on the basketball court. I’ve read and heard fools state that he made “the wrong play” in Game 3 when he passed to an open Kyle Korver. For the sake of your sanity please don’t discuss anything with people saying that. The Golden State Warriors paid LeBron the ultimate sign of respect when they went and got Kevin Durant last summer. To me that’s all that needs to be said. For those that thought this, NO Andrew Wiggins nor Carmelo Anthony would’ve made a difference in this series against Golden State. The Cavaliers needed defense something they lacked most of the 2016-2017 season.

Overall the NBA is in a very good place. If I had to rate them on a scale of 1-10, I’d say they’re an 8.5. There are some things that could be improved but I’m far from disappointed. Superteams aren’t the problem some make them out to be. There’s talent – young talent ready to make big jumps – throughout the league. We watched one of the youngest All-Star games in NBA history. Russell Westbrook and James Harden had historic seasons. We saw a rivalry blossom between Washington & Boston. I could go on about the positives to takeaway from the season but I’m not getting paid for this. And think about it, next season we get to enjoy the sights and sounds of  LaVar Ball. I can already hear him laughing.

 

It’s Over…

Thoroughly Unthorough NBA Preview Part 1

The NBA Season starts on Tuesday and I can’t wait! Shout out to Bart Scott. It promises to be another exciting season as we’ve had player move here and there. There’s been a lot of chirping from all over the League. We’ll get to see how it all plays out over the next 8 months. Today I’ll layout the moves made in the NBA’s Eastern Conference and share a few thoughts on each team. The teams are listed in the order in which they finished at the end of the 2015-2016 regular season. At the end I’ll list who I think the 8 playoff teams will be.

Cleveland Cavaliers – While winning the NBA Finals, LeBron James re-established himself as the best player in the League. Fully expect them to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals again this season. The Cavs will coast through the regular season. Look for improved play from Kevin Love.

Toronto Raptors – Finished 2nd in the Eastern Conference – the most successful season in team history – after taking the Cavs to 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. They were able to re-sign DeMar DeRozan and acquire Jared Sullinger via free agency. In the draft they snatched the 7-footer Jacob Poetl (9th overall from University of Utah). He’ll be needed to sure up the loss of Bismack Biyombo and Luis Scola.  The Raptors also need Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll to stay healthy if they want to replicate last season’s success.

Miami Heat – Are you ready for Waiters County? This team has a lot of questions to answer. Dwyane Wade walked to Chicago during free agency and Chris Bosh’s career is in limbo due to complications from blood clots. Dion Waiters took a gamble on himself and took a one year deal in hopes of cashing out next summer. Miami dished out big contracts to Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson. Whiteside’s new deal was expected but no one and I do mean NO ONE saw the Heat matching Brooklyn’s 4 year – $50 Million dollar offer to Johnson. The Heat will be much younger after seeing Joe Johnson, Loul Deng, Amare Stoudemire, and “Birdman” Chris Andersen leave. Newcomers include Wayne Ellington, Derrick Williams, James Johnson, and Luke Babbitt. Holdovers Justise Winslow, Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, and Udonis Haslem round out an interesting squad.

Atlanta Hawks – During free agency the Hawks brought in Dwight Howard and saw Al Horford fly north to Boston. They handed the team over to the charismatic point guard Dennis Schroder after trading Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers. Atlanta will need role players to step up (hello Kent Bazemore, Mike Scott,  and Tim Hardaway, Jr) while a few vets  – Millsap(knee) and Tiago Splitter(hamstring) –deal with injuries. Kyle Korver will need to improve on his sporadic Playoff shooting. I don’t look forward to the survivor’s remorse that comes with Dwight Howard shooting jump shots.

 

Boston Celtics – The Celtics haven’t had these expectations – of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals – since Doc and the gang left town. Boston was solid last season before fizzling out in the First Round against Atlanta. Head Coach Brad Stevens had all the role players one could ask for but no “top dawg” to get them over the hump. They acquired Al Horford in the summer but look for them to make another splashy move. Isaiah Thomas should continue to improve and Avery Bradley will hound opposing guards as usual. Rookie Jaylen Brown has already flashed glimpses of greatness that may come.

Charlotte Hornets – The Hornets finished last season getting smoked by Miami in Game 7. This season I don’t see much changing. Charlotte finished last season with the same record as Miami, Atlanta, and Boston but as those teams improved; the Hornets stayed the same. Kemba Walker is back and so is freshly re-signed Nicolas Batum. The likes of Al Jefferson, Courtney Lee, and Jeremy Lin all left town. In return Roy Hibbert and Marco Belinelli strutted in. Think that’s enough talking about the “Crying Jordan Faces”.

Indiana Pacers – The Frank Vogel Era ended on a sour note after a tough Game 7 defeat to Toronto. The Hick From French Lick tasked Nate McMillan with the duty of bringing exciting offensive play to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Nate will do so with an exciting mix of players. There’s recent Team USA Gold Medal recipient Paul George who has been tabbed by a few (including myself) to have a MVP caliber season. Promising big man Myles Turner returns with the sharp shooting C.J. Miles and volume scoring guards Monta Ellis and Rodney Stuckey.  In the off season Indiana picked up Al Jefferson, Thaddeus Young, and swapped out fellow Indianapolis native George Hill for Jeff Teague. Indiana lost Ian Mahinmi, Jordan Hill, and Solomon Hill to free agency. The Pacers are expected to be one of the top 4 teams in the East. In order to make that happen they’ll need to gel quickly and get that expected MVP – level play from Paul George.

Detroit Pistons – Detroit returned to the playoffs last season after a 6 year hiatus. Andre Drummond was 3rd Team All-NBA and received a new contract as a result. The Pistons did the opposite of what I mentioned about Charlotte. Detroit brought in Boban Marjanovic, Jon Leuer, and speedy point guard Ish Smith. The acquisition of Smith is huge because Reggie Jackson will be out 2 months with knee and thumb issues. Detroit had no major departures and is loaded with wing players as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson, and Tobias Harris return. Stan Van Gundy is expected to lead this group to more than a First round cameo.

Chicago Bulls – Chicago Bulls management went NBA 2K and cleaned house. After taking a sip of their favorite beverage they picked up the controller and went straight to the random rosters mode. The results were hilarious as Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol, E’Twaun Moore, Aaron Brooks, and most recently Tony Snell are all out of the Windy City. In are Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Michael Carter-Williams, Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, Denzel Valentine, and a few others. Fred Hoiberg had to think he was back at Iowa State when this recruit…I mean group of NBA players walked into training camp. No clue what to expect from this team other than Rondo showing his ass at some point. If the Cubs win the World Series then this NBA season won’t even matter. Go Cubs!

Washington Wizards – The Wizards had a disappointing .500 season and wound up firing Randy Wittman (it was long overdue). Now they have former Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks. Brooks gets to coach another set of clashing young players. This time it is John Wall and Bradley Beal. Both often injured guards have made their feelings known and it appears that Wall is waiting on an opportunity to bolt. He’ll have to wait on his knee to heal before doing so. Beal inked a new contract over the summer has missed a season worth of games over his four year career. Bradley will be expected to carry the load while waiting on Wall’s return. Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris will help too. Ian Mahinmi should provide solid defense. It’s also make or break time for Otto Porter while Kelly Oubre Jr will look to avoid the sophomore slump after a less than stellar rookie season.

Orlando Magic – Orlando’s summer included bringing in Frank Vogel to be the head coach and trading for Serge Ibaka. Ibaka came to Orlando via a draft day trade that sent Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and Domantas Sabonis(11th pick of 2016 NBA Draft)  to OKC. They also signed the most confusing player in the league – Jeff Green – and re-signed Evan Fournier. The always active Bismack Biyambo joined the Magic via free agency and the “Hungry Husky” Shabazz Napier was traded to Portland for those good ole cash considerations.

Milwaukee Bucks – Before trading Michael Carter-Williams, the Bucks had to have players with 3 of the longest last names in the NBA. The talented Giannis Anteokounmpo remains and they brought in the Curry Stopper Matthew Dellavedova this summer via free agency. They’ll be without the much needed shooting of Khris Middleton for 6 months due to a torn hamstring. Looking at their roster I have no clue where they’ll find shooting. The additions of Tony Snell and Jason Terry won’t be enough. Jabari Parker has looked strong as he continues to build strength from his ACL injury. Rookies Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdon will see some time. O.J. Mayo was banned from the NBA for 2 seasons after problems with substance abuse. Jason Kidd has a lot of work to do.

New York Knicks – Super Team in the house! At least that’s how Derrick Rose feels. After a dismal 32-50 record last season; the Knicks revamped their roster. They sent away Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant, and Robin Lopez in return they got Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday, and a 2017 2nd round pick. New York added more via free agency when they signed Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Jennings. The new signings coupled with the return of Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis has Derrick Rose feeling “super”. Jeff Hornacek is the new head coach but he has Phil Jackson ringing a triangle in his ear. The Knicks find their way back into the Playoffs with anything beyond the First Round being a surprise to all.

 

Brooklyn Nets – Terrible last season and the forecast looks to be the same this season. Jeremy Lin was brought in over the summer along with a bunch of other players they needed to fill the cap and make a team. We know A Tree Grows in Brooklyn but what about some wins?

Philadelphia 76ers – “Trust the process” they said. Trusting the process has landed them with another Top 5 pick injured before the season starts. The overall number 1 pick from the 2016 NBA Draft – Ben Simmons – is out for 3 months with a broken foot. On the bright side, Joel Embiid is back on the court…dancing. But that means the log jam of young power forwards has reached maximum capacity. Nerlens Noel has already hinted at wanting to leave. Jahlil Okafor was rumored in various trades all summer. Add Croatian rookie Dario Saric to the mix. Somebody has to go and Elton Brand who decided to retire isn’t who I meant. The team is still incredibly young – 17 players with 4 years or less NBA experience – were listed on the preseason roster. I can’t trust the process but I definitely trust them to lose a bunch of games.

Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions (in order):

Cleveland Cavaliers

Indiana Pacers

Boston Celtics

Toronto Raptors

Atlanta Hawks

Detroit Pistons

New York Knicks

Orlando Magic

Close but no cigar: Washington, Chicago, and Miami

Look for the Western Conference preview on Monday.

All stats, rosters, team transactions and more courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com/

Thoroughly Unthorough NBA Preview Part 1

NBA BYKE!!!

It’s not March Madness but hey it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t pay homage to the Opening Night of the 2015-2016 NBA Season. Not much in-depth stuff here. Only some quick thoughts and predictions that are sure to be wrong (WARNING: if I mention your favorite player or team be afraid). I’ll do all of the major individual league awards and give playoff teams and the Conference Champions. I’m excited to see the return of players like Kevin Durant, Paul George, and Kobe Bryant. I look forward to seeing the progression of young players like Andrew Wiggins and Rodney Hood.  I’ve been tracking Hood since he was a freshman in high school at Meridian High in Mississippi. I also want to see which rookies will stand out – both players and coaches – during this grueling 82-game season. Once again the Western Conference will be loaded but I have a feeling the East will put up more fight this season. Especially if the Miami Heat can stay healthy. Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks should put up a better showing this year…things can’t get any worse. Ty Lawson’s arrival in Houston could pay big dividends for James Harden. Harden will be able to play off of the basketball and move more freely. Paul Pierce went over to the Clippers along with Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson. There will be plenty of tense moments out there for Doc and Co. LeBron and the Cavaliers finally have their roster set but they’ll be without Kyrie Irving for the start of the season. I expect Golden State to shake off the rust quickly. They will definitely have a chip on their shoulders after spending the summer hearing about “who didn’t play and who wasn’t healthy” while they made their run to the championship. Keep an eye on how the Warriors play while Steve Kerr is recovering from back surgery. The Spurs got better by bringing in – LaMarcus Aldridge and David West – two solid power forwards. This season is going to be great, talent is up and the league hasn’t had this kind of excitement in a long time. I’ll leave you all with this reminder…I told y’all

I was put on the spot last night and these are the teams I went with. Most notable in the East was that I left out Washington and Boston. Both teams made the playoffs last year. Not sure how I feel about that. I also left out the Indiana Pacers. I expect them to play at a faster pace with Monta Ellis joining that team. The defensive makeup of that team will be something to watch. I left Portland out for obvious reasons. I kept Dallas in, that’s the only pick I was unsure of. The Sacramento Kings were a consideration but there are a lot of things that need to go right for them. The main thing being a focused and healthy Rajon Rondo.

*Both groups in no order:
Eastern Conference Playoff Teams; Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons
Eastern Champ – Cleveland Cavaliers
Western Conference Playoff Teams; Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder
Western Champ – Houston Rockets

Coach of the Year: Stan Van Gundy – Detroit Pistons

Defensive Player of the Year: DeAndre Jordan – Los Angeles Clippers
Most Improved Player: Julius Randle – Los Angeles Lakers
Rookie of the Year: Emmanuel Mudiay – Denver Nuggets

Sixth Man of the Year: Isaiah Thomas – Boston Celtics

Most Valuable Player: Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder

 
NBA BYKE!!!

2015 NBA Finals Preview

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This year’s NBA Finals should be very interesting when the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers meet up. Both teams have a first year head coach, both teams have lead players that have won an MVP award, both teams have solid #2 players that enter the Finals banged up, and both teams are making their second appearance in the NBA Finals. If we’re being technical this is the Warriors “franchise” 7th time reaching the Championship Series. They made it 3 times (2-1) as the Philadelphia Warriors and twice as the San Francisco Warriors (0-2). The “Golden State” Warriors are making their first appearance since 1975 when they won (4-0 over the Washington Bullets). While Cleveland is back in the NBA Finals after last reaching this destination in 2007 and losing (4-0) to the San Antonio Spurs.

The 2 teams met twice during the regular season with the home team winning in both instances. On January 9th, the Warriors won 112-94. All five starters for the Warriors reached double figures with Steph Curry leading the way with 23 points and 10 assists, Klay Thompson had 24 points, and Draymond Green was 2 assists (10, 11, 8) shy of a triple-double. The Cavaliers scrapped but they didn’t have enough firepower as they were without LeBron James (this was during his 2 week getaway to Miami and the BCS National Championship Game) and Iman Shumpert who didn’t play because of an injured left shoulder. Kyrie Irving dropped 23 and J.R. Smith put in 27 but both needed 23 shots to do so. Kevin Love gave a solid effort with 17 points and 14 rebounds but as mentioned the Cavs needed much more. In the return match on February 26th, the Cavaliers won 110-99 behind a monster night from LeBron James. James shot 15-25 from the field and went for 42 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists. Irving scored 24 points but had another bad shooting performance. Draymond Green and David Lee were the only bright spots for the Warriors. The trio of Curry, Thompson, and Harrison Barnes combined to shoot a dismal 14-40 from the field.

Both teams have been very good this NBA Post Season combining to only lose 5 games. It may be fair to say that Cleveland has had the easier road coming out of the Eastern Conference. They swept Boston in the First Round, were pushed to 6 games by the Chicago Bulls in the 2nd Round, and then swept a frail Atlanta Hawk team in the Conference Finals. Despite the injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving the Cavs have found a way to manage. LeBron James hasn’t shot the ball well at 43% from the field and 18% from 3-point range but he’s still averaging 27.8 points per game and willing his team to victories. James is also averaging 8.3 assists per game and 10.4 rebounds per game. He ranks in the top 10 of all 3 categories for the Playoffs. Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving) has looked his TV age while battling injuries but has managed to average 18.7, 3.3, and 3.7 while shooting 48% from beyond the arc. The role players like Tristan Thompson, Timofey Mozgov, and Matthew Dellavedova have all had crucial moments in the Playoffs when needed. But the biggest two have been J.R. “Swish” and Shumpert. J.R. has consistently provided the outside threat that the Cavs have needed to spread the floor while Shumpert has slashed to the basket, knocked down timely jumpers, and played solid defense on the opposing team’s top scoring threat. On the flip side, Golden State swept the New Orleans Pelicans in their first series, battled back from a 2-1 deficit to beat Memphis in 6 games, and then in the Western Conference Finals they beat Houston 4-1. Steph Curry’s play this post season has solidified the voters choosing him as the MVP. Curry is averaging 29.2 points/game, 6.4 assists/game, and 4.9 rebounds/game. Curry has scored 30 or more points (he’s reached the 40-point plateau twice) in 8 of the Warriors 15 postseason games. Draymond Green’s play has been exceptional during the Warriors run to the Finals. Green is averaging a double-double at 14.0 points/game and 10.8 rebounds/game. He has also chipped in with 5.3 assists/game and very solid defense. The First Team NBA All-Defense forward has guarded every position. He’s seen the likes of Anthony Davis, Zach Randolph, and James Harden. Klay Thompson is averaging right under 20 points/game but hasn’t shown consistent play. He and Harrison Barnes will need to bring it each game if the Warriors plan on being World Champs. They’ll also need their other role players like Andrew Bogut, David Lee, Andre Igoudala, and Shaun Livingston to play as they have all season.

These teams don’t mirror each other in style of play but the end results are the same. So far in the Playoffs both teams are holding opponents to field goal percentages below 44% (below 32% from 3 point range) and they both enter with +8.0 or more scoring differentials. Neither team is shy about jacking up 3 pointers.   Both ball clubs are shooting at least 35% from 3 point range with GSW attempting 30.3 3 point FG/game and Cleveland attempting 29.1 3 point FG/game. I mean they’re even neck to neck in the team rebounding statistics. The Cavs are grabbing 46.9 reb/game (12.1 offensive) as a team and Golden State is grabbing 46.2 reb/game (12.0 offensive). The difference shows up in team assists. GSW with it’s free flowing offense leads the Playoffs averaging 25.1 assists/game while Cleveland is next to last at 18.9 assists/game in their more iso-dominant style. The one downside for Golden State is that they’re next to last in turnovers/game.

I’ve stuffed you all with stats so let me get this pick out of the way. The two teams are eye to eye in just about everything you look at statistically. So that means the games will come down to coaching and execution. On the surface the advantage appears to be in Steve Kerr’s favor but I think Blatt (with the help of LeBron) will make things tough. LeBron hasn’t shot the ball well from the perimeter but data from NBA.com Player Tracking shows that he leads four statistical categories related to Drives (to the basket) on offense. I fully expect the Warriors to pack the paint and mirror the defense the Spurs have thrown at LeBron. Look for Draymond, Iguodala, Livingston, Barnes and Thompson to guard LBJ at times during this series. The Cavs will need Shumpert, Smith, and company to knock down 3s. And which Uncle Drew will we get? The spry free moving one or the aching injured one? GSW will also need to keep Tristan Thompson and Mozgov off of the offensive glass. Cleveland has thrived off 2nd chance opportunities throughout the Playoffs. Defensively Cleveland will have to defend the 3 point shot. We’ve seen what happens when the Warriors go on one of their patent runs. According to NBA.com Player Tracking Stats, Curry is Top 6 this postseason in offensive stats related to Catch & Shoot, Drives (to the basket), Passing (that leads to points scored), and Pullup Shooting. I’ve already mentioned Draymond’s defensive needs but he’ll also need to keep up his all-around offensive threat. Klay Thompson needs to show that he’s fully healthy from the concussion he suffered in Game 5 against Houston and play with more consistency. The Warriors raucous home crowd will definitely play its part to help. I’m not making the same mistake twice so when it’s all said and done I expect Cleveland to be victorious. LeBron says he is “playing his best basketball” right now. He’ll need to show it at least 4 more times if he plans on beating a tough Golden State Warrior team and bring Cleveland it’s long awaited championship.

2015 NBA Finals Preview

An Apology, A Wedding, A Messi

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I’ll start first with the apology. I’d like to apologize to LeBron for picking the Chicago Bulls to defeat him and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2nd Round of this season’s NBA Playoffs. I can’t think of too many times where I went against a team that LBJ was on other than when he’s recently played the New Orleans Pelicans. Surprisingly the Cavs outlasted the Bulls and then swept the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals. Now Cleveland is set to face the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. The Warriors were the best team during the NBA’s regular season and have kept up their form during the 2015 NBA Playoffs. I look for Steph Curry to lead the way offensively as he’s done but it’ll be key to see the health of Klay Thompson. He’ll likely see some minutes defending LeBron along with Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and a host of others. I hope we get a good series but I think it’ll be over in 5 or 6 games.

Included in all of the sports drama in May was a very important event in my life. On May 24, I officially entered #washedlife but I must say my Wedding Day was anything but. We had plenty of ordeals to overcome on that glorious day. As expected it started with none of the Wedding Party showing up on time (well Raven was on time lol), from there it was tuxedo malfunctions for a few fellows, and finally there was the threat of rain! With all of this you’d have thought the day was doomed but we made our way through. The Wedding Party started trickling in and the laughs began. We all had a few beverages to ease the tension and long wait, thanks to a few heads up gentlemen. A few safety pins and good fortune helped fix a few britches. The rain was also generous. The ceremony was set to take place outside but with a little over an hour and a half to spare the skies parted. The rain didn’t last long but was very heavy and amazingly the decorations held up quite well. After the downpour my lovely wife to be arrived and some more pre-ceremony pictures were taken while I was kept out of view. The ceremony included many goofballs and goof ups but it was still great. After the ceremony we took more pictures right before the impending monsoon. The rain poured outside but inside kids and adults (young and old) danced all over the place. With my dad stealing the show while “Wipe Me Down” played. It was a great day and night, one that I won’t forget. Keeping with the sports theme I’ve decided to give out a few accolades. My wife of course was MVP (I’m not dumb). Rookies of the Year went to the kids.  They did great during the ceremony and danced all night during the reception.  Coach of the Day honors went to my dad. He was smart enough to pop the trunk and whip out some steak, chicken, and hamburger buns from that he had saved from the night before. I heard almost everybody got them a sandwich. 6th Man honors went to Nic. He’s my wife’s cousin and was pretty much called on for whatever errand she needed taken care of. I’m about to mix sports but if you know her and saw pics of my “Best Wo(Man)” Karmen Charmain you’d understand why she was the clear cut Heisman Trophy winner. Nic was discouraged by the fact that she was “for everybody” but even he said “Kodi, you ain’t gone believe it when you see Karmen.” Karmen got the most votes and looked great. Not sure when I’ll see her with makeup and “brows on fleek” again but I enjoyed it.

My Dad held it down for you @greedy_gekko lol. #ChamblissWedding2015 #wipemedown @officialboosieig

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I end this entry by paying homage to “Messi”. Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest player to ever touch a soccer field. The things that he does while on the field are just majestic. It’s hard to explain and I can only suggest that you watch and be amazed. I’m just thankful I was able to spend the month of May watching the 2 sports that I love most, spend time with the people that I love most, and tie the knot with the woman that I love most. Folks that’s the best hat trick of all.

An Apology, A Wedding, A Messi

Cleveland VS Chicago: The Year of the Bulls?

I’m sure if you bump into the right Cleveland Cavalier fan they’ll cringe if you mention “Michael Jordan”. If you’ve been following basketball since the 90s there’s no way you haven’t seen highlights of Jordan and the Bulls repeatedly breaking the hearts of Cavalier fans. Move forward to 2015 and you’ll probably find Bulls fans disgusted when you mention “LeBron James”. LBJ hasn’t been quite as dramatic as MJ when beating Chicago but he’s knocked them off when it has mattered the most. A quick history lesson for those that don’t know…

While he hasn’t enjoyed his time visiting Cleveland in the past, Joakim Noah told reporters “I never thought I’d say this, but I’m very excited to go to Cleveland.” following the Chicago Bulls Game 6 win over Milwaukee. Noah’s excited because the Bulls will get another shot at finally beating a “LeBron James led” team in the NBA Playoffs. So far teams that LeBron James featured on are 3-0 VS Chicago with all ending as 4-1 series wins. We’ll get into that and more in a few. But at this present moment this could be the Bulls’ best chance to overthrow the “King of Akron”. The Bulls have some old faces such as a mostly healthy Derrick Rose, the aforementioned Noah, arguably the league’s best 2 way SG in Jimmy Butler, the various contributors from their “Bench Mob”, and fiery Coach Tom Thibodeau. The Bulls also bring a few new pieces in Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, and Aaron Brooks. Most importantly the Bulls bring a full roster to the 2nd Round matchup with the Cavs. Meanwhile Cleveland enters without Kevin Love and J.R. Smith. Love is out for the remainder of the season due to an injured shoulder and J.R. is suspended for Games 1 & 2 of this series. Smith punched Jae Crowder in Game 4 of the first round series versus the Boston Celtics. The Cavs still have the duo of Kyrie Irving and LeBron James to lean on but they’ll need a lot of help from an even thinner supporting cast.

The division rivals met four times this regular season with the Cavs winning 3. LeBron James’ perceived struggles versus the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau led teams seems to be over. During the season series, LBJ averaged 28.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists. Those are some gaudy numbers but the Bulls can take solace in the fact that they forced him into 5 turnovers per game. The Bulls were also without Jimmy Butler in two of the games and they didn’t have Derrick Rose in the fourth and final regular season matchup between the two teams. On the flip side Chicago will need much more from Pau Gasol who struggled in games versus Cleveland. Gasol shot a miserable 36% from the field and only averaged 14.0 in the 4 games against Cleveland. The Bulls will also need to protect the basketball and rebound better. The Bulls had 16+ turnovers and were outrebounded by double digits in 2 of the 3 losses this season. The Bulls must continue to make Kyrie work for his points during the series. He averaged 21.3 points and 6.5 assists in the matchups but also shot only 38% from the field while averaging close to 3 turnovers. In the game that the Bulls won, Derrick Rose had 30 points, 4 rebounds and 7 assists. The Bulls forced Cleveland into 16 turnovers (8 by LeBron) and controlled the backboards.

As I mentioned earlier the Bulls have lost 3 times to teams led by LeBron James. The first playoff matchup occurred in 2010 while LBJ was still with Cleveland. James averaged 31.8 points, 9.2 reb, and 8.2 assists. Those numbers prompted the Bulls to snatch up Tom Thibodeau who was an Assistant Coach for the Boston Celtics back then. Thibodeau was in charge of the Celtics defense and had slowed LeBron in previous matchups. James’ numbers would decrease (25.8, 7.8, 6.6 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals and 23.6, 7.0, 7.8 in the 2nd Round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs) the two series Miami won over Chicago but he had a much better supporting cast. Also in 2013, Chicago was decimated by injuries. They were able to fight of some injuries and defeat the Brooklyn Nets in the 1st Round that season. They were without Rose that entire season after he suffered an ACL injury in the First Round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. The Bulls come into this series with a lot of confidence and for the first time a bit of luck. Both teams will need to establish authority in the paint. According to NBA.com Player Tracking Stats, LeBron James and Derrick Rose are both in the top five for points generated on drives to the basket. LeBron currently averages 11 points per game on drives and Rose is at 7.3 points per game on his drives.   The absence of Kevin Love and J.R. Smith in could mean that the Bulls will look to clog the paint to prevent LeBron and Kyrie from attacking the bucket. It will be important for the Cavs to maximum spacing offensively. This also means that the Bulls shouldn’t be outrebounded by double digits in any games of this series. The height advantage of Noah, Taj Gibson, Gasol, and Mirotic should lead to major advantages. The Bulls will have to keep Tristan Thompson off of the glass when a shot goes up for Cleveland. Thompson is currently third in the playoffs with 3.8 offensive rebounds per game.

I think the Bulls will finally beat a LeBron led team. There are too many things in Chicago’s favor for them to not win this series. The Cavs will be dealing with the loss of key players. The smothering individual defense – and improved offense of Jimmy “Buckets” – should have LeBron working double time. The matchup between Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving will be a wash. Which leaves the advantage of the low post players and bench production of Chicago. In the end I see Chicago taking the series 4-2.

Cleveland VS Chicago: The Year of the Bulls?