NBA Finals Round table

By Lamar Battle

 

I had a planned  meeting of pod-cast contributors and ordinary gentlemen set for a later time but from the looks of things the NBA Finals series between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers  could be over in a heart-beat.

Joining me are Greg , Enrique, Mike and A.J.

Lamar:  With the Cleveland Cavaliers down 2-0 in the Finals does anyone feel that there is a chance for them?

A.J.:  I have a better question, who is the greatest of all time Micheal Jordan or Kevin Durant?

Lamar:  That was cold bro.

Greg:  Actually, that is not an unfair question in that Kevin Durant  up to this point is outplaying LeBron James and that’s after averaging 32 and 10 against LeBron in the regular season.

Enrique:  There may be a slight opening for Cleveland but I am surprised that LeBron has yet to make more of an offensive push in the 4th quarters.  We can all see how dominant he can be but when his team needs that extra push he always defers to his teammates.

Mike:  By the 4th quarter LeBron is probably tired from having to chase Kevin Durant around for most of the game.

Enrique:  Well someone should should tell him it’s the Finals for crying out loud.  If any series is where you lay it all down, it’s in this series.  I mean what good is going to the Finals seven straight times if you only have three titles to show for it.

Greg:  A lot of my readers are under the impression that the Warriors may lack heart and if the series tightens up that lack will show just like it did last year.

Lamar:  If the Cavs can take game 3 in such a way that changes the flow of the series then things can get interesting real quick.

A.J.  After you guys put down the kool-aid remember that the Warriors have won the first two games in convincing fashion.  One problem the Cavaliers face is that they have some older players that were more than satisfied to get one ring let alone two.

Greg:  One thing is  for sure and that is the Cavaliers will not beat the Warriors playing the Warriors style of ball.  One question is can the Cavaliers slow the game down and manufacture free throws?  Can Lebron and Kevin Love supply enough inside presence to open up their outside shooters?

Lamar:  What does a loss mean for Cleveland?

A.J.   For one, all of the LeBron as the G.O.A.T. talk will have to be put on hold.  As a matter of fact he may not win another title especially if he stays in Cleveland.

Lamar:  Where else could he go?

Mike:  The best fit if he wants to seriously contend for another  title  is probably the L.A. Clippers.  I say this because the Clippers have enough existing talent to contend in the west especially with LeBron James on the team.

Greg:   The Clippers are a possibility but if LeBron decides to stay home then the Cavaliers will have get some young studs in there.

Lamar:  You mean like Andrew Wiggins?

Greg:  Don’t get me started on that subject. (laughs all around)

Lamar:  A Fox Sports 1 commentator suggested that there are two teams in the NBA that are totally controlled by their star players, those would be the Cavaliers ( 16th in ppg allow and fg% allow) and the L.A. Clippers.( 11th in ppg allow and fg% allow) per Fox Sports.com,  If that’s the case then  LeBron may have to leave player acquisitions to experienced staff.  (providing he has not done so)

Also, one overlooked aspect of this series is that the Golden State Warriors put a lot of thought into the type of attack they wanted and then they (team management including consultant Jerry West) went out and got the players that formed the type of team that is seemingly revolutionizing the game.   The Warriors are long, athletic, smart and unselfish.

Essentially this highly coached and motivated team also boast the 3 best shooters in the game today and possibly of all time.

Come to think of it, we could have another dynasty in the making.

Mike:  That’s what I’ve been saying all along.

 

 

 

 

The NBA Finals: A Dream Match-up

By Lamar Battle

Time to prepare for a match-up that has been in the works since the beginning of the 2016-17 NBA season.

The Golden State Warriors (67-15) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31) are on a collision course as they meet in the NBA Finals for the 3rd straight time, the series is tied 1-1.

This series has a number of ramifications at stake. To name a few, Cavaliers star LeBron James is sitting smack dab in the middle of a debate as to who is the G.O.A.T. ( Greatest of all time) between him and Former Chicago Bulls player Micheal Jordan.  Opinions vary as voices from all over the internet and networks take sides.

I like what Fox Sports 1 host Colin Cowherd said and I paraphrase, imagine if Micheal Jordan were McDonald’s and LeBron James were Starbucks who had just started making fries better than McDonald’s what would that mean?  In other words the one thing Micheal did better than LeBron was score but LeBron is on pace (as the All Time leader in playoff points) to surpass Micheal in that aspect too.

Warriors forward Draymond Green, so hungry for revenge and redemption (after last years defeat) more or less said that they want to crush the Cavaliers and considering the Warriors undefeated run through the 2016-17 playoffs crushing the Cavaliers is a real possibility.

One aspect rarely mentioned is the opportunity for this series to not only provide the Warriors Kevin (generally considered to be the #2 player in the world) Durant his first title but more important remove him from LeBron’s  considerable shadow.

Durant failed in his first attempt as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder to wrest the title from James but this time he returns armed with a 73 win team  at his back and the desire to beat the man (many have jokingly  referred to as his big brother).

This series represents a crossroads of sorts for both teams and the stakes are extremely high.  For LeBron it represents a chance to test his limits and put himself firmly on the path to becoming the G.O.A.T. as winning a second title against the Warriors would pretty much guarantee.

For the Warriors this represents an opportunity to prove that their 73 win season last year was no fluke and they can be one of the NBA’s great dynasties.

The psychological advantage of winning this title would be so great that a loss for either could mean the end of their hopes period.

Hollywood central casting could not have done a better job.

 

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

 

How To Beat The Golden State Warriors.

Respectful pause……..for those of you that are cracking your sides.  But how can one say outside of  maybe Tomahawk Missiles can this team be beat?  To even approach this notion we have to determine who

The Warriors Are:

A collection of parts that appear to mesh perfectly on offense and defense. It doesn’t hurt to have four All-Stars and two sure fire Hall Of Fame players on your team.

They have improved on the vaunted pace and space offense originally introduced by Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni to such a degree that their execution is almost at art form level. Without question in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant they boast the top outside shooters in the game and quite possibly in history.

The Warriors move the ball they move their bodies, they drive and dish and when it breaks down they just hand the ball to Kevin Durant to go one on one.

The Warriors front office deserves a lions share of credit for assembling a roster of players that are smart, versatile and competitive.  Those qualities show perhaps on defense more than in any other area.

The Warriors are aggressive they play the passing lanes with active hands and most importantly play on a string meaning they back each other up (help and recover) with precision over and over.

Having said all of that I’ve just about talked myself out of this piece but to beat this team the opponent should

Know Who They Are:

What does that mean?  Well to start the opponent cannot be a better version of the Warriors.  The opponent has to control the pace of the game and manage turnovers that usually come from passes to the wings and futile attempts at drive and kick-outs.

On defense the Warriors have Draymond Green, an All Defense 1st team player that is aggressive, smart and extremely mobile.  The one thing he is not is big so he has to be occupied down in the post by a player  with credible post up skills.  This approach would also serve to wear Draymond down but most importantly keep him out of the passing lanes.

The Warriors have the best team defense in the league so the opponent has to attack their players individually.  Klay Thompson is a better than average defender so skip him but in addition to posting up Draymond Green, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant have to be attacked off the dribble.  Durant is an excellent help defender but not as mobile in one on one situations.

Forcing the Warriors into one on one situations would serve to control tempo and wear down key players down the stretch.

On defense when battling an offensive powerhouse smart teams know they cannot take away everything so they pick their poison.

The Warriors are so formidable an outside shooting team that they can drop a double digit deficit on you in mere seconds so one has to choose.  I say you stay home on Stephen Curry and most importantly Klay Thompson…..I did say stay home on Klay Thompson ? right.

Now that means that All Everything forward Kevin Durant will be allowed to roam the earth free..or whatever one on one coverage amounts to.

Providing an opponent can control pace, occupy Draymond Green, successfully shadow Steph and Klay and maintain their poise during  yeoman efforts from supporting players and an occasional 50 points from Durant then you can achieve what most can only hope for.

A close contest at the end.

 

Photo courtesy of google images

 

What’s Wrong With The Cavaliers?

By Gregory Powell and Lamar Battle
What is going on with the once powerful Cleveland Cavaliers, losers of the last three games (most recently to the ninth place Chicago Bulls) and  have slipped out of first place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
I spoke with writer and pod cast contributor Gregory Powell to get his thoughts on his beloved Lebron James and the Cavaliers.
What follows is a pretty thorough breakdown of what ails the Cavs and delivered at a scatter gun pace:
1. I said when the Kevin Love trade was made that LeBron would get a title but might have cost himself a dynasty.
2. J.R. Smith is lost, Kevin Love can’t jump, Deron really can’t jump, Frye is just a shooter, Kyrie can’t play point. Tristan Thompson is being sapped by kryptonite, Imam can’t shoot and all Korver can do is shoot.
Tyron Lue is speaking of secret plans and Golden State just beat the Rockets and Spurs in back to back games on the road.
And nobody plays defense which puts LeBron in the familiar position of having to be the Black Panther for the team to have any chance at all.
3. The team is helpless when LeBron is off the floor and I suspect he was having some Boobie Gibson flashbacks last night against the Bulls.
One of those wild ass teams from the east could take the Cavs out if LeBron isn’t superhuman.  I’m thinking most likely the Washington Wizards though the Boston Celtics will be tough too.
The question remains, will the Cavs have enough left for the NBA
finals?
4. Big problem, when the Cavs go small they play slow and by the way they have no center.
Let me add it was nice to see Bron pass Wilt on the all time scoring list but classless of the Bulls to not acknowledge it at all.
Of course the King is still quite capable of making me eat my words…you know…like last year.
5. The Cavs need to get younger bigger and quicker. No wonder LeBron was yelling for another play maker.
In the off season the Cavs better get rid of all those cast offs and old guys and find some athletes and shooters.
They better plan for LeBrons  golden years before he spends them in LA.
Mr. Powell, why don’t you tell us how you really feel about the Cavaliers?
Let the playoffs begin.

2016-17 NBA Western Conference Outlook

1. San Antonio Spurs:
O.k., before you suggest that I check myself into a mental facility let me explain.
San Antonio won 67 games last season ( only six games short) of Golden States history making mark of 73-9.  And that was accomplished without the services of newly acquired center Pau Gasol.
With a front line comprised of Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kahwi Leonard the Spurs hands down sport the best front line in the league.
(a fact that just happens to be Golden States main weakness).
Pau is no spring chicken and is past his prime but if he had chosen the Spurs instead of the Bulls last season Tim Duncan would have gotten his sixth ring.
2. Golden State Warriors:
After winning 73 games the Warriors shocked the basketball world by acquiring prized free agent and All NBA Kevin Durant.
Most would just crown the Warriors right now but we would be remiss to discount the role that chemistry played in the success of last seasons team.
To make room for Durant the Warriors had to dismantle most of their bench (An extremely effective and unselfish group). The Warriors may have sacrificed some defense, rebounding and size to make room for more offense.
Not only will the team have to replicate to some degree the contributions of last years bench but they will have to form chemistry amongst the starters who will have to jell to accommodate a talent of Kevin Durant’s stature.
3. Los Angeles Clippers:
The Clippers finally got to the place last season where they felt they had a realistic shot to win the NBA title before they were beset by injuries to Blake Griffin and star guard Chris Paul.
Can the Clippers stay healthy enough to challenge for at least a second round playoff win?
4. Oklahoma City Thunder:
Star guard Russell Westbrook is poised and ready to take this Thunder team as far as he can in what could amount to an MVP type season.
He will get support from a veteran and experienced team that will be out to prove that they are a formidible group with or with out the services of All NBA performer Kevin Durant (who left the team as a free agent.) Key for the Thunder are new shooting guard Victor Oladipo, breakout Center Steven Adams and 6-11″ 245 backup center Enes Kanter.
5. Utah Jazz:
The Jazz failed last season to make the playoffs but that scenario will change this season.
Not the biggest free agent destination the Jazz have managed to build through the draft and nurture their young players while adding the occasional veteran mostly through trades.
Joining future All Star Gordon Haywood (19.7ppg) and sharp shooter Rodney Hood (14.5ppg 35.9 3pt%) are point guard George Hill from the Pacers and Joe Johnson from the Miami Heat.
Promising bigs Derrick Favors (8.1rpg) and Rudy Gobert (11.0rpg 2.2 bpg)
6.  Dallas Mavericks:
Pencil the Mavericks in for a 6th place finish and an opening round match up against the LA Clippers.
The Clippers would be a tough opponent for anyone but let’s give the Mavericks a punchers chance.
Why, you ask? The Mavericks added key free agents Harrison Barnes and  Andrew Bogut both from the Golden State Warriors.
Harrison and Andrew bring scoring and defense to a veteran team with the ultimate trump (no pun intended) card and that would be the most excellent coach  Rick Carlisle.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves:
The Timberwolves are “gonna be a nightmare to play” according to small forward Andrew Wiggins as told to NBA T.V.
Mr. Wiggins may just have a future career as a weatherman because the forecast for this team is sunny without a cloud in the sky.
Andrew Wiggins is joined by quite possibly the next big star in the game Karl Anthony Towns along with the uber-athletic Zach Levine and ROY candidate Kris Dunn and if this is not enough they have Tom Thibodeau as coach and President of Basketball operations.
Coach Thibs is spearheading a group that will play tough hard nosed defense and improved offense given coach’s reputation for making players (especially point guards) better.
8. Houston Rockets:
The Rockets are an example of a team in transition.  Just two seasons ago they finished second in the west but a combination of ill timed injuries and poor defense have left this team trying to reload on the fly.
Gone is center Dwight Howard who never really ever fit with this team and in his place is Clint Capella.
The heart and soul of the Rockets is All NBA two guard James Hardin
(29ppg, 35.9  three pt% and 7.5apg).  As good as Hardin is on offense he was as bad on defense.
The Rockets as a team will have to improve on defense and to address this need they went out and hired one of the top offensive minds in basketball, coach Mike D’Antoni.
Long story short; this is a near perfect marriage of a wide open loose three point shooting team with a mad scientist as coach.
It just might work.
When the smoke clears:
Expect to see San Antonio and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016-17 NBA Finals.

Micheal Jordan Speaks Out On Racial Strife

All time NBA great Micheal Jordan addressed the ongoing spate of police shootings of unarmed black men and the violent retaliatory responses of some African Americans to those shootings.
After spending most of his career avoiding controversial topics as they related to race and politics Jordan felt compelled to speak out and show support for both sides of the apparent conflict between Police officers and African Americans throughout the country.
Micheal Jordan issued his statement through the site, “The Undefeated” and it read as follows:

As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.

“I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported

“Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.

“To support that effort, I am making contributions of $1 million each to two organizations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The Institute for Community-Police Relations’ policy and oversight work is focused on building trust and promoting best practices in community policing. My donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization, will support its ongoing work in support of reforms that will build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement. Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference.

“We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country – a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities. The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, but if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities.”

   Jordan managed to put his money where his mouth is with separate donations of one million dollars each to the NAACP legal defense fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police Institute For Community-Police Relations.
While applauding Jordan for finally making his voice heard after an entire NBA career of sitting on the fence and making statements like “Republicans buy shoes too” I have to wonder where did this commitment to social justice come from?
Well, look no further than the 2016 ESPY awards sponsored by ESPN. At the start of the show LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwayne Wade spoke on the violence particularly the shootings by police officers of unarmed African American men in New Orleans and Minnesota.
All of the players were impressive but LeBron James managed to convey a genuine determination to do whatever he could to help in his community but more importantly to inspire other athletes to do the same.
What does this have to do with Micheal Jordan ?
Micheal Jordan more than any other athlete in history has a brand that is unsurpassed in terms of it’s marketing reach and profitability.  Possessing a net worth of over a billion dollars and an NBA team (Charlotte Hornets) the Micheal
Jordan clothing line & shoe sales have literally changed the way people all over the world dress as sport and active wear have become the norm. Throw back Jordan brand shoes cost upwards of 200 dollars even though they are exact replica’s of Micheal’s first Air Jordan’s.
Micheal Jordan is smart and highly successful so he had to notice LeBron’s slow ascent to legendary status as an athlete who wins on the court and off.  A player who will occasionally speak out when injustices occur.
LeBron James accomplished a seemingly impossible task of winning a major sports championship for the state of Ohio. ( His Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2015-16 NBA title). The Cavaliers also made NBA history as the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals to win.
But don’t stop there, taking into account what Lebron has accomplished so far in winning three NBA championships It is also worth noting that he has also pledged 41 million dollars to send 1100 Akron Ohio kids to college.
 That’s right, I said 41 million !
So, when LeBron, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony stood on that stage and vowed to follow in the footsteps of Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Bill Russell and Muhammad Ali one has to wonder just how did Micheal Jordan feel about these events and more importantly, his own place in history.
Micheal has endured some criticism through the years for what some perceive as a profit above all else approach but M J  has a solid record regarding charitable contributions. However, for the first time Micheal Jordan has decided to offer his opinion on a controversial topic.
Could it be that Micheal Jordan has finally found his social voice while risking an image that has been carefully crafted and nurtured through the years?
Or……
Could it be that Micheal can see the slow erosion of his brand and or market share?  Only time will tell but one thing is certain.
Considering the state of ever increasing violence in this country one can’t really complain about any athlete trying to contribute to the cause no matter the motive.
Moving forward though it will be interesting to see just how far LeBron James will go and to what degree will his candor regarding social issues expand.
Article reprinted courtesy of The Remnant Magazine@yahoo.com

Lord Of The Rings-NBA Style

The Cleveland Cavaliers face the Golden State Warriors in one of the most anticipated NBA Finals in years and the story lines abound in this one. Will Cavaliers superstar Lebron James provide the title strapped city of Cleveland with their first championship in any sport in over 50 years.

Can the Golden State Warriors complete a history making year, one that saw them break the all time winning record (73 wins) held previously by the Chicago Bulls?

The Warriors have defied convention and shattered all types of records in their quest for a second consecutive NBA championship so we have to ask, will LeBron James bring glory to the long and I mean long suffering Cleveland fans?

Actually it’s bigger than that.

LeBron James has been charged as it were to not only preserve his own legacy as the greatest player of this generation but also to protect conventional NBA wisdom regarding the path to stardom, pecking orders and whether or not the game is changing to a style featuring three point shooting.

Point guard Stephan Curry (45.4 3-pt%), Shooting guard Klay Thompson (42.5 3 -pt%) and the Warriors have taken the sports world by storm with their team play, incredible 3 point shooting and first rate defense.

Steph Curry has maybe the quickest shot-release in the game today with only one caveat. Teammate Klay Thompson’s is quicker. The style of play featuring ball / player movement and a barrage of 3-pointers has everyone from Charles Barkley to Oscar Robertson voicing doubt as to the greatness of these players and this team.

The Warriors have already eclipsed the Chicago Bulls all time win record of 72-10 by going 73-9 this season. The only hope millions of Chicago and Cleveland fans are holding onto is that some one will defeat this team and derail their quest towards NBA dominance with serious historical ramifications.

Who could pull this off? Well certainly not the Oklahoma City Thunder who lost in 7 games to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder had arguably better talent but in the end they could not maintain the focus and discipline needed to knock off the champs as it took seven games to determine who would blink first.

Return of the King

Lebron James appears to be the last hope in beating Steph Curry and returning the NBA to some sense of normalcy or at least the league that made corporations out of poorly developed and trained AAU phenoms. No, the Warriors have taken a page from the the book of San Antonio and thrown in a kid with the looks of a 12 year old (according to his coach) and the stuff of legend coursing through his veins.

This would amount to a mighty undertaking and we all get to witness as one of the best NBA Finals in recent memory unfolds.