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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

Stephan Curry And The Warriors Prepare For A return To Glory

By  Lamar Battle

 

After the devastating loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in last seasons finals, one that saw the Golden State Warriors give up a 3 to 1 series lead  ( The first time in Finals history) before falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers the Warriors have made improvements in their quest to win their second NBA crown.
The most notable improvement comes in the form of first team all NBA player Kevin Durant who joins the team this season as a free agent.
In most circles Kevin Durant is considered to be the second or third best player in the world depending on who you are talking to.
The Warriors added Durant after winning an astounding 73 games the season to eclipse the Chicago Bulls all time winning record of 72-10.
Adding Kevin Durant to a lineup featuring Stephen Curry ( 45.2 on three pointers 2016-17) and sharpshooter Klay Thompson ( 42.5 on three pointers 2016-17) all but establishes the Warriors as contenders to win the NBA 2016-17 title.
More Than A Shooter:
One must admit that the Warriors are loaded for sure but when the smoke clears Steph Curry will still be the straw that stirs the drink and  LeBron James biggest rival.
As fate would have it mis-timed ankle and knee injuries as well as an auto-response ailment afflicting the foot of teammate Draymond Green prevented Steph and the Warriors from capping off a perfect season with a championship in 2015-16.
Stephen Curry, always underestimated due to his size 6′ 3″ and weight 190 pounds has added muscle to his frame over the summer and can now bench press 300 pounds ten times. ( The weight training may be a result of LeBron James manhandling him during the Finals).
The averages of 30.1 points pg, 5.4 assist pg and 6.9 rebounds pg (2016-17) are impressive enough but consider he was the  2x league MVP, 3x NBA All Star, 2x All NBA first team, 4x three point field goals leader, 2x free throw percentage leader and NBA steals leader (2015).
 However, taking into account this  list of achievements Stephan Curry still has the  ability to make his teammates better through example and humility.
We should recall that this is the same player who led tiny Davidson University to an Elite Eight birth in the NCAA tournament.
 Stephan has also made such an impact on the league that more and more teams are adjusting offensive approaches to address the growing trend of increased three point shooting.
The NBA boast players that are now more than ever speaking out on the behalf of the under-served while donating to charitable causes.
Stephen Curry is no different as he donates three insecticide treated mosquito nets to the United Nations Nothing but Nets program for every three point shot made.
Curry has met with President Obama and addressed dignitaries as part of the President’s Malaria initiative.
The married father of two daughters has left no room for doubt when it comes to his faith as evidenced during his MVP acceptance speech where he said:
” People should know who I represent and why I am who I am, and that’s because of my Lord and Savior”.
The Golden State Warriors are indeed blessed to have this player, a role model for young people and a great player who is evolving into an even greater leader.

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.

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.