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

 

NBA Playoff Roundtable

A meeting basketball neo-experts (and pod cast contributors) convened to discuss some of the issues surrounding this seasons (2016-17) NBA playoffs.
Joining Lamar are Mike Brown, A.J. Campbell and Greg Powell.
Lamar: Any surprises in the playoffs thus far?
Mike:  None in terms of the teams at the top doing what they were expected to do.  I did hold out hope that the Bulls could upset the Celtics especially after jumping out to a 2-0 lead.
A.J.:  Speaking of the Bulls the Chicago Media spoke on how Bulls Vice President John Paxson was quiet regarding the future of star player Jimmy Butler during the final press conference.
Apparently that gave the impression that the Bulls may be looking to trade him and if that is the case they blew a great chance last season when his value was at it’s highest.
Greg: For a long time I thought the Bulls should have built around Butler given how he has developed into a two time All-Star but now I suspect that Jimmy will require another front line player along side him to return the Bulls to contender status.
Mike:  Most observers feel that the bottom line always comes first when it comes to the Bulls and team development and for a long time I gave them credit for astute business moves but fact is teams like San Antonio, Cleveland and now Boston have made money maintaining a winning record and culture.
Lamar:  Well at least the Bulls have been a top three team in attendance for the last 18 or so years.
Greg:  That , my friend can attributed to the Chicago fans who can be knowledgeable and loyal but also extremely naive.
Mike:  Well Jimmy may not lead the Bulls to the promised land at age 27 but he may command a 200 million dollar extension and Mr. Reinsdorf, you can take that for data !
Lamar:  I think we can all agree that the NBA title will be won by either Golden State, Cleveland or San Antonio, but who are some of the other teams making a name for themselves going forward?
A.J. :   In the east the Bulls, Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons are heading south.  On the upswing we got the Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers.
Greg:  I believe in Boston’s Isiah Thomas who has been playing out of his mind.  The Celtics are small but they got a lot of dogs.  Avery Bradley is really a glue guy and rookie Jalen Brown is going to be real good.
If Boston can pick up Gordon Hayward from the Utah Jazz in free agency they will be dangerous in the east.
Lamar:  What about the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo?  This cat is a starter on the All Star team in just his second year.
A.J. I have a theory/test for new young players and that is if a young player cannot lift his/her team at least past the first round then they are not ready and will need more seasoning prior to super-stardom..
Mike:  Well look at Micheal Jordan, It took him 7-8 years before he won his first title.
Lamar:  How about the Western Conference?
Mike:  Houston is definitely on the rise, OKC and the L.A. Clippers are a couple of moves away.  The Utah Jazz are showing great strides but they may lose their best player Haywood next season.
Greg:  The L.A. Clippers better jump on Melo before it’s too late.  They have a severely flawed roster and could probably get him now for J.J. Redick.  Paul George from the Indiana Pacers could also be available via trade.
As far as the Spurs go they got Kawhi Leonard and a bunch of old dudes. I can see improvements though from the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Portland Trailblazers and the Denver Nuggets.
Lamar:  Who wins the Title?
A.J.:  Just like last year I am riding with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Mike:  There is still room on the Warriors bus for all of you (laughs).
Greg:  Well you all know that I am leaning towards LeBron as the G.O.A.T.
Lamar:  Interjecting, that will be different session for another time.
Greg:  Even though I rate LeBron as the best player walking the earth I find difficult to pick him over a Warriors team adding Kevin Durant (generally considered to be the 2nd best player alive) and so I have to choose the Warriors.
Lamar:  Since my beloved L.A.Lakers are not quite ready I will have to pick the team sporting the best organization in sports,  The San Antonio Spurs.

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.

Not Your Fathers NBA Finals Preview

By  Anthony Powers

 

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“If I see a black kid in a hoodie on my side of the street, I’ll move to the other side of the street. If I see a white guy with a shaved head and tattoos (on the side he now is on), I’ll move back to the other side of the street. None of us have pure thoughts; we all live in glass houses.” Says, Dallas Mavs owner Mark Cuban, to which I as a self-appointed representative of the African-American people indignantly reply…um…ok.

I mean if after 240 years of slavery, followed by, with a brief respite of hope for an outbreak democracy during reconstruction, followed by another century and a half of state sponsored terror, legislative apartheid, red-lining, ghetto creation, job discrimination, social and cultural dehumanization and state sponsored economic exploitation etc. etc., we are surprised and taken aback when a wealthy white man is prejudiced…well in the old school lyrics of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes: wake up everybody, no more sleeping in bed.

Of course, and given my sample size is small, but I haven’t run into a single Black person in the least bit offended by Cuban’s comments. Most reactions I encountered were along the line of either: well…um…duh…ok…or…hmm.. It’s kind of refreshing to hear a White man tell the truth.

Personally, as long as he doesn’t shoot the kid to death and get away with it under the cloak of White privilege, I don’t care. I in fact encourage him to move on to the other side of the street before his fear gets that boy into trouble. American history teaches us that he is most dangerous when afraid of his manufactured image of us. Just remember young man….never wink at his woman.

And young man, if you get the opportunity to work for Mr. Cuban…leave the hoodie at home.

By the way, isn’t it interesting that the hardest playoff test in the Spurs amazing run to the finals came from Cuban’s appropriately named Mavericks. The Spurs had the most trouble with the team and organization most like themselves. Cuban and his alley mechanic coach, Rick Carlyle, continue to tinker under the hood of their hot jalopy, keeping Dirk and the ex-Matrix et al well oiled, doing the Vulcan mind meld on Vince Carter to grease his way into the Hall of Fame, riding Monte Ellis, for whose acquisition they somehow evaded prosecution, and generally high level collaborative balling enough to push the mighty Spurs to seven in the first round.

Note to Sam Presti and the OKC bean counters: you can’t construct a roster that requires you on offense to go 3 or less on 5 and expect to beat the Spurs or the Heat when it truly counts. And no, Derrick Fisher doesn’t count. Let me be the first to welcome you to New York, Mr. Fisher. Save the Knicks! And by the way, Mr. Presti, you have zero post-up game. Granted you have the beatific St. Durant on the perimeter, Neutron Man at the point and Son of Neutron Man aka Reggie Jackson coming off the bench. But damn if every shot the Thunder seemed to take in losing to the Spurs seemed to be either a contested fade-a-way 25 foot three or Neutron Man flying through three bodies at the rim. Or Neutron Man jacking up a quick three. Or Neutron Man firing a long contested two whilst St. Durant seeks peace of mind and tranquility of soul standing idle and open behind the arc on the opposite side. God I love Neutron Man! Long live Neutron Man!

On the other side, it was painful watching the Heat on its 12-3 cakewalk to the mountaintop once again. The basketball god’s convened on Olympus, Indiana, and decreed no team named the Bobcats shall ever win a playoff series. (Pelicans should also take note: yes. The Pelicans…the name that strikes fear into small fish!). So Al Jefferson had to get hurt. They also had to dissuade Chicago Bulls fandom of the notion that repeated 5 game ousters by the Heat in 2012 and 2013 constitutes being “close”. So they were matched up with the Wizards….the wayward child with potential. Out in 5 again. But rest assured Bulls fans. Take a little sip of Kool-Aid. Let me sing you a shareholders lullaby: Derrick Rose is going to come back and make it all right! Now go to sleep children and dream of Nikola Mirotic becoming the next Dirk. Butler learning to shoot the corner three. Noah trying really hard and passing, always passing out of the high post. Dunleavy and Kirk doing whatever it is they do. Good night Bulls fans…sweet dreams. Cha-ching!!!!

And then those Pacers, those wacky unlovable Pacers. A team only a mother and Larry Bird can love. Apparently Bird went to the New Orleans Pelicans workshop on how to fix what isn’t broken and how to break what was fixed. Sooo…that Plumlee and Gerald Green and a first round pick for Luis Scola didn’t quite work out so well. Two players and a pick for what at best would’ve been an ok backup for West at the four…wow. You’re left with a thin bench; a prematurely anointed superstar who plays like a caricature of Scotty Pippen in search of MJ, unless his 3 is falling, when he becomes Tracy McGrady; a little-birds-flapping-around-and- singing-between-the-ears waste of immense talent in Lance “The Minstrel” Stephenson, and of course, the only man big enough to inherit Gilbert Arena’s nickname: Agent Zero. As in Zero points. Zero rebounds. I wonder how Bird as a player would’ve responded if Perish or McHale ever put up a double zero in a playoff game. There would be blood.

The next sound you hear is their window slamming shut.

I know I didn’t mention the Nets. Their window never opened. Watching KG in these playoffs against these young athletes was real cycle of life type shit. The old giraffe being dragged down by a pack of hyenas.

So here we are: the rematch for b ball nirvana! Heat-Spurs. But in the tenor of NBA news these days let me digress for a moment to Donald Sterling. I don’t care about Donald Sterling’s thoughts. I don’t care about his words or world view. I do deeply care about the power over the lives and destinies of American families that accrued when owning thousands of housing units in Los Angeles County. The evil is in the manner in which he used his power…to deny American families access to housing based on racist intent.

In the discrimination suit against him settled in 2009 in which he paid 2.7 million to make it all go away…and to the eternal shame of the NBA it did all go away….It was alleged he also denied families housing based on children. The NBA had an owner who was even anti-child.

The point is racism is more than a feeling. It’s more than some statements. I don’t care if you think I’m a nigger. Just don’t pull me the fuck over when I’m trying to get to where I need to be. To adapt an image Malcolm X used to describe the pervasive pernicious effects of racism; if you shove a knife in my back, the primary issue is not how I feel about it. Nor is it the emotional

state and verbal articulations of the assailant’s prejudices. Racism is defined by the knife lodged in my back, with the assailant’s fingerprints all over it. As long as racism continues to be trivialized and relegated to the TMZ zone, the effects of the exploitative cultures that created the concept will continue to fester. It’s so very easy, comforting even, to pretend racism is all about slogans and labels. Sterling says black people shouldn’t come to Clipper games? Great opportunity to burnish your anti-racism credentials. Repeat after me: Oh I would never say something like that! I’m not a racist like him. Where were you when he was driving Black and Hispanic families out of their Korea town homes?

Racism as an artificial construct for the continuing exploitation of human resources has far more import than words. Racism has infrastructure and impact on day to day lives. Racism is the criminalization of Black children in schools. Denial of access to quality education. Double standards of qualifications for business loans. Food deserts in American residential communities. Chronic unemployment double and triple the national rate. Double standards for corporate survival and advancement. Criminal codes and sentencing laws that have turned prisons into plantations. Racism is the knife. Still lodged. Still drawing blood. Still covered with fingerprints.

Heat-Spurs!!! Hot damn! Historic! Epic! High drama about to go down. I have no clue which team to pick. Been going back and forth ever since the Spurs sent St. Durant packing. My brain says Spurs winning it in game seven at home. My intellect observes that after playing the Heat even last Finals, they’ve gotten better. We know what Duncan, Ginobili, Parker bring to the table. But it’s those other weapons: bad ass Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw…another dude like the old man with the long beard in the old Kung Fu movies who would kick some young upstarts ass with a fan…Mario Bellinelli, Danny Green, and Paddy Mills. They’ve all gotten better. Look out for Mill’s in this series!

Too many weapons. Too much brilliance in execution. Too much Pops. Too much GOAT-PF. Too many intangibles after coming back from last year’s devastation. And Paddy Mills! This is what my brain tells me. This team top to bottom is obviously superior to this year’s version of the Heat: no Mike Miller, no Shane Battier…oh what, he’s still playing? Depending on Rashard Lewis to give quality minutes and score? Wade crafty and less crippled but still a shell of what he once was. Ray Allen older. Cole and Chalmers forced to contain Parker, Ginobili and….. Paddy Mills! Nothing but journeymen (Birdman, Haslem) to feed to GOAT-PF and Diaw.

This is what my higher intellect tells me…Spurs in 7.

But my lizard brain has a different point of view. My lizard brain has witnessed the emergence of the next evolution of the species, which in about 100,000 years will prevail and wipeout my own, if he is allowed to procreate. What? LeBron James has children?! Oh well… I guess it’s time for this funky Homo sapien to party like its 99,999.

My higher brain appreciates the resourceful brilliance of the Spurs and expects it to prevail over the defending champs.

My lizard brain is simply afraid of LeBron James. I’m going with the lizard brain here. Heat in seven.