Celtics vs Heat Series Preview

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I’m really excited about this series. It’s going to get extremely gritty and intense and I can’t wait. For me, this series will be tough for both teams to win. In terms of game 1, I think the Heat will take this one. Not only because they’re at home but because the old and veteran Celtics just finished their series with Philadelphia two days ago. They grinded it out in 7 games and right now they must be exhausted. I don’t think they will be ready for the explosiveness and fast-breaking pace of the Heat right out of the gate. In terms of the series as a whole it should go down to 6 probably 7 games. If I were the Celtics I would be relatively worried about the Heat right now. They play just as good defense as the Pacers and the Pacers are quicker and even they couldn’t stop Lebron and Dwyane Wade from sheer dominance in the last three games. The two superstars are feeling it, especially Wade who is playing some of his best basketball of all season. They got the Heat at the wrong time. I’m just wondering if the Pacers couldn’t keep Lebron and Wade to under 25 points, then how will the Celtics be able to? The Celtics, a team who don’t matchup as well with the Heat and aren’t as quick along the perimeter. If Lebron and Wade continue to score 30-40 ppg then the series is over because when those two are playing like that and working together they are the best team in the NBA. The Celtics have to limit their turnovers, because if you choke up the ball too much to Miami they will eat you alive. The Celtics also have to take advantage of KG down low. He’s been playing amazing basketball of late, while carrying the Celtics offensively. Nobody can guard him on the Heat, he should isolate a lot down on the block and definitely get his usual  free throw line jump shot on the pick and roll. For KG, he even might get a few straight line drives because one pump fake off the pick and roll against a slower defender he can get straight to the basket. The Heat have to take advantage of Dwyane Wade. He is playing the best basketball he’s played all season and now since Avery Bradley is out of the picture, he’ll have Ray Allen guarding him. Ray Allen is not only slower but Wade won’t exactly have to do much to break Ray’s ankles either. They have to take advantage of that matchup because if he can get Ray into trouble then there goes their 6th man early and that takes away a lot of the Celtic offense and disables them to spread the floor like they love to do. Then the simple thing has to happen, the bench has to get involved. Like Shane Battier, Mike Miller, they have to make their open threes to take some pressure of the usual suspects. They need Mario Chalmers to be more agressive to the hole and then they should be fine, because their team defense is unbelievable. All in all, I think the Heat are destined for the finals once again because they’re the Heat, because their superstars are playing the best basketball in the world right now and because they’re younger, quicker and their best players outmatch the Celtics offensively. I’ll go Heat in 7.

Christmas Day Predictions

As the clock hits 12 tomorrow the NBA season officially begins. Let’s take a look at the Christmas day match-ups. The winners and the losers.

Knicks vs. Celtics:

A repeat of the first round of the playoffs from last year. The Celtics swept the Knicks, however this year the Knicks are back with a vengeance. They drastically improved their roster this off season with additions like Tyson Chandler and Baron Davis among many others. This match-up should be very interesting. Or it should’ve been interesting, however recent changes in the Celtic roster have made this game a no brainer. Losing Jeff Green was a huge blow to their depth, and the injury of Paul Pierce just gives Melo more room to score. That means Marquis Daniels will start and that leaves the bench with…. Brandon Bass? That won’t be enough to hold off the Knicks, especially when the Celtics core are all in the mid 30’s and need breaks often. Tyson Chandler will also have whatever he wants in this game. He will most likely be guarded by Jermaine O’neal, a slower and shorter center. Tyson will have his way in the paint, and since Jermain O’neal isn’t an offensive weapon he will be able to play lots of help. Furthermore, Amar’e Stoudemire will play along the elbow and the perimeter causing Kevin Garnett to come out as well. Leaving Jermaine O’neal all alone. The guard play will be vital for the Celtics in order for them to win. Rajon Rondo has a large advantage over Toney Douglas, however Iman Shumpert has shown defensive capabilities as well as quickness and a 6’5 frame. He will need to step up this game, as well as Ray Allen. He will need to do more then just shoot, due to the absence of Paul Pierce. If I had to predict right now, I’d give it to the Knicks.

Heat vs. Mavericks:

A finals rematch, probably the most anticipated game of the Christmas match-ups. After winning the finals, the Mavericks made substantial changes to their roster. Letting Tyson Chandler, Deshawn Stevenson and J.J Barea go made the team softer. However, they added veterans Lamar Odom and Vince Carter. This game will be a test to see if the Mavericks still have the toughness and defense they had last year. Nobody will be able to guard Dirk in this game, because frankly, it’s impossible. He will get his share of points, no doubt. Lamar Odom will also be a threat on the floor, he and Bosh will be a great match-up considering they’re almost the same type of player. Then you have D-Wade and Lebron. It’s very rare that players can guard them. And this game will be no different. There is no way, an older Vince Carter can guard Lebron James. He’s slow, and he’s not interested in playing defense. At the shooting guard position there really is nobody to guard D-Wade except for Jason Terry. Although, the Dallas bench can still out battle the Miami bench, I will give this game to Miami. The loss of Tyson Chandler is bigger then they think, they lost toughness and a defensive anchor. Who’s really going to stop D-Wade and Lebron in the paint? Nobody.

Lakers vs. Bulls:

This game features the Bulls and the second best team in Los Angeles. The Lakers are out to prove that they can still win games, doubt has surrounded this team for weeks. Kobe’s injured, Bynum’s out, Lamars gone, the triangle offense is gone. Everything seems to have gone wrong, well unfortunately tomorrow won’t be the light at the end of the tunnel. I predict a Laker loss. Let me explain. The former MVP is going to destroy this whole team. It’s as simple as that. Derrick Fisher can’t guard him, neither can Kobe. He will get by the first man and Bynum will block him. Oh, wait Bynum is out. Pau isn’t a shot blocker and isn’t as intimidating as a Bynum. I forsee a Derrick Rose takeover tomorrow. Another strength of the Bulls is their bench. Taj Gibson…. 

Ya, remember him? Omer Asik and Kyle Korver are other names among the young bench who averaged around 27 points a game last season. Another weakness of the Lakers is their bench. They lost the 6th man of the year in Lamar Odom, and they lost Shannon Brown. Now that Bynum is out for 5 games, they have to move Josh McRoberts into the starting lineup, which leaves the Laker bench with…. Matt Barnes? Steve Blake? That won’t get the job done. Among all this doubt, there is a strength that the Lakers have. An angry Kobe Bryant. Kobe is the type of player to go off when he is mad, and oh boy does he have things to be mad about. His wife left him, he tore ligaments in his wrist, the front office traded Lamar Odom, and Mike Brown was appointed without any discussion. Even though he might go crazy tomorrow, that won’t be enough to get past Derrick Rose, the Bulls defense and their bench. I’ll give this one to the Bulls.

Thunder vs Magic:

The Magic fans will be happy to see Dwight Howard on the floor in an official game as a member of the Orlando Magic. They won’t be happy to watch their team get beat by the Thunder. The Thunder pride themselves in their defense and their energy. Their young talent and their scoring champion in Kevin Durant. I bet Kevin Durant is smiling somewhere right now as he thinks about the poor perimeter defense he will match up against tomorrow night. Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Quentin Richardson. What a joke. Kevin Durant will rip them up from all over the floor. As well as his partner in crime Russell Westbrook. Who has no problem being guarded by Jameer Nelson. I bet James Harden is even looking forward to the loose defense of the Magic. However, getting to the basket will be harder then ever. Whenever you’re up against Dwight Howard you know points in the paint won’t come easy. He should have his way in the middle, nobody on the Thunder can really out muscle him. They do have a good chance of constraining him though, considering the depth at the power forward/center position. Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collinson and Cole Aldrich are all very defensive minded players and will try keep Dwight Howard under control, but we all know that’s close to impossible. The depth is also a huge problem with the Magic. Besides Big Baby Davis and Quentin Richardson the bench is pretty empty. Everyone else is inconsistent and won’t be a match for the young and energetic  bench who scored around 30 points a game last season. This game will go to the Thunder. I will also predict that this win against the Magic will be the beginning of their finals run. A win in the finals? Possibly but this could be the beginning of something special.

Clippers vs. Warriors:

The world is buzzing about the Los Angeles Clippers. The most exciting team in sports right now. The “Lob Angeles Clippers,” they’ve been dubbed. The talents of Blake Griffin and CP3 combined seems like something out of a video game. I would say they scored the biggest this off season with the additions of Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler and Chris Paul. They’ve proved they’re no fluke, while beating the Lakers in both preseason games. I could see this game being more of a challenge for the Clippers. The Warriors actually have players who can stay with CP3. Stephen Curry has shown defensive aptitude in his career and although Monta Ellis isn’t a defensive minded guy he can still keep with CP3.  The Warriors bench is also very young and talented. Ekpe Udoh, Klay Thompson, and Brandon Rush are among the bench. They will provide a boost of energy for the Warriors if they need it. Unlike the Lakers, the Warriors are a very young team and I wouldn’t be surprised if they really give the Clippers a run for their money. This match-up is especially interesting because  neither team really plays too much defense. This should be a score-a-thon. Both teams somwhere in the 100’s. The X-factor in this game for me is DeAndre Jordan. Blake Griffin will pound David Lee down low, he isn’t quick or strong enough to guard him. DeAndre Jordan is the key to a Clippers loss or win. It is yet to be seen if he can be a defensive anchor in the middle, if he can man the paint and provide an intimidation factor, then Monta Ellis and Steph Curry will have a harder time scoring. If he ignores the defensive end, then this game will come down to who can outscore the other. We’ll see. I’m going to be spontaneous and give this one to the Warriors. I have to have at least one surprise. I think the Clipper mania will come to a halt when the Warriors come out of nowhere and beat the Clippers.

What do you think? Comment who you have to win each game. Only 13  hours until tip-off. Here we go!

Ring Disrespect

We all know what kind of person Mark Cuban is. He’s a loud mouthed, cocky, and controversial owner. For the whole playoffs, we all watched in awe to see Mark Cuban say not more then about 10 words a night. Not even shouting to the refs. Just a pep talk for his players. What could he have been doing just sitting there in the NBA finals saying nothing. How can you not say anything, this is the moment he has waited for, for about 10 years.

Then when the buzzer sounded in game 6, he told Chris Webber what his plan was. The plan that kept him from speaking. No rings. He said they’re too old fashioned and i want a special Mark Cuban ring. This caused some hard feelings among the players.

Especially when he says old fashioned to a team full of veteran talent.  Jason Kidd remarked, ” I am old fashioned.”

Who to agree with, that’s the question. Is it cool to invent new rings, or make it a necklace or something. Or should we keep tradition the same.

In my mind tradition should be kept the same. Especially when one of the most loud-mouthed people in the NBA wants to change a tradition that has lasted longer then he has been alive. I would be seriously disrespected if I was the players.

I’ll tell you why. First off, he goes on TV without even telling his players what he was thinking and blurts out he wants a new type of ring. As an owner of a basketball team, it’s your job to make the right decisions and connect the team. By going on TV with a new idea without consulting his team shows not independence but neglect towards the team.

Then there’s the tradition aspect of it all. Think of Dirk Nowitzki for a second. This man came from Germany when he was 19-20 years old. For 13 years in the NBA he has dreamed of a ring, he has dreamed of holding the trophy up high. And for 12 years before his time he has seen players like Kobe, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Richard Hamilton, Shaquille Oneal, all players that came to the NBA about the same time as him. They all have rings. I think to change a ring it’s just not the same. People always say get that ring, when talking about a championship. Now to take it away from the players who have worked their asses off for 103 games is just like taking dreams away.

Take Jason Kidd for example. Growing up in the NBA he saw all these rings being flashed around, and he got jealous. He tried twice to win the NBA finals but fell short both times. There is more meaning in a ring. He is 38 years old and he is not looking to wear some big gold bling bling around his neck showing everyone who the champions are. He wants a ring. The whole Mavericks want a ring.

If I were Cuban I would apologise for starting turmoil when they should be celebrating over their championship.

Finals: Game 2 Notes

It looked all but over. The Heat had a 15 point lead with 7 minutes to go. They have three all stars on their team and they were looking like they would cruise to the finish. Then after Dwyane’s big three, their hollywood that Joakim Noah talked about came out. There was the premature celebration, the punches, the cheering and everyone including myself believed it was over.

Never doubt a veteran team.

The Mavericks closed the game out on a 22-5 run, they came back and won the game by 2 points. Lebron and Wade had so many opportunities to finish the game off, but they played along the three point line and took rushed shots. This dates back to critique on their clutch play and their ability to finish games off. This is not just another game, they just lost game 2 of the finals. They could’ve had a 2-0 lead going into the three games in Dallas which are almost impossible to lose all three. They could’ve won the series in Dallas, or come back to Miami with a 3-2 lead. Now it’s basically 0-0. The first game means nothing. Nothing has happened except for the momentum shifting to the Mavericks.

This was a big let down for the Heat. They looked like they were coasting to an easy series, their superstar firepower was taking over and everyone thought this series was in the Heat’s hands. This is not the play we should be seeing from a champion. Champions don’t lose concentration for 7 minutes in game 2 of the finals, at home, with a 15 point lead. It’s not a champions type of game.

This game also showed us how persistent and valuable the veteran experience is on this team. They never gave up. They scored bucket after bucket and dug into the Heat defensively. It showed us that maybe a champion doesn’t have to have two or more stars on their team like the 2010 Lakers, or the 2008 Celtics, or the 2007 Spurs. All you need is will, heart and determination and that’s what got them back in this game.

To close out this game, they needed Dirk Nowitzki. His 9 points in the last 2 or so minutes showed Lebron what it takes to be a real champion. His late game antics, his shooting when it counted and his reading of the defence on the last possession won Dallas this game. Never mind his contest of Dwyane’s prayer shot at the end of the game.

This game showed us a lot about who we’re watching in the finals. A team that cruises after a lead,and a team that doesn’t give up until the buzzer sounds. Hmm, I wonder who will won the NBA championship.

Finals: Game 2

Coaches always say forget about the bad and just focus on this possession, this play, this quarter. That’s what the Mavericks mindset must be like heading into Thursday’s game. The bench can’t dwell on their embarrassing play from last game but must focus on the task at hand.

Everyone says a series hasn’t started until someone wins on the road. The Mavericks have to try and make it a series tonight.

They are one of the best road teams in the league and with their extra ounce of desire from last game’s disappointment then they should be taking this game in Miami.

I’m looking for the Mavericks to come out strong. I suggested giving the ball to Dirk more often. I watched how Miami was playing him and they were getting Mike Miller or another perimeter player and Joel Anthony to harass Dirk as soon as he touches the ball. That did limit his offense but he has become such a talented passer that he got the ball to open men who scored a lot of points. I don’t think they realized that was working. They didn’t give it to him enough, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry played too much like a street-ball player and was trying to dribble by everyone. That won’t work. Especially not against a defense like the Heat.

Then they have to get Tyson Chandler in a more aggressive mindset.

He came to Dallas this year and instantly set off a different personality for this team’s defense. They were tougher, and put in more effort. This is not the stage to be getting soft on. He has been compared to Kevin Garnett for his instant defensive presence on a new team.

Only difference is Kevin Garnett got more than 4 rebounds in game 1 of the 2008 finals.

Then they need J.J Barea to snap out of his fantasy world and get into the game. Last game he scored 2 points, and barely dished out any assists. He was a no go in game 1. Dirk is 32 years old. When you’re superstar player is a seasoned veteran then the bench gains much more responsibility to produce when he isn’t on the floor. He was getting so much hype throughout the post-season for his fast play, his dribbling skills, and his nifty moves around bigger defenders. I know he’s a younger player, and is new to having such big role on a big stage but he has to produce. It’s that simple.

For the Heat. This is their chance to put the Mavericks in a hole. Put them in a deep 2-0 hole, cover them with dirt and fill the hole up. If they can win this game it’s going to be very hard for the Mavericks to win the next three games in Dallas. It’s a very hard task for teams. If they lose 1 game in Dallas then this series is pretty much over because we all know when Lebron and the Heat get back to Miami they’re winning. They’re 9-0 at home this post-season.

Miami won last game with lockdown defense and a huge advantage on the boards.

They only declared victory in the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter. That’s how close the game was. Both teams shot below 40% from the field. But the Heat only won in the last 5 minutes.

That may be too close for comfort for Erik Spoelstra and the Heat. They know that that game could’ve easily gone the other way. It just came down to the Heat having Dwyane and Lebron and Bosh on their team in the closing minutes. And the Mavericks having to depend solely on Dirk.

The Heat need to stop with the silly ball handling and careless passing. They fooled around too much in the first quarter and that prevented them from getting into a rythm. Also on one of their first possessions Lebron took a fade away jumper on Deshawn Stevenson. A 6’8 guy fading away from a 6’4 to 6’5 kind of guy.  Why is he doing that? Sure he made the shot but c’mon. I feel like Lebron settled a bit in game 1. Sure he got 24 points but most of it was from jumpers. He could score an easy 30 next game if he attacked the rim and tried to penetrate the paint especially when Tyson Chandler is off his game.

They did nothing else wrong. Nothing I could see at least. The Heat played a strong game, they let their defense win them the game and they stepped up when they needed to. Maybe with a bit more offensive production they could easily win this game in the third quarter.

Game 2. We’ll see you in 9 hours.