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MoNeYBaLL 41 NBA Podcast: State Of The NBA by Opinionated Media

Featuring Opinionated MJ

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MoNeYBaLL NBA Podcast Episode 29 – Experience or Hunger?

MoNeYBaLL NBA Podcast Episode 29 – Experience or Hunger? by Opinionated MJ on #SoundCloud

#Kobe #Gianna #WNBA #NBA #MJ

Experience or hunger? #Blazers, #Grizzlies, #Bucks, #Heat – Hunger

#Drummond & #Kevin Love can provide one year of beautiful chaos for the Cavs

#Zion will not be rookie of the year, stop, it’s Ja.

#Lakers & #Clippers in trouble? Clippers playing coy imo

#Rockets super small lineup

#Jordan should continue Kobe’s legacy

#Embiid troubles, Philly

#Raptors win streak generates no buzz

MoNeYBaLL Podcast, Ep 11: Playoff Preview/LeBron Standard Pt. 2

Featuring NilClassic & Opinionated MJ

Playoff Pod

Covering our opinions on they playoffs, the LeBron NBA Standard, and more!

The Durant Warriors

 

By: Opinionated MJ

Durant will takeover the Warriors by season’s end. He will pry away the grip of the team away from Stephen Curry. Yes, the back to back, unanimous MVP will be dethroned from being king of the Golden State. He will step down, WILLINGLY, and allow Kevin Durant to take the reign. This doesn’t mean that there will be friction. This doesn’t mean that there will be egos clashing or silent envy brewing, no, not at all. It’s just the order of things. In order to have proper success, things must have an order.

 

You can’t have the same Steph Curry shot selection from the playoffs and have a thriving Kevin Durant in all of this. Not productively anyway. I’m sure he wants to maintain something north of 20 points per game. Lets look at this on the base level: Kevin Durant will take Harrison Barnes shots, plus more. With that being said, there needs to be a pecking order then. I think Steph needs to become a swap option with Klay Thompson. They need to exchange 2nd and 3rd option amongst one another (and maybe even 1st option with Durant on many nights) depending on who has the hot hand, depending on who is defending who, depending on what lineups are in. Everything is situational with this team now. If you know Steph Curry can pull up from 50 feet and make a shot on you and you still have to guard Klay, Kevin, and Draymond also keeps you honest, then what can you honestly do as far as stacking up on defense? There will be no double team that isn’t dissected. There will be no mismatch that can’t be instantly exploited. Let’s not mention the new death lineup. We’ll call it that now. I wish someone credible could read this. Commentators could say, “Uh oh, looks like the Warriors are going with the ‘New Death’ lineup!” New Death. Death you haven’t seen before cause it’s so many ways to kill opposing teams now. Enough sounding like I’m brown nosing. Pistons will sweep the Warriors in the finals. Neutral?

 

New Death… because Kevin Durant brings them about 3 new dynamics. I’ve come across things that say that he was the #1 player in post efficiency last season and I personally thought that it was their only weakness last year. Not being able to slow down the game and grind it out. They also have Kevin Durant, who can play isolation and create for himself without intimidation or hesitation. I’ve watched Steph avoid contact (guess he was hurt) in the finals, and I also watched Klay avoid it as well and pull up from the elbow. Durant will take the ball to the rack, with authority, and he’ll probably embarrass some opposing defenders and make some nice posters with his new digs on. The shot. The Drive. The Post. The Warriors sacrificed their defense for the opportunity to have what I’d call a “Super Offense”. Their defense should pick back up as the season goes along.

 

Once Draymond gets through to everyone on the team, everyone gets familiar with their place on the floor in those sets and how to help Durant, Steph & Klay when they run someone off the perimeter. Draymond will now be a rim protector. I think he should be anyway. He did a nice job of fouling LeBron from totally removing his soul in game 7 of the finals. Impressive if you can stop him from hammering you and instead you hammer him. I watched him tangle with Dwight Howard and come out on top. I watched him only be drowned out when there was a Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams combo on the floor to deny him rebounds and the ability to help on certain plays. It takes 2 baby!

 

They’re vulnerable, though. Everything has to go smooth. They have to iron the kinks out. I think we’ll see some things that we seen with the Big 3 in Miami. This time they’ll figure out the puzzle earlier on because they all lack the ego where they just HAVE to be the #1 Alpha on the team. The thing that everyone is on Durant about will be the same thing that could bring them good success. This is a TEAM sport right? It’s about having help and teammates they said. It’s about having a #2 they said. Jordan couldn’t do it without Pippen and without Rodman they said. Kobe couldn’t do it without Shaq they said. Wait, Shaq couldn’t do it without Kobe and shooters I said! LeBron couldn’t win a ring without Wade, Bosh, and Ray Allen, then Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, JR Smith they’ll say. Everybody needs somebody. Russell Westbrook was a ball hog that had everyone screaming for him to pass the ball to Durant before Durant fell to injury, right? How soon some forget some things. With that said, Russell Westbrook will be your 2017 NBA MVP… IF he can land the Thunder a 1-4 seed. Maybe even a 5 seed depending on his numbers and in-game performances. Especially if he dominates. I can’t wait to watch. I hope to see 2006 Kobe reincarnated.

 

Just my opinion.

Landscape of the NBA: Summer 16 (Part II)


By: Opinionated MJ

Welcome to another installment of the “NBA Landscape” series. Let’s jump right in to a few intriguing teams going into the 2016-17 NBA Season. Representing the Eastern Conference, yes, the conference I think possibly has NO chance to stop Cleveland regardless of how interesting they may get. I Like these teams but I believe they’re still one major piece short. That piece could be the growth of a player already existing on their roster.

 

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers have found themselves loaded with talent in their starting lineup now and actually look very scary with Paul George another year removed from injury and with an entire season of health under his belt. No Danny Granger curse here. The Pacers now consist of Paul George, Monta Ellis, Al Jefferson, Jeff Teague, Myles Turner, and Thaddeus Young just to name a few. They now have the depth that it takes to make a deep run in the NBA Playoffs. The only question is, will their new coach Nate McMillan be able to translate his defensive prowess into these players and onto the court while also finding an offensive system to get this collection of players to coexist in. I guess people will be saying Teague is declining because he won’t be finishing as much as he did in Atlanta, he won’t have to. Their X-factor that can bring them success is Myles Turner. He needs to grow and continue to expand his game. If he can successfully fit in around a bunch of ball dominant guards, this team can potentially contend against a LeBron James Cavaliers team. If not, they’re doomed to be defeated by King James as easy as Toronto and Atlanta have been in the past.

 

Boston Celtics

Very intriguing as well but they’ve also landed an ex-Hawk in Al Horford. I’m not too fond of that 60 win Hawks teams from 2 seasons ago because they still folded against LeBron when it mattered just as they did during the playoffs this past year. They still have Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, Gerald Green, Avery Bradley, and the rookie Jaylen Brown. This team just keeps expanding their depth every year. I really think they just need to either find the formula the 2004 Detroit Pistons found by having depth and defense with sparky offense, or they need to try to find a way to land a superstar by DOING WHATEVER IT TAKES! Allegedly they could’ve landed Jimmy Butler, should’ve pushed for DeMarcus Cousins, and were in the running for Kevin Durant. A lot of people thought they would land Russell Westbrook but he decided to stay in OKC. I see Boston being more of the same since Al Horford doesn’t really want to play with his back to the basket. He’ll provide relief for Thomas. The Celtics need more perimeter defenders in case they fall to the injury bug again when it matters most. If you lose Bradley, Crowder, and even Thomas’ scoring when it matters most, you’re doomed. More depth may be the key. Maybe if Jaylen Brown can make an instant impact then they’ll be better than expected. He is their X-factor.

 

Detroit Pistons

My lovely DETROITTTTTTTTTT BASSSSSSKETTTTTBALLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!! I expect big things from this Pistons team coming into the 16-17 season. First things first, young Drummond. You must improve your free throws! This team is doomed unless… Stanley Johnson begins to find his inner Kawhi Leonard. I expect big things from him to go along with his attitude that he stands down to no man. I actually appreciate him for that reason. A lot of Cavs fans and NBA fans around the globe were saying that he should’ve kept his mouth shut. I beg to differ. What better to do being a #8 seed, underdog, gritty, new, young Pistons team making the playoffs for the first time in years and you get to see LEBRON JAMES as your opposition. It’s already win or go home. Sense of urgency from round 1! What better way to improve than to play against the absolute best team in the Eastern Conference and arguably the best player on the planet? Who better to talk smack to so you can be forced to elevate your game or be embarrassed. No matter the result, you win, due to the stage that this team is in. You automatically improve. He’s 19 (probably 20 now). He’s a kid! Already has the mindset of a man ready to put in the work to reach the goals and expectations set by his peers, the fans, and most importantly, his coach. Stan Van Gundy has a real diamond in the rough with Stanley Johnson. He IS the X-factor for the Detroit Pistons. I expect them to be top 4 in the East and as good as top 3. We stole Tobias Harris midseason, we’ve allowed Jackson a year to be the man running the show, we have Drummond who is capable of 20 & 20 on any night, and we also have Morris and KCP who can drop 20 without you expecting it at all. We have a well-rounded team. We just need Drummond to have a season where he plays better defense and can convert on 60-70% of his free throws. We were the BEST COMPETITION IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS against the Cavs. Everybody else tucked their tail in and cowered in fear. I say that with absolute confidence because it is true. LeBron hasn’t had any competition in the east but 1 team every year. The Heat were expected to be the competition but fell to the injury bug, piece by piece.

 

I’ll stop it at the Pistons. I’ll also get into the Knicks, Bulls, and express what I expect from teams like the Wolves, 76ers, Lakers, and more in upcoming articles. The Knicks are surrounded in mystique at this point. I also wouldn’t sleep on the Bulls. The defense I expect from them would resemble something like that of the Wade, Bron, Bosh Miami Heat. Durant, OKC, Pelicans, Jazz, Suns!! Can’t wait for this season!

Until next article!

“The Decision II featuring Kevin Durant”

By: Opinionated MJ

Oddly, I believe that these last few hours will serve as a calm before the storm. I expect Kevin Durant to change the landscape and odds of the NBA by deciding to sign with the Golden State Warriors. Yes, the same Warriors I expected to win the championship. Congrats to LeBron! I doled out a lot of venom in his direction and he delivered. I’ll save him for another post. Now, why would Kevin Durant sign with Golden State? It’s almost written on the wall.

I’ve heard things like, “Kevin Durant has personal relationships with many of the Warriors players.” Then I think about articles I’ve come across where the Warriors players were quoted saying things like, “I don’t know why they want him here.” Of course that’s a valid statement, but so is this… WHO WOULDN’T want Kevin Durant on their team? KD on the Warriors would change the Western Conference and make the Warriors even stronger. Now, this doesn’t guarantee a championship but it does guarantee that they’ll be a contender for years to come, if he signs a deal longer than 1 year.

Why should KD waste another year in OKC with Russell if their destiny is uncertain? Who knows what to make of the Oladipo/Ibaka deal? I see it as a step back due to how they were able to handle the Warriors in the conference finals. When they were up 3-1, they were playing like champions and I actually thought they would put the Warriors away, then Klay Thompson happened. With that said, imagine a lineup with Steph, Klay, Dray, and KD. It’s like a fantasy video game. That roster could only be obtained by forcing trades on the offline mode on NBA2K. LOL! Who wouldn’t expect this team to win? This leads me to his other options that he’s already broken down to 2 teams (OKC & GS).

He met with the likes of Miami, Boston, San Antonio, and the Los Angeles Clippers. He decided to turn them all down and left the Warriors as an option. In San Antonio, there would’ve still been the issue of consistency with the bench players, mainly Danny Green and Patty Mills. There would’ve been the questionable production from Manu, Tim, and Tony. Why go somewhere with so many question marks and with a Big 3 past it’s prime? Of course there would be a new Big 3, but LaMarcus doesn’t want to play center and I’m sure he wouldn’t want to see his touches diminish. Nor would Durant.

Miami would’ve been a good option.. if Chris Bosh was healthy. We can stop there with the Heat. The Clippers seem to be plagued by the usual “Clipper Curse”. They can’t ever stay healthy enough to make noise beyond the 1st and 2nd round of any playoff. PERIOD! At this point, health is a problem during the regular season for them. Then you have Doc Rivers who may have too strong a handle on things for KD’s liking. So he scratched them off the list as well.

Boston would’ve been a great place to land especially after Al Horford decided to sign there. KD would’ve easily become the #1 option and the leader of the team and they would’ve been strong enough to get to the NBA Finals. I only say that because we don’t know what Cleveland’s final roster will look like. Delly is already gone, so is Mozgov. Would they get the same production out of their aging vets? Would LeBron take a baby step back? Would Kyrie want to have more say on how things are dictated in the offense considering he did what Russell couldn’t do? Yes, in my opinion, the Thunder lost that series because Russell wanted to put out the fire that is Steph Curry all by himself. He wanted to take the credit. He wanted to be able to boast and be able to do it while still in the series. He’s matured as a player and as far as his knowledge of the game, the pacing, and getting his team involved, but he has to keep his ego in check until the job is done. The only time that it’s done is when you’re already hoisting up the Championship trophy and on your way to receive a championship ring. He’ll be better next season (Westbrook) but will the Thunder mesh fast enough? Will the offense be efficient enough to produce better results than what happened this past season? That is where things get gloomy for me.

This boils it down to joining a team that already has continuity and is very unselfish in Golden State or going back to Oklahoma and jousting for the #1 option spot with Russell Westbrook. I expect that Steph Curry wouldn’t care to be #1 option with KD in the fold. He didn’t care for a finals MVP Award, he didn’t force anyone to vote him unanimous MVP, and he didn’t say anything that would suggest he receive the hate and backlash that he did from fans of rival teams and from his peers in the NBA. Crazy how success is followed by criticism and hate. Too squeaky clean? I guess everybody is used to the Kobe story or how LeBron made himself a villain by joining the Heat. No one likes things that are too good to be true because they don’t see that in themselves. Truth. They don’t want to see the squeaky clean look of KD on the depth chart of the Golden State Warriors either, and I’m sure if he makes the decision to sign there, the anger and hate will follow, the media scrutiny, the rumors of locker room issues, and everything that comes with being a super team will follow. It more recently happened to the Lakers, Celtics, Heat, and Cavs super teams. Why wouldn’t it in this situation right?

I think KD would’ve already made his decision if he were going to stay in OKC. With that said, I expect when we wake up, maybe in 5 minutes he’ll decide, maybe late tomorrow night, that Durant will have joined the Golden State Warriors. If this happens, expect an NBA arms race like you’ve never seen before. Expect LeBron to recruit Dwayne Wade. Expect San Antonio to make a move along with various other West Conference playoff teams. Expect a crazy offseason that’s already been crazy to begin with!

Rambling Thought: LeBron Hating on Steph? Wow

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By: Opinionated MJ

Since Kobe is gone, LeBron apparently wants to be the villain of the NBA. There is no other candidate anyway. Who else? Kevin Durant? Russell Westbrook? Maybe even James Harden? No. Just LeBron.

We watched as Stephen Curry won his 2nd consecutive NBA MVP award after he came back from injury, OFF THE BENCH, to score 40 points in a winning effort against the Portland Trailblazers. Humble act indeed. We watched this man score 17 points in 5 minutes! Come on LeBron! How could you not respect the body of work and the offseason work put in to improve by the current reigning MVP Steph Curry? How could you not respect him being knocked down time and time again, including by himself with those ankles, to become an NBA Champion? How could you not respect him becoming MVP and being seen as the BEST PLAYER IN THE GAME? Last time I checked, you needed shooters around you. ALL shooters because that’s the only shaky thing in your game. Everyone has a weakness. I’m stating that to put out the obvious, everyone needs SHOOTERS.

Now, let’s talk about the shooters. You have to respect them. Steph, Klay, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Channing Frye, Kevin Love, I could go on. We have a player who is the size of Allen Iverson with handles that rival Kyrie Irving and James Harden, but with a shot so golden that he has become the standard of shooting, period! All within 2 years. Last time I checked, you were shooting Kobe percentage levels during the regular season. You’re very much improved during the playoffs. I give you credit. I want to dive in to the times your peers respected you, LeBron.

  • Dwayne Wade WILLINGLY becoming 2nd option, Chris Bosh becoming 3rd.
  • Kobe being seen as the 2nd best player during his PRIME only to you, LeBron. He put up astronomical numbers during this time and was flat out the best scorer, but you outlasted him with your unselfish play and how you incorporate your teammates. Maybe it was the whole Denver thing that accelerated your status past him. They never gave Kobe the same treatment after the case. NEVER! Until he decided to want to have a retirement tour. They didn’t love him last year, LeBron.
  • During your MVP runs, everyone was saying you deserved it, you earned it! No one said that it didn’t mean that you were only the “Most Valuable” not the “Best”.
  • During your championship runs, everyone saying it took hard work and a great effort from LEBRON JAMES! They said the only reason the Heat won was because of LEBRON JAMES!

 

I think LeBron has lost touch with the “respect” aspect of the NBA. He doesn’t seem to fully respect his own teammates at times. Let’s not forget his rants during the year, especially in March. Talking about wanting to play with Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwayne Wade before it’s all said and done instead of riding out the rest of his career in Cleveland. He did this during a time where Cleveland was losing but still were 1st place in the Eastern Conference. Let’s not forget the friction he caused with Kyrie and Kevin in order to try to pull another level of play or attitude out of them. Wait, sounds like Kobe’s tactics! I bet your fans will hail you for it but your fans bashed Kobe for having that attitude. You seem to have learned how to be more of a leader through it all although you’ve definitely had your rough patches as far as “vocal” leadership is concerned. You managed to get your coach fired, well, you fired him. You also managed to trade your buddy, your pal, Anderson Varejao. Crazy to think. You did it at the expense of finding another shooter to help stretch the floor for your unstoppable play going to the basket.

I’m expecting hate from your fans for this. I’ll finish by saying, I’ve watched you dismantle teams. I’ve watched you rise. I’ve watched you become a great player and remain at that level. I’ve told people that you haven’t fallen out of your prime, you’re controlling it, you’ve harnessed it. I want you to win a championship in Cleveland. Here’s the fun part. Not this year. Now, with this little small, potentially media-altered piece from you, I want Golden State, Steph Curry, to three-peat. First though, Finals rematch (although I prefer OKC/GS vs Heat), and I want the Warriors to dismantle your healthy Cavaliers. Matt and Tristan defense > Kyrie and Kevin defense. Good Luck LeBron!

 

 

Rambling Thought: Homing In On the Playoffs

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By: Opinionated MJ

The lay of the land currently has Detroit down 0-2. We’ve got heart and we will beat Cleveland. Home cooking is ours next! LeBron’s team showing life. I know what LeBron can do but what can his team do going forward?

I see Dwayne Wade is transforming into his old self. I predicted the Heat would meet and beat the Cavs in this playoff. I thought Charlotte would serve up better competition but the Heat are home. I believe in home court. It’s a reason why they play for it. Losing game 1 on your floor is the only possible problem.

Toronto has given me reason to believe that they can’t make it from just being in the playoffs, early rounds. I guess Stephen A. Smith is saying that DeRozan is gone to the Lakers. So who will follow? That could lead to all types of deals or maybe the Lakers then go draft a big man or Ben Simmons. I’ll go with my cousin on Simmons. I also think the Lakers will land the #1 pick. The league loves them and that’ll be their reward for themselves to find a way to keep relevance in L.A. post-Kobe. How else would they? Are the trio enough going into next year? I believe Randle, Russell, and Clarkson could have a future together.

Paul George has been playing big for the Pacers. Literally. I don’t think anyone has given any real attention to his ascension since Larry Bird wanted him to play the 4. Results for sure.

Boston is one player away. When will Danny Ainge trade some of his picks away to lure in a player? Carmelo to Boston by any chance? Could that be what Boston is missing or do they need more defensive wings to couple with Isiah Thomas?

Tom Thibodeau has become the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Look out league. KG ties into the defensive philosophy from the Boston Championship team. Could provide even more boosts to the grow of their young core. Expect them to make noise in the league next year and be like Utah from this season. Except, I actually expect PLAYOFFS from them. I’m a big fan of Thibs. Wonder if D-Rose for Ricky Rubio would work for both teams? They’re playing a good Atlanta team with some experience.

Does Mark Jackson actually land in Sacramento? Would that be a good fit? You’d think he’d need some shooters or change their philosophy to such. Wait, Seth Curry & Mark Jackson! STORY TO WATCH!

I’m a Lillard fan and I believe he will perform as always. He probably needs another option in case someone else deflates in some games. I see him making a huge push in the future with another piece. Durant? Dwight? DeRozan? Maybe not. Doesn’t have a ring to it. Maybe a rookie big man whose two-way abilities are already with him. Chris Paul is a monster and with Blake having had to watch while he was hurt, we all got to see who needs to dictate the Clippers offense. They need Blake just the same too. I’d like to see Portland’s home-stand.

The Spurs have an easy series. They will sweep. Nor am I worried about the Warriors. Sweep with or without Stephen Curry. The prospect of that is dangerous, if you see it how I do.

What exactly are KD & Russ going to do? It’s Russ’ team due to him being healthy with this new group of players acquired last year all while Kevin Durant was out with injury. Notched triple-doubles, massive scoring nights, facilitating, MVP consideration, almost a playoff berth, and learning his teammates and their spots. He’s racking assists cause he finds them in their hotspots directly from an offensive attack. KD must fit in more and become the Assassin always or we should begin to want Russell to take those big shots equally as well. This series is crazy. Dallas with a win going back home. This will definitely be some fun basketball. Quiet rivalry, in my opinion. I won’t be able to call this series til the 5th game. It’ll go 6.

Early Prediction: Warriors Vs Heat in Finals. Warriors in 6. Would be an amazing story for their team if they beat LeBron then Dwayne Wade for their back to back titles.

 

Steph Pressured, Uncomfortable, Reeling, Slipping?

NBA: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs
Mar 19, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) passes over San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (14) at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

 

By: Opinionated MJ

NO! It’s only one game. We already forgot the Spurs suffered a 30-point loss too, I see. With a win against the Golden State Warriors, albeit shorthanded due to injury (excuses everyone says), we believe the Spurs are now a legitimate threat to the Warriors? They are, but the game Saturday night did not make me believe that they will be able to sustain that type of performance over a 7 game series. Not against a fully healthy Warriors team. No.

The Warriors have another dynamic they could run with Andre Iguodala on the floor. He can push the ball, has been shooting well, can cut and slash to the hole and can make big shots when they need it most in order to relieve pressure on the others. He’s also capable of defending 4 positions on the floor and even the center position if something happened where it was LeBron or Kevin Love playing that position in a finals rematch of sorts. Although, for the third time, I don’t see Cleveland making the finals anyway. Iggy can help contain or at least attempt to contain Kawhi Leonard. He can definitely put the brakes on Danny Green and Manu Ginobli. I also think he may be able to do a better job guarding the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge. Let me not continue on this point like that’s what I expect him to do. He’s just a major piece is all I’m trying to state here. He’s the 2015 Finals MVP. Simple.

I see a weakness Saturday, a blatant weakness. The Warriors had nearly NO INTERIOR GAME AT ALL! Well, there’s a reason for that. No Andrew Bogut, no Festus Ezeli, and that meant NO INTERIOR DEFENSE! Draymond Green is good but he can’t defend LaMarcus Aldridge or Tim Duncan. I won’t forget some of the things Duncan did to DeAndre Jordan in last year’s playoffs. Vintage Old Man Riverwalk. They’ll not be another like him.

These teams currently sit at 1-1 against one another and have 2 games remaining that are sure to be entertaining unless both teams are resting by this time. What if Golden State doesn’t lose another game leading up the April 7th game against San Antonio in order to clinch 72 wins? This makes this game beyond must see! This would probably be the most watched game along with the next if the Warriors win this game. The next game would be win #73 if they could streak. It’s no guarantee but they’ll regain a few pieces along the way towards trying to achieve their goal.

I think the Spurs are the ONLY team that can do anything to this Warriors team. No one in the east can hold a candle to them. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook tried and tried in this regular season but haven’t managed to get a win. LeBron didn’t manage to pull out any win either. I’ve seen no guard do anything to Stephen Curry offensively demeaning except Damian Lillard, and that list includes Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, James Harden & Patrick Beverly, Mike Conley and everyone else who was injured last year or just in competition with Steph. All the NBA haters have turned their hate into respect since Steph has been explosive this year. I wonder who the players will vote as MVP this year at their own little award show this time.

The NBA Championship this year only can be obtained by 5 teams, at least from my perspective. The Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, Cavs, and Heat are the contenders. Well let’s say 6, I’ll throw the Raptors in there for good measure since they’re making a lot of noise and they are a matchup problem as long as Lowry and Derozan play well. They have a lot of good pieces surrounding them which make them a threat to make the Finals also. Although still, this is Steph and the Warriors championship to lose, if fully healthy. Congrats to the Spurs on a big win. I’m looking forward to the next two games between these two.

Wanna Bet? Cavs WILL NOT Make the Finals This Year…

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By: Opinionated MJ

 

Yeah I said it. The Cleveland Cavaliers WILL NOT make it to this years NBA Finals. I don’t see it right now. Of course, I’m human, I could be wrong but I’m believing what I’m seeing right now from their team and that isn’t much. My thoughts all stem from their behavior with the media and from their leader, LeBron James. It isn’t the behaviors of a contending team. This team is doomed to fail unless they hit a hot streak over the last 15 games of the season and win their last 13 of 15 games on the way to the playoffs. Even if that happens, there is still a level of trust and chemistry that has to be built in order to be able to execute precise plans on teams in the playoffs where every game becomes a chess match.

There’s not enough time to fix this and I’ve been watching some of the Cavs games this season and I must admit that I don’t “feel” their presence when they play other teams. Last year they were very imposing when I watched them play other teams. This season, those same teams have certainly grown and aren’t scared of LeBron or playing like they believe the Cavs are the superior team. It’s not going to take much to knock Cleveland off in my honest opinion but there’s still dealing with LeBron James at the head of this monster. HE can operate WITHOUT Kevin Love & Kyrie Irving. I’ll talk about that in another post. Right now, I’ll speak in respect to what I think could get Cleveland back. Sorry Coach Lue, but here’s my plan.

  • Make LeBron the primary PG (not point-forward) and put Kyrie at the 2, ASAP! Let LeBron set the pace and let Kyrie be a somewhat 1st option scoring.
  • Have Kevin Love as a facilitator/scorer type like Pau Gasol was on the Lakers. Place him at the elbows like they planned but let the offense RUN THROUGH HIM! This puts him in position to move into post position and kick to a slashing LeBron or Kyrie, drop in to Mozgov/Thompson, or pass to one of those old shooters they’ve got sitting around on their bench. This would also allow Kevin to work with the bench unit. He’d help them succeed often.
  • Play LeBron off the ball more to begin sets because he’s a bigger threat off the ball. He can bring it up the floor and look for a quick score or get it to Kevin. I just think of how the Spurs play him when he’s handling the ball. When the playoffs come around, he’ll see more teams honing in on him to try to destroy anything the Cavs can do.
  • Make Kyrie pass the ball more times than not OR make him run with the second unit more often. Again, LeBron can run this team alone.

The Cavs are more defensive without Kevin & Kyrie. I highly doubt they would’ve held a slower burning candle to the Warriors in the playoffs with those two on the floor. Maybe the focus of last year and momentum would’ve upheld them and forced a game 7, but we still would’ve had the same outcome. I think there are a few REAL threats and a few darkhorse threats to the Cavs in the postseason. ALL of 2-8 is a threat. The REAL threats are the Heat, Raptors and Celtics. The darkhorse threats are Chicago, Detroit, Indiana, and Charlotte. I won’t put Atlanta in this conversation cause they have yet to honestly be a true threat without having a defensive wing like Demarre Carroll there any longer, he’s a Raptor now. I’ll keep this short, if the playoffs started today, the Cavs would be bounced in round 2 by the Heat. Yeah, I said that too!

20+ Games Left To Go As The NBA March Madness Continues

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By: Opinionated MJ

What a season thus far that we’re having! April is just around the corner. We’ve watched the steady Knicks fall hard from being a .500 team, we’re currently watching the Cavs implode as far as trust is concerned, we seen the Heat improve by adding Joe Johnson into the fold, we’ve also seen the dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant lose big games against the Warriors and Clippers. My Detroit Pistons seem to get better one piece at a time, the Bulls have fallen out of the playoff picture (as of this moment at least) and we have no idea what to make of any other team besides the Warriors & Spurs when it comes to actually being true contenders for the championship.

I’ll go in order, firstly, the Knicks. Derek Fisher gets fired midway during a skid although he helped get the Knicks off to a good start. I think it’s time for this team to start thinking “Porzingis” instead of “Melo & Porzingis” and build this team around the rookie going forward. Allow Melo to go wherever he wants as long as they can get some decent players in return and hopefully some picks, even if they’re second round picks. They need youth going forward to continue their rebuild. They should’ve never given away Tim Hardaway Jr. I think he would’ve served as an important piece going forward. They also need to go all out and hire Tom Thibodeau before the Lakers do.

Now on to the Cavaliers. LeBron James… He’s praising Stephen Curry, he’s in Miami, he’s sending out tweets, he’s doing everything to keep the media full of things to talk about and, if true, he’s continuing to give his teammates reason to believe he doesn’t trust them. He didn’t trust them enough in the finals after game 3, and he doesn’t trust them now even with them at full strength. He has Kyrie and Kevin at his disposal and has still lost to the NBA’s top teams and a few teams they probably didn’t expect to lose to, including my Detroit Pistons. Yeah, had to toss that in! LeBron just needs to either leave Cleveland again or try to get Kyrie AND Kevin shipped out of town and somehow turn that into Kevin Durant or Carmelo Anthony and a true point guard (Mike Conley anyone?) and either more minutes for Mozgov or a more serviceable big man that they’ll actually feed. I’m also not sold on Coach Lue either.

Surprisingly since they’ve acquired Joe Johnson, who I’m also not high on, they’ve been on a roll. Without Chris Bosh! They’ve been showing a different dynamic and they’ve also been able to space the floor a bit more. Dwayne Wade has been playing surprisingly good, so good that all his naysayers should be wondering if he’ll ever truly fall from being efficient and consistent. Dragic is finally coming around and being more productive and they look like they may even be able to beat the Cavs in a 7 game series now. Look for the Heat to rise before the playoffs begin and put themselves in position to compete for a championship with the likes of the Raptors and Celtics too! Never thought you’d hear that, huh?

I’ll be short about the Clippers… They need Blake Griffin for the playoffs but they’ve looked like a TEAM without him. It’s hard to figure how that makes sense but it simply does. There’s only so much Paul Pierce is going to give you, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, and JJ Redick. Their lone star currently on the floor is Chris Paul and we’ve seen what he can do with someone he can throw alley-oops to and with a few good men around him. He needs another star with him to elevate higher and he’s due to make it to an NBA Finals. Anything less for him is honestly a bust. I’d consider trading Blake during the offseason if they lose in the first round.

The Thunder haven’t been so intimidating as of late. They’ve lost two games they should’ve won against the Clippers & Warriors. They’ve also allowed this situation to affect them mentally in my opinion. They look as if they need to retool their bench if they can get Kevin Durant to stay. I don’t really see where he would want to go. This would be his best opportunity to win a championship. He’s definitely overdue for another finals appearance. Russell Westbrook is playing like an athletic Chris Paul this season and I don’t see him bolting OKC either. It’s too much structure in place where they already are to actually leave and think they have a better chance. Unless they go east.

As far as I’m concerned, this is the Warriors championship to lose unless the Spurs can clone Kawhi Leonard.

Tim Duncan: Year of Appreciation

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Tim Duncan: Year of Appreciation

By: Opinionated MJ

 

Tis the season for old Kobe. How quickly we forget the possibility that this is also Tim Duncan’s last season. We won’t be giving him a farewell, we won’t get a chance to say a proper goodbye, we won’t get a chance to marvel at his bank in jumpers, his surprising defense, and his footwork that could only be matched by Kobe himself IF he would actually work the post. Enough of Kobe now. Let’s actually talk about the man who could walk away from the game with 6 NBA Championships if his team could win this year.

Tim Duncan is arguably the best Power Forward to ever play the game. Some would debate that Larry Bird is, but he didn’t have the same longevity that Tim Duncan has. We could say that it’s because of the organization, we could say that it’s from having selfless players around him who are all focused on the prize, willing to take pay cuts, willing to sacrifice individuality for a greater cause, not being a part of a big market, seemingly walking around without egos, and always being slept on every year until they ultimately reach the Conference Finals or the NBA Finals en route to an NBA Championship. It’s always the same story, honestly. Season begins and someone else is chosen as the #1 cream of the crop. Cleveland was last year’s favorite although the Spurs hoisted the title the year before over the Miami Heat, Golden State was the champion during the more recent season and they are now considered the favorite, and we could honestly say that Miami was the favorite two seasons ago after repeating as NBA Champions. When are the Spurs ever the favorites anyway? Seriously? Before the last 3 titles were handed out we had the Cavs, Heat, Lakers and Celtics, considered as favorites over the previous 5-10 years.

You look at this team now and it has the makings of a continued dynasty. They have a Kawhi Leonard who has emerged as a two-way star, they have a LaMarcus Aldridge who is basically the next to take over the reins inside once Tim Duncan is gone. They still have Tony Parker who should be able to keep going at a good rate over the next 2-3 years (potentially 5 solid years). Ginobli will be gone after this season, right? I think this will be his last go round. Tony Parker could honestly retire in 3 years if he wanted to and he’ll ultimately need to pass the torch to someone who’ll fill in as his replacement, like Kawhi is to Ginobli, like Aldridge is to Duncan. They need a replacement for Tony and they’ll be fine. They have depth and they also have the personnel behind the players to continue this dynasty. I think it’s legal to call it that right? They do have the most wins as a trio (Duncan, Parker, Ginobli) in NBA history, they do share 5 titles together, and they all are cut from the same selfless cloth. Now Kawhi, LaMarcus and an anonymous PG of the future will carry this team into the future. For now, though, they are a legitimate threat to the NBA landscape and they are a legit championship contender. We still haven’t seen the best of the Spurs yet. They haven’t fully meshed with Aldridge and West coming in, not yet. They fight hard and get it done when they need to like they did the other night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, closing out that game while Cleveland was pushing like a bull to steal a win.

We need to appreciate Tim Duncan and we need to start watching him the same way we watch Kobe… Like this is his last year. Don’t wait till it’s too late. I’m enjoying what I’m seeing from him. We’ll probably never see someone so fundamentally sound ever again. Champion on all levels.

Just Another First Day In The NBA

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By: Opinionated MJ

Just another first day in the NBA. New season, new year, opening night (currently the Warriors are receiving their rings, Congrats!). I just experienced what could just be a rusty day in the NBA, or maybe not. Surprisingly, two teams came out victorious that I’m sure everyone would’ve bet against on this opening night. All the big media outlets have been turning a cold shoulder to teams like my Detroit Pistons and to the always competing Chicago Bulls. Tonight seemed to be a statement of sorts if we look at things progressively. You know, picking up where they left off.

Right now as I write, Steph Curry is already showing out and very efficiently! Which can take me right into the new playing style of the Bulls. I think they may have found themselves a two-man game with Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler and have parts around them like Gasol, Mirotic, and others that definitely make for great depth. Noah has been moved to the bench in favor of starting Gasol at center, at least for now. Gasol didn’t disappoint either as he blocked LeBron’s game tying attempt at the rim. Looks can be deceiving and people get too caught up nowadays in who’s getting along and who isn’t. Didn’t Kobe & Shaq win 3 titles “not getting along”?

Today I seen LeBron hobbled. I don’t we’re ready for that. Last year they were trying to say that he has taken a step back, but I never agreed. I don’t want to see LeBron injured cause that’s even more fuel for his die-hard fans to spew about him being 2-4 in the Finals. We swept the San Antonio series under the rug, everyone else said that the Golden State win was a fluke although Cleveland led 2-1, took home court and didn’t take care of home. No way can 67 wins be cut up as a fluke. It CANNOT. Enough blah blah, LeBron didn’t look 100% tonight but was still good for 25 & 10 rebounds. So much for that right? I still don’t think he’s taken a step back but I did look at him allow Jimmy Butler to go right past him a couple of times when he could’ve easily denied him. I also hope he’s not about to channel his inner Steve Nash by laying on the ground the rest of his playing career during games. I also hope he doesn’t get hit with those back issues that destroyed the rest of Tracy McGrady’s career in his prime. I do enjoy watching LeBron and being a Kobe fan, I’ve learned to appreciate different forms of greatness while it’s here and performing at elite levels. *Knocks on wood*

I also watched my young Pistons play a very defensive game against the Hawks… until the fourth quarter. It’s like the tide turned but I still came away very impressed with our newly minted 1-0 record. I’m used to seeing 0-1. I also seen a lot of bright spots like Caldwell-Pope making shots, Morris making shots and moving around in a way that seemed impossible for Greg Monroe to move. I seen a few good things from Reggie Jackson but I also seen him hold the ball too long a few times. It made it seem as if he wanted to be responsible for every converted play like he couldn’t live without being responsible for the assists. He’ll have to get over that individual mentality and not fall into selfishness if he’s to be a true help for this team. I’m sure Jennings will distribute when he returns. Drummond was an absolute rebounding BEAST! As far as the Hawks go, I think that alot of people see them as garbage because of them being swept by the Cavs in the east finals. I guess having injuries to their top 2 defenders didn’t matter though right? Nor did the Wizards losing John Wall for a couple games against the Hawks, huh? It only mattered when LeBron played the Warriors. Sure.

Exciting night with a few different looks from teams who seemed to be looking forward to a slump early on but actually look promising. It could be rust but this season we could see more of this with the East getting slightly better by growth and expansion for teams like the Wizards, Bucks, Heat, Pistons, and Raptors. We’re due some surprises. We could also expect to see more of the same out west with all of the sluggers getting better with San Antonio adding LMA to its rotation after allowing Tiago Splitter to walk. I expect to see it come down to Golden State, OKC with a driven KD & Russell and San Antonio. Everyone else has to prove it.

Early June Prediction: Warriors vs Cavs II, with the Heat & Thunder looking to steal those spots.

An Unstoppable Play: Teamwork

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By: Opinionated MJ

Much is to be said about playing the game the right way. A few teams have actually won this way and of course all the championship teams would say they played the right way. So what defines your own definition of what “playing the right way” is? There are a few head coaches who preach this and some of them had success. Names like Greg Popovich, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Larry Brown, Rick Carlisle, and Doc Rivers, they all follow the mantra of playing the right way. Although there’s an unspoken element in all of this.

No one talks about having veterans in place and hungry youth all at the same time in order to push beyond boundaries and limits teams thought were placed on themselves. The Golden State Warriors had this element, the Miami Heat had this element, and the Spurs, Celtics and Lakers can also be thrown into this fray. For the love, my 2004 Pistons are also a “play right” team.

Now speaking of these veterans, we have the Boston big 3 with older veterans behind them and with young Rondo hungry to win. Young LeBron and Bosh leaned on Dwayne Wade’s experience and the veterans Shane Battier, Ray Allen, and Chris Anderson in place. During Kobe’s fourth run with his Lakers, he had Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Derek Fisher as those who were experienced, with a young Trevor Ariza. The mighty Spurs of course had their own big 3 at the helm full of experience in Duncan, Parker and Ginobli, with more experience in Diaw and with youth in Kawhi, Green, and Mills. The Champion Warriors have Curry, Thompson and Green with vets Iguodala, Bogut, Lee and Barbosa isn’t exactly too old but he’s battle tested. Lastly, my 2004 Pistons had hunger and youth in Prince and Hamilton, and had loads of experience with Rasheed and Chauncey. Plus you had to fear the fro! Big Ben Wallace!

On the surface, these teams all had two things in common: great coaching and teamwork. It gets no better than the Spurs and Warriors who put together remarkable runs built on ball movement, spacing, and defense. The Spurs single-handedly put together some of the best team basketball seen since the beginning if basketball itself. I’m too young to have seen but research had led me to understand that basketball wasn’t so much of an individual sport as it can be now, at times. It was about sharing the ball and creating an advantage by player movement and moving the ball constantly until you found the open man.

This should serve as a PSA for the current and future stars who think the buck stops with them. It just doesn’t. Although having a superstar never hurts.