NBA Playoffs: Ten Player Story-lines To Watch

NBA Playoffs: Ten Player Story-lines To Watch

            The 205-2016 season was one for the ages.  The Golden State Warriors won 73 games.  Kobe Bryant scored 60 points in his last game ever.  The San Antonio Spurs nearly went step for step with the Warriors in their pursuit of history.  And LeBron James quietly finished the year as good as ever. With the playoffs upon us, there are storylines abound.  Who will deliver home the NBA championship?  Who may see their team broken apart if they fail to meet that goal?  Who is a must watch on a night in, night out basis? Here are the 10 – well, 14 – players to watch Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan             In some respects, the idea of this iteration of the Toronto Raptors having a history of playoff failures is overblown.  In 2014, the Raptors lost to the Brooklyn Nets, but most predicted that result.  So, in actuality, the “history” of Raptors playoff struggles behind their Kyle Lowry-DeMar DeRozan core is based on the loss of one playoff series – last year’s first round to Washington.  That was an awful loss – but only one loss. Still, what the metrics say is often not what resides in our own psyche, and the Raptors surely will have recent playoff outcomes on their mind as they take on the Indiana Pacers. The Raptors are an extremely good team and all the ingredients to make playoff noise are in place.  Lowry and DeRozan form a great backcourt.  Jonas Valanciunas is a good big.  Terrence Ross and Patrick Patterson fit extremely well.  Cory Joseph has been a great spark off the...
Chalky McChalkchalk- An NBA Playoff Preview

Chalky McChalkchalk- An NBA Playoff Preview

I’m a big fantasy football guy. Two of the leagues I participate in, I’ve been involved with for over 20 years. One league, in particular, I do with my best friends from college. I refer to it as my A league. 8 of the 12 guys have been in from the beginning. One guy who’s been there from the beginning drafts the exact same way each year. He always takes the safe pick. He’s comfortably predictable. He’s the easiest guy on the planet to draft in the spot next to him because you always know where he’s going. He’s taking the chalk. We’ve dubbed him affectionately, Chalky McChalkchalk. As I preview the 2016 NBA playoffs, I feel a little like Chalky McChalkchalk. I see a clear delineation in ability to win in the playoffs from the top four teams in each conference to the bottom four teams in each conference. The format of the 7 game series will normally favor the higher seed for obvious reasons but there’s a reason they play the games. Eastern Conference (1) Cleveland vs (8) Detroit Detroit is going to be a pain in the Cavs rump. Even though the Cavs have generally maintained a slower pace in spite of head coach Tyronn Lue’s even though shooting a high volume of threes. There are two problems with that strategy vs Detroit. The first is that Detroit is quite comfortable playing slow. The second, and maybe most significant is that Detroit defended the three pointer better than any other team in the NBA this past season. The Cavs will be tested early on their willingness...
NBA Playoff First Round Preview And Predictions

NBA Playoff First Round Preview And Predictions

  The NBA playoffs are finally here.  What an ending to the regular season.  Kobe’s last game where he dropped 60 points on a Jazz team was eliminated from the playoffs minutes before tip-off.  The Warriors completed their historic season, earning themselves the record for most wins in a regular season with 73.  The Celtics made a great comeback, being down 26 and held the Heat to 5 points in the third quarter, a season low for the NBA but it didn’t matter as the Hawks lost.  The playoff seeds are finalized and now it’s time to take a look at the match ups and provide my predictions. (1) Golden State Warriors vs (8) Houston Rockets Regular Season Series: Warriors 3-0 Let’s start this playoff preview with the greatest regular season team in NBA history.  This sounds like a knock on them but let’s be real, if the Warriors don’t win their second title in two years it will be a failure.  They broke the previous record of 72 wins in a season and play a dismal Rockets team who limped into the playoffs (thanks Sacramento for folding a week ago!) with an interim head coach and an unmotivated roster.  The Rockets lost to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals last year in 5 games, a season in which they won 56 games.  This year they played .500 basketball and I expect them to get swept.  I don’t need to get too analytical here but Warriors in Four. (1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs (8) Detroit Pistons Regular Season Series: Pistons 3-1 The follwing series is the first tough one on...
The Awards Column (with the Anti-Awards)

The Awards Column (with the Anti-Awards)

It’s that time of year again. It’s been an epic NBA season with some of the all-time best and the all time worst. Without further adieu, here are the winners (and losers).. MVP- Stephen Curry The stats are gaudy. His game is aesthetically pleasing as any you’ll ever see. He looks like a little kid and plays the game with a commensurate amount of joy. What separates him from the rest is his competitive spirit. He looks like Doogie Howser but shoots other teams down like he’s Dirty Harry. A vote for anyone but Curry is a wasted vote. Kawhi Leonard and Lebron James will engage in a dogfight for 2nd. Defensive Player of the Year- Kawhi Leonard He’s the best perimeter defender in the game. He’s anchored the most efficient defense in the league by a significant margin. The fact that he’s improved enough on the offensive side of the ball to be a guy who could be the runner up in the MVP voting should never overshadow the fact that this dude is a defensive stud. Draymond Green and Avery Bradley will both get votes and deservedly so, but the way Leonard has been able to raise the level of play of those around him is a special quality for a perimeter player on the defensive end. 6th Man of the Year- Andre Igoudala His conventional stats may not match guys like Will Barton and Jeremy Lin, but his role on the best 5 man unit in the NBA is crucial. The Warriors can get away with being small inside with two lockdown defenders on the floor...