Sunday, June 30, 2013


I'm off to Ghana for 7 weeks with limited internet access. I'll be generally out of the loop of the sports world until I return in August. Unfortunately this cuts into my 32 in 32 NFL preview series that I did last year and planned on continuing. I'll still do a general preview of the season and go more in depth with the New York teams.

Because I will have some time on the internet, I'll try to have a few longer, more topic-based posts, not so much about the current news cycle.

Oh and another thing I forgot to mention, for my last two weeks in Ghana I will actually be coaching basketball to younger children. So if there is a Ghanaian Michael Jordan in the near future, credit me.

Anyway, goodbye for now.

NBA Draft Recap

Last night was one of the weirdest NBA Drafts in recent memory, with a ton of important and seemingly random trades. And as much as all the experts talk about how bad the draft was this year, I found quite a few players that I really like as productive NBA players. But then again, I don't really college sports and I don't pretend that I do. I did this last year, and once again I am not going to run through every pick or grade each team. I'll just talk about whatever stood out for me.

And to kick it off, let's talk about the first pick in the draft, Anthony Bennett. I'm with you Bill Simmons. He later went on to say that the Cavs should have taken Victor Oladipo over Bennett if they were going that route. The reason isn't exactly because Oladipo is necessarily a better player, it's because of the way the Cavaliers are currently constructed. Bennett is known as a lazy defensive player, while Oladipo is easily one of the best wing defenders in the draft. Now in Cleveland, they have Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and Anthony Bennett to play important minutes for them, three guys who don't play defense. That's a very worrisome sign. It's also weird in terms of roster construction unless they plan on moving Bennett to small forward. While he does have the athleticism, that's a lot to ask of a guy who is 18 pounds overweight. Bennett has a ton of upside, but on a team of young guys who don't play much defense, I'd much rather have Oladipo, who at the very worst is a sure thing on defense and could be lethal attacking the rim.

So as you can tell, I think the Magic got a steal at number two.

I hate what the Bobcats did, taking Cody Zeller over not only Noel, but Alex Len.

*Doing some research*



*Complete Flip-Flop*

So Zeller is an offensive threat, at from scouting reports he's not awful at defense. Alex Len is just a seven footer. That's about it. The problem with Noel is that some people see his as simply a shot blocker, which, if it's true is not what a team should look for that high in the draft, especially when they already have a shot blocker in Bismack Biyombo. A talented offensive center is hard to come by in the NBA, so bravo to the Bobcats.

That also illustrates how little I care about college sports until around the draft for each league.

That flows perfectly into my next little rant, about the Philadelpia 76ers. Ahh, this was the first of many trades last night--15 in total, not including the "unofficial" Nets/Celtics deal, I'll get to that in another post--and boy was it horrible. The Sixers gave up a 23 year old All-Star, Jrue Holiday, for Noel and a first-round pick. Now I'll admit that the draft pick makes this deal a whole lot better, but they decided to build around a guy who has been called a glorified shot blocker. Later in the first round Philly took Michael Carter-Williams to replace Holiday, which makes the deal a little bit easier to swallow, but not much. I don't know what to expect from him, while Holiday is an established player whose ceiling is actually higher than that of Carter-Williams. Noel is also an unknown commodity. The draft pick that the Hornets gave up is top three-protected, so this deal could be horribly wrong for Philadelphia if a ping pong ball bounces the wrong way next May. Not to mention that Philly has recently had no success when they acquire a 7 foot center who is already injured. Yeah, that didn't turn out too well. The biggest issue I have here is that due to this trade, we lost the opportunity to get Nerlens in N'awlins.

Let's speak about the other side of the trade now. I absolutely love this for the Pelicans. There's still a lot for them to figure out as a team, but I like the core that they now have.

Watch out for the Hornets. They now have a lineup of:
PG Austin Rivers/Eric Gordon (it depends which will play the point and the shooting guard position, but this is definitely their backcourt because Jarrett Jack is not better than either).
SG Rivers/Gordon
SF Al-Farouq Aminu (who isn't terrible)
PF Anthony Davis (major defensive presence, "wingspan wingspan wingspan"- Jay Bilas)
C Chris Kaman (they could re-sign him, but if not, they'll throw in Gustavo Ayon)

Obviously it's too early to expect much from them right now, but once they upgrade at the center position, they will be legitimate contenders. They have two young studs who will carry the franchise for years to come. Davis is expected to be a Kevin Garnett/Tim Duncan-like player, and Rivers can really create his own shot and get to the basket with ease. If they solidify the pieces around these two cornerstones, I see bright things in their future.

It turns out that Rivers can't play basketball, and they are in real need of a center. Gordon needs to step it up and stay on the floor. Even so, I like the Holiday/Davis core.

Yikes, it looks like I've got to go. I'll update this later but for now I'm ending it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

NBA Finals Chronicles, Friday June 21

While it failed to live up to the standard set by Game 6, Game 7 was a very good game, and was throughout the whole game. It was extremely competitive, which is all that fans ask for from Game 7s. I'm sad that the series is over, but I guess I have to deal with it. Congratulations to the Miami Heat and especially to LeBron James who even further silenced his critics. I think that's enough, everyone should stop with the wildly unfair hatred towards him and respect the fact that he is the best player of this generation.

The Heat won because of the defensive strategy employed by Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. They decided to let LeBron James and Dwyane Wade shoot, knowing that it was the best way of stopping them. Pop realized that if they were both shooting well from outside, they couldn't be guarded and he probably realized that it spelled doom for his team. He had to stick with that strategy, and I have to agree on that one.

I mentioned it in my preview, and it came true. James and Wade came out of the gate shooting well. And the rest is history.

I feel horrible for Tim Duncan after he missed two chances at the rim to tie the game at the end with Shane Battier guarding him. I don't think this is the end of his career, but that very may well be his last appearance in the Finals, and that sucks. It's hard to swallow.

My biggest question from this game is why Manu Ginobili was on the floor at the end of the game instead of Tony Parker. Ginobili was much better when it came to scoring, but he also made a lot of key mistakes; none bigger than throwing the ball away in what turned out to be San Antonio's last chance. Unlike Duncan, I except him to retire this summer. He has barely been the same player he used to be.

Now if Ginobili retires, who is going to take over for him in San Antonio? The answer: Kawhi Leonard. In fact, Leonard has already taken the spotlight from Ginobili. Leonard is a great young player and it's been wonderful to see how in just two years in the league he has improved his offense so much. I realize how good Tony Parker is, but Leonard may end up being the best player on his team.

Anyway, it's been a fun couple of weeks. But I'm sure this guy had a lot more fun that I did.

And remember, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

NBA Finals Chronicles, Thursday June 20

Game 7 has finally arrived. Ever since Tuesday night, I have been anxiously awaiting. I'm sticking with my prediction from the beginning of the series, and saying that the Heat will win the game tonight and win the series. 

First of all, home teams have historically had a huge advantage in Game 7s. The home team has won each of the past five Game 7s in the Finals, with the last road team to win was the 1978 Washington Bullets. And look how that turned out, now they're the Wizards and completely horrible. Though John Wall is pretty good...

Anyway, over the past 30 years, home teams are 17-2 in Game 7s in the Conference Finals and the Finals. I'm not saying that history has any real bearing on how tonight's game is going to work out, but the home team has an immediate edge. 

I also believe that the fourth quarter of Game 6 was a turning point for LeBron James. The defense didn't play him any differently, and yet he was able to get to the rim at will. He took over, and he'll probably have that same mindset tonight. 

Danny Green will be the key for San Antonio. If he has another off night, the Heat can focus on guarding the paint and Tim Duncan will not have the same success he did on Tuesday night. Obviously, he'll be good, he's the best player ever at his position, but he won't get 30 points and 17 rebounds. Now if Green can shoot like he did in the first five games, it can be a major issue for Miami. They'll have to adjust their lineup and use more defensive players, so Shoeless Mike Miller will see less playing time.

Another huge note for the Spurs. Manu Ginobili needs to play better. He doesn't need to be nearly as good as he was in Game 5, but he can't be a negative. He was absolutely awful in Game 6 with his 8 turnovers hurting his team greatly. I don't expect to see him starting tonight after that massacre. I personally think that Game 5 was his last stand, and that he doesn't have much left in the tank.

Dwyane Wade also played pretty well in the fourth quarter, so I think that he'll be a key in deciding the game for the Heat. If he can get going early and attract extra defensive attention, they will be nearly unstoppable. 

That's another key point for Miami, a quick start. Being down 10 early is not going to be good for them. That probably means that their defense isn't playing well enough as a unit and that Wade and James probably aren't knocking down jumpers. If either shows even the slightest bit of confidence shooting the ball early, the defense will play them closer and open up the lanes for more drives. 

It's going to be interesting. 

Enjoy Game 7

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

NBA Finals Chronicles, Wednesday June 19

I wrote my reactions to last night's great Game 6 in my live blog. The section about the basketball game is towards the bottom. The only thing I have to add, is that it was definitively the best Finals game I've ever watched. I'm going to even make the leap and say it was the best game I've ever watched.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Harvey, Wheeler, NBA Finals Live Blog

This going to be my second live blog. I did my first during Game 5 of last year's NBA Finals, so I decided to do one today now that we have a possible elimination game coming up, as the Spurs have a chance to close out the series tonight. Now, it just so happened that today is also the day that the Mets have a doubleheader, and they're sending Matt Harvey out to the mound for Game 1 and another highly touted prospect, Zack Wheeler out for Game 2. I watched Harvey's debut intently last year, and I've been fascinated by him ever since. Hopefully Wheeler will live up the expectations as well.

So the plan is to cover the first game at 1 PM, through the end. Then I'll take a break until the 7 PM game starts. In the middle, I may or may not randomly post whatever I want, just because I can. Anyway, when the basketball game starts at 9 PM, I'll be more heavily focused on that, as long as Wheeler is no longer pitching. I'll loosely flip channels, but after what the Mets put me through last night, I'm choosing the NBA Finals over them.

So enjoy, comment, tweet me, whatever you want. Give me any sort of feedback on this, it would be greatly appreciated. Refresh the page for updates. 

NBA Finals Chronicles, Tuesday June 18

I'm taking the Heat tonight. This isn't based on performance, this is based on gut. It's very unfortunate, but they have yet to show me that they are better than the San Antonio Spurs consistently in any facet of the game other than tattoos.

So why am I picking them tonight? It's because they are at home, and they know that if they lose, not only will they have lost an opportunity at a championship, their legacies will have been tarnished. I'm speaking mostly about the Big Three here. If they come out of this 1-2 in NBA Finals, it's not a bad record, but expectations were so high that it would be considered highly disappointing.

I've been waiting for LeBron James to show up and leave his mark on this series. He has been sub par to this point, but a lot of the credit for that goes to Gregg Popovich and the Spurs defense. Even so, I think tonight is the night that he appears and we all watch in awe of the greatest player of this generation. Considering how inconsistent his team has been, I think that's the Heat's only chance of winning.

It needs to happen. It had better happen. That's why I'm taking Miami to take it tonight and send us to Game 7.

Monday, June 17, 2013

NBA Finals Chronicles, Monday June 17

Okay, when I made my prediction for last night, I used the information that the first four games had provided me. Tony Parker is great, and the only real initiator on the Spurs. So, right on cue, 2007 Manu Ginobili was surprisingly thrown into the starting lineup and dominated. I knew that he was an amazing facilitator, but he had been completely nonexistent throughout the series. Ginobili came out on fire, and took a ton of pressure off Tony Parker at the beginning of the game while he took over the point for a while.

Tony Parker's hamstring looked fine last night, and that was probably helped by the fact that Ginobili was able to handle the ball a lot for him. Parker quietly sneaked his way into 26 points. The combination of the two will be hard for the Heat to defend.

And then, there was Danny Green. He's been a lethal shooter for a while now, thanks to Gregg Popovich, but this is completely ridiculous. This is statistically the greatest shooting performance in the history of the Finals, and probably the best of any series. And we're only 5 games in. I'm legitimately excited to see what he has in store for the rest of the Finals. If the Spurs win, he's getting the MVP. Even if the Heat win, I wouldn't be opposed to giving Green the MVP of the series.

The biggest problem last night was the Heat defense. During Game 4, it seemed like they finally figured out what to do to slow down the Spurs's perimeter game, but it was back yesterday. They were getting pounded in transition, which was supposed to be the biggest strength for the Heat, their ability to run the floor and scramble in transition. The Spurs are dominating that part of the game right now, which is a horrible sign for Miami.

I barely even know what to think anymore, this series has been severely inconsistent on both sides.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

NBA Finals Chronicles, Sunday June 16

Tonight's Game 5 will swing this series toward the eventual winner. I believe that whoever comes out on top tonight will go on to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy later this week. In my post from yesterday,  I suggested that the health of Tony Parker would determine what chance the Spurs have on winning this series. That's something I can't count on, especially after his injured hamstring caused him so much trouble in the second half of Game 4.

If he's not playing at a superstar level, the Spurs can only win if Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and Gary Neal are hitting threes early and often. The problem is that they rely heavily on Parker to create shots for them, so it ill be nearly impossible against the Heat and their newfound defensive intensity.

With that, I'm predicting the Miami Heat to take Game 5 on the road tonight and go back to Miami up 3-2 in the series, with a chance to close it out on Tuesday night.

If Miami wins tonight, they will definitely close it out in 6 or 7; the Spurs have no shot at beating them two in a row with a diminished Parker. Now if San Antonio steals it tonight, the Heat still have a very good chance at winning it all. It's unfortunate that Tony Parker's hamstring has affected and will affect so much in the series, but it is what it is.

Enjoy Game 5!

And hey, if it's a blowout, maybe Tracy McGrady will finally score at least 1 point in his NBA Finals career.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

NBA Finals Chronicles, Saturday June 15

Now that the series is tied 2-2, it's time for me to revisit my prediction for the outcome of the series. While it is possible for the Spurs to come out on top in this series, I'm sticking with my initial pick of Heat in 7. The problem with the Spurs is Tony Parker.

Parker's hamstring was obviously bothering him in the second half of Game 4, which is why he was held scoreless after 15 points in the first half. The Spurs's chances of winning hinges on the health of Parker. Is he is fine and can play near his star level, they can certainly win. He needs to be able to essentially cancel out LeBron James. After those two are taken out of the equation, I think that the Spurs actually have the better overall team.

Now again, this is already assuming that LeBron will get his usual near triple double with 30+ points and that he's doing a good job of setting up his teammates. For San Antonio to win, Parker needs to get near a triple double as well. He's certainly capable of it under normal circumstances, but I don't think that it's possible while he's dealing with his injury.

For that reason, I think the Heat will win in 7 games and quite possibly in 6.

Friday, June 14, 2013

NBA Finals Chronicles, Friday June 14

Dwyane Wade!!!

He finally showed up!

Last night, we got a glimpse of the old Dwyane Wade, and I remembered how much fun it always was to watch him. He was attacking the basket at will, and his jumpers were falling. He looked like the old superstar we all knew and loved. He was drawing fouls and making wicked layups all night long.

The rest of the Big 3 also did their thing. LeBron looked like LeBron after that inexcusable Game 3 performance. Chris Bosh played a great game overall, on both sides of the ball. Last night, he quieted all the people that consider him to be a bad defender. He was a force in the middle. 

This was the type of game that the Miami Heat expected when they assembled this trio back in 2010. 

As for the Spurs, Tony Parker didn't look right in the second half. He was dominant in the first half, but it may have been his hamstring hampering him, but whatever it is, he struggled in the second half. Other than that, there isn't much to say, because the Heat are unstoppable when their Big Three is playing well together. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

NBA Finals Chronicles, Thursday June 13

I am picking the Miami Heat to even up the series in tonight's Game 4, and there are many factors that contribute to my decision. 

First of all, the health of Tony Parker will probably keep him from playing his normal minutes at least tonight, and probably for the rest of the series. San Antonio does have some depth at the point guard position in Cory Joseph and Gary Neal, but Parker is one of the best players in basketball, and extremely hard to replace. Neither or those backups have the ability to run the pick and roll like Parker. 

LeBron needs to step up, and I think he will. The Spurs are playing him perfectly, and he knows this. Either he will take what the defense gives him, and he has come into tonight's game ready to shoot jumpers, or he is going to use his strength to get to the hoop regardless. He will start off hot and we may see a repeat of stone faced LeBron from Game 6 in Boston last year. He knows what he has to do. Now it's time to go do it.

The Heat will not allow the Spurs to get open jump shots on the perimeter after the catastrophe that was Game 3. There may be a few lapses, but expect a new defensive strategy by Miami.

Also, expect to see a lot of Mike Miller tonight. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

NBA Finals Chronicles, Wednesday June 12

Last night's Game 3 was sufficiently ridiculous. The Spurs set a Finals record with 16 three pointers, though I can't say I was surprised. Gary Neal has the potential to catch fire at any time for however long. I always knew that he was a lethal shooter, and Danny Green has improved his shot recently.

The problem was the Heat defense. They were leaving people wide open because they were more concerned about protecting the paint. Let's just say that their strategy didn't exactly work out to their advantage.

Speaking of defensive strategy, the Spurs are doing an amazing job neutralizing LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. They're packing in the paint and forcing both to take jump shots, something that neither really excels at. Both are decent shooters, but are more comfortable driving to the lane. In LeBron's case, he needs to decide that despite the defense not giving him the opportunity, he'll get inside anyway.

Also, Tony Parker got hurt, which could be a major issue. Stay tuned for more news on that.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

NBA Finals Chronicles, Tuesday June 11

It's time for Game 3, as the series has now shifted to San Antonio for the next three games with this ridiculous 2-3-2 format. This may also mean that the Spurs will be wearing their new gray alternate jerseys that they've been using at home throughout the playoffs. Let's just say, I hate those uniforms a lot. The white home jerseys look so much better.

Anyway, enough with the uniform talk, I think that the Spurs will win tonight's game. I do not see them getting back to back stinkers out of Duncan and Parker. I see them being better at protecting the ball and in turn cutting down the turnovers. I also see them getting a bigger contribution from Kawhi Leonard while Danny Green does his thing, shooting corner threes. I also expect Manu Ginobili to at least be present, which he hasn't been during the first two games of the series.

This isn't an indictment on the Heat, but Game 3 was close until they went on an unprecedented run that will not happen again. Their role players aren't consistent enough for me to expect major contributions from them in back to back games. I do see LeBron picking up the scoring load in tonight's game, but to no avail. I have absolutely no idea what Dwyane Wade is going to do, but if he plays well then the Heat will win. If not, the Spurs will take their first home game of the series. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

NBA Finals Chronicles, Monday June 10

Last night's game was much like Game 1. Close and competitive. No one had a clear advantage, and no one knew who would come out on top. Well, it was that way until 3:11 left in the third quarter. It was at that point that San Antonio's 62-61 lead swiftly slipped away and became a 94-67 deficit with 7:36 left in the fourth.

Throughout that 33-5 run by the Heat, LeBron had 11 points himself, but got a lot of help from the role players, who showed up big time. Mario Chalmers was knocking down shots, leading the team with 19 points. Ray Allen and Mike Miller (who apparently only plays during the Finals) gave the team a boost with their three point shooting. Overall, it was a great team effort on both ends to pull away to quickly.

As for the Spurs, their big three did not play well. Tony Parker wasn't great shooting, and wasn't doing a great job creating for his teammates. Tim Duncan was absolutely horrible on offense, shooting 3 for 13. He did pull down 11 rebounds, so he at least has that to take away from this game.

And then there was Manu Ginobili, who hasn't shown up for quite a while. He hasn't been there to make big shots and take over the scoring load whenever his team needs him to, as he has been in the past. I don't expect this to be the case for the entire series, but it's worrisome. Both he and Dwyane Wade need to pick up the consistency.

On another note, you have absolutely got to love Tracy McGrady randomly appearing in a Finals game in 2013. It's sad that he's a scrub nowadays, but it's still fun to see him out there. You go T-Mac!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

NBA Finals Chronicles, Sunday June 9

It's time for Game 2, and after the events of the first game in this series, I'm not sure what to expect tonight. I think that overall, the Spurs are actually the better team out of the two, but I'm still confident that the Heat will win the series. In order for that to happen, Miami will have to win tonight. The chances of them coming back from 0-2 down are small against a great team like San Antonio.

We will see dominant LeBron. It won't necessarily be from the beginning of the game, but he'll appear once he realizes that his team needs him to take over. There will be a point where Chris Bosh will go back to his bad shooting from the Eastern Conference Finals. Udonis Haslem will not hit his jumpers. Dwyane Wade will stupidly shoot bad perimeter shots. Even if it's just for a quarter, LeBron James is going to take over, and it will be great.

Tim Duncan will once again be great. He looks energized and ready to go. It'll be interesting to see how many minutes he can play at a high level.

The Heat defense will focus a bit more attention on Tony Parker, but to no avail. Either way, he's going to still score at will, or he will get a few more assists by making the smart pass as he always does.

I predict that Miami wins in a close one.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

NBA Finals Chronicles, Saturday June 8

I'm finally over the shock of the ridiculous end to Game 1, so I'll go into a bit more detail about that game here. I'll start by saying that Chris Bosh is open for a reason. Under no circumstances should he be shooting threes late in the fourth quarter.

 That brings me to another point. Yes LeBron noticed an open teammate ready to bomb a three, and yes usually it is the smart basketball play. He was a bit too passive in Game 1. He wasn't driving to the hoop enough, only managing to shoot 4 free throws in the whole game. That lack of aggression was one of the biggest reasons why they lost. He's a great passer, but LeBron is also the best player on his team and unstoppable at the rim. He needs to hog the ball more.

Tony Parker was great, without that crazy shot at the end of the game. The real surprise, however, was Tim Duncan. There's something to be said for how well Gregg Popovich has managed Duncan's minutes throughout the year because I certainly didn't expect Timmy to play 37 minutes in Game 1. Not only that, he was completely dominant in those minutes.

I'm not completely surprised that the Spurs won, because I did expect them to take one in Miami. It was great basketball, I'm excited for the rest of the series.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

NBA Finals Chronicles, Thursday June 6

It is here. It is finally here. My favorite championship series in all of sports. This year, the Finals features two great teams in the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat ready to duke it out. I personally predicted the Grizzlies to beat the Spurs in the last round, but San Antonio surprised me with just how great they are at all facets of the game. Miami got through a tough series with the Pacers on the back of LeBron James, despite the lack of contributions from Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade throughout most of it. They're both here now, and I'm surely ready for what should be an epic matchup. Here is my [position-by-position breakdowns and predictions for the series.