Posts Tagged With: Chicago Bulls

NBA on Christmas Day

Football is to Thanksgiving as basketball is to Christmas: they just work together. Throughout the day, five games will be played, starting at noon ET on ESPN with the New York Knicks hosting the Washington Wizards in Madison Square Garden. The NBA-filled day ends at 10:30 ET on TNT in Los Angeles as the Clippers take on their rivals, the Golden State Warriors, which will hopefully be a good game. Between spending time with family, I plan to watch as many games as possible. Here are my picks for each game:

  • Wizards at Knicks: Wizards. I think this one is a give-me game for the Wizards. The Washington team is doing well, with John Wall averaging 17.8 points, 10.4 assists and 4.6 rebounds. Their team gels well together and are currently 19-8, making them third in the Eastern Conference. The 5-25 Knicks, however continue to struggle and even though Carmelo Anthony is putting up big numbers, 23.7 points per game, it’s not enough. Wizards win 100-89.
  • Thunder at Spurs: Thunder. Even with Kevin Durant out, I give Oklahoma City the advantage. Kawhi Leonard is still out for the Spurs and Tony Parker may be out as well. Russell Westbrook seems to be running on all cylinders. If he plays the point, Cory Joseph is going to have a rough time trying to contain him. It will, of course, be a more competitive game than the one before, but I give the Thunder the edge 99-95.
  • Cavaliers at Heat: Cavaliers. Well, this will certainly be an interesting (and tense) game. It will be LeBron James’ first time back in South Beach since he decided to leave earlier this year. No doubt, he will be showered with boos, but still play well. The Cavs are still getting used to playing with one another, but at 17-10, I think they can arrange to do some good things on the offensive end to get the victory. With Chris Bosh out indefinitely, the Heat’s front court will take a hit. Kevin Love is currently averaging a double-double, making him a threat when it comes to shooting and crashing the boards. Kyrie Irving’s quickness will be too much for Mario Chalmers, allowing him to get the ball where it needs to be in a timely manner. Even with the home court advantage, Miami falls to Cleveland 94-110.
  • Lakers at Bulls: Chi-town. Derrick Rose is back. *drops mic* …*picks mic back up* But seriously, even if Kobe Bryant plays, it won’t be enough for the Lakers to get the win in Chicago. The Bulls have a good thing going and I don’t see the LA team messing that up. If Nick Young gets hot, he can put up some major points, but on the other side, there’s Rose and Jimmy Butler at the other end ready to fire at will with former Laker Pau Gasol getting it done in the paint. Being that Gasol is playing his former team and Carlos Boozer his former team, it will be interesting to see how each does. Chicago has the advantage 103-97.
  • Warriors at Clippers: Clippers. This is heart over head decision. The 19-10 Clippers have to keep it moving and get the win. Golden State is coming off a 115-105 loss to the Kobe-less Lakers, which could work in either team’s favor. The Warriors could use it as motivation to get the next win. The Clippers can be motivated by it because if a struggling Lakers team can win without Bryant, they should be able to get the job done with the squad they have. Being at home on Christmas Day, I trust that everyone will step up and put on a great show. Clippers take care of business and win 118-113.

Merry Christmas!

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Are Constant MJ Comparisons Fair?

I think it’s safe to say Michael Jordan is the G.O.A.T. Nobody’s going to debate that. He revolutionized the game of basketball and has six rings to prove it. If you ask any player today about their basketball idol or who they model their game after, they’re most likely going to say Michael Jordan.

11 years ago, another man entered the NBA as the first overall pick and has also changed the game: LeBron James. He’s a dominant player and is considered the best player of this era of basketball. Though he only has two rings (and going for his third), he’s a four-time MVP and an inspiration for the next generation of basketball players. James is constantly being compared to MJ and now their respective teams are being put head-to-head.

In an interview with WSCR-AM in Chicago Tuesday, former Chicago Bulls power forward Horace Grant said James and the Miami Heat couldn’t hold a candle to his once dominant Bulls.

“The Heat wouldn’t have had a chance,” he said. “We would have locked them up. We would have locked them up. Especially with the rules today, Michael would have had a field day.”

He’s not the only one, however. People are constantly asking which team would beat which and if James could beat Jordan in a game of one-on-one (both in their prime, of course). But, is that a really fair question to ask?

First, it doesn’t seem fair to try and compare the two because they played in two different eras of basketball. There are things players did in the NBA during MJ’s time they can’t do now and vice versa. For example, the definition of a foul was way different 20, 30 years ago than it is now. The style of play was also more physical and aggressive (see the 30 for 30 on the Bad Boy Pistons to understand just what I mean).

Second, the players in MJ’s time were MEN. I don’t mean that disrespectfully, but playing against 18- and 19-year-olds is a lot different than playing against 22- and 23-year-olds who have three to four years of collegiate experience. So many college basketball players nowadays take advantage of being able to go pro early and leave school with only a year or two behind them. Most guys back in the day didn’t do that. They did their four years and then pursued their NBA dreams (with a few exceptions who did three years). Those four years are crucial and the guys who leave early miss out on that. As a result, the way they play basketball is different. One can argue this gives LeBron an unfair advantage over MJ, in terms of stats, because the competition isn’t as great. And, that’s a fair assumption.

Third, Bron and MJ play two different positions: Bron’s a small forward, while MJ was a shooting guard. Both can shoot, defend and have good ball control, but their style of play is different. LeBron has an easier time attacking the rim because he’s bigger. Jordan has an easier time getting past defenders because he’s smaller and quicker. The way they execute, although both excel at it, is different because of their sizes and position.

To sum things up, I think it’s both men are the greatests of their time. But to compare the two and/or their teams is inaccurate. You can only go on their play in the context of the eras of basketball, which are different, but still good in their own right. Because Michael Jordan came first, he’s considered the GOAT and will always be the standard. But I think people should hold off on the comparisons. There are too many factors to consider when it comes to the two basketball giants.

 

 

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Christmas Match-up Predictions

       Christmas is one of my favorite holidays, but not for the reasons that some may think. Other than spending time with family and 24 hours of “A Christmas Story,” there are back-to-back basketball games on all day, starting at 9 a.m. PT with the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets. Here are my picks for each game:

  • Bulls vs. Nets – Bulls. The Nets are having a hard time this season with all of the new adjustments and are 5-8 at home. They are also having a hard time putting the pieces together to win and have yet to get over .500. With the absence of Derrick Rose, the Bulls have also struggled in the season. However, they have key players like Joakim Noah who have stepped up to help. Noah averages 10.6 points and leads the team with 9.9 rebounds per game. Another reason why I think the Bulls will win is because they are more familiar and have better chemistry with each other than the Nets do, especially with all of the drama surrounding the team, most recently including Kevin Garnett’s recent remarks.
  • Thunder vs. Knicks – Thunder. I think this one is self-explanatory, but I’ll explain anyway. The Thunder are one of the best teams in the league right now, while the Knicks are one of the worst. It also doesn’t help that Carmelo Anthony is a game-time decision after rolling his left ankle against the Orlando Magic Monday night. With both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook healthy and ready to play, I don’t think a Knicks blowout  is anything less than realistic.
  • Heat vs. Lakers – Heat. The Heat are on a five-game winning streak and coming off of an overtime win against the Atlanta Hawks. LeBron James is only improving and leads the team in points, rebounds and assists per game. The team has all the weapons it needs to beat a restructuring Lakers team. Not only are they still rebuilding, the Lakers are an inconsistent team. Some nights Nick Young can shoot the lights out in the Staples Center, while other times, it looks like the lights are out while he’s shooting. It’s also important to mention that Kobe Bryant will be out, so they have no real dominant force on the court. They may put up a good fight being that they’ll be at home, but I don’t see the Lakers beating the fiery Miami Heat.
  • Rockets vs. Spurs – Spurs. Both teams are doing well, as Dwight Howard seems to be adjusting better to Houston than he did to LA. It should be a good game, but I think the Spurs will be able to get the win over the Rockets. As the best team in Texas, the San Antonio Spurs have the experience and skill to defeat the young team. They also have the home court advantage, only losing three at home so far this season.
  • Clippers vs. Warriors – Clippers. This will probably be the most competitive game. Although Steph Curry has been a dynamic shooter for the Bay Area team, the Clippers have several clutch shooters and are improving defensively. The Clippers are also first in the Pacific Division, while Golden State is third. The two teams are tied for most points allowed with 99.1, but the Clippers average more points per game. After the Clippers’ outstanding comeback overtime win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, there’s no telling how far this team can go (NBA Finals maybe?).

Merry Christmas, everyone, and let the games begin!

Categories: basketball, Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, National Basketball Association, NBA, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Current State of the NBA

After a long hiatus from writing (school obligations), I figured it was time for me to get back on my sports writing horse. I wasn’t sure what to write about at first, as both NCAA and professional basketball have been going on for about two months now. Then, noticed a topic that has been talked about frequently in the last few weeks and decided to look into it for myself.

That topic? The latest NBA standings. In case you haven’t seen it, click here.

It looks fine if you focus on the Western Conference. However, when you take a look at the Eastern Conference, there’s a clear dividing line between the better Eastern teams and the… not-so-great. On the East, only two teams are above .500 and one team is right at it. All other teams have a record of .440 or below.

For a while, I thought about why the standings have turned out this way. The answer lies in looking at the teams in the conferences:

Eastern Conference – The only teams above .500 are the Indiana Pacers (.870) and the Miami Heat (.739). This comes as no surprise, considering these two teams faced off in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. The Pacers-Heat series was arguably the most physical and challenging series of the playoffs.

After the Heat, the Atlanta Hawks are right at .500, followed by the Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons who are both currently 11-14. When looking at these teams, an important thing to remember is that many are in the rebuilding stages. There are new coaches and players that the returning players must get adjusted to.  During the off-season, many trades took place that were for rebuilding purposes. This includes trades to the Celtics, Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls. True, trades do happen, but there wasn’t as much stability after the trades occurred.

The teams are also teams that have stand-out players, instead of being stand-out teams. The Cleveland Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving, the New York Knicks have Carmello Anthony (and arguably JR Smith) and the Chicago Bulls have Derrick Rose (when he’s healthy). However, when it comes to playing as a team to win games, they’ve often come up short. Certain players may feel the need to be the team’s “savior” and want to be the one to lead them to a win. Sometimes it works, while other times it doesn’t, especially when your opponent is a good TEAM (not just a team with good players).

Now, to the West –

One of the biggest surprises is  that the Portland Trail Blazers have the best record in their conference. But after watching Damian Lilliard hit a 14-foot fadeaway in overtime, leaving one-tenth of a second on the clock, it’s not hard to believe. Right behind the Trail Blazers at .826 are the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. Next, are the LA Clippers with a 16-9 record.

These teams are all very competitive, play well as a team and, for the most part, have been unaffected by trading. The most recent trade occurred within the Western Conference, sending Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray to the Sacramento Kings from the Toronto Raptors. The only major player in this trade was Gay, who was the gold nugget in the Kings’ win against the Rockets Sunday night.

Western Conference teams also have working parts and stand-out players that make up the team, as a whole. While they don’t generate much public attention, the Spurs, for one, have a key player at every position. They play well together and have exceptional bench depth.

Because this is the NBA and the season has just started, each team’s record may change and Eastern Conference teams have a chance to improve.

The question is: Will they do it?

In my opinion, probably not. Based on their upcoming schedules, it doesn’t look likely, unless they put it in high gear and can will themselves to win the majority of their next 5-10 games.

 

Categories: basketball, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, National Basketball Association, NBA, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs, Sports, Uncategorized, Washington Wizards | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NBA releases 2013-2014 season schedule

On Tuesday, the NBA released the schedule for the 2013 regular season.

On opening night, the Miami Heat will play the Chicago Bulls at home, but the Bulls may be adding another person to their starting five.

There is a chance that Derrick Rose may return for this game, making this the first game he will play in since tearing his ACL in the 2012 playoffs. In March, Rose was cleared by doctors for full contact play, but he said he would not play until he was able to dunk off his left foot.

If Rose does, indeed, play for this game, ticket sales are sure to increase and this will be one of the biggest games of the season to watch.

Opening night will also consist of three games, including a battle of the two-team city, as the Lakers take on the Clippers and the Indiana Pacers facing the Orlando Magic.

After all of the trades and free agent signings that have occurred in the off-season, there will be a lot of interesting games and boo-ing during those games. The first one will be when Dwight Howard comes to Los Angeles to play the Lakers on Nov. 7 as a Rocket.

However, nothing will compare to the response of Boston Celtics fans when Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce show up on Jan. 26 for the first time in Boston as members of the Brooklyn Nets. I am personally interested in how Rajon Rondo will respond to each of the above mentioned men, especially after what Garnett did to Ray Allen after signing with the Miami Heat last season.

There has been several changes to each team (not to mention the addition of the rookies) that will make this season very interesting to watch. For a list of each team’s schedule, click here.

 

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NBA schedule will be released Tuesday

The NBA schedule is set to be released on Tuesday during an NBA TV special at 6 p.m. EST and posted on NBA.com. The show will highlight season openers and games of interest. Some teams have already listed their preseason games.

Some of those teams include the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks.

The Miami Heat will open their season with a home game against the Atlanta Hawks on October 7. Before the game on that day, Miami will additionally get their rings.

The Heat will also play on Christmas Day in Los Angeles against the Lakers. The other LA team, the Clippers, will head to northern California to take on the Golden State Warriors on Christmas as well.

While the schedule has not been finalized, most of the season openers and Christmas games do not change between the initial and finalized schedule.

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Nuggets add Nate Robinson

Nate Robinson and the Nuggets have agreed to a two-year deal Monday worth $4 million, as confirmed by Marc Spears of Y! Sports.

This past season, Robinson played with the Chicago Bulls, averaging 13.1 points and 4.4 assists. He was the catalyst behind Chicago’s lone win against the Miami Heat in the playoffs, scoring 27 points.

Robinson tweeted yesterday regarding his departure, saying that “Chicago will always have a place in my heart” and that he will miss his teammates whom he describes as “stand up guys.”

Despite him moving teams, Robinson will be a reserve point guard in Denver due to the presence of Ty Lawson. The Nuggets already have a strong presence of point guards, including the talents of Andre Miller and Randy Foye.

Recently, Brian Shaw became the head coach of the Nuggets. The addition of Robinson could mean that there will be changes made to the who plays during the season.

Where will Robinson fit on his new team?

 

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NBA Playoffs

     After a long hiatus (school work calls), I felt it was necessary to get back on my blogging horse.

The playoffs are heating up as the Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies make their way to the Eastern and Western Conference Finals, respectively. Each series only lasted five games, but the losing teams were missing their key components.

After Russell Westbrook’s season-ending injury in the first round against the Houston Rockets, the  Oklahoma City Thunder has struggled to find a leader of the team. Westbrook also was an essential part to the Thunder’s scoring game. They were able to get past the Rockets, but the Grizzlies were too fast and physical to let the Thunder get through. Zach Randolph has been a focal point in the Grizzlies’ success during their playoff run.  Randolph averages 19 points and 9 rebounds per game. He’s been a dominant player and was able to shut Blake Griffin down in the first round of the playoffs and made big plays against the Thunder. The Grizzlies will go to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history and will face the winner of the Spurs/Warriors series.

The Heat were able to win in five games against the Chicago Bulls after two of the Bulls’ point guards (Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich) and forward Luol Deng were unable to play due to injuries and illness. Nate Robinson took over as the starting point guard. Robinson was able to come up big in the series, but it wasn’t enough. The Heat meshed well and were able to win decisively in three out of the five games of the series (they lost one). The Heat will go on to play the winner of the Pacers/ Knicks series.

My predictions for the remaining series: Spurs and Pacers.

The Golden State Warriors are a talented team and have been able to win two games against the seasoned veteran Spurs, but they are still very young. When Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson get hot, the Warriors are unstoppable. At the same time, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan are, for the most part, consistent and can make things happen on the offensive end. Kawhi Leonard also plays a major role on the Spurs’ team, averaging 14 points in the Western Conference Semifinals against the Warriors. Although I’m rooting for the Warriors (they’re the last team standing from my home state), I don’t think they’re experienced and prepared enough to win against the Spurs.

I pick the Pacers over the New York Knicks because the Pacers are on a hot streak. Paul George, George Hill, David West and Roy Hibbert are all big parts of the success of the Pacers’ team. They all contribute in a major way on both ends of the court. The Knicks have Carmelo Anthony and Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith, but they are not enough to keep the rising stars of Indiana down. The Pacers are up 3-1 and with the way that they’ve been playing, it’s not likely that the Knicks will be able to win three back-to-back games against them. There may be a chance that the Knicks win this game, as they are 31-10 at home, while the Pacers are 19-21 away. Even with that in mind, the Pacers did manage to win one game in Madison Square Garden. They play game five tonight, which should be a good one: the Pacers will be playing hard to end the series, while the Knicks will be playing hard to stay alive in the playoffs.

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