Posts Tagged With: Houston Rockets

MVP Race: Steph or James?

The other day, a co-worker asked me who I think is the MVP between Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry and Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden. He’s a Rockets fan, so naturally, he said Harden. I disagreed and chose Curry because I felt he’s more consistent (and I like him more as a player, 99 percent of the reason I chose him). My co-worker raised some good points in favor of the bearded shooter, but I couldn’t bring myself to concede, which got me thinking: without any bias, which one is more MVP-worthy?

After further thinking and taking their roles on the court into consideration, I have to stick with Steph for five reasons:

1. The obvious — check the record. The Warriors are currently first in the Pacific Division with a 34-6 record and only one home loss. Golden State also went on a 16-game win streak in November and December. The Rockets, however, are 29-14 with a 15-7 home record and third in the Southwestern Division. Basketball is a team sport, so you can’t attribute the Warriors’ better record to just Curry like you can’t say Harden does it all by himself. However, you have to take each team’s wins and losses into consideration. Edge: Curry.

2. Scoring: Harden has led the last 12 of 18 games in scoring, averaging 27.2 points per game on the season compared to Curry, who has only led the last seven of 17 in scoring and averages 23.2. But, Curry’s field goal percentage is better on the season at 50.1 percent, with Harden not too far behind at 45.2 percent. Curry also has Harden beat in three-point field goal percentage, 40.2 percent to 38.3 percent. So, although Harden scores more, Curry is more accurate. Edge: Curry.

3. Assists: In the last 10 games, Harden is averaging seven assists per game and has a game-high in assists in the last 10 of 18 games. Steph has dished out 9.2 dimes in the last 10 games and led in assists in 10 of the last 17 games. It also helps Curry is a point guard, so naturally, he knows how to distribute the ball and get it where it needs to go. Edge: Curry.

4. People’s Choice: Curry leads the starting lineups for the 2015 NBA All Star Game in votes with 1,513,324. Harden finished fifth overall, but may earn a starting spot at the two after news of Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant’s torn rotator cuff. Edge: Curry.

5. Four just seemed like an odd number to end with, so I’ve decided to think of another qualification (five is a much more absolute number). Going back to the teams, as a whole, the Warriors have a better chance of going further come playoff time. In the past, Golden State has made some deep runs in the playoffs for the past few years and looks as though this could be the year for the team to go all the way. Houston has had its struggles and even with the addition of Josh Smith, the team will have stiff competition being in the Western Conference. Because, he has a better chance of getting ring number one first… Edge: Curry.

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Stay or Go? LeBron’s Next Big Decision

It feels a lot like 2010 (except now I have a college degree and am job hunting). LeBron James must, once again, decide whether to stay with his current team or leave. Teams like the Houston Rockets, LA Clippers and even the Cleveland Cavaliers have all been brought up in the discussion of where the King will reign next.

The difference between 2010 and 2014 is he’s got two championships under his belt and has a better supporting cast. Keeping in mind the differences between the two teams and the events that took place while LeBron was with each one, it would be a big surprise if he actually left South Beach.

The way the season ended was a major disappointment for King James and the Heat. The team lost the chance to three-peat after the revenge-seeking two-time Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs took the series 4-1 to win the ‘ship. Despite this, LeBron seems satisfied with his current team. There have been some reports mentioning how Mrs. LeBron James loves LA or how LeBron should return to his home team. According to James, he won’t make a decision until after his family’s vacation. In fact, he says he hasn’t even thought about it, but does feel more at ease about the decision-making process.

At this point in his career, it would surprise me if LeBron left Miami for another team, especially after the fanfare behind his original decision to come to South Beach. He’s playing with a better team and coach and has a good chance of winning at least another two championships (granted, everyone is healthy and plays). There are very few teams out there that can offer that chance. Virtually any team he goes to will have to be built around him, which will cause him to have to carry the team.There were times when James had to do that with the Heat, but more times than not, there was always at least one other person that steps up with him.

Additionally, LeBron’s two rings allow him to be a superstar and truly seen as a contender to be one of the greats. Greats like him don’t have to move around every few years because players will want to come play with him, not vice versa. How often did Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson or even Kobe Bryant have to switch teams to play with other superstars? As a result, Bron should settle in and let new talent come to him.

Over the next few weeks (or however long it takes), all eyes will be on the king to see what he decides. It’ll be interesting to follow the various reports and stories, but when all is said and done, I believe LeBron James will stay right where he is.

 

Categories: basketball, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, National Basketball Association, NBA, Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Tracy McGrady retires after 16 years

After coming close to winning his first ring this past season with the Spurs, Tracy McGrady announced on ESPN’s First Take that he is retiring.

McGrady has been in the league for 16 years and was originally drafted by the Toronto Raptors. During those 16 years, he has also played with the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic,  Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks.

Despite his deciding not to play in the NBA, the option of playing overseas is still open for him. McGrady previously played in China for a while, averaging 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

On a Chinese social media network earlier this month, McGrady stated that he would post on his website whether he would continue in the NBA or go back to the CBA. Although he has not yet said that he would, indeed, go back to playing in China, chances that he will are 50/50 right now.

McGrady had just come back from playing in China this season when the Spurs decided to pick him up in April. With the Spurs, he only play for five minutes during the playoffs.

Growing up watching players like Allen Iverson, Darius Miles and Tracy McGrady, it is sad to see him retire. However, it is now time for a new generation of players to rise, beginning with players like LeBron James, Chris Paul and Paul George. Luckily, there’s YouTube, so we can still watch some of the highlights of past players’ time in the NBA.

Here’s a highlight reel of McGrady:

Best of luck to Tracy McGrady in whatever he decides to do!

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D’Antoni speaks on Dwight leaving

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles head coach Mike D’Antoni spoke with a Los Angeles-based radio station, expressing his sentiments on Dwight “D12” Howard leaving the Lakers for the Houston Rockets.

“It’s hard for me to sit here and criticize or to even understand why he left a place like LA,” D’Antoni said. “That’s kind of mind-boggling a little bit, but that’s in his DNA and what he wants to do.”

Others like Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, however, could tell what was coming.

“It wasn’t a surprise,” he said. “I had a feeling that Houston was a frontrunner, and whenever a player is an unrestricted free agent, anything can happen.”

As a fan of basketball and an avid viewer (when school and studying permits), I thought it was obvious that Howard was not only going to leave, but that he never should have come to Los Angeles in the first place.

The first problem was the presence of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant. Howard had just come from the Orlando Magic, where he was the franchise player and the star of the show. You think Orlando, you think D12. After a while, you get used to that kind of attention, which he did.

Upon coming to Los Angeles, Howard acknowledged publicly that this is still “Kobe’s team” and he would take a backseat to and learn from Bryant in hopes that the team would one day become his. However, I am not totally convinced he held to this belief. Once you’ve been a star, it is hard to relinquish that title, especially with a personality like Howard’s.

He was not used to sharing the spotlight and could not speak against it because he was the “new kid on the block.” Instead, he acted out and did not give his all during games. His father even got involved in the matter, making comments that could have added fuel to the fire.

Another problem was that D12 was not a good fit for D’Antoni’s system. If Howard would have really looked at how D’Antoni does things and seriously spoke with him about his style of play, he may not have been a “bad fit.”

More than anything, I believe that Howard was blinded by the flashing lights and celebrity status of a city like Los Angeles, not to mention their numerous championships. He truly believed that he could come in and win a championship.

Ultimately, there were too many egos involved and somebody had to go. Since Bryant is (and will be until he leaves) the star and franchise player of the Lakers, it had to be D12.

Although many people did not like Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal’s comments about Howard leaving, it is true. Houston is a safer choice than LA and there isn’t as much pressure to be a superstar. When you think Lakers, you think about people like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaq, Magic Johnson, people that are considered some of the best players to play the game; you think about legacies and championships.

The Rockets don’t have that kind of perception, although they have won two championships and had Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon on their roster.

The question now is how Howard will perform in Houston. The pressure is off and he can now be the new face of the Rockets. Will his presence be enough to win them a championship? Only time will tell.

 

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ICYMI: Dwight Howard heads to Houston and other weekend free agent decisions

On Friday, July 5, Dwight Howard decided to leave the Lakers for the Houston Rockets. Both parties agreed to a four-year deal worth $88 million.

Shortly after Howard made his decision, Omer Asik asked the Rockets for a trade. He reportedly did this to eliminate the possibility that he may play second string to Howard.

The Rockets denied him that trade.

Howard’s decision to leave Los Angeles also stirred up commentary from former Laker Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal and former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

Shaq went on record making comments regarding Howard such as “It was expected. Not everyone can handle being under the bright lights” and “It was a safe move to go to a little town like Houston.”

He had also made comments about Howard first coming to LA, saying that he needs to “step into his own” and “average 28 points and 10 rebounds.” Unfortunately, Howard was unable to do that, but he did average 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Jackson’s comments, however, weren’t so nice. “”He left a distaste in Lakerland,” Jackson said via Twitter. He also said that Howard might be better off as an “Astro.” These comments drew much attention, although Howard has yet to respond.

Other free agents that have found a new home or stayed with their current team include –

  • Andre Iguodala to Warriors, previously with the Denver Nuggets, 4 years $48 million
  • Jarrett Jack to Cavaliers, previously with the Golden State Warriors, 4 years $25 million
  • Carl Landry to Kings, previously with the Golden State Warriors, four years $26 million
  • Josh Smith to Pistons, previously with the Atlanta Hawks, four years $56 million
  • Devin Harris return to Dallas Mavericks 3 years more than $9 million
  • Darren Collison to Los Angeles Clippers, previously with the Dallas Mavericks, 2 years $1.9 million in the first year w/ player option in second
  • Carlos Delfino to Milwaukee Bucks, previously with the Houston Rockets, 2 years $6.5 million with a third year option, totaling $10 million
  • J.J. Hickson to Denver Nuggets, previously with the Portland Trail Blazers, 3 years $15 million

 

The last day for free agents to decide and sign their new contracts is in two days (July 10).

 

 

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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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The Flaming Heat

LeBron James going to work

LeBron James dunks on Jason Terry in last night’s win against the Celtics

This weekend has been buzzing with basketball. Normally, I talk about college basketball, but I love pro ball. And how can I talk about the NBA without discussing LeBron James and the Miami Heat? Their streak now goes to 23. This has not come easily, however. In last night’s win over the Celtics, the Heat were down by double digits several times.

But that did not stop the LeBron and his team. They won the game 105-103, but not before James utterly disrespected Jason Terry with a monster dunk. Although James got the tech and a charging foul after, that hasn’t stopped Twitter and the free sports world from discussing it. James ended the game with 42 points.

Although they lost, Jeff Green came through for the C’s in a major way last night. He scored a career-high 43 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. The Celtics were up by 14 in the second quarter, but not enough to keep the Heat out. By the end of the half, the Heat were down by six. After a tough cat-and-mouse kind of game, the Heat pulled it out in the end. This “W” increases the Heat’s winning streak to 23, passing the Houston Rockets for having the second longest winning streak in NBA history.

This streak is impressive, but what does it really say about the Heat?

After winning the national championship, the Heat have a lot to prove. Some believe that them winning the championship last season was a fluke due to the short season. However, Miami has proved themselves in my book this season as they are the #1 team of the Eastern Conference. James is a dynamic player, but he doesn’t do it alone. The whole team bands together and plays well to form a powerhouse. With the addition of Ray Allen (a major hit for the Celtics), the Heat have added to their outside shooting game.

After their comeback performance last night and their current streak, there’s a good chance that they can be champions for two consecutive years. There are very few teams that can play at the same level as the Heat. They are still on fire from last season and are coming strong.

As the season gets closer to playoff time, Miami has secured their place as the #1 team in the East. The #2 team, the Indiana Pacers, are 12 games behind and seem to be the only team who are believed to have a chance at beating the flaming Heat. So far this season, the Heat are 1-2 against Paul George and the Pacers.

 

A small NCAA blurb: I missed Selection Sunday, but after looking at the match-ups, I’m still unsure about a tourney winner. I haven’t even done my bracket yet. When I do (after careful thought and consideration), I will post it and talk about match-ups that I’d like to see.

I’m also excited for NCAAW tournament after the Baylor Lady Bears are a #1 seed for the second year. Unless something serious happens, I plan on attending the first round game as it will be in Waco at the Ferrell Center on Sunday. The next month is going to be an exciting time for college basketball lovers everywhere.

 

*Out*

 

 

 

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