Posts Tagged With: Miami Heat

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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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

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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One More Time: Spurs and Heat Back in the Finals

It looks like deja vu happened in this year’s NBA Finals. The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat are, once again, competing for the championship. As a result, both teams have something to gain (other than winning a title): if the Heat win, they three-peat; if the Spurs win, they’ll get the revenge they long for after what happened last year. It will be a battle of wills, but will the same team win?

In my opinion, no. I think the Spurs are still bitter from last year’s game six and are going to come back harder than ever. Despite dealing with an ankle injury in Saturday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Spurs guard Tony Parker is expected to play in the first game. Normally, this would be a weakness because the Heat can exploit Parker, the Spurs have proven they can play well without Parker (although they play so much better with him).

Injury or no injury, the match-up between Tony Parker and Mario Chalmers is a no-brainer. Chalmers does well in his position, but I believe Parker will be able to make more plays.

The level of talent the Spurs have had to play against in the playoffs also gives the team an advantage over the Heat. Miami’s playoff run consisted of playing against the Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Bobcats. There were some very physical games, but the level of competition isn’t the same as what the Spurs had to face (Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks).

The Spurs also have a different team than last year, not in the sense of players, but in player development. Small forward Kawhi Leonard is a much more developed player and plays a bigger role for the Spurs than last year, averaging 13 points and seven rebounds so far in the postseason.

One advantage the Heat do have is if and/or when center Greg Oden plays. Oden hasn’t played much this season, but did see the court Friday in Miami’s win against the Pacers. He managed to get a rebound, assist and steal in the five minutes he played. At seven feet, Oden gives the Heat more height and dominance in the front court.

Another advantage for the Heat is, of course, LeBron James. The Heat will go as he goes and rally around him. The game will truly be the best player against the best team.

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Taking it to the Next Level: NBA Semifinal Predictions

 

I don’t know which is sadder: the NBA season almost being over or my undergraduate years wrapping up. Since basketball picks up again in a few months, I’ll have to go with the latter. But, for now, I’ll stick with talking about the NBA.

If you’ve been paying attention to the playoffs, you know the playoff series have been amazing (with the exception of the Heat/Bobcats #swept). From clutch three-point shots to unexpected adversity, the best teams have prevailed and are one step closer to the NBA title. The conference semifinals start tonight with the Washington Wizards facing the Indiana Pacers, followed by the LA Clippers going up against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tuesday night’s playoff games consist of the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat going at it with the underdog Portland Trail Blazers trying to make it past the San Antonio Spurs after that. Only four teams can make it to the conference finals. Here are my predictions:

Wizards/Pacers: Wizards. The Pacers are somewhat of a train wreck and were extremely fortunate to get past the Atlanta Hawks, but I don’t believe they have what it takes to win four games against the Wizards. The last time the two teams played each other was after things started going downhill for Indiana and the Wizards were able to win by a 13-point margin. Despite the Pacers’ misfortune, the Wizards seems to be doing the right things and are hungry to stay in the playoffs. Between Bradley Beal’s scoring and Marcin Gortat’s presence under the basket, Washington shouldn’t be slept on. That’s why they’re my pick in six games.

 

Nets/Heat: Heat. Although the Nets were able to sweep the Heat in the regular season, everyone knows Miami is a different beast in the playoffs. With Dwyane Wade back and healthy, Miami has all of its pieces in place to do some serious damage. Plus, losing those four games during the season will be all the motivation the Heat need to get into full beast mode. Miami has also had more time to rest and prepare after sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats. This can either work for or against them as Brooklyn played a full seven games and have momentum on their side. All things considered, I think Brooklyn will have to try again next season for a better shot at the title. Miami in five.

 

 

 

 

Blazers/Spurs: Spurs. The Portland Trail Blazers have had a good run and I like what I’m seeing from Damian Lillard, but he’s still young. The Blazer team, in general, has potential, but the Spurs are more experienced. They’ve been in this situation before and know what it takes to get back to the finals. San Antonio is also bitter about last year’s game six in the finals and are trying to right all of their wrongs. Portland will put up a good fight, but they need more time to be able to beat a team like the Spurs. I’m going with San Antonio in six.

 

Clippers/Thunder: I saved this one for last because I battle with my  personal feelings versus my basketball opinion. Keeping everything in mind, I think that the Clippers can win. In my opinion, they’re more of a loaded team than Oklahoma City. Between Jamal Crawford and JJ Redick, shooting won’t be a problem for the Clippers. A point guard matchup between Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook is interesting, but pound for pound, Paul is a better facilitator than Westbrook. The biggest challenge to the Clips will be Kevin Durant, obviously, but LA is known for making some clutch shots as well. While OKC has good players, I believe the Clippers is a better overall team. LA in seven.

Categories: basketball, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, National Basketball Association, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Sports, Washington Wizards | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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

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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Greg Oden takes talents to South Beach

According to Greg Oden’s agent, Mike Conley, Sr., Oden will sign with the Miami Heat. Both parties agreed to $1.03 million for the 2013-2014 season and $1.14 million in 2014-2015 should he pick up that option.

He will report to Miami today (Monday) and officially sign the contract.

Oden decided on the Heat because he feels that it is the “best place” and “best fit” for him at this time. Other teams that were recruiting him include San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks.

He has not played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009 after fracturing his kneecap.

When he will actually begin to play is still unknown, but Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra made it clear that they will work with him and help him get back in shape.

On Friday night, Oden told ESPN’s Grantland that Coach Spoelstra made him feel like “they know what’s best for [him].”

Other that Spoelstra and Pat Riley, LeBron James helped out in recruiting Oden, exchanging  text messages with him about coming to South Beach.  Point guard Mario Chalmers, who has known Oden for a while, is also optimistic about having him on the team.

“I think a seven-footer can help any team,” he said. “They’re hard to find. I’ve known Greg [Oden] since our high school days, talked to him a couple of times about this and you just hope for the best.”

Although it was a tough decision for Oden, Miami seemed to have always been the frontrunner and left more of an impression in his mind. One of the main selling points for him is Miami’s successful past few years.

“He wants to win championships,” Conley said.

 

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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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