warriors

The table is set for the Cavs & Warriors Final’s Rematch

 

Before I get into the Cavs Vs. Warriors let me touch on a few things on the teams that lost  to them. The Raptors took it to six which no one expected by playing inspired ball on their home court with the help of Lowry , DeRozan and the emergence of Bismack Biyombo who has made himself a lot money this offseason from his performance. The Raptors will have a nice core returning next season with a healthy Jonas coming back. But I wonder if they can attract any bigger free agents to come there since they have failed to do so in the past. Add that to DeRozan’s impending free agency when the Lakers (his hometown ) will be most likely calling and I would be willing to bet he would leave. Personally I wouldn’t DeRozan on my team just because his lack of a 3pt shot, and now he flat-out doesn’t take them. But I’m sure the Raptor fans out there would be bummed breaking up their best team ever including this super fan, who I’m sure you’ve seen if you have ever watched a Raptors game.  His name is Nav Bhatia and he has been a season ticket holder for 21 years and he is also a really good dude. By giving out the rest of his many season tickets to bring  hundreds of underprivileged children to the games every year.

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Now onto the Thunder who by all accounts looked to be firmly in control of their series versus the Thunder until a devastating loss at home in-game 6. I felt that after that loss the series would be over going back to Golden State at home. The Thunder’s late decision-making came back to bite them the final two games. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise since they led the league in 4th quarter collapses this year even beating the woeful Sixers in that category. But this postseason they looked like they had finally turned the corner and put those days behind them. Also in games 6 and 7 their second half scoring was abysmal including a 12 point third quarter in game 7, you just cannot expect to win with that kind of output. Going forward for the Thunder I think they are in a good position with Durant’s free agency looming. They have a young coach who is only going to get better. There isn’t a team that could he could go to that would give him a better chance to win like the Thunder unless you believe those Warriors rumblings are true. I say just sign the 2yr deal with an option to opt out after 1 which will also be Russ’ last season under contract too. They have great pieces with emerging pieces like Adams and Kanter. They do need to tweak their roster some because at this rate the Thunder now will be the new age version of those 90’s Jazz teams with Stockton/Malone, in that they continually get to the apex but just can not seem to conquer it. I do think they should deal Ibaka to get back some more shooting and draft picks to bolster their roster. Although I would like to see Durant next to a pass first point guard like a Chris Paul. I just can envision the dynamic pick and rolls those two could unleash on the league.

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 Getty Images

Now finally we get to the main course, and what a dish it is between the Cavaliers & Warriors. This will be the 14th time in NBA history that The Finals will be a rematch of the previous season. The runner-up has won the rematch in seven out of the 13 re-matches, but they’ve won six of the past seven so this bodes well for the Cavs.

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The Cavs will be entering the finals at full strength unlike last season and they will have the shooting to back it up. The finals features the top two 3pt shooting teams ever to go against each other in the finals. The individual matchups will be interesting as usual with Kyrie probably guarding Curry exclusively because they wouldn’t want him to guard Barnes or Iguadala because of the mismatch guarding them in the post. Tristan Thompson will need to make more of an impact in this series against the smaller Warriors team than he did against the Raptors and he must make them pay on the offensive glass. They won’t be able to defend the Warriors like the thunder did with their mobile 7ft’ers so they will try to outscore them, and they can be able to pull it off winning the  on the offeensive glass. LeBron can basically go 4 out and him driving in creating for himself or dishing it to an array of shooters. He is the best driver in the league as well as one of the best passers to an epic 3pt shooting team (No one team EVER has made more threes in the playoffs than them). Finally if the Cavs really want to win they have to capitalize when Golden State goes cold and step on the gas to get as much of a lead as possible. Because a 10-15 pt lead is only 5 or 6 shots from the Warriors and POOF its gone.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Charlotte Hornets

Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors on the other hand with just a couple of nights rest will not be rusty and looking to make a statement in-game 1 which is the opposite of what they did against the Thunder. Now they know just how quickly things can change after losing game 1 on your home court. Can we get more Klay Thompson pub?! The guy has been absolutely lights out this post season , especially when Curry went down with mcl sprain and in game 6 against the Thunder when he shot literal fireballs on his way to 11 threes.

Bogut will be very important this series because of Bron’s ability to dominate the paint and without Bogut playing at high level it will be a long series for dubs fans. I wonder if Draymond can keep himself from getting another technical since one more will mean an automatic suspension and that could be more than enough to swing the series. I’ve talked about how great Curry has been this whole year and he just keeps proving it by going for 36 in-game 7 just solidifying his  Boy Scout bad motherfucker badge even more.  Steve Kerr may also want to put out a BOLO on Harrison Barnes because that guy has disappeared from second halves of games this post season run.

NBA: Miami Heat at Golden State Warriors

 Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There is a lot on the line for this finals legacy wise, on one side you have the Warriors attempting to do something that hasn’t been done before and if they accomplish it they can begin to compare themselves to the better dynasties the league has seen , and arguably on the path to being one of the greatest teams ever. Then on the other hand you have LeBron who has been to six consecutive finals which has never been done before in the history of the Association. Then there is the added pressure on Bron bringing a title to Cleveland which hasn’t been done since Jim Brown was truck sticking folks in the 60’s. There will be a lot of history on the line this time around and with each team at full strength it will be a pleasure to watch. I’m going to ride with the Cavaliers in 6 games because as my friend Darren pointed out earlier this week that

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last

 

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Finally that debacle of a series is over with it and I’m ecstatic that I will not have to see those same players together ever again in my life. By the end of the series I found myself empathizing with Harden because he was the only consistent scorer on the team even with his ole defense followed by a deadpan stare at a teammate who he think should’ve helped. It’s obvious Dwight and Harden have their issues but a lot of it can be placed on JB Bickerstaff barely playing or not playing Capela at all this series when the numbers have backed up his productivity.

For being such an analytic driven team you would think JB would be paying attention to the numbers especially a staggering one like that.  He would also play Harden for long stretches of time without a break, as evidenced by him playing 40 straight minutes in game 4. During the first quarter last night Harden went 6 for 6 and the rest of the season went 0 of 15 which is a perfect microcosm of their season. After the conclusion of last night’s game the Rockets were granted permission to interview Luke Walton for the HC job which would be a phenomenal improvement.

Moving onto next year with Dwight out of the picture along with most of the role players except for Harden, Capela, Beasley, Beverly, Harrell, McDaniels,  D-Mo (going to keep him on a cheaper deal too) and Dekker. Harden is a exceptional offensive talent but he has to become more interested on the defensive end with his effort and not fall asleep on D like he is known to do.

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Part of the non effort is due  to his teammates clanking their shots not like never before this season and even more so during the playoffs. Dwight and Harden never really fit they only played around 2 seasons worth games together in 3 years because of Dwight’s injury problems. It was no coincidence Harden had his MVP worthy season in 2014-15 when Dwight missed the second half of the year. He also led the league in points in back to back years which hasn’t been done since his old teammate Kevin Durant did it 3x in a row  from 09-12′.  By the way the person who scores the most total points is my scoring champ not the one who averages the most.

There will be a number of free agents to go after this offseason and they will need to get another creator to go alongside Harden , with a center and a 3 & D guy to replace Ariza. Ideally I would like them to go after Al Horford, Pau Gasol to shore up the frontline. I don’t want Whiteside even though he’s elite defensively because he just strikes me as a knucklehead and its very hard to win with those. For the 3 spot that Ariza used to occupy I would go after Durant first then then Nic Batum who is coming off of his best season ever with the Hornets. The Rockets would be fools to not go after him when Durant ultimately spurns them. The last guy is Kent Bazemore , another underrated guy like Batum who has quietly had his strongest season. Now for the piece that has been missing longest during Harden’s tenure a player that can create shots alongside him. Mike Conley is my first choice followed by Rondo and Jeremy Lin.

PS. Finals Prediction , Cavs in 6 over The Spurs

Has Steph Curry Peaked?

After following up a Championship season in which he won league MVP and finals MVP in record breaking fashion, Curry is currently having an even better season which is quite remarkable.  He’s already topped his three point total from last season while taking less of them with 21 games left. Twenty one!  To go a deeper and get better appreciation for what he’s doing we can look at the PER (Player Efficiency Rating). PER measures of number of categories, such as field goals, free throws, 3-pointers, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals, along with negative results, such as missed shots, turnovers and personal fouls. It also accounts for a team’s pace of play so the Warriors playing in an uptempo system doesn’t inflate his PER.  Here are the top PER seasons of all time.

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Last season Steph posted a 28 which is good enough for top 60 all time but this season he has a posted a whopping 32.3 which if he keeps it up will be the best of all time. Not even LeBron who had maybe the best 5 year stretch of any player ever posted a 32. Bron went 31.7, 31.1, 27.3, 30.7, 31.6 respectively (It’s a crime that he got robbed by Rose for the 2011 MVP ).  The only other point guard’s who are in top 100 are Oscar Robertson, Magic , Westbrook, and Chris Paul. Great company to be in but none of those could shoot the rock at a transcendent level like Curry does. A 30+ PER has happened 18 times in the history of the NBA, by only 8 players. Of those 8 to do it only two players, Shaq and Wilt have gone on to have a better statical season following their first time reaching 30.

If his true shooting % stays finishes at 68% it would put him in the top ten all time. He would be the only point guard in it along with being the only non specialist wing player on it. All while taking the most shots by far of anyone on the lists. It’s not just threes either, he’s also in the top 15 in made free throws this year and on pace to break his career free throws attempted and made mark. Just shows that he’s getting it done all over the floor.

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Enough of the numbers already just take a look for yourself from his three 50+ outbursts this year

 

The answer remains to be seen if he has peaked or not but for him to best this season would put him in rarified air soaring alone and if there is a player that can pull it off it would be the baby faced assassin.

 

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*Update* He wasn’t the finals MVP, that was Iggy