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Boston Celtics

Why Should the Boston Celtics Be Disappointed If They Do Not Win an NBA Title next Season?

For most franchises, reaching the Eastern Conference finals in consecutive years would be a great accomplishment. This is not necessarily the case for the Boston Celtics. The storied franchise is littered with Eastern conference and NBA titles, so just merely making it to the series means absolutely nothing. I know last year they were missing their two franchise players and were being led through the playoffs by two second year players and a rookie. Although, their success throughout the playoffs may have surprised a lot of fans they really only won one road game the entire playoffs and had a chance to send LeBron James home early for the first time in nearly a decade on their home court and laid an egg. Shooting horrendously from the three point line, and making youthful mistakes down the stretch, offered the young team an opportunity to play for an NBA title.

Fast forward to the summer, they have been able to resign a key player, Marcus Smart, who literally represents everything the franchise has become. Smart’s gritty, hard-working attitude reflects the very nature of the organization; he has proven to be one of those players who needs little attention like the stars but impacts the game like one. Boston is positioned to bring back two All NBA performers to their starting lineup in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward as well as the rest of the cast, Al Horford, Jalen Brown and last years’ rookie sensation Jayson Tatum. The bench will be one of the best in the league with Scary Terry Rozier, Smart, Marcus Morris, and Semi Ojeleye and newly drafted big man Robert Williams from Texas A&M.

Boston should be salivating at the opportunity of pursuing an NBA title, now that LeBron James has left the eastern conference for at least four years. The doors have gone through Cleveland and Miami for nearly a decade and now the pickings are ripe for a young but competitive Boston Celtics basketball team, led by a former NBA champion in Irving. This will be a legacy-defining season for Kyrie, with this strong cast of players; he should be able to lead his team to the next level. As long as they can stay healthy, Boston has no excuses for not making it to the NBA Finals out of the lackluster Eastern Conference.

Who will be in their way?

The Boston Celtics may only have two or three teams that can match up with them in a seven game series next season. The closest competition will be the youthful Philadelphia 76ers, who have a tandem in Joel Embid and ROY Ben Simmons that are poised to cause havoc on the east for many years to come. The Sixers will be significantly better after the success they saw last season. They will have more late-game experience, which was a major issue in the playoffs and they will have two players who can dominate a game playing side-by-side. The Boston Celtics may avoid them until the conference finals which will give them the advantage once again if they have home court. The only other teams that may give the Celtics a run for their money are the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks. Both of these teams will improve greatly with the exit of LeBron James. They both have top players in the conference, Milwaukee has a potential of adding another all-star in Khris Middleton and a rookie selection in Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, a sharpshooter that adds another element to the roster.  The Pacers, on the other hand, would have been a problem last season without the heroics of King James. They picked up a healthy Tyreke Evans to add to their stout core. They will most likely see the largest growth next season than any other team. They are young and hungry with Miles Turner, Victor Oladipo, Evans, Corey Joseph, and young big man Domontas Sabonis. These are ideal compliments to their veterans of Thad Young and Darren Collison. I expect them to be much better but still a game or 2 short of a deep playoff run.

If Boston can keep their defense a consistent piece of their arsenal, I expect them to represent the East in the NBA Finals. Gordon Hayward will win comeback player of the year at the ESPY’s and Kyrie will either win or be runner-up for NBA MVP.  So this is why Boston Celtics fans should be disappointed if they do not win an NBA Title next season.

  1. They have the length and depth to compete and beat the Golden State Warriors.
  2. LeBron James is no longer in their way
  3. They have the best bench in basketball and arguably the best starting line-up
  4. They have a top-5 point guard in Kyrie Irving
  5. Their young players will have 1 more year of experience

Do you think Boston Celtics will reach the NBA Finals? If so leave a comment and let me know why I am wrong!

Further reading: Top 5 NBA Point Guards to Take Leap Forward During the 2018/19 Season

Point Guard

Top 5 NBA Point Guards to Take Leap Forward During the 2018/19 Season

The age of the point guard has extended much longer than I expected it would. As the game sped up over the last five to 10 years or so, the NBA has been a lightning rod for top-tier point guards. Point guard is the hardest position to make a lasting career in any sport because of the size disadvantage that normally occurs. The odds a great point guard won’t make an NBA team is extremely high. The competition at the position hails some of the most dynamic players in the NBA for example, Stephan Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Damien Lillard are all big name point guards who lead their teams. This era has produced some of the best to play the position, if you are looking at stat lines, impact on the game and consistency.

The point guard position has been revolutionized and has opened the game to a more exciting pace but with less focus on the mental aspect of the sport. Players can shoot from 30 feet but make mental mistakes more often than those in past eras. The result of the changing game has created a demand for longer more versatile playmakers. We are seeing the flood-gates open with 6’7 (and above!) guys dealing with the bulk of the ball-handling and playmaking for their team. Although a shift is happening, the need for a dynamic point guard will always be vital to winning basketball games. In the NBA today, without a top-tier point guard at the helm, your chances of sustaining success is very slim (unless you have LeBron James). So that being said, I believe we will see a generational shift this coming NBA season. The young point guards will take their rightful place in the NBA landscape forcing the respected ones to tighten up or they will soon be replaced. Here are my top five point guards to look out for in 2018-2019.

  1. Spencer Dinwiddie. The Brooklyn Nets found themselves a jewel in Dinwiddie. Poised enough to make late-game shots and has shown the ability to be a top-tier playmaker. Dinwiddie improved his overall game, stretching the floor with his 3pt shot, averaging 12 points and 6 assist with his team’s best scorers and playmakers sidelined with injury all year long, gives me the impression he is on a growth incline that will only get better now that he will have his backcourt buddy Diangelo Russell back next season.
  2. Jamal Murray. Murray is coming into the 18-19 NBA Season coming off a great season. Although his nuggets failed to make the playoffs, with the additions of Isiah Thomas and rookie sensation Michael Porter Jr. Murray will have the weapons around him to become a star in this league. The Western conference is tough every night but Murray has shown an uncanny ability to compete against the league’s best and with his athleticism and scoring ability on a fast-paced offensive team, he will have his best season yet, finally pushing the Denver Nuggets into the playoffs.
  3. Dennis Schroder. Schroder is a starter on most NBA rosters. He is a quick and effective guard who competes with the best on a night-to-night basis. Leaving Atlanta may turn out to be the biggest blessing he could receive. One season behind Russell Westbrook (and in some cases side-by-side) should take his game to the next level. He is only 24 and will become the best backup point guard in the league the first game of the season. His style really fits OKC and may have them playing deep in the playoffs if the chemistry fits.
  4. Elfrid Payton. The Louisiana native has an opportunity to return to where it all started, playing with the up and coming New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans after losing Rajon Rondo are looking for a long and intelligent playmaker to take over at the point guard position. Payton is a stout defender. The Pelicans backcourt will be tough on the defensive end; Payton brings a different scoring threat to the table than Rondo as well. He will be able to thrive as the third or fourth option on the team making the Pelicans deeper and younger at the same time. I expect his assist per game to rise from a decent six per game to eight/ nine per game, many coming from lobs to Anthony Davis and Julius Randle.
  5. Kyrie Irving. I know this one may come as a surprise since Irving is a legit star in the league. That being said, the 2018-2019 season will be one of the biggest for the legacy of Kyrie “Uncle Drew” Irving. He is coming off a great season that ended short because of a knee injury. He is surrounded by arguably the best supporting cast in the NBA. LeBron James has left the Eastern Conference, many naming Irving the best player left in the East. All of this, and let us not forget his team was about five minutes away from making it to the NBA finals with him sitting in a dentist office or something of that nature. This is his chance to solidify his legend post-LeBron. He will be an MVP candidate and the Boston Celtics will be the team that dethrones the juggernaut Golden State Warriors. Yes, I said it, a healthy Irving and gang will defeat the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

Do you agree with my list? Tell me some sleeper point guards we should be looking out for this up-coming NBA season.

Further reading: LeBron James in Limbo

Lebron James

LeBron James in Limbo

Can the Cleveland Cavaliers’ deadline day trades save another NBA finals defeat for LeBron James?

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been particularly hard to watch this year. LeBron James is having one of his best years statistically and he seemingly can’t find any teammates to lessen the burden on his shoulders. Since Kyrie Irving demanded to be traded, they’ve looked one-dimensional and pedestrian, the only threat coming from Lebron driving to the paint. The reasons for this could be that head coach Ty Lue or Dan Gilbert made the trade swapping Irving for Isaiah Thomas, then scrapping that trade by February—even though Thomas had a 10-month hiatus as a result to a labral tear to his hip, so he needed more time to get used to basketball again. However, without knowing the atmosphere in the Cavalier’s dressing room before Thomas was shipped off to the Lakers, it’s very hard to pinpoint the cause of their decline: We question if the new look Cavaliers could still win it all this year.

Firstly, the new look Cavs have gone four and four, leaving most fans confused as to what the ownership saw in these players, which is completely unfair. There isn’t a team in the league that could introduce four players who are given significant minutes and win consistently, they’ve only been with the team a month as well as having the all-star break in between this.

One thing to be concerned about is that the Cavaliers have the busiest end of year schedule in the NBA, so getting the team training together is going to be challenge.

Cleveland acquired George Hill, a 6”3’-point guard from Sacramento. He’s an efficient player averaging 10 points per game and an impressive 45 percent from the three-point line. They brought in another good three-point shooter in Rodney Hood, a 6”8’ shooting guard from the Utah Jazz, averaging 15 points a game. They’re both athletic defenders that are very capable perimeter shooters, who LeBron James loves to play with. LeBron James uses these players whilst he drives to the paint causing the defenders to sink closer to the basket to try and protect the rim, making the perimeter shooters available for the pass.

The Cavaliers also traded for Larry Nance Jr, he stands at 6”9’, plays as a power forward and will primarily be used as a center by Lue. Nance is a good rim protector and can also spread out the floor because of the threat of an alley-oop pass to him. He can be a spark plug for the team, he’s a vicious dunker that has Kevin Durant amongst his posterized victims. Nance never had a true role in LA, so he will benefit from having a more defined role.

Lastly, Jordan Clarkson was brought in alongside Nance from the LA Lakers. Clarkson’s a 6”5’ point guard, averaging 15 points per game, can score from anywhere and doesn’t need other players to create for him. This is as opposed to Hill and Hood who can’t create off the dribble. The Cavs will look to use him as a player who can create for himself giving LeBron James a rest from ball handling duties.

In conclusion, the Cleveland Cavaliers added reliable role players to back up LeBron James and Kevin Love. Before the trade, Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade and Isaiah Thomas just weren’t willing to be used as mostly off-the-ball players later in their careers, leading them to be disillusioned and not fight as hard as they once would have. The new additions will be sponges to the Cavaliers system and are young and fresh enough to run up and down court for the whole game. However, they will be relying on LeBron James and Love to get 60 points per game for them, then relying on the supporting cast to get around 10 points each.

All the focus is on the Golden State Warriors, who are still the heavy favorites to win the Championship since they have four perennial All-stars to the Cavaliers’ two. However, winning back to back Championships is difficult because mentally it’s so tough to keep the performance levels the same after achieving the ultimate goal the year before. My expectation is that they are good enough to win through to the finals, but may ultimately lose to the Warriors. These players are a good improvement, but the lack of consistent high volume shooters on the Cavs will be their downfall.

Further reading: NBA Star Derrick Rose to Sign With Timberwolves

NBA Star Derrick Rose

NBA Star Derrick Rose to Sign with Timberwolves

According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, NBA star Derrick Rose has plans to sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the remainder of the season.

“Former NBA MVP Derrick Rose has agreed to a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the rest of the season, league sources told ESPN,” Wojnarowski said.

“The deal will reunite him with coach Tom Thibodeau and former Chicago Bulls teammates Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson.”

The Athletic reported that NBA star Rose and his wife welcomed their new born child earlier this week, and any plans of signing with the Wolves had been postponed until then.

The player was waived by the Utah Jazz back in February after the team had acquired him in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 8. As Rose was waived before March 1, he was eligible to join the Timberwolves.

Rose was side-lined because of injuries this season with the Cleveland Cavaliers and has played just 16 games.

The NBA star has had much bad luck with injuries throughout his career, having lost 2012 playoffs to injuries and the 2012-2013 and most of the 2013-2014 seasons for the same reason.

In November 2017, Rose took a sabbatical from the game to decide which next step he should take in his career; he returned shortly after.

Rose is highly revered in the NBA, having first been drafted in the 2008 NBA Draft and obtaining Rookie of the Year honors in 2009. He later won the NBA MVP Award in 2011.

San Diego Coach Arrest

Lamont Smith Resigns as San Diego Coach after Arrest

Lamont Smith resigns as San Diego Coach on Wednesday March 7, just shy of two weeks after his arrest following suspicion of domestic violence.

USA Today reported that the men’s basketball coach at the University of San Diego was placed on administrative leave by the school the day after the arrest.

“We appreciate Coach Smith’s contributions to Torero Athletics and to the men’s basketball program since he joined us three years ago.

“Coach Smith elevated the level of competitiveness of our program, recruited an outstanding group of student-athletes and established a strong foundation for future success.

“This situation has been difficult for all concerned and our prayers continue to remain with everyone,” said the school in a statement announcing Smith’s resignation.

Smith had been arrested just hours after the Toreros played against the University of San Francisco on 25 February. Police arrived at a hotel where a woman, whose identity remains anonymous, had visible marks of injury who said that Smith had caused the marks.

“As a result of the evidence obtained from the investigation, Mr Smith will not be charged at this time,” said Alex Bastian, a spokesperson for the San Francisco District Attorney’s office in an email to USA Today Sports.

A statement by Gail Shifman, Smith’s attorney, states: “After reviewing all the evidence and completing their investigation, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office has discharged the matter and has declined to file any charges against Coach Smith.

“An arrest in California is not the same as being charged with a crime. The San Francisco District Attorney’ Office has declined to file charges because there is insufficient evidence and there are no court proceedings.”

Smith had played for San Diego from 1995-1999. The 42-year-old was initially hired to coach the basketball team in 2015, and had two years remaining on his contract.