NBA TALK: PLAYOFF 2014 ANALYSIS

After nearly six full months and 82 games for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, the regular season now gives way to the postseason. With no clear favorite, a massively competitive Western Conference, and two big rivals atop the Eastern Conference, this year’s playoffs figure to be worth the wait.
The effective Spurs bounced back from last June’s heartbreaking NBA Finals loss to finish with the league’s best record, due in large part to the strengths of head coach Gregg Popovich and the mainstay trio of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili. The Mavericks return to the playoffs after a one-year absence and boast Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis as offensive leaders. San Antonio swept the season series 4-0 and looks like the favorite this year, as well.
With All-Stars Dwight Howard and James Harden, plus a strong supporting cast that includes the multi-talented Chandler Parsons, the Rockets have a solid chance at representing the West in the NBA Finals. The Blazers cooled down after a scintillating start to the season, but All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard present a formidable challenge for any opponent. Expect a high-scoring series from two of the NBA’s most efficient offenses.
New head coach Doc Rivers guided the Clippers to their second-consecutive division title as Chris Paul provided his usual peerless point guard play and Blake Griffin elevated from All-Star to genuine MVP candidate. Known for their offensive firepower and the outside shooting of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors struggled to score efficiently at times this season and now face the absence of center Andrew Bogut, out indefinitely with a serious broken rib injury. These teams do not like each other, having engaged in several scuffles this regular season, and figure to get into a few more regardless of the series result.
The Thunder have been without star point guard Russell Westbrook for several long stretches of the season due to knee trouble, but Kevin Durant has made up for his teammate’s absence with performances that should earn him his first MVP award. After early injuries, including a serious one to linchpin Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies returned to their typical grit-n-grind ways to get back into the playoff picture. This series represents a rematch of last spring’s conference semifinals, in which the Grizzlies pushed around the Westbrook-less Thunder.
The Pacers tailed off considerably with a 10-13 record since March 2, but this team, led by All-Stars Roy Hibbert and Paul George, remains dangerous and stands very good odds of supplanting the Miami Heat as conference champions. Meanwhile, the Hawks made the playoffs largely by default in a top-heavy East and didn’t consider the accomplishment especially relevant to their long-term goals. Despite Indiana’s recent struggles, it would be downright shocking for this series to go Atlanta’s way.
Despite losing star point guard Derrick Rose to yet another season-ending knee injury, the Bulls bounced back with their trademark tenacity and an MVP-type season from center Joakim Noah. The Wizards have rebounded from several years of franchise-wide malaise, primarily due to the emergence of star point guard John Wall. The battle-tested Bulls and upstart Wizards provide an interesting contrast.
The Raptors went from lottery participants to one of the East’s best teams after a December trade of highly paid forward Rudy Gay, with All-Star DeMar DeRozan and point guard Kyle Lowry having breakout seasons. The Nets were one of the league’s biggest disappointments until the calendar turned to 2014, when their considerable talent meshed and first-year head coach Jason Kidd began to get more of a handle on his squad. This series could be one of the most competitive of the first round.
The two-time defending champion Heat will attempt to become the first team to win three titles in a row since the Los Angeles Lakers of 2000 through 2002. The Bobcats were one of the league’s surprise teams after two historically bad seasons, with offseason pickup Al Jefferson playing well enough to earn All-NBA consideration and the defense improving considerably. Nevertheless, the Heat are an overwhelming favorite to make this a short series.
Who’s your pick?

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GETTING IN SHAPE | FOR THE DISCIPLINE CHALLENGED

Willpower functions similar to a muscle — it can be exhausted, and it can be strengthened depending on our actions. If you’ve done a poor job exercising willpower to work towards your goals for a long time, getting started can be an incredibly challenging task. Also, if you work at a job that you hate, chances are you’re depleting your willpower almost daily, leaving little to do the things you really want to do. So…if we were to apply that to our work out goals, the best way to start regaining your willpower is to start with small chunks of ego-affirming activities that help build willpower over time. If you try to tackle huge goals all at once, you run the risk of fatiguing your willpower.

A lot of us are left scratching our heads asking ourselves why the hell we keep failing at these goals that we want to achieve so bad. Ego depletion does a lot to help explain why it can be so difficult to get into shape, why we fall out of the habit of going to the gym or cheat on our diets The good news is that the best way to overcome these issues is to start with a lot of very small steps, properly timed. You’re going to achieve your fitness goals in two very predictable very well-known ways: by taking control of what you eat and by getting exercise.

Diet plays overwhelmingly the largest role in this entire process, and it will inform everything else. The very first step you need to take is to start getting into the habit of knowing how many calories are in the food you eat. Also, discard most of the dietary rumors you’ve been told. Scientific evidence suggests that when it comes to weight gain, it doesn’t matter when you eat, how long you go between eating or the carbs or fat or sugar or any other content that is in the food. There are exceptions here and there, but “How many” calories you consume is, for all intents and purposes, the bottom line.

The next step is to find out what your baseline is. Go online and do a quick assessment to gauge how many calories you burn in a given day just by being alive. This will vary based on your height, current weight, and how active you are. Once you know that number, you can start to make decisions based on it. For those of you who don’t know, there are approximately 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. So… if you want to lose a pound per week, you would have to create a 500 calorie deficit each day.

Your goal now is going to be to establish dietary habits based on when you’re most likely to be able to make good decisions. So for instance, for me personally, I’m often less likely to keep my dietary commitments for dinner.  This is probably going to be true for a lot of you out there, especially all you nine-to-fivers. If it is, what you’re going to want to do is try to make the best possible food decisions for breakfast and for lunch each day, knowing that when you get home, you’re free to eat pretty much whatever you would like. Aim to hit less than 50% of your caloric budget for the day during what you have assessed to be your high-willpower times of the day, knowing that you still have plenty of room for the times of the day when you know you’re more likely to cheat.

Exercise isn’t as huge of a calorie-burner as a lot of us might think. Many of us like to kid ourselves by assuming that we can atone for our dietary sins of the day by planning  to work out extra hard to make up for it. This is a mistake for two reasons. For example… to make up for a really savory meal of a cheeseburger, fries and a soda, which could easily add up to 1,600 calories, you would have to run for two hours and after such a huge meal your body will be in a food coma and not be very willing to run at all. So aim to eat as light as you can during the day and work out in small, manageable chunks throughout the day. Your goal should be to do enough to get out of breath each time. Elevating your heart rate in this way will do a few really amazing things. Eventually… you’ll notice that you’ll have far more energy throughout the day. You’ll stop hitting that terrible wall at around 3 p.m. You’ll also be a lot sharper mentally. I’m not making that up — studies have shown that even moderate intensity exercise increases working memory and self-reported mood. Best of all, though? By peaking your physical activity in small chunks throughout the day, you’ll receive the benefits of the effects all day long. The calories you burn doing this activity might be relatively low at first, but the most important part is that you are flexing your willpower muscle in small chunks and building a positive habit.

If you find yourself slipping, don’t beat yourself up over it, and don’t be afraid to move the goalposts a little closer if you’re having trouble working up the willpower to keep with it. The most important part is that you do it at all. Once you start developing your willpower, everything will become a lot easier.

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THE LATEST WORKOUT CRAZE: EMS

If you dislike working out as much as I do, you will love the not-so-new technology that’s starting to make some noise in the fitness world. EMS, or electrical muscle stimulation is a 20 minute, twice a week work out that gets great results fast by sending electrical impulses to the muscles while working out. The body ends up working harder and more efficiently than it ever could while at the gym. Not only is it great for people of any age, it’s also great for the joints and is useful in reducing injuries. Find out what it’s all about right here(see video clip below):

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PHIL’S BACK IN NEW YORK

It is confirmed that Phil Jackson has accepted the position to oversee basketball operations for the NY Knicks, the place he started his career. According to a league source…Jackson gave the Knicks a verbal commitment on Saturday but his actual status has not been confirmed….though it is said that the word “president” will be in his title. Current Knicks president/general manager Steve Mills will stay on with a revised role due to his vast network of contacts with NBA agents and GM’s. Phil will have control over the franchise but it’s not yet known to what degree, what we do know is that he will not have to manage day to day operations. The question now is if Jackson can indeed change the woeful franchise’s fortunes and how this will affect Carmelo’s upcoming free agency with no draft picks and cap space. Only time will tell.

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MARK JACKSON AND STEPH CURRY FACE OFF!

If you had to bet money on who would be the best long range shooter in a 3 point shooting contest between 49 year old Marv Jackson vs. one of the greatest shooters in NBA history with his career 44 percent mark from long range Stephon Curry…I’m sure you wouldn’t even think it’s fair! However that didn’t stop the Warriors coach from going head to head with the young star who could pretty much make any shot with hands in his face! Check it out to see who wins.

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5 MUST HAVE RACING GAMES FOR PLAYSTATION 4 & XBOX ONE

Driveclub for Playstation 4

Driveclub is being developed by Evolution Studios, the same team that handled the Motorstorm franchise. It’s not set to be a simulation game like Forza or Gran Turismo. It’s going to be an action racing game, similar to Grid 2 or the Burnout. Although not much is being revealed, The Mercedes-Benz  CLA45 AMG will make its digital debut in the game. Without doubt, it’s certainly gorgeous enough to make you want to buy your own. Though the game was originally supposed to launch alongside the Playstation 4, Driveclub has now been rumored to be launching in June 2014.

Forza Motorsport 5 for Xbox One

Currently the only simulation racing game for the Xbox One, Forza Motorsport 5 launched alongside the Xbox One. It launched with a paltry 200 cars from 50 different manufacturers and allows you to upgrade your vehicles. Most importantly, however, is that the game looks unbelievable, and it runs extremely smooth. There are several modes, with more being added through updates,the latest being the addition of a drag racing mode

Need for Speed: Rivals for Playstation 4 and Xbox One

The latest in the annual Need for Speed franchise is one of, if not the best offering thus far. This version was developed by Ghost Games, a new company under the EA umbrella, along with Criterion Games. It launched alongside the Playstation 4 and Xbox One.In Need for Speed: Rivals, you’ve got two separate career paths: racer and cop. If you choose the racer, you’ll launch into a story about outrunning the cops, and if you’re a cop, you’ll be chasing down the racers. As you race, you’ll earn various upgrades, including spike strips. This game also features All Drive mode, which blends single player and multiplayer modes together. There’s no waiting or loading—you and your friends are there, ready to dominate.

The Crew for Xbox One and Playstation 4

The Crew is, perhaps, the most ambitious next generation racing title yet. For this game, developed by Ivory Tower and published by Ubisoft, you’ll be able to strip cars down to its bare parts and customize it to your liking. Customizing your car is nothing new, but the extent that you’ll be to do it to in this game is nothing short of impressive. The developers have created their own version of the United States, and you’ll be able to drive all the way from Los Angeles to New York, down to Miami, then up to Chicago. It will take you around two hours in real time to make the journey from coast to coast. As you travel, you’ll earn money, upgrades, and XP. This game is unique in every way, and will hopefully change the landscape of all racing games when it launches in 2014.

Project: Cars for Xbox One and Playstation 4

Little to nothing is known about Project: Cars. It’s currently in development by Slightly Mad Studios, the team that handled Need for Speed: Shift, Shift 2, and Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends. This game is entirely funded by the developers and the community and doesn’t even have a publisher. As of right now, the game will feature 60 cars and 35 race tracks. The tracks all have a day and night cycle, as well as completely dynamic weather.If you’re a fan of racing games, you should definitely keep this game on your radar.

Keep an eye out for more information on these games, and possibly some new ones, when E3 rolls around in June.

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EVANS OUT AT UFC 170

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans injured a knee in training and his bout at UFC 170 against unbeaten Daniel Cormier scheduled for Feb. 22 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas has been canceled. The fight between Rory MacDonald and Demain Maia is expected to move into the slot as the co-main event behind the women’s bantamweight title fight between Ronda Rousey and challenger Sara McMann. Although details of his injury has not been released, it is said that doctors told Evans that he needs four weeks of rehabilitation. He said UFC officials are looking at potentially adding the fight to UFC 172 on April 26 in Baltimore.

 Cormier was devastated to learn of Rashad Evans’ injury. He has fought his mixed martial arts career as a heavyweight, weighing in the 240-pound vicinity. But because his friend and training partner, Cain Velasquez, is UFC heavyweight champion, he opted to drop to light heavyweight for the fight. He’d been methodically cutting weight and had been tweeting pictures of a much slimmed down version of himself. “This is just so devastating,” Cormier said. “It’s so close and I’ve worked so hard. My family has sacrificed so much. I have hardly seen my girlfriend and my kids the last eight or nine weeks. I was trying to do this right. This is very hard for me. I didn’t make the weight at the Olympics and it cost me a chance to wrestle for an Olympic gold medal. Hard news to swallow for both fighters as well as countless UFC fans!

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Best Wing Recipes for your Superbowl Party

The Superbowl is less than a week away and while youre out hunting for that Big Screen T.V, we’re giving you 3 amazing superbowl Wing Recipes from our friends at the daily meal & kitchen daily that you can make for your super bowl crowd that will leave everyone screaming “touch down” as they take a bite.

Spicy Chipotle-Honey Wings

Chipotles en adobo add a smoky, spicy flavor to the sauce for these wings, which also get a nice crispy exterior thanks to a quick trip to the broiler at the very end.

Get the Spicy Chipotle-Honey Wings recipe here

Crunchy Honey-Soy Glazed Chicken Wings Recipe

Even though they’re baked instead of fried, these wings get a nice crisp exterior thanks to the use of panko breadcrumbs, and coated with, a sweet, tangy, spicy glaze, we bet you can’t eat just one.

Get the Crunchy Honey-Soy Glazed Chicken recipe here

Chicken Wings with a Honey-Teriyaki Glaze

It’s amazing how a simple marinade of store-bought teriyaki sauce and honey can transform simple chicken wings into something truly special.

Get the Chicken Wings with a Honey-Teriyaki Glaze recipe here

Try them out and thank me later!

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NEW FIGHT FOR FLOYD?

 

A deal has been agreed for the 27-year-old Amir Khan to fight ‘Money’ Mayweather in a mega-bucks bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 3. The fight is set to be confirmed around the time of next weekend’s Super Bowl in New York. Mayweather, 36, holds the WBC’s light-middleweight and welterweight titles, with the fight most likely to take place in the heavier division. Another factor that will not make the challenge any easier for Khan is the fact he will not have fought for 13 months by the time he steps into the ring.Talk of a clash with Khan has intensified in the past six months, as he’s been on Mayweather’s radar for quite some time. Khan revealed how a meeting with Mayweather’s uncle, Roger,back in 09’ convinced him he would be a difficult opponent for the brash Michigan-born superstar.

Khan said: “I met his uncle when I visited his gym and he told me that I had the style which would cause Floyd a lot of problems.“That was from his uncle’s own mouth.“I think Floyd knows as well that I have the style which would cause him problems.“They have been watching me for a long time and when I visited Floyd’s gym that time they knew all about me, even though I hadn’t won a world title yet.”Khan has lost two of his last four fights, per Boxrec, and will need to improve massively if he’s to challenge Mayweather. The Englishman’s defence has appeared easily penetrable at times and his shot selection sloppy—two aspects his potential opponent will be sure to exploit.Few will fancy Khan against the greatest fighter on the planet, but like so many others before him, dreams of overcoming Mayweather could be enough to fuel a memorable encounter.

 

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WHEN PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF

In 1988, the Jamaican bobsled team stunned the world by qualifying for the Olympics, relying on the kindness of world athletes for essential tools they lacked — like a bobsled. The 1993 movie “Cool Runnings” was based on their journey. When the Jamaican two-man sled team qualified for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, they turned to the online community for funds to cover their trip to Russia.Team Jamaica tweeted on Saturday morning: #BREAKING: Jamaica’s 2 man Bobsled qualified for Winter Olympics in Sochi. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! #JamaicaBobsled.It was retweeted nearly 9,000 times and favorited more than 2,600 times.

Watt, who had retired after competing in the 2002 Games, returned to the sport this season at age 46 and trimmed the team from four members to two to cut costs.  “It would mean the world to us, and I hope that our fans and friends back home in Jamaica would be proud and support us as we show the world that we don’t give up and that Jamaica’s bobsled is still alive,” Watt told the Jamaica Gleaner. ”This means so much. … I didn’t want to see Jamaican bobsled just die like that after all the sacrifices.” Fortunately, the team did not have to bow out as the community came through as the ever laid-back Jamaican would say ”no problem”.

For a country with no snow — ever — Jamaica has done pretty darn well in bobsled competition internationally. After its Olympic debut in 1988, the team returned to the Games in 1992, 1994, 1998 and 2002.The original Jamaican team that competed in Calgary was backed by a couple of U.S. businessmen and the president of the Jamaica Olympic Assn.

Over the weekend, the team not only raised their funds but in the process also quadrupled the price of dogecoins with donations also coming in from Indiegogo and Crowdtilt. The team officially stopped taking donations through the croudfunding sites at midnight on Jan. 20. “I am happy to report that because of your generosity, we have reached our target much sooner than we anticipated.” Harris notes that any additional support can be donated on the official bobsled site, www.jamaicabobsleighteam.com. “We are grateful for your overwhelming show of support. The monies you donated will be used to cover training expenses (food, board, traveling, track fees, etc.), and equipment purchases as the team completes its final preparation for the Games. Funds will also be earmarked to ship the sled and related equipment to Russia,” Harris said. Based on the huge fundraising response, it’s easy to see that this isn’t just Jamaica’s team. It’s the international community of the Internet’s team. Fans can follow the team’s video diary.

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