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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WHAT BABIES BORN IN 2014 MAY NEVER KNOW….

As fast as technology is moving, it’s understandable how things we know today will fade away.  Check out this list of things that kids born this year may never know:

The Post Office – Yes kids, instead of email, someone use to come all the way to your house just to drop a bunch of ads into a box on the front porch!

Parking Meters – Imagine that you use to have to pay for parking by putting coins into a little steel box on a pole.  Bank Tellers – Instead of digitally depositing or withdrawing money, people use to actually visit a bank branch to do this.

Paper Checks – And while having to travel to this bank, they also would write an amount of money on a piece of paper.  Once signed, it magically became the same as making your own paper money.

Paper Statements – Trees had to give their lives to those that refused to go digital (that alone is hard to believe).  Being mailed to that box on the front porch again.

Cable TV – crazy as it seems, there use to be a wire running all the way downtown to bring entertainment into the house.  Judging by the price, you would have thought it contained a cure for cancer!

Toll Booths – Imagine you use to have to stop at a booth and either throw money in a basket or hand it to someone.

Phone Booths – There was a time before everyone had a wireless phone – and there used to be a little glass room on street corners where you’d go in and use coins to make a call.

Newspapers – In those days before everyone had computers at home and in their pockets, printing presses made paper versions of websites.  People would then drive around and throw them on your front lawn.

Books and Bookstores – Books were a physical version of e-books made out of paper.  People would actually go to a retail “Bookstore” to buy these books.

Car Keys – you would need an actual key to insert into a keyhole in the doors and dashboard to unlock and start the car. 

DVD’s – There was a time before movies were delivered online, they would come on discs you’d stick into your computer or a player attached to your tv. 

Fax Machines – These antique devises would transmit a piece of paper to another fax machine anywhere in the world.  It worked over phone lines.

Phone Lines – Before wireless (yes, another crazy thought), calls were carried on wires.  Like power wires, they were strung everywhere and stopped working during snow and ice storms.

Cursive Handwriting – You would have to pick up a pen or pencil and actually write things by hand.  Not only that, but the letters of each word were all connected in such a way that it was often impossible to decipher!

Camcorders – Before HD video cameras became standard in phones, you had to buy a separate device if you wanted video selfies.

Blind Dates – Way back, people were actually forced to meet one another any way they could, including being introduced to friends of friends.  It was awkward!  There was no way to IM, text, exchange pics or otherwise communicate before actually meeting.  And it always seemed that people you met this way usually were not as good looking as you!

 

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An Outkast Reunion for 2014?

Who’s ready for an Outkast reunion? I know I am, that’s why I was pleasantly surprised when I spotted Big Boi and Andre 3000(also known as Three Stacks) on instagram in a series of photos after the duo attended Kanye’s concert at the Philips Arena.

It’s now been 7 years since Idlewild’s debut and the duo’s last public performance. Over that period of time, Big Boy has kept busy- releasing the Sir Lucious Left Foot and the underrated Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. Meanwhile, Three Stacks has been in an ever evolving state of retirement in which he pops in and out to make guest appearances on songs that left folks scratching their heads(cue “Walk it out” and “Deuces”). If these photos are just a casual reuniting between the duo, that’s cool. But if it represents more, like a full album of Outkast goodness…then I’m all eyes and ears!

 

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