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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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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The Next LeBron James?

I generally hate and stay away from the hype of “The Next” great basketball player comparisons. I mean you remember how many “The Next Michael Jordans” there were who never did anything? But I came across this video of Seventh Woods today and I was pretty impressed.  Literal domination by this kid and oh yeah, look what number he is wearing!

High School domination is not really what MJ was known for, though I sure would like to see some of that video footage if it exists.  So the best comparison is LeBron James because he was seemingly a legend before he left for The NBA.  If you are a hoops fan I think you will dig this highlight reel.  Pretty legit!

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And Then There Were Two

So the final game is set and it will be Michigan vs. Louisville tonight from Atlanta.  I am a die hard Michigan Hoops fan and an alum so I am definitely excited and biased here.

This game really should be incredibly exciting  and fast paced as both teams rely heavily on stellar back courts in their game plan.  They are both coming off very close wins in the semi-finals and will be incredibly “amped” at tip off.

I think this year’s tournament (the 75th Anniversary) was very good for the sport.  You had a 9 seed in the final four, many great upsets and it is the first year without a showing from at least one of Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky or Kansas in the Final Four in a VERY long time.

These are two proud programs going at it tonight and they are just 40 minutes away from the promised land.  You know who I will be writing for! #GoBlue!

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