If you are a basketball fan this is the best time of the year. Right after March Madness you have the NBA Playoffs. There has been plenty of action on the hardwood but plenty of stories of the court as well.
Scott Brooks was named the Washington Wizards new head coach. According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Brooks agreed to a deal with the Wizards on Thursday that will be worth $35 million. There is no secret why this deal got done. The Wizards want to do everything in the power to bring home free agent Kevin Durant. Brooks and KD had a great relationship in Oklahoma City. John Wall, Bradley Beal and Durant would be a formidable “Big Three” in the Eastern Conference.
Phil Jackson ran a mini camp with a few Knicks players recently. The purpose of this mini camp was to discuss and teach the principles of the triangle. I wish this story was false but it is 100% true. Carmelo Anthony did not attend. Talk about Jackson trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. The Triangle is no longer relevant in the modern NBA. The Three point shot is. The Knick were 24th in 3 point field goals made this season.
Tom Thibodeau was named coach and president of Timberwolves. It was only a matter of time before Thibodeau was going to get an NBA job. The Timberwolves have a ton of young talent. Andrew Wiggins won rookie of the year last year. Karl-Anthony Towns (18 points 10 rebounds per game) will win Rookie of the Year this season Zach LaVine won back to back slam dunk contests and greatly improved this season, averaging 14 points per game. Thibodeau will make this team better right away, but I do not love this hire. I have seen this in the NFL East time and time again. The Jets, Dolphins and Bills have continued to hire defensive minded coaches to stop Tom Brady, it rarely works. Brady has been to 10 AFC Championship games. In order for “Thibodeau to have a legitimate chance of winning a championship he has to evolve the way Bill Belicheck has evolved. He has to be open minded in his offensive approach. You are not going to beat the Spurs, Clippers, Thunder or Warriors by trying to shut them down in a low scoring match up. The Memphis Grizzlies has been using this formula for year, but they haven’t gotten to an NBA Finals. The Timberwolves have young talent and they need to play up tempo. If Thibodeau stays with his defense first mentality he will win 50-60 games ever year but will never reach the finals.
The Cleveland Cavaliers up 2-0 vs. The Detroit Pistons– Stan Van Gundy complained about the referees after Game 1. The Pistons players called LeBron James a “Fugazi” tough guy. They can talk trash all they want. The bottom line is the Cavaliers have the deepest roster in the NBA. That is right, I said it, Cleveland has more shooters than the Golden State Warriors. The Cavs hit 20 three pointers in game 2. The Pistons have size and toughness but I like the Cavs to close this out in 4 or 5.
The Atlanta Hawks up 2-0 vs. The Boston Celtics – I don’t know why most so called “experts” picked Boston to win this series. The Celtics are the Arizona Cardinals of the NBA. They are a very good regular season team but they don’t have that 3rd or 4th gear in the playoffs. They are very well coached but they just don’t have enough scoring. I like Boston to win 1 game or 2 but Atlanta has too much talent and scoring to lose 4 out of 7 to the Celtics.
The Miami Heat up 2-0 vs. Charlotte Hornets- The Heat went 10 for 10 from the floor late in the second quarter against the Hornets in game two. The Heat have scored 123 and 115 points in two games. The problem here is not the Charlotte coaching staff or players. The problem is Michael Jordan continues to be one of the most incompetent decision makers in all of sports. Sometimes he makes former Knick Coach and GM Isiah Thomas look like Jerry West. Here are a list of first round picks under Jordan. Other than Kemba Walker, all these first round picks are role players.
2008: D. J. Augustin
2009: Gerald Henderson
2011: Kemba Walker
2012: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
2013: Cody Zeller
2014: Noah Vonleh
2015: Frank Kaminsky
The Toronto Raptors up 2-1 vs. The Indiana Pacers- The Raptors struggled early on in this series but seem to have found their groove. The Pacers continue to be led by Paul George. Unfortunately for George there is just not a consistent 2nd option. George is averaging 28 points per game in the post-season. Monta Ellis is the second leading scorer averaging 12 points per game. That is not going to get it done. Raptors close this out in 5 or 6 games.
The Golden State Warriors up 2-1 vs. The Houston Rockets- When the Rockets fired head Kevin McHale early on in the season they said…”We didn’t like the direction the team was headed.” McHale took Houston to the Western Conference Finals last year. The Rockets are an 8th seed and they won the 3rd game of this series. The only bad news about winning the game is not the Rockets players have to play one more game before booking their vacations to Turks and Caicos. Stephen Curry has missed the last few games but I expect him to be back for Game 4 and I expect the Warriors to win in 5 games. This Houston team packed it in weeks ago.
The Los Angeles Clippers up 2-0 vs. The Portland Trailblazers- The Trailblazers lost 4 starters to free agency last year. The fact that they made the playoffs was a great accomplishment. Long term they probably would have been better off not making it and getting a higher draft pick. The Clippers bench outscored Portland 43-10 in Game 2. I think PG Damian Lillard should be able to carry his team to 1 or 2 home wins but I like the Clippers in 5 or 6.
The Oklahoma City Thunder up 2-1 vs. The Dallas Mavericks- The Mavs shocked everyone by winning Game 2 at OKC. All the credit in the world goes to Rick Carlisle for that win. His team was well prepared and earned that victory. Unfortunately for the “Mavs” they just don’t have the talent to compete with the high flying Thunder. Durant and Russell Westbrook should close this out in 5 games.
The San Antonio Spurs up 2-0 vs. The Memphis Grizzlies- There are several great things about Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. One of them is the fact that his team never “plays down” to the competition. The Grizzlies are decimated by injures and the Spurs are taking full advantage. Memphis has about a 15% chance to win game 3 but I like the Spurs to win in a sweep. I also think Popovich should be the NBA’s coach of the year. The Spurs went 67-15 this year and they were transitioning from the “Big 3” of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili to Kawhi Leonard and LeMarcus Aldridge.
If all these series hold up, I will be 8-0 in my first round picks
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