2018 NBA Playoffs – Part 2 of Round One

Yesterday, I wrote about the Eastern Conference, which can be found right here, today it’s about the Western Conference.

1 – Houston Rockets vs 8 – Minnesota Timberwolves

Watchability – 1.75

The Houston Rockets are the best team in the NBA at this very moment, with the MVP. You want to know when I thought the Rockets would be great? When I saw the point guard I hate in Chris Paul sing the iconic hit “I want it that way” by the Backstreet Boys (They weren’t better than NSYNC) in a state farm commercial with Trevor Ariza singing with him, while the MVP of the league sat there, fed up. Iconic.

Mike D’Antoni builds great regular season squads, but those same squads fail in the postseason, which is unfortunate. It’s crazy how the Rockets this year only lost three games this year with Capela, Harden & Paul in the lineup. I’m amazed by that. Hell of a season. Let’s hope it doesn’t go to waste for them.

Let’s have a standing ovation for the Minnesota Timberwolves for making the playoffs for the first time since 2004. You want to know what I was doing in 2004? I was in the sixth grade at North Whidbey Middle School, wearing baggy clothes, starting problems with my xanga page, and then hooping at Saratoga (I lived across the street from that court. It had double rims and yet, everybody thought I was so good at shooting there because I shot there mostly. No, it was because my jumpshot was better than yours) after school. I’m also positive, the number one song in the country was “YEAH!” by Usher. 

The Timberwolves have Jimmy Butler, Karl Anthony-Towns, and Andrew Wiggins. You’d think with those three, they would be better but when your coach is Tom Thibodeau, a guy who’s offensive sets scream “go to hell” ball from the late 1990s-early 2000s. It’s sad. I’m not a big Thibs fan as I used to be.

Thibs doesn’t understand the concept of resting his players. Thibs has his old squad of the Bulls in the Minnesota uniforms. The dude even went and signed the remains of Derrick Rose (Cavs fans or Lebron fans, whichever you want to choose from told me that Rose was gonna be a star with Lebron… they sound worse than us Laker fans when we loved Sessions). I don’t understand his philosophy in terms of his rotations, but they’re still around. 

Prediction – Rockets in 4. I don’t think Minnesota is good enough to even compete with Houston, and I might watch one game, let alone a half in this series. Harden is gonna probably average 40. Minnesota fans are very proud to see their team finally in the playoffs and not the lottery, so they’ll be okay with the result.

4 – Oklahoma City Thunder vs 5 – Utah Jazz

Watchability – 5

You know why this ranking is a 5. Westbrook. Mitchell. Rubio. George. Gobert. The leftover remains of Carmelo Anthony. This series has everything you want from average basketball teams. Star power, drama, and fight waiting to happen.

Donovan Mitchell is rookie of the year. Quin Synder might be coach of the year. Rudy Gobert might be the defensive player of the year. Utah lost Gordon Hayward to the Celtics in free agency, and struggled at the gate, but Mitchell put the Jazz on his back, and they’re in the postseason. I didn’t see this coming. I knew of Mitchell due to me following the ACC closely, but every time I watched him play last year, I wasn’t impressed. Maybe it was because the coach he played for (Rick Pitino aka 15 seconds). The spacing of the NBA helped, though.

We know about the Thunder or as I call them, the Zombie Sonics. I don’t really care for them too much. However, I’m here for the outrage and caping ability of what Russell Westbrook brings on the internet.

Russell Westbrook needed to grab 34 rebounds to average a triple double this season. If you’re keeping track at home, he needed to grab 34 rebounds to average another triple double for the season. Bro. How. Westbrook, in HILARIOUS fashion got them, and thus making history yet again. However, this begged the question on the internets – Is Russell Westbrook a stat padder?

I’ll give you an answer.

Yes. He stat pads. It’s not the end of the world that he does. Let’s just be happy that the brodie, the internet’s favorite player although these same people had their narratives rocked when last year, their favorite player would outshoot them in games like another player they would be critical of… you know, this guy. A strange world we live in.

This series gets a 5 alone because we all know Westbrook will outshoot the Thunder in a game, the Jazz will somehow blow two games at home when they could put this series away, and we’re all here to see the corpse of Carmelo Anthony have a random 35 point game.

Prediction – Thunder in 7. I want to pick the Jazz in 6. But… as much as I can’t stand the Zombie Sonics, they should play up to their potential instead of being an average basketball team like they were for the majority of the season. I’m curious to see how Paul George plays. When he’s engaged (and actually getting the ball from Westbrook), he’s a terror. When he’s not, he’s just mentally thinking about how many shots he’s gonna get from the Lonzo next year (I’m actually torn on the whole Paul George/Lakers thing, but I’ll explain that in another blog). 

3 – Portland Trail Blazers vs 6 – New Orleans Pelicans

Watchability – 10000000000

This is the matchup that I think my brother Chris Jones and I will sacrifice the sleep for. I’m actually mad at the fact that game 3 is on NBATV because my god, this series is going to be bananas.

As a PNW lifer, I love Damian Lillard aka DAME D.O.L.L.A (Dame can rap, bro. I’m like not kidding). I love Cj McCollum since he went to Lehigh and did the lord’s work in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. I feel like as a Laker fan, I should hate Portland but since we always beat them in the playoffs, I have a soft spot for them, and that city (One of my best friends lives in Portland for med school and the city is lit. It’s not better than Seattle, though). On the floor, these two have been incredible together, although CJ was okay for the majority of the season. For a stretch, Portland won 14 in a row after the All-Star break, and Dame was a legit MVP candidate, but they came back to earth a bit.

New Orleans was written off for dead when DeMarcus Cousins (BOOGIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE) tore his Achilles three weeks before the All-Star game.  I love Boogie, and the fact that people think he’s a problem because he’s ultra competitive (Clay Travis, man fuck Clay Travis) is full of shit. If it wasn’t for James Harden winning the MVP three months ago, I think I’d have Anthony Davis win MVP. The Brow carried this team, and he’s averaging 28 & 11 this season on a team where the only other player I can name is Rajon Rondo (I need to watch more basketball).

Prediction – Trail Blazers in 7This will be the best series in the first round. I’m actually torn but I’ll go with Portland because of the belief that the guard play of Dame & CJ will prevail over Davis, who could average 35/13 in this series. Hopefully, this series will see that the Pelicans need an elite guard to pair with Davis. An X-Factor in this series? Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic won’t stop Davis, but he’ll have the ability to at least make Davis defend a bit more, and be physical with him.

2- Golden State Warriors vs 7 – San Antonio Spurs

Watchability – 0.75

The Golden State Warriors are the defending champs. I remember when the Warriors used to stink. Stephen Curry is my favorite player (and has been since he was at Davidson),  so the Warriors have a soft spot in my heart regardless. I mean, what else should I even say about them other than the fact that they’ve looked pathetic going into the postseason due to injuries and not giving a shit? We know about Kevin Durant. We know about Draymond. We know about Klay Thompson. They’ve supposedly have been getting ready for the postseason, and without Curry in this round, they got the right matchup.

The San Antonio Spurs. Lol. The San Antonio Spurs. I was hoping the Spurs would get the 8 seed and get swept by the Rockets, but this, this is even better. For all intensive purposes, the Spurs having their streak broken of 50+ wins (I want to say it was like 20 years) warmed my heart. No seriously. I took a shot when I saw that. It’s not like I hate the Spurs, but given the Kawhi situation, and how his own teammates are mad at him for sitting out because he was misdiagnosed from their own medical staff and doesn’t trust him… I love it. I really do. Maybe that’s me being petty, I don’t know and to be honest, I don’t even care.

When you let Tony Parker, a man who cheated on Eva Longoria with Brent Barry’s wife be the voice of reason in the locker room, those are the messy problems we deserve.

Anyway, we know about Gregg Popovich, a man I have great respect for on and off the floor. Pop is probably the greatest coach in NBA history considering this is the least talented Spurs team in the last 10 years, and he got them to this point. LaMarcus Aldridge saved his career, and returned back to his All-Star form.

Prediction – Warriors in 4 quartersEven if Curry were playing in this series, my watchability would go from 0.75 to 1. I don’t care about this series. The only way I would be even interested in this series is if my boy Kyle Madson got in our group text and was panicking over the fact that the warriors lost multiple games in this series. If the Spurs somehow do this with this team, then I’m convinced that Gregg Popovich should be the next president. 

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We get it, LaVar.

This is the only time I’ll address this because I don’t like giving attention to people who aren’t worthy of giving my attention to which is why on Facebook at least, I don’t start these wars about the Twitter eggs who are in federal office (OOF).

The LaVar Ball train has now peaked. It probably peaked last month. Or maybe two months ago. I don’t know. At first, I was cool with LaVar. To some degree, I still am. I’m cool with a father instilling confidence in all of his kids to be the best of their ability, although I would think his style and methods in doing so are unconventional. I can’t relate to how Lonzo and the other two sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo feel about it so I’ll try not to.

Creating your own brand and attempting to do things differently is great. If I had the time, the resources, and the money to do so, I would do it myself.  I support anyone going out there and dreaming about taking on any of the major companies to “change the culture,” as Lonzo Ball himself said in the video yesterday.

Initially, I was gonna write about LaVar Ball and his family this week because I saw a headline about how Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour each turned down an offer to endorse Lonzo, ala sign him to a contract that would allow him to have millions before he signs his first rookie deal this summer. I was gonna write about how ridiculous and stupid LaVar (or the Ball family for that matter) was for trying to make his brand, the Big Baller Brand incorporate with one of those three companies. Then yesterday happened.

I said above that I’m all for creating opportunities, and pushing things forward and being your own entrepreneur. That’s how Nike and Under Armour were created. This… I don’t think this is it, man.

lonzo ball shoes
these look like my Kobe 10s I got for $80 at the Nike outlet

Is the shoe terrible looking? It really isn’t honestly. It’s an off-brand version of the Kobe 10s. It also looks better than the shoes that Stephen Curry wears so, BBB has done something right here. However, the price? $495 for that? That’s not changing the culture. Your brand is not that important to charge a shoe that much.

In the group chat I have with a set of homies, Micah, Shaad, and Kyle, we roasted these shoes for a good bit. Then we realized the fact that we don’t have the slightest clue on who is making their shoes, if the shoe is even comfortable to wear at that price, and the technology on the shoe. It’s just here in the public eye to be laughed at.

This shoe created a stir on my Twitter timeline from people creating memes from the photo above to others defending the price of the shoe stating how regardless, we need to support because we’d buy a pair of Nike basketball shoes at that price. That “it’s okay” for Lonzo to have his own shoe because other athletes, such as Lebron James, and Michael Jordan did.

I rolled my eyes at that. I can’t speak on Jordan because I wasn’t alive and wasn’t thought about in 84,  but I’d bet that lots of people figured he’d be a great NBA player considering he was a known commodity as he left Carolina as a national champion, 2-time All-American, and was the National Player of the Year as a Junior. Nike itself signed him when they were known but still small. We knew of Lebron James since 2002-03 because ESPN showed his High School games and they were glorious.

The last time we saw Lonzo Ball play a basketball game, De’Aaron Fox had Lonzo doing the electric slide on route to a 39 pt game and a Kentucky win over UCLA in the sweet 16. Yes, Lonzo was a player of the year candidate and a 1st team All-American in his lone season at UCLA but he wasn’t on their level as a player.

Also, I’m pretty sure Nike and even Jordan Brand for that matter haven’t charged close to $500 for a pair of basketball shoes, but I digress.

LaVar then tweeted (I didn’t know he had a twitter account) this:

 

I… I…. yeah. If I buy a pair of shoes for $495, I better be hooping like I’m related to Jesus.

 

currently

 

This is where we’re at now. We’re at a point where LaVar took advantage of how the media because of their desire to see the “most ridiculous quotes” and giving that media attention all day. Is it LaVar’s fault that programs such as First Take and Undisputed had him & Lonzo on the air three days after UCLA got bounced in the NCAA Tournament? Absolutely not. Lonzo’s the biggest name in the NBA Draft (I personally don’t even think he’s even close to the best player in the draft). Not because of his play but because of how he’s received media attention.

There was a point where LaVar was on ESPN’s SportsNation every single day for one week in April. That’s not on them. That’s on us for giving his pops all the attention, thus taking it away from Lonzo, the athlete.

I’m not knocking the ideas. I think it’s cool to see something different. However, LaVar could have waited years to launch this, thus waiting for his youngest son to at least attempt a pro career. But he put himself and their family brand in front of the ability that his oldest son was about to receive endorsement money from any company of his choosing.

Unlike others, I do want Lonzo and the other kids to succeed. I want them to achieve their goals of being in the NBA. A lot of people have that dream and that vision to get there. Only a select few are able to accomplish it. That being said, forcing an opportunity and attempting to cash a check early often doesn’t end well. Let’s hope LaVar doesn’t blow it here. The Ball family calls themselves “Big Ballers.” Good luck at your prices trying to convince the rest of us that we are also Big Ballers.

 

Hate #Draymond all you want, but…. he’s kinda good

draymond playoffs
 #Draymond

A lot of people hate Golden State Warriors Forward, #Draymond (If you’re wondering why I just put a hashtag in front of his name, that has been a long standing thing on Twitter from like 2011.) Green.

I understand the aspect of why #Draymond Green has haters while he’s on the basketball court. #Draymond Green is the NBA’s biggest villain on the team that has been proclaimed as “villains.” #Draymond kicks people in the genitals. He verbally went at Lebron James last year in the NBA finals, then got suspended, which changed the course of NBA history (although he had 32/15/9 in game 7 while the rest of his teammates… nevermind). #Draymond’s emotional state is a gift and curse. Green’s antics last year did him in which makes sense.

Personally, I’ve been one of his biggest supporters since he was at Michigan State. #Draymond Green is one of three players to have two triple doubles in the NCAA Tournament. The other two? Magic and Oscar. Elite company. Plus, I’m cool with guys who talk on the court and back it up to a significant amount against the best.

For most, people believe that #Draymond would not be a quality role player without the likes of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and that guy with the last name Durant. In a generation that loves stats and numbers, obviously #Draymond doesn’t have the 25 ppg numbers, and when he’s on the highlights, it’s normally assisting to those three guys above or arguing with an official. However, when you watch the Warriors play, #Draymond is the most important piece to their engine, especially defensively. Some will read that statement and ask, “how can a guy that averages 10/7/7 be that important for a team that has three other all-stars?”

Green impacts the game in ways that in most nights, the box score doesn’t show it. The ability to be a defensive anchor and leader of the 2nd best defense in the NBA (San Antonio is #1) is very important.  The ability to grab boards and push the ball up the court to start their break is important.

In game 1’s victory against Portland on Easter Sunday, #Draymond’s defensive efforts and two blocks in the 2nd half were incredible, especially the one on Damian Lillard.

Green should win Defensive Player of the Year. Not because of these blocks but because in the regular season, he was making plays defensively for Golden State all season long, guiding them to their 3rd straight season with over 65 wins. Green’s final stat line on Sunday was 19/12/9/5/3 was something for the ages.

You can hate #Draymond how you want to. I’m sure he doesn’t mind. However, don’t like your hate blind the facts that #Draymond Green is the heartbeat, the most important player for the NBA’s best team, and a really good NBA player. Flex on, #Draymond.

The NBA Finals?

stephen curry lebron james

So, the NBA FInals start tomorrow after a 25 8 day layoff.

Stephen Curry, the current MVP vs Lebron James, the guy with 4 MVPs and 5 straight NBA Finals appearances. It should be fun. For the NBA’s sake, it HAS to be. Can you imagine if the NBA Finals were bad just like most of the NBA Playoffs? Because let’s face it, the NBA Playoffs outside of the Clippers/Spurs has been lackluster, and disappointing. But I guess, I’m spoiled.

Looking at this series as an observer, I don’t know if Cleveland can you know… win the finals. I know Lebron is an alien, and even though his fanboys speak “efficiency” nonstop, he really hasn’t been that efficient in these playoffs. He’s been dominant in different ways with a weird type of supporting cast that’s featuring Earl Smith III (Jr Smith for those of you who actually don’t know his real name), Matthew “the new white guy everybody hates” Dellavedova, and Iman “I’m afraid of California” Shumpert. It’s been fascinating, especially without Kevin Love, and a banged up Kyrie Irving. Can you imagine Lebron last summer thinking how great this supporting cast would be knowing that in the following June, he’s playing playoff games with a 45% Kyrie Irving and without Kevin Love? I bet he would have sucked it up and stayed in Miami to carry Dwyane Wade through another season.

It’s not to take anything from Cleveland. They’re good, if not great since Lebron came back from his 2 week vacation (you know, the vacation where he went back to Miami, went to the College Football Playoff, etc). The problem is…. everything that Cleveland does great, Golden State does it better. Golden State is the better team defensively. Golden State is a more efficient offensive team. The only saving grace is that Golden State turns the ball over more than Eli Manning playing quarterback, and Memphis kinda showed the blueprint how to frustrate life for the splash brothers (particularly Klay “Ben Savage” Thompson).

Golden State is deeper, talented, and they’re better. Lebron might be the best player in the world, but Golden State as a team and a roster is historically great. At some point, you have to win your first title, and seeing how that hasn’t happened since the 1991 Finals where a team with no finals experience have won (you know when the Bulls had this guy), a lot of people continue to doubt the Warriors because of their lack of experience. What they lack in experience (Btw, enough about how Cleveland is more experienced than Golden State. Only like two guys in their rotation have finals experience. Let’s not count Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and Kendrick Perkins, please. I beg of you), they gain in talent.

Do I think the Finals can be exciting? Sure. But will they?

Well….

I mean….

if Mark Jackson cries on camera knowing that last year, he was coaching this same squad, then sure.

Yikes, man
Yikes, man

If Draymond Green elbows Dellavedova for attempting to take out Curry, then that’ll make things very interesting. But if this series is gonna be dry………

Dubs in 5. 6 at max. And when it happens, I’ll make sure that my guy Aaron Legaspi will do pushups on camera (Give him a follow on twitter, btw).

So that’s that. Questions? Comments? Leave em. We out.

Carolina/Duke could be another classic on Saturday

Before I even get started on this blog, I feel the need to get this off my chest about my personal feelings about Duke University in the most bias way possible. If you’re a duke fan, don’t get all pissy and upset what I’m about to say. If you’re in my family, I know you’re overreact hence why I’m going to say this simple fact about Duke.  If you know me personally, you’ll know I say this at least 15 times a year because to me, it’s the only way I can state my feelings about them.

Fuck Duke University. Fuck their floor slapping. Fuck their charges. Fuck Coach K (In all seriousness, I actually like K when he’s not coaching against Carolina), and most importantly, Fuck those nerds who jump and yell they call the Cameron Crazies. You know what’s funny about Duke? Well for one, they lost to Lehigh in the tournament last year. I know, I know Duke fans. You lost. But it’s still pretty funny that one of the most successful programs of all-time loses to a team that NOBODY heard of. If anything, you made them famous. Besides, Carolina lost to Weber State in 1999 in Seattle (I still get sick thinking about this game because it happened in my own backyard). It happens. Stop your whining and deal with the jokes.

The one thing that I’ve noticed is that whenever a Duke player makes a great play, they always seem to hug each other. Most teams chest bump, but at Duke, it’s more favorable to give a hug. If these players were hugging each other after winning, say the ACC Tournament, or winning the National Title, I’d understand it. But over one great play? That’s why folks invented the chest bump, fellas.

You’re better than that, K

The funny thing about my Duke slander is that it’s not really “slander.” About 85% of Duke fans that I know are actually dope and it’s a back and forth trash talk. In fact, my cousin Chauntelle is a Duke fan and we talk about Duke all the time (Well not all the time. But you get the picture). She knows how I feel about them, but at the same time, I don’t mind Duke winning games but that being said, I’m not saying I want them to prosper ever, because I don’t. But at the same time, I don’t really sit and root against them unless it happens to help Carolina out (See Duke’s loss against Virginia). Most people hate Duke because they win. I hate Duke because it’s a natural feeling coming because my team is their rival.

If you think about it, Duke has helped college basketball but ruined the way they play a bit.  Why do I say this? It has nothing to do with them winning. It has everything with the charge circle that was implemented in the college game a couple of years ago. Duke players used to sit and take charges underneath the basket. See: Greg Paulus.

 

Now that I’ve gotten that mini rant out the way, let’s talk about this game on Saturday.

Continue reading Carolina/Duke could be another classic on Saturday