Damaged Goods

NBA Finals Game 7:  Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers

Remember when the Boston Celtics’ new era big three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen first assembled? Remember how the biggest questions surrounding that team pertained to Rajon Rondo and his growth, maturity and play? Years have passed since those questions, that team in particular was relevant. But the questions pertaining to Rajon Rondo have resurfaced and will more than likely remain for the rest of his career.

At one point of time Rondo was regarded as the best point guard in basketball. He was a better defender than most, if not all. He was a better rebounder than every other guard. And his playmaking ability was second to none. Some would often harp on his inability to score; while others would simply imply that his scoring wasn’t required. Rondo’s overall game reminded people of Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd two first ballot Hall of Famers who led their teams without having to score.

Whenever the Celtics’ games were televised Rajon Rondo would have ridiculous numbers. He had games where he posted 32pts 10reb & 15ast, 10pts 10reb & 24ast and a game where he posted 18pts 17reb & 20ast ( there were some games better than these). There wasn’t another point guard in the league who could impact the game in the ways Rondo did. Point blank period.

Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics

Some thought Rondo was a legend in the making, while others viewed him as a player who was a product of his environment.

After five years of proving he’s among the NBA’s elite, (4x All-Star, All NBA Team, 4x All Defensive Team, NBA Champ,) and finally taking the reigns of being the Celtics’ best player, Rondo tore his ACL amidst a career year (arguably). The Celtics’ championship window closed as well as Rondo’s quest in becoming an all-time great.

Once Rondo tore his ACL the Celtics starting rebuilding. They had already lost Ray Allen a season before via Free Agency. And decided that now it was time to part ways with Doc. Rivers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Although injured, Rajon Rondo’s name was constantly linked to rumors. (Pacers, Lakers, Kings, Rockets, Heat etc.)

With Garnett and Pierce in Brooklyn, Doc. Rivers in coaching the Clippers, Ray Allen in Miami and best friend Kendrick Perkins playing in OKC Boston was no longer familiar, no longer a place Rondo wanted to be contrary to what him, his representatives and GM Danny Ainge wanted us to believe.

The following season (2013-14), Rondo returned to the lineup and played in the final 30 games averaging 11.7 points 5.5 rebounds and 9.8 assists. In the games he played he looked a lot like his former self skill wise, but mentally and physically he seemed a tad bit slow and uninterested.

Following the season the Boston Celtics drafted PG Marcus Smart, who many thought spelled the end of Rajon Rondo’s tenure in Boston. At that point in time the team was no longer being built around Rajon. It was being built for life after Rondo.

Initially the plan was for Rondo to teach, mentor and provide the younger Celtics with leadership. The problem with that was how Rondo wasn’t a leader himself. He needed a someone to babysit him; he was incapable of babysitting others.

In the 22 games Rondo appeared in for the Celtics he was pedestrian at best. His defense had plummeted, his quickness wasn’t up to far, he was a liability on the offensive end, his playing time was diminished and the team did significantly better when he was on the bench. Those observations should’ve been a red flag for any team trying to trade for him; not an excuse on why a change of scenery was needed.

After weeks of killing the Celtics the Mavericks traded for their cancer. ”Allegedly” the Mavericks were getting the piece that would propel to them to the top. Instead they got a piece that stagnated, rather derailed their changes of getting over the hump.

The Mavericks were a poor rebounding team and were very mediocre on the defensive end. With Rondo being a guard who excelled in those aspects the assumption was that he’d change those problems. The only thing that changed with his arrival was how great the Mavs were offensively and their chemistry.

To be fair, point guards generally take a long time finding themselves when shipped to a new team. Instead of focusing on the regular season and his putrid performances there we would always elude ourselves into believing his play would rise in the playoffs like they generally would.

After two playoff games Rondo pretty much quit. Like Melo in New York, Rondo checked himself out and used the injury excuse because he no longer wanted to play. Everything had to be about him.

When you think about it Rondo really isn’t the player, the guy we make him out to be.

For starters, Rondo isn’t a true leader. In Boston he was shielded and coaxed by guys like Pierce, Allen, Garnett and Doc.Rivers. As a rookie he had guys like Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown around. All of those guys mentioned were leaders at one point; some were often cited as great leaders. In Dallas no one outside of maybe Tyson Chandler is considered a good leader. Dirk & Monta Ellis are often thrown under the bus for their leadership skills or lack thereof. When surrounded by subpar leaders (hence another Melo similarity) Rondo’s game folds.

Another knock on Rondo is how he just pissed on an opportunity to compete for a championship. The Mavericks have/had enough talent on the roster to make a legitimate push for a title, but because of Rondo’s arrogance and selfishness that goal faltered.

When evaluating Rondo’s play his game is a bit tedious. He’s a step slower than most of the guards at this point. He can’t shoot in a league where shooting is a necessity. And his playmaking ability isn’t as good as we once thought. If Rondo can’t over dribble and hold the ball for an excessive amount of time his not going to be a great playmaker. In today’s game his ball stopping style (Melo reference #3) won’t fit in most if not all of today’s offenses.

Honestly, the game has moved past Rajon Rondo. He’s not a top 40 player. And he can’t run a team that would be functional in the league today.

Teams like the Lakers, Kings, Heat and etc should stay away. If he quit on a team that close to a championship why wouldn’t he quit on a team that’s further away? If he quit on a team that was in the rebuilding phase why wouldn’t he quit on another?

Max dollars shouldn’t be thrown his way. He’s not that top level guy anymore. And he never will be again. Headcase, arrogant and selfishness are the traits of a team killer. Teams should be wary.

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Twitter:
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Do you agree or disagree with this assessment of Rondo?

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Clippers (3) vs Spurs (6) Preview : Too Early

Los Angeles Clippers (56-26) vs. San Antonio Spurs (55-27)

Los Angeles Clippers v San Antonio Spurs

This series will easily be the most anticipated series of the first round. Before the season started no one saw this as a potential 1st round match-up…. And I repeat NO ONE.

In this series we’ll have star power in Blake Griffin, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Chris Paul. We’ll have two great coaches in Doc. Rivers & Greg Popovich. We’ll also have two DPOY candidates in DeAndre Jordan and Kawhi Leonard competing in this match-up. Oh, and i didn’t even get a chance to mention all of the shooting we’ll see or the guys coming off of the bench.

During the early portion of the season the Clippers were a nice team. Once Blake Griffin got injured and missed over a month of play Chris Paul elevated the Clippers to new heights. He was scoring, defending, rebounding as well as facilitating. His play during that stretch was reminiscent to his days in New Orleans. When Blake Griffin returned the Clips continued to ball and surged to the finish line winning 14 of their last 15 games.

For a majority of the season the Spurs weren’t healthy. Injuries to Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard had the team looking older and slower. After all-star weekend the Spurs switched gears and resembled a team trying to repeat as champs. They were the best team in the league over the last portion of the season.

Having played four times the Spurs and Clippers split the season series 2-2. The Clippers had one 20 point victory while the rest of the games were within ten points.

Starters:

PG: C.Paul vs. T.Parker

SG: J.Redick vs. D.Green

SF: Matt Barnes vs. K.Leonard

PF: B.Griffin vs. T.Duncan

C. D.Jordan vs. T.Splitter

In the postseason the Spurs are 8-3 against Chris Paul all time. In their previous match-up the Spurs swept the Clippers.

Beating the Spurs will be no short order for the Clips this time around. The Spurs have a plethora of shooters, guys who can defend and a lot of willing passers. Playing an up-tempo style fits right into the hands of the Spurs as well because that’s their game.

A lot of things ride on this series for the Clippers as well. They won’t have to deal with a distraction in Donald Sterling like they did last year. If the Clippers lose this series Rivers’ job will be at stake, a roster split up would be pondered and Chris Paul’s legacy would be tainted more. They have to make something happen now.

Keys:

Los Angeles

In this series the Clippers need to defend the three ball. If Chris Paul can lock-up Parker and Jordan continues his play on the defensive end it’ll be hard for the Spurs to generate points. If Parker is having his way, getting to his spots and distributing the ball the Clippers are going to have hell. Off the bench Crawford, Davis and Turkoglu need to be dominant. Especially Jamal Crawford. If JC isn’t on his game the Clips won’t have enough firepower.

San Antonio

Make Jordan beat you from the freethrow line. Contain Chris Paul. Go at Blake Griffin on both ends of the court. If Duncan can take Blake off his game and Leonard can defend Paul like he does every other guard/wing the Spurs will be alright. The Spurs know how to win on the road and they own a piece of the Clippers mentally. (Doc. Rivers is already panicking. On offense the ball can’t be stagnant either. Parker needs to be able to penetrate inside and give his shooters some open and easy looks. If he’s getting to his spots and shots are falling the Spurs will cruise to the 2nd Round.

Prediction Clippers beat the Spurs 4-2. It’s about time CP3 gets over the hump. The Clippers are better than ever and Chris Paul seems to be on a mission. Paul-Blake-DJ-JC will show why they’re ready to make that leap. Fun Fact: The Spurs don’t ever advance after winning the championship in the previous year. No repeating for them.

Grizzlies (5) vs Blazers Preview (4) : Injury Riddled

Portland Trail Blazers (51-31) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (55-27)

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Portland and Memphis are two of the most compelling teams out West. Every year they have stretches during the regular season where they look unbeatable and then around playoff time they become super vulnerable. During the offseason both teams improved their bench to a certain extent and during the season made moves that were supposed to propel them to the top of the conference.

In order to beat certain teams in the West Portland had to upgrade their bench. They swung a deal with Denver that allowed them to bring in shooting guard Aaron Afflalo, a nice two-way player. Memphis on the other hand needed a wing player who could create their own shot, score and defend. They made a trade with Boston who sent them small forward Jeff Green. Both of these moves catapulted each team to newer heights. Each team improved depth wise, scoring wise and defensively. But it only lasted for so long.

Starters

PG: D.Lillard vs. M.Conley

SG: A.Afflalo vs.  C.Lee

SF: N.Batum vs. T.Allen

PF: L.Aldridge vs. Z.Randolph

C: R.Lopez vs. M.Gasol

As the season went on both teams were derailed by injuries. Batum and Aldridge have been ailing and missed a few games here and there. Aaron Affalo has an injured shoulder and starting shooting guard Wesley Mathews is out for the season due to an Achilles injury. Memphis on the other have been dealing with injuries that have pertained to Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Tony Allen. Both teams are still formidable to say the least.

Memphis won the season series 4-0. Most of the games were competitive but Memphis proved to be the better squad.

Keys:

Portland

Despite being the 4 seed the Blazers will be playing this series on the road where they have struggled. In order to beat Memphis the Blazers need to push the tempo. The Grizz often go long periods without scoring and if Portland can hit shots they’ll have Memphis playing from behind. On the defensive side of the ball Aldridge and Lopez must find a way to stop Memphis’ big men. If they get dominated in the paint the Blazers can hang it up.

Memphis

The Grizzlies smothering defense gets a chance to go up against a depleted Blazers. If Conley can contain Lillard and Gasol can disrupt Aldridge’s flow the Blazers will have to find scoring else where. On the offensive end Memphis just needs to pund the rock inside. There isn’t a team in the league that can contend with Memphis’ front court and that should be on full display this series.

Prediction Grizzlies beat the Blazers 4-1. Both teams are dealing with injuries but Memphis is the healthier squad. If Z-Bo and Gasol are dominating the series will end quickly. Having homecourt advantage also is Memphis’ favor.

Hawks (1) vs Nets (8) Preview : Mutual Understanding

Atlanta Hawks (60-22) vs. Brooklyn Nets (38-44)

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A few years back a lot of us were wondering “why in the hell did Atlanta trade away Joe Johnson?” A couple of seasons later we see why. Joe Johnson isn’t/wasn’t that guy we thought he was. He wasn’t a franchise caliber guy and he couldn’t lead a team. JJ benefited from being around players who could already play. Not guys that needed him to make them better. After a few early playoff exits the Hawks grew tired of him and decided it was time to move on. Smart move.

After the trade Atlanta has improved from year to year (top three East team last season before the Horford injury,) while the Nets remained stagnant. DeRon Williams & Joe Johnson haven’t produced like their pay implicates and I think we know why… Both players just aren’t that good. Williams is a system guy (Jerry Sloan in Utah) and JJ is best served as a 2nd or 3rd option (see a few of the early Nash led Sun teams). The Nets don’t have a sense of direction and are stuck in no man’s land.

These two teams met four times with the Hawks winning 4-0. The Nets went 11-5 to close the season sort of ending it on a role. But even with that I just don’t think they’re a true playoff team.

Starters:

PG: J.Teague vs. D.Williams

SG: K.Korver vs. M.Brown

SF: D.Carroll vs. J.Johnson

PF: P.Millsap vs. M.Plumlee

C: A.Horford vs. B.Lopez

This series really isn’t all that appealing. Pacers vs. Hawks would’ve been far more interesting but it is what it is.

The Nets have the talent to make things tough but the question is will they? Brook Lopez is a top 5 scoring center, Joe Johnson is too big of a wing player for the Hawks to guard and D-Will is a veteran point guard who’s played in a Conference Finals before.

Atlanta are the Spurs of the East. They can play inside-out, outside-in, rebound, defend and everything else. Their only downfall might be how they don’t have a guy who takeover late in the game. You can get by with that in the season but in the postseason having a go to guy is critical.

Keys:

Atlanta

They’re the best team in the East but i don’t think the gap is too far. In this specific series Atlanta should be able to exploit Brooklyn’s defense with their impeccable passing. On the defensive end if they can contain Brook Lopez and keep Williams from distributing they’ll be fine. Brooklyn isn’t that good.

Brooklyn

The Nets. If Brook Lopez can establish himself downlow and the bench is performing the Nets can make it a series. Williams is going to have hell with Teague all series long but if he gets him the post he’ll have an advantage. Joe Johnson also needs to have that F*** you type of series great players usually tend to have against a foe…. oops

Prediction Hawks beat the Nets 4-1. Atlanta is just too good for BKN. The real test will be in round two for Atlanta.

Cavaliers (2) vs Celtics Preview (7) : Times Have Changed

Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29) vs. Boston Celtics (40-42)

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In a way I find this series a tad bit ironic. Years ago LeBron’s last game as a Cav was against who? Years later his first series back in a Cavs uniform is against who? Like the Cavs, Boston has went through it’s own mini rebuilding stage. The Celtics got rid of old heads Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, traded away Rajon Rondo & let Doc Rivers walk, replacing him with bright young coach Brad Stevens. This new Celtics team pales in comparison to the old KG lead squad from years past. They may be quicker, more athletic and younger but they aren’t as dangerous as a unit. At least not for the next few seasons.

This past offseason the Cavs went from being a mediocre squad to being a contender. They brought in LeBron James, Kevin Love, Shawn Marion and few other Heat players to shape up the roster. Once starting center Anderson Varejao went down the Cavs brought in Timofey Mozgov and then swung deals to bring in the likes of Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Kendrick Perkins. With pieces being juggled around the Cavs struggled early and often. From mid-March to now the Cavs have been rolling and seems like a lock to represent the East in the Finals.

Starters:

PG: K.Irving vs. M.Smart

SG: J.Smith vs. A.Bradley

SF: L.James vs. E.Turner

PF: K.Love vs. B.Bass

C: T.Mozgov vs. T.Zeller

Both teams are going to deal with the inexperience factor. Outside of Gerald Wallace, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley and Evan Turner no one on the Celtics roster has ample playoff experience. Starting point guard Marcus Smart is a rookie in this league and is still learning how to deal with various aspects of the game. I.Thomas, the Celtics best player, comes off the bench and he’s never played in a playoff game. Boston is in the same position as Milwaukee; young, talented and well coached but inexperienced.

Three of Cleveland’s main contributors (Love, Kyrie, Thompson) have never played in a playoff game. With Boston being their opponent the Cavs will have a nice chance to groom and establish themselves as a playoff squad. If Love and Kyrie aren’t playing at a high level the Cavs won’t make it out of the East.

These two teams played four times this season splitting the season series 2-2. They Celtics swept them in their final two match-ups but it doesn’t hold much weight because Cleveland rested their starters. Sorry not sorry.

Keys

Cleveland

The Cavs just need to play to their strengths. LeBron is the best player on the planet and Boston has no answer for him. If Cleveland can get easy looks and lock in defensively this series will be over quickly.

Boston

The Celtics have the better coach in Brad Stevens and as absurd as it may sound they also have the best PG in this series coming off the bench. (Thomas.) If the Celtics can make LeBron work, keep K.Love out of the offense and contain Smith and Kyire they’ll have a shot at making this series interesting. Winning two straight games at the end of the season against Cleveland was a confidence builder. (Btw Boston finished the season 24-12.)

Prediction Cavs beat the Celtics 4-1. A few games may come down to the wire but in the end LeBron James is the best player on the planet and has no business losing this series. Like the Bulls, Cleveland has a chance to tune up in preparation for a huge second round match-up between the two. All I’m waiting for.

NBA Playoffs Preview (Round 1)

 NBA Playoffs Round One:

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Click on each link to take you to each preview/prediction…

Raptors (4) vs. Wizards (5)

Ryan Fort:  (http://wp.me/p33YLP-E8)

Players To Watch:

Lou Williams, Paul Pierce, John Wall, DeMar DeRozan

Warriors (1) vs. Pelicans (8)

 Fort:  (http://wp.me/p33YLP-Ek)

Players To Watch: Andrew Bogut, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday

Bulls (3) vs. Bucks (6)

 Fort:  (http://wp.me/p33YLP-Ee)

Players To Watch: Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, The Greek Freak, O.J. Mayo

Rockets (2) vs. Mavericks (7)

Fort: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-Ef)

R’Mon Allen:

Players To Watch: Rajon Rondo, Chandler Parsons, Dwight Howard, James Harden

Cavaliers (2) vs. Celtics (7)

Fort: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-Eg)

Allen: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-ED)

Players To Watch: Evan Turner, I.Thomas, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving

Hawks (1) vs. Nets (8)

Fort: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-Eh)

Players To Watch: DeRon Williams, Joe Johnson, Jeff Teague, Brook Lopez

Blazers (4) vs Grizzlies (5)

Fort: ( http://wp.me/p33YLP-Ei)

Players To Watch: Whoever isn’t injured

Clippers (3) vs Spurs (6)

Fort: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-Ej)

Allen:

Players To Watch: CP3, K.Leonard, D.Jordan, Tony Parker

Follow us on Twitter:
@Fortonsportsinc , @RyanDFort & @RmonAllen for live tweets during each game.

Rockets (2) vs Mavericks (7) Preview : City Tension

Houston Rockets (56-26) vs. Dallas Mavericks (50-32)

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Dating back to the T-Mac & Yao collapse against Dallas, maybe even before then the Mavs and Rockets have had a huge disdain for each other. The owners dislike each other. The players dislike each other. Simply put, everyone within each organization dislikes the other. Basketball aside these two cities often get in disputes on which city is the best in Texas. This matchup gives us our first series that features two rivals……. Man this is going to be fun.

The Rockets haven’t been healthy for most of the season and made a few in season acquisitions to shake up an injury riddled roster. Houston brought in power-forward Josh Smith and ex-Maverick (championship squad) Corey Brewer. MVP candidate James Harden kept the Rockets afloat while Dwight Howard was out of the lineup due to a few nagging injuries. With Harden playing at an MVP level, Brewer and Smith leading the bench and Dwight Howard back from injury the Rockets are going to be a tough out.

The Mavericks, like the Rockets, also made a few moves. The Mavs traded for point guard Rajon Rondo and signed forward Amare’ Stoudamire mid way through the season. Before the trade the Mavs were arguably the best offensive team in basketball. After the trade however, the Mavs took a step back in all aspects of the game. With that being said the Mavericks finished the season on a minor role going 4-1 in their last five games.

Starters:

PG: J.Terry vs. R.Rondo

SG: J.Harden vs. M.Ellis

SF: T.Ariza vs C.Parsons

PF: D.Montiejunas vs. D.Nowitzki

C: D.Howard vs. T.Chandler

Mark Cuban has already started the war of words. He claimed Houston wasn’t a good team outside of James Harden and they are a very predictable foe….. Back during free agency Rockets GM, Daryl Morey, said that Chandler Parsons wasn’t a max guy and basically dissed him. To rev things up even more the Rockets traded for ex-Mav Jason Terry knowing they had intentions of bringing him back….

During the regular season the Rockets beat the Mavericks 3 out of 4 times. The games were competitive but Harden just seemed to be too much for the Mavs. There shouldn’t be much stock put into that record though knowing the Mavs are a different club in the postseason.

Keys:

Houston

The Rockets are an explosive team that relies on shooting the three and getting to the free throw line. In this specific series they can’t be a run and gun team. They have to defend and dominate the inside. If Dwight can have his way with Chandler and he dominates the glass the Mavs won’t be able to pose much of a threat. (Horrible rebounding squad.) The Mavericks also don’t have a player that can guard Harden one on one. His size alone is another aspect of the game Houston should take advantage of.

Dallas

The Mavericks are a better offensive and defensive team than the Rockets. The main problem they have is being consistent. In order to beat the Rockets the Mavericks need to force someone other than Harden to score. If they can make shots consistently, rebound and defend Harden the Mavericks will win the series. It’s time for playoff Rondo and playoff Rick Carlisle. If Carlisle’s schemes are being run to near perfection and Rondo is right this series will end quickly.

Prediction Mavericks upset the Rockets 4-2. The Mavericks have more experience and in my eyes just might be the better team in general. Houston lives and dies by the three and they have no clear cut 2nd option to be exact. Harden still has to prove himself to be a playoff guy and Dwight has to prove he’s serious about winning. Too much trying to prove and won’t be enough doing. The Mavericks have it.

Bulls (3) vs Bucks (6) Preview : Defense

Chicago Bulls (50-32) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (41-41)

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The Bulls brought in a whole lot of talent this offseason on the offensive end of the ball. Pau Gasol (low post scorer), Aaron Brooks (scoring point guard), Nikola Mirotic (European star), and rookie Doug McDermott (shooter), all make the Bulls more potent on offense. With all of the new talent as well as the emergence of Jimmy Butler and the defensive prowess of Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose can finally pick and choose his spots without having to forcefully do everything on his own.

Milwaukee has been a bit of a surprise this season. Jason Kidd has coached this team up without having rookie Jabari Parker or center Larry Sanders, two players who were supposed to be vital in this teams growth and success. From top to bottom this team has little to no playoff of experience which usually spells doom.

Starters:

PG: D.Rose vs. M.Carter-Williams

SG: J.Butler vs. K.Middleton

SF: M.Dunleavy vs. G.Antetokounmpo

PF: P.Gasol vs. E.Ilyasova

C: J.Noah vs. Z.Pachulia

Both teams have top 10 defenses and offense that can be lackluster for long stretches. With these two teams being division rivals and right up the road from each other expect a nice old fashioned, physical, defensive oriented series. The Bulls have defensive ace Thibs as head coach while the Bucks have the length and speed to disrupt the passing lanes. Very intriguing right?

The Bulls won the season series 3-1 with all but one game being fairly close. Neither team scored 100 points in any of those games.

Keys:

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls have entirely too much talent to let this series get away from them. As long as they control the ball and force turnovers instead of coughing up the rock themselves the Bulls should win this series fairly easily.

Milwaukee Bucks

To make this series interesting the Bucks have to get into the head of D.Rose and force him to over think and force things. If they can contain the paint and force turnovers the Bucks could potentially scare Chicago… Jason Kidd is going to need to coach the series of his life to be completely honest.

Prediction Bulls Sweep the Bucks 4-0. The Bulls have the advantage defensively, offensively, experience wise and coaching wise. I really see this as a tuneup series to prepare for a 2nd round bout with the Cavaliers…

2015 NBA playoffs: Celtics vs Cavs

  

This is what we’ve all been dying to see, The Cleveland Cavaliers play a playoff game! There are so many intriguing storylines heading into these playoffs but none are more interesting than the Cavs big 3 starting their first championship journey together. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will be making their very first playoff appearances and the world is wondering how they will handle it. Lebron James has a very tall task ahead of him in this postseason by having to inspire and elevate his teammates to another level. 

  

Their opponents however are to be respected, as the young and hungry Boston Celtics look ready to relish in their first playoff experience as a team. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has done a phenomenal job, getting 100% effort out of his players on a nightly basis. With young studs Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner, and Avery Bradley the Celtics will make things difficult on the Cavs at times.

In terms of matchups Cleveland dominates almost all except the reserves. I expect the Cavs to run all over the Celtics for the majority of the series, and a few will be close, but the rest…blowouts. However, I do see Boston winning a game at home with help from their rabid fans. Other than that I see pure dominantion on Cleveland’s part.

Prediction: Cavs in 5 

Warriors (1) vs. Pelicans (8) Preview : Something to Prove

Golden State Warriors (67-15) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (45-37)

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Ever since he was drafted Steph Curry has been proving doubters wrong. His first couple of seasons in the league were filled with ankle injuries, thus sparking the ”what if he was healthy,” line. We’re seeing right now what the answer to that quote would be as Curry is tearing the league up. He’s already in the debate for best shooter ever and he’s arguably the best point guard in basketball. This season alone has seen Curry put the Warriors in elite category. They’re arguably the best team on both ends of the court and only seem to be getting better in each game.

In just his third year being a pro Anthony Davis has already led a team to the playoffs. Playing in a small market Davis hasn’t really gotten the recognition he deserves in regards to him being deemed an elite player. He’s in the conversation for MVP as well as Defensive Player of The Year.

Starters:

PG: S.Curry vs. J.Holiday

SG: K.Thompson vs. E.Gordon

SF: H.Barnes vs. T.Evans

PF: D.Green vs. A.Davis

C: A.Bogut vs. O.Asik

Both teams have been a surprise this season. No expected the Warriors to make the huge leap they did going from Mark Jackson to Steve Kerr as coach. Not too many outside of the city of New Orleans saw Anthony Davis leading a Pelicans team to nearly 50wins and a playoff berth with Monty Williams as head coach.

The Warriors won the season series 3-1 winning the games played at home by an average margin of 21.5 points. When playing in New Orleans the Warriors won a game by six points (OT was needed) and lost by three points in the other game.

Keys:

Golden State

The Warriors have to continue playing the way they have been. Thompson and Curry should be able to light up the Pelicans back court and stifle Anthony Davis down low (Bogut must remain healthy). G’State also has arguably the best bench in basketball having guys like Igudola, David Lee, Barbosa and Shaun Livingston coming in and maintaining/expanding leads of their own. This team is ultra deep and they should be able to use that to their advantage.

New Orleans

The Pelicans are nice young feisty team that possesses a ton of talent. (A coaching change could bring out the best in Holiday, Evans and potentially Gordon.) They can run the floor and they have floor spacers in Ryan Anderson & Quincy Pondexter who come off the bench. To have a chance against Golden State the Pelicans have control the tempo of the game and they have to make things rough on Stephen Curry. If Davis can dominate down low and Holiday contains Curry to an extent the Pelicans have a shot. Tyreke Evans also has to be productive as well.

Prediction Warriors beat the Pelicans 4-2. G’State will win a couple of games by a large margin, but with that being said I’m expecting Anthony Davis to have a Curry like coming out party (few years back against Denver) and dominate one to two games. Tyreke Evans will also be essential in the Pelicans claiming a 2nd victory in this series. The talent gap isn’t too far apart when describing the starting lineups. It’s the bench that’ll kill N.O.