Category Archives: NBA Playoffs

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.

Raptors (4) vs. Wizards (5) Preview: Opposite Strengths

Toronto Raptors (49-33) vs. Washington Wizards (46-36)

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After starting out hot both the Raptors and Wizards flamed out early due to injuries and in the Wizards case, trades. The Wizards dealt with injuries in regards to shooting guard Bradley Beal and the Raptors dealt with injuries revolving around starting guards Kyle Lowry & DeMar DeRozan. After the Christmas break the Wizards dropped as a team while the Raptors were inconsistent in their approach as well.

Toronto was a team that could win on the road as well as at home. They have up-tempo style of play and will usually push the ball following a rebound. Point guard Kyle Lowry is their best playmaker while shooting guard DeMar DeRozan is their best scorer in general. Off the bench the Raptors are led by 6th man Lou Williams (3rd leading scorer) and have guys like Greivis Vasquez, James Johnson and Patrick Patterson who can make plays as well.

The Wizards weren’t that good of a team away from home and often struggled in games that required a lot of scoring. During the season Washington made a midseason deal with the Kings trading away backup point guard Andre Miller for another backup in Ramon Sessions. Like the Raptors, Washington plays an up-tempo style but they aren’t nearly as deep and can’t score in a half court set.

Starters:

PG: K.Lowry vs. J.Wall

SG: D.DeRozan vs. B.Beal

SF: T.Ross vs. P.Pierce

PF: A.Johnson vs. H.NeNe

C: J.Valancinas vs. M.Gortat

These two teams met in the regular season three times with the Raptors winning each game.. (103-84, 120-116 OT & 95-93) The first and last time they met the games were in Toronto with Bradley Beal missing each game. The one time Beal did play against the Raptors they lost at home in OT.

Throughout the season Toronto was a top 10 offensively while Washington was a top 10 team defensively. In the postseason, with the game being slowed down the Wizards have the advantage in that aspect. And despite not having home court advantage the Wizards have players on the roster who know how to win on the road (Pierce game 7 of last year Nets vs. Raptors.) and have ample playoff experience.

Keys:

Wizards:

John Wall is the best player in this series & he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder. If he can consistently get to the paint and create opportunities for his teammates they should be alright offensively. When Wall and Beal are sitting the bench needs to step up their play.

Raptors:

Toronto has to lock in on defense if they want to beat the Wizards. Scoring and not being able to defend won’t warrant any type of advantage. If Lou Williams can continue his dominant play off the bench and keep the Raptors afloat offensively the Wizards will be in trouble.

Prediction Wizards beat the Raptors 4-2. Wall and his team were in this same position last year when they played the Bulls without home court advantage. The Wizards played liked a team worthy of being an Eastern Conference finalist at the beginning of the season and I believe they’ll get back to that form in this series.