Tag Archives: J.R. Smith

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.

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The Rivalry Of Yesterday ( Knicks vs Pacers )

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During the 90’s New York and Indiana met six different times in the Playoffs. Each series was intense, entertaining and deserved an encore. After 10+ years of not meeting each other in the Playoffs, the Knicks and Pacers now have a chance rekindle the old but great rivalry.

In the series against Atlanta, Indiana struggled on the road; they also struggled to score. Atlanta gave them hell on the defensive side of the ball, by suffocating the bigs inside and making life tough on Paul George. Without Paul George and his play making ability, Indiana struggled to generate any type of offense. In Atlanta, Indiana seemed to play a level down. They wouldn’t score as good; they would defend as well; and they didn’t make smart decisions. It seemed as if they were overwhelmed by Atlanta’s home crowd. Even with those difficulties they eked out of the series in 6 games. But, with those two problems their chances of beating New York may be hampered.

The Knicks,on the other hand have a couple of minor issues. Those issues are Carmelo Anthony and J.R Smith. In Games 4, 5 and 6 against Boston New York’s offense became stagnant when the ball was in their hands. They would force shots that weren’t there and wouldn’t make the right decisions. Other than the minor problems offensively the Knicks don’t have much to worry about.

Series Analysis
If scoring on Atlanta was tough the Pacers have alot to worry about; New York’s defense is alot tougher than Atlanta’s and can suffocate players defensively ( just ask Paul Pierce.) On the defensive side of the ball Indiana doesn’t have to worry about points in the paint as much. All they have to worry about is the perimeter. If they’re able to keep close out on the 3’s and keep Melo on his heels the Pacers should be able to win this series.

For the Knicks to win this series they’ll have to establish an inside presence. ( I’m looking at you Amare’.) Perimeter oriented teams won’t beat Indiana unless they score inside as well. On the defensive side of the ball New York is going to in trouble. With an undersized lineup Roy Hibbert and David West should be able to have their way inside, especially when Melo is at the four.

Final Prediction
This should be a physical, ugly series. The scores aren’t going to be pretty and no one is going to be lighting it up. After 7 hard fought games Indiana should upset the Knicks, because of their bigmen. But if New York is able to knock down their shots and contain David West and Hibbert the series could very well be different. The likelihood of that happening for four games is very low. Therefore the Pacers should win in 7.
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Analysis of the and Bulls-Heat ( http://wp.me/p33YLP-5A)

Analysis of the Warriors-Spurs ( http://wp.me/p33YLP-4a)

Ryan Fort

Are the Knicks For Real?

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Going into this season people had their doubts about the Knicks. Some people said Amare’ and Melo won’t be able to work together, while others said they lack leadership, size, consistency and defensive players. During the offseason the Knicks focused on those principles. The Knicks brought in Rasheed Wallace, Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton, Ronnie Brewer and Pablo Prigioni. During that time frame they guys like Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields go. By making those moves the Knicks added leadership, size, consistency, awareness and defensive minded players.

While they were adding players to help make the roster go, their four best players were doing things to get better on their own. Amare’ started working on his post game with Hakeem Olajuwon. By adding a legit post game to his arsenal he was suppose to help the Knicks climb the rankings more. Iman Shumpert, the best wing defender they had last season, was recovering from his acl injury so in a way he was getting better. Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler got better by playing for Team USA during the Olympics. By participating in that their games expanded tremendously.

So by adding all of those elements we presumably have a nice powerhouse in the making. A roster that features Melo, Kidd, Wallace, Shumpert, Stoudamire, Camby, Felton, White, Brewer, ( until he got traded), Prigioni, Copeland, Smith, Novak and Chandler shouldn’t have any problem in dethroning the Heat as the East’s Beast, right? No, that assumption is wrong. By fast forwarding the season to where we are now the Knicks season has been injury riddled and filled with inconsistency.

At the beginning of the season they were playing mind boggling D and sharp shooting the 3, as well as moving the ball around to perfection. During that brief span they had two blowout victories over the Heat. The first victory was an emotional game. During that time the New York area was dealing with Hurricane Sandy which dealt a powerful blow to the nation’s most populated city. Before the game Heat players talked about how they shouldn’t be playing and how they didn’t want to play; the end result being a blowout victory for the Knicks. The second game against the Heat they played and won without Melo, but in the same breath Miami has a tendency to get bored and slack off when they’re playing a team that’s missing their best player. So realistically the Knicks haven’t played the Miami Heat. During the first part of the season the Knicks were missing Amare’ and Shumpert. But before they came back Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby went down. Jason Kidd also missed some games here and there and so did Carmelo Anthony. Once Amare’ came back Raymond Felton got hurt and the trend continues. Eventually they signed K-Mart to help out with their injury woes and nothing more.

At the end of games the Knicks have a tendency to stand around and watch Melo go to work with no help. Every so often Melo might pass the ball to J.R. Smith and let him go to work but not much. During the beginning portion of the season they moved the ball around a lot in the 4th quarter which helped them win games. And now that they’re relying on hero ball, something Melo does extremely well, the L’s have started to pile up. Despite all of the on going problems they’re dealing with they have a good record against the top 8 teams in the East, 9-8. OK I lied, that record is very pedestrian. (Keep in mind they lost 91 to 125 against the Pacers in one the recent games.) When playing against the top 8 teams in the West they currently hold a 4-4 record. Overall they’re slightly above average but nothing more. And as of right now the Chicago Bulls, even without D.Rose, the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers are all better than New York. In a playoff series I don’t think New York can hang with any of them, because New York struggles with tough, physical, defensive minded teams. And a case can be made that Boston poses a bigger threat to any of those three than New York does. With all jokes aside, Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks are no more than 2nd round and out playoff team.

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