Tag Archives: Kyrie Irving

The Kid from Akron, Ohio

  

Man this kid out of Akron. No, not the kid who became a king, and not the kid who was on a national spotlight at the age of 18. The other kid out of Akron. The one who was a 3 star recruit; that wasn’t even ranked. This kid wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and go to Virginia Tech, but they would not guarantee him anything more than a chance to be a walk on. The same kid who was said to not have the same upside as Johnny Flynn or Ricky Rubio after having multiple explosive games at Davidson. The same kid who everyone tried to write off after multiple nagging ankle injuries that seemed like they would be the death of him. 

Now, this kid is the one who dropped 54 points in Madison Square Garden. This kid has broken the 3 pointers in a season record not once but twice. This kid is the one who we all took notice when in the 2013 postseason he single handily destroyed the Nuggets. This kid is the same one who helped lead one of the greatest teams ever to a 67-15 record. This kid is the one who was named the MVP of the 2014-15 regular season. This kid is now a champion.

Steph Curry has become transcendent across the nation. His disregard for taking the most inexcusable shots and being a wonderful gifted passer at the same time is something to behold. You’re going to have players 10-15 years from now that grew up wanting to be Steph Curry. Therefore, I want to end this debate right now. Nobody outside of Westbrook and Chris Paul is anywhere near the stratosphere Curry is in right now. Those two I can accept, but don’t mention all these guys who either have people get buckets on them daily (Lillard), or cannot ever have a winning record without LeBron playing with him (Kyrie).

We’ve all seen how the league is changing towards outside shooting, and Steph is the spear head of that change. Let this sink in for a moment. Before Steph was in the argument for greatest shooter of all time, the argument was always thrown up whether Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, or Larry Bird were the greatest. All extremely efficient but none of them ever took the shots that Curry takes. Curry nearly shot 50% this season, and all you have to do is look up any highlights against the Clippers and Chris Paul to know none of these shots are simple pull ups or spot ups. He’s arguably the best ball handler in the game and he utilizes that to create shots 30 feet from the basket. It’s something we’ve never seen and likely won’t see again for a very long time.

This past season, Steph averaged his least amount of minutes ever outside of the season he only played 26 games in. Most teams couldn’t even get him to play in the 4th quarter unless they were a worthy opponent. He shot 48% from the field, 44% from 3, and 91% from the free throw line. He averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals. He had a PER of 28, led the league in win shares per 48 minutes, and his team was a best 122 points on 100 possessions with Steph on the floor. Steph is on a wonderfully coached team along with crazy amounts of talent all around him. This shouldn’t bring him down as an overall player in any ranking. Jordan had one of the best supporting casts ever in the late 90s and we all agree that he is the greatest player to ever step on to an NBA court, so let’s not try and bring down Steph for the same thing.

In the playoffs, Steph brought his game to another level just like he has every year since destroying the Nuggets. Averaging 28.3 points, 6.4 assists, and 5.0 rebounds all on 45% shooting from the field and 42% from 3. He took the Pelicans’ heat out with that crazy corner 3, figured out Conley then dismantled the Grizzlies play by play, took the MVP runner up head on and came out on top, and took on that other kid from Akron, The King, and kept the Cavs from making any type of comeback scoring 19 in the 4th quarter of the closing game.

This baby faced assassin has a bright future still. The Warriors have a great young core around them that has a good 5+ years left on them. Watch out everyone in the West, because I can guarantee Steph will continue giving defenses hell, breaking the system, hitting shots that you allow 99% of other players in this league to take. Curry is a special talent that wasn’t recognized for most of his life despite being the son of the sharpshooter Dell Curry. He was that other kid who wasn’t being nationally televised in high school. He wasn’t expected to be the next Jordan. He wasn’t expected to even make the NBA as an unranked player and a 3 star recruit. Now he’s making everyone pay and he’s on top of the world.

Warriors (1) vs Cavaliers (2) The Finals Are Here

It’s all been coming down to this moment. The NBA Finals. All the storylines will come to an end with each team looking to capture the Larry O’Brien trophy with just 4 more wins. The Golden State Warriors are looking for their first title in over 30 years, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are looking for their first one ever. We have the most entertaining and best team by record for the entire NBA season against the best player in the world.
The Cavs have had to go through multiple injuries throughout this years playoffs but still have managed to come out on top in the East; all because of one player by the name of LeBron James. With Love completely out of the picture, they’ve had Tristan Thompson step up and make plenty of noise this postseason. Thompson’s offensive rebounding has sparked the Cavs and it looks like Cleveland could be even better than before if Kyrie can get back to 100%. Kyrie will have to be huge for the Cavs to have a chance against their opponents.

 

The Warriors have looked like the best team in the league all season long and that includes the postseason. Outside of two losses, (that have only helped the Warriors) they have steamrolled through all of their competition so far. Curry has been nothing short of spectacular this postseason, and Kerr has proven time and time again of how great of a coach he has the potential to be.

STARTERS:

PG: K. Irving vs S. Curry

SG: JR Smith vs K. Thompson

SF: LB. James vs H. Barnes

PF: T. Thompson vs D. Green

C: T. Mozgof vs A. Bogut

Keys:

Cleveland has to be perfect in this series. The Warriors are just too good at too many things for Cleveland to be anything but perfect in this series. Thompson needs to destroy on the offensive boards because that could cause Golden State to rotate out of their small lineup quickly. A lineup that has taken out many teams quickly.

Next, someone has to help LeBron. LeBron is going to have Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Shaun Livingston, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguadala all rotating on him. This series is going to be hell for LeBron with all those guys guarding him, so someone somewhere has to step up and help releive the pressure off the man. If they don’t, the series could look very similar to the prior Finals of 2007 or 2014.

This is Kyrie’s time to shine. The focus will be 100% on LeBron and this is when this man should be earning his paycheck. Golden State has tremendous defense all around, but it’s going to be centered on LeBron and Kyrie HAS to take advantage of that. If Cleveland is to have a chance Kyrie has to step up and score big time buckets for them.

JR Smith can be ridiculously good and ridiculously bad as most know. If he gets hot he can match some of the 3pt shooting on Golden State, but if he’s off he’ll shoot his team out of the game really quick. Cleveland fans are hoping for the former because if you have JR being efficient, LeBron doing his thing, and Kyrie taking advantage of his opportunities, then that’s a recipe for success.
In game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, we saw just how bad ISO ball can get in Cleveland. If they fall back on that like they do so often, then the Cavs simply won’t win. A solution? Move the ball. LeBron needs to do what he does best and that’s penetrate and kick to the open guy. If they fall back on running an ISO offense late in games, then the team will fall apart.

The Warriors are going against a tall task. Playing against LeBron James. Only 2 teams in the last 5 years have been able to beat him, and both times they were the championship winning teams those years. If the Warriors truly want to win, they will have to go through LeBron to do so. The Warriors need to rotate defenders on LeBron constantly. Never give him the same look and get fresh bodies that are able to at least give him trouble.

Steph Curry needs to continue what he’s done all postseason. Pick his spots, don’t force anything, and continue to be the vocal leader of this machine. If Curry can continue doing so, then the Cavs won’t have an answer for him. He’s too quick around screens, has the fastest release in the league, and his handles are on par with Kyrie’s.

The lineup situation will be very interesting. Tristan Thompson should be able to trounce the small lineup with his offensive rebounding, but Cleveland likes to fall on a small lineup of their own with LeBron at the 4. This will be a chess match between coaches and Kerr has won those all season long. Kerr cannot be anything less than what he’s been all season long which is one step ahead of the competition in preparing his team for what they must face.

Klay Thompson has to get his offense going. He was able to get through the Rockets without being needed to score too much, but this is the Finals. Klay has to hit his shots for the Warriors to be comfortable. To make things easier on Steph, Klay’s scoring efficiency is a must.

Prediction: Curry raises the trophy for Golden State after beating LeBron and the Cavs 4-1. The Warriors as an entire organization are on a completely different level right now. From the front office all the way down to the players; the Warriors are a beat above all their competition. I believe in the end, ISO ball will kill the Cavs while the Warriors thrive off of ridiculous Steph shots and precise ball movement. Regardless of what happens in this series, this is a successful season for both franchises as they both have gone farther than they were suppose to. We should all be entertained by these two superstars, LeBron and Steph, engaging in amazing basketball for the trophy.

You can see the other writer’s predictions below.
Ryan Fort: Warriors 4-1 but if Kyrie is 100% Cavs in 6.
R’Mon Allen: Cavs 4-2
Tyler Carter: Warriors 4-3
Jonathan Ayala:Warriors 4-2
Hashim Ashimi: Warriors 4-2

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.

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 

Will The Cavs Figure it Out?

After stumbling out of the gate at 1-3, the Cleveland Cavaliers have won 2 straight albeit against Denver and New Orleans(who is actually a pretty good team). Everyone has been blasting the Cavs for the past week, knowing good and well that it is a process. Any assumption that the team will never be good, based after just six games is just downright ignorant. Despite there being some very alarming things that has been displayed so far.

The Cavaliers defense has been atrocious so far which has been the weakest element of the team. Teams have been able to do whatever they want to do whenever they want to do it. It is very early and saying they aren’t going to figure it out is premature ,but they have some serious work to do on that end of the court. With Lebron James at the helm I would think they will soon figure out how to be effective. Nobody will ever question how good Cleveland’s offense is, as they have already shown glimpses of greatness on that end.

As speculated by many, the Kyrie and Lebron dynamic would be a big obstacle and so far that has been the case. Kyrie has proven that he is an excellent scorer and can put up points with anybody, but the questions that surround him now is centered around his willingness to pass the ball and play off the ball. Lebron James despite, having three 30+ scoring games, has looked very passive and sometimes disturbingly so. The two stars must find a way to coexist together throughout a game without one of them disappearing in the offense for an extensive period of time. Even though last game they looked like they were starting to get a feel for one another, they must find a way to do it on a consistent basis in order to be truly great.

The last red flag that the Cavs have raised is their bench which has been one of the worst in the league so far. If Coach David Blatt has permanently moved guard Dion Waiters to the Sixth-Man role it would have be the best move he has made so far. With Waiters and Tristan Thompson of the the bench, Cleveland’s bench should be much more formidable than it has shown to be so far.

Cleveland has shown some bad habits as expected but they have a LOT of time to figure it out. I don’t know if they can figure it out in time to be ready to win a championship this year but they surely got the horses to pull it off.

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Cavs or Bulls?

With the departure of Lance Stephenson and the horrific leg injury to star swingman Paul George, the Indiana Pacers have been rendered completely helpless. As those two were the only players on their roster outside of Evan Turner(who didn’t even play) who can create their own shots. The East’s top seed this past year, most likely won’t make the playoffs. The East champions, Miami Heat will be competitive but will struggle without Lebron James, unless D-Wade is Flash.

That leaves us basically with two teams The Chicago Bulls and The Cleveland Cavaliers. With Chicago getting very nice pieces in Pau Gasol, Doug McDermott, Aaron Brooks, and Nikola Mirotić they seem much more deep than in the past; though they are most excited by the return of Derrick Rose and they are very hopeful that he can stay healthy this year. With the pieces they’ve added, Derrick Rose coming back, and having one of the best coaches in the league in Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls will certainly be a top 2 seed.

Now to the Cavs who executed arguably the best offseason in NBA history. They first signed All-Star MVP Kyrie Irving to a six year extension. They then went out and drafted #1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins only to use him and last years’s #1 pick Anthony Bennett to get star power forward Kevin Love. Oh and they also got the best player in the world in Lebron James, while adding shooters Mike Miller, James Jones and still may add veterans Ray Allen and Shawn Marion. With all that going along with young talent like Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, the Cleveland Cavaliers have assembled an immediate championship contender.

It is already a forgone conclusion these two teams will be competing for the East Crown(considering they stay healthy). It will be interesting to see where the rest of the East teams will fall in line, but there is no doubt these are the Beasts of the East.

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FMOT: @Rmon9

The New Big 3

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With the acquisition of one of the best power-forwards in the game, Kevin Love, the Cleveland Cavaliers have created a new big 3 here in the NBA. With the young star point guard Kyrie Irving and the best player on planet Earth, Lebron James already on board, this is an extremely potent trio and could cause their opponents to have nightmares.

It may take time for James and Irving to figure out how to maximize their potential as teammates, as they are used to playing with the ball in their hands 95% of the time. On the flipside the duo of Lebron and Kevin Love shouldn’t take that long to be great at all. Kevin Love’s skill set fits Lebron James better than any other player in pro basketball. Their feel on the court for each other should feel natural and be automatic.

With Kevin Love being the best stretch forward in the league it should give Lebron all the room he needs to operate and have a plethora of driving lanes. This will be extremely difficult to guard because as soon as defenders collapse on James, he will immediately kick it out and you better believe Kevin Love will make them pay.

Going back to the Irving and James dynamic, the only way they can be effective on the court together is that Kyrie must be able to play off the ball; something he is not accustomed to doing and may find difficult. He must be able to catch and shoot at a much higher clip than he has the past few seasons as he has one of the lowest 3-point percentages in the league off of the catch and shoot. If he shores up these issues him and the 4 time MVP should be just fine playing with one another.

With all three of these stars in their 20s they can compete for championships for many years to come, especially considering how weak the Eastern Conference is at this point in time.

They have the potential to be as good, if not better than the Miami Heat’s version of the big 3. But in order for that to happen Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving must sacrifice parts of their game the same way Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh did in Miami. They might find this much more difficult to do than those two but it can still be done.

Another thing they must do is significantly increase their defensive games in order to be great, but I’m sure it will be done as Lebron James will demand that effort on the defensive end.

It will be very interesting to see how these stars mesh and jell together, it will be a long process but if it is done right they could be very very good. If they figure it out I don’t think there will be anybody in the NBA to stop them.

Cleveland fans should have every right to be excited about what this upcoming season could bring to Northeast Ohio.

FMOT @Rmon9