East and West- Who’s Coming Out?
The 2016 NBA post season is finally here after a year in where the NBA regular season seemed like it took forever to end. Golden State broke the league record for wins with 73 surpassing the 95-96 Bulls and putting themselves in the history books. How do you feel honestly about that? Lots of questions were asked in the last few weeks, some to former players, coaches and each said great things about this year’s Warriors. Charles Barkley said that the Bulls of that year would kill the little Warriors, Scottie Pippen said that they would have swept the Warriors in 4 in a series. Some slick shade but today’s game is different than in the mid and early 90’s. The game has evolved a lot, some good some bad but I think the league is definitely softer but that’s another article in itself. One question for you to think about though, Who’s your favorite out of the East? Who’s your favorite out of the West?
I think Golden State’s road is tougher than in the East because of 2 teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs. The Thunder are led by the best duo in the league in my opinion, regardless of what you may feel about Russell Westbrook, he’s a savage, averaging 23 ppg and 10 assist and has a league high 16 triple doubles on the season. That’s second to only Michael Jordan for Triple Doubles in a season who had 17 of them in the 88-89 season. The knock on him used to be that he didn’t pass enough to Kevin Durant, well, what say you now? If it wasn’t for Curry’s year in Golden State, he would probably be right there as a league’s MVP. His teammate I mentioned, arguably the best scorer in the league, the 6’9, even though we know he’s taller than that Durant, oh, he’s just putting in 28 a night. They are going to cause a lot of problems for teams as evidenced by their thrashing of Dallas yesterday by 30 plus. The Spurs are well, the Spurs, model of consistency for years and this year is no different. It’s the same cast with a splash of youthfulness and one of the best young players in the league in Kawhi Leonard.
67-15 on the year but yet people have kinda of forgotten about them because of the year that the Warriors have had. I think they give the Warriors the toughest out of anyone in the West in a 7 game series because they are veterans, PDG (Parker, Duncan Ginobli) have been there, done that, 5 titles with Popovich as the head and maybe the best coach as a strategist guy in the league. I just have a feeling that they haven’t showed it all to Golden State and Pop might pull out a trick or two when both teams meet up. I do have the Spurs meeting them eventually though, what did you think I would take the Grizzlies over them? I think Aldridge will be more involved if both teams play because there is a clear advantage there for them because the Warriors like to play small ball and it works for them but it can hinder them defensively. I think this is Duncan’s last go around but he’s not going to make it all about himself like someone I know, I think he will be huge in that series when they play. Sorry Clippers, Chris Paul is great but nothing they have done in recent memory makes me think they will do anything this year. Memphis, too many injuries, not enough scoring, my dad had a 10 day with them this year, sad but that’s how the Grizzlies year has been. Portland, no deals, Houston has James Harden but outside of him, who else, Dwight Howard, who hasn’t been good since he left Orlando?
I know Steph Curry is that dude right now, averaged 30 on the year, Klay Thompon is the second best shooter in the league behind his teammate averaging 22 ppg on 42 percent shooting from 3 which is absurd but Curry was 46 percent, that’s even more absurd. Most guys don’t even shoot over 42 percent from 2 but you two guys on your team shooting the cover off it nightly. Curry is of another planet, something we haven’t seen before, on the break 2 on 1, he shooting the 3, in half court, guys hanging on him, he’s still taking and making. Sometimes, it looks like he’s playing against high school kids, making guys fall with his handle, dabbing doing whatever he wants, that’s how good he’s looked this season and this off last year where they won a title. They have other guys who can hurt you as well with Draymond Green who led them in rebounding, Andrew Bogut and player who doesn’t get a lot of credit, Shawn Livington who kills with his post-up game from the guard position. Andre Iguodala is another versatile guy who defends multiple spots and can make shots. I just have this feeling about San Antonio, it’s like they turn it on every other year and I love Popovich and the games that he plays within the game The Spurs will need a big time playoff series from Danny Green another veteran and David West who always seems to play big in the playoffs. This is what he was brought to the Spurs for, now it’s time to see it. If they can’t get key contributions, the Warriors will handle them but I like the Spurs chances and I pick them to come out of the West.
In the East, I think it’s the Cavaliers coming out because I can’t see anyone beating them in a 7 game series in their conference. I know the Raptors are good with Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan, Detroit is a tough team with the best rebounder in the league in Andre Drummond a guy who could be an all-star, Reggie Jackson. The Hawks, Celtics and Hornets all had the same record at 48-34 this year but to me, the Miami Heat are their biggest opposition. I think star power this time of the year is where it’s at and Miami has a future first ballot hall of famer in Dwayne Wade. All those teams I mentioned have good players, a few of them all stars in their own right but how many of them are on Wade’s level? Can take a game over, even at his age, through all the miles and bumps on those legs, Wade is still Wade and very capable. He’s stayed injury free for the most part so we know he’s fresher than he has been in the past at this time of the year which is a great for Miami. Joe Johnson was a nice pick up when he chose the Heat over the Cavs, at a time when they needed after Chris Bosh went down. Not having Bosh isn’t what fans envisioned but Johnson has been a welcomed sight and Hassan Whiteside has continued to get better and better. He’s the best shot blocker in the league and improving offensively but he has mentor help in Amare Stoudemire and a good young shooter from the University of Tennessee, Josh Richardson. Goran Dragic was a fringe all-star with the Suns and is kind of underrated among point guards in the world’s best league. I would love to say a Wade Lebron match-up, his old stomping grounds, where he won his first two titles and going at it with his guy in the Eastern Conference finals would be epic.
Remember that star power thing I was telling you about? The takeover type guys, the reason I give Cleveland the nod out East, Lebron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. I know most reading, probably don’t like Lebron but to some, still the best player in the game, different from Curry but results nonetheless, you can’t deny. 25 a night, 6 assist and 7 boards a night are great numbers but ho hum numbers for him and his impact is over looked by most because he’s been doing numbers for years. Kyrie Irving is one of the best scoring point guards I’ve seen, off the jumper, step back, the 3, floater game, everything is at his disposal. He had 31 today and Kevin Love, the forgotten amigo had 28 and 13 today as all 3 combined for 81 points and 24 rebounds. Tristan Thompson is great rebounder especially on the offensive glass, JR Smith was third in the league in 3 point makes and they have good role guys who do their jobs in Mozgov who’s been down from last year but solid still, Richard Jefferson and Matthew Delladova. Mo Williams and Iman Shumphert will also contribute to, defensively and offensively at some point if both can stay healthy. The one thing that bothers me about Cleveland though, their outside shooting, it’s not great but good and in the playoffs, that can get you beat. Not saying they are going to win the title but I do think, this is your team out of Eastern Conference.
Don’t ask me whose winning, I haven’t made up my mind yet but I guess I will get into that in the coming days and when I do, I will tell you my reasons why.