Archive for the ‘Basketball’ Category

The Boston Celtics end the 2016-17 Season on top of the East; Playoffs begin April 15   Leave a comment

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Here are the 16 teams that made the cut. The Heat became the odd team out in the East with the Pacers and Bulls both winning their final games of the season. The Celtics clinched the top spot in the East tonight after the Cavs lost their final game of the season (LBJ, JR Smith and Kevin Love all sat out the game). The Celtics, on the other hand won their last game and yes Isaiah Thomas played (LOL!).

Like the last two years, it’s question of who can upset the Warriors and the Cavs–the odds-on favorites to return to the NBA Finals for the third year in a row–which as of right now appears to be nobody. Remember: The Cavs went full-power and curb-stomped the Celtics in Boston last week just to assert their dominence in the East and remind everyone they are the defending NBA Champions. It quickly made you forget the fact the Celtics beat both the Cavs and Warriors on the road last season (Ending the Warriors’ then 34-game win streak in the process).

Speaking of the home team, at the very least they should make it out of the first round this year. It pleases me greatly to know the third overall pick of the 2016-17 NBA Draft–Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown–will be going to the NBA Playoffs while Brandon Ingram (LA Lakers) and Ben Simmons (76ers), who were drafted ahead of him will watch the playoffs from home. I delight in the irony given the 2016-17 draft was viewed as a 2-man draft in referral to Simmons and Ingram. Simmons got hurt during the preseason and missed most of the season while mismanagement within the Lakers front office ensured they would have a losing record once again. LOL.

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….Back to talking about Celtics Basketball though.

Despite the criticism the Celtics received for “only” getting Al Horford, keeping two of their six Draft picks (Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier) and stashing the three they kept in Europe or the D-League (Ben Bentil, Gerchon Jabusele and Ante Zizic) the Celtics are in the same position they were last year: Having the assets to literally get anyone they want.

Looking at the playoff picture (and assuming Avery Bradley doesn’t get hurt like he did the last two years LOL), they should get past the Bulls in 5 or 6 games. It helps they have Homecourt advantage. This will make it the first time the Celtcs get out of the first round since Brad Stevens became head coach of the team (falling to the Hawks the last two straight years).

The Wizards are predicted to advance to the second round so they would play the Celtics after their series with the Hawks. The Raptors and Cavs will have their rematch of last year’s ECF in the second round. The Celtics would be looking to get some revenge on John Wall and Bradley Beal in the Second round series. If the Celtics can get past the Wizards in the second round they’ll likely face the Cavs in the ECF.

…Celtics vs. Cavs in the ECF would be a huge draw =O

Once the NBA Playoffs ends, the big question to be asked is “Will the Celtics pull the trigger on getting a superstar this time?!” Only Danny Ainge knows. Many signs point to yes ^_^

As Paul Pierce plays his final game in Boston, the future of the Celtics is bright   Leave a comment

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…Paul Pierce and Isaiah Thomas. One is sure to have his number added to the rafters after he retires. The other is primed to lead the Celtics to their 18th NBA Championship. This is the first time since the 1980s that the future of the Celtics isn’t in doubt.

Who could have imagined the Len Bias incident would have seen the Celtics drop out of the playoff picture for almost a decade? When Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish retired (1993, 1994 and 1996) and when Reggie Lewis died in 1995, there were serious questions as to weather or not the team could return to who they once were. The ill-fated Rick Pitino era–and then the now-imfamous “Larry Bird is not walking through that door” jab on his way out after failing to lead the Celtics back to the playoffs–made the possability of a 17th Championship feel more and more like a faraway dream.

Then the Celtics signed Paul Pierce in 1999. Three years later Danny Ainge hired Doc Rivers, who led the Celtics to the 2nd Round of the NBA Playoffs in his first year as Head Coach of the Celtics (2002). The untimely death of legendary Celtics coach Red Aurbach (8 Championships in 10 years) in 2006 reminded the team that although they were getting good, they weren’t good enough to contend with the then emerging superstar LeBron James or the favorite to return to the NBA Finals, the Detroit Pistons.

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So, during the summer of 2007 Danny Ainge pulled the trigger on a trade that brought Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Gerald Green (who is now back with the Celtics this year) and 3 other young players. A few weeks later, the Celtics signed Free Agent Ray Allen. Just like that, the Celtics were now contenders going into the 2007-08 NBA Season. 1 year later, the Celtics woyld raise Banner 17 to the rafters.

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As the last and most beloved member of what was then The New Big 3 prepares to retire, the Celtics firmly control their own destiny. Isaiah Thomas, who was drafted last in the 2nd round of the 2010 NBA Draft is 2nd in Points Per Game behind Russell Westbrook this year. He became the first Celtic since Paul Pierce back in 2006 to score 50+ points in a game in December. He has had SEVERAL 40+ games since mid-December including Friday’s win over the Lakers.

I haven’t even gotten to the supporting cast: You’ve got Al Horford (signed with Boston during the offseason), Avery Bradey (when he returns from injury), Terry Rozier and 1st Round Draft Pick Jaylen Brown (A workhorse with LeBron James’ basketball IQ). You also have Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko and Kelly Olynik.

There’s also the Brooklyn Nets picks from the trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from Boston to Brooklyn. Looks like the Celtics are primed to hit it BIG in the next draft to boot: Last year’s draft was just about Ben Simmons (missed half the season with an injury) and Brandon Ingram but Jaylen Brown’s been having one hell of season. Don’t even get me started on the NBA Players who have come up in conversation for a possible trade to Boston before the deadline.

…Getting back to The Truth, he ended his final appearance in Boston with a streak that would remain unbroken: He has scored a basket in every game he’s ever played in The Garden. Fitting that Paul Pierce would score the final basket and his only basket of the game. It would not be enough as the Celtics would go on to win the game 107-102. The three-pointer was more of a token from the home team, who gave him the wide open shot. No doubt the “We want Paul Pierce!” chants during most of the fourth quarter will be a moment he will never forget. As many have said, you can be sure Celtics fans will see more of The Truth after he retires as a player.

 

Speaking of Basketball, let’s talk NBA All Star Weekend   Leave a comment

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It’s just two months away and is the second-biggest sporting event of the first quarter of the year behind the Super Bowl. All Star Weekend is both a celebration of the love of the game and the halfway point of the NBA season. It is also when the trade deadline expires. Although Charlotte was originally chosen to host All Star Weekend 2017, the event was moved to New Orleans in protest of North Carlolina’s controversial Anti-LGBT bill HB-02. Said bill will likely be repealed since the governor who signed it into law lost his job earlier this week. LOL.

Moving on.

Here are my picks for who I think will make Team East or should.

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Starters:

  1. C – Al Horford (Celtics)
  2. F – LeBron James (Cavs)
  3. F – Carmello Anthony (Knicks)
  4. G – Dwyane  Wade (Bulls)
  5.  G – DeMar DeRozan (Raptors)

Bench:

  1. F/G – Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)
  2. F – Paul George (Pacers)
  3. C – Dwight Howard (Hawks)
  4. G – Isaiah Thomas (Celtics)
  5. G – Avery Bradley (Celtics)
  6. C/F – Andre Drummond (Pistons)
  7. F – Jimmy Butler (Bulls)
  8.  G – JR Smith (Cavs)*
  9.  F -Kevin Love (Cavs)
  10. G – Anthony Davis (Pelicans)

Alternates (due to injury, etc.):

  • G – Derrick Rose (Knicks)
  • F/C – Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks)
  • G – Rajon Rondo (Bulls)
  • C – Hassan Whiteside (Heat)
  • G – John Wall (Wizards)

* Out with an injury, may not be back in time for the All Star Game.

…Yes, I think 3 Celtics and 3 Cavs could make the East Squad this year. Horford or Drummond would start but Horford will likely start. The other four starters are pretty likely to happen exactly as shown. The Alternates are basically in the event someone gets injured. Both Wall and Davis are basically being held hostage by bad teams (LOL!). I just put them on the team out of pity.

Antetokounmpo is on the team in part to mess with the announcers and broadcasters who will have to learn to say his name (It’s pronounced “Ah-tee-toe-coon-po”). Seriously though he deserves a slot. IT4 will make the cut barring an injury. I also think Avery Bradley will make his All Star debut this year but could be replaced by D-Rose.

 

…Now, on to Team West.

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Starters:

  1. C – Karl-Anthony Towns (T-Wolves)
  2. F – Kevin Durant (Warriors)
  3. F – Kawhi Leonard (Spurs)
  4. G – Steph Curry (Warriors)
  5. G – Russell Westbrook (Thunder)

Bench:

  1. F – Draymond Green (Warriors)
  2. G – Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  3. G – James Harden (Rockets)
  4. F – Blake Griffin (Clippers)*
  5. G – Chris Paul (Clippers)
  6. F – Paul Pierce (Clippers)
  7. C – DeAndre Jordan (Clippers)
  8. G – Tony Parker (Spurs)
  9. C – DeMarcus Cousins (Kings)
  10. G – Zach LaVine (T-Wolves)

Alternates:

  • C – Andrew Bogut (Mavs)
  • C – Steven Adams (Thunder)
  • G – D’Angelo Russell (Lakers)
  • F- LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  • G/F – Vince Carter (Grizzlies)

* Out with an injury, may not be back in time for the All Star Game.

 

…Not gonna lie, filling in the bench was much easier compared to the East. I threw in Paul Pierce since it’s his last season (according to him and Doc Rivers, anyway). Playing better than he has been so far would certainly help him get enough votes to make the team. The 5 starters felt pretty obvious to me but Jordan could start, too. I struggled a bit finding the Alternates though.

Overall, I would be very surprised if none of the listed players make the final cut. The starters are locked in for sure though. Green and Thompson are getting rubber stamped in of course. Same with Griffin and CP3.

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…Of course, I’m gonna end with my predictions for who will be in the Slam Dunk Contest this time around.

We already know Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon will be back. After the show they put on last year, expectations have been raised. Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown should be expected to make the cut as well: Brown has brought the dunking back to Boston and in a big way. Could this be the year we see LeBron James quit procrastinating and FINALLY enter the dunk contest? Or will we see former champions Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin or even Vince Carter return for another shot at the trophy? Let the speculation commence!

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Footlocker releases Space Jam-themed commercial   Leave a comment

The commercial, which lasts almost two minutes features Blake Griffin, Jimmy Butler, Buggs Bunny and the Monstars.

Here is the full commercial:

It’s been airing on TV for about a week now. The TV spots run for 3o to 45 seconds. The ad serves a secondary purpose in addition to advertising both the original 1996 movie and the featured gear: Space Jam 2 is in the works. The announcement was made earlier this year. This ad will be remembered when the first trailer for Space Jam 2 is eventually released.

The only NBA player confirmed to be in the movie so far is LeBron James. As for why Blake Griffiin and Jimmy Butler were tapped for this ad, they both have a licensing deal with Nike. Speaking of, LeBron James has a lifetime licensing deal with Nike. Weather or not their appearance is the ad means anything in regards to Space Jam 2 remains to be seen.

Footage from the original 1996 movie was used for the animated Monstars scenes. In the first movie, the Monstars stole the basketball skills of Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Shawn Bradley and Muggsy Bogues to challenge the Looney Tunes to a basketball game. In response, the Looney Tunes recruit the recently retired Michael Jordan to lead the team to victory.

See my previous post on Space Jam 2 for my picks on which NBA Players should be in the sequel!

 

 

Former NBA All-Star Ray Allen announces retirement   Leave a comment

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Then Free Agent Ray Allen’s surprise announcement caused a stir this past August when he announced he was returning after being away for two years. He last played in 2014 for the Cavs. Speculation ran rampant in terms of which team would be chomping at the bit to sign the two-time NBA Champion (won with the 2008 Celtics and the 2013 Heat).

…Turns out no one wanted the 41-year old despite his impressive resume. Upon hearing of his retirement, former Celtics teammate and Bulls Guard Rajon Rondo apparently said “I thought he already retired”. Allen, who owns several businesses in Miami never actually retired…until now. Clearly not the end he was looking for but it’s probably for the best.

Ray “The King of Threes” Allen is the ALL-Time Leader in 3-Pointers taken and made–2,973, Made out of 7,429 Attempts–a record Steph Curry would have to play AT LEAST another 10 years to threaten, let alone break (Curry’s record is currently 1,605). Allen was a member of the Celtics when he broke Reggie Miller’s record (2,560), which many thought would never be touched. As the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors proved last year, records are made to be broken. LOL.

Steph Curry is probably the only active NBA Player who as of right now could break Ray Allen’s record in about 10 years. Paul Pierce, who beat Ray Allen in the Three Point Contest when they were teammates (Celtics) is in third place.
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Speaking of The Truth. All three former members of the Celtics’ then New Big Three (Pierce, Allen and Garnett) will have retired come the end of the 2016-17 NBA Season. Pierce is retiring at the end of the Clippers’ Playoff run and will sign a 1-day contract with the Celtics so he can retire a Celtic. KG retired over the summer as well and seems to have already found work as a member of the NBA on TNT broadcast team. K.G. is a legend to both Celtics and T-Wolves fans for separate reasons (he is the best player the T-Wolves ever had and he won his only title with the Celitcs). Pierce will always be considered a Celtic despite ending his career with 3 other teams (The Nets, Wizzards and Clippers).

…It truly is the end of an era in Celtics history overall.

What I’m happy to say is unlike the 1980s with the disaster that was Len Bias (died from a drug overdose the night he was drafted), the Celtics have a bright future ahead of them. Like the experts have said, the Celtics could challenge the Cavs in the East. They are the 3rd-favorited team to reach the NBA Finals from the East behind Toronto and Cleveland.  Unlike the 90s where continuity was a problem after Bird, McHale and Parish retired (1993, 1994 and 1996) the Celtics are a piece or two away from dominating the East like they did from 2008 to 2012.

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Kevin Garnett announces his retirement from the NBA   Leave a comment

 

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The 21-year NBA Veteran and All Star announced his retirement a short time ago. Speculation towards KG calling it a career began yesterday when it was revealed the T-Wolves–the NBA Team his began and ended his career with–bought out the rest of his contract with the team. While KG will retire as a beloved member of the team he played his first 12 straight seasons with (1995-2007), he will always been remembered for his legendary performance as the heart and soul of the 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics. The Celtics came up short in their rematch against the LA Lakers the following year in the NBA Finals but even after he left Boston a few years later, Celtics fans will never forget all that he did for the team and the city to raise the franchise’s first championship banner in 22 years.

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…The timing is very interesting given Paul Pierce announced he would be retiring after the 2016-17 NBA season. Pierce, who played his first 15 seasons with the Celtics (1997-2012) has been the subject of speculation given LA Clippers President and Head Coach Doc Rivers–who himself led the Celtics to their 17th NBA Championship and is a former Celtics player himself–has expressed a desire for The Truth to retire as a member of the Boston Celtics. The obvious assumption is Pierce will sign a 1-day contract but Pierce being shipped back to Boston is a real possability.

The other former member of the New Big 3 Ray “The King of Threes” Allen (Holds all-time NBA record for 3-pointers made) announced over the summer he is looking to return to the NBA this coming season. The Free Agent, who last played for the Miami Heat (winning a ring with the Heat as well as the one he got with the Celtics) has been talking to the Bucks and Celtics–both teams he’s played for in the past. When asked why he is returning after being absent for a few years he replied “This is why I never retired”, which clearly means he has enough gas left in the tank to go at least one more season. The Celtics being the only team that has the money to sign him aside, whichever team takes him will be a contender in the playoffs: He rarely has bad days when he’s behind the line so…yeah.

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Since I’m talking about Basketball, I feel the need to comment on Miami Heat star Chris Bosh’s situation. As many NBA fans are aware, Bosh missed most of the last two seasons due to a serious medical issue. It was announced this morning he was not cleared by the team’s medical staff. This is a situation in which the team is legit trying to protect the player. The player is Chris Bosh, who is married and has 5 children. Former team mate and Chicago Bulls player Dwayne Wade released a statement via social media imploring his friend to keep his family in mind regardless of what he decides to do next.

Miami Heat All Star Alonzo Mourning’s career came to an end 14 years ago due to health-related issues. While it wasn’t career-ending, Mourning elected to retire rather than shorten his lifespam. Celtics fans may remember Reggie Lewis, who died suddenly in 1995 from an undiagnosed heart condition. Here we a situation where enough info is known about Bosh’s health to know NO TEAM would be willing to take the chance of allowing him to play for them. They wouldn’t want the responsability and have the support of the Players Association (the NBA Players’ Union), who will certainly advise Bosh to retire.

NBA to move 2017 All Star Game out of Charlotte; WNBA Players vow to defy league sanctions   Leave a comment

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The decision was announced a  few hours ago by the NBA: The 2017 All Star Game will NOT be in Charlotte next year due to North Carolina’s new anti-LGBTQ law. The timing for this announcement–during the Republican National Convention–is no coincidence. The NBA coould’ve decided to wait until next week during the Democratic National Convention or the week after to announce this but they chose now. The NBA is looking at Indiana or New Orleans to host the All Star game instead while Charlotte could host the All Star Game in 2019–Assuming North Carolina gets rid of its new anti-LGBTBQ law.

For those who haven’t been keeping up with the news, North Carlina’s new HB2 law specifically states all (Transgender) Persons must use the public bathrooms of the gender they were born with. This invasive bill doesn’t just effect those who identify as the gender opposite the one they were born with but those who are either Binary (don’t Identify as male or female) and children/teens who had gender reassignment surgery after birth due to ambiguous genitalia. These are the ones who will suffer the most under HB2. While most states are enacting pro-LGBTQ legislation, some are moving to enact laws similar to North Carolina’s. I would be very surprised if today’s announcement from the NBA isn’t mentioned at the RNC today or tomorrow.

Anyways intended or not, the NBA’s decision to pull out of Charlotte has ramifications that could effect both the Hornets remaining in the city of Charlotte at least in the short term. This also puts pressure on the NFL and the NHL teams that are also in North Carolina–The NFL’s Carolina Panthers and the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes–to chime in as well. I think the latter should be expected sooner or later. No question the NBA has at least discussed the possability of the team being temporarily relocated with the team’s owner, Michael Jordan. Yes, THAT Michael Jordan.

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And now, the other big basketball-related news of the day: As I mentioned before, WNBA players have started to wear the above T-Shirt or a black jumpshoot during their pregame warmup routines. They were wearing the colors to show their support for the recent protests on police-involved shootings and bring attention to the need for dialogue on the subject. Earlier this week, the WNBA fined the Phoenix Mercury, New York Liberty and the Indiana Fever were fined $5,000 each. In addition, individual players from the three teams as well as the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks were also fined $500 each for wearing the black t-shirts.

In response to the fines, WNBA players have started a media blackout in defiance of the fines. They are refusing to talk to the media at all unless it is about the recent shootings until the WNBA reverses its decision to punish players for using their platform for speaking out. Carmello Anthony released a statement yesterday condemning the WNBA’s decision to fine its players and teams.

It is worth noting no such action has ever been taken against him, Lebron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade or any other NBA players for doing the same and more. The WNBA will be pressured to reverse the fines real quick given today’s big announcement fromt the NBA and they will. It’s just a matter of time.

 

…If anything interesting happens with either situation, I will update this post to reflect the new info.

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