Previewing Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs Inside the Bubble

Take a look at our predictions for every first-round matchup in the playoffs.

The NBA returned inside the Orlando bubble at the end of July and things couldn’t have gone much smoother. Gameplay’s been intense, presentation for the fans feels like real games, and most importantly, ZERO players have tested positive for COVID-19 since August 5th.

The regular-season games have given us plenty of storylines, as the Blazers have been carried by Damian Lillard’s heroics playing as a man possessed, the undefeated Suns became basketball’s darlings, Russell Westbrook’s thigh injury has thrown a wrench into the Rockets championship dreams, and title favorites Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks don’t seem to be as much of Finals locks as we once thought back in March.

With the Blazers clinching the right to take their shot at the one-seeded Lakers on Saturday to fill out the playoff picture, check out our predictions for the entire first round below. Tip-off is slated for Monday at 1:30 pm ET with game 1 of the Nuggets-Jazz series.

NBA-playoff-bracket-2020-Updated-standings-Round-1-projections

Eastern Conference:

(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (8) Orlando Magic

The bubble hasn’t been too kind to the hometeam Magic. Orlando, who went 3-5 in the restart, lost the promising Jonathan Isaac to a torn ACL, which should sideline him through next season. Milwaukee hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders since the restart, but cruised to the one-seed and now the real pressure is on for the favorite Bucks to roll through the Eastern Conference. Giannis has been on a mission this season (he’s the favorite for MVP and DPOY) and the Magic should be a light tune-up for him as Milwaukee sweeps.

Bucks in 4

(2) Toronto Raptors vs. (7) Brooklyn Nets

The 2019 champs are a bonafide threat to defend their throne and possibly repeat. I, for one, didn’t believe the Raptors would be this good (finished with the best winning percentage in franchise history) with Leonard heading to the West Coast, which should be a credit to my COTY Nick Nurse and the supporting cast taking their games to the next level.

As for the Nets, nobody could’ve seen a 5-3 bubble trip with a makeshift roster possible. Fans have to be thrilled with the team’s effort, but we know this is all about next year for them. Toronto’s size and depth should give the Nets fits all series, who shouldn’t leave Orlando with their heads hanging low.

Raptors in 4

tenor (2)

(3) Boston Celtics vs. (6) Philadelphia 76ers

I want to throw up every time I think back to my pre-season prediction of having the 76ers coming out of the East, as Philly couldn’t be further from contenders right now. A logjam in the frontcourt and a coach that doesn’t know how to deploy his talent, and now minus Ben Simmons combined with a banged-up Embiid, this is the recipe for disaster in Philly. Tatum and Brown have evolved into a dynamic duo on the wing to lead the C’s. As long as Kemba and Hayward stay healthy, this team has a shot to make some noise in the East.

Celtics in 5

(4) Indiana Pacers vs. (5) Miami Heat

This will be the most competitive series in the East. A pair of teams that overperformed this year. Most people will be drawn to the theatrics of Jimmy Butler vs. Bubble MVP T.J. Warren, but my focus is on MIP candidate Bam Adebayo’s ability to control both ends and sharpshooters Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson pushing the Heat over the top to take a hard-fought 7-game series. Miami also has the coaching advantage with Spo > Nate McMillan.

Heat in 7

1187276902.jpg

Western Conference:

(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (8) Portland Trail Blazers

This isn’t your typical 1-8 matchup. Every Blazer game has felt like a playoff game, as they roll into the post-season on a four-game winning streak. At times, their defense has been dreadful against lesser competition, so I fully expect LeBron to dominate this series and get whatever he pleases when exploiting Portland’s forwards. On the flip side, the Lakers don’t have anyone to answer for Dame, who should be able to steal a game or two by himself with his Bubble MVP heroics. Let’s just hope his tank doesn’t run out of gas (Blazers were a -13 on Saturday against the Grizzlies during his THREE MINUTES on the bench).

Lakers in 6

117149743_650310202531771_7823759292098020392_n.jpg

(2) Los Angeles Clippers vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks

A lot has been made of this juicy series with the dazzling future MVP Luka Doncic writing the first chapter in his playoff journal. In his way stands the title favorite Clippers, who have yet to be at full strength inside the bubble, as Sixth Man of the Year candidate Montrezl Harrell is expected to make his debut.

Even with a historically good offense (highest offensive efficiency rating ever), Dallas has been atrocious in late-game execution, as they rank in the bottom of the league in games decided by five points or less. This should be a great learning experience for Luka, Porzingis, and co. but the Clips dispose of Dallas in five.

Clippers in 5

(3) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Utah Jazz

If this series is anything like their earlier double-OT thriller in the bubble, it should be a classic. Two-man chess matches between Donovan Mitchell and Gobert clashing with the Joker and Jamal Murray are going to be the focus for both coaches, but look for the emergence of Michael Porter Jr. to lift the Nuggets. Injuries to both teams make for a bit of uncertainty, as the returns of Gary Harris Jr. and Will Barton are still up in the air, while Mike Conley just left the bubble to see the birth of his child and will miss at least the first three games most likely.

Nuggets in 6

cpth-UTAHDEN.jpg

(4) Houston Rockets vs. (5) Oklahoma City Thunder

It’s pretty simple; how long is Russell Westbrook out with his thigh injury? If he’s back by early next week, Houston is in good shape. If he’s out for the entire series, the Rockets are in deep trouble. We all know how much Chris Paul wants to stick it to Houston for trading him and how ironic would it be for the Thunder to finally get out of the first round now instead of the Russell Westbrook-PG era.

James Harden is going to put up astronomical numbers, but will he get enough help? Mike D’Antoni is fully committed to the small-ball experiment, so my x-factor for the Thunder will be Steven Adams. Does he get exposed and need to spend a lot of the series on the bench, or does he wreak havoc as a bully on the offensive glass?

Rockets in 7

SlowDeepHornedtoad-size_restricted

 

 

 

 

Official DMR 2018 NBA Season Preview

The 2018-2019 NBA Season starts tonight as teams will fight all year long to lose to the Golden State Warriors in five games in the NBA Finals. If you’re like most fans, you’re hoping for a competitive regular season and entertaining playoffs in order to counteract the fact that the Warriors will win another NBA title. To prepare you for the upcoming season, LordTreeSap and DG listed their over / unders for certain teams, individual awards, and how each conference will finish. Enjoy.

Over/Unders

LordTreeSap:

Spurs Over 43.5 Wins 

The Spurs haven’t won less than 47 games since the lockout of 1998 and that was due to a shortened season. San Antonio notched 47 wins in 2017 with 0 help from Kawhi Leonard. Now, Pop and Co. can move past the Kawhi saga with the addition of DeMar DeRozan leading the Texas franchise to yet another winning season. I loved this bet just a week ago, prior to Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV going down with injuries, but I’m riding with the Spurs until the wheels fall off.

Knicks Under 29.5 Wins

It’s going to be a tough season for us Knicks fans, but it’s ultimately for the best, looking toward better days in 2019. Kristaps Porzingis should be in no rush to return, and with the Knicks owning their first round pick in 2019, this is going to be another rebuilding team. Harvesting the young talent on the roster will sit atop Fizdale’s priorities (besides his smoking wife Natasha). Let Ntilikina, Robinson, Knox, and the rest of the neophytes learn on the job, while keeping the tank moving forward. It’s for the best.

Wizards Over 46 Wins

Throughout the turmoil of 2017, the Washington Wizards still managed to pull out 43 wins, even though John Wall only managed to log half a season. The Wizkids should return to their 2016 form in a weaker Eastern Conference, where they put together a 49-win campaign. Washington quietly retooled their roster, finally shoring up their backup guard spot with Austin Rivers. They also acquired the polarizing yet productive Dwight Howard. Jeff Green could provide support in spots as well. Solid year coming for the win-now Wizards.

DG

Spurs Over 43.5 Wins 

I hate to agree with LTS for fear of a jinx, but this one is a no-brainer for me. The Spurs are the Patriots of the NFL. Until they fall off the wagon, how can you bet against them? Last season was their first “down” year in over 20 years and they still registered 47 wins without Kawhi Leonard. The injury to Dejounte Murray was not ideal, but DeMar Derozan is going to score 25 points per game and lead this team past 43.5 wins. Plus, when in doubt, they have Pop.

Miami Heat Over 43.5 Wins

The Heat won 44 games last year and return almost the exact team from a year ago. However, they are going to be a better thanks to the rebirth of Hassan Whiteside. Last season was a step back for Whiteside and at times, he looked lost on the court. This is the same Whiteside who lead the league in rebounding in 2017. If Whiteside returns to his 2017 form, the Heat will compete for a top 3 seed in the East. Plus, Dwyane Wade’s final ride will motivate this team throughout the year to make the playoffs.

Utah Jazz Under 50.5 Wins

This has more to do with the strength of the conference more than the talent of the Jazz. I love the Jazz. Drafting Donovan Mitchell was a home run for the organization. Just like the Heat, the Jazz return close to their entire core from a 48 win team. However, the West is the superior conference in the NBA and the Lakers, Nuggets, and Pelicans will all be better. I expect the Jazz to win 48 wins again so bet the under.

Individual Awards  

LordTreeSap:

Most Valuable Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo (+500)

It seems like to win the MVP award nowadays, your season numbers have to be accompanied by a cinematic narrative. LeBron should probably win the award again with his narrative juicy as ever, heading west to lead a possible 50-win Laker team to prominence. AD is definitely in the conversation this year as well, but I’m going with the Greek Freak to take home the hardware. He should be able to dominate a middling Eastern Conference with multiple moments wow fans and voters. A more uptempo system implemented by Mike Budenholzer makes the sky the limit, with a stat line eclipsing 30-10-5 well within reach for the year. Milwaukee just has to win more than 45 games.

Image result for giannis antetokounmpo gif knicks

Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard

A rejuvenated Kawhi Leonard should be a treat to watch this year. After only appearing in 9 games last season, the Spurs shipped the 2-time Defensive Player of the Year north of the border to hang with Drake in exchange for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. I believe the 27-year-old returns to form in Toronto, leading the NBA in steals and absolutely dominates the rest of the East in his lone year suiting up for the Raptors.

6th Man of the Year: Lou Williams

We’re going back to back (Drake voice) with Lou Williams, who would tie Jamal Crawford as the only player to win the award three times in their career. Sweet Lou was nothing short of unbelievable, playing at the level of a possible all-star leading into the February break. I expect a similar stat line from Lou Will once again, with his unique lead guard role solidified as the top scorer in Clipper land.

Rookie of the Year: DeAndre Ayton

Simply put, Ayton can do it all on the basketball floor. It’s being reported that Devin Booker will actually be ready for the opener, so we could see the next Kobe-Shaq type of duo begin to take shape this year. Amid turmoil at the top of the organization, the Suns have one of the brightest young cores in all of the NBA and should be a fun team to land on for all my League Pass fans out there.

Most Improved Player: Markelle Fultz

After essentially taking a redshirt year to fix his shooting stroke (mindset), Markelle Fultz comes into 2018 as the 76ers starting shooting guard and the expectations are sky high for the former No. 1 overall pick. As someone who was heavily on the Fultz bandwagon coming out of Washington, I’m staying put with him possessing too much talent to not make it work.

Image result for markelle fultz gif shot

Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens finally breaks through in 2018 with a loaded Celtics team to notch his first of many Coach of the Year honors. Boston should relatively cruise to the top seed in the Eastern Conference and be around the 60-win mark. He’ll ultimately be judged on playoff execution, as most expect this Celtic team to meet the Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals.

DG

Most Valuable Player: Anthony Davis (+300)

It’s time for the “LeBron can win this every year, but let’s give to to someone else” award. If LeBron puts up the same numbers from last year and the Lakers make the playoffs, it’s a wrap. LeBron wins the MVP. However, the NBA loves to reward players on teams that improve significantly. That’s why I’m going with Anthony David. The numbers are there.. Last year, Davis averaged 28.1 points and 11.1 rebounds despite a slow start to the season. If both of those numbers remain the same or improve and the Pelicans snag a top 4 seed, Davis will be holding the MVP trophy at the end of the year.

Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert

The Jazz shocked the entire NBA community last year by not only making the playoffs with Gordon Hayward, but defeating the Thunder in the first round. Donovan Mitchell had a lot to do with the team’s success, but the team’s anchor is Rudy Gobert, thanks to his toughness and ability to defend the rim. Gobert won this award last year after only playing 56 games. If Gobert plays a full year and the Jazz are just as successful, he will repeat.

6th Man of the Year: J.J. Redick

This award all depends on if Redick consistently comes off the bench all year. Right now, Markelle Fultz is slated to start for the Sixers. If Redick comes off the bench, his only responsibility will involve putting the ball in the basket. Redick averaged a career best 17.1 points per game last year. However, if Redick becomes the leader of the second unit of a Philly team that wins 55 games, I could see voters rewarding Redick over Lou Williams.

Rookie of the Year: Luka Donic

Dallas, it’s time to meet the foreigner who will lead your franchise for the next 20 years aka Dirk 2.0. At first, I wasn’t completely sold on Luka Donic. I felt that because of his age and lack of playing experience in the US, it would take time for Donic to adjust to the NBA game. After watching Donic dazzle in the preseason, I can safely say I was wrong. Donic is ready for the bright lights of the NBA. Donic was drafted to the perfect system for his skillset in Dallas and will have Dirk Nowitzki as his mentor. The sharpshooter will win over many fans right away.

Most Improved Player: Josh Jackson

First of all, Josh Jackson said he wants to win this award. Motivation? Check. All kidding aside, Jackson has the potential to have a monster season. In his rookie season, Jackson averaged 13 points and 4.6 rebounds. This year, Phoenix should be one of the more exciting young teams to watch with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Jackson has a chance to cement himself as a top ten two-way player this year. Expect both his points and rebounds to improve dramatically. If Phoenix can somehow compete for a playoff spot and Jackson takes the next step to prominence, he will be in the running for this award.

Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens

In my opinion, this is the easiest award to pick. The Eastern Conference now belongs to Brad Stevens. Frankly, this award is long overdue. Stevens has increased his win total every year as the coach of the Celtics. With LeBron gone and Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward returning from injury, it’s 60 wins or bust for the Celtics. Plus, he’s my doppelgänger so I have to support the brotherhood.

LordTreeSap:

Eastern Conference:

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Toronto Raptors
  3. Philadelphia 76ers
  4. Washington Wizards
  5. Milwaukee Bucks
  6. Indiana Pacers
  7. Miami Heat
  8. Detroit Pistons

Western Conference:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. Houston Rockets
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder
  4. Utah Jazz
  5. Los Angeles Lakers
  6. San Antonio Spurs
  7. Denver Nuggets
  8. New Orleans Pelicans

Conference Finals/Champions:

East – Boston Celtics over Toronto Raptors

West – Golden State Warriors over Houston Rockets

Finals – Warriors over Celtics in 6

DG

Eastern Conference:

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Toronto Raptors
  3. Philadelphia 76ers
  4. Milwaukee Bucks
  5. Miami Heat
  6. Indiana Pacers
  7. Washington Wizards
  8. Charlotte Hornets

Western Conference:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. Houston Rockets
  3. Utah Jazz
  4. New Orleans Pelicans
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder
  6. Los Angeles Lakers
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves
  8. San Antonio Spurs

Conference Finals/Champions:

East – Boston Celtics over Toronto Raptors

West – Golden State Warriors over Houston Rockets

Finals – Warriors over Celtics in 7

Enjoy the season.

Was LeBron James’ ‘The Decision’ Special Ahead of its Time?

July 8th, 2010. LeBron James held an hour-long television special dubbed “The Decision” at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, CT where he would announce his next basketball endeavor, as the 25-year-old entered his prime. And these very words vaulted LeBron into his role as the NBA villain and temporarily broke the hearts of Cleveland fans (and fans of the other 4 teams he met with) to form the unfathomable Big 3 in Miami.

In this fall… this is very tough… in this fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.

Joining good friends and ’03 draft classmates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh brought James over the mountaintop known as the original “superteam” in the Boston Celtics. Bron’s decision has to be deemed a success as he took home a pair of MVP awards and captured back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013 while on his way to 4 straight NBA Finals appearances.

With the backlash LeBron received from “The Decision” in 2010, some of it warranted, James has taken a way more subdued approach to changing teams in free agency. Back in 2014, he announced he would be coming home through a heartfelt Lee Jenkins piece with Sports Illustrated (Sorry Windhorst). 4 years later, James took his talents to Los Angeles via a Klutch Sports press release on the opening night of free agency (July 1) before embarking on a relaxing trip to Europe with his wife.

Let’s look back and examine the repercussions of the biggest free agent move in NBA history, which forever altered the landscape of the association with some more context, eight years later. The 2010 free agency class was absolutely stacked with stars across the board. After LeBron took a 3-year extension instead of five from Cleveland in 2006, he began giving himself the opportunity for maximum flexibility but keeping the pressure on the organization to win.

The digital world was just in its infancy as apps like Twitter/Instagram feeding us breaking news through a smartphone was just beginning to kickstart the digital revolution. Cable television was also still at its peak. NBA free agency wasn’t nearly sensationalized and only a handful of star players had a premier brand. Becoming that level of star in a small market was thought of as a nearly impossible feat.

The writing was on the wall for LeBron to leave Cleveland once Boston put him out in six games in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals of the 2010 playoffs. The last visual left on Cavs’ fans brains was Bron taking off his jersey walking into the Boston Garden tunnel. This already came after Celtic fans mockingly chanting “New York Knicks” at LeBron while he was at the foul line.

Few outlets covered the rumblings out of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where the United States took home the gold, that LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh all agreed to a pact that they would team up during the summer of 2010, but it was just a matter of where that would happen. Bill Simmons mentioned the possible theory during a state of the NBA article for ESPN around Thanksgiving of 2008.

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 5.19.49 PM.png

Fast forward to just days before free agency begins and Steph A. Smith breaks the news that LeBron was headed for Miami (June 28) on Twitter. His follow up statements/Tweets later somewhat recounted his original report, giving him a loophole in case he was to be proved wrong.

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 6.09.58 PM.png

James seemed to be okay with making his final decision by July 6, when his team of reps revealed that their client’s decision would be announced through a one-hour television special on July 8, which had never been seen before. We are officially in uncharted waters by this point.

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 6.10.53 PM.png

The following night, Alan Hahn of Newsday “officially” broke the news that the King was indeed headed for South Beach, taking some edge off “The Decision.” My Facebook memories reminded me of my quality analysis as a pissed off Knicks fan at the time, “This fuckin’ sucks.”

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 3.25.05 PM.png

Obviously, nobody from James’ camp commented on the reports to keep viewership up and just about everyone tuned into the 9 PM special, which went on for about 75 minutes. LeBron unveiled his decision to leave Cleveland at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, CT. with a bunch of the club’s kids behind him to Showtime’s Jim Gray, who, admittedly, hit the Ohio native with some soft scripted questions.

The special went on to raise $6 million in total ($2.5 to the Boys & Girls Club with $3.5 million going to various charities from ad sponsors such as Vitamin Water) and averaged just about 10 million viewers throughout. There was one special guest in the house, legendary artist and friend of the DMR, Kanye West. Yeezy, who is always ahead of his time when it comes to his actions, knew the moment would go down in NBA history books.

kanyelebron.png

West’s stay didn’t last long. Maybe he was looking for some publicity after the release of his radio-friendly “Power” single days prior. The song’s release kicked off Kanye’s redemption tour leading into his magnum opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. According to an ESPN Studio Manager, a motionless Kanye West looked to fall asleep during the beginning of the show and woke up from his stupor and made his way out of the Boys & Girls Club well before the special ended.

Looking back on “The Decision,” there is a lot to be learned. He faced a lot of unfair criticism for having the special, as most seemed to gloss over the $6 million raised just to be mad an athlete didn’t choose their team (Hey, I was one of them too). I thought the NBA was over once the “Big 3” formed, and thinking about it, you won’t find any of those Miami Heat teams on anyone’s top 10 list in NBA history.

The “super team” era is officially on steroids with TWO TOP 12 PLAYERS joining a 73-win team to turn the Golden State Warriors into a bona fide dynasty. I get it that parity is the biggest myth in sports, but come on, 26 teams legitimately have no chance to win anything next year, and that’s being generous.

One criticism I don’t think is up for debate, LeBron needed to notify the Cleveland Cavaliers organization of his decision prior to his announcement, and I believe he realized his grave mistake soon after. At the time, I’m thinking 25-year-old LeBron has everything figured out and as I got older, you soon understand at 25 you are just scratching the surface of this thing called life.

James had some questionable people in his ear earlier in his career, most notably, William “World Wide Wes” Wesley, who had illegally “consulted” LeBron since he began attending his games as a 15-year-old. LeBron has had his every move magnified and debated ad nauseam since he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 17-year-old to the point he has birthed the career of numerous prominent media members (Brian Windhorst, Nick Wright, Skip Bayless).

I love that LeBron ultimately took his free agency into his own hands and used his influence for the good of the masses. Now, was it executed the best way? Probably not. In a world of Woj bombs fighting against Shams and other insiders, I’d like to see players take Bron’s model and get in control of their free agency journey.

shams-woj.jpg

Obviously, 99% of players’ decisions won’t have the impact of a LeBron, but players should capitalize on the opportunity of announcing their decision from a branding perspective before corporations like ESPN do. We’re not far off from ESPN holding a special event for free agency when its start time is inevitably moved into primetime to capitalize on those advertising dollars. This would continue to keep the NBA in the news cycle 11 months out of the year.

It’s interesting to think about how a KD decision special in 2016 or LeBron again this year would be received. LeBron coming home in 2014 comes to mind as a possible missed opportunity at an epic moment.

Paul George gave us a glimpse into his decision to return to OKC with a 3-part special broadcasted through ESPN. The authenticity of the series is still up for debate. Did PG know he was going back to OKC? Why didn’t he take any meetings? Regardless, it was cool to see his thought process, interactions with his agent and Thunder GM Sam Presti. The best part was probably the candid conversation where PG13 received some advice from Dwyane Wade.

“The Decision” is sure to go down in NBA immortality, but will history eventually repeat itself? Only time will tell. Happy 8th anniversary to “The Decision.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LeBron James Signs With The Lakers

LA is now home to a King.

The sweepstakes is over. LeBron to LA is official. LeBron James is going to be a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. No TV special. No article. Just a simple release from Klutch Sports.

I’m not surprised LeBron is going to LA. However, I am surprised he signed a four year deal. Lately, LeBron has been signing one and one deals in order to capitalize on the increasing salary cap and to have control over his future. However, LeBron wants to be in LA for the rest of his career. Is this his last contract? I’m not sure. But signing a four year deal means he is going to build a championship team with the Lakers. Is Kawhi on the way? Only time will tell.

Could LeBron James Turn Los Angeles Into L.A.Bron This Summer?

LeBron James could be headed to Los Angeles. A shift in the betting odds for LeBron’s future team now has the Lakers at minus money. That means you would have to risk more than you would win. RJ Bell in Vegas tweeted updated prices on Thursday. The Lakers were -110. Philadelphia and Cleveland tied for the second-best odds at +450.

This week there was a rumor that LeBron “doesn’t like Houston as a city.” There was also news that LeBron’s son had committed to play high school basketball at Sierra Canyon High School near Los Angeles, but that was quickly shot down by the school.

Los Angeles makes sense for a number of reasons. None more than LeBron’s opportunity to go there and bring in another superstar based on cap space. Perhaps Paul George or CP3. LeBron, however, does not need to go as a free agent. James was dealt to Miami following the 2010 playoffs. This summer could also feature a sign and trade. Cleveland could once again get something in return for losing LeBron. The Lakers would have a chance to deal anybody who did not seem to fit in with LeBron (or somebody who James did not want to play with).

v36.jpg

In an age of Internet rumors, the line shift could be our best indication yet. Gamblers often live by odds movement. They say lines tell a story. Vegas knows. Although it is far from a done deal, we may be on our way to unlocking the summer’s big mystery. Then we will just need to figure out how his announcement is made. Recently Bill Simmons threw out a theory that LeBron is filming a documentary which will announce his decision. Sports betting is now legal in New Jersey. Maybe somebody can get me odds on how his decision will be revealed.

Even in 2010 we saw the choice leak out. It will be interesting to see if this drags on for weeks. That would increase the chances of somebody else breaking the news. It’s hard to believe that intrigue and excitement in the NBA often comes after the season these days, but times have changed. Enjoy the drama.

Video Surfaces Of LeBron James On Bench After JR Smith’s Game 1 Mistake And It’s Devastating

When Ty Lue tells LeBron that the Cavs had a timeout left.

I believe the old adage goes something like, “Never end the game with a timeout in your pocket.” That’s exactly what the Cavs did in their heartbreaking Game 1 loss to the Warriors. To make matters worse, last night, Steph Curry set the NBA Finals record for most made 3s in a game as he lead the Warriors to a commanding 122-103 win to put the Dubs up 2-0 on the Series.

Back to the video. I’m still sick to my stomach thinking about the end of Game 1. To pull out another adage out of my back pocket, the end of Game 1 was Murphy’s Law. “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Boy, did it ever go wrong. It was the perfect storm for a loss. Here was the recipe for “How To Lose Game 1.”

  • The charge call that was overturned to a block.
  • George Hill missing the 2nd free throw despite being an above average shooter.
  • JR Smith dribbling out the clock despite rebounding the ball under the basket in a tie game.
  • JR Smith not passing to a wide-open LeBron James at the top of the key after his rebound.
  • Ty Lue not calling a timeout.

A dive bar covered with rats could not make a recipe as bad as the one the Cavs made at the end of the game. Game 1 will go down as “What could’ve been,” especially if the Warriors sweep the Cavs. As a basketball fan who wants to see a competitive series, it’s hard not to feel bad for LeBron James. The man’s back is about to collapse from carrying this team. A miracle won’t even help him win the series. LeBron needs divine intervention. I’ll say a few prayers myself to help LeBron fill his quota, but it’s not looking good for the King.

On the bright side, at least LeBron looking at JR Smith will go into the Meme Hall of Fame.

LeBron James Makes it 8 Straight NBA Finals Appearances After Epic Game 7 Performance

In his 100th game of the year, after leading the regular season and post-season in minutes, LeBron James played all 48 minutes in a playoff game for the first time since he was 21-years-old in 2006. The 33-year-old delivered an epic game 7 performance in the Boston Garden Sunday night, by absolutely willing his team to an 87-79 hard-fought victory. James finished with 35 points, 15 rebounds and 9 dimes leading the Cavs to the Finals in what could be one of the greatest accomplishments of his storied career.

Coming into the night, you just knew someone other than LeBron would have to step up and get to around the 20-point mark, especially without Kevin Love suiting up because of concussion-like symptoms. Jeff Green ended up being that guy, posting 19 points and 9 rebounds in 42 minutes on the court.

I’ve been more than critical of Green in the past and I was scared Cleveland would have to rely so heavily on him in a Game 7 on the road after a solid performance the previous game. Jeff hit some big shots down the stretch and was one of the only Cavs to create his own shot. He even defended Horford well on a few possessions. J.R. Smith did J.R. Smith things, hitting 3 threes and Tristan Thompson anchored the Cleveland defense and rebounded the basketball.

The game was something you would have expected over 10 years ago in the NBA with tired legs, missed three-pointers, and lacking offense exuded by both teams. It definitely had some entertaining moments though, as Cleveland faced a double-digit deficit early in the first half. LeBron caught one of his signature blocks, absolutely baiting Terry Rozier into a rejection, which James just froze after and stayed on the defensive side of the court in awe of what happened. 20-year-old Jayson Tatum even got to posterize his idol with a ferocious slam on the 3-time NBA champion. We even got a classic flop from Marcus Smart.

James has now won 6 straight Game 7s and this moment proved to be just too big for the neophyte C’s. The best player ever proved to be too much for them to handle in a game of this magnitude as players like Rozier, Smart and Jaylen Brown shrunk under the bright lights.

All of this begs the question of where dragging this 2017-2018 turbulent Cleveland Cavaliers team to the NBA Finals rank in King James’ career pantheon? Jeff Van Gundy called this his greatest achievement to date during the broadcast.

Currently, I have it slotted right behind the 2016 championship and still ahead of leading a lackluster roster in 2007 to the Finals. It’s crazy to think that this could mean more than, say his second ring in Miami, when stacking up his decorated resume. Somehow, if the Rockets win tonight and James up-ends them for his fourth title, I believe you have to make that the greatest achievement of his career.

Appreciate the greatness you are witnessing, people. What LeBron has been able to do is nothing short of extraordinary in his 15th season! Even if this season ends with his sixth Finals loss, the real ones’ know just how special of a chapter it was. I don’t know how much more we will be privy to witness at this level. Now, only the Lakers and Celtics franchises have more Finals appearances than LeBron does.

The greatest basketball player of all-time. Thank you King James. See you for Game 1 on Thursday.

 

“Cavaliers Need to Trade LeBron James and Build Around Tristan Thompson” Was A Real Headline Last Year

Happy anniversary to one of the hottest takes I have ever seen in my entire life. When I last checked in on hot takes in sports media, Colin Cowherd posed the question, “Does Giannis Antetokounmpo have any real impact on his team?” That question is still up for debate (pause). With that being said, I believe this hot take from a year ago would make Skip Bayless jealous.

“Cavaliers Need To Trade LeBron James And Build Around Tristan Thompson.” 

LeBron’s face says it all!

That was a real headline with real words and stats attached to it on The Big Lead. As a fan of hot takes, that’s as hot as it gets. I’m talking ghost chili hot. So for that, I have to tip my cap. However, it’s hard for me to believe that the author actually believed what he was writing at the time. I’m even going to throw this guy a bone. Trading LeBron wasn’t the worst idea in the world especially if he leaves in free agency, but using that to transition into the idea of building around Tristan Thompson is a sin. Even if Thompson had a good series against the Celtics last year, which the author points out, how are you going to build around a guy that can’t dribble, shoot a 3, or create his own shot?

Trading Lebron James…

To build around Tristan Thompson…

I haven’t even mentioned the worst part of the article.

“At 26, Thompson is just coming into his prime. Both professionally and in his personal life.”

*clicks on personal life link*

Oh brother.