The West has been set for few the last week now and there are a whole lot of storylines going on the West that will make for some great playoff meetings. With the Warriors boasting their All-Star, Olympic, Duel-MVP starting 5 is there a team that will be able to knock them off?
The NBA season has finished and at least for the Eastern Conference it took all 82 games to decide the fate of the 7th and 8th seed. With that now finalised, it’s time to look ahead to the Playoffs and try to predict even though history will continue to prove that we really don’t know what can happen. This year more than any other, the East has begun to feel less and less predictable posing the question – are we starting to see a new generation of teams on the rise?
Alot has happened over the last few weeks in the NBA and if you are like me, you keep your ear to the court to get your updates on whats going on around the association.
Below are a few topics that have shaken up the NBA lately:
ABC Primetime has its second “sit-out” game
Not even a month removed from the headlining Spurs vs Warriors match-up the Cavaliers decided to rest their trio of James, Irving and Love in their game against a fully healthy Clippers squad in Los Angeles. This stirred up a somewhat deserved outcry from fans who were once again duped out of a highly entertaining game in a nationally televised spot with ABC/ESPN. The Cavaliers just recently came off of a great win against Utah at the Q on Friday so their was no real claim for a back-to-back resting spot to fall back on to justify the sit-out.
Irving has been delaying with some knee issues, LeBron continues to play high-volume minutes and Kevin Love has only just returned from his surgery on his knee to round out the report on the 3 stars. Something interesting that was brought up during the broadcast however (which was pure entertainment in itself) was to question why the Cavs chose this game to rest rather than the game against the Lakers the very next night. It would seem logical to do it this way as the Lakers have openly began tanking and a Cavaliers team without their big 3 should be able to handle themselves, as well as this the game is not being nationally televised and the Lakers aren’t drawing the same eyes the Clippers and Cavs are this year by any means.
So how should we feel about the stars resting? Is it fair to the fans, who are being deemed as the group that are suffering the most from this tactic. Is their a solution that the NBA could implement to stop this from happening? For right now, it doesn’t appear that answer is anywhere near being clear and for the time being it doesn’t appear to be stopping as more teams try their hand at the whole “resting” thing.
Most Valuable Question
The battle continues with MVP talks and it does’t appear to be stopping as we inch closer to the playoffs so heres my quick take of the 2 front-runners as of late:
Westbrook: It is becoming increasingly difficult to deny Westbrook of having an MVP season with the most insane stat lines game after game and showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. But even after all the stats and amazing performances somehow the Thunder are finding themselves with a chance to capture a 5th seed in the West. Let that sink in and combine that with the projections for how the Thunder would fair this year and you’ve got a very worthy candidate for MVP.
Harden: Sometimes I can’t help but feel bad for the guys in the MVP race this year, and that certainly applies to Harden some nights more often than not. Harden’s game has been thrown into a complete 180 after coming off a year that had alot of people questioning his leadership skills both on the court and off the court with his teammates. The saviour that is Mike D’Antoni broke out some fresh batteries and stuffed James Harden with them and set him to complete floor general mode. Much like Westbrook, Harden is the beginning and ending for the Rockets, however Harden may have a slight edge over Russell when we look at efficiency and overall selfishness to unselfishness ratio.
With both guys dominating the games for their teams respectively, this is shaping up to be one of the closest MVP races in a long time. So who do you have winning and as the topic of winning record continues to factor in, does that sway your overall choice?
As quick as Kevin Durant went down just a few weeks back, the panic button was hit immediately. Almost just as quickly the Warriors 2 best shooters somehow became human and developed a slight shooting slump, so much so that Curry shot 23-76 while Klay shot 25-66 since Durant’s departure.
While everybody thought the world was ending, its not as if Steph and Klay fell off the face of the earth as the sharpshooting backcourt both averaged 25.9 (Curry) and 23.9 (Thompson) between the Wizards and recent Bucks win. If the Bucks performance is anything to go by, then it would appear that they’ve both reverted back to normal and perhaps could be finding that magic that they both shared during the 73 win season.
With Durant now back with the team and travelling as well as making an appearance at the Warriors training facility with a heavily wrapped left knee, perhaps KD’s return can be held off a tad longer. The Spurs are yet to close the gap on the Warriors for the 1 seed as they now hold 2 games for the top spot. Does the time with Durant appear to be a good or bad thing for the splash brothers?
The 2017 All-Star starters were announced and as always there are disagreements with who made it and who was snubbed.
This week we’ll see Game 2 of the 3 game regular season match up between the Warriors and Cavaliers. As we’ve done since this rivalry started in 2015 each game has been magnified and broken down so much that we think it really has an effect on how the Finals will eventually end.
But does it really matter in the end?
It’s been incredibly easy to dig in and be consumed with some great NBA action this past week. Opening week can sometimes show the ugly side of professional basketball as teams come out of training camp and begin to get into the coveted “mid-season” form.
I’ve heard a few people say it but coming into this season it hasn’t been easy to forget what occurred just a few months back in June – and so far – becoming a faint cloud over this current NBA season.
Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.
The first week definitely triggered an onslaught of hot takes that only exist to drive conversation among the “sports talk” groups. However there were some things that stood out to us at the CC staff post-discussion before the season began.
Select any team to face the Cavaliers in the first game of the season and with the Knicks being scheduled it would seem they drew the short straw. From the first play however the Knicks appeared to have a tiny boost in their step as the newly acquired Derrick Rose drive to the hoop finishing with his signature gather-jump lay-up. As the game progressed the Knicks stayed relatively close to the Cavs right up until the 3rd quarter where the Knicks became the Knicks and the C’s rolled them over and into an eventual 29 point loss.
The game was a direct reflection of a team that stayed together for the majority and have entered the season in great condition physically and mentally. Physically the Cavs are not a question as long as LeBron is at the helm, but the mental advantage this team now has will more than likely land them right back into the NBA Finals for the 3rd straight season. The release for everybody on this roster made everything they’d been through as a group making their bond stronger than simply winning a championship together.
Down in Oregon the team that was once a very promising payoff team is now a scary playoff team being lead by one of the most underrated players in the league. Coming off an All-Star worthy year last season, the Lillard lead Blazers are hungry for more.
It always amazes me how Blazers head coach Terry Stots constantly improves the offense around Lillard and McCollum. They run great PnR’s with Plumlee, Davis and Aminu who can also play dynamically and shoot from range. They always seem to get great energy from their shooters in Crabbe and Harkless who can deadly from doing the simple things while the defense is preoccupied with Lillard and McCollum.
On the other side, the Jazz are deserving of a playoff spot, and so far they seem to have a clear direction for how they want to attack this season. They’ve treated themselves to a good point guard in George Hill who is more than capable of scoring but will also keep the ball moving. If you only saw the boxscore and thought that Joe Johnson’s 29 was a typo, you need to watch the second half of this game as the rebirth of Johnson seems to have engulfed him in Salt Lake City.
Utah was missing 3 of their key pieces in this game of Hayward, Favors and Burkes which could have been a factor in this game being a possible W for the Jazz. It’s clear they missed the offense these 3 can bring and will be something to re-visit once they do finally return to the starting line-up.
I’ve finally given in to my hubris and still refuse to believe that #35 is actually Kevin Durant in a Warriors jersey. It’s become so bad that I find myself shaking my head in disbelief as soon as the Dubs take the floor… EVERYTIME!
Pre-season storyline, here we were with our first meaningful look at the Warriors and against who else but the San Antonio Spurs (thanks NBA schedule makers!).
The Warriors looked incredible during the pre-season but on their home floor on opening night that quickly turned into shaming from fan of the 31 other NBA teams. Everyone tuned in to see a great game which in almost no time at all turned into a thumping by the Spurs and ultimately making it one of the greatest games of the season so far.
The Warriors were met with an onslaught from both Kawhi Leonard and Lamarcus Aldridge along with some great contribution from gamer of the night Jonathan Simmons. The Spurs never once seemed to lose control of the game and the Warriors looked like they were still playing a pre-season game. * It’s only on game but…* the Spurs look ready to top the West and in the meantime continue to encourage Leonard to go after any award or achievement he damn well pleases.
On a bit of a hectic day of NBA action with 10 games being played, most casual fans would have been patiently waiting for the Rockets v Lakers game to begin. Well if that was you then you may have only found out later that this game was both amazing and awful.
The Nuggets are relatively the same this year and while they continue to build team chemistry and grow their young core they showed quite the fight against the Pelicans. The Nuggets survived one of the greatest stat lines in recent NBA history and did so as a team. The eye-popping figure that gave the Nuggets the W was their rebounding with 58 boards and 47 coming from the defensive side of the ball Denver was everywhere the Pelicans weren’t.
Alright, so the Pels lost the rebounding battle (eventually losing the game in the process) but they had one huge positive by the way of Anthony Davis. Davis has been injured for what seems like forever a this point, so much that it cost him millions in contract money. On the Pelicans opening night game however, Davis reminded the city and the league why we all jumped at the chance to crown him an MVP candidate just a season ago. With a 50Pt-15Rbd-5Stl statline he appeared to be unstoppable but none of that meant whole lot when only 2 other players on your entire roster cracked double figure points, 4 scored more than 2 points and 3 others scored 0.
When I saw this game on the schedule I didn’t need a second longer to decide if I was in wholeheartedly to see how this would play out.
First of all, I (Jordan) lead the charge against CC staffers Tom and Rob that James Harden would be my clear-cut MVP winner for this season, and after this game it wasn’t easy to argue. Although, with all that said, Harden’s MVP chances require he have nights like these against LA, putting up 30+ points and 10+ assists. Harden is quite capable of these accolades with his new supporting cast and they didn’t disappoint as new acquisitions Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon dropped 33 points combined.
The Lakers scoring scope was a lot wider than that of Houston’s – they shared the wealth and managed to keep up with the Rockets the whole 48 minutes. This game made it very difficult to gauge both teams when they combine for 29 turnovers each and play the equivalent of an all-star game allowing 134 points combined in the first half!
It was for this reason however that this is my pick for most entertaining game of the week, and here’s hoping that for the Lakers fans they’ll continue to see Clarkson and Russell have these types of games more often.
Theres 2 teams that the Blazers play every season that will continue to grab my attention and I don’t need to question if the game will be anything short of pure entertainment. Whenever the Clippers or Warriors roll into the Moda Center it almost always feels like a rivalry playoff game and the competition is always at its highest.
The Clippers are finally at full health to start another season and with some minor additions to the roster all systems appear to be good but whether or not that will last…. we’ll find out. CP3 and Blake gave the Clips huge games respectively, along with 15 a piece from Speights and Crawford to help give the Clippers the win. It appeared the Clippers were happy to let Damian Lillard try to win the game for the Blazers even when Harkless poured in 23 for Portland, and yet I feel like this was a big red flag for the Blazers.
Going forward, the Blazers won’t need to worry about Lillard’s offense as it will require guys like Harkless, Crabbe and Vonleh to provide the spark and scoring that will push this team higher up the Western Conference ladder and make them even more of a threat than past seasons.
This was amongst the many games played over the first weekend in the league and while its still early in the season the Raptors have a lot to prove this season. This rematch with the Cavs was a good way to kick off the Raps season and it didn’t disappoint.
DeRozan looks to be in a new mode coming into this season and if it remains consistent then not only will his contract seem reasonable, but would likely get the Raptors back in the Eastern Conference Finals. In a game that the Raptors could have won, the Cavs were too much from outside and what they gave the Raptors inside the paint – much like any Warriors statistic – the 3pt shot will do more damage.
The Cavaliers have announced today that they will be bringing back recently appointed head coach Tryonn Lue for a 5-year $35 Million deal with a 5th year option.
It wasn’t too long ago that the rumblings of a rift between Cavs superstar LeBron James and former head coach David Blatt came tot he light and forced the front offices hand in terminating Blatt and quickly promoting then Assistant head coach Tyronn Lue.
After not signing a contract even with the high praise from James regarding his coaching perspective and likeness of the players in the locker room, Lue led the Cavs onto their first championship in 50+ years. This achievement alone along with the franchises superstar endorsement seemed imminent that the Cavs would want to bring Lue back for a few more years.
Now from the highest paid assistant coach to head coach to then helping lead the Cavs to a second finals, Lue was equally praised for inspiring his players to come back from a 3-1 Finals deficit. For the near future at least, it seems clear now that the coaching questions are over in Cleveland.
With free agency wrapping up this past week, there were two important figures in the NBA that are now apart of different stories solely focused on the formation of what is now termed as the modern day NBA “Super-team”.
The Finals may be over but they deserve to be relived just one more time!
What a crazy Finals, I think I can speak for the whole Courtside Convo team and say that this years Finals was one to remember. The history that was made and not made all the way to the many storylines that were built going into the series and during the series.
Take a trip back through the Finals with some great pictures and recap info with this months issue and get ready for a great offseason.
I’ve said it before in this series and I’ll say it again – WHAT. A. GAME.
This was everything we heard as we kept getting deeper into this series as questions kept on pushing the narrative that one team needs to step up and make this thing competitive.
Well, on the last day of the NBA season with everything on the line we, the fans of the NBA, were gifted a Game 7. But not just any Game 7, this was unlike anything that would ever be witnessed – and it was all thanks to storylines.
So with everything this game burdened as the 48th minute buzzer drowned out Oracle it’s only right we should break this down from the top.