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?
Week 1 provided some great scoring performances and had us wondering who had entered this season with a new purpose. As we regathered ourselves from the opening week hangover, some teams dropped games while others started gaining some traction.
The second week of the NBA lead with the Golden State Warriors having an overwhelming week of games as well as media coverage that stayed at the forefront for most of the week. However, there were some other teams that deserved to be mentioned with some notable games that captured our attention.
Jazz – 106 | Spurs – 91
Just when you thought the Spurs looked to be ready to go on a run on the league, the Hayward-less Jazz stepped up to the plate and handed the Spurs their first loss and it just happened to be on San Antonio’s home floor.
By the end of the first quarter the Jazz had run up a 10+ point lead on the Spurs and didn’t look to be letting that go anytime soon. Utah gained the lead thanks in part to some very solid 3 point shooting, something that if the Jazz can find some consistency in will make them a threat as the 3 point shot becomes more and more valuable. The Spurs had a different idea as the second quarter started, dashing Utah’s lead of 15 at one point in such quick fashion that it had Patty Mills trying to break the hardwood with his towel.
The last 5 minutes was something that I hope the Jazz continue and should even increase their success once Hayward is included back into the starting line-up. It was their unselfishness and finding the best shot available, and making the shots they found. George Hill kicked it off for the Jazz and eventually with things going so well a Trey Lyles 3 pointer made an appearance. The execution that the Jazz displayed throughout this game looks very smooth for a team that has gained a few new addition, and it is because these additions of Hill and Johnson that they don’t need time to fit into the Utah system.
Warriors – 127 | Blazers – 104
After a win over the Suns and Pelicans coming off of their embarrassing loss to the Spurs the Warriors had the Blazers in their sights as one of the better teams they’ll face this year.
This game had the expectations of a close game and as far as analysis goes, it was anything but that. The Dubs looked reasonably calm from the start and something that stole the show was the Warriors bench and a little bit of crazy Steph shooting. One player that stepped up for the Warriors was back-up point guard Ian Clark who dropped in 22 points from the bench and was seemingly everywhere for Golden State.
On the Blazers side of the ball, they just let the game slip too quickly, as they kept the game close for the most part of 3 quarters, by the time the 4th quarter started the Warriors had begun their margin of separation. One of the biggest “lightning in a bottle” moments was Blazers rookie Jake Layman who stepped into garbage time and dropped 5-7 from three and in just an 8 minute span tallied 17 points. So who is this Jake Layman guy!
Suns – 118 | Blazers – 115
Taking my early vote for the best back and forth, bucket-trading game of the season was the Suns defending homecourt against a pissed off Blazers team who were coming off a loss at the hands of the super-team of Oakland.
It was quite a shock to see just how much better the Suns have been this year with a huge improvement from TJ Warren and guards Bledsoe and Knight. The team still seems to be finding offensive cohesiveness, but in the meantime they can still crush poor transition defensive teams, which caught the Blazers a few times here and there.
In a huge “monkey off my back” moment Brandon Knight threw down a momentum shifting dunk that may have slightly removed him from the NBA doghouse – but who are we kidding, even Brandon knows he’s never going to shake off the run of lowlights he accumulated over the last few years.
I was actually watching this game as it happened and the ending was so worth it, after PJ Tucker got gifted a trip to the line he missed his second free throw to win the game and couldn’t have set it up any better. I was anticipating a Dame Time moment – ok I’ll admit I had some money on the game – but nonetheless it was all set up for the moment.
Well that moment never came and as Lillard fumbled the ball the Suns went back to the other end producing a Bledsoe running banked layup. As I sank into my seat realising it was all too late the man named Meyers answered my prayers.
Overtime was a whole ‘nother beast and that beast was Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe contributed almost half of the OT point scoring and they were the most important 7 Phoenix could have asked for. The Suns have something cooking and what I once thought was a team full of guards, it seems now that the roles have been assigned and everyone knows what their role is on the team.
Warriors – 122 | Thunder – 96
The game that everyone was waiting for in Week 2 arrived with no shortage of media coverage and speculation of what team would do what and who would shake whose hand.
Westbrook’s photography vest shade throwing aside, The Thunder entered the game hot with a 4 game winning streak with the only noticeable win over an oddly distracted Clipper team the previous night.
The game kicks off and the Thunder kick off with great energy getting a headstart on the Warriors by a few points here and there. Almost instantly the team was being questioned and Russ was being elected as the most energetic and hungry player on the floor. By the end of the first we actually had a game, a Jeremy Grant dunk on Durant and a block by Westbrook good enough for a Sportscenter top 10 highlight.
Their were 2 possibilities to how the Warriors came out for the second quarter – either somebody gave transcripts of the hot-takes being given across twitter and halftime shows or Kevin Durant made it his goal to destroy the Thunder’s chances and every other Warrior just followed in his footsteps. It seems that whatever it was Durant made it his mission to get the W before heading back to OKC where I’m at least hoping for a more fired up Thunder team.
Knicks- 117 | Bulls – 104
The Bulls hosted the Knicks in spectacular fashion as longtime Bulls Noah and Rose returned to the place that they managed to build back in 2010 but then struggled to maintain for the years following. That struggle was evident as the fans rained down on Rose as he was introduced with a mix of cheers and boo’s.
As for the game, Rose looked to be in his element, in fact, all the Knicks seemed to be playing extremely well almost as if they finally had a purpose to be competitive. It was exciting to hear Noah audibly screaming at every move to the hoop by his teammates which is something that him a Carlos Boozer should be reunited just to keep me entertained and locked into a Knicks game.
Honestly speaking, even with the loss the Knicks seemed to have the inability to stop Dwyane Wade as he got anywhere he wanted and showed off the type of shooting that will have you rubbing your eyes to make sure you’re not seeing someone else.
My biggest take away from this game – GIVE PORZINGIS THE BALL!. The Latvian phenom was everywhere and it’s crazy to see someone his size, with his skill set not being exploited more in the Knicks offense.
Lakers – 117 | Warriors – 97
Before I even mention the game, we must take a second to acknowledge the Lakers throwback uniforms that they chose to bust out on the ESPN game night. The Lakers went all the way back on these ones and in a way I’d like to think it gave the young Laker team a little more juice that night.
Theres no analysis or detailed breakdown for this one unfortunately, but it had the feeling of a Warriors team that was starting to get rolling and a Laker team that was still getting things in place. I’m not sure what it is about Lakers games, but this is now the second time that the Warriors have been upset by a young and fairly inexperienced Laker.
A lot of Laker fans on twitter throughout the game were quick to appoint Luke Walton the “real coach of the Warriors” making jabs at Kerr during his time spent away from the team when Luke assumed the interim spot. Honestly, it was getting hard to argue the point after seeing the baby Lakers producing great ball movement, cutting, screening which were all things that we see the Warriors do to this day.
With all that said however, this was not the reason the Warriors lost this game.
The Dubs lost this game on multiple defensive lapses, poor rebounding and one giant shooting slump that plagued both Klay Thompson and Steph Curry. Thompson hasn’t really looked right to start the season, and this game was no different as the Warriors continued to try to find the 3 point shot but to no avail. The single slump was so bad that it broke Steph Curry’s streak of 3 point field goals in consecutive games of 157!
Call it what you want, perhaps the Lakers got a break and compounded that with great play and the Warriors simply had an off night. Either way everyone should panic as we watch the super-team go down in flames.
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.
So here we are. After a playoffs full of the best drama that only sports can offer we arrive at a Game 7 in the NBA Finals.
It’s crazy to go back and think of the narrative that was beginning to be written at the start of this NBA season mainly involving the leagues 2 biggest superstars. LeBron and Curry have been deathmatched against each other all season and yet we should now realise that none of it matters now and none of mattered prior to April.
As we finally approach the final game here is storied review of the series so far.
WOW is all I can say after this month of playoffs, absolutely crazy finish. Now we set our sights onto the Finals.
In this issue you can find a complete breakdown of the NBA Playoffs and look forward tot he next issue for all the Final information.
Check it out below: