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Thoughts on the 2017 NBA Championship and the Future of the Golden State Warriors

Well, I can honestly say the NBA Playoffs ended the way I thought they would end back at the beginning of the season. I wrote the following in my NBA pre-season blog post of 26 Oct 2016:

“I am tempted to really pick an underdog to take out the Warriors or the Cavaliers, but I simply can’t .

So,  barring major injuries, I think we will see yet another classic battle between Golden State and Cleveland. The addition of Kevin Durant to the Warriors will make Golden State too much for the Cavaliers and the rest of the league to handle. KD will finally get his first ring.

I was hardly alone in that prediction. Of course, a lot basketball analysts, writers and fans thought the Warriors with KD would  be unbeatable in the end, but it  was still highly entertaining to see Golden State actually live up to the high expectations, defeating a very formidable opponent in the Cavaliers.

With the Golden State Warriors winning another championship and 2 out of the of the last three Finals versus the Cleveland Cavaliers is it justifiable to state that a new dynasty has been born in the NBA? I think it may be a little premature to describe the Warriors as a dynasty, but I think it is likely that we will look back in a couple of years and describe this era as the Warriors dynasty. When you look back at NBA history and other great teams that have been described as dynasties they have all won at least three championships. So, right now I would say the Warriors are on the cusp of becoming a dynasty team , but I think they have to win at least one more championship to be put in that category.

Has Kevin Durant surpassed Lebron James?

Is LeBron James still the best player in the NBA or has there been a changing of the guard? Has the torch been passed? Has Kevin Durant now surpassed LeBron James with his brilliant performance in Finals? I can’t say that I think Durant has surpassed LBJ, but there is clearly not much separating the two superstars. Durant’s MVP award for the Finals was well deserved, but I think it is fair to say that he had the stronger supporting cast. What would have happened if LBJ and KD had switched teams? I think the Warriors would have won the series just as decisively, if not more so.

Can the Cleveland Cavaliers improve their team to regain the title next season?

Honestly, I don’t see how the Cav’s can make changes for next season that would ultimately result in a team that would be capable of defeating the Warriors, but it will very interesting to see what moves they make in the off-season. There has been some speculation that they might trade PF Kevin Love in order to bring in another elite player, but I think the only way that the Cav’s will have any hope of defeating the Warriors in a seven game series would be to add an elite player without giving up Love. If the Cav’s could add an elite swingman and bolster their bench with greater offensive threats than they have right now that could put them back in contention.

 

 

 

 

NBA Playoffs – 2017

I really should have published my NBA playoff prediction post right before the playoffs started, but things have pretty much played out as I thought they would and it looks like the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavs are headed to a rematch in the Finals. That is what a predicted in the pre-season and I’m sticking with that, although I would concede that each team could face some serious challenges along the way. However, baring the loss of a key player to injury, I don’t see either teams being defeated within their own conference.

NBA 2016-2017 Predictions

As a huge Pro Basketball fan I certainly welcome the return of the NBA. I think this season will be fascinating because the of the rivalry between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the teams that won the last three championships and combined have at least 4, if not 5 or 6 of the leagues top 10 players.

Current Title Odds for top 9 teams:

1 – Golden State Warriors                      2-3

2-Clevelnd Cavaliers                             11-4

3 – San Antonio Spurs                            6-1

4- Los Angeles Clippers                         20-1

5 – Boston Celtics                                   20-1

6 – Oklahoma City Thunder                30-1

7- Toronto Raptors                                40-1

8- Atlanta Hawks                                   60-1

9- New York Knicks                               60-1

Like most sports writers, basketball analysts and serious fans, I find it very difficult to pick against the Warriors and Cav’s. They seem destined to meet again in the Championship round of the playoffs.

I do think the Spurs and Clippers are good enough to challenge the Warriors in the West. I also think the Boston Celtics have a real outside shot of dethroning the Cav’s in the East.

I am tempted to really pick an underdog to take out the Warriors or the Cavaliers, but I simply can’t .

So,  barring major injuries,  think we will see yet another classic battle between Golden State and Cleveland. The addition of Kevin Durant to the Warriors will make Golden State too much for the Cavaliers and the rest of the league to handle. KD will finally get his first ring.

Looking back on the NBA Finals and the season ahead

Well, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the NBA Play-offs and Finals this season, even though I was not correct on two major predictions I made. I will explain shortly. I also found the the post Finals free-agency period very exciting. Gosh, it is a real good time to be a NBA player. The league is making a ton of money these days and the players are entitled to 51% of the revenue as a result of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. That means just average players are being rewarded with very lucrative contracts. Makes me really wish I was an NBA agent.

OK, so, going back to the Play-offs and the Finals, I picked the the OKC Thunder to defeat the Golden State Warriors in 6 games and then I picked the Warriors to defeat the Cavs in 6 games. Both teams I picked were up 3-1 and ended up losing in 7….ugh. That is ironic.

I don’t think there was much separating the top 4 teams in the NBA this season, and those teams were the Cavs, Golden State, OKC, and San Antonio. I knew the Thunder were for real when they took out the venerable SA Spurs. Honestly, I still think they should have finished off the GS Warriors on game 6 at home, but they let that game slip away by not playing good D down the stretch. I still believe that Thunder good have gone on to defeat the Cavs if they had advanced to the Finals.

That said, I was very happy to see the Cavs win the championship. It was good to see the City of Cleveland be rewarded with a championship after so many years. Lebron James certainly played his heart out. His block of Andre Ig at the end of game y became an instantly iconic play in the history of NBA play-off basketball. LBJ certainly earned his latest ring, but I was more pleased to see his teammates become Champions after all the hard work they have but in the last couple of years.

Of course, the BIG story of the post Finals was Kevin Durant deciding to leave the OKC Thunder and join Golden State. I’m sure that move will make the Warriors the odds on favorite to win the championship next season, but I still think they are they can be defeated. I’m not ready to concede that they will be a dynasty. Sure, on paper they are fantastic, but they still have to prove it. There is only one basketball and remains to be seen how well Curry, Thompson and Durant can share it.

On a more parochial  note, I was pleased with moves that both NY Knick and Brooklyn Nets made. The Knicks brought former MVP Derrick Rose and his Chicago teammate Noah, as well as SG Courtney Lee. The Nets brought Jeremy Lin back to NY by signing him to a 3 yr deal and he will will reunite with new head coach Kenny Atkinson, who was an assistant coach with the Knicks when Lin first burst on to the NBA scene with Knicks. Lin-sanity returns!! Both teams should show improvement and the intra-city rivalry could grow into something quite intense. Should be a lot of fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few Thoughts and Predictions for 2015-2016 NBA Season

Now, here is a post I really intended to put up before the NBA regular season actually began. However, I can’t say that what I have seen so far in this season has influenced me to change my picks for Conference Champions or League Champion, Coach of the Year or MVP. Rookie of the Year is a different matter and I will explain.

EASTERN CONFERENCE: Cleveland Cavaliers. There are several very good teams in the East, but the Cleveland Cav’s remain the Power team in Conference. Atlanta, Chicago, Washington and Toronto should also be very good. However, I just can’t see any of these teams eliminating Cleveland in the playoffs. When Cleveland is at full strength they just have too much offensive firepower for any other team in the Conference.

WESTERN CONFERENCE: Golden State Warriors. What I initially wrote was this….”This was a very difficult pick to make because I really don’t think there too much separating the top 5 or 6 teams in the West. The Warriors will be very tough for years to come because their core team is fairly young. I also think HC Steve Kerr’s coaching staff is very sharp and innovative.” Ok, after the blazing start the Warriors have gotten off to I clearly have to amend my early assessment. Ah, there actually is a quite a bit separating Golden State from almost all the other teams in the West. However, I still think San Antonio may give them a serious challenge by the time we reach the play-offs and I still can’t totally write off OKC or the LA Clippers, despite their underwhelming start.

NBA CHAMPION: I think the Cav’s would have won the Championship last year if they had LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving all playing in the Finals, but losing both Love and Irving was just too much to overcome. Even after the Cleveland lost Love early in playoffs I thought they still thought their offense was potent enough to win a 7 game series against Golden State. Given the fact that the Cav’s pushed the Warriors to 6 games without Kyrie Irving in all but one of those games

Cavaliers win the Finals in 6 games.

MVP: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors. Look, this is a real toss up. There are so many outstanding talents in the league. I was a Curry skeptic last year. Early last season I did not season he could lead the Warriors to a Championship, but he did and there is no denying his greatness.

Coach of the Year: David Blatt, Cleveland Cavaliers. Well, I’m picking Cleveland to win it all, so I have to go with Blatt to win COY.

Rookie of the Year: Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks. I been have tremendously impressed by what have seen of the Knick rookie. He was supposed to be a project with great potential that might not be realized until several years from now. Forget that, Kristaps is an become a key contributor for Knicks right now. KP is a real basketball prodigy. 7′ 3″ and he can shoot from 3 pt range and put the ball on the floor!?! The 2015 draft featured some truly outstanding Big Men, most notably #1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns and #3 pick Jahlil Oakor I initially thought they would have to be considered ROY favorites, but now I think Porzingis is going to be a real contender for the award.

Predictions for 2014-2015 NBA Season

The NBA has already started and I need to get my predictions in before I’m influenced by the first few games of the season. This year I’m just going to make predictions for the conference champions, NBA Finals, MVP and Coach of the Year. I can’t remember a year when I had a harder time making NBA predictions. I really don’t think there is too much separating the top 8 to 10 teams in the league and I also think that there are at least 5 or 6 truly exceptional players that are poised to have great seasons and that will be in the hunt for the MVP award.

Eastern Conference Champion: Chicago Bulls

Picking the Eastern Conference Champ was not quite as difficult as the picking the Western Conference Champ, but it was still hard because the top two teams are very close imo. I picked the Bulls to win the East, but I think the Cleveland Cav’s are potentially the better team, but that they may lose more games during the regular season because it may take a little longer to fully integrate a team that has many new players and a new coach, but once they fully adjust to playing together, look out! I think the Bulls and the Cav’s will be on a collision course when the playoffs arrive.

Western Conference Champion: San Antonio Spurs

There are probably at least 4 or 5 teams capable of winning the West and I would certainly include San Antonio, the LA Clippers, the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks in that group. I would have also included the OKC Thunder had they not recently lost MVP Kevin Durant and All-Star G Russell Westbrook to injury for an extended period. The temporary loss of those two players will prevent the Thunder for challenging for the best regular season record in the West, but if they both come back healthy that team will again be very dangerous in the playoffs.

NBA Finals: Chicago Bulls vs Los Angeles Clippers

Why did I pick the LA Clippers to make to the Finals over the Spurs and the other strong teams in the West? I think the Clippers added several valuable pieces in the offseason

NBA Champion: LA Clippers

What? The Clippers as Champs!?! Hey, believe it, it could finally happen.

MVP: Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate last season, although I would agree that he was significantly behind Durant and James. I don’t think that will be the case this season.

Coach of the Year: Doc Rivers

2014 NBA Playoffs: The Conference Finals

Well, there has no shortage on drama in the NBA playoffs this year. And after all the dust has settled we are left with #1 seed Indiana vs #2 Miami in the East and #1 seed San Antonio vs #2 seed Oklahoma City. I guess we should have seen this coming. So much for the upstarts, such as the Trailblazers, Wizards and, of course, the LA Clippers.

I predicted that the Clippers and Heat would meet in the Finals and that the Clippers would win the championship in my earlier 2014 NBA Playoffs prediction post. Well, that clearly ain’t gonna happen this year. I think the Clippers played well, especially in view of the turmoil created by owner Donald Sterling’s publicized racist comments and the uproar that caused. There is no doubt that the Sterling incident was a major distraction for the team and was a blow to team morale. However, I can’t say that I think that the Sterling fiasco was the reason that the Clippers lost to the Thunder in 6 games. The Clippers are clearly close to the Thunder and other top tier teams, but they probably need to add one or two more key pieces to truly challenge for the title. I think they could use an upgrade at SF (Matt Barnes is good good, but he might be more useful coming off the bench) and a very good backup PF/C (A player who can come in and provide rim protection when C DeAndre Jordan is not on the floor.)

I also predicted that the the OKC Thunder would be the Clippers toughest opponent and that if OKC defeated LA that OKC would go on to win the championship. Well, I’m afraid I can’t stand by that prediction now in view of the fact that OKC lost PF Serge Ibaka for the rest of the playoffs due to a calf injury he sustained in the last game vs the Clippers. Ibaka is OKC’s third best player and their best defensive player. OKC is a deep team and they will be able to bring capable players in veteran PF Nick Collison and rookie C Steven Adams to substitute for Ibaka, but I just don’t think that the Thunder will be able to fully compensate for the loss of Ibaka, especially his defense and shot blocking. At this stage of the playoffs none of the remaining teams can afford to lose a key player without their prospects being put in severe jeopardy.

Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat

Well, I’m a little late here, sorry. This series started yesterday and the Pacers beat Miami pretty easily in game one. I don’t expect the remaining games to be as one-sided. Have I been influenced by a game in this series? A little bit, but not to a great degree. It is not exactly a secret that Indiana is fully capable of defeating Miami when all the of Indiana’s star players are playing well and contributing, as they did yesterday.

It is almost surprising to find that the Pacers are still in the playoffs given their struggles in the 2nd half of the regular season and in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Talk about a team that has been up and down this season. The Pacers keep alternating between looking like a team that that could win the championship this year and a team that barely belongs in the playoffs. And no player on the Pacers has exhibited this inconsistentency more than All-Star Center Roy Hibbert. The Pacers simply can’t advance if Hibbert is playing poorly, but if Hibbert is playing at anything close to his All-Star form the Pacers will be very difficult to beat. Hibbert seems to have broken out of the funk that he was in and he has played well for several consecutive games, including his game against the Heat yesterday. Paul George, Lance Stephenson and George Hill also played very well yesterday and despite the struggles the Pacers have experienced in the last months this team does not seem to lack confidence.

Going into this series Miami have looked like the defending champ’s that they are and I think they are highly motivated to win their third consecutive title. The threepeat would mean a lot to the legacy of the team and especially to Lebron James because it would be a very significant feather in his cap. LBJ is now being compared to the Greatest of All Time and justifiably so, but he needs a few more rings to support the argument that his career has been equal to or greater than Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and few other players that are always in the GOAT conversation.

Who wins this series? I guess that will largely depend upon which Pacers team shows up for this series. As I noted above, the key to the series is Pacers Center Roy Hibbert. Miami will have to double the 7’2′ Hibbert if he is hitting his shots which will leave other Pacers open on the perimeter. Miami’s big three, James, Wade and Bosh will all have to play exceptionally well in order for the Heat to win this series because Indiana is the better all around team, with a deeper bench.

Pacers win in 7 games.

San Antonio Spurs vs Oklahoma City Thunder

In my earlier prediction post I stated that I thought the Spurs, with most of their star players north of 30 yrs old, might not be able to keep with the younger players on other playoff at this stage of the long NBA season. Well, Duncan, Parker, Ginobili & Company dispatched of the aggressive young Portland squad pretty easily, so, so much for that theory, at least so far. I think OKC, even without Ibaka, does have a real chance to prevail in the this series because they still have league MVP Kevin Durant and All-Star guard Kevin Westbrook, as well as a very strong supporting cast. OKC did defeat SA all four times the teams met during the regular season, although it would be wise not to attach too much significance to that set of victories because the playoffs are played at an entirely different level of intensity. The Brooklyn Nets beat the Miami Heat all four times during the regular season and then got rolled over by the Heat in 2nd round of the playoffs. However, one thing that can’t be overlooked about the Thunder games against the Spurs is the contribution that Serge Ibaka made in each of those games. Ibaka played a big role in all Thunder wins over the Spurs, averaging 14 pts, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks in those games. As I noted above, I find it hard to believe that Steven Adams and Nick Collison will be able to completely make up for those stat’s and I think that will likely prove to be the deciding factor in this series. Beyond that, it will be impossible to replace the ability that Ibaka has to intimidate and discourage opposing players with his rugged defense.

The Spurs win in 7 games.

Which team will win the championship? Frankly, I don’t have strong opinion about that right now. OK, I already picked the Spurs and Pacers to advance. I’m leaning toward the Spurs right now, but I will revisit that question once we know which teams will actually be in the Finals.


George M. Fattell.

The gmf journal is a general subject blog that reflects my thoughts and opinions on a variety of topics that are of interest to me. Current home base is Easton, Pennsylvania, USA. Retweets do not equal an endorsement.

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