After a rocky trade from the Los Angeles Lakers and four uneventful months with the defending NBA Champs, the Dallas Mavericks will put Lamar Odom on the shelf for the remainder of this year. Read more here.
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By Miguel Lloyd
Ok, so for some of you guys who have just started to follow my blog, I started my career in writing and broadcasting in sports. I am a die-hard NBA fan, and more specifically love the Lakers and have played the game all my life. With that being said, its time for me to take a stand and put my predictions out there.
First let me say that, I don’t see a dominant team in the field this year except maybe the one team no one wants the see…The San Antonio Spurs. They are getting hot at the right time and they have one of the two best coaches(Popovich and Rivers are the creme of the crop) in the game. But the playoffs are all about match ups. So read on.
First Round Matchups
No. 1 Chicago Bulls vs. No. 8 Philadelphia 76ers
This will be any easy one to pick only because of the Sixers lack of fire power and the Bulls play the best team defense in the league. The Bulls have proven that they can play without Derrick Rose, so the only Achilles heal I see for the Bulls in this round is how long will it take for the reigning MVP to get his legs under him in the playoffs. That will be key to how long they last in this years playoffs, but it shouldn’t be a huge problem versus the Sixers.
Prediction. (Bulls win 4-2)
No. 2 Miami Heat vs. No. 7 New York Knicks
This will be the “pressure busts pipes” series. The names on the marquee will give the feel that this series should be better than it will be. After this season that has included all the Miami Heat “hate” machine and the Jeremy “Linsanity” Lin hype, we are settled on what we thought the Knicks and the Heat should have been from the beginning. A Carmelo lead team that can score a bunch and the loaded Heat. The one difference is that with Mike Woodson as the Knicks coach, they are playing better team defense than earlier in the year. I don’t think that the Knicks have enough in the backcourt to stop Wade from going crazy and I still don’t believe Melo and Amare have figured out how to coexist, but I think it will entertaining.
Prediction (Heat 4-2)
No. 3 Indiana Pacers vs. No. 6 Orlando Magic
Ok. This won’t take long. The Magic are without their only defensive presence in Dwight Howard. Coach Van Gundy has probably already boxed up his office in his mind, and the Pacers are playing some of the best basketball in the NBA right now. Just because a dead clock is right twice a day and that the Magic tend to heat up from the outside every few games, I give the Magic one game. Other than that, I think they have already set up their summer vacation plans.
Prediction (Pacers 4-1)
No. 4 Boston Celtics vs. No. 5 Atlanta Hawks
This series has the potential to be interesting, not because of talent but because of ole’ father time. Talent wise, I still believe that the Celtics bring more to the table. 3 HOFers and the best set up man in the game in Rondo. They are a year older though, and Ray Allen has been hurt. The Hawks have talented players like Josh Smith, Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams but do they have anyone to stop Paul Pierce’s fade away when the game is on the line. Not to mention, Doc Rivers will put them in the position to win games in this series. I do see it going 7 games with the home court making the difference.
Prediction (Celtics 4-3)
No. 1 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 8 Utah Jazz
Quietly, probably because they don’t draw the TV audiences of the “sexier” franchises, the Spurs never seem to get the nationally televised games that the Lakers, Knicks, Heat, Bulls or Oklahoma City squads do. They just consistently win ball games. For the second year in a row, the Spurs are the #1 seed in the west. The difference I see this year is the infusion of youth in this lineup and a healthy Manu Ginobili. This is a totally different team when he is healthy. He is that guy who has battled the likes on Kobe Bryant for years and dominated the rest. Matchups have been an issue for the Spurs in past years, but I don’t think that will be a problem in the first round this year. Look for them to dominate the young Jazz team en route to a possible run to the finals.
Prediction. (Spurs win 4-1)
No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 7 Dallas Mavericks
No one believed the Mavs could do it last year until it was done. Win the NBA crown. On the surface, they were a team that was laden with perimeter shooters and an on again off again super star in Dirk Nowitski. Well if you look at the nuts and bolts of last years team to this one, they lost a dominant inside presence in Tyson Chandler that would bang and rebound the few misses they had last year to give them second chances which they took advantage of. Well they are running into a bad matchup for them this year. OKC is poised to make a deep run into the playoffs with 2 of the leagues most dominant scorers in Westbrook and Durant, toughness inside in Abaka and Perkins and a great bench player in Harden. I still question how deep this team can go because of the mentality of Westbrook. In his mind he is option 1, not Durant. That will be problematic for them to win a championship, but it may be good enough to get them to the finals. Synopsis…Youth and Talent over experience in this round.
Prediction. (OKC win 4-2)
No. 3 LA Lakers vs. No. 6 Denver Nuggets
As I mentioned, I am a Lakers fan, but I promise you I will be fair in this assessment. The Lakers filled their biggest void in letting go of Lakers legend Derek Fisher for the youth of Ramon Sessions. Honestly with the dominance of the lead guards in the west, they needed someone who could compete at the position to offset the fact that they are going to see either, Parker, Westbrook or Paul in the west and possibly D. Rose in the east, if they make it that far. Sessions also makes their second team better because Blake can play his role as an effective back up, not a starter. Bynum must NOT take games off and Gasol needs to get used to some pounding in the playoffs for them to make a run. No need to say much about Kobe because we know what we will get from him after 16 years. The Nuggets will not lay down easily and if the Lakers don’t take them out early, they will find themselves in a dog fight that Kobe and his legs do not want.
Prediction. (Lakers win 4-2)
No. 4 Memphis Grizzlies vs. No. 5 LA Clippers
Lob City Vs. The Team no one wants to see in the playoffs. Last year the Grizzles from the 8th position and with the tougher of the two Gasol brothers made a heck of a run in the playoffs. All without their best perimeter player in Rudy Gay. Well they are loaded this year and poised to be a major disruption in the offices of the TV network execs, because they may be the only team besides the Spurs that America just doesn’t like falling in love with on TV. Nonetheless, they’ve earned this seeding for a reason. The Clippers will come in with their high wire act and Griffin will surely get some highlights, but as I have said a lot this year, his “poster” game will not be enough. His post game will have to step up for them to win this series. I don’t think he has enough to offset what the lefty Zach “Zebo” Randolph is going to do to him on the post. It will be entertaining, but won’t be enough for this Clippers team this year. Losing the veteran leader Chauncey Billups will ultimately be the difference.
Prediction. (Grizzlies win 4-3)
These playoffs will be fun. There may be one or two “cakewalks” in the first round, but don’t be surprised if they turn into series, as well. This condensed schedule has made some of the older guys legs tired as they entire into the second season. Fortunately they’ll get more rest and practice time this time of the year than they have all season. It should be good.
Check back with me as we get through round one for the my conference semi predictions.
Miguel Lloyd is a blogger, radio host and Media entrepreneur. He hosts a weekly talk show called Life Full Circle Radio. The show includes super producer, Nikkia Ganey with hot topics, Seshmi Robertson with Entertainment, Elton Gumbel with Sports and Alton Drew with the Politics365.com Politics segment. Join us this and every Wednesday night for the lively conversation by clicking HERE!
By Miguel Lloyd
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This week versus the LA Clippers, Lebron James proved that he is a lot more Shaq than he is Kobe.
Between Kobe’s 5 rings and Shaq’s 4 championships, they have been key members of the basketball royalty over the last 15-20 years. One thing that I have expressed over the years, when the Kobe haters and I get into debates, is that Kobe was always option 1. First in his mind, than in the minds of Phil Jackson, the Lakers coaching staff and the rest of the league. Why you ask? Because the main reason that Kobe is so polarizing is because you can’t tell him he is not the best that has ever done it. Not when he was bald headed, wearing number 8 shooting air balls versus the Utah Jazz before they won championships, or now in his 16th year in the league, put together, literally, with tape on a damaged wrist and (God knows what) in his knees. He is simply a “killer” in the vain of athletics and winners.
On the other hand, there is Shaq. Now before you guys start bugging out, pulling up Youtubes of him breaking baskets and catching alley oops, I want you to think about the personality of Shaq. Very jovial, fun-loving Shaq. The pitchman. Superman. Kazaam, and all the other names he’s coined for himself. The difference between Shaq and Kobe? Kobe’s only names he’s known by besides his own are Black Mamba (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_mamba) and some other names that because they are profane, won’t make it on this blog.
Their off the court personalities tend to match their on the court personalities. Although Kobe is probably never the leader in FT percentage on his team, he is always the one who steps to the line to shoot the techs. Why? Because in his mind, there is no one better to handle the pressure. On the the other hand, Shaq’s futility at the free throw line helped coin a phrase (Hack-a-Shaq) that has been adapted to use on many big men, with the inability to come through in the clutch at the line. Just last night, the new age Superman, Dwight Howard, set a new record in most FT’s because he hits less than half of them, night in and night out.
You see, during the great Lakers run that featured Shaq and Kobe (and the Heat run with D. Wade for that matter), the big fella was no good to his team most of the time in the last 6-8 minutes of close games. Why? Because passing him the ball was in most cases a “lost possession” because he couldn’t get past the mental hurdle of standing at the line, with everybody looking at him to sink the big shots. Kobe has never had that problem, whether at the free throw line, or fading away with three 6′ 8″ plus defenders using every inch to block his game winning heroics.
So what does this all have to do with King James? The anointed one? Well since he has come into the league, the pundits have tried to find who Lebron is most like. His game is truly like no other, that I can recall. He’s built like Kevin Willis, is fast and powerful offensively like Karl Marlone, can handle the rock and score, like Jordan and pass like Magic. What he doesn’t have is the heart of a champion. At least he hasn’t shown it yet. If I had to pick a player on the Heat that has shown that, its D. Wade…hands down.
No one with the ability of Lebron James, should defer to anyone unless its an Olympic Dream Team roster. But this isn’t NBA 2k is it? This is real basketball. Although Magic could have only dreamt of having the overall athletic ability of Lebron, King James still hasn’t achieved what Earvin achieved based on a killer instinct that drove him to move from PG to C his rookie year to win his first championship, or channel is inner Kareem with the running hook to beat the Celtics in the eighties.
Yet, in this era of intense media scrutiny that only Jordan could probably relate to, Lebron still seems to fall short. As Lebron has become the pitchman, that sells you everything from shoes, to sodas to insurance he still hasn’t sold himself that he is truly, “the man”. We all know that he has WAY more ability than is needed to make it happen. What he has not exhibited yet is the killer instinct to close the deal. Maybe he needs to sit back and take the lead from someone who has already done it. His teammate, D. Wade. The one with the proven…killer instinct. NBA Champion 2006.
Lebron still has time to win at least one or more championships. Not sure about the 6 to 7…that may be a stretch. He just may need to be Shaq or even Pippen. Putting up big numbers in a support role. Theres no harm in that.
Of course, as always, we will have our super producer, Nikkia Ganey with hot topics, Seshmi Robertson with Entertainment, Elton Gumbel with Sports and Alton Drew with the Politics365.com Politics segment. Join us this and every Wednesday night for the lively conversation by clicking HERE!
by Miguel Lloyd
Well finally the day has come. LB23 returns to the city that made him who he is. To the place where his dreams of playing in the NBA were achieved because of the wonderful people of Cleveland and the surrounding areas. The place where he was on his way to multiple championships and a legacy that Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, and the logo, Jerry West himself would envy. The place where he should be thankful that they embraced him in such a way that only a fool would leave. Really? Is that what Cleveland was to Lebron?
The truth is that on a national level, Lebron did a lot more for Cleveland than they did for him. Truth is that Lebron was one of the first players that actually drew a national TV audience as a high schooler. Before Lebron, it was not normal to have a national primetime TV game featuring A prep star that was not a McDonald’s All-American game. I remember watching Lebron in that game with the tape over his tattoos in the Irish jersey and I immediately agreed with the scouts. He was the real deal. The only thing he missed (which is what he still misses), is a consistent jump shot. Other than that, he was the complete package. He was a redefining package. A wing player with the raw skill of Jordan, with the combination of size and passing ability of Magic. Other than that tangible jump shot, he lacked one intangible thing he missed that Jordan and Magic had and Kobe has is a killer instinct. This is the attitude that Jordan would use to motivate him to drop 50 on the Knicks, or destroy the Pistons, because they thought they had rules that effectively stopped him. Lebron’s well managed demeanor is the reason the people of Cleveland and the media feel they can push him around.
Lets not forget, that in 1996, without nearly the fan far, Kobe Bryant shunned the Charlotte Hornets, for the Lakers. Who was he to make such a demand? He was the 13th pick and largely unknown. Kobe was well groomed and we didn’t even know it. He went to a team where he was questioned as a starter and was the percieved “2nd” option for the first half of his career. He was the son of a former NBA player who was groomed to develop his own image, brand and legacy. Although, Lebron and his business “team”, have done an excellent job of managing his brand, they still need some work when it comes to his image and legacy. Funny thing is that it is because of his loyalty to the very people who “loath” him now, that he took this step back.
Truth is, Cleveland is not managed like franchises like the Lakers, Yankees, Patriots, Cowboys or Celtics. Prior to Lebron, they never truly had a franchise that raised above the level or respectability of the Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Blue Jays or Cincinnati Bengals. Teams that have periods of excellence but mostly middle of the road to bottom dwellers year to year. Truly not since Jim Brown, had the nation been so focused on the city of Cleveland sports. What they got from LB23 is 7 years of relevance, not to mention years of profitability for their ownership group. What does he get for his service? Total disrespect from the fans and the ownership of the team.
In spite of all that, all you hear are the media and the people of Cleveland, questioning his character and loyalty. Honestly, I expect that from the drunk fans in the nose-bleed seats, but not sensible fans of any reasonable level of intelligence. With that being said, the fact that Lebron has been relatively subdued in his response to all of this experience is to be commended. No wonder though that LB23 is making his list and checking it twice of all the people who have disrespected him.
Whether they win or lose tonight is relatively insignificant. I’m just glad it will be over.