Tag Archives: Indiana Pacers

The Ave Podcast – The NBA Eastern Conference Preview

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 9: The NBA Eastern Conference Preview

Welcome once again to The Ave Podcast. Today, we break down Cleveland…….. and the rest of the Eastern Conference with my friend and past contributor to South Shore Ave Headley B., as we rank each team in the East from the bottom to the top.

*** Thanks for tuning in, and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and the blog below, and also, the podcasts are now available for download. ***

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee // Episode 9

Part 1 – The Lottery Teams

Part 2 – The Playoff Teams


To download the podcast, feel free to click the link below:

Part 1: https://app.box.com/s/2rgzunu19r2fwc5komyz5ebn6372zp6v

Part 2: https://app.box.com/s/6izdagy9u68yueu7mfq7eraqckd5fvr2


Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

To subscribe to South Shore Ave, click onto the Follow button, and enter your email address, or click onto the RSS Feed. Very special thanks to Headley B. for his guest appearance on this podcast.

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee – The Playoffs & The Trap

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 3: The Playoffs & The Trap

Welcome once again to The Ave Podcast. For Part I, we welcome O’Niel Kamaka (St. Mary’s College alumnist, Northen Kings AAU Basketball Coach), as we discuss our thoughts on the players who has both impressed & disappointed us from the 1st round of the NBA playoffs; recap our thoughts from the Pacers-Raptors series; & if San Antonio becomes the favorite to win it all with Steph Curry’s injuries mounting.

For Part II, we welcome our guest and past contributor Shawn Adonis (The Notorious B.I.G’s Ready to Die , Raekwon’s Only Built For Cuban Linx….., and a #FlashbackFriday Video discussion on Kardinal Offishall’s “Bakardi Slang”), as we discuss the phenomenon of Desiigner’s Panda, the dominance of Trap music, how the internet era has altered the balance of today’s Hip Hop music.

As always, thanks for tuning in. For you newcomers, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and the blog below….

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee // Episode 3 – PART I “The Playoffs”


PART II “The Trap”


Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

To subscribe to The Baseline Blog, click onto the Follow button or by entering your email address. Very special thanks to O’Niel Kamaka & Shawn Adonis for their guest appearances on this podcast.

South Shore Ave Radio presents The V.I.Players… Podcast

South Shore Ave presents…. The V.I.Players… Podcast. This is the second podcast show that will be launched from South Shore Ave Radio. With myself and my friend Headley as the regular Co-Hosts, we will be steering a more basketball-focused podcast show, but we may sprinkle our thoughts on other topics from time to time.

On the first episode of The V.I.Players… Podcast, we discuss Game 5 of the Pacers – Raptors series, who the Raps should pursue in the offseason (regardless of how this season ends), the injuries with the Los Angeles Clippers, and our disgust with the Houston Rockets. Thanks for tuning in, and for you newcomers, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and the blog below. Please enjoy….

The V.I.Players… Podcast // Episode 1

*** WARNING: This podcast contains some explicit language. ***

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

To subscribe to The Baseline Blog, click onto the Follow button or by entering your email address.

South Shore Ave’s NBA Playoff Preview: The East

Welcome to South Shore Ave’s NBA Playoff Preview #SaturdayMorningSpecial. With the help of my friend Headley Bent, we provide you a quick and efficient breakdown of the Eastern Conference Playoffs to get your morning started before we get to the first set of today’s playoff games. So get your popcorn coffee ready, we got you covered….

Will Indiana Recover From Their Slump Enough to Make Out of the East?

Headley: The short answer is No. While the thinking is Miami will end their journey in the conference finals… I beg to differ. Pacers better not count their eggs before they hatch. I don’t see them having many problems with the depleted Atlanta Hawks, but then it gets interesting in the second round when they take on the most likely foe in the Chicago Bulls. Without Rose, this team is more blue-collar than the Pacers. They’re ending the season hot with a winning road record. And with potential DPOY in Noah playing his best ball (although undersized)… he ain’t shying away from Hibbert. And who would right now? He is playing like straight garbage. The Bulls have great defense like their counterpart, and has bench scoring in Augustine and Gibson that Indiana can’t match. Remember what Chicago did to Brooklyn last year?

Cee: Nope. I’m not sure about anyone else, but from the beginning of the season, I thought it was a little weird the way Indiana approached the year gunning with all their might to get the #1 seed in the East. As if this is the only way to beat a team like Miami. If you plan on winning an NBA title, you’re going to have win games on the road. Miami two years ago won the NBA Title giving up homecourt advantage to Oklahoma City. The year before, Dallas won the NBA Title on Miami’s floor. It’s important to get homecourt, but it’s not the end of the world. It makes it worse that the early season success they had went to their heads faster than gulping down a .40 ounce bottle of Ole English on an empty stomach.

A couple of months ago, I stated that the Pacers were retracing the arch of those early 90s Knicks teams. But those Knicks teams had more of a killer instinct and would not have faltered like this. They would have fought everyone first before they let themselves go into a funk like this. Can you imagine Pat Riley benching Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, John Starks, Doc Rivers, and Charles Smith vs. these Milwaukee Bucks to save their confidence from totally shattering to pieces had they lost against Brandon Knight & ’em? Gimme a break. It turns out that they did get that #1 seed after all, but the way they got it can’t be celebrated. It’s like celebrating a home run after only getting a double. The job’s only halfway done, & seeing that they go through scoring lapses & droughts at times, I don’t see them getting past third. Especially not past a healthy Miami team reaching for history.

Would It Have Been Better if UConn or Kentucky Got the #8 Seed in the East?

Headley: The short answer is Yes. The Hawks should lose in 4. I might as well see the best in college lose in 4 to see how they man up against NBA talent. That game would surely have better ratings. But in all honesty, they need to do a cross-conference playoff swap. For one spot only… if the best team in the conference to miss a playoff spot is eliminated and they posted a win-loss record that’s better than the other conference’s best team in the same scenario by 10 games or more… they get in. FYI: Suns had 48 wins while ATL had 38.

Cee:It might have. Better yet, if you combined the top 6 players from both programs (think Julius Randle, James Young, Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, & DeAndre Daniels as the starting five), I definitely think it would have a better shot vs the Pacers than the Hawks would. I know for a fact that Kentucky Huskies would have appreciated being there waaaaaaaaaaay more (Napier would have been shit happy with the road Per Diem alone). Look, Atlanta’s probably the only playoff team in the NBA that’s not happy to be there. What do you think they would rather: the 8th or 9th pick in the lottery or locking down the 15th pick, AND the right to lose in five games to Indy where they average about 13,000 fans in their 2 playoff home games? Hmmm, you tell me. I mean, Hawks GM Danny Ferry, basically told us he doesn’t care about the playoff spot. You’re telling me the UK Huskies couldn’t get a trial run at this??? Also, NO! I don’t want to see the Knicks in that spot either. After what we just saw for 82 games, they have no business being there. I don’t care how good Carmelo played this season.

We can’t understate just how utterly shitty the East has been this regular season. Indiana fell into a 2 1/2 month swoon & Miami went 11-14 in their last 25 games, yet not only did both teams finish head & shoulders about the rest of the teams in the conference, but they were the only teams in the East to win 50 games or more. New York (a team who won 54 games last season) & Cleveland (a team whose owner said after winning last year’s lottery “This is our last year in the lottery”) both underachieved to alarming degrees. Detroit who spent almost $80M in salary to upgrade their team with Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings didn’t even win 30 games. Philadelphia at one point lost 26 straight games this season, & still finished 4 games behind Milwaukee in the standings. Outside of Miami and Indiana, none of the other playoff teams really move the needle in terms of interest. If it wasn’t for the Raptors, I would actually boycott all the series in the East until the Conference Finals.

What Player Can Make Himself a Star in the Eastern Conference Playoffs?

Headley: Players like John Wall and Al Jefferson have a chance to show they’re worth their hefty contracts, but I don’t see them getting past the first round. I’m biased, but I believe DeMar Derozan and/or Kyle Lowry finally have a chance to showcase their stuff on national TV for a couple series and see why the Raptors just posted the best record in franchise history. With a solid post season… they can become solidified in Raptor history and earn the notoriety that they simply don’t get playing north of the border. And for Lowry… a solid post season may finally put to rest doubts of him signing the contract he wants.

Sidenote: I had to add this at the eleventh hour when I found out our matchup is against Brooklyn and not Washington. I’m scared of the Brooklyn Nets. They finally ended the season how people expected them to enter it. A team with that much talent and post season experience… you cannot take them lightly. They won’t wilt under the lights so you better not leave the door open or they will capitalize. And Toronto is green to post season experience so while I am taking Lowry and DeRozen, as having a breakout post season. I pick them slightly over Wall and Jefferson seeing they have home court advantage, but I am not overly confident. Plus I don’t want a-hole friends like Marco texting me.

Cee: I’d like to pick someone who will possibly get out of the first round, so that immediately eliminates Al Jefferson (who I predict will still dominate the Heat in Round One) and John Wall (1st time playoff participant vs. THAT Bulls D? No thanks.) from contention. By default, it will be the Raptors duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. I know people are counting them out against the Brooklyn Nets, and teams are trying to line up to get into their bracket, but there was a reason why they got the #3 seed. Since trading Rudy Gay, they have been one of the best teams in the NBA, & they play hard on both ends of the floor, but it starts with Lowry & DeRozan. Although DeRozan was the All Star on the team, Lowry was the heart & soul of the Raptors & the team has taken on his personality more than anyone else. I can see him having a big series vs. the Nets, hitting big shots & making big plays. It won’t be on a level like Steph Curry put on in last year’s playoffs, but it’ll be more than noticeable.

Who is Coming Out of the East? 

Cee: After watching how Indiana’s imploded the last few months, I don’t even care if they have homecourt advantage through the Eastern Conference Playoffs, their confidence has shown its cracks. They’ll get past Atlanta relatively easy, then will get past Chicago after a bruising series, and will run out out gas playing the Heat. For the Pacers to get to the Finals, they need Paul George to perform like that MVP candidate that he showed earlier in the year. More importantly, they need him on offense, to match LeBron’s skillset when they meet up. As much talent as he has, I think he’s another year away to possibly reach that LBJ/KD level. Between that & my expectation that Lance Stephenson will do something stupid at the worst possible time, Miami will be heading to their 4th straight finals.

Headley: Miami has made the finals three years consecutively, why would I think anything differently?!?!? If you asked me around the all-star break, it would involve a lot more pondering. However, the way the Pacers has faltered the last third of the season, and the fact I have the Bulls upsetting the Pacers in the conference semi-finals, this decision is easy as pie. I wish I could be more insightful but there really isn’t much to say about the inevitable.

Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions


1st Round 

1. Pacers over 8. Hawks

4. Bulls over 5. Wizards

2. Heat over 7. Bobcats

3. Raptors over 6. Nets

Eastern Semis

4. Bulls over 1. Pacers

2. Heat over 3. Raptors

Conference Finals

2. Heat over 4. Bulls

Cal Cee

1st Round

1. Pacers over 8. Hawks

4. Bulls over 5. Wizards

2. Heat over 7. Bobcats

3. Raptors over 6. Nets

Eastern Semis

1. Pacers over 4. Bulls

2. Heat over 3. Raps

Conference Finals

2. Heat over 1. Pacers


Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

Follow me on Twitter or email me at southshoreave@gmail.com

Special thanks to Headley Bent for contributing to this article/posting.

NBA’s 1st Half Rundown

With the second half of the NBA underway, teams all around the league will be jockeying for positioning in two categories: Playoff positioning & lottery positioning. Before we look down the road for that situation, as well as future player movement and the end of season awards and accolades, let’s take a look at some of the questions regarding the first half of the season.


The first month of the season, Paul George threw his name into the MVP ring, and it’s slightly debatable that he was the MVP of November. However, since then, it looks like Kevin Durant has pulled away from the pack….so far. I still believe that LeBron James is the best player in the game but that gap is starting to close now. With Russell Westbrook injured for most of the season so far, Durant has singlehandedly kept OKC at the top of the Western conference with his efficiently explosive scoring (31.5 PPG; 51 FG%, 41 3P%, 88 FT%), while putting up the best all around season he’s ever had (7.8 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.5 SPG). He’s increased the value of Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, kept Serge Ibaka happy, given the team a swagger and attitude that used to be provided primarily by Westbrook.  & has stayed out of Kendrick Perkins’ way so that he can be MVP of Shaqtin’ The Fool, removing JaVale McGee from the top spot. The scary part of Durant’s game right now? I still don’t believe he’s hit his ceiling just yet. He has the athleticism & the body type to still be a devastating one-on-one defender with his freakishly long arms. He gave us a glimpse of that by taking apart Carmelo Anthony on both ends of the floor during last week’s win versus the Knicks. As crazy as this sounds, I think he can score even better too once he fully masters his post game (one will be coming within the next two years).

With Westbrook set to come back on Thursday vs. Miami, he might go back to watching Russell dominate the ball again, & I know people might feel like that’s coming, but it won’t be enough to derail the train Durant’s been driving this season. With that said, LeBron is starting to turn it up in the last few weeks with his play & the whole “Mt. Rushmore” discussion that’s been leading sports conversations the past two weeks. Just know that this is the best “Who’s the best?” rivalry brewing in the league since Bird & Magic in the 80s. It’s been a long time that we’ve had the best player in his prime have another player in his prime nipping at his heels. I’ve mentioned this before, but no one in the NBA has won 3 MVP’s in a row since Bird in 1986. Not Michael, not Magic, not Duncan, not Shaq, not Nash, no one. Usually it’s because of voters fatigue when this happens, but for some reason, it’s really hard to win 3 MVP’ s in a row. If OKC maintains the best record in the West while Miami ends up with the 2nd seed in the East, there is no way LeBron will break this trend unless he starts doing some historical-type things in the next two months. 

On a side note, even though it is a better cast, does anyone else feel like the Heat team is starting to have a 2009-2010 Cavalier feel to them or is it just me? LeBron has to do EVERYTHING for this team to win most nights, especially since Wade has been hurt for most of the season. I know we’re dealing with a new dynamic on this Heat team with this constructed Big 3 (depending on how you feel about Bosh), but should we actually even be calling this team The Big 3 anymore? With injuries the last two years, Wade has become a full fledged Robin to LeBron’s Batman, but now it seems like most nights he’s in the Bat Cave guiding/directing Batman of any trouble on the GPS monitors. He’s barely beating up the bad guys anymore. When Durant asked Wade to “Show Me, don’t Tweet me” earlier this fall, I didn’t think he meant to show him this. What’s worst, it looks like Chris Bosh, both health and production-wise is the second best player behind LeBron this season. Who saw that coming two years ago? Do I have to scrap the costume analogy & have Bosh rocking the Robin outfit now? What outfit does Wade wear now? Alfred’s? This is all so confusing. 


Yes, what happened to the New York teams? Both the New York Knicks & The Brooklyn Nets are the most overrated teams in the NBA so far. The Nets are paying $80M+ in luxury taxes to dethrone the Heat, yet are under .500, currently 7th in the East; and are fighting to catch the Toronto Raptors (yes, I had to say the name in full) for first place in the Atlantic? A team that gave up on Rudy Gay to fulfill the lease they had in #TankCity and are now about to print playoff tickets. The only factor that they can hold on is that they have been fighting through the injury bug & haven’t had a full squad together this season, including training camp. At the same time, this is what happens to older teams, their bodies break down more frequently than before. 

Two things that made it worse:

1) They sustained lingering and major injuries to their two best players the team was being built around: Brook Lopez and Deron Williams (I’m not even including Joe Johnson in that one. I don’t give a shit if he’s an “All Star” this season). Now their older players like Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce, who were only supposed to play a supporting role (& were struggling to play that role as I’m sure it may have been the first time in their lives they’ve been in that position), are asked to do more heavy lifting. However, they’re too old to do the heavy lifting now & Joe Johnson who’s still in his prime is playing like the 3rd best player on the roster most nights, when he should be playing like a franchise player. He gets paid like one, he even gets the All Star nods like one, but why doesn’t he play like one? 

2) Making Jason Kidd the coach of the Nets when they were hell bent on getting to the Finals this year was the wrong move. I didn’t like the move initially, but came around when the KG/Pierce/Terry trade went through and I figured they would stand behind Kidd in the locker room. However, that went out the window when those same guys were publicly questioning Kidd’s philosophies from earlier this season. So it goes back to what I originally thought: After all the money they spent on the roster, why didn’t they just go after George Karl or Lionel Hollins, experienced coaches that have been successful coaching veterans & teams close to a title already? Again they’re spending $80M+ in luxury taxes alone. Why not spend a little extra on a proven coach instead of a novice like Kidd? If the goal was to go all in, then they shouldn’t have hired Kidd. That is a lot of pressure to put on a first time coach with no coaching experience who just finished taking his uniform off as a player a month before that.

As far as the Knicks go……actually, let’s ask a more important question….


Oh boy, here we go again with the “Will Melo stay or go?” rumors, only this time, I actually don’t blame Melo for this. The team is poorly constructed, they have a lot of the same parts on the team; no one shares the ball; outside of Chandler, none of their big men play defense; & like Brooklyn, were looking to depend on guys like Metta World Peace & Kenyon Martin to do the defensive dirty work, but they’ve both been shipping out DNP-CDs like an unsigned artist. I blame the Knicks management for this season, and I do for this reason. I’ve said this before about Melo, he is who he is at this point. He’s a great scorer who doesn’t make his teammates better, and this is not changing after 10 years in the league. I still don’t believe you can win a title with Carmelo being your best player……..BUT if you really want to make him your franchise gem, here’s what needs to be done.

You have to have a PG that will keep Melo & everyone else happy with their amounts of touches, someone in the locker room who can assume vocal leadership on the team until Melo takes over that role, & bigs that will play physical defense & clean everything up on the boards. You can’t trade for Bigs like Andrea Bargnani who basically plays soft, you can’t continue to resign guys like JR Smith & pick up guys like old World Peace, & you can’t have PGs like Ray Felton who’s not gonna distribute the ball to make everyone else happy. Pablo Prigioni is more of a pass-first PG but he’s close to the end of his career & he just got into the league last season.

It’s no surprise that they were going to fall back from last year’s pace, but 12 games under .500 by the All Star game? I didn’t see that one coming. With that said, I feel like Melo should stay where he is. Not every star in the NBA is destined to win a title. History is littered with Hall of Famers who have no rings. Plus there’s only a few places where you can be a star in a major market and get paid the big bucks; the cap space frees up after next season; your wife gets to be a star in the same city where you live (she probably doesn’t get in the roster for the Think Like a Man movie living out in Denver); if you leave for the Lakers, the pressure will be waaay worse than it’ll be in New York. You may as well take the money, stay famous, and run.

Between the Knicks and the Nets, the New York basketball scene right now resembles the New York hip hop scene. Most of their biggest stars (while still good) have hit their prime and peaks during the last decade, there’s no new young stars coming into the horizon anytime soon, and their biggest competition from the South, the Midwest, the West Coast, and Toronto have all surpassed them. Where’s that Funkmaster Flex bomb drop when you need it? 


To put it in simple terms: Yes! They failed consistently in trying to build a winner with the Jailblazer era, then fell on bad luck with Brandon Roy & Greg Oden’s health, but now they are at a good place. In LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lilliard, & Nicolas Batum, the Trailblazers have finally found a foundation that they can build the future on & have the right pieces so far around them to be around for a good while. The only issues with this team is how will they get points consistently in the paint when the game slows down & they are playing in a 7-game series against San Antonio for example. Aldridge is a top 3 Power Forward at worst in the game right now, but his strength is facing the basket & hitting fading turnaround jumpers. In the playoffs, you got to get baskets & create fouls in the paint. Aldridge does have solid moves in the post, so you have to hope he alters his game a little more at that point to mix it up a little bit more in the paint. He’s the only big on the roster that can get points down low. The other factor is Lilliard’s legs. Will they be fatigued after playing in all 5 events for Star weekend? After being selected as an all star, he should have automatically been removed from having to play in the Rising Stars Game. I’m not sure why it’s still mandatory for him to suit up All star Friday for, no fan will be insulted if he skips out. More importantly, the Blazers are going to need him for their playoff push, & seeing that this will be his first go-around in the playoffs in years, it’ll be a shame if he’s shot physically in April . 


Look at it this way: every year we expect them to fall off the cliff. In 2011, when they lost in Round 1 to Memphis, we poured the dirt over them. What did they do the next year? Made it to the conference Finals before losing in six to Oklahoma City, which included losing the last four games of the series. We looked at OKC’s roster, realized their age & that none of their core guys were in their prime yet, and then we poured dirt over the Spurs again. After some trades & injuries to the Thunder, the Spurs were still not expected to win the West. They met up on Memphis again in the Conference Finals and you legitimately wondered if they had enough to beat the Grizzlies front line. One week later, they swept up Memphis. Two weeks after that, they were within a Ray Allen three in Game 6 or winning the Finals & putting serious doubt on LeBron’s legacy & that of Miami’s Big 3. Now everyone’s talking about the Thunder again, the Clippers, Blazers, Rockets, Warriors, etc., & the Spurs have been depleted by injuries. OKC leads the West by 4 games. Well, after the dust settled on the first half of the season, guess who’s second? I’m not going to doubt them anymore. I believe the Thunder is the best team in the West, especially when Westbrook gets back, but still, I’m putting away the shovel.


When I look at this team, I can kinda see where the comparison might come from actually, especially pertaining to defence. However, I’ll take you back right now, they more remind me of the 1993 Knicks team. 

Back in 1991, the Knicks got taken apart by the Bulls in the playoffs on the way to the Bulls first NBA title. In 1992, they took Jordan’s Bulls to 7 games before getting blown out during the last game. Chicago then went on to repeat as the champions. The next season, New York got the number one seed in the East, finishing 2nd overall in the NBA to the Phoenix Suns in Charles Barkley’s first year as a Sun (they had one of the all-time underrated brawls ever). They had the best defence in the league; a deep and stacked roster (picking up PG Doc Rivers in the off-season trade for PG Mark Jackson); Coach Pat Riley had given the team a tough swagger that Ewing, Oakley, and the rest of the team followed; they developed John Starks into a highly confident starter (that could have made the All Star Game that year) who wasn’t afraid of Jordan, Pippen or anyone else in the NBA. 

In 2012, the Pacers got taken apart by the Heat in the playoffs on their way to their first NBA in the Big 3 Era. Last season, Indiana took Miami to 7 games before getting blown out during the last game. This season, the Pacers are doing everything short of selling their first born children to get the number one seed in the East, and are currently fighting Oklahoma City for the best record in the NBA. They have the best defence in the league; they have a deep and stacked roster (trading for PF Luis Scola in the off-season while recently picking up Andrew Bynum); Coach Frank Vogel has given the team a tough swagger that Roy Hibbert, Paul George, David West, and the rest of the team follows. They developed Lance Stephenson into a highly confident starter (that could have made the All Star game this season) that isn’t afraid of LeBron, Wade, or anyone else in the NBA. 

With the Knicks, they took a 2-0 lead in the ’93 Eastern Conference Finals before losing the next 4 games to Chicago in a series that had classic moments (ie. Starks dunk on the Bulls, MJ’s 54, Charles Smith sequence). We’re only at the all star break so far, so we don’t know if history will continue to repeat itself. However, the one thing that history has taught us, is that as important as home court advantage is in the playoffs, if you are to be a championship team, you have to be able to win on the road. Home court is important because if a game goes to the limit, you want that last game to be on your floor, but it won’t mean anything if you can’t win on the road. Unfortunately for them, Miami has proven in the last few years that they can win playoff road games too, including at Conseco Fieldhouse. So for their sake, they better hope they can get to a seventh game, or as the Knicks learned back in 1993, the fight to get to the the #1 seed won’t mean anything.


A few teams are in the mix for this one this season. I personally didn’t see Toronto being over .500 at this stage of the season. They are looking to leave #TankCity & we’ll get into that in the revised #TankCity Edition after the trade deadline. Portland gets consideration as well as currently being in a 3-way tie for 3rd place in the West, when the expectation was that they would be fighting for the 8th seed with the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks. A spot that Golden St. currently resides in, which is a little shocking to me at the moment too. I think we’d have to pick the Phoenix Suns hands down. Going into the pre-season, looking at the their roster, you were unsure how much D-League games they’d be able to win, much less NBA games. However, with the emergence of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, coupled with the improvement of players like Gerald Green & Miles Plumblee, this team has taken flight. However, the most important factor is that the team has completely bought into 1st year coach Jeff Hornacek’s philosophies. He has to be in the running for coach of the year at the very least, if not the sole frontrunner. This team was supposed to be building for the future. Instead, they have surpassed Golden State in the West, swept the Pacers, defeated Golden St twice, beat down the Clippers, Houston, & has stepped up in the playoff race. The 2nd half of the year will be a lot tougher (including April where 6 of their 8 opponents are playoff contenders), so it remains to be seen if they will come back down to earth. With that said, they will be a tough out for the last playoff seed, especially once Bledsoe comes back.

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

Follow me on Twitter or email me at southshoreave@gmail.com

Game 7 & Finals Breakdown

After a long, grueling, NBA playoff season that had all the impact-changing injuries (ie. Patrick Beverley on Russell Westbrook), heroic moments, choke jobs, reputations elevated (ie. Steph Curry, Paul George) and devalued (Hello Dwight & Blake!), we finally come down to the NBA Finals starting tonight between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat, where as much as seven potential Hall of Famers will battle it out for the Larry O’Brien trophy. Before I give out the breakdown of the Finals boxing-match style, I feel like we have to address what happened earlier this week first. Mainly…..

……what the hell happened to the Indiana Pacers in Game 7?! First, let’s give credit to the Heat for the phenomenal defense they played, specifically in the second quarter, when they went on a 33 – 16 run to change the course of the game and choke the life out of the Pacers at that point. Now, I understand that Miami, when their “Big 3” are playing aggressively, are the best team rolling in the NBA, so the viewpoint of the Pacers losing to a better team isn’t lost on me. To add to that, Indiana doesn’t have that player right now that can put a team on his back & rally from a 15-point deficit. But Game 7 isn’t just about talent alone. More than anything, it’s about imposing your will on another team, giving your best effort & leaving your heart & soul in between the lines. The Pacers showed these traits in the first six games of this series, basically battling Miami to a standstill. When Game 7 came around however, they left all of those on the team plane. After dominating the boards the entire series, they were out-rebounded by Miami 43-36 (15-8 on the offensive boards), who made more free throws (33) than Indiana attempted (20), while turning over the ball 21 times before losing 99 – 76. The way they ended off the series left you strangely bitter, almost like the first time you watched The Departed. Great movie, kept you riveted the entire time before they mailed in the last 20 minutes & you ended up leaving the theater wanting to punch something.

As far the Pacers future is concerned, their future seems pretty bright. As long as they can resign David West (which by all accounts, wants to come back), George & Roy Hibbert can keep developing & improving on their talents, either sign a legitimate point guard or send George Hill & D.J. Augustin to a Five-Star like summer camp to learn how to handle the ball in tight situations, they should be able to contend again. Here’s the thing though: the future isn’t guaranteed. Everyone feels like Miami is going to break up the team in 2014, and they might. But what if they find a loophole that keeps them contending for the rest of LeBron’s prime years? Don’t forget, Derrick Rose is coming back and adding him alone makes Chicago 15 wins better at least. Depending on the coach they hire (especially with George Karl now on the market), Brooklyn might find that edge to compete with the contenders and start to mirror the city’s swagger. If Atlanta does the unthinkable, and lands Chris Paul and Dwight Howard with their cap space to put alongside Al Horford, that will change the landscape of the Eastern conference. We just don’t know what the future holds. Everyone thought Shaq & Penny would control the rest of the 90’s in the East; they also thought the same thing about Gary Payton & Shawn Kemp in Seattle. We also thought once that Vince & TMac would rule the NBA from Toronto together, or Ray Allen, Sam Cassell and Glenn Robinson’s futures would be bright in Milwaukee; or Jermaine O’Neal/Ron Artest-led Pacers, or 50 Cent, the Game & the rest of G-Unit (just making sure you’re paying attention), and every other young squad with a ton of potential who we thought would eventually win for years and win a title. We just don’t know for sure, & that’s why when Game 7’s comes along, you have to leave everything on the floor. Because when you do & the game happens to be close, you just never know. Let’s hope Indiana doesn’t look back at this game in a few years and wonder what might have been, and hopefully they’ll use this last series as motivation to get over the hump.


Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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