Tag Archives: Los Angeles Clippers

The Ave Podcast – Raptors……..Like, Word?

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 22: Raptors……..Like, Word?

Today on The Ave Podcast, I invite friends of the Podcast DJ Chris Nice & Big Brotha Curtis, as we discuss the Raptors flameout of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. We break down the future of the Raptors, Duane Casey’s future as their Head Coach, whether or not we should bring back Kyle Lowry and which other free agents they should keep, the comments that Lowry & DeMar DeRozan made during the Cavalier series, if Masai Ujiri decides to blow things up, should another team out West follow the same path, plus more.

*** Thanks for tuning in, and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and the blog below. Today’s podcast is available for streaming and download. Please enjoy. *** 

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee // Episode 22

(Photo courtesy of Frank Nunn of The Canadian Press)

 

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https://app.box.com/s/8mybvazm9n0x28riax7pbgnjsr0f56dt

 

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 DJ Chris Nice & Big Brotha Curtis for their guest appearances on this podcast.

The Ave Podcast – The NBA Western Conference Preview

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 10: The NBA Western Conference Preview

Welcome to The Ave Podcast. Today, we break down the Western Conference with 1st time guest Julian aka Jules Da Commish, as we rank each team in the West from the bottom to the top during the NBA’s Opening Week.

*** 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 10

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/nzmtmvyz1tu3k2ekb7mjb0gck4yp5wqs

Part 2: https://app.box.com/s/q5tl68ulgtqy6jwmwcqx938n0dn471rb

 

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 Julian for his guest appearance on this podcast.

 

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee – R.I.P Muhammad Ali #LegendsNeverDie

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 4: R.I.P Muhammad Ali #LegendsNeverDie

Welcome once again to The Ave Podcast. Today, we welcome DJ Chris Nice (Grooves & Rhythms MixShow, Fridays on MyLime Radio), as we discuss the trend of blowouts in the NBA Playoffs, what happened to Steph Curry & when will he put his stamp on the Finals, as well as Temptations (The Devil is A Liar). Plus we share our thoughts and pay tribute to Muhammed Ali & if there will be another entertainer or athlete that can take his place.

Thanks for tuning in, and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and the blog below, which is now available for download. Now you can listen to the podcasts featured on South Shore Ave Radio anywhere. It’s true. I’m not lying……

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee // Episode 5

 

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

https://app.box.com/s/oqdlo7apvzvufexbmi084nfu1t4h4tw4

 

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 DJ Chris Nice for his guest appearance 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

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Saturday Morning Special: NBA Playoff Questions #1stRound

Before we answer some NBA playoff questions, let’s get to some house duties first. Mainly…

Who is the 2014-15 NBA MVP?

I’m going to rank the candidates:

  1. Anthony Davis: Probably has been my favorite player to watch this season outside of Steph Curry, but he’s missed just enough games (14) and had to leave others due to injuries to offset his production (24.2 PPG / 10.2 RPG /2.9 BPG). He’s been great, and I would have ranked him higher if he missed less games, or had less injuries. He will win the MVP within the next two years. Mark it down as my semi-bold prediction of the week.
  1. LeBron James: His stats are status quo for him (25.3 PPG / 6 RPG / 7.3 ASG) & overall he’s still the best basketball player in the world. If I had to start a franchise right now, I would still choose LeBron. However, I would have to automatically disqualify him once he takes a two-week vacation during the middle of the season. Until the trades the Cavs pulled right before he returned from his “vacay”, he was being passive-aggressive on the floor, and appeared a step slow. Ever since his return, he led Cleveland back to the 2nd spot in the East, they still ended the season 7 games behind Atlanta. I can’t give the MVP to someone who’s that far behind the #1 seed, unless they’re having a truly historic season, and his season doesn’t qualify.
  1. Russell Westbrook: Westbrook is having a historic season (28.1 / 7.3 / 8.6). He’s only the 3rd player to have this many triple doubles (11) in one season. Not even Magic Johnson himself did anything like that. In any other year, he would win the award. However, I’ll take you back to 2006. Remember when Kobe Bryant was dropping 50 point games as easy as it was to breath air? When he would drop 63, in three quarters on the Mavericks; or 81 against the Raptors on his way to averaging 35 points a game??? The Laker squad he had to carry that year to the playoffs consisted of Lamar Odom and a bunch of carcasses. He was clearly the best player in basketball. You know what place he finished in the MVP voting? Fourth. Fourth!!! You can argue that Westbrook is having a season just as impressive, especially when you throw in all the triple doubles…… but you can also argue that Westbrook’s teammates are much better than that Laker team, even with Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka on the shelf. If Kobe couldn’t win MVP for carrying his team to the 8th seed during his historic season, then why should Russ?
  1. James Harden: I won’t go into all the superlatives with Harden (27.4 / 5.7 / 7), we all know what he’s been doing. I was debating with one of my friends about the whole Curry vs. Harden MVP battle, & I was arguing against Harden’s merits. Then he dropped 51/8/7 on the Kings later that night, & I was actually surprised I didn’t get an asshole-ish text immediately afterwards. But I feel like my argument holds up here. The difference between Curry and Harden is minuscule. The only thing that will separate them is the win totals. If you look at it that way, it’s hard to give the MVP to someone who’s 11 games behind his competitor, when both are the main reasons for their team’s success………
  1. Steph Curry: ………… and when you’re throwing up stats that are just as impactful as your MVP competitors (23.8 / 4.7 / 7.7; 286 3’s made, making 44%) and your team has one of the best regular season records in NBA history, how can you not get the nod? Here’s one of my favorite Curry stats this year: Curry’s putting up those statistics over the season while sitting 17 fourth quarters due to blowouts. 17. His team is better than Harden’s, no question. However, he IS the reason why they are as great as they are. Zack Lowe of Grantland, also has a great article mentioning that Curry’s style of play is the reason why teams completely scrap their defenses against the Warriors, because they have to play so much attention to him at all times.  I mentioned this earlier in the year as well, there is nothing in the NBA like Curry getting hot. If just lifts his whole team. Couple that jumper with his ball handling & his wizardry creating passes, he’s making a mockery of the defenders guarding him. Drake had it right a year ago, Steph’s been cooking with the sauce. Now, if Harden does win the MVP, I won’t be totally upset, but just understand it may not have been the right choice.

What will Constitute a Successful Season for the Toronto Raptors?

At this stage, if they can get just out of the 1st round, I think Raps nation will accept it. I’m actually disappointed about how the season has turned out for them in this regard. After building momentum from last year’s playoffs, and the first two months of the season where the Raps have the best record in the East, they have been 25-25 since Jan 1st. Now some of it was injuries (especially to their two best players, All Star Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan), but some of it was indifference and questionable coaching. They had a chance to win around 55 games this season (which would have blown away their franchise high) but their play left a lot to be desired. A couple of nights ago, they still had a shot at 50 wins against Boston & squandered that victory at the buzzer. As much as I want to believe the Raps are the team that we saw in November and December, I kinda have to lean towards the mediocre team I’ve been watching the last four months, don’t I? Now they will face the Wizards team, that not a lot of people even believe they’ll get past. Potentially, if they can get to the 2nd round and push Atlanta to 6 or 7 games before losing, I think you should tip your hat off to the Raptors, and you look forward to next season. Anything less than that, I think the Duane Casey coaching seat is going to start getting warmer. Speaking of the Wizards….

Will Deron Williams and Joe Johnson do a basketball version of “Super Ugly” on Paul Pierce’s “Ether” comments?

Well, hopefully they will on the court, because they didn’t really say much off it. The bad part about Pierce’s comments about Williams, is he’s 100% correct. Don’t forget, about 4-5- years ago, Williams was a Top-3 PG at worst, & it was considered a blessing when the Nets traded for him right before he went to Brooklyn. It’s like that Jay-Z line about Nas back in 2001, he went from Top 10 to not mentioned at all. One of my theories in sports is that teams take on the personality of their best player(s) the longer that “elite” player is there. With Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez leading the way, right now this Brooklyn team is as exciting as being served a Wonder bread sandwich with a piece of cheese. Considering who they were competing with to get to the 8th spot — Indiana whose franchise player was on a 15-min restriction limit, and Miami who was a complete M.A.S.H. unit all season long — I guess we’ll have to just dig in. I’m almost positive the Nets have killed about 30% of basketball spirit coach Lionel Hollins had for the game, making him wish he was back in Atlanta guest-analyzing games with Rick Kamla on NBA TV. Now we have to watch this depressing Nets team battle against a 60-win Atlanta squad, that will literally be returning to the scene of the crime — get well soon Thabo — and playing with a chip on their shoulders after losing one of their best defensive players on their team. As basketball fans, let’s pray this series doesn’t go past four games.

Sidenote: I don’t think enough credit goes to how bad Mikhail Prokorov and Billy King put this team together. I’d say King is fully responsible, but the pressure that Prokorov put on his shoulders to build a champion by 2015, forced him to make trades and moves that mortgaged their future until at least 2019. However, because it’s Billy King, I’m almost positive he will bring Brook Lopez back for even more money than ever before. I’m telling you, he overspends other people’s money like few people that I have ever seen.

Who is my Darkhorse team for the playoffs?

Am I allowed to say Atlanta? It may sound stupid to think of a 60-win team as a darkhorse, but I can’t honestly remember the last time a team dominated a conference like they did all season being disregarded quite like this. I think I might be the only person I know that feels that Atlanta has a real shot to make the NBA Finals. I wrote about this in January but Atlanta is anything but a fluke. This team is put together like the Spurs were last season, but the difference is, people keep thinking that the Spurs has three future Hall of Famers (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobbli) on it, which they do. Still, even last year, those guys were not playing at superstar levels individually. It was more based on a collective effort and team play that we as fans haven’t seen in decades. Atlanta plays the exact same way, it has four all stars in their primes (Al Horford, Paul Milsap, Kyle Korver) or just entering it (Jeff Teague), and proved it to everyone this year, just how successful they could be on both ends of the floor.

There are rumors that even that Raptors were angling for that 4th seed so that if they beat Washington in Round 1, they’ll have a better shot of beating Atlanta than they would of Cleveland and Chicago. I can’t say that I blame them because both the Cavs & Bulls beat the Raps like a drum all season, but we’re acting as if Atlanta can’t do the same damage. Everyone is penciling in Cleveland as the Eastern Conference representative, but most of the players on the roster (not including LeBron) as well as their coach David Blatt are playoff rookies who haven’t played in high-pressure situations of these playoff games. They’re supposed to just walk into the Finals unscathed? I still would love a healthy Chicago team to make it out, but outside of Atlanta Hawks fans, I may be the only one that wouldn’t be completely stunned if the Hawks played well into June.

Does it make sense to even discuss the Bucks – Bulls and Celtics – Cavs series?

No. I would have liked to see Giannis Antetokounmpo make some noise in Round 1, but against Chicago & their focus to get to the Finals, he may look mediocre. Outside of the Raps-Wizards series, I’m probably boycotting the rest of the East until Round 2.

Even as a 6th seed, does anyone else feel like San Antonio is a Finals favorite?

Actually, seeing that they’re playing the Clippers in Round 1, let’s ask a better question…..

Will this 1st Round series expose Doc Rivers?

It won’t expose Doc Rivers the coach, but Doc Rivers the GM. I will say this might be the best series of the 1st Round. It could very well be a slugfest. Contract Year DeAndre Jordan** will continue to man the paint as he has all season long; Chris Paul will be Chris Paul; and Blake Griffin should have a better showing than he did two years ago vs. San Antonio. That core, plus J.J. Reddick, Matt Barnes, and Jamal Crawford against the right matchup, is more than enough. Against San Antonio, I don’t feel like this is enough. This team isn’t deep enough, even though Matt Barnes has been playing better of late, they don’t really have a solid Small Forward (please don’t talk to me about Hedo “Ball” Turkoglu), if Blake or Contract Year DeAndre gets in foul trouble, you’re then asking Big Baby and Spencer Hawes to play big minutes. Worse, if CP3 starts running wild, the Spurs can thrown Kawhi Leonard on him to make his life miserable during major moments of games, and then Pops can lean on the ol’ Hack-A-Jordan routine that frazzles Contract Year DeAndre’s brain. It was great getting the homecourt edge and providing Steve Ballmer with extra playoff money to his bank account that I’m sure he doesn’t need, but I think Doc’s next order of business is to hire a solid GM in the offseason to help him make better personnel moves.

** Yes, I’m adding “Contract Year” to DeAndre’s name. Being in your Contract Year as a professional athlete is like Popeye eating his spinach or Mario getting the star in Mario Bros (cot damn did I date myself). It gives you 12 months worth of super powers, unless your name is JR Smith circa Playoffs 2013 or Kevin Love circa All Season 2015.

What are the chances that Dallas can upset Houston in Round 1?

Bigger than one might think. I would give Dallas a 45% chance. You can never underestimate playing against a rival or in-state team in the playoffs. Doesn’t matter where your seeded. It’s always intense and always close. Also, Rick Carlisle has the Rockets forwards Dwight Howard & Josh Smith to routinely put on the foul line for them to brick free throws and ruin continuity. On second thought, Kevin McHale can do the same with Rajon Rondo. I expect this series to be as chippy as the TOR – WAS series, and even more so. It also has the potential to be pretty ugly due to my previous Hack-A-Player statements. I also guarantee out of all the Western Conference series, I’ll be watching this series the least.

Does Portland have a shot vs. The Grizzlies?

Not with all the injuries they’ve sustained in the last two months that will cut into their depth. What’s more important however, will be the impact the results of this series will have on the Free Agency decisions of both LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol. Now, I don’t think either player will leave their current situations, but if either team gets dismissed quickly out of this round, you will start to hear those rumblings that one or the other may leave. In this case, that will be Aldridge, because I can’t imagine Portland getting to a Game 6. If that happens, he’s going to have to look at his team’s landscape (Wesley Matthews is an Unrestricted Free Agent coming off a torn achilles, and Robin Lopez is also a UFA) because it could change pretty drastically this summer.

Will the Warriors and Pelicans series the most excitingly short series of all time?

Lemme say this. I haven’t pitched my loyalty flag to an NBA team in decades. Not since Magic retired from the Lakers. Since then, I threw it up with the mid-90s Warriors until Tim Hardaway tore his knee up, then Chris Webber bolted after his rookie season to the Washington Bullets. Then I jumped on the Raptors bandwagon right during the VC/T-Mac era. I swore up and down during Vince’s 2nd season, we were getting the next Michael Jordan. After T-Mac left, and VC started to shows his um, “tendancies”, and he missed that shot against Philly, then beating me to Meow nightclub hours later, I jumped off the bandwagon so fast, I sprained both my ankles in the process. I fell in love with Steve Nash’s Phoenix Suns team, but between management screwing that situation up by being so cheap and not being able to get over the hump of surpassing the Spurs, Mavs, and Lakers, that ride ended for me as well. Since Blake Griffin started playing for the Clippers, I’ve been sitting pretty in the VIP section of the bandwagon…. but the way they play ball now (all the flopping and arguing after every call, plus Blake’s semi-refusal to use his physical gifts to annihilate his competition on a nightly basis) has me eyeing this Warriors squad these last two years. Hard. It didn’t help after watching how the Warriors pretty much manhandled the Clippers this season, with Curry trying to literally embarrass CP3 with every crossover, and shot fake he makes. We know they’re the best team in the NBA this season, but they are by far the most exciting. I don’t care who they play, I’m watching at least a half. If Curry or Thompson starts to heat up, and my phone starts blowing up, I’m pretty much locked in.

Which takes me to this series. Part of the reason why I didn’t want OKC to make it is, outside of Westbrook, no one else can offer any type of resistance against the Warriors. Now, let’s be clear, the Warriors will win this series in about 4 or 5 games…. but with the way Anthony Davis plays basketball right now (especially on defense), I can’t imagine him not winning one game in this series by himself, unless he gets into a deer-in-the-headlights trance that he can’t snap out of. Outside of his offense, he plays basketball with such reckless defensive abandon, that I just can’t see how he stays nervous for an entire series. Even in his young career, he’s already been on some major basketball platforms. He won an NCAA title in his only season, and has been on Team USA for their last two gold medal runs during international competition (even if he’s was sitting the bench during the 2012 Olympics, he was around that pressure firsthand). Also, the way he played against San Antonio on Wednesday night (31/13/3 blocks), carrying the Pelicans to victory in a game that the Spurs absolutely had to have, tells me he won’t back down vs. Golden St., no matter how much better they are than his team. I won’t be missing a game of this series, and trust me, you shouldn’t either.

1st Round results

Western Conference

  • Golden St. over New Orleans 4-1
  • Memphis over Portland 4-1
  • Houston over Dallas 4-3
  • San Antonio over L.A. Clippers 4-2

Eastern Conference

  • Atlanta over Brooklyn 4-0
  • Toronto over Washington 4-3
  • Cleveland over Boston 4-1
  • Chicago over Milwaukee 4-0

 

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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South Shore Ave’s NBA Season Preview: The West

Welcome to South Shore Ave’s NBA Season Preview. Today on Part 1 we are going to tackle the Western Conference, while tomorrow we’ll discuss the Eastern Conference. Simple enough right? Well, let’s get  into it then…

Can The Spurs 3-Peat this season?

I know, I know, they didn’t repeat last year, but if not for Ray Allen at the end of Game 6 in 2013, you wouldn’t have been looking at this question like it had a typo in it. Honestly though, we should be talking about a 3-Peat scenario & not a repeat one. This has been the best team in the NBA the last two years regardless of Miami basically stealing a title from them two seasons ago, & nothing has changed now. The Spurs came into the season with the best chance to repeat in comparison to the other four titles. In Gregg Popovich, they have the best culture in the NBA (& possibly team sports in North America) that gets the very best out of its young players & veterans. Like Manu Ginobli & Tony Parker before him, I expect Kawhi Leonard to officially take the mantle as the best player on the Spurs. After the performance he put on during the last three Finals games last season which ended with him being one of the youngest players in NBA history to win Finals MVP, you can say he’s ready. Let’s hope he can bring it on a consistent basis every night, because if he does, it’ll be even harder to bring the Spurs down. Add rookie Kyle Anderson to the mix with his skill level & IQ (as well as his young legs), I can see the Spurs winning yet another 60+ games in the regular season. It almost isn’t fair.

As far as Tim Duncan is concerned, I can actually see him playing for two more seasons. The fire that he played with in the playoffs the last two years is one reason, but here’s another. He has never won back-to-back titles in his career. I mean, who’s he to complain? He’s got 5! Between 2003 – 2007 he won 3 of those titles, but Derek Fisher’s “0.4 jumper” in the 2nd round of the 2004 playoffs & Dirk Nowitzi’s “And-1” in the same round two years later, halted a legitimate chance for him & the Spurs to 3-peat. It would be sweet to close the chapter on his career with a chance to repeat or possibly 3-peat by 2016; and the way the team is set up barring injuries, he has a real chance. We haven’t seen the last of Duncan yet.

“Pass It to Russ”

No one loves that classic episode of Will Smith leading Bel Air Prep to glory more than me, especially when the coach keeps telling the players, “Pass it to Smith. You know what to do” & doling out laps & push ups to any of his players questioning his method of said success. I can’t even say that this offense without Kevin Durant is going to be in the same scenario with Russell Westbrook, because who’s going to pass the ball to Westbrook when he’s the point guard handling the ball 80% of the time anyway??? He’ll only be passing to the basket. Potentially, Westbrook could be the first 6’3″ & under guard to lead the league in field goal attempts since Allen Iverson. My only question is at what point in the season will Serge Ibaka pull a Carlton & literally rip the ball out of Westbrook’s hands to get off his own shot? Nov 8th? 15th?

Seriously though, without Durant, it’s gonna be some bumpy times on Oklahoma City trusting Westbrook to make others better until KD gets back. I still expect them to get around the neighborhood of 55 wins but in the West, that could result in a 4th or 5th seed. I’m actually on the side that they will not win a title before Durant becomes a free agent for two reasons:

  1. The Thunder has not done a good enough job developing the young talent surrounding Durant & Westbrook since they traded James Harden. The pieces that they have picked up in Perry Jones III & Jeremy Lamb haven’t done anything up to par. Yeah, they might be young, but watching them in the pre-season thus far, it still looks like not much has changed. On the flip side, Steven Adams needs to start immediately. Kendrick Perkins got brought in for his veteran presence & championship know-how at a time that OKC needed it, but that was almost 4 years ago. That KD/Russ/Ibaka core are becoming vets now, it’s not as needed. He can still provide guidance without, you know, actually being on the floor. Outside of his size, he’s starting to hold the team back. Give him 10-15 mins/night, let him use his 6 fouls, and teach Adams how to be more asshole-y in practice. Enough already!
  1. The Thunder can’t win a title with Scott Brooks coaching any more. I don’t think he sucks, in fact, I feel he is a good coach. But my complaint with the Thunder is that against the elite teams, they work too hard to score baskets. It gets masked a lot of times by Durant’s scoring talents but they do most of their damage on the perimeter. They don’t have plays to get them easier baskets or have anyone with a post up game that can either collapse the paint (by drawing double teams or getting fouled) or get an easy basket. The playoffs is all about controlling the paint on both sides of the ball. Because of Ibaka, they do a wonderful job of doing that on the defensive end, but on offense at the end of games, it always bogs down to tough 20-footers. That can work against Sacramento in February, but that’s a small margin for error to work with in June. Three years after losing to the Heat in the Finals, Scott Brooks still hasn’t quite worked that out yet. I’d keep someone like George Karl on speed dial if Brooks can’t get over that hump. Too much at stake with Durant being a UFA in 2016, you can’t keep waiting for him to figure that out past this season.

Are James Harden & Dwight Howard the new Stockton and Malone?

If that means that they are destined to be ringless, then yes. I’m sorry, I will never be sold on this duo contending for titles as long as they don’t have a proper point guard that gets them into their sweet spots to take advantage of teams. I’ve said this before about Dwight, offensively he is what he is at this point. He’s a physical specimen, an athletic freak, someone who’s built to dominate on defense, but also one who’s game isn’t built to dominate the paint offensively. He’s strong as hell, can & will bully other bigs at times, but he doesn’t have that extra gear to go nuts scoring-wise like LaMarcus Aldridge did to his team last spring, dropping 40 pts at will. He doesn’t have that kind of feel or scoring touch, & he’s now in Year 12. That ship has sailed.

As far as Harden goes, he is one of the best one-on-one players in the NBA, & he’s young enough where he can still make his teammates better, but there’s something about when a player gets the green light to score or to shoot three’s, they just follow the glow of the basket. No different than a Moth to a porch light. You start leaving things behind (like defense). For example, I used to love Dan Marjele back in the day, tough two-guard with an all around game. Once he started getting the knack for shooting threes, the three point line might as well have became a cliff because he rarely went past it. Even when Tracy McGrady was with the Raptors, he was becoming a really good all-around player who took pride in locking dudes up on defense. Once he left the T-dot & started winning scoring titles, the defensive intensity dropped considerably. A similar thing has happened to Harden, where he was actually one of the better defenders in OKC, & now in Houston he plays defense like he’s intentionally point shaving. Apparently, he played better on defense in the World Championships this summer so let’s see if it translates over now. Something tells me he’s going to need Rosetta Stone to re-learn this concept.

As far as the offseason moves, I know having three superstars to play on a team is supposed to give you a better chance to win. I agree…..but it has to be the right three superstars/stars, it can’t just be any collection. Chasing down Carmelo Anthony was a foolish move because he doesn’t share the ball, it’ll be three players jacking shots & mostly likely Dwight Howard would be the one bitching & complaining because he’s getting the least out of the pie. As my friend Luugi would say, it’s a trainwreck waiting to happen. The big move that makes the most sense is acquiring Rajon Rondo. He’s a star guard who plays on both ends of the ball, has championship pedigree, & unlike most stars, he lives to make others better with his passing. Someone will have to sacrifice or be  the one to share the basketball. If he ends up on the Rockets somehow, then they’ll truly be a threat to win it all. Until then, they’ll have to keep playing the field.

Did Steve Ballmer overpay to purchase the Clippers?

I will say yes and no. Yes, obviously because paying TWO BILLION dollars in a league where maybe one team was worth $1B is ridiculous. But then you start to think of all the opportunities you get when you wipe the slate clean from the Donald T. Sterling era if you’re Ballmer. You can come in on a horse like a hero and provide stability to a franchise that never had it before. You have Doc Rivers here for the next 5+ years on the bench and running your front office. You have exciting assets in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin that are not only among the best players in the league, but also among the most marketable, especially Griffin who’s on TV way more these days than any player with maybe the exception of LeBron James. The Clippers lost some sponsors during the Sterling/V.Stiviano fiasco, not only will you get those ones back, but with the new energy that’s provided, you’ll get even more sponsors. I’m not just talking locally, but nationally & possibly globally. With the new TV Deal the NBA signed with Turner Sports & ESPN/ABC, which almost tripled the current deal, you just guaranteed a rapid increase in profits, while your team hasn’t even played a real NBA game yet.

Looking at the decline of the Lakers with management that’s losing credibility points with every major free agent that shoots them down; Kobe Bryant on his last legs & no one in sight to take the mantle of being the next great Laker; the Clippers can make a real dent as the kings of L.A. sports scene for the foreseeable future. It’ll never truly be a Clippers town just like New York can never truly be a Mets town as long as the Yankees reside in the Bronx. But in the 2nd largest TV market in America, making a dent in popularity here holds real value and weight. Now, say you continue to make deep playoff runs (which the team is currently built to do for the short and long term) that ends in the conference finals, or better yet a championship or two, & you look over at the Lakers situation which is floundering in comparison to yours but have their own lucrative local TV deal…..well……. then why can’t you get your own television network? There’s a reason why there was a crazy bidding war for this franchise, because the wealth groups & bidders like Ballmer see the same things I just laid out for you, plus other scenarios down the line that we don’t even see coming. So for now, yes, Ballmer did overpay, but considering what the possibilities are, the franchise will be worth that $2B price tag much sooner than you & I think.

As far as basketball side of things, the Clippers will be the Western Conference’s best answer this season to stop the Spurs from getting back to the Finals for a third straight season. I don’t think it will happen, as long as the Spurs stay healthy. If not, the Clippers will head to their first NBA Finals ever with great chance to win it, whoever they meet on the other side of the bracket.

Biggest Sleeper

Hard to predict any of the playoff teams creeping up on anyone, as all of them are determined to beat their brains in every night, so I’ll pick a non-playoff team…..and it’s not Phoenix. I can see the Denver Nuggets flirting with 50 wins this season & fighting for that 8th seed all season long. This team was deep last year, but also unhealthy. Getting back Danilo Gallinari to fill that SF spot is beyond huge. They basically stole Aaron Afflalo from the Orlando Magic. Getting back Nate Robinson & JaVale McGee from their injuries, & having Kenneth Faried fresh off his impact he had on Team USA during the World Championships this summer (& his freshly-minted 4 year/$50M deal), don’t be surprised if by January you see all the “Nuggets on the Rise!” & “Where did this team come from?!?!” stories popping out from everywhere.

Regular Season Power Rankings

1. San Antonio – Best team in the NBA, signed all their free agents back, & is working on Kawhi Leonard’s extension. Best chance to repeat out of all their title defenses.

2. L.A Clippers – It feels like it was so long ago that V. Stiviano was a part of our lives, huh?

3. Oklahoma City – “That’ll be 20 laps chowderhead! Pass it to Will Russ!”

4. Portland – I feel a monster season from Damian Lillard coming. And a mixtape.

5. Dallas – Quietly had a solid off-season. Getting back Tyson Chandler & grabbing Chandler Parsons and Jameer Nelson from free agency.

6. Golden St. – If Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green can step their games up this offseason, this team will be really dangerous.

7. Houston – Will feel the loss of “that role player” Parsons more than they think. When I say “they”, I meant James Harden & Dwight Howard. Smh.

8. Memphis – Can’t believe I’m saying this, but I like the signing of Vincent Lamar Carter to the team. Gonna go take a shower now, I felt really dirty typing that.

9. Denver – Will be the best non-playoff team in the NBA this season. Will probably win 50 games too.

10. Phoenix – Like that they resigned Eric Bledsoe. Don’t understand why they have four PGs on the roster (Blesdoe, Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas & Tyler Ennis). I smell a trade package coming.

11. New Orleans – The Unibrow will take one step further to superstardom. It won’t mean anything in the West, but still.

12. Sacramento – DeMarcus Cousins wanted to limit his technicals this season. He has 4 techs in the preseason so far. Sigh. Another long season coming.

13. L.A. Lakers – Remember when Kobe carried that shitty Laker team in 2006 & 2007 to playoff seeds? Well that Kobe was in his prime & he had Phil Jackson on the bench. Old Kobe & Byron Scott? 30 wins max.

14. Minnesota – Potentially the most exciting team in the NBA. Will lose plenty. Also, I predict Andrew Wiggins & Zach LaVine will combine to own the dunk contest this year like VC & TMac did in 2000. Without the earth-shattering impact of course.

15. Utah – The Western Conference version of a dumpster fire.

CLICK HERE TO SEE PART TWO: THE EASTERN CONFERENCE

 

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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South Shore Ave’s NBA Playoff Preview: The West

Welcome to South Shore Ave’s NBA Playoff Preview #SaturdayMorningSpecial. With the help of my friend Headley Bent, we’ll provide you with a quick and efficient breakdown of the Western 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….

What player can make himself a star in the Western Conference Playoffs?

Cee: Damian Lillard. Especially in the 1st round vs. Houston. He’ll have a pest guarding him in Patrick Beverley that will do everything in his power to get under his skin, but Lillard is not only a great talent, but he has that icy calm demeanor that’s almost built for the playoffs. I can see him exploding on the Rockets (no pun intended) for some big numbers this series (prediction: 25/5/6; 45% FG/88%FT/43% 3FG, at least 5-7 backbreaking 3s). This will be Lillard’s official coming out party, he’s a beast ready to be unleashed from the cage, & the Beverley/Lin combo won’t be able to match.

Does part of me want to see the Rockets lose in the 1st round just to see the possible train wreck capabilities? Sure. But the reason I think Portland will beat Houston in this round is because I think you can score points on Houston. A lot! Especially in the last half of the season. Plus Houston depends on too many 3s which I think could bite them in the ass against Portland if they are not shooting well. More than James Harden, this series depends on how well Dwight Howard controls the paint on both ends of the floor. If he flashes that 2009 D12 version who put Orlando on his back all the way to the Finals, then my prediction will be wrong. But I think that version of him is diminished now. This version I can see getting frustrated with Robin Lopez on offense, being annoyed that he’s not getting enough touches to match what LaMarcus Aldridge is doing to his team. I’m calling the Blazers in 6 with numerous Lillard stories popping out the woodwork.

Headley: To be a star, you need to play a couple rounds at least. So that automatically drops Golden St., Memphis, and Dallas. But I will say this, with Memphis getting the #7 seed, let’s just say I’ll be watching that series against OKC closely. It hurts because Steph Curry could be that guy if his team went deep. San Antonio and OKC have their megastars solidified and have been to the finals, so to me, that leaves LAC, Houston, or Portland to have somebody step out of the shadows. LAC and Houston have “programmed stars” so a run won’t develop a star. That to me leaves Portland. And I do like them edging out Houston, so I think it’s time for LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard to up the ante. Both are All-Stars with no post season glamour. It would be fitting for Lillard after his first All-Star (doing all five events during All Star Weekend) and him freshly inking a $100M Adidas contract to go H.A.M. What’s Weber State school colors again? I’m rooting for him, especially since Aldridge, just a year ago, was leaking stories he wanted out… and he did want out.

Who is the Darkhorse Favorite?

Cee: I would have said Golden State if Andrew Bogut didn’t get sidelined with fractured ribs. Now the Clippers will abuse the paint in what will still be an incredible series. However, after seeing what we saw in last year’s playoffs, I won’t count out another Steph Curry shooting rampage from occurring. Curry much like LeBron & Durant, has the ability to carry you for an entire series if possible, but we’ll rule them out as I think the Clippers are too deep for them, & will have no answer whatsoever for Chris Paul, & especially Blake Griffin.

You know what? I’m gonna say the Clippers. I don’t care if they are the 3rd seed, considering the only time they made the NBA Finals was when I used them in season mode on NBA 2K12, they get the nod here. Right now as it stands, Oklahoma City has had their number the last few years whenever they’ve been fully healthy; and San Antonio is, well, San Antonio. They love to take away what you do best during the playoffs, be it pick-and-rolls, duck-ins, drives and kicks, etc. However, for the Clippers to get to the Finals, Griffin has to continue to be dominant and if possible, take his game to a higher level and attack the Spurs’ bigs relentlessly. In fact, both he and DeAndre Jordan (only the 3rd player in NBA history to lead the league in Rebounds and Field Goal percentage) have to own the paint these playoffs, it doesn’t matter how great Chris Paul plays. Their playoff success depends on those two guys. We’ll see if they learned anything from the beat down they took from Gasol & Z-Bo in last year’s playoffs vs. Memphis.

Headley: Isn’t the LA Clippers as a #3 seed a darkhorse? If not… I like Portland to cause noise because if they sneak by Houston, their legs will be hard for San Antonio to handle. I’m not ready to count the Spurs out (they’re too resilient),  but I really think the Portland matchup against Houston is harder than the Spurs matchup. So there. I said it…kinda…sorta….

Between Houston, Golden State and Los Angeles Clippers, Who Would be Devastated the Most by a 1st Round Upset?

Cee: I think the Clippers would be hurt the most by this. The Clippers owner Donald Sterling, as we all know, has been notoriously cheap with his money when it comes to spending on talent (among other things). In the past few years, due to the additions of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, he has opened his wallet up. This past offseason, they added to their bench, signed J.J. Reddick, & most importantly, gave free reign and power to Doc Rivers, and the head coach and VP of basketball operations. The last thing they want to do is follow up last season’s 1st round flameout (with 55 wins in the regular season) with the most wins in franchise history (57) and another first round flameout. It’s not going to mash the team up this offseason or anything to that affect, but with the Lakers down right now, this is the perfect time to go on a lengthy playoff run & really solidify themselves with the city of Los Angeles. If they go down in the 1st round yet again & the Lakers happen to reload this offseason, they would have wasted yet another opportunity and they’ll continue to be the little brothers of Staples Center and the City until they get over the hump.

Headley: Let’s drop Golden St. out of this competition because they are going to lose. And as sixth seed… you can’t be that devastated can you?!??! Yes they had higher hopes when the season began but between the assistant coach carousal and injuries, it is what it is. I don’t see the G-State bringing out the towels. It has to be between the two teams with home court advantage. I see the Clippers learning from their early exit from Memphis last year to not repeat that scenario…. but if it did happen, they would be demoralized. However, seeing that I have them in the finals, I see the probability of it happening to Houston. To recap, G-State shouldn’t be that upset. When an acne-faced girl doesn’t get asked to the prom, you’re disappointed but not surprised. With the Clippers just recording the best season in franchise history, they would take the loss the worse, but I think Houston has the best chance of being devastated with a matchup against Portland. Portland is playing well to end the season and ending with identical records. Momentum might be the difference with Portland getting the edge. And Portland seems fresher right now. I see Houston with the higher probability of being disappointed. After the exhausting experience of finally landing Howard and hosting a playoff series in years, they didn’t do all this positioning for the last three off seasons to lose in May.

Who Will Come Out the West?

Cee: Playoffs is as much about avoiding certain matchups than anything else. TNT’s Kenny Smith always claims that his Houston team won those back-to-back titles, but happily avoided the Seattle Sonic teams with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp along the way because that team without question had their number. They lost to them in the 1993 playoffs, avoided them when the Sonics were upset by both the Denver Nuggets in ’94 & the Lakers in ’95 in the 1st round. When they met them in the ’96 playoffs, the Sonics ran through them like bad taco meat. I feel like San Antonio feels the same way about Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Two years ago, they lost the last four games of a six-game series and it looked like the future in the West belonged to the Thunder. Then last season, Harden gets traded, Westbrook goes down with a knee injury in Round one, and OKC goes down to Memphis in Round two, leaving the door open for the Spurs to capitalize (which they did). With OKC fully healthy and going into the playoffs, they, more than the Spurs, are the favorite to get out of the West, unless Westbrook’s knee gives out again. The Durant/Westbrook combo has given the Spurs a lot of problems in the past, and the way Durant has improved from even last season will only be harder for the Spurs to deal with.  If OKC makes it to the conference Finals, they will go to the NBA Finals. If they don’t, it will be the Spurs that will go in their place.

Headley: The way San Antonio is playing, it’s hard to count them out. Although each year I expect them to bow out and they never do, like they on that HGH and keep turning the clock back. I, however, don’t see OKC being their foe in the finals. KD is money, but Westbrook doesn’t have any sense. With Perkins deteriorating like paper under a sunny window sill, and G-State, Houston, LAC, Memphis, and Portland all getting stronger in the paint…..I see the team to beat SA (yes beat) is the LA Clippers. Had they not lost their starting backcourt to a combined +60 games… they would probably have the best record in the NBA. Plus, I’m a fan of their mid-season pickups (Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Danny Granger), which will help them with any depth issues too.

Western Conference Playoff Predictions

Cal Cee

1st Round

1. Spurs over 8. Mavericks

5. Trailblazers over 4. Rockets

2. Thunder over 7. Memphis

3. Clippers over 6. Warriors

Western Semis

1. Spurs over 5. Trailblazers

2. Thunder over 3. Clippers

Conference Finals

2. Thunder over 1. San Antonio

Headley

1st Round

1. Spurs over 8. Mavericks

5. Trailblazers over 4. Rockets

2. Thunder over 7. Grizzlies

3. Clippers over 6. Warriors

Western Semis

3. Clippers over 2. Thunder

1. Spurs over 5. Trailblazers

Conference Finals

3. Clippers over Spurs

 

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.