Tag Archives: NBA Playoffs

The Ave Podcast – The Warriors, The Cavs, & the Future…

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 25: The Warriors, The Cavs, & the Future…

Today on The Ave Podcast, we share our thoughts on the 2017 NBA Finals. We discuss where the Warriors, the Cavs, and the rest of the NBA go from here, if we should embrace the Superteam era, if there are any serious contenders for the throne, if there can be an effective way to stop the Smallball era, plus more.

*** Thanks for tuning in to the podcast as always. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast below. Today’s podcast is available for streaming and download. Please enjoy. ***

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee // Episode 25

 

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https://app.box.com/s/t7wzkxy4sxs4ynx19axjm0mqg76akxcj

 

 

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 R “Jules Da Commish” for his guest appearance on this podcast.

 

The Ave Podcast – Raptors, NBA Playoffs, & DAMN.

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 21: Raptors, NBA Playoffs, & DAMN. 

Today of The Ave Podcast, I invite friends of the Podcast DJ Chris Nice & Headley, as we discuss the Raptors playoff series with the Milwaukee Bucks, Game 6 predictions, as well our favorite moments from the rest of the NBA Playoff landscape.

Towards the end of the Podcast, Shawn Adonis (past contributor to South Shore Ave) joins me to break down Kendrick Lamar’s new album “DAMN”. We also break down where it ranks among his other albums, how it affects the Hip Hop culture, Drake vs. Kendrick comparisons, 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 21

 

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

https://app.box.com/s/030bu1xoxl56wbst096soa267dlht3yr

 

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, Headley, and Shawn Adonis for their guest appearances 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

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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 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.

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

Headley

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.