Tag Archives: Kyrie Irving

NBA All Stars: Who should the starters be?

The NBA All star voting concluded on Monday leaving some people with questions as to how legitimate the voting system has become in the NBA. Golden State Warriors Center Zaza Pachulia has racked up enough votes to possibly become the Western Conference stater at the 5 position. Over 21 million votes have been cast in this years voting, which is a 142% increase from last years game. The starters are determined by voting that is combined from the fans (50%), players (25%), and the media (25%). The starters for the All Star game will be chosen tonight on TNT on a special edition of NBA tip off. We pick who SHOULD start the game.

Eastern conference:

Guards:

NBA: DEC 23 Knicks at Cavaliers : News Photo

Kyrie Irving

Irving is averaging 23.6 points per game along with 5.6 assists. During the season, Irving has put Lebron in the backseat for some clutch moments including the dagger on Christmas day against Golden State. One of the best young players in the game, Irving is the best point guard in the Eastern Conference.

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Isaiah Thomas

Thomas is averaging 28.7 points per game combined with 6 assists. This season, Isaiah has put the team on his back which has garnered him the nickname “King of the Fourth”. Thomas has taken over games time and time again averaging the most points in the 4th quarter in the NBA.

Frontcourt:

Washington Wizards vs Cleveland Cavaliers : News Photo

Lebron James

James is obviously a shoe in to be an all star because he is the BEST player in the league, no questions asked. James is averaging 25.6 points, 8.1 assist, and 7.8 rebounds per game. James can do anything on a basketball court, he has great court vision and superior athletic ability making him the most dangerous player in the game.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Greek Freak jumped onto the scene last year with some impressive highlights, but this season he has really turned into a fantastic player. Giannis is averaging 23.7 points, 5.6 assists, and 8.7 rebounds per game. He has shown is freakish athleticism time and time again this year with highlight reel dunks. The 22 year old has a very bright future.

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Joel Embiid

Embiid is the first draft pick to somewhat look like he is going to pan out like they planned. Embiid is leading the Sixers, averaging 19.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. “The Process” is dominating the game down low.

Western Conference:

Guards:

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James Harden

Harden is my favorite for MVP right now. He’s taken an average Rockets team and made them one of the best teams in the league. Harden is averaging 28.9 points, 11.6 assists, and 8.3 rebounds per game. The former backup to Russell Westbrook has moved past him for best point guard in the Western Conference. Harden controls the game and limits his turnovers making everyone around him better.

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Russell Westbrook

There are really no words to explain what Russell Westbrook is doing to the league this year. Although his turnover numbers could be much better, you can’t ignore his stats, 30.6 points, 10.4 assists, and 10.6 rebounds per game. Averaging a triple double has been damn near impossible in the NBA. But if he continues down this road, it could go down as one of the best statistical season ever.

Frontcourt:

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Kevin Durant

Durant has received a lot of hate for he offseason move to the Warriors. It has not gone as well as some people imagined, but Durant’s play has been consistent as he had a 40 point outburst last night against his former team in the Oracle. On a team with a ton of scorers, Durant is still averaging 26.7 points per game on top of 4.7 assists and 8.6 rebounds.

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Kawhi Leonard

Arguably one of the most underrated players in the NBA, Kawhi Leonard has become THE guy in San Antonio. He is the complete package, an excellent defender, paired with ability to score at will. Leonard has become a top tier player in the West. His stats aren’t indicative of how important he is to the team, with 24.8 points, 3.1 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game.

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Anthony Davis

Davis is a premier player in the NBA. He is the best center in the NBA and is carrying an awful team down in New Orleans. Davis is averaging 28.8 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. If you could start your franchise with one player, this guy has to be close to the top of the list because he is a fantastic talent in the NBA.

Tune in to NBA Tip off on TNT tonight to see which players receive the honor of starting in this year’s All Star game.

 

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U.S. vs Them: Can Anyone Beat USA Basketball in Rio?

The 2016 Summer Olympics are set to begin next Friday in Rio De Janerio, and with them, the United States men’s national basketball team will look to win its third consecutive gold medal. In seventeen appearances at the Olympic Games, USA Basketball has won fourteen gold medals; a mark that sets the bar high and the level of embarrassment in losing even higher.

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After losing at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul with a roster of collegiate players, Team USA decided to give a middle finger to the world in 1992, assembling a roster that can only be described as epic. USA blew everyone out on their way to a gold medal, never scoring below 100 points and never winning by less than 30. It was the biggest f*** you in all of sports, and the rest of the world had no answer for it. The dominance continued through the next two Olympics, where Team USA ran away with gold in both. They entered 2004 with a 24-0 record since the Dream Team was installed, and boasted another stellar roster.

The roster included Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson in their prime, as well as a young Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and 19-year old LeBron James. Despite all the skill and star-power, that team mind-blowingly finished third behind Italy and Argentina, who combined for a grand total of 1 NBA player; Manu Ginobili. In retrospect, that USA Basketball team could be in the running for biggest sports disappointment of all time. When youth coaches want to show young players what “complacency” is, they reach for film from 2004 Athens.

You might think a roster starring Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving would be a lock for gold, but nothing is a given, just ask the 2004 team. While it is unlikely that a 38-year old Ginobili will be any threat to USA Basketball’s gold medal chances, there are other teams with decent talent that are flying under the radar.

USA’s first matchup, China, boasts a roster of young players, a roster which Team USA completely decimated in a pre-olympic showcase on Sunday. Yawn. Next contestant, please. Their next opponent will be Venezuela, a team that is playing in just their second Olympic Games and their first since 1992. So, why should we consider taking them seriously? They are an up-and-coming basketball nation. They won the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship over Argentina, a team that beat Team USA in the 2004 Olympics. They may be an afterthought to us, but they are familiar to the big stage; over 20,000 were in attendance for the final in that tournament.

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France is perhaps the biggest threat from a talent standpoint for the United States. 4 NBA players are on their roster, highlighted by Boris Diaw and Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs. Joining them is Joffrey Lauvergne, a 6’11 power forward for the Denver Nuggets who shows promise as a defender but the general consensus is that he needs to bulk up.

Look, nobody is arguing that the United States isn’t going to win this thing. In fact, you would be insane to say they won’t. However, we would be ignorant to ignore the talent around the rest of the world. It takes the perfect storm to dethrone a team of this magnitude, but perhaps a mix of complacency in Team USA and hunger in an opponent could be enough to tip the scale.

Cavaliers Take Advantage of Draymond Green Suspension to Force Game 6, So What Now?

There is a common saying in the NBA that a playoff series doesn’t begin until a team wins on the road. While this is usually the case in most situations, it appeared to be the exact opposite in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors went to Cleveland up 2-0 in the series, already crowned presumptive NBA Champions by many. While the Cavaliers were able to dominate in Game 3, a strong road win by the Warriors in Game 4 behind a 38-point performance from back-to-back MVP Steph Curry had most basketball fans agreeing the series was essentially over. Instead of starting a competitive series by winning on the road, the Warriors ended it.

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Or so we thought.

Big news came out Sunday night when the NBA announced Draymond Green would be suspended for Game 5 after his altercation with LeBron James in the later stages of Game 4 was upgraded to a flagrant-1 foul. Green had already been under the microscope this postseason for three previous flagrant fouls, and the most recent one warranted an automatic one game suspension.

This suspension was met with much controversy from the media, fans and players. Klay Thompson, reacting to the news, said “I guess his feelings just got hurt. I mean, we’ve all been called plenty of bad words on the basketball court before. Some guys just react to it differently.” When asked about Thompson’s comments, James chose to take the “high road,” a statement that was mocked by Ayesha Curry, wife of Steph Curry, who tweeted “High Road. invisible bridge used to step over said person when open floor is available left to right.”

James received harsh criticism for this response, primarily from Mychal Thompson, father of Klay Thompson, who continued the recent trend of former NBA players in their mid-50’s complaining about everything, said “LeBron couldn’t have survived in the 80s with the physicality and the words guys said to each other back then.”

I understand that LeBron should have shrugged this off, but given the intensity of the series and the fact that he was probably pissed off with how the game was going, you can see why he did it. That’s not to say it was acceptable, but if LeBron played nice and walked away, Draymond could have been in Game 5 and we could be talking about a series recap right now. The truth is, the suspension to Green may have been the small springboard of momentum the Cavaliers needed going into Game 5 to earn themselves a chance to fight again.

Despite Draymond Green being out of the lineup (and out of the building for that matter), it was hard to envision the Cavaliers winning this game. The way in which Golden State won Game 4, raining down three-pointers and stealing the game in front of the Cleveland faithful, appeared to take away any heart this Cavaliers team had left. The Warriors hit 17 three-pointers in Game 4, the most in NBA Finals history. With each drained bucket, the body language for every player on the Cavaliers went from bad to worse. Game 5 began with a flurry of offense from both teams, with the score 32-29 Golden State at the end of the first quarter. In the second, Klay Thompson seemingly draining a shot every time he touched the basketball, with four deep 3-pointers highlighting his performance in the first half.

However, once the second half began, the Cavs hit the gas. More importantly, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving caught fire. Both finished with 41 points, handling most of the heavy lifting for a Cavaliers roster that has struggled to match the depth of the Warriors. In similar situations last year during the Finals, LeBron had to churn out a solo effort in order to get the job done. Now, he has a wingman.

So, does this win shift the outlook of this series? Sure. Kyrie Irving finally had the game he needed in order to establish himself as a star in big moments, something we haven’t necessarily seen on his resume thus far in the league. Shades of it were present in Game 4, but this 41 point night had much more of an impact. In previous games, Irving appeared to fade under the spotlight, but somehow, he found a hot streak in the hostile confines of a rocking Oracle Arena. Additionally, we saw a killer instinct from LeBron James that hasn’t come out in a long, long time. That being said, none of it will matter if the Cavaliers can’t get it done on Thursday night. Despite the great game, they will still have a monster to contend with when Draymond Green returns. Despite 41 points from LeBron and Irving, the pressure is still on the Cavaliers, and they will have to prove they can handle it.

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Where is the Love?

Since returning from his concussion sustained in Game 1, you would think Kevin Love hasn’t actually returned from his concussion sustained in Game 1. He’s not doing himself any favors in proving he isn’t the odd man out on this Cavalier’s roster, and in Game 5 he finished just 1-5 with 2 points in 33 minutes of action. Someone needs to start a search party in Cleveland for this guy, because his picture is about to show up in the missing persons report. Love’s poor play has only fueled local Bostonians’ hopes of landing him next season, so it could shape up to be one interesting offseason.

Celtics Streak Ends in Cleveland

Brad Stevens, head coach of Boston Celtics during the NBA Regular Season basketball game between Sacramento Kings and Boston Celtics at the Mexico City Arena on December 03, 2015 in Mexico City, Mexico.

The last time Boston traveled to Cleveland, the Celtics capped off a huge comeback win, scoring eight points in the final eight seconds topped off by an Avery Bradley game winning three pointer. Not only did Bradley’s brilliance shine through, but head coach Brad Stevens orchestrated the perfect play. This time the Celtics were coming into Cleveland on a five game winning streak. Unfortunately, the outcome was different. The top seeded Cavaliers beat the Celtics handily 120-103.

The Celtics jumped out to a quick lead in the first quarter, dominating play and outscoring the Cavs 35-22. Isaiah Thomas and Evan Turner led the way, going 7 of 9 from the field with a combined 16 points, while the Cavs struggled mightily in finding their offensive game with their leading scorer being Timofey Mozgov with 6 points. LeBron and Kyrie failed to lead the charge, and the Cavs seemed to be on their heels for the first 8 minutes of the game. Cleveland found themselves down 18 early, but was able to close the gap by scoring the final five points of the first quarter.

The Cavs, taking their momentum from the end of the first quarter, were able to put together an incredible run, outscoring the Celtics 82-50 from the second quarter to the final 9 minutes of the game. Boston was able to close the gap to 9 with 3 minutes remaining in the game, but failed to put together a solid string of offensive possessions.

The loss ended the Celtics’ 5 game winning streak, but Isaiah Thomas continued his hot pace, scoring 27 points and adding four assists and three rebounds. Jared Sullinger had another impressive outing, recording a double-double 17 points and 13 rebounds. The Cavaliers offense was sparked by a usual suspect, LeBron James. James came just two assists shy of a triple double; scoring 28 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and dishing out eight assists.

LeBron not only had himself another great performance, but he also made history, being the third player along with Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to score at least 10 points in 700 consecutive games.

Pretty elite company.

Looking down the road, the Celtics have a tough schedule, which will surely test how battle tested the Celtics truly are for their push toward the playoffs. With upcoming games against Western Conference powerhouses like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, and Golden State Warriors, the Celtics need to keep grinding if they want to hold onto the third spot in the Eastern Conference.

In regards to their in-conference foes, it might not be the last time we see the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the East being typically weaker than the West, the expectation is that they will find themselves back in the Conference finals. Although the Celtics dropped the last game in the season series and came out on the losing end of 2-1, the Celtics should be excited for their future, proving they can hang with the best.