NBA 2012: Story lines, predictions

Dwight Howard-Ray AllenJust think, a year ago we were all telling jokes about how LeBron James had no rings, no killer instinct, and couldn’t put the team on his back.  Now after he won the NBA Championship, MVP, NBA Finals MVP, and an Olympic Gold Medal in the past year we are now asking what’s next?  Can LeBron take himself to MJ levels?  Can he be the greatest of all-time?  And that has to be the main storyline for the upcoming 2012-13 season.

The Miami Heat:  The Heat come into 2013 as the defending champions and all the pressure is on them to take control of the NBA like they did last year.  The big storyline is can they repeat?  If so, can they go on a historic run like Jordan did with the Bulls and win multiple titles in a row?  Miami not only has the best player in the NBA, LeBron, but they now surrounded that man with shooters all around him signing the best 3-point shooter off all-time, Ray Allen.  Last year in the Playoffs, the Heat figured out who they are and it only took them two years to do it!  The Heat run an unprecedented offense with “no positions”, it will consist of LeBron doing whatever he wants and surrounding him with shooters.  The Miami Heat are clearly the team to beat in the NBA.

Los Angeles Lakers: Arguably the next biggest storyline of the off-season was the Lakers making trades to give a three-year window to allow Kobe Bryant to at least (and hopefully surpass) Michael Jordan’s six NBA Titles.  The Lakers shocked the world by not only getting Steve Nash (the best point guard that Kobe will ever play with), they traded for the much maligned and best Center in the NBA, Dwight Howard.  The Lakers are now four-deep in their starting lineup with potential Hall-of-Famers, and the Artest formerly known as Ron, Metta World Peace will only have to be a spot up shooter and play defense.  The question is can this team gel and do they have enough in their legs to last a grueling 82 game season with a long playoff run?  Dwight Howard is the great equalizer and one of the best defenders in the NBA who can clog the middle.  The Lakers will be learning to play with each other on the run and are installing the new Princeton offense.  The Lakers will start slow but will hit their stride later in the season, don’t panic if the start off around .500.

James Harden Trade:  The Los Angeles Lakers main competition to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals to a big step when the Oklahoma City Thunder abruptly traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets.  As a small market team, the Thunder “said” they couldn’t have three max players and decided to low-ball James Harden after paying Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge  .  In the short-term, the Thunder are hurt by this trade in the Western Conference, they get a big-time scorer in Kevin Martin and a developmental two-guard with Jeremy Lamb, but that won’t replace the Sixth-Man of the Year.  In the long-term the Thunder might be better off.  Westbrook and Durant are still in their early 20′s and will eventually have to sign another contract, Sam Presti and the Thunder want to make sure that the talent they have will get better and they know in three years that the Lakers will potentially be without Nash and Bryant. Read more…

2012 Fantasy Basketball: Top 5 Forwards

LeBron James

Lebron James of the Miami Heat leads the list of the top 5 NBA Fantasy Basketball forwards.

One of my colleagues made a point to point out that Kobe Bryant wasn’t a point guard if you get my point. I apologize for the confusion, but I meant to say top 5 guards, which can be PG or SG. The same colleague also wanted to know my player name on Fantazzle, because he recently joined and claimed he wanted to make sure he knew who to beat. For all other players motivated by beating me (ha-ha I hope not many) the name is Tobinator44 and I look forward to all Fantazzle challengers. With NBA opening day looming closer I move on to my highest scoring fantasy basketball position, the Forwards. I love the fact that King James and the Durantula can potentially score me 50 a night, but I also have to realize how much they cost in salary games. They are excellent picks in limited lineup games. So here it goes, my top 5 forwards and this can be SF or PF.

Lebron James: I have to admit, this may be because of some personal bias. I am a huge King James fan. Lebron is the most prolific player in the NBA (take that Kobe fans.) His presence of the court reminds me of MJ’s presence (I know he doesn’t have all the rings, but he will.) For daily fantasy players he is a promise of 25 pts and 10/10 rebounds/assists, for me he is a promise of NBA greatness!

Kevin Durant: The Durantula is sick. The guy is crazy good and he rivals the fantasy power of the King himself.  The guy just recently put up 44 in a preseason game, along with points in each fantasy category. He will average exactly the same as Lebron, but will run you a pretty penny in all salary leagues. He will score, but will he be worth the price in anything but limited lineup leagues.

Blake Griffin: Griffin is the greatest dunker of all time. Big statement, but the guy dunked over a car and he makes the Sports Center Top 10 daily. Griffin is in the teens in points and rebounds every night. He solidifies the term double double. I have to take him just because of the alley’s he gets from Chris Paul. He will be a little less pricey and a better option in salary leagues. Read more…

Ménage à Trois: The NBA’s love triangle

Don’t worry, my loyal readers, this isn’t some kind of actual weird love triangle with NBA players, where Chic-Fil-A fans will burst into my house and ‘teach me a lesson’.  Instead, this ‘Love Triangle’ in the NBA is the top three teams trying to win my affection and eventual choice as the favorites going into the NBA season a couple of months away.

Those three teams are, of course, the defending NBA Champions the Miami LeBrons Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and after stealing Dwight Howard away from the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Think of it like the Bachelorette finale (shameless way of getting girls attention to keep reading), I went on three different dates and met the players and the families a.k.a. the Front Office’s of the three teams, but who did I give my final rose to?

Seeing as I’m getting older, I wanted to feel young again so my first encounter was with the Oklahoma City Thunder.  They took me out to the only bar in Oklahoma City and tried liquoring me up to get me to give it up. (It being the rose, get your mind out of the gutter!). I enjoyed my time with them, they have a young nucleus with Kevin Durant, turns 24 next month, Russell Westbrook, turns 24 a month into the season, and James Harden, turns 23 this month.  Durant is the biggest mismatch in the NBA standing at 6’11 as small forward, or the 3, and has in the gym range.  The Thunder were the favorites after defeating the Spurs in the Western Conference Championship, but got caught up by their lack of experience and LeBron realizing he’s the best player since Michael Jordan, and evolving like he’s a Pokemon character.  But with this team getting older, more mature, and simply getting better they made a strong argument for the final rose.

Next up, I took my talents to South Beach..(I had to.)  LeBron, a limping DWade and a still dapper and great-haired Pat Riley picked me up from the airport in LeBron’s Mom’s Hummer, I didn’t appreciate their lack of love for the ecosystem, but I was impressed.  After wining and dining me all night, the master negotiator, Riley, made his pitch on why they deserved my final rose.  The aforementioned greatest player since Jordan, LeBron James, figured out how to play as their point forward, Wade is now his Scottie Pippen, and they signed the greatest three-point shooter ever, Ray Allen, while also signing Rashard Lewis, one of the most overpaid athletes of all-time, but he has one job – hit threes.  The Heat will keep playing the Oregon offense in the fast-break, while posting up LeBron and putting 4 shooters around him, not to mention they are the best defensive team in the league.  Nice job Pat. Read more…

Why the Heat will win next year’s NBA Finals

LeBron JamesLebron James is that player, love him, hate, or not care about him at all. You take one peek at the man’s game and you see things that other NBA players simply can’t do.

Pass, he can do that.Score, he can do that.Rebound, he can do that.

Defend, yes he can do that too.

All at an elite level. Durant, Kobe and Wade may have ice Water, but James gives your team a chance to win every night. See Cleveland before and after King James.

II) They have tasted blood.

Now that Heat has seen what it takes to win along with the fact that they are still young enough to do something about it, it’s just a matter of them staying healthy to win a finals next year.

Simply put, they have a distinct advantage of other teams looking either to get back to the finals like the Lakers and Spurs because as good as those teams are they still have to fight with father time as well as a full 82 game season after an Olympic year. That will see Nash,Ginibali,Parker, and Kobe all play this summer adding mileage onto already seasoned knees and cartilage.  Read More…

LeBron has his championship ring, now what?

LeBron James Wins ChampionshipI personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA championship before the self-titled former ‘King’ wins one. Said Dan Gilbert, Cleveland Cavaliers owner, December 13, 2010

What are we to do now? It’s over, all of it.

All that energy, all that wasted time and all that hate.  The what-if-he-doesn’t talk, the he’d-be-the-greatest ever-not-to conversations, all the meaningless, hypothetical jibber-jabber we’ve exchanged with friends and strangers over the years, every ounce of resentment we’ve ever uttered… gone, just like that.

And personally, I’m all the happier for it.

Let me be among the first to say Congratulations, LeBron.  May you finally get a decent night’s sleep.  Enjoy raising that figurative, now ring-bearing, middle finger to all those who gave you crap along the way.  That has to feel as justifying as winning the ring itself.

Look through my record books.  Not once have I ever wished LeBron ill will.  Questioned his decision-making, perhaps?   Been guilty of accusing him of not living up to expectations, also possible?  But Michael-high expectations are tough to meet.

So what now?  Read more here…

LeBron wins first championship, refs to get rings too?

NBA Finals RefsThe NBA is full of conspiracy theories and David Stern and the referees of the NBA finals have done thing to help that as of late.

Regardless, LeBron James can breathe easy because the Miami Heat have finally won at least one NBA Championship, after you told us they would win multiple when joining them during “The Decision.”

While the Heat celebrate, critics have blamed the officiating for the turnout of the series and it’s hard to argue they are at least partially right.

There is no doubting LeBron upped his game from his last appearance in the NBA Finals. Even more important, the Heat role players appeared when they needed them most.  Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller were two names not many expected to step up the way they did and they were invaluable to the success of the Heat.

The definitive stat still lies with the referees.

A judgment call by an official late in Game 2 of the NBA Finals went in favor of LeBron James, and that judgment call allowed the Heat to escape with a victory against the Thunder. Three days later, on Sunday night, a judgment call by an official again went in favor of LeBron James — and that call allowed the Heat to hit the clinching free throw and escape Game 3 with a 91-85 victory.

Russell Westbrook accounted for 43 points in Game 4. He attempted 32 shots and only ended up on the line three times the entire game.

During the series, the Heat made more free throws than the Oklahoma City Thunder even attempted and something definitely seems afoul.

These are only a few of the calls that have made many believe the officiating throughout the post-season was awful and during the Finals it has been even worse.

It almost seems as though the NBA wants Miami to win, and they are helping them out via the officiating.

Kevin Durant was subject to many debatable calls. He spent much of the series on the bench early in games due to foul trouble.

Sure it is common perception in the NBA after the Tim Donaghy scandal that there are some legitimate questions about officiating but some of these calls could have affected the outcome of the games.

Most calls in the NBA are judgment calls but it seems that judgement always went against Oklahoma City.

The redemption of LeBron James

People hate LeBron James. I mean really hate LeBron James.

They hate the fact that he left Cleveland. They hate “The Decision.” They hate that he went to Miami and teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in order to win a title. And they sure are going to hate it when he wins his first championship.

He’s going to win a championship. The Miami Heat are one win away from winning the NBA Finals.

It’s going to happen.

But the people that hate him are in a shrinking group. Mostly located in Northeast Ohio. LeBron has won a lot of people over with his play this season. Myself included. I’m certainly not going to become one of the slobbering LeBron Apologists that can see no wrong in what he does, even when he does wrong. And I’m not a bandwagon fan who sees that he is about to win a championship and wants get a bit of his shine.

Read more here…

The city of Miami breathes and the country smells it

Miami SportsBefore the heroics of Dwyane Wade, before LeBron James in a HEAT uniform was EVER a conceivable thought, before the term “Miami Marlins” became the proper way of acknowledging the South Florida baseball team, and before the Miami Dolphins fan-base went against their owner /organization, there was a humble professional sports-less city of Miami with Latin make-up that had nothing to watch on cable television EXCEPT for the New York Yankees.
It wasn’t until the Miami Dolphins accomplished their undefeated season and won the Super Bowl (1972) that a Miami fan-base was created. In 1970 the Miami Dolphins became an established NFL franchise and started their parallel path with the University of Miami’s (UM) football team. UM began their football program in 1926 but didn’t  become successful until the 1983 season, when they won their 1st National title and began DOMINATING the college scene; UM won National titles in ’83, ’87, ’89, ’91 and most recognizably (to our readers) in 2001.
Miami soon became a “football town” with icons such as Dan Marino (former Dolphins quarterback), Bernie Kosar (former Heisman trophy winner at UM), Michael Irvin (former UM wide receiver who won multiple Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys) and MANY other homegrown talent representing the city that once was imageless. Numerable athletes came out of South Florida as it was known as “the hotbed” of sports talent in our country. This overwhelming amount of talent/success would ONLY help increase sports popularity in South Florida. Then, the city began to expand… Read more here…

Shane Battier: Player spotlight

Shane BattierThe player spotlight for this week is Shane Courtney Battier (born September 9, 1978) of the Miami Heat. After amazing performances in the first two games of the NBA Finals where he has shot lights out, YourSportsCheckup decided to shed some light on this amazing role player.

Wikipedia tells us…

Battier was born and raised in Birmingham, Michigan, and attended Detroit Country Day School in Beverly Hills, Michigan, where he won many awards including 1997 “Mr. Basketball of Michigan.” He went on to play four years of college basketball at Duke, where he captured the 2001 National Championship and swept the major National Player of the Year awards. Battier was selected with the sixth overall pick of the 2001 NBA Draft by the Vancouver Grizzlies and was traded five years later to the Houston Rockets. He was then traded back to the Memphis Grizzles during the 2010-2011 NBA season. His number has been retired by both Detroit Country Day School and Duke University. He is widely known for his aggressive defense and being able to guard the league’s best players.

Battier has been looked at as somewhat of a journeyman, but he has always had a good reputation. Battier is referred to as the glue that can hold a team together. He is not only known for his hard nose defense but as proven these last couple of games against the Oklahoma City Thunder he can shoot the three ball pretty well. He has shot 9-13 69% from behind the arc. Read more here…

How the Eastern Conference Finals were lost and looking ahead

As shots clanked off the front of the rim, as sweat poured off their elder brows, a few things became obvious in what may have been the end of an era, and the beginning of another.  As talented, determined and Hall-bound as they were, the 2012 Boston Celtics were simply not as good as the Miami Heat.

As a strictly impartial observer, I have ridden the Miami Heat bandwagon all season long.  It just seemed like the natural progression of things.  While this team is still flawed, with two of the planet’s three most talented players, the Heat have taken a page out of the Jordan-Pippen playbook and presented a duo too difficult to defend.  That’s my stance and I’m sticking to it.

I got to watch some of the Heat-Celtics Game Seven, not as much as I would have liked considering I was working, but I did manage to watch the replay I so wisely DVRed.

Here are a few things that stood out…

Boston’s bench scored only two points that night, those coming from Ryan Hollins, mid-way through the second quarter.  Despite shortened season and immeasurable will, the Celtics’ elder statesmen were absolutely gassed by the time the final minutes of their season came to pass.  That’s no excuse, that’s just reality.

Despite his coaching acumen, Doc Rivers’ decision to play Brandon Bass on LeBron James probably backfired.  Not that anyone can, but there was no way Bass could guard James on the perimeter.  As a result, James made him pay. Read more here…

Are the 2012 NBA finals good versus evil?

LeBron JamesThe annual NBA passion play is about to start. I’m talking, of course, about the NBA Finals. This years version has Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh reprising their role as villains and Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook will step in as the basketball savior.

The story goes something like this: the Heat are the basketball equivalent of the Death Star, wreaking havoc throughout the NBA Universe. If they are allowed to win an NBA title all hell will break loose and their reign of terror will last forever. Everything that is good and holy is at stake.

The Miami Heat has assembled a team of mercenaries with a singular focus: bring a title home to the Evil Empire…I mean South Beach. They have stockpiled a team of supreme talent fragile egos that has been the scourge of the NBA. The OKC Thunder, on the other hand, has quietly built a championship-caliber the old-fashioned way, through the draft and nurturing young talent.

It’s a classic tale of good and evil, right and wrong. Read more here…

NBA Finals preview: Thunder/Heat

Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant and Russell WestbrookThe dream matchup any basketball fan could imagine is here. The small market, built from within, Oklahoma City Thunder battle the Miami Heat; a team that has reached their glory in a slightly different manner. Stars will be all over the court. Both teams have at least three stars, and a point can be made to both teams having two superstars. Each player has their own unique talent which makes them great, and both teams absolutely thrive in the open court.

(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (2) Miami Heat

The two-seeds have prevailed in their respective conference, and in route to doing so, both teams completed the task in their own respective way.  Read more…

Heat Fan stabbed a Celtics fan after Game 6

LeBon JamesThings got way out of hand when a Miami Heat fan went Jason Voorhees after the Game 6.

Boston Police are searching for a Miami Heat fan accused of stabbing a Celtics fan after Thursday night’s game.

Witnesses say a group of Miami Heat and Celtics fans poured into an alleyway by the TD Garden and one of the Heat fans stabbed a Celtics fan with a switch blade-like knife.

Witnesses told police that two groups of about six people starting arguing over the outcome of Thursday night’s game when the suspect, who was wearing Miami Heat clothing, pulled out a large knife and stabbed the victim.

I am not surprised by this mainly because I see the type of raw emotion that comes out of people during and after these games every single day.

And that is just online.

As someone who has been to many sporting events and seen my share of fights break out, the combination of alcohol and people way too invested in their teams lead to these type of altercations.

It should never get to the point of fighting, shooting and stabbing, but just be aware when you are at these events everyone isn’t as sane as you.

It is quite possible the man who just defending himself from Celtics fans who were salty over the loss.  It could have went either way, but the point is be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Some people just hate their lives and have no problem killing you over a game, so please be safe.

Be sure to check out other great articles at BlackSportsOnline

What’s wrong with the Miami Heat?

The Miami Heat are in big trouble. Not only are they on the verge of being eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Boston Celtics but they are on the verge of being dismantled.

After losing Game 5 at home last night, the Heat have been subject to even more scrutiny than usual and no one is safe.

Most of the criticism has been aimed at head coach Erik Spoelstra. There is no doubt that he has made mistakes and has been out coached. Not playing Chris Bosh down the stretch in the fourth quarter might have sealed his fate. Even if Bosh wasn’t 100% you still have to put him out there to give yourself a chance to win. Like most of his team, he seems to fold under pressure. I can’t tell if he is infecting the team or they are infecting him. No matter what happens, Coach Spo will probably not be back next season. But you can’t blame everything on him.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade deserve some blame, too. Both of them will disappear for stretches at a time. LeBron has always had a weak psyche. When the team is winning he is the first one out there posing and preening for the cameras but when they are losing he sulks and seemingly gives up. He’s like the bully who finally gets punched in the mouth and runs off crying. The whole team is like that. Read more here…

When all else fails blame Lebron

LeBon JamesMany will have their opinions on how the game between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics ended and many will blame Lebron James. He had the ball in his hands for the final twenty seconds of regulation, he drove to the right and made a bad pass to Udonis Haslem. Haslem then threw up a desperation shot at the buzzer and missed horribly.

Many will blame Lebron because it’s the easiest thing to do. He is the biggest name on the court and because he has the reputation for shrinking in big time situations…well it happened again. Unfortunately as fun as it is to blame Lebron is it fair? I believe that when you look at the horrible execution of the play it was is on the coaches back.

Read more here…