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Doug Centers
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Posted: 08 February 2018 at 2:25pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Cavs look better to me.
The locker room didn't seem to like Thomas and  Calderon was playing pretty good before he returned.

I'm happy for Wade.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 08 February 2018 at 4:45pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

They're way younger anyway, though both Hill and Hood have been injury prone.  I agree Thomas was not a good fit. 

I'd imagine Hill and Hood eventually start, which works since they were teammates last year in Utah.  Hill is solid and steady but not nearly as explosive as IT or DRose or DWade in their primes (obviously there was a consensus, likely correct, that such days are over for all three, at least by LeBron's end-of-the-season timetable.)  Hood is probably the most talented piece Cleveland got and he should be a nice young wing alongside LeBron.  Clarkson should anchor the second unit as he did with LA.   They're still short of big men though, particularly until Love returns.  Nance is a body but he's not the answer. 

They'll be more athletic and the youth can't hurt them defensively.  Ultimately I don't think they're appreciably better-equipped to beat GS but the youth infusion puts them in a better position to reset if LeBron does jump ship and they did it without giving up what could be a Brooklyn lottery pick next year. 
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 08 February 2018 at 5:04pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

" Ultimately I don't think they're appreciably better-equipped to beat GS but the youth infusion puts them in a better position to reset if LeBron does jump ship and they did it without giving up what could be a Brooklyn lottery pick next year. "

...

You hit it on the nose there, Rick.
The biggest (non) move was keeping that pick.

As for GS I'm sure they'll be less "fried" after the All-Star break but man the Rockets are FOR REAL.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 11:01am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

And right on cue, the Rockets acquire seven time All Star Joe Johnson along with Brandan Wright for just about nothing after they are bought out by their teams.  Johnson is really old but provides instant offense as a reserve.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 12:15am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

It's just one game but the newly reconstituted Cavs' demolition of the Celtics in Boston has to put them right in the thick of the race to reach the Finals.  If they and GS return again, that would be four straight years facing off in the championship, unprecedented in all of professional sports. 


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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 1:33am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Lonzo Ball will be playing for a team other than the Lakers when his contract runs out in 2021, if not before, if he doesn't grow a pair and shut down his father.

LaVar says Lonzo won't re-sign with the team unless they sign LiAngelo. In fact, LaVar wants all 3 of his sons to play for the Lakers.

OH, HELL NO!!

LaVar is enough of a pain in the ass with just one son on the team. Losing Lonzo would be no big deal if the alternative is having one or both of his brothers on the team. In fact, if Lonzo goes along with his father's `ultimatum', I'm all for trading him to one of the worst teams in the league for draft picks. Even if they're all low round picks.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 9:44am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

If that lunatic were any other parent nobody would even be hearing his rants.  Yet ESPN keeps giving LaVar the microphone.  Despite a nice passing game and some rebounds, #2 pick Lonzo has been a relative washout (terrible shooting, 48% FT, soso defending, passivity at crunch time).  If IT keeps playing like he did in his Lakers debut, I'm not even sure Lonzo finishes out his contract in LA, though a trade now would be perceived as selling low.   I can't speak for the country but NOBODY in LA likes LaVar Ball.  NOBODY.
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 2:45pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I could see giving LaVar some leeway if he was a former superstar athlete, but he wasn't that great a basketball player in college, and had a lousy career as a pro football player. He doesn't even know how contracts work, apparently, because he thinks Lonzo can just up and walk away from the team in two years if they don't get their (his) way.

Pardon my language, but there will be no fucks given by me if Lonzo goes elsewhere. Because as Rick said, he's not that good, and his father is a walking headache who will probably kill all his sons' careers if at least one of them doesn't tell him to shut up.




Edited by Brian Floyd on 14 February 2018 at 1:08am
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 14 February 2018 at 3:04pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

LaVar was a 2.2 PPG scorer for 26 games for Washington State in 1987-88, a 13-16 team ranked 184th that year. He never even really played in the NFL, just on practice squads or in the offseason and only briefly. 
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 25 February 2018 at 3:11pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

This is easily the most frank, fascinating conversation Kobe and Shaq have ever had.  A shame they couldn't have sat down and had it before their infantile feud drove them apart.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 5:47pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

The Land is full of injuries (Love, Thompson, Hood and Cedi Osman) so it's hard to judge but presently they look as dead man walking as they did prior to the big trade deadline move.  There's still just enough time to right things and LBJ is playing out of his mind so it will be fascinating to see how the playoffs unfold.  Toronto (15-1 lately) looks  to get the #1 seed and is legit; can they or Boston break LeBron's strangehold?  I say yes, but it won't be easy. 

In the West Utah (18-2 lately) and Portland 11-1 and 9 straight) are hot but it's still hard to believe either could beat Houston or GS in a seven game series.  GS looked vulnerable in both weekend losses since Curry went down though his trainer says the ankle is just a small tweak.  Still, Curry has had four ankle "tweaks" in the last three months.  SA has collapsed (3-10 lately, guaranteed first losing road record in 20 years).  They are in serious danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1996. 
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 16 March 2018 at 5:16pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

The 31-37 Lakers are no longer bad.

They definitely won't make the playoffs.  Their top scorer is Brandon Ingram at 16.2 PPG.  They're paying a 32 yr old player $18 mill per (two more years, both guaranteed) who has played one game and scored two points all year.  He's not hurt, he's just no good (Luol Deng.)  Lonzo Ball, clearly a good passer and decent rebounding PG, is still shooting 36% (after a recent HOT streak), 46% FT.   Isaiah Thomas, who is still hurt, is arguably their best player but is only hitting 39% and will be looking for a big contract come summer which the Lakers can't give unless they whiff on the big free agents (or no one else ponies up any good offers.)

Here's why they're no longer bad.

They've been beating playoff teams lately.  They're 20-10 since starting 11-27, including wins over San Antonio (twice), Denver (twice), Cleveland (twice), Miami, Indiana, Boston and OKC (twice).

Unheralded #27 pick Kyle Kuzma has quietly put together near ROY type numbers at 15.5 PPG and 6.2 Rebs while hitting 45% (mostly from the outside.) 

Julius Randle, who was in Walton's doghouse and had been trade bait all year, has exploded (36 pts, 14 rebs, 10 assists vs. Cleveland five days ago, another triple double a week earlier.)

Their D seems tighter.  Not sure why, maybe it's just the natural improvement of a young core.  Maybe it's just an anomaly. 

Whatever, thanks to trade language LA's 2018 first round pick which looked like a lock for Boston back when LA was playing like a lottery team, will now probably convey to another super-young team also on the rise out there, Philadelphia.  That's on top of Philly's own pick plus three second round picks, including the Knicks and Brooklyn, both of which should be good.  The good news for Boston is they now will get Sacramento's first round pick next year instead and Memphis' first round pick in 2019, both of which could be great.  (It always comes back to Boston for me.)


Edited by Rick Senger on 16 March 2018 at 5:19pm
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 28 March 2018 at 12:18pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

A lot of contending teams have major major questions and star injuries as the playoffs near.  Some will surely return by the playoffs but will they be in sync?  Neither Houston nor Toronto was taken seriously a year ago but both are #1 seeds, both at full force and both ready to break through.  Houston hasn't made a Finals since Hakeem in 1995.  Toronto has never reached a Finals and has only escaped the first round three times (swept by the Cavs last year). 

Warriors injuries: Durant, Curry, Thompson, Green, Omri Cassipi.  The once-prohibitive favorites won't repeat without three of the big four back and effective and two of them must be Curry and Durant.  It might take all four to beat Houston.

Spurs:  LaMarcus Aldridge (new knee injury) and Kawhi Leonard.  Aldridge's solid comeback year won't matter unless he returns and even if he does the Spurs aren't a threat without Kawhi.

Celtics: Kyrie Irving (out 3-6 wks), Marcus Smart (out 3 wks), Marcus Morris, Daniel Theis, Gordon Hayward.  They overcame the loss of Hayward and absences by Tatum, Horford and Brown but it is unlikely Boston can get by the Cavs or Toronto without Kyrie, Terry Rozier's heroics notwithstanding.  If Kyrie is out 6 wks, the Celtics are in trouble.

Cavs: Kevin Love (just returned but out again last night with a possible concussion), Cedi Osman, Kyle Korver.  The biggest wildcard; they've looked both really good and really bad.  LeBron should take them past the first round but others must step up to get back to the Finals. If Love misses another seven or ten days in concussion protocol he could be badly out of step having already missed many weeks before his brief recent return.

Wizards: John Wall  Washington is forgotten and Wall could return in time but without him they go nowhere.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 30 March 2018 at 6:28pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

And now Joel Embiid and Blake Griffin are down for the count, too.  Anyone remember this many injuries by contending teams this near the playoffs?
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Wilson Mui
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Posted: 09 April 2018 at 8:19am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Are the Sixers peaking at just the right time? They have
been able to extend their win streak to 14 games even
without Embiid...not the toughest teams, but still
impressive.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 10 April 2018 at 3:07pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Simmons is a certain ROY, Redick is playing well, Covington and Saric contribute and they have backup depth with Belinelli and Ilyasova.  If Embiid were healthy and with Boston injury riddled, Philly could have shocked the world and at least gotten to the East Finals. But as you suggest, their streak is mostly comprised of patsies (they did beat the T-Wolves and Cavs) so it's hard to judge.  50 wins is a great leap from 28 though and Embiid became a legitimate All Star as Simmons blew away expectations plus they have more picks coming so watch out for the 76ers a year (or two) from now.  I'd take the Cavs or Toronto this year in the East. 
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 19 April 2018 at 11:51am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Been watching like all of the playoffs (except OKC v. Utah... untelevised thanks to small mkts). 

-Cleveland looks vulnerable and Indiana is way better than expected.   LeBron got 45 and they still barely won game 2 after getting crushed in game 1.  Oladipo is unstoppable, Sabonis dangerous and even Stephenson pretty effective so far.   Love's hand injury looms.  Where's Tristan Thompson?

-Philly needs Embiid.  He's cleared concussion protocol and the orbital bone seemingly shouldn't affect his play or long term health so why is he out?  Philly just lost home court and Embiid wants to play so put a mask on him and let's go.

-Houston's D ain't that great but their offense is absurdly good.  They can be beaten but if their 3's are falling and Harden / Paul are on, good luck.

-The DeMarcus Cousins-less Pelicans have a great chance to advance.  Jrue Holiday played as well as I've ever seen in game 2 and Davis, Rondo and Mirotic may be enough to get by the #3 Blazers.

-The Spurs may get swept in four by GS for the 2nd year in a row (first time in the first round.)  The team is mourning and distracted and Pop obviously won't be there.  Sometimes that's an unexpected motivator but even with no Curry and Aldridge playing well, they're overmatched.


Edited by Rick Senger on 19 April 2018 at 11:56am
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 19 April 2018 at 3:11pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

I'm watching the same as you, Rick. And agree with all your assessments.

Love Embiid's passion. He was so pissed he couldn't play in that last game. That's what I like to see.

Tristan Thompson seems to have fallen completely out of any kind of rotation. Not that I'm saying LeBron has any influence but he must be ok with the benching.


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Rick Senger
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Posted: 20 April 2018 at 9:31am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

The Phantom of the Process missed a handful of bunnies and was slightly out of sync (he obviously hates that mask) but as you say, passion compensates.  Philly's offense was initially off but they quickly figured it out, scoring 128.  Their defense, on the other hand, was immediately awesome.

Big game 3 for Cleveland tonight... can they overcome a rocking Bankers Life crowd?
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 25 April 2018 at 10:20am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Philly advances for the first time in six years.  Boston still has work to do but now that Smart and Embiid are back, I would love to see a Celtics / 76ers round two, which would be really fun and physical. 

Pivotal game 5 for Cleveland tonight.  LeBron's finals streak (7 straight years) will inevitably end at some point but losing in the first round to a team expected to win like 25 games before the season started would be weak.

Houston's 50 in one quarter the other night is the most in 56 years.  Defense wins championships but can anyone stop that offense?

I don't understand talk of Philly or Boston or LA trading key pieces for Kawhi Leonard.  When healthy he's a top 3 player but he missed all of the playoffs and 73 games this year.  Only the Spurs know the extent of his injury but I doubt it's just bad blood with management, particularly since he's on the cusp of supermax money.  If he could play he'd want to showcase that talent and get the $200 mill but obviously he didn't.  There's no way I give away for example Kyrie Irving and another good player AND a possible lottery pick for a guy who may never be right and who will surely soak up enormous salary long term.  He may fully recover but whoever pays Kawhi this summer is taking a big gamble.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 27 April 2018 at 9:53am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Another monster outing by LeBron capped with an amazing block (goaltending, but amazing) then the iconic game winning 3.  If the Cavs come back to win the series, it's one of the highlights they'll play ad infinitum and on his obituary day.

Three teams trying to force game 7s today... with Milwaukee and Boston already there tomorrow, the first round has been surprisingly competitive and entertaining.
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 27 April 2018 at 5:01pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Ha! yes goaltend!

That 3 Lebron made was incredible. Drifting to the left, wow!
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 8:48am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

The Pacers' demolition of Cleveland sets up today's climactic game 7, where LeBron faces the possibility of his first rd. 1 exit ever.  I've kind of believed nobody can beat a healthy GS or Houston most of the year (Curry finally returns for game 2 vs. NO) but just as I was curious how far Boston could go without their two best players (round two and counting), I'm curious how far LeBron can lead Cavs even though they don't look like a true contender as of now.

Some are sick of all the superlatives lobbed at James but it's hard to stop when you look at his otherworldly playoff numbers, particularly 2018.  The simplest summary is ESPN saying LeBron was averaging a game score (which analyzes total production and efficiency) of 30.8 thru 5 games, which is not only LBJ's highest ever in a series but also better than anyone else in history not named Michael Jordan in the current best-of-seven format.  James' game six lowered his totals to 28.6, but he's still right at the top.  Even without the horses, Cleveland will be tough to beat at home with James guarding the gate.  Yet Indiana has outscored Cleveland by 44 points thus far and pulverized them in game 6.  Something has to give. 
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 30 April 2018 at 11:11am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

Stoked to see Boston and Philly in round two tonight.  I became a basketball fan when Bird arrived and the 76ers teams of those early-mid 80s were the Celts' arch-foes in the East (Dr. J, Dawkins Doug Collins, Andrew Toney, Bobby Jones, Maurice Cheeks, Lionel Hollins, Moses Malone then Barkley... so talented!)  Glad to see this great rivalry renewed and the best thing is both clubs should only be better next year so this could become a standing appointment for years to come.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 04 May 2018 at 1:49pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Some funny internet memes.


'Bron asteroid brings Raptors extinction event?

Cleveland suddenly looks highly likely to reach the East Finals and plausible for another NBA Finals.




Simmons needs an answer for Boston's suffocating defense and MUST play way better in game three.  Or McConnell needs to play more (shockingly effective.)  Embiid can't play much better, though, and Philly is still down 2-0.  But they can get well at home, so it's ain't over.

Curious to see how Houston responds to Utah's very surprising game two win.  This is the first time they've felt any pressure in quite a while.


Edited by Rick Senger on 04 May 2018 at 3:33pm
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