Tag Archives: Lebron James

Can Blake Play Big For The Clippers In The Playoffs?

Blake Griffin LA Clippers

BLAKE GRIFFIN

Blake Griffin has played really big for the Los Angeles Clippers all season long. He is putting up incredible, MVP-like numbers. He also led Lob City to an impressive course when Chris Paul was sidelined with an injury and he has managed to improve his game in several different sectors. However, there is one big question around BG as we head to the playoffs. Will he be able to play big for the Clips during the postseason?

After two consecutive unsuccessful playoff courses the Clipper Nation expects something better this year. This should be the year the Clippers make the difference, the year they take the next step and Blake Griffin has to be the one showing the way. For sure, his 24.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game up to now in the season are impressive. And yes he is fairly considered as the strongest runner-up for the MVP award, right behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Nonetheless, his career playoff performance hasn’t been as impressive.
BG is averaging just 17.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and also 2.5 assists during the postseason, numbers not even close to his regular season ones. In fact, Griffin seemed like he suffered from lack of focus and emotion control during the postseason.

Some can blame injury issues for Griffin’s struggles last year, when the Clippers exited the playoffs in the first round. However, the dominance of the Grizzlies’ frontline was obvious. Even if Griffin was at his 100 percent, he most probably wouldn’t have been in a position to match with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

Thankfully, this year, Lob City won’t play against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. However, Griffin won’t have an easy job unfolding his offense against Andrew Bogut and possibly David Lee, if the Dubs’ star manages to return from his injury during the postseason.

Blake Griffin Clippers

BLAKE GRIFFIN

It’s true that Griffin has shown much improvement in areas that he was bleeding last year. Free throw shooting was one of them. A 64.0 percent career shooter from the charity stripe, Griffin has improved his free-throw shooting to a 71.0 percent rate this season. This seven percent margin can definitely play a role during the playoffs, when Lob City will need Griffin to attack the basket, get to the line and score easy points.

Defense still remains the Achilles’ heel for the highflying superstar. For a player with his size, his body strength and athletic abilities, it’s notable that Griffin won’t make anyone’s All-NBA-First Team Defense this season. Thankfully, LA still has DeAndre Jordan onboard, who usually is the one making sure the paint is barricaded.

Blake Griffin Army

GRIFFIN

Mental balance is another crucial factor for Griffin’s performance and as a result Lob City’s playoff course. Sometimes BG can’t control his emotions and his reactions result in him picking up technical fouls. Fair or unfair, the Clippers can’t afford to lose their leading scorer in any game of the postseason. This will most probably an area Doc Rivers will have to work his magic. If there is one Head Coach in the NBA who can get into the head of his players and make them think clearer and in a more mature manner, that’s Doc Rivers.

Blake Griffin will be a huge factor in the Clippers’ course this season. Hopefully, he will manage to avoid lethargic performances similar to the previous season.

The LA Clippers will start the post season with home court advantage with just two games left in the season this week one against the Trail Blazers and the other against the Nuggets there is a good chance Blake will get a bit of needed rest. A Clippers Vs Warriors match up is looking like it will be the first test for the Clippers in the 2014 playoffs. You can purchase Clippers Playoff Tickets from Barry’s Tickets an Official Partner of the LA Clippers.

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BY: Chris M.

Blake Griffin and Joakim Noah the two top black horses for the MVP award

Clippers Blake Griffin Bulls Joakim Noah

BLAKE & JOAKIM

There is no denying that the MVP title is a two-man one this year. LeBron James and Kevin Durant will be apparently fighting chest to chest till the end of the season for the award and at the moment, things look really tight. However, it’s worth taking a look at some of the black horses of this race. Although several players have been involved into the discussion for the MVP award this season, at the moment, Blake Griffin and Joakim Noah are the two best underdogs.

Noah is the main reason the Chicago Bulls have managed not only to save the 2013-2014 season but to also emerge up to the third spot in the Eastern Conference. The Frenchman center is doing it all for his team at the moment, playing defense, scoring, dishing assists and rebounding. Although Noah has literally no chances to make it to the top of list of MVP candidates, as LeBron and KD are playing in a whole different level, he is one of the most over performing players this season.

LA Clippers Blake Griffin

BLAKE

If there is one player who deserves to be considered as a third strong candidate for the MVP award this season, that is Blake Griffin. The highflying forward has not only improved his game in almost any aspect but he has also emerged as the true leader of the Los Angeles Clippers, taking the team on his shoulders during the time Chris Paul was out with an injury.

Griffin is averaging 24 points per contest, almost three more than his career-average and he is also securing 9.6 rebounds and dishing out 3.6 assists, while shooting 53.2 percent from the floor. He just recently got hurt, during the Clips’ last game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he is projected to return to action soon and be ready for the Clips’ playoff push. Despite Griffin’s improvement, he will still not be able to reach the duo of LeBron and Durant.

LeBron is recording a career-best 57.0 percent shooting from the field and he is also putting up 26.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game, which are too much for Griffin to get close. Durant is also recording similarly impressive numbers, maybe even more impressive. He is leading the NBA in scoring with 32.2 points per game and he is also putting up 7.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists. His shooting is also great but slightly lower than LeBron’s rates, 51.2 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent from deep.
The MVP race will be coming to its end soon and we will see either Durant or LeBron earning the crown. However, we also have to recognize the efforts of players like Griffin and Noah. Chris M

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Should Blake Griffin be the MVP this season?

Should Blake Griffin Be MVP

Griffin For MVP

The race for the MVP title this season is a close one, a very close one. The two obvious favorites are LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Those two megastars have been recording tremendous outputs this season. However, there is one more superstar who is playing like an MVP, who has dramatically improved his production and efficiency from last season and he is a candidate for the MVP award. That’s no other than Blake Griffin.

First of all, Griffin has been playing in a great level all season long, much like the entire Los Angeles Clippers have been doing. The presence of Doc Rivers at the team’s bench meant a big change for Lob City. Discipline and more effort on defense are two new facts that were missing from the Clips’ style of play last year. Griffin also looks like a different, a more mature player right now with Doc Rivers guiding him.

Should Blake Griffin Be MVP

Griffin

This season, he is putting up numbers above his career-averages. The dominant power forward is averaging a team-best 24.4 points per contest to go along with 9.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 53.9 percent from the field. He has even hit some threes. Griffin is the main wheel for the Clippers on the offensive end. In most possessions the ball runs through him. But even when it doesn’t Griffin contributes by setting great screens or by drawing the attention from the opposing defense. Griffin has improved his mid-range shot significantly and he has also managed to shoot better from the charity stripe. Of course, he continues to be a great rebounder and shot blocker. His defense still isn’t at a world-class level, but he has seen some improvement there, too.

Up to now, Blake Griffin was arguably the most spectacular player in the league. Now, he is also one of the best ones. He is currently considered as the best power forward in the NBA and his performance every night shows why.

NBA MVP Blake Griffin

MVP?

When the Los Angeles Clippers needed him to step up and take the team on his shoulders, he responded to the call. With Chris Paul out for an extended time, Griffin really took his performance to the next level. He emerged as the true leader of the team and he managed to lead the Clips to some significant wins. It’s notable that LA didn’t drop in the Western Conference rankings despite Paul’s absence.

Of course, the competition for Blake Griffin is huge. It will be almost impossible for him to reach the monster seasons LeBron and Durant are recording. Those two have been simply playing to a whole different level. But if there is one player who could threaten them this season, that is Blake Griffin. Stephen Curry could also be in the discussion.

Griffin has been instrumental in the Clippers recent run of a nine game win streak. On Monday night, Griffin became just the third player in NBA history to tally 6,000 points, 3,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists before the end of his fourth season while shooting 50.0 percent or better. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Charles Barkley, Blake Griffin and that’s it.

LA Clippers Blake Griffin deserves respect

Griffin

Why Blake won’t win MVP? One reason…the Clippers! The local community college team gets more respect then them. They play home games on what is considered the Lakers home court no matter what, Lakers Home Venue and Lakers City. Just ask any Lakers fan. Although they have been gaining respect little by little over the last four years and Clippers ticket prices have slightly increased they are always in the shadow of the Lakers and might not ever come out of it. Blake and Lob City are like the Cleveland Browns they don’t get the NBA spotlight on Sunday’s they don’t make page on of USA Today even though Blake has some of the best dunks of all time just ask Kim Kardashian’s ex husband. When you mention the Clippers to NBA fans they look at you like your insane talking about them. Would Blake winning MVP bring instant credibility to the Clippers and Clippers Nation? I don’t think so but to not be mentioned in the MVP talk for his numbers this season is showing what lack of respect Blake and the Clipper Nation actually get.

I am not saying throw your Kobe or Lakers Jerseys away or the Clippers deserve the respect that the Lakers, Celtics, Miami Heat or Spurs deserve or even Tim Duncan or Dirk Nowitzki but Blake is only in his fourth year and has helped turned the once a joke Clippers into a legit NBA Championship contender and is mentioned in the same breath as one of the greatest to ever play the game in only four years he deserves a second look for MVP this season. Chris Michaels

Melo In Miami?

Melo with Lebron 2014

Melo with Lebron 2014

The careers of Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony have followed different paths in the last couple of years. Drafted the same year, Carmelo Anthony was coming off of a college basketball national championship while Lebron was making the jump directly to the NBA. It may seem crazy now but there was a real debate over which player should be taken top overall, with endless quotes like this:

“What does LeBron do that Anthony can’t?” Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson had asked after watching Anthony chase his top-seeded Sooners out of the NCAA’s East Regional two weekends ago. “He’s learned a lot, playing against this level of competition. And excelling in this one-and-done tournament environment is a tremendous maturing tool.”

Melo going to the Heat

James & Melo

Quotes like the one above, were a virtual cottage industry back in 2003. Many pundits went so far to say that the drafting of James over Anthony would be a major mistake. Now, with the benefit of hindsight such quotes are interesting to look back on and are a reminder of just how far the reputation of Anthony has fallen in the basketball community. While Lebron is winning championships, MVP’s and cementing his reputation as a top-ten all time player, Anthony is meandering along on a listless New York Knicks team. When people think of Carmelo Anthony now thoughts turn to slow-developing, isolation basketball and a player who needs to ball in his hands an inordinate amount of time.

This offseason Anthony can be a free agent and he wants to win a championship, something that seems highly unlikely in disjointed New York. This fact has led to speculation that the Miami Heat could be a potential destination for Anthony. On paper it’s possible. Pat Riley has wisely constructed the Heat roster in a way that leaves just one contract on the book after this season, $2 million owed to backup point guard Norris Cole. If the Heat’s three stars, James, Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh each take a reduced contract of $14 million per year, they could conceivable also sign Anthony at $14 million per season.

Of course what works on paper doesn’t translate to the basketball court. On one-hand it would be fun to see another round of the faux-outrage from the NBA “traditionalists” should the Heat somehow have four free agents team up this offseason. Unfortunately it just doesn’t make sense from a basketball standpoint. Here are a couple of reasons why:

A Serious Lack of Depth: Beyond the incredible performances of James the Heat have won titles the past two seasons because of their depth. While Chris Bosh has accepted a reduced role and Dywane Wade has suffered with injuries a great deal of Miami’s success is the key performances of role players such as Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Chris Anderson, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller. Each season Pat Riley has been able to add veteran depth, with Michael Beasley and Greg Oden joining the fold this year. Adding Anthony to the roster would essentially kill Miami’s ability to have any significant depth beyond the big four. In a conference that includes the Indiana Pacers it would be difficult to see a Heat roster with Anthony advancing to the NBA finals.

Melo Heat Trade Rumors

Melo to Heat

Anthony would have to adjust his Game: The big criticism with Anthony’s game has been his inability or unwillingness to change his game. When people think of Carmelo Anthony they think of isolation basketball with Anthony dominating possession and requiring the basketball an inordinate amount of time. His style doesn’t fit in with quick, ball movement style of the Heat. It’s possible that Anthony could adjust his game, like the big three did before, to fit Erik Spoelstra’s style and win a championship, but the other issue is that he’s not a particularly strong defensive player. Defense wins championships in the NBA and even with all their star power the Heat has won their two titles because of their ability to play outstanding team defense. Anthony has not shown the ability or willingness to play above average defense during his career.

Would Miami take him? In the end the architect in Miami is Pat Riley and it’s hard to imagine the Heat General Manager making a move for Anthony, even if it’s financially feasible. The story does make for interesting conversation and debate in Miami and New York. It will be an fascinating offseason with Wade, Bosh, James and Anthony all able to opt out of their contracts and explore free agency. The odds are that Anthony will end up back in New York with the Knicks and Pat Riley will find some other pieces to build around his Big Three.

That being said, it’s the NBA so you never know. Four years ago the thought of James, Wade and Bosh joining up in Miami was scoffed at by many. Two titles, with a potential third later, they’ve helped James cement his legacy. Perhaps they can help Anthony cement his. Chris Michaels.

Lebron For Griffin Say What?

Lebron James Blake Griffin

Lebron for Griffin

Miami Heat superstar Lebron James has the ability to exercise an early out clause in his contract this offseason and potentially leave Miami in free agency. Up until know the speculation regarding a potential opt-out by James has been centered on a return to Cleveland. With the Cavaliers a mess the odds of James returning to his original team are a long shot. Over the past week a new potential James destination has become a popular talking point. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who’s covered James since his high school days and throughout his NBA career, believes the Los Angeles Clippers could wind up being a serious contender for James. According to Windhorst the Heat are “quite aware the Clippers could end up being a competitor if James elects to opt out, perhaps the most serious contender of all.”

According to Windhorst James has a strong relationship with Chris Paul and Doc Rivers. Paul is the godfather of James’s son Bryce and the two stood up in each other’s wedding. The Clippers would have to make personnel moves in order to acquire James with a sign and trade, potentially built around Blake Griffin.

Griffin Lebron Trade

Griffin for Lebron trade?

Wednesday night in Los Angeles hoops fans were treated to a show by the two main parties involved in the speculation when the Heat outlasted the Clippers for a 116-112 victory. James had 31 points 8 rebounds and 12 assists in the victory, with Griffin putting together one of the most dominant performances in his NBA career. The Clippers forward had 43 points and 15 rebounds in the loss. It was yet another exemplary performance for the Clippers big man who’s elevated his game to the next level during the absence of Chris Paul. During the month of January Griffin averaged 25.7 points per game with an impressive .554 shooting percentage. His foul shooting, once a weakness, has improved as the season has gone on with Griffin shooting near 70% from the free throw line. Griffin is in the top ten in Player Efficiency Rating at 23.92, a career high. At twenty-four Griffin is clearly taking his game to the next level, with many touting him as a potential most improved player.

Lebron James will turn 30 during the next NBA season. While the four-time MVP has shown no signs of wear and tear he’s played an incredible amount of games during the past several years due deep playoff runs and international basketball. If Los Angeles does trade a package involving Blake Griffin for James they’ll be dealing a young star on the ascendency for one of the greatest players in league history who could potentially be starting the downside of his career. The opportunity to acquire one of the greatest players in the history of basketball to pair with Chris Paul is awful appealing, but is one or two potential title runs worth dealing a young superstar like Griffin? Here are the pros and cons of the deal.

Why a potential deal makes sense for Los Angeles: It’s no secret that Chris Paul wants to win an NBA title now. The star point guard has dealt with injury issues throughout his career and may not have that many prime years left. James has never had the luxury of playing with an elite point guard like Paul. The combination of the two, along with the presence of Doc Rivers and the remaining Clippers core could make the team instant favorites in the west. Windows of opportunity can be fleeting in the NBA and the chance to make a couple of title runs should be awful appealing to Clippers management. The impact on the Clippers brand can also not be exaggerated. Even with the criticism James earned following the famous “Decision” he’s one of the most recognizable athletes in the world. Beyond the obvious success on the court the presence of James would be a tremendous asset from a business perspective.

Trade between Miami Heat and Clippers

Lebron James Blake Griffin

Why the deal doesn’t make sense: With the amount of mileage both Paul and James have there is no guarantee of health. If Paul continues to miss time due to injury and the seemingly unbreakable James starts to wear down the Clippers could find themselves in a difficult situation. Paul hasn’t played over 70 games in a season while a member of the Clippers, and he’ll have played 60 games or fewer in two of those three seasons. If the Clippers have the opportunity to deal Lebron James for Blake Griffin its likely an absolute no-brainer but not as much of a sure thing as it was at the beginning of the season. Griffin’s play this season, especially in the absence of Paul, indicates that he’s clearly taking his game to the next level. With the sheer athleticism that Griffin possesses there’s no telling how far he can take his game. He’ll never be the equivalent of Lebron James, but may surpass an older James in the next couple of seasons, something the Clippers are going to have to consider.

Right now the Clippers need to focus on the postseason and beyond. The rumor is that Paul will return in the next week, once-again healthy and ready to the second half push. Chris Michaels

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Kobe and Blake both 2014 NBA All Star Game Starters

Kobe Bryant Blake Giffin

Kobe and Blake

Kobe Bryant played just six games in the 2013-2014 season and his performance reminded little of the dominant superstar we all know the Black Mamba is. Nonetheless, this didn’t stop NBA fans from voting him as a starter for the 2014 All-Star game.

This will be Kobe’s 16th appearance in an All-Star game. Of course, it’s still uncertain if Kobe will be able to play. The 35-year old megastar is still rehabbing from his knee injury and the latest word from the Los Angeles Lakers states that he will be re-evaluated over the next few days.

Stephen Curry from the Golden State Warriors earned his spot in the All-Star game this season. In fact, there was much criticism around the league because of his non-selection last year. The 25-year old sharpshooter has been recording a terrific season up to now, showing us more of the same lethal scoring abilities, especially from long range. Actually, Curry is averaging career-highs in points per game, with 23.5 and assists with 9.2. This will be his first All-Star appearance.

Blake Griffin LA Clippers

Griffin

Blake Griffin will make his fourth straight All-Star appearance and this time he will be a starter. Griffin has really taken the Los Angeles Clippers on his shoulders this season due to the shoulder injury of Chris Paul. Griffin has been playing fantastically as of lately. He is averaging 22.6 points and 10 rebounds per game this season for the Clips, while his also shooting 52.4 percent from the floor.

Kevin Durant will of course be a starter for the Western All-Stars. His performance has skyrocketed this season, especially since Russell Westbrook went down with an injury. Durant is leading the league in scoring with 31 points per game. His buddy, Russell Westbrook will not participate in the All-Star game.

Kevin Love will complete the starting lineup for the Western All-Stars. This will be the first time Love will be starting in an All-Star game. He is the league-leader in double-doubles and he managed to steal the starting position from Dwight Howard. The fact that Dwight Howard will not start in this All-Star game was a big surprise.

The Eastern All-Stars will have a weird starting lineup, as none of the frontcourt players normally plays a position above the small forward. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will both start for the Eastern All-Stars. LeBron’s selection comes as no surprise. He still is the best player in the world. Wade on the other hand is experiencing some injury issues as of lately but he should be ready to go for the All-Star game.

Paul George will also be a starter and that was widely expected around the NBA. George is continuing to improve his performance and he is putting up superstar-like performances.

Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving complete the starting five for the Eastern All-Stars. This will be Irving’s second straight All-Star appearance and his first start. Melo will start for the sixth time in an All-Star Game. By:

You can watch Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin square off on March 6th at the Staples Center when the Lakers take on the Clippers in the next round of Battle of LA. Chris Michaels

Lakers Heat Christmas Day What To Expect

Kobe Lebron Christmas

Kobe Lebron

Over the past week the Los Angeles Lakers have slowly integrated Kobe Bryant back into the lineup, after his six-month absence due to a torn Achilles. Los Angeles is 2-4 since the return of Bryant, but is coming off of a solid road victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Lakers will have three more games to tune up for their big Christmas Day game versus the Miami Heat. Due to their incredible success under Kobe Bryant the Lakers have been a regular participant on Christmas Day for years with many memorable games. This year will be no exception when the Lakers welcome in Lebron James and the two-time defending NBA Champion Miami Heat into STAPLES Center. Much maligned after his exit from Cleveland, James has taken his already incredible game to an even higher level this season, operating at an offensive efficiency that few players in league history have ever achieved.

Here’s a look at what to expect when Miami visits the Lakers on Christmas Day:

Expect to pay an arm and leg for Lakers Vs Heat Tickets on Christmas Day. Prices for Lakers Tickets on Christmas Day against the World Champion Miami Heat can run roughly two and a half times the average game. A 300 level “get in the door” ticket usually will cost about $90 per ticket but for the Lakers Vs Heat they can run $215 per ticket. A 200 level for the Lakers Vs 76ers is about $168 per ticket but the same section (207) for the Heat is about $566.00 per ticket. Dead Center section 111 row B for an average game can run $625.00 per ticket and for the Lakers Vs Heat it is about $1750-$2000 per ticket. If prices are to steep and after your done opening presents you can always go down to the Staples Center to checkout LA Live and the crowd around the Venue then hop into our office next to the Staples Center and see if there is last minute tickets available at a cheaper price.

King James Lebron

King James

Lebron James is really, really, really good: With Lebron James ascending to levels that few have reached, fellow stars Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh have taken a back seat to the Heat superstar. James is shooting just under 60% and 41% from behind the three point line. Under the leadership of Erik Spoelstra, James has refined his game to maximum efficiency, shooting from select spots on the floor, while maximizing his unique passing skills and vision. Considering how well he’s played the last two seasons it’s hard to fathom that James continues to get better as a player. Dywane Wade, who nearly singlehandedly won an NBA title in 2005, has dealt with chronic knee pain over the past three seasons and has to play in spurts, typically missing back-to-back games and playing fewer minutes this season. Bosh has carved out a secondary role that emphasizes his unique ability to extend the floor as a shooting big man, helping make the Heat ball-movement offense work.

The Lakers are a lot more fun to watch: Last year’s debacle, where the Lakers barely made the playoffs after being touted as a title contender coming into the season, was a failure on multiple fronts. Beyond the underachievement of the team was the fact that Los Angeles just wasn’t fun to watch. The Lakers offense was stagnant and plodding due to their lack of youth and multiple players (like Gasol) playing out of position. This year’s club may not be as talented but they’re a lot younger and a lot more fun to watch. Mitch Kupchak has done a good job infusing life into the lineup on a limited budget.

Miami has built a solid core: General Manager Pat Riley has smartly built a veteran core around James, Wade and Bosh through smart moves and veterans taking reduced contracts. Shane Battier is versatile defender often found guarding power forwards while providing grit on the boards and hitting the open three point shot. Ray Allen, perhaps the greatest three point shooter in league history, hit one of the biggest clutch shots in league history last season to send game six of the NBA finals to overtime. The ageless Allen helps extend the floor as one of eight legitimate Heat three-point shooting threats. The Heat shoots just under 39% as a team from behind the three point line.

The surprising evolution of Michael Beasley: Perhaps the most interesting Heat acquisition is Michael Beasley, the former second overall pick who fizzled out in Minnesota and Phoenix. Beasley is a talented scorer who may have found a home during his second stint with Miami. He has an impressive PER of 22.1 while averaging 11.4 points per game in just 17 minutes played. Beasley is shooting a lights out 55% from the field and 50% from behind the three point line.

Kobe the Distributor: During his re-insertion into the lineup Bryant has often taken a secondary role, more of a classical “point-forward”, looking to make the extra pass. As he gets comfortable athletically his shot volume should increase and he should once again be the go-to guy down the stretch. Bryant hasn’t quite found the rhythm yet, but his minutes and offensive contribution is increasing.

Lakers Miami Tickets

Lakers Miami

Any Kobe Bryant and Lebron James matchup is a big deal with this year’s game being perhaps more anticipated than in years past. The STAPLES Center crowd and the national television audience should eagerly tune in to see how Bryant, coming off a potentially career ending injury, can match up with the reigning champions. Expect a great deal of energy from the Lakers, especially from their athletic youngsters like Wesley Johnson and Nick Young. With Pau Gasol the Lakers will have an advantage over the smallish Heat interior and will need to exploit the big Spaniard’s advantage in the post to offset the difficult Heat “small-ball” attack. Look for a spirited effort from the Lakers, especially Bryant, as they play in front of a national television audience. By:Chris Michaels

What Can The Lakers Expect From Kobe Bryant’s Return?

Kobe Bryant

Kobe

After consecutive days of practice where he was able to fully participate in team activities all signs point towards a potential Kobe Bryant return Sunday at home versus the Toronto Raptors. With the Lakers off to a solid start and the look of a potential Western Conference playoff contender the return of their superstar from an Achilles injury suffered last April versus the Golden State Warriors should give the franchise an additional boost. After a difficult playoff exit that involved a sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs and the loss of center Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets tmany pundits were critical of the Lakers chances heading into the 2013-2014 season. After remaking the roster with limited resources to do so the Lakers are in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference and in a position to make a potential playoff run.

The big question is what can the Lakers expect from Bryant when he returns? Bryant isn’t the first NBA superstar to return from a torn Achilles. Four well known players who have suffered the injury and returned are Dominique Wilkins, Isiah Thomas, Chauncey Billups and Elton Brand. For Wilkins and Thomas, the results were mixed. Wilkins, the former Atlanta Hawks superstar suffered his injury at the age of thirty-two and returned nine months later, playing an additional seven seasons and averaging nearly thirty points a game in the season he returned. Thomas, the former Detroit Pistons Hall of Famer suffered the injury fourteen seasons into his career and never returned. Elton Brand returned and played an additional seven seasons but never had the same explosiveness. Bryant, known for his incredible work ethic, has aggressively rehabbed the injury and all indications from Lakers practice are that he’s ready to return to the NBA.

General Manager Mitch Kupchak did a solid job this offseason adding to the roster to inject some youth and athleticism into the roster. The Lakers now go as much as ten players deep with no one on the roster averaging more than thirty-minutes per game. Bryant will be able to smoothly work his way back into the rotation but unlike last season the Lakers won’t be forced to play their superstar more minutes than they’d like. Last season Bryant averaged 38.6 minutes per game, his highest number in nearly five seasons. The Lakers renewed depth will allow D’Antoni to slowly build up Bryant’s minutes as the Lakers contend for and hopefully reach the playoffs. The fewer minutes should make Bryant more efficient on both the offensive and defensive ends. He had a wonderful season last year but by most indications his defense suffered. Like most veteran players Bryant has reached the point where he has to pick his spots defensively and conserve his energy. Fewer minutes should allow Bryant to maximize his energy on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. With the addition of Wesley Johnson, Nick Young, Xavier Henry and Jordan Farmar (once he returns from injury) the Lakers have more options off the bench to spell Bryant. At the same time the Lakers young players, especially Young and Johnson, should benefit from the presence of Bryant. Johnson, a former fourth overall draft pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves, is a tremendous athlete with the ability to defend several positions on the court and hit the three point shot. Nick Young, a Los Angeles native, has provided instant offense off the bench and given the Lakers a go-to perimeter player down the stretch. When Bryant returns he’ll be able to once again take over the crunch time duties and allow Young to come in and provide a scoring touch when Bryant rests. The Lakers depth should also allow them to not have to play Bryant in back-to-back nights until he works himself back into game shape.

Kobe Bryant Black Mamba

Black Mamba

In addition to his customary shooting guard/small forward role, Head Coach Mike D’Antoni indicated that Bryant may play some point guard upon his return, signaling the fact that the return of Steve Nash be not be as soon as the return of Bryant. With Jordan Farmar on the shelf for at least the next month the Lakers need an option to spell current starting point guard Steve Blake. Sliding Bryant into an occasional point guard role will not upset the Lakers current rotation and give them a bigger lineup that could provide some defensive challenges for Western Conference teams with smaller back courts.

If Bryant does return Sunday versus the Toronto Raptors he’ll have a fired up STAPLES Center crowd and consecutive home games to get ready for a tough slate of upcoming games. Following the matchup with Rudy Gay and the Raptors the Lakers host the surprising Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night. Following the Suns game the Lakers have three days off before they head out on a road trip that includes four games in five days. The road trip kicks off with a high profile matchup in Oklahoma City versus Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. With a manageable schedule prior the Lakers could very well head into Oklahoma City multiple games over the .500 record mark. After the Lakers face the Thunder they have to travel to Charlotte to face the Bobcats in a back-to-back. As much as Bryant would love to play against the team built by his boyhood idol Michael Jordan it’s hard to imagine the Lakers playing him in back-to-back night so soon after his return. The Lakers will spend the weekend on the east coast followed by consecutive games at Atlanta and Memphis before they return home to STAPLES Center to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, December 20th.

The big date on the Lakers calendar is the Christmas Day visit to STAPLES Center by Lebron James and the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. If Bryant can return Sunday night versus the Raptors he’ll have just over two weeks to prepare for the Heat and the traditional nationally televised Christmas Day games. If the Lakers can properly manage the next three weeks of games they’ll be well positioned to charge into the New Year as legitimate playoff contenders.

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By:Chris Michaels

Kobe will return to Lakers for Christmas Day

Kobe Bryant Returns

Kobe Returns

Kobe Bryant made his return to practice Saturday, ramping up expectations for his eventual return to the court and to potential salvation for the Lakers. Friday night, while the Lakers were losing to the Memphis Grizzlies, Kobe tweeted that if Friday night’s game was a playoff game he’d be playing. Six months removed from the Achilles injury he suffered versus the Golden State Warriors the Lakers are struggling to keep afloat and badly need their superstar. The worst thing Bryant can do is rush back from injury so he’ll likely work up his conditioning over the next few weeks. According to Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak Bryant will definitely not return in the next two weeks, pushing the timeline to the first week of December at the earliest. So the big question is when will Kobe Bryant return? And when he does return will the Lakers be in contention?

Some of the speculation around Bryant’s return to game action points to the NBA’s traditional Christmas Day game. This year the Lakers take on Lebron James and the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat. A month ago Bryant changed his twitter picture to an image that alluded to 12/25. Whether he’s pointing to Christmas Day for his return or Kobe is simply looking at Christmas Day to be his coming out party the timing of Christmas would force the Lakers to play an additional month without their star. Los Angeles is currently 4-7 and fourth to last in the Western Conference, ahead of just New Orleans, Sacramento and Utah. The Lakers have lost four of their last five games including double digit losses to New Orleans, Minnesota and Denver. Friday night’s loss was a perfect example of where the Lakers miss Bryant. They were facing a 3-6 Memphis team that has struggled all season. The Lakers held a three-point lead going into the fourth quarter only to see Zach Randolph score fourteen in the fourth to put the game away. It’s the type of game that Kobe simply wouldn’t have allowed Memphis to win. In the Western Conference you have to defend your home court and Los Angeles is just 3-3 at STAPLES Center on the season. The Lakers have three games remaining on their current home stand, Detroit, Golden State and Sacramento. The Pistons, who the Lakers play Sunday night, are wrapping up an extended road trip and are ripe for a defeat after beating Sacramento on Friday night. While Golden State is an elite team, the Sacramento Kings are sitting at 2-7 and look completely discombobulated on offense. If Los Angeles can take two of the final three they’ll have some momentum as they leave STAPLES Center.

Whether the Lakers are in contention when Bryant returns is contingent on when he returns. After they wrap up the current home stand the Lakers head east for games at Washington, Brooklyn and Detroit. The Wizards are young and have trouble finishing games, like versus Cleveland on Saturday night. Detroit is a talented bunch but is still getting their rotation and interior combo of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe to play consistent together. Brooklyn is loaded with veteran talent but has struggled this season and may be without Deron Williams for an extended stretch. After a home game versus Portland the Lakers play at Sacramento followed by home games versus Toronto and Phoenix. This stretch of games encompasses the next three weeks and as far as the Western Conference is concerned is a relatively manageable stretch. If Los Angeles can go 5-5 over these next ten games they could potentially target Friday, December 13th versus the Oklahoma City Thunder for Bryant’s return following over three weeks of practice. If Bryant can give Los Angeles and immediate lift they just may claw back into contention.

If I was a betting man I would be the farm that come hell or high water Kobe Bryant will return to the Lakers to play on Christmas Day if not before! Lakers Tickets are available for Christmas and all other home games at the LA Staples Center. By:Chris Michaels

Can Lebron James and the Miami Heat win another Championship this year?

Heat Championship Rings

Heat Championship Rings

After a tough first 9 seasons in the NBA, with lots of criticism, lots of hate and love for his face, Lebron James finally redeemed himself last season winning the long-awaited Championship Ring. Can he really do it again this year?

Whether you hate Lebron, love him or simply don’t care about him –that would be curious- you have to admit that he is the best player currently in the NBA. I am not talking about best scorer, best passer or best rebounder or even the most clutch player. I am talking about doing all these together at a superior level, non-human, video-game like. Even if you were a tough NBA defender it’s almost impossible to stop a 6-8” body-frame weighting 250 lbs coming towards you at full speed. Combine it with top-class agility and shooting stroke and you have an ultimate weapon at your arsenal. I mean, what can’t Lebron really do? The most usual answer to this question until last June was that he can’t win a championship. Or some jokes about giving him a dollar and him giving you ¾ back. Well, all that has now changed, at least at some point. It’s always natural for a champion to ease the tension towards himself and that happened also with Lebron. Especially when this summer we all witnessed the Dwight Howard saga that finally ended up with him being traded to the Lakers. In fact the Lakers took a lot of the media attention and the criticism that Miami and Lebron had last year. It seems that together with power always comes responsibility and expectations for the greatest achievements. That’s what the Lakers face this year, they are in the tough position the Heat were last year. They are in a win now mode and not only because of getting 4 former all stars in their starting lineup, but also because everybody knows that in order to compete in the NBA, you need to be fresh (and young enough). The Lakers don’t have the luxury to wait a year or two like Miami did. On the other hand, the Lakers have already won several championships and the fans may not be so championship-hungry.

Back to Lebron and Miami, though, could they really make it to the finals again and win their second in a row? Only the Lakers have achieved to win two or more in a row the past decade. But the question might be which team can beat Miami in 7 games? As they’ve proved last year, they can do well even with tall teams managing well their weakness at frontcourt. They found the way to make the most out of their roster. What they wisely did last year for example against the Thunder at the finals, was that they switched Shane Battier at the four. That changed the game, because it forced Serge Ibaka, the monster blocker, run all the court around to chase Battier and defend him shooting the three. So that left the inside space clear Lebron and Wade. This year, they’ve added also Ray Allen, who needs no comments about his three pointers and Rashard Lewis, plus they’ve kept all the valuable members at their team. And with Lebron having another super season this far, they look like they are eligible to repeat. Let’s wait and see how things go for Miami and all the other true Championship contenders.