May 7th, 2013
During the 2012 NBA finals, we saw the Miami Heat smash the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. LeBron James finally redeemed himself and won his first ring, alongside Chris Bosh and D-Wade. It’s true that the Heat put their Championship chances in jeopardy, after Bosh’s injury during last year’s Playoffs. However, The King stepped up and zipped the mouths of all his critics about his late-game performances and his inability to deliver in crunch time.
So what has really changed since then?
Well, Miami’s chances have surely become better. LeBron, after a close-to-unreal season won his 4th MVP award in the last five years. The Heat recently knocked off the Bucks in just four games. They broke the franchise record for most wins in a season, with 66. They are putting on display a game that proves they possess what it takes to repeat. Plus they have a more powerful roster from last season. After managing to retain the core of the team, they added Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis in their arsenal. They were really tough for any team to stop throughout the season. Most of their opponents had to just pick their poison when they were facing them.
Is there a team that can really beat the Heat in seven games?
First of all, it was a season with many injuries of star players. Even when the Playoffs started, many key players for strong teams were not in their full health.
Let’s take it one by one. The most dangerous opponent for the Heat at the moment is the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite the fact that Durant lost his fellow superstar Russell Westbrook, they are still arguably the best team in the West. Although Durant is having another great season putting up huge numbers, the team could actually be less powerful than last year, when they got hammered by Miami. Kevin Martin is surely a great player off the bench and a terrific shooter. However, the loss of James Harden is surely was costly for Oklahoma. Now, with Westbook sidelined, there were many voices that the repeat just got easier for the Heat.
Apart from the Thunder, the Spurs could post a threat for the Heat, at least theoretically. Gregg Popovic’s veteran ensemble is always a countable opponent. They showed their force in the first round when they swept the injury-depleted Lakers. Health is a concern for them, too. Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker experienced some injuries and were not at their 100% at the start of the Playoffs. They should be ready come NBA Finals time.
In the West, the Indiana Pacers and the New York Knicks are the two teams that could seriously assail the Heat. The Knicks rely much on the offense of Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith and that could be a problem for them. Keeping in mind that the Heat’s defensive system is very effective against the pick and rolls and also the fact that Miami has the defensive guru in the name of Shane Battier in their roster, it could get tricky for the Knicks to exploit them.
Indiana on the other hand proved that they came to fight. They broke New York’s home court advantage last night, taking Game 1 of their series. They also troubled the Heat extensively during their matchup last year. Miami finally advanced after Game 6. Nevertheless, LeBron and Wade hit the wall of Indiana’s big men, Hibbert and West. Should the Pacers roll past the Knicks in the East Semis, the Eastern Conference Finals will really be interesting. Of course they are still playing without their rstar Danny Granger, who is out due to a knee injury.
Miami will have to overpass the obstacle of the Chicago Bulls. This is yet another of the many teams that lacks of its best player. Derrick Rose, one of the best players in the NBA has yet to play this season. There is much speculation about his return during these series. However, nothing is certain and of course it’s questionable which version of him we’ll see after his extensive time off the courts. Chicago will also play without All-Star forward Luol Deng, at least in Game 1.
There is no doubt that the Heat are capable of winning any team currently in the NBA even with all players at full health. But now, their road to their second consecutive Championship might be a bit easier.
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January 16th, 2013
LA Clippers Eric Bledsoe
Despite his youth, Eric Bledsoe has proven that he is a top caliber point guard. He was selected at the 18th spot during the 2010 NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder and was traded right away to the Clippers. Judging from the outcome, LA should be glad to land a player like Bledsoe.
He never really had a true chance proving his potential, but even off the bench, one could say that he can become one of the best point guards in the league. After all, the league lacks of true point guards that can set up plays and find ways to make things easier for their teammates.
Although Bledsoe might not be the ideal pass-first playmaker, his quickness, his terrific ball handling to go along with his long range shooting ability can make him a valuable member in any team in the NBA. The playing style of most teams has changed drastically during the past years. Today, we don’t see the old-fashioned teams, when the playmaker advanced the ball, the guards were on the wings shooting or penetrating and the centers filled the middle. With so much talent on the floors of the NBA, we can see many times Power Forwards playing as point guards setting up plays and centers hitting threes. That’s why any player must possess a variety of skills to become successful and have a chance to compete against the others. Eric Bledsoe is surely one of them.
Because of the injuries of teammates Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups, Bledsoe had the chance to start for two consecutive games and guess what, he recorder season highs. It’s clear that Coach Vinnie Del Negro shouldn’t worry so much about his injured players as long as Bledsoe is available. At least he shouldn’t rush them back. When asked about the possibility of starting for an NBA team, the third year guard out of Kentucky replied: “I’m just focused on winning and learning how to win right now.” It’s so important for him and his maturity to be alongside veteran point guards Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups. Playing with them every day, even at practice, is the best school for any young player to improve his skills. Plus, we know that both Paul and Billups are like on court assistant coaches.
So the answer to the question about Bledsoe possibly starting for an NBA team is surely affirmative. The future is projected bright for Eric, as soon as he manages to retain his improving performance and stays healthy. But even at this stage of his career, he could easily start for many NBA teams, not to say above half of them.
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January 8th, 2013
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.
May 15th, 2012
Lakers Vs Thunder Game One
THUNDER 119, LAKERS 90: Russell Westbrook scored 27 points and Kevin Durant added 25 as host Oklahoma City trampled Los Angeles in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.
James Harden scored 17 points off the bench for the Thunder, who showed no signs of rustiness from an eight-day layoff after sweeping the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.
Westbrook added nine assists and seven rebounds and Durant grabbed eight boards before each took a seat for the fourth quarter.
Game 2 will be played Thursday night in Oklahoma City.
Andrew Bynum had 20 points and 14 rebounds and Kobe Bryant scored 20 points to pace the Lakers, who were playing two days after closing out Denver and wilted after a fast start. Metta World Peace finished with 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter.
The Thunder seized control in the final 3 1/2 minutes of the second quarter, getting five points from Westbrook in a 9-2 spurt to take a 59-44 lead into halftime.
The Lakers had erased an 18-point deficit to beat the Thunder at the end of the regular season, but Oklahoma City opened the second half with a 9-0 blitz to ensure there would be no comeback.
Durant scored eight points and the Thunder hit their first seven shots in the first four minutes of the third quarter to build the lead to 77-48.
The lead peaked at 35 points for the Thunder, who buried 12 of 17 shots in the quarter to turn it into a 98-68 rout entering the final 12 minutes.
April 22nd, 2012
L.A. Lakers 114, Oklahoma City 106
Location – Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Officials – #50 Olandis Poole, #57 Greg Willard, #59 Gary Zielinski
Attendance – 18997
We will stock all Lakers Vs Thunder Playoff Tickets for both Lakers Home and Away Games.
Lakers 114, Thunder 106 (2 OT): Kobe Bryant scored 19 of his 26 points in the final 3:56 of regulation and overtime as host Los Angeles overcame an 18-point deficit to move a game ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers in the race for the Pacific Division crown.
Bryant went for eight points in the second overtime, giving the Lakers the lead for good with a jumper in the final minute.
Pau Gasol added 20 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists for Los Angeles.
The game took an ugly turn late in the second quarter when Metta World Peace celebrated his dunk by throwing a vicious elbow into the side of James Harden’s head. Harden stayed down for several minutes and World Peace was ejected for the flagrant foul type 2.
The Thunder, who were leading by a point at the time, turned the game in their favor after the incident. Kevin Durant buried the two flagrant free throws and scored the final four points of the second quarter.
Oklahoma City came out of the break on fire, running the lead up to as much as 77-59 late in the third.
The Thunder were still up 84-70 with 7:13 left in the game when Los Angeles made a move, getting a pair of 3-pointers from Steve Blake and a three-point play from Bryant during an 18-3 burst. Bryant’s one-footed 3-pointer from the top of the key as the shot clock was winding down gave the Lakers their first lead 88-87 since World Peace’s elbow.
Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to shoot 2 for 12 in the fourth quarter but Westbrook hit four free throws in the final 1:13 to force overtime.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Westbrook finished 3 for 22 from the floor for 14 points while Durant scored 35 on 11-of-34 shooting. … Harden did not return to the game, finishing with 14 points in 13 minutes. … The Lakers outscored the Thunder 30-14 in the fourth quarter. … Oklahoma City dropped 1 1/2 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the top spot in the West.
As of now the Lakers will play the Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. We will have Lakers Vs Grizzlies Tickets for all games of the first round playoffs.
April 19th, 2012
Los Angeles Clippers Offical Partner Barrys Ticket Service
The second-longest active postseason drought is over. The Clippers are officially in the NBA playoffs this year. They had more than just making the NBA playoffs on their minds after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night,
Monday night’s heavyweight Western Conference bout ending in a surprising manner, as the LA Clippers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 92-77. The game locked up Lob City’s postseason bid, marking the first time the Clippers have made the playoffs since 2006.
Los Angeles was lead by Blake Griffin who had 17 points and 11 rebounds, but got some serious support from Nick Young off the bench who went for 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 3-of-4 from downtown.
The real turning point in the game came in the 3rd quarter where L.A. topped Oklahoma 23 to 14. Durant mustered 24 points, but James Hardin only had 12 while Russell Westbrook only managed nine points to go along with five turnovers.
The L.A. faithful were in attendance to celebrate their playoff qualifying night as the franchise enjoyed their 32nd consecutive sellout crowd.
There was a time, for example, the bulk of the team’s existence that simply making the NBA playoffs would have been the most a Clippers fan would dare to expect from a team that has finished with a record above .
The Clippers’ 2005-06 playoff appearance represents the only time they’ve won a playoff series while playing in Los Angeles, and even then they didn’t get beyond the second round.
The playoff berth was actually sealed in the first half when the Houston Rockets lost to the Denver Nuggets, but give the Clippers some style points for the win over the Thunder.
The Clippers rank first in the league in points per possession (PPP) on shots the ballhandler takes in the pick-and-roll, while Paul ranks sixth among all players. Point being, if Paul gets a favorable switch or the space to operate coming off a screen, he’s one of the best point producers in the league.
To properly blow up a pick-and-roll, you need to have mobile, intelligent big men. The Lakers are a perfect example of this. Pau Gasol is one of the best in the business at showing hard on a screen, then recovering properly. He’s a big reason the Lakers rank 9th in pick-and-roll ballhandler defense, even with the molasses-like duo of Derek Fisher and Steve Blake covering the ball most of the year.
Although they probably won’t meet in the first round, offensively the Clippers would love a matchup against the San Antonio Spurs, who rank as the league’s worst defensive team in PPP allowed to ballhandlers in the pick-and-roll. The Spurs have immobile bigs and lack the ability to switch their bigs on to guards — a huge reason why the previous meetings between these two teams have been so high scoring.
The Denver Nuggets would be another favorable matchup, as they check in as the 20th best team in spot-up PPP, and 23rd in 3-point percentage. However, both the Grizzlies and Nuggets pale in comparison to one of the best matchups for the Clippers and one of the worst shooting teams in the league — the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are 28th in the league in spot-up opportunities and 29th in 3-point shooting at a woeful 30.7 percent, which is almost ten percentage points lower than the first place Spurs. The Jazz are on the outside looking in at this point, but the Clippers would love to somehow see them in the first round.
The NBA playoffs begin April 28. The Clippers will play four of their remaining five games on the road, including visits to Denver, Phoenix and Atlanta before closing out the regular season April 25 in New York.
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April 17th, 2012
L.A. Clippers 92, Oklahoma City 77
Location – Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Officials – #17 Joe Crawford, #36 David Jones, #29 Mark Lindsay
Attendance – 19516
CLIPPERS Vs THUNDER : Nick Young scored 19 points off the bench, Blake Griffin had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Los Angeles dominated play in the second half in beating the Oklahoma City Thunder for the second time in less than a week.
The win against the conference-leading Thunder was icing on the cake for the Clippers, who learned moments before tipoff they had clinched their first playoff berth since 2005-06.
Randy Foye scored 13 points and Chris Paul finished with 12 points and 10 assists as Los Angeles held superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in check while moving within a game of the Lakers for first place in the Pacific Division.
Durant scored only five of his 24 points after halftime and Russell Westbrook shot 4 of 16 from the floor for nine points as the Thunder recorded their lowest point total of the season.
With the game tied at 66 entering the fourth, Mo Williams nailed a 3-pointer that jump-started the Clippers. Young later made a jumper to open a 13-3 run that included six points from Griffin, four coming on back-to-back dunks. The spurt was capped by a Williams’ 3 for the 87-75 lead with 3:58 remaining.
Durant had 19 points in the first half, but the Clippers put the clamps down defensively in the third. Durant was held scoreless and the Thunder made only six baskets in the frame.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Paul was announced Monday as the recipient of the Sportsmanship Award for the Pacific Division. … The Clippers won three of the four matchups this season. … Young’s point total was his highest with the Clippers since being acquired from Washington. … Durant missed all seven of his 3-pointers.
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February 26th, 2012
Friday night the NBA hosted a number of events, none more interesting than the 2012 Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game (5 p.m. | ESPN) and BBVA Rising Stars Challenge (7 p.m. | TNT).
Back in my day All-Star Friday night would be a place where they’d just talk to the All-Stars on camera, live, and get Karl Malone mad. The Celebrity Game and “Rookie” game have both gone through a number of changes over the years. This year in the Celebrity game they augmented the rosters with some former NBA-All Stars (passed their prime), and one WNBA notable (Tamika Catchings). The coaches for the two teams (somehow separated into “East” and “West”) were Orlando Magic Dwight Howard and Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant respectively. I really had no idea who the celebrities in the celebrity game were except for the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Kevin Hart.
There were even more changes in the Rookie game. This year they put all the rookies and sophomores into a pool, and had Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley alternate picks to fill out the two teams. The rosters used to only be 8 players strong, but because Jeremy Lin is a huge story right now, they increased the roster size to 10 players. In the older format it was very rare for the rookie team to beat the sophomore team. This way seems a bit more interesting though; you know, provided that the people making the picks actually know what they are doing. Ex Los Angeles Lakers Shaq’s first two picks, LA Clippers Blake Griffin and Jeremy Lin, both hardly played at all during the game. On the other hand, Chuck’s first two picks dominated when they were in the game. Early on DeMarcus Cousins was dunking on everybody, and his first pick Kyrie Irving won the MVP of the game (He went 8-8 from downtown). Also the two teams had every uneven coaching. Shaq’s team was coached by an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls and Steve Kerr (TNT). The Chicago Bulls assistant was coaching in a game where no one played defense, so he was wasted; and Kerr was a GM but never a coach. On Charles’ team the two coaches were Maurice Cheeks (Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach), and Mike Fratello (TNT). Mo Cheeks and The Czar were both NBA head coaches — and Mike was totally into the game actually coaching.
I’m having difficulty finding an actual Box Score of the game, but Gordon Hayward finished the game with 14 points, a pair of blocks, and countless nice passes. His outside shot was still missing; however he got to do a little bit of everything and he looked like he was having fun. I was particularly impressed with his defensive rebounds — which he snagged due to his length and athleticism, I would like to see more of that for the Jazz. Derrick Favors also added 14 points, in 14 minutes according to John Hollinger. He made pretty much all of his shots, including all of his free throws — and he was the only guy out there on Chuck’s team who failed to convert his thinking into “Exhibition Game Mode”. In a way, he was the analog to Shaq’s team’s dour blue collar bigman Greg Monroe. They both played back to the basket, had some dunks, but many more of their finishes were fundamentally sound. And they both played post defense, instead of just letting people dunk it. Monroe, of course, stole the game and the highlight of the game when — in super-duper garbage time, actually disrupted a potential John Wall Jam, and turned it into a full court assist with seconds left on the clock.
Both of our guys played well off the bench, and seem to be enjoying themselves. Hopefully they can get more playing time together in the second half of the season. I think the last time I watched the rookie game was when Andrei Kirilenko was a sophomore, and he was the only guy playing defense for his team. Nice to know that few things have changed for the mentality of our players.
February 24th, 2012
NBA All-Star Weekend 2012 officially kicks off Friday in Orlando. Here’s a schedule of all the top-tier All-Star Weekend events.
Usually known as the Rookie/Sophomore Game, the 2012 edition of the Rising Stars Challenge is different because TNT analysts Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley selected the rosters from a pool of the top first- and second-year players. Reigning Rookie of the Year winner Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin headline Team Shaq. Top overall draft choice Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and versatile big-man DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings anchor Team Chuck.
All-Star Saturday Night opens with the Haier Shooting Stars, which pits the defending champion Team Atlanta against Team Orlando, Team New York, and Team Texas.
The next event is the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, in which six of the league’s top point guards battle to complete an obstacle course that tests their dribbling, passing, and shooting ability. Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, the defending champion, will take on Irving, Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets.
The Foot Locker Three-Point Contest follows the Skills Challenge in which Magic forward Ryan Anderson will challenge the defending champion James Jones of the Miami Heat. Other competitors include Mario Chalmers of the Miami Heat, Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City, Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Anthony Morrow of the New Jersey Nets. Durant replaces Atlanta Hawks swingman Joe Johnson, who will sit out the contest due to injury.
The Sprite Slam Dunk Contest concludes All-Star Saturday Night. This year’s dunk showdown features four players who have never before competed; it’s all fresh faces. In addition, the dunk contest will debut a new, one-round format in which each competitor has the opportunity to execute three dunks. The field is Chase Budinger of the Houston Rockets, Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, and Derrick Williams of Minnesota. Evans replaces Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert, who had to bow out of the competition due to injury.
The main event of the weekend finally tips Sunday evening. Magic center Dwight Howard, the leading vote-getter among all players, will start for the East, while Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will tie a record for consecutive All-Star appearances with 14.
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