Tag Archives: Western Conference

What does Kevin Durant’s injury mean for the Western Conference?

As the Los Angeles Clippers ready for the regular season, news broke on Sunday that Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder is dealing with a Jones Fracture in his right foot and will miss at least the first month of the season. The fracture at the base of his small toe reportedly will keep Durant out 6 to 8 weeks at a minimum, with some speculating that the Thunder could look to keep Durant out even longer to err on the side of caution with the injury.

It’s the second consecutive year the Thunder has to deal with a major injury to a key player at the beginning of the regular season. Last year the Thunder were without star point guard Russell Westbrook at the beginning of the year, an injury the Thunder were able to overcome and still finish with the second best record in the Western Conference. The injury to Durant could be much more significant. In Reggie Jackson, one of the best backup point guards in the NBA, Oklahoma City had a solid replacement for Westbrook, something that simply doesn’t exist for Durant. Depending on how much time Durant misses the Thunder will likely struggle without Durant, a factor that can impact the rest of the Western Conference teams.

How big of an impact is the injury to Durant on the Clippers chances to earn the best record in the Western Conference? It could be potentially significant.

More than anything the injury to Durant is a reminder that injury luck in the NBA can be fleeting, and the Thunder have had good luck with injuries during their run of strong play over the past several years, prior to last season. Now it’s Durant who’s on the sidelines with Westbrook forced to take a bigger role in the offense. The one constant has been Durant, who has missed only six total games in the past five seasons, including the postseason. The Thunder have not had to play without their superstar for any significant stretch in the past five years, a major factor in their ability to always finish in the top two in the Western Conference.

Durant could miss 15 to 30 games if you take into account the full range of recovery that experts have laid out. If Durant misses the larger number of games, the Thunder could be in a significant hole to the Clippers and Spurs when it comes to best record and the all important home court advantage in the playoffs, a significant factor in the Thunder defeat of the Clippers in last year’s playoffs. The absence of Durant could mean the Thunder go from a 60 win team to a 53 to 55 win team, a factor that may not only put the Thunder behind the Clippers and Spurs, but could potentially put them in a group of teams that includes the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets.

The Thunder need to be careful with Durant and have his long-term health in mind. Although many players recover quickly from such injuries, there are cases like Brook Lopez and Yao Ming where foot injuries have lingered for a longer period of time. If the Thunder are more conservative with Durant it’s a major opportunity for the Clippers to earn home court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs.

You can purchase Clippers vs Thunder Tickets for their opening game on Oct 30th at the LA Staples Center.Chris M.

Trail Blazers Damian Lillard

Did the Blazers finally hit the jackpot with Lillard?

Lillard Trail BlazersThe Portland Trailblazers have won one NBA Championship since entering the league as a franchise in 1970. Following the 1977 title, the Blazers have had a tough go of things and been one of the unluckiest franchises in the league. They passed up players in the 1984 NBA Draft such as Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, instead opting for Sam Bowie. In the 2007 NBA Draft, they selected Greg Oden with the first overall pick and passed on league’s current best player behind Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James in OKC Thunder Kevin Durant. The team’s franchise player from the 2006 NBA Draft, Brandon Roy, was a budding superstar but chronic knee issues forced him to retire. If some breaks had gone their way, they would have multiple championship balls in their trophy case. With an unlucky history, the current Portland squad is in good hands. The sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Damian Lillard, has turned into a superstar already in this league and has teamed up with LaMarcus Aldridge to form a dynamic duo. With the 24-year-old Lillard entering his third NBA season, the tides have turned for the Blazers as they seem to be on the lucky side for a change.

Like most of the great players, Lillard has overcome a lot to reach the status of elite. He was only recruited by one Division I school out of high school in Oakland, California. Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, was that school and Lillard played with a chip on his shoulders. The six-foot-three point guard dominated for Weber State, winning Freshman of the Year honors and Player of the Year honors twice. He was a prolific scorer and showcased his excellent athleticism which led to the Blazers picking Lillard in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Blazers LillardLillard started off his career with a bang, picking up Co-MVP honors of the NBA Summer League and dropping 23 points and 11 assists in his regular season debut. Portland didn’t make the playoffs during Lillard’s first season but he won Rookie of the Year honors and the expectations were raised. This past season, Lillard made his first All-Star Game appearance and the Blazers claimed the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Lillard once again stepped up big in the clutch, winning the series on a three-pointer at the buzzer to drop the Houston Rockets. The Blazers went on to lose to the eventual NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs in round two but the future is set. They missed out on Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Kevin Durant but the Blazers stock is going up with the help of Lillard. Chris M.

Off Season Moves For The Anaheim Ducks

Anaheim Ducks TicketsAfter finishing with the second best regular season record in the National Hockey League but losing in the second round of the playoffs to the Los Angeles Kings the Anaheim Ducks realized they needed to upgrade the center position in the offseason. In the second round series loss versus the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Kings the Ducks were overmatched at the center spot on the second through fourth lines. Looking to upgrade the position the Ducks struck aggressively the day before the NHL draft by trading for former Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler. Kesler, who had requested a trade earlier in the 2014 season, was one of the top trade targets in this year’s NHL offseason. The Ducks dealt forward Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa and the 24th and 85th overall pick in the NHL entry draft. In return the Ducks received Kesler and Vancouver’s 2015 third round pick.

The Ducks gave up some talented players and draft picks but returned an elite plakyer in Kesler. He’s one of the better two-way players in the NHL and a former winner of the Selke Trophy, given annually to the top defensive forward in hockey. In addition to winning the Selke in 2011 Kesler has finished in the top five in the Selke voting on three other occasions. The 29-year-old Kesler, a native of Livonia, Michigan should be the perfect second-line center to provide goal scoring and grit behind the Getzlaf/Perry line. He’s scored more than 25 goals four times in his NHL career, including a 41 goals season in 2010-2011. Overall Kesler has notched 182 goals in his nine-season career.

In dealing Sbisa the Ducks gave up on a once-promising prospect and former first round draft pick who’s battled injuries the last few seasons. In order to get a player the caliber of Kesler they had to relinquish some talent, including dealing Bonino to a division rival. Bonino had the best year of his professional career this past season, scoring 22 goals and registering 49 points.
The trade is cap friendly for Anaheim since Kesler still has two years left on his contract with a salary cap hit of $5 million per season. If Anaheim can get the production out of Kesler that he had in Vancouver he’s well worth the price. The Ducks badly needed a second center like Kesler to make a deep playoff run and contend with a talented Western Conference that includes the defending champion Kings, a talented Chicago Blackhawks team and a big and physical St. Louis Blues club. With Kesler in the fold they should be favorites to contend for the Pacific Division and top record in the Western Conference once again.

In addition to trading for Kesler the Ducks also had the tenth pick in the NHL draft, selecting forward Nick Ritchie of the Peterborough Petes. Ritchie is an imposing winger, with size ready-built for the NHL. Ritchie has a reputation as a tough and skilled forward, someone who can potentially be a power forward in the future. In 61 games with the Petes this season Ritchie scored 39 goals for a total of 74 points. The big forward likely won’t arrive in Anaheim for a couple of seasons, but should give the Ducks a big goal-scorer when he does.

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What Should the LA Kings Do This Offseason

One of the most memorable postseason runs in recent history gave the Los Angeles Kings their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons. After playing three consecutive seven-game series to reach the NHL finals, the Kings dispatched the New York Rangers in five games for the title. General Manager Dean Lombardi has built an impressive core of talent, one that should contend for the next several years. In the era of the NHL salary cap the Kings will still have some roster decisions to make in the offseason. Their overall depth and stable of young players should offset any major veteran losses.

Here’s a look at what the Kings need to do in the offseason to continue their potential dynasty:
Bring Back Gaborik: The Kings Trade deadline acquisition of Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets turned out to be a masterstroke, especially in the first and second rounds of the playoffs. The dynamic forward scored several big postseason goals, forming a winning combination with Anze Kopitar. Gaborik led the NHL in postseason goals with fourteen, winning his first Stanley Cup in the process. He’ll be a coveted free agent but all signs indicate that the Kings have the interest and ability to re-sign the Slovakian forward. This postseason the Kings became a much more dynamic offensive team, and Gaborik’s presence was a big factor in that evolution.

Sign either Willie Mitchell or Matt Greene: Lombardi has done a fantastic job locking up the core of the roster in long-term deals. Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez, the team’s top defensive combo, are signed through next season. Two veteran blue-liners, Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene are unrestricted free agents. Both have battled injuries the past couple of seasons, but are key contributors when healthy, as well as a veteran presence. Mitchell in particular played a massive role this postseason. The Kings don’t need to re-sign both veterans but should look to bring one of them back for the veteran presence and overall depth of the defense.

Continue the youth movement: In the new NHL salary cap era it’s incredible how adeptly Dean Lombardi has built the roster and managed the salary cap. Core players Dustin Brown, Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter, Slava Voynov and Mike Richards are all signed for the next five seasons while Anze Kopitar, Alec Martinez and Jarett Stoll are all signed through at least next season. The long-term deals have given the Kings stability while their young players have developed. This past postseason the Kings received massive contributions from the exciting young talent of Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Kyle Clifford. All three played big roles and should play even bigger roles next season. The offensive spark provided by the three, along with Gaborik, played a role in the Kings offensive evolution from a defensive and puck possession team to the highest scoring team in the past postseason.

Along with the Chicago Blackhawks the Kings will be the favorites to represent the Western Conference in the NHL finals next season. They are a potential dynasty, a franchise built for the long haul. The key now is health and the continued evolution of the young talent the organization has built. In the last twenty seasons dynasties in the NHL have been few and far between. In an era of competitive balance created by the salary cap the Kings have a real opportunity to win consecutive titles.

Stanley Cup game 5

GAME 5 KINGS VS RANGERS STANLEY CUP

Kings Vs Rangers Stanley Cup

FACE OFF LA KINGS VS RANGERS

LA Kings Jonathan Quick

QUICK PASSING THE RANGERS TEAM

Chris M.

Anaheim Ducks Look To Regroup For 2014-2015

Anaheim Ducks Tickets

DUCKS

After a strong regular season that ended with a disappointing second round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Kings, the Anaheim Ducks now head into the offseason. The Ducks held a 3-2 series lead before losing the final two games versus the Kings, sending Los Angeles to the Western Conference finals. Ducks fans will likely see some changes this offseason, here’s a look at some potential moves the Ducks can and should try to make.

Goaltending: The Ducks top choice between the pipes will be a major story this offseason and heading into the upcoming season. Although he’s had his share of ups and downs, Jonas Hiller has been a solid performer during his tenure with the Ducks. The veteran goalie is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and could command attention from other clubs that need an answer in net. The Ducks have the luxury of depth at the most important position in hockey in rookies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson. Andersen, the 24-year-old Danish rookie had a solid regular season as the backup to Hiller. During the regular season Andersen went 20-5 in 28 starts with a 2.29 goals against average. He started seven games in the postseason with solid success. Gibson, considered the top goaltending prospect in all of hockey had a dynamic start, winning his first three starts as a NHL player at the end of the Ducks regular season. His solid play continued into the first two games of the Kings series when Gibson was the surprising starter. The Kings solved Gibson in games six and seven, but the young rookie was impressive in how he commanded the situation. The Ducks have capable depth in Andersen and Gibson, but the big question is how much they value the veteran presence of Hiller, who had a solid regular season as the top choice in goal. Gibson looks ready to take over the top position and has the potential to be a Jonathan Quick-like difference maker in goal. A tandem of Gibson and Andersen should be capable.

Anaheim Ducks Goalie

HILLER

Deal a young goalie? If the Ducks decide that Gibson is the future in goal they could potentially deal a player like Andersen to realize his full value now, then potentially re-signing Hiller as a veteran backup for Gibson. The Ducks situation could very much like the situation in Los Angeles, with Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier. Once Quick won the starting spot and it was clear that Bernier was not going to be a full-time starter, the Kings traded Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Los Angeles was able to acquire forward Matt Frattin and backup goalie Ben Scrivens for Bernier, eventually moving Frattin to Columbus at the trade deadline for Marian Gaborik. With limited cap space and ability to move or acquire players this offseason, dealing Andersen may be an option.

Youth Movement: The Ducks have one of the top minor league systems in all of hockey, rated tops by Hockey News. In addition to Gibson and current contributors like Devante Smith-Pelly, Jakob Silfverberg and Sami Vatanen, Anaheim has young center Richard Rakell and defenseman Shea Theodore waiting in the wings. In the salary-cap era of the NHL successful teams are able to maintain a team of veteran stars, while developing youngsters to come in and contribute. Silfverberg and Smith-Pelly are restricted free agents who the Ducks will most likely re-sign, as is Sami Vatanen.

As a result of the Bobby Ryan trade, the Ducks have the tenth pick in the upcoming NHL draft. They likely don’t find an immediate contributor at the ten spot, but should be able to pick up a player who can potentially join the Ducks in the near future.

What do the Ducks need? With limited resources there are a couple of areas that the Ducks should explore to improve their team. One area is at defense where the team could use a bigger physical presence on the blue line. The team will have to decide whether not they want to re-sign Stephane Robidas, who they acquired at the trade deadline from the Dallas Stars. Robidas is an impact player when healthy, but has suffered two leg injuries in the past six months, a potential concern.

Honda Center Ducks Tickets

HONDA CENTER

A second area of need is another veteran goal scorer beyond Perry and Getzlaf. Nick Bonino and Andrew Cogliano provide excellent second and third line play, but they could benefit from a goal scoring forward. Of course with the contracts of Getzlaf and Perry the Ducks are limited in free agency, but they could look to acquire a goal scoring forward in a potential trade, perhaps involving a young goaltender.

As an organization the Ducks are well primed for success over the next several years. They’ve maintained their veteran core will building a stop farm system that injects young talent into the lineup. In John Gibson they may have found that elite goaltender that can carry a franchise to a championship. Small tweaks, including a few additions, could return the Ducks to the Stanley Cup finals.

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You can follow Chris Cabrera on G+ or Twitter for tiny bits of wisdom.

Emerging powers in NBA’s Wild Wild West

Western Conference

NBA WEST

The Western Conference has been the more powerful of the two in the NBA for several years now. This current season is no exception. Apart from the powerhouses, which were expected to dominate and they eventually did, we also saw several underdogs making their presence felt. The San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder are considered as the three elite teams in the West but the Portland Trail Blazers and the Golden State Warriors are also powerhouses, emerging ones. In fact, we could even say that the Los Angeles Clippers are an emerging powerhouse, given that it’s been just a couple of seasons since Lob City has made it to the top. Let’s examine each emerging power in the West.

Golden State Warriors

GS Warriors Tickets

WARRIORS

The Warriors are definitely an emerging powerhouse. Although the Dubs experienced several ups and downs this season, they also showed their potential. The Warriors entered the 2013-2014 campaign as one of the strongest championship contenders in the Western Conference and the truth is that it took them a while to showcase their abilities. Playing without their starting center, Andrew Bogut, the Dubs did manage to drag their first round series against the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games. They eventually fell to Lob City but the future seems to be bright for Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee, Andre Iguodala and the rest of the crew. Every core member of the team is under contract for at least one more season.

Portland Trail Blazers

Blazers Tickets

BLAZERS

Rip City made it to the second round of the playoffs this year and but it also managed to made its presence felt across the NBA world. The Blazers have now found their new face of the franchise, in Damian Lillard. The second-year point guard as already reached a superstar level and although he is just 23, he seems to be ready to make it to the list of the elite point guards in the NBA, together with Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook. On top of that, LaMarcus Aldridge has managed to revamp his career and although he had some cold streaks during the playoffs, he seems to be capable of being the second star pillar, alongside Lillard. Nicolas Batum is the third member of Rip City’s Big Three and things in Portland now look better than ever in the recent history of the team. Look for the Blazers to continue emerging in the seasons to come.

Los Angeles Clippers

LA Clippers Tickets

CLIPPERS

Forget about the Lakers. The next big thing in LA is the team called “Los Angeles Clippers”, also known as Lob City. The Clips possess every single element a true powerhouse, an elite team needs to have. They’ve got two megastars, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, an emerging star, in DeAndre Jordan, the best sixth man in the NBA, in Jamal Crawford and also one of handful of guru coaches in the league, Doc Rivers. The Clippers have already emerged as a powerhouse in the West but they are continuing their upward course. If they don’t win the NBA Championship this year they will certainly have the chance to do so in the seasons to come. Chris M.

Clippers Steal The Thunder

Clippers Vs Thunder Tickets

CP3

One of the big storylines heading into game one of the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder second round series was the two point guards, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. Westbrook, even after dealing with a knee injury for the better part of a year, is one of the most athletically gifted point guards in the NBA. Paul, the consummate veteran, had a solid opening round series against the Golden State Warriors, but has had to deal with a strained hamstring during the postseason. While many wondered how Paul would fare against an athletic Oklahoma City team, many pointed out how Paul always seems to step up big when challenged.

Boy, were they right.

LA Clippers Vs OKC Thunder

CP3

Behind one of the greatest performances of his career the Clippers traveled to Oklahoma City and blew out the Thunder in the opening game of their second round playoff series behind a virtuoso performance from Chris Paul. Paul scored 32 points in just 28 minutes of play, shooting 12 of 14 from the field and 8 of 9 from behind the three point line. He also notched ten assists while just turning the ball over two times. Paul made six three-pointers in the first half as the Clippers jumped out to a massive 17 point halftime lead on the way to a 122-105 victory.

Overall the Clippers shot 55% from the field with five total players in double figures. Blake Griffin scored 23 points to go along with 5 boards and 5 assists, while Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and JJ Redick also hit double figures. Los Angeles had 26 assists and just 8 turnovers. It was a perfect start to game one and a message to the Thunder and the rest of the NBA that the Clippers are ready for a long playoff push.

Thunder Vs Clippers Tickets

BLAKE

For Oklahoma City the story was again their lack of balance offensively. As this year’s postseason has evolved, the Thunder has become one-sided to a fault, relying solely on the combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Other than a couple of big performances from Reggie Jackson in the Grizzlies series, the Thunder has become the ultimate example of a two man team. After three quarters on Monday night the Clippers led the Thunder by a score of 104-78. Of the 78 Thunder point the combination of Durant and Westbrook scored 54. This deficit included a 22-7 Clippers lead in bench scoring.

Victory in hand the Clippers have a massive opportunity to send the series back to STAPLES Center with a commanding 2-0 lead. They’ll face a desperate Thunder team hoping not to fall behind in the second round like they did in the first round. The Clippers will start game two with a tremendous amount of confidence due to the sheer size of the blowout. Game two is Wednesday night at 6:30 Pacific.

Dont miss any of the action! Clippers Tickets for all playoff games on sale now with no service fees on any tickets.

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BY: Chris M.

Who Will Coach The Lakers?

LA Lakers New Coach

?

Mike D’Antoni confirmed the inevitable on Thursday by resigning as the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. In a national NBA news cycle that’s been dominated by the Donald Sterling controversy the Lakers were once again, briefly, the story nationally. Finishing out of the playoffs with another potential season of rebuilding upcoming, the Lakers now have to find a head coach to replace D’Antoni that can restore success in Lakerland while ushering the team into a new era. Several names have been bandied about already, with the two coaches who faced off against each other in the recent NCAA title game at the top of the list. Kevin Ollie and John Calipari seem to be the two most talked about candidates, but there will be others. The next Lakers coach will be a big decision and the franchise needs to correct the mistakes they made during the previous two hires of Mike Brown and D’Antoni. Now more than ever, it’s essential that the Lakers reclaim their place among Southern California NBA fans.

LA Clippers Vs Spurs

DOC

One big reason the next hire is important is the direct result of the Donald Sterling controversy. When NBA commissioner Adam Silver made the decision to fine Sterling $2.5 million and push to force him to sell the team he not only created a big sigh of relief among Clippers fans, he also created a scenario where the Clippers popularity could potentially explode. For the last thirty seasons under Sterling’s ownership the Clippers had been a disaster of a franchise. Poor decisions, poor luck and a bad owner created a franchise with little success, a punching bag for many nationally and an easy win for the cross-town Lakers. Prior to coming to the STAPLES Center the Clippers played in front of sparse crowds at the Los Angeles Sports Arena as they typically finished at the bottom of the division. In the last few years, despite Sterling, the Clippers have become a Western Conference power behind the play of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul and, this season, the tutelage of Doc Rivers. This recent success has always been despite Sterling, not because of Sterling.

Now with Sterling potentially out of the picture the Clippers suddenly have reached a higher level of awareness nationally. They’ve become a feel-good story with several high profile figures being discussed as potential bidders for the franchise. These names include Magic Johnson and Oprah Winfrey, as well as Oracle Corporation founder Larry Ellison. Ellison, worth $50 billion, put in a losing bid to buy the Golden State Warriors five-years ago. Ellison has the money and some potential high-profile partners in Winfrey and David Geffen. Suddenly, should someone like Ellison buy the team, the Clippers have the potential to emerge as a much more popular franchise both in Southern California and nationally.

Los Angeles Lakers Tickets

COACH WANTED

This brings us back to the Lakers. Due to their incredible history the Lakers will never become Los Angeles’s “other” team, but they do risk losing part of the casual fan base or emerging fans to the STAPLES Center rivals. The Clippers are a talented bunch who should contend for the foreseeable future, while the Lakers are likely to struggle again next season. For these reasons it’s essential the Lakers make the right choice in who they hire as their next head coach. Both Ollie and Calipari, if they are the top choices, are interesting options. The big question is whether or not Ollie and Calipari are the right choices to help attract potential free agents and maximize success out of the roster.
Whoever the next head coach of the Lakers is, he’ll have a big job on his hands.Chris M

Should the Lakers Pursue Kevin Ollie?

UCONN Kevin Ollie

Kevin Ollie

Writing in the New York Times columnist Eric Pincus wrote a compelling piece on whether the Lakers could target University of Connecticut Head Coach Kevin Ollie as a potential replacement for Mike D’Antoni. With the Lakers mired at the bottom of the Western Conference and at least another year of rebuilding ahead of them, should the Lakers make a move for Ollie?

Mike D’Antoni is a lame duck coach. Even if he does coach the Lakers next season it’s hard to imagine D’Antoni keeping his job beyond next season. The Lakers have battled injuries all season, but have also shown the negative characteristics of previous D’Antoni coached teams, mainly the inability to play defense. With a high draft pick in the coming draft the Lakers may choose to move on a candidate like Ollie to inject some life into the franchise and maximize the Lakers upcoming draft pick. The former Connecticut star and now head coach is from Los Angeles, playing his high school basketball at Crenshaw High School. In just two seasons in Connecticut he’s capably replaced a legend in Jim Calhoun and has the Huskies playing for yet another National Title on Monday night versus the Kentucky Wildcats.

Kevin Ollie UCONN

Kevin Ollie (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

Ollie is compelling not because of his coaching resume, which is impressive albeit with limited head coaching experience. What makes Ollie compelling is his reputation around the league, especially from current Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant. As Pincus pointed, out Ollie received major accolades from Durant during a recent interview with Bill Simmons. Durant called Ollie at “game-changer” for his impact on the culture of Oklahoma City during their evolution as a contender in the west. It’s a big stretch to think that the presence of Ollie would draw Durant to Los Angeles, but is indicative of Ollie’s reputation around the league. Durant pointed to the mind-set and professionalism that Ollie brought to the Thunder organization each day.

Would Ollie take the job? Considering his instant success at Connecticut it’s questionable why he would leave the college ranks, but a factor that may impact a decision by Ollie to leave could be Connecticut’s conference situation. The Huskies ended up lost in the shuffle of the conference realignments over the past two seasons and now find themselves in the American Athletic Conference, a far cry from the former Big East they were a member of for over two decades. The American Athletic is far less prestigious than the old Big East and the ACC and could impact Ollie’s decision to stay at Connecticut.

UCONN Kevin Ollie

Coach Ollie

If the Lakers were to attract Ollie it doesn’t guarantee they make a run for Durant but it would satisfy the fan base and potentially usher the Lakers into a new era. A solid draft pick in the offseason and the acquisition of Kevin Love after next season can do wonders for the Lakers near term outlook. How a franchise is perceived nationally can have a major impact on potential free agents, for an example look at the LA Clippers and their decision to replace Vinny Del Negro with Doc Rivers. The presence of Rivers immediately upped the prestige of the Clippers organization and made them a desirable target for a player like Danny Granger when he was amnestied this spring. Ollie can have a similar impact as Rivers with the Lakers. Chris M.

Can The Warriors Go Past Round Two?

Golden State Warriors

WARRIORS

The Golden State Warriors have managed to keep their competiveness level at high levels almost throughout the season. Whilst the team faced a bunch of injuries and small periods of slump, they have now solidified their playoff spot and they are, in fact, one of the strongest championship black horses in the Western Conference. The Dubs will most probably meet the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs and this will be a very tough matchup for them. Can they roll past the Clips and advance to the second round?

The two teams have split the season series to two apiece this year. Although the Warriors are one of the teams with the scariest shooting abilities from three-point range they are also a team that has experienced ups and downs this season. When Golden State focuses on cutting down on its turnovers and playing tight defense, they can really be a tough team to beat. Especially when the sharpshooting duo of Klay Thompson and Steph Curry sink their shots from beyond the arc, the Dubs can be unstoppable.

Warriors Vs Clippers Tickets

WARRIORS & CLIPPERS

Nonetheless, the competition level is extreme as of now in the West. The Warriors are a very good team but they will face an even better one in the first round. If the LA Clippers are their matchup, the Warriors will stand some good chances to make it to the second round. Of course, if Golden State manages to steal the fifth seed from the Portland Trail Blazers and meet the Houston Rockets in the first round, things could be even better for them. Portland currently stands two games ahead of Golden State and have not been at their best shape as of lately. Although the Warriors lost two out of their three meetings with the Houston Rockets, they seem capable of matching with Houston’s strong points.

It will all come down to the Warriors’ pace and the conditions of key players most probably, like Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut. As long as the Splash Brothers stay hot on the one end of the floor and as long as the Dubs have Iggy and Bogut shutting down the lanes on the defensive end, they can stay optimistic that they can advance to the next round. It will be a surprise to see the Warriors topping the Clips and even the Rockets in the first round. However, this won’t be the first time we saw surprises happening in the NBA.

Oracle Arena Warriors Tickets Playoff Tickets

Oracle Arena

With just four home games left at the Oracle Arena the Warriors have a potential chance to win all four since three are against non playoff teams and only one the Timberwolves should give them some struggles. Golden State sites in the sixth spot of the Western Conference only two points behind the Blazers but 5 1/2 points behind the Rockets who lost yesterday to the Clippers which would give them home court advantage in the first round, one that the Warriors could definitely use. Although Warriors playoff tickets are on sale now starting at just $125 a ticket the dates and venue of their first round games have not been announced yet. All Warriors playoff tickets for games that are not played come with a 100% refund. Buying Warriors playoff tickets early locks your price in so if ticket prices raise your still set to go. Chris