NBA season recap and what to look out for

One of the most exciting leagues each year, one of the most followed and that causes the loudest noise in general, the NBA, came to a forced stop a few weeks ago. Coronavirus, or Covid-19, has caused chaos in the sports world and some of the fans that have felt it the most are the true basketball fans, who were enjoying one of the best, most competitive seasons of the NBA in recent years.

This seemed to be like a good year for LeBron James to win his 4th NBA ring, backed up by the greatness of Anthony Davis and a greatly assembled LA Lakers team. LeBron was even leading the race to NBA MVP when the season stopped. The Milwaukee Bucks are the best team in the league, according to numbers, and were showing off amazing strength and team play, lead by the “Greek Freak”, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Other teams like the Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat or Boston Celtics, in the East, or the LA Clippers, the Denver Nuggets or Houston Rockets, in the West, were giving this season the extra ingredients we were all waiting for, while we got closer and closer to the playoffs.

The NBA has announced that they intend to finish the season, hopefully coming back to action in early June, and moving the NBA Finals to August, considering a probable format change. We all certainly hope this will happen, and we will get to watch the ending of a remarkable season, at least so far. In fact, former players and media have already commented that, if the season were to be completed, we might be in for the best playoff run ever, considering that all the superstars and best teams in the league are getting a 2 month rest, allowing them to get in shape, adjust details, work on the floor and get ready to fight for the ring. This hiatus will definitely help players return in top form and allow veterans like LeBron himself, to get to the playoffs 100% healthy.

These are the individual leaders so far in the 2019-2020 NBA season

          Points per game: James Harden, 34.4 – Houston Rockets

          Rebounds per game: Andre Drummond, 15.2 – Cleveland Cavaliers

          Assists per game: LeBron James, 10.6 – LA Lakers

          Blocks per game: Hassan Whiteside, 3.1 – Portland Trail Blazers

          Steals per game: Ben Simmons, 2.1 – Philadelphia 76’ers

          Field Goal percentage: Mitchell Robinson, 74.2 – New York Knicks

          Three Pointers made: James Harden, 271 – Houston Rockets

          Three Point percentage: George Hill, 48.0 – Milwaukee Bucks

These are the team leaders so far in the 2019-2020 NBA season

          Points per game: Milwaukee Bucks, 118.6

          Rebounds per game: Milwaukee Bucks, 51.7

          Assists per game: Phoenix Suns, 27.2

          Blocks per game: LA Lakers, 6.8

          Steals per game: Chicago Bulls, 10.0

          Field Goal percentage: LA Lakers, 48.5

          Three Pointers made: Dallas Mavericks, 1026

          Three Point percentage: Miami Heat, 38.3

          Free Throw percentage: Phoenix Suns, 82.6

If the NBA playoffs started today, just to have an idea of how things are currently in the league, in the East we would have Bucks vs. Magic, Raptors vs. Nets, Celtics vs. 76’ers and Heat vs. Pacers. In fact, Bucks, Raptors and Celtics had already clinched their playoff spot before the season stopped. In the West, we’d enjoy of Lakers vs. Grizzlies, Clippers vs. Mavericks, Nuggets vs. Rockets and Jazz vs. Thunder. Only the Lakers, so far, had clinched a playoff spot, their first since 2013.

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Does Kyrie Irving fit in Boston

The numbers that Kyrie Irving has put up over 7 seasons in the NBA are great, Kyrie is obviously a great basketball talent, there is no question about that. But can Irving allow Brad Stevens to coach his game – instead of trying to be the main course? Given what Boston did last year in the playoffs – they have some experience, having a healthy Gordon Hayward and a superstar now, they should be much better. I just don’t feel like Kyrie loves the system. The successful system that got the Boston Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
Without him.
From how well the Celtics were playing at the end of last season and into the playoffs it just looks far different from what we have watched this season.
I don’t think he has fully bought into Brad Stevens’ system and the Celtics culture, Stevens has shown that he has a specific system and it has worked, for 6 seasons, and going 197- 116 (.629) since 2015. Getting to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, with a very average roster, which showcased talents like Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown.
Boston is set up as a team to keep games close – if Kyrie could play within the offense for the first 3 quarters – get others involved throughout, keep Tatum getting his shots, let Gordon Hayward have his looks, then he can begin his showcase for the final 6-7 minutes of the game, I feel it would be more effective. The C’s offense is free flowing where everyone has a part in their offense, for Irving though – it is all about taking over the game. He should know when and how, by now. He is great at the end of games, with accurate shooting and a wicked scoring touch, and Kyrie has a clutch gene, as he has shown with his several outbursts in his career. With his awesome performances in the 2015 finals – he was beyond dynamite when the lights were on. And the biggest issue will be in the postseason when Boston is going up against powerhouse teams, that can put up huge points and have several guys who can score 20 or 30 – they need him because he can take over and score buckets in close games.
He’s shown to be a great player, but when he stops and dribbles for 8-10 seconds it ruins the rhythm of the offense. Guys start milling around – looking at him, then back at the shot clock, waiting to see what he is going to do with the ball. Is he going to dribble until 2 seconds and shoot – or dribble, drive and kick out for a bad three point shot? Irving is then being a detriment to the functionality of Boston. It is those times, on the court, the other players seem bored and almost annoyed with him during the games. Gordon Hayward has played better when Kyrie isn’t playing. With more shots and more confidence – he shows his ability, the C’s seem to play much better, as a team, when Kyrie is not on the court. Boston shoots better, passes better, and they play team ball, the ball moves around, and gets all of the guys involved. Jaylen Brown and Al Horford also play better. It is quite possible they are better off without Kyrie Irving.
If we are being honest, though, at this time, the Boston Celtics are not winning a championship with Kyrie. The Celtics aren’t going to win it without him either. Not as long as Golden State is still running the West with their All-Star team. They bought a team that is so over the top and there is no team right now that I can see being able to handle their talent and firepower. It is extremely tough to compete for a championship in the NBA anymore without having a stacked team across the board. We live in the “players era” – where the top teams need 3-4 guys who can score close to 20/game.
The truth is, they may play better without Kyrie – but without Kyrie Irving they are not winning a title. He’s a big-time superstar and when playoff crunch time comes around – he shows up. Boston is a good team – but as we watched last year play out – when a superstar took it to the next level, they weren’t able to respond. So with that – the Celtics may as well keep Kyrie on the floor as that “just in case” player. Kyrie gives them a threat to have a punchers chance to punch back.

Cavaliers vs. Celtics – It’s a long Series!

LeBron James is LeBron James and there is very little more that can be said about his play in this year’s playoffs and his career as a whole. The man is going for his eighth consecutive NBA Finals appearance and that on its face is a remarkable accomplishment. Of course the argument can be made about the “watered down, Eastern Conference, the “lack of talent” the “mediocre play” and on and on it goes. Maybe these arguments have merit, who knows and honestly, who cares? Lebron is the best player in the NBA at this time and where he fits on the “all-time greatest” list, remains to be seen. He may not be better than Mike right now but let’s face it, he’s giving Mike a run for his money.

 

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Having said all of that… LeBron took a beat down on Sunday at the hands of the Boston Celtics and it wasn’t a gentle beating, it was a boxing match and LeBron forgot to bring his gloves! Where was he? He forgot to show up. Can LeBron make us all look stupid on Tuesday night in game two? Absolutely he can and he just might, however, he must get serious, this Celtics team is not the Celtics team of a few years ago or even last season. This team is for real and they showed their toughness against the Philadelphia 76ers.

 

The bookies are adjusting their numbers as we speak, a final score of 108-83 is not what anybody had predicted and certainly not what bookmakers from Vegas or what the offshore guys were thinking. We all knew the Celtics were good and we all know they have found their niche and its defense, but who knew that they were this good? Are they really this good, or was this a one game fluke and game two will tell a completely different story?

 

Surprisingly, the Celtics and the Cav’s only faced each other three times in the regular season and Cleveland won two of the three. The regular season is so entirely different than the postseason that it’s nearly impossible to take anything away from the meetings. What we have now is what we saw in the previous playoff matchups in rounds one and two.

 

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The Cavaliers have a great response record; when they get down, they get back up and they usually do it in a big way. However, it is safe to say that nobody expected the Celtics to pound the Cav’s by 25 points. This was an embarrassing loss and it was doubly embarrassing to LeBron James. 15 points is weak, James didn’t show up for this game and he let his team down. Don’t count on this to happen twice!

 

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Follow the numbers, follow the lines and odds. This one is interesting for sure. The more interesting number is the series itself. There are 6 possible games left and you can bet that LeBron won’t be absent again. But don’t think for one second that the Celtics are intimidated, they most certainly are not and they will be prepared for a firestorm from the Cavaliers and LeBron James.

 

Brad Stevens may be the most prepared coach in this postseason. He plays the x’s and o’s to perfection and he gets the most out of his grinders. He will be prepared but not over prepared for Lebron. Stevens is too smart to over adjust to LeBron James.

 

The Celtics most likely come away with a game two win, it will be close and could be a dogfight to the finish but it probably goes the way of the cloverleaf. This will be a big hole for LeBron to crawl out of but if there is anybody that can find a way, it will be LeBron.

Jayson Tatum is the player they needed in Boston

When Boston drafted Jayson Tatum, some Boston Celtics fans were confused – some were also upset the Celts didn’t stick in their coveted 1 spot. When Boston traded down to the 3rd spot – it was sneakily obvious they had a game plan in place. Some were thinking they would stay at the top spot and draft Markelle Fultz. But when they grabbed Tatum some questioned the choice. He lit it up as a Freshman on Duke. Tatum averaged 16.8 on a pretty stacked ACC team, as it’s a bit easier to score 23 ppg playing on a weak basketball team – like the top prospect, Markelle Fultz did.
Josh Jackson was often looked at as being the first forward to be taken off the board – but the 19 year old Tatum is far more NBA ready than Jackson. Jackson also comes with a few carts full of baggage. Which could mean he becomes a future problematic headache, which is nothing any team wants, especially from their top 3 pick. Josh Jackson has a great upside, but he brings too much drama. Jackson on the season, so far has struggled, putting up just around 12ppg shooting terribly and been very foul prone.
Jayson also seems like a great young man. He seemed genuinely excited about where he was drafted. Why not, drafted by a 53 win team, who has the absolute potential to be a championship team again in the very near future? Boston needed someone with more reach other than Horford. Tatum can also play both sides of the court, he is a perfect fit with the Celtics, and their scrappy tough style.
Tatum is a forward who can score, he can score by way of off the dribble or without the ball. He dropped almost 17/game for a reason. A frontcourt guy that can actually score is something the Celtics desperately needed last season. Even though they had a pretty strong playoff run, they were heavily based off of their PG, Isaiah Thomas and his unique scoring ability, not counting the few oddball 25+ pt games by Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. They had no forward was able to shoot off the dribble. Tatum can create his own shot from anywhere on the court, and can play good defense. As his quick hands and ability to swat shots has shown. Tatum also knows teamwork, as he had to share his points with a multitude of other All-ACC players, when playing with Duke.
If the Celtics drafted Fultz – where was he actually going to play? Boston already had a good guard rotation, with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, at the time, and even Marcus Smart. Bradley was getting them 16/night, Smart and his gritty well timed points, they were all vital cogs of their scheme. Boston was already guard heavy –  with new pickups in Hayward and Kyrie Irving, they obviously saw something in Tatum that they liked. Fultz, is just not going to be a franchise player. He led his Washington team to a whopping 9 wins. Even the thought of Lonzo Ball wasn’t great – who is another kid with way too much drama.
Some Boston fans have complained, that Danny Ainge doesn’t draft well, I call nonsense. Rondo, Bradley, Smart, and Brown have all been really solid picks, and now they can add Jayson Tatum to that list of players. There is no conceivable reason why Tatum will not end up being a steady 20ppg scorer, who should likely have a long successful career in Beantown. While playing about 31 minutes a game – Tatum has been dropping 13/night, adding decent defense, to go with some smooth shooting – I would say Jayson Tatum is working out for the C’s.

What is the definition of a sports dynasty

We as sports fans have watched a multitude of great teams come and go over many tears of watching the amazing sports that we love. Teams like the Boston Celtics, the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys and most recently, the New England Patriots. What is one thing that we could all actually be in agreeance on.  Odds are, they have been consistent historical winners, and oftentimes, the sheer mentioning of these teams brings anger and frustration to fans of other teams, and opposing fan bases get annoyed and aggravated when hearing about them.
Because they have been incredibly successful. They had a period where they were dominating their division, their conferences, and their leagues for a lengthy amount of time, and this in itself, angers others. And if we are being completely honest with ourselves, as fans, they are the teams that we wish our teams could emulate. Who wouldn’t love their underachieving, yet steady 7-9 football team to rack up 12 wins in the season every year, like the New England Patriots or have the reputation and great players, seemingly always, like Pittsburgh and be a preseason favorite to win it all, before the season even begins? We all would love that.
By definition from dictionary.com – a dynasty is regarded as a noun 1. a sequence of hereditary rulers: an Egyptian dynasty or 2. any sequence of powerful leaders of the same family: the Kennedy dynasty
But is that what you, as a sports fan consider as a dynasty?
A ruler?
Lets examine.
A teams season wins count for something. A winning team that has been putting up a large amount of wins a season for a lengthy and long period of time is a huge component for being called a dynasty. In the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers have racked up a .654 win pct over the last 3 seasons – which is far ahead of the next best teams in the Eastern conference  like hot teams like the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics. Winning is hard anyway you look at it, but winning 65% of your games for a lengthy period of time is pretty impressive. Not having the oddball eye opening season of big wins, like the New York Giants or the Portland Trail Blazers – but the 15 straight seasons of 10 wins or more like the New England  Patriots or 8 of the last 11 seasons, like the Pittsburgh Steelers  is something to be admired.
Playoff appearances have to count for a huge part of the equation, absolutely. For instance, New England has made the tournament for 9 straight seasons. The fact is, a team that has been able to utterly dominate their division and blow passed them, and get to the playoffs for so many years straight, is pretty impressive. Who wouldn’t want to feel they had a team that did that every single season? And making it to the championship of their sport is beyond comprehension for the vast majority of sports fans. It isn’t commonplace, which is sometimes misunderstood. What the Buffalo Bills did back in the 90’s was amazing, lets be completely honest about that. How many teams make the Super Bowl – let alone, 4 straight? I will tell you…. it doesn’t happen, that is why we always cherish the precious moment if our team makes it there.
Do you seriously consider the Bills a dynasty though? Or when you think of dynasties do you think of Troy Aikman and the Dallas Cowboys? You think of Dallas and I will tell you why. Not only did they win 3 Super Bowls during a 4 year timeframe, but they were one of the teams to beat for about a decade. And going back to an original statement – why do you think Dallas has so many fans that dislike the team? Because they won and they won for a long period of time.
That’s why.
Championships are the ultimate way to openly judge a dynasty. How many times have they won the top honors as the ultimate team to beat. The Yankees won 5 championships over 14 years from 1996-2009, and made it to the World Series 6 times in 8 years. The Patriots have made it to at least the conference championship at least 10 times over 15 seasons. And the Celtics hung up 11 titles from 1956 to 1968.
It’s trying for most of teams, especially those that are usually a middling organization, like the New Orleans Saints, the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers and you may question why or what happened, or the best of the hypothetical questions  the “what if…” Trust me, we all have entertained those deep thoughts in our heads….but then reality comes back around, and who  actually completed their goals and made the right draft picks and hired the right coaches.
Regardless of how you calculate the way you measure a teams success factor to be a dynasty. A team that wins and wins big consistently for a multitude of years, that’s what a dynasty is. A team that doesn’t play down to their opponents, a team that teams fear, and wins across their league – that is the true signs and key to being called a real dynasty. A team that seems to never get worse, a team that thrill their fans and infuriates fans of other teams, based on their immense amount of success, that is when your team has become a real dynasty.
In sports games we often judge a team, by their championships, or a player, often unfairly, by the 5 boxes that we look at. But a team that brings championships to teams, is the ultimate sign of success for an organization, and those are considered what makes a true dynasty.