NBA Finals Game 6 Preview – Toronto Raptors Vs. Golden State Warriors

 

Win or go home for the Warriors and they got what they wanted, hook or by crook, and at the expense of a top-three player in the NBA, their superstar, Kevin Durant. Game five was everything and more, it was what it was billed to be, a close contest that went back and forth and, in the end, guess who made their shots? The Champions. The Warriors held it together without Durant and proved their resiliency at least for one more game, one more shot to send this to a game seven in Toronto. The sports bettors wanted this, the bookies wanted it more. Vegas wanted and needed this. Make no mistake, the Warriors are the same team that swept Portland without their superstar but when he did make his appearance and his first shot was from downtown, he gave the spark that was needed to win game five. This team will be ready for game six tonight. The Line sits GS -2.5/ OU 211. This one is going to be fun, it will be another close one but maybe not as close as some would think.

 

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The Raptors can’t close the deal! They had their chance and they blew it. They allowed the Warriors and the “splash brothers” a 9-2 run in the last 2-minutes, they had the ball with 15 seconds to go and down one, they couldn’t step on the Warriors neck and that will most-likely prove fatal.

 

Game one in Toronto was exciting, it was historic, it was a lot of fun even for those who have absolutely no interest in the Raptors. It was absolutely a thrill to see the Raptors play in their first NBA Championship and open at home to an amazing fan base. That was game one, this is game six and game seven, (if it goes) will be much different than game one. All the glory, all the hype, all of the focus on a 24-year franchise that had never been… that’s long over. Forget all of the noise. This is the Golden State Warriors that are going for a threepeat and they will be hard to beat, with or without Kevin Durant.

 

What’s worse for the Raptors, the Warriors have added motivation. After Durant coming into game five, and giving his squad the lift that he did, this group will be motivated tonight.

 

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This is not about loving one team or hating another. What we must focus on is the value in the bet. Where lies the value? What about the over at 211, does that seem like value? In Oakland, it seems like somewhat of a valuable number. Remember, the Warriors averaged just over 117 points in the regular season while Toronto averaged over 106, however the total has been inconsistent and getting a good read on the total will be difficult without Durant in the lineup. One thing we know, Toronto is not Portland, this Raptors team can play some serious defense. It kills us to take Golden State under any total, so we will lay off the total… while saying “the game most likely goes over”.

 

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There is simply no need to break down performances, to look at individual play and to speak of what Lowry, or Kawhi, or Steph has done. All of these guys are fantastic, and they bring it nightly and when one doesn’t have big numbers, the other one will. Both teams have a squad full of consummate professionals that can beat each other on any given night.

 

Where we look for value is in experience and for at least one game; the home of the champions. This is in the Champions house, are they going to allow the Raptors a win in their own house, in an elimination game, as well as in the last Warriors game to ever be played in Oakland, at Oracle? Not a chance!

 

Prediction: Golden State wins this game, -2 ½ and Over 211, we’re playing the parlay card. (we changed our minds).

Does the NBA need a change

The current game in the NBA has changed so much today. There are virtually no down low scoring options,  opposed to back 30 years ago, when there were guys like Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Patrick Ewing, who were all steadily putting up 20 or more a game. Shots for bigmen has also declined, as they are not looked to as inside/out game – opposed to the older big fells looked to as the inside option as 1 – getting their shots in the 80s and 90s.
Is it due to better players – or is the whole system is broken?
29 year old SG, Steph Curry has ruined today’s generation with the 3 point shot. The deep ball was an added weapon – something that no one relied on, it has now become the true essence of a teams offense to run through. I understand that basketball has evolved, as any sport always does. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t changed for the better though. And don’t get me wrong, I like Curry as a player. I think he is talented and an amazing shooter, but over the last 5 years in particular, there has been a huge difference in how kids learn the game these days. No one knows how to move without the ball anymore, they stand around the perimeter and wait for the ball to swing to them to get their chance at a 3.
The younger generation growing up all want to be Curry. College basketball is becoming that as well. Golden State started a great downfall in the NBA. With players pulling up for a 3 on a 2 on 1 break, changes everything we learned in fundamental hoops. When it works, it is great. When it doesn’t, bricks are flying – and it’s like watching a sloppy gym class game. 30 years ago, players like Larry Bird, and Darrell Griffith were lethal as their teams deep ball masters, they would end up the season with 90-100 treys – and they were likely in the top 3 in the NBA at the end of the season. Fast forward to 2017 – there were 104 players with 100 or more 3FG made on the season. Think about that for a brief moment. Does this men they were better players back then – or just the amount of opportunity? We know the answer.
The lack of ball movement down low and set play fundamentals has been diminished. The players of today are bigger and more athletic than the players from 20-30 years ago – yes, but a skilled overall game is vastly lacking. The basics and fundamentals are focused on far less by today’s generation of players. The game has evolved to just about shooting 3’s everywhere on the court. It has become unbalanced with the core emphasis on firing off 3’s.
With almost half the leagues teams putting up an average of 30 or more/threes a game, it is making the game repetitive and blah to watch at times. Something should be done to change it. Bring back a bigman who can dominate the game from down low. Watching a player stick a 28 footer is awesome – don’t get me wrong, as a lifelong fan of Larry Bird – I have loved the deep game. But when players take 60% of their shots out behind the arc, it lessons the impact to me. Somehow, someway. Players are just driving to the hoop, and dishing out to someone spotting up, we all see it every game, it is so predictable.
Maybe push the 3pt shot back even 4-5 feet – modify it. It doesn’t mean players like James Harden, and Steph Curry wont still drill their shots. But, when they start shooting 2-10 from there and not 5-10 every game, the game plan will be more than just dribble off the pick and chuck it from the arc. If they’re not going allow guys to play hands on defense in this soft basketball era – they need to move the 3pt line back. The game has far too much isolation ball and it has gotten to the point of being boring, at times. The NBA has gotten very soft, where pretty much everything seems to be a foul –  I think the evolution of the 3ball is also a symptom of that.
Where’s the inside game, the up and under? Where’s the 12ft jumper?  Bring it back to when, power forwards and centers were actually part of the offense, and not just surviving on offensive rebounds. It was a nice novelty when a team had a “shooting big man” like Dirk Nowitzki, who could drift out and create a matchup problem for a team – but now it is every team, every game. I think that is why players struggle to make a mid range jumper anymore.
The 3 is used far too much, of course we expect some 3 pointers put up, but because of the constant 28 footers – the tough physicality of the game is being abandoned. I love physical basketball, players who can shoot, but not guys who are terrified of getting into the paint, and do mans work. No teams play hard nosed basketball anymore. No tough in your face ball down low.
I hope the game will adjust, it went from dump down post plays to more of the pick and roll, to the now drive and kick with 3 point shot. Teams will make the adjustments on their defenses planned all around stopping the 3 pointer, and I hope down the road all the players who are living from the three point line, start to deal with a better defending of the arc and a massive defensive void in the lane will begin. A player comes up and destroys the league with a ridiculous mid range/post up game. Which will turn the league back into a battle in the paint.

How the PG position has evolved in the NBA

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The role of the point guard in the NBA has changed over the years. It used to be all about ball ?distribution. Point guards were doing one thing better than everyone else – distributing the rock. They used to be a moderate scorer, top ball handler, and your main assist guy. They were the player who made the team work, the true leader of the team on the court. The evolution of the point guard in the NBA has gone into a direction I never saw coming.

The scoring point guard.

Like, as in, scoring 25, 30, 40 points…scoring point guard. These kind of numbers are at a different level.

Growing up, I, like many others in my era, watched the greatest point guard ever, Magic Johnson, orchestrate the game on the court like no other. This was a player who, at 6-9, and even though shot over 50% from the field in his career, only finished as a top 10 scorer in one solitary season ’86-87. Magic probably cold have put up a lot more points in his career, but he chose to run the offense instead of dropping 25-30 every night.

In this day’s NBA, the pass first point guards are very hard to come by. There are numerous reasons behind this, in my opinion. When the NBA stopped hand-checking, it made it a whole lot easier for perimeter players to get their shot off. Which typically opens the game up for smaller guys, aka the point guard. So the smaller PGs in the NBA have more space to look for their own shot more frequently. The lack of post playing bigs, and the stretch big evolution has tremendously opened the game up for the PG. Now when a PG gets himself into the lane, there’s oftentimes no one there to solidly protect the rim vs them.

It seems to be on the surface, that the PG position has evolved because there were a bunch of shooting guards who wanted the ball more, so they learned how to handle the ball better, and called themselves “point guards.” Perfect example, and I am not a huge fan, is Russell Westbrook. He is easily the most athletic PG I have seen play the game. He can score, pass the ball, when he decides to, and an outstanding rebounder. There comes a time to accept the changes, and see what talent this NBA has today. But his game and style in which he plays is everything I never considered when I think of a PG.

We have seen the PG position change with players like, Steph Curry, who is seriously making a legit push to be the best shooter in the history of the NBA. 25 year old John Wall is in incredibly rare and genuine elite passer, who at the time of this article, if he has the expected 15 year career, he will probably end up in the top 7-8 category in this stat, which means he would surpass Gary Payton and Isaiah Thomas. And he also a very talented defender, and one of my personal favorites. And, then we have Chris Paul, who is arguably the best overall point guard in the game. This is the most competitive era in NBA history for the point.

The game has always evolved, and will just continue to do so. In this game today, the point guards are needed to carry more of the scoring load. The game is designed for shooters. And I go back to the point of declining of dominant post play by the old school bigs. And let’s also keep in mind, the play making SGs as well as the 3. The NBA is always moving into a direction to accommodate the players coming in. Yes, it used to be more physical, it used to be dominated by guys down low, bumping shoulders and backing in down low. But today, the game is played outside the paint, its controlled by the 15 foot shot and obviously the three point shot, which is more of a game changer than ever these days. Think about his fun fact, in 1990, the top three point shooter, Vernon Maxwell, had 172 made treys, on 510 attempts, hitting only 34%. In 2015, Stephen Curry shot 646 treys, knocking down 286 at an incredible 44% shooting pct. It’s a head shaking era.

The NBA is much more 3 point driven now, so everyone at every position shoots the deep ball. It’s not a commodity anymore, its part of the game, the game plan goes off of the three point shot. The league is geared towards athletic shooting PG’s and the wing player. We can look at the top 10 players in the NBA, and the majority are all in the 1-3 positions now. The PG position is becoming the position to be in, in basketball today. Your job isn’t just to get the ball to the best shooter, or the big down low. You have skills that allow you to do that, as well as, drop 25 in a quick second.

Let’s just enjoy what the game has become, today. We can have a serious, conversation between players like Steph, Paul, Kyrie Irving, Westbrook, Damian Lillard, John Wall, all of whom are great PG’s in the NBA today. It comes down to what everyone expects as what they want from their PG for their team. It is all a matter of preference. Give me anytime in the NBA, when we have witnessed at least 10 candidates competing for one specific position as the best. The PG position is overflowing with talent. We used to have 3-5 guys who were considered the best PGs in the game, we can look at a boatload of guys now, and have a serious debate as to what we can be comfortable with naming the best of the PG’s.

The game is changing, and it’s not all bad.

Mike Anthony of VegasTopDogs.com

NBA Title Contenders

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With Lebron James coming off a career night on Sunday finishing with 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assist, not to mention a quite 3 steals for the King.   Sunday’s game was another example of a Cavalier stepping up with a big performance to edge the Hawks in another close game. For some reason the books have the betting public fooled with a big favorite in Cleveland giving up 8 points at home in Tuesday’s game. Based on the Hawks being a smaller market team in comparison to the Lakers, Knicks and Nets, the public quickly shifts opinion and has a short memory when it comes to Atlanta being the number 1 seed in the East, and easily showing better chemistry throughout the season as a close second to the Golden State Warriors, this elimination matchup should have a line closer to a +3 for the Hawks. During Sunday’s game playing without Kyle Korver a 49% three point shooter for the year, and Al Horford being wrongfully ejected in the 2nd quarter the Atlanta Hawks managed to stay in the game and holding a lead with a minute left in regulation and overtime.

There is no way a better team and number 1 seeded NBA team should be getting 8 points in an elimination game. It’s clear that the Cleveland Cavaliers are simply having good fortune in continuous breaks as the opposition battles injury and controversy. I do not expect Lebron’s Cavaliers to have the same fortune in the NBA Finals against a very deep and balanced Golden State Warriors team. On Tuesday Night look for the Hawks to easily cover and push Cleveland to a game 5 back in Atlanta on Thursday and also go hard on the Warriors to take the NBA Title.

Written by Bill Obrien of VegasTopDogs.com