Tag Archives: playoffs

2016 NBA Finals: G7 – Cavaliers beats the Warriors, 93-89, for their 1st NBA Championship!

You heard it — LeBron James and the Cavs delivers the first ever NBA Championship to Cleveland! Well, it was ‘close to a remarkable comeback’ considering that the Cavaliers were down 1-3 entering Game 5. Oh, and why just ‘close’?

Hmm… While injuries is part of the game as what happened to Bogut, a significant member of the Warriors’ starting lineup; and Iguodala, the Warriors’ elite perimeter defender — suspension is a different thing. Yes, we’re talking about Green’s Game 5 suspension.

Think the Cavs could have crawled back if Green wasn’t suspended?

Kyrie Irving: The Cavs steadying hand
Kyrie Irving: The Cavs steadying hand

While rules on technicalities were upheld to justify Green’s suspension — why didn’t the NBA suspend Stephen Curry for throwing his mouthguard to a fan anyway? See? So, this is like the league was just conniving to help the Cavs get back to its feet. Makes sense? And once the Cavs tied the series, the NBA didn’t really need to remove Curry from Game 7 anymore.

Remember the NBA objective — Blockbuster Finale! And so it goes..

Injuries: Not an excuse for losing
Injuries: Not an excuse for losing

Then again, injuries are different. Those are accidents. And we can’t really do anything about it. Affected teams can not really complain or make an excuse out of it. Otherwise, stop the game and let them heal first! Make sense? No. So, cut out the injury excuse unless t’was done ‘intentionally’ by the opposing team.

Bogut. Iguodala. Not an excuse. Same as last year. Love. Irving. They shouldn’t be an excuse.

Green's Game 5 suspension was the turning point of the Finals
Draymond Green’s Game 5 suspension was the turning point

Suspension is. That’s a telling blow! Like, it’s unexpected since, at least for some players, it’s hard to control emotions at the heat of the moment. Though still, in the end, it boils down to the team’s performance — particularly the stars.

While James played his usual self, Kyrie Irving had been a steadying support for the Cavs. Something we can’t say about the Warriors’ Splash Brothers. In this final game, Steph was 4-14 from deep while Klay was 2-10. Wow! And to say that they’re even known for 3s!

The 'Choke' Brothers?
The ‘Choke’ Brothers?

Now, they’ll be known as the ‘Choke Brothers’. Hey, in their 2 trips to the Finals — they’ve never been consistent! Last year, it was even Iguodala who’s MVP! And this year?! Should be Green regardless of his suspension, after all, he’s been the Warriors’ fortress!

So, enough of the talk that they’re among history’s best teams. Nope. They won’t beat the 1996 Bulls. Nor the ‘Showtime’ Lakers! The Splash, err ‘Choke Brothers’ are just not made for the Finals.

Goodbye, ‘small ball’? Hmm…

2016 NBA Finals: G6 – Warriors 101, Cavaliers 115

So, it’s all tied up at 3-3! What happened? Any claims, accusations or excuses? This is already a critical stage for either team not to play its best unless we do smell somethin’ fishy. Okay, it’s kinda ‘rigged’ to extend the series for a blockbuster finale. Then again..

Though there were some questionable calls particularly on Stephen Curry, fact is, Steve Kerr just executed the wrong strategy and were caught flat-footed. Just look at their starting lineup?!

Yep, t'was actually 'all ball' by Curry -- why a foul?
Yep, t’was actually ‘all ball’ by Curry — why a foul?

It’s Iguodala in there and Green as the Warriors’ center. It’s like all of those who normally rotates on LeBron James are placed in at the same time — making the team too small and the front line, real tired. Yeah, they do play ‘small ball’ but then they should not do so from the start as it’d only use so much energy from Green, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala.

Why didn’t Kerr use Ezeli instead as the starting center? Use him as how he uses Bogut. Ezeli could play defense, he could rebound, and he knows the system so he should be able to pass well, too.

Small ball per se should especially be used in the second half — when it’s time to go for the kill — not the first half when things aren’t that settled yet. Yes, the Cavs got to a quick start but that’s because of the Warriors’ starting lineup — their ‘death squad’ hasn’t warmed up yet. See? It has even put too much pressure on their forwards that nobody hit their stride. Green, Barnes, Iguodala.. nobody did well.

Well, it’s all water under the bridge now.

Game 5, Green wasn’t there for Golden State and Bogut got injured. Game 6, wrong strategy by Kerr as it affected everybody especially their forwards’ effectiveness. Game 7… Momentum would be with the Cavaliers but since it’s the Warriors’ home court, Golden State would still be favored — however, just slightly.

James and Green
LeBron James and Draymond Green

Interesting here is what would James do if the Cavs fail, again..

2016 NBA Finals: G5 – The Field Day

With Draymond Green out and Andrew Bogut suffering a knee injury in Game 5, it was just too much to ask of the Warriors. Yes, though Golden State did keep in step with Cleveland in the first half — without Green, the Warriors’ spacing has clearly gone missing, too. Add to it the in-game injury to Andrew Bogut, suddenly, the Cavaliers had a field day in Oakland — CLE 112, GSW 97.

That’s really all there is.

Cavs field day (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Cavs field day (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Everything was actually pretty even including the assists, rebounding and even turnovers. However, the field goals and of course, the 3s — these were where the Warriors got slayed. CLE 44-83. GSW 32-88. While on threes.. CLE 10-24, GSW 14-42. Free throws? Not much difference really.

But just look at the huge disparity in the 2 areas mentioned! Okay, the Warriors had more 3-point conversions but hey, look how many attempts they took anyway?! In short, the champs just shot poorly in the second half; and this allowed the Cavs to extend the series.

You say deee-fense?? Again, it’s really about ‘spacing’.

Steph Curry (Photo: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
Steph Curry (Photo: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Game 6 would be back in Ohio. What can we expect? A battle of nerves. That is, whoever could handle the pressure would win. In this case, it’s basically Draymond Green against the Quicken Loans Arena crowd. Would he be up to it? Ask the Splash Brothers.

If it’d rain threes, confetti should follow.

2016 NBA Finals: G4 – Warriors 108, Cavaliers 97

After 3 blow out games, as expected Game 4 was gonna be a tight battle. And not until midway through the final canto that the Warriors gained firm control, leading 93-84; before finishing Cleveland at 108-97. Yeah, it wasn’t really another blow out but who expects it to be this time around?

And so, the Warriors are now up 3-1 in this year’s Finals. Thanks to the big games, this time, of Klay Thompson and reigning MVP Steph Curry. Yeah, better emphasize ‘reigning MVP’ ’cause what’s the use if you can’t show ’em what made you MVP anyways?

Splash Brothers: On to the clincher in Oakland?
Splash Brothers: On to the clincher in Oakland?

Aside from the Splash Brothers, other crucial stats in this telling win by the Warriors were — the assists (23-15) and the rebounding. Yes, rebounding. This time around, it was tight at 43-40 in favor of the Warriors. Also, the free throw conversions was so poor for the Cavs, missing 11 of their 26 attempts. Hmm… And don’t ask about the 3s! Smith and the rest were just awful! Well, told yah, Smith is more of a flash-in-the-pan especially when facing stronger Western teams.

With this.. It’s just about coronation come Game 5 at the Oracle. Of course, closing would be tough and the Cavaliers could still pull off a win if the Warriors don’t watch out. Thus, it would now boil down to maintaining that intensity, yep, or even increasing it — then all those confetti and streamers will come falling down for Golden State.

2016 NBA Finals MVP: Draymond Green earned our nod this time around
2016 NBA Finals MVP: Draymond Green earned our nod this time around

The question now — who’d be Finals MVP? Livingston? Barnes? Iguodala? We believe Draymond Green earned it this time. While he may not have consistently scored in double-figures — his intensity, his mere presence gave ‘that lift’ to Golden State — most every time.

2016 NBA Finals: G3 – Warriors 90, Cavaliers 120

Well, Game 3 started with Cleveland stepping on the gas pedal as expected; after all, they were in a 0-2 hole and even in their home floor. And so, at the end of the first quarter, the Cavs led 33-16 (and after the end of every quarter en route to a 120-90 victory) — as Kyrie Irving was clicking while Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were still quiet.

Does Curry's brilliance stop when the Finals begin?
Does Curry’s brilliance stop when the Finals begin?

Hmm… but notice somethin’? Just like last year’s Finals, Curry has not really been consistent in the championship round. Okay, it’s the home floor of the Cavaliers, so what? You’re the MVP after all, thus, of all players it’s you who should be able to adjust the most. Take the lead and your ‘record-setting’ team would follow. Makes sense?

Anyway, Cleveland did a good job in coming strong off the gates. The insertion of Jefferson instead of Frye worked (mainly because Smith was hitting) as the team didn’t have to sacrifice speed. In all, it seems that Kevin Love is the jinx to the Cavaliers team when it comes to the Finals. Poor Kevin, Cleveland actually plays better without him as LeBron tends to be more aggressive!

Irving and Smith (Photo: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)
Irving and Smith (Photo: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

Then again, the huge disparity in the rebounding department (52-32) was what really helped Cleveland as it gave them more shot opportunities, and inevitably more conversions (CLE 48-91, GSW 32-76). Again, key players for the game though were Kyrie (30 points) and his early assault that set the tone for Cleveland, also Smith who hit his stride from 3s with 5-10. And of course, James with 32-11-6.

The next big question then — do we have a series now? Or would the Cavs find themselves in a deeper 1-3 hole? Well, we’ll soon find out.

2016 NBA Finals: G2 – Warriors 110, Cavaliers 77

It’s now 2-0 as Golden State routed Cleveland by 33 points. Even worse. Again, Golden State dominated Cleveland, from field goals to rebounds to assists. What, Smith didn’t shoot much? Err, Love didn’t play the second half? What else? Well, what can we really say? Oh don’t panic, it’s just the second game? Hoho! Sure that would be the sentiment over in Ohio, but..

But know what, we believe the Cavaliers would most likely win Game 3. Nah, not only because it’s their home court but because the NBA is an entertainment business. While a 4-0 demolition by the Warriors could still fill the bank, having the Cavs win a game or two would bring in more moolahs. Just like the Raptors v Cavs series. The Cavaliers could have easily swept the Raptors but still they lost 2 games to our — ‘surprise’? Hah!

It's not the East, LeBron (D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group)
It’s no longer the East, LeBron (D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group)

Oh, simply said against Western teams, this is more than just what LeBron said of him having to play better — it’s just that the East is too weak. And the only teams that could actually give the Cavaliers a real fight are with issues — the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls. See. If all 30 NBA teams were healthy and NOT divided into East and West, then the highest this Cavaliers’ team could go would probably be number 5..

After Golden State. San Antonio. Oklahoma and Los Angeles. And. And that is if New Orleans, Houston and Dallas hasn’t gotten used to either playing with a ‘complete and healthy’ line-up, or the Rockets’ James Harden still hasn’t learned to play WITH a team.

Pelicans' Davis and Rockets' Harden
Pelicans’ Davis and Rockets’ Harden

My, what are we talking about here — the 2016 NBA Finals? Of course. And the would have been cast, too. ‘Cause after 2 games and.. And a ‘complete and healthy’ line-up, how come the Cavaliers are still groping?? Again what, Kevin Love’s concussion? My, he’s just the third wheel in the ‘Big 3’ and the most expendable — the Cavs could have used Frye?! Or maybe we should just wait for Love to heal before continuing with the Finals, anyway, nothing follows. Ah yes, Rio. Hah!

Well this only confirms that their line-up, that having their supposed ‘Big 3’ doesn’t really have anything to do with last year’s results. It’s a matter of system, of utilizing the bench. And oh, before we forget — again, it’s just been 2 games.

Anything could still happen. Right. But. Nothing much the Cavs could do at this point except get real physical and scare GSW away..

Draymond Green: This year's Finals MVP? (Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP)
Draymond Green: This year’s Finals MVP? (Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP)

As there’s not much really to analyze for in this kind of dominance that the Warriors have shown, the Xs and Os are really all about the team’s system. Yep, more than their supposed line-ups. Nothing against Jerry West but if he is defending LeBron, that is because he’s got an even worse Finals’ record at 1-8. Right?

So, a 1-2 series standing after Game 3? Or perhaps it’s Draymond Green’s turn to claim the NBA Finals MVP. Anything goes.

2016 NBA PlayOffs: Thunderous Collapse, Golden Comeback

So, 3 straight losses for OKC?! And a monumental comeback by Golden State!! It’s a rematch between the Warriors and the Cavs for the Larry O’Brien trophy. What gives?!

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 

OKCs deadly duo no more?
OKCs deadly duo no more?

After already having a foot on the Warriors’ neck and so, almost a sure intact line-up for next season — yep, notwithstanding free agency — the Thunder now find themselves even questioning the real value of a Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook partnership.

Hey after all these years, they’re all finally healthy but still.. Is it just about time to break them up and find a ‘better’ fit?

Can’t be. They’re one of the best one-two punches in the league, why break them up? There just has to be some serious talk between KD, Russell and Billy Donovan.

OKCs downfall could be a coaching failure
OKCs downfall could be a coaching failure

One. KD and Russell should learn to recognize and pass to ‘hot’ teammates especially when they are struggling. Two. Well, this is ‘water under the bridge’ but don’t you think that Billy Donovan should have used Anthony Morrow especially in this series? Hmm…

As it is, OKCs loss could be more of a coaching failure for KD and Russell could only think of passing to their ‘bigs’ — since they don’t really have a legitimate 3-point threat, other than KD himself!

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

Bravo! The Warriors just showed us what the heart of a Champion is really all about. And completing this season’s run with back-to-back titles would only cement them as one of the best teams in history.

Now the question is ‘can they really do it’?

Warriors: Do they still have enough left in the tank?
Warriors: Do they still have enough left in the tank?

Okay, they came back from the grave against OKC but do they still have enough against the Cavaliers? After all, Stephen Curry even struggled against Dellavedova in last year’s Finals — what more now with a complete and healthy line-up for the Cavs?!

Any serious struggle for Curry could spell doom for the Warriors.

2016 NBA PlayOffs: An Era Cut Short?

First, let’s go to the East Finals. Cleveland. Toronto. The Cavaliers are now on the brink of making it to the NBA Finals after smothering the Raptors by 38. Well, just as we guessed — those losses by Cleveland were simply to spice up our interest. But, unless one is naive then he certainly wouldn’t fall for it.

Look at the Raptors’ ‘star’ back court again?! Wow, another sorry performance! Can’t blame the bench if the stars themselves are ‘incapable’, you know.

The Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors: Just too much isolation

Anyway, let’s now move to the more interesting West Finals. OKC. Golden State. The Warriors may have staved off elimination today but could they really slow down the rampaging Thunder? Hmm… When OKC eliminated San Antonio, we already felt that it wouldn’t even be a surprise if they became this year’s NBA Champion. They’ve matured a lot.

After initially making it to the Finals back in 2012, they solidified their status as a ‘dangerous’ contender, year-in year-out. But as we know, not only did they lose James Harden but they were also beset by numerous injuries.. And so, here we are today.

OKC fab four (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKCs fab four of 2012 (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE)

On the other hand, we’ve seen the rise of Golden State to the elite team that they are now.. But are we also just about to see the ‘end of a dynasty’ when they barely just begun?

This is really why the 1996 Chicago Bulls are still the best team in NBA history even if the Warriors eclipsed their 72-win record. The Bulls made it with all those ‘hard fouls’ and basically blew out their opponents while the Warriors, well..

Is 'small ball' coming to an end?
Is ‘small ball’ coming to an end?

Small ball may have been good while it lasted. In the end, you need consistency especially if you can’t control the boards, and if you can’t really protect the rim every night — would you just hope for a poor shooting performance by your opponent?

Now, doubts continue as this could already be ‘an era cut short’..

2016 NBA Weekly: The Game’s Greatest Mystery — Rigging!?

We’re currently in the midst of the 2016 Conference Finals and while checking on Game 3 of the East Finals between Cleveland and Toronto, we noticed DeMar DeRozan again shooting decently (G3, 12-24) in this series. Well, the Cavs were ahead 2-0.. But now, it’s 2-1 after a 99-84 victory by Toronto? Hey, the Cleveland Cavaliers could easily sweep the Toronto Raptors — what happened?!

See, the guy really can’t score in the PlayOffs but DeRozan’s been shooting well against a LeBron James-led Cavs team?? Makes us wonder. Is Miami’s Luol Deng quicker than LeBron? Is Indiana’s Paul George stronger than LeBron? No?? So, how come DeRozan had a hard time against those two but has been coasting against the Cavs?

This brought us to what many have been thinking over the years.

Is the NBA rigged? Or skewed — like, favoring anything especially stars for the league to make more money? You know.

DeMar DeRozan or anyone can’t just say he saved his best for last — it’s been ‘survival mode’ since the first round for the Raptors! So, not playing his best then ‘but only now’ would, at least, make him shoot less. That’s one effect of an offensive player not doing his best. But it’s not so. DeRozan has been shooting heavily since the start of the PlayOffs, so there must be something going on.

Here’s our theory.

One. The NBA wants the Cavaliers to make the Finals. This is not impossible even without the help of the league as the Eastern Conference is just too weak. The Cavs have been cruising not because of them maximizing Kevin Love — but because the conference is really just too weak. Simple.

The NBA is just trying to hype up the Eastern side of things by boosting the Cavs rep instead of its weak competition. Viewership!

Two. The NBA wants the Cavs to make the Finals — FRESH. T’is one reason why it’s the Raptors instead of the Heat who are in the East Finals. If they play the Raptors, they really won’t have to work hard and risk injury. Meanwhile, the Heat are still tougher even with all those injuries but inconsistency contributed to their loss as well.

Three. That’s just the Eastern side, how about the West? Sure you must not have forgotten the missed calls in the San Antonio Spurs v OKC series. Game 2 and 5. Could it be because the league doesn’t want the Spurs to meet the Warriors in the West Finals? You know, ratings. The Thunder having a ‘dancing’ Westbrook is more fun to watch than a ‘sober’ Kawhi Leonard.

An attacking Westbrook against Curry’s long bombs. That’s fun!

Four. Back to the ECF. Okay, the reason DeRozan has been playing better against the Cavaliers compared to the Pacers and the Heat is because the Cavs are taking him lightly. They are not really trying to lock him up, otherwise, Tyronn Lue would have switched LeBron James against DeRozan instead of J.R. Smith, who’s smaller and not known for defense.

DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan

Well, this is because Cleveland knows even if they just let DeRozan score — they’d still make the Finals. Yet, they also got to lose even one game to bring up some excitement in a ‘dull’ series — while helping DeRozan up his rep. Yeah, all for money!

See? T’is just business, but we still love it. Hmm…

2016 NBA West Finals G1: OKC surprises GSW??

Being the champs, having the MVP and a spectacular record-breaking season — a loss by the Golden State Warriors to ‘any team’ not named the San Antonio Spurs would immediately be called a ‘surprise’. Yeah, San Antonio is already out of it, but there’s still no denying that they’re the ones that could have sent the Warriors fishing if they battled in a series.

Still, there’s a team other than the Spurs that could beat them — and it’s no other than the Oklahoma City Thunder. Hey, they defeated the Spurs after all! So, this could be OKCs year as although Golden State is favored, they’re actually playing a team with similar styles — of course, with different strengths as their focus.

OKC 108, GSW 102 OKC Leads 1-0 

Thunders' time to be Champs (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC: It’s their time (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

The stats are pretty equal actually; even as the Warriors didn’t really shoot well from 3s. So, the key? Rebounding and free throws. The Thunder had more rebounds, 52-44; and more free throws, converting 22-32 compared to 11-17 for GSW. The Warriors led pretty much of the game until OKC caught up. Thanks to an aggressive Russell Westbrook.

While the Spurs got beaten by OKC big men Adams and Kanter, this series would be defined as the battle between the attacking game of Westbrook versus Stephen Curry’s long bombs.

Who’ll end in the Finals would depend on who adjusts better.

EAST FINALS: Cleveland Cavaliers v Toronto Raptors

Either way, the Cavs would have still been favored to make the NBA Finals. Heat or Raptors. For the Miami Heat, they were just pretty inconsistent in the series. Although Wade has been carrying the team, there are games when he just wasn’t that aggressive plus add the poor shooting of Joe Johnson — and what do you have? A loss. And don’t forget the absence of Chris Bosh! Otherwise, this series wouldn’t have even reached a Game 7!

Cav v Raptors: Are we just going through the motions?
Cavs v Raptors: Are we just going through the motions?

So, Toronto was just plain lucky. While many have now proclaimed that DeMar DeRozan has gotten out of his ‘funk’, well, it’s not really a funk that he’s into. He really has a hard time scoring in the PlayOffs — zeroing-in defenders are just bigger and more aggressive — it’s just that he only had a good Game 6. That’s it. In Game 7, t’was Lowry shooting 11-20 from the field and 5-7 from 3s for an efficient 35 points. DeRozan, 28 points on 12-29 field goals, oh, that’s just too many shots! And less than 1 point per attempt! Hah! So in all, 2 good games for Lowry, 1 for DeRozan.

Now this would be the ‘real’ surprise — if the Raptors beat the Cavs.

As for the Oklahoma City Thunder.. It wouldn’t even surprise us if they make the NBA Finals and win! It’s probably their time now..