Monday, June 2, 2014

Minnesota: We lost that lovin feeling....

  This summer in the NBA is a pretty special one.  Starting Thursday we have a rematch of last years finals With the Spurs versus the Heat. Which proved to be a great series.  This will be the first time since the 97-98 season in which we have had the same two teams return to the finals.  The last teams to do so were the Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls.  Kind of ironic, considering these two teams are fashioned similar to the Jazz and Bulls of the 90's.  Should make for another great series.

  Then in a few weeks we have the most coveted draft since Lebron James came in to the league.  A draft deep on talent with the top 3-4 players considered franchise building/cornerstone type players.  Four days following the draft, free agency begins with big names like James, Wade, Bosh, Nowitzki, Anthony all having the ability to find a new home if they so choose.

  But the biggest name being talked about is not a draft pick, not a free agent to be, but a player that is under contract next season.  A player that seemingly holds all the power in their hands due to an early out clause in his contract that could make him a free agent in the summer of 14-15, that being Kevin Love.

  Love has been been a Timberwolf  his entire career having been drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies and traded on draft day 2008 to Minnesota.  In his six years in Minnesota, the Timberwolves are yet to make the playoffs much to the dismay of Love.  So much so that there was a rumor at the beginning of last season that Love had requested to be traded.  The rumor was denied by both love and the franchise but the foundation had been laid.  Love was not happy and Minnesota need to appease him by adding quality teammates or lose him in free agency.  Minnesota chose to call Love's bluff and did not trade him before the deadline last season.

Bringing us to present day.....

  Love and his camp have officially lobbied for a trade now and are no longer denying their desire to move on.  As for Minnesota, they seem to want to believe it is all a bad dream.  They continue to hold to the fact that Love is under contract for the next season and that they fully expect him to play for the Timberwolves.  There have been hints and rumors that Minnesota is softening its stance on trading Love as they know they can not let him walk or lose him for nothing.

And that is where things get difficult.

  With Love having an early termination clause on his contract and technically only being under contract for the following season, he has all the power or control over where he gets traded.  At this point no team seems to be willing to role the dice on Love without the assurance that he will sign an extension.  The one team that might would be the Los Angles Lakers who did so with Dwight Howard who in turn left money on the table and left the lights of L.A. for greener pastures in Houston Texas.

  But this is different, as the Lakers are supposedly a preferred destination for Kevin Love.  It would be unlikely that the Lakers would need that assurance from Love, as he is a west coast guy, a southern California guy having been born in Santa Monica.   Last year Love was asked about playing for the Lakers and said that he was not sure the Lakers were a better situation than he was currently in in Minnesota.  He went as far as to say the Timberwolves were the better team.  True at the time.....

  But are we to believe that Love doesn't really want to play for the Lakers?  I believe that if he could choose and all things were equal, there is no way he turns down the Lakers.

  So what other options are there?  Cleveland did just win the #1 pick in this summers draft.  They are said to be in a "win now" situation and seem to be likely suitors for Love.  What about the Phoenix Suns?  They have multiple first round picks as well as a couple of young assets they could move.  The Suns first round picks include 14,18 and 27.  Is the combination of those picks and Gerald Green appealing?  What about the Chicago Bulls?  They have picks 16 and 19 the expiring contract of Carlos Boozer.  Maybe Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell.  Its unlikely they give up Taj Gibson....Or the Golden State Warriors.  They have no pick this year, but have young players like Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes.  Many Jazz fans have clamored to get in the Love sweepstakes and the Jazz do have both picks and assets to do so, but I find it hard to believe the Jazz could get the assurance that Love would sign and extension.

Now we have the Flavor of the Month, the Boston Celtics.

  This weekend was a hot weekend for Love and Celtics rumors.  As Love took in a Red Sox game at Fenway.  It was also reported that Rajon Rondo happen to be at the same game.  There was also the this tweet from Red Sox DH David Ortiz, #cityofchampions.  As well as the rumored communication with Celtics legend Bill Walton.  Again, do the Celtics have the pieces to make this happen?  First off, they have a relationship with Minnesota thanks to a trade years ago in which a very similar situation was transpiring with then Timber wolf Kevin Garnett.  The Celtics also have picks 6 and 17 in this years draft.  They actually have 17 first round picks stockpiled in the next 10 years!  So picks, they have the assets.  What about players?  They have a good young small forward in Jeff Green, a young power forward in Jared Sullinger, big man Kelly Olynyk and veteran Gerald Wallace.  If the Celtics look to make the deal it is unlikely that they add Rajan Rondo, who too has been rumored to be on the trading block.  So clearly the Celtics have the assets.

  This may be the best situation for Love.  He would get the big market he so desires.  Would have the opportunity to play with a great point guard in Rajon Rondo and the Celtics will likely have picks and the flexibility to add a few other pieces to their two studs.  Personally, if Love is going to go somewhere, this is one place that I would like to see him.  One, it keeps him from the Lakers and two he is on the east coast.  I would like to see a little more balance in the conferences and this would help move towards that.

  Its only a matter of time at at this point.  Love has said he wants to be traded before the season and with the teams in play its likely that a trade gets done in the next couple of weeks.  Where ever Mr.Love ends up, I hope that he is able to get back "that loving feeling" again....

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

NBA Draft Top 5 According To Need....

  The more I look at this draft and the top 7 teams picking the more questions I have about how it will all go down.  We have all heard that NBA front offices generally tier players.  Meaning they put 3-5 different players in a one tier, 3-5 others in a second tier and so on.  This gives teams player pools to draft from according to draft position.

  In this draft there is a lot of talk about the top 2 tiers of players.  The first tier consisting of Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Dante Exum.  The second tier consists of Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle.  The more I have looked at things the more I believe that these two tiers may not have as much separation as people think.  I believe with these two groups it boils down to immediate impact versus long term intentional.

  In the first tier, I believe there is one player that has an immediate impact, that being Jabari Parker.  The other three players will all get ample playing time and opportunity regardless of where they are drafted.  The second tier I believe has three players that will be immediate impacts, those players being Julius Randle, Marcus Smart and Aaron Gordon.

  Noah Vonleh, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Dante Exum have the most upside of any players in this draft and all could very likely be the best player at their position some day, but I believe you may have to wait on them for a couple of years.

  So that brings the question, potential versus impact?  Not sure there is a good way to answer that question with such a special draft.  So lets try to dumb things down a bit.  Lets take a close look at the top 5 teams and their most glaring needs.

#1-Cleveland Cavaliers-Joel Embiid

  Well I could take some low blows here and let the Cavs have it but lets take the high road.  Players returning for this young Cavs team include, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett, Jarrett Jack, Tyler Zeller and Sergey Karasev.  Pretty easy to see the Cavs lack a starting NBA center.  If they don't go that route the small forward position would be the next spot to look at.  If I am the Cavs I don't think you can pass on Joel Embiid. (barring back issues)  If they don't want to role the dice with a big man with back problems then they will have a choice between Parker and Wiggins.  Not sure which player is a better fit here.  Parker would likely be the better choice as he is a better shooter than Wiggins and Cleveland already has a pair of ball dominant players in Irving and Waiters.

#2-Milwaukee Bucks-Dante Exum

  This is where things can get interesting.  The Bucks have OJ Mayo, Ersan Ilyasova, Zaza Pachulia, Carlos Delfino, Larry Sanders, Brandon Knight, John Henson, Giannis Antetokounmpo.  Yep the all name team...The Bucks biggest needs seem to be the guard positions.  Last season Milwaukee ran a two guard backcourt with Gary Neal and Brandon Knight for much of the season (till they traded Neal)  They seemed to like having Knight as a play making guard looking for his shot more so than a true point guard.  O.J. (hold the) Mayo gave them absolutely nothing last year.  He was in terrible shape and was injured often.  They also have number of young bigs that have either under performed, been injured or caused some other sort of drama.  The lone bright spot for the Bucks is their young stud small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo better known as the "Greek Freak".  So with Embiid off the board here, I believe the Bucks have 2 plays, Andrew Wiggins or Dante Exum.  I believe Exum is in play here because they need a true point guard and he is a player that they could pair with Knight to develop as a backcourt of the future.  The other option is Wiggins.  I believe that Wiggins will end up as a shooting guard in the NBA, as he is rail thin and more of a slasher.  Not sure if the Bucks can go wrong with either player here, but with a point guard dominant league I would have to take Exum.

#3-Philadelphia 76ers-Andrew Wiggins

  This one falls right in to the Sixers lap perfectly.  The Sixers have Micheal Carter-Williams, Thaddeous Young, Nerlen Noel, Eric Maynor, Tony Wroten and Arnette Moultrie.  The Sixers clearly have a number of glaring holes.  The Sixers top pick Nerlens Noel did not set foot on the court last season as he was recovering from a torn ACL.  They clearly did all they could to clear cap and put themselves in the best lottery position.  Thad Young was arguably their best player and he was playing out of position most of the year, as the had him playing the power forward a lot.  They used him as a stretch 4 but he is not a great 3 point shooter at 30%.  Young is a small forward and a talented one at that.  If the Sixers choose to go to a small line up then he could play some stretch 4, but this is not something that should be relied upon.  Two spots the Sixers need, a power forward or a shooting guard. This gives the Sixers options.  They can go with the NBA-ready Julius Randle, who's upside and potential may not be what they would hope for.  Another possibilty is Noah Vonleh.  Extremely long smooth shooting big that developed a passable back to the basket game last year at Indiana.  He also had some of the best overall numbers at the combine.  Vonleh would be a great fit as he has the ability to stretch the floor making room for MCW to create for his teammates. Lastly and in my opinion the most likely scenario, Andrew Wiggins.  Arguably the player likely to be a star in the league.  He is long and a freak athlete.  He is a two way player that has the potential to be a defensive stopper.  Many compare him to Paul George defensively.  Pairing MCW with the likes of Wiggins would give opposing backcourts fits for years to come.

#4-Orlando Magic-Jabari Parker

  With Dante Exum the guy the Magic seem to covet the most off the board and the top 2 studs in Wiggins and Embiid gone, the Magic have to select Parker right?  Well next years roster has Aaron Aflfalo, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson, Moe Harkless, Nikola Vucevic all under contract.  That leaves a lot of holes to fill.  Again the biggest needs look to be the power forward position, small forward position and the point guard position.  Currently the Magic have both Harris and Harkless playing the small forward position.  Harkless is the more natural fit there but has yet to blossom.  Harris has the appropriate size and length but lacks quickness.  The Magic also used Harris at the 4 position where he seemed to be most effective.  The Magic have long coveted an explosive point guard and had hoped to land Exum here.  With Exum off the board do the Magic take a Marcus Smart?  Smart is the one player I believe is going to come in to next season and make every team that passed on him pay.  The knock is his jumper, and the lack of players on the Magic roster that can knock down open jumpers and open up the lane is....?  Smart likely is not the best fit here.  Jabari Parker gives the Magic a true small forward that is NBA-ready and will make an immediate impact.  He adds spacing for player like Vucevic down low and opens driving lanes for Oladipo.  Unfortunately for Jazz Fans Jabari should be there man.

#5-Utah Jazz-Aaron Gordon/Marcus Smart

  This is a depressing position for most Jazz fans.  The thought that Philly, Orlando and Milwaukee all "tanked" better than Utah did is a knife in the heart.  To be honest at times, if I dwell on it, I feel the same way.  The Trey Burke buzzer beater versus Orlando while at the time was fun to watch and exciting, is that "knife".  The Jazz have Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Jeremy Evans, Rudy Gobert.  The Jazz have a solid young player at every position so regardless of what position you pick you will be duplicating.  Jazz fans are clamoring for the Jazz to make a trade and move up in this draft.  I just can't see that happening.  Short of giving up Derrick Favors and picks the Jazz don't have much that is considered valuable enough to move up.  So where do the Jazz go?  In my opinion the biggest need is at the small forward position.  With Gordon Hayward's pending free agency the Jazz should look to shore up this position regardless of how things work out with Hayward.  With Parker and Wiggins having come off the board already, that leaves only one other player that can play both the small forward and while a bit undersized, the power forward position, that being Aaron Gordon.  There is a lot to like with Gordon.  He is a defensive monster that moves like a guard laterally and has the length and athleticism to block shots and be a rim protector.  Gordon is a great ball handler for his size and often sparked the break on his own while playing at Arizona.  Gordon's weakness is the same as Marcus Smart....shooting.  Given the right offensive concepts and the athleticism that the Jazz currently have could help negate some of the weaknesses of Gordon.  The other option here in my opinion is Marcus Smart.  Chad Ford has gone on record saying Jazz fans should not be shocked if the Jazz selected another point guard.  Does this mean the Jazz are not that high on Trey Burke?  Only the front office knows for sure.  But the combo of Burke and Smart could work.  They balance out each others strengths and weaknesses.  There is also the thought that the Jazz could move Burke and have Smart and Burks as the backcourt of the future.  In my opinion the Jazz can't go wrong here with either player.  Both players come in and make an immediate impact.  Personally, I can't choose between the two so I am going to call them 1a and 1b being Gordon and Smart.

  This draft has so much potential and there will clearly be some franchise players, possibly more than people think....June 26th can't get here soon enough!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Only 2 options....Utah Jazz draft options

Can we expect another pick like this?

  Wow!  That may be an understatement for both Jazz fans and NBA fans as a collective after last nights Draft Lottery.  The Cleveland Cavaliers with a 1.7% chance of securing the #1 pick, did so for the 3rd time in four years and for a second consecutive year.  We could go on and on about conspiracy theories and the lottery being rigged, but I won't.

  The only statement I will make on this is that Cleveland is a smoldering dumpster fire of an organization and its unfortunate that poorly run franchises continue to win the lottery.  They fire a coach, then turn around and rehire him after he was fired by his previous team after 8 games.  They sign players to hefty contracts (Andrew Bynum) and then pay them to walk.  Lastly, they clearly under-develop talent.  Kyrie, Trystan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett and now you can add this years first pick to that list (if they don't trade would be the only smart thing they have done....)  We can comfortably call the Cleveland Cavaliers the modern day L.A. Clippers.  #SAD!

  Ok, enough of that.  Lets take a look at (in my opinion) the only 2 options the Utah Jazz really have with this draft.  Lets preface this by saying that there is a general consensus that there are 3-4 sure fire players.  Those being Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid (if the back checks out) and Dante Exum.  Well as luck would have it, the Jazz are sitting at #5.  If the consensus is that these are franchise corner stone players, its unlikely that teams in the top 4 are going to trade out of those spots without getting a current top 10-15 player in the league.  So as far as the Jazz are concerned moving up is highly unlikely.  So that brings us back to our only two options.

Option #1- The Jazz keep the #5, #23 and the #35 pick and use them according to best available and need.

  As currently constructed the Jazz have Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, Trey Burke, Enes Kanter, Jeremy Evans, John Lucas III and Rudy Gobert on guaranteed contracts for next season.  Gordon Hayward is a restricted free agent and Diante Garrett, Ian Clark and Malcolm Thomas are all team options.  The Jazz clearly lacked depth last season particularly at the wing position.  While Richard Jefferson was a nice vet, he didn't give you much other than that veteran presence.  Brandon Rush gave you nothing.  Ian Clark and Malcolm Thomas barely saw the court.  The Jazz had depth with the front court but it was inexperienced depth, young and raw talents.

Option #2- The Jazz keep the #5 pick, but get aggressive and package the #23 and a current asset to move up in the first round.

  The Sacramento Kings have already come out and said that they are looking to move the #8 pick.  They are said to want an impact veteran, someone that can help them make that jump and develop with their young core.  There will be other teams besides the Kings that have 2 first rounders like the Bulls or the Sixers that may look to save cap room for the pending free agent class.  Plays like this would give the Utah Jazz an opportunity to grab a couple of high level players that could come in and contribute right away.  Radio voice of the Utah Jazz, David Locke, said that he really likes the talent pool in picks 15-20.  An example that I am personally fond of, would be to select Marcus Smart with the #5 pick and then package the #23 and Alec Burks or Gordon Hayward for Sacramento's #8 pick.  Giving the Utah Jazz the choice between Doug McDermott or Aaron Gordon (according to Draft Express).  All three of these players have a high probability of coming in and contributing right away. Smart and McDermott would be a perfect compliment to the current roster and to each other.  Smart and Gordon along with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert would make for a scary good defensive unit.

  In my opinion, these are the to best and most feasible options for this young Utah Jazz squad.  I like where the Jazz are at currently.  I like the pieces they have to work with and love their financial flexibility.  I would hate to see the Jazz package any of their picks for a good or mid-level player and sacrifice the flexibility they have worked so hard to establish.  These two options allow this young team to continue to develop together and have the ability to make a splash in free agency or in the trade market.  But I am not a GM and not Dennis Lindsey......

Monday, May 19, 2014

Intrigue at the NBA draft Combine

  The NBA held its annul Draft Combine on May 15th and 16th last week.  There wasn't much hype going in to the combine due to the number of high level players pulling out.  Players such as Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid did not participate.  There were also a number of them that were in attendance that only performed the athletic testing.  Some of those players were Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon and Dante Exum.

  Going in the the combine Exum was the player most fans and teams wanted to see perform.  He participated in the measurements and testing and he was one of a handful of intriguing prospects.  Others included, Zach LaVine of UCLA, Arizona's Aaron Gordon, Wichita State's Cleanthony Early, Florida's Patrick Young and Michigan's Glen Robinson III.  Lets take a quick look....

Dante Exum-

31.5" no step vertical jump
34.5" max vertical jump
10.75 lane agility
Measured at 6'6" in shoes
6'9" wing span
196 lbs

  While not the elite athlete some thought he might be, Exum tested very well.  He was run through the athletic testing with the shooting guards.  He actually tested the highest over all of all the shooting guards.  Exum considers himself a point guard and with his measurables and athleticism he has the potential to be an elite level point guard in the league.

Zach LaVine-

33.5" no step vertical jump
41.5" max vertical jump
10.42 lane agility
Measured 6'5.75" in shoes
6'8.75" wing wpan
180 lbs

  LaVine stole the show at the combine.  He was clearly the best athlete of anyone tested.  What makes it even more interesting, he was interviewed by ESPN's Andy Katz. and was asked by Katz what position he sees himself playing.  He answered the point guard, but was willing to play the shooting guard or small forward, what ever the coach needed.  If LaVine turns out to be a Point Guard he has all the same measurements as Exum, but also has elite level athleticism.  He also participated with the point guards in the on court drills and was a standout.  LaVine also has a decent shot that does not appear broken.  All in all, he may have more to work with than Exum, you just might have to wait a little longer.

Aaron Gordon-

32.5" no step vertical jump
39.5" max vertical jump
10.81 lane agility
Measured 6'8.75" in shoes
6'11.75" wing span

  Coming in most people knew Aaron Gordon was a freak athlete.  He did not disappoint.  For a player at basically 6'9" and to have a sub 11 second agility drill is impressive.  Even more impressive is having nearly 40" vertical!  After the vertical testing was complete, Andy Katz spoke with Gordon and asked him what he thought, Gordon said that he was a little disappointed with his vertical, said that his highest test ever was 42"!
That is unreal for a player of his size.  While Gordon did not participate in any of the on court drills he did mention that he has been working on his shot and his free throws, the two biggest concerns for teams in regards to Gordon.  He mentioned there was a disconnect between his jumper and how he shot it at the line and that he had worked on that and corrected it.

Cleanthony Early-

34" no step vertical jump
40" max vertical jump
11.15 lane agility
Measured 6'7.25" in shoes
6'10.75" wing span

  Cleanthony Early went from being undrafted to second round pick and now possibly solidifying himself as a first round pick.  Early participated in both the on court drills as well as the testing for the small forwards and was very successful.  Early had a great run in the NCAA tournament and put up some big numbers versus Kentucky and their star studded lineup.  This is where most people started to take notice.  Early shot the ball really well in drills and clearly was putting in work.  I think the thing that stood out the most to people, was his athletic testing numbers.  He showed good quickness with his agility testing, but he had elite athleticism with his vertical jump.  With Wiggins and Parker as the top two small forward studs there is plenty of room for a player of Early's caliber to end up on a team with a need at small forward....(Utah Jazz)

Patrick Young-

32" no step vertical jump
37" max vertical jump
11.18 lane agility
25 bench reps
Measure 6'10" in shoes
7'1.75" wing span
246 lbs

  If you are looking for a physical monster, you found it in Florida's Patrick Young.  At 246 lbs and still having a 37" vertical leap!  Who is going to want to challenge this guy?  He also showed great lateral quickness for a man his size, making him valuable in both rim protection and the pick and roll.  Young at one time was considered a late second rounder, but with these kind of numbers teams that made the playoffs that maybe  looking to add depth or a rotation big, Young would be the perfect fit.  There is a lot to like about this kid although he may not have the potential or upside that some of these other younger players may have.

Glen Robinson III-

36.5" no step vertical jump
41.5" max vertical jump
11.22 lane agility
Measure 6'6.75" in shoes
6'10" wing span
211 lbs

  Glen Robinson III has the pedigree.  His dad was a fantastic pro.  GR3 had a better than expected freshman year but then followed in up with what many consider to be a sub-par sophomore season.  Robinson, in my opinion is going to one of those players that is a better NBA pro than college player.  While he is a bit of a tweener (SG/SF) he has the athleticism and quickness to guard either position.  While he may lack elite length, he makes up for with strength and I have to give him something for the pedigree.  Having a father that played in the league goes a long way for these kids and can help them prepare for the rigors of the NBA.  I believe Robinson is one of those players.  He is going to be a nice piece that someone is going to get late first round early second.

Wiggins rumored to be between 42-44"

  While this years combine may not have had the big names people were hoping to see it still had plenty of intriguing performance that are going to give NBA front offices a lot to think about.

Monday, April 28, 2014

NBA Playoff's have been great. Except....

  The first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs have been absolutely fantastic!  The games have been what every NBA fan could hope for.  And to be completely honest the games should be the story, but unfortunately they are not.  The league is mired in controversy thanks to the ignorance of one "entitled billionaire"  While I have my opinion and share the opinion as many others, I am not going to let this buffoon ruin my love for the NBA or the Playoffs.  Adam Silver will handle his business and I will wait for his decision.

  So lets move on.....

  Lets talk about how great the Playoffs have been thus far.  There have been 7 overtime games already!  There have only been a couple of blowouts and only one series that has been dominated by one team.  There has been drama and excitement in every series.  This is why I watch playoff basketball.  Lets run down the series.

Dallas Maverick vs. San Antonio Spurs-

  This is the best series no one is watching.  For the basketball purist, this series has been a lot of fun.  These two team are the two "old men" teams at the Y or the Rec center that have played together since the dinosaurs walked the earth!  The execute you to death, play good defense and can flat out shoot.  At one point in game two, I watch Jose Calederon hit 4 straight jumpers from the left elbow, all pure.  But that was to be overshadowed by Vince Carter turning back the clock and hitting an unbelievable 3 in the corner for the win.  Right after Manu Ginobli had given the Spurs the lead on a great drive to the basket.  Fantastic series!

Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers-

  This is a bad match-up for the Pacers.  The Hawks penetration and kick game has been unstoppable.  Jeff Teague has shown his superior speed and quickness and has given Indiana fits.  The Pacers Roy Hibbert is having a complete melt down and Lance Stephenson just wants to dribble the ball for the entire 24 seconds on the shot clock.  To be honest the Pacers are such a mess I find myself pulling for the Hawks and the upset to see how "Larrry Legend" handles things and if he blows up that team.

Brooklyn Nets vs Toronto Raptors-

  This one is going to come down to will....period!  The series is tied 2-2 with both teams having one a road game.  These teams don't like each other and it has been chippy at times.  Paul Pierce did what Paul Pierce does in the playoffs, he closed out game one for the Nets in Toronto.  This series has a bit of a "David vs Goliath" feel to it and Toronto is giving Brooklyn everything they can handle.  Deron Williams really has been a non-factor in the series thus far.  Game four he was held to 10 pts.  If the Nets want to move on Williams will have to be much better and play up to the contract that he received.

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder-

  This series has been interesting.  The series is ties 2-2 but could very well be 3-1 for either team.  There have been a number of 4 point plays in this series and some really boneheaded plays to close out games by Tony Allen.  Luckily for him, the Grizz have been able to hold on.  3 of the 4 games in this series alone have gone to overtime!  Gotta love bonus basketball!  Now we have a 3 game series and if it is anything like the first 4, you would be wise to tune in.

Los Angles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors-

  This series is tied at two games a piece but would likely be 3-1 for the Clips had Sterling joined the 21st century.  I can't even call him an owner or Mr. he does not deserve even that consideration.  No one can tell me that this won't be a major distraction for the Clippers the remainder of the playoffs, regardless of Adam Silver's investigation.  Here is a team that had a legitimate chance of making the finals and now who knows where their heads will be.  This will be the ultimate test for Doc Rivers and his staff to get these kids refocused on the task at hand.  Best of luck to the Clips.

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Miami Heat-

  Gotta be honest here, I had hoped that the Cats could give Miami a little better series.  But with Big Al's injury that just wasn't going to happen.  Give it to the big fella, he is out there battling, but he is not 100% and that is what it was going to take to give Miami a series.  Lebron is doing what Lebron does, leading his team.  Dwayne Wade looks relatively healthy but time will tell.  This was the best first round match-up for the Heat as they won't have to overextend anyone and can continue to nurse their bumps and bruises.

Portland Trailblazers vs. Houston Rockets-

  In my opinion, this has been the most entertaining series thus far.  LaMarcus Aldrige has been amazing scoring 46,43,23 and 29 respectively!  The Rockets have had no answer for him.  James Harden has been ineffective and inefficient in the series.  Game 3 had a game winner by a rookie Troy Daniels playing in his first playoff game! Game 4 was all about grit and toughness.  It went to overtime where the Blazers pulled out a win 123-120.  The series is 3-1 Portland with the Blazers looking to close it out in Houston on Wednesday.

Washington Wizards vs. Chicago Bulls-

  Can't say I saw this one coming!  This series has been all Wiz and their team balance.  The Bulls are known as a defensive juggernaut but they simply can not score.  Mike Dunleavy had an outburst in game 3 scoring 35 pts hitting eight 3 pointers and giving the Bulls their only win of the series.  The Wiz will look to close it out on Tuesday in Chicago.

  This is why we watch.  To watch these incredible athletes compete and give it everything physically possible to give their team a chance.  I love this time of year and am not going to let one moron be the focus of this great game and these great series.