Could Tonight’s Matchup be and NBA Finals Preview?

I’ve already predicted this season as I did last that the Miami Heat will win the NBA Title. I also called that it would be an OKC-MIA matchup, and this wasn’t in the spring time when I said it, it was when OKC was 5-0. I remember talking to someone on the phone saying, “It is going to be OKC vs Miami in the finals this year, watch.” Now I’m not going to make any predictions just yet who it is going to be from the West to play the defending champs in the Finals but tonight we have an interesting matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat. Exciting to say the least when you have Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Lebron James, and  Dwyane Wade on the court at the same time. Wait, we can’t forget All-Star Chris Bosh and sharp shooter Ray Allen. 

Let’s start with the Clippers who are currently 5-2 out West which is 4th place in the conference with impressive wins over the Lakes and Spurs. It is still  early and I see them getting as high as 2nd or 3rd when it’s all said and done. They lost a couple of games that they should have won (Golden State, Cleveland) but since then have been on a 3 game winning streak and they are winning with defense, holding the last 3 opponents to just 83.3 points per game and allowing them to shoot just 43% from the floor.  They are one of 3 teams averaging 10 or more steals per game, New York being #1 and Memphis in 3rd. They have a great front court in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Blake Griffin had been a little quiet up to this point in the season averaging just 15.7 points and 8.3 rebounds but the scoring has been balanced with 6 players averaging double figures with Jamal Crawford leading the way at 20.3 points a game and Chris Paul getting 17. The 5-2 start is great but there are 75 games left and there are still at least 4-5 other teams out West that can compete. San Antonio who is 7-1, Memphis can make noise, Dallas when healthy can make another run, the Lakers if they get it together and of course, OKC who are the defending Western Conference Champs. We just have to wait and see but so far the Clippers are the top team in L.A. and are looking to make a serious run out West to be contenders.

 

The Miami Heat are 6-2 and 2nd in the East behind the 5-0 Knicks, which could be a potential Eastern Conference Finals matchup. I think that would be the most watched series in the playoffs, but that’s beside the point. Now that the burden is off their backs the Miami Heat know what it takes to win an NBA Title. As I stated earlier in the post, the Heat will win the NBA Title this year which would be a repeat. Anytime you have the collection of players they already had and then adding Ray Allen with Rashard Lewis, your chances of winning again don’t go down.

Tonight’s matchup will be a good one and who knows, we may see these 2 in the NBA Finals this year, I could be wrong but then again I am not making any definite predictions out West just yet.

 

-Donovan Corzo

 

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Who Did the Monkey Jump on the Back of Now?

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There is usually that one player in the NBA from time to time who is often talked about most, who becomes the most scrutinized to win and NBA title. Most recently and very publicly was Lebron James, and Kevin Garnett before who was the one player I personally felt deserved it more than anyone finally got his in 2008, but now that he has what I call the Championship Monkey off his back, who did it hop on to now?

There are a number of NBA stars who we want to see win it all but many of them the pressure is not as big to get the job done, yet. Kevin Durant? No, he is only 24 years old (almost 6 months younger than I am) and played in his first NBA Finals this past season. And we expect him to get there again because of his talent level and the fact that he has a great team in OKC. I don’t think many worry about KD right now, we know he will get there again. There is Chris Paul and Deron Williams who are easily 2 of the top 3 point guards in the NBA are 27 and 28 years old at the moment. Both still fairly new with their teams and some of us may not expect either one of those guys to win a ring, that’s just my opinion. With the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics still showing that they can compete, a Chicago Bulls team with a healthy Derrick Rose, it may be tough to D Will out East but only time will tell. Chris Paul and the Clippers have a lot of talent and can really make some noise out west in the coming years but Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder could be a block in the road. And oh yea, their same city rivals, Los Angeles Lakers pose a threat, as well as the Spurs but they have posed a threat to everyone out west the last 100 years it seems like.

The 2 players that come to mind who probably have the Championship Monkey on their back are Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard. Dwight Howard for obvious reasons, he now has to fill Shaq’s shoes, no matter what way you look at it. Dwight still has a lot of basketball left in him, I’d say another decade but he wanted out of Orlando because he felt he was not going to win there and on top of that went to the Lakers and now is that latest of superstar big men to play for the team. If he does not get the job done, Shaq will have a field day. Carmelo on the other hand, is entering his 10th NBA season and will be 29 next spring. Not saying he is old but time is not exactly on his side and is now and NBA vet. He is one of the 4 players apart of the 2003 draft class that brought in stars like Lebron, D Wade and Chris Bosh, all who have and at least one NBA Championship. He teamed up with Amare in New York to better his chances and they have added a few vets to the team. Some may call the Knicks old but like Doc Rivers said about his Boston Celtics, “When we are winning we are experienced but when we are losing everyone says we are too old.” The same applies here and Carmelo is the best player on the team and will have to perform to get the job done. He is 28 like I said, which is still young enough to have a few good years left before a decline and if he never wins a ring, no matter how great he is as a basketball player, Lebron James and D Wade will always be looked at as a tier above him for getting the job done and winning a title.

-Donovan Corzo

No Longer With Their Drafted Teams, Who Will Have the Biggest Impact?

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The ultimate goal for every NBA superstar is to win an NBA Championship, (at least it should be) and that is what Lebron James finally did last season with the Miami Heat. He spent the first 7 years of his NBA career with the Cleveland Cavaliers and after he felt his best chance to win a title was not in Cleveland, he took his talents to South Beach to play along side Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. We all can remember the attention his departure from Cleveland received, and even ruined his image for some time but he did what was best for him and 2 years later he is an NBA Champion and still remains the leagues best player.

2 years after Lebron’s highly publicized decision to go to Miami, Dwight Howard  who spent the first 8 seasons of his career with the Orlando Magic, decided to make his own move in quest for an NBA Championship. He took his talents out west to play with the Los Angeles Lakers alongside Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. This did not cause as much controversy as Lebron did but he lost a lot of respect because he seemed very indecisive all season long. 

These are 2 big free agent moves that can and already haven shaken the balance of power in the NBA. We haven’t seen how the Lakers will play out but they are picked by many to be the favorites out West and the Miami Heat, well they are now the defending champs. So, as we get ready to enter the 2012-2013 season and beyond, which player will have the biggest impact on their team? Will Dwight Howard turn the Lakers into the dominant force out West the once were during the Kobe-Shaq era? Will Lebron’s brilliance he displayed last season carry over and be enough to repeat as an NBA Champion? Will these 2 meet in the Finals and who will win? These are all questions that have yet to be answered but will be Lord willing.

 

-Donovan Corzo

Kevin Durant: “I think my time is now.”

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What the title of this post is what NBA superstar Kevin Durant said in a recent interview with the Washington Post when he talked about where he is in his career. Of course we all know Lebron James is the best player in the world right now and is dominating the NBA, there is no doubt about that. But Kevin Durant, 23, who is younger than me (24) feels his time is now, not a few years from now and he has every right to feel that way. He is a 3-time scoring champ and led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals against the now NBA Champs Miami Heat. The Finals proved that Lebron is not ready to pass the torch on the the young fella, but what we did learn is that KD is probably that guy next in line.

We’ll see how soon he can take that next step from being often called the 2nd best player to being the top guy in the NBA.

The Consistency of “The Truth”

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Say what you want about Paul Pierce, some people hate him and some love him. I am one of those that love him as a player, my top 5 favorite in the NBA the last several years. He has been in the NBA since the ’98-’99 season and remains relevant to the league among the top players in the game. He was easily one of the best scorers in the NBA with 5 seasons averaging 25 points or more.

The fact that he had to share the scoring load with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen is the reason why his scoring has dipped the last 5 years but he remains a constant All-Star year in and year out with 10 All-Star appearances on his resume. Though he has never been a starter in an All-Star game he is reguarly voted in by coaches which says a lot about his game. At age 34, it is only expected that he slows down a bit and cannot put up the big scoring numbers as often as he once did, but like they say on Inside the NBA, “You can’t beat father time”. His numbers remain solid though. Last season he averaged 19.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and had one of his best passing seasons averaging 4.5 assists.

He always seems to fly under the radar because he was never as flashy as his peers like his draft mate (my favorite player), Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady earlier in his career and even Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, or Dwyane Wade when those guys came into the league but has always been able to play at the top of his game against those guys. He outplayed Kobe Bryant in my opinion in the 2008 Finals to win his first Championship and Finals MVP and even went as far to say the he himself was the best player in the world after winning it all. Whether you like him or not, you have to give the guy credit for still being able to play at a high level. It’s clearly true that he is, well “The Truth”. Here is a Paul Pierce mix below

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POlr92KHVMM

 

-Donovan Corzo

Sacramento Kings: My NBA Champs

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If you have been a fan of the game for at least a decade then you can remember when the Sacramento Kings were one of the elite teams not only in the West but in the entire league. The Kings were an elite team from 2001-2004. In the 2000-2001 season the went 55-27 and finished 3rd place in the West but got swept in the Western Conference Semis to the Los Angeles Lakers who went on to win the NBA Championship. That offseason the Kings made a trade that took them to another level by trading flashy Point Guard Jason Williams for a more solid Point Guard in Mike Bibby from the Grizzlies.

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The 2001-2002 season the Kings were considered Championship contenders, finishing with a 61-21 record which was best in the entire NBA and had homecourt advantage through the entire Playoffs. They were nearly impossible to beat at home, going 36-5. This was going to be it, my favorite team had the best record in the NBA, homecourt advantage and they were impossible to stop on the offensive end, averaging 104.6 points a game. They were by far the deepest team in the league with a starting 5 of Mike Bibby, defensive specialist Doug Christie, 3-point shooting great Peja Stojakovic, Chris Webber and Vlade Divac. They had a solid bench with names like Bobby Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Scott Pollard, and Hedo Turkoglu to name a few. They made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals against uh, none other than the defending Champs Los Angeles Lakers. Lakers won 4-3 but if you were a Kings fan such as myself, we know who should have won that series due to a couple of controversial plays in games 4&6 (which was allegedly fixed,I agree it was) and then missed free throws in Game 7. Sacramento would have went on to beat the New Jersey Nets probably as easy as the Lakers did in 4 games.

The Kings came back with a vengance in the 02-03 season, winning 59 games and placing 2nd in the West. The Lakers only won 50 games and were not up to Championship form. Sacramento wanted to prove they were the best team in the league. I knew that there was no way they could lose this year after the heartache that was endured the last season against the Lakers. They went on to play the 3rd seeded Dallas Mavericks in the 2nd round and lost Chris Webber in game 2 with a knee injury that kept him out the rest of the series and ended up losing again in 7 games. This time it wasn’t the Lakers, it was pure misfortoune by losing Chris Webber after such a great season that came with high expectations.

In the 03-04 season the Kings aquired Brad Miller who brought toughness to the team. This season the Kings beat the Lakers in 3 out of 4 regular season meetings and finished 55-27 which was 4th out West. Many felt this was their last window of opportunity, I even felt the same. They went on to face Dallas again but this time in the 1st round and beat them in 5 games, the revenge was nice. Next up was the #1 seeded Minnesota Timberwolves led by the MVP Kevin Garnett and again we (Kings, I say we because I felt I was apart of the team) lost again in game 7, for the 3rd straight season.

Being a Kings fan was very fun. I didn’t like them because of one specific player, but I was a die hard fan because I loved the whole team and the way they played and ever since that team broke up it has been hard for me to find a team that I love that much because of every single player on the team and the way they play. I even had a personalized Kings jersey. Just thinking about the devestating losses, game 7’s and the fact that you knew the Kings had a chance to win it all still hurts but I still to this day say I enjoyed the NBA the most during the Kings time being one of the NBA’s best and by far most exciting team. They may have not won it all but in my heart they were NBA Champs.

-Donovan Corzo