NBA MVP: The Closest Race in Years

I couldn’t have said it any better.
I’ve been meaning to write an article about the MVP race. And go in depth about the awesome seasons by Stephen Curry, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

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Chris Mannix from Sports Illustrated opined:  James Harden (Rockets).This was, in a word, excruciating. I have no issue with a vote cast for Stephen Curry. He’s the best player on the best team, and he’s the most impressive off-the-dribble player I’ve seen since Kobe Bryant was in his prime. At times, Warriors games look like a video game, with Curry toggled to All-Star and everyone else playing on rookie. He’s great. But this season, Harden was just a hair better. Houston’s injury woes put the kind of pressure on Harden that Curry wasn’t forced to face, and Harden delivered. He scored, rebounded and assisted, all while teams drew up entire game plans based on stopping him. Am I unfairly penalizing Curry for Golden State’s good health and wire-to-wire dominance? Maybe. But Harden’s ability to elevate Houston over adversity really resonated. Runners-up: Stephen Curry (Warriors), Russell Westbrook (Thunder), LeBron James (Cavaliers), Anthony Davis 

But the guys at Grantland said almost everything I could have tried to say.
And everything I couldn’t put in ink.
And even the ideas jumbled in my head that I couldn’t clearly extrapolate were brought to life better than I could have dared/ hoped/ attempted.
The key paragraph:”Curry and the loaded Warriors have been incredible at the top of the West, but Harden dragging this Rockets team to second place is more impressive. I don’t understand how anyone can pretend otherwise. It’s one thing to accept that Steph Curry will win MVP. But we all know Harden deserves it, right?”

James Harden is the MVP

Here ya go:

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/listen-to-your-heart-james-harden-is-the-mvp/

Hoops!

Golden State Warriors defeat the Denver Nuggets in 6 Games

Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors - Game Six

In front of a sellout crowd of 19,500 plus at Oracle Arena in Oakland, the Golden State Warriors won their first playoff series since 2007 when they beat the top seeded Dallas Mavericks behind Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrens.

The 2013 version of the Warriors boasts one of the most dynamic and “sharpest-shooting” back courts in the association this year with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. A first round series win on Thursday night extends a really impressive season for Golden State in which had solid coaching (Mark Jackson), their first All Star selection since 1997 (David Lee) and a productive bench led by Jarrett Jack. (The Warriors should/could have had 2 allstars but that’s a discussion for another day).

The Denver Nuggets also had an awesome regular season. They won almost 60 games! (57). They had the best home record in the NBA 38-3, led the league in points-per-game and was widely feared as the deepest, fastest and most exciting team in the West with aspirations on reaching the Western Conference Finals.

In Game 1, the Nuggets won a thriller in front of their home crowd by 2 points on a game winner by Andre Miller. After game 1, the Nuggets should have seen the writing on the wall. In the regular season, they had a huge point differential, were number 2 in rebounding and 3rd in assists per game. In game 1, they were out-rebounded by 10. More importantly and more accurately they gave up 55 rebounds with is the most rebounds against the Nuggets in a playoff game in about 20 years.

In game 2, the Nuggets “officially” lost the series by surrendering the homecourt advantage that they worked hard for during the regular season. They were outrebounded again by 10 rebounds and gave up 131 points on their homecourt on 64% field goals percentage (not a typo 64% not 46%!) and 56% from 3 point range. They seemingly didn’t miss David Lee who was injured in game 1.

The Warriors averaged 118 points per game in the 3 middle games, games 2, 3 and 4. The Nuggets inability to defend Golden State’s shooters did them in this series. In addition, losing the rebounding battle and not getting the fastbreak points that they feasted on earlier in the season became their undoing.

In the 6th and final game, the Warriors started slow at home and scored only 40 first half points before erupting for 33 points in the 3rd quarter alone led by Steph Curry. David Lee pulled a “Willis Reed” return from what was season ending surgery! He only played 2 minutes and was an inspirational insertion into the game. The Warriors led by as many as 18 points and held off a furious comeback by the Nuggets who cut the lead to only 2 points with 32 seconds remaining. Warriors win and advance to the Western Conference semifinals.

The key point of this series might have been the instant defense improvement the Warriors received with David Lee not on the floor. This forced Coach Jackson to play Andrew Bogut for 40+ points and he flourished. His defense was key for Golden State, his rebounding numbers were Rodman-like and he protected the point with an assortment of blocks.

The Nuggets have lost in the first round 9 out of 10 times. This might put to bed the idea that a team with no “superstar/allstar” has a legitimate chance at an NBA title.

For now the Warriors move on!

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Vino! Kobe Bryant’s Brilliance!

mamba.Vino

We are running out of adjectives for Kobe Bryant. Thrilling. Amazing. Unstoppable. Brilliant. M-V-P. He should never retire.

Kobe aka Mamba is fresh off a 47 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks and 3 steals performance on Wednesday night in Portland in a virtual must win to keep the Lakers a full game ahead of the Utah Jazz in the playoff race.  Might I add that Kobe played the entire 48 minutes of the game and shot 14 for 17 from the field.

Let’s set the stage: the 2012 – 2013 Lakers have not won both games on back to back to back nights this season. The Lakers have always had epic battles in Portland. Impressively, the Blazers are competitive against LA regardless of their roster – from the days of Terry Porter to JR Rider to Brian Grant to Brandon Roy.

Throw in current Rookie of the Year front runner Damian Lillard dropping 23 points in the first half en route to a career high 38 points prompting praise from Kobe via twitter “Lillard is the real deal #mambasalute”

I must add that the Portland Trailblazers started 4 rookies for the first time in their history.  The Lakers subsequently give up 69 points in the first half! They fixed the defense giving up only 37 points in the second half to secure the win.

Worthy to mention that both Dwight Howard (20 points and 10 rebounds) and Pau Gasol (23 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists) had very good games.

Biggest questions: Will the Lakers make the playoffs? Is all this effort for nothing? If they do make the playoffs, how will they fair?

Did you hear Magic Johnson last night on national TV!!? “If the Lakers get in the playoffs and end up in the 8 spot. And the Spurs get the 1 spot, the Lakers are gonna beat the Spurs”. BOLD STATEMENT!

Love this GAME! Can’t wait for the playoffs!

In other news: the Miami Heat won again last night without Bosh, Wade and LeBron. How/ Why? They have guys like Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen. Mike Miller averaged 19 points a year at his career high, Rashard Lewis averaged 22 points at his best and sharpshooting Ray Allen had a career best season average of 26 points a game. The Heat took a franchise record 41 three pointers! And made 17 of em.

They have clinched home court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Miami Heat are resting and ready to contend for back to back titles. I see no able nor capable nor well-equipped resistance to their repeat title chances. Who can Beat the Heat?

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– King of Hoops
(@HoopsReportCard)

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Crown The Miami Heat Already – March 19th, 2013

James over Terry

Monday night March 18th, the world witnessed a wildly entertaining pre-March madness, playoff-intense battle between the visiting Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.

Let’s appropriately set the stage: The game begins with a recorded Paul Pierce interview in the tunnel “I don’t care if the Miami Heat lose every game the rest of the season. I hope they lose every game this season!”  The NBA always has amazing story lines!  5 years to the day that the Houston Rockets 22 game streak ended (3/18/2008), the Heat and Celtics meet with the Celtics primed to be the league’s best streak-breaker AGAIN.
This game had all the makings of a postseason game. A rivalry between perennial enemies.  Boston having won 11 straight home games. Miami chasing NBA history having won their previous 22 games and seeking second place all time with 23 consecutive wins. Something had to give. The Celtics started the game hot and Miami fell behind double digits.
Skip forward to the 4th quarter… The HEAT have out scored their opponents in the 23 game win streak in “clutch time” (meaning less than 5 mins to go and score within 5 points) By a whopping 145 to 75!

I feel compelled to steal a line from sporting news: “with the Celtics up 13 points on the Heat with just 8 minutes left in the game, it appeared the Celtics were about to end Miami’s 22 game winning streak UNTIL LeBron James did what LeBron James does.” Dare I say, BEASTMODE.

Its clear the talents and ability that King James bring to the Heat. 35 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists versus the Celtics on Monday night. The eighteenth(18th) 35 and 10 performance of his career. He is shooting near 60% in the Heat’s 23 game win streak to go with about 8 rebounds and 7 assists approximately. And night in and night out, he is the best player on the floor.
Mario Chalmers scored a huge 21 points on 4 for 5 three point shooting.
Dwyane Wade added 16 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

Lingering question: How would the Celtics have faired if their defensive and emotional leader Kevin Garnett had played?  We will never know unfortunately.

In other news: Jeff Green had the best game of his career scoring a career high 43 points in an efficient 14 for 21 shooting with 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 blocks. 26 points in the first half on 9 for 12 shooting.

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Avery Bradley is pretty impressive defensively.  The chase down block at the rim on Norris Cole was something to see.

In the end, LeBron James was the difference hitting the shot of the night over Jeff Green with 10 seconds to go.

Miami Heat will win the East and is my pick to win back to back championships. Go ahead and Crown them 2013 NBA Champions. Can the Western conference champ beat Miami?
Yes, San Antonio has a chance. So does OKC. But I think the Heat will win against either. The West is ultra competitive and the winner will be either be severely bruised OR primed, ready and battle-tested.
Where will their historic win streak end? 25 wins? 29 wins? 35? My prediction is that they will win 27 and lose to the Chicago Bulls on the road on March 27th.
Tell EVERYONE, you heard it here first. 27 wins.
OUT!
King of Hoops
@HoopsReportCard
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