Thursday, May 26, 2011

Five-Year Reunion

The Dallas Mavericks silenced the Thunder with a 100-96 comeback victory and scurried to a 4-1 Conference Finals victory last night at home.

Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion scored a game-high 26 points a piece and combined for 18-of-32 shots from the field in the series clincher.

Nowitzki and Jason Terry are the only remaining Maverick players from the 2006 team who crumbled like a softened cookie in a 4-2 NBA Finals series lost against the Miami Heat led by Dwayne Wade, who claimed the MVP award of the Finals that season.

It is now five years later, and the Mavericks await the winner of the East Conference Finals, which includes the same team that beat Nowitzki's Mavs in 2006. Although this is the same franchise that beat Dallas, this is not the same personnel who crushed Dallas five years ago.

This new star-studded team includes Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and a number of other talented hardworking professionals on this 12-man roster. The Heat lead their current series 3-1 against the Chicago Bulls, who had the best record in the NBA during the regular season.

Wade and the Heat have a chance to close out the Bulls later tonight in the same place (Chicago) they took Game 2 of the series with an ugly 85-75 victory back on May 19. A victory by Miami would send them to the Finals for a rematch against the Mavericks.

I believe this East Conference series will go back to Miami for Game 6, but ultimately Miami will win the series 4-2, and get ready for Dirk and the revamped Mavericks. Many people did not think Miami could put together a championship caliber team this year, but they have a very achievable chance to prove the nay-sayers wrong.

The way Miami is playing right now it is hard to pick against them to win the championship, and I will not pick against them. Dirk will be up against THREE superstars this year, and to my knowledge three always is better than one.

It will be a hard fought battle between the teams, but Miami will prevail in six games en route to a South Beach celebration. Book your tickets now because it is about to go down in M-I-A when the Heat win these two series and become World Champions.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thundering To The Finals

The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Memphis Grizzlies 105-90 in Game 7 and advanced to the Western conference Finals earlier today.

They have a lot of momentum, and it will definitely carry over into the next series against the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs are on a 9-day sabbatical before their series against the Thunder after dismantling the defending champs in a 4-game series sweep that ended back on Mother's Day.

Despite being an older and more experienced team, Dallas' layoff will harm them against the young and energetic Kevin Durant led Thunder team. They will come out rusty and too relax, which may lead them into a big deficit early which will help OKC steal Game 1 in Dallas on May 17.

Along with Dallas' hiatus, the Thunder's young stars in Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden will be too much for the aging Mavs. The Mavs have a history of failing in the playoffs, and their past will catch up to them against the team who most analysts think is the "darling" of the NBA.

OKC will win the West Finals in a tough battle, but nonetheless they will play either the Chicago Bulls or the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals come June.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cleveland Curse Broken?

After the Cleveland Brown's running back Peyton Hillis won the rights to the Madden 12 cover, the team's inner-city mate in the Cleveland Indians also earned the best record in baseball so far through 33 games (22-11).

If you are a die hard Cleveland fan (or even a sports fan) you know that this city has experienced a tumultuous amount of anguish over many decades after 1964. That's when the Browns won the NFL Championship (Pre-Superbowl Era) in the 1964 NFL season, and were the last Cleveland professional sports team to win a championship.

This 47-year drought, also thought of as a curse was compounded by the home-state kid, LeBron James' "Decision" last summer when he decided to leave Cleveland and "take his talents to South Beach" for this current NBA season.

Despite the debacle of a season (19-63) the Cavaliers had after James' departure, things may be looking up for the sorrowful city. Many believe that getting on the Madden cover is a curse in its own right, so one curse cancels out another and results in a breaking of the long endured curse because two negatives equals a positive right?

Well it sure seems that way right now. The Indians are playing great baseball, they have swept at least five of their series so far this season, the Browns have a popular and productive running back, the Cavaliers still are horrific, but if they get the No.1 pick in the NBA draft in June and select former Duke guard Kyrie Irving, who knows what may happen the following season.

So Cleveland fans do not hold your heads down too much longer because justice in the sports world may be coming sooner than anyone may have thought.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Out With The Old, In With The New

We are transitioning into a new era of professional basketball in this here United States. Many of the common powerhouses, the Lakers, the Celtics and even the Spurs have all shown this year what the wear and tear that their deep playoff and championship runs has done to them over the last decade.

Kobe Bryant, who has played a lot, and I mean A LOT of playoff minutes over his 15-year NBA career is showing signs of slowing down. His co-captain, Derek Fisher, who came into the league with Bryant has accumulated a lot of those playoff minutes, and is rusty as well. Other players like Kevin Garnett (15-year career), Shaquille O'Neal (19-year career), Paul Pierce (13-year career) and Ray Allen (15-year career) have had their share of deep runs into the playoffs too.

Arguably the best power forward in the game, Tim Duncan has contributed to four San Antonio Spurs championships in his 14-year career. Even though he only has four rings, he has still been in playoffs way more than half the years he has been playing in the NBA.

With that being said, this 2010-11 season has undoubtedly helped us turn to a new chapter in an already spectacular NBA history. Those old powerhouses, the Lakers, Celtics and Spurs are sure enough passing the torch to the new and upcoming star-filled teams in the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and the New York Knicks. Once these future hall of famers retire from the NBA, the take over of the new class of superstars will be in full effect. The Blake Griffins, John Walls, LeBron James, Dwayne Wades and Kevin Durants of the NBA will make more history for this upcoming decade and ultimately pass the torch down to the next generation when their careers come to a close.

This turn of events is good for the NBA, and there will be a lot of young athletes who will try to top Kobe's accolades, or try to master Timmy's picture-perfect bank shot, or imitate Garnett's toughness and intimidation, or out shoot the NBA's all-time leader in 3-pointers made, Ray Allen. It's a new era evolving right in front of our eyes, and I am terribly excited to see what the future holds for us NBA fans.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Era In Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Bengals addressed the uncertainty of their future with the current star players on their team roster during the 2011 NFL draft on Apr. 28. 

The Bengals organization main caveat is the possibility of losing their starting quarterback, Carson Palmer and primary receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens due to unhappiness with the team. They counteracted this troublesome situation by drafting wide receiver A.J. Green with the 4th pick in the first-round and quarterback Andy Dalton with the 36th pick in the second-round.

Green, who is a star-studded receiver out of Georgia, could step in and be the second option for the receiving core if Ochocinco stays with the team. The 6-foot-4 former Georgia Bulldog caught 166 passes for over 2600 yards and scored 23 touchdowns in his three-year collegiate career.

According to NFL analysts, Green is expected to have an immediate impact on the Bengals offense with his height, great hands and ability to blow past and get behind a defense's secondary.

His fellow rookie and new teammate, former Texas-Christian quarterback, Dalton was undefeated (13-0) in his final season at TCU. According to many sources, The fifth-year senior is thought to be an intelligent and polished pocket performer due to him playing out his full collegiate career.

In his last season with the Horned Frogs, Dalton threw for 27 touchdowns to only six interceptions. He completed 66 percent of his passes and recorded a 166.5 quarterback rating.

Dalton will be Palmer's immediate successor if Palmer decides to retire because of the Bengals refusal to trade him. Regardless of what happens with the issues surrounding the Bengals organization the future is still bright.

With all signs pointing to Owens not returning, the least Cincinnati can do is try their best to keep Palmer and Ochocinco. This will give the young guys some veterans to learn from and also give them (especially Dalton) a chance to improve their game without the pressures of performing at a high level so soon.

With the lockout in full effect again there will always be uncertainty surrounding the futures of Palmer and Ochocnico with the Bengals organization because players are still not allowed to converse with coaches and team officials until the lockout is officially over. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Memphis Over OKC, You Better Believe It!

Memphis will beat Oklahoma City in six games because of three simple, plain and effective reasons.

Those reasons are  Zach "ZBO" Randolph, Marc Gasol and Tony Allen. ZBO averages 21.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game so far in these playoffs, while his front court mate Gasol, provides a double-double (14.2 points and 12.3 rebounds) every night. The Grizzlies have too much size for the Thunder big men, and it will be extremely noticeable during this series.

The x-factor will be Allen because he has the tough task of guarding the league's leading scorer in Kevin Durant (32.4 points in the playoffs so far). Despite the degree of difficulty of guarding Durant's 6-foot-9 frame and ridiculously long arms, Allen (along with Shane Battier) will make the Thunder's star player's life on the court very unpleasant.

Allen has playoff and championship basketball experience due to his association with the Boston Celtics during their 2008 NBA championship run. That experience and his toughness will help him stay discipline in guarding Durant.

In the first-round, Memphis out hustled and outplayed the West's best team (record wise) in the San Antonio Spurs in each of their six games during the series. Even though the Grizzlies lost two games, it was evident that they were the better team.  

Do not sleep on these Grizzlies because it will only anger the talented bear even more than it already is. The underdog is very dangerous this year and they are a legitimate team with a lot of promise.