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The NBA Playoffs are in full swing. It is down to the final four teams as they head for the conference finals. In the west, there are no surprises as the top two seeded teams advance to their conference finals. However, there has been a slight upset in the east with the Boston Celtics making it this far. The early season favorites; San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat have proven their dominance not only in the regular season, but also throughout the playoffs thus far.
The 2014 NBA MVP has been crowned, and Kevin Durant displayed the heart of a most valuable player when he delivered a tear jerking speech that recognized each and every teammate, staff member, and family member who had helped him reach his current state of greatness. But though Durant was awarded the MVP trophy for the regular season, the star forward has had difficulty staying consistent throughout the postseason.
Many players see the regular season as the time to improve both individually, and as a team. When it comes to playoff time, it’s about creating your legacy. Essentially, the post season separates the good players from the great players, and the talented teams from the legendary teams. The most important NBA games of the season are finally upon us.
As expected, there was no lack of excitement through the first round of the NBA playoffs. Two series’ being decided in a game seven and a #8 seed upsetting the team with the best record throughout the regular season. In addition, a much anticipated Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers matchup is finally set after the Lakers edged out the Denver Nuggets in a season saving game seven. It’s safe to say that these playoffs won’t disappoint.
As the first round of the NBA playoffs are coming to an end, the picture of who will play in the finals is becoming remarkably clearer. With a few teams dominantly prevailing in the preliminary round, there is no doubt which teams are on a mission and which teams are just fighting to play another day.
NBA: The seven-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA pick and two-time scoring champ closed the door this morning on ESPN’s First Take, announcing that he was “officially” retiring from the NBA after 16 seasons in the league. He did say he was leaving the door open to opportunities in China, but said he was done playing bit parts on NBA teams.
If the NBA offseason is the ideal time for teams to glue themselves to their office desks and cell phones in attempts of enticing new and exciting talent to their organization, a handful of teams did not receive the memo. In fact, only about one-third of NBA teams have a legitimate chance of surviving deep into the playoffs during the upcoming 2013-2014 season. What is worse is that a handful of ball clubs have abandoned all discretion in order to throw a team on the court that knowingly has little to no chance of winning more than a quarter of their matchups. The Philadelphia 76ers signed away their franchise player, Jrue Holiday, in exchange for a future draft pick and an unproven center with no offensive game and a bum knee in Nerlens Noel. The Utah Jazz seemingly locked up their bank accounts and turned off their phone lines when it came time to negotiate the contracts of their two best players, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, letting both all-stars sign with different teams. The Boston Celtics traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, both future hall of famers who have brought the Larry O’brien Trophy to Beantown, in exchange for a slew of expiring contracts. So what powerful force has brought about basketball’s Diaspora of talent from cities such as these? The answer is a skinny 18-year-old kid from Toronto.
It’s been said that a bad apple can have a malignant effect on a sports team, and that an infected appendage must be removed. This is why talk of Indiana Pacer guard Lance Stephenson possibly being denied a contract extension has begun to surface. The former second round draft pick has drawn much criticism, as various sources have hinted at a possible lack of chemistry between the player and his teammates. The speculation regarding Stephenson’s internal antics reached a boiling point at the beginning of the playoffs when reports surfaced that the guard had come to physical blows with teammate Evan Turner during a practice. Yet despite the negative allegations surrounding Stephenson, the young prospect also serves a critical role in the Pacer body: the heel.
The annual NBA Draft Lottery took place this past Wednesday at the Disney/ABC Times Square Studio in Manhattan. This draft process occurs every year about one month before the NBA Draft. This event includes all of the teams that did not make the playoffs or the teams that gained draft rights of another team that missed the playoffs. In all, there are 14 teams that discover the order of their draft pick through the Draft Lottery.
A recent study preformed by ESPN analysts gutted 25 years of basketball history in order to ascertain who they believe to be the leading colleges that feed the NBA. Their findings concluded that the University of Arizona has produced the 6th highest NBA pedigree in the nation. This is no small feat considering that Arizona was the highest ranked school east of Kentucky, beating out west basketball giants such as Kansas and UCLA. The UofA has a history rich with basketball achievement on the professional level, primarily due to stability and developmental support provided by the Lute Olsen era, and the present Sean Miller era. In this summer’s 2013 NBA Draft, Arizona’s legacy of contributing key role players to the pro’s was amplified by the selections of Solomon Hill and Grant Jerrett.
In 1998 NBA Finals, the most monumental athlete in sports history, Michael Jordan, executed a perfect crossover jump shot that sealed his sixth NBA title, and became the perfect send-off for his last ride into the sunset. All that remained were memories, record books rewritten, and an uncertain future over who would carry the torch as the NBA’s new model champion. Jordan’s retirement birthed the rise of a new champion, albeit a different one: The San Antonio Spurs.
If you have had time to tune into any of this year’s NBA playoff games, you already know exactly what I am talking about. Yes, the flopping. It has continuously gotten worse throughout the playoffs and appears to only be heading in the wrong direction.
Had University of Arizona’s starting power forward Brandon Ashley not been forced to the sidelines with a broken foot, the Cats may have won it all last year. It was undeniable that all parts of the Wildcat unit worked together like magic, and each player was downright special. All members of the squad took on bigger roles in the wake of the Ashley injury, but the team seemed to lean mostly on the athletic ability of Aaron Gordon and the consistency of Nick Johnson. That leadership and promise did not go unnoticed, it would seem, as both Gordon and Johnson are currently packing their bags and shipping out to NBA teams.
The 2014 NBA season has come to an end, and the King has been slain at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs. It was not the most exciting of playoff series. In fact, it was a rather one-sided thrashing delivered by a team that should be considered among one of the best squads of all time, certainly the best since the Michael Jordan era of the 1990s. But though the games may have not been full of buzzer beaters and dunks, the relevancy of the Spurs’ run at the title will echo throughout the expansive halls basketball history due to the unique nature of the team.
In these trying economic times, many are burning the midnight oil juggling two jobs. This friendly neighborhood sports writer is no different.
Although we are only in the NBA conference semi-finals, it already feels like the finals with tempers flaring, elbows swinging and fines being dished out. Each matchup is different and there is little consistency of play, however there is a pattern emerging in this round of the playoffs.
We are getting increasingly closer to finding out who is the best basketball team in the world. Down to the conference finals, two teams remain in the East, the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, and two teams are left in the West, the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies. In these best of seven series’, home court advantage could make all the difference.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are quite the enigma, consistently placing among the worst teams in basketball, yet somehow also pulling off one of the most impressive streaks of good luck in sports. The eastern conference team had a mere 1.7 percent chance of receiving the first overall pick in what has been called one of the most talent-packed NBA Drafts in history. But it would seem that the odds are forever in Cleveland’s favor, and the Cavs have been granted the top pick for the third time in the last four NBA seasons. Over the last decade, the Cavs have been in lottery contention six times, coming up with the number-one pick four of those times. As unbelievable as it may seem, Cleveland now has the opportunity to pick the finest in the bunch, yet again. Some basketball analysts, however, are claiming that the Cavs have their sites set on a bigger prize: the king of the jungle, LeBron James.
Metta World Peace, formally known as Ron Artest, is now facing a seven game suspension without pay after his dunk celebration against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He proceeded to dunk the ball with authority and ran back on defense. However, he didn’t go back without taunting his opponent first. His taunt ended with a vicious elbow to the back of the head of Thunder guard, James Harden, knocking Harden to the floor.
Last Thursday, San Antonio Spurs head coach, Gregg Popovich, made the decision to send his top four players home instead of to Miami to play the defending champion, Miami Heat in a nationally televised game. By doing so, Popovich allowed his aging stars to rest and end their six-game road trip early.
1. UNIONS JOIN TURKISH PROTESTS