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2017 NBA Finals – No Surprises Here 9

Posted on May 29, 2017 by Dean Hybl
LeBron James and Steph Curry will be meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

LeBron James and Steph Curry will be meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

Finally. After a month and a half of preliminaries, the main event that every basketball fan has been waiting to see is finally upon us. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will be meeting in the NBA Finals for a third straight year.

After splitting the first two meetings, this one promises to provide more excitement and at least for now some clarity on which team can claim the title of being the NBA’s most dominant.

While this marks the first time that two franchises have met in the finals for three straight years, the fact that neither the Cavaliers or Warriors are among the big-market marquee franchises of the NBA has made it a bit harder to garner the type of excitement past NBA rivalries have enjoyed.

However, what the cities may not be prime time, both have marquee superstars.

Leading the way is LeBron James, who is without question the best player of this generation and is now in the conversation when discussing the best players in NBA history. Counting his four-straight appearances (and two titles) with the Miami Heat, James is making his seventh straight NBA Finals appearance.

Last year James finally accomplished his longtime mission of bringing an NBA Champions to Cleveland. While there isn’t the same sense of urgency as a year ago, winning another title would be another high mark on James’ career resume. Read the rest of this entry →

Vintage Video: Michael Jordan Becomes MICHAEL JORDAN 1

Posted on May 07, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Lifting the Bulls over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1989 NBA Playoffs helped propel Michael Jordan to NBA Super stardom.

Lifting the Bulls over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1989 NBA Playoffs helped propel Michael Jordan to NBA Super stardom.

Prior to the 1989 NBA playoffs, Michael Jordan was already known as one of the best players in the NBA.  He was a three-time NBA scoring champion and had already earned his first NBA MVP Award. However, Jordan didn’t yet have a signature playoff moment. That all changed 28 years ago on May 7, 1989.

After first round playoff exits in each of Jordan’s first three playoff appearances, the Bulls had finally advanced to the second round in 1988. However, they lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Detroit Pistons.

Facing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the opening round of the 1989 playoffs, the Bulls were on the brink of being eliminated in the first round for the fourth time in five years. The best-of-five series was tied at two games each and the Cavaliers led by a single point (100-99) when Jordan and the Bulls broke the huddle with three seconds remaining.

It was in those three seconds that Jordan started his rise from NBA star to all-time legend.

Taking the inbounds pass, Jordan drove to the foul line and then took a jump shot over the outraced arm of Cleveland guard Craig Ehlo. As the ball fell through the next, Jordan jumped in joy and pumped his fist as the Bulls celebrated.

Though they eventually lost in the Eastern Conference Finals, Jordan was now established as a clutch player and the legend continued to grow.

Two years later the Bulls won their first NBA title and Jordan was on his way to being known as the greatest of all-time.

Conversely, the shot by Jordan proved to be a dagger for the Cavaliers. The struggled the next two seasons before reaching the Eastern Conference finals in 1992 (losing to Jordan and the Bulls). While the Bulls went on to win six NBA Championships, the Cavaliers never advanced out of the Eastern Conference while losing in the opening round six times between 1989 and 1998.

Check out video from the first defining playoff shot of Jordan’s career.
Read the rest of this entry →

Are the Warriors and Cavaliers on Another Collision Course? 1

Posted on December 17, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Though the season is less than two months old, it seems likely that Stephen Curry and LeBron James will be meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

Though the season is less than two months old, it seems likely that Stephen Curry and LeBron James will be meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

The NBA season is less than two months old, but it already seems clear that we have a pretty good idea of where things are heading.

If you were putting down betting odds, it would be a pretty safe bet that come June, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors will be facing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals for the third straight year, but anyone who is interested in the top betting websites can click here and enter sportsbettingsitez.co.uk to give the online sports gaming experience a try.

After winning an NBA record 73 games a year ago, the Warriors added one of the top five players in the NBA during the offseason with the addition of Kevin Durant. After losing two of their first six games, the Warriors have lost only two more times and again have the best record in the NBA with a 23-4 mark.

Though they may not finish the season with as many regular season victories as a year ago, the Warriors are arguably a better team than a year ago. Their scoring average is up 2.4 points per contest and they are connecting on 49.4% of their field goals, compared to 48.7% a year ago.

The addition of Durant has given them a third scorer capable of posting big numbers any night. Though he is third on the team in shots attempts, Durant is leading the team in scoring at 25.5 points per contest and is second at 8.4 rebounds per contest.

Though Curry’s overall statistics are down a bit from his MVP numbers from a year ago, he is still averaging 24.9 points and 5.9 assists per contest.

While Klay Thompson’s scoring average is down slightly (from 22.1 to 21.7 ppg), his recent 60 point game is a reminder that he is an elite level scorer.

The Golden State player whose statistical numbers have taken the biggest hit following the addition of Durant is Draymond Green. Still an important player for the Warriors, his scoring has dropped from 14 to 10.8 points per game and he is averaging 8.5 rebounds per game (compared to 9.5 last season).

As was the case a year ago, the true test for the Warriors will come in the postseason. Last year they overcame Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. This year, with Durant now wearing their uniform, it appears the San Antonio Spurs will provide the biggest challenge. Read the rest of this entry →

Will LeBron James be at Full Strength as Cleveland Cavaliers Start the Regular Season? 1

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Andre Smith
After playing very little in the preseason, can LeBron James be ready for the regular season.

After playing very little in the preseason, can LeBron James be ready for the regular season.

While there have been some questions about whether an anti-inflammation shot that LeBron James received earlier this month would keep him off the court for the Cleveland Cavaliers season opener on October 27, the superstar is saying that he will be ready to face the Chicago Bulls in the opener.

Of course, the bigger question is whether the injury and shot will hamper the four-time MVP as he and the Cavaliers look to go a step further than a year ago by winning the NBA Title.

This news of him receiving a shot doesn’t come as a shock to many considering that the player also received a similar injection in January where he was inactive for two weeks. According to the team coach, David Blatt, the team will be couscous, but he expects James to be on the court for the opener. A league source was quoted saying that they trust that LeBron would respond well to the shot just like he did earlier this year and will be fit for the upcoming season.

After playing, albeit minimally, in the first two preseason games, James has missed the final five exhibition games and the LeBron-less Cavs haven’t been in good form. It took a 40-point third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks to keep the Cavaliers from going winless.

If anyone was to bet on the Cleveland Cavaliers starting the regular season on a high note, then they would be in for a surprise. Critics are in the opinion that maybe the Cavs don’t really take the exhibition schedule very seriously and would rather rest their best players waiting for the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry →

Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors are the NBA Midseason Leaders, But Will They Be Standing in June? 8

Posted on January 31, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors have the NBA turned upside down.

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors have the NBA turned upside down.

At the halfway point of the 2014-2015 NBA season the league seems to be turned upside down.

The best records in the league are held by the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors, two teams with marginal pedigrees.

The Warriors last hoisted the NBA championship trophy 40 years ago when Rick Barry and Jamaal Wilkes led the way.

The last championship won by the Hawks was in 1958 when the team was based in St. Louis and Bob Pettit was the quintessential NBA star.

Conversely, two teams with nearly half of the titles in NBA history between them, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, are out of contention and already looking at next season.

According to top sports betting sites listed at www.sportsbettingacumen.com, the Warriors and Hawks are now among the favorites to win the NBA title.

However, given that neither team has a great track record of playoff performance, it is hard to slot them in as the likely finalists just yet.

Even with a 36-8 mark to start the season and two legitimate stars in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, it will be tough for the Warriors to make it out of the tough Western Conference. With seven teams in the conference already with 30 victories, the Phoenix Suns close behind (28 wins) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (23-23) now healthy and likely to push for a spot in the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry →

NBA Won’t Be The Same Without Shaquille O’Neal 9

Posted on June 02, 2011 by Dean Hybl

At his peak Shaquille O'Neal was the most dominant player in the NBA.

There is little debate  that Shaquille O’Neal, who finally announced yesterday that he was retiring from the NBA, stuck around a couple years too long, but even the memories of him laboring up and down the floor for the Boston Celtics cannot taint his career as one of the best players of his generation.

We are quick today to throw out the names of Lebron, Kobe and Derrick Rose when discussing the best player in the NBA, but when Michael Jordan retired from the NBA for the second time in 1998, his position as the best player in the game didn’t go to a forward or guard, but instead to a 7-foot-1 center who was as athletic as any big man in league history.

From the time he entered the NBA with his fresh personality and illuminating smile, Shaquille O’Neal was more than a great player, he was a dominant presence both on and off the court.

During his four seasons in Orlando, he captivated the city and the league. Teaming with Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott, he led Orlando to the NBA Finals in 1995 and could have likely spent a decade making Orlando a basketball power.

But Shaq always had his eye on more than just basketball and after just four seasons in Orlando left for the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles.

When Shaq was selected in 1996 as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history after just four years in the league he wasn’t chosen as much on the merits of his accomplishments as the promise of what he could become. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Joe Cronin: Player-Manager
      October 1, 2017 | 8:21 am
      Joe Cronin

      Joe Cronin

      In recognition of the start of the baseball playoffs, we recognize as the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month a man who managed pennant winning teams in Washington and Boston and spent more than decade as a player-manager.

      When the Boston Red Sox acquired Joe Cronin following the 1934 season they didn’t just get an All-Star player, they also got a new manager.

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