Struggling Cavaliers host and Warriors for regular season last rematch

The day of celebration for Martin Luther King Jr. is becoming a familiar affair for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. The NBA has chosen the designated holiday for the second rematch of the season for the two finalists from last June. The last time these two teams met was in Golden State on Christmas day where Kevin Durant’s defense (or fouls per the NBA), helped lead the Warriors to a 99-92 victory. Stephen Curry did not play due to an ankle injury and Isaiah Thomas was still recovering from his hip injury.

A new year and a new look at the rivalry will continue tonight on TNT, 8 PM EST. With both teams geared up with their full healthy roster, besides Derrick Rose for Cleveland, the expectation for a playoff or Finals atmosphere will bring excitement to the primetime game. What would a loss do to a team like Cleveland right now?

The Cavaliers have lost three straight games and currently 3-7 in their last 10 games. Also included in the last three games is a common trend of allowing 125 points per game. The January blues continues as we remembered January of 2017. The famous “needing more playmakers” comment from LeBron James sent a frenzy throughout the media. The Cavaliers struggled to beat the Warriors in the 2017 MLK showdown in a 126-91 route.

Coming off a Friday loss in Indiana where they led by 22-points there has to be some concern for the Cavaliers. Another route on MLK Monday could mentally strain the Cavs however, even last year the Cavaliers finished the season 10-14 in March and April. They would then go 12-1 prior to the Finals where they met the Warriors and went down 3-0 quickly.

With most of Cleveland’s veterans at least 30 or older they could be more reluctant to go full speed in the middle of January. The average age of the James, Derrick Rose Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love, Kyle Korver, and J.R. Smith amounts to 32 years old. While the NBA schedule was rebuilt to accommodate more rest, father time still can have its effects on the 82-game season.

On the Golden State front, it’s all the upper hand and confidence that they are the team to beat in the NBA. The defending champs are currently 8-2 in their last 10 games. They have defeated the Rockets without James Harden in that mix. The Warriors are currently on game three tonight of a five-game road trip. They will end at Houston on January 20th where they can see both Chris Paul and Harden this time. A loss to the Cavaliers tonight wouldn’t necessarily put a dent in the Warriors but to route, a struggling Cleveland team yet again could solidify that James and company have a lot of ground to make up.

Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 4: Paul Pierce demands special night, LaVar Ball talks again & Mid-Season Awards

Chevall and DeMario discuss the top NBA stories and also share their NBA Mid-Season award winners. Paul Pierce demands a special night, LaVar Ball sounds off on Luke Walton while in Lithuania, and Lebron’s thoughts on the H&M advertisement disaster is discussed. Tune in now! (Warning: NSFW language)

Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 3: IT Returns, 2018 NBA Expectations, Early NBA All-Star Picks

Chevall and DeMario welcome in 2018 with a new episode! The duo speaks on the IT return and his future impact on the Cavaliers, 2018 expectations they would like to see, and also pick their starting five for the All-Star game in February. (Warning: NSFW Content)

 

Top NBA teams heading into 2018

2018 New Year Top 10 Power Rankings

1. Warriors  (29-8)
The defending champions haven’t missed a beat this season. It seems like the only team that can beat the Warriors are the Warriors. With Stephen Curry, Shaun Livingston, and Draymond Green missing some time due to injuries the Warriors were still able to take care of business. Riding the wave of Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, the Warriors had a very impressive Christmas Day win against a mostly healthy Cleveland Cavaliers team.

2. Boston Celtics (30-10)
I’m sure nobody in their right mind thought that Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics would have so much success this early. Hats of to the Celtics they are playing great basketball. With basically a whole new starting lineup head coach Brad Stevens has the Celtics playing great team ball. With a 16-5 home record, the Celtics are taking care of business at home. Barring any more injuries, the Celtics have the talent to finish top of Eastern Conference going into the All-Star break.

3. Houston Rockets (26-9)
The Houston Rockets lead by MVP candidate James Harding are looking like a real threat to compete against the Warriors come playoff time. Head Coach Mike D’Antoni has always been an offensive mastermind but this year the Rockets are actually playing some defense. With the additions of Chris Paul, PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah A Moute have helped the Rockets become a better defensive team. In the past, the Rockets haven’t been very good outside of H-Town but this year the Rockets are one of the better road teams(12-4) away record.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (24-12)
Missing Isaiah Thomas and Lord knows where Derrick Rose is the Cavaliers are playing decent basketball. Leading the way of course is LeBron James. James is playing out of his mind at 33 years old James is shooting the three ball way better than he has ever been. The Cavaliers seem to be coasting through the regular season. One positive sign for the Cavaliers is the play of Kevin Love. Love switched position from the power forward to center and it has helped. The Cavaliers are have beat the teams that they are supposed to beat for the most part. A healthy Cavaliers team will be scary but for now, I am not impressed.

5. Toronto Raptors (24-10)
We the North! The Raptors are kind of going under the radar, with a 13-1 home record people should be talking about the Raptors. Leading The Raptors is Compton native DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan is playing like a bonfire star, the Raptors are getting a solid contribution from everybody. The Raptors are playing hard on both ends but it seems like everybody is finally buying into the defensive scheme head coach Dwayne Casey has been preaching. Flying under the radar is perfectly fine for the Raptors right now.

6. San Antonio Spurs (25-12)
The Spurs continue to have success no matter who is on the roster. Playing most of the season without Kawki Leonard and Tony Parker the Spurs have played well which shouldn’t be surprising to anybody. LaMarcus Aldridge is leading the way. Aldridge is playing like he did in Portland. The Spurs have done most of there damage at home (17-2) with Leonard and Parker healthy the Spurs should be in the race another title.

7. Washington Wizards (21-16)
The Wizards are the weirdest team in the NBA coming off probably there best win against the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day. The Wizards are just so inconsistent. At home, they look like one of the best teams in the East (12-5) home record but on the road, they look like an average team fighting for an 8th spot (8-10) road record. The Wizards will need to improve against some of the bottom feeder teams and stay consistent to keep in line with the competition of East.

8. Oklahoma City Thunder (20-17)
On paper OKC looks great with three HOF players and some decent bench players but should be way better. It will take time for Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George to get it together. OKC hasn’t looked awful but oftentimes looked confuse especially on the offensive end. Thunder fans should not be scared because it’s a long season and in the NBA talent win games and they have plenty of that, but for now just be patient. A recent 6-game win streak and better shooting from the Thunder’s big three is definitely a step in the right direction for 2018.

9. Detroit Pistons (20-15)
The Pistons will be without starting point guard Reggie Jackson for a couple of weeks. Without Jackson, the Pistons are relying on Andre Drummond to keep dominating the paint. Drummond improved all around. They have plenty of depth to compete without Reggie Jackson, with a great home win against the San Antonio Spurs. The Pistons should be in good shape to at least stay in the middle of the East for a playoff berth.

10. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-14)
Minnesota Timberwolves might be going to the playoffs for the first time since Kevin Garnet was wearing a Timberwolves uniform. Timberwolves are playing well coming off a good win against a young and tough Lakers team on Christmas Day. Timberwolves are playing great and it seems like Jimmy Butler is finally getting comfortable with his new teammates. With Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns improving the Timberwolves should be a force in the West.

NBA 2017 Christmas Day Preview

Hopefully, you’ve gotten what you asked Santa for and here is a fair warning. Complete the gift unwrapping by 12 PM EST. As always the NBA has provided another year of Christmas Day games.

Meanwhile, some of the youth of the NBA has been given the green light to showcase their talents this Christmas. The Philadelphia 76ers will face the New York Knicks in The Garden. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid feature the youth alongside Kristaps Porzingas. The late game will feature the Minnesota Timberwolves visiting the Los Angeles Lakers in which Karl Anthony-Towns and Jimmy Butler face-off against the new era of Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma.

Of course, your super teams are getting a Christmas Day run as the Houston Rockets visit the Oklahoma City Thunder. What is Christmas without Kyrie Irving going up against another Eastern Conference rival point-guard in John Wall and the Washington Wizards?

Here are some quick highlights in case you’re wondering what to expect for in the NBA’s winter wonderland.

Philadelphia 76ers vs New York Knicks – 12:00 PM EST ESPN

Buzz: Joel Embiid returned back to action after a three-game absence on Saturday night. He missed the previous games with a sore back. The Sixers are losers of five straight games and currently sitting at the 10th place spot out East. The Knicks last played in Detroit Friday night and have some rest as they are the host team. Embiid is expected to play as he matches up against the Unicorn.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors – 3:00 PM EST ABC

Buzz: These Finals rematch games never get gold. For the third straight year, these two teams met in the Finals in the previous seasons. It’s another Kevin Durant vs Lebron James showdown. The Warriors are coming off a Saturday night loss to the Denver Nuggets in which their 11-game win streak was snapped. Steve Kerr advises that there is no rush in playing Stephen Curry who is out with an ankle injury. Without Curry, KD is averaging 32.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 3 blocks. The Cavaliers will still be without Isaiah Thomas.

Washington Wizards vs Boston Celtics – 5:30 PM EST ABC

Buzz: There is a reason for these two teams to show up on Christmas Day. A rivalry the escalated in the season but also the Wizards were knocked out of the Eastern Conference Semifinals last year by the Celtics in a 7-game series. Kyrie Irving now enters the mix as John Wall has a new foe to focus on. Both teams are coming off victories from Saturday night in which they won by a significant margin. The Celtics are 5-5 in the last 10 games. This match-up perhaps could be a preview of a heated playoff series.

Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder – 8:00 PM EST ABC

Buzz: Another playoff series rematch ensues here. However, this time the Thunder has reloaded to counter James Harden and his friends. Well, the same can be said about the Rockets except Chris Paul is likely to miss the Christmas Day match-up. Paul did not play in Friday’s game against the Clippers. The Thunder are coming off four straight wins as they defeated the Jazz twice and the Hawks. Perhaps another playoff preview and a good test to measure the Thunder should Paul be available to play.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs Los Angeles Lakers – 10:30 PM EST TNT

Buzz: The No. 2 draft pick will not get his first action on Christmas Day due to a shoulder injury. Lonzo Ball, of course, is the center of attention but let’s not ignore their other Rookie Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma dropped 38-points earlier in the week but also became the first Laker rookie to score a minimum of 25 points in three consecutive games since Jerry West. The Timberwolves are quietly sustaining themselves out West as they are winners of three straight games and currently in fourth place in the West with a 20-13 record. Brandon Ingram was a late scratch for Saturday’s game against Portland and his status for Monday’s game is unknown. Without Ingram, the duties in slowing down Kuzma should be slightly easier for the Butler and Andrew Wiggins on the perimeter.

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Shoot or Pass Podcast: Episode 2 – Early Surprises, OKC Struggles, and LeBron’s Year 15

Chevall Kanhai is joined by DeMario Jackson for another NBA exclusive episode! The duo talk about their early surprises, Oklahoma City Thunder’s struggles, and DeMario praises Lebron for his fabulous year 15. Homage is paid to Kobe and some LaVar talk ensues.

OKC’s struggles best defined from Hoops Central and the video in the show referenced is below.

Tweet us your thoughts!

@DeMarioJackson_
@BaselineChevy

Follow @BaselineTimes on Twitter!

Cavaliers trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas

The Boston Celtics have acquired All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers for point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s 2018 unprotected first-round pick, sources tell ESPN.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN is reporting the deal is done and official. The trade finally adds closure to the trade request Irving shockingly made in Mid-July. Irving joins the Celtics with Gordon Hayward who signed as a free agent this summer.

Thomas is recovering from hip surgery this off-season and entering his final year under contract. The Cavaliers will have to make a decision on LeBron James and Thomas at the end of the 2018 season. With the speculation of James booking it to Los Angeles the 2018 unprotected first-round pick can favor Cleveland achieving a top draft pick to recoup the loss of its superstars.

The Celtics and Cavaliers will open the season in Cleveland on Oct. 17.

Source: Jeff Goodman of ESPN

What Marvin Bagley Reclassifying Means For The Celtics

A live look at Celtics fans right now.
Image result for happy gif

Marvin Bagley is the best NBA prospect in at any level. He was the favorite to be the #1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft. Unfortunately for the Celtics their last pick from the Nets comes in 2018, so they were primed to just miss out on him. Until he reclassified. I’m not sure how exactly he managed to move up a grade during the middle of August, but I don’t care, I’ll take it. 


In case you were curious why people are so excited about this kid here are some highlights:

 

The 2018 draft class is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS and Marvin Bagley is the best of the bunch. Bagley vs Porter will be an interesting debate all year, but I think Bagley will end up being the better all around player. The 2018 draft has five players that could legitimately be #1 draft picks in other years. Marvin Bagley, Michael Porter, Luka Doncic, Deandre Ayton and Mohamed Bamba are all #1 level guys and the Celtics will likely have two top five picks next year.

 

 

Imagine the Celtics getting Bagley and Ayton! Adding those two the young core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart is downright scary for other teams. That starting lineup has the potential to be dominant on both sides of the floor. If the ping pong balls were to fall the Celtics way again, we could be looking at a potential homegrown dynasty. Not to mention the stars they already have in place like Isaiah Thomas and Gordon Hayward.  Celtics fans should be salivating at the potential of this team because things are looking really good for the guys in green.

 

NBA releases full schedule for all 30 teams

The NBA has released the full schedule for the upcoming 2017-2018 NBA Season. Last week the opening week and Christmas Day games were announced.

The schedule will come with an earlier start with the season set to kick-off on October 17th this year. Commissioner Adam Silver promised a more favorable schedule in order to accommodate more rest. Teams will see a reduction in games played per week and some adjustments made to the travel plans to compensate for the extra rest. No team will be playing four games in five nights.

The season will kick-off with the Boston Celtics visiting the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, October 17th. The defending champions, Golden State Warriors will follow-up and host the Houston Rockets that same night. Both games will be broadcasted on TNT.

As a few star players have exchanged zip codes there are a few notable games to take note of with their return to their former city. Paul George will get his first look in a Thunder uniform when he faces his former team in Indiana on December 13th. The game will be featured on ESPN. The Bulls reunion in Minnesota will make its way to Chicago on February 9th. Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson coached by Tom Thibodeau will make their only trip to Chicago then.

Gordon Hayward who opted to sign with the Boston Celtics will return to Utah on March 28th, that game will also be featured on ESPN. Chris Paul who was traded to the Houston Rockets will face his former team the Los Angeles Clippers on January 15th.

Other notable match-ups

October 26th: Pelicans @ Kings – DeMarcus Cousins was traded on All-Star Sunday and never got a chance to play against his former team, the Sacramento Kings.

November 15th: 76ers @ Lakers – The no.1 and no.2 pick respectfully will face off for the first time. Lonzo Ball and Markell Fultz are the top two picks in the 2017 NBA Draft. The match-up also comes with a little bit of social media trash talk as Joel Embiid was outspoken on his thoughts with LaVar Ball.

November 22nd: Warriors @ Thunder – Kevin Durant makes his return to Oklahoma City yet again. This time instead of a cherry on top of a cupcake there is a ring. Does the OKC crowd warm up to a champion?

January 15th: Warriors @ Cavaliers – The second game of the two-game series will be played in Cleveland. The interesting part about this game is if Kyrie will still be a member of the Cavaliers this late in the season. Should he not be traded prior to the start of the season.

January 3rd: Thunder @ Lakers – Only because Paul George is supposedly only considering to head home after this season. Laker fans will be showing up in already made PG-13 Laker jerseys attempting to woo him over to the dark side.

View the full 2017-2018 schedule here

Chevall Kanhai
NBA Baseline Times Contributor
@BaselineChevy

The Fantasy of an NBA Buyout Clause

In the foreign market of Soccer or better known as futbol, an expensive transaction is about to go down with one of the world’s best players. Barcelona’s Neymar Jr. is expected to have his buyout clause paid by Paris-Saint Germain. The €222 million buyout clause is expected to be paid in full. Neymar Jr. is now expected to move on and make €30m a year after taxes as a member of PSG. The trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar Jr. is broken up as they were a dominating super team of their own.

In 2014-2015, their first season together the trio won the  La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles respectively. Messi, Suárez, and Neymar scored 122 goals in all competitions, the most in a season for an attacking trio in Spanish football history. In the midst of their run Barcelona won 39 games in a row until April 2nd, 2016 with a 2–1 defeat to Real Madrid at Camp Nou. One-third of the trio is expected to disband as Neymar Jr. seeks a higher paying gig over the dominance of Barcelona in the La Liga. Although as of late, La Liga refuses to accept the buyout money, this idea of buying-out superstars is a curious invention in another league.

In the time and day of an NBA super team flexing their almighty strength, the Golden State Warriors currently have four All-Star players under contract. Stephen Curry signed the NBA’s first “supermax” deal this offseason in which he will be making $201 million over 5-years. The landscape of the NBA has shifted greatly in one summer after the Warriors showed how dominant they can be against a Lebron James lead Cavaliers and a 4-1 NBA Finals victory this past June.

Let’s think about this summer so far in the NBA. All of the superstar exchanges were a result of trades that occurred in a span of three weeks.  A domino effect of Kevin Durant choosing to join the 73-win Warriors last summer trickles into the summer of 2017 and 2018 the speculation gets even greater if Lebron will jump ship again from Cleveland. Signs of the times carry on as Kyrie Irving has requested a trade from the Cavaliers and would rather run game by himself instead of in Lebron’s shadow.

I’m never really a fan of “what if” but let’s play a game this summer shall we?

Money talks and bullshit walks. The possibility of an NBA franchise showing up to a player and saying we can buy you freedom if you come play with us is intriguing, right? The potential suitors Stephen Curry or Draymond Green could have makes you wonder. Anyone willing to spend some serious cash to break-up a super team?

The Carmelo Anthony drama continues in New York and with a no-trade clause in place the All-Star forward has his way in determining his future team. The Knicks may not be keen to buy out his contract as it does not allow them to have pieces in return for Anthony. Since the current NBA provisions only allow for their respective teams and a player to agree to the buyout no outside negotiations with other teams can be done with said player. Imagine if a team could just swoop in and save Anthony the trouble? Sure the Knicks could be relieved of a contract and they wouldn’t get any thing more in return but Anthony ultimately would have his full rights to go where he pleases with who ever he negotiates with.

Irving would certainly have more leverage in determining where he can play. He would be allowed to meet with suitors and settle on a new contract while negotiating his buyout amount with the Cavaliers. A trade request to the front office isn’t necessary and potential suitors would line-up to “buy” the All-Star guard. Of course, likewise in the soccer world, only the rich can succeed in buying an All-Star guard from an NBA team.

Could player buyout clauses help keep a check and balance system going in the NBA? The salary cap already provides a restriction on NBA franchises from overspending and buying whoever they’d like. Luxury tax penalties aren’t the greatest on an individual owner’s pockets as well. Yet, the Golden State Warriors are still intact and plan to be for the next 4-5 years in the NBA.

Paul George is now playing next to the NBA’s reigning MVP in Oklahoma City. The Houston Rockets were able to snatch away Chris Paul from the Houston Rockets to play next to MVP Candidate James Harden. Jimmy Butler is now in Minnesota next to Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Gordon Hayward joins his former college coach Brad Stevens in Boston as the first place team in last’s year Eastern Conference also grabbed Jayson Tatum at no. 3 in the 2017 NBA Draft. The rich just keep getting richer.

There are two realistic ways super teams currently break-up like a boy band. First, a player becomes unhappy like a Kyrie Irving who then would like to jump ship regardless of how dominant the Cavaliers are in the Eastern Conference. So, a trade request is put in while the team shuffles around for the best deal. Second, a free agency summer opens up for said superstar and they decide to take their talent elsewhere.

Again, what if teams can woo players by dangling millions more on their doorstep including a buyout clause sponsored by the buyer? Oh, I do realize that Kevin Durant did take about $9-$10 million less this summer to give the Golden State front office salary cap flexibility. However, Durant only signed a two-year deal in which he can still opt-out next season and potentially could demand a long-term deal. Stephen Curry is set to make near $40 million with his new contract. Durant’s deal is around $50 million for the two years. At $25 million a year, Durant is coming off an NBA Finals where he averaged 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.6 blocks in five games. Also, KD is the 2017 NBA Finals MVP, something Stephen Curry did not even achieve in the 2015 NBA Finals.

Sure enough, endorsements may favor KD over Curry. However, he’s already taking $10 million less and a gap of $15 million less than Curry’s super max deal. How long and how many millions will Kevin Durant wait to hold out on before seeking more money?

Now, of course, all the dynamics of a salary cap in place and the big market teams having the most money would only make the richer even richer. Perhaps the league can sponsor some of the revenue to the smaller markets? Alright, the sun is out any my eyes are awake.

As the summer high winds down and my adult beverage wears off I’m back to reality. Regardless of buying players the NBA still can mount super teams but the options to break them up is slim to none. Of course, unless you’re Kyrie Irving and demand your way out from a championship caliber team.

Chevall Kanhai
Baseline Times NBA Contributor
@BaselineChevy