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.

Top NBA New Year’s Resolutions for 2018

With the NBA season about a third of the way through a new year will arrive. A look back at 2017 could be a year some teams may want to forget about. Let’s just say the Cavaliers definitely do not want to look back at the summer of 2017. The Boston Celtics perhaps more or less Danny Angie may want a few decades to go by and hopefully then Isaiah Thomas has given some sort of forgiveness for the trade that sent him to Cleveland in return for Kyrie Irving. Time will tell if Oklahoma City Thunder’s GM Sam Presti is satisfied with his summer of 2017 as the Thunder acquired Paul George and Carmelo Anthony at the expense of young talent thriving in Indiana. Yes, Victor Oladipo.

Here is a look at some resolutions at few New Year’s Resolutions for the NBA.

Oklahoma City Thunder

2017 Overview: A slow start was expected as three All-Stars joined forces in Loud City. It was expected that the chemistry would take some time to gel, however, the questioning is now is this latest Presti experiment going to even work? The Thunder have hovered around a .500 record but finally hitting stride at the end of the year. The shooting of the big three saw early struggles as they became the worst shooters in the league alongside rookie Donovan Mitchell. For what it’s worth the Thunder have a win against a healthy Warriors team and recently a solid victory against the Rockets on Christmas Day, however, without Chris Paul playing. The expectation is for this team to be a top-four contender in a loaded Western Conference. The Thunder are riding a high note at the end of the year as they’ve won 6 straight games.

2018 Resolution: Paul George is an unrestricted free agent after this season and the Thunder locked up Russell Westbrook to the biggest contract extension this off-season. Carmelo Anthony is now riding the tail of his career and definitely not Lebron James efficient in year 15. Billy Donovan will need to solve the chemistry issues and find a way for his stars to have more efficient shooting nights. With a more questionable bench than the competition in the West, elevated play for Alex Abrines, Jerami Grant, and Josh Huestis would boost the Thunder’s depth. Russell Westbrook will be the motor but the biggest question mark of this season is verifying can he be efficient alongside two stars. Making his teammates and stars better could help persuade George to stay and take a short-term contract in hopes of a championship sooner than as a Los Angeles Laker. Maybe we are just panicking at the wrong time and by April this team will appear ready to combat the wild west. A deep playoff run and perhaps the first NBA Finals for PG13 and Melo could help too.

Solving the instant replay woes

2017 Overview: Adam Silver has my support as the most progressive Commissioner of all-time. Whenever there seems to be some doubt that the NBA isn’t in front of handling their issues he swoops in and slam dunks a solution. Case and point, teams were resting players and players requested more rest. Notice that the NBA season came just a tad bit earlier this year in mid-October? Thanks to Silver and a bit of finessing through scheduling ideas the NBA has reduced its back-to-back games, given more days off in between games, and also fewer games being played per week. Most importantly, the Commish also has been proactive in speeding up the total game time. This year teams only are able to call two timeouts in the last three minutes of games. Silver is also thinking about you players being traded during February. The trade deadline was moved up to the Thursday prior to All-Star weekend as this now gives those players an adjustment period to get themselves and families situated in a new city.

2018 Resolution: As we saw in the Christmas Day match-up against the Cavaliers and Warriors create controversy with the replay system let’s re-evaluate. LeBron James was clearly fouled by Kevin Durant according to the NBA’s last two-minute report. Instead of calling a foul the referees were able to review the play in which James clearly was the last player to touch the ball before it went out of bounds. A lose-lose situation for James and the Cavaliers as even with the ownership of the NBA admitting to their mistake, the books log the victory for Golden State still. Here is a resolution for the NBA Board of Governer’s: If you can review that a foul should have been called then give your referees the in-game ability to correct their ignorance. How about extending it to retract an offensive player throwing themselves into an innocent defender in the last two minutes? After all, didn’t Adam Silver want to make the game a bit more transparent? The idea is a bit far-fetched but hey at least making the reversal in-game than the day after without the ability to change the outcome is better or am I just dreaming?

Healthy Houston

2017 Overview: Chris Paul has missed about half of Houston’s games this season due to injuries. No have no fear as The Beard is used to playing without the All-Star guard and keeping the Rockets afloat in the West. It was all staying about the arms race for Rockets GM Daryl Morey this summer as he acquired Paul from the Clippers.

2018 Resolution: CP3 at his finest and healthiest. It would be a complete disaster and back to square one for Houston should they lose Paul long-term this season and/or for some of the post-season. Perhaps, most of the resting now is an over-exaggeration as the Rockets are sitting atop the West right with Golden State. Why rush back Paul when you’re still able to get the job done against most NBA teams with Harden at the helm? Makes sense to me if Morey is low key keeping his new All-Star for prime time in April. While James Harden is fully capable for making his teammates better and hit big shots in the stretch, what’s better than one All-Star? Two.

Progressing the G-League

2017 Overview: The NBA renamed the Development League (D-League) to the G-League for this season. The official sponsor is now Gatorade and the main focus is to promote player growth for a more direct route to the NBA. The rise of the league could grow even further as the NCAA scandal found Adidas executive James Gatto, multiple schools, and assistant coaches involved with money laundering, bribery, and wire fraud.

2018 Resolution: To make a better 2018 after the re-brand the NBA can push their resources to attract recruits and have them highlight the G-League instead. Maybe a concern from LaVar Ball’s end as he has announced his Big Baller League to disrupt the current process of the NCAA. Either way, both ideas sound great and its the best time to give future recruits an idea of getting paid plus development in the mix.

Lonzo Ball backs Father Ball

2017 Overview: From UCLA to the NBA Draft and now a Laker, Lonzo Ball has faced high expectations. Some aren’t expectations that he set forth for himself. His farther LaVar Ball has claimed quite a lot including that Zo is better than Stephen Curry. Father Ball has predicted that his first-born son would be drafted as Laker but lately, Zo has not lived up to much of the potential hype. While Curry was not as prolific as a shooter in his rookie season he still maintained shooting the ball 46-percent from the field and averaged 17 points and 6 assists a game. Zo is currently struggling to shoot the ball at 35-percent while only scoring 10 points a game and 7 assists per game.

2018 Resolution: Progress should be the keyword for Lonzo and his father. The Lakers will probably fall into another lottery pick and go into an off-season where they try to steal Paul George away from the Thunder. LaVar might promise the playoffs still but in a loaded Western Conference that may be a task too mighty for the Lakers this season. With Kyle Kuzma having a sensational rookie season this is definitely not a good look for the promises that LaVar has established his son to deliver on. Zo will need to hopefully give some more thoughts on taking better shots or focusing on his offensive strengths now until his jump shot arrives. A strong finish for the eldest Ball son could help bring more confidence to free agents looking at the Lakers this summer.

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Warriors get last laugh in controversial ending of Finals rematch

With just under 25-seconds remaining LeBron James drove to the rim but was met by Kevin Durant and his length. The whistles were swallowed and as the ball reached out of bounds, after a short review it was determined that James last made contact with the ball. The Warriors cheered on led by Durant who was excited as the Warriors would eventually take command of the Finals rematch. The last time these two teams met KD hugged his mom on the floor of the Oracle as the Warriors raised their second championship in the last three years. A sense of defeat yet again for the Cavaliers who had their own shooting struggles on Christmas Day.

The Cavs finished the game shooting 32-percent from the field and 42-percent from the three-point line. Yet the entire game the Warriors led by no more than nine points, which happened only in the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers remained resilient as Jae Crowder and Kevin Love each hit a three-point basket late in the fourth, assisting on those of course James. The game was tied with just under two minutes as James converted on a floater in the lane. Thanks to a Jordan Bell offensive rebound, the ball found its way to Klay Thompson who put the Warriors ahead for good with a three-point field goal on the next play.

The controversy will follow as James argues that he was fouled on his last drive to the basket. Durant came across James and made contact with his arms and shoulder before making any contact with the ball. Both players differ on the play.

“He fouled me twice,” James said of his drive to the hoop with the Cavs down 95-92 when Durant blocked James’ shot and he lost it out of bounds. “But, whatever. What are you going to do about it?” When asked about the same plays Durant’s response was, “He’s too big,” Durant said. “He’s too big. He’s too big for that. He’s too big. That ain’t no foul.”

As if it came down to the battle of the stars, James finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists. James also finished with 7 turnovers while the Cavaliers finished with 14 as a team. An all-around effort from Durant was the key as he finished with 25 points (8-of-19 shooting), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a game-high 5 blocks during Monday’s victory. If any improvement from Durant this season its the challenge of slowing James who is shooting a career best and having one of his own efficient seasons in year 15.

Stephen Curry missed his ninth straight game due to an ankle injury he sustained during the Warriors visit in New Orleans on 12/4. The MVP guard is not expected to be rushed back and especially as the Warriors continued to have dominance from KD.

After Monday’s loss the Cavaliers are now third place in the East with a 27-10 record. They will round out a quick West coast trip in Sacramento on Wednesday night and Saturday in Utah before heading back home to host the Trailblazers in the new year.

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

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Minnesota Timberwolves 2017-2018 Season Preview

Minnesota Timberwolves

Last Season: 31-51

2017-2018 Preview:

A draft day trade reunited two familiar friends. Jimmy Butler joins his former coach Tom Thibodeau in a neighboring state of Minnesota. The Timberwolves didn’t stop at just Butler. Taj Gibson who became a free agent after a short stint in Oklahoma City decided to join in on the fun. The free agency success for the T-Wolves helped bring in a much better roster than what Thibbs has been working with the past couple of years.

Gone is their long-time point-guard Ricky Rubio who had rumored to be on the market at the trade deadline in February. Rubio was traded for only a protected future round draft pick. Almost seems like a desperation to get rid of Rubio. Perhaps, it was all a part of the plan as Rubio turns into Jeff Teague and Aaron Brooks. A key loss would be Zach LaVine who is coming off knee surgery however, it’s even better his replacement turns into Butler.

The growth of Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins also depends on how successful Minnesota will be this season. It also seems as the size and length of these two and Butler will make it tough for teams to score at will. Defensively, this team is expected to be one of the best with Thibodeau at the reigns. Minnesota should easily be the easiest team to have the biggest turnaround from last season. Certainly, higher expectations and a tougher Western Conference should be taken into consideration. However, improving from 31-wins last season with a revamped roster is expected. Competing against the top-tier of Thunder, Warriors, Rockets, and Spurs may not include the young T-Wolves this year. They’ll stay middle of the pack out West with the Clippers, Grizzlies, and Blazers.

Key additions: Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, Aaron Brooks

Key Losses: Ricky Rubio, Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Nikola Pekovic

2017-2018 Prediction: 48-34

Milwaukee Bucks 2017-2018 Season Preview

Milwaukee Bucks

Key Additions: DJ Wilson (R), Sterling Brown (R), Gerald Green

Key Loses: None

Record Last Year: 42-40

The Milwaukee Bucks are returning every key player from last years team that made the playoffs and pushed the Toronto Raptors to 6 games in the 1st round of the playoffs. Just like last season, Milwaukee will start the season missing a key starter. This year the Bucks will start the season without Forward, Jabari Parker. Parker who averaged a career-high 20pts a game last season before tearing his ACL for the 2nd time in February. Last year the Bucks started the season without starter Kris Middleton who then returned only for the bucks to lose Parker. Parker has a target return date of sometime in February. Giannis Antetokounmpo took a huge step in his development last season. The Greek Freak put up 23 points, 5 assists, 9 rebounds, two blocks, and almost 2 steals, last season on his way to All-NBA 2nd team honors. The Greek Freak looks to improve upon his breakout season and get the bucks back into the playoffs. The Bucks also had a nice surprise in 2nd round draft pick Malcolm Brogdon who became the 1st player selected in the 2nd round to win the Rookie Of The Year award. Brogdon averaged 10 points, four assists, and three rebounds per game last year. The Bucks added a 1st round pick DJ Wilson an athletic big out of Michigan and 2nd round pick Sterling Brown the younger brother of former NBA player Shannon Brown. The Bucks also added veteran SG/SF Gerald Green. Depending on health and the improvement of The Greek Freak look for the Bucks to improve upon last season and be one of the top defensive teams in the league.

Prediction: 48-34 2nd in Division 5th in the Eastern Conference