Anthony Davis’ Playoff Run: Better than KD’s 2017 run?

There is no doubt that Anthony Davis’ playoff run with the Los Angeles Lakers cemented his legacy as one of the greats. But, how does it stack up against Kevin Durant’s incredible 2017 playoff run with the Golden State Warriors? The Shoot or Pass crew break it down below.

Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby SHOOT if they agree or PASS if they disagree on the following statement:

Anthony Davis’ playoff run this season is not as great as Kevin Durant’s 2017 playoff run.

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GABE – SHOOT

When Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors – the dude was UNSTOPPABLE! I mean, he was all over the freaking court. It’s close, but Durant was shooting effectively from ANYWHERE on the court. To guard this guy, you either had to trap him half court or try to get the ball out of his hands.

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RHOBY – SHOOT

I have to shoot here for two simple reasons:

1) KD has one more ring and

2) I think you always have to lean more toward the better shot-creator and primary ball-handler, who in this case is happens to also be KD.

However, if you look at both of their stats in the playoffs, they are very similar. They are both playing 35-36 mins a game – with Davis averaging 27.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg, and 3.4 apg vs. Durant’s 28.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg, and 4.3 apg. Now that Anthony Davis has a ring, the debate definitely gets tougher, as you can certainly make a compelling argument on his behalf.

Ultimately, the success both of these guys have had comes down to how well they complemented their respective teams. It was easier for KD be a pure scorer on that Golden State team, and I saw a really good comment on Reddit that described AD on this Lakers team – “AD plays like Dirk on offense and Time Duncan on defense.”

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CHEVY – SHOOT

Kevin Durant is a special player, arguably one of the best when healthy. Everyone was picking on him when he made the choice to join the Golden State Warriors as him riding coattails and taking the easy way out.

But, let’s not forget – KD was absolutely, hands down, the best player on the court during the NBA Finals that year. Remember the go-ahead three pointer he hit over LeBron James to complete the comeback and get a win in Game 3 against the Cavaliers?

It settled the case for his NBA Finals MVP bid and rightfully so. The man was hard to beat. He might have his own thing going with burner accounts on social media and all that, but it is not hard to give him credit for his contributions to the game, particularly during his 2017 playoff run. It’s kind of funny how that works, because other guys (LeBron James), are still having to demand respect despite their accomplisments.


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LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan – The G.O.A.T. Debate gets settled

ICYMI: LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are the 2020 NBA Champions!

Therefore, it’s only right we revisit the debate that is by now INGRAINED in every single NBA fan. LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan. The Shoot or Pass podcast crew settle it for once and for all it in their latest episode.

LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan. Who is the undisputed G.O.A.T. of NBA basketball? In the latest episode of the Shoot or Pass podcast, the crew puts the ultimate NBA debate to bed. Or, do they?

Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby SHOOT if they agree or PASS if they disagree on the following statement:

LeBron winning his fourth ring cements him as the Greatest NBA player of all time.

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GABE – PASS

I’m not hating! Just let me just make my case.

It’s hard to compare players over different eras. We’ve had this conversation many times, you know what I mean? If I had to pin it down, I will say LeBron James is one of the top four or five players in NBA history. You’ve got Tim Duncan in there and of course, Michael Jordan as well. Don’t forget about Bill Russell and his contributions to the game on and off the court throughout the Civil Right Movement throughout the 1960s.

(Front row) Bill Russell joined many black athletes and Muhammad Ali at the famed “Ali Summit” on June 4, 1967 | Bettmann/Corbis / AP Images

Needless to say, LeBron belongs in the conversation. Four-time regular season AND NBA Finals MVP on three different teams. Over the course of his career, he is averaging 27 points per game and holds countless records. I just cannot say he is the greatest because it is so hard to compare players across different eras. The rules were different, the levels of physicality and the disparity between teams vary. But, I won’t deny that he’s up there.

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RHOBY – JUMP BALL

I just want to preface this by saying: I HATE THIS FUCKING DEBATE.

There are just so many variables that come into play here, the most obvious one being – LEBRON ISN’T EVEN DONE PLAYING YET! It really comes down to what each one of us value the most when settling scores.

Do you look at the more obvious in the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan debate?

Michael Jordan

  • 6-0 record in the Finals and 6 rings
  • 6 NBA Finals MVPs
  • Accomplished the above on the same team (and even won more after coming out of retirement)
  • Was the better pure isolation scorer against tougher defenses
  • Arguably the better defender (he did win Defensive Player of the Year after, and LeBron hasn’t as of yet)

OR – Do you value longevity/consistency more than peak performances?

LeBron James

  • 4-6 record in the Finals and 4 rings
  • 4 NBA Finals MVPs
  • Accomplished the above on THREE different teams, most recent one in his 17th NBA season at the age of 35
  • Is the better facilitator (and better in pretty much every other category aside from scoring)
  • Playing with arguably weaker supporting casts
  • Faces more strategically complex offenses and defenses than that of the 1990s

Personally, I believe Kobe Bryant (RIP) also belongs in this conversation.

But at the end of the day, this debate will NEVER get squashed in its entirety.

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CHEVY – SHOOT

Honestly, I have to agree with a lot of what you’ve both said here. I think what’s terrible about this question, like Gabe is saying, is the idea of comparing players over different eras. Obviously, in this era, LeBron James is hands down DOMINATING it.

LeBron James, DOMINATING. | Getty Images

The older fans cry “revisionist history” and bring Michael Jordan to the conversation to try and discount the King. However, in this day and age, 17 seasons down and 35 years old LeBron is still playing at an elite level. His name is always going to be in the record books. He owns or ranks high in pretty much every NBA record – minus the shooting records, which I will admit belong to Steph Curry. Sooner or later, the younger guys in this league are going to be chasing the King in all of these All-time rankings and records.

I have to favor versatility and longevity here, but it truly is a silly debate. There’s room to honor all of the greats here. Today, we honor LeBron James after winning his fourth NBA Title with the Lakers. Earlier this year, we got relive the Chicago Bulls dynasty and honor Michael Jordan’s legacy thanks to The Last Dance.

Now, when we think about who LeBron James passes the torch of greatness to next – we can all agree it’s going to Luka Doncic.

The heir to the throne, Luka Doncic. | Associated Press


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NBA Finals Player Rankings – STUDS and DUDS

We present the Shoot or Pass Podcast’s version of NBA Finals Player Rankings – STUDS and DUDS!

A new episode of the Shoot or Pass Podcast is out now! Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby share their version of the NBA Finals Player Rankings with a segment called STUDS and DUDS. This time around, we are including players who are not currently contending for a ring, but continue to make headlines.

STUDS – THE LAKERS BENCH

I am personally picking the Lakers bench as my STUDS this week. Let’s start with the praise though, because somebody (Gabe) called them a bunch of “rag-tag” guys and they are proving to be the opposite.

It remains to be seen if their productivity will hold up throughout the rest of this NBA Finals series, however, they are complementing the play of LeBron and AD very well. They are averaging 41 points per game vs. the Miami HEAT’s zone defense and are scoring at an average of 44.9% from the field!

Guys like Rajon Rondo, Markieff Morris, and even Kyle Kuzma are coming in and knocking down shots as necessary. With Anthony Davis down low and LeBron James swinging the pass, all they have to do is make the open shot. So far, this Lakers bench is executing perfectly.

This is saying a lot about a Lakers bench that often looked pedestrian throughout the season and earlier in their playoff run. It was so bad, I was willing to volunteer myself to get out on the court and knock down shots for less than half their salaries! We’ve alluded to this before, but I will say it again, this team’s ability to flip a switch under the brightest lights is what makes them special. The Lakers supporting cast has certainly come ready to compete in these NBA Finals. Collectively, they are at the top of the NBA Finals Player Rankings.

DUD – DANNY GREEN

I have a friend who made a bet on Danny Green being the first guy to make a three-pointer in Game 1 of this NBA Finals series. It was a good bet to make, given his history. But what do you know? He catches the ball in the corner, throws a brick and of course, the ball rims out. Instead, Jae Crowder came down the other end and ended up making that first shot from beyond the arch. My poor friend.

Beyond the lackluster three-point shooting, his contributions after being inserted into the starting line-up for the Lakers have been abysmal. In an average of 22 minutes, Green is hitting a measly 5.3 points per game. His shooting percentages are getting progressively worse too, going 1-8 in Game 2 and 0-6 in Game 3. Those are bench numbers. In my opinion, it appears he is riding some coattails to get another ring like he did with the Toronto Raptors last season.

STUD – JIMMY “JAMES” BUTLER

I have to go with the easy answer – James Butler. You know, the better James in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Losing the first two games the way the HEAT did seems to have only fueled this guy more. He came out and said they were going to figure it out and WIN the championship, after the team went down 0-2!

Some players fall in big moments, but this Jim-er I mean, James Butler does not back down. He went out there, talked right back to LeBron and LED his team to a big victory. The proof is in the stat line: 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, which puts him among the likes of Jerry West and the other James in this series as the only players to hit a 40-point triple double in NBA Finals history.

Butler won’t even count this as the best game he’s ever played in. His best performance went down against a bunch of 45-year-olds in a pick-up game at the age of 17. Needless to say, LeBron, you’re in trouble.

DUD – LEBRON JAMES

Even though he played well, I am picking LeBron James as my DUD. Before I have the entire internet jumping down my throat, let me point out that he failed to beat a HEAT team led by James Butler and a bunch of Junior Varsity guys!

I understand that Anthony Davis was essentially taken out of the game. However, LeBron knows that he can outperform any guy on the court. And yet, he loses to Solomon Hill (who shoots threes apparently), Andre Iguodala, who is a shell of the player he used to be with Golden State, and smaller rookies like Tyler Herro.

What is happening to the superstar that used to easily take over games and dominate in clutch moments? There was one point in the 4th quarter of Game 3 where “The King” hit an and-1 and I thought to myself, “This is it. The Miami HEAT are going to go down 0-3 in this series. They are done.” Instead, James is seen traveling and carelessly throwing the ball away down the stretch. He was talking some smack and ended up getting PUNKED by James Butler. It was his moment to lead, and he was found walking away from the spotlight. Literally.

STUD – MIAMI HEAT COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA

Indeed, Jimmy Butler is the easy pick for the STUD of the week, but no one has a tougher task at hand than Coach Spo in this NBA Finals series.

Put yourself in his shoes.

Game 1 you watch your 3 best players (Butler, Adebayo, Dragic) go down, with two of them unable to return for the foreseeable future. Your team is undersized, over-matched, and getting OBLITERATED to start. The media is coming to you with comments about people thinking this series is over. They are claiming your team will not be able to overcome the circumstances. Know what Coach Spo does? Finds a way to keep his team competitive and finds a way to win a game against all odds!

I recall seeing a GIF where Jimmy Butler’s head was photo-shopped onto Jon Snow’s body in that one scene during the Battle of the Bastards episode (Game of Thrones fans will know what I am talking about). Everyone is running toward him and he courageously stands alone and promptly pulls his sword out, ready to fight. No disrespectful to the STUD James, but I believe Spo’s head should be the one on Jon Snow’s body on that GIF instead. He is the true superstar for the Miami HEAT in this NBA Finals series.

DUD – KYRIE IRVING

My DUD pick goes to one of the leading men in the upcoming tragic telenovela that will be the 2020-21 Brooklyn Nets – Kyrie Irving.

The man has made the media rounds this week and boy, are these headlines alarming. First, he says that he doesn’t see the Nets having a head coach. Quite the wonderful welcome for your brand new first-time head coach, Steve Nash isn’t it, Nets fans?

Soon after, Irving joins teammate Kevin Durant as the first guest on the latter’s new podcast “The ETC’s”. In this episode, Kyrie talks about how exciting it will be to play alongside Durant, as it will be the first time he will have a teammate equally capable of making the final shot in a big game.

Evidently, his selective memory fails to remind him that:

1) The Brooklyn Nets do have a head coach.

2) He spent years playing alongside one of the greatest to ever play the game in LeBron James.

The jabs at his former teammate were so blatant that he found himself having to recant his comments on an Instagram Live. Does he not realize that there is power in shutting up and letting his game do the talking?

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NBA Finals MVP Race – Who will win?

We are at the midway point of the NBA Finals and the Lakers are leading the HEAT 2-1 in the series.

A few players have emerged in the NBA Finals MVP Race and the Shoot or Pass podcast crew name their favorite contenders to win it!

In the latest episode of the Shoot or Pass podcast, the crew predicts who will win the NBA Finals MVP race. Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby SHOOT if they agree or PASS if they disagree on the following statement:

LeBron James will NOT be named the NBA Finals MVP after this series.

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RHOBY – PASS

After Game 2, I thought for sure it would be Anthony Davis. However, it looks like the Miami HEAT might have just uncovered a blueprint to contain him without the services of Bam Adebayo – getting him into foul trouble to take him out of his rhythm.

It was successful in Game 3. Davis got shut out of the offense. Every time you saw LeBron James call for a screen, it was either with Dwight Howard or Rajon Rondo. Though I will say, that was more because AD was not putting himself in position to get the ball fed to him. When he did get the ball, there were more chances of him getting a careless turnover than some points for his team.

Here’s the deal. Bron is going to Bron. He has more advantages with the match-ups he is facing. The path is set for the King to outperform everybody on the court, which is why he will ascend to the throne as the NBA Finals MVP if the Lakers win the series. Similarly, the current King of Miami, Jimmy Butler will also be the top contender for the accolade if the HEAT complete the comeback.

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CHEVY – PASS

Game 3 was the turning point in the race for the NBA Finals MVP between LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Granted, AD will still have opportunities to surge as the leading nominee again. But for now, it is going to LeBron James.

There is no doubt Davis has had a great playoff run thus far. He is averaging 28.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. His unique skill set has been on full display and is integral to the Lakers success in these Finals. However, LeBron is the true leader of this team and is putting out more consistent performances night in and night out. The King is also elevating himself with contributions that do not necessarily reflect themselves on the box score.

If we’re looking at the same scenario with Lakers in the Finals again next season, then I will confidently award Anthony Davis the NBA Finals MVP award. I am sure in the eyes of many it is probably a toss-up. Both are deserving of the award if the Lakers prevail and become the 2020 NBA Champions.

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GABE – SHOOT

I think Anthony Davis is the player and should win NBA Finals MVP. Throughout the entirety of these playoffs, he is facing the tougher match-ups AND still managing to play out of his mind! As aforementioned, LeBron James is going to do his own thing and facilitate, but the Miami HEAT have ways to force the ball out of his hands.

Aside from getting him into foul trouble, the HEAT have NO way to completely eliminate Anthony Davis out of the equation. His versatility as a great defender and a great shooter make him a nightmare for opponents. I mean, FORGET about matching up with him in the post!

This is Anthony Davis’ Finals MVP trophy to lose. I don’t think we should stray away from that because of one game where he was limited due to foul trouble.

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2020 Conference Finals Eliminations – NBA Bubble Eulogies

With the NBA Finals officially underway, we say goodbye to the 2020 Conference Finals eliminations: the Boston Celtics and the Denver Nuggets.

So, we are sending them home the best way we know how – with some NBA Bubble Eulogies.

BOSTON CELTICS

Maybe the Jay Bros. are just not there yet. Their contributions were not enough once more, as the Boston Celtics were one of the two 2020 Conference Finals eliminations. Even with the return of Gordon Hayward, (who helped them unlock the Miami HEAT’s zone defense), they couldn’t shake off those pesky “Goons from Dade County”. Sure, Tatum was averaging 26.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists in those six games, but he got hot too late and could never step up in the clutch. Danny Ainge will need to go back to the drawing boards and possibly start unloading the hoards of draft picks he’s been collecting to help them get over the hump.

We send our deepest condolences to the Boston Celtics,

Always the better team “on paper”, unable to retaliate against sudden squalls,

They gained sizeable leads and were great at penetrating Miami’s Zone D,

Only to fall apart in clutch moments – call it the ultimate playoff BLUE BALLS.

Jayson Tatum started out too slow too often,

Jaylen Brown wasn’t incorporated into the offense enough,

When they weren’t chucking threes, Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker,

Were flopping like dead fish trying to call the refs bluff.

Guess it’s another season-ending case of the Dejavu,

But it’s not a dire situation with a roster this stacked – make no mistake,

We hope that Robin Hayward doesn’t follow the news because,

Her husband helped his team lose and missed the birth of his namesake.

DENVER NUGGETS

Admit it. A little part of you thought this Denver Nuggets team would pull it off and come back from a third 3-1 deficit against the Los Angeles Lakers. Unfortunately, the lethal Murray-Jokic pick-and-roll was no match for the “Step Brothers” from the L.A. team that matters. They had plenty of help too, as key role players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dwight Howard, and the phenomenon that is “Playoff Rondo” happen to be flipping the switch at the best time. Nonetheless, expect the Nuggets and their young core to grow from this experience and remain competitive in a STACKED Western Conference next season.

Third time will not be the charm for the Denver Nuggets,

Their love of masochism got them back from 3-1 deficits the first two times around,

They got past Utah and one of the LA teams,

But Bron & AD had their way with them and now they are homebound.

Michael Porter Jr. broke out as a shooter in the bubble,

Jamal Murray was a man POSSESSED – embodied explosive offense,

Slim Jokic continues to revolutionize the game for all big men,

It’s just too bad that not even a prayer could bail out the Nuggets defense.

Will they make big moves this offseason?

Retaining Jeremi Grant will be a priority if they want to continue to excel,

And of course, we need more BOL BOL,

Like Bruce Dickinson needs more cowbell.

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2020 NBA Finals Preview: Lakers vs. HEAT

THE LONG WAIT IS OVER. A new NBA champion will be crowned in a couple of weeks.

Lakers vs. HEAT.

LeBron James vs. his former team.

Katya Elise Henry’s ex vs. Katya Elise Henry’s current boo.

And here at Baseline Times, we’ve got two Miami HEAT fans vs. one die-hard LeBron James fan giving you their 2020 NBA Finals Preview.

In the latest episode of the Shoot or Pass podcast, the crew discusses key players, match ups, and more factors in their (“completely un-biased”) 2020 NBA Finals Preview.

Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby SHOOT if they agree or PASS if they disagree on the following statement:

The Los Angeles Lakers will sweep the Miami HEAT in the NBA Finals.

RHOBY – PASS

DON’T SLEEP ON THE HEAT! If we beat the top seed in the East in just five games, we can definitely contend against the top seed in the West AND BEAT THEM. We have a rookie that can carry us in games for crying out loud!

To be frank, I think the best part of this match up is that all of the pressure is on LeBron and the Lakers. The HEAT are playing with house money right now. Aside from the Houston Rockets, LeBron and Company have not faced a good defensive team in the NBA Playoffs. Therefore, while I think it is their biggest challenge yet, I believe the HEAT are a bigger threat than most think.

What has to go right for Miami?

Let’s start with the obvious. They HAVE to get their shots in. Especially those shots from beyond the arch. We have quite the arsenal of sharp shooters to help the team pull it off. Get this, Andre Iguodala was even making threes in the Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals!

However, I think an even bigger key for this team is winning the battle in the trenches for offensive rebounds. The Lakers rank second in the league in fast-break points per game (17.9). That number surged to 18.3 points per game in the Western Conference Finals series vs. the Nuggets. As a result, those boards are going to be crucial for the HEAT as it will limit any transition/fast-break opportunities against a team who is exceptionally good at capitalizing on them.

What cannot go wrong for the HEAT?

The third quarter, who fans have come to recognize as the “TURD” quarter. The latest receipt can be found in Game 5 of the ECF, where the team was outscored 41-25 coming out of the first half. They were lucky to rebound and win the series the next game, but it may be too big of a hole to dig out of in the NBA Finals. Miami has lost 18 times this season in games where they had a lead of 10 or more going into the half. That is the most in the league.

SERIES PREDICTION – HEAT in 7

GABE – LAUNCHES BALL INTO THE STANDS (PASS)

SWEEP?! Do people really think this is going to be a sweep? Look, it’s understandable that the Los Angeles Lakers have the two best players in the series, but who do they have beyond that?

The next best 7 players are:
  • Bam Adebayo, MIA
  • Jimmy Butler, MIA
  • Goran Dragic, MIA
  • Tyler Herro, MIA
  • Duncan Robinson, MIA
  • Jae Crowder, MIA
  • Andre Iguodala, MIA

Yes, I am aware of the phenomenon that is Playoff Rondo, but refuse to put him above these guys based on his performance since his return. It’s all HEAT.

LeBron can only guard the best player at that moment. So, if Tyler Herro is the man with the hot hand at any given moment, he’s switching onto him. What if Bam or Jimmy get going? That’s the beauty of this team. Anyone can get hot and that makes it hard to defend, even for teams with Defensive Player of the Year candidates. I am especially looking for Bam to elevate his profile in this series going head-to-head with Anthony Davis.

To add, Miami also has good options to throw at LeBron on the defensive end. In fact, there’s enough of them to go around and tire out his supporting cast too! I feel like this is going to be a long, arduous series for the team from LA who will not have the luxury of a home-court advantage.

Miami also has another key advantage that can make all the difference in this series – COACHING.

Erik Spoelstra is the better coach in the NBA Finals series, no question. Frank Vogel doesn’t have to do much because LeBron James does the work for him. Coach Spo has been successful with and without the perennial superstars and just won the chess match against Brad Stevens in the ECF.

SERIES PREDICTION – HEAT in 7

CHEVY – PASS

As much as I believe the Lakers SHOULD complete the sweep, I’ll leave my brooms in the closet and say that the HEAT can win a game.

Two defensive stalwarts face off

Both the Lakers and HEAT have gone 12-3 in their Conference Playoff Rounds to get to the 2020 NBA Finals. These are the two best defensive teams in the playoffs per Teams Defensive rankings. The Lakers come out on top with a rating of 107.8 while the Miami HEAT’s rating is 108.9.

This could have anyone assuming both had a tight hold of their opponents as they defended effectively and efficient in wrapping up prior series’ by no more than five games. However, it’s glaringly obvious the Lakers can win the talent battle with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Let’s put some respect on their names.

LeBron’s key to avoiding the dreaded 3-7 NBA Finals record

Indeed, we have witnessed LeBron-led teams lose in the NBA Finals when he did not have a complementary superstar playing alongside. In these Finals, he will have a Defensive Player of the Year and top-ten NBA player to help divvy up the workload in Anthony Davis. The concern here will be facing a defensive scheme that hinders their role players making shots, because these two will still need their help.

I do agree that Erik Spoelstra is the better coach in this series. He is an absolute mastermind. I am curious to see what he has up his sleeve against his former player, LeBron James. Will Spo give in and say, “Have at it, LeBron. We’re just going to make you beat us and lock down the rest of the team” ?

With that being said, I think I am making it clear that I am going with the better individual talent. When it is all said and done, LeBron will be celebrating his fourth NBA Championship and NBA Finals MVP in a couple of weeks!

SERIES PREDICTION – LAKERS in 5

For the full 2020 NBA Finals Preview, listen to the Shoot or Pass podcast. New episodes drop every Monday!


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NBA Finals 2020: Lakers vs HEAT – Schedule & Results

NBA Finals 2020: Lakers vs Heat

2020 NBA Playoffs Bracket


2020 NBA Finals Staff Predictions


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Conference Finals Player Rankings – STUDS and DUDS

We present the Shoot or Pass Podcast’s version of Conference Finals Player Rankings – STUDS and DUDS!

A new episode of the Shoot or Pass Podcast is out now! Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby share their version of the Conference Finals Player Rankings with a segment called STUDS and DUDS.

STUD – ANTHONY DAVIS

Guess what? I am picking another Laker as my STUD pick of the week.

You know that you are out there COOKING on the court when your bench is screaming “Steak Dinner” at the guy trying to defend you. That is exactly what happened on Friday night when Michael Porter Jr. was trying to guard The Brow. Michael Porter Jr.’s response to the taunting? Immediately switching off the guy.

Anthony Davis is UN-GUARDABLE versus the Denver Nuggets (Games 1 & 2). Here are his stat lines:

Granted, he started a little slow in the first half of Game 2, scoring only 9 points. However, he exploded in the second half with 22 points and scored the Lakers last 10 points (including that 3-point dagger) to end the game. Let’s dig a little deeper into that last shot, for the Lakers had a couple of opportunities to seal the victory. In the first possession, we saw LeBron James dribbling the ball around, approach the basket, and then pass the ball. Caruso took the three…and missed.

During that play, I am sitting on the edge of my seat thinking to myself – why didn’t AD get the ball for the final shot there? He is the guy who needs to have the ball in his hands for this second opportunity, right? (Note: Ball went out of bounds, giving the Lakers a couple of seconds and another possession). Sure enough, the ball lands in The Brow’s hands and BOOM! In goes the big game-winning three!

Honestly, I feel like right now, AD is Batman & Lebron is more of a Robin in these playoffs for the Lakers. He is the top performer in my NBA Conference Finals Player Rankings. WHAT A STUD!

DUD – KENDRICK NUNN

This pick hurts. But, the key to a healthy relationship between biased podcast co-hosts and their favorite teams is acknowledging when one of their favorite players is performing like a DUD. Kendrick Nunn, I love you, but you are my DUD pick of the week.

Nunn lost the starting job to Dragic, and in the 8 games he’s played in throughout these playoffs he is averaging 3.6 points, shooting 30% from the field, and 15% from 3. He doesn’t play good defense. The man is unable to stop his own man without giving up a dumb foul like he did in Game 3 of the ECF.

I know there is the COVID storyline going around, but Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro had tested positive for it and are balling out. Needless to say, Kendrick Nunn is hurting the HEAT more than helping them throughout their playoff run.

STUD – RAJON “PLAYOFF RONDO” RONDO

I am also going with a Laker, and this man is getting picked for the 2nd week in a row. That’s right, my STUD pick of the week is the phenom – PLAYOFF RONDO!

Rondo gives the Lakers another play-maker they really need for success in the playoffs. Before he was healthy, they were using Alex Caruso and other guys coming off the bench. The problem with that is, none of these guys were capable enough to step in whenever LeBron goes to the bench for a rest.

Rondo in playoff form is the BEST Rondo you can get. His presence on the floor, his ability to get guys the ball, and those play-making abilities are critical to this team. This elevates him above the competition. That is why he is my STUD, the top performer in the NBA Conference Finals Player Rankings in my eyes.

DUD – DUNCAN ROBINSON

I hate to do this, but I am also picking a HEAT player as my DUD. Duncan Robinson. I’m sorry, but STOP FOULING SO MUCH! He is the reason some of our guys are getting fatigued. They have to leave the bench, coming in earlier to play more minutes because he can’t keep his damn hands to himself.

Robinson is giving up too many fouls, and too many 3-point shots. He needs to settle down! I understand that he is only in his second year – he might just be full of nerves. Perhaps, the Celtics are too intimidating for him. Regardless, this guy cannot be on the court for more than five minutes without picking up a foul!

It appears that Jaylen Brown is guarding him a lot in this Eastern Conference Finals series and we can guess who is winning that battle in the trenches. Brown had the monster performance in Game 3. However, Duncan has an opportunity here to tire him out. Make the guy run around the court. That can make all the difference, but he needs to stay on the court to try it out.

STUD – TYLER HERRO

I am going to make you guys happy with my pick, for it is a HEAT player again. That’s right, my STUD pick of the week is Tyler Herro.

In the Eastern Conference Finals series, he is scoring 15 points per game combined with a solid eight rebounds and six assists per game, shooting 42% from the field. FYI, the rookie had a 16-point, 2nd quarter performance too! This is the second most points scored in a quarter during a playoff game by a player at age 20 or younger.

Since play-by-play began in 1997, the only player with more points scored in a quarter in the playoffs is Kobe Bryant. He had 17 points in the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz on May 8th, 1997. Tyler Herro wasn’t even born yet!

You wouldn’t know Tyler Herro is a rookie because he plays like a veteran. This make me wonder, how would he be performing under different circumstances? By this I mean, in actual home and road games, in arenas full of fans. This is not to discredit his incredible performances. The guy is a stone cold killer on the court. However, without a crowd, it is definitely easier to lock in and just play your game.

I’ll leave it at that and say that I hope he continues to progress and contribute in these games against the Celtics.

DUDS – NBA AWARDS VOTERS. ALL OF THEM.

My DUD pick goes to the voters of the NBA Awards, especially the one who forgot to put Anthony Davis on her ballot (cough, Maria Taylor, cough). How do you leave a Defensive Play of the Year candidate off of the All-NBA rosters on your ballot?

Does the voting process need some fine-tuning? Yeah, but the voters need to take some accountability and put more attention into their choices as well.

For more NBA content, listen to the Shoot or Pass podcast. New episodes drop every Monday!

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Clippers eliminated from playoffs – NBA Bubble Eulogies

UPDATE: The Curse lives on! Clippers were eliminated from the playoffs after going up 3-1 to the Denver Nuggets.

So, we are sending them home the best way we know how – with some NBA Bubble Eulogies.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

Imagine spending the last couple of seasons building your roster with the purpose of getting past the Lakers…and not even making it past the second round of the playoffs for a chance to face them? If you look up the word “implosion” in the dictionary, you will find the Clippers collapsing in their series against the Nuggets after going up 3-1. The team’s superstars, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, were nowhere to be found in the second quarter. They combined for a measly five points on 2-18 shooting with 4 turnovers in the second half of Game 7. Guess how many of those points came in the 4th quarter? Z E R O. Therefore, the Clippers are eliminated from the playoffs and head home.

The curse of the Los Angeles Clippers lives on for another season,

Somewhere Steven Ballmer is sobbing like a damsel in distress,

For he got two superstars and what appeared to be a good team around them,

Only to realize he just got catfished, hoodwinked, and finessed.

How do we sum up the implosion of a contender in one visual?

With Playoff P/Pandemic P/Way-Off P’s backboard shot in the 4th from beyond the arc,

Bet you Kawhi would have stayed put in Toronto,

Had he foreseen the disaster of a playoff run he was about to embark.

Trez struggled, Lou Will played like his life’s motto is “Wings Before Rings”,

The team’s apparent chemistry issues were on display for all of us to see,

Hey Patrick Beverley, you just won yourself a free vacation,Please send your RSVP to Damian Lillard and check the box that reads – CANCUN ON 3

HOUSTON ROCKETS

James Harden and Russell Westbrook will go another year without a championship ring. What’s new? After getting past the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Houston Rockets would have to get past the top-seed Lakers for a chance to make it to the Finals. They drew first blood in Game 1, leaving us all thinking that perhaps Moreyball is truly revolutionary. However, you can never count out a Lebron-led team. The Lakers are getting hot at the right time, winning the next 4 games convincingly. Consequently, it appears that the Rockets will go into the off season with more questions than answers.

Houston, we have a problem,

The Rockets fell apart in the NBA playoffs once more,

Russ is getting paid to yap more than he can shoot,

James Harden keeps pulling a Houdini and disappearing off both ends of the floor.

It’s funny how he mentions that they need more pieces around them,

When just last season he said they would figure it out that summer,

P.J. Tucker is only getting older, Eric Gordon only getting worse,

Maybe those pieces were Chris Paul and Clint Capela – gee, what a bummer.

Is it time to admit that Moreyball is a failure?

Here comes another off-season full of suspense,

At least this season they have the ultimate fall man,

In Danuel House who chose “coochie” over common sense.

TORONTO RAPTORS

We will not be seeing the defending champs contending for a repeat any longer. Perhaps, winning it all without a super star is only wishful thinking, jury is still out on that one. One thing is for certain, Pascal Siakam did not display himself as a good first option for the Canadians. He struggled mightily throughout his appearance in the bubble. To add, the Celtics defense, led by Marcus Smart proved to be too much for them to handle. Coach of the year Nick Nurse and his team will have to go back to the drawing board, heading home. Similarly, the Clippers have also been eliminated from the playoffs, so there’s that.

Farewell to the defending champs the Toronto Raptors,

Who deserve a lot of credit for at least making it this far,

After Kawhi bolted to LA and they suffered injuries to most of their rotation,

The Raptors were still contending for a repeat despite not having a superstar.

They took care of a red-hot Brooklyn Nets team,

But had their hands full with the Boston Celtics at first glance,

When Lowry launched it over Tacko to OG for a game-winning three,

Everyone on both sides of the border was like – COULD THERE REALLY BE A CHANCE?

Losing their true first option would come back to haunt them,

Pascal Siakam said he didn’t touch a ball for 4 months and boy did it show,

Also to blame was the terrible shooting and non-existent perimeter defense,

Somewhere in the Six, Drake is crying into the butt cheeks of another Instagram hoe.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

The Milwaukee Bucks went into the lock down as the team with the best record in the NBA, playing with a defensive unit that was bound to make the history book, and a superstar in Giannis who swept the NBA awards. However, let’s give credit where credit is due. There was a rally led by Khris Middleton and Donte DiVincenzo to avoid the sweep from the Miami HEAT. They stood valiantly for social justice, creating a domino effect across the sports world that shook us all to our very core yet again in the year 2020. While those efforts will never go in vain, their efforts on the court will. Sadly, as they are also departing the NBA bubble.

It was a tale of two seasons for the Milwaukee Bucks,

Best record in the league, historic defense – a path to the Finals so clear,

But, something about 4 months off and being confined to a resort in Disney World,

Made all of their good qualities mysteriously disappear.

Losing Game 1 to the Orlando Magic set all the alarms off,

Trailing 0-3 to the HEAT seemed to truly mark their downfall,

Bud was being stubborn again; Bledsoe was shooting so many damn bricks,

If Trump still watched the NBA he’d try to contract that guy to build him a wall.

Khris Middleton and Donte DiVincenzo tried to give them a chance in their final game,

Gonna be awkward presenting Giannis with the second of his back-to-back MVP titles,

Props to them for sitting out a game in the name of social justice,

And THANKS TO THEM for making the HEAT the first team to advance to the Conference Finals!

With the Los Angeles Clippers getting eliminated from the playoffs this past week, the Eastern and Western Conference Finals are set and underway. In the end, only two teams will make it to the Finals. Who do you think it will be?

For more NBA content, listen to the Shoot or Pass podcast. New episodes drop every Monday!

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West Conference Semifinals: (2) Clippers vs (3) Nuggets

Nuggets in series 4-3

Game 1DEN 97 – LAC 120Final
Game 2DEN 110 – LAC 101Final
Game 3LAC 113 – DEN 107Final
Game 4LAC 96 – DEN 85Final
Game 5DEN 111 – LAC 105Final
Game 6LAC 98 – DEN 111Final
Game 7DEN 104 – LAC 89Final

2020 NBA Playoffs Bracket


2020 NBA Playoffs Conference Semifinals Staff Predictions


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