NBA Studs and Duds from the first weekend of the season restart

One weekend down and many to go. Our Shoot or Pass Podcast Co-Hosts will be sharing their Studs and Duds right here. Who impressed and who disappointed? Find out below!


Chevy – Damian Lillard

While we’ve witnessed a win and a loss from the Blazers, Dame is making NBA headlines. Dame means business in the bubble. He’s not here to play just 2 weeks and 8 games of basketball, he plans on sticking around for a deep run. He’s playing playoff minutes (45 vs. the Grizzlies, 44 vs. the Celtics) and is averaging about 30 points each game (29 vs. the Grizzlies, 30 vs. the Celtics). Unfortunately, the Blazers lost yesterday after a big on Friday, but the goal here is to get within 4 games of the 8th seed to force a play-in. I think Dame can keep them hanging around for it.

Rhoby – Kyle Lowry

KYLEFORNIA knows how to party! Lebronto is no more, as Lebron and the Lakers were bullied around by Kyle Lowry Friday night. NBA players are supposed to be breaking down by their mid-30s and undersized guards aren’t supposed to be hitting threes with a 7-footer in their face or making an impact as a rim protector, however, Kyle Lowry isn’t getting the memo. He scored a game-high 33 points, nabbed a career-high 14 rebounds, and has 6 assists. I am sold. The Raptors are a force to be reckoned with in this NBA Restart.


Chevy – Zion Williamson

I know I have to tread carefully here because this is the NBA’s new poster boy, but if I’m Adam Silver you want him to be seen and on the floor. What is his deal? A month or two ago, a picture of Zion surfaced on social media and he looked like he was in great shape and ready to lead the Pelicans to the playoffs. Needless to say, I don’t understand the way Alvin Gentry is restricting his minutes. In the loss to the Jazz, Zion was on the bench for a crucial 4th quarter. Wouldn’t you want the best player on your team to be playing in those scenarios? Definitely a concern for a rising star on a team fighting for playoff spot.

Rhoby – Shake Milton

To begin with, this stat line says it all – 0 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists. NOT a good look for the new starting PG of a Sixers. This team appears to be failing expectations. What’s new? He appeared to have no command of the ball, only took one shot in the game in the 4th quarter, made some bad turnovers, and found himself in foul trouble. He focused on racial injustice in post-game comments, which is great, but I hope he’s also focusing on his game going forward because the Sixers need him to show up if they want to make noise in the playoffs!

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Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 28: NBA Restart First Impressions

Lakers lost Saturday night and Chevy is reeling, but new segment “Studs & Duds” (along with Rhoby’s singing voice) offer him no consolation (07:30). They also go to bat for Jonathan Issac, Greg Popovich and Becky Hammon (17:10), fire off on the Sixers and Pelicans in another new segment “Overreactions” (40:20), and announce the Expert Picks of the Week (37:30) 

NBA teams as Disney rides and attractions

The NBA is going to Disney Wooooorld!

So, I decided to describe NBA teams as Disney World rides/attractions, here’s what I’ve got so far:

New York Knicks – Tower of Terror

Yeah, I know the Knicks are not playing in Orlando. I also know that being a Knicks fan is basically like living in the Twilight Zone – frozen in time, abandoned, and constantly seeing the darkest corners of your imagination come to life.

Oklahoma Thunder – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Who said trading away Russell Westbrook would leave the Thunder stuck in a rebuild? This team is still a gold mine and can become a real big obstacle on the rickety track to NBA Finals. The Clutch Conductor (CP3) and the Locomotive driver (SGA) have led OKC to 16 games over .500 with a chance to get to the 4th seed in the WC.

Milwaukee Bucks – Soarin’

The Bucks are soarin’ high, sitting comfortably at 6.5 games ahead of the Raptors at the top of the Eastern Conference thanks to world wonder and potential back-to-back MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo

LA Lakers – Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster

This was one was easy. Hollywood. Iconic, Legendary players in LeBron & AD. LA traffic. A chance to see J.R. Smith topless stumblin’ around chugging Hennessy at a championship parade.

Toronto Raptors – DINOSAUR

Well, what else did you expect here? Will Toronto be able to travel back in time, kidnap Kawhi Leonard and bring him back to the present as a Raptor for their repeat bid? No. Their top 7 players may have been in/out of the rotation with injuries, but they are healthy now and ready to defend their title against anything – 21 NBA teams, fiery meteors, COVID-19.

Got any suggestions for NBA teams as Disney rides and attractions?

Leave us a comment or email media@ for a chance to be featured on the Shoot or Pass podcast!

2018 NBA Playoff Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz

No. 4 OKC Thunder vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz

2018 Playoff Preview and Prediction

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s playoff time in the NBA, and I’ve got what you need to know for one of the best opening round matchups. OKC has the triple double machine in Russell Westbrook leading the charge while the Jazz look to ride the wave of their rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell. On paper, it would seem that OKC with their veteran core of Westbrook-Carmelo Anthony-Paul George would be the heavy favorites in this series. However, the Jazz has won 17 of 21 heading into the playoffs and with Rudy Gobert back their defense is galvanized. Let’s look at some key points heading into the series.

Regular Season Matchup

The Thunder took the season series between the two teams 3-1. The Thunder won their games by an average of 16 points, while the Jazz happened to squeak by a 9 point win against them. The lone Jazz win against the Thunder they held Westbrook to under 10 points that game. All four of these games happened last calendar year, and the two teams haven’t met since December. Since then, the two teams have projected up, especially the Jazz. Therefore it could be said that the regular season matchups could not be indicative of what will happen in the playoffs.

Jazz Keys to Winning


The Jazz doesn’t have the superstar firepower on their roster like much of the top western conference teams can boast. Mitchell leads the team with 20.5 ppg with no one else averaging 20+. The Jazz is going to have to scheme a good offensive plan to keep pace with the Thunder. Keeping Westbrook from hounding Mitchell all game will be pivotal for their offense. So I expect to see a lot of screens with Mitchell, not too much unlike their regular season plan. However, they’re going to need to find a reliable second option to keep the offense in tempo.

Rodney Hood is going to need to be able to create some offense and probably up his 16.8 ppg regular season average to around 20. The Jazz will have to look to their bench to keep the score close while the Thunder’s starting lineup is off the floor. Utah does have Joe Johnson coming off the bench, and he somehow always finds a way to step it up in the playoffs. If Iso Joe and a newly revitalized Marco Rubio can anchor the bench, their offense may not be in as much trouble as it may seem.


Rudy Gobert, the best anchor in the league, is going to have to be at that level every night. He’ll be posted up against Steven Adams, a fantastic post player. If that wasn’t enough Westbrook will be slashing and attacking the rim every night. Jae Crowder will likely have to be doing duty on both Anthony and George to keep a body on them at all times.

If Gobert can stay out of foul trouble, the team should be excellent defensively. They’ll need to make sure that Gobert stays in the paint on most possessions. OKC has a plethora of guys who can get to the rim, and the Jazz will need to truncate any easy points OKC wishes to obtain.

Thunder Keys to Winning


Russell Westbrook dominating is going to happen. The problem is who will be the Robin to his Batman? Paul George over the last month has been averaging 20 ppg to go with his better defensive play. If he can keep this up, then the Jazz will have a harder time deciding where they can shore up on defense. Carmello Anthony is currently averaging 16.2 ppg heading into the playoffs. However, it’s coming on 40% shooting. If he can up that to at least 45%, he and George can punish whoever Crowder isn’t guarding.

A big key to the Thunder offense is if they can grab a reasonable rate of offensive rebounds. Controlling possessions in this series will be crucial for the Thunder as the Jazz defense is very stout. The Thunder don’t shoot the best percentage from the field in the league, so more opportunities will allow them to keep their usual pace going. Offensive rebounds also allow for more ball movement, something the Thunder will need to keep the Jazz defense on its heel.

The Thunder’s bench is also going to need to step it up. They’re averaging 26.4 ppg, and I’d like to see that average go up to 32-35 ppg. There are times when the offense gets stagnant from the bench if none of the starters are in the lineup. If Westbrook can be afforded some time off the floor this series, it would bode well for the Thunder going forward if he’s more rested.


Keep Westbrook on Mitchell. Mitchell is going to be the motor of the Jazz’s offense, but he’s going against the man with an infinite engine in Westbrook. I can’t imagine a time where Westbrook would not be hounding Mitchell when he’s in the game. Dropping him from 20 ppg to 15 would be devastating to the Jazz offense.

Creating turnovers will also be a massive boon for the Thunder in this series. The Jazz is going to need to keep pace in scoring with OKC, but with Westbrook and George hounding the passing lanes, a dry spot from the Jazz can mean the game for OKC. Adams down low will have to keep out of foul trouble with Gobert. This Thunder lineup isn’t like last year where Kanter could come in to keep a big rim protector on the floor. Should Adams get in foul trouble, Nick Collison and Dakari Johnson will need to be able to keep up with Gobert? Should Gobert’s average climb from 13.5 ppg, the Thunder will be in trouble in the paint.


The Jazz and Thunder are more or less the opposite teams on paper. This is going to be a series of X-factors and who can be more consistent on offense this whole series. The Jazz will need to find an answer to containing the rest of the Thunder around Westbrook, and if they can this series will be in their favor. However, if Westbrook and co. can keep on the gas, as usual, this series will likely go in their favor as the Jazz offensive capabilities can stutter at times.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder in 6 Games.

Westbrook celebrating


Markus X. Murden, Esq.

Senior Editor and Host of The Heels of Wrestling Podcast. Battle Rap aficionado. Follow me @MXMurden and @TheHowPod

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We The North: Done for the season

Wow, what a difference one year can make. All the momentum and pride of last season’s playoff run wiped away or will be Sunday. I’m not even going to go into this with dynamic sounding words to make it sound more than what this was. The Toronto Raptors in the playoffs are about as reliable as one ply toilet paper on taco night.

Game four was the first game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals series in Toronto. A chance for the Raptors to dig in and get a win at home was hopeless in the fourth quarter. After an ankle injury in the previous game the Raptors were hoping to have Kyle Lowry back to help the team in some capacity despite his frequent disappearances come the post season It looked as though he would return but later revealed by Casey postgame of continued discomfort.

The first half of play was as completive as any playoff basketball game, timely shots by the likes of Jonas Valencuinas and crowd igniting dunks by Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell. As for the 139 million dollar man

DeMar Derozan, he was an inspiration to the team proving that the mid-range game was not extinct in the NBA catching fire and going for 21 in the first half giving his best Russell Westbrook impression going to work as the team’s lone all star on the court tonight. Even with DeRozan’s brilliant play, it was evident that this game was an uphill battle for the Raptors despite closing the half capped off by an emphatic block on Iman Shumpert by Ibaka.

The second half of the game concluded in similar a fashion of the two on the road Toronto tried it hardest but the gap between the two teams was on full display. Lebron James and the Cavaliers shot from all over the court, coming into this game there was an 84 point disparity from three in favor of the Cavs adding another 39 points from deep on just under 57-percent. DeRozan continued to put points on the board finishing with a playoff career-high of 37 and gasping for air in the fourth primarily due to his team’s inability to be effective without out him the Raptors bench for the game scored nine points due to either the Cleveland dominate or possible ineptitude powerhouse. Many myself included thought last year was a sign of brighter roads to come, but in the age of the super-team, the Raptors are now a dinosaur (no pun intended). The series is more than likely done and game four is the last shot for the Toronto team to show some pride. With the abysmal performance, this season it’s hard to say what lies in store for the Toronto franchise this coming offseason but one thing is for sure moves will be made but only time will tell who will go if any.