NBA 2K 15: Teams 2 Watch (West)

While the Eastern Conference is vastly improved, make no mistake, the West is, and will always be– TOP DAWG!!!  And the NBA’s biggest money maker. Last time I checked, most of your foreign born players play out West; talk about going global!! Bottom line, watching East games can be a little ho-hum at times; better grab you a front row seat if there’s a West game on display. My West teams’ are as follows:

SPURS:  The term ”EVISCERATED” was used to describe what the Spurs did to not only the “2DayBA’s” (today’s NBA) best team, but certainly the NBA’s “Best on the Planet”, in one said LeBron James; the term eviscerated should not be synonomous with the 2DayBA’s best player, if in fact he is what most people think he is. It is because of this I believe the “Medieval” Spurs will once again hoist the gold ball. Coupled with the fact that Duncan says he’s out to get the one thing he has not accomplished throughout his entire run – A REPEAT.

MAVERICKS: This is the one team that gives me cause for trepidation when it comes to the Spurs. All the talk was centered around the additions of Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler (rightfully so), but it’s the not so mentioned Jameer Nelson  that may turn out to be just what the doctor ordered for these Mavs. The only possible weak spot I see is the bench; Devin Harris is too much the lose cannon. If Carlisle decides to move Harris to the 2-spot (shooting guard) and let Felton run the second unit, this is the only squad truly capable of dethroning the Spurs.

WARRIORS: As great a talent as he is (like Kyrie Irving),  Steph Curry is a turnover waitin to happen. And that can’t happen if the Warriors are to make some real noise come playoff time. New coach Steve Kerr undid what was former coach Mark Jackson’s undoing (I believe), and put Harrison Barnes back in the starting lineup. These cats can flat-out score with ANYBODY IN THE LEAGUE, BAR NONE!  Can they play D is the question.

BLAZERS: Have all the tools to win it all, but do they have the toughness? What will Thomas Robinson bring? Blazers will be in the thick of it because of the household names, but title contention this year may be askin a bit much.

CLIPPERS: Doc Rivers is a throwback coach if there ever was one, but not even he can fix DeAndre Jordan’s free-throw woes. Jordan was first in just about every defensive statistical category last season, and yet, is a major liability in the fourth quarter of games; How can one of the games best not be on the floor when it matters most??  I can’t put my finger on it right now, but something is missing from the Clippers. And it may turn out to be the thing that keeps them from gettin to the Finals – again.

ROCKETS: McHale is praying that the addition of Trevor Ariza can somehow make up for the loss of – star in the making – Chandler Parsons. Youth, and lack of defense could be the ultimate cause of their undoing; despite being fun to watch.

PELICANS: Monty Williams may now have the pieces necessary to make a significant run in the battle tested West. Unfortunately, injuries are still a major concern. Anderson, Davis, Gordon, and Holiday missed a combined 141 games last season!!  Can’t expect to contend if the core is broken. Still, I think there is enough here that the Pelicans will be a tough out, and no longer  NBA “Welcome” mats.

NUGGETS: These boys are gon’  get straight up medicinal on cats this season. Jusuf Nurkic and the return of Gallinari to go along with Mozgov, Lawson, Gary Harris (Mich St.), Chandler, McGee, Robinson, Faried,… Get the idea? Brian Shaw will have time to take a nap during games because these dudes will be that in control. Come playoff time, inexperience will tell the story.

Honorable Mention: Timberwolves – Rubio found a jumper, and newcomers Bennett, Lavine, Robinson the 3rd, Wiggins, and Gorgui Deng will have a big time impact.

Can’t wait to hear what ya’ll think!!  www.theshopreport.com

NBA Playoffs: East

Now that both the East and West contestants of what is the 2013 NBA Playoffs are set, here’s my take on the winners/losers of each matchup starting with the East. Seeds are in parenthesis.

(1) Miami vs. (8) Milwaukee: LeBron (DNP), Wade (DNP), and Bosh (DNP); Miami still wins 4-0. The Heat have 3 of the Olympic starting 5; Bucks have Jennings, Ellis, and a bunch of no names. The Heat should have been granted a first-round bye. That’s how horrible this series will most likely turn out.

(2) New York vs. (7) Boston: The Celtics should not be underestimated because of their age. Doc Rivers knows all to well – as do his players- what playoff basketball is all about. Only the Spurs Popovich is better at getting the most out of his squad. As long as health is not an achilles heel, Boston has more than a puncher’s chance of winning this series. The Knicks have 2 of the league’s premier shooters in Melo and Smith, but need Chandler to balance everything out. Sometimes when the shots are not fallin, the Knicks get caught holding the ball to long and standing around. The lack of ball movement in halfcourt sets will be their undoing and exactly what the doctor ordered for the Celtics. The Knicks should win; I won’t be shocked if they don’t.

(3) Indiana vs. (6) Atlanta: Pacers are to inconsistent; one minute they look as though they could beat anybody, and then turn around and look as though couldn’t compete with the recently crowned state champ Mentor Cardinals. Hibbert’s production is critical to the Pacers advancing to the next round. 8 points and 5 rebound type numbers will not get it done. Horford and Smith can tip the scales in favor of the Hawks if Josh stops poutin’ and start playin’ up to his ability. Al will bring it every night; will Smith help him out? Indiana wins 4-3 by default.

(4) Brooklyn vs. (5) Chicago: Lopez, Johnson, and Williams make up a nice core for the Nets, but Carlesimo and inexperience may count against them in the end. The Bulls are battle tested like no other. Chicago needs to only put points on the board; everything else will take care of itself. Rose’s return (off the bench) would be a huge bonus. Bulls win this series 4-2 on grit alone.

NBA 2K13 In Season Review: Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls 101-97 victory over the Miami Heat to break the 27-game win streak was no accident, nor was it just a bad night at the office. Players’ have bad games no doubt; however, the Bulls (without Noah) outscored the Heat 22-8 in second chance points. Am I to believe the entire Heat team had a bad night at the same time? No, the Bulls just flat out played an agressive style defense against the Heat that most teams’ are afraid to play, and came away with a victory. Thibodeau learned from an earlier matchup against the Heat where the Bulls lost 86-67, that it doesn’t make sense to double LeBron, Wade, or Bosh and let them pass to wide open shooters who have spotted up in the corners. TT also realized that “sagging off” the 3-Olympians’ allowing them to basically walk right into open shots was an advantage for the Heat and a disadvantage for his Bulls. His strategy in this most recent game was to contest- and it worked.

Was Thibodeau’s strategy a blue print to beat the Heat? No; the Bulls’ didn’t reinvent the wheel, they just decided not to be intimidated. Where’s the rocket science in that? If anything, teams’ now know that they don’t have to be intimidated by the Heat because the folks at ESPN say so.

The key to victory for Chicago was not just on the defensive side of the ball; it also took balanced scoring and timely shots to complete the abrupt dismantaling of the streak. Going into game against Miami, Chicago was dead last in the league in scoring at 92.9 per/gm. With Rose out, that kind of offensive production- or lack thereof- will not only hurt in terms of winning a playoff series, but it will also over stress a defense that currently ranks 3rd in the league allowing 92.4 per/gm.

The one player who is a surprise to Bulls’ fans’ and myself is Jimmy Butler. If Butler can continue to bring to the lineup from a point standpoint what he did against Miami (17), the Bulls’ may have very well found themselves a much needed scoring option heading into this year’s playoffs and making their bench stronger in the process.

Off the bench: With Nate Robinson, Taj Gibson, and Nazr Mohammed, the Bulls’ second unit should be able to at least match the level of play provided by the starting unit. Maintaining or increasing the team’s lead can be crucial to playoff success. In some cases being able to outscore the opposition’s bench can make the difference in winning or losing a series.

The Bulls’ have a puncher’s chance aginst the Heat should the two meet in the Eastern conf. Finals’ if the offensive production on display in ending the streak can somehow be duplicated come playoff time.