Bucks Show Why They’re A Team On The Rise! Brogdon Shines!

By Lawrence Edwards

 

Celtics shot 39% from the floor and the Bucks took advantage leading by a game high of 14 points at one point. The Celtics would not go down without giving it all for the home crowd however. The Celtics 4 game win streak in a 6 game home stand was the on line with the game coming down to the final seconds.  Celtics capitalized on a foul with 26 seconds to go to pull within 1, however, Malcolm Brogdon made an impressive shot over Avery Bradley with almost no time left to go on the shot clock to go up 3 with 15 seconds left that would ultimately seal the game at 103-100. The loss hands the Celtics it’s 27th and 1st in the last 4 home games with one left to go against the Orlando Magic before hitting the road to take on the Knicks. Boston will try to use the next game to get back on track so they can be ready when the Cavaliers come into town on Sunday. The Cavs will be sure to bring their A game when the top two teams in the East face off for the #1 seed. The C’s will need more than just Isaiah Thomas to do the scoring. Isaiah Thomas led all scorers in the game with 32 points against the Bucks.

Meanwhile the Bucks are slowly becoming a team no one wants to see in the playoffs. How about rookie Malcolm Brogdon! He finished with 16pts 9 assists 4 rebounds and no turnovers, he was without a doubt the heart and key to victory tonight. If  you didn’t think so already, Brogdon should be rookie of the year, in my opinion he solidified his status in the race after this game. He came up huge in a playoff atmosphere against the then current #1 seed in the East. The Greek Freak is the future of this league and he showed it tonight. The Celtics had no answer for him as he led the Bucks with 22 points 3 blocks and 9 rebounds. The Bucks shot 52% from the floor which is a huge reason for their victory. Look out for Milwaukee in the playoffs, if this young team continues to develop they will be looking to prove a point and cause some upsets.

This three game series is now tied at 1-1 with the final game on April 12th to finish out the regular season. The Celtics will be looking to get revenge and close the season out on a high note.

GAME STAT LEADERS

Original file ‎ (SVG file, nominally 250 × 250 pixels, file size ...

Isaiah Thomas: 32 pts 5 Rebounds 4 assists              

Jae Crowder: 13 pts 3 assist 2 rebounds                

Al Horford: 12 pts 10 rebounds assists

Milwaukee Bucks Logo

Giannis Antetokounmpo: 22 pts 9 rebounds 3 assists

Khris Middleton: 19 pts 6 rebounds 5 assists

Malcolm Brogdan: 16 pts 9 assists 4 rebounds

 

 

 

*Let met know your thoughts, sound off in the comments. Make sure to follow Sports Elite on Facebook and Twitter and look for Sports Elite Blogs on sporteselite1.wordpress.com.*

*Feature image credit of Associated Press*

NBA Non-Playoff Run: The Basketball Gods are coming

nba-logo-w1200

By: Will Stevenson

With the end of the NBA regular season coming to an end, the actual basketball coverage continues to dwindle. We have teams at the top of the standings that are just hoping to get to the playoffs without any injuries, teams in the middle jockeying for home court, teams at the bottom still fighting to stay in the playoffs, and the teams trying kinda-sorta to keep their lottery pick. The teams who have no hopes of the playoffs are shutting down veteran players and giving those minutes to the young guys, while those coming up on free agency are showcasing for the offseason. Defense hasn’t been great this season, so those games between losing teams seems unwatchable to most casual NBA fans. The NBA isn’t like most sports as in they have a long season, so marquee matchups down the stretch don’t have the shine as they were suppose to have when the scheduling was being made. More than those who are in the playoffs, lets take a look at the teams we thought would be competing for a playoff spot this year.

  1. Hornets (32-40) 3 GB of the 8th seed
    Kemba Walker has done all he can to keep the Hornets afloat this season. Even with the emergence of Cody Zeller and Frank Kamisky, the Hornets are still a team full of face cards: They can’t outright win with a spade, but they can get a book every now and then with a King of Clubs. Coach Clifford has been able to adjust to the NBA’s rising pace of play by adding more shooters and letting the big men go from the previous roster. The Hornets have one scorer, Kemba Walker, and with them being a below average defensive team, won’t cut it in today’s NBA. Let me not forget about the poor play of Nicholas Batum who is often injured and inconsistent of being a number two player on a given team. The Basketball Gods have awarded the Hornets with Kemba, but it seems as though everything else is just average: Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, Kaminsky, Zeller, Batum and Joseph Forte… I mean Jeremy Lamb.

2. Timberwolves (28-43) 6.5 GB of the 8th seed
50-32, that was pretty much the consensus after Tom Thibodeau was named the Head Coach in the offense. With the play of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach Lavine, we had high hopes the Wolves we become the Western Conference darlings, much like the Trailblazers last season. We must have forgotten about the ability to learn team defense and the fact their young stars are just that: Young. Even before the season started, Coach Thibs didn’t like his roster as rumors of old Bulls being traded to the Wolves circulated. Wiggins still hasn’t been able to match is on-ball defense with his offense, and the Wolves aren’t adapting to the 3pt barrage as the rest of the league as of yet.

3. Lakers (21-51) 2nd worst record in the league
New coach, new system, but the same players. The Lakers came out the gate average, but they played with energy, hustle, and ESPN showcase defense. After the injury to Russell, it all fell apart and the run to keep that Top 3 protected pick in this year’s draft was the only thing to shoot for. I didn’t think the Lakers would make a playoff run, but I imagined them winning 30-35 games this season. Maybe the Basketball Gods will punish the Lakers again and knock them out of the lottery this season. Only can only hope.

4. Pelicans (30-42) 5 GB of 8th seed
Anthony Davis. That’s pretty much the team in a nutshell, but after an offseason spending on mediocre role players, the Pelicans were looking to be a team of 3 and D. Jrue Holliday , Tyreke Evans, and Quincy Pondexter started out the season on the IR, and Buddy Heild was shooting like the Raptors in last year’s playoffs. Then, the Pelicans pulled off a ransom for Demarcus Cousins. They were 3GB of the 8th seed at that point, and they’ve been falling since. 30 games isn’t enough to say the “Fire and Ice” experiment failed, or to move Boogie in the offseason if they can’t extend him, or to fire Alvin Genty, but the Pelicans must figure out if they want to resign Holliday and keep the team they have for the next few seasons. Once, again, I’m hoping the Basketball Gods give the Pelicans a Top 3 pick. In that case, the Kings would lose out on the opportunity to have 2 lottery picks this season. Or maybe the Pelicans don’t deserve to have a lottery pick this year. I’m conflicted.

5. Blazers (33-38) 1.5 GB of the 8th seed
We see it all the time in sports. A team stays hot and overachieves during a season, and then they overcomplicate things in the offseason which makes the next season impossible to replicate. The Blazers were flying high as they lost in the second round to the Warriors last year. They have two guards that could score form any place on the floor, 3 and D winds, and athletic big men who could run the floor and make plays from the high post. It all went downhill with the explosion of the Salary Cap last summer. The Blazers needed to hit the salary floor and add players to a roster that seem pretty good, and young. They paid Mo Harkless, Allen Crabbe, Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli. Harkless is average, Crabbe is average, Evan Turner needs the ball to perform, and Festus hasn’t played a game this season. Offense is the trend this season, but if your guards can’t stop penetration and your bigs can’t defend the rim on a consistent basis, then a bad shooting night will result in multiple losses.

6. Bulls (34-39) 1.5 GB of the 8th seed
Breaking News: The Bulls have signed Rajon Rondo and Dwayne Wade. I knew it was downhill from there. After the Bulls let Noah go and traded Derrick Rose, I figured they would be going in a younger direction, even with Taj Gibson outplaying Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic at every turn. I figured, and I was wrong. The Bulls decided to go against conventional and analytical wisdom to pick up two over-thirty-non shooting-high usage players to their team. Even after the high 3pt percentage games to start out the season and a Wade game-winner, the Bulls fell back to earth as they should  have. They ended up trading Gibson and McBuckets to the Thunder for Cameron Payne, and lost Wade to injury a few weeks ago. To no surprise, they’ve played better without him. Rondo’s play on the court hasn’t been the issue this year as he has played well off the bench. I don’t know what the Bulls will do this offseason, but I do not want to see them get swept by the Cavaliers if they make the playoffs. If by chance, the Kings get screwed in the lottery and they land outside the top 10, the Bulls will get that pick. I don’t know what the Basketball Gods will do this summer.

For these franchises, the season was full of hope back in October. Whether it was injury or inconsistent play, these teams will fin d themselves in the lottery if they don’t make a final push to be swept in the playoffs.  If not, there’s always Tinder.

The new Twin Towers?

By Lawrence Edwards 

 

Sampson + Olajuwon, Duncan + Robinson, Gasol + Bynum; there have been several duos dubbed the “twin towers” in the NBA and each of them special in their own right. Depending on the era you grew up in you got to witness how special it can be to have two dominant big men supplying rim protection and rebounding down low, it forced other teams to think twice about going inside. Yes in this era the flashy 3 point shooting is slowly becoming more popular than the drive to the hoop. But if all goes well this generation could witness one of the best instances of twin towers that we’ve seen in years. Last night the Sacramento Kings sent shockwaves through the NBA and the All-Star game wasn’t even concluded yet. They traded DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, Tyreke Evans and 2 1st and 2nd round picks.

New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) blocks the shot of ...

DeMarcus cousins is the best PF/C combo in the NBA right now and he just teamed up with another one of the best PF/C in the NBA in Anthony Davis. With teams looking to team up super stars the Pelicans decided to do it the old school way with making their own version of the twin towers. When the news of this trade was first announced there were two immediate thoughts to this from what I saw – “They won’t be able to coexist”, “This will be the best big man duo in years” now both of these are valid assumptions. On one hand you have two big dominant post players who both demand the ball in their hands and can make special things happen with it and that could be a recipe for selfishness and tension between the two but I don’t think that happens here…

DeMarcus Cousins Has Added a New Skill: Draining 3-Pointers | STACK

Here’s why it will work…

  1. Both Boogie and Davis can play the center position so they can switch out between the 4 and the 5 spot
  2. Both are averaging over 27 points a game double digit rebounds and couple blocks a game
  3. DeMarcus Cousins is actually an underrated passer, he is averaging almost 5 assist a game – 4.8 to be exact – which will bode well for Davis down low
  4. Cousins is a big man who can shoot and play from the perimeter which mean less bodies down low for Davis to contend with, with offensive rebounding
  5. They come from the same school coached by the same coach during the John Calipari era at the University of Kentucky

The chemistry for these two should not be hard to come by. Anthony Davis obviously needed help in NOLA and Boogie gets the chance to breathe fresh air after a toxic stint in Sacramento. This could be possibly the best move for both players and organizations. Yes Sacramento hasn’t been too good at developing their young players lately like Nik Stauskas and Ben McLemore to name a couple, so fans being skeptical and concerned about getting Buddy Heild and draft picks in the trade for what was their franchise player of elite caliber should be normal, but how long do you expect Cousins continue to give his all for an organization he has a rocky relationship with? For the New Orleans Pelicans however, this is a slam dunk trade. Yes they traded away a young player in Buddy Hield but in it they gained another player whom you can build a franchise around. Of course I don’t expect this to just work right out of the gate, you need time to mesh, but I think it could happen quickly between these two. If this works out well, NOLA just made a massive contribution to ensuring their future is bright. Once they get a viable backcourt, the sky’s the limit for this team now. In an era where you live and die by the 3 pointer, teams had better hope their shooters bring their A game when they play NOLA because anything inside will be near impossible to accomplish with the amount of rim protection NOLA is boasting. I really hopes this works out, it will be very nice to see the dynamic of the “twin towers” make its way back into the NBA.

All-Star Weekend = Garbage Truck Juice

By Will Stevenson

Welcome to NBA All-Star Weekend 2017! This has been garbage-truck juice. Has there been anything that has lived up to the hype as of now? The skills challenge had the most intrigue of the weekend as Kristaps Porzingis took home the trophy for the Bigs. The Rising Star Challenge, which featured rookie and 2nd year players on 2 teams (Team USA and Team World), was lackluster as usual. It always ends up turning into a “who can shoot the most threes” game, which as a viewer, is a boring game. It is an exhibition game, and we would all crush teams and players if anyone was to get injured because they decided to “play hard”. Does anyone do crossovers anymore? There use to be a time when guys would go one on one and attempt to embarrass their competitor, but I suppose those days are over.

The Three-Point contest is what it is. There are eight guys shooting thirty shots in under a minute, and it doesn’t get more exciting than that. The TPC doesn’t need tweaking as much as it needs guys to hit the shots. I would prefer guys to be able to be mobile when shooting, but that’s just me.

The Dunk Contest comes and goes, and this year it was a stinker. They’ve played with the format so much that there’s no room for error. Each contestant gets two dunks, but not consecutively. That means you do your first dunk, and then you wait for your next turn which seems virtually impossible to gain any type of rhythm if anything were to go wrong. We have seen enough YouTube videos and dunk videos to know that the best dunkers in the world aren’t in the NBA, but the NBA isn’t the type to outsource their entertainment (pay people to join the festivities).

We all know the main issue with the All-Star Weekend: There isn’t enough money changing hands for the events. Actual prize money being awarded to winners is better than charity money. If I’m in the Dunk Contest, 500 thousand made out to me sounds better than any trophy. Let’s be honest, betting makes things more exciting.

Is there anything interesting about today’s All-Star Game, other than KD and Westbrook? no. All we can hope for is some type of petty behavior that we want to see, but will also condemn afterwards. Funny how that works.

Lebron James: The Sword of Damocles

By: Will Stevenson

Today, I will attempt to “stick to sports”.  Among the things that have circulated throughout the news cycle, the daily soap opera that persist with the Cleveland Cavaliers is something to behold. Lebron hasn’t been much of an outspoken player when it comes to other players, staff and teammates through the media. He’s more of a coy mastermind, the type of person that gives ambiguous comments to push his team, and/or other players in the league. Lebron has wielded his power since leaving Miami, as he showcased in his “coming home” letter in which he purposely left out Dion Waiters and Andrew Wiggins. From the Kevin Love trade, the acquiring of JR Smith (the main priority) and Iman Shumpert, to the filling out of the bench with his personal favorites, Lebron has been able to contrast his own team of his liking. With two consecutive Finals appearances and one championship last June, there isn’t much for the Cleveland fanbase to complain about. There shouldn’t be much for Lebron to complain about, right?

There is one thing that Lebron gave up last summer: Leverage. After the Finals comeback over the Warriors, Lebron was “back on the market” as an unrestricted free agent. In years past, he has signed a two year deal with a player option for the second year. This was done to maximize his contract and to always keep the Griffins on their heals when it cam eto his demands, and hey responded as needed. With the potential lockout looming at the time, and the tv deals up for reconstruction, Lebron decided to sign a three year deal with a player option after the second year. This is very different from past years, and the Cavs brass have taken advantage of it.

  1. JR Smith had to wait for his contract
  2. Tristan Thompson had to wait for his contract
  3. Kay Felder was drafted
  4. The Cavs 15th roster spot has been vacant since the Kyle Korver trade
  5. No Melo
  6. Matthew Dellavadova was not replaced
  7. Lebron leads the league in minutes

Now most would say Lebron is doing his usual January pouting, as the Cavaliers finish up January with their worst record in terms of losses. I would contend that Lebron looks at the Spurs and Warriors and knows that the way the Cavaliers are playing will not get them another championship. He looks at the game logs and realizes he’s playing the most minutes in the league, and at his age, he should not be doing so. A player like Lebron should be around 31-33 minutes a night, not wasting minutes in order to keep the Cavs afloat.

Is this an issue with the Cavs management? Is this an issue with the Cavs players? Is Lebron secretly pissed off in his personal life? Who pissed in Lebron’s cheerios? It was all good during the Halloween party, what happened. Oh yes, JR Smith got hurt, Mo Williams never returned and Kyrie still is a facilitator, even though he’s having a career year in assists.

We can bash Lebron all we want, but if Lebron doesn’t win the Finals, we’ll crush him once again like we always do. He’s doing what he needs to do to have a balanced, healthy team come playoff time. He knows the limitations of their offense, and the lack of defense, but it’s only the regular season. We know what the Cavs can bring when it comes playoff time, and we’ve seen the evidence of their lockdown defense and explosiveness on offense.

PS. Please sign Lance Stephenson. Please.

The divorce the Knicks need!!

The New York Knicks have the second worst record since Christmas Day at 3-13. Only the Brooklyn Nets have a worse record during that span. Keep in mind the Knicks employ a former MVP (who in all fairness has had his share of injury issues, but is having a bounce back season) and a 3 time Olympic gold medalist, 12 time all star in Carmelo Anthony. I haven’t mentioned “The Unicorn” who may be the best young talent in the league… So how did the Knicks crumble so quickly?

Look no further than Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson. Both Star player and team president are headed for a nasty divorce. The divorce isn’t hurting the Knicks as much as the custody battle (power struggle) both parties are involved in. Even Phil has given hints by sending coded messages through his long-time friend Charley Rosen. Now Melo has finally admitted that he may be open to the idea of a trade. So all the signs are there and the Knicks need a fresh start as badly as Melo needs one.

Which brings me to my next point, Jackson had the Knicks on the rebuilding path. Until he sold the farm for Derrick Rose. While Rose has had his moments, he is no more then an average point guard. Trading away a young talented PG in Grant and a defensive presence in Lopez (who’s contract is very team friendly compared to Noah’s) is not how you build a team. The Knicks can no longer subscribe to the idea of a quick rebuild.

In order for the Knicks to truly contend they must build around the promising future of their 7’3 unicorn. That mean Rose and Melo should be dealt for draft picks and young talent. The Knicks shouldn’t stop there, any player not named Porzings, Hernangomez  or Kuzminskas should be up for grabs.

Teams like Boston and the Bucks should be targeted since both teams have draft picks and young talent. Think something along the lines of Kris Middleton or Marcus Smart packaged with draft picks.

Last but not least Phil Jackson should also be shown the door. While he should be credited with acquiring Porzings and Hernangomez, he has also made some very bad moves. Giving Carmelo Anthony a no trade clause while he is exiting his prime was a huge mistake. Then signing Joakim Noah to a 74 million dollar deal when no other team was committing anything near that dollar amount can also be filed under “the Isaiah Thomas school of thought”.

As I have said previously the Knicks need a systemic upgrade. Until they make those changes they will forever be untangled in a cycle of perpetual mediocrity.

The Orlando Magic Need to Sell Now

By Leo Silbert

The Magic haven’t been a good basketball team since Dwight Howard demanded to get out-of-town.  Since then, they have had plenty of chances to pick players who could be the centerpiece of the team, but instead they have mostly picked up role players.  Currently they have a young corps of players who can be a big part of their success.  Aaron Gordon is a guy who I believe is made to be a power forward in this league, the way the league is moving towards small ball.  He is hyper athletic and has shown ability to defend anywhere on the court, even if he does need to add a little bit of weight to really bang in the interior consistently.  Elfrid Payton has great court vision and can be one of the best traditional point guards in the league both on offense and on defense.  Evan Fournier has great size for a shooting guard and has shown the ability to score, but I think he’d be best served as the #2 guy for an offense.  Nikola Vucevic is a center who is good on offense and at rebounding.  Vucevic isn’t an ideal player to have since he isn’t much of a rim protector but for now he is pretty much stuck where he is until the 2018-2019 season when he is in his contract year.  He isn’t a piece that is absolutely necessary to replace before they have their finishing piece in first.

Now, I mentioned the finishing piece that the Magic need, and that is an alpha male scorer at the small forward position.  This draft has a top-level small forward in Josh Johnson who would fit great onto the team, but the team only has the 11th worst record in the league at the moment so they need to be worse before they can get better.  Now, they have a few valuable trade assets in their contract years on their team right now who I think they should trade before the trade deadline to make sure #1 they get some kind of value instead of nothing when they leave in free agency.  Those two assets are Serge Ibaka and Jeff Green.  These are two guys that can help raise a playoff team’s hopes for one year, and not have to be worried about the next year unless the team wants to resign them (which is something they’d only know for sure if they already had him).

For Ibaka, I think the perfect destination for him that can have the cap space would be the Milwaukee Bucks.  The Bucks have a truly exciting young duo in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker.  They also have a big man in the middle who can rebound and is decent on offense in the post, but who struggles protecting the rim.  They also have another enticing piece in Khris Middleton who makes this team have a scary trio that can make noise if they make the playoffs.  Now, what they are missing is a defensive anchor on defense and since they have Monroe they would need someone who spreads the floor more so Giannis and Middleton can still drive easily.  Ibaka is a defensive minded big who has a decent mid-range game.  This scenario would also give the Bucks easily the biggest starting 5 in the NBA ], with Middleton and Parker being the shortest at 6’8 each.  I feel like this is the type of move that would give Milwaukee the best shot to make noise in the playoffs and possibly upset a higher seed in the east.  Now, what would Orlando get out of this deal?  I would like to see them try to get Thon Maker.  Ibaka is what Maker can be with proper development.  Maker would be the eventual replacement for Vucevic so that fills their need of having to find his replacement in the future.  I’d also see them getting a 1st round pick this year out of the deal with a lottery protection on it in case the Bucks lose Giannis and Parker to injury.  Now according to ESPN’s trade machine, this wouldn’t work so each team would have to add a piece.  The Magic can throw in Jodie Meeks to be a backup guard for the Bucks and the Bucks could choose from either Miles Plumlee or John Henson given their salaries and this trade would even out.  If I was Orlando I’d try to get Henson since he is only on a 1 year deal and Plumlee would stick them with 3 bigs all on deals for the next three years with none of their contracts easy to move.

For Green, finding just the right spot is a bit more difficult.  He isn’t the same player he was on the Celtics, but he can still be a valuable asset to a team that needs help at the 3 or the 4.  The team would also need cap space to take Green’s $15 million cap hit.  One team that fits those criteria is the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The Thunder right now have Russell Westbrook who is dominating the league like a point guard hasn’t done since Oscar Robertson in the 1961-1962 season.  Victor Oladipo is a solid 2 guard and a solid #2 scoring option as well as an above average defender.  They also have Steven Adams who is a decent center who excels on defense.  The combination of Steven Adams and Enes Kanter sharing the floor though kills the team’s spacing so adding in an athletic forward who can spread the floor some and not be lost on defense would probably help their team in the hopes of raising their spot in the Western Conference standings.  Now, they bring back Jeff Green for a 2nd stint in OKC, and they have a much better chance of rising up to potentially the 5th or even 4th seeds with what they have already and Green.  Now, Green is struggling this year but I feel like the Magic aren’t using him correctly and are trying to force too many things to happen at once so I think a move to OKC where Green won’t be asked to do too much would be very beneficial.  Now for the pieces OKC would have to give up.  Anthony Morrow is an expiring contract so he’s a good piece to deal and Alex Abrines is a spot-up shooter who is making enough money to make this trade work and he can be a good role player down the line once the Magic finally fix their problems, so the frugal Thunder ownership may want a future first round pick swap to give themselves some backup in case Green isn’t as good of a fit as I think.  For the pick swap I think 2019 would be the ideal for both teams.  Westbrook will be in the middle of his contract extension with an increasing salary cap so the team can possibly sign a 2nd star in free agency by then to give the team a good shot at the title.  By then the Magic should be approaching playoff readiness if they are able to pick up Josh Johnson or Jayson Tatum if Johnson is gone when they pick, this year so they’ll be still be a lottery team, but they won’t be a real threat to pick first overall.

So that is what I think the Magic should do.  They need to set themselves up to fail now so they can have a shot at a great talent now that will fit their needs and then they’ll be able to start sorting out the mess they created by signing Bismack Biyambo to a massive contract this past offseason.