If you’re looking for a 3-part series, you usually look for movie trilogies. The public perception says the first movie is usually the classic. The second movie is generally harder to top than the first one. And the third movie is the wild card (you’re not sure what you’re going to get). From what I experienced, the first movie is the best, the second movie is a let down, and the third movie is slightly better than the second one. Personally, I enjoyed The Matrix trilogy but others may differ. Lord Of The Rings is another iconic trilogy that people celebrated. Those movies gives you a beginning, middle, and ending.
With that being said, it’s hard to find a good trilogy these days, but we might finally get one starting June 1st. This will be the 3rd consecutive meeting between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers with enormous anticipation.
In the first matchup in 2015, the Golden State Warriors won their first NBA Title in over 40 years, beating Cleveland in 6 games. The Cleveland Cavaliers and their fans felt that the loss was a fluke because Kevin Love was out for the postseason with a shoulder injury that occurred in the first round and Kyrie Irving injured his knee in game one of the NBA Finals. Even though LeBron James was without his All-Star teammates, he still put on an outstanding performance and kept the series interesting.
In last year NBA Finals matchup, the Cleveland Cavaliers won their first NBA championship by edging out the Warriors in 7 games and also coming back from a 3 games to 1 deficit. The Golden State Warriors and their fans would say if it wasn’t for Draymond Green being suspended for game five or Andrew Bogut getting hurt, the Warriors would’ve been back to back defending champs.
You can make excuses for both teams if you choose to but the fact of the matter is that we will finally get to see a “winner take all” meeting in this long awaited rubber match. What makes this main event still admirable is the additional on Kevin Durant to the Warriors last July. He is the ultimate x-factor in this series and also has the most pressure to win. The Warriors won 73 regular season games last season and are proven champions without him. If Golden State falls short for the second consecutive year, majority of the heat will be on Durant just because of his “power-shifting” free agency decision last summer. Anything less than holding up the Larry O’Brien trophy this season will leave a stain on his legacy.
In which seems to be a conclusive matchup between these two teams, this is projected to be the best series yet. There are no injuries. No one is on track of being suspended. Each team is coming into the series well rested. All we can hope for at this point is for the series to live up to the hype. We’ll get to see a healthy Kyrie Irving against a healthy Stephen Curry. We’ll witness Kevin Durant to try to get over the hump against LeBron James. The 3 point shooting of the Cavs will be tested by the Splash Brothers of the Dubs. JR Smith will probably be JR Smith, and Draymond Green’s antics may appear once or twice. And Kevin Love would want to have a better NBA Finals performance than last year.
The series will come down to a few things. Whoever team’s role players can step up on the road will have a big advantage. We expect the stars to perform to a high level, but when you can get consistent productivity from a JaVale McGee and David West or Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye, it will take some of the burden off the starters and make them less fatigued.
Another factor is 3 point shooting. Whichever team is hitting from behind the hot consistently will make it tough for the opponent to stay in the game. The Warriors have better long distance shooters, but the Cavaliers have plenty of long range depth.
My last key point is turnovers. Golden State’s only moderate weakness is being too careless with the basketball at times (that was one of the main reasons Cleveland was able to come back last year). The Cavs will continue to make them pay if that trend continues. If the Warriors can hold on to the ball, then the Cavaliers might have their hands full.
Both teams come into the NBA Finals on dominant stretches. Golden State is undefeated in postseason play thus far and Cleveland only suffered one loss. The Warriors are the favorite in this series. Get your popcorn ready because part 3 should be rewarding for the average NBA fan.
We are living in an era where we’re witnessing historical records are being broken, mesmorizing moments from deciding games are taking place, and once in a lifetime achievements are current. Clear examples of such greatness includes the Golden State Warriors winning 73 games in a regular season, the newly infamous Julian Edelman’s catch that helped propel the New England Patriots Super Bowl LI comeback, and the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908.
We are also living in an era where we’re witnessing some of the best athletes to ever play. When I was a child, I saw Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Ken Griffey, and Jerry Rice. As I got older, I witnessed Kobe Bryant, Mario Lemieux, Derek Jeter, and Randy Moss. Now there’s LeBron James, Patrick Kane, Kris Bryant, and Julio Jones. Over the past 30 years, we’ve have seen athletes come and go, but we have all been witnesses to the greatness that certain professionals have displayed.
In the last 12 months alone, we have seen some of the best championship sporting outcomes in history. We saw March Madness end with a buzzer beater by Villanova to beat North Carolina. Two months later, the Cleveland Cavaliers ended the city’s championship drought by coming back against the Golden State Warriors down 3 games to 1 to capture their first NBA title in franchise history. Fast forward to October, we witnessed another drought end but on a more significant level. The Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in the 10th inning of game 7 after being down 3 games to 1 as well. Last month, we saw Clemson get their sweet revenge against Alabama in of the most fantastic finishes in recent memory. Serena Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam title. Less than 2 weeks ago, we’ve witnessed the best Super Bowl ending in NFL history. The UConn women’s basketball team are currently on a 100 game winning streak (that is ridiculous!).
It seems like we’re at a point where we expect great things to happen at every major sporting event. From The Master’s to Wimbledon; the Stanley Cup to the World Series; the NBA Finals to the Super Bowl, we are spoiled by greatness. Appreciate these moments while you can because all things (including exceptional moments) must come to an end.
What a year! I hope everybody enjoyed 2016. If you didn’t for whatever reason, I hope 2017 will be a better one. In the sports world, we definitely had our fair share of good and bad moments. We even had some interesting moments like Odell Beckham Jr. going one on one with a kicking net (and losing), Rougned Odor knocking the shades off of Jose Bautista’s face, Kevin Durant shaking up the NBA by signing with the Golden State Warriors, and JR Smith being topless for about half the week (supposedly) since the beginning of the Cleveland Cavaliers championship parade.
Joe Thomas Sr. (55 year old running back from South Carolina State becoming the oldest man to play Division I football. His son Joe Thomas Jr. is a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers)
Colin Kaepernick Kneeling (You may or may not agree with Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling to the National Anthem, but the reason behind the action should be the focal point)
Conor McGregor Dominance (Conor McGregor became the first 2 division champion in UFC this year. His next venture may be a fight with Floyd Mayweather, but we’ll see)
10) Ken Griffey Jr. Hall Of Fame (Almost) Unanimous
“The Kid” is my all-time favorite baseball player, ever since I saw him swing with the Seattle Mariners (I barely remember that). In January, Griffey and Mike Piazza were the only two players elected to the National Baseball Hall Of Fame. This is the hardest sport to get placed into the hall of fame because it requires 75% of the vote. The most impressive and staggering note to take away is that Griffey received the highest percent of votes in the history of Major League Baseball at 99.3% (437 out of 440 votes). Personally, Ken Griffey Jr. should have been the first unanimous hall of famer, and I would love to hear their reason for not voting Griffey in for those 3 voters who didn’t vote for him. Nevertheless, this is an astonishing achievement to cap off a remarkable career.
9) Stephen Curry: Unanimous MVP
Speaking of unanimous, Stephen Curry became the first player in NBA history to be voted unanimous MVP of a season. In 2015, the Golden State Warriors shocked the world by winning their first NBA Title in 40 years. Trying to top that achievement in 2016, the Warriors won the most games in a season in NBA history with 73, while Steph Curry was putting on a display. Even though Golden State came up a Draymond Green kick and few plays short of repeating this past June, they found a way to steal the headlines over the summer (signing of Kevin Durant).
8) Von Miller Dominates Super Bowl 50
Even though Cam Newton (#1 overall pick) was the only player selected ahead of Von Miller (#2 overall pick) in the 2011 NFL Draft, Von Miller came out on top on the biggest stage. Newton looked like “Superman” throughout the whole season until the Super Bowl, where Miller registered 2.5 sacks and forcing 2 turnovers. His constant pass rush disrupted the Carolina Panthers offense the entire game. If Von Miller wasn’t hitting the quarterback, Demarcus Ware was definitely getting a few hits in from what I remember.
7) Bolt, Phelps, USA Takeover Rio 2016
Rio 2016 will go down as one of the most memorable summer Olympics ever. It signifies the end of an era with Usain Bolt accomplishing the “triple-triple” (winning the 100m, 200m, and 4 x 100m relay races consecutively in 2008, 2012, & 2016) and Michael Phelps winning a total of 28 medals (23 gold medals). The United States also were dominant in swimming events, gymnastics, and track and field events. I’m going to miss seeing Bolt and Phelps dominate their respective competition, but I’m excited to see who’s going to be the next sensation on sports’ biggest stage in Tokyo 2020.
6) Villanova Buzzer Beater
From what I remember, Villanova has always been a tournament let down whenever they are seeded high. This past March and April, Villanova actually lived up to the hype. Their mind-blowing victory over North Carolina in the NCAA Championship game was the icing on the cake. That game, in particular, was arguably the best championship game I’ve ever witnessed. The game had non-stop action with suspense and an appropriate climax. Kris Jenkins brought the game to a close and a National Title home to “Nova”.
5) Eric Berry’s Homecoming
PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO. Eric Berry has been my favorite safety in the NFL since he came into the league back in 2010. Berry was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2014 and was pronounced cancer free in July of 2015. When he bounced back after 7 months, it gave me a stronger reason of why he’s my favorite safety. Atlanta is Eric Berry’s hometown and where he received treatment during his fight against cancer. In his first visit back since therapy, Berry had a “pick 6” and a failed 2 point conversation returned for a touchdown (another pick 6) to solidify the Kansas City Chiefs victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
4) Mamba Out: Kobe Bryant’s Final Game
On the last day of the 2015-16 regular season, you had the choice to either watch the Golden State Warriors go for 73 wins or Kobe Bryant’s last game. I caught the 4th quarter of “Mamba Out”. I wasn’t the biggest Kobe fan, but I truly respected him. Watching the final 3 to 4 minutes live gave me chills and rewatching this video duplicated how I felt about it. Seeing him leave the game lets you know that an era in the NBA has ended (and my childhood basketball icons are gone). When you add Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen (officially announced his retirement) to that list of retirees in 2016, you have a higher level of appreciation for the game of basketball (and an epic hall of fame class down the line). Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, and Manu Ginobili are next in line.
3) Cavaliers Comeback 3-1
In June of 2015, the Cleveland Cavaliers came up short in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors. Even though LeBron James nearly averaged a triple-double, missing Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving due to injuries played a crucial part of them coming up short. A year later (with healthy teammates), the Cavs pulled off an improbable comeback in the NBA Finals. What really makes this achievement special is the fact that this is the first major championship for the city of Cleveland since the Cleveland Browns won in 1964 during the Jim Brown era. This was also the first ever NBA Title for the Cavaliers. Being a Chicago Bulls fan, I wasn’t thrilled about Cleveland winning, however, I know the importance that particular title meant to the city of Cleveland. Congrats, again, to the Cleveland Cavaliers!
2) Passing Of Legends
With the amazing things that I’ve previously mentioned during this countdown thus far, we lost some great people along the way of this special year of 2016. Some of the icons that we’ve lost this year includes boxing legend Muhammad Ali (His contributions inside and outside the ring can’t be compared to another), golfing legend Arnold Palmer (golf’s most beloved figure and he surged the sport into popularity), legendary sports broadcaster Craig Sager (#SagerStrong), former NFL head coach Dennis Green (coached the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals), legendary women’s basketball head coach Pat Summitt, and ESPN’s reporter John Saunders. I know it can be sad to think about, but we should remember their achievements and how meaningful their contributions were.
1) Cubs Win!
This is by far the most memorable moment for not only this year but the best moment for certain people’s lives. There have been generations that have waited for the day for the Chicago Cubs to win a World Series championship since 1908. I remember a little over a decade ago in 2003 when the Cubs were 5 outs away from the World Series. Then…the Steve Bartman incident happened. I seriously believe Chicago is the best sports city and Chicago Cubs fans are the most loyal fans amongst all major sports. Chicago coming back from 3-1 against Cleveland (pretty ironic), which included an unreal rain delay in extra innings of game 7, made their championship more fitting for the franchise. I know a few Cubs fans that are still celebrating (and it’s well deserved). 2016 is your year, Chicago Cubs.
The NBA season is finally back after a historic NBA Championship victory by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and an offseason where Kevin Durant shook up the basketball world by signing with the Golden State Warriors. Phenoms were drafted in June and some NBA stars found different homes with contracts that would break the bank 20 years ago. My good friends Cello and Reap (yes, short for Grim Reaper), along with D.Reed and Chris helped contribute to this article. They will also be active on Twitter for this upcoming NBA season for your NBA news, updates, questions, and debates.
NBA WEST PLAYOFFS 2016-17 (Cello)
(Preseason Seed Predictions)
15. Denver Nuggets
Not much to this Denver team. They play hard even game, but it just won’t be good enough with such a tight race to the playoffs in the west.
14. Phoenix Suns
The Suns lost some players and no one on that roster really has what it takes to make them as good as they were last season. They are going to need to rebuild.
13. Sacramento Kings
On paper, this team looks like they should be in the playoffs yearly. DeMarcus Cousins is arguably the best big man in the West, but he seems to just not be able to get his team close to the playoffs. With him and Rudy Gay in the line-up, what is the problem? Seems that management just can’t surround him with the best supporting cast, and it’s only a matter of time before “Boogie” moves on to a new team.
12. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers will be in the playoff hunt in a few seasons, but there is going to be an adjustment period. The first season in 20 years without Kobe “Black Mamba” Bryant is going to be tough. At the same time, these young guys can now grow as players as last season held them back and didn’t allow them to get any real development on the court in order to celebrate Kobe’s retirement with the tour. No doubt they are better than everyone thinks. Ingram, Clarkson, and Russell are going to be exciting to watch.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves are on the rise. This team will be in the playoffs within the next few seasons. Their starting line-up is scary. With some time under their belt, expect Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns to be All-Stars. Unfortunately, this team has no bench, and that will be the reason they do not make the playoffs this season.
10. New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans just doesn’t have the pieces anymore. A couple of years ago, they were on the rise. With Anthony Davis missing most of last season’s games due to injury and the departure of Ryan Anderson, this team is in need of new pieces and that isn’t coming this season.
9. Houston Rockets
With the departure Dwight Howard, this team may be better off without him. They have added Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, and Nene,but is it enough to get this team in the playoffs? Only time will team. Right now, I think they will just miss the playoffs due to Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. May come down to a tie-breaker.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder
This team, of course, is no longer a title contender without Kevin Durant (we all know this). However, Russell Westbrook is the type of guy that will push his team into the playoffs this season. Look for him to have the best season of his career and lead his team to what would be a dream matchup between the Thunder and Warriors.
7. Utah Jazz
Seeds 7-11 will be in the mix of making the playoffs this season. Utah has progressively gotten better each of the past few years, and with their new added vets of Boris Diaw, Joe Johnson, and George Hill, these guys will only get better.
6. Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers are going to fight and claw their way right into the playoffs again. Lillard and McCollum are one of the best backcourts in the league right now. With the struggles of the Western Conference teams through the past few seasons, Portland will get to the playoffs and make some noise.
5. Memphis Grizzlies
There isn’t much to say about Memphis. They always seem to hover around the five seed. Mike Conley should come in highly confident after that contract he signed (highest paid player in NBA history, for now), and they will just keep grinding.
4. Dallas Mavericks
This team has added some championship pedigree to the roster in Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut. These two alone will continue to keep Dallas in the mix. With Dirk Nowitzki’s career coming to an end soon, don’t expect this team to make it to the make it past the second round.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers starting lineup is good. Their problem, though, is they just don’t have enough to take them to the finals. As long as the core group stays together, they will be in contention, but unless they add another key piece, don’t expect them to get past the Spurs or the Warriors any time soon.
2. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are a great team, as usual (much like the NFL’s Patriots). It really doesn’t matter who is on the floor because the system is just great. The greatest PF to play the game is now retired, but they didn’t really downgrade the position as Pau Gasol is there now (he still averages a double-double).
1. Golden State Warriors
The GSW is expected to get back to the finals. The starting line-up can do that but what people don’t realize it to get Kevin Durant, they had to give up some of their key players like Harrison Barnes and Leandro Barbosa. That can be an issue later. Right now, they are the top team in the West, we shall see once the season starts.
NBA EAST PLAYOFFS 2017
(Preseason Seed Predictions)
15. Brooklyn Nets
This team has been on a downfall for the last few seasons. Stars like Joe Johnson left and free agents like Jeremy Lin have signed. After a terrible season last year, don’t expect any improvement this year.
14. Philadelphia 76’ers
With the addition of Ben Simmons to the Sixers, this team will be very exciting to watch. Joel Embiid, will finally make his debut and his looks good. They won’t be as bad as they have been in the past few years, but they are all still young and have some building to do. This team will be good in about 3 seasons.
13. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have the potential to a very good team. Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to be a superstar in the league, but the franchise just hasn’t surrounded him with the right people. Watching this team play will be better than their record will be.
12. Orlando Magic
The Magic have some good new additions like Bismack Biyambo and Serge Ibaka, but they just don’t have the necessary star power that it’s going to take to get to the playoffs. Look for them to be in the hunt within the next 2 or 3 seasons.
11. Charlotte Hornets
This team has the pieces to make the playoff race, but the East seeds are going to be close. Teams 5-11 will be within a few games apart.
10. Washington Wizards
They always seem to be good but just not good enough. With the East being so tight this year, the Wizards look like they may just fall out of the runnings. It will definitely be close.
9. Detroit Pistons
Detroit is just on the outskirts of the playoffs. This team can float anywhere from 6/7 seed to about the 12th seed. With the addition of the Bulls possibly making the playoffs this season, the Pistons are going to just barely miss their entry.
8. Miami Heat
With the loss of Dwyane Wade, the Miami Heat will no doubt struggle to make the playoffs. With the weak of the East, they still do have enough pieces to make it to the playoffs but don’t be surprised if they slip into the 9/10 spot before season’s end.
7. New York Knicks
On paper, this team looks amazing or as D. Rose says, “super team” (but that’s on paper). The fact of the matter is the Knicks have a bunch of players who used to be stars. Now, they are a bunch of injury-prone players. I would love to see this team gel and succeed, but it seems more and more, less likely. Their playoff hopes strictly depend on whether the team can stay healthy OR if D. Rose can stay out of jail.
6. Chicago Bulls
Dwyane Wade is HOME!! But does that make the Bulls a contender? No, but this one of the most interesting teams entering this year’s association.
5. Boston Celtics
Al Horford, that’s all you need to know. This man is going to make the Celtics a tough team to beat. Last season, they played better than anyone thought they would, and this new addition can be scary with a few more additions.
4. Toronto Raptors
They Raptors will still be a decent team in the East after last year’s surprise performance to the ECF (Eastern Conference Finals). The loss of Bismack Biyambo will sting a little, but they will still be top four in the East.
3. Indiana Pacers
Paul George is a superstar and looks like he hasn’t missed a beat after that gruesome injury he had in the summer of 2014 (Team USA scrimmage). With Al Jefferson and Jeff Teague added to the roster, this may be just what they need to go deep into the playoffs.
2. Atlanta Hawks
With the Hawks acquiring Dwight Howard (where he can actively be used), he will be motivated to work hard in Atlanta (his hometown). The Hawks have some very experienced players on the roster, and they will succeed because of it.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
That’s a given. The defending champs have little competition in the East (but far more now than last season). Look for Lebron to continue to a 7th straight NBA Finals appearance. The Cavs roster hasn’t changed much but when you have Lebron James, it really doesn’t matter who else is on the team.
NBA Awards Predictions
D.Reed @freshprynce23 (Twitter and Instagram) JGood @jgoodwithsports (Twitter and Instagram)
Cello @brimology101 (Twitter)
Reap @reapdareaper07 (Twitter)
Chris @mrwsa11 (Twitter)
The rematch, that most of America wanted to see, starts tonight. Golden State virtually have the same team with (ironically) the additional of former Cleveland Cavaliers player Anderson Varejao. The Cavs (basically) have the same team except that they have included a “seldom-used” Mo Williams, and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are actually healthy.
Cleveland has looked “championship-ready” by only losing 2 playoff games (sweeping the first 2 opponents). Golden State on the other hand has dealt with a knee injury to Steph Curry (early on) and has won 3 straight elimination games, including game 7 against an elite Oklahoma City Thunder team, to earn their consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.
I expect this series to be VERY entertaining and fun. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James should put up big numbers, the unanimous MVP and fellow splash brother Klay Thompson should put on a show, both benches will perform well, and only the “hungriest” will prevail.
I think the key matchup is Draymond Green against Kevin Love. Earlier in the year I’ve called Love the most overrated player in the league because of his contract and lack of playing time in the 4th quarter (if any). I think Green will dominate this matchup as long as he’s not kicking anyone like Lui Kang. I got the Warriors in 7.
The man that was traded for the NBA 2014 number one overall pick and the same man who was a double double machine in Minnesota, is now starting to be questioned if he can coexist with the other 2 of the big 3 in Cleveland with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Initially we all thought, including LeBron, that Kevin Love would be the missing piece for the city of Cleveland to end it’s drought of winning a championship. Kevin Love’s ability to rebound, stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting, and his fastbreak starting ability convinced LeBron and the Cavaliers to trade away Andrew Wiggins. What wasn’t taken into account was Love’s inability to defend, especially against the pick and roll and help side defense.
Kevin Love signed a 5 hear, $110 million deal over the summer. While Irving was out at the beginning of the season, LeBron emphasized that Love would be the focal point of the offense. Last year, Kevin would look misplaced and lost within the system with James and Irving on the court. Once Kyrie returned in December, much of the same continued. When Cleveland initially made the trade, they promised Kevin that he would receive his (max) contract. I’m starting to think they just gave him his money based on that reason alone, and not because they wanted to use him long term (at this point). At times, the team would take him out during the 4th quarter of his defensive deficiencies. If you can’t play in the 4th because of that or the inability to hit free throws (other players qualify here), then you don’t deserve a max contact in my opinion (don’t you agree?). And if you don’t deserve a max contract but is currently under a max contract, then you’re overrated. Being teamed up with LeBron has exposed Kevin Love’s flaws on the national stage. When he was in Minnesota, Ricky Rubio was always hurt so Kevin did everything. Love has 11 20-point-20-rebound games in his career. None of them has happened since joining the Cavaliers. I’m convinced to say that he is the most overrated player in the NBA at the moment. Not taking away from what he’s excellent at but when you’re on the same team as LeBron and you’re outcasted and isolated by your own teammates and in the middle of trade rumors, then you wonder why Minnesota gave him a 4 year contract extension instead of a max contract the first time around. There’s no love in Minnesota. There’s starting to have no love in Cleveland. So my question is where is the love?