The Trilogy: NBA Finals


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.

Warriors in 6.

JGOOD

Ball Is Life: Windy City’s Spaniards


Last week, I mentioned that I was part of a basketball network at Purdue University Northwest. Apparently, some people within this unofficial fraternity has experienced some unbelievable moments and rare opportunities. A prime example of this is my good friend Angel Martin de Soto, who was the personal assistant of Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic. I’ve known Angel since 2011 when he first came to the United States from Spain.

He’s one of the best all-around basketball players I ever played with (intramural basketball teammates). From his home country of Spain, Angel has been playing basketball since the age of six. He has played with the youth teams of Unicaja Malaga, one of the Top 5 teams in Spain. Angel has also played 4 years semi-pro in the 3rd Division in Spain.

If you don’t know, Nikola Mirotic is from Spain as well. The 6 foot 10 inch forward was drafted by Houston Rockets with the 23rd overall pick in 2011, but his draft rights were ultimately traded to the Chicago Bulls. Mirotic stayed in Spain until 2014, where he and Real Madrid (basketball team in Spain) reached a buyout of his contract.

Image result for nikola mirotic

I’ve been a Bulls fan ever since I can remember. When Angel first told me about his unusual opportunity back in April of 2015, I was stunned (I actually have that  conversation saved on Facebook).

The reason why I worked for him, it is because Nikola was looking for an assistant that help them with their daily basis in his freshman year. I have a really good relation with his agent and he called me to have a interview.

Even though this job was an experience of a lifetime, just like any job, it came with some hard work and some inconvenient duties.

Everyday was different. It was basically 24/7 on call for whatever they (him and his wife) might need. I usually help them with their personal documents, travel arrangements, game day assistance, like hosting the guests, get their tickets and passes. Also, few times we did some shooting practice in his days off.

On the positive side, just like any job, there are a few benefits that make it worth your time there.

 

img_0482
Black Mamba warming up

 

The fact that both Angel and Nikola Mirotic are from Spain was probably the icing on the cake during their time together. To have someone with you from the same country when trying to adjust to another country’s culture makes the transition less hectic. Angel stopped working for Nikola Mirotic this past August to move back to Spain, but he has truly helped Mirotic adjust to the American culture. As long as Nikola Mirotic is a Chicago Bulls player, I will continue to cheer for him, especially knowing one of my friends has assisted him off the court.

JGOOD

2016-17 NBA Season Predictions


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.

Image result for kevin durant warriors
Kevin Durant signs with Golden State

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.

Image result for d'angelo russell jordan clarkson
D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson

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.

Image result for russell westbrook nba preseason 2016
Russell Westbrook

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).

Image result for kevin durant stephen curry nba preseason 2016
2016 Golden State Warriors

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.

Image result for ben simmons summer league
Ben Simmons

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.

Image result for hassan whiteside
Hassan Whiteside

 

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.

Image result for derrick rose new york knicks
Derrick Rose

 

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.

Image result for dwyane wade bulls preseason
Dwyane Wade

 

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.

Image result for dwight howard atlanta hawks preseason
Dwight Howard going home

 

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.

Image result for cleveland cavaliers 2016 preseason
Reigning Champs

 

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 

nba-predictions

D.Reed @freshprynce23 (Twitter and Instagram)
JGood @jgoodwithsports (Twitter and Instagram)
Cello @brimology101 (Twitter)
Reap @reapdareaper07 (Twitter)
Chris @mrwsa11 (Twitter)

NBA Free Agency: Biggest Winners And Losers


What a free agency that we are experiencing!! I’ve already mentioned the insane contracts that are being handed out. Now the only question left is who is actually benefiting from this event. Here’s the biggest winners and losers of this summer:

WINNERS

Golden State

Last year the Spurs locked down Lamarcus Aldridge on Independence Day. This year Kevin Durant declared his independence and joined the 2-time reigning Western Conference champs. This is the first time ever that former MVPs are on the same team in their respective primes. The Warriors were on the verge of a repeat without KD. With Durant, this team has dynasty potential (similar to when LeBron joined the Miami Heat).

San Antonio

Even though they missed out on Kevin Durant, they was able to sign Pau Gasol, who they have coveted for years. Having him and Lamarcus Aldridge makes their offensive difficult to stop. They are interchangeable between the low and high post and Gasol is a skillful passer. If Duncan decides to return, they will make a formidable front court. Oh, and not to mention Kawhi Leonard and others.

Indiana

The Pacers was relevant in the Eastern Conference 3 years ago but fell off due to a leg injury by Paul George and roster changes. They had already traded for Thaddeus Young and Jeff Teague before free agency started. Them signing Al Jefferson, along with already having Monte Ellis and their superstar Paul George, has made them a dark horse to get back to competitive status. I’ve heard they may bring back Lance Stephenson as well.

New York

A month ago, the Knicks didn’t look like they would improve too much this summer but that all changed after trading for Derrick Rose. Phil Jackson added Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Jennings for much needed depth. New York should be a contender in the East. Just when you thought Phil didn’t care about the Knicks organization, he pulls off some impressive transactions.

Chicago

When Derrick Rose was traded, management said that they wanted to get younger and more athletic, but also didn’t want to completely rebuild. They turned around and signed Rajon Rondo and Dywane Wade. That’s definitely goes against what was said  in he first part, but nonetheless the additions with Jimmy Butler makes the Bulls lineup intriguing. The team has the potential to do great things.

LOSERS

Oklahoma City

Losin Kevin Durant makes them the biggest loser of the summer by default. They went from a title contender to a team that will struggle to make the playoffs. What’s even worse, unless Russell Westbrook decides to sign a contract extension, the Thunder would be wise to trade him now so this situation doesn’t happen again a year from now.

LA Clippers

The Clippers missed out on Kevin Durant and resigned Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford. The bad part about this is that the teams that they have to beat to get to the NBA Finals (Spurs and Warriors) have gotten significantly better while they have stayed the same or gotten slightly worse. Unless DeAndre Jordan learns how to make free throws, the Clippers will always be inferior.

Houston

Look, 2 years ago the Rockets overachieved by going to the Western Conference Finals. Last season they barely sneaked into the playoffs like an 18 year old getting into a club with a fake ID. I don’t care how Dwight Howard was playing or his attitude, losing him and replacing him with Nene is not acceptable. Maybe this team will actually play better if James Harden starts playing defense or limit the isolation plays. Until then, this team is mediocre at best (Good luck making the playoffs next season).

Miami

Pat Riley and the Miami Heat are known to be aggressive when going after superstar free agents. However, striking out with Kevin Durant and then being stubborn and”playing chicken” with Dywane Wade has left Miami without their franchise player. Sure, they have plenty if cap space now and will be big players next summer but for time being, it’s not longer “Wade County” in Miami. Oh and not to mention, there’s still uncertainty on Chris Bosh’s future.

Washington

Last offseason, when the Wizards couldn’t keep Paul Pierce, the wheels started to fall apart (and other parts were dismantled as well in summer). First, Kevin Durant, who is from the D.C. area, doesn’t even request an interview with Washington. Next, the Wizards couldn’t land Dwight Howard or Al Horford. Lastly, they signed Ian Mahinmi (29 years old). He was a backup center for the Pacers making 4 million. The Wizards gave him 64 million over 4 years (16 million per season if the contract paid out equally). I know the contracts this offseason have been outrageous but to over pay an unproven player sounds desperate to me.

Decisions, Decisions


We all make decisions in life. Some minor. Some major. Some might only effect yourself and some could impact others. Sometimes it can take days, weeks, months, or even years to decide OR it could take a split second. Regardless of the decisions that you make, just make sure you’re happy about it and can live with it. 

With all that being said, I’m sure the whole United States and parts of the world has heard about Kevin Durant’s career decision. The reactions have been mixed to say the least. He’s been called “weak”, a “coward”, and names far more vulgar than you can imagine. I’ve seen videos of Kevin Durant jerseys and shirts being set on fire and even obliterated with automatic weapons. I can’t say that this is the worst I’ve seen from a decision like this because LeBron’s choice had a similar impact in the city of Cleveland in 2010. 

I was one of the people who got on LeBron for leaving to form the big 3 in Miami. I felt like he ran from the challenge to make his life easier. I thought he lied to the city by promising them a title but bolted. The fact that he went on live TV to announce his decision wasn’t right. It was just unacceptable.

However, now I understand. If LeBron didn’t leave he wouldn’t have learned how to win. Playing with a proven winner like Dwyane Wade molded him. I don’t believe he would have the mental tools to bring a championship to Cleveland. Also, he was already getting criticized for not winning so he put himself in position to win multiple titles and that’s what he did. The same thing applies for Kevin Durant. He spent 8 years with the Thunder  organization (first year as the Supersonics) and only been to the NBA Finals once. When the Heat formed the big 3, Durant mentioned on Twitter that he didn’t understand why you need to team up with other stars. At the time, Kevin thought he would win a championship soon. When you keep losing year after year (meaning not winning a  championship), it will take a toll on you.

Kevin Durant went to the Golden State Warriors because playing with great teammates makes his job easier and he will have the chance to win multiple rings. People are stunned that he joined the team that eliminated him. In my opinion, I don’t think he thought of it in that way. I believe that this team gave him the best chance to win. The guy was already criticizing for losing (like LeBron was). If he chose any other team, he would’ve felt backlash as well (except maybe the Celtics). If he stayed in Oklahoma City and never won a championship, he would’ve been like Karl Malone or Charles Barkley: to win MVP, a Olympic gold medal, but no NBA championship. We always like to compare the great players to Michael Jordan. We know that Michael wouldn’t want to join the competition (he would want to beat them), but we have to realize and accept that KD or LeBron are not MJ.

He made the choice for himself and now he’s has to live with it. More pressure is on him to win and win now. To join the team that had the best regular season record in league history, winning is the only thing that’s acceptable. He can’t please everybody and I think he understands that, and everyone is not going to understand his decision either. At the end of the day, he made a life decision just like the rest of us.

JGOOD

History In The Making (On Father’s Day)


On this Father’s Day (Happy Father’s Day!), this game 7 of the NBA Finals will not only end the 2015-16 NBA season, but we will see history in the making not matter who wins tonight.

image

For the city of Cleveland, this could end the misery of not winning a championship in over 50 years by any of the major franchises. As a Chicago Bulls fan, I despise the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James (however, I do have respect for his greatness and his abilities). As for Cleveland, the city with a bunch of factories according to Joakim Noah, I feel bad for. Chicago Cubs fans might be the only ones suffering more than Cleveland so I get it.

image

For the Bay Area, this would cap off a season that could never be duplicated. This is the first team ever to win 73 games and only have single-digit losses. Also, this was the first time in league history that a player was named MVP by an unanimous vote. And to defeat the Cavaliers for a second straight year with Cleveland having a healthy team this time around, will solidify their place as one of the greatest teams ever. The Golden State Warriors backs are against the wall dealing with injuries of their own and losing back to games for the second time all year (Oklahoma City Thunder series). If they lose, it would be an epic collapse and one of the biggest disappointments in league history. What will the defending champs do?

image

Nevertheless, we will see an entertaining game tonight on this Father’s Day. Once again, Happy Father’s Day!

image

JGOOD

Curry Vs LeBron 2.0


image

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

JGOOD