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NBA News

Lessons I learned from playing poker that helped my improve my basketball skills posted by NBA News

Poker is a game that some try to discourage due to its perceived association to gambling. Some parents may discourage their children from playing the game; for fear that it could eventually lead to a gambling problem. However, this attitude is wrong, given the many benefits that both children and adults can gain from playing the game.

Playing poker requires a diverse range of skills that you acquire over some period of time. These skills can be applied in different areas of your life, from the sports you participate in to businesses and the personal relationships and interactions you have to handle on a day to day basis.

Making Timely Decisions

One of the ways lock poker helped me improve my basketball skills, was to improve my ability to make judgments. I learned to read non verbal cues that I could read from my opponents and use that to make split second decision. It made me realize that non verbal cues can add improve decision making. I realized it is possible to learn to look for this cues as when training and playing in the field, without necessarily knowing what to look out for.

The beauty of poker, is that it helps you to learn things faster. You recognize patterns and learn to identify them quickly. The game has a tight feedback system that enhances the learning process. Other games do not. But if you play this game for an extended period of time, you will teach your mind to identify these patterns.

Taking Risks

Another way that this poker helped me to improve my basketball skills was to learn how and when to take risks. The consequences of taking certain risks become apparent almost immediately. As a result you learn to weigh the risks. You become increasingly aware of the weight of your actions and learn to make the right decision on your feet.

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NBA News

Tips To Becoming A Professional Sports Bettor posted by NBA News

Gambling is one of the oldest forms of commercial activities known to man.  There are many types of gambling and one of the most popular is sports betting.  To put it in layman’s term, sports betting is simply predicting and placing a wager on the outcome of a sports event.

For most people, sports betting is merely a hobby that can be addictive and engaging. People place wagers on the outcome of the Super Bowl, for instance. Through sports betting, cheering for a particular team or athlete becomes more thrilling since there is money involved.

However, for some people, sports betting is not just a recreational activity that they enjoy. In fact, they rely on sports betting for their main source of income. These professional sports bettors don’t just rely on luck. After all, luck can’t be on their side most of the time to make sports betting their primary source of income.

Sports betting is not for everyone. It takes a lot of guts for people to make sports betting their bread and butter. For the few who are inclined to make sports betting their number one source of income, here are some tips to become successful in this endeavor.

The first key to being a professional sports bettor is to learn how to be detached to a certain sports team or athlete. In sports betting, it is very common for recreational bettors to place a wager on their favorite team or athlete. For instance, a bettor from New York is inclined to put his money on the Knicks instead of, say, the Miami Heat. Emotional attachment to a sports team or athlete is one of the obstacles to becoming a successful professional sports bettor. When one bets solely or mainly on the basis of preference, then there are higher chances that he or she will end up on the losing side.

Continue reading "Tips To Becoming A Professional Sports Bettor"


NBA News

The Kentucky Derby is Just Around the Corner posted by NBA News

The Kentucky Derby is considered as the most exciting two minutes in all of sports.  It is held every year in Kentucky, Louisville.  It is the highlight of the two-week long Kentucky Derby Festival. It is the first leg of the US Triple Crown, followed by the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Unlike the other two races, the Kentucky Derby has been held every year since 1875.  This year, the event is slated on May 4. Several horses are being picked as top contenders in the race. These include Verrazano, Revolutionary and Shanghai Bobby. Like in previous years, the Kentucky Derby is expected to draw a lot of interest with millions of people placing bets on their favorite horses. You can make money by betting on the Kentucky Derby, and this article discusses how. 

First, you should be familiar with the betting terminologies. A win pertains to a bet on a horse you think will win the race, while a place pertains to a bet on a horse you think will end up either in first or second place. A show is a bet on a horse you think will finish first, second or third.  The three are the basic types of wagers offered by Churchill Downs, the racetrack that hosts the derby.  There are also exotic wagers, or more complicated types that include exacta (picking the top 2 finishers), trifecta (picking the top 3 finishers) and superfecta (picking the top 4 finishers). 

In the Kentucky derby, you are betting against other players. Churchill Downs gets a slice of the total pool (around 15 to 20%) and then the rest of the money is given to all the players that have the winning tickets.  If it is your first time to bet, you can check live KY derby betting odds to have a better idea on which horse to put your money on. 

Continue reading "The Kentucky Derby is Just Around the Corner"


Lakers News

Lakers Flourishing With Bynum posted by Lakers News

The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers will always be a  basketball betting favorite to win the title, as they’ve lifted the Larry O’Brien Trophy five times since 2000, and have gone to the Finals seven times in total. The Lakers are starting to surge just in time for the postseason, and having  Andrew Bynum playing near the top of his game is a huge, literally and figuratively, asset to have.

The oft-injured Bynum started the season on the sidelines because of knee problems, and coach Phil Jackson has brought the 23-year-old center along slowly. But over the past month, Bynum is showing why the Lakers have always been so reluctant to include him in any trade talks, averaging 12.2 points, 13.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game on 30.7 minutes. Bynum also received a two-game suspension for a flagrant foul on Minnesota’s Michael Beasley in a win on March 18th. The Lakers have gone 12-1 in March heading into a showdown on Thursday with Dallas, and Bynum will be looking to continue a run in which he’s snatched 10 or more rebounds in eight games this month.

When Bynum is being a force in the paint at both ends of the floor, you have to make the Lakers the favorites in the West. The Lakers can play tougher on the perimeter and send everything towards Bynum, who will at least alter the shot, and he’s learning to stay out of foul trouble, although he did have two games this month in which he had five fouls. That keeps Bynum’s minutes down, and keeps him from getting into a rhythm. On the offensive end, Bynum is averaging 3.2 offensive rebounds a game, which gives him the chance to get putbacks and dunks (he’s shooting 57.5% from the field on the season), and you can give him the ball in crunch time because he shoots a decent percentage from the line (69.0%). That will only create more space for the likes of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, and if the Lakers are firing on all cylinders, Bynum is going to be a major factor in the run for a third consecutive NBA champion.

Continue reading "Lakers Flourishing With Bynum"


Richard Kagan

Miami Heat Could Be A Bust posted by Richard Kagan

It's come down to this.  A coming out party for the 3 star players of the Heat:  LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, was wierd.  It was over-the-top and unfortunate.  If this is an example of giving the players their due props, then the Heat are already in trouble.  They haven't won anything.  You'd think they won the NBA title.  Heck, they haven't even played together, won a game together, fought together or sweat together.

I'll say this, when it came down the crunch time against the Celtics, where was Lebron?  He all but disappeared in game 5.  Looked dreadful, out of sync, like he woke up on the wrong side of the bed. 

This whole deal with the Heat is all hype and flash.  It's alot of smoke and flash.  The Heat will be interesting to watch.  Everyone will expect them to win every game they play.  After about 10 games, playing for them won't be fun anymore.  The Heat could collapse under the weight of the over-sized egos on the team.  They may have to turn to Pat Riley to coach these guys, but he can;'t make them play together.  Not too many teams will be able to test them, but they will be tested, and then we will see how good they are.  One coach will find a way to neutralize LeBron, and the other parts won't work as well.  A coach has to understand physics and the laws of human nature and there aren't too many coaches that come to mind.  Phil Jackson can find a way to beat the Heat.  He has Kobe and Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom.  The Lakers and the Heat will be something to see.

Continue reading "Miami Heat Could Be A Bust"


TP&G Blog

Lakers Watch (7/1/10) posted by TP&G Blog

June 15, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES -  epa02204272 Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Farmar (C) makes a pass  around Boston Celtics center Rasheed Wallace (L) and Boston Celtics  guard Nate Robinson (R) in the fourth quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers  89-67 win over the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals Game Six at the  Staples Center in Los Angeles California, USA 15 June 2010. The best of  seven series is tied at 3-3. May 10, 2010 -  Salt Lake City, Ut, California, U.S. - Los Angeles Lakers' Shannon Brown  slams home two points over Utah Jazz's Ronnie Price in the first half  Monday night, May 10th, 2010 at the Western Conference Semifinals at  EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah. ....///ADDITIONAL  INFO:01.lakers.0511.mg - 05/10/10 - Photo by MICHAEL GOULDING,THE ORANGE  COUNTY REGISTER - Additional info, CQs, and keywords for  searching..Lakers vs Utah Jazz in Game 4 of the Western Conference  Semifinals at EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah.

There is still nothing major yet to report regarding the Laker off-season moves, but this so-called exciting job fair is starting bad. Really, really bad with too many non-top-tier players (and counting) getting offered ridiculous contracts.

Continue reading "Lakers Watch (7/1/10)"

TP&G Blog

What the 2009-2010 Season Taught us About the Lakers posted by TP&G Blog

June 17, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES -    epa02208457 Los Angeles Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic of Slovenia kisses    the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after he and the Los Angeles    Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics 83-79 to win their 16th NBA    Championship at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA 17    June 2010.

Plans of dethroning the Lakers are well underway, and in less than 24 hours the first step will being. But before we start watching how next season will shape up for our back-to-back champs, let's take a look at some of the highs and lows that brought the Lakers to one of the most epic NBA Finals in history and cement another Laker legacy:

• Jerry Buss has always been a businessman who knows his craft but never ever takes whatever or whoever makes his Lakers one of the most respected franchise in sports history. That includes sticking with the players who win him another championship. He may have tried to put on his poker face with Lamar Odom last sumer, but we all knew he would help Lamar win that poker game only because he hates fixing something that isn't broken. However, Odom may have made Buss regret not sending him on a one-way bus fare to Miami by being too inconsistent in this year's playoffs. Another thing about Buss: he demands the same generosity from the players he give charity to. The way Odom stunk it up in the post-season, he just might be the first victim of Buss' budget plans for next season.

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nbaball

Three-peat is highly possible for Lakers in next NBA season posted by nbaball

THE BOLD declaration of Los Angeles Lakers superstar guard Kobe "Black Mamba" Bryant that the team will attain its third straight crown in the next season of the National Basketball Association is highly possible. Basketball experts said three-peat might be hard to achieve in the face of the tough competition in the NBA but if the Lakers will continue to play its full potential it is very possible.

The basketball experts said one thing going for the Lakers in its quest for a piece of NBA history is the fact that almost all of their important players will be back for the team to defend their crown. Bryant the heart and soul of the Lakers had an existing contract to play for the Lakers for many years to come.
With the superstar guard still part of the Lakers roster, the team will remain solid for years to come. Aside from Bryant other Lakers players who will be back to defend their crown are superstar center Pau Gasol, versatile power-forward Lamar Odom, veteran point-guard Derek Fisher, rising young center Andrew Bynum and defensive specialist Ron Artest.

Gasol had been a vital factor in the Laker's tough victory against its arch rival Boston Celtics in their best of seven NBA Finals.
The Spanish center provided front-court scoring and defense to frustrate and defeat the determined Celtics who was able to send the game into a deciding game seven. Odom although undersized as a power-forward still contributed big for the team with his ball distribution and clutch plays against the trough defense put out by the Celtics.

Fisher for his part provided efficient veteran leadership to solidify and add more spunk to the defending champion. Bynum for his part was a steady center who provided quality minutes in terms of scoring and defense for the team. Newly acquired Laker Artest is himself had a big contribution for the Lakers victory with his tough defense against the top scorers of the opposing team particularly in the NBA Finals against Celtics superstar forward Paul "Truth" Pierce. With those players mentioned back in Lakers uniform in the next NBA season it would very difficult for other NBA teams including the Celtics to defeat the defending NBA champion. To achieve their desired three-peat the Lakers however need to resign Lakers coach Phil Jackson to coach the championship team again in the next season of the premier professional basketball league in the planet.
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Amari Harris

Father's Day, Fútbol, and Prince Albert? posted by Amari Harris

Good morning brave souls.

 

Once again, it has been an unreasonably long time since I’ve done this but I’ve had quite a bit on my plate for the last couple months.  I’ve officially started my education in the law and I’m also the captain/coach/coordinator/quarterback/cornerback for my flag football team.  Ok, that’s only two things but cut me some slack.  I have to make time for Paul, Jack, and Evan.  But I am digressing.  You don’t want to hear about what’s going on in my life (you selfish bastards!).  You want to hear about men in little shorts, playing with balls that they throw or kick in a whole, a goal, or sometimes even into the hands of another man (gross).  

 

So where do I begin?  Well, if this were an international blog I’d have to start with globes most beloved sport and the World Cup.  Everybody loves the soccer and everybody loves the World Cup.  People come out of the wood works to pick the team they think is going to go all the way and 9 times out of 10 they can’t even name the goalie.  But me, I’m an honest Joe.  I mean I’ll keep track of who is moving up in the standings, but I may watch a total of 5 minutes of this dreadfully dry activity over its duration. I’m not going to pretend I like soccer or know anything about it for that much.  With that said, I bought an ITALIA World Cup t-shirt because it looks good on me and girls love Italy…I think.  

My goodness, I forgot two very important administrative announcements before I started this thing.  First I’d like to wish all of the

Continue reading "Father's Day, Fútbol, and Prince Albert?"


Joe Franciosa, Jr.

SOX SWEEP D-Backs, ... ... ...celtics lose championship... ... ... posted by Joe Franciosa, Jr.

The Sox just swept the worst team in the NL West. Wooooooooo.

 It just figures that the one time I'm actually rooting against the Sox, they win. When the Celtics play before the Sox, and the Celtics win, the Sox win. When the Sox play before the Celtics, and the Sox win, the Celtics lose. It's an incredibly stupid statistic, but no less accurate for its stupidity concerning the 2010 season. So, when the Sox won last night, I knew whatever vestige of hope had remained was squelched. That didn't stop me from rooting any harder for the C's... I was standing in my buddy's living room for the last 5 minutes of that game because I was too hyped up to stay in my seat.

 2010 Celtics, thanks for the effort. You took us on one hell of a roller-coaster this post-season. I didn't expect you to get past the Cavs. I did expect you to get past the Magic, especially after the Refs tried to give that series away.  I'm not even going to comment on the officiating of the Finals. If you watched and had half a brain in your head, it was obvious what was going on.

 So let's talk about the tragedy of this loss. Without Perk, the Celtics still had a 13 point lead in the 3rd quarter. Celtics defense held the Lakers to just 32% shooting from the field. If anyone wearing green had pulled down just two or three more rebounds, the Celtics would have their 18th banner. Instead, KG has 3 rebounds for the entire game. That's just not a Championship effort. Not in a game 7, on the road. Certainly not with your only true big man dressed in a green button up shirt with a bum knee on the sideline.

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Los Angeles Lakers News

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Report: Knicks close to signing Lamar Odom for remainder of season (and maybe next) (NBC Spo

Odom is basically getting an extended tryout for next season with the Knicks, one that will run into the summer. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Gregg Popovich 'really impressed' with Spurs putting aside Finals flameout, soaring to No. 1 s

[read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Ball Don’t Lie’s 2013-14 Playoff Previews: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State W

The playoffs begin on Saturday, thankfully, which means it’s that lovely time of spring (and it is spring, right? It’s not going to snow again, is it?) for the minds behind Ball Don’t Lie to offer you their thoughts on the upcoming pairings in the first round of the NBA’s postseason. Kelly Dwyer’s Old Grey Whistle Test It’s sad and more than a little enervating the Golden State Warriors’ chances at a championship are exactly where we pegged them a year ago. They’re the same as when we left them following their second-round loss to San Antonio, and last autumn when 2013-14 sparked up. The team is only going as far as the relative health of Steph Curry and Andrew Bogut will allow, and no amount of bench woes, coaching intrigue and dodgy shooting can drag the narrative and scouting report from where it belongs. It needs Curry to dominate offensively, and Bogut to do the same on the other end, and while this may come off as too simple, one would have a hard time arguing otherwise. This is why the revelation of Andrew Bogut’s most recent significant injury is such an absolute downer, such a killer for a team that truly could have made some postseason noise had the matchups been in place, and the threes-and-defense philosophy fully executed. Bogut may not even be his team’s best defender, all-around demon Andre Iguodala probably takes that prize, but in spite of some intriguing defensive depth in the pivot and the possibility that the team’s brilliant shooting backcourt could still make wonderful work out of April, May and June, the Warriors’ hopes were just about dashed when it was announced that the big man would be out indefinitely with a rib injury. The Los Angeles Clippers don’t have their own injury woes, not to that extent, but it is always worth biting a nail or two when discussing the durability of all-world point guard Chris Paul. CP3 isn’t exactly a ligament-tearing charity case, but he has missed solid chunks of some of his NBA turns. This season’s 20-game interruption was his longest since 2010, and with the flighty Darren Collison replacing Paul in the lineup and forward Blake Griffin still working past criticism about his supposed stasis as a contributor, there was significant worry when Paul went down with a separated right shoulder over the winter. Famously, the Clippers went 12-6 in Chris’ absence, with Blake leading the way while boasting a fantabulous mix of point forward-isms and potent finishing from just about everywhere within that 3-point line. Los Angeles didn’t seem to miss a beat following Paul’s return, reeling off a 12-2 run that saw the league’s best point guard happily passing on dominating the ball, allowing Griffin and his cohorts to run the show at times while still somehow maintaining the same assist and usage percentages. This is why the Doc Rivers-led crew is a championship contender. The former Celtics title-winning coach somehow found a way to eliminate the previous era’s glaring weaknesses – Griffin’s short-armed missteps, DeAndre Jordan’s clueless defensive work some 19 feet away from the goal, Paul’s ball domination – in the span of a year, and the returning Pacific Division champs have a genuine shot at something special this spring, and possibly summer. Golden State shouldn’t boast that same confidence, not without Bogut in place for an extended period of time. New starter Jermaine O’Neal has been a revelation in his 18th season, but even the NBA’s best potential defensive backup pivotman doesn’t approximate what Bogut provides, and rookie Ognjen Kuzmic is just too raw to be counted on in nationally televised games. The team with the ill-gotten stereotype as an offense-only squad may have to act as much against Los Angeles, ignoring the Kent Bazemores and Iguodalas in favor of something desperate. Usually pitched from 25 feet away. Toss in the clear enmity between the two squads, and you just have a huge disappointment. The Warriors may annoy at times, but the team’s roster is also filled with all manner of respectable characters, and there genuinely was second- and third- and perhaps fourth-round potential with this lot. Bogut’s absence doesn’t completely decimate Golden State, and the man could still return before his team’s season ends, but those chances have been hamstrung. From there, it’s up to the Clippers. After years of prattling around with former administrations in charge, it’s time for this squad to follow through on what could be theirs. It has to start with a swift take down of a team it hates. Prediction: Los Angeles in 5. Dan Devine's One Big Question Every postseason matchup has its own unique set of variables for each team, and prognosticator, to attempt to solve. Here's one that BDL's Dan Devine has been mulling over. Do the Warriors stand a chance without Andrew Bogut? Forgive me for being obvious, but after learning that the bruising Aussie is out indefinitely with a fractured rib — a break that Bogut told reporters has him "looking at a punctured lung," and that head coach Mark Jackson "all but confirmed" will keep Bogut out for the full postseason, according to Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News — it seems like the most relevant question. Bogut played arguably his best ball of the season against the rival Clippers, averaging just under 12 points, 11 rebounds and two combined blocks and steals in 27.5 minutes per game, shooting 67.7 percent from the field and setting a physical tone that helped keep high-flying Clippers stars Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan a bit more grounded. Willingness to push and shove aside, Bogut also stood as Golden State's best interior defender and rim protector this season; his absence figures to be a problem against a Clippers team that shot a scorching 67.7 percent in the restricted area this season, second-best in the NBA behind the LeBron James-led Miami Heat. Bogut held opponents to 45 percent shooting on at-rim attempts when he was in the defensive neighborhood this season, according to the NBA's SportVU player tracking data , an elite number among paint-protecting regulars. Warriors opponents took a lower share of their shots inside the paint with Bogut guarding the yard (46.4 percent of total field-goal attempts) than with him resting (47.3 percent) and connected on a lower percentage of them (49.8 percent with Bogut, 52.8 percent without). While Jackson has several other strong defenders on his roster — perimeter ace Andre Iguodala, versatile forward Draymond Green, point-checking two-guard Klay Thompson, veteran backup center Jermaine O'Neal, etc. — he doesn't have another paint deterrent of Bogut's caliber, and if the numbers from the regular-season series against the Clippers are any indication, that's a major issue for Golden State: • With Bogut on the floor, the Warriors outscored the Clippers by 17 points over 110 minutes in four meetings this season. Without him, L.A. was +20 in 82 minutes. • With Bogut on the floor, the Clippers scored an average of 105.7 points per 100 possessions, which would've ranked 10th in the NBA over the course of the full season. While that mark would be the envy of plenty of NBA teams — 20, according to my advanced math — it represented a steep drop-off from the Clippers' top-of-the-pops offensive efficiency of 109.4-per-100. When Bogut sat, the Clips shot right back up to their customary rate of scoring brilliance, pouring it in at a 109.3-per-100 rate. • With Bogut on the floor, the Clippers grabbed just 45.6 percent of available rebounds. When he sat, that number rose to 53.8 percent. To put that in perspective: when facing Bogut, the Clips rebounded like the dead-last-in-the-NBA Los Angeles Lakers, and when they didn't have to face him, they scarfed up caroms at a clip that would have been No. 1 with a bullet during the regular season, head and shoulders above the league-best Oklahoma City Thunder. • With Bogut on the floor, the Warriors were much better at defending L.A. without hacking, committing 46 personal fouls in 110 minutes. With Bogut on the bench, the Clippers drew 53 personal foul calls in 82 minutes, leading to an obscenely high free-throw rate that kept the Clipper offense humming along. It's worth remembering that we're only talking about a couple of hundred minutes over the span of four games, but if those trends hold up, the future looks grim for Golden State. A version of the Warriors that can't keep Griffin and Jordan off the glass, can't keep the Clippers off the foul line, and can't slow down an elite offense now firing on all cylinders thanks to the return of shooting guards J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford is a version of the Warriors that doesn't appear to be long for the postseason world. The Warriors are not utterly bereft without Bogut, of course. The 17-year veteran O'Neal has played well when pressed into duty as a starter, averaging 10.5 points on 57.7 percent shooting, 7.1 rebounds and just over one block in 25 minutes per game, and he's certainly more than willing mix it up with Blake and company . But he's just one man, and there's not much behind him on the Dubs' depth chart. Sophomore Festus Ezeli isn't yet back to 5-on-5 action after missing the entire season following right knee surgery. Jackson likely won't turn to end-of-the-benchers Ognjen Kuzmić and Hilton Armstrong in the playoffs. And past MVP chants aside , I wouldn't want to hitch my wagon to Marreese Speights' defensive prowess against Chris Paul in the pick-and-roll. The best solution might be one that Jackson has said he'll now give longer looks: smaller lineups featuring David Lee at the five with some combination of Green, Iguodala and Harrison Barnes up front alongside Thompson and Stephen Curry in the backcourt. Such units have largely roasted the opposition offensively this season, albeit in relatively limited burn (none have seen more than 105 minutes of floor time) and could pose problems for the Clippers defense by creating gobs of space for Curry-Lee pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops, Curry's unique brand of dribbling improvisation and ball swings that lead to open 3-pointers, much as they did against the Denver Nuggets in the first round of last year's postseason. But these Clippers are not last year's Nuggets, this Barnes is not last year's Barnes, and last year's injured Lee isn't this year's injured Bogut. It ought to be sensationally fun to watch Steph try to Human Torch his way past the Clips. Enjoy it while it lasts; unless Bogut winds up pulling a miraculous Lee-like recovery sooner rather than later, I don't think it'll last very long. Prediction: Clippers in 5. Eric Freeman’s Guide to Playoff Watchability Over the next two months, basketball fans will hear all manner of insights into key matchups, x-factors, and other series-deciding phenomena. For most people, though, watching so much basketball is a luxury or bizarre form of punishment, not a fact of life. These brave souls must know one thing: is this game between 10 men in pajamas worth the time? Eric Freeman’s Guide to Playoff Watchability attempts to answer this difficult question. The basketball world has awaited this series for several months. Way back in the first week of the season, the Clippers snubbed the Warriors by declining to share pre-game chapel services , a rare snub in a league where most players stay friendly when not on the court. That moment ran alongside several hotly contested games, including a Christmas barnburner that featured several scuffles and ejections . A seven-game series promised all that drama, plus the purer pleasures of watching so many exciting, athletic players in one place. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, et al. — it was almost too much to handle. Up until this past weekend, that excitement was still palpable. However, the broken rib recently suffered by Andrew Bogut, the Warriors’ chief antagonist, has thrown all that into flux. If Bogut is out for the entire series, which seems likely, the Warriors will be forced to go small. That could be very watchable, particularly given their arsenal of three-point shooters, but Doc Rivers already starts two hyper-athletic frontcourt players and has many perimeter options at his disposal. More than perhaps any other team in the league, the Clippers can adjust to smaller lineups without sacrificing much at all. To be clear, this series figures to be very watchable, if only because these teams offer so much potential in the way of stylistic basketball. Yet, with Bogut out, it also figures to be somewhat one-sided. Tune in only if you’re more concerned with fun stuff than the final score. Rating: 6 out of 10 Recitations of Philippians 4:13 Prediction: Clippers in 5.   [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Ball Don’t Lie’s 2013-14 Playoff Previews: Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats (Bal

The playoffs begin on Saturday, thankfully, which means it’s that lovely time of spring (and it is spring, right? It’s not going to snow again, is it?) when the minds behind Ball Don’t Lie to offer you their thoughts on the upcoming pairings in the first round of the NBA’s postseason. Kelly Dwyer’s Old Grey Whistle Test For those just hopping to the NBA season, understand the Charlotte Bobcats didn’t luck or back their way into their second (and final, considering the franchise’s imminent name change) playoffs. Sadly for Charlotte, the Miami Heat didn’t, either. You didn’t hear much about the Miami Heat this year, comparatively, because a lack of a 27-game winning streak will do that to a nation’s fancy. The Indiana Pacers held the Eastern Conference’s best record for nearly every day of the 2013-14 regular season, the San Antonio Spurs finished with the league’s best regular season record yet again, and Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant will likely and rightfully lope away with the NBA MVP award, ending LeBron James’run with the hardware. The Heat are the champs, though. And not in the “we’ll-call-them-the-champs-until-someone-knocks-them-out”way. That doesn’t mean that 2013-14 was a triumphant regular season turn, however. The team won only 54 games, fewer than the Chicago Bulls (57) and Los Angeles Lakers (58) did during their three-peat conquerings in 1993 and 2002, and with Miami mostly working in an embarrassing Eastern Conference that saw the Heat lose twice to the Philadelphia 76ers and twice to the Boston Celtics. Dwyane Wade missed 29 games not just because he sat out on the second night of back-to-backs, but also because of a worrying late-season hamstring pull. Ray Allen shot, gasp, just about an average mark from 3-point range. This is also a team that may just have 15 or 16 games between now and the start of the Finals. This is a team that can run James for huge heaps of minutes, while Wade works at his leisure, withChris Bosh fitting in wherever needed. Allen’s 3-point percentage starts over on Sunday. Shane Battier grows angel wings. Erik Spoelstra gets to hammer out a game plan against the same opponent, over and over, rather than working against four other coaches in five nights. Pity those poor Charlotte Bobcats. Kind of. These Bobcats earned this. “Rookie”head coach Steve Clifford should be a Coach of the Year candidate, and had his team been on national television more often he’d probably have won the damn thing. The Bobcats have evolved into a team with solid depth, and most importantly to a playoff drive, the group defends like mad in spite of the presence of Al Jefferson on the floor. Of course, the Bobcats wouldn’t be nearly where they are currently with Jefferson, who turned in a career year some six years after tearing his ACL, working in a new environment with a (damn good) point guard in Kemba Walker who isn’t exactly what we’d call “pass-first.”If you haven’t seen Big Al, prepare for a throwback. Over 22 points and 11 boards in 35 minutes a game, despite needing the season’s first two months to work his way back (mostly on the court) from an ankle sprain. Low-post goodness, in a league that frowns on such things. Touch and footwork and a needed go-to option after a play breaks down for a team that ranked just 24th in offense. He should have made the All-Star team, but in a lot of ways it was best that he missed it. The All-Star Game wastes talents like Jefferson, and those few days off in mid-February likely helped the player that led Charlotte to a 20-9 record following a showcase that tends to exclude players of a Bobcatian nature. The ride is likely over. James is basically as tall as Jefferson. Walker had a very good year, but he shot 39 percent to Wade’s 54 percent. Bosh is floating, and the other Heat veterans have been through this before. It’s true that, somehow, Charlotte runs deeper than Miami, but none of this will likely matter when James spies Josh McRoberts’too-cute entry pass from a mile away, swipes it and turns it into two points before Bobcat fans can even recall they’ll become the Hornets again this fall. Fair-weather NBA fans? Happily introduce yourself to the Charlotte Bobcats, because this is a team worth watching. Also, re-introduce yourself to the Miami Heat, because this is a team worth fearing. Prediction: Miami in 4. Dan Devine's One Big Question Every postseason matchup has its own unique set of variables for each team, and prognosticator, to attempt to solve. Here's one that BDL's Dan Devine has been mulling over. How much energy will Miami have to expend in Round 1? LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh begin their bid for a fourth straight trip to the NBA finals against a Bobcats team that looks to be heavily overmatched and whom the Heat swept during the regular season. A closer look at the season series, though, suggests that what appears to be a squash might not be quite as breezy as Erik Spoelstra might like. While the Heat did go 4-0 against the Bobcats, two of those games were nail-biters. There was a one-point Dec. 1 win in which the Big Three all played, but Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker (27 points on 10 for 22 shooting, six assists) largely got where he wanted, and a mid-January overtime victory that saw James (34 points, eight rebounds, six assists) and Bosh (25 points, seven rebounds) carry the day for a resting Wade to come back from a seven-point halftime deficit. One blowout came while All-NBA-caliber Charlotte center Al Jefferson was sidelined with an ankle injury, which represents a sizable asterisk. The other happened when James became Death, Destroyer of Worlds . (That one still holds up.) Still, while the Heat stumbled to the finish line by going 13-14 after March 1 -- including some games, to be fair, where they weren't exactly going all-out for the W -- Charlotte played perhaps their best ball of the year. The Bobcats won three straight to finish the regular season and nine of their last 11, including three tough overtime wins against fellow Eastern playoff squads (the Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls). The Bobcats went 16-9 after the February deal to import Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour from the Milwaukee Bucks, a move that added (some) long-range shooting and secondary ball-handling, and helped boost the Bobcats' offense from a dreadful 25th in points scored per possession pre-trade to a middle-of-the-pack 16th afterward. Another key helper: Josh McRoberts, the beautifully coiffed power forward whose fantastic touch as a high-post passer (five dimes per 36 minutes, assisting on nearly 22 percent of his teammates' buckets while he's on the floor) has paired perfectly with Big Al's left-block mastery, and whose long-range shooting (36.1 percent from 3-point land) has helped give Jefferson room to cook. Gerald Henderson's production has dipped virtually across the board this season, but the versatile wing tends to be a bellwether; he's shooting 45.4 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from 3 in Charlotte wins, and just 41.3/32.2 in losses. When he tries too hard to create his own offense, he can hurt more than he helps, but when he simply plays his role -- making smart cuts to take advantage of the attention Jefferson draws, or finding openings on the perimeter to be available for spot-up shots off kickouts -- he can threaten. Rookie Cody Zeller has come on since the All-Star break , shooting 50 percent and averaging nearly eight points and five rebounds in 18 1/2 minutes per game by crashing the offensive boards, running the floor and ducking in off the weak side to dunk dump-off passes. Chris Douglas-Roberts has gone from scrap-heap signee to valuable piece in head coach Steve Clifford's rotation, adding complementary scoring and rebounding while providing defensive versatility on the wing and making some big shots . Charlotte is a patient, careful team that turned the basketball over on a league-low 12.9 percent of offensive possessions, and allowed the league's fewest fast-break points and points off turnovers per game this season. They're great at limiting opponents to one shot, leading the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage and finishing seventh in second-chance points allowed. There's real talent and toughness here, actual players who do things; these aren't the Bobcats you remember. They're still not going to spring an upset, though. Even dropping out LeBron's outlier 61-point explosion, Miami still hammered the Bobcats' No. 6-ranked defense in their other three games, scoring at a rate (109.1 points per 100 possessions) commensurate with their second-best-in-the-NBA full-season mark. The Bobcats' pack-the-paint scheme did reduce in the share of shots Miami took in the lane -- 44.7 percent of Heat field-goal attempts against Charlotte came there, down from 47 percent on the season as a whole -- but Miami converted the exact same share of them (62.9 percent) while shooting even better than their full-season mark on the midrange shots Charlotte concedes with its coverage. With James' ability to prosper against any defense, Bosh's elite midrange shooting and Wade presumably ready to rock after having his workload managed all season, Miami has the right weapons to attack Charlotte's defense. While Jefferson will likely continue beasting on Miami's small front line -- Big Al's averaged a shade over 25 points and 15 rebounds against the Heat this season, shooting 57.4 percent -- Charlotte doesn't figure to get reliable enough deep shooting to keep Miami from swarming the interior. And even if the Cats can knock down some pressure-relieving 3s early, that'll probably just remind Miami that it's late April, and that it's now time to flip the now-infamous switch that turns their closeouts and rotations from solid to terrifying. The key to this postseason could be whether Charlotte forces Miami to flip that switch early. If Miami's offense hits the ground running smoothly enough for the defense to get away with just-good-enough effort, then the Heat will be in good shape moving forward. But if the Bobcats can keep their late-season form going and land some shots on Miami early, and if Jefferson can dominate enough to steal a game in Miami, the Heat may find themselves having to put in work that could come back to bite them during the grueling rounds to follow. The 'Cats won't go easily, but I think the resolution will skew closer to the former than the latter. I respect what Jefferson and Clifford have done enough to think they'll notch the first (and last ) win in Bobcats postseason history at home, but Miami should be able to keep its powder dry with stiffer challenges ahead. Prediction: Heat in 5. Eric Freeman’s Guide to Playoff Watchability Over the next two months, basketball fans will hear all manner of insights into key matchups, x-factors, and other series-deciding phenomena. For most people, though, watching so much basketball is a luxury or bizarre form of punishment, not a fact of life. These brave souls must know one thing: is this game between 10 men in pajamas worth the time? Eric Freeman’s Guide to Playoff Watchability attempts to answer this difficult question. The Heat have been one of the league’s most exciting teams during the Big Three era, regularly putting forth amazing showcases of the best contemporary basketball has to offer. However, this team cannot escape narrative. The best Heat moments, either good or bad, have involved games and series that appear to serve as referenda on LeBron James’s place in basketball history, or the moral rectitude of building a team around stars obtained in free agency. In other words, the Heat need the right context to reach their full watchability potential —otherwise they’re just a garden-variety group of generationally unique stars. It’s safe to say that the Charlotte is not the team to bring out Miami’s full possibilities this series. Like the Milwaukee Bucks in last spring’s first round, the Bobcats are a team of limited talent. What head coach Steve Clifford has done this season is quite amazing —the Bobcats are a genuinely effective squad with with the East’s third-best defense by points-per-possession and a big man in Al Jefferson who could ravage the Heat’s interior defense. But they’re not a sexy team by any stretch. Sunday’s Game 1 will mark their first national TV appearance of 2013-14, and many casual fans may still consider them fodder for late-night TV monologue jokes. That’s not to say that this series is wholly unwatchable. The Heat won’t rise to their peak watchability until later in the postseason, but viewers are likely to see one or two unbelievable plays from LeBron and Co. Plus, despite not being world-beaters, the Bobcats do have a lot to offer. At the very least, they will provide something new to discover for all but the most committed League Pass devotees. The playoffs last a pretty long time, so seek out the unfamiliar while you still can. Rating: 4 out of 10 Angry Tweets About LeBron Being a Loser Prediction: Heat in 4. [read full article]

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Lakers, Knicks, Celtics miss playoffs, seek help (AFP)

For the first time in NBA history, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and New York Knicks are all absent from the playoffs in the same season. While that will not break any hearts for the 16 clubs who begin their championship quests this weekend, it does leave three of the most iconic franchise in NBA history struggling in search of a new direction. "As a whole, the season was very disappointing for everybody," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. The Lakers went 27-55, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2005 and only the sixth season in team history. [read full article]

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