Tag Archives: Bradley Beal

Paul George Injury Leaves Questions in Eastern Conference

After Paul George suffered that devastating leg injury that will keep him out for next season, the Indiana Pacers lost a valuable member of their squad. Without George, there is little hope for the Pacers’ title hopes in 2015. Although this may not take them out of the postseason just yet, let’s look at some threatening teams in the Eastern Conference.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are a favorite simply because they have LeBron James. Not only that, but they also have an All-Star point guard in Kyrie Irving and a future superstar in Andrew Wiggins. However, their front court could be their ultimate downfall. The main reason why James was so successful in Miami was because he had Chris Bosh pulling in rebounds and giving him extra chances. Last year’s number one draft pick Anthony Bennett was a huge disappointment, but he is the best option for next season’s starting forward position. For center, they have Anderson Varejao and Brendan Haywood, but they are old veterans that can be reliable in all 82 games next season. Tristan Thompson would make a good fit at the power forward spot and Dion Waiters will make a great back-court player that could compliment both Irving and James. It’s mostly wait-and-see at this point for the Cavaliers.

LeBron James' return to Cleveland gives the Cavaliers the best chance for a title run next year. Credit: www.cleveland.com
LeBron James’ return to Cleveland gives the Cavaliers the best chance for a title run next year.
Credit: http://www.cleveland.com

The Chicago Bulls look to be the favorite in the East as well. They have an established coaching staff that knows how to win with low-caliber players, but this year, they get Derrick Rose back…again. If Rose can stay healthy, this Bulls team will be Cleveland’s main competition in the Central Division. They signed Pau Gasol in free agency and landed Doug McDermott in the NBA Draft. All of the pieces are there with Joakim Noah coming off a terrific year, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. Guys like Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Ronnie Brewer will also aid Rose in chasing that elusive NBA Finals, somewhere they haven’t been since Michael Jordan led the way many years ago.

Derrick Rose looks for a breakout year. The last time he played a full season, he won the MVP averaging 25 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. Credit: pagesix.com
Derrick Rose looks for a breakout year. The last time he played a full season, he won the MVP averaging 25 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game.
Credit: pagesix.com

With the Pacers, Cavaliers and Bulls fighting for the Central Division, let’s take a look at some other potentially threatening teams in the East. The New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors will be battling for the Atlantic Division. Carmelo Anthony’s decision to return to New York will definitely give them a chance. Phil Jackson looks to make this team a consistent winner in the East and will have to go through the upstart Raptors in order to get there. The Raptors finished last season with the 3-seed in the East with a surprising 48-34 record. They did better than the Brooklyn Nets who landed a tight 44-38 finish. Coach Lionel Hollins will try to make his new Nets team a title contender this year. If he can’t get them that good in a short amount of time, the Knicks and Raptors will dominate this division.

The two most surprising teams last year were the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Bobcats. Both finished with more than 42 wins, which is saying a lot for both of these franchises. The back-court combination of John Wall and Bradley Beal will definitely keep the Wizards in the championship race, but their front court will have to play consistently well in order to compete in the division. The Bobcats are now back to being called the Hornets and hopefully this rejuvenated team will make more surprises this year. With the Miami Heat losing some firepower because of the whole Decision 2.0 fiasco, the Southeast Division is wide open for the taking. Even the Atlanta Hawks are contenders after making the playoffs last year with a losing record. You can never count out everyone  in that division. Unless you’re the Orlando Magic.

The Eastern Conference will definitely be more interesting this year and a lot more competitive. Unfortunately for the Pacers, their chance at a title shot is dampened with the George injury. Hopefully they can learn some lessons from Chicago on how to make the playoffs without your superstar player.

Advertisements

Five Game Sevens

NBA history was made last Saturday when three Game Seven NBA playoff games were played on the same day. After today’s Game Sevens, the NBA postseason can move on to the second round: the conference semifinals. One of the biggest stories was the Washington Wizards advancing to the next round over the Chicago Bulls, winning their first playoff series since 2005 where they also beat the Chicago Bulls. This year, the Wizards defeated the Bulls’ squad 4-1 and were led by a young back court featuring John Wall and Bradley Beal. Wall has been great for this young and talented squad, he is 5th in both assists and steals per game this postseason. As for Bradley Beal, he averaged almost 20 points per game against the Bulls, including a game where he scored 26 points and pulled down 7 rebounds to help put the Wizards up 2-0 in the series. Speaking as a guy that was born in D.C., I can say that I am excited for their match-up with the 1-seed Indiana Pacers Monday night at 7 p.m.

John Wall averaged 18.8 points, 6.8 assists and 2.2 steals in the series win over the Chicago Bulls. Credit: www.rantsports.com
John Wall averaged 18.8 points, 6.8 assists and 2.2 steals in the series win over the Chicago Bulls.
Credit: http://www.rantsports.com

As for the Oklahoma City Thunder, they finished out in fashion with a 120-109 rout over the Memphis Grizzlies in their Game 7 finale.  Kevin Durant may not have had the field goal percentage that he was looking for, but he is still putting up points this postseason with 29.9 per game so far. Then there is Russell Westbrook. Some people have judged him and saying that he was the problem with the Thunder’s struggles to close out. I was one of those people. Now, my confidence is regained in Westbrook after putting up a triple-double in the last game against Memphis. The young point guard finished the bout with 27 points, a career-high 16 assists and 10 rebounds. Westbrook also became just the second player in NBA history to record a triple-double in a Game 7 (Rajon Rondo did it first). Sure the Thunder were able to win without the Grizzlies’ top player Zach Randolph, but hey, a win is a win. Durant and Westbrook combined for 60 points and Oklahoma City shot 60.9 percent from the field as a team. Now they will have to put up those kind of numbers when they play the L.A. Clippers Monday night at 9:30 p.m. That should be an exciting series as well.

Kevin Durant took over the series against Memphis by averaging 29.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. Credit: www.usatoday.com
Kevin Durant took over the series against Memphis by averaging 29.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 blocks per game.
Credit: http://www.usatoday.com

I was disappointed in the Houston Rockets this year. They had a lot of talent in James Harden and Dwight Howard, but they just couldn’t make it work against the Portland Trail Blazers. LaMarcus Aldridge and company closed out the series 4-2 when Damian Lillard knocked down a three-pointer at the buzzer (thanks to some horrible defense by Houston’s Chandler Parsons) to win the game 99-98. Lillard became the first player since John Stockton in 1997 to knock down the game-winning shot to win a series. You have to give a lot of props to last year’s Rookie-of-the-Year for being the big play-maker at point guard. As for Aldridge, he put up monster numbers in this series against Houston. He had back-to-back 40 point games in the first two games of the series (46 and 43 respectively). Then in the next two games, he recorded consecutive double-doubles and then in Game 6, he scored 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. He is third in the postseason in points per game with 29.8. LeBron James leads the postseason with 30 per game.

Lastly, there was San Antonio knocking off the Dallas Mavericks 119-96 and the Brooklyn Nets defeating the Toronto Raptors 104-103 in an overall thrilling series. Brooklyn will face the Miami Heat Tuesday at 7 p.m. while the Spurs will battle the Trail Blazers the same night at 9:30 p.m. The first round of the NBA playoffs was something to behold. A lot of Game Sevens and a whole lot of fun. This second round will prove to be more exciting with teams starting to lock on to that championship.