Tag Archives: LeBron James

Kevin Love is Traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers

The NBA got a lot more interesting after a big trade earlier this morning. The Minnesota Timberwolves sent All-Star Power Forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers in an exchange for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a 2015 1st-round pick. It looks like the Cavaliers are looking to win now rather than try to build a franchise team by trading away two of their first overall picks. Wiggins was this year’s first overall pick and was looking to be an apprentice under the mentorship of King James. However, LeBron James is looking for another ring, meaning that Wiggins is out of the picture. Wiggins will have a lot of fun developing with Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio, who is rising as a dynamic play-maker in the NBA.

As for Anthony Bennett, he looked like a bust last year so his departure wasn’t much of a surprise. It looks like the Cavaliers do not have the patience to watch him develop into a great player. Now this guy will definitely get a shot in Minnesota, seeing that Kevin Love was their only talented big man on the roster.

Speaking of Love, he will enjoy great success in Cleveland. The Cavaliers have an established backcourt with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Their small forward position is firmly in place with the return of King James and with the “Lovely” trade they made with the T-Wolves, their front court is taken care of. This blockbuster trade must have every team in the Eastern Conference shaking in their Air Jordans. With three All-Stars on one team (Irving, James and Love) it’s the Big Three all over again. This time it’s up north. LeBron will be a happy man moving forward into this season and Wiggins will have the opportunity to prove to everyone that he’s a superstar in Minnesota without having to stand in the shadow of a future Hall-of-Famer.

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.

Lord of the Two Rings: Return of the King

It’s official! LeBron James has decided to go back to his hometown and play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. A contract has not been presented yet, but James will probably get a max deal, making him the highest paid basketball player in the NBA. As for Chris Bosh, he will remain loyal with the Miami Heat and keep his talents in South Beach where he will just landed a 5-year deal worth over $116 million. Dwyane Wade is also a free agent and is probably going to stay in Miami as well. However, the Chicago Bulls have made a push to bring Wade back to his hometown. Everything will start falling into place once Carmelo Anthony makes up his mind on where he wants to play. He has narrowed his choices down to Chicago and staying in New York. Anthony is leaning towards the Knicks, but if Chicago is still a great place for Anthony to land. He will play for a championship-caliber team with a All-Star point guard in Derrick Rose and NBA-Defensive-Player-of-the-Year winner Joakim Noah. If the Bulls sign Wade, that could also attract Anthony to move west.

Now back to LeBron. James is the franchise-leader in points, free-throws made, and steals. He just needs to make 32 three-pointers and he will have the franchise record for that as well. He will also have the opportunity to play with something he has never had in his NBA career: a really talented All-Star point guard. Kyrie Irving has emerged as the leader of the Cavaliers since James left town. Now James won’t have the pressure to carry the team on his back like he did back when he first played with Cleveland. Irving will provide that All-Star power and the play-making ability to compliment James’ style. Not only that, but James will also get to play with rookie sensation Andrew Wiggins. The first-overall pick in this year’s draft will learn from LeBron up close and personal. It’s likely that the two players will share a bond on the court that will help develop the young star into one of the best rookies in the league. James will serve as a mentor for the young Wiggins, but he’ll do more than mentor him; he’ll show him how it’s done.

I think everyone in Cleveland now forgives LeBron for The Decision back in 2010 and now Cavaliers’ fans will have something to cheer about this season. Home games are going to be sold out, jerseys are going to be dug out of the trash can and Johnny Football will be closer to his new friend. The Heisman-winning quarterback will be playing for the Cleveland Browns this year and Manziel will definitely bring some excitement to the city. With both him and LeBron, a little hope has been poured into Cleveland. Now we’ll wait and see if LeBron can bring a title to his hometown.

Kawhi Leonard Lifts San Antonio Spurs in Game Three

The San Antonio Spurs took Game Three over the Miami Heat last night, winning 111-92. That gives them the series lead at 2-1. The Spurs’ first half was one of the most phenomenal performances in NBA Finals history. The offense was so team-oriented that it left the Heat disoriented at halftime. The first quarter ended with the Spurs leading 41-25, an 86 field goal percentage performance, and then at halftime, the score was 71-50. The Spurs ended up shooting 76 percent on the field in the first half, an NBA Finals record that Coach Gregg Popovich said would never happen “ever again.” San Antonio did everything better than the Heat. They had a better field goal percentage (59.4), better free-throw percentage (81.2), had more rebounds (29) and less turnovers (12).

The only thing the Heat did right was through LeBron James. The two-time champ lead his team in points (22), rebounds (5) and assists (7). Miami also did well behind the three-point line, hitting 47.6 percent. James, Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen did their part in that category, but the Heat couldn’t dig themselves out of the hole that they had put themselves in.

The biggest star of the night was 22-year-old Kawhi Leonard. He shot a career-high 29 points, had four rebounds, two assists and two steals. The last time he scored that many points was his senior year in high school! He was also the only player on the court that made double-digit field goals and he made six out of seven free-throws. Leonard was considered the X-Factor coming into this game. If he played well, the Spurs would win. Well he’s playing well and the Spurs are winning! If San Antonio wants to continue winning, Leonard will have to play his heart out every night and stay consistently aggressive on the court. Coach Popovich even called Leonard “the future of the franchise.” He’s playing like it right now.

So where exactly did Leonard come from? Well he was born in Los Angeles and attended Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, California. In 2009, he was named Mr. Basketball California his senior year, making him the 48th overall best prospect coming out of high school. He ended up going to San Diego State where he averaged 12.7 points and 9.9 rebounds his freshman year while also shooting 45.5 percent from the field. He won the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year Award and was the conference tournament’s MVP.

Leonard came out of college his sophomore year after averaging 15.7 points and 10.4 rebounds a game. He was originally drafted by the Indiana Pacers with the 15th overall pick, but was almost immediately traded to the Spurs. The Pacers would end up getting George Hill through that trade. Since then, Leonard has been a solid player for the Spurs, but now he’s starting to turn into a great one. Keep an eye out on him as the NBA Finals Series continues this tomorrow night.

NBA Finals Rematch

After a Game Six blowout and a Game Six overtime victory, the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs are in the NBA Finals for a second straight year. The Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers 117-92 last Friday behind LeBron James and his 25 points and 6 assists. The Spurs will make the NBA Finals in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-107 in overtime. Tim Duncan had 19 points and 15 rebounds in the Western Conference Finals win. He had to step up his game after point guard Tony Parker went down in the third quarter with an ankle injury. He hopes to return to action in the NBA Finals, a series of games he just can’t miss.

The Thunder had a great run this year. Kevin Durant won his first MVP and Russell Westbrook played beautifully for most of the postseason. His 34 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 6 steals in the losing effort showed that he played well. However, his 7 turnovers proved otherwise. Westbrook missed a lot of big shots and took a lot of big shots, but he just could not help Durant get back to the NBA Finals.

As for the Pacers, Lance Stephenson’s unorthodox defensive methods were not enough as he just could not contain “The King.” James had his way with him and now Stephenson, Paul George, Roy Hibbert and the rest of the Pacers will have to wait their turn next year after losing to the Heat three straight times in the NBA playoffs. Head Coach Frank Vogel is expected to return and hopefully his team can be more prepared for the Heat next season.

Last year, the Heat defeated the Spurs 95-88 in Game Seven on the NBA Finals to win their second straight title. This year, they are looking at a three-peat, joining the likes of Boston, Chicago and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Spurs will be looking for revenge. Duncan is hoping to win one last championship before he retires as a Hall of Famer. He has proved to be one of the best power forwards to ever play the game, but with another title at his grasp, he just can’t help but try to win one more. With Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard stepping up, this Spurs team could prove to be more trouble for the Heat than last year. This will be the series to truly determine who the best team in the NBA is. The Spurs are known to get a lot of productivity from their bench players. The Heat are going to have to do the same if they want that third straight title. Tune in this Thursday at 9 p.m. on ABC to watch Game One of the NBA Finals.

NBA Conference Finals are Set

Four teams punched their tickets to the NBA Conference Finals and all four teams are the top two seeds in their conference. It will truly be a test to see who the best team in the West and the East really are. First, let’s see how each team got there.

The Miami Heat were expected to make it this far, after sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats and finished off the Brooklyn Nets in five games. Ray Allen knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer with 32 seconds left in Game 5 to advance the Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 96-94 victory.  LeBron James has been a dominant force in the playoffs, averaging 30 points a game. The Heat is looking for a three-peat, but they will first have to handle the Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers have struggled throughout the playoffs, and many thought they wouldn’t make it this far after their poor performance against the Washington Wizards. This team has had trouble rebounding and boxing out. Indiana had to go all the way to Game Seven with the Atlanta Hawks (a team with a losing record), but they finally ended up beating the Wizards last night 93-80 in Game Six. Roy Hibbert has not been the same player he was during the regular season. He averaged 10.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game and now during the postseason, he is averaging 8.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. He has also gone three games without scoring a single point (two against the Hawks and one against the Wizards in Game One). If Hibbert can play consistently against the Heat and have games like he did in Game Two against the Wizards where he had 28 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, then the Pacers might have a chance.

Paul George has played consistently well in the playoffs, averaging 21.9 points and 8.7 rebounds a game. Credit: indystar.com
Paul George has played consistently well in the playoffs, averaging 21.9 points and 8.7 rebounds a game.
Credit: indystar.com

As for the San Antonio Spurs, the one-seed out in the West is not having too much difficulty getting to where they are now. They did have to go to Game Seven against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, but they were able to close out and move on to the Portland Trail Blazers. Against Portland, the Spurs defeated them in five games and all five wins were dominant victories. They closed out on a 104-82 blow out on the Trail Blazers last Wednesday. Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich has this team right where it needs to be and they have been playing great basketball lately. The only concern is the injury status of Tony Parker. The veteran point guard has a tight hamstring that might limit his mobility, but he says that he is ready to go. Small forward Kawhi Leonard has really stepped up for this team. He is one of the youngest players on the roster and he has made a big difference. During the regular season, Leonard averaged 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds a game. In the postseason, Leonard has averaged 14 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. His performance is the X-Factor when the Spurs take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.

Speaking of the Thunder, they have had a roller-coaster ride of a postseason. They have had the strongest playoff schedule out of any of the teams. First, they took out the Memphis Grizzlies in seven games after being down 2-1. Then they just recently beat the L.A. Clippers in Game Six 104-98, after through tough matches with them. After that win, they will advance to the Western Conference Finals for the third time in the last four years. Kevin Durant has arguably been the best player in the postseason, leading all players with 31.4 points a game and capping off the Game Six victory over the Clippers with an amazing performance of 39 points, 16 rebounds and 5 assists. He also has six double-doubles this postseason, showing that he has been carrying this team on his back and lifting them up game after game. Teammate Russell Westbrook has been a game-changer this entire postseason. When he plays well, the Thunder win. When he doesn’t play well, they don’t win. Oklahoma City has to rely on both Durant and Westbrook to bring their best against San Antonio. While Durant has had double-doubles, Westbrook has had triple-doubles. His first one came in a losing effort against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Five on the first round of the playoffs. Then his Game Seven performance against them was historic, with 27 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds. His best game to date was in Game Two against the L.A. Clippers where he had 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. If Westbrook can play consistently well, the Thunder could go very far. They have already swept the Spurs during the regular season and have played well against them in recent years.

Kevin Durant will have to keep his scoring pace going as the MVP takes on the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Credit: nba.si.com
Kevin Durant will have to keep his scoring pace going as the MVP takes on the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
Credit: nba.si.com

The Eastern Conference Finals will be played first on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The Indiana Pacers will host the Miami Heat for the first game of the series. Then on Monday, the San Antonio Spurs will host the Oklahoma City Thunder at 9 p.m. for the first game of that series. These games are must-see NBA playoff T.V. It’s the four best teams of the NBA squaring off and you just can’t miss it!

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.

NBA Regular Season Closing Shop

The NBA regular season is drawing to a close soon with April 16th being the last day and the last chance for NBA teams to fight for playoff position. So far, the Western Conference is looking dominant while the Eastern Conference has only the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers to worry about. I’ll throw in the Toronto Raptors in there as well since they have had a surprisingly well season and the Chicago Bulls are keeping pace without Derrick Rose. As of right now, the Western Conference has nine teams with winning records while the East has only six. Let’s look at some of the recent stories that has been happening in the NBA so far.

Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder put an end to the San Antonio Spurs’ winning streak last night with a 106-94 victory. The Spurs had won 19 games prior to this defeat and Kevin Durant continued his own streak of 39 games with 25 points or more. We have not seen scoring outbursts like this since Michael Jordan did it back in 1986-1987 when he went 40 straight games. This win also proved Oklahoma City’s dominance in the West. With the win, they swept the San Antonio Spurs in their regular season match-ups. There are just eight games left for the Thunder this season, so they can easily catch up to the Spurs for the best in the West. Oklahoma City is only three games behind the Spurs for the 1-seed in the playoffs, so watch out for that as the season rolls along.

The teams with the longest winning streak as of right now are the Miami Heat and the Portland Trail Blazers with four wins in a row. The Heat are coming off a blowout win against the Milwaukee Buck 96-77 without Ray Allen and Dwyane Wade. LeBron James had about average numbers: 17 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds. However, the Miami Heat won their 30th game at home this season, marking the seventh time in franchise history that they have won that many. As for the Portland Trail Blazers, they defeated the L.A. Lakers 124-112 last Tuesday. Lamarcus Aldridge went off in that victory with 31 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists. Nick Young of the Lakers went off as well, scoring 40 points in the losing effort. With his contract expiring after this season, he will be looking for a team that will better utilize his talents. Going back to the Trail Blazers, point guard Damian Lillard became the first player in franchise history to make 200 3-pointers in a season when he connected with 8:07 left in the first quarter. With him and Aldridge running the show in Portland, look for them to make a deep run in the playoffs as a 5-seed behind Houston.

Dirk Nowitzki has the Dallas Mavericks moving in the right direction after a critical win against the Los Angeles Clippers. Credit: bleacherreport.com
Dirk Nowitzki has the Dallas Mavericks moving in the right direction after a critical win against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Credit: bleacherreport.com

Another Western Conference match-up that was intriguing last night was the Dallas Mavericks and the L.A. Clippers. Despite Blake Griffin pulling off his first triple-double of the season and his fourth of his career (25 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists), the Mavericks defeated the Clippers 113-107 behind Dirk Nowitzki’s 26 points and 11 rebounds. The ageless wonder shot 10-18 from the field and nailed 4 out of 7 three-pointers. This win helped Dallas move into a 7-seed in the Western Conference playoffs ahead of the 44-31 Memphis Grizzlies. The Mavs avoided getting swept by the Clippers for the first time since 1993-94 and will use that momentum to carry them for the rest of the regular season. Even with the loss, the Clippers still retain the 3-seed with an impressive 54-23 record.

I’m sure more great games will follow as the regular season dwindles down. Players might go off for amazing scoring outbursts and teams might find a way to sneak into the playoffs (like what the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Bobcats are doing right now). Keep watching the NBA, because things are going to get interesting very soon.

NBA 1st Half Analysis

The first half of the NBA regulat season is in the books. There’s been a lot of great stories and games so far. Let’s take a look at some of the things that happened earlier this year that we should keep an eye on later on this year. Here are the top five stories going on in the NBA:

1. Kevin Durant leads the NBA in scoring…again. The Durantula has been on a hot streak ever since Russell Westbrook got injured. His ability to put the ball in the basket has been phenomenal this year. He leads the NBA in points per game with 31.5. Carmelo Anthony is the closest to that mark with 27.3 and LeBron James is right behind him with 26.5. This could be the year that Durant has been waiting for. His Oklahoma City Thunder team has the best record in the NBA with a 43-12 record, which is four games better than the San Antonio Spurs’ 38-15. Unless something drastic happens to Kevin Durant, he could finally win that MVP award that has eluded him so many times.

2. DeAndre Jordan is having a stupendous year! The big man had a nasty dunk last year that took over the SportsCenter Top Ten plays for months! This year he’s playing like a true All-Star, leading the league in rebounds (14 rpg) and field goal percentage (65.9 percent). He’s also a great defender with 2.4 blocks per game, which is 4th in the NBA right now. His L.A. Clippers are also 4th in the Western Conference standings and have the 2nd best offense in the NBA, averaging 107 points per game. As the season dwindles down, the Clippers could go far into the playoffs and DeAndre Jordan could be that cornerstone in the Clippers’ title hopes.

3. How good are the Portland Trail Blazers? Last year, the Trail Blazers went 33-49, ending their disappointing season on a 13-game losing streak. This year, they’re 5th in the Western Conference standings with a 36-17 record! They also have the number one offense in the NBA and lead the league in rebounds per game! Head Coach Terry Stotts has led a great turnaround for this basketball club in his second season. The former Dallas Mavericks assistant has this team headed in the right direction although they are 4-6 in their last 10 games. They hope to rebound next Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs with superstar power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and young point guard Damian Lillard leading the way.

Thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge, the Trail Blazers have won more games this year than they did all of last season! Credit: larrybrownsports.com
Thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge, the Trail Blazers have won more games this year than they did all of last season!
Credit: larrybrownsports.com

4. The East will be won in either Indiana or Miami. The Eastern Conference of the NBA is definitely weaker than expected. Indiana and Miami are number one and number two in the conference respectively and by a long shot. Third place belongs to the surging Toronto Raptors with a 28-24 record. LeBron James is holding the Heat together without an injury plagued Dwyane Wade and he’s looking more dominant than ever. However, the Indiana Pacers boast the NBA’s best defense with only 90.3 points allowed per game. Guys like Roy Hibbert and Paul George are doing a great job at keeping this team at the top. These top two teams will be a great preview for the Eastern Conference Finals game unless teams like Toronto or Chicago step up.

5. Houston does not have a problem. So far it looks like Houston was the right fit for All-Star center Dwight Howard. The Rockets are 3rd in the league with points per game (105.5) and are 8th in rebounds per game (44.9). James Harden is leading this high soaring club with 23.9 points and 5.3 assists per game. Howard is also having a fantastic season with 18.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Coach Kevin McHale has this team headed in the right direction and could prove a legitimate threat in the Western Conference playoffs once things roll around.

So as you can see, the NBA season is getting more and more interesting. The second half will provide all the drama a basketball fan could want. Which teams in the East are going to make the playoffs? Who will win MVP? Who’s poised for a championship run? All of those questions will be answered after the All-Star break.

Christian Athlete of the Week: Kevin Durant

The talk of the NBA right now is Oklahoma City Thunder star, Kevin Durant. The small forward out of Texas University has been on fire lately, especially after that big win last Wednesday night at Miami. Durant helped take down LeBron James and the Heat with his 12th straight game of scoring 30 points or more. He finished the showdown with 33 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals in a 112-95 victory. Many thought that his scoring streak would come to an end after suffering that injury at San Antonio on January 22nd, but on his first game back at Philadelphia, he recorded his second triple-double of the season with 32 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. Speaking of assists, his per game average has gone up since last year, which is helping out the Thunder’s offense tremendously to now nine straight wins! Not only is Durant unselfish on the court, but he is also unselfish off the court. Last summer, Durant’s charity foundation donated $150,000 to three different youth organizations at his home in Prince George county in Maryland. They were the programs that helped Durant develop into a great basketball player and he just simply gave back to the people who affected him in a positive way. Not only that, but in that same summer, he also donated $1 million to the regional Red Cross relief efforts in Oklahoma after the devastating tornado damage took place last May. He also got Nike involved to donate $1 million worth of apparel to the residents affected by the storms. It’s this kind of stewardship that Christians should be more involved in. Giving back to communities is one way of reaching out to other people so that they could know Christ. God gave His one and only Son for our sins to show others that we need to make sacrifices to help each other out. Durant is a great example of a Christian man using what God has provided for him to help others in need. I loved his quote in the postgame interview at the end of the Miami Heat game the other night. Doris Burke of ESPN asked him what has driven him to get this scoring streak going and he simply said, “God. My Lord Jesus Christ. That’s it,” and he walked away. A man with such humility is someone worth watching as the NBA season gets deeper and deeper. That is why the Durantula is the Christian Athlete of the Week.