Regular Season Coming to a Close; Updated NBA Race

The National Basketball Association is coming down the home stretch of the season. As the new week begins, teams are playing their final dozen or so basketball games. The Toronto Raptors have run away with the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and Houston is close to clinching the west. The rest of the NBA divisional races are up for grabs. Let’s take a look at the seedings and the playoff races:

Eastern Conference:

In the Eastern Conference, Toronto needs just 7 more wins to clinch the top seed, and have home court advantage throughout the postseason in the East. Boston will come away with the second seed. That is where things start getting crazy. From the third seed to the 10th seed, there are just 10.5 games between. Cleveland holds the third seed, but are just ½ game ahead of Washington and Indiana.

Remember, the top four seeds get home court in the first round. The Philadelphia 76ers are the six seed, but just 1 game behind fourth and 1.5 game ahead of 7th, while the Bucks and Heat round out the postseason spots as of now. The Heat hold a 6.5 game lead on Detroit for the final spot, with Charlotte half game behind. If the postseason started today in the Eastern Conference, our matchups would be: Miami Heat at Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers at Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers at Washington Wizards.

Western Conference:

If you thought the Western Conference was a little crazy, be ready for what you will see in the Western Conference. The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors are going to be the top two seeds. That’s no question. Houston is 56-14, Golden State is 53-17 and the next best record is 44-26. That belongs to Portland, who holds a two game lead on the Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC is trying to hold off another Northwest Divisional foe in Utah, who is 40-30, and just 2 games back. But, the Jazz have company. New Orleans and San Antonio are also 40-30, which means a three way tie for fifth in the Western Conference.

This makes a huge difference because whoever falls to 7th will likely get Golden State in the first round. The Minnesota Timberwolves are the 8 seed as of right now, with the loss of Jimmy Butler, this team is struggling to find wins. The Timberwolves sit just 1.5 games ahead of Denver and 2 games up on the Clippers for the final spot in the Western Conference.

If the postseason started today in the Western Conference, the matchups would be: Houston Rockets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz.

There is a look at your updated NBA Playoff Picture. Check back next week, as we give an updated version, and also take another look at the top teams to draft at the top of the 2018 NBA Draft!

NBA MVP Race Coming Down to Final Weeks of the Season

The National Basketball Association is coming down to the final few weeks of the season, and one of the biggest races is who is going to win the MVP award in the NBA. There are plenty of options, but likely just one that is ahead of the rest. Despite that, it’s interesting to look at the front runners to win the 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player award.

James Harden, Houston Rockets

The leading scorer in the National Basketball Association has been the leader of the MVP charge since the beginning of the season. It’s likely that James Harden will win the award, but the competition has been heating up. Harden is scoring more than 31 points per game, and is also among the leaders in assists per game as well. His Houston Rockets hold the top seed in the Western Conference, and appear to be the best candidate to take down the Golden State Warriors this postseason.

Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

Anthony Davis is up to more than 28 points per game, and has been incredible since his buddy DeMarcus Cousins went down with the achilles injury. Many counted New Orleans out, but with 15 games to go, they are the 5th seed in the Western Conference. If the Pelicans get into the postseason with the roster Davis is surrounded with, he really should get some bonus points. Davis is an impressive player, and could be the toughest player in all of the NBA to defend.

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

There is no MVP voting without The King himself being considered. Despite the Cleveland struggles, they are still poised for a postseason run. The leader got several of his former teammates sent off, and now is working with a new crew. It’s likely a scenario where it is the final season for James in Cleveland. His 26.9 points per game is fourth in the National Basketball Association, and he is second with 9 assists per game as well.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

How good is the Greek Freak? Good enough to get a Milwaukee Bucks team that fired their coach in January to the postseason. While the Bucks will likely be an underdog in the first round of the postseason, without Antetokounmpo – they would be among the worst in the league. The Freak is scoring 27.1 points per game, which is only behind Harden and Davis among the league leaders.

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

The newest name to emerge on the list is the point guard of the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard has turned his team into a Western Conference contender. Within the last month, Portland has beat the Golden State Warriors twice, and now the Trail Blazers are the 3 seed in the Western Conference. Lillard likely has a better case to win the MVP award than last year’s winner Russell Westbrook. Lillard is scoring 26.9 per game.

There is a look at the Top 5 favorites to take down the 2017-2018 NBA MVP award. Odds are still available at most sportsbooks. Make sure you get your great future bets in, and cash them out later. Best of luck, and enjoy the remainder of the NBA season!

2018 NBA Playoff Picture – First Round Projected Matchups

The National Basketball Association keeps on rolling along, and the postseason is right around the corner. While the postseason does not start yet, and there are plenty of moving that can keep going on with the standings, but let’s take a look at the current playoff match-ups in the NBA:

Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks

The Toronto Raptors were the first team to clinch a spot in the NBA Playoffs. Toronto has been deadly at home. They will face a tough first round task though, if they get run up against the Greek Freak. The Bucks have played better since firing Jason Kidd. The Bucks should get in, as they are 5 games up on Detroit, but they have a bunch of room they could move up if they get hot.

Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat

The Boston Celtics would be the second seed in the postseason as of right now. This is much of the same team that had the best record in the Eastern Conference a season ago. Jayson Tatum has been added to that team, and of course point guard Kyrie Irving. The Celtics are one of the best defensive teams, and Miami struggles to score at imes, which makes for an interesting series.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Holy Cow, would this be a heck of a matchup. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and company against the King LeBron James. If anyone in the Eastern Conference can take down the Cleveland Cavaliers, it may just be the Philadelphia 76ers. This would be a MUCH talked about series if it comes to fruition.

Washington Wizards vs. Indiana Pacers

The Wizards expect to have their point guard John Wall back. Washington and Indiana actually come into the weekend with the same record. Both teams have been better at home, but Indiana actually has been really good at home. This would be a tight series, that would likely go 7 games.

Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Out of the Western Conference – the drama would certainly build. Chris Paul against his former teammates. The Rockets and Clippers had the big fight earlier in the season, and now playing in a series? The Clippers have work to do as they are in a mix of four teams within 1.5 games of each other with just 2 of them making it.

Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Interesting matchup because – because the Thunder have actually beat the Warriors twice this season. Golden State and their talent against the added talent of the Thunder. This would bad news for the Thunder, who were expected to do SO much more than the first round of the playoffs again.

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Portland has won 8 straight games to move into the third spot with 17 games to go. Damian Lillard is quietly smoking opponents on a nightly basis. Minnesota better look out. If they don’t start winning, their dream of making the postseason, finally won’t happen. Jimmy Butler hopes to return for the postseason.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. San Antonio Spurs

The Pelicans have won 10 straight games. In the latest win, Anthony Davis was banged up a bit. He is as big of a game changer as anyone in the league. If the injury is serious – they will lose their 3.5 game lead on the playoffs before the season ends. With Davis healthy, this team is red hot. The Spurs hope to get Kawhi Leonard back in action in time for the postseason.

There is a look at the current NBA Playoff Picture. We look forward to the rest of the National Basketball Association regular season, and are pumped for postseason action, Enjoy the games!

Tank A-Thon: The Race is On in the National Basketball Association

While the National Basketball Association may be talking about the postseason – a handful of teams are talking about how they can tank for the 2018 NBA Draft. The 2018 NBA Draft appears to be a pretty good one with a bunch of ultra talented players at the top of the board. DeAndre Ayton out of Arizona is being discussed as the top pick overall in the draft. The big man out of Arizona has been tremendous for the Wildcats. Other guys such as Jaren Jackson Jr, Michael Porter and Marvin Bagley have the potential to change a franchise around. The NBA Draft is just over 100 days away, and teams are already preparing. Let’s take a look at the Tank-A-Thon and which teams appear to be involved:

Sacramento Kings:

The Kings are sitting guys like it’s going out of style. Sure, the Sacramento Kings have a ton of shooting guards, and not sure who all to play, but this team is better than their 18-43 record. The Kings have started the second half with five straight losses, and wins do not look to be in the picture. The Kings have a ton of first round picks on the roster already, so many wonder if another will do any good.

Orlando Magic:

Not sure if the tank a thon is actually on in Central Florida – or if this team just stinks. The Magic did trade their starting point guard to Phoenix earlier in the season, which was a sign of moving on, and preparing to lose. Orlando has been banged up all season. Now, the Magic have dropped 7 straight games. The Magic could use a dynamite guard. Heck – Orlando could use a franchise changing big too. Trae Young would look good in Orlando.

Memphis Grizzlies:

There is no doubt that the tank is on in Memphis. That, plus the fact that team is terrible. Marc Gasol is trying hard, but expect him to sit quite a bit more as the season comes to a close. The Grizzlies have lost 11 straight games, and are just 1/2 game ahead of both the Kings and the Magic. Memphis just cannot score, scoring a league worst 98.9 points per game

Phoenix Suns:

The Suns are an interesting team, because they have the athleticism. Devon Booker, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren and the addition of Elfrid Payton make the Suns fast. The Suns are scoring points, but their 113 points allowed per game have them as a contender to be the worst team in the league. Phoenix could certainly use a big man. There are plenty that could be had with a top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Atlanta Hawks:

The Hawks won earlier this week, and they dropped four spots. The Hawks are going to want to stop winning soon. Atlanta is 5-25 on the road this season. Atlanta is another team that could use a big guy that dominates in the paint. The Hawks are 19-43 on the season.

Dallas Mavericks:

The owner discussed tanking, and said it was in their  best interest to lose games. The Dallas Mavericks are going to lose games down the stretch. If the Mavericks have to sit guys to lose, they are going to get that done. If you were betting – Dallas would be a fun team to bet on for getting the top pick in the draft. NBA does not have conspiracies, right?

Brooklyn Nets:

The Nets were projected to be the worst team in the league. Somehow, they have 20 wins this season. The Nets do not even get their own pick this coming summer, which makes their tank less likely to happen. Somehow, someway, could the Nets win 25 games in 2018?

Chicago Bulls:

This is a dumpster fire looking lineup for the Bulls. Chicago has dropped five straight games, and they have already decided to sit their starting center. The Bulls are going to their young guys plenty of chances to play as the final weeks of the season arrive.

Kawhi Leonard: Injured Quad or Overreaction to the News?

The San Antonio Spurs have been without their perennial All-Star Forward Kawhi Leonard for the better part of the year and it appears that there is no sign of return in sight. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich stated on Wednesday afternoon that he would be surprised if Leonard played again the season. Popovich stated that he has never seen anything like this, where a player has missed this much time for what is not considered to be a serious injury. Leonard has the same injury as San Antonio Guard Tony Parker, only Parker’s injury was much worse yet only caused him to miss about 26 games this year.

Parker’s injury was considered much worse and required surgery to basically put the tendon back together. Parker return to the Spurs on November 25 and has had no lingering effects. He is averaging 8.5 points per game and shows no signs of the injury. Parker has always been known as a hard-nosed, gritty player, that will do whatever necessary to get back on the court. He has played injured and done whatever was needed to rehab his surgery and get him back on the court as soon as possible! Parker without a doubt has the respect of teammates management and fans alike due to his tenacity and drive to get back in the Spurs uniform.

Tendon Been the Issue

Leonard has been nursing a quad tendon injury that originally sidelined him last year in the NBA Playoffs. Leonard has missed every game this year, with the exception of 9 games. Leonard originally was expected to start the season without any lingering effects from last year’s injury however that has been far from the case. Leonard missed all of September, October and November to start the season. It seemed that in each month coach Popovich became increasingly frustrated with the fact that Leonard was not getting any better, and was not healing as expected.

Finally, on December 12 Leonard return from injury and stepped on the court for the 1st time in a Spurs uniform since last year in the playoffs. Leonard look good in his return, averaging 16.2 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game, 2.3 assist per game and 2 steals per game. On January 2, in a game against the New York Knicks, Leonard posted a season-high 25 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals and the excitement around the San Antonio organization in regards to having Leonard back in the lineup was very high!

Leonard Had Injury Reoccur

Two weeks later, the Spurs put Leonard back out on injury rehab for the same right quad tendinopathy. The Spurs have Leonard listed out indefinitely and have not given a timetable on his return. Watch any ESPN interview or media publication with anyone in management from the San Antonio Spurs in reference to the Leonard situation and you will sense a bit of frustration.

Reports now coming out of ESPN are claiming that Leonard has actually already been cleared medically to return to the San Antonio Spurs choosing to remain sidelined. Leonard recently traveled to New York consulting with a specialist and to basically get a 2nd opinion on the injury. Leonard worked out for doctors at the NBA headquarters in Manhattan. Results from the 2nd opinion in his work out at NBA headquarters has not been made public and it is not known.

One thing is for certain, the San Antonio Spurs could certainly use Leonard in the lineup as they are preparing for the 2nd half of the NBA season. The Spurs are currently in 3rd place with a 35-24 record and are just 10 games out of the top spot in the Western Conference. The Spurs have robbed Peter to pay Paul of sorts in moving players around to compensate for Leonard’s absence.

The longer Leonard sits on the sidelines, after being cleared medically, could possibly drive a wedge between the organization and the All-Star franchise player.Leonard signed a 5 year contract worth $94.3 million with an average salary of around $18.8 million back in 2015. Leonard still has 2 years left on that contract however he does have a 2019 player option that could get him out early.

Spurs Future

San Antonio Spurs management and fans alike would hate to think that Leonard is sort of milking the injury or possibly not putting forth enough effort to efficiently help with the rehab but it’s only natural to be suspicious after a star player is cleared medically, but still unable to play due to his personal preference. The best thing that can happen for both sides is Leonard heals up and returns from injury by the end of the regular season so he can at least help in the postseason.

The New Look Cleveland Cavaliers Are Undefeated

Last week on Thursday, during the NBA trade deadline day, experts thought the Cleveland Cavaliers were completely dismantling the team and questioned why the team was shipping players out and bringing in a younger core of players.  The Cavaliers were by far the busiest team during the trade deadline but as we have seen since last week, the moves may have been the right move!  

The Cleveland Cavaliers appear to have found a new gear and are playing with a little extra motivation, which has brought back hope and optimism to Cleveland, Ohio!  The Cavaliers are undefeated, winning all of their games since the trade deadline and one of the most eye catching stats of that trend is the teams that they are beating, are high caliber teams that are playoff bound.   

The Cavaliers are coming in off a 120-112 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder are in 5th place in the Western Conference and are heading to the playoffs with the combination of Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.  Last Sunday, the Cavs beat up on one of the Eastern Conference top teams, the Boston Celtics.  The Cavs won the game 121-99 completely ignoring Boston’s top defense on their way to a scoring explosion.  The win itself was impressive but the fact that they did it on Paul Pierce day is even more impressive!  On Friday, the Cavaliers beat up on the Atlanta Hawks, winning the game 123-107.  

One of the most ironic parts of the win streak, which is actually at 4 games if you count the game prior to the trade deadline, is the last 3 games were all on the road, where they have struggled over the past 2 months. They have gone 14-15, one game under .500 this year, on the road so the wins are even more eye opening and impressive.  

Those wins just aren’t close wins either, in the 3 games since the trade deadline the Cavaliers have won by a combined 46 points or 15.33 points per game.  The Cavaliers are averaging 110.2 points per game over the course of the season but in the last 4 game winning streak, the Cavaliers are averaging 126 points per game.  

The Cavaliers have now gone from 5th place in the Eastern Conference playoff race to 3rd place, just 6 games back of the first place Toronto Raptors.  Their first half of the season is over and they have 26 games left in the second half to improve their position in the Eastern Conference.  

The new players that the Cleveland Cavaliers added aren’t really setting the world on fire in the stat line but what they have done is bring a rejuvenated sense of excitement to the overall team.  In Tuesday Night’s game with the Thunder, Lebron James was 2 rebounds and 2 assists away from a triple double, posting 37 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists.  George Hill got the start for the Cavaliers and scored 7 points, while Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and Larry Nance all scored 13 or 14 points each off the bench.

In the game against the Celtics, Hill scored 12 points in the start, while Clarkson scored 17, Hood scored 15 and Nance put up 5 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Clarkson and Hood have both scored in double digit figures in both games this year as a Cavalier and have immediately served as some depth off the Cavaliers bench. 

With the Cavaliers playing much better basketball post trade deadline, it leaves the NBA world wondering if this is what the Cleveland Cavaliers needed to get over the hump and back to the promised land of winning a NBA Title.  This is most likely LeBron James last year in Cleveland, as he will become a free agent at the end of the year and it is anticipated that he will sign a very large contract, potentially with the LA Lakers.  

There is always the possibility that he could resign with the Cavaliers but experts close to the situation say that it is very unlikely.  Prior to the trades being made, it is said that James met with Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman about the potential trades and talks went well.  These type of conversations have become rare in Cleveland with James agent Rich Paul handling most conversations between his client and the organization.  

James stated prior to the trade deadline that he would not get involved in any trade talks because he is a player and didn’t want to be involved in trade deadline issues. With that subject changing, this may be a sign that the muddy waters are starting to clear up between James and the organization, which could result in talks between the two for keeping King James in Cleveland.