Tag Archives: basketball

2016 Olympic Basketball: Who’d likely Challenge the USA for the Men’s Gold?

At first, we all thought Spain was the second best team and could challenge Team USA for the men’s basketball gold — well, that was before the 2016 Olympics got started. Yup, and this in spite Marc Gasol not making the team. But then, we also wondered what happened to Serge Ibaka?

Still, this seeding was basically because of Spain’s previous showings — that is being second in the last 2 Olympics and all. Yeah, without anyone really considering their ageing roster..

The omen why Spain may not make it
The Omen why Spain may not make it

But now it has shown. More than Jose Calderon not really playing, the team has greatly deteriorated in firepower with Juan Carlos Navarro unable to provide that outside touch and Rudy Fernandez now losing a step or two in his game.

Okay, they still got 3 more games left; but the only team that they’d likely beat in their remaining games is Nigeria. Argentina, Lithuania? That is if those teams get lazy while they get lucky — what with Pau Gasol even missing crucial free throws?!

FRANCE. Uhm, with Tony Parker leading the anchor, seems like the French are in good hands. Problem is — it’s only Parker doing the damage. Boris Diaw can’t just talk about their team ball, it doesn’t show. They got to get Batum, Gelabale and Gobert more involved!

ARGENTINA. Yes, they’ve aged but if they could play controlled ball to save gas for their stars while executing well — and especially if Delfino could get back his shooting touch and Laprovittola is given more offensive plays — then they got a chance!

AUSTRALIA. As it is, the Aussies seem to have the best chance of upsetting the US — but they need more than just the shooting of Patty Mills who most likely would just get bottled up if they can’t execute or move the ball well — they need the toughness of Andrew Bogut and Matt Dellavedova round-the-clock as well as the inside presence of Aaron Baynes.

The Omen why the Boomers could make it
The Omen why the Boomers could make it

Lithuania. Their 2 wins were close, so you might as well say they were just lucky. Brazil. Without Splitter and Varejao, they lost big men who could pass well — that should have been a plus in team ball. Serbia and Croatia basically plays the same — though Croatia would be a tougher nut to crack if Saric, Bogdanovic and Mario Hezonja would click.

For any team to win against the US, they got to slow down the game. Move well without the ball. Minimize turnovers and control the boards. Defense? Just make it tough on the shooter and cover the passing lanes especially those lobs or near the basket forays.

Easier said than done? If so then you won’t win. Hey, defense has no day off! And in offense, you’re the one handling the ball — so all you need is a good system to bring home the bacon!

2016 NBA Special: Behind Tim Duncan’s Retirement

Well, Tim Duncan just retired — and what a way to end his career?! Low-key. Very Duncan-like. And to think that he’s probably the best power forward in NBA history!

Okay, Duncan is already 40 which is why he hung up his jerseys. Yes, even as Manu Ginobili said ‘we all knew it’s coming but still, you can’t help but get moved’. Then again, what is really behind Tim Duncan’s retirement other than age? See, this line of something like “I’m done when it’s not fun anymore” is kinda over-used by almost every player who retires or thinks of retiring; and so, we looked at what ‘could be’ behind such an ‘infamous’ line.

Simple. Not fun means ‘they can no longer do what they were used to doing’. So, understandably, ‘not fun’ is really about one’s pride — especially if you are a known player.

All Tim had to do was exert 'more' effort
All Tim had to do was exert ‘more’ effort

In Tim Duncan’s case, he was just not himself in their recent PlayOff loss to OKC. Ah, don’t count the last game. One good game is not enough to wipe or establish one’s series performance. Tim has been great in his career, no doubt, which is why he is considered as the game’s best PF. But at his age, he forgot that he needs to exert more energy (than he used to) to get the job done. That’s why he wasn’t as effective against the bigs of OKC. He just didn’t push himself.. And he didn’t know it.

Now, whether it’s Duncan or not, if you just do not put much effort especially in an advanced age then he just won’t be as effective. So, this could also be an ‘unconscious fear’ that has crept ‘unknowingly’ to the player — since he’s losing his former strength, speed, vertical leaping ability or athleticism. Seriously. That’s worrisome. That just takes out the fun inside you.

GSW: They still got some gaps to fill
Actually, they still got some gaps to fix

And so, when Kevin Durant announced his intentions to sign with the Golden State Warriors — that just about ‘unconsciously’ made up Tim Duncan’s mind to retire. Because now, it would be harder for the San Antonio Spurs to make the NBA Finals. Yes, even with the signing of Pau Gasol. And that’s not fun. So, better retire than to go through the pain of missing your coveted sixth championship. Again.

Makes sense.

We always felt Tim and Manu would retire the same time
Tim and Manu still got game — just replace fear with effort

Yet for the Spurs fans, if only Green and Mills could be as deadly as they used to be — more so, if Manu Ginobili could be even half the offensive player he used to be; lest, if the Spurs could add one more deadly shooter like a Belinelli or even a Ben Gordon — then they got a chance. And who knows, if Timmy realizes this — he might just unretire and play even one more season.

2016 NBA Finals: G7 – Cavaliers beats the Warriors, 93-89, for their 1st NBA Championship!

You heard it — LeBron James and the Cavs delivers the first ever NBA Championship to Cleveland! Well, it was ‘close to a remarkable comeback’ considering that the Cavaliers were down 1-3 entering Game 5. Oh, and why just ‘close’?

Hmm… While injuries is part of the game as what happened to Bogut, a significant member of the Warriors’ starting lineup; and Iguodala, the Warriors’ elite perimeter defender — suspension is a different thing. Yes, we’re talking about Green’s Game 5 suspension.

Think the Cavs could have crawled back if Green wasn’t suspended?

Kyrie Irving: The Cavs steadying hand
Kyrie Irving: The Cavs steadying hand

While rules on technicalities were upheld to justify Green’s suspension — why didn’t the NBA suspend Stephen Curry for throwing his mouthguard to a fan anyway? See? So, this is like the league was just conniving to help the Cavs get back to its feet. Makes sense? And once the Cavs tied the series, the NBA didn’t really need to remove Curry from Game 7 anymore.

Remember the NBA objective — Blockbuster Finale! And so it goes..

Injuries: Not an excuse for losing
Injuries: Not an excuse for losing

Then again, injuries are different. Those are accidents. And we can’t really do anything about it. Affected teams can not really complain or make an excuse out of it. Otherwise, stop the game and let them heal first! Make sense? No. So, cut out the injury excuse unless t’was done ‘intentionally’ by the opposing team.

Bogut. Iguodala. Not an excuse. Same as last year. Love. Irving. They shouldn’t be an excuse.

Green's Game 5 suspension was the turning point of the Finals
Draymond Green’s Game 5 suspension was the turning point

Suspension is. That’s a telling blow! Like, it’s unexpected since, at least for some players, it’s hard to control emotions at the heat of the moment. Though still, in the end, it boils down to the team’s performance — particularly the stars.

While James played his usual self, Kyrie Irving had been a steadying support for the Cavs. Something we can’t say about the Warriors’ Splash Brothers. In this final game, Steph was 4-14 from deep while Klay was 2-10. Wow! And to say that they’re even known for 3s!

The 'Choke' Brothers?
The ‘Choke’ Brothers?

Now, they’ll be known as the ‘Choke Brothers’. Hey, in their 2 trips to the Finals — they’ve never been consistent! Last year, it was even Iguodala who’s MVP! And this year?! Should be Green regardless of his suspension, after all, he’s been the Warriors’ fortress!

So, enough of the talk that they’re among history’s best teams. Nope. They won’t beat the 1996 Bulls. Nor the ‘Showtime’ Lakers! The Splash, err ‘Choke Brothers’ are just not made for the Finals.

Goodbye, ‘small ball’? Hmm…

2016 NBA Finals: G6 – Warriors 101, Cavaliers 115

So, it’s all tied up at 3-3! What happened? Any claims, accusations or excuses? This is already a critical stage for either team not to play its best unless we do smell somethin’ fishy. Okay, it’s kinda ‘rigged’ to extend the series for a blockbuster finale. Then again..

Though there were some questionable calls particularly on Stephen Curry, fact is, Steve Kerr just executed the wrong strategy and were caught flat-footed. Just look at their starting lineup?!

Yep, t'was actually 'all ball' by Curry -- why a foul?
Yep, t’was actually ‘all ball’ by Curry — why a foul?

It’s Iguodala in there and Green as the Warriors’ center. It’s like all of those who normally rotates on LeBron James are placed in at the same time — making the team too small and the front line, real tired. Yeah, they do play ‘small ball’ but then they should not do so from the start as it’d only use so much energy from Green, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala.

Why didn’t Kerr use Ezeli instead as the starting center? Use him as how he uses Bogut. Ezeli could play defense, he could rebound, and he knows the system so he should be able to pass well, too.

Small ball per se should especially be used in the second half — when it’s time to go for the kill — not the first half when things aren’t that settled yet. Yes, the Cavs got to a quick start but that’s because of the Warriors’ starting lineup — their ‘death squad’ hasn’t warmed up yet. See? It has even put too much pressure on their forwards that nobody hit their stride. Green, Barnes, Iguodala.. nobody did well.

Well, it’s all water under the bridge now.

Game 5, Green wasn’t there for Golden State and Bogut got injured. Game 6, wrong strategy by Kerr as it affected everybody especially their forwards’ effectiveness. Game 7… Momentum would be with the Cavaliers but since it’s the Warriors’ home court, Golden State would still be favored — however, just slightly.

James and Green
LeBron James and Draymond Green

Interesting here is what would James do if the Cavs fail, again..

2016 NBA Finals: G5 – The Field Day

With Draymond Green out and Andrew Bogut suffering a knee injury in Game 5, it was just too much to ask of the Warriors. Yes, though Golden State did keep in step with Cleveland in the first half — without Green, the Warriors’ spacing has clearly gone missing, too. Add to it the in-game injury to Andrew Bogut, suddenly, the Cavaliers had a field day in Oakland — CLE 112, GSW 97.

That’s really all there is.

Cavs field day (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Cavs field day (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Everything was actually pretty even including the assists, rebounding and even turnovers. However, the field goals and of course, the 3s — these were where the Warriors got slayed. CLE 44-83. GSW 32-88. While on threes.. CLE 10-24, GSW 14-42. Free throws? Not much difference really.

But just look at the huge disparity in the 2 areas mentioned! Okay, the Warriors had more 3-point conversions but hey, look how many attempts they took anyway?! In short, the champs just shot poorly in the second half; and this allowed the Cavs to extend the series.

You say deee-fense?? Again, it’s really about ‘spacing’.

Steph Curry (Photo: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
Steph Curry (Photo: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Game 6 would be back in Ohio. What can we expect? A battle of nerves. That is, whoever could handle the pressure would win. In this case, it’s basically Draymond Green against the Quicken Loans Arena crowd. Would he be up to it? Ask the Splash Brothers.

If it’d rain threes, confetti should follow.

2016 NBA Finals: G4 – Warriors 108, Cavaliers 97

After 3 blow out games, as expected Game 4 was gonna be a tight battle. And not until midway through the final canto that the Warriors gained firm control, leading 93-84; before finishing Cleveland at 108-97. Yeah, it wasn’t really another blow out but who expects it to be this time around?

And so, the Warriors are now up 3-1 in this year’s Finals. Thanks to the big games, this time, of Klay Thompson and reigning MVP Steph Curry. Yeah, better emphasize ‘reigning MVP’ ’cause what’s the use if you can’t show ’em what made you MVP anyways?

Splash Brothers: On to the clincher in Oakland?
Splash Brothers: On to the clincher in Oakland?

Aside from the Splash Brothers, other crucial stats in this telling win by the Warriors were — the assists (23-15) and the rebounding. Yes, rebounding. This time around, it was tight at 43-40 in favor of the Warriors. Also, the free throw conversions was so poor for the Cavs, missing 11 of their 26 attempts. Hmm… And don’t ask about the 3s! Smith and the rest were just awful! Well, told yah, Smith is more of a flash-in-the-pan especially when facing stronger Western teams.

With this.. It’s just about coronation come Game 5 at the Oracle. Of course, closing would be tough and the Cavaliers could still pull off a win if the Warriors don’t watch out. Thus, it would now boil down to maintaining that intensity, yep, or even increasing it — then all those confetti and streamers will come falling down for Golden State.

2016 NBA Finals MVP: Draymond Green earned our nod this time around
2016 NBA Finals MVP: Draymond Green earned our nod this time around

The question now — who’d be Finals MVP? Livingston? Barnes? Iguodala? We believe Draymond Green earned it this time. While he may not have consistently scored in double-figures — his intensity, his mere presence gave ‘that lift’ to Golden State — most every time.

2016 NBA Finals: G3 – Warriors 90, Cavaliers 120

Well, Game 3 started with Cleveland stepping on the gas pedal as expected; after all, they were in a 0-2 hole and even in their home floor. And so, at the end of the first quarter, the Cavs led 33-16 (and after the end of every quarter en route to a 120-90 victory) — as Kyrie Irving was clicking while Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were still quiet.

Does Curry's brilliance stop when the Finals begin?
Does Curry’s brilliance stop when the Finals begin?

Hmm… but notice somethin’? Just like last year’s Finals, Curry has not really been consistent in the championship round. Okay, it’s the home floor of the Cavaliers, so what? You’re the MVP after all, thus, of all players it’s you who should be able to adjust the most. Take the lead and your ‘record-setting’ team would follow. Makes sense?

Anyway, Cleveland did a good job in coming strong off the gates. The insertion of Jefferson instead of Frye worked (mainly because Smith was hitting) as the team didn’t have to sacrifice speed. In all, it seems that Kevin Love is the jinx to the Cavaliers team when it comes to the Finals. Poor Kevin, Cleveland actually plays better without him as LeBron tends to be more aggressive!

Irving and Smith (Photo: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)
Irving and Smith (Photo: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

Then again, the huge disparity in the rebounding department (52-32) was what really helped Cleveland as it gave them more shot opportunities, and inevitably more conversions (CLE 48-91, GSW 32-76). Again, key players for the game though were Kyrie (30 points) and his early assault that set the tone for Cleveland, also Smith who hit his stride from 3s with 5-10. And of course, James with 32-11-6.

The next big question then — do we have a series now? Or would the Cavs find themselves in a deeper 1-3 hole? Well, we’ll soon find out.