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Rick Senger
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Posted: 21 September 2016 at 1:12pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Sounds like Chris Bosh has doubts Miami will ever let him meaningfully play again.  Part of it is cap-related as the Heat can write off his huge two year guaranteed deal if he plays 10 or fewer games and is diagnosed by an independent doctor as "disabled."   I hope that's not the case because while Bosh shouldn't gamble on his health, he feels confident he can play and has some doctors who agree he can give it a chance with his new regimen of blood thinners.  Obviously it's a tricky, delicate situation but if Bosh can safely go, he should get a shot. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo signs a $100 mill 4 year extension with the Bucks.  Very talented budding young star who will only continue to improve, as should the Bucks, who seem to be on the right track.

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Rick Senger
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Posted: 22 September 2016 at 8:27am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

The fates realign:  within hours of Antetokounmpo's presser, young Bucks G Khris Middleton (18.2 PPG) apparently tore his hamstring and will now be out 6 months.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 03 October 2016 at 2:25pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

#1 pick Simmons out at least three months with broken foot.  The Sixers' curse continues? 
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 14 October 2016 at 7:02pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

JR Smith finally signs with the Cavs:  $57 mill for 4 years.  Smith definitely comes out a winner for opting out of his $5.7 one year offer; this one is more than $14 mill per and will pay him up to age 35.  The Cavs get the same spacey streak shooter Smith has always been, but Smith improved his defense last year and helped the Cavs at several critical moments  during their championship run so I think it was deserved.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 26 October 2016 at 2:39pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Not the most competitive NBA openers ever, but we certainly learned some things.

1) The GS juggernaut will not go undefeated.  It took until April of last year for them to lose at home and they did it this year opening night by 20.  That makes four straight losses for the Warriors since being up 3-1.  I'm sure some will already say the sky is falling but this team cannot win less than 63 games unless two starters lose a limb.  On the other side, Kawhi Leonard played like a monster, getting a career high 35 along with five steals and his usual active, disruptive defense.  Jonathan Simmons (who you say?) also got a career high 20.   Even on an off night by newly acquired Pau Gasol, the Spurs looked like the real deal.

2) The Knicks aren't in sync yet.  Noah looked sluggish and Rose (4 TOs 1 assist) might still be getting in shape after his trial but 'Melo had the touch and Porzingis had a couple nice rejections. 

3) LeBron looks sharp already.  19 pts (9 of 14), 11 rebs, 14 assists (one gorgeous bullet pass) and a block in 32 very effective minutes.
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Andrew W. Farago
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Posted: 26 October 2016 at 2:52pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Coverage of the Warriors' loss really buried the lede.  The Spurs reminded everyone again that they should never be taken for granted.   They've been THE model sports franchise for 20 years now, and they can lose a Hall of Famer from their starting lineup and not miss a beat.  The Western Conference might not be a lock after all.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 27 October 2016 at 8:42am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

The Spurs reminded everyone again that they should never be taken for granted.   They've been THE model sports franchise for 20 years now, and they can lose a Hall of Famer from their starting lineup and not miss a beat.
*****
Well said.  Two other opening game surprises were the Lakers' victory over Houston (all young players powering that win) and Philly's competitive loss to OKC.  Embiid's first game after three years of injuries did not disappoint; he got 20 points in 22 minutes with 7 rebounds and a couple frightening blocks.  If he can stay healthy he looks to make an immediate impact.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 11 November 2016 at 11:27pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Joel Embiid continues to impress, scoring 25 and 7 in 25 minutes to lead Philly to their first win of the season.  Embiid is averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds and almost 3 blocks despite only playing about 20 minutes a game.  No other "rookie" is averaging even 10 points.  Only 8 games in, he looks like the de facto Rookie of the Year favorite. 

Everyone seems to believe it's a Spurs - Warriors world in the West but the Clippers are the best performing team thus far.  Best record, more than double the point differential of their nearest rival and they've currently beaten five straight playoff teams, three on the road  (Grizzlies, Spurs, Pistons, Trailblazers and at The Thunder tonight.)  Best of all, their defense gives up three less PPG than their nearest rival and take out that team and it's a 6 point advantage. 
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 29 November 2016 at 9:51am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Five observations as we near the quarter season mark:

1)  Chicago is viable.  They lost Gasol and Noah and Rose but Rondo and particularly Wade have plugged in and the Bulls are surprisingly one of 3 teams in the top 10 in both defensive and offensive efficiency.  Impressive recent road wins over Portland and the Jazz suggest they might stay in the mix.
2) Anthony Davis is putting up huge comeback MVP numbers (league leading 30 / 10 / 3 BPG would be the 1st person since 1974) but New Orleans stinks so he won't get real consideration.
3) Despite what Cuban says, the Mavs might as well tank if Nowitski's Achilles keeps him out until Jan because they won't be able to regain the lost ground.  The perennial Philly tank machine will continue as Simmons might not play until the all star break and they continue to hold out clear rookie-of-the-year Embiid regularly as Okafor underperforms in his platoon role.  Philly could be headed for a fourth straight lottery pick.
4) The better teams are about the same.  GS, Cavs, Spurs, Clips, Raptors and Celtics remain where they were.  Houston (11-6) and the Lakers (9-9) have surprised.  Memphis seems better and OKC has taken an unsurprising step back. 
5) Miami wasn't gonna be great, but 5-12 is bad after 48 wins last year.  The Big Three are gone and Riley is back in rebuild mode.


Edited by Rick Senger on 29 November 2016 at 10:02am
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Joe Hollon
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Posted: 29 November 2016 at 3:49pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

As of last night Westbrook is officially averaging a triple double.  And not just any run of the mill triple double...31-10-11

Truly amazing.

I'm enjoying the uptick in scoring we're seeing this year.  Six players are averaging 28 ppg or more.  Durant's 27.1 has him 7th in the league, in most years that would have you in the top three or better.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 30 November 2016 at 12:33am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

As of last night Westbrook is officially averaging a triple double.  And not just any run of the mill triple double...31-10-11
*****
Finally the main man, I expect Westbrook will put up crazy numbers.   If he can average a triple double all year he'll certainly be the MVP favorite as long as OKC makes the playoffs.  Hard to imagine he can keep it up, but it's hard to imagine OKC once had three potential MVPS simultaneously in Westbrook, Harden and Durant for years, not to mention Ibaka and Reggie Jackson.  How did they not win a title?

LBJ is also nearly averaging a triple double with career highs in both rebs (8.4) and assists (nearly 10) while still scoring almost 24 on fewer shots.  First time in his career he's not leading his team in scoring, but he's playing the distribution game he's always dreamed of and Cleveland looks strong.
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Andy Meyers
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Posted: 01 December 2016 at 7:57am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Joel Embiid continues to impress, scoring 25 and 7 in 25 minutes to lead Philly to their first win of the season.  Embiid is averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds and almost 3 blocks despite only playing about 20 minutes a game.  No other "rookie" is averaging even 10 points.  Only 8 games in, he looks like the de facto Rookie of the Year favorite.

His nickname, "The Process," is one of the better ones. Here is an article about him (if anyone missed it).

Speaking of the process, this Sam Hinckie article was long but fascinating.
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Andy Meyers
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Posted: 01 December 2016 at 8:05am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Not a big fan of Twitter but Joel Embiid tweeted this with all the water they had on the court.

Well The court was tanking tonight.... #TrustTheProcess

Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) December 1, 2016

Now that's funny.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 12 January 2017 at 2:29pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Rose's unexcused absence seems blown out of proportion but the Knicks' fall makes me sad.  PJ rebuilt old with 'Melo, Rose, Noah and Courtney Lee but Porzingis was a good addition and gave them hope at least to make the playoffs.  Their latest loss (blowing a 10 pt lead to Philly with 2:12 left) makes 9 of 10 and drops them 2.5 back.  Despite a good gamble on Porzingis, Jackson's other dice rolls have failed and the reset button needs to be pushed.

After winning 60 two years ago, Atlanta continues sideways.  First all star Al Horford went to Boston and now Kyle Korver goes to Cleveland.  Rumors had Millsap on the move but now Atlanta says no.  Perhaps their 7 game win streak is influencing this but I don't see their endgame and they're worse than before.

Houston has been a major surprise this year (31-10) and Boston is on track with great draft prospects in the offing but this year continues to look like Cleveland vs. either GS or the Spurs.

Westbrook is probably the most interesting subplot as he continues to average a triple double on the good but not great Thunder; his PPG has jumped from 22.1 career to 31.0, his assists up to 10.5, but his rebounding has astonishingly almost doubled from 5.9 career to 10.7 this season.  Westbrook is in amazing shape and he's improved in rebounding 5 straight years but he's only 6'3... how the #*(&@ does he average 10.7???
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Joe Hollon
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Posted: 12 January 2017 at 4:11pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Two unbelievable things are happening at once. A player
is averaging a triple double (never thought I would see
that) and...he wouldn't be my choice for MVP. In fact
I'd probably have Russ third on my ballot at this point
behind LeBron and Harden in some order.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 12 January 2017 at 8:00pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

LeBron and Harden are both having great years.  With some of the Cavs' injuries, LBJ has been forced to play more minutes and he's scoring a bit more, but I suspect Lue will throttle that back as people get healthy.  LeBron certainly deserves MVP consideration since Cleveland's record is better this year though a few of his stats (turnovers and FT shooting) are at career worsts.  Harden deserves MVP attention as he's certainly ramped up his assists and it seems Houston has benefited with their vastly improved record.  Still, it seems there is a bias against Harden for some reason (some say he is selfish and his defense is suspect though I think he is a solid defender when he applies himself and the assists suggest he can play within a system.) 


Edited by Rick Senger on 12 January 2017 at 8:02pm
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Joe Hollon
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Posted: 13 January 2017 at 4:53am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

I was a Harden doubter going into the season. I've
watched him a couple times recently and he passes the
eye test for me. He's playing great all around, not
just putting up numbers.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 18 January 2017 at 12:41pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Meanwhile, LeBron again demonstrates his skill in manipulating Draymond Green.  I am pretty convinced last year's Cavs finals win partially swung on Draymond's ill-advised foul on LeBron's groin (and subsequent suspension) but people forget that was precipitated by LeBron stepping over Green's prone body at the end of the previous play, clearly LBJ's successful attempt to antagonize Green. 

The other night LeBron seemingly did it again, spying Green coming across the court on a breakaway and flawlessly doing a little flop when Green overplayed him to draw the flagrant foul.  Green definitely fouled LBJ hard but having watched thousands of LeBron plays, nobody alters his body position like that unless LeBron allows it. 

Cavs still got killed anyway, but it was great theater.
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Joe Hollon
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Posted: 18 January 2017 at 7:14pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

LeBron is one of the all-time greats and on the very
short list of my all-time favorite players...but I can't
stand his flopping.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 20 January 2017 at 1:05pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

I can't stand his flopping.
*****
Not a fan of most flopping but I thought that specific LBJ play was a smart move in the ongoing chess match / mindgame between James and Green.  You'll recall Green almost took LBJ's head off in game seven last year when LeBron was going in for a dunk at the end.  Yes, Green was protecting the rim then but he shoved LeBron so dangerously that LBJ easily could have been severely hurt (he nearly broke his wrist on the landing as it was.)  That followed Green's swing at LeBron's privates, which had already gotten him suspended.  The refs remember these things and the word is out on Green.  Green can influence a game with his aggression and was trying to send a message to LBJ but I think LBJ was ready and wound up reminding Green that the reverse is true and his over-aggression can can cost Green's team as much or more, as it did last year.

Phantom flops are lame (Divac and Ginobli are masters of this and it diminishes my respect), but Draymond did foul LBJ hard and it doesn't bother me that he took advantage of Green's rep and sold it.  That's just LeBron being smart.  And while Draymond mocked LBJ as he stalked off the court, he is equally guilty of trying to overact for fouls.  He admitted to it in last year's playoffs when he flailed his leg and nailed Steven Adams' crotch.  After the game he claimed it was unintentional and just the result of him exaggerating and trying to "sell" the contact.   I believe him, but since he flops too, he's a hypocrite for mocking others for similar behavior.   He's also a dirty player at times. He's in the top five in both flagrants and technicals this year.  I have no sympathy when he falls victim to his own over-aggression and earned reputation. 

The funny thing is, I still really LIKE Draymond Green.  If he was on the Celtics (who play a similar brand of hard-nosed, passionate basketball), I'd probably really love him.  But his brand of over-defending can be a double edged sword and he's going to need to learn to rein himself in and pick his spots to be a more effective weapon for GS.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 25 January 2017 at 11:36am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

The Cavs don't look right to me, btw.  LeBron now leads the league in minutes per game (37.3) but the Cavs are not winning (recently 2-5 including a blowout loss to the Warriors, the Spurs and the Antonio Davis-less Pelicans).  LeBron has harped about a lack of playmakers and he's right.  Cleveland only has two players averaging more than two assists per game (LBJ and Irving).  The Spurs and GS each have seven.  But the Cavs are severely over the salary cap and I just get the feeling that Dan Gilbert doesn't want to spend any more dough.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 29 January 2017 at 12:56pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

If they stay healthy and Curry plays like he did last night, nobody is going to beat the Warriors.
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Joe Hollon
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Posted: 29 January 2017 at 1:36pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

I still say there are enough good teams to make the
Western Conference playoffs interesting. A fully
healthy Clippers, Houston (with my current vote for MVP
Harden) and the always excellent Spurs. Not to mention
Westbrook dropping triple doubles every night for the
Thunder.

On the other side of the continent, I still can't see
any legit threats to the Cavs in the East.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 29 January 2017 at 5:45pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

I'll give you the Spurs.  Two-time defensive player of the year Kawhi Leonard has broken out offensively, averaging 25.4 pts and Popovich always maximizes what he has.  Still, Gasol is out indefinitely and Parker and Ginobli aren't what they once were.  Aldridge still doesn't seem quite comfortable, though he looks a little better this year.

As good as Houston has been, it usually takes losing at least once after being good for a year before teams typically really break through in the playoffs.

With Kanter out for two months, OKC will struggle though they'll still get in since the dropoff to #8 is so steep.  Still, if OKC couldn't beat GS last year with Kevin Durant, how are they going to do it this year with Durant on the other side?

The Clips just lost by 46 to GS and Curry didn't even play the 4th.  A fully healthy Clips team would help (they looked good early) but oft-injured Chris Paul is out two months and Griffin is going to need time to round back into form.  I just have a feeling this team is snake bit; rumors of a trade for Carmelo Anthony just smell of desperation.

We all know GS has more big name offensive weapons in their prime than anyone.  What's scary is Curry has been kind of off (decent but not nearly MVP-like) almost all year yet they're still 40-7.  Now that Steph is showing signs of returning to form, I see the Warriors as more dangerous and probably hungrier than anyone after last year's finish.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 31 January 2017 at 6:13pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

The Cavs are reportedly working out Kirk Hinrich, Mario Chalmers and Lance Stephenson to fill the playmaker role.  Chalmers is an obvious fit; he played with James 4 years and seems recovered from an Achilles injury though he's not much of a shooter.  Lance Stephenson was once a prized two way Pacer who could defend, dish, rebound and score.   Four trades later, he's damaged goods who got waived by the awful Pelicans no less.  He's still only 26 with some upside, but seems troubled and a bigger gamble.  None of these players are a silver bullet but Cavs mgmt is listening to LeBron, not a bad idea despite what Charles Barkley says. 
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