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Believe it or Not: NBA Season 2014/15 Predictions

This is one of my favourite times of the year. The NBA season is here. You’ve drafted players into your own world beating fantasy squad. Players have been chopped, changed and drafted all over the league. And it is also the perfect time to make predictions about the NBA season. My personal belief is that if your predictions are said loudly, told to many people and said with a great deal of overconfidence that they just might come true. Here are my Top 5. Believe it or Not.

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All You Need Is Love

Kevin Love will opt out of his current deal and head to Cleveland, in a deal said to be agreed upon by the Cavaliers and the Timberwolves early this morning.

According to multiple sources, the 25 year old Wolves All Star is finally getting his wish, and will be traded to the already stacked Cleveland Cavaliers after the August 23 rookie contract deadline. The block buster trade will see Love head to Northeast Ohio while 2014 number one pick Andrew Wiggins and 2013 number on pick Anthony Bennett will take their talents to Minnesota, along with a protected future first round pick.

LeBron James, who had preached patience and leadership with his young Cavs team just last month, is evidently far removed from his initial outlook, and very much dedicated to the Cavs competing for a title this coming season. In a report earlier this week, we learned that James had instigated no contact with his young rookies, including Andrew Wiggins, and was fully invested in the pursuit of Kevin Love.

Patience and leadership be damned. 

Kevin Love has spent much of his career trying to lead an underwhelming Wolves team into the playoffs, but despite his best efforts, has never been able to drag them into the post season. His inclusion alongside James, point guard Kyrie Irving, shooting guard Dion Waiters and center Anderson Varejao will most certainly turn heads next season, with the Cavs the far and away favorites to take out the East in 2015.

But while this is a super team in every aspect of the phrase, there are many questions to be answered. Love and Irving have both succumbed to injury clouds throughout their careers, while defense isn’t a strong point either. Will these factors become an issue for the Cavs? Coupled with serious depth issues at multiple spots, and the inevitable question of chemistry, there is every chance this team won’t produce to the extent many expect. 

LeBron James is again sitting atop the pile in terms of favoritism, and the Cavs have completed an NBA summer heist of mammoth proportions, but one does begin to question the validity of his true metal. We really have never seen LeBron stick it out through the hard times, and drag a team out of mediocrity to the top before. I for one, would have loved to see that from him in Miami – Or to a further extent, Cleveland in 2010. But here we are.

Regardless of what happens in Cleveland, there will be excitement in Minnesota, with the acquisition of Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine undoubtedly providing their long-suffering fans with something to cheer about. Wiggins is an out and out talent, with a ceiling unparalleled by any draft prospect in recent memory and while the Wolves may have a long road ahead of them, they’ve at least gained something special from the loss of Kevin Love. 

Will the Cavs come to rue the day they traded Andrew Wiggins? Impossible to say, but for now, they’re in the box seat and LeBron James is once again the cream of Cleveland’s crop. 



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Early Under/Over-Rated Season Predictions Answered – @RyanOak

Which teams ended up being over, under or properly rated in 2013/14?

In the pre-season I wrote two articles in which I outlined which five teams I thought were over and underrated, respectively, heading into the 2013/14 NBA season. Though you always expect to end up with egg on your face making such public predictions, now that the regular season has been completed, it’s time to see exactly how much yoke is on Oak.

In case you are in need of reminding about my earlier predictions, you can check them out HERE, and HERE.

 

Five teams I said were underrated for the 2013/14 NBA season:

Miami Heat

Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat - Game One

To be fair, this prediction was based upon people saying the Heat wouldn’t win the title again this season, which I thought was crazy, considering the talent they have on their roster. Especially an individual by the name of LeBron James.
We can’t really judge this prediction until the Finals are over – though my money remains on Miami to three-peat – so this prediction gets a ‘incomplete’ mark for now.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Oh dear.

Though I appreciate the West is loaded and it’s tough to even qualify for the playoffs in such a deep conference, Minny’s talent means they should be a better team than Dallas or Phoenix. Sadly, the Twolves have once again underperformed, frustrating their fans, and making me look like a goose. That’s a cross next to my name.

Washington Wizards

I’ll move swiftly along from the Minnesota fiasco, and restore some pride by gloating about my Wizards prognostication. Plenty to boast about from this prediction. From John Wall fulfilling his potential, to Bradley Beal making a leap, to the Wizards making the playoffs in the East in the 6th seed, it all adds up to a solid ‘tick’ from the suddenly un-humble me.

Portland Trailblazers

But wait, there’s more! Let’s really kick the arrogance into overdrive by reveling in the sensational selection that was the Blazers. Portland got off to a blistering start, and though they cooled off in the second half of the season, they still finished an impressive 5th Another tick, thank you very much.

Los Angeles Lakers

*Thud*

That noise you heard was me falling back to earth. With some serious force, I might add. Let’s just put this one down to irrational bias, while assigning myself a big cross. Though to be fair, I did admit at the time that this pick was wishful thinking and I was deluding myself.

 

Five teams I said were overrated for the 2013/14 NBA season:

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Golden State Warriors

Again, you can’t really judge this prediction until we see how the playoffs unfold, but for a team with championship ambitions this year, the Warriors were kind of disappointing. And that was point I was making: the Warriors playoff run last season heightened expectations for this season, but they were never truly the title team that many people thought.

It’s N/A for now, but I suspect it will be a tick come season end.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Time to gloat again, for I stated that “This team doesn’t deserve some of the lofty predictions I’ve heard touted, and it would shock me little if they only won 30 odd games.” The Cavs won 32 games, and were generally very disappointing all season long.

Tick.

Los Angeles Clippers

Another prediction that probably needs to be analyzed after the playoffs, due to the fact I wrote “ . . . I see this roster crushing teams all regular season, before getting crushed themselves once the real basketball starts in the playoffs.”
The Clips have actually been impressive this season, especially Blake Griffin, but this team had championship aspirations, so it’s incomplete grade for now on this selection.

Houston Rockets

I wrote at the time that this prediction was the one I feared would come back to haunt me the most, and that’s not far from the truth. I figured Dwight Howard would be more trouble than he’s worth, but he fitted in quite well with Houston, and the team did a fantastic job of finishing in the top four in the tough, tough conference that is the West.

Regardless of what happens in the playoffs, I definitely got his one wrong. Cross.

Philadelphia 76ers

This is actually a tough one to adjudicate on. The Sixers struggled to an epically bad 18-64 season. However, my prediction was predicated upon the statement that I didn’t think they’d win double-figure games. Based on that, you’d have to say I got this one wrong.

 

So all up, I’m going to need the Heat to win the title, with the Warriors and Clippers struggling in the playoffs, in order to finish with a solid 6-4 record.

And I actually like my chances . . .



Playoffs

2014 NBA Playoff Race

 

With the 2013-14 NBA regular season coming to a close there are still a number of playoff spots up for grabs. Let’s take a look at the run home for those still with a shot at a post-season berth in both the Eastern and Western Conferences.

Eastern Conference

There are five teams who have clinched playoff spots in the east which leaves, realistically, five teams to fight for the remaining three spots.

6 – Washington Wizards 38 – 36

Run home – Boston, @NY Knicks, Chicago, Charlotte, @Orlando, Milwaukee, Miami, @Boston.

The Wizards have five home games and three on the road in their run towards the playoffs. Two of their eight games are against opposition who have a better record than themselves and with this is mind; we should see the Wizards in the post season for the first time since 2008 and with a decent sixth seed.

Prediction

43-39 .524. Playoff bound.

7 – Charlotte Bobcats 36 – 38

Run home – @Philadelphia, Orlando, @Cleveland, @Washington, @Boston, Philadelphia, @Atlanta, Chicago.

The Bobcats have five of their eight games on the road leading into the playoffs but the good news for Charlotte fans is that four of the five games are against teams with inferior records to their own. Of the three home games only Chicago have the superior record. The Bobcats should win five of their eight remaining games and clinch just their second playoff appearance since the team’s inception in the 2004-05 season.

Prediction

42-40 .512. Playoff bound.

8 – Atlanta Hawks 32 – 41

Run home – Chicago, Cleveland, @Indiana, Detroit, Boston, @Brooklyn, Miami, Charlotte, @Milwaukee.

The Hawks have the luxury of playing six of their remaining nine games on their home court but the problem lies with them having to face Chicago, Indiana, Brooklyn and Miami in their remaining games. The Hawks should win as many as they lose to finish the season, losing to the aforementioned teams whilst beating the hapless Bucks, Pistons and Boston during their run toward a post-season appearance, scraping in with the eighth seed.

Prediction

37-44 .451. Playoff bound.

9 – New York Knicks 32 – 43

Run home – Brooklyn, Washington, @Miami, @Toronto, Chicago, @Brooklyn, Toronto.

The Knicks season has been one of major disappointment and their slim hopes of making the playoffs aren’t looking good. Their run home consists of teams that all have a better record than themselves including the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets. It’s hard to see the Knicks winning too many of these games and they seem doomed to finish one of their most frustrating seasons on record with a failure to make the post-season.

Prediction

33-49 .402. Playoffs missed.

10 – Cleveland Cavaliers 30 – 45

Run home – @Orlando, @Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, @Milwaukee, Boston, Brooklyn.

The Cleveland Cavaliers started the season with high hopes but the reality has been far from flattering in Cleveland. Even after picking up Luol Deng the Cavs look very unlikely to see their season end in a playoff appearance. They have  three road games and four at home on their run home and despite having a decent chance at winning most of them their current record doesn’t have them in much of a commanding position. Its looks like the Cavaliers are destined for the post LeBron blues once again.

Prediction

34-48 .415. Playoffs missed.

 

Western Conference

The western conference playoff race is going to be an interesting one. With so many teams fighting for seeding and a few fighting to make the eight there are some key matchups in the coming days that could decide who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t. Let’s take a look at the run home for the west.

4 – Houston Rockets 49 – 24

Run home – @Toronto, OKC, @Lakers, @Denver, @Minnesota, New Orleans, San Antonio, @New Orleans.

The Rockets have a chance to land the four seed in the strong western conference and have a run home that should see them finish with a good record and a great chance at that seeding. They face only two teams who would be favoured to beat them in the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs in their final eight games and should they win six as predicted they will finish the season with a very respectable 55 wins.

Prediction

55-26 .671. Playoff bound.

5 – Portland Trail Blazers 49 – 27

Run home – Phoenix, New Orleans, Sacramento, @Utah, Golden State, Clippers.

Five home games and one road game against a less than stellar Utah Jazz should see the Trail Blazers win the majority of their remaining games. Two tough games against the Warriors and Clippers round out the regular season in Portland and despite the fact that they should start as under dogs in those particular games it’s a stern test prior to what should be their first playoff appearance since 2011. How far they can go in a stacked western conference in the post-season is debatable but it’s been a successful season for Portland.

Prediction

53-29 .646. Playoff bound.

6 – Golden State Warriors 46 – 28

Run home – @San Antonio, Sacramento, Utah, Denver, @Lakers, @Portland, Minnesota, @Denver.

The Warriors have been on a bit of a slide of late and it has put some question marks on their title aspirations but their run home should ensure they make the post-season. Home games against the likes of Sacramento, Utah, Denver and Minnesota should yield positive results with road games against the Spurs and Portland proving a challenge. All in all the Warriors have a good run into the playoffs.

Prediction

53-29 .646. Playoff bound.

7 – Memphis Grizzlies 44 – 30

Run home – @Minnesota, Denver, @San Antonio, Miami, Philadelphia, @Lakers, @Phoenix, Dallas.

The Grizzlies sit in a precarious position and with some big names to play on their run home it’s a distinct possibility they slip out of the playoffs. They play four games on the road and four at home. I see them splitting their remaining games with wins over the Timberwolves, Nuggets, 76ers and Lakers but the likes of Miami, San Antonio, Dallas and Phoenix will prove more challenging.

Prediction

48-34 .585. Playoff bound.

8 – Phoenix Suns 44 – 30

Run home – Clippers, @Portland, OKC, @New Orleans, @San Antonio, @Dallas, Memphis, @Sacramento.

The Phoenix Suns were supposed to be talking lottery about now, instead they find themselves fighting for a playoff spot in a strong western conference. Their run home is a tough one with five of eight games on the road and with teams like the Clippers, OKC, San Antonio and Dallas in their schedule it’s hard to see them making the post-season. A great effort to be where they are right now but I fear it will all be in vain.

Prediction

47-35 .573. Playoffs missed.

9 – Dallas Mavericks 44 – 31

Run home – @Clippers, @Lakers, @Sacramento, @Utah, San Antonio, Phoenix, @Memphis.

The Dallas Mavericks have to play all but two of their remaining games on the road, but thankfully for Mavs fans most are winnable. With the exception of the Clippers and Memphis it’s fair to say Dallas should be favoured to win against the Lakers, Kings and Jazz and their home game against Phoenix has to be a huge factor for both team’s playoff aspirations. I see the Mavs sneaking into seventh or eighth in the west.

Prediction

49-33 .596. Playoff bound.

 

 

 

 



James-Durant

Finally, a legitimate NBA MVP debate – @RyanOak

After a number of seasons of forced and artificial debate over which NBA star is the Most Valuable Player, the 2013/14 season has finally provided us with a race worthy of heated discussion.

In recent times, LeBron James has had a mortgage on the prestigious award. Over the past five seasons, ‘The King’ has taken home the trophy four times, and rightfully so.

During that span, the lone time LeBron didn’t win was in 2010/11, when Derrick Rose was named the league’s best player. Rose had a fine season, yet it’s debatable whether he should have even been the runner-up, let alone the winner.

However, it was a ‘nice’ story to have the classy Rose named MVP, while conversely the same could not be said if LeBron took home the silverware that year.

It was LeBron’s first season in Miami after unceremoniously dumping his previous team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, via the now infamous The Decision television special on ESPN. As such, LeBron was public enemy No.1, and the voting journalists appeared unable – or unwilling – to see past that.

Conspiracy theorists may claim that it was a calculated move by the journalists, as the snubbing of LeBron helped grow the narrative of LeBron’s newfound villainy and the drama surrounding it. Drama which, in turn, sold papers and increased hits on sites.

However, whatever you believe, LeBron simply couldn’t be denied his greatness the two following seasons, with his sublime play resulting in two historically brilliant statistical campaigns, two championships and two MVP trophies.

Though some pundits made a half-hearted case for Kevin Durant in that time, it never carried any serious weight, for LeBron was simply better in every way you could conceivably measure.

This was especially true last year when LeBron was just one vote shy of becoming the first unanimous MVP in history.

Of 121 journalists, 120 placed LeBron number one on their ballot. Somewhat comically, in hindsight, the lone other vote didn’t even go to the eventual runner-up Durant.
Instead, some idiot – Gary Washburn to be precise – voted for Carmelo Anthony. That decision still defies belief, but I digress.

This season is a different story.

Though LeBron has once again been outstanding, he has slipped ever so slightly, while players like Paul George and LaMarcus Aldridge are playing outstanding ball and have their respective teams racking up the wins.

Yet it’s perennial bridesmaid Kevin Durant who has taken his game to another level, and threatens LeBron’s stranglehold on the MVP plaudits.

Missing fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook through injury for the majority of the season, Durant has put his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates on his back and carried them to the second best record in the league.

Durant is leading the league in scoring – nothing new, as he’s already achieved this feat three times in his young career – by a full four points per game over Melo, and is shooting with his usual eye-popping percentages.

He’s also improved his playmaking and defence, while his rebounding has remained extremely impressive for a small forward with a slight frame.

Perhaps most remarkable, Durant leads the league in PER (Player Efficiency Rating), a category that LeBron has finished first in for the past six seasons.

Yet it’s Durant’s leadership and intensity that have really stood out this season.

He’s now willing to get in the face of teammates when required, or talk trash to opponents. Furthermore, he rarely lets the game drift away from him without attempting to ‘take charge’ of the game situation.

Though the improvement has come somewhat through necessity, courtesy of Westbrook’s absence, one cannot deny that it’s definitely helped Durant’s game, and his team.

So much so that should he maintain his play, he very well may steal LeBron’s MVP trophy.

LeBron’s fans will rightly point out that the season is only halfway over. ‘The King’ has plenty of time to defend his throne, and he’s realistically only slightly behind Durant on the imaginary MVP ladder.

The second half of the season may see an intense race to the finish line, and ensure that we have a legitimate MVP debate on our hands.

(This content was originally published on The Roar at www.theroar.com.au)



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“Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner” – An Analysis of the Luol Deng for Andrew Bynum trade

The Facts

The Cleveland Cavaliers traded Andrew Bynum, the Sacramento Kings’ 2014 first-round pick (protected 1-12), the Portland Trail Blazers 2015 and ’16 second-round picks and the right to swap first-round picks with the Cavaliers in 2015 if the Cavs’ pick is outside the top 14 to the Chicago Bulls for two-time all-star small forward Luol Deng, late Tuesday afternoon. The Chicago Bulls have since waived Andrew Bynum.

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“But what does it all mean Basil?”

Cleveland Cavaliers: For the Cavaliers the trade delivers a significant upgrade at what is arguably their weakest position (SF), with Deng automatically stepping into a starting line-up that will conceivably feature Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Deng, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao. Deng also automatically becomes the Cavaliers second-best player, providing all-star point guard and face of the franchise Kyrie Irving with what is easily the best player he has been paired with so far. The Cavaliers also manage to rid themselves of the disruptive locker room presence of Bynum, and replace it with the veteran leadership and stability of the universally respected Deng.

Chicago Bulls: For the Chicago Bulls, the trade delivers some much needed draft-picks including an extra first-rounder (albeit heavily protected) in a highly anticipated draft class and (courtesy of the waiving of Bynum and the remainder of Deng’s salary) some of the cap-relief necessary to ensure that they do not go over the luxury tax threshold, something which the historically tight ownership insists on as a priority given the current injured status of franchise-guy Derrick Rose. The trade also frees the Bulls from participating in a bidding war for the services of restricted free-agent Deng at seasons end, something which was almost a given to occur, following Deng’s reported rejection of a significant extension offer from the Bulls. The trade also frees up heavy playing time for the Bulls young prospects.

Who Won the Trade?

From my perspective this deal is a mutually beneficial one that provides the ideal pieces for the direction each of these two franchises appear to be taking. The Cavaliers ‘won’ the trade in the context of receiving easily the best (and really the only) player exchanged in the deal in Deng, a two-time all-star, renowned and revered for his willingness to play hard at both ends and respected for his willingness to sacrifice his own game for the good of the team. Deng is a bonafide star and an absolute professional and is the exact type of player that the young and unstable Cavaliers need to make a serious push towards the playoffs in the depleted Eastern Conference. While there is an element of risk present in Deng’s impending status as a restricted-free-agent, one would have to assume that the Cavaliers are confident internally that they can secure Deng’s signature before or slightly after the bidding for his services begins. It’s hard to believe that GM Chris Grant would have made this move without at least an indication from Deng that he’d be willing to resign with the Cavaliers if the offer was right.

If this is how it all unfolds, and Deng helps the Cavaliers to secure a playoff spot and then proceeds to sign on with the team, then this trade seems destined to be remembered as a success for the Cavaliers. If somehow it backfires, the loss of draft picks will hurt, however considering the treasure chest of assets the Cavaliers possess (and their questionable drafting record) it won’t be the end of the world, so while I would have liked them to play hard-ball a little more with the Bulls and perhaps hold onto one of the picks, I can understand why they made the move the way they did and I am happy that they did so.

Luol Deng

The Chicago Bulls ‘won’ the trade in the sense that they rid themselves of a potentially costly bidding war which they were never likely to win, wiped a ton of money off of their books and landed a swag of draft-picks that they can use to accelerate what appears to be a full-scale rebuilding process. The Bulls become even bigger winners in this instance if they do what they are tipped to and amnesty Boozer at seasons end, freeing up large sums of money to chase one of the sparkling prizes potentially on offer in the free agent classes of 2015 and 2016.

For the Bulls the trade could be seen as an admission that the team has reached their ceiling, at least for now and that given the injured status of Derrick Rose, it makes sense to rebuild through either the draft or the aforementioned free-agent classes and make a run at a title with a fully restored Rose in 2014-2015 or 2015-2016. If this is the plan, then this trade positions the Bulls ideally to embark on either or both of those two rebuilding processes and as such the trade can be seen as an absolute bonafide win.

So Who ‘Lost’ the Trade ?

Andrew Bynum

Andrew Bynum, the man couldn’t even keep himself together enough to reach the guarantee date on his contract. He’ll attract some interest on waivers but surely it’s a case of a budget price and even then it is still a case of buyer beware, the man just lacks the desire to match his obviously great talent. A real shame. Oh well, at least he can do more of this now.

Bynum Bowling



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Weekly Hoop Scoop #2

So last week’s edition of the weekly hoop scoop was M.I.A due to some much deserved, OK, maybe just needed, holiday time for myself and now that I’m back in the realm of weekly drudgery, a few kilos heavier and with an even bigger drinking habit than before I left, I felt it was time to get back to informing our loyal readers with all that’s been happening in the world of the NBA.

There’s been a veritable plethora of action as per usual this week so welcome back to the Weekly Hoop Scoop at NBA Nation Australia.

Monday November 11th

San Antonio Spurs 120 – New York Knicks 89.

The New York Knicks horror start continued when they were blown out by last year’s NBA finalists the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs were led by the stellar three point shooting of Danny Green and by the ever improving Kawhi Leonard. Green had 24 points and went 6 of 9 from the behind the arc and Leonard added 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting.

The Knicks shooting was abysmal, 37.8% from the field and 27.3% from three point range. Carmelo Anthony had 18 points and 8 rebounds but it was nowhere near enough to keep the Knicks in the game. The pressure mounts for Coach Mike Woodson.

Oklahoma City Thunder 106 – Washington Wizards 105.

OKC and the Wizards fought out a memorable clash in Oklahoma City. The Thunder got the win in overtime thanks to superstar Kevin Durant’s 33 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists, including a game tying 3 point shot in regular time and the go ahead free throws to win in overtime. The game was a fierce battle which included a heated exchange between Russell Westbrook and Nene which ended with both players being ejected. Westbrook might want to hit the weight room or try pushing someone more akin to his own size next time, I don’t think Nene moved at all!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6qeaMpYRvM

Bradley Beal was superb for the visiting Wizards scoring a career high 34 points, which included 6 of 8 shooting from behind the arc. John Wall had a particularly frustrating night shooting just 3 of 13 from the field.

Phoenix Suns 101 – New Orleans Pelicans 94.

Markieff Morris and Eric Bledsoe continued their scintillating, early season form as the Phoenix Suns brought up win number five for the season over the New Orleans Pelicans. Morris had 23 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks on 9 of 12 shooting and Bledsoe had 24 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds as he continues to flourish in his new role out of the shadow of Chris Paul.

The Pelicans were led by the play of big man Jason Smith as he scored 22 points and grabbed 8 boards. They dropped to a 3-4 record after the loss.

Minnesota Timberwolves 113 – Los Angeles Lakers 90.

The ‘Dwightmare’ may be over but the nightmare continues for the Lakers. They lost to Minnesota after having won the last 22 times against the Timberwolves. Minnesota were led by the maestro, Ricky Rubio. Rubio registered a triple double with 12 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds on 5 of 9 shooting and had a +/- of +27 for the game. Kevin Love added 25 points and Kevin Martin, who looks to have found a suitable home in Minnesota added 27.

The Lakers are a mess; they shot 38% from the field and 55.6% from the line, were out rebounded and only had three players with double figure points and not one player score more than 19 for the game. Next seasons draft is shaping up as a very important one for this proud franchise.

Tuesday November 12th

Chicago Bulls 96 – Cleveland Cavaliers 81.

The Chicago Bulls started the season with very high expectations and so far, its safe to say they have been way below them. They may have got the win against their Central Division rivals today but it came at the cost of an injury to Derrick Rose.

The Bulls were led by the one player who has been phenomenal for them so far this season, Carlos Boozer. Boozer is probably the most unheralded of the Bulls starting five but has produced so far this season when others have not. He had 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in the victory.

The game was billed as a matchup between two of the NBA’s best point guards, Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving, two stars who hadn’t played each other in a game before but neither point guard played well in the contest.

Derrick Rose left the game with a strained hamstring as his horror start to the season continues.

Atlanta Hawks 103 – Charlotte Bobcats 94.

The Atlanta Hawks got the win on the road against the Bobcats thanks to the play of big man Al Horford and some great fourth quarter shooting from Cartier Martin. Horford had 24 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists and shot 9 of 15 from the field whilst Martin added 16 points including three triples in the final term to help the Hawks secure the win.

The Bobcats dropped to a 3-4 record and a 2-2 home record with the loss. Josh McRoberts led them with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists.

Indiana Pacers 95 – Memphis Grizzlies 79.

The hottest team in the NBA right now continued to sizzle with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies to take them to a league best 8-0 start for the season. Lance Stephenson registered his first career triple double with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists and Paul George added 23 points on 9 of 16 shooting with a +/- of +24 for the game.

The Pacers are the first team since 2000 to start 8-0 and the 18th in NBA history to achieve the feat.

The Grizzlies Marc Gasol top scored for the visiting team with 15 points as the Grizz drop to 3-4 for the season.

San Antonio Spurs 109 – Philadelphia 76ers 85.

Danny Green continues to shine, he drained 5 of 7 threes as the San Antonio Spurs made light work of the 76ers. Green top scored for San Antonio with 18 points and added 7 rebounds and 3 assists.

Sixers rookie Michael Carter-Williams fell back to earth as he shot 2 of 11 for the game and Evan Turner top scored for Philly with 20 points on just 9 of 21 shooting.

San Antonio led for the entire game apart from a brief period where they were down by one point but they were quick to regain the lead and take a fairly easy victory.

Boston Celtics 120 – Orlando Magic 105.

The Boston Celtics had a fairly convincing win against the Orlando Magic at the The Garden in Boston. Avery Bradley top scored for the Celtics with 24 points on 10 of 15 from the field and Jordan Crawford had 16 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds. Boston shot a phenomenal 60% from the field for the game and 41.7% from three point range and only turned the ball over 13 times in the win.

The Magic’s Nikola Vucevic had 15 points and 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in the loss as the Magic’s record dropped to 3-5 for the season.

Houston Rockets 110 – Toronto Raptors 104.

The Houston Rockets took out a thriller at the Toyota Center in Houston as they defeated the Toronto Raptors in double overtime. James Harden missed a shot to win the game in regulation which sent the game into overtime where it was Rudy Gay who had the final shot for Toronto to send it to double OT, where James Harden took over to close it out for the Rockets.

The Rockets were led by the trio of Jeremy Lin, Dwight Howard and James Harden. Lin had 31 points on 10 of 17 from the field, Howard had 18 points and 24 rebounds and Harden had 26 points and 10 dimes in the game.

The Raptors shot the ball poorly at 33.3% for the game and Rudy Gay, whilst he had 29 points went 11 for 37 from the field.

Denver Nuggets 100 – Utah Jazz 81.

The hapless Utah Jazz are still winless this season as they fell to the Denver Nuggets at home. They have now started the season 0-8 and things are looking decidedly glum in Utah. The Nuggets were led by Ty Lawson’s 17 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds. J.J Hickson had a huge dunk over Marvin Williams which pretty much sums up just how much every team is abusing the Jazz so far this season.

Utah shot 40.3% from the field and an abysmal 17.6% from behind the arc, were out rebounded 52-35 and the question still remains as to when they will get their maiden win this season.

Portland Trail Blazers 109 – Detroit Pistons 103.

Portland registered its third straight victory with a win over the Pistons at home. Their three point shooting continues to impress as they went 11 for 23 from behind the arc. Last year’s Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard had 25 points including 5 of 8 from three, 5 rebounds and 4 assists for the game.

Detroit’s ball control was excellent throughout the game as they only turned the ball over 8 times but struggled with their shooting, 46.2% from the field and 21.4% from three point territory. Brandon Jennings top scored with 28 points and Andre Drummond added 16 points and 16 rebounds.

Los Angeles Clippers 109 –Minnesota Timberwolves 107.

The Los Angeles Clippers won a tight one at Staples against the Minnesota Timberwolves in a game where two of the games best power forwards, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love went at it. Griffin had 25 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists for the game whilst Kevin Love had 23 points including 4 of 8 from long range, 19 rebounds and 7 assists but missed a tip in to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Jamal Crawford added 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting for the Clippers whose record improves to 5-3 as the Timberwolves record drops to the same mark, 5-3.

Wednesday November 13th

Miami Heat 118 – Milwaukee Bucks 95.

The Bucks were never in the contest against the Heat as LeBron James dropped 33 points on 13 of 21 shooting, including 4 of 7 from long range.

The Bucks defensive efforts were all but in vain as Miami shot 58.2% from the field, 52.2% from behind the arc, turned the ball over only 13 times, in fact the box score really doesn’t do the Bucks any favours, the only major statistical category they bettered Miami in was steals, 10-9.

A rout if there ever was one.

Dallas Mavericks 105 – Washington Wizards.

Dirk Nowitzki passed Jerry West on the NBA’s All Time Scoring list as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Washington Wizards courtesy of a big second quarter where they outscored the Wizards 28-15.

Nowitzki had 19 points which took him to 16th in career scoring in the NBA, surpassing Jerry West’s 25,192 points. He also had 8 rebounds and 2 assists in the contest.

The Wizards Trevor Ariza had a game high 27 points on 10 of 17 shooting including five treys.

Golden State Warriors 113 – Detroit Pistons 95.

The Golden State Warriors got the jump out of the gate, basically winning the game in the first quarter thanks to a 35-16 start. Steph Curry led the Warriors with 25 points on 7 of 10 shooting with 8 assists and 2 rebounds. Jermaine O’Neal turned back the clock with his performance, scoring 17 points on 7 of 8 shooting with 6 rebounds.

Golden State shot 60% from the field, 50% from three point range, were +9 in rebounds, +12 in assists but turned the ball over 23 times.

Detroit shot just 16.7% from three point range, 3 for 18 for the game.

Los Angeles Lakers 116 – New Orleans Pelicans 95.

Jordan Hill had a night to remember for the Lakers as he posted 21 points on 7 of 12 shooting, 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals as the Lakers got a big win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans.

The Lakers were very efficient in the win; shooting 55.7% from the field, 55% from behind the arc and 81% from the charity stripe.

The game will be best remembered for Xavier Henry’s huge dunk over rookie big man Jeff Withey. Henry completely posterised Withey as he attempted to take the charge under the basket. Check it out here – http://nbanationaustralia.com/2013/11/13/put-it-on-a-poster-lakers-xavier-henrys-gigantic-slam-video/

Jrue Holiday continued his shooting woes for the new season going 2 for 11 in the loss.

Thursday November 14th

Orlando Magic 94 – Milwaukee Bucks 91.

The Orlando Magic rallied back after a slow start to get a victory over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks. The Magic were led by Aaron Afflalo who scored 36 points on 11 of 15 shooting with an amazing 8 treys. He also had 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals in the huge performance.

The Bucks had the better of things early on and took the lead into the break but the Magic came home strong and took the win in a close fought affair.

O.J Mayo top scored for the Bucks with 25 points and Khris Middleton added 19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.

Philadelphia 76ers 123 – Houston Rockets 117.

A bruised left foot was the catalyst for keeping both James Harden and Michael Carter-Williams out of the game and the loss of Harden proved to be too much for the Rockets as they went down to the surprisingly good Philadelphia team.

Tony Wroten, in his first career start, registered a triple double for Philly with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists whilst James Anderson added a career high 36 points on 12 of 16 shooting.

The Rockets Jeremy Lin scored 34 points and dished out 12 assists but it wasn’t to be enough to beat the underdog 76ers.

Charlotte Bobcats 89 – Boston Celtics 83.

The Charlotte Bobcats biggest off season signing Al Jefferson led them to a victory over the Boston Celtics at The Garden in Boston. Jefferson scored 22 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and had 3 assists and 2 blocks in the victory.

The expectation of both teams at the commencement of the season was quite low and whilst they have both exceeded expectations so far this game wasn’t one for the casual fan. Both teams shot the ball poorly, below 40% as the low score line suggests.

Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green were the only Celtics to score more than 10 points in the game.

Toronto Raptors 103 – Memphis Grizzlies 87.

The Memphis Grizzlies disappointing start to their 2013/14 NBA campaign continues as they lost to the Toronto Raptors at home in Memphis. The Raptors ball control, (13 turnovers) and defense, they kept the Grizzlies to 42.7% shooting, were the main reasons behind the surprise win for Toronto.

Rudy Gay led the charge with 23 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists but his shooting woes continue as he shot 5 of 18 from the field and his field goal percentage sits at 36.5% for the season so far.

The Grizzlies won the battle in the paint by outscoring Toronto 36-24 but their 17 turnovers and overall shooting percentage cost them the game.

Minnesota Timberwolves 124 – Cleveland Cavaliers 95.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are beginning to look like the real deal this season. Led by the stellar play of stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio they completely blew out the Cleveland Cavaliers to take their record to 6-3 this season.

All five of their starters scored in double figures for the game with Kevin Love leading the way with his 33 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists whilst Corey Brewer added 27 points and Ricky Rubio had 16 assists.

The Cavaliers, a team that many people were banking on having a big season, have started poorly and drop to 3-6 for the season. Kyrie Irving led them with 20 points in the loss.

New York Knicks 95 – Atlanta Hawks 91.

The New York Knicks won for the fifth straight time against the Hawks with Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani leading the way. Anthony, playing in the power forward position for the first time this season scored 25 points and Bargnani continued his surprising recent form by adding 20 points and 11 rebounds on 8 of 15 shooting.

The Hawks were led by Jeff Teague with 25 points but lost their first game at home for the season and drop to 4-4 for the year.

San Antonio 92 – Washington Wizards 79.

The Spurs have always been a team that doesn’t garner too much mainstream media attention in the regular season and this continues to be the same as they racked up their eighth win of the season against the Washington Wizards.

San Antonio had it all their own way as they led the contest from start to finish and never looked in any serious trouble. Their brand of team basketball was reflected in the box scores as they had six players score in double figures.

8-1 on the season and 4-0 at home, you know this team will be as dangerous as ever come the post season.

The Wizards however are a team that’s struggling to find their rhythm and they drop to 2-6 for the year.

Denver Nuggets 111 – Los Angeles Lakers 99.

Kenneth Faried may have been the target of many a trade rumour recently but he hasn’t let it affect his game. He scored 23 points on 8 of 13 shooting and grabbed 13 boards to lead the Denver Nuggets to a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Nuggets led the game from start to finish and despite having the inferior record to the Lakers, they had things mostly their own way. Timofey Mosgov had 23 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks in the win.

Jordan Hill continues to impress for a Laker team that’s in fairly unfamiliar territory as they struggle to keep close to .500 this year.

Utah Jazz 111 – New Orleans Pelicans 105.

It was bound to happen eventually. The Utah Jazz registered their first win of the season in their ninth attempt with a victory over the Pelicans.

Gordon Hayward has been putting up some huge numbers but to no avail as the Jazz have been on the losing end of things until now. Hayward scored 27 points and dished out 10 dimes in the win and his season averages stand at 20.3 ppg, 6 rpg and 5 apg.

The Pelicans Anthony Davis continued his break out season with 29 points and 15 rebounds but the Pelicans drop to 3-6 for the season.

Portland Trail Blazers 90 – Phoenix Suns 89.

A late layup basket by Damian Lillard sealed a close fought win for the Portland Trail Blazers over the Phoenix Suns at the Moda Center in Portland.

The Blazers were led by the play of big man Robin Lopez who had 13 points and 15 rebounds in the win. Thomas Robinson top scored for Portland off the bench with 15 points as he attempts to find his way in what has been a fairly underwhelming NBA career to date.

The Suns Eric Bledsoe was their best on court, scoring 23 points with 6 assists and 3 rebounds.

Sacramento Kings 107 – Brooklyn Nets 86.

The Brooklyn Nets, the super-rich, fully stacked, albeit long in tooth team with a payroll bigger than most countries GDP have endured a more than disappointing start to this season and the disappointment continued with a blowout loss to the Sacramento Kings.

The Kings were led by the play of Marcus Thornton with 24 points and Greivis Vasquez with 17 points and 12 assists.

Brooklyn shot the ball woefully at 37.8% from the field and 23.1% from behind the arc. They fall to 2-5 for the season and a certain Russian billionaire is undoubtedly fuming at his lack of return on his big investment so far this year.

Los Angeles Clippers 111 – Oklahoma City Thunder 103.

The Clippers got the win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in a controversial game where both Matt Barnes and Serge Ibaka were ejected.

The ejections came after a scuffle that occurred in the dying seconds of the second quarter. Ibaka became tangled up with Blake Griffin, a player with which he has some history with, and pushed him off before Matt Barnes took offense at Ibaka and shoved him. The ensuing scuffle, or lack of, caused the ejection of both players.

The Clippers would go on to win the game led by Griffin’s 22 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists. Chris Paul had 16 assists in the game and he continues to lead the league in dimes.

Kevin Durant had 33 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists in the loss between two of the western conference’s better teams.

Friday November 15th

Houston Rockets 109 – New York Knicks 106.

Carmelo Anthony dropped 45 points and grabbed 10 boards, Andrea Bargnani bested Dwight Howard and kept him to just 7 points on 1 of 5 shooting but it wasn’t enough to see the New York Knicks get the win at Madison Square Garden.

The Rockets won a hard fought battle thanks in most part to the play of James Harden, who scored 36 points and added 9 boards for the Rockets.

Howard was disappointing in a matchup which for all intents and purposes looked to be one that favoured him. He did well on the glass grabbing 15 rebounds but will need to have more of an impact offensively should the Rockets look to be a serious contender come playoff time.

The Knicks fell to 3-5 for the season and the pressure of playing in New York City just never goes away, especially when they’re losing more than they’re winning.

Golden State Warriors 116 – Oklahoma City Thunder 115.

The Oklahoma City Thunder lost their second game in two days with a close loss to the Warriors on the road in Oakland.

Golden State were led by the stellar play of sharp shooter Klay Thompson who scored 27 points on 10 of 15 shooting including 6 three pointers. His partner in crime Steph Curry added 4 threes of his own and 22 points.

The Warriors ball control was excellent as they only turned the ball over 7 times in the contest and shot the lights out from long range hitting 60.9% of three pointers.

OKC were led by Russell Westbrook’s 31 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.

Saturday November 16th

Chicago Bulls 96 – Toronto Raptors 80.

The Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose sat out this one due to a strained hamstring and the Bulls looked none the worse for it as they completely dominated the Toronto Raptors on the road. All five of the Bulls starters scored in double figures for the game as they kept the Raptors to 35.4% shooting.

Luol Deng led the Bulls with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists and an impressive +/- of +24.

DeMar DeRozan dropped 37 points and Rudy Gay added 20 points but the other ten players to see court time for the Raptors could only manage a combined 23 points, a truly forgettable game for Toronto fans.

Indiana Pacers 104 – Milwaukee Bucks 77.

The difference in class was more than apparent in this game between the undefeated Pacers and the 2-5 Bucks.

The Pacers made easy work of Milwaukee and were led by the play of big man Roy Hibbert who scored 24 points, grabbed 10 boards and blocked a phenomenal 8 shots on the game. Hibbert is now averaging 4.78 blocks per game and whilst its early days that number would be good enough for fourth all time for a single season in NBA history.

Paul George added 22 points for the Pacers in the win but it was the defensive efforts for Indiana which kept the Bucks to 34.1% shooting that led them to such a blowout win.

Atlanta Hawks 113 – Philadelphia 76ers 103.

Jeff Teague scored a career high 33 points to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 113 -103 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Teague shot 10 of 16, grabbed 4 rebounds and dished out 10 assists in the win. DeMarre Carroll added 21 points and Al Horford 20.

Evan Turner continued his great season by top scoring for the 76ers with 27 but it wasn’t enough as Philly drops to 5-5 for the season.

Portland Trail Blazers 109 – Boston Celtics 96.

The Portland Trail Blazers won their fifth straight game when they defeated the Boston Celtics at The Garden in Boston. They take their season record to a surprising 7-2.

LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 27 points and 12 boards. Nicolas Batum added 18 points including four treys and Mo Williams had 18 on 8 of 13 shooting.

The Celtics Jared Sullinger had 26 points in the loss on 11 of 18 shooting but the Celtics were badly beaten on the glass being out rebounded 47-34.

Charlotte Bobcats 86 – Cleveland Cavaliers 80.

The Bobcats, led by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist defeated the Cavaliers on the road to take their season record to 5-4. Kidd-Gilchrist had 16 points and 8 rebounds in the win which was the Cavaliers the first home loss this season.

Charlotte had five players score in double figures in the game.

Cleveland who were led by Kyrie Irving, 18 points and 10 assists, drop to a disappointing 3-7 for the year.

Miami Heat 110 – Dallas Mavericks 104.

LeBron James scored a season high 39 points as the Heat won a hard fought battle over the Dallas Mavericks in Miami. James shot 14 of 18, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 4 dimes in the win.

Both teams shot over 50% in what was a very entertaining clash. Dallas suffered with their ball control as they turned it over 24 times in the game.

Dirk Nowitzki had 28 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the loss and Monta Ellis added 20 points.

Denver Nuggets 117 – Minnesota Timberwolves 113.

Expectations for the Nuggets weren’t exactly sky high this season for most pundits, but they continue to play hard and sit at 4-4 after a good win against the Minnesota Timberwolves at home in the Pepsi Center.

Kenneth Faried led the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Wilson Chandler in his second game back scored 19 points including 3 of 4 from long range.

Kevin Love’s big numbers were once again on display as he put up 28 points on 10 of 20 shooting with 10 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks but the Timberwolves drop to 6-4.

Brooklyn Nets 100 – Phoenix Suns 98.

Joe Johnson was responsible for Brooklyn escaping with a last second win over the Phoenix Suns. Johnson hit a floater with 30 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime and then with the clock winding down in the overtime period he hit a buzzer beater to win the game for the Nets.

Despite hitting two very important shots Johnson didn’t have the best of games shooting just 6 of 19 for the game. Big man Brook Lopez was Brooklyn’s best with 27 points and 7 rebounds.

The Suns who were led by Goran Dragic’s 19 points drop to 5-4 on the season while the Nets improve to 3-5.

San Antonio Spurs 91 – Utah Jazz 82.

The Utah Jazz started their game against the Spurs with a 29-16 run in the first quarter but the Spurs were good enough to weather the storm and when it really counted they made their move, outscoring the Jazz 31-15 in the fourth.

Tony Parker led the Spurs with 22 points and 6 assists as they improved to 9-1 on the season.

The Jazz drop to 1-9 for the season and it seems the lottery is their final destination this season. Derrick Favors scored 20 points and grabbed 18 boards in the loss but the Jazz shot a woeful 38.5% from the field.

Memphis Grizzlies 89 – Los Angeles Lakers 86.

The Grizzlies and the Lakers were two teams desperate for a win coming in to this one but it was Memphis who took out the win in a tight one in Los Angeles.

Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 28 points including 14 in the final term. Marc Gasol added 18 points for Memphis in the win but it was the play of Z Bo that will be remembered as the catalyst for the victory.

Jodie Meeks played well for L.A with 25 points on 10 of 16 shooting with 5 threes.

The Lakers drop to 4-7 for the season as their fans start to talk lottery and Memphis improve to 4-5.

Detroit Pistons 97 – Sacramento Kings 90.

The Sacramento Kings fans set a world record for arena decibel levels during the game but on the court things weren’t so loud for the Kings. They went down to the visiting Detroit Pistons in a close one.

Josh Smith was outstanding for Detroit and fantasy owners would have been more than impressed with his numbers. He put up 21 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals and 4 blocks in the win. The Pistons improved their record to 3-5 whilst the Kings drop to 2-6.

DeMarcus Cousins played well for Sacramento in the loss scoring 26 points and grabbing 13 boards.

Sunday November 17th

Chicago Bulls 110 – Indiana Pacers 94.

The Chicago Bulls haven’t had the start that many expected but a big win over the undefeated Indiana Pacers should go a long way towards building some much needed confidence for the Bulls and their star point guard Derrick Rose, who also looked very good in the win.

Rose scored 20 points on 7 of 16 shooting including 6 of 11 from behind the arc. He also managed to not the turn the ball over once in the game, something with which he has had a lot of trouble with so far this season.

Luol Deng looked like the All Star he is by adding 23 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals and kept Pacers star Paul George to 12 points on 3 of 14 shooting.

The Pacers drop their first game of the season and sit at 9-1 while the Bulls improve to 5-3 with the big win.

Miami Heat 97 – Charlotte Bobcats 81.

The Miami Heat made light work of the Bobcats in Charlotte as LeBron James scored 30 points on 13 of 18 shooting with 7 assists and 4 rebounds. James is shooting the lights out this season as his 62.2% from the field for the season attests to and it was more of the same in Charlotte for ‘The King’.

New addition to the Heat squad, Michael Beasley, played some good minutes in the game and added 15 points on 7 of 14 shooting.

Kemba Walker was the Bobcats best in the loss with 22 points including three treys.

Dallas Mavericks 108 – Orlando Magic 100.

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Orlando Magic in Orlando in what was an entertaining game between the two teams. Both teams shot the ball at better than 50% but it was the Mavericks experience that shone through in the end.

Monta Ellis led the Mavericks with 19 points on 8 of 18 shooting with 8 assists and Dirk Nowitzki added 18 points of his own including four threes.

The Magic’s Aaron Afflalo scored 25 points in the loss which saw the Magic drop to 4-6 while Dallas improved to 6-4 for the season.

Cleveland Cavaliers 103 – Washington Wizards 96.

The Cleveland Cavaliers won a thrilling contest in Washington as two of the NBA’s best point guards battled it out.

The Cavaliers Kyrie Irving had the better of things with his 41 points in the overtime win while Wizards point guard John Wall, who looked phenomenal early on, scored just 9 points on 3 of 13 shooting but had 12 assists in the game.

Aussie Matthew Dellavedova played 31 minutes in the game including most of the overtime period and while he only put up 2 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists his contribution to the game went beyond the box score and will no doubt give him confidence in the fact that Mike Brown gave him such an opportunity.

Atlanta Hawks 110 – New York Knicks 90.

The Knicks lost their fifth straight home game to the Atlanta Hawks, who are playing some seriously good team ball, took out the win.

The Hawks had eight of their ten players score in double figures in the win and they shot an impressive 56.4% from the field against what can only be described as a hapless Knicks team who played little to no defense.

Paul Millsap had 14 point and 13 boards in the win.

The Knicks drop to 3-6 and 1-5 at home with the loss and the pressure of playing in NYC just keeps rising.

Houston Rockets 122 – Denver Nuggets 111.

The Nuggets played ‘Hack a Howard’ and for once the big man made a team pay by hitting most of his free throws. Howard scored 25 points in the win and shot 17 of 24 from behind the stripe. All five of Houston’s starters scored in double figures and the team shot the ball well at 50.6% from the field.

The Nuggets Ty Lawson had a spectacular game albeit in a losing team as he scored 28 points on 11 of 19 shooting and dished out a huge 17 assists.

Houston improved to 7-4 on the season while the Nuggets drop to 4-5.

Minnesota Timberwolves 106 – Boston Celtics 88.

It was always going to be a tough ask for the visiting Boston Celtics to get a win in Minnesota and it played out exactly that way. Minnesota are proving to be a tough ask for most teams this season. Kevin Love led them to victory with his 23 points and 12 rebounds while Nikola Pekovic added 20 points and 12 rebounds of his own.

The Celtics Avery Bradley top scored with 27 on 12 of 23 shooting but it wasn’t enough as there were only three players who scored in double figures in the game for Boston.

Boston drop to 4-7 while Minnesota improved to 7-4.

New Orleans Pelicans 135 – Philadelphia 76ers 98.

New Orleans completely blew the 76ers away thanks to a huge game for Ryan Anderson in his return to play. Anderson scored 26 points off the bench and shot 6 of 10 from downtown. Anthony Davis scored 13 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and blocked 8 shots in the win and continues to keep fantasy owners very happy this season.

The Pelicans had seven players score in double digits and shot an unheard of 60.5% from the field and 46.4% from three point range.

The 76ers conversely shot 42.1% from the field and drop to 5-6 on the season with a loss they would be best to forget quick smart.

Oklahoma City Thunder 92 – Milwaukee Bucks 79.

Russell Westbrook’s comeback continues to be a success as he led the Thunder to a win over the Bucks in Milwaukee.

Westbrook scored 26 points on 10 of 20 shooting, Kevin Durant added 24 of his own and Serge Ibaka added 15 points and a huge 20 boards in the win.

The Bucks poor shooting, 34.9% from the field, was the catalyst for another disappointing loss for them and they drop to 2-7 on the season. They’re looking more and more like a lottery team with each game that passes.

Golden State Warriors 102 – Utah Jazz 88.

The Utah Jazz are becoming seriously embarrassing. They lost their tenth game of the season when the Golden State Warriors blew them away 102-88 in Oakland.

The Warriors were led by Klay Thompson’s 25 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Thompson shot 9 of 14 and 5 of 8 from three point range and is having a breakout season currently averaging 20.9 points per game on 55.2% shooting.

The Jazz were no match for the Warriors and it showed. It’s a long road to the NBA draft for Jazz fans this year.

Los Angeles Clippers 110 – Brooklyn Nets 103.

The Brooklyn Nets were without big name players Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez and Paul Pierce so the odds were well and truly stacked against them against a red hot Clippers team.

The Clippers were led by Blake Griffin who had 30 points and 12 boards for the game. The Clippers had to rally late in the game to ensure they got the victory and despite the loss the Nets played well, all things considered.

Brooklyn drop to 3-6 and the Clippers improve to a 7-3 record for the season.

Keep an eye out next Monday for another edition of the Weekly Hoop Scoop and don’t forget, Pierre is watching you….

Thanks to http://believethehypenba.com/ for the picture.

Thanks to http://believethehypenba.com/ for the picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



p4

Weekly Hoop Scoop

It’s finally here! After months of whinging and whining about a lack of basketball, hoops junkies everywhere are getting their proverbial fix this week and what a start to the NBA season we’ve had so far.

I’d been thinking about doing a weekly recap of NBA news for quite some time now and between work, mortgage, kids and a slight compulsion to drinking too much I never really started it, but there’s no time like the present. So every Monday morning, when you’re hopelessly bereft of hope, dragging your ass to another week of blissful employment or if you’re not gainfully employed, then when you crawl out of bed at 11am hungover, you can expect a rundown of some of the highlights and low lights of the week that was in the NBA.

So with the formalities done, here’s a recap of the NBA’s first week or in this case, half week of action.

Wednesday October 30th.

The season began with the reigning champion Miami Heat receiving their rings before facing their Eastern Conference rivals the Chicago Bulls.

Bulls fans had been foaming at the mouth for months for this game and despite a good start for Chicago, the Bulls once again struggled to score points at times and ultimately went down to the Heat 107-95 but more than anything the game marked the official return for former MVP Derrick Rose. Rose didn’t exactly light things up as he shot 4 for 15 with five turnovers but the good news is he looks as explosive as ever.

The Lakers made the Clippers pay for the mere suggestion that they will cover up their banners at Staples Center with a 116-103 victory over their crosstown rivals and some fans decided, based on that one game, that the Clippers aren’t a contender anymore, talk about premature!

Paul George dropped 24 as the Pacers made light work of the hapless Orlando Magic 97-87. Did someone say Wiggins?

Thursday October 31st

Day two of the NBA was huge with fourteen games played. Highlights included the 76ers beginning their quest to go 82-0 by beating the Miami Heat 114-110. Rookie Michael Carter-Williams had one of the greatest debuts in NBA history as he put up 22 points, 7 rebounds, 12 assists and 9, yes 9 steals!

Durant dropped 42 in a 101-98 win over the Jazz, Kevin Love had 31 points and 17 boards as the Wolves beat the Magic 120-115, DeMarcus Cousins showed why he got that huge contract by scoring 30 points and grabbing 14 rebounds as the Kings eeked out a 90-88 win over the Nuggets.

The Lakers came crashing back down to earth as they copped a 31 point thrashing against the Golden State Warriors, going down 125-94. Klay Thompson was sensational as he shot 15 of 19 including 5 of 7 from long range.

Dwight Howard grabbed 26 boards in Houston’s 96-83 win over the Bobcats, The Cavs got an upset 98-94 win over the stacked Brooklyn Nets team, The Raptors beat the Celtics 93-87, more Wiggins, Detroit got an easy win over the Wizards 113-102 with Piston big man Greg Monroe scoring 24 and grabbing 16 rebounds.

The Pacers beat the Pelicans 95-90 and Paul George continues to take his game to new levels, he had 32 points. Monta Ellis made his debut in Dallas and in some kind of bizarre reversal of form he was super-efficient shooting 11 of 17 and racked up 8 dimes in a 118-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks. The Spurs got the win over Memphis 101-94 with their usual unselfish play, six players with double figure points and despite 32 from Damian Lillard, Portland went down to the Suns 104-91.

For me though, the highlight of the day was the coming out party for Pierre the pelican. The New Orleans mascot looks like he could be the lead character in a Stephen King novel. I’m thinking something like “It” but with a Pelican who delivers fast food before killing his victims/customers. Social media went into a frenzy after Pierre was unveiled by the Pelicans Twitter account with all sorts of photoshops occurring featuring the pelican. Now I’m pretty partial to Benny the Bull but Pierre is the new kid in town!

Here’s a few of my favourite Pierre photoshops.

Pierre

Then there’s the pièce de résistance

p4

Friday November 1st

After such an action packed Thursday, the NBA schedule for Friday featured just two games, the Bulls vs Knicks and the Clippers vs Warriors.

The Bulls Knicks game was the first game Derrick Rose had played at the United Centre since his injury and the Bulls faithful were excited by the prospect of seeing him play again. Rose continued to struggle much like the game against Miami but he did hit the game winner as the Bulls won 82-81.

The real highlight of the day however, was Chris Paul’s amazing stat line of 42 points, 15 assists and 6 steals as the Clippers bounced back after their loss to the Lakers, with an emphatic 126-115 win over a tough Golden State team. The game had plenty of feeling about it as seen here when DeAndre Jordan and Andrew Bogut got into a heated discussion on what would have undoubtedly been about politics or religion. I’ll let you decide.

Saturday November 2nd.

Saturday’s eight games provided some memorable upsets and plenty of highlights.

The Thunder were beaten fairly comprehensively by Minnesota with Love and Rubio running riot. Love had 24 points on 7 of 12 shooting with 12 boards, Rubio added 14 points, 10 assists and 5 steals as the Wolves got the big 100-81 win.

The Bobcats got a win over the Cavs 90-84 with Kemba Walker top scoring with 23 points including a late three to seal the deal.

The Orlando Magic registered their first win of the season against the New Orleans Pelicans, 110-90, thanks in part to a 30 point game from Aaron Afflalo. Rookie Victor Oladipo looked good at times in the game and showed just why many have him pegged as a future star. The Pelicans start the season 0-2 for the first time since 2004-05.

The Philadelphia 76ers improved to 2-0 for the season with a 109-102 win over the Washington Wizards and despite a big start from John Wall who hit his first seven shots of the game only to go 3 for 12 afterwards, the Sixers came away with the victory. They were led by Thad Young who scored 29 points on 14 of 20 shooting and grabbed 8 boards. It seems Philly aren’t here for the tanking.

The Atlanta Hawks beat the Toronto Raptors 102-95 thanks to some solid play from big man Al Horford, 22 points, 9 of 14 shooting and 16 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan was good for Toronto in the loss scoring 31 points and Rudy Gay had a particularly tough day at the office shooting just 6 of 23.

The Milwaukee Bucks had an impressive comeback to beat the Boston Celtics 105-98. Boston had a 22 point lead at one point but the Bucks, led by the play of big man Zaza Pachulia, who top scored with 20 points, clawed back and took the win. The Bucks bench combined for an impressive 66 points.

The Rockets are a love/hate thing for me, I love Harden but hate Dwight Howard. Harden was phenomenal for the Rockets with his 34 points on 11 of 17 shooting in their 113-105 win over the Mavericks in Houston. Dwight was all over the glass with 16 boards but still shoots free throws like an eight year old child, 5 of 12 for the game.

Memphis had a very quiet off season, no major roster changes and their start to the season hasn’t been given much coverage from the bigger NBA authorities like ESPN but they continue to play solid basketball. They managed a 111-108 win over the Detroit Pistons in overtime at the Fed Ex Forum in Memphis. Mike Conley led all scorers with 22 points on 7 of 12 shooting and Josh Smith was all over the box score for Detroit despite the loss with 19 points, 8 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks but shot poorly at 7 for 23 from the field.

The Brooklyn Nets handed the Miami Heat a narrow 101-100 loss and its the first time the Heat have lost two in a row since January. One of LeBron’s greatest adversaries and new Brooklyn Net, Paul Pierce, wound the clock back with his performance scoring 19 points on 5 of 10 shooting, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and one big blocked shot on LeBron.

James scored 26 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in the loss.

The Portland Trailblazers made easy work of the Denver Nuggets 113-98 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Nicholas Batum had the hot hand in the first half scoring all of his 21 points before the break. He shot of 8 of 14 from the field and nailed 5 threes in his rampaging first half. LaMarcus Aldridge top scored with 25. Only two Nuggets players scored more than 11 points for the game.

A late three pointer from Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe gave them an 87-84 win over the Utah Jazz at the U.S Airways Centre in Phoenix. In a game where neither team shot the ball well, (below 38%) Miles Plumlee managed to score 13 points on 6 of 11 shooting with 13 rebounds. Enes Kanter top scored for Utah with 20 points.

Chris Paul continued his hot form for the Clippers as they beat the Sacramento Kings on the road 110-101. Paul scored 26 points and added 10 assists. Blake Griffin scored 20 grabbed 17 rebounds and dished out 6 assists in the win. Yes there were alley oops but no I wont call it that name. Isaiah Thomas was spectacular for the home team in the loss, scoring 29 points on 9 of 13 shooting from the field, his dribble penetration getting him to the line often where he went 8 for 10.

The Laker banners were visible for their clash with San Antonio Spurs at the Staples Center but even a Tim Duncan-less Spurs were too much for the Lakers. Tony Parker led the charge for San Antonio scoring 24 points and dishing out 6 dimes. Only three players scored in double figures for the Lakers in the loss. We shall soon see who the true Laker fans are.

Sunday November 3rd.

Sunday started off with the Philadelphia 76ers hosting the Chicago Bulls and it was to be another upset victory for Philadelphia. They won the game 107-104 and were once again led by first week rookie sensation Michael Carter-Williams. MCW or the hyphen as I’ve heard him called this week scored 26 points, had 10 assists and showed that he will be a tough ask to defend for so many point guards in the league because of his length. Derrick Rose struggled for the third straight gme and Carlos Boozer was Chicago’s best with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Amnesty who?

The Indiana Pacers were too much for the Cleveland Cavaliers winning 89-74. The Pacers Lance Stephenson top scored for them with 22 points and Paul George was Paul George, great again, with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Cleveland really struggled shooting the ball at 34.9% from the field. You can credit the Pacers D for that statistic.

The New Orleans Pelicans won their first game of the season beating the still disastrously bad Charlotte Bobcats 105-84. Fantasy owners of Anthony Davis were celebrating as his name was splashed all across the box scores. He had 25 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 steals and 6 blocks. I don’t know what’s more scary, the fact that Davis will only get better or that the Bobcats only had two players score double figures in the game.

Dallas looked impressive in their 111-99 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Shawn Marion played like it was 2005 again, scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds but it was Dirk Nowitzki who impressed most with his 24 points on 7 of 16 shooting with 3 three pointers. The Grizzlies had eight players score 7 or less points and their bench didn’t contribute much at all in the game.

The Toronto Raptors managed to score a valuable road win over the Milwaukee Bucks 97-90. The Raptors didn’t shoot the ball particularly well but they did manage to out rebound the Bucks 60-38, Rudy Gay was a major factor in this as he grabbed 15 boards to go along with 18 points. The Bucks O.J Mayo played well in the loss scoring 16 points, grabbing 6 rebounds and 8 assists.

The Utah Jazz really took it to the Houston Rockets in the first half of today’s 104-93 loss but the Rockets class shone through in the end. Houston only used eight players in the win. Parsons Harden and Lin all scored more than 20 points whilst Howard added 15. The Rockets take their record to 3-0 and are looking like the real deal.

The Portland Trailblazers were too good for the San Antonio Spurs winning 115-105. Nicholas Batum had a triple double with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists whilst Damian Lillard scored 25 with 7 rebounds and 7 assists in the win. Portland shot the lights out at 55.6% from the field, 40% from behind the arc and 89.5% from the line for the game. Entertaining!

The final game of the day was a victory for the Golden State Warriors over the Sacramento Kings 98-87. The Kings gave the Warriors little trouble all throughout the game. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson scored 22 and 27 respectively and Aussie big man Andrew Bogut got under DeMarcus Cousins’ skin at times and Cousins finished with a paltry 8 points. After the game he refused to speak with the media following. Not sure how many times we need to talk about giving him more time to mature. The time is now for DMC as hes more than talented enough to dominate this league but let’s himself and teammates down all too often.

So with the first week of the NBA done and dusted, I feel as if I’ve begun to feed the addiction once again and look forward to another week of the greatest sporting league in the world. Enjoy your Monday. 



Steph Curry

Five overrated teams for NBA season 2013/14

Golden State Warriors
There’s nothing quite like a fairytale playoff run to unrealistically heighten expectations for the following season.

I love watching the Warriors play, especially Steph Curry when he’s on fire and hitting shots from 35 feet off the dribble. I also have no doubt the Warriors will makes the playoffs again this season. But a legitimate championship contender? Hhhmm.

I think the Dubs might miss Jarrett Jack a lot more than people think. Curry is a great shooter, and can get to the paint at times, but his slender frame means he’s not built for consistent penetration. Jack provided that, especially in the fourth quarter of games.

Andre Iguodala isn’t bad with the ball in his hands, but I look at this team, and they’re certainly going to have to move the ball around – and have bodies in motion – in order to get cheap baskets, because there are not a lot of elite level creators on the roster. Iggy might have to be relied upon to create a lot of offense for this team. Which is fine, he’s more than capable of doing it. But I get a feeling the loss of Jack (and Carl Landry) will take some adjusting to.

Throw in the lack of defense by key players – Curry and David Lee – and is this team really likely to be holding the Larry O’Brien trophy at season’s end? I really struggle to see it.

Cleveland Cavaliers
There has been a lot of buzz in the off-season surrounding the Cavs. Though I understand any excitement surrounding Kyrie Irving, I’d be nervous making any overly positive projections for this Cleveland roster.

Don’t get me wrong, there is some nice young talent on the team, with Tristan Thompson and Dion Walters joined by first overall draft pick Anthony Bennett. Combine them with the veteran leadership of Jarrett Jack and the hustle of Anderson Varejao – not to mention the All Star level play of Irving – and you’ve got the bones of a nice lineup.

However, any team that needs to rely heavily on the flaky Andrew Bynum deserves serious question marks about their potential. Even if Bynum returns 100% physically healthy, I fear he’ll never be 100% mentally healthy.

This team doesn’t deserve some of the lofty predictions I’ve heard touted, and it would shock me little if they only won 30 odd games.

Los Angeles Clippers
This team is either wildly overrated, or I wildly underrate the influence coach Doc Rivers will have upon the team.

Yet as much as I respect Rivers, is he really going to help the frontcourt’s free throw shooting, especially in the fourth quarter? Is he really going to improve the team’s low post play? Can he improve the perception around the league that this team can be bullied around?

I’m not so sure.

The Clips added Jared Dudley, Antawn Jamison, Byron Mullens and JJ Reddick to their roster for the season. Absolutely fantastic recruiting, especially if the team’s biggest concern was outside shooting. Yet I’m not convinced it was.

If the Clippers had pulled the trigger on the trade to bring in Kevin Garnett, I would legitimately consider them a championship threat, because he would have addressed their biggest weaknesses. But at present, I see this roster crushing teams all regular season, before getting crushed themselves once the real basketball starts in the playoffs.

Houston Rockets
I fear this is the prediction that will come back to haunt me the most.

Last season, the Rockets were a young and exciting 8th seed in the Western Conference, and won 45 games. In the off-season, they added arguably the best centre in the game, and a player whom – when 100% healthy – is a top 5 talent in the league. All without losing anyone significant from their roster.

So how could I possible think they’re overrated?

Primarily because I’m consistently nervous about Dwight Howard. I have a nagging feeling that he is the epitome of ‘fools good’; a player that gives every impression that he’s a superstar, and yet when you scratch beneath the surface a little bit, he’s found to be lacking true superstar credentials.

He throws his coaches under the bus, he’s a poor free throw shooter, he’s unprofessional, he whinges when things go wrong, he’s unaccountable, he’s unreliable, he doesn’t appear to like pressure, he worries what people think of him, he jokes around too much, and he hasn’t really improved as a player since his rookie year.

Not exactly a player a championship contender should be built around.

Here’s the catch though – the Rockets aren’t really built around Howard. Well, not on offense anyway. On that end of the floor, everything runs through James Harden, who, if he isn’t already a superstar, is on the cusp of being one.

If everything clicks, you could easily envisage the Rockets in the NBA Finals. Yet, it wouldn’t shock me if this team fails to gel, Howard causes issues, and they disappointingly limp into the lower bracket of the Western Conference Playoffs.

Philadelphia 76ers
Some pundits are predicting the Sixers will win double-digit games.

Against who? They’ll only play Phoenix twice, won’t they?!

I bow to no one in my praise and admiration for coach Brett Brown and his basketball IQ, but seriously, look at that roster and tell me how anyone could think this team will get ten or more wins.

I sincerely hope Andrew Wiggins is all he’s cracked up to be, because this team has the potential to be historically lousy, and is aiming to be just that. For Sixers fans, I hope the pain of tanking the season is rewarded with winning next year’s draft. Double digit wins for the Sixers? I think that’s overrating them.



Hey-there-Andrew.-Image-via-@JordanRaanan

Ten Things I Love/Hate About You

Hey-there-Andrew.-Image-via-@JordanRaanan

The NBA season isn’t too far away now and there’s a lot to look forward to in season 2013/14 but I thought I’d share ten things that are on my mind as we impatiently wait for the season to begin

10. Pre-season.

It’s better than no NBA basketball at all and it’s the pre-cursor to the real thing. Enough said.

9. The Cleveland Cavaliers.

What can I say about this youthful and talented squad? There’s Uncle Drew with those crazy handles, Andrew Bynum with that crazy, well everything, not to mention the hair watch we’re all constantly on. Then you have the explosive and exciting number one pick Anthony Bennett, who should give us Larry Johnson style highlights on the offensive end and be a disaster defensively. If Head Coach Mike Brown can get this roster to gel, they will be a highly entertaining team to watch, if not, there’s always Bynum’s hair to keep us all entertained.

8. Michael Beasley and Greg Oden.

You’ve got LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, etc, etc but what you now have to add to that locker room is a walking frame and a bong. Talk about two guys on their last legs! Oden is a guy I’ve always wanted to see come back from those knee injuries but now he’s on the Heat I’m not sure I feel as strongly about him overcoming those setbacks. Michael Beasley is one lucky cat. He’s also on his ninth life and if he doesn’t get his act to together then I don’t see any more chances coming his way, but then again, like Oden, I don’t want to see Miami gain another valuable piece to their team. Anyone got Beasley’s dealers number?

7. Lakers Losing It.

Now I know I’ll cop some grief for this one, especially considering I converse all too often with many Laker fans, not to mention my fellow NBA Nation Australia writers, but it has to be said that things don’t look too promising in Laker land this year and I for one won’t be losing any sleep over it. Kobe is on his way back from a serious injury at 4000 years old, Steve Nash is 5000 years old and Pau Gasol is just too nice to be a big man in the NBA. Whatever happened to that nice fellow Dwight? Sounds like a sub .500 year for the second best team in L.A. Yes I just called the Clippers the best team in L.A and it feels so wrong, yet so right.

6. Tank For Wiggins?

Things could get really ugly this year between the cellar dwellers. Next year’s draft is off the charts and there’s no shortage of teams willing to tank for Wiggins. I mean seriously, the mighty and proud Boston Celtics blew up their team to have a chance at getting that elusive number one pick next year so you know tanking is the new winning in 2013/14. I fear for my mental health when I switch on League Pass whilst nursing a hangover on a Sunday morning only to see the 76ers playing the Bobcats. Also, MJ, what the hell were you thinking with Cody Zeller!?

5. New Orleans Pelicans.

Of all the names you could choose for a sporting team, the Pelicans is the best you could come up with? Whoever is responsible for this atrocity should be forced to watch Austin Rivers rookie season over and over again. I’m sorry but I’ll never be able to take this team seriously now, actually, come to think of it, I don’t think I ever did beforehand! Move on.

4. Sun Shines In the Golden State.

One team I thoroughly enjoyed watching in last year’s playoffs were the Golden State Warriors. Those huge games from the sharp shooting Steph Curry were ones to remember and although they failed to beat the Spurs in the Western Conference semi-finals they showed they’re not a team you want to take lightly. They have made some solid off-season moves and providing Curry’s glass ankles stay healthy and Bogut can avoid whatever freak injury may occur then the Warriors will be a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Can the sun shine on the golden state?

3. Bring Back Wilt!

It’s about time we seen a scoring champ who averages over 30 points per game this season. KD, Melo, are you there? Shit, I don’t care if it’s Kobe and he shoots .400 to do it, actually I would take great pleasure in witnessing this; see number 7 on this list. I just think the scoring title isn’t the same when the winner averages a mere 28.7ppg. Bring back Wilt!

2. The NBA Finals.

The NBA Finals! What more do I need to say? I’m no fan of the Miami Heat or the San Antonio Spurs but watching that Finals series last season was unbelievably great. The spectacle, fanfare and meaning that comes with each and every game is what keeps me coming back every year to see it all play out. One thing though, hoop gods, can we not have the Heat again this season? Sincerely, Bulls fan Dan

1.The Return.

Ok, so it’s a little later than first anticipated but it’s no less exciting. The prodigal son returns, Chicago’s very own, D Rose, rises from his injury exile to take the league by storm destroying everyone in his path! Ok, so I’m going with the best case scenario here but after almost 18 months it’s my god damn right to be so optimistic! Bring on the season!