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Hornets Nest

I spent a few days tossing ideas around and even had a couple of hundred words written before I decided to scrap what I was going and go down a different path.

So without further ado, here is my weekly feature.

Huge thanks to one of my favourite pot stirrers Dave Jefferess for the inspiration.

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What happens when you kick a Hornets nest?

One thing you can bank on is a whole bunch of pissed off Hornets coming out swarming and more than likely biting every square inch of your body.

Has anyone actually kicked the Hornets nest?

No, no they haven’t.

But are we all giving them a slight kick in the privates with every conversation that takes place about the Eastern Conference contenders and leaving them out?

I’ll put my two cents worth down right now; I don’t see them as a legitimate contender.

Does that mean that they aren’t worthy of being mentioned?

Of course not, they have earned that right.

After a heck of a run last season that saw them secure only their second playoff berth in the last 35 years, things are beginning to look up in Charlotte.

It’s even better now that they have shed themselves of, without doubt, the worst franchise name in NBA history and gone back to being the Hornets.

Seriously who thought that it was a good idea to name a team the Bobcats?

Let’s find that individual and lock them in a padded cell until they come to grips with what they did.

In last seasons playoffs no team wanted to come up against the formidable Eastern Conference powerhouse, Miami Heat.

The Bobcats – cringe every time I have to type that – fancied themselves against the Heat and surprisingly I was on their side. If it wasn’t for an unbelievably unlucky injury to Big Al, who knows what may have happened.

Side note, whenever I hear the nickname Big Al this is all that I can picture

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Let’s move past that.

Kemba Walker automatically get’s a mention in my list of favourite players, why? Click here.

Sorry, but I just watched that video for the 400 Millionth Time.

He was on another level during his time at UConn and it was near on impossible to not get caught up in the Kema whirlwind.

Add to the two aforementioned players the fact that they somehow managed to day light rob the Pacers of Lance Stephenson (I cannot figure out how this happened still).

When you think of those three players (two stellar ball handling guards + a dazzling low post big man) and the bevvy of young stars they have on their roster (Cody Zeller, MKG, Vonleh) the sky is the limit.

The big question posed by Dave though however was, how will they go?

Once LeBron left Miami we all knew that the Eastern Conference was about to become a more even spread, and sadly when Paul George went down with his horrific leg injury it became a very open race.

The Cavs then decided to nab Kevin Love and lets not forget that the Bulls may have assembled one of the best rosters they have had in previous years.

Charlotte last season finished with a very solid 43-39 regular season record and my tip is they will go around better come next season.

I’m not willing to go all out and say they will increase this number by a drastic amount but I can easily see them finishing with a more than respectable 47-35 record.

This in my eyes should land them within the range of 4th to 6th in the East.

The true beauty within this Hornets squad though is that I cannot see a drop off coming within the years to come. Not only will they become accustom to the taste of NBA Playoffs but they may even cause some drastic upsets during this time.

It’s going to be an incredible journey and one that has been a long time coming, now that it’s here don’t bet on the Hornets going away peacefully.

 

Once a hornet gets a taste of blood they will not want anything else.

@jLmcKern



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Finals Cooking – @jLmcKern

Boof is here with another cracking write up! Fresh off the back of our joint venture with the Hoops Podcast, the boys will be contributing articles for the site as well so keep an eye out for more great content

NBA teams are like recipes from a cookbook, the good ones are simple and subtle yet have plenty of flavor whereas the bad ones can be confusing and taste like something that expired weeks earlier.

We are down to the point in the season were the remaining teams need every little piece of the recipe to come together and perfect that ideal meal.

In the Western Conference right now it looks like a complete mismatch, it’s a cook off going on between Heston Blumenthal and a burger flipper at your local McDonalds.

The Spurs have long been the Masterchefs of perfecting a rotation and having all of the key ingredients play their part without overpowering the entirety of the meal.

This showcase has somehow, beyond the realms of possibility, gone to another level this postseason. At times you feel sorry for the team on the other side of the court but as a fan you are left sitting in your chair watching on with your jaw to the floor.

Yes the Thunder have been weakened by injuries, losing Ibaka is like making a shepherds pie without the base. They have lost their foundation and without it they have simply fallen apart and look like a complete mess.

Now they face their biggest challenge yet, yes bigger than the NBA Finals from two years ago, they find themselves in a 0-2 hole and have the advantage of being at home, they will not won’t to disappoint their home audience.

In order to showcase their abilities and get this meal back on course to being a winner, they need the rest of their ingredients to evolve into pieces they are not used to being. The big men have to stand up and take the burden on and prove that they are not simple burger flippers but master class workers.

In the Eastern Conference you find a complete different story, it’s a battle of two 3 Michelin Star teams. Something that even right before the Playoffs began seemed like mission impossible as the big teams were all falling into the post season.

As we prepare ourselves for an epic game three battle, we dissect the two courses we have already devoured and dined on. The beauty of having such a spotlight on these games is that when somebody isn’t delivering as they normally would you can notice the ripple effect on the rest of the team.

Picture one of your favorite meals and the herbs and spices that may go into it, now remove one of them and the difference is monumental.

Both the Pacers and the Heat are missing ingredients from the first two games and whichever team can find the salt shaker or locate a different herb from their cupboard to replace the original will go a major way in deciding who wins the battle.

In Game 1 the Heat severely missed one of their key ingredients in Chris Bosh, the big man went an awful 4-12 from the field and a shattering 0-5 from deep. He ended the game with a +/- of -16 and the Heat showed that without his input and impact they are not what we expect. Let’s not get carried away, his second game wasn’t a thing of beauty but he showed a lot more effort and ended with a (-4) however the Heat won.

Game 2 for the Pacers wasn’t a complete disaster however there is evidence that the kitchen wasn’t far away from burning down. Paul George was the only starter who had major struggles from the starting group but the root of the problems lay beyond the main foundations, the bench was a complete shambles.

They (Mahinmi, Watson, Scola & Butler) combined for a total of 9 points, 5 rebounds and 1 assist.

Most chefs will tell you that the best pieces of any meal consist of the hidden parts that nobody gives attention to; in basketball this is your bench. The players who hardly ever garner attention but make as much of an impact as the key players, if the Pacers bench can’t contribute to the recipe the Pacers team along with the fans will be left with a sour taste as they rue yet another lost season.

Which team will work their magic with the cookbook they possess and produce the better tasting dish?

James McKern



NBA’s Greatest Rivalries: The Finale

Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the last part in the trilogy that is the NBA’s Greatest Rivalries. We’ve hit some ones so far but in reality there are still some big dogs to go through yet. Enjoy. (more…)



Shake and Bake: The Best Duos of the NBA

While these dynamic duos may not be NASCAR superstars and they probably don’t discuss the pros and cons of a bearded baby Jesus, what they do is give their teams the best opportunity to win and entertain millions of fans along the way. I don’t know how many countless hours I’ve spent watching YouTube highlights of these duos doing work. Below I will discuss my personal favourite NBA duos. Taken into consideration are various factors like wins, what they did for their respective teams, entertainment factor, how each individual developed in the partnership and whether or not I’ve actually seen them play. Take a look and see what you think. (more…)



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NBA Nation Australia’s Season Previews: Part 4

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS:

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Ah yes, LA’s ‘Other’ team. The perennial losers of the battle of LA and the Pacific Division, and little brother to the Lakers. Until now… The Clippers are primed and ready to take the division, conference and perhaps even the title in 2013/14. They were given a hand up when the league vetoed the Lakers deal for Chris Paul, and they were able to sign him off the back and since then have not looked back. Creating a deep, offensively charged roster of young guns (and a few vets) to lead them to the next era of Clipper basketball, there’s no telling exactly where this team will wind up at the culmination of this season. My guess? It’ll be right up there. As a Laker fan myself, it’s strange seeing the roles reversed, and the Clippers being the team to beat in LA and I have my own beef with them, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a team that is going to contend. Not only did the team re-sign CP3 to a multi year deal, the Clips also resigned Matt Barnes and made moves for JJ Redick, Darren Collison, Jared Dudley, Byron Mullens and Antawn Jamison to round out their stacked roster. It’s unknown what will happen with Lamar Odom in light of recent events, but it’s a possibility he returns as well. Their core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford should gel nicely with this group and the Clippers will continue their dominant form and continue to be the team to beat in LA, and along the West Coast. Can they beat OKC, and eventually Miami or Indiana to win a title further down the track? It’s a tough ask for mine, but they’ll be right there at the end nonetheless.

Players In:

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JJ Reddick, Jared Dudley, Darren Collison, Byron Mullens, Antawn Jamison

Players Out:

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Caron Butler, Ronnie Turiaf, Chauncey Billups

Prediction: 4th in the West

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

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Who the hell knows what’s going to happen with this team. The Lakers just lost someone they wanted to keep for the first time in their history, and they’re hurting after a tumultuous season of indecision, bad chemistry, coaching troubles, communication breakdowns, locker room drama and on court struggles. But, as is the normality in Laker land, it wouldn’t be the same without all the drama and the Lakers will get back up, but whether or not it’s this season remains to be seen. They’ve made some great signings considering their struggles financially, and as they’ve only been able to offer potential signees veterans minimums, they’ve done surprisingly well. There is no money to spend right now, but the Lakers still have a solid core, with good role players and, if they remain healthy, should be able to compete this year. A huge amount of their success rests on their wounded warrior Kobe Bryant, and if he’ll be able to make it back in time and at full speed. Should he return to be the dominant player he always was then it’s massive for the Lakers. Pau Gasol will likely head back to his natural spot at the 5, with new recruit Chris Kaman able to double the power forward position if need be. They also have Jordan Hill coming back, who Mike D’Antoni is already talking about using as a stretch 4. They lack depth at the 3, and amnestying Metta World Peace only worsened that situation. Nick Young, while a natural shooting guard, can play the three so it’s possible that once Bryant returns, Young will occupy some time down low. The Lakers are stronger in the back court than they were in recent years with Bryant, Nash, Meeks, Young, Blake and the returning Jordan Farmar all providing plenty of fire power. It won’t be a season to remember for LA, and all eyes are on free agency in 2014 where they’re expected to make a big splash, but it won’t be a complete disappointment either.

Players In:

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Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar, Nick Young, Wes Johnson, Shawne Williams

Players Out:

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Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark, Chris Duhon, Devin Ebanks, Andrew Goudelock, Darius Morris

Prediction: 8th in the West

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES:

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It should be an interesting season for the Grizzlies, who didn’t make a huge splash over the summer in terms of signings or trades, but they did retain a solid core of players who will continue to gel together as they tackle season 2013/14. The re-signing of Tony Allen to continue to play a versatile role in the back court alongside Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless coupled with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol down low rounds out their core, and should give a lot of teams a pretty severe headache. They also have some good depth with Quincey Pondexter and Tayshaun Prince able to occupy the 3, and new recruit Kosta Koufos relieving Gasol at the 5. They gain plenty from solid perimeter defender and sharp shooter Mike Miller who will help improve their relatively lackluster outside scoring after returning from Miami. The Grizzlies have copped some criticism for not making any big moves, but considering their position they’ve done everything that was available to them and they’ve gotten marginally better without doing very much. Watch them grind out big defensive games and scrape their way to the upper echelons of the standings in the new season!

Players In:

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Mike Miller, Kosta Koufos, Josh Akognon, Nick Calathes, Jamaal Franklin

Players Out:

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Darrell Arthur, Austin Daye, Keyon Dooling

Prediction: 5th in the West

MIAMI HEAT

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Will the Heat and LeBron three-peat? Plenty are saying yes, and that they’re still the team to beat in the NBA and for the most part, that’s exactly right. The East has been completely dominated by LeBron James the last two years and while all credit is due to King James, the conference as a whole has been underwhelming with some usually hard to beat teams falling by the wayside. LeBron, by right, has owned the East and until now there has been very little competition. But with the Pacers rising, and the return of Derrick Rose amongst other things, the East is now tougher than it’s been for some time and the Heat won’t have the easy ride to the finals that they’ve enjoyed recently. All credit to them, they’ve been by far the best team in the league for two years, but now there are challengers and it’s not going to be easy. An aging Dwyane Wade will need to step up this year as last season wasn’t his strongest offensively and was (aside from some select incredible Wade moments) largely carried by his team. Add Chris Bosh into that little sentiment as well, but with the addition of Greg Oden he should get some help presuming he stays healthy. The signing if Chris Andersen is huge for Miami as his defensive effort last season was second to none and he came through when needed right to the end. His form in the new season as a role player will be paramount to the Heat’s success. Of course, LeBron will need to continue to perform and will likely need another MVP season if they Heat are going to three-peat. At the culmination of this season, the East will be more than a one horse race, and Miami are going to have to be a step ahead if they want to win it.

Players In:

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Greg Oden

Players Out:

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Mike Miller

Prediction: 2nd in the East (Indiana 1st)



LeBron James Ridiculous Block on Tiago Splitter (Video)

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Despite a less-than-brilliant performance from LeBron James, the Miami Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs easily in Game 2 103-84 today at home. Few highlights from the Heat surpass this incredible block by LeBron on Splitter’s dunk attempt in the fourth quarter. All Hail King James!

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2013 Finals Game 1 Recap – Dan Attias

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There isn’t a bigger stage in the hoops world than the NBA Finals and today was definitely no exception. The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs put on a game to remember as the Spurs took the win away from home in a thriller to lead the series 1-0.

The game started well for the Spurs with a 9-2 run but the Heat responded with a 7-0 run of their own. Chris Bosh was shooting the ball well early as Duncan struggled to score but had 5 rebounds and 3 assists in the first. The Heat shot the ball better at 52.9% from the field compared with San Antonio’s 42.9% and the Heat took a 24-23 lead into the break.

The second quarter was another see-sawing affair. The Spurs defensive rotations weren’t up to scratch early as Ray Allen hit a three to start the quarter and Mike Miller and Norris Cole followed up with three pointers of their own soon after, which took Miami to 6 -11 from the 3 point line. The Spurs offense was patient relying on ball movement but the Heat were in the driver’s seat early in the period.

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Celtics “Not Impressed” By Miami Heat Win-Streak

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It would seem most people around the League, be it fans, media, even fellow opposition would be impressed by a 20 game win streak.

Well….. not the Boston Celtics.

Chris Forsberg posted a piece on ESPN today where he spoke to Jason Terry about the Heats mammoth win-streak.

Here’s what Terry had to say about it…

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NBA unveils Christmas Day Uniforms.

Basketball for all this Christmas

The NBA today unveiled the uniforms teams will be wearing on Christmas Day this year.

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NBA Nation Australia’s Roundtable

Our NBA Nation Australia Roundtable Knights are:

Nick Caro: @NickoToGo

Sam Monaghan: @Mono85

Nick Russell: @NickARuss

Nick How: @Nick_A_How

This week’s Roundtable we tackle areas such as the Olympics, the Dwight Howard trade and our early predictions for season 2012!

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