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Tag: Memphis Grizzlies

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.

 

 

 

 



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Coach-of-the-year award wide, wide open

When it comes to voting for the 2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year, I wish those ‘fortunate’ enough to be asked to fill out a ballot all the very best of luck.

Always a hotly contested award, this season has an even deeper field of worthy recipients, for which I personally struggle to nominate the one eventual winner.

Though there remain roughly 20 games left to play for each team in the regular season, it’s already evident that a number of coaches will be deserving of the accolade.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich has done a remarkable job of managing his roster through injures and advanced age, and once again has the Spurs positioned as one of the best teams in the West.

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Pop’s use of his bench has once again been brilliant, and the Spurs propensity to move and share the ball is a credit to their coach. They’ll once again make the playoffs, and it would be a brave man that writes off their chances of making the Finals for the second year in a row.

At the beginning of the season, I struggled to see how the Phoenix Suns would win double figure games. They promptly achieved that feat in the opening month of the season. Egg meet face.

Ex-Suns guard Jeff Hornacek has done a wonderful job with the team, who compete every night, and despite lacking the elite-level talent of other teams, play with energy and hustle.

Though any young team should play with enthusiasm, the most surprising aspect of the Suns’ season is their intelligence. The team plays smart basketball, and full praise for that must go to their coach.

Chicago Bulls Tom Thibodeau has become a victim of his own success. It’s now simply a given that his teams will be outstanding defensively, hustle their butts off, and do their best of overcome their offensive limitations via solid teamwork. And do so in every single game.

Never mind the fact the Bulls are once again without their most talented player and only true creator, Derrick Rose. Never mind the fact that Chicago are currently third in the Eastern Conference. Never mind the fact that they are still beating the league’s best teams despite all evidence suggesting they shouldn’t be.

Image Courtesy of NBA.com

Image Courtesy of NBA.com

‘Thibs’ deserves way more recognition than he gets. The Bulls aren’t just staying afloat and competitive; they actually remain an upper echelon team. It’s an amazing achievement, which could see Thibs take home his second Coach of the Year award.

Not much was expected of the Dallas Mavericks at the start of the year, but via a resurgent Dirk Nowitzki, the surprisingly steady play of Monta Ellis, and the tactical brilliance of Rick Carlisle, the Mavs are right in the thick of the playoff hunt in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

The Mavs execute extremely well, and though the players receive the ultimate kudos, Carlisle is the mastermind behind it all.

Erik Spoelstra is criminally underrated as a coach. I can only assume he doesn’t receive the respect he deserves because people believe that any coach should have success with the stars on Miami’s roster. While there is unquestionably some truth to that sentiment, ‘success’ is subjective until you actually win the title, something Spoelstra has now done twice.

It also shouldn’t be forgotten that handling egos is a difficult but vital aspect of NBA coaching, for talent alone doesn’t guarantee championships.

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Yet even beyond the excellent man-management skills, Spoelstra has shown himself to be a great tactician. It was Spoelstra who implemented the offence which capitilises on LeBron James’ unique skill set. It was ‘Spo’ who refuses to give players traditional positions, but rather relies on a system that has constant movement and flexibility.

Miami’s smothering defense – particularly their half court press – is further proof that the Heat are a well coached side, of which Spolestra is the chief architect.

Scotty Brooks deserves credit for keeping the Oklahoma City Thunder at the top of the Western Conference standings, despite the fact he has been without the services of his second best player, Russell Westbrook, for large chunks of the season.

Brooks has made some subtle changes to OKC’s offense, however one feels that Kevin Durant will receive much of the kudos for keeping the Thunder rolling – rather than their coach – with KD’s sublime season probably having the averse effect of robbing Brooks of some votes.

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

That’s six coaches I’ve already named as potential recipients of the Coach of the Year award, yet it is far from an exhaustive list.

I could very easily be talked into Portland’s Terry Stotts, Indiana’s Frank Vogel, Los Angles’ Doc Rivers and Houston’s Kevin McHale being legitimate candidates as well.

Even the Charlotte Bobcats’ Steve Clifford has done a fantastic job reconfiguring the team around the offensive skills of Al Jefferson, and may be lucky enough to have the odd ballot with his name on it, yet I doubt he’ll actually take home the hardware.

Likewise, would anyone be really upset if Dwayne Casey’s effort in Toronto was recognised? The Warriors’ Mark Jackson? The Grizzlies’ David Joerger?

It’s a large field, and to those tasked with naming the NBA Coach of the Year, I don’t envy your job one little bit.



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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:

Memphis Grizzlies v Houston Rockets

Darrell Arthur, Austin Daye, Keyon Dooling

Prediction: 5th in the West

MIAMI HEAT

Miami_Heat_logo

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)



Denver says ‘So Long’ to Karl

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It has been reported today that NBA Coach of the Year George Karl won’t be returning to the Denver Nuggets next season.

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Aussies Patty Mills and Aron Baynes Reach NBA Finals

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Australians Patrick Mills and Aron Baynes reached the NBA Finals this afternoon as a resilient San Antonio Spurs completed a 4-0 sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies, beating them in Memphis 93-86. Spurs guard Tony Parker was instrumental in the win top scoring with 37 points to guide his team into the Finals for the first time since 2007. The Spurs will line up against the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers. Mills and Baynes, while occupying role player spots, will have to opportunity to be the first Australians to win an NBA title since Luc Longley (Bulls early 90’s) and Andrew Gaze (Spurs ’99). Both played for the Australian Boomers in the London 2012 Olympics, eventually being eliminated by the LeBron James/Kobe Bryant led United States team.

The Heat are currently in control of their Eastern Conference match up with Indiana, leading the series 2-1 with game 4 to played in Indianapolis tomorrow morning (Aus time).

The NBA Finals begin Thursday June 6th. Until then, everyone practice your towel waves.

Nick C



Married To The Game

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Some could excuse Tim Duncan for putting in some sub-par performances throughout these playoffs with his pending divorce hanging over his head. However Duncan, the consumate professional, has not let these problems get to him, even beginning to close in on Magic Johnson’s record for most double-doubles in the post season.

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Tayshaun Prince Puts The Thunder On A Poster! [Video]

Tayshaun Prince Posterizer!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KZ1Y_CX2lQ&feature=youtu.be]


Would your team trade for Rudy Gay?

Rudy Gay getting one over Paul Pierce

Rudy Gay getting one over Paul Pierce

According to Grantland’s Zach Lowe the Grizzlies are letting it be known that small forward Rudy Gay is available for trade.

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Dirk cant figure out who it is ? Can you ?

Most surprising start to the new NBA season…

Most surprising start to the new NBA season… 

Two weeks into the new season an we have already seen some teams struggle while other teams are relishing a new start. We had a quick look over each teams record and present you with 5 teams that have surprised us so far…

Dirk cant figure out who it is ? Can you ?

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NBA Nation Australia’s Preseason Previews: Part 5

Welcome to Part 5 of our season previews! Today we’ll take a look at the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat!

Enjoy!

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