For around two seasons, the "Splash Brothers" have been named the best duo in the NBA. With the Finals less than one week away, the Warriors could end their drought at 40 years without a title. Like most other stars in the league, the best way to stop them is to just hope that they don't get hot from the field. All of the focus is on the brothers while supporting players like Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala lurking in the shadows staying low key to put up good numbers. The Cleveland Cavaliers will have to lock down these guys starting on the perimeter. Kyrie Irving will be the key player on defense because he will have to contain either Klay Thompson or Stephen Curry. Most likely LeBron James will guard whoever is playing the best that night. The Splash Brothers are able to get open with curling around screens and coming off of baseline picks. The other lethal aspect of them is the quick release. They can shoot from really any place on the floor which will make Cleveland come out of their comfort zone.
Another thing that Cleveland needs to do is minimize turnovers. The Warriors really get their momentum from transition points which allows open shots and lets guys like Curry to get hot from beyond the arc. The Cavs will have to have other guys step up on the offensive end because LeBron won't be able to to it by himself as we saw last year. The Warriors are one of the best defensive teams in the league. My predictions will be that the Warriors will win in game 7 to take home the title. This is going to be an awesome series that won't live up to what the 2013 finals were, but really any series that goes to seven games is seen as a good series.
Injurys is just another part of the game. Its not a matter of if, its a matter of when. Sometimes they can hurt the team more then you think. The athlete injured? Ryan Clady. He is the pro bowler who has been with the Broncos since 2008. He plays left tackle, and since Peyton Manning is right handed he covers Mannings blind side. The athlete covering the blind side is one of the most key components in a team. The Qb can see the defense coming on the right and center and can react by scrambleing or throwing the ball. He can't see the left(if he's right handed) and can get hit causing a intercepting, fumble, or worse a injured Qb. He is a two time All-pro and has been elected to four pro bowls.Last year he only allowed two sacks in 1,084 regular season snaps protects Peyton Manning's blind side. Clady tore his ACL in practice wednesday. This is going to hurt the broncos a lot. Its going to be hard replacing one of the best left tackles in the NFL. Denvers plan is to move over Chris Clark who played in cladys position in 2013 when clady was out for a foot injury.
As everyone saw last night, James Harden can't win the conference finals all by himself. The last shot was obviously going to go to Harden which the Warriors took advantage of and double teamed him to secure the 99-98 win in game 2. The Warriors have found a way to stop Harden which basically means stopping the Rockets at this point because the Rockets don't have an answer other than Harden. For the Rockets to somehow comeback from these two losses heading to Houston for game three, Dwight Howard needs to be healthy. In game 2, Dwight Howard was not 100% due to a leg injury that happened in game 1. It was only 35 minutes before tipoff that Dwight decided to play which doesn't send a good message at all. Even though Dwight put up 19 points and 17 rebounds, the stat sheet doesn't show the effort or the hustle that was missing from him last night. Andrew Bogut dominated on the defensive end coming up with huge blocks to keep Harden from scoring inside the paint as much as he usually does. A measly 14 points and 8 rebounds doesn't show him justice for what he did out there on the floor for the Warriors. The stat sheet does not show everything that happens in a game. For instance, there are players like Noah for the Bulls and Allen for the Grizzlies who are out on the floor for defense. There are also other players that possess the role of bringing a lot of energy to the floor. Stat sheet can't show other forms of contribution.
That being said, Dwight Howard is going to have to become more isolated inside the paint in game 3 if the Rockets want to somehow win a couple of games, which I don't see happening. The reason that the Rockets are not considered an elite team is because they don't have any supporting cast. Pablo Prigioni is not going to get it done coming off the bench as your number 2 point guard. They do have some awesome players that space the floor for the and let James Harden do work, but that's not how you win an NBA title.
Instant replay for the MLB has changed the game of baseball in some what of a dramatic way especially the base running part of the game. Most calls that were missed ether helped or hurt teams by ether giving them momentum or taking it away from them. Before instant replay when a call was missed it normally meant the out come of a came it meant wether you won or lost that game. Now with this instant replay it has changed it and has corrected these mistakes now when ever an umpire misses a call normally the call that helped out the other team and usually gave them momentum now takes that away because now they can go back see that they screwed up. This helps out the teams that it goes against and gives them the momentum and ether helps them win or keeps them ahead. It has also made tag plays more physical in the sense that you kinda have to tag them so incase the umpire misses the call you can't fake a tag play anymore your going to have to have proof that you did indeed tag them out. Most players back them would just swipe and make it look like they tagged them when instead came no where close to them and this is going to make the game more physical because now players are going to have to stay in front of the bags and act like a catcher on close plays. So this might lead to more injuries with these tag plays but not really since you can't take out the catcher at the plate. Which it doesn't make the game as interesting any more. But in reality instant replay has somewhat helped the game of baseball it has helped umpires fix their mistakes and lead to less ejections and less controversy.
By Nicklaus Guajardo
The Eastern Conference finals are here! The Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks will square off and see who will go to the championship. The two teams are the top two seeds in the east and both won in the second round in six games.
The Cavaliers swept the Boston Celtics in the first round and advanced to play the Bulls in the second. In the round against Boston, power forward Kevin Love dislocated his shoulder and was pronounced done for the season. Also, shooting guard J.R. Smith was suspended for the first two games against the Bulls in the second round, but Cleveland only dropped one of those to Chicago. The Cavaliers eventually beat my boy D-Rose and my Bulls in six games to advance to the conference finals. Considering they took out the team that I thought had the best chance of knocking off Golden State, the Cavs are exceeding expectations(not the ones set before the season, yet). And, we can't forget, they have the best player on the planet in LeBron James, who has been in the finals the past four years.
The Hawks are the surprise of the season. They were the eighth seed last season and without really making any big moves, they rocketed up to the one seed. They started out the season hot, winning 17 in a row in January to get to 40-8 at one point, but have since cooled down a little. They thrive off of chemistry. Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, and Al Horford are their big three, and even though none are superstars, they all play good together. I don't believe Atlanta is as good as people make them out to be. I'm actually surprised that they made it this far.
I have the Cavs taking the series in five. The Hawks just can't compete with LeBron and Kyrie. If they win this series as they should, the Cavs would be playing either the Warriors or Rockets in the finals. Go read my previous blog to find out who should win that series at www.999thewild.net/sports-blog/who-will-win-the-western-conference-finals .
-Blake McBride, MHS
It's no secret that the Rangers don't really have a good bullpen. Besides Neftali Feliz occasionally closing out the game, the Bullpen is shot. You have RHP's Tanner Scheppers, Shawn Tolleson, Roman Mendez, Keone Kela & Anthony Bass, while the LHP's include Alex Claudio (Pictured above) & Sam Freeman. We can say that injuries killed our season, but honestly, it was our bullpen. Each one of these pitchers can be broken down & that's what I'm here to do now. Let's start with the minorities of the bullpen, LHP's.
Claudio came in to the Rangers bullpen late last season & delivered a funky way of pitching. He comes down at a full submarine-type motion. He has a mid-80's sinker, low-70's changeup & a mid-70's slider. He can be an effective pitcher, but he doesn't have good command of his pitches. He may need to spend some time in the minors to figure out what is going on. There aren't many submarine pitchers that can come to the majors and make it, but if he can, it can pay off.
Freeman was originally a St.Louis Cardinal in Spring Training, but towards the later days going into Opening Day, he was traded to the Texas Rangers, a team who lacked a left-handed reliever. At the age of 27, Freeman has a high-90's fastball, a mid-80's splitter & sometimes mixes in a low-80's Slider. The guy was called up this year for Texas because we didn't want our only left-handed reliever to be a side-arm pitcher. Freeman has some upside, but also has a downside, which is his control. If he can get the walks down, he should be efficient for the bullpen.
In 2012, Scheppers made his debut for the Rangers, the team who drafted him in the 1st Rd. of the 2009 draft. He showed promise in his first full year in the bullpen in 2013, sitting at a 6-2 record with a 1.88 ERA with 59 strikeouts. Tanner has had injuries in his last few years, especially last year. He was the Opening Day starter for the 2014 season & immediately went on the DL after that start. Since then, he hasn't been efficient. I'd give a solid repertoire for him, but he primarily relies on his fastball. It can hit 97, but it's inconsistent & too basic for a hitter to see. If Scheppers wants to stay in the majors, he's gonna need to add a few more pitches to fool hitters because the heater isn't working.
Tolleson, a former Dodger back in 2012-2013, is a great setup man. He has enough pitches with a mid-90's 4-seamer, low-80's changeup & mid-80's slider. The problem is he is too typical with his location. He has currently given up 7 ER out of the bullpen this season & it's just not good for him. If he can get better location, he'll have a better spot down the line.
Mendez debuted last year in September & looked great. Mendez comes on the mound with an exploding fastball, mid-80's slider, & a mid-80's changeup. He is only 24 years-old & he tends to give the hitters every pitch he has before walking them. He has 7 walks on the year & the fastball is where it starts for him. If he could control that on top of his breaking stuff, he could be a dangerous reliever out of the bullpen.
Kela made his major league debut this year with the club & shined against Oakland. Kela comes in with a high-90's fastball, mid-80's curveball & low-90's changeup. Kela does have his command issues, with occasional long balls hit off of him. He is still young & has a lot to develop, but he should develop soon to help the club.
Bass was a savior for Texas when Holland left the home opener. He was a decent pitcher for Texas, but when he moved to straight bullpen, he struggled. He gave up walks, homers, hits, errors, etc. He has a low-90's fastball, mid-80's slider & a rare mid-90's sinker. Bass is a long man, who is lucky to be in the majors because nobody else has the stamina to last the long innings. If one develops in the minors, it could be bye-bye Bass.
-Kyuji Fujikawa was designated for assignment before Sunday's game
-Rangers called up Ross Ohlendorf from Round Rock Express
-Ross Detwiler was placed on the 15-Day Disabled List with shoulder inflammation
-Josh Hamilton expects to be activated at the beginning of the Cleveland series next Monday, but don't be surprised if he's ready for the series in New York this Friday
By James Trietley
The Western Conference finals are FINALLY (pun intended) here. The number one and number two seeds both made it and they're ready to throw down. The Warriors swept the Anthony Davis and the Pelicans in the first round and beat Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies in six to advance this far. The Rockets beat Dallas in five games in the first round, and came back from a three-one deficit in the second to eliminate CP3 and the Clippers. So, the Rockets have played two more games in the playoffs, which could work for them, but most likely hurts them. You could make the case that it's beneficial for Houston because they are staying in their rhythm, but that's not as important as the fact that they are going to have less durability and stamina.
The Warriors have one of, if not, THE best guard combos in the nation in the "Splash Brothers," Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Curry won Most Valuable Player of the NBA this season, over second-place James Harden, and earlier this season, Thompson broke the NBA record for most points in a single quarter with 37. Having these two on one team is almost unfair. They also have one of the candidates for defensive player of the year in Draymond Green and guys such as Andre Iguadola and Shaun Livingston coming off the bench.
The Rockets have runner-up for MVP, James Harden and possibly the best center in the game, Dwight Howard. Harden had a break-out season this year, having not lived up to expectations in the past. He is known for being able to shoot lights out and getting fouled a lot(although most of the time he gets "fouled," he flops... I hate floppers...). Howard was injured for most of the season, but is back now and still terrible at free throws. The Rockets also have people like Josh Smith, Jason Terry, and Kory Brewer who can help out those main two and can get the job done when need-be.
Overall, the Warriors are probably the better team and should take this series. If I had to guess, I would say they take it in six, because the Rockets are a decent team, but they aren't great. So six seems about right for that. If the Warriors do take the "dub," as their nickname suggests, the finals would be a great one. To find out who you should expect them to play, go read my next blog when it is posted on www.999thewild.net/sports-blog.
-Blake McBride, MHS
Following the sudden collapse of the Clippers, Deandre Jordan’s future is in question. It has been consistently reported that the Jordan is ‘extremely interested’ in joining the Mavericks this offseason. The uber-athletic, defensive-oriented, fun-loving big man will be a great addition to Mavs and will immensely help the team in multiple aspects. Can we actually get him though? That’s the real question. Time and time again the Mavs have sought out big name free agents like: Dwight Howard, Deron Williams (I’m glad we don’t have him now), Carmelo Anthony, etc. For some weird reason, players that want to be here in Dallas, don’t end up here. However, I think that we have a good chance of signing the ‘most athletic big man of all time’.
A report from USA Today claims that Jordan wants to leave because he no longer wants to be a third fiddle behind Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. With him on the Mavericks, he wouldn’t have to. At worst, he will be our 2nd go-to guy behind Monta Ellis (if he stays) or Chandler Parsons. He also wants a max contract and that is something that the Mavs can offer him. Plus throw in the fact that he will be playing alongside the greatest 7-foot shooter in NBA history. With Dirk floating around the perimeter or mid-range, Jordan will be free to roam the paint. Tyson Chandler is a fan favorite among Mavs fans and is often regarded as one of the greatest Mavs centers of all time. He is a great rebounder, our defensive anchor, and is athletic. Now take Tyson Chandler, make him younger, add pogo sticks for legs, and make him a rebounding cookie monster. That is Deandre Jordan. He is the better of version of Tyson Chandler. Chandler was the most important player on the Mavericks championship run not named Dirk. Deandre Jordan can put the Mavericks back into contention for the foreseeable future along with the young core of Chandler Parsons and Al-Faroq Aminu. If you as a Mavs fan read all of that and still not excited, then you are not a Mavs fan.
-Brian Nguyen LRHS
The Stanley Cup conference finals started last Saturday where for the Eastern Confrence the NY Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Lighting 2-1, taking a 1-0 lead. The Rangers lead scorer Rick Nash did not score in that game. Also the lightings lead scorer, Steven Stamkos did not score is that game. But both teams expect their top scorers to get a least 2-4 goals in this series. Meanwhile in the western conference, the Ducks take a 1-0 lead, beating the Blackhawks 4-1. The Ducks lead scorer Cory Perry had 1 assist and no goals. But he his just getting warmed up for this series. While the Blackhawks lead scorer Jonathan Toews had no goals or assists. I'm surprise the Blackhawks lost by 3 points, even with Patrick Kane back in action. But he slowed down after he came back from his injury. But out of these 4 teams, the 2 to make it in the championship round will be the Rangers and the Ducks. Both have really good offenses and have a top 5 goalies in the NHL this season. There is no doubt that these 2 teams will face each other for the Stanely Cup. But it's only the first game of the series, anything can happen.
Since June of 2010, Tom Thibodeau has been the head coach of the Chicago Bulls. Throughout his career in Chicago, he has made some outstanding accomplishments. In 2011, he tied for the most wins by a rookie head coach with 62 wins. Every year since his hiring, the Bulls have made it to the playoffs despite the injuries that Derrick Rose has suffered which has put them out of championship contention. Most will argue that Thibodeau is one of the top coaches in the league and has had trouble with players being out due to injury, but the results have shown that the saying "Defense wins championships," is not 100% true. I see Tom as the exact opposite of Mike D'antoni. Like Mike, Tom is more of a one sided coach, except instead of being biased towards offense, his coaching style revolves around defense. His resume says it all. In his past coaching jobs, he has been hired to be an assistant coach to boost the team's defense. He made improvements to the Knicks defense under Jeff Van Gundy in the 1990's, and years later hired by the Celtics to help them on the defensive end resulting in a 2008 championship.
That being said, I'd say that the Bulls made a good coaching choice at the time. Tom made there team relevant again and put them back in the playoffs. They have made some awesome off season free agent pickups that can put them into the championship. With Tom Thibodeau sitting in the head coach's seat, I don't see the Bulls getting to a championship with the Cavaliers in the way. Their roster has the players they need, but their offense isn't producing the way it's supposed to. They are one good coach away from getting the ring. I see the Bulls front office firing Tom here after the finals and hopefully hiring Mark Jackson.