Awww yeah it's almost that time! The NBA officially released its schedule yesterday and I was extremely surprised the Knicks had so many nationally televised games. I believe more than the reigning champs themselves! They are back on Xmas Day and going up against the predicted 2 seed in the east, Boston. The game I'm looking forward to the most is MLK Day. It's back at 1pm. I usually turn this into my own personal Knick holiday. The road to 82-0 starts on Oct 25!
I would be a lot more pumped if this was 2011, but it's not. This looks like it'll be a rent a player so I'm not too upset about it. Lopez was solid so sad to see him go, but he wasn't going to lead this team any where.
Expect to see Dwight Howard in a Knicks uniform next year. This is almost guaranteed. I'd prefer Horford, but I'm looking at Knicks history and what better way to finish an off season than by getting two past their prime players in traditional Knick fashion. Has Penny, Tmac, Steve Francis, Mcdyess, Marbury etc etc written all over it. Go Knicks!
This doesn't come as much of a surprise to anyone who's a Knick fan. I for one am pleased to see Afflalo go. This opens up $30 million in cap space for the knicks so let's see where they will go.
It'd be nice if they could keep D-Will and Lance Thomas as they would make a formidable bench on any team. Just ask the Cavs who rolled out shmucks like RJ and Shump for a title. Strong wings off the bench is a necessity in this league. Hoping D-Will will only command 7 or 8 million, but my gut is telling me he is West Coast bound.
Knicks will make a push for a 2 or a 3 over a PG this summer as the talent pool is greater. Expect to see even Wade's name pop up, Bazemore, Batum, Crabbe, Fournier, Lin, Waiters, Marvin Williams, Teletovic. These are all better options than Afflalo and worth about $10+ mil depending on who. If Knicks can pluck say Fournier for $10 give D-Will and Lance Thomas about $12mil combined they might be able to find a stop gap at PG like Brandon Jennings for the remainder or a solid backup big (telling me David Lee is not better than O'Quinn or Seraphin?). This will lead to an improvement and also leave cap room for a better crop of FA pgs the following year along with a draft pick.
This whole draft party and selling draft hats has me believing the Knicks have something up their sleeves. But it wouldn't surprise me, it is the Knicks we are talking about.
NBA Finals is the place where legends are made and legacies are cemented. LeBron James has cemented his legacy as one of the league's all time greats and in my view a top 3 player of all time who belongs on the Mount Rushmore of NBA elite. To say these Finals were one of the greatest of all time is an understatement. History was broken along with hearts, champions crowned, and previous champs sent home. Cleveland got its title even if the series was a bit tainted by the Draymond suspension which probably wouldn't have led to a game 6. But great teams need to overcome adversity and the Warriors were not up to the task.
Where do the Warriors go from here?
Crazy to think this team can get better this off season. They will have over $20 mil in cap space, but will have roster spots to fill. Don't be surprised if they make a run at Kevin Durant (I don't believe they will acquire him). But they need an upgrade at the SF position since Barnes in my view cost them the title with his horrific shooting which allowed the Cavs to sag off on D. So Barnes will def be gone, I'd almost rather see Kent Bazemore with this team or who knows maybe even JR Smith.
Where do the Cavs go from here?
LeBron will be resigned obviously and he will eat even more into their nonexistent cap space. Question is do the Cavs keep JR? Right now they need him. He opens the court and he has finally matured it appears. But they won't be able to give him the 10 to 15 mil a year I feel he will receive and deserves from other teams. Even without JR they are still the best in the East.
Where does the league go??
The East is still weak and after the Cavs won they appear even the lesser of the competition. Expect some huge signings and shitty teams to shoot up. I can see Philly improving 10 to 15 games next year hopefully even the Knicks a 5 game improvement! Pistons will be a top 4 team in the east.
The West will still be top dog. Thunder need to keep KD and I can see only 4 competitors and one not being the Clippers. Expect Blazers to be better especially if they can get some good FAs.
Game 6 is amongst us! I totally skipped the boat on writing a game 5 summary since it took me a couple of days to digest. But wowwowow what a performance by Kyrie and Lebron. My prediction of Warriors in 5 goes out the window (even though I still feel if Green played it would have been a wrap). Now I really have no idea where this series is going. Are we going to see hero ball flourish like we did in game 3 and 5? Are the Splash Brothers going to combine for another 60+ like game 4? Is Draymond going to play dominant at the center position now that Bogut is sidelined?? I have no f'n idea and it will be a treat to watch. Right now my gut feeling says Warriors will come out torching the nets, but another part says the same thing about Lebron. Just can't count this guy out, and if the Cavs win tonight do the Warriors really want to see this man in a game 7? Hell no
Finally a close game in this year's NBA Finals. The Cavs played a great game for about 2 and 3/4ths of the game and got stuck in hero ball mode for the rest. What was the deciding factor was basically the 3 point shot.
17 made 3s against 6 for Cleveland
This is exactly how I thought the Warriors were going to come out. They let Steph handle the rock more and set some more screens for him up top. They also had a couple transition 3s and 3s off 50/50 balls. Harrison Barnes stood out the most, he hit some huge shots especially the 3 right after the Bron put back dunk to take the lead 84-83. Warriors maintained the lead after that.
One thing in which irritated me the most was the constant nagging from Van Gundy and Mark Jackson about the refs etc. Thanks for the level headedness of Mike Breen to keep those guys in check. The game was physical. Let them play, I thought the game was called fair as you can tell by the FT disparity(Cavs actually would have won the FT attempts if it wasn't for intentional fouls at the end). All this Bron doesn't get calls nonsense is really sickening. He has drawn more fouls than anyone I've ever seen throughout his career and gets away with a ton on the other end. The one day he shoots 4 fts it's because of the refs. Give me a break. And no that wasn't a flagrant by Green, at most a double T. Seemed like a bit of baiting at the end by Cavs players.
I got the opportunity to travel to Cleveland this weekend and attended several viewing parties and at one point caught myself pulling strongly for the Cavs. The fan base here desperately wants a title it's a shame that it appears they are just behind a dynasty in the making.
Warriors in 5
The Cavs came out the gate ready to play in game 3. An overall dominating performance by the starting lineup. Kyrie Irving really shined brightest showing everyone that Iso ball can win games(as long as your making your shots). He had some eye popping moves, crossing up multiple Warriors, pulling up from 3, and converting on drives. LeBron was LeBron, he is still showing why he's still one of the best if not the best overall player in the world. Except this time his jump shot was dropping! A welcomed sight for Cleveland fans. Tristan dominated the paint and made Bogut look like current day Andrew Bogut. And my man JR Smith was rolling, good to see him not hesitating. He's always been one of the best difficult shot makers in the league. Looked like he played his game with his patented step backs and fade away 3s.
What worked for the Cavs?
Hate to jump on the bandwagon but the fact K Love was not in the starting lineup was a breath of fresh air. Cavs defense reacted so much faster, ran more, didn't hold the ball more, and didn't have to "get Kevin involved". Seems to be the story whenever Cleveland loses. "We didn't get Kevin involved enough blah blah". They just looked like a free wheeling team. Now just imagine all the talk if this continues to work. People might beg for a redo on that Wiggins trade.
Guarding Draymond- I've always been a proponent of "if you guard Draymond you will cut off the head of the snake". Putting Bron on him and Klay made the world of difference as RJ was able to switch with either one a lot better than Love.
How do the Warriors get the Splash Brothers rolling?
At one point it looked like Klay was going to catch some Thunder game 6 magic. He played better but not good enough. Steph looks to be lacking confidence and a lot of that is attributed to Cavs defense. One thing they need to do more is actually let Steph play point guard. The PG by committee did not seem to work this game as they were attached to Steph by the hip and he couldn't find any openings off screens. I'd love to see them run some high picks as Steph runs the offense instead of playing a Reggie Miller type roll. He is the best shooter off the dribble after all. Let's see if Kerr will have him run the show more. As for Klay he just needs to keep shooting and being aggressive. He was 0-5 from the field and 0-4 from 3 in that 1st quarter. These will eventually drop as we have seen from him.
Warriors in 5
The Cavs hung on tight in the 1st half, but everyone knew this one was going to blow open sooner or later.
For some odd reason they explored leaving Draymond wiiiide open once again. I get it, he's not a great shooter, but you need to at least have some sort of defensive rotation. He straight up murked them. And he's also the lead facilitator on this team, the offense seems to flow it's best when he's moving and passing so freely.
There isn't much to explore here since it was such a blowout I could rant on for a good 30 minutes. But some observations!
Kyrie Irving/Love: I'd look to have either one come off the bench. They provide nothing and are playing trash defense. Kyrie is shooting 4 for 27 on Iso plays. Bench him now Lue! Start Delly in place of Irving or RJ instead of Love and have the offense run thru Bron and just GTFO his way. Irving should be able to keep up with Barbosa.... Hopefully
Shump/JR: Shump how is this guy getting paid $10mil a year?? And JR he played better, it's not his fault for the way things are going. Expectations were way to high on this guy.
Bogut: He brought it today. Great performance and set the defensive tone
Notes from the game:
Cavs went the OKC route and let Draymond Green open for most of the first half. This was a good strategy by OKC as they cut off drives and made him a 3 point shooter, but it burned Cle as he was able to drive in the lane and get some assists. He knocked down some jumpers as well.
Bench bench bench! And Barnes! What more can I say the Dubs are deep. Livingston feasted, Iggy regained Finals MVP form, the Blur looked retro, and Barnes took advantage of mismatches in the first quarter.
ISOLATION - ugh Cavs look terrible when they just do this. Too much stagnation on offense and how often did we see the Warriors double team once a player put the ball on the floor in the post.
Hope for the Cavs - 3rd quarter looked promising! They made some adjustments out the gate. Draymond was actually covered and GS ball movement slowed down because of it. They forced TOs, got 2nd chance points, and moved the ball.
Hope for Warriors - if Klay and Steph at least come close to their season averages this will be uuuugly
What I didn't like - The Cavs pointing fingers and body language. LeBron constantly pointing out mistakes by his teammates, blank return stares by Kevin Love, Frye having to explain why he didn't shoot the buzzer beater from 35 feet away, JR being JR and having a terrible game but still manages to point to his teammates for failing to rotate when he gets burned. Also Lue needs to find some time to rest Bron in the 1st half.
Warriors in 5
So the Knicks went ahead and signed their man Jeff Hornacek to be the next coach. He recently signed a 3 year $15 million contract, which was the same annual salary as Derek Fisher. In my opinion this is a positive move for the organization. I was scared whole heartedly the Zen Master would go the route of signing a triangle orientated coach such as Brian Shaw or holding onto the fan hated Kurt Rambis.
POSITIVES: Not a fundamental triangle coach, but does know the system as he played a bit under the triangle when he was with Phoenix.
THE GOOD: Phil doesn't have to run a triangle clinic for him like he just did over this spring for his players.
NEGATIVES: Triangle still being mentioned in an era where space and pace is so important.
POSITIVES: Came from a system in Phoenix that ran a lot more and used the backcourt to run his system.
THE GOOD: Knicks struggled mightily in the backcourt, however a lot of that was system based and Calderon based. I'm praying Tony Wroten and an improved Jerian Grant can provide something since I feel they will strike out in free agency when it comes to Conley. Hornacek needs to run more pick and pops with the Zinger and Melo needs to regain his 3 point touch from a couple of seasons ago. This can be a dynamic offense if the backcourt can provide a spark.
NEGATIVES: Doesn't have the personal to run a similar system as he did in Phoenix. Hornacek had Bledsoe, Thomas, and Dragic running his system. Knicks simply do not. If the Knick can produce 75% of what those guys did I'd be very content.