Friday, May 31, 2013

Dwyane Wade Is Not Looking Familiar

2 Time Champ & Former Finals MVP D-Wade 

We are used to seeing Dwyane Wade fly through the air with the greatest of ease.  We are used to Dwyane Wade taking over games.  Basically we are used to Dwyane Wade being great. Sad thing is reality is now setting in and that Dwyane Wade we once knew might be gone for good.

By Haz Bey
D-Wade has fought injuries throughout his career.  He has taken a lot of punishment with his physical style of play.  Who can forget the Gatorade commercial with Wade hitting the ground numerous times?  Seems like all those bumps and bruises from those falls along with all those 82 game regular season games, long playoff runs and we can not forget that he is not in his twenties anymore. All of those contributing factors involved might the lead to main reason why Dwyane Wade has lost his "Mojo".  

LeBron James told reporters at his press conference after the Heat's win in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals where LeBron had a monstrous 3rd quarter by outscoring the Pacers 16-13 by himself, that "I had to go back to my Cleveland days."  James was referring to when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers and his supporting cast was not up to par, to say the least.  For LeBron to have a mentality like that means there is something seriously wrong with Dwyane Wade.  It is definitely physically, but it is affecting him mentally on the court.  Dwyane has passed up shots that he would normally take, he looks guard-able and has lost his offensive aggressiveness.  Defensively he is still playing at a high level, but his ailing knee might be the ultimate key factor that has allowed him to lose his confidence on the offensive side of the floor.  Dwyane Wade is only averaging 13.9 points per game throughout the playoffs this season.  A mere shadow of his former self.

Dwayne Wade is not healthy right now.  He is not looking familiar.  He will has to tough it out for one more series against the Spurs in the NBA Finals (I have written off the Pacers since Game 3).  After that he can relax for a whole summer and get healthy again, hopefully.  So I will stay optimistic that D-Wade can return to form, but my heart says the Dwyane Wade we used to know, is gone forever.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pacers Are Not Going Down Without A Fight

Pacers Win Game 4 99-92

By Haz Bey
I am on the record saying that the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers was over after Miami's Game 3 win in Indy, that did not mean I am rooting against the Pacers to lose this series.  I really want to see the Pacers push Miami to the limit and upset them.  Reality is that the Heat are not playing with their best effort against Pacers at all.  They take possessions off constantly, they do no respect them the way they play it through the media & I am pretty sure they are looking ahead to the playing against the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.  

The Pacers are trying their best to compete with the defending champs, but lets be real for one second.  We all seen what happened when Miami took the Pacers series seriously, they blew them out the water.  Now we have Game 5. The Pacers will be excited and anxious to get another win in Miami, but the Heat are going to play with an intensity we have yet to see them play with this post season.  The Heat are the type of team that needs to be challenged or they will not respect you, unlike the Western Champion Spurs that will treat every team they play will the same level respect regardless of that team's record and/or reputation.  Since the formation of Miami's "Big 3", the Heat has a history of making things harder for them than they actually are.

The Pacers are a true threat.  They are big, physical and play excellent defense.  Sad thing is though, they don't have a true superstar yet.  Paul George is on his way, but he's not there yet.  Dr. J said it best last night on Inside the NBA on TNT that the NBA will forever be a superstar league.  A team with a balance attack without a true superstar is at a disadvantage against a team with one or more superstars.  Miami has a "Big 3" plus 1, while the Pacers has a collective group of stars in Paul George, Roy Hibbert & David West.  When the games get tight down the stretch its the superstars that you can just throw the ball into and say get me a bucket.  Roy Hibbert because of his height advantage against Miami's bigs seems to be the closest player to becoming a go-to-guy down the stretch for Pacers than anybody else on the roster right now.

Game 5 should be interesting for the fact that we get to see both teams giving everything they got for 48 minutes and maybe more for the first time this series.  The Pacers finally have Miami's respect.  Now we have a series.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Paul George Better Take Notes

Heat Win Game 3 114-96
Haz Bey
Paul George is growing up before our eyes.  I mean this kid seems to be the next superstar in the making.  Problem is, when your in the Eastern Conference Finals against LeBron James & Dwyane Wade, your learning curve becomes much shorter and you must gain experience on the fly.  

The Pacers and Paul George had to be taught a terrible, but necessary lesson when it comes to playing on the NBA's "Big Stage".  When you have the Champ against the ropes, you have to knock him out! The Pacers did not go for the knockout.  They were comfortable in their surroundings at home and expected to get a victory last night.  Obviously that did not work and the Pacers ended up being knocked out and I just don't mean game 3, I am talking about the whole series.  This series is over.  Whether it is in 5, 6 or 7 games, Indy will not beat the Heat 3 times in 4 games.  It is not happening.

Paul George deserves the blame for game 3 solely because he did not recognize the moment that "Superstars" take matters into their own hands and take their game to the next level.  Paul George did the complete opposite in the Pacers Game 3 loss at home to the defending champion Heat.  Only coming up with 13 points total including only 4 points at halftime.  Going head -to-head with LeBron James, you flat out have to be better than that.  As encouraging as Paul George played LeBron in the first 2 games of the series, George obviously did not anticipate LeBron throwing in a wrinkle or two to make George's defensive less effective.  James brought the young boy down to the post and destroyed him.  When LeBron's post game is going like that, it is virtually impossible to beat the Heat.  If you have to double team him, there are nothing but shooters around the perimeter.  So as if getting bullied in the paint wasn't enough to deal with, Paul George was ineffective offensively.  He did not make James and Wade work on defense.  He passed up shot after shot after shot only going 3 for 10 from the field.  Yes Roy Hibbert and David West scored the basketball scoring 20 & 21 respectively, but Paul George adds a dynamic to the Pacers offense that takes them from an average offensive team to a team can almost score at will.  When Paul George is scoring it opens things up for his big boys in the post.  In game 3 the paint was crowded and Hibbert & West earned all 41 of their combined points.

Paul George did not respond well to challenge of competing with the world champs in game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.  It will cost the Pacers a chance at appearing in the NBA Finals.  When you are on the big stage, you can not take a night off from being great.  The Pacers might win another game, they could possibly win two, but the Heat has this series wrapped up.  It just a matter of how bad and how fast they want to close this series out.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Opening Night in the NBA

LeBron James the Best Player On the Planet, PERIOD.

Blog by Haz Bey
Finally the off season is over.  It's time for the players in the NBA to stop being polite and start getting real.   The Miami Heat are the defending NBA Champions and seem like they are just getting started.  The Heat will have their ring ceremony tonight and guess who they invited to watch?  Their arch nemesis, the Boston Celtics.  

The Celtics have developed a hatred for Miami for many reasons.  The Heat led by LeBron James & Dwyane Wade has bounced Boston out the playoffs for 2 straight seasons including last season's classic 7-game series in the Eastern Conference Finals.  Plus let's not forget Ray Allen basically handing out his resume after the game 7 loss and eventually signing with the Heat for less money then what the Celtics offered.  Paul Pierce has lost his brother.  Kevin Garnet has lost his brother.  Doc Rivers has lost a son.  What was "the "Big 4" with the emergence of point guard Rajon Rondo, is now reduced to a "Big 3".  The Miami Heat has stole Ray Allen away from them.  The Miami Heat are the defending champions.  The Miami Heat are standing in the Celtics way from competing for a championship.  Oh yeah, there is a lot of hatred there, but I am not even sure if the feeling is mutual from Miami's side.  

LeBron is attending his first of what might be multiple ring ceremonies that he will be receiving the ring that represents NBA supremacy.  Having Boston there is just icing on the cake.  I do not think at this point that he and his teammates are going to be sitting in the locker room before tonight's game and think about how they hate the Celtics so much.  Miami just won the NBA crown, defending it is the only thing on their mind.

Howard & Nash Has Eyes On the Prize
Opening night also brings us the premier of the new-look Los Angeles Lakers against a Dallas Mavericks team that is a far from the team we knew that shocked the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals.  Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard,  Steve Nash & Paul Gasol are as formidable a "Big 4" you will find in any era in NBA history.  With that being said, the Lakers will need them to stay healthy come April, because the bench is thin.  In today's NBA, most teams are so athletic off the bench, so when the Lakers go to their own bench, execution of their new Princeton offense is top priority.  As good as the Lakers' "Big 4" is, they are an aging bunch for the most part and with a long season ahead of them, the Lakers' bench will have to have quality minutes night-in & night-out to prevent the "Big 4" from wearing down during the playoffs.  Offensively Steve Nash is the key.  His job will be getting all those stars involved and not turning the ball over which is key for opposing teams that want to get out and run on the Lakers.  Dwight Howard will be the anchor defensively.  He will force teams to shoot outside the paint that will create more fast break opportunities for the Lakers which the Lakers haven't really seen that often since Kobe wore the the number 8 on his jersey.  

With Dirk Nowitzki out of tonight's game, look for the Dallas Mavericks to play hard, but don't expect them to make tonight's game an instant classic.  Even if Kobe does not play tonight to nurse his ailing foot, the Lakers are still too big and too talented to let a "Dirkless" Mavs team to beat them on national television on opening night at home.  

I am more than excited to get the NBA season underway.  Every season since LeBron James joined Dwyane Wade in South Beach has gotten better and more exciting.  We are in a new "Golden Era" of the NBA, so sit back grab a beer (if you are 21 & older) and enjoy the moment.  NBA basketball is FANTASTIC!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Who is the Best of the Rest?

By Haz Bey
The Playoffs are here. Sad thing is, we already know who the contenders are and it comes down to 6 teams.  The 3 in the East are Miami, Chicago & Boston.  The 3 in the West are OKC, San Antonio & the LA Lakers.  The other teams are irrelevant.  Sure, a New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies can make some noise, like serious noise, but neither one of those teams will be hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy come season's end.  So now that I got that out of the way, let me breakdown who should be in the Finals competing for all the marbles.

In the East, the most dangerous team is clearly the Boston Celtics.  They have 3 Hall of Famers and one of the league's most dynamic point guards running the show in Rajon Rondo.  They won it all in 2008 and returned to the Finals in 2010 only to blow a 13 point 2nd half lead in game 7 to their hated rival, Los Angeles Lakers.  The have experience and wisdom on their side and are playing some great basketball since the All-Star break which resulted in them catching the 76ers for the Atlantic Division crown.  Their glaring weakness is their age with their star players.  Miami & Chicago has exceptional young talent and could outlast Boston in a long series.  As far as the West, the Los Angeles Lakers possess the most dominate "Big 3" in all of basketball.  2 skilled 7 footers in Gasol & Bynum and arguably the best player in the game in Kobe Bryant.  They will give teams all kind of match-up problems, but how will their bench perform?  That's the question we all have and with Oklahoma City & San Antonio possessing excellent depth, that might derail the Lakers chances at a 4 Finals appearance in 5 years.

The 2 most complete teams in each conference are San Antonio & Chicago, hands down.  They both have a enact of just playing the right way on both ends of the floor and both teams are led by tough, hard-nose coach's in Greg Popovich & Tom Thibodeau respectively.  These teams are true contenders and I wouldn't be surprised if that was the match-up for the world title.  The Bulls lack a healthy Derrick Rose heading into these playoffs.  Derrick Rose will be needed against potential match-ups with the Celtics & the Heat for Chicago to advance to the Finals.  As for San Antonio, it just comes down to the Spurs playing the same way during the playoffs as they did in the regular season.  We all remember last year they won the top seed in the West, but got ousted by the Rudy Gay-less Memphis Grizzlies in the 1st round of the playoffs behind the dominate play of Zach Randolph.  I like both teams chances, but I do not see them getting past the next 2 teams I am going to talk about.

The Oklahoma City Thunder & Miami Heat are the 2 best teams in the NBA Playoffs.  For they are not the number 1 seeds, they are the cream of the crop the league has to offer.  As you probably figured out, this is my NBA Finals match-up.  Both teams are as "top-heavy" as it gets when it comes to superior talent.  The potential match-up with Miami's LeBron James, Dwyane Wade & Chris Bosh vs Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook & James Harden is something not just the league, but the whole world deserves to see.  In their 2nd match-up in Miami, both teams played with such physicality and toughness, viewers thought the NBA Title was on the line that day.  With both teams wanting to get out on the open court to generate easy buckets, we as fans would benefit from all the exciting highlights and big plays all series long.  These teams possess enough talent to meet in the Finals multiple times in the next 4 to 5 years.  If that happens, then we are talking about an true rivalry between some of the league's best players.  Great story lines would come into play as well.  The winner of the Finals MVP Trophy would probably be crowned the league's best player, because as great as Kobe is, LeBron, D-Wade, Durant & Westbrook are all younger and either entering their primes or are still in it.  Then there is LeBron coming up small in last year's Finals.  How will he respond given another opportunity only 1 year later?  Also can the combinations of both Wade & James and Durant & Westbrook co-exist enough with their contrast of styles enough to win a NBA Title?  Is James Harden or Chris Bosh the "X-Factor" of the series?  These questions and I'm sure countless others will be asked if these teams hook-up this June.  I would almost go as far as saying that rivalry like this would not be on the same level of Lakers/Celtics, but it would definitely be in the neighborhood.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kobe or LeBron... Who's Better?

Blog by Haz Bey
Everybody in America is debating who the best player in today's game is.  The only two names that comes to people's minds are Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.  Everybody wants to compare one to another, but is it really fair to compare the two?  I do not believe so.  Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are two different types of players.  Kobe is an assassin on the court and can care less if you like him or not.  LeBron is a pass-first superstar, who has a desire to be liked by all.  Their personalities are equivalent to how they play on the court.  So to really compare them is ultimately what you base your best player in the NBA on. 

I base the best player in the league on maximizing your ability to team success.  They are a lot of talented, special players in this league, but we all know who the elite players are.  You have Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Carmello Anthony, Chris Paul & Dirk Nowitzki.  All those players mentioned would be considered elite players in this league without hesitation or argument, but when in it comes to Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, they seem to be on a step above the elite just on ability alone.  It's no secret that LeBron is the most talented player to ever play in the NBA.  No one else has never been blessed to possess the size, speed, agility, athleticism & skill set that LeBron possesses. That is why there was and will always be hype surrounded behind him from his days in high school until his playing days are over.  But you can't be the best player in the league just because of talent, you have to have the stats to back it up.  LeBron is a walking triple-double.  His career numbers of 27 ppg, 7 rpg & 7 apg are Hall of Fame worthy for just the 8 plus years the 2-time regular season MVP has played already.  His numbers are even slightly better in the playoffs, but he has nothing to show for it.  Players of his caliber win championships, multiple championships.  MJ, Magic, Bird... KOBE. 

Kobe Bryant is a scorer 1st and foremost. Kobe's gifts giving to him was the ability to put the basketball in the hoop 100 different ways.  Kobe does not have a conscience and is not afraid of failure.  Kobe path do greatness is different than most superstars.  Kobe was not even a lottery pick and was traded to the Lakers on draft night.  He wasn't his class' rookie of the year.  He started in the All Star Game while coming off the bench in his 2nd season.  By the end of his 4th season in his career he was a champion, but was the teams 2nd option with Shaq dominating the paint.  He had to just not battle the competition, but another superstar on his team for team supremacy of the league's best team for while the Lakers won 3 straight championship while reaching the Finals 4 out of 5 years.  He was accused of rape, then later dismissed of those charges.  He basically traded away Shaquille O'Neal to Miami to begin a life as the only alpha dog.   He was robbed of an MVP in 2006.  He asked to be traded in 2007, but then reached the Finals on his way to capturing his only regular season MVP.  Won 2 more titles to reach 5 rings, matching Magic and 1 behind MJ by beating Orlando and hated rival Boston in back to back seasons.  And through all that Kobe has to deal with ESPN ranking him as the 7th best player in the league only a year later.  Puzzling, because all Kobe has down is average 25 ppg, 5 rpg & 4 apg for his 16 seasons.  Not the mention winning 5 championships, 2 Finals MVPs, 1 regular season MVP, 2 scoring titles, 13 All Star appearances, 4 All Star MVPs, 9 1st Team All NBA selections, 9 1st Team All Defense selections & he has even scored 81 points in a single game.  Kobe's resume is as good as anyone that has ever played the game and yet he is still even in his 16th season leading the league in scoring with 30.4 ppg.  But guess who's right behind him averaging 29.9 ppg fresh off of beating the "Black Mamba" head to head, you guessed it, LeBron James.

Last night's game in Miami was what everyone around the country was looking for.  Finally the talk on who was better would be determined.  No it wasn't, but LeBron did make a statement.  LeBron made it known that he can effortlessly impact the game and get his numbers, (31pts, 8rebs, 8ast & 4stl).  He was the best player on the court last night without any doubts.  Kobe had a huge 4th quarter on his way to 24 points, 7 assist, 5 rebounds & 3 steals.  But LeBron led the Heat to a 21 point lead entering the 4th quarter and the game was basically over at that point.  What did we learn from that game?  Well, the Heat at this point of the season is a superior team compared to the Lakers.  This is not my opinion, this is fact.  The Lakers losses of Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown proved to be key to the Lakers woes in trying to score off the bench.  The Lakers are not getting the production they need to compete with Miami's of the world, period.  As far as who the best player in the league right now, it is still Kobe Bryant.  When you are the best, someone must take that title from you.  LeBron has been in that position for about 3 years now, but his playoff disappointments have kept him down.  This year there will have to be no excuses for LeBron and the Miami Heat to not win a title this year.  When healthy, the Heat are just too talented to contain for 48 minutes on both sides of the ball.  I predict LeBron will win that elusive title and surpass Kobe Bryant once and for all for the title of the league's best player.  Sorry Kobe, but if you don't lead your Lakers to a Finals victory this season, than your mantle will be passed on.  There is a new "King" in the waiting and he seems primed on getting crowned by season's end.  The passing of the torch from the old generation to the new.  Magic passed it to MJ, MJ passed it to Kobe and now Kobe will have to pass it to LeBron by season's end.  That's how it has always been and that is how it will always be.  But that is just my prediction.  LeBron James has not giving us any reason to trust him in the post season, so lets just see how this plays out.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

LA's New Dynamic Duo

Blog by Haz Bey
It's a done deal, finally.  The Clippers have landed top point guard Chris Paul to go along side NBA Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin.  The on-going saga came to an end and Chris Paul finally made it out of his New Orleans imprisonment enforced by the league.  The Hornets get Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu & the Timberwolves 2012 1st round pick in return for the Chris Paul's services.  The Clippers' brain-trust wanted to pair up Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to form one of the most devastating tandems the league has ever seem.  Imagine those two running the pick-and-roll all game long.  It would be like Stockton to Malone on steroids.  By joining the Clippers Chris Paul revoked his player option of his contract until the summer of 2013 which gives the Clippers 2 years to prove to him that they will be a championship contender for years to come.  The first huge piece has fallen this season, now lets see where Dwight Howard and Deron Williams will be come the trade deadline set for March 15th.