Doc Rivers

Three Players to Watch (Boston Celtics)

The “Three Players to Watch” series is brought to you by the OuttaTownClowns, covering each of the league’s 30 teams providing you with insight on three guys that should demand your attention next season. As you can always expect at the OTC, not every player noted are a team’s top player, instead it may just be a player’s particular situation that’s worth following if you’re a die-hard NBA fan. 

1. Avery Bradley 

Last season proved to be a growing year for Bradley as he became a much more impactful piece to the Celtics puzzle. Provided with more playing time and trust from Head Coach Doc Rivers the Celtics combo guard turned some major weaknesses into some potential strengths this coming season. Having always been a great on-ball defender, Bradley improved his shooting stroke. In specific he showed a more consistent ability to hit the corner three ball and forced defenses to respect his off the dribble midrange game. It’s also worth noting that these are two improvements that “regular season” Rondo has yet to display. While there’s no debate Rondo is far and beyond the better ball handler, Avery is giving his Celtics coaching staff flexibility when it comes to using newly signed veteran Jason Terry. It’s likely Bradley will be given the head nod as the starting shooting guard, allowing Terry to continue to do what he does best as the sixth man. NBA fans should keep a close eye on Avery’s progress next year. He’s the league’s best on-ball defender when pressuring full court and to see him also add an offensive game is a joy to watch if you’re a fan of following player development.

2. Jared Sullinger

Sullinger couldn’t be in a better situation…

Dropping as low as Sullinger did in the draft was huge blessing in disguise for one of the best players college basketball had to offer last season. Getting in with the tradition of Celtics basketball is a perfect fit for the young power forward and being mentored by one of best power forward’s in league history won’t hurt him either. If he can avoid the injuries, Sullinger has a chance to provide a big impact in year one and will be counted upon to contribute on the offensive side of the floor. The Celtics are hoping that he can exceed the level of play of both Brandon Bass and former Celtic Leon Powe combined. Considering what the young big man did at the college level and in Orlando Summer League it looks as it that won’t be too hard to live up too as he begins his journey in the NBA.

3. Kris Joseph

Joseph will get his chance to be a contributor off the Celtics bench

Don’t sleep on this experienced college player who’s proven to be a winner at the college level. Yes, he didn’t have the most impressive college numbers, no he didn’t have the most impressive summer league, but as the current roster stands he will be counted upon to help fill some minutes while the aging Paul Pierce rests. Having a great support system around him in Pierce, Rondo, and Garnett can pay huge dividends in Joseph’s first year success. He definitely will get his chance to prove he not only belongs in the league, but also prove he can provide a positive impact on the team from day one.

 

2010-11 NBA Preview: Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics (50-32 last season)

Don't let their age fool you, they still have what it takes.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Rajon Rondo

Shooting Guard: Ray Allen

Small Forward: Paul Pierce

Power Forward: Kevin Garnett

Center: Jermaine O’Neal

Key Reserves:

Guard: Delonte West

Forward: Glen Davis

Center: Shaquille O’Neal

The Celtics are coming off a great year in which they made it to the finals and lost in Game 7.  They were a surprise to everyone in the playoffs as the No. 4 seed while most people thought the Cavaliers or Magic would make it. The key for the Celtics is to stay healthy.  Five players are 32 years of age or older (Allen, Pierce, Garnett, and both O’Neals) and limiting minutes will have to be in the works for Doc Rivers.  The second unit will also have to be fired up most nights because they are a very important part to the success of the team.  If the Celtics want to make another run at the championship, the entire squad must be healthy and whole in April.

New York Knicks (29-53 last season)

Amar'e is "The Man", but Felton could be the key to the offensive.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Raymond Felton

Shooting Guard: Wilson Chandler

Small Forward: Danilo Gallinari

Power Forward: Amar’e Stoudemire

Center: Timofey Mozgov

Key Reserves:

Guard: Roger Mason Jr.

Guard-Forward: Kelenna Azubuike

Forward: Anthony Randolph

Ok, so no Lebron James for the Knicks, but they did acquire Amar’e Stoudemire who will have to carry this team on his back.  Look for Stoudemire to put up better numbers than he did in Phoenix.  Some people think he won’t play better because Steve Nash is what made him good, but I don’t believe that at all.  Another key addition is spark plug, Raymond Felton.  Felton knows how to win basketball games and will be an improvement from Chris Duhon.  Things are looking up for the Knicks and if Amar’e can stay healthy and his knees don’t give out on him, I believe the Knicks will make the playoffs.

New Jersey Nets (12-70 last season)

Harris and Lopez could be that one, two punch that lead the Nets to victory.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Devin Harris

Shooting Guard: Anthony Morrow

Small Forward: Travis Outlaw

Power Forward: Troy Murphy

Center: Brook Lopez

Key Reserves:

Guard: Jordan Farmar

Guard-Forward: Terrence Williams

Forward: Derrick Favors

Avery Johnson is looking to turn things around for this young New Jersey team.  They aren’t going to blow you away with their offense, so defense must show up for them to win games.  Brook Lopez and Devin Harris are the most important players on the team and having them healthy all season will sway this group into a possible playoff berth.  The Nets will need an incredible season to reach the playoffs but anything can happen.  Give them another couple years, let Derrick Favors get some seasons under his belt and be ready for a powerful Nets team in the future.

Philadelphia 76ers (27-55 last season)

A star in college now has to learn to take a supporting role.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Jrue Holiday

Shooting Guard: Andre Igoudala

Small Forward: Thaddeus Young

Power Forward: Elton Brand

Center: Spencer Hawes

Key Reserves:

Guard: Evan Turner

Guard: Louis Williams

Forward: Andres Nocioni

The first thing that comes to mind when I look at this starting five is that there isn’t a solidified shooter.  Andre Igoudala is probably their best shooter and he isn’t very reliable from outside.  Either Jason Kapono or Jodie Meeks will need to earn a spot in the rotation and provide for them what Kyle Korver used to.  This is a fairly young team and the faster Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner develop their offensive games, the better the Sixers will be.  Elton Brand is a team chemistry destroyer, and this is why I do not see the 76ers having a great season.

Toronto Raptors (40-42 last season)

Can Bargnani show the fans of Toronto why they drafted him number one?

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Jarrett Jack

Shooting Guard: DeMar DeRozen

Small Forward: Linas Kleiza

Power Forward: Reggie Evans

Center: Andrea Bargnani

Key Reserves:

Guard: Jose Calderon

Guard: Leandro Barbosa

Forward: Amir Johnson

The Raptors had a terrible offseason losing Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Bosh.  Their whole team is mixed up and they will most likely be one of the worst teams in the league.  The only positive feeling I can say about this team is that things can only go up after the season starts.  One of their young players will certainly need to step forward with a larger role.  I see that player to be Andrea Bargnani.  He was a number one overall pick and has a really good skill set.  Also look for the Raptors to possibly pick up a star closer towards the trade deadline thanks to their Bosh trade exception.  

Lakers vs. Celtics – NBA Finals Game 5

By: James Sargent

Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics – 8 ET ABC

Game 4 was a gritty performance by Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Nate Robinson.  Doc Rivers left the bench in a little longer than he normally does in the fourth quarter against the Laker’s starters and the move was ingenious.  Davis and Robinson were unconscious and could not be stopped, and this was a good kind of unconsciousness for Davis.  If the Celtics want to head to LA with a 3-2 lead, the bench is going to need to step it up again and provide another spark.  This will be a very tough task to ask for because with each new game comes new counter strategies and ways to stop previous occurrences.  The Celtics will definitely need two of the “Big Three” and Rajon Rondo to have a steady game.

Shrek and Donkey could be the reason for another Laker meltdown

As for the Lakers, Kobe was shutdown in the fourth quarter and Andrew Bynum was hit with another knee injury, limiting him to only 12 minutes of play.  Bryant was pestered by many different Celtic defenders who held him to only two field goals in that pivotal fourth quarter.  Kobe said he felt miserable after the game and Phil Jackson said Kobe was very tired.  Could Bryant be going back into the funk he was in at the end of the season?  I don’t think so.  I believe with the two days off, Bryant will be rejuvenated and ready to bring his “A” game like he usually brings.

Pau Gasol will bring his usual intensity to the court and continue to reek havoc on the Celtic’s frontcourt.

Rajon Rondo will record an “almost” triple-double by scoring in double figures and having double digit assits, but he will only reach about 5-7 rebounds.

Now, I asked my dad to get his thoughts on the game, and I am going to stick with what he had to say.  Celtics need a must win since winning two in LA is very unlikely.  Also, Ray Allen is going to hit some three pointers and get back to his shooting ways.

Celtics- 97 Lakers- 94

5/24/10 Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics (Game 4) Predictions

Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics- 8:30 ET ESPN

Pierce & the Celtics will have some time to rest up, stretch out, & prepare for the NBA Finals

The Magic are down for the count. With no hope of coming back from a 3-0 hole in the series, I fully expect them to lay down in Game 4. Hopefully the take the series loss like professionals and play hard all game, but in no way I expect them to come out on top. If I’m a Magic player, I rather get swept in Boston then have to come home and lose Game 5 in front of the home crowd.

It’s been a disappointing series to say the very least. In fact the NBA Playoffs as a whole have been very disappointing up until this point. Hopefully the NBA Finals matchup Celtics-Lakers/Suns offers a much more exciting series than we’ve been treated too so far this year. Celtics took care of business in the Eastern Conference Finals as an end result, they’ll be treating themselves to some days off to rest.

Celtics- 95 Magic- 87

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5/22/10 Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics (Game 3) Predictions

Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics- 8:30 ET ESPN

Was Redick drunk when he decided to call a timeout in the backcourt?

The Orlando Magic’s Game 2 performance can be summed up with mental breakdowns. From Vince Carter not focusing at the free throw line throwing up to bricks in the critical moments to J.J. Redick dazed and confused calling allowing about four seconds to expire before calling a timeout in the backcourt. Simply put, the Magic gave the Celtics not only Game 2, but the entire series.

There’s no doubt the Celtics smell blood and they’ll be going for the kill in Game 3. They understand exactly what opportunity is at hand now that the series has shifted back home to Boston and don’t think the fans won’t be fired up as well. Offensively Paul Pierce will lead the usual charge and nothing could be any sweeter than if Rondo’s able to put up 20+ points. Rondo’s scoring outage is a really important motor to the Celtics success and I expect Rajon to bring his “A-Game” in Game 3.

Van Gundy must unleash Air France

For the Magic it goes without saying that Rashard Lewis has been a complete joke all series long. In Game 2, Lewis played a team-high 41 minutes and only contributed 5 points. Obviously that’s a big problem but the biggest issue in Game 2 was that nobody was able to “cover up” Lewis’s lackluster play. Nelson and Carter both struggled from the field and for some reason I can not understand why Stan Van Gundy didn’t give Pietrus more than 15 minutes of action. Mickael Pietrus is my key to a Magic Game 3 victory, not only is he counted upon to bring some production off the bench, but he also can be the man who steps right in to fill Lewis’s scoring load.

Hey Dwight, ask your "wanna-be" LeBron puppet, if there's a chance the complete Dwight Howard can step up in Game 3

As for Dwight Howard, the team’s catalyst, he’ll need another strong outing especially on the road. What concerns me so far in this series is Howard’s ability to play at both ends of the floor. In Game 1 he was a non-factor on offensively but tallied 12 rebounds and 5 blocks. Then in Game 2, he went off for 30 points but only snagged 8 rebounds and didn’t even record a block! Where in the world did the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year go?

Of course, that question isn’t referring to Dwight Howard’s vacation plans but it soon could be if the Magic can’t win Game 3. Celtics execute their game plan and get overall better team contributions leading them to victory.

Celtics- 97 Magic- 93

The Celtics may be able to close out this series faster than Usain Bolt

5/18/10 Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic (Game 2)

Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic 8:30 ET ESPN

Magic got just what the "Doc" had ordered in Game 1

The Orlando Magic got just what the “Doc” had ordered in preparation of Game 1. It all got started with the tremendous defensive effort throughout the entire 48 minutes of play. The Celtics effectively pressured the Magic on the perimeter forcing them off the three-point line and when the Magic swung the ball, the Celtics rotations were perfected with ease.

Expect to see an entirely different Game 2 tonight, not only will the Magic bounce back, but the Celtics will be fine settling with a spilt series heading back to Boston. Don’t worry Magic fans it’s not time to panic and honestly, I’d probably panic if I were a Boston Celtics fan. Here’s why:

-The Magic shot 5-22 from behind the three-point line

-The Magic had a total of 10 assists for the game

-The Magic turned the ball over 18 times

THE END RESULT= A 4 POINT LOSS!!!

'Shard & Dwight must immediately improve their contributions offensively

Both Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson have been spectacular for the majority of the 2010 NBA Playoffs, but the two Magic players that have yet to remain consistent have been the money makers in Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard, who combined for a mere 19 points in Game 1.

Down low, Dwight Howard must get tougher and actually begin using the muscles he’s gifted with, no more settling for the “avoid-contact-at-all-cost” hook shots. On top of the moves, Dwight’s got to remain mentally tough, it was clear in Game 1 that he allowed Rasheed Wallace to get the best of him.

Then there’s Rashard Lewis, ugh it gives me a headache every time I think about how much he’s getting paid, Lewis must start knocking down those contested shots from the perimeter. At nearly 7 foot and having a high release point on his follow through, there’s no excuse for him not being able to drill those spilt-second open looks.

Better team play, with the improved play of both Howard and Lewis will lead the Magic to a Game 2 victory tonight.

Magic- 97 Celtics- 91

Professor Wallace Teaches Young Dwight a Lesson During Free Throw Attempts:

5/9/10 NBA Playoff Predictions

Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics- 3:30 ET ABC

For the Celtics, Game 3 was embarrassing to say the least and it ended up being the historic franchise’s worst playoff loss ever. Game 4 isn’t just a matter of winning or losing it’s more about stepping up to the challenge that comes with playing against LeBron James.

Stop Simply Glancing at the Scoreboard & Make Some Adjustments!

Head Coach Doc Rivers and his handful of well-seasoned NBA greats never once even made an effort to make an adjustment in Game 3 on LeBron. They didn’t show any pride, allowing their team in their city to get absolutely embarrassed in their first home game in Round 2. There are no excuses for not even trying to make adjustments! None! Zip zero!

Now granted LeBron hit his fair share of “nothing-else-you-can-do” shots on Celtics defenders but at some point in the game, you to pick your poison, and force those around LeBron to beat you. Everyone knows there’s a lot of pressure on the Cavaliers to win a championship this year with LeBron heading into a free agency campaign. Despite where you stand on whether LeBron will leave Cleveland or not, the pressure is clearly there. The Cavs organization has done it’s best to surround LeBron will the very best unit that can help him become an NBA champion, make those guys (Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, and heck even Shaquille O’Neal) prove that!

Make Him Beat You

All season long the Celtics have been a team that either show up and play or just aren’t all quite there, a sad but true statement about a group of notable, experienced players. Game 4, I expect the Cavaliers to prevail yet again. If the Celtics are to stand a chance they’ll have to get a big boost scoring wise from Rajon Rondo. But I see LeBron and the Cavs heading home just one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals.

Cavaliers- 107 Celtics- 93

Someone Please Inform LeBron That Tomorrow is in fact Mother’s Day & He Shouldn’t Tell His Mother to “Sit Her Ass Down”….

Coincidentally this happen in a playoff series against the Celtics!

Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs- 8 ET TNT

That Goal Was To Make My Predictions Look Foolish- Mission Accomplished

I’ll be first to admit it, I’ve been horribly wrong with my expectations for the Suns in this year’s NBA playoffs. Maybe it was just my lack of interest in the team, even better, it might just be the fact that in the past two years the only games televised here in Milwaukee are on TNT, or maybe I got it all twisted. Maybe it’s not my expectations for the Suns that are terribly off, instead it’s my expectations for the San Antonio Spurs. After all, I did kind of forget that they’re the 7th seed.

But 7th seed or 1st seed bottom line is both of these teams are very similar. Both have their big names stars ending their prime in Nash and Duncan. Both have their scoring machine shooting guards in Richardson and Ginobili. And probably most importantly both have plenty of concerns to deal with at the end of their seasons.

But hey, I’m not here to bash either team in fact I’ve been very impressed with the Suns demeanor and if they keep this momentum up, I might even give them a slight chance of beating the Los Angeles Lakers in a 7 game series.

Cherish This Suns Fans

There’s really not much to comment on heading into Game 4. The series is clearly over and the Suns would be foolish not to give it their all to finish their business tomorrow night. But if I were still a Suns fan, I’d actually wish upon a Suns loss. If you’re a diehard Suns fan it’d be priceless to be at Game 5 and being able to talk trash and boot the Spurs out of the playoffs in Phoenix, something the Suns fans can’t say they’ve done in years. I can already see the crowd of Suns fans outside the Suns player parking garage anxiously awaiting the departure of the Spurs team bus headed to Sky Harbor that night.

One final note before I call it quits on this post, how can I not at least give some recognition to Goran Dragic. While I’m far from impressed of his potential, I’d be ignorant to say what he did in Game 3 wasn’t very impressive. Congrats Goran, you’ve only continued to help Suns fans maintain some hope that you are the future point guard. Your shot has drastically improved, there’s no doubt about it, but as far as being a leader goes, you got a long ways to go. Keep making steady improvements and maybe I’ll decide to budge a little, but having the tendency to pick up your dribble for no purpose and turning over the ball in the backcourt when faced with backcourt on the ball pressure doesn’t help your case. Oh and by the way, my name is spelled Ross, not Rosse so next time someone decides to try to play a joke on me and ask you to personally make an autograph out to me, drop the “e” my friend. (True Story).  But nonetheless good job in Game 3, you stepped up in a big position and got the job done, something I’m not used to seeing you do in games I’ve been able to watch. So with all this I apologize to any offended Suns fans, maybe it’s just the games I’m able to see that misguide my judgments, as do many of you when it comes to your opinion on my Milwaukee Bucks. But hey, at the end of the day, congrats to the Phoenix Suns, you’ve done it, you’ve finally beat the Spurs and did s in an impressive and very commanding fashion. You’re headed to the Western Conference Finals.

Suns- 111 Spurs- 103

While I could remember this….

I’ll Choose to Remember This….

5/7/10 NBA Playoff Predictions

Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics- 7 ET ESPN

The Garden will be painted green tonight!

The only second round series that heads into a Game 3 with both teams tied with one win a piece, this game serves as the game of the night. With the Celtics able to pull out a key victory on the road, the pressure is now on LeBron James and the Cavaliers to steal one in Boston, easier said then done.

Tonight is a must win for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Before you call that statement a stretch, hear me out. A Celtics win in Game 3, enables them to continue to roll off the momentum gained in Game 2. From there, the Celtics would head into Game 4 very well knowing that they could pretty much put the nail in the coffin with a win, which would give them a commanding 3-1 series lead going back to Cleveland for Game 5. Bottom line is the Boston Celtics must win all of their home games in order to win this series. I’d be very surprised to see them pull off any more wins inside the Quicken Loans Arena in the series. So in other words, if the Cavs can just earn one win on the road in Boston, they win the series.

No stopping 'Bron 'Bron tonight...Expect him to put up 40+

As always the Cavaliers will be led behind the play of LeBron James. Coming off a disappointing Game 2 loss, I see the Cavaliers  prevailing in Game 3 over the Boston Celtics despite the Celtics having momentum. Tonight, expect LeBron to go off for 40 points at the very least. King James knows what’s at stake with a loss in Game 3 and he’ll refuse to let it happen, even if he has to do so far, far away from his castle. Cavs win behind a spectacular night from LeBron James.

Cavaliers- 104 Celtics- 99

Can Mo Williams once again leave Coach Mike Brown speechless at the podium?

Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs- 9:30 ET ESPN

Ahh the good ole days of being a Suns fan

The Phoenix Suns have been very impressive to say the least, can they continue to prove me wrong again in Game 3? I can tell you they’ll have their chance. While I fully realize this isn’t the same Spurs team of the past, I definitely feel the Spurs still have what it takes to stretch the series a at least 6 games. But I have to admit, the Suns have been playing so well, I’ve been forced to question my predictions to the joy of the countless Suns fans that read the blog.

Here’s my revised prediction on how I see the rest of the series filling out. Back at home the Spurs taking Games 3 and 4, but after taking both home games, the Spurs will be out of gas. With that, I have Suns winning Game 5 back in Phoenix and stealing one in San Antonio to close out the series in 6 games.

The Spurs need more from Manu in Game 3

But tonight, expect a Suns loss. The Spurs will be able to at least make this a respectable series and will avoid embarrassment. If the Suns yet again prove me wrong with a win in Game 3, expect a Suns sweep. But until that final buzzer rings out with the Suns coming out on top in the points column, shocking me once again, I’ll take the Suns winning the series in 6 games. Expectations for tonight’s matchup includes better play from Manu Ginobili and George Hill back at home and less bench production from Channing Frye and Jared Dudley on the road. Spurs win tonight.

Spurs- 113 Suns-109

As Suns fans very well know anything can happen for the Spurs at home in San Antonio

4/25/10 NBA Playoff Predictions

Boston Celtics at Miami Heat- 1 ET

Today could mark Wade's last game in a Miami Heat jersey or at the very least it could be his last home game as a member of the Miami Heat

The Miami Heat are down 3 game to none, no team in NBA history has ever come back from such a deficit. Today’s game could very much end up being a historic game for the Miami Heat as it has the possibility of marking franchise’s superstar Dwyane Wade’s final game as a member of the Miami Heat (or at the very least his last home game). Becoming a free agent at the end of the season, Wade could decide to move his career elsewhere, teams that may be ideal include: the Clippers, Suns, Bulls, Knicks, and Nets.

The Miami Heat don’t just look lost trying to find a win in this series, but they seriously look lost as a franchise. HoopsHype.com reported that the Heat may end up trading their future piece in Michael Beasley before the NBA draft if the right options seem to be available. With that being said, the Heat in all likely-hood could lose both their current superstar and their 2nd overall pick of 2008 in Beasley who was supposed to be their future star in the making.

Coach Doc Rivers & "The Truth" should seal the deal in Game 4

In Game 4, I see the Boston Celtics putting the final nail in the coffin. Up 3-0, there’s no reason to put forth a sluggish effort and have to close down the series at home in Game 5. With an aging team like the Celtics, it’s important for them to win series as quickly as possible so that they can rest up and be fully ready to take on their second round opponent. Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers and the Big Three know and understand they have to take care of business; Celtics sweep the Miami Heat.

Celtics- 98 Heat- 85

Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls- 3:30 ET

Vinny Del Negro himself predicting the final outcome of the series, Cavs win 4 games to 1

Everyone and their brother knows that LeBron James didn’t take his Cavaliers’ team loss in Game 3 very lightly. You can be assured that, King James will do a little talking in the locker room before hitting the United Center floor to square off against the Bulls. In the midst of all of this, according to HoopsHype.com, ESPN.com has reported that Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro will not return next year as the Bulls coach. While that’s no surprise, it is surprising that this talks heated up right after a huge Game 3 win in Chicago.

Just as LeBron James didn’t take the Game 3 loss lightly, maybe this was the Bulls way of firing up their head coach for the remainder of the playoffs. Each of the Bulls-Cavs first three games the Bulls have been in striking distance of tying or taking over the lead in games. So I propose the question: What if Vinny Del Negro does the impossible and beats the Cavaliers in Round 1? While I’m just proposing the thought, go ahead call me an idiot, it’s okay because one things for sure, both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah actually believe they can take down the Cavaliers.

The Bulls are title contenders if they add one of these guys or Joe Johnson

While I’m going to take the Cavaliers over the Bulls in 5 games, that isn’t to say that Game 4 and Game 5 won’t be interesting games. The Bulls will continue to demand respect in the series forcing the Cavaliers to play top notch basketball under the final buzzer sounds. Even if the Bulls end up winning just Game 3 in the series, they exceeded the expectations of the majority of the league. Having put up an impressive fight each game can only help their chances of snagging one of the elite free agents come this summer. Don’t try to tell me Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Dwyane Wade, and Joe Johnson haven’t been watching the Bulls fight in this one seed versus eight seed matchup.

Cavaliers- 102 Bulls- 95

Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs- 7 ET

Game 3 served as a wake up call for Caron Butler

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Dallas Mavericks will take Game 4. Nowitzki and crew have too much talent and fight to allow this series to go 3-1 heading back home, the Mavericks will force a split 2-2 series. In order to do so, Dallas will obviously have to make some adjustments, but luckily for the Mavericks they’re one of the most versatile teams in the NBA. Head Coach Rick Carlisle’s decision to only play Caron Butler for 14 minutes should be Butler’s wake up call heading into Game 4. I definitely think we’ll see improved play from him and from the Mavericks centers inside. In Game 3, Mavericks big men Erick Dampier and Brendan Haywood played a combined 45 minutes coming up with just 4 points and 8 rebounds. As Charles Barkley would say, “That’s just terrible”, Barkley himself could probably score 4 points and grab 8 rebounds if it weren’t for having to run the length of the floor each possession. Game 3 key to a Spurs victory in a nutshell was that the Spurs came out to play and the Mavericks (outside of Dirk Nowitzki) didn’t. We’ll see improved play by the entire Dallas Mavericks team today. Dallas takes Game 4 and momentum back home for Game 5.

Mavericks- 99 Spurs- 91

Denver Nuggets at Utah Jazz- 9:30 ET

Carmelo continues to battle foul trouble issues

The Jazz won in commanding fashion in Game 3 at home against the Denver Nuggets. Carmelo Anthony yet again ran into foul trouble and for the past two games that’s really been a big key to the Jazz success. Foul trouble for Carmelo Anthony limits his aggressiveness and all the intangibles that makes him the offensive threat that he is when not in foul trouble. When the Jazz are able to contain that aggressiveness, the Denver Nuggets flow on offense suffers greatly.

I don’t know if it’s just me or if Nuggets fans would agree, but I never quite know what to expect from this year’s Nuggets team. While their personnel are uniquely charismatic (to say the least) and are fun to watch, I don’t know how I’d feel if I were a Denver Nuggets fan. Is this group of guys, really a team that you can put your trust in? While I really want to go with my gut feeling and predict a Nuggets win tonight, my logic behind why not to pick the Nuggets seems to be holding me back from doing so.

My logic tells me to take D-Will & the Jazz at home

The Utah Jazz are surprisingly clicking on all cylinders despite the key injury losses. Behind their home crowd at home, I see it hard from them to lose Game 4 and see Head Coach Jerry Sloan leading his team to a commanding 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets as the series then heads back to the mile high city. I’m going with my logic over gut feeling on this one.

Jazz- 109 Nuggets- 107

Ross Geiger’s NBA Season Award Predictions

Ross Geiger’s NBA Season Award Predictions

Most Valuable Player:

  1. 1. LeBron James– It’s pretty simple for King James, improve upon last year’s record of 66-16 and carry his team to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. If he can do that, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be handed back-to-back MVP honors. That’s a lot to ask for right? Wrong, if he can do it last year, there’s no reason to expect anything less from him year with the Cavs dramatically strengthening their depth surrounding him. The only one who can stop LeBron from grabbing two straight MVPs is LeBron. PERIOD
  2. 2. Dwight Howard– There’s been much talk that Dwight has improved his overall offense game this offseason, if that can be put on displayed immediately along alongside the direct results in the win column, Dwight has a legit shot at making his case for MVP. Already the most dominating big man in the game today, leading the league in both rebounds and blocks last year, if he can continue to be league leader in both rebounds and blocks while continuing to improve his scoring average and free throw percentage, makes himself a prime candidate, if hasn’t already done so.
  3. 3. Kevin Durant– This should be the year Kevin Durant, absolutely blows up. If so, he not only put himself in a position to become involved in the MVP talks but should also put his team in a position to possibly make the playoffs. Though I put Durant 3rd on MVP candidate list, even if the Thunder aren’t a championship caliber team, if the Thunder make the playoffs, Durant could make an exception to the unwritten MVP rule.

Honorable Mention: Kobe Bryant & Andre Iguodala

Sixth Man of the Year:

  1. 1. Manu Ginobili– While adding Richard Jefferson should take a little pressure of Ginobili’s expectations to score, Manu still needs to provide a scoring spark off the San Antonio bench. Ginobili if finally back to full health, the Manu of old, should be as good as new this year. If you don’t believe me ask Charles Barkley and he’ll respond, “GGINNOOOBILLLLIII”.
  2. 2. Leandro Barbosa- Call it a “homer” pick, I don’t care, but fact is Barbosa could find away to come up with his second Sixth Man of the Year honor. With Coach Gentry leading the team back into the direction of the “7 Seconds or Less” mentality, Barbosa being one of the top three fastest players in the league, has to be in the running for Sixth Man. The Brazilian Blur is counted upon to score in bunches off the bench for the high octane Suns, a team that averaged 117.7 ppg after the coaching change. So let’s do that math, nearly 118 points, dare I say Barbosa contribute nearly 18 to 20 each game this year? Just think about it…
  3. 3. Jason Terry- It’s never hard or incorrect to throw “The Jets” name out in Sixth Man talks, he’s been one of the best in the business for years. I think Shawn Marion’s ability to help the Mavs run more only helps Terry’s ability to find more acceptable time, if the Mavs decide to go small on teams. The faster the Mavs pace their offense the more touches and opportunities Terry will get to light it up from the floor. It’s possible Terry could go onto winning the honor for the second straight year.

Honorable Mention: Ben Gordon & (tie) Daequan Cook/Hakim Warrick (if he ends up coming off the bench for the majority of the season)

Rookie of the Year:

  1. 1. Blake Griffin- I’m not a fan of Griffin, I think at best he’ll end up being the next Kenyon Martin in terms of ability. But it’s hard to go against the number one pick who despite the depth should find plenty of opportunity with the Clippers.
  2. 2. Brandon Jennings– Many would call it a stretch, but I’d like to point out, if the Bucks veterans stay healthy, he should be able to be successful with their help. NBA veterans Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, Carlos Delfino, Kurt Thomas, and Hakim Warrick already believe in the young kid’s ability and should help keep the game simple for the second year pro (yeah, I said it). If Jennings’s leadership proves to help the Bucks battle for a final playoff spot, something nobody has predicted (but me) then he could become quite a surprise for Rookie of the Year honors.
  3. 3. Terrence Williams- An interesting pick, but not out of the question if team success is not part of the picture. To be fair, none of this year’s potential rookie of the year candidates have a good chance at making the playoffs (don’t think DeRozan is a top rook stat-wise), so Williams actually has an upper edge on all the rest. The Nets are set on rebuilding and with on the pathetic Bobby Simmons in Williams’s way, he should find time to put up numbers. So far in the preseason, Williams has shown vast improvements and has been getting tons of touches. Had to put Terrence Williams here, so if he does it, I can say, I told ya so!

Honorable Mention: Tyreke Evans & (tie) Stephen Curry/Jonny Flynn

Most Improved Player Award:

  1. 1. Anthony Randolph
  2. 2. Roy Hibbert
  3. 3. Channing Frye

Honorable Mention: Courtney Lee & Corey Brewer

Defensive Player of the Year:

  1. 1. Dwight Howard
  2. 2. Caron Butler
  3. 3. Ron Artest

Honorable Mention: Tyrus Thomas & Mario Chalmers

Coach of the Year:

  1. 1. Flip Saunders- Washington Wizards
  2. 2. Doc Rivers- Boston Celtics
  3. 3. Scott Brooks- Oklahoma City Thunder

Honorable Mention: Alvin Gentry (Phoenix Suns) & Scott Skiles (Milwaukee Bucks)

Executive of the Year:

  1. 1. Donnie Nelson (Dallas Mavericks)
  2. 2. Ernie Grunfeld (Washington Wizards)
  3. 3. Danny Ferry (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Honorable Mention: Danny Ainge (Boston Celtics) & RC Buford (San Antonio Spurs)