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The LeBron Standard: “3 In the Key” Podcast: Episode 2

“The LeBron Standard” – Featuring Opinionated MJ & Sean Legend

Episode 2

The NBA Eastern Conference Folders, The Cavs, Wiz, and a Dark Horse Bulls Team

By: Opinionated MJ

 

The Eastern Folders Division

Who in the Eastern Conference can actually win a series against the Cleveland Cavaliers? My gut tells me that its not the Pacers, Celtics, Bucks, Raptors, or Hawks. They’ve all been considered so-called threats. Only thing is, they’ve all folded in the past or simply flared out when it was time to bring their A game in the playoffs. I’ll get into it a little for why I believe they all fold in prime time.

The Bucks don’t have enough experience to me. They are one piece away. Jabari Parker. They need their team in full health. Thats when I’ll consider them a true threat out east. No need to even talk about more. Yes, Giannis is the truth, but he’ll need that extra player to really be what he can be. It’s nothing like another player taking the pressure off of you. Nothing like it. Especially with what Parker brings to this team. Reminds me of a young Carmelo Anthony.

The Pacers simply don’t have enough experience. I think they need Myles Turner to become what he will become. At least a consistent 18 & 10 from him and that would do wonders for them. Plus, who really believes in a team that has Monta Ellis? Paul George already blew a game, he and CJ Miles, and then he continued to point fingers. Then we found out he was 0 for 20 in those situations anyway. He’s not even clutch enough to command the ball. Enough said.

The Celtics seem like the one who would burst through the wall and actually make it interesting. As we’ve seen through the first 2 games, they don’t really have anyone who can create for themselves outside of Thomas and Al Horford. They have enough defense but they haven’t even been able to stop Jimmy Butler, so we know they’re not stopping LeBron. I don’t forsee them making it out of this round now.

The Raptors… I’m very disappointed in Kyle Lowry. Knowing that going forward, he has the potential to have a meltdown at any given time. He’s not reliable enough to actually consider a true All-Star, that alone screams volumes to me. Demar Derozan on the other hand, he’s stepped into some mid-range bloodline only seen by a few greats. He just arrived there this season, so before I get too impressed, I’ll depend on his consistency over time. He is the only true reliable offensive option on this team. Meanwhile, Jonas, Serge, and Lowry are all here and there. They need a point guard who can really command the team and improve the other players all while being consistent himself. Chris Paul anyone?

 

Can the Wiz Reach The Cavs in the Conference Finals?

This is the presumed matchup going forward. I believe that they’ve been eliminated enough and they have enough playoff scars that they’ve built a foundation on. The only problem would be Bradley Beal being guarded so well that he’s taken off of his game and the only dependable player becoming John Wall. They have enough role players to push them ahead and to keep most opponents honest but I’m looking at the Bulls right now and they may have enough defense, scrappy play (at times) that they turn into transition buckets, and focus on execution that can put them over the top. I still consider the Wizards a roadblock, if not, the team that will meet Cleveland.

Can The Bulls Reach The Cavs in the Conference Finals?

I’ve been a fan of the way the Bulls began the season and also how they ended it. They now have a 2-0 lead over the #1 seeded Boston Celtics. Who would’ve knew? We watched the Celtics grind hard all season led by Isaiah Thomas who dazzled in many 4th quarters. I’ve been led to believe that the Celtics would’ve been formidable against the Cavs and the entire east until they fell flat towards the end of the season. Condolences to Mr. Thomas loss in his family. That aside, I truly believe that the Bulls are fully equipped and able to not only beat the Celtics but also make it to the Conference Finals against the Cavs. That alone would be scary.

The Bulls have Jimmy Butler, Dwayne Wade, and Rajon Rondo, all of which have been contenders, and champions in the past. They have alot of veteran leadership on this team between those 3 and that has been why they’ve been able to put together two great performances against the Celtics. Everybody forgot Wade has a playoff switch. I also don’t know why people try to write Rondo off as if he’s washed up. He’s the perfect pass-first point guard that many teams in the league need. It’s just he commands the ball and to be the centerpiece of your offense. That’s the only reason why many teams didn’t gamble on him. Collectively, I think they have enough to make it there. I think they can even matchup well against Washington. The Wizards would have to be on all cylinders and the Bulls would have to be flat on offense for them to put the Bulls away. What i’m noticing is that Wade, Rondo, and Butler have put their differences aside and have turned on playoff mode in order to succeed. They weren’t considered a threat to make the playoffs and now they’re the biggest threat out east. I don’t think I’m just speaking with excitement either. I’ve been watching them all season. They clicked at the perfect time and took it right into the Playoffs. Watch out.

Rambling Thought: Homing In On the Playoffs

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By: Opinionated MJ

The lay of the land currently has Detroit down 0-2. We’ve got heart and we will beat Cleveland. Home cooking is ours next! LeBron’s team showing life. I know what LeBron can do but what can his team do going forward?

I see Dwayne Wade is transforming into his old self. I predicted the Heat would meet and beat the Cavs in this playoff. I thought Charlotte would serve up better competition but the Heat are home. I believe in home court. It’s a reason why they play for it. Losing game 1 on your floor is the only possible problem.

Toronto has given me reason to believe that they can’t make it from just being in the playoffs, early rounds. I guess Stephen A. Smith is saying that DeRozan is gone to the Lakers. So who will follow? That could lead to all types of deals or maybe the Lakers then go draft a big man or Ben Simmons. I’ll go with my cousin on Simmons. I also think the Lakers will land the #1 pick. The league loves them and that’ll be their reward for themselves to find a way to keep relevance in L.A. post-Kobe. How else would they? Are the trio enough going into next year? I believe Randle, Russell, and Clarkson could have a future together.

Paul George has been playing big for the Pacers. Literally. I don’t think anyone has given any real attention to his ascension since Larry Bird wanted him to play the 4. Results for sure.

Boston is one player away. When will Danny Ainge trade some of his picks away to lure in a player? Carmelo to Boston by any chance? Could that be what Boston is missing or do they need more defensive wings to couple with Isiah Thomas?

Tom Thibodeau has become the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Look out league. KG ties into the defensive philosophy from the Boston Championship team. Could provide even more boosts to the grow of their young core. Expect them to make noise in the league next year and be like Utah from this season. Except, I actually expect PLAYOFFS from them. I’m a big fan of Thibs. Wonder if D-Rose for Ricky Rubio would work for both teams? They’re playing a good Atlanta team with some experience.

Does Mark Jackson actually land in Sacramento? Would that be a good fit? You’d think he’d need some shooters or change their philosophy to such. Wait, Seth Curry & Mark Jackson! STORY TO WATCH!

I’m a Lillard fan and I believe he will perform as always. He probably needs another option in case someone else deflates in some games. I see him making a huge push in the future with another piece. Durant? Dwight? DeRozan? Maybe not. Doesn’t have a ring to it. Maybe a rookie big man whose two-way abilities are already with him. Chris Paul is a monster and with Blake having had to watch while he was hurt, we all got to see who needs to dictate the Clippers offense. They need Blake just the same too. I’d like to see Portland’s home-stand.

The Spurs have an easy series. They will sweep. Nor am I worried about the Warriors. Sweep with or without Stephen Curry. The prospect of that is dangerous, if you see it how I do.

What exactly are KD & Russ going to do? It’s Russ’ team due to him being healthy with this new group of players acquired last year all while Kevin Durant was out with injury. Notched triple-doubles, massive scoring nights, facilitating, MVP consideration, almost a playoff berth, and learning his teammates and their spots. He’s racking assists cause he finds them in their hotspots directly from an offensive attack. KD must fit in more and become the Assassin always or we should begin to want Russell to take those big shots equally as well. This series is crazy. Dallas with a win going back home. This will definitely be some fun basketball. Quiet rivalry, in my opinion. I won’t be able to call this series til the 5th game. It’ll go 6.

Early Prediction: Warriors Vs Heat in Finals. Warriors in 6. Would be an amazing story for their team if they beat LeBron then Dwayne Wade for their back to back titles.

 

Just Another First Day In The NBA

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By: Opinionated MJ

Just another first day in the NBA. New season, new year, opening night (currently the Warriors are receiving their rings, Congrats!). I just experienced what could just be a rusty day in the NBA, or maybe not. Surprisingly, two teams came out victorious that I’m sure everyone would’ve bet against on this opening night. All the big media outlets have been turning a cold shoulder to teams like my Detroit Pistons and to the always competing Chicago Bulls. Tonight seemed to be a statement of sorts if we look at things progressively. You know, picking up where they left off.

Right now as I write, Steph Curry is already showing out and very efficiently! Which can take me right into the new playing style of the Bulls. I think they may have found themselves a two-man game with Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler and have parts around them like Gasol, Mirotic, and others that definitely make for great depth. Noah has been moved to the bench in favor of starting Gasol at center, at least for now. Gasol didn’t disappoint either as he blocked LeBron’s game tying attempt at the rim. Looks can be deceiving and people get too caught up nowadays in who’s getting along and who isn’t. Didn’t Kobe & Shaq win 3 titles “not getting along”?

Today I seen LeBron hobbled. I don’t we’re ready for that. Last year they were trying to say that he has taken a step back, but I never agreed. I don’t want to see LeBron injured cause that’s even more fuel for his die-hard fans to spew about him being 2-4 in the Finals. We swept the San Antonio series under the rug, everyone else said that the Golden State win was a fluke although Cleveland led 2-1, took home court and didn’t take care of home. No way can 67 wins be cut up as a fluke. It CANNOT. Enough blah blah, LeBron didn’t look 100% tonight but was still good for 25 & 10 rebounds. So much for that right? I still don’t think he’s taken a step back but I did look at him allow Jimmy Butler to go right past him a couple of times when he could’ve easily denied him. I also hope he’s not about to channel his inner Steve Nash by laying on the ground the rest of his playing career during games. I also hope he doesn’t get hit with those back issues that destroyed the rest of Tracy McGrady’s career in his prime. I do enjoy watching LeBron and being a Kobe fan, I’ve learned to appreciate different forms of greatness while it’s here and performing at elite levels. *Knocks on wood*

I also watched my young Pistons play a very defensive game against the Hawks… until the fourth quarter. It’s like the tide turned but I still came away very impressed with our newly minted 1-0 record. I’m used to seeing 0-1. I also seen a lot of bright spots like Caldwell-Pope making shots, Morris making shots and moving around in a way that seemed impossible for Greg Monroe to move. I seen a few good things from Reggie Jackson but I also seen him hold the ball too long a few times. It made it seem as if he wanted to be responsible for every converted play like he couldn’t live without being responsible for the assists. He’ll have to get over that individual mentality and not fall into selfishness if he’s to be a true help for this team. I’m sure Jennings will distribute when he returns. Drummond was an absolute rebounding BEAST! As far as the Hawks go, I think that alot of people see them as garbage because of them being swept by the Cavs in the east finals. I guess having injuries to their top 2 defenders didn’t matter though right? Nor did the Wizards losing John Wall for a couple games against the Hawks, huh? It only mattered when LeBron played the Warriors. Sure.

Exciting night with a few different looks from teams who seemed to be looking forward to a slump early on but actually look promising. It could be rust but this season we could see more of this with the East getting slightly better by growth and expansion for teams like the Wizards, Bucks, Heat, Pistons, and Raptors. We’re due some surprises. We could also expect to see more of the same out west with all of the sluggers getting better with San Antonio adding LMA to its rotation after allowing Tiago Splitter to walk. I expect to see it come down to Golden State, OKC with a driven KD & Russell and San Antonio. Everyone else has to prove it.

Early June Prediction: Warriors vs Cavs II, with the Heat & Thunder looking to steal those spots.