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MoNeYBaLL Podcast, Ep 11: Playoff Preview/LeBron Standard Pt. 2

Featuring NilClassic & Opinionated MJ

Playoff Pod

Covering our opinions on they playoffs, the LeBron NBA Standard, and more!

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.

 

Wanna Bet? Cavs WILL NOT Make the Finals This Year…

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By: Opinionated MJ

 

Yeah I said it. The Cleveland Cavaliers WILL NOT make it to this years NBA Finals. I don’t see it right now. Of course, I’m human, I could be wrong but I’m believing what I’m seeing right now from their team and that isn’t much. My thoughts all stem from their behavior with the media and from their leader, LeBron James. It isn’t the behaviors of a contending team. This team is doomed to fail unless they hit a hot streak over the last 15 games of the season and win their last 13 of 15 games on the way to the playoffs. Even if that happens, there is still a level of trust and chemistry that has to be built in order to be able to execute precise plans on teams in the playoffs where every game becomes a chess match.

There’s not enough time to fix this and I’ve been watching some of the Cavs games this season and I must admit that I don’t “feel” their presence when they play other teams. Last year they were very imposing when I watched them play other teams. This season, those same teams have certainly grown and aren’t scared of LeBron or playing like they believe the Cavs are the superior team. It’s not going to take much to knock Cleveland off in my honest opinion but there’s still dealing with LeBron James at the head of this monster. HE can operate WITHOUT Kevin Love & Kyrie Irving. I’ll talk about that in another post. Right now, I’ll speak in respect to what I think could get Cleveland back. Sorry Coach Lue, but here’s my plan.

  • Make LeBron the primary PG (not point-forward) and put Kyrie at the 2, ASAP! Let LeBron set the pace and let Kyrie be a somewhat 1st option scoring.
  • Have Kevin Love as a facilitator/scorer type like Pau Gasol was on the Lakers. Place him at the elbows like they planned but let the offense RUN THROUGH HIM! This puts him in position to move into post position and kick to a slashing LeBron or Kyrie, drop in to Mozgov/Thompson, or pass to one of those old shooters they’ve got sitting around on their bench. This would also allow Kevin to work with the bench unit. He’d help them succeed often.
  • Play LeBron off the ball more to begin sets because he’s a bigger threat off the ball. He can bring it up the floor and look for a quick score or get it to Kevin. I just think of how the Spurs play him when he’s handling the ball. When the playoffs come around, he’ll see more teams honing in on him to try to destroy anything the Cavs can do.
  • Make Kyrie pass the ball more times than not OR make him run with the second unit more often. Again, LeBron can run this team alone.

The Cavs are more defensive without Kevin & Kyrie. I highly doubt they would’ve held a slower burning candle to the Warriors in the playoffs with those two on the floor. Maybe the focus of last year and momentum would’ve upheld them and forced a game 7, but we still would’ve had the same outcome. I think there are a few REAL threats and a few darkhorse threats to the Cavs in the postseason. ALL of 2-8 is a threat. The REAL threats are the Heat, Raptors and Celtics. The darkhorse threats are Chicago, Detroit, Indiana, and Charlotte. I won’t put Atlanta in this conversation cause they have yet to honestly be a true threat without having a defensive wing like Demarre Carroll there any longer, he’s a Raptor now. I’ll keep this short, if the playoffs started today, the Cavs would be bounced in round 2 by the Heat. Yeah, I said that too!