Archive for the ‘Blake Griffin’ Category

The 2012-13 NBA season has concluded and the playoffs are on the near horizon.

Here are the Western Conference first round series:

(1) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (8) Houston Rockets

(2) San Antonio Spurs vs (7) LA Lakers

(3) Denver Nuggets vs (6) Golden State Warriors

(4) LA Clippers vs (5) Memphis Grizzlies

Breakdown and Predictions

(1) Thunder vs (8) Rockets:

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Almost one full year removed from the Thunder’s defeat at the hands of the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder stand as the top contender and No. 1 seed in the Western Conference entering the 2013 playoffs.

Arguably, the biggest off-season move made in 2012 was the Thunder’s trade of James Harden to the Houston Rockets, after failing to reach an agreement to extend the sixth-man-of-the-year’s contract.

Harden has proven himself among the NBA’s elite, ranking fifth in points per game over the season at 25.9. On an interestingly ironic side-note, Harden scored a career-high 46 points against the Thunder Feb. 20th 2013.

The Rockets may need four of those games from Harden in order to pull out a series victory though.

The Thunder won the regular season series against the Rockets 2-1. Without any player capable of shutting down Kevin Durant, Houston will need to score 125 points a game this series to compete. I can see that happening possibly once at home, but that’s it.

Prediction – Thunder win series 4-1

(2) Spurs vs (7) Lakers:

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There’s something about this series that screams “coin toss.”

A month ago, this match-up would likely have been dubbed an “easy sweep” for the Spurs. However, with the Lakers winning five straight games entering the postseason and the Spurs losing seven of their last ten, LA isn’t looking quite as outmatched.

Even without Kobe Bryant (out with Achilles injury), the Lakers have had success shooting the ball and big men, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, have been solid.

The coin flip aspect of this series, I feel, stems from the feeling that both the Spurs’ bad recent play and the Lakers’ stellar recent play are both anomalies, that could swap back at any time.

Only because I think it would be humorous to see the Lakers advance without the help of Kobe Bryant, will I give the Lakers the benefit of the doubt.

Prediction – Lakers win series 4-3

(3) Nuggets vs (6) Warriors:

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With two of the up-and-coming teams in the West, this series between Denver and Golden State may be the most high-flying and action-packed.

Both the Nuggets and Warriors average over 100 points per game. Alternately, they both allow over 100 points per game, so prepare for some classic offensive battles.

Heading the Warriors’ offense will be rising star Stephen Curry, who just broke Ray Allen’s single season 3 point field goal record. Leading Denver will be Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, and Corey Brewer.

Denver won the regular season series 3-1 with the lone loss coming on the road 106-105. I anticipate similar results.

Prediction – Denver wins series 4-1

(4) Clippers vs (5) Grizzlies:

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This series is an intriguing one in that the L.A. Clippers are the poster children for in-your-face, highlight-reel style basketball, while the Memphis Grizzlies are the prototype for flying under the radar with consistency and defense.

The Grizzlies are first in the NBA in points allowed at just 89.4 points per game allowed. I doubt the Clippers will worry much as they tend to gravitate towards the high percentage shots (A.K.A. the alley oop)

Memphis has their work cut out for them. We’ll see if they can use their size and defense to slow the game and make the Clippers beat them with range. I expect they will.

Prediction – Clippers win series 4-2

There you have it. Enjoy the Western Conference first round match-ups.

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Winning in the NBA, when all is said and done, comes down to really only 2 things; match-ups and depth. I can prove it with a little formula I thought of for the All-Star game. To show a correlation between a team’s representation in the All-Star game and its place in the rankings, I’ve created a simple point system. 5 points per starter a team has and 3 points per reserve. The rankings worked out in this order.

East:

1. Miami Heat – 13 points (2 Starters: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, 1 Reserve: Chris Bosh)

2. Boston Celtics – 12 points (4 Reserves: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen)

3. Atlanta Hawks – 6 points (2 Reserves: Joe Johnson and Al Horford)

4. Chicago Bulls – 5 points (1 Starter: Derek Rose)

– Orlando Magic – 5 points (1 Starter: Dwight Howard)

– New York Knicks – 5 points (1 Starter: Amar’e Stoudemire)

West:

1. LA Lakers – 8 points (1 Starter: Kobe Bryant 1 Reserve: Pau Gasol)

– OK City Thunder – 8 points (1 Starter: Kevin Durant 1 Reserve: Russell Westbrook)

3. San Antonio Spurs – 6 points (2 Reserves: Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili)

4. New Orleans Hornets – 5 points (1 Starter: Chris Paul)

5. Denver Nuggets – 5 points (1 Starter: Carmello Anthony)

6. Dallas Mavericks – 3 points (1 Reserve: Dirk Nowitzki)

7. Utah Jazz – 3 points (1 Reserve: Deron Williams)

8. LA Clippers – 3 points (1 Reserve: Blake Griffin)

9. Minnesota Timerwolves – 3 points (1 Reserve: Kevin Love)

First, let’s look at the East. Aside from the fact that the Heat and Celtics are currently 2nd and 1st in the actual current standings, respectively, this point system loosely reflects the standings of the top 6 teams in the Eastern Conference standings to date.

The Western Conference is a little more spread out, talent-wise. The team with the conference’s worst record is even represented with a reserve player (Kevin Love). However, the point rings true as all 3 top teams in the conference, San Antonio, Dallas and Los Angeles are all represented by 2 All-Stars, while the remaining 6 All-Stars are lone team selections.

I’m sure this same formula could be applied when the Lakers were boasting both Kobe and Shaq as All-Star starters back when they were winning 3 titles in a row. Nothing has changed. Only the names and faces.

When you hear LA, NBA, and king, you would sooner think of Kobe Bryant before Blake Griffin. I agree. Kobe has 5 championship rings, all with the LA Lakers. Blake Griffin is playing in his rookie year.

I say King of LA in comparison of course to LeBron James. I wrote an article a week or so ago about which of the two(Griffin or James) had the more impressive highlight reel. Watching Blake Griffin play basketball will remind you of LeBron‘s style. Griffin stands 2 inches taller than LeBron at 6’10” and can jump unlike anyone besides “King James”.

Griffin has averaged 22.8 points per game and 12.9 rebounds per game through his first 44 games as a pro. James averaged 20.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG through his rookie year. Granted, LeBron was 18 years old his rookie year, 4 years younger than Griffin this year. Griffin is by far the rookie of the year and possibly even MVP.

LeBron has already seen his numbers take a hit at the cost of playing with 2 other NBA stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. It’s unlikely that Kobe will win the MVP this year either as his Lakers have slowed a step or two since last season. Dirk Nowitzki and Derek Rose are competitors for the title thus far as well, but one thing is for sure, Blake Griffin is the real deal and as long as he can stay healthy (he missed his “would be” rookie year in ’09-’10 season with a knee injury), he has the potential to not only win the MVP this season but be dominant in the NBA for a long time.

The could-be “trump card” that Griffin holds over all other MVP candidates this year is that Nowitzki and Rose types all have good to great supporting casts. Griffin, does not. Griffin’s pure talent has earned him his numbers. His play-making and sharp-shooting abilities are phenomenal.

Like LeBron, Griffin uses his size and athleticism to overpower and just plain outwork the opposition.

Griffin deserves all the praise and attention he has received so far and if the Clippers can draft or trade for some promising players, who knows? Maybe the Clippers can become the ’06-’10 Cavaliers of the West