Categories: Basketball (NBA), 2011-12 NBA Predictions, 2012-13 NBA Predictions, 2013-14 NBA Predictions, Playoffs

05/22/12

2012 NBA Western Finals - Spurs vs Thunder

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-Digger's Daily-

The 2012 NBA Western Conference Finals is a battle between the conference old guard San Antonio Spurs vs up and coming Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Spurs complete team game has been nothing short of total domination during sweeps over the Clippers and Utah. San Antonio's style of play represents exactly how team basketball is to be played. All players are involved. All know their roles. On defense, team quickness, rebounding skills and man to man abilities stifle opposing shooters. The Spurs held LA and Utah to a 90/ppg average. On offense, it's all about ball control setting up shooters with high percentage shots. 102.5/ppg in 8 playoff games nets 12.5 +/- per game advantage. Sinking 49.1% from the floor and 42.3% beyond the arc. Tough to beat - especially during transition play.

Oklahoma City Thunder aren't slouches either. Their popularity is growing. I barely hear the name Oklahoma City as most identify this squad as OKC. Their style is completely different. Speed and jump shots dominate offensive plays. OKC is not the dominant inside team pounding the boards. They rely on quick action and long range shots. Playoff leading shooters/scorers are outsiders - SF Durant (26.7) plus both Guards Westbrook (24.1) and Harden (17.0).

Prediction: San Antonio is better balanced in all areas. Their swarming defense will not give OKC open looks for long range jumpers. Every shot will be contested favoring big differential in transition baskets. Spurs experience and precise game play provides a huge advantage. They haven't lost a game yet. And might not the rest of the way.
San Antonio sweeps 4 very close games.

02/17/12

New Yorker's Dare to Dream

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-Digger's Daily-

The first champions in 2012 are the NFL's New York Giants. Dare to dream? How about this little fact. New York teams all on fire or set to excel. Is it possible New York sports teams will bring home the perfecta? NFL-NHL-NBA-MLB titles all in the same year. Don't laugh it off too quickly...

New York Rangers (37-14-5) on pace to shatter franchise best record. They're feeling extremely confident after knocking off defending champion Bruins earlier this week. Overall team health is good too. This team is hungry. Only Boston stands in their way of winning the Eastern Conference in playoff hockey.

New York Knicks newest sensation - "Linderalla Man" (Jeremy Lin) - is quickly turning non-believers into playoff fever fans. Knicks fans are starving for playoff basketball. Knicks players starving for respect. There's only one way to get both - just win baby! Recent winning streak fueled by Lin kicked off a Big Apple media blitz. Knickerbockers stars out of action when streak began soon to return to active duty. Everything suddenly blooming in Madison Square Garden.

Baseball's winter months were kind to a retooled New York Yankees club sporting a greatly improved pitching staff. Newest starter Michael Pineda brings a strong arm to the Bronx Zoo. Throw in CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia and Ian Nova = healthy spring training battles and plenty of rotation depth for the first time in years. Aging lineup is ready for another run at World Series glory after getting bounced by Texas last season.

Add it all up and New York fans are having a great beginning to 2012. Dare to dream? Believers already getting caught up in New York fever!

02/11/12

Broadway's Newest Star: The Linderella Man

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-Digger's Daily-

New York's newest star is an unlikely hero. Jeremy Lin - a.k.a. "Linsanity", "Linderella", "The Linderella Man" - is lighting up opponents and energizing Madison Square Garden fans. Lin’s 89 points in his first three starts is the most by an NBA player since the merger in 1976-77.

Last night's performance vs LA Lakers - 38 points, 7 assists - brought everyone to their feat. The Knicks played without star starters Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire giving LA a distinct advantage heading into the contest. Or so they thought. Lin's performance set off a series of high five's and chest bumps throughout the contest. One great spin layup after another left Lakers players stunned on the court. By the time it was all over the Knicks cruised to a 92-85 home victory.

Kobe knows Lin - at least he does now after being clueless two night's ago. When interviewed before heading to New York, Kobe was asked about Lin's two previous breakout performances. He had now clue. After last night's game - players and fans from coast to coast know Jeremy Lin.

NFL had "Tebowing". NBA now has "Linning".

Lin was quoted after his latest thrilling game. "The journey was very different, tough at times, my family has been through a lot," he said, referring to getting cut by two teams and his several D-League stints. “It’s been an unbelievable journey. The whole last year and a half, the downs we had to go through. We’re just trying to enjoy everything and handle everything the right way." (NY Post).

How long can the ride last? All systems go for now. But, the word is out on this kid and opposing defenses will soon devise strategies to stifle Lin's recent surge. Not bad for an undrafted player from Harvard who bounced around from team tryout to team tryout before signing with Golden State in 2010. New York took a chance on Lin via waivers and it's been storybook ever since.

Welcome to the NBA Jeremy Lin. Broadway's lights are shining bright.

12/20/11

All World All Sports NBA 2011-12 Preview

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-Digger's Daily-

Short season on the way. Players still changing teams, negotiating new contracts and shaking off the rust from an extended work stoppage. Many were plenty put off once Commissioner Stern began cancelling games weeks at a time. How will fans react once the new season begins? Will they return in droves - or - driven away? Time will tell.

Crystal ball time. All World All Sports 2011-12 NBA forecast...

Eastern Conference
Atlantic
Boston Celtics
New York Knicks
Philadelphia 76ers
New Jersey Nets
Toronto Raptors
Central
Chicago Bulls
Detroit Pistons
Indiana Pacers
Milwaukee Bucks
Cleveland Cavs
Southeast
Miami Heat
Orlando Magic
Atlanta Hawks
Charlotte Bobcats
Washington Wizards

Western Conference
Northwest
Oklahoma City Thunder
Denver Nuggets
Portland Trailblazers
Utah Jazz
Minnesota Timberwolves
Pacific
LA Lakers
LA Clippers
Phoenix Suns
Golden State Warriors
Sacramento Kings
Southwest
Dallas Mavericks
San Antonio Spurs
Memphis Grizzlies
Houston Rockets
New Orleans Hornets

Champions: Boston Celtics

11/09/11

Scandals, Strikes & Fines

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-Digger's Daily-

It's been a week filled with ugly news coming from the sporting world. Shocking scandals ending a legendary coaching career, sickening NBA negotiating impasse and disgruntled NFL players reacting to another round of fines by Commissioner Goodall. What's next? Hopefully nothing else to shock our systems.

NCAA
Penn State's football program sent shock waves throughout America. The scoop is Paterno's former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, was charged over the weekend with 40 counts of molesting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009 through his charitable foundation The Second Mile (for at-risk youths). Also charged - in an apparent cover-up from 2002 - Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz for failing to notify authorities.

It's an ugly scandal. Legendary coach Joe Paterno is taking the news hard. Earlier this afternoon, Paterno announced his retirement effective at the end of this season.

"I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today," Paterno said in his statement.

"That's why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.

"This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more. My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this university."

This is a bitter pill to swallow. Brooklyn born Joe Paterno "JoePa" is one of the most respected men in all of sports. A walking legend and Hall of Fame coach compiling over 400 victories. This is no way for a man of his stature to retire. However, this scandal isn't going away any time soon. Paterno will forever second guess, and be questioned, for not contacting law enforcement when learning of Sandusky's conduct with a 10 year old boy years ago in Penn State football's shower facilities. He did notify Athletic Director Tim Curley the next day. Paterno was cleared of wrong doing. But - On November 7, Pennsylvania state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said that though Paterno and others may have fulfilled their legal obligation to report suspected abuse, "somebody has to question about what I would consider the moral requirements for a human being that knows of sexual things that are taking place with a child," and that, "I think you have the moral responsibility, anyone. Not whether you're a football coach or a university president or the guy sweeping the building. I think you have a moral responsibility to call us" (from CBSSports.com).

Sandusky's story is certain to get uglier before it gets any better. Many will fall from ranks within Penn State. Stay tuned, more to follow.

NBA
What will it take for NBA owners and players to finally settle their differences? Caught in the cross fire are plenty of non-millionaire pay me more money non-players. Street vendors, parking attendants, concession stand employees, ushers, ticket takers, local transportation, restaurants, hotels and right on down the line. Wake up folks! Commissioner Stern has been slammed by pro-union media types. Owners called "Plantation owners" by NBAPA's executive director Billy Hunter (who seems less than honest in media dealings). 133 days of lockouts now threatens the entire NBA season for the first time in league history.
Hey players - when is enough enough? The world is burning. Finances of millions in ruins. The players holding out for more - despicable. Let's face it, next round (season) of tickets from arena to arena will skyrocket. Average families, already snake-bit by rising costs of everything from heat to milk, will now bear the burden of lining pockets of individuals least in need. I, for one, am fed up with sports labor negotiations. Days of owners taking advantage of players are long since over. Nowadays, it's clearly the other way around.

NFL
The Steelers have been fined 13 times for more than $182,000 this season for questionable tackles. Their latest fine has one player mighty miffed. NFL leveled a $40K fine against safety Ryan Clark and he's lashing out at Commissioner Goodall. NFL has levied many fines this season with the goal of curtailing head to head tackles which often lead to concussions. Players all know if they intentionally launch helmet first into another players helmet - a heavy fine is coming. However, during the natural course of a game, head to head hits will happen and aren't always intentional. In most cases, it's not intentional but NFL hands out fines nonetheless.
I suspect it's difficult to determine players intentions beyond clearly obvious launching hits. Defensive players around the league have become a bit miffed at Goodall's fines. How is a player to avoid helmet to helmet contact when players on offense often lower their heads a split second before a tackle is made. The original intent of fining players was for protection from clear helmet leading tackles. Not so anymore.

All Pro LB Ray Lewis:

"You can't stop playing defense the way defense has always been created to play," Lewis said. "When the receiver has the ball, your job is to disengage him from the ball. You never want to hurt nobody. I've been in this business too long. I just think once you start getting into these fines I don't know how they come up with the numbers most of the time."

It's time for the NFL to refine their system. Protecting player safety is always of utmost concern. But, let us not lose sight of the fact football is a dangerous game. There's a certain amount of risk on every single play. NFL needs to find a better way of determining avoidable hits from unavoidable hits - something they've yet to figure out.

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