With game 4 of the NBA finals approaching and the Lakers leading the Miami Heat in the series 2-1 this is not unfamiliar territory for LeBron winning every series this postseason in no more than 5 games.
But will this series be any different?
A very young and hungry Heat look to dethrone the King as an 8 point underdog going into game 4.
Although the Heat was able to contain the Lakers offense game 3 holding Anthony Davis to 15 points 5 rebounds and LeBron to 26 points, will they be able to mustard up that same energy with Bam moved to questionable out with a neck injury and Dragic doubtful with his foot?
Both players have played key roles in the Miami Heat’s success this season.
Giving Jimmy Butler has been playing lights out and with the emergence of the 13th overall pick young star Tyler Herro out of Kentucky some have room believe that they can pull off the upset, but this is the NBA Finals. They are facing LeBron James.
Some will make the argument that these young players have somewhat of an advantage with no fans because it minimizes the pressure of the Finals with no boos, no hecklers, no disappointing aura from the crowd after missing a big shot.
On the other hand, LeBron in year 17 has had his most efficient season as a pro and has been capping off certain goat arguments.
Some analysts have gone as far as saying Anthony Davis compliments LeBron more than any other teammate in his career.
That includes D-wade, Kyrie Irving, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love, Shaq, Ray Allen, and arguably many more.
How will the Laker bounce back from their game 3 loss?
Was it just a minor hiccup or will the Miami Heat come out swinging with hail marry haymakers punch the Lakers in the mouth steal all the momentum and tie the series 2-2 going into game five?
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The 2019 NBA draft is viewed mostly as a 3 player draft. I tend to disagree. In terms of star potential, it isn’t the strongest, but could be a solid draft looking back five years from now when evaluating the best role players in the league.
Players in the mid to late first round could turn out to be strong contributors at the next level. I took the liberty of listing out my top 40 prospects of this draft. A lot of players, later on, have a good amount to be excited about. With the Cavs holding a late first round pick, this list might give some clarity on the options on the table at 26.
#1 – Zion Williamson – PF Duke Comp: Uber athletic Julius Randle
Jumpshot a big question mark
Frame may be an issue (285 lbs)
#2 – Ja Morant – PG Murray State Comp: John Wall / Russell Westbrook
Dynamic Playmaker (10apg)
Improved Shooter (30%-37% Fr-Soph)
Good Finisher at the rim
Still needs to improve as a shooter
#3 – RJ Barrett – SG/SF Duke Comp: Zach Lavine / Victor Oladipo
Good Size (6’7 202)
Solid Playmaker (4.3apg)
Can find his own shot
Defensive potential with athleticism and length
Inconsistent shooter (30.8% 3pt)
Needs to Improve decision making (Led NCAA in charges)
#4 – Jarrett Culver – SG/SF Texas Tech Comp: Andrew Wiggins / Harrison Barnes
Strong finisher, doesn’t shy away from contact
Can shoot off the dribble
Solid defender already, with potential to be elite due to frame and athleticism
Not an elite ball handler
Jump shot mechanics inconsistent
Struggled against elite collegiate competition.
#5 – Cam Reddish – SF Duke Comp: Paul George
Silky, repeatable jumpshot
Smooth game, passes the eye test
Solid ball handler
Glides to the rim
Great Size (6’8 7foot wingspan) / dynamic athlete
Can pull up from anywhere
Can handle the ball on pick and roll
Showed glimpses of brilliance, but also like he didn’t belong on court
Disappeared at times
Bad finishing at the rim when met with contact
#6 – Darius Garland – PG Vanderbilt Comp: Damian Lillard
Elite Pull Up Shooter extended out to three point range(48%3pt)
Can create own shot or play off the ball, running off screens
Creative moves in the lane
Not an imposing presence, does not play above rim
Struggles at the rim against length/size
Not an elite passer (13 assists to 15 turnovers)
Small Sample Size
#7 DeAndre Hunter – SF Virginia Comp: Bojan Bogdanovic / Robert Covington
Can Defend up to 3 maybe even 4 positions
Can move to a stretch 4 when needed
3 and D ability makes him a contributor right away
Low Ceiling, what you see is what you get
Good Size but not the best athlete
Slow First step
Not a dependable isolation scorer
#8 Bol Bol – C Oregon Comp: Unicorn
Ridiculous length (7’2 with 7’8 wingspan)
Knock down shooter (52%3pt)
Great handle for size
Weakside shot blocker (2.7bpg)
Quick first step
Finishes at the rim
Pick and Pop/roll guy
Measured in at 208 lbs!!!
Questions about consistent effort and commitment to the game
Won’t be strong enough to handle legit centers at next level
Foot injury not a good sign
Super talented, but too risky to be taken in the lottery
#9 Coby White – PG North Carolina Comp: Collin Sexton / Eric Bledsoe
Great finisher around the rim
Solid shooter, off catch and off dribble (35%3pt)
Broke Jordans freshman scoring record
Elite height, Great athlete
At his best in open space
Furthest thing from a reliable playmaker
Not consistent scorer (42% FG)
19% turnover rate in fast break scenarios
Still learning how to contribute in half court
Lack of length and interest will limit his defensive ability
Negative Wingspan, small hands
#10 Sekou Doumbouya – PF France Comp: Jerami Grant / Al Farouq-Aminu
Great Athlete / Size (6’9)
Great in transition, can handle the ball or run on wings
Glides around the court, can possibly defend 1-4
Can stretch the floor with 3 pt range
Solid Shotblocker, plays passing lanes very well
Youngest player in the draft (18 years old)
Wildly inconsistent with effort
Although jumpshot has improved, still needs work
Not a good passer. Finished with more turnovers than assists
Not the best feel for the game, should improve with time
#11 Jaxson Hayes – C Texas Comp: Jarrett Allen / JaVale McGee
Long (nearly 7 foot with 7’3 wingspan)
Crazy athlete, easily beats other bigs down court
Bouncy, fast first jump and more importantly second jump
Super accurate down low, shot 73 % from the field, good hands+soft touch
Has size, length, and instinct to be a dominant defensive presence. Second best shot blocker among prospects(2.2 bpg)
Had issues with foul trouble (6 fouls per 40 minutes)
Needs to develop as a prolific rebounder
Needs to add Muscle, slender frame (around 225)
#12 Nassir Little – SF North Carolina Comp: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist / OG Annunoby
This NBA postseason has been unlike any other I have experienced in my 34 years. Not just because the Cavs dominated the number one seed Celtics, but they dominated in a historic manner. A 50 point lead at half time in the Eastern Conference finals is bad enough, but now the defending champion Cavs are on the verge of being swept by a Warriors team that is 15-0 so far in the playoffs this year.
Parody has been an issue in the NBA for quite a few years. The West has been seen as quite a bit better than the East, really since the Michael Jordan Bulls run came to an end. Now I am not going to get into the ridiculous game of comparing teams from different eras like the mainstream sports media loves to do, but history is important to keep in mind.
Lets take a look at a list of NBA Champions since the Bulls run of six championships in 1998…
2009- Lakers (West)
2017-Warriors lead 3-0 (West)
Lets be honest, without LeBron James’ Miami teams, the East may have 3 of the last 12. LeBron James has been in the last seven finals representing the East, with the Cavs and Warriors playing in the last three.
This is the first time two teams are meeting three years in a row, and normally this wouldn’t be a bad thing with no team winning in consecutive years, but the Warriors addition of Kevin Durant changes things.
The Cavs and Warriors was a fairly evenly matched contest the first two years. The Warriors won in 2015 with the Cavs missing Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, and the Cavs won in 2016 coming back from a 3-1 deficit, the first team to ever do so.
Enter Kevin Durant…
The 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player (Giving the Warriors the last 3 between Durant and Steph Curry) in the middle of his prime gets added to a team that won a record 73 games in 2016.
In 2011 commissioner David Stern blocked a three team trade that would have sent Chris Paul from the then New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers. Granted the league had control of the Hornets at that time, so Stern used that as the reason as to why he blocked the trade, but in the interest of parody, the commissioner could have done something…anything to stop Durant from joining the Warriors. Durant was a free agent, not getting traded, but I can’t see any of the leagues other owners objecting to something being done.
So where does all of this leave us now? The Warriors will likely sweep through the playoffs being the first team to go 16-0, and will in all likelihood dominate the NBA for the foreseeable future. We could see the Warriors in six or seven consecutive finals, potentially winning the next three or four easily. The Warriors are making the team that dominated the East look like a D-League team.
The only way I see the Warriors being stopped is by the Cavs doing something drastic. I am a Cleveland fan so obviously I want to see the Cavs do well, but they are already paying more luxury tax than anyone ever, so what can they really do?
Dan Gilbert has some very tough questions to ask himself this offseason. He can’t continue to pay all this luxury tax on a team that got swept out of the playoffs, so he can either break up the team, or get better. Much better.
LeBron gave Cleveland a second chance, so lets hope Gilbert doesn’t decide to break up this team and rebuild. He will have to make some tough roster decisions, like possibly parting with Love or maybe even Irving, but for all of Cleveland’s sake he cant give up. Dan Gilbert isn’t a quitter, and Cleveland doesn’t quit, so I think this will be an exciting offseason.
Having two teams dominate isn’t great, but it is better then just having one team run all over the rest of the league.
Check out more posts from Jay Alan at JayAlan.Wordpress.com.