NBA Finals Preview and Prediction

Why the Warriors will win.

They are the Warriors.  While I am going to get more into why I think they can win the facts are that they are the two-time defending champions.  They have the two best shooters in the NBA, Draymond Green has returned to form, cementing their legacy as the greatest basketball dynasty since the Bulls of the mid-90’s. 

The Warriors that are able to play are well rested after a four game sweep of the Portland Trailblazers.  Even without Boogie Cousins and Kevin Durant the Warriors should they were a superior team shooting the lights out against a Portland team that seemed to run out of steam after two hard fought early round series against the Thunder and the Nuggets.  The story of the series though was the reemergence of the Splash Brothers both having defining moments in the series.  Steph Curry showed the world that he is still the engine that runs the machine averaging 36.5 PPG and shooting a ridiculous 47% from the field.  

The Warriors will most likely be without Durant for a large portion of this series but they have rediscovered themselves during the Western Conference Finals.  They remember what it’s like to be hungry.  The game plan will be obvious against the Raptors, force Kawhi to give up the ball and make the formally playoff refugee Kyle Lowry make big shots.  The Warriors will most likely play small if Demarcus Cousins is unable to play forcing the Raptors to take Marc Gasol off the floor and running with an inconsistent Serge Ibaka as a small lineup center.  While the Raptors can play fast they won’t be able to stay with the speed of the Warriors, fall down early and that will be it. 

Why the Raptors will win.

The Raptors made a move in the offseason that potentially could cause the entire franchise to begin a rebuild after the 2019 season.  Picking up Kawhi Leonard was a gamble.  That gamble has paid off getting over the hump in the Eastern Conference on the back of their free agent to be. 

Leonard has excelled as a member of the Raptors while also elevating the play of the players around him.  Pascal Siakiam will most likely take home the NBA Most Improved Player Award, while Kyle Lowry has discovered how to win in the playoffs thanks to the KLAW. 

The Raptors have the perfect player to lead them into battle against the “evil” dynasty Golden State Warriors.  Kawhi Leonard never lets his emotions get in the way of his game, something that can’t be said for many previous contenders to the crown.  The Raptors also feature by far the best defense that the Warriors have played so far in the playoffs. If the Raptors get a lead like the Blazers they will have the defense to take control of the game.  Sure Steph Curry is going to get his but they rest of the Warriors will not.  Golden State will need the services of Kevin Durant or this series is going to “The North”.

My Prediction:

No Durant means big problems for the Warriors.  No home court means big problems for the Warriors.  Kawhi Leonard means big problems for the Warriors. 

This series is going to be tougher than people think for the Warriors without Kevin Durant.  I am going to go with the underdog.  Raptors in 7.

NBA DFS 1.28.19

PG: Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers, $7,400 Williams is going to be popular in this matchup against the fast paced Hawks.  Fast pace and a player paying at a high level makes for big points.  Beverly is cheaper and will get his minutes but Williams is the more certain player for points. SG: Bojan Bogdanovic, Indiana Pacers, $5,600 Bojan is quietly having a solid season.With the injury to Oladipo points will be at a premium for Pacers guards.  Bojan will be looking to shoot and shoot a lot. Collison will be the chalkier play but don’t under estimate Bojan in this matchup. SF: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors, $9,400 No Draymond Green will open up the floor for Durant to be more of a playmaker.  With Boogie Cousins still on a bit of a minute restriction I am looking for Durant to not only supply points tonight but also rebounds.  Double-double should be a guarantee. PF: Dwayne Dedmon, Atlanta Hawks, $5,500 Only the Suns give up more points to centers then the Los Angeles Clippers.  Stacking the Hawks bigs, (John Collins will be chalky) seems like the best play of the night.  Dedmon will be a big matchup problem for the Clips, he has a low price and even higher upside. C: Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers, $7,100 Harrell is a fantasy monster. The Clippers already play at a fast pace and it will only get faster tonight against the defenseless Hawks.  Harrell’s price is a bit more than I would like but he is still a solid play at a mid-range price. G: Trey Burke, New York Knicks, $4,200 Injuries to Frank Ntilkina and Emanual Mudiay open up minutes for bothTrey Burke and Alonzo Trier.  Burke should get the start as well as the points. He is high-risk high-reward.  Hornets give up the 12th most points to PG’s. F: Dom Sabonis, Indiana Pacers, $6,600 Love centers versus the Warriors. Sabonis also has no problem running the floor if the pace quickens.  Similar to the Bojan play, there are points to be had for the Pacer and Sabonis will be there to take them. UTIL: Malik Beasley, Denver Nuggets, $4,200 No Murray tonight for the Nuggets.  With the return of Will Barton and Gary  Harris, most will stay away from Beasley.  Could be a nice play if he gets a\ large chunk of the Murray minutes.

NBA DFS Picks- December 27

Unlike most in the DFS world I really enjoy a smaller slate. Five gamers allow you go play a stars and scrubs lineup and have a great chance to win. You can highlight a few players you want to watch. Here are the picks for tonights slate.

PG: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors ($8,900)

I am drawn to a Warriors stack after the embarasment from Christmas night. The Blazers have been underwhelming to say the least and have a serious issues guarding the three. Damian Lillard on the other end seems like a solid play but I am going heavy Warriors tonight.

SG: Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers ($5,800)

No Lebron, this becomes Ingrams team again whether the fans want it or not.

SF: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors ($9,300)

I reference my Steph Curry reasoning.

PF: Noah Vonleh, New York Knicks ($5,600)

Vonleh seems to be the only matchup the Knicks have against Giannis. He has played like the player people thought he would be coming out of Indiana. Vonleh also just put up 36 points on Christmas day against the same Bucks team he is playing tonight. Low cost for a solid matchup.

C: Ivica Zubac, Los Angeles Lakers ($5,400)

This pick could change depending on the health of Javale McGee, no matter what Zubac has been very impressive when given time to play. Centers versus Kings are also always a solid play.

G: Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers ($5,500)

Ball is a similar play to Zubac. With Rondo out he will be the primary point guard. Again PG’s versus Kings is also a solid play on most nights.

F: Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics ($4,700)

Not gonna lie this one is a wildcard pick against a poor Houston defense. Hayward has been streaky all season, but brings multiple potential options for points. Hayward has been consistent with 25 minutes per game and could have a couple of nice matchups in this one.

UTL: Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings ($4,800)

Bjelica is a solid player and the Kings will need to use their bench playing back to back games.

I will look to make changes based on injuries. Also may look to stack more Kings/Lakers players. Want to stick with Durant and Curry as my star plays.

Don’t Blame Boogie

Unless you live under a rock you probably saw that DeMarcus Cousins has signed with the Golden State Warriors.  The 4-time All-Star joins the two time defending champions creating arguably the best lineup in the history of the NBA.  In the eyes of most fans the NBA title was wrapped up before the end of most teams first summer league games.  Outrage broke out in the social media community ridiculing the Warriors and especially Boogie Cousins for his choice to join the dynasty that has ruled the NBA for the last four years. The world can be as mad as they choose at DeMarcus Cousins but he is not to blame for this situation, NBA GM’s have to be given the blame for the way this situation worked out.  Don’t blame Boogie for making the best choice for himself.  Look at you team’s front office.

One of my greatest pet peeves is when I am drafting a fantasy team whether it is football, baseball or any other sport.  You hear another person yell “I was gonna take him” after you make a pick.  I always say the same thing to that person, if you were going to take him then you should have with your first pick.  DeMarcus Cousins was a free agent, 29 other teams had the chance to make their offers to the skilled big man but they didn’t want to commit their money to him.  Whether it was his injury or his locker room history, Cousins was not looked at as a cornerstone piece deserving of a mutli-year contract.  Cousins, one of two players ever to average 25 PPG, 10RPG, 5APG, 1.5BPG, 1.5SPG, the other  being Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, thought he was a high level player that deserved a max contract.  But when teams thought they could low ball him he decided to turn the table on them.  Instead of allowing front offices to have control he took it upon himself to control the outcome.

The Warriors are the lucky recipients of a market that undervalued a great asset.  Cousins achillies injury could hold him out of the start of the season, by signing with the Warriors he will not need to rush back. He will be able to make sure he is fully healthy before returning and for once not watch his team fall out of a playoff hunt.  Those who question whether Cousins is hurting his chances of getting a max deal because his numbers will most likely take a dive during the 2018 season are not taking into account that this move is more of a public relations decision rather then a professional one.  The former Kentucky big man skills have never been questioned, his ability in the block is second to none, but teams worry about his ability to keep his head straight, front office personal have labeled him as a “cancer”.  Playing with the personalities that the Warriors have will be a great test to see what kind of a person he is.

Adding a fifth All-Star to an already dominate team is scary for the NBA.  I argue that watching greatness is what I look for when I watch the NBA. The only thing better than greatness is seeing David conquer Goliath.  Now the entire NBA is David, the ratings to watch the potential upset will be earth shattering.  There is always the chance that the mix of talents doesn’t work.  Just ask Karl Malone and Gary Payton what happens when you try and make a super team and it doesn’t work out.  There will be more pressure then ever on this Warriors team.  If they don’t win a championship their legacy will be forever tarnished.  This will make blowing a 3-1 lead in the finals look like losing an AAU season game.

I will admit that seeing DeMarcus Cousins signed a 1-year 5.3Million dollar deal with the best team in the world was deflating as an NBA fan.  Blaming Cousins for this is not fair to him.  If he signed with Boston would they not be the clear favorites in the East making that conference all but pointless?  Everyone can have their own opinion but this was a mistake made front offices that they will regret for the upcoming season.  It will be a nice learning experience for everyone.

NBA Finals Pick

The world seems bothered by the fourth straight matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. As the twitter world screams for diversity I am intrigued by this matchup.   I am intrigued because this could be the potential defining moment for a player and a team.

If the Cavaliers win Lebron James will have his first true argument that he is truly the greatest player ever to play the game.  The Cavaliers currently sit as one of the biggest underdogs in 15 years heading into the finals. Gone is Kyrie Irving — he averaged 29.4 points per game in last year’s series— and the role players that Cleveland brought in have mostly been flops. Rodney Hood has been relegated to the bench, and Jordan Clarkson has shot 30.6 percent from the field in the playoffs. Larry Nance Jr. has been effective as an energy guy off the bench, and George Hill has been a solid starter, though he’s been inconsistent. Others returning players from the 2017 Cavaliers team have been a shell of their former selves.  Kyler Korver, Tristan Thompson and JR Smith bring finals experience but other they will have to play vital roles to have a chance to pull off this epic upset.

If the Warriors can pull off their third championship in four years they can cement themselves as a dynasty.  This is not the same Warriors team the cruised into the finals in 2017 at 12-0. Kevin Durant has been has not been the dominant MVP of last season.  He has averaged 29.0 points, but his postseason shooting has been all-too human, at 47.9 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from the 3-point line. Don’t discount the importance of Durant’s defense, either, especially if Andre Iguadola’s leg contusion keeps him sidelined. Iguodala usually gets the lion’s share of LeBron duties when these teams collide, but Durant could be one of the primary options if Iggy can’t go. The Warriors will also have an interesting matchup for Steph Curry against veteran George Hill.  Hill surprisingly has a 10-4 career record against Curry while also holding a better shooting percentage in those matchups.  If Curry does struggle the Warriors will have to look to their other two All- Stars Draymond Green and Klay Thompson to take on bigger roles.

This matchup has a clear advantage for the Warriors.  They have the depth and star power to sweep this series.  But there has almost been a sense of overconfidence for the Warriors all season.  When the Warriors struggle they let it effect their emotions.  Durant will most likely be taking on the task of holding down the force that is Lebron James.  If he struggles to do so, will that effect his offensive game?  This Warriors team also lacks the proven depth of the past. Relying on Kevin Looney, Quinn Cook and Swaggy P to provide solid minutes off the bench is a serious question mark.

This is the finals everyone expected to see. It is easy to say the Warriors will sweep with ease.  But let’s not jump to conclusions until the games are played.  Lebron has had a chance to rest for a few days and his legacy is on the line.  I think he can carry them to at least one victory.  I would consider myself a Lebron hater, but that does not mean I do not respect the game that masterful performances I have seen in these playoffs.  The Cavaliers do not have the depth to compete with the historically talented Warriors but I am excited to see how this series plays out.

 Warriors in 5