Fighting For That 8th Spot

8th spotBy Stefan Anderson

The NBA Playoffs are less than ten games away and teams are still fighting for the remaining spots left for postseason, and it makes everything a little more interesting. Let’s take a look at the race for the eighth and final spot in.

In the Western Conference, Oklahoma City appears to have a grip on the final spot with a current three game lead over New Orleans. The Thunder should be able to hold on with the superior play of Russell Westbrook, who has no plans on slowing down anytime soon, especially with the loss of Kevin Durant for the remainder of the season.

But in the East, on the other hand has a real jigsaw, with a game and a half separating four teams; Brooklyn, Charlotte, Indiana and the current 8-seed Boston. With 8 games remaining these four teams will have no choice but to leave everything on the floor.

The road will not be easier for any of the teams as each one of these teams face 5 playoff teams in their remaining 8 games.

However, Charlotte has the best the opportunity to control their own destiny as they have an head to head with Indiana on April 3rd, and face higher seeds like Toronto and Atlanta who can look to rest their starters to gear up for the postseason.

Indiana, despite last night loss to Brooklyn still has a stretch where they have to face Boston, Charlotte, Miami followed by the Knicks and the Pistons. If the Pacers could find a way to take 3 or more wins could play a big part to conquer the 8th seed.

Brooklyn has the toughest schedule out of the four teams where they have the Knicks but then have a gauntlet of games Toronto, Atlanta twice, Portland, Washington, Milwaukee, Chicago and concluding the season versus Orlando.

Boston has the driver seat currently and has to find a way to win games against similar opponents as they see the same teams Cleveland, Toronto and Milwaukee for 6 of their final 8 and not to mention the head to head with Indiana.

It won’t be easy feat for easy for any of the teams as they fight their way to have the luxury of facing the overwhelming, steady attacking Atlanta Hawks, but that’s what the NBA is no nights off.

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What A Day? : 2015 NBA Trade Deadline

trade deadline

By Stefan Anderson

The 2015 NBA Trade Deadline was an eventful day as many teams made the necessary changes for a late push, some positioned themselves for the NBA Draft, while others did not panic and not trade at all. Let’s discuss the Winners and Losers of the 2015 Trade Deadline.

Winners:

Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder trade disgruntled guard Reggie Jackson and replaced him with Kevin Durant’s University of Texas teammate D.J. Augustin. Along with Augustin, the Thunder were able to address two of their biggest fears outside shooting and post scoring by adding Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler, and Steve Novak. OKC has put together a second unit that can help them produce points when Westbrook and Durant are not in the game and look to make that late playoff push with the roster additions.

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks have overachieved this season with their team play under the leadership of Coach of the Year candidate Jason Kidd. While holding on to a 6th in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks made some changes to help their roster, replacing center Larry Sanders with Miles Plumlee, who brings a needed rim protector since Sanders departure.  Also trading their rising star in Brandon Knight for two Jason Kidd-esque point guards in Tyler Ennis and Michael Carter Williams, the Bucks look to shock the world if they can uphold their success.

Philadelphia 76ers: Despite trading for Javal McGee, a known headache to say the least, acquiring picks has been the best thing for the 76ers to secure the future. The 76ers add 2015 first-round pick (lottery protected) from Thunder and a 2015 first-round pick from Lakers to add to their roster of picks they already own, will be interested to see what happens in the draft.

The Losers:

Denver Nuggets: With an apparent rebuild to come in the near future, the Nuggets did not make any necessary moves to help their future. They were able to dump the hefty contract of McGee but gave away a 1st round to do so. With many expiring contracts, the Nuggets could watch their roster fall apart this off season.

Boston Celtics: Although they added Isiah Thomas, they add another guard to their overstocked position. With so many draft picks it gives the Celtics more to discuss with all the draft picks and expiring contracts they already possess. Boston has yet to add a player or players with draft picks and are stuck trying to find pieces through a bunch of draft picks and their makeshift roster.

Brooklyn Nets: The Nets traded away a great mentor in Kevin Garnett and added some length and defense with Thaddeus Young but failed to help shape their future. The Nets look to stick with roster despite the play of their aging and fragile stars, holding on to the large contracts of Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez.

Kudos to the Pistons and T-Wolves, bringing back pivotal pieces of their franchise, to help tutor and lead their respective teams with adding Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince.

NBA Preview: Atlantic Division

atlantic

By Stefan Anderson

With the 2014-2015 NBA season starting shortly, here at the Starting Point, we will give our preview and what to expect for the upcoming season.

We will start our preview in the Eastern Conference with the Atlantic Division.

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors are still riding the emotional high of reaching the playoffs and winning the division for the first time since 2007.  Adding players like James Johnson and Louis Williams to their bench to give an added dimension the Northern Neighbors. Lookout out for Demar Derozan to have a breakout season following his rejection from the USA World Cup team and Kyle Lowry will be amongst the top tier of Point Guards in the league.

I expect to see the Raptors back in the postseason this year and if the team can stay healthy can be fighting to win the Atlantic division once again. Dwayne Casey has established the hard-grit, winning culture that should have Drake and the T.Dot happy excited this season.

Brooklyn Nets

We have seen the Nets make the playoffs every season since switching states, but the 2014-2015 season brings a lot of question for the Brooklyn. The departure of Jason Kidd and Paul Pierce took away to of Brooklyn’s leaders and makes their playoff hopes even more distant. King’s County team might still have the answer bringing in savvy vets like Jarrett Jack and Marcus Thorthon to help their bench situation but are the main concern for the Nets. With an aging Kevin Garnett, a inconsistent Deron Williams and injury prone Brook Lopez , that leaves a lot of the load for Joe Johnson and the supporting cast.

I do not see the Nets making the playoffs this season and this will be the beginning of the darker days in Brooklyn after trading all of their chips away to acquire Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

Boston Celtics

Being NBA royalty, it’s astonishing to the Boston Celtics struggle the way have over the past few season. It has been a rebuilding situation since the Big 3 split up and went their separate ways. Drafting Marcus Smart and James Young gives Boston more young pieces to build with or either package in a trade to regain a big name in Beantown. The Celtics still lack “that guy” to help overcome their woes in the Eastern Conference. If Rondo gets traded for some pieces, what can happen with the young core(Bradley, Green, Sullinger), Boston can remain to prominence.

This is another year in the rebuilding process of Boston and the Brad Stevens experiment, can lead to something special but I highly doubt it this season.

New York Knicks

The New York Knicks are coming off of the hangover season after being the 2 seed in the year previous. New York, under the regime of Phil Jackson and company .look to bring a different brand of basketball playing the Triangle Offense and Carmelo Anthony looking to reach success like the predecessors (i.e. Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan).

The question that remains with the Knicks is defense, health and size, lacking a real rim protector, injury prone stars, and no real defensive player the Knicks has to shore up those holes while learning a new offensive system. I can see the Knicks potentially slipping into the postseason at a lower seed.

Philadelphia 76ers

Tanking is it real or is it a theory? We will find out this season as Philadelphia has yet to put together a winning roster after seeing one of the worst records last season. Nerlens Noel will be the bright spot for Philly this season; his defensive presence will bring him to Rookie of the Year and give the Sixers hope going forward.

This a definitely a “rebuilding “season for Philly and will get them another good draft pick as they gear up to make a great team featuring MCW, Noel, and Embiid.

Atlantic Division Standings

  1. Raptors (Playoffs)
  2. Knicks (Playoffs)
  3. Celtics
  4. Nets
  5. 76ers