Living in the Moment

By Stefan Anderson

The NBA is such a fickle league and often we caught up in the moment instead of taking  it for what it is. While being a prisoner of the moment, we are now succumbed to question greatness of the 2015 finalists, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, and now are forced to decipher which team is better respectively.

It all starts with the teams superstars, Stephen Curry and LeBron James. After Curry was awarded the first ever unanimous MVP award, the uproar began on why he deserve such prestige as if he didn’t improve after earning the award last season. The Warriors star also improved to career-highs in scoring, steals, FG and 3-PT percentage, while leading the Golden State to the best record in NBA history.

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But now the question is being posed about how James is still the best player in the association. I agree that Lebron James is still the premier talent of the NBA but the league currently belongs to Stephen Curry regardless of the situation. It is reminiscent of when Steve Nash conquered two consecutive MVP titles and Kobe Bryant was the best talent in NBA.

Now that both teams are in the Conference Finals and inching towards a finals rematch that not only James would love to see, but we would all like to see. As the Warriors are currently in a gridlock series with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cleveland is now ahead 2-0 over the Toronto Raptors, gearing towards a sweep to finals.

Cleveland having an easier route to the finals, is discrediting what they have done thus far. To win 10 games in a regular season is impressive. To win 10 straight in the postseason, is out right astonishing. The Cavs only finished one game ahead of Toronto in the regular season, but in the postseason they are in another stratosphere. That is because Cleveland has excelled their play to another level by improving defensively and offensively beating opponents but 13 points, while shooting 45 % from 3 and 49% from the field.

Golden State has faced great competition facing four of the top 20 stars in the NBA and the 3rd and 4th highest playoff scoring offenses in their three series. Despite the competition, the Warriors are beating opponents by 11 points. It is hard for the Warriors reaching further than 73 wins, but they continue amaze spectators, while missing Curry for several games.

Regardless of who is better and who has played who and who is better, we’re on the brink of witnessing two great teams at full strength rematch for the Larry O’Brien. No disrespect to the Thunder or Raptors but let’s not live in the present and head to the NBA Finals we’ve waiting on since last June.

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Beasts of The East

easternBy Jazmine August

The time has finally come. From Derrick Rose playing in his first playoff game since 2011 to Lebron James attempting to bring the Larry O’Brien trophy home to Ohio for the first time in NBA history; the 2015 NBA Playoffs kick off this Saturday at noon and this year’s post-season surely won’t disappoint. Before anyone can hoist the trophy they have to make it out the first round, so let’s get into Eastern Conference matchups and predictions.

(1)Atlanta Hawks vs. (8) Brooklyn Nets

Despite popular belief this won’t be an easy matchup for the Atlanta Hawks. We may see the emergence of the old Joe Johnson in front of his former home crown in the Phillips Arena. Despite the Hawks having the second best record in the league and finishing the season with a franchise record 60 wins, they have trended down since the All Star break. With the loss of Thabo Sepholosha (out for the season with a broken leg), there defensive strength has dropped considerably. On the contrary, Brooklyn has finished the season strong with Brook Lopez being named Eastern Conference Player of the week two weeks in a row and Deron Williams appearing to have turned back the hands of time to his Utah days. I believe this matchup will be more exciting than we anticipate but in the end the Hawks will pull it off and advance to the second round.

Prediction: Hawks in 6

(2)Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (7) Boston Celtics

Just when you thought Lebron James made the wrong decision in returning back home, the Cavaliers acquire Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith and go 34-9 to finish the season. By securing the second seed in East, the Cavs will have home-court advantage over the young Boston Celtics. This Celtics team has had an amazing end to their season and after acquiring Isaiah Thomas from the Phoenix Suns has put together a successful playoff push. Unfortunately, for the Celtics they will have to face The King in the first round, who will finish this battle victorious and continue his quest for a third ring.

Prediction: Cavs in 5

(3)Chicago Bulls vs. (6) Milwaukee Bucks

For the first time since the start of the season, the Chicago Bulls starting five will all be healthy and eligible to play after a season riddled with injury. With the return of Derrick Rose and swingman Jimmy Butler, the Bulls have made themselves an honorable mention in the race to the Finals but let’s not completely count out Jason Kidd’s Bucks. The Bucks have held the 6th spot pretty much all season and Kidd has done an amazing job with a young and inexperienced team; it is possible for this team to win two games in this series. However, Chicago is too big, too strong and too hungry; they will advance to the second round.

Prediction: Bulls in 6

(4) Toronto Raptors vs. (5) Washington Wizards

Easily the most enticing matchup in the Eastern Conference first round; the Toronto Raptors will face the Washington Wizards. Both teams have not been very impressive down the stretch, with Wizards posting a below .500 record since the All Star Break. However, the Wizards have significant advantage when it comes to size with Gortat, Nene and Gooden all having the ability to get offensive and defensive rebounds. The Raptors have the advantage when it comes to depth, with the potential 6th man of the year Lou Williams coming off the bench. These two teams are pretty evenly matched with great qualities and weakening flaws. The outcome of this series will really come down to the X-Factors, Kyle Lowry for the Raptors and Paul Pierce for the Wizards. This matchup is really a toss-up for me but I’m going to ride with the higher seeded Raptors to pull off the win.

Prediction: Toronto in 7

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