NBA

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls are without question two of the favorite contenders when it comes to the Eastern Conference this season. Generally because of the Lebron James factor, sovaldi analysts lean towards the Cavs to take the East and I get that whole “best player in basketball thing.” This week the Golden State Warriors took a road trip to the Midwest and literally wiped their sweat with the Cavs on Monday and then the Bulls on Wednesday. Now, thumb don’t get me wrong, check the Warriors led by Stephen Curry are undoubtedly the best team in the league (the Spurs are in the hunt though). Most days they look unstoppable, but generally when the best teams in the two conferences face-off it’s an exciting game to watch. Not the case here, it was more-or-less straight up depressing as both games were basically over by halftime leaving fans with not a damn thing to cheer about.

First came the 132-98 beat-down of the Cavs in Cleveland on Monday. The Warriors got a little sleep and traveled to Chicago where they gave the Bulls a 125-94 loss on Wednesday night. OUCH, that’s a combined margin of victory of 65 points, on the road no less! It doesn’t say much for the Eastern Conference I can tell you that much. Suddenly, Eastern Conference fans may find themselves rooting a little harder for teams like the San Antonio Spurs, or the Oklahoma City Thunder because these Warriors have proved they can blow out the East’s big dogs.

Generally speaking, I’m excited when a team trounces the Cavs because I am not a Lebron fan. When that same team comes and beats up on my Bulls I get angry. I mean Golden State scored on Chicago while two of their players were literally in the backcourt tying their shoes – embarrassing.  Now now, there were plenty of factors that fed into the Bulls horrific loss.

  1. Derrick Rose was the only player to show up on Wednesday with 29 points (the Bulls still somehow lost by 31)
  2. Pau Gasol was literally no where to be found. He had ONE point.
  3. People are talking smack about Jimmy Butler being quiet, but he had 23 points. The guy can’t give 51 points EVERY game there are other players on the roster than need to produce as well.
  4. Defense, what’s that?
  5. The Bulls lost Joakim Noah to a season-ending shoulder injury just last week. I know he wasn’t doing much on the floor this season, but I believe he’s a huge factor in the Bulls mental toughness when they’re preparing for a game. They’re definitely missing their leader.

The next few games the Bulls are sticking to the East heading to Boston to face the Celtics Friday and then a big potential Eastern Conference Finals preview against the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday. Hopefully our guys can find a quick bounce back and play to win some basketball.

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Things are getting AWKWARD when it comes to the Chicago Bulls, cheap Joakim Noah and new head coach Fred Hoiberg. This season has been a true test of Noah’s character, treatment as new coach Hoiberg demoted JoNo from his starting role. Not only is Noah now coming off the bench, but he’s also averaging only 22 minutes a game, a career low since his rookie season.

“I mean, I don’t know what to say. I wasn’t expecting to play such a limited role”

Noah has been a fan favorite during his colorful career in Chicago sprinkled with two All Star appearances and a 2014 Defensive Player of the Year honor. He’s also been the heart and soul of the team, a true competitor. So why have the big guy come off the bench? I’m going to blame it on old age. Noah is 30 now and he’s had his fare share of injuries hinder his game. He’s missed nine games so far this season due to a shoulder injury (the Bulls went 7-2 during these games without Noah, which unfortunately supports Hoiberg’s case). Not to mention his ugly jump shot has managed to get uglier and he’s lost significant height when it comes to jumping for rebounds.

Some trade rumors have been on the horizon the last few weeks as well. We all know the Bulls front court is crowded, the team has more seven footers than they know what to do with. No surprise, JoNo’s name has been on the chopping block. Come June, Noah will be an unrestricted free agent, the Bulls may be trying to get something for their big man rather than letting him walk for nothing this offseason. The Bulls also need some more shooting power, so don’t be surprised if Taj, Pau or Noah get replaced by a shooting guard.

Despite all the talk, Noah wants to play for our Bulls. He wants to be out on the court all the time, or as much as physically possible helping his team succeed.

“But this (role) won’t change my commitment to the team. I’ve never been about anything but winning and the team.”

Personally, I feel Noah and the #messybunswagger are a staple in Chicago and it would be nice for someone who’s done so much for our city finish his career here. I would be truly sad to see him go. However, at the end of the day the NBA is a business and the Bulls need to figure out the right winning combination. Right now, Noah isn’t the solution.

 

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The holidays are here and that means food, drugstore family and football.  No wait, this is Christmas and that means food, family and BASKETBALL.  It’s easy to get confused because Christmas is to the NBA what Thanksgiving is the NFL.  An annual tradition that dates back to 1947 of all day basketball folly.  In 2011, the slate of games grew to 5, tipping off at 11am, and has stayed as large and as long ever since.

This year we’re looking at anything and everything from coast to coast match ups, a Finals rematch (or preview), East vs. West face-offs, and a Staples Center showdown, all complete with the requisite NBA Christmas uniforms, which I am not mad about this year.

If you’re looking to pick and choose when to watch vs. when to eat, sleep or spend time with the fam, here’s the game by game rundown.

11am CT New Orleans at Miami

A match up of the somewhat surprisingly intriguing Heat vs. the under performing Pelicans.  The Brow is always a fun watch and seeing him take on Hassan Whiteside in the paint shouldn’t disappoint.  But New Orleans is ravaged by injuries and an inability to adjust to the new coaching staff.  While I’m much more partial to New Orleans for eating, drinking and dancing, I’d pick Miami in this one.

1:30pm CT Chicago at OKC

The NBA so wanted Derrick Rose vs. Russell Westbrook to mean what it used to.  Unfortunately three knee surgeries has taken its toll on one much more than the other.  Despite this, the Bulls beat the Thunder earlier in the season behind a great game from Rose, who has since lost his facemask, the height of his hair, and his shot.  Both teams are playing under new head coaches who made the jump from college ball, but OKC is surging, while the Bulls count their lucky playoffs stars that they’re in the East.  I want to take the Bulls to turn it around and bring this one home because they always seem to surprise me on Christmas but without Joakim Noah, I have little faith this holiday season.

4pm CT Cleveland at Golden State

Get out the eggnog early because this is going to be good.  You can call it a Finals rematch or a Finals preview, but the top teams in each conference are at full strength with Cleveland seeing the return of Kyrie Irving this week, and they’re about to go at it.  Golden State boasts one of the best crowds in the NBA, who have been getting to games an hour early just see Steph Curry warm up.  And Lebron, well he’s mad.  Golden State makes history with every win so I’m picking the Warriors, if only to hope for a Riley Curry sighting at the post game press conference.

7:00pm CT San Antonio at Houston

Eat dinner quickly so you can be on the couch for an in-state battle of two completely opposite teams.  The Spurs quietly have the second best record in the NBA with only two less wins than the Warriors.  Pop is still sitting during games since it’s not April, and Kawhi Leonard shows us nightly how much bigger, stronger and faster he is than other top shooting guards in the league.  He’ll face another one in James Harden on Friday, but Harden’s Rockets have not done anything quietly this season.  Already working with an interim head coach and Dwight Howard trade rumors, the Rockets have been incredibly mediorcre so far, and outright bad at times.  They are however coming off of a 3 game win streak and have the talent to put on a show at home.  But if NBA fans know one thing, it’s to never bet against the Spurs.

9:00pm CT Los Angeles at Los Angeles

Many family Christmas gatherings may be able to relate to this match up – two passive aggressive siblings, living under the same roof, cut from the same cloth, with so little in common on any level.  On one end of the floor, the Lakers are a mess.  In the midst of the Kobe retirement tour, they boast two young stars in the making in Randle and Russell, who go in and out of the lineup for no apparent reason.  Kobe may score 34 points, or he may have 3 or 4 air balls.  Meanwhile, the Clippers are as good as they’ve ever been, but it doesn’t look to be good enough.  Their team is filled with controversial players who have never made it quite as far as they should have, and it doesn’t look like they ever will after the first few months of the season.  Kobe will be looking to go out with a bang in his 16th Christmas game, but I’d still take the Clippers to use the holiday to get their season back on track, as they continue to chase the shadow of the Warriors.

And that’s a wrap on Santa’s gift to all NBA fans this year.  Wishing you a very merry NBA Christmas, from our SDI family to yours!

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NBA Christmas is almost upon us, viagra and that means the return of All Star fan voting. The NBA is one of, if not the most digitally savvy professional sports league, and this year is no different than those in the past with new digital and social avenues to vote to see your favorite players in Toronto in February. This year, for the first time, you can vote simply through google search. Just google “NBA VOTE ALL STAR” or “NBA VOTE TEAM NAME” to cast your votes. For example, you’d type in NBA VOTE 76ERS and check the photo of Nik Stauskas to see the Canadian guard on the court at tip off in the All Star Game.

That wasn’t serious. Please don’t do that.

In addition to Google search voting, you can also vote on NBA.com/vote, the NBA App, by posting with a players first and last name along with #NBAVOTE on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, or by taking it real old school and texting a player’s last name to 69622 (MYNBA). All current NBA players are eligible, but the voting ends January 18th at 11:59pm ET. The starters will be announced January 21st on TNT.

Fans can vote for 10 unique players every day and on each voting platform, so with a very large voting pool, the most deserving players will likely end up with the start, and if they don’t, they’ll be selected by the head coaches in their conference as All Star reserves.

I’ll definitely be casting a few ballots. An all Bulls, all Wolverines, all Chicago area, etc. But for my first votes, I was inspired by the years that Yao Ming led All Star voting because of his passionate fans in China, so I decided to cast my first ballot via google search for players that I’m passionate about after a quarter of the season:

  1. Jahlil Okafor – For being not the first or last 7 ft tall NBA player who will attempt to use a fake ID 7 months removed from hoisting a trophy amid mass national attention.
  2. Lance Stephenson – For having a brother named Lantz and all of the rap videos.
  3. Jamal Crawford – For general perfection at any age.
  4. Russell Westbrook – For buying the Lord’s house.
  5. Kobe Bryant – For not being able to or caring to try to name the Pistons player who wanted to shake his hand.
  6. DeMarcus Cousins – For notching at least one expletive-laden rant before the quarter mark of the season.
  7. Zach Lavine – Because I heard him on a podcast once, and he seemed cool.
  8. Draymond Green – For starting a Twitter fight with a beat reporter, probably for good reason.
  9. Kristaps Porzingis – Because this photo.
  10. Joakim Noah – Because he’s a top 3 NBA human. Juliet Litman said it, therefore, it’s bible.

Happy All Star voting everyone!

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WHAT is going on with the Bulls?

Despite their depth, viagra height advantages and overall talent, the Bulls have lost two bewildering back-to-back games at home (woof).  Monday night’s 103-101 loss to the Suns was extra sour, as the Bulls crumbled in the 4th quarter and gave up a 16 point lead to a team they should have absolutely defeated. It seems as though, the only thing our Bulls can do consistently is be inconsistent. Why oh why, can’t our Bulls figure it out?

No one seems to have any answers. When asked about the Bulls ‘killer instinct’ swingman Jimmy Butler said,

“Hell, I think you either got it or you don’t. Right now we don’t have it.”

It’s been apparent thus far into the season Chicago comes out ready to destroy teams of higher calibers (Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs). When it comes to the less elite opponents, it’s almost like the Bulls just show up and play carelessly. They need to be consistent with their drive to win. So what can the Bulls do to find it?

Derrick Rose sure doesn’t have the answer, “If I could put a finger on it, I wish I could, but I can’t. I don’t have an answer for that.”

Pau Gasol thinks it’s time for a team meeting. I’m 100% with the big guy, communication is obviously an issue out on the court. There was a lot of head shaking and angry looks when players weren’t where they needed to be during Monday’s game.

Gasol told the media, “We got to understand what’s going on. How bad do we want this? Because games like this and games like Charlotte you just can’t afford to lose. It’s a big difference winning those types of games and then losing them at the end of the season. We’re putting ourselves out of the playoffs right now — the Eastern Conference is too tight. It’s wide open but you got to go for it. If we want to be up fighting for something, we got to change things up a little bit.”

New head coach Fred Hoiberg was also a bit confused. He explained during the Suns post game interview that the Bulls had played their best defensive game in the 3rd quarter only giving up 10 points, and then played their absolute worst defense during the 4th allowing the Suns to score 42 points. Talk about an identity crisis.

Time to lock it up guys. We can only use the “it’s still early in the season” excuse for so long. The Bulls have Tuesday off and then have the Boston Celtics on Wednesday and the LA Clippers on Thursday.

Updates:

In other news, Mike Dunleavy needs an additional 4-6 weeks of rehab before his return to the court. Definitely a bummer, since Dunleavy brings more experience to the team than Doug McDermott and Tony Snell at the shooting guard position. Also, Pau Gasol shared that he will “very likely” opt out of his Bulls contract at the end of the season and test the water of free agency.

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“This season is all I have left to give. My heart can take the pounding, click my mind can handle the grind, but my body knows it’s time to say goodbye”

Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in poetic fashion on The Players’ Tribune on Sunday night.

First, a major shout out to The Players’ Tribune for recognizing fans’ desire for unfiltered content that goes beyond 40 characters.  In just over a year, The Players’ Tribune has become the go-to source for a first hand perspective straight from athletes, and props to TPT for taking that idea across all sports from NASCAR to the NCAA, expanding to video and incorporating big sponsors.  While the ESPNs of the world shut down innovation in content (pardon my residual Grantland saltiness), sites like The Players’ Tribune and Bleacher Report are thriving by creating the type of new content fans so clearly crave.  But I digress…

It’s fitting that Kobe would announce the end of his historic career on the TPT platform which launched weeks after its founder, Derek Jeter, ended his career with symbolic poetry, connecting on a walk off hit in his final home game at Yankee Stadium.  Since we’re 4 days removed from Kobe’s announcement, there are a million sites where you can find Kobe career retrospectives and season by season stats, so I’ll try to follow The Players’ Tribune’s lead and provide you with some lesser known, generally trivial, but hopefully more entertaining Kobe facts to drop at the water cooler during his farewell tour.

Kobe entered the league as part of what might have been the best rookie class of all time.  A number of NBA stars were taken ahead of him including Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby, STEPHON MARBURY, Ray Allen and Antoine Walker in addition to your typical draft busts like Vitaly Potapenko.  If Bears fans are still crying about passing on Chandler Jones for Shea McClellin, imagine Cavs fans looking back at Cleveland picking Vitaly Potapenko over Kobe.

In addition to the Black Mamba, Kobe is rumored to go by other nicknames like KB24 and Vino.  If you have ever referred to Kobe by these names, please announce yourself in the comments.

Kobe does have a line of shoes with Nike, but they have never become as iconic as Jordans, or as popular as Lebrons or KDs.  They’re pretty ugly, but they have always sold well in China.

Kobe’s consistent yet earned self indulgence would lead you to believe he suffers from only child syndrome, but in fact Kobe grew up with two older sisters – Shayna and Sharia.

Kobe took Brandy to his senior prom at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania.  He returned the favor by later playing a basketball star on her UPN show Moesha that really needs to go on Netflix.  Mo to the, E to the….

@kobebryant joined Twitter in January 2013, a full 3 years after everyone else, and immediately took it by storm.  Since Kobe never does anything half speed, his first tweet (below) set the tone for years of commentary on officiating, rehab, Pau Gasol’s defense, Dwight Howard’s leadership, anonymous sports reporting, women’s soccer and much more, and the Twittersphere is better for it.

With the exception of being the youngest player to score 30,000 points, the youngest winner of the Slam Dunk Contest when it was good, the youngest starting All Star, five time NBA champion, NBA MVP, Olympic gold medalist and general legend of the game, as Kobe tells Starbury, he’s really just a normal guy.  A normal, polarizing, hard working, immensely talented, outspoken, game changing guy whose presence will certainly be missed on the court next season.

And yes, he shops.

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