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Tag Archive for: NBA
Tag Archive for: NBA
If you followed the reporting of Five Reasons Sports and Five on the Floor last month, you knew that the door was cracked open for Damian Lillard to finally ask out of Portland.
Now the noise around the Trail Blazers star is even louder. Everyone from Yahoo’s Chris Haynes (Lillard’s media confidant) to others in mainstream NBA media are reporting that Lillard could request a trade at some point. At the moment, Lillard is making it known that the Blazers are in “prove it” mode, needing to build a contending roster soon — which will be difficult to do given Portland’s limited assets and challenging geography.
If Lillard is to request a trade during the 2021 off-season, and IF Portland is willing to hit the reset button, who are the teams that have a true chance to make it happen? Let us explore the top options.
The New York Knicks.
Out of all the teams that can attempt to trade for Damian Lillard, the New York Knicks seemingly have the most assets to throw at Portland, and a head coach Tom Thibodeau that has always been willing to sacrifice youth for experienced veteran talent. A trade package potentially featuring recent lottery picks RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin, up and coming players such as Immanuel Quickley and Mitchell Robinson and a grand total of (6) movable 1st round picks and 4 pick swaps is far and away the most attractive trade option of Blazers. The questions become: will a team headlined by Damian Lillard & Julius Randle be enough to make any noise in the east in the upcoming years, nonetheless make an NBA finals appearance with juggernauts like the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks in their way?
The Philadelphia 76ers.
76er GM Daryl Morey has never been shy when it comes to bringing in big names and superstar talent to win an NBA Championship, with a rap sheet that includes trading for MVP winners James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and all-time great Point Guard Chris Paul during his tender as Houston Rockets GM. Morey is in familiar territory, having in his hand a MVP caliber and top 10 NBA player in Joel Embiid and having the task to build a championship contender around him. Morey has potentially (depending on what a team later on this list is willing to give) the most established and decorated Player to offer to Portland in a trade: Ben Simmons. Having mad multiple All-Star teams, multiple All-Defensive teams, and an All-NBA team in only 4 played NBA seasons, Simmons is sure to be a valuable Cornerstone for Portland if they obtain him, even after his recent playoff woes. A Trade package involving Ben Simmons, Rookie Tyrese Maxey, and all-defensive team member Matisse Thybulle along with 3 movable 1st round picks and 4 pick swaps, the Philadelphia 76ers have enough ammo to outbid almost anybody. Damian Lillard, alongside Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris would have as much a chance as anybody to make an NBA Finals run.
The Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors and GM Bob Myers have been silently preparing for the opportunity to make one more championship run while Superstar Stephen Curry is still in his prime, albeit not in the way one would hope for. After the departure of Kevin Durant, back-to-back seasons with Star Klay Thompson suffering season ending injuries and even curry and Draymond missing time, the warriors have been able to stock up on draft assets and prospects that can be used to bring in another superstar, including Oakland Native Damian Lillard. Having the 7th pick form a prior trade with the Timberwolves, and their own 14th pick, along side last years #2 overall pick James Wisemen is a great starting point for the warriors to begin trade negotiations, as well as 4 other movable first round picks. The only true huddle, besides cap room, for Golden State is the possible reluctantly from Portland to trade Lillard to a rival Western team, although if Portland decides to go in to a full flanged Rebuild, it might not matter what conference Lillard goes to in their eyes. Certainly, a trio of Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and the returning Klay Thompson would be one of the most electric offensives in NBA History.
The Miami Heat.
A popular phase within the Miami Heat fandom is “In Riley we trust”, and with good reason. Always been on the lookout for his next “Whale”, Pat Riley is no stranger to going above and beyond to bring a top-level superstar to Miami. Wither it has been trading budding star Glen Rice to bring in a disgruntled Alonzo Mourning from Charlotte, cutting ties with multiple promising young assets such as Caron Butler and Lamar Odom to bring in the NBAs most dominant big man in recent memory, Shaquille O’Neal, or sign and trade deals to bring franchise changing talents such as Lebron James and Jimmy Butler, Pat is as well versed as they come in terms of wheeling and dealing star talent to Miami. His only obstacle (although if you ask Pat “there are none”) is the lack of assets Miami has in its disposal compared to the other teams mentioned in this Article. Having very little in terms of movable draft picks, the only true assets Miami has to offer are Tyler Herro, Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala.
That is of course, unless Pat is willing to part ways with a budding Superstar of his own in Bam Adebayo. Bam is far and away the most attractive Player in a potential Damian Lillard trade if Pat were to make him available, and realistically the only ways for Miami to receive Lillard form Portland would be if Bam is included. so many factors are involved to make a decision of this magnitude, including Miami’s own superstar Jimmy Butler input. Another factor not many are taking into account is, if Miami is to trade bam for Damian Lillard, and assuming they are to also extend Jimmy Butler this summer, they would have two players deep in their 30’s making upwards of 45 million dollars by 2023-2024. This is a decision that would put at risk any movement in upcoming seasons, and in reality, it is anything up a guarantee that a duo o Jimmy Butler and Damian Lillard will bring s championship during that window. Will the alure of acquiring a top 10 talent like Lillard be too much for Riley to resist?
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The Phoenix Suns are up 1-0 in the NBA Finals.
What determines the rest of the series?
1.Bucks figuring out the size issue vs Phoenix. In Game one Suns center Deandre Ayton had 22 points and 19 rebounds, if that happens every game it will be a short series for Milwaukee. Brook Lopez played just 23 minutes and when that happens there is nobody on the Bucks to battle Ayton’s size. Believe it or not this wasn’t just coach Bud not playing his starters heavy minutes like what happened in the bubble with Giannis last year. When Lopez was out there in game one Chris Paul and Devin Booker were hunting him on switches and made him unplayable. If Lopez is going to be on the floor Milwaukee needs to avoid Lopez being switched onto Paul or Booker plain and simple. Lopez shot 50 percent from the floor and finished with 17 points in his minutes which is good from a production standpoint. Although the +/- stat doesn’t say everything especially with a one game sample, Lopez had a team worst -17 last night which isn’t going to cut it. An answer for some of Lopez’s defensive struggles can be to keep him on Ayton and Ayton only.
2. Free throw differential between the two teams. In game one the Bucks shot 9-16 from the line while Phoenix shot 25-26 from the line. Devin Booker himself shot 10 of 10 from the line and if he is going to make more free throws than the Bucks himself, I’m not sure this series is winnable for Milwaukee. Khris Middleton played 45 minutes in game one and didn’t shoot a single free throw and that must change moving forward. Middleton must match or be close to matching Devin Booker’s scoring in this series. A great way to do so is by getting to the line more often where Middleton shoots nearly 90 percent. Jrue Holiday got to the line just two times himself and that won’t cut it especially when he shoots 26 percent from the field as he did in game one. Two free throw attempts from Holiday and Middleton combined is something Phoenix will gladly take each game this series.
3. Jae Crowder’s scoring or lack of scoring. In game one Crowder played 33 minutes and shot 0-8 from the field and 0-5 from the three-point line. In the playoffs this year Crowder has averaged just under 10 points per game while shooting 39 percent from the field and 35 percent from three. Crowder needs to get back to those numbers especially as this series goes on the road to Milwaukee. Paul and Booker both had great games, so Crowder’s lack of scoring didn’t matter but that won’t be the case every game. Crowder has been a streaky shooter in his career but if he can shoot around his 35 percent from three playoff average it will greatly improve the Suns chances at raising the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of this series. He is a great defender especially vs Giannis as Heat fans saw last year but he must provide something on offense to be a net positive for Phoenix. Suns forward Dario Saric tore his ACL in game one and Saric had been an underrated piece for the Suns in the playoffs. To help fill Saric’s minutes Crowder may be asked to play even more minutes than the 33 minutes he played in game one.
4. Chris Paul’s and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s health. Paul suffered a shoulder injury in round one vs the Lakers and took most of the series to get back to form. Paul has had tough injury luck in the playoffs throughout his career. He’s missed time with the Clippers and Rockets in the past leaving people wondering what could have been had he not gotten injured. In game one Paul twisted his ankle when he was fouled on a three-point shot by Brook Lopez. Fortunately Paul was able to stay in the game and seems fine, but injuries are always a concern with Paul. Paul is an all-time great player and let’s hope that injuries stay out of the way as Paul seeks his first NBA championship in his legendary career. The other injury to watch in this series is with Giannis Antetokounmpo’s hyperextended knee he suffered in the eastern conference finals. Many people including Giannis himself thought his season was over and next season was in jeopardy. Thankfully the injury wasn’t as serious as initially thought but still many assumed Giannis was out for game one, but he surprised everyone and played. He looked very good in game one scoring 20 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in 35 minutes. While he was effective in the first game there is always a concern of reinjuring his knee much like Kevin Durant did with his Achilles in the 2019 NBA finals. The number of minutes Giannis plays is something to watch given he’s coming off an injury. Coach Bud has been heavily criticized in the past for not playing Giannis more minutes but now it may be justified to keep him around 35 minutes. When it gets to elimination games maybe Giannis will play as many minutes as it takes but it’s understandable to be slightly cautious the first couple games. The Bucks or Suns can’t win the NBA championship without Paul or Giannis and that’s why these two and their health is the biggest key to watch for in the series.
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What will decide the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals?
Here are five factors.
Khris Middleton playing like a star similar to how he played vs Miami and Brooklyn. The first round series vs Miami wasn’t competitive (sorry Heat fans). The second round series vs the Nets showed much more the X -Factor Middleton is in determining a win or loss for Milwaukee. In losses vs the Nets Middleton shot 32% from the field and 26% from three and 18 ppg. In the wins vs the Nets he shot 47% from the field, 58% from three and 28 ppg. Ten points is a lot in a playoff game not to mention the large differences in shooting percentage. When Middleton is hitting his shots, it creates more open looks for other players and most importantly takes attention away from Giannis.
Trae Young scoring over 30 ppg. In game one of the Eastern Conference Finals Trae scored 48 points and the Hawks upset Milwaukee on their homecourt. There were times in this game where Trae looked simply unguardable even with Giannis switching out onto him he still was able to score. When Trae is scoring at that level it creates so many other possibilities for Atlanta’s offense. Many other players on the Hawks rely on Trae to create for them and when he’s scoring at will it opens the floor up. An example of this is when teams are playing Trae so far out on perimeter he can then drive in the lane and lob it up to John Collins or Clint Capela. Kevin Huerter is another player that is important off of Trae in the backcourt. Huerter scored 27 points in the pivotal game 7 win vs the 76ers in the second round. Without all the attention on Trae that wouldn’t have been possible.
Hawks must win the 3-point shooting battle. To have any chance the Hawks must outscore the Bucks from 3 and we saw that in game 1 Wednesday night. The hawks shot 25% from 3 versus the Bucks 22% and it took 48 points from Trae Young to win by three. If they don’t have the three-point advantage it will take similar heroic performances from Young to even have a chance. The Bucks have two all-stars in Giannis and Middleton along with a borderline all star in Jrue Holiday while the Hawks had no all-stars this year. Trae Young certainly should’ve been named an all-star but regardless the bucks are defiantly the more talented team. To make up for the talent gap Atlanta needs to win from the three-point line.
Giannis needs to play the 5 position more than he has in previous series if the Bucks want to advance to their first NBA Finals in 50 years. This isn’t a series for Brook Lopez as we saw in game 1. When Lopez is in the game the Bucks often play their drop coverage and have Lopez sagging off leaving plenty of space for Atlanta’s guards. When this happens Trae Young eats that coverage alive all game. He can either use his floater game or simply lob it up to Capela for an easy two points every time. When Giannis is at the 5, they don’t play drop nearly as much and some of those lanes for Young and Capela aren’t nearly as wide open. If the Bucks make it as hard as possible on the Hawks in terms of getting in rhythm and easy buckets, it will make it much harder for Atlanta to win games in the series. The Bucks are the more talented team, but they must make the in-game adjustments as well or this series will be longer than anyone in Milwaukee wants.
Jrue Holiday needs to play up to his max contract and be a top 5 player in this series. While guarding Trae Young will be a lofty task for Holiday he can’t forget about the offensive end as well. Jrue was excellent in the Miami series and a clear difference maker but was less efficient vs the Nets on the offensive side of things. In the second round series Holiday averaged 15ppg, 36% from the field and 26% from the three-point line. Those numbers need at least a slight increase in this series for Milwaukee to feel good about winning the series. The Nets were missing Kyrie Irving for most of the series and James Harden was playing on about one leg when he did play the final three games. If either of those guys were healthy Brooklyn most likely advances and Milwaukee can’t count on the Hawks being shorthanded, so they need all hands-on deck this series. In game 7 vs Brooklyn Holiday shot 5-23 from the field including being 2-17 before hitting a three late in the fourth quarter. They were lucky to escape with an overtime victory but that won’t happen with a healthy Hawks team. On the flip side if Jrue plays up to his capability on both ends it will be nearly impossible for the Hawks to beat the Bucks.
Chaos around the NBA could benefit the Heat.
You would expect the NBA to dominate the headlines in June, as the playoffs hit full stride.
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) June 17, 2021
Despite multiple competitive series reaching their peak, what seems to dominate our attention is the discontent around the league.
Zion. Luka. Embiid.
A lot of unhappy out there. pic.twitter.com/Lmtqxtbd8G
— Five Reasons Sports (@5ReasonsSports) June 17, 2021
The Dallas situation seems to be the most tumultuous as within a span of 24 hours they lost both their General Manager and head coach.
Donnie Nelson fired
Rick Carlisle stepping down
What is going on in Dallas? pic.twitter.com/yQPCfRys4w
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) June 17, 2021
Meanwhile, back in Miami.
— sosa🌊 (@BiscayneBam) June 17, 2021
I mean, what could possibly be better than this Heat fans?
Fresh off a Phoenix Suns sweep, @AllanaTachauer and @michael5rsn are back to discuss the remaining #NBA Playoff series, whether or not Luka Doncic would be a good fit in Miami, how fans are feeling about Dwyane Wade’s Utah Jazz ownership, and more!https://t.co/oHWyLVUh1E
— Alejandro Villegas (@alejandrovg32) June 15, 2021
In the City of Brotherly Love, there is not much left for Ben Simmons as the Sixers have imploded in back-to-back final quarters.
The Sixers have been outscored by 26 points in the last two 4th quarters.
Embiid: 1-10 FG
Harris: 0-5 FG
Simmons: 0-0 FG pic.twitter.com/JIQ7Szo0k4
— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 17, 2021
Simmons is shooting an ungodly 25.7% from the free throw line in the Eastern Conference semifinals, contributing mightily to the Sixers’ collapse.
Joel Embiid is the only player from the “Process” that has truly panned out.
Say what you want about Simmons three All-Star selections, the fact he was targeted by Atlanta and could not make them pay matters.
(Insert eye emoji)
The most realistic scenario however seems to involve Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, who would instantly upgrade Miami’s backcourt on both ends.
Miami has roster flexibility and more importantly stability, especially in the near future.
Despite the season ending on a low with a playoff sweep at the hands of Milwaukee, the sting of that will heal.
The odds were stacked against Miami, and other “bubble teams” – the 2021 Miami Heat were not getting out of the East this year anyway.
After a redacted offseason and a roster that did not improve from last year, this team plateaued.
However the future immediately seems brighter in Miami.
Even if a lot of the positivity is perhaps hyperbole.
So sit back and relax Heat fans, enjoy the chaos from the safety of Biscayne Bay.
Midway through the third quarter, TNT broadcast two hunched-over billionaires stressing out during the game. Mark Cuban and Steve Ballmer, owners of the Mavericks and Clippers respectively, stared dumbfounded from their courtside seats, as their season’s biggest game unraveled. Despite the success their business savvy afforded them, they would not own this moment. Unfortunately for them, neither would their teams.
Often, great playoff games elevate the competitive fervor between opponents, only for one to come out on top. Not tonight. Tonight, even in the waning moments of a game desperately begging for someone to seize control, neither team could hold on. The Clippers couldn’t hold on to home court advantage. The Mavericks couldn’t hold on to a 16-point lead. Kawhi Leonard couldn’t hold on to past shooting performances. Luka Doncic couldn’t hold on to the ball. Even fans couldn’t hold on to their breaths. In a postseason typically defined by games where out of two worthy winners, one must lose, tonight was a game of attrition, where one team had to win.
In Game 5, the Mavericks won. It wasn’t pretty and at times was downright difficult to watch. Though Luka Doncic scored 42 points, 27 of which came in the first half, his shooting touch was nowhere to be found in the fourth quarter. After getting off to a blistering start, Doncic went 1/8 from the field in the final frame and had a crucial turnover with just over 18 seconds remaining in a one-point game.
Momentum was squarely on the Clippers’ side. Falling behind 16 points with 11:42 left in the fourth and trailing by 10 points with 2:13 left in the game, Los Angeles mounted a furious comeback. Once again, the Clippers fell short at home. A missed layup by LA’s Nicolas Batum and two made free throws by Dallas’ Tim Hardaway Jr. led to Kawhi Leonard’s corner three. From the same spot he sank the Sixers’ season in 2019, Leonard air-balled a three to further sink the Clippers’ postseason hopes.
Now, the series heads back to Dallas, where the Mavericks will try to turn their 3-2 first round lead into their first series win since Dirk Nowitzki’s 2011 championship run. Meanwhile, the Clippers will seek out another win on the road Friday night to salvage their tumultuous season and title window. Mark Cuban and Steve Ballmer will almost certainly be in attendance. If there’s anything they should keep in mind, it’s that this series belongs to the first team to win at home, a situation unseen since the 1995 Western Conference Finals, when the Spurs and Rockets split the first five games on the road, before Houston closed out at home in six.
Whether Dallas can follow suit behind Luka Doncic, their 22 year old superstar averaging 32.8 PPG which trails only Michael Jordan’s 33.4 PPG as the highest playoff production of all time, or Los Angeles can force a Game 7 behind the tandem of 2-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and perennial All-Star swingman Paul George, will largely determine how the teams’ seasons are viewed. Either way, that defining moment arrives Friday night. It’s up to both teams whether they own it or not.
Daily fantasy sites have grown at a rapid rate over the last 10 years and are now almost a ritual activity for players across the United States. Residents of Florida have access to two of the best products on the market in the form of DraftKings and FanDuel.
Daily fantasy sites are not illegal in the Sunshine State, but there are no laws regulating the practice. However, DraftKings and FanDuel have been a constant presence since moving into the state and are now firmly entrenched with thousands of registered users at their disposal.
The argument continues to this day whether they are an official sports betting product or whether their competitions are games of skill. Yahoo opted to pull their daily fantasy game out of the region in 2015, leaving a head-to-head battle between DraftKings and FanDuel for customers.
FanDuel have been around the longest, creating their product in 2009. It has been a staple of the industry since and was bought out by Flutter Entertainment, who also own FoxBet, TVG, Paddy Power, and Betfair; among other leading betting companies states WSN.com.
*Flutter to Increase Stake in FanDuel
• Flutter Entertainment to acquire 37.2% interest in FanDuel for $4.175 billion in cash and stock, implying $11.2 billion valuation
• Company’s ownership stake in FanDuel to increase to 95% (currently 57.8%)
— Roundhill Investments (@roundhill) December 3, 2020
FanDuel has provided an excellent product for users and has also secured partnerships with the NHL and the NBA. It is the simpler of the two operators on offer, limiting the amount of work required to alter your fantasy team, while working with a strict salary cap across all 11 of their sports. Their partnership with the NBA is vital in Florida, given the number of basketball teams present in the region.
FanDuel provide the authentic experience for NBA daily fantasy games over DraftKings, especially for those fans of the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic. Their presence in Florida has allowed them to build a solid customer base within the Sunshine State with the hope of further expansion. Sports betting is not on the agenda yet in Florida, but when it comes to the fore, FanDuel will be in direct competition with DraftKings for users.
Both FanDuel and DraftKings will be hopeful that they will be able to see off threats from new companies that may emerge on their territory, should litigation allow traditional sports wagering products to operate in the Sunshine State.
DraftKings, too, have developed a strong core of customers, and nationally boast a larger contingent than FanDuel. They are arguably in a better position to that of their rival due to their partnerships with the NFL and MLB. The NFL has the largest following in the United States, and Florida boasts the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars within its borders.
Today the @NFL selects @DraftKings as its Official Daily Fantasy Partner. This distinctive deal includes exclusive sponsorship of the daily fantasy sports (DFS) category and more. Full press release included here: https://t.co/lYlupZCmXa pic.twitter.com/8lCfxWlruJ
— DraftKings News (@DraftKingsNews) September 26, 2019
The sponsorship with the NFL allows DraftKings to benefit from the huge television audiences that the league commands. In turn, that breeds greater recognition of their product and the benefits of using their daily fantasy game instead of FanDuel.
DraftKings does demand a savvy sports mind to play their games, although there are greater rewards available. Features such as the variable salary cap can force users to have to change their rosters with regularity to keep them ahead of the competition and their friends. There is always something to think about when playing with DraftKings, which makes it appealing for sports enthusiasts. In a state where sport is found at almost at every turn, DraftKings certainly made a wise decision to remain entrenched in the region. It has allowed them to build a loyal base of customers and further enhance their product.
Both products made a sound business choice to keep offering registrations to Floridians. They are reaping the benefits now with the continued success of daily fantasy games, and potentially in the future, should sports betting become regulated in the Sunshine State.
Photo by Unsplash Images.
Basketball is played in different parts of continents. Every sport has some defined rules to take the decisions of the game. Basketball is played in a court which is rectangular in shape and measures 91 feet long and 50 feet wide. There are 12 members in each basketball team, whereas only 5 members of each team are allowed to play on the court.
The purpose of the game is to score maximum points by throwing the ball in the basket. The team with the maximum score wins the game. Apart from this, certain fouls take place due to the carelessness of the team members and are counted against them.
If you are unaware of the basketball rules, then this article might help you gain some knowledge about the game.
Top basketball rules you should know
- Basketball jersey
The first and foremost thing to keep in mind is to be well dressed in the basketball jerseys.
If you are a part of the playing team you must wear the jersey on the court for the convenience of your other team members to pass the ball.
- Team players
There cannot be more than 5 players of each team on the court. You can substitute other players as per your choice, regarding the gameplay.
- Shot prevention
The team which is trying to make a shot in the basket is known as the offense team, whereas the team that is trying to stop them from scoring is known as the defense team. Without pushing any member, the defense team must prevent the offense team either by blocking the shot or by preventing the shot.
- Handling the ball
You cannot hit the ball with their fist, or kick it. You can pass the ball to the other member either by bouncing the ball or dribbling it. A person who leaves the catch even after touching the ball does not get the chance to dribble the ball.
- Chance of foul
If the ball is placed in the team’s half, they will win the ownership back. Within 10 seconds, It would be declared a foul, if the ball fails to make it back to the other halfway line.
- Free throw
All the fouls that took place during the game would be assembled. After this, a free throw will be given when reached a certain number. The shot will be taken by the player who made the foul from the free-throw line.
- The time limit for a shot
Both of the teams are supposed to shoot at the basket or at least hit the rim of the basket within 24 seconds. If either of the team fails to do so, the shot clock has to restart for another 24 seconds.
- step to avoid
You cannot move more than a single step without bouncing the ball. It would be considered a foul. Also, you must avoid double dribble, backcourt violation, and goaltending, etc.
The offensive team cannot take the basketball back if it passes halfway through the line.
Playing basketball for fun is okay, but if you are playing it without any clue about its penalties you might become a burden for your team. Before playing a basketball game, you must be aware of all the rules and regulations associated with it. If you’ll have better knowledge regarding the rules, you might avoid certain mistakes.
The Los Angeles Lakers are up 2-0 in the series. It seems as if the Miami Heat have finally run out of gas after reaching their peak abilities, as two of their three best players are ruled out due to injury, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic.
The story-lines were pure, but the competitive expectations looked like it wouldn’t live up to the hype. But well, that was before Jimmy Butler happened. Putting up a stat-line of 40 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds against two of the most premier athletes in the NBA, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, leading Miami to a win basically was the start of an incredible battle.
Although Miami ended up losing in 6 games, as the Lakers got their 17th franchise championship while LeBron secured his 4th, the battle that Miami put up basically foreshadowed the way that a Miami Heat team plays when the headliners are aligned, in Butler, Erik Spoelstra, and Pat Riley.
Now, after the Lakers beat a depleted Heat team in the NBA Finals, the script will be flipped on Thursday night. Los Angeles will be without James and Davis once again, as Miami’s finally hitting strides in the health department. This results in Miami being the favorite to win the game, according to the NBA odds at Sports Betting Dime. In a bundled up Eastern Conference, these are the type of games that Miami is aware are crucial to have a shot at the fourth seed.
These two teams may get thrown up against each other in many conversations, but they really aren’t all that different. As teams like the Utah Jazz are grasping the spot light in the West, the Brooklyn Nets are doing so in the East, leaving both the Lakers and Heat in middle tier areas, awaiting that first round match-up before truly turning it on.
Both teams with huge defensive strides, interchanging players with different injuries thrown their way, and of course, much respected franchises who were lucky enough to change up their rosters a bit to complete this second half run.
All of these comparisons being shown just comes right back to the overarching theme: facing adversity. It may be looked at as league wide ordeal, but it’s no surprise that these two teams have had more ups and downs than anybody. Beginning with the immediate turnaround after the Finals, there’s been constant obstacles being thrown their way, and that may mean they’re more prepared for what comes next.
Obviously nobody wants to face a James and Davis led Lakers team in a 7 game series, but there also aren’t many teams that want to face a gritty Miami Heat team with a defensive identity and tons of weapons.
This Thursday night match-up between these two teams will look a lot different than it did a couple months ago, and that basically sums up the entire situation that they’ve both endured. And as they both continue to claw their way back up the standings, there’s a chance an unexpected Finals rematch could occur if things fall into place for each ball club.
If James Harden keeps staying on top of his game, the Nets may have a shot at an NBA Finals victory in 2021
It wouldn’t be dramatic to say that January 14th, 2021 marked a historic day in professional basketball. On this day superstar shooting guard James Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, ending his almost 10-year prolific career with the Houston Rockets.
Fans of the Texas-based Rockets were stunned with the unexpected move, but the Nets knew they had gained one of the league’s brightest players in a momentous deal that would highly benefit the organization. Since then, Harden has proved his place as a valuable member in Brooklyn with a show-stopping debut performance that made history. He became the first ever player to have a 30-point triple-double in a first game. You could say he was welcomed nicely in Brooklyn.
The Nets are profiting from the enthusiasm and athleticism Harden brings to the court, as the team is currently enjoying a top spot in the Eastern Conference rankings right behind the Philadelphia 76’ers. In fact, the 6 foot 5 powerhouse has allowed Brooklyn to appear as the number one favorite in NBA betting odds for an Eastern Conference Futures Win later this season.
But just what makes the veteran basketball player so good at his game? Well, he’s skilled in practically every area that Brooklyn needs. He’s dynamite on the court, impossible to catch up with and hard to throw off. Harden makes scoring three pointers look like a walk in the park as his opponents watch on with misery. It’s clear that he also has elite basketball knowledge and isn’t afraid to get creative with his gameplay. Even with big competitors like Miami, the Nets have been able to rise above the heat with the help of Harden’s offensive game.
Unlike other players who perform within their comfort zone, the shooting guard enjoys a good challenge and can adapt easily in the face of change. He’s also extremely inspiring and leads the team effortlessly. In a recent nail biter game against the Phoenix Suns, Harden encouraged the Nets to take back the lead, ending the competition victorious and recording one of the most historic comebacks the organization has ever seen.
The talented athlete has a load of accolades to his name and is arguably one of NBA’s most productive players of the moment. Now that Brooklyn has retained the superstar under a whopping $40 million contract, fans can look forward to more instances of domination in the season’s future. In such a short amount of time, he’s already done more than we could’ve imagined.
It probably doesn’t need saying, but it’s been quite a seven months or so for sports teams in Florida. From September through March, we saw Florida teams in the Stanley Cup Finals, NBA Finals, World Series and the Super Bowl. If you count the MLS Is Back Tournament Final, which saw Orlando City SC lose out to Portland, that’s five major sports finals for Florida teams. Not bad. Not bad at all.
But Florida sports fans already knew all of the above. The more pertinent question is what comes next? Can Florida teams capitalize on the best period of success since the Bucs, Marlins and Lightning won championships between 2002-2004? We just don’t know. But we are going to guess by power ranking every NBA, MLS, NHL and MLB teams by the probability of winning a championship in 2021, starting with the least likely.
- Orlando Magic
It’s a testament to Florida sports teams’ strength right now that the team at the bottom of these rankings isn’t awful. Orlando has been blighted by injuries this season, and that looks like it might cost the team a third consecutive tilt at the Playoffs. There have been positives, notably Nikola Vucevic emergence as a truly elite NBA player.
- Miami Marlins
Clinching a first postseason berth since 2003 might have convinced Marlins fans that better days lay ahead, but the rebuilding might have to continue in 2021. A problem beyond the team’s own limitations is the strength of the NL East, with both the Mets and Braves tipped to have big seasons.
- Inter Miami CF
Florida’s newest sports club is finding its feet in the MLS. The team has big ambitions, and the acquisition of Phil Neville as head coach looks to be a clever move. Gonzalo Higuain, too, could provide the X-factor and goals. But this is a long term project, and we would be shocked to see Inter Miami in the latter stages of the MLS Cup.
- Miami Heat
It’s not impossible that Miami wins the NBA Championship this year. In fact, the basketball odds at MansionBet put the Heat at 28/1 – about ninth-favorite overall. So, you shouldn’t rule it out. But the team really needs to start winning consistently. We are approaching the half-way point of the season, and Miami sits outside the playoff spots.
- Tampa Bay Rays
Sportsbooks and pundits are quite cool on the Rays’ chances this season. Both MLB and CBS have the Rays at 10th in their power rankings, behind the AL East’s Yankees and Blue Jays. It’s a tough call, but Kevin Cash and the Rays could make those journalists eat their words – again.
- Florida Panthers
It might seem strange to rank the Panthers ahead of the Rays and Miami Heat, but NHL is a little less top-heavy than NBA and MLB, so we rate the Panthers’ chances just a little higher. A lot would have to go right, of course, but this is an organization on an upward trajectory.
- Orlando City SC
You have to like Orlando City’s chances this season. Coach Oscar Pareja has made the team hard to beat, and the run to the final of the MLS Is Back Tournament will act as good experience for the players. Like Inter Miami, they have a potential superstar in Alexander Pato. You get the feeling the Brazilian will either shine or flop, with no in-between. If it’s the former, then Orlando could land the MLS Cup.
- Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay tops the power rankings and bookmakers’ odds to retain the Stanley Cup in 2021. What more is there to say? The champions are the best team in NHL, and the most likely Floria team to bring home a championship in 2021.