Tag: Milwaukee Bucks

Are the Boston Celtics Finally Ready to Steamroll through the East?

Last night’s showdown between two red-hot Eastern Conference teams seemed to be no problem for the Boston Celtics as they rolling through the Indiana Pacers 135-108.

The four game home stand was something the Celtics needed after winning one out of four games on their West coast road trip two weeks ago. Boston have now won four straight and are 15-5 at TD Garden. They play a back-to-back today as they take their talents to South Beach and play the Miami Heat.

Boston’s Depth on Full Display

At the start of the season the talk around the league was the amount of talent the Celtics have, they have eight legit starting caliber players and last night’s victory showed that. The Pacers were out gunned yesterday, even with their talented duo of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Boston had seven players that reached double figures, which now makes it four consecutive games where at least five players have scored in double figures.

The team was led by Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown, who each scored 22 points to go along with eight and seven rebounds. Jayson Tatum showed out offensively as he scored 20 points while shooting 60 percent from the field on 9-of-15 shots. Another positive takeaway was the performance of Gordon Hayward, who has been more consistent on the offensive end over the last couple of games. He finished with 14 points on 5-of-7 from the field.

Brooklyn Nets v Boston Celtics
Starters, Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart celebrate with teammates as they cruise by the Indiana Pacers. (Photo credit: NBA.com)

It was one of those games that allowed Kyrie Irving to take a break offensively, he played only 24 minutes and scored only 12 points. Al Horford also had a laid-back night, playing only 18 minutes and chipped in with six points and eight assists.

The True Test for Boston Begins in the Coming Weeks

Since airing out their frustrations after the loss to Milwaukee back in December, the Celtics are now 7-2 over their last nine games with their only losses coming to the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs. The home stretch provided an extra boost of confidence for the Celtics, but in the upcoming weeks they will play legit championship contenders like the Toronto Raptors, the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Celtics and Raptors will square-off on Wednesday at TD Garden. Their even at 1-1 over their last two meetings with Boston taking the second game in overtime when Irving exploded for 43 points.

A potential NBA Finals match-up with the Warriors will take place on Saturday the 26th, as both teams continue to get back to playing championship level basketball. Although the Celtics could be one of the first teams to face a returning DeMarcus Cousins with Golden State, as he’s scheduled to return from an Achilles tear in mid-to-late January.

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Boston Shakes off Three Game Skid with Win over Hornets

The return of Al Horford into the lineup was a much needed boost for Boston’s frontcourt after getting blown out by the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. Boston picked up a wire to wire victory on Sunday against Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets, 119-103, it was a big victory to get them back on track before their Christmas Day showdown with Philadelphia.

Kyrie Irving led the way for Boston with 25 points, 17 of those points came in the first quarter where he shot 7-9 from the field. Horford picked up 10 points and six rebounds in his return, while Marcus Morris had 12 points and eight rebounds in his first game back.

The Celtics Air out Frustration

After getting run off their home floor on Friday the Celtics closed their locker room doors for 36 minutes following the 13 point loss. They held a player only meeting to clear the air and find solutions to what can be done to improve their poor performances. Irving spoke gave little to no detail on the meeting, “I think everyone can see that we’ve obviously had some inconsistencies regarding our play, so I think it was just time to address it,” said Irving. He pointed out some critical points about the team’s recent play saying a lack of “cohesion” and there being “some selfish plays” among his teammates.

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The point of emphasis for Boston has been their lack of ball movement and too much iso-plays, and coming out the gates on Sunday you can just see a different Boston team. The Celtics dished out 30 assists as a team against Charlotte, compared to their 22 against the Bucks on Friday. The play of the night for Boston had to be the alley-oop play between Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier, a similar play that Irving and Hayward ran last year that resulted in Hayward’s season ending injury.

Boston improves to 19-14 with the win and sit in the fifth spot in the east. The Christmas Day match-up with the 76ers is a huge test for Boston, the 76ers are coming off a huge win against the top seeded Toronto Raptors on Saturday.

Early Top 5 NBA MVP Candidates

The NBA season has been full of surprises, we have seen the rise of the Denver Nuggets and the fall of the Houston Rockets. Questions remain with all the surprises in the NBA, who will be the MVP this season?

The NBA MVP race has been interesting this season. We have seen remarkable plays and emergence of many players. Here are the 5 players who are the top candidates to win MVP this season:

5. Anthony Davis

Team: New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 14-15
Stats: 27.4 Points 12.2 Rebounds 4.8 Assists 2.8 Blocks

Anthony Davis has been an MVP caliber player for the past four seasons, but his team hasn’t produced the wins for Davis to be a serious candidate. Davis is doing it all for the Pelicans this season. He is producing on both sides of the court, offense, and defense.

The Pelicans are 4-6 in their last 10 games falling to the 10th seed in the Western Conference. For Davis to win MVP this season, his team has to start winning. Davis has MVP caliber stats but unfortunately is not winning games to back up his case for MVP.

Davis does have a decent supporting cast to pull out wins but the Pels haven’t found a way to win games consistently. The Pelicans as a team rank 2nd in both points per game and assists per game. The offense is there for the Pelicans but they must be consistent on this end and also on the defensive end.

4. Stephen Curry

Team: Golden State Warriors
Record: 19-9
Stats: 30.1 Points 5.8 Assists 5.2 Rebounds 1.1 Steals

Stephen Curry is always an MVP candidate every year since 2015. His tremendous shooting ability, playmaking, and overall offensive abilities have helped lead the Warriors to a winning culture.

Curry is currently having a 50/50/90 season. The last person to achieve this historic stat for a season is his coach Steve Kerr in the 1995-1996 season with the Chicago Bulls. Curry is shooting 51% from the field, 50% from the 3, and 93% from the free throw line. These historic shooting numbers from Curry will help elevate his case for MVP this season.

Curry’s MVP case might be tarnished due to early season injuries as well as being on a super team with Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.

Curry is having a historic season and is easily the best player on the Warriors. He will have plenty of nods to be in the MVP conversation this year.

3. Kawhi Leonard

Team: Toronto Raptors
Record: 22-7
Stats: 26.1 Points 3 Assists 8.3 Rebounds 1.9 Steals

The Toronto Raptors are currently the best team in the NBA, holding the best record in the league. This is in large part due to the remarkable play by Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard is the best player on the raptors and affects the floor both on offense and defense. With the help of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Serge Ibaka, the Raptors may find themselves in the NBA Finals in June.

After his dramatic departure from San Antonio during the offseason, Leonard is reminding everyone that he is a Top 5 player in the league.

With the Raptors rolling this season, Leonard is a top MVP candidate this year.

2. Lebron James

Team: Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 17-10
Stats: 28.3 Points 7.1 Assists 7 Rebounds 1.3 Steals

A 33-year-old Lebron James is leading the Lakers to a 5th seed in the Brutal Western Conference. James is averaging close to a triple-double and producing wins for this Lakers roster whose next best player is Kyle Kuzma.

James is on a tear this season and has been the sole reason this Laker team is winning games. He has the best chance to take the MVP trophy home this season if he continues to produce more wins for his team. He has played in every single game this season and it seems like he is getting better with age.

The Lakers have won 7 games in their last 10 games. James continues to exceed expectations year in and year out as he is leading this team who has struggled the past 5 years to the playoffs. The Lakers are 1.5 games behind from being the number one seed in the conference. With how the Lakers are playing, they might be the first seed by Christmas.

James is leading the Lakers in Points, Rebounds and assists for the Lakers. His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is the highest on the team at 27.4. Next highest is Kyle Kuzma at 16.1 PER.

1. Giannis Antentokoumpo

Team: Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 18-8
Stats: 26.5 Points 13.3 Rebounds 6 Assists 1.3 Blocks

Giannis Antentokoumpo is doing everything for the Bucks, scoring, grabbing rebounds, playing defense, dishing out assists. 2019 is the year of the Greek Freak as he has lifted the Bucks to the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference.

Giannis is the best player in the Eastern Conference. He is a nightmare for any team. Giannis hasn’t quite figured out his shooting ability in the NBA yet, only shooting 11% but is still finding a way to score buckets and be a force in the league.

The Bucks are a scary team to face as they currently rank 1st as a team in points per game and rebound per game. They also rank 4th in assists per game being one of the more unselfish teams in the league.

Giannis is leading the team in Points, Rebounds, assists and steals basically every statistical category other than blocks which Brook Lopez currently leads the team in.

Giannis is 4th in PER, ranking only behind Steph Curry, Boban Marjanovic and Anthony Davis.

The Bucks are a difficult and scary team to face this season and that is due to the rise of Giannis Antentokoumpo. Giannis has the best chance to win MVP this year as he doing everything and winning with the Bucks.

Boston Celtics Win Five in a Row; Have they arrived?

Saturday night the Boston Celtics crushed the Chicago Bulls by 56 points, the Bulls fans showed their frustration as the Bulls were booed out of the United Center. With this win the Celtics have won five in a row and are scoring over 120 points throughout the five game stretch. Boston now finds themselves in the fifth spot in the east and six games behind the Toronto Raptors.

With Horford and Baynes Out, Theis Delivers

With injuries to Boston’s two starting big men in Al Horford and Aron Baynes, Brad Stevens had to go deep into his bench and start Daniel Theis while giving Guerschon Yabusele some minutes as well. Theis, the second year player from Germany, showed up for Boston as he scored a career high 22 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots. NBA: Boston Celtics at Minnesota Timberwolves

This goes to show the type of luxury Stevens has in his roster, Theis is Boston’s third big man behind Horford and Baynes and to get this type of performance from him is huge for the Celtics.

Celtics Had Seven Players in Double Digit Scoring

Throughout the night it was looking like Boston was treating this game like a scrimmage as they continue to work out things themselves. Terry Rozier, Semi Ojeleye and Jaylen Brown combined for 40 points off the bench, Brown led the game in scoring with 23. Marcus Morris had 12, Jayson Tatum scored 18, Theis had a career high 22 and Kyrie Irving chipped in 13 points in 23 minutes.

Marcus Smart did his job on the defensive end as he took the assignment at guarding the Bulls leading scorer Zach LaVine. LaVine entered last night’s game averaging 24 points per game, but Smart completely shut him down. Smart held LaVine to 11 points while denying him the ball most of the game, which was part of the reason Chicago couldn’t get their offense going.

As the Celtics continue rolling we can’t overlook that this winning streak is occurring against non-playoff teams. It’s not until December 21 that the Celtics play a real contender in the Milwaukee Bucks, but for now Boston will continue their easy stretch of games as Stevens continues to fill in holes in his starting lineup.

Free NBA Picks for February 13th, 2018

9-6-1 over the past 6 days. 2 tonight.

Rockets -2.5 vs the Minnesota Timberwolves

Brooklyn Nets v Houston Rockets

The Rockets are 9-1 the last 10, the T-Wolves are 4-6. The Rockets have been on fire providing constant production between Chris Paul and James Harden. Gerald Green has been the spark plug that has kept the Rockets offense clicking when CP3 and Harden leave the court. The Rockets have heavy bench talent which provides the one up against many teams that don’t have a great bench.

The T-wolves are a great team, but the Rockets have been absolutely filthy. The T-Wolves have their best opportunity to take them down considering they are home.

The T-Wolves are 23-6 at home, going against the Rockets who are 20-7 on the road this season. The first meeting between these 2, the Rockets won by 18 at home. It should be way closer tonight, unless the Rockets get on a roll that not even Minnesota can stop. Take the spread, the value behind it is great considering the Rockets are 13-2 the last 15 games.

Bucks -7.5 vs the Atlanta Hawks

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The Bucks are 8-2 the last 10. The Bucks have been red hot since dropping head coach Jason Kidd. The Hawks are coming off a come from behind W over the Magic where the Hawks seemed to piece it together in the last few minutes.

The Hawks are 4-6 the last 10.

The Bucks are expected to get back Jabari Parker.

Tonight the Bucks should destroy the Hawks. I can see this going the Bucks way the entire game. The Hawks won’t trail by more than 8 maybe until halftime. Then I can see the Greek “Freak” take over, dismantling the injury riddled Hawks team.

Go for the points, take the Bucks,. I say they win by 9 or 10.

good-luck

Friday Night Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs Milwaukee Bucks

This Veteran’s Day, the Milwaukee Bucks will be taking on the San Antonio Spurs. This inter-conference matchup is the first of two meetings between two teams who are seemingly playoff bound.

 

San Antonio Spurs

Rudy Gay

The Spurs have been streaky to begin the season. After starting off 4-0, San Antonio dropped four straight games, only to rebound and win three straight going into Friday. The Spurs are looking to continue their current success in the absence of forward Kawhi Leonard and guard Tony Parker, led by forward LaMarcus Aldridge, center Pau Gasol and forward Rudy Gay.

LaMarcus Aldridge is the anchor on offense, averaging 22.6 points per game. Aldridge is also making his size known, averaging 8.3 rebounds per game and 1.3 blocks per game. Pau Gasol offers the same presence that Aldridge does in size, averaging 8.2 rebounds per game and 1.5 blocks per game himself. The most important factor to the Spurs success so far, however, is forward and sixth man Rudy Gay. Gay is averaging 13.5 points per game coming off the bench, and is making it obvious that he has recovered from his previous achilles injury. As always, the Spurs play great team basketball, and focus their game on solid defense under head coach Gregg Popovich.

The Spurs’ biggest concern against the Bucks is going to be on defense. Giannis Antetokounmpo is an early favorite for MVP, and for good reason. His size and scoring ability is going to be difficult for San Antonio to stop, especially without the services of two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard. Another struggle the Spurs will have to work around is Milwaukee’s acquisition of guard Eric Bledsoe. This will be Bledsoe’s first game with the Bucks, and the extent of his involvement on offense for Milwaukee will remain unknown until tonight. The Spurs will have to focus on contributions from their bench, mainly Rudy Gay, in order to win against the Bucks Friday.

 

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks started off the season hot. Milwaukee began the season with a 3-1 start, headlined by dominant performances by forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Though Antetokounmpo continues to lead the Milwaukee offense, the Bucks have had issues finding a true second option on offense. For the time being, that second option has been Khris Middleton, averaging 19.1 points per game. However, this average is deceiving, given that Middleton will often score less than 15 points, balanced out by occasional big performances, like the 43 point performance Middleton had against the Charlotte Hornets.

The Bucks have a lot to look forward to this game, with the debut of guard Eric Bledsoe. A look into how Milwaukee acquired him can be found here:

Eric Bledsoe Traded to Milwaukee

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Bledsoe is an explosive point guard who has ability driving to the basket and distributing the basketball. Though his passing ability will be appreciated, the strong possibility of Bledsoe becoming a viable second scoring option is huge for Milwaukee. The Bucks will also take great pride in Bledsoe’s defense, something much of the Milwaukee team lacks.

Milwaukee’s biggest concern against the Spurs will be how their second unit matches up. The Bucks have depth issues, lacking a true sixth man on the bench. To go along with that, the Eric Bledsoe trade saw the loss of forward Greg Monroe, arguably the Bucks’ biggest contributor on the bench. This depth issue will become especially difficult with the presence of Rudy Gay, a constant scoring threat off the bench for San Antonio. Another struggle for the Bucks will be adjusting the offense to accommodate Eric Bledsoe. This adjustment could either go really well, where fans will see the Milwaukee offense truly click. On the other hand, the adjustment could come with a lot of growing pains, and the offense will struggle in trying to find a good distribution in scoring.

 

Prediction

This game should be very interesting. The debut of Eric Bledsoe and Milwaukee’s adjustment on offense should be a sight to see. However, the Spurs have it together right now, and the lack of depth on the Bucks bench will be their downfall as the Spurs should take this game, barring another MVP performance by Giannis Antetokounmpo, which is more than possible.

Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics

When is the Game?

 

The game will be live at 9pm EST on ESPN.

NBA Week In Review: 11/8/17

Another week has passed, and it is time yet again to analyze how this week has gone in the NBA. Once again, the NBA didn’t fail to disappoint, as there were many surprises throughout the association. As before, we are going to take a look at six specific teams; one overachiever in each conference, one underachiever in each conference, and one team in each conference that is exactly where they should be.

 

Overachievers

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE: BOSTON CELTICS (9-2).

There is no stopping the Boston Celtics.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Oklahoma City Thunder

After losing their first two games of the season, the Celtics are on a nine game winning streak. After stepping up as the offensive leader during the first week of the season, guard Jaylen Brown has taken a backseat on scoring, yet still averaging 15.4 points per game up to this point. The new scoring leader for Boston is guard Kyrie Irving, as many fans would expect. Averaging 22.3 points per game and 5.7 assists per game, Irving is slowly transitioning to the team leader he was in Cleveland before the return of LeBron James.

Though Boston has had a wonderful display of offense lately, do not let it discount the superb defense that Boston is playing as of late. On top of the usual hustle plays seen by guard Marcus Smart, forward Jayson Tatum’s rookie campaign has been headlined by his use of length on defense, averaging 0.9 blocks per game. Along with that, Kyrie Irving has stepped up his defensive performance this season, averaging 2.2 steals per game.

Boston is on the up-and-up, and it should be no surprise if the Boston Celtics extend this winning streak into the double digits. Once again, the Cleveland Cavaliers should be very, very afraid.

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE: MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (7-3)

Wolves

After being considered the champions of the offseason by some, the Minnesota Timberwolves have proven that their players are able to work together as a squad. Karl Anthony Towns leads the way for Minnesota with 21.8 points per game and 10.9 rebounds per game, with Andrew Wiggins averaging 19.9 points per game. Jeff Teague has been a great distributor on offense, averaging 8.4 assists per game.

The pride of Minnesota’s success comes in defense. This should come as no surprise given that they are in possession of one of the most defensive-minded coaches in the NBA in Tom Thibodeau. Jeff Teague, Jimmy Butler and Karl Anthony Towns all make great contributions on defense, most notably Towns, who averages two blocks a game.

The biggest improvement Minnesota has made from last season was an increase in depth, all with the sole addition of Jamal Crawford. His ability to spark the offense coming off the bench has proven fruitful for the Timberwolves, and the team is on track to have their best season since their 2003-04 season, where Minnesota made a trip to the Western Conference Finals. To see the implications this season could have for the Timberwolves, check out this feature on the team:

Minnesota Timberwolves Feature #0: The History.

Underachievers

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE: MILWAUKEE BUCKS (4-6)

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After a good start, the Milwaukee Bucks have cooled down severely. The Bucks were riding a hot streak early on, carried by the explosion of forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Don’t get it twisted, Antetokounmpo has still been hot, most recently scoring 40 points against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, the Bucks have been struggling to muster up any other success on either side of the floor.

Their only other tool that has been effective on offense is guard Khris Middleton, who has averaged 19.1 points per game. With Milwaukee’s early success, it’s easy to forget how young this team is, and as of late the team’s youth and inexperience in late game situations has shown.

Despite their inexperience, the Bucks should develop as the season progresses, especially after the acquisition of guard Eric Bledsoe to ease the load on Antetokounmpo. Their current 11 spot in the Eastern Conference standings shouldn’t hold for long.

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE: OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (4-6)

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Thus far, it has been a very underwhelming start for a team that was hyped up as the killer of the defending champion Warriors. After dropping three straight, most notably in a loss to the now 2-8 Sacramento Kings, one thing has become increasingly obvious: the wear and tear on forward Carmelo Anthony has begun to show. Shooting 4-17 from the field against Sacramento, Anthony has slowly deteriorated from the superstar he was in New York and Denver.

There are still growing pains in trying to find a balance in the roster for Oklahoma City. Guard Russell Westbrook, forward Paul George and Carmelo Anthony all average 20.1 points per game, but the bench has been underperforming, virtually erasing the production by the new ‘Big 3’.

It isn’t time to give up on this project yet. The Thunder have plenty of time to figure themselves out. Once they do, there is close to nothing any team not named the Golden State Warriors can do to stop them.

 

Right Where They Should Be

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE: PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (6-4)

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The 76ers have been the laughing stock of the league the past three seasons. However, while other teams were laughing, the 76ers have been slowly building a solid, young core. The process is finally paying off, as seen with the performance of center Joel Embiid, who has averaged 20.5 points per game and 10.1 rebounds per game. Embiid has been dominant at his position, and is slowly cementing himself as a top five center in the league.

After an injury kept forward Ben Simmons out for what would have been his rookie year, he has burst onto scene this season, and hasn’t missed a beat. Simmons is averaging 17.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, and eight assists this season, and if he keeps up this level of play, he’ll be a shoo-in for rookie of the year.

Though Philadelphia most likely will not keep their third place position in the Eastern Conference standings, a playoff appearance from them seems imminent this season.

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE: SAN ANTONIO SPURS (7-4)

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After landing in the underachiever section last week, the Spurs have stepped up their game, and are once again looking like the fixture in the Western Conference playoff picture that they are. Forward LaMarcus Aldridge has been a huge help, leading the offense with 22.6 points per game. In the absence of star forward Kawhi Leonard, Rudy Gay has stepped up to fill the void, averaging 13.5 points per game and 1.2 steals per game.

The biggest factor in San Antonio’s resurgence is defense. They are looking like themselves again, and it is across the board. The Spurs have four players averaging at least a block per game, and four players also averaging a steal per game.

The Spurs are notorious for being one of the most consistent franchises in the NBA, and it is no different this season. Expect San Antonio to hold their spot in the standings for the rest of the season.

 

After yet another great week of NBA basketball, it should be expected to start seeing some true trends in the next couple of weeks, and a couple of true contenders should begin to emerge.