Tag: NBA News

The Houston Rockets Championship window is closing

With the Golden State Warriors era of basketball running amuck on the league, the difficulty to win a championship for any team is tough especially for the Houston Rockets.

Winning against a team with 5 all-stars, in a 7-game series, is not only a daunting task but an impossible one for many teams. With Demarcus Cousins set to return on Friday against the Clippers, The Warriors now have 6 all-stars playing on their team.

Organizations around the league were forced to adapt to playing against Golden State’s brand of basketball. The three-point shot has evolved, becoming the most valuable way of scoring in today’s era of basketball. Post ups and Mid-range shooting are a thing of the past.

The Houston Rockets were one of the organizations who had to adopt a new style of basketball centered around 3 point shooting. Houston’s offense is the closest to the Warriors and even the Rockets couldn’t beat them in the Western Conference finals.

Last year, the Houston Rockets were only one game away from reaching the NBA Finals. But when Chris Paul went down with a hamstring injury, all hope was lost for the Rockets.

Chris Paul has been plagued with injuries playing in only 26 games this season. With the recent news that Clint Capela is out for 4-6 weeks with a thumb injury, James Harden is forced to carry the load for this team.

Chris Paul and Clint Capela are key pieces to the Rockets’ success. This team will go far as these two players go. If they can’t stay healthy or consistent, the Rockets will not be in contention for winning the championship this year.

The best shot the Rockets had to win a title was last season. It seems that the Rockets hasn’t mentally recovered from the western conference finals and free agency.

Chris Paul isn’t getting any younger and there are signs showing that father time is catching up to him. The Rockets are a struggling team this season. They had stretches where they were extremely bad, then they played good, and then bad again.

This team simply can’t stay consistent. If you can’t stay consistent in a Western Conference of the Warriors, Thunder, Nuggets, and Trail Blazers, you are bound to end up at the bottom of the pack.

 

With last night’s loss to the Nets, James Harden scored 58 points and the team attempted an unbelievable 70 three-pointers only making 23 of them. This raises concerns of if this team is even on the same page as they were up against the Nets late in the fourth quarter until giving up three straight 3 pointers from Spencer Dinwiddie to force overtime.

We have seen this same situation a couple weeks back against the Dallas Mavericks as rookie Luka Doncic capped off a comeback scoring 11 points in the final minutes of the game to defeat the Rockets.

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Kevin Knox Scores Career High, 31 points, in loss to Philadelphia

In today’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, the New York Knicks 2018 first round draft pick Kevin Knox finished the game with a career high of 31 points.

Knox had shot a total of 23 field goals in the game but only made 12 of them , shooting 52% from the field. 12 out of his 31 points scored came from three-pointers as he shot a total of 4 for 9 (42%) from behind the arc. Along with his 4-9 three-point shooting, Knox tallied three free throws in today’s game.

“We’ve been trying to build his tank up to be this guy that can play big minutes and really perform throughout the game. I thought tonight was the first time in the second half he didn’t fade when he started off with a double-figure first half. He actually scored more in the second half. That’s a big step.”-Coach Fizdale

Knox netted 13 points in the first half and 18 points in the second half of his 44 minutes played. He played a huge factor for the Knicks as he helped them come back from a 24 point deficit. 

With the comeback that the Knicks went on, the game still did not go well for New York as they lost in a final score of 108-105. 

They were outplayed by Philadelphia’s young core in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid finished the game with 26 points and 8 rebounds as Simmons finished with 20 points, 22 rebounds (career high), and 9 assists.

After this 31 point outburst by Knox, he is now the 6thyoungest player in NBA history to score at least 30 points in a game (19 years and 155 days). 

“I know it’s my career high, but it shows I have a lot of room to improve. I’m only 19. I want to keep getting better and keep learning every single year. It’s cool to see but I’m still trying to get that win.”-Kevin Knox

Knox has proven to be a consistent scorer in the NBA and could be a part of the Knicks upcoming future. With a lot to learn and the rest of the season remaining, we hope to see Knox become the player that we were promised back in June.

Tensions Flare In Boston, As the Celtics Loss Again

The roller coaster of a season for the Boston Celtics goes on as tensions continue to raise amongst players, and in last night’s 105-103 loss to the Orlando Magic a brief disagreement was caught between head coach Brad Stevens and superstar point guard Kyrie Irving.

First it was Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown’s brief scuffle during a timeout in Thursday’s loss to the Miami Heat, and last night an argument was witnessed between Stevens and Irving over a drawn up play for the last shot of the game. At the end, Gordon Hayward inbounded the ball to Jayson Tatum, who then attempted a fade away over Magic guard, Wesley Iwundu, with 2.7 seconds remaining in regulation. After the game, Irving seemed frustrated over Hayward’s decision to give the ball to Tatum for the last shot, Irving can be seen telling Hayward, “You had Al,” who was open at the top of the key.

Irving Critical of Young Teammates over Lack of Experience

After the game Irving and Al Horford both questioned their young teammate’s inconsistent play, “We play hard at times. We don’t play hard all the time,” Horford said.

We’ve reached the mid-way point of the season and the Celtics continue to show inconsistency on both sides of the floor. Boston seemed to have figured it out after their team meeting occurred after their loss to Milwaukee on December 21. The Celtics won 7 of their last 9 games after the meeting took place, but their losses to non-playoff teams in the Heat and Magic over the week have the players thinking if the problem has resurfaced.

Irving was critical of his young teammates and how they’ve played this season, “The young guys don’t know what it takes to be a championship-level team. And if they think it is hard now, what do they think it will be like when we’re trying to get to the finals?” said Irving.

Time heals all Wounds

Even throughout these low points in the season Irving still believes in this team’s potential, “I know from the majority of the fact that we’re better than most teams in this league,” said Irving. “It’s just going out and proving it every single night and demanding it and actually showing it.”

Irving emphasized how experience has been a major issue to why this club hasn’t lived up to their potential. This is the most stacked team in the NBA and Brad Stevens has to find a way to mesh the egos of nine legit starting players into accepting new roles, which includes less playing time, low productivity and bench roles. Guys like Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum who were playing at an All-Star level last season have seen their productivity decline since Irving and Hayward returned this season.

Time will tell if the Celtics can bounce out of their inconsistency and FINALLY make a run at the number one seed. Home court advantage is going to play a major role in the playoffs with teams like Milwaukee, Toronto, Philadelphia and Indiana gunning for a spot to represent the East in the Finals since LeBron James departure to the West. We’ll see if Boston can get it together before it’s too late.

Three Teams that would be the best fit for New York Knick Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter has been the topic of conversation within the past couple of days since announcing that he wouldn’t be attending the UK trip with the New York Knicks. The Knicks Center has also been frustrated with the team due to his role and also where the team is headed, which eventually led to talks about other teams in the NBA showing interest in trading for the big man. The frustration started about less than a month ago when the Knicks Head Coach David Fizdale made a change to the rotation as he put Enes Kanter on the bench and started second year player Luke Kornet. 

“It’s very embarrassing. I understand we want our young guys to get better. But it’s very painful to watch it,” -Enes Kanter

 Since these trade talks have been happening, it was never confirmed on which teams were interested in trading for Kanter. I’ve listed three teams below and scenarios that I personally believe would fit well for Enes Kanter. I will only include Enes Kanter from the Knicks and no draft picks to be traded in these scenarios because Kanter is the only player as of now on the Knicks that they would trade. Not going to big in depth on the draft picks.

First Trade (NYK & LAC): LAC receive C Enes Kanter. NYK receive C Marcin Gortat, G Patrick Beverly.

The Clippers would receive Enes Kanter who is an outstanding rebounder, which is a major piece that the Clippers need on their team. Right now for the Clippers, their current leader in rebounds is Tobias Harris, averaging 8.0 rpg. Kanter has averaged 10+ rebounds within the last two seasons and would be an improvement to the team. Also, Kanter is a promising scorer at the center position, averaging 14.9 ppg within the last two seasons with the Knicks which is much needed for the Clippers young lineup. The Clippers are currently a playoff team that can confidently be a playoff team within the next couple of seasons. So with Kanter in their lineup, they can improve their backcourt by pairing Kanter with current Clipper Montrezl Harrell.

As for the Knicks, they would receive Marcin Gortat and Patrick Beverly who are veterans in the NBA. Adding a new Center to the Knicks in Marcin Gortat would be a major change in their rotation and most likely have Coach Fizdale give more minutes to the young centers in Luke Kornet and Mitchell Robinson. Giving Robinson more minutes might not sound like a good idea to most Knicks fans as of now, due to his injuries and development, but he would be better defensive presence in the paint then Kanter was. The Knicks will also be adding another guard to the team in Pat Beverly who can help the young guards on the team. Beverly has a strong work ethic that can help the young guys with their game.

Second Trade (NYK & CHA): CHA receive C Enes Kanter. NYK receive F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and F/C Frank Kaminsky.

At this point into the NBA season, the Charlotte Hornets are hoping to maintain a spot in the NBA playoffs as they are currently looking to stay as one of the top 8 seeds in the eastern conference. With Kemba Walker having the best season of his career, averaging a career high in points, he could really use some help with a new center added to their team. Within the recent years, the Hornets have not had a solid player at the center position. They’ve relied on players such as Bismack Biyambo, Dwight Howard, and Cody Zeller within the years. Cody Zeller was their the 4thpick in the 2013 and has averaged a total of 8.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, & 0.7 bpg during his six seasons as a Charlotte Hornet. Zeller is also currently out for 4-6 weeks of the regular season due to having surgery on his right hand. Kanter would be a great fit for the Hornets at the center position until Zeller is ready to get back onto the court.

The Knicks would receive Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Frank Kaminsky. Kidd-Gilchrist wasn’t the promising player that the Hornets were expecting after drafting him at the number two spot in the 2012 NBA Draft. Since his arrival in the NBA, MKG is averaging 9.0 ppg and 5.8 rpg in his career. Sending Kidd-Gilchrist to New York can give him more of an opportunity to place since only playing 19 minutes per game right now with Charlotte. Kaminsky is a stretch forward who can also play the center position. With his ability to shoot the three point line, Kaminsky can help out the Knicks current offense with the loss of Kanter and Porzingis. Kaminsky is also a RFA this coming offseason as well. Whether he works out or not, the Knicks can find a way to match offers with other teams who are interested in him.

Third Trade (NYK & SAC): SAC receive C Enes Kanter. NYK would receive Zach Randolph.

This was trade that both teams had discussed on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. It was first tweeted out by NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski.

This trade would be beneficial for both teams in this trade. For Sacramento, they can add a big man who they can promise to consistently put up 10+ points and rebounds in every game he plays. Their current starting center Willie Cauley-Stein has been improving since his rookie year but isn’t that consistent with double-doubles like Kanter is. To make room on the starting lineup, the Kings can slide Cauley-Stein down to the power forward position, start Kanter at the center position,  and have Nemanja Bjelica come off the bench. With the addition of Enes Kanter, the Kings can improve their offensive rebounding stat line.

Z-Bo would return to the New York since being traded by the Knicks in 2008. As a 37 year old last season, Randolph averaged a total of 14.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, and 2.2 apg while only playing 25 minutes each game. Even though he didn’t finish the season and hasn’t played at all yet in this current season, he would be a great leader on the young team. The 2-time all-star has yet to average under 10 points per game since his 2ndseason in the league. Even getting older in age, it seems like he has not yet lost his touch in the game of basketball. 

In my opinion, Enes Kanter belongs on a playoff team that has a bright future ahead of them. Clearly the Knicks aren’t that team in his mind. This trade may happen before the trade deadline or it may happen during the offseason. So as of now, we just have to wait and see. 

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.

Celtics Cruise by Nets, 116-95

The Boston Celtics won a wire-to-wire victory over a Brooklyn Nets team that never really looked like a threat throughout the game. The C’s crushed the Nets by 21 points, 116-95, winning their third consecutive game to start the New Year.

The Celtics had eight players in double figures led by Kyrie Irving who scored 17 points and dished out six assists. Second year forward Jayson Tatum continues his stellar play this season as he racked up 16 points along with four rebounds and four assists.

Boston’s Defense shuts down Brooklyn’s PG Duo

The Nets on the other hand didn’t look like a team that had just won eight of their last 10 games, their leading scorer D’Angelo Russell didn’t show up for Brooklyn. Russell came into last night’s game averaging 18.4 points per game and scored over 22 points in his last three games, but last night he had one of his worse performances of the year. Russell scored only five points on 2-6 shooting from the field and had six turnovers.

Sixth man of the year candidate, Spencer Dinwiddie, also had trouble scoring against Boston’s defense, he managed to score 15 points while shooting 40 percent from the field. What hasn’t been working for Dinwiddie this season is his three point shooting and last night was no different. On the season Dinwiddie is shooting 36 percent from behind the arc, against Boston last night he shot 1-of-6 from three.

Total Team Effort on Both Ends of the Floor

The Celtics came out strong in the first quarter, outscoring Brooklyn by 12 to end the quarter up 34-22. But as we’ve seen on multiple occasions with this Boston squad they’ve been having some issue holding a lead at the start of the third quarter. Against the Spurs they gave up 46 points in the third, against Minnesota they gave up 39 points and verse the Rockets they were outscored 35-31 in the third quarter.

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Kyrie Irving dances around Nets, Shabazz Napier. (Photo credit, MassLive.com)

Boston held an 11 point lead heading into halftime and in the third Brooklyn made a run that cut the deficit to five points with 9:39 remaining. It might have been the team Boston was up against, but they managed to reel a run of their own and end quarter up 12 points, 86-74.

Marcus Morris, Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Gordon Hayward each scored 12 points, Terry Rozier contributed with 10 points and four assists and Daniel Theis scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds off the bench.

Boston will continue their home stretch as they host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. Indiana has won seven of their last 10 games and sits in the fourth seed in the east, just 2.5 games behind the first seeded Milwaukee Bucks.

Three Things Boston has to do to get by Streaking Nets

The Boston Celtics are currently riding a two game win streak with wins over western conference opponents in the Timberwolves and Mavericks, but tonight Boston will face a scrappy Brooklyn Nets team who are sitting in the seventh spot in the east. The Nets have won eight of their last 10 games and find themselves in the playoff picture for the first time since the 2014-15 season. They also have six players averaging double digit scoring.

These are three major points Boston has to do if they want to come away with a win.

Get Jarrett Allen in Foul Trouble

Since Aron Baynes went down with a broken hand last month the Celtics have had a hard time defending the paint. The team is averaging 34.4 defensive rebounds a game, but their undersized big men in Al Horford, Daniel Theis and Guerschon Yabusele have been getting pounded down low. We saw that in their loss against the Houston Rockets as Clint Capela finished the game with 19 rebounds. The Timberwolves didn’t go down easy either, Karl-Anthony Towns gave Boston trouble in the paint putting up 28 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

Brooklyn’s Jarrett Allen is in the conversation for defensive player of the year averaging 1.4 blocks per game (BPG). Allen has been a force in the paint for the Nets all season, he’s had some impressive blocks against MVP caliber players in LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo. With Baynes and Robert Williams out, Boston’s undersized big men are going to have to control Allen in the paint, which is easier said than done considering Allen is averaging 8.3 rebounds a game (RPG). Boston’s guards will have to get Allen into foul trouble so they can get easy buckets against backup center Ed Davis in switches and in the pick-n-roll.

Slow Down PG Duo of Dinwiddie and Russell

With Caris LeVert going down with a nasty ankle injury in November, in what seemed to be a similar injury that Gordon Hayward suffered last season, D’Angelo Russell has took it upon himself to carry the team offensively. He’s had helped from back-up point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who’s also in the conversation for sixth man of the year, averaging 17.2 points per game (PPG) off the bench. Russell himself is putting up 18.4 PPG and dishing out 6.4 assists per game (APG).

Marcus Smart and Kyrie Irving, who is returning from an eye injury after missing two games, are going to have to play tight defense against Russell and Dinwiddie who over the season have shown to be a match-up problem on the offensive end. Dinwiddie and Russell have respectively put up over 30 points on multiple occasions. The 6’6 Dinwiddie is going to be a match-up problem against the smaller Boston point guards in Smart, Irving and Terry Rozier.

Out Hustle Brooklyn

If we were talking about last season’s Boston Celtics we wouldn’t be having this discussion in terms of hustle plays, but that’s not the case for this season team. The Celtics ability to overcome deficits last season was the team’s identity, they had an 8-5 winning record after trailing by at least 13 points and 5-4 in games when they were down by at least 17 points. But this season Boston’s only has had a few gritty comeback victories against the Philadelphia 76ers on Christmas day, Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City at the start of the season.

Brooklyn is obviously the underdog going into Monday’s match-up, but under head coach Kenny Atkinson they’re grinding out victories against big time playoff opponents. They picked up wins over the Sixers, Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers and Charlotte Hornets. Brooklyn are top ten in the NBA in offensive rebound percentage at 29.7 percent, which can play can be a big key if they want to steal a win in Boston.