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The new All-Star Game format offers intrigue as old format has shown to be stale


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A picture of tip-off at the 2017 NBA All-Star Game Courtesy: http://www.nba.com

 

So, the new NBA All-Star Game format could either be fun, or it could be just as mediocre as the current product.

The current product, which consists of the Western Conference beating the Eastern Conference six times during the past seven seasons, is not that bad. The All-Star Game isn’t supposed to be a battle. It’s supposed to be a relaxing, yet entertaining game that features the league’s stars.

The current product could still be better, though, and the NBA’s latest modification to All-Star Weekend perhaps has the potential to show positive return.

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced Tuesday that the 2018 All-Star Game will not pit the Eastern Conference and Western Conference against each other. This season marks the first time in league history that the All-Star Game won’t have the conferences play each other.

Each team will have a captain, which will be the starter who receives the most fan votes in their conference. Then the two captains will pick from a pool of players who were voted as starters or reserves for the game.

Looking at how the NBA has recently thrived upon a culture of stars teaming up, this new format could be interesting.

Say LeBron James earns the most fan votes for the Eastern Conference. That’s something that is likely to happen. If he’s captain, then he has total control of who he picks, so long as those players are in the preset pool.

The All-Star Game will still be the All-Star Game, what with its high-flying dunks and compelling one-on-one matchups.

But now, fans can truly see how James, or any other star, would construct a team. If Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony are All-Stars this season, the idea of the banana boat squad playing together is possible.

James and his close friends could all be on the same team under the new format, but what’s more intriguing is who would be on the other team. Looking at the West, players like Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are likely to be at the top of the fan voting.

If Curry constructed a team of Durant, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis and other stars, this game could live up to its billing for once. Intriguing storylines would arise.

Would Curry and James battle in a mid-season exhibition as they lead their teams?

Considering Irving will be an All-Star this season, would James draft him, even after the trade fiasco? And on top of that, would James draft Russell Westbrook, fueling the storyline of Durant versus Westbrook, former teammates that prospered in Oklahoma City?

The intrigue that can come out of this new format is endless. But while the new format has potential, it also has some potential disadvantages.

This new format could still be filled with high-flying alley-oops and minimal defense. It’s still a mid-season exhibition. All-Star Weekend is a time when players try to rest before the second half of the season and impending playoff push.

In addition to the game remaining the same, the new format could enable fans to affect the game more.

The fans are basically choosing the captains, and if they don’t pick a superstar – someone like James or Curry – the intriguing storylines could vanish.

If this new format works, meaning players, fans and team front offices enjoy it, then it’s hard to see the NBA switching back to the old format.

The old format wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good, either. It was time for a change.

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Cleveland Cavaliers · New York Knicks

For An Offseason In Shambles, Derrick Rose Is A Bright Spot For Cavs


Courtesy: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/knicks/derrick-rose-not-team-knicks-home-game-pelicans-article-1.2941886
Derrick Rose signed a one-year, $2.1 million deal Monday with the Cavs

 

This could be good for every party: the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose.

When news broke last Friday that Irving wanted out of Cleveland, the Cavs’ kingdom went full Jenga. Irving’s desires to leave toppled the Cavs’ wild offseason. The Cavs appeared to be doomed, destined for one final year of relevancy.

But when the Cavs signed Rose to a one-year, $2.1 million contract Monday, the murmurs of a franchise hurtling toward disaster thinned. The Cavs still have blemishes. Irving doesn’t want to play with James anymore. He wants to be the star somewhere else.

But at least now the Cavs can let Irving depart in peace. Irving can go become a star, and the Cavs can worry about salvaging an offseason that has been so bad, its memory should be seared into the front office’s brains.

Rose isn’t nearly as good as Irving, but he was once. 2011, the year Rose became the youngest player ever to win the NBA MVP award, seems like eons ago. Rose led the Chicago Bulls to the league’s best record, and the Bulls were the top team in the East.

Rose was only 22 when he won MVP, and he was a top-five player in the league. But in 2012, his career went into shambles. After suffering a torn ACL in the first round of the 2012 NBA playoffs, Rose missed the following season. And then after that, he suffered a torn meniscus in 2013.

Since 2014, Rose hasn’t played a full season. But in each season since 2014, he has played in 50 or more games. Near the end of last season, Rose suffered another meniscus tear. He played in 64 games for the New York Knicks.

Though Rose hasn’t been fully healthy since 2012, he had a decent year last season. And that bodes well for the Cavs. He averaged 18.0 points per game on 47.1 percent shooting.

Rose is the type of point guard the Cavs need, especially with Irving likely gone. No longer is he a No. 1 option; he won’t constantly need the ball. But he’s still capable of scoring when necessary.

Rose’s abilities on offense will allow James to fully flourish. The dynamic James and Irving shared always seemed awkward, even though it gave the Cavs a championship in 2016. Irving needed to control the ball, and James did too. This awkwardness made for a Cavs offense that was never as good as it could have been.

Now James can nearly fully control the offense. Rose isn’t a facilitator. He’s essentially going to be a full-time slasher now, penetrating defenses like he used to do in Chicago.

The Rose addition benefits another player who struggled in the Cavs’ system, too: Kevin Love. The awkwardness that was present in James’ and Irving’s on-court relationship spilled into Love’s decreased production.

Some games Love would play as if he was on the Minnesota Timberwolves again, scoring at will and grabbing rebounds with ease. Other games it was easy to forget he was even on the floor.

Love’s role is going to increase assuming Irving is traded. He’s going to earn more shots, and that’s because James will be in full control of the offense.

A franchise that was in peril now appears to be in less peril, but peril nonetheless. At one time, Irving seemed as if he was untouchable. He was too good to be dealt, too valuable for the Cavs’ efforts at winning a title.

But he wants to leave, and now the Cavs can let him.

 

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Cavs-Warriors is this Generation’s Celtics-Lakers, and that’s a great thing


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The Cavs-Warriors rivalry is similar to the Celtics-Lakers rivalry of the 1980s Courtesy: http://www.cnbc.com

My father grew up in the 1980s, when hip-hop was on the rise and disco was slowly beginning to fade.

And the NBA was beginning to flourish.

While his father rooted for the Boston Celtics, composed of Hall of Famers in Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and the late Dennis Johnson, my dad, great-uncle and the rest of the family rooted for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Celtics were gritty, hard-nosed. And the Lakers were “Showtime,” flying up and down the floor with Magic Johnson throwing no-look passes to teammates such as James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The Celtics and Lakers met three times in the NBA Finals during the ’80s, with the Lakers winning two titles to the Celtics’ one. Aside from the rivalry, though, another stat was more important: Throughout the decade, either the Celtics or the Lakers made an appearance on the NBA’s biggest stage.

The Celtics-Lakers rivalry ignited the NBA, and the league hasn’t looked back. Now, though, the league looks poised to begin another golden age.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers throttling the Celtics 135-102 on Thursday in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, they advanced to the NBA Finals and will play the Golden State Warriors.

The NBA will have its first Finals trilogy in league history.

The Warriors have been waiting for revenge, after blowing a 3-1 lead in last year’s Finals. And the Cavs are prepared to defend the throne. It’s a rivalry that needs to be appreciated.

Because even though the Cavs-Warriors rivalry is similar to the Celtics-Lakers battles of the ’80s, sports fans likely won’t see something of this magnitude again.

Despite this year’s NBA Finals historic nature, fans have lamented over the league’s lack of competition, especially in the postseason. The Warriors got to the Finals smoothly, entering them at 12-0. And aside from a hiccup in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs are entering the Finals unscathed at 12-1.

My father fell in love with the NBA in the ‘80s, and I’ve been in love with the league since I was 10. He’s seen the original movie before, but myself and the rest of my generation are receiving a remake that is perhaps better than the original.

The Warriors are the league’s sweethearts, yet they are also the league’s villains. The team’s fans love to see 3-pointers launched at will, and the team’s haters despise those same 3-pointers that are sometimes made from well beyond the 3-point line.

Already boasting a tough trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, the Warriors added Kevin Durant, too, boosting their mystique. But harken back to the ’80s, and you’ll see a mirror image.

The Lakers and the Celtics had at least three stars in their respective starting lineups. Magic, Abdul-Jabbar, Worthy, Scott and Michael Cooper highlighted the Lakers. Dennis, Bird, McHale and Robert Parish headlined the Celtics.

Yes, the Warriors are stacked. They’re like the boss character on a videogame, a character that seems impossible to defeat.

But the Cavs are more than capable of competing against perhaps the league’s best team.

The Cavs have LeBron James, who sealed his spot Thursday as the NBA’s all-time points leader in the playoffs. James surpassed Michael Jordan, and the accomplishment is just one more thing to add to his journey of overtaking Jordan as the best player ever.

Add Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and a solid bench to the mix, and the Finals is set to be epic again.

As the Cavs finished defeating the Celtics, my father and I sat on the couch, watching in awe. He began to talk about those old Celtics squads, even the ones composed of legendary players such as Sam Jones, Bill Russell and John Havlicek. These were players his father cheered for, along with the ’80s Celtics.

My father wanted the Showtime Lakers to prevail in the ‘80s, but in 2017, there is no opposition between father and son. We both love the Cavs.

But somewhere, perhaps another father-son duo is already beginning their heated arguments about these two teams that have captivated NBA fans for the past three years.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Andrew Bogut’s Injury is Unfortunate, But The Cavs Never Really Needed Him


Cleveland Cavaliers’ Andrew Bogut warms up before an NBA basketball game between the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Monday, March 6, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
http://www.si.com/nba/2017/03/06/andrew-bogut-cleveland-cavaliers-leg-injury-news

The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA title last season without a legitimate rim protector. Standing at 7 feet 1 inches, Timofey Mozgov was not an effective big man. LeBron James, the quintessential positionless player, led the Cavs with 16 blocks during the Finals.

Mozgov, the Cavs’ tallest player last season, was borderline useless, not being able to run the floor well for dunks or succeed in the pick and roll. He averaged five minutes per game in the Finals for a reason.

So, why did the Cavs feel as though they needed to bring in Andrew Bogut?

Bogut earned a buyout with the Philadelphia 76ers after being traded from the Dallas Mavericks. The Cavs picked him up, and he made his debut Monday night against the Miami Heat.

But not even playing a minute, Bogut fractured his left tibia, his leg colliding with Heat forward Okaro White. Bogut will be out indefinitely.

James spoke about Bogut’s injury, saying that the Cavs were excited about adding Bogut to the roster. The Cavs were justified in being excited about their addition; adding a player of Bogut’s size is never a bad thing.

But the addition wasn’t necessary.

Despite Bogut’s unfortunate injury, the Cavs have big men. Not all of them are healthy, but even so, it’s the regular season; the Cavs don’t need all their big men right now. Tristan Thompson grabs rebounds, Channing Frye stretches the floor, and at 6 feet 11 inches, Frye can at least provide a big body. Kevin Love, the Cavs’ best big, has been out with a left knee injury since February.

Though Love is out, the Cavs (42-20) are the top team in the Eastern Conference. The Boston Celtics are three games out of first place, and guard Isaiah Thomas hasn’t liked the team’s “experimenting” lately.

The Celtics are the only team in the Eastern Conference that has a legitimate chance of dethroning the Cavs — and their chance isn’t even that high, with Thomas being the Celtics’ lone option on offense.

Along with Love, the Cavs are waiting for J.R. Smith to return. Smith suffered a thumb injury in December 2016, but the Cavs are hopeful he can return soon.

When Love and Smith return, the Cavs will have returned, too. For the Cavs, a team that has suffered injuries throughout the season, will be in position to win their second straight title with the team at full strength.

The Cavs will have James — with him alone, anything is possible. But on top of that, they will have Kyrie Irving, Love and a bench that will perhaps be one of the best in the NBA. Frye, Richard Jefferson, Iman Shumpert, Kyle Korver and Deron Williams will be part of a second unit that will help maintain the starters’ success.

Sure, the addition of Bogut was nice. But it was like buying an Xbox One when you already had a PlayStation 4. Bogut wouldn’t have been that much of a difference maker.