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Miller’s NBA Playoff Predictions

In my first year trying I dominated my fantasy basketball league, finishing 9 (Roto) points ahead of the next guy, grabbing the most assists, steals, blocks, and three pointers. Now that that is done, the next obstacle is the real NBA Playoffs.

Generally, the playoffs go to the teams that play better defense, shoot better free throws and stay healthy, and that is where I trend.  Here are my picks for the first round (in order of comment length). There are traditionally few upsets in the NBA, but I have a few.

- Nets vs. Bulls: When the Nets fired Avery Johnson back in the day when they were 14-14 I said it was a good thing for the team and that Brooklyn will improve and not only make the playoffs but they would win a series. Joachim Noah has a bad foot that makes him doubtful for Game 1 and compromised in the series. Derrick Rose could surprise everyone and decide to play, and that could change things as the Nets have struggled against quick and offense-minded point guards. But Rose hasn’t faced NBA competition in twelve months, so even if he did play he wouldn’t be effective. Meanwhile, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are playing their best ball of the year right now, and a few extra days off should help Joe Johnson be in prime condition. Reggie Evans has emerged as the best rebounder in the NBA. Historically, D-Will performs at the highest level in the playoffs. Bulls are a trendy pick; in fact, it seems like the Nets are the underdogs. Nets advance in their first year in Brooklyn. Nets in 5

- Knicks vs. Celtics. Knicks set the record for most threes in a season. Historically, teams reliant on the three-ball have not done as well in the playoffs. Also, the Knicks haven’t won a playoff series in thirteen years. They are facing a Celtics team that is missing Rajon Rondo but still has KG, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers, along with Jason Terry off the bench who has hit big playoff shots in his career. Celtics have been waiting for the playoffs for a month now. They don’t have much depth, especially in the middle, and that could cause concern, especially if Garnett gets in foul trouble. Carmelo Anthony is the best player in the series, but if he and J.R. Smith fall in love with the mid-range and shots from downtown, Boston will come away on top. And how nice that would be for a city coming off such a terrible tragedy. Celtics in 7

- Nuggets and Warriors. I like the Warriors’ team and I want to pick them here, but for a lot of the same reason as the Knicks, I’ve gotta go with Denver. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are great shooters but in the playoffs the better defensive team usually controls the game. Even in Curry’s best games when he takes over the Warriors still typically don’t win. And the Nuggets are really solid perimeter defenders. One concern for Denver is health; they are losing players (Gallinari, Faried, etc.) at the wrong time of the year. If Golden State can get the ball inside to David Lee and Andrew Bogut regularly rather than I like their chances but I’m afraid they won’t do that. Nuggets in 7

- Clippers vs. Grizzlies. These are two great teams in one of the best matchups of the first round and a rematch of last year. Lob City won in seven games last year, but I’ve gotta go with my gut and my heart and pick the Grizzlies; I like their defense and inside game with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. And to pick another stat I like, Memphis is a Top Ten free throw team while the Clippers are a bottom five, and free throws could make the difference in a long tight series. Grizzlies in 7

- Thunder and Rockets. An intriguing matchup as James Harden faces his former team. There was a lot of talk at the beginning of the season as to whether the Thunder made a big mistake “breaking up the band” so early but they still managed to finish on top in the West and are the favorites to represent in the Finals again. Rockets are exciting with Harden, James Lin, Chandler Parsons and Thomas Robinson but they just don’t play much defense and OKC is simply a much better team. Thunder in 6

- Spurs vs. Lakers. Lakers aren’t very good with or without Kobe. Tim Duncan is having one of his best ever seasons and now is where his focus has been. There is no focus in LA and Dwight Howard is going to be shooting about 18 free throws a game. How many can he make? Not enough. I like San Antonio big in this series. Spurs in 4

- Heat vs. Bucks.  LeBron and Bosh are playing their best ball of their careers and while Wade has played in just 3 of the last 10 games, he played 23 effective minutes in their last contest. Heat haven’t even been trying and they’ve still won 8 in a row. Won’t be a sweep, but the Bucks won’t challenge the Heat too much. Heat in 5

- Pacers vs. Hawks. Atlanta has been falling apart lately and they just aren’t that good! They haven’t beaten anybody good in over a month. Indiana’s defense will wear out the Hawks and end the series quickly. Pacers in 5

EAST
Heat in 5
Celtics in 7
Pacers in 5
Nets in 5

WEST
Spurs in 4
Thunder in 6
Nuggets in 7
Grizzlies in 7

FINALS
Heat over Spurs in 6

Dwight Howard Says Kobe Bryant is Teaching Him to Be a Man

I would hope that Dwight Howard is starting to figure things out, but because he talks so much and contradict himself so often, you have to wonder.

Dwight spoke to the media again and said that it took him half the season, but he understands now what Kobe was saying about keeping the clown act in Orlando.

“It’s going to make me a better man and a better player from watching Kobe,” Howard said.

“Besides just the expectations,” he said. “In games, I mess up and there’s somebody in the crowd saying something and I’m ready to snap at ‘em. That’s not what we’re supposed to do.

“But you look at a guy like Kobe and he doesn’t care about nothing but going out there and playing hard. That’s a lesson a lot of us have to learn — especially young guys.”

“I told him [Bryant]: ‘I’m afraid to miss. When I get out there, I don’t want to miss, and I end up missing.’ And he was like: ‘You know what? Shoot 1,000 jumpshots a day. You’re going to miss a lot of those shots. But that’s OK. Because you’re teaching yourself it’s OK to miss.’

“Now I see it. He gets out there and he might miss a couple 3s, but then he’ll make nine in a row. You see that and it just kind of gives you more inspiration.”

Dwight Howard is a grown man with 5 Baby Mamas, he shouldn’t need Kobe to teach him to be a better man, but maybe he needed to see someone who takes his profession seriously to wake up and realize he isn’t a child anymore.

It might be too little, too late for the Lakers, but they are making a push currently for the playoffs. Dwight Howard is going to have to stop clowning and start balling for them to make it.

Check out other great articles at BlackSportsOnline.

Bret Leuthner Sports Program – February 19, 2013 – Part 2

Bret Leuthner and George Bretherton talk more NCAA and then get into some other sports as well.

BLSP February 19 Part 2

Hey, I thought it was supposed to be like…

Sometimes things don’t happen exactly like you expect, especially in the NBA.

1. Nets can’t beat good teams. (Four straight wins over teams at or above .500)

2. Pacers are a poor offensive team. (Drop 125 on New York Knicks)

3. Warriors are one of the more dangerous teams in the West. (Six straight blowout losses)

4. On the Rockets instead of the Thunder, James Harden will struggle in the second half as defenses gang up on him. (Scores 46 in a win over his old team, the Thunder)

5. Kobe is the only player on the Lakers doing any good. (Bryant is just 1 for his last 33 three point tries, dating back to January 20)

6. Lakers, Nets, Knicks, Hawks, Bucks, Celtics, Clippers and Jazz all want to make some moves. (All staying put hours from the trade deadline)

7. Grizzlies are mailing in the season by trading Rudy Gay. (Grizz are about to win their 6th in a row)

8. Utah will slide out of the playoff picture as the Lakers catch up. (Jazz have won three straight and have a five game lead over the Lakers)

9. Knicks are a premier team in the East and are the Heat’s primary competition. (14-14 in their last 28 games, haven’t beat a .500+ team on the road since December 11)

10. Spurs are old and won’t be able to keep it up. (Won 15 of their last 16 games and hold best record in the NBA)

Just some observations. I guess it’s just one more reason why the NBA is such a great game.

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The Dovid Dobin Show 2/18/2013: Hour 1

Jerry Buss, MJ v. LJ (v. Kobe), and the Colorado Rockies.

The Dovid Dobin Show 2/18/2013: Hour 1

Lakers’ flamboyant owner Jerry Buss dies at 80

Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers’ playboy owner who shepherded the NBA team to 10 championships from the Showtime dynasty of the 1980s to the Kobe Bryant era, died Monday. He was 80.

Buss had been hospitalized for most of the past 18 months while undergoing cancer treatment, but the immediate cause of death was kidney failure, Steiner said. With his condition worsening in recent weeks, several prominent former Lakers visited Buss to say goodbye.

“The NBA has lost a visionary owner whose influence on our league is incalculable and will be felt for decades to come,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said. “More importantly, we have lost a dear and valued friend.”

Under Buss’ leadership since 1979, the Lakers became Southern California’s most beloved sports franchise and a worldwide extension of Hollywood glamour. Buss acquired, nurtured and befriended a staggering array of talented players and basketball minds during his Hall of Fame tenure, from Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard.

“He was a great man and an incredible friend,” Johnson tweeted.

Few owners in sports history can approach Buss’ accomplishments with the Lakers, who made the NBA finals 16 times during his nearly 34 years in charge, winning 10 titles between 1980 and 2010. With 1,786 victories, the Lakers easily are the NBA’s winningest franchise since he bought the club, which is now run largely by Jim Buss and Jeanie Buss, two of his six children.

“We not only have lost our cherished father, but a beloved man of our community and a person respected by the world basketball community,” the Buss family said in a statement issued by the Lakers.

“It was our father’s often-stated desire and expectation that the Lakers remain in the Buss family. The Lakers have been our lives as well, and we will honor his wish and do everything in our power to continue his unparalleled legacy.”

Buss always referred to the Lakers as his extended family, and his players rewarded his fanlike excitement with devotion, friendship and two hands full of championship rings. Working with front-office executives Jerry West, Bill Sharman and Mitch Kupchak, Buss spent lavishly to win his titles despite lacking a huge personal fortune, often running the NBA’s highest payroll while also paying high-profile coaches Pat Riley and Phil Jackson.

Always an innovative businessman, Buss paid for the Lakers through both their wild success and his own groundbreaking moves to raise revenue. He co-founded a basic-cable sports television network and sold the naming rights to the Forum at times when both now-standard strategies were unusual, further justifying his induction to the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

Buss was a “cornerstone of the Los Angeles sports community and his name will always be synonymous with his beloved Lakers,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. “It was through his stewardship that the Lakers brought `Showtime’ basketball and numerous championship rings to this great city. Today we mourn the loss and celebrate the life of a man who helped shape the modern landscape of sports in L.A.”

Johnson and fellow Hall of Famers Abdul-Jabbar and Worthy formed lifelong bonds with Buss during the Lakers’ run to five titles in nine years in the 1980s, when the Lakers earned a reputation as basketball’s most exciting team with their flamboyant Showtime style.

The buzz extended throughout the Forum, where Buss used the Laker Girls, a brass band and promotions to keep Los Angeles fans interested in all four quarters of their games. Courtside seats, priced at $15 when he bought the Lakers, became the hottest tickets in Hollywood – and they still are, with fixture Jack Nicholson and many other celebrities attending every home game.

Worthy tweeted that Buss was “not only the greatest sports owner, but a true friend & just a really cool guy. Loved him dearly.”

After a rough stretch of the 1990s for the Lakers, Jackson led O’Neal and Bryant to a three-peat from 2000-02, rekindling the Lakers’ mystique, before Bryant and Pau Gasol won two more titles under Jackson in 2009 and 2010. The Lakers have struggled mightily during their current season despite adding Howard and Steve Nash, and could miss the playoffs for just the third time since Buss bought the franchise.

“Today is a very sad day for all the Lakers and basketball,” Gasol tweeted. “All my support and condolences to the Buss family. Rest in peace Dr. Buss.”

Although Buss gained fame and fortune with the Lakers, he also was a scholar, Renaissance man and bon vivant who epitomized California cool his entire public life.

Buss rarely appeared in public without at least one attractive, much younger woman on his arm at USC football games, high-stakes poker tournaments, hundreds of boxing matches promoted by Buss at the Forum – and, of course, Lakers games from his private box at Staples Center, which was built under his watch. In failing health recently, Buss hadn’t attended a Lakers game this season.

Buss earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at age 24 and had careers in aerospace and real estate development before getting into sports. With money from his real-estate ventures and a good bit of creative accounting, Buss bought the then-struggling Lakers, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and both clubs’ arena – the Forum – from Jack Kent Cooke in a $67.5 million deal that was the largest sports transaction in history at the time.

Last month, Forbes estimated the Lakers were worth $1 billion, second most in the NBA.

Buss also helped change televised sports by co-founding the Prime Ticket network in 1985, receiving a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006 for his work in television. Breaking the contemporary model of subscription services for televised sports, Buss’ Prime Ticket put beloved broadcaster Chick Hearn and the Lakers’ home games on basic cable.

Buss also sold the naming rights to the Forum in 1988 to Great Western Savings & Loan – another deal that was ahead of its time.

Born in Salt Lake City, Gerald Hatten Buss was raised in poverty in Wyoming before improving his life through education. He also grew to love basketball, describing himself as an “overly competitive but underly endowed player.”

After graduating from the University of Wyoming, Buss attended USC for graduate school. He became a chemistry professor and worked as a chemist for the Bureau of Mines before carving out a path to wealth and sports prominence.

The former mathematician’s fortune grew out of a $1,000 real-estate investment in a West Los Angeles apartment building with partner Frank Mariani, an aerospace engineer and co-worker.

Heavily leveraging his fortune and various real-estate holdings, Buss purchased Cooke’s entire Los Angeles sports empire in 1979, including a 13,000-acre ranch in Kern County. Buss cited his love of basketball as the motivation for his purchase, and he immediately worked to transform the Lakers – who had won just one NBA title since moving west from Minneapolis in 1960 – into a star-powered endeavor befitting Hollywood.

“One of the first things I tried to do when I bought the team was to make it an identification for this city, like Motown in Detroit,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2008. “I try to keep that identification alive. I’m a real Angeleno. I want us to be part of the community.”

Buss’ plans immediately worked: Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar and coach Paul Westhead led the Lakers to the 1980 title. Johnson’s ball-handling wizardry and Abdul-Jabbar’s smooth inside game made for an attractive style of play evoking Hollywood flair and West Coast sophistication.

Riley, the former broadcaster who fit the L.A. image perfectly with his slick-backed hair and good looks, was surprisingly promoted by Buss early in the 1981-82 season after West declined to co-coach the team. Riley became one of the best coaches in NBA history, leading the Lakers to four straight NBA finals and four titles, with Worthy, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and A.C. Green playing major roles.

Overall, the Lakers made the finals nine times in Buss’ first 12 seasons while rekindling the NBA’s best rivalry with the Boston Celtics, and Buss basked in the worldwide celebrity he received from his team’s achievements. His womanizing and partying became Hollywood legend, with even his players struggling to keep up with Buss’ lifestyle.

Johnson’s HIV diagnosis and retirement in 1991 staggered Buss and the Lakers, the owner recalled in 2011. The Lakers struggled through much of the 1990s, going through seven coaches and making just one conference finals appearance in an eight-year stretch despite the 1996 arrivals of O’Neal, who signed with Los Angeles as a free agent, and Bryant, the 17-year-old high schooler acquired in a draft-week trade.

Shaq and Kobe didn’t reach their potential until Buss persuaded Jackson, the Chicago Bulls’ six-time NBA champion coach, to take over the Lakers in 1999. Los Angeles immediately won the next three NBA titles in brand-new Staples Center, AEG’s state-of-the-art downtown arena built with the Lakers as the primary tenant.

After the Lakers traded O’Neal in 2004, they hovered in mediocrity again until acquiring Gasol in a heist of a trade with Memphis in early 2008. Los Angeles made the next three NBA finals, winning two more titles.

Through the Lakers’ frequent successes and occasional struggles, Buss never stopped living his Hollywood dream. He was an avid poker player and a fixture on the Los Angeles club scene well into his 70s, when a late-night drunk-driving arrest in 2007 – with a 23-year-old woman in the passenger seat of his Mercedes-Benz – prompted him to cut down on his partying.

Buss owned the NHL’s Kings from 1979-87, and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks won two league titles under Buss’ ownership. He also owned Los Angeles franchises in World Team Tennis and the Major Indoor Soccer League.

Buss’ children all have worked for the Lakers organization in various capacities for several years. Jim Buss, the Lakers’ executive vice president of player personnel and the second-oldest child, has taken over much of the club’s primary decision-making responsibilities in the last few years, while daughter Jeanie runs the franchise’s business side.

Jerry Buss still served two terms as president of the NBA’s Board of Governors and was actively involved in the 2011 lockout negotiations, developing blood clots in his legs attributed to his extensive travel during that time.

Buss is survived by six children: sons Johnny, Jim, Joey and Jesse, and daughters Jeanie Buss and Janie Drexel. He had eight grandchildren.

Where Are You Going? NBA Trade Deadline Edition

As the NBA’s trading deadline approaches this month, superstar names are being linked to superstar locations.

Although it’s impossible to predict what will happen between now and the February 21st deadline, one thing remains certain: the contenders will bolster their respective rosters as they prepare for deep playoff runs, while the pretenders will be telling their respective fan bases to get ready for next season.
With Memphis moving forward Rudy Gay last week, the first big trade of the season has been completed; however, this should only be the tip of the iceberg this season with names such as Pau Gasol, Josh Smith, Danny Granger and Kevin Garnett highlighting the list of players potentially on the move.
Yes, it’s a forward-dominated crop that could see the Utah Jazz moving one of its two starting big men – Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson – in addition to Denver parting ways with backup center Timofey Movgoz and Minnesota dealing former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams
While teams in the market for a big man could come away with an impact player, there’s a slim picking in filling voids in the back court.
Sacramento’s Tyree Evans, Orlando’s J.J. Reddick and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry are the top names on the list of guards who could be shipped.
Other names that could be switching jersey before the end of the month are Detroit’s Rodney Stuckey, Brooklyn’s Andray Blatche, Phoenix’s Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat and Cleveland’s Daniel Gibson.
As for contenders looking to make a splash, the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets are expected to be the most aggressive along with the Atlanta Hawks, who arguably have the best trade chip in the versatile and youthful Smith.
Don’t sleep on the Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics, though. If there are two teams that will create the most headlines with their moves, it will be the two best franchises in league history.
How far are these respective clubs willing to go to improve in the second half of the season? Names such as Dwight Howard and Paul Pierceare beginning to be rumored as trading pieces.
Only time will tell, but what is certain is that the next two and half weeks will help alter the league’s landscape. The only question is can any of the moves made possibly help a team oust the King from his throne?
By Steve Coulter

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@c2cMTR w/ @Rick_Montelongo @JLaMorte21 2-6-13

c2c 2-6-13SBXLVII CHAMPSc2c 2-6-13   Super Bowl heartbreak for Rick’s 49ers, @Mrivesx3 with UFC156, Joey Baboots from the @MTRMorningShow, NBA and LaMorte’s Crazy theory of The National Anthem and Picking the Winner in the Super Bowl proves correct!

Lakers file complaint with NBA over hard fouls on Dwight Howard

When you are a big man in the NBA, you will consistently take a beating. It just comes with the territory of banging around under the basket. But when you are a liability at the free throw line, many teams decide to just take their chances and foul a big man and deal with the results at the free throw line. Lakers center Dwight Howard only shoots 49% at the free throw line. So he most certainly falls into that category.

But the problem becomes all the fouls and beating that Dwight ends up taking because of his free throw woes. Fouls that recently resulted in a shoulder injury that has left the center sidelined for the Lakers most recent stretch of games. It appears the Lakers don’t like how hard some of the fouls have been and decided to do something about it.

Via T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times:

There’s a protocol to airing opinions or complaints with the NBA. And we’ve done that.” said Mitch Kupchak. ”The game has evolved and like a lot of other sports where attention is now being given to protect players, the NBA is interested in doing so as well. I don’t know if they will review our concerns, but [hard fouls] have resulted in injury to one of our players.”


Not exactly sure what the Lakers expect to accomplish by filing this complaint but I can’t be upset at them trying to protect one of their star players.

We’ll just have to wait and see how the NBA responds.

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The Loaded Backfield 1-30-13

My Super Bowl 47 Preview & Prediction, Alex Rodriguez & Ray Lewis accused of using Performance Enhancing Drugs. Plus some Basketball Loaded Backfield 1-30-13

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