Wednesday, May 31, 2017

NBA Finals Predictions

Cavaliers/Warriors III

Two years ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers took the Golden State Warriors to 6 games despite losing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to injuries.  Cleveland fans swear that the Cavaliers could have won the series if healthy.

Last year, Golden State won a record 73 games during the regular season, and were up 3-1 on Cleveland before Cleveland won the last three games.  But Stephen Curry was banged up, and Draymond Green got suspended for game 5, and Golden State fans swear that the Warriors could have won the series if it hadn't been for those events.

Now after each team has won one series, they meet for a third time in a row in the NBA Finals.  A couple of interesting factors:

* The Warriors signed Kevin Durant as a free agent.  They took a chance- losing their bench to improve their starters.  It's a gamble that has paid off so far- the Warriors have been so dominant that they haven't tired off their starters

* The one Warrior who can't be on the floor is head coach Steve Kerr.  He's being replaced for this series by... Mike Brown, former coach of the Cavaliers.  I like Brown, but he's in a no-win situation: if the Warriors win, he gets no credit.  If they lose he'll get all of the blame.

* The Cavaliers are a great team- but the Warriors are phenomenal.  Curry and Durant are two of the five best players in the NBA.  Green and Thompson are two of the top twelve.  Put it this way- a team with LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving should almost never be considered an underdog- but Vegas clearly favors the Warriors. 

* Curry is one of the most popular players in the NBA, and so is Durant.  But the Warriors are so dominant- and Green has a reputation of a dirty player- that most NBA fans are rooting against the Warriors.

* I'm a Cleveland fan.  On paper, the Warriors should win- they have home field advantage.  And last year, Cleveland beat Golden States and outscored them by a total of FOUR points- and Golden State has added Kevin Durant to the team.  On paper, Golden State should win in 5 games.  And the only player who absolutely NEEDS to win this series is Durant- all of the other major players already have a title.

* But I believe in LeBron James.  Cleveland in 7.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James

It's become a valid debate.

Let's get this out of the way now- I'm a Cleveland fan, so there is a bias for the man who led Cleveland to their first NBA Title ever and their first championship in my lifetime.  But I think there's a good argument to be made here.

Right now, (IMHO), the top 8 NBA players of all time are:
Michael Jordan
Bill Russell
LeBron James
Tim Duncan
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Larry Bird
Magic Johnson
Kobe Bryant

And I've usually ranked them as #1 Jordan, and then you can make all sorts of arguments of the rest.

Bill Russell is a bit of an odd case- he played a decade before Kareem and 20+ years before anyone else.  He led a dominant Celtics team in a different era.  For now, let's just put him in the top eight and leave it there.

But now I think James is not only rising about that crowd of others, but is in a position to challenge Jordan.

Here's the best arguments I can make for both sides:

Pro-Jordan:
* 6-0 in the Finals
* If he hadn't left on his baseball sabbatical, there is no reason the Bulls couldn't have won eight in a row
* 7 MVPs
* How many times did Jordan kill off a team?  The Shot.  The Flu Game.  63 points against the Celtics.  
* The game has changed- but it's easier.  Imagine Jordan with the referee calling as many fouls as they do now?  No one would be able to stop him!

The Pro-James arguments:
* Longer career.  As of right now, Jordan has played more minutes and more playoff minutes than Jordan
* 7 straight finals
* The NBA today is higher caliber than it was in the 90s.  The players are more athletic today.  There's more teams.  Players that would thrive in the 1980s and 1990s might not make the team today.
* James played tougher opponents.  Did Jordan ever face anyone like the Duncan-led Spurs, the OKC Thunder, or the Warriors?  
* Of the top 8 players, six of them were coached by one of the Mount Rushmore of coaches (Red Auerbach/ Phil Jackson/Pat Riley/Gregg Popovich).  Bird and LeBron are the two exceptions.


Add it all up?

If you asked me, today (May 26th, 2017)... I'd still put Jordan over LeBron.

But...

Jordan never faced anything close to the 2017 Warriors.  "Let's take a 73 win team and add on one of the five best NBA players today?"  Jordan never really faced a great all time opponent.  Bird and Johnson's teams were past their peak when Jordan reached his peak.  The Kobe and Shaq Lakers came along after Jordan left.  The closest he faced a great team was the Hakeem/Barkley/Drexler Rockets- and that was after all three were past their prime.  

If James leads the Cavaliers over this Warriors team... I think that puts him over the edge.

Let the debate continue.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Game Status- Dragon Age: Inquisition

After 11 years, I finally left World of Warcraft- ran out of things to do in this expansion, and grinding faction by killing demons wasn't appealing to me.  Over a decade on one game is phenomenal- and who knows?  Maybe I'll come back at the next expansion.

But in the meantime, I tried a few other games.  

Borderlands 2 was fun, but I'm not good at shoot-em-ups... and after an hour or so, I started getting motion sickness.

Then I heard great things about Witcher 3.  It looks fantastic- and crashes 1 minute after starting.  I read a ton of various fixes... none of them worked for me.  

So finally I went back to my Playstation 3 (yes, 3; I'm a system behind) and started Dragon Age:  Inquisition.  I'm about 32 hours in.  Fun game, though not one I want to replay.  Some thoughts:

* Aligned with the Mages over the Templars
* Played a mage- haven't specialized yet
* My usual go-to party right now is Blackwall, Iron Bull, and Sera
* Romancing Josephine

Overall, a fun game- and nice to play something different.  Going to need to search for another game once I'm finished, though...

Monday, May 15, 2017

NBA Lottery Predictions

I haven't meant to turn this into a NBA blog- but I'm not in a mood to discuss politics, and unless you want to hear about my progress on Dragon Age:Inquisition, I don't have much else to discuss.  

I'm a Cavaliers fan, so I don't have a team in the lottery.  However, I do have the following thoughts:

* I have friends who root for the 76ers and Kings, so I'd like them to do well
* I don't like the Lakers
* I really don't want Boston to get a top 3 pick for swindling the Brooklyn Nets
* When in doubt, root for teams that haven't won it all yet.

Here's the current order- the lottery will pick the first three, and everyone else moves down:

1. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets)
2. Phoenix Suns
3. Los Angeles Lakers (goes to Philadelphia if it falls out of top 3)
4. Philadelphia 76ers
5. Orlando Magic
6. Minnesota Timberwolves
7. New York Knicks
8. Sacramento Kings
9. Dallas Mavericks
10. Sacramento Kings (via New Orleans Pelicans; New Orleans keep if they rise to top 3)
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. Detroit Pistons
13. Denver Nuggets
14. Miami Heat


So here’s how I see things playing out:

There is a kind and benevolent deity and he wants me to be happy:   (1) Philadelphia (via Sacramento)  (2) Sacramento (via Philadelphia) (3) Denver or Dallas.   Philly gets two top 6 picks.  Sacramento gets a top 2 pick and a top 11 pick.  Either Denver (a team that has never moved up) or Dallas gets a great player to elevate the team.  Sacramento's upset they lost their #1 pick but it's not a big loss and now they can discuss 'what if' for the next 20 years

What I am hoping will happen:  (1) Philadelphia (2) Dallas (3) Denver   Sacramento still gets 2 top 11 picks, Dallas and Denver get good players, and Nowitzki gets a new running mate to end his career with

What I expect to happen: (1) Phoenix (2) Philadelphia (3) Boston  Not quite chalk- and the Lakers lose badly.  

What I am worried will happen:  (1) Lakers (2) Boston (3) New York  Blargh.  Three of biggest name franchises get three great players in a deep draft


The Darkest Timeline:   (1) Miami (2) Lakers (3) New Orleans   Double Blargh.  I despise the Heat- DESPISE THEM- and them winning the top pick would be so damn typical.  The Lakers keep their pick and can draft Lonzo Ball.  New Orleans retains their pick because it's top 3 protected.  Philadelphia and Sacramento are screwed.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

NBA Second Round Predictions

Eastern Conference:

Boston (1) over Washington (4) in 7 games

Cleveland (2) over Toronto (3) in 6 games


Western Conference:
Golden State (1) over Utah (5) in 5 games
Houston (3) over San Antonio (2)  in 6 games


Notes:
I like Utah- but Golden State is on a mission.  

Houston/San Antonio depends on Harden's health.  If he's hurting badly, San Antonio can easily take the series.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

NBA First Round Predictions

Eastern Conference:

Boston (1) over Chicago (8) in 6 games

Cleveland (2) over Indianapolis (7) in 5 games
Toronto (3) over Milwaukee (6) in 7 games <-- Best series of the first round
Washington (4) over Atlanta (5) in 5 games

Western Conference:
Golden State (1) over Portland (8) in 5 games
San Antonio (2) over Memphis (7) in 6 games
Houston (3) over OKC (6) in 6 games
Utah (5) over LA Clippers (4) in 5 games

Notes:

Utah-Clippers is the only upset I have.  And my gut tells me that this game doesn't go 6 games, in either direction.  The Clippers are such a Jekyll & Hyde team that they either win the series by game 5 or lose the series by game 5

If Milwaukee was playing Washington or Boston, I'd pick the upset.  By Toronto doesn't beat itself. Toronto survives- barely.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

NFL 2017 Draft Thoughts

NFL Draft hopes as a Cleveland Browns fan:

You can’t say we were shocked.  We knew the Browns were going to be bad. 

They were 3-13 the year before.  And then lost four of their top free agents hours after free agency began- including 2 parts of their offensive line (the best part of the football team).  We all knew RGIII was a gamble.  And they traded down in the draft, passing up good players (not only Carson Wentz, but Joey Bosa, Jack Conklin, Ezekiel Elliott…)  And while none of their rookies were busts… none of them overachieved, either.

So… yeah.  1-15 wasn’t that shocking. 

But hey- it’s 2017.  The Browns not only have the #1 draft pick, they have the #12 draft pick from Philadelphia.  And 2 second round picks.  And this is supposed to be a deep draft.

People keep focusing on the QB- but the Browns need help EVERYWHERE. 

Adding a curveball is that Mitchell Trubisky is not only the top QB in the draft… and from Northeast Ohio… but his father is a co-worker.  So regardless of where he goes in the draft, I’m rooting for him to succeed.


So here’s how I see things playing out:

There is a kind and benevolent deity and he wants me to be happy:   Browns grab  Myles Garrett #1.  No QBs go from 2-11… then someone (the Jets?) overpay Cleveland for the #12 pick.  The Jets trade this year’s 2nd round pick, next year’s #1, and next year’s #2.  Browns continue the process, drafting defense for the next five picks, see how Cody Kessler plays this year- if he thrives, great.  If not, look for one of the QBs in 2018.

What I am hoping will happen:  Browns grab Garrett #1.  No QBs go from 2-9.  Buffalo grabs Watson at #10, and Arizona trades up to #11 to grab Trubisky.  This causes Jamal Adams to drop for the Browns to grab at #12.  Browns continue going heavy defense with 4 of their next 5 picks on the defensive side

What I expect to happen: Browns grab Garrett #1.  No QBs go from 2-11.  Browns grab Trubisky at #12, then keep drafting defense. 

What I am worried will happen:  Browns grab Garrett #1.  Suddenly panicking over losing their QB, they trade up to #5, offering their #12 and #33 to grab Trubisky at #5 before the Jets


The Darkest Timeline:   Browns grab anyone not named ‘Myles Garrett’ at #1