Posts tagged Boston Celtics
Ball Don't Lie EP 51 - Giannis, First of His Name

Scott and Dante open up about Giannis' dominating series win over the Celtics, the mess going on with the Lakers, and more surrounding the NBA Playoffs. Plus, episode four of Game of Thrones season 8!

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Ball Don't Lie EP. 45 - Giannis World Order

Scott and Dante are in this week to chat about Giannis and the Bucks beating down Harden and the Rockets, the battle for the 8th seed in the East, Boston and Golden State's roads to the playoffs, the Big Baller Brand drama, March Madness, NFL news and much more.

Are the Bucks for real?
Playoff battles
Lonzo leaves BBB
Bulls options in the draft
Sweet 16 preview
Gronk retires
Bears/Packers opening night
new rule changes
Eloy's new contract
Goofy Mog of the Week

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Ball Don't Lie EP. 41 - Ya Hate To See It

Scott and Dante go in on a number of topics, from the Sox missing out on Manny Machado to the Lakers turmoil to Jussie's lying ass.


Manny Machado disses the White Sox
- who is to blame?
- Sox season predictions
- has thoughts on the rebuild changed?
Bryce Harper still unsigned
The Real Housewives of Hollywood
What's wrong with the Celtics?
Can the Rockets challenge GSW in the West?
Bulls 5-2 since Otto Porter trade
Jussie Smollett's lying ass
Goofy Mog of the Week

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Ball Don't Lie - Lavar SZN has returned

Hoops N Brews' Pavy fills in for Joe for two DEEP hours of NBA basketball and trade deadline talks. Everything from the Sixers stacking up to the Lakers' failed pursuit of Anthony Davis to Kevin Durant's zesty press conference Wednesday. Oh, and I guess we'll talk about that shitty Super Bowl last Sunday.

Patriots win Super Bowl
Bulls president John Paxson rattled during radio interview
NBA trade deadline news
Lavar Ball returns
KD lashes out at media
NBA All Star Game draft
Goofy Mog of the Week

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Ball Don't Lie - "Drew Brees Don't Know Choppa Style"

KOLR-10 sports anchor Dan Molloy joins Pierce and Scott this week to talk about the MLB hot stove and the White Sox pursuit of Manny Machado. Plus Dan's been covering the Kansas City Chiefs all year, so we'll get his thoughts on Championship Sunday, the Bears possibly signing Kareem Hunt, the trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home and much much more!

White Sox offer contract to Manny Machado
Possible collusion in MLB
Odds Manny signs with White Sox
Bears end-of-season press conference
Chuck Pagano hired as DC
Cody Parkey's future in Chicago
Nagy not shooting down Kareem Hunt to Bears
AFC Title Game preview
NFC Title Game preview
Kyler Murray declaring for NFL Draft
James Harden having another MVP season
Kyrie Irving and the Celtics' woes
Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer
Goofy Mog of the Week

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Celebrate your division champs by grabbing one of the NEW shirts straight from The Barber's Chair merch store!

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Ball Don't Lie ep 18 - Same Old, Same Old
Celtics aren't scared of LeBron, Cavaliers
Michael Dwyer/AP

Michael Dwyer/AP

After taking a haymaker from LeBron James in the 1st quarter (with 21 in the 1st quarter and 42, 10 boards and 12 assist) and Kevin love having 22 and 15) the Celtics were able to withstand a triple-double from the King and a 22-point, 15-rebound performance from Kevin Love to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Cavs going into Game 3 on Saturday.

Six players on the Celtics scored in double figures in Game 2, led by Jaylen Brown's 23 points, and a strong second half from Boston, outscoring Cleveland by 20 and making every hustle play. The swaggerless starting backcourt of the Cavaliers, on deck to make $35 million next year, scored 3 points on 1-11 from the field in a combined 53 minutes.

JR Smith played hungover, and after going 0-7 from the field, he let his frustration out on a dirty play, pushing Al Horford in the back in midair and earning himself a flagrant one. This nearly sparked a brawl with Marcus Smart, who would've thrown a punch if not for Tristan Kardashian grabbing his arm. JR instantly looked shook diggity talking tough while walking away (he probably got flashbacks of Nate Robinson body slamming him and remembered his hands are trash because smart wanted ALL the smoke.) Woj even called JR fugazi in an article years ago claiming he wanted to be from Newark badly but was a nice kid from the burbs. JR vs Smart is a matchup to watch in game three, as the latter will trail JR on screens and make it tougher for him to get off a shot.

Tristan Kardashian let Marcus Morris yell in his face like he was Kris Jenner on national TV. To quote Stephen Jackson "Straight sucka shit, he's a wannabe that doesn't know what he wants to be". He's Canadian Reggie Evans with an $82 million dollar contract.

The Cavs' lack of perimeter and interior defense is getting exposed this series, giving Boston an edge as they head back to Cleveland. Just like their Cavs, this crowd just doesn't have the same intimidation factor anymore. I'm sure JR and the other role players will shoot better, but their personnel has issues guarding the Celtics on the wings. Boston's entire starting 5 can shoot from multiple spots on the floor and take you off the dribble. It wouldn't surprise me if Boston stole a game in Cleveland.

If you look at Twitter you already see Bron stans abandoning ship. The Cavs are about to be in salary cap hell. The 8th pick they got from Boston in the Kyrie trade isn't enough to convince LeBron to stay. Rodney Hood, a free agent at the end of the year, has looked confused and hesitant on both ends of the floor the entire playoffs. Jordan Clarkson, who looked decent early on in the season with the Lakers, is playing like the moment is too big for him currently. Larry Nance isn't even in the rotation.

Bron stans are going to follow the drinking gourd wherever he goes, but for now we'll see what else this series provides us. LeBron is going to show up and dominate, but these Celtics don't fear him or this team. After the deadline JR Smith claimed "we got a fuckin squad now", but so far everyone but LeBron have disappeared. Ty Lue saying the Celtics "gooned it up" was lowkey calling his squad soft, and the fact that multiple players on the Cavs praised coach Brad Stevens and Smart to the media shows disarray on the horizon.

The Ricky Davis-era Cavs might be on deck soon, and I don't feel bad watching Cleveland's demise. Their fan base lost their minds thinking they were a dynasty. Those jabroni's better throw on that 2016 championship DVD because they're about to be irrelevant and lottery bound for the foreseeable future. If the Celtics win Game 3 I think the Cavs panic and get swept. Boston is 37-0 all-time when up 2-0 in a series ,and while LeBron is great, this team is full of mis-matched parts and its hard to see them digging out of an 0-2 hole.

Ball Don't Lie Ep 17 - Bring David Stern Back ft. @Mariannoo
What 2 Watch: Wednesday, May 9th

Philadelphia 76ers v. Boston Celtics
8pm EST, TNT, or TNT app

The Sixers survived to play another day Monday, but history beckons... Teams who have gone down 0-3 in a Best-of-7 series are 0-129. TJ McConnell's playoff career high 19 points can't stop destiny. Boston needs the tune up before the Cavs come to down in the Eastern Conference Finals, but don't let this shit drag on... LeBron will be rested, and waiting...

Boston Red Sox v. New York Yankees
7pm EST, ESPN,, ESPN app

A pair of bombs from Giancarlo Stanton and 11 K's from Luis Severino pushed the Evil Empire past the Sox last night. They've won seven straight, 16 of their last 17 games, and are now tied with Boston for the best record in baseball. Yanks send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound against an undefeated Rick Porcello. Didn't I say this rivalry is back?

Arizona Diamondbacks v. Los Angeles Dodgers
10pm EST, MLB Network, MLB.TV, MLB At Bat app

D-Backs lefty Patrick Corbin tries to continue his early dominance against a Dodger team that's STRUGGLING to get going. Gotta suck blowing the 7th game of the World Series right? I can't relate... nevertheless Arizona will go for the short two-game sweep tonight. They've won eight of 11 against Los Doyers this season, who entered the series with a home OPS of just .697! Keep an eye out for Dodgers starter Alex Wood against Diamondback Steven Souza. The two had a heated conversation last night after Souza made a bad slide into third base and started chirping with Wood from the dugout.

Chelsea v. Huddersfield FC
3:00pm EST, NBCSN, NBC Sports App

The Blues host Huddersfield in the top flight for the first time since 1972. There's a lot riding for both clubs in this match - A win for Chelsea helps their chances of qualifying for the Champions League next season, while a win for Huddersfield secures top flight status for next season. At the same time, Tottenham (currently 4th in the EPL table) host Newcastle. Both Chelsea and the Spurs are in a battle with Champions League finalist Liverpool for the final two PL spots in next season's Champions League.

FC Barcelona v. Villarreal
2pm EST, BeIN Sports

Barcelona is three matches away from an unbeaten season in La Liga, a feat no other Spanish team has accomplished over a 38-game season. The talk on the pitch will be about the relentless attack of Messi and Suarez, who both knocked home goals in an El Classico tie with Real Madrid Sunday. The talk off the pitch will be about Atlètico Madrid's Antoine Griezzman and the possibility of the Frenchman joining the Catalans in the offseason.

Has the NBA caught up to the Warriors?


In the summer of 2016, when asked about the Warriors plucking Kevin Durant away from the Thunder, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said during the league's annual board of governors meeting “I do not think that's ideal from the league standpoint.” It was obvious that he was afraid that the new acquisition would create too good of a team. His major oversight, though, was that the dominance of Golden State would force the rest of the league to find ways to catch up, and this season, there are a few standouts that have done just that.

The most obvious candidate this season has been the Houston Rockets. As if James Harden wasn’t enough, their astonishing and impressive move to get Chris Paul last summer brought up a few questions. And rightfully so, having two ball deflating point guards as your two best players makes you wonder if they could bog each others games down.

But it’s been quite the opposite. Their willingness to sacrifice touches, stagger their minutes and commit to defense has made their lives a whole lot easier. It’s admirable too, being that the two up to this point, haven’t embraced sacrifice previously. The Rockets collection of savvy signings and pesky vets have also contributed to their success. But their also the right collection of players to give the Warriors a headache.

While CP3 has been surpassed by Steph already, he still has the ability to get pesky on defense and physical on offense. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen Paul draw bullshit fouls on Steph, but I know it’s an effective skill that he’s mastered. Harden is just as good at this, so the threat of getting the Dubs into foul trouble is a serious one.

The key for houston though, is their center, Clint Capela. Having rode the bench for years, the departure of Dwight Howard gave Capela opportunity to find his game, and his game is pretty damn good. He’s had the length and lateral quickness to be a problem on defense, but developing patience and poise brought it all together.

The kid isn’t vertically challenged either, he gets up for lob opportunities like a DeAndre Jordan, but he doesn’t yearn for possession wasting post touches. He’s perfect for Houston system, because his strengths compliment both CP3 and Harden to a tee. But when it’s playoff time, their All-Star Guards will ultimately determine the future of this team.

Boston is right up there with Houston. Their defense, if and when healthy, has the chops to make any teams lives difficult. Oh and they’re eventually getting All-Star Gordon Hayward back. Simply put, their really good right now, and they’re only going to get better in the coming years.

Though their stars weren’t drafted like Golden States were, they’ve built their team to mimic the them in a few ways. The offense hinges on Kyrie Irving, who like Curry can create for himself and others, but also can be used of the ball to space the floor. Without him, offense gets difficult down the stretch, but Brad Stevens system gives them legs to stand on.

The real unsung hero for the Celtics though, is Al Horford. He’s the key to their defense, but can unlock so much more on offense. His spacing is a threat, but if someone closes out to hard on him, he’s still got the footspeed and the skill to drive and create for himself or his teammates. I like to think that him and Draymond Green are two sides of the same coin, Horford is stronger on offense and Green stronger on defense.

Their young wings are really intriguing too. Everytime I watch Jaylen Brown make a move in transition, I’m reminded of Jordan. He’s nowhere near as talented, but just the way he moves on the floor is impressive. He’s also shown actually basketball talent too, don’t get me wrong. He competes well on defense, spreads the floor well from three, and he’s relentless and athletic around the rim. Then there’s Jayson Tatum, their standout rookie. He hasn’t shown the same defensive prowess as Brown, but his offensive game is unique for his age (he’s only 19 + a few days!).

What makes the Celtics different, though, is youth. Other than the 31-year-old Al Horford, their core is young enough become even better in the next few years. Surely they’ll run the east, but once they get a taste of the Finals, who knows how good they can be.

These two have both followed and tweaked the blueprint that Golden State has shown to be successful. Even though they’ve shown that they have the chops to give the Dubs problems, they won’t be the last to do so. Sure it takes young and talented players to become great in the long term, but stability from ownership, and competency from management and coaches is just as important. This is the key to success in the NBA, the rest of the league just needs to keep taking notes.

Tanking and rebuilding: the good, the bad and the ugly

As we’re beginning the final third of the season, it’s time for us to get excited about the playoff push. Apparently, it’s also time for us to get excited about the lottery push.

There are approximately seven teams in the league - the New York Knicks, the Chicago Bulls, the Atlanta Hawks, the Orlando Magic, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Sacramento Kings, and the Phoenix Suns - racing to the bottom of the league. Or, in other words, tanking.

Yes, we know that’s a bad word - Mark Cuban just got fined $600,000 for admitting to tanking on Dr. J’s podcast. But if done right, it’s the most effective way to rebuild a team. So, let’s take a look at some of the tanking stories - both good and bad - from the last few seasons.


David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

The Boston Celtics - The Celtics are probably the best tanking/rebuilding story in the last five years. They began their rebuild in June 2013 when they traded the last of the Big 3 - Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett - to the Brooklyn Nets for their 2014, 2016 and 2018 first-round picks with the rights to swap their 2017 first round picks.

It has turned out to be one of the biggest swindles in NBA history, leaving the Nets in purgatory for years.

The thing about the Celtics tank is they only had one really bad year. They went 25-57 in the 2013-2014 season and have made the playoffs every year since.

That feat becomes even more surprising when you realize they haven’t drafted a generational talent until this year when they took Rookie of the Year candidate Jayson Tatum.

In 2014 they used their first pick on Marcus Smart, who has turned out to be a glue guy who plays defense and does a little bit of everything on offense.

In 2015, they drafted Terry Rozier who, despite what Danny Ainge may think, will be a good starting point guard but is unlikely to become an all-star in this league.

2016? They drafted Jalen Brown who struggled his first year and created questions for Ainge on why he took the Cal product with the third overall pick. Brown to his credit has turned into a near All-Star this season averaging 14 ppg/5 rpg on a top three team in the Eastern Conference.

The Celtics successful tanking story is not about the players though - it’s about the coach, Brad Stevens.

When a team announces they’re rebuilding most fans scream about the impending tank. “We gotta lose as much games to get a top-5 pick,” they say. But all those great players mean nothing if you don't have the right coach or the right culture in that organization.

When you’re developing young guys you need someone you can do two things - manage those personalities and teach them how to play the game.

Brad Stevens, doing both, has taken taken a team with 11 players 25-years old or younger and turned them into the best defensive team in the NBA and taken them to a 41-19 record in the East.

If you don’t have the right culture or the right coach, you end up like our next team.


Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The New York Knicks - For most of the last decade, the Knicks have been one of those teams that’s shown they have no idea what they’re doing.

Then they finally did something right - drafting Kristaps Porzingis with the No. 4 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

A few months into Kristaps’ first season, the Knicks were in the playoff hunt and, while playing second fiddle to Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps was looking like a future franchise player.

Then everything went horribly. Derek Fisher got fired, Kurt Rambis took over and the Knicks finished in the lottery despite not having a pick in 2016.

Things only got worse the next year as then-President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson constantly attacked Melo in the media and threatened to trade Porzingis. Jackson was eventually fired and the Knicks traded Melo before the start of this season.

After the 2016-2017 season the Knicks had one more chance to draft another building block for the future. Unfortunately, they took Frank Ntilikina with the 8th overall pick.

Look, I’m not saying Frank won’t be a good player. He’s 19 and already one of the top ten defensive point guards in the league.

Unfortunately, what you needed is a future star and I’m not convinced Frank is going to be that. As this season progressed, there were times Head Coach Jeff Hornacek was sitting Frank in favor of journeyman point guard Jarrett Jack.

Speaking of the head coach, there have been rumblings around the league Jeff Hornacek won’t be back next season. I know here in New York, Knicks fans haven’t been pleased with his work.

Unlike the Celtics, who began their rebuild with one coach, the Knicks have gone through Fisher, Rambis and Hornacek. None of whom really inspire confidence.

But don’t worry Knicks fans, this summer could be the chance to get this rebuild back on track. The Knick are currently 24-36 and, according to Tankathon, currently have a 2.8 percent chance to get the No. 1 overall pick in arguably the best draft since 2003.

Also, if the Knicks choose to go another direction at head coach, they could bring in a young, intelligent basketball mind to teach this team to play the right way.

Finally, they traded for a 22-year old Emmanuel Mudiay at the trade deadline and Mudiay, a former top ten overall pick in 2015, could find rejuvenation with a new opportunity.

A star rookie, a motivated Mudiay, a new coach, and a hungry Kristaps Porzingis looking to rebound off a torn ACL, could turn a bad rebuilding situation into a success story.


Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic - Does anyone, ANYONE, know what the Orlando Magic are doing? The Magic have been bad for the last five seasons winning more than 30 games only once.

So, if they’ve been terrible for five seasons you’d think they’d have at least one home grown superstar right? Wrong.

They drafted Victor Oladipo in 2013 but he’s having an all star season for the 34-25 Indiana Pacers.

They drafted Aaron Gordon in 2014 but they played him out of position as a small forward for the first three years of his career. This season he finally played the four and averaged 18 ppg/8 rpg. However, he’s been in trade rumors and he’s a restricted free agent this summer.

That same year they traded for Elfrid Payton on draft night but they’ve since traded him to the Phoenix Suns.

They drafted Mario Hezonja in 2015 but he was in the dog house with the organization for the first two years career watching his playing time dwindle as he struggled to learn the NBA game. This is the first year he’s seeing more playing time and hopefully the promise that made him the No. 6 overall pick translated to results.

They drafted Domantas Sabonis in the 2016 draft but traded him to the Thunder in a trade that included Oladipo. Sabonis, averaging 12 ppg and 8 rpg, now plays with Oladipo on that playoff-bound Pacers team.

In 2017 they drafted Jonathan Isaac who has played only 15 games hits year due to an ankle injury. The Magic expect him to be really good but they’ll have to wait until he gets healthy to get a better evaluation.

Look, I’m sorry I made you read all that but I needed you to understand just how ridiculous their “rebuild” has been. This season they’re headed for another lottery pick with a record of 18-40.

The Magic are the reason why not everyone likes, or should engage in, tanking. It’s one thing to lose on purpose while your team is building a culture and teaching your young players how to play NBA basketball. It’s another thing to be garbage every year and stay garbage every year.

At least the Magic got the coach right? Possibly? Frank Vogel has been to an Eastern Conference championship before so maybe, with the right pieces, he can lead the Magic, to playoff success.

But if the last five years are any indication, they’ll mess this up again and continue their streak of losing.

Where the Celtics stand at the All Star break
Brian Babineau

Brian Babineau

With All-Star weekend staring us directly in the face & “Black Panther” standing over its shoulder ominously, both the conference leaders have seemingly come back to [flat] earth after starting the season gangbusters.

Exacerbated by said phenomenon, hot takes Twitter is always the place to be. Bad games leading to the All star break has caused the casual NBA fan to forget that both teams have exhibited they can win in a plethora of ways & regardless, there’s an air of confidence that comes with trusting the process once successful.

On that same token, anyone in either organization that’s planning parties alone likely won’t be employed long. This presents ample opportunity for both to kickstart marching to June.

Golden State stood pat at the trade deadline, pointing to the trophy case. Brad Stevens’ C’s are trying to get there. Having shown the league what he’s capable of time & time again, any basketball savant out there is salivating at what the Celtics will look like post ASB. Since there’s no time like the present:

There’s always growing pains. Anyone who says no is either hating or high. Remember, Boston finished the #1 seed last season, yet the entire core of the roster was torn apart.

Three holdovers.

One starter.

Ironically, he is the most-heavily debated All-Star. Ha.

In reality, it’s absurd to hear people rip Boston.

What Ainge has done lately has an unrelenting Kobe fan obsessing over what’s to come in the city he once despised.

But that speaks volumes about just how excited you should be about what’s going on. Yes, you. The basketball fans.

If you’re of the ilk of basketball fans that’s passionate about this beautiful art form & want to see it prosper, the Boston Celtics should be a team you push on social media & watch every time

While the rest of the world is trying to find its way into this perceived “big three era,” Boston is playing for keeps & the future. Do we even need discuss the absolute coup that began as speculation that they’d pair IT & Fultz, the old buddies from the same university in their backcourt as they chased a ring?

The C’s were supposed to add a talented rookie, maybe a free agent or two & step up the ladder to challenge the LeBron’s for a chance at the NBA Finals. Instead, the team retooled & outperformed even their own expectations.

With three players back from last year’s team, should we really be slandering Boston to extol Toronto? The team that did just that. Add a rook or two. Make a few minor moves. Yet, it literally took them until the last day before the break to catch Boston.

Being able to pair Kyrie & Gordon Hayward, both established All-Stars with proven track records that hadn’t experienced what they’d hoped to this point in their career seemed almost too good to be true. It turned out to be when Hayward went down in game 1 but setbacks can be setups for great comebacks.

Each of the players on the Boston roster not named Irving immediately shifted up a spot in terms of required production, consistency & accountability. All the while knowing, no matter what happens, Gordon Hayward is coming back. Will be a starter. Will be a key component. As he should be.

But I also think it’s been revealed that Tatum was likely drafted ahead of Brown in terms of capacity to impact a game at the NBA level. As long as Ainge doesn’t separate the two, they should have brilliant careers together. Pushing each other. Holding each other accountable. Growing up. Exactly what they’ve done this season.

The same goes for Marcus Morris. Semi Ojeleye. Aron Baynes ample opportunity to show what they can do for a team that needs everyone. What changes could the Celtics make to have a better second half than their first?

Here’s some ideas:

  • Embrace the Moose

    Listen, Greg Monroe is a gifted offensive player & has the tools to make a dynamic offense even better. Brad has made a career of maximizing talents & getting the most out of guys. Monroe? While he may not make the savviest basketball business decisions, he was the only Piston not named Grant Hill to post three consecutive 1000 point, 600 rebound seasons. His addition also allows for...
  • Big Green Al Horford

    Al had done Yeoman’s work masquerading as a five man ever since he left the comfort of playing beside Joakim Noah at Florida. But one thing about it, two things fa sho, Al is not one. That is a rich, poor & middle-class man’s power forward & a highly skilled one. That fifth starting spot has been a bit of enigma during Stephens’ tenure. Not anymore especially considering you have...
  • Too Many Guards

    Kyrie. Brown. Hayward. Tatum. Rozier. Smart. Larkin. Not enough clock for everyone to be utilized to their full potential. Ideally? Smart & Larkin move on.Brown becomes the Swiss Army knife off the bench next season because Brad needs to...
  • Unleash the Beast

Jayson Tatum deserves his recognition as the best rookie in the draft. Donovan Mitchell is the rookie of the year & probably has improved more than any player has ever, in-season but Tatum hit the ground running. Has started every game. & shouldn’t be slighted because he plays for the better team. Which will only remain the case if his teammates can...

  • Reconnect

    Said it a million times, here’s a million & one

Defense is IQ, scheming, & effort. Teams that are connected, want to play for each other & cover up their mistakes play the best defense.

The most intriguing Finals matchups for the Warriors

In the last two weeks, the Warriors capped off their season series with the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference. Now comes the long wait until June to find out who’ll the Warriors will be facing. So in the meantime, here’s my subjective list of the most intriguing possible Finals Matchups.

Dubs in 3

(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Indiana Pacers

Indiana has been a pleasant surprise to the league. The Pacers seemed to have started a rebuild once they shipped out Paul George after another first round exit. Instead they've cracked the top 7 in the East, and the play of All-Star Victor Oladipo is a large reason why.

Their core has played well and they’re largely untested, but on the slim chance they make the Finals, they’ll have an even slimmer chance to beating the Warriors. While the everyday fan would hate the idea of Pacers-Warriors, Dubs fans would rejoice at Oladipo flourishing after Russell Westbrook conformed him into a dark skinned Alex Abrines.

Miami Heat

First of all, these dudes have all of my respect. Last season, they went 11-30 in the first half of the season, and completely flipped their season around going 30-11 in the second half of the season, just barely missing the playoffs.

Fortunately their late season success has continued on into this season, sitting at 4th place, with a 29-21 record. Spoelstra has worked his coaching magic to keep his guys in line and playing hard. He gets the most out of his talent, none of whom have even been an all-star (though Goran Dragic has played like one). At their best, they can make things uncomfortable for the Warriors (see Cavs-Pistons 2016, a hard fought 4 game sweep.)

You’ve got my attention

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Washington Wizards

John Wall will go under the knife for arthroscopic surgery on his knee, which may keep him out for 2 months, maybe more. With a 27-22 record, good for 6th in the East, they’re at risk of dropping out of playoff contention if Bradley Beal can’t carry the load. Beal has been their guy this season; partially because of how Wall’s injuries have inflicted his game, but also because Beal has avoided injuries of his own.

Nevertheless, the Wizards are always a pleasure to compete against because of the extracurriculars they bring to their games. Whether it's claiming the throne before they accomplish anything, being concerned with meaningless player rankings, or planning “funerals”, they're truly the hypebeast of the league.

Their last few matchups with the Dubs featured some theatrics. In 2016, Steph Curry and Wall exchanged 51 and 41 points in D.C. In 2017, Curry exploded for 42 points, holding Wall to just 20. And in the most recent matchup, Beal and Draymond Green got tangled up and brought the scrap into the first row. In a series, I’d give the Wizards a game, but for the most part, they’ll be too in their own heads to truly contend.

Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis is just incredible. He’s one of the few players that the Warriors really respect the hell out of. However, the pieces around him are still shaky.

Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, and Jabari Parker (hoping he’s healthy) are all out matched by the Warriors counterparts, and the Bucks bench isn’t even worth talking about. There’s also the game within the game of Delly and Steph's Finals rematch (he isn’t well liked by the Warriors.)

But Giannis is amazing and at his best can make everyone's job easier. He’s also a matchup nightmare. He’s too tall to be guarded by a 3, but too shifty to keep a big man on him. The Warriors counter with KD, who mirrors Giannis’ body type, and can make things just as difficult for the Bucks. What’s most admirable about the Bucks is their demeanor, and it starts with Giannis. His rookie year, he ran through Milwaukee to get to a game because his car wouldn’t start. But for all young stars, the stage of the Finals can change their career trajectories, for better or for worse. So while it may hurt him in the short term to lose on the biggest stage, in the long term it’ll surely sharpen his iron.

Philadelphia 76ers

Much like the Bucks, the amount of young talent on the Sixers is entrancing. Ben Simmons has carved out a surprisingly effective role for the modern NBA, given his shooting woes, and Joel Embiid, if he can stay healthy, could be a generational player.

Trusting the process got them here but also credit some solid drafting & development of starters Dario Saric and Robert Covington. But there is serious concern with last year's #1 pick, Markelle Fultz. His shooting shoulder has been messed up since preseason, and from what recent footage has shown, his form just looks awful.

But the Dubs are the kind of competition that can teach these players a lot, whether or not they're playing (sorry Fultz). For now though, they just need to do as Embiid says and “Trust the Process”.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Ahhh, that’s pretty interesting!

Cleveland Cavaliers

There isn’t much intrigue left in a Dubs-Cavs Finals. I’m sure most people are expecting it, but I’m just not convinced. The Cavs just don’t have the same vigor and fire to compete that they had in the past three matchups. Lebron is planning his getaway, Kyrie already escaped, IT is cold snitchin’, and Kevin Love broke his finger and is out for two months.

There just isn’t enough focus and attention to detail in the game plan, and it starts with LeBron taking breaks on defense and being ambiguous about his future (which is his right, there’s no loyalty in this game, see Blake Griffin). It’s hard as a fan to really want to match-up with a team that’s half-assing it. There's more joy in beating someone who wants to win as badly as you do.

Still, while it may not be as fun a series as these last two teams, it’s still a nice feeling to beat Lebron in the Finals.

Toronto Raptors



So many factors go into my love of this matchup. For one, we’ll finally get to see Drake actually root against the Warriors. Also, the city of Toronto seriously deserves to host a few finals games, but the team could use it too. This is the best team the Raptors have ever had, and as the Cavs have become more vulnerable, they’ll have a shot at taking them out.

Demar Derozan, a pure-bred gym rat, has finally looked to have rounded out his game. He’s always had a smooth game, thanks to his excellent footwork, and he’s seemed to master the mid-range game. But as Steph and the Dubs have changed the direction of basketball, Derozan has just caught up to the party. He’s shooting a career high in 3PT% while putting up another career high 3.2 three’s a game. He’s also averaging a career-high 5.1 APG, another career high. While these numbers don't jump off the page, they're indicative of the pace, space, drive and kick offense that’s given the Raptors so much success.

Raptors fans are yearning to get to this stage, and while The Dubs may not think too much of this squad, this Raptors core has shown a serious ability to contend with the champs. It’ll all come down to Toronto's mindset when the playoffs return to the 6.

Anything less would be uncivilized

Boston Celtics

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Celtics are exactly the team I want to see come out of the East for the Finals. Kyrie Irving is in the prime of his career playing under Brad Stevens. Behind Steph, he’s the most offensively gifted and explosive scorer at point, and he does so with so much control.

Stevens, a basketball savant in his own right, has crafted Boston's offense much like Golden State's, just without all of the talent. He’s made Boston play above their talents, which is how the most talented team's function, sports or otherwise. Their foundation though is the defense, cemented on Al Horford's smarts and fundamentals, and once he returns from injury, Marcus Smart's tenacity and lack of shit-giving.

There’s also the byproduct of Gordon Hayward's injury, immediately forcing the team to overcome heartbreaking and scary adversity. While he's unlikely to return his season, the prospect of what Hayward's presence can contribute to the already top seed is an encouraging reminder throughout the season.

The Celtics are Golden State's biggest challenge towards a third title in four years, their close loss to the Dubs last Saturday as evidence. Kyrie responded to Curry's 49-point performance with 37 of his own, giving them the same problems on offense as he did in Cleveland. On the other end, the way every (competent) team defends Steph is the way the Warriors guard Kyrie, sending doubles on screen and rolls, and being quick to rotate on defense, which plays into both teams offenses.

Still, Boston's offense can't touch Golden State. They just don’t have the fire power, but, again, Irving’s control of pace and possession lowers the amount of opportunities for Golden State to score. However, this is the most exciting Finals matchup because it’s inevitable. The Celts have set themselves up so perfectly to flourish in near future, that I just want to get a real glimpse into how this new rivalry takes shape come June.

The Third Pick Ep.2: Lauri > Tatum

In episode 2 Scott and Marianno go over the week of the Bulls, break down the rookie numbers of Lauri & Jayson Tatum, plus discuss All Star snubs & do their own mock all star draft