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Old 02-18-2018, 09:21 AM
 
Location: Virginia Beach
4,214 posts, read 2,836,706 times
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I think people are underestimating Lebron, and I'm not guaranteeing a return to The Finals---I do feel Toronto is real and a legitimate threat--, but he's taken worse teams to The Finals (2007, 2017)....so as far as that goes, he's got a much better supporting cast than he had those years, and honestly you can add 2015 to this, as he played the vast 16/20 games with Love and 5/6 Finals games without Kyrie. So just from the standpoint of surrounding talent, he's done more with less, obviously assuming everyone stays relatively healthy...

And if you remember those years, that Pistols team was in fact an almost-dynasty, one year removed from a 64-win season, 5 straight years in the ECF, and had won a championship. That Warriors team in '15 changed the modern game of basketball and he won two games against them, virtually by himself. And last year that team was old, slow, and defensively, and almost swept through the East....

Lebron James has done more with less, and he's had bigger challenges before. It's a discredit to the man's legacy as the ultimate jack of all trades, as the ultimate, most individual equalizer in NBA history, to push forth this notion that somehow this roster will miss Kyrie so much they can't win the conference. Lebron deserves more respect...

As far as challenges go, he's had greater challenges. I don't think there's been a greater challenge than the '16 Warriors, but those '07 Pistons and '15 Warriors were up there as well. And I'll tell you something, this squad has the potential to be as good as the '16 Cavs, that won it all. It's all in how they coalesce and play....

While not having a proven closer in Kyrie available hurts them in theory, and in theory the playoffs may be too big for these young guys, let's remember a couple things:

1)Kyrie and Love had ZERO playoff experience going into 2015. That was the talk three years ago, the 2nd and 3rd best players on the team, if you guys care to remember, and in not even four full games, Love averaged 43% from three and had a 20.0 PER. Kyrie missed The Finals and averaged 19 shooting 45% from 3 and a 20.9 PER. They were very good in their first playoff appearances. The '18 Cavs have the horses to exceed the '15 Cavs for the simple fact more than old bench players have playoff experience now. They can provide the mental stability and toughness when Cleveland needs it, in Lebron, Love, Smith, Hill, Thompson, who are all seasoned playoff vets...

2)the ability on paper--paper--I stress that they have to prove it moving forward--to swing the ball on offense and switch on defense makes the ceiling pretty high for the '18 Cavs, again at least as good as the '16 Cavs. Those are the two biggest factors with this team, not that there isn't necessarily a 2nd bona fide scoring option. This team goes deep with guys that can have a hot stretch and average 20 in a series and take over games (no order): Love, Smith, Hill, Hood, Clarkson. The Cavs will have a chance to win it all if 3/5 or more of those guys are hot at the same time, but if even 1/5 or 2/5 are hot at different points, cumulatively they can have the effect of Kyrie and be very dangerous in The East...

But again, their biggest problem isn't that they don't supposedly have a closer. We should see much less of the iso-heavy offense they've run the last three years, more ball movement and players like Hill and Clarkson and Hood who can play off-ball, and the ability to floor lineups that can rotate multiple positions defensively is priceless. Those were the biggest problems the Cavs had, and at least so far, those problems appear to be solved and should get better the more this team plays together....

...............

If the Cavs fall within the conference, it will simply be because they weren't good enough, period, obviously most of us believe that anyway to this point in the season. It won't be because they don't have a closer or enough experience. I'll add a few more anecdotes:

Boston has won the Kyrie trade, player-for-players. It remains to be seen who wins the trade for the season, and given that right now the C's are seeded 2 and Cleveland 3, a potential semifinals matchup with these two will give everyone the proof directly as to who won the trade this season. As for long term, the first team to win a championship won the trade, and if neither wins within three years, the team with the highest level of success won the trade. Boston won the player-for-players swap, but it's premature to say they've won it outright...

Also, in November, I said that both Cleveland and Golden State would face unprecedented challenges this season in-conference. My guy CityBridge scoffed at the notion the Dubs would have a rough road, but three months later, it looks like I was right. Both Toronto and Houston are better than any of us predicted they would be, and both are valid threats to knock out both the Cavs and the Dubs. They have to prove it, but they are threats...

Also, OKC, Denver, Portland, and Utah have played inspired ball versus the Warriors this year (Dubs have a 4-6 record versus those teams this season). Clearly neither of those teams would be favored in a series, but potentially, before they even make it to Houston, they could be in for the hardest-fought quarter- and semifinal rounds of this run. And for the record, the Dubs are 24-4 the last three years in 1st/2nd round series, 6-0, with three sweeps and only one series (2015 Memphis) going more than five games. Unprecedented challenges lie in wait for the '18 Warriors...

As for Cleveland, Indiana pummeled them 3-1 this year and is a confident team and a tough out if the Cavs draw them in the postseason. This may be a much more entertaining postseason than last year!
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Old 02-18-2018, 03:17 PM
 
Location: Springfield, Ohio
12,201 posts, read 10,427,566 times
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The Warriors' bench is vulnerable right now...Iguodala looking clueless out there most nights; both he and Livingston have been MIA since getting their contracts. McGhee should have been let go after last season given his limited skill set and durability, and Swaggy has a decent game maybe 1/3 of the time. The bench isn't the "they could all start on a lesser team" powerhouse it was in previous years...Jordan Bell's health may be the ultimate decider in a close series against the Rockets or Thunder.
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Old 02-19-2018, 12:01 PM
 
5,446 posts, read 1,550,803 times
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If Houston have home-court advantage I think they'll beat GS unless Harden plays below his regular season level.
The addition of Paul has changed things a lot.
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Old 02-19-2018, 09:09 PM
 
Location: Here or There
3,961 posts, read 2,514,160 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magaalot View Post
If Houston have home-court advantage I think they'll beat GS unless Harden plays below his regular season level.
The addition of Paul has changed things a lot.
I am still not sold on Houston beating GS...but you are right, if Harden doesnt play to his regular season levels they wont beat the Warriors.
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Old 02-21-2018, 09:42 AM
 
Location: Gulf Coast Texas
28,506 posts, read 15,466,875 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magaalot View Post
If Houston have home-court advantage I think they'll beat GS unless Harden plays below his regular season level.
The addition of Paul has changed things a lot.
They won't be able to play together...

I think that has worked better than anyone expected. I thought the defensive additions were more important with Tucker and Luc BAM.
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Old 02-21-2018, 10:27 AM
 
5,446 posts, read 1,550,803 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRob4JC View Post
They won't be able to play together...

I think that has worked better than anyone expected. I thought the defensive additions were more important with Tucker and Luc BAM.
And if Harden's playoff troubles were solely physical, he could be a lot fresher in this year's playoffs now that Paul is carrying a lot of the playmaking duties.
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Old 02-21-2018, 11:34 AM
 
3,565 posts, read 1,877,378 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natural510 View Post
The Warriors' bench is vulnerable right now...Iguodala looking clueless out there most nights; both he and Livingston have been MIA since getting their contracts. McGhee should have been let go after last season given his limited skill set and durability, and Swaggy has a decent game maybe 1/3 of the time. The bench isn't the "they could all start on a lesser team" powerhouse it was in previous years...Jordan Bell's health may be the ultimate decider in a close series against the Rockets or Thunder.
Iguodala & Livingston are old. They're still effective, but they are not going to put up big numbers or play big minutes. The question is whether they can continue playing great defense in the playoffs. Livingston, West, Klay, Green, and David West is the best defensive lineup in the league, with a DRtg of 77 (the next best is ~81). McGee is on the team to deliver a few minutes of energy (Bell can deliver the same with better IQ). Swaggy & Casspi are fine to spell the other players during the regular season, but they are strictly "in case of emergency" players in the playoffs.

Jordan Bell is a really useful player against the Rockets. He has the athleticism to play pick & roll defense on Capella. Zaza gives up a lot of speed to Capella. KD & Draymond are interesting as small-ball 5s, but that's probably not a 38 minute strategy against Houston.

The Thunder are not a threat to either Houston or Golden State--especially not if Melo is healthy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by murksiderock View Post
I think people are underestimating Lebron, and I'm not guaranteeing a return to The Finals---I do feel Toronto is real and a legitimate threat--, but he's taken worse teams to The Finals (2007, 2017)....so as far as that goes, he's got a much better supporting cast than he had those years, and honestly you can add 2015 to this, as he played the vast 16/20 games with Love and 5/6 Finals games without Kyrie. So just from the standpoint of surrounding talent, he's done more with less, obviously assuming everyone stays relatively healthy...
LBJ is one of the best players in NBA history. Until proven otherwise, he is the favorite in the East. I like Hill, Hood, Clarkson, and Nance Jr. better than Kyrie as a supporting cast--a lot better, really.

Quote:
Originally Posted by murksiderock View Post
And if you remember those years, that Pistols team was in fact an almost-dynasty, one year removed from a 64-win season, 5 straight years in the ECF, and had won a championship. That Warriors team in '15 changed the modern game of basketball and he won two games against them, virtually by himself. And last year that team was old, slow, and defensively, and almost swept through the East....
I agree that LBJ has faced some incredible teams in the last, well, 15 years. That's the great thing about the NBA--the best players and the best teams.

Quote:
Originally Posted by murksiderock View Post
Lebron James has done more with less, and he's had bigger challenges before. It's a discredit to the man's legacy as the ultimate jack of all trades, as the ultimate, most individual equalizer in NBA history, to push forth this notion that somehow this roster will miss Kyrie so much they can't win the conference. Lebron deserves more respect...

As far as challenges go, he's had greater challenges. I don't think there's been a greater challenge than the '16 Warriors, but those '07 Pistons and '15 Warriors were up there as well. And I'll tell you something, this squad has the potential to be as good as the '16 Cavs, that won it all. It's all in how they coalesce and play....
The '17 Warriors were probably a greater challenge than the '16 Warriors. And the '18 Warriors (or the '18 Rockets) will be right up there.

I agree with you that Kyrie was not the secret sauce to the Cavs' success. It was always LBJ. I thought and still think that Kevin Love was more important than Kyrie. The collection of players the Cavs picked up will give them plenty of offense. The big question remains whether they can deliver something on the defensive end. We are going to learn a lot over the next 35 games or so about this team.

Quote:
Originally Posted by murksiderock View Post
While not having a proven closer in Kyrie available hurts them in theory, and in theory the playoffs may be too big for these young guys, let's remember a couple things:

1)Kyrie and Love had ZERO playoff experience going into 2015. That was the talk three years ago, the 2nd and 3rd best players on the team, if you guys care to remember, and in not even four full games, Love averaged 43% from three and had a 20.0 PER. Kyrie missed The Finals and averaged 19 shooting 45% from 3 and a 20.9 PER. They were very good in their first playoff appearances. The '18 Cavs have the horses to exceed the '15 Cavs for the simple fact more than old bench players have playoff experience now. They can provide the mental stability and toughness when Cleveland needs it, in Lebron, Love, Smith, Hill, Thompson, who are all seasoned playoff vets...
LBJ & Love are still this team's best players. They have boatloads of playoffs and Finals experience. But neither of those guys are major pluses on the defensive end at this point in their careers. Thus far, that's true of everyone on the Cavs' roster. But this is a collection of totally new parts. Maybe they can be better as a whole than their individual sum . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by murksiderock View Post
2)the ability on paper--paper--I stress that they have to prove it moving forward--to swing the ball on offense and switch on defense makes the ceiling pretty high for the '18 Cavs, again at least as good as the '16 Cavs. Those are the two biggest factors with this team, not that there isn't necessarily a 2nd bona fide scoring option. This team goes deep with guys that can have a hot stretch and average 20 in a series and take over games (no order): Love, Smith, Hill, Hood, Clarkson. The Cavs will have a chance to win it all if 3/5 or more of those guys are hot at the same time, but if even 1/5 or 2/5 are hot at different points, cumulatively they can have the effect of Kyrie and be very dangerous in The East...
Scoring is probably not going to be the Cavs' problem. It certainly wasn't in the '17 Finals, when they averaged almost 115/game on .568 TS% and were still subjected to a Gentleman's Sweep. In both the '15 & '16 Finals, the Cavs were most successful when they slowed down the pace. In both '15 & '17, they let the Warriors dictate the pace. With a bunch of young legs, I think the Cavs may fall into the trap of trying to run with the Warriors (or the Rockets). That won't work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by murksiderock View Post
But again, their biggest problem isn't that they don't supposedly have a closer. We should see much less of the iso-heavy offense they've run the last three years, more ball movement and players like Hill and Clarkson and Hood who can play off-ball, and the ability to floor lineups that can rotate multiple positions defensively is priceless. Those were the biggest problems the Cavs had, and at least so far, those problems appear to be solved and should get better the more this team plays together....
They have a closer. LBJ has always been their best option with the ball at any point in the game. Down the stretch of Game 5, he successfully manhandled Iguodala over and over to try to bring the Cavs back and keep the series alive. The Cavs' problem was that they could do nothing about the Steph-KD pick & roll on the other end--it might as well have been practice for the Warriors' stars.

Quote:
Originally Posted by murksiderock View Post
...............

If the Cavs fall within the conference, it will simply be because they weren't good enough, period, obviously most of us believe that anyway to this point in the season. It won't be because they don't have a closer or enough experience. I'll add a few more anecdotes:

Boston has won the Kyrie trade, player-for-players. It remains to be seen who wins the trade for the season, and given that right now the C's are seeded 2 and Cleveland 3, a potential semifinals matchup with these two will give everyone the proof directly as to who won the trade this season. As for long term, the first team to win a championship won the trade, and if neither wins within three years, the team with the highest level of success won the trade. Boston won the player-for-players swap, but it's premature to say they've won it outright...
I think the jury is out on the winner of the Kyrie trade. The Nets pick is still looking great right now, the Nets being the 7th-worst team in the league and only one game ahead of the very worst team. If Boston's title window closes in '19-20, when Kyrie & Horford can enter Free Agency, then I think this team may be also-rans falling to LBJ in the 2nd round this year and probably again before the Finals next year. I also like Clarkson & Nance & Hood better than Kyrie, players for player.

Quote:
Originally Posted by murksiderock View Post
Also, in November, I said that both Cleveland and Golden State would face unprecedented challenges this season in-conference. My guy CityBridge scoffed at the notion the Dubs would have a rough road, but three months later, it looks like I was right. Both Toronto and Houston are better than any of us predicted they would be, and both are valid threats to knock out both the Cavs and the Dubs. They have to prove it, but they are threats...
Houston is the only threat in the West at this point. I didn't think at the beginning of the season that they had moved the needle against the Warriors, but I was wrong about that. I think they are a true contender, and that the WCF will be epic. The matchup opportunities for both teams are fascinating. Traditionally, refs swallow their whistles more in the playoffs than they do in the regular season. That has an impact on the league's #1 FT shooter--James Harden. We also have a bunch of young officials this season, and the traditional tendency could change.

I am perennially disappointed by the Raps when the calendar turns to the playoffs. I won't hold my breath for them this year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by murksiderock View Post
Also, OKC, Denver, Portland, and Utah have played inspired ball versus the Warriors this year (Dubs have a 4-6 record versus those teams this season). Clearly neither of those teams would be favored in a series, but potentially, before they even make it to Houston, they could be in for the hardest-fought quarter- and semifinal rounds of this run. And for the record, the Dubs are 24-4 the last three years in 1st/2nd round series, 6-0, with three sweeps and only one series (2015 Memphis) going more than five games. Unprecedented challenges lie in wait for the '18 Warriors...
I wish that Millsap was healthy this year, because Denver would be a sneaky good team. Not a contender by any stretch, but sneaky good nonetheless. Portland is not that good--neither is Utah, and neither is OKC. The Warriors have spent this season playing lazy basketball. They're still 44-14 and a half game from the best record in the league. I can only think of one game this season when they've really delivered a focused effort--an early season drubbing of the Clippers. They've put together quarters--for example, beating the Spurs in November with a 28-14 4th quarter, or delivering a 45-21 drubbing to the Bulls in the 2nd quarter. They need to put together some entire games down the stretch to tune up for the playoffs. But they have demonstrated the ability to turn it on and walk away from opponents.

Quote:
Originally Posted by murksiderock View Post
As for Cleveland, Indiana pummeled them 3-1 this year and is a confident team and a tough out if the Cavs draw them in the postseason. This may be a much more entertaining postseason than last year!
The rest of this season will be fascinating for the Cavs. They are an entirely new team than what we have seen thus far this year. Their biggest challenge in the East has to be Boston, I think. Most other teams just don't have defenders to throw at Lebron. I am hopeful that the Bucks keep growing under their new coach. I think they have the length and personnel to make things interesting, but they have not been playing to expectations thus far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by magaalot View Post
If Houston have home-court advantage I think they'll beat GS unless Harden plays below his regular season level.
The addition of Paul has changed things a lot.
Warriors-Rockets will be a fascinating series. The Warriors should be favored regardless of home court, but matchups and adjustments should give us a tremendous back and forth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DRob4JC View Post
They won't be able to play together...

I think that has worked better than anyone expected. I thought the defensive additions were more important with Tucker and Luc BAM.
Capella's growth has been critical for the Rockets' defense, too. Ariza and CP3 also remain pluses on the defensive end.
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Old 02-21-2018, 03:39 PM
 
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Capela is going to be a problem for Golden State due to his height and aggressive playing style.
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Old 02-21-2018, 07:58 PM
 
Location: Here or There
3,961 posts, read 2,514,160 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moneymkt View Post
Capela is going to be a problem for Golden State due to his height and aggressive playing style.
Isnt it funny how much better Capela has blended with the Rockets style than Dwight Howard?
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Old 02-21-2018, 08:40 PM
 
3,795 posts, read 1,384,791 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IXCell View Post
Isnt it funny how much better Capela has blended with the Rockets style than Dwight Howard?

Dwight Howard has never really been good offensively just more of a defensive presence.
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