Around the NBA: Brink of elimination

The Milwaukee Bucks are headed to the Eastern Conference Championship, but we still have three other series coming down to the wire.

After having an NBA regular-season-best 60 wins, the Milwaukee Bucks may have had the easiest road to the Finals. They first got a Detroit Pistons team that did not have their best player, Blake Griffin at full health. Up next they were to get the winner of an overachieving Pacers squad or under achieving Celtics squad. Boston looked for a while like they had flipped the switch, but lost four straight to the Bucks after taking game 1.

Thus begins a new, interesting story line in the NBA: Kyrie Irving the seemingly disgruntled free agent. That is an article for another day though, as the Playoffs are still in full swing.

Bucks vs. Celtics is the only Conference Semifinal matchup that has concluded. All other series are heading into game 6, meaning a team is up three games to two in all of them. The higher seeds have the advantage in all of the matchups to this point. It is also interesting to note that all of the first round matches went to the higher seeds. Will we see an upset in these Playoffs?

Potential elimination games are always fun. It will be interesting to see what Houston, Portland, and the 76ers do with their backs against the wall, facing elimination. All three of these teams certainly pack the firepower to climb back into their series. Hopefully we will see at least one or two game 7 situations.

When, where, and who

ESPN has tonight’s games: Raptors @ 76ers at 7:00pm (CST) and Nuggets @ Trail Blazers at 9:30pm (CST). The Sixers seem to have as much talent as anyone in the league, though their starters have all played less than 20 games together including the Playoffs. The Raptors have an edge in experience, but also Kawhi Leonard, who has been playing at an MVP level.

Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers has had interesting ups and downs, with the series seeming to hinge on Damian Lillard’s ability to go full Steph Curry when possible.

Perhaps the most intriguing matchup, Warriors @ Rockets is at 8:00pm (CST) tomorrow, also on ESPN. This has been a good series in its own right to this point, but it now has an interesting wrinkle. The Warriors lost DeMarcus Cousins to an injury in the first round, but last night, they lost Kevin Durant to a “calf strain.”

Exactly how long Durant will be out is unknown, but he will at least miss tomorrow’s tilt. It certainly not only changes the landscape of this series, but the entire playoff picture. Sure, it seems like being down to three All-Stars isn’t that bad, but Golden State isn’t as deep this year as they have been in the past.

On TNT’s Inside the NBA, Charles Barkley went as far as to say the remaining Warriors cannot win this series against Houston. The Warriors will still be an extremely tough out, but it appears that a window may be open for the Rockets to knock off the defending champs.

Plenty of exciting basketball to watch and we aren’t even to the Conference Championships yet. Keep an eye on these games over the next few days and follow along with us as we keep you up-to-date on the action.

Thriving in the underdog role

With the NBA Playoffs underway, we have had the opportunity to see multiple teams embrace the underdog role and surprise the big dogs.

No-matter your record, seeding, reputation, anything, you can still beat the odds and be the best team for a game. Once you start rolling, you may gain momentum that can help you sustain that success. We have seen it many times before, especially in the NCAA Tournament as we did again recently. In the first round of the NBA playoffs, we have already gotten to see it multiple times.

Despite long odds, the Nets, Clippers, Magic, and Spurs have already pulled off upsets on the road. The biggest one came last night, as the Los Angeles Clippers deafeated the Golden State Warriors in game two of the series.

The Clippers were down by 31 in the third quarter before storming back to defeat the back-to-back NBA champs. Rookie Landry Shamet (formerly of Witchita State) hit a go-ahead three to seal it. Patrick Beverly continued to lock-down Kevin Durant and Lou Williams went on one of his scoring tears to climb back into it. The 31 point comeback marked the biggest comeback in NBA Playoff history.

This seems like a good time to remind you that no team is invincible. There are still plenty of games left in each of the NBA series’ involved in these upsets. That said, the landscape has significantly shifted, stealing confidence from one side and feeding it to the other. Confidence is big in the sport of basketball.

Everything negative - pressure, challenges - are all an opportunity for me to rise.
— Kobe Bryant

For that reason, it is important to approach every game and every moment with confidence. Believe that your shot will go in. Believe that your team can win the game. Believing is clearly not everything, but if you have put in the work, there is no reason that you can’t give it your all and compete. If you do that, then you can shift the odds at any time.

Being the underdog in a game or being overlooked as a player or team often means that you may be underestimated. Use that as fuel. Harness the chip on your shoulder. No one knows what you can do better than yourself. There isn’t much that is more satisfying than defying odds and proving nay-sayers wrong.

So be that team! Be that player! Don’t sweat rankings or records, just control what you can by working as hard as possible, being confident, and not backing down from a challenge.

Remember, to help you work as hard as possible, stay at the peak of your game, and keep raising that peak, contact The Basketball Movement. We believe in you and we can help you be ready for the big moments.

Golden State Warriors: 2018 NBA Champions

The Golden State Warriors are back-to-back NBA Champions, with Kevin Durant winning his second Finals MVP award.

There was little doubt coming into these Finals that the Golden State Warriors were a better team than the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Dubs swept the Cavs, celebrating their victory after game four in Cleveland last night.

Kevin Durant was a monster in the Finals averaging 29 points, 11 boards, 7.5 assists, and 2.3 blocks while shooting 53 percent from the field. His game three propelled his selection for the award, as he shouldered the load in the victory with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson struggling with their shots.

Former Finals MVP Andre Iguodala provided a spark off the bench in his two games back from injury. For the Playoffs, Steph Curry average 25 per game, Thompson about 20, and Durant 29. Draymond Green nearly average a Playoff triple-double with (approximately) a 11/11/8 line to go with 2 steals and 1.5 blocks.

The is Head Coach Steve Kerr's third championship coaching after winning five as a player.

The Cavaliers' side of things

In this series, LeBron James averaged 34/8.5/10 to go with a steal and a block while shooting 53 percent from the field and 84 percent from the stripe.

Interestingly, LeBron had a brace on his shooting hand in his last interview. Reports say that he injured it punching something after the frustrating game one loss. If true, this is a very disappointing move by James. Emotion cannot come before team success.

The extent of the injury is unknown, but it is tough to deny how banged up he was. The apparent hand injury, a few pokes in the eye, an ankle tweak, and the most minutes played in the NBA this season takes their toll.

Kevin Love was the only other Cavalier to average double-digit points in the series, averaging 19 and 11. The rest of the Cavs either were not used properly or just, well, stunk.

End of an interesting NBA season

It was assumed by most that the winner from the Western Conference would handle any team out of the East. The Warriors and Houston Rockets were on a different level than any other teams this year.

A fourth installment of Warriors vs. Cavaliers was not what many fans might have wished for. Really though, that just shows how spoiled we are by today's stars. The Finals gave us one of the best teams of all-time facing off against one of the best players of all-time.

This season was filled with interesting new squad compilations and a new crop of future stars. The NBA is still going very, very strong.

Now begins the offseason. The draft, free agency (that includes LeBron James), Olympics prep, and then Summer League await. Stay tuned to The Basketball Movement for all of the continued coverage!

All stats from BasketballReference.com

2018 NBA Finals schedule

A pair of familiar teams are set to face off with the NBA Finals schedule set.

For the fourth consecutive season, the NBA Finals will feature the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. Part IV will likely appeal to Golden State and LeBron James fans, but many would agree that a shake-up might have been nice.

The Warriors are overwhelming favorites after they dispatched the Chris Paul-less Houston Rockets in game seven to win the Western Conference Finals.

The most that fans can hope for is a competitive series. The Cavaliers will go just as far as the greatness of LeBron James can take them against Golden State's four All-Stars.

Note: 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala has been ruled out for game one with a leg contusion for Golden State. Kevin Love is doubtful for the Cavaliers with a concussion.

***Edit: Kevin Love has since been cleared to play in game one per a Cavaliers' statement.

Opinion time! I (@WilHarrington) would be very surprised to see this series go the distance. I predict that the Cavs will take game three or four at home. That means that Golden State will celebrate on their home floor after game five. We shall see!

NBA Finals schedule

Per NBA.com

Game 1: Thu, May 31: Cavaliers at Warriors, 8 p.m. CT, ABC
Game 2: Sun, June 3: Cavaliers at Warriors, 7 p.m. CT, ABC
Game 3: Wed, June 6: Warriors at Cavaliers, 8 p.m. CT, ABC
Game 4: Fri, June 8: Warriors at Cavaliers, 8 p.m. CT, ABC
*Game 5: Mon, June 11: Cavaliers at Warriors, 8 p.m. CT, ABC
*Game 6: Thu, June 14: Warriors at Cavaliers, 8 p.m. CT, ABC
*Game 7: Sun, June 17: Cavaliers at Warriors, 7 p.m. CT, ABC

* - If Necessary

The NBA Finals are the pinnacle of the greatest basketball league in the world. Stay on top of it right here at The Basketball Movement.

First round of NBA Playoffs nears its conclusion

The first round of the NBA Playoffs are almost over, save for a pair of exciting game sevens.

All of the first round matchups in the NBA have been decided but two, which will make for some must-see TV. The Western Conference is ready to go, while the matches in the East have yet to be determined. That will change in about 24 hours.

In the West, the 1 and 2 seed teams predictably handled their competition. The Houston Rockets beat the Timberwolves 4-1 and the Golden State Warriors defeated the Spurs 4-0. The rest of the West, who all finished with similar records, had a couple of upsets.

The 4 seeded OKC Thunder fell to the 5 seed Jazz last night to lose the series 4-2. The 6 seed Pelicans had a much more surprising start to their playoffs, sweeping the 3 seed Trailblazers. The New Orleans Pelicans could be an interesting foe for the potentially Steph Curry-less Warriors in the second round.

The beasts of the East

The 1 seed Raptors handled the Wizards 4-2 and the young 3 seed Philly team defeated the Heat 4-1. The other matchups are yet to be decided, coming down to one of the best parts of playoff ball: game sevens.

Tonight, the 2-seed Celtics will try to remain near the top of the food chain despite losing Kyrie Irving to injury. They will face of with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks at 7:00 PM central on TNT.

LeBron James is looking for his (ridiculous) 8th consecutive Finals appearance. That is in jeopardy as his Cavaliers have been pushed to game 7 by potential Most Improved Player, Victor Oladipo and the Pacers. That game will be on tomorrow at noon central on ABC.

Sit back and enjoy the show.

The Celtics/Bucks game tonight should be a lot of fun. The second round actually tips off tonight as well as Anthony Davis and the Pelicans open their series with the Warriors.

Tomorrow's tilt between the Cavs and Pacers should also be very entertaining as one of the greatest players ever will attempt to build on his legacy. That will conclude the first round of the 2017-18 NBA Playoffs.

A shake-up is always nice, but it also seems a little silly to bet against LeBron James. Enjoy the show and as always, check out the rest of The Basketball Movement blog while you're here!

 

The NBA Playoffs start on Saturday

The 2017-18 NBA season had its dramatic wrap-up last night, so the first round playoff matchups are set.

It feels like the big NCAA tournament just finished, yet we are already on the precipice of another great bracket of basketball. This time, it is the NBA's turn. Familiar faces abound, but there are some notable newcomers as well. Let's see how the regular season shook out.

Much of the seeding was not decided until last night, with many close teams in both the Eastern and Western Conferences. There was however one game that undeniably stood out as the most dramatic.

You know how every action movie has someone sliding under a huge door right before it closes? Well the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets had identical records, were the 8 and 9 seeds (top eight make it), and played each other last night. Minnesota made it in at the very last second, with the game going into overtime.

It was a fantastic game that served as a preview for the kind of basketball goodness that is in store this playoff season.

First round matchups

On both sides of the bracket, great matchups are ubiquitous and upset-potential abounds. That's fancy talk for: this should be fun. The Warriors are not favorites to defend their title, dropping 10 of their last 17 entering the preseason. Steph Curry is still on the shelf as well.

West

Houston (1) vs. Minnesota (8) - Here are your title favorites. The Timberwolves are rewarded for making it in with a matchup against the top team in the NBA through the regular season.

Oklahoma City (4) vs. Utah (5) - Russell Westbrook locked up a triple-double average last night and is the second player ever to do it twice. Yet, they are barely favorited despite no All-Stars for the Jazz.

Portland (3) vs. New Orleans (6) - The Trailblazers are one of the hottest teams in the league. Despite the injury to DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and the Pelicans should give them plenty of trouble.

Golden State (2) vs. San Antonio (7) - The Spurs are in for the 21st season in a row. They certainly aren't as strong as normal. The Warriors are down Steph Curry, leaving them only one MVP and two other All-Stars.

East

Toronto (1) vs. Washington (8) - With John Wall back, the Wizards are a scary 8 seed. The Raptors have had their best season in years and anything short of the Finals will be a letdown.

Cleveland (4) vs. Indiana (5) - The Pacers have been better than anyone might have expected. Unfortunately for them, LeBron James seems to find himself in the NBA Finals almost every single season.

Philadelphia (3) vs. Miami (6) - The 76ers won 50+ games for the first time since Iverson. It will be interesting to see how far their young stars can take them. An injured Joel Embiid could be trouble against the Heat's Hassan Whiteside.

Boston (2) vs. Milwaukee (7) - The Celtics are without Hayward and Irving, but have scrapped all season against the odds. Do not count them out, even against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.