Doubting the King is never a good idea, and last night’s Laker win over Boston proved just that

On Thursday, February 7th, much of the talk in the NBA was surrounding the trade deadline. It usually is always like this on this big day, but this year it seemed somewhat different. Perhaps the biggest headline was the fact that it looked as if the Lakers weren’t going to acquire disgruntled superstar center Anthony Davis from the Pelicans. There had been a week of negotiating and leveraging between New Orleans and LA, but Pelicans general manager Dell Demps wasn’t ever seriously considering dealing the NBA’s best big man to the Lake Show.

Demps seemingly made his mind up on waiting to trade Davis until the summer, when the draft pick stacked Boston Celtics can enter the bidding war for the star. Demps also looks to love the idea of acquiring 2017 top three draft pick Jayson Tatum from the Celtics in a potential trade package. It became clear the Lakers were done for the day when they made a move to trade 21 year old center Ivica Zubac and veteran forward Michael Beasley to the rival Clippers for floor stretching center Mike Muscala. It might’ve been a panic move to trade away a young player who’d been contributing a ton for the team while LeBron James was out, but many are saying it was a move made primarily to add more shooting and create a roster spot for the buyout market.

A few days ago, the Lakers made their first trade deadline move, acquiring experienced shooting and defense from the Pistons in the form of forward Reggie Bullock. The buyout market name they’ve been connected to most is Carmelo Anthony, who isn’t as good as he once was, but still could be an impactful bench player for the Lakers. But enough of discussing players who aren’t yet on the roster or are possible additions, what happened last night at the TD Garden was a big statement for the Lakers and one that was much needed.

It honestly felt like there wasn’t even a game on this trade deadline day, but the Lakers were continuing their Eastern Conference road trip against the Boston Celtics, renewing a longtime rivalry between two NBA powerhouses. The Lakers were two and a half games out of the 8th seed in the West, and were just now getting healthy with LeBron James having returned a few games ago. But fans were worried, they hadn’t made a big splash at the deadline, and they were coming off a 42-point road loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night.

It looked as if another big blowout loss was going to be handed to the Lakers on Thursday night in the early stages of the game. The Lakers came out ice cold, missing shots inside the paint and out, and also struggling to shoot free throws. In the second quarter, Boston started connecting on open shots, and opened up a 53-35 lead when Luke Walton called for a timeout with less than seven minutes remaining. Social media was calling for Walton to be fired in order to send a message to the team, but what happened after this timeout was something no one could’ve expected.

The Lakers started playing fast-paced basketball, getting back to their preferred style of play. They also began hitting shots and making plays on defense, as they finished the half on a 22-13 run to cut the Celtics lead in half. The hot stretch continued as the Lake Show came out for the second half, taking the lead early in the third quarter. The Lakers hit nine threes in the quarter, including four from young rising star Kyle Kuzma, who is still finding a feel for his jumper. The Lakers led by six at the end of the third quarter, which by the way was a 42-point third quarter, and likely the team’s best quarter of the season.

But NBA fans knew that Boston wouldn’t let up easily, as they stormed back to take the lead and it looked as if they wouldn’t let it slip a second time. Kyrie Irving was getting hot, and the Celtics couldn’t seem to be stopped by LA. But they also couldn’t seem to stop the King, as LeBron made the fourth quarter his. He first hit a three with less than six minutes to go that got the Lakers within two. Two minutes later, James stepped back to make a 27 foot three point jumper to cut the lead to one.

The three was quickly answered by Kyrie Irving’s step back three pointer that put the lead back to four points. A possession later when Irving hit two free throws, many fans thought the Celtics were in a safe position and wouldn’t blow a six point lead in the final three minutes. With Boston doubling up on LeBron, the Lakers young core had to step up in the bright lights, and they proved to be ready for the challenge. Brandon Ingram hit a quick pull-up jumper to make it a four point game, and after Jayson Tatum missed a jumper, Ingram assisted on a sweet Kyle Kuzma floater.

The Celtics led 119-117 with less than three minutes remaining. They possibly could’ve put a dagger in the Lakers when Marcus Smart got open twice on their next possession. Smart, the most accurate shooter in the East since the new year, came up short on both attempts before the Lakers secured the rebound. Brandon Ingram drove inside and got fouled by Kyrie Irving, but the Lakers free throw struggles continued as Ingram only managed to hit one of two. After missing the second, Ingram committed a silly foul on an inbounds pass by basically tackling Kyrie, who made both free throws to give the Celtics a three point lead.

After Kyle Kuzma missed an easy inside shot, the Celtics ran the fast break and Irving found a wide open Marcus Morris in the corner for three, and he drilled it. With the Celtics up six with nearly a minute to play, it felt over. But it wasn’t over, and the Lakers didn’t fold under pressure. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope answered with an open corner three on an inbounds pass from Rajon Rondo. Then when Kyrie Irving lost control of the ball, Brandon Ingram stole it and ran the fast break. The former number two overall pick dished it off to LeBron, who nearly lost the ball out of bounds while driving to the rim on Kyrie and Al Horford. The older James made an acrobatic save that ended up in the hands of KCP, who quickly saw James getting back into the play in the corner. And just like we would expect from the greatest ever, James silenced the TD Garden crowd with a three pointer to tie the game at 124.

After the Celtics called a timeout, Jayson Tatum drew a foul on the inbounds play and was able to hit two free throws to give them the lead. The Lakers called a timeout and Luke Walton drew up a beautiful play that would get the focus on LeBron and open up Kuzma for three. It worked to perfection as Kuzma drilled the go-ahead three pointer with 18.5 seconds left. Kyrie Irving didn’t let up though, as he drove to the basket and got an angle for the go-ahead layup with 11 seconds left.

The Lakers had no timeouts, and Marcus Morris wasn’t letting LeBron get the ball, so Brandon Ingram brought the ball up quickly. He drove into the paint and went for an up and under layup that was heavily contested by Al Horford. The ball was batted around before Tyson Chandler hit it towards Rajon Rondo, who caught it and swished the game-winning mid range jumper as the buzzer sounded.

It was a huge win for a Lakers team that really needed it. They’d battled all night and came out on top with a storybook ending for the former Celtic point guard in Rondo. The floor general had a game for the ages in his return home, scoring 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting, dishing out 10 assists, and grabbing 7 rebounds. He also hit three of four three point attempts. The King dominated this game as well, scoring 28 points, grabbing 12 boards, and dishing out 12 assists in a great performance.

It was a team effort however, as the young guys continued to produce despite having all of this drama surrounding them as of late. Kyle Kuzma looks to be gaining confidence in his jumper, scoring 25 points and hitting five three pointers. Brandon Ingram struggled from the field (4 for 14), but he played tremendous defense on Kyrie Irving for a long portion of the night, and he made impact plays away from his scoring, recording seven assists. The veterans were contributors as well, with JaVale McGee putting up 17 points and 8 rebounds, Lance Stephenson scoring 14 points off the bench, and KCP hitting five threes in a 17 point bench performance.

After this win, it has certainly become clear that these Lakers are a playoff team with this mix of veterans and rising young players, but they’ll have to continue winning over the final two months of the season to secure their spot. And don’t forget that they played last night’s game without any of their new trade deadline additions and Lonzo Ball. The road to the playoffs won’t be easy, but it certainly got easier with the Clippers seemingly tanking by trading star forward Tobias Harris to Philly. This win could be the game that turns the season around, but we will all have to wait and see.

The team celebrated this win together and nobody could’ve expected this from a team that looked terrible and had no chemistry in that awful loss to the Pacers. With the trade deadline behind them, the Lakers young core was still in tact and they played more confidently on this night. Being embroiled in trade deadline rumors for a week had to have been tough and it definitely took a toll on these young guys, but they overcame these hardships and won this game, together. But the main takeaway from last night’s thriller is simply this: don’t doubt LeBron James, he’s playing some of his best basketball of his career, he’s finally healthy, and he’s still the King.

Advertisements

NBA Free Agency: Should the Cavs consider a sign and trade for Lebron?

The NBA season is almost over and the Playoffs are just around the corner. The Cavs have a problem and his name is LeBron James. LeBron is once again a free agent and it’s already been speculated that he could once again leave Cleveland. LeBron is an attraction within himself. Players around the league all want to play alongside him even if they have to come to Cleveland. But the Cavs organization cannot bet their money on him staying while he is considering the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Image result for lebron james free agent choices

There is only one solution for the Cavs if LeBron decides to walk out again. They have to try and do a sign and trade with whichever team he decides to take his talents to.

Why Sign and trade?

The Cavs already have some youth and a top 5 pick with the net’s pick but I wouldn’t let LeBron leave a second time without getting something in return. Every team he is considering has some remarkable pieces that they can try and get out of the deal so that they can have more assets to either work with or use as trade bait. Now we have to be honest with ourselves. The Cavs are not going to get a Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ben Simmons, or a Joel Embiid. Most likely they will end up with Role players or Draft picks.

The Bad side and why they have to convince LeBron to do it

Now even though this is a possibility it is definitely a long shot. LeBron has 2 teams on his radar that can give him a max contract without losing a single asset. The tricky part to a sign and trade is if LeBron leaves then I know he wouldn’t want to give up anything on his new team in a sign and trade if he doesn’t have to. But with his love for the city of Cleveland I think he will consider it so that they can at least have something to either build around or use as trade bait in the offseason.

Now the best bet for this to happen is if LeBron chooses Houston. They already don’t have the cap to sign LeBron to a max but they have leverage over all of candidates because his best friend Chris Paul plays in Houston and LeBron would love to play alongside him. They would have to make some room on the roster to make this happen and Cleveland can take advantage of that to add some more pieces to their team.

Now LeBron staying is still a possibility for all my cavs fans but just in case he doesn’t this would be a good chance to secure your future. You guys are in good hands with GM Koby Altman whom I think will consider this option if LeBron chooses to walk. But what do you think?

Will LeBron walk once again this offseason? Should the Cavs try to do a sign and trade if he decides to walk?

 

Tristan Beckmann’s NBA Awards and Playoff Predictions at Midseason

The NBA Season is in full effect and we are nearing the ever so pumped up All-Star break. We just passed the trade deadline and fans witnessed one of the most spectacular deadlines in years, led by the Cleveland Cavaliers full on ship raid of their struggling roster. Some teams made moves, others stayed quiet, but in the end all that matters is one thing: The NBA Championship. Who will raise up the trophy in early June? But what about the MVP? What about other exciting individual awards? Well, you’ve come to the right place! I am here to do a full rundown of my personal predictions for each NBA Season award, and more. And I won’t leave you on that note, as I will be including my complete End of Season Predictions including the Playoffs. So enough of the talk. Let’s get right into my full predictions for the conclusion of this wonderful NBA Season.

Kia NBA Most Valuable Player is…

Houston Rockets SG James Harden

Current Statistics through 2/13/2018:

(31.3 points, 8.9 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 0.7 blocks, 35.8 minutes, 44.8% FG, 38.1% 3PT, 86.6 % FT)

Why: Harden has been arguably the best player in the NBA so far this season and he has led the Houston Rockets to a 42-13 record and contention for the first seed in the Western Conference. His stats speak for themselves and Harden has clearly established himself as the top MVP choice in my opinion. I mean to be fair, he’s averaging nearly 4 points more than the second highest scorer in the league. That’s astonishing! Unless he has a dramatic falloff in production in the second half of the season, I think that the Beard has finally secured an MVP award.

Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year is…

New Orleans Pelicans PF Anthony Davis

Current Statistics through 2/13/2018:

(10.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 2.1 blocks)

Why: The Brow is one of the most complete players in the game today and he’s having another stellar season on the defensive end. Davis forces opponents to go out of their comfort zone and he is a tremendous defensive asset for the Pelicans. Without Davis, this Pelicans team could simply be apart of the worst three teams in the entire NBA. His defensive value is unmatched and his statistics just weigh into that even more. He will keep swatting away shots and snagging rebounds that are out of his element.

Kia Most Improved Player is…

Indiana Pacers SG Victor Oladipo

Current Statistics through 2/13/2018:

(24.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.1 steals, 0.8 blocks, 34.5 minutes, 48.7% FG, 38.3% 3PT, 80.6% FT)

Why: Was Russell Westbrook holding back the development of future all-star guard Victor Oladipo in Oklahoma City? Well, we will never know but that’s certainly what some basketball minds will assume after watching the former Hoosier product play this season in a Pacers uniform. Oladipo has played out of his element this season and is finally becoming the star player that many hyped him up to be out of college. Being dealt to the Pacers was probably the best thing that really could’ve happened to Oladipo. He’s helped lead the Pacers to playoff contention in the Eastern Conference and will certainly aim to lead them to a deep run in the postseason.

Kia NBA Sixth Man Of The Year is…

Houston Rockets G Eric Gordon

Current Statistics through 2/13/2018:

(18.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.4 blocks, 31.9 minutes, 41.9% FG, 33.4% 3PT, 81.5% FT)

Why: Another Rockets shooting guard is my pick to win another award. Eric Gordon has finally shrugged off an injury plagued career and is having another career season in Houston. Last year’s three point contest winner is earning himself quite a reputation as a powerful scorer in Houston and expects to play a vitally important role in the Rockets postseason run later this season. Gordon provides a major punch as the first man off the bench and he can take over a game with his tremendous shooting ability as well as scoring talents.

Kia NBA Rookie of the Year is…

Utah Jazz SG Donovan Mitchell

Current Statistics through 2/13/2018:

(19.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.4 blocks, 32.0 minutes, 44.0% FG, 35.3% 3PT, 83.6% FT)

Why: Ok, ok, I get it, you’re probably extremely surprised and kind of understanding or you are screaming at me through your device right now. Where’s Ben Simmons, you might ask? Well, I’ve debated it for a long time and I believe that Simmons should not be considered a rookie and it is unfair. Essentially, I’m boycotting the Rookie of the Year award, if he wins it. Simmons earned valuable time on the bench while sitting out last season, unlike all rookies. But enough of the Simmons jabber, let’s talk about the Jazz future star guard Donovan Mitchell. I called that he was the steal of this draft as soon as he got drafted and he’s not made me look stupid yet. He’s been tremendous all season and is the star in Utah. He’s carrying and uplifting the Jazz as their go-to guy. He can score at will and take over at any given moment in the game. He’s scored over 40 points twice and we haven’t hit the All-Star break. Talk about deserving!

NBA Coach of the Year is…

Minnesota Timberwolves Head Coach Tom Thibodeau

Why: We have hit the most debatable award yet. Coach of the Year is always an interesting argument but I believe that Tom Thibodeau deserves the recognition this season. He’s turned around the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise, both as coach and vice president of basketball operations. The Wolves finished 13th in the Western Conference last season and had a 31-51 record. This season so far? They sit at 4th in the Western Conference and have a 35-24 record, which already showcases the fact that this team has more wins before the all-star break than they had all last season.

NBA All-Rookie First Team:

Dallas Mavericks G Dennis Smith Jr.

Utah Jazz G Donovan Mitchell

Boston Celtics F Jayson Tatum

Philadelphia 76ers F Ben Simmons

Los Angeles Lakers F Kyle Kuzma

NBA All-Rookie Second Team:

Los Angeles Lakers G Lonzo Ball

Sacramento Kings G De’Aaron Fox

Toronto Raptors F OG Anunoby

Chicago Bulls F Lauri Markkanen

Golden State Warriors F Jordan Bell

All-NBA First Team:

Golden State Warriors G Stephen Curry

Houston Rockets G James Harden

Cleveland Cavaliers F LeBron James

Milwaukee Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo

New Orleans Pelicans F Anthony Davis

All-NBA Second Team:

Oklahoma City Thunder G Russell Westbrook

Portland Trail Blazers G Damian Lillard

Toronto Raptors G DeMar DeRozan

Golden State Warriors F Kevin Durant

Philadelphia 76ers C Joel Embiid

All-NBA Third Team:

Boston Celtics G Kyrie Irving

Washington Wizards G Bradley Beal

Indiana Pacers G Victor Oladipo

Detroit Pistons F Blake Griffin

San Antonio Spurs F LaMarcus Aldridge

All-NBA Defensive First Team:

Milwaukee Bucks G Eric Bledsoe

Minnesota Timberwolves G Jimmy Butler

Oklahoma City Thunder F Paul George

New Orleans Pelicans F Anthony Davis

Utah Jazz C Rudy Gobert

All-NBA Defensive Second Team:

Houston Rockets G Chris Paul

Los Angeles Clippers G Patrick Beverley

Milwaukee Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo

Golden State Warriors F Draymond Green

Miami Heat C Hassan Whiteside

End of Season Playoff Predictions:

Eastern Conference End of Season Standings:

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Milwaukee Bucks
  5. Washington Wizards
  6. Indiana Pacers
  7. Philadelphia 76ers
  8. Detroit Pistons

Western Conference End of Season Standings:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. Houston Rockets
  3. Minnesota Timberwolves
  4. San Antonio Spurs
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder
  6. Portland Trail Blazers
  7. Denver Nuggets
  8. Utah Jazz

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals-

#1 Boston Celtics vs. #8 Detroit Pistons

Celtics defeat Pistons, 4-2.

#4 Milwaukee Bucks vs. #5 Washington Wizards

Bucks defeat Wizards, 4-3.

#3 Toronto Raptors vs. #6 Indiana Pacers

Raptors defeat Pacers, 4-2.

#2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #7 Philadelphia 76ers

Cavaliers defeat 76ers, 4-1.

Eastern Conference Semifinals-

#1 Boston Celtics vs. #4 Milwaukee Bucks

Celtics defeat Bucks, 4-2.

#2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #3 Toronto Raptors

Cavaliers defeat Raptors, 4-2.

Eastern Conference Finals-

#1 Boston Celtics vs. #2 Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavaliers defeat Celtics, 4-3.

Western Conference Quarterfinals-

#1 Golden State Warriors vs. #8 Utah Jazz

Warriors defeat Jazz, 4-0.

#4 San Antonio Spurs vs. #5 Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder defeat Spurs, 4-3.

#3 Minnesota Timberwolves vs. #6 Portland Trail Blazers

Timberwolves defeat Trail Blazers, 4-2.

#2 Houston Rockets vs. #7 Denver Nuggets

Rockets defeat Nuggets, 4-1.

Western Conference Semifinals-

#1 Golden State Warriors vs. #5 Oklahoma City Thunder

Warriors defeat Thunder, 4-3.

#2 Houston Rockets vs. #3 Minnesota Timberwolves

Rockets defeat Timberwolves, 4-3.

Western Conference Finals-

#1 Golden State Warriors vs. #2 Houston Rockets

Warriors defeat Rockets, 4-3.

The NBA Finals

#1 Golden State Warriors vs. #2 Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavaliers defeat Warriors, 4-3.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @TBeckmannPSF! Also share with your friends and let me know your thoughts on my Predictions on Twitter! Peace!

Rose signs with Cavs. 

With the signing of Derrick Rose, it’s clear that more then likely Kyrie will be on his way out of Cleveland. The amount of assets the Cavs can get for Kyrie is endless, there’s a poteinal trade between the Cavs and Celtics that would be monster, the talk were reported yesterday evening and one name stood out for the trade for Kyrie and that was Isiah Thomas. You may be asking now why would Boston give up such a very vauble asset which is basically their franchise player. There was also Jae Croweder and a 1st Round Pick (Brooklyn Nets) which would most likely be a top 10 pick if not a top 5 depending on how well they do this upcoming season. When it comes to the Celtics, Thomas wants to sign the super max deal which gives trouble to Celtics Danny Ainge, he has the luxury of picking up the last 3 years of Kyrie with little cap space hit and gets the superstar that Boston needs. If the the Celtics do manage to add Kyrie it will be interesting to see how these teams match up in the east, with Kyrie and Heyward, going up against LeBron, Rose, Love, Crowder and Thomas. In my eyes it’d be dumb for Cleveland to not take that deal and roll with it. It would make them more athletic and physical to go up against the Goldne State Warriors. This upcoming season will be one for the ages especially with all the drama and major trade talks between high caliber teams and players it surely will be very interesting. I’m pulling for the Cavs this year simply because Derrick Rose deserves to have a ring and most importantly to win it for himself and his pride. I see a bright future with Rose and Cavs after next season. Personally, Rose will have a major impact on this Cavs team and LeBron will spark a fire in him to bring back MVP Rose. 

Lakers interested in trading for Dwayne Wade

The question you may be asking is why would the Lakers want to trade for Dwayne Wade. I have a couple of answers as to why that may be, one reason behind this rumor would to establish a veteran presence in the Laker locker room but it seems to me that Lonzo Ball has taken the reigns and control of that team and has made it his,  according to Magic himself. We got a small glimpse as to what Lonzo has to offer and let me tell you, he put on quite a show; I know most people are like “oh it’s just summer league” but to me it’s something more, seeing him dish the ball out like Rondo and make buckets like Magic it is simply interesting. On that note most likely the main reason is that the Lakers want to be able to pitch to LeBron James in the summer of 2018. But with talks coming out of Philly, New York and even Boston it’s hard to figure out where LeBron will end up next offseason. Will he take money? Or would he rather chase rings? The ball is in his court however trouble is Cleveland paradise still arsises with Kyrie’s comments today stating Cavs are in a “peculiar” situation. Well for one there is still no GM and no major free agents have been signed and Kevin Love is still a Cav. Cleveland is pushing hard to get Love traded because his contract is a 20 million cap hit this year. With all those troubles arising people are taking the “where will LeBron go” next to a whole new level. My biggest surprise is Philly being in that mix, trust the process they say but why would anyone want to go play with the current starting 5 only playing 35 games in the last 2-3 years. Lastly, it will be interesting to see if LA can land Wade from a Bulls organization that can’t seem to get anything right as of late. Between the front office problems and players not wanting to play. Let’s see if this happens and somehow the Lakers can land James, George and Paul next summer. Wouldn’t that be interesting?