Tag Archives: Playoffs

The Evolution to Steph

As popular as Steph Curry is with hardcore and casual fans, he and his Golden State Warriors teammates run through the record books isn’t as well received by those who were a major factor in writing those records. The defending champions’ dominant 2015-2016 season has brought out the curmudgeons and so-called “purists” who long for the way the game was played yesteryear.

In February when 11-time NBA World Champion coach Phil Jackson tweeted….

It created a small brush fire through the sports world and media, but it was nothing compared to the inferno unleashed by Hall of Fame great Oscar Robertson when he called out today’s coaches and players for not coming up with better game plans and execution to defend Curry.

In a scathing tone, the “Big O” said on ESPN’s Mike & Mike, “[Curry] has shot well because what’s going on in basketball today. In basketball today, it’s almost like if you can dunk or make a three-point shot, you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread…If I’ve got a guy who’s great shooting the ball outside, don’t you want to extend your defense out a little bit?… These coaches [today] do not understand the game of basketball, as far as I’m concerned.”

Mr. Robertson sounded like grumpy old Mr. Wilson scolding Dennis the Menace after catching him throwing the ball to close to the cars in his driveway.

While Phil’s tweet badly missed the mark he was shooting for, he may be on to something. Yes, no one has done it as efficiently and with the same flare as Steph, but several have in small doses. He is now what the point guard position has evolved into.

The dictionary defines the term evolution as the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form. The following names are the players from the past who Wardell Stephen Curry got the ingredients for what he’s cooking.

Bob Cousy, the “Houdini of the Hardwood”, was the first showman in the history of the Association with his slick ball handling and flashy passes. Cousy wasn’t just style, he was substance, winning the 1957 NBA MVP and helping the Boston Celtics win 6 championships and averaged 7.5 assist per game for his career.

“Pistol Pete” Marivach was a scoring machine with Harlem Globetrotter-esque handles, and before his time creativity with his shot taking and making. His scoring exploits began with a stellar 3-year career at LSU {freshman were ineligible to play varsity during his time} where he scored 3,667 points, averaging 44.2 points per game for his collegiate career.

In eleven professional seasons, the “Pistol” averaged 24.2 points per game on 44% shooting from the field and 67% (10/15) from three {the 3-point line was instituted in 1979-80 season} and 5.4 assists per game for his career.

Nate Tiny Archibald, the first diminutive player—by comparison to his opponents— to dominate the NBA in scoring while still having the innate ability to set up teammates. He’s the only player in history to lead the Association in scoring and assists in the same season at 34.0 points and 11.4 assists per game on 49% shooting for the Kansas City Kings.

Isiah Thomas, had the handle to put his opponents on skates, right before elevating into his deadly mid range jumper that was as lethal as Curry’s deep 3’s. Thomas averaged 19.2 points and 9.3 assists per game for his 13-year career with the Detroit Pistons. Four consecutive seasons Thomas averaged 20+ points and 10+ assists per game, leading the Association in assists with 13.9 per game in 1984-1985.

Ray Allen. People forget about Milwaukee Bucks/Seattle Supersonics Ray when they annoint Curry as the greatest shooter ever. In his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Bucks, Allen averaged 19.6 points per game on 45% from 2-point range and 41% from beyond the arc. When he was traded to the Sonics and became the number one option, he averaged 24.6 points per game on 44% from 2’s and 39% from downtown. The 6’6″ Allen, in his prime, did much of his damage taking defenders off the dribble and sinking pull up J’s from mid-range and deep, albeit not with as many attempts as Steph. The most three’s he attempted in a season was 653 (8.4 per game) in 2005-2006. The last two seasons, Steph has averaged 8.1 and 11.1 3-point attempts per game, and has shot more than 600+ 3-pointers for the last four seasons

Dell Curry. I can’t ignore half the DNA in which Steph comes from. As the saying goes, “he is his father’s son.” The Curry’s elite shooting ability is similar to the Manning’s passing skills in the NFL. The father Curry was considered a dead-eye shooter at 40% from 3-point range and 48% from the field during his 16-year career with the Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors. His best years came in Charlotte, but his career best 48% 3-point shooting percentage in 1998-99 with the Bucks led the NBA. He obviously shared his knowledge, work ethic and skills with his sons. Even younger brother Seth with the Sacramento Kings has the gift. He’s a career 47% 3-point shooter in his 46 games played over 3 seasons in the NBA. 

I’m not saying any of these guys are better than Steph or not. It’s just they have similarities in certain areas or skills. I do agree with LBJ’s overall point. Never before have we seen anyone DO IT in the way Steph is doing it. As time goes on, many will try to emulate him as the game of basketball evolves.

Just like with those before him, one day we’ll be looking back at Steph as another plot point in the evolution of greatness.

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Blow up the NBA Playoffs: What if the NBA Went With the Best 16 Teams?

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Commissioner Adam Silver needs to use his executive powers to fix the NBA Playoff format.

The NBA is considering revising the Playoffs to include the 16 teams with the best record regardless of conference affiliation. This isn’t a new thought process, but it’s gaining more steam in the past couple of years due to the outcry that teams with losing records are getting into the playoffs in the Eastern conference bracket and a couple teams above .500 being eliminated from the playoffs on the Western conference side.

Commissioner Adam Silver has said he’s open to the idea of revamping the current playoff structure. Last Wednesday night speaking on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area during the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors game, the Commissioner said “we want to see our best teams in the playoffs.” That doesn’t always happen under the current format.

Since 2010 5 teams missed the playoffs even though they won more than .500 games, all in the Western conference. Meanwhile 3 teams made the playoffs in the East with losing records, the worse with only 37 wins out of 82.

I’ll add to the Commissioner’s comments, we the fans, also want to see the best players compete in the playoffs. Under the current format, three high profile All-NBA players in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans would be watching the chase for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Durant and Davis are in many people’s opinions 2a and 2b on the list of best player in the League, while Westbrook is in the discussion for best point guard. Would we really want to see a playoffs missing those three?

The cons to this format change is the construction of the current schedule. Right now, Western and Eastern conference teams play 2 games against the opposite conference and sometimes 4 games within conference. Many have said a balanced schedule where every team plays each other the same amount of times is needed to make the re-seeding format fair.

The current format has been in use since 1984 when the NBA expanded to 16 teams. Maybe now is the time for a change. Change is good and this would be a VERY good change.

So just for fun, if the new formatted playoffs started today here’s the 16 teams that would be in and how they would be seeded with 1 matching up with 16, 2 against 15 and so on.

1. Golden State Warriors (42-9/.824) vs. 16. New Orleans Pelicans (27-26/.509)

2. Atlanta Hawks (43-11/.796) vs. 15. Oklahoma City Thunder (28-25/.528)

3. Memphis Grizzlies (39-14/.736) vs. 14. Phoenix Suns (29-25/.537)

4. Toronto Raptors (36-17/.679) vs. 13. Milwaukee Bucks (30-23/.566)
* The Raptors, Portland Trailblazers and Houston Rockets have identical records, but Toronto gets higher seed for having a better Conference Record.*

5. Portland Trailblazers (36-17/.679) vs. 12. Cleveland Cavaliers (33-22/.600)
*The Trailblazers get the tie breaker and higher seed over the Rockets for being the Northwest division leader. The Rockets are second in the Southwest division.*

6. Houston Rockets (36-17/.679) vs. 11. Washington Wizards (33-21/.611)

7. Dallas Mavericks (36-19/.642) vs. 10. Chicago Bulls (34-20/.630)

8. Los Angeles Clippers (35-19/.648) vs. 9. San Antonio Spurs (34-19/.642)

That would leave the Miami Heat (22-30/.423) and Charlotte Hornets (22-30/.423), the current seventh and eighth seeds in the East out of the playoffs.

By taking the best 16 teams, I believe you’ll create better evenly matched series’ with more unpredictable results. In the 2014 Playoffs there was only one sweep, but four series that ended after only five games.

But most importantly with re-seeding, in a star driven league, the game’s biggest stars will be on the biggest stage. Only 2 of the 2015 NBA All-Stars would miss the playoffs, Camelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings. But, both are on teams that are terrible and in the case of the Knicks, historically bad.

Former commissioner David Stern used his executive power in 2003 to extend the first round series from a best of five to a best of seven in an attempt to make the playoffs more exciting and unpredictable. Silver should exercise his power and adapt the re-seeding format to do the same.

Big Brother is STEEL the Bully on the Block!

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Photo Courtesy: Steelers.Com

A month ago it looked as though the Cleveland Browns would finally knock their big brother out. Instead the narrative in this “rivalry”—if you can still call it that—is the same, another dominating performance by the Steelers over the Dawgs. Pittsburgh has now won 22 of the last 25 against Cleveland going back to 2001.

After a firework filled first half last Sunday against Detroit, this week was a lull until Roethlisberger hooked up with Antonio Brown for a 41 yard touchdown. Then a forced fumble and recovery by Troy Polumalu opened the door for Roethlisberger and the Steeler Offense to stretch the lead against a Browns defense that ranked 4th in the NFL.

The Steelers D is starting to resemble what Pittsburgh fans are accustom to, sacking Cleveland Quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden 5 times and creating turnovers. Three fumble recoveries, an interception returned for a touchdown and the first for the Steelers D in 16 games led to 17 of the 27 points scored.

My only gripe is the Steelers D gave up 200 plus yards to one wide receiver and this wasn’t Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, the undisputed best in the NFL. Josh Gordon had 14 receptions for 237 yards and a touchdown. This only highlights the greatest weakness in this team throughout this season and most likely what will cost them if they don’t make the playoffs. But, at least a majority of it came in garbage time.

The Steelers play is bitter sweet. On one hand you’re happy to see them play with the sense of pride from an organization that has the most Super Bowl Trophies. But, on the other hand, you’re shaking your head in disappointment that they didn’t figure it out sooner.

Pittsburgh still has a chance to win the AFC North division with another game against the struggling Cincinnati Bengals and can still make the playoffs as a wild card if they don’t win the North. The only teams that have a better shot at grabbing that last spot would be the Tennessee Titans who beat the Steelers in week one, and the Oakland Raiders who beat Pittsburgh in week eight.

Unfortunately they are entering a tough situation this week playing two games in four days on the road; their next on Thanksgiving night at Baltimore. If they can continue to use this winning recipe that has helped them win three in a row—5 of their last 7—the Black & Gold will complete one of the most improbable turnarounds in recent NFL history. Once in the playoffs it’s a whole new ball game. Just ask the 2005 Super Bowl Champs.