- Atlantic Division
Vince Carter. Chris Bosh. And now DeMar DeRozan. Another Toronto Raptors legend left before his time. And this one sadly may be the greatest yet. Sure getting Kawhi Leonard in return on paper sounds like the perfect match. That being if you had read all about it in the Toronto Star last year mind. This former San Antonio Spurs fallout in Texas was well documented for all the things that weren’t said, but actioned a thousand times more than words. And now the former mild mannered seeming Leonard no longer seems like a sure thing. Oh and he’s a free agent next Summer too. So like the Lakers no one is holding their breath. We wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up back in San An of all places. Still for the year Kawhi and Kyle could form a great one, two. Along with the team of Serge Ibaka, Danny Green and new big signing from the Bucks, Greg Monroe. But it just won’t hit like one of the best backcourts of the last half decade in Lowry and D. The 6 has really been turned upside down now.
With all the talk of LeBron in Lakerland right now, nobody speaks on the original post-Kobe star of the purple and gold future, ‘D’Angelo Russell anymore. But he was a part of their young core like Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle after him before Ball that deserved more. Now with another former Laker, Lin gone again in a New York minute, D’Angelo has a vanguard of talent around him. DeMarre Carroll, Kenneth Faried, Ed Davis (wasted Lakers stand up!) Shabazz Napier and Spencer Dinwiddie. But if he wants to be king of the B.K. he better serve us a whopper of a year. Otherwise D’Angelo’s star status will remain untitled. How does it feel? He could be the one like his jersey number. But until then it’s just another Beastie Boy reference.
New York Knicks
Ewing. Starks. Carmelo. The ghosts of Garden’s past still haunt Madison Square like biting into a rotten apple. But at least the big-man unicorn magic of Kristaps Porzingis can light up the darkness. It’s beyond belief how far the best international big since Dirk could take the Knickerbockers to glory. And the supporting cast of Enes Kanter, Courtney Lee, Joakim Noah and Tim Hardaway Jr. are the perfect compliment like peanuts at the end of the bar. But now New York have added one of the best young players in the game in Emmanuel Mudiay to the mix who knows how it will all turn out under the glare of Times Square. New Year neon or end of the season blackout? This team could make the playoffs if they play more like how they look on scouting report paper and less like…well, the Knicks.
“Passionate. Intense. Proud”. That’s what an old post-Answer, Sixers rally towel from a trip to Philly a decade ago hung up in my room says. Now their motto is simply, ‘The Process’. Big talent Joel Embiid started it and now Aussie ruler Ben Simmons is the reigning Rookie of the Year in what in reality is his second salary calender with the Sixers franchise. Process that! And who knows what Markelle Fultz could be? Surrounded with talent like Dario Saric, Anthony Brown, Amir Johnson, Wilson Chandler, Emeka Okafor and J.J. Reddick. And now with former All-Star Elton Brand their new General Manager, could this be the year the new Sixers Iverson themselves over the league like stepping over Ty Lue? Trust it’s a must.
Once again the strength of Boston can’t be beat. Last season the Celtic pride of Isaiah Thomas was traded for the King’s man, Kyrie Irving and aligning with Utah Jazz free agent Gordon Hayward they formed a dynamic duo of the future. But who would have thought it would all snap (or should we say twist?) on the first day of the season when Hayward turned his whole foot the other way round? And who would have thought after carrying the team for a whole MVP worthy season Uncle Drew would end up hobbled before the playoffs too? But then in turn again who would have thought the young guns and new dynamic duo of star to be Jaylen Brown and one of the rookies of the year Jayson Tatum, dunking and chest shoving on LeBron would run the future of Boston like the spirits of Len Bias and Reggie Lewis and almost go all the way? Now with All-Star Al Horford in the middle this team has the perfect starting five. Not to mention the bench mob of Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris and Smart. Kyrie giving birth to the next chapter of the storied Celtics/Lakers rivalry versus his former Cavalier King ally thinks his team could take the Golden State Warriors in a seven game series. We think not. We think they can do it in less.
LeBron is gone. Lets get that out of the way. The King has left the castle of his land. But Love stuck around. Imagine that! From the hard hat heart of his construction worker contract sign, we need to talk about how this is Kevin’s team and time now. No King. No Kyrie. Just J.R. and the shot clock. But have faith Love will do for Believeland what he is for mental health awareness right now. Remember this zero jersey number is the type of player who put up 30/30 numbers on the board by himself in the wilderness of Minnesota. This prince may never be king, but he’ll always be basketball royalty. And for a franchise that’s cleaned house (from Isaiah Thomas to Dwyane Wade) and replaced them all with young guns from the La La Land LeBron now belongs to (Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance), Love is the perfect leader for this solid gold team of heart (Tristan Thompson, Rodney Hood, George Hill, Kyle Korver and just how good Sam Dekker could turn out). Why hate?
Michael. Scottie. Dennis. Those were the days right. Butler. Rondo. Wade. Them too. Rose. Don’t make me cry. Chandler and Curry? Don’t make us laugh. The Windy City has been through the storm. But hold on now Chi-town may finally be on to something again. Hometown hero Jabari Parker leads a new look team of Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Denzel Valentine, anchored around veteran big Robin Lopez that could really get everyone out their seats once they varnish the splinters out their bench. Markkanen is big, Zach can bang, Denzel Valentine will make his name more than just cool and as for Jabari. Well you know him by his first name. Doesn’t that make him a star?
And another one. Now the return of Lance Stephenson has left yet again to be in the ear of the King of L.A., there is no one left from the Paul George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill, David West (Happy Retirement) and Danny Granger, Indy 5.00 era. And this Domantas Sabonis, Tyreke Evans and Myles Turner sports team remains relatively unchanged too. Although adding guys like Doug McDermott and Canuck, Cory Joseph gives them more playoff pull. But how much this team will improve lies in truth in the souls of the sneakers of Most Improved Player (improved? Really in this case the award the NBA gives for player they most slept on) Victor Oladpio. Who is set to run until he finds the promised land, or at least another All-Star trip. It’s time to keep pace. Hoosiers don’t just run pickets. The Fieldhouse won’t be fenced in for long.
Motor City could assembly line all the automobiles Blake Griffin wants to fly over, but they’d still be a touch of chrome and paint away from really riding. And you thought it was all about the hyperdunks when it came to jumping over convertibles. Down 8 Mile road the frontcourt force of Drummond and Griffin is like the one he flew in L.A. with Jordan. But without all the Sterling drama underneath the Spalding rim dunks, as Blake swaps DeAndre for “just” Andre. And the running cog Reggie Jackson, who is like a spring-loaded, spark-plug to this Pistons machine. With Blake Motown has as lively an identity as when Marvin and Tammi sang. But it’s going to take more than just two…or three for this team to be the beast of the East’s eighth wonder.
Buck it. All this team needs to get buckets, blocks, ‘bounds and bounce passes is Greak Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. He can play every position and spread the entire floor with that gazelle like first step, or Jordan inspired Maya Moore poster across Minnesota wingspan. But in Milwaukee, losing Jabari and Greg Monroe, with no Mayo for garnishing leaves these deers in the headlights. But fear not. This team has Malcom Brogdon, Thon Maker and Eric Bledsoe now. And as long as they re-up sixth spark veteran Jason ‘Jet’ Terry like they’ve added one of the best centers in the league from downtown, Brook Lopez than this deer will have plenty in reserve. It’s as simple as A, B, C. Still however, if you want to win like 1, 2, 3. Then it’s time to recite the alphabet.
Bradley Beal street and the only Wall in Washington we’ll ever be down with may form the best backcourt in the L if you haven’t yet read the first paragraph of our Western Conference season preview. But Gortat is gone. And Dwight Howard is hardly the bigger and better replacement when you look at how many teams he has journeyed with over the last couple of years. It’s a good job they got Bryant off the Lakers too. Thomas…not Kobe. That would be awkward…or hella entertaining. The Wiz can spell players like Jeff Green, Jodie Meeks, Doc’s son Austin Rivers and more to make points. But how about the prize? Sure these Wizards have tricks, but in losing Gortat and choosing Howard I solemnly swear they are up to no good.
Dwyane Wade is taking his talents to the Chicago natives real home for one last run. And it’s time to appreciate one of the top five Shooting Guards and possibly the greatest Miami Heat franchise player of all-time on his retirement tour whilst we still can, as he no longer lives or plays in the Kings shadow. But don’t think you won’t see flashes of brilliance as D-Wade heads to the rocking chair, switching sneakers for slippers. You remember what he did in that Miami Vice jersey last season and for who? And wouldn’t it be fitting if Udonis Haslem who never left calls it a day with his old friend next seasons end too? Although we are pretty sure we will see this number 40 in a red, black and white jersey forever, in one way or rafter another. With the Heat fire dragon Dragic and hero Kelly Olynek South Beach has the talent to give Wade an outside shot for one last World Championship. But once the buzzer rings and the bell tolls, then the new big-three W of Whiteside, Winslow and Waiters can begin their service in earnest. Until then Florida is still Wade’s world.
Get your talons into this Napoleon Dynamite. Vince Carter will soar once more as he spreads his wingtips with the Hawks. And Air ATL can still fly as this is 40. Besides V.C. could probably still win Slam Dunk contests at 50. Get it? Five tens! But with the era of Schroder over the Hawks have little else outside their starting five. Even if they have added the Linsanity of Jeremy Lin to this crazy mess of Kent Bazemore and not much more. Until you count their top pick in the draft in Trae Young punching his winning lottery ticket. This kid is the future of the league and right now the only thing these Hawks have got that could really take wing. But until they welcome him by letting him take off in the A it’s just birdseed.
Seriously?! How many more losing seasons do you need before owner Michael Jordan steps down and suits up. Sure he’s learned from Washington and let me say I’m 99.999999% and another nine certain he aint coming back. But oh how this North Carolina team needs the greatest of all-time…even if he is well past his prime. The Hornets need help and as good as he is Tony Parker is closer to joining his friend Manu Ginobili than being the future of this franchise. And T.P. in teal just looks stranger for the Spurs legend than the whole Kawhi Leonard situation out in San Antonio. Sure Kemba, Kidd-Gilchrist, Kaminsky, Batum and Lamb are pure talent. But you only have to look at a guy like Marvin Williams to see what happens to the appreciation of said talent when the spotlight shines somewhere else. Last year the most exciting thing in uniform for Buzz City was the inclusion of Nike’s Jumpman logo on the lapel. But just like number 23 in the United rafters we can take it higher than that. Because like their shrugging owner this is a franchise that’s history in this league. One thats throwback jerseys even tell their own golden era story. Charlotte will always mean something.
Erm…I know ‘Space Jam’ was Bugs Bunny and all, but how’s your jump shot Mickey? Hey! Put that mop down! And bring that duck with you too. We have a pair of shorts for him. Air Gordon needs some help in Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom. He can’t do it all by himself like in ‘Uncle Drew. He needs a big legend like Shaq or Hardaway. Otherwise it’s just pennies in a town that runs off Disney dollars.
The Warriors Came Out To Play This Series
Even without the fantasy Basketball of Kevin Durant in this series, the Golden State Warriors still brought out the brooms like ‘Fantasia’.
And swept out of Game 4 like Thanos click finger dust, the Portland Trailblazers may have only lost by a bucket (119-117)…and in overtime at that. But with all the Splash they had to contend with this series from brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, they were left dealing with more leaks and holes in all of their own ones like Mickey Mouse in said Disney epic.
This was meant to be the showdown between Dell Curry’s boys Steph and Seth which divided a household. And although the youngest gun stepped up to the plate, swung big in this carnival and knocked them down, big brother was always watching.
Steph Curry averaged over 36 points a game this series. Just read that again. 36 points. Right now we don’t need to talk about Kevin.
The Warriors are a dynasty for the ages even without their best player (although this writer thinks he wasn’t missing this entire series). The first team to make it to five straight finals since the Boston Celtics. The 1960’s Bill Russell Celtics. That’s King James crowning legendary. And Steph Curry with the shot and that facet of the game is just as iconic and dominant as a Bill block.
Give some credit to a blazing Portland side who never gave up despite the box score. They can hold their heads in the PDX. Even in their Moda Center home-stand City Of Roses end in RIP City. Their season eulogy should read as a celebration and commiseration, not a trolling condescension from critically entitled fans who have done nothing to determine the outcome of these games and could never make it this far in their wildest memes. They call themselves “influencers”? Well no one’s going to remember them in 50 years.
The NBA will remember one of their Top 100 greatest of all-time in a half century though. As after hitting the biggest buzzer beater in playoff history against Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, Damian Lillard played through the pain of separated ribs this series and still made the Basketball God’s look down from the hoop heavens with praise. Like New York singer St. Vincent tweeted, “Damian Lillard is my hero”. Even his backcourt brother of splash CJ McCollum in the only small man set up to rival Curry and Klay came out to play against the Warriors after midrange mining the Nuggets into submission in Denver just over a week ago.
But Curry’s red hot triple double, starter, mains and dessert dish of 37, 13 and 11, to go along with a playing not crying, Draymond Green’s day of 18, 14 and 11 assists also was just too much in the clutch. As Stephen and Dray became the first teammates in NBA history to have a triple double in the same playoff game. Forget how much this team can unbelievably keep winning, how does this ball manage to get shared this much?
Well that just may be the secret of success?
The real test is dubbed next however in the Warriors last season in Golden State before they move across that Golden bridge to the Silicon Valley of a digital age in San Francisco. They will play the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks (probably…Giannis…MVP. Sorry Toronto but come on!) and Raptors series. But by then they should have some guy called Kevin back.
I mean come on. This has been getting crazy. This is just out of hand like said ball in Splash City.
Now Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics’ record of eight straight finals and wins doesn’t look far out of reach for Steph Curry and the player and team with the biggest range in the association over the gate of the Pacific.
Welcome to the Toronto Raptors’ Jurassic Park
“In Jurassic Park, Raptor fans wait until after dark. Even if the cold might eat them!”
Fans find a way.
An ace serve or two away from being as legendary as Wimbledon’s ‘Murray Mound’ or ‘Henman Hill’ outside the Scotiabank Arena, the Toronto Raptors Maple Leaf Square’s “Jurassic Park” may just be the ticket for this sold out crowd.
Raptor Klaw, Kawhi Leonard ruled the earth last night. He and the T-Dot at the final tick beat the Sixers in The Six, as his shot bobbled like a beach ball on the surface of a swimming pool before making the biggest splash of these postseason playoffs. Taking longer to fall than Leonardo DiCaprio’s spinning top in ‘Inception’. But this was no dream.
And if you thought the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto erupted last night, then outside in Maple Leaf Square it was like the volcanoes that killed the dinosaurs after that big ball dropped. An Armageddon even Bruce Willis couldn’t save like he wish he could his career.
Welcome to Jurassic World.
With all due respect to the Linsanity of Jeremy Lin, or pick your poison whoever is your flash card pick of the bench mob pack, but the Jurassic Park crowd fenced in outside of Scotia is the
Forget rain or shine. You see the slickers. These faithful fans will pitch a spot waiting for game time like the ball to drop in Times Square for New Year in New York, sleeping bag lining up all day in their hordes huddled for warmth. These beautiful fans will brave the harshest, most frigid temperatures to be the coldest fans in the game in more ways than one. Part of the ‘We The North’ community in the 6 that the Basketball God’s look down on with pride, whilst other armchair fans watch this game for the throne from home. Or leave early like those suit and tie corporate seats trying to catch that last red eye Matt Bonner home.
Can you imagine of they called game early before Kawhi last night?
I could imagine Drake taking in the CN Tower looking up views of the Jurassic
Well those in the park for recreation stayed until the beautiful end to a game Butler almost delivered bitter. And you could could phantom cam see every emotion in slow motion last night as Leonard’s buzzer beating ball toyed with the rim like three dots on messenger, or Damien Lillard even further downtown in Oklahoma City.
This is the spirit of the stadium and the soul of the squad, expanding the capacity arena and the Canadian ballclubs worldwide fanbase watching on their own Jumbotrons.
And the Toronto Raptors are going to need all the north they can get if they’re going to stop the Bucks in Milwaukee.
But this club has the claws to do it. And if you don’t think they can win in Wisconsin on their own road to being the first franchise outside of the United States to be NBA finalists and who knows what next against the Warriors(?), then just watch this Canadian cornerstone from the Jurassic era.
Extinct in six? Nah! Get ready to hear the North roar.