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Is Andre Iguodala The LeBron James Stopper?

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2015 NBA Finals Game One

We live in a society that is all about stardom, but last year, the NBA Finals brought a bit of fresh air. A year ago, the Finals MVP was not named Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, or LeBron James. Last year’s Finals MVP did not lead the league in scoring, nor the Finals for that matter. He was named MVP for his defense.

After all, the Golden State Warriors were considerably better with Andre Iguodala on the floor. In the 2015 Finals, Golden State outscored Cleveland by 62 points with Iguodala on the court. Iguodala was assigned the toughest assignment: LeBron James.

Coming into game 4, LeBron James torched the Warriors’ defense for outbursts of 44, 39, and 40 points. Then Iggy happened. While LeBron James still scored a lot, except in game 4, he was inefficient with the ball.

While LeBron James needed to be a bit of a ball hog due to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving’s injuries, he was greatly impaired by Iguodala’s suffocating defense, which limited James to 33 per cent shooting, according to ESPN.com. To put it in perspective, the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard “held” James to 58 per cent shooting in the 2014 NBA Finals.

The stats go a step further and show the eye-popping difference between contested and uncontested shots when Iguodala guarded James. Of the 54 shots LeBron James managed to shot while guarded by Iggy, a mere eight were uncontested. James scored on 88 per cent of uncontested shots, as oppose to 24 per cent on contested shots.

What is even more staggering about Iggy’s defense is that none of his teammates came close to replicate what he did in that three game stretch. While he held James to 24 per cent shooting on contested shots, LeBron James shot 41 per cent from the field when anyone else on the Warriors contested his shots.

Iggy’s defense is even more impressive when you consider where James was taking shots. On average, when Iggy contested James’ shots, James was around 11 feet away from the basket, where as on uncontested shots, James was 16.5 feet away from the basket. Iguodala managed to force James outside, a feat that (very) few players have been able to accomplish.

But, skeptics said that while Iggy’s defense was great it was only three games. Some added that he took the world by surprise. So, in this Finals rematch, Head Coach Steve Kerr gave Iggy the same assignment, LeBron James.

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The 2016 NBA Finals began and LeBron James saw a familiar face run his way to guard him, and it was on.

Through four games into these NBA Finals, Iguodala held LeBron James to 43.3 per cent from the field, according to the New York Times. But, when Iggy was off, James connected on 66.7 per cent of his shots.

Iguodala’s presence on the court is more than just defense, it is the importance he has to the success of the Warriors. Again, through the first four games of these NBA Finals, the Cavaliers had outscored Golden State by an average of 7.8 points with Iggy on the bench. However, when Iggy was on the court, Golden State outscored Cleveland by 12 points per game.

An article on ESPN shows that through the first two games of the NBA Finals, the Warriors outscored the Cavaliers by 41 points with Iguodala on the court, while Cleveland outscored Golden State by 12 with him on the bench.

However, since game 4, there has been a game 5 and 6, in which Cleveland has outclassed Golden State. Two games where LeBron James recorded back-to-back 40+ points game, joining Jerry West, Rick Barry, Michael Jordan, and Shaquille O’Neal as the only players to accomplish the feat in NBA history.

Except for the two lopsided blowout losses in games 1 and 2, James’ shooting percentage has not changed much. Since game 3, it has been in the fifties (.538, .524, .533, and .593). There was a spike in game 6, which coincided with Iggy hurting his back and looking unable to compete against a healthy LeBron James.

So, in the last few hours prior to the epic conclusion of the weirdest series in sports history, the troublesome question facing the Golden State Warriors is: can a 12-year veteran who has started only one game in the past two seasons come back from a back injury to stop The King?

If that were to happen, would Iguodala win back-to-back Finals MVP?

NBA

Is Isaiah Thomas IT For The Lakers?

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Usa Today 10601289.0
IT Came On A Hollywood Night

It’s All-Star break this weekend in Los Angeles, but the Lakers already have a new one since the trade deadline to lead their young core in the heart of the city. Even if Team LeBron didn’t pick him for Sundays pick up.

But how long will IT last?

Right now in the NBA the amount of movers is really putting the shakers on teams. So much so that in regards to loyalty in this league it’s even colder than the Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea right now. But then again it is the Winter after all. Recently Cleveland cleaned house and LeBron’s land for some Cavalier moves. Jettisoning several All-Star points for their changing of the guard. Including former MVP Derrick Rose, ‘Bron brodie Dwyane Wade back to the Heat of Miami, South Beach and even the guy they traded Kyrie for.

Yep that’s right after summer swapping Irving for Isaiah, the Cavs sent Thomas along with versatile big-man vet Channing Frye to Lakerland. In return they got the buckets of ‘Sixth Man’ sure thing Jordan Clarkson and another Akron hometown hero in the form of Larry Nance Jr.

And although the Lakers picked-up a certified All-Star with Iverson kill at will, little man syndrome scoring a lot of fans where left tweeting negative emojis and gifs following the deadline deal. And not because their new number seven seal was a former Boston Celtic great only a season ago. Or that the former tooth chipper is now a befallen superstar by way of injury. More that the Lake Show loved the young Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, Randle and Zubac core that has lost it’s first big time players of the future since the de-loading trade of D’Angelo Russell last summer.

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Clarkson was a class act and there from the luck of the late round steal start. Whereas when Nance Jr. ran the floor like his pops all the bleachers snapped shut, tilted up. Lakerland finally thought they would see their own slamming son represent them in the Slam Dunk Contest he should surely win now like father, like dunk today. But now he’ll be doing it all for one and one for all.

But with the fast tracked pace of the Lakers new speedy dynamite dynamo it could still be Showtime again for Magic’s men like when Earvin Johnson was kissing another Isiah Thomas hello in the golden era 80’s. But this Isaiah Thomas-so long as he can ball in the same backcourt as Ball once injury time gives way to the Lavar…excuse me the Lonzo Angeles Lakers-could attract even more free agents like the expected homecoming of Paul George from the Thunder to the purple reign this offseason. Even if rumour has a Black Panther/Killmonger like relationship between this point prince and the King of the Ohio land.

But if it’s between LeBron as a Laker or another one of James’ sidekicks than who do you think will hold the headlines for tomorrows Los Angeles Times? Especially as Isaiah could aim higher than coming off the bench this summer as a free agent without restriction himself. His big contract coming off the books with Channing’s (Frye not Hollywood’s Tatum), another big three big in Brook Lopez and another former All-Star in Luol Deng (yep…he’s still here).

All these multiples of millions would surely make for a kings ransom.

This could be it, so lets enjoy I.T. whilst he lasts.

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Nuggets Jamal Murray breaks Steven Adams Ankles with Filthy Handles

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Nuggets Jamal Murray Breaks Steven Adams Ankles Filthy Handles

Denver Nuggets Guard Jamal Murray breaks OKC Thunder center Steven Adams ankles with his filthy and deadly combination of handles and three-point shooting. Murray was sensational finishing with 33 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds in a thrilling 127-124 victory. The Canadian guard (Kitchener, ON) is having the best year of his NBA career and has arguably become best Canadian basketball player in the NBA. The 6’4″, 207 lbs guard is flourishing under Head  Coach Mike Malone’s system and is averaging a respectable 16 points per game, 3.6 rebounds and 3 assists per game through 50 regular season games including a career-high 38-point outburst against the Portland Trail Blazers.

BTW. I can watch this all day!

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Like Father, Like Glove…Gary Payton II Makes Family Franchise History

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Like Father, Like Glove…Gary Payton II Makes Family Franchise History
The Gloves Are On For The Lakers.

From L.A. to South Bay the storied Lakers franchise has growing family ties rooted in their ever evolving modern history.

There’s the Walton. Son of Bill, former player and now coach Luuuuke. The Slam Dunk king he runs lay-up line plays for Larry Nance Jr. like his 80’s dunk champ dad. And even former player and D-League, South Bay coach Coby Karl, son of the legendary George Karl.

And then there’s the Glove story.

All trash talking, stop you from scoring, Seattle Supersonics NBA legend Gary Payton joined the Lakers with fellow golden era 90’s great post mailman, Karl Malone to try to get one more ring at the end of the Shaq and Kobe era. Payton ended up getting one with Shaq in the talented South Beach pool of Miami before the G retired. But now the gloves son and fellow Beaver, Gary Payton II (there’s a Tim Hardaway Jr. trend for NBA legend fathers to name their sons after themselves) is putting on the gold for the future of this franchises youth revolution.

After starting his unbelievably undrafted career with the young Milwaukee Bucks led by the alphabet Giannis Antetokounmpo, it wasn’t all A-B-C. But now he’s looking to put up numbers with the purple Lake Show off alphabet street like 1-2-3. Now number 23 (three more than his dad…but that isn’t the reason that number should p### the retire No. 20 off) is looking at a fresh start with Luke and Lonzo’s (not to mention Lavar’s) Lakers like no other.

The two-way guard has signed a two-way contract with both the Los Angeles Lakers and their NBDL team the South Bay Lakers (now more official than their former Los Angeles D-Fenders affiliate name, even if not in city). So now G.P. II will play for both Coach Walton and Coach Karl. How’s that for some family ties!?

Young Gary Payton the second had some impressive debuts off the bench for L.A. But now Payton mark II is assigned to South Bay like fellow two-way dunking Alex Caruso (he really does have a detective grade surname and a game that does not go with his frame) he’s ready to ball. Messing around in his debut and getting a triple double of 14, 11 and 12.

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Payton II could be a big part of the Lakers youth movement too like many of his current teammates going from South Bay to L.A. like Hollywood fans and script-writers can only hope LeBron will decide to this free agent offseason like he did South Beach all those last summers ago. Just like another rookie with a familiar surname in Thomas Bryant (no…Kobe isn’t THAT old) and of course Zupac.

Lead by the Ball family, the even better rookie and in no way number two Kyle Kuzma (who even goes one better in the Twitter troll back and forth with Ball brother LiMelo. “Fire your stylist”?! Oh yeah? “Fire your dentist”! Damn…can we smell a Shaq and Kobe beef cooking?!), three times a great rookie selection in the defensive Hart, big Brandon Ingram, of course Nance junior and the original future Julius Randle and his late round draft genius Jordan Clarkson (who’s not only balling like he’s the Sixth Man of the Year but like he should start too) this young Showtime, purp Laker legacy are making their own, unique legend in Mamba moment black.

This season it looked like the chance for an outside eight seed was thinner than the backlight on a retro Casio, but now the future is brighter than the South Bay sun from downtown L.A.

And with the Payton patent making Lakers history by becoming the first father and son duo to suit up for the franchise, it might just take a glove to hold this young core together.

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