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Can anyone dethrone Cleveland in the East?

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Since LeBron James’ return to his native area in northeastern Ohio, the Cleveland Cavaliers have ruled the Eastern Conference, which culminated in hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy as NBA champs last year.

This summer, thus far, the Cavaliers haven’t suffered major losses, despite the hectic offseason. So, is there any team in the Eastern Conference capable of dethroning the Cavs, or will they, once again, be playing basketball in June?

There is not one major threat, but there are a few teams capable of giving the Cavs a run for their money. The only teams capable of eliminating the Cavaliers are the Raptors, Bulls, and Hawks.

Raptors: The Raptors have proven to be one of the better teams in the NBA over the last three seasons, each time besting their record, and a year ago establishing a franchise record 56 wins. Jurassic Park gives the Raptors one of the best home court advantages in the NBA, just ask the Cavs about games 3 and 4. Gregg Doyel, a columnist for the Indianapolis Star described Raptor fans as, “Those basketball fans in Toronto, they’re not normal. They are NFL fans with an NBA team. They travel. They drink. They scream.” Back to the court, Toronto has the best backcourt east of the Bay area. The only negative thing left to say about the Kyle Lowry-DeMar DeRozan tandem is that they need to step it up a notch in the playoffs. The Raptors are also equipped to slow down LeBron James with Patrick Paterson, DeMarre Carroll, and a defensive wizard in head coach Dwayne Casey. Lowry and DeRozan can neutralize the Cavs backcourt, and turn the game into an ugly, low-scoring affair.

Bulls: Chicago has handled a chaotic situation as cleanly as a team could have possibly handled it, and on top of that they got better than they were a year ago. The Bulls traded former MVP point guard Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday, and a 2017 second-round pick to the New York Knicks for center Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, and Jose Calderon. Then, they traded for former All-Star point guard, Rajon Rondo, and added future Hall of Famer Dwayne Wade. Rondo will help ignite a stall offense that has been heavily criticized over the past few years, because he brings an uncanny ability to pass that Rose, or anyone else on the Bulls, can match. Wade will bring leadership, big game experience, and a killer instinct. Jimmy Butler, the young shooting guard, will have to take the next step, and assume the position as the team’s best player and lead them back to the playoffs. With veterans like Wade and Rondo, who have combined for four championships, and seven trips to the NBA Finals, this team is primed to get back to the dance. Rookie Denzel Valentine has shown a lot during the Summer League, and will look to contribute on both ends of the floor.

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Hawks: The Hawks have lost their last 11 meetings against the Cavaliers. While some of them were competitive, some of them were blowouts, but the Hawks have a puncher’s chance if Dwight Howard can get reasonably healthy. If Howard gets back to his early-days in Houston form, or his Orlando form, then Atlanta would have a chance because he would force Cleveland to re-think their shot selection, and would deny anybody any access to the basket. He is also a formidable rebounder, which would limit the Cavs’ second shots, and improve the Hawks breakaway offense. Atlanta could play a similar brand of basketball to how Orlando used to play with four shooters on the outside, and Howard patrolling the paint.

NBA

La La Lakerland Played Host To A City Of All-Stars At The Weekend

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Verizon Slam Dunk Contest 2018
Like Father, Like Slam,

Los Angeles, it doesn’t get much more Hollywood than this. Even if Beyonce, Queen Latifah, Chris Tucker and even the other Michael (B) Jordan were taking in all the lights, camera action court-side.

After the 2017 Mardi Gras in New Orleans last year and two calendar’s after our native Toronto held the All Star Weekend in Canada, the sixth A.S.G. in the Clipper and Lakerland of the downtown STAPLES of L.A. was the first of it’s kind. As two of the best players in the association and reigning finalists decided to draft their own pool of players against the wall for the ultimate black and white pick-up game between ‘Team Stephen’ and ‘Team LeBron’, for all the marbles of which of the last two champions would be King.

Well it certainly helps if James picks his rivals reigning MVP teammate Kevin Durant and his own former partner in pine championship crime Kyrie Irving for the big shots first.

But before all that it was down to regular festivities to begin the weekend of All-Star. Basketball’s equivalent of music’s Grammy’s or movies Oscars in Superbowl February. Opening these ceremonials Team World beat down Team USA 155-124 in the Rising Stars game that should really tell you something. Despite home court advantage rookie steal, Kyle Kuzma notching 20, fellow Californian franchise face Buddy Hield was king as the Sacramento star hit 29 as the two sides wore Clipper and Laker interloped Buffalo and MPLS throwbacks for the Hollywood script. And after Quavo of hit duo Migos took home the Celebrity Game MVP as Team Clippers beat Team Lakers 79-66, Spencer Dinwiddie paid the bills in a superior skills comp. Before scorching Sun in California Devin Booker showed his career high 70 was no one-hit wonder as he burnt down all the nets and the money-ball rack. Winning the three-point contest showdown from reigning winner and sixth man Eric Gordon. Grounding the Rocket as this Phoenix rose. Book it!

But after the most therapeutic competition of All-Star weekend it was time for the most exciting one just as compelling. And in honoring his father Larry Nance, the 1984 winner of the inaugural Slam-Dunk contest, Larry Nance Jr. rocked the baby cradle, like father, like dunk. As he even rocked the old-school Phoenix Suns jersey, short shorts and high-socks for an inspired imitation. But under the magicians cloak, those Los Angeles natives in attendance draped in gold wish he had turned into someone turning back the clock and wearing a Lakers jersey (those Lonzo assists with the ball would have helped). As what would have been a long awaited, eagerly anticipated home-team representation turned into an Akron homecoming for the Ohio hometown hero like LeBron in the Kings land once the trade deadline passed.

Pops Nance loved it though after he himself played the lions share of his career in Cleveland as a Cavalier. Even assisting his boy on his second slam, before he blew the house down with a windmill that even rocked Chris Rock and then double tapped an Instagram worthy picture perfect dunk that if your phone blinked, you’d have had to instant replay it to not miss it and believe it. But all this court creativity wasn’t enough like Maverick rookie Dennis Smith Jr.’s 360 reverse, through the legs 50. Or All-Star Victor Oladipo getting an assist off King T’Challa himself Chadwick Boseman, suiting up in the Black Panther mask and clawing a tomahawk. And if you think that was special, if only you were a fly on the wall for the moment entertainment megastar Jamie Foxx told Vic he loved his album and started singing ‘A Song For You’ with him in the parking lot (as told by Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins). As Utah’s jazz man Donovan Mitchell won by jumping over Kevin Hart and his family (Come on! How hard is that? The comedian was even crouched down. Seriously?! He could have even been sat on his shoulders and Mitch would have been good), and then breaking out the classic Vince Carter Raptor jersey and doing you know what.

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The whole weekend turned out to be a testament to a throwback tribute despite Nike’s brand new Team LeBron and Steph duds. Last years All-Star representative, Pelican Anthony Davis paying tribute to his injury fallen teammate brother Cousins by wearing what would have been his numero zero jersey. Free agent suitors beware, DeMarcus is going nowhere now this summer after this. You see he saw on I.G. but look at the shot. How s### was his seat for a would be player?

But after Black Eyed Pea Fergie caught flack for her soulful and sultry rendition of the Star Spangled Banner national anthem (hey, you didn’t complain when Marvin did it) the game hit all the high-flying, dunking high-notes. So much so fans needed throat lozenges like Pink! Even if there wasn’t a single Clipper or Laker representative in the game itself. Despite the lobbying for 6 Man, Lou Will and new Laker Isaiah Thomas only recently being LeBron’s actual teammate.

The King took the MVP crown himself as his 29 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists helped turn a 15 point hole into a 148-145 victory. And from the look on his face as he leapt into Kevin Durant’s arms of all people, it looked like he just won the NBA Championship back. And from the look on Steph’s face on the receiving end reply it was hard to disagree.

You may be the champion, but I’m the best in the world those eyes said.

Well it’s up to you to decide when round 2 of the All Star draft is televised next year for all to see in M.J.’s land of the greatest.

Charlotte’s going to be good!

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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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