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.
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 offence. 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.
Jared Dudley Is The Lakers Unsung Hero
There’s a hero that could save us in Hollywood right now.
And I ain’t talking about The King.
Or the Brow to ‘Bron in A.D. and his best since Shaq and Kobe dynamic duo combining for 70 like one off Elgin Baylor’s career high.
I ain’t talking about Kuz. Canada’s champ Danny Green from downtown purple and gold. Or the redemption reunion of Superman returns Dwight Howard in the hash-tag “Washed King’s” revenge season.
I ain’t even talking about the bald identity of my hero the Alex Caruso show this time.
I’m talking about Jared Dudley people.
Yeah I said it!
Not the same Jared that got replaced by Joaquin as The Joker. Not the same Dudley that got nut checked by Shaquille O’Neal on the Knicks before lamely quarterback pitch throwing the ball after him on the inbound technical (we didn’t think centers apart from Shaq could pass like that). Or the same J.D. that like going with Coke welcomed us to Atlanta with Ludacris. But just Jared.
You may think the former Brooklyn boy fan favourite owns the last roster spot that should have gone to a blazing Carmelo. Or still a free agent Jamal Crawford (even a J.R. Smith?!). A spot reserved for Andre Igudola once he gets out of contract hell. Or even a South Bay call-up for legendary names in young Lakers like Antetokounmpo, Stockton and Payton II. And let’s not forget the one Ingram they didn’t trade in the Grey Mamba ‘dre.
And with that headband over his shaved dome you may think the guy who Balenciaga bigger than Basketball looks the part in the players only catwalk runway to the stadium for his fashion fit drip looks like he’ll definitely be in ‘Bron’s ‘Space Jam’ sequel too. That’s all for your insults folks (“baldy?!”). But with that number ten to go with the head check he kind of looks like a less ripped version of a former King that used to kill the Lakers…and that’s no insult to J.D. Have you see Mike Bibby these days? He really is a unit.
But to me he looks like one of those bench energy guys who lifts the whole team in the mould of a Rony Turiaf or ‘Mad Dog’ Mark Madsen. Even if his time on the pine is more than on the hardwood. He still has his Laker legend like that photoshopped number 10 next to James and Davis for the new big three, tongue in cheek.
And speaking of that number ten you just may see that jersey in the seats of STAPLES almost as much as the King’s 23. Why you ask. Are fans waiting until A.D. adds a King’s 2 to his 3 as LeBron carries the 6? Was there a sale? An in-game giveaway like that Shaq City Edition being on everyones seats pregame for its debut in L.A.?
It’s because Dudley has literally been gifting his number ten signature to almost everyone (hello!) whose asked this season on Twitter and it isn’t even Christmas yet. What a statement. And if you thought that was a grand gesture then half of these people in the stands in tens are there because Jared has personally left comp tickets waiting for them for games at will call (the other half probably just in thanks). Not just at STAPLES…but on the road too. Now how’s that for player power? Reaching out to fans in precarious positions, with problems when it comes to getting to games, or even those whose lifelong dream was just to see Hollywood’s Lakers live and in living colour one time.
He’s done it countless. More times than the 23 and 2 team to start their best season since the year 2000 have won.
Now how about that? You love to see it. Right now no one does more for the fans than the people’s champ Jared Dudley.
When he gets his ring it won’t be from riding coattails, but giving his all, everything.
And let’s not forget the heart and hustle he puts down on the floor every night his box score doesn’t read DNP-CD for a second, or minute of time. He’s got a decent shot on him too. Even if it looks more awkward than me on dates…it works.
Let’s see more from Dudley.
The Lake Show are the Hollywood story of the season. But we all know when it comes to the script from the Basketball God’s you need your character actors as much as the academy of award winners. And if Jared Dudley really is the Lakers unsung hero in L.A. like Denis Irwin was for Manchester United (know your history) it’s time to hit the high notes and shoot our shot like he does his.
Now is this enough for me to get a jersey Jared?
DO Call It A Carmelo Comeback. Anthony Is Guaranteed For Years
Three fingers like “what’s your poison” and shots to the dome like LL Cool J’s comeback. I’m calling it…
La La said knock you out.
They say there are no guarantees in this life, or league. But now after almost crossing off an entire calender, Carmelo Anthony has one in this league of X and O’s.
You best believe every team that slept on him has woke up now.
O.K. Thunder? Like old New York. No ‘Melo in Lakers yellow, or Houston’s problem.
And let’s not talk about that ATL jersey Atlanta tried to hawk.
The Nugget type of fellow that Nelly rapped about like ‘Na-Nana-Na’, with the heart of a champion sweat until he was no longer in a suit and part of the Sportscenter theme again. After waiting longer to align with The King in Hollywood for this Game Of Thrones than another Anthony (Davis), Carmelo ended up coming up roses in the RIP City of Portland. And boy has he blazed a trail. Voltron forming arguably a big three with the best backcourt in the league not in this nation’s capital with C.J. McCollum and Dame ‘Time’ Lillard with the look like the OK3 of Russell Westbrook and PG3 and not the Beard and the Brow.
And now he’s exceeded everyone’s greatest expectations. As one of the G.O.A.T.’s has polished his path to the Hall with a comeback even better than the return of Superman Dwight Howard with the Lakers…which could have had a Hollywood sequel with Carmelo’s comeback.
But the Lakers loss is the PDX’s blazing gain.
What more would you expect from a guy who still put up competent averages in the soaring Rockets cosmos, despite being grounded by little court acclaim? The problems in Houston could have actually been attributed to another guy who ended up ousted and in an Oklahoma home too. Despite the trolls who are now trading in hot takes like they never simulated 2K videos of him building a Commodore house with his shot selection. Or the analysts who are changing their discussion like a report rewrite.
Carmelo ain’t calming down. Anthony is taking everyone back to school.
Class has been in session.
And how about the report card? Eight games. 16.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Big shots. Western Conference Player of the Week. All Star legend spot? He belongs like the Carushow in the Slam Dunk Contest. He’s unstoppable like LeBron James’ Eurostep, spin-cycle lay-up that is like a runaway freight…word to Denzel Washington. Or his Kareem sky-hook. Tokyo 2020 Team USA bid for the best in five rings Olympic legend in his golden age? Big shots from the double 0 like seven. From nothing twice?! This is no time to die Mr. Bond.
He’s gone toe-to-shot with the MVP. Showed he was more than a most imported or Sixth Man, but still a star. More than the name, but the actual game. And now he’s guaranteed to be around for a while longer like he never left, but is here to stay. As the Blazers changed the trail on the end of the signature of his contract before the ink even dried for this guy’s with the wet jumper like staying outside in the snow with your ugly NBA sweater this Christmas.
This tax is more than a luxury. It’s about to cap off a classic career with one compelling closing chapter.
Even when he bit career highs at the core of his career in the Big Apple, the ever humble hero Carmelo was a walking and dribbling, “I just take it one game (or day) at a time” postgame soundbite like he has been in his comeback off court to on it. Well now the Blazers can guarantee him 365…or at least 82 or however far he takes them.
From the headband to the hoodie, stay ‘Melo. Anthony is here to stay.
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