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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.

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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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