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BLOGTABLE: Who looks like a first-time All-Star?

NBA.com blogtable _________ is putting together a solid case to earn his first NBA All-Star selection this season. * * * David Aldridge: Tobias Harris. He's having a great year in Detroit -- 19 points, 5 boards a game, and shooting 46 percent on 3s for a winning team. He's put up numbers in big games, too: 31 at Boston last week, 34 against Andrew Wiggins and the Wolves, 27 at Philly. LeBron, Giannis, Porzingis, Embiid and Love are likely frontcourt locks in the East, and I won't be surprised if the coaches take one of Al Horford or Jayson Tatum from Boston. And Aaron Gordon will have supporters, too. So Harris is certainly not a gimme. The Pistons will have to keep winning to keep his candidacy alive. Steve Aschburner: There are so many possibilities, from Kristaps Porzingis and Devin Booker to Bradley Beal and Victor Oladipo. But since the All-Star Game is neither the first nor the second of back-to-back games, I’ll go with Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, whose talent and production should earn him a spot and whose personality and entertainment value are perfect for the star-spangled Weekend. Shaun Powell: I so, so badly wanted to answer "Mike Conley" who might be the best veteran without a trip to the Game, but injuries happened. Therefore, you can toss in a handful of the young candidates: Joel Embiid, Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis. Let's go with Embiid because All-Star Weekend needs his presence and personality. Ask me this question in a month and maybe the answer is Tobias Harris, because the Pistons are winning and he's breaking out. John Schuhmann: Joel Embiid is a lock. His boxscore numbers (23.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks) are fantastic. The Sixers are a playoff team and have been much better, both offensively and defensively, with him on the floor than they've been with him on the bench. And this year, we don't have to scrutinize how much he's been playing. He's averaging 30 minutes per contest and has missed only three of the Sixers' 23 games. Sekou Smith: Devin Booker is putting together a spectacular case, even though it'll be virtually impossible for him to get his due in a Western Conference stacked with outstanding backcourt players. The Suns have struggled in ways that don't suggest anyone on that roster could squeeze into the All-Star mix. But Booker's play this season has been more than just an occasional blip on the jaw-dropper radar (see his demolition of the Philadelphia 76ers for video evidence). He's a next-level scorer and a better overall player than he gets credit for being. If the Suns were in the playoff mix, he'd be locked into that All-Star debate heading into the new year......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnDec 7th, 2017

BLOGTABLE: What s to blame for struggling Steph Curry?

NBA.com blogtable Are Stephen Curry’s shooting woes so far against the Houston Rockets just an anomaly, or a sign that something’s not right? * * * Steve Aschburner: I think Curry’s shooting woes are a sign that the Rockets know they’d better try to take away something from Golden State’s attack and Curry is the best available option. It’s not like Houston has anyone who can guard Kevin Durant, so Curry – in size, in style, in significance – is a wise No. 2 target. Curry and Steve Kerr say the two-time MVP’s once-ailing knee no longer is an issue, so we’ll take them at their word and credit the Rockets’ defensive attention, while making him guard too. So I don’t consider it an anomaly – but I don’t consider it something that will be sustained for whatever’s left of this series, either. Shaun Powell: I'm going with anomaly because I just don't see any physical red flags (limp, wince, hands pulling on shorts, etc) that would lead us to believe that he's playing in pain. The guy is going to the rim rather strong. Maybe he's not fully 100 percent but who is this time of year? Understand that Curry's had some below-average performance in the playoffs before so this hiccup is probably along those lines. He'll likely recapture his three-point mojo at some point. And if he doesn't, well, Steve Kerr said the Warriors were good enough to win without Steph anyway. We'll keep Steve at his word. John Schuhmann: Nothing looks off when you watch all 13 of his 3-point attempts in this round, and he has looked good in getting to the basket when the Rockets have overplayed him on the perimeter. So "anomaly" seems like the more appropriate answer, but we can't really know because we're not in his body and have no idea how good his legs feel. Games 3 and 4 will offer more evidence either way. Sekou Smith: He's not shooting it on the galactic level he and his observers are used to. But in his defense, he's only had six games to regain his groove. It would be foolish to ignore that when considering his current shooting struggles. Steph's biggest problem right now is he's rusty. All of the time he missed after the All-Star break hasn't allowed him to sharpen his game into playoff form. He's off his mark because he has seen so little game action the past two months. The Houston Rockets know it and are doing their best to take advantage by putting Curry in compromising positions whenever they can. I don't like the idea of blaming his struggles on anything physical when he and coach Steve Kerr keep refuting those kinds of suggestions. In fact, I appreciate both of them for admitting that Curry is just struggling right now and must fight his way out of his funk......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: 2018 pre-playoffs predictions

NBA.ph blogtable 1) Which first-round series in the West is most likely to see an upset result (lower seed beating higher seed)? Enzo Flojo: For sure it’s Portland-New Orleans. I love Damian Lillard’s game, but the Pels are a really tough bunch with a lot of weapons, even sans Boogie Cousins. Jusuf Nurkic will have a really tough time containing AD; that’s one reason this has a high potential for an upset! Migs Bustos: The Jazz and Thunder matchup. It's a tale of upward momentum versus inconsistency. The Jazz have won seven out of their last 10 games, and OKC are 5-5 in their last 10. With how the Jazz are playing great team basketball, led by super rookie, Donovan Mitchell, they have a great chance of upsetting the erratic OKC Thunder. If maganda ang gising ng Utah for four games, may tulog ang OKC sa kanila. Marco Benitez: I think the Thunder-Jazz series is the one where most likely we will see an upset. The Thunder experiment of Westbrook-George-Anthony has been up and down all season, while the Jazz are a well-coached team anchored on a great defensive presence in Gobert. The Thunder win if Westbrook dominates the game and Adams is able to neutralize Gobert. But if OKC becomes stagnant on offense and their usual selves defensively, then the Jazz can wreck havoc on this matchup. Favian Pua: Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans: In order for the Pelicans to stun the Blazers, Anthony Davis must cement his status as the best player on both ends of the floor throughout the series. A Playoff Rondo sighting paired with the feisty defense of Jrue Holiday should stymie the backcourt attack of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Adrian Dy: If it turns out Kawhi Leonard was just saving himself for a postseason run, then the Spurs would absolutely wreck the Stephen Curry-less Golden State Warriors. Barring such a comeback though, I'm riding high on the Pelicans. The Blazers don't have the bigs to even slow down Davis, and the Jrue Holiday + Playoffs Rajon Rondo combo could make things really tough for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum 2) Which first-round series in the East is most likely to see an upset result (lower seed beating higher seed)? Enzo Flojo: Don’t look past the veteran-laden Miami Heat. Philadelphia is by far the deeper team, sure, but if Embiid is hampered by his injury and both D-Wade and Goran Dragic have their way, Miami can push the Sixers to the distance and an upset may not be that surprising. Also, coach Spo shines in 7-game series! Migs Bustos: In the East, it's a bit more challenging. We all know about the success of the Sixers this season; no matter what seed Lebron's team is, it will be hard to upset them; the Raptors have been long consistent at the number 1 spot all season. So, the best bet would be the Bucks overthrowing home court advantage. And this is because Kyrie is out of the season. It's just up to Giannis and Co. to take advantage of that disadvantage by the Celtics to pull through. Marco Benitez: The plague of injuries to the Boston Celtics really hurt their chances of contending in the East, much less win a championship this season. Without Kyrie, Marcus Smart, and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics are vulnerable against the Greek Freak-led Bucks, who are long and talented. With that being said, Boston is still an extremely well-coached, albeit young team, and Giannis will have to be the best player on the floor for most of the series for the inconsistent Bucks to pull off the upset. Favian Pua: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat: Though the Sixers are rolling into the playoffs, only J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli can boast of a legitimate postseason resume. Led by All-Star Goran Dragic, the Heat are an unrelenting unit of two-way veterans who can both muck it up inside and bait opponents into a long-range shootout. Joel Embiid’s uncertain status will force Sixers head coach Brett Brown to find a counter for Hassan Whiteside. Adrian Dy: Though I have the 76ers advancing, it wouldn't surprise me if the Heat shut down Ben Simmons and shut up Joel Embiid. Erik Spoelstra has a knack for getting the best out of his squads, Dwyane Wade could have some clutch moments, and if the aforementioned Embiid doesn't return as soon as expected, South Beach could be singing after round one. 3) Which team that missed the playoffs has the best shot at making it next season? Enzo Flojo: I’d love to say Denver, but their being in the West really makes their window tight. That’s why I’m picking the Detroit Pistons, who have enough talent to make quite a big impact in the East, especially if their big names (e.g. Drummond, Griffin, Jackson) all stay put and stay healthy! Migs Bustos: To be honest, there are not much compelling story lines on teams that barely missed the playoffs this year. There's nothing like one of the most recent examples -- the Heat's 2016-2017 season where they made a late season run but just missed it at .500 (41-41), or how about Phoenix having a winning record at 48-34 in the 2013-2014 season missing out? The 16 teams were more or less 'predicted' to make the postseason this year so there wasn't a big surprise. Marco Benitez: I think a healthy Memphis Grizzlies team, with Conley, Gasol, Parsons and Tyreke Evans (assuming all are still with the Grizzlies next season) will be a lock to make the playoffs after a disappointing 22-60 win-loss record this season that saw a season-ending surgery for Conley happen in late January. Favian Pua: The Denver Nuggets. Nikola Jokic and his ragtag bunch of scorers were an overtime loss away against the Minnesota Timberwolves from getting their first taste of the postseason. To do so, the Nuggets will need to handle their business and take care of bottom-feeders, as it was backbreaking losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks in March that prevented them from securing an outright playoff berth. Adrian Dy: The Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki will likely want to go out with a bang, Rick Carlisle is still a really good coach, Dennis Smith Jr. is a fantastic attacking guard, and if the lotto balls bounce the right way, they could return to the upper echelon of the West. 4) Which team that made these playoffs has the biggest chance of missing it next season? Enzo Flojo: It may sound crazy, but the Spurs are at great risk for next season. Kawhi continues to be a huge question mark and their veterans will get even older in 2018-2019. They nearly didn’t make it this year, and next year could be the tipping point! Migs Bustos: I'd have to go with the San Antonio Spurs. No doubt all of the other teams are on the up-swing, and they all boast of youth. If Kahwi does not play for the Spurs next season, expect younger teams with great potential like the Nuggets and Lakers to overtake SAS. Marco Benitez: Depending on what happens in terms of offseason trades, and assuming that the rest of the Western Conference regains full strength next season, the two teams I feel have the biggest chance of missing the playoffs next season are Miami and New Orleans. For Miami, DWade is not getting any younger, and Hassan Whiteside has not been at a consistent All-Star level all season. With Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond getting a full year under their belt in Detroit and Kristaps Porzingis back at full strength in New York, I see Miami as the most likely team to get bumped off in the East next season. For New Orleans, the Davis-Cousins experiment did not necessarily turn them into a legitimate playoff contender in the West, and when Cousins fell to injury, they've had to rely on AD to carry them almost entirely on his shoulders. With the ultra competitive West getting healthier next season, unless the Pels are able to get better on the wings -- assuming of course Cousins doesn't bolt in the offseason -- they may find themselves out of the playoffs. Favian Pua: Cleveland Cavaliers. Hinging on the premise that LeBron James bolts for the Sixers or Los Angeles Lakers in free agency this offseason, the Cavaliers are headed for a massive nosedive towards the number one pick in the 2019 draft. No other team has more to lose than the Cavaliers this postseason, and it is highly probable that winning the title is the only way The King stays in The Land. Adrian Dy: If we get another round of LeBron James free agency sweepstakes, and he winds up getting the Banana Boat Gang together in Houston, it's hard to see the Cleveland Cavaliers being competitive, let alone back in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Should that happen, I'd expect them to trade guys like Kevin Love, and hope that lotto luck favors them anew. 5) Which team is your early favorite to win it all? Enzo Flojo: Despite all the injuries and all their inconsistencies, the Warriors are still my odds-on fave to win it all. They have four big time playoff performers, and they know this is where their real season begins. Migs Bustos: Don't count out the Warriors. Even though they have been plagued with injuries towards the end of the season, the Dubs will hope that they will be healthy in time and turn 'on' the button with their championship experience Marco Benitez: Still the Warriors. Although they'll be without Steph in the first round, I foresee the same dominant Dubs starting the second round all the way to the Finals. The regular season has been a bit of a drag for them this season, and I believe that's why we haven't seen the same Warriors squad as that of past years. But come playoffs, there's no reason why the defending champs don't get locked in; and when they do, frankly, there's still no better team in the league than Golden State. Favian Pua: The Houston Rockets. The playoffs is all about trimming the fat in the roster and letting star power take over in the biggest moments. In James Harden and Chris Paul, the Rockets will always have at least one elite shot creator and facilitator on the court for all 48 minutes. Flanked by capable three-point shooters and wing defenders acquired specifically to neutralize the Golden State Warriors’ juggernaut, Clutch City is on track for its first Larry O’Brien trophy since 1995. Adrian Dy: Yes the defending champions are banged-up and looked uninterested as the regular season wound down, but now that it's winning time, I expect the Warriors to do their thing, although there's no way it'll be as smooth as their 16-1 romp last season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: Who leads the Coach of the Year race?

NBA.com blogtable Who are your top three candidates for NBA Coach of the Year? * * * Steve Aschburner: Toronto’s Dwane Casey, Boston’s Brad Stevens and Indiana’s Nate McMillan, possibly in that order. Casey has helped to reinvent the Raptors after another disappointing playoff exit last spring and a summer in which his boss Masai Ujiri issued a somewhat ominous call for a “change in culture.” Now Toronto has its best shot ever at The Finals. Stevens and his Celtics could have had their season yanked from under them in Game 1 when Gordon Hayward went down. Instead, Boston dominated early, turned massive personnel changes into all positives and still looms as a top East contender. And let’s be honest, most folks expected the Pacers to whimper into lotteryland after the Paul George trade. Instead, this has been a bright, happy season in Indiana, with Victor Oladipo as a top Kia Most Improved Player candidate and a record better than George’s OKC team. Tas Melas: 1. Dwane Casey. 2. Nate McMillan. 3. Brett Brown. Casey got multiple-time All-Stars to buy in to a new style of play. I thought it was unthinkable. That’s real coaching right there, and the bench’s success just puts it over the top. McMillan’s team has surprised and he probably receives the least recognition of any playoff coach, so let’s give him some here. Brown deserves a heck of a lot more than this acknowledgment for coming to work every day with a smile over the last few seasons. He has been a model of consistency in a consistently painful environment. Shaun Powell: My choice by a large margin is Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors. I love how he has adapted and evolved his system to fit the needs of his players, and how the bench has developed. No. 2 is Nate McMillan of the Indiana Pacers -- I'm surprised his name hasn't come up much in this conversation. He's doing wonders for a team that lost Paul George and in preseason was targeted for last place in the East. No. 3 is Doc Rivers of the LA Clippers. He may not make the playoffs, but the Clippers lost Chris Paul, traded Blake Griffin, dealt with injuries all season ... and they're still in postseason contention. John Schuhmann: 1. Dwane Casey. The Toronto Raptors are the only team that ranks in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They've changed their offense, have actually been more improved on defense, and altered their rotation (no longer keeping either Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan on the floor at all times, even after losing their two most reliable reserves of the last couple of seasons), with terrific results. 2. Brad Stevens. The Boston Celtics have the league's No. 1 defense and its fourth best record, having lost an All-Star to injury in the first six minutes of the season and with four first or second-year players in the rotation. 3. Mike D'Antoni. Daryl Morey obviously did a terrific job in the offseason, but D'Antoni is the architect what's happening on the floor. He was the Coach of the Year last season and the Houston Rockets have been improved on both offense and defense. Sekou Smith: Dwane Casey is my frontrunner for Coach of the Year. It's not often you see a coach with his seasoning and stature scrap what's been working and completely revamp his offense. Casey has always been a defensive mastermind, but to do what he's done on the other side of the floor has been simply tremendous for a team that could very well end up as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. And Masai Ujiri should be at the top of your Executive of the Year list, too. Brad Stevens has worked wonders in Boston for some time now. And he's the second name on my list. Alvin Gentry and Nate McMillan are tied for the third spot, and I'd go with the guy whose team finishes with more wins this season. They're doing excellent work under trying circumstances (you see what you can put together when you lose talent like DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George, respectively)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 8th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: Bigger loss - Cousins or Roberson?

NBA.com blogtable Fast-forward to the postseason. Which absence will weigh more heavily: The Thunder without Andre Roberson, or the Pelicans without DeMarcus Cousins? * * * David Aldridge: Oh, Pels without Boogie, no question. He and Anthony Davis were so good together, and he took so much pressure off of AD by playing center. If New Orleans does finish off the deal for Mirotic, that helps some, but the Pelicans are still diminished greatly without Cousins. Roberson being out impacts OKC defensively, no doubt. His presence allows Russell Westbrook and Paul George to be so much more aggressive defensively and on the weak side. But the Thunder can still win at a high clip without him. New Orleans can’t without Cousins. Steve Aschburner: The Thunder will miss their guy more. I’m basing that on their loftier ambitions and upside, pre-Roberson injury, than the Pelicans had with Cousins. New Orleans has wanted to reach the playoffs and, with their All-Star bigs, mess with top seeds Golden State or Houston in a contrast of styles. But Oklahoma City has wanted to go after the Warriors or Rockets for real and seemed to be coalescing into a group that maybe, perhaps, might have pulled off a spring special. Losing their defensive catalyst hurts mightily, by all the numbers and by any eye test. Now Paul George most notably has to handle a bigger defensive load and there’s not enough manpower there, I fear, to counter the West’s big-gun firepower. Trey Kerby: It’s impossible to say now if the Pelicans would have been able to pull a first-round upset against any of the teams they might face in the playoffs, but New Orleans would have no doubt been a trendy upset pick when postseason prediction time comes. But without Boogie, not so much. He is too important to the Pelicans as a creator (second on the Pelicans in assists per game) and a shooter (leading the Pelicans in 3s made per game) to paper over his loss, not to mention his more standard huge guy contributions as the best big man in the game. Losing your starting center is bad, but it’s even worse when he’s also one of your best perimeter players. Tas Melas: I’m not sure the Pelicans get there so I’ll pick OKC. Paul George now has to guard the other team’s best offensive player and shed the habit of jumping passing lanes for steals. More onus on 'Melo defensively. 'Melo might even play some three if Patrick Patterson gets minutes. Billy Donovan has to settle on a new rotation which will always score, but, added defensive responsibilities will hurt that end, too. Shaun Powell: Well, I'm not convinced the Pelicans will definitely make the postseason without DeMarcus Cousins. But I'll play along: Provided they do, then Andre Roberson's absence will hurt OKC more. That's because, even with Cousins, the Pelicans' playoff run was destined to be a short one, given that they would likely see Golden State or Houston in the first round. Meanwhile, OKC was playing its best ball when Roberson got hurt and looked to rise as high as No. 3 in the standings (and still might). Projection: His absence will cost them in the second round when they'll need defense. John Schuhmann: Can I fast-forward to next week to see if either team makes a trade? It's hard to see the Pels winning a playoff series with or without Cousins. But if the ninth-place Clippers didn't just trade their best player, I might have picked New Orleans to miss the playoffs after the Cousins injury, so in that regard, it weighs heavily. (The Jazz have just beat two of the best teams in the league and have an easier schedule than New Orleans going forward, but it's tough to see Utah making up a five-game deficit.) Given their talent, Oklahoma City remains dangerous, though Roberson's value shouldn't be understated. Not only were their defensive numbers much better with Roberson on the floor, but no offense has depended more on points off turnovers and second chance points more than that of the Thunder, and Roberson's absence affects both of those numbers too. If OKC doesn't replace Roberson at the deadline, it's much tougher to pick them to beat one of the top four teams in the West than it would be if he was healthy. Sekou Smith: In the postseason, provided both teams make it there, the absence of DeMarcus Cousins looms much larger. The Pelicans were so dependent on Cousins and what he brings as a scorer, rebounder and playmaker that his absence could very well cost them a spot in the Western Conference playoff chase. As critical as Roberson is to the Thunder's defensive bottom line, the blow of not having him in a postseason series is offset by a player, in Paul George, who is more than capable of picking up the slack as your main perimeter defender. There is no one on the roster or in the city of New Orleans capable of doing what DeMarcus Cousins did for Alvin Gentry's crew......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 1st, 2018

BLOGTABLE: What are you looking forward to in 2018?

NBA.com blogtable What one thing are you most eager to see in 2018? * * * Steve Aschburner: More competitive playoff series than we got a year ago and, most of all, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers really being pushed to the wall in at least one round each. I think last year’s hunger for The Rubber-Match Finals made us accept without too much grumbling the relative breezes both Golden State and Cleveland had through the April and May portions of the postseason. But seeing some new blood, however unlikely, would be fine, maybe even welcome, this time around. That requires some fine team on either side -- Toronto, Washington, Boston out East, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City to the West -- mustering a serious challenge. And, allowing for an injury or suspension or whatever, maybe pulling off something more notable than that. We can always find context and storylines for The Finals, if we get a bit of freshness dialed in. Shaun Powell: I'm eager to see the playoffs and if someone can come along and disrupt another Golden State Warriors-Cleveland Cavaliers matchup in June. Because nobody is creating much doubt as of yet. The team that's coming the closest is the Houston Rockets but they have three people who have underperformed in the playoffs: Mike D'Antoni, Chris Paul and James Harden. There's always the San Antonio Spurs, yet they seem a star shy. And in the East, the Boston Celtics of 2019 stand a better chance and the rest ... meh. Which means, I'm most eager to see Warriors-Cavs in June. John Schuhmann: I want to see what will happen with the Thunder, both on and off the floor. Can they continue to make progress offensively and if they do, will that encourage Sam Presti to keep the group together through the trade deadline? Or will the threat of Paul George leaving in free agency (and the long odds at beating the Warriors) force Presti to see what he can get for George by Feb. 8? Is it a guarantee that Carmelo Anthony will decline his early termination option this summer and stay under contract for another year? Do other stars want to play with Russell Westbrook? Sekou Smith: As much fun as the trade deadline can be in a given year, I have to admit that the free agent summer has me daydreaming about the chaos that a couple of moves could cause. Of course, LeBron James could turn the basketball world upside down if he were to decide to take his talents elsewhere (I'm not suggesting he should or I even think he will, I'm only thinking about the seismic activity it would cause). What happens with Paul George is also another potential game-changer for several teams around the league. That said, it's the great unknown that most intrigues me about 2018. None of us saw the Kyrie Irving trade request coming or the Chris Paul-to-Houston move coming. Things like the Draft and trade deadline offer a season of speculation that usually centers on name players we know will be involved in the process. It's the moves we don't see coming, the things we cannot forecast, that produce the best drama......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: Assessing aftermath of Paul George trade

NBA.com blogtable As Paul George returns to Indiana tonight for the first time since he was traded by the Pacers, who should be happier with how things have turned out: Pacers fans, or Paul George? * * * David Aldridge: Uh, Pacers fans. This isn't close right now, is it? PG-13 is miserable in OKC, which inexplicably hasn't been able to figure out how to win regularly yet with three All-Stars, each of whom should be considerably motivated to make it work with the other two guys. George may well have the last laugh if he walks to the Lakers next June, as most still suspect will happen. They have a young core that's promising, and he'll be back home. But Indy isn't a laughingstock, as I and most people thought it would be. Victor Oladipo (One DeMatha!) is having an All-Star season, and Domantas Sabonis looks like a 10-year guy at the the four. I was wrong about how bad the Pacers would be. Way wrong. Loud wrong. Stupid wrong. For now. Let's see where we are in March. Steve Aschburner: Paul George should be happier, even in the muck of the Thunder’s season so far. He’s on his way to what he really wants, which is a key role for the Los Angeles Lakers. Once his perfectly legitimate ambition became publicly known, his days as the Pacers’ best player and leader were over. So much so that I wrote at the time, the best move for all considered -- for George, for the Lakers, for the NBA -- would have been for Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to have done a deal in the summer. It’s not healthy for the league to have a star and a team pining away for each other from afar. But Indiana’s Kevin Pritchard pulled the trigger on the trade with OKC and that was OK. More than OK, given the play so far of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. But let’s not forget the fine years of service George gave to the folks in Indianapolis, and his desire to please extended to sometimes being too candid in interviews. It’s just too bad his journey home to California has to be a two-step process. Shaun Powell: The longer I watch the Thunder, I'm not sure what Paul George can be happy about. And of course, Pacers fans are elated with their team in the playoff mix (OK, it's early) and actually looking entertaining some nights. Victor Oladipo has turned out better than expected and has the floor to do what he wants, now that he doesn't answer to Russell Westbrook anymore. We should wait until summer to check the happy-meter of George, who could be moving on to another place in search of joy. John Schuhmann: I won't pretend to know how George feels. Maybe the Thunder's struggles, if they continue, will make it easier for him to choose a new team next summer. But he can't be happy with the results or the lack of chemistry in Oklahoma City. Pacers fans should surely be happy with how things have turned out. The Pacers have been a better team than the Thunder, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis (who were both clearly misused in OKC) have been terrific, there's more stability in Indiana, and there's still room for improvement. Myles Turner isn't yet the player he can be and Glenn Robinson III hasn't played all season. Of the 16 teams in playoff position, the Pacers are the biggest surprise. Sekou Smith: With the way Victor Oladipo is playing, Pacers fans have every reason to feel like happy heading into the Christmas holiday. The trade that looked so lopsided early in the summer looks like a smashing success for Kevin Pritchard and the rest of the franchise braintrust. It's not just Oladipo playing like an All-Star, though that's a huge part of it. It's Domantas Sabonis playing as solid as he has and the splendid chemistry this group has shown in coach Nate McMillan's second season at the helm. The Thunder haven't had an easy time transitioning George and Carmelo Anthony into a cohesive Big Three. But I'd caution Pacers fans to refrain from gloating too much tonight. There is still plenty of time left in this season. Be careful of celebrating prematurely. If the Pacers make the playoffs and Oladipo continues on his current trajectory, there will be plenty of time to rub in the faces of everyone who doubted things would turn out well in Indianapolis......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 14th, 2017

BLOGTABLE: Who looks like a first-time All-Star?

NBA.com blogtable _________ is putting together a solid case to earn his first NBA All-Star selection this season. * * * David Aldridge: Tobias Harris. He's having a great year in Detroit -- 19 points, 5 boards a game, and shooting 46 percent on 3s for a winning team. He's put up numbers in big games, too: 31 at Boston last week, 34 against Andrew Wiggins and the Wolves, 27 at Philly. LeBron, Giannis, Porzingis, Embiid and Love are likely frontcourt locks in the East, and I won't be surprised if the coaches take one of Al Horford or Jayson Tatum from Boston. And Aaron Gordon will have supporters, too. So Harris is certainly not a gimme. The Pistons will have to keep winning to keep his candidacy alive. Steve Aschburner: There are so many possibilities, from Kristaps Porzingis and Devin Booker to Bradley Beal and Victor Oladipo. But since the All-Star Game is neither the first nor the second of back-to-back games, I’ll go with Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, whose talent and production should earn him a spot and whose personality and entertainment value are perfect for the star-spangled Weekend. Shaun Powell: I so, so badly wanted to answer "Mike Conley" who might be the best veteran without a trip to the Game, but injuries happened. Therefore, you can toss in a handful of the young candidates: Joel Embiid, Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis. Let's go with Embiid because All-Star Weekend needs his presence and personality. Ask me this question in a month and maybe the answer is Tobias Harris, because the Pistons are winning and he's breaking out. John Schuhmann: Joel Embiid is a lock. His boxscore numbers (23.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks) are fantastic. The Sixers are a playoff team and have been much better, both offensively and defensively, with him on the floor than they've been with him on the bench. And this year, we don't have to scrutinize how much he's been playing. He's averaging 30 minutes per contest and has missed only three of the Sixers' 23 games. Sekou Smith: Devin Booker is putting together a spectacular case, even though it'll be virtually impossible for him to get his due in a Western Conference stacked with outstanding backcourt players. The Suns have struggled in ways that don't suggest anyone on that roster could squeeze into the All-Star mix. But Booker's play this season has been more than just an occasional blip on the jaw-dropper radar (see his demolition of the Philadelphia 76ers for video evidence). He's a next-level scorer and a better overall player than he gets credit for being. If the Suns were in the playoff mix, he'd be locked into that All-Star debate heading into the new year......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 7th, 2017

BLOGTABLE: Would less games benefit the NBA?

em>NBA.com blogtable /em> NBA commissioner Adam Silver was quoted recently saying 'there's nothing magical about 82 games.' So what is the right number of games for the NBA regular season, and what would that schedule look like? * * * strong>David Aldridge: /strong>A 70-game schedule would, IMHO, be perfect for just about everyone concerned. Over the course of six months, that's just two fewer games per team per month. Fans would barely notice. But players would. While that doesn't sound like a major reduction, I think there would be an improvement in quality of play. Reducing to 70 while keeping the new mid-October start date of the regular season would also allow two significant changes: under my schedule, teams that get scheduled to play on Christmas Day on ESPN/ABC and TNT would get a mandatory four days off afterward to be with their families at home -- no games for any of those dozen teams after Christmas until Dec. 30. And, it would allow the league to make the post-All-Star break as long as it wants. A whole week? No games until the following Saturday/Sunday? Fine by me. Especially with the earlier trade deadline now in place, a whole week off for everyone would allow newly acquired players significant practice time with their new team. Now, owners would complain about losing six home games and the revenue they get from them. But, really: is a fan in Milwaukee really going to miss those second games against Indiana or Detroit or Charlotte in a given year? (And, vice versa for fans of those teams.) strong>Steve Aschburner: /strong>The right number is 82. The ideal schedule would look like this season’s or maybe something slightly airier. Let’s let the extra week folded into the 2017-18 schedule play out to see if it has the desired result in rest and recovery, and then maybe stretch things by an additional week next season. Better that than to cut back to, say, 66 games, which would reduce revenue for both the owners and the players, while ending much of the fun in comparing teams and stars across eras. Say bye, too, to modern players scaling lifetime statistical categories unless they plan to stick around for an extra three or four seasons. At some point, it no longer will make sense to argue about the superiority of the most highly conditioned, prepared and doted-upon athletes in history if they’re swaddled in bubble wrap relative to the legends of the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s who gutted out four games in five nights while flying commercially. strong>Shaun Powell: /strong> This marks the 50 year anniversary of the 82-game schedule, but it's really meaningless to have an intelligent conversation about shortening the schedule until players and owners and networks agree to shorten their wallets. And we know that's not happening. The ideal length would be 70-75 games but good luck getting owners to refund the networks about 15-20 percent, and the networks offering rebates to sponsors, and the players taking pay cuts. strong>John Schuhmann: /strong>I've long thought that 72 games -- three against each team in your conference, two against each team in the other conference -- would be a better number, further reducing back-to-backs and general schedule stress. Now, if we want to get to a 1-16 playoff format and a balanced schedule, then there would need to be a system that rotates your three-game opponents through the years. Gate and local TV revenue would suffer some, but a reduction in total games doesn't necessarily mean a reduction in national TV games. In fact, those national TV games would become more important and less likely to be hampered by injuries or fatigue. strong>Sekou Smith: /strong> I agree with the Commissioner, there is nothing particularly 'magical' about the 82-game schedule. There's only something sentimental about it, mostly because we've grown accustomed to that number over the course of the past five decades. The number of games is not relevant if the end goal is to find a sweet spot for player rest and the finest product that can be produced for the consumption of the basketball public. Perhaps a stretch provision of the current season is more important than a reduction in the number of games. We're already starting the season a week earlier this season, why not another week or two earlier? An improved NBA calendar, to me, is like an improved school calendar (for those of you with school-age children, you know where I'm coming from). The number of days stay the same. But the start and end date and the built in breaks are what really matter. Would a 12-game reduction to 70 regular season contests satisfy all involved? I think so, in many respects. It would also allow for a stretching of key dates (All-Star, trade deadline, Draft, free agency, etc.) over the course of the calendar. My ideal NBA season would include all of those key dates during the course of the regular season so that 'offseason' felt more like a break than it does now. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

Asia, prepare for the Pringle-Lee-Clarkson backcourt

A backcourt of Stanley Pringle, Paul Lee, and Jordan Clarkson? Enough to be the best in Asia, if you ask former Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin. With the entry of the Cleveland Cavaliers guard to the physical and explosive backcourt of Team Philippiines, the current Ateneo Blue Eagles head coach says that Gilas' opponents would have their hands full in guarding them. "So, you know, this is an exceptionally strong back court. I don't think Asia's seen anything like it, to be honest," Baldwin said in an interview at the ABS-CBN Integrated Sports Office. Even before the inclusion of Clarkson in the 12-man lineup in the quadrennial affair, Baldwin already noted the greatness of the backcourt, which includes the Globalport star, which he calls as 'one of the best point guards in Asia.' "Adding Jordan (Clarkson) will help a lot because it puts a guy in the lineup that can do some hard work in and around the basket. He's a good rebounder, he's got good size, strength and experience. But man, what a back court they have now produced." Asia better be ready for an 'exceptionally strong back court' of Stanley Pringle, Paul Lee, and of course, Jordan Clarkson, says coach Tab. "I don't think Asia's seen anything like it, to be honest."'#AsianGames | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/aIB0qjgrD5 — Philip Martin Matel (@philipptionary) August 15, 2018 In addition to calling Pringle, who was a former top pick in the PBA Rookie Draft, as the best in the continent, Baldwin added that the Lee is not too far behind. The American-Kiwi coach cited the intangibles those two possess since they create opportunities not just for themselves, but for the whole team's offense. "So it gives Yeng [Guiao] the luxury of running a pretty basic offensive action, which with the limited time they have to prepare, you're gonna love that. He's gonna love that." Even though Asia is not necessarily known for tough and physical play, having a backcourt like Pringle, Lee, and Clarkson will work wonders for the Guiao-mentored squad, and have a chance to create mismatches for the Philippine side. With that said, in order to win it all, which is not a far possibility Baldwin says, the loaded backcourt needs to be supported by a 'little bit small and thin' front court, with the tallest player being 45-year old 6 foot 9 Asi Taulava with 6 foot 8 Christian Standhardinger, 6 foot 8 Raymond Almazan and 6 foot 8 Poy Erram not too far behind. "I hope and pray that Christian and Beau and Poy and Asi, that these guys will do a good job on the board for us. If they do that, I think they'll be in good shape."   __   Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News5 hr. 17 min. ago

Mapua’s Clint Escamis reigns anew in NBTC NCAA 24 Week 5

After getting tripped by San Beda, Mapua has taken flight once again in the 94th Season of the NCAA Juniors Basketball Tournament. Of course, at the controls of the Red Robins ascent is Clint Escamis. The graduating guard averaged 26.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.5 steals in their back-to-back wins over San Sebastian and EAC. Those numbers were, far and away, the best ones any player had for the week. And so, Escamis now finds himself atop the Week 5 rankings of the Chooks-to-Go/NBTC NCAA 24 – the second time he has been there in the last four weeks. Coming next after him is JRU’s rising star John Amores who fired 27 points, five rebounds, and four assists, in their upset of powerhouse Arellano. Amores, the frontrunner as the league’s Most Improved Player, also made one of the bigger leaps in the rankings by moving from 11th a week ago to second this time around. Rounding out the top five are King Brave Aaron Fermin, Perpetual pillar Joshua Gallano, and LSGH lead guard Joel Cagulangan. From outside the rankings, Mapua’s Jonnel Policarpio pumped in norms of 15.0 points and 13.0 rebounds to place at eighth – sandwiched between teammate Dan Arches and Arellano’s Rom Junsay at sixth and seventh, respectively, as well as LSGH’s RC Calimag and Perpetual’s Emman Galman at ninth, and 10th, respectively. Meanwhile, San Sebastian rookie stud Milo Janao and Lyceum stalwart Mac Guadana suffered big drops and now stand at 15th and 18th, respectively. Here are the complete Week 5 rankings of the Chooks-to-Go/NBTC NCAA 24: 1. Clint Escamis (MU) (2) 2. John Amores (JRU) (11) 3. Aaron Fermin (AU) (4) 4. Joshua Gallano (UPHSD) (13) 5. Joel Cagulangan (CSB) (1) 6. Dan Arches (MU) (8) 7. Rom Junsay (AU) (15) 8. Jonnel Policarpio (MU) (N/A) 9. RC Calimag (LSGH) (N/A) 10. Emman Galman (UPHSD) (N/A) 11. Inand Fornilos (CSB) (6) 12. Joshua David (CSB) (5) 13. Penny Estacio (SBU) (18) 14. Kean Baclaan (SSCR) (16) 15. Milo Janao (SSCR) (3) 16. Paolo Hernandez (MU) (N/A) 17. John Delos Sanos (JRU) (22) 18. Mac Guadana (LPU) (7) 19. Kai Oliva (SBU) (20) 20. Kent Pelipel (SBU) (N/A) 21. Cjay Boado (EAC) (19) 22. John Barba (LPU) (21) 23. JR Ilustrisimo (EAC) (9) 24. CJ Balowa (EAC) (N/A) This year, there will be three separate editions of the NBTC 24 – one for the NCAA, one for the UAAP, and one for the CESAFI – to accommodate the Juniors calendar for the whole year. After all three editions have been completed, a final list composing the top 24 players nationwide will then be chosen to participate in the annual NBTC All-Star Game in March......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 14th, 2018

Art Dela Cruz set to make long time coming Ginebra debut

After months of recovery, Art Dela Cruz is projected to finally debut for Barangay Ginebra in the upcoming PBA Governor's Cup. As per Dela Cruz and head coach Tim Cone, they are looking into fielding him starting around October. "Sabi ni Coach [Tim Cone], middle of the conference. My goal is October, second week of October. But my focus right now is rehab nga, and then sabi rin sa akin ni Coach na this time, i-sure mo na 100% ka na. And loaded naman yung team so there's no hurry," said Dela Cruz Sunday afternoon during Ginebra's victory party with fans for their latest championship. "He's due back maybe in October, but we'll see. We'll play it by ear by that time, we're not gonna push him," added Cone. Dela Cruz first ruptured his Achilles tendon during a Gilas Pilipinas practice in March 2017. He was still a player of Blackwater Elite then. When he was shipped to Brgy. Ginebra in a trade that involved Chris Ellis, Raymond Aguilar, and Dave Marcelo in August 2017, he re-injured his tendon before he had his Ginebra debut. It has been 17 months and counting since Dela Cruz last played a game in the PBA. "Medyo matagal na. Talagang maging patient lang ako, iniisip ko din 'yung long-term eh, hindi lang itong conference na ito," he said. In those long months, Dela Cruz focused on his injury's rehabilitation and understanding the sophisticated system of Cone's triangle offense. "Learning na rin yung triangle sa akin. Actually, bago lang ako sa triangle, most of my career is run and gun sa college [San Beda] eh. Ito slow ball kaya maganda rin pag galing ka sa injury, di ka masyadong masusunog," explained the former NCAA star. Interestingly, the versatile forward is also trying out the point guard role. "Actually, nagpa-practice na ako tapos ang position na nilalagay sa akin ni Coach, point guard. Ang laking bagay na noong sa college naumpisahan ko na. Pero ngayon, primary na eh. Primary na na point, kaya point going from power forward," said the 6-foot-4 player. As the Kings still celebrate their latest conquered land now - the Commissioner's Cup, there is no rush for Dela Cruz. After all, Ginebra seems to have long term plans for him in the pipeline. "After a second Achilles surgery, we do not want to rush him back. He's only 25, so he's got a lot of basketball ahead of him. And I keep telling him: it's not about this conference, it's about the next 8-10 years, that's when we want him for. We want him ready for the next 8-10 years," Cone shared. This is not a surprise given Cone's high regard on the do-it-all forward. He considers his game as a marriage of Scottie Thompson's and Joe Devance's. "We were choosing between him [Dela Cruz] and Scottie [Thompson] when he came out of the [2015] draft, and we chose Scottie which was obviously a great pick. But Art was a close second, just because we thought that his skills were very unique, similar to what Scottie does, but in a bigger version," Cone explained. "Art to me is kind of like the in-between Scottie and Joe, kind of right in between those two guys." Dela Cruz has so far posted norms of 12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.7 steals in the PBA. Aside from Dela Cruz, Cone also targets to line-up new acquisition from Globalport Julian Sargent who is recuperating from a shoulder injury......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 13th, 2018

UE’s Alvin Pasaol headlines competition in first-ever UAAP 1-on-1

Alvin Pasaol is the brightest star set to take the stage in the first-ever UAAP Last One Standing 1-on-1 Hoop Challenge. University of the East’s main man, who famously scored 49 points a season ago, has all the tools to dominate the competition scheduled on Friday at the SM Mall of Asia Atrium. Challenging him will be Ateneo de Manila University’s QJ Banzon, De La Salle University’s Jordan Bartlett, Far Eastern University’s Cade Flores, National University’s Robert Minerva, University of the Philippines’ Joe Gomez de Liano, and University of Sto. Tomas’ Zachy Huang. Adamson University has yet to submit the name of its entry in the men's 1-on-1 tournament as of press time. The women’s 1-on-1 tournament will be comprised by Adamson’s Nathalia Prado, Ateneo’s Jhazmin Joson, La Salle’s Rossini Espinas, FEU’s Princess Jumuad, NU’s Ria Nabalan, UE’s Cristine Cortizano, UP’s Noella Cruz, and UST’s Elondra Rivera. As always, all of the action will be on livestream and on YouTube Live starting at 10:00 AM. The tournament will have a single round robin format with the top two players in each group advancing to the semifinals. The winners there will then move on to the Finals where the Last One Standing will be determined. “Last One Standing is going to be fun and exciting. 1-on-1 is the best showcase for a player’s skills and smarts,” event director Eric Altamirano said. Meanwhile, Adamson's top gun Jerrick Ahanmisi is the odds-on favorite for the Three-Point Shootout. Competing with him are Blue Eagle Jolo Mendoza, Green Archer Aaron Waban, Tamaraw Travis Mantua, Bulldog Daniel Atienza, Red Warrior Jason Varilla, Fighting Maroon Allan Madrigal, and Growling Tiger Ken Zamora. A Slam Dunk Contest will also be a highlight of the day with high-flying Tyrus Hill (La Salle) pitted against Ivan Maata (Adamson), Matthew Daves (Ateneo), Aaron Davis (FEU), Daniel Chatman (NU), Soulemane Chabi Yo (UST), and Joe GDL (UP). There will be no UE player in the contest. The Skills Challenge will then be disputed by Soaring Falcon Jerom Lastimosa, Blue Eagle Migs Fortuna, Green Archer Donn Lim, Tamaraw James Tempra, Bulldog Migs Oczon, Red Warrior Mark Maloles, Fighting Maroon Enzo Battad, and Growling Tiger Brent Paraiso. This is the first time that the league will have a preseason event of the sort courtesy of the efforts of host school NU in partnership with SM Supermalls. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 13th, 2018

Tiger back in the hunt

WITH KOEPKA AHEAD There’s a lot of star power and it should be. It’s a major championship and you should see the best players in the world come to the top. ST. LOUIS, United States — Two-time US Open champion Brooks Koepka seized a two-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round of the PGA Championship while […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 12th, 2018

Scottie Thompson wants to play a Perpetual home game

University of Perpetual Help almunus Scottie Thompson ended his stellar college career in 2015, two years early since NCAA On Tour started with home and away games. Now, a Finals MVP and a three-time PBA champion, Thompson looks back at his college self wishing he could have played a game in his home court in Las Pinas. "'Yun yung di ko naexperience talaga. Sana nagkaroon ako ng opportunity na makapag-laro ng home court sa Perps dati kasi iba yung home court eh." "Diba sa Ginebra, iba, daming crowd, daming suporta. Ganun din sa NCAA, mga estudyante gustong sumuporta. Gustong pumuntang venue pero hindi nakakapunta so dun sila sa home court mabibigyan ng magandang laban," said the now Ginebra star guard. The Altas successfully defended their home land three days ago, Thursday, against San Sebastian. It was a thriller with Prince Eze drilling a game clinching buzzer beater putback.    AJ Coronel NO! Prince Eze YESSSS! FOR THE WIN! #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/XwAe8FndZw — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) August 9, 2018   "Actually, dapat manonood ako noon kaso hangover kami nung Finals kaya di na ako nakapunta," Thompson said sheepishly. Perpetual's home game win just came a day after Brgy. Ginebra's PBA Commissioner's Cup championship, thus the hangover. "Pero nanonood ako sa TV. Nalungkot ako nung tinambakan sila. Buti nakahabol yung team namin tapos buzzer beater." It would have been nice for all Perpetualites to witness the triple-double monster collegiate Thompson but since it is too late, maybe they will have to see it on the PBA instead......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 12th, 2018

Jerwin Ancajas to face Mexican Santiago in September

MANILA, Philippines – For the third time this year, rising Filipino boxing star Jerwin Ancajas will try to defend his International Boxing Federation (IBF) super flyweight title. According to Bad Left Hook , Ancajas will face Mexico's Alejandro Santiago Barrios on September 29 in California – 4 months after he outpointed compatriot Jonas Sultan ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsAug 12th, 2018

Great Scott!

Ginebra coach Tim Cone has very little doubt about where history will place Scottie Thompson when the gutsy guard's career is over.   "He might go down as one of the all-time greats," said Cone, whose 21 PBA titles certainly qualify him to make such a call. "The stuff he does in games, he does in practice all the time. He's a really special kid."   But no one is trying to figure out where Thompson will end up in basketball's endless narrative. There's too much road to travel before we get there---and the former Perpetual star still has a lot to achieve.   "He's just scratching the surface," Cone said.   He's got one notch under his belt now...Keep on reading: Great Scott!.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 12th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: Biggest storylines during first month?

NBA.com blogtable What (or who) will you be watching intently during the first 4-6 weeks of the season? David Aldridge: Like many, I'll be an amateur Kawhiologist all season, looking for any clues -- all non-verbal, as we know Leonard won't be contributing his thoughts on the matter at any point -- of his future intentions. Will he develop a sudden love of poutine? Start telling reporters, "take off, eh, you hoser?" Any other lazy Canadian narratives I can think of? Seriously, the potential fit between Leonard and the Raptors could really change everything, starting with the Lakers' fever dreams of a second superstar to pair with LeBron. If Toronto convinces Leonard it's a place in which he can put down long-term stakes, the Eastern Conference changes dramatically. All of a sudden, the Boston Celtics' assumed rise to the top for the next several years would not be guaranteed. A Leonard-led Toronto franchise, with the young ballers the Raptors have in support, would be formidable. But if it becomes clear he's going to bounce, won't the Raps have to seriously think about moving him before the deadline? His first days/weeks there will be crucial. Tas Melas: Kawhi Leonard in Toronto. He was unanimously a top-five player when his playoffs ended on the foot of Zaza Pachulia in 2017. What is he now? Will he smile ALL THE TIME just to troll us? I’m very intrigued. Darkhorse: Speaking of great players, also very intrigued to see what Giannis Antetokounmpo does in coach Mike Budenholzer’s offense. Giannis needs some help and better synergy around him so he can win a playoff series already. Is a new coach, growth within, and Brook Lopez enough? Dark-Darkhorse:There seems to be something happening very quietly in Indiana. Will Victor Oladipo take it to another level? Is Myles Turner gonna follow Oladipo’s lead by both getting cut like him and producing a career season? Will Pacers fans be chanting: “Doug-ie! Doug-ie!” (McDermott). Shaun Powell: A trick question, right? Well, of course it's the Lakers, not necessarily to see if LeBron James is still great, but to see if the team's transitional path is laced with banana peels. Remember, the first few months of the Big Three in Miami was rocky, and the Oklahoma City Thunder never really meshed last season. New faces often translate into awkward moments. There's no reason to suspect the young pups and LeBron and the wacky supporting cast of Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson won't eventually work out the kinks, but seeing them try to do so initially -- and checking out the social media (over)reaction to that -- will be fascinating. John Schuhmann: The Lakers and Markelle Fultz. The Lakers, because of their youth and because playing with LeBron James is a big adjustment for a lot of players, should be a better team in February and March than they are in October and November. That doesn't mean that they won't be fascinating to watch, especially on offense where it's not clear how the pieces fit together, from Day 1. On an individual basis, Fultz is the player to watch early in the season. If his shot is fixed, if his confidence is restored, and if he can play alongside Ben Simmons, the Sixers will have a better bench (to go along with what was the league's best high-volume lineup last season), a more potent offense and a higher ceiling. Sekou Smith: In addition to keeping an eagle eye on the Los Angeles Lakers from the first whistle of training camp until the final buzzer in their season finale (and that includes the first 4-6 weeks of the season), I am genuinely intrigued by the Boston Celtics. We all assume they'll insert Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back into the mix and elevate above the rest of the Eastern Conference now that LeBron James is with the Lakers. I know that's the way things are supposed to go. But I want to see it. I want to see if Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continue to thrive with those veterans back in the mix. I want to see how coach Brad Stevens handles the minutes for Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart now that they've had a taste of the spotlight, a real taste. I need to see if their chemistry can survive the gathering storm of all that talent that's been assembled. We didn't get a chance to see it in action last season with Hayward going down five minutes into the season opener. It's a potentially fascinating group that could prove to be a true rival for the Golden State Warriors on the other side of the conference divide......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: Team with the biggest turnaround in 2018-19 will be?

NBA.com blogtable Which team do you predict will have the biggest turnaround in 2018-19? * * * David Aldridge: Memphis. The Grizzlies had a great offseason (as I detailed in my 1-30 summer rankings) and they could easily double their 22 wins from last season. Mike Conley, Jr.'s return is most important of course, but the infusion of both talent and toughness from both the Draft and free agency/trades will revitalize the team just as much. The Grizz no longer will be held hostage by Chandler Parsons' status on a given night; they should be able to go eight deep with ease going forward whether or not he can contribute. Tas Melas: The Grizzlies. They had a very solid under-the-radar offseason, adding Kyle Anderson, Garrett Temple, and Jaren Jackson Jr. But more importantly, they are getting back two of the best at their positions: Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Yes, Gasol was there last season, but he was not himself with all the “T-word” that was going on. And Conley is one of the best guards in the game. The Grizz were 5-2 to start 2017-18 with Conley. Are you seriously bringing up the Grizzlies’ record after seven games?! I gotta remind people of how good their core is after a 22-win season. Before whatever last year was, Memphis made the playoffs seven straight seasons. Shaun Powell: The Memphis Grizzlies, by a hair over the Lakers. How can they not distance themselves from a 22-win season, especially with a healthy Mike Conley and a much better performance from Marc Gasol? And that doesn't mean the Grizzlies will make the playoffs, so let's keep it in the right context. But a leap of 15 or 17 wins sounds reasonable for a team that was a mess a year ago without Conley. John Schuhmann: LeBron James' last two moves produced win increases of 11 games with Miami in 2010-11 and 20 games with Cleveland in 2014-15, but those teams (were in the East and) added additional All-Stars (Chris Bosh and Kevin Love) who fit better with James than any of the other players that the Lakers added this summer. Still, L.A. has a young core that should be improved and is the only team that looks 10 wins better than it was last season. Memphis, with a healthy Mike Conley and the addition of some vets that will defend, has a chance. Sekou Smith: The Lakers.No one signals a shift in a team's fortunes the way LeBron James does. And adding him to the mix in Lakerland means the bottom line in L.A. is at least a double-digit improvement in the win column, if we're going by LeBron's track record when he relocates. The scrutiny on these Lakers should be epic, rivaling the traveling circus that was the Miami Heat in the first year of the "Heatles" (LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh) era. Think about the mix of youngsters and veterans the Lakers have put together and tell me they wouldn't make up the cast of the best reality show of all time. The drama should be non-stop and as robust as we've seen in any training camp in years. But if things hold true to the way LeBron has navigated both of his previous relocations, there's at least a 10-game improvement in the win column on the way as well......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: How many games will Rockets win in 2018-19?

NBA.com blogtable The Rockets led the league with 65 victories last season. How many games do you think they can win in 2018-19? * * * David Aldridge: Fewer, but that's not a big deal. The assumption here is they'll rest Chris Paul more and more going forward to give him the best chance at getting to the postseason, so that may cost them 4-6 meaningless regular season wins. And if you take away another handful because of the dual loss of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, let's pencil Houston in for 55-57 regular season wins. Don't think that will be a big deal as long as they don't finish fourth in the west and have to face Golden State in the second round. Tas Melas: The general sentiment among basketball fans is that the Rockets will be far worse (the over-under line in Vegas is 55.5 wins!). What actually happened with the roster to forecast such a drop-off? It’s basically Carmelo Anthony and James Ennis replacing the departed Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute (leaving out the additions of RJ Hunter, Michael Carter-Williams, Markel Brown and draft picks at this point). Everyone will point to the defensive issues with Melo starting over Ariza. Defense is an attitude. Yes, a coach needs the personnel, but as much as it is about the guys on the floor, it’s also about the locker room, and I still think there’s enough with Clint Capela, Chris Paul and PJ Tucker (Ariza was part of mediocre Rockets defenses the two years before last season, which were also before James Harden improved defensively). And Melo replacing Ariza is why Ennis was signed – to be the defensive yang to Melo’s offensive ying. Melo can play primarily in the 1st and 3rd with Ennis playing the most important defensive minutes in the 4th. Exposing Melo might happen more in the playoffs, but for the regular season, I see this as a 62-win team. They do still realize that they need the 1-seed to beat Golden State. Shaun Powell: I'd go with the under here and say 60 wins for the Rockets, not because they're in for a steep decline. I'm just not sure they're willing to press for wins in April, given the unpredictability of Chris Paul's vulnerable body, which potentially cost them the Western Conference title (and maybe an NBA title) last season. The Rockets needed to get best record and home-court advantage in the West last season for their mental health. That's not necessarily the case now. John Schuhmann: Even if the Rockets kept the same team together and were relatively healthy, another 65-win season would have been difficult in a deeper Western Conference. And the departure of Trevor Ariza and the loss of depth at the forward positions should hurt them, especially on defense, where they ranked sixth last season. They still have a terrific core of five guys -- Harden, Paul, Capela, Eric Gordon and Tucker -- and should be plenty motivated to get back to where they were a few months ago, so I'll guess that they finish with 59-61 wins, which would still be good for the second best season in franchise history. Sekou Smith: I think the Rockets are capable of another 60-win season. But it'll take a monstrous effort to duplicate the season they had a year ago. And I'm not sure it's worth the energy. The Rockets need only maintain an advantage over the Golden State Warriors to ensure that a potential Game 7 in the Western Conference finals is played at the Toyota Center (only this time with a healthy Chris Paul). If the Warriors decide to attack the 2018-19 regular season the same way they did the 2017-18 regular season, the Rockets would be wise to push only hard enough to maintain a reasonable cushion ahead of the two-time defending champs. There's nothing else to prove. We know the Rockets are capable of winning it all. We witnessed it last season, right up until the moment that Paul suffered his injury......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2018

Beau Mirchoff on road trips and life s impermanence

Mirchoff at Mount Whitney in California--INSTAGRAM Former 'Awkward' star Beau Mirchoff goes on a road trip with his dog from time to time, exploring the 'van life' and sharing o.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsAug 11th, 2018