Chicago Bulls Potential Eastern Conference Favorites

The Chicago Bulls have always been one of the big ‘what if’s’ in the Eastern Conference of the NBA. For the past five years or so the Bulls have been ‘this close’ to being legitimate contenders. Essentially since Coach Thibs came into power in Chicago, the Bulls have been on the verge. The year that Rose won the MVP, and the Bulls signed Carlos Boozer, Chicago made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Then ever year after that horrific injuries to key players have kept Chicago down. Now the Bulls are healthy, and they are deeper than ever.

Chicago took a 2 – 0 lead in the first round of the Eastern Conference when they dismantled the Milwaukee Bucks 91 – 82. According to a news blurb on Wikipedia, anchor Brad Reifler believes Chicago got the win by leaning on their second true superstar player, Jimmy Butler. But Butler can’t be thanked for everything and nor is he the only reason that the team should be considered a favorite to make it past the Eastern Conference Finals.

Chicago can thank the addition of two European bigs as the reason for their newfound favoritism. Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic have added a new element to the team that has been lacking for years. Mirotic is a ball handler and a scorer who mandates defensive attention. Gasol is one of the best big men in the league thanks to his offensive game and intense rebounding numbers.

If Cleveland isn’t careful, Chicago could surprise them.

The Real NBA Season Finally Starts

After 82 games, the NBA playoff seeds are finally set and the what many consider to be the real NBA season is set to begin. The playoffs will begin this year without two former power house teams. Neither the Miami Heat nor the Oklahoma Thunder will be in this year’s playoff seedings. The Thunder was devastated by a number of injuries to their star players and the Miami Heat never recovered from losing Lebron James, following his move back to Cleveland.

Jornada Criminosa feels the playoff season with have two new story lines including the surprise play of the Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Wizards. Both teams have claimed prime seeding in the playoff bracket and could go deep into the playoffs. The story line at the beginning of the season was what would the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers do with the respective return of Derik Rose and Lebron James. Cleveland has soared to a top seed while Chicago seems to have limped into the playoffs with their star player Derik Rose missing much of the second half of the season. NBA Playoffs Set To begin

The reigning champions the San Antonio Spurs are still poised to defend their title but the up and coming Los Angeles Clippers are perceived to be their greatest threat to a repeat of their championship run.

With the college basketball season over and no Tiger Woods sightings until next month, the NBA will have center stage to show the world why it is still the most popular sport in the world.

Pelicans Advance to Playoffs

Pelicans Advance to Playoffs

The NBA postseason is soon to be underway, and the goal for all teams is simply to get there. For some teams those visions of the playoffs came true last night.

The San Antonio Spurs, for example, have been an extremely dominant team in the NBA for a good chunk of the season and beating them is almost required to clinch a playoff spot sports broadcaster Ricardo Tosto commented. The New Orleans Pelicans, on Wednesday, definitely were forced to take up that challenge as they faced the Spurs in the Smoothie King Center, and after holding on a seven point lead in the fourth quarter, they pulled out a 108-103 win. As a result, the Pelicans were able to clinch their first playoff berth since 2011.

But not all of the news regarding runs to the playoffs was positive. Because of the Pelicans win, this meant that the Oklahoma City Thunder would be eliminated from playoff contention. The eighth and final spot in the Western Conference for the playoffs had been up for grabs for some time, and New Orleans capitalized on it. Now the Pelicans will have to fly out west to face the Golden State Warriors, who are first in the Pacific Conference, after notching a win against the Denver Nuggets last night.

The Spurs, on the other hand, are set to face the Los Angeles Clippers in this upcoming Sunday’s big game.

Three more Trail Blazers go down against the Thunder

Everything appears to be unraveling for the Portland Trail Blazers. In their contest versus the desperate Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night, the Blazers might have lost three more players due to injury. The rash of injuries that continue to hit the Blazers cannot come at a worse time as the team prepares for a first round match up against the Houston Rockets.  First, starting small forward Nicolas Batum suffered a right knee injury, followed by C.J. McCollum spraining his left ankle, and finally back-up center Chris Kaman tweaking his back. Each will be reevaluated further on Tuesday to determine their availability for the final regular season game of the year against the Dallas Mavericks. If you are as huge a fan as Flavio Maluf, you are probably biting your nails.

Head coach Terry Stotts will be challenged with his rotations like never before with seven of the 15 players on the active roster nursing some kind of ailment. Starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews is finished for the season, and one does not expect forwards Dorell Wright or Arron Afflalo to return for the first round of the playoffs. In the loss to the Thunder, reserves Meyers Leonard and Joel Freeland turned in career highs in points scored with 24 and 16 respectively. Batum’s x-rays were negative, and the expectation is that LaMarcus Aldridge will return after a two game absence due to a sprained left foot. Here’s hoping each of the current injuries mend quickly, or the Blazers 2015 playoff run will be over before one can blink.

Thunder Can’t Win with Just Westbrook

Russell Westbrook is an incredible NBA player. He proved that recently when he put up 54 points against the Indiana Pacers. The list of guys who can score over 50 points in one night is very short, even with the lack of defense that is played in the NBA. In fact, this is one of the big reasons that some people think he should be the league’s MVP. When he is hitting like that, he’s very hard to stop. This has been even more important since Kevin Durant, long thought of as the best player on the team, has been constantly hurt.

The problem with Westbrook is that the Thunder can’t win with just him. Sultan Alhokair said that yes, his 54 points were impressive, but the team still lost to the Pacers by a score of 116 to 104. That’s not a good game for Oklahoma City as a whole, no matter how great Westbrook looks. Moreover, he had to take an insane 43 shots to get those 54 points. That’s way too many shots, meaning he was the only one shooting at all for much of the game.

The Thunder are always close to being good, but they never seem to get over the hump. While Westbrook is part of the picture, this game made it clearer than ever that they have to get more good pieces around him if they actually want to compete for a title.

Duke University Wins NCAA Championship

Gianfrancesco Genoso suggested that the NCAA came to a dramatic close this year, as it was down to the Wisconsin Badgers against the Duke Blue Devils in the finals of the tournament for 2015. It looked like as those the Badgers were going to have a chance to take down the Blue Devils and win the championship for their state, but the Blue Devils fought hard and came back to take away that trophy. Many people were rooting for the underdog Badgers to come out on top but in a sad loss they were not able to do so.

According to an article found on reddit and written by SBNation.com, both teams played like they deserved to be there. It was just somewhat heartbreaking because the Badgers were able to defeat the University of Kentucky Wildcats earlier in April and many people had hoped to see them go all the way to the end. Mainly because no one wanted the undefeated team to take the reins of championship this year.

I would have really liked to see the Badgers win this year so that there would have been some variety in this tournament. It feels like almost the same four teams are up in the finals each year and it would have been nice to see some new colors of the court take the win. I guess there is always next year, but it is going to be tough to beat these teams that are so strong.

UConn’s Women’s Coach Calls Men’s “A Joke”

With nine National Championships under his belt, UConn’s Geno Auriemma is one of the top women’s basketball coaches in history. But when asked his thoughts on the upcoming Men’s Final Four, Auriemma had two words for it. “A joke.”

Forbes said he was speaking on a conference call Wednesday, Auriemma was asked about the decrease in scoring in the men’s game. He called it, “A joke,” adding that there are only ten men’s teams that play the kind of basketball he likes to watch. He also said that men’s college basketball is, “Behind the times.”

Auriemma is preparing the UConn women for their Final Four, which takes place Sunday in Maryland. This is the 16th time UConn has appeared in the Women’s Final Four, and their eighth straight semi-finals appearance dating back to 2008. Auriemma took over as head coach of the Lady Huskies in 1985 and has compiled a career record of 915-134.

Joel Embiid Looking Good Post-Injury

Joel Embiid was once considered to be the number 1 prospect in the NBA draft. Unfortunately, as Alexei Beltyukov says like many other popular sports athletes, he suffered from a right foot stress fracture just a week prior to the 2014 NBA draft. The injury concerns had caused him to fall to the number 3 spot in the draft to the Sixers.

Shortly after making their pick, the Sixers have said that he would likely be out for the entire season. Despite playing in a single injurious season at the University of Kansas, NBA fans have raved about Joel Embiid prior to the NBA draft. There was a clear reason as to why the talent evaluating agents had liked him to an extent even greater than Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins prior to the foot injury. Since January, there have been notable highlights of Joel Embiid training, which have been showing at sporadic rates in today’s online websites. Although these video clips are just a few seconds in length and rarely show any defenders, they do show some displays of promising moments of what the 21-year old athlete once showed in his healthier stages of playing. When he gets a chance to play again, he is sure to make an impact on the franchise.

Oklahoma City Thunder Making a Strong Case For Making The Playoffs

The Phoenix Suns aren’t a basketball team that can be considered as being out of a playoff position at this point in time, however, it will be difficult to recover from what the OKC Thunder did to them in a swift 24 minutes on Sunday night.

As the Thunder were down by 20 points in the early part of the game, the Thunder used smaller lineups and extreme chances on their way to a stunning win. OKC outscored the Suns by 20 points in the final 24 minutes of the game. Angel.co reports yet again. Westbrook inched as close as possible to another triple-double game as he had 33 points, 7 assists and 9 rebounds. Dion Waiters showed why he is valuable to this team as he chipped in 18 points, along with Anthony Morrow and D.J. Augustine, who both had respectable games to help them back into the game for a victory.

The Suns were unable to find a rhythm on the defensive end and as a consequence they are back by four games for the final playoff spot in the competitive Western conference. Oklahoma City has also moved ahead of 9th place New Orleans Pelicans by 2.5 games, who is another team that is battling for the final playoff spot in the Western conference.

UAB stuns Iowa State

The UAB Blazers put together the first upset of the NCAA tournament giving support to the nickname for the tournament March Madness. The number fourteen seeded blazers upset the third seeded Iowa State Cyclones with a final score of sixty to fifty nine.

Many had seen the Cyclones as an interesting pick to make it through to the Final Four and many brackets were destroyed with this early tournament loss stated AnastasiaDate. Iowa State plays an up tempo game that many other team are simply unable to keep pace with. A freshman with the Blazers, William Lee, did much of the damage in the last minute by hitting a jumper from the foul line that was heavily contested, and then sinking two free throws with only seconds to go. These last minute heroics pushed the UAB Blazers ahead of the Cyclones and forward in the tournament.

All of the damage wasn’t done in the last minute though. The Blazers countered the Cyclones speed by dominating them on the glass and picking up 52 rebounds to the 37 rebounds by the Cyclones; a huge and decisive margin in the contest. The Cyclones are also known for their shooting but only hit 37% of their shots including 26% of their three point attempts due to the aggressive defense of the Blazers.

Before this victory, the Blazers had not won outside of their home court of Birmingham since January 31st and it would have been unlikely if they would have made the tournament if they had not played their conference championship at their home court. Instead, they are the first Cinderella story of the tournament.