Mock Draft

  1. Karl-Anthony Towns
  • No brainer here for Minnesota who needs help right now on defense. Who better than KG to mentor a young prospect with unlimited potential.
  1. D’Angelo Russell
  • LA desperately wants to land either LaMarcus Aldridge or Boogie Cousins. They are willing to show potential big man free agents they are serious about winning now. They go with a backcourt blue chip who has potential to turn into a 6’5’’ Chris Paul.
  1. Jahlil Okafor
  • I’m not here to predict trades, but there is no way Philly takes him here. Okafor is ripe for the picking…who trades up? Boston?
  1. Kristaps Porzingis
  • Gut tells me Orlando will land the unique big man, but either way he goes off the board at 4.
  1. Justise Winslow
  • My least confident pick in this mock. I think Orlando wants Porzingis or they want out. We’ll see, but Winslow could help them out on both ends instantly.
  1. Emmanuel Mudiay
  • Perfect fit here. A big fast explosive guard to run Karl’s up-tempo offense. No brainer and a good situation for both.
  1. Mario Hezonja
  • A potential star here is too much to pass up. Denver scores a big guard who can score multiple ways. Mario’s camp wants him to fall to Detroit, but it will be up to the Pistons to go up and get him.
  1. Stanley Johsnon
  • One of the most NBA ready kids in the draft. He can play both ends and will help a Pistons team that is looking for an identity. Plug in Johnson and continue the gritty play this roster is built for.
  1. Frank Kaminsky
  • Shipping off Vonleh, The Hornets need someone to provide them with consistent scoring. The most NBA ready scorer in the draft, other than Okafor, should help their cause. Frank’s high rising week caps off with a top ten selection.
  1. Devin Booker
  • Miami could use a shooter to come into the game and give them some production from 3. Slate Booker, the youngest kid in the draft, to be that guy. Good size and time to develop should make him a 10+ year pro in the league.
  1. Willie Cauley-Stein
  • If the chips fall correctly…Mudiay to the Kings…I believe Larry Bird gets his franchise center that could speed their pace up and make their team more athletic.
  1. Myles Turner
  • The Jazz sure know how to stockpile bigs and this one will fall right into their lap. Can’t pass up on the young big man out of Texas.
  1. Sam Dekker
  • A versatile forward that is a good fit to run with this Phoenix team and make an instant impact.
  1. Cameron Payne

A 20ppg scorer in college would be a great fit to back up Russ in OKC. Indiana is the only thing standing in the way of this

Cubs to break historic curse in foreseeable future

I don’t care if you’re a passive sports fan or a die-hard Cardinals supporter, who wouldn’t get excited to see the Chicago Cubs make a run at a World Series title? There’s a big difference between a championship drought, and what the north-siders have had to endure for over a century. Men and women have been born, and died, without seeing the Cubs hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy.  For an organization in a major city, with a substantial payroll, and a myriad of hall of fame inductees, it is incredible that the last time they won, Teddy Roosevelt held office. Forget the Billy goat, forget the Bartmen disaster, I’ll tell you why the Cub’s elusive championship title may just be on the horizon.

Young talent – every team wants it, the Cubs have it. The majority of buzz around the club (and league for that matter) has been the arrival of much-anticipated slugging phenom Kris Bryant – and rightfully so. His “slow start” appears to be over as he recently just snapped a 12-game hit streak with 7 long balls in the last month. What’s most impressive about his game isn’t his ability to send the ball deep, it’s his poise at the plate. Nearly every hitter from the three to five spot can knock homers, but Bryant adds patience to his power.  Currently, he is in a tie for third in all of major league baseball in pitches per plate appearance, seeing 4.26 every at bat – by far my favorite statistic. Who cares right? Pitchers care. A power hitter who will lay off 0-2 sliders out of the zone, and force strikes is all you can ask for. Bryant has seen a full count 45 times, which is third in the majors. For a rookie known for his power, clearly there is way more to his game than meets the eye. It seems as though the line-up as a whole shares this same patience.  As a result, the Cubs are accepting walks, not looking for them, and are currently third in the league with 156 base on balls.

With all of the hype that comes along with the touted youngsters, Anthony Rizzo is quietly putting on an all-star performance. He leads the club in Avg. (.316) home runs (9) RBI’s (29) OBP (.440) and hits (49). Not to mention having a confident glove at first base. While only 25 years old, he has already taken the helm as a predominant leader alongside shortstop Starlin Castro – a critical role for a group this inexperienced, which won’t appear on any stat sheet.

For the first time in decades, this club has become buyers instead of sellers. Transactions are no longer limited to the disposal of top assets for prospect potential. If this last offseason showed me anything, it’s that the Cubs believe the future is here. A few major moves include the acquisition of talented Addison Russell, top shortstop prospect from the Athletics organization who came over as a part of the blockbuster trade of RHPs Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel (who they have since gotten back). Shortly after, Jed Hoyer (VP and General Manger) and Theo Epstein (President of Baseball Operations) successfully courted highly sought left-hand ace Jon Lester, in a massive six-year deal worth $155 million – an addition that will bolster any rotation.  If the Cubs can manage to make it, there are few proven arms more reliable in the post-season than Jon Lester. Even with Bryant, Russell, and Lester new to Wrigley, I would argue they were not the most important piece to join this past year.

The biggest off-season addition to the 2015 Chicago Cubs is not even a player, it’s manager Joe Maddon. Who better to shepherd a group teeming with potential than the great Joe Maddon? The respected and rambunctious skipper notorious for propelling rising talent, joins the Cubs organization at the perfect time.  If there is any doubt of his capabilities, look no further than his accomplishments with the Tampa Bay Rays in the consistently relentless AL East. A team that resides on the lower tier of payroll never ceased to challenge the Yankees and Red Sox for divisional dominance.

At the end of the day, the Chicago Cubs, for the first time in a long time, are oozing with confidence.  They have the swagger of a young group, with the leadership and guidance of choice veteran leaders. All of who are marching to the beat of Joe Maddon’s drum. The Cubs are third in the majors in steals with 43 and seventh in walks at 163, a cool indication of their multi-faceted approach. Last night marked Chicago’s MLB leading 6th walk off win; a testament to their ability to come out on top in close games. Looking ahead, we will learn a lot about this club’s resolve.  Having just completed a 4-game series against the Nationals, and an abbreviated 2-game set with the Royals, June looks like murderer’s row. Chicago will have series against the Nationals, Tigers, Twins, Dodgers, and finally the Cardinals. The key for the Cubs is to stay relevant heading into the fall. Once September rolls around anything can happen.

Aforementioned Theo Epstein has been in this situation before, successfully breaking the other constricting curse by bringing a World Series title to Boston…twice. In addition to the current front office and roster, the Cub’s deep farm system has the squad loaded with depth, such that if they are still in contention heading into the offseason, they will have plenty of blue chip trade potential to explore. What I see is a talented club that is not only impressive now, but should be sustainable for years to come. Should the Cubbies find themselves in contention come fall, the Midwest, if not United States as a whole may serve as their tailwind. Hop in and buckle your seatbelt, the Cub’s bandwagon has plenty of room. Keep an eye on this team; the “loveable losers” might be in store for a new nickname.

Why Wilson is NOT an Elite Quarterback

First off, I believe it’s important to start by saying Russell Wilson is by no means a bad quarterback. In fact, he is a very good quarterback, but for those arguing that he belongs in the same breath as Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, or Tom Brady (deflate gate included), you are delusional. Then why do so many people slide him in with the best of the best?

I would venture that most fans of Wilson will allude to the fact he lifted the Lombardi Trophy at 25 years of age. Winning is applauded – winning young is idolized. Just ask Ben Roethlisberger (23 – XL) and Tom Brady (24 – XXXVI). To be wearing a ring after an infantile three years in the league is incredibly impressive; however, I’m not willing to say the accomplishment was due to his extraordinary play.

The NFL prides itself on parity, and Wilson undoubtedly reaped the benefits of being drafted by a team carrying massive momentum. Wilson is the epitome of a game manager, which is a wonderful asset if that’s all the team needs, i.e. an organization with arguably the stoutest defense of the decade that essentially reinvented the philosophy of the secondary. Nonetheless, if you were to take a closer look at his numbers, the world elite may not seem as applicable.

If the question is whether Russell Wilson is, or is not an elite quarterback, we first need to determine what characteristics are critical for a player of the position to excel. Of course there is the throw power and accuracy which nearly all the quarterbacks, other than the Gabberts and Fitzpatricks, of the league have. However, there are other abilities that a quarterback must possess in order to be considered elite. Initially, the traits that come to mind are the ability to go through progressions to make secondary and tertiary reads, as well as poise in the pocket under duress. Consequently, these attributes aid in decision-making and limit costly mistakes. I would argue Russell boasts neither of these essentials. The reason it is not noticed by the majority of fans, can be explained by his legs – they are his failsafe. According to statistics supplied by archives, between the 2012-2014 seasons, Wilson scrambled out of the pocket an astounding 57.9% of plays from scrimmage.

Are some of these plays designed runs? Sure they are, but in the 2014 season there were only 24 designed runs out of the hundreds of plays called. Luckily for him, he amassed approximately 7 yrds/run which will surely help move the chains when defenses need to account for Marshawn “Beastmode” Lynch in the backfield.

While these figures are staggering, maybe he just isn’t getting enough time in the pocket to look down the field? Wrong. This is where I can truly separate him from the elites of the league. Out of all active quarterbacks from the last three seasons, Russell Wilson has had the most time to throw and most time to sack at 3.14 seconds and 4.05 seconds respectively; this means that Wilson escapes the pocket prematurely on a regular basis which is known as “phantom pressure,” despite lining up behind perennial pro-bowl Center Max Unger.

To his defense, Wilson’s receiving core is far from dangerous. His leading weapon was Doug Baldwin who was only ranked 42nd in yards in 2014 with 825 – behind numerous running backs and tight ends. Nevertheless, to be elite you have to work with who you have and make them better because of your ability to win games – regardless of the roster (enter Tom Brady).

Off the field, Wilson is the quintessential poster athlete: educated, no off the field issues, and a first one in, last one out type of guy. Press conferences are a walk in the park, and he has become a predominant figure in volunteer work. While none of these factors have anything to do with football, they absolutely assist in his notoriety. With the acquisition of star TE Jimmy Graham, and the wound of his Super Bowl- ending interception still fresh on his mind, Russell will certainly be ready to quiet the naysayers. One day he may, in fact, become an elite quarterback, but he isn’t there yet.

Guest Written by
Chris Kusminsky

2015 NBA lottery mock draft (pre-lottery)

I know I know, an exciting NBA and NHL playoffs rage on all while the world stands still for a court trial over deflated footballs…zzzzzzz. Forgive me for looking ahead, but I know there are fans out there dying to know who their team will acquire in this year’s NBA draft, which takes place June 25th at the Barclay’s center in Brooklyn.

This is a pre-lottery mock draft meaning the order of the first 14 picks is not set in stone. For that reason I will not go to in-depth about the picks until our next installment of the NBA mock draft.

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Karl Anthony-Towns. Anyone who hasn’t heard that Towns is the unanimous #1 pick is wrong. Towns showcases talent on both ends of the floor and looks to make an immediate impact for a t-wolves team that could become young at every position.
  1. New York Knicks
  • Jahlil Okafor. It’s a no brainer for the Knicks to pick up a big man here when you take a look at their roster…but with that mindset, it would make equal sense to pick up a PG, SG and PF. Okafor will be able to score 17ppg right away for these Knicks but will not sure up their defensive game, leading to another lottery pick next year.
  1. Philadelphia 76ers
  • D’Angelo Russell. Why him over Mudiay? Mudiay is a big PG who likes to run the floor and can finish at the hoop. He lacks the perimeter and mid range game needed to score at a high level…Michael Carter-Williams anybody?? I don’t think the 76ers will draft a player with a similar game to the PG they just parted ways with. Russell is a special talent.
  1. Los Angeles Lakers
  • Emmanuel Mudiay. The Lakers have been linked to Rondo talks lately. Why take a PG that is on the backend of his prime when you can take a younger, perhaps better version in Mudiay. Mudiay’s tape is impressive. He rebounds, runs the break, shows great court vision and can get to the rim with the best. He will make a run at rookie of the year as the PG of the future with LA.
  1. Orlando Magic
  • Justise Winslow. No brainer here. Winslow has the talent to go top 3 and will not fall outside the top 5. With Kidd-Gilchrist comparisons, Winslow will have to prove he can consistently knock down jumpers when he joins Oladipo and Payton on a young Magic team.
  1. Sacramento Kings
  • Kristaps Porzingis. I won’t pretend I know much here. But it makes all the sense in the world to add a 6’11 guy next to Cousins who can stretch the floor and give the big man more room to operate. Porzingis is said to be in the #1 pick conversation had he played college ball. Good value here.
  1. Denver Nuggets
  • Kelly Oubre. The athletic talent and size for his wing position make Oubre a tantalizing option here. As the draft approaches, look for Oubre to be one of the high risers. He can lock down the ever changing wing spot the Nuggets have had recently.
  1. Detroit Pistons
  • Mario Hezonja. Good fit here for a team that wants more 3-pt shooting. Hezonja is a smart player that can score from anywhere. The Pistons would’ve liked a wing here, but there is good value at Hezonja at this spot.
  1. Charlotte Hornets
  • R.J. Hunter. Look for the Hornets to reach if they pick in this spot and take a backcourt player with elite size and elite shooting ability. He was shooting over triple teams in college and will be relieved to take the pressure off a team that struggles knocking down triples.
  1. Miami Heat
  • Stanley Johnson. Miami will want to have Deng’s replacement intact here. Johnson has the body and two way ability to play right away and help a team that needs depth.
  1. Indiana Pacers
  • Willie Cauley-Stein. Although I don’t believe Willie will fall to here when the actual order is set, he is a perfect match with Indiana. They want a center that can run the floor and finish in transition. The best athlete over 6’10’’ in the draft.
  1. Utah Jazz
  • Myles Turner. Utah has been known to stock pile big men. The defense first mindset that Utah played had last season could see Turner making an immediate impact off the bench for Utah. He reminds me of Favors 3 years ago when he was trying to emerge from behind Millsap.
  1. Phoenix Suns
  • Frank Kaminsky. Good fit for Phoenix. A stretch five that can play their brand of basketball. He could come right in and start for the Suns with his ability to shoot from long range and rebound the basketball.
  1. Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Kevon Looney. A perfect replacement for mainstay Nick Collison. A UCLA bear that brings athletic ability to the bench and can play both ends. His athleticism will allow him to grab boards and start the break for a team that should look to run.

Once again, picks should look much different when the lottery pans out. This is how I believe the draft should go if the order remained how it is today.

Breaking Down ‘Deflategate’

A controversy that spanned from pre-Superbowl into May concludes with harsh punishment to NFL poster boy Tom Brady and model franchise, The New England Patriots. There are many different takes on the punishment handed down and I’ve heard just about everything there is to hear. For that reason I am going to break it down take by take and hopefully get to the bottom of this punishment and decide if it fit the crime.

First we have the “law expert” know it all:

How many times have you heard, since yesterday, someone say: “How are they going to punish Brady for things he might have done?” Well, let’s get that stupid statement out of the way early. The phrase, “more probable than not” was not Ted Wells assuming Brady took part in these rule violations, it is in fact a legal phrase that carries more weight than people realize. This is the standard that applies to most Civil cases in law and it is equal to preponderance of the evidence. Preponderance is based on the more convincing evidence and its probable truth or accuracy, and not on the amount of evidence. Brady’s role in this was documented through evidence obtained by Mr. Wells and therefore “it is more probable than not” that Brady took part in this. That is enough to convict Mr. Brady in civil court and it is damn sure enough to convict him of breaking the rules in the NFL.

Next, the “Who cares, they blew the Colts out” idiot:

This is my favorite. The Colts tipped the NFL off before the game took place on championship Sunday. So what? Did they have a time machine and discover the deflated balls and come back in time to tell the NFL. No, The New England Patriots are repeat offenders in deflating their footballs and the Colts knew about it. Coincidence or not, boasting the best cold weather quarterback and the least amount of fumbles in the NFL could be equated by some to their ability to hold the football better. Is it crazy to think that a flatter football could benefit the Patriots in those two categories? Also, the text message evidence shows this was taking place for much longer than just the AFC championship game. I mean, you can ask “the deflator” himself. “Fuck Tom.”

Now we touch on the, “It’s not a big deal” guy:

This one is the hardest to argue as it is an opinion. Ask any veteran of the NFL about the integrity of the game and they will tell you they were taught to “protect the shield.” Sure, that seems cheesy and countless veterans have come forward with their stories about bending the rules for advantage, but hear me out. Using steroids is a competitive advantage that is against the rules. What is deflating the football? Now I don’t believe they are equal on the cheating scale, but I do believe they both fit the bill of being a competitive advantage that is against the rules. Punishment for the same crime of gaining a competitive advantage through rule breaking should be similarly handed out. In this case it was a four game suspension.

Now the “four games for steroids, two for beating your fiancé and four for deflating footballs” guy:

The report did not simply punish Brady for deflating footballs. Included in his punishment was lying about the issues at hand and not cooperating with the investigation. Brady was guaranteed privacy for texts and calls that did not relate to this issue and continued not to cooperate. He basically laughed at this whole situation and did not take it seriously. He is involved in an issue that challenges the integrity of the game and tilts the playing field to his advantage. Yes others have done this, The Falcons with crowd noise, the Broncos with the salary cap, and hey…the Patriots with Spygate and they have all been punished for their actions. What is different here?


I believe that the punishment was fair in this case. The four game suspensions for steroids is issued for illegally gaining a competitive advantage and the same model was used here; the only difference being Brady is being punished for more than just gaining a competitive advantage. I think Brady should eat the suspension and admit his wrongdoings in hopes of clearing his name come Hall of Fame time. Nonetheless, the real winner in this whole ordeal is the NFL for remaining in the spotlight during NBA and NHL playoffs. Congratulations NFL!

“Megafight” shows Boxing is stuck in the past, along with its popularity

I won’t be one of those douche bags that claims you shouldn’t watch the mega fight because of Mayweather’s past, but understand what his past is and what he has done. Knowledge of the situation can educate the viewer, even when the pathetic sport of boxing chooses not to acknowledge its shortcomings in regards to a topic that has swept across every major sport and across the country for that matter. What makes boxing different? It is a headline reliant, scumbag driven sport that cares about one thing above all else, money. “MAYWEATHER PACQUIAO: FIGHT OF THE CENTURY.” They are not fooling me. When a sport relies on a women beater who trains in an environment which showcases its drug use to drive its brand into the homes of Americans, it shows just how far the sport has fallen. A pathetic attempt to make the sport relevant and how ironic! A fight that is taking place WAY past its prime for a sport that is sucking money out of Americans that is WAY past its prime as well. HBO and Pay-per-view are not off the hook in my mind. They should be the ones to put their foot down instead of allowing an asshole like Mayweather to grace their airwaves and make them billions of dollars. Before we go any further, here some key highlights in Floyd’s incredible criminal history. For time sake, I will not list them in order of convictions and hell, I’m sure I will miss a few. Here is a quick ramble of Floyd’s criminal history:

2 counts of domestic violence, 2 counts of misdemeanor battery against women, misdemeanor battery charge for a fight in club, another domestic battery charge against a woman, a felony theft charge, two felony coercion charges, three misdemeanor harassment charges, 90 days in jail for battery of a woman, two counts of harassment charges for threats to HIS CHILDREN.

I didn’t feel the need to put those charges grammatically correct, chronologically correct, or even legally correct, as he had some of those charges dropped; Floyd doesn’t deserve that from me. We’re talking about a man who epitomizes an arrogant and ignorant criminal. We’re talking about a man who weaves hundred dollar bills into his mouth guard. COOL RIGHT!!! I mean if Mayweather died in the ring Saturday night, wouldn’t this country be a better place? I couldn’t think of a worse role model for Americans who think Floyd is “a cool guy” and I hope he gets knocked on his ass Saturday night.

So when you watch the fight Saturday, be that guy that drops a fun fact about how big a scumbag Floyd is. You’ll get a response like, “I don’t care, Floyd’s the man,” or “I watch sports for entertainment, not to judge their characters.” At least you will educate someone on the hilarious track record of Floyd Mayweather that, in my opinion, overshadows his boxing accomplishments.

Enjoy the “Megafight”

In-depth look shows an optimistic Bills schedule

The NFL continued its year round dominance with its annual three hour long schedule release show. If you’re a fan of a lower tier team in the NFL, this can be brutal to sit through, so let’s take a look at the schedule outside of the common strength of schedule indicator in relation to the Buffalo Bills.

In order to dissect this schedule we need to figure out the Bills strengths and weaknesses as a football team going into 2015. While this may be hard to do, I’m sure we can agree on a few things. The Bills will look to control the clock with a ground and pound attack that will feature play action and trickery to pick up large chunks of yards through the air. What allows a team with that strategy to succeed? Playing against a poor run defense. Let’s take a look at how the Bills opponents in 2015 ranked in run stopping in 2014.

They will play five games against teams that finished inside the top 10 in rush defense including the Patriots and Jets, who they will play twice. Conversely, the Bills will play seven games against teams who finished in the bottom ten in run defense including Miami, who they will play twice. If you look at the Bills schedule as a whole, their opponents run defense ranks 17th on average, which pits them against a bottom half of the NFL run defense more often than not. That is a huge indicator that the Bills should be able to play the style of play that this team has developed its roster for on offense.

Let’s take a look at the defensive side of the ball. A big reason Rex Ryan was intrigued to come to Buffalo was that elite defensive line. With the star power Buffalo sports up front, they were able to lead the NFL in sacks last season with 54, 5 more than the next team! Rex will look to increase the pressure Buffalo sends with his blitz packages and knowledge on the defensive side of the ball. How will the pressure Buffalo put on the quarterback last year translate to this season? Let’s take a look at how their 2015 opponents protected their quarterbacks last year.

Buffalo will play 6 games against teams that were in the top 10 in fewest sacks allowed last season. Conversely, they will play 7 games against teams that were in the bottom ten in terms of sacks allowed. Taking into account their entire 2015 schedule, the sacks allowed by their opponents ranks 17th on average, which will allow the Bills to get to the quarterback most weeks and disrupt the opponents offensive rhythm.

It is no accident that these two stats show the Bills play a middle of the pack schedule as their schedule is ranked as the 19th hardest schedule in the league next year. I think the schedule will allow them to play their brand of football which is running the ball on offense and attacking the quarterback on defense. At first glance, a few things pop out to me on schedule release day.

The Bills open up their season against last year’s AFC championship teams. This will prove as a nice test to the team and allow them to play some stiff competition early which should get them into form more quickly than usual. A week 8 bye will give them two weeks to prepare for the Dolphins which could be a huge game inside the division. Their Thursday night prime time game will pit them against the Jets on a short week of preparation. I’m not sure a better team could have been picked for them to play on a short week than the ever familiar Jets, especially with Rex Ryan in the building. With two prime time games, albeit on the road, and back to backs at home to start the season, the Bills should be able to make the playoffs with this schedule.

Western Conference: Who will advance?

Golden State vs. New Orleans

First off, congrats to Anthony Davis and his Pelicans for clawing their way into the NBA playoffs! Golden State can and will stretch the floor against the Pelicans making it impossible to keep them under 110 points in any game. Davis will do his thing, but one player will not be able to tame these Warriors. Look for Tyreke Evans to emerge as a star player in this series being their wing stopper on defense and their dribble drive man on offense. Draymond Green will look to stymie his penetration making it hard for New Orleans to compete without stroking it from an extremely high percentage from outside the arc. I don’t like the chances that New Orleans gets a game here, but this should be a high scoring highlight reel series to watch!

Warriors win 4-0

Houston vs. Dallas

The battle of Texas! This should be the most intriguing match-up out west but can literally go anyway. i could see Rondo clamping down and showing the world why Dallas brought him in, Houston running up and down the floor and stroking it from 3-pt en route to a sweep and I could also see that efficient Dallas offense come back to life and give Rondo a front row seat to a playoff rout. But which one will happen? I think Houston is for real this year. They have wings that can guard in Trevor Ariza, Josh Smith and Corey Brewer and have an array of guys that can come in the game and give them an offensive punch. Couple that with my league MVP, James Harden, and you have an offensive masterpiece. Dwight should be Dwight here, whatever that is now-a-days, and I see the Rockets being too deep and too good on the offensive end for Dallas to handle

Rockets win 4-2

Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs

What a match-up here! Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will look to take the next step and win a big playoff series. This time they will have a third superstar to get it done with, DeAndre Jordan. I think the Clippers have a real chance to showcase their athleticism in this one and make it difficult for San Antonio to match-up. It will come down to whether LA can stop San Antonio in crunch time. I’m not so sure San Antonio matches up very well on the defensive end and the Clippers should have their way on the boards and in transition. The Clips can space the floor with shooters and also have two superstars that can take the ball and go isolation. I am going against the grain on this one and picking the Clippers based on their elite athleticism going against just the opposite. Farewell Tim Duncan!

Clippers win 4-3

Memphis vs. Portland

The Grizzlies, as the five seed, will actually hold the home court advantage in this one. Portland comes in banged up and what a shame, as this could have been one of the best series to watch. Memphis is tough down low and has an elite point guard defender to check Damian Lillard, that is if he is healthy. If Memphis can play with a healthy Tony Allen and Mike Conley, I think they take this one fairly easy. Look for LMA and Lillard to showcase their stuff, but with a beat up roster it just isn’t the year for these Trail Blazers. Memphis will bruise them inside and on the glass and have just enough transition game off of turnovers to win this one easily.

Grizzlies win 4-2

Eastern Conference: Who will advance?

Hawks vs. Nets

The Brooklyn Nets lack of mental fortitude alone should oust them in this first round matchup. This team relies on “superstar” players to carry the load and they don’t stand out on either end of the court. The hawks pass first, free flowing offense should have no problem eclipsing 100 points in every game of this series. DeMarre Carroll will have the chance to be the X-factor in this one as he looks to show off his scrappy game checking Joe Johnson throughout the series. Look for Atlanta to move the ball with their “Spur-like offense” resulting in different players standing out in every game. Atlanta should clean this one up with ease and move to the next round.

Hawks win 4-1

Cavaliers vs. Celtics

The Celtics have been playing some of the hottest Basketball in the league coming down the stretch; it’s a shame they had to draw Cleveland. This Cavs team can do it all; 3-pt shooting, inside outside game, fast break, and the ability for one player to take over the game from multiple positions. Boston has gotten where they are with excellent shooting, a fast pace of play and an incredible coaching job by Brad Stevens. I don’t see any way this blueprint will translate to success over this Cleveland Cavalier team. I like to Cleveland to clean things up quickly.

Cavaliers win 4-0

Chicago vs. Milwaukee

This one is going to be a battle of opposites. A young Milwaukee team does battle with a bunch of veterans in Chicago. The young un-experienced Bucks will be on its first playoff run with new coach, Jason Kidd, and its first run with this roster in place. Although they hold size advantage at point guard and can turn a team over and get out on the fast break, the playoff experience of Chicago should be enough to smother the Bucks. The playoffs are just what Chicago needs to improve their defense. Pace of play will slow down with every possession meaning so much more and that should benefit a Chicago team that is getting healthy at the right time. The Bucks are feisty, but simply not experienced enough to deal with this Bulls team.

Bulls win 4-1

Toronto vs. Washington

This match-up will provide the hype for the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. These are two teams that have emerged over the last few seasons and look to take that next step. Lowry/Derozan vs. Wall/Beal is as good a back court matchup as you will see these playoffs and will most likely be the deciding factor. The Raptors have a lot of punch in their starting lineup and coming off the bench. Sure to be 6th man of the year Lou Williams is making a huge impact in Toronto while they also boast two top 5 field goal percentage shooters in Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson. Role players like Ross, Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez can make an impact in this series. I like the depth and the star power the Raptors boast and think it will be tough for the slipping Wizards to match-up with them. The quick back court the Wizards possess will always give them a chance in games, but their lack of depth could hurt them here. Young Otto Porter, old Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries and Rasual Butler will be outmatched by the Raptor bench. I like the Raptors to show off their depth and star power and take this one easier than most expect.

Raptors win 4-2

The hot Jazz cover a big spread vs the Rockets

The Utah Jazz tip-off in Houston against the Rockets at 8:00 pm ET. The Jazz have been eliminated from the playoffs for weeks, but the team is red-hot since the all-star break going 19-9 since then and winning 4 of their last 5 including a 17 point win over the Mavericks two nights ago. Houston is playing for everything in the West with seeding to be gained and lost. There are many scenarios for the Rockets relying on other teams to win and lose, but a win puts the team at home for the first round of the playoffs. Vegas has the line at Utah +12, thats a lot of help for a team playing good basketball right now. The Rockets should win the game, but I like the Jazz to keep it close playing the spoiler role giving themselves at least a chance to take this one.

Utah Jazz (+12) over the Houston Rockets