NBA Playoffs: Conference Finals Predictions

Tomorrow the NBA Playoffs move onto the conference finals. While the match ups don’t necessarily surprise anyone, these series’ are sure to be nothing short of exciting. In the East, we’ve got the two-time defending champs Miami Heat against an up-and-coming bunch in the Indiana Pacers. On the other side, the West features the young and explosive Oklahoma City Thunder who will take on the experienced and wise San Antonio Spurs. Both of these are poised to be full of amazing basketball, but here’s my analysis of what I think will happen between each of these teams.

Eastern Conference Finals: #1 Indiana Pacers vs. #2 Miami Heat

Here we go, the Eastern Conference match up that everyone’s been waiting for. After last year’s series went to the Heat, the Pacers are hoping to get revenge and reach the finals after they mastered the regular season. However, the Heat aren’t going to go away that easily. LeBron’s been having another spectacular postseason and has shown people why he could be playoffs MVP. The Heat haven’t been too flashy this postseason, but they’ve gotten the job done with quality wins and great play from many of their players. On the other side, the Pacers have struggled a little, especially since they narrowly escaped a first-round upset. Hibbert has been lackluster at best, and doesn’t show too much potential for the rest of the playoffs. These teams split their season series with two wins each, but I’m not expecting it to be that close this time around. With that, I’m taking the Miami Heat to take this series in 6 games (but wouldn’t be surprised if they did it in 5).

Heat vs Pacers

Western Conference Finals: #1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #2 Oklahoma City Thunder

Many people are calling this “the Spurs year” because of their aging superstars and their consistent play once again. But, it seems like the past four years have been “their year” and they’ve failed to convert each time. That’s not to say they don’t have the potential, because they’ve been playing just as consistently as the Heat have and do so in a dominating manner. In terms of the Thunder, they just suffered a huge loss finding out that Serge Ibaka isn’t gonna be able to play for the remainder of the playoffs. He is a regular contributor and is an integral part to the OKC offense. However, with Durant, I think this team can do anything, especially with a healthy Westbrook. The Thunder have depth and they’ll prove this by having their next-man-up step into the role. Between these two teams, the Thunder won all four games that they played against each other. While OKC is going to miss Ibaka, I’m going to take the Thunder in 7 games to have KD’s MVP season continue.

Thunder vs. Spurs

If these predictions hold up, then we’ll have a Thunder-Heat Finals match up. KD vs. The King. Durant vs. LeBron. Two of the best players in the game right now. I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of these teams make it to the Finals and, no matter what, we’re going to have an awesome end to the NBA Playoffs.


Why Durant Won the MVP

“MVP! MVP! MVP!” That’s what the fans in Chesapeake Energy Arena will be chanting on Wednesday night now that their star forward, Kevin Durant, has won his first MVP award. With yet another scoring title this year, Durant made a strong showing for why he deserved this MVP. Though his scoring was a huge reason why he won, there were several other reasons that contributed to his success. Below I’ll outline some of the many ways that Durant made his season so special.

1. Points on Points on Points.

As I mentioned before, Durant took home another regular season scoring title, his fourth in five years. There was a point in Durant’s 30+ point scoring streak when some of us thought he might have a chance to break Wilt’s record of 65 straight games, but let’s be real, nobody’s going to touch that record.  Nonetheless, Durant’s 41 straight games of 25+ scoring is extremely impressive. This year, he won the scoring record by an astounding 4.6 points per game with 32 points per game, and is continuing his brilliance in the postseason with 29.3 points per game. It’s old news, but Durant is a straight baller and can score pretty much whenever he wants to. As a final note, this is also the first year since Allen Iverson in the 2000-2001 season that someone has won both the scoring title and MVP in the same season.

Kevin Durant dunk

2. All Quiet on the Westbrook Front

This season, Russell Westbrook missed a total of 36 games, compared to Durant’s single missed game. During part of Durant’s remarkable scoring streak, Westbrook missed 16 of them and the Thunder went 14-2. This means that more teams focused their defense on stopping KD, but he was still able to manage 25+ points on a consistent basis. Westbrook’s absence gave Durant a huge opportunity to fine-tune his skills and make his moves that much more impressive which will help him and the Thunder tremendously in the future. Many analysts think the Thunder are just fine without Westbrook, but he takes heat away from Durant and is able to create more scoring opportunities for the team.

Durant and Westbrook

3. Versatility

Kevin Durant is one of the few people in this league that can play a number of different positions on any given night. Whether it’s taking the ball down the court as a point guard, posting up in the paint, or facilitating scoring for other team members, Durant can do it all. In this his seventh season, the Durantula had higher averages for all the major categories (points, rebounds, assists, shooting percentage) than MJ had in his seventh season. If he’s got better stats than Air Jordan, then that’s got to be a great season.

Kevin Durant

Over his career, KD has shown us why he’s one of the premier players in the league and this year he demonstrated his abilities on a whole new level that set him apart from the rest. But now that he’s got his MVP under the belt, the question that everyone is going to start asking is, “When will he be an NBA champion?” For now, let’s just revel in the great season Durant had and congratulate him for the outstanding performance. Congrats on the MVP, Kevin Durant!


Sam on Sterling: Laying Down the Law

Unfortunately, this week’s top sports story isn’t about the Wizards winning their first playoff series since 2005, the potential demise of the top-seeded Pacers, or the fantastic game 7s that are ahead in the NHL. Nope, it’s about Donald Sterling’s racist comments and his subsequent ban from the NBA and a $2.5 million fine. Additionally, NBA commissioner Adam Silver is trying to force the sale of the Clippers, which has been reported to be worth between $575 million and $700 million. Many people have voiced their opinion about Silver’s ruling and it seems as though the masses support the hammer that Silver brought down on Sterling. On that note, I offer up a couple of my own thoughts on this situation and what I think could have been done to improve the situation.  But first, let me preface this by saying that I am in no way intending to offend anyone nor do I want to come off as seeming racist myself. I’m just trying to point out some facts and offer a different perspective.

Nowadays, racism in sports seems to be coming up as a relevant issue much more than it should be. We saw it in the NFL when they proposed banning the N-word during the use of the game when it’s been used in such context for so long. For whatever reason, some might not consider this to be a “racist” act since some of the time it’s not being used in a derogatory way like it used to be. On the other hand, Richard Sherman thought that the act of banning it was actually racist.  I think he brings up a fair point here that I would like to relate back to Sterling’s case.

First of all, what happened to freedom of speech? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should be free to say whatever they want. Nevertheless, that doesn’t make what Sterling said right in any sense as it was offensive on several different levels. Yes, he is a leader in the community that should be setting an example for the many people that may have looked up to him, but reports have come out saying that he’s voiced similar opinions in the past, the NBA just hasn’t done anything about it. Besides, it’s not like Sterling has ever (to my knowledge) publicly commented on things like this until this got out, which brings me to my second point. These comments that Sterling made got out to the public because someone secretly recorded their conversation and sent it to the press.  Granted, Sterling should have been thinking about what he was saying first and should have been more aware about the potential consequences of his words. Especially in today’s world where virtually everyone can be considered a part of the press with Twitter, Facebook, etc., high-profile leaders should be very aware of their surroundings and what the outcomes could be.

That said, I still believe that what Sterling said was wrong and he should have been punished, but was did this punishment fit the crime accordingly? To put it into perspective, Sterling has a personal net worth of $1.8 billion, which makes his $2.5 million fine equivalent to a $132 fine for the average American. And if Sterling is forced to sell the Clippers, he’ll still come out on top a solid $500+ million. I’m okay with this maximum fine and making an effort to remove himself from the Clippers organization, but what bothers me is the entire lifetime ban. When the NFL was discussing banning the N-word, the discipline was going to be a 15-yard penalty and potentially a small fine. So what makes Sterling’s situation so much different that it warrants him a full lifetime ban?  I understand that Silver might have been using this to make some sort of statement, and I commend him for that, but is he going to give everyone who makes a racist comment a lifetime ban? I just don’t think that’s reasonable to expect.

To conclude, I think this whole thing got blown out of proportion a little bit. Like I said before, racism in sports is getting to be much too prevalent and I don’t think that this one case is going to change that. Everyone is always going to have their opinion, it’s just a matter of how many people find out and if it gets leaked to the press. This is a learning experience for everyone, and hopefully we can move past this and make sports a better atmosphere because of it. Thanks again for reading this week’s post. Be sure to join Fancred and check out my page.

Sam on Sports: Pilot

Hello fellow sports fans! I would like to welcome you to a new blog that I’m starting purely for my love of sports. That said, welcome to my blog, “Sam on Sports,” and thanks for showing interest and giving me your support. I’m hoping to talk about a number of different topics, but am also open to suggestions; if you have any recommendations or ideas about what I can write about, head to the About Me section on my blog and you can comment with what you want!

As a little bit of an introduction to the sports side of me, I’ve been a sports fan all of my life. ESPN, Fox Sports, or any sports event is the first thing that comes on when I turn the TV on, and is the last thing that is left on when the TV goes off. I’m a student at UW-Madison and am from Green Bay, so my fandom goes to any Wisconsin sports team (except the Bucks, they suck), and am also a Red Wings fan in the land of many Blackhawks fans. I will be the first to admit though that I am quite a fair-weather fan when it comes to the Brewers (so I’m loving this current run they’re on). I’m not afraid to confess this, and hope you won’t judge me for it. I’ll try not to insert as much bias into my posts, but don’t fault me if I do because I’m very passionate about the teams I root for. Enough about me, now I’ll get a little into my first topic: the NFL draft.

NFL Draft

Draft day is coming up (no, I’m not referring to the Kevin Costner movie here), and it gives us football fans some solace in the middle of this dreadfully-long off-season. Obviously, there are the big names of this draft in Clowney, Watkins, and Manziel along with the rest of the QBs. Aside from these high-profile players, I’d like to point out a couple of players who I think might be going in a little underrated and could be sleeper picks for some teams:

1.  Ha Ha Clinton-Dix: Yes, his name is Ha Ha, and yes, he may not be a sleeper pick, but I still think he’s a great prospect in this draft. He’s from Alabama, so he’s obviously got some talent and has shown a lot of potential in his time there. I’ll be honest, I’m hoping the Packers can somehow scoop him up if he drops a little, because that would certainly bolster the secondary quite a bit. Regardless, he will be one of the top safeties taken and any team will be lucky to have him.Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

2.  Bradley Roby: Having played against him this year, I know the talent he can bring. He’s got some great athletic talent and can definitely move. I think he has some to learn on the technical side of football, but I think he can progress into a top cornerback after a couple years of mentorship from someone like Rodgers-Cromartie in New York or Ike Taylor in Pittsburgh.


3.  De’Anthony Thomas: This guy is a speed freak. I think teams could definitely use him in a more specialized role with RB screens or putting him in motion to the slot position. Of course, he’s one of those that is prone to injury and it will be important for teams to keep him safe if he wants to last. He could be an asset to a team like the Broncos (who have lost Moreno) or New Orleans and use him in the same way that San Francisco used LaMichael James, De’Anthony’s predecessor.


4.  AJ McCarron: Not many people think of McCarron as a starting quarterback in the league, but I don’t think you can discount this guy. All he did at Alabama was win, and that’s gotta count for something. I most certainly think he could be a suitable backup for almost any team and after a couple years could step in and take over the reigns for someone like Brady or Manning. I’m usually not this Alabama-heavy, but McCarron and Ha Ha are great players.


Well, that’s all for now folks. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and I hope you’ll stay with me! Let me know if you have any suggestions about topics or just want to connect. Finally, check out my Fancred blog page and get on this app if you want to discover a great sports community!