The Spurs need a talented big man

The San Antonio Spurs lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 by an unbelievable shot by Chris Paul once again make me wonder how many times they have been beat by such a play that prevented San Antonio to win a few more Championships. Los Angeles Lakers Derek Fisher and Miami Heat’s Ray Allen are two plays that come immediately to mind.
The Spurs desperately need to upgrade at the center position. Tiago Splitter played 29 minutes in Game 6 had 9 points and 10 rebounds. The Game 7 numbers were worst with 22 minutes with 5 points and 3 rebounds. At key points the Spurs were out rebounded by the Clippers. Boris Diaw is not tall enough and athletic enough to play more than 20 minutes a game.
San Antonio could not convince Al Jefferson to sign, he instead signed with Charlotte Hornets. Spurs tried to get Pau Gasol last summer and lost him to the Chicago Bulls. This summer the Spurs will try to convince LaMarcus Aldridge to sign with them. Splitter can’t be San Antonio’s starting center if they want to win another NBA Championship. The lost to the Los Angeles Clippers reminded them how badly they need a big man who can contribute rebounding and scoring inside the paint.
A talented big man can bring back the high low option that they used effectively with Tim Duncan and David Robinson for the first of Duncan’s five championships. Duncan is still an awesome player in the playoffs and
The Spurs were still won 55 games last season. They will try to get keep the team together and make one more run. Hopefully they can add a talented big man who doesn’t mind playing a team is the final piece missing for another championship.
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Clippers finally get contributions from their bench

The Los Angeles Clippers every night get great performances from their top 3 players: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Everybody will remember the superb, gutty and clutch performance by Paul in Game 7 to beat the San Antonio Spurs.
The key to the Clippers last two victories was the performance of Matt Barnes (25), J.J. Redick (33) and Jamal Crawford (26) finally contributed points. Glen Davis contributed 10 minutes, 6 points, 2 blocks and 3 rebounds in Game 7. Davis got a rebound after Jordan missed a free throw, which resulted into a three basket.
Paul is arguably the best point guard, Griffin is one of the top 3 power forwards and Jordan is a top 3 center in the NBA. The Clippers big three might be the best trio in the NBA. The question has always been their teammates making plays while the stars were on the bench or in foul trouble. They answered their critics in the first round.
Coach Doc Rivers now realized his role players have to contribute for the Clippers to continue playing this post season. It started in Game 6 in San Antonio when he rested Griffin and Paul late in the third quarter.
It should be a fun series against the Houston Rockets. The Clippers or Rockets will finally be playing in the Western Conference finals. Paul hamstring could be a deciding factor in this series. It will be a high scoring and neither team using the Hack-A-Shaq.
The Game 7 between the Clippers and Spurs will be the best game of these playoffs and unfortunately it happened in the first round. The NBA fans will hope the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers come close to this series.
Could any series match the Clippers beating the Spurs in seven?
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Cavs against the Bulls will decide…

The Cleveland Cavaliers meet the Chicago Bulls to decide who will be in the Eastern Conference Finals. I believe the winner of this series will represent the East in the NBA Finals. The NBA would have preferred they meet in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Cavaliers lost Kevin Love for the season and J.R. Smith for the first two games of the series will hurt them. The Cavs lost three point shooting, rebounding and wing defender with those two players inactive. This means Lebron’s ex-Miami Heat teammates Mike Miller and James Jones will have to contribute in the first two games of the series.
Cleveland’s coach David Blatt can’t move Tristan Thompson to the starting line-up because he will need someone to match-up with the Bulls first big man off the bench Taj Gibson.
A close playoff series will not be decided by the two best scorers for each team: Cavs (LeBron James and Kyrie Irving) and Bulls (Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler) because they will match each other in point totals. It will be decided by the third, fourth and fifth best scorers. Pau Gasol, Aaron Brooks and Taj Gibson give the advantage to the Bulls especially in the first two games.
King James will need to be the dominate player he was in Miami by playing point power forward, being a triple double player and scoring more than 30 points a game every night. He won’t be enough to carry the Cavs past the Bulls. The loss of the Cavs third and fourth best scorers will be too much to overcome.
The Bulls have a more balanced offense and don’t be fooled by their struggles with the Milwaukee Bucks. Chicago will be able to trap and force the ball out of James’ hands. I was hoping LeBron would have made another NBA Finals; it would be extremely difficult to beat his opponent with only two scorers.
Who is your pick to win the series?
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Andrew Wiggins: first Canadian to win NBA Rookie of the Year

Anthony Bennett has the privilege to be the first Canadian born player to be the number pick in the NBA Draft. Andrew Wiggins has the honour of being the first Canadian born player to win the NBA Rookie of the year. He should have been number one in both instead of just one.
The trade to the Minnesota Timberwolves made it possible for Wiggins to win the award. He played all 82 games, averaged 37 minutes and took 13.9 shot attempts a game. There is no way he would have been able to play heavy minutes and take so many shots playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving combined for 35 shot attempts a game.
Wiggins would have definitely not won this award playing in Cleveland with the pressure to win an NBA Championship immediately. The NBA fans would have seen the freshman who played with the Kansas Jayhawks who liked to be part of the team, but didn’t want to dominate the game.
The Timberwolves put Wiggins in position to be the face of the franchise, forced him to be a leader and gave him a lot of minutes, while head coach Flip Saunders encouraged him to be aggressive offensively. More often than not Rookie of the Year are won by players who play on poor teams, they accumulate many points and play heavy minutes.
The trade was good for both teams because the Cavs won 53 games and were the number two seed in the Eastern Conference Finals heading into the playoffs. The Timberwolves got their franchise player who won his first prestigious award. The Cavs will fall short of their NBA Finals goal due to in large part to Love’s injury. The Timberwolves maybe a few years away from being a playoff team in the tough Western Conference.
Would Wiggins be the Rookie of the Year playing in Cleveland?
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It may be over for Raptors Coach

The Toronto Raptors were swept in humiliating fashion by the Washington Wizards. Head coach Dwane Casey has been stubborn with his rotations and didn’t make any adjustments it seems offensively nor defensively to beat the Wizards. The Raptors 30 point loss to finish their season will make it tough for the Raptors to keep him as coach.
Coach Casey’s last two seasons as the Raptors leader saw the team win the most games in franchise history with 48 and 49 wins. He won consecutive Atlantic Division titles. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were All-stars in different seasons. Lou Williams won the sixth man of the year award. The coach’s job seemed secure for the next few years.
The consecutive first round exits will put him on the hot seat. The manner in which the Wizards just dominated the Raptors will surely make it easier to relieve Coach Casey of his duties. He is supposedly known as a defensive coach, yet the Raptors went into the playoffs giving up 100.9 points a game. The Wizards in game 4 scored 100 points in three quarters.
The biggest reason to fire Coach Casey is the fact Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas never developed under his tutelage. Ross was drafted higher than Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green and Kwahi Leonard; yet Ross is nowhere near those players who have developed their games to the point of being key contributor to their playoff teams. Terrence did have a 53 point performance and won the All-star weekend dunk competition.
Jonas never seemed to have taken the next step in his evaluation as a center. Coach Casey regular plays Jonas less than 30 minutes a game. JV is the tallest player on the Raptors roster and not once in the series against the Wizards he played more than 30 minutes. The coach never raised the young center’s game, confidence nor called many plays for him. Valanciunas stood for no 4th quarter minutes.
It will be a tough decision, but Casey has to go. Lowry waived off the coach in game 4 when he got 2 fouls and wanted to stay in the game. He paid back his coach by picking up his third foul and getting a technical.
Should Casey be fired?
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Raptors lose their home court advantage

The Toronto Raptors will be better in the second game despite their lost. The Raptors depend too much on three point shooting to win. They were 6 for 29 (20.7%) behind the arc and 35 – 92 (38%) from the field.
Kyle Lowry will not shot 2 for 10 from the field and 0 for 4 from the three point line again on Tuesday. Terrence Ross was 0 for 6 from behind the arc and 3 for 5 from inside it; therefore he should be encouraged to use his mid-range game more often.
Amir Johnson 8 for 12 will guarantee him more playing time next game.
Their game plan is the same every game and it is time to make some adjustments. Head Coach Dwayne Casey will have to encourage his players offensively to use more post plays or use more movement without the ball. Lowry and DeMar DeRozan could be used in the post more often and Ross can try to cut along the baseline instead of settling for three point shots.
The Raptors were able to hide this deficiency throughout the season by being very good three point shooters. They outscored their opponents, won 49 games and are the third seed; therefore hiding their short comings with a very good record.
The Raptors this season could not keep their opponents from getting many offensive rebounds. The Raptors one again loss the offensive rebounding battle to their opponent (18 – 9) in game one. Coach Casey will have to try to either keep two big men on the court at all-times: Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas, Tyler Hansbrough or Chuck Hayes instead of going small.
The series is not over yet because the Wizards are not good in the last five minutes of a game. It was evident in game one when the Raptors were able to comeback and send the game into overtime.
Will rebound in game 2?
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Will the Lowry led Raptors finally win a playoff series?

The Toronto Raptors are facing a very beatable opponent in the Washington Wizards. Most of the factors point towards a Raptors victory; they are 3 – 0 against the Wizards during the season, Raptors have home court advantage and they have a huge advantage at the three point line.
The regular season means nothing in the playoffs; therefore the 3 – 0 is great for the Raptors players, fans and prognosticators who will predict a Toronto win. The home court advantage is great because if there is a game 7 it will be in front of the faithful Toronto fans. The Raptors have lost 14 games at home during the season and the Wizards only 12.
Toronto lives and dies by their success or lack thereof on some nights from the three point line. The Raptors have 4 players in the top 30 in three pointers made during the season and 5 players who made more than 100. They are Lou Williams (152), Terrence Ross (145), Grevis Vasquez (133), Kyle Lowry (132) and Patrick Patterson (105). The Raptors are shooting 35.2% from behind the arc, are ranked 11th in the NBA as a team and tied for fourth best scoring average.
The Wizards depend on John Wall getting to the rim and foul line, while their big men Nene Hilario and Marcin Gortat dominate the paint. The Wizards scoring average is only 98.5, have only 2 players make more than 100 three pointers this season, but they shot it at a higher percentage 36% and are ranked ninth in the NBA. Washington have three player with a three point shooting percentage at 38% or higher.
Wizards points against average per game is 97.8 and the Raptors give up 100.9. Which team will be able to impose their style of play against their opponents will win this series: can the Raptors make a lot of three point shots and play small ball or the Wizards will be able to slow down the game and use their in the paint advantage to win?
Who will win the series?
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Spurs versus Clippers NBA 2015

The Los Angeles Clippers fought hard to get the third seed in the Western Conference and they get to face the regaining NBA Champions, San Antonio Spurs. The Clippers starting five match-up well with the Spurs, Head Coach Doc Rivers has lead the Boston Celtics to a NBA Championship and Clippers have many players who have many individual accolades.
Chris Paul statistically is one of the great point guards of his generations, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are highly ranked at their positions. The trio doesn’t have enough support to beat a well-oiled machine like the Spurs.
The Spurs will win this series because they actually have a nine man rotation that can contribute on any given night, while the Clippers have Glenn “Big Baby” Davis, Spencer Hawes, Austin Rivers and Hedo Turkoglu providing minimal support for the starters. Ausitn leads this group with 7.1 points a game. Jamal Crawford is the only threat coming off the bench for the Clippers.
The Spurs bench players’ points per game are not great because they don’t play the same amount of minutes every night. Head Coach Gregg Popovich has 12 players he can put in the game who will contribute to the Spurs success and have done it before in previous Championship seasons. The key to San Antonio’s Finals run will be once again Kwahi Leonard; he proved during the last 30 day stretch that last year’s Finals MVP was not a fluke. He takes the pressure off Tony Parker and Tim Duncan to carry the offense.
This series will be fun to watch and it will be interesting to see if Griffin and Jordan can stay out of foul trouble in order to play more than 35 minutes a game. Paul will have to score more to make up for the lack of depth on his team just to make this series interesting.
Who will win the series?
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Raptors need a few more wins for home court

The Toronto Raptors are guaranteed minimum a fourth seed, but it doesn’t mean they will get home court advantage if the fifth seed Washington Wizards end the season with more wins. The Raptors need more wins to secure home court advantage no matter whom they play in the first round. The Chicago Bulls have a 1 game lead over the Raptors for the third seed. The Raptors have 4 games left to add to their win total.
Kyle Lowry hasn’t played since March 24, 2015 due to a back injury. Is the injury a serious injury or the Raptors resting their NBA All-star? I believe it is a combination of both. Lowry needs to play the remaining 4 games to help out his Raptors teammates especially DeMar DeRozan. Head Coach Dwane Casey must get his team on a winning streak before the playoffs in order to instil confidence that the Raptors can play good defense and win.
Lowry doesn’t need to play 40 minutes a game, but his scoring, presence and leadership are facets that are dearly missed by his teammates. Since Lowry’s injury DeRozan in the last eight games played over 40 minutes a game five times, which is bad news for the Raptors if he is hurt before or during the playoffs.
The Raptors will rely heavily on Lowry and DeRozan to carry the team to victory. The team is not the same when one of the two is not in the line-up and need both players to play over 40 minutes a game during the playoffs.
Another first round by Toronto would be a major disappointment to the organization and fans. Masai Ujiri would have to over haul the roster to bring in players with more talent, size and defensive ability.
Will the Raptors win a playoff series?
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Spurs Leonard is a superstar

The NBA Finals 2014 MVP Kwahi Leonard is establishing himself as one of the premier All-around players in the league. He is excellent in every facet of the game on both ends of the floor.
Kwahi can score from every area of the floor: three point line, mid-range jumpers, post-up moves and driving lay ups are all part of his repertoire. His field goal shooting percentage is 48% from the field and 35% from the three point line and 79% from free throw line this season.
Leonard guards the opponents’ best offensive player one-on-one for the majority of his minutes. Leonard is averaging 2.3 steals with 0.8 blocks and 5.8 defensive rebounds a game. Those are all NBA defensive team type numbers and a future defensive player of the year winner.
Leonard’s last 11 games numbers have been incredible with seven 20 points or more, eight games of 5 rebounds or more and six games with 3 or more steals a game. On five nights he played less than 25 minutes and still had great statistics. He puts up numbers in every basketball category and is absolutely one of the best all-around players in the NBA.
The San Antonio Spurs are ecstatic that Kwahi is scorching hot at the right time to lead them towards a repeat championship. The great Tim Duncan no longer has to carry the team offensively with Leonard and Tony Parker now being the leaders. The Spurs are a much better team with Leonard in the line-up.
The Spurs still can move up the Western Conference and get home court advantage in the first round. It is not important to them where they finish as long as the key players are healthy throughout the playoffs.
The media and fans love to talk about Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and James Harden as the top player this season. All three are great offensively, but are not known to be as strong on the defensive end.
Is Kwahi a franchise player? Can the Spurs repeat?
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