Well , it all came crashing down around the necks of the Oklahoma City Thunder in their game-seven loss to the Golden State Warriors the defending NBA champions . Golden State advances to the Finals where they will meet the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second successive season. For the defeated Thunder, the ramifications are quite devastating with the speculation GM Sam Presti will be forced to break up the entire roster and start afresh. Fans and analysts alike continue to make their own comments known , with many moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, stating Russell Westbrook should be sent packing , because he’s too much of a ball-hog. Or it’s now time for Kevin Durant to move on and for Presti to try to get the best possible offer available with a sign and trade deal of Durant. Each of those options can be deemed valid, but from my own perspective, I believe with the lack of talent now available from the upcoming NBA Draft and the fact there are very few marquee free agents up for grabs this off-season. The only real alternative for front office is to seek to rebuild but keeping their two most prized assets in-tact with the franchise.
Billy Donovan in his first season as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder was seeking to guide the franchise to their second appearance in the NBA Finals, but the real issue for the team was its failure to close out the series when the opportunities arose in game’s five and six . That failure was borne out by the fact they allowed the Warriors back into the Western Conference Finals and the inevitable result seen with the series’ deciding game-seven at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California,.
The real issue for Oklahoma City during the regular season and NBA Playoffs was the mere fact beyond Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook was the continued issue there was never much of an offensive presence being provided beyond the duo. Furthermore, from a defensive standpoint , the Thunder failed miserably and were continuously being outperformed in several of the categories which mattered most defensively . These issues were never addressed by Billy Donovan and his coaching staff . The adjustments which were needed on-court to counter the presence of Draymond Green , Klay Thompson and the league’s two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry never ever materialized. So if there is to anyone who needs to be faulted , then all fingers should be pointed towards the coaching staff of Billy Donovan and his players . The idiocy of solely pointing the finger towards Russel Westbrook is simply asinine and without any merit at all !
A second consecutive NBA Finals’ meeting between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will begin and all signs will be pointing to see whether or not LeBron James can lead the Cavaliers to their first NBA title in the franchise’s history . This will be James’ sixth consecutive appearance in the NBA showcase event of the NBA Playoffs. For his many of his teammates , this will provide a chance to avenge last season’s defeat suffered at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. It was as clinical and embarrassing a series’ loss seen in the last ten years . The regular season meetings between these two teams could very well provide us with an indication of how the Finals could very well turn out. Each team’s lineups will also be paramount as to what the fans should expect and I believe game one of the NBA Finals will be a precursor as to what we can expect !
Opposing head coaches Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors and Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers are former NBA players with solid backgrounds and postseason experience. Their contrasting styles will also be a part of what the fans also expect from what could turn out to be a very fascinating series. Steph Curry and LeBron James will also give fans the opportunity to decide for themselves who they believe to be the best player in the NBA. Curry won the League MVP with a unanimous vote , much to the chagrin of James and his most ardent supporters. Less we forget , ESPN analyst Stephen A Smith who is an avowed James’ supporter and apologist for the NBA superstar , will be hoping he is vindicated by the four-time League MVP .
LeBron James’ career ever since his entrance in the league has been encapsulated by the highs and lows seen throughout. From 2003 until now it has been a fun-filled extravaganza during which time the player has amassed a considerable fortune and become the consummate businessman and entrepreneur. James does have a great deal to prove and should he and the Cleveland Cavaliers fail in this series against the Golden State Warriors for the second consecutive season. Then the ramifications for the player and the franchise will be considerable, beyond the likely economic cost . Team owner Dan Gilbert has a great deal invested in the team and specifically James , himself . For LeBron James and his twelve-year career in the NBA , failure here at this moment in time , will be seen as a major disaster. Granted , he won his two titles with the Miami Heat and there was the failure to secure a possible three-peat , when the team fell to the San Antonio Spurs and they were highly favored to succeed. Now he will be judged by this series as never before , and that includes last year’s debacle .
Whereas , the Cleveland Cavaliers have sought to build a team around LeBron James with GM David Griffin delving into free agency signing players to lucrative contracts . The path taken by the Golden State Warriors has been one of a steady course with the front office listening closely to the advice proffered by Jerry West which has been heeded by GM Bob Myers . The only major upheaval with the regard to the franchise once it was acquired jointly by Peter Guber and Joe Lacob was the firing of Mark Jackson . The former head coach’s dismissal was a necessity , given his wish to ignore the requests of team owners Guber and Lacob not to make his personal feelings known concerning homosexuality and the coming out of Jason Collins . Jackson would follow this up with homophobic slurs directed towards the LGBT demographic. Given the image problems faced by the league in recent years, it was something the NBA could do without. Steve Kerr’s arrival was a blessing for the long-suffering Warriors’ fans. The roster in place was one which was already established, but just needed to be tweaked to fit the style sought by Kerr and his coaching staff .
A record-breaking season in 2015 and the Golden State Warriors have affixed themselves firmly within the annals of NBA history. Winning a second successive title would be ‘ icing on the cake’ for the franchise. All that now awaits is the start of the series and then the fans can judge for themselves how great this team is said to be.
Someone will have to remind me why anyone should or would take an interest in the plight of either Los Angles Lakers or New York Knicks ? Over the last three seasons neither franchise has really sought to build for their long-term future . Now while both franchises are among the most profitable within the NBA , this might the only thing of relevance either team has going for it at present. Having made a big splash with Phil Jackson joining the Knicks’ front office as an executive. Jackson has shown why he can never be considered an executive with an eye for talent much, less assembling a competitive roster. This much is certain , failure with the upcoming NBA draft and acquiring a prominent free agent and he might as well head back off into a permanent retirement rather than a Sabbatical . There also appears to be cause for concern with his naming Jeff Hornacek to succeed Kurt Rambis’ tenure as the Knicks’ interim head coach. Hornacek’s coaching career has not been filled with anything remotely considered a success. All the more annoying when one considers there were far more suitable candidates available for the vacant head coach’s position. with the Knicks . Then again one simply has to look at the front office of the franchise , its owner James Dolan and then realize the reason why the New York Knicks remain a failure.
The Buss family continue to ruin the Los Angeles Lakers and in the aftermath of Kobe Bryant’s retirement , it is hard to envisage where the Lakers now go from here. Luke Walton has been hired as the new head coach of the team , after his success this season with the Golden State Warriors. During Steve Kerr’s absence , Walton in his capacity as the assistant head coach led the team an impressive run whereby they set a franchise record for wins in a month, as well as the longest unbeaten run in the Warriors’ history. The coaching acumen shown by Luke Walton was obviously something which caught the eye of Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak . With the Los Angeles Lakers not seeking to extend the coaching contract of Byron Scott , Walton being hired was welcomed within the Lakers’ circle of fans and former players who still have long-standing ties and loyalties to the franchise.
While I believe there is a modicum of talent on the Los Angeles Lakers’ current roster , it is going to take a great deal more than the players present to make this franchise competitive enough to compete and the highest level and be taken as a legitimate contender for a divisional title , conference championship , much less an NBA title . Need we be reminded also the Lakers still have to compete in a conference where there are likely to be no better than the tenth best team in the West. All of the optimism and pragmatism now being shown by their fans as well as by co-owners , Jeanie Buss , Jim Buss and Johnny Buss simply show how out of touch they will continue to be. Cap space availability and the lure of playing in Los Angeles will have to the desire to lure any potential big named free agent to sign with the Lakers.
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What have been your observations concerning the NBA Playoffs and which team do you believe will prevail in the NBA Finals ?
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