The War Of The Roses ………….

The War Of The Roses

So at this point of the NBA season teams are now vying to position themselves for the second-half of the NBA schedule . The NBA All Star Game is not that far away and the news surrounding the league has been the dismissal of Jason Kidd as the Head Coach of the Milwaukee Bucks . It would appear that the organization now wants to go in a different direction. Much to the dismay of Bucks’ player Giannis Antetokounmpou , Kidd’s firing came right out of the blue. Over their last fifteen games the Bucks have managed to put together a 7-8 record over the period. Antetokounmpou tried to intervene on Kidd’s behalf, but it was all to no avail. With his firing , the Bucks will now have Joe Prunty inserted on an interim basis as the new Head Coach. .


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In their last contest the Milwaukee Bucks were on court to face the Phoenix Suns whom they defeated by the score of 109-105 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center , in Milwaukee Wisconsin. The team’s home record as well as being on the road has not been all that illuminating .

Moving forward, I am not so sure the Milwaukee Bucks are heading in the right direction without Jason Kidd. He brought some semblance of urgency to the team , but the real issue has been the fact they do not have a proven veteran leader on the roster with a track record of success. Throughout much of this season Giannis Antetokounmpou has been by far their best player . If the Bucks are to have any semblance of success this season then it will be incumbent on the play of their forward and fast-rising star. Up next for the Milwaukee Bucks will be a game against the Brooklyn Nets , as they host the Eastern Conference team at home.

The opportunities for Jason Kidd will not be bleak , as I believe he is quite capable of leading a team to success. However, what it all comes down to at the end of the day, is where will be a suitable fit for one of the league’s most astute Head Coaches

Say what you will, but even with the claims that he’s been a breath of fresh air within the game, LaVar Ball is proving to be more of an off-court attraction than he could be seen as an asset for the Los Angeles Lakers . If Ball Sr is not touting the Big Baller Brand , then a great deal of the time in recent weeks he has been overtly critical of the Lakers’ organization, most notably Luke Walton , Head Coach of the Lakers as well as senior executives within the front office. Suffice to say, while his son Lonzo Ball has barely contributed anything of note to the Lakers other than one or two flashes of brilliance . The guys in purple and gold have become an eyesore on the court, while there now appears to be some dissension of the court , as players are now being asked to take sides . Will it be Team Big Baller Brand and Lonzo Ball or Team Lakers ? I don’t think this was what either Magic Johnson or Rob Pelinka had in mind at the start of the season and I am sure that the Buss family must be besides themselves with the ugliness now being witnessed from this team .

Unable to compete within the Pacific Division and also struggling to hold their own within the Western Conference , it’s best to say that the Los Angeles Lakers should consider “ tanking” their season while senior executives Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka decide what to do concerning the makeup of this team. There’s nothing to suggest that this Lakers’ team is playing with a great deal of confidence. In their last scheduled game the Los Angeles Lakers put up 127 points in a twenty point victory over the New York Knicks . It was a contest of missed opportunities by both teams the match-up . Following up that game , Lonzo Ball and his teammates would face the Boston Celtics where another home victory provided a timely boost for the team’s moral . With an upcoming contest against the Chicago Bulls , it will be interesting to see if the Lakers can put together a consistent winning streak .

He is a four-time League MVP and a three-time Finals’ MVP , but as LeBron James continues to rewrite the history books , the continued comparisons will be made to his idol Michael Jordan . James in a game played against the San Antonio Spurs which resulted in a loss for the Cleveland Cavaliers , he became the youngest player in NBA history to have amassed thirty thousand career points (30,000) during the regular season. The list of players to have passed that threshold now lists as seven . With the exception of Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki , all of the other members are enshrined in the Hall of Fame . James and Nowitzki are the only active players the list to achieved that feat.

As the season has progressed , it has become troubling to see the struggles of the Cleveland Cavaliers continue. The additions of Dwyane Wade , Derrick Rose and Isiah Thomas doesn’t seem to have made up for the loss of point guard Kyrie Irving . With the recent rumors of dissent within the locker room , after it was revealed that Kevin Love may well have feigned an on-court injury during a game and then not meeting for a morning practice with his teammates. One has to wonder whether or not Head Coach Tyronn Lue still commands the respect of this team , but more importantly , can the front office now do anything to appease LeBron James as it appears that things are spinning out of control ?

The Cleveland Cavaliers were seen as the prohibitive favorites to make a successful defense of their conference title and make it back the NBA Playoffs. That will likely be the case , but based on their current play, I am not so sure that they’re a guaranteed thing for a deep run in the NBA Playoffs , much less beat the best that the Western Conference has to offer. Game in and game out , LeBron James continues to give it his all , but I no longer believe this current Cleveland lineup is actually good enough win another NBA title . Over their next six games , the Cleveland Cavaliers will have a great deal to prove to themselves as well as their fans. Up next for LeBron James and his teammates will be a game against the Indiana Pacers at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on the 26th January , 2018.

Head Coach Tyronn Lue is no longer sure what his best lineup should be concerning the roster. Other than LeBron James being automatically being penciled in as a starter, the coach and his staff might as well be drawings names out of a hat to see who will line up alongside the four-time League MVP

The one thing we can be sure of , money doesn’t always guarantee success, but it certainly helps. Last year’s winning team in the NBA Finals the Golden State Warriors was among the costliest lineup in the league’s history. In seeking to make successful defense this season, the Warriors are already back to their very best . With the best record in the league , it will be interesting to see what this team is capable of between now and the rest of the season, as they seek to win their third NBA title in the last four seasons . This season , it has been all about Kevin Durant and his erstwhile teammate Steph Curry as they lead the team in scoring . Over his last eight games Durant has been very impressive , during which time Golden State have continued to show their dominance. However, where I feel the Warriors have greatly improved , has been through the team’s defense. Head Coach Steve Kerr knows what to expect out of his players and holds them accountable for their actions .. Golden State will be looking to up the ante when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves on the 25th January in a game which will be played at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California . This should be a very good match-up between two of the better teams within the Western Conference this season.

The dismissal of David Fizdale led to a great deal of speculation that his firing had more to do with the front office no longer having any faith in their coach . Memphis’ players seemed to admire Fizdale and what he brought to the table and gave it their all . The team’s billionaire owner Robert Pera bought the franchise on the cheap , but the real issue became the fact that for all of the fandom, there was no real plan of action moving forward. JD Bickerstaff has now taken over the reins of the team as the Grizzlies push to place themselves into contention for a playoff berth. . Currently sitting in twelfth place within the Western Conference , the Memphis Grizzlies are 6 ½ games behind the eighth-placed Denver Nuggets . Bickerstaff will prepare the Memphis Grizzlies for their next game when they will meet the San Antonio Spurs at the FedEx Times Forum in Memphis , Tennessee on Wednesday evening.

Dwight Howard seems to be having one of the best years of his career , if you consider the past four years were anything to go by. There was a time when the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year was seen as a great catalyst. Instead , he’s become something of a journeyman toiling around the league , looking for the best contract available, while having shown very little leadership ability for any franchises he’s played for with the exception of the Orlando Magic . Howard now toils away with the Charlotte Hornets (19-27) , where team owner Michael Jordan is still looking for his club to make a deep playoff run during his tenure. Dwight Howard didn’t excel in the Playoffs while he was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and I seriously doubt he still has the capacity to take this Hornets’ team to the next level. Howard might be the second best offensive weapon the Hornets have , but that in of-itself will not be enough if this team has any desires on making it to the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2015.

The next twelve games on the Charlotte Hornets’ schedule should prove to be interesting for the organization and this team. Up next for the Hornets will be a game against the Atlanta Hawks , a former team that Dwight Howard played for.

With the All Star Game and all of its precursor festivities just around the corner, the remainder of the NBA schedule will be impactful . What match-ups are you most looking forward to and which team do you believe could provide the biggest surprise during the second-half of the season ?

Tophatal ………….


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All Is Not Fair In Love And War

All Is Not Fair In Love and War

For some reason fans were made to believe this weekend with the divisional round of the NFL postseason under way, the fans would be provided with several great games. Instead what they were able to witness was a cacophony of noise , errant plays and teams who essentially provided a truly mediocre spectacle. I sorry , but this NFL season has been one to truly lament all-round. From my own standpoint, I am not so sure things are likely to get any better once the postseason resumes with the divisional rounds. Then the top-two seeds within each conference will enter the fray against their respective opponents .


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At this point last season everyone appeared to be in awe and again the players proved to be in some cases a major disappointment just us as they were over the weekend.With the New England Patriots about to begin the defense of their Superbowl title it will be interesting to see how they will fare against the Tennessee Titans . Tennessee’s quarterback Marcus Mariota will certainly have to raise the level of his play as he looks for his second career postseason victory . He faces a tough task against Patriots’ franchise looking to make NFL history with a sixth Superbowl title. Tom Brady for his part will be looking to drown out the nonsense of his having created the friction between Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft , which led to the trading of his backup Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers . Garoppolo has since provided the Niners with hope after their stirring finish to the regular season with five straight victories . Hope may well spring eternal for the struggling San Francisco 49ers after-all.

Roll Tide ! Well the National Championship was decided on the determination of Nick Saban’s willingness to take it to the house . That was clear from the very start of the game as Alabama took it to their Southeastern Conference rivals the Georgia Bulldogs . This Alabama team was all it was cracked up to be and then a great deal more . Saban’s coaching resume’ now adds another historical moment as he wins his sixth national title overall.

We all knew that it was bound to happen at some point during the NBA season and quicker than you could swat fly, LaVar Ball has begun to set fire to any type of relationship he might have had with the Los Angeles Lakers’ organization. Not content his back and forth sniping with another dumb-ass , Donald Trump . Ball has now taken aim at both Rob Pelinka , general manager of the Lakers as well as Magic Johnson , Head of Basketball Operations and last but not least Luke Walton the team’s head coach.

Over their last ten games as of the 7th January the Los Angeles Lakers are an abysmal 1-9 , with their lone victory coming in a highly contested game against the Atlanta Hawks , with a eighteen-point victory over their Eastern Conference opponent.

LaVar Ball might not be happy with the fact his son Lonzo Ball with each game is now being exposed an over-hyped and somewhat immature child. Granted, he has been thrust unto a big stage surrounded by non-plus players , but in all honesty was anyone actually expecting the Los Angeles Lakers to be anything special. This team on its best day isn’t fit enough to challenge perhaps a mid-level Southeastern Conference program within College Basketball , but yet their idiot fans were hoping for something more ? LaVar Ball might be stirring more trouble than he can really handle , while at the same time knowing the Los Angeles Lakers’ hierarchy have placed their faith in his son Lonzo Ball and to secure their future, with the aim being to return the franchise to their former glory of winning NBA titles . Ball Sr, cannot continue to harangue the Lakers’ staff without questioning the lack of leadership from his son. Up next for the Los Angeles Lakers will be a game against the Sacramento Kings on the 9th January , before facing another conference rival the San Antonio Spurs on the 11th January . Both games will be played the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California .

Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson have already begun to assess the roster and the waiving of veteran Andrew Bogut as a cost-cutting exercise is simply a start of things to come as they look to place themselves in a position to acquire big-named marquee free agent for the 2018 NBA season. As things now stand , I am not so sure if the Los Angeles Lakers are playing for pride and respectability or simply looking to “tank their season” altogether.

Say what you will for the Los Angeles Lakers, this organization ,but they’re either going to go down in flames or do their darndest to prove to others they are fighting.The Lakers’ counterparts and also residents at the Staples Center , the Los Angeles Clippers are not having the type of season many of their fans had expected. Doc Rivers is struggling to get this team to play with a great deal of imagination let alone intestinal fortitude . Chris Paul was the stabilizing force that made the team click, but with his departure they’re essentially back to the ways of old. Billionaire team owner Steve Ballmer spent $2.5 billion to purchase the franchise with the promise that he was willing to spend whatever it took to win an NBA title. The Clippers have fallen way short of that target , while the front office now seems incapable of making the necessary decisions needed to make them competitive.

Blake Griffin has now been entrusted to lead the Los Angeles Clippers and while he remains the team’s most potent offensive weapon , there is not a great deal to back him up . Doc Rivers has been given far too much latitude in the day-to-day running of the franchise, when he should essentially be concentrating totally on the playing staff and their preparations for each game . In their next contest the Clippers are set to face the Golden State Warriors on the road in a match-up to be played on the 10th January . This should provide Blake Griffin and his teammates with a true test and gauge themselves against the best team in the league.

Make no bones about it , this season everything will have to go through Golden State in terms of determining this season’s NBA champions . If the Warriors are to be challenged as a finalist, then expect their antagonist to be either the Boston Celtics or the Cleveland Cavaliers . Boston has proven this season, they’re more than a match for the Cavaliers, in spite of having been defeated by the Lebron James’ led team . The difference between the two teams , I firmly believe has come down to the play of the respective point guards’ , albeit that Isiah Thomas has only made his debut for the Cavaliers while Kyrie Irving has simply proven , when given the opportunity he can be so much more than just the quintessential point guard .

You’ve had your fun and now you’re on the verge of picking up the pieces. The Los Angeles Dodgers have become the whipping post for any team they tend to face during the postseason. That much has been particularly true since 2012, when the ball-club was purchased by Guggenheim Baseball Properties for over $2 billion . At some point, you have to wonder if the partners of the syndicate group might not spent that sum more wisely by purchasing perhaps an EPL (Premiership) soccer club or even an NFL franchise , were one up for grabs at the time? As profitable as the Dodgers are , their performances on the field during the postseason remain lackluster. The franchise’s last win of the World Series came in 1988 and their actual appearances since then have only provided them with once chance and as we know it all came to an abrupt end when they fell in stunning fashion to the Houston Astros .

Dave Roberts and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ managerial staff are so far behind the ‘eight ball’ , I am not so sure the manager still can provide the acumen needed to take the ball-club and the players over the hump. If the Dodgers are unable to compete this season, then all bets are off and the payroll will have to be reduced significantly, along along with the shedding of some under-performing players.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will go through their customary Spring Training Schedule before embarking on their regular season with a set of home games against divisional rivals the San Francisco Giants . The opening game will take place on the 29th March , 2018, the Official Opening Day for Major League Baseball for this year. The Dodgers have not been major players in the free agency market during the off-season to date. Having missed out on Giancarlo Stanton who opted to join the New York Yankees , there still remains the chance that they will seek out a productive slugger to add more offense to their lineup. Even with Andrew Friedman not being able to entice anyone to take an interest in acquiring Yasiel Puig , the Dodgers will still have a formidable lineup to start the season.

With the Los Angeles Dodgers having been so disappointing this past season , the upheaval within the New York Yankees’ organization was not totally unexpected. Joe Girardi was sent packing by the front office as the team’s manager and I was somewhat surprised that Brian Cashman wasn’t also sent on his way. Granted, he’s still thought of as an astute general manager, but it has been almost a decade since a team built on his acumen has been triumphant in the Fall Classic (World Series). Former Yankees’ favorite Aaron Boone has been brought in to succeed Joe Girardi and it will be interesting to see what Boone brings to the table by way of his own managerial acumen. This will be his first managerial position in the Majors and I seriously doubt there will be a great deal of patience by the fans should this team begin to struggle at any point during the season.

No longer the free-wheeling big spenders in recent years the New York Yankees have tapered off in terms of payroll, but having acquired Giancarlo Stanton , it could be said things are now back to the ways of old. Stanton has a substantial sum still remaining on his existing contract, which in part will be honored by the Miami Marlins as well as the obligations which will have to be fulfilled by the Yankees.

Expectations are high with the combination of Aaron Judge , Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton in this lineup for the New York Yankees. It certainly will be interesting to see if this team is capable of producing two players capable of hitting at least forty-home runs apiece, while driving in triple digit runs batted-in. Aaron Boone is being asked to turn around the fortunes of the New York Yankees and a great is expected of them this season , especially as they hope the win the AL East , a title that they last held in 2012 . That season the Yankees fell in the ALCS , losing out to eventual World Series’ losers the Detroit Tigers who were defeated by the San Francisco Giants in the postseason finale.

As competitive as we know the AL East to be, the New York Yankees’ toughest battles will be against their divisional rivals , most notably their perennial stalwarts the Boston Red Sox . Both teams will be vying for divisional supremacy as well as looking to dominate the other. Their regular and postseason battles have become synonymous with some of the greatest moments history between the two powerhouses of baseball. There’s a reason why they are among the most successful as well as valuable teams in all of baseball. The New York Yankees will begin their regular season with a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre in Toronto , Ontario , while the Boston Red Sox begins its regular season schedule taking on the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida on the same day, 29th March, 2018 . The Yankees are scheduled to meet the Red Sox nineteen times over the course of this season at home and on the road . Let’s up they can provide the type of excitement their fans have come to expect from such meetings.


 


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What do you believe were the most fascinating match-ups taking place within team sports during 2017? Do you believe that 2018 will be able to provide with the type of excitement seen last year ?

Tophatal ………


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