It’s Not Over Until The Fat Lady Sings …

It’s Not Over Until The Fat Lady Sings …

A game-seven will now be played in this year’s NBA Finals , providing the league hierarchy with the climactic and suspenseful finish they will be hoping for. Conspiracy theorists wherever they might be , will continue to question the veracity of the officiating and whether or not the league itself actually intervened at any point during the series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors . No matter what the outcome in the Finals . there will be questions asked which I doubt NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will proffer up a satisfactory answer ! Clearly the referees have shown their inconsistency throughout the NBA Playoffs and during the entire NBA Finals, in the lead-up to a series’ deciding game seven which will take place at the Oracle Arena in Oakland , California on June 19th , 2016.

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There was a great deal of frustration on the face of Steph Curry during game six , which resulted in the Warriors’ loss and Curry being ejected , having thrown his mouthpiece into the crowd during game-six played at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio on Thursday night. Golden State were outplayed and failed to get off to a fast start at the intent of Steve Kerr and the Warriors’ coaching staff . Sunday’s game could prove to be fateful if the defending NBA champions allow the Cleveland Cavaliers to dictate the pace of the game for its entire forty-eight minutes. Losing this game and their title would prove to be disastrous after such a sensational regular season for the Golden State Warriors. League record or not , the emphasis for the franchise was to make a successful defense of their title.

I do believe there is a great deal of merit to the claims , the NBA Playoffs have proven once again what we know to be true and it is the very fact, the hierarchy is unwilling to admit the officials are very poor and there seems to be a declining standard of the officiating talent among their on-court officials. The NBA Referees’ Union might believe this to be the contrary , but there seems to no denying the fact the league has a problem which it has failed to address over the past decade.

I’ll say this for the MLB season at this point of the schedule and it is the fact we have seen some stellar pitching from the starters and an abundance of offensive woes among several of the teams . No-hitters though not a rarity , have been seen already this season , but we have to see a perfect game . Offense from the players , has been somewhat sporadic, but in recent days we have seen Victory Martinez put on an amazing performance for the Detroit Tigers . Martinez set the trend which would lead to the Tigers’ most impressive performance of their season while leading the team to a victory over the Kansas City Royals , with the Tigers’ catcher hitting three home runs in the contest . The Detroit Tigers will be back in action on Friday when they face the Kansas City Royals in the resumption of their current series between these two AL Central combatants . Michael Fulmer will be on the mound for the Tigers as he faces the Royals’ Yordano Ventura in a match-up of two very good AL starting pitchers.

Give credit where it’s due , because even light of Jose Reyes having served a fifty-one game suspension for domestic violence and aggravated assault the Colorado Rockies are well within their right to rid themselves of the short-stop. Reyes has been designated for assignment , but will be hindered by the fact the player will be owed $40 million on the two remaining years of his existing contract . Playing sub.500 baseball the Rockies now find themselves sitting third within the NL West with a 32-33 record . Eight games behind the division leading San Francisco Giants (41-26) and three games out of a wildcard berth , the team over their last ten games are 8-2 . Yet within an un-competitive division, it simply isn’t good enough place them as a serious contender within their division.

The departure of Jose Reyes I certainly don’t believe will be on any great loss for the Colorado Rockies, given his lack of productivity since being acquired by the ball-club from the Toronto Blue Jays . Colorado has not reached the heights expected of the ownership group or their fan-base over the past ten years and it is becoming increasingly clear the management as well as the front office has become increasingly impatient with the lack of consistency and progress sought. The franchise’s farm system has talent , but there appears to be no one among their Minor League System capable of stepping up to the plate and leading by example. Among the Rockies’ starters it is already clear that has been the case , as seen with their play over the course of the season.

In the Colorado Rockies’ last game they they had an easy 6-3 victory over the struggling New York Yankees in a home contest played at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado on Wednesday evening . Walt Weiss and his Rockies’ managerial staff will prepare the team for a three-game weekend schedule against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark , in Miami Florida.. The first of the three contests will take place on Friday and Colorado will have starting pitchers Jon Gray of the Rockies facing Adam Conley of the Miami Marlins . Both of these teams are seeking to make an impact within the NL with an eye gaining a wildcard berth at least . It remains to be seen if either can make it a reality , but it will be interesting to see how things pan out at the end of the season.

Ichiro Suzuki has now amassed more than 4,000 career hits over the course of professional baseball career, but a large proportion of those hits took place while he played in the Japanese League . However, baseball’s hierarchy has seen fit accord Suzuki’s achievement of recently garnering his four thousandth two-hundred and fifty-seventh hit , accrediting as if it were an MLB career record . Now while it is an achievement within itself , it does not equate with what is still considered to be the legitimate record held by Pete Rose , whose 4,256 career hits which is seen as the all-time record. Rose may will still remain on the outside looking in as a pariah . Yet it does seem hypocritical of MLB to afford Suzuki this accomplishment and then overlook the career statistics put up by Hideki Matsui . Ichiro is still twenty-three hits shy of the 3,000 hits’ career plateau and would have to play another six more seasons to reach the league record set by Pete Rose in MLB (Major League Baseball) based on his current pace .

Only a game and a half out of the NL wildcard berth it has to be said the Miami Marlins have been one of the surprise teams in the NL this season. Yet from my own perspective , I do believe this Don Mattingly managed team will have to do a great deal more prove their detractors wrong in suggesting this group of players are not competitive enough to win a World Series title . The struggles of the Marlins have been there for all to see over the course of this season and I doubt things are likely to change anytime soon !

Something strange is happening in the state of Texas and it has nothing at all to do with the Dallas Cowboys . While year in year out great things are expected of the NFL franchise , you have to admit . it is always great to see the Cowboys’ repeated pratfalls , with Jerry Jones , the front office and their often injured quarterback Tony Romo continue to make the same old excuses for another poor season . The less news’ coverage to the Dallas Cowboys during the off and regular season , the better off we all are as sports’ fans. While the Cowboys wallow in self-pity and ridicule , the Texas Rangers are having a good season, leading the AL West and playing some solid baseball . Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels has shown a great deal of faith in Jeff Banister and his managerial staff this season while the Texas players have gone about their business with a great deal of professionalism.

Heading into their weekend series’ schedule of games Jeff Banister and the Texas Rangers will be seeking to increase their AL West divisional lead over their rivals by taking down the St Louis Cardinals , whom they will face at Busch Stadium , in St Louis , Missouri , with the first of those games taking place on Friday evening. Cole Hamels will be representing the visiting team when he faces Michael Wacha of the Cardinals.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the few teams in baseball who can continue to spend capriciously on talent while their apathetic and clueless fans wistfully believe the money is being well-spent and getting absolutely nothing in return . Dumping an ineffective veteran Carl Crawford made a great deal of sense given the fact the player was well past his prime and no longer seen as a leader. Utter stupidity by former GM Ned Colletti was simply one of the signs that this organization still remained in a quagmire after the sheer lunacy seen from former team owner Frank McCourt . The Dodgers’ financial troubles notwithstanding, in the four seasons since being acquired by a cabal of billionaire entrepreneurs , very little has changed with the mindset of the franchise. Common sense now seems to be prevailing with Andrew Friedman having been brought in to lead the Baseball Operations , while Farhan Zaidi was installed as the general manager.

Having to play catch up in a division where it was felt the Dodgers would be totally dominant this season , we are beginning to see a number of weaknesses on the roster . The team lacks consistency and have not been able to put together a winning streak of more than four games during their entire schedule at this point of the season. Over their last ten games heading into their current schedule the Los Angeles Dodgers are an abysmal 4-6 . On Friday night the Dodgers would be playing host to the Milwaukee Brewers with Julio Urias on the mound for the home team against the Brewers’ Zach Davies . Having lost their Thursday night meeting against Milwaukee , it is easy to see why the Dodgers are such an inconsistent team . There is some great young talent being developed within the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm system , but it will take time for that talent to prove to be effective long-term, in spite of what has been seen from Yasmani Grandal , Julio Urias and Corey Seager .

A great deal of pressure has been placed on the shoulders of Dave Roberts , with his having succeeded Don Mattingly as the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I believe Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi will continue to show faith in the manager and his staff , but I also feel should things continue to head South , then this entire lineup could be blown apart , rather than having to witness the Dodgers’ continued futility.

If a case can be made for the unexpected season the Chicago Cubs are now having , then this must be the year where the stars are in alignment and something special could very well happen. Then you remember these are the Cubs we are talking about , a franchise whose fortunes over the last e ninety-five years reads like a sob story , never mind delving into their postseason woes . Theo Epstein , GM Jed Hoyer and the entire Cubs’ front office and ownership now seem to be on the same page. Add in the fact the organization now has one of the best managers in all of baseball. A winning formula now seems to be in place with Joe Maddon and his managerial staff to go alongside a team of truly determined players eager to win.

The Cubs have simply been relentless throughout much of the season winning games with ease , throughout the months of April , May and now in the month of June . The team has a healthy 10 ½ game lead over their nearest divisional rival in the NL Central . A lead I might add, which is the biggest in all of baseball’s six divisions . The Chicago Cubs have to be seen as a shoo-in to not only win the division , but also a leading contender for the NL Pennant , solely based upon their record. One could allude to their play which is head and shoulders above all of the NL teams , if not the entire league . A weekend schedule which began yesterday will see the Chicago Cubs take on the Pittsburgh Pirates , another divisional rival . Friday’s result saw the Cubs annihilate the Pirates without their breaking sweat during in the game . Wrigley Field in Chicago will be the scene for today’s action when the two teams resume their schedule with Jonathon Niese on the mound for the Pirates against Jon Lester of the Cubs.

Current NL Cy Young Award winner and Cubs’ All Star Jake Arrieta is considered to be the best starting pitcher on Chicago’s daunting rotation . Arrieta is having an astonishing season , but while I believe him to be one the best pitchers in the National League , he has to be perhaps one or two tiers lower than Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers . This year’s NL Cy Young Award could very well come down to the achievements and consistency seen from both of these starting pitchers and I believe should they meet head to head at some point during the season, we could very well witness some of the best pitching to be seen anywhere within the game !

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With the final of the NBA Finals set for Sunday evening prime-time what do you expect to see from both teams and have you been completely satisfied by these contests throughout the series ? Furthermore with the MLB season having now played a quarter of the scheduled games have you been impressed by certain teams and which ball-clubs and players do you believe to have been the biggest disappointments to date ?

Tophatal ……….. 2016/06/17

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The wind beneath whose wings ……..

The wind beneath whose wings …

The NBA season is now in full swing and in the lead-up to the always important Christmas Day schedule , teams will certainly be looking to play with a great deal more consistency than with the initial start to their season.

Defending NBA champions the Golden State Warriors are certainly proving why they are the best team in the league and also have the best starting lineup by far. There is no other team in the NBA with greater depth and certainly they have the best head coach currently coaching in the game.

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Steve Kerr has experienced it all as a player , head coach and brought a sense of stability and intellect needed to a Warriors’ franchise , which it lacked under Kerr’s predecessor Mark Jackson . Add in the fact among the franchise’s front office , you have Jerry West as a consultant and an astute general manager with the acumen of Bob Myers and you can see why the Warriors remain ahead of the curve both on and off the court.

The same cannot be said for a litany teams around the NBA and that is with due respect to the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers , New York Knicks , Sacramento Kings , Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers , all of whom are simply bringing the NBA to its knees , if not lying on its back , prostrate. Simply look at their respective records within their divisions , conference and the league overall as a reason why they are and remain so bad.

When Joe Lacob and Peter Guber made the decision to buy the Golden State Warriors from former owner Chris Cohan, they sought to fix the problems often ignored by their predecessor and the front office.

Cohan, for his part , was often seen as an owner who simply didn’t care about the fate of the team during his tenure, just as long as he was able to share in the profits reaped not only by the team, but also the league in general. One has to remember , first and foremost the NBA as a brand is a major money-making business , which is presided over a group of executives whose major and primary concern has been to exact a degree of control over its brand , which makes it impossible for anyone to compete against them on any level.

The tyrannical rule seen under David Stern as the league’s commissioner, was one of complete authority, even if along the way there were buffoon-like decisions made along with a slew of mistakes and his even using race and gangster rap, as a selling point to market the NBA brand. Yet , I have been told countless times by a number of individuals , Stern was very good for the NBA. In reality, the former commissioner made use of Michael Jordan as the “tool” needed to sell the brand globally around the world . Now we are in the era of LeBron James and this league remains as popular as ever, even though there has been a marked decline in the quality of the play on the basketball court. In part , that could be down to the coaching and also the lack of real in-depth talent advancing from the college level over the past few years.

Adam Silver has succeeded David Stern as the NBA Commissioner and Silver looks to further the league’s ambition to expand beyond the North American continent. From my own perspective, while basketball might be one of the most popular sports in the world , second only to soccer. The league will be in for a hard sell in such places as Latin America , Western Europe and certain regions of sub-Saharan Africa. To date, the NBA’s most successful advances have been made in Europe and on the Asian continent , where in particular , China has been the league’s big success. A billion-plus consumers to be embraced and you cannot go wrong and then add in the fact the country’s biggest sporting export Yao Ming still remains popular in China, even after his retirement and you can understand why the NBA seeks to have its tentacles firmly around the globe. Something , I firmly believe the hierarchies of the NFL, MLB and NHL have failed yet to grasp, when it comes to marketing their brands on the global market.

The Golden State Warriors on their march to seeking a second consecutive NBA title have been blowing past opponents and leaving them in their rear view mirror. Reigning NBA League MVP Steph Curry , is having another banner year and his teammates are following his lead. Defensively, as good as they are , the Warriors can still get better and the question now on everyone’s lips , which team can inflict Golden State’s first loss of the season. At 22-0 , the Warriors are just eleven games away from equaling the longest consecutive winning streak in NBA history, a mark held by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. Another five-straight wins by Golden State would see them equal the second longest mark set by Miami Heat during the 2012-13 NBA season.

In their last game the Golden State Warriors in a contest , which pitted them against the Indiana Pacers . A home loss for the Pacers in a 131-123 defeat pushed Indiana’s record to 12-9 for the fifth best record in the Eastern Conference. The Warriors’ next game will see them on the road to face the Boston Celtics , where we are likely to see Golden State improve their road record as well as against another Eastern Conference opponent.

While the Golden State Warriors are being praised for their success this season , for the teams at the bottom end of the NBA and the continued ineptitude shown. I don’t know that a great deal more needs to be said about the play of the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers , Brooklyn Nets , New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. Ineptitude this season , shall we say, is the new normal ?

Brett Brown , head coach of the 76ers, is a franchise, which is bereft of talent on the court , but even more among so the coaching staff and front office . Having recently won their first game of the season , the Sixers can rest assured no one is really concerned what they do over the remainder of their schedule, much less the idiocy of those who believe GM Sam Hinkie is building something which will be of benefit to the franchise and their long-term future. This is the sort of prevailing idiocy which is now prevalent around the NBA, with the fans and analysts alike. Once, the several of these younger players (rookies) have fulfilled their contractual obligations with Sixers , I believe a number of them will be getting as far away from Philadelphia as fast as they can, without taking a look in their rear view mirrors !

Rajon Rondo may well be resurrecting his career with the Sacramento Kings , but the team will not be going anywhere at all this season. George Karl, as experienced a coach as he is, has to be provided with a team willing to play, one which plays with a great deal of zeal. Clearly not the case with Sacramento at home or on the road this season. A six-point victory over the Utah Jazz by the Sacrament Kings may well have provided the Kings with some respite momentarily but they will be in for something of a test when they face the New York Knicks at home on Thursday evening. For the New York Knicks, this will give the Derek Fisher coached team a chance to improve their record against Western Conference opponents. While there might be a great deal which the Knicks’ fans feel they can rejoice about , at this point of the season, with a 10-12 record within the East and 2 ½ games behind the eighth placed , Orlando Magic (12-9) , is not necessarily a great place to be for a franchise , where their fans as well as the front office believe the team is capable of making the NBA Playoffs this season.

LeBron James might well be considered the best player in the NBA since his entrance as the number one pick during the 2003 NBA Draft . The ensuing years have provided the fans with just about everything they expected and a great deal more. As LeBron seeks to guide the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA title, the player seems to be making all the right commercial moves off the court , while still making a considerable salary on the court. James’ signing of a lifetime $500 million contract , further enhances his viability as the NBA’s highest-profile and commercially viable marketing asset, the league currently has. The deal with Nike Inc, will push the player’s lifetime earnings in excess of $1 billion. If the rumors are to be believed then the player could be joining his personal icons Michael Jordan and Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson of becoming not only major sports’ icons , but also billionaire status .

The Cleveland Cavaliers have not proven to be as dominant as some believed they would be this season and already the team has suffered some rather embarrassing losses against opponents, which many felt were beneath them. Over their last six games heading into Wednesday night the Cleveland Cavaliers have posted 3-3 record , hardly emblematic of a team seeking to be the best within their conference. Granted, the Cavaliers do have the best record , but they have been far from dominant within the Eastern Conference. In their last game Cleveland had to overcome pesky Portland Trailblazers , who they defeated 105-100. Prior to that game, they lost a lopsided decision to the Miami Heat , while they were without LeBron James for the contest. The next game for the Cavaliers will see them take on the Orlando Magic at the Amway Arena , Orlando, Florida on Thursday , 11th December ,2015.

It would be fair to suggest there are no more than a handful of teams in the Western Conference likely to be able to derail the chances of the Golden State Warriors making a successful defense of their NBA title. Among those , I would count the Oklahoma City Thunder , Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs to be among the teams in question ! Of the three franchises mentioned , the Spurs with their depth might be the team capable of making that a reality. The fact that Gregg Popovich and RC Buford were able to pull of such a coup in acquiring both LaMarcus Aldridge and David West only adds to the fabled accomplishments of both executives .

San Antonio currently has the second-best record in the league and the conference behind the undefeated Golden State Warriors. Certainly, when these two teams meet in the first of their regular season meetings , it is likely to be one the games of the season and most definitely the game of the night, when this contests takes place. These two teams will meet four times times over the course of this season as part of their schedule, with those games being contested on the following dates, 25th January, 19th March, 7th April and the final meeting between the two taking place on the 10th April . Last season both the Warriors and Spurs put on an exhilarating display in each of the three games held as they sought conference supremacy .

Tim Duncan and his San Antonio Spurs’ teammates will next take to the court when they are due to face Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant having announced this will be his his last season in the NBA, will not be going out with a splash, but more so, on a somber note as the Lakers’ season is already imperiled due to the poor play by the entire roster and poor coaching of Byron Scott .

The only way is up , from here-on in concerning the Los Angeles Lakers, but I believe it is too steep a mountain which this franchise is incapable of climbing . simply because of the lack of intelligence shown by the team’s owners Jim and Jeanie Buss, while GM Mitch Kupchak remains clueless in his assessment of talent and how to put a competitive together. Six years on from their last NBA title triumph , the Lakers have labored in a pool of acrid mediocrity .

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What have you found to be the most impressive statistic witnessed at this point of the NBA season and do you believe the Christmas schedule will play a large part in what we could very well see over the remainder of the NBA schedule ?

🙂

Tophatal …………..

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Paint me a picture of the NBA this season

Paint me a picture of the NBA this season

The NBA regular season will begin with its usual customary splash . The defending champions the San Antonio Spurs will begin their defense of their title with pretty much the same core group of players and Finals MVP and now the fourth cog in their wheel Kawhi Leonard being a focal point of the Spurs’ lineup. With head coach Gregg Popovich also returning with his full lineup of assistant coaches it should prove to be eventful in seeing how the Spurs go about in winning the franchise’s sixth NBA title. Few teams have achieved the type of success attained by this franchise over the past two decades.

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The teams have already began their ritual of preseason exhibition games , with many having new lineups. With the departure of LeBron James from the Miami Heat to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers , it has created a seismic shift within the Eastern Conference , with a number of analysts now making the Cavaliers the prohibitive favorites for this season’s NBA title. Undoubtedly, with the addition of Kevin Love to the roster , Cleveland will have to be looked upon more favorably as one of the better lineups within the conference but as to their being the best team in the NBA , is open to great deal of debate and speculation among prognosticators and supporters of the franchise.

David Blatt , the new head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers , while being a proven commodity , he is simply another rookie head coach within the NBA this season. Blatt will find his task a tough one albeit , he has league’s best player available to him __ LeBron James, along with a good point guard , Kryrie Irving and one of the game’s best power forwards in Kevin Love.

There is a distinct feeling, with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs having begun their preseason schedules , the question now becomes , what type of seasons are the two teams likely to have? Age and experience would suggest the Spurs are not likely to be complacent and it is certainly not the way Gregg Popovich is known to approach a season . Cleveland are unbeaten through their preseason schedule . The team in their most recent overcame a tough Indiana Pacers’ team looking to reassert themselves after lackluster and disappointing postseason , where they fell to the Miami Heat —- in the Eastern Conference Finals . That series told us a great deal about the Pacers, specifically how mentally and physically soft the team was said to be as seen throughout the series against the Heat.

The San Antonio Spurs having started their exhibition season with a 1-2 mark with Tim Duncan , Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli playing sparingly during this preseason. Over an eighty-two game schedule, Gregg Popovich knows his players will be going through a rigorous season where fitness will of the utmost if they are to make a successful defense of their NBA title . San Antonio remains a team in its essence being able to play an uptempo game competing with the best in the league. In their most recent contest the Spurs were on the wrong side of a rather lopsided loss to the Phoenix Suns , albeit, that Popovich’s playing staff were under-manned with several players being sidelined for a number of reasons beyond the coach’s decision.

This upcoming season I expect the San Antonio Spurs to meet the challenges envisaged , that will likely come from the Los Angeles Clippers , Oklahoma City Thunder , Golden State Warriors , Portland Trailblazers and Houston Rockets . Of the aforementioned teams , I believe the Clippers , Thunder and Trailblazers are most likely to give he Spurs their toughest challenge over the course of their schedule ! With four games left on their preseason schedule , Gregg Popovich will hope to have his players in sync for their foray into the regular season , but first , a Saturday exhibition contest against their foes from the NBA Finals will be on the agenda , when they play hosts to the Miami Heat at the AT&T Center in San Antonio , Texas,.

The defending NBA champions will begin their season against the Dallas Mavericks in the first of several meetings between the two teams this season.

It has been astonishing to see the growth in Kevin Durant’s game since he entered the NBA , having been drafted by the Oklahoma City (Seattle Supersonics) . An NBA Finals’ appearance notwithstanding and the team’s demoralizing loss (4-1) to the Miami Heat has not quenched the player’s thirst for his first NBA title . Accolades asides , Durant quite possibly poses the only threat to LeBron James’ dominance of the NBA as the league’s best player . What could hamper the Thunder’s season is the loss of Kevin Durant for the first two months of the regular season , with the player being lost to the team , having suffered a broken right foot .

Scott Brooks and GM Sam Presti will now have to press forward in how the Oklahoma City Thunder will proceed without their All Star . If this team is to have any chance of succeeding this season then a great deal of responsibility will be placed upon the shoulders of Russell Westbrook , with the player likely to be asked to provide the leadership needed in the absence of his teammate.

If Westbrook can prove himself worthy of the role in leading the team it would go a long way in allaying the fears of Brooks and the coaching staff. As mercurial a player as Westbrook is known to be , he has yet to show the leadership abilities desired by the coach . However, Scott Brooks believes highly in the point guard in spite of the concerns raised by others , who believe his star something of a loose cannon. Russell Westbrook has proven to be a highly effective player in his role as a point guard. The combination of Durant and Westbrook when on court , they are one of the most productive tandems in all of basketball . It is that type of productivity which will be needed throughout the first two months of the season if the Thunder are to make some headway this season , while Kevin Durant is sidelined by his injury. Who steps up into the role to be the appropriate foil for Westbrook will be predicated on the desires of this team and the coaching strategies of the head coach.

Oklahoma will begin their regular season and opening night schedule with a game against the Portland Trailblazers on the 29th October, 2014. Contests between these two franchises have proven to be competitive and that was clearly the case last season with the Trailblazers surprising a number of analysts and fans alike with their resiliency and sense of purpose . Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts and his coaching staff know that last season’s exploits were no flash in the pan with the team coming away with a 54-28 record, good enough for a playoff berth , but their conference semi-finals’ loss to the San Antonio Spurs bore the hallmark of a team simply lacking recent postseason experience .

LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard are the two players who have led to the team’s ever improving play over the past two seasons . Of the teams I believe capable of making a legitimate run of winning not only their division but also with a chance gaining a playoff berth within the Western Conference this season, the Portland Trailblazers most definitely fit the bill ! This is a well-coached core group of players capable of playing at a high level on both ends of the floor .

A fifty-four win season in 2013 was definitely a sign of the Portland Trailblazers heading in the right direction. This season will be one , likely to prove to be a real test of wills for LaMarcus Aldridge , Damian Lillard , Chris Kaman , Dorell Wright , Robin Lopez , Steve Blake , Nicolas Batum and Will Barton .

The $2 billion sale price agreed to and paid by billionaire and former Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer , if anything signified how quickly the league hierarchy and owners wanted to rid themselves of Donald Sterling when the Los Angeles Clippers was purchased by Ballmer . The missteps of the NBA and sheer hypocrisy of the team owners was one of self-serving and complete embarrassment to the league. As to the apathy and idiocy of fans who tried to suggest while Sterling’s actions were inappropriate , it was not overly derogatory damaging to the NBA. Perhaps those very same idiots have not looked at the makeup of the league’s player personnel and the number of executives and members of the hierarchy who happen to be of an ethic background . The sheer incredulity and lack of action shown by David Stern and his successor Adam Silver after the repeated acts of Sterling , indicates their own naivete and willingness to show that the “old boys’ network “ is alive and well in the NBA along with its ongoing lack of real leadership and social awareness . Pragmatism and rhetoric cannot be used as an excuse for ignorance and the allowance of racial bigotry . Yet somehow , the NBA caught with their pants around their legs, with their dicks in their hands and idiots fans still cannot comprehend the magnitude of Donald Sterling’s inappropriate behavior .

Doc Rivers head coach , SVP & Head of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Clippers will be hoping , his team has an even bigger showing this season than witnessed in 2013 . Rivers has seen the growth in the Clippers , with the play of Blake Griffin , Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan , there is every belief this could be the year where the franchise makes an even bigger run in the NBA Playoffs and quite possibly to their first NBA title . Steve Ballmer for his part with an estimated $22 billion fortune has made it abundantly clear , no expense will be spared , as he seeks to bring a title to the franchise , while making the team the most competitive and star-laden in the NBA .

Ballmer’s willingness to make these bold statements, might well be his way re-imaging the franchise , while also seeking to upstage the Los Angeles Lakers whose misfortunes last season were well chronicled. As long as the Lakers are breathing as a franchise , the Los Angeles Clippers will always play second-fiddle to the city’s most beloved and renowned professional sports’ franchise. The Clippers may well struggle this season as they seek to become one of the Western Conference’s elite and more celebrated teams . The talent is certainly there , as to is the coaching , but it has been the complacency shown at the most inopportune of moments which have led to the team’s failures in recent seasons . This year Rivers will be looking to make even greater inroads in the playoffs than seen last year . The conference semi-finals’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder told us a great deal about the Clippers and the potential of the team during the NBA Playoffs .

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Chris Paul and his teammates will open up their regular season schedule with an opening night game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles against their semi-finals’ nemesis from last season the Oklahoma City Thunder . If their previous regular season meetings are anything to go by, then the fans will be in for a great treat over the course of this season.

There is no doubt in my mind four teams in the Eastern Conference will have a great deal to prove this upcoming season ! The Miami Heat , Chicago Bulls , Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks are the quartet of teams in question. Erik Spoelstra will lead a newly revamped roster into this season with team President Pat Riley eagerly looking on in anticipation . Riley’s missteps in part led to the Heat’s debacle the postseason , because of his reluctance to improve the lineup in order to assist LeBron James . As to this idiocy whereby , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade would come to James’ aid , only an idiot would actually subscribe to that notion given how poorly Bosh and Wade played during the playoffs . Sporadic and inconsistent, could best describe the play of both of these individuals during regular season , with their being little comfort in the fact Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were being handsomely rewarded for their endeavors and lack of real productivity .

I’ve no real wish to labor the issue of the Miami Heat being overrated during their regular season and the very fact , beyond LeBron James there was simply nothing about the team that would suggest they were capable of beating the San Antonio Spurs in this past season’s NBA Finals . Miami will begin its regular season sojourn knowing they are not likely to be the best team within the Eastern Conference

Derrick Rose considered to be back at full strength played his part in Team USA capturing gold at the FIBA World Cup in Barcelona, Spain. The Chicago Bulls will be hoping their All Star point guard will be able lead this team to another deep postseason run . Adding Pau Gasol gives them a veteran presence, but it must be noted Gasol is no longer the player capable of giving a team double-digit output , in terms of offense and rebounds . That much is clear after his final year with the Los Angeles Lakers last season. He will provide a wily veteran’s presence for the Bulls , but in large part the team’s success will be dependent on the form of Derrick Rose. It begins and ends with the determination of the point guard and his wish to rejoin the elite players within the NBA.

The one thing you can say about the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks and it is , both franchises will find a way to hog the NBA headlines. With their payrolls being among the highest in the NBA . There remains no real signs of intelligence or life within their respective front offices. Phil Jackson is now trying to resurrect a Knicks’ franchise still looking for its first title in almost four decades. Carmelo Anthony still remains with the Knicks , but his supporting cast appears to be an ill-matched set of cogs put together without a thought for competitiveness. Add in the fact a rookie head coach, Derek Fisher has been brought in to coach this lineup and you either have a recipe for disaster or the possibility of the New York Knicks surprising a number of fans and analysts alike.

Jason Kidd’s abrupt departure from the Brooklyn Nets says a great deal about Mikhail Prokhorov and his unwillingness to accede to Kidd’s wishes to be given a greater role within the organization . The fact of the matter became the former head coach’s belief he had a right to demand and dictate the player personnel decisions was an affront to the owner and GM Billy King whose responsibility it is for such decision making . Kidd’s primary role was that of being the head coach , a job which in part, he did rather haphazardly and at times showing a great deal of unsportsmanlike conduct and lack of respect in his role .

With a new coach in tow , Lionel Hollins and his coaching staff will be asked to make this team more competitive and to achieve what Mikhail Prokhorov believes to be a realistic goal of winning an NBA title . I believe the task beyond the Nets’ reach because there is simply no real depth to the lineup even with players such as Andrei Kirilenko , Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez on the roster . The question still remains , who among the players will step up to the plate and assume the vocal role as the Nets’ leader ? Garnett is well past his sell-by-date and his productivity is not what it once was. Deron Williams when healthy, is an extremely talented player , but that is all he is and will remain, talented , never a winner . Joe Johnson over the past four seasons has simply been robbing the Nets blind , while rarely stepping up to the plate .

Brooklyn, if they are to succeed this upcoming season they will have to overcome divisional and conference adversaries Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks within the Atlantic Division and from within the Eastern Conference, usual stalwarts the Chicago Bulls , Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers and the likely resurgent Cleveland Cavaliers. The first game on the Nets’ regular season schedule will be against the Boston Celtics at the TD Banknorth Gardens in Boston , Massachusetts,.

The NBA season itself should prove to be an exciting one , with the individual awards likely to be front and center , with Kevin Durant looking to defend his League MVP award. Elsewhere , among the rookies , Andrew Wiggins , Joel Embiid , Jabari Parker , Julius Randle , Aaron Gordon and Dante Exum will be looking to place their names on the Rookie of the Year Award . Michael Carter Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers won the award last season , where he was one of the main reasons why the Sixers had some semblance of success. Upheavals within the organization has seen Josh Harris become the managing partner , but the real problems still lies with the coaching staff and the overall makeup of the Sixers’ roster . A deliberate act or not , last season , during the later stages , it looked as Philadelphia was simply looking to “tank their season “ in order to avail themselves of a lottery pick . Unfortunately, the league hierarchy sees nothing wrong in the teams simply fraudulently taking the consumers for a ride, while selling a mediocre product to the fans and public alike being a major attraction.

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Picture gallery .

As the NBA season approaches which players are you most looking forward to seeing and which teams do you believe likely will be the main contenders for the NBA title ? Your comments as always are welcomed , appreciated and as always thank you for the continued support of this site !

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below

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(1) LeBron James(6) of the Miami Heat is helped off the court after cramping up against the San Antonio Spurs during Game One of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 5, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. Getty Images / Andy Lyons …

(2) LeBron James (6) and Dwyane Wade(3) of the Miami Heat celebrate after defeating the Indiana Pacers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 30, 2014 in Miami, Florida. Mike Ehrmann /Getty Images …

(3) Kawhi Leonard is seen here with San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich court-side during a regular season game. AP Photo / Adam Shelton …

(4)LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 18: Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and new owner of the Clippers Steve Ballmer, right, address the media after Ballmer was introduced for the first time during Los Angeles Clippers Fan Festival at Staples Center on August 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images..

(5) Jason Kidd seen here court-side during a game between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn , New York on the 27th November , 2013 . Getty Images/ Chris Powell …

(6) Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers is hoping to make an impact in his rookie season for the franchise . AP Photo / Miles Moore ..
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