The Ball Is In Your Court ….

The Ball Is In Your Court ….

We’re not yet a month into the NBA season and already there has been a coaching dismissal within the league when it was announced that the Cleveland Cavaliers fired Tyronn Lue from his position as the Head Coach of the franchise . Lue had coached the Cavaliers to the 2016-17 NBA Finals . Cavaliers’ team owner , billionaire Dan Gilbert and team General Manager Koby Altman have named Larry Drew as the Interim Head Coach for the rest of the season.

Six games into this season and the Cleveland Cavaliers are win-less , with the worst record in the league. Granted , the departure of LeBron James , with his joining the Los Angeles Lakers would definitely leave a gigantic chasm within the organization. Yet at the end of the day, poor decisions made by the front office has led to this debacle. It remains to be seen how the Cavaliers will seek to dig themselves out of this hole , especially as the team enters the Christmas schedule, the play tends to dictate what we would should expect over the remainder of the season.


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The next game up for the Cleveland Cavaliers will see them face the Denver Nuggets , one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference at this point of the season. That match-up will take place on the 1st November at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio , where the Cavaliers are win-less .

With all of the bally-hoo that surrounded LeBron James’ arrival in Los Angeles, with his joining the Los Angeles Lakers. You would have thought that the whole world was about to fall off its axis. Lakers’ fans were replete with their new jerseys bearing James’ name and number. The thinking was , with James’ signing with the franchise , a slew of free agents would be willing to join him as well. It didn’t happen and if you think that Rajon Rondo is going to provide the Lakers with the offense they need, then think again. Rondo’s best years are behind him rather than ahead of him. Coached by Luke Walton , the Los Angeles Lakers have stumbled out of the gate , performing like a team lacking in direction. I understand that it will take time for LeBron James to acclimatize himself to his new surroundings , but his teammates have hardly made their presence felt at all this season.

Next up for the Los Angeles Lakers will be a game against the Dallas Mavericks at the Staples Center , in Los Angeles , California on Wednesday , 31st October. There have been rumblings with the Lakers having begun the season so languidly , calls for the firing of Luke Walton as the Head Coach have been on the rise. I seriously doubt that Magic Johnson , Head of Basketball Operations or GM Rob Pelinka would consider Walton’s dismissal at this juncture.

The Milwaukee Bucks are the only remaining team in the NBA who have yet to lose a game. Led by their All Star, Giannis Antentokounmpou , this is a team where there are great expectations for this season. . With the lineup that the Bucks have and the coaching ingenuity being shown by Mike Budenholzer , there is a very good chance this team could very well make the NBA Playoffs .

All teams will have to go through the Golden State Warriors , if it’s their belief that they have what it takes to win the NBA title for this season. Now while Los Angeles Lakers’ fans believe they will have a say within the Western Conference, they have done nothing at all to convince me that they can compete with the best that the conference has to offer. Klay Thompson might not be the best player on the Warriors’ roster , but anywhere else he might be among the top-two players on any other franchise within the NBA . Thompson chalked up another franchise and personal best in a recent game for the Warriors when he recorded fourteen three-pointers made in a match-up
against the Chicago Bulls , who appeared to be a completely listless team .

I have no doubt in my mind the Golden State Warriors are by far the best team in the NBA and their only chance of not making a successful defense of their title will come through their own complacency !

Well we’ve reached the halfway point of the NFL season and the trade deadline is about to come into play. Yet the main news’ story within the league , has been the dismissal of Hu Jackson as the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns along with offensive coordinator Todd Haley . Gregg Williams has been made the interim Head Coach until the end of the season and could parlay the gig if he is able to lead the team to moderate finish and standing in the NFL by season’s end. Baker Mayfield who was the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft as well as the top quarterback taken , has performed inconsistently through no fault of his own. On defense as well as offense the Browns have been abysmal all season long. Suffice to say, if they don’t end up with the worst record in the NFL , then once again they could be assured of having another top-five pick in the next NFL Draft.

With a record of 2-5-1 , at least the Cleveland Browns are assured of bettering last season’s mark within the NFL. Next up for the Browns in week nine , they will face the Kansas City Chiefs (7-1) in a game that should prove to be very entertaining. Victory for the Chiefs assures them of clinching their division as well as a postseason berth within the AFC .

It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to suggest that Eli Manning is now treading water as it relates to his career ? Two Superbowl victories are > accommodating when padding out his career achievements, but over the last four seasons , Manning has been nothing more than a moderate quarterback at best. His and that of the New York Giants’ record for this season (1-7) is truly reflective of a really bad team on its very last legs. Odell Beckham has proven to be just a player known for spectacular one-handed catches , but when it comes showing leadership and maturity, he is nowhere to be seen . Giants’ Head Coach Pat Shurmur is on the ‘ hot seat’ and it seems unlikely he will be returning next season , given the lack of success seen this season. The New York Giants are in need of an upgrade across their entire roster.

When the Pat Shurmur prepares his team for their next outing let’s hope that the New York Giants’ performance is a great deal better than their last five games combined. The team will be facing conference rivals the San Francisco 49ers in a game where a victory is certainly needed by both teams.

While the Philadelphia Eagles caught everyone by surprise
during
the postseason of 2017 on the way to the franchise’s
first Superbowl victory. This season the team has fallen back to earth with a colossal thud. They’re barely competing within the NFC East , perhaps the most overrated division in all of football. . The only team with a winning record in the division are the Washington Redskins (5-2) as they head into week nine of the regular season. Doug Pederson will prepare the Eagles to face the Dallas Cowboys in week ten of the schedule , while the Redskins will be in action against the Atlanta Falcons during week nine .

The runaway leaders within the NFC are the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams (8-0) led by their quarterback Jared Goff , whose talents have been on display throughout much of this season for his team . Jared Goff has led the Rams to an eight-game unbeaten streak by far the best in the league this season as the team has the best record in the NFL. Goff’s teammate Todd Gurley might well be the runaway leader in the first half of the season for League MVP . His all-round contributions for the Rams have been impressive to say the very least. I fully expect the Los Angeles Rams to extend their winning streak to nine games when
they face the New Orleans Saints (6-1) on Sunday afternoon . This is likely to be one of the better contests taking place in the NFL that afternoon.

I’ve always maintained that with the death of Al Davis , the Oakland Raiders would never be the franchise where there would be a constant interest in . That has rang true with his son Mark Davis taking over the reins of the franchise with Reggie McKenzie still in charge as the General Manager. Unfortunately their luring Jon Gruden out of retirement hasn’t worked wonders for the Raiders this season . Bear in mind Gruden was offered a ten-year $100 million deal , making him the highest coach in the NFL . A 1-6 record at this point of the season , with the Raiders having one of the worst defenses in the league and you can well understand why there might be clamoring for something drastic to take place among the team’s lineup .

If Jon Gruden is building for the future then , it doesn’t bode well for the Oakland Raiders then his track-record should be seen as a warning sign. During his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well as his earlier stint with the Raiders, he has never drafted or developed a player of real note. All the optimism in the world among the franchise’s fans cannot hide the fact that this was an erroneous in the hiring of Jon Gruden. The coach will now have to muster the masses as he seeks to get the Oakland Raiders’ second win of the season when this team takes on the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night .

It might well have been the most lopsided World Series in the last decade, with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1-4) falling to the Boston Red Sox (4-1) with the utmost of ease. All of the money spent by the franchise on players since 2012 , has been well in excess of $1.6 billion and then you factor in the $2.2 billion paid by the ownership group to purchase the franchise. You simply get the feeling that there’s been more waste expended by the club than was needed. The lone factor of hope out of this all might well be that the Dodgers’ front office might have solved a glaring need when they obtained Manny Machado in a trade from the Baltimore Orioles. Machado and Walker Buehler were the only bright spots for the Dodgers through much of the postseason.

With Clayton Kershaw now said to be considering opting out of his contract , which still has two years left on one of the most expensive deals in baseball history . It would be foolish if the Los Angeles Dodgers were to allow Kershaw to leave , but at the same I can truly understand the player’s frustration with their continued lack of success during the postseason. They’re unable to play as a team and there sure as hell isn’t any leadership to be found anywhere among the players let alone among the managerial staff of Dave Roberts .

What if anything do you believe has been the most riveting piece of sports’ news of the past two weeks and please state your reasons why ?

Tophatal 10/31/2018……..

NBA news ..

NBA standings (divisional)

NBA standings (conference)

NBA schedule 31st October

NBA schedule for the month of November

NBA players’ stats

NFL news

NFL standings (division)

NFL week nine

NFL transactions
……..

MLB news

……..


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Not Here To Be Anyone’s Stepping Stone ….

Not   Here  To  Be  Anyone’s  Stepping   Stone

So here   we  are  in the lead-up to  the  Christmas   schedule  of the      NBA     season  and   all  is  not  necessarily  well  for  a  number  of     teams around  the  NBA.    Reigning  NBA champions  the Golden   State   Warriors  are  the  best  team  in  the  league ,  even  if  their   present  record  doesn’t     reflect  that.   Until  they’re knocked  off their pedestal  then  they will  remain  the  bar  against   who everybody  else will  be  judged.   LeBron James remains  the  league’s best  all-round  player ,  albeit   that  the Cleveland   Cavaliers  are  now   having   some  teething issues  concerning  their  lineup.   Head coach   Tyronn  Lue  has  yet  to    figure   out  his   best   starting   lineup   among  his  team  of  highly  touted  stars. The Cavaliers themselves  have already   faced stern tests against some strong opponents early on in their schedule.


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Slide show.

Up next for the Cleveland Cavaliers will be a game against the Indiana Pacers on Friday 8th December, 2017. I’ve no doubt that the Cavaliers will be around for the NBA Playoffs, but I do believe this team might not be equipped to handle the improvement seen in several of their conference rivals if the Playoffs were to start today. While the Boston Celtics continue to take the league by storm , I am beginning to wonder if this Brad Stevens’ coached team are meant to be the real deal. Kyrie Irving is proving to be a force to be reckoned as he inspire the teammates around him. I do believe he has become a difference maker for the Celtics and I expect Boston to be more than an adequate match for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston’s bench has complemented the lineup and it might be among one of the many reasons they are so good this season. .

Brad Stevens will prepare his team for their next game when the Boston Celtics face the San Antonio Spurs on the road this Friday evening. This should prove to be one of the best games of the night on the schedule. I truly believe Brad Stevens is the best young coach in the NBA and his learning curve has vastly improved since he became the head coach of the Boston Celtics . GM Danny Ainge struck gold with his choice of hiring the former Butler coach.

I was once told that the Los Angeles Clippers were considered a legitimate contender for the NBA title during the tenure of Donald Sterling’s owning the franchise. Considering the Clippers’ playoff appearances were sporadic , I believe those claims were laughable to say the very least. This season the Clippers have struggled and the departure of point guard Chris Paul has left a massive vacuum on the roster . Head coach Doc Rivers and his coaching staff are at a loss to explain the Clippers’ poor record and it has become a talking point around the league. Over their last twelve games the Los Angeles Clippers have not been competitive at all and it paints a poor picture of a franchise now on the decline. There could be some drastic changes being made to the Clippers’ lineup if this team finds itself completely out of the playoff race by the trade deadline . Rivers and key members of the front office will have some decisions to make which would have some long-lasting and serious repercussions for the franchise moving forward. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are carrying this team but it’s clearly not enough given the dire circumstances they now face. .

In their next game the Los Angeles Clippers are due to face the the Washington Wizards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on the 9th December , 2017.

Carmelo Anthony has been a scoring champion in the NBA , two-time Olympic gold medalist , multi-time NBA All Star , but the one thing lacking on his resume’ are is an NBA championship ring. His tenures in Denver with the Denver Nuggets and then the New York Knicks has brought little personal or team success for the seasoned veteran. Having been acquired by the Oklahoma City Thunder the player seems to be more of a liability instead of being an asset for the team . Barely over .500 , with Paul George , Russell Westbrook and Anthony as part of the lineup it is almost inexplicable to explain the reasons why the team is failing. If it is not Billy Donovan and his coaching staff at fault , then the responsibility lies with the lackluster performances of the players themselves. Other than Russell Westbrook not one player on the roster is among the league’s top-twenty scorers in the NBA .

If the Oklahoma City Thunder are not in a position to challenge for a playoff berth by April then their chances of actually making an appearance is likely to diminish even more so. For the moment this Billy Donovan coached team will have to take it one step at a time , one day at a time. Up next for the Thunder will be a game against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday evening.

Say what you will, but LaVar Ball is certainly making a name for himself on the national pages of the nation’s papers as well as on the sports’ pages . Ball Sr has been in the midst of a spat with President
Donald Trump
and his playing a part in the release of his son, LiAngelo Ball a player with the UCLA Bruins’ basketball team. LiAngelo and two other teammates were arrested by Chinese authorities , after the trio were caught stealing from three department stores in Beijing , China. The Bruins program was in China as part of a goodwill gesture and to take part in a local tournament. The incident caught everyone off-guard, including the State Department , Athletics Department of UCLA , much to the embarrassment of the President and his entourage. In the aftermath of the players’ release , with the help of the US Embassy in the Chinese capital and officials of the State Department . It has to be said that LaVar Ball has not sought to reprimand his son for his felonious behavior. He has seen fit to be critical of the university , after they made the decision to suspend him indefinitely , but the patriarch has since decided to remove his son from UCLA altogether. LiAngelo Ball’s academic future doesn’t seem all that bright and I seriously doubt that he would be accepted by a Division 1 program or for that matter a D2 program in the NCAA . In all likelihood, any ambitions of being seen as a high draft pick in the 2018 NBA Draft will be placed on the back-burner . .

LaVar Ball’s eldest son Lonzo Ball is now making a name for himself in his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers . As things now stand , Lonzo and teammate Kyle Kuzma might be the only bright spots on a team still learning the ropes under their sophomore head coach Luke Walton . Over their last eight games the Los Angeles Lakers are a mediocre 2-6 and the teething pains are there for all to see. . It will be interesting to see how the this team maneuvers their Christmas schedule as this becomes one of the most pivotal times of the NBA regular season. Lonzo Ball and his teammates will next be in action when they face the Charlotte Hornets in a road game this Saturday (9th December).

A great deal is expected of the Houston Rockets this season and James Harden is simply looking to prove that his performances of last year as no fluke . Harden leads the league in scoring at this point of the season and his productivity for the Rockets has been scintillating to say the very least . The addition of point guard Chris Paul to the roster has been added bonus for head coach Mike D’Antoni and the franchise’s new owner , billionaire entrepreneur Tillman Fertitta .

I expect the Houston Rockets to be among the movers and shakers within the Western Conference this season and they are certainly one of the biggest threats to the continued dominance of the Golden State Warriors. These two teams are likely to be among the top contenders for the conference title at the end of this season if last season’s competitiveness was anything to go by. While many believe James Harden was a worthy candidate for League MVP and the fact he lost out to Russell Westbrook by a slim margin was a clear indication as to how good both players were over the course of last season .

James Harden could very well end up being this season’s League MVP if he continues at his current pace , though not yet matching the feats of last season. He’s clearly one of the most dynamic players in the league today , even if his defensive capabilities do come into question. Harden and the Houston Rockets have an upcoming game against the Portland Traiblazers which will be a Western Conference road match-up .

Steph Curry , Kevin Durant and the members of the Golden State Warriors might not be setting a blistering pace at present but if there’s one thing clear with or without either of their two big stars , this team remains among the best in the NBA . I am not about to suggest the two are interchangeable concerning the lineup , but in all honesty, any doubters of the Warriors are not that intelligent. Golden State will not be in action over the weekend, but the Warriors will return to the court on Monday night to face the Portland Trailblazers at home.


 


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At this point of the NBA season, which team has impressed you the most and which do you believe has been the biggest disappointment ?

—–

NBA   news

  NBA    divisional  standings 

NBA schedule 7th December

This month in NBA history

  Tophatal    ….. 12/07/2017

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