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Tag: Dion Waiters

Miami Is Seriously Heating Up (Power Rankings: Feb. 6, 2017 Edition)

In his first season in Miami, Dion Waiters is playing an outsized role in the Heat’s active 10-game winning streak (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

Up is down and down is up in this tumultuous edition of the power rankings, which features the most movement of any edition so far, with mighty teams struggling and lowly teams rising up. The Cleveland Cavaliers, still the consensus pick to come out of the Eastern Conference, went just 7-8 in January, giving LeBron James his first losing month since his rookie year. The Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets, both in last edition‘s top five, have lost eight of 11 and eight of their last 14, respectively. Even the seemingly unstoppable Golden State Warriors, who have occupied the No. 1 spot in our rankings every single edition except for our first, have dropped games since last edition to the Miami Heat and the Sacramento Kings.

On the other side, the Washington Wizards were just 13-16 before Christmas and have since gone 17-4, steadily climbing up the Eastern Conference standings to the third seed, and up our rankings to fourth. The Dallas Mavericks, at one point dead last in our rankings, have won six of their last seven games, their one loss coming to the Miami Heat. And finally, the twice-aforementioned Heat, unquestionably the NBA’s biggest story right now, were 11-30 and 29th in our previous power rankings, before rattling off 10 straight wins, a streak that is still active. These are some exciting times in the NBA.

Biggest Jumps: Miami Heat (+15), Washington Wizards (+8), Dallas Mavericks (+8)

Biggest Falls: Philadelphia 76ers (-8), Milwaukee Bucks (-8), Toronto Raptors (-8) Continue reading

Josh Baumgard: Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow “Is the Key to the Whole Season”

Expectations for 20-year-old forward Justise Winslow are soaring. Can he live up to them in 2016-17 (Erik Drost/Creative Commons)?

Expectations for 20-year-old forward Justise Winslow are soaring. Can he live up to them in 2016-17 (Erik Drost/Creative Commons)?

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In the first team-focused interview of the season, Slice Miami’Josh Baumgard makes On the NBA Beat history by becoming the first guest to appear three times, and the third time was certainly a charm (as were the first two). In this Miami Heat-themed episode, he gushes about the monstrous numbers Hassan Whiteside has the potential to post as the focal point of Miami’s offense. Baumgard also waxes nostalgic and practical about the ramifications of Dwyane Wade’s departure after 13 seasons as the franchise cornerstone. Plus, along with a range of other timely topics, he explains how Miami’s already stout defense can be even stronger this upcoming season. Scan some scorching excerpts below:

2:58-3:10 As the episode title suggests, second-year wing Justise Winslow will make or break Miami’s season, according to Baumgard: “I think he’s the key to the whole season. I think he’s the difference between whether they’re gonna be a 35-win team or a 45-win team. You’ve got to see some offensive improvement out of him, and I think with the increased role he’s ready for it.”

5:50-6:22 “That’s gonna be huge, because if he can develop a consistent jump shot, the defense is gonna play closer to him; that’s gonna open up driving lanes. And as we saw in the preseason, he’s a pretty good ball handler and he’s a very underrated passer. I think he can find guys in the corner for those open 3s, so, again, I think it goes back to Winslow. If he’s able to create some offense behind Goran Dragic, it’s gonna ease the burden on them scoring, because they’re likely not gonna be a great offensive team, but if they’re at least better than average, I think that bodes really well for their playoff chances.” Continue reading

Marina Mangiaracina: Thunder “Need Roberson Out There to Stop Klay” in Game 7 vs. Warriors

Foul trouble limited Andre Roberson to 29 minutes in Game 6, as Klay Thompson erupted for 41 points (Erik Drost/Creative Commons).

Foul trouble limited Andre Roberson to 29 minutes in Game 6, as Klay Thompson erupted for 41 points (Erik Drost/Creative Commons).

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Despite Oklahoma City’s Game 6 collapse and squandering of a 3-1 series lead, Welcome to Loud City‘s Marina Mangiaracina explains why the Thunder stand a legitimate chance of upsetting the mighty Golden State Warriors in a decisive Game 7. Her prescription? Lots of minor adjustments, which include extra shots for Dion Waiters and Serge Ibaka, smarter defensive switching and Andre Roberson logging more court time to help counteract Klay Thompson’s explosive scoring. Below are some noteworthy excerpts:

1:59 –2:26: “I think the No. 1 key is getting more shots for Serge Ibaka and Dion Waiters. Waiters had about the same amount of shots (in Game 6) – five or six – that (Andre) Roberson and (Steven) Adams had, and given his offensive abilities, it’s an embarrassment that he’s getting so few opportunities…(Kevin) Durant and (Russell) Westbrook were just taking too many bad shots. When you move the ball around more, it helps out.” Continue reading

Down Goes Durant, the Combustible Kings and Kawhi Wait for Superstardom

This season, Kawhi Leonard has shouldered much of the Spurs' scoring load in addition to playing tenacious defense (Mark Runyon/BasketballSchedule.net)

This season, Kawhi Leonard has shouldered much of the Spurs’ scoring load in addition to playing tenacious defense (Mark Runyon/BasketballSchedule.net)

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In this action-packed episode, the guys reflect on the state of the Oklahoma City Thunder, particularly given Kevin Durant’s hamstring strain. Later, the trio celebrates the emergence of 24-year-old Kawhi Leonard as a bona fide offensive star and explores what in the hell is going on in Sacramento these days. Should George Karl lose his job this early in the season? Can the damage be undone? The OTNB boys are on the case.   

Music: “Who Likes To Party” by Kevin MacLeod

Chuck Chaney: Thanks to Billy Donovan, the Thunder’s Best Player Is Russell Westbrook

Chuck Chaney, left, with Tulsa Shock head coach Fred Williams

Chuck Chaney, left, with Tulsa Shock head coach Fred Williams

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Following Tuesday’s win over the Wizards, we caught up with Chuck Chaney of ThunderObsessed.com to discuss the current state of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Chuck is encouraged by the increased space new coach Billy Donovan’s system has afforded the offense, but he’s wary of the Thunder’s lack of defensive intensity. It’s still “extended training camp” for this team and coach, Chuck asserts, but they won’t be a championship contender if they can’t find a way to defend.

Some notable sections include:

5:30-6:00: Interviewing Scott Brooks “was like talking to a wall, and the paint’s drying,” given that he was fond of using “Thunder speak.” Conversely, Billy Donovan is a “refreshing” personality, at least from a media perspective.

6:30-6:55: “Donovan really emphasizes that extra pass,” allowing Westbrook and company to flourish. “He (Westbrook) is the best player on this team because of Billy Donovan right now.”

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