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Tag: Kyle Korver

Justin Rowan: LeBron James Is “More Comfortable in His Own Skin”

Between injuries to J.R. Smith and Kevin Love and having to incorporate many new pieces, LeBron James and the Cavaliers have had a bumpier road this season than we’re used to seeing (Keith Allison/Flickr).

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Most listeners are aware that LeBron James has consistently guided his teams to NBA Finals appearances (six straight, to be exact), yet this season’s Cavaliers continue to be tested by a number of key injuries that threaten to derail their hopes of repeating as champions. Issues stemming from these injuries have resulted in the team’s recent mediocre play, as Eastern counterparts like the Wizards and Celtics angle for the No. 1 seed currently occupied by Cleveland. Justin Rowan of SB Nation’s Fear the Sword is here to break down those struggles and also illuminate how the Cavaliers can reasonably overcome them. In addition to LeBron James’ MVP case and the importance of the Kyle Korver acquisition, Justin speaks about Larry Sanders rumors, Tristan Thompson’s underrated contributions, J.R. Smith’s outsized role and more.

5:17-5:56: “[Larry Sanders is] definitely going to bring a lot of personality to the team, which can be a good thing. I think they have the right type of culture for that. They also have a history of dealing with players who have suffered with mental illness issues. Delonte West had some public issues with the Cavaliers and has talked recently about how LeBron is still a big part of his life and supporting him and helping him work through that. So having LeBron, who is familiar with having a teammate with those issues and what’s involved there, it could be a supportive situation for him.”

8:46-10:09: “It’s tough because…the extensive pre-game routine that [LeBron James] goes through, which is hours of physical preparation, if he doesn’t play at least 34 minutes, he views it as if he shouldn’t even have played at all. He views it as a waste for the all the preparation he goes through. Continue reading

KL Chouinard: Hawks “Have a Shot Against Cleveland”

KL Chouinard (right) interviewing Hawks SF Thabo Sefolosha.

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The Hawks’ season thus far can reasonably be separated into three segments: (1) a hot start, (2) a brutal 11-game stretch, and, finally, (3) the successful period Atlanta is currently enjoying. Kevin “KL” Chouinard, digital writer for the Atlanta Hawks  and host of the new ATL and 29 podcast, graces the show with his presence, discussing how Atlanta bounced back from its miserable late-November, early-December slump, the process of integrating free-agent addition Dwight Howard, Dennis Schröder’s excellent first season as a starting NBA point guard and how Paul Millsap serves as the glue that keeps the team together. Of course, many other opinions are rendered, including why this season’s Hawks actually stand a chance against the defending champion Cavaliers who swept them one postseason ago in the Eastern Conference semifinals (not to mention the sweep in the 2015 Eastern Conference finals). Below, sample some exhilarating episode excerpts:

5:15-6:06Kevin details the keys to Atlanta’s strong recent defense:

“What’s changed recently, compared to the 1-10 stretch, is they put Thabo Sefolosha in the starting lineup, and he’s really one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA…Millsap (is) playing more minutes with the starters and so that’s a much better defensive unit they’re using to start games. And it’s not perfect, because in opting for more defense, they’ve got less offense.”
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Pelicans Fly High, Knicks Knocked Down (Power Rankings: Jan. 6, 2017 Edition)

Former King Isaiah Thomas is excelling in his second season in Beantown, scoring an efficient 27.8 points per game as his Leprechauns rise up the rankings (Chrishmt0423/Creative Commons).

Life is not easy atop our power rankings. After all, the Spurs and Cavaliers each dropped a spot from the previous edition, and both look as dominant as ever. Blame the 3-point-launching Rockets, who have continued their ascent to the top of the league and now rank second. The Pelicans also impressed the panel, moving up seven spots from our previous list. On the other hand, the Knicks disappointed, falling six positions, one for each loss of their current skid.

Biggest Jumps: New Orleans Pelicans (+7), Atlanta Hawks (+4), Boston Celtics (+3), Charlotte Hornets (+3), Chicago Bulls (+3)

Biggest Falls: New York Knicks (-6), Denver Nuggets (-4), Washington Wizards (-4), Memphis Grizzlies (-4), Los Angeles Clippers (-4) Continue reading

Sam Vecenie: Celtics Should’ve “Taken Kris Dunn and Continued to Negotiate With Bulls, 76ers”

The New Orleans Pelicans selected Buddy Hield with the 6th overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft. (christopherm01/Flickr)

Vecenie likes Oklahoma Sooner Buddy Hield’s potential but sees specific room for growth  with the No. 6 overall pick (christopherm01/Flickr).

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The knowledgeable and passionate Sam Vecenie of CBS Sports checks in to review the 2016 NBA Draft. He discusses the uniquely unpredictable nature of the picks, No. 1 overall selection Ben Simmons, Buddy Hield’s pairing with Anthony Davis in New Orleans, the under-appreciated Malcolm Brogdon and so much more.

6:28-7:02: “All of those players [within the four respective tiers] were essentially interchangeable. That got difficult. This draft was so unpredictable. I don’t even know how it even got to where it got to. I don’t know how we ended up with Giorgios Papagiannis going 13th overall, Thon Maker going 10th overall. There were so many surprises, even going outside of the tier ranking system. There were just so many shockers. Guershon Yabusele at 16. It was a weird night.”

9:28-10:59: “(Drafting and stashing) certainly shook up the first round in a lot of ways. The thing with all these international kids is that none of them really wanted to be stashed outside of a few of them. So, basically, the reason you saw (Guerschon) Yabusele go 16 – he’s willing to be stashed in all likelihood…The factor that all of these teams had multiple picks, and the factor that everyone kind of thinks this draft sucks in terms of domestic prospects made teams going into this uncertain free agency period want to say, ‘OK, we want to keep our rosters as clean as possible and have as few of these guys over here now as possible,’ so I think that that’s where you saw quite a few stashes come into play.”

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The Hawks’ Tall Task Against the Cavaliers Featuring Lang Whitaker, Jacob Rosen

Jeff_Teague_Hawks

Jeff Teague, a possible x-factor for the Hawks in this series, struggled with his shooting in Game 1 against the Cavaliers. (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)

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Although the Hawks put a mighty scare into the Cavaliers after storming all the way back from 18 down, Cleveland ultimately hung on to take the series opener. In a tantalizing rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, our crack guests lead us through this iteration’s nuances. Checking in for the Hawks is Atlanta sports expert and NBA.com writer and podcaster Lang Whitaker. And out of Akron, Ohio, we have Jacob Rosen, who’s an MBA student at the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. Rosen’s also a longtime sports analytics writer for Hardwood ParoxysmNylon Calculus and Waiting for Next Year. Excerpts below:

Lang Whitaker (5:07-5:23): “[Kent] Bazemore’s a little bit more dynamic offensively than DeMarre [Carroll] was last year. There’s that saying ‘The best defense is a good offense.’ I think if you make LeBron work a little bit harder on that end, maybe that helps you in the long run as well.”

LW (5:25-5:45): “[Coach Mike] Budenholzer was trying a lot of different things. He had one lineup where Paul Millsap was playing center, where he went really small. I think he has a little more versatility with [Thabo] Sefolosha being healthy. He can go to these lineups where there’s two or three small forwards in there at the same time.”

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The Still Undefeated Warriors and the Aesthetically Pleasing Hawks

Reigning MVP Stephen Curry has managed to add 9.8 PPG to last season's scoring average as his team sits pretty at 14-0 (Noah Salzman/Wikimedia Commons).

Reigning MVP Stephen Curry has managed to add 9.8 PPG to last season’s scoring average as his team sits pretty at 14-0 (Noah Salzman/Wikimedia Commons).

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Despite Aaron’s absence, Joshua and Loren revisit the Hawks conversation that began with Lang Whitaker earlier in the week. We touch upon Atlanta’s mounting injuries and how those might impact such a well-balanced Hawks squad even more than a typical star-centric team. Although new acquisition Tiago Splitter might not be garnering too many minutes in the early season, we talk about the types of contributions he can make come playoff time.

In the second segment, we reflect on the Warriors’ exhilarating comeback Thursday night against the Clippers. The Dubs’ small lineup of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green has been killing teams in their limited minutes together so far. Should that unit be utilized more? And how integral is the team’s second MVP, Draymond Green? Finally, despite the embarrassing national TV loss, Joshua details what encouraged him about the Clippers’ performance Thursday.

Music: “Who Likes to Party?” by Kevin MacLeod

Lang Whitaker: Schroder’s “Got a Lot of Swag”

Lang Whitaker (left) repping the "A" with fellow hoops writer Rembert Browne (@rembert/Instagram)

Lang Whitaker, left, repping the “A” with fellow hoops writer Rembert Browne (@rembert/Instagram)

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After Jeff Teague’s ankle injury, the Atlanta Hawks have been on a bit of a slide, dropping three straight to the Nets, Jazz and Timberwolves. However, they did begin the season winning eight of 10. This week, devout ATLien Lang Whitaker, who writes and podcasts at NBA.com, joins us on our show to talk about the Hawks, who are seeking an encore performance to their memorable 60-win season from a year ago despite being overlooked coming into the season.

Notable sections include:

6:30-8:15: On Millsap’s sometimes understated impact on the team: “I thought last year, he was the most important player on the Hawks’ team. That shoulder injury he had right at the end of the regular season, he just never looked right to me in the postseason, and I thought that had as much of an effect as anything else did with the Hawks not doing well against Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals.”

9:25-10:30: Lang waxes poetic about Dennis Schroder’s potential and how he’s evolving: “He does a lot of stuff that I think he doesn’t know he’s not supposed to be able to do. He has a confidence that makes him a problem for other teams. Athletically there’s nothing he can’t do… He’s too young to know any better, and that’s what makes it fun to watch ‘cuz you never know what he’s gonna do. He’s got a lot of swag. He’s only 22. He’s going to be really good for a really long time in the NBA.”

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