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Tag: LeBron James (page 1 of 2)

Eric Nehm: “Giannis Is a Kobe-Level Lunatic”

Giannis Antetokounmpo, 22, ranks second in the NBA in points per game (29.7), notching nearly two-thirds of those from inside the paint (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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Since the Milwaukee Bucks took Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, he’s shown tremendous growth as a basketball player, both literally and figuratively. This season, he has planted his name firmly within the MVP conversation, even if casual fans still have trouble pronouncing it. To guide us through this episode wholly devoted to the Grecian phenom, we’ve brought on Eric Nehm, Bucks beat writer for ESPN Milwaukee and cohost of the Locked on Bucks podcast. Eric explains how Giannis’ humble upbringing, laser-like focus and basketball obsession have all contributed to his nearly unprecedented development from a lanky, unknown draftee into the all but unstoppable force he is today. Get a sneak peek of our conversation about the Greek Freak this week with these excerpts (time stamps approximate because of tailored advertisements):

10:10-11:20: “There was a part of me that kind of didn’t love it [Giannis’ nickname] at the start, just because I think ‘freak,’ the connotation of freak, there’s something wrong with you, there’s something to be ashamed about. Because I guess at some point I thought he was going to fit into a prototypical kind of archetype of an NBA player. That hasn’t happened. He is a total anomaly, so calling him something not normal? Yeah, that works out…There’s not anyone else really out there like him, so I think ‘Greek Freak’ works and it fits, and it’s ended up being kind of perfect.”

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Sekou Smith (Eastern Conference Preview): Giannis’ Next Challenge? Being Great Every Game

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo won’t turn 23 until early December, but that hasn’t stopped some from mentioning him as a fringe MVP candidate. Guest Sekou Smith thinks it could happen (Erik Drost/Creative Commons).

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A number of stars, including Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Paul Millsap, no longer play in the East, potentially leaving the conference with ample playoff spots available for the taking. In addition, the reigning Eastern Conference finalists recently swapped star point guards, adding a special flavor to their existing rivalry. Meanwhile, teams like the Raptors, Bucks and Wizards hope their various brands of continuity can vault them to an elite class. To help us sort through it all, Sekou Smith, NBA.com writer and host of the Hang Time podcast, appears for a can’t-miss episode. By all means…sample some Sekou snippets:

4:59-5:35: “[Dwyane Wade]’s been a starter basically his entire career. I think in his career, he’s maybe come off the bench 10, 11 times. To ask him to come in and play a role as a bench guy right now, [considering] the fact that he’s not a great 3-point shooter, that would have been asking a lot for him to come in cold and be effective and make an impact on that team.  I think, as a starter, you give him a chance to not only do what he’s always done as a scorer… but you give him an opportunity to get in a rhythm… and to play off of LeBron at a high level, which you know he can do.”

10:00-10:14: “The team that I like, that’s kind of my wild-card team in the East, is Milwaukee. I think they do have a depth of talent that could put them in a position to challenge for one of those top two or three spots if a bunch of things go right for them.” Continue reading

Dave Zirin: “There Is No Stay in Your Lane…All the Rules Are Gone”

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has become one of the league’s most vocal advocates on various social issues (Zereshk/Creative Commons).

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In these unprecedented times in which sports is constantly intersecting with politics and society, Dave Zirin of The Nation and the Edge of Sports podcast joins the show for an important conversation. Below, you can find some highlights from the interview:

6:31-7:18: “There is no stay in your lane at this point. All the rules are gone, and I think the very existence of Donald Trump should remove this idea, even as a debate. But the reason you’ve heard it step up in recent years is precisely because we have this Donald Trump[-led] racist backlash taking place in this country. And part of this racist backlash involves squelching voices of dissent. I would argue there’s been no cultural sphere quite like the world of sports in terms of being a center of anti-racist activism. It has been the voice, the clarion call, the moral conscience about racism in the United States over the last five years, dating back to, I would argue, the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.”

12:49-13:18: “This has always been part of his [LeBron James’] DNA. This has always been a part of the kind of legacy he wanted to leave. So while LeBron James, I would argue, has been strongly affected by the Black Lives Matter movement, by social media, he’s also somebody who came into the league with this idea of thinking to himself, ‘I want to be a global icon like [Muhammad] Ali. I don’t want to be defined just by my bank account but [by] the kind of political contribution that I can leave behind.’” Continue reading

Keith Smith: Clippers Face “No-Win Situation,” Celtics Target Hayward

Chris Paul’s exit further complicates the Clippers’ and Blake Griffin’s looming decision of how to handle his unrestricted free agency (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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Though the free agency period does not officially begin until July 1, the landscape of the NBA has already shifted dramatically after the draft, a few franchise-altering trades and a couple front-office shake-ups. To help us sort through all the madness of the last week and predict the remaining changes to come, we’ve brought on Keith Smith, who covers the NBA for Real GM and Fan Rag Sports, and has been presenting detailed analyses of each team’s offseason plans on his show, NBA Front Office. With Keith, we break down the ramifications of the blockbuster trades that sent Chris Paul to Houston and Jimmy Butler to Minnesota, discuss the fallout of the Knicks and the Cavaliers severing ties with executives Phil Jackson and David Griffin, respectively, and, of course, try to forecast the eventual landing spots for Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Blake Griffin, George Hill, Paul Millsap and all of the other high-profile free agents and likely movers this offseason.

7:03-7:30: “One of the things that’s really funny about the Blake Griffin question is you can see it going one of two ways. You can see Blake Griffin saying, ‘Forget it. We can’t replace CP3. I’m not gonna be able to win here now. I want to move on. I want to get out of here and go somewhere else.’ Or you could see Blake Griffin saying, ‘Finally, it’s my team. I have it to myself. I don’t have to deal with this guy yapping at me all the time, and we didn’t necessarily get along great.’ So that’s where it becomes really tricky.”

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The Golden State Warriors’ Pursuit of Playoff Perfection

LeBron James’ otherworldly series has not translated into a Cleveland win thus far (Erik Drost/Flickr).


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With just over three minutes left in a thrilling Game 3, the Cleveland Cavaliers held a three-point lead and looked to be on their way to handing the Golden State Warriors their first loss since April 10. Not to be deterred, the Warriors finished the game with 11 straight points, sealing the victory and continuing their quest for an undefeated 16-0 playoff run. Aaron and Loren team up to discuss that heartbreaking Cavaliers loss, what’s gone right and wrong for each team in the series and what the Warriors’ dominance means for the future of the NBA.


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Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod

2017 NBA Finals Preview With Brendan Bowers, Andy Liu

Despite having just surpassed Michael Jordan to become the all-time leader in playoff points, LeBron James may be facing the largest challenge of his career against the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

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The 2017 NBA Finals are finally here. And no surprise…the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are set to face off an NBA-record third straight time. These behemoths come in a combined 24-1 this postseason. The Warriors have won at least 67 games each of the last three regular seasons, whereas the defending champion Cavaliers boast a league-leading 120.7 Offensive Rating these playoffs. As if that weren’t enough, the second LeBron James-Kevin Durant Finals meeting will also be a key component, among a slew of fascinating storylines. To help us preview this highly anticipated rubber series, New York Times bestselling author Brendan Bowers and Warriors World’s Andy Liu team up to provide elite insight on these historic teams.

Brendan Bowers 5:57-7:14: “I think LeBron’s in his prime right now. And I’m not saying that prime’s gonna last X number of years. I don’t know how long it’s gonna last…If I was to guess one thing [as to] why is it the prime now: I think part of [it is] getting that championship for Cleveland, breaking the six-decade streak of no championships, doing it for his hometown, completing the redemption story. I think now that that whole thing is off his back, he’s just playing basketball, and he is, I think, playing it better than he ever has despite the athleticism that he had at 22, at 23, at 24. Continue reading

Jim Park: If Warriors Fall Short, Disappointment Would Be the “Understatement of the Century”

Jim Park most looks forward to Stephen Curry proving he can perform at his best on the grandest stage of all (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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In advance of the NBA Finals, Aaron catches up with former Sheridan Hoops writer Jim Park about the Golden State Warriors’ dominance, Steve Kerr’s health-related absence and what, if anything, can slow down these rolling Warriors.

A season after winning an NBA-record 73 games and falling one win shy of their second straight championship, the Golden State Warriors are back to the Finals with a vengeance. There, they’ll be meeting a familiar foe in the form of the Cleveland Cavaliers, setting the stage for the third consecutive NBA Finals matchup between the teams. Storylines abound, including Kevin Durant’s long-awaited rematch with LeBron James on the biggest stage imaginable, but these teams’ recent dominance makes it all even more intriguing. Carrying over from the regular season, the Dubs have won 27 of their last 28 games, including a perfect 12 for 12 this postseason. For their part, the Cavaliers are enjoying a league-best 120.7 Offensive Rating these playoffs and, of course, have only been defeated once, a three-point loss to the Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. Each team’s 2017 playoff Net Rating tops +16 points per 100 possessions.

Golden excerpts can be found below:

Jim Park 3:55-4:03: “Curry really found himself [basketball-wise] while KD was gone, and he really hasn’t looked back even when KD did come back.”

12:20-13:04: “They don’t let teams come back. It’s set up in such a way where other teams have trouble coming back, because, to start the fourth quarter, they have Curry sitting and they’ll have KD starting the game in the fourth quarter, and usually he’s eating. The second-unit guys can’t stop KD, let alone first guys usually, so that’s a tall order for most teams to try to overcome, especially when they’re down. So you really have to play perfectly and try to get out ahead of the Warriors in order to have any kind of chance. Because if you get down, forget it. No chance.” Continue reading

Missing Kawhi, “Peak Powers” LeBron With Paul Garcia, Tas Melas

Kawhi Leonard | San Antonio Spurs

Kawhi Leonard’s ankle injury has sadly removed any remaining suspense as to whether or not the Warriors are likely to coast into the Conference Finals (Mark Runyon/Creative Commons).

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In this two-part episode, The StartersTas Melas joins us to discuss the league’s biggest storylines, such as the highly anticipated third straight Warriors-Cavaliers Finals matchup, the Celtics’ rapid and robust rebuild and Paul George and Gordon Hayward not qualifying for max extensions. But first, Paul Garcia of Project Spurs and Analyzing the League stops by to detail the incredible impact Kawhi Leonard’s injury has had and will continue to have on San Antonio’s prospects of upsetting the mighty Warriors. If you need to get in the mood, peep a handful of excerpted quotes below:

Paul Garcia: 8:45-9:28: “If there’s one lineup I think that can work, it’s [Dewayne] Dedmon at the 5. The only problem with that, which is why Pop hasn’t really been playing him, is that he slows down the ship on offense. He can’t shoot from the outside, he’s obviously just a rim runner, but defenses are good enough in the playoffs are good enough to take that away… They can try to go small… but they don’t have a team built to play small. They have a team built to play big, so that’s something they have trouble with. And the Warriors haven’t even thrown out their best stuff yet.” Continue reading

Flipping the Switch, IT’s Legendary Night, Rockets-Spurs Breakdown

In his historic game 2 performance, the diminutive Isaiah Thomas put the Boston Celtics on his back, scoring 29 points during the 4th quarter and overtime. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

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Did they just “flip the switch?” Following Cleveland’s middling post-All-Star break stretch, Loren and Aaron begin by discussing the Cavaliers’ dominant first two games against the Raptors. Also on tap: Diminutive Celtics star Isaiah Thomas’ historic Game 2 performance in what figures to be a long, competitive series with the Wizards and what to look for the remainder of the intriguing, intrastate battle between the Spurs and Rockets.

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod

Andy Liu Actually Believes the “Warriors Are Underrated”

Stephen Curry has gotten the Golden State Warriors back on track, and there’s now only one player in the NBA that Andy Liu is concerned about on their road to a championship: LeBron James  (Erik Drost/Flickr).

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Our favorite Golden State Warriors guest, Andy Liu of Warriors World, is back for a record fourth episode to discuss his team with us. After a brief stumble during which they lost five of seven games when Kevin Durant went down with injury, the Warriors look like they’ve righted the ship. They’re currently on a nine-game win streak, including four convincing wins against teams that will make the playoffs in the Western Conference: the Thunder, Grizzlies, Rockets and Spurs. Andy explains how a team that has by far the best Net Rating in the NBA, the best Offensive Rating and the second-best Defensive Rating, could possibly even be underrated heading into the playoffs. Check out these golden excerpts from the episode:

7:22-8:09: Andy explains why he never bought into overreaction that the Warriors were collapsing during the team’s recent slump:

“Kevin Durant had just gone down, and these guys were really shook up about it, and they had to adjust. In that adjustment period, Steph couldn’t hit a shot, the worst slump of his entire career. Klay was going through a slump as well. Draymond Green hadn’t shot the ball well all year and still isn’t. So they had a lot of issues on that end. They ended up going 2-5, and they played eight games in 13 nights. Since then, they’ve been great. They’ve also played a ton of trash teams. And the scheduling is going to get better from here. They’ve got six of seven at home to end the season…If there was a Finals game today, [Durant] would be playing, but he’ll be back in a week and a half or two weeks, so the team is fine again. That’s why I was never too worried about it.”

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