Tag Archives: nbaplayoffs

Evan and Jim’s Shoot Around: Game 5 Preview

– By Evan Sally and Jim Bearor

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Photo: Associated Press/Tony Dejak

The first three games of Warriors vs. Cavs have ranged from unexpected to downright bizarre. We saw back-to-back overtime games for the first time in Finals history. We saw Golden State, the best team in the league statistically, never lead at the end of any quarter except for the end of overtime of Game 1. We saw Matthew Dellavedova become a household name because of his inexplicable ability to frustrate the MVP Steph Curry, and more bizarrely, score a career high 20 points in Game 3. We saw Golden State miss a ton of open shots. We saw the league’s best shooter shoot a career worst 2 for 15 from 3 in Game 2. We saw LeBron James torch the league’s best defense for 41 points per game. And as great as LeBron James is, no one saw that coming.

Then the Warriors woke up.

Game 4 represented a return to normalcy. Finally, we saw the series we expected to see. Role players like Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala finally hit some open shots. Especially in the case of Barnes and Green, who had looked rattled previously, this is a huge development. LeBron finally had an off game, and the rest of the Cavs weren’t able to keep up the scoring slack. Add it all up, and it’s the recipe for a Golden State blowout victory. With the series tied at 2-2 headed back to the Bay Area to start a best of 3 for the championship, Jim Bearor and I try to figure out how we got to this point and examine where the series is going from here. Continue reading

Evan and Jim’s Shootaround: NBA Finals Preview Edition

By Evan Sally and Jim Bearor

This NBA Finals match up is a weird one. This series is highly anticipated. More people that aren’t big NBA fans are into this series than any Finals series in recent memory. Conventional wisdom says the series that would excite fans the most is the one that features the competitive match up. People hate blowouts. And yet, when you look at the details of this series, the Warriors seem to have a pretty big advantage over the Cavaliers.

The Warriors are the 14th team to reach the Finals with 65 wins or more. The previous 13 teams have all won the title. The Cavaliers are the sixth team since 1978 to reach the NBA Finals with a below-average defense. Four out of the other five all lost in the finals. And that fifth team was the 2001 Lakers that featured Kobe, Shaq and the league’s best offense. Even putting the stats aside for a moment, the Warriors have clearly had the tougher test getting to this point. In beating Houston and Memphis, the Warriors have already beat two teams with better records than Cleveland. In comparison, the Cavaliers have had a relatively easy road to the Finals beating a sub .500 Celtics team, an inconsistent and disappointing Bulls team, and a Hawks team that was battered by injuries. On top of all that, their third best player, Kevin Love, is out for the Finals, and their second best player, Kyrie Irving, is dealing with several injuries. The stage seems to be set for the Warriors to roll to a championship.

So what are we talking about then? If this should be a blowout as all the stats and the eye tests show, then why the hype? Why the excitement? Well, in the NBA, star power reigns over everything else, and the chance to watch the world’s greatest player face off against the league’s MVP with everything on the line is about as tantalizing as it gets. As it’s safe to say the fate of the Cavs and the Warriors rest on the backs of LeBron James and Steph Curry respectively, the most important question for each team is: how the hell do we stop these guys? One of Hardfoulsports.com’s great writers Jim Bearor joins me to discuss this question and many more about the NBA Finals. Continue reading

NHL and NBA Staff Pick ‘Em

– The Hard Foul Sports Team

NHL Picks
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Mike Tolsma

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This has the potential to steal the show of the two final series in the NHL and NBA. That’s right, the NHL actually may be able to steal the show. Now, granted there won’t be any dueling television nights, but the bottom line is this series will have sports fans buzzing. The Hawks have the star power. We all know what Toews and Kane brings on the front end and what Keith and Seabrook will provide the back end. Look for Patrick Sharp to try and continue to raise his trade stock (the Hawks are in serious cap trouble come this offseason) and Marian Hossa to show he still has gas left in the tank. Tampa is extremely skilled, but if Steven Stamkos doesn’t show up for a game or two, you are now relying on too much youth and inexperience to lead this team.

Who wins: Chicago in 6 Continue reading

LeBron is Back in the Finals: A New Tradition

– Evan Sally

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

As we transition from late May into June, the familiar signs that summer is coming are all around us. Flowers are blooming. The days get longer and hotter. Sweatpants and jeans get traded out for shorts and dresses. Convertibles are driving around with their tops down. And LeBron James is playing in the NBA Finals.

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Evan’s Thoughts – Eastern Conference Finals Game 1

– Evan Sally 

Thoughts on Eastern Conference Finals Game 1: Cavaliers 97,Hawks 89

The JR Smith Show

JR Smith was the surprise star of the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals.  He had 28 points on 10 of 16 shooting, including going 8 of 12 from 3. The 8 3’s were a Cavaliers playoff record. JR was at his streaky best last night,
scoring 17 points in the span of 6 minutes of game time, effectively putting the game out of reach. JR is known for being a streaky shooter that loves to shoot a lot, and with his bad habit for jacking up bad shots at the wrong time, he shot many of his teams out of the game in past years. Usually to get the best out of him, he needs to show restraint and try to get his shots in the rhythm of the offense. Last night was an example of how devastating he can be as an opponent when he gets hot. He plays with a swagger and confidence that’s infectious to his teammates. Of course you can’t expect him to play like this regularly. I wouldn’t expect to see him to do it again this series. Cavaliers fans have to be happy to have a confident JR Smith coming off their bench to provide instant offense.

Hawks Concerns

The Hawks suffered what appeared to be a brutal break when DeMarre Carroll went down with an apparent brutal knee injury in the 4th quarter. If you have any experience watching sports, any time you see an athlete go down without anyone else making contact you know that’s usually a recipe for a catastrophic injury. Hawks fans got great news this  morning after it was discovered that his

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, right, speaks with an injured Atlanta Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll (5) as Carroll is helped of the court during the second half in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals of the NBA basketball playoffs, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, right, speaks with an injured Atlanta Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll (5) as Carroll is helped of the court during the second half in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals of the NBA basketball playoffs, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

knee didn’t suffer any structural damage and his status is day to day. Unfortunately, besides Jeff Teague’s 27 points that was about the only good news that stemmed from last night’s game. Kyle Korver was still unable to get going only taking 5 shots. He spent most of the game with Cavaliers players draped all over him. He has to get going to revive an offense that scored only 89 points last night, a far cry from the 102 they average per game during the regular season. They were unable to slow down LeBron last night who went for 31 points 8 rebounds and 6 assists. This is a task always easier said than done. LeBron will always get his numbers but you have to make it difficult for him, and the Hawks didn’t do that. Paul Millsap got stuck with LeBron duty after Carroll went down, and LeBron toyed with him, literally laughing at him at points when Millsap was trying to guard him. Carroll didn’t do much better earlier. It’s going to take a team effort defensively to slow down LeBron for the Hawks to have any chance in this series and that needs to start in Game 2.

 

evan

 

@Evan_Sally

Western Conference Finals Preview

– Jim Bearor

The number two seeded Rockets won Game 7 against the Clippers on Sunday afternoon, and they only have Monday to rest before kicking off the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday at Golden State, the number one seed.

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NBA Eastern Conference Finals Preview: 5 Burning Questions

Hard Foul Sports co-founder Evan Sally previews the highly anticipated match up between the number 1 seed Atlanta Hawks and the 2 seed Cleveland Cavaliers with the 5 questions he’s thinking about as we await the start of the series on Wednesday.

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Tonight’s NBA Storylines

-Jim Bearor

We have some potential elimination games on the menu tonight. Pau Gasol plans to return tonight as the Bulls host the Cavs in what could be Chicago’s final home game. The Clippers will either finish off the Rockets tonight, or Houston will host Game 7 with all the momentum. To me, these are the most important storylines of the games tonight. Of course there are a million other factors at play here, like the banged up point guards in the Chicago-Cleveland series, Deandre Jordan’s free throw percentage, which Blake Griffin shows up for the fourth quarter, and whether or not Dwight Howard can manage to stay out of foul trouble so DJ doesn’t dominate the court while he’s gone.

I want to focus on those first two things though.

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