History tells us the Milwaukee Bucks should win the NBA championship, but they won’t

Of all the remaining teams in the conference finals, the Milwaukee Bucks were the team that had earned an NBA championship.

In five consecutive playoff appearances, the Bucks lost in the first round twice, they’ve been eliminated in the semi-finals, they’ve lost a heartbreaking series to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals, and now they’re finally in the NBA Finals. If you’re a fan of NBA history then you know that 97% of the time, NBA champions have to through at least a couple seasons of heartache before breaking through.

Based on that established pattern of losing-before-finally-winning, if you were to do some Naija football betting or putting money on the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks would be a heavy favorite to bring home the title.

Bucks lack identity

Getting into the NBA Finals, a team not only has to go through the trial and tribulations, but they spend those years establishing identity; one with predictable and unstoppable offensive sets. That lack of reliable offense is what will hold the Bucks back from taking home the championship this year.

When it comes down to it, the Milwaukee Bucks are way too inconsistent on offense and the Phoenix Suns too reliable on offense for the Bucks to pull out a win the NBA Finals.

We’re all well aware that two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is their superstar, but he’s yet to figure out a way to dominate the Suns when his heads-down drives are walled off. It doesn’t help that his free-throw shooting has been atrocious.

There’s been a lot of talk that Khris Middleton is their closer, but he’s had as many stinker games as he’s had dominant ones. No one dislikes Jrue Holiday, but he simply doesn’t have a scorer’s mindset. Brook Lopez has looked great in a few games, but his presence is too much of a defensive liability to make him worth playing. How many times have we seen Milwaukee’s offense completely abandon them during these playoffs?

On the other side, you know who the Phoenix Suns are on offense. To a man,  each player knows their role. Devin Booker is their primary scoring option and is capable of going off for 35 points on any night, Deandre Ayton picks and rolls and rebounds, Jae Crowder and Mikal Bridges hang out at the three point line when the first few options don’t work out.

And that brings us to the other reason why the Bucks are going to have a tough time winning four games in the NBA Finals: Chris Paul. Let’s forget the motivation that comes from CP3’s first NBA Finals in his 16 year career, it’s more about his leadership and ability to create shots on any given play. Whether it’s pick and roll, the threat of lobbing to Ayton, getting Lopez or Bobby Portis on the island, his deadly handles and his deadlier midrange game. His play over the last few seasons has solidified the 6-2 guard as one of the top five point guards of all-time.

Yes, Giannis and Middleton and Holiday will put together some good games, and they might pull out two wins during the series because of that, but their inconsistency has been their identity throughout their 2021 NBA Playoff run. Unfortunately for their fans, the Deer District, and the city of Milwaukee, that inconsistency and lack of offensive identity will result in another season of disappointment.

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So the New York Knicks made it to the NBA playoffs, so what’s next?

For the first time in EIGHT years, the New York Knicks managed to qualify for the NBA Playoffs, while their dream may have come to a short end after they suffered an opening round loss. Things are however on an upward trend, despite them having come up short, with the potential to enter the offseason with plenty of space on the salary cap, meaning WAY bigger things could be on the horizon for the New York based franchise. With that the focus now shifts towards the 2021 offseason, so it’s time for us to take a look at where the Knicks stand. Let’s get into it.

So, where do we begin? First is the NBA’s Most-Improved Player of this season, Julius Randle has a partial guarantee of $4.0 Million for the 2021-22 season and as much as he struggled in the playoffs, the Knicks guaranteeing the entirety of his $21.8 million salary for the upcoming season feels like a pretty safe bet, considering he had a really solid season. Not only that but the Knicks may be set to lose a fair few players, leaving them with quite a lot of roster spots to fill.

Almost certainly the most notable would be Derrick Rose, the Knicks acquired him in the lead up to the trade deadline of this season. He played 35 games this season, in those 35 games D.Rose averaged 4.2 assists and 14.9 points on .487/.411/.883 shooting splits. This man earned enough votes for him to finish in THIRD PLACE in the voting for Sixth Man of the Year, sitting just behind Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson who both play for the Utah Jazz.

Not only that however, Alec Burks, Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson and Nerlens Noel are going to be unrestricted free agents, alongside that, Theo Pinson, Jared Harper and Frank Ntilikina will all be Restricted Free Agents while there’s a team option worth $1.8 million on the contract of Mitchell Robinson.

One thing that the Knicks need to do now they managed to push into the playoffs, even if they didn’t make it deep, is to manage their expectations. There isn’t a single team in the NBA this season that has outperformed their expectations more than the New York Knicks, nobody expected anything from the Knicks. They were predicted to win “24.7 games” which would’ve put them with the 3rd worst record in the NBA. Instead, they went on to win 41 games pushing them into the playoffs for the first time since 2013!

The work that the Knicks have put in this season has not gone unnoticed. In the most recent edition of ESPN’s Future Power Rankings, New York jumped from Number 27 last March to Number 7.

An improvement of 22 wins isn’t the result of just taking one quick year of spending like crazy in free agency, making panicked trades hoping for a quick patch up. What they did was acquire the correct coach for their project in Tom Thibodeau, they then worked hard to pick and choose the right talent that would also fit in with their project. The result? New York now has a blueprint to use as the people in charge build their roster, not only for the upcoming offseason, but for the future of the franchise in general.

So, what are the steps they should be taking for the upcoming offseason? There are a few things they could do, they could go ahead and try to build through the draft, they can push development on the inside and re-sign some of their key free agents, such as Alec Burks and Derrick Rose. They could try and land one big-name free agent to try and build their system around, since they may have up to $50 million in salary cap space, though this would definitely be at the cost of their own free agents. Or they could make a big trade using draft picks and young players combined with their cap space.

Realistically what the team currently needs is a starting point guard and a starting short forward, they also realistically need some depth to manage the quick turnaround in games that the NBA has, in almost every position but power forward. They have the following they can use to rebuild;

  • Potentially $50 million in cap space
  • Two first round picks and a second round pick in the draft.
  • Draft assets for 2023
  • $4.9 million cap room around their midlevel in exceptions
  • $5.8 million in cash to send or receive in a trade.

What do you think? What would you do with the resources they have available? Where do you think the Knicks will end up next season? I think there are many Pennsylvania betting sites that are tipping them for a playoff place again, but they have a lot of work to do to ensure they make the playoffs back to back, would you agree? Let us know!

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Here’s our 2021 NBA Power Rankings going into the NBA All-Star break

 

We are at the midway mark of this season’s unique NBA schedule. This break in the schedule is as a good time to evaluate which teams are contenders and the pretenders as anytime.

A handful of the teams that we predicted to be NBA championship-worthy have fallen short while others that were overlooked have risen to the top. Let’s rank the teams from No. 1 through No. 30 and reveal the odds and the top free NBA Picks on each to win the world championship this season.

The Contenders

  1. Utah Jazz (+700) – The Jazz aren’t battle-tested and lack experience, so the team from Salt Lake led by Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, and Rudy Gobert might not be there when the dust settles three months from now. That said, right now, the Jazz are absolute fire at home and own the best record in the NBA so we have to put them at the top of the list.
  2. Los Angeles Lakers (+280) – The Lakers proved they were mortal when Anthony Davis reaggravated his Achilles and immediately dropped four of five with the big man sidelined. However, the Lakers have gotten back on track and are the odds-on-favorite to repeat as world champs.
  3. Brooklyn Nets (+300) – Offensively, the three-headed monster of Harden, Durant, and Irving is the most lethal in the league but can these egos continue to  coexist, can they dig down defensively when the time comes, and do they have enough bench depth to see them all the way through to the finals?
  4. Los Angeles Clippers (+550) – Their more celebrated neighbors steal all the headlines but this Clippers’ team shouldn’t be underestimated, particularly with Kawhi and company on a redemption tour after they exited the playoffs earlier than expected last season.
  5. Milwaukee Bucks (+800) – The Greek Freak is having another monster season and the Bucks could very well be the Eastern Conference entry into the NBA Finals and nobody would be surprised.
  6. Philadelphia 76ers (+1200) – Joel Embiid has elevated his game this season and the 76ers are better because of it. They currently own the best record in the East but until they prove they can do it in the postseason, we remain unconvinced.
  7. Phoenix Suns (+3300) – The Suns have never won a world championship and have done nothing but lose for over a decade. But a new day is dawning in the desert and the confluence of all their young talent with an 11-time All-Star in veteran Chris Paul has the makings of a Cinderella story.

The Pretenders

  1. Boston Celtics (+2800) – Boston is undeniably the most disappointing team this season, treading water at about .500 for a team that has arguably the two most talented youngsters in the league by the names of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The only slack we will cut the Shamrocks is that their defensive wizard, Marcus Smart, has been sidelined for much of the season but when he returns Boston needs to improve…in a hurry!
  2. Portland Trail Blazers (+6000) – Damian Lillard is a scoring machine but without help from CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers can be bested on any given night. But wait until the duo returns and then you will see Portland takes its rightful place among the Western Conference leaders.
  3. Denver Nuggets (+2800) – Mercurial might be the best adjective to describe this iteration of the Denver Nuggets but whatever you call them, they are certainly a talented squad that tends to lapse against teams they should easily handle.
  4. San Antonio Spurs (+12,500) – The Spurs missed the playoffs for the first time in forever last season but Gregg Popovich has his charges back on track and intent on atoning for their first losing season in 22 years. DeMar DeRozan has been a world-beater this season for the Spurs and this team is doing everything right that they did wrong last year.
  5. Miami Heat (+2800) – It would seem reasonable that last year’s Eastern Conference champions would be considered a stunning disappointment with a .500 record at the midpoint of the following season. However, they were never expected to get that far and the fact that they are not performing at a championship level this year surprises no one except their most ardent fans.

The Rest of the Bunch

  1. Golden State Warriors (+10000)
  2. Toronto Raptors (+4000)
  3. New York Knicks (+15000 )
  4. Dallas Mavericks (+5000)
  5. Indiana Pacers (+6600)
  6. Atlanta Hawks (+15000)
  7. Memphis Grizzlies (+15000)
  8. New Orleans Pelicans (+15000)
  9. Washington Wizards (+15000)
  10. Charlotte Hornets (+20000)
  11. Chicago Bulls (+30000)
  12. Houston Rockets (+40000)
  13. Orlando Magic (+40000)
  14. Cleveland Cavaliers (+50000)
  15. Sacramento Kings (+60000)
  16. Detroit Pistons (+100000)
  17. Oklahoma City Thunder (+100000)
  18. Minnesota Timberwolves (+150000)

 

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2019 NBA Futures: All roads lead though the West (again)

The last time an NBA team was swept in the finals was back in 2007 … it was the Cleveland Cavaliers getting trounced by a younger Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. Well, unfortunately for the town of Cleveland, not only do they own the Browns, but they own two of the nine NBA finals sweeps—and they are back to back.

The problem isn’t with the Cleveland Cavaliers though. The issue is that the Golden State Warriors look like basketball playing robots from another dimension, a superhuman one. And things don’t look like they are going to change much over in ‘The Town.’ Kevin Durant has stated that he is going to resign for another season. You better believe that the nucleus that makes up these unstoppable Warriors of Golden State will stay intact; they want the three-peat.

Futures Odds on the 2019 NBA Title

After checking Bookmaker a few days ago, we found odds on all of the teams and their implied probability to win the NBA Title in 2019. The top ten candidates according to Las Vegas and top online sites like Bookmaker are:

  • Golden State: +120 (45.5%)
  • Houston +450 (18.2%)
  • Philadelphia +500 (16.7%)
  • Boston Celtics + 650 (13.3%)
  • Los Angeles Lakers + 1400 (6.7%)
  • San Antonio Spurs +2000 (4.8%)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers +2500 (3.8%)
  • Miami Heat +5000 (2.0%)
  • New Orleans Pelicans +5000 (2.0%)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder +5000 (2.0%)

The funny thing is that as of today, the sportsbooks have pulled the NBA Futures lines —don’t worry they will put them back up soon—so we have to assume that they have received some information that is critical to their mathematical process.

Of course, we see that the Warriors once again lead the way. They are far and away favorites to win in 2019. But what is most interesting to me is the fact that the Las Angeles Lakers are suddenly in the conversation. This leads me to believe that there is some insider info telling the money people in Vegas that Lebron will land in LA.

Low and behold, Bookmaker just released odds on where Lebron James will go this offseason, and the Lakers are -140 favorites. The next closest team is Philly at +400. This means Las Vegas believes that there is a 58.3% chance that Lebron will sign with Luke and the lakers.

With all of this back-room yammering that must be going on about the Lakers and Lebron. I still don’t see how this would make them real contenders. Lebron had Love, Korver, Smith, Hill, Thompson, and a slew of other talented players and still could take down the Warriors. How would going to a team that plays very little defense be any better?

It is all about those little intangible things that create a rare occurrence of dynamics that make the best team. It isn’t always the best player or best players … but the best team. The only other teams that currently have this type of intangible thing going are the Rockets and the Raptors. The Raptors know who they are, but they just don’t quite have the talent to beat Golden State. The Rockets, on the other hand, might have taken down GSW if Chris Paul the 3rd didn’t go down and miss Game 7.

Futures Assessment

Looking at where the futures were (it remains to be seen what they become), I believe that the Rockets should actually be closer to +250 and then everyone else nudged back some more … the closest competition out of the east right now shouldn’t be set higher than +600 (six to one). Maybe if Lebron goes to the 76ers, they might have a shot. But again how will he mesh? Philly has a good thing going on. Would Lebron just be a cog in their wheel?

In 2019 all roads lead through Houston and Golden State. Whoever wins the West wins again.

 

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“What is March Madness?” and 14 NCAA basketball phrases you need to know

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Despite NBA Title, Kevin Durant makes Cleveland Cavs underdogs in 2017

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What is Stephen Curry’s ethnicity and race?

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Here’s all the Jeremy Lin hairstyles throughout the years

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Jeremy Lin highlights vs. Los Angeles Clippers in NBA Global Games

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The best bar/restaurant to watch University of Michigan games in New York City

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Jeremy Lin sees “good fit” with Charlotte Hornets, signs two-year deal

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John Wall’s ‘360 midair layup’ is quickly becoming his signature move

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NBA releases ‘Geeked Up’ Golden State Warriors championship t-shirt

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Awesome Steph Curry “DUBS” mural found in Oakland

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Andre Iguodola deserved the NBA Finals MVP because WINNING

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Cavs’ 7-Man Rotation Will Cost Them 2015 NBA Championship

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My mom isn’t surprised that the Cavs beat the Warriors (again)

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We could all learn a little about life from this “Brooklyn hustler”

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