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Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return

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Old 03-05-2016, 01:42 PM   #721
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return

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Old 03-05-2016, 02:46 PM   #722
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return

2017-18 NBA Final Regular Season Standings

April 19th, 2018

By Vonny Lee


The NBA's marathon of a regular season has ended, and with it so have the seasons of 14 teams. Here's a look at the those that missed the postseason and where they stand as the summer approaches.



1. The Nuggets -- fell short, but have won a lot of respect throughout the league. After Mudiay went down 18 games into the season, everyone wrote off the Nuggets but Denver nearly prevailed. The strength of the West eventually forced the young team back down into the bottom of the conference, but the way the team played has buoyed the optimism surrounding the club. As they head into the offseason, Denver must ask itself if Monta Ellis is a long-term member of the club. Ellis has a player option and sources say he's likely to decline it, which would free Denver to go in another direction; but if he picks it up, he'll put the Nuggets in a tough spot.

2. The T'Wolves
-- Minnesota had a very disappointing year, but was able to see what a team without Rubio looked like. And that team doesn't look bad ... but it does look young. Doc Rivers has essentially been given immunity from any potential firing as owner Glen Taylor is a big fan, and the players are continuing to grow, but the T'Wolves will have to find a lineup that works -- they have far too much talent to embark on a losing season, especially after last year's near playoff berth (and that was without KAT). Keep an eye on them to go out and get a veteran at either the one or the four to help give the young squad some guidance.

3. The Blazers -- were banged up and injured all year. Someone, somewhere, must have broken a mirror or stepped on a crack, because the bad luck of the Blazers was in full force. After Lillard's heroics last season which got Portland back into the playoffs, this was a step-back. Lillard needs a second star and Noah Vonleh is close, but still quite young -- Portland will have money to burn in free agency and with a stacked class, might be able to convince a star to compliment Lillard.

4. The Jazz -- finished as they have the last three seasons. Utah's morale is at an all-time low, but the young kids have shown improvement in David Blatt's first year on the job. Utah's ownership is preaching patience and its front office is quietly putting feelers out for Alec Burks and Harry Ellenson, both players who have had good years and are young enough to be a part of long-term talks for some teams. Utah's expected to re-sign Aaron Afflalo as well, as the veteran has reportedly been quite the mentor in the locker room. The Jazz might be on their way up out of the cellar ... maybe.



1. The Spurs -- didn't get a late push for the playoffs as many fans and pundits thought. Their streak of 20 straight playoff appearance has been broken and so has the unshakable faith in the Spurs front office in the minds of some fans. LMA has the ability to opt out of his deal and hit the free agent market, but reports say he's quite happy in San Antonio. The bigger question becomes what to do with Danny Green, who's play fell off a cliff this year and doesn't look to be back with the team (despite holding a player option, it is widely expected of the Spurs to trade him). And then there's Tony Parker, who's 35 and will need to re-sign for a discounted price to stay with the squad. San Antonio could move on from both players if things don't go their way and, with the way the season's gone, that's entirely possible.

2. The Mavericks
-- were horrible this year and are going to be horrible until someone in Dallas steps up and commands the team. The Mavs are rudderless and lost, a big step back for a franchise that is owned by Mark Cuban and coached by Rick Carlisle. Dallas needs to do some major retooling, and has time to do that thanks to their young players and Draymond Green. Dallas, again, is at risk of losing their draft pick if it falls out of the top-7, but if they get it they'll be in a good position to make something of it. But they really need help and, as seems to be the case every year, free agency will be their answer.



1. The Warriors -- your eyes aren't deceiving you, the Golden State Warriors, left for dead at the ASB, nearly snuck into the playoffs. Golden State's trade for Greg Monroe and Joel Embiid was exactly what the team needed and they went an astonishing 21-6 after the trade. If the Warriors got THAT kind of production before the ASB, we'd be talking about them as favorites for the title. Golden State wasn't expecting their trade to give them that kind of results and now Greg Monroe's impending free agency is at the top of their priority. Monroe played exceedingly well since the trade and looks to be a good fit in the Warriors system, despite being unable to shoot the three. What the Warriors and Monroe decide to do in free agency will be one of the stories of the summer.



1. The Hawks -- finished the season in disappointing fashion. After a surge in the middle of the year that made it look like they were postseason bound, injuries to their bench crippled the Hawks second-unit and sent them spiraling out of the postseason. Paul Millsap is a free agent this summer and he's likely to explore the market to its fullest potential -- meaning the Hawks need to prepare for a life without him. Atlanta might have even more money to throw around if Wilson Chandler ops out of his deal, which means the Hawks could be players in FA.

2. The Heat -- had their season fall apart before their eyes as the year just didn't break their way. Miami has to be frustrated with the lack of success and their core is aging; Bosh and Dragic are both over 30, Jefferson is a free agent and on the hunt for greener pastures, and Miami looks stuck. But Pat Riley has a plan and, thanks to how things happened across the rest of the league, he might be able to snag a superstar.

3. The Magic -- finished out of the playoffs and disappointingly so. The growth of Aaron Gordon (9.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG) and rookie Frank Ntilikina (9.8 PPG, 6.7 APG) were good signs for a team that needs help. This year was a setback and next season progress will have to be shown, else the Magic may shake things up in a major way. Expect them to look for bench help and maybe a veteran starter in the summer.

4. The Grizzlies -- are done. There's no way ownership and the front office can keep this trotting Gasol and Conley together and, after the performance of this year where the team lost 11 straight following the ASB, heads are expected to roll. Their head coach is likely to be fired, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are likely to be traded, and Tyreke Evans is likely to leave as the Grizzlies finally succumb to the modern day NBA.



1. The Celtics
-- made a go of it at the end, but absolutely are done. The Boston dream of Boogie as a franchise staple is likely over after the playoffs or bust season, and Cousins is likely gone. Avery Bradley, Isiah Thomas, and Otto Porter are all likely to test free agency as well. Boston will have cap space and picks, but the future of this once-proud franchise is murky at best.

2. The Raptors
-- from the 1st seed last year to the bottom of their division this year, the Raptors are likely to undergo big changes in the offseason. Kyle Lowry is a free agent and the Raptors have made it clear that he's not coming back unless he takes a discount; Dwayne Casey is likely to find himself out of a job as the Raptors front office is looking to reshape the team around DeRozan and Valanciunas, as well as their young talent on the bench.



1. The Pacers -- were the only team in their division NOT to make the playoffs and that has to hurt, considering how poor the Pistons were early in the season and how poor the Bulls were late. The chance was there for the team to steal the 8th seed, but now that's out the window and the Pacers have to pray that their pick they traded for Derrick Favors (a free agent this summer) falls into the top-5 in order for them to keep it. If it doesn't, the Favors gamble will look very bad for the Pacers front office and might make Paul George (who can opt out as a free agent this summer) question the direction the organization is taking.
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Old 03-05-2016, 02:48 PM   #723
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return

How I wish that was the 76ers record in real life...


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Old 03-05-2016, 04:04 PM   #724
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return


1st Round Playoff Preview

April 19th, 2018

By Vonny Lee



The 1st round of the playoffs is here and with it, some familiar faces and some fresh squads.




1. Sonics vs. 8. Kings

Going 61-21, the Sonics have more than met expectations this season. They come into the playoffs healthy and hungry, as the team at large (and especially Russell Westbrook) is incensed at how Durant was chosen as MVP and not Westbrook; the two were separated by just one vote. Seattle has played angry through most of the season and that looks to carry over here in the playoffs.

For the Kings, this is a dream come true. It's been over 12 years since the last time the Kings made the playoffs, and an entire generation of fans has watched their team struggle, mightily, since. But the play of Brandon Ingram, Willy Cauley Stein, and veteran George Hill have finally elevated Sacramento out of the depths of the cellar.

Prediction: The Kings are fresh faced and excited to be here, but they have every reason to believe they can win the series. They're one of the top-3 best defensive squads in the NBA and battled the Sonics to a 2-2 regular season series tie ... but Seattle has done this before. Sonics in a hard fought five games.

4. Pelicans vs. 5. Rockets

NOLA was close to getting that 3rd seed, but fell just short. But don't tell the Pelicans they're missing anything -- they have their sights firmly on Seattle. Since the 2016 WCF, the Pelicans have been waiting to get the Sonics back in the playoffs and are perfectly fine with being on this side of the bracket. Rookie SF Jayson Tatum has been incredible this year, as as been JJ Reddick, and the Pelicans are confident they can take down anyone.

But Houston is confident for its own reasons. Sitting as the 8th seed for a good portion of the season, a late winning streak propelled them into the playoffs and they're here to do battle. With veterans Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol getting their first taste of postseason action in quite awhile, the Rockets want to make a statement -- and have their own axe to grind with Seattle.

Prediction: Both these teams are similar, both were beaten soundly last postseason in the 1st round. Both have axes to grind, but James Harden will be facing JJ Reddick or rookie Jayson Tatum in this series, and NOLA simply doesn't a lockdown defender at the two. Davis, on the other hand, has to go through Clint Capela and Pau Gasol (as well as Mosgov) to get his points. Rockets in five.

2. Thunder vs. 7. Clippers

OKC just barely missed out on the 1st seed but get the easier side of the bracket as a result. The Thunder are focused exclusively at getting back to the Finals for the first time since 2012 and are on a mission to prove to everyone that they can; the play of Payne, Oladipo, Ibaka, and Kanter have all benefited from the absence of Russell Westbrook, but now's the time to prove it.

Standing in their way is the Clippers, who suffered some injuries early in the season and struggled to find their rhythm, but came together and squeaked out a playoff spot in the wild West. Blake Griffin, Jeff Teague, and DeAndre Jordan have complimented one another better than many would have predicted but the Clippers are down Teague, who suffered a severely sprained ankle on April 10th against the Warriors. Teague is out, Trey Burke is in, and the Clippers are a man down at the worst time.

Prediction:
Without Jeff Teague the Clippers don't have the point guard they need to slow down Cameron Payne; Trey Burke is good enough to get by with in the regular season but, in his first playoff series, that inexperience will kill LA. OKC in three.

3. Suns vs. 6. Lakers

The Suns season has been a good one and now their high-flying offense will be put to the test against a division rival in the Lakers. It's a mid-2000s throwback playoff series as the Suns have to bet their experience -- specifically that of Tobias Harris and Tyson Chandler -- is able to give them the edge.

For the Lakers, they made the playoffs and it's been a long time since the Lakers did that (five years!) and the play of Russell, Randle, Brown, and Whiteside has been electric. Russell is doing 23.5 PPG and 7.0 APG, while Randle is putting up 14.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and Brown is scoring 20.3 PPG, with 8.0 RPG. The Lakers young core is pretty to look at, but now comes the time to see if they're ready to shine.

Prediction: The Suns are down their ROY in Ivan Raab (who still won despite missing the last 32 games) but Tobias Harris has solved so many problems. I expect the Lakers to score a ton, but I think the Suns experience pulls it off -- PHX in five.

Out East

1. Hornets vs. 8. Knicks

Charlotte held on to the 1st seed, finishing at 56-26, their best record as a franchise in pretty much forever. Kevin Love has been revived, putting up 18.9 PPG and pulling in 11.3 RPG. The Hornets have depth, they have heady veterans, they have youth, they have the edge in everything; this team is ready to make noise.

But first they have to get through the Knicks, who snuck into the playoffs despite a losing record. New York surged in the last two weeks of the season, winning seven straight (two of those with Chris Paul sitting) and making the playoffs despite Melo missing nearly 40 games this year due to injury. If any one is going to knock the Hornets out of the playoffs, it'll be Chris Paul -- former star of the former Hornets.

Prediction: This series has intriguing matchups across the board. Walker vs. Paul. Melo vs. MKG. Love vs. Porzingis. Youth vs. Experience. The series will be decided by the bench and that's where the Hornets have the edge, as their bench is loaded with talent. This is a tougher series than Charlotte would expect, however, but they win in four games.

4. Bucks vs. 5 Bulls

It speaks to the relative weakness of the conference to see the Bucks as the 4th seed, but Milwaukee isn't complaining. After missing the postseason the last two years, the Bucks are glad to be back. They just wish they had the Greek Freak, who's out again, this time with a bad back -- he's gone for the next 4-6 weeks, which means the Bucks postseason might be short lived. In his place, Jabari Parker will slide down to the three, as Tyler Zeller takes hold of the four, and rookie Harry Giles starts at the five.

The Bucks misfortune could be the Bulls gain. Chicago has battled injuries all year but is finally healthy. Brandon Jennings and Larry Sanders have a chance to knock their former team out of the playoffs, a scenario the two players couldn't have written better, and Dwight Howard should feast on the young Giles.

Prediction: It's a toss up. Both the Bulls and Bucks have dealt with adversity this season, but the Bucks have survived the absence of their star for long stretches -- but this is the worst time to be down your best player. The Bulls have Wade, Howard, and Jimmy Butler, as well as Dante Exum (playing the best ball of his career) and the experience wins out I think. Chicago takes this in five games.

2. 76ers vs. 7 Wizards

There's some bad blood here. Philly was knocked out of the playoffs by the Wizards last year and they've had their first 50 win season since Allen Iverson suited up (whoa). The 76ers want to feast on the Wizards and will do so with their lineup of Rubio, Knight, Simmons, Randolph, and Okafor. That starting five rolls out averages of 11.2, 15.5, 17.4, 12.6, and 19.5 PPG respectively.

Washington got into the postseason thanks to another late run, like the year before, and just got Bradley Beal back after a 20-game absence due to a leg fracture. The Wizards aren't fresh -- they played heavy minutes to make the playoffs -- but they have talent. Like they do every year, the Wizards tended to wait till the very end of the season to start playing with purpose and that may be the most damning thing about them.

Prediction: Revenge is a dish best served cold and it's cold in Philly this year. Downright frigid. Rubio gives the 76ers the defender at the point they've lacked since MCW and Philly stifles the Wizards, sending them home in five.

3. Cavaliers vs. 6. Pistons


Cleveland tapered off at the end of the year and fell just short of 50-wins. They still possess LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, however, but they're starting Cole Aldrich at the five (no, seriously, they've done that all year) and feature a bench with Josh Smith, Terrence Jones, and Matthew Dellavedova. Irving is banged up with a tweaked hamstring, but will start, and the Cavs aren't the all-powerful team they once were.

Sitting in wait are the Pistons. Detroit waited until the end of the year to get their butts in gear, but they finished above .500 and are looking to upset their long-time torturer in LeBron. Ty Lawson and Marcus Morris are playing great basketball, Drummond is doing his usual thing, and the Pistons are hungry.

Prediction: Irving being banged up, even slightly, does change the complexion of this series as he's facing a speedster in Ty Lawson. If Detroit and Lawson can play at a fast pace, they'll wear Irving down and force Cleveland to go to their weak bench. But the Cavs have withstood plenty during their regular season and I don't see them playing into Detroit's hands now. Cleveland in five.

Last edited by trekfan; 03-05-2016 at 08:24 PM.
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Old 03-05-2016, 06:30 PM   #725
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return

Man the Kings. That's a team you'd rather not have faced right. Then likely the Pelicans next. It's going to be a tougher run this year that's for sure.

Can't expect to have a 3peat handed to you after all. But it will certainly make for entertaining reading and I thoroughly look forward to seeing how it progresses.

I'm gonna get to thinking about a name for Westbrook too. Feel like something super hero esque lol.
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Old 03-05-2016, 06:59 PM   #726
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return



GIF REACTION:




God, that was a pretty game. Seattle did just about everything you could ask for, but this game sure didn't seem like it was destined for a blowout after the first quarter. In the first, the Kings came out and played hard. They got steals, they delivered hard fouls, and they were bothersome. The Sonics couldn't quite pull away and the Kings wouldn't let themselves be pushed away. After win, the Sonics led 30-28 and it looked like this game was going to be a close contest.

And then Russell Westbrook decided enough was enough. Denied an MVP by the voters, Westbrook was out to prove a point -- that's he's the MVP, not former teammate Kevin Durant, and he went to work. By halftime, Westbrook had 20 points and 8 dimes as the Sonics were up 65-51. Everyone was involved by that point, from Lance to 'Kieff, to Noel and Malik, the Sonics were, one and all, stomping the Kings into the dirt.

In the third quarter, Westbrook just took over. He didn't rest a minute. He didn't stop the onslaught. He just kept pouring it on and Coach Hollins let him, subbing out everyone but Westbrook that quarter. Russell continued his one man mission to rip the Kings a new one and he helped the Sonics go up 101-78 by the end of three.

In the final frame, Russell continued on. He didn't sit at the beginning of the fourth, he wanted the 50 points and he was kept in there until he eclipsed it, much to the chagrin of the Kings and to the delight of the fans, who chanted MVP every time he touched the ball in that quarter. They, like Russell, were angry and they, like Russell, delighted in the destructed he wreaked upon the Kings.

After Russell sat with a little over four minutes left in the game, the Kings managed to look like a basketball team again, but the damage was done. Seattle waltzed to a win and everyone knew why, including Lance Stephenson.

Quote:
He was pissed. We were pissed. He got screwed and the fans knew it, we knew it, and now the Kings know it. Everyone's gonna know it when it's all said and done.
Preach, Lance. Preach.






Around the NBA

The Thunder lost Game 1 against the Clippers in embarrassing fashion at home, 116-95, as Trey Burke -- former lottery pick of the Jazz cut last year -- erupted for 31 points, going 7-8 from deep, as the Clippers throttled the MVP. Durant had 26 points, with another 14 chipped in by Oladipo and Ibaka, but Kanter finished with only 9 points and Cameron Payne was on the back of a milk carton with only 8 points and 2 assists. OKC is reeling and needs to win Game 2 to calm fears of an unprecedented upset.

The Pelicans took Game 1 behind 27 points from Anthony Davis, as the Rockets came out slow and James Harden shot a paltry 7-of-27 from the field, finishing with only 19 points. He got help from both Rudy Gay (23 points) and Pau Gasol (11 points, 11 boards, 9 assists), but Houston scored only 15 points in the first quarter and that buried them early.

Phoenix won in a classic shootout against the Lakers, 118-112, as the Suns escaped a potential loss thanks to an explosion from Devon Booker, who finished with 31 points, 7-8 from deep. The Lakers nearly pulled it off behind Russell's 25 points, but just couldn't keep up with the Suns scoring, finishing the night shooting only 42 percent from the field.

Out East, the Knicks shocked the world and stole Game 1 from the Hornets, 78-75, in one of the more bonkers box scores you'll see. Melo finished with 23 points and nailed the crucial triple with less than four seconds left, putting the Knicks ahead, but they'd have never been in the position if the Hornets had shot better than 1-17 from beyond the arc. It was the worst shooting performance of their season from behind the arc and Kevin Love was the only one to hit a triple all game for the Hornets. Charlotte lost a fluke game, it seems, but the Knicks now have momentum.

The Bulls took Game 1, as they beat the Bucks 98-85 behind Jimmy Butler's 34 points. Butler got some help from Wade (15 points and 8 dimes) and Bobby Portis (11 points, 10 boards) as the Bulls held on despite Dwight Howard fouling out early in the second half. Milwaukee just didn't have the star power to keep up.

The Wizards have the 76ers number, as they won 121-101 in Philly. Washington could do no wrong as they got out to an 11 points lead after one and just built on it as the game went on. Philly tried to shoot their way back in, but Ben Simmons 24 points weren't enough to overcome the deadly duo of Wall (27 points) and Beal (22 points) and the Wizards are surprisingly up 1-0 on the much better 76ers.

Cleveland took care of business against Detroit in an ugly 82-73 win. Detroit let this one slip away as they had a double-digit lead entering the third, but Cleveland wiped that away with a 32 point quarter -- the Pistons only scored 16. That was the difference in the game as the Cavs spent the final quarter locking the Pistons down. Cleveland was led by Irving with 19 points (followed closely by LeBron's 17 points).
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Old 03-05-2016, 07:01 PM   #727
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlindSideNZ
Man the Kings. That's a team you'd rather not have faced right. Then likely the Pelicans next. It's going to be a tougher run this year that's for sure.

Can't expect to have a 3peat handed to you after all. But it will certainly make for entertaining reading and I thoroughly look forward to seeing how it progresses.

I'm gonna get to thinking about a name for Westbrook too. Feel like something super hero esque lol.
^Man, I don't want to see the Pelicans. I really want the Rockets to win. They can be beaten, NOLA puts up a hell of a fight every time. Sacramento was supposed to be a major threat, but they met a super-pissed off Westbrook.

And he neutralized them. We'll see how Game 2 shakes out, the Kings could steal one. Sim engine giveth, sim engine taketh away.
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Old 03-05-2016, 08:50 PM   #728
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return

Any chance of a slider change yet? 24/29 is something else, lol
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