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Thread: The Bum's 2018 NBA Trends/Stats/Best Bets Thru The Playoffs !

  1. #2041
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    King of the North: Kawhi Leonard wins Finals MVP
    June 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Kawhi Leonard's first season with the Toronto Raptors started with his now-infamous laugh.

    It ended with him getting the last laugh.

    The best player on the league's newly crowned best team is an NBA Finals MVP for the second time. Toronto finally sits atop the basketball universe, with Leonard averaging 28.5 points in a six-game finals victory over the Golden State Warriors to lead the Raptors to their first championship.

    He arguably ended any debate about who the best two-way player in the sport is at this moment.

    ''This is what I play basketball for,'' Leonard said. ''This is what I work out for.''

    The King of the North, as they've been calling Leonard in Toronto, was King of the Playoffs. He's the third player to win Finals MVP with two franchises, joining only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James.

    ''I think he's the best two-way basketball player in the NBA,'' Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. ''He just goes. You know, I've seen some stuff from him this year that you just say, `Wow.' You do. You say, `Wow.' You appreciate the work that he's put in. He works extremely hard at his game and works extremely hard on his body. And he loves this basketball thing. Loves it.''

    Perhaps never more so than Thursday night.

    After missing most of last season with a leg injury, after having his commitment questioned, after getting traded to Toronto, Leonard returned to basketball's mountaintop. He thrust both arms high into the air when it was over, letting out a scream of joy. He even allowed himself a tiny smile when he hoisted the MVP trophy.

    ''He's just a competitor,'' Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. ''We respect that, for sure. He's shown that again this entire playoff run.''

    Giannis Antetokounmpo will probably win the NBA's MVP award in a couple of weeks. James Harden and Paul George are the other finalists. And while all three of those players had marvelous regular seasons, the postseason was Leonard's personal showcase.

    He scored 732 points in the playoffs. Only Michael Jordan (759) and LeBron James (748) ever scored more in a single postseason. Leonard finished with 14 games of 30 points or more in these playoffs. The only players with more in a single postseason are Jordan (16 in 1992), Hakeem Olajuwon (16 in 1995) and Kobe Bryant (15 in 2009).

    ''Without a doubt, the best thing about this thing is that somehow I wound up on the sideline getting to watch this guy play up close,'' said Raptors coach Nick Nurse, who won an NBA title in his first season as a head coach in the league. ''It's really cool.''

    Leonard was the unquestioned leader. When the Raptors lost Game 2 of the NBA Finals at home and surrendered home-court advantage in the series, Nurse walked into a very glum locker room and reminded his team that it merely needed to win either Game 3 or Game 4 at Oracle Arena to reclaim control of the series.

    Some nodded in agreement.

    Leonard was not one of them, saying, ''Let's go get both.''

    They got both.

    And then, on their return trip to Oracle for Game 6, they got one more. They closed Oracle with a title-clincher.

    ''I don't know that any people will argue with me that he's the best two-way player in the NBA,'' Raptors President Masai Ujiri said.

    Getting Leonard was just one of a bold series of moves Ujiri made in the last 12 months. He fired last season's coach of the year in Dwane Casey and hired Nurse. He traded away three players at midseason for Marc Gasol. And he took the risk that Leonard would be both happy enough and healthy enough to take the Raptors to the newest and highest of heights.

    The trade that sent DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio for Leonard was high-risk, high-reward. Leonard was acquired on July 18 and formally introduced as training camp was beginning on Sept. 24. He can become a free agent on June 30 and he'll almost certainly make in excess of $32 million next season no matter how long a deal he ends up signing - and whether that's in Toronto or someplace else.

    ''This is the place for him,'' Ujiri said.

    Regardless of what's next, Leonard's memorable postseason won't soon be forgotten.

    There was the four-bounce-off-the-rim, at-the-buzzer jump shot from the corner to beat Philadelphia in Game 7 of the second round. A 15-point fourth quarter to lift the Raptors past Milwaukee in the pivotal Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. A 17-point third quarter at Oracle Arena in Game 4 of the finals, as the Raptors took control of the game and the series.

    ''You can always see in his eyes that at any given time he can kind of take over,'' Pascal Siakam said.

    Leonard can be thought of as enigmatic or anti-social.

    He's not really either of those things. He's just quiet.

    His path has not been an easy one. He wasn't highly recruited in high school. By the time bigger colleges were calling, he was committed to San Diego State. He wasn't even a lottery pick, getting taken No. 15 in the 2011 draft - behind the likes of Derrick Williams, Tristan Thompson, Jan Vesely, Bismack Biyombo, Jimmer Fredette and Alec Burks, none of whom averaged 10 points per game for their NBA careers.

    He rarely opens up about anything. He doesn't talk about his private life. He hardly ever discusses the murder of his father, which happened when Leonard was playing in high school. He scored 17 points in a game the day after his father was shot and killed, perhaps the ultimate proof that he's always been capable of blocking out everything else when he steps onto a court.

    ''Once it happened, I thought about it a lot,'' Leonard said. ''But as I got older, I pretty much just really stopped thinking about it. I think it just gave me a sense and feel that life and basketball are two different things and just really enjoy your time and moments. Like I always say, this is basketball; just go out there and have fun. These are going to be the best years of my life, playing this game.''

    The best year yet just happened.

    And with Leonard just entering his prime, there might be much more to come.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  2. #2042
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    Analysis: Anthony Davis trade a win-win for both sides
    June 15, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    The saga is over.

    When this trade is done, everybody can say they won.

    The Lakers, the Pelicans, Rich Paul, LeBron James, they all can take a victory lap. The trade that will be official in the coming weeks sending Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to the Los Angeles Lakers for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and three first-round draft picks - first reported by ESPN, later confirmed to The Associated Press by several people with knowledge of the matter - is perfect for both sides.

    James gets the superstar teammate he wanted. Paul, the agent James and Davis share, pulls off a power move. The Lakers instantly become major players in a suddenly open Western Conference. Davis finally gets his wish to leave New Orleans. The Pelicans don't begin Zion Williamson's era with a disgruntled superstar in the locker room. They load up on young players and have tons of draft chips to play around with.

    For the Pelicans, it's a new beginning.

    For the Lakers, it's about winning now.

    Draft picks, including No. 4 in this year's class, smartly were not overvalued by the Lakers - a team with a superstar who is turning 35 in December and should be doing anything necessary to help him win a fourth championship before his window closes. The Lakers have tons of money to spend starting June 30 and the sales pitch to Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving or anyone else changes mightily after this move.

    Before Saturday it would have been Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka saying, ''We're trying to get Anthony Davis.''

    Now it'll be Pelinka saying, ''We've got Davis, we've got LeBron and they want you with them.''

    That'll be a tough offer for anyone to ignore.

    James is going to get another Big Three out of this: It was Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and him in Miami; Kevin Love, Irving and him in Cleveland; Davis, him and TBA with the Lakers. Clearly, the focus will be on a guard, which is why the rumor mill will be all about either Walker or Irving going to Los Angeles in free agency.

    The offseason is already in high gear.

    Hard to believe it really just got started.

    This deal got agreed to before the newly crowned NBA champion Toronto Raptors - this is true - hoisted the Larry O'Brien Trophy on Canadian soil for the first time. They won Thursday night at Oracle Arena to end Golden State's reign, then stopped for a party in Las Vegas before the parade in Toronto on Monday.

    Not even 48 hours after they popped corks, the Lakers were starting their own celebration.

    Williamson will get drafted No. 1 overall on Thursday night, and he'll go to New Orleans in the awkward spot of being an 18-year-old (he doesn't turn 19 until July 6) with a franchise on his shoulders. The Lakers will still be drafting No. 4 overall, though they'll be doing so on New Orleans' behalf because the trade cannot be consummated beforehand. The Pelicans need a center, and will likely look at the trade market.

    The Pelicans have to watch an incredible player, one of the league's very best, leave. But David Griffin - the man tasked with rebuilding the Pelicans - clearly had concluded that there was no way of convincing Davis to not leave as a free agent next summer anyway. Had Griffin waited to make a deal in-season, there's almost no way he could have pulled off this kind of haul in return. The longer he waited, the less the value. So they push the reset button and move on, which was the most prudent play.

    Let the ripple effects begin.

    The Warriors not only have to figure out what to do if Kevin Durant leaves, but how to contend next year without the Achilles-rehabbing Durant and the ACL-rehabbing Klay Thompson (for at least much of the season). Other contenders in the West - Houston, Denver, Portland - will be viewing the Warriors' woes as opportunity, so they'll be looking at ways to get better as well. And Boston will be dealing with the reality that not only are its hopes of landing Davis gone, but that Irving is likely leaving as well.

    There will be countless big moves in the coming weeks. The Lakers, who have missed the playoffs in the last six seasons and have been stuck in dysfunction mode for the last couple months following the resignation of Magic Johnson and soap opera that followed, got the first one of the offseason to go their way.

    Welcome to summer. Game on.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  3. #2043
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    Injured Warriors brace for unclear summer
    June 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Steve Kerr still considers Golden State an ideal fit for Kevin Durant.

    Whether Durant sees it that way going into free agency next month, Kerr isn't about to guess. Especially now that the two-time NBA Finals MVP is headed for what could be a yearlong recovery from surgery for a ruptured right Achilles tendon.

    ''Well, the injury kind of throws everything for a loop, so I have no idea what Kevin's going to do,'' Kerr said Friday. ''I know that we all want him back, and we think this is a great situation for him and vice versa. So, hopefully we get him back and keep this thing going with the understanding that he's a free agent and we want what's best for him, and he's free to make any choice he wants. Hopefully he's back, and we will all give him any advice, any counsel that he needs. And ultimately he's going to make his own decision. He's earned that.''

    A day after losing Game 6 of the Finals to the champion Toronto Raptors, Kerr and general manager Bob Myers braced for an uncertain summer while still trying to cope with the heartbreak of seeing Durant go down in Game 5. Then Klay Thompson tore the ACL in his left knee during the third quarter of Thursday night's 114-110 loss in the final game at Oracle Arena. Durant was injured in Game 5 on Monday night in Toronto, then underwent surgery Wednesday in New York.

    ''This year more than any other tested the fabric of our team,'' Myers said. ''It's hard to not value a championship as much as I value short of winning a championship, and in some ways more than winning a championship, this year I might have been the proudest of our resolve. I don't know if that's evident. I hear that from people in the Bay Area, the support we've gotten, the things people say about kind of conducting ourselves as champions. That stuff matters. Winning matters, too, obviously. It all matters. Try to continue to hang onto that culture.''

    In February, Durant became frustrated over all the fuss and speculation about where he might play next season, and said ''I'm trying to play basketball.'' He signed a two-year contract last summer that includes a player option for the 2019-20, so Durant can become a free agent to pursue a maximum five-year deal. The Warriors are expected to try to sign both Durant and Thompson to those max contracts.

    Asked how optimistic he is about bringing back Durant, an emotionally exhausted Myers said, simply, ''I don't know'' while noting of free agency ''it's never what you think.''

    ''He's a guy who's been, like I said, what more can we ask for from him?'' Myers said. ''He's been everything to us, the guy has been everything that we could have ever dreamed. He's been an awesome member of this organization. There's so much he does in the community that probably doesn't get as many headlines, things he's done in D.C., his foundation, how he kind of lives his life. We're lucky to have been around him. Hopefully we'll keep doing that.''

    All season, the Warriors were determined to cherish this ride together knowing the roster could look far different once training camp rolls around in September - along with the venue as Golden State moves across the bay to the new Chase Center in San Francisco. Golden State's players also insist they have never taken for granted the special five-year run featuring three championships and five consecutive Finals berths.

    ''In the history of this NBA you could highlight every team that was supposed to win or had the best team and all the different story lines. And 82 games and a full playoff run, a lot can happen,'' Stephen Curry said. ''It's just a matter of how much you fight and just leave it all out there on the floor. I think the way that we have talked and described this journey and whatnot, I don't think there's ever been a situation where we have taken anything for granted. And that's something I can look back and just hold.

    ''We all can hold our head high that we gave it everything we got. ... Two guys who go down and the game's kind of taken away from them in those moments, it's not a good feeling at all. And it's kind of a helpless feeling in terms of two freak plays that send these guys back to the locker room. So it's tough, but it's part of basketball, it's part of the game. Again, I just hope their recoveries are strong and they come back better than they were before.''

    Thompson's knee surgery has not yet been set. Kerr doesn't expect to ever see two injuries this severe in consecutive Finals games again.

    He was still stunned a day later, and Myers, too. Now the GM must immediately turn his focus toward next week's draft and then free agency. Both expressed their tremendous pride in how the Warriors fought despite being denied a three-peat.

    ''You're talking about two career-altering injuries to two of your best players in back-to-back Finals games. Unheard of. It will probably never happen again,'' Kerr said. ''We're in new territory now and you just have to keep moving forward.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  4. #2044
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    Raptors' title sees Canada set records
    June 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    LAS VEGAS (AP) The final numbers are in, and the NBA Finals were a smashing success for Canada all the way around.

    The NBA said Friday that 56% percent of the Canadian population watched at least some part of the NBA Finals, with an average viewership of about 8 million for the Toronto Raptors' title-winning victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6.

    The league also said the total combined U.S. and Canadian audience for the finals was up 11 percent over the combined viewership of the 2018 title series between Golden State and Cleveland.

    Thursday's game was the most-watched NBA game in Canadian television history, a record that was toppled several times during this postseason because of the Raptors' popularity. Viewership for each of the six finals games rank among the 10 most-watched television programs in Canada so far this year.

    ''Everybody who supported us during the season, all the fans in Toronto, everyone in Canada - this is for you,'' Raptors forward Serge Ibaka said after Toronto's first NBA championship. ''This is for Canada, baby. You should be proud.''

    And not only were Canadians watching, but they were buying.

    The NBA said that online sales through the league's official portals smashed records for the day following the end of a championship series, up more than 80 percent from the previous mark (set when Cleveland beat Golden State in 2016) and were more than 100 percent over sales on the day following the Warriors' sweep of the Cavaliers last season.

    The Raptors are planning a parade in Toronto on Monday, one that will likely take more than two hours.

    ''This means so much to our city and to many in Canada, and we are looking forward to showing everyone the Larry O'Brien Trophy on Monday,'' Raptors president Masai Ujiri said. ''Bringing the NBA championship to Toronto is the realization of a goal for our team and for our players, and we are thrilled to be able to celebrate together with our fans.''

    The newly crowned NBA champions, who won the title in Oakland, California on Thursday night, are expected back in Toronto on Saturday. They were planning to spend Friday night celebrating in Las Vegas.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  5. #2045
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    Draft, free agency...and lots of questions
    June 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is expected to open next week's draft by announcing that Zion Williamson is the No. 1 overall selection headed to New Orleans. And four months after that, Silver will be in Toronto on opening night to help the Raptors hand out championship rings and watch them raise a banner.

    There are few other certainties in the NBA right now.

    The league has a new champion and a new landscape. Toronto has climbed to the mountaintop, defeating a Golden State team that lost All-Stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to major injuries toward the end of the NBA Finals. For the first time in a half-decade, the Warriors won't be the overwhelming favorites to win it all next season. They might not even be favored to win the Western Conference.

    ''I think true champions like we are, we should be able to adapt and keep this same kind of DNA no matter what our roster looks like next year,'' Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. ''And have high hopes about being back on this stage, whether it looks the same or not.''

    It won't look the same. Not much will next season.

    The champion Raptors don't know if they'll be keeping NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who becomes a free agent in a couple weeks and one that every team with lots of spending power will want. Danny Green, who went to Toronto in the deal that brought Leonard, is a free agent. Marc Gasol, a huge midseason pickup, is a free agent. There are even reports that Raptors President Masai Ujiri may consider leaving.

    ''I was focused on the now, and I wanted to make history here and that's all I did,'' Leonard said. ''I'm still playing basketball no matter what jersey I have on.''

    Durant won't be playing on opening night next season, and almost certainly not on any night next season because of his torn Achilles - though he'll still be highly coveted if he hits the free-agent market as expected. Thompson will miss, at minimum, most of the regular season with his torn ACL. The Warriors may lose DeMarcus Cousins in free agency and Shaun Livingston to retirement.

    The team going to San Francisco might look much different than the one that ended this season in Oakland.

    Longtime NBA stars like Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker will be gone, enjoying retirements. Vince Carter plans to be back for a 22nd and final season. Leonard, LeBron James and Andre Iguodala - if he returns, which is expected - may be the only three players on the court to start the season with an NBA Finals MVP trophy in their possession.

    There will be new coaches taking over in Sacramento, Phoenix, Cleveland, Memphis and with the Los Angeles Lakers. The makeups of the front-office teams in Washington and New Orleans will be different.

    And then there's all the player movement, which could be seismic.

    Anthony Davis may be traded by the Pelicans, as the soap opera there continues. Kyrie Irving, who told Boston fans before the season that he'd re-sign with the Celtics, is going to be a free agent. Durant might change teams. Thompson may as well, though that seems unlikely. Kemba Walker is dropping every hint that he wants to stay in Charlotte.

    ''I don't know if I'll sign back with them,'' said Walker, who is eligible for a supermax contract worth $221 million over five years. ''I'm not sure. But they are my first priority. ... We'll see when the time comes.''

    There's going to be a lot of ''we'll see'' over the next few months.

    Milwaukee had the NBA's best regular-season record at 60-22 and will likely enter next season with the MVP - if Giannis Antetokounmpo walks away with that trophy on June 24. He's vowing to improve and that might make the Bucks, who have some free-agent decisions to ponder, better as well.

    ''Giannis is going to get better,'' Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. ''To be excited about his future at 24 ... the thing that makes Giannis unique and exciting is in our minds, we feel like he's going to get a lot better. Giannis, we feel, has got a lot of room to grow.''

    Philadelphia gave Toronto all it wanted in a seven-game series, and seeing the Raptors win the title might convince the 76ers that they're right there as far as being a championship-ready club. In L.A., James missed the finals for the first time since 2010 and will surely be motivated for better things - if the Lakers can escape the dysfunctional rut that they've been in for the past few months. Houston may sense opportunity with Golden State ailing. Oklahoma City has two elite players in Russell Westbrook and Paul George, both coming off surgeries. Perhaps it's time for a team like Denver or Portland to take another big step forward.

    At this time last year, few thought the Raptors would win the 2019 championship.

    Everyone should stay tuned to see who wins in 2020 - there are no guarantees.

    ''I know how hard it's been, how hard it is to get here,'' Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said, a few minutes after he became a champion for the first time. ''And it takes some luck.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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