Bittersweet: Cavs Lost But LeBron Becomes the Youngest to Reach 30,000 Points

The Spurs make the King bleed for his points as Cleveland drops 4 of their last 5 games

There’s no stopping LeBron James now. He has been ripping through numerous history books and some jerseys too. Some even claim that he is the greatest player of all time to play the game of basketball, possibly greater than the likes of Kobe Bryant and yes, even His Airness, Michael Jordan.
While stopping Lebron James seems an impossible task to accomplish even among elite defenders in the NBA, stopping, beating and adding to the miseries of the still losing Cleveland Cavaliers seems a lot easier these days.
On a night when LeBron James became the youngest NBA player to reach 30,000 career points, the San Antonio Spurs finally broke out of their own slump as the Spurs beat the Cavs,114-102.
What were the differences?

LaMarcus Aldridge’s 30 points

With Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili and Pau Gasol all out and are resting their injured bodies, the Spurs turned to LaMarcus Aldridge this time around. And Aldridge delivered as he led all scorers with 30 points on 12 for 18 field goal shooting. He added 8 rebounds, 2 steals and a blocked shot for another complete big man. Most of his points came from mid-range jumpers off perfect pick-and-roll plays. Now that’s efficiency, folks.

Clamped Down Defense

As mentioned, stopping LeBron James is virtually a nightmare but it doesn’t mean that you can’t slow him down. Sure, he had 28 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists, an MVP-kind of a stat line but the Spurs played suffocating defense on the King which worked to perfection because the King shot 10 for 23 from the field including a horrible 2 for 6 performance from downtown. Also, the King turned the ball over 5 times. 

Conclusion

If you have seen Tyronn Lue’s clueless face during the game, that’s exactly how clueless the Cavs were. While there’s no denying that Cleveland is now in a crisis, they will have to fix whatever issues they have because LeBron James can’t save them every single game even if he goes supernova. 
On the other hand, it seems that the Spurs are slowly learning to play and win without Kawhi Leonard and without Tony Parker as their starting point guard and for San Antonio, that’s definitely a good sign because they continue to trust one another. After all, the Spurs might be the dark horse who can take down the empire of the Golden State Warriors. 

TP9 Loses Starting Spot, Kawhi is Growing "Unhappy": What’s Next for the Spurs?

Kawhi Leonard San Antonio Spurs

It appears that San Antonio will have their hands full in the next few months

Ever since Tim Duncan came into the NBA back in 1997, the San Antonio Spurs have yet to miss the playoffs. They have won 5 championships along the way and it could have been 6 if not to Ray Allen’s clutch three-pointer back in the 2013 NBA Finals. Even with Tim Duncan probably rocking his chair elsewhere, enjoying his retirement, the Spurs have managed to keep themselves competitive despite injury problems that have hit Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Kawhi Leonard.
Right now, the Spurs have a 30-18 record and are in 4th place in the Western Conference. They have dropped 6 of their last 10 games and are on a 2-game losing slide. What’s worse is that they are set to face the Cleveland Cavaliers next.
And things are not looking good for the Spurs. Earlier this week, Tony Parker has been demoted from his starting position as Gregg Popovich has promoted Dejounte Murray as the team’s new starting point guard. While this move has been anticipated by many considering the mere fact that Tony Parker has been dealing with injuries over the course of the past few seasons, Parker has openly embraced this decision by his team, even saying that this move was already expected.
While the Spurs can still enjoy Tony Parker’s presence on the floor, things have been strangely different with the Kawhi Leonard situation. To begin with, Leonard has only played sparingly this season as he just recovered from the injury which kept him out during last season’s playoffs. Now? Kawhi Leonard is rumored to be possibly missing the rest of the regular season but that’s not the bad part.
According to sources, Kawhi Leonard has grown “unhappy” and apparently, his relationship with the Spurs has been strained as of late. While the former Finals MVP’s camp and the Spurs front office have denied this story, various elements on the ways of treating and rehabilitating Leonard’s injury have a chilling impact on the star- the sources claimed.
If it’s true that Kawhi Leonard has grown “unhappy” with the Spurs despite the Spurs being known as a good team due to their ways of managing their players and, with aging stars slowly losing their minutes to younger teammates, this could only mean one thing: the Spurs are already preparing for life after Gregg Popovich.

What’s next for the Spurs?

Losing Kawhi Leonard for the rest of the season could force San Antonio could make the necessary moves to ensure that their playoff streak will continue. While there’s a lot of potentials for Dejounte Murray to develop into a star point guard in the near future, it will take a long time before that could materialize which means that the Spurs will have to rely on someone else aside from LaMarcus Aldridge. 
While it’s impossible for now to see the Spurs trade Kawhi Leonard, we all have to face the reality that Kawhi Leonard is no longer the same player he used to be during the past few seasons. He may have been one of the best two-way players but getting injured and growing unhappy? It’s a big problem. 
For the Spurs to avoid losing Kawhi Leonard for nothing, they must make the decision: trade him for their future superstar. 

Conclusion

Kawhi Leonard has only appeared in 9 games this season including in two of their last 10 games. Tony Parker has returned to being a role player off the bench. Only the Spurs themselves can really tell us what their next move will be. But if they want to ensure that they can stay competitive come playoff time, sacrifices must be made. 

Prediction: Kawhi-less Spurs vs. the Defenseless Cavs

LeBron James and Manu Ginobili

Two struggling teams both on the 3rd spot of both conferences. Who would win? Or who would fall first?

Yes, both squads aren’t standing as tough as they could but they are in different situations.
Cavs is in a conflict despite the team and its key players present all the time while San Antonio struggles without their key player Kawhi Leonard.
The Spurs is dealing with some mental or emotional hardship while the Cavs were really being rained down with embarrassing defeats.
So I guess, San Antonio’s not mentally conditioned while Cleveland couldn’t just give enough to win games.
After all, Cavs mental condition might’ve been affected after losing some must-win games especially the Warriors game followed by another unfortunate loss against OKC recently.
So what would be the story of this matchup?

Weak defense vs. Incomplete Offense

Cavs loss was due to their defensive issues like letting the opponent score too much than usual which is, of course, a result of a very loose wall defense. On the other hand, Spurs would play without Kawhi.
It would be a battle of singlehanded powerhouse teams that are now perhaps not at full power like they used to be.
The outcome would depend on how fast the score would rise. A low scoring ball game means that the Cavs are taking control, otherwise, it would be the Spurs walking with heads high even without Kawhi.
It would be an adjustment within the match. Whoever adopts first with their weaknesses to take advantage of the other side’s vulnerability would prevail.
Cavs way to win is to force Spurs to turnovers, make them miss a lot of shots and deliver empty possessions while the best way for Spurs is for someone off the bench to set up and fill in Kawhi’s void. 

Balls-Eye: Would Spurs Slide Without Kawhi?

Kawhi Leonard

Let us reminisce the tragic injury moment of Kawhi Leonard during their series against the Golden State Warriors.
Without Kawhi, the Spurs rally way back that season ended in the hands of the defending champs.
How about this season?
The Spurs team announced Kawhi’s absence as indefinite. An extremely disastrous scenario for the Spurs as they would be severely downgraded on the fiery battle for the top spot. They are currently hanging on the top three and is going head to head against the Rockets and the Dubs.
Kawhi’s absence may affect the Spurs games both directly and indirectly. Of course, damage infliction is for certain once the ace has fallen. Directly in a sense that they have lost temporarily but lengthy a major scorer and offensive runner. Indirectly in a way that the whole team would probably be in despair as they would be reminded of their fall on the western finals against Warriors.
Nevertheless, regular season games are quite different as compared to playoff games particularly pressure and materiality of the game.
What they may be at risk right now is their chance of climbing up to the uppermost position in the western conference.
Yet unlike that season, it isn’t the end for Spurs. Not even close to the end of their season.
Their next opponent would be another team from the other end which is also trying to get to the top. The Toronto Raptors. It would be a great test of their readiness to fight without Kawhi once again.
This match would make us predetermine Spurs’ future performances without Kawhi if ever his absence would be extended or he’d be gone again at some point in time. 

Opinion: The Lakers SHOULD Retire Pau Gasol’s #16

Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers

Like it or not, he played better than Dwight Howard and helped LA win championships.

When your team retires your jersey number, your greatness will forever be immortalized not just by your team and your fans but by the league that you’ve been playing for a long time. A jersey retirement ceremony is definitely an emotional occasion for any player because it means that the team is making sure that your legacy as a player will forever hang among the team’s greats. 
Just last month, the Los Angeles Lakers retired not one but two of Kobe Bryant’s jersey numbers that he wore during his 20-year stint with the Purple and Gold. And frankly, the Black Mamba deserves all of the praises that he continues to receive even though he’s long retired from the NBA. Who could score 81 points in a game? Or, who could finish his career by pouring in 60 points in his final game? Only one player did those things. His name is Kobe Bean Bryant.
Back in the 2007-2008 season, the league was shocked when the Memphis Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol and a draft to the Lakers in exchange for 4 players which include KWAME BROWN and the draft rights to Marc Gasol. That trade benefited the Lakers early on as they went on to the NBA Finals that season only to lose to the Boston Celtics in 6 games. But, the Lakers came back stronger, winning the next two NBA championships, with the last one being against the Celtics in a series that went to a classic Game 7 at Staples Center.
The Lakers then parted ways with their Spanish giant as Gasol bounced from the Chicago Bulls until finding a new home with the San Antonio Spurs where he recently signed a 3-year deal. Unfortunately, Gasol’s numbers have been on a downhill drive as he’s only averaging 10 points and 8 rebounds this season. He’s the 4th leading scorer of the Spurs behind LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay.
After beating the Spurs for their third straight win, current Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton has said that the Lakers should indeed retire Pau Gasol’s #16.

Question: Should the Lakers retire #16 beside #8 and #24?

While it’s debatable that Pau Gasol isn’t among the best players to play for the Purple and Gold, just imagine if he wasn’t traded to Hollywood back in 2008, would the Lakers have gone to 3 straight Finals and won 2 NBA championships during that span of time? Nope!
Frankly, this pundit on wheels really thinks that Pau Gasol’s number should be retired by the Lakers for one good reason: he helped Kobe Bryant win 2 more championships while averaging 18 points for 3 seasons. 
Statistically, Pau is ranking among the greats of the Lakers. He’s in the 9th place in the all-time’s rebounding average while he’s also in 7th place in the blocks per game.

Conclusion

While Pau Gasol has been repeatedly criticized for his being “soft” on defense, there’s no denying the fact that he was fully utilized by Phil Jackson during their stint together in LA and it produced 2 championships. Is Pau among the Lakers’ great? Debatable. Does he deserve a jersey retirement ceremony? Definitely. 

Popovich: LaMarcus Aldridge Asked to be Traded before the Season

LaMarcus Aldridge San Antonio Spurs

But Pop and  LMA came to an understanding. Eventually.
Gregg Popovich has been connected with some of the greatest legends to ever play the game. Greats like David Robinson, Tim Duncan and now, Kawhi Leonard has seen their respective games improve on a tremendous rate ever since they came over to the San Antonio Spurs and play under the guidance of one of the greatest coaches in the NBA.
Nowadays, with both David Robinson and Grandpa Tim Duncan both long retired and Kawhi Leonard who only recently returned is dealing with another injury, the attention shifts to LaMarcus Aldridge. To give credit to this man, LMA has been leading the Spurs this season, averaging 22 points, 8 rebounds and 1 blocks while playing 41 games- starting all 41 games. This has helped the Spurs who despite playing most of the current season without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker, holds the 3rd best record in the Western Conference at 28-15. And frankly, LMA deserves the praises that he is getting nowadays.
However, did you know that LaMarcus Aldridge was almost traded prior to the season?
Almost.
According to none other than Gregg Popovich himself, he revealed that LMA asked to be traded during the summer prior to this season. The usually-too serious Popovich even joked that if an LMA trade can get the Spurs a Kevin Durant, he would even help Aldridge pack his bags, drive him to the airport and will even make sure that LMA is well seated in the plane. Fortunately, the two eventually agreed to figure things out and LMA wasn’t traded, for now.
To Gregg Popovich, the moment Aldridge requested for a trade was for him, the main catalyst for the two gentlemen to come to a better understanding which eventually helped LMA have a resurgent season. Mind you, folks. his numbers this season are way better compared to his first two seasons with San Antonio when he averaged 18 and 17 points per game respectively.

Conclusion

Imagine if LaMarcus Aldridge was traded before the start of the season, the Spurs would have been in a much worst situation because it would have meant that the Spurs would only have Manu Ginobili and Pau Gasol to start the season. Fortunately, LMA stuck around and the Spurs are gunning for another deep run come the playoffs.  Despite his struggles, LaMarcus is still among the league’s elite power forwards. 

Partial Tear on Shoulder to Keep Kawhi Out

Kawhi Leonard missed the first 27 games of the regular season as he was still recovering from the injury that he sustained during last season’s playoffs. Then he came back, fortunately. In his 8 games that he played this season, he averaged 15 points and 4 rebounds while showing signs that he is slowly regaining his old dominant self.
Unfortunately, he is about to miss more games this season.
That is according to Coach Gregg Popovich who confirmed that Kawhi Leonard has sustained a partial tear in his left shoulder-  an injury Leonard was said to have sustained during the game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Phoenix Suns- a game that was won by the Spurs, 103-89. 
Despite playing most of the season without one of the best 2-way players in the NBA, not to mention Tony Parker who recently returned from an injury as well, the Spurs now stand at 27-13, the third-best in the Western Conference and 5th best in the NBA. They have won 7 of their last 10 games and will start a road trip which begins with a game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

What Leonard’s latest injury means for the Spurs?

For starters, Kawhi Leonard missing more games during the regular season means he gets to rest and when the playoffs come along, he’ll be in a fresher condition to lead the Spurs anew.
But missing Leonard could also mean that the Spurs can continue playing AND winning even without their superstar thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge who is averaging 22 points, 8 rebound, and a block this season. This will also mean more minutes for emerging young gun, Kyle Anderson who is leading the Spurs in steals, averaging 1.2 steals per game. 

Conclusion

There’s no denying the fact that Kawhi Leonard has yet to play like the Finals MVP he was once a few years back but people can’t count him out just yet. Like Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard can definitely return better whether it’s in the latter part of the regular season or during the playoffs.
For now, the Spurs will have to play without #2. After all, they’ve beaten teams without him, right?

By the Numbers: 3 Reasons why the Rockets Kept their Streak

The Houston Rockets are now on a 12-game winning streak

During the last few seasons, the Houston Rockets were one of the inconsistent teams in the league. They had Dwight Howard to team up with James Harden which didn’t produce a championship. Last season,  the Rockets bowed down to the San Antonio Spurs in 6 games of the West’s semifinals. While many people were questioning James Harden’s lack of capability to lead his team, we all know if given the right teammates, James Harden can make the fans of Houston proud.
And that’s exactly what is happening right now. Alongside his new backcourt partner, Chris Paul, James Harden is now leading the Houston Rockets to brand new heights as they are riding on their 12-game winning streak after a big victory over fellow Texas team, the San Antonio Spurs, 124-109. That win improved the NBA’s best record to 23-4.
So what enabled the Rockets to win their 12th straight game? Below are the numbers:

The Chris Paul Effect Continues

Like it or not, Chris Paul’s capability to play the point guard position like a god is doing the wonders for James Harden and company. The beauty of it, the Rockets are perfect this season when Chris Paul is playing- averaging 17 points per game. Against the Spurs, CP3 scored 28 points, 8 assists and 7 STEALS. Now that’s a point guard, folks.

Balanced Offense from Starters

The Spurs’ starting unit was outplayed all throughout the game. The Rockets’ starting 5 combined for 97 of the Rockets’ 124 points. Aside from the 28 points each of James Harden and Chris Paul respectively, Clint Capela contributed 18 points and 10 rebounds while Ryan Anderson and Trevor scored 12 and 11 respectively.
On the other side, only LaMarcus Aldridge (16 points) and Kawhi Leonard (12 points) were the lone starters of the Spurs who scored in double figures. 

Blasting Start

One of the reasons why the Rockets were able to run away to another victory was the fact that they started the game by scoring 31 big points in the first quarter alone while limiting the Spurs to 16 points.

Conclusion

Will the Rockets continue their streak? As of posting time, they are up against the Milwaukee Bucks. Can they extend their streak to 13? That’s up to their backcourt duo. 

Balls-Eye: Spurs’ Last Shot for Redemption

Manu Ginobili

We all know how bad the San Antonio Spurs suffered against the Warriors in the western conference finals when Kawhi Leonard got injured and their spot in the finals blurred out.
This season, all they want is redemption, revenge against the squad which crushed them and left Kawhi as a casualty. Yet, they failed with another loss 112 – 92. Since then, they never got another match and they are still hungry for vengeance.
But now, here comes a team who managed to destroy their rival. The Houston Rockets which are reigning currently in the league led by their guard James Harden.
It will be a significant victory for Spurs if they can overthrow the number one team in the western conference. Though not directly defeating the Warriors, still they can somehow feel redemption after beating a team that’s relatively stronger than the Warriors ‘currently’.
It would be a great step for the Spurs to have a boosted morale once again.

Can they beat the Rockets?

Well if there will be an appropriate team to compare with the Houston Rockets, it will be the Boston Celtics just waving at them at the peak of another mountain in the east. Now why did I mention this? It is because Spurs lost against Boston but managed to beat them on the 2nd time.

On the 2nd time.

But the problem is they’ll face the Rockets this season for the 1st time. Can they? For redemption? For revival, for a huge step on the goal. This is the story. Questions that’ll be answered by the Spurs and Rockets clash.

Good News Spurs, Kawhi Leonard is Nearing Return

Kawhi Leonard is Playing 5 on 5 Basketball in Practice

Spurs fans have something to smile about as their best player is back to playing 5 on 5 in practice.  Kawhi Leonard has not played a single game in the season as he continues to rehab from his quad injury.
Kawhi Leonard will certainly be of big help for the Spurs but the team has been holding up without him ranking 3rd in the Western Conference only behind the Rockets and the Warriors at 14 wins – 7 losses.
Coach Gregg Popovich said Kawhi Leonard (quad) is entering “the last steps” of his rehab. “He’s starting to feel in a little bit better shape and feeling more confident,” .
Tony Parker, his teammate, also came from an injury and has so far played two games with limited minutes. Parker at 35 is one of the veteran players of the Spurs and is not expected to play heavy minutes, unlike Kawhi Leonard.

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The Spurs have not announced his date of return but according to sources, we could see him back in action in 2 to 3 weeks.

Tony Parker Set to Return

A Wheeler’s Opinion: Will it help the Spurs?

Tony Parker, despite being old, is still one of the league’s most beloved point guards and he is definitely one of the best international players to step on an NBA court. He may not be the same TP9 we all saw during his younger years but he can still bring young guards to school. 
Tony Parker hasn’t played since May during last season’s playoffs after sustaining an injury during the Spurs’ series against James Harden and the Houston Rockets- a series that the Spurs lost. We haven’t seen Tony Parker since then and many thought that that was the last time we would see TP9.
Nope!
After missing a month this season, Tony Parker has announced through Facebook that yes, he’ll finally make his season debut against the Dallas Mavericks who are making a surge as of late after starting the season on a horrible way. 

Question: will Tony Parker’s return help the Spurs?

Yes! 

Sure, the Spurs are steadily catching up with the Golden State Warriors and the Rockets as they are in 3rd place in the West with a 12-7 record. Mind you, folks. Aside from not having Parker, the Spurs are also playing and winning without Kawhi Leonard who has been injured after you-know-who caused him an injury during last season’s Western Conference Finals between the Spurs and the eventual champions, the Warriors. 

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Having said that, the Spurs will generally benefit just by having Tony Parker back on the floor. Why? 
While Patty Mills has produced decent numbers in 19 games this season, so far, averaging 8 points and a team-leading 3 assists per game, it’s Tony Parker’s leadership skills plus his playmaking abilities that the Spurs will get back once TP9 suits up. It’s that simple. Plus, having Parker around will provide additional stability in the point guard position plus, additional firepower.

Related:  No One Knows When Kawhi Leonard is Returning Not Even the Spurs

Conclusion

Although we haven’t witnessed TP9 play this season, we can all expect the Spurs to become a better with their French point guard manning the point starting tomorrow against Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks. Tony Parker has dealt with many injuries in the past and yet, he keeps on coming back, better- one way or another. Now that’s longevity. 

Great News Spurs Fans: Tony Parker is Back!

#ImBack – Tony Parker

Get ready #SpursNation, I’m coming back on tomorrow’s game against Dallas! I’m really excited to play again. It has been some tough months with a lot of recovery, patience and mental strength. I wanted to thank everyone who believed in my return. Fans, Family, Friends, my Recovery Team and the San Antonio Spurs, I couldn’t have done this without your support.

Go Spurs!

One of the primary pieces of the Spurs roster is back as the veteran point guard finally announced on his Facebook page that he will be finally returning in the line up against the Dallas Mavericks, tomorrow morning Manila time.

35-year-old Tony Parker have missed 19 games this season due to injury and his season debut is much anticipated by fans. The Spurs has been playing without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker but is holding up pretty well in the tough western division with 12 wins and 7 losses record, third in the western conference, only behind the Rockets and the Warriors.

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No One Knows When Kawhi Leonard is Returning Not Even the Spurs

The Spurs has no time table for Kawhi Leonard

The 26-year-old and best two-way player in the NBA have not seen any action for the season yet owning to injury and while Tony Parker is scheduled to play against Mavs, Kawhi Leonard is nowhere near playing basketball.

Greg Popovich has been giving us false hope

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said.
But the truth of the matter is that Greg Popovich has never encountered an injury like Kawhi’s and the Spurs medical team has not been able to provide any time table for his return. Kyle Anderson has been playing his position while he is gone but isn’t really able to duplicate his performance.
Kawhi Leonard will remain on the sideline for Monday’s match up with the Mavericks as he watches Tony Parker play his first ever game for the season.  Leonard has played his best NBA season last year averaging 25.5 points per game.

A Wheeler’s Opinion: Who are the Most Disappointing Teams in the West Right Now?

After promising starts, big roster moves during the offseason, these teams are still faltering

The Thunder, despite having a talented Big 3, are failing to live up to expectations.
There’s no doubt in everyone’s minds that the Western Conference is still for the Golden State Warriors to dominate, no matter what the other teams in the West do with their respective teams. They can try to challenge the Warriors of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson but not every West team have enough firepower to even match the offensive outburst of the Warriors. But despite that, all teams in the West have made notable moves whether it’s signing of new guys, to the hiring of new coaches and yes, some have assembled their own Big 3.
Now that the season is 5 weeks-old, the Warriors are back on top of the standings after struggling during the early goings of the season and yes, they are tied with the Houston Rockets with an identical record at 13-4. Following them are the San Antonio Spurs who are still without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. 
But let’s not talk about how good the West is right now because not all teams in the West are doing great this season so far and this basketball pundit on wheels listed down below the three teams in the West who are failing miserably to live up to expectations:

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Oklahoma City Thunder: 7-9 (tied with the Memphis Grizzlies in the 9th spot)

There’s no disappointing team in the West than the Thunder themselves. Why?
They have Russell Westbrook- a triple-double machine who won last season’s MVP award. They also have Paul George and Carmelo Anthony- two players who were traded to Oklahoma City during the offseason- and two notable offensive players.  
The problem is, they haven’t found any kind of rhythm that will enable them to go on a notable winning streak.  So far, they already dropped against some of the West’s elite teams including the San Antonio Spurs and yes, they even lost to the Sacramento Kings- one of the West’s worst teams. 
With a game against Warriors coming their way, this basketball pundit on wheels really thinks that the Thunder will need to win that specific game to gain some sort of confidence because if not, there’s a chance that they might not even make the playoffs.

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Memphis Grizzlies: 7-9 (tied with the Thunder for the 9th/10th spot) 

Speaking of Marc Gasol and the rest of the Memphis Grizzlies, this is a team that used to be in top 3 in the West a few weeks ago and now, they are not even in the top 8 thanks to their 5-game losing streak which included two defeats from the hands of the Rockets. They’ve lost 8 of their last 10 games and with a game against the Dallas Mavericks coming up, the Grizzlies can use that game to return to their winning ways because they are fading right now.

Los Angeles Clippers: 5-11 (13th spot)

The Clippers have lost Chris Paul. They have lost JJ Reddick. They even lost Jamal Crawford. Sure, Blake Griffin is healthy. So is DeAndre Jordan. But that didn’t prevent the Clippers from losing all of their last 9 games. They lost to the New York Knicks, the Spurs and most notably, the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game that they could have won. In effect, the fans of the Los Angeles Lakers are laughing at the Clippers right now. Why? The Lakers are currently in the top 8 and the Clippers are not.

Thunder drops down to no. 9 in West after Spurs defeat

It seemed like the Thunder victory was established when they cracked up the biggest lead of 23 points, but the San Antonio surprisingly came back and managed to bag a 3 point win.

Pau George looking for a miracle

Both are teams seeking for vengeance against the defending champs, Russell Westbrook wants to defeat the Warriors for his grudges against former partner Kevin Durant, whilst the San Antonio wants to get back on the Dubs to avenge Kawhi Leonard’s  as well as the team’s fall when their ace was injured badly in the conference finals series.  But it seems like the Spurs are way ahead of this chase for redemption.
LaMarcus Aldridge led Spurs to their 10th victory with 26 points, taking free throws carefully, shooting 10 out of 12 backed up by Danny Green with 17 points, shooting 5 triples.
OKC in full control of the 1st 12 minutes, sizzled with a humongous 18 – 0 run in the final 5 minutes of the 1st spearheaded by OKC’s triple threat, 1st quarter ended 32 – 15 in favor of the Raging Thunder.
17 point lead even got more swollen up to a 23 point deficit in the early minutes of the 2nd quarter, but it’s Spurs turn to bolster their offense with a 10 – 0 run. Danny Green and Pau Gasol ran the offense, entering the dugout only behind 7 points, 55-48.

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It was a tied ball game at the before the start of the 4th, Spurs slowly got back every quarter that passed whilst OKC ran out of steam as the game approaches the final crucial minutes. Their seemingly winning 23 point lead completely melted down.
It was a clear sign that Spurs defeated the OKC in the clash evidenced by Russell Westbrook’s number who usually plays and finishes with a triple-double but at the end of the game, Westbrook was one assist and rebound short to match his ‘usual’ game.
Scores
Spurs 104 – Aldridge 26, Green 17, Gasol 14, Anderson 10, Mills 8, bench – 29
Thunder 101 – Anthony 20, George 18, Adams 16, Westbrook 15, Roberson 2, bench – 30

By the Numbers: Bucks Win in Bledsoe’s Debut

Having Bledsoe around makes life easier especially for Giannis Antetokuonmpo

Giannis Antetokuonmpo had another stellar performance against an elite team in the West.
After starting the season with an impressive record, the Milwaukee Bucks stumbled anew as they dropped 4 straight games. Fortunately, Eric Bledsoe, who was traded from the Phoenix Suns, made life brighter and easier for the Bucks despite not participating in any of the Bucks’ practices right after the deal aside from the morning shootaround heading into their game against the San Antonio Spurs.
In a game that was relatively close all throughout, the Milwaukee Bucks came out victorious as they beat the inconsistent San Antonio Spurs, 94-87- thanks to another MVP-like performance from the Greek Freak and a stellar performance from the Bucks’ newest point guard, Eric Bledsoe.
As mentioned, the game between the Spurs and Bucks was close but below are the numbers that won the game for the Bucks:

58 Rebounds

Now, the Bucks are only averaging 38 rebounds per game heading into the game against the Spurs- and they are 38th in the league in rebounds. Against San Antonio who is 9th in the league with 45 rebounds per game, the Bucks grabbed 58 rebounds- 11 of those came from the offensive ends. Aside from his 28 points to lead all scorers, Giannis Antetokuonmpo also grabbed 12 rebounds. Now that’s all-around performance, folks.

The Bledsoe Effect

Make no mistake, folks. Eric Bledsoe is still among the exciting guards we have in the NBA where everyone was talking about Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, among others. In his much-awaited debut for the Bucks, Bledsoe scored 13 points and dished out 7 assists in 29 minutes of action. With Bledsoe at the point guard position, the Bucks just earned a dynamic duo which includes Bledsoe and the Greek Freak. The future looks brighter for these Bucks, right?

Aggressiveness: Worked Both Ways

Like it or not, the Bucks were the more aggressive team last night as they pounded on the points especially in the shaded area where they were able to outscore the Spurs, 52-44. Also, the wards of Coach Jason Kidd were able to run on the break, outscoring San Antonio, 19-8 in fastbreak points. Aside from attacking the inside defense of the Spurs which allowed the Bucks to get 13 fouls, it was Milwaukee’s aggressive defense that made the difference. The Bucks had 7 blocks- 4 from Antetokuonmpo alone. 

Conclusion

Eric Bledsoe’s numbers during his Milwaukee debut may be a small thing but give him and Giannis Antetokuonmpo time to blend in, they might become the next best 1-2 punch not just in the East but, in the entire NBA. 

By the Numbers: Warriors Beat Spurs Anew

GSW fell behind early but dominate in the 4th

Klay Thompson led the way with 27 points

One team is hoping to get back to their dominating self while the other is hoping to end their miseries. Unfortunately, only the team who wanted to regain its dominating self was able to get what they wanted as the Golden State Warriors recovered from their early struggles and went on to score a 112-92 victory over the still free-falling San Antonio Spurs who are still without the services of star players Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard.
So what happened? What did the defending champions do right this time around? And how did the Spurs drop their 4th consecutive game after starting the regular reason with a 4-0 start? Below are the numbers:

72 Points for the Warriors’ Big 3

Once again, it was the most hated trio of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry who poured in the points for GSW as the Big 3 of Oakland combined to outscore the entire starting 5 of Gregg Popovich who was ejected late in the game, 72-65. Klay Thompson top-scored with 27 points including 5 three-pointers. Kevin Durant had another stellar night with his 24 points, 8 rebounds 5 assists and 3 blocks. Curry had 21 while making 3 of his 4 attempts from deep. Now that’s how a Big 3 should be. Dominating.

50% from Deep. Splash!

During the course of the last 3 seasons, if there’s one team can shoot threes and make threes like there’s no more tomorrow, it’s none other than the Warriors themselves. 
Against the undermanned crew of Gregg Popovich, the Warriors unleashed a barrage of threes all game long. Golden State went 14 of 28 from long distance, good enough for 50% 3-point shooting. 
The Spurs, on the other hand, were miserable as their 4-game losing streak, only made 7 of their 24 attempts from beyond the arc. This disparity in the 3-point shooting alone, is what doomed the Spurs in the first place.

Running on the Break: GSW got 24 Fastbreak Points

Aside from making it rain with bombastic three-pointers, there’s another weapon that makes GSW a dangerous team to face: their ability to score on fastbreak opportunities. And the Spurs surely witnessed this weapon potential as the Warriors outscored the former, 24-7. 

Faltering in the 4th: Spurs only scored 14 Points

To begin with, the Spurs were only down by 7 points during the early goings of the 4th quarter after Kyle Anderson drained a pair of charities to make it, 89-82. Klay Thompson then scored the next 5 points for GSW to increase their to 12 points and the Spurs never got closer than 11 the rest of the way. San Antonio only scored 14 points while allowing the Warriors to score 28 points during the last 12 minutes of the game.

Conclusion

Maybe the Spurs were undermanned against the Warriors but certainly not undertalented. Maybe the Warriors overwhelmed the Spurs because they got a complete starting unit while Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker were nowhere to be found.Golden State is still the favorites to repeat as champions this season. However, them beating an undermanned team such as the Spurs means nothing as they have yet to beat an elite team this season. 

By the Numbers: Defense, Kyrie Irving, Rebounds Help Boston Beat San Antonio

The Celtics handed the Spurs their 3rd straight loss

LaMarcus Aldridge only made 5 of his 13 attempts against the Celtics
First, they lost to the Orlando Magic who dominated the game from beginning to end. Next, came along another stunning defeat at the hands of the Indiana Pacers. Now? The San Antonio Spurs just lost their 3rd straight game, this time losing to Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics on a 108-94 victory by the Celtics. So how did the Celtics do it against the Spurs?  Below are the numbers:

Defense Shut Down San Antonio

To win a basketball game, you have to score more points than your opponents while trying to limit their offensive output. 
Both things were achieved by the Celtics against the free-falling Spurs. Boston, as a team, shot 47% in the field but struggled from long distance as they only made 35% of their shots from outside. 
Defensively, the Celtics successfully shut down the Spurs’ stars as LaMarcus Aldridge scored 11 points but had to take 13 shots and only made 5 of them. Pau Gasol went 4 of 10 from the field for 11 points on his own while Dejounte Murray had 10 points on 5 of 11 shooting. Rudy Gay added 14 markers on 5 of 12 shooting. 
The Spurs  did manage to finish the game on a 41% field goal shooting but we all know that Gregg Poppovich was visibly upset with how the offense of the Spurs faltered especially in the 3rd quarter when the Celtics outscored the Spurs, 26-18. Now that’s how you defend, folks. 

Kyrie Irving’s 24  Points

With the Spurs struggling on offense and equally struggling on defense, Kyrie Irving took advantage and poured in 24 points as he led his new team to another victory against another elite team in the West which improved Boston to 5-2 in the season. Irving was efficient on offense, making 10 of his 16 shot attempts in 30 minutes of action. He also had 6 assists and 3 steals plus a rare block.

54 Rebounds

If you allow a team to grab 54 rebounds against you, don’t expect to win. Especially in the NBA. 
Out of those 54 rebounds that the Celtics grabbed against the Spurs, 15 came from the offensive end. In addition to this, the Celtics had two 2 players finished the game with double-digit rebounding numbers:
  • Jayson Tatum- 11 rebounds
  • Al Horford- 13 rebounds
On the other side, the Spurs, a team who is averaging 49 rebounds per game- 4th in the league, only managed 40 rebounds- 12 from the offensive end. No wonder why the Spurs lost.

Conclusion

It’s still early to tell whether the Boston Celtics have improved since the blockbuster swap between Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas during the off-season. And while it’s rare for the San Antonio Spurs to drop 3 consecutive games, everyone is asking, “What has suddenly hit the Spurs?” Is the absence of Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard finally catching up on the Spurs? 
But one thing is certain: Kyrie Irving is in a better position than his former team, right?  

By the Numbers: Orlando’s Magic Worked Against the Spurs

Orlando and three other things handled San Antonio their first defeat of the season

Rudy Gay played for 24 minutes but went 1 out of 6 from the field.
As if we, NBA fans, need more surprises to open the new season where super teams were defeated by small-market teams, this game between the Orlando Magic and the no-longer-undefeated San Antonio which resulted in a 114-87 win for the Magic. Given how big the gap was at the end of the game, many were surprised not because San Antonio snapped their 4-game winning but surprised at the fact that the Spurs to an Orlando Magic team that was led by the journeyman, Evan Fournier who had 25 points while making all four of his attempts from deep. So, how did the Magic kicked one of the West’s elite teams, in their rears?
These numbers will explain to you how the Spurs lost to the Magic who, like the Spurs, are opening the new season with 4-1 win-loss record:

61 Points in the First Half

In a game where the East-leading Orlando Magic led by as much as 36 points,  they scored 32 points in the first quarter alone and never looked back. The Magic continued their offensive onslaught in the second canto when they outscored the Spurs, 29-16. Orlando had 61 huge points at the halftime break and that is big for a defensive-oriented team such as the Spurs. We can only imagine the frustrations of Coach Gregg Popovich because let’s  face it, folks, not everybody can score 61 points in a half especially against a team like the Spurs. It only meant that Magic’s offense was clicking almost perfectly. 

Orlando Shot 57% in the Field

Speaking of Orlando’s near perfect performance especially on the offensive end, the percentages don’t lie either. As a team, the Magic made 57% of their 84 shot attempts which included an 11 of 23 performance from long distance. Nikola Vucevic made all 3 of his attempts and folks he’s a center, to begin with. Aaron Gordon had 16 points including 2 shots from rainbow distance. If the Magic can shoot this GOOD on a more consistent basis, they going surprise to more teams in the games to come. Remember Orlando’s 114-93 victory against the defending Eastern Conference champions, Cleveland Cavaliers a week ago? That was a game where the Magic led as much as 37 points.

Jonathan Simmons’ 17 off the Bench

If there’s one team in the league who knows the capability of Jonathan Simmons, it’s none other than the Spurs themselves. Simons spent two seasons with the Spurs, mainly as one of Gregg Popovich’s reliable scorers off the bench. Last season, Simmons only averaged 6 points per game. Now with the Magic under Frank Vogel, Simmons is now averaging 14 points per night- all while coming off the bench. Against his former team, he scored 17 on 8 of 13 field goal shooting. If anything, Jonathan Simmons may be in the hunt for the Sixth Man of the Year award this year. 

Conclusion

5 games. 4 wins and a defeat. While it’s still early to determine whether or not the Orlando Magic can sustain the success they are enjoying at the moment, one thing is certain at the moment: the rest of the NBA has been warned not to underestimate the Magic of Orlando. They will be either surprised or destroyed.  

By the Numbers: LaMarcus + Murray + Defense= 4-0 Start

People are underestimating San Antonio. Again. And they shouldn’t

LaMarcus Aldridge has all the reasons to smile as the Spurs are to another 4-0 start to open a new season. 
People are talking about the Golden State Warriors dominating the season. People are talking about the new Big 3 in Oklahoma. People are talking about LeBron James’ impending departure from Cleveland.

Again. But not everybody is talking about the one team who could have defeated the Warriors during last season’s playoffs if not to the injuries that bugged two of their superstars. Which team is that? Folks, it’s the San Antonio Spurs, the team currently atop the standings in the Western Conference. 

After dismantling the Miami Heat 117-100, the San Antonio Spurs already have 4 wins in 4 games which is why they one of the two remaining teams in the league, both from the West, who have yet to lose a game this season. And mind you, folks, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard have yet to play a single second this season which proves Gregg Poppovich’s ability to coach and win with a team that is filled with young guys blending with the veterans. Chemistry, isn’t it?
If you’re wondering what enabled the Spurs to start the 2017-2018 season, spotless, despite not having their franchise player who is struggling to climb the stairs just to board the plane, around, this basketball pundit on wheels listed down the three things that equalize to the Spurs’ dashing start:

LaMarcus Aldridge: 28 Points and 8 Rebounds

Over the past few years since coming over to San Antonio, LaMarcus Aldridge has received all sorts of criticisms mainly due to his inconsistency on both ends of the court. While many thought that Aldridge would be traded before the start of the season, many were surprised when it was announced that Spurs and Aldridge signed an extension, extending LA’s stay in Texas for 3 more years, for 27 million Dollars. Many were surprised with this development considering for a player who only averaged 17 points per game during the previous season Well, we all have our different perspective and in the eyes of those who working at the Spurs’ front office, they still believe that LA will be a valuable asset to the team especially in the long run. 
And it turns out that the investment is worth it as Aldridge has been producing big numbers for San Antonio to cover the absence of Kawhi Leonard. In 4 games which he started and won, Aldridge has averaged 27 points and 8 rebounds per game- leading San Antonio in both categories. If Aldridge can keep up this level of consistency, Leonard can rest longer until he’s ready to dominate again.

Dejounte Murray: Stability at the Point

We all know that Tony Parker will be hard to replace once he retires, soon. And with TP9 still missing in action due to the injury he sustained during last season’s playoffs, someone has to perform well while starting at the point guard position. Fortunately, the Spurs have someone on their roster for that position. That someone is none other than the 21-year old, Dejounte Murray.
Murray has started in 4 games for the Spurs, so far and even though his numbers (10 points and 4 assists per game) aren’t as high as the other guards in the league, one thing Murray has provided for Gregg Poppovich is the stability at the point guard position and for someone who is only in his second season in the NBA, Dejounte Murray has proven that he is the future of the Spurs, especially once TP9 walks out, for good. Mind you, he had 16 points, 14 REBOUNDS and 6 assists in the Spurs’ victory against the Toronto Raptors. We can expect more performances like this from Murray throughout the season and beyond.

Defense: Playing the Poppovich Style

Gregg Poppovich’s name has been associated with DEFENSE. His dedication to playing D more than anything else is what makes him one of the greatest coaches in the NBA. And this season is no different at all, at least in 4 games to open the season. While the Spurs are not really an offensive-minded team as evident by their 103 points per game- 18th in the league, San Antonio has been an impressive job in limiting the opponents’ total points to 93 points on the average- 2nd best in the league. 
San Antonio may be in 25th place in steals per game, norming 6 steals per night but they are at number 2 in blocks per game, blocking 7.3 shots per night, just behind Golden State’s 7.8. 

Conclusion

It’s still early to say whether or not the Spurs will dominate anew. But one thing is certain: they are already filled firepower without Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. Just imagine if both stars are back in uniform, healthy and playing. 

A Wheeler’s Opinion: 3 Reasons to be Excited for the New NBA Season

The NBA is more than just about the GSW-Cavs storyline

Will this new Big 3 find a way to work together and bring home a title to Oklahoma?

The 2017-2018 NBA season is about to make every pair of eyes of every NBA fan stuck to their TV, computer monitors and even their mobile devices as it officially opens tomorrow (Manila time) beginning with the rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Finals match-up between the Cleveland Cavaliers going up against the Boston Celtics. Oh and don’t forget folks. Chris Paul and James Harden will get the honor of trying to hand the Golden State Warriors when the revamped Houston Rockets open their season against the defending champions of Stephen Curry and company.
While almost NBA fan is complaining that this upcoming season will be boring as the Cavs and the Warriors are heavily favored to go head-to-head come the Finals in June of 2018- one thing that even this basketball pundit on wheels certainly believes, take away the Warriors and the Cavs and we still 14 more teams to watch out for. 14 stories to follow. 14 adventures to be excited about. Let’s skip the prediction as to who will win the NBA title this season because we already have an idea as which team will that be, right, Warriors fans?
Below are the 3 reasons why NBA fans should be excited about the 2017-2018 season despite the inevitability that one team will dominate the season, again:

All Western Guns are Pointing towards Oakland

Russell Westbrook has Carmelo Anthony AND Paul George as his new teammates in Oklahoma. Chris Paul has joined James Harden in what is expected by many to become one of the most exciting backcourt tandems in history. LaMarcus Aldridge has recently signed a contract extension to remain with the San Antonio Spurs for the next 3 seasons. Even the Minnesota Timberwolves have formed a Big 3 of their own with Karl Anthony Towns, Nikoli Pekovic and Jimmy Butler.
All these teams in the Western Conference have reloaded themselves for one goal: to dethrone the Golden State Warriors who have been consistently dominating the West for all of the 3 previous seasons. And counting. If anything, we should definitely be excited as to how the new Big 3 in Oklahoma will work together because Westbrook, George and Anthony are proven scorers and the question that is nagging in everyone’s mind is: who will the main Alpha in Oklahoma?

The Kyrie Irving-LeBron James Rivalry

Since Kyrie Irving demanded a trade from the front office of Cleveland during the busy off-season, a demand that was granted and forever shook the balance in the East, to say the least, it was already the beginning of a brewing rivalry between brothers turned rivals, Kyrie Irving and the King himself, LeBron James. 
Apparently, the reason why Irving wanted himself out of Cleveland was that he didn’t want to play alongside LeBron- a partnership that produced 3 consecutive Finals appearances and a championship in 2016. Tomorrow’s game between the Cavs and the Celtics will serve as the opening chapter in this rivalry and this basketball pundit on wheels will be keeping a close eye on the performance of both guys, particularly of Irving if he can indeed, play AND win without LeBron James.

The New Format for the All-Star Game

The battle between the East against the West is no more. The NBA along with the Players Association has announced earlier this month that the All-Star Game will have a different format. Starters will still be voted by fans but the difference is this; each team will have a captain. Each captain will draft their respective starters and reserves from the pool of players that are voted by fans to participate in the mid-season festivity.
Why is the new All-Star game format exciting? Team captains can select any player he desires, regardless of from which team and conference that the players are playing for. So imagine LeBron James forming a super team with his super friends: namely Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony along with Dwayne Wade. How about Steph  Curry bringing along his 3 friends from Golden State along with Anthony Davis? 
The possibilities are unlimited. This could be where super teams of the future will be built from here on. Exciting, isn’t it?

Kawhi Leonard Shows Respect Above All

Kawhi Leonard’s Jordan Brand Commercial, You got to show some respect!

The former 15th pick overall of 2011 had a great season last year.  The two time defensive player of the year and the current face of San Antonio Spurs shows us his simple ways on how he rose up to be where he is right now in the Jordan Brand Commercial.


Respect Above All

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Another Frenchman in San Antonio, Adds Joffrey Lauvergne

Frenchmen in San Antonio, Tony gets his buddy Lauvergne to Spurs

Adding Joffrey Lauvergne may not be the biggest move the Spurs made this offseason but it surely solidifies their front court.
The 25 year old French man is a team mate of Tony Parker with France national team. I can honestly say that  Parker’s hands maybe in this as he knows the Joffrey is a very capable man.
The deal is 2 years with an undisclosed amount. This will put Joffrey Lauvergne behind LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol and David Lee on rotation.

San Antonio Spurs Added an Offensive Player in Gay, But There is a Problem

On paper, this move looks really good as the Spurs who had been a contender in the West for a decade has acquired a good offensive player who is badly needed by their team this upcoming season.  
With the impending departure of Manu Ginobili who is turning 40 this July and aged Tony Parker, the Spurs needs some offensive powers that were usually on the shoulder of the mentioned two players. Spurs could not alone rely on Kawhi Leonard and Paul Gasol, who by the way, have not officially signed a contract yet.
Rudy Gay chose to sign a smaller deal with the Spurs than staying in Sac Town. He would be a good backup small forward off the bench and can also play the two position if needed. Gay is getting a 2 year $17 million deal and that’s a good deal, however, the 30 year old who has averaged 18 points in his career is an injury prone player and is coming off an Achilles injury.
Signing Rudy Gay could have a huge payoff if he could be healthy and play all season long.
Do you think it’s a good move to acquire Gay?