The Oklahoma City Thunder take down the Utah Jazz

The Thunder-Jazz series may end up being the most exciting playoff matchup in the first round. Donovan Mitchell has overachieved all season and shows no signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook along with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony look to prove doubters wrong and make a lot of noise in the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Paul George

In Game 1, the Jazz jumped out to an early lead but the Thunder quickly caught up and though it was fairly close throughout, the Thunder had a nice grip on this game for the most part. And the main reason for this was Paul George. He stepped up and became the player we were expecting to see since he was traded to OKC. George lit up the Jazz with 36 points on 8-11 shooting from deep. They had no answer for him. Most times, it seemed as if he was toying with his defenders. As a Thunder fan, it was a relief to see that Westbrook did not have to do it all by himself. If PG13 can do this more consistently and we can get more scoring (and some defense) from Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder can become a serious threat to the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors.

It’s important to note that Russell Westbrook scored 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists. If you watched the game, you’d see that Westbrook doesn’t need to stat chase to get his numbers. He just wants the ball more than everyone else. As he’s said in the past, Spaulding (the basketball) is his only friend on the court. Whether he’s joking or not, he sure plays like it. I find it hard to believe Westbrook needs anyone to help him get stats when he tries harder than everyone on the court every second of every game. He is the best player in this matchup and the reason the Thunder will win.

Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell looked like a 10 year vet in this game. You certainly couldn’t tell this was his first playoff game or that he is a rookie. He easily led the Jazz in scoring with 27 points and it’s clear they would not have stood a chance without his great play. I found myself wanting to root for him and the Jazz, and would have been if they were playing any other team except the Thunder. Mitchell hurt his toe during the game and was noticeably limping. The coach decided to pull him from the game to the guard’s dismay. He was visibly upset on the bench, exclaiming he was fine and can continue playing so the coach put him back in the game. He is the type of player everyone should want on their team and will quickly become one of the elite guards in the NBA. Don’t be surprised to see Mitchell continue his great play for the rest of Thunder-Jazz matchup.

I expect all of the games in this series to be fairly close; however, the Thunder have more star power and in the NBA this matters. My prediction is that the Thunder will win the series in 5 games, but it will be a very exciting 5 games as we got a nice taste in game 1.

What are your thoughts? Think the Thunder will win the series against the Utah Jazz? Or will the Jazz flip the script on them? Let me know.

Sincerely,

NoFearLavere

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Let’s be thankful for a rivalry renewed

Playing against OKC would be “just another game,” Kevin Durant said…

WestbrookDurant

Sorry, but in the words of Jay Z, “We don’t believe you, you need more people.” Any game featuring Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will never be just another game. Not after going up on the Warriors 3-1. Not after leaving OKC to then join that team after they came back and beat you.

Last night, I was out bowling with some friends during the game and they had the Warriors-Thunder game playing on the majority of the TVs. And then it happened. They switched all of the monitors to show music videos instead of the basketball game. I was not having it. I went to one of the workers and asked him switch my monitor back to the game. As he walked with me, he whispered, “Fuck the Warriors.”  All I could do is giggle as clearly someone was in their feelings last night. Luckily the Thunder were smoking the Warriors, so he switched my TV back to the game. However, unfortunately for him, just about everyone in the bowling alley then asked him to switch their monitor back to the Warriors-Thunder game. As a sports fan, last night was a game that you did not want to miss.

I knew the Thunder were going to beat the Warriors. But, then again, I always think the Thunder are going to beat Warriors. And it was a very satisfying moment when that wish finally came through. Westbrook was a monster, dominating the game in all aspects. And this time he had help from his new teammates Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. Yes, this was a regular season game and though the only thing damaged were some egos, but this is a very good sign for the NBA. Last night proved that the Warriors are beatable and the Thunder currently have the blueprint to beat them.

This offseason, several teams (like OKC) signed and traded for players with the intent to beat the Warriors in the postseason. However, the start of the season has been a struggle for some as the Warriors are not the only team in the NBA and there are several teams they need to prepare for. But as teams start to get their act together and new teammates become more comfortable with one another, these games will become a lot more interesting. Critics like to say Lebron James has an easy road to the finals every year, but other than facing the Thunder in the playoffs a couple years ago, the Warriors road to the finals has been just as easy.  Barring another cheap shot by Zaza Pachulia, the Warriors will have their hands full in the playoffs by several Western conference teams that are geared up to beat them. As Westbrook told Durant last season, “I’m coming.” Yes, he is. And so is the rest of the league.

I hope you all are enjoying your Thanksgiving. It’s warm out here in Miami so I am headed to the beach.

Till next time.

NoFearLavere

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My Top 5 favorite players to watch so far this NBA season

Besides some injuries (Kawhi…still waiting), this has been a fun NBA season so far. Super Teams are proving not to be as “super” as we once thought they would be. The Celtics are continuing to tease Boston fans into thinking they will reach the NBA Finals this year. And there are players who are straight up balling right now.

I’ve complied a short list of players that are fun to watch so far this season. These guys are not necessarily my favorite players or my ranking of the best players in the league, but they are certainly surpassing expectations and wreaking havoc on the league in their own way.

Here you go:

5. Kristaps Porzingis

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As a native New Yorker,  it brings me great pride and joy to see Kristaps Porzingis give us hope in the post-Melo era. Porzingis is playing like he’s from another planet right now. He has all the tools to be one of the best players in the league, and he plays for the Knicks. Now let’s all please knock on wood as this is the New York Knicks we are talking about. Averaging more than 27 points a game, Porzingis has lead the Knicks to their best start in recent memory. Dare I say playoffs? Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves but this guy definitely has the Knicks headed in the right direction.

4. Kyle Kuzma

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I am so proud to say I drafted Kyle Kuzma in my 12-team fantasy draft, and yes I will go out of my way to remind you all of this all season long. There has been so much hype around him since the pre-season and he has not disappointed, unlike his teammate Lonzo Ball. Kuzma started the season coming off of the bench and has eased his way into the Los Angeles Lakers starting lineup. He is averaging around 16 points and 7 rebounds and, at power forward, can consistently score from deep. As a rookie, he is unexpectedly looking like the future for the Lakers and is quickly making his case for the Rookie of the Year Award.

3. James Harden

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James Harden has been going hard…on offense. Okay, though he doesn’t play defense and has a coach that’s mostly known for offense, Harden does not disappoint when he steps onto the court. There used to be a debate on who is the top shooting guard in the league. Since Klay Thompson is a great two-way player, he has always been towards the top of the list. There is no longer a debate. Harden can score on anyone and has become one of the best passers in the league. First, Stephen Curry and then Russell Westbrook passed him over for MVP but this has to be his year.

2. Ben Simmons

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Ben Simmons is the future. It might be a blessing in disguise that he was injured all of last season so he can become more NBA ready without having to showcase his skills too early and reveal any major weaknesses. His playmaking and ability to run the floor and get to the rim sets him apart from any rookie and already most players in the league. Averaging 18 points 9 rebounds and 8 assists, Simmons is looking like a future top player in the NBA.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

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Giannis for MVP? At the very least he will give Harden a run for his money. The Greek Freak is leading the Milwaukee Bucks to be a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference. Now averaging 30 points and 10 rebounds a game, he has gotten better every year and he is only 22. Sky. Is. The. Limit. Now that the Bucks acquired Eric Bledsoe, Giannis finally has a decent player at his side so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain this pace or if his numbers will start to decrease as the Bucks continue to surround him with better talent.

Though he did not make the list, Russell Westbrook is my favorite player. I’m sure as he begins to figure things out with Melo and PG3, and Lebron and the Cavs finally get serious, this list will likely see some changes.

Let me know..what would your list look like?

As always,

NoFearLavere

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Lebron James: The Best Point Guard in the NBA

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game One

Lebron James. What else is there to say about the 3x NBA Champion, 3x NBA Finals MVP, 4x NBA Most Valuable Player, and former Rookie of the Year? Let’s also throw in 13x NBA Allstar, 2x AP Athlete of the Year, and 2x Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year. Lebron said it best, “There isn’t anything I have left to prove.” As we witness this living legend continue to dominate basketball for fourteen-plus years, it’s hard to disagree with his statement.

James is not only the most gifted athlete of our generation but arguably in the history of sports. Now, at age 32 and with nothing left to prove, the small forward as taken on the role as point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers. In his two games as point guard, James is averaging 31.5 points, 6 rebounds, and 13 assists a game. It is one thing to play small forward and distribute the ball, but an entirely different thing to be the point guard and it officially be your job to make sure the other four guys on the court with you are involved.

You can name drop any point guard in the league, from Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook (my favorite player), to even John Wall. James is simply better at that position because of his size, basketball IQ, and court vision. He may not have Curry’s range, Westbrook’s intensity, or Wall’s quickness, but James’ ability to see the floor puts him one step ahead of everyone.

Lebron James can play and guard all five positions. The last player to prove such a task was former Lakers point guard, Magic Johnson, in the 1980 NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers when he made the switch from point guard to center. As a rookie, Magic played every position in Game 6 scoring 42 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assist to help the Lakers win the NBA Championship. Lebron James is no different and the older he becomes, the more he continues to impress the world.

Predications and Realizations

Predication: Lebron James will win one more title before his retires.

Realization: Because Jordan changed the game so much, James will not be recognized as the NBA GOAT. However,  he will be crowned as the greatest athlete to grace the sport and that itself is an outstanding accomplishment.

It’s weird to think at one point I disliked Lebron James, but now he’s one of the very few athletes I follow on social media. His dedication to his craft and consistent #striveforgreatness is the reason he’ll go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game. It will be a sad day for the NBA, and sports overall, when Lebron decides to hang up his Nikes. Until that day comes, Lebron please continue to inspire us with your greatness.

Sincerely,

NoFearLavere

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My Money’s On Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder v Brooklyn Nets

It feels like yesterday he was the 4th pick of the Seattle Supersonics. Almost like yesterday he played in the NBA Finals alongside the likes of James Harden, Serge Ibaka, and Kevin Durant. Like yesterday, he hoisted up the All-Star Game MVP Trophy, twice. Today, Russell Westbrook is the reigning NBA regular season MVP, the owner of the NBA regular season triple-double record, and the leader of an Oklahoma City Thunder team who poses a legitimate threat to take home the 2017-2018 NBA Championship. Oh, and let’s not forget he is a modern-day fashion icon.

Westbrook is certainly an All-Star but not a superstar. Words echoed by Owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban in regards to Russell Westbrook. And then March 27th, 2017 happened. The Russell Westbrook-led Oklahoma City Thunder were facing Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks. Down as many as 15 points in the game, the Thunder were down 11 with 2:40 left to go in the fourth quarter on the Mavs home court. Then, as Cuban labeled him, the “All-Star” took over. An offensive rebound and pass from Taj Gibson led to a Westbrook 3-point shot in Harrison Barnes’ face, BANG, 8-point game with 2:34 to go. After a Harrison Barnes missed layup on the other end, Westbrook raced down the court and backed down Yogi Ferrell from the 3-point line all the way into the paint, then hits a turnaround jump shot – AND 1. “He’s outta his mind!” The announcer said in excitement. Next up, was Wesley Matthew’s turn to face Westbrook’s wrath. He and Matthews met at the 3-point line. Westbrook crossed him over then raced to the paint, brushed off some contact, then hit the fade away with less than one minute to go. With 13.6 seconds left, the Mavs were inbounding the ball up by 1. Then the “All-Star” happened, again. Westbrook interfered with the pass, causing the ball to go out of bounds off the J.J. Barea. Thunder ball. 13.1 seconds left in the game. The ball was inbounded to Russell Westbrook. In full Westbrook demeanor, he raced up the court. In fear of Westbrook heading to paint, Matthews retreats too much allowing Westbrook to pull up for the jump shot. You guessed it, BANG, ball game.

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That pull up over a defender at the top of the key is a very familiar sight. Reminds me of the 1998 NBA Finals where a certain Chicago Bulls player hit a game winner on the road from that spot. There is no coincidence Westbrook is on the Jordan Brand. His determination to win resembles that same drive Michael Jordan had when on court. And Jordan is only the man considered to be the greatest of all-time. “I got my first MVP award before my first ring, too.” Words by Jordan on Westbrook. It’s only a matter of time before these words become true for Westbrook.

USP NBA: OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER-MEDIA DAY S BKN USA OK

The stars have, literally and figuratively, aligned for Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder with the arrival of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to go along with Steven Adams and the supporting cast. This has the making to be a very special year for the Thunder. We know it won’t be easy and nothing is ever certain in the NBA, or sports for that matter. But there is one thing we can be certain about, and that is when Westbrook steps on that court he is going to give 100% to his team, his city, and his fans.

Career Predictions and Realizations

Prediction: Russell Westbrook will win an NBA Championship before all is said and done.

Realization: Once he captures that title, many will realize and consider him as a top 5 point guard to ever play this game. Considering where he’ll end up statistically, compared to his peers, he just needs that championship to solidify his greatness.

Prediction: He will retire a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder and have a statue created in his honor.

Realization: Westbrook will be up there with the Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and the Kobe Bryant’s of the world.  Guys who embraced the great moments that happened in the city they played for and never quit when things got tough. Instead, they endured. When you think about, that just makes winning so much sweeter.

They said he doesn’t pass the ball. He averaged 10 assist. They said he’s not a superstar. He won MVP. They said no big name stars will want to play with him. He now plays with two, one of which waived his no-trade clause to make it happen. Now, go on, say he won’t win a championship. I dare you. He will prove you wrong, again. My money is on Westbrook. Because, WHY NOT?

Sincerely,

NoFearLavere

Follow me on Twitter @NoFearBlogging