TDP 74: The NBA Final Four

TDP 74: The NBA Final Four
The Rundown

Second Round Review

-2nd round surprises

-What’s in store for the Bulls? 

-Is it time to blow it up if rumors become reality and Thibodeau leaves?

-Same question but now looking at the Clippers: is it time to blow it up and can the Clippers make the Finals with Blake, CP3 and Jordan as their big 3?

-What is Deandre Jordan’s value?
Conference Finals Preview

-Who’s going to the Finals?
NBA Lottery

-Minnesota gets the #1 pick. Who would you take?

-What’s the deal with NBA conspiracies popping up every lottery week?

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Spurs vs Clippers Game 7 Prediction

After a shocking Clippers victory in Game 6, we are set for Game 7 tomorrow night for the only interesting series of Round 1 of the Playoffs this year.  An organization full of experience from previous title runs together going up against an organization filled with, thus far, all hype and no accomplishment. Call me crazy, but I think the Clippers will be the victors of Game 7. Here are a few reasons why:

1. The Clippers have home court advantage

Undoubtedly if any team can pull of a Game 7 road victory, it’s the Spurs. That being said, with excitement of new ownership and this series on the line, it is a benefit to be home in LA. Even more advantageous to the Clips than being home is NOT being in San Antonio in front of Spurs fans.

2. The Clippers have momentum

Momentum is huge in the NBA Playoffs. Even though the Spurs should have won Game 5 easier than they did and probably should have won Game 6, the Clippers have to feel like they have the momentum going into Game 7. If I’m a Clipper I’m thinking I should have won Game 5 and in spite of losing it, I just defeated the Spurs in San Antonio. All downhill from here. 

3. The Clippers have the better starting lineup

In spite of last year’s Finals, having the best player in the series is usually associated with winning the series. It’s just how the NBA typically works. I would argue that the Clippers have the 2 best players in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Bench minutes will matter less in this game, which is helpful to the Clippers.

4. The Clippers have more to play for

Chris Paul seems to get banged up every season and there is no telling how much longer he will be a top 3 point guard in the league. Point guards tend to deteriorate quickly (just look at Tony Parker this series). For being so highly regarded amongst the league, CP3 has not had an impressive playoff history. This is a legacy game for Chris Paul. Also, Blake Griffin can really start to build his legacy if he shows up big in Game 7. The Spurs on the other hand have a roster filled with players who have proven everything they need to. We also know they have never been repeat champions.

There you have it. I pick the Clippers to win Game 7. I’m also fully preparing to eat crow as the Spurs have made me look like a fool for doubting them in years past.

TDP 73: Bring Out the Brooms

Triple Double Podcast Episode 73
Rundown:
1st Round Discussion
2015 pales in comparison to 2014 other than Spurs vs Clips.
A few questions from the 1st Round:
-Does it bother you that the Spurs or the Clips will be out in the 1st round due to divisional rules? These teams both feel like they at least are worthy of the 2nd round.
-Are the Cavs in trouble against the Bulls and for the rest of the Playoffs without Kevin Love?
-Are the Wizards going to give the Hawks trouble in the 2nd round or are the Raptors just that bad?
-Can the Grizzlies contend with the Warriors and make it a 6 or 7 game series?
-Are the Hawks in trouble against Brooklyn?
Other topics of note:
-“Playoff Rondo” is now a thing of the past with how he sabatoged Dallas. If you were a GM in need of a Point Guard, how much would you offer him this offseason?
-Will LMA stay in Portland this offseason?
All this and more on TDP 

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TDP 72: 2015 1st Round Predictions / The Kobe vs. Duncan Debate

On the 72nd Episode of Triple Double Podcast, Justin and Matt discuss their NBA 1st round predictions in greater detail and get into a lively debate over who is the best of an era: Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan?

Let us know your predictions and opinions in the comments!

To listen now click here.

Subscribe on iTunes Here: 

We are also available on Spreaker Radio and Stitcher Radio Apps on your mobile device. 

To get in on the conversation, visit TripleDoublePodcast.comFacebook.com/tripledoublepodcast, or Twitter (@TripDubPodcast). Also email us at TripleDoublePodcast@gmail.com. 

Thank you for your support!

2015 NBA Playoffs 1st Round Predictions

  

The 2015 NBA Playoffs are here! This year is full of exciting matchups right out of the gate! Anthony Davis will make his Playoffs debut, the Spurs or the Clippers will be going home after 1 round, and LeBron will look to set the tone early for a potential championship run for the title-starved city of Cleveland.

Golden State Warriors (1) vs New Orleans Pelicans (8)

Golden State has had an outstanding season. We’re talking historically great. And yet, the series could be compelling with Anthony Davis making his playoff debut. Golden state has no answer for Davis, however, Justin and I both agree that the Pelicans don’t have the firepower to keep up with Curry and Thompson.

Justin’s Pick: GS in 5

Matt’s Pick: GS in 5

Portland Trailblazers (4) vs Memphis Grizzlies (5)

Unfortunately, Portland is riddled with injuries. But, Aldridge is arguably the biggest star in the series so there is hope. If Lillard shows up like he did last year against the Rockets, there is even more hope. The Grizzlies, once thought to be a NBA title favorite, have looked spotty over the last month of the regular season. Another interesting aspect of this series is that the Grizzlies will carry homecourt advantage in spite of being the 5 seed. This series could go either way and we split our picks here.

Justin’s Pick: Portland in 7

Matt’s Pick: Memphis in 6

Los Angeles Clippers (3) vs San Antonio Spurs (6)

The Spurs had the potential to be the 2 seed, but they ran into a determined Pelicans team during the last game of the season. The history of any seed lower than 4 winning the NBA title is concerning. However, a playoff race for the 2-8 seeds has never been as closely contested as it was this season. Who would have thought the Thunder would miss the playoffs? The Clippers are a weak 3 seed. Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and Deandre Jordan will need to show up every night to be able to handle the depth and cohesive nature of the Spurs. Watch to see if Poppovich employ a hack-a-Jordan tactic early on. Justin and I are in agreement here.

Justin’s Pick: SA in 6

Matt’s Pick: SA in 6

Houston Rockets (2) vs Dallas Mavericks (7)

The Rockets are injured (Beverly and Montiejunas) and the Mavericks’ depth is questionable. Houston will live and die by the 3 and by MVP candidate James Harden. While I understand why the Mavericks had to get Rondo, the move has been a bust and is now a potential liability (Hack-a-Rondo anyone?). Mavs fans of course are hoping for “playoffs Rondo” to show up. I don’t see this happening. However, the Mavericks do have Dirk and the genius that is Rick Carlisle. The Mavs best chance of victory comes from superior schematics: Tire out Harden, get Dirk the ball, and defend the perimeter. Dwight Howard is the X-factor in this series. If he plays like he did in the playoffs last year I give the Mavs no chance. Easier said than done when matching up against Tyson Chandler. Expect this series to be close.

Justin’s Pick: HOU in 7

Matt’s Pick: HOU in 7

Atlanta Hawks (1) vs Brooklyn Nets (8)

Did Brooklyn want to make the playoffs? Legitimate question. The Nets are worn down and meanwhile the Hawks are being written off by the world. No team should have more bulletin board material this year than the Hawks. Millsap’s shoulder injury is concerning but the slow-moving Nets can’t keep up with the Hawks, no matter who is in the line-up. 

Justin’s Pick: ATL in 4

Matt’s Pick: ATL in 5

Toronto Raptors (4) vs Washington Wizards (5)

This is going to be ugly. Whitman and Casey are 2 coaches on the hotseat… and are likely coaching for their jobs in this series. The Raptors have fallen from last year’s surprise run but overall are a success story with actual cap space coming this offseason. Washington started strong and fizzled out… just like the Raptors. This is probably the series to avoid watching if you have to pick one. It will be sloppy and tedious, but closely contested in our opinion.

Justin’s Pick: TOR in 7

Matt’s Pick: TOR in 7

Chicago Bulls (3) vs Milwaukee Bucks (6)

The Bucks are a surprise story having one of the league’s top defenses. Chicago feels like the sleeping giant, if there is one in the Eastern Conference. Jason Kidd has taken criticism for both of his coaching stints but he has done a great job so far with the Bucks, and last year he coached the Nets decently in the playoffs. Unfortunately, he is going against names like Thibodeau, Noah, Gasol, Butler, and Rose. The Bucks may slow down the Bulls attack but we don’t see an upset here. The Bucks are going to miss Brandon Knight’s offense in this series.

Justin’s Pick: CHI in 5

Matt’s Pick: CHI in 5

Cleveland Cavaliers (2) vs Boston Celtics (7)

The Cavs emerged as the favorites in the East after the All-Star Break. The Celtics have been a surprisingly interesting team to watch but they lack interior defense. Expect Kyrie and LeBron to go off, getting to the rim at will. Who knows, maybe the Cavs will even figure out a way to get Love involved (finally). Sorry Bill Simmons, we’ve got our brooms out for this series.

Justin’s Pick: CLE in 4

Matt’s Pick: CLE in 4

Give us your predictions in the comments!

To listen to the show, find us on podomatic, spreaker radio, stitcher radio, or iTunes. Comments and ratings are greatly appreciated! 

To get in on the conversation, visit TripleDoublePodcast.comFacebook.com/tripledoublepodcast, or Twitter (@TripDubPodcast). You can also email us at TripleDoublePodcast@gmail.com. Thank you for your support!

TDP 70: Back with a Vengeance

On today’s episode of the Triple Double Podcast Justin and Matt dive into both college and NBA basketball. Topics include; the one-and-done rule, corruption in college basketball, player stipends, the state of basketball operations in Loboland, and the Playoff picture in the NBA.

To listen to the show, find us on podomatic, spreaker radio, stitcher radio, or iTunes. Comments and ratings are greatly appreciated! 

To get in on the conversation, visit TripleDoublePodcast.comFacebook.com/tripledoublepodcast, or Twitter (@TripDubPodcast). You can also email us at TripleDoublePodcast@gmail.com. Thank you for your support!

Why College Basketball is on the Decline

I love the game of basketball. Always has been my favorite. I love both college and pro ball. I make an effort to watch as much college and pro ball as my schedule will allow. I do this basketball podcast with Justin because we genuinely LOVE talking about basketball. 

One thing that has really stood out to me the past 3-4 years is how much the pro game has evolved and the college game has fizzled out. The ratings confirm this, but allow me to list a few reasons I feel this way.

1) The One-and-Done Rule

We have this silly rule where even if a player is ready to contribute to an NBA team as judged by NBA scouts, he is not allowed to enter the draft until he plays 1 year of developmental basketball (D-League, European ball, or, you guessed it, NCAA basketball). The biggest chance for exposure comes from playing a year of college basketball as a “student-athlete”. This is KILLING college basketball.

Now college basketball’s most talented players are raw, unrefined freshmen who, given the freedom to do what they really wanted, would already be in the NBA getting to spend 100% of their time learning their craft rather than putting on this facade that they are “student-athletes”. These freshmen “student-athletes” are the face of college basketball, but they are only there for a year, so we don’t get to know them and consequently don’t remember them. Case and point, this year Kentucky is making an historic run. They are loaded with NBA talent (8-9 deep). Can you name 3 of their starters? None of these players are stars in college basketball. Even Anthony Davis and Andrew Wiggins failed to earn great ratings and these are the best of the next generation of basketball!

Look, if a college athlete has a great year his freshmen year and can be drafted, he absolutely should enter the draft. But why shouldn’t this apply to high school seniors who are deemed NBA-ready by NBA front offices? After all, the NBA is not football and does not require the same physical development. I know Kobe, Dwight, LeBron, and Garnett are outliers and many high schoolers would be better served developing their games, but I feel players should have the freedom to make that choice for themselves. Kwame Brown was a “bust” of a #1 draft pick, but his life has turned out ok. He still got to play a game for a living (and made millions doing it)!

In the long run, abolishing the one-and-done rule would help the college game by getting more players in NCAA basketball who care about being there. 

2) College Ball Glorifies the Coach over the Player 

When Duke wins, Coach K gets all the credit. He’s a great coach, no doubt. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve praise, but in the NBA the players come first. They market players better than the most popular league in America, the NFL. The NCAA would be well-served to give players more exposure because the players are who the public wants to root for. 

Typically, fans cheer for their alma mater and their bracket, and that’s it. March Madness is a lot of fun every year, but we need more story lines in college ball and part of that ties into point #1 (see above, players aren’t in college long enough to develop interesting stories). Most people this year are rooting against Kentucky, however, I find myself rooting for them because they are the ONLY story that is interesting in NCAA basketball right now (if you are a casual fan). As long as Kentucky is in the tournament, ratings will stay up. 

And don’t act like casual fans aren’t important. If you don’t grab the interest of the casual fan, you will never be a top-tier sport (see baseball post McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds).

One last note here, last year was considered one of the deepest drafts in NBA history. However, this did not translate to viewership or interest in college basketball. People didn’t have much of a chance to fall in love with the games of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, or Joel Embid. (Again see point #1 on the one-and-done rule). Players like Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, and countless others, including MJ himself, stayed in college ball because they wanted to be there and subsequently became legendary both in college and pro basketball. Undoubtedly a shift in mentality has occured over time amongst players, but in today’s college game the coaches are the only stars.

3) The Quality of Play in College Basketball is Terrible 

The NBA will always have superior talent as it is comprised of the “best of the best”, but the college game feels clunkier and more difficult to watch than it has ever been. Part of this is that the most talented players are now freshmen thanks to the one-and-done rule (see point #1), but I think the bigger issue is that defensive-minded schemes rule college ball, rather than offensive-minded schemes as in the NBA. 

Let’s face it, basketball is much less fun to watch when the first team to score 60 points wins. This is the state of at least 90% of NCAA ball. Hardly anybody in the college game can hit a consistent jumpshot. Many teams struggle to shoot 40% from the field. Not 3 point %… entire field goal %. It’s not pretty. As a fan, other than my alma mater, I have always cheered for UNC because they run an up-tempo, point guard-dependent style of basketball that is fun to watch. It is creative, fast, and improvised. Duke spreads the floor and is fun to watch. The Calipari-led Kentucky Wildcats are fast and freaky-athletic. 

But for every 1 of these “must-see” teams I would argue there are 15 teams that play like Virginia did this year (shooting 40% or less from the field and relying on fouling and slowing down the game due to lack of talent). YUCK! Who wants to watch players trade bricks and shoot free-throws for 40 minutes? 

Part of the problem is the rate of play in NCAA ball. A 35-second shot clock is far too long (NBA and international leagues use 24-second shot clocks). So yes, rules need to be changed to promote a faster-paced game. Another part of this is the laziness, in my opinion, of coaches. It is easier to develop defensive schemes and use checking and fouling strategies that slow down the rate of play, rather than develop players into competent, technically-sound basketball players. I think a big part of this is the coaches’ response to having their most-talented players for such a short period of time (see point #1), but I think job #1 of NCAA coaches should be to develop the talent of their players. Many times I feel this focus gets blurry with the pressure put on coaches to win basketball games.

And for those of you who argue that college ball has better defense than the NBA, I would ask what has become of Adam Morrison, Tyler Hansbrough, Jimmer Fredette, etc.? (players that dominated during their time in college and struggle to stay on NBA rosters because they can’t score against the world’s best).

Last thing and then I’ll finish. If you want to see beautiful basketball, watch the Warriors, Spurs, Hawks, Celtics, Cavaliers (at times), Rockets, Bulls, and Mavericks. This is the direction basketball is and should be headed.

I think college basketball can be great again, but a lot needs to change.

Thank you for reading and please share your opinion if you have one!