2010 NBA Three-Point Shootout: Ray Allen the favorite?

2010 NBA Three-Point Shootout participants:

Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics (defending champ)

Paul Pierce won the 2010 Foot Locker Three-Poi...
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Last year Paul Pierce entered the 3-point shootout and many people were shaking their heads as he isn’t really considered to be amongst the elite players in the league from beyond the arc. Even though the consensus was that the Boston Celtics leading scorer would be knocked out in the first round, The Truth proved everyone wrong as he beat out rookie Stephon Curry and won his first 3-point contest.

This year he will be defending his title against some pretty solid opponents, but it will be his teammate Ray Allen that he will be worried about stealing his crown.

Daniel Gibson, Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers may have gotten the best of the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the last game before the NBA All-Star break, but they are still without a doubt the worst team in the league this season as they just can’t get anything going with LeBron James running the show in Cleveland.

Fortunately, despite all the negative press coming out of Cleveland, the Cavaliers might get some positive vibes coming from their sharp shooter Daniel Gibson who will be looking to win the 3-point shootout.

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Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder are at it again this season as they are arguably one of the best teams in the Western Conference for a second consecutive year, but they will have their work cut out for them if they want to go deeper in the playoffs this time as the West is as tough as it gets this time around.

Fortunately, even though the competition has gotten better out West, the Thunder are still firing on all cylinders with the league’s leading scorer Kevin Durant leading the charge in Oklahoma City. Along with going for the All-Star game MVP on Sunday, Durant will try and prove that he is amongst the best outside shooters in the league in the 3-point shootout.

James Jones playing with the Miami Heat
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James Jones, Miami Heat

This season the Miami Heat have gotten a lot of exposure for being one of the best teams in the league with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James leading the way, but they wouldn’t be as good this year without the outside shooting of James Jones.

As one of the underdogs in this contest, no one will be expecting much from Jones, but he could be a dark horse in this competition.

Dorell Wright, Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors are one of the best offensive teams in the league as they can light up the scoreboard on any given night with scorers like Stephon Curry and Monte Ellis, but they are also deadly from outside with Dorell Wright.

Much like James Jones, Dorell Wright won’t be given much of a chance in the 3-point shootout, but he might be able to surprise some people.

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Ray Allen, Boston Celtics (won in 2001)

Just recently against the arch rival Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics sharp shooter Ray Allen became the league’s leader in 3-point field goals made all-time by passing NBA great Reggie Miller. Not only was this a well deserved accomplishment for arguably the best pure shooter of all-time, but it has cemented his legacy and he will look to add a second 3-point shootout victory to his resume this Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Ray Allen is the favorite to win this competition, but I won’t be surprise to see Paul Pierce give his teammate a run for his money!

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How serious is LeBron’s elbow injury?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

Whenever a big name player is injured during the NBA playoffs it can have serious affect because if it is the favored team that has the injured star player it could very well change the outcome of the playoff series.

The defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers have experienced this problem over the past couple of years as they’ve had to deal with young center Andrew Bynum going down with serious knee injuries in two consecutive seasons. Fortunately, despite not having Bynum in the paint when they needed him the most, the Lakers were able to go to two consecutive NBA finals and win one out of two.

This season the Lakers have been bitten by the injury bug once again as Kobe Bryant comes into the playoffs with multiple injuries which he’s been dealing with all season long. Obviously, Kobe is a bit tougher than Bynum when it comes to injuries and will play through almost anything, but he has noticeably slowed down and not been the dominant Kobe we all know.

Despite having Kobe banged up, the Los Angeles Lakers have been able to hang with the surprisingly good team in the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first round of the playoffs and still have a legitimate shot being NBA champs once again.

The Cleveland Cavaliers on the other hand, who are the favored to come out of Eastern Conference, have never really had to deal with major injuries since LeBron James came to town. Unfortunately, that has changed as the virtually indestructible LeBron has a recently injured elbow heading into their series with the Boston Celtics.

Reportedly, a few weeks back LeBron James injured his elbow in a game but thought the injury wasn’t all that serious and was still able to play through it. Of course, no one really knew of this injury as it didn’t affect his play like it has with Kobe Bryant, but in the last game of the Chicago Bulls series LeBron landed hard on his right arm reaggravated the elbow injury.

This obviously didn’t prevent the Cleveland Cavaliers from advancing as they still were able to beat the Chicago Bulls in game five, but he was noticeably in pain towards the end of that game and even had to shoot a free throw with his left hand because of it.

After game five of the Chicago Bulls series, LeBron James and MRI on his injured right arm and was diagnosed with a bone bruise on his elbow. This is not exactly a devastating injury to someone like LeBron was not exactly a dominant shooter, but it will almost certainly affect his shot when he does have to shoot and from the free-throw line where he frequents almost more than anybody in the game.

Anyone who’s ever played basketball knows that when you’re shooting arm as if it’s hurt that can be incredibly tough to play the way you know you can play. Obviously LeBron James is a home of the beast entirely nothing like a player we’ve seen in the league before, but he has not indestructible any candy hurt so this injury might greatly affect the way he can play against an already very physical Boston Celtics team who will look to put LeBron the floor with every opportunity they can.

NBA Playoff Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

The first round of the playoffs was fairly easy for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics as they faced inferior opponents and lost no more than one game in their series. The second round however will be a daunting task for both of these Eastern conference heavyweights as they will face their toughest test of the season when they go head-to-head.

Heading into the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, there are only two teams that were thought to be able to make it all away to the NBA Finals. The Orlando Magic have had a repeat performance of their great season last year and were thought to give any opponent in the playoffs run for their money, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are the team that everyone believes can beat anybody in a seven-game series.

Last year the Cleveland Cavaliers absolutely dominated in the regular season and everyone was already crowding them as NBA champs before the playoffs even began, but Dwight Howard and company had other intentions as they came into the Eastern Conference finals full confidence and ready to advance to the NBA Finals.

Unfortunately for the Cavs, this exactly what happened as they went home early in the postseason was an absolute disappointment as they were dominated by the Orlando Magic.

As a way of trying to be able to contain Dwight Howard in the paint if they end up facing them in the Eastern Conference finals this season, the Cleveland Cavaliers went out and traded for future Hall of fame center Shaquille O’Neal. Out of all the centers in the league, Shaq is the only one that can really go up against Howard and come out on top or limit his ability to take over the game.

Even though a Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic rematch in the Eastern Conference finals may happen, LeBron James and company have to deal with the Boston Celtics first who are looking a lot like a team that won the title in 2009.

A couple games during the series with the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics look old and flawed just like many people thought they would be coming into the playoffs. Fortunately though, Paul Pierce and company were able to turn things around and ultimately looked like a title contending team once again with physical play and lockdown defense.

From here on out is no way the Boston Celtics will be able to dispute the fact that they are an aging team with only a few chances last to contend for a title. Despite this being the is truth, the Celtics are a passionate team that never give up and I believe they will give two-time MVP LeBron James and company a run for their money in the second round series.

Ultimately, the Cleveland Cavaliers will most likely advance to the Eastern Conference finals, but I do believe the Boston Celtics have what it takes to beat the Cavs in a seven-game series if they can remain dominant on their home floor.

One key to this series will be the health of LeBron James who sustained an elbow injury against the Chicago Bulls in the first round. Reportedly, it is a bone bruise on his elbow and LeBron will be good to go for game one, but it is his right arm which is his shooting arm and could affect his shot and overall game.

If LeBron does struggle with this injury, I believe the scales will tilt severely in the Boston Celtics favor, but if LeBron can get back to form I see them advancing and six games.

Series Prediction: 4-3 Cleveland Cavaliers

Are the Chicago Bulls threatening to make it a series against the Cleveland Cavaliers?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

It has been a long hard season for the Chicago Bulls as they have struggled with many things throughout the year from losing their leading scorer Ben Gordon in the off-season and dealing with the possible firing of head coach Vinny Del Negro. All of these things have contributed to a so-so season for the Bulls as they were trying to get back into the playoffs.

Despite all the turmoil that has gone on throughout the franchise, like Bulls GM John Paxson going at it with head coach Vinny Del Negro, and problems putting a competitive team on the floor, Chicago has been able to clinch the eighth seed in the Eastern conference regardless.

Even though it was impressive to see a late-season push by the Chicago Bulls, the postseason looked to be another challenge altogether as they would have to face the number one overall seed in the playoffs in LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers.

Coming into the playoffs the Cleveland Cavaliers were thought to be the favorite to win it all as they had all the pieces to the puzzle with the addition of Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison in the mix.

Last season the Cavs were a similar situation heading into the playoffs as they were arguably the best team in the league and riding high with arguably the best all-around player in the NBA in LeBron James. The first couple of rounds of the playoffs weren’t much of the challenge for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they made quick work of their opponents, but once they got to the Eastern conference finals everything changed as they could not figure out a way to compete against the Orlando Magic who
have arguably one of the best defensive players in the league in Dwight Howard.

Fortunately, this season the Cleveland Cavaliers addressed the problem of guarding Dwight Howard by trading for four-time NBA champion center Shaquille O’Neal. It is still yet to be seen whether or not an aging Shaq can contain much younger Dwight Howard, but Cavs are looking much better than they were last season and should have a good chance of competing with the Magic this time around.

Even though the Cleveland Cavaliers have their sights set on the NBA finals, they still a ways to go before they can start thinking about an NBA title. Despite no one giving the Chicago Bulls any kind of a chance against the Cavs in the first round of the playoffs, Derrick Rose and company have exceeded expectations so far by giving the Cavs a run for their money.

The one matchup in this series that the Cleveland Cavaliers did not anticipate being so lopsided was the point guard position where Chicago Bulls have Derrick Rose running all over the Cavs.

Even when the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to put LeBron James on Derrick Rose, the up and coming point guard out of Memphis was still able to drive to the hoop at will and get to the free-throw line.

Basically, the Cavs have LeBron James who is virtually unguardable in this series and the Bulls have Derrick Rose. Both of these players will determine the outcome of this series. It is hard to give Chicago any time chance of winning this series, but they proved they can beat the Cavs and it will be interesting to see how things pan out if the Bulls can win at least one more game.

Can the Bulls make it a series against the Cavaliers?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

It has been a long hard season for the Chicago Bulls as they have struggled with many things throughout the year from losing their leading scorer Ben Gordon in the off-season and dealing with the possible firing of head coach Vinny Del Negro. All of these things have contributed to a so-so season for the Bulls as they were trying to get back into the playoffs.

Despite all the turmoil that has gone on throughout the franchise, like Bulls GM John Paxson going at it with head coach Vinny Del Negro, and problems putting a competitive team on the floor, Chicago has been able to clinch the eighth seed in the Eastern conference regardless.

Even though it was impressive to see a late-season push by the Chicago Bulls, the postseason looked to be another challenge altogether as they would have to face the number one overall seed in the playoffs in LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers.

Coming into the playoffs the Cleveland Cavaliers were thought to be the favorite to win it all as they had all the pieces to the puzzle with the addition of Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison in the mix.

Last season the Cavs were a similar situation heading into the playoffs as they were arguably the best team in the league and riding high with arguably the best all-around player in the NBA in LeBron James. The first couple of rounds of the playoffs weren’t much of the challenge for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they made quick work of their opponents, but once they got to the Eastern conference finals everything changed as they could not figure out a way to compete against the Orlando Magic who have arguably one of the best defensive players in the league in Dwight Howard.

Fortunately, this season the Cleveland Cavaliers addressed the problem of guarding Dwight Howard by trading for four-time NBA champion center Shaquille O’Neal. It is still yet to be seen whether or not an aging Shaq can contain much younger Dwight Howard, but Cavs are looking much better than they were last season and should have a good chance of competing with the Magic this time around.

Even though the Cleveland Cavaliers have their sights set on the NBA finals, they still a ways to go before they can start thinking about an NBA title. Despite no one giving the Chicago Bulls any kind of a chance against the Cavs in the first round of the playoffs, Derrick Rose and company have exceeded expectations so far by giving the Cavs a run for their money.

The one matchup in this series that the Cleveland Cavaliers did not anticipate being so lopsided was the point guard position where Chicago Bulls have Derrick Rose running all over the Cavs.

Even when the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to put LeBron James on Derrick Rose, the up and coming point guard out of Memphis was still able to drive to the hoop at will and get to the free-throw line.

Basically, the Cavs have LeBron James who is virtually unguardable in this series and the Bulls have Derrick Rose. Both of these players will determine the outcome of this series. It is hard to give Chicago any time chance of winning this series, but they proved they can beat the Cavs and it will be interesting to see how things pan out if the Bulls can win at least one more game.

NBA Playoff Previews – Eastern Conference


Staff Writer: Jeremiah Ira Yap

Cleveland Cavaliers vs (8) Chicago Bulls

Wow, the Cavs already won Game 1 without much of a hiccup. Stop the presses. Is this surprising to you? Well, it shouldn’t be. The Cavs played great with Shaq back in the lineup. O’Neal looked like he didn’t miss a beat after sitting out most of the second half of the season. His performance was reminiscent of the Shaq of old rather than old Shaq.
The testy but valiant Bulls may actually catch the Cavs asleep and steal a game but that seems like wishful thinking. Did you see how focused LeBron James was? He finally has the fire in his belly to compete for a championship. James learned a thing or two from Kobe Bryant during the Redeem Team’s Olympic run – talent isn’t everything, it’s inner drive that makes you a great basketball player and wins you championships.

Confidence will not be enough for the Chicago Bulls. Cavs advance to the second round in four games.

Orlando Magic vs (7) Charlotte Bobcats

This is probably the most intriguing match-up in the playoffs. The versatility of the Bobcats against the new look, but still motivated Magic. Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis against defensive minded Gerald Wallace and the unpredictable Stephen Jackson. With so much focus on how Vince Carter will perform in the playoffs, the Magic’s real key to success is Jameer Nelson. Nelson wasn’t close to a hundred percent in the Finals against the Lakers, this year he’ll get the chance to prove how valuable he is to Orlando’s title hopes. He needs to attack the rim and hit his threes, similar to what Rafer Alston did for the Magic last year.

Orlando is a deeper team with Matt Barnes, Ryan Anderson, Jason Williams, Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat as their bench players. They also have bigger and more athletic players – expect them to outmuscle Charlotte in the paint. Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown will keep things interesting, but his team lacks the fouls to use on Dwight Howard.

Dwight Howard’s size in the middle will be too much for Charlotte. The Magic advance to the second round in six games.

Atlanta Hawks vs (6) Milwaukee Bucks

The Hawks came out the gate and blitzed the undermanned Bucks in the first half – they scored 62 points and held the Bucks to 40 points. A ton of blocks and defensive stops paved way for the Hawks fast break points.

Atlanta’s first half performance was nearly perfect, but they almost wasted it with a lackluster second outing. The Bucks outscored the Hawks 52 to 40 in the second half. Rookie Brandon Jennings carried most of the scoring load with Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd suffering season ending injuries. Jennings scored 34 points and there was not one Hawk who could guard him. Jennings may have to score 55 points again for the Hawks to even have a chance in the series.

Jamal Crawford scored 17 points in his playoff debut. All five of the Hawks starters scored in double digits.

The Hawks inability to close out opponents almost haunted them in Game 1. The Bucks might actually steal a game before succumbing to the deeper and more talented Hawks. Hawks in five games.

Boston Celtics vs (5) Miami Heat

Dwyane Wade had a great game against the Celtics in Game 1 of their playoff series. He scored 26 points on 11 of 18 shooting, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists. Despite throwing the ball away seven times, he was efficient both ways of the floor. That’s the main problem why the Heat lost. Only Wade had a great game. Quentin Richardson was the other Heat player who scored in double figures. Miami’s other starters, Carlos Arroyo, Jermaine O’Neal and Michael Beasley combined to make nine of their 27 shots for 20 points.

If I were D-Wade, I’d already be asking if LeBron James is willing to go to New York with me. Miami has failed to surround Wade with the supporting cast he has been asking for all season. If Miami gets swept, there’s no doubt that Wade will bolt to another team this summer.

Kevin Garnett scored 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds and threw one elbow that hit Richardson’s jaw. Things got chippy after Paul Pierce fell in front of the Miami bench. Richardson stood directly above Pierce and Garnett took it as disrespect.

With Wade doing everything for Miami except the laundry, the Celtics will likely wear him down in a seven game series. O’Neal and Beasley will have two big games to keep Miami from getting swept. Other than that, the Celtics will beat Miami in six games and win their last playoff series with the Big Three.

NBA Playoff Preview: Cavaliers vs. Bulls

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

The Cleveland Cavaliers have done it again! This season the Cavs will be heading into the NBA playoffs with the overall best record and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs for the second straight season and with high hopes of becoming NBA champions for the first time in franchise history.

Despite the Cleveland Cavaliers being the odds-on favorite to win the NBA championship this season, there’s still a long way to go before we even reached the finals and anything can happen from now until then just like he did last season the Orlando Magic made easy work of LeBron James and company in the Eastern Conference finals.
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron JamesObviously, the one team that the Cleveland Cavaliers have in their crosshairs is the Orlando Magic who ended their run at the NBA finals last season. In a way to counter the Orlando Magic’s offensive firepower and defense beast in Dwight Howard, the Cavs went out and traded for Shaquille O’Neal in the offseason.

The move was made in order to try and contain Dwight Howard if they end up facing each other once again at some point in the playoffs. It is uncertain if Shaq will be a contain Howard, but the chances are looking much better than they were last season when the Orlando Magic against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Another move the Cleveland Cavaliers made during the regular season in order to keep Lebron James and a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform for the foreseeable future and compete with the best of the best in the league, Cavs GM Danny Ferry made a trade for virtually nothing and acquired versatile forward Antawn Jamison.

With the addition of Jamison and Shaq, the Cleveland Cavaliers have become arguably the best all around team in the league and will be extremely tough to beat in a seven game series.

The first team that LeBron James and company will face in the playoffs is a team that were able to get into the postseason on the last game of the NBA regular season in the Chicago Bulls.

Even though the Chicago Bulls might be a great team in the near future with the emergence of superstar point guard Derrick Rose and center Joakim Noah, they still have a ways to go to be able to compete with teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and that will never be more apparent than it will be against the Cavs in the first round of the playoffs.

Not only do the Chicago Bulls have absolutely no body to guard LeBron James in this series, but they will struggle against the Cavs sheer size as there will be matchup problems galore and unless Derrick Rose has a career game, every game, I can’t see the Bulls win more than one game in the first round.

Now the one thing that Chicago Bulls might have going for them coming into this series with the Cleveland Cavaliers is that they played exceptionally well against the Boston Celtics last season in the playoffs and were able to take into full seven games.

Even though the Boston Celtics are nowhere near the dominant team that the Cleveland Cavaliers are right now, Derrick Rose and company might be able to get some of that playoff swagger back and surprise

LeBron’s Cavs with a couple of wins.

Series Prediction: 4-0 Cleveland Cavaliers

Who is the dark horse in the Eastern Conference playoffs?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

There is no doubting that right now the Cleveland Cavaliers are by far the favorite to come out of the Eastern conference and represent the East in the NBA finals. No team in the East has a player like LeBron James who can just take over again whenever he feels he needs to. Few players in the league have ever been tagged with the distinction of being unguardable, but LeBron James pulls that off quite nicely.

The one team that seems to give them the most trouble with the past two seasons is the Orlando Magic who have arguably the best collection of offense of weapons in the NBA today and the best defensive player in the league in center Dwight Howard.

After the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic, the competition in the Eastern conference drops off fairly drastically as the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics become the next two teams to beat in the conference.

Even though the top four teams in the Eastern conference will be the only teams in the East that most people keep their eyes on in these playoffs, there is one team that I believe could shock one or more of these great teams in the conference during the postseason.

Throughout this NBA regular season we’ve seen a few surprises for certain players in certain teams exceeding expectations and becoming legitimate playoff teams.

In the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder who have gone from one of the worst teams in the league to one of the promising young teams in the future in just one season. Not only has the Thunder been able to become a playoff team for the first time since moving to Oklahoma City, but Kevin Durant has gone from just a good player to arguably the best score this week today. As a result, the Texas product has one scoring title and become the youngest player to do so in NBA history.

In the Eastern conference, the Milwaukee Bucks are the team that have really surprised people as they have had nothing but disappointment over the last few seasons with their superstar guard Michael Redd going down in consecutive seasons with serious knee injuries.

Despite Michael Redd going down once again with a knee injury and quite possibly claim his last game as a Milwaukee Buck, the team has been able to rally around point guard rookie phenom Brandon Jennings.
Even though a lot of people questioned whether or not Brandon Jennings couldn’t play the NBA level after playing in Italy for one season due to his in eligibility to enter the NBA draft because of age, young kid has completely turned around his franchise and looks like a future superstar in this week with the help of All-Star caliber center Andrew Bogut.

Not only has Brandon Jennings almost single-handedly brought interest back to the Milwaukee Bucks fan base, but he has helped lead the team back into the playoffs and in my opinion given them a solid shot at competing with the best the best in the conference.

I do believe for the Milwaukee Bucks might be able to surprise some people in the playoffs, but they will have their work cut out for them against another young and upcoming team in the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks by no means will go down without a fight, but in my opinion this will be the most entertaining first round matchup in the playoffs.

Are the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Finals bound?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

All season long the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers have been the favorite to repeat and basically dominate the league once again. This isn’t a bad prediction as Lakers have been arguably the best team in the league the last two seasons and will head into the playoffs for the third straight year as a number one seed in the Western Conference.

Despite everybody going for Kobe Bryant and company this year, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been arguably the best team in the league throughout the regular season and as another plus, they have beaten the defending champs twice this season in convincing fashion.

Obviously the playoffs or another beast altogether and the Cleveland Cavaliers to be the first team to admit to that as they went into the playoffs last season as the favorite to win it all and were absolutely dominated by the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference finals.

Even though the Cavs really didn’t stand a chance against Dwight Howard and company last season in the playoffs, this year might be another story altogether as Cleveland has done all he can do in the off-season and during the season to upgrade their roster in order to compete with the likes of the Orlando Magic when the time comes.

The one move to the Cleveland Cavaliers made in the off-season was making a trade to bring in future Hall of fame center Shaquille O’Neal to help defend Dwight Howard in the paint come playoff time. Long with Shaq, the Cavs also made another deal during regular season before the NBA trade deadline on February 18th to bring in versatile All-Star caliber forward Antawn Jamison from the Washington Wizards.

Not only was the trade to bring in Jamison an absolute steal as they gave up virtually nothing to bring in an All-Star caliber player, but they lost improve their chances of re-signing LeBron James in the off-season and creating a dynasty in Cleveland for the first time in the franchise’s history.

Even though LeBron James is future the Cleveland Cavaliers is very much up in the air, an NBA title this season would definitely improve their chances of locking him up for the next five years or so and keeping him in Cleveland Cavaliers uniform.

Until July 1st this summer when LeBron James officially becomes a free agent, the Cleveland Cavaliers will attempt to make franchise history by getting to their second NBA Finals appearance and win their first NBA title.

The Eastern Conference playoffs may not be filled with as many talented teams like we see in the Western Conference, but the Cleveland Cavaliers will definitely have their work cut out for them as they will have to compete with the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks at one point or another in order to advance to the NBA Finals.
As of right now, I believe the Cleveland Cavaliers are the favorites to come out of the East and will advance to the NBA Finals.

Can they beat the Los Angeles Lakers in a seven game series?

Remains to be seen, but if these two teams do end up facing off it might be one of the most entertaining NBA Finals series in recent memory.

What’s the key to the Thunder’s sudden resurgence?

Ryan Ward - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

The Thunder will make their first playoff appearance in its young existence. Oklahoma City is currently the sixth seed in the west but are locked in a three-way battle with the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs. Well, it doesn’t really matter what seed they will end up in because the Thunder are young, athletic and skilled, which makes them a very dangerous first-round opponent.

Obviously, their success can be attributed by the sudden explosion of Kevin Durant. Durant went from rising star last season to an MVP candidate. He will likely win his first scoring title this season. Forward Jeff Green is averaging 15 points a ball game and Russell Westbrook is having a career year. These three young guns are a big reason why the Thunder find themselves in the playoffs.

It’s their offense that gets a lot of recognition, but its actually the Thunder’s defense which makes them dangerous. The Thunder allows only 97.6 points a game, which is good enough for 11th in the league. There’s not one individual on Oklahoma City that is a great defender. But as a team the Thunder are a cohesive, effective defensive unit.

Against the highest scoring team in the league, the Phoenix Suns, the Thunder held them to their lowest scoring output in the second half – the Suns scored only 34 points. The young Oklahoma City Thunder also held the Suns under 100 points. Two-time MVP Steve Nash and All-star Amar’e Stoudemire were forced into committing five combined turnovers.

All you need to know about what the Thunder defense did to the Suns offense is this: the Suns shot 58 percent in first and second quarters. After that, Phoenix shot only 31 percent. Durant and Green had seven steals – amazing considering they are both forwards.

This years Thunder reminds us much of last seasons Portland Trail Blazers. Exciting crowd, budding superstar in Durant (in the Blazers case Brandon Roy), and a core group of young talented guys. All of this resulted in first-round fodder.

Durant, in particular, had no turnovers on his way to scoring 35 points. It’s been a joy to watch Durant this season. There are already talks that is he the second best player in the league – yes, in front of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard. This statement might be a reach considering Durant has played at this level for only one season. Plus, greatness can’t be measured during the season, it is seen where it counts – in the playoffs.

Durant and the Thunder will get the opportunity to prove exactly that as they make their first playoff appearance in history.