Chris Bosh turns to Twitter for guidance

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

There is a lot of speculation on where the big name free agents in the NBA will eventually land after July 1st this summer, but even though many people believe it is a simple decision to make to either stay with their current team or go for the big money somewhere else, it really just isn’t that simple.

Obviously there are a lot of things that come into play when professional athlete decides to join a new team like location, weather, market and of course the almighty dollar, but like I said, not an easy choice by any means.

Some players are simple though, they don’t mind bad weather or playing in a small market if it is their home town, but if it isn’t, there is definitely a good chance that when the player becomes available to the highest bidder he will decide to go elsewhere more appealing or livable.

The big fish in the NBA free-agent market this summer will without a doubt be LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. No matter how you shake it, LeBron is a huge game changer for any team he could play for as he could quickly change the franchise from a perennial loser to a possible title contender in just one season.

Many people believe that LeBron James will jump ship and head to New York if he can’t win a title with the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. The two-time MVP has already said that he is a huge New York fan that loves the Yankees and there is no bigger market to make his millions and become a global icon.

Cleveland is his hometown, has been and always will be, but New York might be just be too much to pass up on as they will have the money, the market and a hell of a lot better nightlife.

Even though the debate will rage on about LeBron and his big decision, there plenty of other players in the NBA free-agent market that will also get plenty of attention this summer. One of those players is versatile All-Star forward Chris Bosh from the Toronto Raptors.

During his time with the Toronto Raptors, Bosh has turned into a superstar and arguably one of the best players at his position, but every single season the Raptors struggle to get into the playoffs and are never really considered that much of a threat in the Eastern Conference.

With that being said, there is no doubt that Chris Bosh be getting a lot of attention from other teams looking to upgrade their frontcourt like the New York Knicks, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers just to name a few. All three of these teams will look to seriously upgrade their rosters this summer and try to become a title contender much the way the Boston Celtics did back in 2008 by adding Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett into the mix.

Like I said before, this is no easy decision as he will get many different offers from many different places, but Bosh has put an original spin on making his decision by asking his devoted Twitter followers to help them make the decision on where he should play next season.

One big hint to Bosh’s future came recently when he was seen at a Los Angeles Lakers playoff game and actually went into the locker room afterwards to talk to the players. This might mean nothing as he might be good friends with Kobe Bryant, who played with during the Summer Olympics, but it also might have huge implications as he might be looking to take less money to come play with the defending champs or could be possibly talking to Los Angeles Clippers.

Whatever the case may be, Bosh is definitely open to negotiation with other teams in my opinion will not be going back to the Toronto Raptors next season.

Will Chris Bosh return to the Toronto Raptors?

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

This upcoming NBA free agent market starting July 1st will be arguably the most talented pack of big name free agents the league has ever seen available at one time.

It is no secret that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade the two biggest names in this free agent pool starting July 1st, but are plenty of other big name players that will be available to the highest bidder and could quite possibly turn around and NBA franchise.

Even though almost all the NBA teams around the league will do what they can to upgrade with all the talent available starting July 1st, their only really three teams that will be in the running for the best players available as they will have the most money to spend and are arguably the most desirable destinations in terms of location.

The New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat will all have a whole lot of money to spend this summer and they intend to do just that has all three of these teams could definitely use some major improvements in order to become a force to be reckoned with next season and for the foreseeable future.

Obviously, the New York Knicks will be the team trying to improve the most as they are the team with the most problems and the least amount of talent right now. The Knicks however do have one most promising young players in All-Star David Lee, but they will be trying to go after the big fish and sign LeBron James to an enormous contract.

Unfortunately, if the New York Knicks cannot convince King James to come to the Big Apple, which many people believe they will not be able to as the Cleveland Cavaliers are the clear favorite to re-sign him, they will have to have considerable backup plan.

So even if they can or cannot sign LeBron James, the New York Knicks will have enough money to sign not just one, but two big name free agents with players like Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh being the best candidates for the second player.

The Toronto Raptors have just recently ended their season in very disappointing fashion as they have been in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference for quite some time and basically control their own fate, but with the season on the line heading into the last week of the regular season Chris Bosh and company dropped the ball and were knocked out of playoff contention by the Chicago Bulls.

With the Chicago Bulls clinching the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, Bosh is basically a free agent and will start fielding offers and possible destinations for his future in the NBA.

Obviously, Bosh cannot sign a new contract with another team until he officially becomes a free agent on July 1st, but you better believe he will start getting courted immediately as he would be a huge upgrade for any team that is looking for frontcourt help.

Many people believe that he will not return to the Toronto Raptors and for good reason as they seem like a team on the verge of becoming a threat in the East but never seem to get there and as a result may have been the last straw for Chris Bosh and his decision to go elsewhere.

The clear favorite to sign him is the New York Knicks, but I believe he would be an excellent fit for the Los Angeles Clippers who will be looking to surround Blake Griffin with veteran talent and leadership.

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.

Can the Toronto Raptors make the playoffs without Chris Bosh?

Ryan Ward - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

The NBA playoffs are just around the corner in both conferences have all but wrapped up the playoff spots and potential playoff matchups, but there is one spot left to be filled in the Eastern conference as the Toronto Raptors and the Chicago Bulls battle it out for the eighth spot in a first-round matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

All season long the Chicago Bulls and the Toronto Raptors have been extremely streaky teams and sometimes they look like they could be great teams, but then just seemed to implode and dropped the ball the most crucial moment.

There is no doubting that the Toronto Raptors and the Chicago Bulls can be a dominant team in the Eastern conference, but they still have a ways to go before they can compete with the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic or the Boston Celtics.

There’s only a handful games left in the season and the Raptors are ahead in the race for the last playoff spot in the NBA, but they took a huge blow recently when the Raptors best player in Chris Bosh was smacked in the face of an elbow against the Cleveland Cavaliers and was sent directly to the hospital.

The injury wasn’t as serious as it sounds, but he still sustained a broken nose which could drastically change his play during the last games of the regular season and into the playoffs.

With that being said the Chicago Bulls now have the best opportunity to try and clinch the final spot in the East and set up the matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round.

Obviously no one wants to face the Cleveland Cavaliers and the first round as they are arguably the best team in the league right now with the best record heading into the playoffs, but getting into the postseason and going home two completely different things and sometimes the barometer of success of an NBA season.

Along with the Toronto Raptors fighting for their playoff lives and hoping Chris Bosh gets better, they are also concerned about the future of the franchise as their All-Star forward could be on his way to a different team this summer when he becomes a free agent on July 1st.

The one team that constantly gets mentioned many big name free agent gets in the conversation is the New York Knicks as they will have the most money to spend than any other team in the NBA this summer and will be going after some pretty big fish when they get the opportunity.

If the Toronto Raptors do not make the playoffs it might be a fairly big loss to the team as they might have played their last game with Chris Bosh in the lineup and it might be right back to the drawing board for a team on the brink of becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern conference.

Can the Toronto Raptors challenge the Boston Celtics in the Atlantic division?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer:  Ryan Ward

There are only a handful of teams in the Eastern Conference that can actually contend for a title like the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics and arguably the best team in the league in the Cleveland Cavaliers, but as we get closer and closer to playoff time in the second half of the NBA regular season some teams are starting to lose their grip on division leads.

As of right now it is pretty obvious which teams look title contender it on their way to the playoffs in both conferences, but what is uncertain it will be most likely uncertain only up to the end of the regular season will be seeding of these teams and who will the division titles throughout the league.

The closest divisional races in the league right now are the Southeast division in the Eastern Conference with the Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic battling it out for the top spot as originally four games the divide the teams. The Hawks have played brilliantly this season and have really become a much better team with the addition of Jamal Crawford and the squad coming together with some much needed team chemistry. The Magic on the other hand are playing at a high level as well right now and are starting to look like the team was able to make it to the NBA Finals last season. In the end, I believe the Magic will come out on top, but the Hawks will be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.

The Northwest division in the West has the Utah Jazz quickly gaining ground on the Denver Nuggets being only two games behind Carmelo Anthony and company. At the beginning of the season it was very uncertain whether or not Jerry Sloan’s squad could compete with the best in the West, but as the season has progressed is becoming more and more evident that they are amongst the best teams in the league and might be one of the teams to keep your eye on in the postseason.

The Southwest division is arguably the most competitive division in the NBA with every single team in the division being a legitimate playoff team, but the Dallas Mavericks been red hot and leading the division with a 5 1/2 game lead winning their last 13 games in a row. The San Antonio Spurs are in second place as of right now, but with all their experience in these kind of situations they could quite possibly make a push for the top spot in the division before the regular season comes to a close.

The one division of all divisions in the NBA doesn’t get much attention due to the fact that the Boston Celtics seem to run away with it ever since Kevin Garnett came to town, is the Atlantic division which has some of the worst teams in the league with the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and quite possibly the worst NBA team of all-time in the New Jersey Nets will only one seven games this entire season.

As usual, the Boston Celtics are leading the way in the Atlantic division with a 41-23 record, but the Toronto Raptors are slowly creeping up the standings and could very well challenge the Boston Celtics the top spot in the division if they can get hot in the second half of the regular season.

In all likelihood the Boston Celtics will run away with the division once again, but I wouldn’t count out the Toronto Raptors as they have played well at times this season and are capable of making a run for the Atlantic division title.

Kobe Bryant finishes off the Toronto Raptors with his sixth game-winning shot of the season

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer:  Ryan Ward

No team in the NBA this season has been as exciting to watch in late game situations then the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers who have won six games in dramatic fashion this season.

Even though we have seen some spectacular finishes by the defending champs the season they have begun to struggle at times and came into their game against the Toronto Raptors with a three game losing streak. This losing streak was the first time that the Los Angeles Lakers have lost three in a row since acquiring Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies back in 2008. Very impressive to say the least that Kobe Bryant and company have and let themselves get into a slump over the last 2 1/2 seasons despite playing in two consecutive NBA Finals.

The one thing that has happen to the Los Angeles Lakers this season has been different from seasons past has been that they have dealt with injuries to multiple players not just Andrew Bynum who has suffered knee injuries over the last two years.

This time around it has been Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum who have been in and out of the lineup, but even though this would devastate most teams looking to compete for an NBA title, the Lakers have been able to hold their own played quite well in the absence of their superstars.

Obviously these injuries have happened at different times of the season and the Lakers haven’t had to deal with more than one missing superstar the time, but they did have to play without Kobe Bryant for five games and basically the entire month of February.

Most people believe that Los Angeles can’t win without Kobe Bryant and the lineup, but the Lakers fared quite well without the Black Mamba by winning four of the five games Kobe sat out with an injured ankle.

This was impressive to say the least as even the one loss they had was against the Boston Celtics which could have very well been one if Derek Fisher had made the last second shot.

So what the Lakers proven they could play without their best player, the true test is going to be whether they could play with them after getting used to play without them and last Tuesday night against the Toronto Raptors Kobe Bryant proved why they need him after he hit his sixth game-winning shot of the season with 1.9 seconds remaining on the clock to beat the Toronto Raptors 109-107.

It seems to matter how much you doubt them, but no matter how hurt you think he might be, Kobe Bryant continues to prove over and over again that he is the best closer in basketball today. He still is a ways to go before he can be compared with the likes of Michael Jordan in late game situations, but he is as close as it comes to MJ games online and someone is needed to take the last shot!

Possible NBA Playoff matchups in the Eastern Conference

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer:  Ryan Ward

The NBA regular season is quickly coming to an end with less than 15 games left for most of the teams around the league. With the regular season ending all the playoff bound teams in the NBA are either trying to hold on their seeds or improve their position before the postseason.

Here are how things shape up in the Eastern Conference if the playoffs were to start today:

#1 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #8 Toronto Raptors

It would be hard to argue that the Cavs aren’t the best team in the league right now. LeBron James and company have the best record in the league and will almost certainly head into the playoffs that way, but the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers might be able to close the gap if Cleveland begins to struggle.

Right now the Cavs are red hot and riding high as LeBron James is on his way to winning his second straight NBA MVP and Cleveland is gearing up for what might be a championship run in the playoffs.

There first opponent will more than likely be the Toronto Raptors who have played well at times this season, but won’t be able to put much of fight against LeBron James and company.

The health of Shaq and Antawn Jamison will determine the outcome of this series. I really can’t see Chris Bosh and company being much of a challenge, but if Shaq and Jamison aren’t 100%, Bosh might have a good series.

Series Prediction: 4-1 Cleveland Cavaliers

#2 Orlando Magic vs. #7 Charlotte Bobcats

The defending Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic are poised to make another run at an NBA title this season as they will come into the postseason with a lot of confidence knowing they dominated the Cleveland Cavaliers last season in the playoffs.

Before the Cavs and Magic face off, they will have to contend with the up and coming Charlotte Bobcats in the first round. The Bobcats, like the Magic, could give the Cavs a run for their money if they meet in the playoffs, but I am not sure they will be able to compete with Dwight Howard and company.

The Magic will have the edge in the paint and on the perimeter which means they could quite possibly sweep the Bobcats in four games.

Series Prediction: 4-0 Orlando Magic

#3 Boston Celtics vs. #6 Miami Heat

The Boston Celtics aren’t getting any younger and this season was a big indication of that as they struggled with injuries to their big three (KG, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen), but they saw Rajon Rondo get even better as it has become more and more apparent that the Celtics will be his team in the near future.

Despite not being the dominant team we remember from a couple of seasons ago, Boston can still hang with the best of them and will almost certainly advance to the second round of the playoffs.

The Miami Heat will come into this series once again trying to prove they can play with the big boys in the East, but even though they have Dwyane Wade, who will be a matchup nightmare for the Celtics, the Heat still have a ways to go before they can become a title contender once again.

Series Prediction: 4-2 Boston Celtics

#4 Atlanta Hawks vs. #5 Milwaukee Bucks

I believe the series between the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks will be the most intriguing of all in the Eastern Conference as both of these teams are young squads on the rise!

The Hawks have the better all around team with a more polished game plan and chemistry, but the Bucks have Brandon Jennings who could very well be a wildcard in the playoffs as he is explosive and unpredictable. With Jennings on the floor, anything can happen, but in the end I believe the Hawks experience outweighs the Bucks talent.

Series Prediction: 4-3 Atlanta Hawks