The top of the rankings this week are filled with the “do we really believe in them?” teams. Toronto and Portland are 1/2 and both have had a reputation of folding in the postseason… but we’re not there yet. Not even close. So they take over the top spots, while the Suns are the new cellar dwellers. 1. Raptors (12-2, last week No. 2). These Raptors want to run — 19% of their possessions and 17% of their points come in transition. Toronto’s raw pace isn’t extreme (102.1 possessions per game, 12th in the league) but when they do they are efficient. The Raptors had won six in a row, including crushing everyone on a West Coast road swing, until they ran into a hot Anthony Davis Monday. Friday against Boston is a fun test and starts another four-game road swing (you know they wish the schedule maker would put more road trips to warm place in January/February and not the fall). 2. Trail Blazers (10-3, LW 4). What’s different about … [Read more...] about NBA Power Rankings: Do we really believe in Toronto and Portland?
Alpha 9 come home
Chris McCosky The Detroit News Published 8:40 p.m. UTC Aug 27, 2018 Kansas City, Mo. — You hear this a lot, especially in professional sports: Your greatest strength can sometimes be your greatest weakness. It rings true with Tigers pitcher Jordan Zimmermann these days. His calling card has always been his fierce competitive nature and an unwavering belief in himself. While he was posting All-Star campaigns with the Nationals, he was the definition of a bulldog. It didn’t matter the count. You want to ambush him on the first pitch? Fine, here’s the heater — good luck. He’s got you 0-2, he’s not wasting a pitch. Here’s the heater — good luck. But there comes a point where bulldog becomes bullheaded. And at age 32, after a couple of injury-plagued seasons, Zimmermann seems to be walking that line. The things he could get away with when his fastball was clocking at 94-95 mph, he’s not able to now with the radar … [Read more...] about McCosky: Zimmermann’s Alpha approach working against him
In one fell unremarkable, all-business tweet, LeBron James flipped the NBA on its head. He agreed to join the Los Angeles Lakers, as nondescriptly announced by Klutch Sports Group, tilting the league's already-lopsided balance of power even more toward the Western Conference and leaving the Eastern Conference to bathe in relative ruin. Owners and coaches and executives and players from the lesser conference would surely prefer James' departure be spun as an inclusive opportunity—hope for all. And it is. The past eight East titles were determined by asking one question: Is James on your team? Answering "no" during that time rendered your NBA Finals chances moot. That trend showed signs of cracking this year, when both the Indiana Pacers (first round) and shorthanded Boston Celtics (conference finals) pushed the Cleveland Cavaliers to seven-game brinks. But still: LeBron is LeBron. Had he stayed in the East, his championship-round treadmill stood to persist, even if it had to … [Read more...] about Who Are the New Eastern Conference Alphas After LeBron James’ Departure?
The Celtics expected to see a different LeBron James in Cleveland after the Cavaliers fell into a 2-0 hole to open the Eastern Conference finals.Two games and back-to-back wins later, James has reminded everyone exactly why he’s been to seven straight NBA Finals.Boston will be back in the embrace of its raucous fans at TD Garden for Game 5 on Wednesday. But a team that has thrived on youth this postseason suddenly looks disoriented without a go-to player and opposite a more veteran squad that has found a new attitude thanks to the fuel being provided by its biggest star.Celtics coach Brad Stevens said all you can do against James is “make it as hard as you can.”“LeBron is the best player of this generation and he’s just maintained that because of his commitment to improvement,” Stevens said. “He’s always been an unbelievable physical player. He’s always been a savvy player. And he’s always had, just like the natural instincts … [Read more...] about Celtics need to win Game 5 to keep home-court advantage
BOSTON (AP) — The Celtics expected to see a different LeBron James in Cleveland after the Cavaliers fell into a 2-0 hole to open the Eastern Conference finals Two games and back-to-back wins later, James has reminded everyone exactly why he’s been to seven straight NBA finals. Boston will be back in the embrace of its raucous fans at TD Garden for Game 5 on Wednesday. But a team that has thrived on youth this postseason suddenly looks disoriented without a go-to player and opposite a more veteran squad that has found a new attitude thanks to the fuel being provided by its biggest star. “My teammates are putting me in position and wanting me to be in attack mode and trusting me to put our guys in position to be successful,” James said. “It’s not about me. It’s about the collective group, and I’m one of the byproducts of that.” While the Cavs are certainly feeling rejuvenated, coach Tyronn Lue said it hasn’t changed their sense … [Read more...] about Celtics hope return home can slow LeBron, Cavs in Game 5