Warriors vs Cavs – Game 3: Dagger

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We finally had a nail-biter and one hell of a game.  The stars from both teams came to play and they put on a dazzling show. Final score was 118-113 Warriors. JR Smith banged a three with 2:30 left in the game to make the score 113-107 Cavs. That would be the last points that the Cavs would score for the remainder of the game. The Warriors closed the game with an 11-0 run…. Dagger !!!

The only unhappy campers with the outcome of the game were the Cav’s players, organization, fans, Charles Barkley and ABC/Disney. Barkey is a Warrior hater and doesn’t think a “jump shooting” team should ever win a championship. If one analyzes the strength of the Warriors, it is their suffocating defense that leads the way and creates offensive opportunities. ABC/Disney loses $75 million per game that it can’t televise. So, naturally, they are hoping for a 7 game series. Speaking of 7 game series, JR Smith tweeted last night, “Cavs in 7”, then deleted it. I think he meant to tweet, “Cavs in for practice at 7:00 am on Thursday as the last practice of the year”.

Let’s take a look at the stars’ performances from both teams:

Cav’s:

  • LeBron James (39 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists) while playing 45 minutes.
  • Kyrie Irving (38 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) while playing 44 minute.
  • LeBron and Kyrie combined for 77 of the Cav’s 107 points.

Of note for the Cavs:

  • JR Smith broke out and made 5 three pointers for a total of 16 points.

Warriors:

  • Kevin Durant (31 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) while playing 40 minutes.
  • Klay Thompson (30 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists while playing 40 minutes.
  • Steph Curry (26 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists) while playing 39 minutes.
  • KD, Klay, and Steph combined for 87 of the Warrior’s 113 points.

Of note for the Warriors:

  • Although Draymond Green played only 33 minutes due to foul problems, he had the largest +/- differential while he was on the court… He was +14. Draymond’s play consistently goes well beyond any box scores. He is the heartbeat of the Warriors!
  • Andre Iguodala played 30 minutes and had a +/- differential of +10 behind only Draymond’s +14 and Steph’s +11. There was a reason why Andre was the MVP of the Finals two years ago!

In a game this close, there are always some plays that occur during the course of the game that play a large role in the outcome. Here are a few of them:

  • In the 2nd quarter, LeBron threw a lob pass into Kevin Love who was guarded by Draymond. The pass was so bad, it went into the basket for 2 points, plus a foul was called on Draymond.
  • Right before halftime with the score 67-59 Warriors, they had the last shot with KD controlling the ball. For some unexplained reason Zaza blatantly fouled trying to set a screen. The foul lead to Irving driving in for a layup at the buzzer. Instead of a 10 or 11 point lead, the Warriors went into halftime with only a 6 point lead. Steph was visibly upset at Zaza.
  • Early in the 3rd quarter, KD had an open lane for an easy dunk but again, Zaza foolishly committed an unnecessary foul negating the dunk.

In terms of the play of both Centers (Zaza Pachulia and Tristen Thompson), they were both atrocious and offset each other.

In regard to Kevin Love, Steve Kerr designed his offensive game plan attacking Love any time he had a chance. Love’s defensive is simply bad. The Warriors scored 25 points attacking Love which was really the difference in the game. The other difference is that the Warriors held the Cavs to 26% shooting in the 4th quarter. With LaBron playing 45 minutes and Kyrie playing 44 minutes, the two of them simply ran out of gas. Therein lies the difference between the two teams. The Cavs are a two man show while the Warriors’ Strength in Numbers were in full display.

Let’s now analyze the last 2:30 of the game when the Cav’s took a 6 point lead at 113-107. KD and Steph took over the game offensively to outscore the Cav’s 11-0 for the remainder of the game. But it was the defensive play of the 5 Warriors on the court that shut down the Cavs. In addition, the Cav’s lack of basketball IQ showed up in a big way after KD hit his remarkable three pointer to give the Warriors a 114-113 lead with 45.3 seconds left in the game. This set up the Cavs for a perfect 2-for-1 opportunity to give them two offensive opportunities to the Warriors one. Instead, Kyrie dribbled the clock away and missed a three point shot with 26 seconds left in the game. Ty Lue, LeBron and Kyrie all should have known the circumstance, yet they squandered away a golden opportunity. Their lack of IQ doesn’t end there. After the Warriors got the rebound, they were able to run off another 13 seconds off the clock without the Cavs fouling them. With 13 seconds left in the game, KD drained 2 free throws to give them a 3 point lead. Then came the play of the game. While I was thinking that the Warriors should foul with about 5-6 seconds left in the game to prevent a three point shot to be made, LeBron got the inbounds pass and immediately went up for a three point shot. While he was going up, Iguodala with his lightening fast magical hands, swatted the ball away and the ball hit LeBron prior to going out of bounds…. Game over!!! While it was a great play by Andre, he was an inch away of fouling LeBron with the possibility of putting him on the line to tie the game. In the heat of the game, Andre relied on instinct and made the play that he is skilled at to win the game.

Lastly, let’s just marvel at some coincidences:

  • The five guys on the court in the last 3 minutes of the game were all at the Hampton’s to recruit KD last July.
  • Last year, Kyrie made the three pointer at the end of Game 7. This year, he missed the three point shot from approximately the same area of the court in Game 3.
  • Last year, LeBron blocked Iguodala in game 7 at the end of the game. This year, Iguodala blocks Lebron at the end of Game 3.
  • KD knocks down the go ahead three in front of LeBron. It was 5 years ago that LeBron and his Miami Heat beat KD’s OKC Thunder in the Finals.

Warriors vs Cavs – Game 2: Fo-Fo-Fo-Two

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The final score was 132-113 Warriors.

The Good news for the Cavs:

  • They forced 20 turnovers for the game resulting in 23 points.
  • They scored 60 points in the paint, mostly by LeBron taking it to the hoop early and often in the first half.
  • Kevin Love had a great offensive game (27 points).

Now, the Bad news for the Cavs:

  • Steve Kerr is baaaaaack.
  • Although the Cavs forced 8 turnovers in the first quarter, the Warriors still scored 40 points to their 34.
  • Although the Cavs forced 20 turnovers for the game, the Warriors scored 132 points, 19 more than in Game 1 when they had only 4 turnovers.
  • There wasn’t a single Cavs player who had a + point differential while on the court. This also happened in Game 1. LeBron was -11 and Kyrie was -17, and Love was -8.
  • Conversely, there wasn’t a single Warriors player who had a – point differential while on the court. This also happened in Game 1. Steph was +21, KD was +21 and Klay was +24.
  • Steph had a triple double (32 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists). But he had 8 turnovers.
  • KD had a monster game (33 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 5 massive blocks).
  • Klay found his shot (22 points and 4-7 from three) in addition to his stellar defensive play.

Plays of the game:

  • KD blocking Love on the block, then taking it coast-to-coast with a cross-over on LeBron and scoring on both LeBron and Love attempting to block his shot.
  • Steph doing a spin cycle on LeBron and taking it to the hoop with LeBron hitting only glass trying to block his layup. Additionally, Love was waiting for Steph in the paint, but only managed a weak hand in his face, then stepped back allowing Steph to easily bank his layup on the glass. This play demonstrated Love’s defense (or lack of) to a cup of tea.
  • Steph’s no-look binocular pass to Shaun Livingston for an easy uncontested dunk.

Misc stuff and musings:

  • The Warriors made 18 threes to the Cavs 8. The Cavs were averaging almost 15 threes in the Eastern Conference playoff games.
  • The Warriors shot 51.7% from the field, 41.9% from three, and 91.7% from the free-throw line with Steph being perfect at 14-14 (He was 10-10 in the first quarter). In the NBA, a mark of 50%-40%-80% in these categories is considered to be monster games.
  • On KD’s 4 point play in the second half, JR Smith fouled KD as he shot from the three point line. As he fouled KD, Smith also extended his leg right under KD. Luckily, KD didn’t land on Smith’s shoes and roll his ankle. Why wasn’t a flagrant foul called? Because KD didn’t get hurt. The NBA needs to address this somehow.
  • They are putting Tristen Thompson’s and JR Smith’s mug-shots on milk cartons as they are now officially MIA.
  • Ty Lue said that the Celics are a much tougher team to defend than the Warriors as they give them so many different looks. GEICO is now considering doing another one of their “Easier done than said” commercials with Lue in it.
  • Warriors are negotiating with a Broom company as they’ll need a lot of new brooms to keep their new arena in San Francisco clean… Just sayin’

Warriors vs Cavs – Game 1 Dominance

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The final score was 113-91 but the score didn’t reflect the magnitude of the Game 1 blow-out. Let me count the ways:

  • The Warriors missed 28 uncontested shots including 10 layups. The score could have been worse for the Cavs.
  • The Warriors defense gave up 52 points to the Cavs two super-stars, LeBron (28) and Kyrie (24), but held the rest of the team to 39 points. LeBron and Kyrie shot a combined 45% while the rest of the Cavs shot 25% for a combined team shooting percentage of 34.9%.
  • Kevin Love had a quiet 15 points although he did have a great rebounding game (21).
  • Tristen Thompson was invisible.
  • There wasn’t a single Cavs player who had a + point differential while on the court. LeBron was -22 and Kyrie was -17.
  • Conversely, there wasn’t a single Warriors player who had a – point differential while on the court. Steph was +20, KD was +16 and Iguodala was +14.

Steve Kerr’s game plan was simple. Play the hell out of defense and reduce turnovers. Possession in the playoffs mean everything. The resulting play of this strategy lead to 91 points given up and the creation of 20 turnovers while committing an NBA playoff record low 4 turnovers.

Taking the defensive strategy a level deeper, Kerr knew that they couldn’t contain LeBron and Kyrie so they focused on limiting the rest of the Cav’s players, especially at the 3 point line. LeBron, Kyrie and Love had 8 three pointers but the rest of the team had only 3. When your 4th best scoring player was Richard Jefferson with 9 points, that alone tells the story of how good the Warriors’ D was. Klay Thompson had a superb defensive game. When he was the primary defender on shots taken, the Cavs were 1 for 12. The pressure that he applied on Kevin Love’s jump shot early in the game was marvelous. Love’s shot was so far over the board and west of it, he was closer to the rim at the new stadium that the Warriors are building in San Francisco. Although Klay’s shooting stats were not good (3-16), his defense was much more valuable. And, as usual, Draymond had another monster defensive game.

Additionally, Kerr wanted to keep Tristen Thompson off of the boards. The result was that Thompson had a total of 3 offensive and 1 defensive rebounds. He was a rebounding monster throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. Credit goes to Zaza for a fabulous job on Tristen.

The Cav’s strategy on defense was to protect the 3 point line. The Warriors knew this so Kerr told Brown to get KD involved early and often, especially going to the hoop. I lost count of how many dunks KD made. Fresh in my mind were 3 occasions where the Warriors ran down the court on a fast break and the Cavs ran away from KD to guard Steph at the 3 point line. It was like Moses parting the sea paving the way for KD to go directly to the rim for uncontested dunks. They tried to change that strategy at halftime so this left Steph open in the 2nd half for 5 of his 6 three pointers. Cavs have to pick their poison.

The Cav’s strategy on offense was to play primarily “iso” with both LeBron and Kyrie. They would either take it to the hoop or find an open player at the three point line. This worked really well in the Eastern Conference. It didn’t work against the Warriors as they protected the three point line really well. The result is well documented above.

Game 1 exposed the Cavs as a really good team against “normal” teams as their supporting players are great 3 point shooters when uncontested. LeBron and Kyrie had their way with those teams as they always found an open Cav’s shooter so they put up some eye opening 3 point stats against these teams. Unfortunately for the Cavs, the Warriors are not a “normal” team. Game 1 also exposed the Cavs as an average defensive team, certainly not up to par with the Spurs or the Jazz. Lastly, Game 1 exposed KD as the most dominant player on the floor and forced LeBron to “try” to play defense. While KD scored 38 points, what was equally important was that it forced LeBron to expend energy on defense making him tired on offense. Against, the Eastern Conference teams, LeBron took breathers on defense allowing him to focus more on offense.

KD and Steph both stated that this is only 1 game and have a lot of remaining work to do. They are focused and “locked” in and are thinking that the only game that matters is the next game. Steph said that every 48 minute game is its own event so they have to lock in each moment. He also said that it is not about them (him and KD) but about the team as a whole. The Cavs are also a great team and have been here before. They lost the first 2 games last year and came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the championship. One can never count out a LeBron lead team. Having said that, I’m really anxious how the Cavs will adjust in Game 2, especially when LeBron said that KD was what stood out in Game 1. He went on and said that the Warriors were one of the best teams ever assembled last year, then they add one of the best players ever in KD… It is what it is…

What makes this year’s Warriors more dangerous than last year?

  • KD.
  • Steph is healthy.
  • Last year’s Warriors thought they were invincible. This year, they aren’t taking anything for granted. They are locked in.

Zaza Pachulia – Death Threats

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OK fans… Enough is enough and death threats are clearly out of bounds and goes directly against the spirit of my site… Sports is entertainment… so relax and enjoy it !!!

Whether Zaza’s play on an already injured Kawhi Leonard was dirty or not can be debated forever. It happened, Kawhi is now unable to play, and the game must go on.

Just some points for reference:

  • The #12 jersey which hangs in the rafters at AT&T arena in San Antonio belongs to the great defensive player, Bruce Bowen. He also happens to be one of the dirtiest players in the history of the NBA for doing (on multiple occasions) what Zaza did once (unintentionally)…. Did San Antonio fans tweet death threats on Bowen and his family? If fans of all of the players that Bowen injured (Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Allen Iverson, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Paul and others) tweeted death threat on Bowen, it is simply wrong !!!
  • In the same game that Kawhi got injured, LaMarcus Aldridge slid under Steph Curry on his jump shot, but Steph did not land on Aldridge’s shoes. Same kind of play but no injury to Steph.
  • In the game after, LaMarcus Aldridge again slid his legs under Kevin Durant and this time, Kevin did land on his shoes, but, fortunately for the Warriors, he did not suffer any leg injuries. After the game, Kevin was asked about that play. He gave a very classy answer. He said that “big’s” are not accustomed to guarding shooters at the 3 point line so they do the best they can to try to block the shot. It is just a part of the game.

“It wasn’t intentional at all, and I wish it didn’t happen,” Pachulia, whose Warriors lead the series 3-0, told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday. “I know everybody has different thoughts, and see it in a different way. Ex players, non players. There are guys saying I did it on purpose. I can’t control that. But I really felt bad (for Leonard). There’s nothing you can do, basically. I said it right after the game. I said it the next day. And if I get a chance to talk to Kawhi going forward, I will mention it to him.”

“(Fans) just hear the message, and it’s, ‘Ok, Pop said so and now let’s do this,’” Pachulia told USA Today. “It’s just wrong. You’ve got to think, and realize. Threaten me, but don’t threaten my wife or say something about my kids. It’s just wrong.”

Pachulia, a 14-year NBA veteran, is fine with taking the heat following the incident, but wishes his family was left out of it. “Me as a person, as a man, I don’t mind dealing with it,” he said. “But I hate to see my family deal with it. My wife and my kids who have nothing to do with it, who are very innocent. … I just hate my family going through that. They don’t deserve that. … I’m not blaming everything on (Popovich), but he was a very big part of it.”

Pachulia also said the threats have intensified to the point that extra security has been implemented at his children’s school.

There was a well documented incident that took place at Dodger Stadium in April 2011 after a Giants vs Dodger game. Bryan Stowe, an avid Giants fan, was beaten by several Dodger fans to the point where he suffered brain damage. This senseless act changed Bryan’s life and his family and friends forever.

I’m sure that there have been many other senseless acts where fans went way out of line just because their team lost.

C’mon folks !!! You will be fans of your team for life so you just need to learn how to deal with the bad times along with the good… Figure it out !!! If you can’t, put your left hand up on your forehead with your index finger pointed skyward with your thumb pointing sideways as you are a LOSER…

Warriors vs Spurs – Game 1 Wrap of the Western Conference Championship Series

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The Spurs came to play in Game 1 and took control of the game early. They played brilliant defense protecting the paint with their big’s and took away many of the pass out’s to the three point line. The Warriors were not aggressive at the get-go, turned the ball over 7 times in the first quarter and shot miserably. They trailed by 14 after a quarter, and by as much as 25 in the second quarter. The half-time score was 62-42.

Enter Steve Kerr…

Since he became coach of the Warriors in 2014, Steve tried to give his players the freedom to be themselves and to play to their strengths. He empowered them, assistant coach Ron Adams said, by cultivating a sense of self-reliance that has become even more apparent in recent weeks. Steve has been sidelined since the 2nd game of the Trail Blazers series with complications resulting from a bad back surgery more than two years ago. His teachings to both his coaching staff and his players are now paying huge dividends as his coaching staff know how Steve would want them to coach and the players have taken individual accountability for their play and know how to defend and move the ball the way Steve would want them to play.

At half-time Steve was available to the team and said a few words. He was brief but to the point. “We’ve got to find that balance between pace and discipline,” Kerr said in a clip that was broadcast by ABC. He added, “Settle in, and we’ll be all right.”

“It’s always great to hear Coach Kerr’s voice and give his perspective,” Curry said. “It’s actually a fresh perspective from somebody who is watching the game, so he sees a lot of different angles and he sees how things are developing from a broader perspective, so that’s obviously huge for us.”

Beginning the 3rd quarter, it felt like the Warriors were catching fire as Steph started red hot. But, the Spurs had their own fire and re-built a 23 point lead to 78-55. Then, at 7:55 of the third quarter, Kawhi came down on Zaza’s shoes on his already bad left ankle. This, after he had rolled that same ankle earlier in the game by stepping on David Lee’s shoes who wasn’t even playing at the time. Kawhi, stepped back onto the Spurs bench after firing a shot and landed on Lee’s shoes. There is much chatter about Zaza’s play being dirty which was instigated by the numb-nut, Jeff Van Gundy who said on national TV that Zaza should have been assessed a flagrant foul. Upon review of the replay, Zaza tried to block the shot as he should do, turned his back to Kawhi to block him out for defensive purposes, then started running up-court. He did touch Kawhi’s arm following through with his shot so it was indeed a foul. But, Zaza did NOT intentionally extend his foot to Kawhi’s landing spot, His name is NOT Grayson Allen. Lastly, Kawhi himself said that the Zaza play was not dirty. He was merely contesting the shot.

After Kawhi went out and the Warriors down 78-55, they then scored the next 18 points over the ensuing three and a half minutes to make it a game. They then took over the game by outscoring the Spurs, 58-33 in the final 19+ minutes.

The Warriors outscored the Spurs 71-49 in the second half. The Spurs shot 52.3 percent in the first half, 42.5 percent in the second. The Warriors shot 34.2 percent in the first half, 60.5 percent in the second.

The Warriors put up five more shots in the second half than in the first, and they outrebounded San Antonio 26-14 after halftime after losing the glass battle 23-17 in the first half.

Was this due to the Steve Kerr half-time speech?

This reminded me of the 1st game of the Trail Blazer’s series when McCollum and Lillard went off for 75 points and clearly gave their best effort while still losing to the Warriors by 12. When a team plays their best and still loses, it is demoralizing. The Spurs played their best game, lead by 25, lost their leader, Kawhi, after losing Tony Parker in the Rocket’s series, and still lost by 2 to the Warriors. Although a Popovich team will never quit and will always put up their best effort, the Warriors are also on a mission and they learned a lesson in the first half of this game. They will not be denied. I’m hoping for the best for Kawhi and hope he can come back for the rest of the series. If he is able to play, I see three more games left in the Spurs season.

In my mind, one thing is crystal clear… Kawhi Leonard is the MVP of the NBA for 2017 !!!

2017 NBA Finals – Cavs vs Warriors (déjà vu)

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I was correct in every one of my 1st round picks that I posted back on April 13, 2017.

Here are my predictions through the Finals…

East

Cavs vs Raptors: Cavs will win in another sweep 4-0. LeBron is in high gear and the Raptors don’t have any answers.

Celtics vs Wizards: Celtics defense has got it together. Celtics will win 4-2.

Cavs vs Celtics: Cavs will win in a great series 4-3. It will go 7 due to the Celtics’ strong defense.

West

Spurs vs Rockets: Despite the Rockets absolutely destroying the Spurs in Game 1, Spurs will get their defense back and will win in a thrilling series 4-3.

Warriors vs Jazz: Although the upstart Jazz took care of the Clippers, seems like everyone takes care of the Clippers in the Playoffs. Warriors will sweep the Jazz 4-0.

Warriors vs Spurs: Warriors will be well rested while the Spurs come off of a hard fought 7 game series with the Rockets. Both defenses are great but the Warriors offense will trump the Spurs offense.

Finals

Warriors vs Cavs:

The Warriors will not forget what happened last year when they were up 3-1 in the Finals and LeBron willed his Cavs to a tremendous comeback win. There were a lot of well chronicled events leading to the Cavs championship but no excuses will be used. The Cavs won and they deserved the trophy.

Because of what happened last year, the Warriors will be extra motivated. Even without their leader, Steve Kerr, the players know Kerr’s system so well, they will continue to thrive and dominate. The other big factor is Kevin Durant. KD left the Thunder in search of a team that he could have fun playing for and with players that he could have fun playing with. This season has panned out very well for KD and the Warriors as they lead the league with the most wins during the regular season for three consecutive years.

The Warriors lost Durant for 6 weeks during the last part of the regular season but the team adjusted very nicely and won 13 straight games without him. This actually made the team stronger as the bench got extra work and responded fabulously. The Warriors’ theme is “Strength in Numbers”. Their bench is the strongest in the NBA which will be the difference in this year’s Finals. The addition of JaVale McGee and his “vertical spacing” on both ends will result in a plus points during his time on the court. I also believe that the addition of Matt Barnes will have a positive impact. He is another “enforcer” type player that the Warriors need when Draymond is resting. Thank you, Sacramento Kings for trading Boogie Cousins to the Pelicans which lead to the Kings having to drop Barnes from their roster.

The Cavs improved their team, also. There is no team in the East that can challenge them. As I said, the Celtics, can give them a good series as they are a good defensive team. However, LeBron will ultimately take over that series putting them into the Finals. The Cavs are also deep with their roster with any one of LeBron, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Korver, JR Smith (if he is able to come back from his thumb injury), Channing Frye, Mo Williams, or Deron Williams being able to “go off” and have great games.

LeBron will be ready as he always does come playoffs. And, he will have his team ready as he always does come playoffs.

Having said that, the Warriors bench strength and defense will be the difference and hold the Cavs in check at the critical times to take a hard fought and memorable Finals series 4-3.

The Purging of Trent Baalke Picks In Full Throttle

posted in: Football | 25

The new ShanaLynch regime wasted little time in adding their kind of players to the Niner roster via Free Agency and the Draft to make-over the team. They have a definite strategy and long term plan to turn this franchise around for the better. With the hiring of Robert Selah as the Defensive Coordinator, the mission is to create and develop a defense similar to the very successful Seattle Seahawks. Fast, versatile, tough, and instinctive players will thrive under the Saleh defense. Shanahan will act as both Offensive Coordinator and Head Coach. He will look for players that allow him to pound the rock and run the ball with power and speed. His philosophy is that a successful running game will lead to an equally effective passing game. As he grew up in the Bill Walsh era and studied under his Dad, his philosophy is no surprise.

Let’s take a look at what ShanaLynch have already done.

In Free Agency:

DT Earl Mitchell
CB K’Waun Williams

CB Don Jones

LB Malcolm Smith

LB Brock Coyle
LB Dekoda Watson

LB Jayson DiManche

QB Brian Hoyer

QB Matt Barkley
FB Kyle Juszczyk

RB Tim Hightower

RB Kapri Bibbs (trade with Broncos)
WR DeAndre Carter

WR Pierre Garcon
WR Marquise Goodwin

WR Aldrick Robinson
TE Logan Paulsen

C Jeremy Zuttah (trade with the Ravens)

G Brandon Fusco (Visiting the Niners on 5/1 with expectations of signing)
K Robbie Gould

 

In the 2017 NFL Draft with how they fit into the ShanaLynch system:

 

DE Soloman Thomas – Tough, fast and versatile. Goal is to play like Michael Bennett of the Seahawks.

LB Reuben Foster – Tough, fast and versatile. Goal is to play like Patrick Willis or Booby Wagner of the Seahawks.

CB Ahkello Witherspoon – Tall, fast and athletic. Goal is to be like Richard Sherman of the Seahawks.

QB C.J. Beathard – Tough, smart, accurate passer and leader. Developmental QB with the goal is to be like Kirk Cousins.

RB Joe Williams – Tough runner. Carlos Hyde is entering last year of contract and has been injury prone.

TE George Kittle – Tough blocker, good hands, runs good routes and fast. Also can play fullback.

WR Trent Taylor – Tough, fast, runs great routes, and has great hands. Also can return punts. Goal is to be like Julian Edelman of the Patriots.

DT D.J. Jones – Stout run stopper and will rotate with Earl Mitchell and Quinton Dial.

DE/OLB Pita Taumeopenu – Fast edge rusher with not much bulk but has quick speed to get around the edge. I see him replacing Ahmad Brooks or Eli Harold.

DB Adrian Colbert – Not much experience so will be a developmental project. Big Ronnie Lott type hitter who could play both CB and Safety.

 

Counting both Free Agency and the Draft, ShanaLynch have brought in 13 Defensive players and 17 Offensive players for a total of 30. I expect most of these 30 players to make the 53 man roster which translates into a more than 50% turn-over in their first year. That is eye opening.

It is way too early to evaluate these signings and picks but I have a strong feeling that ShanaLynch have set a solid foundation. Their coaching staff will develop sound players and some can even become impact players.

My belief is that success in the NFL is dictated mostly by a sound and consistent system. Look at the Patriots. Most of their players are/were not highly rated draft prospects. But they are coached to know their roles and thus, they play their roles very effectively. If ShanaLynch can stay true to their philosophy and system, they can begin competing again with the goal of being like the Patriots.

 

Steve Kerr – The Coach, the Friend, the Diplomat, the Man

posted in: Basketball | 2

Since Steve Kerr was hired by Golden State before the 2015 season, he has coached his team to an astonishing regular season record of 207 wins and 39 losses (.841 winning percentage). His Playoff record has been equally impressive… 35 wins and 14 losses (.714 winning percentage) with one world championship trophy in 2015.

What is behind his tremendous success are multiple factors including a front office who have developed a culture of winning with a support infrastructure up and down the organization. The Golden State Warriors are a business whose employees are all part of the Strength in Numbers family. From owners Joseph Lacob and Peter Gruber to COO Rick Welts to GM Bob Myers to Coach Steve Kerr, the team has been built with the foundation of truly unselfish team players… Great players who are in the business for individual success and stats are quickly ruled out.

It is one thing to put a great roster together. It takes a special coach to get the roster to play together as a team on a consistent basis. Steve has done this and continues to spread his teachings through his assistant coaches. Before the 2016 season, he had a back surgery and suffered major complications including leaked spinal fluids which has caused Steve to suffer debilitating neck pains and migrane headaches. He missed the first 43 games of the 2016 season due to the pain he suffered. Because he had set the foundation of his coaching philosophy, his assistant, Luke Walton, took over head coaching duties during Steve’s absence and lead the team to an astounding 39-4 record winning the first 24 games of the season.  Unfortunately, these symptoms have flared up again and Steve was not able to coach the last two games of the first round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers. As Luke Walton left the team last year to coach the LA Lakers, the Warriors hired Mike Brown who has had a brilliant NBA coaching career including being named coach of the year in the 2008-2009 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mike coached the last two games while Steve was out and won both games in Portland to close out the series by winning in a 4-0 sweep. And, of course, Mike’s coaching philosophy is very similar to Steve’s.

Steve’s coaching style is not limited to spreading his philosophy to his assistant coaches. It applies equally to his players. A case in point is when one of their stars, Kevin Durant, went down with a knee injury in late February. The Warriors went 7-5 while adjusting to playing without KD. But, when they adjusted, the Warriors won 15 of the last 16 games of the season and won the first 3 games of the Portland playoff series without Durant. They also played without two other key players, Matt Barnes and Shawn Livingston during the Portland series but still swept them.

One of Steve’s wonderful traits is his ability to relate to his players as both a friend and a father figure. He is tough when he needs to be and isn’t afraid to yell at his star players including Steph Curry or Draymond Green in a team setting. He has broken more than one clip-board on the sidelines when the Warriors get careless with the ball or their defensive play is below his standard. Other than these tense situations, Steve instills a sense of “fun” in the locker room, on the court, and off the court. He praises his players both as athletes and as wonderful people off the courts.

As a diplomat, Steve excels. He has been surrounded by Hall of Fame coaches throughout his entire basketball career from Lute Olson at the University of Arizona, to Phil Jackson in Chicago, and to Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. When Steve’s father, Malcom Kerr was assassinated in Beirut, Lebanon in 1984, Lute Olson and his wife took Steve into their home to provide comfort and support. Malcom was serving as the President of the American University of Beirut at the time of his death and was a victim of a terrorist action. This tragedy in Steve’s life has lead to the formation of Steve’s views on world unrest and other political issues. Phil Jackson taught him how to win and Popovich taught him the meaning of team play. What life has taught Steve is that no matter the circumstance, deal with it diplomatically. He can’t play all of his players and give them the minutes that they want, so he is very upfront about where every player stands. Each player knows his role on the team. He is complimentary of all players and coaches in the league because he realizes that they are all in the pool of players and coaches that he may work with in the future. He jokes and laughs with the referees during the games and gets T’d up by them when he disagrees with their calls. Steve is always cordial with the press as this is a highly visible sport and he wants to portray the classiness of this organization.

Steve is the Man. He is respected by his players, his organization, his peers, and other players throughout the league. After the Warriors won Game 3 of the Portland series which Steve couldn’t coach due to his migrane illness, Steph Curry clung tightly to the game ball while being interviewed as he wanted to present Steve with the game ball.

In a very classy move, LeBron James broadcasted a video expressing concern over Steve’s health and wished him the very best to recover quickly and get back on the sidelines.

Steve Kerr is a great coach but more importantly, he is a very classy guy and loved by everyone. Wishing Steve all the best and hope that he does conquer the pain that he has had to endure for the last two years!!!

Niners Pick Christian McCaffrey with 1st Pick

posted in: Football | 4

I present the case for the Niners to pick Christian McCaffrey with their first pick regardless of whether it is at #2 overall or a lower 1st round pick if they are able to trade down. In my previous mocks, I had wanted them to pick the best available LB with Haason Reddick being my choice. After thinking about the Niners offense, what they have done during the off-season, and who they currently have, McCaffrey would be a perfect fit for Shanahan’s offense.

McCaffrey has special talents that nobody else in the draft has. His ability to run with speed, shiftiness, and power present unique problems for the defense. On top of that, he has great hands which will allow Shanahan to use him as a slot receiver. He’d be brilliant for screen passes out of the back field, also. Lastly, he is very skilled as a punt returner. I wouldn’t use him on kick-off returns as that is the most dangerous play in football. Thus, with his versatility, Shanahan can draw up plays that present matchup nightmares for the defense.

With the signing of bruising FB Kyle Zuszczyk and our own RB Carlos Hyde, we may have something very special on offense. The signing of WR Pierre Garcon and WR Marquise Goodwin were much needed in a weak receiving core that one can argue may have been the worst in the NFL last year.

If the Niners aren’t able to trade down and they still pick McCaffrey at #2 overall, the “experts” will say that it is not a good “value” pick. By definition, value means how valuable can a player be for the team throughout the season and career with that team. If McCaffrey can make a positive impact on the Niners, does it really matter when he was picked in the draft?

Additionally, I think that Lynch/Shanahan are doing a very smart thing by letting teams know of their interests in QB Michell Trubisky and RB Leonard Fournette. They may indeed have real interests in these talented players, but they may also be using them as a smoke-screen to entice teams to move up to the Niners overall #2 pick. I think the overall success of this year’s draft class for the Niners will be dependent upon being able to trade down and get additional picks. The draft is fairly deep in LB’s, CB’s, Safeties, and WR’s… all positions of need for the Niners. In term of the QB, the Niners should go with Brian Hoyer this year, then acquire Kirk Cousins in free agency next year. Additionally, they will have plenty of draft picks next year so I’d like to see them package picks and/or players to go after USC QB Sam Darnold to be their future.

Thus, let’s pick McCaffrey and begin a new special era for the Niners.

SF Giants Left Field is Not Right

posted in: Baseball | 0

During the off season, the Giants did well to sign a bonafide closer in Mark Melancon. Their bull pen was their most glaring weakness throughout the 2016 season. This was capped with a blown 9th inning 5-2 lead to the Cubs in the 4th game of the NLDS. Matt Moore had thrown a masterpiece for 8 innings holding the Cubs to 2 hits with 10 strikeouts. The bull pen meltdown allowing the Cubs to score 4 runs in the 9th was a microcosm of their entire season. With Johnny Cueto scheduled to pitch the final game of the series, Giant fans had high hopes that they could advance to the World Series again keeping their every-other-year title chances intact. This was before the fateful 9th inning meltdown.

The 2017 season, although very early, is revealing another flaw. The Giants plan to platoon Jarrett Parker and Chris Marerro in Left Field has not worked out. Parker made a great catch but crashed his shoulder into the wall and broke his collar bone. He will be out for 2-3 months. Marerro is batting .133 and Aaron Hill hasn’t fared much better.

I’m sure that Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans are looking at all options. If things don’t improve in the next few weeks, I’m thinking that they will have to make some moves. Two options that I favor are:

  • Trade for Ryan Braun. Braun will achieve 10-and-5 rights on May 24, thus allowing him full veto power over any trade (10 years in the Bigs and 5 years on the same team). The Brewers may feel some sense of urgency to make a trade before May 24 if they are in re-build mode. This makes sense for two reasons. Braun can fill the gap in Left and has power. The other reason is that the Dodgers may make a play on him as their record against left-handed pitchers is atrocious. They are also looking for a right-handed power bat.
  • Bring up Christian Arroyo and play him at 3rd base, then move Eduardo Nunez to Left Field. Arroyo is batting .479 and is the Giant’s top prospect. During his limited time in the Bigs, he has shown an ability to square up the ball and hit line drives. Nunez has plenty of speed to cover the left field but he has limitations as he is trained as an infielder. Please keep in mind that this is a temporary solution until Mac Williamson’s quad get healed. I’m thinking that this could very well take 2 months as he’ll need a month of minor league play to get back into the groove. I like the Arroyo and Nunez moves as both are hitti

I’m sure Sabean and Evans are looking at other options but hoping that they make Left Field right.