Sunday, 10 June 2012

2012 NBA Finals

Last night not only gave the Thunder their opponents in this year’s NBA Finals, it also gave us one of the best Game 7’s ever. Miami and Boston slugged it out for 27 quarters but 28 was just one too many for the experienced Boston Celtics squad.

LeBron James showed what he is really capable of
Miami took a 2-0 series lead and it all seemed comfortable but most notably Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were not finished, winning the next 3 games taking a 3-2 series lead and looking to close out the Heat in Boston. Miami and LeBron James however were not finished either. In Game 6 LeBron put up numbers that had only been done once before in a play-off game, this was by none other than Wilt Chamberlain. LeBron posted 45 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists, a game like this only deserved a game 7 to finally decide such a brilliant series.

The Eastern Conference Finals Champions for 2012 would be decided in Miami. Boston came straight out the gate taking an early lead with Rondo piling up the assists; he had 10 by the half. Shane Battier was doing his best to give some help to James and Wade. He hit three 3’s early to keep Miami in touching distance as they had problems turning over the ball.

Miami’s missing link however was going to really show his worth when it was needed. Chris Bosh who had missed some games with an abdominal injury really came back on the scene hitting a career best three 3 pointers on his way to 19 points and 8 rebounds.

It was all tied up at 73 after 3 quarters and it all came down to the final 12 minutes of the 2012 Eastern Conference playoffs. These final 12 minutes would prove too much for Boston. James, Wade and Bosh scored all 28 for the Heat in the 4ht quarter. James hit a massive 3 from way downtown with the shot clock running out that seemed to deflate the Celtics and prove somewhat of a dagger. Wade then hit an almost impossible shot after he was hit, on one foot fading away, he would make the free-throw and this would really stick the knife into the heart of the Celtics. The game petered out into a 101-88 win for the Heat as they advance.

It may be the last time we see Boston’s big three play together and Doc Rivers pulled them out of the game with under a minute to go so they could receive a standing ovation from the fans in South Beach.
Miami it is who go to the finals with another big three of Durant, Westbrook and Harden waiting for them in Oklahoma on Tuesday night. Much has been said about James’ play when he is needed most but he certainly showed he can do it when his season is on the line. Will he take the final step that has previously eluded him and claim his first championship, or will Kevin Durant pick up his on the first time of asking. Be it 4, 5, 6, or 7 games we will have a winner and I am sure the 2012 NBA Finals will not disappoint

Sunday, 13 May 2012

2012 NBA Playoffs First Round

With one game left in the first round of this year’s playoffs, there has been one upset. This was the 76ers. The 8th seed in the East beating the 1st seed Chicago Bulls. They won the series 4-2 after former MVP and Bulls talisman Derrick Rose tore the ACL in his left knee.

Kenneth Faried and Pau Gasol go up for a rebound
I predicted that the Nuggets would overcome the Lakers, as of last night I still thought that they would but a 96-87 victory for LA made sure they would go on to face Oklahoma City who have had the longest rest of all in the West Semis.

Miami got through their series against the New York Knicks in 5 games after the Knicks won their first playoff game in 11 years. An average of 28 points a game from LeBron James and 21 from Dwyane Wade was enough to see of the Knicks who will be looking to win at least 4 playoff games next year.
Indiana won their first round series against a very jaded discombobulated Orlando Magic team with ease. 4 games to 1 it ended up, Indiana looked very strong and they will prove more than a match for the Big Three starting tonight in Florida.

Boston took a 1 nil lead last night against Phillie after Rajon Rondo continued his incredible season by recording another triple-double. San Antonio are still awaiting their second round opponents, but they will find out tonight as the LA Clippers go to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies and Marc Gasol in what promises to be a brilliant Game 7.

Aside from the Playoffs the 2012 MVP was given to LeBron James for the third time in four seasons. LeBron reminded everybody that he is the best player in the league through the 66 regular season games where he averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists and leading Miami to the 2nd seed in the East with 46 wins. The only thing he needs now to really prove the masses wrong and write his name into the Hall of Fame is a championship ring come June 26th.

Can he and Dwyane Wade overcome three more squads to get what they were brought together to do?

Saturday, 28 April 2012

2012 NBA Playoffs

Here we are then, after a shortened season due to the Lockout, the 2012 NBA Playoffs are upon us. The top seeds in each Conference remain the same as last year, with Chicago and San Antonio topping the rest and setting up matchups with Phillie and Utah respectively. Meanwhile outside the playoffs the Toronto Raptors finished with a record of 23-43 which is an improvement on last year.

Kevin Durant took the scoring title for the third season in a row after passing Kobe Bryant near the end of the season. He led his Oklahoma City team to 2nd in the West and a match up with the defending champs the Dallas Mavericks. With another year of experience behind them it the Thunder should advance to the finals and stop the Mavs at the first hurdle.

Jeremy Lin and LeBron James
Last year’s losing finalist and most people’s tip for this year the Heat have first round series against the New York Knicks. The Knicks were languishing outside the playoff spots until Stanford graduate Jeremy Lin exploded on to the NBA scene and won the heart of the world. Game 1 tips off tonight in Miami. LeBron James, the front runner for this year’s MVP will be looking to add a ring to his multiple MVP trophies and this year seems as likely as any.

LA was the place of revolution this year. The Clippers and Lakers both made the playoffs and the Clipper were leading the Lakers until Kobe Bryant decided that he was having none of it gave his Lakers the 3rd seed and a series against the Denver, with the Clippers picking up the 5th albeit only 1 game behind their rivals.

Memphis a team who surprised many this time last year finished the season string over taking the Clippers and drawing level with the Lakers with 41 wins. Rudy Gay was their catalyst putting in 19 PPG; he did however have a deep supporting cast in Marc Gasol, OJ Mayo, Z-Bo and floor general Mike Conley. The Grizz will be looking to cause major problems in the West play-offs stating Sunday night against the Clippers.

After months of upset in Orlando with Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy the Pacers will be looking to knock off a jaded Magic team as quickly as possible. The Pacers picked up the 3rd seed, very quietly going about their business, while the 4th and 5th seeds Boston and Atlanta may be looking at the prospect of a 7 game series because I can see very little difference between them, Rajon Rondo will decide whether the C’s advance or go out in the first round this year.

My prediction for the 1st round will bring progression for the; Bulls, Heat, Pacers and Celtics. While over in the West, The Spurs, Thunder and Clippers will advance and I fancy the Nuggets to beat the Lakers in 6.

LeBron James will be looking to finally get himself a ring, His quest is laid out in front of him and it all begins tonight in South Beach.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Sam Warren Wins At Brands Hatch

My Dad sponsors Yamaha SuperSport rider Sam Warren and he won the first race of the season over the bank holiday weekend. My Dad asked me to write a report for Sam’s website but he received an official Press Release so mine was unfortunately not used. Here it is anyway. Enjoy.


The start of the 2012 season could not have gone any better for Sam as he came out victorious from the first meet of the season at Brands Hatch.

After recording the fastest time in Practice by over half a second, he went on to Qualify 4th with a time of 43.317 for the meetings 2 races. After finishing second in the Sprint race behind fellow Yamaha rider Jack Kennedy, Sam came up with the goods in the feature race to take the win and the 25 Points.

After a small rain shower before the start of the race the riders had to take their chances on which tyre would perform best, Sam and the Seton Tuning team opted to go for an Intermediate rear, where others around him went for wet and dry tyres. With Ben Wilson out in front in the early goings Sam outbreaked Christian Iddon going into the Paddock Hill bend to take second position. With the gap to the front standing at 1.8 seconds Sam did not waste any time in catching the bright green Kawasaki as he was on the back of Wilson within three laps.

With Sam applying the pressure Wilson was made to pay for his earlier charge as his tyres could not get the grip he needed. On the exit of Clearways Sam took his opportunity to take the lead. He did not let up from there though and continued to bang in good lap times.

On lap 11 after Luke Jones had lost the front at the same time as another accident somewhere else on the track the Red Flag was waved and Sam took the win by almost a second and a half ahead of Ben Wilson.
The long Easter weekend started out brilliantly for Sam as he posted a lap time of 46.8 seconds in Free Practice with his final lap of the session showing that he had not missed a beat since his brilliant Podium in the Final Round at Brands last year.

In the qualifying session only 2 tenths separated the top 5 as they all vied for the first pole of the season. Billy McConnell took it with a 47.176 with Sam in 4th 0.14 seconds back of the Triumph.

The Sprint race on Sunday was won by Jack Kennedy on the Mar Train Yamaha and only 0.708 seconds behind him was the number 70 of Sam who was having a bank holiday weekend to remember. It would get better though on a miserable Easter Monday when Sam would leave Kent top of the 2012 Motopoint British Supersport Championship Protected by Datatag standings with 35 points ahead of Jack Kennedy (22.5), Ben Wilson (20) and Christian Iddon (19.5).

After a brilliant start to the 2012 season Sam will be looking to carry it on next weekend at Thruxton.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Same Old England?

After watching a new look England against Holland last night, I believe there are a few problems that need to be addressed aside from the obvious ones of a new manager and permanent captain.

Although it was a spirited England performance, there were only a couple of positives to take from the match. Number one is that Scott Parker seems the perfect fit for captain; he will keep the team grounded and will always give 110%. The second is that Daniel Sturridge injected some much needed flair and excitement into a workman-like England side. The third is that both full-backs looked very strong both Baines and Richards who are both relatively new to the full international scene had good games and they could be nailed on for the next 5 or so years, especially with Ashley Cole advancing in years.
Parker Really Stepped Up To The Plate
The problem of England strikers will always be around unless they can score at least one every game. Aside from Wayne Rooney, not one forward of English nationality will scare opponents. People like Darren Bent, Jermaine Defoe and Andy Carroll are good enough in the Premier League were only a handful of teams are decent. With the European Championships coming up were much will be expected of England but it will probably be met with disappointment yet again (I would however like to be pleasantly surprised). England will not have enough to get past Cristiano Ronaldo, Spain, Germany or Holland and therefore will not progress far enough to please fans.

Only four players deserve a mention in a positive light , this is not good for an England team that will always be under pressure to succeed, but sadly may never do that. Spain, Holland and Germany are in a completely different league. With England playing people like Gareth Barry, Chris Smalling and Danny Welbeck there is an obvious need for higher quality players. Granted it was a friendly and Wayne Rooney is out of the picture for a while, but Barry has been a main stay for a couple of years now. Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder are clearly world –class players and once Robben decided to make something happen he won the game for the Dutch. The Spanish are easily the best team in the world and can put out 11 players who will man to man beat England in every position. With the Germans they do not have the star quality of the Dutch and Spain but have can come together and work around players like Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Schweinsteiger. England are just not up to scratch.

I could just be being pessimistic but I am just not pleased with how this England team is looking at the moment. The Ox, Sturridge and Wilshere will provide a backbone for the future, but will England step up to the challenge?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

2012 NBA Allstar Game

So the 2012 NBA Allstar weekend is approaching us. This will give teams a few days to set themselves end of season goals and more importantly most players a few nights of well earned rest. I realise I have not written a blog post in a long time, even though I have said before that I would try and post more regularly. Here is a post nonetheless.

Where the 2012 Allstar Game will be held
Miami (23-7) were tipped by many to go one step further than last year and win the Championship and although they have had a few minor blips and numerous injuries they are half a game back of the Bulls (24-7) a top the East. LeBron James is on the way to what could be another MVP trophy but this time he looks like taking his team to glory as well. The aging Celtics seem to have run out of steam and sit 7th in the East, although they are still on course to make the play-offs they have had a very back and forth season and their age is starting to show. Languishing nearer the bottom of the East are the Raptors (those of you who have read these before will know that is who I support) and with a pretty poor record of 9-22 they have looked much improved since the addition of new head coach Dwane Casey. Finally in the East a Charlotte side that nobody predicted to do well are still turning out despite having lost 16 straight and have only picked up 3 wins along the way.

Over in the Western Conference the OKC Thunder (22-7) is leading the pack into the Allstar break. While below them there has been a lot of jockeying for position. The San Antonio Spurs (21-9) are on a 9 game winning streak and have got themselves up to 2nd. Last year’s Champions Dallas (19-11) are in 4th place and are splitting the two L.A sides with the upstart Clippers in 3rd and Kobe’s unpredictable Lakers’ 2 spots below. Although they are only 5 games back of the number 1 seed, this Lakers’ side have not been anywhere near that of the last few years. As before they could get help from other players it seems this year they are 100% relying on Bryant to get the W’s. Veteran PG 2 time MVP, Allstar, future hall of famer Steve Nash has been having another brilliant season. Leading the league in assists and the only man averaging above 10 has been selected for the Allstar game as a reserve. Although many disputed this due to Phoenix’s poor record 12-18 there is no doubt in my mind that he deserves to be on that team this year.

From this position I predict that Miami will win the Championship overcoming Oklahoma City in the Finals. It was only a matter of time until LeBron won a ring and only a shorter matter of time that it would be going with him to South Beach.

I suppose I should write about the Allstar Game as that is the title of the post. Rose, Wade, Antony, James and Howard will start for the East. They are best 5 players of their positions in the East so it only makes sense. For the West, Paul, Bryant, Durant, Griffin and Bynum will look to try to put on a show in Orlando. Many people could have probably predicted those 10 players would be starting the game when the ballots first opened up. With Paul and Griffin representing the Clippers Lob City will be moving to Florida on 26th February. The West came out on top 148-143 with Kobe Bryant taking the MVP for the night.
In the other events on Allstar Weekend, James Jones will be looking to defend his 3 point title against Kevin Love and Joe Johnson most notably. Blake Griffin will not be coming back for another go at the Slam Dunk challenge, instead T-Wolves rookie Derrick Williams, Pacers Paul George, New York rookie Iman Shumpert and Rockets forward Chase Budinger will be looking to light up the Amway Centre.

It promises to be a brilliant weekend and run in to the play offs that could end up anywhere. There will be another post after the Allstar game to round up the ins and outs.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Where Amazing Happened

Chris Paul signed for the Clippers
So at long last the start of 2011-2012 NBA Season is creeping into sight. At times through the early autumn it looked like there was not going to be a season at all, due to the NBA Lockout. During the lockout, teams could not trade, sign players, and they could not access NBA team facilities, trainers or staff. Some players signed contracts to play in other countries, mostly in Europe and Asia including Deron Williams and San Antonio Point Guard Tony Parker, both have since returned to their teams. The lockout officially ended on December 8 and the pre-season tipped off on December 16. Due to the Lockout causing some of the season to be cancelled, teams will now play 48 conference games and 18 non-conference games in a 66-game schedule. The season will begin on Christmas Day.

Although a little bit delayed, the trade and free agent frenzy did not disappoint. Rumours of Dwight Howard to the Lakers were quelled. Portland talisman Brandon Roy retiring early due to injuries. Trade rumours of Chris Paul heading to both LA teams, eventually he was traded to the Clippers with two future second round picks, with Guard Eric Gordon, forward Al-Farouq Aminu, Center Chris Kaman and a first-round draft choice going to New Orleans. Richard Hamilton signing for the Bulls. The Lakers lost Lamar Odom to Dallas who also signed Vince Carter. The Lakers signed Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts. And the Raptors signed nobody of any use.

Christmas Day will see a number of blockbuster games begin the season. A rematch of the 2011 Finals as Miami faces Dallas. East number 1 seed from 2011 The Bulls visit the Lakers. And the Knicks with new addition Tyson Chandler host Boston at Madison Square Garden. The late game sees Golden State face the rejuvenated Clippers squad with Paul, Billups and Griffin at the helm.

An interesting pre-season exhibition game took place last night between the Clippers and Lakers. A resounding 114-95 win for the Clippers shows that the Lakers may not have bragging rights in Los Angeles come April 28 when the Play-offs start. The Raptors will have a very good chance of getting the number one draft pick this year. And I believe whoever wins the East will take the Championship, Miami or Chicago.
Is a change of power coming in LA? Will the Heat get to the Finals again? Can Dallas go back-to-back? Or will the veterans of Boston or San Antonio give it one last go? Answers to all these questions will start to be discovered on 25th December.

Friday, 21 October 2011

ESPN's NBA Rankings Part 2

Wade and James in a Miami Heat game

Two-time reigning scoring champion Kevin Durant was ranked at #6 with a rating of 9.62. Durant can be a little aggrieved with this spot due to his crazy scoring ability and out-right skill, fair enough the guy might not be able to play defense as well as Bryant but he isn't in the team on his defensive merits. People may argue that Durant deserves the #1 spot or at least #2 but for now he will have to make do with #6, maybe another scoring title can get him to the heady heights of #5 next time.

At #5 is a player many though would be occupying the #2 or #3 slot, me included. 2011 NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki took his Dallas team all the way to a championship last year with an above average backing crew. Nowitzki swept the Lakers, beat Durant and his team of upstarts, then shut down Miami's big three (2 of which we are yet to see). If this doesn't give reason for a player to be at #2 at least then I am not entirely sure what does. He averaged 23 PPG at over 50% shooting and has an unstoppable one-legged fade-away.

#4 is an awful choice, don't get me wrong Chris Paul is a premier player but he is not better than the 3 maybe 4 previous players mentioned. When Paul is healthy he can win games single-handedly but the players previously can do that and with more success. Paul has never made the Conference Finals and has always had a relatively good team to do it with. His argument for 4th cannot be sustained unless the Hornets make the West Finals at a minimum.

The remaining 3 players could all have possibly tied for first place. Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and LeBron James. Wade was ranked 3rd with a rating of 9.72. There can be no argument to say that these 3 players are not the 3 most dominant players in the NBA. People will say, Howard cannot shoot FT's, Wade cannot shoot the 3 as well as many would like and of course LeBron James doesn't turn up in the 4th Quarter (or any derivative of that) but that does not take away the fact that all average over 22 PPG and all above 5 PG in another category with LeBron averaging 26, 7 and 7.

James is a player who received a lot of hate for moving to Miami and people love to hate him, but love him or hate him he is the best player in the league and will be for the next 3-4 years.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

ESPN's NBA Rankings Part 1

ESPN asked 91 experts to rate each player on a 0-to-10 scale, in terms of the current quality of each player and over the past month they have been releasing the results from 500-1.

Unfortunately bringing up the rear in 500th place was PF Lovay Allen who was drafted in this years draft at a fairly respectable 50 by the 76ers. Allen was given a dreadful rating of 1.22/10 which must be close to my rating. The worrying thing as a Raptors fan was that 3 players were ranked in the 401-500 bracket with our highest ranked player Andrea Bargnani coming in at 81, which is harsh in my opinion.

On October 7th the rankings broke into the Top 50 and this is when it started becoming contentious. One of my biggest issues with these early Top 50 rankings was that Steph Curry was ranked 3, yes a whole 3 places above his Golden State team-mate Monta Ellis. Ellis averages more points, rebounds and assists than Curry and the big argument as to why Ellis was ranked so low was his FG% which is only .29 worse than Curry. Ellis can change and win games on his own but I'm not sure I could say the same about Curry.
Kobe Bryant

The main reason I am writing this is to talk about the Top 10, 15 players and their spots.

Blake Griffin came in at #10 he was undoubtedly the Rookie of the Year but to place him higher than Carmelo Anthony #12 and Amare Stoudemire #13 is purely due to him being over-hyped. He is not better than either of them, full stop.

Number 14, Steve Nash, shoe-in Hall of Famer, one of the best PG's ever ranked 5 spots lower than Deron Williams who has been majorly over-rated in my opinion. Nash lead the league in assists, made 90% of his FT's and lead his pretty awful Suns 6 games away from the West playoffs, on the flip-side Williams was traded to New Jersey from Utah both of whose teams finished with a worse record and with arguably better rosters.

Number 8 was a brilliant choice. Derrick Rose, reigning MVP due to his performance last season, yet after thinking the 7 players ahead of him are all better than him and the 492 players behind him are worse. After taking the Bulls to the East Finals and averaging 25 PPG and 7.7 APG he deserved MVP, he may not win it again but he will not be seen as the 8th best player in the league for much longer.

Wherever Kobe Bryant was ranked unless it was the #1 slot, there would be controversy. If you haven't guessed by now he came in a #7. Maybe he deserved #6 but anything higher wouldn't be correct. On the simple logic that the players ahead of him are better. If this were any season before this up until about 7-8 years ago he would have been 1,2,3 or 4 but he is ageing and players like Rose and #6 Kevin Durant are peaking. There is no doubt that he is an amazing player who has achieved amazing feats over his career and he will be remembered for winning Championships and not being ranked 7th on ESPN's Rankings.

The remaining players which I have written about will be posted on Friday.

Monday, 8 August 2011

England Selection Problems

Selections for international friendlies often spark headaches amongst puzzled football fans. With England's friendly with the world's 2nd best team, Holland on Wednesday night, Mr. Capello issued his squad.

First of all without even getting into the argument of what player should be picked and why and vice-versa, why oh why did the FA decide that the best date for a friendly was 3 days before the start of the Premier League season. It is beyond ridiculous and it will give managers such as Arsene Wenger and Sir. Alex all the more reason to impose minute limits on players and therefore making a mockery of the game.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the inclusion of Manchester United youngster Danny Welbeck, although he did play well in patches for Sunderland last season he is nowhere near England quality. If Capello was looking to include a young striker then he should have looked no further than Daniel Sturridge who was a revelation at Bolton during the back-end of last season, scoring 8 goals in 12 games. Another surprise was that Tottenham full-back Kyle Walker was included as he has only appeared 3 times for Spurs. Although both Walker and Welbeck are promising young players Holland coach Bert van Marwijk has more quality players at his disposal, for example Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder. He has included young Georginio Wijnaldum of , Feyenoord who could win his first cap, I have bought him on every single Football Manager game since 2006 and he is brilliant not to say that is anything to go by.

Danny Welbeck in action for the Under 21's
Capello's reign as England manager has not been the smoothest at all. Since last summer when England failed and he selected Emile Heskey over Darren Bent many fans have been calling for his head. A player whose head has been called for many a time, would have been in my squad had I been England manager. Joey Barton, amid all his history and current contract issues last season he was brilliant and more than earned his spot ahead of players who had poor season like Gareth Barry and Michael Carrick. Barton has only played once for England and this should have been his second cap. Another player who has not been recognised by Capello is Kevin Nolan now of West Ham. Having scored 30 goals in the last 2 seasons from midfield, surely he would have been a shoe in to gain his 1st cap, but the likes of Barry and Carrick were selected. Capello branded Barton 'too dangerous', it is obvious why he made those comments but Barton seems (note I used the word 'seems' as I don't want to tempt fate) to have moved on and matured over the last season, maybe he could give lessons to a certain Mr. Balotelli.

As for players being removed from squads and having minute caps, this friendly will have more than any other and even then, there are usually mass substituions to please each manager. Arsene Wenger has said that Jack Wilshere 'can be picked but he will not play', this is understandable as Wilshere picked up a knock against DC United in pre-season, this begs the question, why select him? Barton or Nolan amongst others could have been picked and featured in the game. As for Manchester United players of which there are 4 and 3 probable starters, Sir Alex Ferguson will not allow Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Young to play the full game, they will be hauled off among many others, like John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.

After the European Championships in 2012 another selection will have to be made, that of a new manager. Personally I believe Stuart Pearce has done a good job with the Under 21's and deserves a chance, the usual names will be thrown in like, Harry Redknapp and Steve Bruce but Pearce will remain a front runner in my opinion. As for Wednesday only time will tell how England will fare against a side of Holland's quality.