NBA Conference Finals feature compelling matchups

Stephen Curry and the top seeded Golden State Warriors now know their opponent in the Western Conference Finals. Now the MVP must play at a high level to get his team to the NBA Finals.

Stephen Curry and the top seeded Golden State Warriors now know their opponent in the Western Conference Finals. Now the MVP must play at a high level to get his team to the NBA Finals.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The Western Conference finals are now set as the Golden State Warriors will host the Houston Rockets after a convincing game 7 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday afternoon. The Eastern Conference championship will also feature the top 2 seeds in the conference as the Atlanta Hawks will host the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Curry received his MVP reward a couple weeks ago, now he hopes to add a ring to his trophy.

Curry received his MVP reward a few weeks ago, now he hopes to add a ring to his trophy.

This postseason could conclude with history being made as 2 of the remaining teams have never won an NBA title. The Warriors only NBA championship came in 1974-75 with a team featuring Hall of Fame players Rick Barry and a rookie at the time Jamaal Wilkes. This Warriors team hopes to continue the momentum they created in defeating a tough Memphis Grizzlies team. Stephen Curry, fresh off of winning NBA MVP this year, will go head-to-head with the runner-up to the MVP award in James Harden.

Dwight Howard (l) and James Harden (r) are hoping to return to the NBA Finals together after having suffered separate defeats on the biggest stage.

Dwight Howard (l) and James Harden (r) are hoping to return to the NBA Finals together after having suffered separate defeats on the biggest stage.

The Rockets are hoping to build on their own momentum after becoming just the 9th team to overcome a 3 – 1 deficit and win the series. Harden and Dwight Howard are hoping to return to the NBA Finals stage together where they were both on the losing side in their own separate championship appearances. The Rockets won back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995 with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon leading the way.

If the Hawks are to advance, they must continue to receive good production from their starters, (l - r) Paul Milsap, Al Horford, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, and Jeff Teague (not pictured).

If the Hawks are to advance, they must continue to receive good production from their starters, (l – r) Paul Milsap, Al Horford, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, and Jeff Teague (not pictured).

The Atlanta Hawks are also looking to achieve an historic end to their season as the franchise searches for its first NBA title. The Hawks have had several close games so far this playoffs, but have found ways to have different players step up at key moments. Though the Hawks are the higher seed, many consider the Cavaliers the favorites to win the series, largely because of the brilliance of LeBron James in recent years in the playoffs.

LeBron James (l) and his teammates Tristan Thompson (m) and Kyrie Irving (r) are looking to continue moving through the playoffs despite injuries to key players this postseason.

LeBron James (l) and his teammates Tristan Thompson (m) and Kyrie Irving (r) are looking to continue moving through the playoffs despite injuries to key players this postseason.

If the Cavaliers are able to get past the Hawks, it will make the 5th consecutive NBA Finals appearance for LeBron James, a feat reminiscent of the 1960’s and those Bill Russell led Boston Celtics. The Cavaliers will have an uphill battle considering they are without starting forward Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving has been battling injuries throughout the playoffs as well. So far injuries have not impacted the playoffs significantly yet as the 2 top seeds in each conference are playing for a chance to go to the NBA Finals.

Earlier this year on OnPointPress.net, this writer said offense, not defense wins championships in this NBA. Time will tell if that theory continues to hold true this year in the NBA Finals.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr is a sports aficionado and a licensed insurance agent with Health Markets. Follow me @GloverIsGood Twitter.com.

Will the NBA’s post-season live up to its exciting regular season?

The Golden State Warriors (top) and Atlanta Hawks (bottom) enter the playoffs as #1 seeds in their conference this year.

The Golden State Warriors (top) and Atlanta Hawks (bottom) enter the playoffs as #1 seeds in their conference this year.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The NBA regular season came to a scintillating conclusion Wednesday night as playoff positions were finally set. The eighth seed was decided on game 82 for both conferences and the scoring title was settled as well. The end of the regular season means that struggling teams can move on to making preparations for betters seasons next year, while playoff teams prepare for the post-season marathon.

After a close MVP race this NBA season, James Harden (l) and Stephen Curry (r) are the clear frontrunners to win the award.

After a close, nail-biting MVP race this NBA season, James Harden (l) and Stephen Curry (r) are the clear front-runners to win the award.

The NBA post-season will have to be spectacular to equal the exciting regular season which featured an MVP race for the ages, a scoring title race decided on the final day, and several meaningful games Wednesday night.  The Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks set season records for franchise victories, while teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics rebounded from the cellar of the NBA last year to make the playoffs this year.

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are 2 of several notable players making their playoff debuts this postseason.

Anthony Davis (l) and Kyrie Irving (r) are two of the many notable players making their playoff debuts this postseason.

The pairings for the playoffs are:

EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
1. Atlanta Hawks vs. 8. Brooklyn Nets
2. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 7. Boston Celtics
3. Chicago Bulls vs. 6. Milwaukee Bucks
4. Toronto Raptors vs. 5. Washington Wizards

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
1. Golden State Warriors vs. 8. New Orleans Pelicans
2. Houston Rockets vs. 7. Dallas Mavericks
3. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 6. San Antonio Spurs
4. Portland Trail Blazers vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies*
*Grizzlies will have home-court advantage

The playoffs will be different this season as playoff regulars like Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook will be absent this year with their teams’ failure to secure playoff berths. The NBA post-season is in good hands though, as emerging superstars like Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, and James Harden will have the opportunity to add important playoff experience to their impressive regular season resumes.

In the end, it is highly possible that either LeBron James (c) and his Cavaliers or Tim Duncan (l) and Greg Popovich (r) and the Spurs will be playing for the championship again this year.

In the end, it is highly possible that either LeBron James (c) and his Cavaliers or Tim Duncan (l) and Greg Popovich (r) and the Spurs will be playing for the championship again this year.

Other stars like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving will be able to take the next step in their careers and advance deep into the playoffs for the first time. As interesting as it will be to see some of the new faces in the post-season, in the end, LeBron James and the San Antonio Spurs will likely play a major role in determining the championship. Again.–OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a training/benefits consultant. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twitter.com.

Recent NBA Finals show good offense, not defense, wins championships

While defense is always important, these champions have used offense to reach the ultimate goal. (clockwise from top left) LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki.

While defense is always important, these champions have used offense to reach the ultimate goal. (clockwise from top left) LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

With the NFL playoffs underway, the old adage “defense wins championships” will be repeated ad nauseam by commentators and analysts. While that may apply to other sports regularly, the NBA has seen a trend of offensive excellence in recent NBA champions. While contributors at sportingcharts.com may have concluded, “Having an efficient defense is more important than an efficient offense,” it seems a great offense is better than a great defense.

The 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs showed true offensive dominance during their championship run last season.

The 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs showed true offensive dominance during their championship run last season.

Case in point, the 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs put forth one of the most dominant shooting displays en route to a 4-1 route of the Miami Heat. According to ESPN Stats and Info, “All four of the Spurs wins came by at least 15 points, outscoring the Heat by an average of 14 per game for the series. That’s the largest points per game differential in NBA Finals history, breaking the record of +12.6 PPG by the 1964-65 Celtics in their victory over the Lakers.”

Both Tim Duncan (l) and Kawhi Leonard (r) have been NBA Finals MVP. They were both excellent defensively but also efficient offensively when they won the award.

Both Tim Duncan (l) and Kawhi Leonard (r) have been NBA Finals MVP. They were both excellent defensively but also efficient offensively when they won the award.

The Spurs had 4 regular rotation players shoot 50 percent or better from the floor and 35 percent or better from the 3-point line for the playoffs. In the NBA Finals their team shooting was even better with 6 regular rotation players shooting 50 percent or better and 6 different rotation players shooting 35 percent or better from the 3-point line.

(left-right) Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Jeff Teague, and Al Horford have helped the Atlanta Hawks to one of best records in the NBA with their offensive efficiency. Can they sustain this high level into the playoffs?

(left-right) Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Jeff Teague, and Al Horford have helped the Atlanta Hawks to one of best records in the NBA with their offensive efficiency. Can they sustain this high level into the playoffs?

Excellent shooting has become the deciding factor for NBA champions for the last decade now. Since 2005, every NBA champion has had at least 2 regular rotation players shoot at least 50 percent from the field and at least 3 regular rotation players shoot 35 percent or better from the 3-point line. Efficiency has become essential offensively as teams have transitioned away from the ground and pound style of offense that tended to be predictable to defend.

Could this be an NBA Finals preview? Stephan Curry (l) has the Golden State Warriors at the top of the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry (r) has helped lead the Toronto Raptors to one of the best records in the East.

Could this be an NBA Finals preview? Stephen Curry (l) has the Golden State Warriors at the top of the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry (r) has helped lead the Toronto Raptors to one of the best records in the East.

As the NBA season nears the halfway point, a handful of low-seeded playoff teams have become top seeds in the conference. Though it is still early in the season, comparing teams by offensive efficiency might be the best way to determine which teams will have long playoff runs. As of today, only the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors meet the 50 or 35 percent field goal/3-point threshold common in the last ten NBA champions with the Atlanta narrowly missing the criteria.

New York Times writer Rodger Sherman recently stated during last season’s playoffs, “Being the staunchest, stingiest squad on paper does not mean as much as an old saying might make it seem.” As the season continues, it seems efficient offenses, not stingy defenses, will be the best way to determine the next NBA champion.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and training/benefits consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com. For business inquiries contact (646)309-1938.