by Sartaj Aujla
1. The Cavs have now won 18 straight at home after their win over Chicago yesterday, coming closer to securing the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference. The Wine and Gold, along with every other playoff team, currently are in transition mode to the playoffs. Its apparent when you watch them play. Honestly, If I were Cleveland I would start to rest some players in these last 5 games of the season. However, I do understand from a competitive standpoint that they want to carry some energy and momentum into the playoffs.
2. Additionally, if they do decide to go the resting route, I really do not care if they lose the 2nd seed. In this league, you are going to have to win games on the road, especially in the playoffs. There is no other way around it. Having home court advantage helps, but where teams separate themselves from the rest is the fact that they can go to another teams court and leave with the last laugh, if not dominate them.
3. While I still believe Chicago will be a tough test for the Cavaliers in the playoffs, I still think Cleveland has a legitimate shot at giving them a run for their money. Even with Derrick Rose back in Chicago’s lineup, the match ups are there to keep the series even. By no means will it be easy, but whoever wins a series between the two will earn the shot to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
4. Which brings us to the big question. Are the Cavaliers championship contenders? Yes. Will they win the title this year? Not sure. I’m not ready to crown this team just yet. Especially with a stacked Western Conference, in addition to the young players on this roster not used to the playoff atmosphere. Before you say that the Cavs have beaten the Western Conference in the regular season, sorry to tell you this but the playoffs are an entirely different season.
5. LeBron James is calling the plays? Head Coach David Blatt repeats them? I’m sorry, but this is common around the NBA when you have a star player with an immense knowledge of the game. The Cavaliers are currently in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference and are currently 50-27. The team is winning.
6. The true test for David Blatt is not in the regular season, but in the post season. Its an entirely different game in the playoffs. Rotations and substitutions are crucial, and we have seen moments where the Wine and Gold Head Coach has been questionable with his decisions. (Examples: No Mozgov + Love in the 4th Quarter, playing Perkins early in the 1st, etc)
7. While we are on story lines that are not news but somehow made national headlines, it makes no difference that LeBron James and Kevin Love are not “best friends”. All that matters is team chemistry on the floor, friendships go out the door when you are on the court. You are now an entire unit, not a bunch of buddies playing pick up basketball in a gym.
1. Baseball season is back. A little late to the party, but it seems that the Indians are being favored to win the World Series this year. I’m a little hesitant to really crown them as a favorite. Although the team has a solid foundation, there are still many questions to be answered.
2. Defensive will be what makes or breaks the Indians this season. However, there are signs of hope. Staying healthy would provide a huge boost, Jose Ramirez has performed well in spring training, and the unit having more games under their belt together helps as well.
3. The Indians are also a team hoping to get some improved production out of Jason Kipnis, and hope the addition of Brandon Moss can help further their offense. I’m not as worried with our batting as I am with our fielding. The lineup looks solid. Same thing goes with pitching.
4. As stated, the Indians season will be defined by their defense. The team has a solid foundation at the helm, and the only that will stop them is themselves. Mentality is a huge factor in baseball. Will the Indians meet their expectations? I think this team is special this year. I’m not going to go as far as World Series, but watch out for the Tribe this season.
5. Oh, and enough with this “SI Cover Curse”. No need to give life to something that is just pure baseless superstition
1. We are 24 Days away from the Draft, so let the ultimate smokescreens begin!
2. Browns still interested in Marcus Mariota enough to trade up? Not buying it. With a team that has a bevy of draft picks, the Browns are in a position where IMPROVEMENT must over trump HOPE.
3. While I am a strong believer that if you are confident that a quarterback you are coveting can turn your franchise around, go ahead and do whatever it takes to get him. Having said that, there’s a difference between trading up for a quarterback that you are confident in, than trading up for a quarterback… just to trade up for a quarterback. If the Browns really believe that Mariota can be that franchise quarterback for them, then all power to them. However, I am having trouble believing that that is their opinion on Mariota. I just don’t see it.
4. To build off of that, I do not think the Browns will be wheeling and dealing in this years draft as they have done in the past. If a right offer were to present itself, who knows what Ray Farmer will do. Last year he kept his cards hidden, and surprised everyone on draft day with the deals he was able to pull off.
5. The more we move closer to the draft the lesser I think Cleveland will draft a wide receiver in the first round. We know Farmers stance on wide-outs, and this year should be no exception. With the additions of Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe, it just fortifies the notion that they will once again pass on a receiver in the first round.
1. Give me Wisconsin over Duke tonight. The Badgers had a definite gameplan and showed no rattling under pressure against Kentucky. Duke is a talented team, but for Wisconsin to come in with the momentum of taking down the highly favored Wildcats, it speaks volumes on how they are handling themselves. Oh, and Frank Kaminsky, who I think is going to be a valued addition to an NBA team come draft time, performed very well against Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Dakari Johnson, and two of those three players will most likely go ahead of him in the draft if they were all to declare.
2. Speaking of NBA Draft, a name I would keep an eye one is Kelly Oubre. The Kansas Jayhawk was a highly sought out recruit, but did not perform up to expectations this year. However, his potential is still there. Great defense and slashing ability is already present, the other aspects of his game he will need to work on, such as play-by-play effort, and his overall court awareness on the offensive end. Seems like a project pick, but a team that is patient with him and can coach him up can add a great player to their team for the long term.
3. Talking some College Basketball recruiting, the name Thon Maker has been a under-the-radar recruit. Originally of the class of 2016, Maker is re-classified for the class of 2015. The Canadian Power Forward/Center moves very fluidly for being 7’1, with great ability to perform on the offensive and defensive end. Of the colleges interested in recruiting Maker, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas and Duke are the leading destinations, according to reports. Keep an eye on Thon Maker as we get closer to signing day for college basketball.
4. In the NFL Draft, I think a player to watch that we are not talking about is Tight End Maxx Williams from Minnesota. There are an awful lot of teams that could use a tight end, and while Williams is most likely a second round pick, I would not be surprised if a team decided to draft him in the first round.