The Lebron Effect

     As everyone in the sports world knows, the best player of his generation, Lebron James, has signed with the Los Angeles Lakers on a four-year deal worth $153.3 million. and if you haven’t heard about that, then you must have been living under a rock. With his move to the Lakers, Lebron has now left the Eastern Conference widecavsheatlakers open for the taking. The top two teams in the East are now the Celtics and the 76ers. Unless the Raptors new coach can get the team to mesh and they can keep winning in the regular season then it’ll be between the Celtics and 76ers right now.

     There is no doubt that Lebron is a game-changing player. The biggest example of that is when he left Cleveland the first time back in 2010 and the Cavaliers fell apart big time

                    Record                     Offensive PPG                 Defensive PPG
Cavaliers
2002:          17-65                      91.4                                101.0
2003:          35-47                      92.9                                95.5
2009:          61-21                     102.1                               95.6
2010:           19-63                     95.5                                104.5
Miami:
2009:            47-35                     96.5                               94.2
2010:            58-24                    102.1                              94.6
2013:            54-28                    102.2                              97.4
2014:            37-45                     94.7                               97.3
Cavaliers:
2013:            33-49                     98.2                               101.5
2014:            53-29                    103.1                               98.7
2017:            50-32                    110.9                              109.9
2018:             TBD                      TBD                                TBD
Lakers:
2017:            35-47                    108.1                               109.6
2018:             TBD                      TBD                                TBD

     If history has told us anything, once Lebron steps on to the court for Lakers he will instantly turn the team into a contender, but it will be hard for him to get back to the finals for a ninth straight time since he is in the same conference as the “Monstars” in the Golden State Warriors. It will make for some interesting basketball when he leads the Lakers against the Warriors.

     Unless Ty Lue can continue to have success, then the Cavs are doomed to the cellar of the league again, and he won’t last long if history repeats itself.

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The Past vs The Future

     When this season starts for the Washington Redskins, there will be a new QB under center, as Kirk Cousins, to put it in Lebron James terms, took his talents to Minnesota to join the Vikings after 3+ years of being the starting QB of the Redskins, in his place comes former 49ers #1 overall pick and Kansas City Chief QB Alex Smith. cousins vikingsThe question is, are the Redskins improving or making a lateral movement at QB. In my opinion, to accurately determine this, you must take look at his stats through the same time period for each player, so in this case, we have to look through both players
first 57 starts.

Through 57 starts:

Kirk Cousins: 65.5% completions 16,206 yards 99 TD 55 INT 26-30-1 as a starter

Alex Smith: 57.6% completions 10,400 yards 59 TD 55 INT 25-32 as a starter

     Through first glance at Alex’s stats, it seems like it would be a step back compared to Kirk, but Alex didn’t have the right coaches around him, his first head coach in the league was Mike Nolan who was fired during his fourth year in the league and then smith1dealt with 2+ years under Mike Singletary. He was thought to be a bust, that was until the Niners hired a college coach who never had NFL coaching experience in Jim Harbaugh. Fortunately for Smith, it was the first time in his career where he had the right leader and was able to find success.

     In his first season under Harbaugh, Smiths stats were 3144 yards with 17 TD’s. Career highs for Smith, and then Smith was sent to KC where he learned under Andy Reid and became the player he was supposed to be when he was drafted. He comes to DC after a super successful run in KC where he helped lead the Chiefs to the playoffs 4 of the last 5 years, whereas Cousins has been to the playoffs once as a full-time starter back in 2015.

     I believe that when it comes to which Alex Smith we will get, we will get the Kansas City Chiefs version, the most successful version of him especially with Jay Gruden leading the team. My prediction for next season is that we will be between 9-7 and maybe 11-5 with a playoff berth. I do believe that it is an improvement at the QB position for the Redskins even if it is just a tiny bit of an improvement.

Thank you Coach Trotz!

     Today, it was announced that after four years and a Stanley Cup title, Barry Trotz resigned as head coach of the Washington Capitals. This surprising move comes 11 days after he lead the Capitals to a Stanley Cup title over the Vegas Golden Knights in trotz2five games. According to CBS Sports, the resignation is due to money. With the Stanley Cup victory, a clause was activated in Trotz’s contract that would give him a two-year extension and a $300,000 raise. The problem is that it would only raise his salary from $1.5 million to $1.8 million, which would be on the lower side of head coaches salary around the league.

     In the four years that Trotz was the head coach, the team went 205-89-34 in the regular season with three straight division titles and two presidents trophies (top team in the league), in the postseason the team was 36-27, but never got past the second round until this year when they brought home the title, the first one of his coaching career. His 205 career wins with the Caps places him second all-time in franchise history right behind Bryan Murray who had 343 career wins over the nine seasons that he has led this team. Trotz is the 5th most winningest coach in league history with 762 wins. He is 20 wins behind 4th place Al Arbour who has 782 wins.

     Trotz and the team came into this year with not so high expectations, due to them getting bounced every year from the playoffs in the second round, despite winning nhlwinsthe Presidents Trophy the last two years. A report came out from Yahoo Sports that stated that there was talk in the front office of Trotz being let go earlier in the year when the team was struggling through their first twenty games or so, but the team was able to pull it together to finish the year 49-26-7 and win their third straight division title.

     Thank you, Coach, for leading this team to the most successful time in franchise history! Coach Trotz led the team to the most wins in franchise history with 56 wins two years ago, then proceeded to lead the team to 55 wins last year. Trotz’s 57.1% playoff winning percentage ranks as the best in franchise history. Hopefully, the success under Trotz can continue no matter who the coach is. Trotz becomes the seventh coach in NHL history to not return to the team following a Stanley Cup victory and the first since ’02 when Scotty Bowman retired following the Red Wings title that year.

The drought has finally ended!!!!

     What a run for the Washington Capitals during the Stanley Cup Playoffs!! Not only did they overcome an early 0-2 deficit to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs, but they also somehow managed to send the Penguins of Pittsburghcapspens2 packing early! To top that off, they managed to overcome three straight losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning and be down 3-2 in the series in the Eastern Conference Finals to shut out the top scoring offense in the East in Games 6 & 7.

     All throughout the playoffs, the Caps have shown why they are not the same team that has been bounced the last two years against Pittsburgh. Most years, when the Caps would be down 0-2 like against Columbus, or 3-2 against Tampa they wouldn’t be able to pull out a win, but this ecfchampsyears team showed that they wouldn’t continue that narrative and deliver unto DC a title, the first title for the city in Finals in franchise history, and first since 1998 when they got swept by the Red Wings.

     Entering the Finals, the Las Vegas Golden Knights were on an unprecedented run for a team in their inaugural season for any sports league in America. Not only did they win their division, they also scored over 100 points during the regular season, and through the conference playoffs they only lost 3 games and scoring 43 total goals during the Western Conference playoffs, which ranks 4th among playoff teams and they gave up the 9th most goals during that time with 27 goals between the first round and the conference finals.

     The Washington Capitals came into the Finals leading the League in goals scored in the playoffs with 59 goals, but they also gave up the most goals in the playoffs with 47 goals given up. Many believed that this would be a make or break year not only for the Captain, Alex Ovechkin, who had only gotten as far as the second round of the playoffs during his career, but also many on the team since the team hasn’t done well in the playoffs with this group.

     I was fortunate to be able to attend Game 3 at Capital One Arena to cheer on the team in person with the series tied at 1 game apiece, and throughout the game, it seemed like this was a different team and they were playing with a different kind of energy and mindset than the previous years and they were also feeding off the energy from the crowd. It was an incredible atmosphere not only in the stadium during the game, but also outside during the Sting and Shaggy concert. The Golden Knights only score of that game came when Braden Holtby had a brain fart and passed the puck from behind the net to basically a Knight right in front of the open net.

     On June 7th, as the game clock struck all 0’s, a city that seemed like it was cursed and would not win another championship in any sports had actually won a title and champssent the Nations capital into a hysteric sea of red through the streets. The Capitals managed to win four straight games to secure the first Stanley Cup title in franchise history and bring a city a title that hasn’t known the feeling of one in over a quarter of a century. Now the city can party like its 1992!!!

Enjoying a movie with an NFL player and getting to know him a little.

     Last Monday, I came across a post on Instagram from Redskins rookie Running Back Derrius Guice. Guice is the Redskins second-round pick out of LSU, he was regarded as the best running back in the draft coming into the draft. He posted that IMG-3529he would be out at the Alamo Drafthouse in Ashburn for the 8:00 showing of Avengers Infinity War and was inviting a few local fans to join him at the theater. As soon as I saw that post I knew I had to go. Derrius walked up to the theater around 7:30 and spent the next 30 minutes taking pictures and signing autographs with a few dozen fans. From the minute he walked up to the time we left following the movie, I could tell that he is a great guy and that whoever said that he had character issues didn’t know what they were talking about.

     The first thing that impressed me about him was that he was more focused on the fans and taking pictures and signing autographs then getting into the movie on time. He made sure that every fan there got an autograph and a picture. As we got into the guicetheater to sit down and enjoy the movie, he leaned over and told everyone that food and drinks would be on him. When he said that, I couldn’t believe my ears. I only thought he would buy tickets, but to buy food for everyone really surprised me.

     Following the movie, I managed to sneak in a few questions with the rookie Running Back:

1. Sports Guru: What was your reaction to being drafted by the Redskins?
Derrius Guice: My Reaction to the redskins drafting me was shocking and calming. I was relieved. I felt like my home called me. My brothers called me.

2. SG: What was going through your mind during the draft until you got the call?
DG: Why is this happening to me? Why am I sliding in this draft?

3. SG: How well do you think you will fit into the team’s running scheme?
DG: I will fit perfectly in this scheme to complement the other backs and blockers.

4. SG: What was your visit like to D.C. during the pre-draft process?
DG: Me and [Da’Ron] Payne were both on our visits at the same time and never expected to both be right back here a few weeks later apart of the team.

5. SG: What gave you the idea to buy 50 tickets for you and fans to see Avengers?
DG: I just felt like watching a movie that day and said why not have a few fans come as well.

     The analysists got him wrong, he is a great guy and has such great character, and he will go out there every week to prove his doubters wrong.

No, it is not a dream, the Caps are in the Stanley Cup Finals

     As the clock struck all zero’s in game seven of the Eastern Conference finals in the NHL between the Lightning of Tampa Bay and the Capitals of Washington on oviWednesday night, one fan base finally gets to revel in the thought of a championship for a city that hasn’t had a title in almost 30 years and the other tries to comprehend how they went from one game away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final to now having to make tee times for the offseason.

     The city of Washington D.C. last saw a championship in the four major sports back in 1992 when the Redskins beat the Bills 37-24. Since the Super Bowl, the closest the city has come to a title was the first Stanley Cup Finals appearance for the Caps back in 1998 before Ovi was on the team, and after that appearance, no DC team managed to get past the second round of the playoffs until this year with the Caps making it to the Finals.

capspens

Besides the berth into the Finals, the biggest part of the Capitals playoff run is the fact that they got to overcome their demons against the hated Pittsburgh Penguins and send them packing in 6 games. The Caps have had to overcome so many obstacles in the playoffs this year, from the 0-2 start to Columbus, to beating the Penguins without two of their top players in Wilson who was out due to suspension for an “illegal” hit, and Backstrom who was out the end of the series due to injury ecfnhland finally beating the Lightning who have the leagues top offense even after losing 3 straight games in the series following their 2-0 lead over Tampa.

     Tonight the Capitals go up against the new Las Vegas Golden Knights, who also made it to the Stanley Cup Finals despite being in their first year of playing. For the Capitals to win the title, they must go up against probably their biggest demon ever in Goaltender Marc Andre-Fleury, who was with the Penguins before being selected by the Knights in the expansion draft this past offseason.

     Both teams are out to prove that they belong each year in the playoffs and among the top tier teams in the league year in and year out and show that these playoff runs and title appearances are the new norms for both teams and not just a lucky chance. Vegas has become a great storyline for the league after they were able to win in their inaugural season and somehow make it to the title series. The Knights are the first expansion team to clinch a playoff spot since 1979-80 when the Oilers and Whalers (Hurricanes) did so. In the playoffs for the Whalers, they were swept by Montreal 3-0 and for the Oilers, they were swept by the Flyers 3 games to none as well.

     So it looks like Vegas is the best expansion team in the NHL and possibly across the four big sports leagues in the US, but my prediction for the title series is that the Caps will win in 7 games on part of a strong series by Ovi and the defense of Holtby.

How much trouble are the Celtics in without Kyrie?

     Could the Celtics be in for a big let down in the playoffs now that Kyrie has been ruled out for the rest of the season and the playoffs? The men in green have had a bad case of the injury bug all year, starting in the opener. I recommend you check out my previous post on their injury situation. The all-star guard has already missedlineup 18 games up to this point in the season. In those 18 games, the Celtics are 12-6 while shooting 43.9% from the field and 38.3% from 3 and averaging 99.3 ppg. Whereas when he does play, the team is 41-19 and shoots 45.2% from the field overall and 37.5% from 3 while averaging 105.2 ppg.

     To show the impact on offense of Kyrie missing games, we must go deeper into the stats. We must look at the shots the team takes. When Kyrie plays, the team averages 38.6 made field goals to go along with 85.4 attempts from the field overall and 11.9 3s made and 31.6 3’s attempted. When you look at those same numbers but from the games that he misses, all of those numbers shrink. Overall, the team averages 36.6 field goals made and 83.3 attempts from the field. From 3 they make an average of 10.3 against 26.8 attempts in the 18 games that he has missed. so, yes the team shooting percentage barely changes but when you look at it from makes and attempts, it shows a little bit bigger change from when he is on to when he is sidelined.

     For the Celtics to succeed in the playoffs this year everyone has to contribute more than in the regular season. The younger players who have had little time, have to use the time they get in the players wisely and help contribute and not just score rookiesbetween 2-5 points, even though every point is important, they have to put more effort in other areas and try to take some of the pressure off the vets. I know that they should be doing that anyway, but to help get deep into the playoffs with so many injuries, young players need to be pushed out of their comfort zone in games and given more opportunities to show that they are capable of scoring during important stretches and keeping the offense floating when the vets are on the bench. It’ll really be important these last four games and the playoffs since Kyrie counts for almost 25% of the scoring offense for the team.

     The playoffs will not be easy for the Celtics, but I still believe that they will at least get to the second round of the playoffs and that series will go 7 games.