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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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.

The Coach of the Year goes to……

     As the NBA season winds down, let’s take a look at the coaches who deserve to win coach of the year. Some of the obvious names include Steve Kerr of the Warriors, even though they are having a down year to their standards, Mike D’antoni of Houston, Dwane Casey of the East-leading Raptors, and Brad Stevens of the Celtics among a few others. The one that truly deserves the award the most is Brad Stevens.

     Brad Stevens is the coach of the year in mind because of what he has been able to do with players missing a lot of time. He has had to plug different players into thehayward starting lineup almost all season because of injury. Like many basketball fans know, the injury bug didn’t waste any time attacking the Celtics. It struck five minutes into the season opener with the Cavs and got Gordon Hayward, who was starting his first season in Boston after signing over from the Jazz, and he hasn’t been able to play since. Other players that have been plagued by injuries this season are:

(most recent injuries)

Kyrie Irving-16 games missed (knee) 24.4 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.8 rpgbig3

Gordon Hayward- 75 games missed (ankle/leg) 2 points in the opener

Marcus Morris-26 games missed (ankle) 13.6 ppg, 1.3 apg, 5.5 rpg

Marcus Smart-22 games missed (thumb/thigh) 10.2 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.5 rpg

Al Horford- 8 games missed (illness/ankle) 12.8 ppg, 4.8 apg, 7.4 rpgbrownmorris

Jaylen Brown-11 games missed (concussion) 14.0 ppg, 1.6 apg, 5.1 rpg

Daniel Theis-13 games missed (meniscus) 5.3 ppg, 0.9 apg, 4.3 rpg

     With missing that many players for long periods of time and the most experienced vet left having 7 years of experience at most to go along with 4 rookies and still have a shot at the top spot in the Eastern Conference shows that Brad Stevens should bejaysontatum the coach of the year. Not only does Coach Stevens have the team 2 games out of the top spot behind Toronto, he has been able to find ways to get production out of his young players, most notably Jayson Tatum, who was thrust into the starting lineup following the injury to Hayward.

     Even with having 7 players who are big contributors missing games, Coach Stevens has guided the team to a 53-23 record so far and like I stated before, a shot at the top spot in the conference. Don’t get me wrong, the other coaches are very deserving of the award, but Coach Stevens has been able to find success with a very limited lineup option and fewer big-time players.

Help Wanted…

      Over the last 15 games, the Boston Celtics are 8-7 while averaging 102.4 ppg and giving up 101.06 ppg. In that span, the Celtics are giving up over 4 points per game more than their season average. Does this point to the beginning of a slump? I believe it is just that time of the season where the players are worn down from the schedule. Up to this point, the Celtics played the most games to begin the season, with playing 43 games in the first 82 days of the season, while they have one of the easiest remaining schedules of the whole league.

      With the season over halfway done, the Celtics need to sign a free agent or two to come off the bench and help the second unit with scoring. With the trade deadline passing, and the Celtics not making a move surprisingly, the team should look to the droseplayers that are being bought out of their contracts and are available. A potential target for them includes Derrick Rose, who was traded from the Cavs to the Jazz and was waived by Utah following the trade. Since his glory days with the Bulls, he is averaging 16.4 points in 80 games with the Knicks and Cavaliers while shooting 46.7% from the field and shooting only 22.6% from 3. For his career though, he is averaging 19.2 points on 45% from the field and 30% from 3. The problem with this would be that he has left the Cavs and Knicks during the season without much of a warning and stayed away sessionsfor a few days. Another target for the Celtics could be Ramon Sessions. The 10-year vet has shown that he is a good scorer off the bench with averaging over double digits 7 times throughout his career and for his career, he averages 10.4 points a game on 43.5% shooting from the field and 31.4% from 3.

      They did manage to help with rebounding when they signed Greg Monroe for the rest of the season following his buyout from the Suns. Monroe averages 8.7 rebounds for his career. This was a good signing, as monroeMonroe can fill in for Horford or Baynes throughout the game so that there is always a big on the court to protect the paint. In the three games that Monroe has played for the Celtics, he is averaging 4 points on 33% shooting and 5 rebounds per game.

      The Celtics need to add one more scoring option to come off the bench, especially since they do not have Gordan Haywards scoring ability this year and most likely won’t have it until next season with the leg injury. The team needs to show that they can still keep up with the top teams in the league even with how young and inexperienced most of the players are.

      If the Celtics want to be able to get deep through the playoffs, they will need to smarthave capable scorers to come off the bench. They will also benefit from the return of Marcus Smart, one of the teams best defensive players, who has been out with a lacerated hand for the last 10 games. In those 10 games, the Celtics are 6-4 while averaging 104 points but also giving up 103 points. With two of those losses coming by at least 20 points and have fallen behind the Raptors for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. To help with the defense, they could sign a familiar face in Tony Allen now that he is a free agent following his release from the Bulls following his trade from the Pelicans.

For Sale….In basically good condition

      In the NBA, during the season there is no moment busier with trades than the trade deadline. This year, the deadline is Thursday, February 8th, so at the time of writing this, its two days away. Almost like clockwork, rumors start circulating a few days before the deadline on who could get moved and who won’t get moved.

      One of the biggest names during this trade season has been LA Clippers star Deandre Jordan. The Clippers overall have been one of the busiest organizations this chrispaul tradeseason and prior to the season starting. Prior to the season starting, the Clippers sent star point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets for 7 players including, Patrick Beverley, a protected first round pick, and cash considerations. They then followed that up by sending their former #1 overall pick, Blake Griffin, to Detroit for Tobias Harris, blakegriffinAvery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and a 2018 first round pick and a 2019 second round pick. It is safe to say that no one on the Clippers roster is safe right now with them towards the bottom of a tough Western Conference at 27-25 and sitting in 9th place a half game behind the New Orleans Pelicans for the last spot.

      Several teams have been linked to the star Center like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards. Other trade news around the league would be that Tyreke Evans of the Memphis Grizzlies deandre jordancould be on the move as well, teams like the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and Denver Nuggets are the top 3 trade partners looking to acquire Evans. As of right now, Evans averages 19.5 points a game to go along with 5 assists and 5 rebounds a game. He would contribute right away coming off the bench in my opinion if he gets traded to one of those teams. It is safe to say that this could be one of the most eventful trade deadlines in the last few years.

      As teams go into the trade deadline, everyone is trying to not pull a dud. Whether it’s by trading for someone who doesn’t fit or trading away someone who is getting better. Like what happened with the Phoenix Suns a few years ago when they traded isaiahtIsaiah Thomas to the Celtics for Marcus Thorton and a first-round pick. Following the trade, the Suns would finish out the year with a record of 10-18 through their last 28 games, and since then have gone through two coaching changes, whereas the Celtics would go 20-11 following the trade and IT would lead the team to the Eastern Conference Finals in his last season in Boston while averaging just under 30 points a game.

      Of course, there will be teams that regret trading a player during this year’s deadline. The question is, who will it be this time.

Revisiting the biggest trade from this past NBA offseason.

     As we grow closer to the All-Star break in the NBA, I want to take a look back at isaiah introthe trade that shocked the league. As many fans of the NBA know, Kyrie Irving was traded from the Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the last first round pick that the Celtics received through the Garnett-Pierce trade with the Nets.

     With more than half of the season over, it seems as if the Celtics have won the trade and by a wide margin. kyrie has been playing at an MVP level with leading to kyrievsisaiahthe team to the top spot in the Eastern Conference while averaging 24.9 points a game, which ranks 10th in the league, 5 assists a game and just under 4 rebounds a game.

     In comparison, the players that the Cavs received, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic, average a combined to score 25.2 points a game, 5.4 assists a game and 6.5 rebounds a game. The highest scorer out of the three is Isaiah Thomas with 15.4, but that average is only from Thomas appearing in 12 games this season after he was recovering from the hip injury he suffered in the playoffs last year for the Celtics.

     I strongly believe that the Celtics won this trade since Kyrie has been able to lead the team to the best record in the Eastern Conference. Since Isaiah Thomas made his standingsdebut against Portland, the Cavs are 5-7 and scoring 108.6 points a game, but giving up 116.1 points in that span. Meanwhile, Boston is 7-5 in that same span and scoring 101.75 points, but holding teams to just 97.5 points in that span.

     That is the main difference between the two teams, Boston has been able to play terrific defense throughout the year to help them win games. As of now, the Celtics are second in the league in points allowed per game at 98.3 points only behind the Spurs of San Antonio, and the offense is ranked 23rd with 103.1 points a game. In Cleveland, their offense is ranked 5th with scoring 109.6 points a game, but their defense gives up almost the same amount with giving up 109.3 points which is tied for 25th in league with the Bulls.

      It helps that the Celtics were able to mold their team around Irving, which is one reason why Irving has been able to get better on defense compared to how he was in Cleveland. The problem with the Cavs is that they mold everything to Lebron James and hope it works even if the players don’t work in the system.boston5

      This isn’t the first time that Danny Ainge, the Celtics GM, has been a part of a trade and come out the winner. Many NBA fans know the trades he made when the Danny Aingeteam got Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join up with Paul Pierce and went on to win the title in the ’07-’08 season, then there was the trade of Garnett and Pierce to the Nets for a few first round picks and that experiment failing for the Nets to the point that the Celtics had lottery picks with each of them leading to the team being able to draft Jaylen Brown out of Cal, and Jayson Tatum out of Duke.

     browntatum Unless something happens in the near future, Boston has this trade won hands down. Here is to more trades that the Celtics come out as winners of!

The winner so far is…..

             Back in June, the Boston Celtics sent the top overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for the 3rd overall pick. Those picks would turn into Markelle Fultz tatumdraftfor the 76ers and Jayson Tatum for the Celtics, forever linking the two young players. From now on, there will always be a debate, as there usually is when it comes to trading these high positioned draft picks, on who won the trade and who looks like the big fool. This would be the second time this decade that the Celtics are involved in a big trade, the other is the Nets trade. These kinds of trades usually cannot declare a winner until a few years down the road, but it looks like that now, Boston won the trade.

              Through the first three games of the season, Markelle Fultz has averaged 7.3 points per game on 34.8% shooting. He also has averaged 2.3 rebounds a game and 1.3 assists a game and his team has not yet won a game. For Tatum, he is averaging 12.3 points on 40.7% shooting and 9 rebounds and 1.7 assists a game. Yes, I know it isfultzdraft only 3 games into the season for those two, but the early numbers are pointing in favor of Jayson Tatum and the Celtics when it comes to who won the trade. A reason for the lower averages for Fultz compared to Tatum, could be that Tatum is starting for the Celtics and averaging more minutes, while Fultz has to come off the bench for the 76ers.

              In the first matchup between the two on October 20th, the Celtics would go on to win the game and Tatum would have 15 points and 8 rebounds, while Fultz had 6 points 3 assists and one rebound. So round one of many more rounds goes to Tatum and the Celtics.

              Unless something happens to Tatum, I believe that the Celtics have gotten the better end of this trade. The production for him is there and it is very evident that his hard work is paying off with the coaches since he is averaging 35.3 minutes a game. Which makes him one of the few rookies right now to average over 35 minutes. The next closest rookie in minutes to him would be Fultz’s teammate Ben Simmons at exactly 35 minutes per game. As for Fultz, he is only averaging 19.7 minutes a game, which is not bad for a rookie, but you would think that the top overall pick would be getting a little more playing time and possibly averaging better stats.

              Like I said earlier, it is only three games into the season and it is a long season, so who knows what could happen down the road for either team, but as of right now Boston is winning the debate on who won the trade and it’s a big margin in my mind.