Preview & Prediction: Celtics vs Cavs

Coming off the heels of a thrilling game 7 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday night. The Boston Celtics prepare for their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since the 2012, the last season of the Original Big 3. Similar to that team in 2012, the opponent for this year’s Celtics happens to be none other than Lebron James.

While nobody outside of the Boston faithful believe the Celtics will upset the Cavs & make a trip to the NBA Finals. The belief is this series will be competitive & make the Cavs have to work for their 3rd straight trip to the Finals.

Unlike the Pacers, The Celtics have the depth to truly challenge Cleveland, & unlike the Raptors the Celtics are going into this series healthy, & fully believing they can make history by ending the defending champs dreams of going back-to-back.

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My personal opinion is that Boston needs to win game 1 to have any shot at pulling off the upset. The Cavs haven’t played a game since May 7th. By the time they tip off that will be 10 days off. Meanwhile during that time the Celtics were in a heated battle that just concluded. They still have momentum on their side, this is why game 1 is their best opportunity to strike while the Cavs may be fighting off some rust.

The Celtics struggled on the road vs Washington, losing all 3 of their road games. Winning in Cleveland will prove to be much harder than that. Their best bet to win this series is to control home court, losing game 1 would be a killer blow & halt all the momentum they’ve just built from their game 7 victory.

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The Cavs dominated the regular season series 3-1 & the last game they played against each other. Lebron, Kyrie & company are on a path to destiny. I personally don’t see this being a close series, especially if Boston drops game 1 at home. I see the Cavs dominating this series, not as much as the Raptors series but don’t be surprised if this ends up in a sweep & the much anticipated Finals match-up between the Cavs & Warriors.

Final prediction Cavs win this series 4-1.

 

Making A Statement

If you’ve been watching this year in the NBA you know that the Cavs & Warriors have been on a collision course to a rubber match in the Finals. But if you’ve been paying close attention to how both teams have performed during these playoffs you’ll notice that the battle between these two juggernauts has already begun.

Every win by one of them is matched by the other. Both teams have started these playoffs 8-0. They are making it look easy by seemingly flipping the switch & going to a next level on their opponents whenever they please. This is not to discredit their competition this is just low key statements they are making towards each other.

The latest chapter to this rivalry that has spawned the past 3 NBA seasons & most likely will be a 3rd straight NBA Finals match-up this year, has come from none other that Draymond Green himself. After defeating the Utah Jazz on Monday Draymond started blatantly poking the bear that is Lebron James, suggesting that the Cavs have faced inferior competition compared to them. We all know the media will ask Lebron and company how they feel about those remarks stirring more animosity & anticipation towards their potential impending match-up in June.

Keep your eyes open for the Conference Finals when both teams have another chance to one up each other before the showdown the basketball world is waiting for goes down. It leads to more hot topics for us to discuss, making it all the more exciting if/when they do meet up in June.

 

Raptors at a crossroads

With the disappointing ending to the season this past Sunday & numerous rumors about Kyle Lowry’s mindset entering free agency. This is shaping up to be one of the most intense as well as interesting off-seasons in the Toronto Raptors history.

With so much uncertainty about what will be this franchise’s direction moving forward has already spawned numerous articles, Twitter rants & heated debates between fans it is clear this is the most important off-season this franchise has ever faced.

The future of this team begins & ends with Kyle Lowry.

Major Key 

The Raptors have never had more sustained success than what has happened over the past 4 seasons. This team has won multiple division titles, established arguably two top 25 players in the league and has had back to back 50 win seasons for the first time ever. Arguably the biggest factor to that success has been the play of Kyle Lowry. He has easily been the best regular season player the Raptors have had over that time. He is a leader of the team & it is a proven fact that they play better with him on the floor than not.

K-Low is a 3 time All-star, made the All NBA 3rd team in 2016, a recent Olympic Gold medalist & has just completed a career year this past season. He has earned the right to get paid & has the keys to this franchise. It is a pretty good argument that the Raptors would not be in this position without him, & keeping him would more than likely continue this recent success for at least another 2 years.

65th NBA All-Star Game

Reasons to Move On

Although the Raptors have seen recent success they have never had prior to these past 4 years they share a similar fate with the Los Angeles Clippers. They also have major decisions to make starting with paying their starting point guard Chris Paul. Whom has also brought them success their franchise has never experienced prior to his arrival. However just like the Clippers, the Raptors are at a crossroads of whether to keep K-Low & this core together & remaining where they are, (a perennial playoff team but no hopes of winning a title) or moving on from their star PG in hopes of moving forward towards future long term success.

Another key factor & probably the biggest is the fact for the past 3 seasons after the All-star break Lowry’s play has continually suffered. He has consistently been injured entering the playoffs & has posted historically low shooting percentages in the history of the NBA playoffs. These are major issues plaguing the Raptors front office as to whether or not he can continue carrying this load as a team leader for the foreseeable future.

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Decisions, Decisions. 

Stories are already running rampant of what might Kyle Lowry do this off-season. There have been rumblings that he will consider going to a Western Conference team. There’s the fact that he has said his number one priority entering free agency is to win a ring. (something the Raps won’t contend for as long as Lebron is in Cleveland or they get another star player)

Has he done enough to warrant a max contract? Probably not. Max contract players step their game up the brighter the lights get. But as a fan of the Raptors I have two major fears if we decide not to keep Kyle. One is going back to the dark days of 30 to low 40 win & missing the playoffs seasons. The second reason is the most important.

The last time a team gave up on an All-star point guard with recent injury problems was the Dallas Mavericks. That player went on to become a two time MVP, set the league on fire with assists & spawn great success for the Phoenix Suns franchise. If you haven’t guessed it yet, that player was Steve Nash.

The Raptors are at a major Crossroads.

 

 

This Off-season Bring Vince Home

With his recent announcement saying he can still play for two more years, Vince Carter made it clear he still has a lot left in the tank. As a matter of fact his play this past season proved this to be true. The man widely considered the greatest dunker of all time was a reliable contributor off the bench for the Memphis Grizzlies. The 40 year old averaged 8points 3rebs & shot 37.8% from 3, played solid defense & showed several flashes of why he is the king of dunks.

All this brings me to the main reason for this article. This off-season is the perfect time for Vince to return back to the team it all started with, the Toronto Raptors.

Need New Role Players

One thing I think all Raptors fans can agree on is no matter how this years playoffs go, key players on the team will be gone in the off-season. With Tucker, Ibaka, Lowry & Patterson all free agents after this year it is clear to those who have been watching that 2Pat is the most likely one on the move out of that bunch. Couple that with the fact that there is a high chance that either Carroll &/or Cory Joseph could be moved in the off-season to make way for emerging young stars Delon Wright & Norman Powell.

Who better than to fill that void in the G/SF position than the player formerly known as “Air Canada”? He is a proven player with solid defensive skills, & he can help spread the floor as a consistent 3 point shooter which is imperative in today’s NBA.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Chicago Bulls

 

Veteran Contributors

With the Raptors cap situation as sticky as it already is, just keeping the core together will be hard enough. But if there is a silver lining that we have seen utilized by the best teams in the league. The trend of solid veteran players joining a team at a reasonable price to help compete for a ring. We have seen this work wonders when the Cavs used Richard Jefferson as a key figure to them winning the championship last year.

Bringing Vince in that role could do wonders for the team. He’d be cheap, has playoff experience & could be that veteran presence every elite team has.

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Nostalgia Factor

The main reason the Raptors should bring Vinsanity back into the mix is the nostalgia effect that goes with it. Throwback Vince jerseys would start flying off the shelves again, & just to be honest. When Vince retires what jersey will he be going to the hall of fame in? What jersey would he be most remembered in? It will be that Toronto Raptors jersey. It’s what he wore when he brought by the dunk contest from the abyss, it’s what he wore when he put Canada basketball on the map. It’s what he wore during most of his most memorable in game dunks & performances.

To top it all off. It would just be the Canadian thing to do. #BringVinceback

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The Misconception of being Whitewashed

A few days ago a came across a video on Facebook about what makes a black person whitewashed. In that short video I noticed certain comments to be quite disturbing & to be quite honest, a little false. The same old “he talks properly, or gets good grades” argument was being brought up. However I feel as though that has changed over the past 5 years.

Misconception

When folks have considered a black person of being whitewashed it was usually associated with talking without slang, being educated, not being in the streets etc. But times have changed & that was more in the past. If you look around over the past 5 years whether through social media or the real world you will see that there are more black people in college, dressing in more tight fitted clothing, at a play. But nothing about them makes you say they are white washed.

Nobody calls Michael Eric Dyson (a famous academic) whitewashed & he is highly educated & promotes education whenever he gets the chance. I don’t hear anybody calling ESPN’s Michael Wilbon a “corny whitewashed brotha” even though he speaks extremely well, highly educated & has a good job.

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ESPN’s Michael Wilbon

Let’s take this a little further. Several rap artists including 50 Cent & Gucci Mane constantly show that they read books & study to become better business men. Not a single black person I met has ever referred to either of those two men as acting “white” or being “sellouts”. I know real bad guys that are in college right now, get good grades, dress in professional attire & nobody thinks or calls them corny brothas.

People who still think that way need to kill that noise.

 

What does make one whitewashed

If you have watched the ESPN documentary series “O.J.: Made in America” you will truly realize what a whitewashed black person is. A person who acts like they aren’t black, or tries to distance themselves from the plight we face everyday. People who forget where they came from or what they are once they get rich.

A whitewashed black person in simple terms is a person who has no sense of black culture. You can just tell a whitewashed person when you see & speak to them. It’s the vibe they give off. In my opinion a Stacey Dash or Raven Symone are whitewashed. Don Lemon from CNN. These are perfect examples. But to still hold these past due views of being educated & not carrying on in ghetto fashion means you are being whitewashed is ridiculous.

What do you think? Feel free to disagree with me on this but I feel black people have moved way beyond this misguided view that you “aren’t black” if you get good grades or get a job & not want to be a drug dealer or rapper or pimp.

ojj

 

The Re-emergence of Black Love

Lately as I look through all of my social media apps I’ve been noticing a  trend that has brought joy to my heart. All the black love going around from friends, colleagues, all the way to black celebrities. Seeing this has made me so happy, so proud because it has brought me back to a 1990’s vibe. (you know the golden age for everything Black) I felt it was only right that I open up Black History Month with a blog about all this beautiful black magic going around.

At a time when all types of stuff is being accepted as a norm in society, being black is still arguably the #1 target of any minority group around the globe. From the self hate of skin bleaching, bashing darker skin & wanting “exotic” babies. All the way to the racial hate & disadvantage we face from other races. There’s plenty of things going against the feeling of being black & proud nowadays. But with all the bad we have encountered especially the recent heightened killing of black men at the hands of police officers, one thing has been on display. All these negatives have slowly brought us back together as a people.

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When social media is used right it can have such a positive impact on society. I have seen this countless times over the past year as there are more Instagram pages of black art (@creatortea), or black history. Even pages devoted strictly to displaying local black businesses (@supportblacktoronto). Every time I sign onto Facebook or Twitter I see more praise for our melanin skin. That is a big thing because a couple of years ago I would rarely see praise for having dark skin, especially from black men who happened to be dark-skinned. All that would be seen is jokes about being too dark & a bunch of negativity towards dark skin women.

This goes deeper than social media too. When I talk to co-workers, friends, family, I see that they are noticing it as well. I had a colleague tell me she is proud now but 4 years ago she hated being dark, that people weren’t talking about melanin like they are doing now.

The feeling is hitting celebrities more than ever. We’ve seen friends call each other out for being oblivious to our plights (T.I. to Lil Wayne) we are seeing more celebs speak up about issues that in the past they wouldn’t go near (Kaepernick taking a knee against injustice to black youth) & we have seen the positive impact that can be made when we promote each other, Danny Glover shouting out the Migos at the Golden Globes opened up several more doors for them to a wider audience.

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More black women are embracing their natural hair, more black men are being shown in a positive light as business men, fathers, students etc. We are even getting more theatrical black movies (Hidden Figures, Fences, Black Panther soon) several hit tv shows with black ensemble casts. (Power, Luke Cage, Black-ish) It feels as if we are going back to that era when black culture was accepted.

Though we still have a long way to go. More black businesses (Like owning our hair businesses not going to places like B.S.W), continuing to appreciate our skin tone, breaking down more barriers etc. But I must say this is feeling like a perfect time to be Black & Proud.

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Dear Odell

Odell Beckham Jr of the New York Giants is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular NFL Wide Receiver’s to ever play the game. At just 24 years old & 3 seasons into his career, he has already broken several NFL records & is pretty much already the most prolific wide-out in his team’s history. But with all those accolades also brings along a tremendous amount of pressure under an enormously large spotlight. We’ve seen this in the past with other star receivers (T.O. Ocho Cinco) and we’ve seen where this path has led. OBJ, this is just here to refresh your memory.

 

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Extra Pressure

When being a polarizing athlete who is widely popular, your every move is picked apart and scrutinized. Unfair as it is this is a social media era where the media & fans will go hard on you for every little thing you do, no matter how minor. That is how OBJ has been a topic of discussion after every game his team has played this past season. Whether it is the early season “net scandal” that literally had articles written about his so-called strange relationship with the kicking net. As entertaining as those interactions were that shows the lighthearted  part of what OBJ deals with. The other side of that coin is when he plays bad or his team loses the scrutiny he gets is far greater than for most players.

This whole boat scandal were Odell & his fellow receiver’s went to Miami and were hanging out before their playoff game had absolutely nothing to do with the Giants losing to the Packers this past Sunday. But when you are Odell & you are known for spectacular catches & you have a sub-par game, where you also happened to drop some passes. The world is going to look at that trip & say you weren’t focused, you didn’t really want to win. As sad as that is that is the pressure Odell has put on himself with his amazing performances.

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Terell Owens (left) Chad Ocho Cinco (right)

History

Whether it’s the touchdown celebrations, (similar to Ocho Cinco’s in the past) reactions to losing (Similar to Owens) or the ability to break any play into a touchdown. (similar to Desean Jackson) We have seen fellow receiver’s popularity & production grow, & with that growth we’ve seen problems arise with head coaches. There’s a popular feeling in pro sports that talent & winning will outweigh any problems a team may have. However once a player starts to decline or (& this is the big one) a team starts losing those problems become to big and somebody has to be made the scapegoat for why the team is not performing at a high level. I want to make this clear this is where OBJ needs to be careful.

History has shown us that the moment a team starts losing and they have one of the “primadonna” receivers on your team they will be blamed for chemistry issues and being selfish. We’ve seen it numerous times with T.O. & just recently with Desean Jackson & the Eagles. The fans and media believe it because the wide receiver culture is a selfish one by nature. Even though they are the only players on a team that have to depend on someone else getting them involved in a play & they still may not get thrown the ball when all that happens.

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Taking hold of your actions

When it’s all said & done OBJ can go down the T.O. & Ocho path & get blackballed by the league when they deem him not worthy of the problems. Or he can go down the Desean Jackson path. D-Jax realized what Philly was trying to do to him & has been much more mature on & off the field with Washington that he has shed a lot of that scrutiny he had prior to his arrival.

OBJ has all the talent to become a top 5 receiver of all time. He just needs to be aware of what’s at stake. Your legacy, not to mention you haven’t even signed your big money contract yet & we’ve seen the Giants already try to throw him under the bus. Teams will hold maturity over your head when it comes to how much guaranteed money they’ll be giving you.

Odell take control, & prove all the doubters wrong.