"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

NBA NIGHTMARE: WHAT IF GOLDEN STATE AND CLEVELAND BOTH GO DOWN?

Should the NBA Be Worried? With last night's victory, Oklahoma City is within a game of eliminating the leader in regular season wins, the defending champs and the two-time MVP. Talk about your upsets. Although the series is far from over, the Warriors are looking like they might just lay a Golden State egg. A team whose place in history has been debated almost all season might just put that argument to rest with one more loss to the Thunder. Is it possible for them to come up with some answer to OKC and extend the series? Probably, but history isn't on their side. A bigger concern has to be the mediocre play of MVP Steph Curry, who doesn't appear to me to be playing at full strength. His 6 for 20 shooting, with just two three-pointers in ten attempts, has to be a huge issue for coach Steve Kerr and the rest of the team. The Thunder beat the Warriors by a collective 52 points in the two games in Oklahoma City. That's consecutive beat downs of a ream that most thought would be challenged, but still emerge as the Western Conference champion. But Golden State has been here before. In last year's Finals, they found themselves down two games to one against Cleveland and won three in a row to win the title. There area a couple of key differences this time. First, Oklahoma City is healthy, with two weapons that are hitting on all cylinders. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 62 points in game 4 and it doesn't appear that Golden State has an answer for the tandem. In last year's Finals, the Cavs were attempting to ride Lebron James for two more victories and he just ran out of steam. Second, the Warriors are getting dominated on both ends of the floor. It's one thing to compete and lose close games, but these games are absolute blowouts. Usually a team could look at a 3 - 1 deficit and convince themselves that if a few plays went their way, perhaps the situation could be the reverse. Unless Golden State is fooling itself, there's no way they can think they are anywhere close to as good as the Thunder are at this point.

Now we head to the Eastern Conference, where the Cleveland Cavaliers saw their ten-game playoff winning streak come to a screeching halt in Toronto. Losing on the road isn't a disgrace, especially after coming back from 18 points down to take a couple of fourth quarter leads. I think the Cavs' problems are much more fixable than the Warriors, especially if Lebron decides to take over the game when his team needs it. I also doubt that Irving and Love will continue to shoot poorly, so with a win tonight in Cleveland, all might be right in northern Ohio. However, if Toronto's guards, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan continue to combine for 60+ points, the Cavs could be in real trouble. It appears that Cleveland's rookie head coach Tryon Lue is choking a bit under the pressure. Instead of sticking to the formula that resulted in that early playoff run, he seems to be reacting to situation by making changes that probably aren't necessary. The problem there is that he runs the risk of losing credibility with Lebron James and that could affect the chemistry that the Cavs had worked so hard to develop over the course of the second half of the season. Kevin Love's offensive difficulties also could jeopardize the trust that James has come to show in him. We'll see tonight how they respond.

Are we looking at a Finals that pits the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Toronto Raptors? If so, shouldn't commissioner Adam Silver and the owners be a bit concerned? As dynamic as the four stars that would be on display are, the Raptors play in Canada and OKC is still a small market team. The NBA is built around star power and the lack of Lebron or Steph will likely result in a ratings disaster. There's really no way the casual fan will find much to be interested in, except perhaps the chance that nice guy Kevin Durant will be able to pick up that elusive title. An OKC - Cleveland matchup would be a great series, as would a Warriors - Cavs rematch. But if the Raptors pull the upset and advance to face OKC, it's just difficult for me to envision a lot of national interest.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.