/ NBA / Who wins Round 3 of Golden State-Cleveland?

The Combine Report: Week Six - Dunbar Filled Large Shoes, Hall Scored His First TD

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

Filling in for a Pro Bowl caliber player in the NFL is a blessing… and a curse.

The blessing is that a player gets the opportunity to perform, but the curse involves the high expectations to excel. If the player succeeds, all parties involved are rewarded.

 

 

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The Combine Report: Week Six Preview: Rams WR Mike Thomas Returns, RC Pioneers Will Clash

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

After being suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season due to violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances, wide receiver Mike Thomas returns to the field with his spirited Los Angeles Rams teammates and looks to add to the explosiveness the receiving corps already has offensively.

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Mike Thomas/Google Images

The Combine Report: Week Five - NFL Regional Combine Veterans Played Their Roles Valiently

All NFL Regional Combine pioneers play a role. And no matter their role…large or small…these players execute their duties well enough to make their teams competitive. Week Five of the NFL was no exception.

 

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Cody Davis/therams.com

The Combine Report: Week Five Preview - A Combine Series Tandem Brewing In Jacksonville

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

Week Four of the NFL was totally owe by the kicking specialists from the NFL Regional Combine. Kicker Greg Zuerlein kept the Los Angeles Rams up right after nailing seen field goal attempts through the uprights, while Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus help to keep the game out of reach for the Oakland Raiders.

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The Combine Report: Week Four - Rams' RC Veteran Kicking Specialists Are Special

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

Kickers are like life preservers. Life preservers can’t run the ship, but they can save the people on the ship. Punter Johnny Hekker and kicker Greg Zuerlein, Los Angeles Rams kicking specialists and NFL Regional Combine …

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Rams Kicking Specialist/therams.com

The Combine Report: Week Four Preview - Browns Rookie LB B.J. Bello Earning More Time

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

Unfortunately, it has been the same old song for the Cleveland Browns, especially when it comes to defense. They play hard to keep contests close, but fizzle at the end. Evidently, there is talent in “the Land” on the defense side of the ball from the likes of linebacker Jamie Collins Sr., cornerback Jamar Taylor and safety and return specialist Jabrill Peppers to name a few.

Rookie linebacker B.J. Bello could be in the mix too.

Bello is a hybrid linebacker with a combination of athleticism, speed, aggression and patience. After his under the radar collegiate career at Illinois State, following a transfer from Illinois, he burst onto the NFL Regional Combine scene at the Minnesota-held trials in February.

The 6-2, 229-pound linebacker never lacked confidence, just opportunity. When the Browns signed him as an undrafted rookie, Bello excelled during camps and his progress showed in the preseason as he registered four tackles and a sack.

The Browns recognized Bello’s efforts and made him part of the 53-man roster. He was primarily on special teams and earned three tackles. Against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3, Bello made it onto the field with the defense and was close to bringing down ball carriers twice.

“Since the age of six, playing in the yard, I wanted to play in the NFL,” said Bello via conversation. “To actually be here now is a dream come true.”

In Week Four, assuming he will fill some spots defensively, Bello could register more numbers.

“This is a great opportunity, man. To be with this organization, the only thing I can do is get better,” voiced Bello.

CHICAGO BEARS (1-2) VS. GREEN BAY PACKERS (2-1)

The Bears gave up nearly double-digit yards in punt returns. Packers return specialist Trevor Davis returned a punt for a touchdown in Week One of the preseason and had a return for 33 yards in Week Three.

Davis is getting close.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Combine Report: Week Three – RC Talents Were Radical In Protest And Played Ball

 

Will Thursday be the night that the second year-man from California and the 2016 RC session in New Orleans take it to the house?

One thing for sure, Bears defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris is looking to get his hands on some Packers, as he has two tackles and a pass defense this season.

LOS ANGELES RAMS (2-1) VS. DALLAS COWBOYS (2-1)

Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is bringing havoc to opposing quarterbacks with his furious pass rush. Fellow defensive end Benson Mayowa is causing problems as well.

Mayowa is nearly on every play when the Cowboys defensive front bears down on quarterbacks. With five tackles already this season, Mayowa should bring his total to double digits against the Rams.

Field positioning will be the key for the Rams.  They have one of the best punters in the NFL in Johnny Hekker to assist and kicker Greg Zuerlein to help keep things interesting.

Hekker is fourth in the league in net average yards with 44.6 per attempt, while Zuerlein is tied at the top of the NFL with 12 field goals and remains perfect.

Rams defensive back Cody Davis is quietly becoming known for his hard hitting. Against America’s team, in front of a national audience, Davis will have another stage to show that trait.

THE RC RUN-THROUGH

 

  • After a controversial week of standing for the national anthem against the team’s plan, Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva is looking to steam roll over some Baltimore Ravens, create lanes for the backfield and give quarterback Ben Roethlisberger the time he needs to lead the club. Punter Jordan Berry will keep the Ravens deep in their territory, and the Steelers will need him to.

 

  • Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen is on pace to earn his first 1,000 yard season. The Detroit Lions’ defense will key on wide receiver Stefan Diggs, and Thielen will burn them.

 

  • As rookie wide receiver Keelan Cole continues to prove his worth, the Jacksonville Jaguars will continue to make him a target, as they will fullback Tommy Bohanon who is exploiting his catching skills this season. Against the New York Jets, they will continue their growth. Nevertheless, either player may meet linebacker Julian Stanford, another RC brother.

 

  • Oakland Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts has been quiet for the past two weeks. He should make some noise against division rival Denver Broncos.

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The Combine Report: Week Three - RC Talents Were Radical In Protest, And Played Ball

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

Week Three of the NFL was…well…interesting, to say the least.

While many more players knelt during the National Anthem, one player in particular, although sensitive to the issues, proudly stood because his heart would not allow him to bow to controversy.

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Alejandro Villaneuva/Google Images

The Combine Report: Week Three Preview - Offensive RC Pioneers Look To Get Back On Track

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

Week Two of the NFL was exciting as defensive players from the NFL Regional Combine stole the show with huge hits and many stops. This week, the athletes on the other side of the ball will be expecting to be let loose.

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Seth Roberts/Raiders.com

The Combine Report: Week Two - Defensive RC Talents Aggressively Attacked

The NFL Regional Combine talents were sharp on the defense in Week Two. Several squads wanted to make amends for Week One. Many put their “best foot forward” via their shoulder pads as hitting was the name of the game for the RC defensive standouts.

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Cody Davis/therams.com

The Combine Report: Week Two Preview - Will RB Penny Elijhaa Get To Face Regular Season Action?

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

The Week Two of the NFL is shaping up to feature some solid intrigue among the NFL Regional Combine pioneers. Several players turned out and had strong performances in Week One. And Week Two should be no different.

 

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Elijhaa Penny/Google Images

Who wins Round 3 of Golden State-Cleveland?

Sean Tehan on June 1, 2017 - 11:55 am in NBA
5 (100%) 1 vote

By: Kevin Cunningham, Feature Writer

What am I missing?       

Everyone and their mother are picking Golden State to win this year’s NBA Finals. Las Vegas favors the Warriors. The media favors the Warriors. So, what am I missing?

I won’t reveal my pick right off the bat (of course you can just scroll down to see), but, maybe I’m not understanding something. The math equation involving Golden State and its roster isn’t a simple one.

The Warriors won 73 games a year ago and led the Cleveland Cavaliers 3-1 after four games. From that point on, we all know what happened. So, if those Warriors add Kevin Durant – a top-five player in the league – how can they lose?

I believe that is the simple math that people are using. For one, I get it. Superstars rule the NBA. One A+ level player is worth much more than five B+ level players – just ask the Boston Celtics.

But what people leave out of the Warriors’ math equation is the fact that their team got gutted. Durant wasn’t added for free. Yes, he serves as an upgrade to Harrison Barnes, no question about it.

But, what about Andrew Bogut? What about Festus Ezeli? What about Anderson Varejao? What about Leandro Barbosa? What about Marreese Speights?

You may laugh at some of those names, but four of the five of them played in Game 7 a year ago. The one that didn’t, Andrew Bogut, was the most valuable loss. That’s something people tend to forget about last year’s finals. Once Bogut went down, Golden State went down with him.

Want to beat the best player in the world? You need a rim protector. At least make it difficult for LeBron James to get into the paint and finish. Put a little bit of fear into him.

It doesn’t have to be a Kevin Garnett waiting for him just below the free throw line. It can be an Andrew Bogut. It can be a Roy Hibbert, even. Just put a little fear in him.

Back to the math equation         

Golden State lost a lot of its key role players by adding Kevin Durant, but that’s not even the biggest issue. They lost big, tough guys like Bogut, Ezeli and Speights.

What does that mean? The Warriors, who are a finesse team to begin with, lost their ridiculous bench from a year ago, making them the most complete team in the league and helping guide them to 73 wins. But don’t forget – they have now lost their toughness inside.

You have to have a rim protector to at least deter LeBron from entering the lane at will. Whether he finishes successfully or kicks it out to an open 3-point shooter because the defense is forced to collapse on him, it’s nearly impossible to beat the Cavaliers in a seven-game series without a rim protector.

Golden State doesn’t have that this year. They’re not a better team than they were a season ago. They have a more explosive offense in its starting five, but they’re not a more complete team.

They lost the best bench in the league and they lost legitimate, quality big men in Bogut, Ezeli and Speights while adding Durant. Durant’s great, don’t get me wrong. And, with adding the potential future all-time leader in scoring in NBA history, your offense gets better.

Golden State has enough firepower to blow through the daunted (sarcasm) Western Conference. I mean, we saw them do it. They went 12-0. A healthy Kawhi Leonard would have made the Spurs series more interesting, but, c’mon. Everyone favored the Warriors regardless.

My point is, Golden State has the best team by a mile. The exception is of course when you add the Cavaliers into the mix. You need a rim protector to beat LeBron in a seven-game series and the Warriors just don’t have one.

X-factor

I’ll make this point quick: JaVale McGee could very well be the x-factor in this series. Why? He could – athletically anyway – put some fear into LeBron. He won’t completely stop the best player in the league for the last 10 years once he gets into the paint, but he could make things more difficult, which is all Golden State’s incredible offense could need.

Cavaliers

I’ll move onto the Cavaliers now and I’ll keep it brief. LeBron is playing the best basketball we’ve ever seen him play. He is more comfortable now than he ever has been. Heck, he’s even shooting the three-ball at over 36 percent.

Quick MVP Rant

By the way, that 36 percent beats out James Harden’s 34 percent this season. The NBA MVP talks were hilarious. Harden’s better than LeBron? Funny. I loved watching Harden turn the ball over more than anybody ever has in a single season in NBA history.

Russell Westbrook? I loved watching his team manufacture him rebounds so he could average this imaginary triple double the media made up to make the case that a game was sensationally great. Westbrook turned the ball over this year the second-highest amount in NBA history, too. The efficiency comparison isn’t even close when comparing others to LeBron.

Finally, there’s Kawhi Leonard. Leonard’s fantastic on both the offensive and defensive end, no questions asked. He’s probably the second-best player in the league right now. But, why isn’t he better than LeBron?

I’ll keep it simple. LeBron averaged a career-high 8.7 assists per game this year. He makes other players better, which is never, ever talked about enough. Leonard? He averaged 3.5 assists per game.

Career-wise, he averages 2.3 assists per game. Leonard’s fantastic, but he doesn’t make others better and it’s not even close.

Back to the Cavs

                Kyrie Irving said it best when he said (and I’m paraphrasing here), this is the best team I’ve played with and probably the best I’ll ever play with.

Let’s just take a look at how this Cavs roster is made up. They have the best player in the league, Irving and Kevin Love. Again, you can just ask the Celtics how Irving and Love are playing right now. They’re playing their best basketball of their respective careers.

So, we’ve got three A-level players in Cleveland with LeBron, Irving and Love. All of which by the way, can shoot the three-ball.

J.R. Smith? Can shoot the three. Kyle Korver? Can shoot the three. Richard Jefferson? Can shoot the three. Deron Williams? Can shoot the three. Iman Shumpert? Can shoot the three. Channing Frye? Can shoot the three. We can even throw in Derrick Williams and James Jones if you want to – they can shoot the three.

Notice a pattern here? If not, well, I don’t know what to tell you. Oh, and then there’s Tristan Thompson, who just completely owns the boards alongside Kevin Love.

We have LeBron playing his best basketball ever with two other A-level players right now and a plethora of 3-point shooters to kick the ball out to for open shots. This Cavaliers team is as good as it gets from top to bottom.

They’re better than Golden State in just about every aspect because of the amount of 3-point shooters they do possess. Remember, Golden State shot 38.3 percent from three this season. Cleveland shot 38.4 percent.

Again, Golden State got better offensively in its starting lineup with Durant. But, they lost out on what you need to beat LeBron and all of these shooters in a seven-game series.

The Warriors need McGee to step up. Seriously. Zaza Pachulia and David West at his ancient age aren’t going to deter LeBron from attacking the paint. An insanely athletic McGee can at least make things more difficult.

Final Hot Take

People love to assume Andre Iguodala keeps LeBron from going wild and can somewhat keep him in check. I mean, everybody knows one player can’t stop LeBron, but there are guys that make things more difficult. Iguodala just isn’t one of the incredibly select few.

Just look back to last year’s NBA Finals. Iguodala was healthy for each and every game at the age of 32. LeBron averaged 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists per game a season ago against him.

That’s not stopping LeBron and that doesn’t look like slowing him down to me. Iguodala is now 33-years-old. He’s not slowing him down this year, either.

 

Cavaliers in 6

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