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  • Published: Jun 14th, 2015
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J.R. Smith is the key to a Cavs win.

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JR Smith

NOTE: Friday on NNR Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports and I discussed Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

On Friday I suggested that J.R. Smith couldn’t hit pavement if he fell off a building. That is true. However, if the Cavs are going to win game 5, Smith has to find his range. He has playoff experience and averaged 12.7 points and 42.5 shot percentage in the regular season.

Head coach David Blatt has to give the Cavs starters some rest. However, he has to have better timing. His decision to take LeBron James out at the start of the 4th quarter was a huge mistake. The Cavs had just taken back the momentum and had closed the score from more than a dozen to 3 points. Without LeBron in the lineup, the Warriors quickly rebuilt the lead to 12 before LeBron was back in the game.

Blatt also needs to try James Jones and Shawn Marion. Jones can score and Marion plays pretty good defense. They need to contribute if the Cavs expect to have enough energy to win games 5 and 6.

The series is tied 2-2 but the Cavs loss in Game 4 is a huge factor. To have any chance to win, the Cavs must win game 5. The extra rest between games has to help them get back to the great defense they played in the first 3 games. If they do win today, they have a great shot to take the title. If not, it is going to be a long hard road up hill all the way.

That is what I think. Tell us what you think by commenting here or tweeting me @NNRonDSN.

NOTE: News, Notes and Rumors podcast are BACK. Check out our thoughts on Fridays about the games coming up and Monday on the results of the weekend. My co-host is Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports. Podcasts can be heard on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/. Thanks for your support.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/. Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts. You can hear the previous shows on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/.

He also edits http://fryingpanpolitics.org/.

To keep up with the News, Notes & Rumors podcasts, follow me on twitter @NNRonDSN.

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Previewing the NBA Draft

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NBA Draft

This preview will deal with the top 20 picks. Anyone that has watched the NBA draft over the last few years realizes that the last 10 picks in the first round are a crap shoot at best. The analysis here is a combination of what I think the teams will do and what they should do based on their needs.

This year’s draft is deeper than any in the last few years but there is a significant drop off after the 20th player. Look for the bottom 10 to take a lot of foreign players. The top teams in the league are often looking to draft a future player that can develop overseas for a couple of years without costing the team a roster spot or big money. That is particularly true this season because of the potential labor issue coming up in the near future.

1. Washington

Without doubt, John Wall PG Kentucky will be the choice. Some are saying he is the best player to come out since Kevin Durant. I don’t think so. Durant is a well rounded player that gets rebounds, assists and points. Wall will help a weak O develop some consistency.

2. Philadelphia

The 76ers will have D on the floor next season with Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday. None of them are NBA scorers. Some think the team will go with Cousins but my pick here is the most refined O player in the draft–Evan Turner SG Ohio State. He can create his own shot and draw doubles to dish off to an open player.

3. New Jersey

Derrick Favors PF Georgia Tech should be the pick here unless the team trades out of the spot. NJ was the worst team in the league last year with a ton of cap space. If they can get 2 or 3 vets in a deal for this spot they will take the trade in a New Jersey second. Favors has the physical style that the team needs on D and will be a consistent scorer.

4. Minnesota

The Timberwolves are trying to move up to get Turner. They won’t be able to. So they will go for another more mature wing scorer–Wesley Johnson SF Syracuse. Johnson is 22 and will be reunited with Jonny Flynn.

5. Sacramento

DeMarcus Cousins PF/C Kentucky is the picture of inconsistent play. He disappears for stretches of a game. But the team needs an athletic big man and he is the best of that category. He is a 1 and done guy that they will have to find a way to light a fire under to get the production that they expect from the 5th pick.

6. Golden State

Greg Monroe PF Georgetown is a perimeter PF that is more finesse than physical. He can’t help the team with rebounding on the wing. But he has great “upside” and that is what will get him picked here.

7. Detroit

Al-Farouq Aminu SF Wake Forest will probably be the pick here but I am wondering why. He can’t shoot beyond 6 ft. He is raw as steak tartar but he is athletic and has potential. That is what gets coaches fired faster than anything else.

8. L.A. Clippers

Ekpe Udoh PF Baylor has shot up the draft charts in recent weeks. He is a shot blocking specialist that will score and rebound. I project he will end up being a better player than Monroe or Aminu.

9. Utah (From New York via Phoenix)

There is a noticeable drop off between the top 8 and 9 through about 15. This is where the projecting gets a lot more difficult. I predict that Utah will take Cole Aldrich C Kansas. They need another big man to go with Paul Millsap because Carlos Boozer is a UFA and will leave. Aldrich is more physical than Millsap and will let the latter move to F.

10. Indiana

The Pacers would love to trade this pick for a proven vet PG. They don’t have a true starting quality PG on the roster and they will likely lose starting G Earl Watson to free agency. They have the 40th pick and might go PG there because there are no PGs rated high enough to be taken here. I’ll project Ed Davis PF North Carolina. He is a “2 and done” guy that looks better than he plays. He has talent but didn’t get it done on the floor for NC. Some are projecting Eric Bledsoe PG/SG Kentucky but he is not a true PG either.

11. New Orleans

NO would probably take Davis if he is on the board. If not they could go for Luke Babbitt SF/PF Nevada. He is a solid scorer and has the size and strength to play the 4 with the quickness to play the 3.

12. Memphis

The Griz could use a PG but like Indy is not likely to take one here. PG Mike Conley has not been bad but has not developed the way the team hoped having taken him with the 4th pick in 07. The big question is what will they do with RFA Rudy Gay? I predict they will resign him to play SF and go with Xavier Henry SG Kansas. That could move O.J. Mayo to PG. Henry is 6-6 and has an NBA body and good shooting range.

13. Toronto

Avery Bradley SG Texas is the choice here. At 6-3 180 he is a SG in the body of a PG but has great athleticism, body control and above average shooting range. He can play the PG on D but will let either Jarrett Jack or Sonny Weems bring the ball up the court.

14. Houston

There are a lot of possibilities here. The team might be interested in a C (in case they lose Yao Ming) or SG but the ones they like are gone. I think they go for Gordon Hayward SF Butler. He had a great tournament but he is athletically limited and can struggle to get his own shot. I think he will be a marginal player at best at the next level.

15. Milwaukee (From Chicago)

Patrick Patterson PF Kentucky could be the pick here but a SF could also be the choice. He doesn’t have the size to be a true 4 but doesn’t have the quickness to play the 3. He can shoot and they will need more scoring if they lose SG Michael Redd and the rest of the UFAs on the team.

16. Minnesota (From Denver via Charlotte)

A guy I like better than Patterson is Stanley Robinson SF UConn. He is a true SF with the quicks to play that on both ends of the floor. He is an above average athlete that worked hard on his 3 point accuracy. Most experts have him going later but I like him quite a bit.

17. Chicago (From Milwaukee)

The only question here is who can they pick that will be the biggest draw to bring LeBron James to the windy city? The problem for the Bulls is that they have a couple of limited big men in the starting lineup. PF Taj Gibson is not as athletic as you would like and C Joakim Noah is a head case of the first order. They should be looking for someone like Larry Sanders PF/C VCU. He is a physical blue collar guy that brings it every game. Instead they will probably go for James Anderson SG Oklahoma State. Anderson is a sharp shooting wing man that will protect them if they can’t get LJ and will open up the lane for Derrick Rose.

18. Miami

The rumor is that SG Dwayne Wade will go where ever LJ goes. If LJ goes to Chicago, Wade may not be able to follow. Either way, despite the fact that he has a player option to stay, he will go somewhere. That leaves a BIG hole at SG and the Heat will likely take Eric Bledsoe PG/SG Kentucky. The only problem is that he is too small to play SG on the D end of the floor. He does have a great stroke and will help replace the scoring if Wade goes.

19. Boston

During the finals, the old legs of the Celtics bigs showed. They need to get some young bigs that can stay with quicker opponents. For that reason, I think that Solomon Alabi C Florida St. will be the pick. Alabi has a couple of years under his belt at FSU and is a shot blocker. He needs a lot of coaching on the O end of the floor.

20. San Antonio

The Spurs need a wing man because Richard Jefferson has not worked out. They really like experienced players and will pick Damion James SF Texas. He is a 4 year guy with grit and toughness. He will fit nicely in the Spurs O and help on D.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA Draft,College Basketball,NBA Finals,Celtics,Lakers,Bulls,Heat,Spurs,mock draft,Kentucky,Ohio State
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Sports Buffet for 06/15/10

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SptsBuf

NFL

The lower round rookies are beginning to sign. The deals are too scattered to give you a good analysis but look for the top picks to have some extended holdouts. The league ownership is in a penny pinching mood. The best indication of that is the fact that none of the usual sources have the financial data on the rookie deals. Given the concern over what the next CBA might look like and the economy still being in the tank, owners won’t quickly let the agents talk them into big increases over last year.

The RFAs are also signing. Today, the teams have the option of lowering any unsigned RFA to 110 percent of the salary the player made last year. In most cases the teams will do this for those players that they consider reserves or not critical to their long term plans.

NBA

The Celtics lead in the finals now 3-2. It is hard to get a handle on this series because each team looks unbeatable in one game but then lays an egg in the next one. While some of the differences in the games is due to injuries and foul trouble. But that can not explain it all.

I wonder if Boston has one more effort like Game 2 in them. If they lose tonight, they will not win the series.

MLB

The Yankees have clawed their way back into a tie for the lead in the AL East. They were helped by the Rays going 5-5 over the last 10 games. Boston has started to play a little better and is only 4 games behind.

Texas is hanging in the lead in the AL Weak. The Angels are just one game behind. Neither of them are playing well enough to worry any of the AL East teams come playoff time.

Atlanta had a 4.5 game lead last week but went 5-5 in the last 10 to allow the Mets to sneak back to just a game and a half back. The Phillies are still not playing well and have to face the Yankees this week in inter-league games.

Cincy and St. Louis are still in a tight race for 1st in the NL Central. The Padres, Dodgers and Giants are grouped together like peas in a pod in the NL West.

College football

For a while the Big 12-2 was on life support. But the keystone team–Texas–decided to stay and that kept the league together despite losing Nebraska to the Big 10+2 and Colorado to the Pac10+1. They key was MONEY!! Imagine that! The Big 12-2 promised Texas that they could have their own network deal and that saved the conference. There is a good chance that both the Big 12-2 and the Pac10+1 will add teams in the near future. Look for TCU and 1 other team (possibly Houston or Tulsa) to get an invitation to the Big 12 and Utah to get a ticket to play in the Pac 10.

The bottom line here is that college football has not changed all that much. I predicted that Texas would not join another conference months ago when the Big 10 was romancing it.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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Is there a teeny tiny silver lining on the Dark Cloud over the Cavs?

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Lebron

The NBA Finals are going on. The NHL finals are on. And what is everyone talking about? Where will LeBron James be playing next season?

Everybody is talking to cab drivers that may or may not have given LeBron a ride to the airport to find out where he will sign. Don’t trust the rumors from cab drivers. If Cavs fans are going to go out on a limb all the way to the leaf stems, let’s do it at least with some logic.

My daughter is a great sports fan and always has some unique insights into the events of sports. In a conversation today, she came up with one very small thin silver lining on the dark cloud of LeBron’s free agency for Cavs fans.

In his one statement since the team’s season ended so abruptly, LeBron said that he would make a decision that would be the best for him and his family. So what might influence that decision?

The question that Kristina posed to me was what parent wouldn’t want to make the lives of their children better than their own childhood? The answer is clearly every parent wants the best for their children.

LeBron’s childhood was marked by moving around a lot. That was one thing that made his childhood very difficult. Now if he stays his wife and kids will avoid being uprooted. That would not only allow him to avoid for his kids the issues he faced as a child but would give Cav fans something about which to cheer. Frankly, that makes more sense than anything I have heard up to now as a basis upon which LeBron will make his decision.

Besides, where else could LeBron be the star player, head coach and general manager all at the same time? There is no question that owner Gilbert is all in over LeBron. Gilbert knows that the value of his team will fall from 400M to 280M without LeBron. Finally we have a financial crash that Washington D.C. had nothing to do with!!! Gilbert has cleared the decks of anyone that even though about giving LeBron a dirty look. Coach Brown? History! GM Ferry? Gone! The latest rumor is that Gilbert has offered Michigan State coach Izzo. Some media types are saying that Izzo is Gilbert’s choice not LeBron’s. Make no mistake–No coach will get an offer or an interview without the official LeBron Seal of Approval.

Don’t hold your breath about Izzo leaving a very comfortable job he can have for life to come to Cleveland. It is not likely to happen. In fact, it is very unlikely that any name brand coach will agree to come to Cleveland until LeBron is signed by the Cavs. However, LeBron will be unlikely to sign until he knows who the coach will be.

But even if he stays, the 2009-10 roster is not capable of winning a title. The Cavs need an athletic big man that can defend the pick and roll. They also need a reliable second scorer. Even the GREAT Michael Jordan needed Pipen to begin to win titles. LeBron needs a #2 guy.

There are a few things that Gilbert can do to get some help for LeBron. Cleveland is not going to ever be a mecca for top free agents even with LeBron under contract. The only choice that Gilbert has is to trade for either a veteran player under contract or a high draft choice. In both cases the player would have to come to Cleveland. In either case, Gilbert is going to have to give up more than just Mo Williams, Delonte West and his 1st pick. He is likely going to have to give away some of the young talent like J.J. Hickson or Anderson Varejao. The team is also likely to get stuck with a VERY bad contract in order to get a deal done.

Most of all, they need a coach to implement an O–any old O will do. Brown was a D coach but way too often, there was little D to show for it.

The O of the Cavs worked great when it went though Shaq. It worked great when it went through Jamison. When it was LeBron with the ball and the other 4 guys standing around watching him, the O died. Hopefully any new coach will realize that and not let it happen again on a regular basis.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: Cavs,NBA Finals,NHL Finals,LeBron James,Gilbert,Izzo,Michael Jordan,Pipen,Varejao,West,Brown,Ferry
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Sports Buffet for 06/03/10

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SptsBuf

NFL

The Browns have announced that Hall of Fame RB Jim Brown and WR Paul Warfield will no longer serve as an advisers to owner Randy Lerner. Given the history of the Browns since the team returned in 1999, the leadership of the team needs all the advice they can get. Both will be missed.

Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger’s biggest test of the suspension is not now going back with the team and participating in the OTAs. The biggest test will be how he completes what the league has asked him to do to reduce the suspension from 6 games to 4. The other half of that test will be how he behaves or misbehaves during the time from the end of the last preseason game until he gets reinstated by the league. Under NFL rules he can have no contact with the team at all during that time except for medical staff as prescribed by the terms of the suspension. If he has another incident like the ones that got him suspended in the past, there could be games added to his “unpaid leave.”

The talk around Dolphin land at their OTA last weekend was all about the passing game. QB Chad Henne has developed nicely after replacing Chad Pennington in 09. The one thing that he needs to improve on in 2010 is his TD to Int ratio. In 09 he threw 12 TDs but 14 picks. He looked even better in the OTAs. However, a lot of “want to be” guys look good in shorts.

Eagle CB Marlin Jackson is out for the season after rupturing an Achilles tendon in the team’s OTA. The team signed Jackson from the Colts to start despite his ending the 09 season on the IR.

Packer CB Al Harris is behind schedule on his recovery from knee surgery that ended his 09 season. He was expected to participate in the OTA last week but is still on the sideline.

Ram S Oshiomogho Atogwe did not sign his tender with the team. On June 1 the Rams could have increased their offer to 7M to keep their exclusive rights for him. They did not. Atogwe is now an unrestricted free agent but the Rams are still hoping they can come to a long term contract with him. He has a history of being a ball hawk. The only question is how much in this economy is he worth. The Packers and Vikings are teams that might be interested.

Lion RB Kevin Smith is not ready to participate in OTAs and will likely start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Players on that list do not count against the roster limits but only qualify if they are hurt away from football or from an injury in the previous season. Players that are on the PUP on the final cutdown day may not be activated until after week 6.

NBA

Game 1 of the Finals goes tonight. The 2-3-2 format puts the stress most on the Celtics. To win the title, in my opinion, they must win one of the first 2 games. The latest on injuries indicates that Celtics PG Rondo will play and is 85-90% while C Perkins is OK. For the Lakers C Bynum is as good as he can be expected to be with his knee problem. He had more than 70 ccs of liquid taken out of the knee on Monday.

MLB

Tampa Bay continues to lead the AL East by 2.5 games over the Yankees. The secret has been a 21-6 record on the road. As long as the pitching holds up, the Rays could be in the race for the duration.

The Twins have built a 3.5 game lead in the AL Central over the Tigers. The Twinkies have been helped by the Tigers going 3-7 over the last 10.

The Rangers lead the AL West but both the As and Angels are coming on. The Rangers were 4-6 over the last 10 while both their pursuers were 6-4.

The two best races in MLB are in the NL. The Central and West divisions are both tight. The Reds and Cards have been trading leads in the Central for a couple of weeks. Last night the Cards beat Cincy 4-1 to climb back into a tie. The Padres have the best mark in the NL with a 32-21 record but only lead the Dodgers by 1 game in the West.

The Tigers traded former All Star P Dontrelle Willis to the Diamondbacks for P Billy Buckner and cash. The Tigers will pay all but the prorated remaining part a minimum veteran contract for Willis in 2010. Despite being a big dollar FA signing in 2008, he has only be able to start 22 games for the Tigers. In 2010 he had a 4.98 ERA and was 1-2 for Detroit.

NHL

The Flyers got back into the finals series with a 4-3 OT win yesterday. The key for Philly will be to win game 4 at home then take game 5 at Chicago. Otherwise, they could be in trouble. The Black Hawks are a lot deeper than the Flyers. As the series goes on, that should give them a real advantage.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NBA,NHL,MLB,NBA Finals,NHL Finals,Browns,Eagles,Rams,Lions,UFA,Atogwe,Brown,Roethlisberger,Steelers,Dolphins,Colts,Jackson,Packers,Vikings,Celtics,Lakers,Bynum,Rondo,Perkins,Rays,Twins,Rangers,Tigers,Angels,As,Reds,Cardinals,trades,Willis,Diamondbacks,Black Hawks,Flyers
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Comments on the NBA and NHL finals.

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nba

NBA

Game 1 will tip off Thursday. That gives the “old” Celtics time to recover from injuries to PG Rajon Rondo and C Kendrick Perkins. The schedule of the Finals will allow more rest than the Celtics to play at a very high level of energy.

One thing that came out of the last game against game against the Magic was the outstanding performance by the diminutive PG Nate Robinson. Robinson had not played much in the post season but came off the bench to replace Rondo and scored 13 point, got 2 rebounds and a steal.

The Lakers have some injury issues of their own. C Andrew Bynum had fluid removed from his right knee which has given him trouble for most of his career.

The format of the finals gives the team with home court advantage an additional benefit. With the 2-3-2 format, the team without HC advantage usually struggles to win all 3 games on their court.

Keys to the series:

1. The biggest key is who is going to stop Rondo from controlling the Celtic O. When he has been distributing the ball and driving to the hoop, the team has been unbeatable. He has averaged nearly 17 points and 10 assists per game in the playoffs. The Magic didn’t have an answer for Rondo and neither did the Cavs. The biggest question who gets the assignment to stop Rondo?

Laker PG Fisher is not nearly quick enough to slow Rondo. Bryant would be another prospect but by spending his energy on the D end of the floor could hurt his scoring. The backup Gs on the team are not known for their D. One possibility would be Ron Artest. When he feels like doing the job he is an effective defender but is not as quick as Rondo.

2. Which Kevin Garnett will show up? When he is on, the Celtics are really active on the O side of the floor. But at 34 he takes some quarters off. He can not do that against the Lakers and expect the Celtics to win.

nhlogo

NHL

In the first 2 games, the Flyers have outplayed the Black Hawks but come up short twice on the scoreboard. Now the series goes back to Philly and we will see if the Hawks can shake off the cobwebs to play at the level they have in previous series.

If the Flyers win the games at home convincingly, expect them to steal one in Chicago and win the series. The Hawks need to win one in Philly to prove to themselves as well as the opponents. If not, the Flyers could well win the championship.

The first two games were as different as they could be. Game 1 looked like an NBA All star game where nobody even tried to play D in a 6-5 win for Chicago. Game 2 was much better hockey and ended up 2-1. Expect the games in Philly to look a lot more like the 2-1 game than the 6-5 game.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: NHL,NBA,NHL Finals,NBA Finals,Boston Celtics,Lakers,Rondo,Bynam,Garnett,Fisher,Artest,Black Hawks,Flyers,NBA All Star Game
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