2019 NBA Conference Finals Preview and Predictions

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The NBA Playoffs are down to the Final Four. Kawhi takes on Giannis for the Eastern Conference title and Damian Lillard and the Blazers will try to dethrone the four time defending Western Conference champion Warriors. Here is my preview and predictions for the Conference Finals.

 

#2 Toronto Raptors @ #1 Milwaukee Bucks (-275)

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The Raptors have advanced to the conference finals and will not have to face Lebron. However, they may face a bigger challenge against Giannis and the NBA’s best team the Milwaukee Bucks. Kawhi has been lights out throughout the playoffs, single handedly carrying the Raptors to the conference finals with some help from Pascal Siakim. However, Kyle Lowry will need to step to ease some of the offensive pressure on Kawhi against one of the NBA’s best defensive teams. Kahwi and Giannis are obviously the two stars, so this series may come down to role players. Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe for the Bucks along with Lowry and Siakim for the Raptors may be the x factors in this series. Both teams have solid depth and good coaching. However, I think coach Mike Budenholzer for Milwaukee has the coaching advantage over first year Raptors coach Nick Nurse. Giannis will be too much to overcome and home court for the Bucks is key. Milwaukee wins a hard-fought series in 7 games.

 

#3 Portland Trail Blazers @ #1 Golden State Warriors (-530)

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With Kevin Durant sidelined due to injury for at least the first two games, this series may very well be a battle of two of the best backcourts in the league. The splash brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will battle Portland’s duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in what should be a very entertaining West Finals. The Warriors have been here five straight times now, while the Blazers are making their first appearance since 2000. I think Lillard and McCollum will not be afraid of the spotlight and will play great for Portland. The key for the Blazers may be the play of big man Enes Kanter, who has filled in nicely during the playoffs for the injured Jusuf Nurkic. However, if Durant returns in this series and is healthy, I think Golden State will simply be too much to overcome. Warriors win in 6 games.

 

Let me know your thoughts and predictions in the comments down below.

-Jeff

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Movie Review: Avengers Endgame (2019)

*WARNING THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*

 

Avengers Endgame is the final movie in the Avengers saga that has spanned over 20 different Marvel movies. We pick up right where Infinity War left off, with Avengers trying to cope with what happened after Thanos used the Infinity Stones to eliminate half of all life. Not much hope exists, until five years later when Antman emerges from the Quantum Realm and informs the Avengers that there may be a way to get everyone back. It is now up to the Avengers to retrieve the stones and undo what Thanos has done to restore order to the universe once and for all.

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Like many previous Marvel movies, I thought Endgame did an amazing job of combining action and comedy with an interesting and well thought out plot. Although they didn’t really explain how time travel was actually possible, once that was established I thought the movie did a great job of navigating through it. I thought it was cool how the Avengers paired up into different teams to travel to different places to retrieve the infinity stones. It was almost like watching a series of mini-movies, and the flashbacks to different points in previous movies was fun to experience as well. Every single character played an important role, which was a great way to build up to the final battle.

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All great movies have great villains and that’s exactly what Thanos is. The final battle at the end of the movie was nothing short of epic. I loved watching Thanos and his army battle each of the Avengers in the ultimate fight for the universe. I found it very interesting to hear Thanos’ new plan – he realized that the half of the universe that survived would never be able to deal with the half that they lost. Therefore, he now wanted the infinity stones to destroy the universe all together and create a new one. What makes Thanos a fascinating villain in my opinion is that he ultimately wants the universe to thrive, but in order to do so he must sacrifice those who are already living.

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Overall, I thought this movie lived up to very high expectations and will go down as one of the most popular movies of all time. They did a great job of wrapping everything in up in a way that was not only satisfying and entertaining, but emotionally moving as well. It will be a very long time before we ever experience a phenomenon like the Avengers again.

MY FINAL RATING: 9.5/10

 

Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below.

-Jeff

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2019 NBA Second Round Preview and Predictions

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Eight teams remain in the quest for an NBA Championship. The Warriors are still alive for their third straight title after getting by the scrappy Clippers. Damian Lillard will look to continue his hot postseason play against Denver. The Celtics and Bucks clash in a rematch of last year’s seven game first round series, and Joel Embiid and the Sixers take on Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors

 

#4 Boston Celtics @ #1 Milwaukee Bucks (-300)

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The Celtics will take on the Bucks for the second straight year in the playoffs, although things are quite different from last year’s matchup. The Celtics were the 2 seed facing off against the 7 seed Bucks in the first round without Kyrie or Gordon Hayward. This time, the Bucks have the NBA’s best record and home court advantage in the series, which was critical for the Celtics to have last year when they won Game 7 at home. The best player in the series is obviously Giannis, and the Celtics will have their hands full trying to defend him. However, the Celtics defense played very well against Indiana in the first round, even without Marcus Smart. Khris Middleton will be the x factor for Milwaukee. Middleton destroyed the Celtics in last year’s playoffs, and will be relied upon as a second option with all the focus on Giannis. Brook Lopez could also be a key factor in this series as a big man that can shoot threes. The Celtics front court will certainly have their hands full. The coaching matchup will be a good one: Brad Stevens vs Mike Budenholzer in a seven game series should be entertaining. I think the Celtics put up a great fight but Milwaukee wins the series in 7 games.

 

#3 Philadelphia 76ers @ #2 Toronto Raptors (-245)

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The Raptors took three out of four against the Sixers during the regular season, and are certainly happy they don’t have to face Lebron James in the playoffs this year. In his first season with Toronto, former Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard will look to bring the Raptors to the promised land. Standing in the way are Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, and the Philadelphia 76ers. Both teams lost Game 1 at home in the first round but responded by winning four straight to advance. The Sixers are looking to reach their first conference finals since “The Process” began. Pascal Siakim has been an emerging star for Toronto this year, but the Raptors will need Kyle Lowry to contribute as well in order to have success as a team. I think Toronto has better chemistry and depth than Philadelphia, which will be the key to the series. Raptors win in 6 games.

 

#4 Houston Rockets @ #1 Golden State Warriors (-255)

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The Rockets and Warriors will meet in the playoffs for the fourth time in five years and first time since the Warriors won Game 7 in Houston last year to win the Western Conference for the fourth straight time. Both Kevin Durant and James Harden have been on fire offensively and are arguably the two best players in this series. The Warriors looked lackluster after needing 6 games to beat the 8 seed Clippers, while the Rockets easily disposed of a pretty good Utah team in the first round. Houston will certainly be looking for revenge, and Chris Paul may be a key factor. CP3 missed the end of last year’s playoff series with an injury. In terms of injuries, the Warriors lost big man Demarcus Cousins in the first round and will have to deal with a lack of depth going forward. Andrew Bogut and Kevon Looney will have to pick up the slack in the frontcourt. Unlike last year, the Warriors have home court. Durant is playing at an MVP level, and the Warriors still have Steph and Klay. I think it will be a hard fought series but Golden State wins in 6 games.

 

#3 Portland Trail Blazers @ #2 Denver Nuggets (-150)

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Denver was the only team that needed 7 games to advance to the second round, while Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers disposed of Russell Westbrook and the Thunder in five games to advance. Lillard dominated the first round, but a key x factor was Blazers big man Enes Kanter who filled in nicely for the loss of Jusuf Nurkic. Kanter will have a much tougher test when he goes against Denver All Star big man Nikola Jokic. I think the biggest mismatch in this series is at the point guard position. Damian Lillard will destroy Jamal Murray and that will ultimately be the difference in the series. Portland wins in 6 games.

 

Let me know your predictions in the comments down below.

-Jeff

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2019 NBA Playoffs First Round Preview and Predictions

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The playoffs have arrived and there are several interesting storylines to follow over the next couple of months. Can Kevin Durant and the Warriors three-peat? How far can James Harden carry the Rockets? Will the Celtics figure it out after a disappointing regular season? Are Toronto and Milwaukee for real? Without further ado, here are my previews and predictions for the first round.

 

#8 Detroit Pistons @ #1 Milwaukee Bucks (-5000)

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MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo has had a breakout season for the Bucks this year, averaging 27.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 5.9 APG while leading Milwaukee to the best record in the NBA. Coach Mike Budenholzer has also done a fantastic job this year by maximizing the talent on the roster. The Pistons won’t have much of a chance, but Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond may be able to slow Giannis down in the front court for a game or two. Bucks in 5.

 

#7 Orlando Magic @ #2 Toronto Raptors (-1200)

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With a healthy Kawhi Leonard and no Lebron James in the playoffs, the Toronto Raptors may finally have their shot at winning the East. Meanwhile, the Magic have made the playoffs for the first time in seven years and are more than likely just happy to be there. Nikola Vucevic leads the way for Orlando and they have some nice young pieces such as Jonathan Isaac too. However, they will be overmatched by Toronto’s talent and playoff experience. Raptors sweep Magic.

 

#6 Brooklyn Nets @ #3 Philadelphia 76ers (-650)

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Brooklyn Nets

Like the Magic, the Nets are also back in the playoffs for the first time in a long time. Young point guard D’Angelo Russell will look to prove the Lakers wrong after they traded him last season with a big postseason performance. Key players Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris help round out a Nets team that could be a tough out in the first round. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and company get their second shot at a postseason run after being disposed of in the second round by the Celtics last year. Embiid has had another monster season, and the additions of Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris have made the Sixers a dangerous team. I think this could be a close series, but Philly ultimately prevails. Sixers in 6.

 

#5 Indiana Pacers @ #4 Boston Celtics (-500)

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The Celtics struggled during the regular season, but will have a chance to make their fans forget all about it if they can make a deep playoff run. Unlike last year, Boston will have the services of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward available for this year’s playoffs. However, they will be without Marcus Smart for the first couple of rounds. Indiana overachieved throughout the season, but the chances took a significant hit after losing star guard Victor Oladipo. The Pacers will have to rely on Myles Turner and Darren Collison to compete against Boston. I think this will be a very close and hardfought series, but the Celtics emerge in 7 games.

 

#8 Los Angeles Clippers @ #1 Golden State Warriors (-20000)

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Golden State will begin it’s journey to a third straight championship by taking on intrastate rival Los Angeles in their first round matchup. The Warriors haven’t looked like automatic champs throughout this year, but they are a different team when the playoffs roll around. Curry and Durant have had phenomenal seasons once again, and not much can stand in their way. Lou Williams and the Clippers have overachieved this season despite the lack of talent on the roster and trading away their best player in Tobias Harris. Warriors sweep Clippers.

 

#7 San Antonio Spurs @ #2 Denver Nuggets (-245)

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The new look Spurs enter the playoffs without Kawhi Leonard while DeMar Derozan makes his western conference playoff debut. With teammate Lamarcus Aldridge and coach Gregg Popovich, Derozan and the Spurs are still very much a threat to make a run in the West. They will have the experience advantage too over a young Nuggets team. Nikola Jokic has emerged as a star player in the league, and Jamal Murray has proven he can be a deadly scorer at times. I think this will be a close series due to the inexperience of Denver, but in the end Jokic has a monster series and the Nuggets pull off the victory. Denver in 7.

 

#6 Oklahoma City Thunder @ #3 Portland Trail Blazers (+113)

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This series will be a matchup of star point guards with Mr. Triple Double Russell Westbrook facing off against Dame Dolla Damian Lillard. Lillard and McCollum lead one of the NBA’s best backcourts, and will have to step up after star big man Jusuf Nurkic went down with an injury and is out for the season. Westbrook averaged a triple double once again, but Paul George emerged as a true MVP candidate this year and has been outstanding for the Thunder. I think this will be one of the better first round series and go the distance. Blazers in 7.

 

#5 Utah Jazz @ #4 Houston Rockets (-370)

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James Harden has had one of the greatest offensive seasons in NBA history this year, averaging over 36 points per game and over 8 points per game more than anyone else in the NBA. When Chris Paul and Eric Gordon were injured, Harden single handedly revived the Rockets from a losing record to nearly the 2 seed. The key for Houston will be if Chris Paul stays healthy. Houston likely could’ve knocked off Golden State last year with a healthy Chris Paul, and will need him to make a run this year. Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell have been great for the Jazz, but they drew a tough matchup in the first round this year. Harden will be too much to stop, and the Rockets will win in 6 games.

 

Let me know your thoughts and predictions in the comments down below.

-Jeff

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2019 Final Four Preview and Prediction

The field of 68 teams in the NCAA tournament has been narrowed down to just four teams who will compete in Minneapolis for the 2019 national title. Virginia is the only 1 seed and will look to complete full redemption after losing to a 16 seed last year. Michigan State is seeking it’s first title since 2000 and will look to establish the Big 10 at the top of college basketball again. Texas Tech and Auburn are both making their Final Four debuts and hope to play spoiler. Here are my previews and predictions for this year’s Final Four.

 

Saturday, April 6th 6:09 PM: #5 Auburn vs #1 Virginia (-6)

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Two teams with a clash of playing styles will face off in the first game on Saturday. Virginia is known for their defense and grind it out style of play, while Auburn relies on hot three point shooting and an explosive offense. For Virginia, their key players include sharpshooting guard Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, and Deandre Hunter, who is probably their most important player. Deandre Hunter missed last year’s tournament loss against 16th seeded UMBC. The Cavaliers barely survived against Purdue in the Elite 8 to reach this stage, but are now the favorites to win it all. Auburn has had impressive run by defeating big name schools such as Kansas, UNC, and Kentucky to reach the Final Four. However, their best player Chuma Okeke tore his ACL against UNC and is out for the tournament. Virginia has an elite defense defending the three pointer, and I think that will make the difference as they frustrate Auburn’s offense. Virginia wins and advances to the title game.

 

Saturday, April 6th 8:49 PM: #3 Texas Tech vs #2 Michigan State (-2)

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After an epic takedown of Zion Williamson and #1 overall seed Duke, Michigan State will face another tough challenge against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have had an impressive run through the tournament, blowing out Buffalo and Michigan before taking down #1 Gonzaga. This matchup will feature two of the best defenses in the country going at it. The Spartans will need a huge effort from junior guard Cassius Winston, who averaged 19 PPG during the season and put up 20 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Duke. On the other end, Texas Tech will turn to lottery pick Jarrett Culver, who is averaging 18.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists this year. I think this will be a close defensive battle, but ultimately Texas Tech is playing too well right now to be stopped. Texas Tech wins to advance to title game.

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: VIRGINIA OVER TEXAS TECH

Let me know your predictions in the comments below.

-Jeff

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2019 Boston Red Sox Preview

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The Boston Red Sox are set to begin their World Series title defense on the west coast next week, so here is my preview and prediction for the 2019 season.

 

The Offseason

Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays

The Red Sox signed a premier free agent in each of the last offseasons: David Price (2016), Chris Sale (2017), and J.D. Martinez (2018). While that was not the case this offseason, the Red Sox did re-sign key players from their championship run. After his lights out performance in the 2018 playoffs, the Red Sox resigned starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi to a 4 year $68 million deal in December. The Red Sox also resigned World Series MVP Steve Pearce to a one year $6.25 million deal. After missing nearly the entire 2018 season, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia played in spring training this year and hopes to have a big comeback season. The biggest offseason loss was closer Craig Kimbrel, who is still a free agent at the time of this blog. Finally, the Red Sox made a very important long term decision this offseason by giving Chris Sale a 5 year $145 million extension to stay in Boston.

 

The Lineup

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2019 Projected Starting Lineup

  1. Andrew Benintendi
  2. Mookie Betts
  3. J.D. Martinez
  4. Xander Boegarts
  5. Mitch Moreland
  6. Rafael Devers
  7. Eduardo Nunez
  8. Jackie Bradley Jr.
  9. Christian Vazquez

The Red Sox will return their entire starting lineup from an offense that was a juggernaut the year before. Benintendi leads off, followed by AL MVP Mookie Betts and silver slugger J.D. Martinez, who hit 43 HR and 130 RBI. Xander Boegarts also had a 100 RBI season last year. The entire offense is a balance of getting on base, hitting home runs, and stealing bases. They led the MLB in average, OBP, slugging, runs scored, and doubles last year. There were very few weaknesses last year, and the offense may only get better if Dustin Pedroia returns and contributes like his former self.

 

The Rotation

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Much like their offense, the Red Sox starting rotation should be among the best in the league. Chris Sale is the best pitcher in the AL, and manager Alex Cora has figured out how to use him efficiently so he doesn’t wear out. David Price has figured out how to be dominant in both the regular season and the postseason. Veteran Rick Porcello provides a solid third option behind Sale and Price. Nathan Eovaldi returns for a full season with the team this year. One of the keys for the rotation will be the health of Eduardo Rodriguez, who has shown flashes of greatness but is often injured. The Red Sox did lose Drew Pomeranz, but most people would consider this a positive rather than a loss due to his abysmal performance in 2018. With question marks in the bullpen, it will be important for the rotation to carry the load when necessary, and they are more than capable of doing so.

 

The Prediction

I don’t expect this team to win 108 games again, despite bringing back almost every major piece. However, I do expect they will contend for another championship and be at the top of the AL East for most of the season. I predict the Red Sox will go 97-65 and win their 4th straight AL East title.

 

Let me know your predictions in the comments down below.

Thanks,

Jeff

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Super Bowl LIII Preview and Prediction + Bonus Prop Bet Picks

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Sunday, February 3rd 6:30 PM: NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams vs AFC Champion New England Patriots (-2.5)

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The Patriots represent the AFC in the Super Bowl for the third time in a row, fourth in the last five years, and ninth in the last eighteen years. The Rams are in the Super Bowl for the first time since losing Super Bowl XXXVI to the Patriots. This matchup is a battle of the old guard vs the new. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have dominated the league for two decades, while Jared Goff and Sean McVay have turned around the Rams franchise to become one of the most exciting young teams in awhile.

The Patriots offense has been balanced in it’s success throughout this playoff run. Despite losing Josh Gordon and Rob Gronkowski being primarily a blocker, New England revived it’s offense with a balanced running attack. Sony Michel has a been a touchdown scoring machine on the ground and James White has become a reliable receiving option out of the backfield. Julian Edelman, who missed last year’s Super Bowl, is back and making clutch catches once again. The offensive line has really stepped up and prevented Brady from being sacked, but they will face their biggest challenge against defensive player of the year Aaron Donald, who had 20.5 sacks during the season. This will be one of the key matchups to watch during the game.

The big question for the Rams offense in this game is the status and effectiveness of Todd Gurley, who was essentially benched during the NFC Championship. If Gurley is healthy, the Patriots will have to watch out for two running threats on the ground with C.J. Anderson contributing significantly during his playing time. The other matchup to watch will be Stephon Gilmore on Brandin Cooks. Gilmore has been burned a couple of times in the playoffs against speedy deep threat receivers, and that’s exactly what Cooks is. The Patriots will need to pressure Goff early to get in his head if they want to have success on defense. Goff has shown that he’s not easily rattled after coming back from double digits in New Orleans, so it will be important to not let him get comfortable. The play calling of coach Sean McVay will be critical to getting the Rams in rhythm.

Overall, I think this will be a close game. The Patriots have the experience and the Rams have the talent. Ultimately I think the Rams talent and coaching will put them over the edge in this game. Los Angeles wins 33-27 and Jared Goff wins MVP.

 

PROP BET PICKS

National Anthem OVER 1:45
Coin Toss: TAILS
Gatorade color: BLUE
Will either team attempt at 2 point conversion; YES
First offensive play: PASS

 
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

-Jeff

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