Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

 

Avengers: Infinity War is the highly anticipated crossover event that is a culmination of over a dozen separate Marvel movies. The villain Thanos is on a mission to collect all six of the infinity stones, each of which contain a different power, in order to execute his mission of wiping out half of all known species in the universe. It is up to the Avengers to stop Thanos from collecting the stones in order to save the universe as they know it.

avengers

With such a star studded cast of main characters, one may wonder how realistic it is to give each superhero an appropriate amount of face time. However, I thought this was something that the movie did very well. They were able to introduce each superhero and connect them to the overall plot in an efficient manner, and each character played a key role throughout the course of this movie. I also thought the movie did a really good job of blending comedy and serious themes throughout the movie. One moment you would have Tony Stark cracking jokes and the next moment you would have Thanos having to make crucial decisions about sacrifices for the infinity stone. The movie was never too dark or too comedic throughout, it was a really well done blend.

thanos

One of the most interesting things about this movie, in my opinion, was the philosophy of the main villain, Thanos. He believes that in order to bring balance to the universe and preserve its finite resources, half of its population must be wiped out. This is an interesting twist for a villain’s motive, since he is not necessarily interested in conquering on other planets and taking over, but truly believes he is doing what is necessary for the good of the universe. He tells a story in the movie about a planet that was suffering, but after he wiped out half the population the planet began to thrive again because there were enough resources to go around. While I certainly don’t think his approach is the right way to go, it does bring up an interesting point when we think about the population on Earth. We only have a finite amount of resources on this planet, and the population is growing exponentially faster than it is dying. What ultimately happens when we do run out of resources?

Overall, I really enjoyed this movie and thought they did a great job with all of the superheroes, supervillains, comedy, and plot.

Final Rating: 9/10

Let me know your thoughts on Avengers: Infinity War in the comments down below.

-Jeff

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2018 NBA Conference Finals Preview and Predictions

conf finals

The NBA is down to the final four, and while there were lots of twists and turns along the way during the regular season, these are the teams everyone expected to be here when the season began.

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: #4 Cleveland Cavaliers @ #2 Boston Celtics (+230)

eastern-conference-finals-cavs-celtics

The Celtics and Cavs meet once again in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, which Cleveland won in 5 games before losing to Golden State in the Finals. Both teams have a different look this year. The Celtics completely overhauled their roster and now depend on Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier as go to players in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Cavs midseason trade brought them George Hill, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance jr, and Jordan Clarkson to be the sidekicks for Lebron. James has been on fire this postseason scoring 34 PPG, 9 APG, and 9 RPG and is coming of a four game beatdown of the top seeded Raptors.

The key for the Cavs is who will step up besides Lebron. Kevin Love is the obvious second choice, but the Cavs will contributions from role players like JR Smith and Kyle Korver who can knock down threes in order to take some pressure off Lebron. For the Celtics, the emergence of Terry Rozier after Kyrie Irving went down has been a huge part of their success. His ability to knock down threes and limit turnovers has elevated him to another level. After slumping in the second half of the season, rookie Jayson Tatum has become a bigtime factor in the postseason, scoring 20+ points in 6 consecutive games. Ultimately the success of the Celtics lies with coach Brad Stevens, who will be tasked with creating a gameplan to slow Lebron and expose the porous Cavs defense. I think this will be a hard fought series but ultimately the Cavs win in 6 games.

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: #2 Golden State Warriors @ #1 Houston Rockets (+180)

WCF

The Rockets have been the popular pick to disrupt Golden State’s annual trip to the NBA Finals out of the Western Conference this year. Likely MVP James Harden and newcomer Chris Paul have elevated the team to another level which resulted in the NBA’s best record and two easy series wins to start the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Warriors have gone under the radar due to a combination of injuries and a seeming lack of interest in the regular season at times. Golden State will be looking for it’s fourth straight Finals berth while the Rockets are looking to reach the Finals for the first time since 1994.

Houston has the all-star back court with Harden and Paul, but there are several other players that deserve recognition as well. Clint Capela has been a force under the rim this year both offensively and defensively, and Eric Gordon has been a spark off the bench and instant scoring option for the bench unit. Houston is known for their quick pace and deadly three point shooting, and will certainly need it to keep pace with the Warriors. It’s no secret who the Warriors are at this point. With the Big Four in Durant, Curry, Thompson, and Green, they are virtually impossible to stop after bringing back nearly the entire team that went 16-1 in the playoffs the year before. Now that they are healthy and in a groove, I don’t see anybody stopping this Golden State team, not even the team with the NBA’s best record. Warriors win in 5 games.

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

-Jeff

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2018 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals Preview and Predictions

eastern conf

The Final Four in the East is set, featuring the defending conference champion, last year’s #1 seed, this year’s #1 seed, and the team most people are picking to win the Finals. Here is my preview and prediction for the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

 

#3 Philadelphia 76ers @ #2 Boston Celtics (+310)

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics squeezed out a 7 game series win over Milwaukee while Philadelphia quickly disposed of the Heat in 5 games in the first round. With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward out, and the 76ers playing their best basketball, the road team will come into this series as the favorite. Despite this, I think the Celtics still match up really well with the 76ers and Brad Stevens has the edge at coach per usual. After dealing with Giannis in the first round, the Celtics defense should be able to slow down Simmons. Al Horford played his best playoff series as a Celtic in the first round, dominating on offense and defense, and will be tasked with slowing down All-Star center Joel Embiid. While neither Simmons and Embiid are shooters, they are surrounded by veterans JJ Redick, Marco Belinelli, and Robert Covington who can knock down shots from the outside. Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier will have to step up on the offense end to keep pace. In the end, I think the Celtics win a hard fought series in 7 games.

 

#4 Cleveland Cavaliers @ #1 Toronto Raptors (-220)

cleveland-cavaliers-vs-toronto-raptors-live-stream

Both of these teams struggled more than they probably should have in the first round, but advanced nonetheless. The Cavs have historically dominated the Raptors in the playoffs, but Toronto hopes to prove this year will be different. Fred VanVleet coming back off the bench will provide a spark for the Raptors deep second unit, and the Cavs will have to contain DeMar Rozan who is capable of exploding against mediocre Cleveland defense in this series. Lebron will no doubt have a great series, but his supporting cast was absent at times in the first round, and they can’t afford to have that happen against Toronto. I think this series will be a good battle, with the Raptors winning in 7 games.

 

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

-Jeff

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2018 Western Conference Semifinals Preview and Predictions

western-conference

The NBA Playoffs are on to the second round in the Western Conference beginning Saturday, April 28th, so here is my preview and prediction for the two series.

 

#6 New Orleans Pelicans @ #2 Golden State Warriors (-850)

pelicans warriors

The New Orleans Pelicans will be rested when they take on the defending champs, after being the only team to sweep their first round series. Golden State will be rested as well, after having disposed of the Spurs in five games to win their 10th straight Western Conference playoff series. With the status of Stephen Curry still very much in doubt, I think the Pelicans have a real chance in this one. Anthony Davis is arguably the best player in the series right up there with Kevin Durant. The Pelicans backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday has been outstanding in the playoffs. The Warriors still have the firepower with Durant, Green, and Thompson, but I don’t see how anyone on that team defense Anthony Davis, and I think Rondo and Holiday will give the Warriors guards a lot of trouble on defense. Head coach Alvin Gentry has been doing a great job with the rotations for New Orleans so far in the Playoffs. Pelicans win the series in 6.

 

#5 Utah Jazz @ #1 Houston Rockets (-600)

jazz rockets

The surprising Utah Jazz have continued their run into the Western Conference Semifinals, where they will take on the NBA’s best regular season team in the Houston Rockets. Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, and even Ricky Rubio played great for Utah against OKC in the first round. Meanwhile, Harden had his ups and downs but Houston ultimately took control of the series against Minnesota and won in five. Psychologically, this will be a test for the Rockets with their two star guards James Harden and Chris Paul being notorious for early playoff exits and underachieving. I think Gobert will dominate the paint and take away a lot of the drives from Harden, while Donovan Mitchell will once again be a start. Utah upsets Houston in 7.

 

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

-Jeff

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2018 NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Preview and Predictions

eastern conf

The Eastern Conference playoffs should be very interesting this year. Raptors are the top seed but have historically choked in the playoffs. Celtics are the second seed but without Kyrie Irving. Philly is the third seed but is young and inexperienced. Cavs are the fourth seed as Lebron looks to bring them to their fourth straight Finals. Below is my preview and predictions for the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

 

#8 Washington Wizards @ #1 Toronto Raptors (-650)

raptors vs wizards

Toronto enters the playoffs as the number one seed in the conference for the first time in franchise history, while the Wizards squeaked into the playoffs after a disappointing regular season. However, now that John Wall is healthy the Wizards will look to give the Raptors all they can handle in this first round. Demar Derozan has been outstanding for Toronto, but their bench led, by Fred VanVleet, has been one of Toronto’s biggest strengths. This will be a big mismatch against a mediocre Wizards bench in this series. In order to have a chance in this series, John Wall and Bradley Beal will have to step up bigtime. While I think Washington can steal a few games, the Raptors will advance to the next round in 6 games.

 

#7 Milwaukee Bucks @ #2 Boston Celtics

celticsbucks

The Celtics season began with title aspirations, but they will enter the playoffs without their two biggest stars as Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving have been ruled out for the remainder of the season. However, the Celtics depth and the emergence of young stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum has been the reason that Boston was still able to grab the two seed despite all of the injuries. Al Horford has been a defensive player of the year candidate and Brad Stevens has made a strong case for coach of the year. On the other end, the Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo will to finally get out of the first round. If Milwaukee is going to have any chance, it will have to be a monster series from Giannis, who has played well against the Celtics this season. However, the Bucks don’t have enough surrounding him to take down Boston. Celtics win the series in 6 games.

 

#6 Miami Heat @ #3 Philadelphia 76ers (-465)

sixers heat

The 76ers are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012 after years of tanking and rebuilding. Rookie of the year candidate Ben Simmons has been outstanding and All Star center Joel Embiid has been a huge key to their success as well. #1 overall pick this year Markelle Fultz is healthy, and Philly also added veterans JJ Redick and Amir Johnson in the offseason as well. The Sixers ride a 16 game winning streak into the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat are led by Goran Dragic, Dwayne Wade, and Hassan Whiteside. Most importantly, they have one of the better coaches in the league with Eric Spoelstra. I think the Heat’s playoff experience and veteran talent will wear down a young inexperienced Philly team in this series. Miami wins in 7.

 

#5 Indiana Pacers @ #4 Cleveland Cavaliers (-650)

cavs pacers

Led by likely most improved player Victor Oladipo, the Pacers far exceeded expectations this year en route to making the playoffs, while the Cavaliers season was a huge disappointment. Despite this, Lebron never loses in the first round and always takes his team to another level in the playoffs. Indiana had success against Cleveland in the regular season, but the Cavs are the far superior team and will have no problem putting this series away early. Cavs in 5.

 

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

-Jeff

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2018 NBA Western Conference Quarterfinals Preview and Predictions

western-conference

The NBA Playoffs get off underway in the Western Conference beginning Saturday, April 15th, so here is my preview and prediction for each of the four first  round series.

 

#8 Minnesota Timberwolves @ #1 Houston Rockets (-3000)

rockets wolves

The Rockets have no doubt been the best team in the team in the regular season this year, and now it’s time for them to prove it in the playoffs. James Harden, likely NBA MVP, and backcourt teammate Chris Paul will look to overcome their past playoff struggles when take on Jimmy Butler, Karl Anthony-Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves are making their first playoff appearance in 14 years, and barely squeaked into the playoffs after beating Denver in overtime in the last game of the regular season. While Minnesota has a good coach in Tom Thibodeau and some talent with Butler, Towns, and Wiggins, I don’t think they will be any match for Houston. Rockets sweep the series 4-0.

 

#7 San Antonio Spurs @ #2 Golden State Warriors (-1100)

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At the beginning of the season, this rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals would have been a highly anticipated playoff series. However, both teams will be without arguably their most important players – Stephen Curry for Golden State and Kawhi Leonard for San Antonio. The Warriors will be looking for their fourth straight Western Conference title this year as they begin the playoffs, but will not overlook a Spurs team that still has plenty of talent and arguably the game’s best coach in Gregg Popovich. Lamarcus Aldridge has stepped up in Kawhi’s absence, but I think the Spurs won’t have enough to slow down Durant, Thompson, and Green in this series. Golden State wins in 6 games.

 

#6 New Orleans Pelicans @ #3 Portland Trail Blazers (-210)

blazers pelicans

Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis have both been outstanding this season while leading their teams to the playoffs. After losing Aldridge to the Spurs two season ago, Lillard has really stepped up and shown that he should be in the conversation for the elite point guards in the NBA. Add in fellow sharpshooter CJ McCollum in the backcourt and recently acquired Jusuf Nurkic in the front court, and you have a Blazer team that closed the season on fire en route to the 3 seed in the West. Meanwhile, many people wrote off the Pelicans after losing Demarcus Cousins to an achilles injury for the year. However, Anthony Davis stepped up big time and single handedly willed the Pelicans to the playoffs this year. Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday in the backcourt will provide a valuable veteran presence for this team as well. I think it will be a very close and hard fought series, but Portland wins it in 7 games.

 

#5 Utah Jazz @ #4 Oklahoma City Thunder (-135)

jazz thunder

Expectations were high for the Thunder after acquiring Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in the offseason, but it was certainly a roller coaster season. In the end, Westbrook again averaged a triple double and the Thunder were able to grab home court in the first round. Meanwhile, there were no expectations for the Utah Jazz after losing Gordon Hayward to the Celtics in free agency. However, rookie Donovan Mitchell stepped up big time, especially in the second half of the season, and defensive player of the year candidate Rudy Gobert played a key role in helping the Jazz get back to the playoffs. Quinn Snyder emerged as a coach of the year candidate during the season as well. I think this will also be a close series, but the Thunder have a significant edge in playoff experience and home court is key for them. Oklahoma City wins in 7 games.

 

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

-Jeff

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2018 Final Four Preview and Prediction

FinalFour2018

The 2018 NCAA tournament is down to four teams and a national championship will be at stake when they clash in San Antonio. 11 seed Loyola Chicago from the South Region. 3 seed Michigan from the West Region. 1 seed Villanova from the East. 1 seed Kansas from the Midwest. The finale of the NCAA tournament begins Saturday night.

 

Sat, March 31 at 6:09 PM: 11 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers vs 3 Michigan Wolverines (-5)

michigan loyola

The Ramblers have been the story of the tournament, becoming just the fourth 11 seed all time to reach the Final Four. The previous three did not make it to the national championship game. Loyola took out 6 seed Miami, 3 seed Tennessee, 7 seed Nevada, and 9 seed Kansas State to win the South Region. The Ramblers success has come off their hot shooting (51% overall in the tournament and 40% from three) and of course the support of team chaplain Sister Jean. Meanwhile, Michigan defeated 14 seed Montana, 6 seed Houston, 7 seed Texas A&M, and 9 seed Florida State to reach San Antonio. Versatile big man Moe Wagner and 6th man Duncan Robinson lead a Michigan squad that ended the season on fire by winning the Big 10 tournament and haven’t looked back since. Both teams rank in the top 20 in defensive efficiency so I expect this to be a hard fought low scoring game. Michigan wins 69-67.

 

Sat, March 31 at 8:49 PM: 1 Kansas Jayhawks vs 1 Villanova Wildcats (-5)

kansas nova

While the first matchup of the Final Four would have surprised most people before the tournament, this one is more along the lines of what people expected. Villanova has been arguably the best team all season with one of the best coaches in the game in Jay Wright. Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth, Donte DiVincenzo, and Mikal Bridges are all key players that were part of the 2016 National Championship team. The Wildcats certainly have the talent and experience to win two championships in three years. However, the team in their way in the National Semifinals in no stranger to spotlight either. Bill Self’s Kansas squad will be seeking their first national championship since 2008. Between senior guards Devonte Graham and Sviatoslav Mykailiuk, Kansas has the ability to get hot behind the three point line. While the Jayhawks have traditionally bowed out in the early rounds of the tournament in recent years, they have thrived by being under the radar this year. I think Kansas will pull the upset and win 77-68.

 

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: KANSAS OVER MICHIGAN

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

Thanks,
Jeff

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