Drake reacts to the Raptors winning an NBA title(VIDEO)

The Toronto Raptors have done it! Toronto did something that many thought seemed impossible.

Behind the play of Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and the clutch shooting of Fred VanVleet, the Raptors were able to beat the Warriors 114-110 to capture the first title in franchise history.

After the game, rapper/actor and super fan Drake reacted.

Here is what he had to say:

 

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Cavaliers hire Lindsay Gottlieb as assistant coach

The Cleveland Cavaliers have hired Lindsay Gottlieb as an Assistant Coach, the team announced today, and according to ESPN, she is the first women’s collegiate head coach recruited to an NBA staff.

“Lindsay Gottlieb will be a great addition to Coach Beilein’s and Coach Bickerstaff’s group. She has an extensive track record of success and growth with her teams and players and has also been a strong culture-driver as a core part of that,” said Altman. “The more we researched and got to know Lindsay, the more we came to understand that she would be an impactful part of where we want to go as a team. Coach Gottlieb brings a depth of basketball knowledge, leadership, perspective and approach to her craft that will fit very well with our team and staff alike. We’re fortunate that she was willing to leave her role as Head Coach at such a solid and successful program at Cal.”

 “I am excited to have a coach with Lindsay’s experience as a part of the new coaching staff with the Cavaliers,” said Beilein. “Lindsay truly values and embraces player development and a culture of winning basketball habits. Her success at Cal Berkeley speaks for itself and her insight in our meetings, practices and games will hold tremendous value. After sitting with her, it was easy to see how she will connect quickly with our staff and our players, and we all benefit because of that connection. I’m looking forward to merging all of her years of experience and vision for the game with our current and future coaching staff.”

Gottlieb joins Beilein’s staff after serving eight years as the University of California, Berkeley women’s basketball head coach, where she led the Golden Bears to a combined 179-89 (.668) record (86-58, .597 in Pac-12) since taking over the helm in 2011-12. Her 179 wins are the second-most by any head coach in Cal women’s basketball history. During her tenure, Gottlieb led Cal to seven overall NCAA tournament appearances (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019), including the program’s first-ever Elite Eight and Final Four appearances in 2013 – becoming just the seventh NCAA women’s coach since 1990 to reach the Final Four within the first two seasons leading a program. That same year, she was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year by media and was a Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist, while also guiding the Golden Bears to their first Pac-12 Regular-Season Championship.

Gottlieb coached five Cal players to 10 total All-America seasons and saw six of her players become WNBA Draft selections during her time as head coach. She holds 11 overall years of Division I head coaching experience, posting a 235-128 (.647) overall record with Cal and UC Santa Barbara (2008-2011), where she led the Gauchos to two Big West Championships (2009, 2011) and was named Big West Coach of the Year in 2009.

“I am very thankful, proud and excited to be joining the Cavaliers as an Assistant Coach. After meeting with Koby Altman, Coach Beilein and Coach Bickerstaff, I knew this was an organization I wanted to be a part of and a team I wanted to dedicate myself to,” said Gottlieb. “While this move provided a unique and special chance to move directly from Cal Berkeley and women’s college basketball to the NBA, it was really about being part of building and growing something special and adding value to a team and organization that is focused on doing things in a way that I believe strongly in.”

 “The vision for the Cavs’ future is compelling and I look forward to helping make it a reality. At the same time, on a personal level, I am honored to hopefully impact young girls and women to be empowered to pursue their own visions and to be inspired to turn them into reality as well.”

“I also want to thank Cal for what has been an amazing job, and really my home and family, for the better part of 15 years. It is very difficult to say goodbye. The university leadership, the athletic department, my fellow coaches, staff and, most of all, our players have been wonderful and inspiring to work with. The program is in great shape and I have no doubt it will continue to have a high level of success.”

HOF English on Embiid: ‘I don’t know if he’s got the heart of a champion yet'(AUDIO)

The Philadelphia 76ers were very close to beating the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals. In Game 3, Joel Embiid was unstoppable. He dropped 33 points, collected 10 rebounds, and block five shots, and after three games, Philly was up 2-1 with an opportunity to go up 3-1 in Game 4 at home. However, Embiid would get sick; he was ineffective in Games 4 and 5. The Raptors would win both of those games and would win the series in seven after Kawhi Leonard’s buzzing beating, series-clinching jump shot.

Many point to Embiid’s health as one of the reasons the 76ers lost the series, and some pointed to his body language during Games 4 and 5. Embiid not only played sick, but he looked sick. It was written all over his face, and it looked as if the team was deflated because of it.

TNT’s Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal were critical of Embiid’s body language, and Hall of Famer Alex English noticed Embiid’s body language as well.

“I saw the very same thing, and that’s maybe why I’m saying and being as harsh as I am in saying I thought he looked really bad,” English recently said about Embiid on the Go4it podcast.  “I think that’s what it is; his body language, his hustle back on defense after he shot a shot, the effort that he put in a game. Those are the things that make me feel like I feel when I think of Joel Embiid.

“Before the playoffs, I said, ‘Hey man, this guy is the best thing since sliced bread,’ and after that, I’m like, ‘Well, maybe not.’ Because I don’t know if he’s got the heart of a champion yet, he’s still a young guy. It may take a while, but you’re in the NBA playoffs, you gotta give up more than what he gave.”

While he was critical of Embiid, English, like ESPN’s Mark Jackson, believes the 25-year-old center can be great, but he has some work to do.

“I think he will be one of the all-time great centers. I don’t think he will be the all-time great center,” English said. “It’s gonna be hard for anybody to top Bill Russell in my book, but I think he’s got potential. It’s parts of his game that he has to work on.

“There were times when he looked great out on the floor, and then, there were times he looked like a dog, and I don’t like that… He looked like he looked because of the way his health was at that moment. He was not feeling well; I only say that if you got the heart of a champion, you find a way to overcome. I remember Michael Jordan going into a series and just having one the greatest games of his life. Winning the championship being sick.(“Flu Game” in Game 5 of 1997 NBA Finals. Bulls would beat Jazz in 6) I know how it is when I played and I’ve been sick; I always picked it up and said, ‘Hey, I gotta focus even harder because of this.”

Embiid is special, and I think he learned a lot in these playoffs. The Sixers needed him to be at his best. In the Toronto series, the team was plus-90 with him on the floor, but they were minus-111 when he was off the floor, which shows that Embiid is a difference maker.

However, he has to get in better shape and do a better job of taking care of his body. If he can stay healthy, his name will be up there with great centers in the history of the game, but if he does not do what he can to stay healthy, we might be talking about what could have been.

Listen to the complete interview with English below. He talks Embiid at 08:46:

 

Are the 2019 Warriors turning into the 1989 Lakers?

In 1989, the Los Angeles Lakers were looking to be the first team to win three straight NBA titles since the Celtics did it in the 1960s. After having the best record in Western Conference, and working their way to the NBA Finals, Los Angeles seemed poised to three-peat, but for that to happen, the Lakers needed to beat the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons, a team Los Angeles beat in a tight, seven-game series in the 1988 NBA Finals.

However, on their way to trying to win three straight NBA titles, the 1988-89 Los Angeles Lakers ran into some problems. Before Game 1 of the 1989 NBA Finals, Byron Scott injured his hamstring in practice, which forced him to miss the series. Also, in Game 2, the regular season MVP, Magic Johnson would injure his hamstring, which caused him to miss the rest of the series. Those injuries were a big reason why the Pistons swept the Lakers in the 1989 NBA Finals.

Thirty years later we could be seeing a similar script with the 2018-19 Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are trying to three-peat, and after losing Game 3 123-109, the Raptors lead the NBA Finals 2-1.

Golden State is without Kevin Durant, who has not played in the NBA FInals and has been ruled out of Game 4 after injuring his calf in Western Conference semifinals against Houston, and they were without Klay Thompson in Game 3. Good thing for the Warriors, Thompson is expected to return in Game 4. How healthy Thompson will be is uncertain. Kevon Looney, who has contributed off the Warriors’ bench, could miss the rest of the series with a non-displaced first costal cartilage fracture. Also, star C DeMarcus Cousins recently returned from a quad injury,  and while he was effective in Game 2, he was not very good in Game 3 and looked very sluggish.

The Warriors are breaking down right in front of our eyes.

Golden State has played a lot of basketball in the last five seasons. The Warriors have been to the NBA Finals five straight years. Before the 1989 Finals, the Lakers had played in three out the last four NBA Finals. 1989 made it four out of five NBA Finals appearances for Los Angeles.

While the Lakers were able to make it back to the NBA Finals in 1991(lost to Bulls in five), the Lakers’ Dynasty was pretty much done after 1989.

Could the Warriors suffer a similar fate? Durant and Thompson can become free agents in the summer. Thompson is probably going to return, but Durant’s return is still up in the air at this point.

Anything can happen, but as the Finals continue on, it is becoming evident that the 2019 Warriors could end up like the 1989 Lakers.

 

Statement from Cleveland Cavaliers on the health of Dan Gilbert

According to a statement from the Cleveland Cavaliers, owner Dan Gilbert is being treated at a hospital for a stroke.

The 57-year-old Gilbert is currently in suburban Detroit Hospital, according to the Detroit News. Gilbert has owned the Cavaliers since 2005.

Here is the complete statement from the Cavaliers on the health of Gilbert:

“Dan Gilbert and his family are grateful for the outpouring of support following the news of his hospitalization early Sunday. We appreciate the community’s concern, and with his family’s permission, provide the following update:

Dan was not feeling well Sunday morning so he was taken to the hospital by a family friend. While under care at the hospital, he suffered a stroke and was immediately taken in for a catheter-based procedure, then moved to recovery in the Intensive Care Unit.

Dan is awake, responsive and resting comfortably.  Dan and his family are immensely grateful to the doctors and nurses whose early intervention is already paying dividends toward his recovery.

We will update the public as additional details become known. Thanks to the strong culture and leadership Dan has built and grown, business at the Rock Family of Companies will continue under the normal, everyday direction of their respective CEOs.

Our collective thoughts and prayers remain with Dan for a speedy recovery.”

HOF Alex English likes Jokic over Embiid(Audio)

Denver Nuggets C Nikola Jokic did it all for the Denver Nuggets this season. The First-Team All-NBA star led the Nuggets in points, rebounds, and assists per game(20.1 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 7.3 apg). Jokic’s ability to do it all was one of the reasons Denver had the second best record in the Western Conference. Ultimately, the Nuggets would lose to the Blazers in the second round of the playoffs.

Is Jokic the best center in the game?

Well, there is a center in Philadelphia named Joel Embiid who might argue. The Second-Team All-NBA star was fourth in the NBA in scoring(27.5 ppg) and was second in the NBA in rebounding(13.6 rpg), and like Jokic, Embiid and the 76ers would lose in the second round of the playoffs.

If it were up to Hall of Famer and former Denver Nugget star Alex English, he would go with Jokic.

“Hands down I would take Jokic,” English recently told the Go4it podcast with host Paul Gant when asked to choose between Jokic and Embiid. “There’s even no question. I look at the effort he puts into the game, how he gets back on defense, his effort on the floor. What he does on the floor, I would take him without a second thought… He’s inside; he’s outside, he passes, he rebounds. He’s just a solid player for me.”

Both of these guys are big-time players. For me, it’s Embiid because of the things he does on the defensive end. Embiid(1.9 blocks per game) was a Second-Team All-Defensive center, and I believe he is a better scorer than Jokic, and statistically, Embiid is the better rebounder. However, Jokic is the better passer and is the best passing center in the game.

You can’t go wrong with either center, but in terms of pure talent, I have to go with Embiid, and if he can stay healthy, Embiid is the choice. However, if you have any doubts about Embiid’s healthy, you go with Jokic.

Listen below as English talks Embiid and Jokic at 7:55 mark:

NBA announces 2018-19 All-Defensive team

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo lead the 2018-19 NBA All-Defensive First Team, the league announced today.

The three finalists for the 2018-19 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award finished with nearly identical point totals as the top vote-getters for the NBA All-Defensive Teams.

The 2018-19 NBA All-Defensive First Team features Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (145 points; 63 First Team votes) and Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe (100 points; 36 First Team votes).  Smart and Bledsoe are both first-time selections to an NBA All-Defensive Team.

The 2018-19 NBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of  Philly’s Joel Embiid, New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday, Golden State’s Draymond Green and Klay Thompson and Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard. The NBA All-Defensive First Team consists of Utah’s Rudy Gobert, Oklahoma City’s Paul George, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe and Boston’s Marcus Smart.

The winner of the 2018-19 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award will be revealed at the 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia on Monday, June 24 at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.  The third annual NBA Awards, honoring this season’s top performers, will take place at Barker Hangar in Los Angeles.

2018-19 NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE FIRST TEAM
Position Player, Team 1st Team (2 Pts.) 2nd Team (1 Pt.) Total Points All-Defensive Selections
Center Rudy Gobert, Utah 97 2 196 3 (three 1st)
Forward Paul George, Oklahoma City 96 3 195 4 (two 1st, two 2nd)
Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee 94 5 193 2 (one 1st, one 2nd)
Guard Marcus Smart, Boston 63 19 145 1
Guard Eric Bledsoe, Milwaukee 36 28 100 1

 

2018-19 NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE SECOND TEAM
Position Player, Team 1st Team (2 Pts.) 2nd Team (1 Pt.) Total Points All-Defensive Selections
Guard Jrue Holiday, New Orleans 31 28 90 2 (one 1st, one 2nd)
Guard Klay Thompson, Golden State 23 36 82 1
Center Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 4 72 80 2 (two 2nd)
Forward Draymond Green, Golden State 2 57 61 5 (three 1st, two 2nd)
Forward Kawhi Leonard, Toronto 5 29 39 5 (three 1st, two 2nd)

 


Ka-whi the Raptors could go to the NBA Finals

After two games in the Eastern Conference Finals, it seemed that Bucks were on the way to the NBA Finals. Milwaukee struggled early in Game 1 but finished strong to seal the victory, and in Game 2, the Raptors looked defeated and were dominated by 22 points. At that time, we were ready to crown the Bucks, but as a wise man once said, “A series does not start until the road team wins.” The Bucks were second favorite behind Golden State last week, meanwhile those odds have shifted with The Raptors 10/1 underdogs to win the tournament – that’s if they get past Bucks and Golden State.

The series shifted to Toronto, and the Raptors were able to clip the Bucks in double OT in Game 3, and in Game 4, Toronto routed Milwaukee, and now, we go back to Milwaukee with the series tied at 2.

We are starting to see why Kyle Lowry was an All-Star this season. Lowry had 25 points last night, and he is playing much better than he did in the previous round against the Sixers. Also, role players play better at home, and that was the case for Toronto in Game 4 on Tuesday night. Marc Gasol chipped in with 17 points, and Toronto’s bench was big time. Serge Ibaka had 17 points and 13 rebounds; Fred VanVleet finally joined the party by dropping 13 points, including 3-3 from downtown, and Norman Powell continued his excellent play with 18 points.

It’s the best of three, and at this point, the Bucks seem to have the advantage because two out of the next three games(if necessary) will be in Milwaukee, but will that matter? The best player in these playoffs has been Kawhi Leonard. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been excellent; Kevin Durant was getting it done before the injury. However, Leonard has been better. He carried the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals after averaging 34.7 points per game against the 76ers, including an epic, series-clinching jumper at the buzzer to beat Philly, and while his team struggled in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, Leonard did not. He scored 31 points a piece in Games 1 and 2, and in Game 3, where he played a game-high 52 minutes, Leonard poured in 36 big points. We forget that Leonard was a Finals’ MVP, and we forget that before last season, Leonard was considered the best two-way player in the game. If he can work through his leg fatigue, Leonard gives the Raptors a shot to steal a game in Milwaukee—–something the Raptors were able to do once in the regular season.

Rudy Tomjanovich once said, “Never underestimate the heart of a champion,” and Leonard has shown championship mettle in the past and is showing it right now. Antetokounmpo will probably win the regular season MVP, but if we were handing out a postseason MVP, it probably would go to Leonard.

Can the best player in the postseason get it done for Toronto? Milwaukee had not lost more than two games in a row all season, so losing four in a row could be asking a lot, but with the play of Lowry and the Raptors’ bench, I can see Toronto making the NBA Finals. However, that won’t happen if Leonard is not healthy.

 

 

NBA announces awards finalists for 2018-19 season

The NBA today announced the finalists for six awards that honor top performers from the 2018-19 regular season: Kia NBA Most Valuable Player, Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, Kia NBA Sixth Man Award, Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Kia NBA Most Improved Player and NBA Coach of the Year.

The winners of these awards will be revealed at the 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia on Monday, June 24 at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.  The third annual NBA Awards will take place at Barker Hangar in Los Angeles.

The finalists for the six annual awards, based on voting results from a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters, are below:

Kia NBA Most Valuable Player

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder

James Harden, Houston Rockets

  Kia NBA Rookie of the Year

 

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks

Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

     
Kia NBA Sixth Man Award

 

Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers

Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers

Lou Williams, LA Clippers

  Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder

Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

     
Kia NBA Most Improved Player

 

De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings

D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets

Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

  NBA Coach of the Year

 

Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks

Michael Malone, Denver Nuggets

Doc Rivers, LA Clippers

The 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia will also feature the announcement of the winners for the NBA Basketball Executive of the Year Award, the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, the NBA Sportsmanship Award, the Seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kaiser Permanente, the NBA Hustle Award and the fan-voted House of Highlights Moment of the Year.

In addition, basketball icons Magic Johnson and Larry Bird will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and broadcasting legend Robin Roberts will be honored with the Sager Strong Award.

Great courtside angle of Leonard’s amazing shot(VIDEO)

Kawhi Leonard’s buzzer-beating, series-clinching shot against the 76ers to send the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals was ridiculous, and it is was one of the greatest shots in NBA history.

Never has a seven-game series ended in this manner, which makes this shot even more special.

We have seen so many different angles of this shot, but I think we may have just found one of the best.

Watch Below: