NBA 2019 Playoff Predictions: Who Finally Takes Down Golden State?

I know, it’s a little late.  But before we know the surefire winner of each series, I figured I’d share my NBA Playoff bracket.  Believe it or not, I don’t think Golden State’s championship-winning streak will stay alive.  But who could possibly beat the Warriors?  See my prediction below:

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I have the Celtics taking down the Warriors in a 7-game series.  But how will they get there?

I think Boston should easily take down the Pacers.  With Victor Oladipo out of the picture, I cannot see Indiana doing much in these playoffs.  Kyrie Irving ruined the Celtics’ chemistry during the regular season, but I don’t think this will be as apparent in the playoffs, where the whole team will be motivated and willing to do whatever it takes to win it all.

The Pistons may have Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond to lead them, but that won’t be enough to pull off a series upset over Giannis Antetokounmpo and a powerful Milwaukee Bucks team.  However, the Celtics have multiple star players on their roster who will outplay Greek Freak’s teammates and help Boston win in the Eastern Conference semifinals.  I can’t see anyone getting in Toronto’s way until they face the Celtics.  The Raptors are by far the strongest team in their quadrant of the bracket, led offensively by Kyle Lowry and defensively by Kawhi Leonard.

But I do see Boston riding the momentum and overcoming adversity as they take down Toronto.  Their roster is stacked, so if the Celtics are on the same page motivation-wise and get off to a strong start (as I see them doing against Indiana), they could be a threat to Golden State.

The Warriors should not have a hard time with Western Conference opponents though.  Besides Boston, the Warriors are the only team I have sweeping their first round opponent.  The Rockets won’t be as easy an opponent as the Clippers, but a healthy Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will outplay James Harden and Chris Paul.  I could see the Thunder, KD’s old team, making a run as well.  Portland is known for playoff choking, and Denver’s lack of experience could come back to haunt them.  I think they should be able to handle the San Antonio Spurs, but the Thunder might be a bit much for an inexperienced team like the Nuggets.

Golden State, however, will end Oklahoma City’s run.  With Marcus Smart back and the team united by a common goal, the Celtics should have a chance at Golden State and I’m staying optimistic with this bracket.  I’m sick of Golden State winning, and it would make it even better if the Celtics could be the team to finally beat them.  As long as Kyrie Irving’s selfish ways don’t come back to haunt them, the Celtics should have a chance.

That’s all for my playoff predictions this year.  Stay tuned for more Celtics playoff coverage soon.

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Live on Boston Herald’s “The Rundown”, My First Sports Talk Radio Experience

On July 10th had the opportunity to co-host a Boston Herald radio show called “The Rundown” with John Sapochetti and Jet Striar.  I was invited by the Herald editor-in-chief, Joe Sciacca, who has been so generous to me these last few years, giving me an incredible tour back in 2015 and also inviting me back twice to do mini internships for the last two summers.

I had first met John Sapochetti in 2015 when I did my first mini internship at the Herald.  He is one of their most well-known sports talk radio personalities so I was really excited to learn that I would be his guest co-host.

We arrived at the Herald about 45 minutes before the show to discuss the on-air topics we would cover.  John greeted us in the Herald lobby and we sat in a break room near the newsroom and the radio studio.  I told him about my recent experiences covering the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle and my experience at the Red Sox game I attended the night before.  I had taken some notes at the game that I used on the air later on.  I also met his intern, Will Finley, who is also a huge Boston sports fan and specializes in sports research.  He had an impressive amount of stats that I found inspiring.  Shortly before we went on the air, I met John’s co-host, Jet Striar, an NBA guru and also a Boston sports fan.

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In the studio with John Sapochetti (left) and Jet Striar (right), my co-hosts for the day.

As I walked into the studio, I also met the show’s producer, Christian Burgoyne.  You may hear him make comments in the highlights from the show that I put in this blog post.  Moments later we put our headsets on and the show began.

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In the first segment, John introduced me to his audience and we talked about some things I noticed at the Red Sox game the night before.  After that, I took a quick break while John and Jet hosted a political guest, Luke Vargas.  It gave me a breather and a chance to reflect on how I did early on in the show.

When I returned, we talked about the All-Star Final Vote and how David Price has not met the expectations of the Red Sox fan base after receiving a 7 year, $217 million dollar contract.  Towards the end of the first hour,  we discussed J.D. Martinez.  He did not have a lot of suitors and he was underrated during the off-season.  I think that made it easier for Boston to sign him and so far the signing looks like the best Sox signing/acquisition since Chris Sale.

Below are some of the highlights from the first hour of the show:

In the second hour, we started with a continuation of our earlier baseball discussions.  We talked about what the Red Sox and Yankees might do at the trade deadline and how despite the fact that the Sox may catch a break with their easy schedule ahead, their next big test comes August 2nd against the Yanks.  The Yankees could upgrade their roster by then but the same could occur with the rest of the AL’s top teams, making the American League even more of a league of extremes as I mentioned later in the segment.

During our final segment we discussed some trending NBA off-season news like the Marcus Smart to Sacramento rumor.  We also talked about LeBron James’ signing with the Lakers, Portland’s need for another guy up front, Carmelo Anthony, and Kawhi Leonard.  At the end of the show, John thanked me for being on then I told him it was an honor.

Being on a live sports talk radio show was so surreal, which is why I’m so glad Christian gave me a copy of the whole show to listen to again and create highlights from the unbelievable experience.  I was on air for so much of the show that I had to break up the highlights into two 15-minute segments.

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Check out the second segment below.

I’d like to thank Joe Sciacca, John Sapochetti, Jet Striar, Christian Burgoyne, and Will Finley for making this experience possible.  Stay tuned for a more baseball posts coming soon including Bravehearts-Rox game experience from the press box.  For now, I’ll be taking a week off as I have more broadcasting training at Play-By-Play Sports Broadcasting Camp.

Bradley’s Buzzer Beater Leads Celtics to Victory

The Boston Celtics were trailing most of the game but came back to win 104-103 in the second half.  Evan Turner had a good night, earning himself a double-double (19 points, and a career high 12 rebounds), plus 6 assists.  Isaiah Thomas also contributed with 22 points, and Tyler Zeller had 16.

LeBron James also got 30 points for the opposing team, J.R. Smith had 20 and Kyrie Irving contributed 19 points plus 6 assists.  No Cavaliers players had double-doubles like Turner despite King James’ scoring showcase.  James honestly goes untouched cause the NBA wants to further promote their best stars like James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.

For most of the first quarter, the Cavs were destroying the Celtics, making some amazing plays.  The Celts were down by 12 or 13 most of the 1st quarter, and they were down 32-20 when the quarter ended.  To make matters worse, Isaiah Thomas rolled his ankle.

The Celtics were still trailing in the second but began to come back.  Thomas was back but LeBron James took one little rest and Kelly Olynyk led the Celts on a 12-2 run.  It was easier on the defense without King James but he returned and the Cavs scored 5 unanswered points.  By the end of the half they had cut the lead from the end of the first half, trailing just 49-43.  From the end of the 2nd to the start of the 3rd, they went on a quick 21-4 run. The run lasted from 6:24 left in the 2nd to the first two minutes of the 3rd.

The scoring started to slow down at that point.  Kevin Love in the meantime hobbled off the court with an ankle injury.  By the last two minutes of the third the Cavs were once again up by six.  They had made a run gaining 9 on the Celts through most of the 3rd.  But Love being in the locker room wouldn’t help.  At the end of the 3rd, it was 73-65 Cavaliers.  The Celtics regained control in the 4th quarter.

With Kevin Love out, the Celtics started the quarter with a 10-0 run.  LeBron James ended it with some go-ahead free throws.  9 minutes left.  There wasn’t much scoring besides free throws for the few minutes after that.  The Celts had another 11-2 run from the 6.5 minute mark to the 4 minute mark.  After that, the Cavs surged back with 9 straight points to regain the lead, 93-92.  This is where it began to get exciting.

The Celtics tied it up, but the Cavs answered with two 2-pointers and a free throw.  The Celtics answered with a basket to make it 99-96 Cavs .     The Celtics called time with eighteen seconds to go.

The last 18 seconds were especially exciting.  The Celts were down 101-96.  The Celtics got the ball and Bradley missed a long three pointer off the in-bounds.  Sullinger quickly rebounded it and tossed it to Jae Crowder who made an amazing three pointer from the corner that cut the Cavs’ lead to two points with 8 seconds left!!  The Celtics immediately fouled and the Cavs made both foul shots.  103-99 Cavs.  The Celtics called timeout again to take the in-bound in Cavaliers territory.  Evan Turner got the layup in just four seconds!  This time the Cavaliers fouled on Turner’s layup.  With the Celtics down by two Evan Turner had to intentionally miss the shot.  The ball tipped off two Cavs players before going out of bounds. The Celtics had the ball with 4.1 seconds left.

The officials gave the ball to Jae Crowder in front of the basket they were shooting into, then he passed it to Isaiah Thomas and Thomas tossed it to Avery Bradley.  Bradley bobbled the ball momentarily but regained control with enough time left to attempt a shot.  Avery Bradley released the 3-point buzzer beater from the corner and made it as time expired!!!!

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Avery Bradley shooting the game winning buzzer beater

The Celtics came back from a six point deficit at the half to defeat the Cavaliers 104-103!  They were trailing by thirteen to start the first quarter and slowly but surely they came back to win!!!   The Celtics advance to 30-22, while the Cavs fall to 35-14.

The Celts next play today at 1, hosting the Sacramento Kings.  Hopefully I can catch that game.  The Celtics are on a 3 game winning streak and have won 8 out of their last 9.  Can they keep it up?

Celtics Win 2nd Straight vs. Suns, Great Weekend for Boston?

A great weekend is already brewing for Boston sports fanatics.  The Celtics had a nice win over the Suns last night, the Bruins beat the Sabres 4-1, the Pats are bound to pounce on the Chiefs for revenge, and the Red Sox and Joe Kelly avoided arbitration with a one year deal.  The Celtics and B’s also play again today.

The Celtics won 117-103 over the Phoenix Suns.  This is the first time Boston has played the Suns since Isaiah Thomas was on the Phoenix Suns.  Thomas and Marcus Smart, who had his first career triple double, the youngest to do it (10 pts, 11 assists, 11 rebounds), helped them to a big win.  The game puts the C’s at 21-19.

Marcus Smart shooting for two of his 10 points that contributed to his triple-double.

Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder also each contributed 17 points, Kelly Olynyk scored 21 despite limited court time, Thomas gave in 19, and Jared Sullinger had a double-double.  So the offense was still booming like the 4th quarter of Celtics-Pacers, when they came back by constantly doing this pattern, steal, pass, run, shoot.  It got them 4 unanswered baskets.  This time, they had such a big lead at half that 2nd half struggles didn’t matter, they still held a lead.

The start was rough.  While the Suns got to shoot more, the Celtics got more 3 pointers, and they led 16-12 with 6 minutes to go.  The struggles continued throughout the quarter, but they piled up enough extra points to lead by 7 by the end of the 1st. They grabbed on to their largest lead when they went on a 22-5 run to end the 1st half.  Kelly Olynyk led the offense during the run, responsible for 13 of the 22  points.  Olynyk finished the game leading the offense with 21 points and 9 rebounds, most of it coming from just that portion of the game.  He made four 3-pointers, three during the second quarter.

In the 3rd quarter, the Suns began to come back.   For most of the quarter, they did it slowly, but they had a short 11-4 run at mid-quarter.  The Suns just barely outscored Boston 31-28 in the quarter.  They continued the slow comeback, but the Celtics were just scoring too much overall for the Suns to get too much of a move on.  They went from a 21 point to a 14 point deficit but still won, 117-103.

Mirza Teletovic and Brandon Knight had decent games combining for 38 points, but the Celtics had 4 players with at least 17 points, the Suns only had two that had at least 16, one that had 22.  Two players on the C’s had double or triple doubles, Phoenix had none.  Best of all, Isaiah Thomas was second in points for us, with 19.  If he did the same for Phoenix, but not us, we would’ve lost 122-98.  So the Isaiah Thomas trade was surely worth it.  The Celtics are beginning to look like a young, but powerful playoff team.  Their conference is the easier one to do well in, and their division’s only competitors are the Raptors, and possibly the Kristaps Porzingis led Knicks.  The season continues on.

Also be on the look out for my NBA mid-season report soon.  I will include playoff predictions, and will be preparing it after the Celts play their 41st game today.