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NBA: Ten Surprises To Look Out For This Season

The NBA season couldn’t return quick enough, and with official tip off already underway, it’s time for ChiSide’s annual NBA season outlook. This year I’ll be posting my thoughts on the unexpected. Last season brought us the unforgettable “Linsanity”, the emergence of the Denver Nuggets and the various trades that put the league on its head the league. With a full 82-game season slated, expect more of the same; expect the unexpected.

1. Kyrie Irving vaults himself into a top 15 player in the league

The 2011 number one overall selection had a rookie season better than superstar point guards Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook had. The next step for him is to become the players both are. While Irving does not have another Kevin Durant-type on his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a solid foundation that could make huge strides if Irving steps his game up significantly, which transitions into my next surprise…

2. The Cleveland Cavaliers will be a lot better than you think

Head coach Byron Scott has ironed out the kinks in his first two seasons managing the club. After a 19-win first year, Scott got the Cavs to 21 wins in 66 games (equivalent to 26 wins in 82 games), a seven game improvement. If all goes according to plan (barring key injuries), Cleveland can crack 40 wins. If Irving becomes transcendent, power forward Anderson Varejao stays healthy and second-year center Tristan Thompson makes a jump, the Cavs can win a lot of close contests in a weakened Eastern Conference that has lost superstars Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard.

The X-factor for Cleveland will be none other than Varejao. The crafty Brazilian, in my opinion, is as good as Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah. Varejao is one of the league’s best floppers (yes, this is a good thing) and draws offensive fouls at an astounding rate. He averaged 11 points and 11.5 rebounds in 31 minutes of play through 25 games last year. Noah averaged 10 and 10 last year in 30 minutes throughout a whole season. There’s no doubt that Varejao’s presence is vital to this team’s success.

3. The Los Angeles Lakers will not lead the league in wins

The Western Conference is tough and the Lakers have the oldest starting five in the league with an average age of 32. In addition to a full 82-game schedule, head coach Mike Brown will be preserving the legs of his older starters for a late playoff run. It would not be far-fetched if the Denver Nuggets were able to finish the regular season off with two-to-five more wins than the Lakers. Continue reading

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Chicago Bulls: Quiet Offseason Clears Way For Favorable Future

After leaving fans with a bad taste in their mouths at the conclusion of last season’s first round playoff exit, center Omer Asik and guard C.J. Watson have moved on to greener pastures.

In a league where teams can drastically improve overnight (see: 2011 Miami Heat, 2012 Brooklyn Nets), high expectations are to be had when the offseason rolls around. This goes especially for young, contending teams. Where high expectations are held, high expectations are rarely met. This is an adage that generally holds true and can explain what many bewildered Bulls fans are feeling right now in this frustrating free agency bid. Let’s recap some of the moves made so far: first, management lets superstar duster Brian Scalabrine walk (along with more prominent players such as rotation guard Ronnie Brewer, backup center Omer Asik, and backup point guard C.J. Watson). Players like Scals don’t grow on trees. Then, they trade the sharp-shooting Kyle Korver to Atlanta in exchange for a briefcase full of Benjamins and a trade exception (more on this later). And just like that, the bench mob is downgraded into something that resembles  more of a sob. Continue reading

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What the Bulls need to win their biggest game of the year

There’s no doubt that Game 3 in Miami is the Bulls’ biggest game of the year thus far. Coming off a disappointing 85-75 loss at the United Center, the Bulls must win Game 3 in order to keep the pressure off them and put it all on the Heat. The first step in winning Game 3 and the series is obviously to stop The Crybabies (Baby Bron Bron, Wittle Wade, Boshtrich), but there’s more to it than just that. Here’s what the Bulls absolutely need to do in order to close out Game 3 and the series:

  • Rebound, rebound, rebound! Did you know: The Heat have been out-rebounded in every game that they’ve lost against the Bulls. However, last game the Heat turned the tables and out-rebounded the Bulls and won the game. Also, the Heat’s top four players all had 7+ boards on their own (James: 10; Wade: 9; Bosh;  8; Miller; 7). Yes, Mike Miller somehow had the balls fall into his grasp seven times.
  • Asik and Destroy. Whenever The Turkish Delight is in the game, he seems to affect the Miami Heat offense dramatically. Last game, both Lebron and Wade had a lot of trouble getting to the basket while Asik was on the floor. Luckily, Wade was smart enough to tape a razor blade onto his elbow to take Asik out of the game.
  • You Booze(r), you lose. Game 3 should be a physical contest, and Boozer is anything but physical. Right now the only thing Boozer is good at is raising my blood pressure due to anger. Coach Thibodeau should only put him out on the floor when Bosh is out there, so these two can continue their nightly pillow fight. However, I’m pretty sure all of Chicago would rather have the Taj-ma-poster out there.
  • Hit shots. I don’t know an easier way to say it, but the Bulls were pitiful from the field last game. Brace yourself for these stats: 34% from the field, 15% from three-point land and 61.5% from the line. When Bogans and Brewer are among the top percentages from the field on your team, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
  • Korver. I honestly think the real Ashton Kutcher could sink more buckets. Korver went 1-7 last game from the field and 1-3 in Game 1.

Today’s theme song:

Hit me up on Twitter @Tucci_Bandana if you want me to send you the song.

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Song of the Day

Nelly-Number One

I understand this is the worst song I have ever posted, but give me a break, I’m still running on fumes after that Bulls victory. WOW. Derrick Rose once again put the team on his back, while Carlos Boozer did everything he could to make the Bulls lose. Whatever, a win is a win.

Back to Nelly, band aid rapper extraordinaire, he at least gives us a party anthem. The Number 1 label he places on himself was not unheard of at the time, Nelly stuck around for a solid 4-5 years of releasing top of the chart music. I don’t have much else to say about him though… so…..

WOW Derrick. I can’t wait for the rest of the playoffs. Go Boolz.

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