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The NBA Finals Post

After a heartbreaking Game 7 defeat, Boston Celtics guard Keyon Dooling said it best:

“Everybody should relax a little bit,” Dooling said. “He is great for the game. He is our game. We need to uplift him, instead of try to tear him down. He is a guy who is the most unselfish superstar I have ever seen. He rebounds the ball, assists the ball and empowers his friends from his community. He is a model citizen. He should not have a stain on his reputation. I hope that it stops.”

No, Dooling wasn’t uplifting any of his teammates. He was praising his opponent, Miami Heat’s Lebron James.

As a Chicagoan, a cursory glance at my Twitter feed during Heat games reveals the same old jabs and jeers at the three-time MVP: “Lebron sucks!”, “Lebron will never get a ring!” “*Insert unoriginal fourth quarter joke here*”. It’s all non-sense. This is a new year, and frankly, I don’t see where Lebron went wrong. He shut his mouth and played the best basketball of his life. The beauty of these NBA Finals is that he has the chance to quiet the noise. What’s even better is that he can accomplish the feat over the greatest competition available, leaving no excuse for fans to continually deride him.

Everyone wanted Lebron to falter in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but I did not. I wasn’t ready to watch the Thunder steamroll a far inferior (and a far more dull) opponent in another unexciting Finals. This year’s matchup may be will be the most exciting in a decade. When was the last time we saw the top two MVP vote-getters, the Sixth Man of the Year and five total All-Stars competing for the O’Brien trophy? I don’t know if that’s happened since MJ left the game. As much as you hate Lebron, trust me, you wanted him here all along. This is when you should be rooting for him to fail.

Not to take anything away from OKC’s prized possession, forward Kevin Durant. He brings as much to the table as James does, but in a more reserved manner. Durant doesn’t have to deal with media scrutiny, as he is the antithesis of James’ public persona: beloved,  uncriticized, uplifted. There’s not much to say about him that is new.  The clash of differences between the two stars, however, summons the cliché “good vs. evil” storyline, which just adds to the fire. You wouldn’t have found that in a Thunder-Celtics matchup.

I’m going to continue the format of five thoughts for the series as I did in my NHL preview. I’ll try and keep the stats to a minimum (doubtful). Here we go:

1. The Presence of Bosh

It was obvious that Miami’s previous two victories couldn’t have happened without the return of Bosh. It may have taken an epic Game 7 80% shooting performance that included knocking down a career high three of four three pointers for fans to realize that he’s an undervalued asset to the Heat’s success. During the regular season, the Heat were 42-15 with Bosh on the floor and a mere 4-5 without him. In the playoffs, they are 7-2 with Bosh playing 5-4 without Bosh seeing action. If Bosh continues red-hot shooting from outside, this series can end a game or two early as defense will have to respect him and stretch the floor, opening lanes for Lebron and Wade to penetrate.

2. Turnovers

An overlooked factor all playoffs has been OKC’s atypical ball protection. During the regular season, the Thunder led the league in turnover ratio, but was able to improve vastly upon that throughout the playoffs, by becoming the second best team in protecting the ball. This can be attributed to the Thunder playing opposition that weren’t exactly huge generators of turnovers, which the Heat are. The Heat, however, didn’t force many turnovers against a usually turnover-prone Boston team. It’s safe to say that PG Russell Westbrook is much more reckless with the ball than Rajon Rondo, though, so the stats may fluctuate back to their norms.

3. Heat X-Factor: Dwyane Wade

Wade has been surprisingly inconsistent in this year’s playoffs. The absence of Bosh may have had a huge affect on that, allowing teams like the Celtics to double-team him constantly, turning him into a jump shooter (one skill he does not excel at). The Thunder do not have the quickness on the perimeter to close out space as the Celtics could do, so we may see more of those patented 25-5-5 games.

4. Thunder X-Factor: Russell Westbrook

I feel as if the Thunder live and die by Westbrook’s play. When the Thunder drop games, you can’t help but look towards Westbrook to see a sub-35% shooting night coupled with a near one-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio. On the other hand, Westbrook has the capability of taking control of the game and scoring at will. The Heat defense will be his toughest task to date, and I really don’t see him breaking it more than one time all series.

5. Thoughts & Predictions

I think this series will mirror the Thunder-Spurs series. Pundits all around will assume the Thunder have the edge, and they will look good… for two games. Lebron will turn on his “Game 6 face” and go off for another spectacular 40+ point-near-triple-double performance in a win to tie the series or take the lead. Durant will be impossible to quiet, as usual, but will not be able to close out the series thanks to a few careless Westbrook games. Like the Spurs, the Thunder won’t know what’s coming after facing three teams with mediocre defending. The Heat will suffocate Westbrook and Harden and force turnovers which will lead to dozens of fast break buckets. Bosh will render Ibaka ineffective by forcing him to the perimeter. Four to five of the games will be instant classics, possibly overtime thrillers. Most will end with only a 3-5 point disparity between the two teams. With that said…

Heat in six games

Finals MVP: Lebron James

And I’ll leave you to a completely irrelevant song that has been on repeat in my Itunes 24/7 since Sunday night:

 

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The Official 2012 Lollapalooza Lineup

Lineup: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Sabbath, Black Keys, Jack White, Justice, Avicii, Florence + the Machine, Passion Pit, the Shins, Sigur Ros, Fun., M83, Franz Ferdinand, Metric, Dawes, the Temper Trap, Die Antwoord, Mona, the Growlers, the Gaslight Anthem, Hey Rosetta!, JEFF the Brotherhood, Band of Skulls, Anamanaguchi, SBTRKT, First Aid Kit, Tame Impala, Wax, the Walkmen, FIDLAR, JJ Grey & Mofro, LP, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, At the Drive In, the Afghan Whigs, Miike Snow, Bloc Party, Delta Spirit, the Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Michael Kiwanuka, Gary Clark Jr., Alabama Shakes, Tune-Yards, Sharon Van Etten.

Milo Greene, Neon Indian, Dum Dum Girls, Kopecky Family Band, Washed Out, the Jezabels, Aloe Blacc, Trampled by Turtles, Yuna, Bear in Heaven, Walk Off the Earth, Blind Pilot, Animal Kingdom, Chairlift, Dev, J. Cole, the Black Angels, the Sheepdogs, Yellow Ostrich, the Dunwells, GIVERS, DJ Mel, Polica, Empires, Bombay Bicycle Club, Kevin Devine, Wale, Childish Gambino, Doomtree and Macklemore & Lewis.

Dry the River, White Rabbits, Helena, Haley Reinhart, Imaginary Cities, the Head & the Heart, the Devil Makes Three, Overdoz, the Big Pink, Oberhofer, Ambassadors, Twin Shadow, the War on Drugs, DJ Zebo, the Tallest Man on Earth, Chancellor Warhol, Toro Y Moi, O Rappa, Laura Warshauer, Dr. Dog, Bowerbirds, Red Oblivion, Of Monsters and Men, Orchard Lounge, Los Jaivas,  Amadou & Mariam.

Perry’s stage: Bassnectar, Santigold, Skream & Benga, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Kaskade, Little Dragon, Star Slinger, Calvin Harris, Porter Robinson, Nadastrom, NERO, Sub Focus, DJ Nihal, Madeon, the White Panda, Knife Party, Zedd, SALVA, Zeds Dead, Paper Diamond, Kid Color, Big Gigantic.

Bold = Headliners

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Mixtape: Hodgy Beats “Untitled” EP

Hodgy Beats quietly dropped his latest EP, which goes Untitled. I haven’t gotten deep into this one yet, but from what I’ve heard, the production is off the charts. Hodgy sidesteps from the usual in-house production to guys like The Alchemist, Flying Lotus, and Juicy J. Listen below:

Download it here.

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Video: Tyler, The Creator – She ft. Frank Ocean

As a pretty big OF fan, “She” wasn’t as good as I expected it to be. The official music video above, directed by Tyler himself, is fitting and contains some cool/funny eggs hidden throughout. Let me know what you think.

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Artist Spotlight: The Weeknd

Sorry for missing yesterday’s song of the day, folks! Hopefully today’s artist spotlight will make it up to you (it should). Today’s artist spotlight is the mysterious R&B singer The Weeknd. The Weeknd is not a group or collab as many believe, but a lone 20-year-old from Toronto. Like former spotlighted artist Frank Ocean, The Weeknd has made significant waves from his single mixtape that he has released, titled House of Balloons (available for download below).

The Weeknd takes samples from a variety of genres from artists like Beach House (“Loft Music”) and Siouxsie and the Branshiees (House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls) to create a unique electro hip-hop and indie vibe. The Weeknd also combines synths and heavy bass to add even more distinction to his sensual lyrics.

(Allow some time to buffer)

Much of The Weeknd’s fame has come from a co-sign from Young Money artist Drake. Drake has recently been tweeting lyrics from The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games”. There have also been rumors that Drake’s producer, Noah “40” Shebib, worked on House of Balloons. The rumors were quickly dispelled by The Weeknd himself via twitter.

What does The Weeknd sound like? In my opinion, he combines the best of Drake’s R&B voice and lyrics with those of The-Dream. Some songs give you a classic 90s R&B vibe while others will give off a futuristic and indie feel. It’s no stretch to say that The Weeknd and Frank Ocean can reshape R&B music in dramatic fashion.

But how much of an impact can The Weeknd really make on the R&B scene? After all, there are no guarantees that The Weeknd will grow as an artist. House of Balloons is a fantastic debut mixtape, but there is still room for improvement. Do classic R&B fans really dig the new indie-R&B fusion that The Weeknd brings to the table? Or is this just a fad of 2011 that will soon disappear into darkness? Frank Ocean and The Weeknd certainly are giving fans something to talk about, but let’s see if they can actually permeate that talk rather than become afterthoughts like many artists have become. Give the tape a listen and let me know what you think.

Click here to download House of Balloons.

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Artist Spotlight: Frank Ocean

Today’s SOTD will be replaced by a very special music spotlight on none other than R&B singer Frank Ocean. After reading his interview with Complex magazine, I realized how much of a diamond-in-the-rough this guy is. Ocean has one of the purest voices in the game and I think he will eventually rival Trey Songz and Drake in the upcoming years on the R&B scene. Ocean is similar to rising star Skylar Grey, in that he produces and writes music for some of today’s biggest stars (according to Complex, Ocean has written songs for John Legend, Justin Bieber and Brandy, a pretty impressive list for a 23 year old) and is first now getting into the biz itself as an artist. He’s also recently been seen in the studio with Beyonce.

To date Ocean has released one “album” (more like a mixtape, but Ocean calls it an album), the wildly popular nostalgia,ULTRA which has been getting downloaded at a rapid rate as word is spreading about Ocean. On the album, Ocean sings over some of today’s most popular instrumentals, including songs from Coldplay, The Eagles and MGMT. Ocean can’t make beats, he explained to Complex, he’s more of a song writer and a producer.

[audio http://www.fileden.com/files/2011/2/22/3085020//10 swim good.mp3]

Above is the song “Swim Good” off of nostalgia,ULTRA.

Click here to download “Swim Good”.

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you that Ocean is a part of the insane rap group Odd Future, but he is. Ocean met Tyler, the Creator and others and is an associated act with them. In his interview with Complex, Ocean says that Odd Future is “family” and that he “knew them before all the attention”.

Recently, Ocean released a new song titled “Pyrite (Fool’s Gold)”, which was a leftover track off of his album nostalgia,ULTRA. Ocean sings over an acoustic accompaniment which lets his voice take spotlight. Take a listen below.

[audio http://www.fileden.com/files/2011/2/22/3085020//Frank Ocean – Pyrite Fools Gold.mp3]

Click here to download “Pyrite (Fool’s Gold)”.

Click here to download nostalgia,ULTRA (65MB).

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