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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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Filed under basketball, blake pon, chicago bulls, sports, video

ChiSide’s 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Preview

The 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs was an absolute doozy to witness. Although my beloved Chicago Blackhawks were eliminated in a mere six total games, my eyes never ceased to deviate from the rest of the competition that was going on. Thus far, there have been a total of 23 games that have gone into sudden death overtime, the most since 2003, which also had 23 overtime games. The NHL record for overtimes in a playoff is 28, set in 1993. The record could be broken if the extraordinary happens in this year’s final, which would have to result in, at least, a six game series in which every game extends beyond 60 minutes. A side note to those unfamiliar: Nothing is more nerve-wracking than observing your team sacrifice body after body in order to keep that tiny, disk-shaped piece of vulcanized rubber from crossing the goal line. Nothing. A great number of fans from Chicago and Phoenix, as well as myself, had to endure five consecutive cardiac-arrest-inducing wars between the Blackhawks and Coyotes. Even though the Yotes came out on top, it’s safe to say I loved every minute of it (this is easier to say a few weeks afterwards). No sport conveys suspense and sense of urgency like hockey. It’s simply unparalleled.

What makes hockey so great is that, no matter what happens at the end of the regular season, all sixteen teams have an equivalent shot at hoisting the most majestic trophy in all of sports. This year’s playoffs further attest that statement, as we are set to watch the eight-seeded Los Angeles Kings face-off against the six-seeded New Jersey Devils. The Kings have been wiping up the floor with everyone they’ve played so far, losing only two games in the entire playoffs. This includes the top three Western Conference teams, the pesky Vancouver Canucks, the St. Louis Blues, and the Phoenix Coyotes. The Devils, on the other hand, have had scares against the Florida Panthers, who took them to seven games, as well as the number one-seed New York Rangers, who took them to six.

I’m going to compose this preview in a more abnormal way than I usually go about by just giving five thoughts about the matchup, instead of breaking down every facet of each team and comparing the two. I’d like to imagine these opinions will enlighten those new to the sport as well as the hardened veterans that have watched the game for the past 20 years. Enjoy. Continue reading

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Song of the Day

One of the most slept-on artists that I know of, LA & Mr. Music are a Chicago duo who combine smooth singing (per Mr. Music) with the floetry of LA to create a unique and distinct sound. The song featured today is called “Best Days” and is based on the time when we were all carefree kids. Make sure you give this one a listen. Mr. Music’s catchy hook and LA’s dope rhymes should be more than enough to make you a fan.

[audio http://www.fileden.com/files/2011/2/22/3085020//Best Days.mp3]

Click here to download “Best Days”.

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Filed under blake pon, music, SOTD