AC’S Spotlight Episode 23-Previewing the NBA Season W/ Rafael Canton

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AC is joined by Rafael Canton of NBA Trades to Preview the season. They discuss the Kevin Durant injury and how it impacts the Thunder. They also go around the league including LeBron and the Cavs, the Bulls, with some Knicks Lakers talk and look forward to a great NBA season. You can listen to the podcast here. Many thanks to Raf for joining me.

The Broncos Won In A Loss If Possible

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When you look at the final box score of what turned out to be a classic battle of the two teams that were in the last Super Bowl you’ll see that Seattle won the game 26-20. Russell Wilson’s drive in OT won’t be given enough credit for how poised, remarkable, and clutch it actually was. He led the Seahawks all the way down the field until Marshawn Lynch ran it in to close it out. Seattle wins a home game that they were expected to win. The Broncos don’t get their “revenge”, at least maybe not yet. While Peyton Manning had to be frustrated on the sideline watching a probably tired Denver D get ran and thrown on down the stretch, Denver in the loss has to take some good things from this effort.

On the offensive side their pass protection was excellent which was a huge issue in the Super Bowl. For the most part Manning(only sacked once) had plenty of times to make plays. While I thought Denver was incredibly conservative to start the game (running draws on 3rd and long) they were careful with the football with the exception of the great INT by Kam Chancellor. Obviously we get to the great 2 minute drive at the end of the 4th quarter by Manning but we also have to look at the much maligned Denver D for most of this game.

I thought despite how good Russell Wilson played the Broncos defense was physical. They did the best they could with Lynch (26 carries 88 yards) and played a strong solid game until overtime. Yes there will be issues with that final drive, and there are no moral victories in football. Denver can take a look at this game going forward and see that their play stepped up a notch from last season. The additions that they made on both sides of the ball will pay dividends going forward. Seattle is the best team until proven otherwise, but the Broncos have closed the gap. As both teams go into their bye week, Denver gets a chance early to mentally prepare themselves for another all or nothing season. Seattle comes away a winner again against Peyton & Co., but they know they were in a dog fight. If there was ever a time for Denver to get a W in a loss, this was the case.

A Giant Team On The Precipice

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What was that saying? 0-2 teams don’t usually make the playoffs, let alone win a division title. That may be different in the NFC East this year as there are no supreme favorites. Yes the Eagles are 2-0, but I have to see more from their defense plus more from Nick Foles before I can really count on them. The Cowboys will find a way to lose about 5 games in shoot yourself in the foot type of fashion and also lose a couple more along the way. The Redskins got their first win of the season but lost their QB Robert Griffin III again to injury. Many believe Kirk Cousins may be the answer, I believe the jury is still out on that. That leaves us with the New York Giants who are 0-2 going into Sunday’s virtual must win. Only 3 teams have made the playoffs starting 0-3 since the NFL went to a 12 team playoff format in 1990. How can the Giants avoid that?

Avoiding mistakes has been a big issue in the 1st two games as the Giants have lost the turnover battle in both losses to the Lions and Cardinals. Eli Manning is still attempting to get things going with the new West Coast offense as he’s thrown 4 INTs in the first two contests. Defensively the Giants were cut up in Week 1, slightly better in Week 2 but couldn’t do enough. Truth be told this Giants team at this current moment doesn’t do anything particularly well, which forebodes disaster at some point. The Houston Texans are coming into Metlife this Sunday at 2-0 with a fierce pash rush and a strong running game. If there was ever a game that was imperative for the Giants to get one for the W column, it would be this one. The Giants next 8 games include Dallas twice, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Philadelphia. 0-3 would be a near certain death to the season.

What would that mean for Tom Coughlin, who has had back to back non playoff seasons? Whether it’s right or not people will be looking to him and his job being on the line if the Giants continue down this negative road. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very early in the season and we’ve seen the Giants turn around from things of this nature before, but can they do it again with this roster? I just don’t know if they’re good enough. We’ll find out Sunday if they can begin to show us there is still fight left in the franchise.

AC’S Spotlight Episode 22-Examining Seahawks/Broncos and More NFL

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With all the drama going on in the NFL regarding the commissioner and domestic violence just taking over at an alarming rate over the past two weeks, it’s been hard to talk about the games and rightfully so. I’ll try and depart from that mostly in the latest episode of my podcast as a rematch of last year’s Super Bowl as the Seattle Seahawks host the Denver Broncos in Seattle this Sunday. How changed are these two teams since the big game at Metlife? Bob Condotta of the Seattle times joins me to talk about that, how the Seahawks have managed in defending their title thus far, what to look out for on Sunday, and go around the league as well. Special thanks to Bob for joining me, as he does a great job covering the team. As always you can check the podcast here or go to Itunes. Keep listening!

 

AC’S Spotlight Episode 21-The Minefield of Sports W/ Sean Grande

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It’s my first podcast in 3 months, and what a time to come back. Considering the fact that we have the NFL starting and not getting off to the greatest of starts due to the Ray Rice situation, plus you add in the what’s going on with the Atlanta Hawks ownership group and management, it changes the landscape of the conversation. Eventually in this podcast I’ll talk some NBA offseason and get to the nuts and bolts, but these issues have to be addressed.

Coming on to discuss this with me is the radio voice of the Boston Celtics Sean Grande. Sean is a friend of the program and we got into all these topics. I’m back people, listen up! Check the podcast on Itunes, or here!

 

AC’S Spotlight Episode 20-NBA Draft and Free Agency w/ Zach Harper

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So the 2014 NBA Draft came and went Thursday night and we have a bunch of brand new faces in the league hoping to make their mark. Did anyone win the draft? Who fared worse or better between the Celtics and Lakers?  I break down the draft and talk some Free Agency w/ Zach Harper of CBS Sports. Zach as always is a great guest, and we continue on chatting about the LeBron sweepstakes, who’s getting Carmelo and where does he fit, Knicks philosophies, Sixers philosophies As always you can check this podcast here or on Itunes. Thanks everyone for continuing to listen!

AC’S Spotlight Episode 19-Free Agency and Trade Bonanza W/ Rafael Canton

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So I guess the NBA offseason has really started to pick up! The Knicks and Mavericks have a deal that seems to be going through involving Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton going to the Mavericks for Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin, Samuel Dalembert, 2 2nd round picks and Wayne Ellington. It’s the 1st trade of the Phil Jackson era, and what will come of it? On the podcast today Rafael Canton of NBA Trades came on to discuss the deal and what it means for the Knicks and does this signal the end of Melo as a Knick?

Also we discussed the rest of Free Agency, who fits better for Melo, the Bulls or Rockets? Included is chat on the Heat and what LeBron James will do along with Wade and Bosh, the Kevin Love situation, and Raf’s favorite draft night trades. Take a listen, and many thanks to Raf for coming on, fun conversation as usual. You can listen to this podcast here or go on Itunes to check it out.

AC’S Spotlight Episode 18-The NBA Finals & The Latest With The Knicks

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As the NBA Finals continue with the Spurs and the Heat there’s plenty to talk about in that series as it advances to it’s 4th game. Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal comes on to discuss the Spurs historic 1st half in Game 3, Miami’s chances to win this series and of course the rumors of Carmelo Anthony going to Miami and how legit it may be. We also talk some Knicks. In addition, Ian Begley of ESPN NY.com comes on to talk about the Knicks hiring of Derek Fisher and what’s next for the franchise as far as the roster is concerned. Many thanks to both gentlemen, you can listen to this podcast here or on Itunes.

 

The Thunder Have A Bright Future, But It Could Be Brighter

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When Scott Brooks said the Thunder had a successful season, he couldn’t have been more right about that statement. 59 wins with a ton of injuries including losing Russell Westbrook for 36 games is a great accomplishment. Kevin Durant and Westbrook continuing to improve individually and collectively is important as well as they continue to lead this team. Serge Ibaka clearly showing his value and his importance as the 3rd best player on the team. Reggie Jackson has slotted himself in as another important cog of this team and a core piece. All of this matters, but Scott Brooks and Sam Presti need to do more to let Durant and Westbrook’s games flourish together and surround them and Ibaka with enough talent to get to the next level.

This season has never been more clearer to me in the sense that Durant and Westbrook can win a championship together, they complement each other on the court and they symbolize the two man wrecking crew in such a ferocious and awesome way. I think TNT’s  Kenny Smith made a great point on the post game yesterday about Brooks needing to be harder on them. Their halfcourt offense as we’ve all said leaves something to be desired. Their bench with some of the young players they have could be developed better. Diversified lineups and diversified offense would be great for this team.

I used to think that Scott Brooks should be fired because he seemed to not have an idea of what he’s doing, but I have to be fair. He’s been to 3 Western Conference Finals and 1 NBA Finals in his short coaching career. You can say KD, Russ, Harden, Ibaka and such but someone has to guide them there. His positive reinforcement is refreshing in a lot of respects, you don’t see coaches like Brooks in the league very much anymore. Just like any player though, he has room to improve and he has to get their offense right.

Kevin Durant also needs to get easier baskets for himself. As great as he is there are so many great defenses that lock in come playoff time and make his shots more difficult than they need to be. I don’t think its as simple as him posting up like Barkley says, but as crazy as it sounds he can get even better in making life easier for himself on the offensive end. Westbrook has improved plenty with his decision making and he could play on my team anytime, but I think the Thunder have to help him out. I don’t think he should be the point guard all the time. Assuming Derek Fisher finally retires, they need a guy they can slot in as a backup point so either Jackson or Westbrook can be the two guard. It will open up things immensely and give the Thunder different ways to attack their opponents.

On the wings I’d love to see Perry Jones and Jeremy Lamb play more, I feel like they could be significant contributors on this team. Also just playing different lineups and having different looks is the way the league has gone. That would be great to see. This team isn’t far away from a championship. When you have the 2nd best player in the game and arguably another one in the top 5, a title is in their future. It’s up to everyone in Oklahoma City to look at themselves in the mirror, and take it a step further. The Thunder have a bright future, but man it could be brighter if there were certain tweaks.

The Spurs Trip Back To The Scene Of The Crime

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“We Got Four More To Win, We’ll Do It This Time.” Tim Duncan

At the end of Game 6, as San Antonio did something that not many thought they could do after one of the most excruciating losses in the history of the Finals, they dusted themselves off and are now back in the same position. Not only that, they have homecourt and the motivation of redemption for themselves. After knocking off the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 in Oklahoma City, a place the Spurs hadn’t won in 9 tries, we as fans get the Finals rematch that has been worth the wait.

When Duncan made that quote last night, I had a flashback to Game 6 in Miami last season. While watching that game particularly in the 1st half I saw Duncan play like a man determined to finishing the job, getting a ring for the thumb and walking off into the sunset. I thought it was going to be his retirement game; but obviously LeBron James and the Heat had other plans. So here’s Duncan, Parker, Manu, and Popovich all looking to redeem themselves against the team trying to make history and etch their names in stone as the new dynasty in NBA lore. Miami with a title win here earns that right. The Spurs can bookend that first title in 1999 with a 5th title.

I believe Duncan if the Spurs win will retire with 5 rings and a perfect close to a career. There is a lot on the line here historically for both of these squads, but the matchup will be exquisite from a basketball standpoint. That’s how it’s supposed to be. In the days before the Finals take place, we’ll look back on last season’s classic, and that it was. Heat/Spurs for the 2nd time in a row. Get ready.