Eric Freeman

  • BDL's 2014-15 NBA Playoff Previews: Chicago Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 day ago

    How They Got Here

    • Chicago : The Bulls entered the season with legitimate hopes of making the NBA Finals for the first time since Michael Jordan's second retirement. Derrick Rose was returning from his second major knee injury in what seemed to be good health, Pau Gasol had signed as a free agent to add a second scoring option, lauded rookie Nikola Mirotic finally came over from Spain, and Jimmy Butler appeared ready to make a leap to stardom. Those expectations all played out to plan over the first few months. While Rose did not appear to have his pre-injury burst, he showed enough flashes to suggest that he could return to some approximation of his best days. Otherwise, Butler played like an All-Star (and became one), Gasol added another dimension to the offense (if at the expense of some of their defensive prowess), and the Cleveland Cavaliers struggled to open up opportunities for other teams. An 8-9 January suggested their were issues with the Bulls' setup, but there was hope that they could round into form by the postseason.

    Head to Head

    Likely Starting Lineups

    Key Matchups

    How Chicago Could Win

    How Milwaukee Could Win

    Prediction: Bulls in 5.

    EASTERN CONFERENCE

     

  • BDL's 2014-15 NBA Playoff Previews: Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 1 day ago

    How They Got Here

    • Golden State : Pegged as a mid-level playoff team and dark-horse contender entering the season, the Warriors merely had the best regular season in franchise history and arguably one of the best for any team ever. Their 67 wins are tied for the sixth-most all-time, while their average point differential of plus-10.1 beat the next closest team by 3.5 points per game. Only seven other teams have ever topped plus-10 over a full season, and only one of those didn't win the title. The postseason operates differently than the regular season, but they're not so far away as to keep the Warriors from entering the playoffs as favorites to win the whole thing. It doesn't hurt that they have homecourt advantage throughout and lost just two games at Oracle Arena all season.

    According to Yahoo's own Adrian Wojnarowksi, finishing eighth saved the jobs of head coach Monty Williams and general manager Dell Demps:

    Ownership gave GM Dell Demps and Monty Williams preseason mandate to make playoffs to keep jobs, w/ no allowance for injuries. They made it.

    Head to Head

    Likely Starting Lineups

    Key Matchups

    How Golden State Could Win

    How New Orleans Could Win

    EASTERN CONFERENCE

  • Nets nab East's No. 8 spot, but were Pacers the greater success?

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    Congratulations are due to the Brooklyn Nets, the final team to clinch a berth in the 2015 NBA postseason. After defeating the Orlando Magic 101-88 at Barclays Center and improving their record to 38-44, the Nets watched the Indiana Pacers fall to the Memphis Grizzlies 95-83 at FedEx Forum to draw the teams even in the standings. The Nets held the tiebreaker advantage due to a 2-1 victory in the season series and will now move on to the playoffs for the third time in three seasons in Brooklyn.

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    On-lookers could be forgiven for fearing the worst, but it turns out that George was diagnosed with a sore left calf and deemed questionable to return. It's worth keeping an eye on his status in coming days, although it now seems like a relatively minor ailment heading into a long offseason. George also seemed to be in good spirits after the game:

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  • The first round of the 2015 NBA playoffs is set

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    After six months and 82 games each for 30 teams, the field and seeds of the 2015 NBA Playoffs are in place. Need to know which teams are facing off and when they play? Check out our list of the matchups and schedules for the first round.

    WESTERN CONFERENCE

    No. 1 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 8 New Orleans Pelicans

    The Warriors sprinted to a franchise-best regular season and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs with the deepest roster in the league, an MVP candidate Stephen Curry, and a point differential that only a handful of teams in history have ever matched. Steve Kerr has never coached in a playoff series and no player on the roster has appeared in the NBA Finals, but this squad is the favorite to come out of the West in June.

    New Orleans exceeded expectations behind a historically great season from 22-year-old superstar Anthony Davis and a strong finish to overtake the Oklahoma City Thunder for the West's final playoff spot. They will be considerable underdogs, but Davis's first playoff series could prove meaningful as a step toward greater success in the future.

    No. 4 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies

    EASTERN CONFERENCE

    * if necessary

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  • NBA Playoff Picture: One night remains with so much left to decide

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    The final day of the NBA regular season is upon us, nearly six months since the San Antonio Spurs received their 2014 title rings on opening night. However, we're not especially close to figuring out the eight first-round playoff series set to begin this weekend. Only one matchup has been set — the East's No. 2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the No. 7 Boston Celtics, who beat the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night to clinch that seed.

    As such, Wednesday's 14-game slate involves many different seeding scenarios dependent on a number of possible results. It's easiest to break things down by conference first and team second, so let's start with the East, where things are a little easier to follow.

    1. Atlanta Hawks

    2. Cleveland Cavaliers

    3. Chicago Bulls or Toronto Raptors

    4. Toronto Raptors or Chicago Bulls

    5. Washington Wizards

    6. Milwaukee Bucks

    7. Boston Celtics

    7. Dallas Mavericks

  • Jae Crowder's tough winner lifts Celtics over Raptors, locks up 7 seed

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 3 days ago

    The first matchup of the 2015 NBA Playoffs has officially been set. With a dramatic 95-93 win over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night, the Celtics locked up the No. 7 seed in the East. They can now plan for a first-round matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the only series decided heading into the final day of the regular season.

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    Tuesday's victory came in thrilling fashion. Celtics wing Evan Turner had a hand in two baskets in the final 35 seconds (first with his own jumper off an inbound, then with a pass to Tyler Zeller with a lay-up), but Raptors guard Kyle Lowry answered each with a lay-up to create a 93-93 tie entering the final 10 seconds of regulation.

    Terrence Ross blocked Turner's first attempt at a winner, but the Celtics got the ball back out of bounds. Marcus Smart found Jae Crowder from the baseline, but there was no guarantee that this tough fallaway jumper would go in:

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  • Paul Pierce questions Nets and opines on many more teammates

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 3 days ago

    Paul Pierce made news in the summer of 2013 when he accepted and welcomed a trade from the Boston Celtics, the only team he had known in his NBA career, to the Brooklyn Nets. The idea was that Pierce and Kevin Garnett would help the Nets compete for a championship — instead, they struggled to the sixth seed in a top-heavy East, defeated the Toronto Raptors in seven games in the first round, and won just a single game against the Miami Heat before elimination. Pierce left Brooklyn for the Washington Wizards as a free agent this summer, and virtually no one would call his single season with the Nets a resounding success.

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  • NBA Playoff Picture Update: Creeping towards clarity

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 4 days ago

    With less than one week remaining until the NBA postseason, every night can impact the standings. The NBA Playoff Picture Update keeps you up to date on all the most important news for all 16 berths and seeds.

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    Gunnin' for that No. 8 Spot: The two tightest races in the West intertwined on Sunday when the Houston Rockets hosted the New Orleans Pelicans. Tied at 86-86 entering the fourth quarter, the Rockets ended up with a 121-114 victory behind 30 points from James Harden and 47 points split between reserves Josh Smith, Pablo Prigioni, and Corey Brewer. Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting, but they could not get the necessary stops in the final period.

    The result held much better news for the Pacers, who are now tied with the Brooklyn Nets for eighth place in the East but occupy the No. 9 spot via the lost tiebreaker. We'll discuss this scenario more when we get to the Nets' fortunes on Sunday.

    Monday's Most Important Games

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  • Russell Westbrook's career-high 54 can't avoid OKC loss, potential suspension

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 5 days ago

    Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has been one of the leading figures of the 2014-15 season, an overwhelming force who has taken on near-unprecedented levels of responsibility with long-term injuries to teammates Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. He is no longer an especially serious MVP candidate, but it's arguable that Westbrook is the single-most fascinating player in the NBA right now.

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    The bigger problem is that they are probably going to need to win both their remaining games, the first of which could come without their essential star. Referee Ed Malloy tagged Westbrook with his 16th technical foul of the season at the 5:57 mark of the fourth quarter after he said some words following a foul call on the perimeter. Take a look:

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  • NBA Playoff Picture Update: Grizzlies hold on to No. 2 for another day

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 6 days ago

    With just one week remaining until the NBA postseason, every night can impact the standings. The NBA Playoff Picture Update keeps you up to date on all the most important news for all 16 berths and seeds.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    The Name of This Blog: The race for the No. 2 seed in the West could come down to tiebreakers, but the real margin might be a matter of inches. Our rundown of Friday's standings-shifting results starts in Salt Lake City, where the Memphis Grizzlies led the Utah Jazz 89-86 on the final possession of the game. Gordon Hayward got an opportunity for the tie from the corner but appeared to be blocked by Marc Gasol. However, referees called a foul, sending Hayward to the line for three free throws. You can watch video of the play in the highlights here ...

    ... or check out this screengrab to see if he got ball. It looks like he did:

    They called a foul on Marc Gasol on the Hayward three that would've tied it. I'm sure if Rockets fans see this... pic.twitter.com/bf6mg0OXlh

    I can't explain it either.

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