When LeBron James made the jump to play for the Miami Heat so many years ago fans instantly thought of him as a redcoat, a traitor, and someone worth only of scorn. Now that he’s back home, trying to fix the franchise that made him a millionaire, fans are back on his side. The problem so far in 2014 hasn’t been LeBron’s effort, but the execution of the entire team. With stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving at his side fans expected the Cavaliers to get out and win 82 games, or at least 80% of them. Instead the Cavaliers struggled and fans started to grow impatient. What was wrong? Why was LeBron being so passive? Well, King James erupted in a huge way last night against the Charlotte Hornets as the Cavs won another game to push their record to 14-9.
The Cleveland Cavaliers may be the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference right now, only a handful of games ahead of lowly Milwaukee, but they have won 8 of their last 10 games and they appear primed to keep climbing the ladder. LeBron James seems to have found his old assertiveness and he punctuated his confidence against the Hornets when he compiled a ridiculous 27 point, 13 assist, 7 rebound performance. Things are looking better, but Zeca Oliveira is anxious to know-will they stay that way?
Kevin Love is the missing piece in what the Cavaliers hopes to be a championship season. In Minnesota he was the #1 guy and he never had to share the ball. It took some adjusting but it looks like Love is finally understanding his role in the Cleveland offense and boy do they keep winning because of it.
Whichever is your favorite NBA team, you have to like what the Golden State Warriors have done so far. Currently, they’re number six overall in points allowed per game with 95.6, number 4 overall in points per game PPG with 106.8, number 3 overall in rebounds per game RPG with 45.7, number 2 overall in assists per game ASG with 25.7, and hold the number 1 record overall with 19 wins and 2 losses according to ESPN NBA at http://espn.go.com/nba/team/_/name/gs/golden-state-warriors.
And, whoever you consider the best Point Guard/Shooting Guard combination in the NBA, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson has to rank close to the top this season. Here we are one-fourth of the way through the season and the “Splash Brothers” are averaging 23 and 21.2 PPG respectively. Brad Reifler feels like they might be the best backcourt in the NBA. With Klay shooting a career best 41 points in a recent game against the Lakers and Curry leading the team in several statistical categories, they are indeed making a splash in the NBA this season.
Their upcoming road trip will tell a lot about the prowess of this team. With David Lee still on the bench with a hamstring injury, Andrew Bogut, who leads the team with 9.3 RPG and 2.2 blocks per game had his knee drained and will miss at least the next two games. The three-game road trip starts in Dallas against the 17 game winning Mavericks and ends with another matchup against a 17 game winning team in Memphis, which includes the hot-handed Marc Gasol. Playing three road games in-a-row is tough enough, but when the team’s leading rebounder will sit and watch at least two of those games, the rest of the team will have to step up their game.
Bogut’s absence should mean more playing time for Marreese Speights, who is averaging 12.5 PPG and more importantly 5.3 RPG with just 16.5 minutes per game average playing time, those numbers are pretty impressive. Bogut’s sit could easily mean more playing time for Festus Ezeli as well, but if you’re a fantasy player looking to add some rebounds and points during the next few games, you could do a lot worse than Speights.
There could be a change in the power rankings in the NBA before this road trip winds down. Perched atop the power ranking in the NBA can be a precarious position, particularly playing on the road, in a different time zone, against the Mavs and the Grizzlies, who rank number six and number 2 respectively, according to the Bleacher Report: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2296371-2014-2015-nba-power-rankings-at-the-quarter-mark-of-the-season.
How will Johnny Manziel fare as a starting quarterback in the NFL? Many have asked that question since the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner was selected by the Cleveland Browns in this year’s draft. Come Sunday, we might have our answer.
Manziel will reportedly get the start for the Browns when they host the Cincinnati Bengals. This follows Brian Hoyer’s poor performance in Cleveland’s 25-24 loss to Indianapolis last Sunday, in which he was 14-31 passing for 140 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. For the season, Hoyer has 11 touchdown passes, but 12 interceptions. The Browns are 7-6 and in last place in the AFC North, but the three teams ahead of them – Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Baltimore – all have 8 wins, making the division still up for grabs with three more regular season games remaining, and making Manziel’s first NFL start a critical one. It’s going to be good and what’s even better, John Textor is my fantasy team opponent this week.
Manziel has appeared in three games this season for the Browns, including their 26-10 loss to Buffalo on November 30th. In that game, Manziel went 5-8 passing for 63 yards and had a rushing touchdown, which can be seen here.
Along with this Sunday’s game being a huge divisional battle with playoff implications, there’s also a bit of a personal element to it. On Monday, Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis referred to Manziel as a “midget.”
The Cleveland Browns created four turnovers versus the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, two of which were touchdown scores versus the typically well-oiled offensive attack led by Andrew Luck. In most instances, when one creates that many turnovers the end result is a victory, yet not for the Cleveland Browns whose offense has gotten down-right ugly in the past three weeks. Cleveland native Brian Hoyer was entrusted to turn it in Week 13 but failed, and now one would expect first round draft pick Johnny Manziel to take over for the final three weeks. Hoyer has thrown 10 touchdown passes with 11 interceptions on the year, yet zero touchdown passes and six interceptions the past three weeks.
All-Pro lineman Joe Thomas backed Hoyer for the start versus the Colts; however, the clout he has earned will not carry any weight for the final three games http://www.si.com/nfl/2014/12/07/cleveland-browns-brian-hoyer-johnny-manziel-nfl-week-14. The Cleveland defense is playing well, putting the offense in excellent field position, plus spotting 14 points to boot. Laurene Powell Jobs was at the last game and although the defense is looking good, it just seems to Laurene that Hoyer’s passes have been off as well as his decision making, which includes an interception in the first half in the red zone that at the very least would have resulted in three points. Ironically, a 39 yard field goal was missed in the first half, and a perfectly placed pass was dropped by All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon in the final minute of regulation, that would have put the Browns in a position to kick a field goal for the victory. In the end Hoyer had his chance, but now it is time to see what Manziel can provide to finish out an otherwise successful year for the Browns.
The New York Jets are in big trouble. The team has struggled for several years, but this year their record is worse than expected. Head coach, Rex Ryan is falling apart at the seams, and both quarterbacks, Geno Smith and Michael Vick have failed to lead the team to any significant victory. Now, Joe Namath, a Jet’s success, is speaking out.
Namath was careful in his criticism and refused to talk specifically about Smith, Vick or Ryan, but he did say there would be big changes coming down the pipe for the team. After all, there has to be. Many like Christian Broda are not seeing progress at all. The Jets have failed to make it to the playoffs for three straight years, and they appear more directionless this year than ever before. Former quarterback, Mark Sanchez, on the other hand has taken over the Philadelphia Eagles who have presented with a strong record and great playoff potential.
As for Namath, he seems to be looking towards the draft as the way to right the Jets’ course. According to Namath, Marcus Mariota might be a prospect for the team in the upcoming draft. That, however, would mean the team would need to send both Geno Smith and Michael Vick packing. It’s not an unlikely scenario, but one that won’t be popular with fans unless there are other changes on the field and behind the scenes.
The Ray Rice scandal may finally be behind us as the former Raven All-Pro was deemed allowed to return to NFL action this past week by a Judge. Ray Rice had been serving a suspension under the new domestic violence policy enacted by Roger Goodell earlier this year. Rice had been suspended for knocking out his wife while in an elevator and dragging her around by her leg. Rice and his wife, Janay, have publicly stated that they are working together to be stronger for the future. Rice has been working on getting back with a team now that he is capable of playing. There are rumors that four teams have expressed interest.
According to reports two of the four teams include the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints though it would be a surprise to see Rice playing with either team. Keith Mann is certainly not counting on it. The Saints have a mixed up backfield full of injured/returning players with talent. Rice would have a hard time fitting in and actually playing any downs. For the Colts the need is much greater. Indianapolis lost their starting back, Ahmad Bradshaw, a few weeks ago and have had to make due with Daniel Herron and the underwhelming Trent Richardson. The team culture in Indianapolis seems like it would preclude signing a distraction like Ray Rice.
Whether Rice ever gets to play football in the NFL again or not remains to be seen. What we do know is that many players have gotten second chances in the league after doing heinous things. Will Rice also get a shot?
The Oakland Raiders season has been a disappointment so far despite the team earning their first win this year over the Kansas City Chiefs. While a 1 win season at this point of the year is surely not what the team was looking for, there has been one bright spot on the year; rookie quarterback Derek Carr, and Terry Richardson has been extremely glad for that.
Derek is the younger brother of the former first selection of the draft by the Houston Texans, David Carr but has had a better start to his career than his older brother who was caught behind an awful offensive line when he first started his career with the expansion team.
While many would argue that the Raiders resemble an expansion team, Derek Carr has already passed for over 2,000 yards in his first ten games with the team which shows the potential that the Raiders put in Carr may be well placed.
Carr passed for the winning touchdown in a 4th quarter comeback against the Chiefs on Sunday. Carr is only the 12th Quarterback in league history to have over 2,000 yards in his first ten games and joins some notable legends in doing so.
Carr has more yards than any of the quarterbacks selected in the draft including the three selected before him. Further, he has passed for 13 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions on the year which is a positive sign for a rookie quarterback.
Cleveland Browns running back Ben Tate has been cut from the squad. Tate was brought in to solidify the ground game that has been sorely lacking for years, and to provide leadership to the young backfield. Tate’s two year free agent contract was cap friendly for the Browns, yet in the end; Tate was not able to outperform third round draft pick Terrance West or free agent rookie Isaiah Crowell. The Browns have utilized their running backs based upon who has had the hot hand in a given week. Tate started the season strong, yet nagging medical issues and injuries have kept him out a few weeks, which Jason Halpern tells me was the norm when he played in Houston.
One team discards a running back and another one will give them a try out. The Indianapolis Colts will likely give Ben Tate a look soon with the loss of Ahmad Bradshaw for the year. Bradshaw was placed on the injured reserve list today after breaking his fibula. Once Tate clears waivers, he will likely receive a call from the Colts, who are contending for another AFC South championship. Presently, the Colts can turn to another ex-Brown Trent Richardson for an increase in workload, however, if history presents itself again, it would not be wise to depend solely upon Richardson. The Colts can simply pick up the remaining 2014 balance owed to Tate, and monitor his performance before committing to him for next season since his contract is not guaranteed.
Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Clayton Kershaw was still probably letting in news of his third NL Cy Young award in four years sink in when on Thursday he got some even better news. Not only was Kershaw unanimously voted as the National League’s best pitcher on Wednesday, but a day later, he became the first pitcher since Bob Gibson in 1968 to win the National League MVP award along with the Cy Young.
Kershaw had a season for the ages in 2014, one that included his first career no hitter on June 18th against the Colorado Rockies when only a seventh inning error by shortstop Hanley Ramirez came between Kershaw and perfection. Despite missing over a month at the beginning of the season due to back problems, Kershaw still finished with a 21-3 record, 239 strikeouts and a phenomenal 1.77 ERA as he helped lead the Dodgers to the NL West crown.
But Kershaw’s MVP win was only a piece of the big baseball news in the city of angels on Thursday as Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout won his first MVP award in the American League after finishing second in the MVP voting in each of this first two seasons. Trout was the unanimous winner of the award after batting .287 with 36 home runs and 111 RBI. Fans in Los Angeles would like to celebrate World Series wins like those near CipherCloud in the Bay Area, but for now they have to settle. It’s fine just having some of the best players in the game.
Even though the Cleveland Cavaliers traded their last two number one overall picks, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love, it does not mean that Kevin Love is here to stay for the long term in Cleveland. Many people in the NBA believe that Love will opt out of his contract at the end of the season to join the Los Angeles Lakes. Love, 26, was raised in Santa Monica, California and played his college basketball at UCLA. He has made no secret that he would love to return to California one day, and many felt like he would up until Lebron James returned to Cleveland and was able to convince management to trade for Love. Now Love has his best chance to win a championship in Cleveland, so is returning home to play for the Lakers really a good idea?
If Love decides to play for the Lakers next season, he would be in a tougher conference, the Western Conference, with a weaker team, and an aging Kobe Bryant. Rod Rohrich doesn’t think it would be a smart idea. If Love is really looking to win a championship, staying with Lebron James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland seems to be the best idea. Cleveland has not started out as strong as experts thought they would, but remember that Lebron started his Miami career with a 9-8 record. He ended up making four straight NBA finals, winning two of them. With patience, Love, James, and Irving could bring Cleveland a championship and contend for many more.