Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. There are always a lot of stories floating around in the NBA, especially this close to the Playoffs. I'm here to tell you which of those stories actually mean something this year, and which you can stop worrying about, since it'll probably have no effect on what happens as the season continues. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow.
Jimmy Butler Tears His Meniscus:
I think that this whole season the Minnesota Timberwolves have been the most underrated team in the NBA. They are currently third in the Western Conference, and as we all know, the West is no joke. The Wolves big three of Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins has been great, but, overshadowed by the super teams above them in the standings. Saying this, I need to point out that although KAT and Wiggins have had good seasons, Butler has really been the force driving this team to where it is right now. Butler was ranked by Bleacher Report (based on metrics) as the sixth best player in the NBA so far this year, and even though he's been under the radar like the rest of his team, Butler is worthy of MVP consideration.
Butler's great performing this year is why this injury is so catastrophic. When watching the injury occur it immediately looks like Butler blew out his ACL or MCL, so a meniscus injury in nowhere near as bad. The first reports to come out after his surgery claimed that he could be out for only four to six weeks. Knee injuries are complicated though, and Tom Thibodeau is a really taxing coach to play for, so I wouldn't be surprised if Butler is out for longer. That being said, the Wolves are clearly in a though position. They could drop a lot in the standings in the coming weeks, or even months. This leaves a big opening for other teams in the West to make a push for home court advantages during the Playoffs. The Wolves could really be in trouble if this happens.
The last thing that makes this story important is that, even when Jimmy G. Buckets does return to the floor, his game could be lacking in aggressiveness which is what got Butler to where he is today. Butler is arguably the best two way player in the game, and coming off of a knee injury means his defense could be lacking, as well as his explosiveness when try to get to the rim on offense.
No Need For Two Towers In NOLA:
Ever since Demarcus Cousins, one of the "twin towers" in the New Orleans Pelicans lineup, has gone down for the season with a torn Achilles, Anthony Davis has shown why he is arguably a top five player in the NBA. The man is averaging 28.2 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 2.4 apg, and 2.2 bpg. Ever since Cousins has gone down Davis has stepped up even more, averaging 35.9 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg, and 2.5 spg. His offensive and defensive game has improved, and the Pelicans have made their way to the fifth spot in the West.
The previous story that I said to watch was important because of it opening up the third spot in the West to other teams, and with the Pelicans sitting only two games behind the Wolves I would be surprised if Davis doesn't lead this team up the rankings. Also, with the Spurs in a little bit of a skid (4-6 in their last 10 games) and no Kawhi Leonard for the rest of the season, the Pelicans have a big chance here to capitalize despite the loss of their second best player.
I quickly want to mention that Rajon Rondo is a great player to think about when you think about the Pelicans right now, because despite Anthony Davis pretty much being a one man wrecking crew, NOLA is averaging the second most assists per game in the NBA right now, and that kind of offensive play is what wins games. Rondo, by the way, is consistently leading the team in assists every night, and he looks like a great under the radar move by the Pelicans front office which usually is criticized.
Cavaliers Once Again The Favorites:
I personally hate the Cleveland Cavaliers front office and their owner Dan Gilbert, because they would be nothing if it weren't for LeBron James having been born in Akron, Ohio. LeBron would have left as soon as he could have and would have never looked back. Instead, he felt obligated to return, and now the Cavs have a championship. My distaste for this front office and owner cannot deny the incredible job they did at the trade deadline this year, though. They traded Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and their own 2018 first-round pick for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. of the Los Angeles Lakers, and then they moved Dwyane Wade to Miami for a protected second-round pick. The Cavs also took part in a three team trade, where George Hill and Rodney Hood went to the Cavaliers, Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder went to the Jazz, and Joe Johnson, Iman Shumpert, and a 2020 second-round pick went to Sacramento. These moves blew up almost half of the Cavs roster, but so far it has looked like more than the right move.
The Cavaliers since the trade deadline have played with fluidity and more like a team. There roster was old and focused more on isolation basketball before the trades, while now the three point shot has been falling and the team decided to play defense. Lastly, the viewers of the games can't feel tension through the TV screen, which is what was happening before. LeBron and the rest of the team visibly didn't care, and they spent half of the time glaring at one another without finding any solutions to their problems. It seems that after these trades, the Cleveland front office found the solutions, and the Cavs are once again the best team in the East. They may not finish with the one seed, but I can't see picking anyone else over this team right now. Although the Raptors and Celtics have looked good this year, if the Cavaliers revamped roster keeps their pace we could end up with a fourth straight Cavalier team headed to the NBA Finals.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. I'm here to talk about the Super Bowl today (sorry that it's taken so long for me to get this out), and I'm excited to analyze the biggest takeaways from the game. Also, make sure that you share this article as it helps TTR grow.
Okay, so first of all, I'd like to quickly note that I almost didn't include the first four paragraphs of my Super Bowl preview because I didn't know if many of you would care very much about the coaches on both teams. I am incredibly glad that I did write those sections, because now I can say that I beat everyone else to the chase. All that I've seen this week is how Doug Pederson had the coaching performance of a lifetime, and that it was his aggressive style that led Philadelphia to victory. It's Pederson's coaching style and decisions that made me pick the Eagles to win the Super Bowl, and I feel like I covered almost everything that he did right during the game in my preview (you can go check that out to see what I mean).
Anyways, this Super Bowl was one for the offensive junkies. This game had the most yards from scrimmage in a game in NFL Playoff history, and a game many said would be decided by defense ended up being a dominated by both offenses. The Eagles had a lot of success running the football, with LeGarrette Blount finding the endzone against his former team. Passing the football...lets just say Philly had more than just success. Nick Foles was absolutely incredible, throwing passes fearlessly into tight coverage time and time again, only achieving success due to his perfect ball placement. The man easily deserved Super Bowl MVP. Foles also caught a touchdown pass, although I don't want to dwell on that since everyone else has already beaten that trick play to death with praise (that play by the way is a great example of Pederson's coaching style).
Foles couldn't have had all of that success though without absolutely spectacular play from Alshon Jeffery, who I think deserves more credit than he's receiving. Jeffery came to play, making multiple spectacular catches. He deserves more praise than he's getting.
Zach Ertz also had a great game, catching seven balls for 67 yards and the games final touchdown. I said that New England would either game plan him or the run game out in my prediction, but obviously neither happened in what was the worst showing by the Patriots defense all year.
I feel like the Eagles defense doesn't deserve any of my time since they were disgusting, so I'm going to get straight into Tom Brady. Brady passed for 505 yards and 3 touchdowns, which on paper is by far the best quarterback performance in a Super Bowl. That's why on First Take, my favorite show on ESPN, Stephen A. Smith and Damien Woody both said that Max Kellerman was crazy for saying Tom Brady's performance starting next season is going to "fall off a cliff." I love both Smith and Woody, but they, along with the rest of the majority media, are really stupid sometimes. Honestly, how can football analysts go from saying "the tape doesn't lie" to completely ignoring the tape and looking only at statistics. What I'm getting at is that Tom Brady's tape was gross. He missed a lot of open throws, and the first half was apparently hunting season since he was heaving ducks all over the place. What Brady did have success with was the first two drives of the second half where he basically exclusively threw the ball to Rob Gronkowski (who is always open), throwing his same old dump offs and screen plays, and hitting receivers who had defenders not even within 15 yards of them downfield. Brady's stats are skewed from the number of wide open throws he had downfield, some of which by the way could have gone for touchdowns had he not been throwing so inaccurately.
So here is what I don't understand: How is it that analysis who watch football and report on it for a living can see the same game that I do, watch the same poor throws that I do, and then come back the next day and tell the nation that Tom Brady was, flawless, spectacular, and great out on the field when he clearly wasn't. I'm not trying to take away anything from his impressive performance, because it was impressive, but the lack of time and recognition that these broadcasters give to Brady's issues is astounding to me. By saying that Brady solidified himself as the greatest of all time by LOSING a Super Bowl, and on top of that ignoring the clear flaws in his performance is lying to the viewers. If any other quarterback had lost that Super Bowl despite having the greatest coach of all time on their side (with the exact same performance as Brady), their legacy would have been hurt rather than solidified. By the way, if Aaron Rodgers had missed those throws everybody would be talking about age catching up to him, since they weren't throws he'd missed in the past.
Now that I'm done with Brady, I want to talk about the Patriots dynasty moving forward. There was big news yesterday when Josh McDaniels backed out of the Colts head coaching job to remain with the Patriots, because Matt Patricia is also leaving for a head coaching job with the Lions. This gives the Pats way more stability with the coaching staff moving into next year, and that'll help a lot because of what I'm about to bring up:
The Patriots, multiple years in a row now, have looked old and slow compared to the top teams in the NFL. The best teams these days usually have a young, fast, big play offense with a solid pass rush, or they'll have an elite defense. That Patriots offense struggles when there is pressure on Brady because he collapses and makes poor decision due to his lack of mobility. The Patriots defense, although always in the top half of the league, usually the top ten, has looked slow against newer high paced and speedy offenses. All of this leads me to my point, which is that Brady and Belichick could only have a year left. With Patricia gone for good and McDaniels willing to leave (although he may now stay to take over when Belichick leaves), the Pats are going to lack continuity in the coaching staff, and that leads to worse performance on the field. On top of that, the majority of the Patriots top players are old and close to retirement. New England doesn't have a lot of time left, and although I'd be a fool to rule them out, the Patriots may have just seen their last Super Bowl appearance of this era.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. Today is the day of the Super Bowl, so I'm here to give a quick preview of what I think will be the most important things to watch in this game, and of course, to give my pick. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow.
When you look back at the Patriots last two Super Bowls, the game was not won or lost on the field. I'd argue that both of those games were decided by those on the sidelines--the coaches. Bill Belichick is the greatest coach of all time, and I can't remember once in my life where he has made a mistake. Belichick thrives on opposing coaches making mistakes, and then finding ways to capitalize on that. In Super Bowl XLIX, Pete Carroll made the infamous mistake of calling to pass the football on second and goal from the one yard line, despite having the best power back in the NFL, Marshawn Lynch, on his team. In last years Super Bowl (LI), the Falcons came out in the second half playing aggressive, which is a great coaching decision, but when the game could have been sealed with a dagger field goal, on third down inside of field goal range Kyle Shanahan called a pass play. It resulted in a sack, and a punt on fourth down. Running the football would have taken at least forty seconds of the clock, and basically put the game out of reach for the New England Patriots. Instead, a coaching error lost Atlanta the game.
The most recent example of this is the AFC Championship game, when Jacksonville completely abandoned their short passes, screen plays, and outside runs. Those style of plays are what got the Jags their lead, but then in the second half they turned conservative, running the football almost every first and second down, becoming predictable. Being too conservative and running too much then cost Jacksonville the game.
I know that this seems like it has no correlation to today's Super Bowl, but I think it does. Over the years only one coach has been prepared enough to not make vital mistakes against Bill Belichick, and that's Tom Coughlin. The Eagles head coach, Doug Pederson, reminds me of Coughlin. He's aggressive enough to not fall into the trap of being predictable, and he's smart enough to know when to run the football (last game despite having a lead against the Vikings, Pederson and the Eagles started aggressive in the second half until running the ball when inside of field goal range helped run out the clock). If he can come into this game mentally prepared to not make the same mistakes as the previous coaches have, the Eagles have a real shot to win this game.
I think that the biggest part of Pederson being prepared is that it takes away a large chunk of the "fluke factor." The Patriots have a tendency to get lucky breaks, and usually that comes back to bad coaching. The calls that play right into the Patriots hands and undisciplined playing that leads to bad penalties can be directly correlated to coaching, and those two things are usually what give the Patriots a break. Pete Carroll's call to pass gave the Pats a break; Kyle Shanahan's call to pass gave the Pats a break; the history of bad pass interference penalties (Jalen Ramsey's from the AFC Championship game is a good example) give the Pats a break. Pederson is a good coach though, and I think he's disciplined enough to not make those same mistakes.
Okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way I can talk about the actual players. For New England, this game is going to be won at the line of scrimmage. That can be said of basically every game, but it is especially important today. Tom Brady completely falls apart when a team consistently gets pressure on him, especially when defenses use the NASCAR package or when they overload the center (I'll talk about this in a moment). If Brady can't make good decisions, which is by the way what makes him such a great quarterback, then the Patriots offense will be in serious trouble. With the defensive line, they need to get pressure on Nick Foles. He's a backup for a reason, and on a big stage like this he could fall apart if he gets hit a lot. Also, the Eagles are going to want to rely on the run game, and the defensive line needs to be able to slow that down if New England is going to win.
This brings me to my last section about New England, which is what Belichick is known best for. When he game plans, he takes away what he sees as the other teams best player and makes you beat them "left handed" per say. For Philly, that means Belichick is either going to stack the box to take away the run game, or he's going to stop Zach Ertz. Ertz was one of the best tight ends in football this year, and he's been a security blanket for Wentz and Foles. In the red zone Ertz is a threat, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the Pats try and make him ineffective. If Belichick decides to take away the run game though, the game would be on Nick Foles shoulders, and as I said earlier, he's a backup for a reason.
For the Eagles, I think that this game is in the hands of their defensive line, and their three running backs. The defensive line will be working mostly to push the pocket straight up the middle near the center, since pressure up the middle bothers Brady due to his immobility. That style of pressure works well, and since Philly ins't overloaded with speed rushers, we won't see much of the NASCAR package (four defensive ends all lined up to get pressure purely with speed). In the run game, the Eagles need to have a lot of success. New England was 20th in rushing yards allowed per game this year, and the Eagles need to exploit that to keep the pressure off of Nick Foles. Ajayi is a good lead back, Blount should see a lot of work in the red zone, and Clement is a great receiving threat out of the backfield. I'd actually like to see Clement a lot today, because he can be a threat to pick up yards out of the backfield by catching the ball in the flats (basically what New England does all of the time). If these three backs can carry the offense, Foles won't have too much to worry about.
After everything that I've just said, I now need to get something off of my chest. I said before the NFC Championship game that the Eagles would win because Case Keenum had been playing really well lately, and he was bound to finally have a bad game on a big stage. He's been a backup for a reason. Nick Foles just played one of the best games of his career two weeks ago, and has been lights out these Playoffs. I've said it multiple times already in this article--He's a backup for a reason. With that said, I'm taking:
New England Patriots: 24
Philadelphia Eagles: 27
Just so you know, I'm currently laughing since you probably though I said all of that to lead up to me picking the Patriots. I'm taking the Eagles because the Patriots defense, although it definitely isn't a joke and they've been good since about Week 6, isn't an elite group. The Eagles defense, Vikings defense, and Jaguars defense were all elite and that's why they made it to the Championship round. The Pats are going to have some issues against the Eagles offensively, and if Doug Pederson doesn't make the mistakes of his predecessors, this defense can keep New England under 25. That opens things up for a solid Eagles offense against a solid defense, where the match up could go either way. Anyways, I think that some people are forgetting how hard it is to repeat as Super Bowl champions, although if anyone is going to do that again it would be the greatest coach of all time and his beloved quarterback.
High School Senior from Connecticut obsessed with sports stats, facts, and management.