Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. Tomorrow is the NFL Draft, and unlike everyone else, I only do one mock draft every year, and I do it right before draft night. I also make my picks based on what I think should happen, not based on what is most likely to happen. For instance, if the Dolphins (I'm a Fins fan) had Vita Vea and Quenton Nelson available at pick eleven, most mock drafts I've seen would have them taking Vea due to the departure of Ndamukong Suh and the addition of Josh Sitton. That, though, is a stupid pick because Nelson is worlds better as a player. Hopefully that helped you understand what I mean when I say I make my picks based on what's smart, not on what teams have shown interest in and displayed as needs. I've found this approach is actually much more accurate than the way other mock drafts turn out, so we'll see how I do this year. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow, and if you have any requests leave them in the comments below.
NFL Mock Draft:
Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC (For everyone who says Josh Allen is the better pick, I respond by saying that trying to make up for mistakes of the past doesn't work in the NFL. Just because the Browns passed on the unknown quarterback from an irrelevant college a couple years ago, a.k.a. Carson Wentz, doesn't mean they should try to fix that by taking the prospect with the same background. Allen is nowhere near the prospect Wentz was, and Darnold has shown himself to be the most complete prospect in the draft. I like Baker Mayfield more than any other QB in this draft class, but all signs point to Darnold being the most appealing to NFL scouts).
New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St. (Barkley is the most valuable player in this draft, and it's all because of how the NFL salary cap system works. I'm not going to get into that now, but I will in a different article).
New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (I think that Baker is the best QB in the class, because his leadership qualities and accuracy are hard to find in players straight out of college).
Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State (Chubb is most likely the most impactful player available here, and a rotation of young, talented pass rushers for Cleveland will make the lives of AFC North quarterbacks much more difficult).
Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame (John Elway and Gary Kubiak both liked Case Keenum out of college, so what's to say that their signing of him this free agency wasn't just a placeholder for their QB of the future. Denver has the talent to win now, so by fixing a below average offensive line with a player that many consider the safest pick in the draft, Keenum will now have more security and play better football).
Buffalo Bills (Trade With Colts): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (I like Rosen, despite his controversy, and I think that with Buffalo's solid offensive line he'll have less to worry about in the injury department. Also, Rosen is pretty NFL ready, and since Buffalo proved they were a playoff team last year, a better QB could mean making it further into the postseason).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama (I think that Fitzpatrick is the most NFL ready and versatile defensive back in this draft, and as he said after the NFL Combine, "The tape speaks for itself").
Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State (Denzel Ward is the best pure cornerback in this draft, and I think that the Bears understand that to put less pressure on Mitch Trubisky, they need to have a solid defense).
San Francisco 49ers: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama (Kyle Shanahan did a lot for Jimmy Garoppolo last year with very little talent on the offensive side of the ball. Now that the defense has been upgraded with the likes of Richard Sherman, it's time for Shanahan to beef up the offense).
Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia (The Raiders defense is atrocious, so they had to do something for this side of the ball. Smith is an incredible leader and playmaker who will help the front seven, which as of right now is only respectable because of Khalil Mack).
Miami Dolphins: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming (I am not a huge fan of Josh Allen myself, but if he falls this far the Dolphins have to take him. Adam Gase wants to develop a quarterback behind Ryan Tannehill for at least a year, and since Allen is clearly a developmental project, this would perfect for Gase. There are more pressing needs for the Fins, but Gase will want the insurance in case Tannehill gets injured again).
Indianapolis Colts (Trade With Bills): Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech (The Colts will trade back to acquire more picks because the have a LOT of holes to fill, and Edmunds will help their defense immensely).
Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington (Vea is a freak of nature, and Washington desperately needs help on the defensive line. Vea will help their run defense a lot and will also provide consistent pass rush).
Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa (Jackson has possibly the best ball skills in this draft, and the Packers need to improve their defense if they want Aaron Rodgers to stick around. Jackson and Ward rank similarly for me as well, but I just think that Ohio State's marquee program helps lift his status to being selected first).
Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (Lamar Jackson is probably the most polarizing player in this draft, and is a huge risk to take this early. He'll be the fifth quarterback off the board, and despite his incredible athletic ability, Jackson suffers from accuracy issues. I think that his accuracy issues are similar to those of Josh Allen actually, but since Allen was in a Pro-Style offense and he has the stronger arm, he's going to be graded higher by every single team. I think that the Cardinals can't pass on a quarterback though, and since Jackson is available, that's who they take).
Baltimore Ravens: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland (D.J. Moore might be the best receiver in this draft, as he is an incredible playmaker. He operates out of the slot, though, and that usually causes teams to devalue a player. Baltimore is desperate for offense though, and since they've added a couple of receivers through free agency Moore will fit right in on the depth chart as the slot receiver).
Los Angeles Chargers: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama (The man is a freak of nature, and he's dominated interior offensive lines his whole career. He's really too talented to fall this far in the draft, but since he does, the Chargers have to swoop him up).
Seattle Seahawks: Derwin James, S, Florida State (Derwin James is an incredible player and him falling this far in the draft is unlikely. I can see it happening though, and with the break up of the Legion of Boom, Seattle is going to need someone new on the back end of their defense. Not only does this give them a great player, but it gives them a cheaper option then old, beaten up, Kam Chancellor).
Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU (Sutton is a big dude, and his play style is that of a Calvin Johnson. He's a clear red zone threat, and since the Cowboys have released Dez Bryant, they need someone new to work with Dak. This could be a great move for the Cowboys, but many people, including me, see a lot of bust potential in Sutton, making this a risky move).
Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College (Edge rushers are a commodity in the NFL, and I think that Harold Landry is right behind Bradley Chubb as the best in this draft. The Lions need support on defense to aid Matthew Stafford and the offense, so this pick makes sense).
Cincinnati Bengals: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame (McGlinchey is a rising prospect according to multiple reports, but I still don't see him getting inside the top 20. The Bengals need a new offensive tackle, though, since the departure of Andrew Whitworth in free agency two years ago has left a hole their for Cincy).
Indianapolis Colts (Trade With Bills): Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma (Like I said before, the Colts have a lot of holes to fill, and I see the offensive line as this teams most pressing need. Here, they get a new offensive tackle to protect an often injured Andrew Luck).
New England Patriots: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma St. (OH BOY TOM BRADY IS PISSSSEEED. Bill Belicheck basically says "screw you" to Brady and Robert Kraft, goes and drafts himself his QB of the future since he was forced to give up his previous one...Jimmy G stand up...and sits in the draft room looking smug. No, Belichick isn't going to waste his time on winning now, that's Brady's job; Belichick wants HIS dynasty to continue, and to do that he needs a QB).
Carolina Panthers: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio (I love Davenport and I think that he's a great edge rusher. I think that John Gruden likes him too, so I could actually see him being taken with the tenth overall pick if the Raiders decide to go defensive end. If they don't though, I have Davenport dropping this far because I think that Harold Landry is a more complete player, and is thus a more valuable draft pick).
Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama (I think that Evans is one of the most underrated players in this draft. He's a really good linebacker and offers great value, especially this late in the first round. The Titans have made a lot of moves this offseason, and I think that since their biggest splash was on the offensive side of the ball, they'll go defense first in the draft).
Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida (Bryan is a solid interior lineman, and since the NFL has seen that the best teams have deep defensive lines, the Falcons take another step in that direction. For the second straight year, their first round pick will be a player on the defensive line).
New Orleans Saints: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St. (Goedert is probably the best tight end in a very deep class at that position. The Saints are looking for more offensive fire power to match their young, talented defense, so this makes sense for giving Drew Brees another target to throw to. Also, the Saints just passed on matching the Ravens offer sheet to Willie Snead, so they need another pass catcher now more than they did just a week ago).
Pittsburg Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State (The Steelers defense really struggled without Ryan Shazier in the middle last season, and they clearly need more help their. I'm not saying that Vander Esch is Ryan Shazier, but it doesn't hurt to bring in somebody that can help stop the bleeding at that position.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina (Hurst is another great tight end in this draft, and his pass catching proficiency will definitely help a thin Jaguars offense. Allen Robinson just left in free agency this year, so Blake Bortles is going to need another big bodied target to throw to, especially in the red zone).
Minnesota Vikings: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP (Hernandez has great size and strength, and would definitely be talked about more frequently if it wasn't for the Quenton Nelson hype. The Vikings need to give their over paid new quarterback, Kirk Cousins, protection, as well as running lanes for Dalvin Cook when he returns).
New England Patriots: Justin Reid, S, Stamford (I think that Justin Reid is a really, really good player, and since he's still available, it's a no brainer for the Pats. After watching a backup QB torch their defense in the Super Bowl, defense is clearly the move).
Philadelphia Eagles: Ronald Jones III, RB, USC (Ronald Jones fits right in with what the Eagles want to do. They love their multi man running back rotation, and Jones is a home run hitter with a lot of speed, and great hands. Along side power runners like Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount, Jones will have a huge impact for the Eagles).
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. Today I want to talk about a couple huge games in the NBA First Round in the upcoming days, as well as the conclusion to the Pelicans-Trail Blazers series. If there's any topics that you would like me to touch on next time comment below and I'll make sure to discuss it. Also, make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow.
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks:
Tonight's match up between these two teams could very well decide the series. It's all tied up at two games a piece, so if the Bucks were to win in Boston tonight, they would be winners of three straight and take the ball back home with a chance to close out the series. On Boston's end of things, a win tonight gives them the leeway the rest of the series, because even if the Bucks were to tie things back up after Game 6, Game 7 would be in TD Garden. This game clearly has major implications for both teams, and that's why the news of Marcus Smart's return is huge. Smart is an incredible defender, and in my opinion his offensive game is underrated. An already thin Celtics team will really appreciate having Smart's services back, and I think that the biggest benefactor from this will be Terry Rozier. He has been more than anyone could have asked for while filling in as the Celtics point guard in the absence of Kyrie Irving. Now that Smart can alleviate some of those minutes, Rozier will be fresher on the offensive end. For Milwaukee, Smart's return just means a more difficult game offensively, but if I'm being honest, in this series specifically I wouldn't be too concerned if I'm a Bucks fan. Milwaukee's best players in this series are all forwards (Giannis, Middleton), and I think their other scariest player is Jabari Parker. Marcus Smart is 6'4, 220 pounds; Giannis Antetokounmpo is 6'11, 225 pounds; Middleton and Parker are both 6'8. Marcus Smart is not singlehandedly stopping any of those three. If I'm picking tonight's game though, I still have to take the Celtics. This has been a very close series all the way through, and I think that Smart's return helps Boston enough on both ends of the floor to lead to another win. Also, home court advantage helps a lot. Boston wins a very important game.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat:
I'm going to cry if tonight is Dwayne Wades final game in the NBA. Down 3-1, the Heat's season is on the line tonight, and all I want if for Wade to end his career on Miami's home floor--not in Philly. I have a hunch that Father Prime also wants the same thing, so I'd expect him to play a solid amount of minutes tonight, and to take a lot of shots. I hope that this turns into a vintage D-Wade night, and that he can then lose happily back in Miami to fulfill my prediction of a six game series win for the Sixers. Also, I kind of hope that Wade, out of character, pulls a page out of Kobe's book and goes off for no apparent reason, taking and making shots with two people all over him while Kelly Olynyk is chillin' wide open in the corner for three...and also a couple of sweet blocks since that's a Wade signature...and maybe a couple of lobs to Hassan Whiteside for old times sake...and maybe Wade can drink a potion and be 25 again so I can watch him play for another decade. I don't know, I don't think I'm asking for too much.
P.S. this isn't really a key game, it's just that Dwayne Wade's career could be over in the next couple of days which is what makes this series still interesting to follow. Philly is going to win in six at most.
Toronto Raptors vs. Washington Wizards:
This series is really interesting because I called sweep, and yet I sit here writing this while it's tied up 2-2. I've known all along the potential of this Wizards team, but I hadn't seen them put things together enough this year to trust it in the Playoffs. Well, now their putting things together, and it's the Playoffs. John Wall has been out of this world, and honestly this series could go either way right now. I actually think that Drake could be the biggest X-Factor here. I love the man, but he could be pulling a Spike Lee move here (if you don't know what I'm talking about, you have to watch Winning Time: Miller vs. The Knicks. It is my favorite 30 for 30 of all time and a classic). If Drake keeps trash talking John Wall, Wall might just continue elevating his game until he wills the Wizards to win this series. Part of why this Game 5 is so critical though, is that neither team has won a game off of their home court yet. The Wizards are going to have to show up on the road to win this series, and tonight will be a huge test of their ability to do that. If Washington wins, it'll be the same situation as the Bucks--they'll have control of the series. If not, Toronto will be in the drivers seat the rest of the way, and I think the Raptors are too good to collapse up 3-2 with game seven at home. If Washington wants to win the series, I think they have to win. With all of that said, I picked the Raptors to win this series, so I'm taking them to come out on top. The Wizards have looked incredible the last two games though, so if they leave Canadian Customs with a smile on their face, I wouldn't be too surprised.
Pelicans Sweep Trail Blazers:
I feel so stupid. I watched the first game of this series, and immediately knew that New Orleans was going to sweep Portland. I, of course, boldly stated that the "Trail Blazers are winning in five, but really I want to say sweep." I was very wrong. And I feel stupid. I forgot about one person, who I love dearly, and praised greatly last Playoffs: Rajon Rondo. Playoff Rondo is possibly the greatest point guard in all of history--him and Hoodie Melo would rule the world. In all seriousness though, Playoff Rondo changes everything. I don't know what changes, but this man has been able to flip a switch and turn into a dominant force. In four games he has 45 points (11.25 ppg), 53 assists (13.25 apg), and 30 rebounds (7.5 rpg). The man is ridiculous as a distributor, and the amount of offense he creates is incredible. His affect on an above average team can turn them into what we just saw in this First Round.
Another person who deserves a huge amount of credit is Jrue Holiday. This man absolutely locked up Damian Lillard, and basically ended any discussion of Lillard being a top three (some were arguing the best) point guard in the NBA. After seeing him embarrass himself and his city this series, I'd take Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook (I wouldn't deal with Westbrooks stat padding though, I'd trade him as soon as he started those shenanigans), Chris Paul, James Harden, and maybe John Wall over Lillard. Just like how James Harden's reputation took a shot for his performance in last year's Playoffs, Damian Lillard's image will falter a little bit until he can prove to everyone that he's better than how he played. For now though, everyone needs to appreciate Jrue Holiday showing up on both ends of the court, including his three games scoring over 20 this series, which includes a 41 point gashing of the Trail Blazers to close out the series.
All of this leads to a larger question though, of how Demarcus Cousins fits back onto this team when he returns from injury next year. Anthony Davis has been playing at an MVP level and is arguably next in line for the crown of best player in the world. I've seen a lot of opinions on this topic in the last two days, but I'll withhold my opinion until we all see how the Pelicans fair in Round Two. Until then, I'll hold onto my initial reaction and gather as much information on the situation as I can. Trust me though, this situation holds a lot of weight in the NBA, because if moving "Boogie" is the best move for New Orleans, Cousin's impact elsewhere could create another title contender.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. The NBA Playoffs are upon us, and it's time for my first round picks. Today I'll be picking who I think takes home all of the first round series, and as the first round progresses I'll be making picks for the winners of some of the key games. Today I'll also let you know who I expect to see in each of the Conference Finals, as well as the NBA Finals. On top of that, I'll be letting you know who I see winning it all this year. If there are any questions or topic requests leave them below in the comments and I'll respond either directly or with an in depth article as soon as I see them. Also, make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets:
This series is one that I did not see coming. Until Jimmy Butler went down for seventeen games with a knee injury, the Wolves were the third seed in the Western Conference, and they could have easily advanced two rounds in the Playoffs. Now, though, they are facing the best team in basketball. The Houston Rockets are almost unbeatable when fully healthy, and barring any injuries, I don't see this series going any farther than five games. The Timberwolves don't match up exceptionally well with Houston, since Andrew Wiggins will have to guard either James Harden, Chris Paul, or Eric Gordon. Jimmy Butler, one of the games best defenders, will try to take one of those three out of the game (most likely Harden), but then Wiggins lack of defensive effort could be exploited by the other two. In general, the Timberwolves are not a good defensive team, and that is not good since they'll be facing the games best offense. I give Minnesota one game since Karl Anthony Towns is an unguardable freak, and Jimmy Butler is a top ten player in the league. Other than that, though, if everyone stays healthy this series is definitely not going seven games, six games is a stretch, and I think five is most likely. Houston moves on.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz:
This should be a really good series. The Jazz were expected by many to go nowhere this year after losing Gordon Hayward to the Celtics in free agency, but the emergence of Donovan Mitchell and great defensive play of Rudy Gobert have gotten the team this far. The Thunder are a disappointment so far, as they've been inconsistent and complicit in the stat padding of Russell Westbrook. Carmelo Anthony and Paul George have been overrated this year, and OKC's big three have not worked very well together. It's Playoff time now, and this big three has much more experience than the Utah Jazz. They also have home court advantage. I think that this series goes seven games, ultimately ending in a Thunder advancement. My personal distaste for OKC can't out way their experience advantage over the Jazz, and now that Westbrook has his triple double season locked in, there's less reason for him to blow games for the team with selfish play down the stretch. Thunder in seven, in a very, very, very close series.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans:
I love Anthony Davis, and what he has done in the absence of Boogie Cousins is really impressive. That isn't going to change how I see this series though, and honestly I'm having trouble not predicting sweep. The Trail Blazers are entering this series not far removed from a thirteen game winning streak, and the combo of C.J. McCollum and the most underrated player in the NBA (a.k.a. Damien Lillard, a.k.a. Dame D.O.L.L.A., a.k.a. the most clutch player behind only Kyrie Irving in the game right now) is a bad mismatch for the Pelicans. I'll call this a five game series since Anthony Davis can take over on any given night, but really Portland shouldn't be losing more than one game in this series. I like Portland and I think if they weren't stuck in the Western Conference, they would be in the NBA Finals.
Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs:
Just to start this off, I'm predicting this series with the assumption that Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard will both be out with injuries for the entire series. With that being said, the Warriors should make short work of the Spurs. This is the least amount of firepower Greg Popovich has had to work with in a very long time, and against a super team comprised of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, Pop doesn't have much of a chance. I think that this series goes five games, six games maximum and that's only if one of the Warriors big three is bothered by an injury. The Warriors should easily move on from this round and then have Curry ready for their second series.
Toronto Raptors vs. Washington Wizards:
Grab your brooms everybody because we have a sweep. The Raptors will make short work of this Wizards team, who have basically been without a 100% healthy John Wall all season. Bradley Beal can only do so much against the duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, and the Wizards really don't have much help after that. Toronto's one seed this season should give them a great advantage as this should be easy work for them, and then give them a nice period of rest before what will be a difficult next series against most likely the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers:
This series has me really excited. Victor Oladipo is always fun to watch, but he isn't the only reason I'm excited about this one. LeBron James always plays close games against Indiana, and although Paul George has always been part of the reason why those games have been close, there has always been someone else that's provided entertainment in this mini rivalry. That's right, Lance Stephenson is back with the Pacers, and his antics always reach their highest level when he's playing LeBron James. I cannot wait to see how the Cavs react to what will be a chippy series, and if their bench and other role players will hold their own. The Cavs really are not talented enough to have huge expectations this year, but this series in particular will help underline this teams Playoff capabilities. If the Cavs play well, expectations for a run to the Finals will rise, while if the role players struggle, Cleveland could be a popular pick to lose in the next round. I have Cleveland winning this series in six games because I think some of the Playoff inexperience on the Cavs could cost them a game, and also I just really want to see as much LeBron vs. Lance as I can.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat:
The Miami Heat are being way overlooked in this series. The main talking point of the last week or so has been how the Sixers are poised to make a run to the Eastern Conference Finals, and possibly the NBA Finals, but I'm saying everyone needs to slow down. The Sixers may be on a sixteen game winning streak currently, but they've really only beaten two or three teams that aren't actively tanking. Their win streak is a smoke screen for how good this team actually is. The Miami Heat are not nearly as talented as the Sixers, but head coach Eric Spoelstra is really good at exploiting mismatches. While Joel Embiid is out with an orbital fracture expect Miami to use Hassan Whiteside to his full extent, and even when Joel comes back Miami will try and take advantage of Philly's middle of the pack defense. Also, having a guy like Dwayne Wade on your team for clutch moments never hurts. Overall I expect Philadelphia to take this series, but I don't see them dominating the way that everyone else does. There could definitely be some blowouts, but I like this series going six games. If the Sixers do destroy Miami though, then I'll reevaluate them as the rest of the Playoffs move along.
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks:
This series is going to be really interesting since it'll be a healthy squad lead by the Greek Freak taking on the crippled, but surviving, Celtics. Brad Stevens is working wonders in Boston right now, as his team is still winning games despite having lost another huge player on their roster, Kyrie Irving. The Celtics are not going to be easy to beat, but Milwaukee's struggles of late do not inspire confidence. I think that the Bucks need to play better as a team and not wholly rely on Giannis to carry the team throughout the Playoffs. Personally, I don't see the Bucks not having to rely on Giannis a great deal though, and since the Celtics are an incredible defensive team, I see Boston taking this series in seven. It'll be close, but Brad Stevens should find ways to contain Antetokounmpo, giving Boston the series.
Eastern Conference Finals Prediction:
The way that the bracket is structured makes one half of this prediction easy--the Philadelphia 76ers will be in the Eastern Conference Finals. They play Miami in the first round, and then either Boston (who is crippled) or the Bucks (who they just smacked by almost 40 points) in the second, so although I don't think Philly is as good as everyone is making them out to be, the weak Eastern Conference will aid their advancement. On the other side of things I have the Cavaliers taking on the Raptors in the second round, and the winner of that series takes on Philly. Toronto against Cleveland is a really hard series to pick since Toronto owns the season series, but it is yet to be seen how Cleveland's young lineup will fair in Playoff basketball. As of right now, I cannot pick against LeBron James, so I have the Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers playing each other in the Eastern Conference Finals. At that point LeBron and his squad would have proven that they are good enough to come out of the East, so I'd take them over Philly. If the Cavs are good enough to beat the Raptors, which I think they are, then I can't see them losing to the Sixers. LeBron would not be held back from his eighth straight Finals appearance if he had already made it that far. If this Sixers vs. Cavs matchup does end up taking place, then expect Cleveland to win.
Western Conference Finals Prediction:
I, along with the majority of basketball fans, can see no other matchup than what was seen as the inevitable at the beginning of the season--Rockets vs. Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. If I'm right and the Warriors have to take on the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round, I expect Curry to be back and handle business. If he isn't back though, or is available to play but isn't himself, than Portland does have a shot at an upset. As of right now I cannot see that happening though, so the question, Warriors or Rockets, remains. There are two scenarios I'll go over in this series, and they result in two different picks. One, Stephen Curry is back and fully healthy from his injury. In that case, I can't pick against the most dominant team this league has seen in the last decade. I would take the Warriors to win in a seven game series. The other possibility is the opposite of this, which is that Steph Curry is not healthy, and not able to play like himself. When Curry isn't himself, the Warriors aren't the team that we all think of. Their three point percentage drops drastically, and as a team they look disconnected. This then leads me to easily pick the Rockets to win the Western Conference Finals. Also, if Curry isn't healthy, I'd take Houston to win in six games, ending the series on the Warriors home court. If I had to predict one of these scenarios, based on recent history I'd think that the second is more likely to occur. Coming back from injury, Curry usually isn't himself, especially in a much more physical climate which is Playoff basketball. Since I think that Curry won't be 100%, I'm taking the Houston Rockets to move on to the NBA Finals.
NBA Finals Prediction:
Houston in five. That's all that really needs to be said. This Rockets team is worlds better than Cleveland, and my prediction that Cleveland even makes the Finals is suspect since it is entirely possible that the Cavs new, young, inexperienced roster looks like garbage in these Playoffs. The smartest Eastern Conference Finals prediction would be the Toronto Raptors playing the 76ers, and then one of those two teams moving on to the Finals. If either of those cases came to futurition though, I'd still take Houston to win in five games. The Western Conference is worlds better than the East, and I think that it'll really show this year in the Finals. Even if it isn't the Rockets, and the Warriors make the Finals, I'd say it's a four or five game series. For the purpose of wrapping up my way to early Finals prediction though, I'm taking the Houston Rockets to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games, becoming the 2018 NBA Champions.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. Tonight is the Men's March Madness Finals, featuring three seed Michigan taking on one seed Villanova, who will be in their second Finals in the last three years. This should be a great game, and a close outcome. I'll be breaking down what I think will be the biggest factors in tonight's game, and I'll be giving my pick to win the National Championship. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow.
Michigan vs. Villanova:
I would first like to acknowledge that I picked Kansas to win against Villanova in the Final Four, and I was dead wrong. What I said in that article, though, does not change my view of Villanova and their vulnerability. Everything I said their, I'm about to say now.
If you've watched Villanova this year, you know that this team is the definition of living and dying by the three. In their last game versus Kansas, they didn't just live, they elevated themselves to God status. They had been shooting at a historic rate all tournament long, but making 18 threes is on another level. They had 13 in the first half, shooting over 50%, and that is what basically put the game out of reach. Nova had seven different players hit a three point shot, which also shows their depth of shooters. What I've said before though, is that teams have bad nights, and they usually come at inopportune times. Michigan is a team that lives on defense and great coaching, which is exactly what counteracts great three point shooting. If Michigan can hold Villanova to a more pedestrian three point shooting night, then this game could be right down to the wire.
I expect this game to be right down to the wire.
On Michigan's end of things, I think what stands out the most is the Moe Wagner mismatch. Villanova's best big man is Omari Spellman, and he's a great modern big man. He can shoot the three, and he has shown the ability to make plays close to the rim. Moe Wagner is another animal though. Wagner single handedly kept Michigan afloat through thirty minutes of bad basketball to start their Final Four game against Loyola Chicago. Wagner is also a modern big man who can shoot, but I like his post game a lot more than I do Spellman's. Wagner's points production is a lot less reliant on his three point shot, and he showed last game that he can get rebounds on the offensive end. Those kind of second chance points are huge against a team as good as Villanova. Wagner could start to take over this game though, and I think if he makes a couple big threes while also playing his game in the post, Michigan will have a chance to win this game down the stretch.
The last thing I say before I tell you my pick is something that Colin Cowherd brought up on his show today on FS1. I've always taken this into account when picking big games, and although I didn't vocalize it in my last post about Villanova and Kansas, I feel like after seeing Vegas setting Nova as 6.5 point favorites I should bring this up. Villanova is one of these scrappy, no name, consistent teams. They play as a well coached unit, and they aren't dominated by big name freshman recruits every year the way other major programs are. Their system is developing players into their later seasons, and then churning out wins with those players. Jalen Brunson is a great example of that system and mentality, and as we've all seen this year he is pivotal to their success. What I'm getting at here is that Villanova is at their best when they're this no name, underdog lineup. They've always had to fight for their wins, and it's usually a surprise when they beat marquee players and programs. This game, that isn't the case. Villanova is huge favorites, and are expected to win with authority. They've proven all year long that they're the best team in the country, and tonight everyone expects them to put the period on that sentence. This is not the Villanova way though. I really wonder how this team is going to play with the expectations and pressure on them, while Michigan comes in with nothing to lose and a scrappy will to win themselves.
This all takes me to my pick. I took Kansas over Villanova because I had second thoughts about Nova's matchups against that team. Tonight, I fear, even more, those same issues. I know that Nova shut me up last time, and I acknowledge that this is the best team in the country, but in a tournament that's been riddled with out of left field upsets, I'm calling for another one. I'm taking Michigan tonight, in what is not the smart or safe pick to win the game. I've just had a gut feeling about Nova these last couple of days, and I think that they could fall apart in an instant. My final score is 72-71, Michigan in a stunner. I'm praying to the basketball gods that I'm right with this one, because picking against Villanova two games in a row is risky, but I've watched a lot of film and I like the mismatches. Michigan is your 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Champions.
High School Senior from Connecticut obsessed with sports stats, facts, and management.