Welcome to the Truda Report everyone. The biggest move in the NBA so far this season caused a lot of discussion about which side won the trade, something we haven't seen much of with blockbuster trades in recent years. Teams looking to start a rebuild have usually sent star players to good teams for barely anything in return making the question of who won the trade an easy answer, but the way things are working out for both sides makes this move a little harder to analyze. I'll break down what I think has been good and bad for both team, and then give my verdict in this article. If there are any suggestions for later topics leave them below, and let me know if you disagree with anything I said in this article because I love nothing more than a good sports debate.
Timberwolves Receive: Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jarryd Bayless, future second round pick
76ers Receive: Jimmy Butler, Justin Patton
For the TWolves, this trade was about remaking their locker room and getting back the most value for Jimmy they could without handing him to a Western Conference contender. On the surface, Minnesota did a good job of this. After the trade Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins should definitely feel more comfortable than when they had a very intimidating bona fide star in their face telling them to play harder and stop padding stats. KAT undoubtedly plays better without Jimmy on the court as he's allowed to take most of the shots and he doesn't feel crowded at the hoop. His play has not disappointed. Andrew Wiggins on the other hand has done exactly what I expected him to do: flop. Wiggins is on a huge 5 year $146.5 million contract and he still hasn't proven himself to be a capable NBA player. Minnesota banked on him coming into form with the exodus of Butler, but the opposite has happened. Wiggins continues to be a defensive liability and he can't find his jump shot. He has all of the athletic potential in the world, but after having gone number one in the draft back in 2014 he is quietly becoming a bust.
Helping offset the disappointment of Wiggins are the additions Minnesota made through the trade. Robert Covington continues to be exceptional of defense, and he can provide scoring in spots. Dario Saric gives the Timberwolves much needed three point shooting, and although he has taken a step back since last season it's still and upgrade from what was there. Bayless and the second round pick were more filler than anything else for Minnesota, who really only made the trade because of a player I have yet to mention.
I'm getting a little off topic with this mention, but this deal wouldn't have been done without the reemergence of Derrick Rose. Rose has been spectacular this season and is a clear All-Star. He's taken on some of the scoring load left by Butler, allowing for this trade to leave the Timberwolves in not that bad of a spot. Rose took on the scoring, Covington took on the defense, and Saric took on some three point shooting. All of that has helped Minnesota continue to win some games with the absence of Butler.
My goodness has Justin Patton been incredible! I'm kidding, of course. The only piece of value that the Sixers got back in this deal is Jimmy G. Buckets. Butler has been nothing less than what Philly could have wanted. Besides being lit up by point guard Kemba Walker for 60 in a Sixers win (Jimmy of course had the game winning block, save, and three pointer to seal the game) Butler has been himself defensively. On offense Jimmy isn't lighting up the stat sheet, although he has had his share of big games. Butler has been efficient though, and he's doing what the Sixers want: play second fiddle to Joel Embiid, and sometimes even Ben Simmons. Where Butler isn't expected to take a step back is crunch time though, and that is what makes this Sixers team so dangerous now. Butler already has two game winners in the about 10 games he's been with the team, and just Sunday he had a dagger to seal another game. Butler is clutch, having hit 5 game winners with less than 10 seconds left since the 2016 season. That's second to only Russell Westbrook who takes basically every important shot for his team, while Butler has been splitting crunch time touches most of his career. Butler is doing for this team what they needed, helping a poor defensive lineup lock up opposing team's main offensive threats, and providing experienced, clutch, play when it matters.
So Who Won?
In the end, this trade can be looked at a million different ways and all that will matter is wins and loses. Philly was the better team entering this season, and what they did was come out an even bigger threat. Minnesota on the other hand, came out of this a worse team, and despite winning four straight after Butler's departure they find themselves in the 10th spot in the West and an unlikely Playoff team. Butler had the TWolves as the number three squad in the NBA last year until his knee injury a little while after the All Star break, and now Minnesota can only dream about being that successful. Meanwhile, the Sixers, after a rough start, find themselves third in the East while still going through some growing pains in figuring out exactly what new lineups work best. Philly can be considered the winner of this trade for the foreseeable future, and Minnesota will have to wonder whether they made a mistake siding with the likes of Wiggins over Jimmy Butler.
Welcome to The Truda Report everybody. Today I want to look at the two undefeated teams left in the NFL through a quarter of the season: the Los Angeles Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs. Which of the two can we expect to stay undefeated longest, what's the outlook for these teams the rest of the year, and are either of them legitimate Super Bowl contenders? I'll break down all of that in this article. Make sure to share this post and leave suggestions for future topics below, and check back frequently for more articles.
Los Angeles Rams:
The Rams this year were my Super Bowl favorites before the preseason even started, and their 4-0 start is not doing anything to change my mind. This offense which went from worst to first last year is not slowing down, as they've posted 33, 34, 35, and 38 points in the first four games. This was to be expected though, as what was already a dominant offense has another year of experience under young QB Jared Goff's belt, and they added possibly the best deep threat in the league in Brandin Cooks. The defense is where changes were really made this offseason, as the team added two Pro Bowl cornerbacks and the second best defensive tackle in the league (to pair with the number one DT in the league of course). Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Ndamukong Suh are all game changers on their own, and adding them to what was already a respectable defense has put it over the top. Against Jon Gruden's offense the Rams defense held the Raiders to 13 points, they shut out the Cardinals, and they allowed 23 to a very good Los Angeles Chargers offense, but the defense should get credit because they held the Bolts to only a field goal in the fourth quarter allowing the Rams to hold the lead and win the game. The outlier game was Week 4 against the Minnesota Vikings, another top 10 team in the NFL. I don't take too much stock in Thursday games though, because short weeks can mess with a team's preparation and health. The Rams dominance on both sides of the football in the first three games should be expected throughout the entire season as this is a stacked roster with a brilliant young head coach, and the Rams could easily be a threat to stay undefeated throughout the rest of the regular season.
Where do these expectations and L.A.'s performances so far put the Rams as the season moves forward though? I think that this team is too talented to hit a real rough patch, but if that were to happen, that's where issues could arise. With a roster filled to the brim with large personalities and stars and a coach younger than some of the players on his team, if L.A. were to for some reason drop a couple games in a row, which is really inexplicable the way this team should perform and has been playing, there could be issues with the cohesiveness of the locker room. It's been shown time and time again that a stable locker room means much more than talent (the Dolphins this season being an example of this, as despite having just been blown out by the Patriots their 3-0 start can largely be credited to locker room changes this offseason and selfless play all over the offense and defense) so really the only thing that can take down the Rams at this point is themselves.
As I mentioned earlier, the Rams have been my Super Bowl pick since the beginning of the year. I haven't seen a roster this stacked in my lifetime, and I haven't seen a coach turn a team around so abruptly in just one year. The Rams have shown themselves to be the real deal on offense once again this year, and their weapons are too much to deal with. Defensively, I think there are just too many playmakers on the roster to account for to really be able to exploit the unit. Suh is a player that's been double teamed his entire career, Donald has always been double teamed, and Talib and Peters have lived on islands in recent memory. That basically means L.A. has so much talent that on any given day their best players, who are capable of fending for themselves, are drawing an opposing teams attention through game planning leaving the other Pro Bowlers with help from the other players on the roster. Opposing teams basically have to pick their poison as they either devote time to stopping the L.A. defensive line leaving the secondary with less people to cover, leaving you with easy coverage for the Rams, or you devote time to finding weaknesses in the coverage, which is good enough to allow for the pass rush to get home. The Rams just look and play unstoppable, and they continue to be my Super Bowl favorites. This team is number one on every power rankings I've seen this week, and it deserves to be that way.
Kansas City Chiefs:
Kansas City, I hate to say it, is exactly where I thought they'd be at this point in the year. I wasn't sure they'd be undefeated, but I knew they'd at least be a three win team right now. I've been a believer in Patrick Mahomes all offseason, because he had time to develop behind a very good QB in Alex Smith last year, and then Andy Reid would design an offense utilizing the seemingly endless weapons this offense has. For context, Mahomes, who many scrambled to pick up on waivers in their fantasy leagues, I had drafted in the 10th round with complete confidence I'd found the breakout player of the year. To get back to what I mean when I say they're exactly where I thought they'd be--that is not a happy statement. As a Dolphins fan, I want to see a team that can prove to be a threat to the New England Patriots every year, and Kansas City has yet to prove to me with complete confidence that they are that team. The offense has been unstoppable, scoring opening drive touchdowns in three of the first four weeks (they kicked a field goal in the other game), and ending all four games 38, 42, 38, 27 in order. The defense, though, continues to look like an Andy Reid defense which is what has me scared. They allow chunk yardage like it's Christmas Day for the other team, basically gifting opposing offenses with huge running lanes and more times than not an open receiver way downfield. The secondary is a big issue, and it's something that good teams will be able to take advantage of against them. That's something that slowed down last years Chiefs who also started hot, and I'm scared that we're close to the part of the year where Andy Reid's team hits a rough patch. I don't see this team staying undefeated much longer, although in no way do they stop being a threat to win their division week in and week out.
The Chiefs look good to keep up their offensive success the rest of the year, and I think that's something that can be believed after Mahomes has proved his dominance and poise through this first quarter of the year. The defense though is what'll eventually be the Chiefs end. I think the team will win the AFC West, but depending on who they meet in the Playoffs there could be issues. As we saw last night against the Denver Broncos (who would've won had Case Keenum not missed an open receiver for the win, who by the way was open because of a secondary breakdown) a good defense can stifle the Kansas City offense for a decent amount of time, and if that performance is backed up by competent offensive play the Chiefs are beatable. A better version of the Broncos are the Jaguars, and that's a team that can end Kansas City's season. The offense can run the ball all over the Chiefs defense and Blake Bortles has looked less scared this year, not being great, but good enough to not make some of the same mistakes he used to. Also, Jacksonville's defense is basically a better version of the Broncos, and having two of the five best corners in the league does a lot to help stop the Chiefs endless weapons. I think that'd be a great game, but one where Kansas City would ultimately be outmatched. Because of that I can't positively say that the Chiefs are a Super Bowl team yet, although if there is improvement defensively I can revise that statement in the future. Overall though, this team has been spectacular to watch so far, and they should be an interesting story the rest of the season.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. After Week One of NFL football, I'm ready to break down what I've seen from the thirty two teams so far. I'll be going through each game and providing a small analysis of what I saw, but if there are bigger games that people want discussed, I'll make a more in depth article about that too. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow, and leave suggestions for topics down below.
Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles:
This game was much more reminiscent of last year's divisional round match up between the two teams than I thought it would be. The defenses dominated the game, but the Eagles were able to fully shut down Atlanta's offense. The lack of Kyle Shanahan running that offense looks very apparent for the second straight year. On Philly's side of things, they can only be happy. With Nick Foles under center they just keep winning, even if they are winning ugly. Wentz will return soon, and then their own offense will return to form.
Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins:
This was the longest game in NFL history, lasting 7 hours and 10 minutes due to multiple weather related delays. Tennessee saw three starters get injured in that game due to the hard hitting mentality of the Miami defense. Marcus Mariota was hurt, Taylor Lewan was hurt, and Delanie Walker was carted off and out for the season. Miami just looked better all game long, as they made big plays on both sides of the ball, most notably a defensive stand on a 4th and goal from the 3 yard line, and a 75 yard dime from Ryan Tannehill to Kenny Stills. Tennessee should be concerned about those injuries and their lasting impact, while Miami should be focused on building off of what many called a surprise Week One win.
San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings:
Jimmy Garoppolo was sent back to Earth in this game, after what was a flawless start to his career. For the first time teams had a notable amount of tape on his play, and it was apparent as one of the best defenses in the league made him very uncomfortable and forced three interceptions. What the Niners should be happy about though was the play of the defense, as that unit kept them in the game. Minnesota WAYYYYYYYYY overpaid Kirk Cousins, but they should be satisfied that he kept the ball safe yesterday, and avoided turnovers. Both teams have a bright future as this season progresses.
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots:
I kept telling people to pump the brakes on Desean Watson, and nobody listened. He did not look good in this game, as he struggled to move the ball against a very average defense. Houston's defense was not satisfactory as they watched Rob Gronkowski torch them for over 120 yards and a score. Tom Brady's statistics looked good, but when you remove his throwing to Gronk, the production drops way off. This should be some cause for concern when they play teams that match up better with linebackers. Overall though, the Pats still look like the Pats, and Houston still has a lot to prove as every game is going to be important in their loaded division.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints:
FITZMAGIC BABY!!! Ryan Fitzpatrick is a first ballot Hall of Famer if a Hall of Fame existed for inconsistent backup QBs with legendary beards. The quarterback, filling in for a suspended Jameis Winston, threw for 4 touchdowns and added one on the ground (after which he did the Cam Newton Superman celebration which means I can now die happy). He posted a 156 passer rating, and lead a team I consider to be hot garbage to a huge win over many peoples Super Bowl favorites. The Saints defense, which was the key to their success last year, was awful, and everyone in NOLA should be concerned. It has only been one game, but that is not a good sign.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants:
I had the privilege of being at this game, and let me just say that what I saw is not going to show up in the box score. I watched Jalen Ramsey, who talked trash to everybody this offseason, encounter a real receiver. Odell not only had 11 receptions for over 100 yards, but he burned Ramsey and forced two huge pass interference calls to set up the Giants in scoring position. Luckily for the Jags, that wasn't too huge of an issue as they stopped the run outside of one amazing 68 yard touchdown scamper from rookie Saquon Barkley, and they consistently had pressure on Eli Manning. Bortles threw a pick early in the game, and Leonard Fournette hurt his hamstring (what a surprise!) which are not good signs for the Jags offense, but outside of that they still look really good.
Side Note: Erik Flowers is the worst player in NFL history.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts:
What stood out to me about this game was the ineptitude of the Colts defense. Joe Mixon, a player I like, but definitely don't love, ran all over this team. Luck was able to keep this game close, but the Colts were eventually locked down, getting shut out in the fourth quarter. They still have a lot of work to do if they want to even think Playoffs in the near future. For Cincinnati, they should be satisfied with the performance, as this isn't a Playoff team but they showed some promise.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns:
It really bothers me that Ben Roethlisberger gets off easy with the media after this game. "He didn't play well, but he's still a good quarterback," they say, when I just watched something that told me the opposite of that. People say it's the absence of Le'Veon Bell that caused the poor performance, but James Conner, his replacement, was outstanding. The last two years we've seen Big Ben have games like this multiple times, where even his stars Antonio Brown and Bell can't save him from looking terrible. Luckily the Browns are too inept to win a game themselves, so after a full overtime the game ended in a 21-21 tie, which I think is ridiculous--play until somebody wins it's only a sixteen game season. This game I guess is a plus for the Browns as it ended a seventeen game losing streak, but it's definitely a negative for Pittsburgh as they did not look good down the stretch.
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens:
Nathan Peterman is the worst quarterback ever. These Bills are possibly the worst football team ever. The Ravens basically had an extra preseason game this week, because pretty much everyone on their roster got playing time this week due to their being up by so much. This game was a joke. Moving on...
Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers:
Tyreek Hill is a god. I have zero knowledge of whether on not he's a fundamentally sound receiver, but it doesn't matter because his speed ruins games. He had 268 all purpose yards, seven catches, and 3 touchdowns. The Chiefs new QB might have the strongest arm in the NFL, and yet it's impossible for his to overthrow Hill since "the cheetah" can literally just run under the ball and make the catch. Kansas City's offense was spectacular, and their defense looked solid as well. The Chargers are going to have trouble making the Playoffs this year because they're in a very tough division and what I saw on Sunday was that Kansas City is going to win it.
Washington Redskins @ Arizona Cardinals:
The Cardinals offense looks like a division two college. They couldn't move the ball until the last two minutes of the game, and that allowed Washington to control the clock with the run game. Speaking of the run game, Adrian Peterson was vintage as he now is top 10 all time in rushing yards, and he has over 100 career touchdowns. Peterson spearheaded the run game for Washington, and he did a great job helping control the clock. Alex Smith was under the radar good too, as he didn't really make mistakes and moved the ball effectively. Washington should be happy with his play, and Arizona should be disappointed with theirs.
Dallas Cowboys @ Carolina Panthers:
I've been saying it for years: fire Jason Garrett. How are you a head coach for eight years, and you forget to do what your roster is built for--RUNNING THE BALL. Ezekiel Elliot was barely involved on Sunday, despite it being a low scoring game, which usually encourages the run game. Dak Prescott didn't look very good as in my short period watching the game he missed multiple throws. Carolina's defense is often overlooked, but they're very, very good. This is a good sign for the Panthers, as they'll be relying on great defensive performances all year long as their division is filled with great passing games. The Cowboys showed me that they aren't a Playoff team, and I'm sticking with that until they prove otherwise.
Seattle Seahawks @ Denver Broncos:
This was a good game I think for both teams, as they both showed that they improved in the areas that they needed improvement in. Denver's defense is even better, and they have a quarterback now! Case Keenum looked good, and backed by another good defense he could be comfortable all game long. Seattle needed running back help as Russell Wilson was literally 95% of their offense last year, and it looked like they got some of that yesterday. Certainly their ball carriers aren't elite, but Wilson was able to hit them out of the back field for decent pickups multiple times, and they had a solid ypc of 4.0. Both teams looked good, and it'll be interesting to see how their seasons progress after a good showing from both in Week One.
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers:
Aaron Rodgers is the greatest player to ever touch a football. Words cannot do justice to what he pulled off on Sunday Night. When he was carted off of the field I thought I might as well call it a night, but I stayed up in hopes of seeing Khalil Mack continue to make ridiculous plays. Instead, I saw a one legged Aaron Rodgers come back onto the field and lead his team back from down 20-0. When Green Bay got the ball back with two minutes to go in the game, I closed my eyes and said, "I give it four plays," envisioning how easy Rodgers would make that final drive look. It only took three, as it was over on a 75 yard catch and run to Randal Cobb. The Bears have a lot to look forward to this year because they looked great in the first half, but the brilliance of Rodgers is unmatched.
New York Jets @ Detroit Lions:
Look at that everybody, it's another Bill Belichick coordinator who's not going to pan out on their own. Matt Patricia, a defensive mind, watched the Jets drop 48 on his team. Let me say that again--the Jets, a team with one of the least talented offenses in the NFL, dropped 48 on the Lions. Matthew Stafford threw four interceptions and was beaten up a lot which does not fare well for his outlook the rest of the season. The Lions have a lot of work to do, and the Jets now get to confirm their delusional fans' suspicions that "It's gonna be our year, I'm tellin ya. Super Bowl in New York!" (I don't like the Jets ridiculous fanbase very much, if you couldn't tell).
Los Angeles Rams @ Oakland Raiders:
The Rams are my Super Bowl favorites right now, and they showed why last night. The Khalil Mack-less Raiders headed up by Jon Gruden's offense looked great in the first half, leading 13-10 at the break. The Rams showed why their one of the best teams in football during the second half though, scoring at will, and sicking their defense on Derek Carr and the Oakland offense. I have to give credit to the Raiders, because I thought they were a five win team after the Mack trade, but they looked really good in the first half. The Rams though, clearly, have nothing to worry about as their offense stayed creative last night and they ran away with the game in the end.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. It's been a summer since my last article, but now that football is back I'll have a lot to talk about in the coming weeks. NFL news should be expected, as well as some articles commenting on some of the biggest sports stories of the summer. Make sure to share this article with a friend as it helps TTR grow, and leave any suggestions for future topics.
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles:
Tonight's season opener I think is one of the most underrated matchups we'll see all season long. I understand that Carson Wentz is not going to be active tonight, and Nick Foles has been less than spectacular this preseason, but I don't expect that to have too much of an impact on this game. Without a doubt Wentz would give the Eagles a much bigger chance to win, but expect Philly's play calling to resemble what it did when Wentz was out last year: run the ball, throw high percentage passes, and on defense...send heat. Tonight the reigning Super Bowl champs are facing one of the most talent loaded offenses in the NFL, so this game is really going to be a test of the Eagles top notch D, and honestly, that's what this game was going to be about anyways. Sure, if Wentz was playing his return would be an intriguing story, but the game was really going to be about what could be the best defense in football going up against what could be the best offense in football.
Now that I've made my opinion clear about what this game is hinged on, I'll make my pick and explain. To be blunt, the Falcons are going to win tonight. I love the Eagles roster and think it's the best in football, but this Falcons team has been disrespected this offseason. In the majority of power rankings, the Falcons have seen themselves in spots 5-7, nowhere close to where they believe they are. This offense is ridiculous, and the defense is incredibly underrated. Tonight that defense should shine, because if they can slow down Jay Ajayi and the Philadelphia running game, Nick Foles is going to have to make the plays. I know Foles was counted on to step up last year and he delivered, but his track record shows that this won't continue for long, and even if it does, it won't be at the Super Bowl MVP level we saw last year. The Eagles offensive line is fully healthy now, but I just don't see that helping stop the Falcons rush. I believe this Falcons front seven holds the Eagles to under 100 total rushing yards, and that puts all of the pressure on Foles. Tonight, Foles won't step up as much as he needs to, and the Falcons stifle the Eagles enough to win.
The main attraction tonight, as I mentioned before, is the Eagles defense against the Falcons offense. Like I said, I don't think that this is what decides the game, but since this is where the star players reside on both rosters. The Eagles added former Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett this offseason, and still boast one of the best defensive tackles in the game in Fletcher Cox. The Falcons have one of the top three receivers in the game, Julio Jones, the best running back duo in the game in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, and a top 10 quarterback in Matt Ryan. I expect to see the Falcons counter the loaded pass rush of Philadelphia by getting the ball to the two running backs I just mentioned, but not by handing the ball off. Matt Ryan should be feeling pressure all night which means less time for routes to develop downfield, so there should be a lot of quick routes run tonight, and a lot of dump offs to the running backs. When Philly does drop back in coverage, expect Ryan to use the opportunity to push the ball downfield, going for his big targets in Jones and Austin Hooper. In terms of who wins the battle, I think that Philly's defense will look great, but not as good as the Atlanta offense. I already predicted the Falcons defense to make an impact by stopping the run, which means that the Eagles offense should not be using clock as well as they'd like to. This means less rest for the Eagles defense, and a slight advantage to the Atlanta offense.
With all of this said, I think the final score is going to be 24-17. It's an offensive game, and a score of 24-17 is not very high despite all that I said about the defenses being the units that decide tonight's game. I think two touchdowns should be considered a lackluster performance for this Eagles offense as they put up less than that only twice last regular season (week 13, week 17), and once in the Playoffs (Divisional Round vs. Falcons). For the Falcons, I think 24 is a reasonable prediction seeing as I still expect them to put points on the board, although by no means do I think it'll be easy.
Hopefully tonight's game is an exciting one, and I hope everyone enjoys the first week back to football. Expect more articles soon, and more consistently as I'm back to a normal schedule again.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. Tonight is the start of the NBA Finals, featuring the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors for the fourth straight year. It is quite obviously a lopsided matchup, but I'll break down what I think will eventually happen and what'll guide both teams to victory. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow, and make sure to comment any questions or topics you'd like to hear about.
Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers:
I think that the biggest thing to understand when looking at this series is that nothing is a given. Injuries happen, sloppy play happens, and miracles happen. A family member of mine reminded me of a Finals not too long ago where there was a situation sort of similar to this one, when the Shaq-Kobe Lakers (the heavy, heavy, favorites) were stunned by the Detroit Pistons, who were led by Chauncy Billups. The Lakers housed four future Hall of Famers, and yet couldn't win the series. What I see in this series is four Warriors Hall of Famers, and one LeBron James. LeBron, being LeBron, can pull this off if the Warriors aren't careful.
Along those same lines, I think that the ball is in Golden State's court right now; they can either get together as a team and say "We are going to sweep this pathetic Cavs roster," or they can lose interest, take their position for granted, and find themselves tied 2-2 in a week and a half. I see the Warriors entering this series with the former mindset, but we've seen this team lose interest this year, costing them games. I think the media's doubting of the Warrior's dynasty after a close call in Houston will inspire a killer mindset in the Warriors though, so I'll let you know right now, I have them winning in five games. I think it has to be pointed out though, that teams in their position have made terrible mistakes in the past.
Now that my digression is out of the way, I'll talk about what I see as being the keys to victory for both teams. On the Warriors end of things, I think it's simple: play defense. LeBron is going to be LeBron, but it's his supporting cast that will decide games. If the Warriors can close out on the Cavs three point shooters and not allow James any help, then there is no way Cleveland comes away with this series. Kyle Korver can be deadly and change the course of games, so making sure he and the other shooters (like my man J.R. Swish) don't heat up is important.
The Warriors also have to avoid doing something I talked about in a previous post, which is playing hero ball. Kevin Durant had a ton of isolation plays against the Rockets, breaking the fluid ball movement and three point shooting tendencies we always see out of the Warriors. That can't happen in this series, and the more the Warriors play their game, the more likely they are to win. Someone will be hot every night so keeping the ball moving will ensure that everyone gets a few wide open looks, and the hot hand gets more quality looks. I'm okay with Durant getting the iso call when it's time for a dagger, but otherwise I think more ball movement gives the Warriors a win.
On the Cavaliers end of things I think one thing and one thing only decides this series: three point shooting. LeBron James is a playmaker, and his ability to dish out the ball when driving to the basket to open shooters is incredible. If the supporting cast can knock down those shots it takes some of the scoring load off of James, allowing him to spend more energy on the defensive end. That would be huge for the Cavs since they'll need all of the help they can get trying to stop the four All Stars of Golden State.
Since I feel bad about being so concise with the key for the Cavs victory, I'll mention something that I think will help Cleveland immensely this series. His name is Caughta Cheater...wait sorry Tristan Thompson. Thompson, despite his complicated off court love life, is a beast on the basketball court, and I think one of the best offensive rebounders in the game. He's also a bruiser and a big body, which Golden State has trouble defending against. When Houston said they were built specifically to beat Golden State, a big part of that system was Clint Capela. Having a dominant center against the Warriors, who have a serious hole at center, is a big plus, and I think Thompson could have a big series. Part of the reason he's on such an expensive contract is because of his great play in the Finals against the Warriors a couple years ago, so I think getting him the ball on offense and his defensive presence could be huge.
Just to reiterate what I said earlier, I see the Warriors taking home the Championship in five games. I think that both teams are capable of winning the Finals, and what I said about the Cavs could very easily happen, but I'm not willing to pick against possibly the best scoring lineup ever created. I think that the keys I brought up for the Warriors are much more attainable for them than those I brought up for Cleveland, just because of what I've seen so far this year, making me much more inclined to take Golden State in a lopsided victory. Hopefully I'll have time to break down a lot of the games as this series progresses, but if not at least you can keep an eye out on how what I've brought up impacts the series.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. Both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals have made their way through four games in the respective series, so now is the time to look back at what's worked and what hasn't for each of the four teams. With the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics tied up at two apiece, and the Golden State Warriors and Rockets also in a 2-2 deadlock, the Conference Finals have now become a best of three series. I'll be looking at what can be done by all four teams to emerge victorious, and also give my updated predictions for who will be moving on to the Finals. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow, and leave a comment if there is anything you want me to discuss in the next article.
Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers:
This series is much easier to break down than Rockets Warriors, because this series isn't a combination of analytics and great basketball balancing each other on the two most talented rosters in the NBA; this is one incredibly coached team having to deal with one more-than-incredible player. That player, LeBron James, has caused a lot of talk the past two weeks. This series, after the first two games in Boston, was called "over" and "finished" and "done" by varying people on national television. Boston, with a two to nothing lead, was already being called victorious, and people were predicting which team LeBron would go to next. Now, though, it's tied up at two apiece and the talk has shifted to whether Boston has a shot to pull this series out. I, during this media overreaction, sat calmly and laughed, because apparently people who dedicate their lives to analyzing sports don't understand how sports work. NBA series are designed to give the better team the advantage of starting the series with the lead, but then giving the worse team a chance to tie things up, although the pressure will be on: that's the whole basis behind the 2,2,1,1,1 home court system. Boston was supposed to come out with a two game lead, because THEY had home court advantage, not the Cavs. So now that the Cavs won their two home games, I can confidently say that everyone needs to chill out, because you know what's supposed to happen next--Boston is now supposed to reclaim the lead. This series isn't over by any stretch of the imagination, and since my prediction was Cavs in seven, I'm not going to freak out whichever way this next game goes. Boston, by design, should win since they're at home, but if not, they, being the "better team" (based on seeding), should be able to win in Cleveland and force a Game 7. So I guess my message, before I break down some specifics from the first four games, is that everyone needs to chill out; by design these series are built to last seven games, and although certain games hold series implications, we've seen comebacks on multiple occasions throughout NBA history.
Okay, so onto why this series is sitting at two games apiece. Like I said earlier, LeBron James is a one man wrecking crew who can singlehandedly ruin a teams chances of winning any given game. Right now, we are witnessing that happen. LeBron in the last two games understood that it was time for Cleveland to respond, and he turned things on. In Game 4 LeBron had 44 points and shot 61% from the field. In case you didn't know, that's ridiculous. LeBron had a more pedestrian first two games, and the Celtics provided the pressure defensively. These last two games though the Cavs have shot out to huge leads at the beginning of games. The Celtics, being a well coached team, have fought back, but some of the deficits they are seeing are too much to surmount. The Celtics need to be better defensively in transition at the start of games to stop the huge scoring burst in the first couple of minutes, and they need to just shake some of their nerves. The Celtics roster is incredibly young, and some of their most important players are just out of college. This is a big stage to have to perform on, and you can see the small discomfort at the beginning of games.
For the Cavs, in order to keep winning, which I think they'll be able to do, their role players need to keep showing up. LeBron is great at driving to the basket and kicking the ball out to shooters for open threes, and if the Cavs can keep sinking them (they made 50% in Game 3 and 36% in Game 4) then things will be a wrap. The Celtics are great defensively, but LeBron takes a lot of attention to guard, so if everyone else makes Boston pay for their lack of attention on the role players, than the Cavs will be set. Big performances from LeBron and solid backing from another two or three players is enough against this young Celtics team. Cleveland should be confident heading in to these final three games.
I've already mentioned it, but I'll say it again. I previously picked the Cavs to make the Finals, and then to beat the Celtics, and I'm still sticking by that. I can't go against LeBron James right now, and especially since it's a three game series, I don't see James losing. He just needs two more huge games, and he'll be back in the Finals. I'm sticking with my pick of Cavs in seven, and no matter what happens in Game 5, I'll keep that pick. Hold me to it.
Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors:
I really hate it when people blatantly lie, knowing well that everything they're saying is false. You can see it on their face a lot of the time too--it's in their facial expression that they know what they're saying is blatantly not true. I keep seeing that facial expression in Mike D'Antoni's post game press conferences. After a Rockets loss, D'Antoni sits their and says how the Rockets will continue playing their style of basketball since he knows it can beat the Warriors. Game 2, which was an impressive defeat of Golden State, was followed by D'Antoni telling everyone how nothing changed. I'm dead serious when I say this: I laughed out loud. The Rockets went from playing all iso basketball, James Harden hero ball, and shooting late in the shot clock to ball movement, early shots, and spreading the ball around. They played like the Warriors basically. It was easy to see while watching the game, and then D'Antoni followed it up by pretending like it was "his" system that beat Golden State, when really they just emulated what had previously beaten them. Game 4 was the same situation. After a disgusting 41 point blowout victory for Golden State in Game 3, the Rockets came out and once again reverted to Warriors style basketball. The ball was spread around (James Harden was basically the entire offense in the first half, but when it came down to crunch time everybody was getting their touches, and it was Chris Paul who hit the big shots), and the Rockets had their best defensive game of the season. The defensive intensity at the end of the game was nothing I've ever seen out of the Rockets (it's something I see out of the Warriors all the time), and their willingness to spread the ball around the perimeter and dish the ball off of drives to the basket was not a page out of their own book. Of course, Houston went on to win an incredible game by three points, tying the series at 2-2. I lost a lot of respect for Mike D'Antoni because of his unwillingness to admit his change in coaching style once he saw they couldn't win the way that they usually play.
Someone I am gaining respect for, though, is James Harden. He has, time and time again, come up small in the Playoffs, but in Game 4 he came up huge in the first half, helping the Rockets avoid being blown out. Another person I'm gaining respect for is Chris Paul. He also just had one of the biggest moments of his career, as he closed out the Warriors who were surging backing into the game late in the fourth quarter. Paul hit a lot of huge shots, and played like the big time player he is. I'm not fans of either of these players, but they deserve respect for their respective performances in the Rockets wins this series.
On the Warriors end of things, they just need to keep doing what they do best. Steph Curry has looked great these last two games, and the Warriors need to keep running the offense through him. If they can execute their fluid ball movement more often, then I think things are a wrap for Houston. The issue has been when Curry and/or Thompson is off the floor, and the Warriors try to isolate Kevin Durant too much. KD has been spectacular, playing incredibly pretty much every night of the Playoffs, and his isolation game has been incredible this series. The issue, though, is that eventually he's going to have to miss a couple of shots, and those are the possessions that the Rockets take advantage of and grow their lead. When Durant is taking every shot, everyone else is getting out of sync offensively and the shot quality decreases. If the Warriors can avoid falling into this cycle again, than the team should perform more consistently offensively.
As for my pick right now, I'm sticking with my selection of the Warriors. I think that they can win another one in Houston, but last night's Game 4 loss was a huge blow. They had the win in their grasp but lost it, meaning that they have to win two out of four games in Houston this Playoffs. I don't care who you are, but winning anywhere outside of your home court twice in the course of one series is difficult, and the Warriors are going to have to do that. I still believe in their ability to come up big though, and if Steph, Klay, Dray, and Durant can continue their excellence and play with fluidity, than they should be able to take home the win in seven games.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. After a very quick round of Conference Semifinals series, all of which ended in at most five games, it's time for the NBA Conference Finals. In the East, the Boston Celtics continue to surprise the league with their incredible play despite not having their two best players, and the Cavaliers continue rolling behind LeBron James's incredible play. In the West, the inevitable match up of the NBA's two best teams, the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets, will be possibly more watched than the actual Finals. Both should be very interesting series, and at least one should come down to seven games. Today I want to give my predictions and my preview for both series, and hopefully inform some of you who are on the fence about who to pick yourselves.
Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers:
This series has serious implications for the future of the NBA. Boston, without their two best players, has been so good that they're one of the top four teams in the NBA right now. With the return of Kyrie and Hayward, this team could be possibly the best in the NBA. If LeBron manhandles this young roster, though, we could see some acquisitions for more established players in the NBA. On the Cavs side of things, if this roster can't beat a cripples Celtics team, then LeBron James will 99% not be returning. The Celtics with Kyrie and Hayward would kill this Cleveland team, so there will be zero reason for LeBron to return if they can't beat Boston right now.
Back to the present, this series should be incredibly fun to watch. I think it's going to go seven games, and I think it should be close every night. The biggest concern for the Cavs has been players besides LeBron stepping up and scoring the basketball, but in their sweep of the Raptors, on multiple occasions other players were helping take on that scoring load. If they keep that up in this series, LeBron will have a lot less pressure on his shoulders, allowing him to be more present defensively. On the Celtics end of things, they should be a little worried about what happened to the Raptors. I thought that the Toronto Cleveland series was going to be close because of Toronto's depth counteracting LeBron, but their depth didn't do anything to help. I think partially DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry's underwhelming play had more to do with the Raptors struggles than the depth, but what does that say for the Celtics? The Celtics don't have star players at all, and if depth isn't effective against Cleveland than Boston is rendered ineffective. Boston does have one thing going for them that the Raptors didn't though, which is why I'm calling this a seven game series. That thing is Brad Stevens.
Brad Stevens (incoming: hot take) is the best coach in the NBA right now. I don't care what people say, but Stevens is doing more right now with what he has than what Gregg Popovich did with the Spurs, who I think have a better roster right now than the Celtics. Pop still had star players like LaMarcus Aldridge, while Stevens is working with a ton of people on rookie contracts. Stevens ability to draw up plays and prepare his team in the final moments of games has been incredible these Playoffs, as we've seen on multiple occasions. Stevens should keep Boston in this series, especially with his great game planning going up against LeBron. There is no way to stop LeBron James, but the way Stevens creates matchups to hinder star players is incredible; his placement of Al Horford on Ben Simmons defensively made it hard for Simmons to finish inside (cause Simmons can't shoot for his life) and it left the more athletic players to guard the other shooters on the court surrounding the passing proficient Simmons. Philly was minus 63 when Ben Simmons was on the floor in that series. Yeah. If he can do anything to slow down LeBron or the surrounding members of the Cavs, then Boston can win this series.
I'm personally picking the Cavs to win, since they were my pick to go to the Finals out of the East from the beginning. I don't like Boston being treated like the underdog though, because people need to remember how poor the Cavs looked just a week or two ago against the Pacers. That version of the Cavs could show up at any moment. I just can't pick against LeBron, though, so I'm taking Cleveland in a thrilling series.
Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors:
Welcome to the NBA Finals everyone...wait what?...the two best teams aren't playing in the Finals?...why are they playing in the Western Conference Finals?...that must mean the East is garbage...oh the East is garbage...okay thanks. So yeah, the real matchup of the leagues two best teams in now, not later. The Warriors, who everyone hates now for some reason, and the Rockets, who I think are way more hatable, are facing off in what should be an intense series. Houston and Golden State play very different styles of basketball which to me is funny since the Rockets claim to have been built specifically to beat Golden State. Golden State is one of the top assisting teams in the NBA, as well as one of the top defensive teams in the league. Houston is near the bottom in both categories. Houston shoots more threes than anybody else, and they play more isolation basketball than the rest of the NBA. The Warriors are obviously known for their three point shooting, but don't shoot as many as Houston, and they also are towards the bottom of the NBA in iso basketball.
When thinking about who to pick, this difference in style of play made things easy for me. The Warriors without intentionally doing so, are built to beat the Rockets. The reason the Warriors were so successful and historic was that they brought in a new wave of basketball, which was high percentage three point attempts and makes. This along with their selfless system destroyed teams built on iso basketball since they could outscore them for days, and the Warriors defense was also huge for them. Against the Rockets, at team with two Hall of Fame guards, things will not be so easy, but the general ideas surrounding what made the Warriors work was that they were the opposite of iso heavy teams.
This is not to say that this series won't be close though. This series is going seven games, and I think there won't be a game decided by more than ten points, but there are issues with what the Rockets are right now. James Harden has been given a huge pass from the media this Postseason, as he has been producing considerably less then what he did during the regular season. His field goal percent has only been 40%, and his three point sits at 34%. He's still averaging 28.5 ppg, but he's struggling shooting the ball, and against a really good defensive team like the Warriors, thinks could get shaky. One thing I love for the Rockets right now, though, is Clint Capela. The Warriors most effective lineup is "The Hamptons Five" which consists of Curry, Thompson, Durant, Iguodala, and Green. This lineup should struggle defensively against someone as good as Capela though, especially since Capela is a great post player. If Capela forces the Warriors to use a center a lot, and "The Hamptons Five" says off the floor, Houston will have a better chance against Golden State.
Overall though, I just like the Warriors more in the series. The style of play, the inconsistency with Harden, and the overall pedigree of Golden State point to them winning this series. When I first made my Playoff picks I reserved the right to make my pick until now since I said everything depended upon Steph Curry's health, and to me he looks great. He's playing at what seems to be 100%, and the effect that has on everyone else is amazing. Warriors, in an incredibly close seven game series, move on to the Finals for a fourth straight year against LeBron James and the Cavs.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. Today I want to talk a little bit about some of the bigger stories related to the NBA Conference Semifinals. If you want any specific topics for the next article comment them down below, and also make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow.
Brad Stevens vs. The Process:
This Celtics vs. Sixers series is going to be really fun. Honestly, it shouldn't be though. If the Celtics were anywhere close to healthy, they would destroy Philadelphia. The teams two best players, both All Stars, are injured. If you want to accept that Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are injured though, then think about this as well: if anyone but Brad Stevens was the Celtics coach, the Sixers would be destroying the Celtics. Brad Stevens has coached up possibly the best defense in all of the NBA, and despite having a crippled roster, the Celtics continue to win. There is no denying that the team's young role players have stepped up in huge ways, but this is more than just individual performances. Guys like Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford all deserve their due respect, but without Brad Stevens at the helm this team would not still be in the Playoffs. The Milwaukee Bucks were not an easy out, and watching the Celtics handle their business in Game 7 of that series says a lot about Stevens as a coach. Getting a young, inexperienced team to play like polished veterans is not easy, but he's making it work. Also, when you watch the Celtics play, at least three or four times a game I can't help but say, "That was an incredible play call" (or design). Stevens has done an excellent job with this team, and he has the looks of an early-stages all time great coach.
Quickly, I think I should address the Sixers. I said in my Playoff predictions that I had the Sixers beating the Celtics in this round, but I'd like to specify here that I think this series is going seven games. I also think that each team is going to have to win a game on the road this series, because although Boston is great on their home floor, the Sixers are by far the more talented team. Having just said that, I think now would be a good time to tell everyone to stop being suckers and hop off of the Sixers bandwagon. All that I've been hearing since Kyrie Irving went down injured was how the Sixers have been spectacular, and how the Sixers are the next great Eastern Conference dynasty, and how they don't need LeBron James to be great. Just so you know, I laugh hysterically every time I hear an analyst say something like that. Brad Stevens is the best coach in the East, and a top two coach in the league, and the Celtics roster is the third best in the league when fully healthy. We are seeing right now how good they are without their best players, so once you those two back into the equation, not only will they be a great starting five, but they'll be deep. So, if the Sixers are going to struggle with THIS Celtics team, there is no way they are what everyone is hyping them up to be. I'm still taking Philly to win in seven, but after Game 1, I'm not very confident in that pick. Game 2 will be telling.
LeBron Got Help?
The Cleveland Cavaliers stole Game 1 last night in Toronto, and despite LeBron James's triple double, he didn't take over in the way he usually does. He didn't really need to. For the first time all Playoffs, it looked like the Cleveland Cavaliers were playing, not LeBron James and four bums. When this team helps out LeBron, Toronto is going to struggle. The Raptors strength is their depth while the Cavs strength is that they have arguably the best player ever, so when the two teams hold those molds it's a pretty even match up. If the Cavs role players are going to keep stepping up though, then Cleveland can easily win this series. They already stole a game in Toronto, so now it's the Raptors with the pressure on their shoulders. I had the Cavs winning this series in seven games in my initial picks, but I was starting to question that after the way Cleveland looked in the first round. If the Cavs can replicate what they did last night though, then I stick with my pick, and I like the Cavs season continuing on.
Steph Curry's Return:
I saw a lot of panicking about the Warriors-Pelicans series, with people saying that New Orleans was going to take this seven games. People overreact a lot, because they only look at what is directly in front of them. They saw a Warriors team that isn't their best self (because of an injured Steph Curry) playing a New Orleans team that looked like the best they've been all year. I saw Curry being out for one game, and then coming back to help the Warriors end the series in five games. Right now, I'm hearing a lot of that from everybody else as well. After Curry's incredible return last night (28 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, +26 plus minus, all in 27 minutes) now suddenly people are realizing what the Warriors are again. This team in practically unstoppable when everyone can play, and although the Rockets are going to pose a challenge, the Pelicans aren't the Rockets. Curry doesn't have to play 40 minutes against new Orleans to have an impact, because clearly what he did last night was enough. Everyone needs to chill out with their impulsive reactions, and go with what history has shown us. What history tells me is that the Warriors are more than fine, and Steph Curry is going to take this team far into the Playoffs.
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.
High School Senior from Connecticut obsessed with sports stats, facts, and management.