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"The Stack" 10-26-16

The Cleveland Cavaliers hung their championship banner Tuesday night. Is a repeat championship in their future? Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Durant joined the Warriors in the offseason to form a superteam. Is there enough ball for him, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson?
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!  The Indians are in the World Series and next door the Cavaliers are the defending NBA champions.  The Cavaliers shouldn’t have to worry too much about any stiff competition from the rest of the NBA apart from the Golden State Warriors.  We are on a collision course for act three of Warriors-Cavs in the NBA Finals.  We’ll get to that more later on.


A lot of guys got paid money this year and I do mean a lot of money for guys that probably didn’t deserve it a whole lot like Timofey Mozgov with the Los Angeles Lakers (4 years, $64 million) and other guys of that nature.  That was the narrative of this offseason.  I mean, Nicolas Batum is a good player, but is he $120 million over five years worthy for the Charlotte Hornets?  Jeremy Lin got 3-years for $36 million with Brooklyn and Matthew Dellavedova got 4-years, $38 million with Milwaukee.  Miles Plumlee got $52 million over four years with Milwaukee and some guy named Alex Abrines got $18 million over three years with Oklahoma City.  Who is Maurice Harkless?  Some guy who just got $40 million over four years with the Portland Trailblazers.  This is insanity! 


Now some guys who deserved to get paid got paid.  LeBron James signed a 3-year, $100 million deal to re-up with Cleveland.  James is getting underpaid that is for sure.  Russell Westbrook surprised a lot of people by signing a 3-year $85 million deal to stay in Oklahoma City.  C.J. McCollum got $106 million over four years with Portland and James Harden renegotiated with the Rockets to get a 4-year, $118 million deal.  Dwyane Wade left South Beach for the South Side (Is the United Center on Chicago’s south side?).  Anyway, Wade is with the hometown Bulls now on a two-year $47.5 million deal and new enemy in the NBA now is Kevin Durant who has joined forces with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and the Warriors on a two-year, $54.5 million deal.  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  Will certainly cheapen his championship total when his career is done.


There were also quite a few head coaching moves in the offseason.  The most notable one was Tom Thibodeau joining the Minnesota Timberwolves.  With a tremendous core of young talent on that team, a lot of coaches sought this job.  Scott Brooks, former head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder was hired by the Washington Wizards in part I believe to try and lure Kevin Durant to our nation’s capital (it didn’t happen).  Former Memphis Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger is now in Sacramento to try and clean up that mess.  Luke Walton will probably wish he is back with the Warriors now that he is the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.  Nate McMillan is the head coach of the Indiana Pacers.  Frank Vogel, who was fired by the Pacers, is now coaching the Orlando Magic.  Phil Jackson is going outside of the triangle with his next coach as Jeff Hornacek is with the New York Knicks.  Mike D’Antoni surprised many by being named the head coach of the Houston Rockets.  Finally, the Grizzlies tabbed David Fizdale to be their new head coach and the Brooklyn Nets went with Kenny Atkinson.  Neither of those guys will be making a whole lot of noise I feel like this season.  That is a lot of head coaching shifting, but that is today’s NBA for you.


Eastern Conference


Central Division


We start in the eastern conference and it begins and ends with the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Do you really think it would be smart to pick against LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the rest of the Cavaliers?  I didn’t think.  Boston is going to continue to get better, but they are not the Cleveland Cavaliers, not by a long stretch. 


I’m very curious to see how Chicago looks like this year with Dwyane Wade joining the team.  Certainly it didn’t seem like everyone was buying into head coach Fred Hoiberg’s system last year.  Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose are both in New York.  Rajon Rondo joined the team.  They still have Jimmy Butler.  Is there enough ball to go around for the Bulls?  Indiana is going to be better this season thanks in large part to the acquisition of Jeff Teague.  He solidifies the backcourt and gives the Pacers a great one-two combo along with Paul George.  Stan Van Gundy is going to continue to make Detroit better.  The Pistons will be back in the postseason and don’t sleep on the Milwaukee Bucks either.  They were disappointing last year, but they are very young and have the Greek Freak (Giannis Antetokounmpo).  This is a team that very well could make it back to the postseason.


Predicted finish


  1. Cleveland Cavaliers

  2. Indiana Pacers

  3. Detroit Pistons

  4. Chicago Bulls

  5. Milwaukee Bucks


Atlantic Division


The Toronto Raptors have had an easy go at it in the Atlantic the past few years.  That will be much different this year.  The Boston Celtics have tremendous young talent in Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk and company.  The addition of Al Horford makes them formidable in the middle and Brad Stevens is a fantastic young head coach.  This is the team to beat in the division this year.  That’s not to say that the Raptors won’t have a say in the division with DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.  This team will be right there in the division.


The team that is most intriguing is the New York Knicks.  The additions of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah provide a high risk, big reward factor.  If they can stay healthy, the Knicks have something here to go along with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.  If not, I don’t think they make the playoffs.  That is my one caveat for the eastern conference playoffs.  Philadelphia will be more fun this year with Jahlil Okafor and Ben Simmons.  If Joel Embiid can stay healthy they might have something going on there in Philly.  The Brooklyn Nets will be the worst team in the league due to a lack of talent.  When Jeremy Lin is your big free agent acquisition…yikes.


Predicted Atlantic standings


  1. Boston Celtics

  2. Toronto Raptors

  3. New York Knicks

  4. Philadelphia 76ers

  5. Brooklyn Nets


Southeast Division


The Southeast Division is a complete crapshoot.  You can make an argument for just about every team as to why they will win the division.  Maybe not the Miami Heat.  A lot of players have left South Beach in recent years (Dwyane Wade yeah yeah).  Charlotte has Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum and company.  Washington has Bradley Beal, John Wall and a new coach in Scott Brooks.  Atlanta has Dwight Howard, but no Jeff Teague and only one point guard on their active roster.  Orlando will be better this year, but after trading Victor Oladipo they need to prove something to me.  I just don’t know about this division.


Predicted Southeast Division


  1. Washington Wizards

  2. Atlanta Hawks

  3. Charlotte Hornets

  4. Orlando Magic

  5. Miami Heat


Predicted Eastern Conference playoffs teams


  1. Cleveland Cavaliers

  2. Boston Celtics

  3. Toronto Raptors

  4. Indiana Pacers

  5. Washington Wizards

  6. Detroit Pistons

  7. Atlanta Hawks (maybe the Charlotte Hornets instead)

  8. Chicago Bulls (New York Knicks make it if Rose and Noah stay healthy)


Western Conference


Pacific Division


Listen, why are we even talking about who is going to win this division?  One, outside of the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers, the rest of the division is crap.  The Warriors will have some growing pains being able to share the ball between Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, but those are three of the best shooters in the game.  Add to that Draymond Green and when he isn’t kicking players in the ding-ding, he is phenomenal.  You have to factor the Clippers in this division with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and the Clippers should easily make the playoffs again.


Their roommates in the Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers will once again struggle, but at least the future looks a little brighter with Luke Walton at the helm.  They’re still a year away at least.  Phoenix and Sacramento, no thank you.


Predicted Pacific standings


  1. Golden State Warriors

  2. Los Angeles Clippers

  3. Sacramento Kings

  4. Los Angeles Lakers

  5. Phoenix Suns


Northwest Division


I may be going a little overboard with this division, but I am super stoked for the Minnesota Timberwolves this year.  Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine (a pick I hated at the time, but now love), what is not to love?  New head coach Tom Thibodeau will preach defense, defense and more defense.  They may be one year away, but I am thinking playoffs with this team this year.


Portland surprised people with how well they played last year and Damien Lillard and C.J. McCollum are one of the best one-two young duos in the game.  They’ll be back in the postseason this year.  Oklahoma City may have lost Kevin Durant, but they still have Russell Westbrook and they did get Victor Oladipo from the Magic.  No reason to think that the Thunder won’t compete for the division and make it to the playoffs.


The team that people really seem to like is the Utah Jazz and for good reason.  George Hill, Gordon Hayward and Joe Johnson are a pretty good trio.  Shelvin Mack isn’t too bad.  This Utah team was a game away from making the playoffs last year.  They break through this year.  Denver will be better, but it’s just not going to work for them this year.


Predicted Northwest Division standings


  1. Utah Jazz

  2. Oklahoma City Thunder

  3. Portland Trailblazers

  4. Minnesota Timberwolves

  5. Denver Nuggets


Southwest Division


The Southwest Division seems down this year.  Memphis isn’t as good (in my estimation anyway), Houston just has James Harden and they will suffer this year, Anthony Davis can’t stay healthy for a full season in New Orleans and Dallas has some older guys on their roster, but also new acquisitions in Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut.  They will help alongside Dirk Nowitzki.  The cream of the crop though in the division is still the San Antonio Spurs.  It will be weird without Tim Duncan, but they did add Pau Gasol and last I checked they still have Greg Poppovich as their head coach…plus they beat the Warriors last night!    They are clearly the team to beat in this division.


Predicted Southwest Division standings


  1. San Antonio Spurs

  2. Dallas Mavericks

  3. Houston Rockets

  4. New Orleans Pelicans

  5. Memphis Grizzlies


Predicted Western Conference playoff teams


  1. Golden State Warriors

  2. San Antonio Spurs

  3. Los Angeles Clippers

  4. Utah Jazz

  5. Oklahoma City Thunder

  6. Portland Trailblazers

  7. Dallas Mavericks

  8. Minnesota Timberwolves


NBA Finals


Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers


Predicted winner: Golden State Warriors


NBA MVP: Russell Westbrook


Enjoy the NBA season everyone.


Coming up Thursday: TNF preview, World Series reaction, college football weekend forecast and more.

"The Stack" 10-25-16

The World Series starts tonight in Cleveland. Two long suffering fan bases in Cleveland (Indians) and Chicago (Cubs) look to end their long World Series droughts. It's going to be one heck of a World Series (8 PM ET FOX). Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Brock Osweiler was atrocious Monday night, throwing for just 131 yards as the Texans got thumped 27-9 by the Denver Broncos.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Stack is back on this Tuesday with a short post today as we try and prepare for our NBA season preview blog post to go tomorrow.  World Series preview today though so let’s get right to “the stack” for today, Tuesday, October 25th:


Broncos shut down Osweiler’s return to Denver


We all saw this coming, at least should have seen this coming.  Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans were once again terrible on the road against one of the best teams in the NFL.  The Denver Broncos shut the Texans down all night in route to a 27-9 win on Monday Night Football.  Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian wasn’t tremendous, but he didn’t have to be.  The Broncos running game did the job and their defense was dominant.  Osweiler had 131 yards passing.  DeAndre Hopkins looks lost in this offense, because Osweiler has no concept of pushing the ball down the field.  It’s bad in Houston.  No other way around it.


World Series


Chicago Cubs @ Cleveland Indians 8 PM ET FOX


Two long suffering baseball franchises meet in a World Series dripping with headlines.  The scene was simply tremendous in Wrigley Field and outside on the streets Saturday night after the Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 to advance to their first World Series in what 70 years?  Last time was 1946?  Their bats have finally awoken.  Look at the lineup and tell me where there is an easy out.  Kris Bryant is tremendous.  Javier Baez is good.  Anthony Rizzo is good.  Addison Russell tremendous young talent.  This is a very difficult lineup to stop.  The Dodgers had it going in the first three games of the NLCS with the breaking ball.  Perhaps the Indians will look at that and see what they can do.  They are turning to Corey Kluber for game one.  Can Trevor Bauer pitch effectively in this series or will that drone cutting injury keep him from being a contributing factor?  Indians manager Terry Francona has made some masterful pitching decisions this postseason.  Andrew Miller out of the bullpen has been practically unhittable.  Francona is going to once again have to make some incredibly difficult decisions in this series I feel like.  So far so good, but against the Cubs it will be different.  One fan base will be in complete jubilation.  The other one will not.  I’m going with the fan base that has been suffering for over a century.


Pick: Cubs in 5


Coming up Wednesday: 2016-17 NBA season preview

"The Stack" 10-24-16

The Eagles defense smothered Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford all day Sunday handing the Vikings their first loss of the season 21-10. James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi ran for 204 yards, his second consecutive game rushing for over 200 yards as the Dolphins beat the Bills 28-25.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri set a record with 43 consecutive field goals made (not in one game...that would be a record). He and Andrew Luck helped the Colts beat the Titans 34-26.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Stack is back on this Monday and there are no undefeated teams remaining in the NFL.  Our worst fears came true yesterday as the Minnesota Vikings, particular their offensive line played a dreadful game and lost the Philadelphia Eagles 21-10.  What else happened in week 7?  Time to get to some reaction and recap week 7 in the NFL in “the stack” for today, Monday, October 24th:


New York Giants 17 Los Angeles 10


The Giants once again got off to a slow start spotting the Rams an early ten points, but their defense, which had three takeaways on the season coming into the game went to work.  They picked off Case Keenum four times and brought one interception back for a touchdown.  An interception on a miscommunication between Keenum and Brandon Quick sealed the game.


Cincinnati 31 Cleveland 17


Can the Browns keep a quarterback healthy this season?  Cody Kessler left the game and Kevin Hogan finished up.  Guess that is what happens when you have as young a team as the Browns do.  Doesn’t seem to be a winning formula when you can’t keep your guys happy.  That and giving up big plays like Jeremy Hill’s touchdown run and A.J. Green’s Hail Mary grab to end the first half.


Detroit 23 Washington 20


Congrats Zach Zenner (former SDSU Jackrabbit) who scored the first touchdown of his NFL career.  After Washington took the lead it was Matthew Stafford who showed his clutch gene once again with a last minute drive the ended with a touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin.  Another big comeback win for the Lions.


Oakland 33 Jacksonville 16


The Raiders should request every game be played in the 1 PM ET/Noon CT window.  They are 4-0 now in the central and eastern time zone following a very convincing win over the Jaguars.  Blake Bortles was bad for the Jaguars while Raiders were better in all three phases.  These team is the real deal and next week they get to play in the eastern time zone again against the Buccaneers.


Kansas City 27 New Orleans 21


The Chiefs defense once again got a pick six and though Drew Brees had over 300 yards passing and three touchdowns, the Chiefs were just slightly better and able to hang on for the win.  This is going to be an exciting race in the AFC West between them, the Raiders and the Broncos.


Miami 28 Buffalo 25


Jay Ajayi has awoken.  The Dolphins running back ran for over 200 yards for the second consecutive week joining only a handful of other running backs every to do that.  They would be O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams  The Bills lost LeSean McCoy in this game to a hamstring injury (he had one going into the game) and the Dolphins overcame an eleven point deficit to come back and beat the Bills.  There is no quit in this Dolphins team, at least not yet.


New York Jets 24 Baltimore 16


It looked like the Jets were going to lose this game in Jet-like fashion this season with that botched snap that the Ravens returned for a touchdown.  Then Geno Smith got hurt and Ryan Fitzpatrick came in and while he wasn’t spectacular he didn’t throw an interception.  The Jets relied on Matt Forte who had 100 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown and he also added a touchdown reception as the Jets handed the Ravens their fourth straight loss.


Philadelphia 21 Minnesota 10


These two teams came into the league one and two respectively in turnovers committed throughout the season.  They had five consecutive turnovers combined in the first quarter.  The Vikings offensive line was a disaster and the Eagles took advantage of it all day.  Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford was constantly under duress and the Vikings squandered multiple opportunities inside the red zone.  If Andrew Sendejo had taken his interception to the outside he would have scored a touchdown, wouldn’t have gotten injured and this would have been a completely different game.  As it was though, the Eagles played much better than the Vikings and deserved the victory.  This will serve as a wakeup call for the Vikings.


Indianapolis 34 Tennessee 26


Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri has made NFL history.  The greatest kicker in the history of the NFL (and former SDSU Jackrabbit) has now made 43 consecutive field goals after the two he booted through were successful in Nashville.  He keeps getting better with age.  Andrew Luck was pretty good in this one too with over 300 yards through the air and three touchdowns.  Good bounce back win for the Colts after their heartbreaking loss last week in Houston.


San Diego 33 Atlanta 30


The Falcons weren’t supposed to come back home after two good showings against tough teams in the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks and blow a 17-point fourth quarter lead.  That just shouldn’t happen.  It did in this one though.  The Falcons defense was not great and Matt Ryan threw an interception to help the Chargers mount a comeback.  Melvin Gordon scored three touchdowns (two on the ground and one receiving) though this game might have ended in regulation had Falcons kicker Matt Bryant been able to make his 58-yard field goal.  It just missed.  The Falcons went for it on fourth down in overtime and couldn’t convert and the Chargers kicked a game-winning field goal.  They only play close and entertaining games.


Tampa Bay 34 San Francisco 17


Thought the 49ers might be able to pull off an upset here, but their run defense was absolutely atrocious as Jacquizz Rodgers ran for 154 yards and some guy named Peyton Barber added 84 yards on the ground too as the Bucs helped put away the 49ers.  Colin Kaepernick was okay in this one and he is far from the only problem with the 49ers.  This team is a disaster.

New England 27 Pittsburgh 16

No Ben Roethlisberger was a bit of a problem for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  While Landry Jones wasn't terrible he wasn't tremendous either.  The Steelers defense had some issues stopping LaGarrette Blount who had a big day rushing the football and scored a couple of touchdowns.  With the bye coming up, Steelers fans have to be hoping that Roethlisberger is able to come back soon after that.


Seattle 6 Arizona 6


Not really sure what to say about this one.  The Cardinals will be kicking themselves (literally and figuratively) and after all of the missed opportunities in this one.  They dominated this game in terms of a yardage stand point, but their field goal unit was terrible.  They had one blocked, missed one field goal in OT after running back David Johnson apparently didn’t get in the endzone.  Then Stephen Hauschka missed a chip shot field goal with little time remaining in overtime.  What?!


Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos 8:30 PM ET ESPN


The Texans have shown that they aren’t ready to beat the really good teams on the road yet this season (see New England and Minnesota as prime examples).  It’s not going to change in Brock Osweiler’s return to Denver.  Trevor Siemian gets the better of Osweiler and the Texans.


Prediction: Broncos 20 Texans 9


Coming up Tuesday: MNF reaction plus other top stories in the sports world.