Dwyane Wade, LeBron James too much for Indiana Pacers


In the end — after so many twists and turns that changed a lot of opinions — the result of this Eastern Conference Semifinal series was what many expected.

The Miami Heat closed out the Indiana Pacers 105-93 Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to win the series in six games and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year.

The Pacers opened eyes during this series, both on the national stage and within their own community. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade ultimately proved too much.

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Miami Heat 88, Dallas Mavericks 86, Game 3: Bad Play, Worse Officiating

Heat’s Dwyane Wade: Most Important Player in “REAL” NBA Finals

Dwyane Wade Heat

Not to offend fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks, but the Eastern Conference Finals is the REAL NBA Finals this year. The winner of the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat series will likely win the title. Exactly like in 2007, when you knew the winner of the Western Conference Semifinals between the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns would go on to win the whole thing (And they did).

The Bulls and Heat are two teams that cleared the deck and threw open the doors last summer for biggest free agency period in league history. They are the two teams in the Eastern Conference that improved themselves the most. At Bulls media day, I grew tired and weary of journalists asking the players and coaches about Miami and specifically “can this team really compete with Miami?” So it’s only fitting that these two squads meet in the end.

The journey from the de fact Heat media day last September in Deerfield, IL to now is complete. And the most important player in this series is one of the hometown stars, Dwyane Wade.

By Paul M. Banks

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Is Tyreke Evans the next Big Thing?

tyreke-evans-nba-draft

By Paul M. Banks and David Kay

I wouldn’t call it “love at first sight”, but when I was in Milwaukee for the 2008 McDonald’s All-American High School Basketball game, I was enamored by what I saw.  At the time, Tyreke Evans was undecided as to where he would play his college basketball, but I knew that his impact at whatever University was fortunate enough to land him would be felt immediately.

That certainly was the case as Evans eventually became the catalyst for John Calipari’s dribble-drive motion offense at Memphis.  A few weeks into the season, Coach Cal made the decision to put the ball in Evans’ hands and let him run the team as their point guard instead of playing him at the two; a move that catapulted the Tigers back into the national title picture after they had fallen out of the Top 25. “I felt comfortable getting my teammates the ball making other people better. I think I’m a better player with the ball in my hands, but I’ve also been playing the two all my life. So either one, it won’t really matter to me,” Evans said at the NBA Draft Combine.

It was no surprise that Evans was a “one and done” at Memphis.  If the NBA didn’t have their current rule, Evans likely would have made the jump from high school straight into the NBA.  And you wouldn’t have blamed him for doing so.  His physique is NBA-ready as demonstrated by his measurements at the NBA combine; 6’5” in shoes, 220 pounds with a 6’11” wingspan, the longest of any guard prospect in the draft.  Evans’ ability to attack the basket seems almost effortless, to the point where I have no problem comparing his game to that of a young Dwyane Wade.  (That’s quite the comparison coming from a Marquette grad.)  Similar to Wade, Evans has a fearless mentality when taking the ball to the basket and tremendous instincts when it comes to scoring.

“I studied Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady. They were two of my favorite players growing up. But I watch LeBron, D. Wade now everybody and try to take a little piece of their moves,” Evans said before later adding that T Mac is the probably the most accurate player to compare him to.

Evans also has the same knocks against him that Wade did when coming out of college; most notably the inconsistency with his jumper and questionable shot selection.  Like most young college players, both of those areas should improve over time as Evans matures.  The former Tiger is also sometimes careless with the basketball, often trying to do much by himself which resulted in a less than desirable 1.1/1 assist-to-turnover ratio.tyreke-evans

Evans is still learning the importance of being a nuisance on the defensive end.  He has a great read on the ball and uses his length to get in passing lanes and create fastbreak opportunities off steals.  His strength and size also allows him to be physical against equally strong opponents.  If the work is put in at the next level, Evans could develop into a Wade-type defender, able to be a factor on the perimeter or in the paint.

Since the lottery was determined, I have thought Evans would be a perfect fit in Minnesota.  The T-Wolves already have a combo guard in Randy Foye, but Evans could step onto that team and take over some of the ball-handling duties, opening up Foye for more perimeter shots.  Evans could potentially go as high as #4 to Sacramento and won’t slip past Toronto who owns the ninth pick.

While the comparisons to Dwyane Wade are admittedly quite hefty, I have no doubt that ten years from now when we look back at the NBA Draft class of 2009, Evans will be one of the top 3 players to come out of this class.

The Economics of Basketball

By Brandon Robinson
With the current recession, it is going to be difficult for a lot of Americans—even for those working with NBA basketball. At least as far as making money they were accustomed to making a few years ago.

Additionally, the biggest effect will be on team revenue. “If you think about it, it’s one big cycle. The recession affects the fans, who will spend less money on tickets and merchandise. So the league will force the players to accept less as the pie shrinks,” says ESPN.com Senior Writer, JA Adande.

 Revenue from ticket sales and sponsorship will be down next season. Player payroll is based on a percentage of team revenue. This means the salary cap will go down, which means players that are not already under contract will have a difficult time getting the kind of deals they’ve gotten in the past.

Team owners are finding ways to cut costs in a shrinking economy.

“It already had an effect this season. Teams are anticipating lower revenue and were reluctant to take on expensive contracts at the trade deadline,” says Chris Carrino, Executive Director of Broadcasting for the New Jersey Nets.

Footlocker.com

Currently, the hoopla surrounding the summer of 2010 has been hyped as the year in which marketable a-list of superstars will become unrestricted free agents. This means that NBA squads can sign them to max long term deals without that price being matched by their current team or other teams. During that summer, it is believed that Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, will bolt and sign with either the New York Knicks or across the Hudson with the New Jersey Nets. That summer has been dubbed by some as the “Summer of LeBron.” It will be very interesting to see what teams decide to do as the economy crumbles. Will people spend money?

Among that elite list of free agents: Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, Toronto Raptors’ Chris Bosh, Phoenix Suns’ Amare Stoudemire, Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, New Orleans Hornets’ Tyson Chandler, San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili, Milwaukee Bucks’ Richard Jefferson, Atlanta Hawks’ Joe Johnson, Houston Rockets’ Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, Phoenix Suns’ Steve Nash, Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Michael Redd.

“This will come into play in the next collective bargaining agreement, which will certainly feature shorter contract lengths and average and maximum salaries. It will become more difficult for teams to afford multiple stars, or to fit them into a smaller salary cap. So if the teams are worse, the fans won’t want to come to the arena to watch them, and it starts all over again,” added JA Adande.

Footlocker.com

A lot has happened since the current NBA collective bargain agreement, was signed during the lockout shortened 1998-99 NBA season. Players have made a lot of money. The current collective bargaining agreement ends the summer of 2011 and owners want to make strict changes. According to the Indianapolis Star-News, the Indiana Pacers have lost money nine of the past 10 years. The Sacramento Bee reported that the Sacramento Kings are expected to lose up to $25 million this season. The Sports Business Journal reported that the Orlando Magic are expecting potential losses of between $15 million and $20 million. Charlotte Bobcats owner Robert Johnson has claimed losses of $50 million since he paid $300 million for the expansion franchise in 2003.

Clearly the owners and NBA commissioner David Stern want to lower the salary cap and with good reason. The NBA salary cap went down only once in 2002. It went from $42.5 million to $42.7 because they overestimated it. That was with no economic trouble.

“I think the game will be fine, but just like every industry it’s going to take some hits” says ESPN the Magazine’s senior writer, Chris Broussard.

“The superstars are still going to get paid: Kobe, LeBron, Wade, and Dwight Howard are still going to get their money,” added Broussard. So who will take the biggest hit? “It’s always going to hurt the midlevel players, the midlevel salary will definitely drop” says Broussard.

What do players think about this? “Of course the current economic climate will affect the lengths of contracts and the amount of money people will make. Teams are tightening their spending since they are not making money the way they were before,” says Utah Jazz guard Brevin Knight.

One thing is clear, despite the economic woes fans will still need an outlet to get their minds off this economic crisis. They need something to cheer for.

”The game still is very popular. You have great young stars and rivalries in the Celtics and the Lakers. LeBron and Kobe have somewhat of a rivalry in regards to who is the best player,” added Broussard.
Something tells me, everything will be fine.