Indiana Pacers’ Lance Stephenson must be “Born Ready”


Lance Stephenson went by the nickname “Born Ready” as one of the nation’s top high-school basketball players and one of the most decorated New York prep products.

Often times, during his one year at Cincinnati and his first two seasons with the Indiana Pacers, Stephenson made folks wonder if the “Born Ready” tag was purely hype and little substance amid instances of immaturity and lack of production.

However, with Danny Granger sidelined for virtually the entire 2012-13 season with a knee injury, the 6-6 Stephenson capitalized on the opportunity at starter’s minutes, and he put a huge exclamation on his remarkable improvement last Saturday with a 25-point, 10-rebound effort (including a clutch nine-point fourth quarter) to lead the Pacers to a series-clinching Game 6 victory over the New York Knicks and a date with the Miami Heat in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals, which begin with today’s Game 1 at 8:30 p.m. in Miami.

That Game 6 performance suggested Stephenson indeed may have been “Born Ready.” The Pacers hope that’s the case regardless, but it very well might be key to their chances at defeating Miami and earning a trip to their first NBA Finals since 2000.

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NBA Finals: Game 2 statistical prediction for LeBron James

LeBron James

I made a prediction about a week ago predicting LeBron James’ numbers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. I was almost spot-on. He finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, one block, and two steals. He shot 11-25 from the, 2-6 from three-point range, and 6-8 from the line. If you want to see what I predicted, just click here. Well, I am at it again. I predicted LeBron’s numbers for tonight’s Game 2 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Also, I included the data I used to help me predict what his numbers will be. Hope you enjoy it. (It might be a little hard to follow but I can’t it is hard to show and explain every step).

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Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat: everything you need to know

LeBron James and Paul Pierce

Well, here is the Miami Heat for the second year in a row: the Eastern Conference Finals. All of us know how last year ended for the Heat: a 4-2 NBA Finals loss to Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. Last year, the Heat beat the Boston Celtics in the second round of the NBA playoffs, 4-1. But it’s a new year and, probably, the last time the Boston’s “Big Three + Rondo” will ever be together. So what are we to expect from these two teams with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line? Let’s take a look.

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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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It’s win or go home for Indiana Pacers

Most people want to say the Eastern Conference Semifinal series between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat essentially ended Tuesday in Miami when the Heat clobbered the Pacers 115-83 to take a 3-2 lead.

Some, including columnist Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, say the Pacers won’t go so quietly because they have every bit the mental toughness as a team that Miami has.

One thing’s for sure: With Indiana finally facing a real must-win situation at 8 p.m. today at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, we’re about to find out which side is correct.

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NBA Playoff Predictions: Who wins it all?

Kevin Durant and LeBron James

The regular season is over and it’s time to make that money. Can LeBron James finally capture his first NBA championship? Do the Lakers have enough to compete in the West? What about the Griz? Spurs? How about the Bulls in East? Is D-Rose healthy? Check it out! In 1,000 words or less, I give my playoff predictions and pick the NBA champion. Let’s go!

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NBA Playoffs: Five BIG Questions in the Eastern Conference

Miami's Big Three

With the NBA playoffs just a few days away, let’s discuss five big questions in the Eastern Conference.

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Heat 83, Bulls 80: Miami Eliminates Chicago, Heartbreak Becomes Heart Ripping

It’s a good thing I accepted defeat on Tuesday night, and made my peace with it. It really was the very definition of an inoculation for what was to come. Accepting it makes a loss like this, a collapse of 2003 Chicago Cubs proportions, really not hurt as much as it could. If this was a game 7??? Whoah, then it really would be like the scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom pictured above.

Or this. That’s exactly what the Miami Heat did to the Chicago Bulls tonight.

-33 to 21 foul shooting discrepancy? Really? And what about the overall series? I hate to sound like a total meathead fan, Chicago douchebag, but c’mon the “star calls” were just off-the-charts and over-the-top in favor of Miami

“Everything is a learning experience… This will only make us more hungry.” – Derrick Rose

By Paul M. Banks

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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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Heat 101, Bulls 93 in OT: Miami up 3-1, at least we have Closure

You may be asking yourself “why the hell does a picture of John Cusack (or more specifically Lloyd Dobler in “Say Anything”) lead off an article recapping game 4 of the Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat Eastern Conference Finals?” And it’s not because Cusack is from Chicago. Well partially.

It really is because game four was all about heartbreak, and doing absolutely everything you possibly can, trying your damnest, yet still realizing- it’s over. In other words, the essence of Dobler, or the type of characters Cusack is best known for. Yes, I know he always gets the girl in the end, and yet the Bulls actually won’t find the feeling of true love that a NBA Finals trip would bring. However, what was so painful about that game, is what’s also the most painful part of break-ups- the not knowing; the lack of closure.

Now we do.

We knew heading into tonight that this Bulls team could NEVER beat the Heat three in a row. That’s the task in front of them now. Meaning it’s over. Maybe not in the next game, maybe not even until game 7, but it’s done. Officially. You have closure, you can move on to the NBA Draft, or White Sox or Cubs season now.

Paul M. Banks explains why:

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Miami Heat 96, Chicago Bulls 85: Start Contemplating Doomsday Scenarios?


Remember Chicago Bulls fans, the Bulls haven’t lost three in a row all year. So this is not the apocalypse. That was Saturday; and you survived it. Things do look bad- really bad right now, but Thibs will make adjustments. Again this is not the apocalypse, it’s not even the 2pacalypse. But the tide has officially turned to Miami Heat favor

-Expect every game to be “grindy” and “ugly” from here on out, and that is very very lame because once a team has at a 8 point lead down the stretch- it’s over. An 8 pt lead in games like these is like a 16 point lead in a normal game. If the Bulls fall down 3-1 in game four, then yes the Bulls End of Days in 2011 will be here.

-When you hold Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to a combined 12-30 shooting, and LOSE? That’s alarming. It’s first of the seven seals of judgment day breaking alarming

NotaBULL quotaBULL Part 1:

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Are Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Company Enough Up Front for Miami?


“Usually when you’re in touch with reality, it’s better for you.”

Those are the words of Miami Heat power forward Chris Bosh, the lanky 6-11 All-Star who was the Heat’s only consistent weapon Sunday night.

“I think intensity always carries over.  Your mindset, you always want to get mentally prepared in practice.  That’s what it’s for, to really see yourself doing your job out there, because you have to see it before you do it,” Bosh continued.

Bosh is a great player, but if he is far and away the Heat’s best performer during the Eastern Conference Finals, then the Chicago Bulls will close them out in four or five games. He needs help from the backcourt, but that’s another story entirely. First he needs help on the glass. Chicago dominated Miami up front so badly, there was little left to say.

By Paul M. Banks

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