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MVP Debate: Is Blake Griffin More Worthy than LeBron James?

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Tweet of the Day: Kobe Bryant Among Many NBA Players Reflecting On Season’s End

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Wednesday is the final night in the NBA regular season.

It brings with it a lot of fun and excitement, as all 30 teams are in action. It also features quite of a few games of great import, seeing as there are more than a few teams jockeying for position in the playoffs.

More than anything, for a lot of NBA athletes, it brings a moment of reflection:  An entire year of hard work is coming to a close. For some, the reflection is less inviting:  An entire season has seemingly gone to waste.

Don’t believe me on the latter? Check out Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant’s response to this season.

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Sheridan’s Postseason Awards Ballot: Durant is MVP, Thibodeau is Coach of the Year

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voterIn a break with tradition, I am casting my NBA awards ballot after the 81st game, not the 82nd. It’s a rarity, but this season I will not hem and haw and sleep on it until the afternoon after the final day of the season. You’re welcome.

I have been an official NBA postseason awards voter for nearly a decade, and it would have been longer if not for a rule at the Associated Press, where I worked from 1987-2005, forbidding beat from voting for postseason awards (It is OK for them to declare the national champion in college football, but it is not OK for them to vote in other sports. Does that make sense?).

It is a privilege that I do not take lightly.

5 Fast Facts from Last Night’s Games — Clippers Set Franchise Record, Knicks Win Battle of the Boroughs

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ChrisPaulSH1Breathe. Just breathe.

Tuesday, April 15 marked the second-to-last day of the 2013-14 NBA regular season. While the 16 seeds in the playoffs have already been locked up, teams are still jostling for position, and two of the squads involved in the uncertainty were in action.

Here’s everything that you need to know about last night’s action.

Tweet of the Night: J.R. Smith impressed by Iman Shumpert’s crossover on Paul Pierce

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The Brooklyn Nets are headed to the playoffs while the New York Knicks have been eliminated, but that didn’t stop the Knicks from dispatching their crosstown rivals once again, taking the season series 3-1 on Tuesday with a 109-98 victory despite playing without Carmelo Anthony and mostly without Tyson Chandler. In the three wins, New York has outscored Brooklyn by an average of 23.3 points.

Iman Shumpert had some particularly fine moments in the contest, including this off-the-backboard alleyoop and a deadly crossover that put Paul Pierce to the ground:

J.R. Smith was thrilled about the move during the game, and expressed his feelings once again after the contest:

Curry, Hollinger, Bledsoe and more around the league react to accomplishments and failures as season winds down

Magic Johnson, Kevin Love, Others Remember Jackie Robinson

James Park is the chief blogger of Sheridan Hoops. You can find him on twitter @SheridanBlog

SH Blog: Has Carmelo played last game as a Knick? Jabari to decide on NBA Wednesday; Calipari content at Kentucky

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Carmelo AnthonyTaking all the information at hand into account, it may very well be possible that Carmelo Anthony has played his last game as a New York Knick.

That’s something that most Knicks fans probably don’t want to hear right now, but without any solid indication otherwise, it is a realistic possibility. 

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Magic Johnson, Kevin Love, Others Remember Jackie Robinson

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Jackie Robinson, most recently immortalized in last year’s baseball film, 42, is a sports icon—in large part due to the significant contribution he made to all sports in being the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball during racial segregation (prior to the Civil Rights Movement).

Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball when he started for the Brooklyn Dodgers 67 years ago on this very day, April 15, 1947.

10 years ago, in 2004, Major League Baseball decided to commemorate Robinson’s legacy by beginning a tradition, known as Jackie Robinson Day, in which all uniformed players and managers wear the number 42 to honor his legacy.

Despite Success, Price of 2014 Clippers Playoff Tickets Below 2013 Lakers

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When it comes to professional basketball in Los Angeles, the Lakers have dominated the conversation. The Clippers have always been the little brother compared to the Lakers, but this season the Clippers are in the playoffs without the Lakers joining them for the first time since both teams have played in LA. The last time the Clippers franchise was in the playoffs in a season in which the Lakers weren’t was the 1975-76 season when the Clippers were still the Buffalo Braves. Even though the Clippers have surpassed the Lakers in the standings, they can’t make the jump in ticket prices.

LA Clippers playoff tickets at Staples Center are averaging $229.75 on the secondary market, according to TiqIQ. Even as one of the higher averages in the playoffs this year, that price is still 39 percent lower than the average price of Lakers tickets last year when they struggled to the seventh seed. The Lakers were swept by the Spurs in that series and were without Kobe Bryant.

The price for Clippers playoff tickets has increased from last season, though. last year they had an average price of $185.51, but were directly competing with Lakers sales. Last year the Lakers averaged $378.57 a ticket, which would be second only to the Toronto Raptors this year. The Raptors are a three seed, back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season, are in a big market and have the highest playoff premium above the regular season average than any other team in the playoffs.

History is likely in play for why the Lakers continue to cast a shadow over the Clippers. The Lakers have won 16 championships, which is second only to the Boston Celtics all-time, have been a perennial playoff team every season, and always seem to be led by one of the biggest names in the sport. Even last season, when they barely made the playoffs, the Lakers had name value in Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.

On the other hand, the Clippers have had a tortured history on par with some of the worst franchises in sports. They have only recently been able to turn things around with the drafting of Blake Griffin and the trade for star point guard Chris Paul. But that hasn’t been enough to reverse the fortunes of the two franchises.

The Clippers have a legitimate chance of winning a title this year as the third seed in the West, and sport the second-best point differential in the league. They will face an exciting Golden State Warriors in the first round, a team that almost found a way to beat the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Semifinals last postseason. The Clippers finally have the spotlight to themselves and could use a successful playoff run as the next step to escaping the Lakers’ shadow.

Schayes: Union’s Search For a New Executive Director, Part II

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dooverThe NBPA announced this week that the current search for the new Executive Director has been canceled, and they will have a “do over.”

After more than a year of secrecy and controversy, the selection committee led by Board President Chris Paul finally realized that the search in its current form had no realistic chance of having a happy ending. The players were in the dark, the agents were near revolt, and the process would taint either of the two finalists so severely that it would make running the organization effectively impossible.

I have been a pretty harsh opponent of the search process.

Most Improved Player Rankings: And the winner is….

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This is a tough column to write.John-Boehner-SC-1024x641

It’s the last edition of the Most Improved Player Rankings, and like John Boehner at an eighth grade science fair, I’m about to lose it.

I uhh…I just want to tell you all how much you mean to me. (Voice cracks)

It’s been another incredible year in this column space.

We’ve talked about Ike Manfresca, the OscarsSeinfeld, the genetic connection between twins, existentialismJohn LennonMars Blackmon, and un-seeing the Eastern Conference standings.

We even compared every candidate to a character in ”The Office.” That was one of my favorites.

Now, sadly, the hourglass that is the NBA season is down to its last few kernels of sand. (Kernels, that’s a thing, right?) It’s time to choose a winner.

There were a few players who probably didn’t get enough respect in these rankings during the course of the season. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors, Robin Lopez of the Blazers, and James Johnson of the Grizzlies all showed up in the “Next Five” category once or twice, but they never actually crashed the table.

There were a ton of players who made quantum leaps this season. But in this man’s expert opinion, a few stood above the rest.

DeAndre JordanClippers center DeAndre Jordan went from unremarkable to a modern-day Wilt Chamberlain (you know, without the 50 ppg), dominating the league’s rebounding and field-goal percentage categories. He went from averaging just 7 rips to pulling down 13.7 per, and dunked shot an unheard-of 67.5 percent from the field. He deserved a spot in the table all season long.

Pistons big Andre Drummond made a similar leap, nearly doubling both his scoring and rebounding outputs. ‘Dre went from 7.9 points per game to 13.4, and 7.6 rebounds per to 13.2, which put him second in the league behind Jordan. His mug was a fixture in these rankings.

Guard Isaiah Thomas of the Kings went from Greivis Vasquez’s backup to borderline All-Star and arguably the best player on the team, averaging 20.6 points and 6.3 assists. Not bad for the 60th overall pick in the 2011 draft.

Anthony Davis made “The Leap” from project with a great future to superstar with an unlimited one. Like Stephen Curry last season, Davis became one of the league’s best players, but he won’t win the award because everyone expected him to be great.

Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, Markieff Morris and virtually every member of the Phoenix Suns organization made incredible strides this season, and what was considered a ragtag bunch of misfits nearly crashed the playoff party.

In the end though, the race for this award came down to two men.

Indiana’s Lance Stephenson and Phoenix’s Goran Dragic.

Stephenson was terrific for the Pacers all season long and punctuated his arrival with a Sir Lance-A-Lot video that history will never forget.

Dragic spent some time in Sheridan’s MVP Rankings, carrying the Suns with one footprint in the sand when former rankings leader Eric Bledsoe went down.

So, which of these very deserving borderline All-Stars will take home the hardware?

You’ll have to click “Next Page” to find out.(It helps us with page views).

And isn’t that the kind of capitalistic attitude that makes America great? Oh boy. Here come the—waterworks—

(Sobbing)

On to the rankings.

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DraftStreet Fantasy Spin: Tuesday, April 15, 2014

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draftstreet With only two game days left before the NBA playoffs begin, literally anything can happen. Over the next two days, six playoff matchups will be determined.

This is a crazy time to play fantasy basketball at DraftStreet. It’s unpredictable and a lot of fun because players will leave it all on the line to leave an impression over the summer.

Tonight there are only two NBA games on the schedule.

New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets 

JR Smith will probably take 30 shots, so I picked him. He didn’t care when his team was fighting for a playoff spot so I’m sure he’ll have no regard for anyone now.

Denver Nuggets at LA Clippers
This should be a fast paced game with a lot of up and down action. Kenneth Farried and Blake Griffin thrive in these type’s of games.

My DraftStreet team

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 11.57.20 AM

 

 

 

Amar’e Stoudemire: He has shown spurts of the Amar’e from 2011. He doesn’t have much to play for but with a lot of eyes on this game he’ll want to prove a lot of people wrong.

Paul Pierce: He’s a playoff guy. With the post season around the corner Pierce will heat up, plus he recently joined the 25,000 point club.

Kenneth Faried: He’ll be jumping around all game, who can blame him. Denver has a high volume offense which allows Farried to exceed in.

Darren Collison: I needed a guard that will play, he was cheap ($9,635). There’s no method to this pick.

Jamal Crawford: Always thought this guy could be a top-5 scorer if given the chance. Coming off the bench in LA he’s deserving of the Sixth Man of the Year Award.

J.R. Smith: Like I said, he will shoot like there’s no tomorrow. So pick him and let him heave.

Mason Plumlee: The kid’s got game. Filling in for Brook Lopez this season he’s done a good job of managing himself surrounded by so many vets.

Blake Griffin: He’s actually in the MVP running (won’t win it, but still). Having a monster year he’s proven any night he can score 30 and pull down 15 boards.

Click here to play fantasy basketball with me.

Brett Poirier is a contributor to Sheridan Hoops.

Curry, Hollinger, Bledsoe and more around the league react to accomplishments and failures as season winds down

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Marc GasolAfter a season-long battle to see who would end up with the eighth and final seed of the Western Conference, the Memphis Grizzlies proved to be the winner of the coveted position – relatively speaking – on Monday after beating the Phoenix Suns 97-91.

Unlike teams in the East, where some barely over .500 or even under it made it into the playoffs, the Suns will go home early despite an impressive 47-34 record – good enough to be the fifth best team in the East. They overcame many odds to get to this point, but none bigger than a whopping 40 games missed from Eric Bledsoe. In all likelihood, another team would be on the outside looking in had the speedy guard not been out for so long. The same can arguably be said of the Grizzlies, who had to play without their defensive anchor Marc Gasol for 23 games.

At least Memphis is healthy going into the playoffs, which is a luxury that the Golden State Warriors, who clinched the sixth seed after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, suddenly don’t have after learning of Andrew Bogut’s devastating rib injury.

SH Blog: Bogut has fractured rib and is out indefinitely, Irving very disappointed with how season is ending for Cavs

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BogutWith only one game left to go on the season, the Golden State Warriors beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 130-120 on Monday to win 50 games for the first time since the 1993-94 season, when they finished with a 50-32 record. With the victory, the Warriors assured themselves of a first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs.

It’s an amazing accomplishment for a franchise that has struggled for so long, and it shows a clear sign of progress since new ownership took over the team a few seasons ago. Unfortunately, the feeling of satisfaction and hope heading into the postseason came with a big asterisk: they had learned just earlier in the day that center Andrew Bogut – the team’s most important player on defense – may be out for the remainder of the season with a fractured rib, from Tim Kawakami of Mercury News

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