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yle Lowry’s invaluable play, dissects the to
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This week, the Three Man Weave assesses Kyle Lowry’s invaluable play, dissects the top team in the league and looks at Andrew Wiggins, the NBA’s Rookie of the Month for November. Hosts of TSN 1050s 1-On-1 With Will & Duane, Will Strickland and Duane Watson are joined by Hoops Lounge co-host Sporting Phil Boileau from Montreal. In DeMar DeRozans absence, Kyle Lowry has put up big numbers. If DeRozan is out for an extended period and the Raptors continue to sustain, should he start to get MVP consideration? Strickland: In last weeks edition of #3MW, I pointed out that Kyle was already a top five MVP candidate. That stance is further affirmed by his play since DeMars injury, leading the Raps to a 2-1 record on their recent West Coast road swing and dropping a career high 39 points vs. Utah. Theres no indication that while DeRozan is shelved, Kyle Lowry and his team will lose sight of the three Fs: Focus, Fight and Finish. Will the rest of the league take notice? They should because The Bulldog is coming! Boileau: Should DeMar’s absence be of considerable time, and their winning percentage stay where it is, or even close, then this has to be had as a conversation. He will have to shoulder much more of the scoring and leadership role. His numbers may have to improve though, and shouldering such a load could make that happen. I say this because past winners not only vault their respective teams to impressive win totals, but themselves becomes league leaders (or close to) in various categories. Think of the last few MVP winners, then look at Lowry’s present numbers: 20 and 6 is not an MVP, no matter how many wins they get, just ask Tony Parker. Watson: Without question, he’s the proven leader of this ballclub and a deserved All-Star. If the team is successful, he should get recognition and consideration. The bigger question is: Will he? While the Raptors have made inroads, they still have ways to go to earn that respect. The Golden State Warriors have won 12 games in a row, are 17-2, tops in the league. What do they have to do this season to prove they are a contender? Strickland: What any good contending team should look to do is: try to stay relatively healthy, find consistency and stability on both ends of the court, in the locker room and off court as well. Winning is a habit that requires constant nurturing. The Warriors are top five in assists and offensive efficiency as well as tops in point differential and, surprisingly enough, defensive efficiency. The Splash Brothers continue to strike fear in hearts and opposing coaches game plans, Steve Kerr is looking like the leading early candidate for Coach of The Year and everyones happy in The Bay right now. The pop quizzes, at least in the regular season, will come against every team in the state of Texas and when their in-state rival, the Los Angeles Clippers, come knocking. The real tests begin in April. Lets see where they are then and if can they make the conference finals a realistic goal. Boileau: This has to be seen as a feel-good story, with roster players staying on, where they might have been shipped off for contractual reasons, and the impressive emergence of Coach of the Year candidate Steve Kerr. The factors that will have to keep going are: Health: This is a team seemingly made of glass, can they keep this current roster who is setting plus/minus records on the court for 82 games? Consistency: With your primary scorers being jump shooters, as weve seen in the past with “Big Dog” Glenn Robinson’s Milwaukee Bucks that also featured Ray Allen and Sam Cassel, we have to see if they can consistently win even if their shots arent falling, which seemed to be their downfall last year. Defence: We are seeing a great improvement this year, but it’s a mindset, not a fad. This has to be their focus even though their pace would dictate an onus on the scoring over protection. Andrew Bogut being healthy is the huge X factor here. Watson: Perhaps going 80-2 would silence the doubters. With the return of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, will the OKC Thunder make the playoffs now after an abysmal start? Strickland: As great as the current, reigning MVP Kevin Wayne Durant and Russell Westbrook are, asking them to go 45-19 to reach the 50 win threshold many believe will mark entry into the playoffs in the West is a tall task. Though not impossible, it is one that could leave Durant and Westbrook fully spent by mid-April. Failure to make the playoffs a season before The Slim Reaper becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2016 could have franchise shifting implications from the top down in Oklahoma City. Stay tuned! Boileau: OKC needs to win two-thirds of their remaining games it’s that simple. Even then if enough of the right teams get hot, this could still not be enough. People speak to the emergence of teams that did NOT make the playoffs last year such as the Suns, Pelicans, and Kings, but let’s not forget, all of the other Western teams need to face these boys also. I wouldnt bet the farm on them making it, but should it be the case, and the San Antonio Spurs come out with another top seeding in the West, we could be looking at another classic No. 8-over-No. 1 upset, especially with how OKC has had their number in past years. Watson: That’s a tall, tall order. They have to play lights-out basketball in a better and deeper western conference and that’s barring injury to any of their other key players. If the Thunder were in the east, it’s a possibility, but in the west? True or false: The 2014-2015 NBA Champions will come out of the Southwest Division? Strickland: Plausible. A betting person could look at reigning champs San Antonio and feel relatively safe with their wager as they are a squad that knows what it takes to win when it counts most. But the division is a murderous one that houses a vastly improved Houston Rockets, who are playing very well even without Dwight Howard, a steady, cohesive unit in Memphis lead by Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and a wily veteran squad in Dallas that stretched the Spurs to seven games in the first round of the playoffs last year and look more dangerous this season with the return of Tyson Chandler, the electric, dynamic player that is Monta Ellis and the ever-present ninth-leading scorer in NBA history, Dirk Nowitzki. It could be that these teams end up cancelling one another out, opening the door for another potential champ. But... dont bet on it. Boileau: I would say true, and less because of how I truly believe in what they can send out, but more of how I think the rest won’t be ready to meet them. Memphis and San Antonio are two veteran teams who have great chemistry and are on top of their respective games. I can’t see anyone from the East making any notable noise THIS year, and the rest of the west would require either OKC to make a monumental leap in the win/loss department or The Clippers/Warriors to show that they can consistently win playoff games, which I’m not sold they can. Watson: Too early to tell. That’s where the current champions reside, but there’s a lot more basketball to be played, but chances are high that they will come out of the western conference. With Andrew Wiggins winning Western Conference Rookie of the Month what are your thoughts on his performance thus far? Strickland: This may be the most bittersweet offer of congratulations ever, so kudos to Andrew Christian Wiggins for taking this honor. But, its been won by default in essence, as none of the rookie class has truly distinguished themselves early in the season and he has no real challengers in the West...yet (Sorry, Kostas Papanikolaou). Wiggins has not taken full advantage of the opportunity to spread his wings more and take charge for the injury-riddled Timberwolves. His elite athleticism has allowed him to excel as a rookie on defense. When his technique, balance and understanding of nuances / tendencies meet his athletic prowess, fuggedaboutit! But his shooting has actually suffered, falling below 40 per cent for the season. Wiggins can only get better from here and hell have ample opportunity to do so in Minny. Boileau: His shooting stroke while streaky has been a thing of beauty, drawing rave reviews from announcers/writers around the Association. His willingness to attack larger players on the block and drive the lane is also a great sign, and more shots will fall as he learns the nuances of drawing fouls and player tendencies. His greatest stumbling blocks to me so far have been his ball handling (which I think is improving at a nice rate), but most importantly, his decision-making. You can tell that coach is telling him to shoot and be aggressive, and with their injury brigade, it makes sense, but you often see him forcing shots/situations. His ability to pass out of double teams and/or keep the dribble alive when trapped to me are his next steps towards stardom. Watson: He has done well so far and as expected he’s been afforded the minutes as the T-Wolves rebuild. His defence keeps him on the floor, but he has to shoot the ball better, or more importantly smarter. I’ve tempered my expectations of him since Kansas, but nice to see him beat out some rookies that were more “NBA ready.” Follow them on twitter: Will Strickland @WallStrizzle1, Duane Watson @duanewatson and Phil Boileau @SportingPhil Eliaquim Mangala Jersey . Phoenix originally signed Barbosa to a 10-day contract on Jan. 8 after Eric Bledsoe injured his knee and then signed him to another 10-day deal. Luke Bolton Jersey .J. - Pete Carroll is in support of the NFL looking further into whether medicinal marijuana could beneficial for players. http://www.authenticmanchestercityshop.com/Authentic-Leroy-Sane-Manchester-City-Jersey/ .com) - The collective hearts of Chicago Bulls fans sank on Friday night when Derrick Rose went down with a leg injury against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Blank Manchester City Jersey . Down 2-1 after Rick Nash scored on a penalty shot, the Oilers ran off four unanswered goals in the remainder of the second period on the way to a 6-3 victory on Sunday. Brahim Diaz Jersey . It was just business as usual for the Thunder at home. Durant scored 32 points and the Thunder beat the Bulls 107-95 on Thursday night for their eighth straight win.VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks are in an unfamiliar position. Perennially a pre-season pick to go deep in the playoffs, this incarnation enters training camp with significantly lower-than-usual expectations from fans and media -- and with good reason. The Canucks fell flat last season, squandering a decent start with a swoon that saw them fail to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. And while many arent giving them much of a chance this time around, the players were upbeat Thursday as they reported for medicals and fitness testing at Rogers Arena. "I think expectations within the group are high," said forward Daniel Sedin. "We want to win and we dont look at this as a rebuild or anything. I think we have deep team and we have a team that can make the playoffs, and anything can happen there. "Maybe from the outside theyre lower, but within the team I think we have high expectations." The Canucks finished 12th in the Western Conference last season, eight points back of the final playoff spot. General manager Mike Gillis and first-year head coach John Tortorella were both fired as a result, with new team president Trevor Linden replacing the pair with Jim Benning up top and Willie Desjardins behind the bench. Its that clean slate that has the Canucks excited for 2014-15, even if many others dont share that optimism. "We try not to get too distracted or influenced by external factors and what the media may think, whether its good or bad, or what the fans might think, whether its good or bad," said defenceman Dan Hamhuis. "I think were pretty confident and comfortable with the direction that were going." The heart of the roster that was a game away from winning the 2011 Stanley Cup remains pretty much unchanged heading into training camp in Whistler, B.C., with the exception of Ryan Kesler, who was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for fellow centre Nick Bonino, defenceman Luca Sbisa and two draft picks. "I really believe in our core," said Hamhuis. "I believe were all still in our prime. I think were hungrier than ever. I think being that close and not winning and having a couple tough years since then has got us all very motivated." Add to that the addition of goaltender Ryan Miller to hopefully silence the circus in the crease that dogged Vancouver the last few seasons, and wingers Radim Vrbata, Derek Dorsett and Linden Vey, and the Canucks feel they have a more complete roster top to bottom. "I personally think that if you look at our lineup this year, were a deeper team," said captain Henrik Sedin. "I think in this league, to win consistently, you need three or four lines scoring each and every night. You cant rely on (only) some guys to do it. Thats when we were at our best a few years ago, when we had a lot of players chipping in each night." Much was made last season of the Canucks inability to messh with Tortorellas defence-first, puck-pressure system, which at times looked like a square peg being jammed in a round hole.dddddddddddd Coming off a Calder Cup victory with the AHLs Texas Stars, Desjardins said he wants his team to play on the front foot in an ultra-competitive Pacific Division that includes the big three teams from California. "We want to try to dictate the game. When we play we want it to be about us and how we play," said the rookie head coach. "Thats our focus: to make sure that were ready and that we can play the way we want to play. That will be with tempo and attacking, and with discipline as well. We want to be a real disciplined team. We want to stay out of the penalty box and play hard." A number of Canucks had off years last season, and defenceman Kevin Bieksa said the resulting tumble down the standings left a bitter taste in the everyones mouth. "Its another new season with a new coaching staff," Bieksa said. "Its not something were proud of but here we are. Its a fresh start -- a chance to redeem ourselves so to speak. We look at ourselves in the mirror first, so were looking at having a good year and righting the ship." Benning, who like Desjardins is a rookie in his position at the NHL level but has paid his dues in the hockey world, said he expects the Canucks to surprise some people. "Our division is very tough, the conference is tough, but some of the moves we made this summer were to support our core guys, our core players," he said. "I feel good about those moves. I think were going to come out and compete hard. Our goal is to make the playoffs." Before being shown the door, the combative Tortorella said he thought Vancouvers roster was stale from its run to the Cup final, but thats not something that seems to concern either Benning or Desjardins. "The one thing is it makes them more motivated. They know what they can do. Theyve done it," said Desjardins. "The one thing you always worry is if a player has never reached a certain level, why do you think they can reach that level this year? Thats a bit of a long shot. "These guys have reached that level and theyre hungry to get back." Hamhuis added that hes confident the Canucks still have plenty to give. "I dont think anyones out of their prime, as some people have tried to suggest," he said. "I dont think anyone was too pleased with where we finished as a team last year, and also individually." In the end, however, this roster is starting to show a bit of its age -- as seen by some of the injuries last season -- and the players know the clock is ticking on their time together to get back on top. "Thats why were here. Were here to win," said Henrik Sedin. "I think as a hockey player you get remembered by how much youve been winning, and we havent won the Stanley Cup yet. Thats our main goal and our only goal." ' ' '
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