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Hoop Group

Hoop Group is a blog following the NBA and everything that happens in it. This blog doesn't focus on one team, rather basketball as a whole.

The Miami Heat- Extended Break

Most people probably already know this, but if you haven't hear this yet, the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs has been everything anyone could have asked for. With 5 series going into the seventh game of the best of seven series, this years playoffs is already crazy. However, there was one series that was a sweep, and as expected, it was the Miami Heat. Now, people may think, well, they were playing the Bobcats; that's not all that spectacular. But the thing is, with all this rest, which is going to be nearing one whole week now, the Heat are going to be extremely strong in this next round.

Now their opponent will be decided in today's 1 o'clock eastern time game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Toronto Raptors. Everyone knows that the Heat would rather play the Raptors as the Heat are 0-4 against the Nets this season, the only team the Heat have not beaten this season. But either way, in my opinion, that Heat are going to have another sweep or at most a 4-1 victory. Obviously, the Nets and the Raptors have been playing extremely hard in a physical match up, and after this game is over today, whoever wins will only have two days of rest before they begin the series against the Heat. And for a squad like the Nets, they need all the rest that they can get because their veterans need it.

Furthermore, this rest that the Heat are getting is much needed. Dwyane Wade looked sharp as it was in the first round against the Bobcats, and now with this elongated rest, his knee should have no problem. 

Lastly, I have noticed that since the Heat have finished off the sweep against the Bobcats, they haven't been in the spotlight nor the news ever (besides random teammates commenting on the Donald Sterling case). Although people may not be thinking about this, with the press off their back, the Heat have little to no pressure right now as they try to complete their quest for a 3-peat. 

The Case on Donald Sterling

As most of NBA Fans have heard, Donald Sterling, the owner of the red-hot Los Angeles Clippers is in a heap of trouble. TMZ released a video this past week involving Donald Sterling and his girlfriend V. Stiviano arguing. They were arguing about her Instagram and how Sterling wants Stiviano to stop posting pictures of minorities on her Instagram as well as for her to stop bringing minorities to Clipper's games. This is probably one of the most disgusting, and horrible things ANYONE could ever say, let alone an owner of a Playoff basketball team. 

Obviously, various members of the organization have voiced their opinions, mostly by Earvin Magic Johnson. Magic Johnson made his voice heard through Twitter, tweeting "I will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner", along with "I feel sorry for my friends Coach Doc Rivers and Chris Paul that they have to work for a man that feels that way about African Americans."

Although Magic Johnson tweeted the most, Marc J. Spears, a Yahoo NBA Analyst, explains that JJ Redick was just as pissed as Chris Paul, according to Doc Rivers. To go along with that, DeAndre Jordan, another Clippers player, Instagrammed a picture of just the color black. Although Sterling will not be in attendance for today's game against the Warriors at 3:30 Easter Time, the news on Sterling definitely hit the team home. And in my opinion, this huge distraction will definitely interfere with the way that the Clippers play tonight.

Even current NBA players not associated with the LA Clippers showed their support. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant both illustrated their opinions toward the accusations of Sterling. Bryant tweeted simply, "I couldn't play for him", while LeBron said that there is "No room for Donald Sterling in our league." He also added that if Sterling was his owner, James would contemplate whether or not he would bench himself for the game.

Obviously, this is not an issue about just the NBA, but the growth of equality and our nation as a whole. After so many years of this league in existence and having STAR MINORITIES in Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan on your own team, how could a single person say this? It's appalling to hear that a man of such a status is saying this about a minority that has fought so hard to achieve equality.

Furthermore, according to the LA Times, this is not even the first time that Sterling has been caught saying something racist. In 2003, 19 Tenants accused Sterling of not renting to Latinos because "Hispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building". Also, he stated that "black tenants smell and attract vermin."

All in all, it's really awful to hear what has hit the news hard in these past two days. I hope for the nations sake that these recordings are indeed fake because it hurts to hear that someone would openly say that about minorities in America.

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All Star Weekend

Wow what an exciting weekend of the best players in the league showing their individual talents. But their were many changes in each of the events, so let's go through the top four: Three Point Contest, Dunk Contest, Skills Challenge and the All Star Game.

First, with the three point contest. The major change within this event was the fact that all the money balls were located at one specific shooting spot in addition to one money ball located at each spot. I, for one, admire this change tremendously. This adds a lot more excitement and strategy in the shooting of each player, depending on where they place all the money balls. For example, say a specific shooter is off in all of the earlier spots but shoots lights out in the money rack at the end, they are still in the showing. Similarly, a player could shoot lights out at the first spot, where they placed the money balls, and then cool off later, but they still get double the points for the one rack. This adds more competition in the rounds itself, creating more ties and excitement.

For those of you that didn't know, Marco Belinelli did indeed win the Three Point Contest for the West. This was a huge surprise because Steph Curry, the heavy favorite, just couldn't get it done. Then, the favorite out of the East, Joe Johnson, had a pretty terrible round, scoring a low 11 points. Bradley Beal scores a total of 21 to top the Eastern Conference. So the finals was Belinelli and Beal. Now, people are saying these two were major underdogs to make the finals, but Belinelli is second in the NBA in three point field goal percentage and Beal is sixth in the same category. The finals were surprisingly extremely fun to watch. Belinelli put up a strong 19 points. Then Beal comes right back and hits his last six shots after a slow start and TIES him with 19. They go into an overtime round where Belinelli shoots lights out and scores 24, which Beal cannot exceed, and Belinelli wins.

Second, let's examine the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. Okay, now this event also had major changes which did get a lot of hate. So, the format this year would be that three competitors from each conference would first have a 90 second 'freestyle' period, in which all three competitors from their respective conference would show what they have AS A TEAM. Then, the judges vote on which TEAM/CONFERENCE had the best dunks. Whichever conference wins gets to decide which conference would go first in the battle rounds, where one competitor from each conference would 'battle' another and the judges would determine who won the battle. 

Just a quick refresh on the contest. It was Paul George, John Wall and Terrence Ross for the East against Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes and Ben McLemore for the West. The East won EVERYTHING, winning all of the battle rounds and the freestyle round. John Wall won best dunker as he jumped over the Wizards mascot which led to a reverse dunk with a pump included. Now the reason the new format was getting a lot of disrespect and hate was because it was short and quick which isn't the formats' fault. The only reason for this was because the West was simply bad. In the freestyle, where the purpose was for the conference was to act LIKE A TEAM, the West didn't. The East had dunks that were linked by passes from all three players, where the West were trying to show off individually and ultimately failed. Now for the battle rounds. The way to 'win' the overall battle rounds for the conference, was to win 3 battles. Now, again, the only reason they didn't have more battles is because the dunks from the West didn't meet up with those of the East, which weren't too good either. That's why the contest didn't last long at all. Also, I don't think Harrison Barnes should have been in the dunk contest. He is a ferocious dunker in games because he can posterize anyone, which he can't do in the contest unfortunately. 

Thirdly, the Skills Challenge. I really admire this change as well, which was that two competitors acted together into coming up with a combined time. This was more fun to watch because one competitor couldn't let their teammate/other competitor down. So everyone competed at their highest level. 

So in the finals, it was Trey Burke and Damian Lillard against Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter Williams. Unfortunately for the East, they couldn't connect the pass on their first try which costed them time. The West, on the other hand, were fluent in the passes, but Burke couldn't hit a three on his first couple of attempts which hurt their time. This was the closest Skills Challenge as the West won by 1 tenth of a second. If Oladipo hadn't show-boated a dunk at the end, the East would've won.

And finally, the All Star game. As expected, it broke scoring records at the half and at the end. Also, Blake Griffin broke the record for most field goals in one All Star Game, making 19 on 23 attempts. The East won in a pretty fun game and specifically fourth quarter, 163-155. Kyrie Irving was absolutely phenomenal, scoring 31 and dishing out 14 assists. He was crossing up, ankle breaking and sinking shots on anyone, including Dwight Howard.

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