The Evster's NBA Playoff Preview

The Evster's NBA Playoff Preview

This is not an NBA Playoff preview. I don't know why I called it that. I guess I figured no one would click on a link titled "Some Things The Evster Felt Like Talking About This Week on a Blog That Actually Pays Him to Write Stuff." But then again, it's not like you think you're about to get legit NBA analysis here. You know what you're getting into. This post is written by the same person who predicted this guy would win Defensive Player of the Year:

I still believe in you, Wendell!

Regardless if you're an NBA junkie or an actual junkie, this year's NBA playoffs have enough juice to get any fan's blood flowin'. I don't even know what that means, "juice," no one has used that word since 1992. What I was trying to say is that there are a bunch of players and a couple of storylines that I am so, so, so excited to follow. And below are some of the ones I'm most looking forward to seeing.

So read away, get pumped for the playoffs, and if anyone wants to do drugs while watching the games this weekend, please contact me at BigDInYoFace@The700Level.com.

BEST EARLY ROUND MATCHUP -- Clips vs. Dubbs

WELCOME TO BONERVILLE. I can't ever remember another first round series that featured such a bonkers matchup. Although to be honest, the Clippers could be playing against the St. Louis Slingdongs and it would still be entertaining. But luckily for us, they're playing the Warriors, who have essentially been on an 82-game heat check. With the Splash Bros., Andre Iguaodladlalldaala and Mr. HAND DOWN MAN DOWN himself going against Lob City, there is a very good chance that I will make soft, missionary-style love to my TV this Saturday.

At some point during this series, I fully expect Jamal Crawford and Steph Curry to launch 35-foot bombs while I bite down on every pillow I own. I seriously might wear a dog collar while watching. DeAndre Jordan can dunk with his FACE. Matt Barnes will kill you. I haven't even mentioned the best pg in the game or Blake Griffy McGrifflestein!!!  Just because I can -- and to show you how excited I'm getting -- I will now type one last series of exclamation points using only my dork.

Ready?

!Q!!!#!~!##!!!@!W!!!!!!@W!!!!!Q!!!!!!!!!

Edit THAT, Enrico!

FAVORITE DUDE WHO PLAYS 16.5 MINUTES PER GAME -- Nick "Wiz" Calathes

I didn't know that was his nickname either!

Also that painting kinda looks like Jerryd Bayless.

Also who paints a picture of Nick Calathes/Jerryd Bayless?!?!

No player in the league has had a bigger impact this year than Wizzy C (not his nickname, also not a true statement). But whatever, after spending the last four years playing in Greece and Russia, Pat's little bro has found an NBA home as the Grizzlies backup point guard. He's not necessarily that good, and he hasn't really done anything that warrants him being included in this article, but there's something about Nicky C that makes you really pull for him. Maybe it's the fact that he's embraced his male pattern baldness in a way that only Clyde Drex and Manu Ginobes have done in the past. To see Wiz scurrying around, making post entries, and kicking it out for wide open threes whilst rocking a legitimate bald spot is an inspiration to all, receding white men. I just wish he would also embrace his shoulder hair. And let it just sprout. Forget about Jason Collins coming out, the NBA needs a guy to embrace shoulder strays. I'm lookin' at you, Nick Collison. I'm lookin' at you!

WATCH THIS JAWN NOW -- New Damian Lillard Adidas/Foot Locker Commercial

[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube.com/embed/vnaZBRumpg4 width=620 height=349]

No big deal, just the $100 million Adidas deal for Damian this week.

#JUSTTHEHUNDO

OMG WHAT WILL THIS DUDE DO NEXT -- Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson is by far my wife's favorite basketball player. A total loose cannon, this guy could go berzerker at any given mome. For example, one half he could be on pace for a triple dubb, and the next he could eat a guy's shoe. I love him, too. Love his okie doke handle. Love when he palms the ball in the half court set. Love this pic of him celebrating in high school.

Ayyyyyyyyyyy!

This is awesome too:

HEY GUYS, GLAD YOU COULD MAKE IT. TAKE OFF YOUR COAT AND STAY AWHILE. CARE FOR SOME CHEESE? I RECOMMEND THE BOUCHERON. IT'S QUITE LOVELY -- John Wall, Kyle Lowry and Kemba THE NOT WHITE Walker

Look, the West may have most of the talent, but these three Eastern Conference point guards are easily the most electric. (I mean, besides Russell Westbreezy. Obviously besides Russell Westbreezy. It would be silly to write an NBA article and not call Russell Westbreezy the most electric point guard to ever play the game. He plays so ANGRY. And Chris Paul, too, but whatever. That's a given. And I already mentioned Steph. Okay, so they're like the 4th through 6th most electric point guards. Maybe 7th if you wanna include Shabazz Napier. And there's Rondo and Derrick Rose too, but, let's just move on. Let's just move on.)

Do you know who had the most total assists in the league this year? John Wall. (Ricky Roobs was second by the way, which I found fascinating.) Kyle Lowry ain't scare o' NOBODY. And Kemba Walker is the best professional basketball player who you have never seen play an actual professional basketball game.

TV SHOW YOU NEED TO WATCH – The Starters on NBATV

If you’re not watching The Starters every single day you are living a goddamn lie. The show is essentially this: four idiots sitting around in flannel shirts breaking down every angle of the NBA. But they’re not just idiots, they’re really knowledgeable and passionate idiots. Daily features on the show include: Wedgies (highlights of the ball getting wedged under the rim and against the backboard), Leigh Ellis’s Very Solid Play of the Night (normally consisting of a dude playing nice help defense or making a very solid bounce pass) and the Kobe Bryant Twitter Watch (he’s still not following Kendall Marshall). I love these guys so much and desperately want to be Twitter friends with them/shampoo their hair/go grocery shopping with them.

BIG THREE, SCHMIGG SCHMEE. THE HEAT BENCH IS WHERE IT'S AT: B-Eazy, Birdman and Oden

Look, we all love LeBron. And when D-Wade actually plays basketball, he's incredible too. And I even kinda sorta almost like Chris Bosh (no I don't). But the most fascinating players on the Heat roster are the dudes who hardly get any burn: Chris Andersen, Michael Beasley and omg you know who I'm talking about I just wrote their names in the header for goodness sakes.

When Birdman is on the court, he is impossible to ignore. IMPOSSIBLE. LeBron could be going coast to coast for one of his patented Chinese locomotive dunks (not a thing), but if Birdman's in the game, forget about it. IMPOSSIBLE TO IGNORE. I went to see the Sixers play the Nuggets a few years ago when Birdman was on Denver... didn't see one play the entire game. I just locked in on Birdman. Whatever he did, wherever he went, my eyes followed. Setting screens. Sitting on the bench. Staring at chicks while he was supposed to pay attention in the huddle. Seriously, there was one timeout where George Karl was drawing up a play and Birdman locked eyes HARD with a Sixers Dance Team lady. I think he was looking at that redhead. I love that redhead. How does she not have any moles?

Michael Beasley is just a weirdo. A super skilled, versatile, weirdo. But at some point during these playoffs, B-Eazy is gonna go off. He's too talented not to. He might go off the rails. But he's gonna go off. Every playoffs, someone comes out of the blue and just goes off. I'm not sure Michael's even aware that the playoffs are starting.

Poor Greg Oden. It's just sad. But it's nice to at least see him getting out of the house for once. He has the weirdest head. Honestly, what is going on with his head? I can't believe we have seen both his and Paul George's dorks.

NSFW BY THE WAY.

PREDICTIONS

East: Round 1 -- Pacers over Hawks (obvs); Heat over Bobcats (double obvs); Raptors over Nets (Terrence Ross!); Bulls over Wiz (not yet John Wally!) ... Conference Semis -- Pacers over Bulls (not one upset picked yet!); Heat over Raptors (sweeeeeeeep) ... Conference Finals -- Heat over Pacers (WHY ARE PEOPLE SLEEPIN ON BRON BRON)

West: Round 1 -- Spurs over Mavs (RIP Dirk); Thunder over Grizz (awesome series though); Clips over Warriors (no Bogut, no dubbs); Blazers over Rockets (Dwight and the Beard are SOFT) ... Conference Semis -- Spurs over Blazers (is anyone actually reading this part?); Clippers over Thunder (I'm not sure if I actually believe that!) ... Conference Finals -- Spurs over Clips (Can you believe Kawhi Leonard still has cornrows?!??!?!)

Finals -- Heat over Spurs (in 7!) I'LL BELIEVE SOMEONE BEATING LEBRON WHEN I SEES IT.

Enjoy the games everybody!

Basketballlllll!!!!!!!!!!

[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube.com/embed/_shxzlTRK44 width=620 height=465]

Honestly that's the most amazing/corniest video EVER.

Follow The Evster @TVMWW.

Best of MLB: Stephen Strasburg stays unbeaten as Nats pound Cards

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Best of MLB: Stephen Strasburg stays unbeaten as Nats pound Cards

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg (9-0) won his 12th consecutive decision dating to last season, pitching six innings of one-run ball as Washington salvaged a four-game split.

Strasburg improved to 12-0 in 15 starts since losing to the Mets on Sept. 9, and the Nationals have won all 15 of those games. The 12 consecutive winning decisions is a franchise record for a starter, breaking a mark shared by Livan Hernandez (2005) and Dennis Martinez (1989).

Jayson Werth connected for a pinch-hit grand slam. Wilson Ramos had three hits, including a two-run homer, and drove in four runs. Bryce Harper hit an RBI single during a three-run fourth off Michael Wacha (2-6), who lost his sixth straight decision (see full recap).

Dodgers score twice in 9th to top Mets
NEW YORK -- Adrian Gonzalez snapped a ninth-inning tie with a two-run single off suddenly struggling closer Jeurys Familia, and Los Angeles beat New York.

Curtis Granderson hit a tying triple for the Mets immediately after Clayton Kershaw was lifted with two outs in the eighth. But the Dodgers quickly regrouped for their sixth victory in seven games since losing four straight.

Kershaw struck out 10, walked none and capped a magnificent May with another sublime performance.

Adam Liberatore (1-0) got the win. Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save.

Familia (2-1) allowed two runs on two hits and two walks (see full recap).

Castro's homer Yanks' only hit in victory
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Starlin Castro's two-run, seventh-inning homer off Jake Odorizzi was the Yankees' only hit of the game, enough to give New York a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

According to Baseball Reference data going back to 1913, the Yankees' only other one-hit win was when Charlie Mullen had an RBI single to beat Cleveland in six innings in a doubleheader nightcap on July 10, 1914.

Nathan Eovaldi (6-2) gave up one run and six hits in six innings to win his career-best fifth consecutive start and beat Odorizzi (2-3).

Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman each pitched a perfect inning and combined for seven strikeouts. Chapman got his seventh save (see full recap).

Deitrich hurt on odd play in Marlins' win over Braves
ATLANTA -- Derek Dietrich hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer and drove in four runs before getting hurt on a foul ball hit into Miami's dugout.

Dietrich's homer landed deep in the lower section of the right-field seats in the sixth, giving Miami a 3-1 lead. A former Georgia Tech star, Dietrich added a two-run double off Eric O'Flaherty in the seventh inning, then was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Christian Yelich in the ninth.

The team said X-rays were negative and Dietrich was to remain in Atlanta on Sunday night for further evaluations.

Tom Koehler (3-5) allowed three runs -- two earned -- three hits and five walks in seven-plus innings. Julio Teheran (1-5) gave up three runs, five hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings (see full recap).

Correa's home run lifts Astros over Angels in 13
ANAHEIM, Calif.  -- Pinch-hitter Carlos Correa had a three-run homer off Mike Morin (1-1) in the 13th inning.

Correa got a run-scoring hit in the 13th inning for the second time in six games, following up his game-ending single against Baltimore on Tuesday.

Albert Pujols had three hits for the Angels, who blew an eighth-inning lead and stranded 14 runners while losing for the fourth time in five games.

Michael Feliz (3-1) pitched the 12th for Houston (see full recap).

Report: P.J. Carlesimo won't join Sixers' coaching staff

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Report: P.J. Carlesimo won't join Sixers' coaching staff

It doesn't sound like the Sixers' replacement for Mike D'Antoni will be the most rumored name for the position.

NBA coaching veteran P.J. Carlesimo has decided to not join Brett Brown's staff as associate head coach and instead will remain a television analyst, according to tweets Sunday night by ESPN's Mark Stein.

Stein added that despite "strong mutual interest," Carlesimo made the decision for family reasons.

The 67-year-old Carlesimo has spent parts of nine seasons as a head coach in the league and five more as an assistant. He was last on a NBA bench when he took over as the Brooklyn Nets' interim head coach in 2012-13.

So the Sixers still have a vacancy on their bench after D'Antoni, who joined the Sixers in the middle of last season after Jerry Colangelo joined the organization, signed on to become head coach of the Houston Rockets last week. Who the team's next choice for the role is remains to be seen.

Stanley Cup Final: Long roads culminate for both Sharks and Penguins

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Stanley Cup Final: Long roads culminate for both Sharks and Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- It wasn't supposed to take the San Jose Sharks this long to reach their first Stanley Cup Final. It wasn't supposed to take this long for Sidney Crosby to guide the Pittsburgh Penguins back to a destination many figured they'd become a fixture at after winning it all in 2009.

Not that either side is complaining.

Certainly not the Sharks, whose nearly quarter-century wait to play on the NHL's biggest stage will finally end Monday night when the puck drops for Game 1. Certainly not Crosby, who raised the Cup after beating Detroit seven years ago but has spent a significant portion of the interim dealing with concussions that threatened to derail his career and fending off criticism as the thoughtful captain of a team whose explosiveness during the regular season too often failed to translate into regular mid-June parade through the heart of the city.

Maybe the Penguins should have returned to the Cup Final before now. The fact they didn't makes the bumpy path the franchise and its superstar captain took to get here seem worth it.

"I think I appreciated it prior to going through some of those things," Crosby said. "I think now having gone through those things I definitely appreciate it more. I think I realize how tough it is to get to this point."

It's a sentiment not lost on the Sharks, who became one of the NHL's most consistent winners shortly after coming into the league in 1991. Yet spring after spring, optimism would morph into disappointment. The nadir came in 2014, when a 3-0 lead over Los Angeles in the first round somehow turned into a 4-3 loss. The collapse sent the Sharks into a spiral that took a full year to recover from, one that in some ways sowed the seeds for a breakthrough more than two decades in the making.

General manager Doug Wilson tweaked the roster around fixtures Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, who remained hopeful San Jose's window for success hadn't shut completely even as the postseason meltdowns piled up.

"I always believed that next year was going to be the year, I really did," Thornton said. "I always thought we were a couple pieces away. Even last year not making the playoffs, I honestly thought we were a couple pieces away, and here we are."

The Penguins, like the Sharks, are a study in near instant alchemy. General manager Jim Rutherford rebuilt the team on the fly after taking over in June, 2014 and with the team sleepwalking last December, fired respected-but-hardly-charismatic Mike Johnston and replaced him with the decidedly harder-edged Mike Sullivan. The results were nearly instantaneous.

Freed to play to its strengths instead of guarding against its weaknesses, Pittsburgh rocketed through the second half of the season and showed the resilience it has sometimes lacked during Crosby's tenure by rallying from a 3-2 deficit against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals, dominating Games 6 and 7 to finally earn a shot at bookending the Cup that was supposed to give birth to a dynasty but instead led to years of frustration.

True catharsis for one side is four wins away. Some things to look for over the next two weeks of what promises to be an entertaining final.

Fresh faces
When the season began, Matt Murray was in the minor leagues. Now the 22-year-old who was supposed to be Pittsburgh's goalie of the future is now very much the goalie of the present. Pressed into action when veteran Marc-Andre Fleury suffered a concussion on March 31, Murray held onto the job even after Fleury returned by playing with the steady hand of a guy in his 10th postseason, not his first. San Jose counterpart Martin Jones served as Jonathan Quick's backup when the Kings won it all in 2014 and has thrived while playing behind a defense that sometimes doesn't give him much to do. Jones has faced over 30 shots just four times during the playoffs.

"HBK" is H-O-T:
Pittsburgh's best line during the playoffs isn't the one centered by Crosby or Malkin but Nick Bonino, who has teamed with Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin to produce 17 goals and 28 assists in 18 games. Put together when Malkin missed six weeks with an elbow injury, the trio has given the Penguins the balance they desperately needed after years of being too reliant on their stars for production.

Powerful Sharks
San Jose's brilliant run to the Finals has been spearheaded by a power play that is converting on 27 percent (17 of 63) of its chances during the playoffs. The Sharks are 9-2 when they score with the man advantage and just 3-4 when it does not.

Old men and the C(up)
Both teams have relied heavily on players who began their NHL careers in another millennium. Pittsburgh center Matt Cullen, who turns 40 in November, has four goals during the playoffs. Thornton and Marleau, both 36, were taken with the top two picks in the 1997 draft that was held in Pittsburgh while 37-year-old Dainius Zubrus draws stares from younger teammates when he tells them he used to play against Hall of Famer (and current Penguins owner) Mario Lemieux.

"When I say 'Twenty years ago I was playing against Lemieux, they say 'I was 2-years-old,'" Zubrus said.