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.

Jake Thompson left searching for answers after latest rough start

Jake Thompson left searching for answers after latest rough start

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — On the whole, the Phillies have made steady progress in their rebuild this season.

Cameron Rupp has improved. Maikel Franco has had a nice year. Odubel Herrera, even with his recent inconsistency, has had more ups than downs. Cesar Hernandez has been on a good roll. Freddy Galvis has 36 extra-base hits, and Tommy Joseph has opened eyes with his power. In the bullpen, Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos have shown that they just might be future studs.
 
For a good chunk of the season, the young starting pitching has shown promise, as well.
 
But lately, that corner of the team has taken some hits. Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin were both ruled out for the remainder of the season last week with elbow and knee injuries, respectively, and hard-throwing Vince Velasquez has been tagged for 19 earned runs in 16 1/3 innings over his last three starts.
 
Jake Thompson’s first four major-league starts haven’t exactly inspired confidence, either. The 22-year-old right-hander was hit hard in a 9-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay). He gave up eight hits, including five for extra bases, and seven runs as his ERA swelled to 9.78. Only Mike Maddux (9.98) in 1986 had a higher ERA for the Phillies in his first four big-league starts.
 
“I’m not used to this,” Thompson said after the defeat. “I feel certain that I’m a lot better than my performance has indicated.”
 
Few pitchers come to the big leagues and dazzle right away. There is a learning curve and occasionally growing pains. But no one expected Thompson to have this much trouble out of the chute, not after what he did in his final 11 starts at Triple A Lehigh Valley.
 
Thompson went 8-0 in those 11 starts and recorded a 1.21 ERA while allowing just 10 earned runs in 74 1/3 innings. He gave up just 52 hits and 18 walks over that span while striking out 42.
 
In four starts with the big club, he has given up 22 hits and 21 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. He has walked 13 and struck out 13.
 
He was advertised as a control and command pitcher. He has yet to show that in the majors.
 
“A lot of it has to do with his age and, I think, the fact he’s in the big leagues for the first time trying to make a good impression,” manager Peter Mackanin said. “He probably feels like he needs to make perfect pitches every time. All he’s got to do is keep the ball down. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff. He relies on command and control and he hasn’t shown that. I attribute a lot of that to his youth and inexperience.”
 
So does Rupp, the catcher.
 
“How many guys do you see come to the big leagues at 22 years old and just flat out dominate every time they go out?” Rupp said. “Not very many. He's young. It was his first time in Triple A this year and he pitched really well and now he's got a chance in the big leagues. I'm sure he feels like there's pressure. When you come up and you pitch so well all year and then you finally get your opportunity, you want to impress. It puts a lot on you. And as a kid, you've got to be able to control it and it's tough. It's hard.

“Nobody wants to see anybody fail. It's hard to go through. It's something that's going to make him better when he does finally figure it out."
 
Two of the walks Thompson gave up Tuesday night became runs. He gave up back-to-back homers to Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau in the fifth inning as the White Sox turned it into a rout.
 
“Just too many pitches up in the strike zone,” Mackanin said. “Everything he threw was thigh high, waist high. He couldn’t get the ball down. It’s as simple as that.”
 
Thompson concurred with his manager.
 
“The issue is pretty evident,” he said. “I'm not throwing strikes and when I am throwing strikes, they're not good strikes. It’s a frustrating thing because it's a relatively easy thing to do. I don't really have the answer right now to fix it.”
 
The game moves fast at the big-league level and confidence can become bruised quickly. Thompson said his confidence was unshaken. Still, Phillies officials have to be careful that this difficult baptism to the majors does not snowball and become something that adversely impacts Thompson's growth.
 
“It’s something that you’re concerned about and I’m concerned about,” Mackanin said.
 
Concerned enough that Thompson might not make his next start?
 
Mackanin said he expected Thompson to stay in the rotation, but added that he would speak with general manager Matt Klentak on the topic.
 
“I don’t want to see him keep getting beat up and keep struggling like this,” Mackanin said. “We’ll talk about it and see what Matt wants to do.”

Best of MLB: Royals shut out Marlins for 9th straight win

Best of MLB: Royals shut out Marlins for 9th straight win

MIAMI -- Yordano Ventura escaped two threats while pitching six innings, and the Kansas City Royals extended their winning streak to nine games by beating the Miami Marlins 1-0 on Tuesday night.

Ventura (9-9), who reached 101 mph on the scoreboard radar gun, allowed six hits and one walk while striking out six. Royals starters have an ERA of 1.69 during the winning streak, Kansas City's longest since June 2014.

Three relievers closed out the win and extended the bullpen's streak of 32 consecutive shutout innings since Aug. 10. Kelvin Herrera pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save.

The Marlins had won three straight but were shut out despite totaling seven hits. They went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position (see full recap).

Nova, Pirates beat Astros to snap 4-game skid
PITTSBURGH -- Ivan Nova took a shutout into the ninth inning and finished with a six-hitter while Gregory Polanco hit two home runs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 7-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

Nova (10-6) struck out six, walked one and threw 69 of his 98 pitches for strikes while improving to 3-0 in four starts since being acquired from the New York Yankees in an Aug. 1 trade.

It was the fourth complete game of the right-hander's seven-year career with the others coming in 2013.

His bid for his third career shutout ended when Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve led off the ninth with consecutive doubles.

After the Pirates scored four runs in the first inning, Polanco hit solo shots in the third and fifth off Joe Musgrove and Tony Sipp to extend the lead to 6-0 and raise his season total to a team-high 19 homers (see full recap).

Gausman, Jones help Orioles roll over Nationals
BALTIMORE -- Kevin Gausman scattered six hits over six shutout innings, Adam Jones went 4 for 5 and the Baltimore Orioles breezed past the Washington Nationals 8-1 on Tuesday night.

Chris Davis hit his 30th home run for the Orioles, who won two straight over Washington to conclude a 3-5 homestand.

Baltimore is 34-24 against the Nationals in a rivalry that began in 2006. The series shifts 38 miles south to Nationals Park on Wednesday for the first of two games.

Gausman (5-10) walked two, struck out two and permitted only one runner past second base. He's 5-1 at home and 0-9 on the road.

The 25-year-old Gausman outpitched Nationals rookie Reynaldo Lopez, a 22-year-old making his fifth major league start. Lopez (2-2) yielded six runs, four earned, and seven hits in 2 2/3 rocky innings (see full recap).

Instant Replay: White Sox 9, Phillies 1

Instant Replay: White Sox 9, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — Jake Thompson’s difficult big-league baptism continued in the Phillies’ 9-1 interleague loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.
 
The rookie right-hander was tagged for seven runs in five innings. He allowed eight hits and walked four as his ERA in four starts since coming up from Triple A swelled to 9.78. Only Mike Maddux (9.98) in 1986 had a higher ERA for the Phillies in his first four big-league starts.
 
Offensively, the Phillies did little against White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon. They had just five hits for the game.
 
The Phillies have lost five of their last seven and are 58-68 on the season. They have been outscored 18-1 in their last two games.
 
Starting pitching report
Thompson, 22, has been a much different pitcher since coming to the majors than he was in his last 11 starts at Triple A Lehigh Valley. He went 8-0 in those 11 starts and recorded a 1.21 ERA while allowing just 10 earned runs in 74 1/3 innings. He gave up just 52 hits and 18 walks over that span while striking out 42.
 
In four starts with the big club, he has given up 22 hits and 21 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. He has walked 13 and struck out 13.
 
Two of the four walks that Thompson gave up in this game became runs.
 
Five of the eight hits he allowed were for extra bases, including a pair of homers.
 
Rodon, 23, was the third pick in the 2014 draft, four ahead of Aaron Nola. The lefty held the Phillies to three hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings. He walked one.
 
Bullpen report
David Hernandez was tagged for two runs.
 
At the plate
Freddy Galvis broke up the White Sox’s shutout bid with a solo homer off reliever Chris Beck in the seventh. Galvis has 13 homers.
 
Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau hit back-to-back homers against Thompson in the fifth inning to help the Sox pull away.
 
Abreu has homered in three straight games.
 
Minor matters
Pitcher Alec Asher, who serving an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a PED, has begun a minor-league rehabilitation assignment with the Phillies’ Gulf Coast League team. Asher is expected to be activated by the big club during the second week of September and he could make several starts down the stretch as the club watches the workload of several pitchers.
 
Up next
The two-game series concludes on Wednesday night. Jerad Eickhoff (8-12, 3.91) opposes right-hander James Shields (5-15, 5.98).