Monday, November 3, 2014

NBA Playoff Power Rankings: Eastern Conference

The NBA season is one week old, so of course it is time to unveil the first edition of the Bald Don't Lie NBA Playoff Power Rankings. Every week in this space, you will see a ranking system based on only one thing:  which teams are best positioned right now to win a best-of-seven series against the other teams in each conference. These rankings are split between the Eastern and Western Conference because teams from these conferences only meet in the finals. Beginning in January, I will begin placing teams in a new "Contenders" category. Each week you will find commentary of one conference. We will begin with the Eastern Conference this week.

Eastern Conference (Team Record, Offensive Rating, Defensive Rating)

Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1, 108.6, 108.1)
No one should be surprised the Cavs lost their season opener to the Knicks. For one, the Knicks aren’t a terrible team, but more than anything, it is going to take Cleveland time to gel. The Cavs proved their toughness by beating the Bulls in Chicago the next night. The Cavs aren’t without weaknesses. I’m not sold on their bench, they will have trouble defending teams with multiple offensive weapons and they have an NBA rookie head coach. But the Cavs have LeBron James, and unless The King is hurt, they will be the favorite to emerge out of the East.

Miami Heat (3-0, 116.2, 103.8)
No LeBron? After three games, no problem. Yes, I legitimately believe the Heat would beat every team other team outside Cleveland in the East in a seven game series right now. Chris Bosh has been awesome so far, Wade isn’t hurt yet, and the complementary players are performing well. The Heat’s major advantage is in coaching and management. Eric Spoelstra is the best coach in the East, and Pat Riley isn’t going to sit and watch his team be uncompetitive. I can’t tell you how long the Heat is ranked this high, but for today, they deserve it.

Chicago Bulls (2-1, 111.1, 104.5)
The Bulls are a great team, and with a healthy Derrick Rose in the playoffs, they may be a championship team. But today, Rose isn’t completely healthy (who else is worried that he had to miss a game with a sprained ankle?), and the front-line has rotation issues. The Bulls have three legit big men in Joakim NoahPau Gasol and Taj Gibson. Only two of these players will be on the floor in crunch time. The third will be on the bench pissed that he isn’t playing.

Toronto Raptors (2-1, 113.3, 108.0)
I believe in our friends from the North. The Raptors have one of the strongest starting lineups in the East led by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. I haven’t had a chance to watch the Raptors much, so I’ll just say I like the cut of their jib.

Washington Wizards (2-1, 107.7, 105.6)
It’s hard to judge the Wiz without Bradley Beal, but even in his absence this is a good team. John Wall continues to do John Wall things, Paul Pierce is getting comfortable in D.C., and most importantly, Otto Porter is finally getting some consistent playing time.

Atlanta Hawks (1-1, 108.4, 106.8)
The Hawks are shooting a league-high 47.6% from three, a completely insane and unsustainable rate, but a great indication of their offensive scheme. The Hawks already have a dominating front court with Paul Millsap and Al Horford. I’m not sure they have the depth to really compete with the teams above right now.

Brooklyn Nets (2-1, 110.6, 112.8, ratings do not include Monday night’s game)
Old, savvy and deeper than you think. If Deron Williams is really healthy and at a reasonable playing weight (ha, we’ll see), then the Nets are a playoff team. Here are two names to watch out for: Bojan Bogdanovic and Mirza Teletovic: both these dude can shoot the lights out.

New York Knicks (2-1, 104.3, 86.6)
There is plenty to dislike about the Knicks: a general lack of talent, a new coach who is insisting on running the Triangle, J.R. Smith (a bona fide crazy person) and a superduper star who isn’t exactly known for his killer instinct. But, after gutsy wins over the Cavs and Hornets, I’m beginning to see the building blocks of a playoff team. The lesson: never underestimate Phil Jackson.

Charlotte Hornets (1-2, 94.8, 95.9)
The Hornets have the 3rd worst NBA offense, 4th best NBA defense, and a confused Lance Stephenson. Born Ready was benched for the entire fourth quarter in Saturday’s loss to the Grizzlies, but bounced back with nearly a triple-double again the Knicks. The Hornets have the pieces, but they are not a top-8 team in the East today. If the Bugs get their offense together, they will rise quickly in these rankings.

Indiana Pacers (1-2, 103.2, 105.4)
I see a clear drop-off after the Hornets in the East right now. The remaining teams all suffer from fatal flaws that unless addressed through major change, will prevent a playoff appearance. For the Pacers, not having Paul George just sucks. Sorry, Indiana

Boston Celtics (1-2, 105.8, 104.8)
Fatal Flaw: General lack of talent outside Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green

Milwaukee Bucks (1-2, 98.1, 98.4)
Fatal Flaw: Youth and inexperience. Should be a fun team to watch though.

Detroit Pistons (1-2, 94.9, 105.1)
Fatal Flaw: Absolutely no clue on offense. We’ll call this the “Josh Smith” disease.

Orlando Magic (0-3, 97.3, 110.3)
Fatal Flaws: Youth, inexperience and a terrible coach.

Philadelphia 76ers (0-4, 91.4, 105.7)
Fatal Flaw: LOL

BDL Podcast #12

Contributor, Langdon Morris, joins Blair to hash out their NBA season predictions. 

BDL Podcast #11

Week #9 BDL NFL Picks:

BDL Podcast #10

BDL Podcast #10: NFL Week #8

BDL Podcast #1

The inaugural BDL podcast way back in June, 2014.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

2014, The Year X Went Extinct and Everyone Celebrated

Hello friends, I'm back after a long hiatus. I've poured my creative juices into the podcast section of our Bald Don't Lie multimedia empire, but found that I still have enough left over to put some coherent thoughts into print.

What's brought me back to my keyboard is a burning desire to raise awareness of some societal ills that must be dealt with. I cannot sit idly by anymore, and I implore you to share this message with the masses. Together, we can make a difference. Below is a list of sayings, people and practices that must be retired for the continued improvement of civilization. Why? Quite simply, we can do better.

  1. Inserting "Gate" Behind Any Scandal: When the Patriots were found to be taping practices, it was Spy-gate. When the Saints' defense was maiming opponents for financial reward, it was Bounty-gate. The fact is adding "gate" doesn't even fit. Watergate is an office and residential building along the Potomac River, made famous when it was bugged by associates of President Richard Nixon (a fellow Duke grad). The next time someone affiliated with the NFL does something ridiculous (just refresh, ignore the urge to add name + "gate". We can do better.
  2. StrollersWikipedia defines an externality as the cost or benefit that affects a party who did not choose to incur the cost or benefit. The effect can be positive or negative. A classic example of a negative externality is a car alarm. The device may dissuade a would-be thief by engaging an extremely loud alarm or voice command, if you purchased your alarm system from Darrel Issa. However, the new classic example is the stroller. Looking back to the last century, we saw the stroller evolve from the large pram type to small and now to the SUV equivalent strollers sometimes found today. While they provide utility to the child, who can snack, nod off or just take it easy and the parent, who doesn't have to hold the child or deal with a fatigued kid after a long day, the rest of us are left footing the bill. Strollers are in the way on the subway, sidewalk, grocery store, airport and basically every area of the urban environment. Do us all a favor and get one of those reverse baby back packs and/or buy your kid a matching pair of Asics. And if you have to use a stroller, buy one of the small fold-able ones, please. 
  3. Mitt Romney, Presidential Candidate: The New York Times, even in these dark times for print journalism, is still the standard bearer when it comes to daily print media in the US. Working by their motto "All the News That's Fit to Print", the Times is still the apex for journalists and those that want to be informed. That being said, on October 14, 2014, Josh Barro tells us why 2016 may be Mitt Romney's year. Let's put all politics aside, and just get back to the theme of this article, We Can Do Better. Who knows, maybe Hillary Clinton is feeding this to the press? I'll leave you with this question, how would you like the task of  exciting the Republican base or any moderate voters to vote for Mitt given his personality and 2012 performance. If Mitt throws his hat in the ring again, I predict the Tea Party will be bidding on rights to the domain name. 
  4. Using the Term Hashtag in Spoken Conversation: Throw in LOL, SMH or whatever abbreviations you use in text messages or Twitter. There's nothing wrong with using abbreviations when you're texting on the go, depending on your audience. There's also nothing wrong with participating in and utilizing Twitter as the incredible, real-time information source it is. Do yourself and all of us a favor, use the appropriate language in the appropriate setting. Never is it appropriate to use the term hashtag, unless it directly relates to a Twitter. 
Honorable Mentions:

Monday, June 30, 2014

How to Ensure You Have a Great Time at Your Next Wedding

Each year, as the temperatures rise and the flowers start to bloom, gardens aren’t the only things that begin to fill up. You’ll notice that your refrigerator begins to accumulate wedding invitations and Save The Dates like a FIFA official collects bribes.

Dry clean that suit, shine your shoes and start browsing the Target registry, because it’s wedding season.

However, not all weddings are created equal. Sticking with the soccer analogies, some are attending a World Cup in Rio, while others are like attending the World Cup in Qatar. You can have A LOT MORE fun in Rio than in Qatar. 

So what do you do if you get stuck at a wedding where you don't know anyone or the DJ is older than half the Supreme Court justices? Or say you're at a wedding with a bunch of friends, there's an open bar and a live band, and want to spice things up a bit? 

The Answer: Work the below game into your evening. Gather some friends (or comrades if you don’t know anyone at the wedding. There’s bound to be someone else who didn’t go to college or high school with the wedding party) and compile points by meeting the below challenges. You can play as individuals or in teams. The games begin when you take your seat for the ceremony.

3 Points
  • Remove shirt at any time
  • Discuss the founding fathers with a stranger/new friend/fellow patriot
  • Audibly shout over the crowd in another language
  • Convince guest to name their future child after you
  • Eat off a stranger’s plate
  • Photo bomb the wedding party (additional point if the photo is taken by the wedding photographer)
  • Give a guest a nickname that sticks (Bartender, two gin and tonics, one for me and my new friend, Big Country!)
  • Yell, “Wrap it up!” during a speech
  • Blow in a stranger’s ear
  • Pretend you’re blind
  • Defend despicable person prevalent in recent news cycle (…but Donald Sterling provided so much affordable housing to the LA community)
  • Use a fake accent all night
  • If there is a shuttle from the hotel to the venue, diver the shuttle post-wedding to a liquor store or greasy spoon
  • Text message a stranger’s parent from their phone (Mom, we’re so moved by today’s ceremony, we’re hopping on a plane to Vegas tomorrow and eloping. Don’t even try to stop us!)
  • Ask a stranger how long they think the marriage will last (So as a photographer you probably do a lot of weddings, and you can probably get a good sense of how the couple feels about each other. What about these two? How long you think they got? Five, seven years?)
2 Points

  • Dance with woman/man older than 40
  • First person, after the wedding party, in the buffet line for dinner (I couldn’t wait any longer to get my mitts on some of that prime rib. Come to Poppa!)
  • Shout audibly above the crowd
  • Be in the middle of a dance circle
  • Enter tentative business deal with guest (With my industry knowledge and your venture capital connections, there’s no way we aren’t millionaires, sipping vodka and eating caviar at the 2018 World Cup in Russia!)
  • Purposefully mistake a guest for a celebrity
  • Lead chant or slow clap
1 Point

  • Photo bomb
  • First name basis with bartender
  • Selfie with bride and/or groom
  • Catch garder/bouquet
  • Bum a cigarette
  • Tell completely false story about yourself
  • Get sports details wrong (Yeah, Tom Duncan, just another one of those ACC one and dones who didn’t care about the “college experience”)
  • Shake head in disgust in response to a toast
  • Order two drinks for yourself
  • Be the only person on the dance floor (Why would they play music during dinner, if they didn’t want people to dance?!)
-1 Point
  • Shake hands with someone (mix in a bow, raise your glass, dap ‘em up, go in for a hug, be creative!)
  • Not participate in a group dance

When you’ve retired for the night, sum up the points and crown a winner. Also, add challenges unique to the wedding you’re attending. So your friends are getting married on a cruise? Two points for smuggling contraband on the ship! Have fun with it!