MoVernie NBA Playoff Predictions – 2016

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Peeps! Let’s have some fun!

Here are my NBA playoff prediction for 2016. Let me know if you agree or disagree and why.

And tell me what’s your predictions?

Eastern Conference:

  1. Raptors beat Pacers
  2. Cavaliers beat Pistons
  3. Heat beat Hornets
  4. Celtics beat Hawks

Final 2 teams:

Cavaliers vs Heat (Lebron vs Wade)

Representing the East: Cavaliers

Western Conference:

  1. Warriors beat Rockets
  2. Spurs beat Grizzlies
  3. Thunder beat Mavericks
  4. Blazers beat Clippers

Final 2 teams:

Warriors vs Spurs (Classic)

Representing West: Spurs

NBA Champions: San Antonio Spurs

Raptors vs Pacers – Playoff Prediction

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A number of peeps want to know my prediction for the Raptors vs Pacers series.

My MoVernie Prediction? Raptors in 6.

2016 is the year the Raptors will shine & get pass playoff round #1.

And this will also be the first time in franchise history that Toronto will win and take Game #1, which they have never done in the franchise history. Believe it or not, that’s freaky.

Here is the breakdown on the strengths and weaknesses for both Raptors & Pacers:

Toronto Raptors

Strengths:

  1. Solid starting 5: Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are all-star this year and both have been the backbone of this team. In fact, one of the best guard tandem in the NBA this year. Newcomer DeMarre Carroll (before getting injured) blend in well with the group, doing what he does best, guarding the opposition top dogs. Luis Scola or Patrick Patterson played well in various periods of times over the season. They may have their flaws but each of them bring something unique to the table. Last but not least, manning the centre, Jonas Valanciunas got 4th quarter minutes this year with his improved defense and more complete, all-around offensive skills down the stretch of every game.
  2. Deep Depth of Bench Players: Raptors also have deep bench. Coach Casey has a number of players who can be slotted in different slots and be able to contribute in many different ways and looks.

3) Home Court Advantage: Whether the Raptors fans are inside the ACC or outside the ACC (aka Jurassic Park), the fans are noisy, full of energy and full of passion. That is a loud place to play against, it definitely affect the oppositions.

X-Factor: Norman Powell and DeMarre Carroll. I know it’s too much to ask a rookie to play an important role in the playoffs but I truly believe in Powell, who can shoot 3’s, play defense, drive inside for a nice layup or a slam dunk. He is fearless. That’s what I like, a guy who isn’t hesitate to take the shot or afraid to step up his game, while doing it quietly.

Meanwhile, Carroll, the $15M addition over the summer, despite injury, will still be important to guard guys like Paul George or Monta Ellis

Weakness:

  1. Coach Casey: Casey often has questionable rotation and stubborn on who to put in or out, despite a bench player could be shooting the lights out. Casey also like to stick with the same starting 5, which is quite predictable. If Casey continues to be out coached or fail to make good adjustment during the game or the entire playoff series, Raptors will be kick out the 3rd time in a row.

    Raptors GM Masai Ujiri had said that whether to re-sign Casey or not does not depend whether if he can guide the team to the next round. To be honest, that was just full of bullshit. Remember, would any GM be stupid enough to say anything to affect the mental part of a team heading to the playoffs? Let’s sit down and think about this, would Masai tell the reporters that “Yes, if Casey get kick out of Round 1, he is gone?” before the eve of the playoff series? Most likely not, let’s use common sense here.

  2. Raptors have not won game #1 ever in franchise history. Will history repeats itself or become a new curse for the franchise? We will find out.

Indiana Pacers

Strength:

Coaching. What Raptors lacks in coaching is a major gain for the Pacers. Pacers major strength is strong coaching in Frank Vogel. Vogel has been a great coach guiding the Pacers year-in, year-out. Look at his roster this year, other than Paul George and Monta Ellis, there basically not much in the roster that you would call stars or core groups, but they get the job done and made the playoffs.

Think about this, their starting point guard, is George Hill, who only averages 3.4 assists per game this season. Are you kidding me? A starting point guard with only 3.4 assists is in the starting lineup and the team is making the playoffs. That’s because Vogel runs a system that guys like Ellis and Paul George can be a point man.

If Vogel wants to go small, Coach Casey better find a way to counteract Vogel’s tactics. Will Casey be out coach again? We will find out.

Weakness:

Weak bench: The roster is relatively weak compared to the deep bench players the Raptors got.

X-Factor: I really like Jordan Hill over the years and I think he will be a key contributor and expect way more playing minutes in this playoff. This guy can shoot and defend and grab key rebounds.

Anyhow, my MoVernie Prediction, Raptors in 6!

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Raptors vs Pacers NBA Playoffs – Key to Success

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First of all, congratulations to the Toronto Raptors for making the playoffs, shattering a number of new franchise records and finishing 2nd place in the Eastern Conference.

It’s a luxury for Raptors fans to know that their team has pretty much secure a playoff spot way back in December. Remember those times when back in the days we wouldn’t even know if we make the playoffs until the last game is played? Those days are long gone! Not any more, this Raptors team have depth, experience, consistent team winning performance.

However, franchise records are sexy and awesome, but these accolades are meaningless if the Raptors get kick out of the 1st round yet again. So, to me, the motto is…”Round 2 or Go Home!”.

I am a realistic guy, if Raptors make it out of the 1st round of the playoffs this year, I am happy, it’s a goal accomplished. It’s a baby step moving forward, as long as there is progress, I am happy.

Below are some of the areas that I think are KEY to Raptors success to get out of 1st round:

  1. Coach Casey needs to make good adjustment

    In the past few playoff seasons, Coach Casey has a habit of sticking to its starting roster even when the roster don’t seem to be clicking. He has a stubborn nature of not making any roster changes to the starting lineup, not even bother to shake things up during the game, making things super predictable for the oppoents to guess what’s coming next from the Raptors. A great example was when the Raptors got swept by the Wizards last year.

    There is absolutely no more excuse for Coach Casey to fail yet again, that’s because Raptors GM Masai Ujiri had given Casey lots of options this season. The weakest link from last year’s roster was at the SF spot. Not this year, Masai went out and address this issue with the addition of DeMarre Carroll. Despite Carroll is slowly returning into form from his months long of injuries, his strong defense against opponents’ top dog such as Paul George or Monta Ellis shouldn’t be a problem for Carroll. Furthermore, if Casey wants some outside shooting, Terrence Ross has improved his 3pter shot this year. Want some more aggressive defense and energy? No problem, throw in the 6’9″ James Johnson. Better yet, on a surprising turn, rookie of the month in April, Norman Powell added grit, defense, size, 3pter and scoring in the paint. The BEST part about Powell? He is fearless, that’s what we need.

    With such an in-depth roster of players for Casey to choose from, Casey has no excuse for failing because he has so many different options, giving different looks and rotation against the Indiana Pacers, who has a relative weaker bench than the Raptors.

  2. Can All-Star DeMar DeRozan finally step up his game during the playoffs?

    DeMar DeRozan has clearly improved year-after-year with his spin moves and shots during the regular games. He has definitely mature and master his crafts this year. Although, DeMar is a great regular season stats guy, he has yet to flourish in the playoffs.

    In the playoffs, it’s a different game. The opponents’ defense will be tighter, they are more aggressive, they will double team DeMar more frequently. They will give DeMar less space and time to aim and shoot.

    Whether the Raptors can get pass the 1st round will heavily depend on the ability DeMar in making adjustments and being able to mix up his scoring repertoire during the playoffs. He needs to shoot 3’s, shoot in the paint, drive to the hoop and draw fouls.

    MEMO to Demar: If the ref isn’t giving you the call, don’t stand around and whine or get piss off, just stay focus and get back to defense and just keep going at it. Most often, he doesn’t drive when refs stopping giving him the call. And when his outside shots aren’t falling and he isn’t driving to the hoop, he usually disappear.

    Kyle Lowry, without a doubt is the heart and soul and leader of this team. We don’t even have to doubt his heart and passion. Even if the team is down 20 pts, Lowry will still give it his all to the dying seconds. Lowry and DeRozan are best friends, but no matter how good the friendships, a batman will need a robin. Can Lowry continue to be fine with DeRozan not able to complement him and disappear in the playoffs and continue have to carry the team on his back?

    Believe it or not, this is the free agent year for DeMar DeRozan, is he a max player? Should Raptors re-sign DeMar for a max contract? This will be a tough question. Would GM Masai wants to lock up a guy with max contract who may not be the game changer year after year with mediocre playoff performances? This playoff will be KEY for DeRozan to show what he got.

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3. Raptors MUST win Game #1

 

Believe it or not, throughout the entire Raptors history, as accordingly to RealGM playoff stats, Raptors have NEVER won game #1 in the entire franchise history for every playoff series. Other than year 2000-2001 when Raptors came back to beat the Knicks and then lost to the 76ers, every playoff series that Raptors lost game #1, they lose the entire series.

Although winning game #1 doesn’t mean they win the whole series,  but it is extremely important for Raptors to take game #1 to set the tone for the rest of the series, get settle down and start believing in themselves.

Game #1 may not be as important for other teams but definitely a KEY factor for the Toronto Raptors if they want to go to the 2nd round.

If Raptors able to check off the 3 key points I have mentioned above, the chances to go to the 2nd round is looking super bright!.

Best of luck! Go Raptors!

#WeTheNorth

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Roy Halladay Retires as a Toronto Blue Jays

 

Baseball winter meeting began today and I knew the Toronto Blue Jays were going to hold a press conference at 12:30 p.m. I thought they were going to have some new free agent signings or just internal staff announcement. I didn’t expect it was the announcement of signing long-time great pitcher, Roy Halladay to a 1-day contract so that he can retire as a Toronto Blue Jays.

Roy “Doc” Halladay is a class-act and most possibly the best pitcher who wore the Toronto Blue Jays uniform. He was always humble, down-to-earth, polite and just going out on the mound and led by example. He took paycuts so that the team can sign other free agents to be competitive in the tough American League. Unfortunately, those signings never materialized and Halladay never got a chance to compete in the playoffs as a Toronto BlueJays. He was later traded to the Philadelphia Phillies to have his shot to win the World Series. He got to the post seasons a few times but the team couldn’t buy him a ring.

There were many players who once wore the Blue Jays uniforms but the amount of love and passion Roy displayed to the city of Toronto is unmeasurable. He loves the Blue Jays, he loves the city of Toronto and he loves his Blue Jays fans. I am happy that he retires as a Toronto Blue Jays. I am sure the team will honor him so he can join the rest of the Level of Excellence such as Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar at the Rogers Centre and he deserves the recognition 120%!

Although he never won a world series ring but he has an excellent track record and stats to back it up. I hope he will be elected to join the Cooperstown in the near future! Thank you Roy “Doc” Halladay for everything that you did for this city! I am proud of you and proud to be a Toronto Blue Jays fan.

Love what you read? Follow me on “MoVernie Lifestyle on the MOVE”.

Roy Halladay

Roy Halladay

UFC Jon Jones at Gentlemen’s Expo – (Me Getting Autograph – Feel Good Story)

 

Current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon “Bones” Jones was one of the special guests at first annual Gentlemen’s Expo that was held at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre this past weekend.

A large crowd of fans were already seated ahead of schedule, making sure that they got good seats to see Jon Jones in person. A few minutes later, Jon Jones stepped onto the stage. Everyone was cheering and applauding for his presence. Jon was a very friendly, down-to-earth guy and he was just straight up hilarious. He greeted the fans with his signature smile and his great sense of humour. You know he really appreciate his fans for coming out to support him.

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The 1-hr long session was hosted by both UFC Showdown Joe and Gentlemen’s Expo Host, Todd Shapiro and they talk about Jon Jones previous UFC fights and also his sense of fashion style and lifestyle as a gentlemen.

It was then followed by a Q&A session for fans to ask Jon’s questions.

After the session was over, fans were allowed to lineup at the NewEgg.ca Exhibit to wait for Jon Jones so that they could take a photo with him or seek an autograph from him.

As part of the media, I would have love to interview one-on-one with Jon Jones, but knowing there were lots of media outlets, the Gentlemen’s Expo organizer could only accommodate a handful of media to get that interview opportunity. I wasn’t granted one but I totally understood the situation so I was fine with snapping photos and videos of Jon Jones to share with my audience (hopefully, next year, I will get the interview opportunity).

As media, there is also an unwritten rule that media shouldn’t be seeking autographs from celebrities or the speakers, which totally makes sense and understood. But as you know, part of my MoVernie Mission is to get autographs from celebrities so that I can donate the autograph items to charitable organizations so they can raise money via silent auctions or raffle prizes. All proceeds raised will be donated to people that are in need.

So…I decided to lineup as if I am just another fan, just like the rest of everybody. I guess Jon Jones interviews took longer than expected. We all waited for more than 1 hour of our time. Lots of peeps gave up and left, but I couldn’t, I really wanted to get the autograph for charity and I don’t give up easily either.

After more than an hour, you could hear the cheers by the crowd. Then, you know Jon Jones had FINALLY arrived at booth. He was interviewed by the TV Host from Newegg.ca. Then he started greeting fans. The lineup moved slowly and after 30 minutes, I am closer to booth.

The difficult moment strike. The staff lady told me that due to the relative long lineup, I can either take a photo with Jon or get an autograph from Jon, it’s an EITHER OR situation. It was tough man! I mean, for me personally, a photo is worth a thousand words. I would like to take a photo with the champion. But on the other hand, I ain’t going to bring this item for nothing and not get anything autographed. Besides, my mission is for charity.

The lady pressed “You have to make your decision now, what it’s going to be?” It was tough. BUT you know what? I chose for the autograph, it was where my heart was, I wanted this to be autographed for charity. Charity takes priority.

Jon Jones overheard my conversation with the staff lady and here was the conversation between Jon Jones and me.

The MoVernie-Jon Jones Conversation:

Jon Jones (playfully laughing at me): “Dude! You are media, why are you lining up? You could have interviewed me or get autographs backstage, you don’t even need to lineup, hahahaha”

MoVernie: “Jon, see! Even as media, I couldn’t squeeze an interview with you, mind an autograph, I am lining up to get one for charity”

Jon Jones: “Sure you do, you are lying” (Jon was all laughing, joking and playfully saying that, but you know deep down, he was having fun and appreciate my effort).

MoVernie: “It’s part of my mission to give back to charity, it’s something I wanted to do”.

Jon Jones: “I am ONLY teasing you. It’s great you are doing this for charity, keep up the great work! Hand him your camera so he can take a photo of us”

The “him” that Jon was referring was his manager, he wanted me to hand my camera to his manager. At this moment, Jon was concentrating on signing his autographs on my item with my gold marker, and I handed my camera to his manager to snap a photo of us.

Jon Jones: “Here you go! Listen, the autograph is still wet & not dry, make sure you don’t smudge the writing.”

MoVernie: “Jon, thanks for this. Anyone who benefits from the charity will thank you”

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From this entire autograph and photo experience, I got to see the good hearted side of Jon Jones. Although, we often see him smashing and striking an opponent on the violent Octagon, he is also an ordinary person just like us off the stage and just being a humble, friendly person.

What strike me was that, despite the gold marker wasn’t as functional and smooth as it could be, Jon needed to write extra hard before the ink can come out. He didn’t got mad or pissed or anything. Instead, he took his time to make it look legible.

And for him to instruct me to ensure to keep the autographs dry and not get any smudge, it showed you how much he cares about every detail and how much precision he wants from everything that he does and he also know this item is for charity that he wants to give his best autograph to the charity. That what hits me the most.

It was a feel-good story and I really enjoyed the process and the autograph experience. I wish Jon Jones his continual success on the UFC Competition. Toronto has a place for him as he had won his titles here in Toronto. This city treats him very well.

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UFC 166: Kyoji Horiguchi Winner by way of TKO

It’s a great night when an Asian UFC Fighter won his UFC166 debut fight. Congratulations to Kyoji Horiguchi on his very successful UFC: Ultimate Fighting Championship debut – Winner by way of TKO, rd 2, 3:51.

At this point, all I could think of is the latest track by Justin Timberlake – TKO. Check out JT’s video at the bottom of this blog! Follow my blog if you like what you saw! Thank you!

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Drake is the Raptors Global Ambassador

On Monday, the Toronto Raptors had a triple good news to share with its fans. They had their media day, as well as being awarded by the NBA to host the 2016 All-Star Game in Toronto and also introduced Global Icon Rapper, Drake to be the Raptors Global Ambassador. 

It’s a great day for Raptorsfans and people living in Toronto. It sure pumps me up and I look forward to this upcoming season and many seasons ahead! Let’s go Raptors! Let’s get some “Headlines” going!

Check out some of the nice beautiful photos of Drake and the Media Conference below.

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Drake Sent Email Message to Raptors Season Tickets Holders

When I went home  and checked my email, the subject line showed “A Message From Drake”, I got super excited and opened the message. It was a 24 seconds short clip from Drake in his Tom Ford suits & tie that he was wearing during the media conference today. It was short and crisp but it was a great message. It’s a great day to be a Raptors Fan with Drake becoming the Raptors Global Ambassador and NBA rewarding Toronto to host the 2016 NBA All-Star Game.

Let’s go Raptors!

Check out the Drake message by clicking here.

“Follow” my blog if you like what you are reading. Thanks for your kind support!

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Drake a great fit for the Toronto Raptors

Throughout this past weekend, rumours were everywhere as people were talking about the potential partnership of Canadian Rapper sensation, Drake, partnering with the one and only Canadian NBA team, the Toronto Raptors. The details of their partnership are still being discussed and tight-lipped but I think it’s a great direction the Raptors are going.

Ever since, the new president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & EntertainmentTim Leiweke arrived in Toronto, the culture of the sports franchise has changed in the positive direction. He hired new GM, Masai Ujiri, secured the 2016 NBA all-star game (first ever hosted in Canada) and now the rumoured partnership with Canadian rapper, Drake. Things are looking bright for the franchise. Although, one rapper can’t steer the ship, at the end of the day, the end product of the team has to do better on the court to get the hungy-thirsty fans back in seats. But it’s going to happen with the emergence of DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas and fan favourite Amir Johnson and other great additions this summer on the bench.

Here are some points that I think will benefit the Raptorsfans, the MLSE & Drake:

1) Drake is a global music icon, so for those people who still doesn’t know the existence of the Toronto Raptors will get to know the nba team alot more.

2) Drake will launch his clothing line that will have inspiration from the his favourite nba team

3) Drake presence by just sitting at the courtside seats will bring more star power at the ACC

4) Drake will hype up the Raptors team with guys such as DeRozan, Amir Johnson and Rudy Gay all big fan of Drizzy.

5) More giveaways prizes to the home town crowd. Could I see his latest album “Nothing was the same” on opening night? The usual intro music of a Drake track would be nice! How about a Drake half-time show on opening night? That may not be too far fetched.

6) If Jay-Z is the american version of the musician-nba partnership, then Drake would be the musician-Canadian partnership!

As one of Drake latest hit single sums it up “Just hold on, I am coming home!”. Well, Drake is coming home alright, and instyle as well!

See this photo below, Drake posing the Raptor Mascot, get used to this image because you will see him alot more often at the Raptors game in the future!

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Drake posing with the mascot in the NBA, “The Raptor”