Author: Kurt Helin

Houston Rockets v New Orleans Pelicans

PBT Extra: What teams, besides Cavaliers, are poised for a big leap forward?


The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to be a lot better than the 33-win team of a year ago. About 25 wins better. Adding LeBron James and Kevin Love will do that.

That much if obvious, but what other teams are poised to make leaps forward this season? That’s what Jenna Corrado and I discuss in the latest PBT Extra.

If you’ve been reading here the last few weeks, you know I’m high on the Pelicans this year, I think if any of the eight teams that made the playoffs last season out West slips (due to injury or other reasons) the Pelicans are poised to pounce. Anthony Davis is going to have the kind of season where by the end of it the debate of the third best player in the NBA may be moot.

Two other teams I like to improve are the Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons. In Big D nobody is going to notice until Tony Romo throws three picks and the Cowboys are eliminated early in the playoffs, but the Mavericks are much improved with Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler. In Detroit, Stan Van Gundy will not put up with the chemistry issues that plagued this team last season, he will just yell at them until the issues are solved.

PBT predicts 2014-15 NBA playoffs, champion

Miami Heat Victory Parade And Rally

Finally, the NBA season tips off tonight.

But it’s going to be nearly eight months before we crown an NBA champion… can’t we just skip ahead. Hit the fast forward button and see who gets to hang out with what Clippers owner Steve Ballmer calls “Larry” and the rest of us call the championship trophy?

We here at PBT are trying to help. Yesterday we laid out who we thought would win the end of the year awards. Now it’s time to take a look at who we think makes the playoffs and beyond. Below is a chart of our predictions for 1-8 (and some 9s) in each conference, plus who we think meets and wins each conference finals.

First, the East:


Now the deep Western Conference:


So who wins it all? Here’s our predictions for the NBA Finals:

Kurt Helin: Bulls over Clippers
Brett Pollakoff: Bulls over Clippers
Dan Feldman: Cavaliers over Thunder
Sean Highkin: Spurs over Bulls

LeBron James says Kevin Love will get his touches, but it’s an adjustment

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

Last season LeBron James had to carry the Miami Heat offense, despite the other stars on that squad.

Kevin Love was cornerstone of the Minnesota Timberwolves attack last season.

Kyrie Irving was the Cavaliers offense.

Now all of them are on the same team and they are trying to figure out how three guys used to the ball in their hands can play nice together. Coach David Blatt’s offense helps, there is spacing and good ball movement (at least through the preseason), but still they are not used to letting others have the ball in their hands.

Already Love is saying he needs more touches in the paint. LeBron told Chris Fodor of the Plain Dealer Love will get his but everyone needs to chill a little.

“I think we are all going to go through an adjustment and less touches than we would like. Anytime one of us says something it will get blown out of proportion and I think that got blown out of proportion,” James said following practice on Friday. “I read the clips of what he stressed. The first thing you see is Kevin Love wants more touches and is unhappy, but I’ve had zero reaction.”

LeBron is right, it’s going to be an adjustment for everyone in Cleveland.

It took LeBron’s Heat team basically a season and a half to find its identity, they made it to the Finals but lost in that time. We may see something similar here in the sense the Cavaliers are going to be unquestionably good but teams like the Spurs, Bulls and Thunder have their identity locked in. They know who they are and what they want to do.

We’ll see if the Cavaliers can get there by the start of the playoffs in April.

Charles Barkley says he’s likely to leave TNT in two years when contract ends

2014 NBA Finals Game Three

Inside the NBA is one the joys of the NBA season. Every Thursday night Ernie Johnson tries to play ringleader with Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal in a show that is part hoops, part barbershop, part mocking JaVale McGee and mostly just a must watch part of the NBA.

It wouldn’t be the same without the outspoken Barkley.

But after a couple more years he may walk away. That’s what he said at the TNT NBA season tip-off event in New York on Monday, something attended by Sean Deveney of the Sporting News.

Finally, Barkley said his time as a broadcaster for TNT is nearing an end. He has two years on his contract, and said that the lucrative new deal the NBA signed with TNT (and ESPN) won’t affect his decision to walk away. He did mention that he might change course and stay for an even 20 years, and also expressed an interest in taking a general manager’s job.

“I love my job, I love the people I work with,” Barkley said. “My big decision is, I’ve got two years left on my deal. That’ll be 17 years. That’s a long time to do a job. I would rather leave too early than stay too long. And 17 years is a long time. I told Ernie when I took the job, I was only going to be here four years. Now 15 years later, I’m still here. I’m leaning heavily toward it, toward finishing my two years and leaving on a good note.”

Having heard Charles Barkley expound on players and contracts over the past decade plus on this show, there is zero chance I would give him a shot as an NBA GM.

I appreciate that he wants to try different things, that he wants to find a new challenge. That’s healthy. That spirit is what makes Barkley Barkley.

But for selfish reasons, I want Inside the NBA to go on as it is roughly forever. There is no other sports pre/post talking head show as good (ESPN’s College Gameday for football comes close). It is must watch. It is a great perspective while being incredibly entertaining.

And it wouldn’t be the same without Barkley.

PBT Extra: Who joins Spurs, Cavaliers as title contenders?

2014 NBA Finals Game Five

It’s a safe bet that the NBA champion is going to come from one of five teams.

That’s what Jenna Corrado and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. The Spurs are going to set the bar in the West, to win a title you’re going to have to beat the team that won it last season. The Clippers are in the mix, but we talk about how Durant’s injury could be a setback come the playoffs for the Thunder.

Out East, we talk about how the Cavaliers and Bulls match up. That picture should be much more clear after the All-Star break.

(I think Golden State and Dallas can be dark horse contenders, but they need a lot of things to go right.)