Tuesday, 5 March 2013

2013 NBA Playoffs - Who Makes The Cut

                   East                                                                                West
1               Miami                                                             1             Clippers
2              Indiana                                                             2             Thunder
3              Chicago                                                            3             Nuggets
4              Brooklyn                                                          4              Spurs
5             New York                                                         5            Warriors
6               Boston                                                             6            Grizzlies
7            Milwaukee                                                          7             Lakers
8              Atlanta                                                              8            Rockets

** Asterisk **

* Derrick Rose & how he plays WHEN or IF he returns. I personally think he will return with only a handful of games left this season. He will play the only way he knows how & help steer the Bulls to the East Finals. Chicago doesn't need to be perfect to knock off Boston, Atlanta or Milwaukee in the 1st round. A full season playing without the team's best player has only improved this well rounded roster. Now if only MJ would return alongside Rose for one more title run. Oh, & "Defense wins championships".

* Like Kobe said. The Lakers will make the playoffs & with their roster anything can happen. Don't be surprised if they go 7 games against a team like the Spurs or Thunder.

Friday, 16 December 2011


With Chris Paul on his way to L.A. to join the Clippers (not Lakers) and Dwight Howard still too expensive for teams to afford, it’s time to look at the upcoming season.

After a 66 game season, the Eastern Conference playoff picture may look something like this:

1.       Miami (54-12) – A disappointing finish last season has left the Miami Heat out in the cold. LeBron James has admitted he would have done things a little differently regarding his “decision” last offseason. Maybe he shouldn’t have lead everyone on, and maybe he shouldn’t have promised eight championships before he won his first. The second season for the “Tri-scraper” might not be so bad. They will have a lot of pressure to face from the media and fans, but I don’t think it is half as bad as the pressure they put on themselves last year. The Heat showed everyone last season that they are for real! When was the last time a team completely re-structured itself and made the NBA Finals the same year? Well besides the 08 Celtics... If the Heat stay healthy and lock up home-court advantage for the playoffs, 27 year old LBJ may get his first ring.

2.       Chicago (51-15) – With reigning MVP Derrick Rose running (with) the bulls once again, Chicago looks ready to contend for its first Championship since Michael Jordan won six rings and helped Bugs Bunny and the Looney-Tunes escape slavery! “His Airness” had some help winning those titles, mainly from Scottie Pippen. Coming off a disappointing loss to Miami in the East finals last year, the bulls signed 33 year-old, Richard Hamilton.  He has been to the NBA finals twice with the Pistons: 2004 win vs. Lakers, 2005 loss vs. Spurs. I’m not saying “Rip” is going to be as dominant as Pippen, but he will contribute points (career 17.7 PPG). I see him as a legitimate scoring threat especially playing around the perimeter with Rose. Whether or not Hamilton starts or comes off the bench won’t make much of a difference. Especially if you consider the three former “6th man of the year” winners were Odom (14.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG), Crawford (18.0 PPG), and Terry (19.6 PPG). I don’t think the Bulls needed a big piece to the puzzle like some say they did. Look what happened last year, Dallas Won??? Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks worked their way through the Blazers, Lakers, Thunder, and Heat to win their first championship in franchise history. The 2012 Bulls have a similar group of role players who can get the job done.

3.       New York (48-18) – Opposing teams should be intimidated when they visit Madison Square Garden this season. With recently acquired center, Tyson Chandler, the Knicks starting BIG-men are as BIG and athletic as they come (Carmelo Anthony 6’8”, Amare Stoudemire 6’11”, and Chandler 7’1”). They will be an extremely hard team to score on and defend inside. After losing Chauncey Billups, New York added Mike Bibby at point guard and they still have 21 year-old, Landry Fields (9.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG in rookie season) at shooting guard. 

4.       Boston (42-24) – The NBA lockout might prove to be the best thing that could have happened to the aging Celtics (not that Kevin Garnett would agree).

5.       Orlando (39-27) – It won’t be much of a surprise if “Superman” finishes the 2012 season in a different uniform.

6.       Atlanta (37-29) – Always a fun team to watch, but that’s all to expect from the Hawks this season.

7.       Milwaukee (32-34) – If Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut can stay healthy the new acquisition of Stephen Jackson and Mike Dunleavy may be all the Bucks need to sneak into the playoffs and cause some trouble. 

8.       Washington (31-35) – Look for John Wall to lead his team to the playoffs in a breakout sophomore season.

“Battle L.A.” …I mean the Western Conference may look something like this come April 26th, 2012:

1.       Los Angeles Lakers (51-15) –Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian have left Hollywood, which means there are no more excuses for lack of focus from the Lakers. Kobe Bryant will be looking for his sixth championship in 2012. Barring injury, if Bryant averages 25 PPG over the next five years he will pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most points all-time! The lighter 66 game season will be easier on Bryant’s body but not his stats. The Lakers starting five from 2011 remain intact, including Metta World Peace, and although they lost the “6th Man of the Year”, this ball club is always a strong contender come playoff time. The biggest question is whether or not newly named coach, Mike Brown will blend well with Bryant and the Lakers?

2.       Los Angeles Clippers (48-18) – Bring on the highlights! Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will be running the floor together in 2011/2012 but they are not the only reason I have the Clippers finishing 2nd in the West. The recent signings of Chauncey Billups (career 15.5 PPG, 5.6 APG) and Caron Butler (career 16.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG) make this team a serious threat. If this team can stay healthy and build chemistry throughout the season they may be poised to make a run to NBA Finals. Side note: Mo Williams is currently the 3rd option at guard in L.A., with his expiring contract in 2012, don’t be surprised if the Clippers try and trade him away for a valuable center come the trade-deadline. 

3.       Oklahoma City (46-20) – 23 year-old Kevin Durant is about to enter his 5th season as an NBA player. Although he will probably lead the NBA in scoring for the third straight season, and possibly win the MVP award, I feel as though Durant will ultimately be asking the GM, Sam Prestigiacomo for some help when they fall short to L.A. (Lakers or Clippers). In Oklahoma City, the Thunder has been very quiet throughout the lockout. As a result when it comes down to crunch time, I don’t think Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins have enough talent to help Durant lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

4.       Dallas (43-23) – It would be an “awe-inspiring” surprise to see the Mavericks back in the NBA Finals. They have lost a lot of players from their championship team but have also added a few notables in Odom, Vince Carter (career 22.2 PPG) and Delonte West. 

5.       San Antonio (43-23) – When healthy, the Spurs can beat a lot of talented teams. Perhaps the lockout will do more good than harm. 

6.       Golden State (38-28) – This team reminds me a lot of the Thunder a few years ago, watch for Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis to make some noise this season.

7.       Sacramento (37-29) – It’s Jimmer time! Although this season will be all about learning and building chemistry, watch for Tyreke Evans to lead by example and sneak the Kings into the playoffs.

8.       Portland (34-32) – The injury bug has killed the Trail Blazers the past few seasons but they are still deep enough to make the playoffs and maybe win a playoff game or two.

      Fun Fact > Richard Hamilton was handed down the nickname "Rip" from his dad who used to rip off his diapers as a baby <

Thursday, 15 December 2011


            Changes to the Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) Health and Dental Plan opt-out deadline have left some Dalhousie students frustrated and broke.
Unlike previous years the DSU Health and Dental Plan opt-out deadline was required to be completed online by each individual student; no manual requests would be processed. This meant that a student who was used to walking into the DSU Health and Dental Plan office to opt-out was unable to do so.
Another major problem for students was the date and time of the deadline. In 2009 the deadline was three and a half weeks after classes began. This year students only had two and a half weeks to opt-out, something fourth year Dalhousie student, Jodie Ulmanis, knows far too well.
“I missed the deadline by one day and now I am out $253, which sucks! Ironically, instead of appealing online I had to go into the office,” she said with a sarcastic laugh. “Imagine that.”
Like many students, her appeal was processed but declined by the DSU Executive Committee the following week. Ulmanis sent an email to the DSU when she realized she had missed the deadline for the first time in four years.
 “The woman at the desk told me that I had to fill out an appeal sheet so I explained that I am on four different health plans with my parents and step parents and that I really didn’t need Dal’s health plan just to add a fifth, but they still wouldn’t give me my money back.”
The woman at the desk that day was Kirsten Saliste, DSU Health and Dental Plan administrator. She has been helping students fill out appeal forms the past few weeks and has dealt with a lot of complaints concerning declined appeals.
“Applications for appeals do not guarantee refund. If a student’s appeal has been declined then they can proceed with a subsequent appeal.”
The reality of the situation is that if a student does not agree with the first declined appeal then he or she is scheduled for a personal meeting with Michael Kovendi, Chief Financial and Operations Officer of the Union. This is the student’s last chance to be refunded $253.
“It depends on the circumstance but I am not lenient one way or another in my decision to refund students. The meeting is for students who have missed the deadline to begin with… that’s the process.”
During the month of September students are extremely busy resolving class scheduling conflicts, dealing with student loans, and moving into new houses or residences. This year the DSU Health and Dental Plan did not offer students the options they have had in the past.
 Kovendi says, “Changes will be made next fall. We are still looking into problems that need to be resolved. I am not sure on what will change right now, but things will be different with whatever works best with students.”
What if a student is unaware that opting out is even an option? Besides reading over a personal registration fee assessment online, students were only sent one email through their Dalhousie account to warn them of the opt-out deadline.
Gordon Adams is a fourth-year Dalhousie undergraduate who has had his share of problems since arriving in Halifax in the fall of 2007.
“I found out that Dal’s health insurance wouldn’t cover me because I am from Quebec. But even though they don’t cover me they still charge me for the health plan, and I have to opt-out like every other student.”
During his first year, Adams was told by the DSU that if he still wanted to use the Dalhousie Health Centre he would have to keep the school’s health plan. It wasn’t until this year that he found out this isn’t true.
“They never said that I could still use the service if I opted out and I still had to pay for a service that I wasn’t covered for because of where I was from. It’s an annoying process holding onto all of my receipts and having to get my money back in Montreal.”
Adams has used the Health Centre for hepatitis shots and various appointments over the years. He finds it unfair that he needs to go out of his way to opt-out of a plan that doesn’t cover him in the first place. After three years, Adams is without $759.
International and exchange students are also automatically included in a Dalhousie Health Plan when they register. The fees are applied directly to their student accounts but because the Health Plan is “International” the full year plan costs $636 for an individual.
In 2009, Microsoft conducted a study on the most expensive universities in Canada. The article was published on MSN.com. Factoring in tuition, food and living costs Dalhousie University was ranked number one.
But what do the students think?
 “I didn’t really care to be honest. When it comes to money Dal never does anything for their students, so I didn’t expect anything more,” said Ulmanis.
Adams also added, “I am tired of fighting with Dal over money, they can have it.”