Monday Morning Coffee

May 8, 2023

Well here we are again. The Lakers are up 2-1 in a best-of-seven series, getting ready to play game 4 at home. Will Anthony Davis show up in game 4 tonight? He seems to take every other game off. Will Darvin Ham actually have his team prepared to play and not relax against the defending champs tonight? I fully expect the Warriors to shoot better, and play with more urgency and desperation tonight. However, the reality is the Lakers have beaten the Warriors in 5 of the last 7 games since January, and that’s because they match up well against them. The Lakers should continue to dictate the tempo, own the paint, and have the advantage at the free throw line. Oh you think it’s weird that the Lakers are shooting so many more free throws? It’s pretty hard to get to the line when you are launching 50 three pointers a night. By the way the Lakers had the most free throw attempts per game during the regular season, and the Warriors had the fewest, so if you’re surprised at the free throw disparity, you just haven’t been paying attention. The fact Lebron, AD, and most of the starters rested in the 4th quarter the last two games is huge for an older Laker team. Heck, the fact Austin Reaves played while the team was up 26 points should be a human rights violation. If the Lakers are focused though, they can and should win tonight. If not, they will cause themselves some major problems because the Warriors will get 2 of the last 3 games at home, and we know they are a much more dangerous team at home.

Elsewhere around the NBA Playoffs, the Sixers tied their series with the Celtics 2-2. Unfortunately for Laker fans, the Celtics are looking like a good bet to reach the NBA Finals. When Boston loses these days, white people are more surprised than when Hootie and The Blowfish broke up. They’ve still got 2 of the next 3 at home, and James Harden only shows up occasionally for Philly. He balled out yesterday, but he probably celebrated by going to the strip club, which will take him down for a few days. Then there’s the Nuggets and Suns, which is now tied 2-2 as well. I just don’t think the Suns have enough depth behind KD and Booker. They need Kevin Durant and Devin Booker to combine for 75 points every game, and even if that happens, that might not be enough with all the depth the Nuggets have. I have my doubts the Suns can do that two more times in the next three games.

Since the Clippers season ended, Lawrence Frank, their top basketball executive, spoke to the media about the team’s future. He said some interesting things about the teams future, some of which might surprise you. Frank acknowledge that “injuries suck”, and that the team simply needs better luck with keeping their stars healthy. He also said that they plan on continuing to build around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. With that being said, he said they need to take the regular season much more seriously and approach it with a sense of urgency. I’m not sure how Kawhi Leonard and his people feel about this, since they are so insistent on handling him with kid gloves during the season. I also couldn’t help but notice that he declined to say whether both players would be offered contract extensions after next season, when they are eligible. The reality of it is the Clippers have no choice but to take this path. Stars are hard to come by, the Clippers have them, despite their lack of availability. Even if it’s crossed their mind that they want to trade them, nobody is trading for a player that is making over $40 million a year and available for only half the season. The Clippers also have to keep in mind that they are moving into a new building after next season, so they need big names to sell tickets in that building.

USC basketball got some exciting news yesterday. Bronny James, the son of Lebron James, has committed to playing basketball there next season. Bronny’s recruiting has felt more secretive than information about Area 51. It came down to USC, which was close to home, Ohio State which is close to his birth place, and Oregon which is close to Nike. However, since most schools knew this was his mentality, it probably depressed the demand for his services. It’s also surprising that Bronny picked a school that has a lot of wing players he will be competing with for playing time. This is probably also a good time for USC students, alums, and fans to realize that they actually have a basketball team, and that they may want to even show up to some of their games next season.

To baseball, where the Dodgers took 2 of 3 over the weekend against the Padres at Petco, and overall, they have been playing pretty good baseball. They are at the top of the division once again. There’s all these complaints that the Dodgers just aren’t that good this year, and it’s like everybody thinks they are suddenly playing with a bunch of scrubs in their lineup. Max Muncy leads the league in home runs, Freddie Freeman is top 10 in the league in hits, and Will Smith and Mookie Betts are still two of the best players at their positions in baseball on any given day. They all reminded you of that over the weekend. Actually, despite the brilliance of Clayton Kershaw this year, the Dodgers rotation is middle of the pack in terms of ERA. That’s almost unusual for them, but it feels like they will get better as the season goes on. The Padres still look like a team with a bunch of big names that just have hype. For all their talent, at times they simply appear undisciplined, and we’ve seen numerous instances of these big name teams that don’t perform when hit matters. Heck the Dodgers were one of those many teams last year! Danny Lehmann filled in as the Dodgers Manager on Saturday night while Dave Roberts attended his sons graduation. He probably found it remarkably easy to read off the spreadsheet Andrew Friedman provided him. As for Kershaw, there was much talk over the weekend about the Padres putting up a crying meme of Kershaw on the scoreboard on Friday night. Not sure why this is such a story. It’s an opposing teams ballpark. It wasn’t anything wildly malicious. Besides, Kershaw was a man about it, and said if you don’t want to see that then pitch better. It’s sports people. Don’t be soft. People are acting like they insulted his family or something.

As for the Angels, they dropped 2 of 3 to the Rangers over the weekend. The Halos had won 5 in a row prior to that, and just like last season, they are sitting near the top of the division in early May. The difference this season? The Angels feel like they have more depth than they had last season with all their positional players. Their pitching however, is very much a work in progress outside of Shohei Ohtani. Heading into the weekend, the Halos were 16th in ERA with Ohtani. Remove him from the equation, and their ERA goes up significantly. Their bullpen has already account for more than half of their 16 losses as well. That ERA only got worse over the weekend after the Rangers were basically taking batting practice at The Big A the last two days. Still, Perry Minasian seems confident that the Halos have the organizational depth to improve from within on the mound. Up next they’ll get 3 with the Astros, in another important early season divisional matchup.

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