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A Paradigm Shifted

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Rarely are sports more confounding than when Steph Curry plays. Golden State’s wunderkind has a way of turning masterful displays of athletic grace into something as bewildering as calculus or neural science. That’s what his performances are, after all: Riveting studies in the mathematic and cerebral requisites for such ambitious and cutting-edge athletic pursuits, but he does train a lot on a trampoline.

On Saturday, we witnessed the peak of Curry’s personal discovery, the ultimate realization of the power of an earnest mind and enthusiastic soul. His performance against the Thunder, rescuing his team from what seemed a sure defeat at the hands of an eager opponent in one of the few arenas that can turn the “Oracle Effect” against the Warriors, was as demonstrative and elegant as artistic expression gets in the sporting realm.

This game was nearly an odd dramatic turn for the defending champs, what with the third best player on a 52-5 team going on a profanity-laced tirade that required a police inquisition during halftime. On top of that, Curry had has own personal drama to overcome after he exited the game with an injury to his once-troublesome left ankle during the third quarter. Curry returned in the third quarter and proceeded to hit 7 3-pointers during the final three periods of the game. The Warriors were down 11 with five minutes left in the fourth before Curry rattled off two 3s to help the Warriors force overtime, where he added three more 3s, including the breathtaking winner with 0.6 seconds left in the game.

Curry’s final shot might be the most memorable highlight in what has been a season full of peaks for the reigning MVP. On the fateful possession, Curry leisurely trotted up the floor, perfectly aligning his shot and and the clock in his head. When the ball left his hands, the whole arena knew that they weren’t witnessing some desperation heave; this was the shot Curry wanted to take. He sought out a 38-footer and drained it. This was no fluke. This was the latest in a series of expansions of his range, of his potential, of his control of the sport.

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Orlando Makes Tobias Disappear

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Orlando Magic's Tobias Harris makes an uncontested dunk during the final seconds of overtime in an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Orlando, Fla. Orlando won 113-103. (AP Photo/John Raoux) ORG XMIT: DOA108

The Detroit Pistons acquired the NBA’s premier Arrested Development trope, Tobias Harris, from the Orlando Magic on Tuesday for Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova. It was a surprising move in which a burgeoning, yet inadequate, team sent one of the league’s most curious young assets packing for little long term support.

The logic behind Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan’s decision to move on from Harris isn’t difficult to uncover.

Harris was a somewhat disoriented, if not fully formed, member of Orlando’s Blue Man Group, and he is likely the least promising between Orlando’s young tweener forwards (Harris and Aaron Gordon). He is a speculative talent with noticeable strengths and flaws, the troubling bit being that his traits are often contrary to any nominal or progressive forward archetype. He has the athleticism and size to be a stretch four, but his lack of an outside shot neuters his effectiveness at that spot. He is physical enough to punish most small forwards on the block, but he has tunnel vision and a tendency to stop the ball when his number is called.

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Swingman

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The Eastern Conference playoff picture is a bit like the Republican Primary race: A bunch of uninspiring candidates clumped together chasing a runaway tyrant.

Although LeBron James and the Cavs are not quite as unlikable as Donald Trump, James’ unrelenting control of the conference has probably outlived its term in the minds of his eastern foes.

The problem with calling for at least a one-year intercession during LeBron’s reign in the East is the lack of a worthy challenger. The second-seeded Bulls are just four games ahead of the eighth-seeded Celtics and only six games ahead of 12th-seeded Wizards. Just about the only two teams that can be confidently ruled out of the postseason picture are the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers.

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Detroit’s Dynamic Duo

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When the Detroit Pistons traded for Reggie Jackson in February, nobody thought they were uniting two players who would soon combine to form one of the league’s most lethal pick-and-roll combinations. At the time, Jackson was a somewhat maligned talent, someone who appeared to force his way out of Oklahoma City. Andre Drummond was held in higher esteem, but even after Detroit shed itself of Josh Smith, he was still sharing the frontcourt with a fellow low-post behemoth in Greg Monroe.

Fast forward nine months and Jackson and Drummond are running the show for one of the league’s most surprising upstarts: The 5-1 Detroit Pistons. With Monroe sopping up post touches in Milwaukee, Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons are now free to play the spread pick-and-roll game SVG popularized during his tenure with the Orlando Magic, and Detroit is off to the franchise’s best start since 2007-2008.

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Grounded and Pounded

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The Memphis Grizzlies are a bit like your non-major course work in college. You pay a fair amount of attention to them and hope they will do well, but at the end of the day, when the assignments in classes that actually matter begin to pile up, your focus shifts to the more fulfilling subjects.

Everybody likes the Grizzlies. Some may be turned off by their glacial pace or their gladiator-themed offense in an era of fast-paced assaults in transition and from beyond the arc, but everyone respects what the Grizzlies have done while operating against the grain. They’ve pushed superstar-laden teams such as the Thunder and the Clippers in the playoffs, they had the lead on the Warriors after three games in the second round last season and they even managed to grind their way to the conference finals in 2013.

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The Shadow

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Here’s a fun game: Name as many top 30 scorers from the 2007-08 NBA season as you can.

There were quite a few present-day superstars (LeBron, Kobe, Carmelo, Paul, Dirk, Durant, Howard and Bosh), a couple of former superstars that have since aged into role players (Vince Carter, Amare Stoudemire and Richard Jefferson),  some retired all-stars (Allen Iverson, Michael Redd and Tracy McGrady), a number of career scorers (Kevin Martin, Carlos Boozer, Al Jefferson, Antawn Jamison and Jason Richardson), and one guy in particular whose place on the list would make you say “Really?” based on his production in the 2014-15 season.

That guy is Andre Iguodala.

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Our New Digs

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Dear Readers,

As the founder of the But The Game Is On Sports Network, I am proud to announce the uniting of all of network sites into this snazzy new format that will make it easier for our writers and their content to reach your brain. By eliminating the need to go to each individual site to make edits and such, I’ve put everything into one place, and that will increase the productivity of everybody involved with the network.

I am also proud to announce that we are adding a sister site to the But The Game Is On Sports Network: The Red Carpet Register. As its name implies, this new site will focus on the goings on in Hollywood, giving us a perfect blend of content about the two most popular American pastimes: sports and entertainment.

Two of my former high school classmates Kimmie Kasperitis, who is the lead writer, and Brandon Mendiola, who has partnered with the site and will provide us with unique multimedia content on a weekly basis, have joined me on this venture and I am excited to see where it goes. Though it is in its infant stages now, soon The Red Carpet Register will have their own site just like ours, which will strengthen the brand identity we are trying to create. As a warning, given their differing subject matter, the RCR will be a bit more PG-13 than this site.

In addition to these two major changes, I am also introducing a few new features for the site today:

– Brett Koremenos and I will be doing a weekly podcast every Monday to breakdown the latest happenings in the NBA with a focus on the X’s and O’s.

– Our podcast network in general will be more active going forward thanks to some new recording equipment, and I am looking into making Google+ Hangouts a regular part of our content rotation.

– Facebook commenting is something we’ve toyed with over the past few months and now we have integrated it fully into the site.

Lastly, I would like to thank all of the readers for making this site a venture worth continuing and our robust success since launching the network in the past calendar year has been overwhelming.

Regards,

Mark Travis

Founder of the But The Game Is On Sports Network

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