December 6, 2022 | 2:32 pm
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The Baseline: Predicting the NBA’s stretch run

This week we discuss what we are watching for with teams making a final push towards the Regular Season finish line. We also discuss if Demar DeRozan is the front runner for NBA MVP

Cal Lee 01:01
This is the baseline discussing the hot button topics of the end. Be a welcome everybody you’re tuned to the baseline Callie Warren Shaw Jabari Davis discussing the hot button topics of the NBA. We are now on the other side of the NBA season. This is the stretch run. Only a handful of games left I know seems so disappointing. But that only means that there’s more intrigue and a lot of basketball still left to be played and while he seems are running themselves out, we still have contracts, buy them out season left to go. A lot of teams are pretty much in Dugan with what they have is their roster. And I think health is the only thing to take into consideration as we start rounding into form about the teams that are going to basically be competing for the 2021 22 NBA Playoffs. But with that being said that still means that there’s still some things to discuss. So let me go ahead and roll out the red carpet to my peoples Big Kahuna PNC my man Mr. Warren sharp and out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And the traveler of all things knowing NBA my man mr. Jabari Davis is doing this thing. What’s good fellas.

Warren Shaw 02:10
Excited brother. As you alluded to man, this last stretch from the NBC is it gonna be a lot of fun. Our guy JD picked out some great topics for us to discuss today. So I can’t wait for our fans listeners to dig into it. Man. I’m excited as always, JD was poppin. Brother.

Jabari Davis 02:24
Man, you guys know you guys remember that old? It’s a Disney movie, but it was controversial. Remember the program? Remember when the big sinner he was used to say I’m gonna paraphrase it essentially sound to put the kitties and doggies or puppies to sleep? That’s what this the oh, that’s what the second half, you know, feels like, you know, the, what you just alluded to Warren, we’re well beyond the second, you know, like the technical second half. But for the playoff push, give me all of it. Yeah. And

Cal Lee 02:49
look, I know that there are your baseline storylines that have to be discussed. And they’re going to be discussed at nauseum. But that’s not our role. That’s not our job. Our job is to comprehensively put things in his perspective about what this stretch run is going to mean. You know, really for the competitive nature of the NBA, and what our expectations are going to be for what should be really a a genuine ending finality to the regular season and the high anticipation what seems to be and what is gearing towards being a very competitive NBA playoff push. So like, you know, it’s it’s all good. I know a lot of people are coming off of what seems to be a half and half feel about NBA All Star Weekend. But no one really, really cared about that. I think they just recognize that this was the pausing moment for the star players. And now the star players recognize that this is it, man, if there is ever a time for you to figure out whether or not your team is going to man up and actually put themselves in position to be playing or participating in these NBA Playoffs. Now is the time for them to step up and make it happen. And by all considerations, the NBA, I don’t think that they anticipated them to fall like on the good side of great matchups. But you can make the argument that in the last few days, man, some of these matchups that are taking place are almost NBA playoff caliber type matchups. Would you guys agree?

Warren Shaw 04:12
Absolutely. I mean, as we’re recording, where by the time this comes out, the Miami Chicago game would have already happened, so to speak, but you know, match up the number one and number two teams and these conference here, just some teams that you might not would expect to be in this situation. I think that’s gonna be a great one for this upcoming week. Obviously, Golden State and all the things that are doing Milwaukee, Brooklyn. So there’s a lot of great things and hopefully Ben Simmons gets cleared to come back hopefully for that March 10 game, but we’ll see because he’s dealing with some back issues right now. But I think the NBA maybe has stumbled or maybe they do plan as we don’t know, to some great matchups going into the stretch run as you alluded to

Cal Lee 04:46
Sneaky sneaky man. Sneaky sneaky. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. So we got a few things that we obviously want to dig into. But then we have on our subjects of the breakdown. We’re going to probably push out a few things that we’re probably going to be looking at on this Second half push what what would we what would we what would you be looking for or forward to with regards to the outcome, what your eyes and your heart and your mind is telling you about what we believe may be taking place and what we’re expecting to take place with this final push for this playoff run. So we’re definitely going to get into that. But obviously, we got to get into some news and notes but as we do, we got to make sure we do the plugs properly. So as always, be sure to get on the show as your sports MBA. Get me a game face Lee the show’s tour to handle also Ahmed Jabari Davis, Jabbar, Davis NBA, the show’s twitter handle at NBA baseline, you know where to find this, if you love the baseline or you want to catch more episodes of the baseline, one way you can do that is by going to www dot the baseline You can also use your whatever listening platform you use to listen to podcast is put the baseline in your search engine and then add us on and allow us to be your go to resource discussing all things happening in the association. As you know, the baseline rolls with the 19 Media Group family 90 Media Group runs these content streets, whether it’s sports, entertainment, music, culture, you name it, we got it. So be sure to go to www dot 90 media To catch a listing and also add on some of the great content that is being rolled out right now. There’s so much good stuff happening from our peoples man family. They know what they’re doing. And they are great voices to what’s happening out there in the world. So do not deny yourself some listening edification, be sure to check out 19 media Alright, so let’s get right into some things that is happening right now in the association. First things first, Chris Paul, out six to eight weeks with a fractured thumb. Obviously a lot of people saw that this was about as good as an opportunity was going to be for Chris Paul to be an NBA MVP finalist finally, and then for this to happen just totally sucks. Let’s start with uj D man, what’s this impact like for the Phoenix fans recognizing that one of the most important COGS is going to be out for a number of games, you think this will impact their ability to maintain the number one position in the Western Conference? And will this impact the Phoenix Suns ability to continue to keep a stranglehold? As far as the whole entire NBA goes?

Jabari Davis 07:15
Well, admittedly, I’ve got a little bit more about this exact situation, you know, that I’ll save for the breakdown. But honestly, I just hate seeing this for CP three, you know, I know that six to eight week timeline, it should put him back in action for the playoffs. But it really just feels like we see this time and time again with him. And that’s not to be critical. It’s not like saying like, it’s his fault or anything like that. But I’m just saying it has to be frustrating for a guy that still you know, you still got to be what wind up being considered one of the all time greats disposition, your whether he winds up winning the ring or not. But that has to be frustrating. But to answer your question more directly without spoiling the breakdown section. I do think that I think they’ll be okay. And what I am what I mean by that is specifically because they’ve been so dominant over the course of the year, because they’ve been so consistent even through all of the different struggles and and different issues that they’ve had to overcome over the course of this season. They’ve you know, they’ve, they’ve amassed a six game lead in last in the last column. So I personally think there’ll be okay, what about you more?

Warren Shaw 08:13
Yeah, I’m 100%. On board with you there. JD I think one of the things that this organization has shown in the last two years specifically, is that they’re extremely well run. They’re making smart moves. So even things they did at the trade deadline, so to speak in getting an errand holiday kind of prep prepared them, you know, for what could potentially be there was no real reason for them to get hurt all day. But they did. And hey, now here’s a guy now we’ll be able to help in addition to campaign coming back as well to it. So for Peyton on the roster, so there are still three point guards there. DEVIN BOOKER is going to handle the primary playmaking duties so we’ll give a guy like Cameron Johnson more opportunities now to kind of, you know, get hit Get some chops underneath him as well, too. And as JD alluded to, they just have such a big lead and Golden State is still injured without Draymond Green. I don’t think anybody’s going to jump up and bite them at this point right now. So it sucks for CP. But I think Phoenix is going to be alright.

Cal Lee 09:00
Yeah, Phoenix I think is going to be I think they’re going to be good. I think two things really come from this. I mean, you can look at this and be like, oh, man, this is a really horrible situation, you certainly don’t want your best are arguably the heart and soul and one of your best players to not be playing significant games down the stretch. But this is why you win the games when you’re supposed to win them so that you can build the kind of lead that you have. And I really think this should be beneficial for the Phoenix Suns because we really need to see what level now Monty Williams as a coach can take his game to we want to see where DEVIN BOOKER is. Because if everything is going to be dependent upon Chris Paul, and you’re telling me that without Chris Paul, this team can’t win a championship and I’m going to tell you right now they’re not going to win the championship. Okay, cuz we’ve seen last year, Chris Paul basically gave everything that he has and at some point, even a 37 year old man can only give you so much. He has to do that in order to elevate the rest of these guys to step up and a comment and compensate for what he cannot further give you that, you know, that is expected of him. Now, for me, that meaning of itself is DEVIN BOOKER, Cameron, Cam Johnson, who I think is upcoming McHale bridges, John, Dre and Montel. Monty Williams, all of these guys have a rare opportunity to take this time that Paul is away and elevate themselves to make the necessary adjustments, so that they can be codependent and not solely dependent on Chris Paul when he comes back, because they’re going to need that if there’s any expectations for them to really allow us to buy into them being championship contenders. Because right now, I’m going to say these guys are probably going to be as good as to get to the finals. I don’t know if whether or not they can or can’t win. I do know that they have the best matchups against the rest of the other teams in the Western Conference. But I’m not going to be completely sold yet, even if they make it to the NBA Finals, that they would be the outright winners. I still think that there are teams in the Eastern Conference that I think are better, and a better well coached until I see all of these things kind of come to fruition. So to me, this is a good time as any for the six to eight weeks to really see the Phoenix Suns elevate themselves to say we can still make these type of runs without Chris Paul, then when you get Chris Paul, they will even be that much more solid. And I think they need that.

Warren Shaw 11:19
I think that well said it will suck. Alright, so

Cal Lee 11:21
let’s go ahead and move on to the next item out in Orlando marquel. Fultz will finally return to action after being away for more than a year. He suffered a torn, torn ACL I believe it is right to an ACL injury. And listen, I’m happy for this kid. I know that Atlanta magic is probably happy. I don’t know if whether or not it’s going to change the landscape of the youth movement that you’re seeing from the Orlando Magic. So Shawn, I want to point it to you. What does it mean for marquel folks to finally make his return? What does that impact going to be like for the Orlando Magic? Or is it really more about his return and what we can expect to see from him for his future?

Warren Shaw 12:03
I think it’s the ladder just you want to get him out there. And you know, kind of getting back out there and getting the reps and making sure that he’s good to go. This is a team that’s competing for the number one draft pick at this point right now. I think they’re 14 wins as we’re recording. So you know, they’re in a three horse race for the worst record in the NBA at this at this stage. And that’s fine. Because when it came out, I was interested. I was like, Well, damn, I’ve been wondering where the hell is this guy? Is he coming back? Same thing with Jonathan Isaac’s, like, these dudes alive. Like what are we doing here? But it’s interesting. More so from the point guard standpoint, because success there cool. Anthony’s come onto the scene is like, Yo, this is my team. I’ve been I’ve been rocking out. So I’m wondering where the minutes really are. And again, he they’re gonna be working back from injury. So he’s not coming here and expecting to start and do all you know, play 30 minutes a night, but I’m just kind of interesting how they manage the minutes and where he does play because they do have a pretty robust guard rotation already as his JD, what are your thoughts? We see the false news, if you will? I’m back. He came out there like Mike Jordan, he know saying that he’s back. I think on a podcast over the weekend.

Jabari Davis 13:00
Yeah, McKubre, would you when I saw the video, okay, I’m gonna be completely upfront. It wasn’t, you know, it was an up close shot. So I was first at first I was like, Who is that? Oh, that’s marquel Foltz. Oh, okay. He’s announcing he’s back. That’s cute. Alright, that’s cool. I’m really not honestly, I’m really not sure what to expect it or even if it’s fair to have a ton of expectations for a guy that let’s keep it real. He’s played just 113 games since he was drafted back in 2017. That’s not shade. That’s fact, you know that, you know, the T, as you alluded to the team is dead last in the Eastern Conference. So you’d, you’d hope that he’d still get plenty of opportunities. But again, as you just mentioned, you know, you have a bit of a log jam in the backcourt with several guys competing for the same minutes and opportunities at both positions, you know, and Eva, and those guys who’ve been in the mix already this year. So more than anything, I would just say, Please just stay healthy keel. You know, he’s still under contract, if I’m not mistaken for another year after this. So it would be great to see him be able to at least just put together a stretch where I’ll pose whether it’s his own team or opposing for an officer’s can see, okay, he’s solid. He’s back. Let’s take let’s take a flyer on a moving forward,

Cal Lee 14:02
man. When I think about what’s happening with Marco Fulton his career man it’s kind of weird and twisted. But you know, when a keep throwing out that whole thing Steph Curry ruined the game. You know, Marco Foles could have been like one of those people standing on a soapbox telling you ruin my damn career. Right? Because what was the knock on Marco folks? He could not shoot the basketball. Right? And and look at like, what look how quickly we ostracize marquel Fultz as a point guard but we’ve given a pass to Ben Simmons. Look how long Ben Simmons has been skating on the fact that this dude doesn’t shoot. And you know, the problem is Marco Fultz was never afraid to shoot the basketball. He just did not have the sound techniques to shoot the basketball, right? And so now, all of these injuries and everything that’s happened to him, I hope he really does get an opportunity for him to showcase his talent and his skills. I think the the evolution of the point guard position has changed so that I think there’s space for Marco falsifies his footing he just needs to stay healthy to do it. Now I don’t know whether or not that’s what the Orlando Magic. But I do hope that if the Orlando Magic can address anything more than anything, it’s the fact that if you’re going to give a man a chance, give the man a damn chance if you’re not living let allow him to move the hell on. And let let him go out there and prove to teams that he is a capable point guard. Hopefully his health will allow him to take him to that place. But if nothing else, he can definitely be a role player. We’ve seen flashes of Marco fullz be the kind of guard that I’m sure a lot of teams could certainly would probably want to even say this to the New York Knicks fan base, right like you desperately want to point guard, like Marco fields could be a good guard, he’s not there to shoot the basketball. He’s there to position guys to get shots and to penetrate and get into paint something that a lot of guards seem afraid to do right now because all they want to do is shoot the damn basketball. So if I’m hoping anything, is that marquel Fultz gets a genuine opportunity. He gets a good run. And he finds himself right in the center of things in the conversations of being one of those types of guards that you want to look towards adding onto your roster to hopefully contribute to something that’s going to be successful for your teams or organizations. Alright, so let’s do a little quick buy or sell right now. Our Boston Celtics shot they are winners nine out of the last 10 As we’re recording this podcast, fresh off of NBA All Star Weekend they basically wax the Brooklyn Nets even though they’re not 100% I’ll take the wins as they come which is allowed the Boston Celtics to be re entered into the conversation but are we believers or are we cheap achievers on the Boston Celtics?

Warren Shaw 16:42

Cal Lee 16:46
and I’m gonna let you answer this one shot like should we buy into the fact that the Boston Celtics are legit legit? Or you know, are we are we just smoking on something and we just hallucinating on the on the idea of what the Boston Celtics could be?

Warren Shaw 17:01
Well, without giving too much away I think it’s just it’s kind of a product of the Eastern Conference right now. Like there’s a lot going on in the East End. Shots a JD I gave him props on the on the timeline not too long ago. I said Damn. He said at some point, he wouldn’t be surprised to see them when 910 and shit here we are right. This is a team that has figured out a way to play defense more more than anything else. And that isn’t going to get you very far in the NBA. This is just one of those situations. But ideally as well, too. They figured out some other offensive struggles as well too. They are the second best team since the turn of the new year like the New Year, the calendar year only behind the the aforementioned Phoenix Suns they are second in defense, their first since first and even since the New Year as well to a lot of things have just turned around for them. They’ve also gotten healthy and had a little bit more consistency when their lineups. But when people have been out, they’ve just they just they’ve all been able to pick it up. So I think this is a team now that is Dare I say I they’re not a contender, but they are definitely a team that can threaten to get into the second round and maybe maybe get into a conference finals, so to speak, but that’s all going to be dependent on matchups, you know, I think a lot of teams are going to be angling for those Cleveland Cavaliers and so forth and so forth. But this this Boston team is again, big surprise me. I’m just very cautious about my optimism with them. They’ve played who’s in front of them and they’ve beaten those teams. But that wasn’t the case in December and in November, so I don’t know. I’m a little nervous, but I’m glad to see it happening. JD What are your thoughts

Jabari Davis 18:27
on it, man? Yeah, I’m gonna keep it real. I really just put it on the docket so that YouTube could get off some happiness and do Celtic rants for for once this year. Because honestly from the outside looking in, it’s good to see you DOCA system and his style of play taking hold, you know, in such a positive way for the Celtics pour one out for the ghosts of Dennis Schroder and whatever outlet that was that was trying to calm the Lakers for letting them slip away to greener, greener pastures, earlier in the year. But you know, I, I look at this as Hey, they finally look like the team that I anticipated coming in, or at least that I hoped for. But when let me ask you guys this as as I as an honest Celtics fan, because to be honest with you, it’s one of the things that I’ve actually appreciated and respected the most out of you guys. You are not you’ll you’ll fanatics in the sense of like, oh, doesn’t matter bleed green does, you’re actually pretty, you know, pretty straightforward, and very balanced on it. What would be a good run by fair, you know, by fair terms, by fair standards for this team.

Cal Lee 19:24
You want me to answer that first show? Yeah, absolutely. A good run would be them getting to the semies. Now, I’m not saying if they don’t that this season is absolute fail, or look, the fact that they’re even 10 games above 500 As we’re recording this podcast to me was was a feat because I really thought that this would be a middling basketball team. I don’t know where the where the end will be. Because I think a lot of this is going to be predicated on the chase to get into the playoffs and right now, the Celtics sit right in the middle. There’s like six teams right now hanging around with 36 wins, right? So my thing is, and it’s always been figuring out what kind of team you really want to be moving forward. And I think the greatest challenge for you dhoka is recognizing that he has found a way that he can get both Tatum and brown to get off and do their thing. And do it with still a lack of stability at the point guard position. Okay, and they got away with it with the experimentation of Dennis shrewder. Okay, so that, to me speaks more volumes about docos principle and the fact that the guys are buying into it. And it’s leading to them winning basketball games that quite frankly, I think it’s shocking, you know, if I want to speak for you, but quite frankly, their games that this boss sells is really no business win. Okay? Only because if we’re talking about what the Celtics used to be previously, before, they’re not executing in in that same way, and that’s a good thing, because they can’t win that type of way any longer. They’ve got to find ways, and they’ve got to make those adjustments. And the fact that you Doka is putting that team in a position to do that, I think is exactly why the Celtics are where they are. So if they get to the second round, I’m happy for them to get knocked out. No disappointments here. But if you’ve gotten this far, only to find yourselves hanging around and probably playing in the playing tournament, then I’ll probably start thinking that this was a little bit more of a failure, because if you still look at that roster, there’s still a very talented roster, they should be in the mix. I have no, I have no, I have confidence that they’re going to be a playoff team. I just want to make sure that I’m setting the right expectations about the competitive nature of how the Celtics match up against the rest of the other teams who obviously done more to bolster their rosters. And to me, I think that’s going to catch up with them when you start dwindling down to less the rest of those teams that are going to be in the playoff picture.

Warren Shaw 21:42
Well, without giving too much away, I think I said it just goes back to the east, right. And Cleveland is not where anybody thought they were going to be. And Brooklyn is not where anybody thought they were going to be as we record and those two things are a little bit kind of weird at this at this stage. So don’t know where Brooklyn ends up, so to speak. But if Boston were to end up in a first round matchup with Cleveland, I’d expect them to to win that game. Not easily. Not not that game that series rather, I wouldn’t expect to be easy, but I’d expect the experience to win out and then get into the second round. If they get matched up with Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia or your defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. And they lose. That’s like you said how that’s not that’s not disappointing, or some BS matchup, they end up with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn selfie. That wouldn’t be disappointing. It’s just how things kind of fell. So the he says are very, very, very weird shape. Again, I think getting the first round against Cleveland would be expected anybody else? I think it’s just gravy. So no, no over expectations on the on Team Green here on my side at all.

Cal Lee 22:38
Any final thoughts there though? JD I that was a very good question. I think that you were able to kind of inject into the mainstream of the conversation. So I’m looking for Laker levity here.

Jabari Davis 22:49
I got you, I got you. The reason why I specifically asked is because you’ll so many so often as fans, we go into it like, oh, it’s championship or bust? Well, that’s not always realistic. Yes, of course, they’re out there competing. But you know, sometimes you get sometimes you have to take the war and approach you have to be to be more grounded, be more centered. So I hear we’re both of you guys are coming from I would probably agree. If you if you get to the playoffs that that ultimately is a success for a first year head coach, if you get out of the first round. I definitely think that’s it. I think that’s even I think that’s above and beyond what you could have in your realistically anticipated. So props to the Celtics for getting it together. What’s up with my

Cal Lee 23:28
well, you know, John has always been the diplomat of the crew. So, I mean, that was expected. Yeah, I’m saying Oh, yeah. So I we appreciate you bring levity to the situation. JD Thank you very much. You’re doing to the baseline Callie Warshaw, Jabbar Davis discussing that but topics of the Envy a. Alright, final News notes we want to get into the Marta Rosen, D row talk. Okay. And it’s good talk. If you’re a Chicago Bulls fan, you probably are talking about it about as loudly since 2010 2011. Something something like that nature. When was the last time that we started talking about Chicago bull being an MVP conversation, Derrick Rose. He is having a hell of a season. And kudos to Billy Donovan figuring out a way to put him in the best position possible to give you the kind of numbers that he’s giving you. But the martyr Rosen is just a force. And to to basically his play is kept the Chicago Bulls at the top of the food chain in the Eastern Conference. So JD, I’m gonna start with you. Is it you know, believe a believer that we’re talking about the rod Martirosyan as an MVP finalist, MVP candidate or Chiba Chiba

Jabari Davis 24:49
Oh, it’s believe over here. Look, whether it’s yoga, yo yo, kitchen, be de Rosen Yanis I don’t care which order you have them in as long as those are the four guys that are in your conversation. You know, EVP You know, we know it’s oftentimes it’s built on you know as much of a given players narrative pushing them over the top when especially when the numbers are relatively close. And you know, honestly beyond shutting up a whole lot of folks and proven how great of a player you can be. And I’m speaking of the Rosen here, he’s already had three or four big time like buzzer beater moments. You know, he just snap the, you know, he just snapped the longest stretch and pulls history of a player averaging at least 35 points and shooting 50% Or better, and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon. So I think it’s well past time to put him in that conversation. Am I crazy? Am I am I am I showing my if my show my brother, my excuse me, my fellow Southern Californian, too much love or is that right? Warren? Well, I

Warren Shaw 25:41
mean, he’s fourth and score points per game. So if you would have told me coming into year, he’s averaging more than Steph Curry, even Jason Tatum and like I get out of here. But he’s fourth in scoring this year. And he’s actually 11th in efficiency. And that’s I mean to Marta Rosen has never been a super efficient player but 11th overall and player efficiency this year with a team that’s you know, fighting for a top seat in the Eastern Conference. Yes, it’s a wild year in the east but it’s not a it was the thing about it’s not a down here in the east, everybody’s good in the east. So that makes it even more and more exciting. So I agree with you. He’s he’s he’s got to be in there. And I think we’ve been saying this for a little while as well. You know, he’s in the top five and whatever the case would be, there’s no chance he could win. I don’t know for at that same stage right now with exactly what you just laid out there. JD you know, these 30 Point games this streak and what’s happening the fact that Levine has been out as much as he has been no Caruso, no Caruso, rather no ball, etc, etc. And they continue to win games. His case is as strong as any. And while I still don’t think he has the narrative and the media appeal, so to speak, he’s still kind of even a low key as a as a as an individual. He’s very much deserving to be in top 123 consideration easily for this for this MVP, situation. Cow final thoughts on it?

Cal Lee 26:52
Easily top four and I think he actually he’s, he’s you sir Steph. Obviously Steph is fallen off. He’s usurped Yan Isata compo. Okay. Oh, shit. I honestly think that he’s usurped Ionic. And let me tell you why. You remember when we had this conversation a little while back when I said, if you’re the Milwaukee Bucks, your focus is getting yourselves ready for your playoff run right to defend your chip, right. And if the Chicago Bulls have are hanging around, and they position themselves where they’re really not going anywhere, don’t be surprised if you see the Milwaukee Bucks struggled down the stretch, just to make sure to get themselves healthy for the playoff run. Right. So for the greater good. What we’re talking about is what domata Rosen is doing elevates him to show how important he really is to that basketball team. How important he’s been to that basketball team, right? Because you don’t have Zack Levine you don’t have Lonzo ball, and there’s no indication that these guys are going to be fully ready to go when the playoff happens. Okay, so this play in this stretch of games, the Marta Rosen is by far put him in a much better spotlight, because he’s really working with not as much as the other teams that we’re talking about are in the NBA, our MVP picture. Now I’m not saying Jonas’s numbers are not MVP worthy, but it to me it highlights even more about how important the numbers of demand Rosen has been giving the Chicago Bulls and positioning them to be a better team, not just in the Eastern Conference, but to be the best team coming out of that division right now. You know, I’m saying so that’s the reason why I have them over Yunus now. Do I have them over mbeadh Do I have them over? Yogesh? Not Not quite yet. Okay, we’re gonna have to see how these last handful of games played themselves out cannon beat sustain what he’s given us all throughout the season. We said the same thing within beat. Can he sustain doing it because we flames out after the after the all star break, or the coaches basically start going load management on Joellen beat. Yogesh, same thing can be said Jamal Murray is not on that basketball court. So therefore, are you guys going to load manage your bigs to get them ready for the playoffs? Because they will be in the playoffs? So does that open up the window for DeMarco Rosen to truly be considered an MVP if he continues to keep doing what he’s doing? And it looks like he can do this in his sleep? Because Billy Donovan doesn’t have a choice. So you know you guys tell me and my often my thinking about this. I’m just saying

Warren Shaw 29:18
listen, I listen, I’ll back you up because one of the things you just alluded to we have to take in consideration with the NB factor hardens on exactly so does this now elevate or kind of the masculine in being in some ways when it comes to that conversation and again, if we want to reward winning as we often kind of want to do even Yanis this team is you know third fourth in the East right now actually I think the fifth and he says we’re as we’re having the conversation right so yeah, I have to Rosen can keep his team at one or two in the Eastern Conference with this level of production. It’s not hard to see where the case could be made for him to actually win this damn thing because even yo kitch despite the numbers and his team is not near the top of the Western Conference. Again I don’t think the narrative is going to get there. But the argument is firmly in place if you want to reward winning at the highest level and Jim Rosen is doing just that JD close us out. Yeah, I

Jabari Davis 30:11
mean, I can’t disagree with any of you guys, you know, quite frankly, you know, the I think I feel like the back and forth is better when Cal and I disagree on everything you just said was gospel, man, I I’m right here with you. So I guess it will be

Cal Lee 30:27
my promise to do better next time for you. JD I promise. I will. I will make sure I will make sure Yeah, give

me something to hate on give me give me something to be like nah, nah, nah.

Cal Lee 30:38
Okay. Exactly. I clearly clearly I missed you guys too much. So that’s, that’s on me. That one’s on me. Coming up, we got our subject of the break down. We’re actually gonna give you a few things that we are looking forward to with regards to the second half push. Hopefully it might trigger some thoughts about what you might be looking forward to and what your expectations are of players and teams in the second half of this, the second half last mad dash of the regular season before we start talking playoff talk. So you don’t want to miss out on this some more here on the baseline.

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Cal Lee 32:12
Time to break it down put the time now for the breakdown Callie Warren Shaw Jabari Davis discussing the hot button topics of the NBA our topic for the breakdown. So what are the things that we would be looking forward to in the second half push of the regular season and ultimately, the stretch run for the playoffs? I’m going to start with my man JD, you are in the leadoff spot, sir. Give us one thing that you are definitely looking forward to. You’ll be tracking over the second half of the season or the second half push of the season.

Jabari Davis 32:45
Well, I appreciate you letting me get my bread Butler. Oh man, here we are. We are so honestly one of the things that I’m definitely looking for one of these I’m definitely looking forward to is can the Cavs become this year’s hawks and make a deep run? Obviously now that carries is in the fold. You know, they’ve been a fun story all year, you know, surprising to say the least for various reasons. But now they find themselves in a legitimate battle for home court, not just your playoff positioning home court in the first round, you know that they’re gonna have to battle it out with you know, as the aforementioned your books, you know, your Celtics, you know, I recognize Charisse is an Ohio guy, and you know you for your for the record, he’s from a couple hours outside of Cleveland, I honestly, I’m looking to see, because that can go either way in terms of guys being relatively close in, you know, from a proximity standpoint, you know, to their hometown. But more than anything, I just like him to stay healthy. And you’ll get to see if this could really turn into that fun, that fun playoff push for there. So that the clip, the Cavs and Charis is adjustment is one of the things that I’m looking at.

Warren Shaw 33:45
Yeah, I like that one a lot. And I think for me, it’s it’s probably a holistic approach to the Eastern Conference, including inclusive of the Cavs. So as I was saying here, and the News notes of our section, the fact that these conferences as wide open as it is, is really, really intriguing to me. I’m really interested to see where Brooklyn lands, I’m really anxious to see what ends up happening with the hardened and be pairing so to speak. So obviously, those are all could be kind of individual things. But really, I’m looking at the entirety of these conferences like alright, what’s going to happen here? Yeah, I mean, who’s who, who’s going to be in the plan? And who’s going to get out or the next up out of this situation? Like I don’t know. So for me, you know, without getting too too drawn out, so to speak. It really is the landscape of the Eastern Conference playoff pushes that are really going to be taking a lot of close paying close attention to inclusive of Lowe’s Cleveland Cavaliers that you met in JD Cal, what are your thoughts, man? What’s the first one you have?

Cal Lee 34:35
So the first thing that I think really stands out to me is and you kind of stole my thunder a little bit with regards to the Cleveland Cavaliers being this year’s hawks, I think, what about the Minnesota Timberwolves? You know, you know, this is a team that’s above 500 right now. And when you look at the talent level of this team, they can ride with what seems now to be somewhat somewhat of an opening in the western culture. I want to see whether or not this team is actually a team that’s on the rise, or is it just a plat? Is it just a leaping leaping platform for Anthony Edwards to get his shine on? Ultimately, I think the questions need to be asked, you know, discount want to still be there. You know, I think DeAngelo Russell is making a pretty good argument that as long as he maintains his, you know, you know, himself as a player, does let his ego get the better of them and things of that nature. He’s got a good thing and that pairing between him and Anthony Edwards, it’s fierce man. And I think the key here is, Can big cat kind of put, as they say, in the West Coast, put that pride to the side, can you put his pride to the side and become a better player with that type of dynamic athleticism that you have to work with? In the back court for the Minnesota Timberwolves? And can they make some noise now, again, they’re not on that Memphis grid level, not on the Mavericks level, you know, I’m saying, but I do think that this is a team that can be very exciting down to stretch, and they can certainly continue to plug themselves right into the conversation. They can certainly become a much more interesting conversation than a couple of teams out in the west coast that we don’t want to start making any mentions of I want to see what the Minnesota Timberwolves do for the rest of this stretch.

Warren Shaw 36:18
I think that is an excellent selection. Sorry, Jabari, go ahead.

Jabari Davis 36:24
No, that’s my fault. It’s the delay, because, you know, because I’m on a different platform. But basically, I was just gonna say, Don’t worry, we will be talking about some of those other teams coming up. We will absolutely.

Cal Lee 36:35
I wasn’t trying to, I wasn’t trying to lay shots out, man. You know, I’m saying I was just, I’m just I just wanted to make sure.

Jabari Davis 36:40
I got shots coming for him. But honestly, just really quickly, like, I’m glad that you mentioned Minnesota specifically, I blame us when it comes to certain narratives. And by us, I mean the basketball live in public. The first thing we said was, oh, man, this is Anthony Head. We’re just team now and can keep kept, you know what you’re trying to move on from cat where as when in reality, we should have been saying, isn’t it great, that cat finally has someone else that is also great. And regardless of whether you know what the ultimate hierarchy is, let’s see them develop. I’m glad that Minnesota you know, at least for whatever their reason was. I’m glad that they were patient enough and not you know, not so quick to say like, Okay, well, we have to Out with the old in with the new sorry about that more, and I didn’t mean to cut you off.

Warren Shaw 37:22
No, my only point is just I got I think was a great selection by Carl and that too and exactly that to the basketball role is not paying enough attention to what Minnesota is doing. And again, we want to divide so first and foremost, same thing that was happening with Boston earlier on and when when they weren’t winning, divide the Jays and know hey, there’s an ant man’s team or the Cavs team and who cares about the Angela Russell right, like so. The Minnesota Timberwolves have have shown so themselves to be a very good basketball team. Yes, they’ve been a little bit a little bit of roller coasters too. But Pat Beverley has come in and given them a lot of stability, especially when it comes to their defense. They’re getting production, Otter, Vanderbilt, even Malik Beasley guys like that, too, just like it’s working for a little bit. They’re in Minnesota, and I think they’re going to be a great watch. And there’s not a team that they’re not a team. I want to see if I’m the Western Conference. I’m not excited to play that Timberwolves matchup at all too. So I’ll kick it back to you real quickly. Jabari, your second pick for things to watch out here in this latter latter stretch of the NBA season.

Jabari Davis 38:17
And my second one, you know, like I said, I alluded to it earlier. It’s does DEVIN BOOKER, find another level over the last couple months of the season, obviously, with CP three on the shelf, you know, he’s already quiet and a lot of the unfair judgment from earlier in his career, you know, when many of us and I’m gonna raise my hand because I probably made some of the snide remarks and jokes about it. But many of us attach unrealistic expectations to what we’re ultimately just terrible sons teams, you know, and as your resident Booker guy on this show, at least, you know, shout star guy Tyler from gi you know, but as a booker fan, honestly, I’d like to see him find a way to, you know, to to keep the sun’s atop the Western Conference, especially given as I mentioned earlier, the six game lead that they currently hold in the last column, you know, the month of March will be interesting, and that’s what I’m specifically going to be looking for because they’ve got a lot of games to be honest with you that I definitely expect them to be able to take care of business, obviously, and CB three is absence, but kind of, to the point that I believe it was UCOL earlier in terms of like some of these matchups coming out the back half could get very interesting. They’ve got the bulls, the nuggets, the Sixers and the Warriors each coming up in the back half and down the stretch of March. So it could get interesting, but it should be a lot of fun. I’m, I’m looking forward to them.

Cal Lee 39:25
So I know those are some excellent points. I’m gonna I’m gonna say that the second thing to me is this the beginning of the end for the Utah Jazz. I know this seems like Doomsday, like damn, really. The team is 15 games over 500. But let’s be realistic. They’re not a top two top three seat a team. They don’t play like it. And I think everyone’s now everyone has already has already figured out the Utah Jazz. Unfortunately, the Utah Jazz really has not shown or done anything different over the last couple of seasons. That’s given us the inclination that even if they put themselves in position to be a top three seated team, that they’re going to be a good enough team and is going to find themselves playing in a Western Conference Finals. This is just the way that this team plays still seems to be the type of basketball team that they’re either lucky to get into the second round, or we’ll just be typically bounced out of the first round. Unfortunately, I’m not trying to say that to be pessimistic and negative. But what I’m saying is, is that if that does happen, you then have to start asking the question, the way that this team is constructed, and the way that quin Snyder operates with this team. Is this as good as it is it’s gonna get because right now 37 wins ain’t gonna cut it with the Phoenix Suns at 49. The Golden State Warriors are resurgent. The Los Angeles Clippers right now too many people’s argument might say that if they were to play if the Utah Jazz were to play the Los Angeles Clippers, the clippers and knock them out in the first in a matchup right in the best of seven. It’s something that I think we have to take into consideration because the Utah Jazz and the Utah Jazz community for so long have wanted to feel like they are in the thread of the conversation of being a legitimate basketball team with sustainable success. And they haven’t done that you can bypass the Deron William years. So you got to go as far back to Stockton and Malone. Right. So is this fool’s gold once again, when it comes to the Utah Jazz, and I think that this stretch run with how they finish the season, where they position themselves and the matchups that they’re going to be dealing with in Western Conference, I think he’s gonna speak volumes about what the future is going to be like over the next few seasons. With the Utah Jazz,

Jabari Davis 41:37
Cal I’m so happy that you brought this one up specifically because it’s funny, I was just on the show over, like over the weekend, where they asked me about the Utah Jazz and I’m gonna paraphrase it here it as I come to work as I transition it back to Warren. They are they are perpetually we don’t believe you need more people. And I know that jazz fans, they’ve been tired of that, you know, they want their respect. They want to be appreciated and all of that. But there’s a reason why we all have that feeling. And deep down it’s a hit dog how the situation they know it too. So bringing it to you, Warren, what is the ultimate answer? Is it going to take a Like honestly, a shake up on the with the roster basically choosing between those two guys, not to be divisionary? Not to do not to divide but just asking if that’s the case? Or might they go in a different direction with your at the head coach position?

Warren Shaw 42:24
Ah, that’s tough. I don’t think Snyder’s job has been questioned or threatened in any realm.

Cal Lee 42:30
That’s an interesting question that you do have Sorry to interrupt that. But I to me when I was bringing up that point, though, my thing was to put quin Snyder on the hot seat, but it is to probably elevate the conversation that the parts that quin Snyder is working with, can he execute what he’s truly trying to do with this roster because he’s had this roster now for what, five, six years now. So it’s not like these guys are continuing to ascend. I think they have plateaued. You don’t I’m saying so something is does have to give but it does raise a pretty interesting point about whether or not you have to say can you continue to do this with Snyder

Jabari Davis 43:03
if the Utah Jazz go out in the first round. I agree with you guys. It’s not all Queenslander, but he’s going to be out and he’s going to be a Lakers next head coach. But let me bow back

Cal Lee 43:10
out. And there’s your LeBron Lakers levity moment sponsored by Jabari Davis

Warren Shaw 43:21
that’s a clip for you guys have ever heard one. We will all be sniffing that out listener so you can up picture that will be that will be this baselines promo of the week, for sure coincide or next Lakers coach. That’s that is something but I think what’s really interesting about this is that the media has not pointed to him as of yet. So how they bow out this year, and I think we all think they’re going to bow out at some point this year, and they will not be raising the leorio. Ryan, is that now maybe that’s when the IRA will will focus to him. But all signs have been playing to a split of Donovan Mitchell and Rudiger bear. I think when horses reported one of those two guys will probably request a trade this offseason. And I don’t know if all those things happen. If both like both those guys requested trade and they get rid of rid of Snyder or if just one of those things are going to be the follow up. But either way, despite all the great things that have happened in Utah over the last couple years, it really has gotten stale really fast, unfortunately, and they don’t have a whole lot of draft equity. They’re not a free agent destination. So something big is gonna happen for them to try to get back to the level that they’re hoping to be if they really want to be an NBA championship level contender, Matt. Great question though.

Cal Lee 44:31
Oh, I got a question. Oh, I got a question. Can I put my hand up in class? fives, okay. And my dog GG just got upset. Oh, it’s kind of retreat or something. So listen, I got it. I got a question. If if something does, if something does like if something like that does happen, right. Do you think the New York Knicks goes after Donovan Mitchell

Warren Shaw 44:58
Well, if you remember Yeah, if you remember Jabari had you know had the Steven A impression not too long ago, you know. So I’ll give it back to Jabbar you’re ready to do Steven A.

Okay, hold on it’s funny that you even asked that question. Of course they’re gonna go after Donovan Mitchell he’s from New York. He’s from New York, but brother can play and if the Utah Jazz can’t get their stuff together I almost cussed I don’t do that. I don’t I don’t mess up the back but if they can’t get this stuff together, Donovan Mitchell it’s gonna be in New York. Ca sign him up right now Steven a Smith out

Cal Lee 45:44
and you thought that the baseline doesn’t get a list media people on our show. A show Josh and since since when the bass line was hosted by gay face Lee Shaw and Steven A.

Warren Shaw 46:00
Steven a man that JD Steven A impression will never never cease to amaze me or

Cal Lee 46:07
you know you know many you know you know many Steven A’s probably feeling real salty right now. real salty he’s supposed to be a third oh my

Warren Shaw 46:17
god that is that is that is such a good stuff. I don’t even know I’m gonna try to get us back on track. My second point or the thing that I was gonna watch here the NBA man that’s that’s just classic um, mmm shit. I lost my train of thought. I think I wanted to talk I think I wanted to talk about the Western Conference. Yes, I did exactly it was it was the kind of that not a race for the playing game ironically. So that may lead into kind of what’s going on I think with the Lakers and so to speak all I can see right now though is that if there’s some scenario where the Lakers and clippers play for the for a playoff spot, and the Clippers win that shit Oh, my God, the Armageddon that is gonna that’s gonna come and I God bless you JD if because those clipper fans will not be able to hold themselves as a Lakers and clippers meet for just again, not the NBA championship, not the East not the Western Conference Finals. But for the playing. Especially with the Clippers not having Kawhi and PG down the stretch here. I don’t know if I’m ready for the bat kind of Apocalypse that is that is that is upon us. If that were to be the scenario that plays out in the Western Conference. i At this point, I am rooting for it at least a matchup just to see kind of what happens. JD I’m kicking you real quick. What are your thoughts on that specific scenario for something to watch here towards the end?

Listen, y’all can go to hell. I’ll tell you straight out. Y’all go to hell, if that’s what you’re hoping for, if that’s what you’re rooting for, because that would be my that would be my disaster scenario. That’s the scenario. Because I’m gonna tell you right now,

Jabari Davis 47:51
I don’t have any faith whatsoever in these Lakers anymore. And you know, I’ll save my third tape for you after after Cal second. I don’t have any faith in him whatsoever. But if the if little brother finally gets them, regardless of whether they’re going anywhere, yeah, that would be the perfect capper, the perfect, you know, the perfect ending to what has been an absolute nightmare of a stretch.

Cal Lee 48:14
Yeah, that’d be escape LA, Part Five. You don’t have to get Kurt Russell to help lead you out of that place. They know they know. Hey,

Jabari Davis 48:25
I’d rather Kurt Russell and Kurt Rambis. I’ll tell

Warren Shaw 48:27
ya, Oh, I like it. I like it.

Cal Lee 48:30
Well, so I already already dropped my already dropped my second take. So I think now I’m on my third jaw. You’re on your third and JD, you’re on your third, right.

Correct. Yes. Okay. Yes. All right. Good.

Jabari Davis 48:43
Oh, you know what? That was my, that was my bad. That meant that it was time for me to go ahead and drop that third tape.

Cal Lee 48:50
Well, listen, man, I think it’s probably better. Did you enjoy it? Because you know, you might you might, you might be the end all be all things if this question goes down the way that shows predicting.

I got one for you. Okay.

Cal Lee 49:07
All right. So, my final, my final take that I’m looking forward to for the second half push. Really it comes down to what versions of the top seeded teams are we going to have on on the stretch run? And I And I’m saying this holistically for both the east and Western Conference teams. So what I mean by that is, will the Brooklyn Nets finally have all of their new three new newfound Trifecta fully healthy enough with enough games under their plate to really kind of gauge and see how dominant everyone expects them or is anticipating them to be the new version of the Philadelphia 70 Sixers, how offensively potent are they going to be and I think most of more importantly to Doc river and his coaching ability because again, you know, he’s working with some star parts. Can he get these guys where they need to be, which is into the to the NBA Finals? You know, I mean, that’s the expectation. That’s why he’s supposed to be there. So he we can’t discredit we can’t like undercut or undersell that whole point with that the Golden State Warriors. Like, look, I know everybody was all happy and giddy about Klay Thompson coming back. But this team has not looked nearly as sharp as I think a lot of people expect them to be a lot of them are riding on this day, these guys have done it before they’ve been to the championship this that in a third. I don’t know, again, if I’m completely buying into that, because this team still suffers a lack of size and length that I think can be a problem for them with certain matchups when they get to the playoffs, so will they be able to share a lot of those things up? And I think it speaks again to does Steve Kerr make the necessary adjustments to position this team to be what we think that they’re going to be in Phoenix Suns. Obviously we talked about with Chris Paul, you know, and you can also make the argument as well to that, if you are the Miami Heat, if you are the Chicago Bulls, if you are the Memphis Grizzlies, you are basically teams that can upset the applecart a little bit, right? Can people buy into what these guys are capable of being? Can they be upper echelon teams legit simply because of the way that they stack up against the top tier top seeded teams, and also say to the defending champions in Milwaukee Bucks, up and down, up and down. People might say they’re just trying to get their limbs ready for the playoffs? I’m telling you right now, they don’t look as sharp as what they don’t look as hungry as they look last year. And it’s partly because they don’t have the same parts, you know, so. So it’s gonna be very intriguing. My focus is going to be on these top tier teams, are they going to be top tiered? Are they ready to go to make that run? Will there be enough games for us to see that? And are these guys going to be proven commodity shoe wins to be that Final Four teams that we think is going to be for the playoffs?

Warren Shaw 52:00
Well, as you loot it. And look at the top tiers I’m looking at kind of now, you know, I looked at the entirety of the Eastern Conference, kind of even the bottom of the West. But I even want to take it back out to the Western Conference in the middle of the pack. And I’m going to focus on two teams specifically in the Dallas Mavericks, you know, and and the Denver Nuggets. I don’t know how good Dallas is now without Kristaps Porzingis. Luke is gone absolutely nuclear since he’s been gone. And all of a sudden, it’s just like, you know, Luke is looking like an NDP type candidate. He’s not gonna be in that running, so to speak, but the way he’s played now, the last, you know, five games or whatever, it’s been crazy, but that nuggets team with Yoko Chou is an NDP candidate. Do they get Jamal Murray back? What does it look like? If they do get him back? And do they become one of the more scarier teams, if he’s any semblance of the self that we saw him, especially when he was in the bubble a couple years ago. So that to me is something that I’m going to be watching for the middle of that Western Conference with Dallas and Denver and the whole for return of Jamal Murray. JD closes out on this great topic, Brother, what’s your final one before we sign off here on the baseline,

Jabari Davis 53:00
I’m keeping it right there with you. And also shout out to Nick beer, Twitter, they will absolutely love your final one. I’m keeping it right there with you in the let’s say the bottom middle. Like everybody loves a train wreck, especially if it’s in purple and gold. A bronze has come out and officially stated that you know, he’s quote unquote, committed to beat the Lakers. And I love how he phrased it as long as he can that that is definitely a commitment. You know, after a weekend of making it pretty clear that he wasn’t happy with the current trajectory of, of Los Angeles, I get that he shouldn’t be. But passive aggressive. Braun is back, you know, and it’s it’s always going to be fun, because it’s a situation where he’s very clearly trying to regain control of the narrative. You know, and it’s always like I said, it’s always highly entertaining. His stands are all circling around trying to give him a pass in terms of any culpability whatsoever. And that’s as anticipated, but that’s also entertaining. But, you know, I alluded to this earlier, Frank Frank Vogel’s contract is up after this year, meaning, you know, he’s definitely entering the season at best as a lame duck coach. And that’s if he’s still there, which quite frankly, I do not think he will still be there. I think we’re I think we’re headed into year three in a row in terms of summer of change for these Lakers. But for this second half in particular, there’s no good answers for them and they’re in danger. They’re in danger of falling out of the playing situation altogether. Obviously, I’m not advocating for this chaos as a fan of the team but let’s just say it wouldn’t shock me to see more and more drama down the stretch this season as pressure continues to melt. And like I said, there’s no good answers. None of them like LeBron can’t be yoga Braun can’t be younger. Westbrook can’t be unwashed and he can’t be you know, can’t make himself be healthy. So this is get buckle up because it’s gonna be a

Cal Lee 54:40
ride. Just when you wish. That whole Advantium the whole ad mantium thing works for ad that’s what that’s what they need is ability to just heal self heal instantly. Know, wash away all the worries wash it away.

Jabari Davis 54:59
I feel a lot more better if they could, but that’s not gonna be the case. So here we are.

Cal Lee 55:03
Understandable. Well, listen, all things considered. These are some really good things to be looking forward to. But we want to know and we want to hear from you guys. What are you guys looking forward to? Please get at us at NBA baseline, let us know what’s on your mind what you’re thinking what you have your eyes fixated and focused on could be a team could be players, whatever the case may be. All we can tell you is is that the second half push is going to be the one for the ages. It’s going to be a while right and if you’ve been paying attention to the standings, there’s a lot of teams that want in and so there is going to be a fight to the finish line. And we cannot wait to see who winds up crossing it. Once again, like to thank you and yours for hopping on board with this this week. It has been an awesome conversation. Big shout out to our special guests. Stephen a JD Smith, Robin on board with us this week, man. Definitely bringing that in the New York Knicks fire man, you know, we got to have that every now and again. And we’d like to thank you and us for listening to us, but a baseline Kelly Warren Shaw, Jabari Davis we appreciate you guys you know we do we’ll catch up with you.

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