This is What We’ve Been Waiting For…

April 18, 2008

After who knows how long, the NBA playoffs are finally here. This is what we’ve been waiting for ever since the season started. It’s what we’ve anxiously waited for since the new year and since those flurry of trades went down before the trade deadline. The last couple months seemed to drag on, but the NBA playoffs are finally here and they are better than ever. Before I get into my thoughts on the eight first round series and my NBA predictions, here are my regular season awards:

Rookie of the Year – Kevin Durant

The one lone bright spot for the Sonics this year was Kevin Durant. He chucked up a lot of shots, but still averaged over 20 points a game and his field goal percentage got better as the year went along. I would like to see his rebounding numbers go up and I would like to see him be more of a playmaker, but it’s hard not to reward him for being above average on a pathetic team.

Honorable Mention – Al Horfard, Luis Scola

Most Improved Player – Rajon Rondo

Who ever thought this guy would be this good? He’s been that floor general and defensive stopper that every Boston fan had hoped he’d be back in October. He was the perfect complement to the Big Three and his role will be more important during the playoffs because he will be asked to contain every big point guard in the league.

Honorable Mention – Hedo Turkoglu, Rudy Gay

6th Man of the Year – Manu Ginobili

This one is a no brainer and really needs no explanation. Ginobili kind of wins this award by default though. I’m pretty sure if Kobe Bryant came off the bench, he would automatically win this award too. Ginobili is easily one of the top players in the league, but he seems to be comfortable coming off the bench. He’s so valuable to his team off the bench that the Spurs can’t score without him.

No Honorable Mention

Coach of the YearDoc Rivers

What this guy did with the Celtics is unbelievable. I doubted him coming into the year because he had never proved he was a good coach at any time of his career. People give Kevin Garnett a lot of credit for turning around the culture of this team and rightfully so. But I think a lot of credit should also be given to Rivers for instilling a tough, defensive minded mentality into his team. He has gotten a bunch of scrubs to come in and provide the needed depth for the Big Three.

Honorable Mention – Byron Scott, Rick Adelman

Defensive Player of the Year – Kevin Garnett

He was simply the best defensive player on the best defensive team. Not only did he change the attitude and outlook of Basketball in the city, but he was the one that bought into Rivers’ defensive mentality and spread it to his teammates.

Honorable Mention – Chris Paul, Josh Smith

Most Valuable Player – Chris Paul

If you read my earlier post, you know I’m going with CP3 and it didn’t change the last day of the season. I don’t care if Garnett changed the culture of basketball in Boston. I don’t care if Kobe was the best player on the best team in the best conference… Paul has made an otherwise uncompetitive team into one of the best in the league. The same could be said for Lebron, but who’s team was better. Paul has made the Hornets nearly impossible to stop offensive with his ability to get to the rim and create for his teammates and let’s not forget he also gets it done on the defensive end as he led the league in steals. Where would the Hornets be in the West without Paul? This award will be a toss up and you can make an argument for anybody. I pick Paul, but I see the award going to Kobe with KG being a darkhorse and what a darkhorse he is.

Honorable Mention – Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett

Now let’s get to my predictions for the NBA playoffs that start on Saturday:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

over in FOUR – Let’s be serious, this should be done in two with a mercy rule.

over in FIVE – Philly can give Detroit a run, but I don’t see them pulling one out in Detroit. Want some incredibly insight into this series? Check out my good friends Jameson and Eva preview, recap and analyze every game of the series at CuseAdelphia

over in SEVEN – I can’t pick a Canadian team

over in SEVEN – The dumbest team in the history of sports beats the team with one of the dumbest front offices in the league

next round….

over in FIVE – What happened in the regular season doesn’t matter

over in SIX – Where has Rashard Lewis been?

Conference Finals

over in SEVEN – I don’t trust Flip

WESTERN CONFERENCE

over in FIVE – Who knows what Carmelo might be on during games

over in SIX – Dallas is hitting their stride at the right time

over in SIX – For the first time, I actually have confidence in Phoenix against SA

over in SIX – China has no interest in this series

next round….

over in SEVEN – home court plays out because Utah is horrendous on the road

over in SEVEN – Both midseason trades can’t win in this one

Conference Finals

over in SEVEN – Like Phoenix with SA, the Lakers are ready to get by their recent nemesis in the playoffs

NBA FINALS

OVER in SIX

The Lakers are too soft to beat Boston


NFL Schedule

April 15, 2008

The NFL Schedule just came out at 2:00 and my first reaction is that the Cleveland Browns are on ESPN, NBC and NFL Network a combined FIVE times. The NFL Schedule makers are really putting a lot of faith in the Browns on being a playoff contender for the second straight season.

Look at some of these games Sunday Night Football has

Week 3 – Dallas @ Green Bay

Week 5 – Pittsburgh @ Jacksonville

Week 6 – New England @ San Diego

Week 9 – New England @ Indianapolis

Week 12 – Indianapolis @ San Diego

Week 15 – New York Giants @ Dallas

The big winner to me is Sunday Night Football here. They always have great games because of Flex Scheduling, but to have these six games locked up are huge. The big game they locked up is week 9 with New England @ Indianapolis. That is the marquee match up every year and to have that game on the schedule for NBC is huge.

Two teams that really have tough schedules are Pittsburgh and Dallas. Dallas does play in the NFC East, so their schedule should be tough. Pittsburgh on the other hand plays in the same division as Cincinnati and Baltimore, so how did they get the toughest schedule in the league? Well, let’s take a look at it.

Week 1 – vs. Houston

Week 2 – @ Cleveland

Week 3 – @ Philadelphia

Week 4 – vs. Baltimore

Week 5 – @ Jacksonville

Week 6 – BYE

Week 7 – @ Cincinnati

Week 8 – vs. NYG

Week 9 – @ Washington

Week 10 – vs. Indianapolis

Week 11 – vs. San Diego

Week 12 – vs. Cincinnati

Week 13 – @ New England

Week 14 – vs. Dallas

Week 15 – @ Baltimore

Week 16 – @ Tennessee

Week 17 – vs. Cleveland

Look at that schedule. Other than the games inside of the division against Cincinnati and Baltimore, there are NO easy games on the schedule. But to have the easiest games of your season inside the division is no cupcake either because division games are brutal and anything can happen. The Steelers will have a dogfight week in and week out and at this point, if the Steelers don’t make the playoffs, it will not surprise me one bit.


My NBA MVP

April 15, 2008

I think they will give it to Kobe Bryant if the Lakers win the conference tonight against Sacramento, but I truly believe that Chris Paul is the league’s MVP. Think about this… when Kobe doesn’t have Gasol or Bynum, the team is sub-.500. I think the Laker success has a lot to do with their depth, the play of Gasol late in the season and Bynum early in the season. The Hornets are really good because of Chris Paul. He can score for himself and he makes everybody else around him that much better. A lot of credit has to go to David West, but would West be this good without CP3? Paul put up better numbers than Nash did when Nash won his two MVP’s. However, if the Hornets don’t win the conference, I think Paul will get a raw deal because people feel that the award should go to the best player on the best team… if that’s the case, then it should go to Garnett, not Kobe and Paul. In the end, I think the MVP race will be a toss up, just like the Western Conference playoffs.


Baseball is Back

April 15, 2008

It’s been two weeks since Opening Day and it’s a little too early to make any prediction, but here are my initial thoughts and concerns for some teams:

  • My first concern is for the Detroit Tigers. 3-10?!? They would be 2-11 if the offense didn’t wake up late in the game last night against the Twins. Is that a sign to come? Well, if they want to sniff .500, they need the offense to carry them because their pitching stinks. Verlander looks awful, Willis is on the DL, Bonderman looks bad, the bullpen is HORRENDOUS. Where is Miguel Cabrera?! The Tigers will turn it around, but it will not be easy making the playoffs in the AL.
  • My second biggest concern is for Los Mets. Johan keeps giving up bombs, their hitting is extremely overrated and I don’t trust their bullpen in a big spot. Pedro is also hurt and their rotation is extremely overrated. John Maine hasn’t put together a full, solid season and Oliver Perez will either be phenomenal or he will get shelled. This team also has no leader in the clubhouse. Jose Reyes, Beltran, Delgado? No. David Wright? No… he can’t represent that large Hispanic contingent. Also, the Mets are in a very precarious position because one key injury to a big player and they will be in a lot of trouble.
  • David Ortiz has been awful for Boston, Josh Beckett has been sub-par, but this team still finds ways to win. That is why they are the defending champs and why they should still be favored this season.
  • Other than Baltimore, who is somehow in first place right now, the AL East is more competitive than ever. Tampa Bay can really hit the ball, Toronto has been a very competitive team for years and then you of course have the Yankees and the Red Sox. The most competitive division in baseball.
  • Joe Bloworski stinks. Thank god he’s on the DL because that Betancourt will do something Joe Blow couldn’t do… save some wins.

Here is why you can’t get all caught up in the first two weeks. Take a look at the six division leaders so far: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, Florida, St. Louis and Arizona. Yea, it’s a joke so far.

Aneesh


MARIO’S MIRACLE

April 15, 2008

What a national championship game. I think this one game made up for some of the other poor games in the Elite 8 and Final Four. The game was back and forth… Kansas was in control one moment, but then Memphis was in control a minute later. The Tigers were undoubtedly doomed by their poor free throw shooting. Chris Douglas-Roberts missed three and Derrick Rose missed one and then Kansas did a phenomenal job capitalizing. To me, the play that gave the Jayhawks hope was when Sharron Collins stole the Memphis inbounds pass and went on to hit a big three-pointer from the corner to cut the deficit to four points. From there, the momentum swung back to the Jayhawks one last time.

I don’t think Memphis lost the game because they didn’t foul at the end. I think a foul could have made up for the fact that they can’t hit free throws, but the REASON they lost was simply because they choked from the line. I don’t care if the Tigers could hit free throws during the whole tournament. They showed no capability to hit free throws as a team all season, so why should I be surprised that they missed four huge free throws down the stretch in the national championship game. I wasn’t surprised and neither should you. This is a bad free throw shooting team and it shows when the national championship was on the line.


Final Four Preview

April 4, 2008

memphis.gif Memphis Tigers

Why they can win it all

This team is an absolutely mystery. They can’t hit free throws and look absolutely vulnerable. Then other games, free throws don’t matter because the Tigers will blow out their opponents by 20 points. But here is the thing… after the Mississippi State game, this team already motivated team got more motivated. They are out to prove all those people who thought this team couldn’t win because of their free throw shooting wrong. Memphis is an absolutely dominant team in all other facets of the game. They rebound, defend, shoot well, run up and down the court and can score the basketball with any team in the nation.

Player that must play well for Memphis to win

I’m going with two players. It’s the backcourt duo of Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts. The two have put up a combined 98 points in Houston and neither of their opponents came close to competing with the Tigers. If Rose and CDR perform at the level they did a week ago, Memphis will be cutting off the nets on Monday.

ucla.gif UCLA Bruins

Why they can win it all

UCLA has been in this position three straight years now. It’s the Bruins third straight appearance in the Final Four, but both teams they have been derailed by eventually champion, Florida. This year, the Bruins have the one piece they were missing the previous two years… a legitimate big man. Kevin Love is the sole reason the Bruins are more capable of winning a championship this year. I don’t care about the experience or the great guards… it’s all about the Love.

Player that must play well for UCLA to win

Again, I’m going with multiple players here. But this time, I’m going with three players… Josh Shipp, Russell Westbrook and Darren Collison. Just think about the guards this team will have to match up with… Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose from Memphis, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson and Danny Green from UNC, Mario Chalmers, Sharron Collins and Brandon Rush from Kansas. The Bruins’ trio will have their hands full if they want to come out on top.

unc.gif North Carolina Tar Heels

Why they can win it all

Everybody’s favorite to win it all. The North Carolina Tar Heels are playing their best basketball of the season when it matters the most. They can win it all because they have the deepest team in the country. When Ty Lawson went down to injury, other role players really stepped it up and now with Lawson back, UNC is more capable of winning it all. Danny Green is playing unbelievable basketball. Big man Alex Stepheson and backup point guard Quentin Thomas are become more than serviceable off the bench. When you put those three guys with the stars in Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansbrough, you currently have the best team in the nation.

Player that must play well for North Carolina to win

Tyler Hansbrough. This one is rather obvious right? Well, I didn’t pick Hansbrough because he is the best player in the country. I picked him because of North Carolina’s lack of other interior threats. Alex Stepheson and Deon Thompson have been good role players, but what if Hansbrough fouls out? Do you still think this team can win the game if the game is tied with two minutes left? Hansbrough not only has to play well, but he has to be on the court.

kansas.gif Kansas Jayhawks

Why they can win it all

To me, it seems as if Kansas is the weakest number one seed in everybody’s eyes. But it’s scary that a team as talented, balanced and deep as Kansas is going relatively unnoticed in this Final Four. The Jayhawks have two greats guards (Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers) with two other very good guards (Sharron Collins and Russell Robinson) in the backcourt. They have three very good big men, one in Sasha Kaun who would be starting on a lot of other teams around the nation. Kansas had the easiest road out of any number one seed, but looked rather unimpressive against Davidson. I feel that his team will the loosest team in San Antonio, being the huge underdog against North Carolina.

Player that must play well for Kansas to win

Brandon Rush. Wow, how bad was Rush against Davidson? He was chucking up bricks from every part of the court, even looks that were wide open. But Rush is the star of this team and stars must perform late in March. If Rush has an outing like he did against Davidson (12 pts, 4-14 from the field), Kansas has no shot. Their defense is good, but unless the Jayhawks can put up 80 points, they aren’t getting past the Tar Heels.

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How My Final Four Plays Out

In the early game, I see Memphis taking out the Bruins. Too much Rose and Douglas-Roberts in this one. I just think this Memphis team has way too much athleticism for UCLA to handle.

In the late game, Kansas will prevail over UNC. Too much athleticism especially on the inside. Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun will be too much for Tyler Hansbrough and the Kansas guards will go to work against UNC. Two upsets for me…

That leaves Kansas vs. Memphis in the title game. So my national champion is…..

memphis.gifThey are great in every facet of the game other than free throws. I love Joey Dorsey and Robert Dozier inside. I think they will be too much on the interior for UNC and what answer will UNC have for Rose and CDR? Memphis will cut down the nets in San Antonio on Monday.


Midwest Regional Final

March 30, 2008

kansas.gif#1 Kansas Jayhawks vs. #10 Davidson Wildcats davidson.gif

What Kansas must do

This one is way too easy… Stop Stephen Curry. I don’t even need to go into detail about this one. If the Jayhawks stop Curry, they will be on their way to San Antonio.

What Davidson must do

Hang around. The Wildcats aren’t going to blow out the Jayhawks like they did Wisconsin. But they will also not be able to get into big holes like they did against Gonzaga and Georgetown, if they want to win this one. They need to keep the game as close as possible for as long as possible. Keep Stephen Curry within range to pull off his miracles at the end of the game.

Gamebreaker

Ummm, this one is almost too obvious too…. Stephen Curry must have a 30 point performance if the Wildcats want any hope of winning this game. But I know you know about Curry. They need Jason Richards to have his 15 points and 10 assists and need a lot of help on the inside from Andrew Lovedale. Davidson will need the performance of a lifetime to get to the Final Four.

My Region Winner

I liked Kansas in this region from the start of the tournament and I certainly don’t think Davidson can derail them