Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pessimistic? You're talking about pessimistic? Pessimistic? We'll be lucky to win another game.

You think you’re pessimistic about your squad? Pull up a chair. I am absolutely terrified of the 3-1 lead the Magic have. I remember T-Mac leading us to a 3-1 lead over the Pistons, running his mouth and blowing the lead. Those were entirely different circumstances as we were an eighth seed and probably shouldn’t have been up 3-1 anyway and no one on our team has been stupid enough to guarantee a series win. I’ve watched LeBron make shot after shot, and get call after call (which I’ll go into later) and I know he absolutely has it in him to score 60 points a game if he needs to for the next 3 games. Say what you want about Kobe in the clutch, but he blew a 3-1 series lead, has given up on his team in the past and conceded victory in elimination games. I don’t get that sense from LeBron. The days of him mailing a game in are over. As close we were to sweeping this series, we could also be down 3-1 and LeBron knows that. I am petrified of Game 5.

It's so bad that I’ve gone into this mode of thought: If we don’t win the title this year, we never will. Nelson won’t be the same after his injury, Turkoglu will opt out and LeBron will come back better than ever, which is scary. I’ve been so stressed out watching Orlando-Cleveland, I haven’t had the energy to get into Denver-LA. Seriously. I’ve caught a quarter here or there but I’m drained from rising and falling with every three pointer or foul called in our series. I don’t know if I can physically take anything less than a championship this year. I’ve tried to remember the last time I felt this way and I don’t know that I ever have. My teams have been so mediocre for the majority of my sports viewing prime, I expect failure and am a little shocked when we don’t fail. We’ve played an excellent series and I really haven’t even been able to enjoy it. If you care about your old pal Johnson’s well-being, you’ll root for Orlando.

Now to the officiating. I’ve seen some shaky calls in the glances I’ve caught of the Denver-LA series, but not enough to truly say the fix is in. Our series is an entirely different story. The officiating has been truly terrible. I’ve come to my senses about the non-call between Dwight-Vareajo at the end of regulation, but the call on Pietrus for "blocking" LeBron the play before was awful. LeBron initiated contact, with an elbow no less, tripped into Pietrus, yet Mike Peaches gets called for the foul. There’s truly no way to defend LeBron in the post and I mean that as a testament to his skills as much as to the help he’s getting from the refs. If he ever wanted to score 100 points in a game, all he would have to do is drive the lane 50 times. I’ve noticed Dwight try different strategies when LeBron comes into the lane, and all are futile. If he goes for the block, it’s a foul on Dwight. If he jumps straight up and down, it’s a foul on Dwight. If he stands his ground with his hands raised, it’s a foul on Dwight. He literally can’t win. I think he’s definitely hurt his case with the refs by whining after every call on him, but some of the calls are ridiculous. At the end of Game 3, when LeBron came down to shoot a three, but Dwight blocked it from behind and it was called for a foul. These are humongous guys moving at break neck speed so I can actually forgive that. What killed me was, they went to the monitor to watch a replay to figure out if it was a two or a three point shot. No angle on the replay showed that was a clean block? It’s annoying when a NFL ref blows the whistle then admits it was inadvertent or the wrong call, but it’s correct. Why can’t a ref admit a bad call and overturn it in the NBA? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m viewing things through a biased eye and there have been some questionable calls to go against Cleveland as well. You asked if the officiating for this series was worse than the 06 Finals with the Referees featuring Dwyane Wade versus Dallas. I’ve changed my stance on that as well. That was much worse, but only because Wade looks to attack every time. If LeBron attacked like Wade did instead of settling for jumpers, he’d go to the line 30 times a night. Think I’m kidding? In the first four games of this series roughly a quarter of LeBron’s shots have been from the three point line not to mention several more jumpers from a step or two inside the line, yet he’s been to the line 64 times. Shocked? I know. Dwight was shocked too.



When LeBron decides to drive, he’s going to the line. Period. By comparison in the first 4 games of the 06 Finals, Wade went to the line 51 times and only seven of his 93 shots were from the three point line. This doesn’t even include the last two games of that series where Wade shot 46 free throws combined . Until this past year, the three pointer was not an option for Wade. The options were mid-range jumper, drive to the bucket or...well that was pretty much all the options. If LeBron feels like driving, he’ll go to the line at least 25 times in Game 5. I’ve said it many times before so what’s once more: If Cleveland came out here and beat us by 30 every game and left no doubt who the better team was, I could live with that. I can’t live with officials deciding the game instead of the players.

Enough about yesteryear, tonight is where the action is. I'll go as far saying this: If the Orlando Magic are serious about winning a championship this year, we close out Cleveland tonight. If Cleveland comes back from a 2-1 lead, maybe we play the "We're down an All-Star and are just happy to be here!" card. A victory in Game 4 puts that out of the question. All the pressure is on Cleveland tonight. An elimination game in their house is a game they should win. If they win tonight, all the pressure is on us to close it out in Game 6. We can't let that happen. We closed out Philadelphia and Boston on the road and we should do it tonight. I'm really hoping for more of the same from Cleveland. I want LeBron to hit his first couple of three's. If he starts hot, there's not a shot he won't take. If he's taking shots, his guys are standing around and are cold when he really needs them in the 4th quarter. If his first couple of three's miss, he'll start driving and that's bad news for us.

I think we close it out tonight. I watched interviews with Hedo Turkoglu after Game 2, where LeBron's amazing shot gave Cleveland their sole victory, and after Game 4, where Hedo made some clutch plays down the stretch to seal a victory in overtime. Same expression on his face. I couldn't tell if they had won or lost. That's a good thing. If after that LeBron shot, Hedo hung his head and played "Woe is me", it meant we were just happy to be here. If he was a little too giddy after Game 4, it meant we were just happy to be here. Watch the post game interviews with Dwight and hear how he's not satisfied. Listen to Stan Van Gundy when he tells his team that if they they are "as good and as mentally tough as I think we are", we close this out in 5. If we think we don't need Game 5, because we can come back to Orlando for Game 6, we're in trouble. Tonight, I see a lot of shaky calls by the refs, some great plays by LeBron, a myriad of profanities at no one in particular from myself and a victory from the Orlando Magic.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Pessimistic Sports Viewing Self

Let's get this out of the way first:
What is your take on the officiating in both of these NBA series? There has been a lot of talk about how one-sided both series have been (in favor of the Lakers and Cavs). I know you commented on it on Facebook last night during the game. I think I already know what your answer is, but I thought I'd ask anyway.
Here is my take: the officiating is bad. Really bad...but I wouldn't call it one-sided. I'm rooting for the Nuggets in the West and the Cavs in the East, but not overly so. Meaning, I won't be heartbroken if they both lose, so I have very little bias. From what I've seen so far, it's pretty equally bad. I've seen missed (and phantom) calls on both teams. Quite a few, actually. The worst I've seen so far was the last five minutes of Game 1 between the Nuggets and Lakers. Up until that point, the refs did a pretty good job of letting both teams play. But, as the game wound down, the calls (mostly in favor of the Lakers) got quite a bit tighter.
Other than that, both teams seem to be getting equally screwed. Being a fan of the Magic, you probably see things a little differently than me, but that's what I've seen.

You must be excited. This Cavs/Magic series has been great so far. Aside from Game 3, the games all could have gone either way. As you've been saying for quite some time, the Magic match up extremely well against the Cavs. They have built a 3-1 lead, something very few people saw when the series started.
If the Cavs pull it together and some other players start scoring, they can still take this series. They'll have to play close to flawless ball until the end of the series, though. They have the talent to win the next 3, but they'll have to really come together. Mo Williams guaranteed a series victory...then proceeded to shoot 5-15 in the next game. They're not all contested shots, either; both he and Delonte West are missing a lot of open jumpers. If they can start knocking those down, the Magic are in trouble. If they don't...we all know what happens.

The Lakers/Nuggets series has been great, too. I'm extremely excited for the game tonight. As with the Cavs, the story has been that everyone who is not Kobe or Gasol has been terrible shooting. Part of that is a lack of ball movement (I saw a stat that Kobe had 1 pass in the last 7 minutes of Game 4. Not 1 assist; 1 pass), but part of it is players not hitting the shots they should be. The Nuggets defense has been rough (I'm thoroughly enjoying watching Chris Andersen play), but the Lakers are just missing shots.

In response to my Wings paragraph, you asked how it feels to know that my team is better than everyone else's. My response: I don't, really. I'm extremely pessimistic about my sports teams, for the most part...yet I'm extremely optimistic at the same time.
I will explain, using the Tigers as my example.
At the beginning of this year, I thought to myself, "The Tigers have a ton of talent. I can legitimately see them winning the World Series this year." Nevermind the fact that they finished last in a weak division last year and didn't add any key pieces. I knew that the bullpen was awful last year, and the starting pitching was inconsistent at best. The offense was capable of massive outbursts...but they were also capable of going long stretches of scoring very few runs. Still, I was optimistic that they had the talent to win it all.
Since the season has started, I have seen the majority of their games. As of today, they are 26-19 and sitting in first place (by 4 games) in their division. The starting rotation (barring a couple of outings) has been terrific, and the bullpen has been great as well (Rodney has yet to blow a save). They have won blowouts and they've won close games. I've been them have a lead, lose it late, and come back to win it anyway. They've done that countless times this year. Are they the best team in baseball? I don't think so...but they're a darn good team, and they seem to be getting better.
And yet, every time I watch a game, I see all the ways they can lose. They can be up 10-0 in the 8th, give up two base hits, and I'll think to myself, "If this team strings together some hits, they can make this game close. That will get their morale up, and they can win it in the 9th." I know in my head that's a stupid thing to think. Still, I can't help but think about it every single game.

It's the same way with the Wings. I know they have a great team. They are a great organization. They have a perfect mixture of old vets and great young talent. At the beginning of the season, I can pencil them in to the playoffs. Still, during the season, there will be moments when I think, "They just lost two games in a row. If they lose three more, and this other team goes on a 3 game win streak, we'll only have a 1 game lead in the division."
I was really nervous in the Ducks series. They have played us so well in the playoffs recently, so I was wary going into it. When they took a game in Detroit, I got really nervous. When they won the series, my nervousness subsided. Sure, I can still see a way for them to lose, but I'm not nearly as nervous about the Blackhawks as I was about the Ducks. Nervous? Yes...but I'm at about a 7 now, when I was at a 10 for the Ducks series.
Does that make sense?

Now, my All-NBA team. I took a different route than you. I didn't take locker room issues into account. I just picked players. Simple.

Starters:

PG - Magic Johnson
I have seen this man do things I didn't think were possible. People say that Kidd has eyes in the back of his head; Magic must have had eyes all around his head. Search Magic Johnson on Youtube at some point and marvel at the highlights. The guy was not from this planet.

SG - Michael Jordan
No brainer. The best I've ever seen.

SF - LeBron James
I'm on board with you here. He's been great so far, but he's been unreal this season. If they don't win the title this year, he'll be impossible to guard next year.

PF - Larry Bird
Great defender. Great rebounder. Extremely competitive. But he's in this spot for his shooting. He could hit from anywhere, and he could do it consistently.

C - Wilt Chamberlain
An absolute freak of nature. He could score, he could defend, he could rebound. After hearing that he didn't pass enough, he decided that he would lead the league in assists the next year. And he did. A tremendous player.

The Bench:

PG - Oscar Robertson
In only his second year in the league, he averaged 30.8/12.5/11.4. That's insane. He is still held up as one of the best players in the history of the league. Drop him in today's game, and I bet he would still dominate.

SG - Joe Dumars
A great defender. Everyone knows that. Dumars was also one of the main offensive keys on two Pistons Championship teams. He could hit from anywhere, and was fantastic in the clutch.

SF - Julius Erving
An offensive force. He is responsible for a couple of the most jaw-dropping plays in basketball.

PF - Tim Duncan
A consistently great player. The anchor on 4 NBA Championship teams (an MVP for 3 of them). He's not flashy, but he's always amazing.

C - Hakeem Olajuwon
His prime was way too short, but, while he was there, he was unstoppable. A 7' center with great rebounding and shotblocking instincts, to go along with an amazing range. He could drop a mid-range jumper over anyone, anytime he needed to. An absolute force. In his prime, he was the best center I have ever seen.

Apologies to Isiah Thomas, Pete Maravich, David Robinson, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, and Bill Russell.

I'm not sure if you're down with the Terminator series or not, but the new one was fantastic.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Can you feel it coming in the air tonight?

Quite a game indeed. Am I a little too excited over one victory? Probably, but I don't care. The media has already penciled Cleveland into the Finals, and assumed we would provide little resistance to them. Gund Arena was considered sacred ground and we were supposed to head back to Orlando down 2-0. Not on our watch. If Cleveland beats us because they are a better team, that's fine but I didn't want it to be because Orlando was scared of Gund Arena and the aura surrounding King James. (Sidebar: I know it's called Quicken Loans Arena, but I don't care. The glory days of Darius Miles and Ricky Davis happened in Gund Arena, so it will always be Gund Arena to me.) Against Boston, all the pressure was on us to beat a depleted Boston team. Now all the pressure is on Cleveland to beat an Orlando team "with no heart" and down an All-Star. I'm loving it. Also, this game was crucial because Cleveland is a good, not great team on the road. They went 27-14 on the road, which is the same record that Orlando has on the road. I think Cleveland can steal one in Orlando, but I have a hard time believing they could take 2 of 3 there. Just a few notes on the game.

-Dwight tearing down the shot clock was the best thing that could have happened to us. Yes it looked nice, but that Cleveland crowd was rocking the building after tipoff and Clevelands first couple of baskets. Forcing them to sit for 8 minutes took them down a notch and kept their early run from really getting out of hand.

-We got Dwight some easy buckets early. This is ALWAYS a good thing because it keeps his head in the game on defense. I've talked about how much he has matured, but he still gets visibly affected if he doesn't get some shots early in the game. When he gets early buckets, he's more alert on defense and when he's protecting the rim we're a difficult team to beat.

-I mentioned earlier that this would be the first series that LeBron would have to work on defense by actually guarding someone instead of roaming for 48 minutes. The results? Hedo Turkoglu dropping 15 points and 14 assists on him along with some daggers at the end of the game and an exhausted LeBron who finished the game cramping up. LeBron had 9 days off to rest and was still gassed at the end of the game. We need to exploit this as much as we can.

-Terrible officiating has come to be the norm in the playoffs and I expected no different in the Cavaliers house. During the first half, Joe Smith actually lifted Dwight Howard off of the ground and shoved him near the bench right in front of a referee. No call. Rafer Alston drove the lane for a lay-up and was hacked to the point that I think the ball didn't even catch the rim. No call. Yet at the end of the game, LeBron drives into Dwight and Dwight jumps straight up with his hands up in the air. Foul called. It's ridiculous and there's no way in hell LeBron doesn't get at least 20 David Stern ordered trips to the free throw line in Game 2.

-I'm a LeBron fan and think he is the best player in the game, but the play at the end of the game where he drove the lane and passed to a wide open Delonte West, shows the difference between he and Kobe. Kobe takes that shot or dies trying. At the very worst, the refs bail him out. LeBron is too good of a teammate. You're supposed to make that pass, but LeBron can't make that pass because the taks of his inability to perform in the clutch will unfairly arise again. He's such a good teammate that he does the right things, even when it might not be the best thing for his team. I can only pray this rears its ugly ahead again when West/Mo Williams clangs an open shot at the buzzer.

The end of the Denver-LA game was ridiculous. Nevermind that awful inbound pass by Anthony Carter that pretty much lost the game for them. Nevermind that Denver watched Kobe kill time before driving, instead of fouling immediately to give them some more time. All I want to know is how Carmelo and Kobe battled for position in the post time after time throughout the game without being called, but it the final couple of minutes of the game any contact by anybody, usually Denver, resulted in a foul calls. It's been beat into the ground by us, among others, but this officiating is absolutely terrible.

I like how your Red Wings are 2 games away from the Finals and you casually drop a paragraph about it. The Magic won Game 1 and I was ready to write a book on it, call off from work and book my tickets to Orlando for Game 3. How does it feel knowing your team is better than anyone else's year in and year out?

Ahh, Carson Palmer takes his first shot at Chad Johnson. Is it time for training camp already?

I noticed Phil Collins popping up everywhere. I saw a movie a couple of months ago and in the previews, the Tyson bit from The Hangover was shown and it killed me and everyone else in the theater. Now after I've seen it so much, I don't even want to see the movie anymore. I feel the same about "In the Air of the Night". If I catch it in the mall or on the radio, I'm stoked and have to listen to it in it's entirety. If I turned on the radio and heard it every single day, I'd get tired of it and it would lose it's luster. Please, for the sake of Phil Collins, let's chill on "In the Air of the Night". "Don't Let Him Steal Your Heart Away" gives the same effect if you're looking for your Phill Collins fix, whether it's over the loudspeakers of a game or in the car. Just imagine the PA guy for the Pistons setting it up:

"Everybody on your feet! Deeeeee-Troit Basketballllllll!"
"Don't you let him! And don't be fooled by his kisssssssssss"
*Silence*
"Deeeee-Troit Basketballlllllllllllllll"

All-time team? I can swing that.

PG- John Stockton. This was the hardest choice of all. It was between he, Magic and Isiah. Isiah is off because can't co-exist with another member of my team. Chemistry matters in my book. Magic is out because, yes he was phenomenal, but let's not forget he played with 2 other Hall of Famers and another couple of All-Stars. Stockton would have no problem deferring to others and would play great defense and be a good shooter from the outside.

SG- Michael Jordan. Too easy, I know. He and Isiah had beef, so I can't take both so I go with the Greatest.

SF- LeBron- Yes, already. There's never been another athlete like him and like I said, he's such a good teammate, I think he'd be alright with being option 1b to Jordan

PF- Duncan- Great teammate, great player. Would hold down the high post, while the next guy camped under the basket.

C- Shaq- A behemoth in the post and Duncan's ability to operate from the high post makes this tandem work.

Bench

Scottie Pippen- Everyone listed above has made an All-Defensive team or two in their career and Pippen fits this mold. He can come in and lockdown another teams perimeter star as well as play 3 positions on offense including running the point.

Chris Webber- Suprise! Many people forget about Webber when thinking of all-time greats. Here was a 6'10 guy who can work the low post, step out and hit an 18 foot jumper, run the fast break and play solid defense. His problem was has inability to step it up in the clutch. On a team with MJ, Duncan and LeBron to handle clutch situations, he has no weaknesses

Mitch Richmond- Man I used to love this guy. Even Jordan said Richmond was toughest to defend because their games were so similar. Excellent shooter and one of the more forgotten players of the 90's.

Jason Kidd- The best passer I've ever seen. A great defender and among with my other bench guys, someone who wouldnt mind coming off the bench.

Bill Russell- A leader, great defender and basketball mind and yet another person I think would have the ego to come off the bench.

As you see, I tried to actually think about styles of play and chemistry instead of just throwing the best 5 names out there.

Who you got?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NBA Playoffs, Phil Collins, etc.

I know you enjoyed that.
Quite a game. Quite a game.
After struggling out of the gate, the Magic really turned it on in the second half and won the game, despite a great outing from LeBron. If Delonte West and/or Mo Williams had hit some shots (that wide-open three that West missed at the end of the game, in particular), the Cavs would've won by at least 7. As it was, they weren't hitting, and Orlando really hit some clutch shots down the stretch. Good for them.
I think the Cavs will take the series in 6. I see them winning the next two games, losing game 4, and then winning the next two. Should be a good series.

Random question: why is Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" showing up everywhere? It's in The Hangover preview (complete with Mike Tyson singing it), they played it in the second half of the game tonight, and they're using a cover of it for a new TNT show.

The Lakers/Nuggets game the other night was a good one, too. The Nuggets should've had it, but the Lakers were just too much at the end. Or was it the refs? I honestly can't remember. What ever happened to allowing the players to decide a game? Have you seen more touch fouls down the stretch in a playoff game? Especially when it was an extremely physical game, and they let that stuff go for the majority of the game. Shameful.

The Wings are up 2-0 against the Hawks. They won the second game on a breakaway goal in overtime. The entire third period was a flurry of shots. Really one of the more exciting games I've seen in a while. I don't see the Hawks going down easy, though. This should be a great series. I see the Wings winning in 6.
The Penguins are up on the Canes 1-0. Game 2 is tomorrow night. The Pens are rolling right now. The Canes are good, but I see the Penguins taking the series in 5, leading to a Wings/Penguins rematch. Spoiler alert: Wings win again.

Glad you dug the Dead Snow clip. It really is terrific. I think I've seen it 7 times, and I still have tears in my eyes from laughing so hard every single time. Just brilliant stuff.

I didn't see Kobe Doin' Work. Perhaps I'll watch it at some point, but it may just give me more reason to want to stab Kobe, and I don't really need that.
On a related note: did you see Spike Lee slapping Kobe on the back at the end of that game? What's up with that? Isn't he a massive Knicks fan, all other teams be damned? It just bugged me a little.

That Harrison quote is one of the dumbed quotes I've ever seen. Do you think the President invites teams to the White House because he wants to meet them? (Well...Obama has done that with a couple of teams, but I won't hold that against him.) It's tradition that the President invites the Super Bowl winner. Yes, if the Cardinals had won the Super Bowl, they would have been invited to the White House. The point is that it's an honor to meet the President. It's more for the sake of the atheletes than the President. I don't think Obama is going to say, "I wish James Harrison was here."

Why don't athletes hire someone in their posse to make sure they don't say something stupid? Harrison could run that line by his person in charge of that, and they could say something diplomatic like, "James...I don't think you should say that. You'll come off a bit like an idiot...or, at the very least, like a prima donna. If you don't want to go, just don't go. But I think you should go." I'm up for hire, if someone's looking.

A little project for you. You can create a basketball team of 10 players, past and present. Who is your all-time team? A rule: you have to play a player in their position. You can't throw Isiah Thomas in as a PF or something like that. Give me your starters and your bench players. I'm working on mine. I'll post it in my next post.

Monday, May 18, 2009

In my humble opinion, Orlando only won because they scored more points than Boston did.

Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!

That felt good...really good. Yes, a series that should have been over in 5 games went to 7 but the outcome was the same: The better team won. I have to applaud Hedo Turkoglu for his finest game in the playoffs, and perhaps of his career. 25 points on 9-12 shooting, 12 assists and 5 rebounds, not too mentioning helping to keep Paul Pierce from going off. It goes without saying that if he plays like that every game, we will beat the Cavaliers and whoever is waiting in the Finals. I have just a few thoughts on the Magic in general.

1. Don't count us out against Cleveland. Everyone is so quick to pencil them in the Finals, and for good reason. They've dominated the regular season and stepped it up in the playoffs. But like you said, they haven't had any worthy competition yet. They played a Detroit team that was too old and an Atlanta team that was too young. This Orlando team is just right. Tony Battie, Tyronn Lue, Anthony Johnson, Turkoglu and Stan Van Gundy have all been to the Conference Finals. Dwight, Rashard Lewis and Mike Pietrus are all here for the first time, but have played well thus far.

2. It recently came out that after Dwight called him out for a lack of touches, SVG compiled a tape of every touch Dwight had in the paint against Boston and it's results. Talk about humbling. Dwight had to watch a video of Perkins pushing him off the block or forcing him into ridiculous hook shots. Kudos to SVG for having the balls to show his superstar his flaws. Is there anyway Mike Brown pulls LeBron aside and tells him to quit taking so many uncontested threes? Not a chance in hell. And if he did, does LeBron have him fired on the spot or does he wait until after the morning shoot around? I also have to give creditto Dwight for taking constructive criticism in stride. Since that meeting, Dwight has made 70 percent of his shots, averaged 4 blocks and 19 boards a game. Last year, Dwight sees that tape and shuts it down in an attempt to get back at SVG. He still whines after too many calls/non-calls but he has matured in the past year.

3. Yes Boston is missing KG and Leon Powe to a lesser extent, but don't forget we're missing an All-Star too. If we have a healthy Jameer Nelson we close out Philly in 4 because he is our late game assassin and we finish Boston in 5 for the same reason. Jameer bests Rafer Alston in every category except perhaps in defense. Everything else is a tremendous upgrade and if we have a healthy Nelson, I like our chances of winning it all this year.

4. It'd be a lot easier to tip my hat to Boston for a good series if they were a team full of Ray Allens. Say what you will about his cheap shots, but you won't catch him preening with the likes of Big Baby, Pierce or KG. After the game Allen shared some words with Dwight Howard in what appeared to be advice on playing the Cavaliers. He could have been telling him about the best strip clubs in Cleveland for all I know, but it was advice damnit. Too bad the rest of the Celtics are punks, except for perhaps Leon Powe. My hat stays on.

My head tells me we beat Cleveland in 6 games. We've played well the past 2-3 games and I hope the momentum carries over. We matchup well with Cleveland because:

-Dwight Howard should be relieved that he gets to go from Kendrick Perkins to Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

-Anderson Vareajo can't cover Rashard Lewis. If Lewis attacks the basket instead of settling for three's, he'll get 25 a game.

-We have a combo of Turk, Pietrus and Courtney Lee to contain LeBron. In three regular season meetings, we held LeBron to 23 points on 27 shots, 43 points on 27 shots and 26 points on 20 shots. If LeBron starts chucking, I like our odds.

-We can make LeBron work on defense. LeBron was able to roam while guarding Tayshaun Prince and Maurice Evans in his previous 2 series. This series he gets Turkoglu. He'll have to play on ball defense, fight through screens and guard Turk on his way to the basket. Even if Turk doesn't have a dynamite series, if he can make LBJ work then I'll take it.

Like I said, my head tells me we can win this in 6 but my heart tells me that David Stern has his heart set on a LeBron-Kobe Finals and that's what he'll get.


That "Dead Snow" clip was fantastic. What killed me was when the zombies were approaching the man on the snowmobile, he had the choice to run away, shoot him up or just mow his ass down. He chose option C, much to my delight.

I can actually agree with you on Favre this time. He's not on a current roster so he's not holding up anyone's future plans like he did with Green Bay. The media took a possible conversation with Brad Childress and ran with it. I do have to wonder if Favre comes back, that John Madden follows him. They're BFF's you know.

I don't know if you caught "Kobe Doin' Work" the Spike Lee documentary about your BFF Kobe. You didn't miss much if you skipped out early on it. It was basically Kobed mic'd up during a Spurs game along with his commentary after the fact. That's it. A few things stood out to me about it.

1. Kobe kept noting Pau Gasol's high basketball IQ and said things like, "He picks up on things so easily" yet Kobe still barked orders at him. If his IQ is so high, shouldn't' he pick these things up?

2. During halftime, Kobe did most of the talking and Phil Jackson did most of the agreeing. This furthers the suspicions of many that Phil Jackson is extremely overrated as a NBA coach.

3. Rarely was the time or the score shown in the game. I have to believe this is because of the heavy editing done to take out all the times Kobe bitched at a teammate/referee in an attempt to display Kobe in a positive light.

4. While guarding Bruce Bowen, Kobe admitted to roaming on defense. When Michael Finley checked in, Kobe admitted it was, "time for me to be a lockdown defender". How hard is it to lockdown a 35 year old Michael Finley? This proves my point of stars taking it easy on D, yet being credited with being a lockdown defender. It's even better when they credit themselves as being a lockdown defender.

5. It was cool to see things you don't normally catch during a game like people holding jerseys, or tugging at shorts in a crowd and the interaction between refs and players.

6. I refuse to believe this is what Spike Lee had in mind. Love or hate his movies, I refuse to acknowledge that Spike Lee's idea of a documentary was putting a microphone on Kobe and then letting him do all the commentary through the game. This was a Kobe Bryant Joint with a foreword by Spike Lee.

Please tell me you read this. Basically James Harrison refuses to join his teammates at the White House to meet Barack Obama. Nothing wrong with that: Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. His reason?

"This is how I feel -- if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl. As far as I'm concerned, he [Obama] would've invited Arizona if they had won."

As far as I'm concerned, Pittsburgh only won the championship because they scored more points than Arizona. If the Cardinals scored more, they would have won the Super Bowl and this would all be moot.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Favre

I realized earlier today that I forgot to respond to your Favre question. Before I get to that, I'd like to take a moment to cross-promote.
I watched "Dead Snow" last night, and it was great. I reviewed it here, over at our Zombie Club blog. Head over, read the review, and watch the clip. It's pretty terrific.

Now...on to Favre.
Being a Favre apologist, I see this from a different angle. I've mentioned it before in this space, but I will mention it again, anyway.
I know people are sick of hearing about all of this. Will he come back? Will he play for the Vikings? Blah blah blah. He has gone from one of the most beloved players in recent memory to a media whore, willing to do anything to get the spotlight on himself. Really, it's pretty unfair.
Has he perpetuated this? Sure, to some degree. He's been having a hard time coming to terms with his retirement. If he could play again, why would he want to sit out? If someone came up to you and said, "Hey...I know you're old and everyone thinks you're washed up, but we want to pay you millions of dollars to play a game that you love for us," what would your response be? No matter what you've gone through, you'd be tempted to say yes...wouldn't you?
The overexposure of Favre has more to do with the media than it does with Favre. Look at what has happened the past couple of weeks. He may or may not have met with Brad Childress. He may have sent his x-rays to doctors. It seems as though he has just met with Dr. James Andrews. That's it. He has held zero press conferences. All of this information is coming from unnamed sources who claim to be close to Favre...but there are so many conflicting reports that it's not possible. He has done nothing to garner this level of coverage, outside of him being a living legend. Nothing. This is all media speculation. The media has completely blown this story out of the water, much like they have with every off-season Favre related story of the past 5 years. Favre is getting the backlash, but it should really be the media that is feeling the hatred.

If he can still play, let him do it. He played at a very high level for the Jets last year before partially tearing a muscle. People talk about last year like he was done. He wasn't done. He had a great beginning of the year, got injured, tried to play through it, and didn't play as well. Do these people realized that the Jets went from a 4-12 team to a 9-7 team that just barely missed the playoffs? Under Favre, they increased their wins by 5 games in a single year. That's quite a feat. It's obvious that Favre can still play. If he can come back from this muscle tear, I believe he'll have a good year next year.

I'm less than thrilled about the "I just want to get revenge on Green Bay" angle, but, if that's how he feels, I can understand it. I'm a Green Bay fan, and, after he announced his retirement, I believe they made a good move. Was it a little cold to shut him out after all the years he's given them? Sure...but they couldn't risk the confidence of their future quarterback for another year or two with Favre. It hurt, but it was the right move. From Favre's perspective, I can see where he would be hurt. I don't like that he'd be out for Green Bay's blood, but I can understand it.
Still, I can't hate the guy. I could find out tomorrow that he killed a puppy before every Packers game and I still couldn't hate him. He gave the Packers a ton of great years, and more memories than I can count. He won a Super Bowl, and had a good chance to win a second. He won 3 MVP awards. He was an extremely likeable guy, and a great leader of the team. I don't care what he does from this point on. I always have been and always will be a Favre fan.
But, even above that, I'm a Packers fan. I will cheer against him if he plays against the Packers this year. I will cheer against him if it will help the Packers playoff chances. That's just how it goes.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Crosby vs. Ovechvin vs. Zombies

You asked why Ovechkin isn't the face of the NHL. I know you and Ben have gone back-and-forth on this, but I feel the need to put in my two cents as well.
Here's a picture:
Now, I know that Crosby isn't the best looking man in the world (and he can't grow a playoff beard to save his life), but he's gorgeous when compared to Ovechkin.
Here's another reason: Crosby was anointed the savior of hockey before he was even drafted. Ovechkin wasn't nearly as hyped. Since Crosby has had so much success, people will obviously favor him over the less-hyped Ovechkin.
Ovechkin has also been seen as a little of a showboat. Personally, I don't care too much about that. The guy is absolutely amazing to watch. He can celebrate as much as he wants after a goal...it doesn't bother me a bit. But it bothers some people, and I know it has turned some people off to him.

The Wings beat the Ducks in Detroit tonight. I'm glad that series is over. Anaheim has given us nothing but trouble in the playoffs recently. They match up well against the Wings, and I was bracing for the worst. Thankfully they won (on a goal with less than 3 minutes remaining the game), but will now move on to play Chicago. That should be a great series.

Orlando won tonight, so that's good. Still, I'd be a bit concerned about a Game 7 in Boston. That's a hungry team, and the Magic don't really seem to be hyper-motivated. I'm hoping that the Celtics are taken down quickly, leaving no doubt. Let's just move on to Cavs/Magic.

The Cavs are looking fantastic, and I was ready to give them the trophy already, until I realized that they beat Detroit (39-43) and Atlanta (47-35). The way the Hawks played against the Heat, I figured they might lose a game against the Cavs by less than 10, but I never gave them a serious chance to win a game. Sure, the Cavs have gone 8-0 in the playoffs...but let's not go slapping anyone on the back just yet.

The Lakers are having a ridiculously hard time with the shorthanded Rockets. Shouldn't this series have been over in 5? I have little doubt that LA will show up in Game 7 and blow Houston out of the water...but what happens in the next round? The Nuggets have been playing great. At the beginning of the playoffs, I wouldn't give Denver too much of a chance. But now? I think I would actually pick the Nuggets to win. Who knew?

Great point on the defensive efforts of Kobe, LeBron, etc. I have thought about that from time to time. I've also thought about that in regards to football. Everyone talked about how bad the Broncos defense was last year, so I started thinking: what was the average starting position of the opposing team? How many of Cutler's 18 interceptions put the opposing team in Denver territory? How about the special teams? I know there are sites to look these up at...but I don't have the patience right now. Perhaps another time?
In going with your point about NBA defense, I just wonder how many of these stats that we look at at nothing more than face value have something more to them. We see points allowed, but we don't really look to see what other factors go into it. Just a thought. A jumbled thought, but a thought all the same.

Shocked by Manny? Not really. I can't really say that I'm shocked by much of anything these days. Manny was taking female fertility drugs. Okay. I'll buy that. When I heard it, I didn't feel shock, or disbelief, or any of those things. I let out a little laugh, shook my head, and went on about my business. I never really thought that he would be a guy who would use steroids before, but I'm not surprised that he did. I could find out tomorrow that Pujols has been pumping his body full of steroids for 15 years and I wouldn't bat an eyelash.
That's just the nature of the league today, I suppose. We've about so many people that have juiced that we've become desensitized to any story about someone else who has been using steroids. It's pretty sad. There are very few players currently in the league that I would be surprised to find out haven't used steroids at some point. If I found out that Curtis Granderson has been using steroids, I might cry a little. Pretty much everyone else would be fair game, though.

I'm sitting here watching a movie called "Dead Snow", a zombie movie with Nazi zombies. It's just starting to get good, so I guess I'll jump off here now.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sigh

This one hurt.


Badly.

I've been on the wrong end of plenty of last second shots in my lifetime, but this one is up there. Had Ray Allen or Paul Pierce this shot, you take it in stride and accept the fact that a Hall of Fame player made a great shot. Had Rajon Rondo or Eddie House made this shot, you chalk it up to a guy with a hot hand during most of the postseason making a clutch shot. Had Glen "Big Baby" Davis made this shot? You cry.

This man may have single-handedly ended our season. If that shot rims out, we go back to Boston up 3-1, with another game in Orlando. As it is, we go back to Boston tied 2-2 in what essentially is a best of 3 series...only two of those three games are in Boston. On one hand, we didn't play a great game of ball. Hedo Turkoglu, JJ Redick and Rafer Alston combined to go 6-28. An average night from even one of those three and we win that game. On the other hand, Boston got 2 points from their bench all night, their big men were in foul trouble and Paul Pierce played a good bit of the 4th quarter with 5 fouls and we couldn't take advantage of it. I've finally admitted to myself that we won't win the NBA Championship this year, but there is no reason we shouldn't get to the next round to scrimmage with the Cavs. Boston has to be getting exhausted by now. They've been playing roughly 6 guys, 6.5 if you want to include Marbury, for 2 weeks. We have to take advantage of this. We should be running down the court every chance we get for several reasons:


1. As Charles Barkley has said many times, there's not a big man in the league that can run with Dwight Howard for 48 minutes. If we pushed the ball, he'd get an extra 5 points a game at least.


2. As aforementioned, Boston is tired and they only play 6 guys. We need to run to keep these guys winded. Rondo and Big Baby are young, but Pierce and Allen are in their 30's and Perkins is drenched in sweat by the time KG screams his first profanity from the bench (roughly 30-40 seconds after tip off.


3. With Alston, Lee, Pietrus and Howard, we have guys who can finish in transition and draw fouls.


4. There's no downside to it. If Boston cuts off the fast break, we set up our offense and go on with our regularly scheduled program of surrounding Dwight with three point shooters. Everybody wins, namely Orlando.


Game 5 is a must win for us. We need a victory in Boston and then to close it out in Orlando in Game 6 because I don't like our chances of winning a Game 7 in Boston. I'm really hoping David Stern remembers that pitting LeBron vs. Dwight in the Conference Finals would be his best bet for ratings. 2 of his top 5 stars playing each other can only help the league. I look for Dwight Howard to go to the line a combined 40 times in Game 5 and 6.


Allow me to dust off my soapbox for 10 seconds.


After watching the Rockets handle the Lakers last night, I have to bring up something I've been thinking for years: How overrated is Kobe's defense? I use Kobe because Battier lit him up last night, but this could really go for Kobe/LeBron/Wade/etc. These guys are vaunted for their D: Kobe has been on the All Defensive team 9 times, LeBron made it last year, and this year came in second for Defensive Player of the Year and Wade has a couple All Defensive Team nods himself, but here's the thing: None of these guys guard the opposing teams best perimeter threat. Kobe guards Shane Battier, the Rockets 4th or 5th option. LeBron guards Maurice Evans in the Hawks series. Evans is the 5th option for Atlanta. Wade also guarded Evans when they played Atlanta. Evans/Battier don't score much, but that's not because of lockdown defense...it's because they are the 5th option on the team! Had LeBron/Wade guarded Joe Johnson on more than pivotal possessions than I would be impressed but how hard is it to guard a guy that shoots corner three's and nothing else? It's an outrage that Kobe continues to make All-Defensive first teams over the likes of Battier. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that holding a guy like Kobe to 33 points on 28 shots is a lot harder than holding Maurice Evans to 5 points on 4 shots. Call me crazy.


Ok, I'm putting the soapbox back in the corner...for now.


Favre considering yet another comeback? Even for a Favre fan like yourself, doesn't this have to get ridiculous at some point?


I've been catching up on the Reds lately and sans Volquez getting rocked last night, we've been playing some good baseball. Votto is the real deal ,Bruce will only get better and it's always a plus when you can bring a pitcher off the bench to pinch hit. I'm a little worried about Brandon Phillips low average but he has been hitting the ball a lot better of lately and I expect his average to keep rising. I still stand by my claim that this year they will finish around .500, but next year we'll push for the division title.


What say you on Manny? I can honestly say I was shocked by this news because Manny was one star I really believed was doing it naturally. He wasn't a mountain of a man like A-Rod or McGwire, he was just fat like Griffey and Ruth...and isn't that how all great baseball players should be?


What's the deal with Crosby getting more hype than Ovechkin? I'll be the first to admit that I'm no hockey head, but I've caught parts of the Caps-Penguin series and from what I see, Ovechkin is/should be the face of the league, but Crosby gets the hype. What gives?