Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Playoff and NFL Draft Talk!

Well the first round of the NBA playoffs is in the books and I couldn't be happier...whats that you say? Teams are still playing? Oh...I checked out after Orlando advanced. Whatever. Just a few thoughts on the series.

- Impressive display by Orlando. Dwight Howard and Vince Carter gave almost nothing...and we still swept. Jameer Nelson was a man possessed and Rashard Lewis played the best ball I've seen him play in months. I see Dwight having a big series against whoever we face next because neither Atlanta or Milwaukee has the bigs to throw at him.
- Yes I would do unethical, potentially illegal things to get Vince Carter off this team and Gerald Wallace on it. Thanks for asking.
- Chicago is going to be a force. If they could somehow pull in Chris Bosh and/or Joe Johnson will that cap money, watch out. I love Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Luol Deng did his best on LeBron defensively and still put in 20 a game on offense. Everyone else on that team can be beaten and left for dead though.
- Speaking of LeBron, he had an excellent series, but where was this great man to man defense he allegedly has? Deng averaged a respectable 19 ppg, 5 baords a game on 46% FG shooting all while chasing around LeBron for most of the game. Tim Legler's defensive player of the year can't shut down Luol Deng?
- Speaking of LeBron again, he's really a class act, isn't he?

I know this is will be over analyzed, but videos like this are funny to me. Sadly there is no video of Mo Williams stopping his free throws to come over and pick up Dads..I mean LeBrons warmups.
- Chris Bosh's best chance at winning is joining Oklahoma City. He's not made to be a #1 but it came out this week that he's looking to be just that. I'm calling it right now: Any team that signs Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire or Rudy Gay to a deal exceeding 80 million dollars will not get past the second round of the playoffs. It's going to be hilarious to watch the Knicks panic and give 5 years, 90 million to Rudy Gay. Same thing with whoever gives Carmelo Anthony a max deal next year.
-As expected, Deron Williams is molesting Chauncey Billups and cementing his status as the best PG in the league. For the record, I've believed this before Paul went down with his annual injury.

I caught an episode of "Basketball Wives" this week and before gouging my eyes out, I made note of something very interesting. For a long time, Bill Simmons has said every NBA beef is over gambling or women. The mother of Dwight Howard's child is a former dancer for Orlando...and the Miami Heat. She was with the Heat during Shaq's tenure. There has to be some history there right? As immature as Shaq has proven to be, even the beef over a nickname is a little low, no? This beef is over a woman...and not much of a prize woman if I say so myself. What a shame.

Jumping to the NFL, I like how people are jumping to contribute Ben Roethlisberger's deviant behavior to his concussion history. Yes, that's it. I've been concussed myself and had no desire afterwards to force a coed into the bathroom to make some time with her. Maybe the second concussion is the charm. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

The Bengals had a solid draft, but I'm a little disappointed we didn't draft Dez Bryant after he fell to us. Gresham is nice, but Bryant would have been a contributor this year and our #1 next year after Chad inevitably leaves. I hate the Carlos Dunlap pick. I watched that guy quarter ass it for 3 years at Florida, and his character concerns don't help. I wish we would have made a trade to pickup a playmaking safety because another year with Chris Crocker and Roy Williams as our safeties is....underwhelming to say the least.

Oh no, Edinson Volquez busted for using performance enhancing drugs! Shouldn't he be rewarded for this? We know about Dusty Baker's history with young arms so shouldn't Volquez be appreciated for doing what it takes to keep his right arm attached to his body? Now he'll miss 50 games...but he won't be back in the rotation for at least 50 games, so he's not missing any starts...way to show him Bud Selig!

Ever been in the computer lab whistling "Careless Whisper" by George Michael, then realized where you were and you were whistling a little too loudly? Yea, me neither.

I don't know if you are familiar with Wiz Khalifa, but he dropped an outstanding mixtape last week. I know you aren't a fan of mixtapes but this really sounds like an album. Fantastic production, even on the skits, and there's a very old school feel to it. This is why I love the mixtape era. 4 years ago, a roommate from Pittsburgh tried to put me on to a local named Wiz Khalifa. I tried him and wasn't sold. About two years ago I stumbled on a tape of his by accident and liked it. Nothing special, but much improved from the first time I heard him. Now two more years later, I keep hearing about this tape so I downloaded it and really enjoyed it. I got to hear Wiz try things out, develops his style, flow, content and ear for beats...and it didn't cost me a dime. In the past I would have to buy his album and after spending money on it, if I didn't like it I was probably done with him for good. Now I can test drive him and decide if I like him enough to buy the album he'll eventually put out. I'd even go as far to say that I prefer a good mixtape to a good album. With the album, there's the obligatory club song, a song for the ladies, one for the streets, etc. Mixtapes are whatever the artist wants, for better or worse. Here's a link if interested. I highly recommend it.

I leave you with this video because it never fails to crack me up. Keep your eyes peeled for an appearance from a favorite of yours and mine.....well actually he's just a favorite of mine.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Playoff talk and John Calipari

I hear you on not ordering pay-per-view boxing events. I don't order them myself. The good thing about the downfall of boxing is that I can always find a good online stream for the big fights. I can't get through a meaningless February game of Orlando playing Milwaukee without the stream cutting out multiple times, but I got through Jones-Hopkins unscathed. I think people feel bad for boxing and let the streams live.

ESPN had a special last night where Jon Gruden watched film with Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy. It was fantastic. He went over their strengths, was brutally honest about their weaknesses and showed them some NFL tape of why the Drew Brees' and Brett Favres of the NFL have the success they do. I only wish he would have brought this insight to Monday Night Football last season. This could absolutely work in the NBA. I'd love to see a Jeff Van Gundy or Hubie Brown go over the game with some NBA draft prospects. Kudos to ESPN.

John Calipari is wasting no time on the recruiting trail. He had already pulled 5 star center Enes Kanter and 4 star swingman Stacey Poole before the season ended. Recently he landed Rivals #1 overall recruit Brandon Knight, and 5 star SG Doron Lamb. Then he went ahead and inked next year's #1 recruit Mike Gilchrist, who I've heard is nothing short of a beast. Top PF's CJ Leslie and Terrence Jones are expected to make their decisions soon. If we can get at least one of those guys, a Fab Five-esque season could potentially be in effect. I have my doubts about Cal's coaching, but I can't knock his recruiting. He's one of the best in the business. I've already heard the jokes about how much is he paying Knight or Gilchrist, and I don't believe them. With his track record, Cal doesn't have to do his recruiting. Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall, Demarcus Cousins: These guys are doing his recruiting. Guys are seeing that one year with Cal can make them a lottery pick and it's an easy decision. Roy Williams wanted no part of John Wall, apparently because he was a one-and done player. One 16-16 season later, Williams inked this years #1 guy Harrison Barnes, who is considered a one and done player. What a difference a year can make.

Well the dirty details from the Roethlisberger case came out and I can't say I'm surprised at all. I am a bit surprised at this though. Apparently Roethlisberger had a similar situation last year in Las Vegas that no one is talking about. For those keeping score, that's three alleged cases of sexual assault to Big Ben's name within the last two calendar years. If Pittsburgh is really going to claim they hold their players to a higher standard than the rest of the league, I don't see how they can keep him. Why isn't St. Louis working the phones with Pittsburgh? Throw that number one pick at them in an attempt to get Roethlisberger off their hands. The Rams welcomed Leonard Little, who killed a woman in a drunk driving accident and still found time to get another DUI after the incident. Whats a little sexual assault to vehicular manslaughter, huh?

The playoffs are among us so I'll drop my picks for the first round.

Eastern Conference

Cleveland vs. Chicago- I can't see this being much of a series. Derrick Rose has been great lately and Joakim Noah is back on the court, but that's about it. The only thing that could make this series interesting is that ongoing beef that Noah and LeBron have going. Noah is an old school type player, and I'm interested to see if he'll put LeBron on his ass at least once during the series. He already has my respect for calling James out for dancing during the game, but he'd quickly climb the list of my favorite athletes if he sends James into the third row with an old school playoff foul. Cavs in 4.

Orlando vs. Charlotte- There's a lot of people picking the upset and claiming that Larry Brown is about to coach circles around Stan Van Gundy. While he may do that, he's not the one on the court. I don't think Charlotte has the talent or experience to hold up. Dwight's presence turns Captain Jack and Gerald Wallace into jump shooters which plays into Orlando's hands. Orlando in 5.

Atlanta vs. Milwaukee- It's a shame Andrew Bogut got hurt because the Bucks were playing good ball and this could have been an excellent first round matchup. Now the Bucks are going to have to rely on Brandon Jennings and John Salmons to get past the Hawks. I think there's a sense of urgency with this Atlanta team because all signs point to Joe Johnson leaving, but they won't have enough money to replace him with a max player. Hawks in 5.

Boston vs. Miami- I think this could be a solid series. Of course Boston has the edge talent wise, but they've checked out mentally. Miami is lacking in talented players not named Dwyane Wade, but they play hard. I see Wade going off as usual and Michael Beasley having a surprisingly good series because no one on Boston can guard him. Miami in 6.

Western Conference

Los Angeles- Oklahoma City- Should be a riveting series to say the least. Phil Jackson has Kevin Durant riled up. Russell Westbrook is going to do foul, unprintable things to Derek Fisher. Thabo Sefolosha is going make Kobe work for his points. I just don't think those three will be enough. The Thunder still blow a lot of close games, as a team this young should. Maybe next year. LA in 6.

Dallas vs. San Antonio- Should be another solid series. This may be the Spurs last hurrah because Duncan is running on fumes and Parker/Ginobili are no spring chickens themselves. I honestly have no idea which way this goes. Dallas looks better on paper but SA has looked good recently. Dallas in 7???

Phoenix vs. Portland- Losing Brandon Roy is a heart breaker for Portland. This could have been a dynamite series if he was healthy. As is, I don't think Portland has enough offense to keep up with Nash and the gang. Jerryd Bayless will have a great series though. Everyone talks about how great Phoenix's trainers are in keeping Nash/Hill on the court. What's the deal with Portland's? Oden, Pryzbilla, Roy and many others have all suffered setbacks this year and it seems every year. What gives? Phoenix in 5.

Utah-Denver- Again, an injury derails what could have been a great series. Andrei Kirilenko will miss this series, which bodes well for Denver. Deron Williams proves he has taken the throne as best PG in the league after what he's going to do to Billups in this series. Too bad Denver doesn't make it to the second round for George Karl's return. Utah in 7.

Your Red Wings and my Magic made it to the Finals last year and each came up short. Here's to a brand new playoffs.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pistons eye the Championship

Loved the "punch Ricky Hatton in his belly" line.  Killed me.

It's not that I'm against boxing...I just don't get a chance to watch much of it.  Most of the big fights are on pay-per-view, and I don't play that game.  I've watched some old fights (Ali, Frazier, etc.), and I saw Pacquio destroy De La Hoya.  I've seen a number of Mayweather highlights.  A Pacquio/Mayweather fight wouldn't draw me in to a pay-per-view, but I'd definitely try to track it down later.  From what I've seen of both of them, it should be a great fight.  I hope it happens.  Boxing is a dying sport...I believe a Pacquio/Mayweather fight could really bring some more interest to boxing.

Of the first round playoff match-ups, I'd be most excited to see the Thunder/Lakers series.  The Lakers haven't looked great lately, and they'd be playing a hungry, defensive-minded team with a superstar (Durant) who could go for 35+ each game.  I may actually have to take the Thunder in that series.
However, I'm really pulling for the Pistons.  I think they have a great shot at the title this year.
(What's that?  The Pistons have been out of contention for months?  Nonsense!  Why, they spent a ton of money on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva this summer.  There's no way they're on the outside looking in.)

I'm with you on the LeBron/Dwight defensive player of the year argument.  Dwight wins in a landslide.  Still, I can see where people would think that LeBron is a better defensive player.  While Dwight controls the lane, altering/blocking anything in his path, he can seem a bit boring.  Sure, we know that he alters a ton of shots...but we don't always see it on a play-to-play basis.  He just looks like he's working down by the basket.  However, LeBron makes the flashy plays.  Chasing down a breakaway and swatting away a lay-up.  Darting into the passing lane for a steal.  He does these things, and, since he's on the perimeter, we see them.  Dwight is working underneath.  A lot of what he does goes unappreciated.

The NHL Playoffs start tomorrow.  After struggling through a subpar season riddled with injuries, the Wings finally got everyone back and healthy...and have been on a tear ever since.  Since the Olympics, the Wings have gone 16-3-2.  They went from a borderline playoff team to the 5th seed.  They're healthy.  They're hungry.  They're talented.  And they're killing everyone.  Consider me hyped.

You talk about the Reds stats in a mocking tone...as well you should.  What we've seen so far is but a small sample of the season.  It's too early to start projecting stats.
Still...
Have you seen the Tigers this year?  6-2, baby!  Cabrera is hitting .433.  Austin Jackson, Ordonez, Guillen, Sizemore and Inge are all hitting above .300.  Zumaya has a 0.00 ERA.  This is our year.
I know I swore off baseball after the Granderson trade...but I can't help it.  I can't stop the excitement once we get within a month of opening day.  I'm still broken up over the Granderson trade (never more so than when the Tigers lost last week...and Granderson hit the game-winning homer in the 10th for the Yankees on the same night), but it's getting better.  Seeing him in a Yankees uniform is tough.  But it's not enough to keep me away from baseball.

I was shocked that the Steelers traded Holmes.  Did not see that coming.  It seems like they weren't planning on resigning him, so they decided to see what they could get for him.  A 5th round pick for 12 games isn't terrible...but he was the Super Bowl MVP a little over a year ago.  Certainly they could have gotten more for him than that.  You're telling me a team wouldn't give up at least a 3rd round pick for him?  I find that hard to believe.
The thing that kills me about the Holmes case is that someone has already come forward and said, "Yeah...I threw the glass.  Me.  Sorry 'bout that."  Holmes didn't do it.  Yet the cop in Georgia all but said in his press conference, "Roethlisberger is a rapist...we just didn't have the evidence to convict him at this time."  I know that people are innocent until proven guilty...but Roethlisberger is guilty.  But hey...let's keep him on the team. At least he didn't throw a glass in anyone's face.  Plus...does this look like the face of a serial rapist to you?


Um...scratch that.
I think it came down to this: Holmes was going to be suspended for violating the drug policy this season.  The Steelers knew they were only going to get 12 games out of him, then not resign him after the season, so they thought they'd trade him.
Roethlisberger may get suspended for a game or two, but nothing more than that.  He's still under contract for another couple years.  Perhaps if they felt Dixon was ready, they'd trade Roethlisberger, too...but I doubt it.  It's harder to find a good quarterback than a good wide receiver.
I don't see the Steelers doing very well this year.  Just a hunch.

I see your plea for Campbell...but I don't agree with it.  I like Matt Moore.  I think he's going to be very good for Carolina.  Perhaps they could bring Campbell aboard as a back-up...but he's not going to like that.  I think the Panthers are happy with Moore, and they're not looking to replace him.
Jacksonville might not be a terrible fit.  They have Garrard, so, again, Campbell would be a back-up.  Garrard is a little older, though, which would give Campbell a better chance to grab the starting role.  But who is he throwing to?  The receiving options in Jacksonville aren't any better than the receiving options in Washington.  Plus, I'm still not convinced Campbell can throw accurately any further than 15 yards down the field.  He's going to have to show me something before I can back your plan.
I can't believe you're still holding onto Russell.  Let that one go, man.

That's right Allen, I'm talking about the playoffs

I know your not a boxing fan so I'll make this brief: To whom it may concern, the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquio fight has to happen or boxing will cease to exist over the next 5-10 years. I just watched Roy Jones Jr and Bernard Hopkins, two of the best of their era, fall around the ring. Jones, 41, refused to throw a punch and Hopkins, 45, overreacted to every punch Jones did throw. It was truly an abysmal fight. Mayweather and Shane Mosley is a couple of weeks away and should be a solid fight, but I can't see Mosley beating Mayweather. He's too quick. The plus side to this is that HBO has began running their "24/7" specials which follow each boxer leading up the big fight. Mayweather is hysterical as usual. I ran across some quotes of his from previous fights. Read these and tell me this man doesn't need to be followed by multiple camera's every moment of his life.

"Ricardo Mayorga is a bum, I'd blow him out the water like my fists were torpedoes."

"Ricky Hatton aint nothin but a fat man, I'm gonna punch him in his belly when I see him"

"When I retire, I'll get Ricky Hatton to wash my clothes, mow my lawn and buckle my shoes"

"Shane Mosley got a Jerry Curl , its 2010. He must have jumped in that hot tub time machine."

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Floyd is quickly climbing the ranks among my favorite athletes of all time.

The playoffs are here and seedings are almost set in stone. Orlando is all but guaranteed to face Larry Brown and the Charlotte Bobcats. While it should be a good series, I'm not as worried as I should be according to those sounding the upset alarm. We are 3-1 against Charlotte this year and swept them last year. They have the best defense in the playoffs and the worst offense. Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace would each have to defend a Vince Carter/Rashard Lewis for 40 minutes, score 25-30 points a game on offense and do it for 7 games. I can't see that happening. Some other interesting matchups in the playoffs are the Lakers getting to play Kevin Durant and the Thunder. Utah and Phoenix should be a battle. Actually, any round one matchup in the West will be good basketball. I'm stoked for the playoffs.

I really hate to beat a dead horse, but I must. In a poll of ESPN personalities, 19 of 20 gave the Defensive Player of the Year to Dwight Howard. Tim Legler gave it to LeBron James. I don't see how you possibly justify that decision. Nevermind that LeBron plays with Anderson Varejao, Delonte West, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and even Shaq is a solid man to man defender, and Dwight Howard gets Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis. Nevermind that Orlando is ahead of Cleveland in several defensive categories. Dwight Howard defends his man and everyone else's every night. He has to account for his man under the rim, and whoever dares to come in to the lane. LeBron James is guarding the other team's 4th or 5th option, except in key situations of the game. Any time he's matched up against a talent, he's gets abused. Durant hung 34 and 29 on him in two meetings this season. Carmelo put 40 points and the game winning shot in his face. It's not just this season either. Last year in the playoffs, he was paired up with Mickael Pietrus in the Eastern Conference Finals and let Pietrus drop three after three. The year before that Paul Pierce hung 41 on him in a Game 7. How does the myth that LeBron James is a good defender, and Defensive Player of the Year candidate, still have legs? It's wildly inaccurate. I'm not saying Dwight Howard is the pinnacle of defense in the NBA, because there are other worthy candidates for the award. Gerald Wallace, Josh Smith and Ron Artest are all names worthy to be mentioned in the conversation. LeBron James is not.

Santonio Holmes was traded to the Jets in what amounted to be unarmed robbery in favor of New York. I'm glad to see Holmes out of the division, but the Jets have put together some nice options for Mark Sanchez. He'll have Holmes, Braylon Edward (who could be dangerous as a #2), Jerrico Cotchery, Dustin Keller and Shonn Greene. Carson Palmer is stuck with Antonio Bryant and Matt Jones. Life's unfair. I respect the Steeler's laying down the law regarding what type of behavior they will tolerate in their locker room, but I'm just trying to get this straight. There's no room for a man who allegedly threw a glass at a woman in a night club (Holmes), but there is room for a man allegedly accused of sexual assault...twice (Roethlisberger) and an alleged woman beater (James Harrison)? Makes sense.

The Reds have won two in a row! Maybe I was wrong about Dusty Baker! Chapman struck out 9 in less than 5 innings of work, call him up! Watch out Bonds, Scott Rolen is on pace for 81 homers! Nevermind the 9.00 ERA, Nick Masset is undefeated this year! I always knew this was Cincy's year to shine!

This is my open plea for the Panthers to make a move for Jason Campbell. We disagree about Campbell but I'm certain he can be a solid quarterback for a team with some pieces around him. Carolina is that team. He can be had for a late round pick and would give Matt Moore some competition at the QB spot. I'm convinced he can succeed with that offensive line, defense and Stewart/Williams getting carries. I also think the Cardinals wouldn't be a bad look for him. I don't know how sold they are on the Leinart/Anderson pairing but I think Campbell would be a good fit. San Francisco (who should have jumped all over Donovan McNabb) wouldn't be a bad spot for him either. I'm convinced this guy can be a solid quarterback in the NFL. He, Brady Quinn and Jamarcus Russell were my three guys last year that I thought could be solid playcallers in the league...though I'm losing faith in Jamarcus.