Friday, May 28, 2010

Keeping Hope Alive!

I absolutely believe we can win this series. I can't say I'm expecting it because Boston is one of the few teams in the league that can turn it on for one game when they need to and Game 6 will be a battle, but I'm fully invested. After Game 3, I had began shutting down my emotions so I wouldn't be as sad if the sweep happened. Now I'm back in. Tenfold. We proved we can win in Boston this year and last, so tonight will be a battle. The only thing that worries me is the officiating. It has been awful in this series, especially in Game 5. From a referee tossing a ball at a fan, to Vince Carter (more on her later) getting a tech for reacting on the sideline, to the atrocious calls in Game 5. Look, there was no one happier to see Kendrick Perkins get ejected in the first half than myself...but those calls were terrible. Truly terrible. If Stern wants to kill any talks of shady officiating, then Boston is getting every single call tonight. I've already mentally prepared for it, kicked my dog and broke my remote control in advance. You know, to save time later on. So to answer your question, my hopes are sky high for an Orlando comeback. After all the success the Boston/New England area has had over the past 10 years or so, it's only fair they host two of the biggest collapses in sports history, right?

You mentioned Rashard Lewis not showing up, but to his defense he has shown up...just not on offense. No one is talking about it because Boston is winning, but Kevin Garnett is averaging 10 ppg, 8 rpg, .6 blocks per game on 37% FG shooting. He's playing horribly, but getting a pass because of the poor play of Shard and VC. To be fair, Shard has made up for his subpar offense with surprisingly good defense on Garnett. During Game 4 after KG and Dwight got into it, I was curious to see how both would react. Garnett was at home and had the crowd fired up against Howard and Orlando. Dwight, who somehow has a reputation of being soft, was expected to fold up on the road. Hardly. After the skirmish in the 3rd quarter, Garnett had 2 points, 3 rebounds and 3 turnovers the rest of the game. Dwight? 13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks. The point? Kevin Garnett is who we thought he was. Take the Super Bowl for instance. Millions were baited into thinking that Peyton Manning had changed his stripes because he won a Super Bowl. A select few, you and I among them, knew better. If given a chance in the clutch, he would fail. And he did. Same with Garnett. After winning a ring, people stopped questioning his clutch factor, especially after he put up a 26-14 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals...nevermind LA quit that game and lost by 40. This series is coming down to a point where every possession matters, and KG is the same player he's always been. You've been warned Boston.

Now for Vince Carter. I'm done with him. Washed my hands of him. From here on out, I expect nothing from him so anything he gives us will come as a pleasant surprise. You've witnessed me trying to talk myself into him over the past season. No more. If you can't get up for the Conference Finals and a chance to cement your legacy as a possible Hall of Famer, when you have a more than favorable matchup, I'm done with you. Vince Carter should be eating Ray Allen alive. JJ Redick has thoroughly outplayed him this series and I'm glad Stan Van Gundy is trying to send a message to him. During crunch time, he's on the bench. At the end of the Game 5 blowout, Carter was in with four other bench players. I don't know if you can shame a guy that doesn't care, but I like SVG for trying. Still, even Vince Carter is bound to have a Vince Carter game. I guarantee it. I would hope it comes tonight, but one game he is going to do everything he is supposed to do and spark more "Why doesn't he always do that?" stories. It's a lock. Vince Carter is going for at least 25 points in either Game 6, or Game 7 if we make it. Why? Because that's what he does. Ropes you in, plays well, sucks miserably, then ropes you in with another good performance. Rinse, lather, repeat. Watch what I say.

LeBron in Orlando? I could definitely dig it. It's not that I dislike LeBron...I'm just no fan of his. He's an excellent player, seems like a jerk off the court, and he's somewhat a rival of my favorite team. I see him no differently than a Paul Pierce, Ray Lewis, etc. The difference is that LeBron is in the limelight so much, that when he fails, there are more jokes to crack, and I do love cracking wise at his expense. But I'd welcome him to Orlando with open arms as we won 75 regular season games and cruised to a championship. I've been telling anyone that will listen that if LeBron truly cares about winning, he signs a two year deal in Orlando for the minimum, dominates the league and then hits free agency again. Why go play with Chris Bosh when he hasn't won anything either? Hell he hasn't been past the first round! If I were him, I would seriously have to consider taking a small deal for a season or two for a chance to get that ring and break some history. It would never happen, but I can dream.

The Lakers-Suns series has been a lot better than I expected. Phoenix isn't afraid of this LA team and I expect them to prove it once again in Game 6. The loss last night was a heartbreaker in every sense of the word. If it was Kobe, you live with one of the greatest to do it hitting another game winner. But Ron Artest? That one is gonna hurt for a while. I would much rather play Phoenix than LA. The chance for revenge is tempting but I'm not so sure we would get it. Kobe is playing some of the best ball of his career, which is saying something, and Gasol has been dynamite this postseason. With Phoenix, we match up much better. They can't throw the zone at us, because we can shoot. Playing uptempo ball benefits us because it gets Dwight easy buckets, and our guys love to shoot. We could also turn it into a halfcourt game, because I like Robin Lopez, but he can't defend Dwight Howard by himself. Backup center Channing Frye would have even less success. Though Nash and Grant Hill would scare me though. Not because we can't matchup with them, but because those two would go through fire to win that ring. It would be nice getting a chance to beat Grant Hill who embezzled funds from Orlando for 7 years, before splitting for Phoenix. That matchup looks unlikely at this point, but I'm still holding out hope.

I was watching "HBO Real Sports" last night because Bryant Gumbel never fails to crack me up. Sometimes its intentional, but most time it is unintentional. File this one under the "unintentional" category. I think you'll enjoy it.



He calls Shaq a "professional" and an"exemplary citizen". I mean Gumbel has a point. Other than Shaq beefing with Penny Hardaway. And Brian Hill. And Kobe Bryant. And Dwyane Wade. And Pat Riley. And Phil Jackson. And Stan Van Gundy. And Bill Walton. And Dwight Howard. And Jalen Rose. And Steve Nash. And the rumors of sleeping with Gilbert Arenas' fiance`. Other than those minor incidents, Shaq has been a stand up guy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Orlando & Phoenix

Where are you on this Orlando series right now?  As you know all too well, I hate the Celtics.  Perhaps not as much as the Red Sox, but I hate them.  I would love nothing more than to see the Magic come back from a 3-0 series hole to beat them (after the Bruins blew a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers, there's a good chance that half the city of Boston would kill themselves if this happened).
The way the Magic have been playing recently, it is not outside the realm of possibility for them to win this series.  To win, they need Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson to get going...both of which have happened over the past couple of games.  It would be nice if Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis would show up...I keep waiting for it, but it has not happened yet.  If they can get it going, they should win this series.  Even if they don't get it going, the Magic can still win with Howard and Nelson playing at a high level.  Being in a 3-0 hole, the Magic have no room for error.  They have to play two more great games.  They can do it...but it will be tough, especially against a motivated Boston team.
Are you getting your hopes up for a big comeback, or are you bracing yourself for a letdown?

Quick question: If LeBron went to Orlando, would you like him?  I know you're not the biggest fan of his, but I have to assume that you would cheer for him if he were on your own team.

The Lakers beat the Suns tonight on Artest's last-second tip-in.  Very disappointing.  I was looking forward to a Magic/Suns Finals, but it's not looking like it's going to happen.  The Lakers, after looking severely unmotivated by the end of the season, have really turned it on in the playoffs.  They're a tough team to beat.

If you had your choice, who would you rather the Magic face in the Finals: the Lakers or the Suns?

I don't know why, but today I had a strong urge for the NFL season to start.  We still have a ways.  I guess I'll have to watch some old Packers games to get my fix.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The John Wall Era begins

Congrats to you as well my friend. You know, I didn't think I would feel any different after graduation, but I do. I feel much smarter and hence, much better than anyone I encounter. It's a good feeling. Thanks Gatton!

Sorry about your ticket fiasco. That's a rough one, but at least you were able to get a refund. As I was reading, I was almost positive that they would only give you a partial refund because you had already purchased. That whole "being white" thing is finally paying some dividends!

I honestly don't know how to feel about the Boston-Orlando series. I'm not as angry as I thought I would be considering we dropped two games at home. I'm certainly disappointed that Boston has outhustled us in both games. I'm not too worried because we've proven we can win in Boston and they aren't a very good home team this year. I am a tad concerned because with the amount of heart we've been playing with, we could be swept...as well we should. I hoped for a Boston-Orlando rematch and I'm getting what I asked for. There were a couple of things I hadn't counted on though.

1. Somewhere between the end of the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs, Kevin Garnett had an epiphany. He realized that knee wasn't getting better and that elite athleticism was gone for good. He began playing within his means. He stopped taking as many gambles knowing that his athleticism couldn't save him anymore. This makes him much more dangerous. It's like LeBron (who I'll get to in a minute) realizing, "Hey, my jumper is streaky. I'm just going to play within my means and take it to the basket every time." This new Garnett is kryptonite for Orlando because he can still work Rashard Lewis on offense and make him work on defense.

2. Rajon Rondo taking it to another level. Good Lord.

3. Rashard Lewis passing away some time between Game 4 against Atlanta and Game 1 against Boston. 2 games, 11 points, 4-16 from the field, 1-9 from 3P range. $110 million well spent

4. Jameer Nelson shitting the bed. This series is made for him. The Celtics have Perkins/Wallace/Garnett down low so the paint isn't an option. Good. His game is from 15-22 feet anyway. He should be killing right now. Rondo is a good defender, but Jameer is a great shooter. Or at least he was.

5. The refs being insane. There were plenty of terrible call/no-calls, but this takes the cake. A heckler was letting a ref have it during a timeout so the ref tosses the ball to the fan. The fan tosses it back...and gets ejected from the game. Ridiculous.



6. Not really something I didn't expect, but something on my mind. Dwight Howard can't win. In Game 1, he was visibly frustrated on offense, and critics killed his lack of a post game. After Game 2, I read things about how Dwight should be able to dunk it every time with that athleticism. Which is it?

Even with all that, we had a chance to win Game 2...until Vince Carter stepped to the line.

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I kid you not, I saw this look in real time before he shot and knew we were boned. Then JJ Redick got a rebound on the other end and instead of calling a TO with 7.9 seconds remaining, waited until 3.5 seconds were left. Meaning we had to go three quarters court in 3.5 seconds. A surprising blunder by JJ whose basketball IQ is normally terrific. Oh well, here's to turning things around in Game 3...though I'm not getting my hopes up.

I love John Wall in Washington. That's a team that needed a new face of a franchise possibly more than any other team in the lottery. With Strasburg, Ovechkin and now Wall, Washington is collecting a lot of guys with star potential, save Ovechkin who is already there. Washington already has a solid young big man in Andray Blatche (averaged a 20 ppg-7 rpg-3 apg after Antawn Jamison was traded) and now they get Wall. I've heard talk of Arenas and Wall playing together, and it could work I suppose, but if I'm Washington I don't take any chances. He'll be tough to trade with his baggage, injury history and contract but someone will take him. He can put fans in seats and the ball in the basket. I guarantee someone will take a chance on him. I can see Atlanta making a move to replace the scoring that Joe Johnson will take with him, or Memphis taking a flier on him trying to replace Rudy Gay's 20 ppg. Even if you take on a bad contract in return, you have to start over and give the keys to Wall. If I'm not mistaken, the Wizards will have a few dollars in cap space to throw at a second tier free agent, so I think they are in good shape.

I haven't heard the new Janelle Monae. I heard some of the EP she put out a couple of years ago and liked what I heard. It was different, but enjoyable.

Now for LeBron. I could type until I was blue in the face about that Celtics series, his looming free agency and the allegations that Delonte West was making time with his mother. But ESPN is doing more than enough of that for me, so I'll let some pictures I found do the talking. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

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And last but not least, my favorite:

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Back from the dead

I would apologize for my absence...but I won't.  School, holmes...school.  Thankfully, I'm done with that.  As are you.  Congrats, by the way.  Welcome to the "real world"...it's nothing like they say it is.

A small story from my sports life...then condolences for you.

As a graduation present, Sharon bought me tickets for a game in the Wings/Sharks playoff series.  That, my friend, is exciting.  Playoff hockey.  She had not yet bought the tickets...rather, she authorized me too.  I would be able to buy 4 tickets; one for me, and one for each brother.
The only game we could make was Game 6, so we watched the series closely.
The Wings proceeded to drop the first two games in the series.  Not good.  Still, the series was heading back to Detroit. Surely they would win their two home games, guaranteeing a Game 6.  I held off on buying the tickets until I was sure there would be a game.  I decided to purchase the tickets in the third period of Game 3, with the Wings up 3-1.  I tracked down the tickets I wanted (lower level, ten rows back...right by the penalty box).  I purchased the tickets...and the score was 3-2.  "You'd better not lose this," I said to the screen.
Sharks score again.  3-3.
Sharks win it in overtime.
3-0 series.
The Wings win the next one with a vengeance...7-1, with Franzen accounting for 6 of the points (4 goals, 2 assists...he had a hat trick in the first period).
"Just win the next game...just win the next game."
Wings lost Game 5 in San Jose.  That's the series.
I sent my tickets back for a refund the next day.
There are things worse than a loss, my friend.  I'm not sure when I'll recover from this one.

Now...to you.
The Magic looked great through the first two series, but, as of tonight, are down 2-0 to the Celtics.  Dwight had a good game tonight (30 points on 9-13 shooting), but Lewis had another terrible night (6 points), and they lost a late lead (after coming back to take the lead in the first place).  That's two tough losses...at home.  I know the Magic still have a shot...they're a good team, and they can catch fire.  It's certainly not looking good at the moment, though.  Just hold on.  It's not over yet.

It looks like John Wall may be heading to the Wizards.  Thoughts?

I haven't forgotten about that Johnny Cash best-of.  I'm working on it.
Speaking of music...have you heard that Janelle Monae album?  It came out today.  Inventive R&B.  And she has a killer voice.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Playoffs and Pacquiao

Well, school is over so I can officially devote an unhealthy amount of time into the NBA playoffs! I'm not getting too excited yet, but Orlando is playing some damn good basketball. Game 2 vs. Atlanta was a perfect example. Dwight dominated the first quarter scoring 18 points and pulling down 5 boards. The second quarter went to the Hawks but Jameer Nelson scored 13 points in the third quarter, including a heartbreaking three at the buzzer. Vince Carter woke up and closed the game with 11 points in the fourth quarter alone. Maybe we can't count on Vince for 4 straight playoff series, but so far we haven't needed him. Last night was probably the first game since the playoffs began where we needed him to make plays down the stretch, and he delivered. Of course, we'll need him more frequently assuming we make it to the Eastern Conference Finals and beyond, but I think the law of averages is on our side. The Hawks definitely have some decisions to make. Joe Johnson is a free agent after the season and will want max money, but is not worthy of it. Josh Smith's body language on television is horrible, so I can imagine how bad it is sitting on the bench with him. Mike Bibby is done. Al Horford is a good young player, but may be playing out of position. Marvin Williams brings nothing to the table and Jamal Crawford is good for scoring and scoring only. This offseason will be interesting for Atlanta, because that core is maxed out.

I'm getting tired of LeBron's elbow-gate already. I do think he's playing it up a bit, but I also know the media is giving it entirely too much attention. James scoring 35 in Game 1 was all I needed to say to know that he's fine. To say it bothered him in Game 2, when he "only" scored 24, is ridiculous. I'm hoping like hell that Boston beats Cleveland, but I can't see it happening. Utah has no chance against LA and I think the Spurs have come to the end of the road. Phoenix-LA could be a good series, but I can't see the Suns making it out on top.

The NBA All- Defensive team was released this week and I have a couple of bones to pick. Dwight Howard, Gerald Wallace and Rajon Rondo are on the first team. No arguments there. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James fill the other two spots. That's where I have a problem. I can't argue LeBron being on the All- Defensive team because his chasedown blocks are impressive but there is no downside to them. If he misses, the play is forgotten. If he blocks the shot, it's headline news. I'd understand if he made second team, but first team is a joke. Kobe Bryant, a better defender than LeBron as shown by his evisceration of Russell Westbrook in Games 4 and 5, is not worthy of a first team selection either. Ron Artest, who was snubbed entirely, was brought in to take the tough assignments defensively all year. He did a great job on Durant in the playoffs and was snubbed for Kobe Bryant? That's laughable. Also, Josh Smith not making the first team is a joke. The best defender the Hawks have, the only person with 100 steals/100 blocks and no stranger to the chasedown block himself was put on the second team so King James could occupy the first team. Unreal.

We talked about it briefly, but I'll go into it in this space. Floyd Mayweather dominated Shane Mosley and I think he'll do the same to Manny Pacquiao should they meet up. Mosley clocked Mayweather in the second round and almost got the knockdown. Almost. Mayweather made the adjustments and dominated the rest of the fight. If you get a clean shot on him, you have to knock him down because there won't be another shot. After a while, you get tired of missing, get out of your gameplan and go for the knockdown. It works right into his style of boxing. Check the punch counts from his last three fights:

Mayweather- 208/477- 43%
Mosley- 92/452- 20 %

Mayweather- 290-493- 59%
Marquez- 69/583- 12%

Mayweather- 129/329- 39%
Hatton- 63/372- 17%

Hatton, Marquez and Mosley are all punchers, in the Pacquiao form. Granted Manny is a little faster and a little stronger than those three guys, but the gameplan is still the same. In his last fight against Josh Clottey, Pacquiao threw 1231 punches, but only landed 246 of them (20%). He threw 1200 punches and still won by decision because Clottey's gameplan was don't get knocked out. By contrast, Clottey only threw 309, landing 108 (27%) and lasted all 12 rounds. Pacquiao's only chance against Floyd is a knockout, but he doesn't punch with precision. He's looking for that knockout blow and Floyd is too quick. Also, as you can see from his punch counts, Money picks his spots and connects at a decent rate. He's made for guys like Pacquiao, boxers who's defense is to throw more punches. The fight would go the distance, Floyd would win and people would call the match boring because there will be no knockdowns. I'm not even a betting man, but I'd be chomping at the bit to bet on Floyd if this fight ever takes place. "If" being the key word.

This is the head coach of a professional sports franchise.


P.S.- I hate the Pacman Jones signing. With a passion.

P.P.S.- I recently heard that Dwight Howard fired his agent, Aaron Goodwin. Why? He realized that he would get the max deal no matter what! His endorsements with Ed Hardy, McDonalds, Gatorade, Adidas, etc are done deals so whats the point? Dwight's been reading the blog! I knew there was a reason I always liked that kid!