Tag Archives: playoffs

Lessons Learned From the West’s Round One Losers

Only eight teams remain in the NBA playoffs, and the teams that lost in the first round are left searching for answers, and wondering what might have been. Let’s take a look through the lessons we learned from their losses in Round 1.

Houston Rockets: Chemistry, You the Real MVP

This dysfunctional Rockets team had a promising season derailed by infighting, laziness, and a bad attitude overall. Last season, they were a top-ten team in DRtg, but this season their ranking has fallen all the way down to 21st.

During these playoffs, for the first time ever, the NBA is tracking hustle stats. In other words, it’s capturing the little things that players and teams do that don’t show up in the box score but are still valuable nonetheless.

Over their five playoff games (a sample that can’t be trusted due to its small size and the Rockets’ opponent being solely Golden State), the Rockets’ hustle stats were abysmal, showing up in the bottom quartile of playoff teams for over half of the statistics tracked.

Combining that overall lack of enthusiasm with the toxic locker room (rumors surfaced that Harden and Howard each tried to get the other traded away a couple of years ago), it’s no wonder that the Curry-less Warriors were able to dispatch these Rockets with ease.

Memphis Grizzlies: Don’t Start Jordan Farmar in the Playoffs (Or Ever)

Jordan Farmar was Memphis’ starting point guard during their four-game sweep at the hands of the Spurs. With Marc Gasol and Mike Conley injured, Jeff Green traded, and other absences, there’s nothing that the Grizz could have done to avoid their defeat against a historically great team. Let’s move on.

Dallas Mavericks: Get a Few Decent Teammates For Dirk 

Two of the guys who suited up alongside Dirk for the Mavs’ Game 5 loss to the Thunder were Justin Anderson and Raymond Felton. That’s not good.

Yeah, Chandler Parsons and Deron Williams were both out with injuries, but neither of them is likely to be back next season as each has a player option. Even worse, Dallas doesn’t have a first round pick this season thanks to last season’s disastrous trade for Rajon Rondo.

At this point, Mark Cuban has very few avenues through which to acquire talent to pair with Nowitzki. No wonder Dirk opted out of his contract next season. He says he doesn’t plan to leave, and it’d be a major surprise if he did, but he’s making a point to his franchise. Unfortunately for Nowitzki, Cuban won’t be able to learn this lesson from this season’s playoff defeat, even if he wanted to.

Los Angeles Clippers: Sacrifice More Cattle to the Injury Gods

Everyone thinks that injuries are part of the game, and that they’re often unavoidable. But really, it’s clear that the Clippers could have easily prevented the injuries their two stars sustained. They just didn’t sacrifice enough cattle to the Injury Gods.

You’d think that this kind of cheapness would have disappeared after notorious cheapskate Donald Sterling was removed as owner of the team. Steve Ballmer is the richest owner in the NBA–he shouldn’t have any problems with buying enough animals to give over the Injury Gods, but somehow, he did. It’s surprising that the obscenely wealthy Ballmer keeps on sustaining major injuries in the playoffs, while Sterling rarely had any playoff runs adversely affected by injures. Admittedly, the Clippers under Sterling almost never got to the playoffs, but still.

All jokes aside, just like Memphis, there’s little Los Angeles could have done. It’s not like Derrick Rose’s torn ACL, where Tom Thibodeau left him in the game, as the first seed in the playoffs, up by twelve points with ninety seconds left in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs. These injuries seem to keep on happening to the Clippers, but without any problem they can solve (past encasing Griffin and Paul in bubble wrap), they’ll just have to wait until next year and hope that no one gets injured.

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NBA Playoff Predictions

Round 1

Cleveland over Detroit (5 games)

Toronto over Indiana (7)

Charlotte over Miami (6)

Boston over Atlanta (6)

Golden State over Houston (4)

San Antonio over Memphis (4)

Oklahoma City over Dallas (4)

Los Angeles over Portland (5)

Round 2

Cleveland over Boston (7)

Charlotte over Toronto (6)

Golden State over Los Angeles (4)

San Antonio over Oklahoma City (7)

Conference Finals

Cleveland over Charlotte (5)

Golden State over San Antonio (7)

NBA Finals

Golden State over Cleveland (5)

How Good is Denver’s Defense?

The Broncos’ defense is incredible. It’s otherworldly. It’s unstoppable.

While those three superlatives are perfectly reasonable things to say, they don’t say why the Broncos’ defense is so good. Instead of continuing on with opinion and conjecture, let’s take a look at a few statistics to determine just how good Denver’s defense is.

Simple measures of defensive performance are useful but limited. For instance, the Broncos allowed 18.5 points per game this season, an elite rate. However, that only ranks fourth in the NFL, behind Seattle, Cincinnati, and Kansas City. Clearly, this statistic is unable to show how great Denver’s defense is.

Instead, let’s use DVOA (check out this article for an in-depth explanation of DVOA). The Broncos’ defensive DVOA is an impressive -25.8% (remember that positive numbers represent more points so a negative DVOA is good for defenses). How good is that? First let’s take a look at a graph.

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This graph shows the distribution of defensive DVOA in the NFL in the 2015 season. Thirty of the thirty-two teams in the NFL are in the same cluster in the middle. The square in the upper right corner is the laughably bad Saints defense. The star all the way in the bottom left corner? That’s the Broncos.

Just look at the gap between them and second place. Although it’s not quite as large as the one between New Orleans and 31st-ranked Chicago, it’s still a fairly sizable gap. That’s how much better Denver’s defense is than everyone else’s.

Here’s another way to measure how dominant Denver’s defense has been: z-score. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, z-score measures how many standard deviations a given data point is over or under the average of all the data points in the sample.

Denver’s z-score is -2.31. As a comparison, here are eight other notable defenses in recent years and their z-scores based on defensive DVOA. Remember, a negative z-score is good for defenses, as it means that they are successful at preventing points (or producing negative points, if you will).

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As you can tell, this year’s Broncos defense stacks up very well against some of the best defenses in recent memory. A couple of non-Broncos notes:

  1. The Buccaneers were crazy-good back in 2002. Given a normal distribution, the chances of a defense being better than Tampa Bay’s in 2002 are just over .01%. Wow.
  2. To many, the 2000 Ravens own the title of best defense of the 21st century. However, on this list, they rank last. Why is that? Well, if you look one slot above them, you’ll find the 2000 Titans, who (obviously) played in the same season as them. Standard deviation, and, as a result, z-score, can be affected by the presence of a team of a similar caliber. Accordingly, the Ravens’ z-score is dragged down by the presence of the Titans.

There’s one more way to show how great Denver’s defense is this season. Given a normal distribution, the chances of a defense being better than the Broncos’ defense are 1%. That means that you’d expect a defense as great as the Broncos’ to show up roughly once every 3.125 seasons. So, with these Broncos, you’re seeing something that only occurs about three times a decade.

Although we’ve answered the titular question pretty thoroughly, there remains one, far more important question that has yet to be answered: Will this spectacular defense result in a championship?

Not having a star quarterback is a significant roadblock to winning the Lombardi Trophy, but not an insurmountable one. In recent years, pedestrian quarterbacks such as Joe Flacco, Brad Johnson, and Trent Dilfer have won Super Bowls. Flacco was helped along by an extraordinary hot streak, but both Johnson and Dilfer were accompanied by excellent defenses, both of which appear in the chart above.

Now, since we’ve already established that Denver’s defense is superb, it would stand to reason that they would have a genuine shot at the championship despite their lackluster quarterback situation. That’d be true if it were Brock Osweiler who were starting for the Broncos at quarterback in the playoffs as he’s been competent enough to allow them to win games. However, rather than Osweiler, it’ll be Peyton Manning starting under center for Denver. Manning, unlike Osweiler, has proven himself to be totally incompetent this season, throwing an interception of 5.1% of his attempts, an absurd rate.

While great defenses can carry mediocre signal callers to Super Bowl victories, even the best defenses can’t overcome abysmal quarterbacking. And, even if Manning were playing like he was in 2006, I certainly wouldn’t want to entrust my Super Bowl hopes to a guy who looks like he’s plotting to murder John Elway.

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Week 13 Picks Against the Spread

This week is the three-quarter mark of the season. At this point, most teams know where they stand, as a contender, pretender, or about to surrender.

However, there remain a few teams on the playoff bubble whose fate has yet to be determined and there are games taking place today that will go a long way towards deciding who’ll be spending January at home. Let’s focus on three of those games between semi-contenders and look at how each game’s result reverberates across the league.

Note: all home teams are in CAPS and all lines are from ESPN and are accurate at the time of writing.

Jets -2.5 over GIANTS

There are a ton of similarities between these two teams. Each has a star wide receiver, each is maddeningly inconsistent, and each is tied for a playoff spot.

The Giants sit at 5-6, tied with Washington for the lead in the NFC East. However, they don’t own the tiebreaker currently and it’s highly unlikely they’ll get it. The first tiebreaker between the two teams is division record. Each has two wins, but New York has three losses to Washington’s one. To take the tiebreaker, the Giants will have to win in Week 17 against the Eagles, but they’ll need the Cowboys and Eagles to sweep Washington in three games. Even if Washington goes 1-2, resulting in a tie in division record, the next tiebreaker, conference record, also belongs to them, as they’re 5-3 to the Giants’ 4-5.

To win the NFC East and to get into the playoffs, the Giants will have to have a better record than Washington, another scenario that seems unlikely. Comparing the two schedules, the Giants will face an undefeated team (Carolina), an 8-3 team (Minnesota), and the Eagles and Dolphins, as well as the Jets today. Washington on the other hand, will play Dallas twice, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Buffalo. The best case scenario has the Giants going 3-2, but it’s much more likely they’ll go 2-3, or even 1-4. Washington, however, will be hard-pressed not to win more than three games against the creampuff schedule they’ll face. Things are looking bleak for the Big Blue.

The Jets have an easier path to the playoffs. They currently sit in the seventh seed in the AFC, tied with four other teams at 6-5, with two more close behind at 5-6. For those seven teams, there  are three spots available, two for the Wild Cards and one for the winner of the AFC South. I’m going to proceed with the assumption that the Chiefs hold on to the fifth seed thanks to their season-saving hot streak and a fairly easy schedule. That leaves one spot for three teams: New York, Pittsburgh, and the second-place team in the South.

We’ll delve deeper into the latter two teams later on in the article, so let’s focus on the Jets now. The Jets have an astoundingly easy schedule. Out of their sixteen games, only four will have come against teams with winning records. The only team they’ll have faced that can be considered a genuine contender is the Patriots. For that reason, I’m skeptical of their chances of advancing should they make the playoffs, but with an easy schedule over the remainder of the season, I consider them the favorite to nab the sixth seed, especially if Houston (which has the head-to-head tiebreaker over them) beats out Indianapolis (which doesn’t) for the AFC South crown.

Arizona -4.5 over ST. LOUIS

MINNESOTA +2 over Seattle

Houston +3.5 over BUFFALO

MIAMI -3.5 over Baltimore

Atlanta +1 over TAMPA BAY

Both of these teams are erratic, wildly fluctuating from week to week between dominant and feeble. This game will likely not end up mattering because Seattle has a firm hold on the sixth seed due to its easy schedule. However, for these two teams, it’s essentially an elimination game. If Atlanta loses, it’ll be tied with Tampa Bay, without the tiebreaker, and with a tough schedule over the remaining four games. If the Buccaneers lose, they’ll be two games behind the Falcons with four games to play, a nearly insurmountable deficit.

If the Seahawks lose to the Vikings, then things will start to get interesting. Seattle will be 6-6 to Atlanta’s 7-5 or Tampa Bay’s 6-6 with the tiebreaker. Seattle will still be favored to get the sixth seed, thanks to Atlanta’s two likely losses against Carolina and Tampa Bay’s slightly tougher schedule, but it’ll be much more of a toss-up, and it could come down to the wire.

Cincinnati -9 over CLEVELAND

TENNESSEE +2 over Jacksonville

CHICAGO -6.5 over San Francisco

Denver -4 over SAN DIEGO

Kansas City +3 over OAKLAND

Carolina -6.5 over NEW ORLEANS

New England -7.5 over Philadelphia

Indianapolis +7.5 over PITTSBURGH

This is a must-win for the Steelers. Should they lose this game, they’ll fall to 6-6, and the remainder of their schedule includes Cincinnati and Denver, which realistically caps their record at 8-8, a record that is unlikely to result in a playoff berth.

The Colts, on the other hand, are well-placed to succeed even if they lose this matchup, as their remaining four games aren’t overly challenging, they’ll get to play Houston at home in a game that’ll likely decide the AFC South, and Andrew Luck will be coming back from a kidney injury within three weeks.

Whichever team is able to win this game will have the inside track to a playoff berth and whichever team loses will be hard-pressed to regain ground on the rest of the playoff-hopefuls, making this a pivotal moment in each team’s season, and since it comes on Sunday Night Football, I’m looking forward to watching it all unfold.

For the record, I fully expect the Steelers to win this game, but I’m picking the Colts +7.5 and hoping for a garbage-time touchdown.

WASHINGTON -3.5 over Dallas

As it stands now, i think that Washington will win the NFC East and that Seattle will take the sixth seed. I think Indianapolis will win the AFC South and that the Jets will win the sixth seed by a single game over Pittsburgh and Houston.

Of course, the beauty of football is that, unlike other sports such as basketball, anything can happen. After all, there are no sure things in the NFL. Well, except for the Browns turning a victory into an agonizing defeat.

Week In Review May 26th-June 1st, 2014

Here is (and I reserve the right to change my mind as much as Brett Favre) the last Week In Review, or at least for a while. The explanation is at the end of the article. The big question is whether or not hearing this now will make you skip to the end of the column, read it, and leave in tears and never come back. Or, maybe, you’ll skip the first part and leave in tears and never come back. Or, (and here’s what I’m hoping for) you’ll savor the last Week In Review that you’ll see for awhile, then get to the end, read the explanation and understand, and come back as soon as my next column gets posted. Yeah, you’re right, it’s definitely going to be the first option. Oh well, it was worth a shot. Hope you enjoy the column!

 

Monday, May 26th, 2014

 

Los Angeles beat Chicago 5-2 to come within one game of the Stanley Cup Finals. This is not good at all. Remember what I said last week about the Rangers? They’re worse than the two teams from the West so they need the series out West to go to seven bloody games so they can hopefully steal a couple of games against an exhausted team. That’s their only chance. Now, the best case scenario is Chicago winning twice before the Kings manage to finish them off. Why? Well, if Chicago wins three straight to get to the Finals, then they’ll be on a roll and very confident but if LA closes the Blackhawks out faster, then they’ll be reasonably rested. If LA wins in 7, then they’re tired, not confident, and drained—the best case scenario for the Rangers.

 

The Heat beat the Pacers 102-90 to take a 3-1 series lead, all but putting away Indiana. I was gonna think of something funny to write but then I realized that the Pacers are hilarious by themselves and that I don’t need to add anything to that. But seriously, Lance Stephenson. What an idiot! He insulted LeBron, making LeBron find his inner Marshawn Lynch and go BeastMode by exploding for a 32-10-5. Don’t be stupid. Never insult LeBron.

 

This is also big because for years LeBron was unable to find his inner fire and take over a series. The only hope for opposing teams is to leave him alone and hope that he doesn’t decide to win. If you light a fire under him and get him motivated, then he’s unstoppable. Remember the Heat-Celtics series from a couple of years ago? The Boston guys were talking trash the whole series with no response from LeBron. However, by Game 6, LeBron finally snapped and went for a 45-15-5 to essentially put the series away, before the Heat won Game 7. The lesson? Don’t mess with LeBron. Lance Stephenson doesn’t seem to realize this. I’d look a lot smarter if the Heat didn’t have a 3-1 series lead, but even if they didn’t, I would say this anyways: the Pacers have no shot after insulting LeBron.

 

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Oklahoma City beat the Spurs 105-92 to tie the series up at two. Westbrook had a game for the ages with a 40-5-10 with 5 steals. A stat that the world has been in awe of is that the last person to do that was MJ. Well, as I seem to be doing often, I’m going to tell you how stupid that is. Saying that an arbitrary baseline for a stat line suddenly becomes significant so that there’ll be a story doesn’t make the stat impressive.

 

While it may be true that the last person to notch a 40-5-10-5 was MJ, and getting a 40-5-10-5 is very impressive, being the last person since MJ isn’t. It was a very, very good game, but when you narrow the criteria down for an achievement so specifically, it’s nowhere near as amazing as the media will make it out to be.

 

You see, stats aren’t all that important because individually, they don’t say all that much. For instance, let’s say that someone scored 45 points. Your first thought would be “Wow!”. But that stat doesn’t tell the whole story. To score 45 points, the player took 50 shots and made 20 of them. Then it’s a lot less impressive. To properly figure out the meaning of stats, you have to take everything into account to make sure that the numbers aren’t messed up by something else.

 

The Rangers lost to the Canadiens 7-4. It was pretty bad. While it’s great that the Rangers fought back from a 4-1 deficit to tie it up at 4, it also seems pertinent that they let the Habs regain the lead and were unable to score again. Also, the biggest thing: Lundqvist played badly enough that he was pulled. If Lundqvist isn’t playing at an elite level then the Rangers won’t play very well either. This is not good.

 

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

 

Well, Chicago managed to beat Los Angeles in double OT, 5-4, to narrow the series deficit to 3-2. All good. Two reasons why I’m happy Chicago won: one, by winning, they’re extending the series and two, as I said earlier, this is what the Rangers need.

 

The Heat lost to the Pacers 93-90. So much for what I said earlier. LeBron didn’t show up tonight, merely getting a 7-2-4. However, if LeBron manages to rip off a legendary performance on Friday night then I knew it all along. Still, something important to note, the Pacers starters all played their best tonight and still only beat the Heat by 3. Paul George scored 37, David West got a 19-9, Hibbert finished with a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Indiana played its best tonight and only won by 3 at home. That, in addition to LeBron, is why I’m confident Miami will easily beat the Pacers.

 

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

 

The Spurs blew out the Thunder at home, 117-89, continuing this series’ tradition of the home team winning in a blowout. Serge Ibaka was a non-factor in this game, only scoring six points and grabbing two rebounds along with a couple of blocks. This is another series tradition: if Ibaka plays badly then the Thunder lose. In Games 1 and 2, Ibaka was hurt so the Thunder lost. Ibaka returned for Games 3 and 4 and, while he wasn’t great, he was adequate, so the Thunder won. In this game, Ibaka was complete crap so the Thunder lost again. I’m happy. I’m hoping for a Heat-Spurs rematch so I’m cheering for Miami and San Antonio.

Lundqvist got mad that I doubted him and decided to prove me wrong. He blocked every shot he faced (although there were only 18) and outdueled Tokarski (who wasn’t too shabby himself in stopping 31 out of 32 shots) 1-0 to send the Rangers to the STANLEY CUP FINAL!!!! WOOHOO!!!!! THIS IS AWESOME! YOUR MIND-VOICE IS PROBABLY SCREAMING RIGHT NOW. YOU JUST SMILED AND LAUGHED. UH OH. I THINK MY CAPS LOCK IS BROKEN. I’LL BE SCREAMING IN PERPETUITY. THIS IS NOT GOOD. I SHOULD PROBABLY GO GET IT FIXED. DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE I CAN GET IT FIXED?

 

Friday, May 30th, 2014

 

Well, I managed to get it fixed, thankfully. If I hadn’t then I’d be in trouble. I can’t hand in HW in all caps. I can’t make review sheets for Finals while in all caps. It’d be like me screaming at them that the conjugation of tener is tengo, tienes, tiene, tenemos, and tienen! (By the way, I may or not be using this to help me study) I’d be kind of like a drill sergeant. Drop down and give me twenty! Hey, I’m pretty good at this. Anyways, back to the sports.

 

In hockey, the Blackhawks beat the Kings 4-3 to tie the series up at 3.This is going fantabulously (a combination of fabulous and fantastic. It’s a thing). Now the Kings need to pull out a Game 7 victory on the road for everything to be perfect. This is quite splendiferous. The Rangers made it in and all we need are the disheartened Kings. Los Angeles, New York stands behind you. Chicago should be scared. Although it’s the third best city in the country, when the top two cities team up against it, it’s going down. Number four is Boston and Miami probably rounds out the top five.

 

Miami closed out Indiana 117-92. LeBron rebounded from his crappy performance with 25 points and Bosh also has finally exorcised his demons against Miami, capping off a very good series with a 25-8. By the way, the Internet is hilarious. For instance, Lance Stephenson has given rise to a number of amusing GIFs. He lied down on the court and he blew in LeBron’s ear, lending good material to the enterprising photoshop wizards of the Internet. Much hilarity ensued. My two favorite pictures are as follows: First, with the lying down one.

 

 

And now for the blowing one.

 

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Speaking of 50 Cent, why haven’t the Mets signed him to a three year contract yet? In a related note, I hate being a Mets fan.

 

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

 

Wow that was an epic game. OKC was up seven at the half but after a 37-20 3rd quarter, San Antonio pulled away to enter the 4th with a ten point lead. Then the Thunder mount a ferocious comeback to take the lead, 99-97 with 32 seconds left. Naturally, Manu Ginobili hits a three to take back the lead, 100-99 with 27 seconds left. Then the Thunder foul Ginobili but Manu misses the second free throw! Westbrook gets fouled and nails both free throws to tie the game up at 101 before it goes to overtime after Manu misses a jumper. Then Tim Duncan turned back the clock and outscores OKC by himself, 7-6, in overtime, to finish with a monstrous double-double with a 19-15 and putting away the Thunder. What a game. And I’m so excited for the Heat-Spurs matchup. I think I may even have a column about it in me, although it’d come out on Friday, after Game 1, so my prediction wouldn’t be as trustworthy. Actually, that’s a good thing for me: it’s a lot less likely that I make a stupid prediction that I come to regret and that people will point at for years as proof that I know nothing about basketball (which may or may not be true actually).

 

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

 

Woohoo!!! Sports finally is working out the way I wanted it to!!! And no, I’m not talking about its abs. I got the Finals matchup I wanted, with the Heat and Spurs both advancing. Now, if you’ll remember, (and if you don’t, you might want to consult your local physician for a serious potential case of amnesia) earlier this week I talked about the best possible way for the series in the West to end for the Rangers. Remember? Chicago wins two straight before losing Game 7 at home? Yup, it happened exactly as I wanted it, if not better. The winners of the games happened the way I wanted, which is nice. Still, the Hockey Gods smiled upon me and gave me more than I had ever dreamed of. They sent a couple of games to OT (including Game 7) just to drain the Kings even more. What could be better?

 

For the actual game, the Kings won 5-4 in OT, capping a tiring run. They’ve played the maximum amount of games so far, 21, and a bunch of those games have gone into OT. How tired must they be? Of course, the Rangers played twenty, so I guess that’s not much of an advantage. Oh well.

 

That’s all for this week. Hope you enjoyed and I’ll see you guys later!

 

Wait a second, about this column, it’s tough to do. There’s not nearly enough fun stuff to talk about for every day normally, especially when, in a couple of weeks, all there is for a couple of months is baseball. Ugh. (By the way, some time during the summer I’m going to write a column about why I hate baseball. I can probably get a couple of thousand words out of that.) It was fun during the playoffs with nonstop action and lots of important games, but I think I’m going to shelve it for the time being.

 

However, I’ll still be writing, a lot, just not in the Week In Review format. I’ll find other things to talk about, and hopefully I’ll be able to say more about these more interesting topics. If people send in enough emails asking questions, then I can have a fantasy baseball article. In fact, send in emails with whatever you want to talk about and I can have a mailbag, in which I answer questions and comments from my readers.

 

In happier news, I can’t wait until Thursday! Here’s to a Finals for the ages!

Oh, and to all of you guys who skipped the whole article that I spent my time on, even though you probably can’t read this through your tears, screw you.

 

Damn it, I’m alienating my whole readership. I had better end this article ASAP. Bye!

 

Week In Review: May 12th-May 18th 2014

So I’m going to be starting a weekly post called, imaginatively, The Week in Review. Every week I’ll talk about what happened in the world of sports, maybe add in some analysis, try (and probably fail) to be funny, and just try and talk about something fun and new. As I’m trying this out for the first time, I need feedback. If you’d prefer to have it posted once a day as a “Day in Review” column because you can’t bear to wait a week to hear from me (no need to flatter me), then just comment and let me know. In fact, I’m leaning towards a daily post, to push me towards either side, shoot me an email or comment. Thanks!

 

Monday, May 12th, 2014

 

The Nets lost after a late three by Chris Bosh, eventually falling to the Heat, 102-96 to go down in their series, 3-1. With the series heading back to South Beach, it seems as though it’s increasingly probable that the Nets will lose. This sucks for a number of people. First, it sucks for all the Nets fans (like me) who’ll be pissed that the Nets are eliminated. Two, it sucks for everyone in the world who’ll have to deal with bandwagon Heat fans crowing about their team’s success saying stupid things like “Wow, LeBron is so good! I’m so happy we drafted him in 2010”. Do us all a favor and shut up. Please. Now. Despite all this annoyingness (annoyingty? annoyingosity?) the person who this sucks for most is Billy King. Why? Well, when Billy King tells Prokhorov that he wasted about 180 million dollars for a second round playoff exit imagine how Prokhorov’s reaction. In the understatement of the year, I don’t think Prokhorov will be too happy with him.

 

Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cavs, fired Mike Brown. This shouldn’t be a big deal—after all, coach firings are common in the NBA. Still, it’s highly amusing. Why? Well, in 2010, when the Cavs were trying to convince LeBron to stay, they fired his coach. Evidently, that didn’t work out too well. Guess who the coach was? You got it! Mike Brown. So the Cavs fired a coach, rehired him 3 years later, and then fired him AGAIN a year after that! That’s impressively incompetent. Maybe that’s why LeBron didn’t come back: he didn’t want to play for a bunch of idiots. This reminds me of Ted Stepien, another Cavs owner, who was historically incompetent (if you take out the second comma the sentence still works). He traded away so many first-rounders in the early eighties that two crazy things happened: First, the NBA had to institute a rule that prevented teams from trading away first-rounders in consecutive years which was fittingly named “The Stepien Rule”. Second, no one wanted to buy the Cavs because they were so bereft of assets so the NBA had to give them extra first-rounders just so someone would buy them. Gilbert isn’t on that level yet, but it seems as though he’s doing his best to get there. Speaking of which, they should make a Hall of Fame for horrible owners. The charter members would be Stepien, Donald Sterling, Harry Frazee, Jeffrey Loria, Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder, and James Dolan.

 

Just like many teams, the problem with many teams isn’t that their players or front office suck, it’s the fact that their owners are thrifty, stupid, heavy-handed, or any number of other bad adjectives. And, that’s the problem with sports today: you can fire a bad GM, you can buyout a bad player, and you can ditch a bad coach, but you can’t get rid of a bad owner. Knicks fans, for instance, are probably jealous of the Clips fans as they managed to get rid of their horrible owner and are now set for a fresh start. I feel like some enterprising Knicks fan will try and frame Dolan for being racist or the like, just to get rid of him. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014 New York Knicks!

 

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

 

The Rangers closed out the Penguins tonight in Pittsburgh. I’m a Rangers fan and watched a large chunk of the game and it just seemed like the Rangers were always in the Penguins’ zone, constantly firing away shots at Andrey-Fleury while Lundqvist just sat in his goal and rubbed the posts. Other than a couple of instances when Lundqvist made some nice saves, it seemed to me (admittedly, an uneducated fan) like the Rangers dominated. While I’m pleased that the Rangers advanced, it’s too bad for Crosby and Andrey-Fleury as it means that they’ll receive all the blame while everyone conveniently forgets that the Penguins won the Cup in 2009.

 

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

 

For once, the referees seemed honest and fair. In the Nets-Heat game, Game 5, near the end of the game, Paul Pierce knocked the ball out of bounds. This would seem like a straightforward call, except that LeBron clearly smacked Pierce’s hand to force him to knock the ball out. After a replay, It became clear that LeBron had fouled The Truth, except since the call had already been made, it was going to be Heat ball. What did the officials do? For the first time in forever (cue up Frozen music) the officials actually did the decent thing. They called it out on LeBron so Brooklyn could get the ball. Of course, people whined about the officiating after the game anyways. Obviously it was the refs’ fault! It was their fault that Joe Johnson couldn’t get a shot off at the end of the game. Duh.

 

Whiny Nets fans (I am a Nets fan, but I like to think of myself as not being whiny) complained because they lost 96-94, and therefore the series 4-1. Somehow I doubt that Nets fans would have complained had they won the series. Oh well.

 

The Spurs eliminated the Blazers in 5 games after winning 104-82. With the ease that the Heat have dispatched their opponents and the Spurs getting on a roll, it seems as though they’re on a collision course for a rematch in the Finals. If they did, that would be in the running to be one of the greatest Finals ever (in my not-so-humble opinion).

 

On one side, you have the Heat, aiming for a three-peat and to ensure that LeBron returns while on the other side, you have the Spurs, hoping to avenge their loss in last year’s Finals to Miami and trying to get Duncan a 5th ring, which would push him even higher up the ranks of the All-Time-Team. There’s so much at stake in a Spurs-Heat Finals and I hope we get to see it.

 

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

 

The Thunder ousted the Clippers 104-98 while the Pacers finished off the Wizards, 93-80, concluding the second round of the playoffs. Kind of a bummer. After the best first round EVER, the second round following up is a dud. The Basketball Gods giveth and they taketh away. At least we should be headed for (hopefully) another incredible round. Spurs-OKC is the matchup of old vs. new and athleticism vs. experience. The Thunder will try and run San Antonio off the floor while the Spurs will attempt to force OKC into making mistakes. For the Heat-Pacers matchup—wait, scratch that. To make it more exciting: for Heat-Pacers III: the Quest for the Three-Peat, is should also be great. A matchup between two teams who genuinely dislike each other (a rarity these days), between the #1 defense and the #1 offense, and between the two-time defending champions and the team designed specifically to beat them should be fabulous. The amount of good basketball and matchups that we’re about to witness is astounding. It should be an incredible round. I can’t wait. Of course, notice all the should-bes in that paragraph? Yeah, well, I hope I didn’t jinx anything by talking about how awesome everything should be (damn it! I did it again). The Basketball Gods are fickle and they must be appeased. Anyone know where to find a sacrificial lamb?

 

Friday, May 16th, 2014

 

            So I have a problem: nothing particularly interesting happened today. There were 15 baseball games, nothing particularly interesting. No basketball games. The draft hype has mostly dried up. There was a hockey game, between Anaheim and LA, a game 7, in which LA won 6-2. It also was Teemu Selanne’s last game, but there isn’t much to write about that either. Damn it! Well, there’s not much to talk about now, so I’m going to cheat and write about something that’s been irking me for awhile but I haven’t had a chance to talk about (and hey, it’s not cheating if I make the rules). Michael Sam. He and his story have been pored over time and time again. However, with all the talk about why teams would be apprehensive about drafting him because, for instance, he would be a distraction due to the immense following he would receive, there’s been surprisingly little about the most obvious thing of all.

           

            Sam is a 7th round draft pick. Most 7th rounders get cut quickly, and even id they don’t, they rarely (if ever) get anywhere in the NFL. However, if the Rams cut Sam (as they would for many 7th rounders), the media backlash would be enormous. It wouldn’t matter that, as a 7th round pick, the odds were stacked against him in the first place. Rather, everything would be turned into how the Rams are homophobes. Maybe it’s that (please don’t hate me for saying this) possibly (I’m begging you) that perhaps (I swear I’m not homophobic) Sam isn’t all that great of a football player (compared to most NFL-ers) and that’s why he’s cut. Let’s try not to make it into a bigger deal than it is. Of course, there’s no chance of that happening nowadays since everyone is so desperate for stories, which is too bad.

 

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

 

The sports media is stupid. I log onto Facebook today, and what do I see under “Trending”? I see that Lance Stephenson (a crazy guy on all accounts, by the way) said that he hopes Dwayne Wade’s knee “flares up”. Intrigued, I click on the link, and find out to my surprise that he didn’t say that at all (or at least not in the way it was made it out to be)! What did he say? He said that he was hoping be aggressive enough to take advantage of Wade’s injuries, and that, by running, he was hoping that his knee would flare up. Well, that’s a far cry from what was reported. In fact, it’s laudable that Stephenson is a competitor and aims to take advantage of the Heat’s weaknesses when he can. Would you rather have him bring a band-aid and give Wade a boo-boo kiss? It seems as though that’s what people want.

 

The Rangers demolished the Canadiens 7-2 in the opening game of their series to take a 1-0 lead. The Rangers are 4-0 since Martin St. Louis’ mother died. It seems as though a tragedy often brings a team closer together and propels them to new heights. Wait, let’s not give any ideas to Prokhorov to have someone… ‘disappear’ to try and get Brooklyn to go further next year.

 

Apparently Mike Dunleavy is in the running for the next Knicks head coaching job. (This is so laughable that I don’t even need to make a joke about it. Nah, never mind I can’t resist) Why wouldn’t you want to hire someone with a career winning percentage of .461 (although that’s two points off from getting into the playoffs in the crappy Eastern Conference), who led the Jail Blazers, and who was so bad that the Clippers fired him in 2010 so they could hire Vinny Del Negro, of all people. If you’re bad enough at coaching that Vinny Del Negro is considered an improvement over you, you probably shouldn’t be coaching in the NBA.

 

California Chrome won the 139th Preakness Stakes to win the second leg of the Triple Crown. To be the first horse in 36 years, since 1978, to win the triple crown of horse racing, he needs to win at Belmont in three weeks. Miguel Cabrera, in the meantime, is probably feeling betrayed. He captured the Triple Crown in 2012 after no one had done it in 45 years, an impressive feat. But now, the next time that anyone (or any horse) comes close to equaling his achievement, he’s ignored thanks to the present day ten second attention—hey look! A squirrel! Wait, what was I saying?

 

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

 

            Indiana beat Miami 107-96, an impressive victory. Although their lows were lower and their highs not as high, the Pacers seem to be a little like the Spurs as they’re recovering from a slow start and rounding into form, about to unleash some great basketball on unsuspecting foes like Shaq during the Lakers’ three-peat. Of course, the Spurs were consistently great all year while the Pacers were complete and utter crap for three months straight, but still.

 

            I also find it amusing how some entity on Facebook (I forgot who) posted something about how the Heat have never lost a series in which they lost the first game. This so-called ‘fact’ is ludicrous for a couple of reasons. First, the Heat have played just thirteen series since LeBron and Bosh joined Wade in Miami, and in those thirteen series, the Heat have lost the first game of the series four times (after Game 1 of this series, five times). So because, in four chances, one thing happened all four times, suddenly the Heat are unbeatable if they lose the first game of the series? Also, in those thirteen series the Heat are 12-1. So it’s not that the Heat are unbeatable when they lose the first game, rather, they’re nearly unbeatable overall. Yet another example of sports media being foolish, uneducated, or both.

 

            The Hawks easily dispatched the Kings 3-1. Wait, what? Atlanta and Sacramento aren’t in the playoffs! And this is basketball! This must a record for a low scoring game! Wait a second… Oh… It’s the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings. Whoops! Speaking of which, I think there should be a rule that no name is allowed to be used by more than one team. This is a great idea on a number of levels. First, there’ll be a lot less confusion. Second, as more and more teams are started throughout sports, you’ll eventually see games in which the Minnesota Pipers take on the Dallas Chaparrals. Actually, those two teams actually played each other in the ABA. Yet another reason why the ABA failed as a league. Who wants to see teams with boring names? That’s another problem with the WNBA: teams with names like Dream and Sky (just scroll through the WNBA team names, there’s nothing more pathetically funny). Who wants to see the WNBA when there are 120 combined points, about two recognizable stars, and not high quality basketball, even without most of its good players heading to China to play there? Stern never gave up and admitted that it was a lost cause—hopefully Silver will, especially as he showed that he can make the right decision with Donald Sterling. He showed that he’ll act proactively in removing a cancerous drain on the league, maybe he can get rid of another one. WNBA fans, sorry for offending all eight of you.