A great rivalry has been renewed. From Russell/Chamberlain to Magic/Bird, and now to Kobe vs the big four for the second time in three years. This will be a phenomenal matchup. I want to look at each of the possible individual matchups for this series. Fisher will be on Rondo at the start, but do not expect that to last. Rondo is too quick for the long time veteran, a completely different cover for him than Nash in the previous series. Kobe will be on Allen, shadowing him at the 3 point line. This matchup clearly goes to the Lakers. Artest and Pierce is the most important matchup. Pierce has turned his game back on, and when he plays well the Celtics are tough to beat. Since Artest isn't relied on for any offensive production, he can totally concentrate on Pierce at the defensive end. Advantage Lakers. The Gasol and Garnett matchup went to Garnett and the Celts 2 years back. KG is older and gimpier these days, and Gasol has proven to be the best big man in the league. Advantage Lakers. Bynum and Perkins will go at it, and this is an interesting matchup. Bynum is hurt but has the size to dominate Perkins. Perkins gives little to nothing on the offensive end. Once again this one goes to the Lakers, who are better at 4 of the 5 starting matchups. I also like the Lakers bench more, with Lamar Odom being better than any player off the Celtics bench. Farmar is a better backup point guard then Nate Robinson. Rasheed Wallace has been on and off in this postseason, so I have no idea there. Shannon Brown will get plenty of minutes in this series, for his athleticism and defense. In 2008 the Celts had home court, three hungry superstars still at the edge of their prime, and a much better bench. The Lakers are a better team now, and Kobe will have that chip on his shoulder from losing that series embarrassingly in game 6 by 39 points. The Lakers have home court and are better. They will win this series in 6 games.
Friday, May 28, 2010
How hungry will these two superstars be in this game? On a big time national stage after disappointing premature exits from their seasons, I expect Ovechkin and Crosby to be on another level next season. Not as if they aren't on one already, I just really think they are going to kick it up a notch. Both high powered offenses got shut down by the surprising Habs, and questions loomed about Ovechkin. Ovechkin got a lot of unwarranted criticism for the Caps early exit, but they just lost to a better team with an even hotter goaltender. These two are still so young, and I expect multiple championships for both. I am really looking forward to this matchup, and I expect the Ovechkin-Crosby rivalry to get a little more intense and be a featured playoff series next spring.
Just a few minutes after taking a horrible shot with 23 seconds on the shot clock and a 3 point lead with less than a minute left, Ron Artest, the defensive stopper, hit a game winner off the glass as time expired. Staples Center followed with an absolute frenzy, and the Lakers escaped with a Game 5 win before heading back to Phoenix. Did anyone see his interview right after with Craig Sager? After Sager mentioned the bad three pointer he launched, Artest says, "Well there was once a time when I shot 40 percent from the three point line in this league." This was an extremely irrelevant point made by Artest. Hey Ron, that time is not now! You are now a miserable three point shooter, and that erroneous heave almost cost your team the game. Kobe said it perfectly after the game. "I'm glad he made that shot." Kobe looked like the most furious person in the building after that shot, and if the Lakers had lost you would have heard about it from him. Once again the Lakers survive a game they easily could have lost, they have now gotten away with a game in each one of their three playoff series. The Suns made a valiant effort and played just about to their maximum potential, but too much talent is on the floor in the form of Kobe, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Imagine if the Celtics drop Game 6 at home on Friday night, the pressure that will follow in a Game 7 on the road, after once being up 3-0 in their series with the Magic. Imagine the same city blowing a 3-0 series lead in two sports in a matter of 2 weeks. It has only happened 4 times in sports history, and never in basketball. The Bruins just blew a 3-0 lead to the Stanley Cup bound Flyers, and that is now known as one of the biggest chokes in sports history. This one will be right up there. After dominating the first 3 games while containing Dwight Howard, the tides have turned. Orlando now has their swagger back, especially the man in the middle. 21 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks for Dwight, finally taking over a must win game. Just 6 years after the Red Sox became the 3rd team in sports history to come back from 3-0 against their biggest rivals, 2010 could be a year to remember for all the worst reasons in Boston.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
The Stanley Cup Finals are finally here, where the Chicago Blackhawks will face the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are the 7th seeded team in the Eastern Conference, and made the playoffs on the last day of the regular season in a shootout over the New York Rangers. The Flyers run shows exactly what the NHL is all about. The teams that
make the finals get hot at the right time. Everything comes together, with stellar goaltending leading the way. On their
way to the Finals, the Flyers did everything you will never see in the NBA. The Flyers lost their number 1 goalie Ray Emery mid-season, then lost their playoff goalie Brian Boucher against the Bruins. Their current goalie is Michael Leighton, who was not even in the NHL when the Flyer's season started. They were the 7 seed in the East, and they came back from a 3-0 deficit against the Bruins in the East Semis. No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 hole, and this season the San Antonio Spurs became the first 7 seed in NBA history to win a playoff series. The Flyers did not even need to play the heavyweights of the East to get here, thanks to the Canadiens, who they beat in the East Finals. The Habs knocked out the Caps and Penguins in two grueling 7 game affairs. If the 7 and 8 seeds made the Eastern Conference Finals in the NBA, it would have featured the Bobcats against the Bulls. Would never happen. The NHL may not quite get the ratings that the NBA does, and the casual fan might not care at all about the NHL. I advise everyone to tune into the NHL playoffs, as it is a tournament of 16 teams that can all win it. The NBA probably has a maximum of 6 teams that are capable of winning the title. The NHL's claim to fame is its parity, and its showing its true colors in these playoffs.
Monday, May 24, 2010
He is one of the premiere free agents this summer. He is an all star player still playing in the conference finals. Meet Amare Stoudemire, who exploded for 42 points to get the Suns a game 3 win and back into their series with the Lakers. I've heard a lot of chatter around the league that Amare doesn't deserve a max deal like Lebron, Wade, Bosh, and Dirk. I am not a fan of this talk, as it is unjustified. In a do or die game 3 for his Suns, Amare was an absolute animal, simply unguardable. He was abusing maybe the best power forward in the game in Pau Gasol. I can not say the same for Mr. Howard, who shrunk in a do or die situation with his team. Amare was the best player on the court last night, in an arena that hosted Kobe Bryant. Chris Bosh seems to be the featured big man in free agency, but I'm not buying it. Bosh has proven nothing to me, has been far from a winner. This is not the first time Amare abused a premiere power forward. This game looked similar to when Amare destroyed Tim Duncan in the 2005 Western finals for 42 points and 16 rebounds. He is an elite level athlete, and a very skilled forward. My message to the Knicks, Heat, Clippers, Wizards, and Bulls is to go after Stoudemire before Bosh. Hey Amare, come to D.C.!
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Josh Willingham's 10th inning blast gave the Nats a much needed series victory over the lowly Orioles on Sunday. Matt Capps blew his first save of the season, but the resilient Nats didn't let that cost them the win. This series really showed which direction each team is heading. The Nats were struggling coming into the weekend, having dropped 6 of their past 7 games. The Orioles have been the worst team in baseball all season, but they got first blood on Friday night. However, they could not build on an early lead on Saturday as well. Their woeful bullpen blew the game, then lost the series on Sunday. The O's inexplicably keep getting worse year after year, and really seem to be one of the worst franchises in sports right now. The Nats showed their true colors in this series, battling through some adversity on the path to a win. It's a long season, so there will be hot streaks and cold streaks. The Nats were on a cold streak and now look to get rolling in the right direction after the series win over the O's. Up next, a 10 game road trip going West. This stretch is an important one for D.C. Lets go Nats!
7 points? 3-10 from the field? I was under the assumption that Dwight Howard was a dominant player in this league, an elite level game changer in the playoffs. This was a do or die game for the Magic, and big Dwight was awfully small. I'm not putting all of this on Howard, as his teammates were equally terrible last night. How does somebody that big down low have only 10 shots from the field and 7 points? He is a great defensive player and he is a great rebounder. Yet last night he had 7 rebounds. He can dominate a series when its the Bobcats or the Hawks, or the center-less Cavaliers of a year ago, but is absent when the challenge arises. Howard must get better offensively. If Shaq in his prime was playing a playoff series against Kendrick Perkins, he would have averaged 35 points and 17 rebounds. That is dominance, something Howard only knows about against the Eastern Conference scrubs. All this talk about Howard being a superstar needs to halt until he steps up to the challenge.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I just got a chance to watch the ESPN 30 for 30 on Ricky Williams. I thought it was very well done. I learned a lot about his life that I never knew, such as his accusation of his father sexually abusing him and then being absent for the rest of his childhood. I found it just fascinating how his personality relates to his playing style, which it doesn't at all! On the field he is an absolute beast. He trucks over linebackers and has phenomenal breakaway speed. Even at age 32, it's like he hasn't lost a step. Off the field, he is passive, has a social anxiety problem, and only feels comfortable when he is alone in the dark. If you hear him talk, he might say something completely normal followed by something very odd. He is just a weird guy, but a very likeable guy. Everyone hated him for retiring early in 2004 to go to Australia to smoke weed and live in a tent. People needed to realize that he isn't like all the other football players. He felt overwhelmed and stressed, and he needed to leave the game. Smoking pot made him feel comfortable. Is that so horrible? He realized during his absence that he loved to play football so he came back. He accepted his role as a backup to Ronnie Brown, as he should have. Ricky is very aware that he is different, and that makes it better. He is still running like a freight train, and I am one of his biggest supporters after watching this. I hope he runs for 1500 yards this season and makes the pro bowl. People need to stop judging, and start understanding. Run Ricky run!
Friday, May 21, 2010
Go to ESPN.com, click on the NBA, and scroll down about half the page. There you will see the Lebron tracker, which is a countdown to July 1st when he becomes a free agent. Am I the only NBA fan who is still watching the conference finals? How does Lebron talk a month in a half before he is even eligible for free agency outweigh the playoffs? I think the playoffs have been great, even without a lot of the matchups being very competitive. We saw the emergence of the Thunder and Durant, who will without question be making noise in the west for years. We have seen the domination of the Lakers front line and Kobe not missing a beat despite his age. And possibly the most intriguing part of the playoffs has been the Celtics turning on the light switch in beating the Cavs and taking the first 2 in Orlando. So stop reading every article on where Lebron might land, and start getting ready for a matchup of the last 2 NBA champs, and one of the most storied rivalries in sports. Lebron's decision will shift the balance of power in the league for the next 10 years, but lets look at that in late June after the finals. I am not downplaying the relevancy of Lebron's free agency, but rather concentrating on whats going on now in the NBA that is clearly more intriguing.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Hello hope! Two miserable 59 win campaigns could be the reason for the Washington Nationals quick transformation into a contender in the N.L. East. Since coming to the District in '05, there haven't been many memorable moments for the Nats. But back to back abysmal seasons have led to a phenom pitcher just weeks away from becoming the nation's top story, and a potential "Lebron James" type athlete, according to Sports Illustrated, finally hitting the baseball front. Strasburg and Harper are two can't miss talents, and the Nats may just have both. The numbers are absolutely staggering! In 3 starts in Triple A, Strasburg has a 0.00 ERA, which last time I checked, was perfect. He has struck out 22 batters to just 4 walks. That says impeccable location. He has given up a whopping 4 hits. As long as that arm stays intact, he is a lock to be an elite level pitcher by next season at the latest. If you watched last night's start, Strasburg had a devastating, knee buckling 12 to 6 curve that was literally unhittable. As for Harper, one homer at age 15 says it all. A 570 foot bomb at Tropicana field, deepest shot ever there. After 5 years of being a laughing stock, these two studs could lead the resurrection of a franchise to more then just relevance. Yes folks, I'm talking championships. A lot of good young pieces already intact with a few vets, these two could put them over the edge. I'm gonna throw out a prediction here. The Nats will make the NLCS before the Capitals win a Stanley Cup!
In 12 of the last 13 draft lottery's, the Washington Bullets/ Wizards either stayed in their draft order or moved DOWN. One of the most ridiculously unlucky statistics you will ever hear and impeccable to D.C. sports. And even when they did move up and got the number 1 pick in 2001, they had Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry, and Kwame Brown to choose from. We all know how that worked out. On Tuesday, May 18th, D.C. got its first stroke of luck in a decade. The Wiz will pick first in June's draft, and will without question take star point guard John Wall. It could be a transformation of a franchise out of the gutter. People compare him to Derrick Rose, but I see alot of Rajon Rondo. He struggles with his outside shot but he will get better. He has a devastating crossover dribble and is as quick as I have ever seen anyone on the court. He has a will to get into the lane and finish. You are seeing the maturity of Rondo in these playoffs, how he is becoming more of a dominant scorer. You will see all of that and more from Wall, who could be the biggest lock of an all star player since Lebron James was selected in 2003. It is D.C. though, so anything can happen. Coming from the district, stay pessimistic.
Just when things were starting to look up in D.C., the Buffalo News reported this morning that Santana Moss received performance enhancing drugs from Canadian doctor Anthony Galea in the form of HGH. Moss has been the leading receiver for the Skins since '05. How big of a deal is this? And how will Commissioner Goodell handle this situation? PED use in the NFL is nowhere near as big a deal as it is in the MLB. In baseball, the use of PED's creates a distinct advantage for the individual. Especially when such a small percentage of players use it. Lets be real here. How many players in the NFL have at one time taken PED's? And with it being such a physical sport, is there really any advantage being had by these beasts? Moss has been plagued by nagging injuries since he got here in '05, and just had minor knee surgery. Galea claims his treatment is for healing purposes only, and Moss has been injured. So lets put a pin in this for now and say it wont negatively effect the Skins upcoming campaign, unless Moss gets a suspension. Coming from the District, stay pessimistic.