Saturday, June 18, 2016

Cleveland Championship Eve 2016

It's been a long time since I, or anyone else for that matter, has written an article on this blog. However, I had made a promise to myself back when the blog was started in 2004 that I would write an article next time Cleveland was in a championship-clinching scenario. So, without further ado, here we go:

With Sunday 6/19 becoming a possible Championship day for Cleveland sports fans, most Cleveland sports fans have emotions of dread and superstitution. This is what happens after 52 years of sports seasons coming and going with neither the Browns, Cavs, or Indians being able to bring home a championship. 52 years is such a long time in fact, that the majority of Cleveland sports fans have never themselves even witnessed a championship. Even if one has fathers/mothers, grandfathers/grandmothers, who did witness the last championship of the 1964 Cleveland Browns season, most of them have also grown jaded after Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, The 1997 Indians losing Game 7 in extra innings after having a lead, The 2002 Cleveland Browns blowing a 17-point lead in a playofff game, the 2009 and 2010 Lebron-led Cavs losing in early rounds despite having the best record. Some of you are probably just amazed the Browns even made the playoffs once in the 2000s, but yes, it really did happen.

Some have even gone so far as to say the whole city is cursed. Many of these same people will be performing all sorts of superstitutions, during Game 7 to bring home a championship. Though they can rationally tell you that Lebron James and Coach Ty Lue don't have secret cameras watching them, they each believe that acting out superstitions such as the following will indeed impact the game:

1) Growing a playoff beard
2) Wearing the same underwear from Games 5 and 6 still
3) Sacrificing a chicken like Pedro Cerrano in Major League
4) dropping pizza on the floor, eating it, then cleaning it up, because last time that spurred a 10 point cavs run
5) encouraging their dog to sit on guests in the hopes the dog farts on a person, because last time the dog farted on a person, Dahntay Jones drew 2 fouls from Draymond Green
6) Saying the same random sentence they said when Lebron hit his previous 3
7) Telling their significant other to not talk to them during the game, because that's why the Cavs won
8) Telling their significant other to talk to them throughout the game, because that's why the Cavs won
9) Eating the same meal they ate before the Cavs wins of Games 5 and 6
10) Muttering words underneath their breath every time Golden State shoots the ball, thinking they are like wizards casting spells in Harry Potter affecting the outcome of a quidditch match

However, despite all the superstitions that fans have been practicing, it has been shown by that in the early 20th century through the 1960s, the city of Cleveland won more than its fair share of championships, proving that God Doesn't Hate Cleveland, it's just in the middle of a dry spell.

With this kind of rational perspective, that there is no curse, it allows you to forget about the dread and the superstitution, and instead focus on why we watch in the first place. The Cleveland Cavaliers are only 48 minutes from a championship. Are they playing a team with the best record in NBA History on the road? Yes. But we should still try to enjoy every moment of the game without worrying about the stench of our six-day old underwear, or having to throw a friend out of a watch-party for saying the wrong words at the same time that the Warriors hit a 3-pointer. What we each do individually won't affect how the balls bounce or the final score.

The long journey by the city between championships has actually caused the fans to appreciate each winning season even more. Everyone wants to believe that this Cavs team could be the team to end the championship drought, which is a thought that just makes me giddy. Game 7 will be exciting, so I hope that all the Cleveland sports fans can watch with the hope and belief that somehow, the Cavs will find a way to bring home what would be an incredible championship.

If you're a Cleveland sports fan, it's time to believe... believe in Lebron, Kyrie, Tristan, JR, K-Love, RJ, Shumpert, Mo, Delly, Dahntay, Frye, Mozgov, James Jones, Sasha Kaun, and even Jordan McRae! For some of you, it may be time to believe more in your lucky t-shirt for Game 7 and have a luck-changing shirt for the 2nd half on hand just in case, but that's okay too. Go cavs!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hate Week Revisited

The Game

Well it's been a few years since I've (or anyone) has posted on the blog but if anything can bring it back is Hate Week. Yes, HATE Week, the time of year where you turn back the clock to when you were a youth and were able to scream out pure unadulterated hate. There's no stupid brown jug to award the winner of the game. There's just the joy of  stomping your enemies dreams into tiny pieces. Before going into a series of curse words to explain why the other team sucks I though a brief recap of what's been going on while we've been away. So umm what has The Ohio State University and that North been up to?


Brutus Demanding to Know who Left Urine Samples in his Class room

While we've been away Ohio State has changed for a button down Sweatervest that slowly suffocated you with special teams and defense to a spread and shred up tempo Urban Meyer powerhouse.  OSU is a young team and prone to being tricked by shiny objects and laser pointers however when focused it is one of the top offenses in the country. 

 That Team Up North

Wolverine Fan

This might well be rock bottom for the Maize and Blue. They need a win just to make a bowl game. The era of Brady Hoke hasn't been much better than the era of RichRod. The offense is putrid, the defense occasionally gives up, I think school pays fans to show up, and Hoke will be summarily executed by an acting AD after the game (unclear if it will be via guillotine which I believe is what Hoke's contract stipulates).

Deep Thoughts

Yes, yes, some illiterate tv personalities might say throw out the records or the teams are equally matched . Blah Blah Blah. Sell that to the masses ESPN I'm not buying it.

Hypothetical Illiterate TV Personality
In the end one team is going to the Big 10 championship for consecutive years, the other on the verge of consecutive losing conference records. One is stocked full of 4 and 5 star recruits, the other was found stopping random strangers and asking if they can play offensive line. One is going to a New Year's day bowl and the other trying to find a new coach. It's Rivalry week but the favorite is clear. Mighty Mike in his first pick in a number of years is going with the Buckeyes 45-21.

Friday, April 27, 2012

NBA Playoff Preview 2012

With only 1 day between the end of the season and the NBA Playoffs, I don't have time for my usual blowout analysis, references to old movies, etc.  This year, I will just do a quick preview so I at least have a record of what I was thinking.

Eastern Conference 

1-Chicago over 8-Philly - Even with the injuries, Chicago is deep enough to advance.
4-Boston over 5-Atl - Atlanta has homecourt actually.  Could be a tough series for Boston, but I think Boston can make at least the 2nd round, as they were playing better in the 2nd half.
3-Indiana over 6-Orlando - No Dwight Howard, no chance.
2-Miami over 7-NY - Yawn.  Should be easy.

1-Chicago over 4-Boston - If Boston's playing at top of their game, and PG Rose is still iffy, this could be a real exciting series!
2-Miami over 3-Indiana - Shouldn't be too bad for Miami, though I don't think Indiana is as bad as everyone else thinks.

2-Miami over 1-Chicago - Wanted to pick Chicago all season, and I was going to, but with Rose's injury situation, it doesn't make sense.

Western Conference
8-Utah over 1-SA - The spurs biggest weakness is opposing big men, as evidenced by the damage Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol did last year when the Spurs lost to an 8-seed.  The Spurs are improved in some areas this year (mainly due to the emergence of rookie K. Leonard), and should have Ginobili back... but neither of those players address their one weakness.  Unfortunately for the Spurs, the Jazz have started playing a jumbo a lineup of PF-Favors, SF-Millsap (who really is a PF) , C-Jefferson, and it has resulted in crazy efficiency numbers and amazing stats.  I think SA is going to become the 1st 1-seed to lose to an 8-seed two straight years.  If they had drawn a different team, it wouldn't have been a problem.  Granted, I still think the Spurs would lose to the Grizzlies again, even if they beat the Jazz this year.
4-Memphis over 5-Clippers - The Clippers' Blake Griffin doesn't play enough defense for me to believe.  And their coach is an idiot.
3-Lakers over 6-Denver - I don't have the balls to pick this episode.
2-OK City over 7-Dallas - Shouldn't be a problem.

4-Memphis over 8-Utah - Memphis is one of the few teams who may be able to handle at least two of the Jazz big men.  The key may be Conley and Tony Allen forcing bunches of turnovers.
2-Ok City over 3-Lakers - The Lakers have been too dysfunctional... and OkCity has just been too good.

2-Ok City over 4-Memphis - should be a great rematch of last year's 7-game slugfest. 

NBA Finals 
2-Ok City over 2-Miami - Does LeBron still get stage fright?  I'm guessing he does!  This can only happen if James Harden is healthy.  I'm guessing he should be 100% a month from now.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

2011-2012 NBA Season Recap: The Year that 1 in 5 Coaches Had Already Coached the Cavs

The 2011-2012 NBA season was compressed, with teams having back-to-back-to-backs, 9 games in 12 days, and strange results due to the compression of the schedule.  However, there's one thing that has been overlooked in this maddening season...
the fact that one in 5 teams ended up with coaches who formerly coached the Cleveland Cavaliers!

If one stops to consider this, the first thought is going to be:  "wait a minute, outside of Mike Brown and Lenny Wilkens, who isn't coaching right now, what coaches were actually successful with the Cleveland Cavaliers?"

The answer to this first thought is the fact that the other coaches really have NOT been notable or successful.  However, in a bizarre twist of fate, these are the men which make up my favorite stat of the 2011-2012 season:  1 in 5 coaches are from the Cleveland Cavaliers!

1) Paul Silas, Charlotte Bobcats - Silas' tenure with the Cavs began with Lebron's rookie season.  It culminated in lots of yelling, dysfunction, and Lebron's 56-point outburst in a loss... resulting in Silas getting fired at the end of his 2nd season.  Silas somehow got the Bobcats to perform well in the middle of the 2010-2011 season, resulting in the removal of his "interim" status, but the Bobcats have since been on track to have the worst winning percentage in NBA history in this 2011-2012 season.  Partly due to injury, and partly due to Silas' incompetence I'm guessing.  I'm expecting he will be fired within 24 hours of the end of the season.

2) Keith Smart, Sacramento Kings - Keith Smart was an interim coach for the Cavs, sporting a nifty 9-31 record on the way towards "earning" ping pong balls to help get Lebron James.  This is amazingly the 3rd time he's been elevated to head coach (apparently he did the same thing in Golden State last year).  He supposedly is on contract for next season and is going to be brought back... but the Kings have a very bad record.

3)  Randy Wittman, Washington Wizards - Wittman is currently the interim coach for the Wizards.  He was coach of the cavs for the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 seasons.  He was very consistent - going 32-50 and 30-52.  There winning percentages of 39% and 36% are actually his two best seasons.  As coach of the Timberwolves for 2.5 seasons, he was worse (29%, 27%, and 21% before getting fired).  As coach of the Wizards this year, he is 16-31, for a nice 34% winning percent.  Sadly, I don't think he's getting brought back either.  In his defense, he hasn't really had much of a chance with any of the teams he's been given.  However, I will say from watching some Wizards basketball this year, I don't know if I've ever seen a lazier team when it comes to defense!

4) George Karl, Denver Nuggets - He actually counts as a Cavs coach!  Back when he was 33 years old, he got almost 2 seasons at the helm in 1984-1986... before Daugherty and Price were there!  He'll be in the playoffs with the Nuggets this year, as usual.

5) Mike Brown, Lakers - It's well documented and discussed the ups-and-downs of Mike Brown's career.  I will say this... he's still a great defensive coach and always improves his team defensively.  He will be judged thoroughly based on the Lakers playoff performance this year.

6) Byron Scott, Cavs - current Cavs coach.  He'll be back next year.  He will probably be expected to actually win next year, or at least show some progress.

While only 3 of the coaches on this list are likely to be back next year, all I can wonder is what the parlay payout in Vegas would have been of Smart and Wittman being named interim coaches and Silas SURVIVING the entire season in Charlotte!  Now, if only Mike Fratello would make yet another comeback....

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Super Bowl Preview: The Super Bowl Sequel

Super Bowl week is a joyous time of the year for every American. It’s a time to eat heavily, drink heavily, and refuse to go to the bathroom during the commercials. It’s also a time of the year, where recently, I’ve enjoyed comparing head coaches to other fictional characters. It started in 2006, with Sgt. Slaughter (Cowher) vs. Colonel Mustard (Mike Holmgren) and continued in 2007 with McDowell’s, the dad from Coming to America (Lovey Smith). In 2008, I pointed out that Bill Belichick is a Sith Lord. In 2009, I just said that Nobody beat the Whiz (Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt) except on Super Bowl Sunday. And in 2010, I realized that Colts- Saints was Good Guy vs. Good guy (at least for me) and was like Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior. In 2011, I pointed out the pure evil of James Harrison and how he is Mr. Glass from the Movie Unbreakable, who ***SPOILER ALERT***, harmed other people but had no idea he was an evil villain.

This year? I can't figure out if this "Sequel" is going to be more like Blues Brothers 2000 (where we want to pretend it never happend?) or like Terminator 2: Judgment Day (completely obliterating its quality predecessor).

Fact 1: The 2007 Super Bowl had an unprecedented event - a 16-0 team. The 2011 Super Bowl has a 9-7 Giants team.
The 2007 Super Bowl was incredibly gripping because of the historic nature of the event. The 1972 Dolphins famously went 17-0, by winning 3 playoff games after just a 14-0 season. The 16-0 and 19-0 seasons seemed mythological and almost impossible. Provided great theater... whereas this year's Pats and Giants have nothing historic on the table. Not even Belichick has the power to retroactively declare this season as an undefeated season and say "my undefeated season is inevitable."
Advantage: Blues Brothers 2000

Fact 2: The Pats brought in Chad Ochocinco to play WR... and for comedic relief!
This still is exciting. Just put a mic on him during the game. Please. And don't censor him. Let him take pictures of girls in the stands, say obnoxious things, second-guess the coaches, try to predict plays, put whopee cushions under the O-linemen before they sit down. Let him do all that stuff! You have to think outside the box if you want the sequel to trump the original... and we all know the Pats didn't get Ochocinco for his on-field performance at this point. This is the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that leads to a shape-shifting, gelataneous terminator.
Advantage: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Fact 3: Randy Moss was in the last Super Bowl for the Patriots with a 1500 yard, 23 TD season... but not this one.
Is this like the Blues Brothers returning without John Belushi? Granted, in terms of getting the band back together, Kevin Faulk is still around. I don't think that's going to push the needle very far though.
Advantage: Blues Brothers 2000

Fact 4: The Pats have added Rob Gronkowski who had a 1300 yard, 17 TD season.
Does this mean he's John Connor from T2? Or is it Victor Cruz from the Giants (1500 yards, 9 TDs)? Both players had very special seasons and were two of the most explosive seasons in real football and in fantasy football. Of course, no one has any idea how healthy Gronkowski is. When healthy, he is absolutely impossible to cover may I just say.
Advantage: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Fact 5: The Giants have someone on their roster named Bear Pascoe. Yes, they have a Bear as a backup TE!
Talk about trying to do anything they can to entice us to watch the sequel? Adding Bears that play football is gimmicky. This is almost like having Blues Traveler guest star during the Blues Brother 2000 movie thinking it would really entice people to see the movie.
Advantage: Blues Brothers 2000

Thus, as I have shown from these facts, it appears more likely than not that this Super Bowl will not be as exciting as the original and will probably resemble Blues Brothers 2000 more than it resembles Terminator 2: Judgment Day. I sure hope I'm wrong, because nothing puts me in a worse mood than watching a Super Bowl stinker (I'm talking to you Ravens-Giants from the year 2000!)

Game Analysis

This year, as we all know, the Giants surprisingly ended the Patriots undefeated season in the 2007-2008 NFL season. Four years later, we somehow ended up with the same two teams meeting each other, though the teams have changed in some unique ways (Giants offense much better/consistent, Patriots defense much worse) despite the stability at QB and coach.

However, the strangest thing about this rematch... is that it is exactly 4 years ago, which in the NFL, happens to mean that each time the teams faced each other during the regular season. In that 2007 season, the Giants gave the Patriots everything they could handle to try to prevent the Patriots from getting to 16-0... but the Pats prevailed 38-35 (then lost in the Super Bowl). In this 2011 season, the Patriots lost to the Giants in week 9, 24-20, behind New England turning it over 4 times (but forcing 2 TOs), to go -2 on the day.

I think this game reinforces the one thing that has been true all season with this high-scoring Pats team... (and also applied to the high-scoring Packers and Saints teams)... they have to give up some turnovers for the other team to win. The Patriots lost to the Bills in a game where they also turned it over 4 times. In the Pats only other loss this year, to the Steelers, the Pats did finish +1, but the Steelers somehow held New England to 170 passing yards, which of course was a season-low.

The critical fact for me is that the Giants almost single-handedly let 49ers TE Vernon Davis beat them in the NFC Championship game. People don't talk about TE Aaron Hernandez as much as Gronkowski, but he is nearly just as skilled and will create just as many problems. Outside of the Giants finishing +2 or +3 in the turnover department, I only see an inevitable scoreline...

Pick: Patriots 38, Giants 21

Hope it is more exciting than Blues Brothers 2000!

Monday, December 26, 2011

NBA Preview 2011-2012: The NBA, It's Back!

I can't resist doing another NBA Preview. The 7 days of free agency have been insane, with David Stern completely overstepping his bounds, vetoing a trade, and then eventually letting Chris Paul go to the Clippers. More importantly we have like 66 games in 123 days approximately, and every team has about 3 back-to-back-to-backs. Let's take a look at what we have:

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division
4-NY- (major moves: added C Tyson Chandler, PG Mike Bibby; Lost PG C. Billups)- The Knicks have a huge whole at PG. Bibby is too old to be a successful PG. But yes, they have a nucleus of Stoudemire, Carmelo, and Chandler. Should be good enough for a low seed in the playoffs. The backcourt is ridiculously weak though now, but if Baron Davis comes back healthy that will be huge for them.
6-Boston- (major moves: added two Purdue rookies (j. Johnson, E. moore), PF B. Bass; Lost: D. West, PF big baby Davis, Jeff Green (heart surgery - hope he has a good recovery))- Well, the bench got shorter than last year. Jeff Green being out for the season does not help, as there's no way Pierce, KG, and Ray Allen are going to be able to make it through this sprint of 66 games in 122 days. Should be a middling seed, and a tough out in the early rounds... but this could be the last hurrah for this bunch.
7-Philly- (major moves: lost Kapono, 3-point specialist) - I think this young team (outside of Elton Brand), with two young PGs (Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams), along with Evan Turner and T. Young is the kind of team that may be athletic enough and deep enough to survive the sprint through the season.
NJ- (major moves: amnesty of Outlaw, who they just signed last year) - The team is thin now. Traded most of the assets to get PG Deron Wiliams, may trade C Brook Lopez still to get Dwight Howard, though they got Mehmet Okur, who's coming off a major injury. I can't expect much from them this season.
Toronto- (major moves: added a bunch of spare parts; rookie #5 pick Jonas V. not here yet) - This is not going to be a good team. Not in the least. I said it last year, and it still holds true this year!

Central Division
1-Chicago- (major moves: added Rip Hamilton; ) - This is still a great team. MVP Derrick Rose trained hard all summer again with the same guy as last year, alongside his buddies R. Westbrook, K. Love, and A. Horford. Sky's the limit again for these guys. The best thing about them, is that they have Taj Gibson, and Omer Asik, to help soak up minutes in this sprint of an NBA season, who are more than capable of succeeding.
3-Indiana- (major moves: added PF D. West, Lost: Dunleavy, PF McRoberts, PG TJ Ford and waived Posey) - This is a great team, and they got a nice upgrade in PF David West, assuming he's recovered from his knee injury. With the East being so incredibly weak (relatively) after Chicago/Miami, it's not out of the realm of possiblity for the Pacers, yes the Pacers, to grab the 3rd seed.
Milwaukee- (major moves: added Mike Dunleavy, Stephen Jackson (yes, the guy who throws haymakers!), ; Lost Corey Maggette) - I think their crazy coach, Scott Skiles has once again lost his team. This happens in every stint (Phoenix, Chicago). First, he overachieves, then they do around .500, then the bottom falls out and he gets fired. This year's team, as far as I can tell, has PF-gooden/ilyasova; C-Bogut, SF S. jackson, SG Dunleavy, and PG B. Jennings
Cleveland- (major moves: added rookie PG Kyrie Irving, rookie PF T. Thompson, SF O. Casspri; Lost PF Hickson, PG Baron Davis) - I think the Cavs will be battling for the last playoff spot all season long (assuming they don't deal out Jamison and Mo). This team is much better than the forecast everyone else is saying, i.e. this is not the worst team in the East. Not by a long shot. They should be just below .500 and hit around 40 wins because a) they are going to be running all night long in their new system under Byron Scott and b) they still have some solid players in Jamison, Varejao, Mo, JJ Hickson and super fast PG Ramon Sessions.
Detroit- (major moves: added rookie PG B. Knight, ; Lost Rip Hamilton) - It's just an older team (Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince) with some players who don't play defense (Villaneuva, Ben Gordon) and then a few interesting younger players (Jerebko, B. Knight, A. Daye). This is not actually a winning formula. (note, I used the same recap as last year!)

Southeast Division
2-Miami- (major moves: added rookie PG N. Cole, SF S. Battier; the corpse of Eddy Curry; Lost Mike Bibby, Z, and Magloire) - Yes, they have Bosh, Wade, and LeBron. Mike Miller is the best player after that. At Center, they are in trouble. It's their only weakness... but it could really only be exploited by teams that have offensive centers (i.e. Orlando and the Lakers).
5-Atlanta- (major moves: added T. McGrady, V. Radmonovic; Lost J. Crawford)- The Hawks have seen their best days already I think... though I do think they have more athleticism than other teams, so surviving the regular season is more likely.
8-Orlando- (major moves: added Big Baby Davis, Lost PF Bass; Arenas) - It's hard to handicap them since traindg Howard is still possible... I still think they eke out a playoff appearance, though I have no idea who will be on the team by that point.
Washington- (major moves: added rookie J. Vesley (not sure if he's in the states though); PG S. Mack; LOST Josh Howard) - This team smartly decided not to amnesty Rashard Lewis, because it would have forced them to spend additional money to get back to the minimum. Instead, they can suck it up this year, get a good draft pick, then move forward with getting some free agents in next year's better class to surround John Wall with some talent (and hopefully not as crazy as A. Blatche).
Charlotte- (major moves: added PG Kemba Walker; SG R. Williams; SF C. Maggette; LOST SF S. Jackson) - May be one of the worst teams... they just have Kemba Walker and Maggette, and Maggette breeds losing.

Western Conference

Mountainous Division
1-Ok City- (no major moves) - All-World Durant plus super awesome PG Westbrook plus C Perkins and defensive force Ibaka plus Harden means they are the prohibitive favorites out West.
6-Denver- (major moves: added rookie PF K. Faried (he's got dreadlocks and was huge in that NCAA upset in the 1st round over Louisville); PG A. Miller; SG R. Fernandez, LOST (JR Smith, Wilson Chandler,); PG R. Felton ) - Interestingly, they were the top team after the Carmelo trade in offensive AND defensive efficiency. Granted, that team had Felton, JR Smith, and Chandler (all gone). So... I know they won't be the best team, but they should be good enough to mak the playoffs still. Ty Lawson is now the starting PG, they still have Nene, Afflalo, and Gallinari.
8-Portland- (added PG R. Felton, SG J. Crawford; lost PG A. Miller, B. Roy (retired), Oden (knee? - should I even mention this, or do we assume it?)) - This is a solid team, amazingly, despite all of the losses. They have PF Aldridge, SF G. Wallace, C Camby/ K. Thomas, SG W. Matthews, and PG Felton; plus Batum, and J. Crawford off the bench.
Utah- (added SF J. Howard, rookie SG A. Burks; LOST SG R. Price) - this is a retooling time... but if D. Favors pans out, they should be ecstatic about he D. Williams trade last year.
Minnesota- (major moves: added rookie stud SF D. Williams; PG R. Rubio; PG JJ Barea, C B. Miller ) - #2 overall pick Derrick Williams is coming off the bench. Rubio is finally here, so it will at least be interesting for these guys.

Texas Division
2-Memphis- (major moves: lost SF Battier (it's not that big a deal because he's old)) - I suppose this team has more athleticism and more weapons than Dallas, so they edge them out for a division title.
3-Dallas- (major moves: added PF L. Odom, SG V. Carter, SG D. West; LOST C T. Chandler, PG JJ Barea, ) - I think they will fall short of the division title, but will still be a tough out in the playoffs.
7-Houston- (major moves: added rookie PF Marcus Morris; PG J. Flynn; LOST PF/C C. Hayes, Yao; C B. Miller) - I still think Scola, Kevin Martin, and the defensive presence of Samuel Dalmbert should be good enough to make the playoffs!
San Antonio- (major moves: added rookie SF K. Leonard; PF TJ Ford; LOST PG G. Hill ) - Last year, I thought the spurs were done and took them out of making the playoffs. Instead, they got a #1 seed... then promptly got stomped in the 1st round. This year, I just think their stars will be injured and they won't have enough frontcourt depth to make it through the season.
New Orleans- (major moves: added C Kaman, SG E. Gordon; LOST PG C. Paul, PF D. West) - I think this division is brutal. The Eric Gordon, Kaman, Emeka Okafor team shouldn't be that bad... but they won't be that great either.
Pacific Division
4-Lakers- (major moves: SG J. Kapono, PF McRoberts; LOST PF Odom, SG S. Brown) - This is the end of the Lakers, in its current form. I'm just not sure how far they can go with their old players in this abbreviated season.
5-Clippers- (major moves: added PG C. Paul, PG Billups; SF C. Butler; LOST C Kaman; SG E. Gordon) - The Clippers are exciting, yes. However, it's all contingent on Chris Paul's knee holding up.
Phoenix- (major moves: added SG S. Brown, SG R. Price; LOST SG V. Carter; PG A. Brooks (in china)) - I'm guessing this is the year the Suns trade Nash to a contender? Not sure what will happen, but outside of Gortat dominating suddenly, I don't think they can make the playoffs.
Sacramento- (major moves: added rookie PG Jimmer (i hate him); PF/C C. Hayes; PF JJ Hickson; SG J. Salmons; LOST SF Casspri; PG. Udirh; C Dalembert) - If Tyreke Evans is healthy and re-finds his rookie year, this team could be dangerous. No idea if they will play defense (Tyreke, Jimmer, JJ Hickson, Salmons, Thornton), which will be a problem.
Golden State- (major moves: added rookie Klay Thompson; C Kwame Brown; LOST Radmonovic; Al Thornton; SG R. Williams) - This team is very hard to evaluate. They also don't play defense. They also wasted their amnesty on a $4 million player , in hopes of getting a big center. Instead, they chose backup Kwame Brown over Dalembert. Why is the entire league black-balling Dalembert? I don't get it.

1st Round
1-Chicago over 8-Orlando
4-NY over 5- ATL (Baron davis should be good by then)
3-Indiana over 6-Boston
2-Miami over 7-Philly
1-Ok City ove 8-Portland
5-Clippers over 4-Lakers (oh boy)
3-Dallas over 6-Denver
2-Memphis over 7-Houston

2nd Round
1-Chicago over 4-NY
2-Miami over 3-Indiana
1-Ok City over 5-Clippers
2-Memphis over 3-Dallas
Conf Finals
2-Miami over 1-Chicago- The biggest question I want to know is this: why can't the Bulls beat the Heat? Everyone remembers the fact that the Heat steamrolled the Bulls last year 4-1, but during the season, the Bulls went 3-0 against the Heat. Unraveling this matchup is the key to determining this year's NBA champion I believe. The Heat are the favorite, but the Bulls in my opinion, might be the only team capable of beating them. Luol Deng is one of the few players who can, for whatever it's worth, hang around with Lebron. Derrick Rose gives the Heat problems. Plus, the Bulls have lots of size which is a problem for the soft Bosh, Anthony/Haslem frontline. The 1st game took place on 1/15/11, but Chris Bosh got hurt during the game in the 3rd quarter and Lebron didnt play, and the Bulls won by 3, while outrebounding Miami 42-30. The 2nd game was another close one - a 4 point Bulls win. The Bulls outrebounded Miami 53-39. The Heat played a short 8-man rotation, but were missing Udonis Haslem. The Bulls Omer Asik caused many problems, getting 11 rebounds, going +17, in 21 minutes of play. The Bulls won the 3rd game, played 3/6/11 by only 1 point. In this game, the Bulls only outrebounded the Heat 36-30. Udonis Haslem was still not in this game either.
In game 1 of the playoffs, the Bulls won by 21, behind a 45-33 rebounding edge, Deng, Noah, and Taj Gibson all had huge games. In game 2, the Heat won by 10, won the rebounding advantage, played great defense, and shot well. It was pretty perfect. In game 3, the Heat won by 11, In game 4, the Heat won a nailbiter in OT. In game 5, the Heat won by 3. I also computed the following stats... the Bulls somehow had Chris Bosh chipping in at 60% FG% during the playoff series (well above his 47% for the playoffs last year). However, they held Lebron and Wade slightly below their playoff averages: Lebron was down from 46.6, to 44.6, but averages more assists (6.6 to 5.9); Wade was really down - from 48.5 to 40.5 and averaged even less assists than normal (4.4 to 3.7).
However, none of this information really matters. What does matter? The Heat and the Bulls have each shed one of their top 8 (Bibby, Bogans). The scary thing is, I wante to ask the question of whether Bibby's performance in the Heat relative to the rest of the team. If you throw out his garbage time in game 1's blowout, the Heat were exceptionally worse with Bibby in the lineup (i.e. Bibby always had a worse +/- compared to the team's performance for that day). Bogans? Other than the strange game 1, he did performed rather consistently with the outcome, if not slightly better. The most fascinating thing is this - Bibby posted a NEGATIVE win/shares in the playoffs last year (-0.029), despite his team winning most of their games! This is really hard to do. Bogans? He posted a respectable 0.117 w/share per 48 (where 0.1 is considered the average player). The question then becomes this - the minutes lost by Bogans are now taken by Rip Hamilton. Is Rip, at his age, going to perform that much better than Bogans? I'm not sure. However, the minutes lost by Bibby, are now taken by rookie PG Norris Cole. Is Norris Cole going to play better defense than Mike Bibby? I can answer that emphatically and say yes. Is Norris Cole going to help the Heat run even more fast breaks? I can answer that emphatically and say yes - because he's much faster than Bibby at this point. So, the switch of Norris Cole for Mike Bibby seems to help the Heat even more than the one of Rip Hamilton for Bogans. Now, one could argue that the addition of Omer Asik will really turn the tables for the Bulls. However, I don't think that's going to be the case because Asik, even though he was great for rebounding and defense last year, can probably only help with Bosh and/or the center position. So, sadly, I'm left with the outcome I dread, which is that Lebron overcomes his stagefright and wins the NBA Championship.

1-Ok City over 2-Memphis

NBA Finals
2-Miami over 1-Ok City

All-Gutsy Team
PF - B. Griffin, Clippers
SF - Durant, Ok City
C - M. Gasol, Memphis
SG - Wade, Miami
PG - LeBron, Miami

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Skynet Championship Series: Judgment Day in the Year 2011

Judgment Day is upon us... and Skynet is once again in disagreement with the humans as it demands to see a game of LSU vs. Oklahoma State!

In case anyone was curious, this is the 6th version of Skynet... Skynet has only agreed with the humans ONCE (last year - Auburn vs. Oregon).

Here are the other years, if anyone was curious:
2010: Skynet and Humans: Auburn vs. Oregon
2009: Skynet: Bama vs. Cincy (got destroyed by Florida in a different game); BCS: Bama vs. Texas (got smoked by Bama)
2008: Skynet: Oklahoma vs. Texas; BCS: Oklahoma vs. Florida (won champ, despite Skynet snub)
2007: Skynet: LSU vs. Va. Tech; BCS: LSU vs. Ohio State
2006: Skynet: Ohio St vs. Michigan; BCS: Ohio St vs. Florida (won champ, despite Skynet snub)

What is most interesting is the narrow difference this year in the actual BCS rankings. The difference between Bama and Ok State was a mere .08 points (in the actual BCS). In Skynet this year Ok State finished ahead by 0.64 points. How does that rank relative to past years? Take a look at this table:

2009 - Cincy over Texas by 0.6
2008 - Texas over Florida by 1.02
2007 - Va. Tech over Ohio State by 1.6 (and over LSU - but this year was all screwed up with upsets)
2006 - Michigan over Floriday by only 0.03
Conclusion: It's a fairly big margin, but not that big in comparison to the limited data we have

If people were curious what the margins were in each of the computer polls (in terms of normalized values, in Skynet) here is the table:

Sagarin Anderson Matrix Wolfe
Bama 1.394 2.648 3.126 1.659
Ok State 2.129 0.798 0.437 2.925

But if anyone was curious, the two other computer rankings that are "biased" because they use human rankings at the beginning of the season for the initial rankings and are tainted, had normalized values of: Massey - Ok State - 1.740, Bama 1.988; Billingsley - Ok State 2.511, Bama 3.411. Amazingly, even in those rankings, Ok State was better than Bama!

But the thing that concerns me most about the computer polls? How in the world did Sagarin and Wolfe not end up with a greater change from Ok State beating Oklahoma? This is a strange question. Because the way the BCS is calculated, the computers only take 4 of the 6 computer rankings - throwing out the highest and lowest values. However, while the BCS takes into account every single vote, it merely just averages the values for the computer rankings (i.e. if you are 2nd in Sagarin, you get 24 points; if you are 3rd you get 23 points - no matter how close or far away the two teams are). So, let's play a BCS hypothetical: what happens if the BCS is still worth 1/3 but it uses a methodology to take into account normalized values? For this hypothetical I'll consider all 6 computer rankings:

Total Harris Coaches Computers - normalized
Bama 0.94713 0.9471 0.9485 0.94579
Ok State 0.939373 0.9231 0.9268 0.96822

Thus, it puts Ok State 0.002 closer to Bama. Not by as much as I thought it would actually! The more interesting part is how it would take very few ballots to be switched for Ok State to have made the big game. Once again, we realize that Skynet is supreme, because it's the only system where we can be certain that no one is paid off to switch their vote or keep their vote a certain way! That's it for this year. Skynet will have to remain angry once again!

Most underrated by the humans: Ok St, K STate, Oklahoma, Baylor, Georgia (The Big 12 was easily the best conference this year, unanimous by all the computers; the Big 12 won like 90% of its games out of conference)
Most overrated by the humans: Stanford, Oregon, Boise St, Wisconsin, Va. Tech, Mich St (wow, how things have changed. Boise State ended up on the overrated chart!)

SCS BCS Sched Rnk Harris Coaches
1 LSU 0.10 1 14 1 1
2 Ok St 1.57 3 5 3 3
3 Bama 2.21 2 26 2 2
4 K St 6.32 8 13 10 10
5 Arkansas 6.99 6 34 7 7
6 Stanford 7.51 4 49 4 4
7 Oklahoma 8.36 14 2 19 19
8 Oregon 9.86 5 31 5 5
9 Baylor 9.99 12 7 16 16
10 Boise St 10.00 7 72 6 6
11 So. Car 10.82 9 33 9 9
12 Michigan 13.18 13 30 12 12
13 Georgia 13.45 16 22 18 18
14 Wisconsin 13.92 10 63 8 8
15 Va. Tech 14.18 11 52 11 11
16 Houston 15.64 19 100 17 17
17 Clemson 16.01 15 41 14 14
18 TCU 16.46 18 80 15 15
19 Nebraska 16.57 20 24 20 20
20 Mich St 17.65 17 61 13 13