Monday, May 31, 2010

World Cup 2010 Preview

I ran through the previews at Sports Illustrated and Yahoo to get an idea of what's going on... here's my take (which is heavily influenced by my news sources):

Projected Order of Finish

Group A
1) Mexico - Mexico is relying on three 21-year old forwards. They are supposed to be talented... and I assume we will find out very shortly how talented they are!
2) France - This is an interesting team... in that Sports Illustrated does not like their coach at all. Let's not forget... they only qualified because of a non-call on a hand-ball by Thierry Henry against Ireland. However, I don't like the other teams as much.
3) Uruguay - This team apparently is all about attacking at all times with a very weak defense.
4) South Africa - South Africa is poised to become the first hosts to fail to move on from the opening round... on the bright side, they have a player named Pienaar who plays for Everton in the Premier league, so he is good at least.

Group B - crapshoot for 2nd place
1) Argentina- Maradona is the leader. But I figure his erratic decisions and bizarreness will not cause the talented Argentines to lose until the knockout stage.
2) South Korea- they have a younger team this time around; only 3 starters return from 2006's team... but they lost one of their better players to injury during a game this past Sunday.
3) Nigeria- They ended up relieving their coach and hiring a new one a few months ago... I thought this one quote was really entertaining from SI, "At 18 John Obi Mikel was so highly regarded in the English Premier League that he was the subject of a bizarre transfer dispute between Chelsea and Manchester United involving tens of millions of dollars, death threats and the player hiding at a friend's house while agents sorted out his future. "
4) Greece - Greece apparently still relies on playing heavy defensive soccer and surviving games 0-0 and 1-0. I just think the other teams sound more talented in this group, but they would certainly be one of the best 4th place teams.

Group C
1) England - one of the better teams of course.
2) United States - I think the US can survive the 1st round... it doesn't help that no on knows how healthy their best defender (Oguchi) is, or that they lost Charlie Davies to injury before the World Cup. This seems like more of a manageable group than usual... though the US biggest weakness this time around seems to be the defense, which has been making all kinds of sloppy mistakes of late.
3) Slovenia - this is one of the surprises from Europe, as they knocked out Russia in a home-and-home at the last stage of qualifying. They rely on defensive soccer and counterattack (same as Greece). What's funny is that this team is out for revenge on England and especially Wayne Rooney... who apparently tried to injure one of their players during qualifying!
4) Algeria - Interestingly, this was the surprise from Africa, as they knocked out Egypt in the end. They struggled to score throughout qualifying and appear to be the most lightly regarded African team (along w/ South Africa).

Group D
1) Serbia- They actually won their European qualifying group, ahead of France (though France is considered a favorite here)... they also have a 6'7" forward up front, which would give them a large size advantage in most games.
2) Ghana- Fact: they made the 2nd round in 2006; in addition, they won the 2009 U-20 World Cup (and some of those players are now playing here, including the leading scorer from that tourney , Dominic Adiyiah [AC Milan]). This team could be even better than in 2006 then! Downside: Michael Essien is not healthy enough to play.
3) Germany- They originally had a goalie slated to start but he sadly committed suicide in November, despite playing in a number of the qualifiers. Then, they lost Midfielder Michael Ballack, who is out with an injury. They lost another defender to injury this past Saturday. This team is a top-seed... but I'm picking the upset because this is just a lot of problems for any team to deal with.
4) Australia- they focus on playing defense, but do not have the talent to advance out of this dangerous group.

Group E
1) Netherlands- the Dutch are extremely talented and do quite well by playing insane, attacking soccer. Massive disappointments have occurred along the way (Russia manhandling them in 2008 Euros), losing to Portugal 1-0 in the round of 16 in the 2006 world cup, and failing to even qualify in 2002.
2) Cameroon-World class talent in Eto'o (9 goals in 11 qualifiers) and young 22-year old Arsenal player Robert Song should get Cameroon through to the next round.
3) Denmark- Should not be taken lightly, having somehow finished AHEAD OF Portugal and Sweden in their qualifying group. Contrary to every other country... Denmark is using the same coach, Morten Olsen, since the year... 2000. He guided Denmark to the 2nd round in 2002, even winning a group (over Senegal, Uruguay, France), before losing 3-0 to England. The Danes don't have a talented bunch, but play well together.
4) Japan- They have trouble scoring... and the coach has used 21 different strikers in the last 2 years!

Group F - Weakest group, by far.
1) Italy- I don't like these guys, as they play a boring style, but as we saw in 2006, this can lead to a championship. They get a cupcake group to start this time.
2) Paraguay- They lost their top goal scorer from qualifying... as he was gunned down in a Mexico City bar in January. He somehow survived the attack, but is not healthy enough to play soccer. They have other players who are still good... I just feel bad for them.
3) Slovakia - Apparently, not very highly regarded.
4) New Zealand- please remember, that Australia decided to join the Asian qualifying group... paving the way for New Zealand to get the Oceania half auto bid. They fight off small island contingencies to get the qualification, though they did have to beat the 5th-place Asian team (Bahrain). They have no chance.

Group G - Strongest group, by far.
1) Brazil- excellent team, and the favorite to win it all.
2) Cote D'Ivoire - excellent team. They have all sorts of European players (and goal-scorers especially), including the top scorer in England in Drogba. Defense may be slight question mark.
3) Portugal - excellent team. Interestingly, Portugal opens with Cote D'Ivoire. A victory by either side will go a long way to determining this group. They struggled in qualifying, though Cristiano Ronaldo missed a bunch of games.
4) North Korea - No way do they succeed... though I will be watching if anyone decides to defect. For those not aware, the weirdest story about their team is their Japanese national who decided to play for North Korea because his grandparents are from N. Korea.

Group H -
1) Spain - only lost once in the last like 40 matches. Wow. Struggles on the big stage for some reason.
2) Chile- Chile is crazy, and scored 32 goals (2nd to brazil)... but gave up 22 goals. It's also a very young team, but they are fast as hell.
3) Switzerland- Very inconsistent team... apparently beat Portugal in the Euro championships, but lost to Luxembourg! early in qualifying.
4) Honduras - amazing advance from N. America... but they have no shot here.

Knockout Stage (this is so arbitrary for me to do this, but here it goes):
Mexico over S. Korea
England over Ghana
Netherlands over Paraguay
Brazil over Chile
Argentina over France
Serbia over United States
Cameroon over Italy
Spain over Cote D'Ivoire

England over Mexico
Brazil over Netherlands
Argentina over Serbia
Spain over Cameroon

Brazil over England
Spain over Argentina

Spain over Brazil

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More World Cup Info

Yes, it's time to get ill... and to learn more about the World Cup.

Back in December, I provided data on each team, and their ranking according to FIFA (i.e. SIX years of outcomes!) and SPI (ESPN's ranking which takes into account players on the field for both teams in each game).

I went back to take a look at the SPI, to see which teams are big movers and shakers from last December's rankings.

South Korea - was 42, now 31 (so they have leapfrogged both Nigeria (33) and Greece (34) ) !

Algeria - was 46, now 62. (I may have had a typo the first time, it looks like they were 64 at first).
Cameroon - was 15, now 25. they've fallen behind Denmark (20) in their group.
Ivory Coast - was 9, now 15.

That's interesting that all the African teams fell far in the rankings. Not sure what that means.

For more interesting facts, here are the odds of each team to win, according to on 5/26/10. Notably, Spain and Brazil are still the favorites. Also notably, Brazil, Portugal, and Ivory Coast, which are all in the same group, are each in the top-ten teams most likely to win the whole tournament!

Spain 6/1 9/2
Brazil 5/1 5/1
England 8/1 11/2
Argentina 6/1 9/1
Italy 12/1 11/1
Germany 10/1 12/1
France 18/1 13/1
Netherlands 12/1 13/1
Portugal 30/1 20/1
Ivory Coast 40/1 20/1
Chile 80/1 30/1
Ghana 50/1 40/1
Serbia 50/1 40/1
United States 60/1 40/1
Paraguay 60/1 40/1
Uruguay 100/1 50/1
South Africa 100/1 50/1
Nigeria 75/1 50/1
Mexico 60/1 50/1
Denmark 75/1 50/1
Cameroon 75/1 50/1
Australia 100/1 60/1
Greece 100/1 60/1
Slovakia 250/1 100/1
Switzerland 125/1 100/1
South Korea 150/1 150/1
Slovenia 1000/1 150/1
Japan 125/1 150/1
Algeria 600/1 200/1
Honduras 350/1 200/1
Korea DPR 350/1 200/1
New Zealand 1000/1 200/1

Also, interestingly, Spain is the heaviest favorite to win their group, at 1/4. The lowest favorite to win a group is France, at only 10/11. Outside of the top seeds, the next best bets to "win" a group are: Mexico (3/1) (Group A - France), Ghana (3/1) (Group D - Germany), Paraguay (3/1 (Group F - Italy), and Portugal (Group G - Brazil).

15 Days Till World Cup!

Yes 15 days till the world stops working and starts watching football err soccer. Gutsy and I will doing some serious World Cup coverage so to start up here's a little World Cup Q&A primer.....

Umm so World Cup? Where is it being held?
World Cup this year will be in South Africa, the first African country to host a World Cup. Remember since South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere it is currently winter, water circles the drain the wrong way, and hamburgers eat people. Of that only the winter part is important as the high altitudes and cool climate will cause some teams to tire quickly.

Tell me about Team USA. Are they good?
Umm they are decent. Team USA is ranked about 16th in the World although it should be stressed this is a young team. Only 6 of the 23 players have World Cup experience.

What are Team USA's Strengths and Weaknesses?
At the top of the list is the goal keeping. Starter Tim Howard is among the elite in the world and behind him are 2 quality goal tenders.. On the weak front are the defenders. All 3 of the starters are coming off serious injuries and there is simply no depth behind those starters.

What should I expect out of this team?
Probably the expectation is getting out of their group but losing in the first round of the tournament. To do less would be a disappointment as that would mean losses to Algeria or Slovenia. To do more would be thrilling as that would probably mean wins versus England or Germany . I will note that Team USA's jersey's are homages to the 1950 team that is the gold standard of USA soccer so they got that going for them...which is nice.

Ok...gotcha on Team USA? Can I root for other teams/players? If so , who?
This was actually a long standing feud between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson... can I support other teams besides Team USA. Adams said no. Jefferson said "Fuck it dude, I'm going bowling" . So that's up to you, normally for us Americans its totally cool to root for countries associated with our heritage in the old country, if the country has cool colors, and if the country did not try to conquer the world . That said I'm rooting for Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) and against Maradona (Argentina).

Why Drogba?
Drogba, the captain of Team Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire) , is one of the best players in the English Premier League. However what seperates him is that he's an incredible person. Not like he signs jerseys or gives good incredible person. Drogba donated his entire signing bonus (~$6 million) to build a hospital in his hometown. Also as a Goodwill UN Ambassador he helped end the civil war that plagued his country. The man pisses awesomeness. So root for Drogba.

Why Not Maradona ?
Maradona, the ex-superstar/controversial figure, is now the head coach of Team Argentina. He's combative, fights with the best player in the world (Lionel Messi), and possibly caused the oil leak in the Gulf. Worse he has publicly stated that he will run through the streets of Buenos Aires naked if Argentina wins it all. I don't need those mental images, I need to sleep at night.

Monday, May 24, 2010

As the Big 10 Turns and Other Stories

Expansion Talks continue to go on for the Big 10. There's committees, reports, tryouts, hazing rituals, etc. to go through. The latest update is that the Big 10 won't make any offers at least through early June. The latest rumors have UConn being nixed from the list due to their academic shortcomings.

The Wizards Win the John Walls Sweepstakes - The Washington Wizards won the NBA lottery and will select first. While there is some uncertainity it seems inevitable that the Wizard select Kentucky' John Walls with the #1 pick. I think Walls is an excellent case of performance v. potential. Walls' college performance was far shakier than is normally acknowledged. He was a turnover machine and a poor shooter. That said his athleticism is thought to show off potential (i.e. at worst case he'll be Derick Rose). Personally , I think Walls is a little over-hyped but that's just me.
Sometimes danger lurks in the background...

Dustin Byfuglien - Great Name, Unlikely Star - The star of the Chicago Blackhawks sweep of the Sharks was Dustin Byfuglien. Byfuglien, whose name I still can't pronounce, had scored 1 goal in 27 previous games prior to Game 3 in the Canucks series. He then proceeded to score 5 goals in 5 games of which 3 of them were arguably game winners. I believe this is the first time a Byfuglien has led the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup Final but I'll double check.

Randomly Cool Story is the story of Kwaku Dansu, a college player with zero tackles and three years of playing football. Yet, he's currently with the Browns with a chance to make the team. Good luck Kwaku!

Random Deep Thought of the Day

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

NBA Conference Finals and Other Tidings

Cavs Wrap-Up
After days of mourning, it's finally time for me to get back to blogging. The amount of material written about the Cavs and LeBron is extraordinary. Here is my two cents:

The Cavs Loss was 90% Mike Brown

Basically, it comes down to this: Mike Brown has no spine or Mike Brown is a moron. Here's why: this year's Cavs team could go small, big, or fast. It could matchup with any team. Some say it's a problem when your team goes 10-deep in the NBA. Well, I've learned it's only a problem if your coach does not know how to utilize the talent. The Cavs basically acquired Shaq and Jamison to compensate for the shortcomings of last year's Cavs' loss to the Magic, to matchup against Dwight Howard down low and against Rashard Lewis on the outside. If you would have told me back in February that the Cavs would be acquiring Jamison for nothing... and then using him for 30 minutes a night against KG I would have said you were frickin' out of your mind.

So basically, instead of playing the matchup at hand (the Celtics), Mike Brown decided for some reason that he would play Shaq and Jamison for over 30 minutes per night just because they were the starters. All Mike Brown had to do was look at the February game versus Boston (yes Pierce didn't play, but the game is still a good illustration) that the Cavs obliterate the Celtics when they play a lot of Varejao and Hickson (and no Z or Shaq). You could also look at the March game too if you want. You could also look at the Hawks domination of the Celtics during the season, as they play an athletic lineup at all times. Let's also not forget... you acquired Leon Powe as insurance in case you played Boston because he even said, all he wanted was revenge against his former team.

Back to the question at hand... either Mike Brown did not have the cajones to stand-up to Shaq and Jamison and play them reduced minutes (in favor of better matchups)... or Mike Brown is an idiot. Either way, he needs to be fired (the timing of which is a question, as LeBron may like Brown because he can boss him around). In addition, yes, LeBron was not healthy in the series. But that paled in comparison.

I think one quote by General Patton really is apt for the Cavs and Mike Brown... "A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow." Sadly, Mike Brown's plan for Orlando was meaningless because he failed to have a decent plan against the Celtics.

Western Conference Finals
The Suns-Lakers finally kicked off last night. Robin Lopez played and had 14 pts, 6 rebounds, and a +2 rating... and everyone else on the Suns played awful outside of Jason Richardson (including 2 of 12 3-point shooting from Frye and Dudley off the bench). I can't believe Robin Lopez made it back. I'm very intrigued to see how the Suns play or if they can even stay in some of the games. Stoudemire will have to do better than 3 rebounds... while Odom gets 19! Don't worry, Stoudemire claims Odom was just "lucky." Right.

Eastern Conference Finals
I dislike both teams but it should be an interesting series. Say what you will about Howard, but any team that has the luxury of going one-on-one with Howard to some degree of success has a great chance of being in every game. Luckily for the Celtics, Kendrick Perkins always gives Howard fits. The other centers on the list that give Howard trouble are... Samuel Dalembert (helping the Sixers push the Magic to 6 or 7 games last year in the 1st round), Shaq (even at his old age), and maybe the Lakers combination. That's it as far as I know. You can't really beat the Magic in a playoff series otherwise at this point. Should be a long, exciting series.

I've been wrong about every prediction so far in the playoffs. At this point though, I'm assuming the Eastern Conference wins the championship no matter what.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Big 10 Beat News

A quick over view of some of the latest in Big 10 news

Expansion continues to be the biggest topic as meetings and rumors are ongoing on the subject. Very little is definitive at this point but a few kernels of truth appear to be more solid.
  • Expansion is happening with multiple schools joining. By the end of expansion the Big 10 will have 14 to 16 schools.
  • The Big 10 network appears to the key factor - so schools will be judged in how they expand the tv market. Consequently university's that have brand name in appeal in basketball are going to be considered more than probably is being let on.
  • Notre Dame is the obvious school but they seem reluctant at this point
  • I think the one shoe in for expansion is Missouri. After that Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers, UConn, Nebraska, Kansas continue to be mentioned as possibilities

New Comers
Every year new faces pop up in college football. Some are bright eyed freshman , some are those waiting for their opportunity to shine. Who are a few random names to keep in the back of the mind?

  • William Gholston DE, MSU - Younger brother of Vernon Gholston. Highly recruited DE could see the field immediately. Michigan State has the offense- it's a question if they have any defense
  • Demar Dorsey, CB/S, Mi - Demar Dorsey was the highlest ranked recruit in the Big 10 this year. The Wolverines, lost their top 2 play makers (Graham and Warren) on a porous defense. Unless freshmen (specifically Dorsey) can make an impact it doesn't seem likely that the Wolverine defense will improve.
  • Ben Buchanon, P , OSU - Everyone knows that Tressel worships on the alter of Special Teams. Unfortunately the Buckeyes lost their punter, kicker, kick returner, punt returner, and kickoff guy to graduation. Which is everyone. Buchanon, a red shirt fresman, could be in line to handle punting, kickoffs, and long range kicks - which means his success is needed for the Buckeyes special teams to be any good.
  • Robert Mauve, QB, Purdue - Normally I don't comment too much on Purdue but they did make several strides last year to the point where beating Purdue should not be an after thought. Mauve, a transfer from University of Miami, takes the helm for the Boilermaker offense. Once thought of as being highly talented, Mauve has a chance of resurrecting his career and pushing Purdue to the top of the Big 10

Thursday, May 13, 2010



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Curl Up in a Ball

It looks like it's that time of the year when as a Cleveland fan, I'm forced to curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep.

I wasn't going to blog anything tonight, not after the worst bout of self-inflicted pain on a basketball court that I've seen since... the Dallas Mavericks blowing a double digit lead in Game 3 against the Miami Heat and then blowing an entire series.

Thoughts going into Game 6:

1) Throughout the season, the Cavs had one of the best offenses. No joke. Tons of 3-point shooters (Parker, Mo, Moon, Gibson). Great ball movement. And... the play that no one can stop, setting a pick for LeBron when he is OFF-THE-BALL allowing LeBron to run free to the hoop. Once the Cavs hit panic mode though (see last year's Orlando series), the Cavs stop running plays, as LeBron decides to do literally everything on his own. I love LeBron, but I can think of no rational reason why the coaching staff calls plays all season (during 2008-2009 and 2009-2010) but does not call plays during extended periods of play (vs. Orlando in 2009 and now Boston in 2010). So... I blame LeBron. He can do everything but coach. He needs to let them call plays... we need to see them getting LeBron free off the ball.
2) Throughout the season, the Cavs still outrebounded opponents. This is the key to their success. Please box out. Please. Don't let balls just bounce to Rondo.
3) I pray Games 4 and 5 are a "Hello! McFly!" moment. The Cavs have been the best team in the regular season the last 2 years. This year's team would have absolutely demolished last year's team (Shaq/Parker/Moon is a HUGE upgrade over Ben Wallace/Wally/Sasha). In the end... it's up to Coach Mike Brown to pick up the pieces and remind this team that they are the favorites.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Suns Sweep Spurs

The story of the day in the NBA world is the Suns sweeping their arch-rival Spurs. I have to admit history played a role in my ultimate decision in picking the Spurs over the Suns (wow...not even close on that one). So what was there difference? Basketball-reference does an outstanding job of breaking it down . In summary, the Suns kept the Spurs from dominating the boards and turned the Spurs defense into Swiss cheese. Perhaps age finally caught up to the Spurs. Or Alvin Gentry/Amar'e contract situation meant that the Suns finally figured out how to have a half court offense. Whatever the case....the Suns stomped all over the Spurs....much to the surprise of well everyone....

Friday, May 07, 2010

Talkin Tribe

Bruce Drennan is an announcer and talk show host on the Indians' network. I'm not a big fan of him. But, after the Indians 9th inning blunder a few days ago, Drennan goes on the rant of all rants about the Indians. He pretty much goes top to bottom on the roster and insults everyone. I feel like I'm watching Lewis Black meets Harry Carey.
Pretty Entertaining, go tribe!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Spring College Football Wrap Up

Well Spring Football is in the books (I assume they have books on this somewhere) , early spring top 25 rankings are out, and it's about to hit quiet time for on field action until August. So what are the big headlines coming out of Spring Football?

Expansion or Super-Expansion?
Both the Big 10 and Pac 10 are directly looking to expand with the SEC considering expansion. The question is will there be an expansion to 12 teams or super-expansion to up to 16 team conferences. Now the 12 team conference has the advantage of a conference championship game, what's the story about super-expansion? That's a separate issue as the conferences we knew would fall by the way side. The idea here more of a) adding markets for television (e.g., Big 10 network) and b) limiting competition. By creating super-conferences the new Big 10, Pac 10, SEC, could form their own BCS and cut out the remains of other conferences thereby insuring a bigger cut of the ever growing college football pie. Now this might seem conspiratorial or what have you but the only reason for Super-Expansion of the Big 10 (i.e. adding 5 schools) is for greater leverage and control of athletics and the only reason for the SEC to respond in kind is for similiar reasons. If history is any guide, the big boys like excluding those smaller from the pot o'college money.

Pre-Season Rankings

With end of Spring football you're seeing a spat of pre-season rankings - which in turn will influence the actual first AP poll so what are we seeing? There appears to be general consensus on the top 3 - 1. Alabama 2. Boise State 3. Ohio State. All are returning most of their offenses. Fortunately all of have big non-conference games (Penn State, V-Tech, Miami) so we should see quickly if they are for real. Behind them are a spat of your usual suspects - Texas, OU, Oklahoma, Florida.

Big 10 Questions

There's no secret that here at BSD a lot of our focus is on the Big 10 so what are some of the big questions out there -

1. tOSU - Oddly or ironically the biggest question for the Buckeyes might be on special teams. The Buckeyes need to replace both their kicker and punter and early spring returns are.... bad. Tresselball relies on field position and long range FG accuracy so poor special teams could be a big deal

2. Iowa - Iowa had an incredibly successful year last year can they duplicate it , if not exceed? That will fall on if they can rebuild their o-line. They need to replace 4 of 5 starters. Iowa has identified who they are going to remains to be seen if they can gel.

3. Wisconsin - Wisconsin returns most of their team as well. The only question they have is at receiver. Outside of Nick Toon (Al Toon's son) Wisconsin doesn't have any established receiving threats.

4. Michigan - The biggest question around the Wolverines right now is at QB position. RichRod has held an open competition at the starting QB spot and Denard Robinson has apparently stepped up the game to that competition will continue into the summer and possibly into the Fall.

5. Michigan State - Arguably the best offense in the league, the Spartans return all the key parts. The question is the defense - specifically the porous secondary. MSU is switching to a 3-4 but I don't think that answers the question if the secondary can cover anybody.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

NBA Playoffs 2010: What we've learned thus far

It's been an interesting run thus far in the NBA Playoffs... let's recap what we've learned:

1) Manu Ginobili looks good wearing a gigantic bandage on his face
Not many people could look good wearing a bizarre bandage on their face. But Manu Ginobili could be starting a fashion trend across the entire globe with this beautiful bandage. It's too bad this isn't European soccer... advertising space on that bandage would fetch quite a lot of euros.

2) The Denver Nuggets are sad / Having your head coach present is important
Yes, the Denver Nuggets coach George Karl is battling cancer. It's treatable, but he missed the playoffs... and the Denver Nuggets laid an egg basically. They lost to Utah in 6 despite having home court and despite Utah not having their starting center or their key forward, Kirilenko. Eesh. But at least it proves that George Karl is important to the team's success!

3) That Mo Williams had never dunked before
Apparently, 6'1" Mo Williams had never dunked in an NBA game before! I find this to be quite amazing... even after having watched Mo play in many games the last two years. The fact that he ended up dunking during Game 1 vs. the Celtics... and against/over/near Pierce, made it even more incredible! Here's a link if you want to watch it... and Mike Brown's hysterical reaction.

4) That Assembling a 2005 All-Star Team in 2010 is Not a Good Idea
Well... that may be taking it a little far, but acquiring Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Caron Butler, and Brendan Haywood to go along with Dirk and Jason Terry seemed like a great idea, but it was just not a good matchup for the Mavs against the Spurs in the 1st round. The main difference was that last year in the 1st round, Ginobili and Duncan were hampered with injuries and PG Tony Parker had to do everything. Mavs' backup JJ Barea was quick enough to handle this assignment last year. This year? Ginobili and Duncan were healthy... and the Spurs threw out George Hill for additional quickness. The result? JJ Barea was not enough and was pitiful offensively... and none of the other guards (Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois) were good enough defensively. I really thought Caron Butler and Haywood were amazing additions... but they weren't able to be really utilized in this series where the Spurs relied on the speed of Parker, Hill, and Ginobili to advance.

5) That Getting in a Physical Altercation with Your Superior Will Result in Your Dismissal
Not exactly related to the playoffs, but Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro was apparently involved in a physical altercation with his superior, the Bulls GM. Vinny was fired this past week after just one season. This is why I always refrain from challenging my boss during the Feats of Strength at Festivus each year.

Yet another reason to hate Rick Reilly

I read about one quarter of this article and decided not only was it too dumb to finish reading, but its stupidity needed to be shared.

Rick Reilly writes people should understand and not judge athletes who have had rough upbringings. Essentially, we should judge Dez Bryant because his mom was a prostitute.
REALLY? We needed Rick Reilly to actually put that into an article? What kind of post-modern crap is that that Rick Reilly needs to tell people that. I think that same article comes from the magazine entitled "No Shit, It's Obvious to Everyone" Weekly.

Someone at ESPN needs to organize an intervention where all the employees continually insult and punch Rick Reilly until he admits he's a no-talent ass-clown and would be better off jumping off a bridge.

This article is even more ridiculous because of the simple fact that an overwhelming majority of NFL and NBA players come from rough upbringings. So, if this is the first time you've realized that all NFL players didn't grow up in gold-plated diapers, you are a moron.

Enough said.
*Note: 82% of the rage is fueled by the fact that the Cavs played like garbage last night, 16% comes from the welling up of anger towards Rick Reilly, and the remaining 2% comes from environmental factors -- specifcally that I haven't seen the sun in Cleveland for 6 months and it scares me

Sunday, May 02, 2010

NBA Playoffs: Second Round Predictions

Well it's the second round of the NBA Playoffs (better known as conference semi-finals) So it's time for random predictions that are at best guesses. Remember the winner of the contest receives a free hot dog (and choice of fixings) as well as a medium sized smoothie (up to 3 fruits)

MJ, whose cocky walk and jaunty hat, has inflamed the blue bloods is 7-1 (2 exactly right)

Gutsy, whose off Broadway musical - The Return of Durantula - has received rave reviews, is 6-2 (1 exactly right)

While Mighty, who is trying to perfect a Cockney accent, is 8-0 (4 exactly right)

As such here are my predictions for Round 2

Cleveland v. Boston

I'm already on record - Cavs in 6. Boston will have a few games where Ray Allen and/or Paul Pierce go off. However short of Lebron being too injured to be effective, Boston can't stop him. Lebron has too many weapons if he gets that first step and Boston can't stop that first step.
Cavs in 6

Maybe Ragnarok can stop Lebron
Orlando v. Atlanta
While the focus might be (rightly) on the Hawks inability to stop Dwight Howard the hero of last series for Orlando should probably be the key. Jameer Nelson was the best player for the Magic against Charlotte (averaged 24 points, nearly 4:1 Assist to TO ratio). I'm not sure how Mike Bibby will stop Nelson .

Magic in 5

LA Lakers v. Utah
This might be hardest series to get a hold of as injuries to key players could play a key role. Bynum may or may not play. Kirilinko may or may not play. Most importantly Deron Williams is injured (elbow) and who's to say how his play might be affected (he averaged over 10 assists a game last series). That said Utah simply doesn't have the size to ultimately win out.

Lakers in 6

Jazz Hands - Not Enough

San Antonio v. Phoenix
This is actually the one series I might consider the underdog (Phoenix). They have home court advantage, Duncan is looking older and older, and the outside big man shooting of Phoenix should cause trouble for the lumbering Spurs. But then I remember this is Phoenix - who can't rebound or play defense. Spurs will end Phoenix's season for the 5th time in 9 years.
Spurs in 6

Sexy underbutt searching for way for Suns to win. Not sure why.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Keys to the Cavs v. Celtics Series

Well a rematch from 2 years ago, phase 2 of the Cavs 4 step program to winning a ring for the king. Last time the Cavs and Celtics went 7 with the Celtics winning at home to finish the Cavs. What are the factors that will determine this series winner?

Lebron's Health
Lebron has simply been unstoppable the last 2 years in the playoffs. Against the Bulls he shot over 50% from 3 point range. You will not stop Lebron if he's that on from the outside. The question that has all Clevelanders standing on various highway bridges is if Lebron is and can stay healthy.

Ray Allen From 3
Ray Allen is probably the most important Celtic. He needs to continue his hot shooting (52% from 3 against Miami) . When Rondo penetrates it is up to Allen to make the Cavs pay if they collapse their D. Which in turn causes the Cavs in a Catch-22 allow Rondo free rein in the paint or allow Allen to make them pay from the outside. If Allen is off ....the Celtics offense will be grind down.

Rondo & Turnovers
Boston causes more turnovers than just about any other team and turns the ball over more than most teams. This later point is particularly important because the Celtics transition defense is porous. Keep on the turnover margins especially in regards to what Rondo is doing.

Varajao and Offense Rebounds
Varajao (and to a lesser extent JJ Hickson) were generally outplayed and out hustled on the offensive boards by Chicago. During the regular season this wasn't the case against Boston as Varajao's athletic ability and energy simply could not be contained by the slower Boston front court. Second chance opportunities and defensive rebounding leading to transition will start with Varajao.

Jamison v. KG
The final 4 factor that I haven't touched on are free throws. Getting to the line creates easy points and forces the other team to use their bench (i.e. less effective players). Jamison hitting shots from the outside will keep KG from crowding the lane which will open gaping holes for Lebron, Mo, Andy, and well anybody to cut through and get layups or trips to the free throw line.

Final Prediction
The Cavs are better than they were 2 years ago and the Celtics worse. Cavs in 6.