That stuff I forgot

When TAC returns, it returns with a passion! I’m back already! The reason I’m back? Because, in my last post, I said I’d cover a little NBA and NHL Playoffs. I talked NFL Draft, Ben Roethlisberger, South Park and World Cup. Oops. My bad. So, like Hot Tub Machine, “Let’s Get It Started”.

-We’ll start on the hockey rink. I’m not going to act like I’m a huge hockey fan. I don’t pay much attention to it for the vast majority of the regular season. I love watching Barry Melrose break it down on ESPN and I can’t get enough of the highlights, but I don’t watch games regularly (mostly because we don’t get ‘Versus’ here at Troop 104). Regardless, I absolutely love playoff hockey. When the Stanley Cup Playoffs roll around, I can definitely sit down and watch a game. Playoff hockey is so much more than just hockey. It’s history.

I’ve enjoyed watching the playoffs thus far. Just a few things you’ll never see in any other playoffs in any sport that we’ve seen in this first round:
-Every single road team winning on the playoffs’ first night…except for the orphaned Phoenix Coyotes. The team that no one wanted to own held home ice against “Hockey Town’s” Detroit Red Wings. Pretty cool.
-Both 8-seeds knocking off the top seeds in their first games.
-A hockey atmosphere that is even better than Boston Celtics basketball when it was at the top of its game. From Bill Simmons’ twitter:

“My Dad went to every great Celts game since 1974 but says last night’s B’s crowd rivaled any crowd he’s ever been a part of. Playoff hockey!”

-Some amazing plays. I had this conversation with a friend last night. If you tune in to SportsCenter and watch the Top 10 Plays on any given night, you’ll usually see 80% basketball, football and baseball (or a combination of the three) and maybe, just maybe, 20% hockey. But, with all due respect to the amazing talent in the NBA, MLB and NFL, watching what some of these hockey players do – while on skates, with a stick, on ice – is absolutely astounding. Most people I know aren’t even coordinated enough to ice skate, much less skate while worrying about controlling a puck with a stick. In my mind, hockey’s a lot like soccer. When it’s played at a high level, it’s amazing. The stuff the guys do is so underappreciated. It’s about time we appreciate it. Watch the playoffs (and regular season, if you’d like). Chances are it’s tougher to do what hockey players do – on ice, on skates, stick controlling a puck, huge guys trying to knock you out – than anything anyone other athletes do.
-No sweeps. Like I said, I don’t follow hockey too closely, but I rarely hear about a sweep in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The closest thing this season? A 4-1 series victory for the Philadelphia Flyers – a team that needed a shootout victory on the last day of the regular season just to make the playoffs in the first place. Every single series is extremely competitive and exciting. Four of the eight series are at 3-2 right now. Pittsburgh/Ottawa, Vancouver/LA and San Jose/Colorado ended at 4-2. The eighth is the Philly/New Jersey series I mentioned before.
-A 3OT game between the Senators and Penguins. The Sens are fighting for their post-season lives against the defending Stanley Cup champs and they fight through, on the road, to keep their season afloat. That’s pretty exciting. After that, they go to a fourth OT in two games and the Pens win it. It’s tough to get better than that.
-Like I said, I’m not a huge hockey fan. I can’t exactly analyze what’s happening. What I can do is enjoy something that deserves to be enjoyed. I recommend you do the same.
-But what’s the deal with Matthew Barnaby? You don’t have to have a goatee to be an NHL analyst on ESPN. Barry Melrose can pull it off…you’ve gotta shave.

-I love this commercial. “How ’bout lavender?” “How ’bout not.”

-Now for the NBA Playoffs. Two of the best months of the year. And I will break up my analysis with some of my favorite NBA commercials. The new ones they’ve been airing have done what I never thought could be done: been better than those split screen ones from a year or two back.
“Stepping Up”

-The two top seeds have been anything but impressive thus far. The Cavs looked to role in Game 1 but needed a superhuman effort from LeBron to outlast DRose, Joakim Noah and the Bulls in Game 2. Kobe and the Lakers looked good in Game 1, then struggled to take care of business in their second game. All four of those were home games for the top seeds of both conferences.
-The OKC/LA series isn’t really reminiscent of the Golden City/Dallas one a few years back. The Warriors, as an8-seed, won their first round series over the top-seeded Mavs. The Thunder have way more defense than the Warriors did, but the Lakers are way better than that Mavericks team was. After watching OKC spank Kobe and Co. to even the series last night, I wonder if a young team’s confidence can carry them to an upset. I said from the beginning it would take LA seven games to close out the Durantula, but I didn’t think Oklahoma City had enough experience to knock of the Lakers. Some would compare them to that Golden State team. I prefer to compare them to the Hawks squad that pushed Boston to seven games in 2008.
-Dwyane Wade is crazy good. His 46-point explosion yesterday showed that. I predicted Wade would carry the Heat to a first round win in six games. Clearly, I was way off. But don’t be surprised if D-Wade manages to put his team on his back and push the C’s to seven games. He’s good enough to do it.
-Cleveland’s big men were absolutely non-existent in their Game 3 loss to Chicago. Nine points between Shaq, Big Z and Varejao won’t cut it as they move on in the playoffs. If they don’t produce in this series, I think it only means Cleveland gets less rest between the first and second rounds. If they don’t perform in the later rounds, I still think Cleveland has a good chance to win just because they’ve got LeBron. But the reason they picked up Shaq was to get them to the next level. Six points and four boards in 20 minutes won’t cut it. Especially when you’re letting Joakim Noah grab 15 rebounds.
-The Antawn Jamison pick up is looking great for the Cavs. In the series, he’s averaging 16 ppg and 8.3 rpg. He’s easily been the closest thing LeBron has to a sidekick. Something this team struggled with in the 2009 Playoffs was the lack of an athletic big man who could play on the perimeter. Jamison is filling that need.
“Focus”

-Everyone answered the call in Game 4 for Cleveland. After an uninspired performance for 80% of their Game 3 loss, they put up almost 100 points through three quarters and absolutely dominate the Bulls on the road. This team is deeper than they’ve been in the past and it’s definitely their best shot at a title since LeBron’s been there. But they won’t be able to win an NBA title playing like they did in Games 1, 2 and 3. Play like they have in Game 4? That’s when they’re scary. Especially when LeBron plays like he did today. His fifth career triple-double with 37/12/11…in only 36 minutes. The man is amazing. And his team is playing hard all the way to the final buzzer. JJ Hickson just took a charge with 38 seconds left with the Cavs up 28. Which reminds me of the only thing I don’t like about having Shaq back in the line-up: Hickson’s minutes have suffered. The way he’s played all season has been outstanding. He’s one of those reasons they have such a good chance to win it all.
-After the final buzzer in Game 4, all of the Bulls just walk off the floor. A few of them shook hands with a couple guys on the floor, but most of them just walked to the locker room. Remember when LeBron did that after the Eastern Conference finals last year? Everyone was talking about how immature he was and how he needs to go through the handshake line and congratulate the team that just whupped him. When someone other than LeBron does it, it’s no big deal. I think that’s crap. I don’t think they need to shake hands after the games, but the fact that people only make a big deal of it when a big name does it is irritating.
-The whole Kobe vs. LeBron, ‘Who’s the Better Closer?’ is pointless. To me, it seems like the media is trying to continue to pimp that rivalry again in hopes of seeing them face off in the Finals this season. My take on the debate? I think I’d fear LeBron “taking over” a game in the 4th quarter more than I’d fear Kobe. But if I’m up one or two with 10 seconds or less, I don’t want to see Kobe with the ball.
“Where Clutch Happens”

-The Western Conference is unbelievably competitive. Only LA went up 2-0 to start a series. And they’re tied 2-2 now with OKC. All eight playoff teams won at least 50 games this season. The 8th seeded Bulls in the East barely managed a .500 record. One of the best teams of the past decade (San Antonio) only managed to get the 7th seed in the West. That says a lot about how tough this conference is. The East took the title of toughest conference for about a season. The West has regained that title.
-Portland managed to steal a game in Phoenix without Brandon Roy. Now they’re tied 2-2 going back to AZ and Roy’s back from surgery. I’m not sure how much of a factor he can really be, but the fact that Rip City managed to get a road win without him says something. It makes me think they can get another with him, even if he is playing a limited role. Phoenix had been one of the hottest teams in the NBA toward the end of the regular season. Now I wouldn’t be surprised to see them gone after the first round.
-Utah/Denver was my one series I thought would be most exciting. So far, they’ve only had one really good game – a Utah win in Game 2 – but I expected four more chances for some classics. Then Utah dominated Denver again in Game 4, took a 3-1 lead and essentially booked their tickets to the second round.The Jazz may be without Kirilenko and Okur, but they’ve got a full-fledged superstar in Deron Williams. His 33-point performance in Game 2 was impressive. Oh…and he threw in 14 assists for good measure, too. Williams is only the fourth player to ever record 20 points and 10 assists in the first four games of a playoff series. It puts him in pretty good company. The other three: Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Kevin Johnson. Between Williams and Boozer, this team looks to have all the star power they need to make a run in the West.
-‘Melo says he needs help from his teammates if Denver wants to beat the Jazz. He also said he’s “not pointing any fingers.” Ha. Good one, Carmelo. If you’re going to say it, then stand behind it. You’re pointing fingers. You know it. Why say you’re not pointing fingers when you clearly are? Especially considering he’s right.
-I’m not crazy about Rick Reilly, but he did a great piece that needs to be done about Denver Nuggets coach George Karl’s fight with cancer. If you read one thing on here today, this should be it. Reilly also sat down to try and watch the Nuggets Game 3 loss with Coach Karl. He eventually couldn’t take the fact he couldn’t be there. I can’t imagine anything like what he’s going through.
“Where Defense Happens”

-Greg Popovich rested his starters in the season finale to basically guarantee a match-up with Dallas in the first round. I thought for sure it’d come back to bite him, but the Spurs are showing once again how valuable experience really is. The trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, while old, is effective. Dallas was playing great basketball toward the end of the season, much like Phoenix, but they’ll need to put their egos aside. I expected them to be able to take down the Spurs in six games. After last night, that’s not possible. San Antonio showed me a lot in their Game 4 win. The Big Three played like garbage, with only 31 points between them. Manu Ginobili had a plus/minus at -20. But George Hill was outstanding, dropping 29 points. If the Big Three can play as poorly as they did last night and the Spurs can still win, Dallas doesn’t have a chance.
The Playoffs. “It’s win or go home.”

Now I finish with my predictions.
FIRST ROUND
-Cleveland over Chicago in 5
-Orlando over Charlotte in 4
-Atlanta over Milwaukee in 6
-Boston over Miami in 5
-LA over OKC in 7
-SA over Dallas in 6
-Portland over Phoenix in 6
-Utah over Denver in 6
SECOND ROUND
-Cleveland over Boston in 6
-Atlanta over Orlando in 7
-LA over Utah in 7
-SA over Portland in 6
CONFERENCE FINALS
-Cleveland over Atlanta in 6
-LA over SA in 7
NBA FINALS
-Cleveland over LA in 6

-I want to cover sports for a living. I’ve never really cared about my age. But if I cover sports for a living, it will eventually make me feel old. At least according to this guy.

-Lionel Messi is a stud. But he’s no prairie dog…

-The Bengals took five players from the Big 12 with their seven draft picks. They did a good job addressing some needs. I would have liked to see them take a chance on Dez Bryant, but Gresham is a stud and they needed a TE. Dunlap might have some maturity issues, but he could add the pass rusher they need on the D-line. Shipley is a receiver with great hands who finds a way to get open. I’m not impressed by his speed or size, and I think his lack of both might hurt him at the next level, but he can still add something to a mediocre passing game. I hated watching Mizzou play against Dezmon Briscoe when he was at kU. I don’t mind having him on the Bengals, though. If he stays out of trouble, he could be a good deep threat. He may not be lightning fast (a 4.66 forty at the combine), but he can make some big plays down the field and in the red zone. Something the WhoDeys have lacked. I’m not one of the “experts,” but I give them a B. Mel Kiper (Count Chocula) gave the Bengals a C.

The resemblance is uncanny.


-Party Mardy got drafted. He was hands down my favorite Bearcat athlete of all time. No questions asked. He’s a great story, and the whole “rags to riches” tale would be made complete if he’s successful in the NFL. There’s not much help for anyone in St. Louis, so I’m sure Sam Bradford was excited to hear Gilyard was drafted. That gives the Rams Mardy, Bradford, Donnie Avery and Steven Jackson (maybe) to start rebuilding. Offensively, that’s a pretty good start. I think Bradford + Gilyard = TDs. And lots of ’em.

-I thought it was going to take Pittsburgh a while to forgive Ben Roethlisberger. But the local paper’s already making excuses for his behavior.

-I’m not a huge baseball fan. I follow it, I can talk about it, but it really bores me. Even the playoffs and the World Series aren’t exciting. But I still root for the Reds and get frustrated by their miserable performances. I would like nothing more than to see the Redlegs take the Central and be exponentially better than the Cardinals and Cubs. My time away at college has made me realize just how annoying all of the Cards and Cubs fans are. I never liked either team when I lived in Cincinnati. Now that I go to school in Missouri and I’m surrounded by Cardinals (and Cubs) fans, I cannot stand them. They’re just as annoying as any fans, anywhere. So I have two new favorite teams once or twice each week. This week, it’s the Braves, Nationals and Diamondbacks.
-The Reds are terribly frustrating. 8-11 and fighting to stay out of the cellar in the NL Central. The pitching is absolutely abysmal. A collective ERA of 6.14 for the staff. The starters have combined for a grand total of ONE win through 19 games. Their supposed “ace” has an 8.31 ERA. They’ve got two pitchers with double-digit ERAs – Massett (12.38) and Ondrusek (11.25). But even if they’re not very good, at least they’re exciting. So far this season, seven of their eight wins have come in their final at-bat.
-I get to attend my first Reds game of the season this coming Saturday at Busch Stadium. If Votto, Phillips and Bruce can silence all the Cardinals fans I’ll be surrounded by, I will be beyond excited. I’d love nothing more than to stand up in the middle of Cardinals season ticket holders and scream, “This one belongs to the Reds!”

-Apparently this “Average Homeboy” is a Reds fan, too.

That’s all I’ve got today. So I will leave you with a little something to make you chuckle.
I have a feeling that if I ever have kids, I am going to say the same thing the dad in this video says at the end. And I’m probably going to say it a lot.

Altiora.

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~ by nchaney3 on April 26, 2010.

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