It has been a long-time coming, but the NBA playoffs have been more exciting than the NHL playoffs this year.
For a team that had aspirations of winning the NBA championship, the Chicago Bulls season ended with a thud. To lose three straight games to Cleveland including the final one on your home court by 23 will make it a long offseason. Tom Thibodeau no longer seems like a good fit, although he will easily find a job. Derrick Rose looks like he is finally healthy as he had an excellent series, but can you truly depend on him moving forward with his injury history? I wonder what would have happened this season with Chicago if Carmelo Anthony had gone there instead of resigning with the hapless NY Knicks.
Talk about turning back the clock. Paul Pierce was already a lock for the Hall of Fame, but if there were any doubts, he was awesome against the Hawks. He hit a game-winner in Game 3 and was 1/10 of a second away from hitting an amazing game-tying shot in Game 6 before the Wizards finally bowed to Atlanta. There has been talk of him returning to the Celtics next year since he will almost definitely not exercise his player option, but I believe he stays with the Wizards and if not, would opt for a contender knowing that next season would be his last.
The Cavs should easily dispatch the Hawks in five.
The Houston-Clippers series was tremendous, but the Clippers looked completely unprepared in Game 7 and for all the experience Doc Rivers has, his teams are not only 0-4 in road Game 7’s, but he is the only coach in NBA history to blow two 3-1 series leads. And how about the Clippers never even making it to the Western Conference Finals in their 37-year franchise history. The expansion franchise Hornets, Pelicans and Raptors are the only other NBA teams to have that distinction.
I’d say Golden State beats Houston in seven games. The Rockets have the talent to win, but Steve Kerr will outcoach Kevin McHale when it matters most which pains me to say.
Congrats to Isiah Thomas (the annoying one that used to play for the Pistons), for his new job as President of the WNBA’s New York Liberty. Now there will be an unlimited amount of women he can sexually harass. I hope the Liberty are saving because he cost the Knicks 11.6 million that was paid out to his victim.
I ask again on behalf of Joe Namath, for players to stop guaranteeing victories. I wish there was a win-loss statistic for players who have guaranteed victory since Namath successfully did it in Superbowl III.
Alex Ovechkin guaranteed a Game 7 victory in New York and despite scoring a goal, his Washington Capitals once again failed to advance past the semifinals and haven’t in 18 seasons.
Remember all of Rex Ryan’s guarantees of the Jets going to the Superbowl? How about Cavs owner Dan Gilbert guaranteeing the Cavs would win a title before LeBron won one in Miami. In 2007, during the Pats undefeated run, Steelers defensive back Anthony Smith guaranteed the Steelers would end the streak but Pittsburgh went on to lose 34-13. I guarantee the next time a player guarantees victory, no one will care.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have a chance to beat all Original 6 teams en route to winning the Stanley Cup. They beat the Red Wings in the first round, the Canadiens in the second round, are playing the New York Rangers in the third round and would play the Chicago Blackhawks in the Cup if the Hawks get by Anaheim.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is duplicating the business model he learned in Detroit. The Red Wings built their dynasty in the 90’s through hording Russian players and then followed it up by dominating the Swedish market. Yzerman has four dynamic young Russian players on Tampa Bay and has an overall winning foundation for years to come.
Since Montreal lost to Tampa Bay, the winningest team in NHL history has now gone 22 seasons without a Stanley Cup with only two appearances in the Conference Finals in that span.
I wonder how the Boston Bruins GM search is going?
One last hockey note, congrats to Canada on squeaking past the competition at the World Championship by going 10-0 and outscoring the opposition 66-15. By the way, Ovechkin guaranteed a loss for Russia in the gold medal game and he came through.
Okay so we are at the quarter pole in the MLB season.
What in the name of Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio is going on with the Houston Astros. They have the best record in the American League and are one game out of the best overall record in baseball. They are 25-14 overall and a staggering 12-4 on the road. To say this kind of leap was unexpected would be an understatement. In the Astros previous six seasons, they have compiled a 382-590 record and have finished a combined 184 games out of first place.
The Kansas City Royals not only don’t look hungover from last year’s surprising World Series run, but they are out to prove to everybody they are not a fluke. Fox can already taste that Royals-Astros ALCS.
As for the Red Sox, you have to go out of your way to have your #2-#6 hitters all hitting under .200 with runners in scoring position. My big question about the Red Sox these days is the lack of organizational development. From the mishandling of Will Middlebrooks (not referring to Jenny Dell here), to the shifting of positions of Xander Bogaerts last season, to the indecision of having too many outfielders and forcing a 72 million dollar player Rusney Castillo to waste away in the minors, this organization lacks clear direction. I am all for compiling assets, but once you compile them, you need to have a plan to effectively utilize them and that plan is missing. The AL East is an embarrassment and is among the worst divisions in baseball. But Sox management seems to be content with hanging around in an inferior division. I guess it beats finishing in last place again.
Jacoby Ellsbury exited the Yankees game tonight with a knee injury. He was on pace for four homers and twenty four RBI’s this season. Can they shorten the porch at Yankee Stadium even more?
The Cubs would make the playoffs as a wildcard if they started today. 106 seasons could be a distant memory.