The Everyday Man's Sports Blog

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Archive for the month “April, 2011”

2011 NBA Western Conference Playoff Preview- Second Round

The West has been wild already in the first round. An eight seed knocked off a one seed for the second time in a seven game series. Other than that, the prohibited favorites handled their business and moved on to the next stage of their championship chase. Without further adieu, here are my predictions for these two second round playoff battles.

Grizzlies vs Thunder
The Thunder and the Grizzlies come into this series after they both pretty much handled the Nuggets and Spurs respectively. The Grizzlies are led by their PG, Mike Conley and their stud in the paint, PF Zach Randolph. The Grizzlies must out-physical the Thunder in the paint, which could be a huge task because of the presence of C Kendrick Perkins. The Grizzlies are not a big jump-shooting team, so the Thunder must discourage them from coming in the paint. If they do that, this could be a tough series for the Grizz. For the Thunder, the biggest key is PG Russell Westbrook. He must find balance on the offensive end and get everyone involved. If he starts making this game a one-on-one matchup between he and Conley, then star SF Kevin Durant doesn’t get his touches and the Grizz keep the game close. I expect SG Tony Allen to get some looks at guarding Durant. If Allen is successful, then the Grizz can hang around. This series will come down to who can make the outside shot consistently and that’s the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Prediction: Oklahoma City wins series 4-2

Dallas vs Los Angeles
The Mavs come off an exciting series against the Blazers and now head into the next round to take on the LA Lakers. Dallas has played more physical than in past years and that’s all due to the presence of C Tyson Chandler. He will be very important in this series as the Lakers have the twin towers of PF Pau Gasol and C Andrew Bynum. Chandler must give these guys something to think about on the defensive end as well as be effective on the offensive boards. If not, Dirk will be by himself against the two seven-footers. Dirk not only has to show up on the offensive end, but on the defensive boards as well. After all, he is a 7 footer too. Another key for the Mavs will be Jason Terry. He has to show up and help match the scoring of Kobe and the Lakers. For the Lakers, they must simply impose their will on the Mavs. The Mavs have been known to back down when things get tough, so the Lakers must test that theory. The big key will be Bynum. If he is aggressive offensively, the Mavs will not be able to stop them. Bynum coupled with Gasol and Kobe will eventually overpower the Mavs.
Prediction: Los Angeles wins series 4-2

These are my predictions for the Western Conference second round. Enjoy the games folks!

2011 Eastern Conference Preview- 2nd Round

The first round of the playoffs gave us all excitement and had us all sitting on the edge of out collective seats. and if you thought the first round was great, just hold on tight for the ride that will be the second round of the playoffs. Here’s my preview of the second round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs.

Bulls vs Hawks
The Hawks were beaten up on by the Bulls all season. The only time they beat the Bulls was in Atlanta in what had to be one of the worst games the Bulls played all year. For the Hawks to play with the Bulls, they must have special performances out of SG Joe Johnson,PF Al Horford and supersub Jamal Crawford. If these three guys play well and if PG Kirk Heinrich can give them something defensively against PG Derrick Rose, even though he’s nursing a hamstring strain, then the Hawks will keep up with the Bulls. Getting Horford, Crawford and Johnson going will be tough because the Bulls boast the best defense in the NBA. The Bulls will own the boards with C Joahkim Noah and PF Carlos Boozer. The Bulls should pound the Hawks in the paint and get out more in transition. I look for these games to be uptempo and if they are, Rose will be at his best.
Prediction: Bulls win series 4-2

Celtics vs Heat
The series that most have been waiting on for a while. The keys are pretty simple for this series. For the Celtics, they must rebound. Even though C Shaquille O’Neal may be back for this series, I don’t think he will be that much of a factor because we still don’t know how healthy he is. If he is at least halfway effective, he will definitely have to help keep Heat C Zydrunas Illgauskas off the boards. Illgauskas has been pretty effective putting back the misses by SG Dwayne Wade and SF LeBron James. Also, the Celtics must turn this series into physical, grind-it-out battle. This will limit the Heat in transition and allow the Celtics to run their sets to get SF Paul Pierce and SG Ray Allen going. For the Heat, the key to their team is Chris Bosh. Bosh must not become exclusively a jump-shooter. If he does, the Heat will live by the jumper for a little while, but die by it later. He’s their best inside presence and he has to mix it up inside to provide some sort of balance for what Wade and LeBron may provide on the perimeter. If Bosh plays physical and the Heat get out in transition, they have a great shot to win this series. But I think the Heat still have that mental block in their mind and its name is Boston.
Prediction: Boston wins series 4-3

These are my predictions for the Eastern Conference second round. Enjoy the games folks!

My Thoughts On The Aftermath Of The 1st Round Of The NFL Draft

The 1st round is completed in the NFL Draft. Some teams got exactly what they needed and were cheered. Some teams left us all scratching our heads wondering what they were thinking when they were picking. Here’s my hits and misses of the 1st round of the NFL Draft.

The Cardinals had terrible QB play all year last year. A lot of people were very certain they would take one of the QBs available in this year’s draft. Well, they shocked a lot of people and took former LSU CB Patrick Peterson to try and solidify their secondary. With this pick, I hope the Cards have another move up their sleeve to get a QB because Kurt Warner isn’t walking through that door and Derek Andersen proved he couldn’t do the job. It should be interesting to see what the Cards do with their QB position. Maybe they’ll get one in this next round to try and groom for the future.

Just like the Cards, the 49ers needed a QB as well. Instead of them picking a QB, they go and pick yet another DE/LB for their 3-4 scheme. Former Missouri Tiger Aldon Smith is the newest member of the 49ers. I’m not saying Smith couldn’t turn out to be a great player, but who’s gonna play QB? I hope they’re gonna draft one in the 2nd round or pull a trade because if Alex Smith is the option there and they bring him back, they just aren’t going to win the NFC West.

The Titans were another team that needed a QB. They were the one of the teams that made a good decision taking a QB because the absolutely needed one. But I just can’t get it in my mind to like former Washington QB Jake Locker. He’s been injury-prone all his career, hasn’t really had much success at all as a collegiate QB and to me, he just doesn’t give me the feeling of a guy who can carry or lead your team. I would have taken Gabbert if I were the Titans, but who knows, he could be great. But for right now, he has to win me over.

The Detroit Lions selected former Auburn DT Nick Fairley and instantly, their defense got better. I would dare teams to try and run on Suh and Fairley. With these two play-making tackles, I think the Lions are on their way back up. Also, one can free the other up for pass rush opportunities as well. I look for Fairley to be one of the leaders in the clubhouse for Defensive Rookie Of The Year

The New Orleans Saints were lacking in their running game. They needed a back that could block, run between the tackles or around the edges and catch the ball out of the backfield. When the Saints elected to move back into the 1st round to take former Alabama RB Mark Ingram, they got exactly what they needed. Sure the Saints have Pierre Thomas coming back and they may have Reggie Bush too, but now they have a guy who has some play-making ability and also has the power to run between the tackles.

These are some of my observations of the 1st round of the NFL Draft. If you have any comments or more things that you liked and disliked about the NFL Draft, feel free to drop a comment.

A Few Thoughts On The 2011 NFL Draft

The 2011 NFL Draft has almost been overshadowed by the labor dispute that has gone on all off-season in the NFL. But, like every year, the draft is still gonna happen. I’ve heard a lot of varying opinions on the draft, but some are obviously missing some things.

A lot of people are seeing former Auburn QB Cam Newton going 1st to the Panthers, while some see him sliding down the board. To those who see him sliding down the board, they criticize everything about the young man from his experience playing at a big-time level to his attitude to his aptitude for the QB position. I agree that he may have some flaws to his game, but the one thing you cannot teach is heart and mental toughness. Anytime a young man can keep his focus through all the things that Cam Newton was hearing and subjected to, then that person is extremely mentally tough. I don’t think half the QBs in the league right now would have been able to survive that situation without cracking and breaking down. Newton’s mental toughness and heart will serve him well in the NFL to whoever drafts him and I think he will be a good NFL QB, given that he is put in the right situation and puts in the time studying the playbook and looking at film.

Another big thing that I’ve heard is the lack of depth in this draft. I agree that there’s a lack of depth in this draft, but what isn’t being said is that the draft is an inexact science. There are no proven commodities in any draft. Any player could be a bust. You could technically say that there have been a lot of bad drafts because of the lack of depth. But to me, I think there have been way worse drafts than this one. My prime example is the draft with Vince Young, Jay Cutler, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinhart. That draft was supposed to be so great and three out of the four I just named haven’t reached the level of success most envisioned for them. Just because there isn’t a ton of big names doesn’t mean this is a bad crop of players.

Some players will fulfill their dream of being an NFL player tonight while some may have to wait until the weekend. But for all those players who get drafted, congratulations. You’re living out the dream of many kids who grow up playing football. And for those who are going to be rookie free agents, hopefully the labor situation gets worked out soon so you all can chase your dreams as well.

The Everyday Mailbag-4/26/11

A lot of exciting things went on this weekend in sports. And with all these exciting games, come even better questions. Without further adieu, here is this week’s mailbag! Let’s see what America and Canada want to know!

Q: Who in your opinion are the five best jump shooters in NBA history?
-James R., Nashville, TN

A: Here’s my Top 5, in no particular order:

1. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics
2. John Paxson, Chicago Bulls
3. Reggie Miller, Indiana Pacers
4. Craig Ehlo, Cleveland Cavaliers
5. Craig Hodges, Chicago Bulls

Q: Who is coming out of the West in the NBA playoffs?
-Jeremy W., Winnepeg, Canada

A: I see the Lakers coming out of the West even though they are having a tough time with New Orleans. Oklahoma City could be trouble though.

Q: I like what I see from the Hawks. Do you think they can finish the Magic.
-Lee L., Chicago, IL

A: I definitely think the Hawks can finish the Magic. I thought that even before the series because the Magic have no consistent 2nd scorer and are pretty porous on defense besides Dwight Howard. And that plays right into the Hawks hands, who have Jamal Crawford and company that can take advantage of the Magic.

Q: Do you think this recent decision in the NFL lockout improved the situation, or made things worse?
-Kareem H., Nashville, TN

A: I think the recent decision for a temporary injunction is exactly what it is, temporary. I don’t think it made the situation worse or better.

Thanks to all the participants in this week’s mailbag! If you have any questions feel free to send your questions to dangerous_316@yahoo.com. And remember, if you have sports questions, I have answers.

The Spurs Versus The Grizzlies: An Unexpected Mismatch

The Spurs and the Grizzlies have been going at it for about a week now. When I first saw this matchup, I thought this series was a mismatch. I was right, but the mismatch was the Spurs trying to matchup with the Grizzlies. But maybe Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins knew what he was doing when word began to surface that they wanted to play the Spurs in the first round.

The Spurs have been thoroughly outrebounded this series so far. Simply put, the Grizzles have shown more effort and desperation than San Antonio all series long. A prime example of the effort on the boards was when when Grizzlies G OJ Mayo shot a three and missed in Game 4. PF Marc Gasol was clearly boxed out by Spurs PF Time Duncan. But instead of just excepting the box out, Gasol kept working and just ripped the ball away from Duncan and finished the play with a layup.

SG Tony Allen has also been a huge key this series. He has made plays offensively, but he has also been a defensive specialist on SG Manu Ginobli all series. Allen was the big piece that Memphis added this year, though at the time, no one knew what he brought to the team. With Lionel Hollins’ new focus on defense and effort, Allen was counted on to be the leader and tone-setter he has been excellent all year at doing that.

The Grizzlies are also taking advantage of the lack of post length of the Spurs. Besides, Tim Duncan, they have no true post players. In fact, PF Tiago Splitter and PF DeJuan Blair are small and aren’t ready yet and PF Matt Bonner may as well be a big guard because he’s always camped out behind the three-point arc and never does damage inside with his 6’10” frame.

Memphis heads back to San Antonio for Game 5. Even if Memphis doesn’t win Game 5, I still believe they will defeat the Spurs. And if it’s done, Memphis would be rocking and everyone would have memories of the last time the 8 seed beat the 1 seed. That team was the Baron Davis-led Golden State Warriors and they defeated the Dallas Mavericks.

The New York Knicks: Not The Ending Some Expected

The New York Knicks versus the Boston Celtics was pegged by some to be a great series. The incredible Knick duo of PF Amar’e Stoudamire and SF Carmelo Anthony against PF Kevin Garnett, SF Paul Pierce and the veteran Boston Celtics. Well, I guess all the hype didn’t meet the play. The Knicks were swept by the Celtics and the off-season has begun for the Knicks.

For the Knicks, this is a disappointing ending. The offensive wizardry of Melo and Amar’e has been outstanding at times. Well, against the veteran Celtics, it seemed like they both couldn’t get going at the same time. Melo got his points in three of the four games, but in the crucial third game, the Celtics were stuck to him like velcro, giving Melo fits. Amar’e just never seemed to be the same after the first game of the series. Some of that may have been the back injury, but the play of the Celtics defense surrounded him when he had even a sliver of an opening. This final three games had to be one of the toughest stretches that Amar’e has been through in his career.

When the Knicks went through their offensive ruts every game, it seemed like the Knicks couldn’t find any consistency defensively. I’m not saying that they’re a great defensive team, but when they needed stops, they could not come up with them. A prime example of that is Game 4. The Knicks fought their way back into the game, trimming the Celtic lead from twenty points to four. All the Knicks needed was a few stops to give them an opportunity to inch even closer. Instead, the Knicks give up three straight baskets to the Celtics while they get shut down three straight possessions. That was the ballgame right there.

In the end, the veteran poise and clutch play of the Celtics overwhelmed the Knicks. Hopefully this series was a learning experience for the Knicks. They have plenty of cap space for next year with the expiring contracts and team options for some of their players. First thing they have to do is bring back PG Chauncey Billups. He was sorely missed after he injured himself early in this series. Next, the Knicks must acquire players that best complement their two superstars. And the biggest thing that must happen is the two superstars must take ownership of the team together. That means holding everyone, including themselves, accountable for their play at the defensive and offensive ends of the court. This team will only go as far as Melo and Amar’e lead it ultimately. So this off-season, they need to let this loss simmer and come back next year focused and ready to lead the Knicks back to where they both want to be: a championship level basketball team.

Is There Cause For Concern In Chicago?

The Bulls steam-rolled into the playoffs, winning all their games down the final stretch of the regular season and capturing the top overall seed in the NBA. I have been thinking for a while that the Bulls will go to the NBA Final this year. And while I’ve been thinking that, many people have their doubts as well. If the doubters have been watching their 1st round games against the Pacers, many would doubt that the Bulls are championship worthy.

The Pacers have fought tooth and nail with the Bulls in all three games so far. The thing that the Pacers have done well against the Bulls is use their length to bother them. The Bulls have been known all season as a tough defensive team that doesn’t give up many offensive boards and patrols the paint. Well, up until tonight in this series, the Pacers have owned the Bulls in the paint. They have used guys like 6’10” Josh McRoberts, 6’9″ Tyler Hansbrough, 7’2″ Roy Hibbert and 6’11” Jeff Foster to wreak havoc on the offensive boards and produce points in the paint.

Another area that has to be alarming is the shooting. Besides Kyle Korver, the Bulls haven’t shot very good from three-point range. In order for the Bulls to be able to make it to the NBA Finals, they have to shoot better. Guys like Luol Deng, who finally got on track last night, and Keith Bogans must be more consistent stretching the defense. If they don’t, then you could see more teams sag off Derrick Rose and play him for the jump shot. And that would make the Bulls offense taper off a bit.

By far the biggest issue is at times, the Bulls have lacked energy. Throughout the 1st two games, I kept waiting and waiting for the Bulls to have that burst of energy. Well, it never happened and the Bulls have had to struggle to the victory line. The Bulls must pick their energy level up because as the playoffs go on, the energy and intensity go to another level.

I see the Bulls as championship contenders, but if they continue to play lifeless at times, I wonder are they ready to take that leap. They will undoubtedly handle the Pacers, but its yet to be determined if they will show their true form in the playoffs or continue to stumble over themselves and not do the things that got them to where they are now.

The Everyday Mailbag- 4/19/2011

Another week, another exciting edition of the Everyday Mailbag! Let’s see what America wants to know!

Q: What’s up with JaMarcus Russell?
-James R., Nashville, TN

A: I don’t know what’s up with him. Maybe its a case of too much too soon. I wish he would get it together. He needs a mentor right now because he has no structure from the looks of it. And the news doesn’t seem to get any better by the day.

Q: What do you make of Tiger’s performance in the Masters? As a golf enthusiast, the swing is looking good. Once the confidence comes back with the putter, could be 2000 all over again.
-Justin U., Jacksonville, FL

A: I think Tiger had a great performance and he is showing signs of getting back to being his old self. But, like always, the putting part of his game is the place where he needs to do some work. I think he could win a tournament by the end of the year.

Q: What’s next after the verdict given on the Bonds trial? Does he serve any jail time?
-Dallah S., Manhattan, NY

A: Bonds was charged with 3 counts of obstructing justice and faces a maximum of 5 years in prison, but from what I’m hearing, Bonds is highly unlikely to serve any jail time on the charges.

Q: Do you watch hockey? If so, who you got in the Stanly Cup this year?
-Kareem H., Nashville,TN

A: I really don’t watch hockey that much and I’m still trying to understand the game, but from what I’ve heard, the Capitals and Rangers winner could end up being the champion. I’ll take the Rangers to win the championship no matter who they play out of the West.

Q: What’s next on the NFL lockout?
-Dallah S., Manhattan, NY

A: Well, the two sides are about to meet again. I don’t know both sides are any closer on reaching an agreement, but from what I’ve heard, they are trying to scale back the money the pay the rookies get when they first come into the league. Other than that, the same issues are still being argued.

Q: They are saying JaMarcus Russell is the biggest NFL bust in history, what do you think ? Is he worst than Ryan Leaf ??
-James R., Nashville, TN

A: I think Leaf and former number 1 pick Courtney Brown are up there with him. I would say Brown is by far the worst number one pick.

Q: I’m wondering how far you think the Lakers really can go, and how long it will take them to flip the switch in this year’s playoffs, if they even do.
-Robert B., Los Angeles, CA

A: I think the Lakers are still going to win the title this year. The thing with them is they always have to be backed into a hard place before you see the best out of them. I expect the switch to continue to be flipped on and off all post-season long until they win the championship.

Q: Who worked with Derrick Rose to develop a decent and more consistent jump shot ?
-James R., Nashville, TN

A: Derrick actually worked out in LA. I’m not sure who he specifically worked out with, but he did work hard all summer on putting up shots to improve his jump shot.

Q: How long can the Laker defense continue to cover up the huge liability of Derek Fisher?
-Michael C., Las Vegas, NV

A: I think this may be the last year that they can cover up for it. I think they can win the championship with him this year. But next year, they have to add a quicker PG. Prime example is Chris Paul is a quick PG, but he isn’t as fast as PGs like Russell Westbrook and Fisher is struggling to keep up with him. I think the absence of Steve Blake is hurting the Lakers. Also, look to see more Shannon Brown on Chris Paul.

Thanks to all who participated! And remember, if you have any sports questions during the week, feel free to e-mail me at dangerous_316@yahoo.com.

The Philadelphia 76ers: Overmatched and Overwhelmed

The Heat won again against the 76ers. This time, the Heat thoroughly pounded the 76ers by 21 points, 94-73. I didn’t really give Philadelphia a chance, but I would have thought they would have represented themselves a little better than this. Three keys have caused this catastrophic start to the playoffs for the Sixers.

The play of veterans Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala has been pretty bad. In fact, I can remember these guys even making a play. The only people that seemed to have come to play have been PG Jrue Holiday and PF Thaddeus Young. That’s sorely disappointing because these guys have been the driving force behind their team all year and they now aren’t even showing up when their team needs them most. For the Sixers’ sake, they better hope some home cooking will wake these vets up.

The shooting has been awful. After the 1st quarter of the first game, the Sixers haven’t been able to throw it in the ocean. This could be all cured if they could get more easy shots, but they are playing against one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and easy shots aren’t available. I would say they would need to pick up the pace of the game, but that would play right into the Heat’s favor.

The most important thing that’s working against the Sixers is experience. They have a bunch of guys who have never been in the playoffs before. Intensity is taken to a whole new level when the playoffs begin. The Heat have taken there’s to the next level while the Sixers intensity is still in regular season mode. And the thing is, I don’t know if the young guys on Philly’s squad know how to take it to another level.

The Sixers have some soul searching to do in the next few days. They have the athleticism to keep up with the Heat. They have at times put together runs to make us think they may give Miami a run for their money. But in all that, they have to decide if they are going to take their game to another level or lay down for the Heat.

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