Friday, 16 May 2014

It's the Conference Finals! dun na na naaaa dun naa na na naaaa

The title of this was a reference to "The Final Countdown" in case you didn't catch that. Go back and read it to the rhythm of the song, it's funny.

It is now the best time of any playoff series, the semi-finals. Am I the only one that thinks the semi-finals always seems to be better games than the championships themselves? So many times I just feel like I watch an incredible conference championship or semi-final game and get so hyped for the championship only to have it be very anti-climactic. For example Seattle and San Francisco came down to the final play in the NFC Championship and then the Superbowl will be remembered for the party, not the game. But I digress.

The NBA Conference finals features, what do you know? The two conference finals predicted before the season even started. The first one I will address is the east.

In the east we have the 1.5 time defending champion Miami Heat. I say 1.5 because we all know the Spurs should have won last year so I am only going to give the Heat credit for winning half a championship. The other half was given to them with an edible arrangement. The Heat will face off against their eastern conference foe Indiana Pacers who have looked more like the New York Knicks as of late. Winning one game convincingly and then getting blown out by 25 on their home court the next night. This is the match-up they wanted though. The team that beat them in seven last year in a series where they probably should have gone up 3-1 at one point. It is an interesting showdown because both teams really haven't looked like themselves this playoffs.

 The Hornets (who are the Bobcats?) played the Heat pretty good, better than anybody thought they would if you ask me and probably would have taken at least one game had Big Al not gotten hurt. In the next round the Heat played the Brooklyn "We don't really have a structured offense" Nets and actually trailed late in the fourth in 3 of the 5 games in the series. Brooklyn managed to hold onto the lead in one of those games, but in the other two they showed how old and awful they really were. The Heat didn't necessarily outplay the Nets, the Nets outplayed themselves. How do you not at least get a shot off when your backs are against the wall and 4 seconds away from elimination? Kick the ball at the hoop for all I care. What I am saying is the Heat have not really looked like the Heat. This year, in the first two rounds, the Heat outscored the Hornets and Nets by 66 total points. In the previous two years, over the first two rounds, the Heat outscored their opponents by a whopping 122 (2012-13) and 121 (2011-2012). That's not even close. Well those two numbers are close, but they aren't close to this years. You know what I mean.

Now let's look at the Pacers. A team that in February everybody thought was a shoe-in to not only make the eastern conference finals, but to beat the Heat and make it to the NBA Championship. Then they got too big headed though. Paul George threw down a ridiculously nasty 360 windmill dunk and the Pacers were on top of the world. Oh how quickly they fell. I like to think that dunk got them thinking "Wow, we are so good nobody can or will beat us." They scraped, clawed and fought the rest of the year to get the number one overall seed and stumbled into the playoffs. Boy did it show. The Atlanta Hawks, a team that didn't even want to make the playoffs so they could be in the lottery, took the Pacers to 7 games. Next, bring on the Washington Wizards, a young team with not a lot of playoff experience outside of Andre Miller and Drew Gooden. Let's be honest though, Miller has been in the league 65 years so he better have some experience and Gooden has played for every single team in the NBA so he definitely has some. The Wizards took game one of that series making the Pacers look like garbage. Then the Pacers looked great and the Wizards looked young. Then the Pacers looked like garbage. Then the Pacers looked decent and closed out the series.

So what are we looking at? Two teams who really can't find their old skool identities, which will only make for an incredible series. Let's look at the match-ups.

Mario Chalmers vs George Hill
Advantage: Push

These are two very similar point guards. Both aren't really the best passers on the floor, but both can shoot the lights out if need be. Hill has experience playing under Pop so you have to think he will be a little smarter than Chalmers, but Chalmers has two championships under his belt and a guy named LeBron to pass the ball to. It should be a great match-up, but won't get much love because of a bigger match-up coming up later. I'll give you 3 guesses as to what it is and the first 3 guesses don't count.

Dwayne Wade vs Lance "Born Ready" Stephenson
Advantage: Wade

A lot of people are going to disagree with me on this, but hear me out. Stephenson is going to be a star in this league. Going to be. Right now he is still young and still jumping in the air and throwing passes right into Bradley Beals chest under his own basket with under a minute left up 5. He is versatile and young and will probably run circles around Wade, but Wade is Wade. He has bad knees and isn't the same flash as back in 06, but he has the experience and smarts to outplay Stephenson in more ways than pure athleticism.

LeBron James vs Paul George
Advantage: Too easy

Has anyone even heard of these two players? Listen, I love Paul George as much as the next guy. Although, a lot of people don't really like George, so I probably love him more than the next guy. The only problem is he is going up against the best all-around player in the NBA. If George can step up and take it to the level he was playing to start the year when he was an MVP candidate than this will be an INCREDIBLE showdown between two freak athletes. If he plays as he has been, then it won't even be close and he may, MAY, play LeBron well for one or two games if he is lucky.

Dinosaur vs David West
Advantage: West

West had his best offensive game of the playoffs at a perfect time. An elimination game right before squaring off against the Heat. West will bring Bosh down low and make him wish he was still the same ol post player he used to be in Toronto. West has the versatility to play Bosh outside of the paint, which Bosh has yet to experience this playoffs, and West is smart enough to force Bosh into taking lots of outside three's. Sure Bosh will hit one or two, but he is too inconsistent for West to pressure him out there all game. He just better make sure he has him on lock towards the end of the game because if there is one thing Bosh can do, it's hit the three in the clutch oddly enough.

Any other Heat big man vs Hibbert
Advantage: Hibbert (so longs as he doesn't throw up donuts)

Hibbert has been a perfect example of what the Pacers have been this playoffs. Up-and-down quicker than Vince Wilfork and Rick Ross on a see-saw (so long as it doesn't break). In last years series vs the Heat Hibbert was a monster. I said after the series ended that Hibbert could bring back the old bruiser style down low play that has long been forgotten in the NBA. Then this year happened. Hibbert has the ability to dominate the paint vs the Heat bigs and if he does it will be the reason this series goes 7. If Hibbert does not show up though, don't expect this series to go past 5 games.

Advantage: Heat

Ray Allen. Nuff said. If you have this guys coming off your bench there is a pretty good chance you will win the game so long as the ball ends up in his hands for the final shot. Since 96-97 Ray Allen has shot 10-16 in game tying/winning three point shots, which is the best since that time. The next closest is Derek Fisher who has shot 3-5, then Big Shot Bob (or Rob whichever you prefer) at 3-6 and then it was Reggie Time at 6-13.

Prediction: The Pacers have just been far too inconsistent and that will doom them. Unfortunately, I don't see this game going 7 and think the Heat will take it in 6. If it does get to 7, look out Miami because the Fieldhouse will be absolutely rocking and the Pacers will do the knocking. Heat in 6, if it goes 7 give it to the Pace.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

2014 MLB Team Slogans

We are about one quarter of the way through the baseball season and I don't know about anyone else, but it already feels like it has been a full season. The baseball season seems to take longer than a toddler trying to read Game of Thrones. So to create some excitement and to amuse myself I have decided to come up with new slogans for each MLB teams to try and get fans to actually be interested this early in the season. Without further to do, here we go:

Baltimore Orioles: We still have one of the prettiest parks in baseball and hey, we are in first place!....for now.

Boston Red Sox: Free hot dogs for life for anyone that can free-climb the Green Monster!

New York Yankees: Your favorite fare-well tour team! Come see Derek Jeter sacrifice bunt one more time!

Toronto Blue Jays: As the best .500 team is baseball we can guarantee there is a 50 percent chance we will win!

Tampa Bay Rays: Our stadium is so empty you can probably sit anywhere!

Detroit Tigers: As long as Verlander is on the roster Kate Upton might be at our home games!

Kansas City Royals: We are in second place! Don't believe it? Come see for yourself!

Chicago White Sox: Would you rather go watch the cubs?

Cleveland Indians: Johnny Football will probably throw out all of our opening pitches since he can't throw a football!

Minnesota Twins: If you can name 5 players on the roster you can win a car!

Oakland Athletics: Now playing Moneyball on the big screen at all games!

Seattle Mariners: We didn't spend more money than you will make in your life on Robinson Cano for nothing!

Los Angeles Angles: Don't forget we actually play in Anaheim.

Texas Rangers: Come race Prince Fielder around the bases! If you win, free tickets for life!*

*He gets a two base head start

Houston Astros: Didn't we change divisions?

Atlanta Braves: We have a tomahawk chant at all our games, but still aren't as racist as the Redskins!

Washington Nationals: If Strasburg DOESN'T give up a first inning run we will refund half your ticket!

Miami Marlins: So our name change didn't go as well Tampa, but at least we aren't in Tampa.

New York Mets: We got nothing.

Philadelphia Phillies: Forever vicariously living through our 2008 World Series Championship!

NL Central:
Milwaukee Brewers: Maybe you guys could figure out why we are doing so well because we have no idea!

St. Louis Cardinals: Come on, we are good every year.

Cincinnati Reds: Take a gamble on us! Pete Rose did.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Remember when we made the playoffs last year?

Chicago Cubs: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

NL West:
San Fransisco Giants: We are finally done paying Barry Zito millions of dollars to pitch mediocre baseball!

Colorado Rockies: It looks like we are doing good this year and hey, it's easier to get drunk in the higher altitudes!

Los Angeles Dodgers: At least we aren't owned by Donald Sterling!

San Diego Padres: We still have those cool camouflage uniforms!

Arizona Diamondbacks: We beat the Yankees in the World Series once!

All kidding aside, I do enjoy baseball, I just can't invest into this early in the season. I will say however, that if the season continues on the trend it is now we could have one of the most exciting second halves in MLB history. As of right now 19 of the 30 teams are withing four games of .500 on the plus and minus side. The largest division lead on second place is 5.5 games. In the AL East every team except the Blue Jays have a negative run differential. The Jays are plus 15 and sitting in fourth. I can't make sense of anything. These slogans may help with the first half, but if things stay this tight there will be no need to convince people to tune into the second half. Until then though, let's just be glad Game of Thrones is on every Sunday night so we don't have to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates vs the St. Louis Cardinals on ESPN.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Kevin Durant to the Wizards?

Kevin Durant is Oklahoma City. He started the franchise, you can credit him for bringing them to where they are today and the city loves him for than Blake Griffin and Brad Pitt combined (both are from the city). The city would go to the end of the world for him and for some reason, you get the idea he would go to the end of the world for the city. Why is he going to the Wizards in free agency then?

Wait what? You just talked about how much OKC loved him and he loved OKC and then you just jump into him leaving in free agency. You realize that makes no sense right? Have you ever written anything before?

Listen. KD is probably the most loyal player in the NBA and what he has done for the city of Oklahoma cannot be measured, but his true loyalty remains in the city of Seat Pleasant, Maryland. The city where he grew up. The city that he has devoted a whole back tattoo to. The city that erected a billboard congratulating him on his MVP before OKC did anything for him. Did you know the KD and John Wall are incredible friends and talk on the reg? Since getting to the league Wall has done nothing but talk about how much he can't wait until they play together in DC. It is obviously some good ribbing between a couple of chums, but you know there is a little truth behind it. Did you know that when RGIII was drafted KD was still voted the 2nd most popular person in DC behind somebody named Barack Obama?

I think I am in the minority in this belief, but I just think there are too many variables at play to not at least explore the option. The west is such a good conference and the east is so atrocious. Think about what a player like Kevin Love might be thinking, "Damn, if I was just on one of the playoff teams in the East I could be the player that would carry that team to the eastern conference finals. That's how much every other team sucks." The only star that can't think like that is Carmelo Anthony, he just thinks "Damn, why am I never going to be as good a teammate as every other superstar in the NBA." Sorry, I have to get at least on dig in on him every now and then.

If you add KD to the Washington Wizards you might as well pencil them into the Eastern Conference Finals talk for every year with the Pacers and Heat. Sure you can say that now with OKC in the west, but you could make a case for every western playoff team to make it to the conference finals. I'll go on a hunt for a leprechauns pot of gold if somebody can convince me the Atlanta Hawks are serious contenders for next year. Heck, you could make a better case for the Suns to make it to the western conference finals next year than the Hawks to make the eastern conference finals. There is just too much of a discrepancy between the elite teams in the east and the shit ones.

Obviously only time will tell as KD still has 2 years left on his contract and a lot can change in that time. The only thing I can think of that would actually guarantee KD's stay in OKC is if they don't win a championship before that time is up. He cares too much about the city of Oklahoma to not leave them with at least one championship. So if I were Thunder fan I would root for them to make the finals and lose for the next couple of years and then resign KD forever once that contract is up. If I'm a Washington fan I would keep donating money for billboards and maybe slide some under the table to the OKC papers to keep posting stupid headlines like "Mr. Unreliable."

The one thing we do know for sure is that KD is such a nice and humble guy that his free agency period will be the POLAR OPPOSITE of LeBron's. My guess it will be a two team list and the decision will be made in private and you know the first person to know of that decision will be his Mom. Until then all we can do is speculate and enjoy this years incredible NBA Playoffs.