Random Thoughts On The Playoffs...To This Point.
You ever look at a series and wonder to yourself, 'is an owner deliberately setting his team up for failure because of stuff like this'? Take Spurs/Suns for instance. On paper, this really should've been a great series. One that you look at and say, 'yeah, we need to strap in because it's going to be 6, maybe 7 games'. But after watching the last three games unfold, specifically last night, I come to one conclusion. It's over. Over for Phoenix and if you buy into the rumors circulating for Mike D'Antoni...it's over for him too. Yet again, his team's knocked out at the hands of the Spurs. Yes, I will say they're knocked out again by the Spurs. It's amazing how three games have me at ease about my preseason pick to do it again. In this series, you see how lack of preparation has the Suns on the eve of either being swept out or just flailing about long enough before the bad guy puts them out of their misery for a long, LONG Spring. I know a Suns fan and even though I haven't talked with her about this, I know she really isn't happy right now. Truth be told, she shouldn't be. Neither should any Suns fan, because the person to blame isn't Tony Parker, who's carving this team up the way Freddy carved up kids on Elm Street. It's not Gregg Belichick either, who's basically coaching this thing blindfolded and still having everything come up aces. The man to blame...
Lenstradamus On The Playoffs (2.2/2)
Okay, time for the main event. Playoffs. 16 teams (debate to your heart's contempt the fact that there's a team 14 games over the Mendoza Line sitting at home watching right now) and one big gold trophy to the winner. I'll start with the Least first, since well, it's requiring a lot less thought for me to rush through and pick winners.
- Where Deja Vu Happens. Alright, for those of you who aren't aware of this, or forgot, Atlanta has a basketball team. Yes, it's true. Now granted they haven't played a game into late April since 1999 give or take, but still, they are here by the grace of mediocrity and the fact that simply put... the Eastern Conference is NOT good. Normally, people will try and convince you of why each team has a chance to win each series. Honestly, Dominique Wilkins could have me at gunpoint and I just can't come up with any ways feasibly possible the Hawks win this series. I can't. Even if the Boston Three Party were to sit out this series, Games 1 to 7, Boston's remainder can still walk by Atlanta.
I know they don't technically have "byes" in the NBA, but this is as close to a bye as you'll ever see a team get. Oh and the 'Deja Vu' part of this comes from this stat. Back in the 80s, these two teams met back when the Eastern Conference was really a conference and the Hawks had a team that people outside of Georgia cared about. The Human Highlight Reel and Larry Legend would meet generally in the second round and despite some hellacious games by the Reel, it'd be shorted out by Larry and his crew.
- Where Payback Happens. I'm calling this Round 2 because last year was ridiculous. There was no Arenas, no nothing for Washington. How Cleveland didn't just get a pass into the second round last year, defies logic. So having Rocky V'd last year's scrimmage, this is the epic rematch between Agent Zero and the most overhyped SOB in sports today...LBJ. Prince James against the man with the best damn blog on the internet (mine being second :P). I know there's probably not a single person around these parts that will bet against Cleveland losing this and I know practically every so called expert has all but booked Boston/Cleveland for the second round, but don't do it. Remember when Arenas went down how bad the Wizards were supposed to be? How their season was supposed to be dead to rights? Or how the acquisition of Ben Lemon was supposed to make the Cavs so much better? Well...Washington managed just fine in spite of Agent Zero's absence and in some regards, got better as a team without him. Ben Lemon on the other hand, managed to make little to no difference whatsoever even when everyone got healthy, as most around here boldly and foolishly believed.
The last time these two teams met up, it went 6 games. I'm calling 7 this time. Agent Zero doesn't let Prince James psych him out and they exact a most fitting revenge on the Have Nots. Cleveland fans that have an IQ over 100 start the running countdown until LeBron files his first ever change of address card. :-) I laugh at their misery.
- Where Networks Caring To The Sum Of Zero Happens. I want people to consider this for a brief second. On paper, I think this might actually be the best series that doesn't have a LBJ, KG or Sheed in it. We're gonna get one of the best bigs matchups in quite some time between C-Bosh and D-Dunk (new name for Dwight Howard, for making me care about the Slam Dunk contest for the first time in years). Yet, the majority of this series with Game 6 being a question mark...will be on NBA TV. Want a good gauge to measure how important a series is or how most perceive it will be, look at how many games will be on NBA TV and you'll have your answer. The majority of this series will be broadcast on NBA TV, meaning if you don't have satellite, you're out of luck.
What's truly sad about this is, I really like this series. Toronto's got a quietly good team and Orlando for most of the year was really good. Bosh/Howard's going to be great to watch and although Toronto's really good (frightening if they get hot), I can't see the Magic losing this series. Magic in 6...no, make it 7 damnit. I want to see the final one on TNT. :-)
- Where Redemption Beginning Anew Happens...for the Pistons. As good as it is that Mo Cheeks has gotten this team to the playoffs for the first time since A.I. was sent packing, it's running into the giant that I really believe when on, won't be beaten this Spring. Not by the Celts, not by anyone. The problem with the Pistons, is that they're linked in with their mercurial best player, Rasheed Wallace. Last year's Conference Championship exposed their one tragic flaw, being as Rasheed goes, so do the Pistons. As long as Rasheed is interested and playing like he gives a crap, they're tough to beat.
So if you're a Pistons fan, hope this series ends quickly. Hope it's brutal and hope there's enough time for Sheed to rest before the Conference Semis begins. Because it's gonna be a long haul to get back to the Promised Land. Pistons in 5.
Alright, now considering that the West is significantly deeper than JV, I'm doing a totally different spin here. Rather than each series, I'm gonna break down why each TEAM has a shot to win it all because for the first time in recent memory...every team does. Seriously.
And The Winners Are...(NBA 2.1 of 2)
Alright, time for Part 2 of my NBA breakdown piece where I break down the playoffs only here's what I'm gonna do. Since no two conferences play the same (since the bottom half of the West recordwise would be the reason every team in the Least that's not Orlando, Boston or Detroit would be home...I'll do this), I'm doing two very unique breakdowns. In keeping with the NBA's "Where (blank) Happens" theme, I'm gonna run with it. In the Least, I'll give you a series like say for instance...the 1/8 matchup and something like...
Boston/Atlanta- Where Deja Vu Happens...
Before breaking down that series...or massacre. Out West, honestly, I think every team has a legitimate shot to win it all. Seriously, that's how stacked this conference is this year. I mean, if Denver rolls around mid-June and for the first time in their respective careers Iverson and Melo are holding that trophy, I will not be surprised. Okay, I will be, but not as much as say Atlanta playing a seventh game in Boston early next month. Get me? Good. Okay, before I do that, I need to get to my MVP and Coach Of The Year awards. For me, I don't do it the way the NBA does it. Giving it to the best guy on the best team, just cause. (See Nowitzki, Dirk last year ahead of Nash, Steve) Coach Of The Year, same bit. I base it off of, if I take Player/Coach A and put them on this team, subbing in an average Player/Coach in his place, does this team still run the way it did this year? For Coach of the Year, the following folks deserve your applause...
Doc Rivers, Boston
Byron Scott, New Orleans
Stan Van Gundy, Orlando
Rick Adelman, Houston
Envelope please? (Gets envelope from lovely Grimey assistant with the double Ds and the blonde locks.) Ladies and gentlemen...your Grimey Coach of the Year is...
Doc Rivers. What? But you said Byron deserved it in your previous columns! I know and he does, but after reading the Sports Guy's column, something hit me. Until this year, Doc hasn't done or been much as a coach. Hell, coming into this year before being handed KG by McHale and getting Ray Ray, I had even money on Doc being fired before the year ended. Now, it's even money that in June, millions of people will be second guessing themselves for doubting his ability to coach. Okay, I get he has the Boston Three Party. But think about this people, before Opening Tip, what else did they have there? Nothing. Doc coached the other 9 on that team to play well above what the name on the back of their jersey said. Byron to a lesser extent, validated why J-Clown was a moron for running him out of Jersey. He had virutally the same chemical makeup of the two teams he guided to the Finals earlier this decade, only with a better 4 in West and a much, much, MUCH better PG in CP3. More on them later.
What Was Len Grimey's NBA Wrap Up...Wasn't It?(1 of 2)
Alright, season's over. I know there's two games left for most teams...but we've got our 16...err, 14 playoff teams. I'm not counting those last two teams in the East who have lottery records and are posing as playoff teams. Golden State and Portland are not amused by the fact you're printing playoff tickets while they prepare to send someone to Secaucus to count ping pong balls next month. Thankfully, given how crappy the East is, I won't have to waste too much breath breaking down their side of the bracket. We know short of the Boston Three Party being abducted in a real life sequel of Celtic Pride, the Celts aren't losing to the Hawks. If they do, the real Big Three will roll over in graves that they aren't even in yet. But anyway, I'm going to do a two part deal. First part just wraps up what was this year and wasn't, the second part isolates the pretenders from the real contenders.
...the Hornets. I know everyone's inclined to go the other way for the top story this year, but for me, this is it. No, I'm not going to play the 'Hurricane Katrina, let's feel sorry for them' bit, because that's overplayed. With as minute a 'home court advantage' as one could have this year and being in hands down the toughest division in the Western Conference (maybe the NBA period), the Hornets were a lot like the survivors of Katrina. Left for dead by EVERYONE in the preseason. Presumed afterthoughts, lottery team, you name it.
CP3 was not amused by your snide. Neither was Byron Scott, whom lest we forget, guided two Nets teams that weren't overly talented to the NBA Finals. Byron has my vote for Coach of the Year, even if the Hornets aren't able to lock up homecourt through the West Finals. I'm split on MVP between CP3 & Kobe Bauer. Chris Paul is making more Atlanta fans sick than Billy Knight or Joe Torre (man responsible for most of Atlanta's latter World Series woes, by way of him going to the N.O. instead of the ATL. Now, with what I'm calling the P Dubya Cee Clique or Paul, West & Chandler...Byron has these boys thinking title. And guess what? Even though I picked the Spurs to repeat, I think they're the biggest threat to San Antonio's repeat prospects outside of Phoenix.
...the Cavaliers. They are NOT who everyone thinks they are. Oh and for those of you who have them penciled in facing Boston in the second round, Agent Zero wants all of you to turn your pencils in now. He's healthy this year. As the Giants proved against the Cowboys albeit in a much different context and I believe the Wizards will prove this time out, it's tough beating the same team three straight times in the postseason. Last year, the Cavs benefitted from having to play the Wizards' practice squad. This year, that practice squad has gotten significantly better. And as I said before, Agent Zero is back and I don't think he has forgotten about two years ago, whne LeBron talked him home for the summer. The Cavs' attempt to repeat as conference champions will be thwarted and their "gamble" to sacrifice two vital cogs from last season's runner-up will be bust.
Ben Wallace is nothing more than a big name on a trade and nothing more. They will quickly see why Chicago was so quick to give him up after a year and a half. Chicago, with a new head coach next year will probably be better off with Gooden in their offense along with Hughes. LeBron, MVP pretender that he is, will more than likely be ousted from the first round for the first time in his career and see this is not the place for him. He'll be gone when his contract ends and you heard it here first, whether he ends up in Brooklyn or not...he's going to go nuclear where ever he lands.
Nuclear? What do you mean? Take what he's doing now in Cleveland, add it up with what most think he SHOULD be doing and then multiply it by like a thousand. Got a figure? Good. Take it and trash it, cause that's not even close to what he's going to end up doing when it's all said and done. I believe before Kobe retires, we're eventually going to end up getting Kobe Bauer versus LBJ in the postseason. But LeBron won't win in Cleveland. It's fact, people. Nobody ever "wins" in Cleveland. Every major "urban legend" you can affiliate with Cleveland didn't "win" until they left. Bernie Kosar didn't get his first ring until he went to Dallas as Troy's understudy. Earnest Byner didn't get his first ring until he went to Washington a few years later. No famous Cavaliers to speak of come to my mind as far as this goes, but LeBron will be the first. Hell, Man-Ram didn't get his first ring until he went to Boston. Think about that for a second while I rest my case.
...the merciful end for Donnie Walsh in Indiana. What has quietly gone unnoticed as one of the more tragic collapses of a franchise that for the better part of the past ten years has been a preeminent contender, was all but solidified by Donnie Walsh leaving his post to Larry Legend as he goes...
...a "lateral" move for Donnie Walsh. I've heard of "from bad to worse", but this is like way past ridiculous. He leaves Indiana to come to...New York?! Are you serious? Who's his dealer? What coke was he snorting when someone convinced him this was an actual great idea? This defies logic, reason, everything you can think of. Seriously. Oh and while I'm at it...those of you who think this means the end of Isiah Thomas (here's one of those cases where like with the Giants in SBXLII, I'm right for being wrong...)...think again. I think this is Dolan trying to "lighten the load" for Isiah to focus on coaching. Remember people, it's hard work trying to dismantle a franchise while coaching it down to its worst mark in franchise history. I mean, when David Stern is putting your franchise on blast publically...you have issues.
...Kobe being traded making Mitch Kupchak and Jerry Buss the worst executives in sports history. Seriously, to trade away two of the top 20 players of all time at their respective positions within 5 years of each other, you've earned this spot.
...Kobe not playing out his prime for a perennial loser thanks to Jerry Buss and Mitch Kupchak. Bill Simmons aka The Sports Guy writes a column every so often which he calls the Atrocious GM Summit. Basically a mock assembly of the worst GMs in their respective sport sitting down and talking about the horrendous moves they've made. Kupchak was at the last one. Me thinks by virtue of him pulling off one of the biggest robberies in recorded history short of the Indians giving away Manhattan for next to nothing and the Vikes giving away three Super Bowl rings for rundown Herschel Walker...he's not gonna be able to make this next one.
Another side note of this is Kupchak's justification of him NOT dealing Bynum to the Nets. I got this a year ago and here's why. Whether most of you are getting this or not, seven footers who play the center position are incredibly rare to find these days. So if you're one of the fortunate ones to get one, short of being held up at gunpoint...you don't let them go. Bynum has become what a lot of people didn't think he'd be, a lot sooner than expected and here's a word to the wise for the Lakers. Don't rush him back. If it means you have to bite the bullet this postseason without him, then so be it. Let him take the summer, get better, get acclimated to playing with Pau Pau and Odom, then live to fight next season with Da Band back together.
...Mark Cuban officially going postal. Cubes, who up until this point in time, has done a rather splendid job building the Mavericks into a respectable contender. They were Finals runners up two seasons ago in the worst collapse in Finals history, then followed that up by having the worst collapse by any #1 seed this side of Seattle in 1994 or Miami in 1999. Although in Miami's defense, New York was probably the best #8 seed in NBA history. Last year's G-State team would be #2. Cubes decided to pull the trigger on a move that as ironic as it is, Devean George was in the right for stalling to begin with. Which leads me to...
ignored...Devean George. Devean's got a ring and he had what was sorely missed a few months ago. Hindsight. Devean knew aside from protecting his Bird Rights, he was doing the right thing by not signing off on the deal that would've put him and Devin Harris in New Jersey. Say what you will about the absurdity of Stack's bold proclamation about returning. George did everything short of run up to Cubes screaming, "for the love of almighty God DON'T BRING J-CLOWN HERE!!!"
because he knew that team as it was constructed, wasn't exactly THAT bad. I mean, they were Conference Champs two years ago and all told, last year they were simply outcoached and outmuscled. Dirk's inability to lead was rendered null and void, although his inability to have a backbone was exposed by a smaller, yet more physical G-State squad. So common sense would say, we need an enforcer type in here to instill some heart and balls to this team.
Curses, foiled again
To be filed under "Just how stupid Red Sox fans can be": a construction worker buried a David Ortiz jersey under the new Yankee Stadium in the hopes of putting a curse on the Yankees.
What's potentially sadder is that Yankees management actually had the damn thing dug up once they found out about it. In some ways, I can see a minute amount of logic in that decision, since the last thing anyone needs is to give Sux fans something they can cling to on days when Manny's being Manny in a bad way, Josh Beckett's clutching at his back and Julian Tavares is warming up in the bullpen. Then again, why spend the money to give any kind of credence to a numbnut Sux fan's superstitious lunacy? If anything, it appears to have backfired on him; Big Papi's only batting .070 so far. I would have left the shirt there at least until Ortiz's BA went over .200.
They're considering pressing charges against Gino Castignoli, the moron responsible. I'd simply hand him the bill for the shirt removal--and have him SuperGlued to one of the nosebleed seats in the new Yankee Stadium. That apparently would be punishment enough.
Now we know why Fenway Park has remained in place for all these years; because the idiot Sux fans are terrified that if they build a new park, someone might bury a Babe Ruth shirt under it and they'll be doomed again for all time.
Yankees fans aren't that stupid...we wouldn't bury a SHIRT under their park. *evil grin*
One Shining Moment
Time to announce the results of the SB Yahoo Sports NCAA March Madness Tourney Pick 'Em 2008:
!. Team Jademyst (Jade): 97 pts.
2. Manhattan Project (Jaime): 81 pts.
3. Down here in da ATL bitches (Jesse): 75 pts.
4. The Kentubby Mildcats (Ron): 72 pts.
5. The Jersey Supremacy (Len): 71 pts.
Much as I would love to credit my win to superior college hoops savvy, the main reason I won is because almost everyone else picked UNC and UCLA to be in the finals. I had my train hitched to Memphis and ex-UMass coach John Calipari, who almost went the complete distance, but then remembered that Dickie V said they can't shoot free throws.
Fucking Kansas--who knew?