NBA Playoffs: 2nd Round Outlook

With a stellar 7 out of 8 first round predictions correct, and being pretty close on the length of the series, we now take a look at the second round series. Just like my first predictions, the picks have not changed. Even though most of the series have started.

Eastern Conference

Heat vs. Pacers

For once, I would like a team that talks a bunch of nonsense to have proven themselves before they go running their mouths. Rather than criticize the style of play of arguably the best team in the league. I think this only motivates the Heat even more, even though after hearing the comments LeBron, Wade, Bosh and Coach Spo, all brushed it aside. Of course the Heat flop, EVERY TEAM IN THE NBA FLOPS. Unfortunately, this has become a huge flaw in the NBA, but that is a whole different situation. I think making a run like the Heat did last year helps them and benefits them.

Pick: Heat in 6

Celtics vs 76ers

The 76ers played fantastic in the first round, granted the Bulls were without Rose. However, they are still a young team and the Celtics are proven. There is no need to elaborate the accomplishments of the B. Rondo will dominate the flow of the game like he usually does and take the Celtics to the Conference Finals.

Pick: Celtics in 6

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Western Conference

Spurs vs. Clippers

This is a very intriguing series, it could be given the title “Old School vs New School”. A boring team with tremendous  talent, pitted against a team full of highlight reel players. I think this is going to be a fantastic and drawn out series. It will be interesting to see the pace of the game, and who dominates that. Whoever does that will obviously win the series, but I think that the Clippers are still 1 year away.

Pick: Spurs in 7

Lakers vs. Thunder

Just like the other Western Conference series, this one could have its own title “The Passing of the Torch”. This is going to be the best series out of the four that are being played. There is the best scorer in the NBA right now against the most dominant player of the last decade. Among other story lines that this series has is the play of both teams bigs. Whether or not Pau and Bynum will show up in this series is yet to be determined as they both play like a furnace in the spring time, on and off. Also, the James Harden vs Ron Artest (he earned that name back with that childish move). I think the torch is passed in this series and Durant out duels Kobe.

Pick: Thunder in 7

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Author: Zach Tanton

Advertisements

Its Time to Quit

It’s time to leave them alone, we’re not in there shoes and haven’t lived the life that they have, so who are we to criticize? Have I done this before, you bet your sweet ass I have. I do it all the time, especially with a select few athletes. Sure its easy to sit behind a computer screen or a TV, and bitch about how players don’t do this or don’t do that, or how they handled a certain situation. What people need to do, not only in sports but in everyday life, is look at the positive things they do.

Was the way LeBron James handled his free agency departure from the Cavs wrong? In a way yes and no. People forget about the fact that he raised 2.5 million dollars for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Anytime this is brought up I am quick to respond with that fact. Being a huge LeBron fan this is always something that I love debating. Why? Because I am able to see both sides. I do not agree with how he handled it and it completely changed his game for a entire season. He could’ve handled the situation differently,  but in the end he raised a ton of money for a great organization.

The most talked about pro athlete in all of sports, a crazed trend is named after him and numerous rumors off the field criticizing his lifestyle. If you haven’t guessed who it is, it is none other than Timothy Richard Tebow. Do I think he is a great quarterback. Hell no. Do I think he is a great football player? Yes. The guy knows the game, he knows how to play it and he knows how to win football games. He is one of the best athletes to have as a role model. He puts his heart and soul into every down, every quarter, every game. Sure, he isn’t the best quarterback in the NFL and the stats prove it, however, the guy wins football games and is a tremendous human being. Just because the man states his religion and how he talks about God pisses people off but he should not draw criticism because of them. Everyone is entitled to the right guaranteed by the first amendment, free speech that is. Next time you want to criticize him or his lifestyle think about this, would you rather have a guy like Tebow on your team and the face of your franchise or a guy like Charles Rogers. I’m pretty sure everyone would take Tebow. Its not a great comparison, but it gets the point a crossed.

The situation that has pissed me off the most in recently in sports is really one that hits hard and brings out the ugliness that is still around in 2012. I’m a little late in response to the situation, but it goes hand in hand with this. When Joel Ward scored the game winning goal for the Capitals in game 7 against Boston, Twitter absolutely erupted with racial tweets directed at him. Ward being one of the select few African-American hockey players in the NHL, I think made that goal that much more special. I mean think about it, hockey is a sport predominately played by white athletes and only a handful of African-Americans. This is one of those situations where kids can look at Ward and think, “Hey, if he can play in the NHL. Why can’t I do it too”. The fact that Twitter erupted like that really made me realize that people are so accustomed the status quo, that one minor change can have a huge impact. Think about it, if a white player scored that goal, its just another game winning goal, but when a African-American scores, its like it’s the end of the world. There is no room for this in sports or the world. Period.

Finally, probably the most scrutinized athlete in recent years, Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods. By no means am I condoning what he did, but I mean come on, he made a mistake, and he admitted it. Now leave the man alone and let him get back to living a “normal” life. Everyone is quick to judge, especially when it comes to him. Sure, his golf game hasn’t been the same since the incident happened, but let me ask this: Have you ever played golf? Do you know what it takes to actually get out on the course and shoot what he shoots? I can tell you one thing, I sure as hell can’t. I love the game of golf and I root for Tiger in any tournament that he plays in, but I will never criticize anything he does on the course. Unless you are a swing coach or a golf pro, no one has any room to talk. He made a mistake, a big mistake, but he is human just like the rest of us. People forget that when looking at any celebrity or athlete. Also, if you are an avid golf fan and hate Tiger, think about this: Where would golf be without Tiger Woods? I can answer that for you, it sure as hell wouldn’t be as popular as it is today.

In closing, I will leave all you fantastic readers with one last thing. If you were in any athletes shoes, do you think that you would be able to handle all the baggage that comes along with it? If the answer is yes, well then I applaud you. If you are on the fence or say no, well then think about this the next time you criticize a professional athlete.

You stay classy……………..readers.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Author: Zachary Tanton

NBA Playoffs: 1st Round Outlook

With this being posted almost a day through the first day of the playoffs and a few major injuries later, my predictions have not changed through the first round. The regular season played out, for the most part, exactly how the experts picked and lead to all playoff match-ups being any teams series for the most part.

Eastern Conference

Bulls vs 76ers

With or without Derrick Rose the Bulls can handle a young and inexperienced team. They have shown throughout the regular season, they can win without Rose. In my opinion I think that this could be almost a blessing in disguise for them. They were playing fantastic when Rose was out during the year and with him out, they do not have to try to work him back into the flow of the game. The only thing that hurts them is not having that proven, closer that a team needs.

Pick: Bulls in 5

Heat vs Knicks

This series is going to be interesting, the Heat proved today that they can flick on that defensive switch and lock down any and all players on the opposing team. They will not be able to do that every game, but look for them to give the opposing team fits. With two of the top superstars in the league, its easy to pick them. I think that the shortened season, injuries and a new coach, hurt the Knicks. With LeBron being able to lock down Melo and him and Amare trying to figure each other out still, they don’t have a chance this year.

Pick: Heat in 5

Pacers vs Magic

This is probably the most intriguing series in the playoffs, both teams are inexperienced. The Magic do not have their go to guy, and the Pacers are young and aren’t proven yet. This should be a back and forth series and I look for Danny Granger and Jameer Nelson to be the most important guys in this series.

Pick: Pacers in 6

Celtics vs Hawks

The Celtics are old and everyone knows that, and with Ray Allen injured it could be tough for them. However, the Hawks have Tracy McGrady on the squad, i can just leave it at that. T-Mac hasn’t made it out of the first round in his career.

Pick: Celtics in 6

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Western Conference

San Antonio vs Utah

This is an easy pick, say what you want about the Spurs but hey can play. No matter what their age is, Parker is an MVP candidate, Duncan is well, the same Timmy that has played since the Twin Tower days, and Ginobili is still one of the best European players in the league. The Jazz are in a position where no one thought they would be, and ill give them credit, they fought tooth and nail to get the 8 seed and the deserve it. They will still have a tough time with the Spurs.

Pick: Spurs in 4

Oklahoma City vs Dallas

This could potentially be the best first round series in the playoffs, the best 1-2 scoring punch in the league against the defending champs. I think that OKC is more skilled at the guard positions with Westbrook, Sefolosha and Harden coming off the bench then the Mavs are, and i would say its a push in the front court. I would say that everyone cancels each other out, however Ibaka will be a huge problem for the Mavs not being able to get into the lane. The Mavs have been the most inconsistent team in the NBA this year and I look for them to be them same way in the series.

Pick: OKC in 6

Lakers vs Nuggets

This is going to be probably my favorite series of the playoffs. So much drama going on with the Lakers and the ultimate TEAM in the Nuggets. When i say the ultimate team, i am referring to their ability to share the ball, not care who is the leading scorer and my favorite part, not have the “superstar” that most playoff teams have. I think that the suspension of the man formally known as Ron Artest, will definitely hurt the Lakers. It wont hurt their chances of moving on though. I look for the Black Mamba to be his usual self and dominate the game without a primary defender to lock him down. It will be a long series though, and Metta World Peace will be back just in time to help close out the series.

Pick: Lakers in 7

Clipper vs Grizzlies

This will definitely be the best 5 on 5 team match-up of the playoffs. It will be interesting because both teams have good players at each position and anybody on the team can score. The Grizzlies have been here before, whereas the Clippers are a first time playoff team together. I look for Rudy Gay and Chris Paul to carry their teams. However any player on either team can have a huge night.

Pick: Clippers in 7

Check back after the first round is over to see not only if these picks are right, but for the second round picks as well.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Author: Zach Tanton

The Question is: Where do I fit in?

When a person is going to play a pick up game of any sport, a few questions should be asked. This will assure the participant that there will be no conflict with the other players, and also prove that they belong there. No matter what sport you plan on playing (Basketball and Hockey will be talked about it this article). Asking yourself these simple questions is a must.

The first question is: Do I belong playing with this group?

If you have never played that particular sport its probably not the best idea to go. No matter how good your understanding of the game is, playing the game and watching/studying the game is a whole new ball game. Just because you watch hockey does not mean you can get out there on the ice and play how they do on t.v. Same thing with basketball, sure you can sit down and watch a NBA game every night of the week, but when you’re out on the court yourself its definitely not the same. As a person that have never played hockey in my life, I would never think of going to drop-in and playing. For starters, I’m like Luis Mendoza on skates, I cant stop to save my life, and I feel like i would piss off everyone else that was out on the ice. I feel like playing pick-up basketball, I am that pissed of guy sometimes. By no means am I saying that i am a great basketball player, I do have a great understanding of the game though. If you stand out on the court and do not move around at all, or even come close to breaking a sweat, trust me you should not be playing a pick-up game.

Second Question: Am I properly dressed for the sport?

Trust me, showing up in jeans, jean shorts, cargo shorts, or any other type of clothing that is not gym shorts, you cant be taken seriously. I mean lets be honest, who even wears jorts anymore? In all honesty though, if you show up like that, probably not the best idea. I would try and talk about hockey in this question, but I have no clue what would be unacceptable to show up in.

Third Question: Do i have the right equipment to participate?

Again, the right articles of clothing are the top priority, but please do not show up to play a pick up game in Converse or any non-support shoe. Not only do you look silly, there is a potential injury right around the corner.  Also, unless you are just messing around with your buddies, try and stay away from the headbands and the Arm-Sleeves. This is not the NBA.

Fourth Question: When is the right time to shoot?

Basketball is a team sport, and I emphasize the word team. Everyone has to do there job on the floor whether it is to rebound, play defense, set screens, or score. These roles should be determined quickly in a pick up game to avoid any type of frustration between teammates. With that being said, anyone can score though. Quick rule of thumb, if you have taken a few shots with all of them being misses it is probably a good idea to start passing more. Otherwise the consequences could result in being cut-off from the even touching the ball.

Authors Note: If this article seems to be a lashing out, it is in a way. That was not my intention when i began writing this article though, the juices got flowing and it was hard to contain them. It is just a result of playing pick-up sports and I am sure after reading this, everyone can relate to exactly what was said in this article.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Author: Zach Tanton

The Outcome in New Orleans

All four teams peaked at the right time and all have that go-to-guy when the game is in its closing minutes. For each team, this guy has the ability to create plays and put his respective team in the position to win. These guys are as follows: Peyton Siva for Louisville, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for Kentucky, Tyshawn Taylor for Kansas, and William Buford for Ohio State.  Watch for all four to play a huge role for their team in upcoming games.

________________________________

A Look at the Games:

Kentucky vs. Louisville

For the second consecutive year, a team from the Big East, Louisville that is, has won the conference tournament, and followed it up with a deep run in the NCAA tournament, with one player carrying the load for the team. Peyton Siva is playing the role of “Kardiac Kemba” throughout both tourneys this year. With him having to carry the load, and Kentucky playing tremendous defense, look for him to struggle, especially with Anthony Davis in the middle preventing him from getting to the rim.

With Kentucky, look for them to play how they usually do. They will prevent Louisville from getting into the lane, controlling the boards and doing what they do offensively. It’s hard to predict who will have the “best game” for them, but in order for them to be successful Anthony Davis will have to be the best player on that team. He will have to do the dirty work, rebounding, blocking shots, and preventing any easy looks at the basket in the paint.

Outcome: : It will be a close game in the first half, but with Kentucky’s depth, size, and shooting ability, they will eventually give Louisville fits. If Davis plays well, Kentucky will win. If he plays poorly and ends up in foul trouble, look for the game to be close, with Kentucky winning in a squeaker.

________________________________

Ohio State vs. Kansas

Ohio State had an up and down season with injuries and the usual “dog days” struggle that most teams have.  Already having played Kansas once (without Sullinger due to an injury) should be a huge factor in Ohio State’s game plan. If  Buford can get hot early, and Craft can lock down, while Taylor and Sullinger can hold Thomas Robinson to single digits or get him in foul trouble, then should have a successful game and be playing on Monday.

Kansas is a team that has arguably one of the most under-the-radar players in the past decade – Tyshawn Taylor. He has been one of the few guys to have played all four years of his college career and be successful in doing so. This helps Kansas tremendously in having a true PG that has seen pretty much everything in the game of basketball. He has struggled shooting the three in the tourney this year, and according to ESPN, he has never made a three point shot in a dome in his college career. If he can get it going, look for them to be playing Kentucky on Monday night.

Outcome: This one is a tough game to predict, but it is going to come down to the Big Men down low. If Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey can dominate the game, Kansas wins. If Sullinger dominates the game down low, OSU will emerge victorious. Look for the experience at the Guard and Center positions to help Kansas in this game; they have been in big games like this before. Kansas wins in a close one.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________
Author: Zach Tanton