One note I just have to make: The Detroit Pistons were the only team to score 100 points this weekend in the NBA playoffs. The sports world is truly upside down.
Toronto Raptors vs. New Jersey Nets
Tough loss to swallow. The Raptors really didn’t play well all game with poor shot selection and some bad decision making. Jose Calderon lead a late charge in the 4th quarter and for once was allowed to stay in the game to finish it, but a strange turnover (Jose threw the ball onto the bench thinking a player was there…why would he pass to Darrick Martin anyways, though?) shut it down. The “sea of red” also really backfired as the Nets wore red. That had to make Vince chuckle, and brighten his otherwise terrible day (5/19 from the field). J-Kidd and Jefferson stole the show, but there were some bright spots. For example, that’s probably the best the Nets will play all series, we played like trash, and the game stayed close. Obviously there’s nowhere for us to go but up, and Bosh seems to have a better idea now of exactly what he has to do for this team to win. My confidence is not shaken.
Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat
Just a fantastic game, as I had imagined. Luol Deng (didn’t I just warn all of you?) played an incredible game, going off for 33 points. And (like I said, again) the Heat had absolutely no answer for Ben Gordon. D-Wade looked good in flashes, no pun intended, but he and Shaq both had foul trouble all game long. One could argue this won’t be telling of the series, as Wade and Shaq can’t always be in foul trouble, but the Bulls have the pieces to constantly drive at Shaq, take charges against Wade and make him work on the D-end. The highlight of this game had to be Shaq trying to take TWO charges, failing both times, once to pick up foul #6 on an Andres Nocioni layup.
Orlando Magic vs. Detroit Pistons
I can’t say much here because the feed was in and out, I took a nap, and the game was as boring as you’d think. Pistons win easily, Darko fails to get much revenge, and Thunder does his usual thing with very few touches.
Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz
A great half-court battle, back and forth, and T-Mac showed us why he was a top-5 MVP candidate on my awards ballot with an efficient 23 points and 7 dimes. Rafer Alston played out of his mind (9, 11, and 8) and would have made me look like an idiot had Deron not torched him (15, 9, and 9) and had he not shot 3 of 11 (3/10 from 3). Yao did his thing, and I’m going to make an odd suggestion that the Jazz have AK-47 guard Yao rather than risk Boozer and Okur getting fouls. Granted, this leaves Derek Fisher on T-Mac but pick your poison I guess. Even though neither team shot as good as 40%, I still maintain this is a good series to check out.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles
Fourth loss in a row. Towers didn’t look sharp, and neither did Victor Zambrano. The bats were ice cold. More on the Jays in a minute.
Jeff Gordon ties Dale Earnhardt’s career record with 68 individual race wins. I know a lot of people will be unhappy when Jeff breaks the record but it’s not like he’s a bad guy or anything, just a victim of circumstance. Also, it speaks volumes of his talent (not getting dizzy or bored while driving in circles).
Wow is all I can say here, seriously. The UFC kind of dropped the ball with this free pay per view on Spike TV, but I guess you can’t really complain about a free broadcast, especially with that kind of main event. At the same time, Spike TV took full advantage of the tape delay and screwed us out of the usual production quality of the UFC product, cutting out between rounds for commercials and generally packing the broadcast with a tonne of commercials. This cut out a lot of mid-round commentating, star-gazing in the crowd, and pre-fight video packages (not to mention undercard fights). UFC also didn’t televise the advertised main-card bout of David Heath vs. Ryoto “Lyoto” Machida, although I hear we didn’t miss much. A couple of fights weren’t overly exciting: Andrei Arlovski won a tentative decision over Pride import Fabricio Werdum, in what should have been a great fight, and Chieck Kongo got laid on by Asseurio Silva for most of the fight, eventually winning a majority decision because of his dominant stand-up. I love Chieck, and a win is great for him, but Joe Rogan is right, this guy could be a real force with some wrestling training, and we just haven’t seen his ground game improve in the year he’s been in the UFC. Michael Bisping looked great against Elvis Sinosic despite almost getting caught with a Kimura, showing excellent ground and pound and a menacing in-cage demeanor. A few fights from now he could be a contender. And then there was the main event, WOW. Heavily favored Mirko Cro Cop, a member of the Croatian anti-terrorist police force and current member of Croatian parliament, Cro Cop is widely considered the #2 heavyweight in the world behind Fedor Emelianenko. Not on this night though, as the once-defeated (the aforementioned Werdum) Gabriel Gonzaga dominated him for 5 minutes. Gonzaga caught one of Cro Cop’s vicious body kicks (that left a welt) and took him to the mat, beating on him and opening him up with elbows before being prematurely stood up. With 5 seconds remaining in the round, Gonzaga unleashed a Mirko-esque right kick to the head that immediately knocked Cro Cop out, flooring him and shocking the world. Gonzaga will now face Randy Couture for the Heavyweight title at UFC 74 in August. Couture and Gonzaga should be a great match up, and we could have a changing of the guard as Gonzaga is “everything Couture has had trouble with in his career” according to MMA expert Kyle Norton. The UFC has a pay per view coming in each of the next few months, including my boy Quinton RAMPAGE Jackson challenging Chuck Liddell for the Light Heavyweight Title on May 26. Good time to be an MMA fan.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Washington Wizards
Cavs destroy Wizards. LeBron doesn’t break a sweat, but almost breaks his ankle. Not a lot to tell here, pretty much as you’d expect. One exciting note, though, is that Caron Butler may be just as crazy as Gilbert Arenas. Just 20 days removed from an injury that takes at least 6 weeks to heal (broken metacarpal), Butler is trying to return for Game 3 on Saturday, cast on and all, ala Willis Reed. Butler claims to have some, “bone healer that sends waves into my finger to heal the bone faster,” but the Wizards medical staff would be wise to not clear Butler to return. I love Caron though, seriously. He’s definitely a part of my “all-favorite team” (article to come).
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns
I guess Kobe’s superior conditioning can’t hold up to 5-on-1 basketball for 48 minutes. Who knew? Kobe had a great first half with 28 points but managed just 11 in the second half as the Suns rallied back to win. Nash, Marion, Amare, and Barbosa all had their usual games, only now The Captain (Barbosa) is starting to get the “he could be the #1 option on another team” media coverage. Amare had a few sick dunks, surprise surprise, but the real highlight was Ronny Turiaf’s hair, no longer dreaded. Now THERE is a nappy head. It was really cool to see the Lakers play excellent team D in the first half and hold the Suns to 39 points, but it disappeared in the second half for whatever reason. If they can get that level of defensive intensity back, they’ve got a shot to stretch it to 7.
Denver Nuggets vs. San Antonio Spurs
An upset in some regards as the Nuggets beat the Spurs at their own game, grinding out a victory. Melo and Iverson combined for 61 points and looked truly harmonious on the court, but they’ve done that for a game at a time before; the question is if they can maintain it. I don’t think you can call the Nuggets a huge underdog given their talent level and depth, and their big men core did a great job Sunday. Nene did an awesome job on Duncan that didn’t quite show up in the box score. Again, though, Nene has done this before and the question is if he’ll maintain it. I’m sure the Spurs aren’t too worried, and the Nuggets are riding high, but they’ve been consistently inconsistent so I’m not sold on their ability to play this well defensively for an entire series.
Golden State Warriors vs. Dallas Mavericks
Ok so maybe Don Nelson really does have the Mavericks number(s). Avery Johnson struggled to adjust to Nellyball’s match-ups. I was really disappointed to see Avery play into Nelson’s hands by going small and starting Dirk at center for the first time all season. The Mavericks are the better team, and should be forcing GS to play their style of ball, pounding it inside and getting to the hoop. Dirk played awful and I’m sure we’ll start to hear how he’s not a leader all over again already. Josh Howard and Devin Harris looked good, but Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis stole the show. We KNOW how good Baron can be, especially in the playoffs. I don’t think I underestimated the Warriors, but this is going to be an exciting series if B-Diddy and Uncle Nelly can keep it up.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles
Fifth loss in a row, awesome. Gustavo Chacin was back to his 2006 form, although Jamie Vermilyea looked great in his major league debut out of the bullpen, throwing 3 shutout innings. He was rewarded by immediately being optioned to Triple-A for Brian Tallet. The move makes sense, though, as it keeps Vermilyea pitching every couple of days instead of sporadically at the big-league level. If The Wolverine doesn’t get into games with the Jays, who cares, right? Not a lot of bright spots for the Jays right now, but I’ll mention two. Aaron Hill appears to really be blossoming into a leader on this team. He is always in the media now and can be seen talking it out with teammates constantly during games. He has a very high baseball IQ and his value should continue to increase as he matures. Second, Adam Lind is going to be a star. He is hitting .286 with the big league club right now and complaining about not being comfortable at the plate. In 26 total games with the Jays between September and this April, he’s hitting an incredible .341 with a .389 on-base percentage. I’d love to see what he could do comfortable.
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
A fantastic battle as this rivalry continues. The Red Sox get the SWEEP, giving Dice-K an odd first impression of this rivalry, I’m sure. Although I’m not sure he noticed. Seriously, watch his facial expressions throughout the game. It is HILARIOUS to watch Dice-K operate. I’m not sure if he’s not paying attention, is just really happy/spacey, or if he’s actually a child, it’s bizarre though. The back to back to back to back home runs were something to see too. Manny Ramirez is also hilarious, and is an enormous liability in left. He tried to kick a ball on Saturday, seriously. The Yankees used Pettite out of the bullpen just two days after he threw 100 pitches…uhh, what gives? Anyways, this game was great, as every showdown between the two is. Now they both get a break against the Jays this week.
The Week Ahead
Wrestlemania Rematch – Monday at 9
Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena on Raw tonight. HBK is going to lay his ass out this time, I swear. Sweet…chin…music.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Dallas Stars Game 7 – Monday at 9
You know, for those of you gay enough to care about hockey. Roberto Luongo is sick though. The Sedin twins are creepy. Go Vancouver, just so I can keep saying “Canuck if you buck.”
NBA Playoffs Continue
2 games Monday, 3 Tuesday (Raptors), 3 Wednesday, 3 Thursday, 3 Friday (Raptors)
The Raptors play Tuesday, where Sam Mitchell is expected to be given his Coach of the Year award. The Raptors will wear dark warm up suits so as to not confuse Jose Calderon again, no joke. It’s also the start of real “west coast” games you have to stay up late for, but they are ALL well worth it, please believe. It’s going to be a good week for basketball.
Toronto Blue Jays – 2 vs. the Yankees, 2 vs. the Red Sox
The Jays see Tim Wakefield again tonight and run the risk of a 6-game losing streak. Luckily, The Doc takes the mound tomorrow against Julian Tavarez, all but guaranteeing the streak will be halted. We then turn to two against the Yankees in what should be high scoring games as its Burnett and Towers vs. Pettite and Karstens, match ups that aren’t really scaring anyone right now.
Young Stunnaz Opening Tournament
Good luck, homos.
NFL Draft, Saturday on ESPN
If you’ve got a full day to spare, watch the first three rounds Saturday. I’ll probably be neck-high in unpacking and basketball, but I’ll definitely have the computer open so I can find out what mistake Matt Millen made this year, and if the Jaguars are actually going to pass on Safety Reggie Nelson for a defensive end, when we have the sickest D-line in the league.
Have a good week everyone, and good luck on the last view exams.