A big weekend in the sports world. In case you ate a few too many jelly beans over Easter Sunday, had a few too many brewskis celebrating anything, or spent too much time checking out this awesome baby penguin (I may have done all three), here's all you need to know. I think. Maybe.
Heat and Bulls Can’t Sweep, But Do the Bulls Have Trouble? The Heat and Bulls both lost on Sunday in Game 4 of their Series against the 76ers and Pacers, respectively.While I think both teams are going to cruise past this series (NOTE: I picked both the Heat and Bulls in 5), are the Bulls in a little bit of trouble going forward? The Bulls’ matador, Derrick Rose, sprained his ankle early in the first quarter of Game 4 going up for a layup. He only had 8 points the rest of the way, and shot an atrocious 3 for 16 from the field. Only time will tell how bad this affects the Bulls in their next series against the winner of Hawks/Magic, but something tells me this team REALLY wants to win Game 5 to give DRose some time to rest up.
Come Out Strong. One team’s making my predictions look stupid, the other’s making me look like Nostradamus. The Boston Celtics finished off a sweep of the New York Knickerbockers (I picked the Knicks in 6), behind Rajon Rondo’s triple-double on Friday and recently-called out Kevin Garnett’s 26 points and 10 rebounds on Sunday. Seriously, anybody remember about three years when the question mark about the Celtics was Rondo and his incompetent play? Unbelievable. While many of you will call me out for picking the Knicks, I’m going to say that my pick lost its contractual validity when the unforeseeable circumstances of injuries to Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire resulted in impossible circumstances for a Knicks victory. You know what just happened there? You got lawyered.
On the other side of the coin, the OKC Thunder, my Western Conference pick for the Finals, vaulted to a 3-0 lead this weekend over the Denver Nuggets. Guess the questions about the Thunder’s ability to win on the road are answered, especially since they did it in the way high altitude of the Colorado Rockies. This team is going to give anyone fits in the Playoffs, and I’m certainly rooting for them to make me look gooooooooooood.
Surprise! While some people suspected the Grizz would give the Spurs some “fits” in this Series (cough, me, cough), I expected the return of Manu Ginobili to push the Spurs over the edge. I’m not sure people expected the Grizz to overwhelm the Spurs with tenacious D and fiery intensity in the post. The Spurs need to get some post help from big-man DeJuan Blair to counter the twin towers combo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, who have combined for 91 points in the Grizzlies’ two wins this series. Turning to the Hawks/Magic, what the hell is going on here? The Hawks have taken control with a 3-1 lead behind the ugliest clutch moment ever by best sixth-man ever Jamal Crawford. KD told me the other day that if the Magic don’t make a comeback, Dwight Howard’s already got one foot out the door, ala LBJ and the Cavs last year. The question has to be asked: wher will he go?
The Dog Days Are(n’t) Over. The Mavs and Lakers are mired in the midst of what could be some all-time great first round Series. The Blazers pulled even with a pair of wins at the Rose Garden, and Brandon Roy is finally showing burst in his game that he lacked after surgery on both his knees. Meanwhile, the Lakers need to figure out how to stop Chris Paul.Seriously, CAN ANYONE STOP THIS GUY? He’s unbelievable, posting 27 points, 15 assists, and 13 rebounds in the game on Sunday. He’s keeping this team in the series by himself.
Cards Take Control – KD, you were right. IN CASE NO ONE NOTICED, THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS TOOK TWO OUT OF THREE GAMES FROM THE CINCINNATI REDS THIS WEEKEND TO MOVE INTO FIRST PLACE IN THE NL CENTRAL. Too bad the Reds couldn’t start Mike Leake on Sunday night to steal the rubber match and hold on to the division. Bazinga! And no, I’m not mentioning anything about Pujols’ minor injury. But yes, I will say that the emergence of Jaime Garcia, Kyle McClellan, and Jake Westbrook once again proves that Dave Duncan is the best pitching coach in baseball. Now if only he would just fix Ryan Franklin…
All’s Right in the AL East – Anyone remember this article? That’s right everybody, all is right with the world. The Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox are now 1-2-3 in the AL East after the Yanks swept the O’s and the Sox swept the Angels. Toronto and Baltimore, it was fun while it lasted. Now… if just the Cleveland Indians would listen up and start tanking...
Roy Roy – In case anyone didn’t notice, Roy Halladay’s the best pitcher in baseball. In his last start he got creamed by the Brewers, giving up six earned runs in six innings, but yesterday Roy made us all remember who he is. Sure it was the lowly Padres, but Roy Roy went 8 2/3 innings with a career-high 14 strikeouts. If you’ve never seen this guy pitch, put it on your bucket list. Reds fans know why. You’re not a Reds fan? You don’t know why? By all means, you’re welcome, I’m happy to help.
Here We Go Again… - Uh oh. The Vancouver Canucks are in trouble. 2009: In the Conference Semis, the Canucks win Game 1, but the Blackhawks win 4 of the next 5 to take the Series. 2010: After winning Game 1 of the Conference Semis, the 2nd seeded Blackhawks win 4 of the next 5. Fast forward to this year. The Canucks, the best team in the NHL, vow to avenge their playoff woes. They draw the Hawks, but immediately go up three games to none and look to put the Series away. After losing 7-2 in Game 4, the Hawks get starting goalie Roberto Luongo pulled and cruise to a 5-0 Game 5 victory. Last night, where the Canucks panic by benching Luongo and starting Cory Schneider in net. The Hawks took a rousing Game 6 to overtime after Schneider was injured trying to save Michael Frolik’s penalty shot. Then in OT, the defending Stanley Cup champs forced Game 7 when Ben Smith had a beautiful putback past Luongo. I have no idea what’s going to happen in Game 7, but the Hawks have put themselves in a fantastic position.
Can I Start in Goal? – The Flyers, using their THIRD starting goalie of the series, forced Game 7 against the Sabres after falling behind 3-1 in the first period. Leighton Meester, starting in goal, was pulled after giving up three goals in his first seven shots faced. Goalie Brian Boucher was stout the rest of the way, offensive playoff maestro Danny Briere scored two goals, and Ville Leino put an OT shot past Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller to seal the victory. If the Flyers need a fourth starting goalie, they need to know that I'm eligible for $1,000,000 per game.
Done son. The Predators finished off a surprising upset of the Anaheim Ducks Sunday behind two goals from Nick Spaling, leading Nashville to their first ever playoff series win. Congrats Nashville - Columbus Blue Jackets, take notice - that’s how you actually make an impact in the league. The Washington Capitals and Alex Ovi took care of business this year in the first round, and took out the New York Rangers in five games.
Turmoil at #1 after wild weekend. What an exciting weekend for the game of golf that absolutely no one paid attention to. Heading into the weekend, Martin Kaymer was the world’s #1 player. No more. World #2 Lee Westwood, perhaps the least accomplished player of all-time to hit No. 1, took charge of the Indonesian Masters and won by 3 shots to wrestle the title from Kaymer. But like Bugs Bunny says, that wasn’t all folks. Luke Donald - an even more unheralded player, with 3 worldwide wins – had a chance to take over the No. 1 position with a win at Harbour Town in Hilton Head, a course I’m proud to say I played I broke 80 on from the pro tees. Vanderbilt alumni Brandt Snedeker fired a Sunday 64 to surge ahead and take the lead, but Donald tied him to force a playoff with two working man’s pars. But then he lost on the famed Lighthouse hole when his ball buried in the bunker. The volatility at the top of the golf world proves that it truly is anyone’s game right now, and it’s going to be an exciting season on the PGA Tour.
The Happy Couple– As KD wrote about this weekend, Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall was stabbed by his wife (ALLEGEDLY!). His wife is being held on charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, but she is asserting self-defense, which would relieve her of criminal charges so long as the force she used – with a kitchen knife - is NOT deemed to be excessive. Marshall is still in intensive care, and no indication of his ability to play into the future has been given.
You Mean I Like A Raven and An Irishman? – Proving Rick Reilly’s point that it is in fact possible for NFL players to make a living after the lockout, the ONLY Notre Dame or Ravens player I’ve ever like has found a second calling in the ring. Ravens Safety Tom Zbikowski moves to 4-0 in his profession boxing career with a first round knockout. Anyone have any ideas on who they’d like to see him fight next? My votes: T.O., Troy Polumalu, and Rosie O’Donnell.
Pulled Out, He Wants to Get Back In: Brandon Davies, famously suspended from BYU during its dream season for having pre-marital sex, wants to make a rousing return to the school next season. Davies, a 6’9” power forward who was essential to the team’s success, wants to re-enroll. In order to do so, he is required to be deemed “rehabilitated.” But the question is, once you’ve tasted warm apple pie, how can you come back from that? Secondly, didn’t he get kicked off the team just because he happened to get caught with his pants down? Something’s telling me that wasn’t the first time he broke the school’s honor code.
Bye Bye Cinderella: A few weeks ago, I wrote that there was no way Jim Larranaga was leaving George Mason. I followed that up by saying there was no way he was leaving for a school like Dayton. At least I was only half wrong. Larranaga took the University of Miami (FL) job.
Thanks Again Rich Rod. Seriously: Ruh-Roh. Rich Rodriguez, famously 15-22 at Michigan, came out this weekend saying that leaving West Virginia in the first place was a “mistake.” Rich, on behalf of all Ohio State fans everywhere, I’d just like to say that leaving for Michigan was not a mistake. In fact, it was the best move of your career. Whenever you want to go back, you’re more than welcome.
Fiesta, Fiesta: College Football’s CEO – excuse me, director – Bill Hancock came out this weekend and said that within a month we will know the fate of the Fiesta Bowl and its relationship with the BCS. The investigation into the Fiesta’s status comes after reports that the bowl’s directors reimbursed employees for almost $50,000 in political donations – a clear violation of federal election and non-profit organization laws. Reports are that the Cotton Bowl is ready to step in and take the Fiesta’s spot in the BCS rotation.