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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Game 1

It has taken me a few hours to put my down my first thoughts, mostly because it was such an amazing game. Going into the series, everyone was convinced this was the series to watch. It was the first round, but everyone thought it would be the most entertaining series of the entire postseason. Some people had gone so far as to call this match-up the best first-round series in the history of the NBA.

Game 1 did not disappoint.

In a game that went into two overtimes, that featured three game tying three point shots with under 15 seconds left in what could have been the game, i am left with only one thought:

This will be fun.

My immediate reaction after watching the game is that the Suns, after losing, now had almost zero chance to win the series. They played what looked to be a perfect game, never trailing until the last minutes of regulation, and leading going into the final possessions of both regulation and the first overtime.

The Suns seemingly had every chance and opportunity to win this game, but couldn't put it away. And with all the luck once again falling to the Spurs with two late improbable three's, the Suns could easily pack it in and fall by the wayside.

But i don't think this Suns team will do that.

After a couple of hours have passed, and looking at the box score, there is one glaring thing that tells me the Suns may still have a chance in this series: They played like crap.

The box score tells the story. Amare shot 13-26, or 50%. He has shot 59% for the season. Grant Hill, who personally i think his groin injury is still bothering him, had only 5 points. Shaq, while great in both overtimes, barely played in regulation and wasn't good when he did. Steve Nash shot only 9-20. And by the way, the Suns play much better when Nash doesn't have to shoot so much and take over games. Gordon Giricek, who has been an offensive spark the last 20 games, had only 2 points. Barbosa, who i thought actually played pretty well, still had only 12 points when he averaged 15.6 on the season. I think i was most impressed offensively by Raja Bell, and he's in there for his defense, not his offense.

While it was a hard-fought, highly entertaining and well-contested basketball game, i still can't shake the feeling that the Suns did not play their best game. They were taken out of their game early and often because of both Shaq's and Amare's foul troubles. They shot 50% from the field, which isn't bad, but only 31.3% from beyond the arc, making only 5 three's. I understand the Spurs play the Suns in such a way as to take away their three-point shot, but they still could have done better.

Regardless, this series is shaping up to be another classic battle. Say what you will about the Suns, but they always seem to be involved in some of the most entertaining and memorable postseason series in NBA history...

Friday, April 18, 2008

NBA Picks

My god, i've been waiting for the NBA Playoffs since November when the season started. Actually, that's not correct. I've been waiting for this year's playoffs since the Suns were eliminated in that travesty of a second round series against the Spurs (Sterns) last year. I could not be more excited that they're finally here...

In lieu of an actual preview, today i'm just going to be posting my picks for the first round games. I will have analysis after each of the Suns' games. Off we go!

Eastern Conference:
Boston over Atlanta in 4 (No chance for Atlanta)
Detroit over Philly in 5 (Pistons will be focused)
Orlando over Toronto in 6 (Orlando tends to not be focused at times)
Cleveland over Washington in 6 (The Wiz will push the Cavs, but LeBron still plays for Cleveland)

Western Conference:
Los Angeles over Denver in 5 (I almost made this 4 games...)
New Orleans over Dallas in 6 (Don't care about youth or inexperience. The Hornets are the better team)
Utah over Houston in 5 (Houston has no chance)
Phoenix over San Antonio in 7 (I just don't see how this series goes less than the distance)

Weekly Press Conference

Welcome back to your weekly press conference feature. This week's video is a special. Anytime a coach can interrupt another coach's press conference and proceed to threaten him... Well, it gets special mention. Without further adu, i present to you legendary coach John Chaney...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

And I'm Back

Sorry for the extended delay. I was out sick for a while, then out of town for a wedding. Both bad excuses, but i'm back. And with Baseball season in full swing and the NBA playoffs about to start, expect a lot of writing coming up...


Leading the league in runs scored. Leading the league in home runs. Second in total bases. Leading the league in RBI's. Second in batting average. First in On Base Percentage. First in Slugging Percentage.

Chris Young is first in the league in runs scored. CY tied for 2nd in home runs. Mark Reynolds tied for second in RBI's. Justin Upton 4th in Slugging Percentage.

Sounds like the Dbacks might be off to a pretty good start right?

Oh yeah, i forgot: They also have the second lowest ERA in the majors and third lowest batting average against.

All of this sounds like a recipe for a 10-4 start to the season for the red-hot Diamondbacks.

Hey NL West, the NL, and baseball in general: Better watch out, these Diamondbacks are on fire.

Coming into the season, everyone figured the pitching would be there. With last year's AL All-star starting pitcher Dan Haren combining with Cy Young winner Brandon Webb at the top of the rotation, that figured to be a strength for the Dbacks. It was hard to tell what you would get from Randy Johnson and Micah Owings, who was coming off a terrible spring (0-2, ERA north of 9.5), but at least at the top you had stability. The bullpen figured to be strong, with the lone question mark being the closer.

Well, Randy made his first start yesterday and looked pretty good, all things considered. If the defense had shown up at all, he would have had the win. Owings has been spectacular, going 3-0 so far. The bullpen, with the exception of the closer spot (get to that later), has been solid as well.

What people weren't sure about coming into the season was the Diamondbacks offense. Everyone knows about the offensive woes last season, getting outscored over the course of the season, struggling to score runs, batting averages 4o points or more south of where they should be, etc.

This year that has seemed to turn around. Drew is batting near .300. Upton is hitting .388. Conor Jackson is at .313. Byrnes is at .291.

I realize the season is still young, but if nothing else the start will give confidence to all our young guns for the rest of the season. That's all these young guys need, a little confidence and the knowledge that they belong here and can hit at this level.


I mentioned that the Dbacks were 10-4 on the season, but what i didn't mention is who they've beat. In the middle of a 22-game stretch against NL West Division foes, the Dbacks have gone 9-2 against the likes of Colorado, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Besides the great overall start, they are off to a great start in their own division, which is always big.

I realize seasons are not won in April, but they can be lost. The Dbacks have done the work and put themselves in a great position to start a season in which they have high expectations. Up to this point, they have shown why those expectations were so high to begin with.