Saturday, April 23, 2011

04/23 (Rondo'd) Quickie

Watching the Celtics dismantle the Knicks last night -- even a short-handed Knicks -- does anyone really think that the Heat -- even a top-of-their-game Heat -- can beat the C's 4 times?

We have entered the sluggish portion of the NBA's drag-it-out playoff schedule. I feel like I say this every year: If MLB let its playoff series sprawl out over two weeks, people would freak.

And yet we have the Spurs and Grizzlies playing only Game 3, a week after their series started. And if the Celtics and Heat close things out in 4, we will wait a week for them to start playing.

It's not a huge complaint, and the NBA knows what works for them -- its playoffs are more like "Lost" than an MLB-style mini-series: 8-12 storylines, intertwined and popping up every few days. Given the two-month stretch, it fits.

I just want to get to Heat-Celtics already -- it's possible that will be the culmination of the entire NBA Playoffs, long before we get to the NBA Finals.


Pau Gasol breaks through: The hysteria after the Lakers lost Game 1 is a faded memory -- a humorous lark. Because now, like Boston, it's hard to see anyone in the West beating them.

Hawks edge Magic in Atlanta: Loved Crawford's "no-no-no-YES!" banked 3 that the team didn't even need. Orlando is a huge disappointment.

NHL Playoffs: Two OT wins last night? Yes, please. Caps-Rangers with the Caps possibly closing out the first round at home? Yes, please. Habs-Bruins in Boston, tied 2-2, with the road team winning all the games so far? Yes, please.

Brandon Marshall stabbed last night: Sounds like he will be OK, but what an insane story.

Anibal Sanchez's near-no-no: Taking a no-hitter into the 9th is impressive. That it would have been Sanchez's second career no-hitter is even more impressive. A one-hitter is entirely acceptable, by the way. Entirely.

Jim Larranaga from George Mason to Miami: Technically, it's a better job. It's certainly more money and a tougher level of competition. But Miami is buzzless as a hoops program. Maybe he will bring some.

Good afternoon/evening of NBA and NHL playoffs ahead. This morning on Quickish: Reactions to Rajon Rondo and the Celtics' beat-down, Pau Gasol's return to form and the Knicks' deflated performance, plus NHL Playoffs, MLB wrap-ups and a bunch of must-see videos. Check it out!

-- D.S.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Celtics Obliterate the Knicks

Good gosh: What an ass-kicking. Rondo with that triple-double (15 pts, 11 reb, 20 ast). Pierce with 38. Ray Allen with 32 (including 8/11 3-point shooting). The Knicks were overwhelmed -- with the roster they trotted out (especially with Amare at half-speed), this result was inevitable.

As inevitable as the Celtics' close-out sweep on Sunday.

-- D.S.

On One-and-Dones

I'm with Pat Forde that Josh Selby never should have been forced to play college basketball for a year before entering the draft.

I'm long on the record as being anti-age-limit. It makes no sense for anyone -- not the players, not the colleges, not "college basketball," not even the NBA.

I wish that all players who know before college that they will be one-and-done would make the economically and competitively rational decision to simply go straight to the D League.

In the D-League they will get coaching geared exclusively and specifically to maximizing their draft stock and their NBA potential, as opposed to college coaching geared specifically to NOT maximize their pro potential, but the coach's win-loss record.

In the D-League they will get paid -- not much (roughly $30,000), but better than nothing (cue jokes about being paid to go to college X). They are also eligible for two things that the college player is not: Endorsement dollars and cash advances from anyone.

But I mainly go back to the idea that you spend a year honing your game (and being honed) specifically to succeed in the NBA, which should -- in theory -- maximize not only your draft status but your long-term prospects, as you get drafted, be productive faster and start the clock to free agency.

The only folks who will claim to lose if top preps skip college hoops are the coaches and media who rely on the star power of the one-and-dones to justify their existence. If they cared about the kids -- or the game, at either the pro or college level -- they would support going pro.

Or they could simply get rid of the unnecessarily paternalistic age limit and let the free market decide if a player is draft-worthy. That worked out pretty well beforehand.

-- D.S.

Friday 4/22 Quickie

First, a quick word on this Colby Lewis paternity leave story: What story? The blogger who ripped him is trolling for relevance; he made an absurd argument.

It's a non-issue: Lewis and the team actually did schedule the birth around his starts, but a weather issue threw the plan off. It happens, but the intent was there.

And even if the intent wasn't there, I'm totally comfortable with the work-life balance choice that Lewis made, with the team's (and MLB's) blessing.


*Yes, yes: The Heat are playing as well as any team in the playoffs. But they are playing the Sixers -- in over their heads from Day 1. Let's see Miami do it against the Celtics.

*NHL: I love that the Canucks are starting to gasp a little bit against the Blackhawks, and I love that the road team has won every game of the Habs-Bruins series.

*Expanding the MLB playoffs: I have been for this for a while. I would expand it to 8 teams per league, frankly, but I'll take what I can get. (But then again, I'm unrealistic. Because I would also dissolve the divisions, balance the schedule and enforce a salary cap that creates more parity.)

*NFL Draft: The storyline, as always, is QBs -- Cam Newton at No. 1? Who goes for Gabbert? Who takes a chance on Mallett? How many go in the 1st round? Andy Dalton's red hair?

*I'm no fan of the BCS, but any taxpayer dollars that are spent pursuing a case against the BCS is the worst use of public money ever, and the local governments behind it should be ashamed.

*MLB: Totally support the MLB takeover of the Dodgers. And just so you don't think I'm an East Coast snob, I would support a forced sale of the Mets.

*More MLB: Ryan Braun gets 5Y/$105M extension from Brewers. Smart to lock him up. He is the face of the franchise, even if Prince Fielder leaves. They avoid the b.s. in a few years of potentially losing Braun to the Cubs or Red Sox or Yankees.

*CBB: George Mason's Jim Larranaga to go to Miami? It would be a fine hire for The U -- although has Larranaga shown he can recruit an entire region? Meanwhile, I kind of love the George Mason opening for a hot young assistant, like VCU keeps doing.

Fun day ahead on Quickish -- and a fun weekend of NBA and NHL playoffs, plus lead-up to NFL Draft week. Give it a look!

-- D.S.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

04/21 (Caps Win!) Quickie

On the plus side, I had an unbelievably productive trip down to DC the past 24 hours.

On the minus side, I wasn't able to post earlier this morning -- something I will redouble in effort to correct back to the typical daily morning pace. But I refuse to stop being typically shallow.

Last night, I was driving around looking for a parking spot at 10:30/10:45 and I ended up listening to the local Caps radio broadcast of the 2nd OT against the Rangers.

I found a spot, but sat in the car listening, because I had a flashback to 1987 -- I was 14 years old sitting in my bed listening to Game 7 of the Caps' playoff series with the Islanders, which New York won in a 4th overtime. It remains one of the most vivid experiential memories of my sports childhood.

And so with last night's sudden "HE SCORES!" from the radio guy, I remembered how much I enjoy listening to playoff hockey on a home-town radio broadcast -- even if the last time I could remember doing it was nearly a quarter-century ago.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

04/20 (DC) Quickie

Apologies for the late posting today -- I zipped down to DC for some business (hoping to enjoy watching the Caps in a Caps-friendly bar tonight, along with Thunder-Nuggets, if the bar will let a TV be on anything but the Caps).

*The NFL schedule release was everything the NFL hoped it would be -- namely, taken at face value, with more focus on "Ooh! Look at that match-up!" than "Ooh! Week 1 ain't gonna be played."

*The Knicks found an even more brutal way to end a playoff game in Boston against the Celtics. Great game by Melo; awful finish by the ragtag group. That they were in a position to win it in the final seconds is a moral victory. (The whole thing is a moral victory -- no one had them advancing anyway, so playing the Celtics close is as much as anyone could ask of them.)

*NBA Draft: Kentucky's Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones are smart to enter the draft. They were Lottery locks before the other top collegians decided to go back to school. Both could go in the Top 10 (if not even higher) and no guarantee either would have gone that high next year.

*The robot that threw at the first pitch for the Phillies today clunked it short. Humans rule!

-- D.S.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

04/19 (NFL Irony) Quickie

In typical years, the release of the new season's NFL schedule is nearly a sports holiday -- part of the programming foundation that the league created that has turned it into a year-round sport.

Of course, this year's schedule release -- tonight at 7 -- comes with built-in snark: What schedule? With the league locking out the players and no end in sight (until late-summer at least, I suspect), analyzing the schedule is an even more theoretical exercise than in normal years.

Here is what the NFL knows, though: Fans will take tonight's schedule release as seriously as ever -- the same way we'll do it with the draft.

No one wants to think about the lockout or the byzantine labor negotiation. What we want to think about is football, and analyzing the schedule -- even one with not even as much basis in reality as a fantasy team -- is as close as we get to normalcy.

And so the jokes will come easily, but they are one-note and depressing. The easier (and more fun) thing to do is pretend this lockout isn't happening and approach the schedule release with as much enthusiasm as any year. It will make us feel just slightly (but only slightly) better.

Then back to the harsh reality that, as of now, there IS no schedule.


NBA Playoffs: The Heat are playing great. Who cares? Was getting out of the first round even a question? Let's talk about the Heat playing great after they win 4 of 7 from the Celtics three weeks from now. (And the Bulls are playing sloppy -- they still will likely close this out in 5 games.) Tonight: We see the extent to which the psychologically fragile Knicks were broken by Sunday night's late-game collapse.


MLB: Did Aroldis Chapman really hit 106 on the radar gun last night? Better question: Did teammate Mike Leake really shoplift $60 worth of T-shirts from a Macy's?

More later -- and all morning/all day/all evening at Quickish. Please pop by -- great recommendations all day long, then instant reactions to the NFL schedule release at 7.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday 04/18 (NBA Playoffs) Quickie

The difference between the NBA Playoffs and the NBA regular season is so profound that it's little wonder the NBA's regular season is as meaningless as exists in sports, a few Blake Griffin YouTube clips and the occasional match-up between heavyweights that have a "playoff feel."

But there's no replicating the playoffs. There's no replicating Derrick Rose's contortions or Chris Paul totally raising his game or the Grizzlies looking nothing like the Memphis teams of previous years in dispatching the 1-seed Spurs in San Antonio or Ray Allen's dagger 3 or Serge Ibaka's block capping the 8th -- and best -- Game 1 of the first round.

And yet there is this interesting feeling: Yes, lots of love for the Game 1s -- it was our first taste of playoff basketball this year and the games had high levels of drama. But best-of-7 series have a way of mitigating Game 1s -- and even opening-round series. We rarely remember Game 1s and we rarely remember first-round series -- short of rare foreshadowing of "Michael Jordan's Bulls will be pretty good in a couple of years," repeated 25 years later with Derrick Rose against the Celtics. Game 1 storylines rarely hold through the course of a playoff season -- let alone a first round... hell, let alone a Game 2 or 3 or beyond.

But damn if these playoffs aren't off to a thrilling start worthy of a sport reaching the apex of a Golden Age -- right before they shut it down for a labor battle. Enjoy it now, friends.

-- D.S.