Saturday, May 14, 2011

05/14 (Party) Quickie

Mrs. Quickie-Quickish and I are hosting 10 pre-K kids for my son Gabe's 5th birthday, which is Monday. (More on that milestone on Monday.) So this will be brief:

*Grizzlies taking Thunder to Game 7: At home, OKC should be a favorite. But Memphis already won there once, and strategically, the Thunder have to find a solution for the Grizzlies' deployment of OJ Mayo as a way to open up the middle for Zach Randolph.

*Cripes, what the hell happened to Derek Boogaard? Very sad and shocking news.

*I think that Justin Verlander taking a no-hitter into the 6th inning after pitching a no-hitter the last time out is just about as much as we could ask from him.

*Happy graduation to Troy Polamalu.

Back to party prep. Very slow day in sports, but Quickish has more than a few great recommendations for you, updating all day long (and in the capable hands of editor Michael Katz). Pop by!

-- D.S.

Friday, May 13, 2011

05/13 (Technical Difficulties) Quickie

Blogger was down for a while, so writing late today isn't my fault this time! A few thoughts:

*The Bulls will give the Heat a tougher series than the Celtics. I am certainly rooting for Chicago, but I'm not quite sure I can bring myself to pick them to win the series.

*Thunder-Grizzlies Game 6 tonight: I think Memphis, playing at home, wins and forces an entertaining Game 7. My favorite part is that I think either of these teams can beat Dallas.

*Tiger quitting the Players: If he was near the top and still in pain, he would have kept playing, so let's not sugarcoat what happened yesterday -- he sucked and he was probably in pain, too. But most of all, it was humiliating, and that -- more than anything -- is what Tiger couldn't abide. The injury was a convenient excuse, but he felt good enough to play the tournament to begin with, so he couldn't have felt THAT awful. But let's be clear: He quit.

I love the folks saying "Hmm: He might not set the record for career major titles anymore!" No, he might not win another major again, period. In fact, I'd put the probability greater that he never wins another major than he doesn't break the Nicklaus record. Let's go one better: I think there's a better chance he never wins another major than he ever wins another major. Not willing to take bets on it or anything, but it simply wouldn't surprise me if that's how it played out. ("Ever" is a long time, and so I want to allow for some one-in-a-million freak run he goes on 10 years from now at Augusta.)

*Sharks survive Game 7 vs. Red Wings: The difference between now and 24 hours ago is everything. Folks might nominally remember that the Sharks blew a 3-0 lead, but in the end, they advanced, and history tends to be very forgiving of things like that. (It's only when you complete the collapse that history piles on top.)

*Harmon Killebrew enters hospice care: I'm sad for him and his family and Twins fans, but I'm glad he and his family have control of their end-of-life decision-making. If you haven't yet, you should read Atul Gawande's piece from the New Yorker from last August that just won a National Magazine Award for "Public Interest" reporting.

*Doc Rivers re-ups with the Celtics for 5 more years (at $5-7M a year). It's great for the Celtics and great for Doc -- although if he had wanted to take off the next two years to watch his son play at Duke, he could have returned to the NBA at the same salary structure. Unsure how good Doc will look when his team can't get out of the 2nd round of the playoffs -- if that -- over the next five years.

*Lakers want Rick Adelman? I think Kobe likes Brian Shaw personally but all Kobe cares about is winning. If Adelman offers a better chance of that, Kobe will be fine with it.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

05/11 (Fin De Celtics) Quickie

If things hold to form, the Heat should close out the Celtics tonight. It will represent a huge moment in the NBA -- slightly bigger than Miami's win in Boston on Monday night, which was fairly seismic in and of itself.

It is the end of the Celtics as a legitimate NBA title contender, at least in its "Big Three + Rondo" incarnation. It is the breakthrough -- the immediate breakthrough, mind you -- of the LeBron/Wade Heat. It lays the template for the Eastern Conference -- perhaps the NBA championship -- for this year and the next several, on top of it.

I hold out that the Celtics can grit out a win tonight, then one more in Boston, tightening the choke-hold on the Heat's necks, even if they end up prevailing in Game 7. I don't want it to be this easy for Miami. Not in Year 1. Not yet.

And yet that's how it will likely play out. This Heat team is better than we thought -- particularly if you were in the group that thought it would take at least a year for the team to break through.

A few extra notes:

*I'm a lifetime Bullets/Wizards fan, so I get a moment to say: Hey, those new uniforms are not just "not terrible," but actually really really good. I'm a huge fan. And between uniforms that most fans seem to think are pretty cool and John Wall, it makes it a little less painful that the team won't make the playoffs next year or anytime in the foreseeable future.

*Halladay-Johnson was solid, if not spectacular. It was certainly a fun thing to track on a random early-May night.

*I have no dog in the fight, but I couldn't be rooting harder for the Red Wings to come back from being down 3-0 vs. the Sharks to pull off the 4th 3-0 comeback in NHL history.

*I don't think the Bulls will beat the Hawks in Atlanta in Game 6 -- which makes Game 7 a you-don't-want-to-chance-things toss-up -- but I do think Chicago pulls this out, then exhausted, gets run over by Miami.

*Anyone else in NYC going to this tonight? Should be really fun.

*There are some incredible "longish" recommendations on Quickish throughout this morning and afternoon. Please check it out (and pop by all day for more).

-- D.S.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

05/10 (Heat + 3OT) Quickie

I am happy (if tired) to report I was able to stay up for all 3 OTs from last night's Thunder-Grizzlies game.

Partly, that's because it's part of the job and partly, it's because there is something awesome about the super-late-night pivotal playoff game going into the wee hours, where the only thing you have to keep you company is the flickering TV (virtually muted to not keep my wife up) and the patter on Twitter.

In the end, it was worth it, because if in fact the Thunder won the series with last night's epic win, it may go down as the playoff trial that defined them as a team and franchise.

That was the theme of the night -- the Heat's win in Boston was certainly the biggest win of the "Big Three" era in Miami. I would call it the biggest win of LeBron's career (and certainly Bosh's); Wade gets a "ring" exemption to "biggest win" talk.

This was it: Say what you want about the Celtics' weaknesses, this was still the defending East champs playing on their floor, where LeBron and Wade and the Heat haven't won in forever, in a game that Miami really needed -- the difference between being up 3-1 on the Celtics and tied 2-2 (having lost 2 straight) is everything.

It feels comfortable to say the Heat are going to vanquish Boston in this series -- and maybe from relevancy as an elite NBA team, just as the Mavericks did with the Lakers on Sunday.

It feels comfortable to say that the Heat just had their "breakthrough" as a team, and that not only does it seem inevitable that they will win the East, but it finally feels realistic that they will win an NBA title in their first year of being together -- a once-unthinkable proposition for me.

The end of the Heat-Celtics game had my mind racing at the implications -- it flowed right into the taut Thunder-Grizzlies game that saved OKC's season (if also layering it with this meta-intrigue of big brother Durant vs. little brother Westbrook, battling for shots).

While the Celtics and Lakers are being ushered out, fans and pundits are cheering for more from the Thunder and Grizzlies -- a best-of-three series, with the entire spotlight on them (and Bulls-Hawks, oddly, as a kind of afterthought), feels like a worthy way to spend the rest of the week.

One quick unrelated note: Josh Johnson vs. Roy Halladay tonight, in the pitching match-up of the year in baseball and one that is worth finding the sports bar or friend with MLB Extra Innings to crash at and enjoy.

-- D.S.

Monday, May 09, 2011

05/09 (End of Lakers Era) Quickie

First of all, a huge kudos to Michael Katz, who has been doing phenomenal editorial work for Quickish for the last month, on his work this past weekend -- it was as busy as a sports schedule gets (particularly with big news) and he crushed it. If you haven't yet, zip down through the weekend's coverage to get a sense of all the awesomeness from Saturday and Sunday (the page automatically adds more posts as you hit the bottom).

Now: The Lakers.

There's a lot of angles here. Let's pick a few of the more interesting ones:

*Is the dynasty over? If the definition is "Lakers as true title contender" -- a stretch dating batck to Phil Jackson's first title with LA -- the answer is yes. Part of that is because Phil Jackson is gone; part of that is because Kobe just isn't Kobe (and the supporting cast was exposed).

*Phil Jackson's legacy: I was never a big "Jordan Bulls" fan (and wasn't a "Shaq/Kobe Lakers" fan, either), but I have always loved Phil Jackson (I have a similar feeling about Bill Belichick). I think Jackson is the greatest coach in NBA history -- and it is precisely because he had the superstars. Winning championships is brutally hard; winning championships while first winning over best-ever players seems like it would be even harder. Consider the number of mega-talents who just never were able to put it together for those 16-win seasons in the spring.

(I loved Jack McCallum's idea that a team hire Phil to be president, not coach. Unclear who would do it -- Phil has that independent streak -- but I would be thrilled if it was my Wizards.)

*How the Lakers finished up: Well, which part? That they were swept? That they lost Game 4 worse than any team in NBA history? That they got a little thuggy at the end with the fouls (and the frustration)? That they acted overly miffed as they walked off the court? Two-time defending champs (and teams that have been dynastic over the past decade) get a bit more leeway than, say, LeBron or Dwight Howard, who haven't earned the right to act pissy.

There is also this (and it sort of dovetails with the Jeter-aging story of the past few weeks/months): This isn't the Lakers losing after the first three-peat, with Kobe looking at a few more years of "prime" -- not to mention the rejuvinating effect of trading for Pau Gasol a few years later, triggering Titles 4 and 5. This is the Lakers, recognizing that this may be it, for a long, long time -- more importantly, for the duration of the stars' careers. Chris Paul won't save the Lakers. Dwight Howard might, but it's unclear the Magic are interested in Andrew Bynum and his 40-year-old's knees. They are entitled to be a little dickish. You'd like them to be a bit more statesmenlike, but the same qualities that helped them win those titles are the ones that turn them into pricks when they lose. It's hard to disqualify them for that.

A few other notes:

*Few conference semifinal games feel as must-see as Heat-Celtics tonight. Totally curious how the Heat treat Rondo's elbow. (And even Thunder-Grizzlies feels like a must-win for OKC.)

*Anyone think that it doesn't really matter who wins the Bulls-Hawks series -- that either/both would lose to the Celtics-Heat winner?

*Reading all the Seve Ballesteros coverage over the past 48 hours, I regret not appreciating him more while he was active and playing well.

-- D.S.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

05/08 (Happy Mother's Day) Quickie

First (and most), happy mother's day to all the moms out there...

...Especially my own mom (who is spending the weekend visiting my brother and sister-in-law, who became a new mom two weeks ago, which was my third new nephew/neice in the last 6 weeks -- so a huge first-time happy mother's day to my sister and my wife's sister-in-law.)

And, of course, a very happy mother's day to Mrs. Quickish, whose two boys greeted her this morning with cards and homemade presents.


Some life out of the Celtics (even with that gruesome injury to Rajon Rondo's elbow, that he came back from but remains to be seen what the full impact is), which are one win from taking back momentum in the series. Even for a longtime Celtics-hater, hard not to root for them last night to make it interesting versus the just-as-hatable Heat.

Huge win for the Grizzlies, who have yet to lose at home in the playoffs (until they do). That gives them the advantage, with two more games in Memphis in the series and a 2-1 series advantage after yesterday's OT win.

No-hitter for Justin Verlander: A bit more overpowering than Francisco Liriano's.

Derby win for Animal Kingdom: If you read Quickish earlier this week, you knew that was NYT horse-racing writer Joe Drape's savvy pick to win. (It was not my own pick to win.)

Manny Pacquiao beats Shane Mosley in snoozer: Everyone knew this dud was coming, since it was set. So why the frustration when it turned out to be a dud?

Andre Ethier's hit streak ends at 30: Still impressive.

CBB Coaching: Sean Miller has no interest in Maryland, signs extension with Arizona. I'm a bit surprised, but the programs are not so disparate that this is a huge shock.

NBA Draft: Terrence Jones going back to Kentucky. I will never begrudge a player his decision -- going pro or staying -- but I think that Jones is probably making a mistake. A solid season won't improve his 2012 draft stock ahead of 2011 (mid-to-late Top 10), not with so many awesome players coming out next season. If he wants an NBA career, he would have been better off on an NBA team, getting NBA coaching, finding his NBA fit. But wow, Kentucky is going to be loaded next year.

Today: Is this the end of the run for the Lakers? Given that it's a "when" not "if" situation this month, does it really matter if the Lakers lose in 4 versus 5 or 6 or 7? Probably not. I mean, going out in 6 or 7 would at least show they had some life, versus a sweep, which would be like stamping out the Lakers' relevancy as a title contender for the forseeable future.

-- D.S.