Monday, April 2, 2012

4/2: NBA and a NCAA Title Game Mini-Preview

Greetings all... a lot to get to this morning...
  • Since I've been silent since Saturday afternoon, I should let you know that Kentucky and Kansas advanced in varied fashion to the title game (set for tonight). Kentucky let Louisville hang around throughout thanks to an underwhelming game from MKG and some cold shooting, but Louisville's inability to convert lay-ups and dunks (they missed 15 of them) did them in in the end. In the KU/Ohio State game, the Buckeyes led throughout up to as many as 15, but Kansas made every play down the stretch and Ohio State couldn't get a good look as the clock waned. The most "Tyshawn Taylor" play ever was when he deftly stole a huge inbounds pass, and promptly threw a HORRENDOUS pass out-of-bounds when the game should've been clinched. Hilarity.
  • The two NBA headline games on ABC produced some surprising results. OKC manhandled Rose-less Chicago to the tune of a nearly 30-point second half lead before the dogs were pulled and the win was reduced to a 14-point spread. Every OKC starter posted a +/- over +15 or better, and Durant and Westbrook were tremendous as usual. For Chicago, any time you can give John Lucas 20 field goal attempts, you have to do it. And in the late game, Boston blitzed the Heat by 19 thanks to a 31-12 pounding in the 3rd quarter. Rondo posted yet another national TV triple-double with 16 points, 14 dimes, and 11 boards while Brandon Bass added 16 and 10 for the C's. On Miami's end, they shot just 35% from the field and outside of Lebron's 11 of 20, no regular broke 50% including 2 of 11 from Bosh, 6 of 17 from Wade, and even 2 of 11 from Norris Cole. Not a banner day for the Heat.
  • We have our first good, old-fashioned baseball dispute of the year as Ubaldo Jimenez plunked Tulo yesterday in a move that the Rockies called "gutless". Gotta love Spring Training beef.
  • NBA Check - There were other games played, so let's hit them. Denver knocked off Howard-less Orlando behind Ty Lawson's 25 and 9. It was the first game of the year that Howard missed, and he did so with back spasms. Indiana got a big road win 104-102 in OT over Houston. Danny Granger had 32 and 7 to hand the Lowry-less, Martin-less Rockets a tough loss. And finally, the Lakers got a resurgent 40 points from one Kobe Bean Bryant (on 28 shots lol) and a 26/11 from Pau Gasol to dismantle the Warriors. But there is some more relevant news in that Andrew Bynum sprained his ankle and left the game... uh-oh!
  • Kentucky's Anthony Davis was named Naismith player of the year on Sunday. I sort of disagree with this assessment because I think Thomas Robinson had the better COLLEGIATE season, but there's no denying Davis' impact, and he's deserving.
  • The Braves made a trade yesterday acquiring 3B Juan Francisco from the Reds for pitching prospect JJ Hoover. This was a very, very interesting move because a) it was stated by Frank Wren that Francisco (not Prado) will play 3rd when Chipper is out, and b) this move makes Matt Diaz COMPLETELY expendable to the point where I wouldn't keep him on the 25-man roster and go with Drew Sutton instead. Francisco's bat seems to play even though he strikes out too much (way too much) because he has good power, and he's not a liability at 3rd base because of a big-time arm despite his lack of range. I'm still interested to see if they go with Prado at 3rd base against lefties with Diaz in left field (because I still don't believe they'll keep Sutton over him), but at any rate, the major league club is likely better today at the simple cost of a middle/upper-tier prospect with middle relief profile. I like it.
  • It's Masters week... somebody get that piano player ready...

What to watch for...

  • NCAA Title Game - Kentucky vs. Kansas - 9:23 CBS - "March" madness is decided in April as usual, and the game pits 2 of the elite programs in the land. Kentucky is the undisputed favorite with their extreme talent edge at most positions, and should absolutely win the game if they play well. IF they play well is the key, as they didn't play particularly well on Saturday, letting an inferior Louisville team hang around forever, and there is still something about a team led by Freshmen that scares me, especially against a team led by Thomas Robinson. The recipe for Kansas is simple. Pound the ball to T-Rob and hope and pray that the "good" Tyshawn Taylor shows up. I thought Jeff Withey was absolutely huge in containing Jared Sullinger, and he gets a tough task with Anthony Davis in this one, but it'll be the role players that win the game for Kansas. I'm picking Kentucky because they are better, but I'm not-so-secretly hoping that Thomas Robinson goes for about 34 and 15. Enjoy it.
  • NBA - Rockets @ Bulls - 8:00 NBATV - This would be a much better alternative if Derrick Rose and Kyle Lowry were playing, but alas, if you hate college hoops, it's not a bad option.


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