Monday, April 30, 2012

4/30: A Wild Night in the Association

Greetings everyone... really short on time but a lot to cover, so let's go...

  • Hawks 83, Celtics 74 - Really, really ugly game here that was punctuated by a weird incident with the Rondo ref-bump, and subsequent (likely) suspension. Josh Smith was the best player on the court last night despite attempting twelve jump shots. TWELVE! He converted five of the twelve attempts, so it could've been worse, but at no point is it a good idea for that number to continue in the next 6 games. Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce played to a hapless draw as Johnson shot 3 of 15 (including a ghastly 0 of 9 on threes) while Pierce shot just 5 of 19. One of the big keys to the series is Johnson playing at least close to a draw with Pierce, and despite his horrendous shooting night, Pierce bailed him out. The Larry Drew experience had its ups and downs last night, as he played Jason Collins 32 minutes (huh?), went to an all-bench lineup twice that was murdered both times, and couldn't generate a positive offensive possession for the first 7 minutes of the 2nd half. All that said, Collins actually worked out (small sample size alert), and the Hawks didn't do the "Hawks" thing and blow a double-digit 4th quarter lead. The huge question going forward (no, I'm not worried about Kevin Garnett) is whether Rajon Rondo will be suspended for game 2 after bumping an official. I think it's fairly cut and dry and "contact with an official" is an automatic 1-game suspension. There's no disputing that there was contact, and this is a huge break for the Hawks, as Rondo is the Celtics' best player, and with no Ray Allen (potentially), they are very, very thin in the backcourt. Nice win.
  • NBA Check - Memphis led by 27 points the second half last night against the Clippers... and lost by 1. In one of the crazier collapses/comebacks in playoff history, the Grizz led by 21 to start the fourth quarter before LAC went on a 26-1 run and ultimately stole the game. There was a barrage of Nick Young threes (finishing with 19 points and a crazy +28), the typically masterful Chris Paul play, the emergence of Reggie Evans (who took Zach Randolph completely away), and even Blake Griffin making free throws late. Insane game. I'd still pick Memphis to win the series (they are the better team) but it'll be interesting to see how they bounce back. In the other action, the Lakers and Spurs both cruised to 15-point victories. Andrew Bynum had a triple-double (with 10 blocks) to lead LA and Tony Parker posted 28 points and 8 assists to lead the Spurs. Don't worry, the old men were around too, as Kobe had 31 for LA and Tim Duncan put up 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs. Chalk.
  • One final NBA note, I'm a day late here, but Derrick Rose tore his ACL on Saturday and will miss the rest of the season, and the Olympics. This is obviously a crushing blow for the Bulls, as he's the reigning MVP and by far their best player. This opens the door widely for Miami in the East, as there's pretty much no scenario where Chicago could beat them without Rose. Horrible spot for Rose, and you never want to see one of the league's stars on the shelf.
  • MLB Check - The Braves won another game with a 4-3 win over Pittsburgh in the return of Tim Hudson. Huddy wasn't especially sharp, but did navigate 5 innings, allowing 2 runs, and even striking out 6. Martin Prado homered for the Braves who had 7 hits, and drew an impressive 6 walks on the day. Matt Garza threw 7 innings of 1-hit ball with 10 K's for the Cubs as they got a rare road win in Philadelphia 5-1. David Price led the Rays to a win in Texas and it was the first win of Price's career against the Rangers. More importantly, however, Josh Hamilton left the game with a back issue and while he's considered day-to-day, it can't be ignored with a guy like Hamilton who has his injury history. And finally, the red-hot Dodgers got 6.2 IP of shut-out ball with 9 K's from Chris Capuano and took down the Nationals 2-0. That win put the Braves into a share of 1st in the NL East, and while that is totally irrelevant in April, it's fun to see. 
What to watch for on Monday...
  • NBA - Knicks @ Heat - 7:00 TNT - Game 2 here, and after Miami's decimation in Game 1, the Knicks need to show up or everyone will collectively turn their brains off to this series.
  • MLB - Pirates @ Braves - 7:00 SportSouth - McDonald vs. Minor - Wrapping up the series with a chance to take 3 of 4 from Pittsburgh with Philly arriving tomorrow. 
  • MLB - Rangers @ Blue Jays - 7:00 ESPN - Darvish vs. Drabek - Here's a fun game, try to figure out how many different pitches Yu Darvish throws. 
  • NBA - Magic @ Pacers - 7:30 NBA-TV - Easily the least compelling series, but since Orlando stole Game 1, it's suddenly a lot more interesting.
  • NBA - Mavs @ Thunder - 9:30 TNT - I honestly can't wait to see what happens here after the buzzer-beater win in game one, and this series has all the makings of the "5 to-the-wire games in 7" type of series. 

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