Wednesday, March 13, 2013

3/13: Miami Rolls, Free Agency, etc.

Greetings! Let's go.

  • The Miami Heat won their 19th consecutive game last night, downing the hometown Atlanta Hawks 98-81. The scariest thing about this game is that, for the second straight outing, Lebron James was held "in check" with 15/7/7 and the Heat still dominated throughout. They forced 22 turnovers by the Hawks and created 27 points off of those turnovers to use as the X-factor in the win. Dwyane Wade led all scorers with 23 points, and he's playing at a really high level right now. Next on the docket for Miami? A 5-game road trip... which sounds imposing, but the only "quality" opponent is Boston.
  • NFL Free Agency is in full swing, so let's recap the big deals from day #1. In the biggest hometown move, Tony Gonzalez announced that he was returning for another year with the Falcons and spurning retirement. This isn't the "impact" move of some of the others across the league, but it's huge news for Atlanta, who needed him as their #3 receiving threat in a big way. All-in for the Super Bowl. Mike Wallace headlined the day by agreeing to a 5-year, $65 million deal with Miami, and the Dolphins suddenly have locked up two receivers (their own guy in Brian Hartline being the other) to massive deals. No more excuses for Ryan Tannehill in his second year. Danell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger are leaving the champion Ravens. Ellerbe joins Wallace in Miami for a 5-year, $35 million deal, and Kruger is headed to Cleveland for 5 years, $40 million. The crazy thing about those deals is that neither guy was even a full-time starter for an average Baltimore defense. Exposure does wonders. Finally, Martellus Bennett is headed to Chicago on a 4-year deal worth a reported $20 million. I've always been in the tank for Bennett, and he now gets a headlining offensive role in Chicago as the #2 pass target (after Brandon Marshall).
  • Dwight Howard returned to Orlando for the first time in an LA uniform last night... and promptly tied his own NBA record for free-throw attempts with 39. Jacque Vaughn decided to implement "Hack-a-Dwight", but it failed on this night, as Howard converted 25 of his 39 attempts (64%) in finishing with 39 points and 16 rebounds. It was a spectacle in Orlando, but Dwight seemed to actually raise his level in this one, and LA looked good. 
  • There were also some semi-surprising cuts in the NFL yesterday. Philly shipped Nnamdi Asomugha out, ending the "Dream Team" (lol) run once and for all. What a shame. The biggest shock, however, was that Buffalo parted ways with starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. This is a wild one because it seems like yesterday that the Bills were locking him up to that huge, long-term deal, and this cut leaves them with only Tarvaris Jackson on the roster. Is this the landing spot for Geno Smith? 
What to watch for on Wednesday...
  • Noon - NCAAB - Big East Tournament 2nd Round - Cincinnati vs. Providence (ESPN) - There are very few things better than a Noon tip at the Garden. This is awesome. 
  • 2:00 - NCAAB - Big East Tournament 2nd Round - #19 Syracuse vs. Seton Hall (ESPN) - Syracuse needs to make a mini-run in the tournament to re-establish themselves in a big way. 
  • 7:00 - MLB - Braves @ Marlins (Fox Sports South) - Spring training! They'll be no shortage of baseball to watch in the next 7 months...
  • 7:00 - NCAAB - Big East Tournament 2nd Round - St. John's vs. Villanova (ESPN2) - 'Nova is probably in the tournament right now, but they can't afford an early exit.
  • 7:30 - NBA - Lakers @ Hawks (SportSouth) - Both teams are on a back-to-back here, but coming off very different results. Atlanta will also be without Zaza Pachulia, so we're sure to see Johan Petro deployed on Dwight Howard. That should be fun. 
  • 8:00 - NBA - Jazz @ Thunder (ESPN) - Utah needs every win they can get, but this isn't that spot. Good luck. 
  • 9:00 - NCAAB - Big East Tournament 2nd Round - Rutgers vs. #24 Notre Dame (ESPN2) - The night cap at MSG. 
  • 10:30 - NBA - Knicks @ Nuggets (ESPN) - New York's prize after scoring 63 points in Golden State the other night? A road trip to Denver!

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