Thursday, March 14, 2013

3/14: Heat, Hawks/Lakers, etc.


  • The Miami Heat have 20 consecutive NBA basketball games. There's not a ton of analysis to their 98-94 road win in Philly, but I just wanted to state that they've won twenty games in a row. Lebron James had 27 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds last night, while Dwyane Wade added 21 points, but the story is the streak. 
  • In the wildest game of the night, the Hawks knocked off the Lakers by a 96-92 margin. Normally, Atlanta winning a home-game by 4 points over a middling Western Conference team wouldn't be a big story (or any story at all). The exception here is that a) LA is the most (or 2nd-most behind Miami) talked-about team in the league, b) they are playing much, much better, and c) the Hawks won the game without Josh Smith, Jeff Teague, Zaza Pachulia, and Deshawn Stevenson. Atlanta held LA to under 40% shooting on the night, including a 11-33 barrage from Kobe Bryant, and out-rebounded the Dwight-led Lakers by a 52-45 margin. There were multiple "winners" from this night on the Hawks side. Al Horford was tremendous (as always), setting the tone energy-wise (with visible aggression and even a technical foul) and putting up 14 points and 14 rebounds in 41 crucial minutes. Devin Harris went tit-for-tat with Kobe Bryant at times in the second half, and took on the scorer's role with 17 points, and the sharp-shooting duo of Kyle Korver and John Jenkins combined to shoot 9-18 FG with 5-10 3-PT to aid in the win. The biggest national story (sadly) is the last play where Kobe Bryant went down with a severely sprained ankle after landing on Dahntay Jones. I'll say this: this wouldn't be a story except for the fact that Kobe went crazy afterwards (media and otherwise) and if the two players didn't have a history. I have no idea what Jones was thinking, but it didn't look as bad to me as it did to Kobe. At any rate, what a great win. 
  • Wide receiver shuffle! Wes Welker did the almost-unthinkable yesterday... and signed with Peyton Manning and the Broncos. The jarring part about this move is that he only got 2 years and $12 million, which seems unfathomably easy to match if you're New England, but Welker made his decision and that's going to be the best receiving corps in the league next year with Thomas and Decker. For the Pats, they didn't wait long before inking Danny Amendola to a 5-year, $31 million ($10 mill guaranteed). Amendola is basically as close as you can get to a Welker skill set, but he's oft-injured and certainly a downgrade. I don't really get this one for New England. 
  • College Basketball season is in full swing as the conference tournaments ramp up. There were no upsets yesterday (and the big guns don't start until today), but there's something crazy special about the madness... and it's here, folks.
What to watch for on Thursday...
  • Noon - NCAAB - Big East Quarterfinal - Cincinnati vs. #5 Georgetown (ESPN) - This is kind of an awesome Noon game. Georgetown is a really, really intriguing team, and Otto Porter is a beast. That said, the pace they play at lends itself to close games, so everything is interesting.
  • 2:00 - NCAAB - Big East Quarterfinal - #19 Syracuse vs. #17 Pittsburgh (ESPN) - Both teams are even better than their ranking, and each could really use a deep tourney run. Best game of the day IMO.
  • 2:30 - NCAAB - Big 10 First Round - Penn State vs. #6 Michigan (BTN) - This is my personal guarantee that Michigan isn't losing to Penn State twice in a row. Mark that down. 
  • 3:00 - NCAAB - Big 12 Quarterfinal - Texas Tech vs. #7 Kansas (ESPN2) - Should be a cruising victory and a spot in the Semis for Kansas.
  • 7:00 - NCAAB - Big East Quarterfinal - Villanova vs. #4 Louisville (ESPN) - Everyone seems to think that Louisville is head and shoulders above the rest of the league. I don't buy in to that yet, and this is a chance to start.
  • 8:00 - NBA - Mavs @ Spurs (TNT) - The NBA takes the backseat for the next few weeks with Madness on the horizon, but a Texas battle is always fun, even when Dallas is struggling.
  • 9:00 - NCAAB - Big East Quarterfinal - #24 Notre Dame vs. #12 Marquette (ESPN) - Two "lock" tourney teams squaring off in prime time. I'll take it.
  • 10:30 - NBA - Knicks @ Blazers (TNT) - The Knicks are a mess right now, with Melo hobbling and points at a severe premium. A road back-to-back to Portland isn't ever pleasant, and the Blazers are 20-11 at home this season despite their poor record. Good luck to the Knicks.

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