Monday, April 8, 2013

4/8: Title Game Preview, etc.

Greetings! Let's get to it...

  • The LA Clippers have won their first Pacific Division championship... in history. In fitting fashion, the Clips knocked off the Lakers 109-95 yesterday to grab the division title, and they were led by 24/12's from Chris Paul (assists) and Blake Griffin (boards). Obviously, division titles don't mean a whole lot in the NBA, but when you haven't won a single one in decades? It's a story. 
  • Elsewhere in the Association, the Knicks won their 12th consecutive game with a 125-120 road win over Oklahoma City. New York is unconscious at the moment, and they are led by Carmelo Anthony who went for 36 more points (on 29 shots lol) yesterday, to bring his 4-game total to 167 points (41.8 per game). Insanity. I still don't believe in the Knicks as a legit threat to Miami, but if they shoot/score at this rate, they are scary. 
  • The Atlanta Braves hit a snag on Sunday, as starting 1B Freddie Freeman was tabbed to the DL with a strained oblique. This seems pretty standard on paper, but the amount of coverage to Freeman's reaction is pretty startling. Apparently (as reported by Mark Bowman), Freeman was extremely unhappy to be placed on the DL and voiced his displeasure. I'm personally okay with this because it shows the kind of fight he's got, and I don't think he'd cross a line of defiance with it either. Nonetheless, Atlanta will be without one of their premium left-handed bats, and we'll see a lot of Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco at the corners over the next two weeks. 
  • MLB Round-up! The Braves got 5-1 victory over Chicago on Sunday afternoon to move to an NL-best 5-1 on the season. Tim Hudson threw 6.2 innings of 1-run ball, and Ramiro Pena had a huge, bases-loaded double in the 6th inning to blow things open. Will Middlebrooks launched 3 home runs in Boston's 13-0 drubbing of Toronto yesterday, and hit a 4th ball to the warning track in the process. 3-HR games are pretty rare, especially these days, so big-ups to him. Yu Darvish and Jered Weaver each departed early from their face-off last night with small injuries. Darvish left after 5 innings with a blister, and Weaver strained his left (non-pitching elbow) in the 6th. Neither guy was particularly good in the Rangers' 7-3 win, but it's important that both guys are on the mound going forward for their respective AL contenders. 
What to watch for on Monday...
  • 7:00 - MLB - Braves @ Marlins (SportSouth) - Paul Maholm vs. Kevin Slowey - I'm all-in on Maholm this year, and I think he lights up that weak Miami lineup here. 
  • 7:00 - MLB - Mets @ Phillies (ESPN) - Matt Harvey vs. Roy Halladay - Harvey is electric, but the story will be how Halladay throws. He was awful all Spring and in his first start, and the clock is ticking. 
And a special section for this... 
  • National Championship Game - Louisville vs. Michigan (CBS, 9:23 PM) - My Michigan Wolverines are playing for the National Title, and they're doing so in the city that I call home. On paper, Louisville looks like a juggernaut, but the Wolverines actually match-up remarkably well with the #1-seed Cardinals. Remember the vaunted VCU press that Michigan destroyed? I wouldn't say that it is the same system/personnel, but Michigan is equipped with multiple quality ball-handlers to avoid pressure, and shooters to make Louisville pay for over-pressing. On the interior, Mitch McGary is playing out of his mind, and he'll face off with Gorgui Dieng in a must-see spot. I think the key for Michigan is keeping Siva and Smith out of the paint, as well as getting a net-positive from guys like Robinson III and Stauskas. Trey Burke will certainly need to be better than he's been for the entirety of the tournament (sans the 2nd-half against Kansas, where he was outrageous), and it's going to be a fun one. One final note? Jalen Rose has taken to the air in begging Chris Webber to make an appearance with the Fab Five, and I'd pay money to see it. Come on, Chris.

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