Friday, April 12, 2002

Stephen A. Smith covers the (expected) news regarding Iverson's broken hand... Phil Jasner reveals Coach Brown's continued insistence that Allen will not return until the doctors say he can... I don't have a good feeling about this whole situation. Brown is still up in the air about returning next season. Some of the local media (read: Howard Eskin of WIP) actually believe the Sixers are playing better team ball with Iverson out of the lineup. Never mind the fact that the last 10 games have been pretty unwatchable. How's this for a worse case scenario: Brown thinks about trading Iverson this summer, and then decides its time for him to ride off into the sunset, dooming the Sixers to lottery-land for the next decade... Jasner also questions those who think the Sixers are still the team to beat in the East, since, in his opinion, they do not resemble last year's team whatsoever... Frank Fitzpatrick warns that the new ballpark will not be the cure-all for the Phillies attendance woes.

Joel Sherman says the weight of the (Red Sox) world is on Pedro's shoulders... Peter Vescey says the Bucks are fading fast (where has he been?), while also taking a "wait and see" attitude regarding the (Replica) Nets playoff hopes... The Knicks predictably lost, in overtime, at home, last night, thus adding a few more ping ping balls to their lottery chances, while Charles Oakley says the Garden faithful won't put up with such mediocrity for long... Fred Kerber covers last night's fairly entertaining (at least the 4th quarter and overtime) Nets-Magic game. Note to all those in the media (and you know who you are) who were proclaiming this game a "possible second round preview": How about you let both of these teams actually win a playoff round first, OK? Phil Mushnick still hates everybody, especially Charles Barkley.

Peter May continues covering Chris Wallace's ongoing recruiting efforts toward free-agent-to-be Rodney Rogers... Mark Cofman reports that Jim O'Brien is still hopeful of catching the Piston's for the 2nd best record in the East, while "defending" the "ugly child" of a game that was played the other night. Apparently, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, unless, of course, you are a TNT executive...

Mark Montieth says that Jermaine O'Neal is stepping up to the plate as far as assuming his leadership on the young Pacers squad, while Bob Kravitz begins to openly question whether Reggie Miller will have to "pull a Ray Bourque" into order to win a ring... Jalen Rose and Travis Best appear to be getting the last laugh as the Pacers struggle to make the playoffs... Michael Hunt says the Bucks must win tonight at Conseco Fieldhouse... Bill Simmons with a completely entertaining, side-splitting commentary on the NBA in general, and thinks the Sixers still have a "Road Still Goes Through Us In The East" status as the playoffs approach... And finally, today's concluding link is a preview to the upcoming Attack of the Clones, which, having seen the trailers, I think has the potential (minus the hype) to be the best Star Wars movie yet.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Stephen A. Smith recaps last night's lost to the Wizards, a game in which after storming back from a 17-point deficit on the second night of a back-to-back situation, the Sixers were subsequently held scoreless during the game's final 4:43. Meanwhile, the Wizards went on a game-ending 13-0 run, which spoiled Eric Snow's career-high 26 points... Phil Jasner catches Larry Brown lamenting "you can't win when four starters play like they played," totalling an inexcusable 18 points and 18 rebounds, while last year's Sixth Man of the Year Aaron McKie managed 24 points... I'm actually not disappointed about the loss. Second nights of back-to-backs are always tough, especially for a team that resembles a M*A*S*H unit more than an NBA team. Besides, with 4 games left to go, the Sixers are tied with the Hornets for the 5th seed (Sixers hold the tie-breaker by virtue of winning the season series 3-1). A win last night would have made a first-round match-up with Orlando a strong possibility. An opening round against the Magic is still possible, unless the Sixers drop a few of their final games while Larry Brown rests some of his key players before preparing for their post-season run... Today is "D-Day" as far as removing the cast on AI's broken hand. We should find out what chances, if any, Iverson has of returning before the regular season ends, or whether he will even be ready to go in the first round. Brown reiterated "that Iverson will not resume playing until he is medically cleared." Expect this situation to come to a head today when the doctors remove the cast and reveal their findings...

Tim Panaccio thinks the Flyers did themselves a favor by losing to the Devils last night, and Sam Donnellon agrees last night's loss in a "tossup of a game" is no big deal... The New York Post reports that real Knicks fans will be rooting for the Bulls tonight, thus increasing the Knick's ping-pong ball lottery chances...

Steve Bulpett says it "hurt to watch" last night's "root canal" of a game, which Antoine Walker labeled as the C's response to "psychic" Jim O'Brien's demand for a "perfect defensive game." Shira Springer writes that the "ugly, ugly" game shows that the C's were 'displaying playoff focus,' while Paul Pierce recognizes that the defensive pressure he faced last night against the Heat will become par for the course come playoff time...Peter May notes the irony of Pat Riley's 19 consecutive playoff appearances officially coming to and end "in a city and to a team that tormented Riley for so long," while also delivering the parting shot that the C's "should avoid asking Riley about the benefits of" having home-court advantage (ouch!)...Riley also "Boston is giong to be one of the teams that teams are going to have to worry about in this [Eastern] conference." It's no secret that Riley's teams have often led the league in defense. In fact, having witnessed, in person, hundreds of Sixers games coached by Larry Brown, I believe there is a strong possibility that the two will eventually co-author a book entitled How to Win in the NBA by Outscoring the Opponent 2-0... The C's still have an outside chance of overtaking the Pistons for the Eastern Conference's 2nd best record (and the potential home court advantage in later playoff rounds that would accompany it). They will pretty much have to run the table, and the Pistons would have to drop 3 of their last 4 however...

Mark Montieth covers last night's Pacers game, which snapped the Raptors 9 game winning streak, and kept the Pacers playoff hopes alive... The Indy Star talks with Donnie Walsh, who says patience is needed during the Pacers current rebuilding efforts, while C. Jemal Horton says the Pacers don't deserve to make the playoffs and that the team should just be blown up this summer... Michael Hunt covers a lackluster effort by Milwaukee against the Cavs... With games remaining against Indiana, Charlotte, Toronto, and Detroit (all playoff contenders), the Bucks are currently riding a 10-game losing streak on the road. Despite holding the tie-breakers over both Toronto and Indiana, I predict that the Bucks will be the odd team out, especially if (when) they lose at Conseco Fieldhouse on Friday...

The countdown begins to see how long it will take before Dave's Sporting News makes this Top Ten List of most visited sports sites... ESPN hosted an interesting chat with David Eldridge, who thinks the Sixers could still be the team to beat in the East, especially if a well-rested Iverson gets hot. Great quote (for all you Jason Kidd and Jerry Stackhouse fans): "Teams that win in the playoffs generally are teams that have been in the playoffs before." CNNSI.com bids farewell to the NBA on NBC (along with its theme song). Am I the only one thinking "good riddance"?... Here are this week's Power Rankings on CNNSI.com... Marty Burns reveals his choice for league MVP, while the league's PR staff begins to prime its audience for the coronation of its new MVP by comparing Jason Kidd to Oscar Robertson. Am I the only win sickened by that comparison?... David Stern reveals his "extraordinary disappointment" with the inevitable move by the Hornets out of Charlotte... And in today's unique link of the day: In honor of the looming April 15 tax deadline, in case you think the U.S. tax code is bad, imagine living in ancient Sumeria. Kinda puts the current wage tax debate in City Council in perspective...

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

First of all, I'd like to start out by thanking (or blaming, take your pick) my brother for keeping me up until 1 in the morning last night, working on the new site logo... Mark Narducci and Phil Jasner cover last night's huge win over the Bucks... I swear this game was like deja vu all over again... Larry Brown notes that the Bucks' players aren't at 100% and that they've been dealing with injuries all year (Can you imagine George Karl doing the same last year? I didn't think so.) Karl predictably complains about the officiating... Random thought of the day: Hasn't Karl ever heard of "go for the tie at home, for the win on the road"? Just wondering... Also, the Bucks are so enamored by their outside shooting, that when Anthony Mason grabbed the offensive rebound with seconds to go in the game, he kicked it out to Tim Thomas for an off-balance rushed shot. Meanwhile, Ray Allen was left virtually unguarded less than 10 feet from the basket, since three Sixer defenders were (unsuccessfully) trying to pull down the rebound. All I can say is thank goodness they won this game, or I was going to have to break out the old college calculus books in order to figure out who would have won the 4th tie breaker... ESPN's Ric Bucher says the Bucks are buckling under the pressure... Eric Snow gets a compliment from my least favorite NBA player...

Sam Donnellon says the Flyers are becoming the NHL's Boston Red Sox...Phil Sheridan and Les Bowen tell Jeremiah Trotter's side of the story... Funny, I have a hard time feeling sorry for a guy who had 6 weeks to sign a $5 million-plus contract because he felt "unappreciated" or because his signing bonus check wouldn't have enough zeroes...

Someone pinch me, please. I must still be trapped in a parallel universe. I just read Fred Kerber say that the New Jersey Nets won the Atlantic Division... Back to the parallel universe theory, I recall being on an Amtrak train last summer when I got the news of the Marbury-Kidd trade. I swear just moments prior to that, I must have gotten caught in some mysterious Bizarro time warp to wake up to that headline this morning... Mark Hale makes the case for Jason Kidd's MVP candidacy. Air sickness bags are located in the seat pocket in front of you for those of you who are made ill by that thought... Kerber also notes that Jason Kidd says "the sky's the limit" as far as the Nets post-season chances are concerned... Someone remind me again about how many NBA Finals appearances the Suns made during the Jason Kidd era?... Marc Berman summarizes Patrick Ewing's curtain call at the Garden last night. Classiest coaching moment of this season: Doc Rivers putting Ewing into the starting lineup and then re-inserting Ewing back into the game with just under a minute remaining so that the Garden faithful could seranade him with a final "Pat-rick Ew-ing! Pat-rick Ew-ing" farewell... Paul Schwartz notes that Ewing's final Garden appearance is a painful reminder, especially since the Garden will be closed for spring cleaning in a few weeks...

Peter May talks about Paul Pierce's chances of being the first (!) Celtic to lead the league in total points scored... Mark Cofman previews tonight's nationally televised game against the Heat, and notes that the C's have sold roughly 1,500 playoff strips. Two of those purchases were made by my dad, who I will be accompanying to the FleetCenter, if the Sixers meet the C's in the first round. I have not promised him I will leave my Iverson jersey at home... hehehe

The Raptors won their franchise-record 9th game in a row last night, and are quickly becoming The Team Nobody Wants To Face In The First Round, while Vince Carter is finally accepting the fact he will not return this year, no matter how deep the Raptors make it in the playoffs... ESPN's Dan Patrick begins asking the unquestionable about the Raptors, and says that Vince Carter is no Allen Iverson (ouch!)... Mike Branom makes the case for T-Mac being this year's MVP... The Hornets' management sinks to new lows in order to further their bid to move to New Orleans... Bob Kravitz begins questioning Isiah Thomas' inability to get the Pacers into the playoffs despite their youth...Jim Caple with an enteraining Page 2 article codifying sport's "unwritten rules." I believe Matt Geiger excelled the most at #4... And finally, under the category of "Just Plain Disturbing" is this Daily News headline and article...

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Marc Narducci quotes Iverson as saying the obvious, that if it's up to him and not the doctors, he'll be back before the playoffs start...Phil Jasner says there's a fine line between Iverson's being heroic and foolish....Jasner also finds George Karl lamenting his team's injuries this year, something he complained about the Sixers doing throughout last year's Eastern Conference finals...

Tim Panaccio declares the Billy Tibbetts era is over for the Flyers...Rich Hofmann says Bobby Clarke has no PR skills, as demonstrated by the whole Tibbetts affair...Les Bowen writes that now will be the time for Barry Gardner to step up big time to fill the loss created by Jeremiah Trotter's departure, while Paul Domowitch reports that Trotter's agent believes the Eagles were just trying to "screw" his client all along...

Peter Vescey says the Knicks are nuts if they don't can Chaney in the off-season...Marc Berman talks about Patrick Ewing's likely final appearance at the Garden tonight...Dan Martin says the Nets aren't a bit worried abouting dropping 3 out of 4 to the C's this season...Shira Springer states that the C's have already sold 1,200 full playoff strips, and provides adequate coverage of last night's loss to the Bulls, while Steve Bulpett attempts to explain away the loss as a bad combination of jet lag and eastern daylight savings time...Bulpett also reports that the league failed to levy any additional penalties following the skirmishes in Sunday night's game, another example of unexplainable (in)action by the league's injustice department (Jason Collins, at the very minimum, deserved a required donation to his favorite NBA charity)...

Mark Montieth writes about Brad Miller's admission that an act of God is required for the Pacers to still make the playoffs...Michael Hunt laments the Bucks' 1-9 record thus far on national TV...Michael Malone discovers that NBA players get really quiet when asked certain controversial questions...and finally, in today's random link of the day category, we have some classic George Carlin (thanks to my dad for providing that one).

Monday, April 08, 2002

Stephen A. Smith covers yesterday's huge win over the Bucks... He quotes from Iverson's interview with NBC's Andrea Joyce, when Allen expressed optimism about being able to play in the season finale against the Pacers... Phil Jasner believes Iverson will not be allowed to return until at least the regular season in over. Expect a mini-controversy to break out over this sometime this weekend when Iverson declares himself 'ready to go' and the Sixers shut him down... John Smallwood with a very predictable 'oh how the might have fallen' revisit of yesterday's Sixers-Bucks contest.

Funny thing about yesterday's game, I was originally going to write that NBC should apologize to its viewers for subjecting them to that game. That was before it turned into a very entertaining 4th quarter. I still have one complaint with NBC. The way nationally televised games are so orchestrated, including a scorer's table cue to the officials that tells them when they can inbound the ball, to the ridiculously long timeouts (a few yesterday approached 4 minutes), they kill any momentum generated by the home team. Maybe I should just be thankful this is NBC's curtain call and hope that the few games that will be televised on ABC starting next year won't follow the same pattern. Also, while on the subject of TV timeouts, the NBA really needs to abandon the "mandatory officials time out" that occurs with the first dead ball under the 8:59 marks in the 2nd and 4th quarters. This unnecesary time out seriously drains the flow of many games. Six timeouts for each team should provide for sufficient stoppages of play to air all of Kobe Bryant's annoying ads to their target demographic audience.

Also, yesterday's game was a near must-win for the Sixers, who are precariously holding onto the 6th seed in the East. Had they lost at home yesterday, they would have needed to win on the road in Milwaukee in order to muster a tie in the head-to-head matchups against the Bucks. As it is, if they lose tomorrow, the teams will have split the regular season series 2-2. If that happens, every game becomes critical for both teams. If they end up with matching records, they will also end up with matching conference records (since all of their remaining games are against Eastern conference opponents), which means the 4th tie-breaker would actually be the deciding factor, which is record against playoff opponents in the Eastern Conference.

Claire Smith chimes in on the latest controversy over the Eagles essentially releasing Jeremiah Trotter... Rich Hofmann thinks it just might be about the money, despite the Eagles' spin to the contrary.

Steve Bulpett declares that "the fun is back" as the C's look forward to playoff rivalries... Bulpett also catches Byron Scoot reminiscing about the good ol' days... Kevin Kernan believes the C's have the Nets number... Fred Kerber covers the verbal war started last night between Antoine Walker and Byron Scott... Phil Mushnick hates everybody.

Mark Montieth says that the Pacer's immaturity and youth could cost them a playoff berth. Yesterday's loss to the Raptors assures them of losing the head-to-head tie-breaker for the 8th and final spot, meaning they will have to make up 2 games against Toronto if they are to squeeze into the playoffs...Michael Hunt catches Anthony Mason in one of his familiar post-game rants after yesterday's loss to the Sixers.