Saturday, April 20, 2002

Phil Jasner says the Sixers chances in the playoffs are a 'clear case of uncertainty,' and provides his breakdown of the series... John Smallwood says the upcoming series "could be the start of a whole new rivalry." Dick Jerardi breaks down his keys to the series... The Daily News reveals the series predictions of Jasner, Smallwood, Jerardi, and the Boston Globe's Peter May... Bill Lyon recalls his younger days in journalism, when he covered the great Sixers-Celtics matchups in the '80s... Steve Bulpett says Antoine Walker and the rest of the C's will be slapping away at Iverson's hand, prompting DC to respond that "before the game is over, he'll find out" which thumb of Walker's is sore (hint to DC: it's his left)... Iverson says he expects a lot of physical contact, causing Brown to wonder if this series would look more like the WWF than the NBA (can you tell, the magic's back?)... Interesting stories told on WIP over the past few days. One involved Red Auerbach running into Mo Cheeks in recent years, and dissing him in front of a WIP radio personality ("I ain't talkin' to that bleepin' bleepity-bleep! He's a Sixer!" Classic Red.) Another humorous anecdote that was related was that a certain contingent of current Sixers fans "don't accept" Gerald Henderson (a regular on post-game wrap-ups on Comcast Sportsnet), since he was a Celtic in the '80s. Is there any doubt that by the time this series concludes the rivalry will be in full swing?

Peter May recounts the last time the C's were playing in early May, Shaq "shut down the Boston Garden" (funny, I've never forgiven Shaq for his arrogant quote back then either). Some historical perspective: Rick Fox, now Shaq's teammate, was a Celtic back then... In a particularly scathing piece, Ron Borges writes that it's fairly obvious Rick Pitino was the problem all along (ouch!) Donnie Walsh responds to some comments Larry Bird made earlier this week to a Globe reporter... Mark Montieth says you can never count out the Pacers as long as Reggie is playing. Ironically, as I write this en route to New England for tomorrow's Game 1, I just got a cell phone text message that the Nets have been knocked off by the Pacers. I smell upset... Speaking of this series, C. Jemal Horton looks forward to the matchup between Ron Don't Call Me Crazy Artest and K-Mart (am I the only one just waiting for the sparks to fly between these two?)

Bill Walton answers reader's email and says his "dream matchup" (and NBC nightmare I might add) would be the Nets and Kings in the Finals... Dr. Jack Ramsay participated in a chat on ESPN.com earlier this week, revealing his loyalty to son-in-law Jim O'Brien... Bill Simmons plays "Survivor: The NBA Playoffs Edition," predicting a Celtics-Lakers Finals (he wants NBC to bring back the CBS music from the '80s and all)... Dan Shanoff's Page 2 article reveals what's hot and what's not this year for the NBA playoffs... David Fleming says that no amount of sideline goodies can cure that sick-to-his-stomach feeling that George Karl must be feeling right about now... Peter May says the Nets, Pistons, and Celtics all have the Phoenix Suns to thank for their quick rise to the Eastern elite. Frank Hughes doesn't think those two words can be used in the same sentence, as revealed in his fairly predictable "The East can't possibly beat the Big Bad West" article. I hate to admit it, but I think the prognosticators are going to be right again this year. The best chance I thought the Lakers had of being knocked off is if they managed to lose home court beyond the first round (in other words, by finishing with the 3rd best record in the West, or worse). Since they tied the Spurs for the 2nd best record, and hold the tie-breaker over them, they will have home court against everybody but the Kings. Sorry, but C-Webb and the rest of Adelman's boys just look like deer in the headlights of the Lakers semi... And finally, for more bad news, the Washington Redskins, division rivals of the Eagles, sign recently banished Jeremiah Trotter.

Friday, April 19, 2002

Despite the excitement of the past couple of days (and perhaps because of), I wasn't able to do the links yesterday. A busy day at work, and even busier time preparing to cover the upcoming series between the legendary rivals Sixers and Celtics (NBC officials must have been foaming at the mouth hoping for this one), and finishing touches on rebuilding the new web server, all conspired to make posting yesterday an impossibility. What do they say, good things are worth waiting for? Well then, let's get down to business. Onto the links!

First of all, here's the schedule for the opening round of the playoffs. Strange thing, yesterday morning when this was first posted, the Lakers-Blazers games were all scheduled for 4/29. A playoff doubleheader or tripleheader, that would be a first... Ashley McGeachy Fox (apparently she's been married since we last read...) recounts the bumps and bruises the Sixers have overcome during this injury-filled season... Claire Smith says injuries shouldn't necessarily prevent the Sixers from advancing in the post-season... Marc Narducci reports on the Celtics' surprising rise in the East, and warns that the Sixers defeating the C's 3-1 in the regular season series "might create a false sense of security"... Todd Zolecki says that Aaron McKie is looking forward to adding another chapter to the storied history between these two franchises... Stephen A. Smith offers his (somewhat) surprising prediction that the Sixers (if they are healthy, big if) will meet the Lakers in the Finals, and lose in six (more "Lakers will win it all" links will follow, below)... Smith also talks about the Hornets' success amid distractions this year... Marc Narducci also covers the (wake me up when they win a round) Nets' surprising turn-around this season... Phil Jasner reminds us once more that the Sixers fell short of home court advantage by one game, for the 3rd straight year for those who are counting... John Smallwood wonders if the Sixers will live up to the expectations of the NBA's playoff-theme ad... The Daily News offers up first-round playoff predictions... It also provided this recap of the regular season matchups between the 76ers and C's... There's also this look at the history of matchups between these two rivals in the playoffs. On the flip side, Steve Bulpett provides his series preview... Shira Springer talks about Jim O'Brien's entertaining post-game comments, prior to knowing the C's would be facing the Sixers... There's no question who Larry Bird will be rooting for... It's hard to believe it's been 17 years since these two met in the playoffs. For perspective, Charles Barkley was a rookie at the time (1985)... Bruce Allen makes his debut with his coverage of this rivalry...

Mark Cofman reports that Vitaly Potapenko will miss the first round of the playoffs with a slighly tear in his ACL, and that Jim O'Brien is planning to see Iverson on the court on Sunday at the FleetCenter... Some are speculating that Larry Brown and the doctors might try and convince Iverson to sit on Sunday, thinking that, since the first round series schedule is so spaced out (thanks to NBC), Iverson could get another week of rest and healing by sitting out. Bad idea. In a short, 5-game series, every game is crucial. In fact, since the 5-game first round series format was instituted, 80% of the teams that won Game 1 went on to win the series, compared to 75% of the teams that had home court advantage. Thus, winning the first game is, statistically speaking, more important than having home court for the series (of course, it's easier to win that game if it's on your home court, but that's beside the point). Iverson at 50% is still better than anybody else the Sixers would throw out on the court in his absence... Last night on WIP, Steve Fredericks reported receiving a fax from the Sixers that Iverson was being fitted with a soft cast that he might wear, should it be deemed necessary and/or advisable by the team's medical staff... This morning, an interesting thing happened around 10 on WIP. Usually, as "Angelo and Company" end their broadcast, the producer always plays a snippet of Johnny Most's call of the "Havlicek stole the ball" clip. Actually, they only play the part where Most said "It's all over! It's all over!" They've been using it for years to signify the end of their show (though I've always found it curiously strange for them to use an infamous call by the play-by-play guy from a long-time bitter rival, but I digress), this morning Anthony and Glen told Angelo he should stop using that clip for at least the next week. It seemed like that was the plan, but as they went off the air, you still heard Johnny Most's gravelly voice. If the Sixers lose, we can now officially blame Angelo and Company for jinxing them...

Marv Albert and Mike Fratello were injured in an accident when the limo they were taking from Philadelphia International struck a disabled truck. Apparently, they hopped aboard the Sixers' charter flight after their final game at Conseco Fieldhouse. The injuries don't appear to be too serious, if you don't count the NBC audience being subjected to Bob Costas as a replacement for Albert this weekend... Rich Hofmann believes it will take a total team effort for the Flyers to beat the Senators. In other words, they shouldn't rely on Cechmanek to save their butts like he did in Game 1, in which the Flyers were pretty much outplayed for the first 60 minutes. By the way, Comcast Sportsnet was the first to note (during their broadcast) that Game 1 was the first time the Flyers ever entered a playoff overtime session in a scoreless tie. They also had a graphic shortly after the game-winning (and only) goal, with the fitting caption "A Long Time Coming", that this was the Flyers' first-ever OT win at the 6-year old First Union Center... Frank Fitzpatrick delivers a parting shot at 'co-inventor' of basketball, George Karl... You'll recall that I first predicted here over a week ago that Ray Allen would be enjoying early tee times in Mequon, WI... Rick Carlisle with some great one-line zingers following the Pistons "meaningless" regular season finale... Michael Hunt talks with Ernie Grunfeld, who has a long summer ahead of him... Peter Vescey says its step-up-or-shut-up time now that the playoffs are upon us... Bob Kravitz says the Pacer's trading deadline moves appear to have paid off, while C. Jemal Horton appears to have backed off his stance from a few weeks ago that the Pacers were not worthy of making the playoffs... Marc Berman reports that the Knicks gave Sprewell a get-out-of-your-$125,000-fine-for-free card, and also notes that the Knicks have a 4.3 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick. Again, anybody who doesn't think this is a lock raise your hand. OK, you can both put your hands down... Berman also reports that Marcus Camby has issued a warning to Knicks' management not to trade his buddy Sprewell. Where else can an injury-prone player, who missed over 50 games this season alone, threaten his club by virtue of his status as a free agent-to-be? The NBA...it's faaaaaaaaantasic! Andrew Marchand says that Jason Kidd still has a lot to prove as far as being a clutch playoff performer, and also has some scathing remarks directed toward NBC's Ahmad Rashad... Fred Kerber rekindles memories of the only playoff series the Nets have ever won, a bizarre series in which the road team won every game... Kerber also offers his prediction that the Nets will prevail over the Pacers, after reminding his readers that the Nets 3-1 record against the Pacers this year was prior to their mid-season trade.

And now for the "Lakers are the best thing since sliced bread" slew of links... Michael Ventre... Mark Kreidler... Jennifer Cooper... CNNSI with their Power Rankings for the end of the regular season... And finally, today's random link of the day comes to us by way of MTV. In what is sure to be right up there with the current Jay-Z vs. Nas battle, the Pet Shop Boys take on Eminem.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Can the NBA playoff picture get any more interesting? I'm not going to even bother attempting to explore all of the possibilies, since NBA.com has already done that for me. For now, I'll hold off on expressing my opinion of who I'd like the Sixers to draw in the first round, for fear of invoking the "be careful what you wish for" curse. For now, I'll only impart a few words of wisdom to Larry Brown, as he prepares his team for tonight's season finale against the Pacers. To quote C-3P0 from Star Wars: "No, shut them all down!" Now onto the rest of today's links...

Phil Jasner says Iverson's presence at yesterday's team shootaround was a welcome sight...Marc Narducci also reports on Iverson's activity yesterday, while criticizing Iverson's 29.1 percent 3 point FG%. This is a pretty cheap shot. It's one thing to lament Iverson's sub-40% FG percentage, but citing a statistic like this is just trying to make it sound worse than it really is. I didn't hear anybody saying Eric Snow shouldn't have taken the last potential game winning 3-pointer against the Bulls the other night (which he missed horribly, by the way), even though he's only made three from behind the arc all season, and one of those was in Sunday's game against the Magic. And don't even get me started about the Brown-King administration's poor scouting job as far as overestimating Matt Harpring's outside shooting ability prior to acquiring him. All well, end of rant, I just really hate it when "supporting" statistics like this are used to support a faulty premise, such as the growing sentiment by certain radio personalities that actually believe that the Sixers are a bettter "team" without Iverson.

Stephen A. Smith says the Pacers are "ahead of schedule" as far as their rebuilding efforts are concerned... Tim Panaccio wonders how far the Flyers will go in the playoffs with his MSNBC article, and writes in today's Inquirer that the boys on Broad Street will have to start scoring goals if they expect to go anywhere... One of the best in the business, Bill Lyon, says the Flyers are "overdue" for some post-season success... Ray Parrillo wonders if assistant coach Roger Neilson will help reverse Ottawa's recently playoff misfortunes... Is anybody else concerned about the bad karma thing coming back to haunt the Flyers in this series? Neilson was basically canned by Bobbie Clarke when he left the team two years ago to undergo cancer treatment and wanted to return... Ray also offers his Stanley Cup Finals predictions... Rich Hofmann believes the Olympic break seriously disrupted the momentum of the NHL's top teams this year, and in 1998... Edward Moran says that Jeremy Roenick looks forward to hugging Ed Snider in June.

Marc Berman quotes from Latrell Sprewell, who appears to be suffering from a persecution complex... Fred Kerber says the Nets are anxiously waiting to find out who their first round opponent will be... Mark Everson wonders if it will be one-and-done for the Devils... Dan Martin reports on some David Wells comments that are sure to rile some Red Sox fans.

Marty Burns says the Bucks might just end up salvaging their season, and incorrectly states the Sixers are "fixed in the fifth spot" (depending on the outcomes of tonight's games, the Sixers can still finish anywhere from 4th to 6th)... Michael Hunt wonders where the Bucks have been the last couple of months... Demonstrating his mastery of the obvious, Tom Enlund says playoff spots are still up for grabs in the east.

Finally, since a lot of the talk on sports radio over the past few days has actually not even been about the NHL and NBA playoffs that are soon to get under way, but about Mayor Street's racially insensitive remarks at a NAACP gathering over the weekend... Tom Ferrick Jr. says the mayor should just shut up... Jill Porter says Street was just dead wrong to play the "race card" just days after his defeat on the city wage tax issue last week... Meanwhile, Mayor Street apoligized to those who may have been offended over his comments, and went on to say something nearly as stupid when he was questioned about the whole mess... Read excerpts of the mayor's (unrehearsed) remarks and judge for yourself.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Well, my younger brother visited over the weekend, thus no new posts. And to make matters worse, the hard drive to my web server at home crashed late Sunday night, and Comcast changed my IP address (thus giving me more of a reason to be switching to DSL shortly). So, in the meantime, I'll let the blogger folks host this until I can get back online. Now onto today's links...

Over the weekend, Stephen A. Smith revealed his picks for this year's regular season awards... Peter May reviewed the C's playoff possibilities, and also revealed his picks for this year's award winners... Dale Hofmann says there's more questions than answers for the Bucks... In the "it's just dawning on you now" department, Michael Hunt catches Anthony Mason wondering whether he is the cause of the Bucks' downfall this year, and also notes that George Karl's future with the Bucks is not guaranteed... Phillip Wilson talks with Donnie Walsh, who says Isiah Thomas shouldn't be blamed for the Pacers' lack of success this year, something Peter Vescey seems to agree with... Marc Berman reports on Yao Ming's recent perfect 21-21 peformance in the CBA (as in Chinese Basketball Association, not to be confused with the "League run into the ground by Isiah Thomas") Finals. Does anyone seriously doubt that the Knicks will mysteriously end up with his draft rights this June?

Mark Narducci covers last night's loss to the Bulls, which resulted in Larry Brown being 0-2 in "games at home against the Chicago Bulls in which home court advantage in the playoffs is at stake," while Phil Jasner talks about Jabari Smith's performance off the bench last night. Does anybody else wonder why Larry Brown refuses to develop young talented players? Dalembert and Smith provided huge lifts off the bench last night (granted, they were playing the Bulls), but there were at least 5 crowd-pleasing alley-oop dunks. The First Union Center hasn't seen such excitement since last year's NBA Finals. And don't get me started on why Vonteego Cummings couldn't see at least a dozen minutes during a stretch when Allen Iverson, Aaron McKie, and Speedy Claxton were all out of the lineup...

Peter Vescey says that, if anything, Sprewell's recent fine by the Knicks will make it harder for him to be traded... Fred Kerber reviews the Nets-Pistons "playoff tuneup"... Peter May on last night's game against the T-Wolves, which leaves the C's still in the hunt for the 2nd best conference record... Steve Bulpett has a chat with Kevin McHale, who still doesn't think the current C's squad is all that... Tom Enlund says Ray Allen is providing the Bucks a much-needed "shot in the arm", and Mark Montieth says the Pacers still need a lot of help in order to squeeze into the playoffs... Will McDonough wonders why the Patriots are not allowing prospective suitors to even talk with Bledsoe... Mark Cuban is obviously still pursuing his goal of utterly embarrassing Commissioner Stern (simple, free registration required to view that link)... Bill Simmons with the entertaining conclusion of his most recent Page 2 article on the 2001-02 NBA season awards... And finally, today's concluding link comes from the "Only in America" department.