Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Grab Bag: Playoffs!?

With the start of the NBA playoffs this weekend, we now have 2 sets of playoffs running across the country.  April is always a great time to be a sports fan: baseball gets started, the NCAA crowns a basketball champion, the Masters greens its way into our hearts, and the road to championships start in 2 professional leagues.  I'm enjoying every minute of it.

This week in the bag, I'll take a look at playoffs, both hockey and basketball, while briefly touching on my two favorite baseball teams.

Click below for the bag

Nuggets failed themselves - I had plenty of leftover questions from last night's 107-103 Nuggets loss to Oklahoma City in the first game of the NBA playoffs.  How could the refs blow that basket interference call?  Why is Ray Felton guarding Kevin Durant at any point down the stretch?  Why is Danilo Gallinari handling the ball?  The Nuggets couldn't draw up a better play than a 20ft jumper from Kenyon Martin?  Can't somebody, please, hit both their free throws?
Westbrook and the Thunder surged past the Nuggets late Sunday night.  From: the Post

The good thing is that all of these problems are fixable.  George Karl will go back to the drawing board and get his undersized guards off the freakishly 6-9 swing man Kevin Durant, the officials will be shamed into actually paying attention to late-game boardwork, Danilo won't be put in a position to give up the ball twice down the stretch, actual shooters will end up shooting in the final minute, and the free throws will take care of themselves.

The problem as I see is OKC strict refusal to allow Denver to score on the fast break.  The Nuggets only had 9 points on the break last night, and at times Coach Karl was literally left pleading with his team to turn on the run.  The Nuggets will have to run if they are to win the series; let's see if there's a change in game 2.

Bulls survive a scare - With just over 3 minutes to go the seemingly lifeless Bulls were down 10 without the ball.  All game they had failed to contain the Pacers efficient offense, and even the other-worldly Derrick Rose looked unlikely to pull the Bulls collective asses out of the fire.  I turned the game off. 

Then, as if a cloud parted, the game turned.  A stunning 16-1 thundered down, and victory was in hand.  I was left befuddled when I clicked onto ESPN a few minutes after the final buzzer.  "We won?"  104-99 was the final, they even played "Another one bites the dust."  Official and everything.
Hounded all evening, D-Rose somehow pulled the Bulls butts out the fire, but can he keep it up?  From: the Trib

The headline may read Bulls victory, but that game was far from impressive.  Indiana seemingly scored at will against the vaunted Bulls defense, as it took until the final 2 minutes for the Bulls to even sniff a lead.  Derrick Rose needed 44 shots to score his 39, and got banged up in the process.  For a team looking to compete for a title, this was a rough start to a hopefully long playoff journey.

Blackhawks going out without even a whimper - The defending Stanley Cup Champions look far from worthy this year.  Even home ice couldn't stop the Vancouver Canucks from skating to a 3-0 series lead.  Put that in the bank, season's over for the Hawks.
That's going fast.  From: the Trib

I don't know what the future holds for the franchise, but don't feel right as it's been painful to watch this year.  In the aftermath of a title, we've seen the all too quick dismantling of a champion due to money and cap implications.  With a team built around young talent, I hoped that at least a few more years of upper-table quality was in store, but the Hawk's ship seems to be sinking fast as the '09-'10 team slowly fades into memory.  I don't want a return to the early 2000s, stay relevant Hawks, please!

Rockies on fire - I never, ever, look at records before Memorial Day, but the Rockies are off to a fantastic start.  4 strait series victories, 2 of them sweeps, have the Rox flying high.  Let's not get a head of ourselves, as there are 147 games left in the season, but I think this Rox team has the chance to do something special.  Not 100-win special, but 90-95 with a division title seems plausible.
The game is coming easy to the Rox right now.  From: the Post.

White Sox suffer another mid-April swoon -  While the Rockies are riding high in the early going, my Sox have hit their typical mid-April weather-related road block.  Temperatures were slightly warm to start the season, and the Sox roared out to a hot offensive start.  The only thing seemingly able to stop "the Good Guys" in the first week was the pathetic performance of the back-end of the bullpen.  

Now the temperatures have run cold in Chicago, and the offense has begun to sputter resulting in a 3 game sweep at the hands of the Angels and a dip under .500.  By now I've grown accustomed to this, and fully expect the bats to hide when the temp drops below 55 degrees.  While it's expected, I don't see why it isn't fixable.  Regardless, the Sox have big-time sad face as they embark on a grueling 11-game east-coast roadtrip.  Here's to hoping the team can survive the month within earshot of .500.  The pressure to perform is on, and the "all-in" season may end up all-out before it really gets going.
New faces: same lame start.  From: the Trib

Happy Monday!

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