Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: A Wild Weekend

The cult of the Kentucky Derby continues to confuse the hell out of me.  I got wrapped up in it Saturday, heading over to a fancy party (replete with hats!) for some juleps and *cough* gambling, but stayed on the mental sidelines for much of the affair.  While I had a good time with my friends, the lifestyle of the rich and famous, as celebrated by NBC, had me gagging.  The overt deification of money, wealth, and opulence that is at the heart of horse racing and all things Churchill Downs, only a week after another round of riots highlighted the divisions in this country, struck hollow.  I don't care who was there, how much they paid for their whiskey, or how long the wait is at the private airport's coat check. NBC's wallow in that filth had me rolling my eyes. Just run the damn race, already.

Sure, all that pomp isn't on display for me (hint: it's for the same people who care that the Royal Family had another baby), but it only highlighted how completely out of touch 'the sport of kings' is.  Why do we 'care' about this again?


Today in the bag, I'm talking the 'fight of the century' and some playoffs, both NBA and NHL.

Click below for the bag...


The 'fight of the century' went exactly as planned.  Anyone who has spent more than five seconds watching the sport over the last five years could've predicted the exact outcome the day the fight was made: Mayweather, by unanimous decision.  There was never a doubt in my mind.  Had I known I was going back to Vegas next week, I'd have bet the farm back in March on that exact outcome.  Seriously, easy Money for both Floyd and the sharps.
What new?
So, the fight was a dud, then?  Nah, not even close.

This was a clinic, a masterpiece of testing, probing, countering action.  Mayweather, who had ducked this fight for years, was still in danger from Pacquiao.  The furious hurricane of punches known the world round, even at his advanced age, can do damage.  Floyd, no spring chicken himself at 38, needed to bring his best defense to the forefront.  After a first half of mostly even strikes, he did just that, repeatedly slipping, sliding, guarding his way out of danger.  Floyd put himself in a position to take the best of Manny in the opening rounds, and got hurt once or twice in the process. After the fourth and sixth rounds, clear Pacquiao victories, Mayweather put his foot down, and got back to what made him the highest-paid athlete on the planet. Defense, after all, wins championships, and it got May to 48-0 Sunday night.  Dominating.
Too easy for May
You wanna know how, as a boxer, you get to the end of two decades in the ring without any major scars or obvious slurring of speech? Practice the five D's of dodgeball.  No one is better at dodging, ducking, dipping, diving, or dodging in the ring (and out) than Money.  It's incredible to watch.  If the practical point of boxing is to win... and avoid serious damage in the process, then Floyd does it in a way no man has done before. He's a maestro of the counter; Pac would come in, May would slip the strike, and whack him in the face for his trouble.  The flurries would come, but the guard was too solid, and Manny too preoccupied with trying to touch up Pretty Boy's face.  In the way a pitchers duel makes for great viewing in baseball, watching May ply his trade is just as fascinating.  I only wish he'd actually fight someone who has the potential to really make him sweat.

Sure, this fight should've been held five years ago, but even then, I doubt a different outcome.  Mayweather is too smart, too sly to allow himself serious trouble. In the early rounds, I saw him repeatedly back his way into danger.  Note: Pacquiao didn't force him to the ropes or corners, May took the fight there.  I think he wanted to see how bad it could get.  The worst didn't end up being bad enough, so he knew he had it in the bag.  From then on, he was fighting with a lead, and no one fights better with a lead than Mayweather.

Yet, still, the average fan frets over the outcome. I honestly don't get the frustration.  You should've known what you were getting headed in, and the two fighters delivered to their respective scripts.  Manny threw his flurries - some of the scariest Mayweather has faced - and worked to trap the champ in an area of concern. Floyd did his dance, the same we've seen for a decade now, and easily won.  There was never going to be a knockout, this was never going to be Hagler/Hearns.  Starring down the barrel of life after boxing, neither fighter was going to put their heads on the line for such simple nostalgia.  This was always going to be a display of the sweet science, never a brawl.  If you expected anything else, you were uninformed, duped, or both.

Hey, I get it.  Everyone wanted to see the serial asshole get his face beaten in.  Fair enough. In which case, take two doses of this, and call me in the morning:
From: Deadspin
Around the NBA Playoffs - 

Chicago 99 - Cleveland 92 -

I'm a little puffy-chested today, thanks to My Bulls going into Cleveland and stealing game one from LeBron and Co. Sure, the Cavs were missing Kevin Love (out for the playoffs) and J.R. Smith (suspended for games one and two), couldn't hit the broad side of the barn from deep, and otherwise struggled without a dominating effort from the King, but I'mma take this one straight to the bank for deposit.  As clutch of a win as it was, however, it doesn't change my thoughts on the series.  Cleveland's threes will start falling (they shot under 27% last night), LeBron will start finishing at the rim, and the tide will turn.  I still expect Cavs in six or seven; just you wait.
Gimmie that.  From: ESPN
Los Angeles 117 - Houston 101 -

No Chris Paul, no problem for the Clips, who manhandled Houston in their game one last night.  Los Angeles, who gave us all the gift of their first round tilt with San Antonio, kept the good vibes rolling despite the injury to CP3, thanks to a stellar performance from Blake Griffin.  26/14/13 from the Sooner?  That'll do.

Washington 104 - Atlanta 98 -

Washington, brutally tough on the road when the chips are on the table, did what they are wont to do, stealing yet another game one in an unfriendly facility.  Bradley Beal scored 28 in the win, but it was a total team effort, something that makes them real dangerous in the playoffs.  Beyond the Wiz and their big win, however, it's becoming more and more apparent that the regular season Hawks have exited stage left.  Once a team that was dominating the Eastern Conference, they've since struggled with lowly Brooklyn, and are now down 1-0 against an inconsistent Wizards team.  As a result, the East is wide open for the survivor of the Cavs and Bulls.
Beal lead an all-around performance from Washington in game one.
Golden State 101 - Memphis 86 -

Of all the series currently being played in the NBA, I think conventional wisdom has the biggest handle on this one.  The Warriors, even without a 'great' performance, had no trouble with the Grizzlies in game one, and appear to be on auto-pilot.  They're just on another level right now, and should continue to have little trouble stomping Memphis around over the next three games.  With Steph Curry and Klay Thompson shooting light's out ball, is there any doubt they'll ease into the Western finals?

Around the NHL Playoffs - 

Washington 1 - New York 0 -

There was only one game last night in the NHL, and damned if it wasn't a great one.  No big shock for New York, who have been in a series of one-goal affairs this spring, but it was another grind-it-out affair featuring the Rangers.  A tight, tense thrill fest, Washington held on for dear life to a gift goal from the second frame to claim a 2-1 lead in their nip/tuck series with NY.  I expect more of the same in game four, and can't wait for the puck to drop.
I could stand for a few more of those.  Classic playoff hockey.
Tampa Bay 6 - Montreal 2 -

Where the hell did these Lightning come from?  From facing an elimination game in Detroit two weeks ago, they've won four straight by a combined score of 15-5, and seem to have one leg already in the Eastern finals.  What was most impressive to me was the way the completely silenced the crowds in Montreal over the weekend, erasing what is often a terrifying home ice advantage for the Habs.  With displays like this, I'm starting to suspect that 'hockey-mad' Tampa may end up hosting some Cup Finals games here in a few weeks time.

Chicago 4 - Minnesota 1 -

My Blackhawks seemed to have fully recovered from the uncomfortable uncertainty of the first round, as they took a commanding 2-0 lead in their conference semis tilt with Minnesota.  It helps that Corey Crawford looks to be regaining his sea legs.  After a rocky start to game one, where he gave up a 3-0 lead in the second period, 'Cro' has been outstanding.  A softie in game two aside, he's been brilliant over the last four periods of play, the key behind two strong Chicago wins.  Thanks to his efforts, the 'Hawks, who have knocked out the Wild each of the last two years, look to be on the verge of the conference finals.
Crawford is slowly returning to form.
Anaheim 3 - Calgary 0 -

Meanwhile, the Ducks continued their unbeaten run through the playoffs with a dominating 3-0 win over Calgary to claim a 2-0 series lead.  Becoming just the sixth team in 25 years to win their first six games in pursuit of the Cup, Anaheim is soaring against all competition.  Calgary, certainly, doesn't seem to have much of a chance to stop them at this point, having only scored one goal in two hours of ice time.  While the series is about to shift to Alberta, I can't help but look forward to a potential Blackhawks/Ducks matchup in the the next round.  That'd be something...

Happy Tuesday!

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