Saturday, May 21, 2022 |
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I’m really not even sure what to do with myself these days.
As part of a generation with both no attention span and an innate ability to multi-task, the end of March/beginning of April is like a final exam the sports gods give to weed out those who can’t hang.
The Final Four … Major League Baseball beginning … NBA regular season closing and the postseason getting underway … NHL regular seas …
OK, forget about hockey. I can’t throw the NHL in that same category. I know there are still some very passionate NHL fans around, but they are becoming sort of like the chupacabra — every time I hear one reported, I’m dubious.
So to honor those like myself who have become used to quick-hitting information and short tidbits, today I’ll be giving brief thoughts on everything going on.
Final Four: I don’t know what the odds were for Butler to return to the NCAA championship game, but no matter how good they were, it’s a wager I never would have taken.
In a big-picture sense, it’s incredible. But watching Butler just makes you think to yourself “Oh yeah, they know how to win.” I can’t find any real flaws or ways to attack them, other than a team with a huge size advantage in the paint.
Fortunately for them, the UConn Huskies don’t have that advantage. UConn isn’t small by any means, but it has boasted much bigger lineups in the past.
Early lines have UConn as a small favorite (-3.5), but my early gut is leaning the other way.
Also, VCU and Kentucky deserve a ton of credit for getting as far as they did, and for different reasons. VCU took full advantage of an opportunity very few felt it had earned and did not have a single fluky victory in the tournament. I know Shaka Smart is the darling coach of this dance — and with good reason — but shouldn’t we also be asking how his club managed to lose six games in the Colonial Athletic Association?
An 11-point loss to Northeastern? Really Shaka?
Kentucky transformed its entire team and got one step beyond last year’s squad that had five NBA first-round picks. Coach Calipari did his best coaching job of his career this season; hopefully he won’t someday be taking another team to his “first” Final Four.
MLB: Opening Day is always exciting. It can’t not be exciting. You know how I know this? I’m a Mets fan and I was still excited about Opening Day.
Baseball was my first love, so these first days of April always own a soft spot in my heart. There’s a comfort to knowing that the team you root for will be competing six days a week for the next six months.
My Mets are going to stink. I’ve already accepted this fact. They will stink, the Phillies will not stink and I will have to hear from my Philadelphia friends on an annoyingly regular basis. Despite this, I’m still excited about baseball.
Yes, there is something wrong with me.
Having just seen the Giants and Rangers get to the World Series, saying this season is completely up for grabs seems fairly obvious. Even though the Phillies and Red Sox are the favorites, a number of middling teams got better this offseason. Clubs like the Tigers, White Sox and Rockies could become the darkhorses this October.
One bold prediction: Florida Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton will lead the National League with 45 home runs.
NBA: Coming down to the wire, last season’s NBA Finals participants are heading in opposite directions. The Lakers have lost just one game since the All-Star break, while the Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 and have slid to third in the East.
Despite their youth and inexperience, the Bulls are the team to beat in the East. Derrick Rose will win the MVP, though Kobe Bryant isn’t making it as easy as it appeared it would be just two weeks ago. Not one team in the East is a bad matchup for Chicago and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs is within reach.
If the Heat stay as the 2-seed and the Knicks stay in the 7-spot, get ready for a very exciting opening-round series. Having beaten Miami once with the new-look squad, New York will have a confidence in that series it would not against Boston. While the 76ers have played better than the Knicks recently, the Heat would be wise to hope they draw Philly in the first round.
The top six teams in the West have all had great seasons, but the Nuggets and Trail Blazers are the most fascinating stories. Denver has been outstanding since trading away Carmelo Anthony and Portland has suffered so many severe injuries that it shouldn’t even still be an afterthought. The Western Conference playoffs are going to be phenomenal.
In the end, I see the two top teams getting to the Finals being the Lakers and Bulls in an old school vs. new school battle.
Brief, scattered, all over the map … hopefully my thoughts here were a fair representation of this current and volatile sports universe.
Now take a deep breath and enjoy your Sunday.
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