Saturday, March 30, 2013

Was UCLA Too Much For Shaka Smart?

I decided to wait a few days to see if he would have a change of heart, but it appears Shaka Smart will remain the head coach at VCU.  This comes as a surprise considering UCLA has expressed interest in interviewing him for their coaching vacancy.  Although the Bruins haven't won a national championship since 1995 it is still considered one of the premiere jobs in college basketball.  Shaka Smart turned down an opportunity to double his salary, further his career, and increase his exposure exponentially.  What gives?

Some have argued the UCLA job is too much pressure.  The alumni has unrealistic expectations and an unwillingness to be patient.  Some have argued the West coast not an environment Shaka Smart is familiar with.  In order to succeed he needs to be in a comfortable surrounding.  Some have argued he's just happy where he's at and loyal to the program that gave him his first big break. Whatever the case may be isn't it somewhat irresponsible not to listen to what UCLA had to say?  At least hear them out?

Sports fans have the bad habit of hypothesizing what they would do if they were given a certain set of circumstances and I'm no different.  I don't know Shaka Smart or how his mind works, but common sense says these kind of opportunities don't come up very often and when they do you should engage in the process.  I can't tell if he's being arrogant, naive, complacent, or over content where he's at.  Make no mistake about it if Shaka Smart doesn't continue to win games at VCU they will not show him the same allegiance he is showing them right now.  For this reason you have to seize the day and leverage your popularity when it's on the rise.  In the end I think he will regret not taking the UCLA job when he had the chance.  Your thoughts?

Rocket B3TZ

Houston vs. Los Angeles

The Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers both suffered losses last night.  The Clippers were done in by the great Tim Duncan and the Rockets got bullied inside the paint by Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.  Both teams will need selective memory when they face off tonight.  You know how I feel about back to back games, but in this instance the advantage has to go to Houston.  At least they get to play at home after their defeat while Los Angeles is in the middle of the Texas triangle.  The Clips are an experienced bunch that can overcome adversity, but that experience also comes with extra miles on the legs.  The joints just don't recover at the same speed they used to once you reach 35.  Look for Houston to have the fresher legs this evening and blow by Los Angeles.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The End Of The Streak

I had the pleasure of watching the Miami/Chicago game last night and even though the Heat had their 27 game streak snapped I liked what I saw.  The Chicago Bulls played out of their minds hitting ridiculous shots and established a physical style of play, but Miami didn't back down.  They kept the pressure on for 48 minutes and never let Chicago out of their sight.  When the game was over LeBron and D Wade shook hands and walked off the court without acknowledging any of the Bulls players.  Isaiah Thomas would be proud.

In the beginning (I'd say around game 20 or 21 of the streak) I didn't really believe Miami would break the record.  It's hard to stay focused and hungry for that long when everyone is prepared to give you their best effort.  Cleveland was up by 20 in the 4th quarter.  Jeff Green had the best game of his professional career.  Philadelphia played them tough to the final possession.  It's difficult to maintain that level of intensity every game.

Whenever a team is trying to accomplish something that's never been done before there's always a let down if they come up a little short.  It's almost as if the team goes from being the greatest thing since sliced bread to to a bunch of bums that couldn't beat a little league team.  Fans feel betrayed they let themselves get caught up in the hoopla only to be left disappointed and heart broken in the end.  For those of you that followed the Seattle Mariners in 2001 know what I'm talking about.

Now that the streak is over lets put things in their proper perspective.  Before last night the Miami Heat hadn't lost a  game since February 1st.  I'll repeat that.  BEFORE LAST NIGHT THE MIAMI HEAT HADN'T LOST A GAME SINCE BEFORE THE SUPER BOWL!!!  They are still the best team on planet Earth and no one can beat them in a 7 game series.  LeBron James is a man among boys and D Wade still has super baller status.  I don't think they will lose more than 4 games the entire playoffs.  I
got the Heat and you can have the field to win the chip this year.  Any takers?

Pacer B3TZ

Indiana vs. Dallas

The Indiana Pacers enter tonight's game versus the Dallas Mavericks in a dog fight for 2nd place in the Eastern conference.  The New York Knicks are nipping at their heels hoping to get home court for the 2nd round of the playoffs.  Perhaps I'm jumping to conclusions, but I think Indiana and New York will eventually have to face each other and in a 7 game series you'll take any advantage you can get.  As for tonight's game?  Dallas is a complete non factor this year and the only bright spot has been OJ Mayo.  Unfortunately he won't be able to carry the Mavs to victory.  Look for the Pacers to pull away late in the 4th quarter.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Miami B3TZ

Miami vs. Chicago

The Miami Heat are still chasing history.  When the Heat face the Chicago Bulls tonight they are only 7 games shy of breaking the all time record for consecutive wins.  At first I questioned whether Miami had the focus or desire to accomplish this impressive feat, but as we get closer to the 33 game streak you can tell it's important to the Heat players.  Once LeBron James and D Wade set their minds to making something a priority it's generally a problem for the rest of the league.  I can't see a Bulls team without Derrick Rose standing in the way of history.  Chicago is a defensive minded team so the game will be close, but look for Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen to hit some big jumpers down the stretch.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Is Tiger Woods Out Of Exile?

When I was watching SportsCenter last night the Tiger Wood's segment of the show had a different feel to it than in years past.  It wasn't that Tiger Woods won a tournament.  He's only 5 wins shy of breaking the all time record held by Sam Snead.  It's not that he won the Bay Hill Invitational.  He's won that tournament 8 times (more than any golfer has won a single event).  It was the way the media portrayed him after the victory.

Arnold Palmer embraced him like a long lost son.  Scott Van Pelt gushd over every birdie and par put.  The storyline that accompanied the highlights depicted Tiger Woods as a mythical superhero with magical clubs.  There was no mention of overnight sensation Rory McElroy and everyone declared Tiger Woods the favorite to win the Masters in two weeks.  Why the sudden change?

It's the Lindsey Vonn factor.  People are intrigued by the power couple/super athlete phenomenon.  Like Brad and Angelina or Jay-Z and Beyonce' the public likes to follow fairytale romances.  In order to proceed with the barrage of coverage from TMZ, US Magazine, and various Internet outlets it is necessary to focus on the present and the future rather than the past.  Suddenly all the talk of infidelity, smashed in car windows, insincere press conferences, and incriminating phone conversations seems so yesterday.

The media scrutiny won't allow for the relationship to last, but it does give Tiger Woods a get out of jail free card.  It's impossible to loathe someone while being fascinated about their love interests.  Tiger Woods has a free pass for now because the public has chosen to have selective memory.  So long as it ends smoothly and amicably Tiger will be able to use this opportunity to re-invent himself.  Let us not forget this is the athlete of the decade we're talking about.  Your thoughts?

Celtic B3TZ

New York vs. Boston

The New York Knicks take on the Boston Celtics tonight trailing the Indiana Pacers by a 1/2 game in the Eastern Conference standings.  Kenyon Martin has provided a spark for the team with Tyson Chandler out of the line up and Carmelo Anthony has returned from injury shooting lights out.  Meanwhile Boston has been hot and cold losing 6 of their last 10 and were unable to capitalize on great performances from Jeff Green and Avery Bradley during that stretch.  Without Kevin Garnett in the line up look for the Knicks to take advantage on the boards and Carmelo Anthony to stay focused on the game.  If KG isn't around to get under his skin he seems to play better.  The Knicks will win a close one in Boston.

Monday, March 25, 2013

California B3TZ

Golden St. vs Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers have been in turmoil for most of this season and it appears the drama is not over.  The Lakers suffered an embarrassing loss to the Washington Wizards on Friday and failed to give themselves a cushion going into the playoffs.  With 12 games left Los Angeles is clinging to a 2 game lead for the 8th spot.  The Golden St. Warriors on the other hand need to fend off Houston to remain in the 6th spot.  The outcome of tonight's game between the Lakers and the Warriors will come down to which star guard has the better shooting night.  Steph Curry is averaging 23 points a game and the Black Mamba is averaging 27.  I think tonight's match up will go Steph Curry's way when it's all said and done.  The Warriors will win a close one at home.

Weekend Observations

The first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament is in the books and my bracket looks like dogsh*t.  I must admit Cleavie Wonder has been poisoned by his own medicine bottle.  I let the trash talking, the finger pointing, and the name calling get under my skin.  I made irrational decisions and took unnecessary risks when filling out my bracket.  I wanted to shut up my competitors and re-establish myself as the foremost bracketologist on planet Earth.  The results have been less than impressive.

Although I will take a large share of the blame these college kids have to look at themselves in the mirror as well.  Those Georgetown guys need to have their scholarship status re-evaluated.  Nobody loses to a 15 seed without getting cussed out by the alumni.  It may not seem like it, but John Thompson's seat is starting to get warm.  Pittsburgh blew a golden opportunity to end up in the great 8 with a disappointing loss to Wichita St. and Kansas St. couldn't win a first round game IN KANSAS CITY!  Wisconsin folded like a house of cards and Syracuse (finally) played like a top 10 team.  I can't take the blame for those outcomes.  That's just part of the Cinderella dance.  I'm way back in my group standing for the time being, but Cleavie Wonder will make a significant push in the round of 16.  4th place is still within reach.  Here are some observations over the weekend.

Ben Howland is out as coach of the UCLA Bruins.  Although Howland took the Bruins to back to back final four appearances a few years ago the fans and alumni in Westwood were not amused by their first round exit this year.  Everyone seems to think the heir apparent for the job is Shaka Smart.  Let's see if he's smart enough to take advantage of the opportunity.

Elvis Dumervil is A Raven!  After a fax machine snafu cost him a chance to sign with a Super Bowl contender Elvis ended up with a team in a rebuilding phase.  Sure the Ravens just won a Lombardi trophy, but they've basically gutted their team this offseason.  The Broncos have a much better chance of playing the Seahawks in New York next year than the Ravens do.  Sometimes modern technology can let you down.

The Miami Heat won their 26th game without the services of D Wade.  It appears the Heat are very cognizant of their chance at immortality.  Now that I see they are taking the streak very seriously their chances of succeeding have increased exponentially.  A Wednesday game at Chicago and a Friday game at San Antonio will go a long way to determining their fate.

Florida Gulf Coast is without question the big story of the tournament.  This is not a good thing for those NBA GM's waiting to watch the ping pong balls in June.  The fact that a little school with no basketball history is the main topic of discussion lets us know there is virtually no talent in this upcoming draft.  If you see someone with star potential from here on out please don't hesitate to contact me.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Texas B3TZ

Houston vs. San Antonio

When the San Antonio Spurs take on the Houston Rockets tonight they will have the services of Tony Parker.  Parker has missed the last month with an ankle injury, but the Spurs have managed to hold onto first place in his absence.  With Parker back in the line up the Spurs will most likely end up with home court throughout the playoffs.  Houston on the other hand has won 7 of their last 10 games and trails Golden St. by one game for the 6th spot in the Western conference.  Look for James Harden to have a big shooting night and carry his team to a narrow victory.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

New York B3TZ

Toronto vs. New York

It's not very often the same teams play each other back to back nights.  The New York Knicks take on the Toronto Raptors for the 2nd time in two nights trailing the Pacers by only one game in the Eastern conference.  The Knicks are thankful to have scoring machine Carmelo Anthony back in the line up.  Anthony missed several games with a knee injury, but looked no worse for wear last night putting up 37 in a 5 point victory.  Rudy Gay left the game with a sore back and didn't return, but I think he wants to play in front of the New York crowd.  He's still trying to prove he's a franchise player and what better place to showcase your talents than Madison Square Garden.  You know how I fell about back to back games and Carmelo is just getting healthy so I expect the Knicks to limit his minutes.  That being said New York will still win a close one.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Return Of Young Sam Rothstein

Ladies and gentlemen, family, friends, and followers Young Sam Rothstein is back in the building.  This time of the year I'm like a kid in a candy store.  So many games, so many wagers, so many opportunities to make money.  I haven't slept in 3 days so forgive me if my tone is a little condescending.  I've done so much research my brain is about to explode.  Sharing this knowledge with you is like trying to explain astro physics to a wino.  You just can't understand or fathom how much bracketology I have running through my veins.  Nevertheless I'm here to make sure we all prosper from the sweat equity of college hoopers.  Here are some picks to start you on the path to independent wealth.

California + 2 1/2 over Oklahoma St.  This is the time of the year Allen Crabbe shows he's ready to take his game to the next level.  After run-ins with the coach and an average Pac 12 season Crabbe can establish himself as a lottery pick with an impressive performance in the tourney.  Oklahoma St. isn't scaring anyone and the game is in San Jose.  If the Bears can't win a close game so close to the Berkley campus they don't deserve to be dancing in March.

Harvard +11 over New Mexico.  Although the game is being played in Salt Lake City I'm not sold on Steve Alford's team.  The Lobos have the Mountain West player of the year in Kendall Williams, but the Crimson can shoot 3's and free throws.  With some solid guard play Harvard can easily stay with 12 points of New Mexico.

Montana +12 1/2 over Syracuse.  Don't be surprised if the Grizzlies pull an upset over the Orangemen.  Syracuse is traveling across the country and ended the season rather shaky.  Although it will be good for the Cuse to get out of conference play and beat up on unfamiliar opponents they don't have blow out capability.  Montana has mostly juniors and seniors that can hit free throws and launch 3 pointers from all over the court.  12 1/2 is too many points to leave on the table.

Chicago B3TZ

Chicago vs. Portland

 The Chicago Bulls face the Portland Trailblazers tonight just one game behind Atlanta for the 5th spot in the Eastern conference.  The Bulls match up better against Brooklyn than they to against the Knicks so seeding in the playoffs is becoming increasingly important.  The Trailblazers have no such concerns as they are currently 4 games back of the 8 spot with 15 left to play.  At least Portland scored big with rookie of the year candidate Damian Lillard.  That's a piece the organization can build around.  As for tonight's game?  Look for Joakim Noah to do his thing on the boards and Carlos Boozer to chip in with a modest 15 or so points.  The Bulls will win this one going away.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March Madness Predictions

As you might expect this is my favorite time of the year.  For nearly two decades I've been wagering thousands of dollars, annoying the hell out of my friends with trash talk, and predicting winners and losers based on an exceptional level of skill.  People spread gossip and believe what they must, but make no mistake about it, Cleavie Wonder is one of the greatest bracketologists there's ever been.  I always have my finger on the pulse of college basketball this time of year and my track record speaks for itself.  As the Big Daddy Kane would say, I get the job done.

Unfortunately there are thieves in the temple that will take my information and use it against me so I can't get too specific with respect to my predictions.  I'll have to confidentially speak in code when revealing my perspective.  A stealthy approach keeps my adversaries at bay and ensures no one benefits from my extensive knowledge of how this tournament will turn out.  It's safe to say most of the picks I divulge in this blog won't be earth shattering, but you have to get to the final four somehow right?  Lets start with the obvious.

Kansas and Louisville will be in the Final Four.  Gonzaga will not make it that far.  Syracuse will not be a sweet 16 team.  Kansas St. will benefit greatly from playing their first two games in Kansas City.  This is not the year Duke will cut down the nets.  North Carolina has some work to do.  Pittsburgh is seeded in a very comfortable place.  Miami and Georgetown will advance past the weekend.  Oklahoma St. will not be a factor in this tournament.  UCLA probably won't need to bring a change of clothing.  Ohio St. will go far.  Memphis will not.

For those of you smart enough to decipher what I just said there's a lot of valuable information in that last paragraph.  It's practically a blueprint to the championship.  I'll give more advice tomorrow and Friday (see Young Sam Rothstein's corner), but only with regards to the point spread.  It's unclear as to how many people are out there trying to poach good information from me.  I swear my cell phone is being tapped by ESPN experts looking for an edge or something intelligent to say on their show.  However it shakes out lets have fun and let the chips fall where they may.

The overall winner:  Louisville.  Your thoughts?

Hornet B3TZ

New Orleans vs. Boston

On paper this game looks like a mismatch.  The Boston Celtic have won 7 of their last 10 games behind the stellar play of Jeff Green and Avery Bradley.  The New Orleans Hornets have lost 8 of their last 10 and have the worst record in the Western conference.  It is clear New Orleans will be watching ping pong balls in the near future hoping to pick up a great player to compliment Anthony Davis in the draft.  The Celtics are trying to find chemistry before the playoffs start with Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger out for the season.  The odds are clearly against New Orleans, but for some reason I have a hunch the Hornets are going to pull this one out.  Look for Anthony Davis to have a big game on the glass and we just might see a Ryan Anderson sighting.  Hornets in a close one.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Denver vs. Oklahoma City

If it wasn't for the defending champs going on a 23 game winning streak the biggest story in the NBA right now would be the Denver Nuggets.  Denver squares off against the Oklahoma City Thunder having won 12 straight holding down the #4 spot in the Western conference standings.  George Karl has got his team playing unselfish basketball and capitalizing on opponents turnovers.  Without a legitimate superstar on their roster the Nuggets should be applauded for their collective effort.  That being said they travel to OKC tonight following an overtime game against Chicago.  You know how I feel about back to back games so this contest won't be close.  Consider it a moral victory if they can hold Kevin Durant under 30 points.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Miami B3TZ

Miami vs. Boston

When the Boston Celtics take on the Miami Heat tonight they will most likely be without the services of Kevin Garnett.  That's not a good thing when you look at the way Miami has been dismantling opponents as of late.  6 of their last 8 games have been double digit victories and the schedule their schedule is pretty light this week.  Cleveland, Charlotte, Detroit, and Orlando shouldn't be too much opposition for a team trying to make history.  The odds are still against them, but if key players are missing when they come to town it sure makes things easier.  Look for LeBron to have a big game as the Heat run their winning streak to 23 games.

Weekend Observations

For all of you that are nursing St. Patricks Day hangovers pop some aleve and keep it moving.  There's no time for excuses or explanations.  March Madness us upon us and for the next few weeks it's all about the brackets.  Sure there's a few interesting sports stories here or there, but the focus is on the college hoopers.  As always the selection committee faced some scrutiny for seeding and geographic placement.  Still the brackets look pretty fair in my opinion and no one has an easy path to the championship.  The Big East and the Big 10 got lots of love, but so did the mid majors.  It's time to see who can really ball and who just has nice uniforms and a cool logo.  Reputation and tradition don't carry teams as far as it used to.  There are too many Butlers, Gonzagas, and Bucknells running around to think you can just show up and strike fear in your opponent.  The key to staying alive in the tournament is free throws and guard play.  Whoever takes advantage of those elements of the game has a good chance to win.  Can't wait to see how the whole thing unfolds.  Rest assured I'll help you fill out your brackets a little later in the week.  Here are some observations over the weekend.

Elvis Dumervil may have cost himself $8,000,000 playing chicken with the Denver Broncos.  After going back and forth trying to decide whether or not to accept the team's offer he made his decision to accept 6 minutes after the deadline and had to be released.  It's safe to say he and his agent are no longer on speaking terms.  In fact if I was his agent I would probably leave the country until Dumervil signed with someone else. 

Rafael Nadal returned to the court in tremendous shape winning the Indian Wells tournament with a victory over Juan Martin del Potro in the finals.  With the French Open right around the corner it's good to see he will be in prime shape as he attempts to defend his title.  It hard to bet against Novak Djokovic right now, but Nadal may have something for him when it's all said and done.

The Miami Heat win streak remains intact and their next 4 opponents (Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Orlando) will most likely roll over and play dead.  I said I wouldn't start talking about this until they were much closer to the record of 33 games so I won't get too in depth about this other than to say they're on my radar.

Kentucky will not get a chance to defend their title this year and the basketball factory in Lexington may have to cancel some of its draft day plans.  Not sure we'll see the entire starting line up go pro as it has in years past.  Given their recent success I'm sure they will return to dominant form next year, but it will be strange to watch the tourney without the Wildcats participating.

Bill Walton shouldn't be in front of a microphone.  It's almost mandatory to watch the game on mut when he is the color commentator.  Why do people continue to give him a job?   

Sunday, March 17, 2013

New York B3TZ

New York vs. Los Angeles Clippers

The New York Knicks take on the Los Angeles Clippers today they will likely be without the services of Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.  Although JR Smith has stepped up his game in their absence the Knicks are only playing .500 over the last 10 games.  Conversely the Clippers are are starting to get healthy and almost have their full compliment of players getting ready for the playoffs.  Caron Butler should return to the team today while Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill continue to work their way back into the rotation.  Both teams are currently the 3rd seed in their respective conferences, but New York has aspirations on the two spot.  A win today at the Staples Center would help them towards achieving that goal, but that result is unlikely.  The Clippers are rested and Lob City is primed to make some SportsCenter highlights this afternoon.  Look for the Clippers to win big.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Last Big East Tournament

Watching the Big East Basketball tournament for the last time is a very surreal experience.  It's like watching the last 30 years of my life flash in front of my eyes.  I grew up watching the epic clashes between Georgetown and Syracuse, Georgetown and St. Johns, and Connecticut and Villanova.  When I watch all the highlights of the great games, the big shots, and the marquee players I wonder where all the time went.

Because sports is such a big part of my life and the memories of classic sporting events run through my mind like a raging river the Big East tournament has a special place in my heart.  I can see Chris Mullin busting up Reggie Williams for a jumper.  I can see John Thompson and Lou Carneseca wearing the same ugly sweater.  I can see Patrick Ewing blocking some one's shot then dunking on their head on the other end of the court.  I can see Sherman Douglas throwing an alley oop to Derrick Coleman.  I can see Carmelo Anthony making the game look real easy for a freshman.  I can see Allen Iverson crossing over Ray Allen only to have Allen hit him up for the game winner.

It's crazy to think these moments are coming to an abrupt end.  Certainly the changing landscape of college sports and the financial ramifications of creating power conferences has its casualties, but I never thought the Big East (in basketball) would fall victim to the changing times.  Perhaps I was being unrealistic, but I thought there was enough tradition and success to keep the conference intact.  In the end I should have known money and television exposure would eventually win out.

The Big East is to college basketball what the SEC is to college football.  It is the power conference that turns out the most dominate players at the next level.  Some could argue the ACC is on par with them (especially after they add UConn and Syracuse next year), and they have won several national championships over the last 20 years (North Carolina, Duke, and Maryland), but for my money the Big East is still the standard.  It will be sad to see the end of an era.

California B3TZ

Golden St. vs. Chicago

The Golden St. Warriors and the Chicago Bulls have both overachieved this season.  The Bulls were supposed to fall flat on their face without all world point guard Derrick Rose and Golden St. was slated to go through an adjustment period with all the new players on their roster.  Instead the Bulls and Warriors are the 5th and 6th seeds in their respective conferences.  Joakim Noah has been playing lights out lately and you all remember Steph burned the nets down in New York a few weeks ago.  Tonight's game is a clash between two teams with contrasting styles.  The Warriors like to get up and down the court while Chicago prefers a more methodical approach to offense.  The Warriors are at home and well rested so they should win this one easy, but look for Steph Curry to take full advantage of the smaller Nate Robinson.  He will have a big game.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spurs B3TZ

San Antonio vs. Dallas

Tonight's game between the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs doesn't have the same meaning it once had.  A few years ago (2011 to be exact) this game would be a match up between two teams with championship aspirations.  This year however the Dallas Mavericks are in a full blown rebuilding phase.  The Mavs no longer have Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, or Jason Kidd to rely on for big buckets and veteran leadership.  Dirk Nowitzki has missed a big chunk of the season and the team will undoubtedly miss the playoffs (they might even be watching ping pong balls in June).  Still this rivalry brings out the best in both teams and the Spurs will have their hands full for three quarters.  Look for San Antonio to buckle down in the 4th and cruise to victory.

Are The Miami Heat The Best NBA Team Ever?

It's indicative of our society when we start talking about historical feats 2/3 of the way to completion.  The Miami Heat won their 20th consecutive game with an impressive victory over the Philadelphia 76ers 98-94.  The victory has various media outlets predicting the Heat will break the all time record of 33 consecutive wins held by the 71' -72' Los Angeles Lakers.  With 13 games left to go that expectation is premature and unrealistic on so many levels.

At least let the champs get within striking distance of the record before making such claims!  Their next four games are on the road with Toronto and Boston on consecutive nights.  You know how I feel about back to back games and the Celtics would love nothing more than to play the spoiler role and rain on LeBron and Ray Allen's parade.

If they get past that gauntlet they could enjoy the weekend on South Beach with some light duty against Detroit and Charlotte.  Shortly thereafter they would have to embark on another lengthy road trip (four games) with stops in Chicago for win number 28 and San Antonio for win number 30.

If it goes that far Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks come to town and I'm not so sure the future 2013 NBA MVP will let it go down on his watch.  A win against New York would pave the way to immortality with games at Charlotte, home for Philadelphia, and home against Milwaukee to set the new record.

Although I think the Heat will easily win the NBA championship I don't think they will break the Lakers record.  there's too much media pressure and hype plus the Heat don't have a Jordan like killer instinct.  It is likely they will become complacent or overwhelmed by all the attention.  This team is dominant in a passive way (if there is such a thing) and the record would only serve as a nice accomplishment, not an ultimate goal.  Your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Clipper B3TZ

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Memphis

When the Memphis Grizzlies take on the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center this evening they are a team on fire.  The Griz have won 12 of their last 14 games and currently have a 1/2 game lead for the 3rd seed in the Western conference.  Most experts (including myself) thought Memphis would struggle after trading all star Rudy Gay, but Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and a healthy Zach Randolph have picked up the slack.  The Clippers are finally getting a full compliment of players as well and easily have the deepest bench in basketball.  Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Lamar Odom Matt Barnes, and Eric Bledsoe all have the ability to contribute on any given night.  These teams are evenly matched on paper, but Memphis played last night and you know how I feel about back to back games.  The Clippers will win, but not by a lot.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Does Austin Seferian-Jenkins Deserve A Pass?

Sometimes keeping it real goes wrong.  A few nights ago some overzealous cop on a mission to fill his quota for the month may have inadvertently changed the course of history.  Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the nation's best tight end was arrested and charged with a DUI.  Most of you probably view this as the legal system doing its job by protecting citizens from the dangers of drunk drivers, but as a die hard Husky fan and alum I see this situation differently.

For purely unethical, unlawful, and selfish reasons I think the officer in question should have let Austin go with a slap on the wrist.  He should have impounded his car, issued a pricey citation, and made him walk home.  Now instead of a scenario wherein the football program and the university could impose disciplinary action quietly and privately it has become a legal matter everyone will scrutinize publicly.

The 2013 college football season is a make or break year for the University of Washington.  They open the new stadium (after spending a quarter billion dollars to renovate it) against Boise St. and a consecutive loss to the Cowboys would be catastrophic.  Financial support from boosters would decline, recruiting efforts could be jeopardized, and coach Sarkisian could lose his job.  Going into the season with the quarterback's favorite target and the team's best player MIA is a scary proposition.  A part of me wishes the cop would've handled the situation with more discretion.

For the record I don't condone drinking and driving and I'm not trying to trivialize the serious nature of the infraction.  The irresponsible actions of Austin Seferian-Jenkins could have resulted in the critical or fatal injury of innocent bystanders.  I voice my frustration with clouded judgement and an unclear conscience.  In my right mind I know the officer in question did the right thing, but the delusional win at all costs side of my personality needs someone to blame for all this.  A scapegoat if you will.  In the end Austin Seferian-Jenkins let an entire community down with his poor decision and I am no longer optimistic about an 8 win season.  Your thoughts?

LA Laker B3TZ

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Orlando

To say the Dwight Howard era ended unceremoniously in Orlando would be a huge understatement.  There were run-ins with the coach, the GM, and the fans before a 3 team trade to the Lakers and now his former teammates have even turned on him.  Last week Howard made disparaging comments about them and basically eluded to the fact he was carrying a bunch of scrubs.  Tonight Howard makes his triumphant return to the Magic City and I doubt the reception will be friendly.  There will be a chorus of boos and they may even throw debris on the court.  As for the game?  The Magic will rally against their new found enemy and Dwight Howard (emotionally soft) will have one of his worst games of the season.  Orlando will squeeze out a close one.

Monday, March 11, 2013

B3TZ game: San Antonio vs. OKC

The Cleavie Wonder site is still under construction with regards to the B3TZ game.  It should be up and operational again tomorrow.  Until then please visit to make your wager on tonight's game.

Oklahoma City vs. San Antonio

The Dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant smell blood in the water.  When the OKC Thunder face the Spurs tonight they can tie San Antonio for the #1 seed in the Western conference.  Although San Antonio is missing all star point guard Tony Parker for a few more weeks they are still a savvy veteran team and they won't give up the top spot without a fight.  The Thunder played yesterday afternoon and you know how I feel about teams playing back to back games (especially going on the road).  If it was a 7 game series I would probably feel different, but for one game I pick the Spurs to win a close one. 

San Antonio will win by 2 or more points.

Weekend Observations

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine on Saturday with regards to the Miami Heat.  He questioned whether or not it was wise of me to take the Heat vs. the field to win the championship.  From a mathematical perspective it's not the safest bet, but all things considered I still fell pretty confident about it and Sunday's game against the Pacers certainly helped.  As if it wasn't tough enough to stop the Heat with just LeBron and D Wade going off Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers decided to pitch in.  Bosh had 24 points shooting 11-15 from the field and Chamlers added 26 shooting 5-6 from 3 point range. 

If they can get that kind of production from those two guys we may have to start asking ourselves can they sweep the playoffs.  The only thing standing in the Heat's way is complacency.  They may have peaked a little too early winning their last 18 games in a row or they might get bored waiting for the games to have more meaning.  Either ways it goes all they have to do is flip the switch and it all comes back to them.  The team is too talented and the rest of the league is playing for 2nd place.  Here are some observations over the weekend.

Tiger Woods came back looking like Tiger Woods at the WGC-Cadillac Championship winning by two strokes over Steve Stricker.  It was the 17th time Tiger has won at Doral.  The next closest player has won there 3 times.  There's dominant and then there's Tiger Woods.  If he can win a major or two this year we may forget about window bashing episode a few years back.

Although the US was able to advance in the WBC it's pretty clear the best players in the world aren't American born.  I'd hate to see what a Caribbean all star team would look like.  Baseball is to Dominicans and Puerto Ricans what basketball is to the inner city.  it's a way out of poverty and despair.  As the sport declines in popularity here in the states it's never been bigger in those countries.

Utah, Houston, and Golden St. are suddenly on choke alert as the Lakers have won 16 of their last 22 games and currently have the 8th seed in the Western conference.  Over the last 8 games (before Sunday afternoon) Kobe Bryant is averaging 36 points 6 rebounds and 6 assists per game.  Steve Nash has found his shot and Dwight Howard is cleaning the glass like a Windex employee.  I'm still not 100% positive they will make the playoffs, but the Black Mamba's guarantee has certainly motivated the Lakers to play inspired ball.

Free agency has begun and in typical Pete Carroll fashion the Seahawks are looking to add Percy Harvin.  At his best Harvin is one of the most explosive players in the NFL.  At his worst he suffers from migraines and has a history of injuries.  For now I'm ok with the deal even if the Seahawks have to give up a 1st round pick to get him.  Your thoughts?


Friday, March 8, 2013

The Ricky Rubio Dilemma

Right now Ricky Rubio is my favorite NBA player to watch.  I like LeBron, Carmelo, Kobe, KD, and D Wade, but if I had to watch one person play it would be Rubio.  The guy is like a magician with the basketball and his court vision is leaps and bounds above anyone else in the league.  My dilemma is I've watched too much basketball in my lifetime to take him seriously.  Watching Rubio play is like watching the Harlem Globetrotters.  You marvel at the skill level, but you know that style of play isn't conducive to winning NBA basketball games.  Although he's entertaining to watch he's got flaws and can't be considered as one of the league's elite players.  Here are the issues I have with Rubio.

1.  The position.  At least 1/3 of the teams in the NBA have a better point guard than Ricky Rubio.  Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose (when he's healthy), Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo (when he's healthy), Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, and Jrue Holiday would all be considered above him if you were ranking the top point guards.

2.  His skill set.  Rubio plays no defense and his shot selection is questionable.  If he can't blow past you or throw a sensational dime he's basically a liability on the floor.

3.  His teammates.  Although it's no fault of his the supporting cast in Minnesota is less than desirable.  the Timberwolves are a MASH unit and without perennial all star Kevin Love to anchor the team it's a bunch of scrubs running around that don't accentuate Rubio's talents.  If you're passing to a bunch of players that can't really finish at the NBA level what's the point?

4.  The small market.  Ricky Rubio belongs on the big stage, but right now all the big markets are set at the point guard position.  Los Angeles (Steve Nash, Chris Paul), Chicago (Derrick Rose), Miami (LeBron James), New York ( Ray Felton, Deron Williams), and Boston (Rajon Rondo) don't have a use for his talents at this point.  He's at least 3 years out from joining one of those squads so his exposure is limited.  They even have a commercial that eludes to this.  Who wants to see Atlanta vs. Minnesota if they have a choice.

Ricky Rubio isn't a finished product and his game has major weaknesses, but that doesn't mean he's not exciting to watch.  Basketball is about more than sensational passes and court vision however and losing teams don't draw a lot of attention.  Still the entertainment value is there and once you see him play you'll definitely want to see more of this guy.  Fortunately he's only 22 with a bright future.  Hopefully Minneapolis isn't the last stop for Mr. Rubio. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The 2006 NFL Draft

The 2006 NFL draft was supposed to be one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.  It was packed with Heisman trophy winners, national champions,  and players that were supposed to dominate at the next level.  7 years later it appears Mel Kiper Jr, Todd McShay, and countless other experts got it all wrong.  The class of 2006 has been a major disappointment filled with drama queens and underachievers.  There are several franchises (Arizona, Tennessee, Oakland) that still haven't fully recovered from the selection they made that year.  Let's take a look at the first 10 players selected.

1.  Mario Williams.  The highest paid defensive player in NFL history.  That being said Mario has never really become what the Texans thought he would be.  Not sure what Buffalo was thinking giving him all that money.

2.  Reggie Bush.  The comparisons to Gayle Sayers and the notoriety that came from winning a national championship and a Heisman painted a bulls eye on his back from the start.  Although he's shown flashes of brilliance he's not an every down back and most teams would rather not take the chance on him considering he has durability issues.

Vince Young.  Vince recently wrote former coach Jeff Fisher a letter apologizing for his immature attitude and lack of preparation during his years in Tennessee.  Although I'm sure it was heart felt it's probably too little too late.  HE was supposed to be what Cam Newton and RGIII have become.  What could have been.

4.  D'Brickashaw Ferguson.  Anyone seen Key and Peele's skit on the East/West game?  This guy was the inspiration for that.  The only true perennial Pro Bowler of the bunch.  The Jets got their money's worth.

5.  A.J. Hawk.  There was a lot of hype surrounding A.J when he came out of Ohio State and occasionally he looks the part.  Most of the time however he looks like a 4th rounder in a battle to keep his job every week. 

6.  Vernon Davis.  Vernon didn't really start to turn things around until Mike Singletary got in his ass for being soft and wasting his talent.  Since then He's a top 5 tight end in the league.  He was on the cusp of being labeled a bust, but for now it looks like he's turned the corner.

7.  Michael Huff.  The Raiders were expecting an impact player.  They ended up with Michael Huff.  To say they are disappointed would be an understatement.

8.  Donte' Whitner.  If you don't watch the NFL network religiously or live in San Francisco you've never heard of this guy. 

9.  Ernie Sims.  A top 10 pick?  I think not.

10.  Matt Leinart.  Heisman trophy winner.  National champion.  The pretty boy with charisma.  Too bad none of that has translated to winning football games on the field.  Arizona is still looking for their quarterback of the future.  If things had gone according to plan Leinart would be in the prime of his career instead of holding a clipboard for fellow USC alum Carson Palmer in Oakland. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Is Joakim Noah A Superstar?

Over the last few games I have been closely observing the play of Joakim Noah because I didn't want to make any rash decisions following his historic performance last Thursday night.  Part of me wanted to say it was just a fluke, but 23 points, 21 rebounds, 11 blocks, shooting over 65% from the field has never been done before.  Part of me wanted to put him in the conversation of elite centers, but he's never showed this kind of dominance at any point in his collegiate or professional career.  A bigger sample size was needed to make an informed opinion.

To my surprise Noah followed up his monster game with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks against Brooklyn and 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 1 block against Indiana.  On the surface those kind of numbers certainly warrant consideration for a spot on the All NBA 3rd team roster.  Statistics don't always tell the whole story however.  Steph Curry went 11 for 13 from the 3 point line last week.  Does that make him the best shooter in the league?  Kevin Durant leads the league in scoring.  Does that make him the best player in the NBA?  Is stopping Joakim Noah really the focal point of any team's defensive scheme?

I'm not hating on the guy, but I'm not ready to build my franchise around him either.  Noah's always been a high energy player that gives you maximum effort every night and gets the most out of his ability.  His passion and intensity for the game fires up his teammates and keeps the home crowd engaged.  These are intangibles many people take for granted when assessing the impact a player has on the game yet he doesn't scare me in the least.

My final analysis?  Joakim Noah is a good player that had a great game.  I can't see him duplicating his tremendous accomplishment again in the future.  That being said he's a warrior you would love to have on your team, but not someone you should expect to carry you night in and night out.  Your thoughts?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Weekend Observations

I know it's still early and anything can happen, but barring some unforeseen catastrophe or heartbreaking injury the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder will play for the NBA championship this year.  After watching the Heat come back from a 16 point halftime deficit at the Garden and the Thunder pull out a victory at the Staples Center it's apparent that LeBron and KD can raise their game to a level other players can't reach.

  Although New York and Los Angeles kept the games competitive and made their opponents earn the victory they didn't have the extra gear to get it done when it counted.  Some have argued that the outcome of regular season games are irrelevant and I would agree with that to a certain extent, but in the case of the Heat and the Thunder it's important to establish a precedence.  If you can't step up and defeat the conference champion at home what makes you think things will be different when the lights get brighter and the games more meaningful?  The Clippers and the Knicks are very good teams, just not champions.  Here are some observations over the weekend.

Gonzaga will get it's first number one ranking in school history this week.  I'm impressed with their record (29-2) and their potential number one seed in the tourney, but I'll be honest.  I can't name a single player on their team and I doubt they have the talent to win it all.  That doesn't take away from the accomplishment however.  Way to go Zags!

Sport science named Bo Jackson the greatest athlete ever.  Personally I would have voted for Deion Sanders, the only athlete ever to play in a Super Bowl and a World Series game and the only athlete to ever play two professional sports in the same day.  Bo was an explosive force of nature, but his career wasn't long enough to receive such a prestigious honor.

#4 Michigan held off #9 Michigan St. 58-57 in dramatic fashion.  Sophomore Trey Burke had two key steals in the final seconds to secure the victory and tie the season series.  The Big 12 will be very popular on selection Sunday in a few weeks.

Magic Johnson is putting up a cool million to see LeBron James in the slam dunk contest.  Not sure what the fascination is with Bron Bron getting a slam dunk title, but if he finds a few more sponsors to match his initial offer we'll be sure to see LeBron in the contest next year.  Think he can take Blake "The Barbarian" Griffin in a dunk off?