The Road Home

31 03 2008

Inside 10 games now, and the battle for the West (top end this time!) is really hotting up.  Currently New Orleans sit atop the rankings, and the Spurs share the honours. 
LA Lakers, Phoenix, and Houston are all but a game, game and a half back. 
The Jazz are 3 games behind the NO/SA pairing, and with the schedule they face, it’s unlikely they’ll be in the fight to be top. 
For that matter, given the way Houston have been playing post-streak, we can probably Horneyseliminate them from the discussion too.

So that leaves us with New Orleans, San Antonio, the Lakers, and Phoenix.  Yes, other teams are a mathematical shot, but hey – the earth could stop spinning on it’s axis tomorrow and we could all fall off the planet too.  Shoganai.  So, Hornets/Spurs/Lakers/Suns… and what’s the road home like for them? 
New Orleans face: @Orlando, @Miami, host New York, GSW, Utah, @Minnesota, @LAL, @Sacramento, Clippers, @Dallas (6 away games, 4 home)
San Antonio will see: GSW, @Utah, @Portland, PHX, Sseattle, @LAL, @Sacramento, Utah (4 away, 4 home)
Los Angeles: Portland, Dallas, @Kings, @Portland, Clippers, NO, SA, Sacramento (2 away, 6 home)
Phoenix: Denver, @Denver, Minnesota, Dallas, @Memphis, @SA, @Houston, GSW, Portland (4 away, 5 home)

Of those games, New Orleans has 5 games that would could consider ‘tough’.  The Spurs have 5 as well.  LA has 3, and Phoenix 6 (ok, I’m counting Houston). 
For argument’s sake, let’s say that New Orleans wins 7 of 10, San Antonio 6 of 8, LA 7 of 8, and Phoenix 6 of 9.  That would mean that the Hornets finish with a record of 57-25, SA 57-25, LA 57-25, and the Suns at 55-27. 
Egads man! A three-way tie? Well, if that occurred, it would make life interesting, and would rest on who won what games. Currently the series season between the Hornets and the Spurs is a tie, LA & NO – New Orleans has a 2-1 edge, vs LA the Spurs hold the same. Both play LA in the last few games.
I don’t believe it’ll be a tie – call me a pessimist but I cannot see LA going 7-from-8 in the home stretch. I mean, I hope they do… I just think they’ll find a way to lose a game they shouldn’t (like the last week we’ve seen from them).

ItchyAt the lower end of the 8 it’s even more interesting, because someone from the nether regions of the standings is going to miss out. Currently Denver, Golden State & Dallas are all tied. If it were to remain that way, then by rights of how their games have gone the Golden State Warriors would miss out.  But… their last games are:
Dallas: @LAC, @GSW, @LAL, @PHX, seattle, Utah, @Portland, @seattle, NO
Golden State: @SA, @Dallas, @Memphis, @NO, Sacramento, Denver, LAC, @PHX, seattle
Denver: @PHX, PHX, Sacramento, @Seattle, @LAC, @GSW, @Utah, Houston, Memphis
GSW finish that run winning 5 of 9. Denver lose 3 of their last 9.
I see Dallas dropping somewhere between 4 to 6 games, and not making the playoffs.

I think the end standings will be:

  1. New Orleans Hornets
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. LA Lakers
  4. Utah Jazz
  5. Phoenix Suns
  6. Houston Rockets
  7. Denver
  8. Golden State

As I said before: find the man who thought of lottery protecting the 2008 pick in the Kidd deal, and give him a raise.

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Top Sports Stories in Japan…

31 03 2008

Delicious… Miwa OshiroTyping this from Kyushu.  Made part of the move (my furniture’s yet to join me, as are my family)… Still REALLY tired from the drive & unsettled sleeping arrangements, but tomorrow – new job.

Anyway, today’s top stories in Japan were:

  • Yakult wallops Tokyo Giants, 10-2 (NPB)… [Daily Yomiuri I now live in the territory of the Fukuoka Hawks, but I’ll always be a dragons-fan!  But no matter what – it’s always good to see Yomiuri get thrashed, and that’s 3 on the trot at the hands of Yakult…
  • Ishikawa makes debut in Japan (golf)… [Daily YomiuriThe teen Ryo Ishikawa, or “The Shy Prince” – but is he ‘man’ enough to save men’s golf in Japan?
  • Fukuoka thrashes the Lions (NPB)… [Daily YomiuriMy new local team (don’t worry, still a Chunichi Dragons fan) Fukuoka have now won 6 in a row…
  • Sakata defends the WBA Flyweight title (boxing)… [Mainichi ShimbunThere was a time where the world stopped for a good fight, not any more…
  • Mao’s a shining example of why sports matter (iceskating)… [Japan TimesJack Gallagher continues his love affair with ice-skaters…
  • Dragons beat Carp (NPB)… [Japan Times Yay!  Go Dragons!




The Fight Begins

30 03 2008

NBA.  Yes folks, it’s that time of the season again… where the various teams really get down to it and jostle for position.  With under a dozen games to go, it’s important to finish up in the best possible position – to get as high a percentage in the draft lottery as possible!

Pat Riley - his Heat are the worst team in Basketball?Yup, we’re going to see some less-than-average performances over the last remaining days of the NBA season, because the fight to get as low a position as possible ends up just as frenetic a battle as the fight to get into the playoffs.  And the thing about this fight is that it’s cross-conference.

Clearly Miami have the #1 seed in the battle for draft supremacy.  Their 13-59 season is 4 games… err… ‘ahead’ of their nearest rivals, the godawful sonics… and a further 2 ahead of the almost-as-bad Grizz & T-Wolves (should they get a capitals?).  But below the oh-so-cold Heat, it does indeed heat up.  As mentioned before, the race is on, and things could get… interesting.

With Miami on 13-59, the sonics on 17-56, Memphis 19-54, Minnesota at 18-53 and New Yawp at 20-52… we’re in for some bad basketball of truly epic proportions.





Virender Sehwag’s feat of fastest 300!

29 03 2008

NEWSFLASH: Hurricane Sehwag hit South Africa real bad today. There have been no casualties reported yet, but chances are many South African players are going to have heart burn, some like M Ntini most probably will have nightmares which will prevent them from getting sound sleep for quite some time… Economic damages are likely to run into millions as South African player’s brand value might tumble.

Alright, time to be serious, What a blinder of an inning… brilliant attack… daring, swashbuckling… but never ever did he seem in trouble. If one saw the innings, they would see that Sehwag was never in trouble. He was in control.

South Africa having made 540+ in their first innings, now see their lead drop to 40 odd runs with India having batted just 4 sessions… South Africa definitely seemed out of any ready answers to get wickets. Conditions are not easy for them… Chennai pitch is flat… but it has a history of dramatic crumbling in the last day.

Chennai is hot… I am an Indian, when I say hot, I MEAN IT IS HOT AS HELL!!! It is so humid in chennai and to see the South African players toil so hard, run so far… I feel bad for them…

Coming back to the hero of the day (and possibly for a lot longer time if he can break Lara’s record! ) . This was Sehwag’s 2nd score of 300+. That makes him only the 3rd person to ever have done so (Lara and Bradman are the only ones who have done that previously). He now holds the record for being the fastest in terms of balls faced to get to 300!

Sehwag never comes across as a typical test batsman, but he is the only one from the Indian team who ever seemed capable to make that big a score. He scores fast, relieves pressure of others, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman & Ganguly, they always seem to lose focus or run out of partners when attempting that.

Watching Sehwag play is a pleasure, that guy looks like he is out to enjoy his game… his last ten centuries have all been scores over 150… just that they are spread out…

Many scenes from today’s game are etched in my mind, one being Smith running all the way to the boundary and getting beaten by the ball at the last moment!!! Such was their day… no chances came their way, nor did they ever look like creating one…

So, at end of day 3 the score stands at (for complete scorecard click here) :

SA 1st innings – 540 all out

India 1st Innings – 468/1 Sehwag 309* Dravid 65*

Will Sehwag break Lara’s record??? I certainly will pray for that… looking at the way he batted, surely does not look like he needs any prayers!!!





Denver – Gonna Make It

29 03 2008

Denver Nuggets - playoff boundI’d say that Denver are going to make the playoffs.

And it’s really amazing that they’re not firmly in there yet. I mean, c’mon: a team with Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby and former all-star Kenyon Martin – not making the playoffs?
Almost unheard of.

Even more amazing is that with perennial defensive monster Camby on the team, they are so awful at ‘D’. Defense comes at a premium, and never more so than in the playoffs.
Thus far this year, all bar 2 losses have come with opponents scoring 100 or more points (more often than not, even in wins their opponents score 100+), most times over 110… and a whopping 10 times since the beginning of 2008 they have opponents scoring 115 or more.
Compare that to the San Antonio Spurs – 5 losses where the opponent scored 100 or more points, and the Lakers – 9.

Gettin’ mellow…But, I think they get there (the playoffs). They are playing better basketball at the moment, and this coincides with what will probably be a down period for both Dallas and Houston. Houston are probably a little too far ahead of Denver (5 games ahead), but the Mavericks hold only a 1 game advantage over the Nugs, and with Nowitzki out indefinitely… well, I’d say that the guy on the Mavs staff who suggested that the 2008 draft pick in the Kidd deal should be lottery protected – he deserves a nice lil’ bonus this year.





NRL 2008 ~ Round 3 Preview (March 28 – 31)

28 03 2008

What a shocker last week. If you followed my advice you would have only got two from eight in your tipping comp. This week throws up some more close calls with another QLD derby thrown into the mix.

Round 2 results:
Broncos 20 def Roosters 14
Bulldogs 25 def Rabbitohs 12
Raiders 20 def Panthers 16
Knights 13 def Sea Eagles 12
Tigers 30 def Cowboys 10
Warriors 30 def Eels 16
Sharks 17 def Storm 16
Dragons 30 def Titans 12

Round 3:
Eels vs Knights
With Tim Smith and Nathan Hindmarsh returning to the side, the Eels should be much better performed especially defensively. They missed 47 tackles last week against the Warriors so will need to improve drastically.

The Knights have uncovered another great your half in Scott Dureau, and in tandem with Jarrod Mullen they have a new halves pairing that will win them another premiership in a couple of years. Dureau looked like a veteran in the way he ordered his forwards around and was dead calm under pressure to kick the deciding field goal.
Eels by 4

Read the rest of this entry »





Reminder: April 5th Is ‘Unsung Player Day’

28 03 2008

So far, a few bloggers have contacted me with interest in participating in this… LOY’s Place, Stop Mike Lupica, Empty The Bench, The Court Reporters (over at NBA.com),Unsung Players… HoopsAddict, Hardwood Paroxysm, The On Deck Circle, Biased Fan.. amongst others.

Here at With Malice…, we’ll be keeping track of all the ‘Unsung Player Reports’ that occur on that day, as well as adding our own.