Get ready for intense basketball.
Orlando vs Boston promises to be a titanic Eastern Conference Finals battle. They're two very smart and physical teams not strangers to pressure basketball. Boston won it all in 2007-08 but last year their injured squad was sent packing by Orlando. The Celtics are clicking. Everyone seems to be contributing by way of clutch shooting or key steals. Rajon Rondo has been nearly impossible to slow down (17.7 PPG). When defenses converge, Rondo dishes (11 A/G) to Ray Allen (18.3), Kevin Garnett (17.1) and Paul Pierce (16.6). Kendrick Perkins has been doing a fine job clogging up the lanes (2.30 blocks/game). Can they reach the Finals? Orlando seems to have their number winning 7 of last 10.
No team has solved Orlando this playoff season. The Magic are 8-0 dominating opponents by a whopping 101.0 to 83.8 margin. Dwight Howard (15.4 PPG, 11.3 REB, 2.8 BLK) & Co. shutting down opposing players with ease. Howard has been unstoppable hitting 68% from the field. Jameer Nelson connected 52% for 20.5 points. Rachard Lewis (54%, 16.4) and Vince Carter (16.9) kept Charlotte and Atlanta searching for answers. It's been a team effort from top to bottom. Magic have set their signts on one thing and one thing only. Winning Orlando's first NBA Championship. Will a one week layover between series leave Orlando rusty? Late nights and premature partying will have dire performance consequences if Magic players took unnecessary liberties.
Boston is flying high with renewed self confidence after frustrating Cleveland. They're healthy this time around and primed for revenge. Every game could go right down to the wire. Game 1 goes to Celtics as Magic struggle to sink baskets. Magic responds to wake up call by winning Game 2. Going Green? Celtics will take this memorable series in 7 hotly contested games.
It's power ranking time. A few movers and shakers creeping up the lists while favorites take a hit. NHL Playoffs produced a few surprises. Montreal stunned Pittsburgh. Boston 3 games to none lead vs Flyers has been erased (3-3). Tigers pitchers stymied potent Yankees lineup. Celtics sticking it to LeBron and Cavs. Lakers and Magic appear headed for another showdown. Baseball's first coaching casualty is KC's Hillman who was sacked Thursday after a dismal 12-23 beginning.
1- Tampa Bay (24-10): AL best 104 runs against, 2nd best 189 runs scored. Rays are for real.
2- Yankees (22-12): Hiccuped losing 3 of 4 in Detroit. Banged up but too strong to fold.
3- Minnesota (22-12): Creating ways to win. Banged up all year. Gardenhire one of mlb's best field generals.
4- Philadelphia (20-15): NL's strongest lineup expecting return of Rollins. Bullpen woes continue. Sign stealing scandal swept under rug by MLB.
5- San Diego (22-12): Young roster is beginning to believe. If SD lineup could hit they'd have mlb's best record. Lights out bullpen shutting down opponents.
6- Detroit (20-15): 3 of 4 from Yanks puts Tigers in thick of Central race. Look out if hot pitching continues.
7- St Louis (20-15): Lineup not producing runs and lacks big lefty stick. They need to make a trade.
8- Texas Rangers (20-15): AL West leaders have history of wilting in summer heat. Starting pitchers need to step up.
9- Washington (19-15): That's right, looked who cracked the top 10 !!!
10-Mets (18-16): Washington and Mets in top 10! Armageddon nearing?
1- LA Lakers: Only Phoenix stands in the way of another finals appearance.
2- Orlando: Breezed into Conference Finals. They want revenge from Championship loss to Lakers.
3- Phoenix: Climbed up a few notches after sweeping Spurs. Will fall with loss to LA.
4- Boston: Looking sharp as ever. Too much talent for Cavs to handle. Can they knock off Magic?
5- Cleveland: LeBron's injury and lack of coolness from supporting cast doomed Cavs vs Celtics.
6- Atlanta: Their future is bright.
7- Dallas: When will playoff chokes end?
8- Denver: Off seasons moves loom large.
9- San Antonio: Stunned themselves with loss to Phoenix.
10-Utah: Great young team. Great coach.
1- Washington: Still tops even though they were bounced early.
2- Chicago: Soon to be Stanley Cup Champs? Or, will it be San Jose?
3- San Jose: Conference Finals vs Chicago will be better than Cup matchup.
4- Vancouver: Solid team. Great season. Couldn't get past Chicago.
5- Detroit: Hot down the stretch. Out played by SJ in semi's.
6- Pittsburgh: How did they crumble vs Montreal?
7- Phoenix: Strong team ousted by Detroit in 7.
8- New Jersey: Coach resigned after stunning playoff defeat.
9- Buffalo: Fine team folded in playoffs.
10-Los Angeles: Future seems bright.
1- New Orleans: Super Bowl Champs.
2- Indianapolis: Great draft. Beefed up defense.
3- Minnesota: Favre will be back. Immediate impact top 2 draft picks.
4- Dallas: Playoff failures point to one thing... coaching staff. Roster is very strong. No team leader.
5- NY Jets: Ryan is building defense by thuggery. Opposing players will be crying uncle by halftime. Offense will mature quickly with great field position all game long.
6- San Diego: Fine tuned roster dumping LT. Great draft. D needs to step up in '10.
7- NY Giants: Injuries doomed D in '09. Maturing WR's could have big year. OL was terrible and will rebound.
8- Green Bay: Horrible draft. Total bust. Defense holds they key to future success (or failures).
9- Atlanta: Great draft addressing pressing needs.
10-Houston: Solid draft. If both lines play better, 2010 will be Texans' best season in franchise history. Solid draft results.
1- Ernie Els
2- Phil Mickelson
3- Jim Furyk
4- Anthony Kim
5- Steve Stricker
6- Tim Clark
7- Camilo Villegas
8- Ben Crane
9- Retief Goosen
(MLB rankings based on records thru 6 pm, 5/13/10)
Will Cleveland's front office resign LeBron James before he's eligible to file for free agency on July 1? Win or lose, tonight represents a very real possibility LeBron's days in Cleveland are finished.
The Cavaliers current 5 year run is best in team history. Back to back 60+ win seasons (current), 3 semi-final appearances, one conference final appearance and one NBA Finals loss. Not a bad run. All made possible by back to back NBA MVP, LeBron James. Cavs brass were banking on at least another Conference Finals this year. Standing in their way has been a determined Boston Celtics squad completely dominating James and the Cavs.
So what happens if Boston sends Cleveland packing tonight? Are the Cavs seriously considering dumping one of the NBA's biggest stars? A huge mistake. If Cleveland fears allocating a boat load of cash for one player then they'd be wise to consider a sign and trade deal. This would afford Cleveland leverage for obtaining talent in return for the NBA's reigning MVP. Letting James leave without seeking compensation is absolute insanity.
New York Knicks fans are keeping their fingers crossed. New York has done everything possible in anticipation of LeBron declaring free agency come July 1. They've dumped high priced players, cleared salary cap room, hired new front office personnel and a coaching staff. New York sports media has employed a full court press on airwaves near and far attempting to court James. Everything from championships on Broadway to luxurious homes has been discussed. A few other players have been targeted but, it's obvious James is their prime target. Time will tell.
Major League Baseball has told the Philadelphia Phillies to stop using binocular's from their bullpen during ballgames. Wednesday night, Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer was caught on live tv peering in towards home plate.
According to an ESPN.com article "FSN Rocky Mountain, the flagship broadcaster of the Colorado Rockies, showed Billmeyer using the binoculars to peer in on Colorado catcher Miguel Olivo while the Phillies were at bat in the top of the second inning. It also showed a quick image of Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino in the dugout on the bullpen phone in the top of the second."
All teams try to steal signs flashed from dugouts, third base coaches and catchers. Crossing the line is when devices are used from binoculars, cell phones, telephones, recorders and so on. Teams who notice a pitcher tipping off pitches or coaches flashing sloppy signs should not be flagged. In the Phillies case it's quite different. They've been accused on many occasions of stealing catching signals of opposing catchers using center field camera's and now binoculars from their own bullpen. This is flat out cheating. Will MLB's Commissioners Office take any concrete action or levy fines?
Philadelphia's NL East rival NY Mets complained of Phils stealing signs back in '07. By Boston in '08. Arizona in '10. Former Phillies shortstop, coach and manager Larry Bowa fluffed off rumors of sign stealing... "That's the rumor. Now, is it proven? No." Guess what Larry? Incriminating evidence has been found.
May 2010 has been packed with action and wide ranging sports stories. Arrests, playoff games, perfect games, taunts and tasers. Time to tackle a few eye catchers.
Lawrence Taylor was arrexted on rape charges stemming from his night with a 16 year old prostitute in upstate New York. LT's life keeps teetering on self destruction from cocaine abusing days to poor judgement. Now it's a rape rap. LT is no stranger to being arrested. So, why did LT forget one of his rights? To remain silent. LT admitted to arresting officers he paid $300 for sex but didn't realize the woman was actually an underage teenager. LT's latest drama will be played out in newspapers until its' conclusion. For more on athletes in trouble check out SportsRagePage.com
Two sports fans tasered in less than one week after creating disturbances. The first incident happened at Citizens Bank Park during a Phillies game. A moronic 17 year old teen jumped onto the field and began running. He managed to illude stadium security until a uniformed Philadelphia cop subdued the kid with a taser gun. The cop is now being investigated for excessive use of force. According to reports, the teen ignored his father's plea not to run onto the field. The rest was history. Fans should know if they're dumb enough to pull a stunt like this then expect a swift butt kicking when you're finally captured.
The second taser incident happened at The Players Championship golf event this weekend in Florida. Apparently a drunk Tiger Woods heckler refused to quiet down and soon went into another rant after being approached by St. Johns County Sheriff Deputies. When the deputies finally resorted to arresting the man he resisted and was quickly tasered. The PGA Tour commented immediately following with this statement: "The Tour's position is and has always been that anything that disrupts the competition or the enjoyment of our fans will be dealt with accordingly, as was the case today."
Does anyone remember Yankees Alex Rodriguez vs A's Dallas Braden brouhaha? It started a couple of weeks ago when ARod ran across the mound on his way back towards the Yankees dugout after being retired by the A's southpaw pitcher. Braden took exception and launched a bratty verbal tirade. Media outlets seized on this story and blew it way out of proportion. Braden's rants continued well after the game. ARod attempted to quell any further discussion by stating he didn't want "to extend his (Braden) extra 15 minutes of fame." Well guess what happened yesterday in Oakland? Braden's fame was forever extended. Dallas Braden pitched a perfect game vs Tampa Bay on Mother's Day. Braden's grandmother, who was in attendance watching her grandson's perfect gem, joined in the ARod bashing. After the perfect game grannie told ARod to "stick it". Congratulations Dallas Braden on your perfect game. Now stop whining and shut up!
Phoenix Suns finally beat San Antonio Spurs. Yes, that's right hoops fans, Phoenix beat the Spurs. San Antonio had disposed of Phoenix in four straight playoff series until Sunday. The Suns got the revenge this year by sweeping their arch rivals in a hard hitting series. It seemed like every Spurs mistake quickly turned into a Suns advantage. Don't expect much more from Phoenix in this years playoffs. Then again, never say never.
Surprise, surprise. Check out baseball's pitching leaders. Not quite a who's who of household names. American League ERA leaders are: CJ Wilson (Tex) 1.51, Phil Hughes (NYY) 1.69 and Doug Fister (Sea) 1.71. National League's top 3: Ubaldo Jiminez (Col) 0.93, Livan Hernandez (Was) 1.04 and Jaime Garcia (STL) 1.18. Hardcore baseball fans know these names well while many others have been asking "Who?" Let's see if these guys can keep up early season successes for the long haul.