April 16, 2009

A wonderful night of sports

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Ice Hockey, Soccer

With the three major sports and hockey all making headlines yesterday, there’s much to talk about in the sports universe. Even European soccer had some high-level action going with Champions League play. You have to love April for sports.

The NBA wrapped up their regular season last night and so the playoffs (and lottery) and set. I won’t get too deep into round-ball talk right now since the Intern is prepping something for the playoffs, so I’ll keep this brief. LeBron is the clear-cut MVP, but what Kobe, Wade and Chris Paul did this season would have garnered them the award any other season. We’re really in for some great playoff action, even if there’re only three true contending teams.

While it was justified, I don’t think that LeBron should have been given the night off completely for the last game of the season. The Cavs had a chance to notch a home record of 40-1 and lost in OT to a Sixers team that achieved .500 with the victory. With King James in the lineup, that never would have happened.

Quickly, I’ll just say that of the first round matchups, the ones to watch will be New Orleans-Denver, Portland-Houston and Boston-Chicago. The rest — with the possible exception of Miami-Atlanta — should be cake walks.

Whoever thought that Manchester United was in trouble after their 2-2 draw at home to Porto, they thought wrong. Man U is clearly one of the best in the world and that showing was an obvious aberration. They’ll move on to face English rival Arsenal after the Gunners beat-down of Villareal, who had little chance at Anfield. English teams have proven once again that they’re on top of the world with three of the final four in Europe’s premier tournament and Barcelona-Chelsea shaping up to be a huge goal-scoring series.

Hate to say I told you so about the Capitals. Actually, since I like being right, I do enjoy I-told-you-so-ing. Losing Game 1 at home can be quite demoralizing; now it’s up to them to decide which way they’ll go next game. After Game 2 they’ll either hit the road feeling weak and beaten or come together and have good bounce back. I think they looked awful last night and the first possibility is a real one.

Elsewhere, there wasn’t too much to talk about. Three top seeds winning including two semi-blowouts don’t conjure too much interest up.

You have to love that first week or two of the MLB season. It’s really the only time of the year that teams like Florida, Kansas City, San Diego, Seattle and Toronto will be atop their divisions. Even the Pittsburgh Pirates are at .500. It really gives hope to fans of smaller market teams that their team could be the next Tampa Bay Rays and ride the teams they’ve watched assembled over many painful years.

And hey, the second cycle of the season? This is turning out to be a highly offensive year in baseball.

I don’t know what kind of Kool-Aid that the NFL schedule makers were drinking, but I have a few qualms with it. I’m a Cowboys fan and even I think that six night games is too much. It’s too much for any team and the prime time slots should be divvied up a bit better … Five prime-timers for Miami? One comeback season doesn’t mean they’re a big draw … The Bears would never have received five tentative night games with Kyle Orton at the helm. And is Jay Cutler really that much of a ratings draw? This team was awful last year and these night games are a knee-jerk reaction to the Cutler deal … Looking at the Patriots schedule, I don’t see them finishing worse than 12-4 … How are the Colts hosting their annual match with the Pats again? … The Falcons will regress from last year’s surprising campaign. 14 of their opponents were above .500 last season. In fact, the entire NFC South should be looking at a rough season … Finally, can’t wait for Week One with the Bills (with T.O.) vs. the Pats (with Brady) both in throwback uniforms.

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