NBA Western Conference Previews? - Rough Start for Ozzie Guillen
Western Playoff Previews?
By Wayne Allyn Root:
If the NBA season ended today, and only the top four teams in each conference qualified for the playoffs, then the Western Conference matchups would be the Los Angeles Clippers at Oklahoma City, and the Los Angeles Lakers at the San Antonio Spurs. Those exact games are on the schedule tonight!
There's time for the seedings to get jumbled of course. San Antonio has a chance to catch Oklahoma City for the #1 spot in the Western brackets. The fourth-seeded Clippers are far from safe with Memphis breathing down their necks just a half game back. And, it should go without saying that EIGTH teams make the playoffs instead of four...and the last four Western teams in will be capable of scoring first round upsets.
Wednesday's big games aren't necessarily a pure playoff preview. But, we will at least see playoff intensity from many of the players on the floor.
The Clippers/Thunder game is remarkably devoid of injuries for this stage of the season...so I expect real playoff style basketball there. Oklahoma City will want to send a message about how they plan to take care of business and win the West. The Clippers know that now is the perfect time to remind everyone what Chris Paul can do in a big game.
The Lakers/Spurs game may NOT be as intense because Kobe Bryant is still being held out with a shin injury. Maybe the Lakers go hard for two or three quarters than accept that it's hard to beat the Spurs without Kobe. Maybe the Spurs don't get as fired up as they should and find themselves in a battle that goes right down to the wire.
I'm THE KING OF UPSETS for a reason! I know that tangibles and intangibles both play huge roles in determining when underdogs are going to get the money or win outright.
As we approach the final days of the regular season, these are the teams I'm most impressed with in terms of playing playoff style basketball and having a chance to win their conferences.
Orlando may have survived their soap opera, but I'm not enthusiastic about their postseason chances just yet. Too much water under the bridge. Philadelphia has struggled vs. good teams all year. They won't get to face New Jersey, Washington, or Charlotte in the playoffs. Atlanta is always a tweener that deserves to be in the playoffs but isn't scary enough to go deep.
You may be surprised that I have Indiana and New York up there (hopefully nobody is surprised about Boston given their recent hot streak). I'm not suggesting that Indiana or New York will win the East. I'm saying that I'm impressed with the style of basketball they've been playing. In handicapping terms, Indiana could definitely offer value as long as they stay alive. New York isn't even in the playoffs yet...but Mike Woodson has the team doing the right things in the halfcourt game on both sides of the floor.
I can't put the Lakers on the list until I see peak intensity for 48 minutes per game when Kobe is back in the lineup. This team struggled too much lately with BAD teams to trust them to go deep in the playoffs. Defending champion Dallas doesn't have the tools this year, and is basically playing a man short since Lamar Odom no-showed the season. What I see TONIGHT from the Clippers will determine whether or not I put them on the short list. They need to pick up the pace defensively from what I've seen.
The rest of the field...teams like Houston, Denver, Utah, or Phoenix if they get in...those guys will put on a good show in terms of entertaining basketball. But, it's hard to see them winning a best-of-seven in the first round unless the Lakers fall apart amidst a locker room of volatile personalities. Any of those teams could take advantage of a break...neither seems capable of making their own breaks for an extended time.
We have 11 pro hoop games to choose from on the Wednesday card, and I can assure you I'll be stepping out with my NBA TV Play of the Week and my BONUS plays. You can purchase those right here at the website. Be sure to check on my baseball too. If you have any questions about service options, call my handicapping office at 1-877-766-8946. One of my representatives will guide you to the program that best suits your individual needs.
It's crunch time in the NBA. I'm THE KING OF LAS VEGAS because I always win when it matters most. That's true in the NFL playoffs, the college bowls, March Madness, and now the stretch run and championship race in pro basketball. If you're ready to WIN and WIN BIG, go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
Coach Ron Meyer: Rough Start for Ozzie Guillen
This certainly wasn't what Ozzie Guillen or the Miami Marlins ownership was hoping for to start a "new era" with the 2012 season. In fact, it's hard to imagine how things could have gone much worse.
Miami was given the showcase season opener on ESPN last Wednesday to debut their brand new stadium, new uniforms, and new manager. They couldn't get anything going and lost in decisive fashion to the defending NL Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Miami then dropped two games in three at Cincinnati over the weekend. Instead of making a statement about a surge to playoff contention in the first few days of the new campaign, the team was 1-3.
Guillen offered up a stunning quote where he said he "loved" Fidel Castro and praised him for his longevity. Saying something like that as a manager of a team based in MIAMI may be one of the worst public relation fiascos any professional team has suffered in any sport. There's really only one city in American known for its Cuban population...a population that's there because of the horrors of the Castro regime. Unbelievable.
Heading into the season I was watching the Miami situation very closely because I always monitor managerial changes. As a former coach, that's my point of emphasis anyway. But, in BASEBALL, more than any other sport, you can typically track the change in fortunes for teams to what's happening at the manager's position. Bad or mediocre teams can improve very quickly because they refocus on what matters. Good teams can fall apart because they're mad about a change and don't respect the new guy.
At first glance, Guillen seemed like the ideal fit. Management loved him because of past relationships. He's a Hispanic leader in a Hispanic community. This is very important for getting a whole region behind a team. And, he likes the limelight...which means the media would be focusing on him every night rather than new players trying to adjust to their new surroundings. Many don't think of Guillen as a classic tactician. This team really didn't need that. They needed the strengths that Guillen brought to the table.
Then they were nailed right away by his biggest weakness. HIS BIG MOUTH!
Guillen has been suspended for five games by the Marlins because of his comments. That news came out Tuesday morning. That sounds about right to me given the nature of the remarks, but Guillen's known tendency to say outrageous things to get a laugh without realizing the consequences. It's easy to forget that Guillen is from Venezuela. Your world view is shaped by where you grew up. It's easy to forget where other people grew up when you're just speaking off the top of your head in front of microphones.
Can Miami put this bad first week behind them and contend in the NL East? To me, the answer is clearly YES. They won at Philadelphia on Monday...and the Phillies are the team they have to beat. Atlanta is expected to be a Wildcard contender...but they've started the season 0-4. Right now it's the New York Mets who are leading the division. It's hard to see them going the distance. Miami's ALREADY ahead of Philadelphia and Atlanta...that's what matters more than anything.
And, I have to say that Guillen is still a good fit for what this team needs now. Don't forget that he won a World Championship with the Chicago White Sox back in 2005. His act wore thin over the years. Baseball managers are often at their best in their early years with a team. Then, things stagnate over time until a change needs to be made. Miami has lightning in a bottle. They just need to stop holding their lightning rod in the air.
I've already talked about Guillen and Bobby Valentine here in my web articles. Other debut managers I'm studying at the moment are:
Mike Matheny, St. Louis
Dale Sveum, Chicago Cubs
Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox
I'll try to discuss their strengths and weaknesses before the month is out. Of course, we may have some surprise managerial moves in April in terms of FIRINGS if some of the projected contenders continue to lose. You should always be handicapping sports from a coaching perspective. In baseball, that means paying attention to the managers.
I'm the only handicapper with this style in the industry. That's why I do so much better than everyone else! You can see that for yourself by purchasing my top Baseball plays daily here at this website. Or, sign up for longer term service by calling 1-877-540-8787. Check on combination packages with the NBA when you call. Coaches really come to the forefront in the NBA down the home stretch and during the playoffs.
Miami may have been playing with fire when they hired Ozzie Guillen. I think it was a smart gamble. You're hardly gambling at all when you sign up with COACH RON MEYER! It's time for you to put a COACH IN YOUR CORNER!
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