Sunday NBA & MLB Summaries
RACE FOR EAST LOOKS LIKE A TWO-TEAM RACE
In our Sunday edition of the NOTEBOOK, we looked closely at the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, and Orlando Magic to see who had the profile most fitting of a championship caliber team. Sunday's TV games matching those teams did nothing to change what the stats were suggesting.
- Chicago's in great shape...
- Miami has much more going for them right now than Boston does...
- Boston looks too old, and has very little on the bench that can help the guys who do the heavy lifting. That's true even if Shaquille O'Neal comes back givens his likely rustiness...
- Orlando needs to make a ton of three-pointers just to be competitive...and it's very hard to make a ton of three pointers all through the playoffs!
Let's crunch the numbers from Boston-Miami and Chicago-Orlando from the NBA, then look at a few select baseball games as well...
MIAMI 100, BOSTON 77
Shooting Percentage: Boston 45%, Miami 51%
Three-Pointers: Boston 6/13, Miami 6/18
Free Throws: Boston 13/16, Miami 18/26
Rebounds: Boston 26, Miami 42
Turnovers: Boston 14, Miami 17
Vegas Line: Miami by 6, total of 182.5
Notebook: The most amazing thing about this game is the fact that Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen 22 of 38 from the field (a sizzling 58%), the Celtics got annihilated! If you lose by 23 points when the old guard is doing well, what's going to happen when the shots aren't falling?! You see big edges for the Heat on the boards and in terms of attacking the basket. Miami shot over 50% from the field despite shooting 33% on treys. Miami earned 10 more trips to the free throw line too. The rebounding edge was a monstrous +16. And, this is a game Boston NEEDED. Yes, they kind of threw in the towel after falling behind by double digits in the second half. We're not going to suggest that 100-77 is the "typical" final score for a game between these teams at this site. It's fairly obvious right now though that Miami is playing much better ball...and that Boston has little confidence in its ability to go 48 hard minutes vs. quality teams. They were outclassed down the stretch by Chicago on Thursday. They were invisible in the second half here.
There is still time to get thing in gear. Boston treaded water for the last 50 games last year before getting hot in the playoffs. They will probably play better than we saw this week. But, all that being said, the Kendrick Perkins trade has killed the spirit of this team...and last year's bench was much more of a force than this year's bench is. We won't be optimistic unless we see a dominant performance in the first round of the playoffs against either New York or Philadelphia. And even then, it may take a road win in Round Two before we're believers again.
CHICAGO 102, ORLANDO 99
Shooting Percentage: Chicago 60%, Orlando 43%
Three-Pointers: Chicago 7/13, Orlando 12/24
Free Throws: Chicago 23/26, Orlando 17/21
Rebounds: Chicago 37, Orlando 33
Turnovers: Chicago 21, Orlando 13
Vegas Line: Chicago by 6.5, total of 183
Notebook: Dwight Howard sat out with a suspension. In that sense, it's great that Orlando could hang with Chicago and cover the number. But, you'll note that Chicago played an EXTREMELY sloppy game...suffering 21 turnovers against a team that's weak defensively when Howard is out. Also, Orlando needed to make 12 of 24 treys just to be there at the end. You can't count on a dozen bombs per game and 50% shooting from long range. A second round meeting between these two teams probably wouldn't yield any replays. Chicago won't shoot 60% with Howard on the floor, but won't turn the ball over that much either. Orlando is capable of having hot games from long range, but can't do that on command.
It wasn't an ideal proxy for what we'll see in a couple of weeks. But, nothing that happened today should change your mind about what we knew coming in. Chicago is the best in the East. Only nervousness from lack of experience (or injuries) could derail them in the early rounds. Miami has the horses, but may not be ready to thrive late in close games. That's going to matter eventually. Boston and Orlando have floated back out of the race in our view. We'll certainly keep a keen eye on the first round to see if they can play their way back into serious consideration.
For tonight, Network's got its own big two games--our Eastern Confererence Parlay of the Year is set for Monday and you can still get on board by clicking here.
We have room for a few baseball summaries from Sunday. Let's check in on some name teams and see how they performed...
PHILADELPHIA 3, ATLANTA 0
Total Bases + Walks: Philadelphia 13, Atlanta 7
Starting Pitchers: Hamels 7 IP, 0 ER, 9 K's; Lowe 7 IP, 2 ER, 2 K's
Vegas Line: Atlanta -115, total of 8.5
Notebook: They haven't been indestructible, but the loaded Phillies haven't had any troubles proving they're the class of the National League (unlike the Red Sox over in the American League). This win brings them to 7-2 on the year. Atlanta was supposed to be their toughest competition in the NL East. The Braves fall to 4-6 with the loss...and made it clear at home that they're not ready to compete right now for the division crown. This was a message-sending series. Philly sent the message.
MILWAUKEE 6, CHICAGO CUBS 5
Total Bases + Walks: Cubs 23, Milwaukee 24
Starting Pitchers: Coleman 5 IP, 4 ER, 2 K's; Gallardo 5 IP, 4 ER, 2 K's
Vegas Line: Milwaukee -200, total of 8.5
Notebook: These two teams were projected to battle Cincinnati and St. Louis for the NL Central crown. Many liked Milwaukee to finish on top given their off-season acquisitions. Today lifts them to 5-5 for the season. But, that's come against a home-heavy schedule that's seen 7 games in Milwaukee but only three on the road. The Cubs are 4-5, which is worse than it looks because two-thirds of their games have been at home. Note that the roof was open today, with a surprising 76-degree temperature favoring hitters. That took away some of Gallardo's edge on the mound...but then gave the Brewers sluggers an edge at the plate. We're not optimistic about the Cubs being much of a factor based on what we've seen thus far. Nobody's truly impressed...as the Reds 6-3 mark has been home heavy.
ST. LOUIS 6, SAN FRANCISCO 1
Total Bases + Walks: St. Louis 22, San Francisco 7
Starting Pitchers: Lohse 8 IP, 1 ER, 5 K's; Zito 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 1 K's
Vegas Line: San Francisco -135, total of 8.5
Notebook: The Cards stopped a slump with a dominating win. They're just 3-6 on the season though. The defending World Champions fall back under .500 for the year at 4-5. Barry Zito continues to be a slow starter who's worth fading until he gets his rhythm. Big game for Lohse, but he's not somebody you can count on to deliver like this all the time.
TEXAS 3, BALTIMORE 0
Total Bases + Walks: Texas 15, Baltimore 12
Starting Pitchers: Holland 6 IP, 0 ER, 6 K's; Guthrie 6 IP, 1 ER, 1 K's
Vegas Line: Texas by -120, total of 9
Notebook: Suddenly a marquee series with the Orioles playing so well out of the gate, and Texas waving the AL Championship banner in their home stadium. The Rangers take two of three here to move to 8-1 on the season. That is a home heavy mark...but that's three wins over the talented Red Sox, then two wins here against a team that's been rock solid under Buck Showalter. Are the Rangers the new Yankees?! We won't go that far. Yet. Baltimore falls to 6-3, but is still a team we're going to take in value spots until more people start taking them seriously.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX 6, TAMPA BAY 1
Total Bases + Walks: Tampa Bay 11, CWS 20
Starting Pitchers: Niemann 2.2 IP, 3 ER, 1 K's; Floyd 8 IP, 0 ER, 8 K's
Vegas Line: Chicago -155, total of 8
Notebook: This Rays disaster is almost inexplicable. Just when a book comes out about how the organization is run by geniuses who know how to find an edge because of their business experience, the whole team falls apart! The Rays are 1-8 with this loss, and more than half their games have been played at home. Manny Ramirez had to retire because he couldn't outsmart the drug testers. Obviously the talent on hand is much better than 1-8. But, the doomsayers look like they were right about the team taking a big step backward this season. Chicago moves to 6-3. The good news is that they're three games ahead of Minnesota and Detroit, the teams they thought they'd be battling for the AL Central crown. The bad news is that they're NOT head of surprising Cleveland and Kansas City!
That wraps up our look at selection Sunday action. Back tomorrow to talk about San Antonio/LA Lakers on TNT and take a more expansive look at the whole Western Conference playoff picture (we talked about the Eastern powers in our Sunday NOTEBOOK). You can expect more baseball and basketball throughout the week. Then, this Saturday, THE NBA PLAYOFFS BEGIN! We'll take you game by game with previews and summaries from opening day all the way through the championships in June.
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Monday Night highlights include:
Tampa Bay at Boston (or is this a lowlight?!)
Colorado at NY Mets
Cincinnati at San Diego
LA Dodgers at San Francisco
Miami at Atlanta
Orlando at Philadelphia on the NBA Network
Dallas at Houston
Oklahoma City at Sacramento on the NBA Network
Back Tuesday to talk more hoops. Now...go enjoy some MONDAY NIGHT MAGIC with handicapping legend JIM HURLEY!
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