Archive for January, 2010

NBA Rankings (1/25)

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (34-11)
2. Los Angeles Lakers (33-11)
3. Boston Celtics (28-13)
4. Denver Nuggets (29-14)
5. Atlanta Hawks (28-14)
6. Dallas Mavericks (29-15)
7. Orlando Magic (29-15)
8. Portland Trail Blazers (27-18)
9. San Antonio Spurs (25-17)
10. Utah Jazz (25-18)
11. Phoenix Suns (26-19)
12. Houston Rockets (24-19)
13. Memphis Grizzlies (23-19)
14. Oklahoma City Thunder (24-20)
15. Miami Heat (23-20)
16. New Orleans Hornets (23-20)
17. Toronto Raptors (23-22)
18. Charlotte Bobcats (21-21)
19. Chicago Bulls (20-22)
20. Los Angeles Clippers (20-23)
21. Milwaukee Bucks (18-24)
22. New York Knicks (17-26)
23. Philadelphia 76ers (15-28)
24. Detroit Pistons (15-28)
25. Sacramento Kings (15-28)
26. Indiana Pacers (15-29)
27. Washington Wizards (14-29)
28. Golden State Warriors (13-29)
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-36)
30. New Jersey Nets (3-40)

NBA Rankings (1/19)

The NBA Rankings are on schedule. Due to the MLK Holiday, and the daytime games, we here at TSX decided to wait until Tuesday to release the rankings. It’s a short week, and the Rankings will be back next Monday.

With that said, did the Lakers remain at #1 for the fourth week in a row? Who is rising and making some serious noise right now? Are the New Jersey Nets really on pace for the worst record in NBA history. Let’s go to the Rankings…

1. Los Angeles Lakers (32-9) (previous ranking: 1) The Lake Show has gotten the job done. And they are getting production from everybody in the process. The bench has done a great job picking up the slack when Kobe Bryant struggles, as displayed against the Orlando Magic.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers (31-11) (previous ranking: 2) The Cavs are #2 for the fourth straight week, but the good news is that Boston’s struggles due to injuries have given them a little bit of separation in the East. They need to take advantage of this time.

3. Boston Celtics (27-12) (previous ranking: 3) Boston has been ravaged by injuries. They have done well until now. The lack of depth and the thin bench is showing. These guys need to heal up by April to have any shot of a run for an 18th championship.

4. Dallas Mavericks (27-14) (previous ranking: 4) The Mavericks are still a team to watch out for. As good as they are, can they keep this momentum in the playoffs. It is good to see them keeping pace with the Lakers.

5. Denver Nuggets (26-14) (previous ranking: 9) The Nuggets had a 3-0 week, and that was good enough to boost them up four spots and into the top 5. Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups are healthy again, and with Ty Lawson complimenting them, the Nuggets are priming to make noise in the West again. The Lakers better watch out.

6. Atlanta Hawks (26-14) (previous ranking: 6) 3-1 week puts Atlanta in first place in the Southeast Division. One thing about them is that once they get into first place, they get too comfortable and struggle. Mike Woodson needs to keep his team focused.

7. Orlando Magic (26-15) (previous ranking: 5) Another 1-3 week for Orlando. The passion that this team had a year ago is not there. And they are much deeper than last year. Is Stan Van Gundy beginning to lose his voice in Orlando?

8. San Antonio Spurs (25-15) (previous ranking: 7) The Spurs climb up the rankings took a tumble despite a 3-1 week. The Nuggets surge and the Hawks decent week knocked them back a spot, but this team is starting to get going again, and eventually they will overtake Dallas in the Southwest Division.

9. Portland Trail Blazers (25-17) (previous ranking: 10) The Trail Blazers found ways to win when Brandon Roy is out, which is good. They did do better this week, with a 2-1 record as opposed to last week.

10. Phoenix Suns (24-18) (previous ranking: 8] The Suns are fading, and losing to red hot Charlotte, Atlanta and Memphis on the road are examples of why. They are 9-14 on the road and are showing that the West-to-East trips are not the best kind.

11. Oklahoma City Thunder (23-18) (previous ranking: 12) The Thunder are just going to be better and better in time. Sam Presti has gone young, and this team is thriving. Many are talking Kobe and LeBron for MVP, but can we get a mention for Kevin Durant?

12. Houston Rockets (23-18) (previous ranking: 11) The Rockets had a 2-2 week, but there is no room for mediocrity in the West. They have the Thunder, Jazz, Hornets, and out of nowhere, the Grizzlies to worry about. They need consistency night in and night out.

13. Utah Jazz (23-18) (previous ranking: 14) A 3-1 week puts the Jazz up a spot as they try to keep pace with the Rockets, Thunder, Grizzlies, and Hornets out West. The question with them now is: Are they going to trade Carlos Boozer. This team is starting to win more, but they are strapped for cash. We shall see.

14. Memphis Grizzlies (22-18) (previous ranking: 16) The Grizzlies have won nine straight at home, a franchise record, and are in fourth place in the Southwest Division. Had this been mentioned at the start of the season, there probably would’ve been a lot of crazy looks. Zach Randolph has been an impressive leader for this team, and is making everyone look better and keep their focus. Michael Heisley has to be pleased.

15. New Orleans Hornets (21-19) (previous ranking: 13) 2-3 week for the Hornets has them in the cellar in the Southwest Division at 21-19. Go figure. They need to win as much as they can to keep in the hunt, especially with the Grizzlies playing so well.

16. Charlotte Bobcats (20-19) (previous ranking: 19) Five straight wins, eight straight wins at home, and great defense has the surprising Bobcats up three spots in the rankings, and #5 in the Eastern Conference. This is the first time in team history that Charlotte has had a winning record at this point.

17. Miami Heat (20-19) (previous ranking: 15) Miami went 2-2 for the week, and lost two spots due to the surges of the Grizzlies and Bobcats. This team is a lot better than their record is showing. At least on paper.

18. Toronto Raptors (21-20) (previous ranking: 17) Bosh & Bargnani are playing some dynamic ball, and the Raptors finally have a winning record after all these weeks. If there is a rumor that the Raptors will trade Bosh (specifically to the Lakers), keep dreaming. It’s likely he will leave, but Bryan Colangelo will do everything in his power for him to stay.

19. Chicago Bulls (18-21) (previous ranking: 21) The Bulls had a 3-1 week. Again. As soon as Vinny del Negro is written off, he has a good week. Maybe people need to continue to tell him he’s going to be gone as a head coach.

20. Los Angeles Clippers (18-22) (previous ranking: 18) 1-4 week plus the news that Blake Griffin is done for the year. Not a good week at all for the Clippers. They were getting competitive in the West, but could be reverting to old ways.

21. New York Knicks (17-24) (previous ranking: 22) 2-3 week moves the Knicks up a spot. This team is slowly coming around, as they are just two games out the final playoff spot in the East at the halfway point. There is hope in the Big Apple.

22. Milwaukee Bucks (16-23) (previous ranking: 20) The Bucks went 1-4 this week, and received news that Michael Redd was done for the season (again) with a torn ACL (the same one from last year). They are on the verge of signing Jerry Stackhouse, but that won’t have much of an impact.

23. Sacramento Kings (15-25) (previous ranking: 23) The answer to the Kings peaking the previous week is confirmed. They have peaked after an 0-4 week. It was a good run while it lasted. Ever notice this team plays better WITHOUT Kevin Martin?

24. Indiana Pacers (14-26) (previous ranking: 28) How the Pacers missed Danny Granger. The comments about the Pacers improving are taken back. Even though Al Jefferson did have 26 rebounds in a game which would REALLY help Indiana.

25. Detroit Pistons (14-26) (previous ranking: 26) The Pistons losing streak was stopped at 13, and they responded with a 3-1 week. Can this team be on the mend fully and engineer a turnaround? Despite the 14-26 record, they are 4 1/2 games out of 8th in the East.

26. Washington Wizards (14-26) (previous ranking: 24) The Wizards are moving on with out the Gilbert Arenas fiasco. The only problem is that the big contract they gave him. It could get ugly. Still a long process before the “divorce” is finalized.

27. Philadelphia 76ers (13-27) (previous ranking: 27) 2-2 week for the Sixers, and they stay right at the same spot. No change for them and nothing to say really. The team is loaded with talent, and it’s sad to see that talent being wasted.

28. Golden State Warriors (12-27) (previous ranking: 25) The Warriors are an even more of a disaster now than they have ever been all season. They play no defense, and they don’t have another scorer aside from Monta Ellis. Not much for even a good coach like Don Nelson to work with.

29. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-33) (previous ranking: 29) Well it is good to see that Minnesota will avoid the 9 win mark. Unless they lose the next 40 games. That would be very scary.

30. New Jersey Nets (3-37) (previous ranking: 30) So if this was the case after 41 games, if the Nets post the same record over the next 41 games, they’d finish at either 8-74 or 6-76. The team is back, they have given up. Sad to see.

Be back next Monday with a new edition of Rankings.

NFL Divisional Playoff Recap

The Divisional Playoffs are over with, and we are now into the final four. Super Bowl trips to Miami will be on the line, and it is clear that three of the top four teams in the NFL showed up, and one team has gone back to their roots and decided to crash the party.

Arizona 14, New Orleans 45- All this talk about the Saints faltering was just that… talk. The Saints put on a show in their first ever game as the top seed in the NFC, and the magical run continued with Drew Brees picking apart the Arizona defense much like Aaron Rodgers did with the Green Bay Packers. The only difference in this game: The Saints had a defense to compliment the offense, and behind Brees’ three touchdown passes, and two Reggie Bush touchdowns (one run, one punt return). The Cardinals, the defending NFC East champions, appeared to have set the tone early for a shootout, scoring on the opening drive to go up 7-0, but the Saints responded with 21 unanswered points, and eventually outscored Arizona 45-7 the rest of the way. Arizona set a new NFL record for most points allowed in two playoff games (90), and it could be the end of a career for Kurt Warner, who according to a source, was retiring after the playoffs, but Warner will take time to think his decision through. The Saints will host the NFC Championship game, but against who?

Ravens 3, Colts 20- Peyton Manning went 30-44, for 246 yards, with two touchdowns, and the Colts defense shut down the rushing game of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee and also forced four turnovers as well. Manning threw touchdown passes to Austin Collie and Reggie Wayne in the first half to cruise to a 17-3 halftime lead. The Ravens, whose only scoring came from a Billy Cundiff field goal, just could not get anything going, and a season removed from being a game from the Super Bowl, they get handed their eighth straight loss to Indianpolis, and with the Colts’ victory, Manning got his first win after a bye-week. He was 0-3 coming into the playoffs after a week of rest in his career.

Dallas 3, Minnesota 34- Brett Favre’s revival continues. The opportunity to play for a championship and a Super Bowl was what he wanted, and he had possibly the best game of his career in the postseason. Favre threw four touchdowns (three to Sidney Rice), and the Vikings defense sacked Dallas QB Tony Romo six times and forced him into three turnovers, and Minnesota punched a ticket to New Orleans to face the Saints for the NFC Championship. Favre went 15-24 for 234 yards, but created a stir among the Cowboys, with a late touchdown score. Dallas LB Keith Brooking took exception for that Minnesota was running up the score on his team. Expect a great game in the Duel at the Dome for a trip to the Super Bowl between the Vikings and Saints.

NY Jets 17, San Diego 14- The party crashers have arrived in the form of Gang Green. The New York Jets’ rookies came of age and are maturing in the two short weeks of the playoffs. Shonn Greene ran for 128 yards, including a 53 yard TD run that proved to be the difference, and created yet another San Diego jolt in the team’s recent run. This game reminded the Charger fans of the 14-2 season that led to Marty Schottenheimer’s firing. Philip Rivers threw for 298 yards on 27-40 passing, but he threw a costly interception which led to his counterpart, rookie Mark Sanchez to find Dustin Keller for a 3 yd pass to put New York up 10-7. Greene’s run put New York up 17-7. The Chargers scored on a Rivers’ QB sneak, but the Jets sealed the victory on 4th & 1 to move on and punch their ticket to Indianapolis.

Check back Saturday for the Conference Championhship picks and who will be going to Miami for Super Bowl XLIV.

Divisional Playoff Thoughts

Wild Card Weekend over, the Divisional Playoffs begin this weekend. The top teams in both conferences will take the field, and the usual question comes about: rest or rust? Let’s go straight to the games.

Cardinals/Saints- If there was any indication that this game would be like the highest scoring playoff game in NFL history yesterday, the advantage would definitely go to New Orleans. The Saints are an explosive offensive team, but three straight losses to close out the season is not really a good look. You could say the Carolina loss was b/c of reserves, but New Orleans did lose to Dallas and Tampa Bay. Arizona is the dark horse of the NFC, and they can definitely pull off the upset, and it was pretty much shown that they can match the Saints point for point, and there is no better time to do it then the playoffs. Anquan Boldin is a game-time decision, but Steve Breaston and Early Doucet did elevate their games, and the Cardinals have a stronger running game. The advantage goes to Arizona.

Ravens/Colts- These two teams met earlier in the season in Baltimore, with Indianapolis winning 17-15. One thing about the Ravens is that they have a great defense and a great running game. And with the playoff disappointments (except for 2006) that Peyton Manning has had over the years, you could say that the Ravens have the chance to win this game. The difference is that the Colts defense is underappreciated, and very efficient themselves. Also, despite the playoff failures, it is hard to go against Peyton Manning. The advantage definitely goes to Indy at the Big Oil Drum. If the Ravens win, it won’t be a surprise

Cowboys/Vikings- The Cowboys are the hottest and healthiest team in the playoffs. They are clicking on all cylinders. They proved that in two destructions of the Philadelphia Eagles in two weeks. But the Vikings are in the noisiest venues in the NFL. The Metrodome is going to be rocking, and Minnesota is 8-0 in 2009 at the Mall of America Field at the HHH Metrodome. The Vikings will win this game if Adrian Peterson takes care of the football, and Brett Favre continues his efficiency and mission to win a Super Bowl. Flozell Adams will definitely have his hands full with Jared Allen, and you can’t forget about that Williams’ Wall on the run defense. Advantage to Minnesota, but like the other games, it can go either way.

Jets/Chargers- The Jets defense against one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Chargers have won 11 in a row, but have experienced more playoff failures than the Colts, and the Jets who weren’t even supposed to be in the playoffs, let alone the divisional round are proving they belong. Mark Sanchez is home, so expect him to play with a lot of inspiration for his family, and he will manage the game. If Vincent Jackson can do what a lot of wide receivers could not do this season, and solve the problem of Darrelle Revis, the Chargers should pull it off. Either way San Diego has too many weapons on both sides of the ball for the Jets to handle. The Jets run should end.

So the final picks: Cardinals over Saints, Colts over Ravens, Vikings over Cowboys, and Chargers over Jets. Be back next Saturday for the Conference Championship previews. Until then, enjoy the games!

Mark McGwire- No Surprise

So Mark McGwire finally admits it. He used steroids in the 90s. There’s only one thing to say about this:

No, really, you don’t say?

Come on Big Mac, we have known this since the 1998 Home Run Chase. There was reports that you vehemently denied, and there was the Congressional Hearings where you was a complete mute. Why wait until you are to return to the St. Louis Cardinals as a hitting coach to confess all this?

As much as the people knew that this happened, this is no surprise in terms of the fact that another face of the Steroid Era of Major League Baseball has come clean. But there was never really a drug testing policy established, and players got away with any and every thing. So the questions of integrity can be raised, but people wanted to feel good about baseball again. Sure it took a 5-10 years later to uncover the ugly truth, but at the time, baseball was on life support. The 1994 strike and cancellation of the season and ultimately, World Series just took away people’s love for the game, due to greed and corruption from the owners and players. Jose Canseco did blow the whistle on the steroid abusers, and from Andy Pettitte to Roger Clemens to Alex Rodriguez. At least Pettitte and A-Rod admitted their wrongdoings, and they were forgiven.

But McGwire, his window of opportunity was shut down a long time ago. When he did not come forward at the Congressional Hearings, and just confess to what he did, he lost all credibility and his chance to be in the Hall of Fame. Although it is good that he finally came clean on this, which was probably one of the conditions of his contract to be the Cardinals’ hitting coach and say this to distract the start of Spring Training and have a full blown media circus, there’s only two words for you on this, Big Mac.

No Surprise.

TSX Rapid News (1/14)

Welcome back to TSX Rapid News, lets go into the top stories for the Afternoon so far.

– The Kansas City Chiefs? or the Kansas City Patriots? Former Patriots assistant now turned Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has hired former Cleveland Browns head coach Romeo Crennel as the defensive coordinator for Kansas City. This came a couple days after Pioli hired former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis as the team’s offensive coordinator, taking the role away from head coach Todd Haley. Pioli, Weis, and Crennel all worked with each other in New England during their dynasty years of 2001-2004. With a young team that showed promise late in the season, Kansas City is looking to be a force to be reckoned with in the next decade. All by doing it the “Patriot Way”.

– Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin will undergo season-ending surgery on his knee and will be out for four months. Griffin, the #1 overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, injured his knee in the final preseason game against the New Orleans Hornets. He was targeting to make his debut Jan. 20th, but now with this news of surgery he will not. He will be a rookie next year.

– Lane Kiffin was introduced as the head coach of University of Southern California on Wednesday. Kiffin, who took the job after Pete Carroll left USC for the Seattle Seahawks as their head coach/executive vice president, went only 7-6 after one season at the University of Tennessee. The Volunteers who were really on the rise with recruiting, have had several players de-commit from the school upon the news that Kiffin was leaving Knoxville. Students were not happy either, forming a riot and burning team merchandise in protest of Lane’s departure.

– New York Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran will undergo knee surgery and will miss the first few weeks of the season. The surgery however, was not cleared by the Mets, and after injuries ravaged them to a 70-92 season a year ago, this is the last thing they needed. The Mets did say that Beltran’s osteoarthritis has worsened, and that surgery was need to clean the affected area. At least they do have Jason Bay now.

Stay tuned this tonight (early tomorrow AM) for TSX Rapid News: Late Edition.

NFL Wild Card Weekend Recap

The Playoffs are here! And it is time to get into the nitty gritty. Starting out with Wild Card weekend. TSX gave you a preview of all the teams, and the picks turned out to be not bad at all. Some great games Sat., and a Wild finish to one on Sunday.

Saturday Night:

NY Jets 24, Cincinnati 14- Mark Sanchez didn’t have the best rookie season, he did not have the heralded praise that say, Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco had a year ago, but he came of age in the big stage. Sanchez went 12-15 for 182 yards with a touchdown, finishing with a QB rating of 139.4, and Gang Green’s rushing game took care of the rest. Rookie Shonn Greene ran for 135 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown, and Thomas Jones added another one, and the Jets got their first playoff win since 2004 by beating the Cincinnati Bengals for the second week in a row 24-14. Two good things happened for Cincinnati from their meeting at the Meadowlands last week. They ran the ball well, which was led by Cedric Benson, who ran for 169 yards (Bengals playoff record) and a 47 yard touchdown run (longest run in Bengals playoff history), and they also scored. Carson Palmer threw a touchdown pass to Laveranues Coles to put the Bengals up early. Chad Ochocinco, who was shut out last week by Darrelle Revis, was a non-factor again, with only two catches for 28 yards. The Bengals just never looked like the same team that dominated the AFC North after the passing of teammate Chris Henry. The Jets move on, and quite possibly can be a dark horse in the playoffs.

Philadelphia 14, Dallas 34- In another rematch from Week 17, the Dallas Cowboys did something that they havent done in 4,760 days: win a playoff game. Tony Romo went 23-35 for 244 yards, and threw a couple of touchdowns, Tashard Choice and Felix Jones ran for touchdowns, and for the second week in a row (and third time this season), the Dallas Cowboys destroyed the Philadelphia Eagles, sending the Eagles packing for the eighth time in the decade. Wade Phillips and Tony Romo finally got their wins in the playoffs, after Phillips was 0-4 as a head coach, and Romo was 0-2 as a starting quarterback. The Cowboys winning ways in December finally carry over in January, where the last win was in the 1996 NFC Wild Card round, and it took 13 years to just get a win, and the Dallas defense forced fumbles, and made things difficult for Donovan McNabb and Mike Vick. Both QBs did throw for touchdowns, but while Vick tied the game, McNabb’s came after the Eagles were down 34-7. The Cowboys look like the hottest team in the NFC right now, but they have to travel to the Metrodome to take on Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings. Sidenote: The Cowboys won the Super Bowl in Texas Stadium’s first year (1971), and Cowboys Stadium opened in 2009.

Sunday Afternoon:

Baltimore 33, New England 14- The team of the previous decade got dismantled in the first five minutes of the game. The Baltimore Ravens, who came in with the best win percentage on the road for any NFL team, went into Gillette Stadium (a place where New England has never lost in), and put up a 24-point first quarter led by Ray Rice’s two touchdowns, and the Ravens cruised to a 33-14 victory over the once-invincible Patriots. Rice finished the day with 22 carries for 159 yards, and the Ravens stifling defense forced New England into four turnovers, and forcing boos to reign over the team that was so dominant that it was widely assumed that they could not be beat in the playoffs. The Ravens proved that on Sunday that they can be stopped and executed the game plan to perfection. The Ravens will now travel to Indianapolis to face the four-time MVP Peyton Manning and the Colts, sending the New York Jets to San Diego to face the Chargers.

Green Bay 45, Arizona 51 (F/OT) The highest scoring game in NFL playoff history with two teams. A man on his last hurrah, against a man playing in his first playoff game. How does it end? On defense. Karlos Dansby returned an Aaron Rodgers fumble 17 yards for a touchdown and gave the Arizona Cardinals a dramatic 51-45 win over the Green Bay Packers. Kurt Warner, who, according to sources will retire after the playoffs, started his last hurrah by going 29-33 for 379 yards and five touchdowns, and Arizona jumped out to a 31-10 lead. The Packers bounced back and responded with Rodgers, bringing his team back to tie the game at 38. After trading points and a missed field goal by Neil Rackers, Rodgers and the Packers won the toss in overtime, and after a penalty, Michael Adams forced a fumble and the ball bounced off Rodgers’ foot, and into the hands of Dansby, sealing the win and setting off a wild celebration. No shame though in Rodgers’ performance, going 28-42 for 422 yards and 4 touchdowns, and he ran for one as well. The Cardinals now go to New Orleans, and with the way the Saints score points and this game, it could potentially be a shootout. Arizona is now 3-0 in postseason games at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Stay tuned to TSX for the Divisional Playoff Thoughts and Previews and Picks. Keep it locked here!