Random Thoughts 3/6/14

-There were a handful of games in the NBA last night.  The most shocking was the beat down that Indiana took thanks to the Bobcats.  Indiana is sputtering a bit lately.  Paul George had his worst game of the season.  He shot 0-9 and finished with only 2 points.  Ouch!  The addition of Evan Turner hasn’t really help so far.  The Pacers are 4-2 in the 6 games he’s played (which is technically worse than their winning percentage without him).  However, he hasn’t played all that well.  He’s averaging only 11.3 points, 4 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 43.5% from the field.  I will say those numbers are slightly better than what Granger was giving them.  Indiana is still a great team, but they need to find their grove again.  They still have several tough games left (@Houston, @Dallas, vs. Chicago, @Memphis, @Chicago, vs. Miami, @Washington, vs. San Antonio, @ Toronto, @Miami and vs. OKC).  Of their 21 remaining games, 11 of them are against teams that are currently in the Playoffs.

-Speaking of the NBA Playoffs, it’s becoming more clear who will have a chance to make a run.  In the East, there is still a battle at the bottom.  The 1 and 2 seeds will be Indiana and Miami.  3 through 6 are going to Toronto, Chicago, Washington and Brooklyn (in some order) unless one of those teams completely collapses.  I think Charlotte will hold onto the 7 seed as they’ve been playing pretty well lately.  The 8 seed is a toss up.  Atlanta still has a 3 game lead, so I’m inclined to think they’ll stay there.  However, they have really struggled lately winning 1 of their last 13.  Atlanta still has a super tough schedule (@Golden State, @LA Clippers, @Charlotte, vs. Toronto, @Toronto, vs. Phoenix, @Minnesota, vs. Portland, @Washington, vs. Chicago, @Indiana, @Brooklyn, vs. Miami and vs. Charlotte).  Those are 14 tough games.  They really only have 3 easy (nothing is really that easy when you’re 1 for your last 13) games at home left against Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Boston.  With all that being said, I’d still bet on the Hawks.  No one at the bottom of the East has shown any ability to win with consistency.  As long as the Hawks can win another 8-10 games, I think they’ll make it.  The West is much different than the East.  OKC and San Antonio are fighting for the 1 seed.  However, Houston, LAC and Portland could still make a run and get there.  Those 5 teams will end up the top 5 seeds.  Golden State looks to be fairly locked into the 6 seed.  They’re 4 1/2 games back of the 5 and 2 games ahead of the 7.  Phoenix and Dallas are essentially tied for the 8 seed right now.  However, Memphis is only a game back.  Unlike in the East, you can’t afford to lose too many games in the West.  If Phoenix or Dallas were to lose 3-4 in a row, they’d probably get passed by Memphis.  I believe Phoenix is going to tail off and Memphis and Dallas will wind up as the 7 and 8 seeds.  Phoenix has been a great story this year, but I just don’t think they have the talent to hold off Dallas or Memphis.  I will say their schedule isn’t terrible with a nice stretch where they play 9 out of 10 games against Eastern teams not named Miami or Indiana.  It should be a fun final month of the season.

-I don’t follow the NHL all that closely.  I did know that the trade deadline was yesterday and it seemed like there were several big names to get moved.  Thomas Vanek, Martin St. Louis and Marian Gaborik were all traded yesterday.  Vanek and St. Louis are in the top 25 in scoring.  Gaborik has been hurt this year, but would most certainly be in the top 25 in scoring had he been healthy.  Scoring isn’t the only thing that matters, but I think it shows who is at least influencing games.  Compare this to the NBA where the best player traded was probably Evan Turner who ranks 31st in scoring.  Had the 10th and 25th best scorers in the NBA been traded we would have seen Paul George and David Lee traded.  Seemed like a pretty exciting day in the NHL to me.

-Spring Training is in full effect.  There hasn’t been any huge news so far.  Tanaka looked solid in his debut, but it was later in the game against many players who probably won’t be starting this year.  He retired Cody Asche, Cameron Rupp, Cesar Hernandez, Ben Revere, Dominic Brown and Kelly Dugan.  Brown and Revere are legit major league hitters.  Asche is a decent young player who will probably start at 3rd for the Phillies.  The other 3 are back-up type of players.  Still not a bad debut for a player with so much hype.  We’ll get to see his first start today.  I’ve been happy with Javier Baez on my Cubbies.  He’s living up to his hype so far.  It’s insanely early but he’s hitting .417 with 2 HRs in 12 at bats so far.  Kris Bryant and Albert Almora have both looked solid in very limited action as well.  One of the stories I’m following is Ryan Braun.  I know what many people think of him, and I don’t blame them at all.  He is off to a super fast start though going 6-7 with 2 HRs.  Could he ever be truly relevant again?

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