Random Thoughts 4/3/14

-The Pacers finally got back on track last night with a win against the Pistons.  They did still struggle a little though and I’m not sure they are out of the hole yet.  There are 3 really good Playoff races in the NBA right now.  The Pacers/Heat, the Knicks/Hawks and the Mavericks/Grizzlies/Suns.  All three races are tied right now (technically the Heat and Knicks are percentage points better, but they are tied in the games back department).  Let’s take a look at each.

  • Miami’s remaining schedule is: vs. Minnesota, vs. NY Knicks, vs. Brooklyn, @ Memphis, vs. Indiana, @ Atlanta, @ Washington and vs. Philadelphia.  5 homes games and 3 road games.  5 games against Playoff teams.  2 sets of back-to-back games.   Not a terribly tough schedule, but not amazingly easy either.  Indiana plays only 6 games.   They play @ Toronto, vs. Atlanta, @ Milwaukee, @ Miami, vs. Oklahoma City and @ Orlando.  2 home games and 4 road games.  3 (maybe 4) against Playoff teams.  No back-to-back games.  I would say Indiana has a little easier schedule, if only because they play 2 less games.  You would expect Miami to win all of their games except maybe Brooklyn, Memphis and Indiana.  You would expect Indiana to win all of their games except maybe Toronto, Miami and OKC.  However, Indiana hasn’t been playing well at all and could end up losing any of them.  Indiana will hold the tie brake as long as they either beat the Heat or win 3 of their 5 games against East teams.  This battle is going to be close.  I would say the schedule leans in the Pacers’ favor.  However, they’ve been playing so poorly and have 2 REALLY tough games left @ Miami and OKC at home.  So I think the Heat will end up with the #1 seed.
  • The next race is the Knicks/Hawks one.  They are tied for the 8th seed right now, although the Knicks actually have more losses than the Hawks.  Like the Pacers, the Knicks only play 6 more games.  They play vs. Washington, @ Miami, @ Toronto, vs. Chicago, @ Brooklyn and vs. Toronto.  3 home games and 3 road games.  All 6 are against Playoff teams.  1 back-to-back set. The Hawks play vs. Cleveland, @ Indiana, vs. Detroit, vs. Boston, @ Brooklyn, vs. Miami, vs. Charlotte and @ Milwaukee.  5 home games and 3 road games.  4 against Playoff teams.  2 back-to-back sets.  There is no question the Knicks schedule is tougher.  They could definitely lose all of those games.  The only advantage New York has is that the Hawks have to play 2 more games.  That’s a much bigger problem in this situation than in the Miami/Indiana situation.  That’s because both the Hawks and Knicks are capable of losing to anyone.  The Hawks are 3-7 in their last 10.  And they are 8-21 since the start of February.  That’s really bad.  I will say that they have played a tough schedule during that period.  Of their 21 losses, only 5 have come against non-Playoff teams.  The Knicks were just as bad in February going 2-11 during that time.  However, they went 11-5 in March and started April on a good note last night with a big win over the Nets.  This one is super tough for me to call, but I’m going to go with the Knicks.  The Knicks are playing so much better right now and have 2 less games to play.  Granted they do have a very tough schedule, but no game is easy for the Hawks right now.
  • The last race is the most interesting to me.  The Pacers/Heat race is important, but both teams will go far in the Playoffs either way.  And the Knicks/Hawks race really means very little because both teams would most likely get crushed in the 1st round.  However, the West’s race for the 8 seed is huge because all 3 teams are solid.  Dallas, Memphis and Phoenix are all 44-31 right now.  They all have 7 games left.  It’s a possibility that we could see a 50-win team not make the Playoffs.  If that were to happen, it would be the first time in the history of the NBA.  Either way, one of these teams is going to be disappointed after winning 45+ games and not making the Playoffs.  Dallas’ remaining schedule is @ LA Clippers, @ LA Lakers, @ Sacramento, @ Utah, vs. San Antonio, vs. Phoenix and @ Memphis.  2 homes games & 5 road games.  3 (maybe 4) against Playoff games.  1 back-to-back set.  Memphis plays vs. Denver, @ San Antonio, vs. Miami, vs. Philadelphia, @ LA Lakers, @ Phoenix and vs. Dallas.  4 home games & 3 away games.  3 (maybe 4) against Playoff games.  1 set of back-to-back games.  Phoenix plays @ Portland, vs. OKC, @ New Orleans, @ San Antonio, @ Dallas, vs. Memphis and @ Sacramento.  2 home games & 5 road games.  4 (maybe 5) against Playoff teams.  Looking at only the schedule definitely gives the advantage to Memphis.  They have 4 home games compared to only 2 home games for Dallas and Phoenix.  They have all won at least 6 games in the last 10.  I’ve been saying Phoenix would be the odd man out all along and I’ll stick with that.  However, this is just a total guess.

-Shifting gears to baseball now.  The games have been amazingly close so far.  There were 5 games yesterday that ended with walk-off hits.  The Yankees are off to a very disappointing start.  They are 0-2 against the Astros.  The Angels are also off to a sluggish start at 0-3.  Their offense has been anemic, outside of Mr. Trout, so far.  The much anticipated debut of Masahiro Tanaka will take place tomorrow.  Here’s hoping he has a great first start.  There really haven’t been too many story lines so far.  However, the season is young and there is plenty of time.

-Next week is the release of Gypsy Queen BB.  I always like the look of those cards, but I hope they upped the content some this year.  There is a lot of cool stuff in it, but I just hope it’s easier to get than it has been in the past.  There need to be a good amount of nice hits in this stuff to justify the price.  I think most people like the way the cards look.  It just can’t be a product with the same guys over and over again in the autograph set.  I’m sure some of those guys will be in there, but there have to be good players or new guys sprinkled in fairly often.

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