BY MATTHEW VINSKO, Couchsideshow.com blogger
When it comes to sports, people often look to the veteran teams to pave the way for younger talent. This year, however, two young teams have cemented their place in the NBA, systematically decimating their opponents and showing their time is now.
The Miami Heat, while relatively young, have championship pedigree and something to prove after last season’s meltdown against Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. This season proved to be a frustrating one for many a Heat fan. LeBron James was often times erratic, again. Chris Bosh wasn’t living up to his hefty payday a year ago. Dwayne Wade has shown glimpses of greatness, but been bogged down by injuries. The Heat went from being the favorite at times this season to being a laughing stock due to their inconsistent play. (more…)
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
Regular Co-Host Craig Paul is out this week, so Wade McMillin takes over the reigns to host our 18th episode all by himself. Wade previews the NBA playoffs, finally talks some baseball, discusses the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley decision and takes a look at Brock Lesnar’s possible return to the UFC.
BY JON FRANK, Couchsideshow.com contributor
How? Was the first thing that came to my head. Miami’s got the three-time MVP (LeBron James), the NBA’s Batman and his Robin (Dwyane Wade), not to mention a semi-healthy Chris Bosh. Boston’s got what’s left of the Big Three and Rajon Rondo. This shouldn’t happen. It defies all notions of NBA logic. In professional basketball, superstars are supposed to strap in, go off for 30 a night and carry their inferior, but well-meaning teammates, along for the ride. But watching the Celtics win three straight against the Heat – and listening to Michael Wilbon and the boys’ postgame analysis – it made me remember how much of a team sport basketball is.
Boston is a great team. We knew they were great in years past, and most everyone expected them to do some damage. But few people expected this. Obviously, a lot has happened since people made their initial East Conference champions predictions. Namely, Derrick Rose’s ACL derailed the Bulls (honorable mention to Joakim Noah, the second best player on that team, who went down with a sprained ankle). Aside from that, how many people actually thought an aging Boston team would be on the verge of sending the ridiculously talented Super Team packing? Not me. Then again, I’m no NBA expert – not by a long shot. (more…)
BY ANDREW WITTRY, Feedcrossing.com syndication
After Chris Bosh’s abdominal strain that sidelined him in Game 1 of the Eastern Semifinals, and falling behind 2-1 in the series, the Heat were thrown into a must-win scenario in Game 4. It was the first time all season that Erik Spoelstra’s squad had been in danger of being eliminated by a non-elite team (any team outside of the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs). Their one-game deficit also marked the widespread realization of how important Chris Bosh is to the Heat. Bosh often gets discounted when it comes to the Big Three. Dwayne Wade is the long-time hero of Miami who brought a championship to South Beach. LeBron James is the four-time MVP who puts the Heat on his back night in and night out. And what is Chris Bosh? In reality he is an All-Star level talent who has 20 ppg and 10 rpg potential; however, the former Georgia Tech forward is the third scoring option in Miami and does not get the credit he deserves for the role he plays alongside D-Wade and LeBron. (more…)
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
Couch Side’s regular co-host, Craig Paul, makes his much anticipated to this week’s podcast. He joins regular host Wade McMillin for discussions about the Stanley Cup Finals, NFL Quarterback battles, the Roger Clemens trial, the NBA playoffs and sports memorabilia:
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
Couch Side baseball insider Brandon J. Smith makes his debut on our podcast to discuss the NBA playoffs, Stan Van Gundy’s firing, I’ll Have Another’s chance at the triple crown and Dallas Clark signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Smith and Couch Side host Wade McMillin also have a great baseball debate about who is the better player — Josh Hamilton or Matt Kemp. See who the pair picks as the MLB’s best by following the links below:
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
After two weeks off (apologies please), Couch Side host Wade McMillin welcomes in guest host Chuck Constantino to discuss the NBA playoffs, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback competition and Kyrie Irving winning the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award. Also, Wade has a very special interview with former Wyoming Cowboys center Adam Waddell. The 6-foot-10 Cody, Wyo., native talks about his playing days at the University of Wyoming, his future and what’s ahead for the Mountain West Conference.
BY MATTHEW VINSKO, Couchsideshow.com writer
Despite being a few upsets in the first round, it’s hard to call my first round predictions a failure. Who saw Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah getting injured in similarly gruesome fashions? Who knew a Memphis Grizzlies squad that impressed everyone last year would get upended by the up and coming “Lob City”? Not this guy.
Still, now that we’re onto the second round, we’re starting to see some contenders truly hit their stride, and some others happy to be here. Without further ado, here are some picks for the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
• Writers Note: I understand two games have already been played in the second round, but in my defense, I wished to wait until the first round wrapped up before writing up this article. After all, it was pretty easy to miss out on the openers when there were two Game 7s to be had.
(4) Boston Celtics vs. (8) Philadelphia 76ers
Honestly, this is not the matchup anyone expected coming out of the first round. First of all, everyone thought Rose’s injury-prone season would be refreshed in the playoffs against a very sloppy 76ers team that was lucky to make the playoffs. Secondly, even without Rose, the Bulls managed to ride a wave of success during the season, earning the best record in the conference over much healthier squads. People forget Richard Hamilton was hurt a lot too, which forced Luol Deng and the Bulls’ front court to respond accordingly, and time and again, they did.
Just not in the first round against a 76ers squad that seemed to finally get back on track. Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand were beastly down low without Noah there, and Jrue Holliday, Evan Turner, and Andre Iguodala all proved to be too much for a severely limited Bulls backcourt. The Celtics, on the other hand, struggled more than I thought they would in the first round, but still came out triumphant despite a brief Rajon Rondo suspension and an injury to Ray Allen. Kevin Garnett is playing like “The Big Ticket” of old, and it’s hard to see anyone stop this squad, especially after a comeback performance in Game 1 this past Saturday.
The 76ers have showed glimpses this postseason of what they were earlier in the season, but against a veteran team that finally seems to be hitting their stride, it’s hard to see them winning the series. I expect a close series just because the Celtics’ legs will have to get tired at some point, but in the end, the Celtics are just too much for a team who have no place being in the second round.
Winner: Boston Celtics in 6 (more…)
BY MATTHEW VINSKO AND BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com writers
If you would have asked us this past summer who we thought would win the NBA Championship, I’m sure we would have had three answers for you: the Miami Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder, or the most likely scenario, no champion at all.
With the lockout breathing down the NBA’s neck, it was hard to have realistic expectations for a 2011-12 NBA season. Though the shortened schedule has led to its share of surprises (I’m looking at you, Utah Jazz), the older mainstays have managed to stay true to form and the young, upcoming teams have seemingly dominated a shorter, more physically daunting schedule (with the exception of the San Antonio Spurs; how does Popovich do it?).
Now that the regular season is over and the match-ups are set, it’s prediction time, and who better to run down the NBA playoffs than two diehard fans? We will admit our last article was a WWE-themed article, so it’s time to pop our cherry once and for all and tackle a real sport.
(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Utah Jazz
Matt: I was a little disheartened to see the Jazz easily dismantle the Phoenix Suns this past Tuesday, breaking the hearts of Phoenix fans while ensuring Utah’s trip to the postseason. Now that it’s all said and done though, I have a hard time picking either of the two against the Spurs. Though San Antonio showed last year that one-seeds aren’t unbeatable, I don’t see them losing two years in a row in first-round upsets. Plus, Utah’s front court players (Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson, and Paul Millsap) aren’t nearly as intimidating as Memphis’ combination of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol a year ago. Expect a pretty lopsided series in my eyes where the veterans show the young studs a thing or two about postseason basketball.
Winner: San Antonio Spurs in 5
Brett: I spent last Tuesday night at Matt’s house, watching the Suns/Jazz battle it out for a playoff spot while simultaneously writing our Extreme Rules predictions. When the triple zeroes hit and the Suns had lost and missed out on a chance for the final berth, I was left not heartbroken nor happy, but relieved. Because I knew that I would not have to watch the Suns endure a humiliating first round exit to the Spurs, which is what the Jazz will encounter. San Antonio is a deep team, starting with their Big 3 of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili (bleh) and Tim Duncan, the greatest power forward ever. Their bench is young and talented and the late-season acquisitions of Stephen Jackson, Patty Mills and Boris Diaw were solid. The Jazz are young but inexperienced in the playoffs and will have trouble containing the Spurs on both ends of the floor. This one should be a cakewalk for San Antonio.
Winner: Spurs in 5 (more…)
With the NBA regular season winding down, some hardcore fans may already be pondering about who will win this year’s MVP award.
Certainly, there is a handful of superstars deserving of the honor, but the award is about more than just leading the league in scoring, rebounds or assists. An MVP has to truly be a leader, who would change the whole dynamic of their team if they were absent from the starting lineup. Think about when Michael Jordan retired from the NBA to pursue a baseball career. The following season, Scottie Pippen definitely didn’t get any MVP love and the Chicago Bulls simply weren’t the same.
So when I look at this year’s field of possible deserving candidates (in terms of what they do for their teams) for the 2011-2012 MVP award, there is really only three players — Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Kevin Love — who fit that profile. The only problem is, Love’s Timberwolves have already been eliminated from playoff contention, so don’t expect him to even sniff at the trophy until Minnesota is better. And Dwight Howard’s absence from the Orlando Magic because of back spasms has only proven that he is the heart and soul of that team after Orlando slowly slipped further and further down the Eastern Conference standings once Howard started to miss more and more time.
So that leaves Kobe. Will he run away with the MVP award? Maybe not. After all, right behind him are superstars Kevin Durant and LeBron James, who rank No. 2 and No. 3 in the league, respectively, for points per game. But how much would Durant’s Thunder and James’ Heat be suffering if they weren’t there? Miami certainly could hold its own with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh running the show and you have to believe Oklahoma City could do the same with its depth. (more…)
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
In this week’s episode of the Couch Side podcast, the dynamic duo of Craig Paul and Wade McMillin preview the NBA playoffs and analyze the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The hosts also discuss the Denver Broncos signing Brandon Stokley, an odd triple play and UFC 145.
The Big Three versus the MVP. That was the showdown in South Beach on Sunday. The Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls, the clear top-two teams in the East and quite possibly the entire league, squared off for the first time since their Eastern Conference Finals encounter in May. Unfortunately for the Bulls though, they came up short in the end just as they did a mere eight months ago.
Derrick Rose, the youngest player ever to win the NBA’s MVP, has openly shouldered the blame for the Bulls’ failure in the ECF. The five-game series loss ate at him alive and motivated him throughout the extended lockout-induced offseason. Even as he downplayed Sunday’s matchup against the Heatles, it was very apparent that he wanted this game bad.
In fact, up until the final 22.7 seconds of the game, D-Rose appeared to be on a mission to will his team to victory, to make amends for his “shortcomings” back in May. Rose could not be kept out of the paint, crossing his defender up and repeatedly twisting, spinning and weaving his way to the basket for layups. Then just as he had all game, he got to the free-throw line with a chance to give the Bulls their first lead of the game with 22.7 seconds left to play in the game. Yet despite a perfect 29-29 mark this season in the fourth quarter, Rose missed not only his first free throw, but his second as well, and the Bulls dropped a heartbreaker 97-93.
BY DEREK BARSNESS, Couchsideshow.com writer
NBA stars are becoming bigger than the game itself. And it’s making fans bitter; quickly turning them into haters.
Stars have always enjoyed special treatment. But when the power shift is so one sided that players like Dwight Howard can demand a trade the year before his contract expires, general managers are put in quite a predicament. Do they chance losing their star at the end of the season and have nothing to show for it or trade the core of the team that they’ve spent the past several years and millions of dollars building? And fans resent this. Not just fans of these teams, but fans of the game in general.
I’m a huge Denver Nuggets fan. I’m also a huge Syracuse Orangemen fan (yes, they are still the Orangemen to me, although the change to the Orange is growing on me). So When the Nuggets drafted Carmelo Anthony in 2003 it was a dream come true. He took Denver, a perennial lottery team, to the playoffs in his first season. But after what happened with Melo last season, I’m a hater now. I hate the Knicks, Amar’e Stoudemire (for no good reason) and Spike Lee (seriously, does anyone actually like that guy). I even hate the Lakers, and as I write this blog I’m watching the Knicks take on the Lakers. I’m rooting against the Knicks, but essentially that means I’m rooting for the Lakers!
Denver was between a rock and a hard place. Melo’s situation was different than the one the Magic are currently in with Howard. This was mostly due to the expiring NBA labor contract and the possibility that if Melo didn’t sign an extension before the end of the season he would lose millions of dollars in guaranteed money. He made it public knowledge that he would only accept a trade to New York so no teams were willing to trade away the draft picks and prospects that Denver was rightfully asking for in return. If the Nuggets didn’t trade Melo, they risked losing one of the top 10 best players in the league and having nothing to show for it. Personally, I think Melo was greedy enough and would have accepted an extension with Denver rather than lose millions. So Denver traded their star for a crop of young
talent, but none of them will ever fill the shoes of Anthony.
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
With the NBA season ready to to tip off Sunday, it’s time to actually start thinking about basketball again.
The season, which was cut short due to labor disagreements, will jam pack 66 games into 124 games and test every single team more so than the regular 82-game campaigns. It may be hectic on the professional hardwood this season, but hoops fans should be excited about the shortened schedule because it’s sure to provide a playing field that is more equal.
Young teams that can come out of the gates blazing could end up winning the title this season with the advatages of young legs. Teams with larger cores of veterans may struggle because breaks will be short, off days will be erased and fatigue will hit harder than ever before.
This season should be one to remember. And there should be a plenty of curve balls thrown at the fans. But do not fear, Couchsideshow.com is here to prepare you for what should be a season full of surprises. We don’t have quite the resources to preview all 32 teams, but here’s a look at the top sixsquads and how each one could win the NBA Finals crown in 2012: