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 March Madness, NFL free agency and baseball’s Spring Training in full swing at the beginning of March, sports fans may forget about the NBA Trade Deadline on March 15.
It may be a snoozer of a deadline as the playoffs begin just six short week later and as some general manger begin to question whether this is the right year to wheel and deal. The NBA lockout put a hinder on a lot of things and this year’s trade deadline may feel the negative effects the most. So NBA fans, don’t be holding your breath that your team is going to make that one move to put them over the top next week. It likely won’t happen. Be that as it may, deal will be done. They probably just won’t have that blockbuster title with them.
Obviously there will be a lot of discussion over Dwight Howard and the ongoing saga of him going to the L.A. Lakers. But other than that, the transactions will be at a minimum during this deadline. So with not much to work with and even fewer rumors, here’s Couch Side’s predictions on the top five players who could be dealt close or the day of the NBA Trade Deadline:
Throughout the season, Howard has been asked to be dealt. First, it was the Lakers. Then it was the New Jersey Nets. Hell, the L.A. Clippers were even up for discussion as a possible new team. Regardless of everyone wanting him, no one was willing to pay the price that Orlando wanted. Hence, the 26-year-old is still in black and blue and the Magic are the third best team in the East. So why would the Magic want to trade him? It’s simple. D-How does not want to be there. He wants to win a ring right away. And the only way he could do so is if he ends up with the Lakers, which is about a 50-50 chance right now, in my opinion. According to a handful of general managers, teams are actually waiting on Big D to be traded before they’ll even test the swapping grounds. So if Howard doesn’t get traded soon, the deadline may be even quieter. But L.A. will most likely be the front runner if anything happens at all. Howard would be walking away from $30 million if he accepted a trade. What’s even worse, to me, is that if he gets traded to another team that already has their superstar (i.e. Kobe Bryant with the Lakers) he won’t be the main dude in that city. I honestly believe the Magic can win the Finals as early as this year, but that’s only if Superman stays in Orlando. And the only way he’ll be playing in yellow and purple is if the Lakers are willing to trade Andrew Bynum, which a lot of sources say he will only be moved in a trade for Howard. So if L.A. is willing to part ways with their center of the future for basically the same thing only more talented, than Howard may just end up in L.A. by Wednesday. (more…)
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
Well, it’s 2012 and we’re a little behind.
You might have seen a lot of top-10, top-20 or top-50 lists swarming the internet either reviewing the good and the bad of 2011 or ones previewing what’s coming up in 2012. We at Couch Side haven’t made it that far, but my first new years resolution while I was stumbling drunk in a warm, cozy cabin during New Year’s Eve was to make such a list.
Last year was an amazing 12 months of sports. It wasn’t all glamour and good news, but 2011 was an exciting year in sports nonetheless. There was lockouts in the NBA and NFL. The Major League Baseball season literally came down to 162nd game of the season and the Texas Rangers came out on top for the first time in franchise history. Yes, 2011 was full of thrills. But, of course, the year also had its fair share of athletes that didn’t quite live up to their expectations. So without any further holdup, here’s Couch Side’s top-10 list of overhyped athletes for 2011:
Tebow came out of the gates blazing, but the fire didn’t last forever. The second-year quarterback out of the University of Florida started his campaign with a 6-1 record as a starter with a handful of those wins coming in the fourth quarter. His late-game heroics became known as “Tebow Time” and it seemed whether you loved or hated the guy, everyone rooted for him. “Tebow Time” didn’t last forever, though. Since his immaculate start, Tebow’s record as a starter dipped to 1-3. He still “led” the Broncos to the playoffs, but one could blame an incredibly weak division for Denver’s success. Tebow will be taken off this list quick if he can beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card round of the playoffs. I don’t know if that will happen though, considering that he’s only thrown for 675 yards and a dismal two touchdowns with five interceptions in the final four games of the regular season.
CJ2K was an absolute bust in 2011. There’s no way to argue it the other way. In fact, the only reason the Titans were playoff contenders during the final two weeks was because of Matt Hasselback and the Titan defense. No one can tell me or the average NFL fan that Tennessee was successful because of Johnson. After the third-year pro landed his over-the-top contract, which made him the second-highest paid running back in the NFL, he rushed for barely more than 1,000 yards. That was one year after he ran over opposing defenses for an unbelievable 2,006 yards. Talk about not living up to the hype.
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
Fans worried about NBA player Kris Humphries after his divorce with TV star Kim Kardashian can finally rest easy.
The 6-foot-9 power forward reached a one-year deal with the New Jersey Nets worth a reported $8 million Wednesday morning. So it looks like it’s finally back to basketball for the Minnesota native. And I’m happy for Humphries and even more merry that another Kardashian won’t be on the NBA sidelines.
We’ll still have to see Khloe at Dallas Mavericks games, watching her husband, Lamar Odom, ball in white and blue. But I can sleep easy tonight, knowing that her sister won’t be court side in New Jersey this season. The split between Kim Kardashian and Humphries came just 72 days after the couple were married in a wedding blown completely out of proportion. And now with the prenuptial agreement in affect, Humphries can start concentrating on basketball.
Playing at an effective level was something I thought Humphries needed to do long before he met his reality star ex-wife. Now, with her out of the way, I hope a new spark of passion finds the former Minnesota Gopher so he can finally live up to his potential. And after seven years of mediocrity with four different teams, Humphries could do just that this season with New Jersey.
He should undoubtedly be the Nets’ starting power forward, sharing the paint with budding NBA superstar Brook Lopez. And a duo like Lopez and Humphries could be dangerous for other teams in the East. Add Deron Williams in New Jersey’s back court and this team could be playoff bound as early as this spring. The Nets might land the No. 8 seed, but that would be a godsend for New Jersey fans, considering their team hasn’t appeared in the playoffs since the 2005-2006 season.