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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Must See Sports - Second Weekend of February 2012

Last week's advantage/disadvantage record: 6-1

Must See Sports 2012 record: 20-11

Well, I was an Austin Rivers overtime buzzer-beat away from being a perfect 7-0 last week. If at first you don't succeed....

Thursday, February 9


Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics

Similar teams…similar histories…similar records…same conference standing. If the NBA regular season ended today, both the Lakers and Celtics would be the seventh seeds in the Western and Eastern conferences, respectively. Both teams are six games back of the top seed. Both teams need the win.

The Lakers are in the more precarious situation as they are only one game away from being out of the top eight in the West (and hence out of the playoffs altogether). Boston has the best defense in the NBA and the Lakers are ranked 4th. So I would not expect a whole lot of fast breaks and scoring.

Momentum is often the difference maker in games between similar teams and the Celtics have it. They have won nine of their last 10 games and are playing at home. The Lakers only have one win against a team with a winning record since beating the Clippers on January 25th. I like the Celtics in this matchup.

Advantage: Celtics

Paul Pierce: #2 Celtics all time leading scorer. 1

Friday, February 10


Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz

The Thunder still have the NBAs best record, winning eight of their last ten. The Jazz have begun to skid, losing four of their last five. Fortunately for Utah, they are far better at home (11-4) than on the road (2-7).

The Thunder are really good everywhere. In addition, Kevin Durant (27 PPG, 8 RPG) is on a roll, scoring 33 or more points in three of his last five games and inching back into the race for the scoring title. I think the Thunder rolls on.

Advantage: Thunder

Saturday, February 11


Denver Nuggets at Indiana Pacers

It’s been a while since the Pacers were of interest to the NBA’s playoff race, other than as an easy win. At 17-8, however, the Pacers have the fourth best record in the Eastern Conference and are 3.5 games back of the Chicago Bulls in the Central Division.

Indiana has been succeeding with power and defense, particularly from forward Danny Granger (18 PPG, 5 RPG) and center Roy Hibbert (14 PPG, 10 RPG, 2 BlkPG). Hibbert has, somewhat quietly, risen to the higher tiers of NBA centers. It has helped bring some pace back to Pacers’ basketball.

The Nuggets, as usual, are in the Western Conference playoff hunt. Life post-Carmelo Anthony has not been as harsh as some expected. Head Coach George Karl has sold the disciplined, team basketball concept to his troops and his players are buying it. The Nuggets score more points per game than any other team in the NBA, get their leading scorer, Danilo Gallinari (17 PPG, 5 RPG) averages less than 20 points per night. With six players averaging double figure scoring (Gallinari, Ty Lawson, Andre Miller, Nenê, and Aaron Affalo), the Nuggets can spread the ball around and get anyone to step up. It’s resulting in wins.

Advantage: Nuggets

NCAA Men's Basketball

#6 Baylor Bears at #4 Missouri Tigers

BIG game in the Big XII. The winner is in the driver’s seat in the Big XII regular season race. After last weekend’s huge, last minute win over Kansas, the Tigers can ill-afford a letdown. Senior guard Marcus Denmon (18 PPG, 5 RPG) has carried the team and will need to continue to do so if Mizzou is to make a serious run at the Final Four. Denmon has scored 25 or more in his last two games. He’s on fire.

Baylor had its four game winning streak snapped last night by Kansas. Leading scorer Perry Jones, III (14 PPG, 8 RPG) was bottled up and held to five points in that game. Scoring will be key against Missouri, ranked #7 in the nation with 81 points per game and second in field goal percentage at 50%. Missouri is prone to being hammered under the boards, an area in which the Bears have excelled. Still, as well as Baylor is playing, the they appear to hit a wall in the “big games”, with a 1-3 record against in-conference, ranked opponents.

Advantage: Missouri

#10 Michigan State Spartans at #3 Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State appears to be all but invincible at home. They weathered a storm from Purdue on Tuesday night in a thriller. Senior guard Will Buford (16 PPG, 5 RPG) scored 29 points, putting on a clinic in the final minutes, to keep Ohio State’s home winning streak, now at 39 games, alive.

Michigan State is going to bring more heat to Columbus. Coming off of the heels of a big win over Michigan last Sunday and an obliteration of Penn State last night, the Spartans hope to be the first to strike down the Buckeyes at home this season. Leading scorer Draymond Green (15 PPG, 11 RPG, 4 APG) cannot continue his recent “hit or miss” performances. He has scored less than 10 points in three of his last six games, but put up 23 last night against Penn State and 22 against Minnesota two weeks ago.

Michigan State is very good, but OSU is on a tear and still building steam.

Advantage: Ohio State

Buford was a man among boys on Tuesday. 2

Sunday, February 12

Miami Heat at Atlanta Hawks

Your team stinks? Blame LeBron. The Hawks will have that chance on Sunday. The Hawks continue to give the Heat chase in the Southeast division, only two games back. The Hawks continue to employ a balanced approach, embodied by the play of Josh Smith (16 PPG, 9 RPG, 2 BlkPG). Smith is coming off of a big 28 point, 12 rebound, 5 steal performance against the Pacers last night. He and Joe Johnson (19 PPG, 4 RPG, 4 APG) need to continue to step it up to fill the void left by Al Horford’s (12 PPG, 7 RPG) injury. Horford is likely out for the rest of the regular season.

The Heat are hot, pun intended, winning eight of their last 10, in spite of a 102-89 thumping by the Orlando Magic last night. LeBron James (29 PPG, 8RPG, 7 APG) has been in beast mode, with three double-doubles (including last night) in his last seven games and 20 or more points scored in 17 of his last 20 games played. Dwyane Wade’s (22 PPG, 5 APG) return to the lineup hasn’t hurt either. Wade is on a scoring tear, scoring 22 or more points in seven of his eight games following his six game absence due to injury, including 33 last night against Orlando.

The Hawks have a chance to pull off a big win at home. I just don’t see it happening against this Heat team.

Advantage: Heat

The Heat are thrilled to have D-Wade back in the lineup. The Hawks...not so much. 4

Monday, February 13

NCAA Men's Basketball

#2 Syracuse Orange at #23 Louisville Cardinals

Syracuse is one of the five teams most likely to cut down the nets in March (along with Kentucky, Ohio State, North Carolina, and Duke). The Orange pulled off a huge Big East win over #11 Georgetown in overtime. Kris Joseph (14 PPG, 5 RPG) buried the Hoyas with a 29 point performance. He continues to show up in big games, averaging 20 points against ranked opponents.

Louisville was ranked as high as #4 this season, then hit the skids. The Cardinals lost five of seven after starting the season 12-0. While the Cards have been bitten by the injury bug, inconsistent play from key players has been equally to blame. Sophomore guard Russ Smith (12 PPG) needs to be on “reappear” if his recent “disappear and reappear” act is to continue. In Louisville’s five losses, Smith has shot 39% from the field, including a paltry three point performance against Notre Dame and a two point game in a blowout loss to Providence.

Louisville is back on track with a five game winning streak. Best of luck with that in the Carrier Dome….

Advantage: Syracuse

Kris Joseph 3

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