Welcome to the new weekly segment on Painting the Black. It is my goal to start your work week off right with random thoughts, ideas, rants and ramblings from the week that was in the world of sports. It’s already Monday so let’s get at it. Exclusive to Painting the Black, here are your Monday Morning Casual Contemplations…
The Pacers do stand a chance against the Heat. They clearly showed that in game 1. A lot of things are going to have to go their way but it isn’t farfetched to say that they can win the series. Granger was terrible yesterday afternoon and the Pacers kept it close until the final couple of minutes.
What Indiana needs is for Danny Granger to play less like the role player that he has been this year and more like the emerging star he was only 2 years ago. He is just a couple of years removed from averaging 24.2ppg and three years removed from averaging 25.8ppg the previous season. Despite being the leading scorer of the Pacers, Granger dropped all the way down to 18.7 per game this season and shot a career low 41.6% from the field. Granted, he has taken a reduced role because of the emergence of guys like Paul George and Roy Hibbert.
Nevertheless, the Pacers can’t just play a good team game with good team guys and expect to beat an exceptional Heat squad. They have to play a good team game with Danny Granger finding the form of the top scorer that he is still capable of being even with Lebron James guarding him.
I complain about reffing a lot. I know. But bear with me.
The refereeing so far throughout the playoffs has been outstanding. They have been letting the players play like they should in the playoffs. This isn’t hockey. Scoring is not a problem.
What I have a problem with is the inconsistency between crews. Game 1 of the Heat-Pacers series was called more similarly to a regular season game than a round 2 postseason matchup. What’s worse is that it seemed as though every time Dwyane Wade or Lebron James put their head down to go to the basket it was an automatic 2 shots. The game lacked flow, which is something that hasn’t been a problem up until this point in the playoffs for the most part.
There’s a fine line between keeping the game in check and letting the players play but I’d like to see them allow the more aggressive style of basketball to continue.
Blue Clay, No Way
Players on the ATP tour have recently been complaining about the blue clay they have been forced to play on at the most recent stop in Madrid instead of the traditional red clay. Apparently, the ball bounces differently and it is much more slippery. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have both gone public with their staunch disapproval of the new surface.
Never mind the way it plays, the blue surface is atrocious for viewers. Like the bright blue field of the Boise State Broncos, the idea of playing over a surface dyed so colourfully may be fine in theory but, in practice, it’s a distracting sight for the most important people, the audience. Whether it is just a matter of getting used to it or just having such a bright, in your face colour, the blue doesn’t work for me.
I understand that these ATP destinations want to differentiate themselves from other tournaments but the blue surface doesn’t do that in a positive way. I find it hard to believe that I am the only person who is more than a little annoyed by the blue surface. Take away the blue clay courts. The players don’t like it, I don’t like it and I bet there are a few others who feel the same way.
I’d Rather Be Golfing
As 26 NHL teams are probably out taking advantage of sunny weather to hit the links, 4 teams remain to battle it out for hockey supremacy. I think I’d like to be on the golf course with them instead of watching the hockey the NHL is presenting to the world this May. The matchups left in the Western and Eastern conferences are not worth my 3 hours to watch. Life is too short 3 period neutral zone free for all.
With the Capitals out of the playoffs the intriguing storylines have dissipated. It’s nice to see an old school goalie like Brodeur still thrive at 40 years old but his team is as boring as ever. Meaningful hockey in the big apple is a pleasant change of pace. Neither of those narratives are enough to entice this Canadian though. I didn’t even realize the Conference Finals began last night until around the 15 minute mark of the 3rd period between the Kings and Coyotes when I caught the game in one of my many surfing’s of the channel variety.
George Karl is Pretty Good
The Los Angeles Lakers might wish they had George Karl as their coach instead of Mike Brown. While Mike Brown’s security as a head coach was being questioned going into game 7 by the likes of Magic Johnson, George Karl went about his business to give his overmatched team a fighting chance. The job that Karl did with the Nuggets against the Lakers and throughout the entire season should be applauded. He can give himself a big pat on the back as well.
There was no way in hell that the Nuggets should have been able to take the Lakers to a tightly contested game 7. Absent of a big man who can score outside of the paint and a wing player able to create his own shot, George Karl was still able to come up with a successful game plan to counter the Lakers.
I read on NBC’s Pro Basketball Talk that the Toronto Raptors are aiming for Jeremy Lin. As the article says, it is a bit unrealistic to think that the Knicks would let the “marketing dream” that is Jeremy Lin walk away. They would almost undoubtedly match any offer the Raptors would give Lin but the idea of Lin in the city of Toronto is no doubt appealing to a Raptors fan.
Jose Calderon has one year left on his contract and Toronto runs their offence almost exclusively through the point. Bottom line is that with Jerryd Bayless looking more and more like his ceiling in the NBA is that of a streaky combo guard, the Dino’s are soon to be in need of a point guard. Lin fits the bill and if he could come close to the level he played at this year, he could make the Raptors into one of the more intriguing dark horses in the next couple of years. Additionally, Lin would have no concerns about moving to a country outside of the United States, which is always an issue with the team in Toronto.
Linsanity in Toronto? I’m on board.
Sha-Na-Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye
I was absolutely shocked to see that Kevin Na blew a 3rd round lead at the Players Championship on Sunday. Bogeying 4 of the first 5 holes and finished with a 4-over 76 was so uncharacteristic of Na. Sorry, what, Kevin Na was the guy who shot that brutal 16 on the 9th hole at the Texas Open last April? Oh, that changes things a bit.
Seriously though, how often do we have these virtual no names leading after 3 rounds only to fade into the abyss. The sport of golf will always amaze me with its ability to separate the men from the boys. It always astonishes me that these unbelievably talented golfers turn into shy, little, hormonal teenagers when it comes to the final round of tournaments.
Na’s situation was no doubt worse with the crowd jeering him for his slow play and with the time clock being imposed on him by the PGA. He did not take any of that very well and deservedly lost. If he can’t mentally handle picking up his Kendry Morales running down the 1st base line pace then that’s too bad. Taking out the extra stuff Na had to deal with yesterday, I’m not so sure he doesn’t crash and burn like so many others have in the past anyways. When a professional loses his head enough to shoot a 16 on a hole, there are always going to be question marks.
Big Ball Parks
The Minnesota Twins spent a whole bunch of money on a brand new stadium and couldn’t have screwed it up more. Announcers and writers constantly mention the beauty of Target Field and that it’s one of the best parks in all of baseball. In the end, a ball park is just a ball park and no matter how you slice it, what you will still be watching is baseball on a diamond. The look of a stadium means nothing to the product on the field. For me, Target field is one of the worst parks in all of baseball.
I will never be able to comprehend the choice of teams to design a brand spanking new stadium that their players can’t hit the ball out of. Forget about the terrible and abnormally high centre field camera view that Target Field provides, the park is simply one of the worst to play in for hitters. The Twins have Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer locked up for the long haul yet both have had their fair share of difficulties hitting home runs at Target Field. Injuries have played a part in that but, ultimately, Target Field hurts the Minnesota Twins’ two most prized commodities. It’s not much fun for fans to watch warning track power either.
Pitcher friendly stadiums are not only bad for fans but they hurt a team’s ability to sign free agents. For some reason, if the team is good enough, marquee free agent pitchers don’t mind pitching roughly half of their games at a hitter friendly park (see Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium). Conversely, teams such as the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics are unable to attract the best power hitters. A hitter friendly park can give your franchise the best of both worlds, on the condition that you have a team that has the possibility to contend. And even if your team sucks, at least you can see a few more long balls. I hear the chicks dig it.
Bonus (Shameless?) Contemplation!
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