Apr 28, 2010

If Brown Returns, Stefanski Could Be Next To Go

Even before the Charlotte Bobcats were bounced from the NBA playoffs this week there has been ongoing rumors throughout the national and local media that the Sixers have been courting former coach Larry Brown to return to the team as a possible general manager or team president.

Brown has addressed these rumors blatantly and openly. "I'm not coaching anywhere but for Michael Jordan... if he wants me".

Notice did not mention team president

Brown will be turning 70 this year and still has two years left on his current contract with the Bobcats, the team he coached to their first ever playoff appearance this season. Despite the comments from Brown many insiders have reported that his return in not just speculation but an almost guarantee.

Brown was the Sixers head coach for six season and had an 255-205 (.557) record. The team missed the playoffs only once in his tenure and went to the 2001 NBA finals, where they fell to the Lakers in five games. Brown has coached in New York and Detroit since he left the Sixers and signed with the Charlotte Bobcats in 2008.

Bobcats majority owner Michael Jordan has told the media that he has given Brown permission to speak with teams about other opportunities as long as they are for either general manager or president of basketball operations.

Despite all of this talk team president Ed Snyder has called all of the talk between Brown and the team as "total, unadulterated bull.

With all this speculation about new coaches and the possibility of Larry Brown returning to the team in some fashion it is important to think about the one man left out of this mix, general manager Ed Stefanski. Stefanski has been on the hot seat ever since the firing of Eddie Jordan and with the way the season ended all of these rumors could mean the end of his tenure with the Sixers.

Stefanski preached to the media last summer about how Jordan's Princeton offense was the perfect fit for the young Sixers team and how the team would flourish but Jordan failed to lead the team in any way and was removed on April 15th, just one day after the final game of the season. The team finished 27-55, second to last to the 12 win Nets in the Atlantic Division and ever since Jordan;s firing speculation has flied about Stefanski's upcoming dismissal.

Yahoo! Sports writer Adrian Wojnarowski has reported the Brown has been offered the position as team president/director of basketball operations and is already looking at setting up his front office and coaching staff. In the report Brown has been courting Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson to take over the job of coaching the young Sixers team.

The report also states that Stefaski's days may be numbered with the Sixers as Brown may be interested in Washington Wizards executive Milt Newton to come in as general manager. Both Newton and Woodson have extensive experience with young teams and have experience giving teams a fresh start.

Woodson is in the final year of his contract with Atlanta and has been a very public negotiating process with Atlanta gm Billy Knight about signing a long term extension but the team. Knight has stated the team wants to wait till the off-season to negotiate with the coach. Woodson has been open with the media about how he feels disrespected in not getting an extension and could be the catalyst in his departure from a team that he has returned to post season play.

Woodson would be a great fit for the Sixers as he excels with young talent and would inherit a team just as he did in Atlanta with no real sense of direction and without veteran leadership.

If Brown takes over as president of the team it will take a lot of the day-to-day control away from Comcast Spectacor Chairman Ed Snyder. Snyder has never really embraced the team and has always been more of a public supporter of his other franchise the Philadelphia Flyers. Synder is a hockey man and has never been strong with personnel hiring.

Brown could give the organization what they need and that is a basketball guy running the show who has a history of success in the NBA and mutual respect from most NBA front offices.

With the talk of Brown coming in to take over its looking like Ed Stefanski is firmly in the hot seat. Only time will tell if Stefanski gets the axe but if all the rumors are true the upcoming changing of the guard might be just what this team needs to return to a credible franchise in the NBA.


Apr 22, 2010

NBA Look-A-Like's

Hollywood is an influence on almost everything in our lives, including sports. With the mixing of talent between the silver screen and the professional athlete we sometimes see an intermingling of talent (Shaq Fu, Kazaam, even J.J. Reddick's rap career).

When the worlds intertwined so much its easy to notice how some of the top characters from both seem eerily similar by personality, mannerisms and even in this case looks.

So I came up with this concept about two or three months ago. I had noticed in casual conversation with friends that, at times, I tend to make jokes about how certain NBA players tend to look like certain high profile celebrities such as actors.actresses, musicians or cartoon characters. Just like my NBA Ultimate Arcade article I feel that this is something that all of you out there would enjoy.

Case Study 1: Roger Mason Jr. & Lauren Hill

Despite the fact that this guy in one of the purest three point shooters in the NBA I could not help to notice that he has a ceratin feminine look about him. When Mason came out of Virginia many people thought that he would be an impact right away, just as the Fugees did in 1997 both died out in about two years.

Just like the Fugees within a few years in the business many people were constantly asking "what happened to him/them".  Both made similar comebacks in the late 2000's and yet presently (as in this playoffs) many people are still out there asking "What happened to him". I think the pitcures speak for themselves but ill leave that one up for debate.

Unlike Lauren Hill Mason is not a leader, never will be and no group will survive on his play. Funny thing is when you look at the rest of the Fugees (Praz/Wyclef) they too have body doubles on the Spurs. Give Tim Duncan come dreads and an accent and tell me hes not Wycelf, and as for Pras I think the best comparison is that of former Spur and current Bobcat Stephen Jackson. Both are mildly forgettable and did their best work away from the combo and Jackson/Pras has a history of hostility against the establishment.

Case Study 2: Nathan Jawai and Precious

I came up with this one after the grammys when I saw all the hype with Precious and how Monique stole the show for the movie in so many ways. The actress that played Precious, named Gabourey Sidibe was a relative unknown before this movie and then it struck me not only are the looks similar both most likley their careers. 

Jawai in a native Australlian who came up in the NBDL  and was given the nicknames "Australian Shaq' when he was drafted out of the Aussie league and most recently has made a small, yet ineffective career as a low bench reserve, I imagine that is what it is like having to play the incestious daughter of Monique in an Oprah film. 

Jawai is not a reserve in the D-League once again but if you look at hes career you'll thruly understand the similarities.  Jawai came into the league with the Raptors having to play a distant third string to Chris Bosh (Oprah) then was traded to a lesser stock of a team in Minnesota and once again played a reserve role this time behind a terrible inside force in former top draft pick Darko Milicic. Milicic is simialr to Monique as in they both began with acclaimed hype but have had to reinvent themselves to stay afloat. The only difference is Monique actually won something. And well... Monique has talent.

In the case of the NBA though I think id rather have Precious on this one. At least she has the size to box out on an opposing defender. I think she deserves the Shaq comparisons not Jawai.

Case Study 3: The Curious Case Of Brittney Griner

Griner first caught my attention after her legendary right hook to Texas Tech forward Jordan Barncaster and I have been a mild fan ever since. Its easy to pay attention to a female player that dunks like the boys and throws a right hook like an MMA fighter. Griner is a freak talent that, when entering the WNBA, will dominate and easily take over the role as the most dominant female player. 

After watching her in the NCAA tourney I began to start my comparissons and I have narrowed them down to two. One fictional player and the other a movie side character.

Option 1: Chris Bosh

I guess its the size and the dreds that gave me this one but if you stack them up side by side you could easily make a claim for brother and sister. 

Both are dominate inside presences and just like being in the WNBA, noone pays attention to basketball in Canada so both are just names in small markets.

Option 2: Velociraptor from Jurassic Park

First off look at the hair, easy give away. Second off check out this video and tell me it dosent remind you of the Griner sucker punch and how after the initial attack noone tried to face off against Griner again. The Raptor ate these people alive and just like the NCAA tourney when it comes to being aggressive noone touches Griner in the low post.

I think both of these work and here is why. With the summer or LeBron coming I think we all know Bosh is no longer going to be in Toronto. They dont have max money and he dosent want to be there. Here is my sollution. If you agree on any of the Griner/Bosh comparisson I have a way to make everyone happy and make histry at the same time.

When Bosh leaves the Raptors can make history by drafting Griner as the first women in the NBA. Canadians think all Americans look alike so don't tell them and I think it would go off well. Not to mention Griner's similarities to the logo of her new team I give you Toronto's new marketing campaign.  

Its a win-win for Griner and a win-win for Walmart because those Jurassic Park $5 bin DVD will go flying off the shelves north of the border.

Not saying any of this will work but in the world of the NBA and the fact that there is no Sixers news for the next few months I had to do something to keep my mind occupied.

Love it or hate it, its all about the comedy. (I still thank Gabby would be a better post player then Jawai), just a thought.


Apr 21, 2010

Halladay goes the distance, Phils top Braves 2-0

This is an Examiner.com piece to read
the original CLICK HERE

After an inconsistent night for the Phillies bullpen on Tuesday a Roy Halladay start was just the medicine for a staff that needed a bit of a break. The Phillies ace had his second complete game of the season as the Phils topped NL East rival Atlanta 2-0 Wednesday night at Turner Field.

Halladay (4-0) allowed only five hits on 113 pitches including seven strikeouts for the Phillies as he breezed to his 51st complete game of his career. Halladay has pitched no less then seven innings an outing in his first season in the NL.

Halladay retired the first 11 batters he faced before Chipper Jones hit a double to left field in the bottom of the fourth. The biggest jam he faced was the in bottom of the seventh as he sat with the bases loaded and one out after walking Braves rookie Jason Heyward but proceeded to jam Yunel Escobar to hit into a 4-6-3 double-play to end the inning.

Halladay was backed up buy a strong night from the Phillies' bats, led by Jayson Werth who went 2-4 with two doubles and an RBI.

The first run for the Philes was by left fielder Raul Ibanez who scored Werth on a ground-rule double in the second inning. This came after Werth hit a line drive double to left field for his first hit of the night.

Werth's second double of the night came with one out in the top of the sixth that scored Ryan Howard for what would be the winning run of the game.

For the Braves the loss went to Tim Hudson who went six innings and gave up the two Phillies runs.  Hudson struck out five and walked two batters en-route to his first loss of the season.

The Phils will complete their first series with Atlanta tomorrow as 47 year old Jamie Moyer takes the hill for the Phillies. Moyer is 1-1 and will take on Braves ace Derek Lowe who is 3-0 this season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.

Game Notes:
Third Baseman Placido Polanco left the game in the bottom of the seventh after suffering a left elbow contusion.

Box Score


Apr 20, 2010

Eagles Schedule Posted

So after much wait the 2010-11 NFL Schedule is out and for the Birds this year might be a tough one. Despite the return of Donovan McNabb to Philly on Oct. 3rd the Birds have some very tough home games on their plate this year.

Also the Birds only MNF appearance will be in Washington as they make their first visit to McNabb and the new look Redskins on Oct. 15th.

The Birds will open the season hosting Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers before almost locks as they travel to Detroit and Jacksonville.

The key game for the Eagles will be on Nov. 7th as they host Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. The good thing about this game is it comes right after the Birds week 8 bye and historically Andy Reed is undefeated (9-0) after the bye week.

With the realignment of divisional games to later in the season the schedule bodes well for new QB Kevin Kolb who will have time to get adjusted before facing the grueling NFC East. But before they get to the brunt of their divisional schedule they will have to host the upstart Atlanta Falcons and visit Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears before having back-to-back NFC East road games.

Right now most experts including Adam Schefter of ESPN have the Eagles going somewhere between 9-7 and 8-8.

Stay locked to Eternal Mulligan for my Eagles draft review tomorrow night through Saturday as I give each draft pick and some stats and analysis for the newest Birds.

Sept. 12 -- Green Bay, 4:15 p.m. (FOX)
Sept. 19 -- at Detroit, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sept. 26 -- at Jacksonville, 4:05 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 3 -- Washington, 4:15 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 10 -- at San Francisco, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Oct. 17 -- Atlanta, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 24 -- at Tennessee, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 31 -- BYE
Nov. 7 -- Indianapolis, 4:15 p.m. (CBS)
Nov. 15 -- at Washington, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Nov. 21 -- N.Y. Giants, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)

Nov. 28 -- at Chicago, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Dec. 2 -- Houston, 8:20 p.m. (NFLN)
Dec. 12 -- at Dallas, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Dec. 19 -- at N.Y. Giants, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Dec. 26 -- Minnesota, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Jan. 2 -- Dallas, 1 p.m. (FOX)

BOLD- NFC East Games


Apr 17, 2010

NBA Playoffs Preview 2-of-2: Eastern Conference

The drama begins tonight in the NBA playoffs and as much as I love the East this conference is going to be a two man race. This will be beyond Cleveland and Orlando, I think when the Eastern Conference is ultimately decided it will be King James v. The Real Superman Dwight Howard. But before we get to the conference game lets break down the first round.

#1 Cleveland Cavaliers v. #8 Chicago Bulls
Season Series: 2-2

You look at these teams and you truly understand how much of a dichotomy the Eastern Conference really is. Beyond that fact that this is the first time in three years that all eight playoffs teams are above .500 you see that the team that took the final spot had to play there way in the final day of the season and you begin to think that the East has been decided before it even started and in this series your right.

The Bulls: Does anyone else remember that just a few years ago everyone in the league though this was the team of the future in the East. This team has talent at all position but at the same time the talent is meager at best when you compare it to the rest of the league. Derrick Rose is an all-star and it seems the Joakim Noah is getting better with experience but they will become a test subject in this series when it comes to the destiny of Le Bron James. 
The Cavs: This team was a beast last year in a bit of a stronger Eastern Conference. If you take the Cavs and realize that they are THIS good even beyond the fact that they shut it down for the last 3 or so weeks of the season. Also take note the key additions they have made this season. Shaq hasn't played in about a month, The addition of Jamison boosts this team to the point that they could have multiple set on the court that would require the Bulls to shift to double teams. Not to mention the bench play of Cleveland. If you look at the fact that players like Delonte West, Shaq and even Mo Williams may be coming off the bench at times this teams looks even scarier. Fact is this series will go to four and nothing more.

Key Match-up: Luol Deng is a strong player and even a consistent starter but the fact that he will have to play one-on-one with the most dominant man in basketball, Le Bron James, says all you need to know about Chicago. This match-up may seem closer in the beginning of the series while Le Bron shakes off the rust of sitting four games but once he gets in the groove the Cavs will cruise.

Results: Bulls don't stand a chance, Cavs in 4 

#2 Orlando Magic v. #7 Charlotte Bobcats
Season Series: Orlando 3-1
When you look at this series there are only a few things that you have to consider. This is Charlotte's first trip to the playoffs ever and the fact that Orlando has improved from the team that went to the NBA finals last season. The off-season departure of Hedo Turkoglu to Toronto allowed the Orlando Magic to bring in another veteran to push them over the edge in Vince Carter. Even though this is a 2 v. 7 seed there are a few facts that could make this series become the high light of the Eastern Conference first round.

As much as I wish the Bobcats luck because they have a lot of experienced talent and I am a huge fan of Larry Brown I just don't feel that they have enough to take it to a determined team in Orlando.

The Bobcats: Not only is this the first time the Bobcats have made the playoffs but this is the first time they have had a true all-star. Gerald Wallace is an intimidating player on the inside post and is quick around the ball. You mix in the Stephen Jackson trade and the fact that he is one of the purest shooters in the NBA and it makes you think this team stands a chance. Also I don't think the Tyson Chandler injury is an issue which will be important because its going to be Tyson that has to take on Dwight Howard so for them I hope I am right.

The Magic: Lets not dwell on Dwight Howard or Vince Carter because over most of the team they get the attention, which is well deserved. I think this team may have the deepest bench in the NBA. They have some of the most pure shooters in players like Mickael Pietrus and J.J. Reddick make me think that Orlando will sweep this series but some of the stats we associate with the Magic are going to fall flat against a tough and gritty Bobcats team.

Key Match-up: This is not a player v. player match-up but more of a situation match-up. It has been highly touted that the Magic have made the most three's in the NBA this season and that they have the deepest roster of shooters but I don't think they will have the prosperous outing most people do seeing as Charlotte allows the lowest three point percentage in the Eastern Conference (.385) and also the fact that they will be playing a lot of man-to-man pres which is a staple of the Larry Brown defensive set. I think this give the Bobcats an advantage on eliminating the Magic's bread and butter but they will still have to deal with Dwight Howard and that intangible is still yet to be controlled.

Results: Magic in 5. Charlotte gets a win at home to appease M.J. but that's about all they get.

#3 Atlanta Hawks v. #6 Milwaukee Bucks
Season Series: Atlanta 2-1

As much as this series will be explained as a chance for Brandon Jennings to make his rookie of the year statement I think that this is the culmination of about three years of everyone saying "Atlanta will compete for a title soon". I really like the Hawks even before the injury to Andrew Bogut and after Bogut was sidelined with the elbow fracture I think this series was decided.

The Hawks: This team is so balanced I didn't want to single a player out for the photo. Joe Johnson has become one of the most consistent leaders in the East and is the best player non-NBA fans have never heard of. Mike Bibby has had an incredible season adding +4 assists a game to his arsenal and with the recent standout play of Josh Smith I think this series is Atlanta's to loose.

The Bucks: First off I feel that I should state that I feel Brandon Jennings should be the rookie of the year. Hes the only prospect taking his team to the playoffs and he has the basketball i.q of a veteran.  I think the John Salmons trade was one of the smartest of the year but I still think that losing Andrew Bogut will be the Achilles heel for the Bucks and that's why I think this will be great experience for the young Jennings but that will be all it is.

The Match-up: This will be a great learning experience for Brandon Jennings as he has a very similar style to that of Mike Bibby. I expect Jennings to get the best of Bibby a few times because of his quick off the balls skills but in the end Bibby has more around his then Jennings and I think that will be the deciding factor.

Results: Not enough to stop the Hawks, Atlanta in 5. 

#4 Boston Celtics v. #5 Miami Heat
Season Series: Boston 3-0

 Even though Boston was the season series hands down this will be one that will go down to the wire. Boston has the experience, but with experience comes age and that is the one thing that may hold the Celtics back. When this team was put together we all knew there was a time table before the dream match up of Garnett, Pierce and Allen would start slowing down and if its not here then I think this is Bostons last chance to make a run at the title.

On the contrary Miami is a young and talented team that at times has shown its youth and may not have the huge balance that will be needed to make a long run into the playoffs. We think of Miami as D-Wade and cast but I think that this year the team from south beach has proved they are more then a one man statement. Michael Beasley has had his most productive season since leaving K-state and has shown the league that he is one of the strongest undersized power forwards in the league.

The Celtics: We all know about Pierce, Allen and Garnett and how their experience and defense won them a title and how they are always the X-factor in any game but I think its the newcomers that deserve a lot of the credit getting Boston as far as they have come. This season Rajon Rondo finally got the credit and contract he deserved. He is an explosive guard who has some of the quickest defensive hands in the east, which bodes well for the defensive minded lineup Doc Rivers puts on the court. With Rondo playing the point and the ever accurate outside shooting of Allen and Pierce Boston gives themselves a huge advantage against the sometimes undersized Miami Heat.

The Heat: D-Wade is one fellow all-star from taking over this league and we saw that in Shaq's time in south beach. Michael Beasley is a nice addition but he still lacks some of the talent that is needed to make himself on of the more aggressive players in the league. Carlos Arroyo is a good pg but not great and I think that his taking on Rondo might show some of the flaws in his games. Miami will go as far as Wade wants them to but not an further because if they have success its going to on the back of #3.

The Match-up: I think this series will come down to the one Celtic that I have not mentioned yet and that is Kendrick Perkins. Perkins will be put up against Jermaine O'Neal at a time well Jermaine is having an extremely productive season and is still playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Perkins is a big post up player but at times is slow on the break and that could inhibit his effectiveness. 
Results: This one will go down to the wire but I think Boston's experience will give them one more shot at the title, Boston in 7

 Love is or hate it this is my opinion. I am open to your debates so leave me a message
We will all find out starting tonight.

Apr 15, 2010

NBA Playoffs Preview 1-of-2: Western Conference

With the regular season in our rear view mirror it is time for the most exciting basketball of the season, The NBA Playoffs. This off season expects to be one of the most exciting in history and before we get to the summer of LeBron there is still a trophy to hoist. This is part one of my two part NBA Playoffs Round 1 preview and tonight we will focus on the Western Conference.
#1 L.A. Lakers v. #8 OKC Thunder
Season Series: Lakers 3-1

"A team will always appreciate a great individual if he's willing to sacrifice for the group.” -- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

I chose to begin with this quote because not only is it by one of the best Western Conference players of all time, and Lakers legend, but I think it describes the underlying battle in this series, Kobe Bryant v. Kevin Durant, Black Mamba v. Durantula.

I know most people are picking this Lakers to go all the way and I am not going to argue but I think this will be the toughest test the Lakers may face until they reach the finals. The Lakers are the defending champs and even though they won the west in the regular season they are a stark contrast to the team that tortured the Magic in '09.

The Lakers: Kobe will always be Kobe but this team is a little to battle bruised then I would like coming into a series with the fastest and most underrated team this season. With Kobe still not back to 100% and without Andrew Bynum in the lineup this team will be asking for a lot more minutes from people like Lamar Odom and could tire easily if this series goes to more then five games. Don't get me wrong I still think the Lakers will be in the finals defending their title but if they are not careful this series could get close. I expect to see a lot of strong play from L.O who is averaging 10.9 points and almost 10 boards a game. Just as Trevor Ariza stepped up in last years playoffs (11.3 ppg on 49.7 shooting) It will be the forwards that win this series and will take it to the mildly undersized Thunder lineup.

Thundercats Go!: Kevin Durant is the youngest regular season scoring champion is NBA history and could have his coming out party in the OKC's first trip to the players in franchise history. KD has been everything for the Thunder this season and has expanded his ever evolving arsenal of moves as the season went on. Durant is a scorer but I expect his defense to be the deciding factor on how far the Thunder will make it in this series. Expect to see a lot from Russell Westbook when the Lakers shift to double teams on Durant.

Key Match-up: It would be easy to say Durant v. Kobe but I think its going to be the big men that make or break this game. Nenad Kristic is recovering from a right knee bruise and is going to be rusty in the opening games of this series but that is beside the fact. Kristic is not the typical center and is going to be put up against Pau Gasol in this series. If Kristic suffers expect to see 6'10 Serge Ibaka getting a lot of playing time for the Thunder. Ibaka is the team leader in blocks and averaging 6.3 points and over 5 boards in only 18 minutes a game.

Results: As much as we all love the Cinderella I don't think the Thunder are there yet, Lakers in 6.

#2 Dallas v. #7 San Antonio
Season Series: Dallas 3-1

If Durant v. Kobe is the Masters this is the Senior Open. Both is these teams are marque names but are not the high profile teams of yesteryear. 

Dallas won the Southwest by five games and handled the Spurs in their season series with Dirk averaging 28.8 points a game. I love the Spurs but they are not the team they once were and with the ongoing injuries to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili I expect the Mavericks to end this series quickly.

The teams have put up similar numbers this season (Dallas 102. ppg on 46.5% shooting and S.A 101 ppg on 47% shooting) but if you look at the Spurs down the stretch they have relied way too much on players like Roger Mason, George Hill and rookie De Juan Blair to eat up minutes while their starters rest and I feel that if it comes to that scenario the Mavericks will smell blood and go for a quick KO.
The Mavericks: This may be Dallas' last chance at an NBA title and they know this. With an older team of beyond veteran players (J, Kidd, Marion and Nowitzki) Dallas knows that it is now or never. This strategy could be good or could completely backfire on them as they have lacked production when they play out of their element.

San Antonio: First off let me say that I love the Spurs but this team is a little to old and injured to make an kind of splash in this years playoffs. Tim Duncan will be relied on to do a little too much in this series and could hurt the team if it is ineffective. Duncan has never been a selfish player but if San Antonio is to make it anywhere beyond this series (if they make it that far) Duncan is going to have to be a one man wrecking crew.

Key Match-up: I think that the point guards are going to make this series and I am not talking about Tony Parker. This will be a battle between 23 year old George Hill and 37 year old Jason Kidd. Kidd is the ageless wonder this season averaging over 36 minutes a game and has ran the point very well for Dallas. On the contrary I really like the way that George Hill has come in for injured Tony Parker this season. I think the Spurs have found their point guard of the future in Hill, not only is he a three point threat (40%) but he is quick in his motion towards the basket. 

The only thing that will decide this is how badly Hill sprained his ankle in the season finals against Dallas. He is listed as DTD so that single injury might decide how long this series goes.

Results: Dallas is just a better ball club, Dallas in 5. (Dirk is gonna go NUTS, 23+ ppg guarantee) 

 # 3 Phoenix Suns v. #6 Portland Trailblazers
Season Series: Portland 2-1 

 I would love to pull for the Trailblazers in this series but I don't think this will even make it to five games. Portland is way to injured and with the possibility that Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge may have to play injured does not bode well for Rip City. Portland rode a duo of tested veterans to make the playoffs (Marcus Camby and Juwan Howard) but I feel that was mostly a temporary solution to their greater problem. 

Portland has a lot of young talent but most of it is injured. Lets not get into the Greg Oden debate because that is a non factor lets talk about players like Joel Przybilla and how he was supposed to be an integral part of the team this season. Or lets talk about the massive shooting slump Rudy Fernandez is in. This is going to be a four and out for the Trail Blazers if they cant get guys hot quickly.

On the plus side I have liked the play on Nicholas Batum, this SG has made an immediate impact for Portland and could be a surprise star in the series.

Key Match-up: Who ever has to guard Steve Nash and Amare. These two are going to blaze through this series (pardon my pun) and make easy work of Portland. Expect to see this duo wreck havoc early then the Suns will coast at the end of each game on the backs of Louis Amundson and Goran Dragic. The Suns second team is one of the most impressive units in the NBA and have averaged a +6 assist to turnover ratio against fellow western conference foes this season.

Results: Portland doesn't stand a chance. Suns in four.

# 4 Denver Nuggets v. #5 Utah Jazz
Season Series: Denver 3-1

Denver is the most up and down team in the NBA this season. You look at them on paper and you expect them to be making a run at the finals every season but it just seems like something holds them back every year and this year its the Utah Jazz.

The Nuggets: Denver handled it to the Jazz in the season series and but I don't expect them to do the same thing in the playoffs. The Nuggets hasve something to play for and a team with a desire and drive is hard to beat. With the words of head coach George Karl pushing them along as he deals with his ongoing cancer treatment I expect the Nuggets to play with a renewed sense of passion. We all know about Mr. Big Shot but Melo will be the one with the ball in his hands if the games get close.

The Jazz:  Unless you watch the NBA everyday (which thank god my job allows me to do) you don't know much about this team other then Deron Williams and that Karl Malone and John Stockton are no longer playing and if so frankly your missing a really really good team. They have a balanced attack and are a huge threat.

The Jazz are very unassuming and the most statically efficient team is basketball. Whether its their FG percentage (49.1 2nd in the west) the fact that they allow teams the second lowest rebounds a game (39.2) or the fact that they have eight players averaging almost 10 points a game has gone unknown around the mainstream media.

Utah is the Sleeper in the playoffs and could be a surprise in the Western Conference finals.The duo of Deron WIlliams and Carlos Boozer is as tight as any in the NBA. I swear there is just something about that city the creates great duos, too bad if they get past this series they will end the same way.

Results: Utah forgets their 3-1 record against the Nuggets and wins it in the toughest opening round match-up. Utah in 7.

Love is or hate it well all find out starting Saturday. Stay tuned to Eternal Mulligan
for my Eastern Conference Preview tomorrow.


Apr 14, 2010

Eddie Jordan To Be Fired Thursday

This is an Examiner.com piece to read the original CLICK HERE

An undisclosed source has reported to SI.com that the Philadelphia 76ers will fire head coach Eddie Jordan sometime Thursday, one day after the team finished their 2009-10 season finishing with a 27-55 record and missing playoffs for the first time in three years.

The news comes just hours after the Sixers fell to the Orlando Magic, the same team that took them out of the playoffs last season, 125-111 at Amway Arena in Orlando.

The source has not been revealed because the decision has not been made public but due to the teams lack of production this season and Jordan's failure to institute his Princeton Offense the decision does not come as a surprise.

Jordan is in the first year of a four year contract and came to the Sixers after being fired by the Washington WIzards after the team began the 2008 season 1-10.

Many reports earlier this week have pointed to former Sixers coach Larry Brown as the teams top pick to take over the position but Brown has vehemently denied these claims as he prepares to coach the Charlotte Bobcats to their first trip to the post season in franchise history.

Other top candidates out in the coaches market are Byron Scott and Avery Johnson.

SI.com release


Jeff Garcia Returning To The Birds???

This is an Examiner.com piece to read the original Click Here.
With the departure of Donovan McNabb to Washington and the style of play that Michael Vick lends himself too their is not a true veteran backup quarterback to act as a mentor for the Birds new signal caller Kevin Kolb.

The team has not made a move yet but former Birds QB Jeff Garcia says that he would jump at the opportunity to come back to the city of brotherly love.

"I would welcome the opportunity to return to Philly and be a part of the Eagles' organization and to be in front of those great fans again" stated Garcia via email to the Associated Press.

Garcia also stated that he likes the potential in Kolb and that he thinks he could be a contributor for years to come. Garcia also thinks he could help Kolb mature into a leadership role. "I know that I would be a great addition/mentor for Kevin as well as many of the other young guys on the team. Time will tell."

No words from Eagles front office about the move but I think I speak for many fans in saying this would be a smart move for a team looking for veteran leadership.

Garcia carried the Eagles to the 2006 NFC East title after McNabb went down with a knee injury before losing in the playoffs.


It Ends Today...

Tonight is the Sixers season finale and just like most fans I feel that this day could not have come any sooner. This season has been a complete wash for the Sixers and an utter disappointment.

The team ends the 2009-10 experiment in Orlando as they take on the Orlando Magic, the same team that ended their season last year in the first round of the playoffs and they are also the same team that the Sixers faced in game one of the regular season that began this ill fated experiment.

The Sixers will most likely finish the season 27-55 and be in top form when the NBA draft lottery commences later this month. The best part of tonight's game is that this should be the last time Sixers fans will see fast Eddie Jordan on the sidelines as it is expected that Jordan could be fired as early as tomorrow morning.

The team has a lot of issues to address in the off season other then the head coach position including general manager and the upcoming lowering of the league wide salary cap which could hurt the teams chances of going after any free-agents this summer.

It was reported in a USA today piece recently that former Sixers coach Larry Brown is team top pick to take over the head coaching and possibly the general manager position on broad street. Sadly enough Brown has denied these reports as he prepares to take the Charlotte Bobcats to their first ever trip to the playoffs.

Brown told USA Today that "I will only be coaching for Michael Jordan and have no plans on seeking other employment opportunities."

This team is a mix match of bad contracts, duplicate players and poor organization. It is too early to say how the team will address all of this in the off-season but we do know one thing. After tonight we can put this entire nightmare called the 2009-10 Sixers behind us.


(Thursday night I will be posting my NBA playoff preview so stay tuned)

Rollins Placed on 15-day DL

This is an Examiner.com piece to read the original CLICK HERE.

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was placed on the 15-day DL today after suffering a right calf strain just before the first pitch of the Phillies home opener on Monday against the Nationals. After the game Rollins was sent for an MRI to check on possible damage to his calf.

The MRI showed a grade 2 strain and Rollins has been held out of team activities ever since.
"We believe it to be a mild to moderate strain and we're hopeful it will be a two-to-four week recovery," stated Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.

The 31 year old Rollins could be out up to a month with the injury and in the mean time Juan Castro is expected to fill in at shortstop for the Phillies. Amaro told the press that the team does not want to rush Rollins back and that they want to take all precautions with the veteran infielder.

"As in all of our injuries, precautions will be taken so that Jimmy is 100% when he returns to the field." stated Amaro.

For the meantime the team has called up Wilson Valdez from AAA Lehigh Valley. Valdez is 31 years old and has played in the Mariners, White Sox and Mets organizations.

The Phillies are hosting the Washington National tonight in game two of their first home series. Kyle Kendrick is making his second start of the season for the Phils and the Nationals will be throwing right-hander Craig Stammen. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.


Apr 12, 2010

Rocky Start For Hamels, Phils Prevail 7-4 Over Nats

This is an Examiner.com piece to read the 
original CLICK HERE.

Despite allowing four earned runs in five innings in his second consecutive unimpressive start, Cole Hamels and the Phillies topped the lowly Washington National 7-4 at Citizens Bank Park in Philly's 2010 home opener.Hamels allowed six hits in the start but battled out of constant jams to notch his second win of the season.

Hamels got through the first inning easy but the Nationals got on the board first behind a Josh Willingham homerun to start off the second. The Nats made it 4-1 in the top of the fourth on a Pudge Rodriguez single that scored Christian Guzman and two batters later if was Nationals pitcher Jason Marquis who plated two on a two-out double.

The Phillies countered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth on a Ryan Howard single and a Jayson Werth fielders choice. Hamels was pulled in the top of the sixth after 109 pitches, most were his typical fastball and change-ups with no sight of the sinker he was allegedly developing in the pre-season.

The Phils took the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth with back to back singles from Juan Castro and Placido Polanco. Castro started in the place of injured Jimmy Rollins who was pulled from the starting lineup before the first pitch due to a right calf strain.

Chase Utley sealed the win for the Phillies with a one-out two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to put the Phillies on top 7-4. Utley finished 1-3 with the two RBI's.

Ryan Madson played cleanup duty pitching a perfect ninth inning to grab his second save of the season. Madson is going to be filling the closer role for a next few weeks with the news that closer Brad Lidge had a rough outing in his most recent rehab start.

The Phillies are now 6-1 and have two more games with the Nats at home before hosting NL East foes the Florida Marlins and the Atlanta Braves.

Box Score

Game Notes: Ryan Howard finished 2-4 with a double and an RBI... The Phillies bullpen did not allow a hit in 3 1/3 innings pitched... Each Phillies 1-5 batters had an RBI and went a combined 7-18 and no strikeouts.


Apr 4, 2010

McNabb headed to Washington...

This seemed unbelievable but in the end it happened....

This is an Examiner.com piece to read the original Click Here

So after deliberation and posturing the Donovan McNabb trade has finally gone through. Many thought that the Oakland Raiders or Seattle Seahawks were the front runners but in the end it was the Washington Redskins that made the deal for number five.

The deal stands that the Eagles will get Washington's 2nd round pick (37 overall) and a conditional third or fourth round pick in 2011 depending on McNabb's production.

The trade was first reported via Twitter by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Schefter has had his ear to the pulse of this story for weeks and announced yesterday that the Redskins were an 11th hour suitor in the McNabb lottery.

Many thought that a trade inter-division was impossible but it is being reported that the deal came to life because the St. Louis Rams are close to deciding on Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford as the first overall selection in the draft leaving the Redskins without their ideal first round pick.

Only time will tell if this trade bites the Eagles but knowing the karma in Philadelphia its looking like the NFC East is going to be a bit tougher this season.

*Sidenote: Tomorrow is officially wear your McNabb jersey to the ballpark as the Phillies are in Washington to open up the season against the Nationals.

Eagles Examiner Gordie Jones