"The Stack" is here on this Monday with lots of NHL and NBA playoff talk as well as final thoughts on the NFL Draft. It was a very busy weekend and the upcoming days and weeks will only get busier so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Monday, April 30:
1. NBA playoffs get underway
We'll have our official NBA playoff preview tomorrow despite every series getting underway and some will have played two games by the time the blog hits Tuesday. Very quickly, I'll make my picks for the first round. I like the Pacers, Celtics, Bulls and Heat out of the east and the Lakers, Thunder, Spurs and Grizzlies out of the west. I know, pretty much straight chalk. Here are is one observation from each NBA playoff game over the weekend:
- Despite having a 1-0 series lead, the feeling around Chicago is that the season is basically over with Derrick Rose tearing his ACL late in the fourth quarter of game one. My real questions is why he was even in the game at that point. The Bulls had a 12 point lead with 1:30 to go. Questionable coaching. The Bulls should still win the series, but this just means one less team in Miami's way of making it to the NBA Finals.
- Speaking of Miami, they destroyed the New York Knicks 100-67. After Tyson Chandler's bump on LeBron James, James went off scoring the final 13 points of the first half. The Knicks looked terrible and James and the Heat looked determined. This series could be over rather quickly and watch out for Miami. They look to have a nice road to the finals.
- Still trying to figure out how Indiana lost to the Dwight Howardless Magic Saturday. Missing your final what, eleven shots and key free throws from players who normally don't miss down the stretch will do that to you. That and Jason Richardson caning threes. I think the Pacers respond for game two.
- The Oklahoma City Thunder are lucky to be up 1-0 in their series with the Dallas Mavericks. They did not play a good game and it almost looked like OKC thought Dallas was just going to let them have it. Kevin Durant's shot was more luck than skill. What a sick bounce. The Thunder should win this series and they will be more focused come game two.
- The (yawn) (that's not me saying it, but everyone else) San Antonio Spurs won their first game against the Utah Jazz. Too bad no one seems to care or take the Spurs seriously. They are a legit threat to win the west as the top seed. But given last year's debacle against the Grizzlies and their age, people want them to prove it. And so the Spurs will.
- Andrew Bynum is becoming an unstoppable force. A triple double in game one, are you kidding me? Ten points, 13 rebounds and ten blocks. Amazing. Kobe Bryant helped too with 31 points. They have too much fire power it would appear for the Nuggets to stop.
- Everyone is going to be talking about Rajon Rondo and his official bump late in the fourth quarter of Boston's 83-74 loss to the Atlanta Hawks and rightfully so. He did trip, but there is no way his momentum carried him into the ref and anyone buying his explanation is foolish. Either way, people are going to be complain. If he gets suspended, folks will say "well the league just wants to pave the way for Miami to reach the NBA Finals." And if Rondo isn't suspended folks will say, "the league wants Boston to give Miami a fighting chance now that the Bulls are without Rose." Those are the two arguments and there is no way the league gets around both of them.
- Finally, what a comeback last night by the Los Angeles Clippers. Down by 21 ponits entering the fourth quarter, the Clippers used a 26-1 run to upend the Memphis Grizzlies 99-98 leaving th Grizzlies and their fans in shock. It was one of, if not the best playoff comeback we've seen. Having said all that, I still think the Memphis Grizzlies can be a sleeper team in the west. The entire Grizzlies starting five is balanced and can attack at will. They made a surprise run last year, and after last night, it may not be a surprise if their run is longer this year. Now they just have to put last night behind them and get ready for game two. What a shocker last night in Memphis.
Three NBA playoff games tonight include:
New York @ Miami 7:00 PM ET
Orlando @ Indiana 7:30 PM ET
Dallas @ Oklahoma City 9:30 PM ET
2. Second round of the NHL playoffs get started
Just as the first round of the NBA playoffs started this weekend, the second round of the NHL playoffs got underway this weekend too. Here are some of the highlights from the weekend:
- The New York Rangers got another big performance from goalie Henrik Lundqvist as the beat the Washington Capitals 3-1 Saturday. The Capitals may have been a little tired after their overtime win against the Bruins Thursday, but the Rangers had to play Thursday too. Only difference was that they played at home and didn't have to travel. Washington can win this series, no question about it. Especially with a guy like Alexander Ovechkin. And either way, the NHL wins with this series. If the Rangers win, the NHL has the New York market for another round. If the Capitals win, arguably the NHL's biggest star is one series away from the Stanley Cup which means ratings. The NHL can't lose.
- The Los Angeles Kings continue to impress following their 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues Saturday night. Goalie Jonathan Quick was absolutely amazing, making some ridiculous saves, stopping 28 shots in all. He is fastly becoming the star of the NHL playoffs and turning himself into a household name, maybe one of the top five goalies in the game today if he's not there already. The game turned though in the second period when the Kings got a shorthanded opportunity and a shot on goal. Matt Greene picked up the rebound and put in the back of the net with just over a minute to go in the second period. The Kings now have a 1-0 lead in the series. Don't be surprised with this eight seed wins another series. I think they can and they will.
- The Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils turned in a nice game Sunday with the Flyers winning 4-3 in overtime. I'm hoping this series can go at least six games and both goalies (Ilya Bryzgalov-PHI and Martin Brodeur-NJ) have been shaky in the playoffs. While we won't see quite the amoutn of goals like we saw in the Flyers-Penguins series, we certainly should see more than a few and the games should be very close and contentious. Here's hoping for a long series.
- Finally, the team in the desert may win their second series this year after failing to win one the previous 25 years. Yes the Phoenix Coyotes have a 2-0 lead on the Nashville Predators following their 5-3 win Sunday night. Pekka Rinne has not shown up for the Predators when they need him to and the offense has come fast and furious for the Coyotes. Mike Smith continues to shine in net for the Coyotes, but it is an entirely different series as we head to Nashville. I thought the Predators would win this series since they seem to have more of a balanced approach. But after two games, it is the NHL owned Coyotes who are showing the balanced approach, the more attacking style of play and the better goaltending.
By the way, kind of cool and interesting that every seed one through eight is represented in the second round of the playoffs.
#1 seed- New York Rangers
#2 seed- St. Louis Blues
#3 seed- Phoenix Coyotes
#4 seed- Nashville Predators
#5 seed- Philadelphia Flyers
#6 seed- New Jersey Devils
#7 seed- Washington Capitals
#8 seed- Los Angeles Kings
NHL playoff games tonight:
Washington @ New York Rangers 7:30 PM ET NBCSN
Los Angeles @ St. Louis 9:00 PM ET CNBC
3. Final NFL draft thoughts
The 2012 NFL Draft has concluded and it was a pretty exciting three days, none more than day one with all of the trades. While it is entirely too early to tell who had the best draft and which players will pan out the best, here are a few of my winners and losers from the draft:
Cincinnati Bengals- consistent picks, mixture of both offense and defense to put a full roster together. The Bengals are banking on the success of last year and using that as a springboard for this year. The Bengals are hear to stay in the AFC North.
Pittsburgh Steelers- A rash of injuries to the offensive line last year and the year before meant that the Steelers needed to address the issue in the draft. Well they did, getting Stanford guard David DeCastro and offensive tackle Mike Adams in the second round. Both players shouldn't have been on the board when the Steelers were up to pick. Didn't do as much to help the defense, but solid enough on offense to be declared a winner.
Philadelphia Eagles- Traded up to get DT Fletcher Cox and added Marshall DE Curry in the second round. The Eagles "dream team" last year fell short. They are looking to make sure that that doesn't happen again.
Fans- Fast, exciting first round with lots of trades. Decently paced. Entertaining for the most part. The NFL gave its fans a very nice NFL Draft.
Honorable mentions: New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers
Oakland Raiders- Hard to make a ton of improvements to your team when you don't have a ton of draft picks.
New Orleans Saints- The draft was a nice distraction away from their offseason issues, but few picks didn't help them at all.
Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings- Both had very, very good drafts and should be lauded for their efforts, particularly the Vikings with that trade they pulled off with the Browns on day one. But when you are in divisions as hotly contested and as good as the three teams ahead of you in the AFC North and NFC North respectively, it's really hard to jump past those teams, especially when they all had solid drafts.
Roger Goodell- Got booed by the fans right away and that had at least 20 crushing hugs by guys far bigger than him for the most part. It was nice to see all of the hugs, but Goodell must have been a little sore after them all, particularly the hugs from Matt Kalil and Dontari Poe.
Coming up Tuesday: NBA playoff preview
Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.