On Basketball, Ray Lewis, Injury Returns, Slurs, and Other Stuff

Here are some quick thoughts on various topics:

– The Heat are a  more complete team than the Bulls.  The Heat are up 2-1 in the series, and as I said after Game 2, the Heat have proved that they can out-grit the Bulls.  But the biggest thing is that the Bulls don’t have a reliable scoring option outside Derrick Rose.  When he’s facing a double-team of LeBron James, and Chris Bosh.  As Michael Wilbon remarked on PTI, Rose couldn’t even see the rim.  Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng should both be scoring more consistently, especially when both James and Bosh are covering Rose.  The fact that Wade and James can both depend on each other to pick up the slack when one is double-teamed is big, but I personally think Chris Bosh is actually the most underrated player in the series.  While Miami has been all about their “Big 3”, the talk heading into the series was James and Wade vs. MVP Derrick Rose.  Analysts seemed to forget about Bosh.  Last night, he showed everyone how dependable he is with his 34 points, and that teams have to worry about him too.  Those three, plus role players like Mike Bibby and Udonis Haslem are just too much for this Bulls team.  Although, again, if Deng steps up in Game 4 (because Boozer quietly had a good game last night) and the Bulls win, it’s a huge series all over again.  I do think the Heat wind up winning the game and the series, and the Heat have already proved that they can win in Chicago, so if they win tomorrow night, I think the series is basically over.

– The Thunder really need to win tonight’s game.  They’ve shown the heart and grit to keep up with this Mavericks team, but they’ve looked fairly over-matched.  Although Durant has basically kept up with Dirk through the series, the Mavs have looked deeper than the Thunder, and if the Mavs get to go back to Dallas up 3-1, I just can’t see the Thunder coming back.  The interesting thing to me has been that Kendrick Perkins has been getting most of the blame for the losses, because the team has scored more points and played better defense with him on the bench, which is odd to me, because Perkins has always been big for his defensive presence.  Look for a usual big game from Durant, and look for Russell Westbrook to have a big game as well.  I’ll say the Thunder barely get the win here, but they will get the win.

– Ray Lewis is awesome.  He’s been the meanest and nastiest player of this generation, but I’ve always loved hearing him give his thoughts on various issues in sports or anything else, as he’s never seemed too full of himself, and he always has called things as he sees it.  His conversation with ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio (link here) just shows how he’s a great player, and a great man.  The fact that he thinks crime rates will increase if there’s no Football has been getting the most coverage on ESPN, and I don’t know if I can agree with what he’s saying there.  The point is, his ability to see past the issues of himself and what he wants are really cool to see as a fan.  If he thinks playing Football will save the lives of people, then who am I to disagree?  Lastly, the whole beginning scene with him playing with the children and talking about how important that is to him is really cool too.

– The Phillies and the Rangers are both about to make some serious runs.  Chase Utley’s return to the Phillies lineup will be huge for this team, who’ve had a Dodger-esque offense in May.  Utley, when healthy and hitting, is a top 5 player in the National League.  So should he start to hit, the Phillies will make the gap in the NL East considerably larger.  Meanwhile, the Rangers are getting reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz back to the lineup, which will also make a huge difference.  When healthy and hitting, Hamilton is a top 3 hitter in the AL, and Cruz is basically a slightly worse version of Matt Kemp.  Those two make the Rangers lineup very scary again, and they should be able to widen their very small lead in the AL West.

– Joakim Noah should probably feel a little bad that he got fined for using a gay-slur at a fan, but the issue of players cursing and using words that shouldn’t be repeated isn’t limited to Basketball, and it isn’t limited to gay-slurs.  Talk-show hosts have pointed out fairly non-stop that players use tons of inappropriate words during the course of a game.  For me, it’s most visible during a Baseball games, as the more emotional batters (Atlanta’s Brian McCann is always the first that comes to mind for me) will often scream something inappropriate if they strikeout foolishly and/or in a big situation.  Yeah, Noah should have been fined, but it’s foolish for the NBA to assume fines will take care of the issue, and it’s foolish for them to think that they can lower the cursing on the court.  Plus, they have to decide if they only want to limit the gay-slurs or if they want to limit all the cursing, and it’s just a terribly long road to go down.

– As a fan, I’m really happy that one of the aggressors in the Bryan Stow incident has been taken into custody.  I wrote in a post on Friday about how much more fan-and-family-friendly Dodger stadium is, and I hope it stays that when this case is completely taken care of.  As always though, my thoughts and prayers are with the Stow family, and I wish Bryan the speediest recovery.  Hopefully, his incident serves as a warning to every other sport’s venue out there, because incidents like this should simply never take place.

That’s all for today!  If you have any thoughts, feel free to leave a comment!

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