Monthly Archives: May 2016

Tip Your Cap

LeBron is headed to his sixth-straght final after last night.  That’s worthy of praise no matter what team you root for because he is the first guy to do it in 50 years. In fact only three TEAMS in NBA history have ever gone to the Finals four-straight times- the Celtics (twice), the Lakers, and the Heat. That means, Jordan, Bird, and Magic never did it. Shaq and Kobe never did it. And before you say Jordan would have done it if he hadn’t retired the first time, you can’t be sure of that.

Now we wait to see who he will face in the Finals. Golden State looked better the other night, but this will be a tough test tonight. Enjoy the game!

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The Moment Of Crisis

In 1998 the Yankees dominated MLB, clinching the AL East on September 9th in Fenway and finishing with 114 wins. They swept the Rangers in the ALDS, but then the script changed. After an easy Game 1 victory over Cleveland in the ALCS, the Yankees lost their cool and Game 2 in extra innings when Knoblauch held onto the ball and argued instead of getting time officially called. Game 3 was a disaster as Andy Petitte got roughed up and suddenly the Yankees, a team that had dominated all year, were facing the prospect of seeing their magical season end.

I was thinking about that last night as I watched Oklahoma City take apart Golden State and take a 2-1 lead in the Conference Finals. That did not look like a team that won 43, let alone 73 games, last night and the pressure is now clearly on the Warriors. For all the celebrations about winning 73 games, that won’t matter unless they can go the distance. The 72-win Bulls closed things out. The 1998 Yankees rebounded and did so as well, but think about the 2001 Mariners. 116 wins, but a loss in the ALCS denied them a shot at immortality. Those are the stakes for the Warriors. Win and become legends, lose and become an interesting footnote.

Which way will Golden State go now? I have no clue, but it is going to be a lot of fun to watch. Game 5 is Tuesday night at 9PM EDT.

Hornacek?

Word is Phil Jackson, Steve Mills, and Jeff Hornacek had dinner in midtown last night. While that’s not evidence of a done deal, it’s a sign that the Knicks are really serious about making Hornacek the next coach of the Knicks.

My first thought is, can he shoot a three still? My second is, does Phil Jackson hope to be fired? Look, Hornacek may be a great guy, but he isn’t a triangle coach, something Jackson supposedly insisted on, and he doesn’t appear to be a great coach. In Phoenix his teams got worse each year, albeit after a big improvement when he took over.

Some will take this as a sign that Jackson realizes he need to bend. Hiring a non-triangle coach and a coach who isn’t one of his former assistants or players. I don’t agree. There were guys like that available earlier this year who had far better resumes, Thom Thibodeau for example. To me this is either a hire forced on Jackson by Dolan, or a radical change that makes me question exactly what the long-term plan for the franchise is once again.

Catching Up

Sorry to have been away during a big week in New York sports, but I don’t set the school vacation calendar!

Anyway, I watched the Rangers’ season end from 30,000 feet thanks to Jet Blue and the Giants draft thanks to ESPN on the ground. Some thoughts on both follow.

For the Rangers the really discouraging part is that Lundqvist looked terrible for most of the series. That could be a sign he is acting his age (34) and if that is so, the Rangers are in a lot of trouble.  This team is built around Lundqvist and any slippage on his part dooms them to mediocrity.

But even if it isn’t a function of age, what do the Rangers do then? Do they double down (or quadruple down I guess at this point) and try for one last cup run? Or do they make the more sensible choice and rebuild? And if they choose to rebuild, what does that look like? This is a team with a lot of talent locked up into the future and very little talent in the pipeline. Rebuilding could take a few years, but trying for one last run could dig the hole even deeper. Not an easy choice.

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I think all of the draft grades assigned to the Giants are meaningless because this is a team that won’t compete for a Super Bowl next year without an amazing amount of luck. If you accept that assessment you can accurately judge this draft. If you don’t, it is a big failure.

Apple in the first round is a pick that will marginally improve this team, but could help enormously down the road. In the best case, Apple is the 3rd corner this year. That’s it, so he isn’t going to improve the team dramatically. But, if the Giants are right about him, he takes the job from DRC in 2017 and stars from there.

Shepard could be a great #2 receiver and the perfect complement to OBJ. That’s a great second round pick. Thompson in the third round fills a void at free safety and could become the ball hawk this secondary needs.

Goodson, Perkins, and Adams add depth, but not in the places the 2016 Giants necessarily need. Goodson will be a great addition to the linebacking corp, but the other two are “luxury” picks, which is weird for a team coming off a losing season. However, if Perkins is the RB scouts think he is and Adams is the TE scouts think he is, they have two huge weapons for the future.

But, there are still HUGE questions for this team going forward. What is the right side of the offensive line? Where is the depth on the defensive line? There are no clear cut answers to those questions at this point and that means we have no idea how the 2016 season will unfold.