NBA: Best in the West?


While the matchups in the Eastern Conference are set in stone, the Western Conference won’t be finalized until the regular season wraps up tomorrow (Wednesday) night.

Home court advantage is a big deal in the NBA playoffs and bigger to none than the Los Angeles Lakers.  The Lakers are looking to three-peat, but are a year older and Thunder can be heard louder and louder in the distance. A year ago, on their way a second consecutive NBA title, Showtime was put to a test against Oklahoma City.

Here is what we do know, San Antonio is the top dog, and holds home court through the Western Conference playoffs. It’s not yet clear whom the Spurs will open up with, but it will be either Portland, Memphis or New Orleans. We also know that Denver will enter the post season as the fifth seed, with Dallas, Oklahoma City or even the Lakers their opening round opponent.

Despite being best in the west (record wise) the Spurs aren’t getting much post season respect. San Antonio is a three-headed monster, with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker all a year grayer. A Spurs win tonight in Los Angeles might even bump the Lakers down to fourth. Why is that significant? It would mean a potential 2nd round rematch should both win their opening round series. Probably not what San Antonio is wishing for, but certainly a possibility should they win tonight.

Oklahoma City is the opposite of San Antonio when it comes to hype. The Thunder are the sexy pick with young stars, led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Oklahoma City strengthened its only weakness, acquiring bruiser Kendrick Perkins from Boston in a trade deadline deal. Nobody wants to play the Thunder, at least not early on in the post season.

Denver has been the surprise of the west. Since the blockbuster Carmelo trade, the Nuggets have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Head Coach George Karl has gone as far to say its his best and most favorite team in his years in the Mile High City. While the Nuggets lost the star power in Anthony, they acquired incredible depth and substantial talent as well in the deal.

Dallas has high hopes and their is not a deeper team in the Association. Dirk Nowitzki is having a huge season and the Mavericks go ten deep on the bench. The loss of Caron Butler hurt, but the addition of Corey Brewer has helped off set that. Make no mistake, the difference in the Mavs this season, is the rebounding and physical defensive presence of Tyson Chandler.

Portland is the only other team in the west that may make some noise. The Blazers improved their lot with the trading deadline acquisition of mercurial forward Gerald Wallace. LeMarcus Aldridge and Wes Matthews should both receive consideration for most improved honors, while injuries have become synonymous with Brandon Roy and Greg Oden.

How important are these end of regular season games? I’ll give you my favorite answer, it depends. It didn’t matter for Boston as they were locked in to their slot in the East and rested the old boys in the loss to Washington on Monday night. Other teams have indicated that they will rest players, in hopes of a quick rest of bumps and bruises. Playoff matchups do matter and they will be impacted by these last few games, meaning they matter as well.

So much Sports to watch on TV, so little time!


Without a doubt this is one of the most exciting times of the year in sport. One of the few times of year where just about every sport in making news. Today is a great example with some prime viewing options.

We begin in beautiful Doral, Florida. Formally the home of the Doral Open, now the World Golf Championships. The TPC Blue Monster course hosting the two best American players of our generation, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. The Masters is right around the corner and all eyes will be on Tiger and his continued struggles since his return. Tiger, a 3 time winner at Doral, hasn’t won since the Australian Masters in November of ’09.

The NBA has a marquee match up tonight just down the street at American Airlines Arena. Much focus in the Association has been on the Miami Heat struggles which were highlighted in the “crying game”. It won’t get any easier tonight when Kobe Bryant and the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers come to town. LA arrives riding an eight game winning streak and head coach Phil Jackson has told the Heat that NBA stands for “No Boys Allowed”. Keep an  eye on Chris Bosh tonight, the Heat forward has been complaining a lot, guess he is weary of  watching Lebron James and Dwayne Wade isolate 1 on 5.

College Hoops continues towards its peak with all major conference tournaments on the floor today. The ACC, Big  Ten and Southeastern conference tournaments join the fun with many of the favorites enjoying a 1st round bye. North Carolina,  Duke, Ohio State, Florida and Kentucky the teams to watch.  ESPN’s Pat Forde has been doing a great job of tracking the potential title field with 145 teams remaining eligible for the 68 March Madness spots. If you get the chance, check out the Big East tourney which is in Day 3, but the top 4 seeds, including my national title sleeper Notre Dame, see their first action today. Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery are the announcers and are the best in the business.

For the hardcore Major League Baseball fan, Spring Training games are appearing on the tube in increasing frequency. With Fantasy Drafts and Auctions right around the corner, some scouting is certainly on the menu.

Not to be outdone, College Football teams continue to open Spring practice across the country. For your immediate viewing, mostly pro days here and there as we build towards a handful of Spring games that will be broadcast, most of which occur next month. With the NFL draft fast approaching, we are getting flooded with mock drafts.  Do yourself a favor, ignore the Mel Kiper Jr’s and Todd McShay’s of the world and turn to the NFL Network. Mike Mayock is without a doubt the best there is when it comes to player evaluation and X’s and O’s.

And finally there are the extremely boring NFL contract talks. If you enjoy talking heads speaking in front of large buildings maybe this is your thing. The 7-day extension to negotiate a new Collective Bargaining  Agreement ends tomorrow. A colleague of mine who is staking out the Federal Mediator’s office tells me that negotiations have deteriorated  to name calling and he wouldn’t be surprised to see the entire season cancelled.

So, with the NBA heading down the same path as the NFL, be sure to enjoy the plethora of options you have, before greed takes over.