The Raptors need to reduce rotation to 8 players…

The Toronto Raptors atrocious defense that I have mentioned before will be their downfall. The Nets are shooting 56% and went on an 18 – 2 to take charge of the first quarter. The Raptors were lucky the Nets didn’t start Miles Plumlee instead of Kevin Garnett. KG missed three jump shots that he usually makes.

The Nets only had 3 turnovers in the first half, while the Raptors had 12 in the first half. The Raptors defensive rotations and take away the opponents favourite plays didn’t happen.

The Raptors advantage going into the series with the Net was Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan who are the second highest scoring backcourt in the NBA this season.

Coach Dwayne Casey will need to play his hot players and reduce his rotations. The Raptors starters Amir Johnson a – 12, Kyle Lowry – 12, Jonas Valanciunas – 17, DeMar DeRozan – 10 and Terrence Ross – 1 have to be better. The Raptors only had 3 starters score in the first quarter: Jonas Valanciunas, Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson.

Coach Casey used eleven players if you include Steve Novak 33 seconds.  John Salmons shot an air ball three point attempt and he didn’t take another shot. He played 13:19 minutes because of his defense and Ross foul trouble.

Coach Casey should reduce his bench to Grevis Vasquez, Tyler Hansbrough or Patrick Patterson. Grevis Vasquez 18 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds. He shot 3 for 5 from the three point line. Hansbrough was a + 7, but only played 6:42 minutes.  He value is not in the statistics (2 points and 1 rebound); it is his physical play. Patterson was a + 5 in 26:18 minutes with 9 points and 5 rebounds.

The Nets play Paul Pierce at power forward; therefore, Hansbrough or Patterson can come in for Johnson if Amir is struggling.

The series should be over for two players unless injuries or foul trouble would require using anybody else. Nando De Colo passed up a wide open three point attempt with the clock running. The Raptors didn’t get a shot off in time. Chuck Hayes played 6:18 was a +3 without getting a statistic.  De Colo and Hayes should not play anymore.

Do you think the Raptors can come back? Should Coach Casey reduce his rotation?

Enjoy your weekend!

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Harper benched and Nationals lose

The Bryce Harper benching by manager Matt Williams will be the talk of Major League Baseball. Many in the media believe the Washington Nationals manager made a mistake by benching Harper.

The reason it was called a mistake is because Harper’s spot in the line-up came up in the ninth inning with the Nationals down two with a runner on and one out.

It is disturbing how obvious how the media and fans will pick a different side depending on the race of a player. They came to his defense, mentioned Harper had a quad injury and he usually hustles all the time. He was hurt last year when he ran hard to first base on a ball hit to the pitcher.

On a ball hit to the pitcher, a batter is not expected to run full speed. The rule in terms for respecting the game and your teammates is for the batter runs to first base and touches the bag before jogging to the dugout. At least make the defender feel like he has to make a good throw.

Harper didn’t even run half-way before veering off to his dugout.  He just needed to jog to first base and touch the first base bag. It is not too much to ask. Harper didn’t need to run 100% to please his manger.

The reaction would not have been the same if Williams benched a Black or Latin for not running out a ground out.

The manager was right that Harper let his team down by not jogging down to first base; it is not the manger’s fault for removing Harper from the game. Harper learned a valuable lesson without being embarrassed because if the pitcher threw the ball away.

The quad injury to Harper if it is so bad that he can’t jog to first base then he shouldn’t be in the game.

Bryce Harper is the face of the Washington Nationals franchise. Williams need to show his team that no one is above the law and they will be all be held to a high standard.

Did you agree with Harper’s benching?

Enjoy your Easter weekend!

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Black hockey players well represented in NHL playoffs

The 2014 NHL playoffs have many talented black hockey players represented this year. There are seven teams out of the sixteen that made the playoffs had Black players that will contribute to their teams success.

The most well-known black hockey star this year is P.K. Subban who plays for the Montreal Canadiens. He won an Olympic Gold medal with the Canadian Men’s hockey team this winter. Subban will be a key player if the Canadiens want to advance deep into the playoffs.

The future Hall of Famer, Jarome Iginla plays with the Boston Bruins who many pick to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. He plays wing on the Bruins second line with Milan Lucic and David Krejci. Iginla just had another 30 goal season.

The Philadelphia Flyers have two black payers who will play a prominent role if they want to get past the New York Rangers in the first round. Ray Emery is now the starting goalie, due to an injury to Steve Mason.Wayne Simmonds is a power forward who can score (29 goals), hit and fight (106 penalty minutes).

Ryan Reaves plays for the St. Louis Blues. He is the son of former great CFL running back Willard Reaves. Ryan is a power forward with a mission to put a lot of solid hits on opposing players. He may have hurt Jonathan Toews with a crushing hit in game one of the Blues and Chicago Blackhawks series.

Johnny Oduya plays for the Chicago Blackhawks. His father is a Kenyan journalist and mother is Swedish. Johnny represented Sweden and won a Silver medal at the Olympics. He was a member of the Blackhawks that won the Stanley Cup last year. He and Niklas Hjalmarsson make-up the Blackhawks second defensive pair.

The Dallas Stars have Trevor Daley who is the best defenseman on the team. He has played all his ten seasons with the Stars organization.

Devante Smith-Pelly plays for the Anaheim Ducks. He doesn’t play much right now.  Devane played 19 games this year and registered 10 points.He has a bright future.

The players should be saluted for making it, overcoming obstacles, believing they have a right and can make a career as professional hockey players.The future looks bright for more Black NHL players.

I’m hoping for Jarome Iginla to win the Stanley Cup this year. It is the only thing missing to his Hall of Fame career.

Will we see regular contributions from Black NHL players in the future?

Enjoy your Easter weekend!

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The New York Jets sign Chris Johnson

The move sounds good if a Jets fan think of the CJ2K player who ran for over 2 000 yards in a season, broke Marshall Faulk’s yards from scrimmage record and was Offensive Player of the Year in the 2009 season.

We are now about to begin the 2014 season.  Chris Johnson is 28 years old and played with an injured knee last year. He says he is healthy and is excited about playing for the Jets. CJ2K wants and needs the ball often to be effective because he has a lot of small gains before he burst for a 50 yard gain.

The New York Jets returning running backs are power runners Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell who follow their full back into a hole.  The Jets have a big offensive line with tons of weight and experience.  Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson are the anchors of the line. Breno Giacomini was a good signing.

The Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg likes to run the ball between the tackles, hoping to be in third and short situations. Geno Smith and Michael Vick will compete for the starting job.

CJ2K best season was when he played in a spread offense and shared the backfield with Vince Young. Johnson rushed for 2 006 and Young rushed for 281 yards rushing. The offense the Jets employ are not compatible with Johnson’s abilities.

The Jets may utilize more the spread offense with Vick and Johnson in the backfield. It is easier to run from that formation because the linemen who releases down field will be blocking a defensive back not a linebacker. The defense will employ 2 linebackers instead of 3.

Rex Ryan, the Jet head coach, built a great defense and doesn’t want his offense turning over the ball.  He will want a power football strategy, which they successfully employed to win regular season and playoff games with Mark Sanchez at quarterback.

CJ2K will be a great fit if he doesn’t complain about how many touches a game he gets in the offense. He may be employed as a change of pace back instead of a starting running back.

The Jets will have to make a decision on the type of system they want to run because they added three players who were very successful in a spread offense: Vick, Johnson and Eric Decker.

Will the Jets change their offense to accommodate the new players?

Enjoy your Easter weekend!

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Kyle Lowry is in a contract year, which explains…

The Toronto Raptors MVP Kyle Lowry is in a contract year, which is a great motivator for a player to work out and hire a chief to eat better. His numbers this year 17.9 points, 7.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals a game are astonishing for someone who has been average in his career.

A friend of mine texted me a post by ESPN with the best NBA point guard efficiency ratings: . The ESPN post ranks Lowry at number five and Isiah Thomas (Sacramento Kings) is ranked fourth in the entire league, which is ridiculous according to me.

The point guards that are not ranked in the top 10 who I would rather have as my starting point guard are: Tony Parker (Spurs), Damian Lillard (Blazers), Jeff Teague (Hawks) and Rajon Rondo (Celtics). I’m a fan of the point guard that will break down a defense to either get a lay up, pass to a big man for a dunk or set-up three point shooter for an open attempt.

This season has been a great season for Lowry, but I don’t consider him a player who can repeat this kind of season again. He is a back-up point guard. He reminds me of Jarrett Jack when he was with the Raptors. Many people thought Jack would be a starter somewhere in the NBA. Jack is still more efficient as a back-up.

A work colleague insists Lowry’s shot selection has been better this year and this would explain his increase in scoring. Kyle has taken 13.7 shot attempts and 6.3 three point attempts a game, which explains his increase in all statistical categories. His previous eight seasons, he only attempted more than 10 shots twice (10.8 and 10.9) and three point shots he never attempted more than 4.6 in a season.

Lowry has made 42.3% of his field goal and 38% of his three point attempts this year. He is ranked number 53 in three point field goal percentage, made 190, took 500 attempts and is tied with Paul George (Pacers) for seventh in three point attempts. He missed three games and missed parts of others due to injury or else he might have been in the top 5 in attempts.

Lowry took more three point attempts than, the NBA scoring champion, Kevin Durant (491) who shoots 39.1% and Durant played 2 more games than Lowry.

Masi Ujiri will wait until after the playoffs to decide how much is Lowry worth to the Raptors? Ujiri must decide if he will offer a five years for 60 to 70 million dollars deal to his free agent point guard? Was this season a fluke or can Lowry duplicate his performance for a minimum of three years? Remember Ujiri made his name by trading Carmelo Anthony to improve the Denver Nuggets.

I’m not a Kyle Lowry fan and don’t believe he will be able to play at this level for years to come. This season is a fluke because his shots are falling in not because he makes good decisions. The playoffs will exposed his penchant for shooting too much, take too many chances on defense for steals and when a takes a charge against the Nets the calls will not go in his favour.

Do you believe Kyle Lowry is a very good point guard? Will his success continue in the playoffs?

Enjoy your Easter weekend!

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Timberwolves should trade Kevin Love

The Minnesota Timberwolves must make a decision regarding their star power forward during the summer.

Kevin Love is the first NBA player to score 2 000 points, 900 rebounds and 100 three point in a single season.  He is number one in the NBA I double doubles. The market for Love is at its peak.

Minnesota finished the season 40 – 42 despite the number that Love put up this year. The Timberwolves should not make the mistakes that the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers made by losing Chris Bosh and LeBron James for nothing to free agency.

The Timberwolves have a chance to what the Portland Trailblazers in —— when the Trailblazers drafted Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldrige in the same draft. Portland went from a lottery to a playoff team with one great draft.

The next NBA Draft has a great crop of players who may help a team immediately. The Timberwolves will be in the lottery and could get a second lottery pick by trading Love before the draft. This is the draft an organization that has the potential to vault the Timberwolves to an above .500 team in an extremely tough Western Conference.

Minnesota has some pieces in place with: Ricky Rubio, Gorgui Dieng, Nikola Pekovic, Alexey Shved and Shabazz Muhammad. They can also try to trade Kelvin Martin for some young talent.

The Phoenix Suns have proven this year that a team can play young players who are hungry to prove themselves and win games, which they did with 47 wins.

How the Timberwolves handle the Love situation could be determine the future of the small market franchise? They can’t keep him half the year and try to trade Love at the deadline. The Timberwolves will not get much in return if they trade Love at the deadline.

The Los Angeles Lakers will not rebuild through the draft. They have a lottery pick and a few young players to throw in for one the best power forwards in the NBA.

Should the Timberwolves trade Kevin Love before the NBA Draft?

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My NBA Eastern Conference first round playoff picks

The Eastern Conference playoffs first round will be worth watching because every series will not have a sweep. There will be many close games because no team is dominant.

Indiana Pacers versus Atlanta Hawks

The Pacers ended the season with the best despite a poor finish to the season, while the Hawks had a strong finish to hold off the New York Knicks for the eighth spot.

The Pacers don’t look like the team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals and are going into the playoffs with a lot of questions.

I still have to take the Pacers to win based solely on last year’s playoffs.  I expect Paul George, David West, Roy Hibbert, Lance Stephenson and George Hill to play better and forget that Atlanta whopped them last in the season.

C.J. Watson, Luis Scola and Ian Mahinmi will give the Pacers a huge advantage in terms of bench points.

The Hawks will battle defensively and shot a lot of three point shots to make-up for the lack of talent. Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver have playoff experience. The Hawks will play with a lot of energy with Elton Brand and DeMarre Carroll. Lou Williams speed, quickness and scoring ability could be a difference maker.

The better and home team will win in a seven game series. The Pacers have the best record at home in the NBA with a 35 – 6 home record.

Pacers in 6

Miami Heat against Charlotte Bobcats

The Heat will struggle against the Bobcats, but will find a way to because they have the best basketball player on the planet in LeBron James. Dwayne Wade should be healthy for the first round and Bosh will be a steady contributor.

The key to the Heat not playing seven game series will be the defensive play of Chris Andersen, Greg Oden and Udonis Halsem against Al Jefferson. The Bobcats MVP had 21.8, 10.8 rebounds and shots 50.9%. Jefferson shots only 69% from the free throw line; therefore, the Heat may use the “Hack A Sahq” strategy with their three big men.

Kemba Walker could have to deal with James guarding him late in games, which would limit his ability to make clutch shots.

Heat in 6

Toronto Raptors versus Brooklyn Nets

The Nets purposely fell to sixth to play the Raptors in the first round. The Nets believe their playoff experience will be a huge advantage over the inexperience Raptors. The Nets experience will translate into a few less foul calls against them, a few more foul calls against their opponent and close games will go to the Nets because of free throw attempts.

Kevin Garnett and Mason Plumlee will give the Nets the edge over Raptors Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas and Patrick Patterson. When the Raptors go to their small line-up, the Nets will be able use Paul Pierce at power forward.

Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan points will be cancelled out by Deron Williams and Joe Johnson.  Andrei Kirilenko the Nets best defender will use his length, quickness and experience to make DeRozan earn every point.

The Nets will win the close games because they have two players who love to finish games: Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson.

Nets in 6

Chicago Bulls against Washington Wizards

The Bulls have the best defense in the NBA. Their team defense will create scoring chances; limit John Wall drives and Wizards inside scoring (Marcin Gortat and Nene Hilario).

The Bulls are mentally tough and will find a way to win the series. Chicago’s starting 5 is solid with Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Jimmy Butler, Kurt Hinrich and Mike Dunleavy. D.J. Augustin provides them with scoring off the bench and long range shooting. Taj Gibson might be the sixth man of the year winner.

Coach Tom Thibodeau will get the maximum out of his line-up.

Bulls in 5

Who are your 4 winner in the first round?

Enjoy your day!

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My Western Conference first round picks

The Western Conference is loaded with playoff teams with more than 49 games. Every series will be hard fought and can go either way because the teams are evenly matched.

San Antonio Spurs versus Dallas Mavericks

The Spurs won the most games in the NBA this year (62). They are well rested and ready to get back to the NBA Finals. The Spurs match-up better against a softer Mavericks team more than against the physical Grizzlies.

The Spurs should be able to beat the Mavericks easily.

Spurs in 5

Oklahoma City Thunder against Memphis Grizzlies

The Thunder love to play and up tempo game, while the Grizzlies play a half-court and grind it out style game. The Thunder will need big contributions from Kendrick Perkins, Steve Adams and Hasheem Thabeet to battle Marc Gasol and Zack Randolph in the paint.

The NBA scoring champion and most likely the MVP, Kevin Durant will score 30 points a game. Russell Westbrook will attack the rim and will contribute his usual 21 points.

It seems like a mismatch, but the Grizzlies are playoff tested and will find a way to keep games close. They will impose their will at home and keep the series close.

It will come down to, which team has the better bench.  The edge goes to the Thunder.

Thunder in 7

Los Angeles Clippers versus Golden State Warriors

The Clippers got great news when it was announced that Andrew Bogut will not play in the series. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will dominate the key.

The Warriors Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson three point shooting will be matched by Jamaal Crawford and J.J. Redick. Chris Paul will dominate the game on the offensive end.

This should be a short series.

Clippers in 5

Houston Rockets against Portland Trailblazers

These two teams play a similar system and will be a great long series. James Harden and Dwight Howard will be matched by Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. The difference will be the third and fourth scorers. The Rockets have the edge because they have Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin while the Trailblazers have Nicolas Batum and Mo Williams.

Robin Lopez ability to play aggressively and stay out of foul trouble could make the difference if the Trailblazers want to upset the Rockets.

The Rockets also have Omer Asik if Howard gets in foul trouble or hurt.

Rockets in 6

Who are your 4 winner in the first round?

Enjoy your day!

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Pujols closing in on 500 HR

Albert Pujols has 496 homeruns and it is a matter of time when he reaches 500. The media hasn’t made a big deal of this milestone because of the rumours of steroid use.  He never failed a drug test during his career. His most productive years were during the height of the steroid era.

There are presently 25 players who are in the 500 HR club. Since 1999 there have been ten players who joined the club. Many were using performance enhancing drugs to inflate their statistics: Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez. Barry Bonds has never failed a drug test, but there is a very strong possibility he took BLACO among other drugs of choice.

The last player to reach the 500 HR club was Garry Sheffield who did it in 2009. The fact it has been 5 years since a MLB player reached the milestone should have drawn more interest.

The next closest players to the 500 HR club are Adam Dunn (443) and David Ortiz (433). Dunn is 34 and Ortiz is 38 years old, which means they fall short of the mark. They are both DH players who will play more than 3 more years and may hang on to reach the 500 homerun club. Pujols will be the last player to achieve the mark for a few years before Dunn or Ortiz reach the mark.

The MLB is not making a big deal of Pujols reaching the milestone, due to concerns about the drug use rumours. Pujols threaten to sue former Cardinals Jack Clark because Clark said Pujols used drugs. Clark retracted his statement.

 Another reason for lack of interest is the fact that he is not playing with the St. Louis Cardinals. He played 11 extremely productive seasons in St. Louis. He won 2 World Series Rings among the many accolades and individual awards that he received during his career in St. Louis.

The interest and media coverage may increase if Pujols has a chance to reach the milestone in St. Louis or against the Cardinals. Pujols hasn’t been the same player since he signed with the Los Angeles Angels. He has yet to be healthy for a full season and reach Pujols type numbers. His numbers with the Angels are .285, .258 and .237 is his three seasons so far.

Albert Pujols will be a first ballot Hall of Fame player despite the rumours of drug use. He should be given the benefit of the doubt because he never failed a drug test.

Does Pujols deserve the recognition for reaching the 500 HR club?

Enjoy your day!

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Jackie’s MLB debut anniversary

Jack Thoedore (Jackie) Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers April 15, 1947.  Here is a link to Jackie Robinson official site:

Robinson was chosen not because he was the best Negro League player because he only played one season in the Negro League. Branch Rickey did his research, which lead him to believe Robinson was the perfect person to be the first African American baseball player.

Robinson’s family was the only black family in a white neighborhood. He handled the racism he faced without it affecting his ability to be a good student and play sports at a high level. He was the first college athlete to letter in four sports in the same year: baseball, football, basketball, track and field at UCLA.

Robinson stood up against discrimination in the military and was court marshaled. He was able to leave with an honourable discharge. He had to fight and win the right to be honourably discharged.

He face a lot of adversity, discrimination, pressure from fellow African Americans to succeed since he was the first, resentment from some Negro League players who felt they were better than him and media scrutiny. He was strong enough mentally to win rookie of the year.

Yahoo Sports had some interesting little known facts about Jackie Robinson:

There are a few facts that I never knew about Jackie Robinson.

The most interesting fact is his brother Mack won the Silver medal in the 200 meters at the Berlin Olympics and broke previous record held by Eddie Tolan.

Jackie Robinson was the first African American sports analyst working for ABC’s Major League Baseball game of the week.

The Anniversary reminds fans that black men were playing for more than themselves. They played for their families, communities and the entire race with pride and were role models. Every African American need to be reminded the sacrifices that the trailblazers faced, which got the new generation an opportunity to make huge money.

Happy Anniversary to a true legend!

Enjoy your day!

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