Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Who's hot, who's not?

Well... the NBA season is into its last phase when the teams sweat it out to claim a playoff berth, which if assured of, would like to move higher and higher up the ranks for the all important home advantage!

Its easier to eliminate many teams in the West and easier to see who is qualifying in the East.

The East

Cleveland is all so very likely to stay on top until they all forget to play ball. they have been shooting well from range, and then they have LeBron. Shaq's injury has forced them to call back Z from the Wizards... Hickson isn't bad filling in for the Big Witness though.

Magic seems to have gotten into the grove with players like Barnes, Jason, Pietrus finally contributing to the firepower led by Howard, Vince Carter and Lewis.

Celtics have been less than impressive this season, given their capabilities, and the recent additions of Nate and Mason (in addition to that of 'Sheed after last season). But, even if they enjoy the home advantage on paper, I don't see that helping them in any way. They've lost more home games this season than the last two regular seasons combined!

Taking advantage of this stuation are the Hawks, which has looked very much improved over last season. Joe Johnson, Crawford, Horford, Smith filling in big numbers. But the problem is, their two biggest stars, Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby are now nursing injuries. Its upto the rest of the team to maintain the balance of the team's position on the charts.

Bucks and Bobcats have become the 'chasers' in the East. Both have been very good at home court and have constantly been a threat to the top four. Bobcats, for instance, won the regular season series over Cavs 3-1. Miami, Bobcats, Raptors and Bulls will have to fight for the last three spots in the East for the playoffs.

With around fourteen fames to go, CLE and ORL have clinched playoff births, while the pathetic Nets ( Celtics won't agree though :-P ) have been shown the doors for this season.

The West

Right on top of the table are the Lakers, who started good with most games played on home court. the 8 game road trip in January dented their speed. Their first ever 3-game losing streak, since aquiring Pau over two years ago, was handed to them by ORL, CHA and MIA in early March. This has now created doubts over the capabilities of the Lakers in crunch matches. But, they have revived since then, and Ron Artest, the only addition since last season (at the expense of Ariza) has doubled up his defensive game.

Nuggets and Mavs are a close 2nd and 3rd, with both the teams showing form and strength time and again, only to be humbled soon. Mavs' addition of Butler and Haywood seemed to have set their pace right with a huge 13 game streak (mostly over weak opponents). 13 was unlucky though... Nuggets have been tough to beat at their home court.

Jazz have shown the urgency to make it to the playoffs with a spree of victories, like in last season... Chips are down a bit of late though with the Jazz.

Now, the most improved team of the year, to me, are the OKC Thunders. Kevin Durant is giving LeBron a run for his money for the race to the MVP, though the humble kid will say LeBron or Dirk or Melo has a better go at it, the second best scorer in the league really carries the hopes of a new franchise city. ft. - russel Westbrook and Thabo Safalosha, this is one exciting team to watch in their 'debut' postseason (hopefully).

Suns, after somehow hanging on to Amare' Stoudemire, Suns are wanting to show a better playoff performance this time around. Which position they will end up at? Whom will they meet? Some questions will be answered only after all games are exhausted!

Spurs have a minute advantage over the Blazers at the seventh spot, but now face a HUGE tast over the next 7 games, where they take on some of the season's best sides at both home and road, involving two pairs of back-to-back games.

The real warriors of the season, the Blazers, battling through uncountable players gettinig injured, the biggest of all, Oden...things were looking gloomy for them. But the spirit shown by them and the ability of the last one from the Fab-Five dynasty, Juwan Howard to start as Center at times, the side has climber mountains to reach wherever they are now. Camby has now come in to boost the side's Playoff chances. If they face the Lakers, I bet, that will be SOME series!

Grizzlies, Rockets and Hornets are quite some distance away from a playoff berth, which is possible, on paper. All other sides in the West will not qualify to playoffs this season.

In a month's time, the reglar season would've ended and the playoff charts will be out...

What a season!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How to get banned

1. Don't Play.
2. Lead the side to world cup victory.
3. Lead the side to a series loss.
4. Eat the ball.
5. Fake an injury.
6. Express confidence in yourself.
7. Return to play on S.O.S. request.
8. Impose an exile on yourself.
9. Be a part of an inexperienced side that loses away from home.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Why Kobe is greatness personified

Three big reasons :-

1. there existed a Kobe Bryant on the 4th of December, 2009 at the Staples Center, LA. (personal favorite, game-wise)

2. there existed a Kobe Bryant on the 16th of December, 2009 at the Bradley Arena, Milwaukee.

3. there existed a Kobe Bryant on the 1st of January, 2010 at the Staples Center, LA to wish all his fans a very happy New Year.

And two more :-
4. there existed a Kobe Bryant on the 31st of January, 2010 at the TD Banknorth Garrden, Boston(personal favourite, emotionally)
5. there existed a Kobe Bryant on the 23rd of February, 2010 at the Pyramid Arena, Memph

#1. - 'That was so well defended by Miami, but that was just Greatness Personified' - Jeff van Gundy
#2. - 'we are all watching a champion prove himself'
#3. - 'The look on the coach's face tells you how good the shot was.'
#4. - 'He is a man for the big games, and he knows how it hurt him a couple of seasons ago'.
#5. - Kobe returns to action to burn the Grizzles.

For beauty's sake -

March 5th, 2010, Time Warner Arena, Charlotte - 'HE displayed pure magic! Reminds us 
of the Kobe we saw over Battier and Yao last May. (Love you, Kevin Harlan, for that great work in the commentary box that evening :-) )

November 22nd, 2009, The Staple Center, LA - 'Give me a break! Welcome to the circus' - behind the board basket of highest precision, best one of the season.

Why the ICC world cup 2011 shouldn't be held in India

Indian pitches can all (except two or three ) be rendered unfit for hosting an ODI. BCCI is selling cricket... its playing a monopoly, unquestionably, monopoly. when I told this to my economics teacher, he laughed at me. he asked me, what does it sell? I told him - it sells (in more than one ways :-P )cricket, it doesn't allow competitors to enter the market (banned ICL), doesn't allow free flow of information (random selection, droppings, pitch selection, never-looks at some genuine talent... and gives no reason to most of them), and ofcourse, only motive is to make profit... Somehow, the faculty wasn't impressed, probably he was an IPL fan... hmmm... Nevertheless, coming back to the issue, I feel the pitch curators are brain dead. Forgot how to make pitches. I don't know how to make pitches, but they should know to make good ones. the test series against Sri Lanka had reports of average, below average and poor. Now, a 'poor' was a disgrace to the board, or so it should have been.

I'm tired of watching ODI games with 400+ scores and teams nearly chasing them down. Where is the fun i it. OK. If one team scores 400 and wraps up the other in 200, that displays some good team strength. But, that wasn't the case here. When was the last time I saw a 250 score being posted and defended? It just doesn't seem to be happening anymore.

When a curator says '260 will be a competetive total' and the team batting first scores 380 and the chasing team scores at more than run a ball to almost 280, I think the curator has to be fired. The Kotla pitch at Delhi which was under scrutiny after the Campions League match last October showed no improvement and was an absolute horror during the match against Sri Lanka, which I chose to watch because I saw grass on the pitch and some dampness in the air, likely to assist bowlers. Guess the grass was something i should've noticed, not just 'seen'. Present in scattered patches on a underprepared pitch, the balls shot off it once i a while injuring the Lankan batsmen more than 'once in a while'. Umpires called it a day. The curator got docked. Pitch got banned for an year. I don't know why the ICC trusts the BCCI of DDCA to prepare a sane pitch for the World Cup.

Country like India where 'peer pressure' is what brings out the worst in the people, the T20 seems to have become the household name for cricket. Bowlers have long been forgotten. Playing in the 'V' rarely appreciated, lemon slice gets a standing ovation (c'mon people, grow up! even the batsman doesn't know where the ball went) and there are lots and lots of flat piches with loads and loads of runs. If cricket is Ice Cream, T20 is diabetes. People in India largely have fallen prey to the monster called T20 which has completely gone off the hook. T20's creator, recently stated that today's T20 is not what he was thinking about a few years ago when the E(&W)CB introduced it in its domestic calendar.

Anyway, the Twenty20 Cup was more sane than the IPL. It had and has better pitches, controlled money flow, better trained players and a knowledgeable crowd who turn up for Friends Provident and County Championships too. Whereas, the BCCI, read as Lalit Modi, loves to pour money into IPL to reap more and more and more and more money, at the cost of cricket. With the advent of IPL, more and more people have started quitting Tests. Gayle wants to be a pro-T20 (ha  ah ha ha ha a haaaaa ) player, Freddie became a free lancer. An endless list of players injured themselves during the course of the IPL and missed off on more important series later on. One very hard to digest news was Dhoni playing IPL and opting our of a test series in Sri Lanka which proved quite costly. Where was the commitment to the nation, folks?

Now that a man has scored a double century in ODI, the home folks want more of it coming. the BCCI don't want their 'TRP's to drop, so, I expect they'll continue making pathetic pitches and feed the open mouthed spectators with more and more boundaries.

If BCCI had so much interest in dethroning Pakistan from hosting world cup matches, then I say India is no secure a place to host any match either. India has seen more and worse since and before the Lahore blast. (the Bombay blast a winter ago was where the English team was heading to, so, plus or minus a couple of days, the English team would've been in grave danger!). 

Money, and hence, power, has put BCCI in a comfortable positio. I don't know what the ICC and MCC are there for, BCCI is the one making the rules out there. Pretty bad ones.

My advice to any team who is coming to the world cup, if at all it happens - don't bring your bowlers. Let them take rest, some time off to spend quality time with their families.

Friday, March 5, 2010

End of the Layoff

Sorry folks... Couldn't + didn't blog for a long time due to personal, academic and medical reasons. Its been almost half an year since my last post and a lot have gone past in that window...

I'll try to break things up about what I remember. Please excuse my memory, it became very weak towards the end of 2009.

Cricket - The most boring of all the happening sports in the last six months. There were a couple of good tests every now and then, but overall, the Indian soil cricket spoiled the whole scenario. India continued playing Sri Lanka like it was getting up in the morning and going to brush teeth. Australia victored emphatically over Pakistan and W.I, both of whom tried desperately to win atmost one match of the series...failed to so so. The Kiwis hosted Pakistan for a good series that saw Bond and Asif return to cricket. Bond was there in cricket, but the bunch of bigwigs sitting