It’s amazing how different college basketball’s tournament is from its pro hoops version.  While the NCAA Tournament is a single elimination sprint–most of which is squeezed in over three weekends–the NBA’s four round marathon stretches out over three months.  Where every little variable comes into play during the Big Dance…the slow waltz usually comes down to talent and focus.  Instead of having to prepare for a team’s zone press or a player you’ve never seen on the floor, teams get opponents they’ve met at least twice during the regular season up to seven straight times.  Sometimes schemes and wrinkles do come into play…but more often than not talent wins out.

 

The Wizards are trying to take a 2-0 series lead over Chicago this evening.  They haven’t led in any series 2-0 since 1982 when first round series were best of three…and haven’t led 2-0 in a best of seven series lead since 1975 (Eastern Conference Finals against Boston–they’d win 4-2 before getting swept by Golden State in the NBA Finals).  Coach Randy Wittman was a freshman at Indianapolis Ben Davis High School that spring…

 

“Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence”.  Let the record show the Wizards rallied from a 2-0 deficit to the Bulls in the 2005 first round (oh the days of Gilbert Arenas)…but that was after Chicago won games one and two in the windy city.  Rarely does a team bounce back after starting 0-2 at home.  While it’s unlikely Nene will duplicate his 24 points and 8 rebounds from Game 1…Bradley Beal and John Wall will likely shoot better than a combined 7-for-25.  Can they continue to dominate defensively (held Bulls to 42%FG, 5-20 from 3 pt range)?  The dance continues against a coach respected for being a master tactician in Tom Thibodeau (no truth to the rumor he switches spelling his name to “Thom Tibodeau” after losses to gain an edge).

 

 

April is “anomaly or trend” month in baseball– because there are 162 games in a regular season a team’s highs and lows are always amplified in the first month.  It’s natural because as opposed to a hot streak or slump in July or August, there’s no previous body of work that season to use as a base.  Tyler Clippard’s less than ideal April saw the setup man allow 4 runs in the 8th inning of Monday’s loss to the Angels.  He’s been solid in that role before and the idea is not to panic this early…but when does an occurance become a trend?  Same case with Ian Desmond–the shortstop leads the majors in errors at his position (9 in 20 games) and committed two in the 8th last night (the first one jumpstarting the 4-run inning for the Angels).  Do you give Desmond a day off to clear his head?  Do you move Drew Storen into the 8th inning role to give the bullpen another late option?  Right now Manager Matt Williams is sticking with both in their current roles… and just like his aggressive base running has cost the team in some short-term situations, one has to buy into the longterm focus.

 

Boston Stronger– the city ran its annual Marathon yesterday…and for the first time since 1983 an American won.  Forgive me for completely forgetting Greg Meyer…but I thought Alberto Salazar was the last US runner to win in Beantown.  Meb Keflezighi finished first while Kenyan Rita Jeptoo set a women’s course record.  Clarksville, Maryland resident Tatyana McFadden won the women’s wheelchair division–on her birthday.  But the biggest winner was a city trying to heal itself one year after it was turned upside-down.  Patriot’s Day celebrates not just the birth of a nation but how a group of people banded together to claim their home–and it was nice to see the city of Boston stand proud once again.

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