Monday, March 12, 2012

NBA and NHL Top Games on Gainer's Birthday!

Wait for it...wait for it...
Couldn't help myself, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Hey, it's March 12!!!! Guess what, I'm 25! Boooyahhh, quarter century.  Officially moved in to my new place up here in Cleveland, Ohio and start my new job tomorrow as well.  March Madness is in full swing as well as some pretty great weather!  To make matters even better, let's check out what's to come this week in the NHL and NBA.

We'll kick this week off with the round ball and we are 3 days away from the trade deadline so things could get crazy by Thursday afternoon.  In other news, rookie sensation Ricky Rubio of the T-Wolves blew out his ACL and really dims the playoff hopes of a good young Minnesota team.  My wildcard picks of the West, Denver, and Portland, are still in the chase.  Denver has moved up to 6 whereas Portland has fallen to 10th but behind a decimated T-Wolves team.  The IT team right now (outside of Conference leaders Chicago and OKC) are the Memphis Grizzlies.  Be interesting to see if they do anything with Gasol or Randolph come Thursday.  The team completely falling apart right meow is definitely the New York Knicks.  I really thought D'Antoni got a roster similar to his Suns teams but I was DEAD wrong.  They have lost 5 straight and are only 1 game ahead of the Bucks and Cavs.

Speaking of which, how about my NEW hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers?!  Even without fan favorite and defensive dynamo Anderson Varejao this past month, they have hit some streaks both winning and losing.  However, Kyrie Irving has proven to be the best pick from last June's draft.  The Cavs will be an interesting team come Thursday.  They have a huge expiring contract in Antwan Jamison and many favorable trading pieces (contract wise) they could move including back up guard Ramon Sessions.  GM Grant is never shy about making moves and owner Gilbert really believes they can win soon.

Here are the Monday morning updated standings and the games to watch out for this week:

Eastern Conference
1Chicago349.791-16-318-69-123-798.088.7+9.3Won 19-1
2Miami319.7751 ½18-213-77-224-4102.693.7+8.9Won 38-2
3Orlando2715.6436 ½14-713-86-421-1094.291.7+2.5Won 27-3
4Philadelphia2517.5958 ½16-89-93-218-794.987.3+7.5Won 35-5
5Indiana2316.590911-512-113-315-1395.192.5+2.6Lost 46-4
6Atlanta2417.585912-612-116-318-1093.491.6+1.8Won 15-5
7Boston2119.52511 ½16-85-116-318-1190.989.9+1.1Lost 16-4
8New York1823.4391511-107-134-512-1396.696.3+0.3Lost 53-7
 Milwaukee1724.4151610-97-153-513-1596.498.5-2.1Won 24-6
 Cleveland1623.410169-127-113-48-1794.798.5-3.7Won 34-6
 Detroit1526.3661812-113-152-711-1889.395.2-5.8Won 36-4
 New Jersey1428.33319 ½4-1410-143-410-2092.899.2-6.5Lost 15-5
 Toronto1328.317207-146-143-57-1990.194.2-4.0Lost 24-6
 Washington930.231236-163-142-56-1993.6102.0-8.4Lost 12-8
 Charlotte534.128273-152-191-84-2587.1100.7-13.6Lost 32-8
Western Conference
1Oklahoma City329.780-18-214-75-123-6102.496.2+6.2Won 18-2
2San Antonio2613.667515-411-98-318-1099.795.9+3.7Lost 16-4
3LA Lakers2516.610718-27-145-317-794.392.0+2.3Won 27-3
4Memphis2416.6007 ½15-59-115-415-1494.392.1+2.2Won 18-2
5LA Clippers2316.590812-611-103-414-1398.296.1+2.1Lost 14-6
6Denver2319.5489 ½12-1011-93-414-18103.8101.1+2.7Lost 16-4
7Dallas2320.5351015-78-133-316-1594.092.3+1.8Lost 32-8
8Houston2220.52410 ½15-67-144-413-1597.797.8-0.1Lost 14-6
 Minnesota2121.50011 ½12-129-93-316-1297.596.5+1.0Lost 25-5
 Portland2021.4881214-76-143-514-1598.194.6+3.4Won 14-6
 Utah1921.47512 ½14-65-153-411-1696.798.0-1.3Lost 24-6
 Phoenix1921.47512 ½12-97-125-412-1594.996.6-1.7Won 27-3
 Golden State1721.44713 ½10-107-115-410-1397.899.6-1.7Won 26-4
 Sacramento1427.3411810-74-202-510-1795.9102.5-6.7Lost 14-6
 New Orleans1031.244224-166-151-75-2288.693.9-5.2Won 13-7

New York Knicks @ Chicago Bulls 8pm on ESPN
The Knickerbockers desperately need to get off the schnide and win a game to hold off other playoff contending teams.  No better confidence boost than East leading Bulls led my Derrick Rose.

Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder 8pm
A West version of yesterday's game.  Houston is holding off Minnesota and Portland for the 8th spot.  They can do so by beating OKC, who sits firmly entrenched on top of the conference.

Miami Heat @ Chicago Bulls 9:30pm on ESPN
Only 1.5 games separate these two going into the week.  The 1 seed is on the line.  Rose vs. James.  Should be epic.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Utah Jazz 9pm
Both on the outside looking in.  Both teams trying to stay in it.  Huge game for ailing Wolves and a must win for the Jazz.

San Antonio Spurs @ Oklahoma City Thunder 9:30pm on ESPN
It's the juggernauts of the West.  The ageless spurs once again are in the hunt for the one seed.  Tony Parker is quietly having his most impressive season with an oft-injured Manu and old man Duncan.  OKC is the young up and coming franchise.  Bragging rights are on the table.

New York Knicks @ Indiana Pacers 7pm
Like I mentioned last week, the Pacers had a huge week to make a statement.  Guess what, they didn't by losing all the games.  Both teams are reeling.  Who wants this one more?

Atlanta Hawks @ Cleveland Cavaliers 3pm
It is my pick regardless of the fact that I will probably be in attendance with our fellow glogger T-Rex.  Hawks are a really weird team and the Cavs are still developing consistency.  Should be fun!

On to the frozen pond!  We are a month away from the playoffs starting April 11th.  Things are clearing up slowly but surely in the playoff race.  My East picks of Tampa and Buffalo aren't done yet but Tampa's goalie situation is really bad right meow.  Both squads are at least 4 points away still.  The Caps really stepped up and have a decent grip on 8th and only a point behind Florida for the 3rd seed!  In the West, the Blues are just dominating.  Go figure.  My picks of San Jose, Phoenix, and LA are looking decent.  However, Phoenix, after going undefeated in February has slid off the wagon and are down to 7th.  The Sharks (Boomer's pick to make the finals) are just falling apart losing 5 straight and down to 10th in the West.  In the East, my PITTSBURGH PENGUINS have won 9 in a row are only 4 points out from grabbing the TOP seed.  If they can get both Sid Crosby and Kris Letang back (both of whom are skating and practicing), watch out for them no matter what seed they end up.

Here are the standings and games to keep your eye on:

Eastern Conference
NY Rangers684318793403523-7-220-11-5188148+405-3-2Won 1
Pittsburgh684221589339324-8-218-13-3219173+469-1-0Won 9
Philadelphia683922785363517-10-522-12-2220197+237-3-0Lost 1
New Jersey6940245853010319-12-321-12-2195179+165-4-1Won 4
NY Islanders6928311066235315-15-513-16-5160206-463-5-2Lost 3
Boston684025383337220-13-220-12-1222164+584-5-1Lost 2
Ottawa703625981315318-13-418-12-5216206+106-3-1Lost 1
Buffalo693229872257417-11-715-18-1171194-237-2-1Won 1
Toronto693031868273416-13-614-18-2200212-121-7-2Lost 4
Montreal6927321064234812-15-815-17-2183193-103-7-0Won 2
Florida6832231377284817-9-815-14-5166191-255-3-2Won 1
Washington693528676341323-10-312-18-3184193-96-3-1Won 3
Winnipeg693229872284421-10-411-19-4181195-145-3-2Lost 2
Tampa Bay683130769292320-11-211-19-5191233-425-4-1Lost 3
Carolina6926281567260617-13-69-15-9181207-264-2-4Lost 1
Western Conference
St. Louis704518797414629-4-416-14-3183135+489-1-0Won 5
Detroit694422391377228-4-216-18-1217162+554-5-1Lost 1
Nashville684021787373423-8-517-13-2195175+207-2-1Won 2
Chicago703725882334423-7-514-18-3209206+35-4-1Lost 1
Columbus692240751193513-19-39-21-4161223-625-5-0Lost 2
Vancouver694219892357720-9-422-10-4215172+434-4-2Lost 1
Calgary6932251276293718-10-514-15-7173191-184-3-3Won 3
Colorado703630476288120-15-116-15-3183187-47-3-0Won 1
Minnesota6929301068227815-13-414-17-6150193-433-6-1Lost 1
Edmonton682635759224516-14-410-21-3180206-264-5-1Lost 2
Dallas693826581326420-12-318-14-2185183+29-0-1Won 5
Phoenix6934251078295718-12-516-13-5178173+55-4-1Won 1
Los Angeles6932251276275717-13-415-12-8154152+25-4-1Won 1
San Jose673325975276519-11-314-14-6184173+112-6-2Lost 5
Anaheim6929301068263618-14-211-16-8171193-224-6-0Lost 2

Anaheim Ducks @ Colorado Avalanche 9pm on NBC Sports Network
Avs lost Duchene which really hurts but they are still tied for 8th with Calgary.  The Ducks cannot afford to lose to bubble teams at this point being 8 points behind 8th.  They need a huge week to stay alive.

San Jose Sharks @ Calgary Flames 9:30pm
Only 1 point separates these two.  Calgary has won 3 in a row while the Sharks have no bite.  Does San Jose have any life left?  A must win for either team, look for this to head to extra time.

Colorado @ Buffalo Sabres 7:30pm on NBC Sports Network
Both bubble teams in each conference.  Neither wants to lose to a team that doesn't affect them too much in the standings but they can't sleep on this one because every point matters.  Ryan Miller in goal = wins.

Pittsburgh Penguins @ New York Rangers 7pm on NHL Network
Pens could be as close as 4 points or 6 points behind NYR come Thursday night.  Pens have the 4 seed wrapped up nicely right now but this game will go a long way determining if they can snag the 1 seed and win # 10 in a row.

Washington Capitals @ Winnipeg Jets 8:30pm
Southeast Division points on the line.  HUGE game to say the least.  Ovechkin is trying everything to stay alive.  Jets home ice advantage is nearly unbeatable. Go Jets.

Buffalo @ Florida Panthers 7:30pm
The Panthers keep surprising me.  They still lead the SE Division but barely.  You can't afford to lose to the teams trying to take your spot.  I like Florida in this game but mainly cause the Sabres can't score.

Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia Flyers 12:30pm on NBC
NBC's NHL Game of the Week.  Pennsylvania rivalry and one of the best in all of professional sports.  They are sitting 4-5 right now with only 2 games in between 'em.  This will be full of hits galore with a taste of Jagr and Talbot on the side.  Giroux vs. Malkin is the match up to keep your eyes on folks!