Saturday, April 26, 2014

Is "home court advantage" no longer a thing in the NBA playoffs?

Portland and Houston are winless in their own buildings.
As the NBA season wound down, the Indiana Pacers went 6-9 and choked away the top seed in the Eastern Conference.  They even rested all five of their starters for a game in Milwaukee with the East's best record on the line.  But the Miami Heat were totally disinterested in claiming it for themselves, and gave it right back by losing 5 of their last 6.  Playing at home rather than on the road in the postseason seemed totally insignificant to both teams.

Maybe they were on to something.

Through the first 26 games of the NBA playoffs, the home teams are a combined 11-15.  In two series, Wizards vs. Bulls and Rockets vs. Blazers, the visiting clubs are undefeated in six total chances.

During the 2013-2014 regular season home teams went 714-516, for a .580 winning percentage.  In the postseason that number has fallen to .423.  Yes, 26 games is a small sample, but it's still a ridiculous drop off.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Red Sox at Blue Jays: Why not talk Canadian pop stars?

It appears the NESN pollsters may have had better things to do on a Friday night than discuss baseball.  Are the Blue Jays really that boring?  It seems a little early in the season to already be resorting to this kind of stuff:

Having said that, I do kind of love the question.  Who knew Ontario was such a hotbed of talent?

For me it's clearly just a two horse race between Avril and Alanis.  I think I'd probably go with Lavigne in her prime (and also her future?), but Morrissette over the course of her career.  In all honesty though it's way too close to call without some thorough analysis, and I don't want to rush into a hasty decision I may regret.  I'll have to revisit this debate again in a future blog.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

The difference between first place and last place in the AL East? One run.

The Yankees currently sit atop the American League East with a 12-9 record.  Boston is last at 10-12.  If the narrow 2.5 game margin across the division isn't enough to temper any early-season concerns you might have about the Red Sox, consider this:

Both Boston and New York have allowed exactly 92 runs so far (although the Sox have done it while playing one additional game), while the Yankees have scored just 85 times to the Red Sox's 84.

In a bizarre coincidence, every first place team in the AL to this point actually has a negative scoring differential:

Despite these non-discouraging numbers (you can't really call them encouraging), I'm honestly not expecting all that much out of Boston this year.  In 2012 everything went wrong and the Sox finished 69-93.  Last season everything went right and they won the World Series.  Chances are 2014 will be somewhere in between.  I don't think the starting pitching will be as good as it was a year ago (John Lackey and Clay Buchholz in particular), and the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury in the leadoff spot is already a glaring weakness.  I'm predicting a Red Sox win total in the low to mid-80s.

And for the record, I've though that since before the season began; check out this article I wrote for Yahoo Sports back in January: Have the Boston Red Sox Done Enough to Contend Again in 2014?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's time to replace "cell phone" with a new and more appropriate term

I got a new "phone" yesterday, the Samsung Galaxy S5.  It's a just-released state-of-the-art top-of-the-line model.  After about 4 hours of playing with it I think I have at least scratched the surface of what it's capable of.

I spent a large portion of that time trying to figure out which features are actually important to me (that and going through everything and repeatedly turning off data sharing options; no, I do not want Facebook linked to my phone numbers), including deciding what icons/apps to put on the home screen.  It didn't take long to come to the conclusion that the button entitled "phone" is not worthy of the first page (to be fair, most calls I make start from either "messages" or "contacts").

So if the phone isn't even one of the most important functions any more, why do we still refer to these things as "cell phones"?  The instruction manual that came with my S5 only ever calls it a "device," but that's pretty nondescript.  "Gadget" seems fitting, but also similarly boring.  "Gizmo" sounds kind of cool I guess.  Got any ideas?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How many NBA players would it take to beat a WNBA starting five?

Hopefully this doesn't come across as sexist, offensive, or obnoxious in any way.  I think it's a perfectly legitimate and fun hypothetical sports conversation to have.  A five-on-five NBA vs. WNBA game would obviously be a joke.  I'm also certain that four NBA players would have their way with five from the WNBA.  But a three-on-five contest might be interesting.

In this scenario, which three type of players should the NBA team have?  I don't think they really need a point guard; one, because there are only two other players to pass to, and two, because the average small forward's ball-handling skills would be plenty good enough.

I also don't believe a shooting guard is necessary, the NBA guys could pound the ball inside as much as possible and just shoot right over their smaller competition.  I'm not sure if a center would be useful either, somebody like LeBron James or Kevin Durant is easily as big as a WNBA center.

On the other hand, if you did put a guy like Dwight Howard out there, he'd probably get every single rebound and be impossible to guard if he got the ball in the paint.  I think someone a little smaller and more able to run the floor and get out and guard on the perimeter is probably slightly more useful than a prototypical center, let's say Blake Griffin.

If I was to bet, I'd definitely put my money on LeBron, Durant, and Griffin against any five the WNBA might throw out there.  What about just LeBron and Durant in a two-on-five matchup?  I think I'd have to take the women, but it's a game I'd love to see.  

Here's Dwight Schrute from NBC's The Office with his take on the NBA vs. WNBA.

Thanks to fellow @CelticsLife writer @Mike_Dyer13 for giving me this blog idea.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Marathon Monday. Boston.

For the past decade or so, this has been my favorite day of the year (here's a little insight into why: Example A, Example B).

It's going to be different now.

But, still just as amazing as ever; that I am certain of.  I took this photo outside of the TD Garden before the Celtics' season finale last Wednesday.  The city has been overflowing with emotion all week.

Today it runs again.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Awesome Old Song of the Week - Easter Edition (sort of): "No Rain" by Blind Melon

Coming up with a hit song related to Easter is no easy task.  Outside of church it's not a particularly musical holiday, and eggs and bunny rabbits apparently weren't very common topics for 90s pop artists.

My next thought regarding Easter was something that has to do with flowers and spring, which is where Blind Melon's 1992 single No Rain comes in.  The song and video both have a spring-like feel to them, and the girl's bee costume seems appropriate for an Easter egg hunt.  If you've got a better idea please let me know.

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