Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, April 22, 2013 at 8:33 AM
Hey, NBA, where's the drama already?
We know, it's only been a Game #1 in each of the eight opening-round playoff series but home sides won these playoff openers by a per-game margin of 16 points per game and save for Saturday's 97-95 non-cover win by Denver over a gritty/gutty (and now short-handed) Golden State Warriors team there really wasn't a whole lot of edge-of-your-seat action.
Okay, so there's a whole lot of basketball to be played in this first round alone - consider that home teams were favored by an average of 8 points in the post-season first eight games and so maybe nobody should be surprised by the lopsided affair -- but there are some things to be learned from some of the series.
Here's what we mean as we select one from Column A (a/k/a the Western Conference) and one from Column B (a/k/a the Eastern Conference):
In Game #1 in one of the Western Conference Playoff Series, the San Antonio Spurs (- 9) topped the Los Angeles Lakers 91-79 and the Kobe Bryant-less LA gang (yes, Kobe was tweeting up a storm) was sloppy, sloppy, sloppy with 18 turnovers including 10 combined TOs by big men Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard.
Gotta believe if this duo can't move the ball inside-out without flubbing things than this could be really a short-and-sweet series but maybe the encouraging sign is PG Steve Nash returned to the Lakers' lineup and committed just one turnover in 29 minutes of play - now that's something to hang your hat on for Game #2 on Wednesday night in San Ant, right Lakers fans?
In the Eastern Conference series between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks, the home town team battened down the hatches on "D" in the second half of its 85-78 win last Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. The C's scored a mere 25 second-half points - just 8 in the final quarter of play - and overall the three-point conscious Knicks dared the Celtics to beat 'em at their own game and Doc Rivers' crew managed just 5-of-20 trifecta hoops with veteran Paul Pierce helping to sink the Boston ship by making just 1-of-7 triples.
Now, the $64,000 question is can the Knicks rest so heavily on NBA leading scorer Carmelo Anthony to bang out this organization's first playoff series win in more than a decade?
Anthony - who finished with a whopping 36 points (or nearly 43 percent of NYK's scoring amount) - doesn't mind the pressure and veteran PG Jason Kidd sure made lots of big plays in the final frame (as usual) but we're wondering if Mike Woodson's club can win four games in this set if guys not named Anthony combine to shoot it at 19-of-50 from the floor? If that happens than this could be a lengthy series with Game #2 at "The World's Most Famous Arena" on Tuesday night.
THE NFL DRAFT - THE QUARTERBACKS
The NFL Draft is set to begin this Thursday evening and here in today's Jim Sez we bring you our latest - and our final -- position-by-position update: It's the top available Quarterbacks and note that in the next Jim Sez column we will bring you our NFL Mock Draft - so don't miss out!
GENO SMITH, QB, WEST VIRGINIA - Is it necessarily true that this former WVU Mountaineers star will be the one-and-only slinger chosen in Round I of Thursday's Draft? If you believe the rumor mill than the 6-foot-3, 218-pound Smith - listed as a top 10 prospect overall in this draft - will get gobbled up somewhere before we get to the evening's 10 o'clock news but the $64,000 question is will Smith still be there for the New York Jets at pick #9 or might "gang green" have to trade away one of its two first-round picks - yes, the other is #13 now that CB Darrelle Revis has finally been traded off to Tampa Bay - to inch up a few picks in order to grab this smooth-as-silk passer? Smith has a rocket-like arm but there's questions pertaining to his mental toughness and whether he's a true team leader as West Virginia's second-half-of-the-season meltdown a year ago fall mainly at Smith's feet. Gut feeling is the J-E-T-S won't be able to sweeten a package deal and thus Oakland at #3 makes sense ... for now.
MATT BARKLEY, QB, USC - Ask us and we believe this four-year player at Southern Cal should be top 15 material on this year's draft board but right now NFL folks generally have him being an early second-round selection (one web site has him listed as the 28th best overall prospect and thus one would think he could get snapped up late in Round I). True, the 6-foot-3, 227-pound Barkley didn't always wow scouts with his arm but recent reports claim he's shown extra "zip" in passing drills plus that injured shoulder suffered against archrival UCLA last November has completely healed and he's confident in all throws. No doubt Barkley posted superb stats last year with 39 TDs and only 7 INTs and so we ask why so much darn criticism? It appears he's headed towards Round II draft status but could be that you see Houston pull the trigger on 'em with pick #27.
EJ MANUEL, QB, FLORIDA STATE - At 6-foot-5, 238 pounds this veteran signal-caller sports big-league size and his strength allows him to extend plays a la Ben Roethlisberger (at times) but yet the criticisms abound including the belief that Manuel all too often throws into coverage and doesn't put it on target to his on-the-move receivers. Maybe the consensus draft board says Barkley is rated as the 28th-best prospect in the draft while Manuel's rated at #30 but count us among the folks who believe the latter should not be a first-rounder and not sure we'd risk a second-round pick on him, for that matter. Actually, our big question is why didn't he get better over time in Tallahassee?
RYAN NASSIB, QB, SYRACUSE - Here's another slinger who fails to get us excited even though current readings claim the former 'Cuse star is considered a top 50 pick in this NFL Draft. Note that Nassib - who stands 6-foot-2, 228 pounds - does a poor job reading defenses and challenges defensive backs too often (and than pays for it). Another quarterback who simply didn't progress from his junior-to-senior season and one who went from being "underrated" as a junior to "overrated" now while heading into this draft. Let's expect Nassib to go late in Round II with New England showing some interest as a Tom Brady backup for the next three or four years.
TYLER WILSON, QB, ARKANSAS - Tough to get a real handle on this former Hog slinger because last year's nightmare season brought him down along with everyone else en route to that ragged 4-8 SU (season) season. Still, Wilson - who is listed as 6-foot-2, 218 pounds - features a strong right arm and has major leadership skills although he is noted for "calling out" many teammates after Arkansas staggered out of the 2012 starting gate. Wilson is accurate and not afraid to zip it into a small "window" but some folks believe he's a bit too cocky and his 13 INTs a year ago no doubt served him some humility. Let's look for Wilson to go early in Round III but we would nab him before selecting either Manuel or Nassib ... so there!
MIKE GLENNON, QB, N.C. STATE - This 6-foot-7, 225-pounder really confounded scouts last year as he threw some terrible passes that stifled State drives and he simply didn't show enough leadership or toughness to get the Wolfpack rallied after giving up a go-ahead score. Frankly, Glennon did less with more surrounding talent than probably any veteran quarterback last year and we believe his stock has plummeted so much that he will be fortunate to go by the end of Round III. Might be considered a decent backup in Baltimore for Joe Flacco.
NOTE: Lots more NBA Playoff coverage all week and all month long here at Jim Sez but get ready for loads of NFL Draft Reports comin' your way here too with the Mock Draft next!