Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 9:02 AM
In case you had not counted 'em up, there are 27 NBA regular-season games between tonight and Sunday night and -without a doubt -the future fates and fortunes of many clubs will be determined these next three calendar days and so excuse many folks in the pro hoops world if they are not all caught up in the recent holiday hoopla.
Check out tonight's busy card that features a whopping 11 games and you'll see that only two of these tilts have zero post-season implications (that's Washington at New Jersey and Cleveland at Toronto) as otherwise there are a boat-load of big games including the Phoenix at Denver clash where the suddenly-hot Suns -currently riding a three-game winning streak that includes back-to-back road conquests this week at both Sacramento and Utah -have major designs on getting into the playoffs and note Phoenix (28-26) is just one full game behind Denver (29-25) for that eighth and final post-season berth in the West.
And let's not forget this evening's interconference marquee matchup between Oklahoma City (40-14) at Indiana (33-21) as maybe that one will be an NBA Finals Preview (and not the Okie City versus Miami matchup that everyone was drooling about earlier in the week).
Go to Saturday's NBA card and there's Nine (9) games including enigmatic Orlando (32-23) at Philadelphia (29-25).
Okay, so the Magic has become one of the real circus franchises right now with last night's ugly 96-80 home loss to the 3-point underdog New York Knicks just the latest black eye for this squad (to say nothing of the black eye that Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu will be sporting following last night's bloody shot to the mug) and do you think that this whole Stan Van Gundy versus Dwight Howard fiasco officially has gone too far now with the Magic head coach claiming he "knows" that his star player has gone to front office folks to ask about the possibility he gets fired?
Don't look now, Magic fans, but Orlando has lost five in a row and the up-to-the-minute playoff picture has this squad tied with Atlanta for fifth place and it's becoming increasingly possible that Orlando could dive head-first lower into the Eastern Conference standings and may have to play either Miami or Chicago to get its playoff started ... now who would have forecast that potential scenario two weeks ago?
Jump ahead to Easter Sunday and the NBA sked has Seven (7) games on the docket including a Chicago at New York clash inside "the world's most famous arena" and that ought to be a blast and remember the Bulls (42-13) still have plenty to play for as they continue to try and fend off the likes of Miami, Oklahoma City and San Antonio for the overall best record in the league.
No doubt Chicago has been a bonafide hit on the road this year (see 21-7 mark) and one key for the Eastern Conference leaders is getting a real grip on the Knicks' born-again reserves.
Hey, it's one thing if Carmelo Anthony is getting his points (although he scored just 19 in that aforementioned rollover win in Orlando on Thursday night) but did you happen to notice that bench guys J.R. Smith, Toney Douglas and Steve Novak chipped in 39 points in that road "W" and so Chicago must counter these folks and keep Anthony at bay because he's sizzled lately (see 39-point showing at Indiana earlier in the week).
As we said, lots to dissect this weekend in NBA-land and folks such as Orlando are hoping to reverse course while Phoenix, San Antonio (winners of nine in a row -hey, when do the Spurs finally get some media recognition this 2011-12 season?) and Atlanta (winners of nine of its last dozen games) -all remain hopeful that the arrow will continue to be "pointed up" right through April.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are ready to rock this 2012 Major-League Baseball season and don't forget there's lots more NBA Winners too this spring and so sign up today and be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily/nightly winners. Note that the check-in times are anytime after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball Winners and after 1 p.m. ET for weeknight MLB and NBA Winners. Plus, check in after 11 a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday for all the weekend winners.
MORE MLB NEWS/NOTES FROM OPENING DAY
Hey, we feel your pain, Cleveland Indians fans!
Not only did the Tribe bullpen surrender three ninth-inning runs to force extra innings but when the dust finally settled on yesterday's/last night's Indians Opening Day there was Cleveland a 7-4 loser in 16 innings against gritty Toronto -a game that lasted 5 hours and 14 minutes (with no midges!) that proved to be the longest Opening Day in Major-League Baseball history.
Good thing the Blue Jays and Indians are off today -but there are a slew of teams just getting their 2012 season started and let's spend a few moments on maybe the most interesting team in Baseball: The Texas Rangers.
Now, here's a team that has lost back-to-back World Series the past two years and, well, nobody ever quite lost a Fall Classic like the Rangers din in St. Louis last year and so will there be a "hangover" effect here or can manager Ron Washington pick up his club by their collective bootstraps and get 'em back in the saddle all the while its chief American League West rival -- the Los Angeles Angels -- have seriously upgraded their team with the addition of 1B Albert Pujols and -let's not forget -former Rangers' ace C.J. Wilson.
Okay, so we admit that it would have been more fun to have the Rangers open up here with a season-opening series against the Angels so that Texas fans would have had reason to boo former Cardinals star Pujols and their one-time favorite son Wilson but instead Texas gets it started with a set against the almost-nameless Chicago White Sox and heaven help the Rangers' bullpen if they melt down at all this weekend against the Pale Hose.
Finally, one other "team to watch" this year that's opening at home today is Milwaukee:
The Brewers -as expected -didn't ante up to pay for 1B Prince Fielder this past winter and so now here comes the spotlight on LF Ryan Braun who basically embarrassed the sport this past off-season all the while seemingly getting over on the system regarding drug tests, etc.
If Braun had a real come-back-to-earth season, we say it would serve him right -too bad the Brewers fans also figure to be paying for his sins in this 2012 campaign.
NOTE: next week we will begin our NFL Draft coverage with our annual position-by-position analyses and so don't miss out plus there's loads of NBA & MLB action straight ahead all month long!