Sportige The Sports Know-It-All Sat, 19 Apr 2014 18:33:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Match Highlights – Chelsea vs Sunderland Sat, 19 Apr 2014 18:33:10 +0000 Peter More ]]> Connor Wickham Match Highlights   Chelsea vs Sunderland

A very special week for Sunderland, making a huge impact on the title race in the Premier League, while making things simpler for them in their attempt to avoid relegation. They beat Chelsea 2-1 thanks to an awful penalty decision given to them by Mike Dean, making it the first time Jose Mourinho has lost as Chelsea manager at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea actually had a promising start to the match with a goal off a corner from Samuel Eto’o, but that was when his team peaked. They never brought consistent football and chances to the table, while Sunderland defended rather well, getting another fine performance from Vito Mannone between the goal posts, while you could have felt the shakiness in the Sunderland defense because of Mark Schwarzer playing instead of Petr Cech.

Sunderland equalized through Connor Wickham, having the best week of his short Premier League career. Chelsea might have a very good defense, but it’s very hard to keep Wickham at bay when he’s coming off his marker in a set piece situation, and the Chelsea defense, slightly overrated at times, couldn’t handle the young England striker. Sunderland had their chances later on in the match, even after Wickham came off and Jozy Altidore came on for him.

Altidore was the one who won the penalty kick for Sunderland late in the match. He took advantage of an awful mistake by Cesar Azpilicueta. Racing towards goal, from most angles it seemed as if Altidore went down before Azpilicueta slightly slid into him. Mike Dean and the linesman thought differently, and gave Sunderland a penalty kick, marking an awful match for them, missing out on a red card they should have given Ramires for his violent behavior, although Mourinho will obviously forget about that when he complains after the match.

Chelsea are now two points behind Liverpool but with a game in hand, making things more complicated for them in the race for the title, now needing not just to win at Anfield, but for Liverpool to have another slip up. Sunderland are still bottom of the Premier League, but in a much better position for the final four matches they have left to play.

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NBA Playoffs – Warriors vs Clippers Game 1 Predictions Sat, 19 Apr 2014 12:45:34 +0000 Greg More ]]> Warriors vs Clippers1 e1397902189774 NBA Playoffs   Warriors vs Clippers Game 1 Predictions

Some series have more than just one angle or story line to them. The Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors have been at each other’s throats for the last couple of seasons, so now they have a playoff series with up to seven games in two weeks to hash things out. Exciting.

Blake Griffin seems to be the focal point of everything. The Warriors (and other teams) constantly try to get him out of sync and into technical foul trouble. The Warriors are probably dirtier than others when it comes to their techniques, as Mark Jackson is sometimes pushing the “tough team” attitude a bit too far, or maybe his players are. Draymond Green elbowing Griffin, Andrew Bogut arm wrestling him to the ground, and there’s more.

But aside from the WWE connections, there’s also plenty of basketball to enjoy. Teams who play fast basketball and love to shoot 3-pointers are often a joy to watch, and this game will be no different. The Warriors might be the better shooting team with the top two 3-point makers in the league – Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but the Clippers have the ability to score on the inside as well, especially now that Andrew Bogut isn’t playing.

Maybe the fractured rib won’t hold him back for the entire series, but right now he is out. That means Jermaine O’Neal needing a lot of help from a slightly injured David Lee and from everyone else, who’ll have to do a lot better at rebounding the ball, and keeping Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan away from the glass. This means Draymond Green probably getting more minutes, maybe attempts at bigger lineups and hoping that Harrison Barnes finally starts his season.

Chris Paul will push things forward for the Clippers in what should be a very interesting point guard face off, maybe the best we’re going to get in the entire postseason. Unlike Curry, who specializes in shooting and is probably the best in the league, Paul can do pretty much everything, but will try to stay away from doing too much. He is also the better defender, and he’ll try and make it about limiting or slowing down Curry on his own without giving the improved passer a chance to hit open guys.

Prediction - In opening games, before the adjustments begin, usually the predictable thing happens, and the Clippers at home should be too much for the Warriors.

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Braves Over Mets – Almost a No Hitter Sat, 19 Apr 2014 12:15:18 +0000 gerakis100 More ]]> Aaron Harang e1397901053300 Braves Over Mets   Almost a No Hitter

Right now, it’s hard to find a team playing better than the Atlanta Braves in all of Baseball. Their 6-0 win over the New York Mets showcased some incredible pitching, as Aaron Harang finished the game with a 7-inning no hitter that was “ruined” later on by the bullpen, eventually allowing David Wright to get a single hit in the game for the losing side.

Harang has been on too many teams since the beginning of last year. The Braves are his sixth team since April 2013, but he has had a strong start to the 2014 season with a 3-1 record and a 0.70 ERA. He was taken off through seven innings after already throwing 121 pitches, which included walking six players (two of them in the sixth inning) and striking out five. He might have been able to hang on for two more innings, but Fredi Gonzalez didn’t want to risk it.

The Braves have an impressive starting rotation ERA of 1.47 so far this season, which is remarkable because of the changes they made after injuries to Brandon Beachy, Kris Medlen and Mike Minor. It was the second time in Harang’s career that he was pulled off after at least six innings after not allowing a single hit, and is just the third pitcher since 1900 with multiple starts where he finished with at least 6 innings of no-hit ball but DIDN’T finish the game. It was his second of the season, while the rest of baseball has just one this season.

Dte5BDg Braves Over Mets   Almost a No Hitter

There was also plenty of hitting from the 11-5 Braves, with plenty of extra base hitting and one home run coming from Freddie Freeman, who is usually lights out against the Mets. It was his fifth home run of the season (a two-run homer), making it to 12 RBIs this season and 48 career RBI against the Mets in 57 games, which is two more than what Chipper Jones had against the Mets through his first 57 games.

Chris Johnson finished with 3-for-4 including and RBI double in the second inning that opened the scoring. The Mets actually handled things well until the 8th inning, when Gonzalez German came on to pitch and the Braves got four runs against him, not allowing him to complete the inning. Freeman got his home run that also scored B.J. Upton, followed by Dan Uggla with a double scoring on a throwing error, a Jordan Schafer double that scored Johnson and a sac-fly from Justin Upton to score B.J.

Jonathan Niese was the one who picked up the loss despite allowing just one run in six innings, getting hit four times. The Braves could have done so much more in terms of scoring, finishing with only 1-for-11 on situations with runners in scoring positions. The Mets, through walks and a single hit, were only 0-for-3, losing the opener in the series, falling to 8-8 so far this season, doing especially bad when they’re at home (2-5).

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NBA Playoffs – Grizzlies vs Thunder Game 1 Predictions Sat, 19 Apr 2014 11:45:34 +0000 Greg More ]]> Grizzlies vs Thunder2 e1397899866423 NBA Playoffs   Grizzlies vs Thunder Game 1 Predictions

It feels like tradition when the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder meet in the playoffs, a third time over the last four seasons. Last year the Grizzlies made the most of Kevin Durant being left alone in the battle to advance, but the return of Russell Westbrook changes everything about this rivalry.

Kevin Durant is playing the basketball of his life, and is on his way to win the MVP award. It’s almost impossible to stop him one on one, but avoiding fouls on him and keeping him off the free throw line might be the key to making this series a bit harder for him. Russell Westbrook is difficult to contain no matter what kind of defense you use against him, so doubling up on Durant makes it a much more difficult mission to contain the talented point guard.

Last year Westbrook didn’t play, and he missed quite a few games this season. When he returned after the All-Star break he posted some big numbers:  22.3 points, 6.9 assists and 5.4 rebounds and shooting 46% from the field in the last two months of the season. He still has his moments of losing focus on defense or obliterating his team’s offense without giving it a second though, but Westbrook in general is a better player than before.

The Grizzlies also had injury problems slightly derailing their season – Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, Mike Conley. This team is better than a 7th seed, although it’s hard to say in the ultra difficult west. The Grizzlies are inferior in both defensive and offensive efficiency overall this season, but in a full lineup, with a slower pace and doing the smart things to contain Durant, they’re going to look a lot closer to the team that beat the Thunder in five games last season and turned the series between them in 2011 to a seven game classic.

The Grizzlies are actually the hotter team going into the series, winning their last five games while the Thunder have been very inconsistent since the All-Star break. There’s bad blood, with volatile players not to mention the Thunder being the league leaders in player technical fouls, which means this thing can get heated pretty quickly.

Prediction - Despite losing recent games at home, the Thunder are very hard to beat there when they run. Opening game usually brings a lot of excitement before the adjustments that slow things down, and in a quick, fiery game, the Thunder don’t have a match in the league.

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NBA Playoffs – Hawks vs Pacers Game 1 Predictions Sat, 19 Apr 2014 11:15:15 +0000 Greg More ]]> Hawks vs Pacers2 e1397897573869 NBA Playoffs   Hawks vs Pacers Game 1 Predictions

Teams that enter the playoffs with a sub .500 record don’t usually do too well, but the Atlanta Hawks are hoping to change that. The Indiana Pacers are also looking for something of a turnaround, but it has more to do with their ability this season, which has been very poor heading into the postseason through the second half of the 2013-2014 season.

The Pacers started the season at 33-7, but finished on 23-19, including 16-14 after the All-Star break and 12-13 through their last 25 games, just like the Atlanta Hawks. Can they just shift things around because it’s crunch time? Only 2 teams in NBA history finished with a sub .500 record over their last 25 games of the regular season and then went on to win the title (1957-58 Hawks and 1994-95 Rockets).

The Hawks are also facing some historical facts they hope to overcome. Since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1983-84, teams that entered the postseason with a sub .500 record are just 2-40 in playoff series. The 1986-87 SuperSonics (.476 win pct) were the only team to win a series, defeating the Mavericks in the First Round and Rockets in the Conference Semifinals.

So what needs to happen? Just like last year, the contrasts are clear. The Hawks want to run and shoot, keeping the ball away from the paint. When it comes to trying and break the Pacers down by force, the Hawks simply don’t have the right personnel for that. They have five players who can all stretch the floor and shoot 3′s, and that is going to be the way for them to open up the Pacers defense, the most efficient in the league, although it hasn’t been very special over the last couple of months this season.

Indiana feel confident after winning the last couple of games this season and also hoping that their bench is going to be consistent and smart enough in the minutes it gets. Evan Turner and Luis Scola are the keys there, but the Pacers need to hope Ian Manhimi doesn’t make them cling on to Roy Hibbert too much. And speaking of Hibbert…

He averaged 17 points and 9 rebounds last year in the postseason. He shot just 23.5% from the field during April, is 1-of-16 from the field in the last two games and averaged just 3.2 rebounds over the last 13. The Pacers can live without his points, but they need Hibbert to be the same reliable rock he is in the paint defensively like he’s been during the first half of the season.

Predictions - The Hawks won in Indiana by 19 points the last time the two teams have played. Maybe the Pacers haven’t fixed all of their issues, but they’re going to be focused enough to let their advantages shine through and pick up the opening game.

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NBA Playoffs – Nets vs Raptors Game 1 Predictions Sat, 19 Apr 2014 10:45:42 +0000 Greg More ]]> Nets vs Raptors2 e1397896842120 NBA Playoffs   Nets vs Raptors Game 1 Predictions

The opening encounter of the 2014 NBA playoffs will be between the Brooklyn Nets, a team that keeps telling us they’ve been built to succeed in the playoffs, and the Toronto Raptors, who very few actually expected to see make it into the postseason, let alone host game 1 of the first round series.

Most statistical categories are very similar between the two teams: Similar pace, similar shooting accuracy. The difference comes in the rebounding. Brooklyn are 29th in the NBA in rebounding rate, grabbing only 47.5% of the available boards. The Raptors, with Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas, not to forget about a bench that doesn’t always get plenty of credit, grab 50.3% of them, and have a huge advantage when it comes to offensive boards.

The Nets are hoping to counter that with experience. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry are NBA champions. Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko have been together to the Western conference finals. The Raptors have three starters who have never tasted a playoff game. The Nets seemed confident enough to tank on the final games of the season to set themselves up with a game against the Raptors, who they perceive as the weakest of the home court advantage foursome.

But the Raptors have athleticism and speed. Both teams played in a similar pace during the regular season, but it’s quite clear that if this becomes a track meet with fast breaks to both ends, the Nets don’t have the ability to keep up. It means Kyle Lowry, DeRozan and Ross will have to push the ball forward relentlessly, and try to make this series about Garnett, Pierce and Johnson not being able to stand on their feet in the final quarter.

This makes it a point guard duel. Deron Williams, like the rest of the starters on his team, hasn’t been very consistent this season. However, there’s a 7% differential between his shooting in wins and losses. A good game from him means everything becomes easier for the Nets, who don’t have another actual point guard to run the show – Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson just don’t bring the same things to the table. Kyle Lowry has been better than Williams for most of this season, but he’s under a different kind of circumstance now, and needs to adjust.

Predictions - The Nets go in quite rested to the first game of the series, and in their on and off seesaw of a season, it might mean they’ll be in top notch form for the first game, and possibly causing the first upset of the postseason.

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LeBron James – Best Selling NBA Jersey is His, Again Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:45:01 +0000 Greg More ]]> /* Image gallery styles */ .clear { clear: both; } .ngg-imagebrowser { background-color: #e4e4e4; padding: 10px; margin: 30px 0; -webkit-border-radius: 9px; border-radius: 9px } .gal-top-nav-wrap .back, .gal-top-nav-wrap .next, .gal-top-nav-wrap .counter { float: right; margin-left: 30px; } .ngg-imagebrowser .pic { text-align: center; margin: 30px 0; } .ngg-imagebrowser .pic img { border: 2px solid #dddede; max-width: 620px; } .ngg-imagebrowser-nav .back { float: left; border: medium none; } .ngg-imagebrowser-nav .next { float: right; border: medium none; } .ngg-imagebrowser h3 { margin: 0; } .ngg-imagebrowser .ngg-browser-prev { background: url( 0 0 no-repeat; display: inline-block; font-weight: bold; height: 23px; padding-left: 37px; text-decoration: none; width: 39px; line-height: 23px; color: #FFF; } .ngg-imagebrowser .ngg-browser-next { background: url( 0 -28px no-repeat; color: #FFFFFF; display: inline-block; font-weight: bold; height: 22px; padding-right: 25px; text-align: center; text-decoration: none; width: 60px; line-height: 23px; } .ngg-imagebrowser .ngg-browser-prev:hover, .ngg-imagebrowser .ngg-browser-next:hover { color: #FFF !important; text-decoration: none !important; background-color: transparent !important; } .ngg-imagebrowser .gal-top-nav-wrap .counter { font-size: 14px; color: #808181; line-height: 23px; } /* slider styles */ .ngg-imagebrowser .all-thumbs img { width: 85px !important; } .slider-wrap { width: 505px; margin: 0 auto; padding-right: 13px; } .slider-wrap ul li { width: 85px; height: 65px; margin: 8px; } .jcarousel-prev, .jcarousel-next { position: absolute; width: 20px; height: 53px; background: url( 0 -55px no-repeat; top: 26px; cursor: pointer; } .jcarousel-prev { left: -20px; background-position: 0 -55px; } .jcarousel-next { right: -30px; background-position: -30px -55px; } .slider-big-wrap { background-color: #000; border-radius: 8px; position: relative; padding-bottom: 20px; } .jcarousel-clip { overflow: hidden; }
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All-Star jersey

  • thumbs all star jersey LeBron James   Best Selling NBA Jersey is His, Again
  • thumbs el heat LeBron James   Best Selling NBA Jersey is His, Again
  • thumbs king james LeBron James   Best Selling NBA Jersey is His, Again
  • thumbs sleeved heat jersey LeBron James   Best Selling NBA Jersey is His, Again

Not all the “titles” are going to be taken away from LeBron James this season, at least not the individual one. He isn’t going to win the league’s MVP, Kevin Durant is. But LeBron James is the NBA’s most popular jersey for a second straight season, helping making the Miami Heat the most popular team as well.

The numbers provided by the figures make James, always in the eye of the storm for the last four years, the most popular player NBA fans like to be wearing on their jersey. The move to nickname nights and special names on the jerseys haven’t hurt his popularity as well, as one would assume. The “King James” nickname and the controversial sleeved jerseys addition to the NBA wardrobe were a popular item as well.

Kevin Durant came in second after James in jersey sales. He might be the better player at the moment, but still isn’t a name people want on their backs as much as they do when it comes to James. Playing for OKC and not the Heat or any other “big” team helped keep him well behind James this time as well. Kobe Bryant, thanks to foreign popularity, didn’t need to do much (played only six regular season games) to remain in the top 3.

The same goes for Derrick Rose, always one of the most popular players in the league even though he has barely played since April 2012, with a string of injuries keeping him off the court. He comes in fourth in sales, ahead of Stephen Curry of the Warriors and even Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks, despite playing in the biggest market an NBA city has to offer.

Two players who won’t be in the playoffs but have plenty of fans around the league are Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics, who missed a big part of the season rehabbing from his ACL tear. He also helped make the Celtics the 6th most popular team in jersey sales, despite having an awful season. The San Antonio Spurs might be the best player in the league, but they have only one (Tim Duncan) name in the top 15 (14th) and are ninth in overall jersey sales.

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NBA Playoffs – Mavs vs Spurs Series Predictions Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:15:12 +0000 Greg More ]]> Mavs vs Spurs2 NBA Playoffs   Mavs vs Spurs Series Predictions

Once one of the best playoff series in the NBA is now a one sided fading rivalry. The San Antonio Spurs with the best record in the league swept the season series with the Dallas Mavericks, so facing off against them in the playoffs isn’t such a bad way to start another hunt for the NBA title.

The Spurs are a team on a mission – winning a fifth title ring and doing more than just being very good and consistent at like they have for pretty much the last 24 years, excluding one season that turned into what gave them Tim Duncan. The Mavs just wanted to get back into the playoffs, and although there is a two-year plan for Mark Cuban, hoping to win a championship or at least contend for one next season, it ain’t happening this year.

Dirk Nowitzki played for the entire season and led the team in scoring with 21.7 points per game. Jose Calderon gave him a point guard who is a trigger happy one, great at hitting open 3′s which Nowitzki and Ellis are happy to create for him while being a pass-first kind of player. Ellis himself has turned himself into something a bit more efficient than he has been for most of his career, averaging 19 points while shooting 45% from the field, taking a lot of pressure off of Nowitzki.

And with all that, it’s not enough. The Mavs don’t have an inside scoring threat, and guys like Jae Crowder and Brandan Wright are efficient in small doses. The Spurs seem to have the total package for teams without a superstar. No one go to player, but an ability to beat you in a number of ways – from going inside to Duncan and Splitter to shooting 3′s with Leonard and Green and the magical moments Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili provide, right now not looking like two players mortified and shell shocked by the finals debacle almost a year ago.

Although the regular season isn’t always the best indication, too many signs are on the wall. The Mavs barely made it into the playoffs despite not having an injury to hold them back. In the West that’s so deep and tough, being good simply isn’t enough. The Spurs won all four games between the teams, scoring over 109 points in all four games. They are better at almost every position and aspect of the game, which doesn’t bode well for the proud Mavs.

Prediction - We usually see a sweep or two in the first round, and there’s a very good chance this might be it.

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Lionel Messi – Barcelona Selling Him Becomes an Option? Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:46:30 +0000 Peter More ]]> Lionel Messi3 e1397825156710 Lionel Messi   Barcelona Selling Him Becomes an Option?

One bad season and all the bad, hate and ugly come out. Suddenly, Lionel Messi is over the hill and Barcelona are facing disaster. Believing transfer rumors isn’t the smartest thing to do, especially those suggesting that the best footballer in the world might actually be sold to the likes of PSG and Manchester City.

According to El Confidencial some people in the board don’t want to give Messi that contract extension he wants that will make him the highest paid footballer in the world. Too many shady things have happened in the Barcelona boardroom and financial dealings recently, most notably the Neymar deal and the whole youth transfer issue that at the moment means Barcelona are banned from signing players over the next 12 months.

So will Manchester City and/or PSG actually pay the €250 million it is necessary for someone to sign Messi? If FIFA Fair Play wasn’t an issue, I’m pretty sure we would have seen some teams make that kind of offer for Messi. In the past, it would have been an automatic no, but suddenly, with the Barcelona future not looking as promising as in the past, who knows what’s actually happening behind the scenes, and which power figure is pulling in a certain direction.

But unless there’s some sort of grand conspiracy against Barcelona, Manchester City and PSG shouldn’t come out in perfect shape from the inquiries into their dealings, which might make a colossal offer for Messi seem less than likely at the moment. Unless Barcelona are in really bad financial shape, there seems to be no sense whatsoever to even entertain the idea of selling Messi. The transfer ban means they need to use the players they have in the squad, not to mention Messi’s deal ending in 2018.

Bad seasons and disappointments always bring out the worst in journalism and fans. Messi hasn’t had a super season, just a good one, and has disappeared over the last three matches, maybe the most important of the season for Barcelona. Naturally, it brings out those willing to turn the tables at the first sign of discord and trouble, but even though rumors will always be around, selling Messi, even for that sum, doesn’t make much sense.

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NBA Playoffs – Warriors vs Clippers Series Predictions Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:45:11 +0000 Greg More ]]> Warriors vs Clipppers e1397821576793 NBA Playoffs   Warriors vs Clippers Series Predictions

If there’s one series in these playoffs, or at least the first round, with bad blood taking over the storyline, it’s the one between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers, with Blake Griffin usually in the middle of it all because teams and especially the Warriors love to target him.

The Warriors are going to try and get Andrew Bogut on the court, but a fractured rib means a big problem for them. The Clippers have plenty of strengths – on paper a team that can score in pretty much every way, but without Bogut the presence of Griffin and DeAndre Jordan might be too much for them to overcome, and the Jermaine O’Neal and David Lee frontcourt tandem won’t be able to make much of a difference.

Bogut going down means problem for the defense. Yes, Draymond Green adds toughness and Andre Iguodala is still a fantastic wing defender. But most great defenses have a certain anchor to use. The Miami Heat of previous years might have been the case you exclude, playing without a true center for most of the time, but the rest of the strong defenses in the NBA begin their efficient runs with a big man and body manning the paint. The Warriors are third in the NBA, allowing 99.4 points per 100 possessions.

But the Clippers have the best offensive efficiency in the league, and the best point guard in the league. It’s going to be one interesting battle between Chris Paul and Stephen Curry, but the Warriors’ only hope of making a series out of this one is for everyone, even those not used to defending well, to step up significantly, and for Curry to have four to seven games of lights out shooting. Even that might not be enough.

The bench might be where the big differences become an issue. Harrison Barnes has been awful all season, and with O’Neal probably starting, there’s no real big man backup to Lee and him. Steve Blake has been disappointing, and Jordan Crawford is one of the most untrustworthy players one can think of. The Clippers have a much better Crawford of their own to rely on, with Darren Collison proving he can be very efficient with big minutes as well when he was needed that much.

Prediction - When healthy, the Warriors should be taken seriously as outside contenders for the title in the West. But at the moment? The Clippers have looked better recently, not to mention having too many advantages going into the series, and probably taking it in six games.

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