Sunday, April 24, 2011

2011 NFL Mock Draft

1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

2. Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

3. Buffalo Bills: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

4. Cincinnati Bengals: AJ Green, WR, Georgia

5. Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

6. Cleveland Browns: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

7. San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

8. Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, USC

10. Washington Redskins: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

11. Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

12. Minnesota Vikings: Jake Locker, QB, Washington

13. Detroit Lions: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

14. St. Louis Rams: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

15. Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey, C, Florida

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Cameron Jordan, DE, California

17. New England Patriots: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin

18. San Diego Chargers: Muhammed Wilkerson, DE, Temple

19. New York Giants: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

22. Indianapolis Colts: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

24. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

25. Seattle Seahawks: Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina

26. Baltimore Ravens: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

27. Atlanta Falcons: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

28. New England Patriots: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

29. Chicago Bears: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

30. New York Jets: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

32. Green Bay Packers: Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona

Monday, April 18, 2011

2011 NBA Playoffs 1st Round Predictions


1. Chicago Bulls vs 8. Indiana Pacers - This should be a pretty easy series for the Chicago Bulls who finished with the best record in the NBA(62-20) as they face  the Indiana Pacers who finished with a sub-.500 record(37-45). The thing that stands out to me when analyzing this matchup is that the Bulls had the best defense in the regular season and they should be able to shutdown the Pacers offense that was 23rd in offensive efficiency. The Bulls are very well coached under Tom Thibodeau. They are talented and have a deep roster. They are also in excellent form, finishing the season on a 28-4 run. I expect the Pacers to be scrappy, keep the score close and maybe even win a game or two but they just dont have what it takes to win four times against Chicago
Match-up to watch: Bulls SF Luol Deng vs Pacers SF Danny Granger
Bulls to win in 5 games

4. Orlando Magic vs 5. Atlanta Hawks - You may remember last season, these teams met in the Playoffs and Orlando dominated the Hawks en-route to a 4-0 sweep. It was the most lopsided sweep in playoff history and considering that the Hawks roster has remained largely unchanged, I find it hard to pick against the Magic here. If you look through both team's starting line-up position by position, they are pretty well matched. Orlando has the edge at center, small forward point guard(Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson respectively) but Atlanta is stronger at power forward and shooting guard(Josh Smith and Joe Johnson respectively). As well as that the Hawks won the regular season series(3-1). However, in the Playoffs your role players play a big difference and the Magic have much better depth. They also have better coaching and great three point shooting. When you combine all this with the Hawks tendency to crack under pressure, it becomes clear that Orlando will have the upper hand but certainly don't expect another lopsided series as the Hawks will come to play.

Match-up to watch: Magic C Dwight Howard vs Hawks C Al Horford
Magic to win in 6 games

3. Boston Celtics vs 6. New York Knicks - This will be the most intriguing 1st round series in the East. A lot of things in this matchup appeal to me. First of all, these teams are rivals. These cities are rivals. It is also the Knicks 1st Playoff appearance since the 2003-2004 and the atmosphere in Madison Square Garden is going to be electric. On the floor, the Celtics swept the Knicks 4-0 in their regular season series. The Celtics play great defense. They have a very talented and deep bench. They also have experience, making it to the Finals in two of the past three seasons. However, I think Knicks can make some noise. These two teams made the two biggest deals at the trading deadline. Boston brought in Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic in exchange for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson. The Knicks unloaded nearly half their team, including Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, to get Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. The trades haven't had the intended result with the Knicks going 14-14 and the Celtics going 16-12 since making their trades. However, I do believe that the Knicks will be a better than with Melo onboard. He is one of the best offensive players in the NBA and he has the ability to change a game. If he and Amare play to the best of their ability, the Knicks will have a chance to pull off an upset. Even then the Knicks will need their role players to step up. They will also need to improve to drastically improve on the defensive side as they gave up the 3rd most points in the regular season(105.7). Therefore, I have the Celtics winning this one.
Match-up to watch: Celtics SF Paul Pierce vs Knicks SF Carmelo Anthony
Celtics to win in 6 games

2. Miami Heat vs 7. Philadelphia 76ers -
The Miami Heat are the only team in the NBA with a top 5 offense and defense, they were 3rd in offense and 5th in defense in the regular season. In comparison, the 76ers were 17th in offense and 8th in defense. The Heat have three All-Stars in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. LeBron and Wade are two of the best players in the NBA. They can score in bunches and make big plays on defense. However, the key for the Heat will be Chris Bosh. How well he plays will determine how far Miami goes in the postseason. If they can get good performances from at least two of these three players, they will be able to get past the Sixers. Miami does have a lack of depth and a weakness at center. However, Philly does not have the pieces to exploit these weaknesses. These are two teams that finished the season in totally different directions, and I have to go with the team on form here.
Match-up to watch: Heat SF LeBron James vs 76ers SF Andre Iguodala
Heat to win in 5 games


1. San Antonio Spurs vs 8. Memphis Grizzlies - When you look at this series position by position, Spurs are better in every match-up except at power forward where I expect Grizz big man Zach Randolph to dominate his man DeJuan Blair. The Spurs had a fantastic regular season going 61-21. They have veteran leaders in Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili which gives them a big advantage against the Grizzlies who have never had a postseason win in their 16 years in the NBA. The Grizzlies dynamic small forward Rudy Gay will be sidelined after undergoing surgery on a dislocated left shoulder. He will be missed. San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich is 106-69 in the Playoffs compared to Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins who is 0-0. Memphis is a young team with so much potential and against the Spurs, who have been playing poorly lately(4-8 to finish the regular season), they may be able to surprise some people and play good basketball. All things considered, I am picking the Spurs in this one but I am predicting the Grizzlies to win some games and end their 12-game Playoff losing streak.
Match-up to watch: Spurs C Tim Duncan vs Grizzlies C Marc Gasol
Spurs to win in 6 games

4. Oklahoma City Thunder vs 5. Denver Nuggets - This series is probably going to be the most entertaining series in the 1st round. OKC finished the regular season with a record of 55-27. The Nuggets were 50-32. In their regular season series, the Thunder won three out of four games. For Oklahoma City to advance they will have to use their speed and put up big numbers. The Thunder have two players, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, that can take over a game and if they do just that, they will be very hard to stop. The Nuggets have been playing great basketball since trading away Carmelo Anthony. They are now have such great depth in their roster. They have numerous scoring threats who can take over any game. They are a great 3-point shooting team and they are played great fundamental basketball under the guidance of head coach George Karl. These are two of the most exciting, young teams in the association. Whoever wins this series will have a great chance of beating the Spurs(or the Grizzlies if they pull off a historic upset) and competing for the Western Conference title. I keep changing my mind as to what team will win in this series, one hour I have the Thunder winning and the next I'm picking the Nuggets. Right now though, I am predicting the Thunder to advance.
Match-up to watch: Thunder PG Russell Westbrook vs Nuggets PG Ty Lawson
Thunder to win in 7 games

3. Dallas Mavericks vs 6. Portland Trail Blazers - This promises to be another great series in what is shaping up to be a great NBA Playoffs with so many teams having a chance to go all the way. Since 2007, the Mavs have lost to the Golden State Warriors(8th seed) and San Antonio Spurs(7th seed) in the first round. They are susceptible to being upset again as they face Portland, a team that has fans even more rabid than the Warriors following. Dallas has a very talented team but this may be their last chance at a title run with their current crew as three of the starting five are aged over 32(Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki). Therefore, you can expect them to play with some passion and be on red alert to avoid another upset. That won't be as easy though against a Trail Blazers team that has a three time All-Star on the bench, Brandon Roy. If Portland's captain and star player LaMarcus Aldridge can outshine Mavs power forward Dirk Nowitzki and if the Blazers can stay healthy, Portland may advance to the conference semifinals but I just can't imagine the Mavericks being upset again.
Match-up to watch: Mavericks PF Dirk Nowitzki vs Trail Blazers PF LaMarcus Aldridge
Mavericks to win in 7 games

2. Los Angeles Lakers vs 7. New Orleans Hornets - A lot of people think the Lakers will cruise by the Hornets, after all the Lakers did sweep the Hornets 4-0 in their regular season meetings. Although, I do believe that LA will advance past the Hornets, I don't believe it will be as easy as people are predicting. Andrew Bynum, the Lakers center, hyperextended his right knee Tuesday against San Antonio, his MRI the next day revealed he simply has a bone bruise and should be ready to play in Game 1. Despite this, I don't believe he will be in his usual form for the first few games. This is a great news for Hornets fans as the Lakers have a big size advantage, especially with Hornets power forward David West being injured, and a healthy Bynum wouldn't make life any easier for New Orleans. For NOLA to win against LA, they will have to play up-tempo, full court basketball to utilise their speed and as with most teams trying to pull over an upset, their success will depend on their 3-point shooting. If Chris Paul plays like he did a few years ago and the Hornets shoot lights out from beyond the arc, they have a chance. Unfortunately for my readers in New Orleans, this is only a very slight chance against the Lakers in their quest for a three-peat.
Match-up to watch: Lakers PG Derek Fisher vs Hornets PG Chris Paul
Lakers to win in 6 games

Thats how I think the 1st Round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs will pan out. I have also decided to predict the results of the rest of the Playoffs. However, I won't analysis the games now as I will leave that until the 1st Round is in the books.

Conference Semifinals
Chicago Bulls to beat the Orlando Magic in 7 games
Miami Heat to beat the Boston Celtics in 6 games
Oklahoma City Thunder to beat the San Antonio Spurs in 6 games
Los Angeles Lakers to beat the Dallas Mavericks in 6 games

Conference Finals
Miami Heat to beat the Chicago Bulls in 7 games
Los Angeles Lakers to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in 6 games

Miami Heat to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in 6 games