For The Record Sports…This Week’s Takes Include NBA MVP Race, Bruins/Senators, Al Horford, and More!!!
By: Evan Matzner
Just a few weeks ago I wrote that despite the statistical output from Russell Westbrook and James Harden, that LeBron would get my MVP vote. I now must admit that I would change my vote for Russell Westbrook. While LeBron’s value to the Cavs should never be questioned, without Russ, the Thunder would arguably be the worst team in the entire league. With him, they are the 6th seed in the West. He is ranked 1st in the NBA in per game scoring, 3rd in assists, 10th in rebounds, and 11th in steals. Looking at Russ’s intangibles following the Durant departure only further solidifies what Westbrook has not only done for his team, but the entire city and Thunder fan base. There is no longer any argument. Please hand the man the award.
For my money, one of the many essentials for Bruins/Senators first round playoff series will be not to play from behind. In Boston’s four regular season losses to Ottawa this year, not once did they ever lead heading into the third period.
It’s never a good when I, as a Celtics fan, feel nervous about matching up against either Chicago or Indiana in the first round of the NBA playoffs. I can’t shake the feeling that both the Pacers and Bulls have a “switch” they can flip on for the playoffs, while the C’s have been operating at full throttle all season long.
Speaking of the NBA playoffs, my hope is that Al Horford will play more in the paint and become the inside scoring presence the Celtics need. Consider the fact that Horford shoots 70% from 0-3 feet, yet only 21% of his total shots are from this distance. Move Horford to the 3-10-foot range and he still shoots 47%, compared to 39% from 10-16 feet and 35% from 3-point range.
Call me crazy, but I would move Xander Bogaerts up in the batting order to try and get him better protection from some of the team’s better hitters, as opposed to hitting in front of Pablo Sandoval. Batting from the 3-spot, Xander has a career .324 average in just under 850 plate appearances, with 19 home runs and 116 RBI’s. In the batting order shift, Pedroia would stay leadoff followed by Benintendi, Boagerts, Hanley, Mookie, then Mitch Moreland.
Once the Malcolm Butler situation is settled, I would work on getting an extension for Nate Solder before the left tackle becomes an unrestricted free agent after the 2017-18 season. If the Pats can agree to terms with Solder, the entire o-line will essentially be locked up until 2019, with only center Dave Andrews as a restricted free agent after the season.
If you are looking for an NHL comparison of Charlie McAvoy, I’ve seen a few writers mention the LA Kings Drew Doughty, who when healthy can easily surpass 30 assists per season.
Don’t look now but Isaiah Thomas has the 14th highest selling jersey in the NBA. Not too shabby for the 60th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft.
So if I understand this right, the Red Sox were recently assessed by Forbes as the 3rd most valuable franchise in baseball at $2.3 billion, yet ownership wouldn’t spend on an above average bat to replace Big Papi in the lineup? For the record, the Red Sox were listed behind the Dodgers at $2.5B, and the Yankees at $3.4B.
Will win NBA Coach of the Year: Mike D’Antoni following a 13-win turnaround in Houston
Should win NBA Coach of the Year: Pop after the Spurs 20th consecutive post-season appearance, 20th consecutive winning season, and 18th season in a row to win more than 50 games. All this despite near career lows in points per game for Tony Parker (10.1 ppg – lowest since his rookie season of 9.2 ppg in 2001-02), and LaMarcus Aldridge (17.3 ppg – lowest since averaging 9.0 points per game in his rookie season of 2006-07) and still clinching the 2 seed in the Western Conference.
If you miss gambling on football and want to place a wager on a few long shots for the upcoming NBA/NHL playoffs, I would try the St. Louis Blues to win the Western Conference at 14-1 and the Houston Rockets to win the title at 30-1.
Photo: (Boston Globe)