Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thursday's Starting Five

1. The Phoenix Suns. If I told that you a game between the Suns and the Spurs, who were playing at home, was decided by defense in the 4th quarter then you would probably think that the Spurs won. Right? Wrong. Shaq keyed a dominant final stanza by the Suns as they knocked off San Antonio, 96-79, in what could be a playoff preview. Shaq and Nash each scored 8 in that decisive quarter as the Spurs only managed 11 against, drum-roll please, a sporadically (when Shaq is on the floor) formidable Suns defense.

2. The Washington Wizards. Agent Zero is back. Caron Butler is back. Antawn Jamison is living up to his potential in a mammoth contract year. All the pieces are falling into place as the playoffs loom. They hung another loss on the Celtics last night, becoming only the second team (along with the Magic) to win the season series with the C’s this year. Unlike the Magic, though, the Wiz pulled off this feat in a 4-game (rather than a 3-game) series. Right now the Wiz are in the 5-spot in the standings, which would pit them against the sputtering Lebronaliers in Round One. I have to think that’s exactly who they want to face right now. Cleveland has sent Washington fishing at the end of the last two seasons and this rivalry is budding. The two teams split four games this season and DeShawn Stevenson famously called LBJ overrated. Nothing like some animosity to spice up an otherwise dull Eastern Playoff race.

3. The Philadelphia 76ers. They don’t have a rejuvenated Shaq. They don’t have a returning Arenas. In fact, no one is really sure what they do have or how they keep beating teams. But, it hasn’t stopped the Sixers from shooting up the sixth spot in the East. They beat the Pistons last night (and, yes, the Pistons are already resting starters for long stretches) and, along with the Wizards, are putting a scare into the higher seeds in the (L)Eastern Conference. Right now, they face the Magic team that no one is talking about.

4. Dwight Howard. The star of the Magic team that isn’t getting nearly as much attention as its record should warrant notched is league-leading 67th double-double last night in a win over the Bulls. He’s got 67 double-doubles in 78 games so far. If you put him on the floor then there is an 86% chance that he will score at least 10 points and pull down at least ten rebounds. Meanwhile, Eddy Curry — who last year was competing with Howard to be the best young center in the East — has just two double-doubles all season long.

5. Golf. The Masters started today. It’s a big deal for people who are into Golf. It’s something that people are not into golf at least follow on Sunday. I’ll catch up with the rest of you on Sunday.

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