In this Week in Review, I’ll cover Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder, a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics, the Orlando Magic firing their head coach and general manager in a last ditch effort to keep Dwight Howard, and with the World Series of Poker starting today, I’ll look at the top storylines going into the event.
Spurs Outduel Thunder
Going into the 4th quarter, the Oklahoma City Thunder were up 9, but then they forgot how to play defense, allowing the San Antonio Spurs to score an astounding 39 in the quarter and ultimately losing to the Spurs by 3. Just as shocking was the fact that Kevin Durant only shot twice in the final quarter, missing both. Going into the game, the Spurs had the brilliant idea of saying that Russell Westbrook was the “head of the snake”, so you just knew that Westbrook was going to take more shots than Durant and sure enough he did, going 7-21 for 17 points while Durant went 8-19 for 27. I’ve made it known before that I’m not the greatest fan of Westbrook. Simply put, he wants to be the man when he clearly is not. Add that and the fact that Westbrook is going up against the best point guard in the game (sorry Chris Paul), Westbrook will want to show that he’s up to Parker’s level, which in Westbrook’s mind means shooting more shots that giving out assists (only with 5 during Game 1). Durant, reigning 3 time scoring champ, should not be taking 2 shots in 4th quarter. This will be a competitive series, but the Thunder’s chances of winning will all depend on who takes more shots, Westbrook or Durant.
Boston Celtics vs James & Wade… I mean Miami Heat
As much as I like the Philadelphia 76ers and their push to the conference finals, there was no way they would stand any chance against the Heat. The Celtics on the other hand, always seems to have their number during the season. The Celtics won 3 out of their 4 match ups against the Heat. But they better shoot better than they did against the 76ers, or they will stand no chance against the Heat, even if the Heat don’t have Chris Bosh, which is looking more and more likely. The Celtics have 3 advantages. They have Rajon Rondo, who’s always played well against the Heat. Without Bosh, Kevin Garnett should have a field day against the Heat front court, and he must be the focus of their offense. Finally they, have a better more experienced Head Coach in Doc Rivers, who will come with a game plan to stop the dynamic duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. But based on the Heats last three games against the Pacers, I don’t see how Wade and James can be stopped. We never really saw how Wade and James play together without Chris Bosh until he went down in Game 1 against the Pacers. They definitely weren’t clicking in Game 2 and especially in Game 3. But then the second quarter of Game 4 happened and they currently look unstoppable. It will be interesting to see what Boston has in mind to stop them and I believe it will be a close series, with the Heat winning in Six.
Last Magic Trick to Keep Howard
I briefly talked about this last week, but in a surprise to no one, the Orlando Magic fired head coach Stan Van Gundy, followed quickly by Otis Smith stepping down as General Manager. As soon as Van Gundy made those comments about Magic star Dwight Howard wanting him fired, everyone knew that he was going to be fired. Even though Howard will continue to deny it, it’s obvious that this move was made in one final attempt to keep Howard for the long term. But in a equally obvious move to everyone except Magic CEO Alex Martins, Howard still wants out of Orlando, leaving the Magic with no other choice but to trade him. They have talent, but their strategy of getting a bunch of 3 point shooters and one big guy will never work. If only the Magic decided to trade Howard one year and one back surgery ago.
Top 3 Storylines Going Into the WSOP
3: Will Tom Dwan Lose the Title of Best Poker Player Without a Bracelet?
There have been some great poker players who have yet to win a bracelet. Players like Andy Bloch and Patrick Antonius come to mind, but the first player I thought of when I came up with this question was Tom ‘Durrrr’ Dwan. Two years ago, Dwan was 2nd in a $1,500 No-Limit Event, one of his four cashes that year. In the 2011 WSOP, he had three more cashes, highlighted by his 5th place finish in $10,000 Horse Championship. The fact that so many fellow poker players put bracelet bets on him says all you need to know about the guy. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes a couple of final tables, and hopefully for Tom, he’ll finally get his bracelet.
2: Will Phil Ivey Show Up?
One of the major stories following the shut down of Full Tilt Poker, which Ivey was a key figure in, was his decision to sit out the whole 2011 World Series, a shocker to those who follow the game and a delight to those who feared of going head’s up against him. He sat out in protest of Full Tilt, who failed to reimburse any online players accounts. Since then, he’s won the 2012 Aussie Millions $250,000 Super High Roller. But it’s been over a year since ‘Black Friday’ and Full Tilt still hasn’t reimbursed any accounts, so will Ivey remain sitting out? Guess we’ll find out soon.
1: What Impact Will ‘Black Friday’ Have on Field Size?
One of the big questions going into last years’ WSOP main event was what kind of impact ‘Black Friday’ would have on the field? On April 15, 2011, the federal government shut down PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and Ultimate Bet, claiming that they violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. For those who thought this would lead to a major downswing in 2011 World Series Main Event, it didn’t. In fact, it was the 3rd highest main event field ever with 6,865 participants. But, it’s been more than a year since ‘Black Friday’, and I believe that while poker’s popularity won’t nose dive, I don’t think the fields will match last years.
Highlight of the Week