2014 NBA Playoffs Officially Set; 1st Round (Best of 7) Series Match-Ups

CBS ‘Eye On Basketball’ takes a closer look at the 1st round playoff match-ups as the NBA Playoffs begin this weekend: 


Western Conference:

San Antonio Spurs (1) vs. Dallas Mavericks (8)

Analysis: Just for old time’s sake, we’re getting a good old-fashioned Tim Duncan-Dirk Nowitzki duel in the playoffs. The Spurs are 4-2 in playoff series against the Mavericks in the Dirk-Duncan era with the Spurs winning the most recent series in 2010. We’re getting two of the best perimeter attack teams in the NBA, who execute with incredible precision.

The biggest key to this series will end up being how the Mavericks’ big men play. Dallas has trouble on the boards and they’re a pretty bad defensive unit in most creations they have with their lineups. Can anybody step up to right the interior ship for Dallas or will Duncan and Tiago Splitter have their way inside and in the series?

Oklahoma City Thunder (2) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7)

Analysis: After the Grizzlies announced their presence with authority on the playoff scene in 2011, they were outlasted by the Thunder in the second round of the playoffs in a pretty epic series. Last season, we got a rematch but this one was sans Russell Westbrook, which allowed the Grizzlies to take advantage of focusing on Kevin Durant defensively and making the rest of the team beat them.

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Connecticut Defeats Kentucky Capping Off A Surprising National Championship Run, Fueled By Senior Shabazz Napier

UCONN’s backcourt led by senior point guard Shabazz Napier too much for Kentucky, as Huskies win 4th title in past 15 years:

NCAA Men's Final Four - Championship

Via CBS Sports:

ARLINGTON, Texas — Coaches and players left them. Others told them to go away.

The guys who stuck around at Connecticut ended up with the last laugh and a pretty good prize to go with it: The national title.

Shabazz Napier turned in another all-court masterpiece Monday night to lift the Huskies to a 60-54 victory against Kentucky’s freshmen and bring home a championship hardly anyone saw coming.

“You’re looking at the hungry Huskies,” Napier told the crowd and TV audience as confetti rained down. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when you banned us.”

The senior guard had 22 points, six rebounds and three assists, and his partner in defensive lock-down, Ryan Boatright, finished with 14 points.

The victory comes only a short year after the Huskies were barred from March Madness because of grades problems. That stoked a fire no one could put out in 2014.

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Florida, Kentucky, Connecticut and Wisconsin Advance To The Final 4

NCAA March Madness: Looking at key story lines for each of the remaining 4 teams heading to Texas for the Final 4:

Via SI: Making the Final Four means that Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky and Wisconsin have eradicated most of the lingering doubts about them.

Still, there are a few questions worth asking about each of the participants at AT&T Stadium this weekend. So we’re asking them, four apiece for each Final Four contender, who are presented here in chronological order.

Connecticut Huskies

1. Can Shabazz Napier keep doing this?

Given that the senior guard led his team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals during the regular season and has then averaged 23.3 points per game during the NCAA tournament to date, the answer appears to be a resounding yes. Napier has faced stiff backcourt battles for three straight games, against Villanova, Iowa State and Michigan State, and been the best player on the court every time. Read the rest of this entry

Eagles Release DeSean Jackson Over Off-Field Acquaintances; Joins Redskins

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles and Coach Chip Kelly decide to release the team’s most explosive player over off-field concerns:


Via NFL.com: The Philadelphia Eagles announced Friday that DeSean Jackson was informed of his release.

Jackson will finish his six-year Eagles career with 356 receptions, 6,117 yards and 39 total touchdowns.

The end of the Jackson saga comes in the wake of a Friday morning NJ.com report claiming the Eagles have “serious concerns” about the wide receiver’s continued association with reputed Los Angeles street gang members tied to a pair of homicides.

The same report also questions Jackson’s attitude, work ethic, chemistry with coach Chip Kelly and penchant for missing team meetings to hang out with friends.

Jackson addressed the report through a statement obtained by NFL Media.

“First I would like to thank the Eagles organization, the Eagles fans and the city of Philadelphia for my time in Philly,” Jackson said. “I would also like to thank coach Andy Reid for bringing me in. Secondly, I would like to address the misleading and unfounded reports that my release has anything to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off of the field.”

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New Team President Phil Jackson Hired To Return The Knicks To Contenders

Legendary Coach Phil Jackson returns to the NBA to join the Knicks as new team president in charge of basketball operations:

Via The NY Times: The Knicks introduced Phil Jackson as their new president at a news conference Tuesday morning at Madison Square Garden, where he pledged to be fully committed to the organization and to the tenets of team basketball. He also said that the team had been hindered by a “lack of solidarity” in recent seasons and that he would work to build better relationships.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to do something that I love,” said Jackson, who won 11 N.B.A. championships as a coach with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, “and that’s be with a basketball team and hopefully create a team that loves each other and plays with each other.”

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NFL Free Agency Is Underway, Lots Of Big Name Players On The Move Early

2014 NFL Free Agency officially underway: Revis, Talib, Ware, Decker and Sproles all heading to new teams:

Via SI:  Declaring winners and losers in free agency is not unlike handing out draft grades in the immediate aftermath of that event  in that, both sets of reactions usually turn out to be at least 50-percent wrong.

We can only base opinions off what we know (or what we think we know) for the time being, though. Thus, the early stars and stumblers from NFL free agency:


• Tampa Bay … to a point: The Buccaneers’ first offseason under Lovie Smith and GM Jason Licht has started with a bang. They have secured no fewer than four impact players in DE Michael Johnson, OT Anthony Collins, CB Alterraun Verner and underrated DT Clinton McDonald. TE Brandon Myers should help, too, assuming he can fend off Tom Crabtree and 2013 surprise Tim Wright.

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Sixers Officially Retire Allen Iverson’s Jersey in Philadelphia Ceremony

Allen Iverson’s No.3 jersey officially retired by 76ers, remembered as one of Philly’s legendary athletes: 

PHILADELPHIA (Via the Associated Press) — Allen Iverson cupped his hand to his left ear and asked to hear his favorite tune one more time.

With that command, 20,000 roaring Philadelphia 76ers fans gave AI the standing ovation he earned by stamping himself as one of the franchise’s all-time greats.

Iverson, emotional as he thanked former teammates and friends, had his No. 3 retired at halftime of Saturday’s game against Washington.

High above the Wells Fargo Center court, Iverson’s banner slipped between Maurice Cheeks’ No. 10 and Charles Barkley’s No. 34.

“They all wanted me to talk about how much y’all loved me,” Iverson said, “but trust me, the feeling was mutual.”

Iverson officially retired in October after last playing in 2010. He won four scoring titles for the Sixers and was the 2001 MVP when he led them to the NBA Finals. He never won a championship, the lone omission in a career that is destined for the Hall of Fame.

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NBA: Kyrie Irving Wins Game MVP and Leads East All-Stars To Comeback Win In High Scoring All-Star Game

Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony lead the East All-Stars over the West in the highest scoring NBA All-Star game in history: 

Via Sports Illustrated:  Kyrie Irving took home MVP honors after leading the East to a come-from-behind 163-155 victory during a record-setting NBA All-Star Game at the Smoothie King Center on Sunday. The East’s victory snapped the West’s three-game winning streak.

The Cavaliers’ third-year point guard tallied a team-high 31 points and a game-high 14 assists to help the East make up an 18-point second-half deficit. Irving, 21, scored 24 points in the second half and 15 in the fourth quarter in his second career All-Star appearance and his first career All-Star start.

“There’s so many MVPs out there on that floor and to be named MVP among all those great stars is truly an honor,” Irving said. “It’s a blessing. I’m glad I get to bring it back to Cleveland.”

Irving, the 2011 No. 1 overall pick, becomes the second-youngest All-Star Game MVP in history, joining Heat forward LeBron James as the only players to win the award at age 21.  Read the rest of this entry

NFL: Seahawks Embarrass Peyton Manning’s Broncos in Super Bowl Route

Seattle’s defense shuts down Peyton Manning and Devner’s offense, bringing Super Bowl title to the Pacific Northwest:

The Seattle Seahawks’ mantra all season was to make each day a championship day.

They made Super Bowl Sunday the best day of all with one of the greatest performances in an NFL title game — sparked by a defense that ranks among the best ever.

The Seahawks won their first Super Bowl crown in overpowering fashion, punishing Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 43-8. That masterful defense, the NFL’s stingiest, never let the five-time MVP get going, disarming the highest-scoring offense in league history.

Seattle (16-3) was too quick, too physical and just too good for Denver, and that was true in all areas. What was hyped as a classic matchup between an unstoppable offense and a miserly defense turned into a rout.

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Kansas Freshman Joel Embiid Outshining Top NBA Prospect; Teammate Andrew Wiggins

CBS Sports Garry Parrish on the impact of Kansas freshman Joel Embiid who is emerging as the top 2014 NBA draft prospect:  

LAWRENCE, Kan. — It was clear in the preseason, if you spoke with anybody on the Kansas staff, that Bill Self and his assistants believed they had something special in Joel Embiid.

The freshman big was getting a fraction of the attention reserved for Andrew Wiggins.

But his so-called ceiling, they quietly insisted, was just as high.

Perhaps even higher.

I realized this for the first time in late September when I attended a KU practice while in town. I returned home still intrigued by Wiggins, of course, for all of the obvious reasons. But the lasting image from that trip was one of Embiid — alone on the court, perfecting post moves, smiling when his coaches instructed him to show me his Dream Shake.

Everything Embiid did seemed so natural.

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