published Thursday, June 6th, 2013

5-at-10: NBA Finals predictions, Braves' budding ace and summer viewing ideas

We have a ton to cover, so let's drop the formalities and do work.

From the "Talks too much" studios, please, Hammer, don't hurt 'em.

NBA preview

We're here, on the cusp of Game 1 of an intriguing NBA Finals between the Miami Heatles and the San Antonio Spurs.

Will this be the passing of the dynasty torch to the Heat or will it be the Spurs' final moment in the sun? Will it be LeBron's next big step into the pantheon of the elite or will it be another dent in the forged armor that is his career resume — a list of accomplishments that are platinum in prime numbers but paltry in terms of title parades? Will it be Tim Duncan's swan song, the Big Fundamental capping his career as the greatest power forward of all time whether we realized it or not?

The questions do not end there. Will this be the global coming out party for Tony Parker? Will this be Dwyane Wade's return to elite status? Will this be the time that Gregg Poppovich finally gets his due as arguably the best coach in all of team sports? (Side note: Popp may be the only person on the planet who hates the mid-game interview more than Nick Saban. Watch Doris Burke — who does as well as can be expected in that spot, by the way — ask Popp a question, and it could be something as profound and insightful as, "Coach, what's the meaning of life?" and Popp's answer will be one word. Seriously. Good stuff. Side note II: We hate the mid-game interview. This needs to go away sooner rather than later.)

So we're dealing with a lot of stuff. (Candlesticks always make a nice gift, maybe we can find out where she's registered... Let's get two.)

Here's a top-five checklist of the things we're looking for in this series:

1) Mr. James if you please. How will the Spurs defend the best player in the world. It will be a rotation of guys that will try to be physical with LeBron. But we don't see a whole lot of double teams from the Spurs, since James is the best-passing superstar since Magic and Bird.

2) Deter D-Wade: Also, expect the Spurs to be exceeding physical with Dwyane Wade.

3) Is Norris Cole the most important player in this series for Miami? Mario Chalmers will start at point guard, but Superintendent Chalmers will be replaced by Cole more frequently in these Finals because Chalmers can't keep up with Tony Parker. (In fact, if Chalmers is in the game, we can see James trying to slow Parker's speed with his length.) If Cole can keep Parker in check, then that negates the Spur's biggest edge. That's a monstrous 'if' of course.

4) Will Chris Bosh "turtle" (go into his shell when the moment matters) and/or will he let loose a barbaric yalp after a put-back basket? We say yes and yes, and each will be frustrating.

5) Can the Spurs win? Of course they can. But they will have to follow the Pacers' tact of playing big. If you allow the Heat to go small and let James play the 4 on defense and the point on offense with Bosh and Wade and two 3-point gunners around the perimeter, it's going to be tough. But if the Spurs can make this series hinge on Bosh and Birdman Andersen and whomever else inside — like the Pacers did for most of the Eastern Conference Finals — then this could be a dogfight. At least we hope it will be.

Prediction: We expect James to be excellent. He has been throughout the entire postseason. We expect the Heat to roll tonight — emotions are running high and the Spurs haven't played in like six weeks — which means the numbers are stacked against San Antonio, considering the Heat have not lost back-to-back games since Jan. 8 and 10 and are 10-0 straight-up and against the spread since then following a loss.

Miami in 6.

————

Braves' future

That was impressive. Julio "Down by the school yard" Teheran has been the Atlanta Braves' top pitching prospect for a few years.

  • photo
    Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran, 49, throws against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game in Atlanta.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

We're starting to see why.

Teheran took a no-hitter into the eighth Wednesday and finished his eight-inning, one-hit, 11-K masterpiece with a flourish. Teheran was hitting 94 mph on the gun in his final inning and — unlike Tommy Hanson — has the smooth, easy delivery of a guy that's going to be a round and be atop the Braves rotation for years to come.

Wednesday's 5-0 win was the personification of his promise and potential and the justification of the Braves holding on to him through a river of recent trade offers.

And he's only getting better. Teheran has provided a bevy of quality starts — you have to go to late April for his last start that did not last at least six innings, and you have to go to early April to find his last start in which he allowed more than three earned runs.

Good stuff. No, wait, great stuff.

(Side note: Rest easy Braves fans, Danny Uggla extended his strikeout streak to 12 consecutive games. Sadly, it's not his longest run of the season, since he struck out at least once in his first 14 games of 2013. He's on pace for an even 200 Ks.)

————

Game, set and quit

Did you see the high school tennis player who walked off the court after losing the first set in the New Hampshire state singles championship match? Yep, she walked off in protest because she was being heckled by the crowd. Yep, tennis heckling caused this girl to pack her rackets and hit the trail. The crowd — and don't know about New Hampshire, but having seen more than our fair share of high school sports, we've never seen a tennis crowd number higher than 50 or so — was heckling this girl because she lived in Massachusetts instead of New Hampshire, according to her parents. Huh?

Her parents called it bullying. PUH-lease. How is everything under the sun bullying now a days? You know what that does, it devalues real bullying. If you call everything bullying, then nothing is bullying. This is not bullying; this was barely teasing. And most of all, this is a part of sports — dealing with the pressure and the environment.

How did we get here? And we hate that it has come to this, but you know who is to blame? The girl's parents.

We loathe all the current psycho-rabble, blame it Mom or Dad that has consumed a modern science, given a generation of young people a ready-made excuse and forced an entire generation of parents to hug it out and make sure they have 250 "My kid is great" bumper stickers plastered on the back of the mini-van. We can't possibly make some sort of quality judgement of anyone's child-rearing, but where we can raise a question is how this tennis debacle unfolded, according to the newspaper reports.

How in the world do you let this girl walk off the court and quit? Over being heckled about where she lives? We're talking about a senior in high school, and what do we think her response will be the next time life presents a hurdle? Quitting? You can bet tour Massachusetts home on it.

We played a lot of sports growing up and spent endless spring and summer nights at ball parks across the metropolitan Smyrna area. Like most young kids we thought we'd pitch for the Dodgers or shoot jumpers for the Lakers. We never got that chance from sports but we have few regrets because we got about as much out of our ability as we good. And we're good with the trades we made with athletics.

Know what we did get though? We got the chance to learn how to win and lose and handle moderate success and what felt like world-ending failure. We got the chance to work for stuff and set goals and experience the benefits of practice.

We got life skills, and no where among them was, "Hey, when the going gets tough and the critics get loud, let's turtle-up, go into a shell and get in the Volvo and drive back to Massachusetts."

Said Sunday Swett, the new New Hampshire singles tennis champ who won the first set 6-4, to the Concord Monitor: “I thought it was a bathroom break and when everyone started cheering I thought it was more like, ‘First Set! Keep it going!’ And I was kind of like, thank you, but I’ve got to stay focused here. But she just picked up her stuff and left. I’ve played her before [including a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Leonard in the 2012 quarterfinals], and, not to be mean, but I know she has an attitude, and I was ready to put up with it. But this brought it to a whole new level.”

————

This and that

— Just saw this, but after three years away from the top spot Tiger Woods is back at No. 1. No, we're not talking about the world golf rankings, we're talking about Forbes' highest paid list. Yep, after climbing back to the pinnacle of golf, Woods made $78.1 million in the last 12 months (about 13 million from golf winnings), most of that coming from sponsors. Not so coincidentally, Nike's golf revenues rose 10 percent in the last year after three straight years of decline following Woods' 2009 Thanksgiving lass-than-Cleaveresque-family revelations. Maybe Nike's recent commerical was right — maybe winning does take care of everything.

— Here's Forbes' top 10, with what they make total and what they make in salary/winnings (numbers are in the millions of course):

1) Tiger Woods ($78.1/$13.1)

2) Roger Federer ($71.1/$6.5)

3) Kobe Bryant ($61.9/$27.9)

4) LeBron James ($59.8/$17.8)

5) Drew Brees ($51/$40) — Side note: Brees' new contract included a $37-million signing bonus that vaulted him here.

6) Aaron Rodgers ($49/$43) — Another big-time signing bonus lift

7) Phil Mickelson ($48.7/$4.7)

8) David Beckham ($47.2/$5.2)

9) Cristiano Ronaldo ($44/$23)

10) Lionel Messi ($41.3/$20.3)

Some serious cabbage, no?

— Talk about dual threats. Alabama football and Louisville men's basketball teams were national champs and among the 10 programs to win the top prize on their respective fields and in the class rooms, too. Each of those programs scored 978 or better on the 1,000-point APR scale.

— Tony Bosch, the head honcho at Biogenesis, the most recent PED saloon that has created a baseball buzz, is apparently willing to name names for MLB. Among those names are Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, who alleged that Bosch asked for six figures of hush money before coming clean to MLB. What's that old saying, if you lie with dogs you get up with PED-using dirt bags? It's something like that, any way.

———

Today's question

We messed around and had a lot going on, so as always feel free to free style as your style may be free (MCA, get on the mic my man).

Knock your self silly on any of the above topics:

• How do you see the Finals playing out?

• This side of Yu Darvish and Elvis Andrus, would the Braves trade the promise of Andrelton Simmons and/or Julio Teheran for anything out there right now?

• (Feel free to fill in the blank)

We also want to occasionally toss this out there: We will come across some serious slow TV sports stretches in the next couple of months. If you have rented a good OnDemand movie or are watching an interesting TV series, please share.

Last night, after getting the tots to the rack, we joined the Mrs. 5-at-10 for a movie night. We are unfamiliar with a lot of titles since if it's not animated, it's likely not on during the waking hours at the 5-at-10 compound.

So we were looking for some sort of comedy that we had not seen. We enjoy Jason Bateman's work — Arrested Development is top notch and some other things highlighted by his turn as Pepper Brooks in Dodgeball. So, long story short, we tried "Identity Theif" and it was worse than we could have possibly imagined. It was so bad, to call it dreck would to risk a libelous suit from the entire dreck family.

So if you have a random tip or positive recommendation about a recently released film, share.

Discuss and remember the mailbag.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
chas9 said...

Teheran reminds me of Otis Nixon. Hard to tell his age from his face.

I remember Spy revealing in this space his favorite pickup lines, so I assume he's looking for a lady. So how does a Florida multi-multi-millionaire sound, Spy? Yeah, she's 84, but you're no spring chicken. And older women are so grateful.

Yes, Jay, college football's around the corner. Vegas says Bama's a six-point fave over A&M in that great re-match that kicks off the CBS broadcast season. Who you taking?

On Nov. 9, do you watch LSU-Bama or Auburn -Tennessee?

And yes, kids today got too many participation trophies.

June 6, 2013 at 10:09 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Thanks for the reminder, and we meant to include this today but got rolling and forgot.

From friend of the show RJ Bell of Pregame.com, here are the early Vegas lines on some of the biggest college football games:

Aug. 31 (in Atlanta) — Alabama -17 vs. Virginia Tech

Sept. 14 — Alabama -6 at Texas A&M

Sept. 28 — LSU at Georgia -6; Wisconsin at Ohio St -11

Oct. 12 — Florida at LSU -4

Nov. 2 (Jacksonville) — Florida vs. Georgia -4

Nov. 9 — LSU at Alabama -11.5

Nov. 23 — Texas A&M at LSU -1

Nov. 30 — Florida St. at Florida -2; Ohio St. -6 at Michigan

Of those, and if we had to bet right now because we are going on a space exploration for the next eight months, we'll take Bama and lay the points in each of them. We'll take Georgia and lay the points in each of the. We'll take Ohio State and lay the points in each of them.

We are taking the favorite in every game listed above except Texas A&M at LSU (we'll take the Manziels) and FSU at Florida (we'll take the 'Noles, who by that time will be rolling on the strength of Jamies Winston). in fact, of all the bets on that board, Ohio State vs. Wisconsin and FSU over Florida may be the two best that do not involve Bama.

June 6, 2013 at 10:19 a.m.
John_Proctor said...

Master Jay:

You love the draft. We know this. May I shamelessly plug your co-worker Ward Gossett's very excellent column on the 91 draft and Kenny Henderson? Dreams don't always work out, especially when they clash with other folks' agendas, and Gossett's column tells the story in pitch perfect fashion. Well worth the reading time.

June 6, 2013 at 10:23 a.m.
jgreeson said...

JP —

We do love the draft, and you're 100-percent spot on.

Amazingly, Kenny Henderson was the fifth pick in that historic 1991 draft — four picks behind can't-miss-lefty Brien Taylor, who the Yankees picked and signed to a then-record seven-figure signing bonus.

The baseball draft was forever changed from then on.

And yes, Ward's story was very well-done. We'll pass that along.

June 6, 2013 at 10:26 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

So much for Louisville and SEC sports being academic disgraces, eh?

Movie picks: Django, though some may be turned off by the extreme violence..Sinister, a less is more horror tale, the best kind..and 42 should be out before too much longer. That's worth watching again.

SEC classic football games should be on the way, too.

We love the draft, even the MLB draft. I was surprised the number of local draft possibilities published this morning. Isn't it time to get Moc baseball started again and have some of this type of talent competing at a high level nationally?

If the Braves can keep their remaining pitchers healthy and get some back, ones that aren't out for the year, I don't see a need for any major trades. The strikeouts are tolerated when they're followed by homers.

June 6, 2013 at 10:33 a.m.
Livn4life said...

There is actually a final series beginning today? Oh yeah basketbal, I can barely spell NBA. Good luck to the...whomevers.

Walked off after the first set. She chose to do it and, like so much of our society today, politics and sports alike, blamed someone/something else. Why is anyone really surprised? Quitters never win and Winners never Quit, I heard somewhere.

Yeah good old Tiger, back up there. He wins, he gets the no. 1 ranking and rakes in all the money. I am not sure what this says about us as a nation. But Life-success is a whole lot more than making the most money or even making a whole lot when it comes right down to it. 4give, 4get 4k over the big Dough, TIGER IS BACK..growwwl!

Has anyone else suggested the NCAA investigate those APR scales which "weighed" the Alabama and Louisville athletes? I am sure not suggesting it NO SIR EEEEEE!

June 6, 2013 at 11:01 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Might consider a trade of Simmons and Teheran for a Mike Trout platter. You can probably forego a Strasburg/Harper package. As good as Strasburg is, is he starting to evoke equivalencies with Mark Prior? Maybe Simmons and Teheran for Buster Posey and Matt Cain. That I'd do.

The Braves didn't eschew the longball in the sweep of the Pirates, maybe their most impressive series of the season, but they did go deep a few times and they discovered there are other ways to score runs. They are going to need bullpen help down the road.

And this is why the Stanley Cup playoffs are compelling to watch. Yeah, I know, the puck is hard to follow on TV. But Gregory Campbell slides to block a shot and does so. And breaks his leg in the process. He can't even get back up to his one useful foot, but the play does not stop. There is no whistle. The refs don't throw up their arms and stop the action. Oh, no. He still has to find a way, on a broken leg, to try to help get the puck away from the Penguins, who were on a power play, so the Bruins were already a man down and did so for nearly a full minute before he could drag himself to the bench. He helped kill off a penalty in regulation on a broken leg and the Bruins won in double overtime.

June 6, 2013 at 11:50 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Ten Ring,

The Braves are not getting Yu or Elvis. This is not open for discussion. :P

I'm sure a full debate regarding Ms. "All-that" Tennis and the state of thick vs. thin skinned can be debated for hours and end-up generating a 30 for 30 on the subject. I do find it funny how "Yankee" states are just as ugly (if not full brutal) when it comes to interstate rivalies. I know from watching "Chasing Tail" on A&E before the cable went bye-bye people in Mass. and Connecticut consider Vermont to be the "Alabama" of New England states and "slam" the inhabitants as such.

Regardless, my hands are not clean on this issue. I have walked out in protest on at least a couple of open-mic sessions due to what I considered unnecessary heckling. My reason being at the time was "I'm here at my own reason on 'X' night to practice my new material and if ya'll are going to be a 'Richard' about it, I'll just go home and practice".

However, if I did what she did at an "actual showcase" (a bit bombed, some Middle eastern Richard-hole is having a "loud" conversation in the middle of my set [that actually happened once] etc.) I probably would not be allowed to perform at that showcase in the future and my name would be marked for other room hosts or club owners to not let me perform citing crass unprofessionalism.

I don't have kids (yet) but whatever this "new parenting" is that's going around, not only is it not working, it is counter-productive.

Regarding entertainment, thanks for the heads-up on Identity Theft. Right now, I haven't watched anything "new" aside from comic book/sci-fi X movie. Mainly because my entire day is focused work (extra hours if available), P90X + voluntary 1/2 mile jog, and open mic in room "X" (weekends are for sleeping in and doing housework). However, thanks to Hulu, I can watch any show I want (including classics) at any time. Right now, I'm watching "Defiance" simply because I like those type of shows.

If I come across something that might be remotely entertaining, I'll give you a buzz.

LB- as long as I can remember, people have been harping about "bring back Mocs baseball". I'm actually on the other side of the debate for two reasons 1) Title IX 2) after the "fad" of the "Return of Mocs baseball" wears off in two or three games, the average attendance will be 20-40, all senior citizens, all men on fixed incomes = another sport in the major red.

I'm sure there's a counterpoint somewhere but give the "pulse" of the city, I can easily imagine this outcome to be accurate.

June 6, 2013 at 12:19 p.m.
WilliamRscott said...

Chaos update [thanks Uchi]: Will Wade hires Brooks Savage as DBO. He was with Forbes + Shay at NW Fla...and all were with Pearl at UT. As a co-worker pointed out, it also gives the Mocs a place to send players at the JUCO level and a good recruiting pool. I like it...as long as they are careful with who they invite to BBQs...#GoMocs

Billy-In-Brainerd, UTC '82

June 6, 2013 at 1:48 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Nice preview of the Finals. I am picking the Heat in 7.

I am wondering if Coach Pop will use Tracy McGrady at some point. (This assumes that dude still has at least some game left.) If the Spurs go down 2-0 in the series, Pop will be looking for new solutions and if Leonard ends up being way overmatched against LeBron, maybe he'll put McGrady in to try his luck against LBJ. Otherwise, why in the world would the Spurs have signed him at the end of the season?

Totally agreed on your thoughts about the tennis quitter and today's society. Your comment on parents who are ready and willing to make excuses for their kids made me think of the cartoon in the link below that I saw a while back. My my, how times have changed.

http://www.caglecartoons.com/images/preview/%7Be4e28807-361d-44b2-8681-b42f76405d24%7D.gif

June 6, 2013 at 1:56 p.m.
chas9 said...

WRS-Stop shouting, please.

June 6, 2013 at 1:57 p.m.
WilliamRscott said...

I do not know where the bold font came from...not on my end...

June 6, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.
WilliamRscott said...

Do not start a comment with a ' # ' ... lesson learned

June 6, 2013 at 2:03 p.m.
Todd962 said...

I think my dad would have given me a tennis racket necklace before I was able to grab my bags to leave the court. Luckily the New Hampshire Girl's Tennis Runner up will only have the rest of her life to relive that boneheaded decision. I remember the shots I missed or balls I lost in the final we lost just as vividly as the trophy ceremonies for the ones we won. She is going to regret that one.

And what on Earth were the heckles they could have been offering that would have hurt bad enough to make you walk off. "Hey, youre gonna double fault, ya M@sshole!"

And if you want to hear about some legitimate heckling and inapproriate sports behavior, read ESPN's article about the soccer hazing going on in Italy. Out of control.

UTC should probably focus on the sports they already have and are mediocre in before they add any more, which is most of them. I cant see myself choosing UTC over the Lookouts when it comes to baseball. That choice may weigh heavily on the fact that I can enjoy copious amounts of cervezas at AT&T field and would not be given such priviledges inside any Mocs stadium.

June 6, 2013 at 2:57 p.m.
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