published Monday, May 5th, 2014

5-at-10: Weekend wrap up and NFL draft contest where you can win stuff

NBA Playoffs

  • photo
    Brooklyn Nets' Joe Johnson, left, shoots over Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry (7) and during their Game 7 of the opening-round NBA basketball playoff series in Toronto, Sunday, May 4, 2014.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The basketball in the first round of these NBA playoffs was great in the West and subpar in the East.

The drama was superb. From Damien Lillard's epic game-winner for Portland to Paul Pierce's truthful defensive stand to get the Nets by the Raptors in Sunday's 104-103 Game 7.

Here's the next round and when they start:

Nets at Heat — Tuesday, 7 p.m. (TNT)

Wizards at Pacers — Tonight, 7 p.m. (TNT)

Blazers at Spurs — Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)

Clippers at Thunder — Monday, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)

The questions are clear for each series.

Can the Nets fluster LeBron? (No.)

Are the Pacers fixed after escaping the dreaded Hawks? (No.)

Are the Blazers spunky enough to top the experienced and deep Spurs? (Doubtful.)

Are the Clippers done with Sterling-gate and do they have an answer for Durant? (Most likely and no.)

———

Braves

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    San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford, right, hits a two-run home run against the Atlanta Braves during his baseball game Sunday in Atlanta.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Ouch. The Braves are reeling, losers of six straight and floundering at the plate.

The Braves scored one run in each of their three losses to the Giants over the weekend. To make matters worse, the Giants did not get a hit with a runner in scoring position and still managed to sweep the Braves.

The good: The pitching has still be pretty solid. The Giants hit a river of solo homers, but the margin of error is so fine and so slim, a solo homer feels like a grand slam against these Braves.

The bad: As bad as the bats have been as a whole, they have been even worse in clutch moments. The Braves are 13-for-102 (.127) with runners in scoring position and two outs — and Freddie Freeman is 5-for-8 in similar situations, so the rest of the bunch is even worse than that.

The Uggla: Wow. Welcome back Danny Struggla, we've missed you. Forget hits, Struggla now has more strikeouts (30) than total bases (28). After getting his average to a non-Struggla point of .232 on April 21, Struggla is 3-for-31 with 12 Ks. All three hits are singles.

———

Draft week

OK, the draft is this Thursday.

We love the draft. You know this.

So here's our draft plan: Best picks out there today; worst picks Tuesday, Team needs Wednesday, quarterback breakdown Thursdsay. Deal? Deal.

And before we get rolling, we are doing a Draft a Winning Entry Draft Contest. Send us who you think will be the No. 1 overall pick, who the Falcons will take No. 6, who the Titans will take No. 11, the number of SEC players taken in round 1, and what overall pick will Aaron Murray be.

Five items and you could win a pretty sweet Masters Tervis Tumbler and maybe a hodgepodge of TFP goodies. Deal? Deal.

We'll be back with our top five best picks.

———

This and that

— Major tip of the visor to J.B. Holmes, who had multiple brain surgeries in 2011, broke his ankle roller blading the following year and completed his career comeback with a win Sunday at Quail Hollow against a major-championship-type field. Good times.

  • photo
    Denny Hamlin (11) heads to the finish line during the NASCAR Aaron's 499 Sprint Cup series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway, Sunday, May 4, 2014, in Talladega, Ala. Hamlin won the race.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— Denny Hamlin became the eighth NASCAR driver to get a win in 10 events this year by rolling at the end of Sunday's sprint at Talladega. Another comeback story on a comeback Sunday — Hamlin missed most of last season with a broken back.

— Who says boxing's dead? Floyd Mayweather made a reported $32 million Saturday night with his win over some guy from somewhere. That's more than any single salary of any team-sport player in the U.S. this year.

— Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone, and want the perfect example of how 'Co-Colas' make every event better, how about Cinco de Mayo? A generation ago, no one knows what it is. Today, let's celebrate and pass the Dos Equis.

———

Today's question

Who won the weekend? Who lost the weekend?

There is a slew of stuff happening — it's all happening.

If we need to go one step further, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, what is your Rushmore of 5s? Can be anything from jersey numbers to Fab Five — Michigan or Fab 5 Freddie who was the first host of Yo MTV! Raps. Go.

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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WilliamRscott said...

Did Mark Guhne's Golf Mocs make the NCAAs?

Billy-In-Brainerd

May 5, 2014 at 10:15 a.m.
MocTastic said...

BIB, the seeds are being announced as I type this, its on the Golf Channel.

Will post updated when we learn, either way.

Uchiyama just tweeted: #UTC #Mocs are in the NCAA men's golf tournament. They're headed to the Eugene (Oregon) Regional.

May 5, 2014 at 10:21 a.m.
chas9 said...

Was Floyd Mayweather Andy's barber?

I have trouble calling them the BROOKLYN Nets. Can we call them the New York Nets? Reminds me of the messy Anaheim Angels at Los Angeles team.

The Learfield All-Sports Trophy standings have Stanford at the top (again). Florida is currently #3 and Kentucky is #14. Pigskin powers Gawga and Bama are #22 and #31. Auburn scratches at #39 and Tennessee straggles in at #54.

That makes The Vols 10th best in the SEC. But Donnie did sign a three-star forward. There's that.

Dave Clark 5, 5 easy pieces, 5 guys burgers, and the 5@10.

May 5, 2014 at 10:36 a.m.
MocTastic said...

http://t.co/wrUiCyuQqP

Chas9 , why are the NY Giants and NY Jets called NY when they are both in New Jersey?

May 5, 2014 at 10:39 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Great finish for Lillard and the Blazers the other night. Chandler Parsons must be kicking himself for being out of position ever so slightly on D on that final play. Lillard got a good first step to get around the double screen, but the pass came to him a little bit late. Parsons would have challenged the shot better had he followed his man (to 2 feet behind the arc) instead of following the 3-point arc. Parsons lunged at Lillard only after the ball left his hand, but it was too late by that point. Nothin' but net. Game (and series) over.

Rushmore of 5s...first thoughts...Fab 5, Hawaii Five-0, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, 5--USC Reggie Bush's number.

May 5, 2014 at 10:44 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, great call on J.B. Holmes. Guys will cut a shoulder or wrist or knee cut on. But dude had his skull cracked open twice so they could cut on his gray matter, and now he's good to go on the Tour for the next three years.

You know, I'm kinda over the draft. If I need to know what happened, I'll read it in the TFP.

And how much longer can the Braves continue to carry the gaping hole in the lineup that is Struggla? With the Uptons, at least you get speed and some outfield D. There won't be many takers for him, unless the Braves are willing to swallow a significant portion of his contract. But it's more apparent than ever that they have to do something.

May 5, 2014 at 11:10 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

Baseball: Brooks Robinson, George Brett, Johnny Bench, Joe DiMaggio.

Football: Paul Hornung, Donovon McNabb, Junior Seau [55].

Basketball: Dick VanArsdale, Jason Kidd.

Hockey: Boom Boom Geoffrion.

Billy-In-Brainerd

May 5, 2014 at 11:27 a.m.
jgreeson said...

BiB —

Yes, the golfing Mocs are in — last team in apparently.

And that's the biggest No. 5 Rushmore ever.

9er —

Yes, Donnie Knoxville added a three-star, which is much needed. Without a few more recruits, the Vols are a turned ankle and some foul trouble away from turning to Ollie.

And thanks for the Rushmore shoutout.

Spy —

We'd believe Struggla has until Memorial Day at the latest. After that, it's on Fredi G.

Stew —

That was such a money shot. Pure. Somewhere Chauncey Billups was smiling.

And Lillard and Aldridge is a very nice 1-2 combo.

And did anyone else notice how much better the Thunder looked in Game 7 with Westrbook taking only 16 shots. How about this stat: In the playoffs, the Thunder is now 18-4 when Westbrook takes fewer than 20 shots; they are 12-16 when he takes 20 or more.

Scott Brooks to the stat room, Scottie Brooks to the stat room please.

MT —

Great question.

Also in two years, we fully plan on calling them the Smyrna Braves. Seriously.

Where's the draft entries?

May 5, 2014 at 12:14 p.m.
chas9 said...

MT--Fair point.

Jay--Unfortunately for The Vols they added a 3-star at the position they'd already recruited a 3-star, so he won't be as much help as he could've been. Gotta start somewhere, but UT will need some 4-stars to play with the big boys.

And J. B. was a UK golfer.

May 5, 2014 at 12:41 p.m.
MocTastic said...

If the 3 star yall are talking about is Jabari McGhee, he is a reach for a SEC recruit. He was being recruited by mid majors and luckily for UTK was available when they lost their verbal commitments when Cuonzo was gonezo. I have heard Jabari is supposedly very good defensively, but strictly mid major on the offensive end of the court, and the 6-8 is probably much more 6-7 in reality. However, the adding of an inch to college basketball players is nothing new and you can probably subtract that much from pretty much every basketball player. I would venture to guess that McGhee is a fill-in for the roster and he will get recruited over next year.

May 5, 2014 at 12:47 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Good point on Westbrook, but to be fair to him, he had to take those extra shots during the series because KD was clearly struggling. Not sure if it was just a slump or just Tony Allen's peskiness (or some of both), but either way, someone else needed to step up, and I'm sure Westbrook was more than glad to.

Need more time before making draft predictions. What's the deadline for making picks?

Early question for the mailbag: I read an article in SI from this past week about the ever-increasing strikeout rate in MLB. The strikeout rate was at a relatively modest 16.5% in 2005, but it has risen every year since then to 20% today. Part of the issue is that pitchers have gotten better (40 threw an average of 93 MPH in 2002 (at least 50 innings pitched); 95 did it in 2013). Another issue is that bullpens are more specialized and the strikeout rate increases in the later innings as the fresh flamethrowers start hitting the mound. As a result, fewer balls are being put into play than before. What would be your preference of changes to make to help increase the action in the game again? Options may include reducing the strike zone, lowering the mound, moving the mound back, and/or reducing the number of pitchers allowed per game.

May 5, 2014 at 1:48 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Other reasons are that batters have a different mentality than in days of yore. They swing for the fences on all pitches. Batters were once literally taught to choke up and/or alter their swings once you got two strikes on you. You concentrated on just putting the ball into play once you got two strikes versus trying to drive the ball, but hey, chicks love the long ball. Now we have players striking out upwards of 200 times a season. Reggie Jackson struck out a total of 2597 times in his career. Based upon a 500 at bat season, that is five years of nothing but striking out the whole season every at bat. He did have 563 home runs. That is a ratio of 4.6 strikeouts per home run. Now lets look at what I consider possibly the best hitting stat in major league baseball history. Joe Dimaggio had 361 home runs (he lost three full seasons in the middle of his career due to military service), but he only struck out 369 times for a ratio of 1.02 strikeouts per home run. Yes, you can hit with power and not strike out alot.

This past weekend I saw Justin Upton taking a called third strike, the ball was on the inside edge of the plate, ie a strike, with runners on base, down by one, two outs in the ninth. I am sorry, but in that situation, you choke up a wee bit, and you guard the plate and put the ball into play. If it close enough to be called a strike, you must swing.

May 5, 2014 at 2:16 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Good points, MT. Agreed that Upton should have been swinging on that play. I don't watch very much baseball anymore for these reasons. The game could improve its watchability with more action and fewer unnecessary drags on the game. Part of it will mean hitters having a different mentality at the plate, but the other part of it may need to be rules changes to help facilitate the improvements needed.

May 5, 2014 at 2:40 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

No Jay, professional boxing isn't dead, but it does smell funny. Floyd and Manny are nearing the end of the line in their careers. Clearly Mayweather is still a big pay-per-view draw but for how long? When I heard the fight announcement my thought was: wait...Floyd is fighting Madonna? I didn't even know she was a fighter. And at this point even if the big Mayweather-Pacquiao fight does happen, I seriously doubt it ever will, it will not be the fight of the century, but rather a couple of guys scoring one last payday.

That pretty much leaves Andre Ward to carry the banner for pro boxing into the near future. Ward is a good fighter and won Olympic Gold for the U.S., that makes his resume for becoming the big name in boxing look stronger than the rest. However, big name fighters need big time fights. Who is Ward going to fight? A rematch with Carl Froch...I can't imagine that name is going to set the world on fire, but outside of switching weight class that would seem to be Andre's best option at this time.

Who could have guessed that turning boxing over to street hustlers and cretins like Don King and Bob Arum would not bode well for the sport into the foreseeable future?

May 5, 2014 at 2:47 p.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay-just saw the Green Eyeshade Award announcement. Congrats to Hargis. I spent 20 yrs in the ATL and the TFP sports page beats the AJC hands down in every category in my book. Keep up the good work.

May 5, 2014 at 8:20 p.m.
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