In Week 3 of the Around the Dorm playoffs, the “Ref,” Alex Wolfe challenges News Editor Hilarey Wojtowicz, Senior Editor Bobby Olivier and Editor-in-Chief Caroline Russomanno to answer questions about which NBA team is primed for a first-round upset, whether fans should be more concerned about Derek Jeter or Albert Pujols and if Randy Moss signing with the New York Jets is realistic.
1. It’s my favorite time of the year for sports — the NBA playoffs. There’s a lot of really intriguing first-round match-ups this year, with a lot of low seeds playing very well. Tell me your most likely first-round upset (either conference) and why.
HW: I think Portland has a good shot at upsetting Dallas first round. The Mavericks’ Rodrigue Beaubois has a sprained foot and is out right now. Instead, they’ll be using DeShawn Stevenson who hasn’t seen playoff action since he was with Washington three years ago. Plus, Tyson Chandler almost fouled out last game. His defense is needed for the Mavs to go anywhere in the playoffs, but if he gets one too many fouls on him, he’s done, and Dallas might suffer because of that. So, I say the Trail Blazers have a good shot at an upset early on.
BO: Not to be a homer, but I have reason to believe that the New York Knicks can upset the Boston Celtics in the first round. I know that they just lost to Boston by 10 on Friday, but other than that, the team has been hot over the last two weeks, winning seven of its last eight. The Celtics are beginning to realize how much they needed Kendrick Perkins’ presence under the basket, as they are only 15-12 since they dealt him to Oklahoma City. I am throwing the season series out the window, since we have seen that momentum is everything in the NBA playoffs, and with Amar’e Stoudemire giving Boston fits near the rim, Carmelo Anthony’s ability to cut through the lane and the Chauncey Billups’ flare for the dramatic, I think Madison Square Garden might actually have something to cheer about over the next few weeks. Plus, the Knicks are hungry. The Celtics are overstuffed with the “we should be here” attitude.
CR: In the Western Conference, I think the biggest upset will be pulled off by the Denver Nuggets over the Oklahoma City Thunder. While the Thunder have an average defense, the Nuggets were the highest-scoring team in the NBA. Kevin Durant is the Thunder’s big man, and their best scorer, but Kenyon Martin and Al Harrington will play a physical game and keep him from reaching his usual heights. When it comes down to it, the Thunder’s lack of defense will win the first round for the Nuggets.
AW: This is going to seem like favoritism, but Bobby gets 3 for making a very good case for the Knicks, especially mentioning Amar’e’s great matchup against the C’s. Hilarey gets 2 because Portland does have fit-giving matchups. Carrie gets 1 because Kendrick Perkins makes the Thunder D a lot better.
2. Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols are both struggling to start the season. Which player should hit the panic button, and which of their teams should be more worried?
HW: Jeter should hit that panic button as soon as possible. With five hits in his last three games, all have been grounders, and his skills in general are slipping away as he gets older. He’s been hitting singles and, even with an average of .255, he’s just not getting on those bases enough. Jeter’s in need of a tune-up, or this will be the last time he signs a contract.
BO: It is too early for either player to hit the panic button. I have watched Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia all get off to miserable starts in past years, and being professional players, they always manage to turn it around. Jeter and Albert Pujols have been two of the most consistent hitters over the past decade, and I doubt either is ready to burn his jersey and head for home. The season is less than 15 games in. Everyone calm down. That being said, the Cardinals should be more worried as their offense and victories revolve around Pujols. He gives Matt Holliday protection, and if he doesn’t hit, Holliday suffers (he struck out four times on Wednesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks … maybe a sign?). The Cards can’t rely on Lance Berkman to be their big bat — it just won’t last. Jeter has plenty around him to pick up the slack.
CR: The Cards have a lot more to worry about with Pujols not playing up to his usual standards. Pitching woes aside, the Yankees have had a good start this year (leading the AL East by two), and with players like Mark Teixeira (who’s had his first good start in his career) and the newly-acquired Russell Martin stepping up, the Yankees can wait while their captain gets used to his new swing. The Cards, on the other hand, rely on Pujols’ bat and without it, they’ve struggled so far this season. Guys like Colby Rasmus and David Freese can keep them going for only so long. But with the Yankees, once Tex and Martin slump, A-Rod, Swisher and Posada will come on strong. They have one of the deepest line-ups in the majors.
AW: Bobby gets the 3 because he addressed both parts of the question and the Cards do have a lot more to worry about. Carrie gets 2 for pointing out the Yanks’ depth. Hilarey, your Boston is showing — 1 for you.
3. I read recently that apparently the Jets might be interested in Randy Moss. Give me the likelihood on a scale of one to 10 that this ridiculousness actually happens (assuming that there is an NFL season next year).
HW: Randy Moss playing for the Jets? Hah! He’s not even happy playing for the Titans. Back in March he said he would love to play for Bill Belichick again if anything. I’d say there is a 30 percent chance, or a three on a scale of one to 10, that Moss will play for Rex Ryan and the Jets. The Jets lost two players at receiver after last season, so they are in need of someone with Moss’s skills, but I am hoping and praying that Moss returns home to where his heart is in New England.
BO: When I first read this, my initial reaction was, “Yeah, that’s about right.” It seems like the Jets show interest in any “misunderstood” superstar, and honestly, it has sort of worked out with Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. That being said, both of those guys, and X-factor Brad Smith are all free agents once the lockout lifts, and the Jets can’t afford to keep all of them. I’m going to give this a seven, as Rex Ryan has talked highly of Moss and even though he is a bit of a basket case, he is still a dangerous receiver, especially opposite Holmes and/or Edwards. This sounds like a “oh, look what the Jets are doing now,” move, but it doesn’t seem to be that unrealistic. Moss was on three teams last year — maybe New York will be his new home.
CR: Will Randy Moss always be a bargaining chip and constant traveller in the NFL? Probably, until he gets an attitude adjustment. This will not work. I’m going to rank the likelihood of this happening at a four (because stranger things have happened). But Moss and Rex Ryan working together? Ha. Don’t make me laugh. The Jets are a team that operates as a team with no huge egos getting in the way (Mark Sanchez is a pretty humble guy, after all), and Randy Moss will completely screw that up. Would he help them? Possibly. For about a year until he starts to hate it in the Meadowlands. This should not happen, and I don’t expect it to.
AW: Bobby gets the sweep for pointing out that the Jets have a good history with misguided receivers. Carrie gets 2 for pointing out that the Jets have a delicate locker room chemistry. Hilarey, I think you’re looking for an excuse to bust out the Moss jersey, thus 1 point again.