In the NBA, it seems like no one can stop Miami right now. The Heat, trailing by 14 at halftime, came back to win against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden. With that win, the Miami Heat have now won 14 games straight and are 7 games ahead of everyone in the Eastern Conference. The big question for the Heat now is how long this winning streak will go. They play the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday in Minnesota, followed by the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers at home on Wednesday and Friday before they play the Indiana Pacers next Sunday night. It should be interesting to see how long the Heat can stay on this white hot winning streak.
Speaking of the Indiana Pacers, they have been playing very well as of late. They held on to outlast the Chicago Bulls at home Sunday. And while the New York Knicks have been struggling recently (4-6 in their last ten games), the Pacers have gone 8-3 over their last eleven games to take over possession of the second slot in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers are emerging as one of the teams that could potentially unseat the Heat this year in the East because of their physical play and their depth. But ultimately, the Pacers must get great play out of their big man, Roy Hibbert, to beat the Heat. He is the one guy the Heat have no answer for if he gets rolling in the paint. If these two end up meeting in the playoffs, it could be a knockdown, dragout fight to the finish.
Also on Sunday, the Oklahoma City Thunder headed to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers. The Thunder got out to a big lead and ultimately held on to win the game, but all that was secondary to what happened in the fourth quarter of the game. When positioning for a rebound, Thunder forward Serge Ibaka swung and connected with a low blow to Blake Griffin. The Clippers big man went sprawling to the floor after the below-the-belt hit and Ibaka was accessed a flagrant foul. In my opinion, Ibaka was very lucky that he was not thrown out of this game. And in terms of man-on-man violence, it’s known that you never hit a man in that area. Ibaka was lucky that Griffin was in too much pain to come back at him. Needless to say, because of his actions against Griffin, Ibaka will certainly be getting a call from the NBA and may be a little lighter in his pockets.
In the NFL, Joe Flacco just became the highest-paid player in NFL history. The Ravens quarterback will be signing a 6 year, $120.6 million contact with the Ravens, effectively making him the face of their franchise. After guiding the Ravens to the Super Bowl with his stellar play, it was a no-brainer that the Ravens were going to pay him. But to pay him like he is the best player in the NFL could come back to haunt the Ravens. They also have free agent linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, pass rush specialist Paul Kruger, safety Ed Reed and cornerback Cary WIlliams to decide upon this offseason. With limited funds available, expect most of these guys to don another team’s uniform next season. Also expect wide receiver Anquan Boldin to be approached about a pay cut. He could have to take a substantial paycut to stay with the Ravens and that may be something that he does not want to do. The Ravens won the championship last year, but one thing is for sure: the team will surely look different to begin the 2013 season.
Along with the new contracts being negotiated, the franchise tags have also started to be handed out by teams. And of all the franchise tag possibilities, the case of tight end Jared Cook has to be the most interesting one. Cook, the starting tight end for the Tennessee Titans, is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason. But he has said that if he is franchised by the Titans (which is what is expected to happen) he wants to be franchised as a wide receiver. The crazy thing about all of this is Cook has never played wide receiver in the NFL. He has alsways been considered a tight end since he was switched to that position in college at South Carolina. So what’s the reason for the switch? It’s all about the money. The money for a franchise wide receiver would be better for Cook than that of a tight end. It should be interesting to see if they even bother to place this designation on Cook after this statement.
Finally, in hockey, there is no team that is hotter than Chicago. The Blackhawks have scored a point in an NHL record 22 straight games to start the season. There is no coincidence that this team has been able to get things done to win games offensively. But what has been excellent for them has been their defense. Their goalie, Corey Crawford, has been a fortress at net and is top two in the NHL in goals allowed per attempt and save percentage. If you add that to what Patrick Kane is doing for this team, then you can see why this team has been so dominant. It ought to be fun to watch and see if they can carry this momentum all the way to the playoffs.
These are my thoughts and these are my words. Until next time……