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Bulls need three OTs to force Game 7

I’m exhausted.

So far, this Celtics/Bulls series has run six games; four went to overtime for a total of seven extra periods. It was the only playoff series ever to have three overtime games, and now that it’s gone to four, I’m starting to wonder if this is the best first round series in the history of the league. It’s certainly the best one that I can remember.

As a longtime Bucks fans, I found it hard at first to root for the Bulls, but I’m really starting to like this team. Joakim Noah plays with exceptional energy and passion, Kirk Hinrich does all the little things in the Chicago backcourt, John Salmons is an up-and-coming swingman, and Derrick Rose is one of the most dynamic players in the entire league.

There were so many great performances tonight. Salmons had 35 points, and broke down Paul Pierce every chance he had. Rose had 28 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and a huge block on Rajon Rondo’s go-ahead attempt in the waning seconds of the final overtime. Brad Miller bounced back from missing game-tying free throws (and nearly having his head removed from his body) in Game 5 to post 23 points, including two huge buckets — a three and a driving layup — at the end of regulation to bring the Bulls back from the dead. Noah had nine points and 15 rebounds, and had a monster steal that he turned into a three-point play (fouling Pierce out in the process) with less than a minute to go in the third overtime.

Ray Allen carried the Celtics for much of the game, finishing with 51 points on 18 for 32 shooting. Pierce and Rondo combined to shoot just 9 of 30 from the field, but Pierce made 11 free throws and Rondo dropped 19 dimes. The C’s wouldn’t have stayed in it without Glen Davis, who chipped in 23 points.

The series moves back to Boston for Game 7 on Saturday.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Looking at the NFL Draft with a fantasy eye

Fantasy football drafts won’t fire up in earnest for a few more months, but now that the real draft is over, it’s a good time to take a look at the rookie class and try to identify those players that have the best chance to make an impact in 2009.

At any position, a rookie’s value can be estimated with the following equation:

Value = Talent + Opportunity + Readiness

Talent is probably the tougher of the three to judge, but luckily we can leverage the work of those scouts and coaches who just put a ton of time into putting together their draft boards. A first rounder is probably a little better than a second rounder, a second rounder is probably a little better than a third rounder, and so on.

Opportunity is (usually) pretty obvious. If a team has a big hole at running back and they draft one in the first round, the chances are pretty good that he’ll be the team’s leading rusher by the end of the season.

Readiness has more to do with position than anything else. Year in and year out, running back is by far the easiest position for a rookie to excel. The big hurdle is pass blocking, so if they can get that down, they’ll see a lot of playing time. Just hand them the ball and let ‘em run. Rookie wide receivers have a tougher time finding success early on, but there are usually one or two guys each year who crack the top 30. Last year, it was Eddie Royal and Desean Jackson. In 2007, it was Dwayne Bowe. In 2006, it was Marques Colston. Larry Fitzgerald, Lee Evans and Michael Clayton thrived in 2004. The list goes on.

Generally speaking, very few tight ends and quarterbacks make a substantial fantasy impact in their rookie seasons. In 2008, Matt Ryan had the best season for a rookie QB in years, and he finished #16 amongst quarterbacks, making him only a decent backup in most fantasy leagues.

So it’s best to focus on the running backs and wide receivers. Here are a few guys to keep your eye on…

RUNNING BACKS

Knowshon Moreno looks to be the odds on favorite to lead all rookies in rushing, though the Denver backfield is crowded with Correll Buckhalter, LaMonth Jordan, Ryan Torain and Selvin Young fighting for carries. Still, the team burned a first round pick to get him, so they obviously plan to use him. He’s a great all around back and an underrated receiver…Chris “Beanie” Wells joins Tim Hightower in the Arizona backfield. Hightower seems to be more of a short-yardage guy, but don’t rule out the Cards utilizing a RBBC. Wells has had a few nagging injuries throughout his career, but he hasn’t missed much time. His competitiveness has been questioned, though he’s a superb natural runner…Shonn Greene isn’t explosive, but he runs hard and is a patient runner. He has Thomas Jones and Leon Washington ahead of him, but those are two guys that could be overtaken if he plays extremely well in the preseason…Bernard Scott is a sleeper in Cincinnati. Cedric Benson is the starter there and Chris Perry was just cut, so it’s feasible that Scott could overtake Benson if he falters, on or off the field. Scott is a good all around back from a small school (Abilene Christian) who could surprise some people…Most of the other guys drafted early on are going to situations where they’ll likely be unable to overtake the starter unless there’s an injury of some sort. Donald Brown (IND), LeSean McCoy (PHI) and Glen Coffee (SF) fall into this category.

Read the rest of this entry »

Blogging the Bloggers: Derby systems and the next Marcus Vick

- With the 2009 Kentucky Derby set to run this Saturday, THE LOVE OF SPORTS puts together a betting system that admittedly, probably won’t work. (But God love ‘em for trying.)

- THE BIG LEAD details the heartless act of the Baltimore Sun, who fired two writers who were in the middle of covering an Orioles’ game from the press box – and by phone, no less.

- SPORTSbyBROOKS.COM details the story of Angelo Hadley, a top football recruit for North Carolina who recently helped his brothers burglarize a 14-year old girl’s home while he had sex with her. Looks like young Angelo is on the Marcus Vick-plan of success.

- AWFUL ANNOUNCING has the lowdown on Jerome Bettis reportedly being out at NBC.

- YARDBARKER shares that Jose Canseco is set to fight in the professional MMA ‘Super Hulk’ tournament…whatever that is.

Torretta, Brown make 2009 College Football Hall of Fame Subdivision

The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame announced the 2009 College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision Class and former Heisman winners Gino Toerretta and Tim Brown made the list.

Tim BrownPLAYERS

•PERVIS ATKINS – HB, New Mexico State (1958-60)
•TIM BROWN – WR, Notre Dame (1984-87)
•CHUCK CECIL – DB, Arizona (1984-87)
•ED DYAS – FB, Auburn (1958-60)
•MAJOR HARRIS – QB, West Virginia (1987-89)
•GORDON HUDSON – TE, Brigham Young (1980- 83)
•WILLIAM LEWIS* – C, Harvard (1892-93)
•WOODROW LOWE – LB, Alabama (1972-75)
•KEN MARGERUM – WR, Stanford (1977-80)
•STEVE McMICHAEL – DT, Texas (1976-79)
•CHRIS SPIELMAN – LB, Ohio State (1984-87)
•LARRY STATION – LB, Iowa (1982-85)
•PAT SWILLING – DE, Georgia Tech (1982-85)
•GINO TORRETTA – QB, Miami (Fla.) (1989-92)
•CURT WARNER – RB, Penn State (1979-82)
•GRANT WISTROM – DE, Nebraska (1994-97)
* Selection from the FBS Veterans Committee, deceased

COACHES

•DICK MacPHERSON – 111-73-5 (.601) – Massachusetts (1971-77), Syracuse (1981-90)
•JOHN ROBINSON – 132-77-4 (.629) – Southern California (1976-82, 1993-97), Nevada-Las Vegas (1999-2004)

It’s always amazing to me that a guy like Torretta can put up such great numbers in college, yet never made it in the NFL. (Teams didn’t even consider him as a top pick despite passing for more than 3,000 yards during his Heisman-winning senior season.) But you see examples of it every year (this year’s was Graham Harrell of Texas Tech, who went undrafted), so I guess I shouldn’t be too amazed.

Good to see Pat Swilling on this list. The late Swilling was always fun to watch and I thought he was a little underrated as a player. You have to appreciate self-made players like Chris Spielman, too. Scouts said he was too small, yet he went on to appear in four Pro Bowls.

Rookie third round pick calls out Fred Smoot

Third round pick Kevin Barnes wasn’t even a Washington Redskin for more than 24 hours and already he was calling out veteran teammate Fred Smoot for being old.

But Smoot more than held his own in the media and lambasted the rook with a great comeback.

On Sunday, third-round draft choice Kevin Barnes said fellow cornerback Fred Smoot was “getting a little bit older.” Smoot, 30, responded to Barnes on Wednesday.

“They come in like that until they go to three days of [minicamp], and [then] they humble,” Smoot said. “It don’t bother me. I’m going to take him through some things. I haven’t seen the guy. I don’t even know his name, and I love football, so that tells you [something]. I know who’s going to get drafted where. I didn’t know the kid.”

Smoot’s reaction was freaking great. Barnes apparently didn’t get the memo about hazing in NFL training camps. Santana Moss is probably going to eat this kid for lunch. Welcome to the NFL rook!

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