For the first half of the 1990s in the NFL, the NFC championship game was the defacto Super Bowl. Dallas and San Francisco (usually) played that game with everyone knowing full well they would crush whomever they met in the Super Bowl.
That’s pretty much how the FIBA World Championships will go.
If the USA and Spain go undefeated in group play — which is very likely — then they are set on a collision course for the semi-finals. The USA is in Group B, the Spanish in Group D.
That means teams that win groups A and C — which may well be Greece (Wednesday’s USA opponent) and Argentina — could be destined for the other semi-final. Those are two quality teams, but both considered a step down from the USA and Spain. (However, this is a one-and-done tournament after group play so they have a shot.)
The Greek federation expects multi-game suspensions to be handed down to Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Antonis Fotsis and Kostas Tsartsaris that will begin with the start of the World Championship in Turkey on Saturday, and they are keeping their fingers crossed that those players will be suspended for no more than two games, which would allow them to play in Greece’s third game of the tournament against Turkey…
Greece, which defeated Canada by 74 points, Russia by 38, Germany by 28 and Croatia by 9 in exhibition games prior to the fateful match against Serbia, feels it can defeat China and Puerto Rico in its first two games even without the soon-to-be-suspended players. But the third game against Turkey in front of a hostile crowd in the capital city of Ankara would be a toss-up if Greece has only nine players available.
Schortsanitis may get a suspension, but if I’m ever in a fight on the court I want him on my side. Really, any fight anywhere.
Hawks sign two-way Tyler Cavanaugh to standard contract
ATLANTA (AP) — Rookie forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who originally came to Atlanta on a two-way contract, has signed a multi-year deal with the Hawks.
Cavanaugh has averaged 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19 games, including one start, since signing the two-way contract on Nov. 5.
Cavanaugh, from Syracuse, New York, played two seasons at Wake Forest before transferring to George Washington, where he averaged 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds last season. He was selected the National Invitation Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2016 after leading the Colonials to the NIT title.
Carlos Boozer went from being known as a gritty second-rounder to an overpaid defensive liability.
In some ways, that’s the ultimate success story.
Now, after playing last season in China, he’s walking away.
Boozer on ESPN:
I’m officially retired.
The Cavaliers drafted Boozer with the No. 35 pick in the 2002. After he spent a couple productive seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs declined his cheap team option to make him a restricted free agent – with an agreement he’d re-sign at a reasonable rate if you ask them, with no handshake deal if you ask him.
Boozer bolted for the Jazz, who gave him a six-year, $68 million contract. He made a couple All-Star teams and helped Utah reach the conference finals.
The Bulls are 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned from an injury suffered when Bobby Portis punched him in the face during a preseason practice. Mirotic and Portis are both excelling individually, and Chicago has outscored opponents by a whopping 34.3 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.
When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, “We did on the floor. We’ve always spoken because we need to have good communication.” As for whether they’ve talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: “No.”
I guess Mirotic hasn’t completely moved on, though he said he did. But that’s fine. How could someone get past a teammate punching him in the face?
Importantly, this is becoming just a regular NBA problem. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented. But plenty of players have loathed teammates while making it work on the court. That happens more than people realize.
Mirotic and Portis can make this their status quo – at least the on-court cooperation. I’m not convinced Chicago will keep winning like this.
Watch Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ short film (video)