ONE: When I saw the email that landed in my inbox last night I almost froze: “Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut out with middle back pain”. Surely, after appearing injury free for most of the season and playing at an All-Star level, the Big Aussie hadn’t been struck down when it mattered most? Upon further investigation, it doesn’t appear that bad. Most reports say that the Bucks are hopeful Bogut will be ready for action tomorrow against Memphis.  Surely, if they’re hoping to have him back tomorrow this means it isn’t a reoccurrence of the stress fracture that kept him out for so long last season? But with back injuries you never know. Will be keeping an eye on this situation very closely. Hope you get back on the court ASAP Drew!

TWO: Gotta give everyone a heads up to check out weekly online TV show over at Inside the Game. For anyone that doesn’t already know about the show, it’s hosted by former Adelaide 36er Brett Maher and former 36er (and Denver Nugget) Kevin Brooks. Last week they started an NBA segment on the show featuring some of the better known NBA bloggers from Downunder, and I’m lucky enough to be participating on the show this Friday. Will post more details closer to the day, but in the meantime be sure to check out last’s week show (Episode 33).

On the topic of basketball TV, there is this great news that the NBL will be returning to free-to-air tele on One HD and Ten. Mookie has the scoop over at A Stern Warning (it’s worth it just for the Gaze-Copeland assist). The NBL still has a long way to go to capturing the droves of fans that packed out the Glass House and Melbourne Park fifteen years ago. But getting it on free-to-air TV in thousands of Aussie homes around the country is a massive step in the right direction.

THREE: I know I’ve been MIA lately, which may seem unforgivable as we wind towards the end of the regular season. Sometimes other things in life get in the way of my blogging, and this is definitely one of those times. The blogs won’t be coming as thick and fast as I’d like over the next couple of weeks, but trust me, I’ll be back in full swing when my playoff diary starts up again. Until then, here are my predictions on how things will end up:

  • Cavs will secure best record in the league. They have a nice soft schedule and the Lakers simply won’t catch them. For the record, the Cavs are now my #1 pick to win the title and have been for a couple of months now. I didn’t load up $50 on them back in January for nothing. The odds were $5.50 then. Now? I just checked Betfair and they were at $3.00.
  • Just when it looked like the Bucks will finish 5th and potentially face Boston in the first round, both teams have gone in opposite directions: Boston is arguably playing their best ball of the season, while the Bucks (and Bogut) are in a serious slump. What’s amusing is they’ll still end up facing each other in the first round as 3rd vs 6th. Lock it in.
  • Out West, what has seemed like a season-long Denver v Dallas battle for 2nd place may be overshadowed by the Utah Jazz – the Jazz have the easiest remaining schedule of those teams and should snatch the #2 seed. No one would have predicted that a couple of months ago.
  • There are just 4 games separating 2nd-7th out West and it’s almost impossible to predict how they’ll end up, but here’s my guess: 2-Utah, 3-Dallas, 4-Denver, 5-Phoenix, 6-San Antonio, 7-Oklahoma, 8-Portland.

FOUR: Loscy gets into pre-playoff mode with a must-read post for all Boston Fans. The Celtics are still a bit of an enigma for me. I’m a firm believer in that you cannot showcase your best basketball only in the playoffs. It has to emerge throughout the season, preferably later in the season, if only in patches. The Celtics best form was all the way back in late November when they put together an 11-game win streak. That was before KG was sidelined and seemed like a completely different team to the one we’re watching now. But I can’t help but think that despite their ups and downs, and despite most Celtics fans I know considering suicide over the past couple of months, that maybe… just maybe, Doc Rivers is an incredible genius who has timed his team’s run to perfection, heightening motivation at exactly the right point of the season, saving battered bodies to perform at their peak when it’s needed most. The Celtics are still only about 80% where they were at their 2008 peak. But there is zero doubt in my mind that percentage is going to rise. The question is, by how much?

FIVE: Nat over at Need4Sheed is not happy with the Pistons loss to the Nets, but tries to see the positives. I find myself in the exactly the same boat. It’s been a pretty tough season for Pistons fans – the toughest in over a decade. What makes it worse is the run of success we had for six years – Pistons fans of late just haven’t been equipped to deal with disappointment and mediocrity. Now I’m staring at the standings and only seeing four teams categorically worse than us, maybe three. It’s disheartening. But there are positives. The #1 is undoubtedly Jonas Jerebko, a tough no-frills player who epitomises everything about this blue-collar town. He’s made me even more convinced that we don’t need Tayshaun Prince anymore. Rodney Stuckey, while not developing at the rate we thought he would, has shown me enough this season to prove he’ll comfortably be a 20-5-5 guy soon enough. Jason Maxiell has been awesome over the past month – I’m struggling to think of a better 10-15 game patch he’s had in his entire careery. 10.6ppg and 9.5rpg on 52% shooting in only 30 minutes a game through March. It’s enough to comfort Pistons fans that Ben Wallace’s retirement (if it happens this season) won’t leave a gaping hole in the middle (yes, at 6-7 we’ve been playing him at center). Austin Daye has also shown glimpses of promise. Rookies with lean minutes don’t generally come off the bench and shoot 47% from the field.

There’s enough there to keep me optimistic about this team. But it will be weird come late April when I’m not seeing them in postseason action. The last time that happened seemed like a lifetime ago…

SIX: I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dwyane Wade look so uncoordinated than he does with a tennis racket. Wade vs Roddick. Check it.

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