Barry Zito

For What it’s Worth, the Schedule Favors the Warriors

With all the talk about how awesome the NBA’s Western Conference has been all season, it’s kind of funny to watch the two teams with the most at stake stumble to the finish.

The Warriors and the Nuggets have both lost three of their last five, but at least the Warriors have some sort of an excuse, falling on the road to Denver, Dallas and San Antonio. For the Nuggets, losing at Phoenix is understandable, but how did they lose both at home to the Kings and on the road to Seattle in double-overtime over the weekend?

Now, the schedule certainly favors the Warriors, who play four of their last five games at home. Three of the Nuggets’ last five games are on the road. If both teams win their games on Tuesday (Kings at Warriors, Nuggets at Clippers – probable wins, but no guarantee for either team at this stage), Thursday’s contest between the Nuggets and Warriors at Oracle (on TNT, and you know Charles is going to take a potshot or two at the Warriors) might get even more viewers around here than the Stanford/Tennessee Women’s NCAA Final. I know, I know, tough to imagine.

After Denver and Golden State battle it out against each other in what’s sure to be a defensive slugfest, the Nuggets have a much tougher road: at Utah on Saturday night and hosting the Rockets on Sunday before their home finale against Memphis. The Warriors don’t have another back-to-back to bother with this season, and their travel schedule is almost nonexistent. They get the Clippers at home, fly to Phoenix two nights later, then host Seattle on Wednesday to end the season.

On paper, it looks like the Warriors should be right back on their way to New Orleans in a week and a half, where they lost 108-96 today. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict they get in the playoffs by one game over Denver, after beating them 126-118 on Thursday.

– However, I also predicted that UCLA would win a National Championship this year, and they could barely score against Memphis yesterday in the Final Four Semifinal. Not only did UCLA ruin my chance to win money in an office pool (hypothetically speaking of course, since I don’t work in an office and gambling is wrong), they caused me to give one of the weakest votes of confidence I think I’ve ever given to anything in last Monday’s recap of my NCAA picks:

I think they’ll beat Memphis, because the Bruins have shown an ability to win both low scoring and high scoring games, and because they shoot their free throws better than the Tigers. Am I sure about this prediction? Uh, no.

In another prediction I’m not taking to any bank, sports book or girlfriend’s workplace office pool, I think Memphis beats Kansas in the final. Kansas is good, but this is the Tigers’ tourney.

– A prediction I’m a lot more sure of: Both Brandon Rush and Derrick Rose will be much better pros than Kevin Love or Tyler Hansbrough.

– Since I actually mentioned the Women’s NCAA Tournament earlier, I feel like this is safe to ask: is every good women’s college basketball player these days named Candace?

– Speaking of names, I used to write about youth sports for a Bay Area paper, and pretty much every kid between the ages of 10 and 13 is named Austin or Madison. Just warning you.

– This isn’t a statement on Tibet, Taiwan, or how the Houston Rockets suddenly got really good after Yao Ming broke his foot, but I really wish I could call in sick on Wednesday to watch the Olympic Torch go through San Francisco. Oh, except my Kevlar bodysuit is in the shop. Work it is!

– Barry Zito reached 84 MPH on a supposedly slow gun at Dodger Stadium, and hit 87 on a “fast” gun in Miller Park. Here’s the real question: will he give up more homers than the Giants hit this year?

– I know that last point sounded pretty Neg-Nannish, but here’s the tally: Zito’s given up three dongs, the Giants have hit two.

– Jake Peavy denied that a black substance on his hand was anything more than dirt and rosin during his complete game win over the Dodgers on Saturday. So Peavy throws 92 MPH on a bad day, won the Cy Young last year and feels the need to…forget to wash his hands (uh, right). Hey Mr. Zito, you’re making a lot of money. Isn’t it time you got your hands dirty?

– But Giants fans, it could be worse — the Detroit Tigers are 0-6. Who needs Miguel Cabrera, anyway? (Yeah!)

– I knew Sports Girl Liz’s call for the short-shorts was right up my mom’s alley. However, she was upset that SGL forgot to ask for today’s basketball players to sport long socks, which along with the hot-pants show the “good part” of basketball players’ legs. I don’t know what’s better, that my mom can still embarrass me or how obvious it is that the last time she watched basketball was when Michael Cooper was still getting heavy minutes with the Lakers.

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