With the Oklahoma City Thunder hanging on to the 8th and final playoff seed in the Western Conference it was announced that last seasons M.V.P. Kevin Durant will miss the rest of the season. Durant has missed large chunks of the year after having “Jones fracture” surgery back in October, and the latest operation will see him sidelined for another four-to-six months. Durant returned to action in early December, but by the middle of February he started to feel pain again, and had a minor procedure to replace a screw that was rubbing against another bone. Durant consulted with multiple specialist and the decision was made that he will have bone graft surgery. This surgery is needed in five to eight percent of Jones fracture surgeries that do not initially have success or experience setbacks sometime within the recovery period. This latest operation will see Durant sidelined for another 4 to 6 months. Durant’s 2014-15 season saw him play in 27 games averaging 25.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 4.1 APG while shooting 51% from the field and 40.3% from behind the 3-point line. Durant will be entering the final year of his contract next season and the Thunder will have a big decision to make. Oklahoma City will have a year to decide if Durant is a max contract player or if they’ll actually let him walk away as a free agent. The Thunder have given themselves a little bit of a lead for that 8th playoff spot. They are 3 games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans and 3 1/2 games ahead of the Phoenix Suns. Oklahoma City has 10 games left while the Pelicans have 9 games left and Phoenix has 8 games left in the regular season. In Durant’s absence Russell Westbrook has played at an M.V.P. type level, but going into the playoffs as the 8th seed the Thunder will match up with the Golden State Warriors. When there was a chance that Durant might return this season there was a lot of talk that the Thunder might ne able to upset the Warriors in the 1st round, but with just Westbrook what are the Thunder’s chances of that still happening. Is it time to start wondering that if your name isn’t LeBron James it’s a curse to win the M.V.P. award. Since 2008-09 James has won the M.V.P. award 4 times. Derrick Rose won the award in 2010-11 and Durant won it last season. Rose has pretty much had injury issues ever since and now Durant has a foot problem; just saying.
With Oklahoma City looking to have grabbed the last playoff spot in the Western conference teams can get ready for the playoff to start, but over in the Eastern conference there are 5 teams looking for those last 2 playoff spots. The Miami Heat gave the 7th playoff seed right now and the Boston Celtics are holding on to the 8th playoff seed. The Brooklyn Nets are 1/2 a game out of the 8th spot and 1 1/2 games out of the 7th spot. The Indiana Pacers are 1 game out of the 8th spot and 2 games out of the 7th spot and the Charlotte Hornets are still in the playoff hunt. The Hornets find themselves just 2 1/2 games out of the 7th spot and 1 1/2 games out of the 8th playoff spot. Even the Detroit Pistons haven’t officially been eliminated, but they are 4 games behind the Celtics and things would have to fall just right for the Pistons to find there way into the 8th seed. Do you think it would be better to finish 8th and play the Atlanta Hawks in the 1st round of the playoffs or finish 7th and draw the Cleveland Cavaliers in the opening playoff series?
On the Sports Time Radio podcast last night (Friday) we previewed to American League Central teams. We talked with Nick Dudukovich from FactoryofSadness.com about the Cleveland Indians upcoming 2015 season then Tony Fischer from DetroitJockCity.com came back on the podcast to preview the Detroit Tigers 2015 season. While both teams seem to have their everyday line ups ready to go both teams have pitching questions coming into the season. The Indians have Corey Kluber last seasons Cy Young award winner to anchor the starting rotation. Carlos Carrasco looks to be the #2 starter, but after that they’re filling the rotation with young talent. Trevor Bauer and lefty T.J. House look to be in the rotation and the last spot should come down to a choice between Josh Tomlin and Zach McAllister. Most experts had Danny Salazar penciled in as the 5th starter, but the Indians demoted him yesterday after a difficult spring. If Salazar can get righted quickly in the minors he’ll be back and in the rotation for Cleveland. The Tigers starting rotation is set and ready to go for the season. David Price gets the opening day start with Justin Verlander behind him. Verlander left his spring start yesterday, but it’s being reported that there are long injury concerns and he’ll be ready for his 1st start of the season. Anibal Sanchez is #3 with newcomers Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene filling the #4 and #5 spots. The Tigers have a good rotation the problem will be who makes a start if there’s an injury. The Tigers would look to 24 year old Kyle Lobstein or 23 year old Buck Farmer. While it looks like the Tigers are in a little better shape in the rotation the Indians may hold the advantage in the bullpen. Detroit is looking for Joe Nathan to return to the form that made him one of the games best closers. Nathan has a 5.79 ERA over 9 1/3rd spring training innings. How quickly would the Tigers turn to Joakim Soria if Nathan struggles early in the season. Or would they turn to Bruce Rondon. Rondon was considered in 2013, but had control issues. He’s only walked 2 guys in 6 1/3 rd innings this spring; so could he be the next in line to close games in Nathan has issues. The Indians bullpen and their roles look set to open the season. Cody Allen will close with Brian Shaw, Scott Atchison and lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski in front of him. Can these 3 relievers repeat their performances from last season and will the fact that they made a combined 223 appearances affect them at all. As both the Indians and the Tigers go into the season both of our guests last night had their teams right at the 91-92 win area; so will they both compete for the A.L. Central title?
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