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Trying to figure out the Pacers decline and about last night in the NBA

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At the beginning of the season, the Pacers looked to have a specific goal in mind: have the best record in the eastern conference so that when it comes time to play Miami in the playoffs, home court belongs to Indiana. I like the plan from the start. Try to have as much advantage over the Heat as possible when the inevitable rematch happened. As the season went on, things seemed to favor Indiana. Miami was facing some injury problems and fatigue seems to have brought their championship-level defense down a notch. But after a stellar first half the season, Indiana seems to have hit a rut that has no ending in sight. The Pacers appeared to have slowed down a bit just after the all-star break but the initial diagnosis was just a small slump. Then March came around and after turning things around (post 4 game losing streak), Indiana has lost 6 of their last 8 and have relinquished the top spot in the conference. Has Indiana essentially given the conference to Miami? Remember, the Heat haven’t been playing their best basketball as of late but still manage to have a better record than the Pacers heading into the homestretch. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s analyze the Indiana problem a bit. They were blown out by the scorching-hot Spurs last game but the two previous losses came against the Cavs and Wizards, two teams that they could very well see in the postseason. Where has the offense been for Indiana? I know defense is their staple but failing to break the 80-point barrier in three straight games is something college level teams struggle with, not an NBA team. Chemistry is clearly an issue as my multiple sources (still, just Twitter) have confirmed that the problem is most likely internally. And when a team is imploding from the inside out, it always hits rock bottom before they see any real daylight. Maybe this is rock bottom for Indiana. A home game against a bad Pistons team should be just what the Pacers need. Only four games until a big showdown in Miami that looks like it will decide the top seed in the conference.

Crucial action last night in the NBA. Unfortunately for Mavericks fans, like myself, around the country, it was not a good night of basketball. The Warriors were in Dallas to square off against the Mavericks in a massive game that had lots of implications in the lower half of the western conference playoff picture. Only a game and a half separated these two teams and within that margin, four different spots in the conference were affected. Stephen Curry’s go-ahead shot with .1 seconds left was heartbreaking for Dallas, but exhilarating for Golden State fans, as their team inches towards securing a playoff spot. I’m not going to sit here and complain about Jermaine O’neal and his obvious goal-tend just before that play. The referees were a bit spotty throughout the game and it was only a matter of time before a crucial call didn’t go in favor of the Mavericks. It’s just a shame that such a good game was influenced by such a crucial call. Honestly, it’s just a shame that one of the top 9 teams in the western conference is going to be out the playoffs. One team that won’t be missing out will be Brooklyn, clinching a playoff spot last night after an impressive win over the Rockets. It was nice present for their home fans after the franchise suffered such an abysmal start. Could Brooklyn make some real noise in an eastern conference where no team looks entirely impressive? I’m a bit skeptical but a big win over their crosstown rival Knicks would sway me a bit. Out in the west, the Blazers had a nice win over the Lakers. Portland seems to have turned their late-season slump around as of late. Winners of four straight, led by Aldrige and Lillard, as they head down the homestretch. If those two have it going on full cylinders as the season ends, i’d be careful if I were on the other side of it. Don’t forget how crucial their home court can be in the playoffs.

There are thirteen total games tonight so expect some fireworks.

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Ashley Roberts Looking Sexy At ‘Divergent’ Premiere in London

Divergent European Premiere

Ashley Roberts looked gorgeous as she worked the red carpet at the European premiere of Divergent held at the Odeon Leicester Square in London. For those of you missed our early post of the film’s star Shailene Woodely, check it here.

The film is based on the novel of the same name and stars, along with Shailene, Zoe Kravitz, Kate Winslet and Theo James, to name a few, in addition to Maggie. The film now playing in theaters and has done well domestically so far taking in just over $95 million. Visit Divergent for more info.

In a futuristic Chicago, people are divided into five distinct factions based on their personalities. Beatrice “Tris” Prior discovers that she is Divergent, meaning she does not fit into any one faction, and soon uncovers a sinister plot brewing in her seemingly perfect society. [Wiki]

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Today’s Top 3 Supermodel Instagrams

We’re starting the week with Adriana and Candice, so I’m sorry to say that it’s downhill from here…

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In defense of Johnny Manziel

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Every once in a while, the NFL gets a player entering the draft who causes more discussion than is necessary. This year there’s no doubt that Johnny Manziel “aka Johnny Football” from Texas a&m is that man this year. First of all, having the name of the sport in your nickname is absurd in itself. It adds even more unwarranted pressure to an already full slate like the one Manziel is facing. But it’s pressure that “Mr Football” has put upon himself with a side of pressure that has been completely manufactured by the media. Johnny Manziel was a football star, playing for a school in the most football-heavy state in the country while playing in the most important conference in college football. Let’s add to the fact that he’s the first ever freshman to win the Heisman trophy, the most prestigious award a player can receive in NCAA football. Add all that up and mix it with a personality like the one Manziel carries around with himself. What did the rest of the sports world expect to happen? Just imagine if every mistake one made at 19 and 20 years old (on and off the field) was magnified and your entire persona was based on those two years. That’s what Johnny Manziel is looking at right now. Like most scrutinized athletes in the past, doubters are just waiting to pounce on Manziel’s next mistake and in contrast, “super fans” are waiting for moments of brilliance so that they can say to “I told you so!” to those same doubters. It’s the tug-of-war that we’ve seen for decades now.

Right now it’s the “super fans” who have the upper hand after Manziel had an impressive NFL pro day yesterday. His workout style was a bit unorthodox, running his drills with full pads and a helmet on, but still effective. That’s something most players don’t usually do but then again, when has Johnny Football followed in other player’s footsteps in those kinds of things. I know EPSN’s comment section isn’t the mecca of sports knowledge and analysis, but check out the flurry of comments at the bottom of this article yesterday. Nothing controversial was written in the article but the reading the comments, one would assume that the writer was either calling Manziel the biggest bust of all time or the greatest quarterback to ever walk the field. And because ESPN can’t avoid being themselves, they threw in two comments about Manziel on Twitter by LeBron James and Michael Vick, two of the most talked about athletes from the past decade or so. What’s my sports opinion on Johnny Football’s pro day? He was impressive in just about everything that he did. He had to be because he had a large crowd watching him, a crowd that included a former president (H.W. Bush) to go along with various officials and at least 30 team representatives. With all this pressure and attention on one player, the biggest question is, of course, will Johnny Manziel live up to the hype when it comes to the next level?

Ultimately it’s impossible to say. Remember how impressive Jamarcus Russell was in his pro day? Or how unimpressive Tom Brady was before the draft? I admit, those are two of the biggest extremes that we’ve seen in the history of the league but either one is quite possible for Manziel. The general consensus is that “Mr Football” isn’t the best quarterback in the draft (I like Bridgewater personally) but despite being either being the 3rd or 4th best QB, he could very well be taken with the 1st overall pick in the NFL draft next month. It’s silly for a team not to take Jadaveon Clowney first overall but imagine if it’s Manziel to the Texans, a local hero that can completely change the fortunes of a franchise. But then Manziel does nothing and he eventually turns into this generation’s Ryan Leaf. Now imagine if he drops (also very likely) in the draft board. People start doubting whether he’ll be taken and then ends up falling to a team like the Cardinals. Or even the Browns, who have had the absolute worst luck when it comes to QBs. Imagine him changing THAT team’s fortunes. It’s a lot of speculation that seems irrelevant to talk about at this point. Here’s one thing that I know: wherever Johnny Manziel goes and whatever he does, at the very least, he’s going to be entertaining and will continue to be must-watch TV for all sports fans. So let’s calm down with all the accusations and opinions on him. All you can ask at this point is for Manziel to put in the work and (appear) to stay focused in the months before the draft happens. And right now, that’s what he seems to be doing so. I’m rooting for you Johnny Football.

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Film Review: “Noah”

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Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
Visit the film’s official website!

There’s a lot to like about the new film Noah … but the question remains, is it enough? For those who were expecting a reverential Biblical tale, this ain’t. For those who were expecting a left-wing blaspheme of Old Testament, this ain’t it either. So…what is it?

Being that it’s from the director of Black Swan you can rest assured that it plays like a hallucinogenic dream. You know the story, so I won’t bother repeating it; what you should know is that Aronofsky takes God’s messages to Noah and turns them into “hallucinations” – just as you were left guessing if Natalie Portman did, in fact, kill Mila Kunis in Black Swan, you’ll be left wondering if Noah really think he can build an arc, collect two of every animal on earth, and then sail to safet for 40 days … hoping to repopulate humanity through his temperamental and incest-friendly offspring.

The film does have its fair share of notable achievements –it’s remarkably pro-environment, if nothing else. The tale is more about loving and preserving the Earth than it is about fearing the wrath of God. As for the cast, Crowe is as gruff and tough as ever, so he’s adequate. Anthony Hopkins looks like something out of an 80s He-Man cartoon, Jennifer Connelly is criminally wasted in an insignificant role, and Emma Watson just about steals the show from right under everyone’s noses.

Worth a peek if you aren’t expecting too much.

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