Cokin’s Corner, Monday 5/22/17

  • May 21, 2017

Shocking. That’s the apt one-word description for what took place on Sunday night in Cleveland as the Cavaliers were stunned by the Celtics.

This game appeared to be a foregone conclusion before it ever got started. The Cavs had done pretty much whatever they felt like doing in the first two games at Boston. The Celtics were limping into Cleveland having lost their best player to injury. It wasn’t a matter of if the Cavaliers would win, it was more about by how much.

Midway through the third quarter, the Cavaliers led by 21 and the only suspense figured to be for those who laid or took the points.

So what happened? I’m more than willing to give the Celtics full credit for refusing to wave the white flag and mailing in the rest of the game. But at the same time, the Cavaliers absolutely have to absorb blame for completely losing their focus and concentration and pretty much assuming the game was over.

In a sense, this was the classic example of what happens more in basketball than any other sport. I have no explanation as to why there seems to be some inability for teams to maintain their intensity level with big leads. You rarely see these melts in the NHL, and they’re infrequent in college and pro football. I guess I put baseball in a separate category because the game is simply configured differently, in that each play is one pitcher vs. one hitter and the collective set of conditions to effect a collapse really aren’t in place. But it’s almost commonplace for basketball teams to simply stop playing with big leads. Your guess is as good as mine as to why this is the case.

In any event, the 12-0 vs. 12-0 Warriors/Cavaliers final series is now down the drain. We”l find out in a couple nights whether the Cavs suddenly have reason to worry about the Celtics. I don’t think they should. But if the Cavaliers feel the same way, as they clearly did in Game Three, one never knows.

My Sunday was a baseball split and a half unit loss on the NBA game. I really missed the boat not going Penguins puck line in the NHL. Pittsburgh got a huge mental lift with the goalie change and completely dominated the Senators. Overall, this was a really good week for me, highlighted by the big score at the Preakness.

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Back to baseball for the Monday free play as an Interleague rivalry series gets started at Cincinnati.

INDIANS at REDS (Tomlin/Feldman)

Take: INDIANS -110

If you’re wondering about the difference between control and command, Cleveland righty Josh Tomlin might be the perfect illustration. Tomlin’s control has been impeccable. He has 32 K’s while issuing a mere four walks in his 40.2 innings of work. That’s about as good as it gets when it comes to control.

But Tomlin’s command is another story entirely. Yes, he’s throwing strikes, but they’re frequently getting hit and pretty hard to boot. There’s no question some of Tomlin’s misfortune en route to his ugly 2-5, 6.86 ledger is attributable to lousy luck on balls in play. But the fact is Tomlin might be throwing too many strikes for his own good.

Now that I’ve given Tomlin what amounts to a negative review, I’ll reverse field and explain why I’m backing him tonight against the Reds. Actually, I’m not really backing Tomlin, who worries me, but I do want the Indians in this spot.

Cleveland heads into Cincy riding high off a terrific weekend sweep at Houston. That’s in contrast to the Reds, who have hit the skids in a big way. The Reds have now lost eight of their last nine, and the only win was courtesy of a massive comeback on Saturday after fallen behind by five runs to the Rockies. Cincinnati was an early season surprise to some extent, but reality appears to have set in for what is one of the worst rotations in the majors.

Scott Feldman has held his own for the most part this season, but he’ll have his work cut out tonight against a Cleveland team that should be feeling great after the banner weekend at Houston. Tomlin is unreliable to be sure, but the team factors have me sold and I will back the Indians tonight.