The Pulse: NBA Game 6s and NHL awards

Updated: May 8, 2006, 5:22 PM ET
Friday, May 5

Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and offering opinions. We'll collect the daily highlights and create a running file throughout the week to measure The Pulse of SportsNation on a wide variety of issues. Check this page every day for an update of what the 'Nation is saying.

Friday's Big Questions

1. Who wins the NBA's Game 6 showdowns?
2. Who should win the NHL's postseason awards?


Are Parker and Duncan headed to Round 2?
The Suns staved off elimination Thursday night by winning Game 6 against the Lakers, and two other teams have a chance to prolong their postseason Friday night. The Wizards host the Cavaliers in Washington and defending champions the Spurs are in Sacramento with a chance to eliminate the Kings. How does SportsNation see things? Voters like both San Antonio and Cleveland to advance.

As for that Lakers-Suns series, SN likes Phoenix to come all the way back from a 3-1 deficit no matter what Kobe Bryant does. And despite the drama we've seen in L.A and the desert citizens of the 'Nation are nowhere near convinced this is the best series in memory.

  • How will the higher seeds fare in tonight's Game 6 matchups?
    43% Cavaliers and Spurs both win
    31% Only Spurs win
    15% Only Cavaliers win
    12% Cavaliers and Spurs both lose

  • What will happen in Saturday's Game 7 of the Lakers-Suns series?
    37% Kobe scores 40 or more; Lakers lose
    25% Kobe scores less than 40; Lakers lose
    22% Kobe scores less than 40; Lakers win
    16% Kobe scores 40 or more; Lakes win

  • 68% Lakers-Suns is not the best playoff series they can remember.

    Welcome back "Me-First-Kobe", we missed you. Sure we will be seeing you again in Game 7.
    Ted (Pittsburgh)

    What should we expect from LeBron tonight? The Cavs and Wiz have alternated wins so will the Wizards win or will LeBron and Co. come through? Being a Cleveland fan I really think that LeBron can play as good as he did last game and get the W for Cleveland.
    Brian (Ohio)

    Wizards need to keep the back-and-forth pace of this series going. Gilbert needs 35 and the Big Three need 70 again. The X-factor in this game is Caron Butler and/or Jared Jeffries fouling out. No one else can guard LeBron
    Nick (DC)

    Predicted Stud: No one is going to confuse me with a psychic, but Bonzi Wells with another monster game for the Kings win.
    Reggie (Orlando)

    As much as I want to Kings to win, I think the experience of the Spurs gives them the advantage in a closeout game, but it will be close because they have NO answer for Bonzi Wells.
    Charles (SuperBurgh)


    Does Thornton have Hart?
    The second round of the NHL playoffs is set to begin this weekend and eight teams will resume the chase for the Stanley Cup, but SportsNation has some thoughts on who will win the league's individual awards.

    Washington's Alexander Ovechkin is the runaway winner for the Calder Trophy (best rookie) with more than 70 percent of the vote and Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour gets 60 percent of the vote for the Selke (best defensive forward), but the rest of the major awards were a bit closer, including a virtual dead-heat for MVP.

  • Who should win the Hart Trophy (MVP)?
    47% Joe Thornton, Sharks
    46% Jaromir Jagr, Rangers
    7% Miikka Kiprusoff, Flames

  • Who should win the Vezina Trophy (best goalie)?
    46% Miikka Kiprusoff, Flames
    39% Martin Brodeur, Devils
    15% Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers

  • Who should win the Norris Trophy (best defenseman)?
    49% Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings
    41% Scott Niedermayer, Ducks
    10% Sergei Zubov, Stars

  • Who should win the Jack Adams Trophy (best coach)?
    45% Lindy Ruff, Sabres
    31% Peter Laviolette, Hurricanes
    24% Tom Renney, Rangers

    Stud: Hart trophy winner Joe Thornton.
    Josh (Boston)

    Joe Thorton, as he drives for the Cup. As a Bruins fan I would love nothing more than to see Joe win MVP and make it to the finals and stick it to Jeremy Jacobs big time!
    Frank (Springfield)

    Dud: Dan Shanoff for questioning Miikka Kiprusoff's Hart eligibility. Guy won 42 of Calgary's 46 games with the lowest GAA, 3rd best save percentage, and most shut outs on the team with the 3rd worst offense in the league.
    Ryan (Boston)

    Stud: Ho-hum, time for another Norris Trophy for Nick Lidstrom. But here's guessing it won't take away the sting of Detroit's collapse.
    Ryan (East Lansing, MI)

    As good as Sidney Crosby is and will continue to be, how can you not give the Calder to Ovechkin? Scored the best goal of the year with that falling-down-over-the-head-one-hand-on-the-stick stunner.
    Bill (Toronto)


    Thursday's Big Questions

    1. What's next in the NHL playoffs?
    2. What's next in the NBA playoffs?


    Will Jason Spezza's Senators advance?
    And you thought postseason brackets induced madness in March. The NHL playoffs are set to enter the second round, but none of the top four seeds in the Western Conference will be making the trip. After a rare upset sweep, fifth-seeded San Jose is now playing with home-ice advantage for the next two rounds. Things went the opposite way in the Eastern Conference, where all four top seeds advanced, setting up some heavyweight showdowns.

    So what does SportsNation make of the postseason on ice? The best series may involve the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres. It's unclear if the Senators will have Dominik Hasek in the series, perhaps explaining why voters are split down the middle.

  • 51% Ottawa Senators will beat Buffalo Sabres in second round.
  • 65% San Jose Sharks will beat Edmonton Oilers in second round.
  • 66% Colorado Avalanche will beat Anaheim Mighty Ducks in second round.
  • 78% New Jersey Devils will beat Carolina Hurricanes in second round.

    Jarome Iginla is getting paid like a top-flight NHL'er, and that means you need to produce in Game 7 at home.
    Andrew (Imrie)

    That goalie on the Ducks whose name I can't even begin to spell is a stud. A shutout in Game 7? Yikes. Sorry Flames, better luck next year.
    Vik (Fort Myers, Fla.)

    I suppose the fact that the 5-8 seeds all won show how meaningless the regular season is.
    Tom (Ohio)

    Bryzgalov of the Mighty Ducks stopped 86 of 89 shots in the series and becomes only the second or third rookie goalie to shut out an opponent in a Game 7.
    Neal (Philly)

    The Western duds, also known as the top four seeds, all lose in the first round. Is there any question that the playoffs are the REAL season?
    Andrew (Rhode Island)


    Does a title await LeBron?
    Maybe none of the teams facing elimination will need a last-second shot, like the Cavalier got from LeBron James in taking a 3-2 lead on the Wizards, but if it comes down to a final possession, SportsNation would rather give the ball to Phoenix's Steve Nash than Chicago's Ben Gordon or Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal. Maybe that perception of clutch explains why voters also think the Suns, playing on the road against the Lakers, are the best bet of the three teams to force a Game 7.

  • Which team is most likely to avoid elimination tonight?
    37% Phoenix Suns
    29% Chicago Bulls
    18% All three will lose
    16% Indiana Pacers

  • Rank 'Em: Who would you want with the ball and the game on the line?
    1. Kobe Bryant
    2. LeBron James
    3. Dwyane Wade
    4. Chauncey Billups
    5. Dirk Nowitzki
    6. Gilbert Arenas
    7. Steve Nash
    8. Vince Carter
    9. Tim Duncan
    10. Sam Cassell
    11. Ben Gordon
    12. Jermaine O'Neal

    LeBron is turning into Kobe right in front of our eyes. No, not because of the reason you all are thinking, but because he whines about every call that doesn't go his way. LeBron is one of the best in the game, but Michael Jordan never whined like that.
    Nick (Washington, D.C.)

    LeBron and Arenas are two great players. You knew that whoever had the ball last would win. I'd take LeBron for the first 39 minutes but I think Arenas is a little more clutch, so give me him the last minute.
    Kito (New Jersey)

    My analysis is that LeBron James has already made it to one of the top 50 of all time.
    Brandon (North Carolina)

    Where is Raja Bell when you need him to tackle LeBron?
    Erick (Virginia)

    LeBron is good enough without the refs giving him every call. There was no way he wasn't going to get "fouled" on that last play if he didn't make the bucket. Just like MJ, get 99 percent of the calls, complain about the other one percent.
    Reggie (Orlando)

    Arenas is sick. As an opposing fan, you end up screaming at your team for not bodying him up three feet behind the arc. Is there such a thing as a bad shot for him? I'd be scared of a half-court hook shot with both eyes closed until I saw it miss. He's definitely the most underrated scorer in the league.
    JT (Cleveland)


    Wednesday's Big Questions

    1. Will Raja Bell's foul spark a comeback for the Suns?
    2. Are the Cincinnati Reds for real?


    Kobe Bryant
    So much for soft. On the verge of elimination and falling victim to the same old criticisms about being to finesse for the physical reality of NBA playoff basketball, the Phoenix Suns rallied for a decisive win in Game 5 against the Los Angeles Lakers. And just in case anyone missed the toughness on display, Raja Bell added a stiff-arm takedown on Kobe Bryant for good measure.

    But were the Suns a little too tough for their own good? The Suns picked up some popular support in the series, but 62 percent of voters still pick the Lakers to advance, most in six games. Perhaps that's because 59 percent of voters think Bell, a key role player so far in the series, should be suspended for Game 6.

  • 59% Raja Bell should be suspended for his hard foul on Kobe Bryant.
  • 62% Kobe Bryant should not be suspended for elbowing Raja Bell.

    Check out what chatters had to say about the incident in Dan Shanoff's Morning Quickie chat:

    Considering the NBA will do whatever is in the best interest for the Lakers, they will suspend Raja Bell.
    Eric (Greensboro, N.C.)

    Raja Bell didn't even make a play on the ball; it was almost Sprewell-like around the neck. I have a feeling Kobe goes off in Game 6, one way or another. Either he'll have 10 assists or 50 points.
    Vik (Fort Myers, Fla.)

    Bell's hard foul definitely ticked Kobe off. He will now bury the Suns in Game 6. If you don't suspend Reggie Evans for that gross display, I feel weird saying suspend Bell, even though I think you should.
    Chris (Connecticut)

    Do you really think Kobe's ego is going to let the Suns and Raja Bell get the best of him? He's going to drop at least 50 in Game 6 and the Lakers will be playing the Clips in two weeks, or whenever the second round starts.
    Jon (Malvern)

    The Suns had to have that attitude; it's win or go home. I definitely give the Lakers the advantage in Game 6 since it's at home, and the Suns probably won't have Raja.
    Jim (Detroit)

    If Kobe starts to go wild, that's basically that's what the Suns game-planned for and wanted anyway. That'll take the Lakers out of their game and play right into the hands of the Suns.
    Chris (Boston)

    Raja Bell should not be suspended. It was a cheap shot, but he had been elbowed several times and it wasn't like it was unprovoked. Did you ever think maybe the Suns want to set Kobe off, and get him mad so he reverts back to his regular-season, gunning self? Because the team-player Kobe is killing the Suns this series.
    DC (Altoona, Pa.)


    Can Arroyo win 20?
    The best team in baseball won again on Tuesday, which might come as a surprise to many, considering the Yankees and Red Sox were rained out, and the White Sox and Cardinals both lost. But it's the Cincinnati Reds on top of the baseball pecking order, at least when judged by the current standings, after beating Albert Pujols and the Cardinals to improve to 19-8.

    It's a great start for a team few expected to contend, especially consider Ken Griffey Jr. has been again slowed by injuries. But SportsNation voters aren't so sure it will last, with a heavy majority voting against the Reds ultimately making the playoffs.

    And as for the Detroit Tigers, baseball's other surprise starter? Voters think the AL East is more likely to produce the wild card, so the Tigers have their work cut out for them.

  • 64% The Reds will not make the playoffs this season.
  • 56% The Cardinals will win the NL Central.
  • 77% Either the Reds or Tigers have been baseball's biggest surprise this season.
  • 60% The AL wild card will not come from the AL Central.

    At this time last year, Baltimore was the Reds. The Nats held on until after the All-Star break. There is no point in making these kinda comments about the Reds being contenders until mid-to-late July.
    Ephraim (Maple Shade, N.J.)

    Being in Dayton, I've seen the Reds play a bunch. They are a fun team to watch, but unless Bronson Arroyo can go 20-5 or something, I cannot see this team having enough pitching to contend with the Cards long term. I don't think they will have an Orioles-esque fade, but they are not quite this good.
    Jeff (Dayton)

    Cincinnati is having a hot start. It is tough to argue against them without Griffey in the lineup, but the pitching will cave in and the Cards and Astros will flex their bigger muscles throughout the season.
    Nick (Washington, D.C.)

    Cincinnati's hot start will fade like the O's last season. I love Bronson Arroyo like a brother, but this guy won't continue to throw like he has in that band box. Plus, when Milton comes back, he'll give up 30-something HR's. It'll come crashing down.
    Chris (Connecticut)

    The Reds will fade. Can Arroyo carry a team all season long? Absolutely not. Even the best pitchers (which he is not) will eventually lose a game.
    Andrew (Rhode Island)

    The Reds are for real. They have Bronson Arroyo, who is the key at 5-0. The NL hitters haven't seen that nasty slider, and they are doing most of this without Junior.
    Devlin (Minnesota)


    Tuesday's Big Questions

    1. Just how disappointing are the Detroit Red Wings?
    2. Should the NFL let Reggie Bush wear No. 5?
    3. Is John Daly getting enough help?


    Is it the end for Stevie Y?
    The Detroit Red Wings continued their recent history of playoff disappointment with a 4-3 loss to Edmonton on Monday, a loss that gave the Oilers a 4-2 win in the series and opened up a series of questions for a Red Wings team that led the league with 124 points this season but is out in the first round for the third straight time.

    All but a small percentage of SportsNation predicted the Wings would get by the Oilers in the first round, and in a preseason poll Detroit was the 'Nation's second-favorite pick among the 30 teams vying for the Stanley Cup. The biggest question for the Red Wings is whether captain Steve Yzerman -- who has worn the 'C' in Detroit for an NHL-record 20 seasons -- has played his final game after struggling with injury in recent seasons. SportsNation thinks so.

  • 87% Thought Detroit would beat Edmonton in the first round.
  • 74% Believe we've seen the last of Steve Yzerman in the NHL.

    Check out what chatters had to say about the draft in Dan Shanoff's Morning Quickie chat:

    Since last night's game was probably his last, farewell to Steve Yzerman. One of the classiest athletes, ever.
    Jim (NJ)

    Stud: Steve Yzerman for stepping up at 40 years of age while the rest of his team wilted. Best captain in sports. Will be missed.
    Geoff (Detroit)

    I would normally be really upset that the Wings lost in the first round. But really the NHL is dead to me at this point I think. Although I would like to take a moment to say that the NHL will miss Steve Yzerman, should he choose to retire now. He was the Wings best player last night. It's a shame.
    Ryan (East Lansing, MI)

    Detroit Red Wings, meet the Indianapolis Colts.
    Bill (Detroit)

    Dud: Detroit. I just don't understand how they can dominate so much in the regular season and always run out of gas in the playoffs. You can't call them the "Colts of the NHL" since they've actually won titles, but the Wings are just too old.
    Tom (Las Vegas)


    Will that jersey be No. 5?
    Meanwhile, Reggie Bush and John Daly are calling their accountants for very different reasons. Bush is in line for a big payday from New Orleans and Reebok has already received 15,000 orders for Bush's new Saints jersey, even though the number that will be on the back is still a mystery.

    Bush has petitioned the league to allow him to keep the No. 5 jersey he wore in college, which he would be ineligible to wear under the NFL's uniform policy. Hurting his case is the fact that established star Edgerrin James had the very same request turned down in 2004 but if it were up to SportsNation, Bush would wear No. 5.

    As for Daly, things are a bit more bleak. In his upcoming autobiography the long-hitting Day -- who has dealt with alcoholism and is a fan favorite for his regular-guy attitude -- reveals he is $50-60 million in debt because of a gambling problem and may be headed for "ruin". PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is saying the right things and SN thinks the Tour is doing all it can since Daly isn't breaking the law.

  • 67% Reggie Bush should be allowed to wear No. 5 for the Saints.
  • 82% The PGA shouldn't be involved with Daly since he hasn't done anything illegal.

    Let Bush wear whatever number he wants. Hes going to have one of the highest-selling jerseys this year and the NFL cant possibly turn down all that $$$.
    Alex (Atlanta)

    Let the kid wear No. 5. End of story.
    Chris (CT)

    I think that the NFL should let any player wear whatever number they want. It is a stupid rule and if fits the No Fun League.
    Dan (Baseball Heaven)

    Why should they change the rule for Reggie Bush? Remember, he still hasn't done anything in the NFL.
    Erick (VA)

    So John Daly says his gambling problem which caused him to lose $50 million COULD ruin his life? COULD? Does anyone else see a problem here?
    Jake (VA Beach)

    Its a sad case. Daly needs help bad. Hopefully this book will help him get some.
    Dom (New York)


    Monday's Big Questions

    1. Which teams aced the NFL draft?
    2. Are Kobe Bryant and the Lakers for real?


    Is Leinart the answer in the desert?
    If only we had all studied this much when we were on the other end of the grades. The NFL draft is in the books after a busy weekend in New York, and that means it's time for that ever-popular hobby: second-guessing.

    SportsNation spent the weeks and months leading up to the selection special engrossed in preview material, learning how to distinguish a Brodrick Bunkley from a Haloti Ngata. And with all that knowledge still bouncing around the brain, it finds an outlet in assessing how the real general managers did with their time on the clock over the weekend.

    And like everyone's favorite teacher in high school, it turns out SportsNation isn't an especially tough grader. All in all, voters handed out A's to 11 teams. But only one team can be the valedictorian of this year's draft, and the honor goes to the Arizona Cardinals.

  • 57% Reggie Bush will rush for more yards than Deuce McAllister next season.
  • 55% Texans made a "Texas-sized blunder" in picking Mario Williams instead of Bush

  • Which teams earned an A from SportsNation?
    83% Arizona Cardinals
    71% New Orleans Saints
    71% San Francisco 49ers
    66% Tennessee Titans
    63% Philadelphia Eagles
    62% Denver Broncos
    54% New York Jets
    50% New England Patriots
    45% Carolina Panthers
    38% Pittsburgh Steelers
    32% Atlanta Falcons

  • Which teams earned an F from SportsNation?
    55% Buffalo Bills
    33% Houston Texans
    32% Washington Redskins

    Check out what chatters had to say about the draft in Dan Shanoff's Morning Quickie chat:

    The Houston Texans are winners. They didn't bow down to pressure to pick a guy that can only touch the ball 10-15 times a game and has the future of Ki-Jana Carter ahead of him. Way to stand up and make the right pick.
    Phil (Cleveland)

    The Jets didn't put the franchise in a deeper hole by trading up for Bush or drafting Leinart. instead, they're building the line for Brady Quinn. It would have been awesome if they kept the early second-round pick and got Winston Justice, though.
    Jon (Malvern)

    I'm really surprised to see how far Brodie Croyle fell. That kid is going to be a stud. A year or two under Trent Green and this kid is going to be great.
    John (Virginia)

    I absolutely love what the Eagles did on Saturday. At pick No. 14, we wanted either Winston Justice or Brodrick Bunkley, and we ended up with both of them. Not to mention Jeremy Bloom late and Max Jean-Gilles, who dropped. We got four potential starters out of this draft, and I couldn't be happier.
    Josh (Philadelphia)

    Groomed for a year or two, playing in a new stadium, handing the ball to Edge and tossing it to Fitz and Boldin, Matt Leinart did fine. Sure he lost out on money, but I have a feeling he'll collect that lost money in a few years.
    Tom (Las Vegas)

    Not to steal the analysis of the draft, but it's a point we all know: The Bills didn't understand the value of the picks. They could have traded down to still get Whitner, and they traded up for McCargo when they probably could have sat there and had him fall to them.
    Jake (Virginia Beach)

    Although I'm semi-intrigued by Ernie Sims, I'm gonna say (of course) Millen and the Lions were losers, because they handcuffed themselves by already signing two QB's, so they had no leverage to bluff at No. 9 when Leinart was there. Teams knew they weren't taking a QB, even though they tried to act like they would.
    Mike (Detroit)


    Is Kobe taking control?
    Just like a certain shooting guard before him, Kobe Bryant is letting his postseason performance do his talking. Bryant hit the game-winner in Sunday's Game 4 against Phoenix, giving the upstart Lakers a commanding 3-1 lead in the first-round series against the West's second-seeded team.

    So what's SportsNation's take on Bryant's heroics? Love him or hate him, it seems SportsNation respects Bryant's prowess and expects the Lakers to finish off Steve Nash and the Suns. But as for any MJ comparisons? Voters aren't buying it.

  • 93% Lakers will finish off the Suns in the first round.
  • 90% Michael Jordan gets the nod for a game-winning shot over Kobe Bryant.
  • 14% Kobe's shot was the most memorable in Lakers' playoff history.

  • 75% San Antonio Spurs will bounce back to win first-round series against the Sacramento Kings
  • 68% New Jersey Nets will hold off the Indiana Pacers in the first round
  • 61% Miami Heat will bounce back to win first-round series against the Chicago Bulls

    I don't like him, but Kobe was money when it counted. And since he is rightfully blamed for breaking up the Lakers, he needed to be clutch. He just cut out the Suns' heart and handed it to them.
    Dougie Fresh (Washington, D.C.)

    I won't argue Nash winning the MVP award, but the difference between the two right now is Kobe is playing like a guy who knows what it takes to win a championship. Nash is playing like a guy who has never won a championship for a reason.
    Charles (Pittsburgh)

    I'm as big a Kobe basher as anyone, but it's nice to see him finally play unselfishly and still take the big shots down the stretch. He's making his teammates better, and Lamar Odom is a beast right now.
    Mike (Boston)

    The end of that Lakers-Suns games was as sketchy as it gets. Nash called time out and was fouled on the last play but some how they call a jump ball? Unreal.
    Brad (Ottawa)

    Kobe has been great, yes, but Phil Jackson is the real stud. He's totally outcoached D'Antoni.
    Todd (Boston)


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