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Sports Agenda For Thursday (2/23/12)

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Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks controls the ball against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden on February 22, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks controls the ball against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden on February 22, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Miami Heat
UM

Big Story:
LINSANITY comes to Miami TONIGHT!!!
Yes believe it, Super Lintendo is coming to the AAA tonight to face off against the Big Three of the Miami Heat. Plus, the Panthers hit the ice again and the NFL Combine kicks off today.
I’m the miggity miggity miggity miggity mack…here we go.

Heat: (vs. New York Knicks, 7 p.m. TNT)
He’s here…he’s here…oh my goodness he’s here.
Yup, Jeremy Lin….the hottest sports story for ESPN since Tim Tebow is coming to the AAA tonight with the New York Knicks.
Look, the kid is good and smart, but he absolutely doesn’t deserve the coverage he’s getting.
The Knicks are a seven seed in the Eastern Conference at the All-Star Break and they deserve this much coverage?
Please.
Lin is good, bordering on great, but he’s been blown way, way, WAY out of proportion by the mothership and the New York media.
But I think it’s perfect for the Heat…and in some ways I think they are very thankful for Linsanity’s arrival.
How much have you heard about the Heat lately, outside of from me of course?
Not much…and that’s just the way the Heat want it.
Think about it, they are flying completely under the radar and are 26-7 and are tied for the best record in the NBA heading into tonight’s matchup.
How good are the Heat so far this season?
They are 20-4 against the Eastern Conference and 14-2 at home. Plus, they are 9-1 in their last 10 games and have won 7 in a row.
But if you watch the mothership (ESPN for the layman) you would think the Knicks are about to win the NBA Championship.
That means there’s no pressure on the Heat and no pressure on LeBron.
It’s the calm after the storm that was the Miami Heat in 2010-2011.
Now, as for tonight’s game…
It’s going to come down to whether or not Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers can cover Jeremy Lin.
If they can, it will allow LeBron to stay on Melo and not have to do a massive shift in the defense.
If they can’t, well, it’s going to be a long night.
My thinking is to let Lin get his and stop Melo and Amar’e.
I don’t have a problem with Lin scoring 30, if you stop Melo and Amar’e.
That said, I don’t think Lin has faced a defense like he will face tonight, aggressive, attacking, always running to the ball.
Lin has faced one real challenge at point guard, Deron Williams of the Nets, and was humiliated as Williams just abused him throughout the game.
I don’t believe that will happen tonight, but I can guarantee you that Lin will have to work twice as hard tonight as he does in any other game.
But I think the Heat see this game as a measuring stick.
The Heat want to prove tonight that they are still the Big Dogs and that if you want to advance, you have to knock them off.
It’s going to be a pressure filled game throughout and border on a playoff atmosphere.
The bottom line is that it’s going to be a fun game.
Personally, if the Heat can beat them by 50…I hope they beat em by 60.
Sorry, I don’t have anything against Lin, I think he’s phenomenal.
I just want the Heat to thump them to shut ESPN the heck up.

Panthers: (vs. Minnesota Wild, 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Florida)
The Cats take on a bad Minnesota team tonight looking to right the rapidly sinking ship that is the Panthers season.
They’re tied with Winnipeg for the Southeast Division lead, so any more losses will definitely sink the Panthers chances of the playoffs.
Still, who’d have thunk we’d still be talking Panthers and playoffs heading into the final month of the season.
I know I sure didn’t.
Remember too, the Cats have arguably the most loaded farm system in the league.
They’ve got a great center putting on muscle mass in Jonathan Huberdeaux and reportedly a decent goalie in the minors too.
If they can get those guys up to speed and get them into the NHL, the team has a bright future.
Of course if is the biggest word in the English language too.

NFL Combine:
Ah yes, the NFL Combine begins anew today.
If you’re not familiar, this is where a select group of draft-eligible prospects go to Indianapolis and get measured, poked, prodded, and interviewed plus do some on-field skills tests to dazzle the NFL general managers and scouts.
It’s also where a lot of free agent deals get done, just without the NFL completely knowing about it.
So who will the Dolphins be paying close attention to?
Here’s my list of possible Dolphins number one pick considerations:
Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa; Robert Griffin, III, QB, Baylor; Michael Brockers, DT, LSU; Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford; Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama; Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College; Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina; David DeCastro, G, Stanford; Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
My gut tells me one of those players is going to be the Dolphins’ first-round draft pick, assuming the Fins keep the pick where it is at 8th or 9th pick.
Who would be my top guys in there?
1. RGIII
2. Riley Reiff
3. Courtney Upshaw
4. Michael Brockers
5. Luke Kuechly
I’m completely sold on RGIII and would make a big deal to get him.
But that’s why I sit behind a computer and not in a general manager’s seat.
Still, I want pass rushers and Upshaw and Brockers both can get after the quarterback.
Kuechly would be a Zach Thomas clone and could let the Fins move Karlos Dansby outside along with Kevin Burnett in a 4-3 defense.
Upshaw is a beast, I’m telling ya, a beast.
Reiff is solid, yet unspectacular. Course with the Dolphins having a massive hole on the right side of the offensive line, he could be a plug and play player for a decade.
I still would go back to RGIII, but that’s just me.

Marlins Update:
Nothing major coming out of camp just yet.
Although I did chuckle that Carlos Zambrano zinged a fastball by the head of Ozzie Guillen to move him away from the plate.
I like that kind of camaraderie, hopefully Zambrano has his head on straight and can give the Marlins a big boost in the rotation.

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