Normally around NBA playoff time I'm vaguely interested. Baseball has just started so I wanna make sure my Phils get off to a good start.
The NFL draft is looming so I wanna absorb all the analysis I can so I can see if who the Eagles pick is a good player. Also, the NHL playoffs are in swing and if I'm honest, the Flyers always have a much better chance of advancing than the Sixers do.
So, I give the playoffs a glance here and there but you normally know who's gonna end up at the Finals and it's normally two teams I could care less about.
This year though has been different. Dare I say that Basketball is getting fun to watch again?
When the seeding finally shook out in the West I thought that this was a bad match-up for the Lakers.
The Jazz have an excellent point guard in Williams and the guys he finds can knock down shots. Sloan is a wonderful second half adjuster and Boozer is a beast.
The Jazz are a very good team and very good teams can beat an all-star player. So I thought, "Hmm...upset?"
Not a chance.
The Lakers didn't blow the Jazz out in the game, but what they did do was get a complete game out of the entire team. Which any NBA fan will tell you is worst.
When a guy like Trevor Ariza—who last year had a total, TOTAL of 17 point in the entire playoffs—goes off for 21 points it's a sign you have a complete team.
When Kobe is being a scorer and a playmaker (eight assists) that same game you have a problem because now you have to worry about the other four guys on the floor beating you.
Yes the Lakers stumbled a little down the stretch, but the mark of a great team is to put a team down early and keep them down—hear that Orlando—and that's what they did.
Will the solidarity continue? Hard to see how it won't, Kobe TRUSTS his teammates and that may be all it takes to make the Lakers Champs again.
Kevin Garnett's always been a 20-10 guy which in this league is a great thing to have. You can make up the points and you can make up the rebounds if that was all he brought to the Celtics.
Garnett is also probably the most intense competitor not living in LA. He makes everyone of his teammates raise the level of their game up. When he's on the floor, that is.
Not getting around those picks? You're gonna hear about it.
Not taking the open shot? You're gonna hear about.
Not hustling on defense? Oh believe you're gonna hear about it. Even if he's not in the game.
The other thing that he does is lead by doing, which is the best way to lead. Who's filling that role now?
Therein lies the problem. Last year the Celts were the consensus NBA Finals pick, this year they may not get past the Bulls.
I didn't bat an eye when the Mavs beat the Spurs in Game one. That's not just because I'm tired of seeing them in the playoffs.
It was because I like most people didn't give them much of a shot with Roger Mason doing his Manu impression.
Then in Game 2 the light went on for the Spurs:
"Hey you know Eva Longoria's husband? Let's run some plays for that guy."
The result was a game two blowout win and confidence for one of the best teams of this decade. Which is a dangerous thing.
We've seen firsthand how fragile the psyche of the Mavs are—Kidd gives them some toughness but they still have to wonder which Dirk is gonna show up each night—which makes them the perfect team for a playoff tested Spurs.
If the Spurs can win again in Game 3 look for them to win in 5 and for Avery Johnson smiling with the "I told you so" face.
I know the Lebron and the Cavs can make even the best team in the league look mediocre, but this is sad. It's sad watching once great players like Rasheed Wallace limp around on defense.
It's sad watching Rip Hamilton run around five screens and still not be open. It's the worst watching a guy like Rodney Stucky have to keep his game in first just to let the rest of his teammates catch up.
Say what you want about Iverson, he's never boring or slow.
Watching them play the Cavs Saturday reminded me of that 2001 Pacers team: just good enough to make the playoffs, just bad enough for NBA fans not in Indiana to hope for a quick exit. Clearly on the decline after the Finals run the previous year (Big ups to Martin Johnson for the Assist on this)!!
Unless the Pistons suddenly get a lot younger tonight, expect more of the same.
It's been a long time but the words: "Here is the starting lineup for your Chicago Bulls!" is no longer the punch line of a joke.
Being the furthest thing from a Jordan fan there could be, I enjoyed seeing the Bulls mired in the cellar of the NBA. Even a bitter fan like me can enjoy seeing the young Bulls push the Celtics to the brink night after night.
Few things are prettier than a Derrick Rose drive and finish, or smoother than a Ben Gordon jumpshot. Even guys like John Salmons who never seem to fit anywhere have found a niche on this team.
The Bulls have not only made this series entertaining but like the Hawks of last year, have shown that Celtics are not unbeatable.
All of us quietly thinking "upset".
When the Hawks traded for Bibby at the tail end of last year’s regular season, I thought the Kings got hosed.
Now I know they did.
While Bibby didn't obliterate the box score in the Hawks win over the Heat, he did what he's done his whole career: make everyone else better.
This to me is what, more than Josh Smith's ridiculous hops and more than Joe Johnson's ability to score from anywhere on the court, makes the Hawks dangerous.
When you have a good point guard, when the offense stalls he creates. When the tempo needs adjustment he speeds it up or slows it down. He's the first one the coaches’ look to when they need a message conveyed on the court.
He makes the Hawks go and it looks like they’re gonna cruise into the second round.
Living in Denver for nine years of my life I developed a healthy dislike for all things "Mile High" and it's getting worse.
Since I couldn't sleep Sunday night I stayed up and watched most of the Nuggets/Hornets match up. I expected to see just what a phenomenal point guard every NBA analyst keeps telling me Billups is. He is the reason Iverson is somewhere in Detroit right now playing X-box with his son right?
What I saw was a guy who came down the court with no one under the boards and jacked up a bad three pointer. It went in, so it wasn't all bad.
I saw a guy take a heavily contested jumper when another teammate was open for a better look. It went in so it wasn't too contested.
Yes I also saw some great passes as well, still the whole thing felt kinda surreal.
I mean Iverson was traded to the Pistons right, so what's he doing on the floor still?
Billups may have shot a blistering percentage from the floor (8-9 from three 10-15 overall) but he took the same "bad" shots that AI always took with none of the backlash for taking them. It's not like he needed to when he's on the same team with the so-called face of the franchise Carmelo Anthony.
I guess you’re allowed to do whatever you want when you win a championship. Go Hornets!
On Saturday I saw a team that is growing on me out west in the Rockets.
The run the floor well, their spacing is excellent; they feed their big man without overdoing and the play great defense.
The rare times opposing players penetrate past the perimeter D of Artest, Battier and Brooks, Yao is right there to redirect them back out.
That's when I realized that the Rockets play much better without T-Mac there.
This is probably not a revelation to most, but I can count the number of Rocket games I've watched and all of them featured Vince Carter's cousin. When it was announced that Tracy was done for the year, I just figured they'd miss the playoffs all together.
Not only are they in the Playoffs but outside of the Lakers they look like the most balanced team in the west.
If they make it out of the first round this year, you can be sure that Tracy will be a NY Knick in no time!
After absolutely destroying Samuel Dalembert (AKA Mr. Cracked Glass) for 3 quarters on Sunday, Dwight Howard looked up and his team was up 14 points and looking sure to walk off their home court with the W.
Then for the last quarter he watched his team snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Where did it all go wrong?
Superman is amazing by himself, but there are times he needs help. He can turn to guys like Batman, the Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, etc.
Sunday, Howard would have settled for Plastic Man.
What he got was 13 bench points and Hedo Turkoglu having a bad defensive and offensive game.
The Sixers confessed that the defensive strategy was not to worry about Howard and to shut down his teammates.
For three and half quarters that strategy hurt the Sixers, but 31 points and 16 boards only go but so far.
If the rest of the JLA don't show up in Game 2 it could be a very short series for the man of steel.
The Mavs, Sixers, Bulls and Rockets all won their game ones on the road.
Most believed the Rockets could probably pull off the upset and that the Mavs beating the Spurs was not that big a deal. After the entire West is, as ESPN keeps reminding us, the "class" of the league.
Nobody gave the Bulls or Sixers any chance at all which makes this year so much different than any other.
The lower seeds believe not only that they can win, but in some cases that they should. How else do you explain Derrick Rose forgetting he's rookie and putting up 36 points against the defending champs on their court? Andre Iguodala having the stones to take a game winning shot after blowing two free throws?
There's no intimidation left in the league, just opportunity.
Which makes for the most fun I've had watching Basketball since 2001