2010 NBA Playoffs: Five Things to Watch For Sunday
Over the past 12 years, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett have been two gigantic pillars helping to hold up and increase the popularity of the NBA.
Sunday could be a date when the changing of the guard becomes official.
Duncan is in danger of being swept out of the playoffs by the Phoenix Suns, while Garnett has to face an energized and physically superior player in Lebron James. Wins by the Cavs and the Suns will send these two tough warriors into a summer full of questions.
Here are five other things to watch for in the two NBA Playoff games on Mother's Day 2010.
Is the Phoenix Suns' bench for real?
The Suns' bench is the main reason that Phoenix has a 3-0 lead on the Spurs in this series.
Are these guys going to play big again in Game 4? Jared Dudley's defense and three point shooting have been keys to wins. Goran Dragic looked terrible in the first half Friday night, but in the fourth quarter he was incredible.
The Spurs had no answer for Dragic coming off the screen on the dribble. If the Suns' second unit plays well, they will sweep the Spurs right out of the playoffs.
Will the Paul Pierce of 2008 Show Up for the Celtics?
In the 2008 NBA playoffs, Paul Pierce was the best player in the NBA. He proclaimed himself the best player in the world, and for that two month stretch he was right.
In the first three games of this series, Pierce has looked like a shadow of his former self. He is either injured, or he is just overwhelmed by Lebron's quickness and physicality.
If Pierce can knock down some open three point shots, get to the foul line, and hit the big, clutch shot, the Celtics have a great shot to win. Doc Rivers needs to keep Pierce on the floor and try Ray Allen or Tony Allen on Lebron.
Watch for Grant Hill's Performance as the Ultimate Glue Guy
On Sunday, if you see Grant Hill rising up for mid-range jump shots in mismatches against Antonio McDyess, Tim Duncan, and DeJuan Blair, then the Suns will be in great shape.
Hill has been knocking this shot down all series, especially in the second half of games. Plus, Hill has been all over the court on the defensive end. He will rotate to help, get back to his man, and then challenge someone else's shot.
At this point in his career, Hill is the consummate teammate, locker room guy, and coach-helper. For what he gets paid, Grant Hill is one of the best bargains in the NBA.
Suns' coach Alvin Gentry ought to give Hill some of his salary.
Can Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili Rally the Spurs to Victory?
Gregg Popovich's press conference after Game Two was on all the highlight shows. Coach Pop was as funny as ever, but no one on the Spurs is laughing right now.
Manu has a new contract, but he is not playing that well. Duncan has put up numbers on offense, but he has been killed by the Suns' attacking small-ball system. Parker is coming off of an injury.
Can these guys make one last stand on Mother's Day? Or is the 21st century party over for the former NBA Champs?
No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit, but do not count out Duncan, Manu, and Parker until the final bell sounds.
Is the Cortisone Shot Still Working in Lebron's Elbow?
Listen, no one has reported that Lebron took cortisone shots before Games One and Three against the Celtics, but anyone watching this series can guess that something medical happened to that elbow.
What about Game Two? Well, there are some side effects to these shots (they harm the immune system), and doctors are reluctant to give them. All you have to do is watch the movie "Varsity Blues." Lance (Paul Walker) kept getting cortisone shots in his knee to play, and the knee eventaully gave out. The doctors were aghast at the scar tissue. The problem for the Cavs is that James Van Der Beek is not walking through that door if Lebron can't play.
If the most famous elbow in the world (an elbow with its own Twitter page) is only 50 percent, look for the Celts to even this series.