Sunday, May 11, 2008

Playoff Thoughts Through 5.11.08

  • Name me one team that has more offensive and defensive versatility than the Spurs over the last 9 years. All-time. I'm not talking this season. I mean, all-time. There have been better teams, surely, but they weren't capable of the number of things the Spurs are. Need a slow it down, drag it out, defensive squabble of hard fouls and tough inside play? They've got it. Need a fast paced, speed-break, high octane offense with driving layups and three point sharpshooters? Coming right up. They have such a diverse range of abilities in a manageable roster that doesn't destroy their cap. And tonight was pretty evident. After two games in New Orleans trying to play their style, their space, their sub-80 scoring brand of killbreak to a complete and total failure, the Spurs decided, fine. You don't like to run? We'll run. And they sped it up and kept the Hornets on their heels for four quarters. Parker managed to neutralize him by constantly pushing. And the Hornets had no answer for a team raining from three point land. It's risky and dangerous, for any other team but the Spurs. They know they'll hit those shots, 60% if need be, because they have that confidence. And if the Hornets don't get back to creating the shots they want, they're going to be headed back to San Antonio down 3-2. And that means the door isn't shut, but you can see the number on it.

  • Jameer Nelson, I hate you. After truly failing at everything basketball related in this series except for Game 3, he has the gall to come out and guarantee victory? Do you know what you've done, Nelson? You've given credence to every writer that dismissed this series as nothing more than a formality. Let's be clear. These two teams are not that far apart. It looks that way, because we've been taught to interpret things in such a light. The Pistons should beat the Magic because, well they're the Pistons and they're the Magic. But the Pistons just have the heart of a champion, blah, blah, blah. But if a clock starts when it's supposed to and Jameer Nelson doesn't play like complete ass for the last 12 minutes of Game 4, this is knotted up going back to Detroit. Hedo Turkoglu won't miss another game winner, if he gets the chance. I will admit that Detroit is the better team, but I won't buy into the thought process that the Magic are a bunch of silly boys trying to play with the real men of the Pistons. And I don't buy into the idea that the Magic should be humble before the mighty Pistons, either. You need to have bravado in the playoffs. You need to have guts. You need to have huevos. Respect is earned, not given, but you still have to go out there and demand it. Anything less is weakness. However, it needs to be Rashard Lewis, it needs to be Hedo Turkoglu and it damn well needs to be Dwight Howard, however against his nature it is. It doesn't need to be Jameer "I'm a point guard that can't handle the ball" Nelson. And you don't guarantee wins you can in no way deliver. It's just a shame. The clock malfunction still drives me nuts, but not as much as the way the Magic just didn't put down shots. And maybe they weren't ready. Maybe it was all about playoff experience and "the heart of a champion" and the "will to win" and all that. But this series deserved better. And I'm left angry at the Magic because of that. Also, Tayshaun Prince is a freaking baller. In closing, Rip Hamilton is the most underrated guy in the NBA Playoffs, and I hate Jameer Nelson.

  • I think we all need to take a second and acknowledge A. that LeBron is a pretty damn good passer, which often gets overlooked and B. that Zydrunas Ilgauskus is actually a pretty damned good player. He's got killer range, and he deserves credit for it. Other than that, there's not a lot to say about this series. It's been disappointing on a number of levels, will probably come down to homecourt advantage, and will be forgot by almost all who will have seen it. And that speaks very poorly for both teams.
  • Bully to you, Jazz. Screw what I said. If you can play with fire and passion, you can push these guys to seven games before Kobe out-Kobes you. By the way, that block was delicious. Even if it was entirely because he was hurt. For what it's worth, I'm not banging on Kobe for shooting a ton after being hurt. If he hadn't shot and they'd lost, we'd be ragging on him for not shooting enough and putting the team on his (injured) back. Kobe did what he should do. The Lakers built this team for this, to let Kobe shoot as much as he wants. And Gasol got his, and Odom got his, and Vujacic and Fisher shot well from the arc. But as we've said the whole playoffs, there are problems with the Lakers defense. (And it's name might be Pau Gasol) Either way, this is probably an acceptable loss for the Lakers, and as long as Kobe's feeling better before Game 5, this shouldn't be that much of a setback. Until it is.
  • Marbury or Hinrich? Thomas or Randolph? Robinson or Deng? Curry or Noah? Bad choice, D'Antoni. But still, I can't blame him, after Paxson evidently wanted D'Antoni to throw in a defensive coach. If you're going to take D'Antoni's style, you need to accept it. You can't hire Miles Davis and tell him to play tighter. You can't hire Monet and tell him to paint fine lines. And you can't hire an all-offense, no-defense coach that's leaving a playoff caliber team because of pressure to change his style on the condition that he change his style.
  • The NBA's dream scenario is still possible: Boston vs. LA
  • Our worst nightmare is still possible: Detroit vs. San Antonio
  • Our other worst nightmare is still possible: Cleveland vs. San Antonio
  • And my dream scenario is dying a slow, painful, disappointing death: Orlando vs. New Orleans

 
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