Sunday, April 29, 2007

Can't Stand the Heat

Remains of the Day, Healdsburg, April 2007
After an unintended absence, I'm back, one week into the NBA playoffs and one month into the basketball season. Lots to talk about and I won't get to it all today but get ready for a series of posts in S.O.L.'s frenzied attempt to make up for the last couple of weeks of silence.

As I write this, the most interesting NBA playoff series is probably reaching halftime of game three. Since I'm Tivo-ing that game (Dallas vs. Golden State), I will write about the results tomorrow. I picked Dallas before the series, however, and I still think they'll pull it out. But more on that Monday.

D-Wade, Shaq and the Heat have left the building in rather inglorious fashion. I hate to blame stuff on injury but Wade did not look like his old self and I suspect his injuries (shoulder and knee) are bothering him more than he admits. The guy almost always plays with a smile on his face, not the grimace that was planted there throughout the series. He's a warrior and for my money, the best clutch guy in the league and an early exit might be the best thing for him. At least he'll get to rest.

I told anyone who would listen that I liked the Bulls to make a run this year -- and that was before the season started, back when they signed Ben Wallace. I'm not sure they have enough defensive ability (outside of Big Ben) and they can go for long stretches without scoring, but it will be interesting to watch them after they swept the suddenly old-looking Heat out of the playoffs. One thing is Shaq looked mad at the end of the game. That has to be a good thing. I hope Grant Hill doesn't retire and ends up signing with the Heat. I think Shaq, Riley and Company have one more run in them and Hill would make it interesting.

Back to the Bulls who now must play the resurgent Pistons. Big Ben going against his old pals and the team he believes snubbed him by not offering a big enough contract in the off-season. This is sort of a youth vs. experience series though Deetroit ain't that old. I think it's anybody's series but if you hold a gun to my head, I'll say Pistons in six.

So far, though, that's the only second-round series already set. New Jersey and Phoenix both have 3-1 leads in their series and Cleveland is up over the decimated Wizards three games to none.

San Antonio is up 2-1 in an entertaining pick-up series against Denver, another young coast-to-coast team. The Nuggets are proving that two shooting stars can co-exist in the same line-up though the Spurs are showing that old school has its advantages. San Antonio has a huge advantage on the sidelines, though. Greg Poppovich has a much bigger brain than George Karl, another NBA re-tread that for some reason has half the league convinced he can actually coach.

And then there's Kobe and the Lakers. The Suns rushed off to a 2-0 lead by pretty much crushing the Lakers at home in Phoenix but the Lakers came back to win a tough game three at home. Suddenly the basketball world was calling it a series. Well, not after today. Steve Nash led the Suns from the start and even though the game was close at the half, it felt like a Suns pace which is deadly to the slow-footed Lakers. When Kobe started chucking up shots in the middle of the second quarter S.O.L. knew the Lakers had no chance.

Nash finished one short of tying the all-time playoff record of assists in a game and finished with 23 dimes. His 15 at intermission set a record for a first half.

I think the Suns are far too talented to lose a seven-game series to the Lakers but they have had trouble holding big leads and they've been known to suffer defensive let downs. On Sunday, the Lakers' coach had a good game plan and they were executing well. Kobe's teammates were all contributing and getting their touches which is just what the Suns were afraid of -- a balanced attack. But then Kobe started shooting and forced a couple of shots and the next thing you know, his teammates are standing around again waiting for him to do something.

Later in the third quarter, even when the Black Hole passed the rock, his teammates didn't convert. What did he expect? They'd gotten so cold in between touches, they would have been warm in a meat locker. For the third time in the series, Kobe was a non-factor in the second half. This is the guy touted as the greatest player in the game today? To quote a fellow friend and blogger, Buuullllshiiit!

Now the Suns have a 3-1 lead and head home to Phoenix where they should settle the score.

Tomorrow: Trouble in Big D???

1 comment:

Undercover Black Man said...

Welcome back! Fun read... and I haven't even started watching the playoffs yet. The next round should get interesting. With the Wizards and Lakers outta there, I'll try to rekindle some home-town affection for the Bulls.