We thought the NBA Playoffs were who we thought they were…fascinating and must-see TV. Let us hit the reset button and review where they are…
Philadelphia-Miami…Heat forgot how to close out a game yesterday. Oh wait, they DON’T KNOW how to close out a game. Graphic guys couldn’t get the stats on the tube fast enough showing how the Big Three of the Heat have not been standing so tall when games are on the line. Folks may say those stats are misleading because it is “the last shot” and all…but we do recall these guys felt they could win multiple championships? At some point, they probably will need “the last shot” to go down this year. Kudos to the Sixers for losing their touch down the stretch (missing 8 straight) but not their grit…finding their aim just in time and salvaging yesterday’s Game 4. Their youthful defense has given the Heat issues. Game 5 Wednesday in Miami and Heat up 3-1.
Indiana-Chicago…Pacers finally broke through Saturday and extended the series…and let us hope Derrick Rose doesn’t have anything extended…or broken. He’s in a walking boot right now. Since Indiana decided to give him the boot when driving the paint…his numbers have been far from MVP status…and now he is apparently hobbled. Bulls’ lack of offense in the halfcourt catching up with them…to some extent courtesy of the Pacers’ defense. Chicago looking nothing like their top seed. Game 5 Tuesday in Chicago and Bulls up 3-1.
Atlanta-Orlando…Stan Van Gundy drove a verbal bus over Hedo Turkoglu and then backed it up after last evening’s Game 4 loss. Hedo had the ball at game’s end…at least it started out that way before he scrambled to get it back and eventually launched a poorly conceived attempt. Stan, save venom for Jameer Nelson (missed 9 of 12) and J.J. Redick (missed all 6). SVG has been relying on Dwight Howard at both ends all year long but that Magic is all gone now. Atlanta is making shots and starting to feel they actually can make Orlando disappear. Hawks did take 3 of 4 from the Magic in the regular season. Game 5 Tuesday in Orlando and Hawks up 3-1.
New York-Boston…Carmelo Anthony said he had “fun” after Game 2 and was “satisfied” after yesterday’s Game 4. Imagine what kind of descriptions we would have been treated to if the Knicks tried more than several minutes combined in their two games at Madison Square Garden. The fact they got blown away in Game 3 should have been enough for Melo to be more despondent…but it sounded yesterday like he was quite pleased…with the Celtics’ sweep. Sure, he and everyone else pointed to Amar’e Stoudemire’s back and Chauncey Billups’ leg…but after the first two games in Boston – while the Celts were sleepwalking – they still couldn’t get a win. And then, New York rewarded its deserving fans by flat out quitting. I’m not so sure their second half comeback in Game 4 Sunday wasn’t mostly due to Boston having too many Cadbury Eggs at the half. The Celtics, even though they know the Knicks mailed in the second part of the series, have some swagger back. Maybe Shaq back as well..as they advance to the next round with their sweep.
New Orleans-Los Angeles…Khloe, can you ask Lamar how Kobe is doing? Reason being, last night he left the Crescent City on crutches. Uh-oh. Hornets’ Chris Paul is taking over this series and Kobe can’t walk on his own. 27 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists in Game 4 last evening…CP3 for MVP was the battle cry a couple of years back and now NOLA has a best of three with the Lake Show. Phil Jackson, do you have all your retirement papers in order? I know Phil was waiting for the Finals to conclude but at this point, will the Lakers be there? Game 5 Tuesday in Los Angeles at 2-2.
Memphis-San Antonio…The Griz look like the better team right now. Spurs in quicksand and taking body blows from youthful, nothing-to-lose Memphis. Some folks accused the Griz of tanking a couple of games to ensure they would get San Antonio. So far, that looks to be working out nicely whether they did or not. Veteran Spurs still have a ton of pressure experience to draw from. The question is if any blood is left in those aging, beaten up bodies. Game 4 tonight in Memphis and Grizzlies up 2-1.
Portland-Dallas…If you didn’t see the Mavs’ complete collapse in Game 4 Saturday, don’t worry. Most Dallas fans didn’t either as they were covering their faces in horror. Portland staged…or Dallas staged for them…one of the biggest comebacks of all time. Trail Blazers 18 down entering the 4th. After the Mavericks looked so good at home…they had their opposition dead to rights Saturday but let Portland off the mat. Suddenly, the one series where everyone seemed to be picking Portland in an upset now looks very, very possible. We’ll truly see what Dallas is made of after this crushing loss, another one in a long line of them in Big D. Game 5 tonight in Dallas at 2-2.
Denver-Oklahoma City…While the Thunder are up 3-0, the Nuggets have been testing them. Game 3 Saturday night was very competitive but OKC successfully navigated the Denver team/crowd energy early and the Rocky Mountain altitude late. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are as good a tandem as any these days…and Kendrick Perkins is paying big dividends in the middle. George Karl’s Nuggets have thrown everything he and they can think of at OKC but haven’t been able to punch out a “W.” Game 4 tonight in Denver and Thunder up 3-0.
Great stuff so far…and this is just the opening act.