Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Once Again Back Is The....Oh Who Cares?
I suck at blogging and getting people to care about what I write, but apparently I'll continue to do it.
First off, what a relief that the Celtics escaped the Bulls. I hate when the teams I'm rooting for get upset. You have to hear about it for a year and see it all on ESPN, it's just annoying. But I assume just avoiding ESPN in general would leave me a lot less annoyed. Anyway, the Bulls put up a great fight and should be able to carry this experience into the next season much like Atlanta. I knew I could count on Ben Gordon to start feeling his own shot a little too much and start becoming a low percentage chucker. Plus you can't rely on John Salmons putting up 30-plus points every game. Ben Gordon hit all those shots and most likely won't get a long term deal with the Bulls because it's Kirk Hinrich has a hard to move contract and it's just easier to give Salmons his minutes. Now some other team is bound to overpay for some streak shooter. Funny how the business works.
Onto the 2nd Round Amigos:
Magic 95, Celtics 90
Tale of two games. The Magic looked good for about the first 32 minutes of this game, absolutely destroying the Celtics. They were up 28 and all of their outside shots were falling. And then someone told the Celtics the game counted, and they quickly mounted a comeback. Orlando's threes stopped falling, Dwight stopped getting the ball, and players such as Brian Scalabrine and Eddie House stepped up and hit big shots. Orlando dodged a couple of bullets when up only four in a Rondo turnover and a Ray Allen three that hit every part of the rim before falling out.
Now I'm well aware that the goal for Orlando was to win one of the first two games on the road, but they went from making a statement to looking extremely vulnerable. The pressure is still on Boston (and Ray Allen) to show up to Game 2 and win, but doubt has definitely been cast in my mind. Before the series I thought Orlando would take this in 6, but I now have some hope that Boston might be able to pull this series out. Orlando still goes away from Dwight Howard, far too often for my taste, to take bad threes. My bias towards everything KG won't let me pick against the Celtics, so give me Boston in 6.
Rockets 100, Lakers 92
When the Rockets first got Ron Artest, it was theorized that they could now compete with the Lakers because of their improved defense added to the tandem of T-Mac and Yao Ming. Subtract T-Mac, add in a motivated Ron Artest, and you have that same team that some experts (Scoop Jackson, mostly) predicted to win the championship. Now while I don't think the Rockets are capable, they can obviously bother the Lakers. No other team can throw a defender like Shane Battier to follow Kobe around, and switch him off with a guy like Ron Artest. Artest also gives them a guy who matches up beautifully with Lamar Odom. Add Yao Ming in the post, and it forces Pau Gasol a little bit further from the rim. It also makes Andrew Bynum more important, because he's the only real size that can bother Ming. The Rockets did a great job controlling the pace of the game, and forcing Kobe to shoot the ball 31 times for only 32 points. It's well known one of the ways to stop the Lakers is to force Kobe to be a volume shooter, and the Rockets did a great job of doing that in Game 1.
As much as I would like to see Houston pull the upset, it's just not likely. Kobe usually responds to a bad game with a really good one, and LA is still the superior team. When Kobe is finishing out a close game hitting clutch shots and drawing double teams, the Rockets really have no one to go to that can match him. Post players don't really thrive in those situations, and you can't really rely on Ron Artest to carry you offensively. The Rockets have all the tools to make this one interesting, but won't be able to pull it off in the end. I think the Lakers take this one in 6 or 7, but it will be better than most people initially anticipated.
The more games there are, the more Ron Artest soundbites we get. Much like cornbread, "ain't nothing wrong with that."
Cavaliers 99, Hawks 72
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind the Cavaliers will win this series. Atlanta might challenge them once or twice, and even steal a game, but they have no shot to win. They haven't shown near the level of consistency it would take for them to make this a competitive series, and they still struggle on the road in the playoffs (with the exception of Game 4 against Miami). The Cavaliers will make this one quick.
Congratulations for LeBron James for winning the MVP. He's the best player in the league right now, you have to respect that. I still despise the Cavaliers, but credit is given where it is due.
Big Z, The Great
Daniel, The Manservant
Who can stop that?
Nuggets 117, Mavericks 105
For the second time, a close game gets blown wide open in the 4th quarter by a big Denver run. Josh Howard went out early, and Dallas never really had a chance in this one. The Mavericks' opporitunity to pull an upset likely went out the window the same time Josh Howard went out with an injury. I'll admit, I thought this was the year that the Mavericks overachieve and Dirk diverts some of the criticism he's been getting pummeled with since the 2006 Finals. Sadly, that does not appear to be the case. The Nuggets are playing the best basketball of any team in the West, the Mavericks don't look to be the team. But it's too early to count them out, Dallas is a pretty good home team. They also have a nice little 3 day layoff before their next game, so Howard can get heal up an extra couple of days.
The Nuggets are such a feast or famine team in my eyes, because of their erratic play. JR Smith can either bury you with threes, or bury the Nuggets forcing them up. They can make some pretty dumb turnovers between Birdman and K-Mart, and Anthony Carter can play like Anthony Carter. Chauncey Billups really helps this team calm down, and his impact shouldn't be ignored. He's well on his way to his 7th consecutive conference Finals.
Nuggets take this one in 5, but Dirk proves his worth to a small segment of people.