This is the best start to a first round I have seen in years, but we still have the same old story developing with the top seeds finding a way to advance to the second round despite playing poorly. I will hold off on the excitement despite being antsy about San Antonio and the Lakers losing home-court advantage.
If you are a Spur or Laker hater, I assume you are excited about the possibilities of a couple of upsets that would shock the basketball world.
Well, I am not dumb and I would never place a wager on that event happening, but if pushed to the limit I would side with the Grizzlies and that gaudy 30-11 home record against the Spurs.
I do have some rambling about the goings on in the first round though and it starts with my favorite series – Boston vs. New York.
KNICKS BLOWING IT
The Knicks are down 0-2, but it seems like the series is much closer. The Celtics are playing on fumes, but New York is gassing them up with youthful and selfish play.
Carmelo Anthony’s meltdown in Game 1 was a classic case of “I will win the game despite of my teammates.” The three-point shot early in the shot clock, the defensive meltdown when he should have stayed on Ray Allen after switching with Tony Douglas and deciding not to drive to the basket for two on his final shot… Those were two of the worst minutes I have seen down the stretch in a playoff game from a superstar. He also failed to recognize his teammate Amare Stoudemire was red hot and should have had his hands. It made me lose my sleep.
Melo redeemed himself in Game 2 with a tremendous game, but his coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t help the situation by leaving Jared Jeffries in the game for the final shot.
It is known throughout the league that certain players on every team will not step up and take a big shot. Jeffries, a terrible free throw shooter, was not thinking about ever attempting the game-winning shot despite having a distinctive advantage over Kevin Garnett, who was virtually sitting on the floor below him.
He should have never been in the game along with the Bill Walker who was 0 for 11 in 33 minutes.
Where were Shawne Williams and Landry Fields?
One thing we do know is that Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are cold-blooded big-time players. That is why the Knicks trail 0-2.
MIAMI IS HOT
Did you see that move LeBron James put on Jrue Holiday in Game 3? Remember 6-foot-8 and 270 pounds made that move at full speed.
Miami has beaten the Sixers 10 straight games and they are operating at cruise speed against them, which has to be scary for teams watching. Their defense is stifling when Joel Anthony and Chris Bosh are on the floor with James and Wade. Doug Collins has done an amazing job, but this is a terrible matchup for the young Sixers.
Dwight Howard is indeed Superman and the Hawks Interior defense is showing us why. The Hawks are allowing Howard to post up with single coverage, as long as they cover the three-point shooters.
This plan worked in Game 1, but suffered in Game 2 when those same shooters got aggressive and took it to the basket and moved without the ball.
The Hawks are in danger of losing both home games if they continue to break plays and go individual. Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford are the only guys that should be allowed to break a play, but for some reason whoever had the ball felt they had the power to do so.
THE ROSE SHOW
Derrick Rose is amazing and ridiculous. I have never, and I repeat never, seen a player who lets everyone in the arena know he is going to drive the ball and complete the play with regularity.
The Pacers are just young and frozen in crunch time. They have outplayed the Bulls all but four minutes in the series, but unfortunately those four minutes cost them all three games.
What was Darren Collison thinking when he ignored Danny Granger coming off wide open from a down screen to hit the go-ahead basket? He flat out forgot the play, ignored Granger on purpose or developed the selfish gene and said, “I will win the game.”
I am not getting excited about the Hornets, but yes they made my day with a Game 1 victory, thus forcing Phil Jackson to uncross his legs and get off that throne a few times.
Chris Paul is back to form. When he is, Paul becomes the best all-around point guard in the league.
Pau Gasol is listening to the many people who want to dissect his game. He is convincing people the soft tag is affecting him. Gasol is the most skilled big man in the game and should play accordingly without hesitation.
Kobe Bryant is dealing with Trevor Ariza and it is taxing, because Ariza got a year of figuring Kobe out while guarding him every day in practice. I have the feeling before this series is over, it won’t matter.
The Thunder is reigning down on Denver. I like what Denver has done since the Melo trade, but I was never a believer this group of role players could do it in the playoffs. Every team needs a general on offense, a guy who is not afraid and is able to take over a game in phases when things go south.
Denver has some scorers, but the challenge is to find him among a plethora of guys who feel like they can get it done. There is not enough time to figure that out in 48 minutes and that is why Anthony will be missed in the series.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are a joy to watch and we need to get used to it for the next 10 years. They have a serious chance of winning the West and it will be fun watching them try.
People wonder why the Thunder traded Jeff Green so easily… Well, it was not just to get Kendrick Perkins. It was to give more minutes to the better player at power forward – Serge Ibaka.
SPURS IN DANGER
The Memphis Grizzlies will win 55 games next year when Rudy Gay is back in uniform, but they also have a chance to beat the top-seeded Spurs this year.
Lionel Hollins has done a remarkable job with this team and Zach Randolph has become a superstar. The mixture of shooters and defenders (like Tony Allen) makes Memphis a fun team to watch.
The Spurs need a healthy Manu Ginobili to win this series and he was huge in Game 2, but the Grizzlies are 30-11 at home. This is not going to be easy and San Antonio could be the next No. 1 seed to lose to an eighth seed.
Jason Kidd is making us old people proud. It is amazing how he has improved his jump shot. The form he has now is textbook and his conditioning is off the charts. It is great to see to old-school guards in Kidd and Andre Miller match wits against one another.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews were huge in Game 3. Aldridge has become the Blazers go-to player and rightly so. Brandon Roy was struggling until Game 3, when he broke out in a big way. Roy is a shell of himself because of injury and it’s sad to see, but last night he was huge.
Dirk Nowitzki looked great in the first two games. The Mavericks are facing a difficult challenge in Portland and it was obvious, despite a great night by Jason Terry, that Nowitzki will have to play big if they are to advance.
All this talk and we might get just one Game 7, but it is sure fun to watch and hope.