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Mutterings of a braindead zombie -- Playoffs Day 3 recap.

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Forgive me if this blog sounds a bit loopier than usual. It's just 7:00 AM and I'm about to start it. I've been up since 10 AM Tuesday and it is my plan to go to bed around let's say midnight-ish tonight. By my calculations that's around 38 hours. No-Doz and Red Bull to the rescue. Sugar free Red Bull is crap by the way. Absolutely useless. It's basically just water. But why do I have a splitting headache then?

I've put myself in this tough spot by taking my procrastination to pathologically shameful levels. I wrote this article on the Virginia Tech dipshit from midnight to four for my school paper and something about three female friends of mine for the New York Times between four to seven AM. I'm probably the wrong person to ask, but if I had to hazard a guess, I would say the former will be better received. But I could just as easily wrong and they might both suck.

So now I'm going to write about basketball because I can't afford to fall back any further than five games and I kind of have set this anal goal for myself to recap every game, just to say I did. I have no idea who reads these things or how many and Matthew tells me all the time to not care about such things. I think that's his polite way of saying "about eight people."

Blah.

Game 2 Orlando @ Detroit: Pistons 98, Magic 90 (2-0)

For the second consecutive game the Pistons' starters combine for over 80 points, all five score in double figures, and no one has more than 22. For the second consecutive game the Magic lose by eight points on the nose and Darko leads them in +/-. Spooky shit, no?

No, not really.

Whereas turnovers and missed free throws hurt the Magic in Game 1, here the they were done in by the fact that the Pistons made five more threes and nine more FTs (in seven more attempts). They still shot a higher percentage, but were never really in the game from midway through the 3rd quarter on. Hedo Turkoglu is playing much better than I figured he would, although in hindsight I don't know why I'm so surprised. I'm the guy who keeps telling people that Prince is tremendously overrated defensively and having Webber at center will eventually doom this squad.

Grant Hill also picked up his game for the Magic, to go along with Hedo and Darko, but it still wasn't enough. Jameer Nelson and Tony Battie are both fucking killing them and Dwight Howard hasn't been much better. I can't believe Hill didn't start Milicic in Game 2. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

For Deee-twah all the starters have it going right now which is good because their bench has gone AWOL. Antonio McDyess went 2 of 11 and he was their best guy. Carlos Delfino was a mindbottling -10 in 12 minutes in a game his team won by 8. I expect them to drop Game 3 as a courtesy to Orlando before establishing Darwinian order in Game 4. I just don't see anyone in their lackadaisical frontcourt showing up at all on Thursday and Howard is a good bet to have one breakout game.


A glimpse of the grumpy Magic bench, quietly pondering how much Stern would fine them if they beat the holy shit out of Mason after the game.
(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Your 3 Stars

3. Tayshaun Prince - Neither Hill or Turkoglu were shut down, yet somehow he led the team with a +19 to go with his 18 points. Odd.
2. Grant Hill - 21 points on just 10 shots, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Who knows if he'll play anymore past this year.
1. Chauncey Billups - Had another boring 21 and 8, controlling the game. Flat out kicking Nelson's ass up and down the floor.

Game 2 Utah @ Houston: Rockets 98, Jazz 90 (2-0)

What is it with all these games with identical scores?

Second verse, same as the first. Utah builds a modest lead in the first half, Houston storms back and overtakes them in the 3rd quarter, never looking back. Once again Chuck Hayes shutdown my homeboy Mehmet Okur. I mean, I'm rooting for Houston, but I'm kind of embarrassed about this series so far as a Turk. This dude was an All-Star and now he's playing like Ersan Ilyasova. Just disgraceful. What have the Rockets figured out about guarding him that the rest of the league couldn't? Crowd him and take away the three? That's it? Like literally 29 other head coaches couldn't come up with that gem?

Consider me befuddled.

Okur is hardly Utah's only concern. The combination of Shane Battier's defense and Jerry Sloan's old school coaching methods have literally driven AK-47 to tears and rendered him useless for the rest of the Utah's short postseason stay. Rafer Alston's tireless energy is giving Deron Willaims fits. About all they had going for them, save for a couple of gutty games from Matt Harpring, was Carlos Boozer treating Yao like a pylon in Game 2 on his way to a playoff high 41 points. Defensively there is nothing more the Jazz can do. They held the Rockets to 36% shooting and only four three pointers. T-Mac and Yao combined for 18 of 53 from the field but salvaged their totals by getting to the line plenty. Unless the Jazz can figure out a way to get Okur going and force Yao to play less than half the games because of foul trouble, they don't have a chance.

I'm aware that it's not in Jeff Van Gundy's nature to be content with life, but I can't imagine a more ideal scenario for the Rockets right now. They're 2-0, playing fabulous defense, and are playing nowhere near as they're capable of offensively. One of these games they'll hit a good clip of their threes and it'll get ugly out there. His two stars look like they're on a mission to get out of the first round and the rest of the club seems willing to do the dirty work on defense and the boards and willing to let Tracy and Yao take all the shots. They don't need a third option right now, not with Okur guarding Yao and Gordan Giricek on T-Mac. They can get by on no ball movement and the two man game. In the next round though, that probably won't work.

The single best move Van Gundy's made, besides putting Hayes on Okur, was essentially kicking Bonzi off the team. The guy is poison. Tracy didn't like him and I very much doubt Yao did either. I think the move brought the team together. I think the Rockets are intent on making a deep run in the playoffs and mindful of the fact that they have an opportunity to really rest up for Dallas if they finish off the Jazz early. This series should go five at the longest, and even a sweep wouldn't surprise me.


A sign that your offense is struggling: When your best play is a fadeaway baseline 18 footer for your power forward over the 7'6" guy.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

3 Stars

3. Yao Ming - 27 points on 24 shots isn't all that special, and Boozer torched him on the other end, but tired out Okur enough on defense to sap his legs on offense.
2. Chuck Hayes - 5 of 5 from the floor, 12 points, 12 rebounds and a thorough clamp job on the Turk. I think he's making himself some money so far.
1. Carlos Boozer - Losing effort or no, 41-12-6 is a monster night. Too bad none of his teammates showed up.

That's all I can manage right now, I'm about to keel over. Gotta drive to school and get my "day" started. I'll probably be home by the end of the 1st quarter for the Spurs. As long as the big three come out angry, we should be fine.