Sorry, long time no write. Playoff games, the NFL draft (I HATED the Eagles draft, I can't state this strongly enough) and a looooooong IM chat with the girlfriend all contributed to me getting no writing done the past two days. I've been lazy.
So here's me trying, like Sisyphus, to futilely catch-up on the un-catch-up-able. No time to do anything fancy like pictures, (believe it or not, that stuff takes me the longest time) and as a big time saver, I won't be including any um... jokes. You can debate amongst yourselves if that's a bad thing or not.
Game 3 Detroit @ Orlando: Pistons 93, Magic 77 (3-0)
So I was wrong. Dwight Howard showed nothing. Grant Hill sucked out loud. The less said about Hedo Turkoglu, the better. Outside of Jameer Nelson, no one showed up for them. The Pistons once again showed that they don't need a bench to win a playoff game against a scrub team. All their starters finished in double figures - again. It's kind of embarrassing how the top seed in one conference gets to breeze through the first round because the competition is so lacking while the other conference's top seeds have to battle their guts out. The Clips would've given the Pistons a better series. Game 4 should be a mere formality. If Detroit was going to slip for a game, this had to be the one. Looks like the engineer was right...
3. Chauncey Billups - 21 pts on 8 of 13, hardly breaking a sweat out there.
2. Jameer Nelson - 27 on 10 of 19. Too little, too late.
1. Tayshaun Prince - "The Tay-tay" (I hate that nickname, btw) had a big night, with 23-7-5, three steals and a total shut down of Hill or Turkoglu or whoever the hell he happened to be guarding. As if I watched...
Game 3 Phoenix @ Los Angeles: Lakers 95, Suns 89 (2-1)
Weird result here, dude. All I recall watching is the first six minutes, when the Suns got out to an 11-0 start on their way to a 17 point lead; and the final six minutes when the Lakers gutted out a huge win thanks to great defense and a few big buckets from The Colorado Casanova.
Just looking at the box score, it appears that Jackson took D'Antoni over a stool and went to town on him. How could the Suns play at such a slow pace? Normally I love to go on and on about assists, but in Phoenix's case, they're damning here. They had 30 helpers on their 36 baskets. That tells me that they got nothing easy, nothing in transition, and Marion's shitty night (10 and 4 in 44 minutes) is an even bigger clue there. Also, they got murdered on the glass, giving up 19 offensive rebounds to the Lakers. One would think that the fast breaks would come quite easy if the Lakers are crashing for second chances that hard. One would think.
The Suns probably just got overconfident. Not only did they blow the Lakers out in Game 2 but they ran off to such a big lead early. They probably just relaxed a little bit and could never turn the switch back on when it became a game again. Odom dominated on the boards and Raja didn't have a lot of success or help with Kobe. The Lakers got the one game we knew they would. Now the question is whether they'll get another.
3. Kwame Brown - I'm as surprised as you are. 19 points on 8 of 14. The Suns are soft, soft, soft.
2. Lamar Odom - The 18 points you expect, the 16 rebounds you don't.
1. Kobe Bryant - 45 (on just 26 shots), 6 and 6. One of those unstoppable nights...
Game 3 Houston @ Utah: Jazz 81, Rockets 67 (2-1)
Yuck and poo. Look, I like defense as much as the next guy, but this game was just atrocious. NOBODY plays defense this well. These guys just flat out couldn't shoot. This takes me back to the dark days of turn of the millennium NBA when those 75-69 games were common, especially east of the Mississippi. Just wretched and unwatchable. You're not supposed to win a basketball game by two touchdowns, shooting below 39%.
The Jazz had two guys shoot above 50% and they were, predictably, Carlos Boozer (10-18) and rookie PF Paul Millsap (4-4). My countryman Mehmet Okur still sucked it up and both Deron Williams and Derek Fisher were miserable as well. And this was the winning team.
For the Rockets, NOBODY shot 50% (Yao's 6-14 was the closest) and only four guys even scored at all, a playoff record for team wide futility. Ze Bench contributed literally nothing (I'm guessing that tied a record) and I know for a fact that all five of Juwan Howard's bricks were wide open jumpers from inside 15 feet. Putting up only 64 attempts didn't help them any, but that's all they got thanks to 19 turnovers (8 on Yao alone).
Oddly they shot almost as poorly from inside the 3 point line (15 of 45, 33%) as behind it (6 of 19, 31.6%). I did the math and while it wouldn't have brought the Rockets victory if all 64 field goal attempts were threes, it would have given them, theoretically at the pace they were on, 79 points for the game, so that would have been more interesting and something to talk about on the blogosphere the next day. Maybe if they have Yao shoot inside and have everyone else take just threes, that'd work.
I'm available for any consulting work if any coaches out there are interested.
3. Paul Millsap - Perfect from the floor and a +13 in 14 minutes.
2. Yao Ming - I literally can't find anyone else. 26 and 14 and... 8 turnovers. Almost a triple double! I'll blame his follies on crappy teammates that can't shoot.
1. Carlos Boozer - Has been the best player of the series thus far, which is a tremendous upset. And upsetting.
Game 3 Toronto @ New Jersey: Nets 102, Raptors 89 (1-2)
Yup, I blew this one. The Raptors have no chance. They're not ready yet and when Garbajosa hurt his leg and Bargnani had his medical problem they were done. What was I thinking? I blame my hatred of New Jersey's big three and my biased love of foreign players. I'm a big dope.
The Nets big three are a lot like our big three, except that none of them are similar to our guys in any way. Tim Duncan got a degree in psychology in four years from Wake Forest, _ason Kidd needed seven tries to crack 700 on the SAT to even get in to Berkeley, where he mumbled his way through two years before skipping to the riches of the NBA. The comparisons get only more unflattering from there, so I'll just stop now. I think Kidd's son already has a bigger head than Tony though.
The one thing that ties their big three and our big three together however, is that just like you could pencil in a W when all of our guys show up, you can do the same for the Nets. Kidd had a monster night 16-16-19 (holy fuck!) and the last time any NBAer managed a triple 15 in the playoffs, it was the immortal Fat Lever. And before him, some dude named Wilt Somethingorother. Even Magic or Oscar Robertson never did it. Jesus.
Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson, the Chevy Chase and Martin Short to Kidd's Steve Martin, were the main beneficiaries of his genius, combining for 55 points on 34 shots. Not much else has to be said.
For T-dot, both Chris Bosh (and more predictably) Anthony Parker ran out of steam and Jose Calderon's 6 of 6 night from the field was offset by his six turnovers. T.J. Ford had a great night, but it paled in comparison to Kidd's. Sam Mitchell should hand back his Coach of the Year trophy for playing Joey Graham 13 minutes. He's fucking terrible. 0-4 and -16. Ugh. Play Mo-Pete more.
3. T.J. Ford - 27 and 8 as a historical footnote.
2. Vince Carter - He can't suck every game. 37 points on 23 shots.
1. Jason Kidd - 1st star doesn't really do him justice. He should get all three.
Game 3 Chicago @ Miami: Bulls 104, Heat 96 (3-0)
A stunner. I can't believe this series will end so quickly. And to lose at home by getting outscored 32-20 in the final quarter, well that's the ultimate insult. Miami has nobody to blame but themselves. The refs gave them plenty of help, with 35 attempts at the line, but the zebras can't MAKE the shots for you. 16 for 35 the stripe is criminal. From Shaq ("I make them when they count") O'Neal you've come to expect the 3 of 12, he's a loser and a fraud. But D-Wade going 4 of 10? Unbelievable.
Even more unbelievable was the Bulls getting 37 attempts of their own, and unlike Miami, they knew what to do with them, hitting 29. They're simply too young and fast for the geriatric Heat and in many cases Miami had no choice but to foul what must have looked like little red Corvettes and Ferrari's whizzing by them. After Game 2 I said that there's no way any team can beat Chicago if you allow their starting five (not the best shooting bunch) to combine for 86, and here they got 90. The trio of Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and Ben Gordon, an up-and-coming big three in their own right, got 71 between them. The Bulls are looking fuckin' scary.
R.I.P. Miami. I'm glad y'all beat Dallas, but I never enjoyed rooting for any of you, not even for a second. You guys are the biggest fraud champions ever and the only reason you even won last year is because a) Dallas got all the calls vs. the Spurs in Games 3 and 4, b) The Pistons' hearts weren't in it anymore once we got eliminated, and c) Stern exerted his will once Mark Cuban acted like an ungrateful dick on Letterman after Game 2. Luckiest, most undeserving champions EVER and this series showed it. I feel sick to my stomach that Antoine Walker got a ring and that O'Neal got his 4th when he got outplayed by Erick Dampier. If there's any justice in the world, Duncan will kick his ass in front of the whole world next year when they're both chasing their 5th.
Alas, there is no justice, Miami won't sniff a title anytime soon and O'Neal is done.
3. Dwyane Wade - I'll cut him some slack, 28-9-5 and he is playing on a bum shoulder.
2. Kirk Hinrich - 22 and 6, giving Wade fits defensively, playing better and better as the series goes along.
1. Luol Deng - 24 and 11, Miami has no answers for him. He's been the difference.
Game 3 Dallas @ Golden State: Warriors 109, Mavericks 91 (1-2)
And it wasn't as close as the score indicates. Speaking of starting fives who can score a lot, the Warriors quintet combined for 94. Jason Richardson led the way with 30 and the Baron added 24. Honestly, I expected the W's to get this game before it started. I'm from there, I know what their crowd is like, I know depressed the Bay Area has been about the Warriors' 13 year playoff drought. I'm telling you, their situation is literally as close as we can get to the movie Major League in real life.
And Dallas is the motherfuckin' Yankees.
(Without the rings, of course).
Game 3 was a formality all the way. The crowd would be too into it, too excited, and there's no way Davis & company were going to let them down. Once I saw that Nelson made the smart move to go back to Andris Biedrins in the starting line-up over the uber-struggling Al Harrington, it was over before it began. The Warriors are a buzzsaw right now unless you have a low post demon like Timmy to mess their scrambling defense up, and _irk isn't Timmy, no matter how many bullshit campaigns AJ or Cuban want to start for him. He's just a 7 foot dude who can shoot well from 20 feet.
Even DeSagana Diop (-13 in 17 mins) was no answer this time. However, he's still been far and away the best +- guy of any Maverick through three games, at +19. The Big Bug is next highest, with -1. Nowitzki, who was third in the league in +- stands at -14. Devin Harris led the league in +/- per minute this season and he's a team worst -29. He was a team worst -22 in 23 minutes today and had no clue as to what to do with Davis. So much for that "best defensive PG in the league" rubbish, eh?
For the Warriors, Biedrins had a double-double, damn near everyone played well, and they got lay-ups with impunity, as Dallas played small most of the way. I don't know why Johnson started Dampier over Diop and I don't care, but I'm glad he did. That line-up didn't work for six minutes, then he tried Diop for the next six, and after a weak 1st quarter for both, The Little General went small pretty much the rest of the way, with predictable results. The Warriors outrebounded Dallas 46-44 and if they do that they're gonna win this series folks.
I think the winner of Game 4 wins the series and it should be a real entertaining battle. Game 3 is the toughest one for a heavy favorite to win because the underdog fans are excited to see a home playoff game and the refs are heavily influenced. In Games 4 and 6, the fans and zebras settle down and it becomes more neutral and relaxed for the road team. Hopefully Jessica Alba's fine booty
will inspire the Warriors once more.
3. Stephen Jackson - 16, 8 and 6, doing a masterful job on Dirk.
2. Baron Davis - 24 and 5, mercilessly abusing Harris and Jet.
1. Jason Richardson - Finally got himself going this series, took it to the hole strong and was practically unguardable. The only bad shots he takes are the ones he allows himself to take.
Ooohkay, six more down, only eight behind. I will endeavor to get the Spurs Game 3 recap/Game 4 preview before the game starts.