With apologies to the three games yet to be played tonight, which are all in the 1-0 stage, these have been amazing playoffs so far, full of intrigue! Yes, intrigue! The 2-0 hole that five teams face means that do or die games are coming for them. Let’s take a look…
San Antonio-Phoenix. Game one was a classic that people are already putting on an all-time pedestal. It was a good game. The bitter rivalry between the teams and the way their series was altered by controversy last year, it was nice to see them start with a classic. The clutch shot-making down the stretch was otherworldy. Tim Duncan hitting a three? Steve Nash catching the ball and drifting 4 or 5 steps before flinging a three of his own? Finley? Shaq’s putback? Amare’s and-1? Manu? There was a Pacers-Magic playoff game once where four guys hit “the big shot” in the span of 30 seconds. I believe it went Brian Shaw, Reggie Miller, Penny, Rik Smits. Game one of Spurs-Suns was better. Game two just meant that the Suns are now heading home, extremely desperate. One thing to look out for… Shaquille O’Neal is a great champion… and a horrible loser. How many times has his team been swept out of the playoffs? I can think of at least four off the top of my head.
Cleveland-Washington. Heading in, the Wizards were being annoying with their false bravado chatter. Deshawn Stevenson reminds me of this guy I know from St. Louis who told me he didn’t care if the Rams lost the Super Bowl, they still had the best team. You could not argue logically with him. I hate him. Anyways, there is the controversial ejection of Haywood, the talk about LeBron getting the superstar treatment, and lots of hatred between the teams which is what you want in a playoff series. I’m sure the Wizards fans will be tough on LeBron down in D.C., but he’s been playing his best ball in hostile environments this season, so get ready for another 50-10 game.
Utah-Houston. Not the prettiest series, and it may have been decided by a flop, but the outpouring of sympathy for T-Mac has been nice. In a world where you are judged by wins and losses, performance and salary, it is just different to see fans responding with emotional support. But hey, the series isn’t over, they are heading back to Utah where the Jazz have lost 4 games this season um, yeah my condolences Tracy.
New Orleans-Dallas. Chris Paul! Orlando-Toronto. Dwight Howard! There’s really nothing more to add here. It’s just awesome to see young players reaching the playoff stage and making it their personal space. It’s year two for Dwight but he’s had back to back 20-20 games which is beyond preposterous. Chris Paul, you’ve seen the numbers, the humiliation of the artist formerly known as Jason Kidd. I don’t need to add to the gushing praise. What can you say? He’s playing point guard better than humanly possible.
A few months ago for my “Which NBA Player Are You” for the magazine, I was ready to go with Chris Paul=Obama. The main premise being, that they are both fresh faces expected to win on the big stage despite very little experience. The thing was, we didn’t know how far Chris Paul’s team would be at that point, whereas Obama was nearly a shoe-in, but Ben decided we should hold off on that. As you know from last night, somehow Chris has surpassed Obama in terms of domination and media darlingness, since Obama is still in a dogfight.
I went with Nate Robinson=Bushwick Bill for that “Which NBA Player Are You.” It was a proud moment for me.
The other three series tonight…you have to expect the Pistons to make it 1-1, but the other two could easily go to 2-0. So, I expect there to be SEVEN do-or-die game threes. That is sick.