Links: Sunday Playoff Wrap

by Lang Whitaker

I’m sure Sam will go over more of the nuts and bolts of these games tomorrow in the D.A.Y. I, however, will not be able to read the D.A.Y. at the moment it’s posted because I have jury duty tomorrow. I’ve never had it before. More on that tomorrow, unless I get sequestered.

The guys we have watching each series will give you more detailed notes. Here’s a few random thoughts I jotted down on Sunday…

• I turned into the very beginning of the Cavs/Was Wizards game, because I had a sneaking suspicion that Gilbert Arenas was going to come running out of the locker room totally healthy, that his whole “knee injury” was going to be some elaborate plot Agent Zero cooked up to fool everyone. (And if adidas had been wise to it they could’ve done a series of “Impossible is Nothing” ads based around it.)

But it wasn’t a hoax, so I watched the Braves push the Mets back down into second place instead. As I expected, the Cavs won. I’ll watch their next game.

• Suns/Lakers was a fun one. The first 18 minutes was almost entirely Lakers, and most of that was Kobe, hitting big shots over and over. The Suns looked sloppy on offense and the Lakers played nearly perfectly, with total precision, controlling the tone of the game.

• Ronny Turiaf’s hair made him look like Sho’Nuff.

• According to Mike Breen, Leandro Barbosa showed up to practice on Saturday with a mohawk to win a bet with Shawn Marion. He shaved it before the game. A whole team coming out with mohawks for the Playoffs would be awesome.

• ABC’s theme for the Playoffs is “Will You Be Watching When?” This seems like an awfully reactive ad campaign. Why not say “Will you be watching Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant, two of the best players in the game?” Instead it’s like they’re saying, “You don’t have to watch, but if you don’t you might miss something cool.” They haven’t heard of highlights, I guess.

• Kobe got raw right before the half, hitting four threes to close it out. The final three was particularly telling of the way things were going for the Lakers. The Lakers had come down and run a high pick-and-roll with Kobe and Brian Cook. Kobe was hot, so the Suns doubled Kobe off the screen. Brian Cook popped out, unguarded, and Kobe flipped him the ball. Cook then missed the wide-open jumper.

The next time down, the Lakers ran the same play. The Suns again doubled Kobe. This time, instead of dishing to the open Cook, Kobe dribbled way over to his left and drilled a long three over the double. It was like Kobe said, “You had your chance, dude.”

• I think Jordan Farmar borrowed Reggie Miller’s ears for the Playoffs.

• And not to pile on Farmar, but he’s nowhere near as good as Smush Parker. Right after I wrote that down, Smush checked in and blew his defensive assignment.

• Why did ABC insist on using that camera on a wire, zipping back and forth along the sideline? I’m naming that “Vomit Cam” from now on, because I kept getting seasick when they’d cut to that view.

• Do you think NBA players think referee Leon Wood, who went from being a player to a ref, is a snitch?

• Eventually, the Lakers looked like they just wore down. Kobe got cold, and once that went down, there was nothing for them to fall back on. And thumbs up to Barbosa, who carried the Suns even without a mohawk. He’s the one guy the Lakers really have no answer for at all. Barbosa should’ve worn a straw hat to be Bruce Leroy to Turiaf’s Sho’Nuff. He definitely had that glow.
• Didn’t see a lot of the Spurs/Nuggets. I did hear Doug Collins say more than once that is Robert Horry’s last year in the NBA. This was surprising to me, considering that Horry said a few weeks ago that he might play a few more years.

• I taped G-State/Dallas and watched it after “The Sopranos” and “Entourage.” But the game ran long and I missed most of the fourth quarter. I can’t wait for DVRs to start thinking for themselves and automatically extending its recording time.

• Early on there was a play where Jason Terry kind of tackled Jason Richardson into the stands. The really scary part if you were a Warriors fan must have been the shot of Stephen “Whoo!” Jackson trotting in a few seconds later. The back of his jersey at that moment should have just said “Mayhem.”

• I wrote this down during the second quarter:
Mavs look tired fast. Why not play your own game instead of trying to
run with gstate?
A few minutes later, Barkley nailed this same point on the TNT halftime show. As soon as I saw that Dallas wasn’t starting either Dampier or Diop, I knew trouble was coming. The Warriors play a very specific type of basketball, predicated on chaos and speed. And for some reason, Avery Johnson decided that Dallas could not only play that style of basketball, but they could play it better than Golden State. In retrospect, this was a bad decision. The advantage Dallas has is that they have a lot of guys who are bigger and better than the guys the Warriors have, including Dirk but mostly interior guys like Diop and Dampier. And they took them out of the equation on their own. Avery, you have some explaining to do.

• Watching the Warriors is fun because they have a certain fatalistic edge. I think we can all agree that these Warriors are not going to win the NBA title this season. Calm down Warriors fans — they’re a fun team to watch, but you’re probably not going to win a title with Al Harrington starting at center. Someone will eventually slow them down and pound the ball against them.

So the Warriors are playing for right now. They’ll lose guys in the offseason, and as presently constructed they can continue to fight for a low seed each year and miss the lottery. Right now they’re a kid raging against the NBA machine. But eventually they’ve got to grow up and add some size, which will change the way they play. But for now, enjoy it.

• With that beard and all, can we call Baron Davis “Shaft?”