On the same night, the Sabres and the Suns win. Fittingly, both teams rely on speed and finesse (although those were some pretty hefty hits being thrown out by Buffalo and Tim Thomas had a good, hard playoff foul on Jason Terry).
Something to hope for in about a month or so: Victory parades in Buffalo, and in Phoenix. Inaugural titles, in both cases, which maintains pro sports' grand illusion that this is all an equal contest -- but also victories for a style of play in leagues that have for most of the past 15 years favoured brawn, sleepy tempos, control-freak coaches and systems and stifling, mugging defence.
The Flyers are gone. The Minnesota Wild, the Devils and Jeff Van Gundy are gone. If Pat Riley gets knocked out at this hurdle, it'll be just about perfect, at least on this side of the Atlantic, with the World Cup still to come.
More from last night: Steve Nash, taking over. Ten points in the last 3 1/2 minutes, getting the superstar MVP's call from ref Joe Forte as he was sticking his right arm on Devin Harris's hip, delivering the winning pass to Boris Diaw on a screen/roll that went down as smooth as maple syrup (except for Diaw taking steps, that is, and no surprise given how wide open the lane was). Henry Abbott notes:
Credit the entire Phoenix Suns organization with organizing what we saw last night. But especially credit Steve Nash and Mike D'Antoni for creating an operating environment that seems to make all kinds of different players play the best basketball of their careers. Seriously, Steve Nash, Mike D'Antoni and nine Raja Bells (or Shawn Marions or Boris Diaws or Leandro Barbosas) would have a shot against just about anyone.
And here's a mock draft, the last one I'll post for a while, but worth noting from Inside Hoops's Jeff Lenchiner, who is definitely inside and worth a look:
1. Toronto LaMarcus Aldridge (Texas, 6-10, 240, PF, So.)
2. Chicago (via New York) Tyrus Thomas (LSU, 6-9, 229, PF, Fr.)
3. Charlotte Adam Morrison (Gonzaga, 6-8, 205, SF, Jr.)
4. Portland Brandon Roy (Washington, 6-5, 195, SG, Sr.)
5. Atlanta Hawks Andrea Bargnani (Italy, 7-0, 225, PF, 20)
6. Minnesota Rudy Gay (UConn, 6-9, 222, SF, So.)