Manu's the Man and the series has some juice
All that Manu’s Hurt stuff sure sounds a tad hollow today, doesn’t it?
|High-fives all around for Manu Ginobili.|
Sitting in the local establishment here in Troy (and you can put Jimmy Buffet’s Land Shark on the list of tasty beverages to try) it was amazing to watch him play like Manu again.
And, thankfully, give that Western Conference final some excitement, if for only a couple of days before Game 4.
We were all afraid – and the fears still linger – that both conference finals would be over in five, a happenstance that would make the expected good series more than boring.
But San Antonio’s Big Three finally showed up at the same time; no idea if they can do it again – I suspect they will in Game 4 – but if they do, that series does have some legs.
The most interesting part was listening to Lamar Odom in a post-game interview. He took full responsibility for the loss because he thought both Kobe and Pau played well. He was up front about it, and it was refreshing to see. Sometimes players have a tendency to shirk responsibility, Odom stood up and took it, despite getting six assists and 11 rebounds. Oh, his 2-for-11 shooting night from the field probably had something to do with it.
Joakim Noah busted on the street of a college town with some booze and a wee bit of dope.
Never saw that coming.
Speaking of that Spurs-Lakers game, Pau Gasol looked like you guarding Tim Duncan for most of the night. I know Duncan may go down as the greatest power forward in NBA history (that’s a pretty good debate, no?) so it’s tough to ask Gasol to handle him but Duncan did exactly what he wanted, when he wanted and how he wanted.
He keeps playing like that and this series is certainly going seven.
Down at the other end of the NBA spectrum, Bryan Colangelo and his merry band of talent evaluators are headed to Orlando today for the pre-draft camp that starts there tomorrow.
About 15 of the top players are invited, mainly to meet, get measured, take physicals and do drills rather than play games, and depending on how the draft actually breaks down, there’s a good chance Toronto’s No. 17 pick will be at the camp.
Talking to Sam last week, he gave no hints of what exactly the Raptors would be looking for and Bryan was equally elusive in a conversation.
As has been mentioned many a time before, there will be players of every ilk available at No.17 – big, little and in between – and I know the braintrust is going into this with very open minds.
You should, too.
Here’s one from the mail
Q: Regardless of whether or not the Spurs are able to get to the Finals this year, (which seems unlikely at this point) do you think they will need to make some significant changes to their aging roster? I think they would be foolish to get rid of any of their starters, so do you think acquiring some younger bench players will be enough to help them stay at the top of the West for the next 3-4 years?
Amanda F, Barrie
A: I do think they’ll have to make very significant changes in the back end of their roster. They are old, very old, compared to teams like the Lakers and even the Jazz. And trotting out Robert Horry, Mike Finley and Jacque Vaughn is not going to get it done.
I also think that if there’s a GM in the league who can do it, R.C. Buford can pull some of the right strings.
Oh, next time you’re complaining about your pay, remember this:
The comely young lass serving us those Land Shark’s last night tells us she makes a grand total of $2.65 an hour. And that’s in stinky U.S. dollars.
Nothing to do with basketball but what the heck.
Talking to Chauncey Billups yesterday and the group conversation gets around to the age of the Celtics, their six straight appearances in the Eastern Conference final (although being 2-3 might be considered under-achieving by some) and the “closing of the window.”
He had an interesting take:
"The window’s always closing, it’s just how much is it closing. I think with our young guys and our bench now, I think that window opened up a lot more for us this year because those guys are able to carry it on and take over games, we played fewer minutes and things like that. It’s always closing on every team, it’s just a matter of how much.”
More mail for our western friends:
Q: Doug, I know that MLSE likes to avoid the West but how could they not take advantage of the economical, geological and promotional prospects in doing training camp and/or pre-seasons in Calgary or Edmonton? World class Olympic athletes from all over the world have been using Banff, Jasper, etc for training for decades and if you just want to get a group of guys in shape you don’t hold training camps at sea level. Oh and did I mention there is money out here untapped by the NBA? Like Toronto Bills pre-season money....
Ryan L, Calgary
A: Yes, but none of those world class athletes are basketball players and a first-class facility – NBA-calibre gym, weight room attached, treatment rooms – is what they’re looking for.
But, the last time I heard about the pre-season schedule for the coming fall, there was a huge possibility of a game in either your city or Edmonton (maybe Vancouver, but I think Alberta’s more likely).
Will try to find out soonest where that game will be played but it was almost a certainty they were coming last time I heard.
Who do you like tonight?
History would suggest the Pistons can come back with a strong effort because they have so many times in the past but I’m not sure they’ve ever had to do it against a team as good as Boston.
And Chauncey’s hamstring and Rasheed’s extended periods of indifference – and his inability to deal with Garnett’s defence – leads me to think the Celtics get this one and it’s the last game of the year at the Palace.
And if it is, the talk around these parts is Flip Saunders is done as Detroit’s coach after a pretty good run. His replacement: All the buzz is that Mike Curry moves over from assistant to head coach.