A rather predictable night, all told
Oh, sorry, just woke up. Were there playoff games last night?
Right, there were. Entirely boring, no? Kind of predictable, too?
But tonight? Tonight might be a doozy. The only thing I fear is that, eventually, one of these six teams is going to have one of those nights where nothing goes right and they get killed. So far it hasn’t happened but you wonder how long a young team like Chicago or Portland or even Philly can keep the intensity up.
One more night, we hope. And we’ll be here (or maybe in some local establishment depending on whether I win the Survivor vs. “Not Another Night of Basketball” discussion concerning the big TV. But I digress. From wherever I am, we’ll start just before 7 and see how the night unfolds.
And now, ta-da!
About Last Night
A game of attrition
|Do you really think he's going to take this lying down?|
Wade’s hurt, O’Neal gets hurt, Moon’s had an operation, the Miami Heat bench makes Toronto’s look like the second coming of John Havlicek and Vinny Johnson and all I can think of is: Why is anyone surprised that Atlanta won easily.
I don’t know if the Heat can summon enough energy to win at home tomorrow (I think they’ve got a good chance to get the game at the slow pace they prefer) but I’m also not sure about Atlanta’s ability (with its youth and precociousness and, yes, immaturity) to close out a series on the road.
I don’t know Wade all that well personally but I have heard enough about his personality that getting blown out in Game 6 and watching the Hawks dunk up 20 or so in the final three minutes is going to tick him off incredibly.
And even if his back’s sore, I can see him getting 35 in a Miami win.
What to do in Denver when you're not dead
No one knows how much money the Nuggets are going to make from hosting more playoff games but whatever it is, the owners ought to give half – at least – to Chauncey Billups.
I didn’t watch much of another dismantling of the woeful Hornets last night (one car wreck of a game in a single series is enough for me) but trying to say with clarity what Billups has meant to the Nuggets is nearly impossible.
This is a team of excitable players to say the least, of J.R. Smiths and Kenyon Martins and Carmelo Anthonys and a coach who seems to invite confrontation every now and then but every time they even think about sliding off the rails, he comes the calm hand of Chauncey to settle them down.
Their whole manner during the New Orleans series was that of a team simply taking care of business. They had some flash but they also had a quiet confidence that came from their leader.
There was a good reason the Nuggets hadn’t been out of the first round in eons, they weren’t grown up enough to succeed. Now, they are.
A Denver-Dallas series, with Billups vs. Kidd has got to be a good one.
What now, Hornets?
Remember a year ago? Everyone loved New Orleans. Chris Paul was a serious MVP candidate, David West was going to be a perennial all-star, Tyson Chandler dunked every time he touched the ball and it was Mardi Gras all the time.
Now? Not so much and I can see big change coming.
Byron Scott’s coaching tenure is in question – but having a year left on his deal could get him into next season; they’ve already tried to deal Chandler away – a pure salary dump that they’ll likely re-visit this summer; and I guarantee you Paul is having second thoughts about his long-term future in New Orleans.
Things can change rather quickly, no? Here’s how they buried the Hornets in the paper today.
Okay, before we get to anything too NBA-centric, you have to check out Randy Starkman's Olympic blog right here.
A bunch of you will remember this kid from halftime of Raptors games this year, a bunch of you will come away pretty impressed, I say.
What’s coming up? Maybe a quiet night or two.
After tonight’s three games (Boston-Chicago, Portland-Houston at 7 on The Score and Orlando-Philly at 7:30 on
The Score RaptorsTV) there’s only one game tomorrow, thanks to Denver. It’ll be Game 6 of Miami-Atlanta at 8 p.m. on RaptorsTV).
Saturday has endless possibilities, though. There could be three Game 7s depending on what happens tonight or there might be nothing if all the series end tonight.
Sunday’s got a 1 p.m. doubleheader, either Game 1 of Cleveland-Atlanta or Game 7 of Atlanta-Miami followed by Denver-Dallas.
Nothing in a Laker vs. Portland-Houston western semi or a Boston-Chicago vs. Orlando-Philly eastern semi until Monday night, regardless of what happens tonight.
Plan your lives accordingly.
So, Dwight Howard gets the one-game suspension we all figured he would and it leaves just one question:
What if the refs hadn’t blown the original call? If they’d got it right and either assessed him a Flagrant 1 and then upgraded it to a Flagrant 2 and thrown him out when he took the shot at Dalembert, how would that have changed Game 5.
Well, considering Howard went on to get 24 and 24 and dominate, I think you could make the case that Philly might be going home leading 3-2 instead of trailing.
And we’d be thinking a whole lot different about the series, wouldn’t we?
Simple question, simple answer from a rather (at the moment) barebones mailbag:
Q: Hey Doug, here's a simple one for you. After the first round, the NHL re-seeds the remaining teams. But the NBA does a bracket system like the NCAA tournament. I think they are the only league that doesn't re-seed after the first round. Should the NBA start re-seeding teams?
Simon S-G, Toronto
First off, if a No. 8 seed upsets a No. 1 seed, I think a case can be made that they deserve some kind of “reward” of meeting the 4 or 5 instead of the two.
And, since I’m an inveterate TV watcher for the first series and at least the start of the second, I love the fact one series blends into the next, there always seems to be a doubleheader every night and there aren’t long stretches of days without games.
Speaking of the Raptors (oh, wait, there’s nothing to speak of about them, is there?), the big shots are over in Berlin for the EuroLeague Final Four that goes tomorrow and Sunday.
We’ll have lots more on this here tomorrow (I’ve got to have some conversations with people who know more about than I do) but you can watch it if you like.
RaptorsTV will tape-delay tomorrow’s semifinals and show them Saturday starting at noon and Sunday’s championship game will be shown Monday.
(Why do I feel like a TV Guide today?).
I somehow get the feeling that Ben Gordon, he of the sore hamstring, is being treated as a cross between Willis Reed and Wheelchair Paul Pierce. But it even took a backseat to the fallout from Game 5 asK.C. scribbled today.
Here’s the difference between Brad Miller and Erick Dampier.
The Dallas centre, as we all recall, went very public – very stupidly – with thinly-veiled threats about knocking down San Antonio’s Tony Parker and got himself in a wee bit of hot water with the big poobahs at NBA Central. Silly idea.
Miller, on the other hand, hasn’t said anything about Rajon Rondo and I can only think actions will speak louder than words tonight.
Speaking of Rondo, in Boston they were wondering what all the fuss was about with him slapping Miller in the head on that final drive the other night.
What the heck, let’s finish off with a Raptor question:
Q: I know you do not always like speculating on players and where they may go and not go, but I am very curious about Raymond Felton. Do the Raps have any interest? And if so, what would it take to get him here? And if not the Raps, do you see him staying or going off somewhere else?
Zack B, Kuwait City
A: At the right price, I’m sure the Raptors, and likely a dozen or so other teams, would have interest in Felton. However, I’m not sure what that price is. I don’t see, however, how he fits in Charlotte and he may be one of those bargain free agents teams can pick up on the relative cheap this summer.