Go on, top that; I dare ya
|They were rocking in Boston - and Portland - last night.|
Okay, what’s next? Every game goes to overtime? Someone goes off for 60? Buzzer-beaters at every buzzer imaginable?
I don’t know how any night in these playoffs can top last night.
We had another great one in Boston, controversy in Orlando, a brilliant finish but a supposedly too young team in Portland and perhaps the end of an era in San Antonio.
Sure took the stench of Denver-New Orleans away, didn’t it?
Sure, we’re going to watch tonight and probably be entertained; and we’re going to watch for the next 50 or so nights and be equally entertained but I don’t think we’re going to get another night quite like last night.
But we'll try, of course. And we'll try with one of our fun-filled in-game blogs tonight just before 8 for Miami-Atlanta. Had pretty good attendance last night, I hope everyone had fun and you should join us.
And now ...
About Last Night
There he is!
More than a few were wondering when the real Paul Pierce would show up and he did, just in the nick of time.
What he did in the late stages of that superb game last night was just what Finals MVPs are supposed to do, make every big shot he took.
Yes, Rajon Rondo has been spectacular but with Ray Allen fouled out (and those last two fouls were among the cheapest of the night, I contend) the Celtics needed their best player to make huge plays and he did.
For most of the series, I’ve been wondering if something’s wrong with Pierce (and the fact he’s not getting to the free throw line still has me wondering a little bit) but when everyone in the gym knew exactly what he was going to do – drive to the spot just inside the free-throw line, stop, step back and shoot – he did it and made the shots.
I still don’t think this series over by a long shot, I truly expect to be sitting somewhere sipping a beverage on Saturday night but if Pierce doesn’t make those shots, I’m not sure the Bulls wouldn’t have closed it out tomorrow.
How’d you like to be Brad Miller? Talk about your up and down night. He makes three gruesome turnovers in the first quarter (passes that were reminiscent of Bad Oakley) but then hits a huge three, makes a Maravich-like pass a second or two later and then has a chance to tie the game with that layup at the end of OT.
If he was one step quicker and could jump faster, he’d have got to the rim and dunked but all he could do was take a terrific shot to the chops for a foul and then blow the first free throw.
Tough, tough evening.
He’s got to sit
How’s “starting centre Marcin Gortat” sound to you Orlando fans?
I know Dwight Howard had a monster Game 5 against Philadelphia, his best of the series by far, but if he’s in uniform for Game 6, I’ll be shocked.
Check this out:
If Stu Jackson doesn’t get a whiff that video and hit Howard with a one-game suspension, it will just feed into the theory that stars get preferential treatment, especially come playoff time.
That’s as premeditated and dangerous a shot as you’re going to see; if Howard hit him flush, he might have killed the quasi-Canadian.
And I know there’s precedent – by the NBA’s vice-president of discipline – because I saw it first-hand.
Back in ’01, in that Sixers-Bucks Eastern Final that Toronto could very well have been in, Stu suspended Milwaukee’s Scott Williams for Game 6 for a shot he took at Allen Iverson in Game 6, a shot that I don’t think even was called a flagrant foul or a technical in the game.
I love Dwight Howard, he’s a nice, funny, good guy but he can’t get away with that crap.
So this is what the end of a dynasty looks like.
I was kind of happy to see Tim Duncan, playing on about a leg and a half, go out blazing (what did he hit? His last nine shots in a row or something stupid like that?) and Tony Parker was great but watching San Antonio bow meekly to Dallas made me wonder if one of the best runs of the modern era in the NBA is over.
No one knows for sure how Manu Ginobili’s going to come back (that ankle problem’s been around in some form for more than a year) and it’s quite clear that the likes of Imre Udoka and local favourites Matt Bonner and Roger Mason Jr. were just not ready for the big-time this year.
The Spurs were always able to surround their stars with great role players, guys found late in the draft or late in their careers, but I’m not sure they’ve got the pieces in place now to keep up their phenomenal run.
Here’s what the folks were writing in the Express-News today.
How big are fans?
I don’t know about you, but as I was flipping between the demise of the Spurs and the delight of the Blazers last night, I got to Portland in time for that devastating game-ending fourth quarter run and all I could think was that my opinion that Rose Garden fans are the best in the game was being validated.
Sure, the Blazers made shots and played their best defence of the series in that fourth quarter but anyone who doesn’t think the adrenaline rush provided by full-throated fans is huge would be proved dead wrong.
I’m not sure Portland can play with the same emotion in Houston tomorrow but I wouldn’t count them out.
The one big strategic move: Starting my fave Rudy Fernandez over Nicolas Batum in the second half. What it does is put another scorer on the floor that Houston has to deal with, occupying a defender who could go over and help on Brandon Roy.
I presume Nate McMillan stays with that new starting five tomorrow night; just as I assume Rick Adelman will come up with some counter.
I know Chicago-Boston has been full of drama and great games but for my money, the last four games of the Portland-Houston series have been just as, if not more than, compelling.
It’s going to make for a delightful Thursday night, I hope.
On to other, more mundane, matters
Let’s clear up one Raptor misperception that might be floating around out there today.
The surgery Jose Calderon had yesterday on his finger – and I’m told he’s home and recuperating already – will have nothing whatsoever to do with any plans he has to not play or to play for Spain later this summer.
The European championships don’t begin until the week after Labour Day (Sept. 7, I believe) and serious preparation won’t begin until late July or early August. Even using the outside timeframe of eight weeks for his recovery, that’s still more than enough to time to play, if he wants.
Now, from private conversations I had with him to what he said the day after the season ended to the thinly-veiled suggestion that Bryan’s told him the Raptors would rather he sit out, I am virtually certain he won’t play.
But, it will be because he’s played for Spain for far more than a decade and would like a summer off; not because of surgery on the ring finger on his non-shooting hand.
You know the really bad news yesterday?
Jamario Moon having season-ending surgery on a sports hernia.
For a guy without a guaranteed contract for next year – and a guy who has really been up and down for this entire season – the uncertainty has to be a terrible feeling.
Now, I’m sure there’s enough time for him to be operated on and fully recover before he’d have to get into the gym in the summer but I wonder what teams are going to offer him, knowing he’s coming off surgery.
I always thought the very best he’d get on the market this year was a two-year deal with the second not fully-guaranteed (and I even wondered if there’d be a full guarantee on the first) but this is going to end up costing him some money, I’d presume.
And he’s a good guy who probably deserves better.
Maybe he’s like Leon Powe in Boston, another free agent whose season ended with an operation; maybe the Heat will do right by him like I expect the Celtics to do right by Powe and offer him a contract.
I sure hope so.
This is old, and a wee bit late but Wayne Parrish and the folks at Canada Basketball have reason to be proud.
And since summer is approaching so, too, is international basketball season and it’s a big, big, big one for the people here.
The men and women senior teams have to qualify for next year’s world championships – and if they don’t, it means a disaster for both programs – but there is some good news. The men’s and women’s under-19 teams have both already qualified for the worlds so there will be some good stuff to report on as they prepare and play.
Plus, it’ll give me something to do in the NBA downtime.