Wasn't that an uneventful evening?
|STEVE C. WILSON/AP|
|All Jazzed up for this one.|
Talk about your bitter disappointments. Hands up everyone who was all pumped up for the games last night? Figured Chicago would give the Celtics another run, Dallas-San Antonio could have been a bloodbath and Lakers were going to continue their inexorable run to the conference title.
Dogs, weren’t they? Ugly mutt dogs of games; at least two of the three and the other was too late.
But, stuff still happened …
About Last Night
Who were those guys?
With apologies to Rudy Tomjanovich, about all I could think after watching that Bulls demolition was:
“Never over-estimate the heart of a young team.”
Seriously, the Bulls we saw in Game 3 were entirely reminiscent of the group that gave token resistance when being drilled by the Raptors on the last night of the regular season and no resemblance whatsoever to the team that played so well in the first two games against Boston.
Well, how many times have you seen things set up so perfectly – huge, emotional crowd; an award presentation before the game to get everyone pumped up even more; so much at stake – and end so badly? Seems to happen a lot, especially to teams that haven’t been in that situation before.
Chicago came out tentatively, looked like they were playing scared and once the Celtics got a whiff of blood in the water, they struck.
I can’t say for sure what’s going to happen Sunday in Game 4 but I will say this: The first eight minutes of that game are the most important eight minutes of the season for the Bulls. If they get far behind again, the game – and the series – are over.
And they know it, as K.C. Johnson tells Chicago Trib readers. And you.
A Gamblin’ Man
Rick Carlisle sure doesn’t look the part but his riverboat gambler imitation may have salvaged a series for the Dallas Mavericks.
J.J. Barea starting ahead of Antoine Wright? Small for big? Gutsy move.
Sure paid off, didn’t it? Wright had no chance guarding Tony Parker (and he had to because Jason Kidd had even less of a chance) and that’s when Carlisle came upon his stroke of relative genius.
The rationale is spelled out pretty clearly here by my good friend Eddie Cefko in the Dallas Morning News.
Now, that said, I think this series may still have some juice. Gregg Popovich is no slouch as a coach and I figure he’s got a counter to the counter that he’ll trot out in Game 4. And he has to because if the Spurs don’t get Parker going, this one’s over and a big upset.
Yes, that was Paul Pierce having an exceptional game for the Celtics last night and wasn’t about time?
He had been okay in Game 2, choked incredibly with the missed game-winning free throw at the end of Game 1 and hadn’t comported himself as a Finals MVP at any point., But last night he took over early and put the Bulls in their place.
I’ve always held that Kevin Garnett is Boston’s best and most important player, despite Pierce’s gaudy offensive numbers, and with KG out, it had to fall to Pierce to carry the team. He didn’t in the first two games so I imagine his teammates and coaches were glad he finally arrived.
All Jazzed up
I didn’t get to see much of the Lakers-Jazz game (the creaky old body doesn’t do 10:30 p.m. starts so well) but what I did see was just what I expected: A hyped up Utah team being carried along by a home crowd over a Laker team that’s going to have to get mentally tougher as the post-season progresses.
Of course, Deron Williams kind of busting a play (the Jazz don’t like a lot of shots off the high screen and roll) to hit the game-winner certainly helps.
Oh, and the atrocious shooting of Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum had a lot to do with the result, which still makes me think the Lakers win in five.
There is no way Kobe goes 5-for-24 or somesuch for two games in a row and there’s no way the Jazz get the same emotional boost in Game 4 that they got in Game 3.
This one was entirely predictable.
One from the mail to clear up a misconception:
Q: You talked about Atlanta and Miami's different strengths, one runs one does not. In the playoffs historically teams that run don't win. Can you think of a team that was a running team that has won an NBA title? And if this style isn't the best for the postseason, why do general managers continue to build teams that want to run. (umm BC with the Raptors)
Mario A, Toronto
A: I think we need to find new words.
I know a lot of people think on the Phoenix Suns whenever one of us talks about “running” when that couldn’t be further from the truth and, actually, not what some of say.
What some of us say is that the Hawks like to play fast and get out in transition because that best suits their talents.
But what good teams do – really good teams – is try to score in transition because that’s the best way to get easy baskets in the playoffs (in any game, actually) but also have a halfcourt offence to fall back on.
Look at Cleveland? If they run (er, I mean get out in transition) they can dominate but they can also win in halfcourt games).
Look at Los Angeles? Same thing. Kobe, Ariza, Odom. All capable in the open court, all deadly when the game slows.
So it’s not one, it’s not the other (and it’s certainly not Seven Seconds Or Less); it’s just smart basketball.
And the style is best suited for any team.
You saw this about TSN2 and the Jays, right? Rather sneaking dumping the Red Sox series onto that station I can’t see and while everyone’s sounding like, and hoping that, this is the impetus to get a deal done, I refuse to believe anyone involved in this despicable issue until I can actually hit the clicker here and see TSN2.
Hope no one came here expecting Raptor news.
Talked to a general manager and an interim head coach yesterday and both were chilling doing family stuff, as well they should in the week immediately following a long, hard season.
If I had to guess, and this is a total supposition based on timing issues, I think it’s the week after next that we get final resolution to the coaching situation and I continue to fully expect Jay gets the gig.
The process is unfolding as it does, not quick enough for some I’m sure, but don’t get all worked up, it’ll all get worked out.
One name you’re not going to hear for at least five or six weeks, though, is Rasho Nesterovic.
The big fella’s back in Toronto but he’s still under contract to the Indiana Pacers until July 1 and no one connected with the Raptors dare speak his name publicly lest tampering issues develop.
But, trust me on this, he’s very much in the mix.
Now, I’ve got a backyard and deck that are just crying out for some work (gotta have somewhere for the folks to sit at the inaugural nice-weather barbecue tomorrow) so that’s it for now.
In my little mind, I’ve come to deserve a couple nights of respite so we’re going to give the in-game blog a rest until Game 4 of Portland-Houston on Sunday night. I’ll still be watching but I won’t be chatting; the computer will be on but only so I can knock off the mailbag.
See you sometime on the weekend.