How in the world can they top that
|NAM Y. HUH/AP|
|Who else is exhausted after last night?|
Take Game 7 and throw it away, don’t even play it. Never mind who wins. Who cares? After all that the Celtics and Bulls have given us – six compelling games, two with single overtime, one with double-overtime and that one-for-the-ages triple-overtime gem last night – what can we ask of them in Game 7?
Can Ray Allen go for 70? Do you think Joakim Noah will ever do anything more dramatic that make a steal and then out-race Paul Pierce 55 feet for the game winning dunk, foul and free throw? Think Derrick Rose makes a more important defensive play ever than the block he had on Rondo? I swear, the kid smiled! Is Brad Miller, making clutch free throws and three-pointers, ever going to feel any better?
This has been the single most exciting series I can remember and two ask two exhausted teams to find some way to top it off in Game 7? Ridiculous.
So blow it off, let them spend Saturday night watching video of Games 1-6; let Cleveland and Orlando play for the East and the Lakers and someone play for the West and then let two teams play in the Finals but when it comes time to hand out the trophy? Make sure there are two other teams on the court.
Of course, I’m not being serious because now I’m really looking forward to a Saturday night Game 7 and the resulting hilarity on the in-game blog but I’m also fully expecting a rather drab affair. After all, you can ask for great every night, can you?
You know who you’ve got to thank for all this, don’t you? The Raptors.
If they don’t drill Chicago on the last night of the regular season, the Bulls don’t finish seventh and none of this happens.
Dare I say that’s another reason not to tank.
About last night
Not perfect, just dramatic
You know what added to the excitement in Chicago? Just enough mistakes to make us feel the guys playing – with perhaps the exception of Ray Allen – were human.
You had Derrick Rose looking like a scared rookie in the overtimes (and who could blame him), reluctant to drive, tentative with the ball.
You had Rajon Rondo losing his mind – and his game – early with some sort of wacky Classy Freddie Blassy arm-drag takedown attempt on Kirk Hinrich.
Paul Pierce must have zoned out for a minute because the foul he committed on Noah on that steal-drive-game-breaking-play was the single silliest foul I’ve seen in eons.
Maybe the next time Ray Allen, who had barely missed a shot all night, catches it beyond the three-point line with his team down three and about eight seconds left in the game and starts dribbling, some sane-thinking Bull will come off the bench and grab him around the waist because Vinny Del Negro seems to have forgotten that strategy.
Maybe next time, Hinrich will make that layup that would have sealed the deal instead of adding to the already incredible angst around the finish.
It was far from perfect, which made it more compelling.
One quick question
Who do you think Tracy McGrady’s betting on in the Houston-Laker series that starts Monday night?
Didn’t T-Mac tell the world Los Angeles was going to win it all last week?
Might make for some interesting time around the Rockets, no?
Anyway, I didn’t stay up for that entire game – I swear, I was exhausted after Bulls-Celtics – but the parts that I did see showed one thing: The Blazers, while great, are too young.
The Rockets, on the other hand, played with poise and composure and Ron Artest, bless his zany heart, was just what he had to be – in charge offensively and defensively and a huge factor for his team.
I don’t know if the Rockets can give the Lakers a series (and luckily I don’t have to do the setup box and prediction on that one for 48 hours or so) but they did show me something against Portland.
They got the game at the pace they liked, Artest and Battier were exceptional and Luis Scola has made a name for himself with casual fans, who now know what scouts and coaches and players have been saying for years – the dude can play.
The big story in Houston? That they got out of the first round, my buddy Jonathan tells you all about it here.
A wise statement indeed
The Sixers were barely off the court – after being out of the game for most of the night – when a wise man with a penchant for hitting the nail on the head, sent me the following short but telling e-mail:
Philly should be embarrassed.
And well they should.
I know teams that lack stars and starters seem to have a knack for sucking it up for a game or two but for Philadelphia to let Orlando off the hook like that was despicable.
And they fully admit it, as we read here in Marcus’s game story.
But the funny thing? And the issue that’s going to haunt the Sixers for a while? The one guy they needed more than anyone else in that entire series was Elton Brand. A low-post presence, a big who can shoot, a guy you can throw the ball to in the slow-down moments of a playoff series.
No idea how they can integrate him into that system with those players in an 82-game schedule and be successful (they sure didn’t figure it out this season, did they?) but when the playoffs roll around, he’s the kind of guy they need.
Usual growing pains
I know they feel like crap out in Portland today, who wouldn’t?
But the experience they gleaned in this playoff series – the first for so many of them – will be absolutely invaluable as they move on.
They’ll know the pressure, the intensity, the need to take care of every single possession better; they’ll be wiser and more experienced next year and I fully expect them to make even greater gains than they did this past season.
Think of them as this year’s Atlanta Hawks from a calendar year ago, except dramatically more talented and deep in my opinion. The Blazers seem to have the mental attributes that will allow them to learn from this rather than cower from it.
And they know it, as Kerry Eggers tells us here.
One from the very light mailbag, which will likely be up tomorrow morning in all its glory:
Q: Hey Doug, I was hoping you could help settle a gentleman's wager that I have with a friend of mine. Do you think there is any chance at all that the likes of Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady are going to wind up in the Hall of Fame one day?
Craig P, Halifax
A: In my opinion, there isn’t a chance in hell that either of them gets into the Hall of Fame short of buying a ticket.
I would love now to give you a few little Raptors nuggets, tease you with coming player moves or somesuch but, alas, another dead quiet day.
So, I’ll answer a question about it:
Q: Doug, does it seem that with each passing day without an announcement that it’s less likely that Triano will be asked back? If JP knew he wanted him, wouldn't he have made the decision public by now? Does this time mean that he is taking time to see who else is available before he makes this decision?
John G, Toronto
A: No, it means everyone took a week or so off after the season to decompress, Bryan and Maurizio are in Berlin for the EuroLeague Final Four and things are progressing on about the timeline we all expected, which is a resolution sometime in the first couple of weeks of May. And from every indication I’m getting, I still fully expect that resolution to be Jay gets the job.
Okay, that’s it (sorry I was late, some technical difficulties here at Casa Doug) until we do the morning mailbag tomorrow and, of course, you should join me sometime just before 8 tomorrow night to see what Chicago and Boston might have in store for us.