As has been said before,
Well, well, well. What have we here?
Not the greatest of weekend games – shoddy in Denver, thuggish in Orlando – but, to some minds at least, very, very compelling post-season basketball and enough great storylines that we’d like to see both of these series go to seven games.
Not sure that’s going to happen but if they continue to give us this kind of entertainment, this could be a heckuva week.
And a heckuva time to be doing something crazy like in-game blogs, which will have in this very corner of the interweb tonight some around 9. As the wise man once said, dontcha dare miss it!
|CARLOS OSARIO/TORONTO STAR|
|With Jose taking a rest maybe emailers will do the same.|
Not sure how many of you will have seen this but here’s Jose’s definitive word on his summer plans, news sure to warm the cockles of many a heart.
It goes with what we’ve been writing and what I’ve been expecting since I conversation I had with him in early March. It also goes with what Bryan said after the season ended and what Jose said at the same time.
The decision makes entire sense – he needs the rest, he knows it, EuroBasket in Poland is hardly the Olympics – but one of the more significant aspects is that it leaves open the chance to return.
And with Spain being awarded the 2014 world championships on the weekend, I can see Jose back in the red and gold for the 2012 London Games and an international swansong in front of adoring home fans a couple of years later.
But for now? Now he did the logical thing but, before anyone goes all nuts on me, I would have been fine had he decided to play.
There has been all sorts of Jose reputation besmirching going on in the comments section here and the e-mails you don’t see. Can you all please give it a rest for a while? Thanks.
About last night
I don’t want to say we’re seeing a fatal flaw in the Cleveland Cavaliers because they remain just one good game from making the Eastern Conference final even more compelling but there is no question weaknesses have become apparent.
Look at LeBron’s numbers – 41 last night, 35 in Game 2, 49 in Game 1 – and then look at the most important numbers: Orlando 2, Cleveland 1.
That’s an average of
40.7 41.7 points per game according to my abacus (and I apparently need a new abacus) and still, there is a case to be made that this series is now Orlando’s to lose.
Mo Williams has been an afterthought, Zydrunas Ilguaskas can’t draw Dwight Howard away from the basket to create space and hasn’t been knocking down open shots when he gets them and the point guard play has been abysmal.
The Cavs rolled through the regular season on momentum and the singular talents of James; the Magic seem quite content to let him get his and take everything else away, a strategy that’s working almost perfectly.
I wonder how he’s going to like playing with the same cast of questionable talent – or a cast of even more questionable talent – in New York in 2010?
Red Hot Rafer
About 10 minutes into last night, when Skip was four-for-for from the floor, I turned to Super Dog (she and I seemed the only ones interested in the game at Casa Doug) and said: “If he’s making shots, no way Orlando loses.”
Super Dog scratched her ear, turned away and, I believe, said, “you, my Human, are very, very smart.”
But seriously, folks, Alston has comported himself almost perfectly so far in this series; getting the right guy the ball at the right time, staying out of the way and knocking down timely shots.
He remains a rather emotional sort – the slap Eddie House’s head made a lot of us go, ‘hey, there’s Rafer!” – but you have to give him credit. He’s making the right plays at the right time almost all the time.
And he’s treating Delonte West like he’s some CBAer.
How do the stories play out in the papers.
Well, Brian puts some historical spin on it in Cleveland.
And Brian plays the supporting cast card in Orlando.
Let’s do one from the mail because it’s timely:
Q: Would you say that the Magic's experiences in the first two round have allowed them to grow into contenders right in front of us? It seems like all the blown leads, and players calling out coaches, and all the big games against the Celts, have helped mature and prepare the Magic for the playoffs where as the Cav's had no adversity. It's like they have developed a new mental toughness through their pervious games.
Jeffrey M, Beijing
A: When Orlando blew that 18 point lead, I think it was, in the very first game out of the box, a lot of people – including me – saw that as what might have been their ultimate flaw, the inability to stand prosperity.
They still don’t do it well – and that’s why this series may still have some legs – but the way they responded after the crushing loss in Game 5 against Boston showed me something, the way they went into Boston and won Game 7 with relative ease and the way they hung in there in Cleveland to open this series has diminished those thoughts.
I don’t know what it is, exactly, that turns men’s minds from mush to tough but it’s happened with the Magic. Maybe it’s simply experience and momentum – you win a tough game and the next time it’s easier – but they simply do not get rattled any more.
I suppose that should give hope to fans of other teams, that sometimes something just clicks at the most important moment.
Hey, Raptor fans:
My fearless prediction, based on nothing more than a gut feeling and a few very quick conversations I’ve had with a few people over the last week or so, is that Marc Iavaroni will be on staff by the end of the week.
And I also think the rest of the staff will be in place; all I have to do now is figure out who that’ll be. Guess I know what today’s job is.
I’m not sure the Nuggets can play much worse than they did in Game 3 (and neither is George Karl according to Benjamin’s story) with below average performances from Chauncey and Carmelo and a reliance on three-point shooting that bordered on the ridiculous.
But I also wonder how they’ll respond. For all the veterans they have, the Nuggets have never been in a situation like this – heck, they hadn’t even won a playoff series for about a billion years before this year – and the Lakers still have that Bryant fellow.
It is not a stretch to say this is the most important game Carmelo Anthony has ever played in his NBA career, wonder what he’s got in his heart?
I’m sticking with my Noogies (and can you imagine the angst the NBA and it’s television “partners” are feeling at the prospects of a Denver-Orlando final?) so Carmelo better do something.