There’s been so much to say about these NBA Conference Finals that I’ve been shocked into some kind of paralysis. It’s like when you’re trying to write an essay for school, become too interested in the topic and just keep reading so much that writing becomes an impossibility. With that said I feel like I should just throw it all up:
LAKERS v NUGGETS
Nice try boys. Close. Had to love that bench energy, and yes, MELO RULZ and yes he seems like he’s probably THE nicest guy in the NBA, but when the pressure mounted the team seemed to forget everything Chauncey Billups had taught them (including Billups himself) and regressed back into the adolescence of earlier in the season (“But I don’t wanna play defense!“).
Also, I find it hard to like the Birdman even though I know I probably should. Call me Sonia Sotomajor, but it’s pretty tough to like the white dudes in the NBA. The euros I can dig (Gasol just gets more likable as his look gets wilder and wilder), but the US white dudes? I don’t know. Thus seeing Andersen, Farmar and Walton (my worst Laker) all got a little bit much at times.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcVEDCqKNz0&feature=player_embedded%5D
(“I like mayonnaise / I like sodium”)
The Lakers continued there here today/gone tomorrow approach. An interesting tactic from Kobe and Phil. The whole post-season you would think some of these guys were part-time employees getting paid by game, trying to create work to rack up some more hours to save up for a surfboard for the summer. However, the game 5 & 6 performances were truly Championship material.
The Lakers need someone other than Kobe or Gasol to turn up on any given night. And when it’s Ariza and/or Odom (who will take either be getting a gigantic paycut or searching for a new city to live in if LA get anything other rings on their fingers), the Lakers are the best team in the league (and the most entertaining of the elite teams). The likelihood of this happening over a whole series is anyone’s guess.
MAGIC v CAVS
One man, even a King, doth not a team make. The Magic beating BeBron should be everyhigh school coaches dream (“There’s no I in team” etc). Now, I love watching LeBron as much as the next red-blooded basketball fan. And watching his this series has been more amazing than one could have reasonably expected. Of course there was THE SHOT. Plus, 39 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists a game. However, this series really highlighted the deficiencies of the Cavaliers as a whole.
For starters, “Coach of the Year” Mike Brown seemed so surprised that they were (oh my god) getting challenged that he didn’t really have a game plan if LBJ just wasn’t enough by himself. Give-the-ball-to-the-best-individual-player-in-the-world-and-stand-back is NOT a game plan. Not that he really had a choice. The Cavs are the only elite team with only one All-Star. Mo Williams, though technically an All Star, was only there cos he bitched and moaned about not being selected and then David Stern put him in the team when Chris Bosh was injured. And the rest of the starters would be an amazing bench line-up, but are NOT a Championship starting line up. So how did we get here? How were the Cavs the best regular season team?
KG’s late-season injury not withstanding, the Cavs won the best record of the regular season by caring about EVERY GAME. No one else seemed to. Magic, the Lakers and the Celtics all lost to losing teams multiple times. The Cavs did not. However, the Cavs lost 3 out of 9 games against the three elite teams. That is not a good sign for a team ‘destined’ to win the title.
Which leads me to my (and Dwight Howard’s) biggest gripe: The goddam Destiny of the whole thing. I mean, have you seen these:[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3i-BzVWQA0Q%5D [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MP-p9i85sNc&feature=related%5D [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsG5uq9xOKo&feature=related%5D [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azMR-ZYaOnQ%5D
Not to mention the Vitamin Water, ESPN, the whole Next Michael Jordan thing. As much as I would have loved to see the match up over 7 games, it was all a bit much. And as dissapointed the NBA head office must be, Lakers v Magic will be a great season. Two teams, with some great match-ups and some interesting tactical decisions. I can’t wait. If Odom and Ariza show up, the Lakers will be near unbeatable. On the other hand, if the Magic keep hitting their 3’s and Dwight stays dominant, it’s hard to see them losing too. The one thing you can count on is Howard being elevated to a bona fide NBA superstar. Sounds like a win/win situation to me.