Our season is over, but to call it a season is really disrespectful to the rest of the NBA teams who either had success or now have the offseason and future to look forward to. I would prefer to call what the team that plays in downtown Minneapolis went through a "Winter of Suck". The Timberwolves had neither an acceptable record, nor do they have anything to look forward to. Great! This ought to be a fun couple of years!
Anyway, I'm back in The Land Of Eating now, and I am not embarrassed to admit that I've watched roughly 15 hours of playoff basketball this weekend, with 5 more to come tonight. It's been goddamned incredible. I feel reconnected with the game, seeing old friends and enemies, ingesting the sport like some people around here do but with double bacon burgers. In that vein, I've seen quite a few advertisements for this Wendy's burger where they seal the cheese and bacon and mushrooms between two burger patties. Seriously? Are you sure you can't just give me a loaded gun to shoot directly into my chest?
Ok, I'm way out there. Back to the NBA: I'm pretty excited for this postseason, and I think we've got some pretty good matchups in the first round, and down the road. Let's break down what I've seen so far in this first weekend, to the tune of NWA lyrics:
Miami Heat / "Only one way for you to pass, yo, get treated like a king and they crown your ass"
The Heat are a marked team. They are not, however, a pushover. They hung with the Bulls pretty well, and I wouldn't be surprised if they came back and won this series fairly quickly. I know, I know, the Bulls played pretty well, but I think the Heat are just so incredibly beat up, and if they start gunning and closing out, they're going to be back to last season's form. Wade is a complete monster, he's the guy that you just can't take your eyes off if you're Chicago. I wouldn't be surprised for this series to go either way, actually, but I'm predicting the Heat to win it.
Of course, keep in mind that I watched my first Wolves game this season a week ago. So, yeah.
Phoenix Suns / "Been runnin since the fired the gun and started the clock, that's when the E jumped off the starting block"
Ummm, this team is absolutely ridiculous. They can go down by 8 or 10 points then just tie it up in like 2 minutes. Steve Nash, whom many writers who earn a hell of a lot of money to make somewhat accurate predictions said should be in a back brace by this point in his career, plays the game like fucking Neo. Do his feet ever hit the ground? I've never been a huge fan of Nash, primarily because of his face and the way that it looks like what you'd look like if you finally got to the front of the line and got to pee after you had to wait for 5 hours, but he's so incredibly gifted in this offensive strategy. I'm not sure that they even run plays anymore, just Steve creating in his head.
On the other side though, Kobe Bryant is the best basketball player in the world right now. He started making shots from the elbow in today's game, then just kept going back to the same spot 3 more times and hit 2 threes. Then, before he missed one, he faked the shot and drove the lane. The result was free throws. The point is that he knows what he can get the defense to do, and he knows he is capable of scoring any time, against any set. It's just a matter of how he's going to do it.
The future of this series? I have no idea, other than that I will watch all of the games if I can, because this is goddamned good basketball.
Although, I kind of hate that Farmar guy a lot. I mean, quite a lot. He might do better if he wiped the "My sister just took away my power ranger doll that I put in a dress because I'm confused and now I need to yell to mom to get it back for me" look off his face.
Cleveland Cavaliers / "See I beat, and then I creep on a fool, keep my blood pressure high, but still stay cool"
Dumb NBA writers will keep waiting for LeBron to "take over" and "assert himself" and "begin creating his playoff legend", and I'll keep waiting for the majority of them to lose some weight. In the meantime, I'll watch this man fly up and down the court in a physical display that looks psychotically impossible. The Wizards hung in this game, and it was fun to watch, but my eyes are always just drifting towards LeBron. I can't describe his game, because it's too broad and good. I can describe what I think when he has a breakaway, and it's "DAMN!"
I do agree with the TNT crew in that this series is going to get gangster before it's all said and done. We're talking fights. And if LeBron wants to begin his playoff resume, I would suggest "Punching Antawn Jamison" as a good place to start.
Utah Jazz / "Even if Yella makes it a capella, I still express yo I don't smoke weed or cess"
Good god almighty, I don't know if I'll be able to take in the rest of this series because I'll be busy WATCHING PAINT DRY. Utah starts Derek Fisher, Mehmet Okur, and Carlos Boozer. These are the three most boring basketball players that have ever worn shoes. Jerry Sloan just wants the game to be 50-46. The Rockets jumped out to an 8-0 lead in like two minutes, but then in came the Jazz and completely mucked the game up. Watching this game was a big burst of confidence for me: even though I spent the entire season in a country where they play fucking Netball as a national sport (that's basketball but without a backboard and dribbling, and also without fun), I can still accurately handicap a Jazz game.
The Rockets will win this series, but only if they can keep Skip To My Lou awake.
New Jersey Nets / "This is what I want you to do, feel the groove, bust a move, yo yo I'm tired, what about you? Man, this is somethin to dance to!"
Did you see Vince's Breakin-esque throwdown before the game on Saturday? Oh look at him go! Dancin all crazy!!! And on the same floor that he used to play!! He's so much happier and energetic now that he's with his new team!!!!
He also looks like he should be at Gameworks on Friday nights playing DDR with four buddies who sip their beers and scan the crowd for girls that are "old enough".
The Raptors are not a very complete basketball team, and the Nets will defeat them. This much is obvious. I do, however, LOVE it when guys get booed every time they touch the ball. It reminds me of Bertuzzi. Or Bowl of Kandi, when he came back with the Celtics after the trade. Hey Mike, you see how we cheered Wally? Yeah, he's a good man, and tries. We boo you because your not made of blood and bones but rather garbage.
Anyway, yes, I think the Nets will win the series, but I also think that Sam Mitchell is not above putting a "hit" out (just ask Chaney about this) on Carter or Kidd, because I think Toronto will play dirty if they have to. Lord knows ever since Ford got dumped on his neck by Mad-Dog, he's been playing on borrowed time.
Detroit Pistons / "Murder was a dirty job to rob, a dead man was the best plan cause a dead man never ran"
And finally, the Pistons, your 2007 NBA champions. Yeah, GOOD LUCK, ORLANDO. Flip doesn't even look like he needs a cigarette, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the NBA.
I'm watching the other two games tonight, so I'm sure I'll have some really insightful reflections on those for you later. I can tell you're holding your breath. As a prelude, I will say that Kevin Harlan rules, and that Robert Horry got fat while I was in New Zealand. Maybe he ate too many double baco-burgers. Oh, and Don Nelson... let's just say I think it's NBA regulations to have defibulators in every locker room, and they might want to think about wheeling one up to the scorer's table for tonight's game.