NBA Playoff Banter: May 22

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We wanted to be able to bring something about the NBA Playoffs to the site, however, there’s only one of us who regularly gets to (chooses to) watch most games.  That’s why I enlisted my good friend Jason Brubaker.  He’s a really good writer and you should check him out over at CHN.  We’ve been debating sports for over a decade, and now we’re taking our arguments public for you to enjoy.  We really hope you enjoy our banter about guys who are bigger, stronger, faster, richer and better at basketball than us.  If not, Brubaker made me do it.

Smoothron:  Another game, another team wins at home.  This could get a little mundane if home teams win out for the rest of the playoffs.  I really thought San Antonio looked awesome and like they were the team to beat for the first thirty minutes of the game.  They were really impressive, even without Ginobili playing very well.  Then, I think fatigue got to them.  Seven tough games with the Hornets coupled with the fact they only had one night off really hurt them down the stretch.  They had no gas when the Lakers got their running game going.  The Spurs made stupid passes which inevitably led to easy Laker buckets.  Obviously, the Spurs weary legs don’t get a lot of rest as they play again on Friday night.  I wonder if the Spurs can bounce back from a loss like that; being up twenty midway through the third quarter, only to end up pissing it away in the end.  The emotional toll that puts on a team added onto their fatigue could make for a long night in LA on Friday night for them.  But, as the Spurs showed in their series against NO, they’re probably the most mentally tough team in the NBA.  They don’t let series deficits get them down.

More NBA talk, a Michael Jordan reference and well, you know… after the jump…
 
I was really surprised by a few things the Lakers did.  I was surpised Derek Fisher has the green-light-to-shoot like he does in the fourth quarter.  He took some terrible shots!  He took terrible shots and the Lakers still won, though, which is a good thing for them.  I was surprised at Kobe’s unselfishness in the latter part of the game.  I can’t tell if that’s him being more mature or if his back is still hurting worse than he wants to let on.  There were more than a few times where he was trying to get the ball in the post and he would just stand and watch, even after the double came to the post.  Usually you would see him cut after the double to the post.  But, of course, when the time came to it… he drove in the lane with Bowen all over him, gave him a forearm to the chest, rose up and buried the game winner.  Even with a bad back, he’s still better than most.  I just can’t fathom possessions for the Lakers in the fourth quarter where Kobe doesn’t touch the ball, but if Fisher wants to keep pulling up from seventeen feet on a 1-on-2 fast break, I guess he can.
 
I’m sure you, as the big Spurs fan you are, have some thoughts on the game.

Brubaker:  Only three more losses, and it will be a happy summer for me…

In all seriousness, the Spurs looked good most of the game last night, and fatigue might have played a role in their collapse. But I think the mental ramifications of last night’s game are huge going forward. Not only did the Spurs essentially choke away a game, the Lakers now have a ton of confidence. Kobe knows he can still light up the scoreboard on command, even against a great defensive team. I look for him to continue to play the role of facilitator early in games, and then take over late. Until they prove they can stop him, why change? Also, the Lakers are likely to get better performance from both Fisher and Odom on the offensive end, which will only help more. The Spurs are a veteran team that doesn’t panic, but you can’t help but  think that loss had to really sting, seeing as they looked to have it wrapped up halfway through the third quarter. Their approach to Game 2 will be really interesting. Will they come out fired up, ready to avenge the one that got away? Or will they be lackadaisical, going on little rest and feeling a bit down on themselves?

Fisher did make some questionable decisions last night – kind of surprising for a guy who usually plays so well within his limits and does only what the team needs. I think he may have felt the burden to try to keep up with Parker, which he clearly can’t do, on the court or in the stat sheet. If he’s able to shake that attitude and get back to playing within the Lakers’ system, hey should be fine. But  if he continues to make poor decisions and fire shots like that, he might want to get comfortable on the bench.

And what can be said about Kobe that hasn’t been said already? He’s the best scorer on the planet, and when he makes his mind up to score, no one can stop him. Even better, when he gets his teammates involved early, they have the confidence late in the game to knock down big shots. Kobe is playing as well as he ever has right now, and it’s fun to watch. It will be interesting to see if he keeps this approach, or if Bowen’s antics get in his head a little and he decides to start firing shots like it’s going out of style. The Lakers will win this series if Kobe does what he did last night; they won’t if he decides to become a one-man team. It’s that simple.

Smoothron:  Is there any question about who wins tonight?  It is Boston playing in Boston and as much as I’d like for the Pistons to win, it’s hard for me to really believe they will at this point.  I think the only way the Pistons have a chance is if Billups shakes a lot of the rust off that he showed the other night.  Rondo is a great defender, so I think Billups needs to use his veteran savvy as a way to try and beat him rather than physcial skill.  The only thing Billups has on Rondo is size, but I think Rondo’s length negates it in most situations.  Ray Allen is another wild-card.  If he continues to struggle, the Celtics may start missing his offense more and more.  Even if he doesn’t though, he’s just about the best decoy you could have on the court.  No matter if he hadn’t hit his last ten shots, Flip Saunders still won’t tell anyone to give him an open look from 3.  KG will be KG tonight, I’m sure… because the game’s at home.  I don’t know… Boston really could win this thing without winning a road game.  They wouldn’t exactly be getting in any top-10-championship-team-ever discussions by doing it, but they would definitely have a trophy.  The NBA… where road futility leading to championships happens.

Brubaker:  I agree that Boston wins tonight. Without Billups playing like himself, the Pistons looked out of sync offensively. As I said the other night, Rondo’s big Game 1 should give him confidence as the series moves ahead. He is giving up size and savvy to Billups, but Rondo has a high basketball IQ, and he is a great fit for that Celtics team. You know I’ve always been a huge Rondo fan, but I’ve really started to like him more and more as this season has progressed – you can see him getting better and better. Now, he will never be a CP3 or Deron Williams-type guard who will give you 25 points, because that’s not in his makeup. But I think Rondo is a guy who can give you 8-12 points, 5-6 rebounds, 5-6 assists and 2 steals a night…something most people would love from their PG. Plus, he defends so well, even when he’s not getting steals, he puts so much pressure on other team’s guards – he’s just fun to watch.

So Detroit definitely needs Billups back at full strength tonight. Rodney Stuckey is a good backup, and will be a good player for a lot of years, but he just doesn’t have the same cohesion with Sheed, Rip and Tayshaun. The KG/Sheed matchup will be fun all series long…both guys are incredibly talented players who wear their emotions on their sleeves. McDyess played well the other night, and that will be big for Detroit if Sheed continues to struggle. If McDyess can consistently come off those pick-and-rolls and drain mid-range jumpers, that’ll open up more lanes for Rip to slash. I look for the Pistons to try to roll another defender over to help with Pierce tonight. Tayshaun looked like he was on his heels all night, and Pierce not only got his shot when he wanted, he also created for everyone else. He’s playing at a really high level right now, and they need to shut him down if they want to win this series. For now, I’m still sticking with Boston for the series, but I think we’re looking at 7 games for this one.

I agree that Boston wins tonight. Without Billups playing like himself, the Pistons looked out of sync offensively. As I said the other night, Rondo’s big Game 1 should give him confidence as the series moves ahead. He is giving up size and savvy to Billups, but Rondo has a high basketball IQ, and he is a great fit for that Celtics team. You know I’ve always been a huge Rondo fan, but I’ve really started to like him more and more as this season has progressed – you can see him getting better and better. Now, he will never be a CP3 or Deron Williams-type guard who will give you 25 points, because that’s not in his makeup. But I think Rondo is a guy who can give you 8-12 points, 5-6 rebounds, 5-6 assists and 2 steals a night…something most people would love from their PG. Plus, he defends so well, even when he’s not getting steals, he puts so much pressure on other team’s guards – he’s just fun to watch.
So Detroit definitely needs Billups back at full strength tonight. Rodney Stuckey is a good backup, and will be a good player for a lot of years, but he just doesn’t have the same cohesion with Sheed, Rip and Tayshaun. The KG/Sheed matchup will be fun all series long…both guys are incredibly talented players who wear their emotions on their sleeves. McDyess played well the other night, and that will be big for Detroit if Sheed continues to struggle. If McDyess can consistently come off those pick-and-rolls and drain mid-range jumpers, that’ll open up more lanes for Rip to slash. I look for the Pistons to try to roll another defender over to help with Pierce tonight. Tayshaun looked like he was on his heels all night, and Pierce not only got his shot when he wanted, he also created for everyone else. He’s playing at a really high level right now, and they need to shut him down if they want to win this series. For now, I’m still sticking with Boston for the series, but I think we’re looking at 7 games for this one.
On a side note, I love what Sports Guy wrote about KG the other day, talking about how KG’s intensity might be his biggest downfall, because he approaches a meaningless November game against Memphis the same way he does a Game 7 vs Cleveland, which means he can’t “turn it up” at clutch moments because his motor is revved already. I think it’s a valid point, but I still love to see a player who gives it everything he has every time out there. I hear people talk all the time about how NBA players don’t care, and to an extent, that’s true. But watch five minutes of KG and tell me that he doesn’t leave his heart on the floor every night. I’m sure you saw where Doc Rivers said he couldn’t talk to KG before Game 7 against Cleveland because KG was already talking to himself and getting himself fired up. I absolutely love that passion out of someone. The reason Jordan was so great wasn’t just his talent – it was how hard he competed. KG is no Jordan (nobody is), but to me, there’s no better lesson for young kids to see than when a superstar player is also your hardest worker and most passionate player.

On a side note, I love what Sports Guy wrote about KG the other day, talking about how KG’s intensity might be his biggest downfall, because he approaches a meaningless November game against Memphis the same way he does a Game 7 vs Cleveland, which means he can’t “turn it up” at clutch moments because his motor is revved already. I think it’s a valid point, but I still love to see a player who gives it everything he has every time out there. I hear people talk all the time about how NBA players don’t care, and to an extent, that’s true. But watch five minutes of KG and tell me that he doesn’t leave his heart on the floor every night. I’m sure you saw where Doc Rivers said he couldn’t talk to KG before Game 7 against Cleveland because KG was already talking to himself and getting himself fired up. I absolutely love that passion out of someone. The reason Jordan was so great wasn’t just his talent – it was how hard he competed. KG is no Jordan (nobody is), but to me, there’s no better lesson for young kids to see than when a superstar player is also your hardest worker and most passionate player.

This is going to be pretty mundane if these home teams keep winning.  And, for those keeping up on the Smoothron/BobWicket wager, both teams we picked to win the NBA Championship are down 0-1 in the Conference Finals.  But, the NBA would much prefer Boston and LA to play each other in the Finals for ratings.  Oh, and I put in a picture of  Kelly Kapowski.  Who didn’t want to bone her when they were growing up watching Saved by the Bell?

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4 Responses to “NBA Playoff Banter: May 22”

  1. BobWicket Says:

    I don’t know what finals you are watching, or if you are blinded by Kelly Kapowski’s…..eyes, but I think Kobe and the boys are up 1-0.

  2. smoothron Says:

    Oh yeah, forgot you took the Lakers. My memory is quite a bit foggy still from the night we made the bet.

  3. BobWicket Says:

    No renigs

  4. pretty legs in heels Says:

    […] most games.? That??s why I enlisted my good friend Jason Brubaker.? He??s a really good writer andhttps://apudgeisasandwich.wordpress.com/2008/05/22/nba-playoff-banter-may-22/Go figure Wise County MessengerStay-at-home mom. Business owner. High school student. Personal […]

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