Friday, May 11, 2007

Baker’s Dozen: NBA Playoff Questions

While it’s been more than a week or two since I last officially reflected upon the playoffs here, that doesn’t mean a TON of stuff hasn’t progressed since then.

In case you fell under a rock or are avoiding any type of specific analysis…here’s a quick re-cap [Clement-style].

It's what everyone wants! Right?

…out West
-Golden State became the first eight seed to ever upset a 1-seed in the modern 7-game format. Not to mention, they seemed to enjoy every moment of frustrating soon-to-be-MVP Dirk Nowitzki while silencing the championship-prepped Mavericks.
-The Denver Nuggets might’ve stolen Game 1, yet never really stood a fighting chance against the veteran-led, savvy Spurs.
-Phoenix survived an early hiccup against the Lakers and then proceeded to dispatch Kobe Bryant and co. much easier than they did in last year’s opening round of the western conference playoffs.
-Utah outlasted Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, and the other relatively unknown 10 Houston Rockets. Yet again denying T-Mac the opportunity to avoid a tearful early exit from the playoff picture.

…out East
-Detroit swept the Magic…as expected.
-Cleveland swept the Wizards (sans-Arenas & Butler)…as expected.
-Toronto was out-rebounded, out-coached, and out-played by Jason Kidd’s, not Vince Carter’s, New Jersey Nets.
-Chicago swept Miami…which couldn’t have been expected by many of the experts.

And now…we’re nearly a week into the second-round (remember, the NBA Playoffs last half of the calendar-year) and suddenly things seem to be ending a lot quicker than many of us had anticipated and, more than likely, hoped for.

…out West
-Riding a return to form from AK-47, the ever-resounding maturity of Deron Williams, and the emotional memories of Derek Fisher and Game 2…the Utah Jazz held serve at home, barely, over the Warriors (who missed out on two golden opportunities to steal a key game in the Playoffs on the road).
-San Antonio stung the Suns on the road late in Game 1, as should-be-MVP Steve Nash could only sit on the bench and bleed profusely from the nose (thanks trainer). After withstanding a few early punches (and a potential kick in the Achilles from Bruce Bowen to new 1st-teamer Amare Stoudemire) from San Antonio, the Suns rode smart defense, namely from Kurt Thomas, and a cooled-off Tony Parker to even up the series as it heads to the Alamo.

By the way...Bowen isn't new to accusations.
[w/ Ray Allen] [w/ VC] [w/ Knicks] & [w/ Candace's older brother]

…out East
-Detroit dominated every aspect of Games 1 and 2 at home AND despite an 18-point deficit in the 3rd quarter of Game 3, the balanced-team attack of Detroit proved too poised and too potent for the still-Baby Bulls. With a 3-0 lead, there’s no bet in Vegas worth taking against Motown.
-New Jersey couldn’t keep up on the boards or in the closing moments against LeBron and the Cavs in the opening games of the series. As the series heads to Jersey, it remains to be seen if this is the last of Jason Kidd in New Jersey or not?

So there it is. Laid out all nice and easy to understand. [Sure.]

So what happens next?

Questions always happen NEXT.

Can Golden State feed off of the hysteria of their home-crowd and take the crucial step needed on Friday night…securing their first victory in the series? Is Baron Davis healthy enough to continue his stellar play? Can Stephen Jackson overcome the defensive resurgence of AK-47? Will Monta Ellis ever show up in these playoffs? Or will the Jazz, with so much size in Boozer and clutch-play from Williams/Okur, make the series a foregone conclusion by the time the weekend is over?

Can Phoenix man-up and steal one in San Antonio? What will become of Amare’s comments about the Spurs being a “dirty team”? Was Tony Parker simply rusty or potentially fatigued/figured out? Where is Manu Ginobli? Can Kurt Thomas honestly hope to briefly contain TD? Ultimately: will this series go seven, as everyone is hoping and wishing for?

Are the Nets ready to make a statement against Cleveland? Or is their disadvantage on the bench and the boards simple too much to overcome? Can Vince Carter shoot lights out or make a dozen-plus trips to the free throw line at home consistently? From my own specific bank, is this the year Larry Hughes finally delivers time-and-time again?

Can Chicago learn from this 0-3 deficit and scratch its way back to Motown with a fighter’s chance in Game 5? Or are these Pistons simply too talented, too together, and too much for the East to possible contain?

All these questions…and perhaps some answers are all that remains this busy NBA Playoffs-happy weekend.'

Until next time...

1 comment:

Chris Clement said...

Golden State up 20 at the half. So far so good...even for Monte.

Interesting this playoff schedule. Stern is going to milk these next two months for everything he hopes they are worth.

Unfortunately, there's nothing to do about it either.