Friday, April 30, 2010

Five Bests from the Playoffs (thus far)

5. Portland Fans chanting "Lets Go Blazers" last night with 30 seconds to go and the Suns leading by 9 points.

4. Bango's Backflip. Who says a mascot doesn't have any effect on a game?

3. @LeBronsElbow

2. Tie: Durant blocking Kobe to add insult to injury in game 4 and the Irony behind the "Carmelo's People of Utah" ad campaign.

1. Dwyane Wade's 46 point outburst and subsequent yelling at his hand.

Dragon Slaying

The Lakers, Spurs, Blazers, Nuggets, Jazz, Suns and Mavs have all been staples of the Western Conference playoffs the last decade or so. This lack of diversity in the Playoff gene pool has led to some great playoff games, great meltdowns and a great set up for this year. The late 90's proved to be the same kind of scenario in the Eastern Conference with the Knicks, Bulls, Pacers, and Heat. Coming from those series were a number of great Jordan moments, Reggie's theatrics and heroics versus the Knicks, and the Playoffs best announcer, Jeff Van Gundy, clinging to Alonzo Mourning's leg. It seemed that every year a Heat/Knicks matchup was inevitable, because it was. From 1997-2000, they met every year in the Playoffs and played the maximum number of games each series, with the clinching game of the series being decided in the closing moments of the game. Miami only beat the Knicks in one of those four series, the first one in 1997. After that, the Knicks became Miami's dragon; the naturally sworn enemy and inevitable matchup for the Heat, a matchup they could never overcome.

The Heat went through another stretch, although much shorter and less dramatic, when a matchup with the Detroit Pistons seemed destined every year. This may have had more to do with the Pistons versus Shaquille O'Neal (dating back to their upset of the Shaq/Malone/Kobe Lakers), but it was the Heat's dragon to slay if they wanted to win a championship. This year, the west is full of such destined matchups. Mavs/Spurs. Jazz/Nuggets. Suns/Spurs. Jazz/Lakers (potential). Suns/Lakers (potential). Lakers/Spurs (potential). Jazz/Spurs (potential). Its almost a paper/rock/scissors set up. Spurs own the Suns, Lakers own the Jazz, Spurs own the Lakers, Lakers own the Suns, and for the sake of the analogy lets just say the Jazz own the Suns. Each team seems to have a date with destiny, a passage though fire, or any other cliched hero/dating reference. Somebody is going to have to slay their team's figurative dragon.

Who wins in all this melee? We do. The way the first round has gone, we can almost assume that round two will be turned up to 11. I'm still hoping that Kevin Durant walks on water for the next two games of the Lakers/Thunder series, but if not it doesn't mean that the best basketball is behind us. Rather, its yet to come.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

From Bad To Worse

This isn't 2008. The Heat aren't loading up their starting line-up with a murderer's row of Stephane Lamse, Kasib Powell, Alexander Johnson and Earl Barron. There isn't the hope of a Mike Beasley coming in as a proverbial savior. Most importantly, we aren't worried about whether or not Dwyane Wade is going to have the career arc of Penny Hardaway. These things I am grateful for as a Miami Heat fan.

The one thing that does compare to 2008 is the taste in my mouth after Tuesday night's drubbing in Boston. It didn't only give me nightmares from 2008, but from seasons past in Miami Heat lore. Allow me to expand.

First, the game Tuesday night had the luck of the draw when it comes to announcers. Anytime you can get Reggie Miller as the color guy during a TNT telecast, you can count on ridiculous hyperbole, knife twisting and wound salting, overexcited yelling at random times, and terrible anecdotes. Tuesday was no exception. The Heat were hard at work preparing the finest turd sandwich that $73 million can buy. Everybody could see that. Reggie managed to reiterate it at least a dozen times at the expense of my fandom. Then he began to get loud and obnoxious, yelling things like "Trade KG" every time Big Baby made an awkward lay-up or "the side-line three should be renamed the Ray Allen" as Ray poured in 3 balls from all over the court. Only two other announcers have driven me as mad as Miller Time did tuesday night; Doug Collins and Bill Walton. These three share a common bond. They are poor color commentators who somehow get some of the bigger games and spend the entire night embellishing their careers and raising even the most meager of stars to the upper echelon of NBA greats. Not to mention they are 10 times worse when your team is losing.

There was a time during the late 90's Heat playoff runs where I had to watch games on mute because Bill Walton seemed to be commentating durning EVERY Heat game. And they would lose every game he was working. It was a dark time for me. I didn't even have to watch the games to know the outcome. I just had to hear the play by play long enough to distinguish the voices.

Doug Collins is just as bad. Just watch any Lakers game. Or any Bulls game in the late 90's. Or any Jazz fan during their Finals runs. Or even a Suns fan as recent as Sunday night. He has the ability, same as Reggie and Bill, to take a bad game and make it worse.

I'd like to thank Charles Barkley for begging TNT to switch over to the Suns/Blazers game and saving me from further misery. And I'd like to ask for just one playoff game win this year. Just one. But if not, I'm glad the Celtics are looking like they really might have one more run left in them.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Canada's Team/End of Season Edition

After losing out to another sub-.500 team for the final playoff spot (paging the league: let's make a .500 cutoff.) and on the brink of losing the only real star on such a disappointing team, Canada has spoken and here are the latest rankings in The Campaign To Become Canada's Team:

1: Vancouver Canucks
Ottawa Senators
Montreal Canadiens
Anybody but the so disappointing Raptors and that includes Toronto's least favorite player Vince Carter's Magic*.
1,000,001: Toronto Raptors

* Don't worry. This is the first and last place you will ever see the Magic belong to Vince Carter. It was solely for clarity's sake.