Day 4: What a bore.
Okay, here’s the deal. I basically killed myself Tuesday night/Wednesday morning writing a couple of stories. I messed up my system something awful on No-Doz, and I’m just now recovering from an awful headache I had pretty much all of Thursday. To say I’ve fallen behind on the basketball writing would be a bit of an understatement, akin to suggesting that I was less than pleased with Tony’s play in the second half of Game 2. I gotta catch up, and quickly. I don’t think I watched any of these games except the Spurs one, obviously, and maybe Bulls/Heat.
But watch me pretend!
Game 2 New Jersey @ Toronto: Raptors 89, Nets 83 (1-1)
The little purple dinosaurs needed a 31-20 4th quarter to salvage a home split and methinks this is a bad sign for my “Raptors in 7” pick. Really, it’s a bit reminiscent of Game 1 of our series with the Nugs, it’s inconceivable to me how Jersey can hang in there the whole game with their big three all shooting so poorly. 17 of 54 (31%) and they’re not getting creamed? Yikes. Who knew Bostjan Nachbar, Mikki Moore and Jason Collins were so valuable.
One thing’s for sure, Raptors fans cannot blame their misgivings about the first two games on Vinsanity. Carter could not have played any worse so far, totaling 35 points on 43 shots. Using this series as a salary drive would be like Bush using his presidency to line up a six figure fee for speaking engagements throughout the country once his term ends. Yeah, in the end you know in both cases that some idiot will pay the money, but they’ll deserve all the ridicule they get for it.
Slowly turning into Gollum in front of our eyes, seeking out that “precious” max contract in tax-free Orlando. (AP PHOTO/CP, Frank Gunn) CANADA
Toronto just squeezed by thanks to Chris Bosh and a career night out of Anthony Parker. They simply need more out of Calderon, Bargnani, even Rasho. It was nice to see Coach of the Year Sam Mitchell figure out that Morris Peterson is better than Joey Graham, but the realization could have come a bit too late. New Jersey’s stars cannot play this badly at home and something goofy will have to happen to send this series back to Canada 2-2.
3 Stars –
3. Jason Kidd – 14-11-7. I’m guessing he played better than the numbers showed. He led the team with a +6, contained both of Toronto’s PGs, and lord knows how many assists Jefferson and Carter blew.
2. Chris Bosh – 25-13, played 45 minutes and is killing himself to win. Needs some frontcourt help.
1. Anthony Parker – 26 points on 13 shots, 8 rebounds, and outplayed Carter significantly on both ends. But can he do it again?
Game 2 Miami @ Chicago: Bulls 107, Heat 89 (2-0)
The scary part for the Heat here is that they didn’t even shoot too badly. Of the nine guys they played (Riley smartly benched GP) the only two who had more shots than points were Eddie Jones and White Chocolate. The veteran bench chipped in 39 points and outscored their counterparts on the Bulls by 18. Miami shot 80% from the stripe, always an impressive feat when The Diesel is involved (he was 5-5) and they forced 18 Bulls turnovers as well.
So how’d they get spanked?
To put it simply, the Bulls’ starters couldn’t miss. Chicago is a gritty club, a defensive club. They will claw for every inch and make life a living hell for your stars. What they don’t do very often is get 86 points out of their starting five. The quintet accounted for 69.3 during the regular season. When you allow 86, on 62 shots, you’re absolutely screwed. The Bulls also shot 11-17 from three and 83.3% from the line. Not exactly the type of defense the Heat played on their way to earning a ring last year.
Not a whole lot changed between Games 1 and 2. The Heat still have no answer for Deng, they have wave after wave of long athletes to throw at Wade, and Gordon is pretty much neutralizing Flash in the box scores where Miami has to dominate that match-up to have a chance. The one major difference I see in this runaway second game is that the Bulls got an average night out of Hinrich instead of his first game clunker. It must be discouraging for Miami to realize that two of Chicago’s big three will have to play like crap for them to win.
That doesn’t mean I’m saying it’ll be a sweep or anything. It could very well go back to Chicago all squared up. The zebras will give Miami some home cooking with the fouls (expect, at minimum, 30 FT attempts from Wade and Shaq) and Chicago will have to earn everything they get over the weekend. Also, I don’t quite see Miami’s dynamic duo combining for 14 turnovers again. That’s a bit much, even for them. But based on what I’ve seen so far, the Bulls have too many physical advantages and despite Miami’s veteran intangibles and know-how, they won’t be able to plug all the holes in the dyke for long. The smart money is for Chicago to come home up 3-1.
3. P.J. Brown – 10 and 4 doesn’t sound too hot, but his presence was clearly an asset on the floor. His +26 in Game 2 is the 2nd highest total of any playoff game thus far (the 1st will surprise you).
2. Luol Deng – 26-5-6. Started off shaky for a quarter and a half, but was a monster in the second half, especially the 4th quarter. Scored 18 of 20 Bulls points in one stretch.
1. Ben Gordon – 27-7-5. The best guard in this series so far.
Game 2 Los Angeles @ Phoenix: Suns 126, Lakers 98 (2-0)
Okay, so scratch that Kobe getting everyone else involved idea. There isn’t much I can say about this. The Suns put up more shots, made more, shot a better percentage from the field, from downtown and the line, had more rebounds, assists, steals and blocks and had fewer turnovers. They had four guys (S.T.A.T, LB, Matrix and the Hoser) score more than the Colorado Casanova, who topped the Lakers with 15. I am hard pressed to find any Laker who played well outside of garbage time and any Sun who didn’t. The dramatic portion of this series is over. The Suns will advance. The only question is how quickly.
All this game accomplished, from a practical standpoint, is give Kobe incentive to go down firing. Every time he trusts his teammates, he loses to these guys by 30 points. He will not cap his ’06-07 season, where he had a buttload of 50 point games, as a wallflower. He’ll shoot a bunch, score a bunch, and pretty much demand Buss to get him KG over the summer, even if he has to trade the whole roster and their next five 1st round draft picks to do it. He’s just about exhausted his patience with Mr. Odom to step up.
3. Leandro Barbosa – I don’t know who in the league can guard him, but he’s not on the Lakers.
2. Amare Stoudemire – 20 and 9 in just 24 minutes, having his way with the Lakers centers.
1. Steve Nash – 16 and 14 in only 25 minutes, slicing the Lakers to ribbons, making it look effortless.
Day 5 Recap, including Spurs-Nuggets, coming in a few hours maybe?
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