When a 37 year-old player dominates an NBA Conference Final
After what was probably the most entertaining Regular season of all time, filled with plot lines, interesting characters, trades, chatter and a sense of urgency forced by the impending lockout, the Playoffs have dissolved into a slow-paced, humdrum of mediocrity. Let’s us sit down and have a close look at some of the changes.
The top two teams Regular season teams (Chicago and the Spurs) are been punked in their first round match ups. Number one seeds should not have this much difficulty with their first round opponents if Misters Nowitski or Mutumbo aren’t involved, and as such, it casts serious light on their validity at being contenders. If they both can’t make it out of the second round (which is looking VERY likely) it will make a mockery of the likely MVP (Rose) and coaching award wanner (either Gregg Popovich or Tom Thibodeau).
The Lakers look mediocre and unfocused after mostly finishing the season on a tear. The same thing happened last year, but that was caused by injury to the Black Mamba. No excuse this year, they just look lethargic. Even Shannon Brown has seemly stopped hustling, and all poor Shannon has is energy. Ron Artest has been okay for them, but you have to wonder if they wouldn’t rather have Trevor Ariza’s energy night after night to help cure what ails them.
Speaking of the Bulls, as game four showed, if Rose doesn’t fire, they are barely Playoff worthy. The good news is he almost always plays well and has shown he can rise to the occasion. But never in the playoffs against a good defense who is scheming against him. It’s a big asterisk. A big one.
If any children are reading this, I urge you to look away now. Are they gone? Good. Dwight Howard isn’t really Superman. A shock to some perhaps, but perhaps, just maybe if he can keep this insane play up over such unprecidented minutes (47 minutes per game) where the opponent is doing everything possible short of a chainsaw to bring him down, we may need to get him tested to see if he really is made of steel. We already know he can fly.
Can a team rebuild its chemistry and find its heart in a few short weeks after they gave theirs away to the Oklahoma City Thunder? (Also, how lazy were the town naming committee for Oklahoma City? Was it one vote away from being known as “Unnamed”?). Beyond the heart and soul question is the significant questions about if they have the size to defend the teams they will need to go through.
As we’ve discussed previously, the Heat vacillate between powerhouse and pauper, and it’s hard to know which team will turn up. It’s not correlated to home court or injuries, but simply energy. The only plus for Miami is that energy tends to provide itself the further you go into the post-season. Will that be enough? I don’t know, but I’m not willing to count out a team with three primary scoring threats and a strong defense.