Monthly Archives: April 2010

the celtics could not have screwed up worse

it’s really pretty amazing how bad the celtics closed the season.  they had a legitimate shot at the number 3 spot in the east, i.e. avoiding cleveland until the finals (if they made it that far), and a getting a first-round playoff matchup against the bogut-less bucks…but no…in a stretch of twelve days between april 2 and april 13 (yes, that’s 12 days, not eleven) they managed to post losses to the rockets, the knicks, the wizards, and the bulls (never mind tonight’s meaningless loss to milwaukee in which they rested the three green amigos).  that’s unconscionable!  the hawks had even left the door open by themselves losing a gimme against detroit and one against charlotte, although other than that they took care of business against the pancakes left on their schedule.  now, despite their record, the rockets are actually a tough team that brings it every night, so maybe that’s excusable…but the knicks, wiz, and bulls?  what, the celts frontline was overmatched by jo-no and brad miller?  well, perhaps the bostons couldn’t be bothered to put out, figuring that either way they were going to have to get through both orlando and cleveland, both on the road, in some order (barring a hawks upset that i doubt anyone is banking on), so why waste energy now?  or maybe they have some reason for thinking miami would be a better matchup than milwaukee, though bogut’s injury happened on april 3 so it seems hard to believe that they could think they’d have an easier time with the heat than with a depleted bucks squad.  no, the only thing i can figure is those boys are running on fumes, and frankly, it seems to me they are facing the legitimate possibility of not making it out of the first round…don’t get me wrong, they’re still the favorite in the first round, but do they have anyone who can contain dwayne wade?  i don’t think so.  give the heat a puncher’s chance, and plan on it going at least 6, possibly 7.  then assuming they stagger past miami, the worn out old men get to face a cleveland squad that will be looking forward to continuing the, um, conversation that garnett was having with lebron at the end of their most recent match.  i really cannot wait to watch that.  the cavs are going to hand those guys their leprechaun heads.  i am particularly looking forward to seeing how much fun rasheed has leaning against the diesel, earning all that money they’re paying him.

is tonight’s lakers-nuggets a must-win for l.a.?

still much excitement left in the western conference between now and the end of the regular season.  case in point: tonight’s contest between l.a. and denver.  for denver, the game matters a lot in terms of where they’ll end the season in the western conference rankings, and in particular whether they’ll have home court advantage in rounds one and, possibly, two of the playoffs.  for the lakers, tonight’s game is important, but for a more subtle reason.  in the event they make the finals, it may affect on whose court the close-out game gets played.  of course, if cleveland is the eastern conference’s entry in the finals, it’s irrelevant.  but if orlando can beat cleveland, then the fact that orlando trails l.a. by only one game in the loss column as of today may be important.  the lakers have two games against quality opponents remaining with five left to play (denver and portland, with what should be “easy” games against the clips, twolves, and kings to fill it out), while the magic face only one, cleveland, with four to go (the others being the knicks, indiana, and philly).

to my mind, orlando, despite the weaker record, is well-positioned to upset the king and his court.  orlando has a very clear offensive structure and a nasty d.  in contrast, cleveland strikes me as a bunch of guys more than a team per se.  guys with talent, to be sure, but i’m never quite sure what they’ll go to when tested, whereas with orlando you get the sense that they have a much clearer sense of their go-to sets, of what they’re (all) going to do when things get tight.  of course, in cleveland, the go-to set consists of handing the ball to lebron somewhere beyond the 3-point line, and see what happens.  very often, what happens is good, ’cause he’s so hard to stop.  beyond that, in a weird way, maybe it’s hard to set up a defensive scheme for a club with an amorphous O like cleveland.  that said, orlando plays a very well-run, diversified offense.  they’re strong, and they’re deep, and every player seems very clear on his role.  i don’t get the sense that when things get tense they’ll start to question what they’re doing, while i think that cleveland may.  the bottom line is, while cleveland may be a favorite, i don’t count them a big favorite against orlando, and i would not in the least be surprised to see orlando return to the finals…

if that happens, the lakers may need to win out during the regular season to be sure that the finals end in staples ctr.  tonight’s game against denver represents their toughest remaining challenge, and so maybe, in an odd way, the lakers need to see this game as a must-win.

we’ll see…

western conference playoff wish list

well, with three to five games left to play, the western conference playoff rankings are still up for grabs, although a little stratification is setting in.  the lakers are five games ahead of everyone in the loss column, and have five left to play.  the 2, 3 and 4 teams right now (dallas, denver, phoenix) all have 27 losses, with the 5 (utah) with 28.  then there’s a huge drop-off of two games in the loss column for 6-8 (portland, san antonio, ok city).  looking at the schedule and the standings, i have a clear wish list.  i’d love to see portland beat dallas at portland on friday night.  after that dallas has the clips and sacramento, and then a toughie at home against san antonio to close the season.  if portland (or san antonio) can beat dallas, and if phoenix can win out (a tall order: they play @ok city, houston, denver, @utah), then phoenix would take the 2 spot no matter what else happens (since they’d have dealt denver and utah losses).  my dream scenario has dallas in the 3 spot, with denver and utah beating each other senseless in a first round matchup.  assuming dallas and phoenix can win their first rounders (no guarantee of course), that gives phoenix the best possible chance of getting to the conference finals…

oh…you say, i’m showing my lakers bias?  yeah, i guess so…in that scenario, i frankly think the lakers have a tougher test in the conference semi-finals than in the conference finals.  i admit it…i’d like to see l.a. have to face either denver or utah, not both.  that said, denver is a shadow of its former self right now, probably atttributable in part to the loss of george karl, but also due to kmart’s absence and the birdman’s decline.  well, they do say watch what you wish for…

any way it works out, it should be interesting, and fun…but speaking for myself, i want to see as many phoenix games as possible, and that’s not just because i think the lakers can handle those guys, but because i think they are still one of the most enjoyable teams in the league to watch.  they play hoops, not wrestling, and in the playoffs, i prefer watching hoops to watching wrestling.