My predictions have been pretty shitty. I'm really sorry. I suck.
Glad I got that over with. I am still pretty upset that Houston didn't make it past Game 7, which I was surprised they even had to play in the first place, considering their 2-0 lead. I am even more upset that Van Gundy is (or may be) leaving the team, which will surely ruin them. (As a Knicks fan, I am obligated to wonder, no matter how impossible it is, if Van Gundy will return to the blue and orange. Please god let this happen.)
I have to admit that Utah made everyone on Houston take its medicine, and made Yao look fairly European. Skip did not skip and Chuck chucked repeatedly, and the whole thing was a wash. What's a Van Gundy fan to do? (Move on to better things, apparently.)
Pursuant to Jimmy V's rules of predictions, this means I now officially name the Utah Jazz as the 2007 NBA Champions. A hard position to argue, I admit, but not untenable, thanks to the most dedicated and knowledgeable coach in the game. That's a story for another day, though.
I want to get to discussing the Spurs/Suns series. Every single person in the world thinks the Spurs, especially with their home court advantage, are a mortal lock. I do not understand this, for the following reasons:
(-I have been bitter towards the Spurs for, oh, about nine years now.)
-Game 1 was a tie game, and both of the Spurs' stars played exceptionally, along with Finley. They still barely won because Steve Nash wasn't allowed in by the Magic Johnson rule. The chances of this happening again are very slim, and I have to be honest, I think if Nash stayed in that game (and the referees didn't assume that every time Tim Duncan touches the floor, he has been fouled), the Suns would have won it.
-Steve Nash is not a pansy. He has to be furious. The refs kept him out of a game and his teammates proceeded to run patently shitty offensive sets (maybe D'Antoni deserves some blame here). I think he's the best guy on the floor, and he's surrounded by talented players. If they can just hustle, they can win going away.
-Let's just stop this charade and start Raja Bell or Lee Barbosa. (I am ordinarily against the shortening of names, but to me Leandro just doesn't sound like the stone-cold killer Barbosa is. I like Lee.) He is clearly unguardable because of his quickness, and he is reminding me more and more of one of my favorite players in the history of sport, Mr. Latrell Sprewell.
The above was written yesterday. I just logged on to my computer to find that the Suns had beaten the Spurs by 20. Yes and yes.
Last night, Tony Parker woke the fuck up, and scored 13, bringing his average back down to, well, his average. Steve Nash had 20 and 16. The Suns absolutely owned the fourth-quarter, traditionally the Spurs' best period. I don't think the Spurs can win this series. They're just not good enough.
The crazy thing, to me, is that Shawn Marion, who I have suggested is not quite right, had only five points. And they won by 20! Lee Barbosa also played a below-average game.
One factor in this series that I think will be important is free-throw shooting. The Suns will probably get an easy ten points every game because they are very good at shooting free throws, while the Spurs are very bad.
Suns in six, homey.
Back to playoff bullet points:
-The Cavs beat the Nets last night behind a Herculean effort from The Bron. Everyone on both teams played pretty well, but the difference was at center, where Ilgauskas attacked Jason Collins like Collins was a lesser Balkan country. (Yes, I know Zydrunas is from a completely different part of the world. I'm an ugly American, okay?)
-It's interesting to think that with Nenad Krstic, the Nets might be a Finals team. Has their ever been a team with a weaker history of post players? Derrick Coleman is the only one that comes to mind (and while Kenyon Martin was a great forward, he was not a post guy in my book). Kind of embarrassing for the front office.
-The Nets shot 52% and held the Cavs to 45%. The Nets shot 57% from behind the arc to the Cavs' 26%. The Nets only made four fewer free throws than the Cavs. However, the Nets gave up 19 offensive rebounds to the Cavs (to the Nets' three), which allowed them to get off twenty more shots. That's the story, right there. (Mikki Moore and Jason Collins, the Nets' two seven-foot players, played a combined 69 minutes. If they had each had four rebounds, that would be pretty depressing, but they had four combined.)
-I can't believe how badly the Pistons are pantsing the Bulls. They look more dangerous by the day. Ben Wallace is doing nothing to stop Chris Webber and it appears to me that he may be do for a little over rated chant. I may be echoing The Sports Guy here, but letting Tyson Chandler go was very, very dumb. (In contrast to Mr. Simmons, I don't think a trade for Gasol would have changed much in this series.)
-That said, Tyrus Thomas looks like a keeper. Imagine if he was opposite Chandler and not Wallace! The frontcourt would be an absolute nightmare for opposing coaches, especially with the excellent post-play of Luol "Deng that guy's good".
-What the hell is PJ Brown doing starting? Phonix starting Kurt Thomas against the Spurs makes some sense to me, but PJ Brown against the Pistons? Great idea, Skiles. Did he think he could bait the Pistons into starting Corliss Williamson and then realize that he hadn't been on the Pistons for five years?
-Deron Williams played unbelievably last night. I don't know if that was because Baron's a little slowed by his hammy or because Deron has been having a great year, but it's pretty significant considering the importance of Golden State winning the point guard war.
-The Warriors will have a lot of trouble covering Boozer in the post, and even Harpring will have a size and skill advantage.
-For the first time in the playoffs, everyone on the Warriors (even Al Harrington!) played well, and they still lost. Boozer and Giricek went a combined 8-25, and the Jazz still won.
-Kind of cool that Dee Brown had two huge forth-quarter shots. He qualifies as the Floyd Mayweather Jr. of basketball, who I don't really care for but god damn is that guy quick. Jerry Sloan might be wise to use him to throw the Warriors off if he wants to up the tempo
-Despite all of the above, the Warriors did seem to have this game in hand, and only blew it because they were playing against the coach who coaches coaches. I think they still have a chance. Jazz in...seven.
-One last thought: I was bitching about Greg Popovic not putting Brent Barry in against the Nuggets. This was a stupid complaint, and I should have recognized the Michael Finley is the guy you want in the playoffs, not Brent Barry.
As always, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.