LeBron vs. Carmelo has yet to translate into the rivalry everyone expected coming into the 2003-2004 season. It’s not because both players have had subpar careers or because their respective teams have sucked. Instead, we’ve never gotten a chance to see arguably the league’s best scorer and arguably the best all around player go head-to-head in a playoff series. The crazy thing is, we’re only weeks away from a Miami/New York first round showdown. That could easily be the best first round matchup regardless of conference because of three key factors.
1. Who doesn’t want to see MSG rocking during the playoffs? And against the Heat? If there could somehow be a fight resulting in Erik Spoelestra hanging from Tyson Chandler’s leg, Charles Oakley running from the stands with a steel chair with Alonzo Mourning in hot pursuit and Spike Lee instigating the entire scene, I’d really be able to cross item #19 off my bucket list.
2. Pending New York can get healthy, they’re scary as shit to play in the first round.
3. Do you know how bad I need a LeBron statement game on the road? I need LeBron to close Game 6 at the Garden by scoring Miami’s last 12 points and stopping Melo on the other end. I need this for my psyche moving forward. Not including this one, that’s “need” used three times in three sentences.
In regards to yesterday’s game, Carmelo Anthony should probably petition the league to have every Knicks Sunday home game be televised. He dropped 43 in an instant classic against the Bulls last week and damn near willed New York past Miami with 42 points. This is the Carmelo Knicks fans praised last season and the one who damn near drove them insane (well, more than New Yorkers already are) during points this season with uninspired play. When Melo’s invested, he’s as fun to watch play as anyone in basketball; simple as that. Where Melo got his buckets by using Shane Battier as a puppet most of the game, he didn’t get much help elsewhere as the rest of the starters only mustered 19 points. The fact still remains New York needs Jeremy Lin back to solidify their point guard position because the duo of Mike Bibby and Baron Davis isn’t exactly intimidating. And I can’t remember the last time I saw Toney Douglas contribute anything significantly.
Miami, on the other hand, still continues to play 3-on-whatever-the-other-team-has. Wade, Bosh and LBJ combined for 73 of the 93 points. Wade’s big first quarter was the precursor for his almost mechanical stretch of buckets in the fourth quarter. LeBron finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds and, argue this all you please, put vice grip-like defense on Carmelo the final seven minutes of the game. Anthony went 1-4 with Bron checking him in the fourth making the race for Defensive Player Of The Year (Ibaka, Chandler and Bron) possibly more exciting than the MVP (Bron and Durant). Yet, the most important performance came from Chris Bosh who tallied 16 points and 14 rebounds. Check this stat out. Sunday’s double-double was his first since February 21. Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated hit the nail head. If Miami wants to win a title, LeBron’s play will be the focus, but Bosh’s play could be difference in between bringing a title or South Beach and whether or not I go into hiding.
That said, I know I’m changing my tune, but this needs to be the first round matchup. There’s just no other way around it. Oh, and Spo, if you’re reading this, sit LeBron versus the Nets.
The backend of the double header was a rematch of the series that ended Phil Jackson’s career, proved to be Lamar Odom’s last game as a Laker (and player who actually gave a damn) and the infamous Andrew Bynum-JJ Barea mid-air rib shot. On the surface, learning Kobe was a no-show for the fifth straight game was probably enough for some to say “screw this” and go throw burgers and hot dogs on the grill.
Those with the will power to stick around saw Kobe (in what I swore was a Men In Black suit before I realized he had a purple tie) drawing up plays on the sideline (un)intentionally giving Mike Brown’s already suspecting coaching habits another black eye. How ironic is it that the two Los Angeles basketball franchise are ran by two coaches with lower approval ratings than George W. Bush circa 2007?
On the court, Dirk never truly found his jumper while still managing to end up with 24 points and 14 rebounds. It hasn’t been the greatest season ever following last June’s title, but Dirk in the playoffs is must see TV and, like Miami/New York, his Mavs could be right back in Los Angeles two weeks from now for a first round series. This reminds me. From a manhood standpoint, Pau Gasol has to want a rematch against Dirk in the playoffs after the emasculation he gave him damn near a year ago.
Speaking of Marc’s older brother, he and Andrew Bynum continue to show why they’re the best combo of big men in basketball (just you wait un Z-Bo and Marc get going!) by combining for 43 points and 26 rebounds on Sunday. Also, don’t be surprised if Bynum ends up as the center on the First Team All NBA Honors with Dwight Howard having the season from P.R. hell. It’s not exactly out of the realm of possibility.
The Lakers won 112-108 in an overtime which saw Gasol hit back to back three pointers; one being in very controversial fashion after Matt Barnes clearly got away with basket interference. The victory also improves L.A.’s record to 4-1 without Bean. What that means in the grand scheme of things, I have no clue, but I’m sure someone in the comment section will shoot the “L.A.’s better without Kobe” silver bullet and see if it draws a reaction.
In other NBA news:
— Derrick Rose led Chicago past the Pistons with 24 points and nine assists in an 100-94 overtime victory, bloody nose and all. Unfortunately, the White Mamba (Brian Scalabrine) did not see any playing time. We need Scal to get some tick in the playoffs. It’s asking for entirely too much, but in a season that’s been anything but conventional, a game winning Scal three pointer in the postseason would instantly become one of the greatest YouTube clips of all time.
— It’s looking like Orlando may be without Dwight Howard for quite sometime. I’m not sure if their 100-84 victory over AJ’s Cavs says more about them or the fact Cleveland is probably tanking at an outside shot of luring The Brow to The ‘Land.
— Sacramento beat Portland by one point, 104-103, in a game that featured two teams who had such provocative potential months ago. They’re the girl in the club who looks amazing in dimly lit settings. Then, the lights turn on.
— With Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce not even in the state of North Carolina, Boston beat Mike Jordan’s boys 94-82, signifying one thing. The 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats suck and we’re staring quite possibly the most ironic thing in the history of irony in the face. How in the hell does Mike hold the honor of being on the best team ever (’96 Bulls, 72-10) and potentially the worst team ever? I don’t even want Anthony Davis to go to Charlotte. Mike would probably make him shave the unibrow thus zapping all of his superpowers. And he’d do it all by wearing one of those bacon neck t-shirts.