The glass half full approach says be thankful we’re one game away from leaving the longest first round in professional sports behind. The glass half empty approach is bummed we won’t get to witness the madness which would have been five Game 7’s.
1. It’s tough for me to say too many kind things about the Boston Celtics, but this needs to be quoted on the record. If last night truly was the end of an era – as the great Jackie MacMullan says it is – those bastards had a damn good run. Down more than 15 points twice in the game, Beantown fought back to within four points only to run out of gas at the end. However one choses to remember this Celtics era – through their 2008 championship and/or the missed title chances in 2009 and 2010 – one thing a hater like myself can never take from them is their heart. They’re the closest thing to this Rocky Balboa scene I’ve witnessed in the NBA the past decade.
The Knicks, however, move on to the second round for the first time since Nelly burst on the scene with Country Grammar. They did so behind strong Game 6 performances from Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert, who dropped 15 of his 17 points in the second half. Moving forward for Knickerbockers, two things serve of keen interest.
One, can Carmelo find his shooting touch again (despite averaging 29 per game, he’s only shooting 38%) and how bothersome will that shoulder of his become? And two, can they score more than the 87.7 points per game they did in the first round?
2. Let the record show not one person in America – outside of the 19 diehard Hawks fans in Atlanta – wanted to see Pacers/Hawks go seven games. Thankfully, this root canal of a series is over and we can all move on with our lives. Let us now pray that Kenyon Martin and David West become acquainted with each other very, very soon. And by acquainted I mean via elbows, trash talk and all-around (clean) physical play.
Twenty bucks says they have Reggie Miller calling this series and I’m placing the over/under at 12 times for some Reggie/John Starks/Spike Lee video montage.
3. The Grizzlies pulled off a delayed sweep of the Clippers and the dominant talk in NBA circles has the Grizz power walking their way directly to the Finals. Zach Randolph looks like Z-Bo again. Marc Gasol is riding shotgun with him all but restricting access to the paint. Meanwhile, their perimeter guys look as comfortable on the wing as they have in weeks; Mike Conely in particular has quietly supplanted himself as one of the league’s best point guards.
For the Clippers, decisions are to be made. Vinny Del Negro has probably already put his resume on CareerBuilder and updated his LinkedIn page. And while I’m 88% sure Chris Paul will re-sign with Lob City, “88% sure” and “bet my life savings” are two different things. Also, and I’m positive Smarter will kill me for this, but Blake has to stop letting dudes soil his good name. Just violently staring at people isn’t going to get the job done.
Don’t get it twisted, this isn’t a call to incite a bench clearing brawl a la Malice At The Palace Pt. II. And walking away is the sign of a bigger man in most cases, but damn, Blake. A little something to show your detractors you’re more than a 250-inch vertical and dope time travel commercials is necessary at times. Basically, what I’m trying to say is, everyone is in awe of BG32. No one is actually scared of BG32.
4. The Rockets made it fun for about 40 minutes, but OKC’s fourth quarter push killed any thought of a “James Harden shocks the world in a Game 7 in Oklahoma City.” Kevin Martin made up for his three-point embarrassment in Game 5 with 25 points in Game 6; a performance the Thunder will need replicated over and over if they want to make a now-improbable run to June.
And get off Kevin Durant’s back about this zero point fourth quarter on Wednesday, America. Dropping 27 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals in a close out game on the road speaks for itself.
5. I’ll spare you another 2,500-word biblical verse for now but…Long Live The King. LeBron James is the first person in history to average 26-8-7 while shooting 55% from the field. Four MVPs and five years with a club membership that includes Russell, Chamberlain, Jabaar, Jordan and now LeBron.
Enjoy your Saturday, folks.