Finally, it’s playoff time

04.16.09 9 years ago 42 Comments

Last night you saw reasons A-thru-Z why — even with Manu Ginobili out of the picture — nobody wants to draw the Spurs early in the playoffs: Tim Duncan. Needing a win over New Orleans to secure the 3rd seed in the West and win another division title (a loss could have dropped them to 5th place), Duncan turned into the bad guy from No Country For Old Men in overtime. Mid-range J’s, off-balance hooks, owning the glass, saving loose balls, blocking shots and dropping dimes like Al Harrington wishes he could, Duncan (20 pts, 19 rebs, 6 asts) won the game by himself while the Spurs announcers made sounds on-air that you should only make with the lights off … That the game even got to overtime was crazy enough. With less than a minute to go in the fourth, N.O. went ahead by five on a David West (34 pts) baseline jumper — after which you could hear the air go out of the San Antonio crowd — and it was still a two-possession game a little later when Rasual Butler split a pair of free throws. The Spurs just kept clawing, though, and trailed by three with seven seconds left. Right after the Spurs broadcast ran a montage of Roger Mason‘s game-winners, Pop drew up a brilliant play where he focused the defense’s attention on Mason while Mike Finley slipped behind a Duncan screen and knocked down a three at the buzzer … The Rockets also went into Wednesday’s schedule with a shot at the Southwest Division crown, and were in pretty good shape when they led the Mavs by 14 midway through the third quarter. And then Josh Howard and Jason Terry got involved. Howard turned into Kevin Martin, getting to the line repeatedly and scoring 13 points in the third (seven at the stripe), then Terry dropped 14 in the fourth to complete the comeback. Jason Kidd had a triple-double (11 pts, 10 rebs, 12 asts) and Dirk added 30 points … One time Mark Jackson was describing a Terry bucket and said JT “gets the air space.” But for a second it definitely sounded like he said “gets the ass face.” … By winning five of their last six games the Mavs secured the West’s 6th seed, while the loss left the Rockets knowing they’ll be facing the Blazers in the first round, but whether they’d be the 4th seed (homecourt) or 5th depended on Portland’s game against the Nuggets. And in that game, the Blazers smashed Denver even without playing their key guys a lot of minutes … How sick was Kenyon Martin‘s tip-dunk at the end of the first quarter? Hubie Brown and Kevin Calabro, who between them have been announcing games for like 60 years (throw in however many years Hubie coached; and remember he was the guy who taught Bob Cousy how to do a crossover), were left almost speechless. They were both reduced to going “Wow!” and “Oh man!” for a while before regaining their senses …

The last bit of important business involved Bulls/Raptors and Cavs/Sixers. The Bulls had a chance to secure the East’s 6th seed with a win, but came out uninspired and flat (almost like they’d rather play Boston than Orlando) and got smacked. This was the game the Raptors have been waiting to play all year: Chris Bosh (21 pts, 19 rebs), Shawn Marion (34 pts, 11 rebs) and Jose Calderon (14 pts, 14 asts) looked like a legit Big Three. If anyone really believed in that “something to build on” stuff, Raps fans would be happy … Meanwhile, the Sixers earned the 6th seed by knocking off the Cavs at the Q. LeBron, Mo Williams and Big Z sat it out — ‘Bron looked like a gigantic English professor with his Burberry vest — so Philly goes down as just the second team to win a game in Cleveland all yearBoobie Gibson was getting buckets (28 pts, 4 threes), including a trey in the fourth quarter in front of Andre Miller where he stood there and left his hand in the air longer than Sanaa Lathan, and Gibson hit the OT-forcing three with less than a second to go in the fourth. With time winding down in the extra frame and Cleveland down three, Boobie pulled a step-back move on Thad Young behind the arc, and when Thad recovered to challenge the three, Boobie juked him again to get in the lane for a finger roll. Miller (30 pts, 8 asts) then missed two free throws on the other end, giving the Cavs the ball, down one, with 3.7 seconds on the clock. Inbounds to Boobie, but Royal Ivey (who got hit up on that OT-forcing three) jumped on him like Junkyard Dog, harrassing and humping his leg to where he couldn’t even get a shot off. Ivey may have even been barking in that last sequence … Other big stat lines on the last day of meaningless games: Kevin Durant had 26 points, nine rebounds and four steals in a win over the Clippers; Caron Butler scored 39 in a loss to Boston; Danny Granger dropped 35 in a win over Milwaukee; O.J. Mayo went for 26 points in a win over Atlanta; Kwame Brown (seriously) put up 17 points and 13 boards in a loss to Miami; Grant Hill had 27 points, 10 boards, five assists and four steals in a win over the Warriors, while Anthony Morrow had 33 points and 12 rebounds in the loss; and Ike Diogu posted 28 points and 13 boards in Sacramento’s win over the Wolves. Is there such a thing as a contract week? Ike’s gonna have to pimp last night’s game and his 30/10 game the other night against the Nuggets so hard in free agency, he might as well hire Mr. Whitefolks as his agent … We’re out like 14 teams …

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