In those two long, slow days between the end of the regular season and the start of the NBA playoffs — as well as the actual off-days during the playoffs — there’s really nothing left to do but get injured or let some “bulletin-board material” slip out of your mouth. So far there hasn’t been much going on injury-wise beyond the Kevin Garnett news, and no smack talk other than a couple of Sixers admitting Orlando would be “easier” to go through than Boston. (Which, honestly, Dwight Howard would probably admit to himself when nobody’s looking) … If anything, the motivation issue will first make an appearance right before the Cavs and Pistons get going, when LeBron and his comedy troupe-mates do whatever they’re gonna do for a pre-game act. The announcers will talk about the risk of offending the veteran Pistons, you might even get a shot of Rasheed Wallace to see if he reacts, but it’ll be a non-issue whenever Cleveland starts turning the screws in on Detroit … Or maybe the Pistons do have a chance? Dime is previewing each series in our Playoff Blogger Faceoff, starting yesterday with Cavs/Pistons and Celtics/Bulls. More to come today and tomorrow as well … How’s this for motivational material: ESPN’s Jamal Mashburn was talking about the Rockets yesterday and called Yao Ming “supposedly your ‘go-to’ guy,” and basically said he shrinks under the pressure late in a game. Wonder if Yao heard that one … Two things you’re not gonna be able to avoid during the Blazers game: Some kind of interview with Bill Walton, and a lot of discussion of Greg Oden‘s health. Oden missed practice on Friday with a sinus infection, and is listed as a game-time decision. We’re thinking he’ll play. Portland needs him, especially if Joel Przybilla gets in foul trouble against Yao. When he does play, though, G.O. needs to avoid the fouls. It’s been his main problem all year (well, aside from the injuries), and you know Rick Adelman will look to take advantage of the rookie … We handed out two more NBA awards yesterday: Dime’s Coach of the Year (sorry, it’s not Jerry Sloan again), and Defensive Player of the Year, a pick that ended up sparking a lot of hate, even within the office. See if you think we got it right … X-factors to look out for today: Tyrus Thomas (will he take advantage of his athletic advantage over Big Baby/Mikki Moore/Leon Powe?), Delonte West (if he plays well, the Cavs win going away), Roger Mason (maybe the most important game he’s ever had a major role in), and Aaron Brooks (Houston needs to stay in their game and not let the Portland crowd become a factor). Who makes the biggest impact of those four? … Let the games begin. We’re out like waiting …
Playoffs? Are you kidding me?
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