When the playoffs first began, there were two separate series that I was most interested in. Those two were the Wizards-Bulls and the Mavericks-Rockets, respectively. Unfortunately for me, I have been rendered unable to watch most of the Wizards-Bulls series due to a confluence of my horrible work schedule and the NBA’s equally awful decision to broadcast every other game in this series on national television. As a result, even the games that I’d be able to watch between the Wiz and Bulls end up on Comcast and I end up having to watch Stuart Scott show me five highlights of a playoff game.
Which brings me to yet another beef with ESPN. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to give a little priority to NBA playoff games over early May baseball games? By priority, I don’t only mean the time in which you show these highlights, but also using this time to show a more extended recap of the games highlights. You absolutely cannot convince me that a White Sox-Royals matchup deserves as much air time as a Game 4 or 5 of the first round of the NBA playoffs. Instead of realizing a need for a change in format, ESPN and its producers just plug in the same amount of highlights from each game like they would for a Cavs-Knicks game in mid-February. Just ridiculous.
Sadly, mediocrity is what most of us have come to expect from ESPN and it doesn’t look like change is coming anytime soon.
As for the Wiz-Bulls, from what I can gather this has been a less than exciting series with each team playing exceedingly well at home while their counterparts play predictably tight during their first playoff forays onto the road. It doesn’t seem like either team has been able to match the others intensity early in games and, as a result, we’re ending up with a lot of comebacks that fall just short. I picked the Wiz to win this series and I still think that they will. Simply put, Chicago lacks the offensive versatility to consistently make the Wiz pay for their sometimes porous defense. With that said, Chicago’s defense had to leave a lot to be desired last night since Juan Dixon scored 35. Who was guarding him, Joe Forte? Hopefully I’ll get to watch these last three games and, more importantly, I’m hopeful that we can get at least two legitimate nail biters (or barn burners, whichever your preference) out of these last three games.
As for the Mavs-Rockets series, I have been able to watch most of these games and they couldn’t be more intriguing to me. The chess game of matchups that is being played between Avery Johnson and Jeff Van Gundy is made for true NBA fans because, as we all know…the NBA is ALL about matchups (Sorry…Hubie Brown and Dick Stocktom just wrestled my keyboard away from me for a minute there.) Watching the Rockets continually exploit the Mavs lack of size late was unbelievably frustrating to see. Avery Johnson was basically giving up a layup or two free throws every time down because he refused to put Erick “Second Best Center in the NBA” Dampier back in. If it wasn’t for both McGrady and Yao (to a greater extent) missing a bunch of foul shots late, the media would be killing Avery’s lack of adjustments right now. Here are a few other things I’ve noticed while watching this series:
-Josh Howard is doing a very good job of hassling McGrady. He isn’t going to keep McGrady from getting his shot but he is making him take a lot of tough shots that are out of McGrady’s comfort zone.
- I like how the Rockets were running a double team (with Yao) at Dirk last night and forcing other players to make shots. I’ll always take my chances with someone other than Dirk shooting the last shot.
-It’s encouraging to see Dirk get what proved to be the winning bucket on something other than a jumper. He is too dangerous an all around player to be SO dependent on his jumpshot. A play like that could be what makes the proverbial light go off in his head and convinces him to become more aggressive on the offensive boards as well as post up situations.
-Losing Keith Van Horn hasn’t hurt the Mavs all that much. If only because now you have a court full of guys who are comfortable with the ball late in the game (Stackhouse, Terry, Dirk, Finley, even Daniels and Howard) instead of four and one guy who thinks he’s playing hot potato.
-Jon Barry and David Wesley are basically the same player. They both plant themselves at the three point line and wave their arms while a teammate dribbles and/or drives.
- Jason Terry isn’t a very good point, because he’s too much of a natural scorer, but without him the Mavs wouldn’t have won a game in this series. Not only has he hit some big shots in the fourth quarter, but can you really imagine Devin Harris playing 35 minutes a game in this series? Or Marquis Daniels handling the point guard duties? Ugh.
-What does the “MFFL” on Mark Cuban’s shirts mean?
- NBA referees are awful. How can the crew of playoff refs have missed Michael Finley’s steal when he smacked the ball away from Jon Barry while standing OUT OF BOUNDS? You have a ref stationed on the baseline for just such plays and you’re telling me that nobody saw the play or, at least, thought it looked odd? There is no excuse for that level of ineptitude when you are at, supposedly, the height or your profession.
- Has anybody noticed how much more “black” the highlight accompaniments are for Scott Van Pelt when he’s teamed with Stuart Scott? Hey! You handle all the on location golf coverage for ESPN, nobody is buying the hip, urban schtick so give it a damn rest already.