Evidently, the Basketball gods read my post of a couple days ago and decided to shut me up for good with a certifiable classic between the Wizards and Bulls. Well, let me be the first to say, "THANK YOU".
If you weren't absolutely entranced by the end of that game last night then you just don't care much for playoff basketball. Nobody can blame you if you lost interest in the first half or even midway through the third quarter and, shit, I even turned on my shower with about a minute left in regulation and was forced to leave it running for the better part of twenty minutes. However, for those that did stay tuned in you were treated to one of the the greatest comebacks in NBA playoff history as well as a buzzer beater that will go down in Wizards and First round history.
One of the really amazing things about last night's game is that even though the Wizards were clearly feeling the pressure at many different points of the fourth quarter (doing everything to lose: from taking bad, quick shots to absolutely freezing on the foul line) they kept doing just enough where you would think, "Okay, that should be enough to hold the Bulls off." I must've said that to myself at least five times during the course of the Bulls' comeback. Even Scott Skiles had begun to concede victory when he inserted Jannero Pargo into the game for the purposes of fouling and shooting desperation threes. It just so happens that Jannero Pargo is the greatest garbage time shooter in the NBA today...or so it would seem based on his last two games. Of course, none of Pargo's threes would have made much difference if not for the entire Wizards team puling a collective Nick Anderson late in the fourth quarter. Antawn Jamison couldn't have looked less comfortable at the free throw line if he had been forced to watch his mother use a double ended dildo while shooting those foul shots. Even Larry Hughes (who carried Washington) and Gilbert Arenas were less than eager to be shooting free throws during crunch time. After Kirk Hinrich nailed the tying three pointer, you had to feel like the Bulls would find a way to win in overtime. I even began to think that the series was over for, all intents and purposes, as the Wiz would've been hard pressed to recover from such a devastating loss in time for Friday's game in Washington.
Of course, all of that was rendered moot when Gilbert Arenas hit one of the most (cue Rick James singing voice) coldblooded shots that you'll ever see. I actually said , "you'd better get a shot off" as Arenas was dribbling at the top of the key. It really seemed like he wasn't totally aware of the clock at one point when he was still 40 feet from the basket with about 3.5 seconds left. Instead, Gilbert had the clock timed perfectly and set himself up for an all or nothing shot that would, at worst, mean the Wizards were going to OT. It's tough to put into perspective how gutsy and tough a shot that was (of course, I'll try). Not only did Arenas have to get the shot off on one of the better defensive point guards in the league (who did a great job defending the shot), built he also had to deal with 7"1' Tyson Chandler flying out to contest the shot as well. Furthermore, when you consider that Arenas only had 14 points at the time and had shot rather horribly all game long it becomes even more impressive that he would have the confidence to take such a shot. While I'm passing out kudos (praise, not the chocolatey granola bars), let me take my hat off to Eddie Jordan. No, not for being unbelievably stubborn and refusing to match up with Chicago's three guard lineup but for realizing that, regardless of the night he was having, Arenas is his best player when it comes down to creating space for his own shot and allowing him to do what he does best, which is go one-on-one.
If you can't tell, last night really got me pumped for the remainder of the playoffs and especially for both of Friday night's games. Now that I've gotten my armchair analysis fix, I'll leave you with a few more things that I got to thinking about last night:
-If the Bulls can figure out how to defend adequately with Hinrich and Gordon as their starting guards, they are totally set for the next 10-12 years.
-Arenas and Hughes have a legit shot at being the best backcourt in the league for quite some time. Their versatility complements each other perfectly.
-TBS should really think about doing some type of original mini-series, actually make it a six-week television event. They could advertise it constantly during the NBA playoffs. Nobody's done a mini-series on the Old West...maybe they should think about doing something about that?
-It's far too late to go back and I doubt either the player or organization would want to, but Larry Hughes would now be everything that the Sixers wanted him to be as a backcourt mate to Allen Iverson. He can defend bigger guards, play the point, play off the ball, and also share the scoring load with Iverson. Not to mention that Hughes and Iverson are the two best passing lane defenders in the game today.
- Hopefully this series is the beginning of a long and storied rivalry between these two teams. It all depends on this summer. If the Wiz can lock up Larry Hughes and the Bulls can take care of Chandler and Curry then we could be in store for another 5-8 years of playoff battles between these two talented and unbelievably young teams.
- Does anything sum up the clusterfuck that is the Golden State Warriors front office as much the fact that they had Arenas, Hughes, and Jamison at the same time and let all of them go for next to nothing? I mean, you have the good sense to acquire and develop these players only to let them move on without getting anything of near equal value in return. It's amazing that Gary St. Jean could get hired to run a janitorial supply company, much less an NBA team.
- Does anybody else think that Chris Duhon is going to be starting for the Hawks or the Bobcats next year? I'd be amazed if Chicago can afford to re-sign him.
- He's young but Andres Nocioni is already among the greatest floppers of all time. He even managed to flop, and draw offensive foul calls, on two seperate plays where he was being screened last night. Prompting Steve Kerr to comment that the Argentinian National Team must have a flopping coach.
- Jared Jeffries looks like he is becoming a consumate stat sheet stuffer. He doesn't do anything great but he does alot of things well and is more than happy to do alot of the little things while getting his points off of broken plays and offensive rebounds. He'll probably never be good enough to start on a championship contender but he could certainly be a great second unit guy on an elite team.
- The Wizards would be down right scary and the prohibitive favorite in the Eastern Conference for the next decade or so if Kwame Brown hadn't been absolutely destroyed by Michael Jordan and Doug Collins. Can you imagine this team in two years if Kwame wasn't a shattered young man (confidence and attitude wise) from his early years in Washington? Even if Kwame only developed into a fringe All-Star level player, the Wizards would be absolutely stacked for the foreseeable future. He definitely has the talent and physical ability to be at least that good. Who knew that Michael Jordan would have such a lasting negative impact on this franchise?