The early rounds of the NBA playoffs have been a whirlwind. Great performances, dramatic twists (ankles mostly) and a few shockers. So how can we keep track of these innumerable story lines that are threading together to form the tapestry of the 2011 NBA championship? Well friends, that’s what the NBA Reset is for.
Let us begin with the starting five:
1. On the Ropes
Last week I used a Rocky boxing analogy to describe the Memphis – San Antonio series. In that scenario the Spurs were Rocky, poised to take retribution on a once underestimated opponent. Except what I didn’t count on was that in this version Clubber Lang would come back and practically pound Rocky into retirement.
The Spurs looked ancient in getting run off the court on Monday evening. Even if they do by some miracle find a way to come back and win this series the rest of the league smells blood. It seemed like Duncan, Pop and the rest of them would just keep rolling along cranking out 55 win seasons and getting to the conference Finals year after year. Now, on the brink of back to back first round exits, is it time to blow the Spurs up (or at least make some monumental changes)? Me thinks so.
2. About that Injury
Say what? I wasted (apparently) an entire 400 word editorial musing over the severity of KB24’s injury, and whether his reluctance to undergo tests might portend some greater meaning. Just goes to show how much sports bloggers know. What he and the Lakers exhibited is exactly what the Spurs have not been able to demonstrate against the Grizz. Namely, that they still have something left in the tank for this playoffs moving forward.
Mind you, the march to a 3-peat isn’t going to be easy. It’ll be a grind. Think William Wallace invading Northern England, sacking it castle by castle. It will be grimy, gritty and at times, utterly brutal (warning: there may be a few
decapitations monster facial dunks). But they showed fight on Tuesday and it might be just the spirit they need to make a run at another title.
3. Below Expectations
New York – Boston? Well if you’ve read any the Resets over the past few weeks you know my feelings towards the Knicks are well documented. A mediocre team mascaraing as a playoff sleeper. Boston put them down like a sick pup. You knew it was bad when the Knicks only chance at salvaging game 4 was in the hands of… Anthony Carter. Yes, that Anthony Carter! Unreal.
But as for Denver – OKC… what the hell happened? Are the Thunder really that good? Despite the Nugget’s surviving game 4 most assume that OKC is prime to win in 5. And if they do, and Memphis advances, then the Thunder will be odds on favorites for the conference finals, potentially setting up an epic showdown with the Lakers. Of course, the Lakers still have a done of work to do to make that happen…
4. The Roy Wonder
Probably the biggest heart tugging moment of the playoffs so far was watching Brandon Roy reach back for the past, the all too recent past, and deliver an MVP type performance in the fourth quarter of game 4 versus the Mavericks. Watching the highlights of Roy make clutch shot after clutch shot in leading his team back from a 23 point deficit was inspiring. Roy is regarded as a genuinely good guy and he was practically in tears as his teammates encircled him following the dramatic finish.
Still, on Monday he followed up his epic performance with a 2 for 7 stinker on the road in game 5. I guess he’s not “back” but I sure hope he has a little magic left in those frail knees of his. At least two more games worth anyway.
5. Imminent Departure
Orlando, down 3 – 2 in the series, is fighting for more than just their playoff lives right now against the Hawks . They fighting to keep Dwight Howard. And if they lose this series they might as well kiss D12 goodbye.
Magic GM Otis basically sold out for this year. He tried to acquire as much firepower as he possibly could in the form of J-Rich, Hedo and Gil Arenas, but he also took on some ridiculous contracts in the process. It will take awhile before that cap mess can be cleared up and they’re able to make any significant improvements to the team. Dwight sees the writing on the wall. Does he want to spend the prime years of his career on a perennial second round playoff team? Lebron didn’t. Bosh didn’t.
Let the trade rumors to the Lakers begin!
Next Page: Bits and Pieces
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