Monday , May , 02 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Trash Talk: Volume XVIII

Hi, all. Didn’t I tell you the first round would be fun? Let’s run through the match-ups as they stand at this moment.

Miami (1) vs. New Jersey (8)

A thorough beating. New Jersey’s big names are playing out of their minds, but Miami is a class apart. The double-overtime thriller that was game three may have led some to believe that the Nets have a chance of snatching one from the Heat, but it did quite the opposite for me. Jason finished the game with a triple-double and Vince was only one rebound shy of doing the same, while Shaq and Dwyane had, for them, absolutely disgusting nights from the field. Superman, normally a 60% shooter, went 8-19 and, still troubled by a badly bruised thigh, grabbed only six boards. The Flash had a similarly poor outing, connecting on only six of his nineteen attempts while turning the ball over nine times, more than double his average.

<b>NBA Trash Talk</b>: <I>Volume XVIII</I>“/>Even with all of that, the Nets continually looked as if they were struggling to keep their heads above water, never truly taking control of the game.  They stayed alive only thanks to a shot by Carter that somehow dropped after having hit – almost literally – every part of the rim.  Down the stretch, however, Diesel let them know who was boss, muscling his way inside and hitting hook shots to put Miami ahead, with hustle plays from Udonis Haslem and Alonzo Mourning clinching the win. </p>
<p>In games one and two, New Jersey were comprehensively whipped, losing the pair by a combined thirty-five points, despite having Shaq on the floor for only fifty-eight minutes.  My conclusion?  Get the brooms out. </p>
<p>Breaking news: Miami just put New Jersey out of their misery, closing out the series with a 110-97 victory.  It looks like I was right. </p>
<p><b>Detroit (2) vs. Philadelphia (7)</b></p>
<p>Another fairly lopsided series here.  As I predicted last week, it took a massive game from A.I. (thirty-seven and fifteen on 15-26 shooting) and 55% team shooting to lift the Sixers to a win.  While the Pistons aren’t the same team after the DetRIOT (that’s a pun, not a typo), they’re at least showing glimpses of the form that won them the championship last year, and that should be enough to send Philly home for the summer. </p>
<p>It was a simple joke that made me realise that the Sixers are doomed to the lottery or first-round exits for the foreseeable future. </p>
<p><I>What’s the difference between Chris Webber and a dollar? </p>
<p>A dollar gives you four quarters.</I></p>
<p>When your second option is as effective as a solar-powered torch in the clutch, you have little hope of winning a playoff series, especially when your opponent has a fresh championship banner hanging over the court.  Another huge (and I mean huge) game from A.I. might result in a second home win for Philadelphia, but that will be their lot.  Expect this one to be over in six or less. </p>
<p>Breaking news: Detroit win in overtime to go up 3-1. </p>
<p><b>Boston (3) vs. Indiana (6)</b></p>
<p>This one is turning out to be pretty interesting.  Although I initially predicted an easy ride for Boston, the Pacers don’t seem to want to take this one lying down.  Reggie is playing as if he were thirty again and Stephen Jackson is picking up the slack while Jermaine O’Neal plays virtually one-handed. Home-court advantage doesn’t seem to be making much difference in this series, so it’s anybody’s to take.  I’m sticking with my prediction of Boston for the moment, but I wouldn’t put the house on it.  </p>
<p>If this one goes the full seven, expect Reggie to show the kids why he was called “Superman” before Shaq even thought of getting the tattoo.  I’m enjoying this match-up far more than I thought I would, and it’s my good luck that both teams are set on making it last as long as possible. </p>
<p><b>Chicago (4) vs. Washington (5)</b></p>
<p>When describing this series, one word comes to mind: fun.  These two teams are hungrier than David Blaine in a box, and that is manifesting itself in some of the most entertaining basketball I’ve seen in a while.  Nocioni (yeah, that guy) posted a ridiculous line to earn the Bulls a victory in game one, and The Hinrich Manoeuvre had a phenomenal night in the second game, scoring thirty-four points in twenty-four minutes. </p>
<p>In game three the Wizards finally found the magic that had brought them forty-five regular-season wins, winning on the back of a combined seventy-four points from their big three.  The next game is at Washington, and I anticipate a win for the Wizards, which will tie the series at two games apiece.  What happens next?  I have no clue, but I know one thing for damn sure: it’s going to be fun. </p>
<p><b>Phoenix (1) vs. Memphis (8)</b></p>
<p>broom, brush, brush up, clean, clear, clear up, mop, ready, remove, scrub, tidy, vacuum</p>
<p>According to my thesaurus, those are all synonyms for sweep.  See where I’m going with this?  Welcome to Sweepsville; Population: Memphis. </p>
<p><b>San Antonio (2) vs. Denver (7)</b></p>
<p>Even as a Denver fan, I wasn’t too excited by the outcome of game one.  The Nugs may have picked up a “W” in the Spurs’ building, but a thirty-one-point game from Andre Miller is about as rare as a bad shooting night for Duncan, and both of those occurred in the first game of this series.  Add to that a horrible performance from Tony Parker and it’s surprising that San Antonio didn’t lose by more. </p>
<p>As much as I love them, Denver are just too young and inexperienced to test this veteran squad.  With the mobility in Tim Duncan’s ankle improving every game, they’ll find it increasingly difficult to cover both him and the Spurs’ excellent perimeter players, and as the series goes on they’ll see Ginobili and others scoring off cuts more often.  Parker is bound to shake off his poor play sooner or later, and this will only serve to cause Denver more problems as they scrabble to guard yet another player capable of sinking long-range shots. </p>
<p>Another mediocre night from Duncan and thirty points from ‘Melo might stretch the series to six, but there’s nothing to indicate that this will happen.  Despite their astonishing run to close out the regular season, the final buzzer of game five should be the end of the road for the Nuggets. </p>
<p><b>Seattle (3) vs. Sacramento (6)</b></p>
<p>Before this series began, I saw it as Bibby, Stojakovic and Miller versus Lewis and Allen.  Three games in, however, and it has become clear that the role players are to be a big part of this match-up.  It wasn’t Ray and Rashard’s scoring that won Seattle the first game, but the thirty rebounds grabbed between Reggie Evans and Jerome James.  James came through for the Supersonics in game two as well, putting up a line of 19 and 9, roughly triple his regular season averages. </p>
<p>Mike Bibby obviously remembered his late-game heroics in postseasons past before game three, netting a much-needed thirty-one to breathe new life into the Kings, giving them the chance to tie it all up in game four.  If they can do that and get back to square one, they’ll have every chance of making the second round, but a loss will put them in a 3-1 hole, meaning that they’d have to win three in a row – including two on the road – to advance. </p>
<p><b>Dallas (4) vs. Houston (5)</b></p>
<p>Tracy McGrady is balling, and there’s nothing that anyone can do to stop him.  Given that he has had four consecutive high-quality games of which the Rockets have won only two, it looks as if it’s up to Yao to take the team to the next level.  Houston have squandered a two-game lead, and they next face the Mavericks in Dallas, where, bizarrely, they seem to be more comfortable than at home.  Whichever team draws blood in game five should also take the series, but with the way things are going with this one, I can’t say anything for certain. </p>
<p>A fortnight ago I equivocated like my life depended on it, and I’m just as reticent about calling this series right now.  If you held me at knifepoint and demanded that I make a decision, I’d probably run with the Rockets for the simple fact that, having seen him dunk on Shawn Bradley hard enough that the big man considered retiring, I’d feel nervous about betting against Tracy McGrady at this point in time.  There’s a look on his face I’ve never seen before, and I think he means business. </p>
<p>My advice for you now is simple: have fun.  A long, hot summer is on the way for most of you (apologies to my readers from the southern hemisphere) and so is what is bound to be one of the best second rounds we’ve seen in a long time.  At this time of year, the basketball is of a high quality and, what’s more, there’s a lot of it.  What more could you want?  If you’re a real fan, not much. </p>
<p>Take it easy now, </p>
<p>Chuck. </p>