Monday , May , 16 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Trash Talk: Volume XX

Hi, all. Every day now takes us deeper into the postseason, and the improving quality of play reflects that. This year’s first round was undoubtedly one of the most entertaining ever, but the conference semis are when things really start to get serious.

<b>NBA Trash Talk</b>: <i>Volume XX</i>“/>Two words: <i>Dwyane Wade</i>.</p>
<p>The Flash is putting on a show right now, doing everything for the team but handing out towels. Certain critics attribute his strong performance this year to Miami’s other superhero, but Dwyane proved them wrong with his game three and four showings while Shaq sat, almost single-handedly taking the Wizards down in Washington.  Just take a look at the numbers he put up for the series: </p>
<p><b>Game One</b>: 20 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 block<br />
<b>Game Two</b>: 31 points, 15 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 3 steals<br />
<b>Game Three</b>: 31 points, 6 assists, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks<br />
<b>Game Four</b>: 42 points, 4 assists, 7 rebounds, 1 block, 2 steals</p>
<p>Filthy.  He also shot over fifty percent and played the cerebral, long-armed defence that earned him an All-NBA defensive second team selection, causing a world of trouble for Washington at both ends of the floor.  In short, he tore the Wizards apart, just as he did the Nets in round one.  If there’s anyone in the east that can stop him, they’d better make themselves known soon, or the Heat are going to waltz their way right to the finals.  All of this, and the man is only in his second professional season.  Yikes. </p>
<p>Miami swept the Wiz even with Diesel sitting out due to the bruised thigh which has been bothering him for weeks, eliciting one of the season’s most memorable quotes. </p>
<p><i>“I’m pi**ed off because I’ve been playing like Erick Dampier.” </i></p>
<p>Gold.  One thing’s for certain: when Shaq comes back and does what we’ve all seen him do before in the playoffs, it’s going to get ugly.  With the second round out of the way, he has a full week to rest that leg, and you know that Miami management has a whole team of trainers, physiotherapists, tissue specialists, faith healers, witch doctors and anyone else who claims to be able to fix his leg up at hand. </p>
<p>Miami will face the winner of the Pistons-Pacers series, which, despite many predictions of a Detroit sweep, is starting to look very interesting, with the underdog Pacers currently holding a 2-1 series lead.  How did it happen?  Well, things went according to plan in game one, but in the second contest perennial reserve Jeff Foster came out and had the game of his life, putting fourteen points and twenty rebounds (including a freakish ten offensive boards) on the sheet.  Other noteworthy performances that night came from Jamaal Tinsley, who handed out twelve assists without committing a turnover, and Reggie Miller, who fired in a handy nineteen points in thirty-one minutes. </p>
<p>Game three was an odd affair, with five Pistons being handed a “Did not play – Coach’s decision” before the game, meaning that Detroit played the entire night with only seven players.  What’s more is that the two reserves (Hunter and McDyess, if you’re interested) were only given thirty-three minutes of burn between them, resulting in four Detroit starters playing forty-plus minutes.  </p>
<p>The Pacers, conversely, ran out eleven different players throughout the course of the game.  Both teams ultimately played horrible basketball, with Detroit shooting 37% from the field and Indiana only 36%, which should never bring you a win in the playoffs.  Games like this are won with good fortune and clutch performances, and Indiana had a little of both late in the fourth when Tayshaun Prince threw a pass right into the front row with less than a minute left, which turned into a step-back jumper by Reggie Miller at the other end.  Whether it was an offensive foul or not, Hunter didn’t help himself by flopping obviously, and he should have already known that no official is ever going to make that call at that stage of the game on that player. </p>
<p>Out west, the Spurs are currently grappling with Seattle, which had surprisingly few problems with the once-mighty Kings, cutting them out of the playoff picture in five games.  Last week I hinted at a sweep for Fundamental and friends, but the Sonics had to go and bust my bracket with a win in game three.  </p>
<p>To be totally frank, I’m still a little lost as to how they managed to steal the victory when Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis combined to shoot a positively disgusting 9-33 from the field, including a woeful 1-11 from three.  San Antonio, however, received solid contributions from their big three, with Tim Duncan scoring twenty-three, and Parker and Ginobili netting eighteen apiece.  Furthermore, San Antonio went a respectable 8-19 from downtown, while the Sonics could only manage a miserable 2-16. </p>
<p>The big difference was on the boards, where Seattle held a 48-30 advantage, also doubling the Spurs’ total offensive boards (14-7).  It’s very difficult to beat a team that cleans the glass that effectively, and in this game Seattle made up for their shooting shortcomings with old-fashioned hustle in the paint.  They also held the edge from the charity stripe, connecting on twenty-eight of thirty-three attempts while their opponents converted only nineteen of their thirty-four shots.  That’s a nine-point swing the Spurs could have erased with greater concentration and composure.  They ended up losing by one point.  You needn’t be a genius to see where I’m going with this. </p>
<p>Still, it’s San Antonio’s series to lose.  Coach McMillan has neither the defensive tools necessary to deal with San Antonio’s offensive weaponry nor the players to simply outscore them, à la Phoenix or Dallas.  Barring another miracle (Jerome James’ play in the round was the first), this is the end of the road for Jesus Shuttleworth and his disciples.  </p>
<p>Timmy, Tony, Bruce and Manu might need six games to send Seattle fishing, but they’re almost certain to advance to the conference finals, where they’ll meet the victors of the west’s other battle.  Led by everyone’s favourite Canadian point guard and the one-man dunk attack, Phoenix currently hold a 2-1 series lead over Dallas.  While they won only four games more than the Mavericks in the regular season, the discrepancy in skill is greater than their record indicates.  Even with Joe Johnson recovering from possibly the most painful fall of the season, the Suns boast one of the most talented fives in recent memory.  A line-up which includes Nash, Stat, Q and Matrix is enough to have even the toughest of teams quaking in their Nikes, but even more so when they’re the Mavericks, whose defence has more holes than a wheel of Swiss cheese. </p>
<p>Dallas is struggling massively to even limit Stoudemire’s offensive output, and, short of literally tackling the guy, there’s not much they can do to stop him throwing a dozen doses of Spalding down his defender’s throat every night.  Through the first three games of the series, he’s averaging a monstrous 36 and 15, most of it coming from sheer athleticism and effort.  Unless they can stop him assaulting the rim every time he powers his way into the paint, Dallas will be lucky to see a game six. </p>
<p>That just about brings this week’s edition to a close.  As always, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, you can get at me by using the comment box at the bottom of the page or by emailing me directly at 8charles@gmail.com.  Make some noise for your boys if they’re still standing, and if not, sit back and enjoy the games without the stress which comes with watching your team fight for their season. </p>
<p>Take it easy now, </p>
<p>Chuck.   </p>