The Playoffs so Far (East)

Sorry for falling asleep on my blog last night.  I didn’t finish the Eastern Conference breakdown as intended, but here we go.  About an hour and a half before game-time, so hopefully this will get up by then.

1) Chicago v Indiana – I actually got a chance to watch a couple games in this series and so I might have a couple real insights.  First, Chicago never looked down and out.  Even in game one, where they were down the entire game until the final minute, it always seemed that they were going to come back and at least challenge Indiana in the end.  There are two kinds of 15-point leads: the kind where you know the game is over and the lead keeps expanding and the kind Indiana held in this series.  Never ever did the Bulls look like they couldn’t come back, because even when losing, they still looked more talented and, dare I say, in control.  Reminded me of the Utah v Chicago series of ’97 and ’98 (not that Rose is Jordan – let me make that very clear) in that even when Utah had a lead, the Bulls always had an answer.  No lead ever felt safe.

2) Orlando v Atlanta – Dwight Howard gets destroyed underneath every game, all the time.  He’s like Shaq in that the only way you can defend him is fouling (also they are both monumentally poor FT shooters – like we should actually build monuments for such levels of futility).  That being said, I didn’t see any of these games and I don’t think anyone really knows why Orlando forgot how to shoot.  It was one strange series.

3) Boston v NYK – it’s hard to predict how this experiment will unfold in NY.  Boston had it easy in this series with Billups and Amare getting hurt at various points, so it’s not like Boston would sweep them that easily again.  The reason it’s so interesting to pair Amare and Carmelo is that both are horrid off-ball players who thrive on isolation.  So either one or the other needs to learn to play off-ball or they need someone (like Billups) to spread the ball and court well.  Either way, I really didn’t buy that Boston was going to lose to this team.

4) Miami v Philadelphia – honestly, I couldn’t care less about this series.  Everyone knew Miami would win and everything Philly did was just a tease.  And true to form, the series turned out to be a 5-game formality.

5) Chicago v Atlanta – Derrick Rose really needs to stop shooting 3’s.  He’s a horrible shooter from range (his 33% during the regular season was a complete fluke) and every 3 he takes just drains the life out of his team.  Ever see Steve Nash play?  Imagine if Rose figured out how to drive into the paint without leaving his feet.  If he learned how to penetrate and dish like Nash – he already knows how to finish like Wade – he’d be unstoppable.  Instead, Rose still tries to score every time down (30 shots and 10 assists for a PG means unreal usage rates), because the Bulls seem lost on offense.  Chicago won this series by being the better team (more skilled, talented) and because Atlanta’s gameplan is chaos theory in practice.

6) Miami v Boston – Miami was better and Boston was destroyed by Rondo’s injury.  A note on that, however – how in the world did Miami not put LeBron or Wade to pressure Rondo on defense and attack him (screens to create mismatches on him) on offense.  That Rondo with one arm managed to stay on the court after dislocating his elbow shows horrible strategy on the part of the Heat.  On another note, I’m not a Boston fan, but that Miami’s big three claim that they got the idea of getting together from Boston’s big three is so angering and frustrating.  Think about it – Boston TRADED for Garnett and Allen, giving up actual players in return, not simply screwing other franchises (Cleveland and Toronto).  That said, Miami was the better team and deserved to win, although I did expect much more fight from a supposedly proud Celtics team.  Oh, and for all the talk of how the Perkins trade was what sunk the Celts, the real problem is that they never improved their bench.  Year after yeah, they got deep in the playoffs (and thus got bad picks) and never improved their supporting cast around the Big Three.  That’s what forced the Perkins trade.  And that’s what ended up sinking the Celtics.

So now it’s on to today’s games.

Yours Truly,

Basketblogger

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