1. Bye Bye AI (and the rest of you guys)
Tim Duncan put on quite a show during Wednesday’s Game 5 against the Nuggets, but it was Michael Finley who lit up the scoreboard and put an end to Denver’s dreams of advancing to the second round. Finley hit 8-of-9 from downtown en route to a game-high 26 points as the Spurs swept the Nuggets out of the first round, 93-78. Oh, SA lost Game 1? We forgot all about that opening loss after Robert Horry reminded us why they call him “Big Shot” in the final minute of Game 4. But Denver gave it the good ol’ college try and George Karl will get another shot next year to make his Carmelo Anthony/Allen Iverson two-headed monster become one of the beasts in the league. But Denver was just 2-23 when they didn’t score 100 points during the regular season and unfortunately they ran into a team that thrives on keeping teams below 90.
2. See ya in the fall Kobe
Kobe Bryant might be the best basketball player on the face of the planet but it doesn’t matter when you’re playing one on five. Even when the Lakers finally get a big time game out of their second best player as Lamar Odom put in a career playoff-high 33 points to go along with Bryant’s 34 point performance, Phoenix still had more firepower. The Suns’ big three of Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire combined for 70 points in the 119-110 Game 5 victory to eliminate Los Angeles from the post season. The losing has got to be becoming more than Phil Jackson can take. He’s been bumped in the first round in each of the past two years and still has another year left on his contract. Guess he should’ve stay retired after splitting up the greatest one-two punch in the history of the game.
3. Spurs + Suns = fun, fun, fun
If you’re enjoying the Mavericks/Warriors series or the Rockets/Jazz series, just wait until you get a load of Phoenix vs. San Antonio. You’ve got five All-Stars; you’ve got sixth men, MVPs galore, and lots of defense to go along with lots of offense. It’s gonna be a whirlwind of fantastic match-ups at every position on the floor with Tim Duncan and Amare Stoudemire highlighting the series. And if you remember back to the 2005 Western Conference Finals when these two teams hooked up, Stoudemire averaged 37 points per game and had a pair of games in which he topped 40 against SA. Too bad the plethora of points was in vain as the Spurs took the series in five games before winning their third trophy against the Pistons in the Finals. This year’s winner only gets to face the Mavs, Jazz, Rockets or Warriors in the finals out west. But can you say “battle tested?” Whoever emerges from this war will be able to.
Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Shawn Marion vs. Los Angeles Lakers 38 min, 26 pts (FG: 11-21, 3FG: 1-5, FT: 3-3), 10 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk
Buzzer Beater: Well, Pat Riley came out and said it. He said that his team had a severe case of being too big for their britches or, in his words, thinking they could “turn it on” whenever they wanted. Riley went on to add that it “will never be uttered again or though again.” We’d hope not, because that appears to be a reoccurring problem for the Big Broom. Shaquille O’Neal might have four rings on his humongous fingers but he has also been swept out of the playoffs six times during his career. Shaq literally and figuratively has a big head, but we just never expected his coach to call him on it.