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NBA General

Around the Rim: The West is almost set


1. No Mailman needed for this West finals delivery
The best story in the NBA postseason is finally over as the Jazz put together a late run and sent the league’s version of Cinderella packing for the offseason with a 100-87 victory in Game 5, but, more importantly, the win put Utah into the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1998. But just because Golden State is out of the picture doesn’t mean that there are no true heroes left. At least that’s what the media keeps shoving down our throat about Derek Fisher. Handling the rock in all the critical moments and knocking down his shots with a sharpshooters’ precision (7-10 FG, 4-5 3FG), Fisher left his fingerprints all over this game. Now the Jazz are left to practice, watch, wait and repeat until the dramatics over in the other half of the West bracket finally get hashed out. But GS can still be proud of what they did this year and how they played. Unfortunately, they were just a bit too raw for the refined playoffs and while it was rabid emotion that carried the Warriors over the Mavericks, it was that same enthusiasm which would eventually be their downfall. There was a whirlwind of whistles directed at The City ballers toward the end of the third quarter and the Warriors just began to slowly unravel over the final 12 minutes. We all knew that the Golden State run would eventually end but it still doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to Jessica Alba.

2. Who’s getting Bull-ied around now?

Two games ago, the Bulls were beaten up, thrown around and left for dead on the side of the road after falling down 3-0 to Detroit. But unlike those bloated deer that get blasted by speeding SUVs on streets across the nation, these guys rose from the dead to win two consecutive games against the Pistons. Never seen road kill do that before. Ben Gordon was obviously alive and well as he scored a game-high 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field that included a 5-of-6 performance from behind the arc. Kirk Hinrich didn’t resemble a dead armadillo or opossum either as he dished out 13 helpers to go with 17 points in the 108-92 Chicago victory. The Pistons are known for blowing comfy leads in the postseason but they are also known for winning the games that they have to have. But if they want to end this series quickly they are going to have to take care of business on the road. And Chicago is where Ben Wallace has had his biggest games of the series. In the two games in Chi-Town, Big Ben has pulled down 29 rebound while he only has 20 boards in the three Detroit contests.

3. The commish shows no love for Amare
We all knew that there would probably be suspensions handed out by David Stern after Robert Horry sent Steve Nash flopping flying into the scorer’s table. The incident had Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw hopping mad, and unfortunately for the Suns they hopped off the bench and onto the court which earned each of them a game suspension. Guess the whole “I was checking into the game” strategy didn’t work out for Amare. On the other side of the series, Horry’s actions earned him a two game suspension. It would seem that the Suns just lost Game 5 but now there is a ton of extra pressure on the Spurs as the suspensions have put them in a must-win situation that they must capitalize on. But, hell, we think it’s pretty safe to say that any coach in the league would rather be in Gregg Popovich‘s loafers instead of Mike D’Antoni‘s in this pivotal Game 5.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Andrei Kirilenko vs. Utah 34 min, 21 pts (FG: 8-12, FT: 5-5), 15 reb, 1 ast, 3 stl

Buzzer Beater: Dwyane Wade had to be feeling like a total idiot as he started putting on that stupid paper garment before going under the knife to repair both knee and shoulder. This was a surgery that he could have done back in February but instead opted to skip the procedure and rehab his way back into shape for the playoffs. And we think everybody knows how productive that decision turned out to be for Flash. Turns out that Dwyane’s pains were primarily coming from his knee and not the shoulder that sent him sobbing from the arena in a wheelchair. The recovery will probably take the entire offseason and possibly longer. Unfortunately, for Miami the “jumper’s knee” condition is nothing new to the franchise. Jason Williams had a similar operation performed last July and he was still in pain for half of the season.

Categories
NBA General

Around the Rim: The Warriors sure could use a beer about now


1. The Jazz step up at home
Derek Fisher took one shot during Game 2 of the Utah/Golden State series but it was a biggie as his 3-pointer during overtime gave the Jazz a 123-117 lead that would eventually grow to the final score of 127-117. Fisher was welcomed to the arena with a thunderous ovation late in the game after he had left his daughter’s side who was in the hospital with a rare form of cancer in order to play. While Fisher steals the glory for this victory, it was a total team effort from the Jazz that deserves the credit. Carlos Boozer (30 points, 13 rebounds), Mehmet Okur (23 points, 18 rebounds), and Deron Williams (17 points, 14 assists) all finished the game with double-doubles while Andrei Kirilenko (20 points, nine rebounds, five assists, six blocks) finally is starting to play like we all knew he could. See what happens when you dry those tears, baby boy. The Warriors had some pretty big games from their stars as well, but when you live by the 3 then a lot of times you’ll end up dying by the 3. And going 15-of-40 from behind the arc is one good way to waste key possessions that are so valuable in the postseason. But just wait until Friday night when the court is surrounded by a golden clad crowd; the Mavericks didn’t seem to adjust very well to that rowdy atmosphere.

2. Pierce says buh-bye to Beijing

Apparently the Boston Celtics don’t have a solid grasp of exactly how the NBA lottery system works because it looks like Paul Pierce will not be participating in the upcoming Olympics due to his injuries. We know that Danny Ainge is desperate to get that hopper loaded full of green and white ping pong balls but someone should tell him that international competition doesn’t count. You know how na├»ve good ol’ Danny boy can be when it comes to things like this. Remember that time that he just “accidentally” ended up sitting next to Kevin Durant‘s mom during the Big 12 Tournament? Talk about a desperate franchise; after the season they just had, there’s no way that Ainge is going to let his lone All-Star anywhere near harm’s way, even if it is in the name of the U.S.A. And if those ping pong balls bounce Boston’s way then the Celtics could be sporting a pair of superstars when the season starts anew in the fall.

3. T-Mac’s got your back
Jeff Van Gundy might not be sure if he’s going to return for another season as head coach of the Houston Rockets but it sounds like his players definitely want him back. Well, Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady both want him back and in Houston those are just about the only opinions that really matter. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s still our coach. Absolutely,” McGrady said. “I’ve said in the past (that) he’s the best coach I’ve played for.” No knock on Van Gundy, but it’s pretty easy to be the best coach in T-Mac’s career; after all, have you seen some of the teams that he’s played on? There’s a reason that McGrady has never made it past the first round of the postseason and it’s not his 28.8 career playoff point per game average.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Mehmet Okur vs. Utah 43 min, 23 pts (FG: 9-15, 3FG: 2-3, FT: 3-7), 18 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk

Buzzer Beater: Reports on Wednesday said that Jermaine O’Neal isn’t demanding a trade from the Pacers and that Miami is not looking to deal away Shaquille O’Neal. So, if the O’Neal boys are already off the market, then who is gonna be involved in the summer blockbuster trade? We’d like to say Kevin Garnett but there have been so many conflicting stories coming out of Minnesota, we don’t know what the hell Kevin McHale is thinking anymore. But we’re not going to be surprised by anything that happens involving the Timberwolves, because if McHale can be named the best GM in sports then nothing is impossible in Minny. Except getting KG a supporting cast of course.