1. Repeat defeat
Most people seem to think that a team isn’t in trouble in the playoffs until they lose a game on their home court. Well, Miami hasn’t lost on their home court but they still appear to be in serious trouble after the Bulls ran over Miami for a 107-89 win and took a 2-0 advantage in the series. The defending champions are getting thoroughly thrashed by what appears to be a more complete team unit in the Bulls. Luol Deng continues to abuse defenders as he put together another impressive outing with 26 points and six assists to go along with Ben Gordon’s game-high 27 points. But you can’t count out the Heat just yet; after all, Miami did drop the first two games of last year’s finals before going on to take the title away from Dallas in six games. Chicago, on the other hand, blew a 2-0 lead in the first round to the Wizards two years ago.
2. The Mamba strikes and misses
At the end of the first half of game one it looked like Kobe Bryant was going to carry the Lakers on his back to playoff victory. The past six quarters between the Phoenix and Los Angeles have proven that nothing could be further from the truth. Even if Bryant could string together another batch of 50 point games like he did earlier in the year, it still wouldn’t be enough to get this lackadaisical Lakers squad past the first round. The Suns just toyed with LA like a cat with a mouse on Tuesday as Steve Nash dished out 14 assists and newly crowned Sixth Man of the Year Leandro Barbosa put up a game-high 26 points off the bench in the 126-98 win. The odds are definitely going to be stacked against Los Angeles when the series heads to Hollywood and it’s going to take a lot of extra rooting from Jack, Denzel, Dyan and the other famous faces in the Staples Center crowd to keep the Lakers from falling down 3-0.
3. Sam’s the man
There were lots of worthy candidates for this season’s Coach of the Year award, but when it came down time to vote only one man could earn the honor. Toronto’s Sam Mitchell was named that man on Tuesday and rightfully so. Mitchell took the award with 394 total points, including 49 first place votes, over other possible candidates like Jerry Sloan (301 points), Avery Johnson (268 points) and Jeff Van Gundy (134 points). Who would have ever guessed that Mitchell would turn around a struggling Toronto franchise that was widely considered to be one of the black holes of the league? Certainly not the players of the Association because last April a Sports Illustrated informal poll amongst league ballers declared Mitchell to be the NBA’s worst coach. But nobody is saying Mitchell is a bottom feeder anymore since the Raptors made a 20-game improvement over last year’s dismal 27-55 record. And just hours after receiving the award, Mitchell went out and led the Raptors as they evened up their series with New Jersey by defeating them 89-83. Suck on that SI!
Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Steve Nash vs. Los Angeles Lakers 25 min, 16 pts (FG: 7-11, 3FG: 2-4), 5 reb, 14 ast
Buzzer Beater: Danny Ainge thought he was getting Boston’s point guard of the future last year when he made the trade for teenage phenomenon Sebastian Telfair. Turns out that he got a giant headache instead and after just one season the Celtics have decided that enough is enough and cut ties with the 21-year-old. “I wanted to let you know that we have removed Sebastian’s nameplate from his locker in Waltham,” said managing partner Wyc Grousbeck in an e-mail to the Boston Globe. Geez, you removed his nameplate; guess there’s no turning back now. Telfair was arrested on Friday after a gun was found in his car, but his attorney, Ed Hayes, thinks that Boston’s decision to get rid of Telfair is far too sudden and they should reconsider. Save your breath Ed; didn’t you hear? They already removed his nameplate, it’s over.