Sunday, June 04, 2006

NBA thoughts from my sick bed

Being stuck in bed for the last few days allowed me to watch a lot of the NBA, the Food Network, and Benson reruns on TVLand. The burger battle on Iron Chef America may have been the most compelling TV, but I figure people would rather read my thoughts on the NBA:
  • Let me get the officiating issue out of the way. The NBA's improving in talent and playing style, but poor officiating continues to hurt the league. The polite way to criticize last night's refs would be to say they called the game too tight. Too tight is when you blow the whistle on borderline calls. Last night they were blowing the whistle for things that weren't even happening. Nothing should be taken away from Dallas, but the refs strongly affected the series.
  • Dirk and Depth. No, I'm not writing about the Godfather's favorite Dirk Diggler film; I'm writing about why Dallas won. How many teams can bring in a Jerry Stackhouse when a starter gets two quick fouls? It's no accident that Dallas made its runs in the second half of the last two games. Phoenix was beat up, tired, and in foul trouble. Dallas took advantage.
  • But you can't just win with depth (ask the Clippers). Dirk defined himself in this series as a superstar. The 50 point Game 5 performance was one of the best I've ever seen. I was ready to criticize him for Game 6 because he was settling for fade aways when Phoenix couldn't defend the rim and the refs were calling everything, but then he took the game over in the second half. And Steve Nash won the MVP over him?
  • And Dwyane Wade too? It was interesting watching Wade battle flu like symptoms as I was battling them myself. While Wade was making great passes and chasing Rip Hamilton, I was contemplating if I should try to eat a Saltine. Maybe he has a better health plan than me.
  • I wish I could have sat next to Dumars during the series. After every Wade basket, I would look at him and just say, "Darko?"
  • There were three very good coaches in the semifinals. Poor Flip Saunders.
  • Some former Celtic talk: I'm happy for Antoine Walker. For all of his on court flaws, I liked his off court persona and his hustle. It's good to see a Pitino survivor make the finals. I even enjoyed the "Wiggle" after his three pointer sealed the series.
  • Adrian Griffith was one of my favorite players during the ongoing Celtics Dark Ages. Even in limited playing time, he gets the loose ball, makes the smart steals, and gets the heads up basket.
  • What Phoenix does on offense is what Tommy Heinsohn has been begging the Celtics to do for the last 20 years. When a team runs with a good point guard, average players become good players, good players become great players, and Shawn Marion becomes unstoppable. Let's hope other NBA coaches learn from the Suns and listen to the great Heinsohn.
  • Jason Terry is a dirty player. Watch him without the ball on offense.
  • I'm looking forward to this year's finals but can ABC just blur out the images of Pat Riley and Mark Cuban?
  • For as wonderful as this block was, it's time to blow up the Pistons and try again. Some friendly advice to Joe Dumars: do whatever it takes to get rid of Rasheed. Everyone else besides Chauncey and Billups are expendable.
  • Prediction time. I'm struggling with this one. The shots won't come as easy for the Mavs against the Heat. The Suns didn't defend the rim against the Mavs; Shaq will. On the other hand, Shaq will finally need to run the floor to get back on defense. Nobody can guard Dwyane Wade, but Josh Howard will do a better job than the Pistons did. Dallas also has the depth to waste fouls on Shaq and to keep the tempo up. I don't see the Heat stopping Dirk, but I do see him settling for jump shot with Shaq and Haslem waiting for him in the lane. Ultimately, this game will be about who comes up bigger: Wade or Dirk. I'm hesitantly going with Heat in 7.

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