I think last night’s game between the LA Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies summed up everything about the playoffs. Down by 27 the Clippers came back and won. Playoffs are a different beast and this year is no different from any other years. Below, we sum up the weekend for you, in case you were too busy to turn on the TV.
San Antonio Spurs (106) vs Utah Jazz (91)
Everyone thought they were too old. Not enough legs. Washed up. Quietly, and I really mean quietly, the Spurs were making some noise in Texas. They have their own “Big Three” but no one talks about them. This season was the Heat’s to lose! But these Big Three have all joined the 10,000 point club, with Manu Ginobilli joining this season. And however old and washed up there were, they gained the number one seed in the playoffs. Guarantee home court advantage throughout the run. Tony Parker reminded everyone to keep him in mind when talking about the best point guard in the league. While he maybe not as flashy as Derrick Rose or even Chris Paul, he holds his own. And by far, he’s perfected the tear drop and no other pg in the league can say that. Scoring 28 points and dishing out eight dimes, Parker led the selfless Spurs to a victory against the Jazz. And Timmy? Well, at the “old” age of 36, Tim Duncan looks vintage Duncan. He’s not putting big numbers (17 points, 11 boards and five assists) he did enough to control the other big and get the win. And Manu was being Manu. Scoring when they needed to score and throwing up pieces of crap and getting them to fall. Everyone excepts the Spurs to win.I expect the Spurs to win. And they old geezers took a step in the right direction with a win against the Jazz. Next game is on Wednesday in Texas. Tip off time is 7:00 pm on TNT.
Oklahoma City Thunder (99) vs Dallas Mavericks (98)
Anytime you go against the defending champ, you play a bit harder. Why? Because all the media makes the champs to be the team to beat the next year just cause they won it a year ago. But the Mavs? Wouldn’t call it a fluke. Mark Cuban has been long building his team to championship caliber, they just didn’t perform. While it maybe a one hit wonder for the Mavs, it was no question they were the better team last year. Team. Yes Dirk is the man. Dirk and his high release point, his turn-around leg kick, the (less) floppy hair. But it’s one man. And it’s one man who is aging rapidly with aging teammates. It’s not like the Spurs. Their core consists of guys are a bit older, (most notably Tim Duncan) but their bench has a bunch of young guys. Dallas? Well they let Tyson Chandler go, who was a big deal in their quest for the title, Jason Kidd looks terribly older, JJ Berea, the energy for team is wasting away in Minnesota and they didn’t add any good pieces. Lamar Odom was a bust. I know. They are waiting for this year’s free agency, but as far as playoffs? Well it almost served them right to limp into the sweet 16. Kevin Durant made sure that this was no repeat from last year. Turning into an elite player himself (or even a MVP?) Durant won the game for the Thunder with a 15 ft jump shot over Shawn Marion. The shot was ridiculous. Highly contested. Highly superstarish. Did Durant just give us a preview of what’s to come? After all, I did pick the Thunder to play the Spurs in the Western Conference finals. After last year’s quick exit, Durant and the Thunder want to make up for last year. As for the Mavs, this the Thunder’s series to lose. Their days of glory are behind them. Game 2 is on Monday at 9:30 PM EST.
LA Lakers (103) vs Denver Nuggets (88)
This maybe the most boring West series. Yes Laker land is playing, but they are playing against a way weaker opponent and it was clear that after one game, the Lakers are gonna take this in four. Now Denver has surprised a few folks during the shorten season, but they aren’t even close to comepeting with the Lakers. It was almost a good thing World Metta Peace was out, because it would have been more of a blow out. The Lakers have been here and they have Kobe Bryant. Whatever you may want to say about him, he is still by far one of the elitest players on earth to ever grace the NBA. And while his dramatics (on the court!) have been fewer and fewer, he still has two seven footers as teammates. After Andrew Bynum gets over his cry baby attitude (yeah I said it, grow up dude!) he is the only guy that can compete against Dwight Howard (the self proclaimed best big man in the league, although I admit, I’d take him on my team). Bynum proved it last night with a triple double, 10 points, 13 rebounds and a record 10 blocks. And this after he didn’t record a shot in the first quarter. He changed the game and he finally changed his attitude. After the game, the Lakers realized is that if they stick to their game plan, they may just have a first title in this era without Phil Jackson. Next game is Tuesday night at 10:30 PM EST.
LA Clippers (99) vs Memphis Grizzlies (98)
What?!?! Did I write this right? (say that 10 times fast!) The Clippers are in the playoffs?!?! In the NBA, one or two or three guys can change your whole team around. After all, only five are on the court. And clearly, with all the ownership issues that Clipperland (sounds right, like Lakerland?) they managed to put a much much better team than they have in years! First, with a longer summer, Blake Griffin was able to get even that much more healthier. They matched Golden State’s offer for DeAndre Jackson. Then the trade of Chris Paul. Then they brought in vet Chauncy Billups (yes I know he is not playing for a while!). Then at the trade deadline there was a rumor that they were going to trade for Ray Allen, but the Celtics’ price was too high and they settled on Nick Young instead (looks damn good now, with Allen out and Young hitting three threes!). A culmination of all things and with a little help from the baksetball gods, “Lob City” has returned. I will admit, I switched channels on Sunday when I saw the Clippers down by 20 something. I thought, “You kidding me? You have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin! Paul did a ton of work when he was with the Hornets and he only had him and David West!” So when I turned back later and I saw the lead starting to dwindle I had to watch. It was prime time TV then. Young knocked out three threes to whittle the Grizzlies’ lead down to three. And you could tell by the attitude and the body language of the Grizzlies, that it was over. While the Grizzlies put a fight, the momentum had clearly swung in the Clippers favor. And the basketball gods must have answered their prayers for one night, because Griffin stepped to the line and sank both free throw. Griffin is a notorious bad free throw shooter. And now they are again in the history books as they have tied the NBA league record for a comeback victory after three quarters when the Boston Celtics came back to beat the New Jersey Nets (remember them?) in the 2001-2002 playoffs. The only bad thing that happened for the Clippers was that Caron Butler has broken his hand. And there is no other big guards for Vinny Del Negro to go. But it’s not like the Clippers are going to win this year. It’s just a stepping stone. So for one night, Lob City had just much swagger and bragging rights as their rommates did in their home. Next game is Wednesday at 9:30 pm PST.