Monday, May 02, 2005

NBA Playoffs

I'm not one to get excited about the NBA unless the Knicks are in contention, but after watching a few of the first round games so far, it's good to see that the play is starting to open up a bit, which is leading to some high-scoring shootouts, especially in the Western Conference. The much-publicized Phoenix fast break offense is a joy to watch, and last night's Seattle/Sacramento shootout was fantastic as well, highlighted by Ray "He Got Game" Allen's 45 point masterpiece. Though the other two Western series are more likely to be defensively oriented, they are intriguing nonetheless--Denver's exciting young roster goes against battle-hardened San Antonio, while the I-45 grudge match features the Trans-Europe Express (Nowitzki) against McGrady and the Orient Express (documentary subject Yao Ming), a series that has 7 games written all over it. I've seen plenty of those "road team wins the first 4 games" series turn into "home team wins the next 3 games" faster than you can say "Dirk." Not sure if Denver can drag out San Antone for that long, but I'm hoping they will. The more Western Conference games I can see, the better, because...

The Eastern Conference is never on the air in primetime, with the exception of any games featuring the Heat and Allen Iverson. Don't get me wrong, the Bulls/Wiz feature some scrappy players, but honestly, the quality of play has been quite low. Too many missed shots and too few fastbreaks. I can understand why the networks are shying away from this series. I haven't seen any of the Boston/Indy series, but I can only assume it is a half-court borefest with every possession resulting in a jacked up 3-pointer with a 36% chance of going in (what else do you expect with Pierce and Walker back together?). I will say that Detroit is about the only defensive-minded team that I enjoy watching, probably because they've embraced the "team-only" mindset as well as any NBA team in recent memory. If a late-game sniper like Chauncey Billups played with Shaq-Fu in Miami, I'm sure he'd get much more publicity than he does now.

Finally, I'd like to devote some space to Iverson, who is the most amazing player I've ever seen. I cannot fathom how this guy can score 30 points a game. 42 minutes, 30 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2.5 steals from a 6 foot tall twig. He's truly the most exciting player in the game, and probably the most deserving player not to have won a championship. It probably won't happen this year thanks to the Pistons, but with all of the Sixers' young players likely to improve next year, Philly could be a title contender for the next couple years. If he still comes up empty-handed, however, I'd like to see him dealt to a championship team, a la Drexler to Houston in '95, because Iverson deserves it even more than Drexler did.


Anonymous Dan said...

Allen Iverson is amazing. There are few, if any, players that i respect more in the NBA right now. Not only has he embraced a team-first attitude (highlighted by his 15 assists in Game 3), but he is unstoppable when he wants to be. The shot he hit yesterday to give the Sixers a 2 point lead with 28 seconds to go was unbelievable. We threw three players at him, and it didn't matter! And to say he's six feet tall is being extremely generous.

After the game, he says all the right things too. He talked about how they lost to a championship-caliber team, but how his teammates gave a championship-caliber effort. He was proud of them and what they have accomplished. That is not only being classy to the opponent, but to his teammates as well. It was great. Really, outside of his "practice" shenanigans, Iverson is nothing but a likeable, hustling and bustling player who i am quickly adopting as my favorite non-Piston in the league. Good work AI!

1:24 PM  

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