Day 42: Nine in a Row
From a Detroit fan’s perspective, thats the only way to look at it… nine in a row. Since playing arguably our best game in the playoffs in game 3 against the Bulls, Detroit have played nine very ordinary, average-at-best games. That is an incredible streak of poor form to have during the playoffs, and unfortunately it’s the same thing that happened last season. I was not surprised by the Cavs stunning game 6 win, earning their first trip to the NBA Finals. I was not surprised because any objective person could not honestly tell me this Pistons team showed signs of playing at a championship-calibre level, at ANY point during this Cleveland series. This series almost feels like a 6-game sweep, remembering the two Pistons wins came in questionable circumstances with possible no-calls and luck on their side. Lebron’s historic game 5 broke the Pistons backs, and just when you thought the buzz of scoring 48 might lead to Lebron being a little over-enthused in game 6, he again showed maturity beyond his years. Gibson will take credit as the hero in game 6 thanks to his 18-point fourth quarter, but do not overlook the composed effort of Lebron throughout this game. He never forced shots, patiently waited for holes to exploit (earning many trips to the line) and when the Pistons geared themselves up for a last-quarter Lebron enslaught, LBJ found his open team mates which blew the game open. I don’t know if there’s such thing as a ”quiet” 20pts, 14rebs and 8 assists, but that’s what Lebron had.

The Spurs will not be counting themselves lucky the Pistons are gone. They will be wary of the fact that the game’s youngest and brightest star is just about to play the series of his life. You can’t watch that game 5 and tell me Bron isn’t ready to pummel Bruce Bowen all the way back to the stone age. And that’s the difference now with Lebron… we don’t doubt him any more.

Day 40: He Figured it out
Haven’t seen the full game yet. Don’t need to, because from watching highlights alone (and boy were there some highlights) including every single one of Cleveland’s (i.e Lebron’s) final 25 points I can already tell this is one of those all-time gems. My train of emotions went a little something like this:
Dissapointed that we let our 6 point buffer dissapear over the finals minutes of regulation
Curious as to how the hell you let a player make consecutive dunks in a set half-court offense over the final minute of a tight game
Frustrated that we couldn’t stop Lebron in the first OT when it was clear he was going to be the Cavs only source of offense
Unsurprised when Chauncey knocked down those 2 FTs with seconds remaining to send the game into OT2
Elated when C-Webb completed the 3-point play to give us the lead late in the 2nd OT
Shocked when Lebron responded with a three straight away when I didn’t think the 3-ball was too much of a reliable shot for him
Shattered when I saw the score update on my mobile phone that read “Lebron 2 point shot” with 3 seconds left to give them the 109-107 lead
Amazed when I finally sat back to digest what Lebron had achieved in that game, and its place in history amongst the all-time great games
Quietly Confident that the Pistons would respond (as they always do) by winning games 6 and 7, but then much later…
Scared after the realisation that game 5 might have awoken Lebron from a slumber he will never return to.

You see, Lebron has never really had that moment. That moment in NBA playoff/finals basketball when a player realises they just shook the NBA world by its foundations, that game-winning shot, that inspirational performance, that heart-wrenching moment for the opposition. Kobe had that moment a long time ago amidst a bunch of playoff and Finals heroics in the 1999-2000 season – he has never looked back. Dwayne Wade had that moment last year in the conference Finals where he single-handedly destroyed a team that was supposed to win 70 and (as ESPN’s Bill Simmons then wrote) was “cruising to the Finals as easily as any team since the 2001 Lakers unless something goofy happens… Something REALLY crazy would have to happen.” Well something crazy did happen – Dwayne Wade figured it out – and he will never look back. Game 5 vs Detroit was that moment for Lebron, that crazy moment, the moment he figured it out. Ain’t no looking back from here.

Day 39: D-Train Grinds to a Halt
Deron Williams, the greatest thing to have happened in these playoffs since Baron Davis lead the Warriors past the Mavs, has now departed us to contemplate a summer of lost-oppurtunities and perhaps lack of commitment on behalf of his team mates. “There were some guys that were already on vacation… Point-blank. On vacation. A long time ago” – straight from the mouth of the D-Train himself, a comment probably directed at every Jazz player not named Carlos Boozer. So then we turn to the 3 most important things I learnt about this series:
1) Deron Williams is a warrior, a leader, a remarkable talent. He will now have incredible expectations on his shoulders leading in to his 3rd NBA season. The mark of greatness lies in living up to these expectations, and exceeding them. I look forward to seeing how he responds.
2) Tim Duncan is on a mission. Yeah we know he normally doesn’t show much emotion, he always seems pretty focus, and he wants to win. But you can really see it on his face this year. It’s like after every big play or big win Timmy’s brain has a little answering-machine message that reads “Hi, you’ve reached Tim Duncan. I don’t really care what just happened, and I’ll be out of the office until we win our fourth game in the Finals. Come back to me then and I’ll respond.”
3) The Battle of the Beards has been won by Tim Duncan, in a hotly contested matchup that was a lot closer than the actual series between these two teams. The judging panel, consisting of Hulk Hogan (strangest colour-dyed mo/beard combo ever), Hercule Poirot (no comments needed) and Cat Stevens (just a guy with a big all-round hairy beard) decided that Duncan’s facial hair was superior as it found to be “intimidating yet refined, deserving of its own class of species, and generally more offensive to the wider community”. Congratulations Tim.

Battle of the Beards

Day 35: The D-Train rolls on
On Day 16 of the diary I declared my love for Tony Parker. But I must be honest… for the last week or so I have been untruthful and deceitful. I have been seeing another point guard… a point guard who’s dashing ability to lead his team down the stretch in only his second year has left me gob-smacked. I think I summed up my own thoughts best on the TrashTalk forum… so i’ll just echo those sentiments. This guy has impressed me so much over the past 3 games. Just love his game, his poise, his jumpshot, his decision-making, and most of all the fact he has both the old-school pick-n-roll kinda mentality, but can flat out break your ankles when he wants to. I also said that this playoff series could do what the Lakers v Kings ‘02 Western Conf Finals did for Mike Bibby’s career. That is, stamp him as a big-time player who can lead his team to big playoff wins. The difference is Deron Williams is a far better point guard, and the Jazz are NOT playing against Kobe and Shaq. On Day 25 I said “Fear the Jazz”… and if the D-Train keeps on choogling through game 4, you better believe that’s exactly what the Spurs will be doing.

PS – I think Duncan and Boozer are having a competition to see who can grow the worst looking facial hair. Seriously, Duncan’s goatee looks like a small animal has died on his chin while Boozer’s stubble ‘n mo combo make him look like an out-of-work porn star. I think we need some more ESPN coverage on this.

Day 33: Twenty-six points in a half
That is what cost the Cavs game 2 in Detroit – measley twenty-six point second half. I don’t care who you are, you ain’t winning a game scoring twenty-six in a half… thats on target for fifty-two points in total (I’ve seen Kobe score that in a half… FACT) The Pistons didn’t exactly light it up themselves either, leaving Flip Saunders to say “That was definitely an Eastern Conference grind-it-out game..” which got me thinking… have Detroit single-handedly defined the style of Eastern Conference basketball over the past five years? Perhaps they got a bit of help from the 2003-2005 Indiana Pacers who were solid as a rock defensively (and ugly as a rock too), but there’s no doubt that seeing the Pistons grinding it out every year in the playoffs – and being successful – has somewhat defined Eastern Conference Basketball. (Translation: “Eastern Conference Basketball” is another term for stingy, generally unattractive basketball with final scores around the 75-70 mark in which the official NBA.com game report MUST use the word “grind”.)

Day 31: Tim the Font
For anyone that hasn’t listened to the 2nd episode of TrashTalk, I asked the Truth Interpreting Machine (T.I.M) if it was true he was named afted Tim Duncan because he plays like a robot. The answer was apparently “no”, but I’m now convinved Tim Duncan is actually a robot. I watched game 2. He was clinical: 33 points on 14-23 shooting, 15 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals – they were Boozer’s numbers. TD went one better with 26 points on an insanely efficient 10-15 shooting, 14 rebounds, 5 blocks and 4 assists. Those are what I like to call “default” numbers for him, the numbers that are automatically loaded into the statsheet. Everyone sees those numbers and thinks “yeah they ain’t that flash… pretty boring really”. Kinda like Times new Roman. It’s very serious, it’s the default, and I can name at least 20 other fonts that are more pleasing to the eye. But it gets the job done… every time. Tim Duncan is the Times new Roman of basketball.
Day 30: To Pass or Not to Pass
Would everyone seriously get off Lebron’s back about his last-second decision to pass the ball to a WIDE OPEN Donyell Marshall in game 1 vs Detroit? Go and watch that play again – with Tayshaun hounding him, and Sheed collapsing fast (who mind you was looking for his 8th block of the game… Ben who?) it was a miracle that he had the court-vision to spot a wide-open teammate. Not just any wide-open teammate… a teammate who shares the NBA record for most threes in a game!! If anyone thinks Lebron should have tried to force up a tough shot over the oncoming wall then they have no basketball brain. No one in the NBA not named Kobe Bryant should have taken that shot. He made the right play… the percentage play. Don’t blame Lebron. Blame Marshall for missing.

Day 29: Gameless
The highlight of today was defenitely doing my laundry. Usually when I use the washing machine I select “Quick 30″ because I don’t have many clothes, and I like the fact that everything is washed in the time it takes me to watch a half-hour show. Well today, since there was no playoff game I selected “Cotton” which did a full-blown 1 hour 54 minute flooding of my dirty clothes. They came out VERY clean, and I was VERY excited. Yep.

Day 28: Can’t teach an old dog new tricks
…or more exactly, you can’t teach a new ref how to whistle an old dog for cheap fouls. I think I’ve said enough about the extreme amount of un-luck the Suns have had this series (yes un-luck is a word). They somehow managed to simultaneously surprise me and devastate me during this series. That was even evident on a small scale over the final 10 minues of game 6. They devastated me by falling behind by 20 thanks to some lousy defense and unforgivable turnovers, but totally surprised me by almost erasing that 20-point defecit in three minutes. The scoreboard won’t reflect it, but I will never forget that the Suns cut it to six with two minutes left and HAD POSESSION! Now, they still lost but I challenge you to find me any other NBA team who could have made such a ridiculous rescue mission look half-achievable. There isn’t one. So my surprise at the two minute mark went to total devastation when the Spurs scored again, leaving me surprised that I thought they had a chance anyway when the defecit was 20 ten minutes ago (at which point I was devastated).

I eagerly await the off-season rumblings in the Suns camp. Nash ain’t getting any better or younger. Unless there is a minor miracle in the draft, next year has to be THE year for the Suns. Unfortunately for them I don’t see the Spurs falling out of the picture, and I think another post-season loss to that team would be absolutely devastating. Wouldn’t surprise me though.

Day 27: “That silence, like church”
I give up trying to analyse any series the Pistons play in. In the first round I was adament we’d drop at least one game to the Magic – “I know this series isn’t generating much excitement, but I’m sure it will when the Pistons lose their customary third game in the opening round” (Day 3) – and we come out and sweep them. In the second round I swore Chicago would steal an early game and the series would stretch to 7 games. After the first two whoopings in Detroit I expected Chicago to bounce back hard – “I have a lot of respect for this Bulls team and I think they will prove their resilience” (Day 17) – but we beat them again. So then, after the Bulls convincingly won games 4 and 5 I came out and said “Watch out. This one is going to 7″ (Day 25). Typical that the Pistons come out and win game 6 on the road when I didn’t expect them to. So the questions I want answered are: Did the Pistons really have control over the Bulls since the opening minutes of game 1? Were they cruising in 2nd gear through games 4 and 5? Could the Bulls have actually won this series if they had made their open shots? My quick guesses are “yes”, “probably but i hope not” and “yes”. But if someone could find out the real answers that would be most appreciated.

Day 26: Ouch
All I can say. Ouch for Nash for getting kneed in the balls. Ouch for Manu getting knocked in the eye and looking like a pirate. Ouch for Nash getting hip’n’shouldered into the scorers bench. Ouch for Amare getting penalised for the most ridiculous ruling I’ve seen in a game of this magnitude. Ouch for anyone being guarded by Bruce Bowen who hasn’t already been tripped, kneed in the balls or slapped. And most of all, Ouch for every Suns fan on earth who had to go through the pain of almost pulling off one of the biggest upsets ever, but falling short because of a game-winning three hit by… you guessed it, Bruce Bowen. Ouch.

PS – Is it just me or is every single Eastern Conference team going out of their way to look unconvincing so far?

Day 25: The Underdog Effect
It should be news to no one – this Pistons team cannot handle being the outright favourite. They pride themselves on being a backs-to-the-wall ball club, and have proved it every year in the playoffs for 4-straight years now (come back from 3-1 vs Magic in ‘03, from 3-2 vs Nets in ‘04, from 3-2 vs Heat in ‘05 and 3-2 vs Cavs in ‘06). So that is why alarm bells were silently ringing in my head after the Bulls won game 4, because I realised that with no sense of urgency for the Pistons this series could stretch to 7 games faster than you can say Dirk Chokerwitzki. Having said that, there’s not much you can do when your opponent is shooting a billion percent from the field. I had to pinch myself looking at the Game 5 halftime box score – the Bulls shot over 70% in a half, in a game of NBA basketball, versus the Detroit freakin Pistons. Without doubt that freakish display is more demoralizing than the Pistons 19-point comeback in game 3. Watch out. This one is going to 7.

PS – Fear the Jazz. No really, fear them. Jerry Sloan will be licking his lips at the prospect of getting to an NBA Fiinals without Michael Jordan. Everything else must seem so easy in comparison. Right?

Day 24: Opposite to Clutch
You know what the opposite to clutch is? Go watch Vince Carter on the last possession of this game. Backing down Eric Snow was good start, but fumbling the ball with 2 seconds left before you get a shot off is inexcusable. This is a guy who has made more ridiculous shots than anyone I’ve ever seen, and he couldn’t get one off over Eric Snow? I feel bad for Vince cos every year I seem to think he’s going to have one big game, or big play to redeem himself. But then he goes and loses the ball with the game on the line. Nets will not recover from this. I would honestly not be surprised to see them take games 5 and 6 – I think Kidd is pissed off enough to do that. But Lebron at home in 7 is where it ends for New Jersey. Lebron James having a quietly spectacular playoff campaign so far, and in his mind I’m sure it doesn’t even start till he faces the Pistons.

Day 23: End of the fairy tale?
The Warriors finally lost in Oakland. As remarkable as it sounds, coming back from 3-1 against this Utah team would be even more amazing than finishing off the Mavs. If the Warriors win three straight it would be the most ridiculous back-to-back series for one team in NBA history. But they won’t. Not with Boozer shooting 13-19 and rebounding at will. Which got me thinking. Would a Spurs v Jazz Western Conference Finals feature the best two power forwards in the West? Is there any team better equipped to make Duncan’s lack of big-man help more noticable than Boozer and Okur? When you consider the Jazz have a bunch of hungry point guards to give Tony Parker hell in Williams, Fisher and Ellis, and that Kirilenko can guard any of Ginobili, Horry, Finley, Bowen or even Duncan, you can’t help but feel the Jazz should perhaps be upgraded to official “darkhorse” status. I’m don’t wanna get ahead of myself. But right now, a Spurs vs Jazz Conference Final matchup seems a lot closer, and makes a lot more sense to me than it did 3 weeks ago.

Day 22: That’s Amare
Basketball is a team sport and the blame for a loss should never be placed on the shoulders of one man (unless your Dirk Nowitzki vs the Warriors) but I think Amare really blew it for the Suns today. He is the second most important guy on that Suns roster – he makes Nash’s job easier, which in turn makes Amare’s job easier, which in turn makes Nash’s job easier etc etc… When those two get their groove on they are unstoppable. Which is why I cringed everytime he picked up a stupid foul – why bother trying to block a Tim Duncan dunk? Not only is Tim Duncan a veteran player with impeccable timing, but he is brilliant at drawing contact, and even more brilliant at making it look like contact when in fact there was none. Amare got sucked in, every time, and it made the Suns bleed. The fact that the Suns were still in that game with 1 minute to go is amazing. Give Amare 40 minutes instead of 20 on this night and they go up 2-1.

Day 21: OH MY GOODNESS
I’m not gonna talk about this game. I’m not going to try and analyse it or explain why I expected a big Warriors win. I don’t need to because Baron Davis pretty much sums it up in one play, the best dunk of this playoff series and one of the better ones I’ve ever seen. I’m watching it again right now… oh man. I don’t like to use the word “bandwagon” but watching Baron so far in these playoffs is only heightening the amount of respect I have for him. That dunk made me wanna go and buy a Baron Davis jersey. That is one of those special playoff moments.

Day 20: Painful for a Bulls Fan
No I’m not a Bulls fan, never have been and never will be. But if the Warriors were kicking themselves for blowing a 5 point lead in the final minute, the Bulls have got to be kicking eachother for blowing a 19-point lead midway through the third quarter. I’ve seen the game, and I saw the look on the Piston’s players faces throughout that third quarter. It wasn’t panic, it wasn’t concern. I can only explain it as a calm expectation that they would will themselves back into the game. You know when you’re watching a replay of your favourite sports team in a game they’re getting beaten badly but pull off an amazing comeback to win? Everytime the opposition scores on the replay you kinda think “man I can’t believe they’re scoring this easy, we’re playing terrible… thank God I know we end up winning.” The Pistons looked like they were playing in a replay game where they already knew the result. I had to go to a work meeting at the start of the 4th quarter, but I too already knew the result. The Pistons had swallowed up a 19-point defecit in one quarter. The Bulls didn’t know it but they threw away the series in that quarter.

Day 19: Painful for a Warriors (ex) Fan
My favourite player of all time is Timmy Hardaway, so its natural that I have a soft spot for the Warriors. Since they beat Dallas I’ve been hoping we’ll get to see a Suns vs Warriors Conference Final where David Stern might have to introduce the compulsory rule of playing defense. So I only felt pain today when I learnt they lost in OT after being up by 5 in the final minute of regulation. Game 1 was close and the Jazz probably deserved to win, but this one the Warriors REALLY threw away. I don’t care how much you wanna tell me the Jazz won because they were the better rebounding, better defensive, and better structured team… any game where a team blows a lead like that is one they were supposed to win. No chance in hell Warriors lose the next 2.

Day 18: Suns Return Fire
I’m glad this happened. I’m glad that I got to see the San Antonio Spurs get beaten badly just once in these playoffs. Although the final margin probably flatters the Suns a little, a 20-point win in the playoffs is still a 20-point win. Stevie Nash with banged up nose and all led the way with 20 points and 16 assists – seriously, if ANY other player in the NBA had a 20-16 game like they’d be heralded as a hero and John Hollinger would make up a new stat for them. But we barely blink an eye when its Steve Nash. “Earth to Manu…. your team needs you. Scoring 6 points in a game against the Suns will make your team lose”.

Day 17: Bulls Smashed Again
As if I’m going to write about the Jazz v Warriors game. Detroit destroyed the helpless Bulls again in game 2 – another near perfect display by my boys in blue. Webber shot 10-11, Sheed didn’t miss, while Rip and Prince were shooting from everywhere. Haven’t seen the game yet, but on paper it doesn’t look good for the Bulls. You need to show some level of competitiveness in game 1 or 2 to give you confidence that you can turn it around at home. The trouble is, right now the Bulls are going home with NO IDEA how to beat the Pistons team. My surging Detroit brain things the Pistons can snatch a game in Chicago, but go back one week and I would have told you I expect this series to be level at 2-2. I have a lot of respect for this Bulls team and I think they will prove their resilience. That is, if Ben Wallace freakin wakes up! Serioulsy. The dude is supposed to be having 15 rebound 5 block games at this stage, that’s what he was paid for, but right now he looks like a shadow of his former self. If the Bulls are to fire up in game 3 it HAS to come from Ben, not only because he’s the defensive anchor of that team, but because they’re playing Detroit. C’mon Ben, let me see you throw at least one C-Webb baby-hook back to the 10th row. Give a Pistons fan at least one tiny bit of regret we let you go.

PS – Ok had to mention the other series. To me the outcome proved one thing – the Warriors style of play can beat this Jazz team. This game could simply have gone either way. You think the Warriors are going to lose one at home? Nope. So if they win game 2 I’m predicting a Golden State victory. That’s right. Golden State vs San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals. Let me digest that for a day…

Day 16: Spurs Draw First Blood… literally
Game 1 between what most believe are the best two teams in the playoffs couldn’t have delivered any more. The margin was never greater than 8 points, both teams scored 105+, the marquee players Nash and Duncan had BIG games, and it came down to the last minute. I continue to declare my love for Tony Parker (sorry Eva) – scored 32 points on 14/22 shootiong, dished out 8 assists, and put a hole in Nash’s head that may have won the game. Seriously though, when Parker is shooting the ball that well nobody has any hope of beating the Spurs. Much has been made of whether the Suns can draw positives out of this game – Nash didn’t play the last minute, the game seem to be played at the Suns uptempo pace, Amare gave a real defensive spark with 18 boards and 5 blocks, etc. I agree that Nash missing the last minute was costly, and that its promising the Spurs couldn’t hold the Suns to less than 100 points, and that Amare did look lively on the defensive end (as he needs to be). But do you think the Spurs care? A loss is a loss in the playoffs, plain and simple. Suns will need to do a lot more to get close to winning this series. My official tip – Spurs in 6.

Day 15: Pistons Firing
Oh boy have I been waiting for this match up for a long time! About 16 years! Well not really, but since Big Ben moved 250 miles down the road to the Windy City, Piston’s fans have been licking their lips at a prospective Bulls-Pistons playoff matchup. All season I maintained that these were the best two teams out East and should be matching up in the ECF. But instead the Bulls screw up on the last day of the season, condeming them to a 2nd-round matchup against the Powerhouse of the Eastern Conference.

Game 1 today was an unexpected blow out. But several things went the Pistons way: Chauncey got hot very quickly, Dyess and J-Max were both big off the bench, Sheed was hitting his threes, Gordon got in early foul trouble, and Noc had a horror after opening his big mouth in some pre-game trashtalking. With all that happening it was bound to be a Pistons win. But as Chauncey said, there won’t be another game like that. Someone’s playoff winning streak had to come to an end. Just glad it wasn’t my Pistons :)

PS – You blew it T-Mac. This is worse than being up 3-1 against Detroit four years back. This is worse than losing four straigh to the Mavs two years back. This was supposed to be the year, you and Yao taking over the league, avoiding San Antonio, Dallas, and Phoenix in the first round, and landing home-court advantage over the supposed happy-to-be-there Utah Jazz… what more could you ask for? I’ll go easy on T-Mac since it was a painfully close game 7 that could have gone either way. But i’m not going to put ANY expectations on the Rockets next season. I’ve had them as a potential championship dark-horse the last two years. I’m not falling for that again.

Day 14: I take it all Back
Who said Chris Bosh was going to stamp his authority during this series and open his playoff career in spectacular fashion? I did. I truly, honestly believed we were about to witness something very special from CB4. He established himself as a true leader over the second half of the season, and most would agree that 3rd place out East was a phenomenal effort for that Raptors squad. But I overlooked the genius of Jason Kidd. Averaging a triple-double for an entire playoff series? Are you kidding me? The way he’s playing I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do the same against the Cavs. (By the way my prediction for that series is Cavs in 7 – purely because of home-court advantage. It’s gonna be close.)

My saving grace as a Bosh-enthusiast is that he went down swinging hard in the game 6 loss to the Nets. 23 pts, 9 assists and 7 rebs, 13 of those points in the 4th quarter, including the go-ahead shot in the final minute. If not for RJ’s lunging interception Bosh might have caught that ball and hit the game-winner. We’ll never know. My point is that unlike Dirk, Bosh had no such dissapearing act that will haunt him all summer. Mark my words, Bosh will be back in the playoffs next year and he’ll be ready. I have faith in CB4.

Day 13: Upset of the Century
Well it happened. The most unthinkable upset in NBA history (and surely one of the greatest upsets in any sport) has just occured. It didn’t even go to 7 games, and game 6 wasn’t even close. It was a blow out. Dirk has unfortunately confirmed my suspicions that he is a choker, and that the game 7 vs San Antonio last year was an aberration. Harsh? You bet ya. But you can’t just do it once Dirk, you gotta do it every time. Dropping the ‘06 Finals against a rampaging Wade-lead Heat is one thing… losing in the first round vs the 8th best team out West is plain embarrasing, and unfortunately will scar his career forever. It is a huge psychological blow to the Mavs team as a whole. They gotta come back next year knowing there is no way they can top a 67-win season, yet they still gotta play through the whole 82 games, and THEN it all starts again in the playoffs. I’m gonna go on record as saying THIS Mavs team will never win a title. Not with Dirk at the helm.

This of course means I will be parading down my street with Dirk written on my butt cheeks. I stay true to my word. I put my butt on the line and I will pay the consequences. So not only am I massively dissapointed in Dirk, but now my entire street will be.

Day 12: Deja vu
The Spurs did it again. Lost the opening game against the Nuggs and then proceeded to blow them out of the water for 4 straight games – just as they did in 2005. Denver has to be shattered, because this is not the same team as the ‘05 team. This team had a more mature Carmelo Anthony, the Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Camby, and one of the best scorers in NBA history in Allen Iverson. This time it was supposed to be different. But they didn’t get it done, and I’m not sure if it was a case of AI trying to carry a team that actually didn’t need him carrying it, but there sure looked like there was a lot of disharmony in that Denver squad. Especially down the stretch of each game. But that is something I’m sure they’ll figure out… give Melo and AI another year playing together and this team will be VERY different.

Credit to the Lakers. They didn’t go down without a fight in game 6. Some people think Kobe might have been a bit harsh in saying things need to change “now” in the post-game comments. But I actually think it’s great. I think Kobe, as the team’s leader, has to show a sense of urgency and concern about the immediate future, especially when they’re only one player away from Championship glory. To the Lakers organisation I say this: make the changes, do whatever you have to do to give Kobe even a small chance at winning it all. The window of oppurtunity to capitalise on the prime years of the most talented player to ever play the game is slowly closing. It would be a crime not to see him have at least one or two deep playoff runs before he walks away from the game.

Day 11: The Pants Stay On
Everyone has said it already. The Warriors blew it. Absolutely blew it. Up by 9 with three minutes to go, game seemingly in hand… and then it happened. Dirk showed up, the REAL Dirk. The big hairy German scored 12 over that final 3-minute span, leading his team to a 15-0 run that ensured we will be going back to Oakland for game 6. What’s more, Baron Davis played a decent game, including the huge trey that pushed the lead to 9 points. Can’t help but feel the fire may have been lit under Dirk’s belly now, this might be what he needed, the Warriors might be helpless from here. Kind of like last year where after four sub-par games against the Lakers Steve Nash finally turned around and said “F–k this we’re way better than this team, I’m going to the second round”. The Warriors will be heartbroken knowing they were so close to glory, yet have to do it all again. Oakland has been a formiddable venue for opposition teams all season. Who would have thought we’d be saying that title success for the Mavs must go through Oakland?

Day 10: All Defensive Teams
Playoffs went by the book today – Cavs completed the 3rd sweep out East, Houston pipped the Jazz for the 3-2 series lead, and the Spurs are on the way to another 4-1 first-round domination of the Nuggets. For me the exciting news today was the announcement of the All-Defensive Team. I take the All-Defensive Team very seriously. I consider it just as important an accolade as the All-NBA Teams, perhaps even more so. In a league where attention (and media spotlight) is given to scoring and offense, to be recognised solely for your defensive efforts is a huge sign of respect, especially coming from the coaches who vote for these teams. Tim Duncan, Marcus Camby and Bruce Bowen were all locks for my All-Defensive First Team. Kobe and Raja were surprises, but again, I’m much more willing to accept the decision of the coaches who have to deal with these players night-in night-out and KNOW the game of basketball, than a bunch of over-opiniated journalists with all kinds of pre-conceived notions and agendas. Kobe to me is the standout – he had another brilliant offensive season, dropping 10 fifty point games, yet was recognised as the best guard defender in the NBA. More than anything this confirms he is the best all-round player in the league.

Can’t argue much with the 2nd team either, though I would have liked to see Billups make the cut ahead of J-Kidd (obviously some Detroit bias in there). Great to see Captain Kirk make the squad, has been underrated defensively for a while but obviously not anymore. Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of all of this? The absence of Shawn Marion. I don’t remember the last time a DPOY candidate didn’t even make the 1st or 2nd All-Defensive Team. Puzzling, and I’m not about to blindly agree with the coaches on this one because I’ve seen Marion play some seriously good defensive games. All I’ll say, is that perhaps KG and Tayshaun are better defensively than everyone realises? Food for thought.

Day 9: Unbuckling my belt…
Yes I made the bet that if the Warriors beat the Mavs I’d run nude up my street with “Dirk” written on my butt cheeks. And yes now the realisation that I might have to perform this feat is starting to sink in. It will be worth it though. There’s nothing I love more than upsets, and as far as upsets go I don’t think they come any bigger. Seriously, this is bigger than the Carlton v Essendon prelim in ‘99 which has been my benchmark for upsets the past eight years. The Warriors, a team that scraped into the playoffs on the last day of the season beating a team whose record suggests it is one of the greatest of all time. Dirk better show in up in the next few games… for my neighbors sake.

I already kissed the Heat goodbye after Game 3, thank God. What a joke. Can’t say I remember any defending champs being humiliated like that in their bid for back-to-back titles. Not even the Bulls without MJ in ‘04 were that pathetic. At least win a game for pride’s sake.

And Chris Bosh, man am I disappointed. Out of all the pre-playoff predictions I made, this is the toughest one to swallow. I thought Bosh was going to break out, but instead all we saw was J-Kidd prove why he is one of the greatest point guards of all time. C’mon Chris show me something in game 5. Don’t go down without a fight. You don’t wanna start your playoff career with a KG-esque meltdown. You might never recover.

Day 8: Sweeps out East
Could we see three first-round sweeps in the Eastern Conference? Detroit finished the job today against the Magic – first sweep since the Bad Boy era. Cavs go 3-0 up against the Wiz and a sweep has to be looking likely – unless Jamison comes out with a 50 point, 26 rebound game (which probably still wouldn’t be enough). Would be amazing to see the Bulls sweep the Heat, but the way they’ve been playing I’m not counting it out. Hey, at least we’re getting rid of the Eastern Conference trash in quick, painless fashion.

Gotta give props to Tony Parker after watching game 3 of the Spurs series. He just took over down the stretch, totally schooled Iverson on about 3 straight plays, even when AI was bumping him all over the place. That’s what really impressed me. Go watch that Spurs in-bound play with about 1 minute left. AI is holding and shoving TP all the way to the ball. Parker catches it, looks at the ref as if to say “you gonad call that moron?”, of course he gets no call. But then he just puts his head down and charges to the rack, finishing with a nice little 2-step, AI flailing his arms and screaming at the ref all the while. It was typical Spurs no-nonsense basketball, and Parker just made Iverson look like an idiot. You the man TP.

Day 7: Kiss the Heat Goodbye
Another combined 50 from Deng and Gordon, another Chicago steamroll of the helpless looking reigning champs. Ok maybe not a steamroll, but I was so sure the Heat would win this game that any kind of Chicago victory would have stupefied me. Seriously, this is the time where the defending champs are supposed to show their steely resolve and determination… you know Rudy T and the “heart of a champion” and all that. But they didn’t, and as much as I don’t like to blame injuries (believe me as a Pistons fan I’ve copped enough about Malone being injured in the ‘04 Finals… as if a 40-year old is the critical factor when winning a title with Shaq and Kobe on your team anyway) I can’t help but think the Heat would be an entirely different team if Wade was 100%. Entirely different. Don’t let his decent numbers fool you. Wade is THAT good that even at 80% health he’s better than 99% of the league, but when you’re opposition guards are shooting 60% and you’re down 0-3 you’ve got like a 5% chance of winning even if everyone else on your team is 100% which they’re not. Its a percentage game basketball.

PS – Jason Kidd came closer to a 20-20-20 game then I thought was ever possible. Has that ever happened before? Yes, once. Will leave you guessing who it was. Kidd is restoring my faith that perhaps one day we’ll see a player average a triple-double for an entire season. 13-9-8 is pretty close (his regular season averages) and his averages for this series? 12-12-13. Just ridiculous.

Day 6: One of Kobe’s greats
I think we’ve all been a little spoilt this season with all of Kobe’s 50 and 60 point games. Kobe scoring 45 doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore, but seriously folks, today was one of his all time great games. That may sound a little strange coming in a series where the Lakers have no chance and will probably go out in 5 games. But when its all said and done, scoring 45 in a playoff game when you’re team has been flat as a tack for two games, hitting all the big shots down the stretch including a tough turnaround J over Raja Bell in the final minute, and getting 6 assists to go with it … all that counts for one seriously great playoff game that only a handful of players could pull off. It wasn’t all about KB24 though, it was also about KB54. That’s Kwame for anyone who isn’t a member of his fan club. I am, and I’ll go on record as saying he’s probably the second most important guy on this Lakers team, as far as their chances for beating the Suns go.

And I take it all back… can’t believe as a Pistons fan I had so little faith in my own team. Didn’t think we’d win game 3, we never do (we’ve lost our last six game 3’s when leading 2-0). Says a lot about this current Pistons’ team mentality and focus. I’m likin it.

Day 5: Business as Usual
Everything went by the book today… unfortunately. TD does his thing and the Spurs beat the Nuggets, although not that convincingly. Dallas makes up for their first-round embarrassment and makes it less likely I’ll be running down my street nude next week (listen to RoBloG 1 if you haven’t already), and the Cavs squeeze out a victory when they shouldn’t really have to do any squeezing whatsoever in this series.

PS – You know that scene in Team America: World Police where Kim Jong-il is walking around his palace singing “I’m so Ronery”? I can’t get that image out of my head, except instead of Kim Jong-il its Antawn Jamison. Poor guy is walking around at training with his head down singing…

I’m so Ronery
So Ronery
The Wizard that’s all on his own
Gilbert’s finished
Caron’s injured
And our playoff chances are blown
I have to score points, and pull down rebounds
I never though I’d say I miss Kwame Brown
I think I might cry if Lebron dunks on meeee
Until then I’ll just be ronery
Poor rittle me
Day 4: Whoops Deng did it again
After game 1 of the Bulls series I said that if Deng and Gordon keep up that kind of production, the Bulls will sweep. In game 2 they combine for 53, both shooting 11-19. Wade just doesn’t look like Dwayne Wade at the moment, kinda feel sorry for the guy. Bulls didn’t just beat the Heat in this one… they smashed them.

Thank you Chris Bosh for showing up in game 2 (and you should be thanking Mr Parker for his efforts too). 25 points and 13 rebs for CB4, his first playoff victory and one of many to come in his career I’m sure.

PS – Kobe scoring 15 in game 2? I’ve seen Kobe score 15 points in 3 minutes. What the hell is going on here? Lakers need a minor miracle here just to win a game. I’m just waiting for all the media Kobe-bashing once the Lakers get swept. It’s gonad be nasty.

Day 3: Pistons Firing on all Cylinders
Another Pistons win, another game where all 5 starters hit double-figures. I know this series isn’t generating much excitement, but I’m sure it will when the Pistons lose their customary third game in the opening round. I’m just waiting to respond to all those “look out the Magic might be ready to cause an upset!” comments that I had to shoot down last year against the Bucks, the year before against Philly, the year before against Bucks, etc.

Day 2: Upset City
I thought the Warriors/Nuggets were good for at least one playoff win in each series. Didn’t think those wins would come on the road… in game 1! Don’t know which win was more impressive – the Warriors simply because it was against the supposed NBA-best Mavericks? (keeping in mind how much trouble they cause that team) Or the Nuggets because Timmy D is Timmy D and the Spurs are a well-oiled playoff machine? (although the Nuggets do have the greatest scorer of all time under 6-foot). Either way, wouldn’t be surprised to see both those teams lose 4-straight from here. Come back to me when they’re up 2-1 and I’ll talk.

Day 1: T-Mac Takes Over
Just finished watching the Rockets-Jazz game. Man, T-mac just ripped the heart out of the Jazz single-handedly in that 3rd quarter. He made everyone else look like high-school amateurs, seriously, T-Mac is that much better then every other player in this series it’s just ridiculous. He keeps that up and the Rockets cruise through this series.

Nets get a jump on the Raps… kinda saw that coming. Still waiting for Bosh to explode. It’s gonna happen in game 2 you wait and see.


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