This day was black and white for me. There were two games and the setting was similar for both: A young hungry team trying to make a name for itself in the playoffs (Magic, Hornets) against a playoff-savvy veteran ball club who’s been here a million times before (Pistons, Spurs). The results were completely different.

In Auburn Hills the Pistons systematically grinded their opponents into the ground (how many times have we heard that before?) and ended up whooping them comfortably. The Spurs meanwhile, hampered by Duncans incredible all-time-playoff-low 5 points were ran out of the Hornets building in a whooping of similar proportions. The Tony Parker vs Chris Paul battle everyone was hyped up to see was overshadowed by the Hornets big men dominating (West 30 points and 9 rebounds, Chandler 10-15 and 3 blocks) and Duncan’s dismal 1-9 shooting display. For the record CP3 probably won the battle of the point guards with 17 points and 13 assists, but I can’t help but think that if Duncan even shoots 40% in this one the Spurs have a chance. I don’t know if I’ll ever see Tim Duncan go for 5 points-3 rebounds again for the rest of my life – it’s that rare.

Something rare also happened in the Pistons game. When the game was in the balance, the spark of victory came not from Chauncey Billups, Rip, or Sheed, nor did it come from Tayshaun Prince or McDyess. Who does that leave? (and if you don’t know any other Pistons players you should really go study up on your Zoo Crew). It came from none other than the Pistons baby-eating Jason Maxiell. Which is really tough luck for the Magic by the way, because when Chauncey/Rip/Tay/Sheed are shooting poorly/getting bench time you normally like your chances. Like SVG said: “When you play the Pistons with all the people they have, if what you give up is a Jason Maxiell 17-footer you generally think you’ve taken away their better option. But he stepped up big time and did something different.” WRONG! Sorry Stan but you obviously didn’t read the scout report or watch any game tape. I’ve seen Maxiell knock down that jumper fairly consistently all season (admittedly he doesn’t take many). He often gets called the “mini Ben Wallace” but that is actually an insult to J-Max because offensively he’s lightyears ahead of Ben. Don’t call him “mini Ben” to his face… or he will eat your children.

I love the amount of trash talking that’s come out of this series so far:
“There’s no sense in guys coming to my rescue. I mean, that was Rashard Lewis. He’s a 3 man.” – Theo Ratliff, after Maxiell stood up for him when he took a hard foul from Rashard.
“You can have a lot of energy in five minutes a game. What’s he played? 15 games? Tell him to come out and guard me.” – Rashard Lewis fires one back to Theo
“Dwight is an imposing player, but we’ve played against some of the Hall of Famers so it’s not really something we worry about,” – Ratliff again opening his big mouth (he’s now talked more trash than he has played minutes this season)
“He’s has a very strong upper body. But if you get down low and take his legs out, he’s not that powerful.” – Maxiell stating that if you chop Dwight Howard’s legs off he’s actually not that strong.
“That’s not true, trust me.” – Dwight responds to J-Max, subtely suggesting that if you take his legs out he’s still left with one very powerful leg
“You can’t rattle us, we ain’t no punks” – Sheed probably just talking to himself
“Who? Who?” I’m getting sick and tired of people calling us soft.” – Jameer Nelson responding to Theo’s remarks
“Rip around screens is the best in the league. Since Reggie Miller retired, he’s the best catch-and-shoot player coming off screens in the NBA.” – Not trash talk, just wanted to make sure everybody read this :)

All this smack is rather amusing and pointless – there’s no rivalry here, and the Magic will struggle enough winning one game in this series without worrying about the mind war. But let’s face it, this trash talk at least serves to make a once bland series that little bit more spicy.

Day 15’s Playoff MVP Votes:
3 votes – David West (going for 30-9 against TD will usually get you 3 votes)
2 votes – Jason Maxiell (a very energetic 12 points, including 10 in the fourth, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks)
1 vote – Chris Paul (17 points and 13 assists, could probably be considered “below average” for CP3 but he gets votes because no one else for Detroit had an impact like this)

Ok. Well done to the Celts for jumping that big hurdle in game 7. You’ve beaten the Atlanta Hawks, well done. Now settle the f–k down. Watching the highlights from today’s game I couldn’t help but feel the Celts were a little too pleased with themselves for beating a team that had no right to take 1 game off them. I know KG has that big intense muscle and all, but the throat-slitting gesture he made after one scoring play was so distasteful I think it made me slightly hate him. Why bother with the antics when you’re doing something you’re supposed to be doing, and doing it easily I might add? The Celtics needed a business-like performance in game 7, minimal fuss and lots of focus. While they got the job done, I can’t help but feel this team’s psyche is a little out of whack. I can’t help but think Detroit would have done the same job but walked off the court barely wincing.

Maybe I’m making too much of a big deal about this. But one thing is for sure: the disparity between the Celtics play – and mindset – at home and on the road is massive. While I’m tipping them to beat the Cavs in 7, if Cleveland get a win in Boston in games 1 and 2 you can bet yourself the Celtics are in trouble. What’s more, you can bet the Celtics will know it.

Not going to say much about Kobe and the Lakers other than this: right now they are the best team in the playoffs and Kobe is the best player. He’s playing at a ridiculously high level, and I’m starting to get the feeling no one will be able to beat the Lakers when he’s playing like this. Out of every superstar in this playoff series, Kobe is the only one who hasn’t had a bad game. I may not have agreed 100% with him winning the MVP (reportedly so), but right now he’s playing on a level we didn’t even see in the regular season. KB24 gets the 3 votes today, hands down.

Day 16’s Playoff MVP Votes:
3 votes – Kobe Bryant (playing perfect ball… some man-crush points thrown in here too)
2 votes – Pau Gasol (18-10-5 and 2 blocks)
1 vote – Sasha Vujacic (before Celtics fans get riled up, here me out. The guy had 15 points on 4-6 shooting, 5-5 from the line, 2-2 from down town, including 9-straight Laker points in just 2 minutes early in the second quarter. Talk about production off the bench!)

Playoff MVP Leader Board:
Lebron James – 9 votes
Chris Paul – 9 votes
Kobe Bryant – 9 votes
Tony Parker – 7 votes
Dwight Howard – 5 votes
Joe Johnson – 5 votes

Comment posted by
at 5/7/2008 10:34:33 PM

2 Votes for Maxiel for a “very energetic 12 points”, and then the next day you give ONE vote to KG for 28p, 8reb, incuding CLUTCH buckets in the final minute, and single handedly winning the game for the celts when his teammates have gone missing.
Thats bull!

3 Votes KG.
0 Votes Maxiel.

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