PLAYOFF DIARY: DAY 17
I think its about time I started to admit I was wrong about the Hornets. In the first round I tipped them to lose to Dallas in 6 games. Despite convincingly doing away with the Mavs, I then tipped them to lose to the Spurs in 6. I don’t think I was really alone in that prediction (most of the ESPN “experts” agreed), but after handing out two 20-point thumpings to the Spurs I’m starting to think I’m completely underestimating them. To think we could end up with a Hornets vs Lakers Western Conference Finals! Do you know how unlikely that would have seemed six months ago? You would have got 1000-1 odds on that one. The other day I went back and listened to the pre-season podcast we made about the Western Conference, interested to know what we said about the Hornets. I think I said something like “I’m pretty excited about this team” – I’d love for that to be interpreted as “I think this team can finish top 2 out West”, but in reality I thought they’d finish 8th. Again, I wasn’t really alone in that prediction. A lot of people tipped them to miss the playoffs – the Warriors were a far more popular choice for 8th seed. But here we are in May, talking about the Hornets 2-0 up on the reigning champions, talking about how Chris Paul was stiff to miss out on the MVP (more on that later), talking about championships. This can’t be happening, can it?!

A lot of the Hornet’s success of course rests on the very young shoulders of Chris Paul. One of the most remarkable regular seasons I’ve ever seen has continued into the post-season. I’m a bit lost for words to describe Chris Paul’s achievements this year, and I’m not just saying that because I wanna stop writing soon to go eat my soup. I think when this playoffs is all said and done we should all sit back and just ponder Chris Paul. Find your comfiest chair or a nice spot in a park, stick your iPod into your ears, crack open a bevvy, light up a smoke or whatever takes your fancy, gaze up at the sky and just think about Chris Paul. Think about what he did this season. Think about what the Hornets have done this season. And think about his mesmerizing piece of work entitled “How to Become one of the Greatest Point Guards of All Time in Less than Six Months”. There’s too much happening right now in the NBA to truly appreciate CP3 for all he’s done. But when the lean months of the year come round, promise me you’ll take the time to think about it. In the meantime go celebrate Chris Paul Blog Day, and Happy Birthday to CP3 for yesterday! (today in the US)

And Magic fans, I know you’re bitter about Chauncey’s dodgy three (and yeah, it was dodgy). But perhaps it would have mattered more if the game came down to the wire. You couldn’t hit your shots down the stretch, so you lost. Twelve minutes of basketball passed after Chauncey’s shot, so I don’t believe for a second if affected the outcome of the game. Wanna make a point? Go and beat Detroit in game 3. Although considering Dwight had 22-18 and you hit 11 threes in game 2 and you still lost, something tells me you’ll struggle.

Day 17’s Playoff MVP Votes
3 votes – Chris Paul
2 votes – Chauncey Billups
1 vote – Tayshaun Prince

PLAYOFF DIARY: DAY 18
Don’t have much to say about the Cavs vs Celtics game, other than it was probably the ugliest game I’ve seen all season. Lebron shot a craptastic 11% from the field, Ray Allen didn’t score (first time that’s happened since 1997!), Pierce was horrible, and both teams failed to hit 80 points. At least back in 2003-2005 when the Pistons/Pacers used to grind out 75-69 scorelines you were watching two extremely good defensive teams, and scoring in the 70s didn’t mean they were shooting badly. But today was all about bad shooting. I remember looking at the box score during the second quarter. The Cavs were shooting something like 26%, the Celtics 46%, yet the Celtics were only up by four points!! That kind of thing only happens when one team is turning the ball over at a horrible rate (which the Celtics were) or when they’re getting seriously out-rebounded (which they weren’t). In summary, Boston won this game despite playing like crap. Cleveland was crap, Lebron was really crap, and both teams should be crapping their pants about Detroit if they keep playing like this.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this post I’ve been pondering the amazing lameness of this game, and one thing struck me. Ray Allen didn’t score, but he only took four shots. Since when does Ray Allen only take four shots in a game? If Ray Allen isn’t taking shots, what the hell is he doing for 37 minutes on the court? I put this to my Ray Allen-loving friend, who responded “he was getting his team mates involved”. He had 1 assist. “He was playing defense man”. Zero steals, zero blocks. He had four turnovers. He wasn’t shooting, wasn’t passing, and still turned the ball over four times. I need to watch this game because I can’t understand how Ray Allen – the second greatest three-shooter of all time and a player who would still jack up threes if his arms were decapitated – can only take four shots, not make any, and fail to do anything else on the court but turn the ball over.
Congratulations to Kobe Bryant on winning the MVP. I didn’t necessarily have him as my #1, but the TrashTalk consensus ballot did. Well done boys. A lot has been made about this being a “lifetime achievement” award, which is of course complete nonsense (at least I hope it was, from the voters point of view). But it is quite remarkable that it took 12 seasons for Kobe to win an MVP, which matches Karl Malone’s streak as the longest span of time for a player before winning the MVP. I remember talking to one of my good friends a few months ago, who hasn’t really followed the NBA closely since the days when it was cool to wear a Larry Johnson jersey and Latrell Spreewell was actually good. We were talking about Kobe and the Lakers who were starting to look good thanks to Bynum’s stellar play. “Kobe could win the MVP award this season, you know” I said. “Yeah… how many MVPs would that be for Kobe?” he replied. “Ahh, that’d be his first”. He was in utter shock. “What?! Kobe hasn’t won an MVP before?”. I assured him it was true. “But… hasn’t he like been the best player in the league that last ten years?!”. He was a little off the mark with that, but I could see his point. For a long time now Kobe has been marketed as the best shooting guard in the league, the most dynamic scorer, a first-rate defender, a three-time champion, and a fearless competitor. That much hasn’t changed in a decade, yet he still hadn’t even come second for an MVP. Let me break it down for you…

1999-2000: Probably the second best shooting guard in the league behind AI, and the second best player on a championship team. All-Defensive First team. Not really an MVP case though.
2000-2001: Fourth in the league in scoring, rounding into the best all-round player in the league. Another championship to go with it, but no real MVP case.
2001-2002: Now the best shooting guard in the league, hands down. Finished 5th in MVP voting that season, to go with another championship. Unfortunately Tim Duncan was still in his prime at this point.
2002-2003: Phenomenal year for Kobe. Triple-doubles, nine straight 40 point games, the 12 threes in a game, all resulting in a 30-7-6 stat line. All NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team. Finished 3rd in MVP voting. Again, TD was still in his prime.
2003-2004: Another All NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team double (I’m dubbing it the “A-Team Double”). Finished 5th in MVP voting that year. Unfortunately no one was going to beat KG that year.
2004-2005: The “lost year” for Kobe. Plagued by injury, and slipped to All-NBA Third Team. Didn’t get a single MVP vote.
2005-2006: The greatest individual scoring season in twenty years, and arguably ever. Dragged a hopeless Lakers team to the playoffs. A-Team Double. Finished 4th in MVP voting, which is one of the most perplexing results in MVP history. I could accept him finishing second to Nash, but finishing behind Lebron and Dirk that year was almost insulting.
2006-2007: Arguably the second greatest individual scoring season in the last twenty years. Averaged out, it equated to one 50 point game every two weeks. Ridiculous. A-Team Double. Finished 3rd in MVP voting.
2007-2008: No better individually than any previous season. Think Kobe shared the ball more? He’s posted better assist numbers in three past seasons. Think he was more efficient? He’s shot a better FG% in five previous seasons. The most important number? The “W” column for the Lakers: 57.

I liked this quote from Phil Jackson today: “I don’t know anybody who’s ever deserved this trophy more. I don’t know anybody who’s ever worked as hard to accomplish what he’s accomplished“. That is quite a statement coming from the guy who coached Michael Jordan to six championships. On that topic, I was talking to my house mate a few nights ago about Phil Jackson and how he’s ended up coaching the two best shooting guards of all time. We both agreed, at some point a few years down the track can bet your ass that Phil is going to write a definitive Jordan vs Kobe book that will make him billions of dollars. Seriously, who wouldn’t buy that book? And what person is more qualified to write it? Most Jordan fans are stubborn enough about hearing anyone’s arguments that “Kobe (or any other player) is better than Jordan”, but if Phil Jackson ever spoke those words, could the MJ fans really argue? And if he flat out rejects that Kobe even comes close to MJ, would the Kobe-lovers ever recover? I’m telling you, one day that book is going to come. And I’m going to buy it.

Day 18’s Playoff MVP Votes
2 vote – KG
I’m sorry, but the only other players who shot above 50% in this game were Rajon Rondo (4 turnovers, zero points in the fourth), Kendrick Perkins (3 turnovers, zero points in the fourth), and Sasha Pavlovic. As a rule I don’t hand out votes to Sasha Pavlovic so KG is the only one getting love today.

Playoff MVP Leader Board:
Chris Paul – 12 votes
Lebron James – 9 votes
Kobe Bryant – 9 votes
Tony Parker – 7 votes
Dwight Howard – 5 votes
Joe Johnson – 5 votes

Note: I don’t usually like to slam down the hatorade for the fun of it, but Basketbawful does. I guarantee you they will have supreme coverage of this game when they next update their site. This game was “Worst of the Night” paradise.

Comment posted by
at 5/7/2008 2:06:28 PM

[…] Kickz101 TrashTalk Podcast Blog wrote an interesting post today on Day 17 & 18: The Good (Kobe), the Bad (Orlando) and the Ugly (BOS vs CLE)Here’s a quick excerptPLAYOFF DIARY: DAY 18 Don’t have much to say about the Cavs vs Celtics game, other than it was probably the ugliest game I’v e seen all season….That kind of thing only happens when one team is turning the ball over at a horrible rate (which the Celtics were)…The Cavs were shooting something like 26%, the Celtics 46%, yet the Celtics were only up by four points!!… […]

Comment posted by
at 5/7/2008 11:35:07 PM

3 Votes KG.

Comment posted by
at 5/7/2008 1:06:28 PM

[…] Kickz101 TrashTalk Podcast Blog wrote an interesting post today on Day 17 & 18: The Good (Kobe), the Bad (Orlando) and the Ugly (BOS vs CLE)Here’s a quick excerptPLAYOFF DIARY: DAY 18 Don’t have much to say about the Cavs vs Celtics game, other than it was probably the ugliest game I’v e seen all season….That kind of thing only happens when one team is turning the ball over at a horrible rate (which the Celtics were)…The Cavs were shooting something like 26%, the Celtics 46%, yet the Celtics were only up by four points!!… […]

Comment posted by
at 5/7/2008 10:35:07 PM

3 Votes KG.


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