The playoff diary is back, along with the usual Playoff MVP votes we’ll hand out every day. I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to post every day – I am on holiday after all! – but I will do my best.
We have to talk about Derrick Rose. I’m sure the Internet is about to be swamped with a Rose-love fest and all kinds of metaphors about “being in bloom”. I want to make it simple: this was the best rookie performance in a playoff game I have seen in my entire life. I was not old enough to see Magic back in 1980 – although I have seen his game 6 since on DVD – but Rose’s performance has to be the next best thing we’ve seen in 30 years. Especially when you take into account context: the Bulls being a vastly younger side, playing on the road in the most hostile of environments, playing the defending champions, playing a team they had NEVER beaten in the postseason (including all of MJ’s career), playing against arguably the best point-guard defender in the league. When you weigh all that up, it’s inescapable – the greatest rookie playoff performance of this generation.
But here’s the disclaimer: if the Bulls lose this series, Rose’s game 1 loses all its shine. If they win the series, Rose’s performance goes down in Chicago Bulls folklore alongside Michael Jordan’s countless heroics. But if they lose, it becomes nothing more than a freakish anomaly in an otherwise predictable series outcome. The basketball fan in me wants the Bulls to get over the line in this series. My basketball brain knows the Celtics will still probably win. But they have to show me something in game 2 – energy. I though the Celtics looked really tired today. Pierce, Allen, even Rondo, all at times looked quite lethargic and legless. And that is no coincidence, because the guy that normally puts energy into that building was sitting on the bench. Also, note to Ray Allen: wake the f–k up!
As a rule, I will not spend much time talking about the Pistons in any game they lose. Call me a sore-loser Detroit fan, but watching us face the Cavs today was not fun at all. What was annoying, is that no matter how close we drew late in the game (and we did get within 8 points in the fourth) there was a complete sense of inevitability about the whole thing. Maybe that’s because we seemed to make all our runs with Lebron on the bench? I’m not sure. All I know, is that something very special is going to need to happen for the Pistons to stay competitive in this series. I have no idea what that is, and that is the other frustrating thing. I look around at our team and I see no one really capable of exploding in any game and carrying the team on their shoulders. Chauncey used to do that every now and then with a 25 point, 10 assist game with all the big shots down the stretch. Iverson was SUPPOSED to bring that this season. The Pistons have always been a little “star-less”, without that superstar franchise guy, but it was never more blindingly obvious than today.
Just to give credit where credit’s due, Lebron was fantastic, absolutely fantastic. Sorry Cavs fans, that’s all I’m going to give you, at least until you’re facing a different opponent (do any Cavs fans even read this blog?).
The Mavs won and looked realllly impressive while doing so. I’m not surprised, I did pick them to win the series (ok I’m a little surprised they did it in game 1). JJ Barea (Puerto Rican Guy!) continues to surprise most people (not us), Dampier looked like the Dampier of old (in that one season he was really good), Josh Howard was sublime, Dirk was Dirk, Bass and Terry were huge off the bench, and Jason Kidd didn’t really have to do anything. Duncan and Parker did everything they could possibly do, and if you watched the game you no doubt saw how exhausted they looked at the end of this game. After one stretch of play where Parker raced in and out of the key trying to find a shot for himself, he got knocked down on his ass, and got up off the floor like an old dude with a hangover. He looked buggered. They cannot carry this team without Manu against a team as talented and as deep as Dallas. Even Finley chipped in with 5/5 shooting from downtown and it was still nowhere near enough. This series could be over a lot sooner than most people think.
While watching the Blazers v Rockets game, I realized something about halfway through the first quarter, probably around the same time a million other people watching had the exact same realization: this Blazers team is completely out of their league. Words cannot describe how thoroughly the Rockets dominated this game, from the opening tip. Yao hit 9/9 and didn’t even play the fourth quarter! WTF?! And without wanting to say “I told you so” but the X-Factor I pointed out in this series, Aaron Brooks, completely owned this game (27 points and 7 assists). I don’t know if you understand how huge that is. Aaron Brooks scored more than 27 points only once all season, then he comes in and does it on the Blazers home court in game 1 of the playoffs? Huge. If he continues that form – or anything close to it – the Rockets cruise.
Of course, you can never draw too many conclusions from one game. Especially the first one in the playoffs. So Celtics fans, relax, you’re the defending champs and you will respond accordingly. Spurs fans, remember, you’re the Spurs. Blazers fans, just put game one out of your memory – I know your players will. Pistons fans, put the names of all the other playoff teams in a hat, pick one out and start rooting for them for the rest of the playoffs. Otherwise you’ll soon get very angry, and very bored.
PLAYOFF MVP VOTES
Derrick Rose – 3 votes. Easiest three votes I’ve ever given out.
Lebron James – 2 votes. Played like the MVP he is. Pistons only looked menacing when he was on the bench.
Yao Ming – 1 votes. I don’t know if there’s such thing as a perfect game, but Yao came close today.