Contrary to what my mate Wibo tells me, Ray Allen’s head
clearly does not always have a matte finish
3 votes – Caron Butler. Who saw this coming? If you had told me one Mavs player would explode for 35 and 11 in Game 6 I would have bet my house on it being Dirk Nowitzki. But Tough Juice? Did NOT see that coming. Not after watching the Mavs fizzle away at the end of Games 3 and 4 with Butler being a complete non-factor. And that is perhaps the biggest thing to come out of this game. Not that the Mavs won it convincingly, but that Caron Butler might be a factor again. Because Caron Butler sets a tone for this Mavs team that no other player can set. A Stephen Jackson-esque bad-ass attitude, an aggressiveness that doesn’t come naturally for Dirk, Jet and Co. I love the fact that he tried to go up and posterize Tim Duncan, even if the ball was deflected and rattled unconvincingly into the rim. The very fact a Mavs player thought about trying to plant one on Timmy’s face gives me hope this series might go to seven. Give me some more of that Tough Juice please.
2 votes – Pau Gasol. Yes Kobe Bryant did an outstanding defensive job on Westbrook, and yes Bynum shot a ridiculous 8-10 and finally used his height to his advantage. But it was Pau Gasol who dominated this one from start to finish (well, till end of third quarter when he sat), on both ends of the floor, with the ball and without. He killed the Thunder inside with his post-game and with his deft passes to Bynum – the kind of genius passes that make Doug Collins gush in those “he’s just so talented” outbursts. He played with a purpose I have not seen Gasol play with for a while – that angry, caveman-like purpose that brought out the best of him last playoffs. 25 points on 10-16 shooting, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 5-5 from the line, a steal and a block. All in 30 minutes. Just about the perfect game for Pau.
1 vote – Ray Allen. I found it difficult handing out the 1-vote today. Derrick Rose nearly earned it, as did Wade. And Kobe and Lebron weren’t far off. But I like what Ray did today for a couple of reasons. Firstly, he had to respond after Wade absolutely whooped his butt in that epic 46-point outburst. I knew that wouldn’t sit well with Ray, and said this in an email to my mate Wibo (the Ray Allen lover): “I’m sure Ray will get his revenge on Wade next game. I’m anticipating a very smooth response from Ray, to prove that athleticism and talent can be trumped by the ability to do one thing extremely well”. That one thing, as we all know, is hit threes. And hit threes he did, nailing 5 of 6 and – get this – finishing with a ridiculous 53% three-point shooting (19-36) for the series. He even did other things like rebounding and passing, apparently. Secondly, he stopped the Wade Train in its tracks – twice – when Wade was gathering steam in the fourth. Ray’s threes were huge nails into Miami’s post-season coffin. We’re hearing a lot about Kobe’s aging body and physical limitations -well how about a little love for Ray over here? He just keeps going strong, and judging by those by numbers, is still as smooth as ever.