Day 36 – Ze goggles…zey do something after all?
(Lakers v Suns Game 3)

3 votes – Amare Stoudemire: In what might be a first in Playoff Vote history, I’m going to give a guy the 3 votes and then spend the rest of the post venting. So hear me out. First off, Amare was clearly the best player on the court in this game with 42 and 11. He just tore shit up, as he tends to do once in a while in a playoff series. Now here’s my beef with Amare; every time he has one of these monster games, he acts as if everyone owes him an apology for ever questioning him about anything. In fact, when I heard this line, I just about lost it:

“You can never question my determination,” [Stoudemire] said, “my focus, my dedication.”

This is coming from a guy that is averaging less than 7 rebounds per game. A guy whose focus leads to defense so inept, it has done the rounds on the web as a hilarious gif. The very same Amare Stoudemire who has managed to piss off his team-mates in a different way every year, despite the fact that the Suns are reportedly a certified rainbow factory.

And you know what the worst part is? We fall for that shit. Way to prove them wrong Amare! Great to see you back to your old self, Amare!

Well, fuck that. Amare Stoudemire, after his 42 point performance, rises to the very top of my “Guys I would never, ever want in the trenches with me” list. Yes, ahead of Vince Carter. See, Carter’s like the maths wiz who just wanted to get high all through high school – I can respect that! I know what I’m getting from him (namely, a really, really talented role player). Amare, on the other hand, is STAT. He talks all the time about being a leader, about being the best player in the world. He wants a max contract.

And yet, I don’t recall the last player who so obviously failed to understand the concept of determination, focus, and dedication. Even if he does tear shit up once in a while, and almost makes us take it all back.

2 votes – The Zone: Anyone who’s grown up in Australia (or Europe) would be comfortable with the concept of a zone. 2-3, 3-2, Box-and-1…it’s all good. But in the NBA (and the US more generally), zone remains a dirty word. A girly gimmick that’s employed by girly girls that are unable to play MAN defense.

That’s exactly why I absolutely love seeing a good zone work in the NBA – not only is it interesting tactically, but the opposition team is almost always genuinely devastated to have been beaten this way. So kudos to the Suns’ zone for getting it done. To channel my inner Mark Jackson – the Zone was doing A OUTSTANDING JOB!

1 vote – Kobe: I know he was  -12 for the game and his team lost, but when Kobe is making shots, it’s just a beautiful thing to watch, regardless of the score. There’s obviously a fine line between selfish chucker and ridiculous shot-maker, and for Kobe I find that line is at around 47% from the field. In this series, he’s well over that number, and it’s been terrific to watch. But note, if the Suns persist with the zone, Kobe will need to learn to give up the ball early to Pau (and get it back later on cuts), or the Lakeshow could be in for a bigger fight than they had expected after leaving Staples up 2-0.

Day 37 – Where Nelson pulls a Turkoglu
(Magic v Celtics Game 4)

3 votes – Dwight Howard: Dominated ugly. Is still bothered by the physicality of the Boston bigs, but in this game he took it right to them, and got a few of those mechanical hook shots to drop, finishing with 32 points. Still think he could be even more effective if he regularly sprinted the floor to get position – I just don’t see his arsenal of moves bothering the Celtics for 4 straight games. Of course, Howard also did his usual stellar job on the boards, snagging 16 boards (5 offensive), to go with 4 blocks. More of the same from the big fella, and the Magic could at least extend the series and give us plebs something to watch for the next few days.

2 votes – Paul Pierce: Did pretty much whatever he wanted all game, although couldn’t finish it off at the end. Had 25 points and 11 boards, many of them coming on isos at the top of the key, often matched up against the switching Jameer Nelson. I’m just happy Reggie Miller wasn’t working this game, as I’m pretty sure he would have broken the record for most mouseinthehouse’s in one game.

And what do the Magic do about Pierce in the next game? Well, his game is just too old-school for Barnes, who is far too easily beaten by a combination of footwork, angles and pumpfakes (i.e. Pierce’s entire game). Carter did a better job staying in front of Pierce, but that’s not a match-up I’d look forward to as a Magic fan in Game 5.

1 vote – Jameer Nelson: Not sure Nelson was nearly as good throughout the game as some have suggested. In fact, he turned the ball over like crazy, got blocked on drives a couple of times and was exposed defensively all game long (first on Pierce than on Allen). Still, his gamewinningback-to-back threes provided a fun reminder of the Hedo era – where crazy off-balance jump shots would fall far more regularly than they had any right to, and we could watch Hedo’s incredibly entertaining Sam Cassell dance over  and over on YouTube.

Of course, this year has proved that those shots really were basically flukes from Hedo, but it was fun while it lasted.

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