Unstoppable Knicks get a lot of stops

I watched the Celtics-Knicks game this morning and I expected it would be one of the best of this post-season. How wrong I was, about this game, and about this entire series. The Knicks look like a team possessed, determined to win every game, every challenge, every possession. I have never seen a road team’s bench standing and jumping around for so much of a game, like 90% of it. They are locked in, from 1 through 12.

The Celtics look simply outclassed. Their offense looks completely broken and even the staple moves from KG and Pierce aren’t working. They look like a team with no tricks left. That isn’t the most worrying thing though – the Celtics are often outclassed in playoff series. I’ve seen them overcome the “better” team at least three or four times during the KG era. It’s nothing new. But I tell you what is new… the Celtics being out-worked and out-smarted. That doesn’t normally happen to these Celtics. That doesn’t normally happen to Doc Rivers. And if Boston isn’t the hardest working, smartest thinking team on the floor, well, then they just aren’t the Celtics any more.

That is what we were watching today. The shadow of a Celtics team struggling to deal with a harsh reality. They don’t have the talent to beat this Knicks team, and now, they don’t have the belief either.

I just wrote them off, and for the first time I can remember, I’m at peace with that.

Spurs roll in LA

Holy moly was this a bad game to watch. Apart from the appreciation of some classic Tony Parker pick-me-up-off-the-ground spin moves and some retro Timmy D bank shots, this was a complete non-event. You might think looking at the stats that the Spurs just played great rather than the Lakers playing bad. I mean, shooting 61.2% from the field for an entire game – a playoff game – is kind of ridiculous right? You’d have to be shooting the lights our right?? Wrong. You forgot these are the Lakers and they play horrible, horrible defense. This might have been their worst defensive game of the season, and that is like trying to choose your favorite turd from a buffet of shit. The amount of easy, uncontested shots the Spurs got was laughable. I was literally laughing at my television.

It also reminded me of one thing – just how hopelessly dependent the Lakers really are on Kobe. Look at that box score again. Pau got his touches and had a triple double, no easy feat. Howard had 16 shots and finished with a solid 25-11-2 line. The people in the “give it to Pau and Dwight” camp couldn’t have been happier with that production, and yet the Lakers got smashed. Kobe doesn’t solve his teams defensive shortcomings, don’t get me wrong, but he generates so much at the offensive end that its almost enough to negate it. Which is incredible if you think about it. But I’m not going to waste time on hypotheticals. The Lakers are cooked. They might win Game 4, and for their sake I hope they do, because their off-season will not bode well if they get smashed at home again. A bad taste in your mouth at the end of the season is enough to make you want to take off your jersey, throw it on the ground, and then run an ESPN TV special to announce the new team you’re signing with. Just sayin.

Another contender gone?

Woke up to horrible news this morning. Russell Westbrook is having knee surgery and will be out of action for an undetermined amount of time. My guess – it’s unlikely he’ll return unless the Thunder are still playing in June, and that is assuming it’s not a serious injury. Of all the injuries that have impacted contending teams this year (and I already ranted about this when talking about the Bulls series), this has to be the most damaging. I’ve read and heard people talking about how the Thunder are still a dangerous team, and how Durant is the second best player in the league and he can carry them, and this is his time to prove it blah blah blah. Sorry, but that is bullshit. Russell Westbrook is not just the second best player on that team. On some nights, many nights in fact, he is the best player on that team. He is arguably the second best guard in the league, and unarguably a Top 10 player in the league. A guy who can score 30+ on any given night and who is a triple-double threat on every other night. Russell Westbrook is one of the most destructible forces in the league and you CAN NOT replace a guy like that.

Yes the Thunder are a very good team and are balanced enough to plug the hole and keep winning, for now, but there is now a hopeless sense of inevitability about their plight. Should they make it past the Clippers/Grizzlies (a big assumption by the way) and should they beat the Spurs in the WCFs, it is only setting them up for failure against the Miami Heat in what would be an anti-climax of epic proportions. Their ceiling has been lowered and they are now merely “great” as opposed to unstoppable. Durant and Westbrook were our one true hope of a storied Finals, a dynamic duo with the explosive talent to battle LeBron and Wade, driven by the burden of pain which no other is carrying. With the loss of Westbrook, it seems that story may never play out.

And we are all the worse for it.

« « Previous Post: Beware of the Bogut screen
» » Next Post: Bogut on your head