Where will amazing happen this year? Not in the places you may have expected.
I’m not sure what was going on cosmically, but this weekend’s NBA Playoffs was full of all sorts of crazy.
There will be no second three-peat in the City of Angels. The LA Lakers were SWEPT in the second round of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks.
Phil Jackson, who has hinted on several occasions that his coaching career would end after this season, seemed embarrassed and dare I say… relieved? Although this couldn’t be the way he wanted to go out. Rumors have it that Brian Shaw will be the next head coach. Shaw has the support of Jackson, the players (well, those who will still be around next season) and his colleagues.
There are indications that there was internal strife amongst the team (Andrew Bynum spoke candidly to the media about “trust issues”). At what point during the season this became reality is unclear, but whatever the case, it ruined the Lakers season.
The behavior displayed by Bynum and Lamar Odom during and after Sunday’s Game 4 was both unnecessary and sad, as was Ron Artest being suspended for Game 3 for roughing up Dallas’ Jose Barea. Its difficult to come to terms with your demise, but decorum has its place.
Pau Gasol, who has long been labeled “soft,” did not dig deep enough to help the team when they needed it most. For some reason, the tiger he found within last post-season was missing in action this time around. Could it be a broken heart as was explored by Jocks and Stiletto Jill? Maybe. Kobe’s wife, Vanessa Bryant is said to be behind Pau’s split with his girlfriend, although Gasol denied it. Vanessa has been accused of meddling before, so who knows?
Kobe Bryant carries some of the burden too. Where was his fierce leadership? Where was his killer instinct? Where will he go for vacation?
The Mavs were virtually drama free this weekend (even team owner Mark Cuban was peaceful), save for the abuse Jose Barea took from Andre Bynum. He could have been seriously hurt. But, he wasn’t and will be advancing to the Western Conference Finals with his teammates. Boom.
Russell Westbrook is raising eyebrows and getting the side-eye from all angles because of his streaky play. Is he suffering from star-envy? Does he want to be the hero? Maybe a little bit, but Kevin Durant is a true leader and internal distractions won’t be the reason the Thunder lose this series, IF they lose this series. They’e just inexperienced.
The only drama with the Grizzlies is that Shane Battier was stuck in an elevator Friday while trying to get to practice. The Grizz are a beautiful surprise during this year’s playoffs.
In Sunday’s Game 4 against the Atlanta Hawks, referee Bennett Salvatore made a crucial call that could have changed the outcome of the game down the stretch.
- With 2½ minutes remaining and the Hawks leading 90-84, Bulls star Derrick Rose went up for a shot beyond the 3-point stripe and appeared to be fouled by Jamal Crawford.
Salvatore blew his whistle, but ruled he had done it inadvertently. That led to a jump ball, which Atlanta’s Josh Smith tapped away from Joakim Noah. The Hawks scored on that possession to essentially finish off the Bulls.
One more thing about the Bulls. Derrick Rose can’t keep carrying this team. His teammates MUST step up. Does that mean a lineup change? Perhaps. Carlos Boozer is not the answer. Poor shooting and rebounding are also hurting the team’s chances of winning.
The Hawks took advantage of home court energy and tied the series against the Bulls, 2-2. Not much drama here. Josh Smith is steeping up as a leader and playing to his abilities. Sophomore guardJeff Teague, is playing impressively in Kurt Hinrich’s absence. He’s doing exactly what you want the next man in line to do when your team needs it most.
The drama out of Boston was more suspenseful after guard Rajon Rondo suffered a nasty elbow injury.
Rondo returned to the game, heroically playing like a one-armed bandit, after having his dislocated elbow popped back into place, wrapped and sleeved.
When is there NOT drama with the Miami Heat?
LeBron James used the term “retarded” in a post-game presser towards a female reporter, and Chris Bosh admitted that his nerves got the best of him in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics. Bosh is a man in tune with his emotions, but I think its used against him too much. He could stand to toughen up a bit, though.
The schedule for the next NBA Playoff games is as follows:
Heat at Celtics, tonight, 7 PM ET
Thunder at Grizzlies, tonight, 9:30 PM ET
Atlanta at Chicago, Tuesday, 8 PM ET