Huge Sigh of Belief

So, wait a minute. The Lakers aren’t dead?

This is confusing, I may need a minute to collect myself. What has been the point of the last couple days where everyone critiqued the Lakers for age and sloth? It appears that the defending champions might actually know how to win playoff basketball games.

Will they win in OKC? With that crowd and a Thunder team that needs a win? Maybe. Maybe Phil has realized the formula for the Thunder, which is stop Westbrook and Durant and give Pau the ball. Real innovative stuff, but not easy to come by. Kobe playing defense? What? Its not like he was considered the best two way basketball player since MJ. Sure, he is older and his explosion has minimized to “just enough”, but this is still Kobe.

His finger, his back, his ankle, his knee, those are seriously debilitating. Things that keep normal players from playing at all, but we expect Kobe to still dominate the game, and sometimes he can still deliver. Its incredible.

Also, the Mavericks get to go back to San Antonio after barring any obese women from getting into Shawn Marion’s line of sight. Caron played like the player the Mavs hoped they were getting when they stole him from the Wizards who were dumping players like they were captains of a hot air balloon that was sinking fast.

Come on, did you think Dallas was going out like that? Okay, maybe not unreasonable but they have a lot of talent to be taken out in 5. Thats all.

Oh, and Cleveland knocked the Bulls into the offseason (which could be exciting for Chicago fans). However, pyrrhic victory keeps coming to mind. Numbness? You have a feeling sometimes like your elbow was hit in the funnybone? That makes Cleveland fans cry, not chuckle.

I don’t think the Champ has been able to breathe after seeing LeBron wince in pain while taking the free throw left handed. Seriously, the Cavs were and are going to struggle with at least the Magic if not the Celtics as well when LeBron is 100% LeBron.

If he can’t go the Cavs don’t have the firepower to blow through these series. The elbow, if I’m not mistaken, is sort of integral to the whole shot process. This seems like its kinda a big deal. Maybe this is an irrational overreaction, or maybe this is serious to the Cavaliers’ chances.

Other noteworthy things about this game: Antawn Jamison played, perhaps for the first time with the Cavaliers, like Antawn Jamison can actually play. I know he has had good games, but he hasn’t carried the Cavaliers when it mattered like he did in the first half last night.

Mo Williams and Anthony Parker also refused to show up again for the first round, leaving the hero, Brother Red, to save the backcourt from humiliation and send the Bulls into elimination. Delonte tried to guard Derrick Rose, as if its possible when he isn’t hobbled by injury. He also was 6 of 11 from the field including 2 of 5 from deep. He had a clutch 3-pointer late in the game, but what else is to be expected from West?

And the refs weren’t kind to Bulls big men down the stretch. What exactly did Brad Miller or Joakim Noah do to Shaq last night that warranted that many calls? If they can’t use the little leverage they have against Shaq then they might as well let him have an open lane to the basket. Especially in the playoffs, those calls can’t be made. They can’t be pushing him much harder than he is pushing them.

Oh, and Dwyane Wade might have played his last game in a Heat uniform, or maybe he didn’t. Regardless, the Celtics haven’t looked great, but they have looked, in spots, dangerous.

They aren’t the same Celtics team that won the championship or even midway through last season, but that doesn’t mean they can’t win. This is a group of proven, veteran winners who know how to play playoff basketball. If Ray Allen lights it up, as he is known to do, and KG doesn’t pop anymore role players in the grill, then there is no reason the C’s can’t at least push Cleveland to 6 or 7, especially if LeBron’s elbow decides not to cooperate.

Rondo is making a push for best point guard in the Eastern Conference along with Rose, and Nelson. Perkins may be difficult to look at for periods of time, but his defense can also shut down opponents. Pierce has discovered the outside game he really could have used when he could still elevate. And Garnett, well, Garnett is angry.

He can’t play like he used to but he still talks like he hasn’t won anything yet. Oh, and Tony Allen is an asset, hard to believe but its true. Michael Finley, Marquis Daniels, Nate Robinson, and Glen Davis are all liable to come off the bench and actually do something valuable. That last sentence hurt, I still can’t forgive Glen for trying to foul Jennings. Still, this series starting on Saturday is not what we all thought it would be only a few weeks ago. Boston isn’t going down easily, at least not without throwing some elbows first.

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