Throwin' 'Bows: The Playoffs
Nets/Pistons. The Nets are a well-built team. Rod Thorn identified a strength
in Jason Kidd's speed and transition game, and he built around it. Four of their
five starters are among the fastest in the NBA at their positions. When the opposition
is playing carelessly, the Nets are just punishing. Fortunately for them, the
Pistons have been perfectly accommodating in New Jersey, playing two dumb and
lazy games, and the Nets have pounded them to even the series.
Sometime early in Game 4, Chauncey Billups decided to revert back to the old Chauncey
Billups, before Larry Brown turned him into a true point guard. Joe Dumars could've
given them better minutes at the point. I don't know if it's because his back
was hurting or what, but he was taking bad shots like it was his job. It was like
he asked Jason Kidd on the way up the floor what he wanted him to do. "Chauncey,
would you mind bricking an 18-footer with about 15 seconds left on the shot clock?"
"No problem, J." Clank.
Rasheed takes too many outside shots, too. Long shots yield long rebounds. Long
rebounds lead to the Nets getting to the other goal in about 1.2 seconds. The
Pistons are a halfcourt team and need a scorer down on the block. Give Kenyon
Martin a lot of credit for being aggressive and fronting Rasheed in the post,
but Rasheed's got to work harder to get position. Stepping out for the occasional
three-ball is fine, but his primary spot should be under the basket. If his foot
is keeping him from doing that and limiting him on the defensive end, the Pistons
are better off with Mehmet Okur in the game.
For the Pistons, the best defense against the Nets is a good offense. Do not turn
the ball over, do not let them run. Once they start getting easy baskets, their
confidence builds, they turn their games up in every other area, and they become
very difficult to beat. The outcome of this series will be determined by how smart
the Pistons play. Time to earn that paycheck, Larry Brown.
Kings/Wolves: These games baffle me. Entertaining basketball? Sure. Two championship
caliber teams going head-to-head and playing close games? Slow down. Both teams
have had a game where they've played solid, built a lead, and then decided they
felt bad for beating the other team, so they let them come back. I'm sure their
kindergarten teachers would give them all A's for sharing, but I don't think that's
how championship teams roll. As I've watched both of the comeback games, it's
felt more like two colossal meltdowns than an instance of a team with a championship
will to win coming back and making a game out of it.
What's going to be interesting to watch from here on out is what the Wolves do
at the end of games when a bucket is needed. I've never thought of Kevin Garnett
as an elite clutch player. After Game 2, I was pretty confident that he wasn't.
After Game 3, maybe, but it's going to take a lot more convincing. Yes, he hit
a jumper from the free-thrown line to seal the win in overtime. But only after
he was unable to even get a shot off against Brad Miller 1-on-1 at the end of
The W is the important thing, and he did enough to get it, so credit KG for that.
But if I'm Flip Saunders, my first option in a clutch situation is Sam Cassell,
no question. If he's not around, then I don't like my chances. Sam has proved
that he's qualified to take and bury clutch shots, and then run down to the other
end of the court showing off his glands. I'm not sure Kevin Garnett is qualified
to do the same.
Lakers/Spurs. A complete team effort in Game 3. Kobe Kobe Kobe in Game 4. And
now Derek Fisher at the buzzer for the win in Game 5. So much for my prediction
of a sweep.
Kobe is amazing. I don't think there's a person alive that can relate to what
he's doing. Plead not guilty to rape in the morning, drop 42 against one of the
NBA's best defenses a few hours later. When the Lakers play team basketball, that's
one thing. It makes them a very good team, but I still think the Spurs can beat
them. When Kobe goes into unstoppable mode, however... the Lakers aren't getting
Here's my theory about why Kobe always seems to excel after a court date. When
a guy is in the zone, his mind is just slightly off the task at hand. He's not
thinking too much about it, and his actions are unconscious. He's not thinking,
he's reacting, and what happens is perfect. Let's get a quote from the expert,
Ebby Calvin 'Nuke' LaLoosh, who wore a garter belt when he was pitching for the
Durham Bulls. "Annie says I should wear this to keep one side of my brain occupied
while I'm on the mound, thus keeping my brain slightly off center, which is where
it should be for artists and pitchers."
Exactly. And when Kobe performs like he did in Game 4, it is artistry. His mind
being off center is why he can drop 42 on the Spurs, why Nuke can strike guys
out, and why MJ could drop 38 against the Jazz when he had the flu.
Heat/Pacers. Watching the Heat play at home is pure joy. It's a group of young
guys with big hearts and big other things that don't know they aren't supposed
to win. They fear nothing. They play hard, and they play smart. Dwayne Wade is
already a better decision-maker at the point than either Steve Francis or Baron
Davis, and I can't name 5 guys in the NBA who I'd rather give the ball to with
10 seconds on the clock, down by a point.
Has home court advantage ever meant as much to anyone as it does to the Heat?
When that crowd gets hype, the Heat perform with a confidence that even most veteran
teams aren't familiar with. Dwayne Wade not only has an unbelievable set of skills,
he also wants the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. He's going to
be a superstar and an elite clutch player. When's the last time a rookie averaged
20, 5, and 5 in a playoff series? Just amazing.
While I've got a lot of respect for the Heat, the Pacers are just too good, too
steady, too complete. The Heat may win all three of their games at home, but unfortunately
for them, they don't have home court advantage, and the Pacers aren't the Hornets.
While we're on the subject, these could be two of the best teams in the league
in a few years. If Miami can keep Wade, Butler, and Odom around, and add some
quality role players, they should eventually be contending for NBA titles. The
Pacers have two young studs in Al Harrington and Jonathan Bender, and Ron Artest
and Jermaine O'Neal still have a lot of years ahead of them when they'll be in
Nice call on Jim O'Brien, but what rock have you been hding under? He's the
new coach for the Sixers. Love the 'Bows though, keep up the good work. - Richard,
Oh, you thought I meant Jim O'Brien, former coach of the Celtics? Ha. I was talking
about Jim O'Brien, current head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. I've felt very
strongly for a while now that he was ready to make the jump to the NBA. He won
the 1999 Clair Bee Coach of the Year award. He was also Atlantic 10 Co-Coach of
the Year in 1983 with St. Bonaventure, and... ah, who am I kidding. Ya got me.
Sometimes things slip. Someday, when I have a proofreader and a paycheck, these
things won't be happening. When the Sixers made the hire, I had commented on it
at my own website, and a few days later when I did The 'Bows, that information
seemed to have left my mind. It will surprise none of you to know that am a moron.
Perhaps I should start doing this sober. But thanks to you and the other 82,927
of you who pointed out my error.
In your last column, you kept mentioning how Malone hasn't "won anything" and
how the Sacramento Kings "haven't won anything" and consider themselves one of
the league's elite teams but "haven't proven it by winning a championship." This
championship that you're talking about must not be the same one that I'm thinking
about because, last I knew, there was only one winner at the end of the game,
HOWEVER there has always been more than one ELITE team in the league. The Kings
may be elite, but someone else may be more elite. Malone is the best ever at his
position, but does that mean that he MUST win a title? His game, his stats, his
wins speak for themself (I am not a fan of his either, but there's no denying
it). People place way too much of an emphasis on winning the title. In the case
of someone like Karl Malone or the theoretical argument of Kobe without Shaq,
there is way too much importance being put onto this one person. Basketball is
a team sport, individual players can't win a championship. As for the Kings, they
are a team in every sense of the word (until the defensive end) and they haven't
won a title, but that is because there are other, more elite teams out there.
It is NOT because they are not elite. That is a load of bull and you know it.
Every preseason poll and power ranking has had them in the top 10, week in, week
out. There is no denying their greatness, you can just place the blame with the
Lakers and Spurs being that much better. - Kyle, New York
I agree about individual players, I don't agree about teams. I shouldn't have
said Malone hasn't won anything. That was a silly emotional response to a question
whose author I thought was a tool. In general, I agree with you. Charles Barkley's
career is not less notable because he didn't win a championship, and if it goes
down the same way for Karl Malone, no one should hold it against him.
Teams, however, I don't think can be great until they win a championship. The
Kings can't just look at the Lakers and Spurs and say, "Oh, it's too bad we came
along at the same time those teams did." For a couple of reasons.
If the Kings were mentally tougher, they'd have beaten the Lakers in a 7-game
series. They certainly had their chances. Winning a championship requires talent
and mental toughness. One without the other is worthless, and the Kings haven't
been able to put the two together the same way the Spurs and Lakers have. If they
could, they'd have a championship, and they could be called a great team.
The other reason is that I don't think the Spurs or Lakers of the past five years
are among the NBA's all-time great teams. I don't think either of them could hang
with Magic's Lakers, Larry's Celtics, Isiah's Pistons, or Michael's Bulls. Being
a close second to those teams is one thing. Being a close second to the last five
championship teams is quite another.
Hey man, I got 3 parts to my question. First of all I was wondering what you
think of Julius Erving maybe becoming the Raptors GM. Secondly, Do you think Carter
would be motivated to play as hard as he can. And do you believe that Vinsanity
has really slacked off ever since signing that big contract. p.s - Will the Raps
make playoffs next year. - Jordan, Toronto
That's four questions. And not a question mark in sight. But that's alright, we
don't discriminate against people with poor grammar skills here at Throwin' Bows.
1) It appears to me that all the talk about Dr. J becoming of the Raptors has
been started by Dr. J. himself. I have no idea how serious Toronto's interest
is in the Dr. I also have no idea how he'd fare at the job. Good players don't
always make good front office types. 2) I doubt it, he never has been before.
But it's possible. 3) I don't know if it has anything to do with his contract,
but there's no doubt in my mind that Vince Carter is way more talented than he
is effective. He may just be one of those guys without a huge burning desire to
dominate. It happens. 4) If they add a big man and hire a great coach, yes. If
they don't do either of those, or only do one, no.
Who would be your starting five composed purely of today's overrated players?
Gary Payton would be my first choice at point. - P. Ang, Manila
PG - Steve Francis. SG - Tracy McGrady. SF - Latrell Sprewell. PF - Antoine Walker.
C - Zydrunas Ilgauskus. Your thoughts, anyone?
If the Spurs get past the Lakers, who, in your opinion, among the playoff teams
left can beat them? I think LA's the last major hurdle for them; I just don't
see Minny or the Queens beating 'em in a 7 game series, and you can forget about
the East. - Gino C., Cebu, Phils.
If they do get past the Lakers, and that's a big if at this point, I agree
that neither Minnesota or Sacramento could beat them. But I wouldn't say we can
forget about the East just yet. I think the East has closed the gap significantly
this year. I'll predict right now that the championship series goes six games.
MJD, just what is a "mad-fly crossover?" Some Canadian slang for a hockey move
maybe? Talk about overstepping your boundaries. But fortunately Dave's comments
are in line with what's on my mind. To start, I would like to clarify that I actually
do know how the game should be played. I also hate 'Sauce' and the 'And 1 Tour'
just as much as I hate K Malone. Never said he couldn't play, just that I hate
him. And now I don't even respect him or GP. Can we please stop praising these
guys for their so called unselfish act. Joining some real winners to 'coat-tail'
your way to a ring is very selfish and most of all, weak and punk-like. A respectable
gamer would have sacrificed less loot to save his own team cap space to get better
and busted his butt to win with his own team. After watching LA-SA game 1, it's
clear that LA will learn that adding busters with HOF numbers and nothing to show
for them rarely works. By the way, doesn't that extremely talented and fundamental
ball player on San Antonio wearing jersey 21 with 2 titles already play power
forward? - Youngin', The D
Indeed he does. I don't have a response, but I thought I should allow you
Whats on my mind is why the Laker fans boo Luke Walton whenever he gets hold
of the ball? Doesn't anyone notice that? It's been going on for a long time and
it really annoys me. What's it all about? - Dobby, Philippines
Not a lot of people outside of L.A. heard about it, but Luke Walton was caught
building an elaborate video system that secretly taped the Lakers girls in their
locker room. He then sold the tapes over the Internet, made billions, and used
the money to fund a black-market baby-selling ring outside of Tijuana.
No, I made that up. They're not booing, they're saying, "Luuuuuke." They like
him, I promise.
Question, comment, problem, tirade, hate mail, love note? Send
it along here.
M.J. Darnell runs www.themightymjd.com.