Monday, May 21, 2007

Catching Up Around The League

Obviously, it’s a slow time in the NBA for Blazer fans.  And as if it weren’t enough that our team was not among the 16 out of 30 who qualified for the post-season, the four most-fun teams to watch...Phoenix, Golden State, Dallas, and Denver, have all been eliminated and we’re left with the boring Spurs, the smashmouth Pistons, the Jazz (whom I think we all still hate thanks to the Malone-Stockton years, or maybe I’m just a bitter bastard) and the “we’re here because there has to be a fourth team” Cavaliers.  

I guess it will be fun to see how LeBron does in the conference finals; or at least, it would be, if they weren’t playing Detroit which makes it nearly impossible to watch.  And the thing is, it’s not like Cleveland is a fightin’ underdog who overachieved to ge here; I think it’s fair to say that the #2 seed Chicago gift-wrapped for them on the last day of the regular season essentially put Cleveland where they are.  Not to take anything away from them...but I’m taking any sense of accomplishment away from them.  I think the over/under on Cleveland in this series is 5.5 games.  Anything more than 5 and they’re probably doing better than expected; 5 or less and it’s shrug-your-shoulders and move on.

But enough about the Eastern Conference, for crying out loud.  Let’s talk about a few things to keep our interest through the remaining playoffs.  The howitzer’s loaded up and the bullets are flying.
  • If you’d have told me that neither of Phoenix or Dallas would make it to the conference finals, well then I’d have told you to ‘suck it’.  All season long we assumed that the Western finals would be a colossal battle between Phoenix and Dallas, the two most talented teams in the NBA.  But along came the Warriors – a perfectly bad matchup for Dallas – and the Spurs, with their thuggish cheating ways, to spoil the party.  And the net-net of all this is the Jazz get an easy road to the conference finals and the Spurs likely kick, elbow, beat, and cheat their way to another title. Last year’s tournament was the most exciting playoffs ever; and this year’s has been disappointing.  Except for Warrior fans.  And even then, the way Golden State folded in the second round was disheartening.
  • The Memphis Grizzlies are in the process of discussing their head coach position with Suns assistant Marc Iavaroni, whom you may recall I advocated Portland give their job to two years ago.  And if they do hire Iavaroni...pairing him up with their young nucleus plus a likely top-two in this year’s draft...look out.  We could be in for some fantastic Portland-Memphis western finals in a few years’ time.  
  • In case you’re wondering, Portland has a 5.3% chance to win the lottery tomorrow night.  Anything in the top-2 would be an absolute coup for the Blazers, so keep your fingers crossed.
  • Finally, a reading recommendation.  Paul Shirley is back at it with, and I maintain he’s the most entertaining basketball writer on the planet.  You can find his most recent article here ( , and he’s recently released a book as well.  It’s sitting on my desk and I’ll keep you posted on whether the hardback lives up to the pixilated screen deliciousness.

Enjoy the week, folks.

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