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May 28, 2006 – Ok, may had spoken a little too soon. Having some problems with the layout especially with IE, so please bare with us as we deal with technical difficulties. We now return you to your scheduled programming.

Steve Nash is sick

with game that is. He’s so good he even makes playing soccer with a basketball look easy.

Immensely talented, humble, approachable. A true MVP. How hard is it to idolize the guy? Not hard. Not hard at all.

Deja Vu: Last year's semifinal match, now in the West finals series

The stakes are definitely higher this time.

Okay, so it wasn’t a Suns-Spurs affair just like last year (I thought of it when the Pistons advanced to the East finals to face Miami) but this will be another great love-hate relationship (if there is any) between Phoenix and Dallas. Old buddies facing each other, a rejuvenated Mavs lineup and a tired Suns roster. Don’t get me wrong, the fatigue factor has caught up with the speedy Suns for playing 13 games in 27 days (is my calculation correct?). Who wouldn’t be tired playing on every other day with that type of offense.

Okay, so I wasn’t able to watch the Mavs and Spurs slug it out but was quite disappointed with how the Spurs lost (eight points?!) because I was expecting a down-the-wire game and the margin would only be a point or two. Regardless, the Mavs advanced and Mark Cuban has another team to bash with his words.

The real deal? Dallas and Phoenix facing each other with the Suns winning in last year’s semifinal affair against the Mavs, 4-2, with MVP Nash’s memorable three-pointer to send the game to an extra period and put the score tied at 113. After that shot, “Irk with no D” Nowitzki lashed out Jason Terry for making poor decision and not foul Nash on the play. Then in OT, the Suns burned Dallas with their usual run-and-gun game and advanced to the West finals to face San Antonio, which did not happen this year.

Some thoughts before tipoff: Dallas has NEVER been in the NBA finals while Phoenix has been there twice, one facing the John Havlicek-led Boston Celtics in 1977, where the Suns, led by Gar Heard (oh, his shot that sent the game to an extra third period is quite memorable), lost in three overtime periods in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. The other finals appearance by Phoenix was in 1993 against Chicago. In Game 6, Phoenix squandered a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter that led to an eventual “The Shot III” courtesy of John Paxson.

Continue reading “Deja Vu: Last year's semifinal match, now in the West finals series”

Who would've thunked?

The Mavs and Suns win – and seven people out of sixteen (including myself), who voted for the Spurs are DEAD WRONG! Here’s the tally as of today, May 23, 2006:

Spurs 7.04
Mavs 4.96
Suns 3.04
Clipps 0.96
total = 16

As for the East, most everyone (including me thankfully) got it right:

Pistons 7.05
Heat 4.95
Cavs 1.95
Nets 1.05
total = 15

look to your right to check out the new poll! Obviously it’s Mavs vs. Suns and Pistons vs. Heat. So what are you waiting for? Rise to the challenge! Reach deep inside! Think long and hard!

Choose!

Click!

(Then tell us why below!)

Game Sevens: What a way to end the semis

The stats from games one to six doesn’t matter. The performances of the players don’t matter. The fatigue that caught up with the players during the game and the travel, it doesn’t matter. Why? It all boils down to Game Seven.

Come to think of it, for the first time in probably a long time, three semifinal series have gone down to a winner-take-all game that sends all teams to the next level, the Conference Finals. Now this is where the “May Madness” really heats up.

Nevermind the outstanding circus show the Nets and the Heat put up for the fans because Miami is in a brief vacation waiting for the winner in the Detroit-Cleveland semifinal series. A repeat showdown with Detroit will be something, now that the Heat have a rejuvenated and much improved lineup, on paper.

You think that Detroit will fold in six games? They’re not the defending East champs for nothing. Now, I wasn’t able to see much of the game earlier (in fact, I only saw a couple of highlights and the last free throws of Chauncey Billups, but with the way the game ended, it seemed like it was close from start to finish. Probably a seesaw battle. The thing is, Detroit got the rhythm, but not much of it. They lack the offensive firepower they really need in this series that helped them scoring by more than a hundred half of the the regular season games. Their defense is not that rough like last year’s Detroit rough-and-tough Larry Brown trademark D. True enough is they falter whenever they start to love the offensive mindset and forget about the excellence that brought them to the top of the NBA, their defense.

Continue reading “Game Sevens: What a way to end the semis”

The Great Tim Duncan

I overheard Bill Walton refer to Duncan as “The Great”, and that got me a-thinking.

Right now, there’re only a few hours before the start of the pivotal 6th game between Dallas and San Antonio, with Dallas leading 3 to 2. I should be talking about that game, or at least the game previous, and maybe I should, but I can’t help talking about that moment when Walton made me wonder if Duncan is really – great.

But first, my notes for Game 5:

Two days ago at San Antonio, the Spurs started with a 3 guard lineup, putting Ginobili substitute Michael Finley in place of the usual Bruce Bowen at the number three spot, possibly in answer to the Mavericks starting with the electric Devin Harris.

I’m so impressed with coaches Avery Johnson and Greg Popovich with their almost instantaneous reactions whenever they find anything to exploit against each other. Since the Spurs started small to contain Harris, there were Marquis Daniel sightings and every so often a Mav slices in for dunks, brave enough to do so since there always seemed to be a hole in the middle and Duncan due to defensive chores would be a step late.

Then of course, as if it wasn’t hard enough, whoever was guarding Dirk Nowtizki always seemed at least two feet smaller than him, and just how he makes those incredible mid range jumpshots fading away is just lost on me.

Popovich in the meantime, took advantage of the two times the Mavs went on a 1-2-2 zone, and at one point Finley came in for a highlight reel, complete-with-muscle-flexing slam over the hapless Erick Dampier, which is usually the best way to attack a zone since none of the defenders would commit to defending anyone in particular – a virtual green light for slashers like Finley.

Speaking of Dampier, this is the part where we talk about Duncan, because Dampier, along with a DeSagana Diop, and even Didier Ilunga-Mbenga and (gasp!) Keith Van Horn formed the rotation that’s devoted to the Tim Duncan fans club, whose main function it is to look silly trying to defend him as photographers take poster shot after poster shot.

Duncan is just unbelievable, with 36 points and 12 rebounds in 44 minutes of play, many times looking like he, along with Parker (27 points), are the only ones producing while the Spurs middle lineup of Ginobili, Barry, Finley and Bowen take turns trying to figure things out.

But is he great?

Continue reading “The Great Tim Duncan”

Stay cool at the stripe with the Knight Rider

Dirk Nowitzki makes no bones about his successful freethrow shooting technique. When under pressure, as in Game 3 against San Antonio with 7.9 seconds left, or Game 4 to force overtime with 8.5 left, he shot heart stopping charities in the first to tie and win, and in the second to force overtime.

So in an interview, he admits his secret:

Smiling wide and laughing loud, he said the song was David Hasselhoff’s “Looking For Freedom,” a big hit when he was a kid in Germany.

And so without further delay:

I’ll tell you a secret of my own. I’ve been dying to put up a David Hasselhoff video, and now Dirk’s my hero for giving me the chance.

Now all we need is Tim Duncan admitting his secret is Chuck Norris interpretation of “Stairway to Heaven” (and since he’s Chuck Norris, of course it’s good, or he’ll roundhouse kick you to the moon), or The Captain Patrimonio humming the opening tunes of Rico J’s “The Way We Were” as he lines up at the stripe. You know, the one that goes:

“..Scattered pictures, of the smiles we left behind..”

Accck. Must.fight.lss.

And so it's come to pass.

This morning May 18, 2006, the following transpired:

The Detroit Pistons are on the brink of elimination. (86-84)

and

The San Antonio Spurs forge Game 6. (98-97)

The scores are indicative of the intensity as to how this came to fruition. And I have fodder for two blogposts!

First, the Cavs.

Cleveland won by playing with terrific poise. With their two 7 footers Ilgauskas and Varejao fouled out on the bench, coach Mike Brown fields in Drew Gooden, and you can almost hear him groan with reluctance.

This turned out to be the clincher though, when deep into the fourth, LeBron found Gooden underneath, and he somehow found a way to will the ball into the hoop for a fist pounding 2 that arguably turned the tide their way.

Later on, with the score tied and Chauncey and Rasheed on the bench with 6 fouls, Lindsey Hunter misses a jumper after a blocked attempt by Prince. With 1.9 left, Hamilton then muffs an inbound, and the time ticks away while he watches the ball bounce out of bounds.

We are left with the image of Wallace pinchhitter Antonio McDyess, who played a pretty good game actually, sitting dumbfounded on the bench for what I read was a full five minutes.

The images of the game are still clear in my head so i better write them down:

Continue reading “And so it's come to pass.”

Bizarre Playoffs, Indeed

Cavs 2, Pistons 2. Mavs 3, Spurs 1. And to some extent, Clipps 2, Suns 2. Heck, some might even argue that Heat 3, Nets 1 seems a li’l out of the ordinary.

But it’s not too bizarre once it dawns upon you that underdogs don’t play just to get their arses kicked, and that more bizarre things have happened in the league before. Oh, when can we quit saying that cliche line over and over again?

The Cavaliers have unexpectedly tied their series with the now-rusty Pistons at two games apiece, with no small thanks to King James. The Cavs gave the bad boys a taste of their own medicine — nasty defense. The Pistons were scoreless in the final 3:22 of Game 4.

Well, the Pistons are not yet in a precarious situation, especially when one looks to the West and sees the embattled Spurs squad. The defending champs’ campaign to retain the title really suffered a major setback in their overtime loss in Dallas. If the Spurs go out, it’s anybody’s game in the West. Yes, anybody. And should the Pistons go out, too (highly unlikely though), then Miami, the Mavs, and the Suns have an excellent chance to grab the title. I really believe the Cavs and Clippers ain’t ready for the last dance. Yet.

French decide they've too many good players

You know the French have always defied explanation. From politics, and now apparently, to sports, they do and make decisions that are just… weird.

Take for example, this from the latest FIBA news:

FRA – France to travel to Japan without Noah

PARIS (FIBA World Championship) – American college basketball star Joakim Noah has yet to obtain French nationality and will not play for Les Bleus at this summer’s FIBA World Championship.

The New York-born ace, who led the Florida Gators to the NCAA title this year, is the 21-year-old son of former French tennis open winner Yannick Noah and can claim French citizenship through his father. However, this process has not yet been completed.

“There are two reasons for his non-selection,” said France’s technical director Jean-Pierre de Vincenzi in L’Equipe. “First of all, he is still not French which is a problem if he wants to play with the national team or the Under-21 side.

“Even if he managed to get his nationality, he would not be available because he has to follow a special programme with his university and take exams which he did not have time to do before because of his adventure in the NCAA Tournament.”

The rest of the story here.

I included the picture of him, probably grimacing after a missed shot, or roaring in happiness from a victory. But it might as well be annoyance at his father’s native France for bone head sports officials.

I mean the guy is a champion NCAA basketball player, the son of a legendary French tennis champion. He is eligible, and he wants to play for your team. So what do you do? Throw nonsensical bureacratic red tape at him, that’s what you do! Show some love, why dontcha?

Sigh. At least, this proves the Philippines doesn’t have a monopoly on self important sports officials. Vive le difference!