10 things about the playoffs so far, by Gant.
1) Yelling At Electronics
Have you gotten mad at your television set recently? Have you raised your voice to it? Swore at it? Shut it off and left the room only to return moments later to turn it back on and yell at it again?
Did you momentarily (or even permanently) lose your faith in this team's ability to win?
Are you hoarse? Furious? Relieved? Confused? Do you love/hate/love/hate/love what's going on? Did the coach do a great job, then a horrible job, then a great job?
Are you having fun?
Welcome to playoff basketball. It's only the first round.
2) Alphabet Plan
Theoretically this is the optimal way things should go:
A) Atlanta loses to
B) Boston. Who then beats
C) Cleveland and
D) Detroit. Making the Celtics
E) East champions, and taking them to the
F) Finals, which of course they also win.
G) Good, huh?
3) V Is For
Taking a momentary detour: did you know the Hawks Salim Stoudamire is a vegetarian? True.
As it turns out, it's not only for slender bench riding guards. All time NBA first team toughguy Maurice Lucas was also a vegetarian. (His teammate big Bill Walton was another.) For those too young to remember the champion Blazers of the late 70's, Mr. Lucas was a very scary man.
The following is from Henry Abbot's Truehoop blog on ESPN.com:
"Red Hot and Rollin', that book about the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers, has gotten a lot of play on ESPN.com -- and deservedly so. But there's one great little detail that I just have to add to the mix. It comes from a conversation the book's editor, Matt Love, had with Maurice Lucas: Lucas: I was a vegetarian for my whole career in professional basketball. ... I read a couple really nice books on proper nutrition, eating the proper things, meditation. I was doing a lot of transcendental meditation, and so with that and the food, it all came together and worked. Of course, my mom thought I was crazy, that I had lost my mind.
Love: What did the other guys in the league think about your vegetarianism? That is unheard of today.
Lucas: Well, when I beat them all up they wouldn't say jack."
4) Playoff Realignment?
Remember the good old days when the western part of the United States was filled with rugged self-reliant types like mountain men and range riders? No more. Now whining is the favorite past-tme of the formerly great West.
Golden State had a better record than Atlanta. Boo freakin' hoo. In the words of the great Julie London, "Cry me a river."
There cannot be a playoff realignment that breaks up the regional conference apparatus and replaces it with a national 1-16 system.
Why? WHY? You want to know why? I'll tell you why: Let's say hypothetically that New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, and Portland are all in the playoffs. In the first round Portland plays New Jersey, and New York plays Philly. Both series go seven games. New Jersey and New York both win and meet in the second round...
You want unfair? That's unfair. The Knicks are rested because their travel time between cities was meaningless, while the Nets had to fly cross-country at least four times and are completely exhausted.
My solution: Keep the current system and deport all whiners west of the MIssissippi to Los Angeles. They weren't exactly bringing this issue up in the 80's when it worked in their favor, were they?
5) Who Shot the Clock?
Back to the Hawks: Did you become despondent after game three when Atlanta gutted out a win? It's ok. The end result of the series will be the same. Now the gutty Hawks can go home and have a happy restful summer.
You know who else could use some rest? The Atlanta technical staff.
6) Here's What Caused The Problems
The Hawks played with surprising poise and fury, but the cause of the two road losses was that the Celtics lapsed on D. What got them 66 wins and the best record in basketball was their smothering defense. In games 3 and 4 they forgot it. Yes the offense sputtered, but offense always comes and goes. The defense was shockingly bad for the two road games. That in turn was the cause of the spotty offense.
7) Is it Over?
I mean the road maladies and shoddy D. Yes. Of course. At least I believe so. I think they'll come out and win game 6.
...but you never know.
8) How To React If Game 6 Unfolds Like Games 3 and 4
Start by gesturing at your television set. You may sputter something incoherent at first. Next form those indecipherable sounds into real words. Finally, yell very loudly at your television set just like in the other two road games. It will help. You'll feel better and your TV won't care.
Also if recordings of all of us yelling at our TVs could be put together I think it would make a great DVD. Think of it: Hundreds of people one after another, yelling at the refs, the coach, the players, the other players, the scorekeeper, David Stern, the TNT announcers, etc. We could call it Green Rage. It would gross dozens of dollars.
9) Or Else
The Celtics could just go back to winning. Then we could just make believe none of this ever happened. If the Celtics win game 6, I think we should all agree never to speak of this series again.
10) In Closing
My fellow greenhearts, I hope Friday night is a serene and celebratory evening for all of us. I hope you sleep restfully and wake up happy Saturday morning thinking of round 2 match ups.