By Craig Kwasniewski
Normally I'd break out a MMPG to round of some thoughts over the past weekend but I wanted to see who'd win last night (and was I wrong!). Anyway, here are some random thoughts now that we know the match-ups heading into the Conference Finals:
Who will the Media blow now that NOLA is gone? CRASH! BAM! BANG! The CP3 Bandwagon has crashed, blood is spilled all over the place at ESPN, AOL and all other media outlets. As great as Chris Paul was this season (and he WAS awesome!), the lovefest was getting very uncomfortable. Seriously, we were a Game 7 victory from media passes that double as knee pads.
The gushing was so bad that people were praising the efforts of the Hornets GM. The guy didn't draft Paul or David West and all he did this season was trade for Bonzi Wells. Yet somehow that's worthy of a 3rd place finish in the GM of the Year award behind Ainge and Mitch Kupchak. You're telling me that RC Bufford of the Spurs (who acquired Kurt Thomas for nothing and reacquired Bones Barry in a wink-wink deal) is worse? Ummmm, who won Game 7 last night?
And let's not forget to mention who won the Coach of the Year Award. Byron Scott is making a career of riding the coattails of brilliant point guards (Magic, Kidd, Paul). All he did was benefit from a healthy team and a breakthrough season from CP3. What about Jerry Sloan or Greg Popovich? And let's not overlook what Phil Jackson did in 07-08. He coached the Lakers through the Kobe saga in October, found success with Andrew Bynum as a solid No. 2, held the Lakers together through a myriad of injuries, blended in the skills of Pau Gasol (just ask Avery and D'Antoni how difficult that is) and molded the Lakers into one of the most efficient and explosive offensive teams this season. Oh and the Lakers improved by 15 games to lead the Western Conference. But forget all of that and give Byron Scott (a coach that runs one single offensive play) the Coach of the Year Award.
But as long as the Boston Celtics are around, there's still space for the media to pile on (there's no way in hell they fall for the Spurs or Pistons, people are still reeling from 2005).
22-3 is the most overrated stat since the Rockets winning streak: That's the record of the home teams in the Conference Semifinals and a CONSTANT storyline every single damn night. Just because the Celtics, Hornets, Jazz, Magic and Cavs all blow on the road doesn't make it a storyline. You want an impressive number try 3-2 (the Pistons road record) or 3-2 (the Lakers record on the road with 1 of those loses in OT). Could that mean something? Yeah, the Celtics, Hornets, Jazz, Magic and Cavs blow on the road (I'm not making predictions after last night!).
Doc vs. Flip... need I say anything? Does the Eastern Conference Finals involve the worst coaches not named Isiah Thomas? YES! Did Flip Saunders finally find someone he can outcoach? Yes and no only because we all know he doesn't coach the Pistons, but if he did he would. Will it be fun watching both dedicated, knowledgeable and passionate fans kill themselves over poor in-game decisions? YES! Will it be fun listening to Jeff Van Gundy lose his mind during the ABC telecast? Hell yes!
Pierce gives the Celtics a 4-2 lead with that hoop. AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
The Boston Front Runners: The Boston Celtics need to dial down all their crap! Yes, it's great to see KG's raw emotion and energy transfer up and down the roster, but show a little veteran poise. I really wanted to like this team after all the summer deals. It was exciting to see championship level hoops back in Boston again. The NBA ALWAYS is better with successful teams in Boston, LA, Chicago and New York... good, good, good. I even bought a KG No. 5 tee shirt that was an instant conversation piece whenever I wore it.
And then I saw scrubs like Kendrick Perkins trying to act like Rick Mahorn, Tony Allen running constant smack despite doing NOTHING and Glen Davis (btw - check out his pic here) being Glen Davis and I found them very unlikable. Mix in KG turing into The Big A-Hole after a win over hapless Minnesota and Paul Pierce doing his primal screams after a first quarter layup and I'm suddenly pulling for the Pistons. Whatever happened to acting like you've been there? Oh yeah, they haven't! Let's go with baby steps here... win a road game and maybe you can drop in some primal whispers.
Bring on the Spurs!: And finally, I knocked the Hornets all post season, but as a Lakers season ticket holder they had me scared. You had Chris Paul running roughshod through everyone to 28 and 14 every night, a very talented David West with his mid-range game and Tyson Chandler who's a very difficult player to defend. They had the potential to stretch the Lakers to 7. Instead, the Spurs come to town with a very physical defensive-oriented team, an All-Star power forward, a their brilliant coach and an awesome point guard. Didn't the Lakers just beat that? The difference is Manu Ginobili, but the Spurs are not as deep or as young as Utah. And Horry because of his Lakers background won't have the juice in him to pull any of his crap this time. Again, after last night, I'll pass on any predictions, but I feel better about this matchup.