March Madness eat your heart out! One weekend down and there were several upsets, a few stinkers and a couple expected results. As much as I love the whole one and done March Madness thing, you don't get the physical play, the adjustments and strategy that a 7-game series offers. Here are a few thoughts with one game down in each series:
Boston vs. Chicago - Is there room on the Derrick Rose bandwagon? The Bulls were the one team I regret not seeing in person this year. Anyone with an eye for hoops can appreciate the full range this rookie brings to the Bulls but what I didn't notice until Saturday is Rose's quick and explosive LAST step. Most players have that quick first step to blow by defenders but Rose explodes right at the rim at his last step. Also, his extremely calm nature works well with the youthful Bulls. Game 1 against the defending champs and he has the heart rate of a librarian and it's contagious as the Bulls weren't phased at all. I still think Boston wins, but the Bulls should make Rose the GM, coach and owner and build around him for the next 12 years.
Cleveland vs. Detroit - Are we done yet? Are we done yet? Are we done yet? SWEEP!
San Antonio vs. Dallas - One quarter in, Duncan had springy legs and looked very 2007, I was on the brink of writing a "Mavs should have kept Maquis Daniels instead of Josh Howard" piece and Nowitzki was in foul trouble... basically it didn't look good for Dallas. I left home, went out thinking the Spurs would win easily and I caught the last few seconds at a bar as Dallas... PULLED AWAY FOR A W??? What the hell happened? Suddenly Dallas looks like a very legit Western Conference finalist and San Antonio looks old.
Portland vs. Houston - This really looks like a match-up problem for Portland more than anything else. Maybe their inexperience cost them a W as they didn't have that fifth gear or maybe they're just happy to be there. All I know is Yao played the best playoff game of his life and showed EVERYONE that the problem was always T-MAC.
Los Angeles vs. Utah - No Okur, no chance for Utah... it's just that simple. But the real story is the referees killing the entire second half of the game. It's no surprise that Joey Crawford was the lead ref in the worst called game of the weekend. Does the NBA pay him by the fouls? Does he really think the fans pay to see him ref? Is he out to single-handedly ruin professional hoops? There were SIXTEEN fouls in the 3rd quarter alone and a free-flowing game became a possession-by-possession freethrow festival. Terrible!
Orlando vs. Philadelphia - I've said this all year, Orlando doesn't have the go to guy necessary to make a deep run in the playoffs. C-Webb pretty much blew a gasket ripping on the Magic not riding Dwight Howard all game. But does Superman really want to be "that guy" with the Magic or is he content with monster numbers, monster dunks and showmanship? NBA Champions all have the definitive alpha dog and an understood chain of command. The Celtics heart lies with KG but crunchtime went Pierce first and Sugar Ray second. The early 00's Lakers had Shaq for 3 1/2 quarters with Kobe as the closer... what about Orlando?
Atlanta vs. Miami - The Hawks put together a Special Edition Double-DVD set of highlights on the Heat on Sunday. Instead of 2006 Kobe and the Lakers with their near upset of the #2 seeded Phoenix Suns, the Heat resembled the 2007 edition and the very one-sided 4-1 loss to Phoenix. But we'll see what kind of road playoff team Atlanta is in games 3 & 4.
Denver vs. New Orleans - Denver put together a sick 21-0 run late in the 3rd early in the 4th to put away what was a close and very physical game. Chauncey Billups went retro looking like a 2005 version going 8 of 9 from three on his way to 36 points. NOLA basically gave up at the end of the 3rd quarter so this blowout doesn't really mean the Nuggets will sweep. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if NOLA steals game 2. This really feels like a very bitter and very physical seven game series.