Thursday, May 15, 2014

Game 5 For Spurs & Heat, Or Countdown To Re-Run

Woo, I Say, Woo
Two Game Fives tonight, and two closeouts by clearly superior home teams over game by flawed oppo- nents.What Drama! As in, what, drama?

We're down to six teams left with a chance to be your NBA Champion, and with both defending conference champions getting second round wins in just five games, we're also well on our way to a repeat Finals. Which seems kind of anti-climactic, or how the last ten months has been prologue to just get us back to Games 8 though up to 14 of last year's spectacular series... but, well, it's not like it's the fault of either of these teams, especially Miami, if they don't seem too thrilled with the idea of grinding through the regular season. Frankly, when you play ball with the best player of his generation, and (shh! we're supposed to hate him still!) maybe the best player ever, I'm not sure that Remaining Awake isn't a serious problem.

In Miami, the Heat gave the Nets the usual olive branch of We're Not That Interested Hope, then flipped the switch and went to Scramble Luck Mode + Bron on Offense, and their usual Good Lord They Can Do That Defense. Other than the occasional valiant rage from Joe Johnson, the Nets didn't have the horsepower to answer, surprising, well, no one. Once Mirza Teletovic fulfilled his destiny as this year's Honorary Stojakovic -- i.e., the Euro who freezes when his team needs him most -- it was just a matter of which Heatle hit the kill shot this time.

For the Nets, Paul Pierce says he wants to play basketball again next year, because it's not like being a shell of your former self still doesn't more than pay the bills and beat the second half of your life when you aren't playing ball. Kevin Garnett can keep on playing, because it's not like anyone still knows he's in the league as is. (Seriously, KG? Out in five without even a punk flagrant or six? Have some pride and leave as the dirtbag we all remember.) And it's really hard to see how Brooklyn's goat ride to second round nowhere got them anything more than the enmity of a fan base in Canada that would have been much more excited by going boots up in their stead.

As for Miami, they look a little different than they used to, I guess. It's not as surprising now when Chris Bosh hits the wide-open three now, rather than the departed Mike Miller, or the Yes He's Still In The League Shane Battier. They haven't gotten much from anyone you haven't heard of, and this year's Nazgul (Greg Oden, Michael Beasley, Battier, Rashard Lewis) are giving them nothing, but Ray Allen keeps making plays when it matters, and it's not like the rest of the East has stepped up their game to stop them yet. If the Association did conference-blind seeding, and Miami had to get past someone like Golden State or Houston in this round, we might have learned something. This series? Not so much.

Oh, and a side note to Miami. So long as you slobs are carrying Dead Guy Ballast over the finish line, couldn't you make choices more for the historical record? Think of all of the guys we could get off the Never Won A Title BS list, and how much more fun garbage time for the Heat would be with, say, the present-day John Stockton, Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing creaking up and down the hardwood, getting every flop call ever. It's not like Miami is against the retiring, either. They'd give you the same thing as Oden, Beasley, etc., but with immensely better press conferences, and Garnett would have had someone he felt good about cheap-shotting. Such an opportunity missed here.

Leave it to San Antonio to clear a higher hurdle in the late game no one watched, as they overcame the early injury exit from Tony Parker to dispatch Portland in one above the minimum. The Spur Machine got some shockingly good plays from Kawhi Leonard -- seriously, I'm not ready for power forward-sized guys to be faster dribbling than defenders without it -- and one of those Papa Spank games from Tim Duncan that shows just how pure his game is, really.

It was nice of Parker to exit early with the hamstring, actually, in that it made the Spurs winning their fourth game of the series by more than 15 points -- borderline historic, that is -- even more impressive. And maybe this was a case of Portland just being out of gas after their fantastic series against the Rockets, or how the Spurs are just a bad matchup for them, but any team that only really looks good when Robin Lopez is a positive force is just not a real contender.

This is where Blazer Fan nods solemnly, imagines a world in which Greg Oden wasn't tragicomedy, and drinks. Heavily. While his father does the same thing, but with Sam Bowie occupying the Oden role. If it weren't for the Lone Bill Walton Stayed Healthy (and, the thing that no one else remembers, Maurice Lucas going Thug Life on the Glam Only '70s Sixers) Year, Portland would be the single greatest site for NBA Ennui on the planet. (Yes, yes, Knicks Fan, I see you waving your hands like Muppets. You still have your sainted Pearl / Clyde title, and frankly, what you did to hoop back in the Riley Era was a war crime. Away with you.)

Next up, the Pacers and Thunder try to close on the road, and give the world hope for a third round that's anything more than prologue to rematch.

Bet on rematch.

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