Calm before the storm/Storm of my own making
I think I speak for most of us when I say that, with one of the most fraught playoffs in recent memory flush on the horizon (and all the time obligation that brings), it's hard to care much about these waning days of the regular season. I tried to watch the Nuggets/Suns last night, and was rewarded with Phoenix proving once again that they defy all basketball logic. Absolutely killed a Denver team whose stacked frontline should have at least cause some problems for the undersized Suns. They didn't; the final score didn't come close to communicating what a one-sided rout this was. The Suns have proven that they can beat just about anyone, no matter what the match-up problems or opposing team's strategy. Isn't it about time we start thinking of them as unstoppable, in the old-fashioned, pre-coach-centric way? Something no one's talked about them reviving. . .
I have to say, I'm feeling
Marc Stein said last night on "Fast Break" (or whatever it's called now) that he thinks LeBron's rep will suffer a bit if he misses the playoffs; Scoop says the Cavs stopped trying as it became clear that he didn't believe in them anymore. Come on. He can make everyone better, but you can't expect a twenty year-old to babysit grown men. That team fell apart and left James out on the court all alone. For him to work his magic, everyone else at least has to show up. It's like they thought that, with LeBron and their strong start, they were owed a trip to the postseason.
Like I said, get the kid four competent starters that make some sense together, and he'll have you in the Eastern Conference finals. I think it's a testament to LeBron's majesty (and KG's, too), that they managed to almost make the postseason with team's around them that were decidedly dysfunctional, i.e. label to waste every other possession and automatically give up points on defense. I'm sure John Hollinger has some shit on how much those two were working against every time they took the floor. If not, he should.
With anyone other than LeBron, the Cavs would be looking at another #1 overall. Anyone. Shaq, Garnett, Nash, Iverson, Yao, T-Mac. Take your pick and that team would bring them down, one missed Pavlovic three or possesion pissed away by McInnis at a time. Don't even get me started on Ira Newble, the NBA's one and only fake Jew (now that Lenny Wilkins is back in his garden), Gooden, who never does anything right but always puts up numbers, and poor Tractor Traylor, who often ends up being the motor that drives that offense.
To end on a happy note: Iguodala. Again. I had hoped to say something like "is there any reason to believe we're not watching the second best player to come out of last year's draft," but then I looked at the draft. Wasn't this supposed to be a weak draft, esp. compared to the embarrasment of riches that was 2003? Granted, there's no LeBron, and not yet anyone on Wade's level. But between Howard, Gordon, Okafor, Livingston, Jefferson, the inchoate Smith's (my money's on J.R.), Iguodala, Gordon, and Telfair, you've got at least nine players who have a shot at All-Star caliber careers--definitely more than came out of 2003's instant classic.
(Fuck Josh Childress. And Devin Harris.)