He giveth, he taketh away

I too have seen it. Even before THC's less-is-more bombshell below, I'd been planning to tell the world how I feel about Igudola. He's defensive stopper of Artest-like proportions, an all-out hustle guy who holds things together on either end of the court, a deadly finisher that can raise the roof and ignite a run, and less and less afraid with taking big shots. In short, just the kind of player you need in the playoffs.

I'll take it a step further: he's the key to the Eastern Conference playoffs. Webber or no Webber, with Iguodala stepping up and becoming the man he should be, the Sixers could very well be Nuggets East. Korver has game-winner written all over him, Jackson continues to impress, Dalembert is a seven-foot dynamo in a conference in which height still matters. But with Iguodala liable to explode or shut down the other team's best scorer on cue, it's not just a matter of how much the Sixers can put together on paper--they've now got what it takes to actually get under even Miami's skin, play over their heads, find that next gear when things get seriously competitive. Iverson's always had it, but he's never had anyone who can match his intensity. Iggy not only complements AI, he turns that whole team into a momentum swing waiting to happen. Unlike the Answer, he's not the kind of player that you shake your head at in disbelief. He's more like Artest himself, inspiring everyone by letting their team effort inspire him.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite; Eddy Curry could have been the most important player in the playoffs, but instead his absence could very well spell the end of the Bulls' miracle season. As deep and balanced as that team is, there's no replacing a hyper-athletic, seven-foot beast who can score at will in the post and gets in position like it's no thing. Say what you will about Curry--lazy on defense, can't rebound, has the kind of personality that might not even register the heightened circumstances of the postseason. But he's maybe the only person in the league capable of matching up with Shaq one-on-one, holding his ground on defense and willing to take it to him on offense. And don't tell me that, with the game on the line in a half-court tempo, Curry couldn't single-handedly take things over and deliver a victory. Gordon's fourth quarters have become the Bulls' signature offensive weapon, but over a seven-game series, Curry in the paint could guarantee you three or four consecutive baskets without having to rely on magic and highwire creativity.

P.S. I've said before that I thought getting O'Neal back might actually disrupt the Pacers' current hot streak. I still stand by that. But if Stern lets Artest out of the doghouse, that team finds a whole new sense of purposeā€”and believe me, they shall be avenged.


At 4/15/2005 4:26 PM, Anonymous Gorilla Jones said...

Speaking as a Bulls fan, even when Eddy Curry was healthy, it was kind of a novelty to see him out there at the end of the game. He's key for the Bulls in the first quarter - when he's on, he keeps them from starting out with the big deficits that Gordon then rescues them from. Losing Curry puts more strain on Hinrich to carry the team early, and for Chandler to stay in the game. (Brendan Haywood emits pheromones that enrage Tyson Chandler, so that's more of a challenge than it sounds.) We were all expecting to have to wait another off-season for Curry to play entire games.

This season, Curry has been a non-factor in victories against Boston and Washington. For some reason, he has always destroyed Indiana, so that's the match-up we would really miss him in.

At 4/16/2005 7:45 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

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At 4/16/2005 8:41 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

Great post and comment.
I'm sure I speak for all philly ex-pats here in again lamenting the perfectly-late timing of the city's athletic reconstruction. first it was the post-Pinkston birds, now its the neo-AI Sixers. outside that one weekend in 2001 when we made ray allen cry, philly basketball had been a five-year ocean of disappoint - 150lbs of superstar trying to keep the other 10 tons of Derick Coleman merely afloat. Now they finally have a credible team, and i'm stuck in Whaler country. Et tu, Phillies?


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