EAR TO THE STREETS
Because this game has offered very little to write back to the fleet about, I will begin this obligatory post with three indelible gems from NBA-TV. I don't watch that shit the same way I refuse to ever buy 45's, but after tonight I might be forced to reconsider that on account of my duty to humanity.
1. Ms. O'Neal, interview Ms. Stackhouse. It took me a good minute and a half to figure that why one was ostensibly in the journalist's seat, which actually made it more stilted than it might've otherwise been. There were some priceless tidbits—Shaq can't talk about "work" around the house so "sulks around the bedroom" following a tough loss, Stack helps out with the cooking by grilling a bunch—but mostly I was into the idea that NBA spouses could for once get the same attention as other rich people's wives.
2. Bosh and Marquis. Bosh sticking a mic up in Daniels's face would've been enough. It would've been enough to watch this just knowing that, as few minutes as Marquis has been getting, his opinion is worthless. Hell, any glimpse we get of him on the floor, or of his distinctly repitilian countenance, gives me a new lease on my delusive vision of this league. But the sheer, rickety incompetence the two of them exhibited while executing one of the most perfunctory exchanges in all of sports. . .Bosh seemingly frightened by the awesome responsibility and Marquis's off-putting glower, 'Quis looking like he really believed he had something better to do. The next time I catch myself groaning at a pre-gamer, I will look back on this event and think "but yes, there is always lower."
3. Josh Howard's retainer. Silverbird and I spent a while yesterday trying to figure out how someone ends up flooding the country with preternaturally strong drugs; such is the riddle of Josh Howard's orthodontia, which at every turn confounds most common sense. Howard's not seeing lottery money, but he certainly has enough under the mattress to spring for state-of-the-art tooth-fixing treatment. That's why I was always struck by his braces, which seemed about as obtrusive as possible (couldn't he have at least copped those see-through joints?). Now apparently those gloves are off, but when he's on camera for an internationally-aired interview that's a shoulders-up shot he keeps the retainer in. Some hearfelt Mavs fan probably knows more on this, and maybe there's a reasonable scientific explanation. For now, though, I'm going to have to admit that I'm in no position to make informed judgments about one man's quest for the dental serenity.
So about that game. First off, I know that Breen has got to sell the next episode even harder in the wake of two straight decisive victories. But for real, can he really get away with saying "Shaquille O'Neal will be looking come back and make a statement?" Wasn't that the hook for tonight? Even if he can't possibly be worse at home, at some point you run out of chances to come back with a vengeance; when that dominant night does happen, it's got to be seen just as Shaq having a good game.
I suppose I'm wondering who to blame for the Heat's utter embarrassment of a road stand. The supporting cast's done nothing, but then again, Shaq has been all about useless and Wade's hardly gone off with ease. Superstars need some help, but for things to fall into place they've got to play up to their level. There are plenty of qualifiers floating around: Shaq's old, Wade's got the flu, without them holding it down Walker et al. start wishing they could fly, Dallas has three seven footers and a slew of athletic bodies that make Posey feel like just another long asset. At some point, though, these problems become structural, not situational, and you've got consider breaking out the "EXPOSED" rubber stamp.
Why everyone was talking a six-game series: A sweep is too brash. Five is close to a sweep. Seven implies no clear preference. Six, then, is the only realistic way to pick a winner without having to go too far.
Dallas in five.