No One Will Perish at Night
Let's get all pale and reflective for an instant here about this weekend. Well actually, I just want to weigh in on the Sixers. Contrary to what some of you may believe, I have paid attention to them some during their little flare-up. For the first few minutes of today's game, I was shredding pure plant. That's how much fun it was. However, like everything I've seen of them this year, it's a ridiculously crude form of up-tempo that tells us more about the Eastern Conference than those men in red, white, gold, and black.
Ask the Recluse, my Thaddeus Young color don't bleed, which is part of why I'm so nonplussed by that win. You heard the announcers (sorry, I lost track): They made that Korver trade to play Young, and maybe even Carney. Shit was stylistic cleansing, plain and simple, and it worked. So why did he semi-vanish as soon as that opening assault faded?
The truly depressing answer, that everyone already knows by now: The Sixers won that game with Reggie Evans, Andre Miller's palsied slashes, and some good luck at the line. I guess that's baby steps playoff basketball, but is that why a team burns up the map and turns instead a pyrotechnic souffle? That, good people, is the movie where robots take over the state house, not the one with the aliens whose eyes secrete Rembrandts.
I look forward to Game Two, which hopefully brings more Thaddeus Young, for he is the J.R. Smith-like key to that team's identity. And without identity, what has one but toil in the shadow of the master, hoping to rise up only by tracing out imperfect fractions of his designs? So Sixers, you are not in Heaven. You have been dragged into Hell with the promise of nobility. Kindly flutter, flutter up, and bring fire to where it does not belong!
Sidenote: With all as my witness, I hereby acknowledge officially that Amir Johnson isn't going to save the Pistons. At least not this year. I guess this means I have to stop talking him up in polite media circles.
Part of what I love about the Playoffs is how quickly fortunes, or at least their appearances, changes from game to game. 1-0, that's momentum; 2-0, done deal. 2-1, back in it. 2-2, one team in collapse, and so on. My absent-minded ravings aside, it's either the perfect—or melodramatically imperfect—example of this effect. So the upset happened. Does anyone seriously think that the Sixers are the better team, especially after that underwhelming performance? Hopefully, not. However, what combination of numbers will it take to loosen that judgment? If they go up 2-1 once back home, do we jump to conclusions?
I think with Golden State, it was so easy. You could feel it in the air. And yet in any series, there that world-unto-itself quality, a new reality where virgin rules are set and relationships forged afresh, on totally self-contained terms. If this is the case, or at least part of it, it's hard to overestimate the ebb and flow of a series. It would be just as wrong to tune out the first three quarters of a game (playoff or otherwise), then pay close attention to the forth with only broad history in mind.
It's why the series will always be superior to the single-elimination, and why basketball's 48 minutes and 100 points will always excited me more than 2-0 in the 9th. Process counts for something, damn it; a playoff series is resolution through process, and any NBA game is a process that spits out a final product. Maybe I'm just not smart enough to appreciate tension, but this is why I'm all for this sport, in which rash conclusions are simultaneously buttressed and undermined by constant activity. Otherwise, we live in a universe where there is nothing, then something, then nothing again. That's not for me. GO SIXERS, be unto rightness.
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