String Those Nerves Together Now
In olden days, I would have said "read what I wrote over there but this is the real", and then poured out my innards. But the problem with FanHouse is that they want me doing whatever. Have you read the previews Ziller and I did? I really couldn't make any less sense if I wanted to. So read them. Thus, as the playoff monster begins to stir, I find myself on my own doormat, faced with the possibility that what's on FD might be more straightforward than my "real" gig. Strange times we inhabit. However, I wanted to tend to these lands, dry and shriveled as they have become. So here's my very sober, useful rundown of Things That Persuade Me in This Postseason.
1. The Thunder--Really, can there be any doubt? Forget for a second that Durant is, if not LeBron's narrative, mystical equal, maybe even greater for not being equipped with a superpower's physique. He looks like I figure Young Ezekiel did, and also deserves some sort of otherworldly, possibly Martian, nickname. LeBron is, pardson the pun, all embronzed. Durant is exotic metals; there's a reason why, at one point, there was an Avatar comparison for him in a part of the new book. I think we finally decided it was at once too true and too silly to comprehend.
But the Thunder as a whole represent so much we've been in favor of while—and here's the kicker—without seeming like a leap of faith. Serge Ibaka is not a test. Russell Westbrook is not a test. The Hawks when they dared face Boston were exhilarating, but living on the edge can sometimes leave you feeling tawdry. No one thinks OKC beat LA, but good luck finding a single serious basketball fan who expects a sweep with zero intrigue.
2. Brandon Jennings--Tyreke Evans is a major stylist, and I still don't think people are letting that all-around game of his sink in. I've made my peace with Curry. But Jennings is the only one left standing, and while the Bucks are taking two games---no more, no less--tell me you aren't excited to see Jennings try his hand at the playoffs. No Bogut hurts the team's case, and Jennings' absolute value, and yet if the Bucks are going down anyway, why not do so with something resembling a Brandon Jennings showcase? I'm not talking about no 55; that's probably what led to his abrupt drop off the ROY map (and Curry's rise).
Let's just see Jennings carry himself like he belongs there, run his team, and demonstrate the game that makes him a clear-cut building block at the one. At the beginning of the season, the AI comparisons were pure bunk to me. I loved Jennings best when he slithered around the half-court looking to make a play. He can either jack up shots here in desperation or dig in and try to animate the bunch. One good thing about Skiles: He will be, umm, gently pushing for number two.
3. Dwyane Wade-- No one told me, I didn't notice, and frankly (stats aside), it didn't show all the time. But Wade was still pretty out-of-this-world in the 2009-10. Thus, I am looking forward for Wade to really blow it all out. That Round One is against Boston, the perfect team to fly headlong into and hope for collapse (or a revved-up guitar soundtrack) (is it so wrong that I once found a LeBron mix soundtracked with Iron Maiden?).
Despite what I've been writing at FanHouse, I don't quite get how players are thinking of these playoffs in terms of this summer. No one needs to be convinced that Wade can prevail, at least game-to-game. Still, 2010 is more than a rat race, it's a pecking order, with LeBron's 2010-ness having become some measure of his absolute power over the league. Not that Wade can nibble away at that, but riding high as the Free Agency babble begins is very much the new pecking order around the league. Like standings or balloting ever matter; there all we ever hear about is the winner. Not so with 2010. The whole world is watching and Wade is certainly looking to gain a little on LeBron. The question, though: What happens to this hierarchy once 2010 is over?
4. Bobcats WTF--I really, really need some help on this one. It's almost like when you go to a mental hospital in the fifties (okay, I'm imagining Shutter Island), and everyone's sweeping floors and playing Risk!, and then all of a sudden there's a disturbance and things really jump off. Is Larry Brown the warden? Wait, how is he not—I'm sorry to repeat myself so often on this count—the Bad News Bears coach? (Billy Bob version, motherfuckers . . . if I go down that path, I go down it all alone.)
Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Tyrus Thomas, Boris Diaw, Tyson Chandler, even Raymond Felton . . . it's like karmic revenge for the Believe! Warriors. If you let me coach this team I would discover Atlantis and burn down a subway. But no one's even suggesting that this team is scrappy, or violent, or even miscreants floating out on a boat somewhere (love that movie Strange Cargo!). For God's sake, didn't Stephen Jackson decree himself a pirate at some point?
5. Please let the Derrick Rose backlash begin now. Please bring back that psychedelic karaoke Luol Deng.
6. In the immortal words of J.E. Skeets, WHAT DO YOU THINK!??!!?!??!?