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Random Thoughts On The Playoffs...To This Point.

You ever look at a series and wonder to yourself, 'is an owner deliberately setting his team up for failure because of stuff like this'? Take Spurs/Suns for instance. On paper, this really should've been a great series. One that you look at and say, 'yeah, we need to strap in because it's going to be 6, maybe 7 games'. But after watching the last three games unfold, specifically last night, I come to one conclusion. It's over. Over for Phoenix and if you buy into the rumors circulating for Mike D''s over for him too. Yet again, his team's knocked out at the hands of the Spurs. Yes, I will say they're knocked out again by the Spurs. It's amazing how three games have me at ease about my preseason pick to do it again. In this series, you see how lack of preparation has the Suns on the eve of either being swept out or just flailing about long enough before the bad guy puts them out of their misery for a long, LONG Spring. I know a Suns fan and even though I haven't talked with her about this, I know she really isn't happy right now. Truth be told, she shouldn't be. Neither should any Suns fan, because the person to blame isn't Tony Parker, who's carving this team up the way Freddy carved up kids on Elm Street. It's not Gregg Belichick either, who's basically coaching this thing blindfolded and still having everything come up aces. The man to blame...

Is your owner, Robert Sarver. Yes, him. He who's too afraid to pay the luxury tax (like that would stop James Dolan from doing something stupid), has handcuffed your team so that it'll go but so far, but get basically run down by a team like this Spurs unit. Sarver's banking on the fact that Nash can lead this team back to the Promised Land for the first time since Sir Charles in 1993, but the problem is...with no draft picks coming down the pike anytime soon and a coach that's all but adopted the Riley mantra as his own (play nobody past the 8th man on the bench all year long), it's curtains. There's a guy towards the end of that bench that if nothing else, can just run around the floor and shadow Parker all day. His name? D.J. Strawberry, you've probably heard of his daddy, Darryl. But again, Riley Mantra dictates if he's not within arm's length of the coach, he don't play. Oh yeah, if you're a rookie, forget about playing time too. Still, aside from him the Suns did draft a guard that would've been PERFECT for just this type of PG matchup. Name's Rondo. Rajon. Rondo. Yeah, that kid up in Boston playing like he's back in Lexington all over again? Suns drafted him a few years ago and sent him packing, because once again, the owner didn't want to pay for the guy. Owners have to be a fan's second least liked individual aside from the other team's player that lives to kill your favorite team year in and year out. Kurt Thomas was sent to the Sonics for uh...I wanna say a bag of beans, but I'm fairly certain the cost would cause Peso Pinchin' Sarver to have a spastic fit. So even that was denied. Still, it's reaching a point with the Suns where you have to really start looking forward to the lottery (which even then, might not be something to look forward to given how this guy has done everything short of package the ball boy to Memphis for money), because it remains clear that this team will not do anything of real consequence as long as Sarver's at the helm. But enough about them, some quick capsules on the other series going on...

Detroit/Philly- Well, good thing I didn't put any money on that 5 and out thing for Detroit. But once again, this team which let an inferior Cleveland team run it out of town on a monorail, appears to be doing it again. Ya know, say what you will for Larry Brown as a coach, but he made damn sure his teams didn't drag their feet in series like this. By all respects and what not to the Sixers as a unit, they shouldn't be in this series. It should be 2-1 the other way, not 'we're on the verge of going back to Detroit with them in a potential closeout situation'. If you want a series that illustrates the importance of coaching, I give you Exhibit A right here. Flip Saunders is proof positive that sometimes, just sticking any ole body in a situation doesn't guarantee results are gonna be great as they were.

Which is a shame too, because Detroit's in the same group as Phoenix. A core nucleus that is getting much older and the window of opportunity is growing closer to being shut once and for all. Joe Dumars will continue to make sure this team stays competitive, but if I'm him, I'd reach out to Larry and see if he feels like doing it just one more time with the Pistons. Seriously.

NO/Dallas- So much for my hope that Dallas would be swept. Yet another series where coaching is most likely going to be the deciding factor. Slackhouse's comments about Byron Scott had me flat out rolling yesterday. I mean, him insinuating that the only reason Byron's got rings was due to the cast around him has 'Deshawn Stevenson Foot In Mouth' label slapped all over it. Get this, Slack, you're talking about Byron as if he were the 12th guy on the bench waving a towel while Showtime ran wild in the 80s. Newsflash dumbass, Byron started for those teams and did more than his fair share in contributing to those title wins. So even though he doesn't need me to answer for him, I'm going to do so by going Patrick Roy on him...

Byron: I can't hear Slackhouse as a result of these championship rings plugging my ears.

Have fun fishin' again this early, Slack.

Utah/Houston- Just when you think you've got a non-achiever dead to rights for the umpteenth year in a row, they turn around and win a game on the road they're not supposed to win. T-Wack, against all odds and fans, managed to lead the Rockets to a shocking win on Thursday night in Utah. Now, they're only a game away from making this a best 2 out of 3 series. Which is a big problem considering they've got homecourt and have yet to win ON IT. The Rockets are yet another team that are outmatched from a talent perspective, but given the success Adelman has against Sloan throughout his career in the postseason, they're in it and it wouldn't shock me if this did indeed go 7.

Cleveland/Washington- Remember how I'm so damn critical of LeBron? How I think he gets way too much for doing way too little when it counts? Refer to Game 3 and thank me for trying to warn all of you in advance. Never in NBA history has a team lost a playoff game by 30, then come back to WIN by 30. Know why it hasn't happened until Thursday night? Because more often than not, a team that loses by 30 is so thoroughly humiliated and demoralized, it's all but a done deal. But leave it to a Cleveland team, to defy all logic in doing just that. I'm going to say this now and say it proud...with or without Agent Zero...the Wizards will win this series.

Oh and if you're a Cavalier fan and they figure out a way to lose this series after taking the first two in Cleveland, especially after that 30 plus point whitewash in Game 2, nobody will hold it against you if you took a really long walk off a short bridge. Really. People forget, the Wizards have played most of this season without Agent Zero and have managed to get along just fine without him. This is NOT the glorified practice squad the Cavs sauteed into oblivion a year ago. Conversely, as evident by their "performance and absolute lack thereof' Thursday night, this is not the same Cavs team. Now is when you see what that trade did to this team. You do NOT tinker with a team that came that close to winning it all. It hasn't been done and until this year, you see why it doesn't happen often. To remove two key starters from that unit, for one broken down piece and a couple of question marks who aren't used to playing in this type of's a gamble you'll lose more often than not. (Just don't tell that to any Cavalier fan, they'll think you're hating on their team.)

Toronto/Orlando- Now ya see why having most of this series put on NBA TV was a bad idea? This might just be the best first round series in the East that doesn't have a James in it. The Raptors are a quiet good team, that's more or less an afterthought as a result of their location and nothing more. Sam Mitchell's a pretty good coach and that international team that's posing as an NBA unit, can play. SVG's no playoff novist, but he had best figure out what's up in a hurry. Last thing he wants is to have a team that played his boys very close at home going back to Orlando with a chance to come back North ready to advance to the second round.

Boston/Atlanta- Let me just go ahead and throw this up here now, because it's real simple. Hawks, we thank you for your participation in this year's playoffs as an 8th seed. We have some lovely parting gifts for you and your players, including a customary 'bandwagon extension pack' that's great for all the fans you're gonna have hopping on the bandwagon even after you're put out in horrible fashion. Also, you and your fans will win the distinction of being able to hold your heads high when you walk down the street. Why? Because for the first time in 9 years, you've played playoff basketball. And so what if you were umpteen games below .500 and a much more deserving team in Golden State should be where you are? You played crappy in a crappy conference and got the breaks that GSW didn't make for itself. Screw em'.

If they couldn't win 2 more games than they lost, oh well. Stand tall and be proud...oh, by the by, you're still most likely to be swept out of the remaining playoff teams. Sorry.

LA/Denver- I'm losing faith in Carmelo's ability to seriously lead a team by the second. His off court shenanigans not withstanding, something just doesn't add up here. It just doesn't. This should be a 1-1 series going to Denver. Instead, Denver's playing today to keep its slim hopes of winning this series alive. Because let me break something down to all of you regarding the playoffs and 2-0 holes. Game 3's the most important game in the series that's not 7 or whatever series clincher you play. Winning Game 3 enables you to go out and have fun for Game 4. When you go into Game 4 facing a "must win", you're basically in that mode for FOUR STRAIGHT GAMES. More often than not, even if you win that series (which historically, hasn't happened to date even though a small handful have stretched 3-0 to 3-3)...don't expect to keep it going for yet another series.

The Lakers know what it is this time of the year and know for the past few years in a row since Shaq left, they've been fishin' after the first round. I'm inclined to believe this won't happen this year. Kobe's not letting it happen and Gasol looks more at ease now that he's not being asked to carry the 'franchise' load he had to in Memphis.

Anyway, I'm back to sleep folks. Got a ton of television watchin' to get ready for.
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