Fast Break

 —  May 2, 2005

Lots of things I want to get to today, so, in an act of a lazy blogger, out come the bullet points.

• My favorite playoff series to watch so far has been Houston and Dallas. Tracy McGrady has been getting all the props, and deservedly so — he played the four just 1% of the time in the regular season, then in the playoffs has stepped up in that role and played solid D on Nowitzki (as much as anyone can slow the German down). But don’t forget about Yao Ming, who has started to play with the aggressiveness he usually just reserves for playing against Shaq. Ming is shooting 72.5% from the field in four games, is scoring 32.97 points per 48 minutes (up from 28.74 during the regular season), is pulling down 5.8 offensive rebounds per 48 (up from 4.1) and is blocking 3.8 shots (up from 3.1). Houston’s stars have stepped up in the post season.

• Let’s get the Phil Jackson update out of the way. The New York Post is reporting Cleveland is no longer in the running. And this was a surprise to….. ah, nobody. On Sunday, the LA Times dedicated New Yorker-length column inches to stories and opinions about Phil’s potential return. Here is the kernel of truth in all of it:

(Shaq) O’Neal, who is trying to lead Miami to its first NBA championship, took the time before a recent playoff game to ask a reporter what was going to happen with Jackson.

The answer: Only Jackson knows, and he is saying little.

• In honor of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy being the top grossing film of the weekend — the answer is 42.

• Coaching move of the first round goes to Gregg Popovich for bringing Manu Ginobili off the bench. It takes guts to sit your second best player at the start of games, but it has worked. ESPN’s John Hollinger wrote about this last week — Barry has much better numbers when he starts than when he comes off the bench, but Ginobili plays at the same level either way. Start Barry and he’s played better (62.5% eFG in the playoffs, averaging 12.47 points per 48) plus Ginobili leads a bench Denver can’t match. Apparently Popovich learned something while out at Pomona.

• I work with two Chelsea fans and they are going to be unbearable this week. At least my team knocked them out of the FA Cup.

• I know it was never going to happen, but watching Carlos Arroyo in the little playing time he has received in Detroit during the playoffs reminded me I think he would have been a nice fit in Laker colors. He’s averaging 10.3 assists and 3.7 points per 48 in the playoffs (and 6 fouls).