Just a few thoughts from the playoffs (part two of the Winning Now breakdown comes tomorrow).
â€¢ I fear that all the talk on this blog about what the Lakers needed to do in round one could have drowned something basic out â€” the Suns are very, very good. I picked them to win it all before the season started, and did so because the Suns are a team that has talent that perfectly fits its system. Steve Nash is unbeleivable, but Barbosa and Stoudemire and Marion and Bell are perfect compliments. That is what an NBA contender looks like.
Kevin from Cliperblog said it well:
The only way to beat the Suns is to field a lineup that can defend their playmakers straight-up. Even the most well-oiled defensive rotation canâ€™t possibly keep up with the speed of the Sunsâ€™ offense. You may have the best help defenders in the league, but at a certain juncture in a PHX possession, something will beat you.
The Suns deserved the win and all that comes their way.
â€¢ Of course, what came their way in game one against San Antonio was a loss. The Suns found their shots at the rim contested, as they did their threes. Nash took 18 shots an had 8 assists â€” the Spurs made him the shooter. And they scored a lot themselves. Thatâ€™s how it is done, and it was still a hard-fought win. This is going to be a great series.
â€¢ Kevin from Clipperblog also had a great breakdown of Dirk Nowitzki in the playoffs and reaches a wise conclusion:
There isn’t a worse crime in the NBA than dispassion, and that’s why fans are turning on Dirk. It’s not the losing, or the lousy shot selection, or even the historic nature of the upset. It’s the close-mouthed manner in which Dirk absorbed the blow from GSW. That’s the transgression.
â€¢ Can Golden State play in a game thatâ€™s not fun to watch?
â€¢ One final Lakers note, from Kevin Ding in the OC Register (I pasted this into the comments yesterday but thought it dserved to be in a post):
Who cared: Bryant, Odom, Turiaf, Luke Walton. Who sort of cared: Maurice Evans, Jordan Farmar, Aaron McKie, Sasha Vujacic. Who didnâ€™t care: Kwame Brown, Bynum, Brian Cook, Smush Parker, Vladimir Radmanovic, Shammond Williams.
â€œThereâ€™s a certain sense of dedication that players have to the game and to their responsibilities,â€ Coach Phil Jackson said. â€œKobe matches that in all points. He sometimes overmatches it. And the intensity he brings to the game is sometimes not on a level guys can live up to. That frustration, more than anything else, is why our team didnâ€™t survive and flourish, even though we had injuries.
â€œEven though guys came back at the end of the year, that was the disrupting element. Guys didnâ€™t work hard enough. There was some selfishness that came along with it.â€