Some random thoughts while you wait the day and a half until Game 2 tips off…
*The other day, I mentioned that I love the playoffs. The intesity, the focus, the stakes…everything just makes me want to sit back and watch as much basketball as possible. But, the other reason I love the playoffs is because of the quality of writing that can be found everywhere you look. If you’re not already, go to the sites and blogs of the other teams. Read up on the Mavs and the Magic (for example). Go check out the analysis that some really smart people are putting out there on the teams that they follow on a daily basis. You’re likely to learn some things – I know I do.
*Another reason that I love the playoffs is the new faces that make their mark. Not sure how many of you caught the Bucks/Hawks game on Saturday, but how about that Brandon Jennings? Talk about a young player that does not retreat from the big moments on the grand stage. For a large chunk of that game, he looked like the only Buck that was truly ready for the playoffs. Plus he’s left handed (always a positive in my book).
*Even the obvious needs to be stated again: welcome back Andrew Bynum. I think we were all impressed with his return to action yesterday and the ways that he impacted the game. He truly was a real force. And I couldn’t agree with Roland Lazenby more – after being out for as long as he was you almost forget how big young ‘Drew is.
*Speaking of our big men, Phillip mentioned it this morning, but the Lakers need to do a better job of beating the Thunder’s fronting defense. There are two ways that I think the Lakers can accomplish this. First is to have the big man that’s being fronted make the effort to walk his defender up the lane more. This will enable him to 1). create more space between himself and the weakside help defender and 2). recieve a nice bounce pass entry if the ball goes into the corner in our standard Triangle set on the strong side. Second is for the Lakers to play more high low by reversing the ball to either the top side guard or the flashing big man from the weakside. Once the ball is swung back to the middle of the court, the fronting big is now more easily exposed by lob passes over the top.
*So far this playoffs, the home teams have been putting their stamp on their respective series. In the 8 games played over the weekend 7 of the home teams won. The one home team that lost? Phoenix, in their match up with Portland. I know people will be quick to point out the SSOL offense doesn’t work in the playoffs and use this loss as another way to knock down that style of play. But really, I saw this game as another example of why interior defense and rebounding is so important. The Suns are missing Robin Lopez (not a world beater by any means, but he’s their best defensive big) while the Blazers have an active and effective Marcus Camby patrolling their paint. Camby (14 defensive rebounds, 3 blocks) was able to control the lane defensively and help slow down Amare while Blazers Andre Miller and Jerryd Bayless were able to attack the paint against Phoenix. And while a lot of people wanted to call him a homer, Henry over at TrueHoop kinda called it.
*I agree with the suspension handed down to KG. It doesn’t matter if you don’t recall doing it, you can’t elbow a guy in the face and not miss time. Sorry, KG. Well, actually, not really. And not because of the jersey he wears or his team affiliation. But because I used to be a fan. Besides Kobe, Duncan, and Shaq, KG was probably my favorite player of this era. Not so much now. I’d say more, but Kelly Dwyer just said it better.
*Have you seen that strange Carmelo Anthony commercial? What’s your take on it? I have no clue if it was supposed to be funny or just weird, but it kind of accomplished both for me.