Watching the best team in the League lose to the worst team in the East last night, more than anything I was struck by one thing: The Cavaliers are fantastic. I mean, sure, they lost that game. But there was a stretch when the Cavaliers almost wiped out an eight-point deficit by playing Darnell Jackson, Daniel Gibson, Wally Szczerbiak, Mo Williams, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. It wasn't so much seeing that lineup playing well that impressed. It was seeing those (mostly) bench players acting perfectly poised and comfortable, confident that they could get it done. One of my pet theories is that the team with the most empowered role players wins the title. Another thought from that same game: You know how LeBron James has been all over the web hitting crazy long shots? He took some very long 3s last night too. In the playoffs, I have a feeling he'll take some kind of ridiculously long shot in a close game. If I'm a Cavalier fan this thought would make me really nervous -- until he hits it.
Allen Iverson is not wired like other people -- and that's what made that tiny dude an MVP in a game of giants. I don't like the idea of a player saying start me or I'll retire. Especially a blatantly inefficient one. I'm also not sure that's exactly what he said -- he was also talking about how his injuries were making ineffective. Even though he has decried practice, and now coming off the bench, nothing will ever convince me that guy is short of passion for the game. If anything he's unreasonably passionate, which has been his blessing all along. Any reasonable person his size would have chosen a different sport.
Who's going to make the Finals from the West? Both John Hollinger and Justin Kubatko's systems say the Lakers are heavy favorites. But if they stumble, the second most likely team is ... the Spurs? The Rockets? The Nuggets? None of the above. The Blazers are almost twice as likely as the Spurs to make the Finals in Hollinger's system, and roughly one-and-a-half times as much in Kubatko's. I suspect that's driven largely by Portland's strong recent play, and average scoring margin of +4.34, which is the best of the West's "other" teams.
About technical fouls in the playoffs -- They do not carry over from the regular season -- everyone starts at zero. The suspensions start only for those who have seven or more in the playoffs. Then a really weird thing happens, though, which is you get suspended for every other technical after that. It's like shopping in a bagel store where the eighth one is free.
Geoff Petrie, and the string of compromise/owner-selected coaching candidates who have worked for him.
Chris Sheridan says Alvin Gentry is iffy to stay on as coach in Phoenix.
Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News: "Before tonight's game, I was hanging around in the Mavericks' locker room and assistant coach Terry Stotts came through to put his pregame offensive assignments on the board. But first, he handed me a sheet of paper. It had points in the paint for each NBA team, with all the playoff teams highlighted. The Mavericks, of course, are ahead of only three teams in that department. But one of the teams they are ahead of is San Antonio. 'There's more than one way to win games,' Stotts said." (Via The Two Man Game)
Golden State of Mind on Monta Ellis' performance the other night: "Holy crap. His performance last night was borderline epic. Netting a season high 42 points, Monta also brought in 9 dimes (some of them truly memorable), and 9 boards. He looked like ... well ... he looked like ... a point guard. And a damn good one! Hell, a REALLY damn good one."
Hamed Haddadi for MVP. (Can someone please make shirts that say "Who's Your Haddadi?")
By the Horns' Matt McHale on Drew Gooden's game-worn shoes: "Nothing says 'I love my Chicago Bulls!' quite like decorating your home with a couple of ratty sneakers that smell like Drew Gooden's feet." Worth noting, Gooden is a gimpy bench-warming Spur.
Fascinating: How "making it" can turn you into a defender of the status quo.
Blazer GM Kevin Pritchard, asked by Ben from BlazersEdge if he could beat Barack Obama in a game of one-on-one, says: "No question. I love President Obama and that he loves basketball. I love it, man, it's really cool that he fills out an NCAA bracket. I love that. ... He hasn't played at a high level. I'd have all the tricks. He might be in better shape and all that but I'd have all the tricks."
UPDATE: David Nieman of Athlete Interactive with some caution for players who intend to be the "next Shaq" of Twitter: "To draw conclusions about Twitter and its value to athletes in general based on Shaq's success, however, would be misguided. Shaquille O'Neal is the Twitter equivalent of the Terminator, a virtually perfect Tweeting machine. If you were to construct the ideal athlete Tweeter, you'd be hard pressed to do better than a seven-foot tall, 300-plus pound teddy bear with the wit of a comedian, a smile that could sell toothpaste, and the generosity of Santa Claus. The vast majority of athletes -- of people -- do not have all of those qualities. Moreover, very little about what Shaq does on Twitter has to do with playing basketball. That's largely because at this stage of his career, partially because of Twitter, Shaq is known more for being Shaq, the personality, than anything he's accomplishing on the hardwood (a point I'll come back to later). That isn't a branding strategy that will work for the majority of athletes; just being the 'real,' authentic you alone isn't a point of distinction if the 'real' you isn't that engaging, or quite frankly, even if it is."