May 10, 2011


Enough with the off court melodrama. Last night the NBA cleansed the collective palate with not one but two fantastic overtime games.

In Boston, the Elder 3 and the One Armed Bandit fought valiantly to even the series at 2-2, but a barage of unbelievable shots from Bron Bron, as well as a crucial travel that mostly escaped discussion (hat tip: Rob Mahoney):

pushed the contest to overtime, where Miami dominated. Headed back to South Beach, this is probably the end for the Celtics. The Heat are too young, too fast, and too athletic. And if you're rooting for them you hate America.

Although Boston-Miami was an excellent game, Thunder-Grizzlies was at least thrice as nice. These squads were meant for each other. The Thunder are built around two superstar wings and excellent defensive big men. The Grizzlies boast two unstoppable big men and nasty defensive wings. The Thunder were supposed to be the league's happiest team but now face chemistry questions, with Westbrook unable or unwilling to find Durant when it matters most. The Grizzlies, for so long synonymous with dysfunction, seem to play without ego. Swagger, but no ego. Everyone recognizes Z-Bo is king, and when their overachieving guards make terrible decisions the team just shrugs and gets back to work.

If you live on the East Coast and didn't feel like staying up until 5 AM, well, you missed out. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol dominating against excellent post defense. Russell Westbrook scorning his critics and repeatedly challenging the very laws of physics. Wily Shane Battier and his veteran tricks igniting a previously unknown fury in the heart of Kevin Durant. James Harden starting a whisper campaign to replace Westbrook at point. Mike Conley hitting an improbable three to force overtime, only to be topped by Greivis Vasquez hitting an infinitely more improbable three to force double overtime. Greivis Vasquez in general, running a playoff team's offense for two overtimes after everyone else fouled out.

And the memory most likely to stick, witnessing Durant, the league's most (only?) humble superstar, gripe to assistant Mo Cheeks (lipreaders swear Durant said, "He won't give me the f***ing ball") after Westbrook took the last shot in regulation. It felt like the death of innocence.

Both Game 5's should be excellent. The Celtics, though outmatched, should play with the pride of a champion combined with a burning hatred for Chris Bosh. The Grizzlies and Thunder should just play. And the East Coast should stay up late, because this is basketball at its finest.

No comments:

Post a Comment