Saturday, May 7, 2011

NBA Playoffs... With A Hangover

The Hangover: Part II comes out
May 26th.

Not counting the NBA playoffs, there is something big is receiving a lot of build-up. You’ve probably seen the previews for it during the playoffs. No, it isn’t Franklin and Bash, starring Breckin Meyer
and Mark-Paul Gosselaar, which premieres at 9 p.m. on Wednesday June 1st only on TNT. The one thing that tops Franklin and Bash is The Hangover: Part II, the sequel to the 2009 smash hit comedy that I saw a whopping five times in theatres. I don’t need to go into how epic Hangover II is going to be. I’m sure you already know this if you saw the first one, which quickly leapt into the pantheon of great comedies, and movies that contain a ton of quotes that are fun to use. What I want to do is take a look at some memorable Hangover quotes, and tie them into this year’s NBA playoffs.
“That's classic!”
-The best moment of a very memorable 2011 NBA playoffs is without question Brandon Roy’s game four take over in the first round versus Dallas. It involved the right player (Brandon Roy, who just days before had commented on how hurt he was that his role had been diminished) and the right teams (Dallas, who has a history of choking away games, and Portland, whose crowd was spectacular throughout the events that were transpiring). The only problem is Portland didn’t go on to win the series. In the long run, this remarkable performance could end up being forgotten because Portland was bounced rather easily just two games later. Should it be? Absolutely not. This NBA season has been important for so many reasons: The Lakers quest for a 3 peat, a nationwide backlash against the Miami Heat, Derrick Rose taking the next step and winning the MVP, Blake Griffin becoming the most exciting player in the league in just one season, Melo-Drama, Memphis upsetting San Antonio and most likely ending the Spurs dynasty, and John Wall doing the best Dougie ever. Despite all of that, I am giving my favorite Hangover quote to Brandon Roy’s game four performance.
“Gambling? Who said anything about gambling? It's not gambling when you know you're gonna win. Counting cards is a foolproof system.”
-Memphis blatantly tanked the last two games of the regular season by resting Z-Bo, and giving big minutes to Ishmael Smith, Greivis Vasquez and the Rony Seikely look alike Hamed Haddadi. Why would they do this? To ensure that they were the 8 seed so they could play the team with the best record in the west… who they happened to be much, much better than. Make no mistake, the Grizzlies first round victory was no fluke. And if they beat the Thunder, it again will not be a fluke. If they win the Western Conference, to paraphrase the Soup Nazi, “No fluke for you!” The Grizzlies have the best 4/5 tandem in the playoffs with Randolph and Gasol. They have two of the best perimeter defenders in the playoffs in Tony Allen and Shane Battier. Mike Conley has held his own when you take into consideration the point guards he has been matched up against. Sam Young, Darrell Arthur, and OJ Mayo have played with a ton of confidence in minor roles, and brilliantly fill out the Grizzlies eight man rotation. It was not a gamble for the Grizzlies to tank their last two games. They were just putting themselves in the best position to make a not so improbable run to the NBA Finals.

“It's not easy.”

“Okay, well, maybe we should tell that to Rain Man, because he practically bankrupt a casino, and he was a retard.”
-I literally searched for an hour trying to find the interview, but I couldn’t find it. I just want to remind everyone that Zach Randolph, the man who is taking the NBA Playoffs by storm, earlier in the season made a remark about how his team “played the whole 42 minutes.” I just thought that this should be mentioned. Also, if anyone reading this knows where to find this video, please let me know.

“Really? Well, then why did I do it? Huh? 'Cause I did it! Riddle me that! Why'd I do it? You know, sometimes I think all you want me to do is what you want me to do. Well, I'm sick of doing what you want me to do all the time. I think, in a healthy relationship, sometimes a guy should be able to do what he wants to do.”
“That is not how this works!”
“Oh, good! Because whatever this is ain't workin' for me!”
-I predicted in my column previewing the playoffs that Chris Paul would immediately demand a trade after his Hornets were swept by the Lakers. I also predicted that Orlando would sweep Atlanta, mainly because they did last year and Atlanta looked completely heartless (not to anyone’s surprise) towards the end of the regular season. Orlando goes down to Atlanta in six games, and the window for the Magic shuts abruptly, right on the fingers of Dwight Howard… and he’s pissed! And can we blame him. He’s on a team with a coach he doesn’t like, but chances are Van Gundy will be on his way out soon. He has teammates that don’t make him better at all, and don’t play defense because they either don’t care or because they realize they have the best interior defender in the game. He has a general manager (Otis Smith) who made two horrible trades that effectively killed the Magic’s chances of being a contender. Those trades: Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus to Phoenix for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark. Carter and Richardson is a wash mainly because they do the same thing, neither of which helps Dwight at all. Pietrus scared the hell out of me coming off the bench and I didn’t see Earl Clark come off the bench at all this year unless it was to give some encouraging high fives during the timeouts. Hedo Turkoglu isn’t even close to being the player he was on their Finals team two years ago, while losing Gortat made Orlando the smallest team in the league, which doubles the amount of pressure on Howard because now he can never afford to get in foul trouble. The other trade that crippled Orlando was Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas. Granted, Lewis wasn’t exactly blowing things up this season before the trade, but remember what took Orlando over the edge in 09? It was the Lewis, Turkoglu, Howard front line, which caused Cleveland so many mismatch problems that I broke two TV remotes in that six game series. Otis Smith made the trade for Turkoglu before the Arenas trade. Why in the hell did he not try out that Lewis, Turkoglu, Howard line-up again? I don’t have the slightest idea, but it most likely put an end to a contending Magic team. Damn it to hell!

“See kids, this is where we bring suspects in order to be detained. Trust me, you do not want to be sitting on these benches. We call this place Loserville.”
-Time to take a look at the other seven teams that got beat in the first round.
-Indiana Pacers: Played extremely hard even though they were overmatched by the Bulls. The big problem for the Pacers was that they Danny Granger either isn’t The Guy, or isn’t ready to be The Guy, and Derrick Rose was. Granger played great, but didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.
-New York Knicks: Everybody knows about Carmelo, Amare, and Billups. There is a reason for this besides the fact that they are all-stars. The other eleven players that fill out the Knicks roster all stink, and that is putting it lightly. They are either past their prime, haven’t hit their prime, or are in their prime but still stink. Let me put it this way, when Mike D’Antoni had to ask himself in game four “Who do I want logging major minutes at point guard because Billups is out: Anthony Carter, Roger Mason or Toney Douglas” and he went with Anthony Carter, you knew the Knicks were in trouble.
-Philadelphia 76ers: LeBron finished his breakfast. It is that simple.
-San Antonio Spurs: I don’t want to dwell on the fact that Tim Duncan was probably the 4th best big guy playing on either team in their first round series. I don’t have any idea if this is the Spurs last hurrah, or Tim Duncan’s last year, but he shouldn’t be remembered for this series, or the past couple years for that matter. He should be remembered as the best power forward ever (sorry Mom), the best player on four championship teams and possibly the best player of the last decade. I’ve never liked him, but seeing him decline so drastically this year was kind of sad. Luckily I can say I frustratingly remember the best of Tim Duncan.
-Denver Nuggets: Denver got jobbed the first game of the series with the no call on Perkins goal tending, and things got out of whack from there. I was, and still am a believer in the fact that Denver got the best of the Carmelo trade, but I have to say it would have benefit them to have someone who could’ve matched Durant shot for shot.
-Portland Trailblazers: I’m just going to assume that the basketball God’s still have something against Portland, and Brandon Roy’s game four performance was just a giant tease.
-New Orleans Hornets: Watching Chris Paul in game one was like watching an instructional video on how to run the point. I don’t care about his knee anymore. If I am a GM I’m giving him as much money for as long as possible when he becomes a free agent. He’s the best pure point guard in the game, and the proof was him carrying a crappy Hornets team to two victories against LA.

Even a lemon twist can't keep Serge from BHC
atop the Serge Rankings.
 “Think you gonna get away with it? Not up in here!”
“Not up in here!”
-This postseason, Serge Ibaka has been blocking shots like it’s his job…. Come to think of it, it is his job, but he’s been doing it pretty damn well. He’s averaging over four blocks per game so far, including a nine block performance in the Thunder’s closeout game versus Denver that not only established him as maybe the most menacing shot blocker in the game, but also as the third best player on a championship contender. Ibaka has made quite a jump from last year where he played like a crazed super-athletic maniac who had no idea what to do on the court, to now establishing himself as a great defensive player with a quickly developing offensive game. The most important tidbit of information that has come out of Serge’s strong post season play is his new-found spot at the top of the rankings for the Greatest Serge’s of All-Time. Serge from Beverly Hills Cop has now been bumped to number two. Somewhere, Eddie Murphy is shaking his head in disgust.

“You hear that? The baby's name is Tyler.”
“Yeah, I thought he looked more like a Carlos too, bud.”
-Carlos Boozer definitely doesn’t look like Carlos this postseason. Luckily for him and his turf toe, Derrick Rose has been playing out of his mind, and we’ve already reached the over in how many times I would yell “You can’t leave the white guy open for three!!!!”

“You're such a bad person! Like, all the way through to your core!”
-To those who are involved with CBS who did not do everything humanly possible to retain Gus Johnson. The NCAA Tournament has lost a bit of its magic. It will never be the same.

“I keep forgetting about the goddamn tiger!”
-This quote I reserved for the Hawks after they upset Chicago in game one of the 2nd round because they are the team that just hangs around, and I’m not really sure how they are here. They play horrible team basketball. Their games are difficult to watch, and they have a tendency to get blown out while playing heartless. They are the metaphorical tiger in the bathroom, we aren’t sure how they got there, and after every one of their games you feel like you just got clocked by Mike Tyson.

“To a night the four of us will never forget!”
-And it may be the last “night” that the Celtics Big Four has. I’m not going to say that Boston can’t come back from a 2-0 deficit to win this series, and then go onto the finals. I have too much respect for their core players to say that they can’t. After all, they did just lose two road games, games that Miami was supposed to win. So why am I saying that this could be the last “night” they never forget? Because Garnett looks like he is on his last leg… literally. Pierce and Allen can’t carry the scoring burden like they have been able to in the past. The Perkins trade seemingly sent Rondo into a tailspin, and it’s not like they got the best of the trade either. Jeff Green didn’t really do too much to stop LeBron James in game two. Wasn’t that the purpose of the trade? To find someone to take some defensive pressure off of Paul Pierce, specifically in a series like this.
Game three is by far the biggest game of the series. Can Boston get back in the series with a win? I say yes. If they lose, does Miami get the sweep? I don’t think so. I can’t see this Boston team losing four straight games. Is LeBron James ready for the most ruthless crowd he has ever faced on a big stage? Honestly, I’m not sure. I sure as hell hope so. What kind of hit does LeBron’s legacy take if the Heat end up losing this series? A permanent and devastating one. One that myself, and LeBron will hear about for a while. I still think this series goes seven games, just because NBA fans deserve a classic seven game series that pits everything traditional about basketball (Boston) against everything that is modern about basketball (Miami).

"I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack."
-Is there a more obvious candidate for this quote than Kobe Bryant? The Lakers number two scoring option has been missing in action. My question of the day is do we know for sure that Andrew Bynum’s mention of trust issues isn’t legitimate? Here is my personal opinion on the Lakers: Kobe is pissed because nobody cares like he does, so he is forced to take a ton of shots. Pau, who is naturally passive, is terrified of Kobe who might strangle him if he doesn’t play more aggressive. Bynum is pissed because he is having his best offensive post season ever but not getting playing time down the stretch. Plus he’s playing on borrowed time since it’s probably only a matter of games until one of his knees shatter. Artest got a ring last year, so he is significantly less interested this year. Lamar Odom is getting less playing time in the playoffs this year than he ever has, so he isn’t happy either. Plus he has to live with the fact that he ended up with the least pretty of the Kardashian sisters. And Phil is already thinking about the first thing he is going to do once he retires. Still, I’m not willing to write the Lakers off even though they are down 3-0.

“Would you shut up and drive before these nerds ask me another question. Who's this?”
-Kobe Bryant, this is Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk, this is Kobe. You two have never met each other? That’s so weird. Have fun battling in the playoffs for the first time guys. Inexplicably, Dirk and Kobe, two of the 25 greatest players in league history (Yeah, Dirk is definitely in that category) have somehow managed to dodge each other in the playoffs over the last decade. Combined, they have won 1197 games in the last ten years, and haven’t played in the playoffs since 1988, when players were wearing nut-huggers.
The series has been swung by not just the play of Dirk Nowitzki, who has been spectacular, but also the outside shooting of everyone who isn’t German. The Mavericks are up 3-0. That is a seemingly insurmountable lead. But don’t forget who the two teams are. The Mavericks are notorious at choking away series’ and losing games they were supposed to win. The Lakers are the two time defending champs, and as I mentioned above, I am not counting them out. All I know is this, the legacies of Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki will both be altered based on what happens in this series. Kobe not being able to get a sixth ring cripples any “He’s as good as Jordan” argument. For Dirk, he can continue to move up the ladder with every big win he gets. If he gets a ring this year he automatically passes Barkley and Malone on the list of All-Time Power Forwards.

Calvin Borel will be looking for a
fourth Kentucky Derby victory.
 “I'll tell you another thing, 6 to 1 odds our car is beat to shit.”
-I’m going to take the current 9-1 odds on Twice the Appeal to win the 2011 Kentucky Derby. Riding Twice the Appeal is one of my favorite athletes, Calvin Borel, who gives as animated of a post-game interview as anyone in the sporting world. He was won 3 of the last 4 Kentucky Derby’s, so why not this year? Place: Mucho Macho Man, Show: Stay Thirsty.

“And we're the three best friends that anyone could have!”
-Here is Miami’s Three Best Friends by the numbers this postseason.
Wade: 25.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists
James: 25.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists
Bosh: 17.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists
Across the board, their numbers are pretty much the same as their regular season numbers with the exception of rebounds, where all three have upped their numbers. The statistical impact of the Big Three isn’t what has made Miami look like the best team in the playoffs thus far. It’s the fact that this is a team that for months has been criticized for their inability to play together, and right now through two games in the 2nd round, they are clicking just as well as any team in the playoffs. Their two games versus Boston have been extremely encouraging for me, someone who has been perhaps more critical of this team than anyone else. I have watched as much Heat basketball this year as anyone. I watched the Decision, the Welcoming Party, their Pre-Season games and just about all 82 of their regular season games. I am qualified from a knowledge standpoint to be writing for the Heat Index. For me to be able to say that right now, I feel more confident about Miami than I have all year is a tremendously exciting, and terrifying step. Wade and LeBron are becoming more cohesive on offense which is a visual orgasm at times, but it still disappoints me sometimes because LeBron James isn’t meant to be standing in the corner on offense as a decoy ever. Would I rather have LeBron doing the one-man show in Cleveland? Let’s see how the next month goes before I make that call.