A couple weeks ago I got together with a buddy of mine Batman, and between a six pack of Carlton Cold while taking care of five rugrats – successfully ensuring no broken bones or setting of furniture alight – we analysed the upcoming NBA playoffs and put together our own playoff bracket.
With the playoffs now at the Conference Final stages our picks are more or less redundant. I will fess up though and say Batman was far more successful with his picks. Stupidly I thought Shaq would have an impact for the Celtics against the Heat. To quote Slade the Blade…"what a d#ckhead!!!"
Anyway, with both conferences tied at a game apiece, here’s my recap of the NBA Playoffs to date, highlighting my favourite 19 moments (in no particular order). If you’re wondering why 19 moments…ask a Liverpool fan. Although I’m not sure Scousers can count that high:
1. The Mighty Memphis Grizzlies: Behind the stellar post play of Zac Randolph and his bruise brother Marc Gasol, the Memphis Grizzlies put a fork in the San Antonio Spurs and potentially the Tim Duncan Era. It’s rare that an eight seed wins in the playoffs. Rarer still when pitted against a championship tested team of veterans like the Spurs. After securing the leagues best record the Spurs faded quickly, with the superstar trio of Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker unable to match the youth, length and athleticism of the hungry Grizzlies. Which begs the question…has the window closed for the best power forward in NBA history?
2. Sweep: I’ll admit I tipped the Lakers to three-peat again. I thought they were a lock to make the Finals. However the Dallas Mavericks had other ideas. The Big D took it to the dysfunctional Lakers and put on a basketball clinic. Backed by only one legit superstar the imperious Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs took teamwork to another level. Their trademark ball movement was in-synch as they tore apart the defending champions, leaving Black Mamba Kobe Bryant still one ring shy of Mr. Jordan
3. Is it a Bird? Jumping ahead to Game One of the Western Conference Finals. How ridiculously amazing was that performance by Dirk. 48 points off 15 shots. Only three misses. No treys. 24 from 24 at the charity stripe. Off the f#cken charts!!! As a seven foot white guy who shoots the three, Dirk has long lived in the shadow of (unfair) comparisons to Larry Bird. This performance not only stamped his own greatness, but laid the platform for a legacy in line with Larry the Legend
4. The shoulder bone is connected to the elbow bone: In one of those “the human body isn’t supposed to bend that way” moments, Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo dislocated his elbow against the Miami Heatles. He lay on the floor in excruciating pain. Teammates who rushed to his aid looked visibly sick when they saw the damage. Off course Rondo came back later in the game and inspired his team to a gutsy win over a hot Heat outfit. Talk about inspirational. He may not be able to shoot for sh#t, but he’s a hard nut
5. Taj Gibson over D-Wade http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmN-MIbvLks
6. Comeback King: Every now and again sport will deliver one of those spine tingling moments that will live with fans forever. These playoffs are no exception. Brandon Roy scored 18 fourth quarter points to lead the Portland Trailblazers to an amazing comeback against the Mavs. After multiple knee reconstructions the career of Brandon Roy has been on a precipice. If he can produce performances like this off the bench he’s definitely got a major part to play for a contending team http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGgFySE-x4k
7. What an animal: I don’t like the guy but Amar’e Stoudemire is a beast http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94TMgp0xNhI&feature=related
8. An instant classic: The OKC Thunder and Grizzlies fought out a classic that went three overtimes deep and included a number of buzzer beating threes. This is what keeps basketball fans coming back http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJpsUNsgAXk
9. D-Rose…I questioned whether he was the league MVP. Highlights like this shut me up quick smart http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kszk_UpjTGg
10. I just love a good block: Dwight Howard shows why he’s the best defensive player on the planet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcNfWXjWoeg
11. Payback time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUlU70pjq-A
12. Killer crossover Part One: D-Wade showing KG how the young brigade does it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMEAYXx-A9U
13. Killer crossover Part Two: CP3 letting Kobe know he’s getting old too http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3Zgg5iZfGU
14. Bigger than the NBA: The Queen of US TV Oprah Winfrey put the NBA Playoffs on hold so that she could film her show finale. Pretty impressive. And here I thought her popularity was just a fad
15. Handbags at ten paces version 1: Things always get a little heated in the playoffs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoU5lLtpcuo
16. Version 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrePcPY9vE0
17. Cheap shot artist: After getting blown out of the park by the red hot Mavs, LA’s Andrew Bynum did his best impersonation of a WWE superstar with a cheap shot on little JJ Barea, followed by some theatrics when leaving the court http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3q6eHHeffU
18. Three point clinic: Peja Stojakovic leads a three point show against the hapless Lakers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gl89gOnSpEs
19. Saving the best till last: I just can’t get enough of this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZSKL9pYz4I