Playoff observations: Rose, Rondo put on another classic showdown
Observations and analysis of the NBA playoffs, which is all the Cleveland Cavaliers figure to be doing, too, for a few days now:
And just maybe, feeling a little like The Monkees when they were back in the dressing rooms, waiting while
We've seen great point-guard matchups in postseasons past, perhaps none better than when pals
It sure doesn't feel like it, four games into their give-and-take, parry-and-thrust in the Celtics-Bulls first-round series. The thrills in watching them so far are rivaled only by the showdowns imagined over the next 10 or 12 years in the Eastern Conference. Both were remarkable Sunday in yet another thriller in a series that will be tough even for Lakers-Cavaliers to beat.
All Rondo has done to this point is average a triple-double through the four games, including his performance in the double-overtime loss (25 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, one turnover). With
Oh, and it's probably safe to say now that Rondo no longer is in danger of having his psyche and confidence damaged by his bosses' decision to sign
Then there's Rose, separated from Rondo on Sunday only by his rookie-ish seven turnovers. But his 23 points, 11 boards and nine assists were even more valuable to his team, since the Bulls managed to win and even the series. After his historic playoff debut in Game 1 -- his 36 points as a true rookie matched the NBA high set by
As eager as so many of us are to get to the Finals and see the one-on-one clash we've been seeking for (let's be honest) years, I'm hoping the whole playoff schedule requires three more glimpses of Rondo-Rose.
• The way the officiating crew of
Their real-time reaction to
• Then again, maybe Davis deserved to be banished for the way he started the whole thing, blindly passing the ball right to Miller near his own basket rather than risk stepping or falling out of bounds with it. What your coaches preached in grade school, just as with the cross-court passes you see on a quarterly basis in this league, no longer applies.
• By the time Boston and Chicago settled their contest on Sunday, Cleveland was within about 26 game-clock minutes of sweeping Detroit and earning maximum rest before the second round. If ever the Celtics were in need of short series and lopsided victories, it's in these playoffs, with Garnett and
• Bulls forward
• The next time these teams get into a late-game situation, three points or fewer, Boston ball, Chicago coach
• Way back when the day began, near the end of the Celtics-Bulls game in Chicago, the teams combined for 15 points over the final three minutes of regulation, then 47 more in the two overtime periods, and it was good. Tremendous even. Then, at the end of the night Sunday, the Rockets and the Trail Blazers scraped together just nine points over the final 3:24. And their Game 4, too, was tremendous.
There was Houston's work on the offensive glass to set up second chances, chew up the clock and frustrate Portland's game of catch-up. There was coach
There were mistakes, too, a staple of pressurized postseason play. When old guys make them, they're seen as a sign of aging. When young guys like the Blazers make them, it's assumed to stem from inexperience. Sometimes, though, they're just mistakes. Like
• Yao might have a little to do with this, but Portland sure has trouble generating any sort of inside game.
• Artest, who had a team-high nine assists, has changed his body as much as anyone -- any body, I guess -- since showing up in Chicago out of St. John's. Watching the strongman back down Roy and make steady progress despite Roy bumping him one, two, three times in the second quarter was a reminder of just how brawny the Rockets' forward has become.
• Is it possible to advance too quickly, losing your edge and accumulating rust while other teams duke it out, stay focused and stay in rhythm for the second round? That's about the only challenge facing the Cavaliers, after dispatching the Detroit Pistons in four yawners.
• Detroit's jump-shooting proclivities and its defensive troubles caused a stunning mismatch in free-throw dynamics in the series: The Pistons, as a team, attempted 58 foul shots and made 48. Cleveland was 97-of-125 from the line, with
• What was a 66-16 regular-season record for the Cavs now is a 70-16 mark overall, with a goal of 82 victories to earn the championship trophy.
• The natural parallel for the Pistons is the Atlanta Braves, a franchise that sustained excellence for a decade and a half yet, like Detroit, broke through for just one victory. The Braves reached the postseason 11 years in a row and in 14 of 15 seasons, but the only time champagne flowed after their final out was in 1995. That October, Atlanta beat Cleveland in six games, with pitcher
• Just because Detroit as an organization is ready for renovation and reinvention, some of its parts still have life in them.
If ever there was a late-game situation to entrust
So naturally, Van Gundy has
At least the final play wasn't a pick-and-roll, the set in which Orlando had been successful lately in stymieing Turkoglu with extra defenders. Philadephia had been so effective in frustrating him that Turkoglu was getting resigned to being a passer in this best-of-seven series. Now he's got a best-of-three in which to return as a scorer.
• The Philadelphia team that dug out of its fourth-quarter hole Sunday was the Philadephia team we came to know in the regular season: A quick, push-the-ball unit that did better without
• The two Andres, Iguodala and Miller, combined for 139 points in the first three games and had five performances of 20 points or more in six tries (Miller scored 15 in the opener). But this time, they scored 13 and 17 points respectively, getting much tighter coverage.
• Did you see
• Maybe it's just me, but Philadelphia's