THE OTHER EYE OF THE HAWK
Boston’s aura of invincibility was shattered over the past two games by the young, athletic, carefree Hawks, a team that nearly everyone thought would get swept in the first round. Josh Smith has earned himself a large, long-term contract with his performance and Mike Woodson’s job might have been spared.
In all probability, the Celtics and Pistons will put away their pesky underdogs before reaching an all-or-nothing Game 7. Boston and Detroit are teams that are supposedly built for the playoffs but they’re built to play the serious contenders, not quicker understudies with experienced point guards who have nothing to lose.
At halftime of Game 4 in the Pistons-Sixers series, one of the other beat writers turned to me and asked if I was going to bury them. I said, ‘I’ll give them one more half.’ I couldn’t believe they would keep playing that way and that Billups and Hamilton would continue to shoot like Big Ben on tranquilizers.
After watching the first two minutes of the second half from my press row seat, I said out loud to no one in particular, ‘That’s the team I’ve been covering all season.’ I knew after seeing back-to-back 3s by Billups and Sheed, their confidence was back and they were going to win.
Looks like McDyess is a sixth man again but I don’t know if they can do that in the conference semis (OK, if they MAKE the semis). Orlando’s big frontcourt might require a bigger body than Maxiell’s from the start.
Conventional wisdom in the Western Conference playoffs has held up in the first round (Of course, I was a contrarian and picked the Suns). The Lakers and Spurs appear to be on a collision course and that would be a terrific slugfest.
The only surprise has been the poise of the Hornets, who are playing just as effectively as they were during the regular season. Explosive, frisky Chris Paul has destroyed Jason Kidd, reinforcing the stupidity of the Mavs’ trade with the Nets. At least with Devin Harris, Dallas might have had a fighting chance of defending Paul.
The only Western playoff club that has more issues than the Mavs are the Nuggets, who were easily swept out of the playoffs. The Melo-AI-Karl trio is a toxic mix and needs to be broken up.
Anthony is the league’s most fraudulent superstar - gets pulled over for allegedly drinking and driving right before the playoffs, calls everyone on his team and his coach quitters when they go down 3-0 and blows layup after layup. I’m still wondering how he led Syracuse to a national championship as a freshman.