Monday, May 08, 2006

Fake Playoffs: The Quarter Finals.

Time for Round 2 of the Fake Playoffs. (The Fake Playoffs are matchups based on the premis that there is no divisions or conference in basketball. Just seed everyone one through sixteen, they giddy up!)

Something interesting to only me, probably, and frankly, I have no idea how this happened: Seven of the teams that are stil alive in the real playoffs are alive in the Fake Playoffs as well. The lone exception: the Lakers are into Round 2 of the Fake Playoffs (must not have been a 7 game series. Ba-zing!). The team that is out: the Nets, who, ironically enough, lost to the Lakers. OK, enough of that - onto the matchups!

(1) Pistons
(9) Clippers

Hell of a second round matchup, no? This has a legit chance of being a Finals matchup in the "real" playoffs.

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Who will advance: Pistons or Clippers?
Detroit Pistons L.A. Clippers

(4) Suns
(5) Heat

A slow, grind it out, typical playoff series. Both teams have excellent perimeter defenses - expect low point totals, but clinics on how to play D at the NBA level.

Who will advance: Suns or Heat?
Miami Heat
Phoenix Suns
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(3) Mavs
(6) Cavs

Nos. 2 and 3 in the MVP voting go head to head. If it comes down to better head coaches, Mike Brown is a lock. Wait - dumb looks on your face at all times is a bad thing? Oh. Better go with the other guy then.

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Who will advance: Mavs or Cavs?
Dallas Mavericks Cleveland LeBrons

(2) Spurs
(10) Lakers

Kobe is guarded by Bruce Bowen, somehow who "really makes him think out there." And doesn't clothesline him, either.

Who will advance: Lakers or Spurs?
San Antonio Spurs
L.A. Team Players
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23 > 8 (and 24).

Well, you can stop the MJ comparisons now.

There is a ton of uncertainty surrounding Kobe after he took only three shots in the second half of the Lakers/Suns Game 7, but one thing is now abundantly clear. He's not the next Michael Jordan.

Anyone even vaguely familiar with basketball knows exactly what would have happened if that would have been MJ wearing that purple number 8 Friday night. MJ would have lit Raja Bell up for 55 and advanced his team to the playoffs, strategy be damned. He would have owned Raja Bell, to the point that it was better for the Suns that Raja not even be in the game. Even if Phil had MJ convinced he needed to involve his teammates, MJ would have scored his and found a way to get the W. Its as simple as that.

What was Kobe thinking, shooting only three times in the second half? Sure, he scored 23 in the first and all it got his team was a 15-point hole. But the main reason the Lakers were down by so many was because no one in a Laker uniform could throw in the ocean. (Well, that and that fact that their defense was biddy-league bad. I mean, the pick and roll D was pointless; whoever set the screen knew they were getting a layup. All they had to worry about was choosing between layup or dunk, because the help D was no where to be found. And Leondro Barbosa dribbled through the Laker defense without being even mildly challenged. If Smush Parker is on an NBA roster next season, consider me stunned.) What better time to start gunning than when everyone one of your teammates can't buy a bucket? Sometimes Plan A doesn't work. There is a reason for Plan B, yes?

And yea, I understand that the Lakers probably weren't going to win unless they got above average contributions from a number of people, and they weren't getting them. But it was the way Kobe went about not shooting that was troublesome. He almost looked disinterested, like it was a lost cause not worth his time or energy. Why not penetrate a little, get some teammates some easy buckets? Why not post up, force a double team and get some open looks from 3? Why not try to create some offense yourself? WHY NOT SHOOT OH, I DON'T KNOW, FOUR TIMES? For all intents and purposes, Kobe became a role guy, someone to reverse the ball: he wasn't even a threat. Total FGAs isn't the problem; the reason for the low FGAs is.

So Kobe isn't the next MJ. Big deal. He's not the greatest player ever to touch a ball - doesn't mean he still isn't great. But it makes you wonder what exactly motivates Kobe.

Kobe, at least to me, seems very sensitive. He has said nearly every time he's been asked that Raja Bell doesn't concern him. Kobe "has bigger fish to fry" and he "can score on Raja any times he wants" and he doesn's consider him in the same class as an Artest or a Bowen. But you know what? We know that, Kobe. Really we do. We heard you the first time - and every time after that. We know you can score whenever. We know you are better than Raja Bell. Just do it then, alright? You sound like someone who claims they are over an ex, but then won't stop talking about how much they hate them. If he's not big deal, why talk about him to such an extent? Thou protest a bit too much, Bean.

What about his Raja Bell comments? Calling him "this kid" and "maybe he wasn't hugged enough as a kid." What are you talking about? I get that you are trying to demean him, but resorting to calling out his, necessary? Kobe's life was so hug filled, apparently, in between his pickup games on the streets of Philly, where, he delighted in telling us time and time again, he grew up and played in some brutal pickup games. The games were so brutal, apparently, that Raja's take down of Kobe was nothing, at least not to him. I just find myself wondering where Kobe found time for these games on the playground while being raised in Europe?

And his reaction to the chant from the Suns' crowd was even more telling. When the fan's started an impromptu "Kobe sucks!" chant, Kobe held up a cupped hand to his ear and made a frowning face, implying, "What? I can't hear you." But the message he sent was just the opposite. Everyone knew Kobe heard it loud and clear, and everyone saw just thow much it bothered him. When does a player ever acknowledge boos or negative chants? Ever? Why give the fans that kind of fire power?

Kobe just seems way to sensitive. Every little thing bothers him. And I don't know why this bothers me so much - maybe because of how damned good he is, and how much I want to like him, but just can't. I really do try to like him, and I think he's the best player on whatever court he steps on. But his sensitivy kills me. Its unbearable. And he's so contrived, I can't stand it.

Alright, that's it. That's the last thing I'm writing about Kobe Bean Bryant. Until next season, at least.

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