Some assorted thoughts on this year's playoffs:
- The Wright Pick: Whenever I watch New Orleans play, I can't help but be intrigued by the play of Julian Wright. Coming into the playoffs, the biggest knock on New Orleans was its lack of a bench, and while they acquired Bonzi Wells, they still were very thin, particularly up front. Wright's only played about 11 minutes a game, but he's made a huge difference defensively and offensively. He's probably the only player who has actually realized that Manu Ginobili is, in fact, left-handed, and should be forced to his right. Better yet, he's actually hitting the outside jumper, which was supposed to be the knock against him. I remember championing him as a very underrated prospect last year, and hoped against hope that he'd fall to the Wizards. Unfortunately, he didn't. Just imagine how much of an asset he would be on this team, who desperately needs a backup behind Caron.
- Want some cheese with that whine, Gregg: I've always respected the Spurs game, and always felt they got a bad reputation as a boring team. With guys like Parker and Ginobili, I don't see how you can be boring. I think the disdain for them comes from them being so good for so long. Still, I've grown very tired of Gregg Popovich in this playoffs. Whether it's the complaining over the fire incident in Game 1, or the general "Fuck you" attitude towards reporters, he's just come across as a creaky old man. But what pissed me off even more is that he said the Hornets ran a "organized playground" system. Really? First of all, Byron Scott is the Coach of the Year for a reason, and it's not because he just lets his players play. Second of all, the Hornets primarily run pick and rolls and isolations for Paul or David West. The Spurs? They mostly run pick and rolls and isolations for Ginobili or Duncan. I suppose the difference is that Duncan operates in the low post, while West is in the high post, but how is that any less of an "organized playground" system. Truthfully, both teams run intricate offenses, and neither runs an "organized playground."
- Role guys: As I see Cleveland push the Celtics to 2-2, I can't help but be shocked at how all their role players are playing over their heads. LeBron hasn't done much, yet all their other guys have played incredibly. It makes me wonder how they can be incorporated so seamlessly, while our rhythm gets messed up when our stars return. Also, I'm tired of people calling Mike Brown a bad coach. Does he struggle to run a system around LeBron? Definitely. But the Cavs defend like crazy, and it's not really Brown's fault that LeBron, despite being nearly 260 pounds, can't post me up.
- Capped-out Magic: Orlando's departure means the Southeast Division won't be represented in the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight season. It also gives me hope, because unless Otis Smith pulls a rabbit out of his hat, this might be the best Orlando has to offer in the future. About the only person from which we can expect internal development is Dwight Howard. Hedo Turkoglu isn't going to be any better than he was this season, and one could legitimately argue he was the only reason Orlando improved this season. What you see is what you're going to get with Rashard Lewis, and he's not going anywhere anytime soon. Meanwhile, Orlando still needs a power forward, a backup point guard, and another big, and their salary situation isn't getting better anytime soon.
- Home court: I'm honestly tired of hearing about the significance of home court in these playoffs. You know why it's making such a difference? Because these teams are very equal. You have a 57-win Lakers team playing a 54-win Jazz team with a high point differential in one semifinal. In another, you have two 56-win teams battling each other. The Celtics' road woes are confusing, but Cleveland is playing far better than a 45-win team right now, and the Celtics are playing far worse. When two teams are that equal in quality, something like the home court advantage is going to make a big difference. It doesn't mean that home court advantage, in and of itself, is suddenly becoming more significant.
- Note to Reggie Miller: The Hornets are not an up-and-down team .