Thursday, April 26, 2007
Well, all the votes are in. The final selection was made on last Wednesday. All the stages in eight different locations have been set and the NBA playoffs have begun. There were some surprises in the early first round along with some recriminations.
Not unlike yours truly, most of the world was probably watching to see how the Chicago Bulls would handle Shaq and company. If one were outside the sold-out United Center on Saturday, one would probably surmise that there was a second coming of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and what was the name of that wildman who played defense for them (Dennis Rodman)?
The cacophonous din emanting from the raucous crowd only got worse when the Bulls took an 11- point lead in the third quarter and both Shaq and Dwyane Wade were exiled to the bench with five fouls each. Wade was not 100 percent, having had to sit out 23 regular season games because of a shoulder injury. But the Heat didn’t say die. They mounted a comeback and were grinding it out until Shaq was banned by his sixth foul.
Afterward the Heat’s giant leveled shots at the officials, naming one in particular, saying that he was being punitive in his calls.
In the end it wasn’t the Bulls’ $60 million dollar acquisition (Ben Wallace) who doused the Heat, it was names little heard during the season like Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni. These two led a supporting cast which did not let up throughout the whole game. The resurging Bulls made their opening round statement, but remember, there are six more to go.
The surprise came when the Golden State Warriors made the playoffs. Somehow they slipped in under the radar and were the last team selected. Unless I am wrong (which isn’t very likely), they entered with a below five hundred regular season record. They went on to defeat THE Texas team (Dallas Mavericks), sending shock waves all over the Western Conference. The Warriors hadn’t made the playoffs in 12 years and hadn’t won a playoff game in 16. Think the Mavs are going to take this? Not a safe bet.
It appears that the players to watch will be not so much the well- known stars, but the lesser known supporting cast. Anyway, it would seem that this has been the season for great basketball. At all levels.
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