Thursday, May 21, 2009
Behind The Scoreboard
Defending champs out
If you were tuned in to the national sports scene on the weekend then you know that there won’t be a triple crown winner in horse racing this season and there will not be a back to back in the NBA.
Mine that Bird (the name still bugs me) fell a couple of bridles short at Pimlico in the Preakness and the Boston Celtics came up 19 points shy of a second consecutive trip to the Eastern Conference finals. A 3-year-old filly thwarted Mine That Bird in Baltimore and a stubborn Orlando Magic team tripped up the Shamrock boys in Boston. That’s cold (losing a game seven at home court), even this time of year.
Now Lebron James and company have to interrupt their second consecutive celebratory mini-vacation and go back to work. Sir James (or King James in some circles), and the Cleveland Cavaliers should be more than ready to see if the Magic has enough tricks left to fool a team which had little difficulty in sending their first two playoff opponents home 4-0.
The Orlando bunch was in a brutal war with Boston. The defending champs were without Kevin Garnett. Garnett, coupled with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, was one big reason why the Celtics were the defending champs. But all of major sports know that when it gets to this point in the season, success or failure has to do with individual intestinal fortitude. Pierce is as steady as Gibraltar, but Allen has always been a “spurt” player, albeit at times a most effective spurt player. In the series with Chicago he hit the game winner in game two with a few seconds left and then ran wild in game six with a 51-point display. Allen doesn’t beat himself up over the inconsistencies. His philosophy: Sometimes it drops, sometimes it doesn’t.
I am not psychic, but I can feel that some of you are reading through the lines and finding some lamenting over the demise of the Celtics. And you would be right; however, it is simply because yours truly wanted to see the series between Boston and Cleveland.
Way out West, the Lakers had their mettle tested by the short-shrifted Houston Rockets. It has been said by this writer before that Los Angeles had been the odds on favorites to win this season’s grand prize. But there was a little doubt when the Rockets forced a decisive game seven. Although Kobe Bryant went to ride the oak late in the third quarter, the Lakers were well ahead by over 20 points. Again, other players showed up (like ex-Grizzlie Pau Gasol), to make sure the Rockets suffered a true flame-out.
The Lakers will meet the Denver Nuggets this week and Kobe has good reason to be wary. Yon Nuggets have a “lean and hungry look;” they haven’t been to a conference final in 24 years.
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