Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Even-up out West

Well, despite the Suns's blowout win over the Mavs tonight (Raja Bell for MVP!), I still think the Mavs take the series. After two previous seven-game series for the Suns, I think the third time's the un-charm. Assuming Dallas takes the next game at home and holds court, the Suns will need to go seven again to make it to the next and final round, and I just don't think they have it in them. Of course, I could be wrong. Steve Nash seems to be making a habit of making liars out of people. And, um, we are all witnesses.

Meanwhile, out East, we are perhaps witnessing the death of an almost-dynasty. If the Pistons do lose, is it vindication for Larry Brown? Or would this have happened even if he had stayed, and he just knew when to bounce? (Then again, he went from the frying pan into the toilet, so maybe I'm giving him too much credit.)

I like to think that the Pistons just ran into the wrong team at the wrong time. Since last year at this time, when Dwyane Wade went down and the Heat fell to these same Pistons, everything has been building to this series. The re-match for the ages. Is it any wonder that Wade is shooting 60 percent from the floor, that Shaquille O'Neal is prancing like a brash rookie? Once again a legendary coach will reach the Finals from the East, only this time it will be Pat Riley instead of Larry Brown.

Assuming the Heat and the Mavericks make the Finals (which would be an entertaining matchup, to be sure), either one would make an intriguing NBA champion. If it's the Heat, Riles finally gets one for the thumb, Shaq goes one-up on Kobe (and leads a third team to the Finals), and GP gets his belated Diesel-powered ring (and I suppose Zo justifies, at least to himself, his escape from New Jersey). If it's the Mavs, it's all about Mark Cuban, NBA champion. Will he finally leave the officials alone? Will his blog take over the entire internet? Will he offer to trade franchises with James Dolan in order to take on a bigger challenge? (Dream, Knick fans, dream.) Will David Stern just toss him his ring from across the court? The thought of Keith Van Horn with a ring isn't exactly comforting—and the reality of it would probably give guys like Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley nightmares for decades. Could be worse, though. Could be Tim Thomas.

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