Saturday, May 3, 2008

Scraps from the Dinner Table

(Is poor little paullie piercey saddy waddy?)

So I didn't get a chance to see the Hawks-Celtics game last night, which is disgraceful. What was I thinking? Solidarity, people. Solidarity. There are so many aspects of this series that get me amped. First, the sheer possibility of the Celtics losing is sublime. Mostly I just think about how pissed off David Stern would be, and nothing, I tell you nothing, makes me happier than when things don't go according to Stern's plans. With that in mind, its important to remember that the Hawks will not only have to defeat the Celtics in Boston to take the series, but the ever-menacing Stern button, which I can assure you will be out of the box and ready for use.

That being said, a lot has already been revealed about these two teams. Even when they nab the inevitable home victory, the Celtics are going to take a good bit of psychological damage away from this one. I can assure you LeBron right now is sitting quietly in his mansion, surrounded by his lions, yearning for the opportunity to go all Ivan the Terrible on their asses (I am gonna go ahead and say right now that "going all Ivan the terrible on someone's ass" is never, ever going to catch on. Nor should it).

As far as the Hawks go, sure a victory would put me on Cloud Nine, not to mention the euphoria that would overtake the city of Atlanta, but even here, at the eleventh hour, it remains hard to envision. No matter what happens, the Hawks have made their statement. My favorite thing about their victories are the simplicity with which they are achieved. And by simplicity, I mean the simplicity of Woodson's game plan. The emotional character of this series strikes me as quite complicated. But Woodson runs simple, straight forward sets that allow his players to use their athleticism, rather than trying to outwit Garnett and Tom Thibodeau's defensive schemes (notice how I didn't give credit to Doc Rivers there? Slick, huh?). I am just plain old excited to see what these boys can do in the next few seasons.

To wrap this up I wanted to say a few more things about the Spurs-Hornets: As people have talked more and more about the similarities between these two teams (take a look at their comparative seasons stats, its like they just copied and pasted), its become clear to me that if I had to lose to a team, I would want it to be the Hornets. Now, I typically restrain from harboring any sympathies for division opponents, but in this instance I will make an exception. It can all be explained by a very simple metaphor:

In every (basketball playing) father's life there comes a point where you play your son or daughter in one-on-one, and they are actually good enough to beat you. You are no longer letting them win. And obviously something about that moment brings out uncomfortable emotions. Questions about your age, athleticism,etc... But there also is an undeniable sense of pride. And for me I look at this New Orleans team and I feel pride. They are built in the Spurs image, and they have used our formula to put together one hell of a basketball team. Now, I will note that I don't believe the time for the Hornets to surpass us has come just yet. As I've said before I believe the Spurs are gonna win this series. But as a Spurs fan, I have spent the last 5 or so years immersed in the cultural wars that rage between lovers of "run-and-gun" ball and those who rely on a physical, defense first approach. I wouldn't say this New Orleans team is truly a "defense first" squad (although they do play excellent defense), but I will say right now that if I were to see those made in our own image succeed, even if it is at our own expense, it would not be a total loss. (N.B. this is not an elegy for the Spurs. We obviously are playing great ball right now, and there is no reason to think we can't win this series as well as another title. I'm just anticipating an emotion I could easily see myself having in a couple of years).

P.S. If you're looking for a unique take on the Spurs-Hornets, look no further.

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