After watching the first set of basketball games since seemingly light years ago, there was a definite contrast in the two games that were played this weekend. Sure, you might say in one, the underdog team finally won a game, whereas, in the other game, another laid down. Yes, you are correct. However, for the greater good of the league, and a key ingredient for any team that wishes to be worth a damn, take heed to what I saw in Sunday night's game vs. Saturday's.
Sunday's game had two teams willing to lay it on the line, whereas in Saturday's game there was only one.
I have a feeling that over the course of this off-season, Dwight Howard is going to receive his fair share of criticism on how he played during the 2010 NBA Playoffs. The man tabbed as "Superman" for his performance in the Slam Dunk Contest has been nothing but "Clark Kent" in the post-season. However, what was alarming wasn't the fact of him not having a consistent post move. Hell, we already knew that. It was the fact that he, the one dubbed the best big man in the league by many pundits (not me), has not been able to own the paint at all. Save from a few games in Atlanta, Howard hasn't been able to do it, not even in the Charlotte series. Boston's frontline has bullied him, he's never looked comfortable, and has no idea on Earth what he's supposed to do when he gets the ball down there.
That my friends, is a problem.
However, we can even look past that. We can look at Rondo's "Pete Rose slide" for the loose ball that was under Jason Williams legs in the 2nd quarter of last night's game. That's a phenomenal play. Why? Because it takes a lot of audacity for someone to do that. Past that, Pierce has owned the Magic's swingmen and has no fear of Barnes, Pietrus, and Wince Carter. Orlando has shown that the only two people on their team that plays with no fear is Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick. Yes, you heard me clearly on the Redick part.
In Sunday's game, Amare Stoudemire proved to us that he actually has a heartbeat. I'm not going to crown the man and give him as much praise as some have given him in the last 12 hours, but he played ball on the offensive end and made the Lakers' bigs pay. I guess that's all you can ask for from him, because he's clearly shown that he's not going to do that, by rebounding the ball and playing defense. Therefore, who is the most important people for Phoenix?
Robin Lopez and Jared Dudley.
We already know what Amare can
However, the moral of the story is this: it takes a mentally and physically tough team to win in the NBA. That's why when Ron Artest joined the Lakers, it made them truly scary. No one "feared" the Lakers; the blueprint was just that you've got to muscle them and be tougher. Ron changes that to a degree, however, I think Boston has more headcases (I'm looking at you Rasheed), and people that will mentally punch you in the mouth, that it makes Boston the cream of the crop when it comes to toughness. Let's hope all of this culminates in one tough-ass NBA Finals, where the two toughest teams in the NBA clash.
P.S. If you missed our live show, you can download our weekly podcast of "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" on the ETSF Radio Network, as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan!