Thursday, March 26, 2009

What does it all mean?

Last night was one of those fun nights where you don't quite know what to make of the results. One team beats another, and you naturally want to conflate some meaning going into the playoffs; but can you?

Celtics @ Magic

Close-knit win by the Magic, gaining them a leg up on the race to 2nd in the East. Bostonites might say, hey, we only had Kevin Garnett for 16 minutes in the 1st and 3rd quarters. True, but when Kevin was on the floor, the Celts were -10, and watching the game you didn't need to see that number to know it. The Celts allowed a few more forays to the basket than you're used to seeing by Rashard Lewis, Cortney Lee and the like. Is KG not yet up to game shape? Should we put more stock in the C's 4th quarter comeback? Or more stock in the fact that there probably wouldn't have been a comeback had it not been for the number of chippies and wide-open looks that the Magic missed throughout the game? The youngsters had ample opportunity at a number of stretches to pump the lead up to 20 points, easily; I can think of at least 4 blown layups off the top of my head. But then there's the Truth factor: the Mag had no measure of an answer for him. Then again, there is the Hedo factor: surely, surely, no one can expect this All-Star calibre player to have many more 3-18 games in him.

In the end, it probably all balances out, and a series between the teams would be a tough tough out for either. Now, if Jameer Nelson were healthy, it becomes an even tougher out for the Celtics. Either way, I think the young Mag end up gaining infinitely-valuable playoff experience this year. Going forward, with a healthy Nelson backed up by Rafer Alston and Anthony Johnson -- assuming the Magic get Hedo re-signed -- look out Eastern Conference. You're living on borrowed time.

Utah @ Phoenix

This was the game the Suns had to win. The Mavs were playing the Golden State Running Dubs, and, naturally, putting up points by the boatloads in an easy win. Somehow, someway, the Suns pulled out a victory. My Suns-fan friend had told me earlier in the day how well Grant Hill had been playing lately, and I got to see it 1st hand last night. He was very, very good, nice drives into the lane, hitting the mid-range jumper, etc. It was vintage Hill. And J-Rich was pretty good for long stretches too. So where does that leave us? Is Utah really as good as that 12-game stretch they ran off a couple weeks back? Or are they fit to really struggle to beat a team on the outside looking in at the race? Are the Jazz simply that much poorer of a team on the road?

That last one is the biggie. Their only hope to host a playoff series is to catch Denver and beat out Portland for the Northwest crown. And even then, it's only one playoff series. After their win streak, during which the only road games were against the dregs of the league, they started coming back down to Earth, with a big splash. Last night couldn't be too confidence-inspiring.

In any case, Phoenix has another tough test tonight, rolling into Portland to face another team that's fighting tooth and nail for playoff positioning. They then have to face the Jazz on Saturday, who will be licking their chops after two days off feasting on home cooking.

Milwaukee loses to...Toronto? Charlotte loses to...Washington??

Congratulations Chicago. Apparently the only other potential suitors for a date with the Cavaliers in the first round have already put on their pajamas and pimple cream and turned in for the night. I can't imagine how those teams ended up losing those games, but, I can't bear the thought of League-Pass-ing the games to find out how and why.

And why yes, I did just make up a new term: leaguepassing a game - verb - watching a re-run of a game on NBA League Pass. Yes it's corny, no it has no chance of sticking, but, well, for today, there you go.

Still not as bad as the HornuhBobcats losing a must-win game to the Wizards.

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