Even for overwhelming favorites -- like Boston last season, Dallas two years ago -- "advancing" is the endgame for the first round. Don't worry about sweeping the opponent, or dominating the action. Just move on. Just advance to the next stage of play.
The Lakers did that Monday, knocking out the Jazz in Game 5. Mission: accomplished, at least for the first round. But it must have been pretty difficult to ignore what the West's No. 2 team (Denver) had done to New Orleans earlier in the night. The Lakers did their job, but the Nuggets did a job on the Hornets, and potentially the psyche of the rest of the conference.
The Nuggets still have to beat the Hornets again, but it's extremely hard to imagine New Orleans mortally puncturing Denver's armor of confidence at this point. Even further, the Lakers draw the winner of the Houston-Portland series (which the Rockets lead 3-1) next -- the Nuggets would be weeks away. But again: a 58-point road playoff win is not ignorable. You don't look past that, not when said team likely stands between you and the Finals.
The specter of facing a sky high Denver team might galvanize the Lakers, or it could frighten them. Each individual will react differently -- Kobe, for instance, is afraid of no one
We have a ton of great basketball before we get there, and obviously no punched tickets to the conference finals. But should it come to pass, I'm eager to see how each team reacts to one another.
I'm not a proponent of book burnings. But if someone ever gets ahold of the game plan the Nuggets have consulted to shut down Chris Paul, can you light it on fire? We as NBA fans deserve better than to watch a heroic performer drop four points, six assists, six turnovers in a crucial game.
And while you're hunting books, find out why Lamar Odom so dominates the Jazz. That'd be 26 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in Game 5. Well done, sir.
Your money is no good here, Mr. O'Neal.
On the Blockquote
I've watched almost every minute of Hornets Basketball for about five years now - excepting games where my transmission (or TIVO skills) failed. I saw every game of the 18-64 season, and even in blowout losses, I don't turn games off in the fourth.
The game is still going on right now. TIVO isn't recording. I'm not going to watch. I'm sure tomorrow it's more than likely we'll see all sorts of horrible stats about the game - least points scored ever, worst margin of loss, etc, etc. All I know is that won't really express how hard that game was to watch, and I can't even bring myself to try to write observations about the thing.
Zaza is a temptress. 12 points, 18 rebounds, 2 steals, and only one Zaza-esque turnover. The man was a machine. I yelled "Shrimp Boat" more times in the last four hours than I have yelled in my entire life. It was this equal parts Zaza toughness (which is its own category) and a disrespect by the Heat.
Forum Blue & Gold:
Not everything was pretty about how the Lakers beat the Jazz - unless you enjoy giving up leads just to live dangerously - but in the end just about everybody on the planet said the Lakers in five and the Lakers won in five. They looked dominant at times doing it, and the bench was alternately fantastic and frustrating.