As this year's playoffs progressed, it became increasingly clear that no one outside of San Antionio and Detroit wanted to see either the Spurs or Pistons in the NBA Finals. "No more boring Finals!!" the world demanded, and David Stern responded. We got two popular teams with likable players and a promise of high scores and even higher drama. Everything was perfect. Until the series actually started, that is.
This year's NBA Finals is suffering from what I refer to as "The Phantom Menace Effect." High expectations have given way to anger, shame, and something with the general smell and consistency of rat feces. The worst parts of this game are desribed below:
1. The first quarter
With about six minutes to go, the score was 11-8...and things didn't get any better. That quarter was like watching a Special Olympics competition after all the contestants got liquored up on cough syrup. And if you've ever watched a nine year-old drunk retarded boy hop around in a potato sack, you know what I'm talking about. The quarter ended 18-17, and it was most painful 12 minutes of basketball I've watched since, well, last year's NBA Finals (the second quarter of Game 1 also ended 18-17). Ugh.
2. Shaq's (non)attack
After Shaq's disappointing 17 point/9 rebound performance in Game 1, sentient beings from across the universe were crying out for the Heat to get The Big Not Getting Enough Shots more involved. In fact, the U.S. Government even received the following communique from the Jupiter 2:
The Robot went berzerk. It destroyed most of our critical systems and killed both Will and Penny. We are surviving on minimal life support, and today we were forced to eat Dr. Smith. But don't worry about us. Please make sure Pat Riley gets Shaq more shots. Major John West out.The one thing everybody knew going into Game 2 was that Shaq was going to go balls out. Most of us thought something along the lines of a 30/20 would be forthcoming. And, with a resident coaching genius and a budding superstar ready and willing to force the ball in to him, the idea that Shaq might spring for 40+ didn't sound out of the question. The sky was the limit, or so it seemed.
Instead we had to watch The Old Crappy score a playoff career low five points (on 2-for-5 shooting, including 1-for-7 from the line) to go along with a measley six rebounds. It wasn't just a low point for the Heat or the NBA, it was a low point in the history of Western Civilization. And now we have to read about how Erick Dampier (6 points on 2-for-3 shooting and 13 rebounds) totally outplayed Shaq. No wonder he wouldn't talk to the press last night.
3. Dwayne Wade
The clamor of the "Is He Better Than Lebron?" crowd has quieted down considerably. Last night, Wade was 6-for-19 and had four turnovers. He did have eight rebounds, though, which was two more than Shaq had.
4. Sweep predictions
Now that Dallas has won the first two games in convincing fashion, most people are predicting that Miami might get swept, or, at best, will win only one game. Have any of these people ever actually watched the NBA Finals? Last year, San Antonio won the first two games by scores of 84-69 and 97-76. The dominated the Pistons in every conceivable way, and everybody was predicting a sweep then, too. Not only did the Pistons win the next two games, they pushed the series to seven. So trust me when I tell you, Miami will not get swept. In fact, I'm personally guaranteeing a Heat victory in Game 3. My prediction for the rest of the series goes thusly: Miami wins a tough Game 3, Dallas wins a tough Game 4, Miami wins big in Game 5, and Dallas wins handily in Game 6. And Alonzo Mourning will cry at some point.
5. That veteran savvy, part 2
Gary Payton: 1-for-4, two points, four assists.
Jason William: 3-for-10, 11 points, four assists.
Antione Walker: 8-for-16 for 20 points. He actually had a pretty good night. But why did he get three times as many shot attempts as Shaq did??
6. Watchability (or the lack thereof)
Some friends forced me to watch an ECW Wrestling pay-per-view event, and as a result I missed a lot of the game. I was pissed at the time, but, considering how the game turned out, I'm actually kind of glad I spent that time watching a bunch of old fat guys setting each other on fire and strangling each other with barbed wire. Kind of.