* The Lakers were swept. The Lakers were swept by the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki and the infamously choking Dallas Mavericks. C’mon, if you say you saw this one coming, you’re either lying, or you’re far more of a basketball genius than me and most other b-ball fanatics, because I don’t know anyone who predicted such an outcome. I’m still in shock. The Mavs not only swept the Lakers, they completely embarrassed them in the fourth game. It’s just too bad Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum had to be such punks, because this is probably Phil Jackson’s last game as a coach, and he deserved to go out on a better note than that. I used to like Odom, but I’ve lost all respect for him, and I lost whatever little respect I had for Bynum, who I always suspected was a punk since he’s made some cheap moves before, but not on the kind of level as that dangerous and despicable mid-air elbow to 5’10” Barea. With jerks like that, I’m all the more happy they lost since I’ve never been a Lakers fan anyway, but I do feel bad for Phil and the others who didn’t stoop to such lows.
* As a Thunder fan, I’m greatly annoyed by Russell Westbrook. After getting criticized by Barkley, Magic, and others for not getting guys involved enough, he teases for three quarters by playing unselfishly before stinking up the joint and jacking up stupid shots in the fourth quarter en route to an epic collapse and Thunder loss Saturday. Of course, you can’t blame it all solely on one guy, but it’s evident now that he has a LONG way to go in his decision-making before he reaches Rondo, Paul, Kidd, Nash, etc. territory. The one positive from that loss? The Thunder’s defense is MUCH improved. It’s just too bad for them that the Grizzlies have the momentum and are only two wins away from wrapping up the series. If the Mavericks’ sweep is the biggest surprise, the Grizzlies’ lead on OKC isn’t far behind. Can you believe Memphis might make the Western Conference Finals? What a crazy playoffs!
* The Eastern Conference is almost as crazy with the Hawks tying up the Bulls. After Rose’s huge 44 point performance in game three, he looked more like Russell Westbrook in game four, forcing brick after brick as other players stood around and watched. The Hawks, on the other hand, had great execution and movement down the stretch with Josh Smith and Jeff Teague sharing roles as facilitators and playmakers. Teague has really broken out in the playoffs, incidentally – I barely knew anything about the guy before this month, but he’s making the Hawks not miss Kirk Hinrich in the slightest. With his speed and poise, he’s a tough match-up for anyone, and it’s nice for him that he has guys like Smith, Johnson, Horford, and Crawford to feed when he can’t get a shot.
* Rondo’s heroic return from a nasty shnasty elbow injury was indeed inspiring in that Willis Reed type of way, but it might have overshadowed some other interesting tidbits from the last Celtics-Heat game, namely Kevin Garnett squashing Chris Bosh like an ant, and Paul Pierce showing again that he still has enough in the tank for dominating performances.
* The playoffs are fun as heck. With the Bulls showing weaknesses and the Lakers out of the mix now, I have no fricking clue who will win this thing. Stern will cringe if we end up with a Grizzlies-Hawks Finals, but hey, anything looks possible at this moment, and for real fans, I’m pretty darn excited about the way things are going now. What’s fun about blowouts if they aren’t in your team’s favor anyway? Even if my Thunder get stomped by the Grizzly bears, I don’t want to miss much of this playoff action at all. Open-ended competition in sports is always cool by me.