Round 1 thoughts

April, 24, 2008
04/24/08
12:35
PM ET

We're two games into each series and all but one are 2-0 … so maybe that first round won't be as exciting as we thought. Nonetheless, we've seen the tide in many series shift once the underdog gets home court, and maybe that will be the case again this year.

In the meantime, we have some random loose ends to tie together before I head to Denver for Games 3 and 4 of the Lakers-Nuggets series, so let me deal with them point by point:

• I was a bit surprised by all the angry letters I received from Utah fans regarding my piece on Game 2 of the Rockets-Jazz series. As part of their quest to overtake Toronto for the title of the league's most sensitive fans, the Jazz fans wondered how I could write such a Houston-centric column after Game 2 instead of focusing on the Jazz ending their road woes by beating Houston to all the important loose balls.

Actually, there was a really good reason -- it was my assignment. Tim Buckley of the Deseret News was at the game writing from the Utah end, and his take appeared in the same edition of the Daily Dime as my column. The editors decided to lead with the Houston angle because the Rockets were a big story this year with the 22-game win streak, and it might be our last chance to talk about them (which is hardly the case with the Jazz). It was not part of an effort to deny the Jazz credit.

• Those same letters from Utah fans also felt I overplayed the offensive foul call on Luis Scola in the final minute, but it was a crucial play and the Rockets were absolutely furious about it afterward.

However, there's one important clarification I need to add: I had said in my story that it wasn't Tony Brothers' call, but a league spokesmen told me that isn't true. The word straight from Stu Jackson is that it was absolutely Brothers' call to make. Of course, now we have to wonder even more loudly why he didn't seem to be looking at the play.

• Obviously we've talked a lot about Chris Paul this week, in part because he's scored 67 points in two games. One reason his scoring numbers are up may be that he's making shots that he didn't always convert during the regular season. In particular, he's shown uncanny accuracy on jumpers and runners in the lane in the first two games.

"He's made his in-between jumpers this series," said Dirk Nowitzki after Game 2. "I haven't really seen him make it that consistently but he's made them this series so far."

• Hey, remember when Dallas had a bench?

One side issue with the Kidd trade is that they also dealt DeSagana Diop, and the Mavs are now down to seven useful players. Fading vets like Malik Allen, Eddie Jones and Devean George are giving them nothing, and the Mavs seriously need to rethink their obsession with 34-year-old veteran role players this offseason.

One thing that might help is if Tyronn Lue gets back into the mix -- he missed Game 2 with tightness in his lower back, but he's the Mav who might have the best chance of staying in front of Chris Paul.

• Just saying: If Andrea Bargnani hadn't been the first overall pick, would he even be in the rotation right now? Rasho Nesterovic and Kris Humphries both have seriously outperformed Bargnani on the season, and in this series in particular you have to think Humphries' physicality in the paint would be much more helpful than having Bargnani loaf around the perimeter.

• Yes, Kobe scored 49, but we already knew he was good. What the Lakers have to be particularly pleased about is the play of Luke Walton. He endured a rough regular season and lost his starting job to Vladimir Radmanovic, but he's averaged 17 points and five assists in the first two games of the Denver series.

His movement and passing have been crucial anytime the Nuggets go to a zone, especially in Game 2 when Lamar Odom was saddled with fouls. Walton scored 16 points or more only four times the entire regular season, but he's done it twice against Denver.

• Watching Acie Law go 4-for-4 and score 12 points in Game 2 had to give Hawks fans a slight measure of relief. The worry all season has been that we've witnessed another Billy Knight Point Guard Draft Blunder, since he took Law four spots ahead of Detroit rook Rodney Stuckey, an impressive combo guard. For the season, Law had a PER of 7.73; Stuckey's was 13.80. Law is also nearly a year and a half older.

• Finally, the strangest thing about Mike Bibby stirring up the Boston fans is that he's the last player anyone who covers the team would have pegged to do this. Since arriving from Sacramento, he's quickly become notorious for vanilla interviews -- now all of a sudden he's ripping Boston's fans and calling out Kendrick Perkins? Huh? Just goes to show you that upsets can happen in the playoffs … even if we don't see any of the favorites fall in Round 1.

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