Unfortunately for us basketball fans, the two best teams in the playoffs this year, the Atlanta Hawks in the east and the Denver Nuggets in the west, have all the talent in the world and absolutely no heart whatsoever.
Tonight is a perfect example. In the first quarter against the Orlando Magic the game was relatively close. After needlessly taking their first round series against a depleted Milwaukee Bucks squad to six games the Hawks will pull their panties up and start playing. It's not as if they don't have all the talent in the world-their roster reads like an All-Star team, and they have Jamal Crawford (another ex-Knicks player thriving under someone elses' system), the 6th Man of the Year award winner, coming off the bench.
The Hawks wound up getting blown out-BY 43 FUCKING POINTS. A game 1 blowout doesn't mean much-the Lakers got blown out by 49 during the first game of an NBA Finals series against the Celtics back in the '80s and came back to win it. But this ain't the Lakers.
It drives me crazy because I believe Atlanta has more talent than any other team in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are a year too late to make another run at the Lakers, who are just too strong in their frontcourt and of course, you have Kobe Bryant. Besides, logic dictates that once you win with an aging roster you add one or two younger, more athletic pieces to help you through pivotal stretch runs. With this in mind they run out and sign Rasheed Wallace, who showed everyone how much he wants to win a title by showing up overweight (it is estimated he was anywhere from 35-50 pounds over his usual playing weight when he reported for training camp this year) and has a shadow of his former self.
The Cavaliers are a one-man band, with the addition of Shaquille O'Neil being their most desperate and bogus ploy to show Lebron that they are serious about winning a championship so he won't leave. He is another non-factor in Cleveland's arsenal due to how he has been utilized. And why bring back Ilgauskas if you're not going to play him?
The Magic let go of Rafer Alston and Hedo Turkoglu and replaced them with a then-retired Jason Williams (yes, White Chocolate himself) and Vince Carter, who last year when I saw him playing with the Nets looked like a massive, decrepit Bison one sees in a zoo that stand in the same spot all day because they're just too tired to move. His athleticism was a thing of the past and he, like Michael Jordan towards the end of his career, morphed into a fat jump shooter.
Somehow this re-shuffling worked in Orlando's favor because Williams and Carter came to play. And unlike the Hawks, who I'll bet will go down in in 4 or 5 games, The Magic are the only team that can take on either the Celtics or the Cavs. I don't want to see the Cavs in the Finals-nothing against Lebron, I just think they are overrated and will not be strong enough to beat the Lakers, who are getting an armchair ride into the Finals by playing over-matched opponents.