Posted: Thursday April 27, 2006 1:47PM; Updated: Thursday April 27, 2006 2:56PM
San Antonio Spurs-Sacramento Kings
Champ: Manu Ginobili Ginobili never let up in Game 2, though the Kings seemed in control of the game and Tim Duncan was struggling to remain a factor. By the end of overtime, and another Spurs win, we found that Ginobili had 32 points and nine assists. A quiet storm, but enough to take down a few trees.
Chump: Mike Bibby Bibby was horrid on Tuesday: He picked up 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but that was mainly because he played 48 minutes and had the ball in his hands most of the time. Bibby also turned that ball over five times and was a huge liability on defense.
Ruminations: There's no reason this series can't go six or seven games, just as long as Coach Artest is allowed to call the shots.
Detroit Pistons-Milwaukee Bucks
Champ: Tayshaun Prince On offense alone, Prince has had a better week than Denver's Carmelo Anthony. After scoring 22 points on 14 shots against the Bucks, Prince finally proved why Detroit GM Joe Dumars made the right move in passing on Anthony in the 2003 draft. OK, that's a huge reach, but at least that second overall pick eventually turned into a few months of Kelvin Cato for the Pistons. That dude is hilarious on the team bus.
Chump: Terry Stotts The Bucks coach has acted as a punching bag while having to incorporate four new starters, but Stotts has had since October to create some sort of offensive game plan for his team, and at least interest them in defense. So there is no excuse for players looking clueless in offensive sets during the first round of the playoffs. The Bucks also should be embarrassed about their help defense. It starts at the top.
Ruminations: Let's face it: Detroit's been playing the Spurs since last November. They play against them in practice, in the weight room, against the Hawks in February and against the Bucks in April. Everyone else sees Michael Redd trying to free himself for a jumper, but in Prince's mind's-eye, he's seeing Manu Ginobili in a Bucks uniform. It really isn't fair.
Dallas Mavericks-Memphis Grizzlies
Champ: Avery Johnson Avery's been able to accomplish what always seem to elude Don Nelson: creating a dynamic championship contender that plays on both sides of the ball. These first two wins over the Grizzlies are proof of his ability to adapt and encourage on the fly.
Chump: Mike Miller Miller needs to pick it up. He'll probably improve upon his Game 2 showing (2-of-7 shooting, nine points in 24 minutes), but it won't make any difference if his Memphis teammates have lost faith in his ability to change games.
Ruminations: Dallas can win a championship if Jason Terry keeps attacking the rim at the outset of games. If he can pick up quick fouls on frontcourt helpers during the first and third quarters, the Mavericks have found yet another wrinkle to build off of.
Phoenix Suns-L.A. Lakers
Champ: Tex Winter Winter's offense has made the Lakers dangerous again. One possession in particular, coming midway through the first quarter of Wednesday's Game 2 win, was as gorgeous as any Steve Nash alley-oop dish or Dwyane Wade ankle-breaker to me. Kobe Bryant rebounded and brought the ball up, giving up the rock for good with 20 seconds on the shot clock. From there, the Triple Post went to work. One, two, three, four, five passes and 11 seconds later, Jimmy Jackson had a wide-open 18-footer to nail. Kobe's presence alone tilted the entire defense into shapes it didn't want to react to. Beautiful. Like, Staple Singers-beautiful. Here's hoping they keep it up at the Staples Center.
Chump: Shawn Marion If he is worn out by guarding Lamar Odom, we don't blame him. Marion has had to act as Phoenix's jack-of-all-trades (at 100 miles per hour, no less, for the jack of speed) for two years running now, and he has every right to appear winded. Still, he has no right to be ineffective. It's the playoffs, and Marion has to find a second wind.
Ruminations: I mentioned it on Monday -- Los Angeles' system will always give them something comfortable and inclusive to fall back on. When Nash isn't seeing the floor well, for whatever reason, the Suns are in huge trouble.