Shaq, Pistons demonstrate value of focus in playoffs
Posted: Thursday April 27, 2006 1:47PM; Updated: Thursday April 27, 2006 2:56PM
Shaquille O'Neal has abused the undersized Bulls for 24.5 points, more than 11 rebounds and four blocks a game in the playoffs.
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As the first round prattles on, we find it necessary to round up another hearty batch of Champs and Chumps.
Miami Heat-Chicago Bulls
Champs: Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade
Believe the hype. Shaq is looking good, appearing nearly dominant at times, and not because of some relative judgment in comparison to Michael Sweetney. The Daddy is in shape, focused on releasing his shot at the top of his arc and helping on defense. Wade has learned to bide his time and pick his spots, waiting for those legions of Chicago defenders to dissipate and the legs of KirkHinrich to fail him.
Chumps: ? It's hard to single any of the Bulls out, so we won't. This team is playing so far over its head, well beyond expectations, that no lone figure can stand out. Some will point to Tyson Chandler as an underachieving link, but the lithe 7-footer still manages to pull in eight rebounds in just 24 minutes a game, during a series in which rebounds are hard to come by on both ends. (Both teams have combined to shoot 50 percent from the floor.)
Ruminations: Whether this series goes four games or seven, don't expect these Bulls to let up. That said, prepare for some ugly basketball in Chicago. At some point, those shots have to stop falling.
L.A. Clippers-Denver Nuggets
Champ: Cuttino Mobley Elton Brand is the rock, but Mobley's superefficient play on offense and continually improving defense is adding yet another wrinkle to an already solid Clippers team. Over the first two games of the series, Cat is averaging 19 points on 54 percent shooting, making half his threes and adding five boards and four assists.
Chumps: The Nuggets Denver acts as if it wants nothing to do with this postseason, and after these first two losses to L.A., they haven't really given their fans any reasons to want anything to do with watching them for two more games.
Ruminations: The long-awaited Sam Cassell playoff moment will happen Thursday in Denver, when the Nuggets make one last gasp at respectability.