What we learned (cont.)
Posted: Sunday April 1, 2007 8:53PM; Updated: Monday April 2, 2007 10:08AM
4. Any of the pundits who are ready to give the MVP award to Steve Nash, based on the sample size of two recent Phoenix wins over Dallas, are still not making any sense.
As usual, they need to be reminded of how well he played down the stretch of the two Dallas wins against the Suns earlier this season, and pay more attention to the season that starts Oct. 31, and not an imaginary one that starts around the same time the SI Swimsuit Issue comes out. Base it on 82 games, I implore you, not two.
5. Along the same line of thinking, anyone trying to predict the outcome of any series between Dallas and Phoenix, or either team against San Antonio, is wasting their time.
Each of these teams would probably split a 10-game series against any one of the other ones, and no amount of Sunday afternoon or Thursday evening games in the regular season will teach us anything new at this point.
Phoenix looked like world-beaters Sunday, especially with Nash's jumper falling and Amare Stoudemire's ability to score, Dirk-like, off the dribble from the elbow. But wait until they have to counter Dallas' Erick Dampier (out with a bum shoulder on Sunday) in the lane during a seven-game series, or deal with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and his playoff-shortened rotation (with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili flirting with 42 minutes every night, instead of 32). Conversely, Dallas and San Antonio have no idea what to expect from Stoudemire -- the best player in the 2005 Playoffs -- who will be two years stronger and smarter come this postseason.
6. The referees will have nearly as much impact in a playoff series between the Jazz and Rockets as the players will.
Houston fans are in a tizzy over a blown block/charge call against the Rockets that came late in the team's loss to the Jazz on Sunday. And while it may have given the edge to the Jazz tonight, the Rockets received more than their fair share of bad or missed calls in the game's first 47 minutes. With two teams as physical as this, how the refs call the action is as important as anything.
There will be instances where Yao Ming is allowed to go over the back for rebounds, and there will be times where Yao will be hacked (with no call) when he goes up for a jump hook. In some possessions Carlos Boozer will be whistled for sending a guard off course after switching on a screen and roll, and other games where he will be allowed to hammer the tiny ones some 27 feet from the basket. Both teams are so unrelenting physically, regardless of how many infractions are being called, that the tone of every contest will be established by that night's crew of officials.