May 3, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) and small forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrate the win over the Dallas Mavericks during game three in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the American Airlines Center. The Thunder defeated the Mavericks 95-79. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Playoffs: First Round - Day 6

This has got to be one of the most lopsided playoffs in NBA history! Okay, maybe that’s too dramatic, but you’d have to agree that eight blowout victories doth not good basketball maketh. But so far everything has annoyingly followed the pre-arranged plan with the exception of a few injuries.

Game 1:

Miami vs. New York

Final Score: 87-70 (Miami)

Series: 3-0 Miami

Game 3 usually allows loser teams with a chance to win at least one game, thereby adding a small serving of drama to an overall lackluster contest.

Sorry New York. The Heat have no intention of playing nice.

For three quarters NY gave LeBron, Wade and The Other Guys a run for their money; and for three quarters both teams put on a great show (while Stoudemire sat on the bench, constantly reminded of his stupidity in the form of cast and sling) – JR Smith had a couple of monster dunks, including a reverse something-or-other in the fourth quarter that pulled his team within eight.

James and co. responded in kind, outscoring the Knicks 51-30 in the second half en route to a demoralizing Game 3 victory. NY had (according to the highlight announcer) “Its worst shooting night in franchise history,” and went just 22-of-69 from the field (that’s 31-percent kids).

Say what you will about the Heat, but they’re getting the job done. Last year Miami gave the lowly 76ers a Game 4 win before defeating them in Florida … I doubt that’ll happen in this series.

Before the playoffs started, I felt NY had two routes it could take: play tough, or hang your head and go home. I think they chose the former – they have played tough, but are clearly outmatched by a better team. The Knicks lack a powerful force in the middle to lean on offensively. Tyson Chandler works wonders on defense, but even Dallas will tell you he leaves much to be desired on the other end of the court. Tonight he had 10 points on just 2-of-6 shooting. That’s not gonna cut it. NY needs a bruiser. And if not in the middle, then someone willing to draw fouls while continually driving to the hole. Melo takes too many jump shots (7-of-23), as does JR Smith (just 5-of-18 tonight), Baron Davis, and Landry Fields. My solution for NY this offseason (since their days are numbered): go all out for Deron Williams. Together he can provide the offensive intensity needed to take NY to a whole ‘nuther level. With Williams driving to the hole, Melo hitting jumpers, and Stoudemire/Chandler providing a below-the-basket presence, NY could truly be a legitimate threat next season.

Game 2:

Dallas vs. OKC

Final Score: 95-79 (OKC)

Series: 3-0 OKC

Thank you Dallas for taking the limelight off the Jazz, the laughing stock of the NBA up until tonight. Dallas, an experienced veteran team, didn’t end up losing by 30 points, but their performance (in Dallas, no less) reeked almost as bad as Jason Kidd’s jump shot.

So now, the only series providing anything remotely close to drama, now suddenly feels insignificant; lackluster. If you would’ve told me that the defending champs (well, the four guys remaining from last year’s squad) would lose Game 3 on their home court after nearly upsetting OKC in each of the previous two games I would’ve told you to go put money on the Jazz to beat San Antonio. But that’s exactly what happened (Dallas lost, Utah didn’t win).

Amidst a stunned home crowd yearning for another magical playoff run, OKC absolutely kicked the shiz-nit out of Dirk’s boys. The biggest problem of course: jump shots. And turnovers. All credit must go to OKC’s stellar defense – they forced Dallas to throw up hail mary’s with prescious time left on the shot clock; and whenever the Mavs went inside, they forced turnovers (15 total) that led to 10 fast break points, and wide open 3-pointers (OKC hit 42-percent from downtown – Durant went 4-of-6).

Is this series over? Well, Dirk and co. won’t go down without a fight, but I don’t forsee them winning the next four games either. And that’s my bad: I really thought they stood a chance against the Thunder. And maybe they do, but found themselves face to face with a red-hot Kevin Druant. In any event, it looks like OKC will play the Lakers in the next round. Hopefully that series will provide more thrills than shrugs (although watching Kobe’s gang lose by double digits would provide me a multitude of delights).

Oddly enough, watching Mark Cuban crumble on the sidelines was sort of ironic. After all, he gutted the team to make way for the future (as Steve Kerr and Marv Albert commented upon while frantically searching for things to talk about during the game’s second half) – IE, D.Will and Dwight Howard. Did he really think he had a shot at another Finals run with a core group consisting of Vince Carter, Brendan Haywood and Delonte West? I thought they’d beat OKC, and match up well with the Lakers, but I didn’t envision Dirk hoisting another championship trophy … they lost pivotal back-up guard JJ Barrea, defensive playmaker Tyson Chandler, and nasty swingman DeShawn Stevenson – all terrific role players who willingly play hard on both sides of the court. Carter’s game more or less echoes Carmelo Anthony’s in that he plays solo-ball and needs about 500 touches per game to remain effective. West offers some on ball help, but lacks the speed and urgency Berrea dished out last year; and Haywood, while a large center, can’t compete with Chandler’s versatility.

So what should Dallas do? Well, they need to drop Kidd. Or at the very least give him a less substantial role. Kidd’s shooting has been awful this series (just 8-of-30), and really impacted Dallas in Games 1 and 2. I don’t know if they need a D.Will-style player since Rick Carlisle’s offense doesn’t revolve around the PG (which is why Jason Kidd has survived for so long); but someone along the lines of Raymond Felton or Ty Lawson would do.

They also need to pick up a big guy, someone who can do the dirty work Dirk refuses to do – IE, grab boards, bang into opponents, and throw down harsh dunks. They need Dwight Howard. (Easier said than done, I know.) Cuban has the money to bring in the big guy, but lacks the assets to facilitate a trade. Plus, Dwight chose to stay in Orlando …

At least it’s fun to dream.

 

 

Tags: Basketball Blowout D-Will Dallas Dirk Durant Dwight Howard Jason Kidd Jazz Knicks NBA Okc Playoffs Round 1

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