Break Up the Grizz

4-2 over 4-time champ San Antonio, and only the second 8-seed to down a 1 in the 7-game first-round era. I think the Warriors beating the Mavs in 2007 was more exciting, but this Grizz team is definitely more impressive, considering that this may well have been the Spurs’ last legit chance for another ring. Duncan — one of the greatest power forwards ever to play the game — Parker, great scorer but seemingly antiquated in the Rose-Rondo-Paul-Westbrook era, and Ginobili — another great scorer who’s going to be leading this team in the near future — are poised perhaps for their Alamo next year. Duncan has, at best, one season left in him. George Hill can be a star, but can’t get the minutes with Parker ahead of him. Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal are good role players, but that’s all. This Spurs group has, at best, one more chance for another ring.

This is one of the cool things about the NBA — great teams just seem to fall and rise in twos and threes. The Thunder, Blazers, and yes, the Grizz, are the future of the West, while San Antonio, the Lakers, the Mavs, and in the East the C’s at least seem destined within the next year or, at the latest, two, for reasons of age, to regress. In the East, the future belongs to Orlando [if it can find another scorer not named Dwight, who’s looking more and more like a potential Patrick Ewing — dominant big without enough help, and dependent enough on spotty outside shooters to invest in past-their-prime guards (see turkoglu, hedo, arenas, gilbert, starks, john)], Miami (genuinely terrifying because LeBron and Wade are really that good, and LeBron can do a 40, 8, and 8 pretty much whenever he wants — cap space will be their issue for the next several years though), and a young Chicago team that has a head coach who knows what the fuck he’s doing despite one regular season’s experience, a point guard in Derrick Rose who’s not yet the best player in the NBA (that distinction goes to Kevin Durant, imho), but at 22 a 25 and 8 guy who would give up essential body parts to win (This fact also scares me, but as a fan I’d take a player who will do whatever it possibly can take to win over someone scared to be injured.) Paired with a Luol who seems to remember what winning feels like/takes and a 26-year old Joakim Noah, that team is going to be around for at least eight years.

The Celtics, if they can survive Miami (which I think they can), are still the team to beat. Because as much as I want to punch him (as a Bulls fan), Rajon Rondo is the best distributor in the league not named Chris Paul. And Chris Paul doesn’t get to pass to Paul Pierce, KG, and Ray Allen — the latter of whom remains the most frightening late-game shooter in the league, and clutch in the David Ortiz/Landon Donovan category. Pierce’s jump shot isn’t quite as ugly as Noah’s free throw, but it’s managed to work for quite some time now. And even at 34-almost-35, KG’s athleticism and just… well… no better word for it than insane… intensity can outdo the rest of the field this year.

This post was about the Grizz though, and though I don’t think they’ll get past OKC, it’s worth recognizing what they accomplished. The Spurs have a pedigree — the Dirk-led (though I admire Dirk and think he could play into his 40s with that mid-range fadeaway) Mavs haven’t won rings, much less four of them, have been to the Finals once, and though perennially contenders just can’t pull it off. The Spurs on the other hand are 4-0 in the Finals, humiliated an electrifying Suns team three times in four years. What the Zach fucking Randolph-led Grizz did to a 61-win Spurs team is just incredible.

What a playoffs already, and the second round hasn’t even started.

Authorial Interjection part the first: No, I didn’t mention the Lakers, mostly because I despise Kobe, think Lamar’s frivolous, and Pau’s soft. Derek Fisher is an assassin, but I really just want to pretend the Lake Show is a poorly-rated reality show.

Also didn’t mention how much I admire Steve Nash for sticking it out with the Suns when it was plain and clear that team was going nowhere in the stacked West, and how much I desperately want him to win a championship. He’s 37 and still making opposing teams look silly… while passing to Gortat, an I-don’t-even-pretend-to-give-a-shit-anymore Vince Carter and Grant Hill, who also deserves at least a shot at a title.

~ by Benji on April 30, 2011.

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