The condensed 66-game season spoiled NBA fans by giving them daily games to watch and triple-headers to wait for. The only costs were the other 16 games and Derrick Rose's ACL.
It wasn't worth it.
To what extent the shortened season contributed to Rose's injury can't be proved, but one can't help but connect it to the injuries suffered by Rose, Dwight Howard, and Knick rookie Iman Shumpert; Rose and Howard have been iron men throughout their respective careers. With any luck, these young players can take advantage of advancements in medicine and return with their explosive athleticism intact.
Here are some thoughts after the first weekend of NBA playoff action:
•The Miami Heat are making the NBA Finals. Chicago without Rose is like a declawed and toothless lion- it's still big, fast, and strong, but it lost its primary way of taking the game by the throat. The Knicks without Shumpert have no way to defend Dwyane Wade, which is fatal since they can't guard LeBron James either.
•The Clippers comeback was for the ages. Reggie Evans's defense on Zach Randolph should make any and every basketball purist smile, and Chris Paul's competitive nature never shined through more. Still, L.A. needs to make major adjustments to get Blake Griffin off, because Memphis shut him down. Randy Foye, Nick Young, and Mo Williams will need to step up if Caron Butler can't go full throttle after breaking his hand- Young especially since he has good size.
•If Andrew Bynum delivers the kind of defensive performance he did Sunday, the Lakers can win the title. It doesn't need to be 10 blocks per game; it needs to be consistently challenging shots in the paint. Denver's big men are three levels below Bynum and Pau Gasol.
•The Indiana Pacers are still going to win their series against Orlando, but their flaw was exposed in game one. They couldn't adequately take advantage of Howard's absence even with Roy Hibbert playing, and they couldn't consistently score against an Orlando defense that has struggled without their anchor. Indiana could have made a statement to the rest of the Eastern Conference in game one; instead, they put themselves in a hole against an inferior team.
•Rajon Rondo's suspension was warranted. He did trip, but he didn't even seem to care that he bumped the referee. If he didn't get suspended, the 2007 Phoenix Suns would roll in their graves for the letter of the NBA law not being enforced.
•Dirk Nowitzki is an unstoppable offensive player. His Mavericks, though, are vulnerable without Tyson Chandler, and they're facing a team that will take advantage of that vulnerability.
Stay tuned for more action, and hope that no more injuries occur!
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