as the sportsworld awaits with delicious anticipation the showdown between kobe & lebron in the nba finals, the first round of the nba playoffs ended with a bang. the most exciting series took place between the defending champion boston celtics & the chicago bulls. the celtics emerged victorious on their homecourt 109-99 in game seven, after enduring critical injuries, overtime losses & near defeat by the young, upstart bulls led by rookie of the year point guard derrick rose. despite his brilliant though sometimes erratic play, rose was overshadowed by boston guard rajan rondo who averaged a triple double for the entire series! rondo has quickly become the catalyst for a team playing without superstar, team leader & 2008 defensive player of the year kevin garnett on the floor.
garnett suffered a season-ending injury in a game against utah earlier this spring. no one thought the celtics could/would defend their title without him. ray allen's 51 points was not enuf to avert a triple-overtime game six loss at chicago. last year's finals mvp paul pierce was consistently
inconsistent. glen davis' much improved mid-range jumper has proved fruitful. center kendrick perkins had 16 points, 19 rebounds & seven blocks in the celtics' game five win. their bench - last year's strength - has been noticeably weak, despite the efforts of eddie house, tony allen, brian scallabrini & the new kids on the block, stephon marbury & mikey moore. forward leon powe was also on the bench with a season-ending injury.
the bulls stole game one in boston. rose tied kareem abdul-jabbar's 1970 nba record with 36 points in his rookie playoff debut, while also dishing out 11 assists. their first-time coach vinnie del negro says the kid will soon be a star. newly acquired forward john salmons scored a career high 38 points in the upset win. after losing the next two games, ben gordon was electric, scoring 42 points in the bulls' game four overtime thrilling victory in the windy city. the series set an nba playoff record with seven overtime periods, as both teams won two overtime games. five games were decided by three points or less. second-year player joakim noah played sensational defense, rebounding & & blocking shots. tyris thomas can only get better if he keeps his emotions in check. kirk hinrich & brad miller outplayed the celtics' bench throughout most of the series.
the cleveland cavaliers had the best record in the nba at 66-16 & are expected to reach the nba finals for the second time in three years. coach of the year mike brown employs team defense to the delight of sold-out crowds. the acquisition of all-star guard mo williams solidifies their solid backcourt with delonte west, beset by injuries for a considerable portion of the season. 2009 mvp lebron james averaged 32 points, 11 assists & seven rebounds in a dominating 4-0 sweep of the #8 seed detroit pistons, who played without all-star guard allen iverson, out for the season with back injuries. after six consecutive eastern conference finals appearances, culminating with their '04 title, the end of an era & the dawn of a new day is upon us. cleveland is real talk.
2009 defensive player of the year orlando magic center dwight howard led his team to a 4-2 series triumph over the athletic philadelphia 76ers. orlando thrashed philly by 25 points on the road in game six, despite howard being suspended for the game, after he elbowed 76ers center samuel dalembert in the magic's close game five win. the #4 seed atlanta hawks survived a seven-game series with the miami heat, who won just 15 games last year. dwayne wade finished third in mvp voting behind kobe & lebron, played like a superstar, yet his young supporting cast could not hold him down. none of the seven games were close, in fact there were very few lead changes at all.
over in the western conference the los angeles lakers faced an unlikely #8 seed in the utah jazz. i thought utah would fare better, given their playoff experience, home court strength & overall versatility. but the lakers prevailed 4-1 because los angeles' depth is unparalleled, they're the #1 scoring team in the league, kobe's the best 4th quarter finisher on the planet & coach phil jackson has nine championship rings, tied with boston's red auerbach for most in nba history. the #2 seed denver nuggets easily dispatched a disappointing new orleans team in five games. hornets' all-star guard chris paul finished the year first in assists & steals, a rare accomplishment in today's high-profile game, yet was clearly outplayed by nuggets point guard chauncey billups. all-star forward carmelo anthony will play in the second round for the first time in his young career. in fact, denver coach george karl denver believing they can beat anybody.
more will be revealed.
the dallas mavericks surprised pundits with how easily they dismantled the #3 seed san antionio spurs 4-1. dirk nowitzki, jason kidd, josh howard & jason terry were exceptional, as were their role players off the bench. all-star forward tim duncan was not 100% physically. guard manu ginobli's season-ending injuries lef them with a disadvantage. tony parker was spectacular & tried to carry the team but he was virtually a one-man show on a team who prides itself on unity, not heroism. the houston rockets showcased their superior defensive prowess in defeating the #4 seed portland trailblazers 4-2. despite the absence of all-star forward tracy mcgrady, the rockets kept portland's all-star guard brandon roy out of the paint for most of the series. yao ming, ron artest, shane battier & aaron brooks led a balanced attack for houston, their first series win in 10 years.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.