Early Offense: Vol. 4 Playoff Edition
I don’t **** with you. Before we dive in to all the juicy goodness that is the second week of the NBA playoffs, we thought we’d update our readers on the New York Knicks basketball situation: it is, um, not good. In a press conference that amounted to the Blame Game of the highest order, Knicks President Phil Jackson set fire to his relationship with all-star forward Carmelo Anthony. Anthony’s days in New York have gone from numbered to all but over. All that is left to decide is where Anthony plays next season, a decision made even more complicated by Anthony’s no trade clause. Now that the Knicks are in full rebuild mode, Russell Schmidt tells you which current Knicks are keepers as Jackson and Knicks owner James Dolan try to implement the Manhattan version of The Process.
Counterpunch. The early returns of the playoffs seemed like we were headed for a bunch of round one sweeps. But a number of teams have responded and it has made for some compelling basketball. The Memphis Grizzlies refused to get rooked by the San Antonio Spurs in Games 3 and 4 and held serve at the Grindhouse this past week, evening the series at 2-2. The Boston Celtics responded in kind to the Chicago Bulls, who are without guard Rajon Rondo for the remainder of the series due to a thumb injury, and evened that series as well. The Clippers/Jazz series in the West, and Bucks/Raptors in the East, both look destined for seven games. Check out the NBA Outlet podcast here for the latest rundowns and analysis of all the playoff series.
Long live the King. Two weeks ago, Early Offense wrote the following in reference to Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James:
“LeBron James reminded us for the fifty eleventh time, (to borrow a phrase from the Ying-Yang Twins), why he is best in the world.”
James and his Cavaliers closed out a very competitive first round sweep of the Indiana Pacers on Sunday. The series was closer than the 4-0 sweep would indicate, but James flexed his muscles as only he can with a signature performance in Game 3. James helped his team overcome a 26-point deficit on the way to a 119-114 victory, finishing with 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists while completing the greatest comeback in playoff history. As such, the above referenced quote will remain in effect until further notice.
It’s not me, it’s you. The other side of the Cavs/Pacers series was the curious case of Pacers forward Paul George. On the court, George played great in the series, averaging 28 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists and at times looking like the best player on the floor. Off the court, however, is where things got weird. It all started with George being critical of teammate CJ Miles taking the last shot in Game 1. As the series progressed, there were more moments where George openly challenged teammates and wore the “leader” cape just a bit too hard. In a bit of irony, or poetic justice depending on your view, George missed the game winning shot in Game 4, clinching the series for the Cavs. In what may have been his last shot as a Pacer, George’s attempt missed everything, ending the run of perhaps the best Pacer ever.
Wall to Wall. Social media spotted Washington Wizards guard John Wall rocking a troll worthy sweatshirt that read, “Yo boyfriend can’t check me.” Based on this finish: