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FUGAZY LIKE A FOX
Posted by Rob Peterson on May 3 2004 3:00 p.m. ET

Did I miss anything?

(And pardon the title. I know the Tim Thomas-Kenyon Martin thing has been played out, but it does have relevance to this Click and Roll.)

"Yeah, where the heck were you last week?"
-- Matt in Arlington, Va.

Well, I and Mrs. Click and Roll had to get in our last vacation before the future Click Jr. arrives in late July. I'd like to thank Randy Kim ("Nails," my editor) for taking over the clipboard for the week.

As far as missing anything… looking at the results (and sneaking a few peeks at the NBA on TV between "vacation-related program activities"), competition seemed to be the only thing missing from the NBA Playoffs 2004 first round.

(That last line may get me a permanent vacation.)

Don't shoot the messenger, people. The numbers don't lie. In the first round, we had three sweeps and four series go five games. Only the Heat-Hornets series has had the temerity to go the distance.

What are we to make of such developments?

Well, for one, we could refer to the commonly held notion that rarely does the lesser team win in a seven-game series.

But, we could also take former NBA coach Kevin Loughery's view: "I think there's a great imbalance this year, which was proven by many of the records in the NBA. The top teams in each conference are so far superior to the bottom teams."
--NBA.com

I couldn't agree with him more. There's nothing "fugazy" (fake) about the talent on the seven of the eight remaining teams. And, if you'll allow me to show you, there's one common thread between the seven remaining teams: Big men who can put it on the floor.

Skeptical? Allow us to examine.

Minnesota: Kevin Garnett, one of the best big men in the biz. He was a monster against Denver (25.8 ppg, 14.8 rpg, 7.0 apg and 2.0 bpg) in the first round, and if we can believe the reports, he was the best in the NBA this season.

San Antonio: Tim Duncan, the defending two-time NBA MVP. Single-handedly destroyed the Lakers in the fourth quarter of their Game 1 88-78 Spurs win in the Western Conference semifinals series.

L.A. Lakers: Karl Malone, two-time NBA MVP. He's the league's Methuselah, but built like Atlas. He'll need to be effective for the Lakers to win against the Spurs, because Shaq can't guard TD 17 feet away from the hoop.

Sacramento: Peja Stojakovic. Peja? Ha! Gotcha. You thought I was going to say Chris Webber. Yes, Peja. He's also playing defense as well. Actually, the Kings have four guys 6-10 or bigger who can face the basket. Right now, Stojakovic is the best of them, considering the current Chris Webber makes me look quick, Brad Miller is hobbled by nagging injuries and Vlade Divac is 36. That, and the Kings have begun to lift Webber in important situations.
-- Both Sacramento Bee

Indiana: Jermaine O'Neal. Once considered the other O'Neal (Oh, who am I kidding? He still is), Jermaine made his name and his game known this season as he led the Pacers to the best record in the league and a first-round shellacking of the Celtics. Like Duncan, plays more with his back to the basket, but, also like Duncan, he can bring plodding defenders outside and then beat them mercilessly to the hoop.

Detroit: Rasheed Wallace. He's far more effective with Ben Wallace behind him, but at 6-11, he's scary long, can run the floor and has 3-point range.

New Jersey: Kenyon Martin. Fugazy? Fuggedaboutit. You're looking at a dude who's shooting .644 from the field in the first round, averaging 23.3 points per game and grabbing 14.0 rebounds. Still a little rocky with the jumper, but who needs one when you're slamming home oops and putbacks most of the time?

So, with every team boasting a big man with consummate skills, who will advance to the conference finals?

This may sound overly simplistic, but it will be the teams that get these big men into the best position in the most crucial moments of the game (See: Duncan scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter on Sunday). The playoffs are not a time for shrinking violets and wallflowers, both of which Duncan is not. Refer to him as such at your team's peril.
-- San Antonio Express-News (Registration required)

GONNA GET GOOD

Now, that we've cleared away the first round, the conference semifinals should be great. Or, they'll be ugly (a good ugly). This comes from Jaleel White's hilarious first blog. White, you may remember, played a character who should know something about ugly.
-- NBA.com Blog Squad

Let's take a quick look at the three set semifinals series through the eyes of others, shall we?

PISTONS-NETS

The Nets have won 14 consecutive Eastern Conference playoff games. The Pistons believe this is their year.

Steve Popper: Nets Can't Expect Sweep Against Pistons This Time
-- New York Times (Registration required)

Click and Roll says: You think?

Chris McCosky: Rasheed Ready for Nets' Martin
-- Detroit News

Click and Roll says: See big man entry above. (An aside: Check out the photo of Ben Wallace in that Detroit News article. Did Ben mow the 'fro?)

Mike Vaccaro: Pistons Not Better Team
-- New York Post

Click and Roll says: For a paper that uses no articles in their articles' headlines, they still get their point across. You could say that "Pistons Not better team," but you could also say "Nets Not Better Team." Why? Because they haven't played each other yet. By the end, and only then, will we know.

Ohm Youngmisuk: Nets Fired Up for Pistons Rematch
-- New York Daily News

Click and Roll says: Is this article "The Greatest Story Ever Told"? Not according to Rasheed Wallace. "I ain't no savior," Wallace has said. "I ain't Jesus." Right, that was this guy. Still, no "The Passion of the Rasheed"? What is Wallace if he plays with no passion? But, I digress.
-- IMDB.com

And finally, Dave D'Alessandro: No More Talk, Let's Play
-- Newark Star-Ledger

Click and Roll says: Amen, brother.

WOLVES-KINGS

The Wolves, the West's top seed, finally made it to the conference semifinals for the first time in team history. The Kings advanced to the conference semis for the fourth-consecutive season.

Jerry Zgoda: Kings, Unlike Wolves, Have Been Here Before
-- Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Registration required)

Click and Roll says: So true. And while the Kings' core has been together longer, the Wolves have a starter, Sam Cassell, with two rings.

Mike Wells and Brian Hamilton: Garnett Enjoys 'Other Side'
-- St. Paul Pioneer Press (Registration required)

Click and Roll says: And it's good to finally see KG where the grass is greener.

Kent Youngblood: Peeler Also Gets to Enjoy Warm Playoff Fuzzies
-- Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Registration required)

Click and Roll says: Former Timberwolves guard gets to the second round for the first time ever, as well, this time with the Kings. And he faces his former team. Oh, the irony!

Steve Aschburner: Timberwolves Are a Comedy Act No More
-- Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Registration required)

Click and Roll says: How far have the Wolves come? Check out this anecdote from the above story: "[Christian] Laettner going around the locker room, pointing at the names above each and saying 'Loser.' When he got to his space, he said emphatically: 'Winner.'"

LAKERS-SPURS

These two are the winners of the last five NBA titles. Yeah, yeah, we know the series started already. And, yes, our own Bryan Williams broke it down for you, as did Lakers great Gail Goodrich.
--NBA.com

But, here's what others are saying after San Antonio's Game 1 win on Sunday.

Chris Broussard: Lakers Succumb to Fourth-Quarter Turnovers and Too Much Duncan
-- New York Times (Registration required)

Click and Roll says: That headline rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? And we've already gone over the Duncan factor.

Mike Wise: Ragged-Looking Lakers Keep Living on the Edge
-- Washington Post (Registration required)

Click and Roll says: Watching the game yesterday I had a similar thought. Either the Lakers haven't gelled because they haven't had enough time together or they look like they can't stand each other and are counting the days 'til the season is done.

Michael Murphy: Jackson Psyche Job on the Spurs Fails in Game 1
-- Houston Chronicle

Click and Roll says: We like to quote a former NBA.commer whenever we see Phil Jackson sitting on the sidelines, staring at someone from the bench: "There's Phil Jackson, bending spoons with his mind."

And while that's funny, we admit that Jackson has bent nine different diamond-encrusted spoons into nine NBA championship rings. Still, we wonder if this season has made Jackson want to fold himself into a chaise lounge chair on a secluded beach somewhere.

Tom Orsborn: Nesterovic Stands Ground, Makes Mountain-Sized Impression
-- San Antonio Express-News (Registration required)

Click and Roll says: If Nesterovic plays well this series, that's just icing on the cake for the Spurs.

Bill Plaschke: Playing As if He Were Wearing Gloves
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

Click and Roll says: Plaschke takes the gloves off when it comes to Gary Payton's play as of late.

J.A. Adande: Add an Identity Crisis to Their Problems
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

Click and Roll says: Can't argue with that, except many think that's been going on with the Lakers all season.

COACHES-GO-ROUND

Congrats to NBA Blog Squad contributor Doc Rivers for finally landing a gig where he doesn't have to talk to me every week.
-- Celtics.com

Congrats to Jim O'Brien, who, like the Bucks' Terry Porter, gets to coach his hometown team.
-- Sixers.com

As you can see from this article, the carousel has started once again.
-- Chicago Sun-Times

And wouldn't you hate to be Don Nelson? His name is always on the list for one of the next coaches to be fired.
-- ESPN.com

For the Lakers to advance, Karl Malone will need to do a better job defensively on Tim Duncan.
(Stephen Dunn
Getty Images/NBAE)

2003-04 ARCHIVE
April 26 -- Click Gets Randy
April 19 -- Playoffs CW, IQ
April 12 -- Give Them Away
April 5 -- Fight for First
March 29 -- Prime Time
March 22 -- East Bests West?
March 15 -- Very Scary Bears
March 8 -- Sick and Tired
March 1 -- West Side Story
Feb. 24 -- Surfing the Nets
Feb. 17 -- City of Angles
Feb. 13-15 -- All-Star Blog
Feb. 9 -- Git Up, Git Out
Feb. 2 -- Lobbying for L.A.
Jan. 26 -- Midwest is Best
Jan. 19 -- More Central
Jan. 12 -- Grand Central
Jan. 8 -- Starbury Time
Dec. 29 -- American Rookies
Dec. 22 -- The Greatest Gift
Dec. 15 -- Hail the Kings
Dec. 8 -- Spurs Sportsmen
Dec. 1 -- Holiday Exchange
Nov. 24 -- Hive Talkin'
Nov. 17 -- Clip and Save
Nov. 10 -- Short People

BACKCOURT
Check out NBA.com's "Destination Finals" section for a complete recap of all of the 2004 postseason action.

FRONTCOURT
The week that will be:
May 3-9: One seventh game (Heat-Hornets, May 4, 7 ET, TNT), three semifinals series beginning and a Spurs-Lakers Game 2 on Wednesday (9:30 ET, TNT).

WEEKLY KERR
My boss likes Steve Kerr's Yahoo! column. I like my job. Here's this week's link to Steve's piece on ... the NBA's postseason awards. Like me, he doesn't have a vote. So, don't blame him. Or me.

'ROUND THE GLOBE
Want to know how hoop is being played around this little blue marble?

Congrats to Maccabi Tel Aviv for trouncing Skipper Bologna 118-74, the largest margin ever, in the Euroleague Final Four title game on Saturday.
-- Euroleague.net

Fostered by 69 percent shooting from the field, Maccabi's win, which came in their hometown of Tel Aviv, set off a nation-wide celebration throughout Israel. Gratefully, the celebration was peaceful. But one Maccabi player needs to go easy on the Carmel-Mizrachi (an Israeli wine).

"You could have brought the Lakers or the Spurs in here tonight," Maccabi center Maceo Baston said, "and we still would have wupped them."

Uh, Maceo… Oh, never mind. He's celebrating. Let him have his fun.