Click and Roll has returned to duty every weekday for the playoffs. Stick with us throughout the postseason as Click and Roll will cover the NBA Playoffs 2003 as only we can.
NBA Playoffs | TV: Pistons-Magic (8 ET, ESPN); Spurs-Suns (10 ET, NBA TV); Mavs-Blazers (10:30 ET, ESPN)
Should Be Another Exciting Evening
But first, let's look at Friday's contests.
Some writers still insist on calling for the Pistons to shut Tracy McGrady down in Game 3 on Friday in Orlando (8 ET, ESPN). (Detroit Free Press). My question is two-fold: How? And why? First, no one has stopped McGrady this season. Second, in Game 2, McGrady scored 46 points and the Magic lost by 12. T-Mac is averaging 44.5 points per game for the first two games. His teammates are averaging 43.5 points -- one point less than McGrady -- in the first two games.
You stop players other than McGrady, then you stop the Magic. Maybe that's why Gordan Giricek stayed after practice to work on his shooting stroke. The Magic need him. (Orlando Sentinel)
The Suns, meanwhile, have a McGrady mentality when it comes to the Spurs' all-world power forward Tim Duncan. Maybe Amaré Stoudemire (the got milk? Rookie of the Year) can stop Duncan? (Arizona Republic)
What will stop the Blazers, besides the Mavs? Injuries, possibly, which are quickly mounting for Portland in their first-round series. Scottie Pippen and Derek Anderson will be on the sidelines for Game 3 in Portland (10:30 ET, ESPN). And the Blazers need Pippen. (The Oregonian, Dallas Morning News)
The Mavs meanwhile need to stay the course, even if that course leads them down a rough road. (Dallas Morning News)
Speaking of rough roads, only Indiana found the road rough on Thursday, tumbling to the Celtics 101-83 in Game 3 of their series. The hometown paper was especially hard on the Pacers, claiming that Isiah's charges lost their poise and that the Pacers have no heart. Yikes! (Indianapolis Star)
Meanwhile, the Celtics seized their opportunity to grab the momentum and run with it. (Boston Globe)
And talk about opportunities, the Nets and Rodney Rogers made the most of theirs in a 103-101 Game 3 win in Milwaukee. To give the Nets the win, Rogers nailed a jumper after missing two free throws. (New York Daily News)
The Bucks did many things right in fighting back from a 20-point deficit, but on that play, they did two things wrong. One, always have a man on the free throw shooter. The Bucks didn't. And if anyone learned anything from Vlade Divac batting the ball back in Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals, grab the ball. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. With the Nets' Kenyon Martin and the Bucks' Anthony Mason getting their considerable paws on the rock, the Bucks fought the law and the law won. (New York Daily News)
Then again, George Karl didn't see it that way. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
In L.A., Phil Jackson was working his post-game magic after Game 2 and it almost worked in Game 3. But the gritty, gutty Wolves, who went without a fouled-out Kevin Garnett for most of the overtime, stunned the Lakers with a 114-110 win in Game 3 on Thursday.
One Twin Cities paper is calling the Wolves' win the biggest in franchise history. We would tend to agree on this one. (St. Paul Pioneer Press)
Minneapolis' original NBA franchise better be ready to scrap with its new one, as this series looks like it will last a while. (L.A. Daily News)
As for the other series this weekend, the outlook has become bleaker for the Hornets. It is likely that leading scorer Jamal Mashburn will miss Game 3 against Philly on Saturday in New Orleans (7:30 ET, TNT). (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
The Sixers are up 2-0, and believe they can play even better. (Philadelphia Daily News)
And you remember the other series, don't you? Don't you? The Kings and Jazz? Well, we don't blame you if you've forgotten, they haven't played since Monday. They'll finally play Game 3 on Saturday (10 ET, ESPN).
Rob Peterson, NBA.com
The Playoffs Start Early, End Late
You know where to find it -- coffee, tea, a green soda whose name ends in dew. Make sure you have plenty of caffeine at your disposal for Thursday night's NBA Playoff schedule. Not that the slate isn't compelling, but it is long, beginning with the Celtics hosting the Pacers (6 ET, TNT) right through to the Lakers and the Timberwolves in L.A. (11 ET, TNT). Sandwiched between the two, the Nets will be in Milwaukee to take on the Bucks (8:30 ET, TNT), making it a triple-header on TNT.
(Guys, especially you, Mr. Barkley, we like Total Motion. As long as you guys are willing to fork out the dough, we'll watch.)
Now that we're talking about motion, the Celtics plan to get their offense going sooner than they had in the first two games in Indiana. (Indianapolis Star)
In an interesting twist, the Pacers plan to use one of the greatest offensive performers in playoff history on defense. (Indianapolis Star)
Now you can say you've seen everything when Reggie Miller is used as a defensive stopper. Just as peculiar is the Bucks' winning Game 2 without hitting their three-point shots. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
As for the Nets' using Dikembe Mutombo as often as Steve Nash uses a comb, George Karl is all for it. (New York Post)
One New York columnist is all for someone stepping up and giving Jason Kidd a hand, and he doesn't mean carrying his bags to San Antonio. (New York Daily News)
Speaking of teams in the West, it probably helps the Wolves that Kobe Bryant has a balky right (shooting) shoulder. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
The series' other Big Fella, Kevin Garnett is under constant strain to carry the Wolves on his back. One writer states the obvious (and manages to get 790 words out of it): Kevin Garnett needs to be superior against the Lakers. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
It's nice to know that KG is getting some assistance in the quest to advance. Remember Marc Jackson? (Minneapolis Tribune)
Speaking of needing assistance, maybe Tracy McGrady should hang a sign: Help Wanted. (Orlando Sentinel)
McGrady scored 46 of the Magic's 77 points in a Game 2 loss to the Pistons on Wednesday. That's 60 percent of his team's points. No other Magic player had more than nine. One writer called the Magic: Tracy McGrady and the Pips. (Orlando Sentinel)
Portland has its Pip. Unfortunately for the Blazers, their Pippen was on the sideline in street clothes as the Mavs tipped the Blazers, 103-99 in Game 2 as Dallas took a 2-0 series lead.
Bonzi Wells did his best T-Mac impression, scoring 45 points, but it just goes to prove that sometime you can go to the Wells once too often. (I am truly, truly sorry for that pun, people.) (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
I'm also sorry that Jamal Mashburn can't stay healthy in the playoffs. Last year, it was vertigo. Last night, he suffered a chipped bone in his middle finger of his shooting hand. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
Coupled with Baron Davis mushy knee, Mashburn's fickle middle finger of fate has the Hornets reeling and the Sixers have control of the series as they squeaked out a 90-85 win in Game 2, giving Philly a 2-0 series lead. As Allen Iverson scored a "quiet" 29 points, it was the Sixers' supporting cast, like playoff monster Kenny Thomas, who provided the boost on Wednesday. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
And finally, Monsters would probably not be a good name for the new Charlotte franchise. What will the nickname be? We'll find out soon about the three finalists. (Charlotte Observer)
Rob Peterson, NBA.com
No Fear in the Playoffs!
One Florida paper even used the headline: "T-Mac a Marked Man." (Florida Today)
That would be a novel approach, considering McGrady ran circles around the Pistons for 43 points in Game 1. Meanwhile McGrady's not shy, whether it's shooting from the hip on the court or from the lip off of it. Says McGrady about the Pistons' plan: Bring it! (Detroit News)
Some Pistons have prepared a response: Oh, we will and we'll make this personal. (Detroit News)
What it boils down to for the Pistons is they must be better on both ends of the floor. They could help themselves on offense, too, if they make their shots (Detroit News).
One Orlando columnist finds all of this testosterone laughable. He claims that casting the Magic as tough guys is akin to Adam Sandler playing Sonny Corleone. (Orlando Sentinel)
Also, quick whistles from the refs can turn all the talk about rough play into just that -- talk.
Meanwhile, in the City of Brotherly Love, Allen Iverson echoed McGrady's statements. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"I don't mind a physical game," Iverson said yesterday after the 76ers practiced. "I've said it a million times: Once guys feel like they can bump me around, all it does is wake me up and get me more into the game."
In addition to not wanting to make Mr. Iverson angry, the Hornets are also worried about Baron Davis' balky knee. Davis says it feels better, but the Hornets will be in a precariously painful position if they lose Game 2 in Philly tonight (7 ET, TNT). (New Orleans Times Picayune)
Plainly put, Pippen at the point produces for Portland. Without him, the Blazers are in a world of hurt for Game 2 against the Mavs without their injured point guard tonight (9:30 ET, TNT). (The Oregonian)
As for the Mavs, they plan to spread the wealth in Game 2 after Dallas' Deutsche Marksman, Dirk Nowitzki, went crazy with 46 points in the series opener. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
I don't mean to gloat ... OK, yes I do. Last Friday, I named the guys who needed to step up for their teams in the playoffs. Two of them, Milwaukee's Tim Thomas and Minnesota's Troy Hudson, came through on Tuesday making me look like a Nostradamus for Naismith's game.
(I won't mention the ones I missed, like David Robinson. He didn't even play Monday and the Spurs won. I should have said Stephen Jackson. Yeah, that's what I meant.)
Thomas hit a three-pointer with three minutes remaining to give the Bucks the lead for good in their Game 2 win over the Nets in New Jersey. True, he missed two big free throws near the end, but Thomas's 18 points were a perfect complement to Gary Payton's game-high 22 and Sam Cassell's 21.
In Minnesota, it looks like Plan B worked! Hudson's 37 points augmented Kevin Garnett's monster 35-point, 20-rebound performance as the Timberwolves crushed the Lakers to even their series at 1-1. Most were impressed with the Wolves' ability to not wither under the glare of all those Lakers' championship rings. (St. Paul Pioneer Press)
And what's the Lakers' biggest problem, according to one columnist? Deciding whether or not it's time to panic. (L.A. Times)
Rob Peterson, NBA.com
Adjust or Go Home
Some would say it's a little early to panic, the Timberwolves, after having their home-court advantage ripped away in Game 1, are looking at Plan B or even Plan C when they face the Lakers tonight in Minneapolis (9:30 ET, TNT). (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
For the Lakers, the biggest obstacle other than the he-said, they-said battle over Kobe Bryant's impending free agency is whether Shaquille O'Neal will make it back to Minnesota in time for Game 2 after attending his grandfather's funeral. (L.A. Times)
A loss to the three-time defending NBA champions would place the Wolves at a two-game deficit heading to Los Angeles. To help avoid this fate, the Wolves will start Anthony Peeler instead of Joe Smith. (St. Paul Pioneer Press)
Going small may help the Wolves for a while, but for a team that is facing its sixth consecutive first-round playoff exit, going to L.A. down two is not good for the psyche. (Los Angeles Times)
Speaking of psyches, Milwaukee's is a little bruised after their Game 1 shellacking at the Nets' hands. While not a must-win, Milwaukee has decided to tinker with its lineup for Game 2 in New Jersey tonight (7 ET, TNT). (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Regardless of whom Bucks coach George Karl places in the lineup, he needs a stellar outing from the guards, especially a certain Mr. Gary Payton. (Newsday)
The Nets, however, feel fine if they have Jason Collins on their side. (Newsday)
As for the Spurs, they're glad they have Tim Duncan on their side. He's good, you know. (San Antonio Express-News)
Stephen Jackson, who had a team-high 23 points, was also good in Game 2, as was rookie Manu Ginobili, who nailed a clutch three-pointer. (San Antonio Express-News)
The Celtics feel good about escaping Indianapolis with their series tied 1-1, even after a Game 2 loss on Monday. The Celtics feel they should have been up 2-0 heading back to Boston, but one columnist says, shut your mouth and be happy with what you have. (Boston Globe)
Should the Kings be happy? Up 2-0 after an easy win over the Jazz on Monday, the Kings have five days before they face the Jazz in Utah on Saturday. Originally seen as a momentum-busting itinerary, the Kings are thankful for the break. Chris Webber strained his back and will need the time to heal. (Salt Lake Tribune)
Meanwhile, the Jazz have five days to simmer, stew or bring their collective blood to a boil for Game 3. (Sacramento Bee) Speaking of boiling, here come the Pistons, who were none too happy to have Tracy McGrady torch them for 43 in Game 1 of their first-round series. So, how do the Pistons plan on stopping McGrady? If you can't beat them straight up, beat them up. (Detroit News)
And then, hit them again. (Florida Today)
Or, be like the Celtics and plan to hit them in Boston! (Indianapolis Star)
Sigh! So much for the less violent indoor alternative to football that Dr. James Naismith envisioned.
Rob Peterson, NBA.com
What a Weekend!
For only the second time since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in the 1983-84 season, a No. 8 seed can take a 2-0 lead in a series if the Suns beat the Spurs (8 ET, TNT).
The only other No. 8 seed to hold a 2-0 series lead were the Lakers, who went up 2-0 against the Suns in the 1993 playoffs. The Lakers swiped two in Phoenix before the Suns came roaring back by winning two in L.A. and the series-clincher back in Phoenix. The Suns would go on to the NBA Finals and lose to the Chicago Bulls in six games.
Thanks to a bank shot by Click and Roll's mystery man, Amare Stoudemire, the Suns forced the game into overtime. Then came Marbury's Miracle. Stephon Marbury nailed a running, bank-shot game-winner with no time left to give the Suns a 96-95 win in Game 1. It's a shot that will go down as one of the better clutch shots in NBA playoff history. For Marbury, it was just another day at the office. (NBA.com, Arizona Republic)
Despite the defeat, the Spurs remain confident. After all, a 2-0 deficit would be more daunting if it were a five-game series instead of a seven. (San Antonio Express-News)
Yet, one San Antonio columnist says an upset may be in the Spurs' heads considering the Suns have beaten the Spurs in four of five meetings this season (including the playoffs). That, and not having David Robinson or Kevin Willis for Game 2 might make it tough as well. (San Antonio Express-News)
In Sacramento, the Kings have been kind hosts during the playoffs in the past few years, meaning the Kings won't mind giving the Jazz the bum's rush when Game 2 tips off tonight. (Sacramento Bee)
The Pacers also need to find a way to keep Paul Pierce from scoring 40 points. (Boston Herald)
Pierce's 40 was one of the many exceptional individual performances during the opening weekend. We know basketball is a team game, but if the first weekend proved anything, one man can make a difference, especially if your name is Iverson, McGrady, Kobe or Nowitzki.
The man who stood tallest in the opening weekend may have been the shortest, but also the toughest.
Anyone who saw Allen Iverson's double-nickel performance in Philly was treated to something special. Iverson, a man of much energy, barely moved the nets, so smooth and pure was he against the Hornets on Sunday. A.I.'s 55 was one better than the Sixers record he set against the Raptors in Philly's rapturous run to the Finals in 2001. (Philadelphia Inquirer, NBA.com)
As far as Dirk Nowitzki's 46-point outburst against the Blazers to give the Mavs a 1-0 series lead, his teammates were not non-plussed by Nowitzki's plus-sized performance.
"Dirk didn't do anything new," Raef LaFrentz said. "He wasn't pulling up from half-court or doing 360-degree dunks." (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Then there was Tracy McGrady, who said in a recent ESPN the Magazine article that right now, scoring 32 per game comes easy. Seems McGrady underestimated himself by 11 points, as he scored 43 points, seemingly with ease, to lift the Magic to a 99-94 win over the Pistons in Game 1. That's six points fewer than Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton combined, or two points less than the seven other Pistons who scored. Egads!
McGrady's extra-terrestrial performance caused one Detroit columnist to mourn the passing of ... well, passing and scoring in Detroit. (Detroit Free Press)
Distractions come in various degrees during the playoffs. From unending ticket requests to superstars telling the local papers that, yeah, they'll test the free agent market in 2004. (L.A. Daily News)
Then, no matter how you spin it, there are distractions. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Finally, the fans tried to get into Kobe Bryant's head. It didn't work. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Rob Peterson, NBA.com