Thanks to the very surprising juggernaut that is the Phoenix Suns, we don't have to play those same Suns in the first round, and get home court against the men with flutes.
While I had a rough night in our regular-season's final game (didn't we all), I can chalk that up to "tee-many-martooni's". While I still worry about our ability to regain our focus, form, and confidence going into the playoffs, I still have faith in the guys to get it done.
Follow below the fold for my take on our upcoming "Miners against Musicians" playoff contest.
General Juice -
We all know what we really need to win a playoffs series. And that's energy. I think we're all acutely aware that we've struggled to find energy at times this season, so I won't harp on it any longer. But, if we fail to get sufficiently motivated, it's over.
Don't switch, Silly! -
I'm not sure when "switching" became the cornerstone of our defensive philosophy, as opposed to, you know, actually guarding somebody. I want my team to match up with an offense by matching size, speed, and skills, and lock-down on those matchups with fervor. What I don't want to see? The defense hopping around, pointing at each other, switching little defenders onto big offensive weapons for no apparent reason. This type of defense makes it look like they're trying, but really, it's an illusion. They look like a swarm of ants, busy doing something, we're just not sure what... I know one thing, they're not busy getting in the marauder's faces, getting physical with them, or any of those things that force an offense to miss shots, or actually earn their makes.
The solution to this problem: Nut up, get physical, get nasty, show some pride in defense again, and bust em' in the friggin' teeth! Sounds easy, right?
Make D-Will cancel his AAA membership
This one is simple, if Deron Williams is on the floor, so is Aaron Afflalo. While they're on the floor together, Afflalo is guarding Williams. If anyone thinks about switching, so that Afflalo is not guarding Williams, the team collectively punch themselves in the head, as a team.
While this one should be pretty obvious, and makes perfect sense, it won't happen. Coaches (not just Adrian "Zombie" Dantley) in the NBA seem to enjoy making things more difficult for themselves. They continuously ignore obvious tactical advantages in favor of, well, untactical disadvantages. Again, this one won't happen, Chauncey and JR and, ugh, AC will all be tasked with guarding the ever dangerous Deron... but again, they shouldn't.
We all know that Williams is Utah's key playmaker, which is why putting our best lockdown defender on him makes so much sense. So again, put Afflalo on Williams at all times, don't give him a chance to breathe, let AAA frustrate him, take him out of his game, and the rest will follow. If this comes at the expense of playing time to JR and Lawson and Billups, so be it. Controlling the other teams best player is infinitely more important than the off chance that JR goes on one of his awe-inspiring hot streaks. More important than the off chance that those pesky aliens who used the glowing basketball to steal Chauncey's basketball talent and IQ return it before Saturday.
So, say it with me, AAA all day! If you're wondering how that translates verbally, it's actually "Triple A all day!"... That's the chant.
Bring the Croissants -
In Petro we trust. He has been getting more minutes, finally. He has been improving, he is the legitimate 7-foot presence we have needed on the floor. He's long, he's active, he's a warm body. Our big men are breaking down, Kenyon is back but needs his minutes limited. Birdman's wings have seemingly been clipped, I'll chalk that one up to a combination of overuse and injuries. Nene, I don't know what to think about Nene, he's either hurt, the aliens got him too (Bill Murray to the rescue?), or he's turned into a scared chicken. He certainly needs to step up, but that's not the point.
The point is, and I'm looking at you Dantley/Karl, trust the French Revolution. Don't get scared now that it's the playoffs and return him to the bench. We need him to spell the other bigs, he's the only healthy/young one we've got.
So, say it with me, Viva La Petro!
Leave the kids at home -
By kids I mean Malik Allen and Anthony Carter. Seriously, leave them on the side of the road, take away their key-cards, don't let them in the stadium, under threat of death. Okay, fine, they're nice guys and they don't deserve that kind of treatment, yeah yeah yeah. Here's the compromise: Allow them to sit on the bench and be good cheerleaders for the rest of the team, but put them in straight-jackets featuring padlocks for two hours before the game, during the game, and until two hours after the game.
We all know what these guys bring to the table, nothing. Leave them on the bench.
So, say it with me, Parents Night Out!
Generosity Generates Greatness -
Also known as, pass the damn ball. This team has been baffling on the offensive end lately. It's not a matter of not having the scoring talent, the right pieces to succeed, or any such thing. We have it all in spades. What we don't have is a team who is willing to share the ball.
Here's a funny fact, we scored the ball 110% of the time this season when 3 or more passes were made on the offensive end. It's Science, don't question it. While I may have made that stat up, I stand by it's invalidity.
The fact that all of our weapons refuse to play together is infinitely frustrating, and frankly, exceedingly stupid. It's moronic, maniacal, maiming, and many other "M" words that could possibly express my frustration. Chauncey, Melo, JR, I'm looking at you. You three have been a vortex of selfishness lately: PASS THE BALL.
Can you think of a cuter picture that embodies sharing? I submit that you cannot.
So, say it with me, Caring is sharing!