The NBA playoffs are halfway over...and there are a few things that have seem to open my eyes....
I DON'T LIKE MIKE DUNLEAVY: Neither of them, actually. The Junior went to Dook, so there is an obvious dislike there. But I don't like the daddy either. And not just for personal reasons either. I just don't think he's that great of an NBA coach.
His first head coaching job saw him take the LA Lakers to the NBA Finals...where they eventually lost to the Bulls. Anyone who watched that team knows how truly valuable some guy named Magic Johnson was. It was Magic who held the team together and who got more out of guys like Vlade Divac and Elden Campbell. Magic retired, and he scraped the team into the playoffs....then bolted to Milwaukee. In Milwaukee [a franchise that had a pretty good history of consistent playoff appearances], he tanked. In his four seasons as the Bucks coach, only ONCE did his team win more than 28 games. There were no playoff berths and they never finished higher than 6th in the Central Division.
A year off, he goes to Portland....and he did do an alright job there. Of course, the Blazers spent money widly, bringing in a lot of talent and a lot of experience. In 1999, they were swept by the Spurs in the Western Finals. In 2000, they got to a Game 7 of the Western Finals against the Lakers. Holding a 15 point lead in that quarter....Dunleavy helmed one of the biggest choke jobs in playoff history. The Lakers stormed back...won the game...and Portland went home empty handed. The next year, the team underperformed, were swept in the first round, and Dunleavy was shown the door.
Now as the Clipper coach, he's doing the same thing. He does get kudos. He got the Clippers into the postseason. But he made several boneheaded moves during the playoffs....mainly against the Suns. In a game the Clippers had in the bank, Dunleavy inserts Daniel Ewing...a rookie from, surprise,Dook....to come in and guard Raja Bell. Now, Ewing played a total of 18 seconds leading up to that play....and all of that was in the first half. In doing so, Dunleavy put a smaller, weaker, less experienced player on Bell....instead of a taller, stronger, veteran player like Cuttino Mobley.
Bell shoved Ewing aside...stepped behind the three point line...and hit the shot that sent that game into overtime. The Suns won that game...and eventually the series. In another game that the Clipps had a great chance of winning....Dunleavy sat his best guard, Sam Cassell, nearly all of the 4th quarter. Huh?
I DON'T LIKE FLIP SAUNDERS: Saunders was the most successful coach in Minnesota Timberwolves history [not that that's saying much]...but he got run when the team completely melted down. Since he's left....the team hasn't gotten any better. In fact, they are worse and their star Kevin Garnett is getting a bit angry.
He moves over to Detroit...and looks like a saint. Not only do the Wolves stagnant demise show that it isn't totally his fault....but he actually elevated the play of the Pistons from their two-time Eastern champion era. Not only were they still good defensively....they could play a bit of offense, too. They 'cruised' to the NBA's top record...while the man he replaced, Larry Brown, 'cruised' to the worst record in the East with the Knicks. Now, in the playoffs....he's seemingly hitting all the wrong notes. The team is coming apart, a bit....and it seems that Saunders doesn't know how to keep them together. And remember....the Pistons are supposed to be the embodiment of "team"....right?
Look, I still like them to win the whole thing....just because they are the ONLY team left that can actually expect to get a defensive stop when needed. But, you gotta be able to score, too.
I RESPECT MARK CUBAN.....A LITTLE: Sure, he mouths off about everything, cries when things don't go his way and he's the kind of brash guy that just rubs everyone the wrong way. But, he's the gazillionaire owner that rolls with his team. I like that. He doesn't sit way up in the owners box like some owners. Heck, some owners don't even show up to the games! He doesn't just sit up front...he sits close to his team...and cheers them on. EVEN ON THE ROAD! And he does so wearing Mavs gear.
Now, that doesn't make him a great man, or anything....but I won't crack down on him doing that.
SPEAKING OF THAT, THE MAVS HAVE NADS: I gotta give respect to the Mavs. And, if you knew me in the ol' Laker Board days...you know that's tough. But, Dallas has shown toughness and heart that I have never seen from them. Against the Suns in Game 3....in Phoenix....Dallas was playing with a very volitile situation. The Suns were surging...and Tim Thomas went to the basket when Josh Howard fouled him hard [he was given a flagarant foul for it]. That's a move of a bit of desperation....and there was some testyness in the air. Then, as Thomas was set to shoot the free throws, he walked directly thru the Mavericks team huddling at the top of the three-point line. Mavs' guard Jason Terry shoved him.....Dirk Nowitzki pushed him. There were technicals assessed to Dirk and Thomas. Thomas hit the free throws, and gave the Suns a 10-pt lead.
The Mavericks then went on a 17-2 run.
If not for a complete meltdown in the last 2-3 minutes of Game 1.....the Mavericks would be holding a 3-0 series lead right now. This comes after the Mavericks swept a pretty good Memphis Grizzliesteam....and dethroning the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. In that seried, the Mavs had a 3-1 series lead....lost the next two...then beat the Spurs in Game 7 in San Antonio.