Saturday, July 2, 2011

Belated 2010 - 2011 NBA season Recap - part 2


5. Derrick Rose: Chicago under ex Boston coach Tom Thibdeau, claimed the number one over all seed At 62 - 20 for 2010 -2011. This was a team that improved in the early part of the regular season and then just went over the top, pushing past the Heat and Celtics. Sure Noah, Boozer, Deng, Asik, Gibson, Watson are all very good players but one man literally held them and every success together - Derrick Rose. Averaging 25 PPG, 7.7 APG and 4.1 RPG he literally grabbed the League MVP trophy and ran away with it. No - he is not a robber, it season was just that decisive. The Bulls looked like a lock for the finals, that was until the heat figured out how to play together and used a 6’8” LeBron to guard a 6’3” Rose. Containing Rose even a little bit exposed the lack of secondary scoring that led to the Bulls down fall in 5 games of the Eastern Conference finals. But I will say this; every regular season Bulls game I watched always involved me at some point rewinding the Tivo to study Derrick Rose before the coverage went to the slow-mo replay.  Several times. I seriously had to watch it again to fathom the speed and strength with which Rose possesses. It is almost unbelieveable.

4. Kevin Love 31 / 31 game: On November 12th 2010 a Knicks vs Wolves game made news. Yeah, I know how that sounds, was there a bomb threat? Did a celebrity sing ‘Star Spangled Banner off key? No - Kevin Love amassed 31 pts and 31 rebs to help his lowly Wolves rally from 21 down past a then Carmello-less Knick team. To put it into perspective no player in the NBA has surpassed that statistical mark since Moses Malone got 32 pts and ...wait for it...38 boards (DAMNN!) for the Houston Rockets  vs Seattle way back in 1982. When the T-Wolves coach (Kurt Rambis) said "Those numbers are just stupid. I don't even know what to say." you know it was really something. 

3. BLAKE GRIFFIN: So much has been said about ‘the Blakenator’. So I am just going to write a series of short sentences frequently using full stops to be dramatic. He won a dunk contest jumping over a car. November 20, 2010; he dunked on all the Knicks pretty much on his way to 44pts and 15 rebs in a loss but made the best slam of the year in that game. He has lead in double figures points and rebounds in both categories for the Clippers in at least 10 games, and topped either points or rebounds in many others. He played in the rookie challenge and all star game. Did I mention the Car? Yes. January 16th ,2011: He got 18pts and 15 rebound to beat the Lakers and snap their 7 game win streak (I put this in because Clippers and Boston fans share a hatred of this team). He’s making Clippers home games more attractive. He won Rookie of the Year half way through the season (well, not really but it felt like that). His play embodies the best parts of Karl Malone and Charles Barkley’s skill set. He is the future of the NBA. And he is damn fun to watch.

2.Rondo all year and then especially in game 3 vs the Heat: In the big three era I have often compared the team to a boxer. I am no pugilist but but I know my Rocky movies, and the Celtics have come to resemble the lovable and fictional sports hero Rocky Balboa. Last year, the celtics made the most inexplicable run after a really ordinary regular season. Then, bang Miami in 5, Cleveland in 6, Orlando in 6 then the finals. It was like Rocky beating Clubber Lang (being how they played in the play offs) after getting pummeled by him in the first match up (being how they played in 2nd half of the regular season regular season). So does that make Doc Rivers Apollo Creed? Unfortunately they didn’t know when or how to stay down, running on empty while taking the Lakers 7 games within 6 points of a title (It still hurts to say that).
As the we go from the big three era, to the post big three era Rondo is now well and truly the head and heart of this team. He will captain this team after Paul Pierce retires. As has been said before by smarter people than me - ‘As Rondo goes, so go the Celtics’. Rondo came out starting this season throwing out assists like crazy and to quote what I wrote on December 5th 2010  - He was devastating during the later half of the year with some lapses, but he is down right incredible now. Posting between 10 and 24 assists in the first ten games, Rondo leads all NBA players with an average of 14.9 per game. That’s very nearly five clear of Jason Kidd. Wow. It also helped that Shaq could catch every thing he threw any where near the rim.
As the season went on the play settled into a less frenetic model of consistency, but still fairly fast paced and impressive. Then the Perkins trade came and altered the landscape of team chemistry on the Celtics team. Rondo lost arguably his closest friend on the team. And understandably hit a slump in production and general play. The team spiraled losing games they could have won. As Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. He finished the year averaging 10.6 pts 11.2 apg 4.4 reb and regaining form quickly. Knicks first round 4 - 0. It all looked really good. The Celtics had beaten the Heat 3 - 1 in the regular season. It just took the Heat that long to figure it out and hit their game. 2nd round down 2 against a monster gaining strength. Playing at TD Banknorth in front of a home crowd, Rondo hit the floor and Dwayne Wade, dislocating his elbow. It was bad (the picture tells a better story). He went to the locker room. He then came back out a short time later, playing the game and winning it with his team and one good arm. 6 pts 11 ast and 3 rebs, closing out a game 3 and giving hope to fans whilst channeling Willis Reed by biting down and playing hard. Unfortunately two games later Miami went on to play Chicago in the conference finals and Boston was an afterthought.
In that 3rd game Rondo proved that he was the leader of the Celtics from now on. It would take more than pain to stop him. A dislocated elbow was an inconvenience. His toughness was as resolute as his will to win. In the post game interview the reporter is stressing the the fact his injury was serious. You can see it in his eyes, he would have played another game there and then. Unbelievable.    

1. The triumphant Dallas Mavericks: Here we find ourselves at my favorite moment for 2010 - 2011. But to call it a single moment is a misnomer. The Dallas Mavericks victory over the Miami Heat in 6 games was more of a trickling different factors and momentum cascading into a 3 game domination and consequent supreme victory. It wasn’t just the Mavs clawing back to even the series at 2 -2, but that was cool. It wasn’t Nowitski playing with flu and looking like death warmed up and still beating a bunch of guys who thought it was funny to be that sick and still play, but who lost the game to that same unwell guy? I could sight stats, but the only two things I need mention; 27 pts per game and Dirk. A perennial all star and possibly one of the best forwards to play the game - Dirk Nowitski simply owned the play offs. Not just owning one team, but all the teams the Mavs played. On scarily 12 deep Dallas team, he is the cut above. The closer. He was simply transcendent - peaking in the final 6th game and leaving a legacy. A real legacy where you go out and play at such a level people talk about it, like you are breaking the laws of physics. Not a Miami legacy where you talk about winning multiple titles at a big party that masquerades as a player introduction - before the 2010 - 2011 season even started (see ‘Belated 2010 - 2011 NBA Season Recap Part 1’ No 7. the Miami Heat etc - that bit I mentioned about character). What Dirk accomplished would not have been possible without the calibre of team mates he had. Chandler, Kidd, Terry, Stevenson, Barea. Hell even Cardinal and Mahinmi played at that championship level. For me though, to pick a moment, from all those that came together in the 2010 - 2011 finals was the last minutes of  game 5. Not because of the amazing scoring run, the sheer excitement and awesomeness   but the look in Jose Jaun Barea eyes when he sank those threes. Determination and will forged in fire is the closest thing I can think of - but you had to see it. That is when i knew the Mavs would win the next game. That is when the title was theirs.


There you go. Done. Green and White for Life.

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