Happy long weekend, folks. The sun is out and I feel like a blog post. Last night the Spurs beat the Lakers 103-84 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, a development that might be characterized as "unsurprising." In case you haven't notied, the Spurs seem to have a knack for winning when they need to (just ask the Hornets... oh, wait, they're no longer available for comment), and last night clearly qualified as one of those situations. It'll be interesting to see if they can pull the same stuff with the Lakers, who allegedly have more "experience" than the Hornets, or at the very least a better coach. Manu Ginobili scored 30 points, Duncan went for 22 and 21 and oh sweet lord I'm trying so hard not to strangle myself as I write this. I don't want to say that I'm rooting for the Lakers in this series, because I don't think that's entirely possible for me, but let's just say my desire for a Spurs-less finals isn't exactly dwindling as the hour approaches. It's been pointed out to me numerous times that the Spurs are simply the New England Patriots of the NBA, that the way I feel towards the Spurs, namely that they're an infuriating combination of dull and dirty, is precisely the way the rest of America feels about the Pats. I accept this point, and were I in the position to make a Belichickian non-apology to the rest of America for the Pats' Spursiness, perhaps I would. Hey, at least we didn't win it this year.
Anyways, where was I... ah yes, the Lakers. This provides a workable segue into another unsurprising-though-no-less-irritating development this morning, namely a classic Dan Shaughnessy sleepwalk that appears in today's Globe sports section. I have to be honest, I've actually been fairly okay with Shaughnessy during this NBA playoffs: forced into C's duty due to the unfortunate departure of Jackie MacMullan, I feel like his basketball writing is refreshingly free of the stultifying self-importance that's plagued his baseball writing for the past ten years or so. Nonetheless, as anyone who's read his Sox writing is aware, Shaughnessy basically has two types of fallback columns when he runs out of insightful shit to write: the rip and the jinx. The rip is obvious enough, and can be quite directly explained as just CHB being CHB. The jinx is less common but still pretty pervasive, and consists of Shaughnessy actively making the sort of hasty, presumptuous, ill-conceived statement that everyone who has ever followed sports knows you should never make. It's not even superstition, more just common courtesy; propriety, even. The happiest instance of this was when, in 2004, he flatly declared the Sox dead in the water during the ALCS, thus tempting fate for the side of good. A notable unhappy instance would be his column the following year in which he flatly declared, sometime in July, that the Yankees had absolutely no shot at winning the AL East that year (and guess what happened). These sorts of things are absolute anathema to Sox fans, and CHB clearly, clearly does them solely to piss people off.
Well, congratulations, Dan: on this fine morning you have accomplished your mission. I'm not entirely sure why he's decided that right now is a great time to write his "imagine if the Lakers and Celtics were in the Finals together!" column--it seems like he could have at least waited until the C's had won a third game--but this little musing is barely worth the modicum of space it's taking up on the Globe's server. I was hoping that the headline was a Battlestar Galactica reference--any sort of silver lining would be nice--but I unfortunately don't think it is. A column like this is already obnoxious coming from a guy who only a few days ago was hysterically proclaiming the Celtics as doomed to failure, but the real problem with it is that it's just airy garbage, and makes you wonder what sort of bullshit we're going to have to endure if everyone's dream finals matchup comes to fruition. I mean, I'm not sure how many nostalgia-wads CHB's got in his holster, but I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg, and can you imagine Bob Ryan if this shit goes down? We're gonna be getting 8,000-word profiles of Scott Wedman written in M.L. Carr's tears.
Anyways, wah wah wah, I'll shut the fuck up now. I feel like I should address Tim's recent comments about the Draft, if only because discussing the NBA Draft in late May is invariably one of the more enjoyable activities of the sports year; I'm not entirely sure why that's the case, but it just is. A few months ago I declared that, were I holding the top pick in this year's draft, I'd think long and hard about selecting Beasley over Rose, and I stand by that claim, even though Beasley does superficially seem a better fit for the Bulls, who already have a respectable point guard in Kirk Hinrich. I'd hasten to point out, though, that this was part of the logic that led the Bucks to draft Andrew Bogut over Chris Paul and Deron Williams (they already had T.J. Ford), and I'm guessing most Milwaukee fans/management/anyone-other-than-Bogut-himself wishes that they could have that decision back. The big thing I'd be on the lookout for is the Bulls trying to shop the pick: the beautiful thing about their situation is that while either Rose or Beasley would be super-nice to have, the Bulls don't desperately need either of them, and if there are teams out there who are convinced that they do desperately need one of them, well, Chicago's in a good position to potentially fleece someone looking to overreach on some rookie who, as Tim's pointed out, will probably be neither an Oden nor a Durant, let alone a Chris Paul.
This leads me to another discussion, whether or not this is really a two-player draft. Again, I'd have to agree with Tim that this angle's been overplayed. Chad Ford's got an O.J. Mayo boner that won't quit, and while Chad's track record on these things isn't uniformly pristine (the Pavel Podkolzine affair, anyone?), it's strong enough that we should take him seriously. Ford seems to think Mayo could be the most complete player in the Draft, and there's rumors out of Miami that the Heat prefer him to whomever conventional wisdom suggests they ought to take with the second pick. I'm not entirely sold on the prospects of a Mayo-Wade backcourt, but whatever.
Truthfully I haven't watched enough NCAA ball this year to have a real solid grip on who could do what in the pros. I do think that Beasley and Rose are the two best players, though I'm not convinced either has superduperstar potential (though again, I'd say Rose more than Beasley), and I definitely don't think the gap between, say, Beasley and Mayo is as wide as the gap between Durant and Mike Conley. We'll see, I guess; I do think that the potential for trades (or at least trade rumors) in the run-up to this year's draft will be pretty huge, just because there appears to be so little consensus on whose stock is where.
Anyways, I'm tapped out. Enjoy the holiday. Might the Celtics go up 3-1 tonight? The heart flutters at the thought.