It's hump day, and Basketbawful is here to mount your leg in celebration. Oh, and I'll be previewing tonight's games, too.
Utah versus L.A.: Game 2
Kobe Bryant. Congratulations to the Black Mamba for finally winning his first
Lifetime Achievement Award
MVP. It's been 12 years, thousands of jumpers, and several teammates/coaches/GMs thrown under the bus in the making. Put your hands together for Kobe Bryant, ladies and gentlemen! Random note: According to Carlos Boozer, "If we can go out there and ruin [Kobe's MVP] party a little bit by getting a victory, that helps us a lot." Thanks so much, Captain Obvious.
The free throw line. The Lakers were spoon-fed on the line in Game 1(46 attempts), particularly Kobe, who connected on a franchise playoff-record 21 in 23 attempts. Some would say this is because the Jazz are a physical, bump-and-grind team that makes opponents pay for their forays into the paint. Others would argue that it's because Kobe is allowed to forearm and elbow his way to the basket and then gets a favorable whistle whenever he misses a shot. But you know, truth is subjective, so make your own decision. Random note: According to Carlos Boozer, "If we can keep [Kobe] off the line, that would help us a lot." Thanks again, Captain Obvious. Keep this up and I'm promoting you to General Obvious.
The field. The Jazz were way off the mark in Game 1 — 37.9 percent shooting — and they'll probably need to, you know, hit some shots if they want to compete in Game 2. Andrei Kirilenko's good looks will only get them so far. According to Carlos Boozer, "We've got to make some adjustments." Yup. General Obvious.
The boards. Utah bullied their way to some serious rebounding dominance in the first game of this series: 58-41, including 25-8 on the offensive glass. Memo to the Lakers: Giving up 25 offensive rebounds is usually a problem.
Hands and feet. You know how the Lakers got 46 free throws? That's because the Jazz played defense like a drunken octopus, and their wooden limbs hacked and slashed their way to 34 personal fouls.
Carlos Boozer. Is Carlos in a mini-slump? Here are his shooting performances from Utah's last four playoff games: 6-for-14, 6-for-17, 8-for-18 and 3-for-13. Sure seems like it to me. Random note: According to Carlos Boozer, "I'd love for us to go out there and get a win. For us to come back (to Utah) with a split would be much better than coming back here 0-2." Carlos Boozer...a four-star General Obvious.
Orlando versus Detroit: Game 3
The game clock. I would be willing to bet one million Basketbawful bucks there won't be any clock malfunctions in Game 3. What do you think?
Reverse stat curse. Orlando has lost nine straight playoff games to Detroit, including both last year's 4-0 first-round sweep that 2003 series in which the Pistons took the last three games to overcame a 3-1 deficit. One more loss would tie the Magic with three other teams for the second-longest postseason losing streak to one team in NBA history. There's no way Orlando is going to fall victim to that kind of obscure statistical anomaly...right?
Ball control. The Magic need some. Badly. They turned the rock over 19 times in Game 2 — Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu combined for 17 of them — and those bumbles transformed into 22 Pistons points. According to Jameer Nelson, "When you turn the ball over you aren't giving yourself a chance." Look out, Carlos. Jameer might have his eye on your generalship.
Dwight Howard's thumb. Superman deep-sixed his ditched his thumb brace because he couldn't grip the ball. "There were a lot of passes and rebounds that slipped right out of my hand. It was fine in practice the other day, but before the game the ball was slippery, and I just had to get rid of it." Huh. It'll be interesting to see whether the thumb effects him tonight.
Jason Maxiell. Stan Van Gundy opted to leave Mad Maximus open in Game 2, and the kid went 5-for-5...shades of Caldwell Jones in Game 2 of the 1982 Eastern Conference Finals. And I'm betting I'm the only person who would have thought of that. Never mind. Anyway, I'm guessing the bro' of Van Ghouly will instruct his players to get a hand in Maxiell's face going forward.
Hair power. This was sent in by Deadspin reader Ben: "Detroit Pistons FACTS!
— Samuel Dalembert got a funny mohawk before game 4 of the Pistons-Sixers series.
— JJ Redick has a mohawk that is funny in a different way.
— The Pistons are undefeated in the 2008 playoffs against Mohawk Teams.
You read it here first. The Magic need to steal Redick's hair gel or shave his head. Otherwise, this series is over in four.