Basketbawful is here to do the Hump-day Hump. Which isn't as dirty as it sounds. Unless giving you tonight's NBA playoff preview can be considered pornographic.
Cleveland versus Boston: Game 5
Home sweet home, Part I. As stoppable as the Celtics have been on the road, they've been just as unstoppable at home. Everybody keeps saying that Boston has to win on the road to advance, but the reality is ... they really don't. That's what having homecourt advantage is all about. I'm starting to think that Doc Rivers should stop playing his starters on the road and just save their legs for the home games.
Private Obvious. According to Paul Pierce: "The key is winning the series. Whether it's at home or on the road, you just try to win it." Thanks for that, Paul. In other news, the key to living is not dying.
LeBron's shooting eye. Did somebody poke it with a stick? King James is shooting 26 percent for the series. Of course, if somebody had told me that James would be shooting that poorly through four games, I never would have guessed the series would be tied. And yes, that's kind of a bad sign for the Celtics. I mean, what if he actually breaks out of his slump?
Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Check it: The Z-Man played better in Boston than he did in Cleveland. Is it because his great-great grandfather was half-leprechaun? We may never know.
Paul Pierce. He's wearing himself out guarding LeBron James, and there's no question it's affecting his offense. But what choice does Doc Rivers have? Play James Posey for 40+ minutes? No, seriously.
Wally Szczerbiak. He had a couple "comeback" games in Cleveland, scoring 16 and 14 points and shooting a combined 10-for-21. If he keeps playing like that, I might actually have to stop comparing him to Larry Hughes.
Ray Allen. It's like he aged five years when the playoffs started. Ray-Ray is really struggling to get open for anything, and when he does get open he's forcing the shots. Did he lose half-a-step or is the problem that Doc Rivers can't orchestrate an effective offense? I have no idea. (It's all Doc.)
Anderson Varejao. He had a good Game 4 — 12 points, 6-for-8 shooting, 6 rebounds. Why, he even hit a jumper! Did the cork come out of the bottle his game has been trapped in? I doubt it. But if so, maybe Andy can give the Cavs everything they hoped Ben Wallace would.
Utah versus L.A.: Game 5
Home sweet home, Part II. Like the Celtics, the Lakers haven't lost at home in the postseason. (Of course, unlike the Celtics, they've won a pair of road games.) L.A. also got some serious benefit of the doubt from the officials in Games 1 and 2, to the tune of 89 free throw attempts. Strange how that changed in Utah (the Jazz enjoyed a 45-25 freethrhow advantage in Game 4). I have a feeling that 1) the Lakers will get loooots of FTs in Game 5 and 2) Derek Fisher will once again be allowed to lay hands on Deron Williams.
Kobe's back. Call me cynical, but I think that Mamba's back injury has been way overblown. But that won't stop the media from having a full-blown freakout if he plays well in Game 5. My prediction: If Mamba scores more than 30 points and the Lakers win, the resulting mediagasm might destroy us all.
Kobe's mind. Assuming Mamba's back really is sore, how will he deal with it during the game? "I think the key is to know what you can and can't do. I kind of know what I can and can't do." Well, that clears that up.
Kobe's drama. Leave it to Mamba to milk this injury for all it's worth. Said Mamba: "Sleeping's tough. This car ride home is going to be a beast, sitting in traffic." This kind of reminds me of all that drama surrounding Jordan's famous flu game, where we were supposed to believe that Mike "hardly had the strength to sit up in bed" but still managed to score 38 points. Strangely, nobody has ever pointed out that those two contradictory "facts" make no sense at all. Which means that if Kobe drops a huge load on the Jazz, nobody will point out that he was supposed to have been too sore to sleep or drive.
Kobe's man love. Kobe hearts Deron Williams. "I love him. He's one of my favorite players in the league. I love his toughness, I love his skill." Speaking of Deron...
John Stockton Deron Williams and Karl Malone Carlos Boozer. The only way the Jazz will ever break through on the road is if both of these guys have a great game. Not good games, not one great game and one okay game, I'm talking two great games. That hasn't happened on the road during the playoffs. I'm not sure that's happened on the road this year.
Matt Harpring's math madness. "To win the series, we have to win on the road. So we haven't gotten anywhere yet. The series is basically 0-0 and now it's the best two-out-of-three." I love it when basketball players try to simplify things for us.
Phil Jackson's ultra-violence. "I personally am for the cut-slash game. I like speed. Our team is long, lanky, lean. You've got to beat the opponent to the punch. You've got to deliver the first blow. That's what I'm telling the guys." Is he talking about basketball or a street fight?