Well the Blackhawks are up 2-0, but just by a hair. Game 1 was an 11 goal mistake-fest. Game 2 was a 3 goal squeaker.
CHICAGO 2, PHILADELPHIA 1 (Blackhawks lead series 2-0)
The difference was goaltending. Leighton was good, not great. Niemi was stellar. He carried the Blackhawks in the 3rd period, as Philly bombarded him with shots from all angles. But to be honest, Chicago should be worried. Maybe not worried. Concerned. They looked a lot like the Bruins in that 3rd period. Hesitant, cautious, careful. It's one thing to be conservative, it's another to be so scared to make a bad pass that you keep the puck in a bad spot, allowing your opponent to force a turnover and breakaway up ice.
But I'll give credit to Philly for that too. They're aggressive. Defensive zone faceoff with 19 seconds left and Laviolette keeps Leighton on the bench. Man that was awesome. And if Chicago wants to win this series, they'll have to be aggressive when they're leading, not passive.
And by the way, both Pronger and Ben Eager received 10 minute penalties at the conclusion of regulation. I didn't see what happened, but I doubt there will be any disciplinary repercussions.
Game 3 Wednesday night on NBC.
PS: Michael Jordan's people changed the skates on his statue from Reeboks to Nikes.
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
The parallels were eventually inescapable. Although the National Sports Media did bandy the story about quite prematurely (they talked about a 3-0 collapse after the Celtics won Game 3, a bit early, don't ya think?). But the Celtics aren't the Bruins. Nor are the Magic akin to the Flyers.
And beating Orlando, the 2nd seed in the East, is an accomplishment that should be appreciated. The C's won 2 games down in Florida. And guess what, it's taken them fewer games to get to the Finals than it did in '08 (17 to 20).
Game 6 was a team-effort-victory, something the individually oriented clubs in the East (the Cleveland LeBrons, the Miami Wades, the Orlando Howards) simply couldn't match.
Dwight Howard did have 28 points. But none of his mates had more than 20. Only two others scored in double digits, as the Celtics' defense stuffed the Magcis' vaunted 3-point offense, challenging the deep shots, and forcing the Magic to play a professional offense.
The C's, for their part, hit their shots, especially their 3-pointers (10 for 22 as a team). Pierce was still on fire, scoring 31 points, including four 3-pointers. Ray Allen quietly amassed 20 points, KG somehow managed 10.
Rajon Rondo "only" had 14, but they all came early, when the Celtics' offense was still struggling. He was a one-man fastbreak and aggressively penetrated the Magics' defensive core. Then he fell awkwardly on his butt, and it was Nate Robinson time.
Have you ever seen anyone as fired up as Robinson got? It was borderline obnoxious, especially his post-foul jubilations. But he got the job done, allowing Rondo to lie belly-down on the sidelines without jeopardizing the lead. In 13 minutes, Robinson had 13 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists.
All this being said, Kevin Garnett had a forgettable game. The only thing memorable was one of the dumbest fouls you'll see in NBA Playoff history. Just chopping down on a guy's arm. Twice! Right in front of the referee. Although why didn't the ref call it the first time? NBA refs are cowards.
KG needs to improve if the Celtics want to beat LA. But how much can he improve? How much of his recent mediocrity is due to his health? That's a question which will need to be answered on the court starting Thursday.
Celtics vs. Lakers