How important is it to have great point guard play in the playoffs? This year, it's seemingly vital, but a few have really caught my eye:
If they waited to award the MVP trophy until after the second season ended, Chris Paul might be walking away with it. He's simply been outstanding, making Jason Kidd look slow and washed up. On the other hand, Chuck Norris would be totally embarrased by the Mavs lack of fight to date. Dallas' defense has been poor, allowing almost as many Paul/Chandler moon shot lob dunks as the Wolves did in their last encounter. The Hornets are a young team, however, so I would hope Dallas tightens up their act and makes a series of it when they get back to Texas. If not, does Cuban blow up his team? Another series loss would make two consecutive first round exits. We embrace mediocrity here in Minnesota, but I would imagine a guy like Cuban isn't going to sit around and become a younger version of Glen Taylor. Paul is a wonder to watch; give him one more solid young player to run with him, and the Hornets are going to stick around for years to come.
Both Tony Parker and Steve Nash have really displayed their ample skills in the Suns-Spurs matchup. Neither can guard the other. Nash has been the more desperate of the two, making spectactular plays to keep his team close; unfortunately, it hasn't been enough. Parker got into the lane with regularity in the last game for easy, short range jumpers. His quickness is amazing, even after taking a Shaq body shot early in Game Two. I was starting to count the Spurs out by the end of the regular season, but these guys show up in the playoffs like no other team. They will be a tough matchup for the other Western Conference teams.
Jameer Nelson wouldn't be my first, second, eighth, or 14th pick for a point guard if I were running a club, but he's been very good for the Magic against Toronto. Nelson scored 24 points on 7-13 shooting, with seven assists in the first game, following up with 18 points and six assists in the second contest. With two 20-20 games, center Dwight Howard has been dominant against the Raps; but Nelson has given them solid perimeter play and has run the team well.
Point guards who have NOT been up to par? Jason Kidd, Mike Bibby, Chauncy Billups. Those three in particular have been underwhelming for their clubs, especially Bibby. It may be more of the Boston defense making him look bad, but Bibby looks done as a major point guard in the league.
It's been a decent bunch of playoff games so far; even the blowouts have had some element of drama to keep my interest. Stay tuned between the Hawks/Celtics matchup, the fourth quarter chippiness between Horford and Garnett in last night's game might carry over to Atlanta for Game Three. Not to be overly critical of KG, but he sure acts like a punk when his team is up by twenty. Psychology or true character?