The NBA conference finals will have to wait as the Rockets showed some guts last night while the Lakers appeared to shelve their fight for Game 7 on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Celtics were close to closing out Orlando, but the Magic dug deep in the fourth quarter to force a Game 7 in Boston. That's a pretty tasty double-header to look forward to on Sunday.
Here are some links of interest while waiting for Game 7 Sunday:
- Bruno breaks down the Pacers' power forward position. This is another position where there isn't a lot of "there" there. Troy Murphy had an incredible season and we know he can score and rebound, but Murph doesn't exactly bring the power to the position. After Murph, the Pacers are hoping to bring back a developing Josh McRoberts. Mac always brings great energy to the floor but he's a young player that still needs to develop the physical and mental facets of his NBA game. And then there's...well, that's it. Through draft, trade or inexpensive free agent, the Pacers will be looking to add another power forward with a more traditional skill set focused on defending the paint.
- The Orlando Magic found a way to close out a tight win over the Celtics last night. Strange as it sounds, the Magic control this series for better or worse because of their talent. The Celtics have proven heroes in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen along with role players saddled with plenty of guts to step up in crunch time (re: Big Baby Davis and Eddie House). The Magic have struggled to find anyone willing to step up and make those big plays when both teams are all in and the game is on the line. Even in the win last night, it took numerous possessions for the Magic to get over the hump and take the lead. Once they let loose and just play, the talent can take over. Game 7 at Boston will be huge in the development of the Magic as a team that appears to trying to develop heroes to become more than just super-talented and fun to watch. Right now they remind me of the Sacramento Kings teams from earlier in this decade that just couldn't make the plays to push past the Lakers even though they were there for the taking. Third Quarter Collapse and Celtics Blog have tons of great stuff from writers paying close attention to both sides.
- The Rockets didn't lay down last night and I don't expect them to go down in LA in Game 7 without a fight, either. The problem for Houston, though, is that Kobe Bryant will be stewing in the juices of that stinker for two days. A 20 to 30-point blowout for the Lakers is entirely likely. But that sells the Rockets short and with low expectations, Houston can let it all hang out which could be dangerous. Aaron Brooks, Chuck Hayes and Luis Landry don't look like much on paper, but the Lakers can no longer sleep on these guys and expect to eventually overwhelm them to advance. Ronnie Artest will make sure Game 7 is edgy and under the bright lights in L.A. the varied possibilities for what Ronnie will bring to this game are incalculable. Literally, Ronnie could expose us to something never before seen during a NBA playoff game and it could land at either end of the good/bad continuum. Can't wait. Until then check in with the SB Nation coverage at The Dream Shake and Silver Screen and Roll.
- A case for the Commish to help the Pacers in the NBA Draft lottery.