PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – SEPTEMBER 4
By Leo Haggerty

PROGRESS IN THE DISNEY BUBBLE

The National Basketball Association has moved on to the semifinal round of their post-season playoffs.  Let’s take a quick look at what is transpiring in the “Disney bubble,” shall we?

Starting with the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat has been the surprise of the entire Association.  After dispatching the 4th-seeded Indiana Pacers in four straight, the 5th-seeded Heat have the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks on the ropes.  Miami took a commanding 3-0 series lead with a 115-100 trouncing of the Bucks.  The Heat can accomplish their second straight sweep by topping Milwaukee on Sunday.

In the other East semifinal series, the defending NBA champion and 2nd-seed Toronto Raptors edged the 3rd-seed Boston Celtics 104-103.  This cut the Celts series lead to 2-1 but it called for some last-second heroics to keep the team from the North from going down 3-0.

After Boston took a two-point lead when the Celtics Kemba Walker fed Daniel Theis for a dunk with half a second left in regulation, the fireworks started.  The Raptors Kyle Lowry hit O.G. Anunoby with a perfect cross-court inbounds pass behind the line.  OG made no mistake and sank the three-pointer as time expired to keep Toronto from dropping the first three contests to Boston.  Game 4 is slated for today.

Moving to the Western Conference, the 4th-seeded Houston Rockets found a way to get by the Oklahoma City Thunder in an extremely hard-fought seven games by a count of 104-102.  Their reward for that effort was the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.

The Rockets, playing two days later against a well-rested Lakers squad, surprised LA by the score of 112-97.  That gave Houston the opening contest with Game 2 scheduled for Sunday.

A similar scenario in the other West semifinal but with a far different result.  The 3rd-seeded Denver Nuggets Nuggets squeaked by the Utah Jazz 80-78 in Game 7.  Their next opponent is the other Los Angeles franchise and that’s the 2nd-seeded Clippers.

The Nuggets, playing two days after advancing to the next round like the Rockets, were no match for the Clippers.  Los Angeles steamrolled a very tired Denver squad 120-97 in the series opener.  Game 2 is set for tonight and you can expect a much better performance from the Mile High guys.

If your a fan of the NBA, look for the intensity level to get kicked up a notch especially on defense, as the playoffs advance.  Don’t look for any more 140-135 games because every possession now becomes critical.  It’s win or go home time.

I’m thinking scores will be more in the 90’s to low 100’s for the winners and the loser within striking distance up to the end.  That makes for great, as well as watchable, basketball.  Enjoy.