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To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'

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2nd Round of the NBA Playoffs Preview and The Deadliest Warrior

May 5, 2009

As I watched the first round of the playoffs, I often found myself flipping channels between the games and Spike TV's The Deadliest Warrior.  On The Deadliest Warrior, experts are called in to demonstrate what weapons from different historical periods and regions can exact the most damage on the human body.  Each episode basically amounts to a bunch of grown men chopping at mannequins and pig flesh with swords and saying lines like, "Dude, this sword would totally kill a man.  It cut right to the spine."  Thank you, I'm glad we figured out swords are sharp.  

They also shoot arrows and fire slingshots at mannequins.  The thing I don't get is that they always seem to be firing from fifteen feet away. It seems to me one might use a bow and arrow from farther away.  I don't know.  It just seems to me that an Apache warrior might realize that he can fire his arrow a lot farther than his gladiator opponent can throw a spear, but I don't think The Deadliest Warrior computer program takes strategy into account, which makes it the perfect vehicle to discuss the second round of the NBA playoffs because a lot of NBA coaches don't take strategy into account either.  

So far, the show has aired four episodes, and we've got four second round matchups.  If that's not fate, I don't know what is. 

Western Conference

Lakers vs. Rockets

This matchup reminds me of the Apache vs. Gladiator episode of The Deadliest Warrior.  The Lakers would have to be the Apache warriors.  It was clear from watching the episode that the Apaches were the swifter set of warriors, as well as the more versatile of the two.  The Lakers are the more versatile basketball team.  They have perhaps the deadliest scorer in the game, in Kobe Bryant--their bow and arrow--and they've got Pau Gasol, who like a tomahawk can be used at long and short ranges, meaning he might just be the most versatile big man in the league right now.  This team also has a knife in wing man Trevor Ariza, and a war club in Andrew Bynum, which may not be a good thing because the war club didn't do anything against the gladiator armor on the show.  I think it might have even shattered, kind of like Bynum's knees at this point in his career.

That's right, the Houston Rockets are Roman Gladiators.  Yeah, it almost seems to perfect, considering this team has Ron Artest, but it works.  I mean, this team kind of feels like Houston went out and found a bunch of basketball players and just threw them in the round, saying survive.  T-Mac and Rafer Alston were casualties of the Coliseum, but the rest of Houston's roster has continued battling.  Yao Ming may be proving to be the Rockets' Russell Crowe, giving the Rockets more to fight for than just themselves.  Artest even took time away from knocking Kobe down in his NBA player rankings to say that after ten years in the NBA he now understands teamwork.  

The Lakers will win this series in six games, and I feel confident saying that even after Houston took game one; but it will still be interesting to see how Kobe handles the defense of Battier and Artest.  The teams that have troubled Kobe in past playoffs, when he's had a good team, have always had multiple perimeter defenders to throw at him and a big body or two inside the paint.  Past Spurs, Pistons, and Celtics teams all fit this bill and so do these Rockets.  The wild card in this series is Houston point guard Aaron Brooks.  If it helps, Spike TV picked the Apache over the Gladiator also.

Nuggets vs. Mavericks

The Nuggets are Japanese Samurai in this fight, and the Mavericks are Norse Vikings, which seems fitting sense they're led by the Big Nordic Dirk Nowitzki.  On The Deadliest Warrior, the Samurai won this fight.  I think they'll win it in the NBA also.  The Samurai proved to strong and quick for the Vikings.  Their Kanabo staff obliterated the Viking shield.  The Nuggets have a Katana sword, in Chauncey Billups.  The Nuggets have a Yumi and a fleet of arrows in their array of perimeter scorers: JR Smith and Dauntay Jones.  Carmello Anthony is their Naginata, and their depth on the front line is their Kanabo staff, making Eric Dampier a stiff wooden shield that is about to be obliterated. 

The Mavericks have a Great Axe, a Long Sword, a Spear, and a Shield, and all of them are too slow to play with these Nugget Samurai.  Seriously, think of Nowitzki's trip to the 2006 Finals as the Vikings' voyages to the New World.  They came, and they saw; but they didn't establish anything permanent.  This series goes five games.

Eastern Conference

Cavs vs. Hawks

This Cavs team has paid its dues.  It battled its way through the Pistons a couple years ago to reach the NBA Finals, where it was schooled by a better and smarter Spurs team.  Last year, they were outlasted by a Celtics team with a greater sense of urgency.  This team has been preparing for what seems like a lifetime to seize this moment, and their team seems defined by a singularity of purpose that can only come from a training regimen they have endured together.  This Cavs team is as strong as three hundred Spartans, and, unlike in the film, they only have to defeat a dozen Hawks, not a half million Persians.  With that said, this series should be entertaining.  

The Hawks are Ninjas, which means they are assassins and like assassins prefer to lurk in the shadows.  Last year, they nearly slit the throat of the Celtics in the first round.  I haven't heard a lot of people mention it, but both the Hawks and the Cavs took the eventual champions to seven games last year, which is more than either last year's Pistons or Lakers can say.  These Ninja Hawks are athletic, and their parts seem almost interchangeable at times.  The problem is these Hawks do not have the advantage of the sneak attack this year.  They may temporarily blind the Cavs, with black eggs, for a game or two, but, ultimately, they'll never get close enough to the Cavs to deliver a death blow.  The Cavs win in six.  

Celtics vs. Magic

The Celtics are the older team.  The Celtics are the team that because of their championship pedigree is in possession of nobility.  The Celtics are the knights of this matchup, defending their kingdom.  The Magic, on the other hand, are attempting to raid the Boston throne, while King Garnet sleeps.  Stan Van Gundy is leading his Orlando team into Boston like a drunken pirate captain.  He has the facial hair for the part, and if you need further convincing, then just picture his brother squawking from Stan's shoulder.  The Magic are hoping that their use of gunpowder and bullets, Dwight Howard, proves too much for a banged up Celtics frontline, a missing Garnet is not the only chink in the armor--Leon Powe is banged up also. 

 The problem for the Magic is that while they have the clear advantage inside the Celtics have the clear advantage on the perimeter.  Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce are far and away better than Rafer Alston, JJ Redick, and a beat up Turkoglu.  I want to pick the Magic, but I just feel like they don't have the heart to win this series.  Pirates get drunk and screw.  It's what they do, and they don't belong to anything, except a ship, which is a nomadic vehicle.  These pirates, I fear, do not have the staying power nor the focus to permanently rule a kingdom, even if it is missing its king.  Plus, why the hell would a knight go to sea and fight a pirate anyway?  It doesn't even make sense.  Celtics win in seven. 

PS Check out The Deadliest Warrior.  If anything, it'll remind one of the days when one was young and strapped plastic dinosaurs and toy cars to firecrackers just to see what happens.


Langston said...

I like the comparison and I can't disagree with picks. II wonder if they will do a show involving modern warriors. Because I could see Steven Jackson and Monta Ellis doing some real damage on a battlefield.

May 6, 2009 at 9:24 AM
Teach said...

I already regret the Boston pick. I really think I've had too much of the Rondo flavored kool-aid, which actually sounds like a real flavor.

May 6, 2009 at 7:26 PM

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